Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Effect of Worrying and What to do About It

An excerpt from my book, The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving:

When it comes to stress we usually like to think that something outside of ourselves has made us be stressed out, and often there IS an outside event that sets the process in motion. However, our reactions to stress actually stem from a very complex interrelationship between our physical heredity or current level of stamina, our thoughts about the situation we are dealing with, our past history, and a multitude of other factors, both environmental and internal. How we perceive the situations we find ourselves in is related to all of the above factors which explains why one person might handle a confused or ill-tempered relative with ease while another dissolves in tears of frustration.

Whenever a person perceives a threat to their well-being (real or imagined) there is a chemical reaction that occurs in the brain. Part of your brain called the hypothalamus sends a signal to your nervous system to release epinephrine and norepinephrine (also known as adrenaline and noradrenaline) and related hormones. The job of these hormones is to prepare you to respond effectively to danger. Your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing rate and muscle tension all increase which is exactly what you need to have the power to fight a battle or run away.

However, in the world of caregiving, many of our challenges are not the kind we can fight or run away from. When stress hormones are not used by the body to cope with an emergency, or released in some other way (see below), they build up. If we go beyond the capacity of our body's ability to cope, a wide assortment of physical ailments result ranging from headaches and stomach upset to heart disease and cancer.

So What Can We Do About This?

Because the source of our stress is often more complex than it might appear on the surface, the process of reducing stress is most effective when it addresses these multiple levels of experience. Here are a few approaches that may work for you. Mix and match at will.

The Physical Approach:
Many people find that the most effective solution is to use those stress chemicals for the purpose they were designed for -- fight or flight. Hit a punching bag, run around the block, do a few jumping jacks, join a dance class, or swing a tennis racket. Do anything that gets your body moving actively at least once or twice a week. My mom's technique was to clean the house. We had the shiniest windows and floors around when she was upset!

The Emotional Approach:
It has been found that the tears of a person crying because they are sad contains stress hormones that are not present in the tears of someone cutting onions so it is theorized that crying is how the body discharges these excessive chemicals. During the release of fear or anger perspiration and respiration may act the same way. So find a safe place, where you won't needlessly hurt the person you care for, and let it out! Cry, laugh, shout. Express how you feel. Sometimes just the process of telling your story to another person who cares can help. Join a support group, call a friend, call a therapist, write in your journal, get on-line and write to a discussion group, pray or talk to God -- do anything that helps you release the tension of struggling emotionally by yourself.

The Do-Something Approach:
My personal favorite stress reduction technique is to do something that will keep me from being stressed by the same situation in the future. If there's something I can change to keep from having to feel these feelings again, I do it if I can. This entails seeking the root cause of your emotional reactions and creating an action plan to address it. For example, if you blow up when stuck in traffic and the reason is that you have so little time to handle your many responsibilities, one solution might be to get help with those chores. Perhaps you can call on family, friends, or community agencies to fill in for you or pay someone to do them.

The Mental Approach:
Sometimes the best way to reduce tension in our lives is to change our mental attitudes and expectations. There is only so much we can do and sometimes there is no great solution to our problems. So then the change we seek is internal. We give up on our preconceived notions of perfection, of how things "have" to be and adapt to how things are instead. Changing negative thought patterns into positive ones takes time and practice but the rewards can make all the difference. Think back to a time when you handled a stressful situation with ease. What was different? Chances are, you were different. For example, one day last week every little thing I tried to do went wrong. I felt aggravated all day long. The next day started out exactly the same way but, instead of fighting it, I burst out laughing. "I give up! This is obviously beyond me -- it must be in the stars, a bad day astrologically!" I normally wouldn't believe that but it changed my attitude and I immediately felt better.

The Spiritual Approach:
Studies indicate that people who have some kind of spiritual focus to their lives cope with stress better and have a higher level of well-being than those who do not. Trusting in a power greater than yourself that you can draw on for guidance and support is the key here. If you have no spiritual beliefs or religious practice, a similar benefit can be attained by cultivating the attitude that the world is basically benign and that by utilizing all your internal and external resources you can handle anything that comes your way.

Paul and I use all the above approaches when working with our various clients. We're all different, why not use whatever works?

And thinking of whatever works, I almost forgot to mention my "Releasing Worry and Fear" flower essence aromatherapy formula. It works wonders and is available on my Mama Love website and in my Etsy shop.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Predatory Behavior Masking as "Sound Business" Really Gets My Goat!

I have a blog post on my Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving blog people might be interested in. It's about a new practice at least once large bank is doing that I think is downright predatory. Buyer beware! If you have an elderly loved one you care about you might want to talk to them about refusing to be duped.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Learning to Trust When You Really Don't Know

The following article is an excerpt from my book The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving, available in my Etsy shop or by buying it from me directly. Even though this article was originally intended for people taking care of a loved one with a dementing illness like Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease or stroke, I think the ideas expressed in it are appropriate for all of us!

The future really isn't in cement and, even though as spiritual counselors Paul and I can often predict what is likely to happen if our clients don't make any changes, there are sometimes multiple factors -- all subject to change-- involved. Typically, we steer people away from psychic predictions and more towards personal empowerment. What's most important to you? What do you want to create? Now that xyz has happened, how can you make the best decisions for all concerned?

In the world of family caregiving, things tend to change on a regular basis. Rather than always trying to predict the future, developing a day-to-day foundation of faith -- trust in the process of life -- is a much better way to begin.
Learning to Trust When You Really Don't Know

I saw a photograph in a funny book I really like called The Meaning Of Life by Bradley Trevor Greive that showed a happy goldfish in a goldfish bowl with plants and pretty rocks. The quote under the photo says something like, “Why do we try so hard to create our own little worlds so we have the illusion of being completely in control of our entire existence... “ The next page shows a cat peering into the goldfish bowl and the caption continues... “when we know with absolute certainty that we are not?”

So many of my clients want me to predict the future and tell them exactly what to do so that they are prepared for every inevitability. Now, truthfully, I far prefer the caregiving clients who want to be prepared in advance to the ones who don’t because it really is easier to put certain safeguards in place before the time a crisis hits. However, we never really can know for sure what’s coming next. Sometimes we go to great lengths to make things work out well and something we never expected, and could never have anticipated, happens and we have to scrap our perfectly designed plan and start over. People who fear this happening can waver back and forth between multiple options, going round and round in circles and putting off the decision for years. There are SO many factors! And they think they have to make the RIGHT decision because how could they ever forgive themselves if it didn’t work out? And on and on.

Yet others go with great uncertainty into the great unknown and something wonderful happens!

I’ve come to depend on the value of both options: planning ahead for the most likely scenarios, knowing how I want to respond to my greatest fears, and then assuming that I DON’T REALLY KNOW how it will turn out. I take a deep breath and ask, “What’s the best thing that could happen if I take this option? Is it worth a chance? Have I covered my bases so I know what to do if I hate how it turns out? Yes? OK, here we go!”

Do I make mistakes and have to reverse direction? Absolutely! Just ask anyone who has ever driven in a car with me! Do I hate it when I do this? Yes! Have the consequences ever been painful? Many times. And yet the learning and growth I experienced from these wrong turns has led to better decisions in the future and sometimes entirely new directions I never would have found otherwise. Great things have happened as a result! So, even though none of us really want to make mistakes, sometimes that’s part of the process that has to happen. That’s what Thomas Edison thought. Here’s what he said about how many times he failed at trying to invent something before getting it right: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

Now I know that taking care of a loved one feels more wrought with anxiety than inventing a lightbulb and you certainly don’t want to make 10,000 wrong turns so call your family caregiving consultant or local social service center to help narrow down the choices. But, to tell you the truth, I very rarely hear about caregiver decisions that are a matter of life or death. Nine times out of ten, the worst that will happen if a wrong turn is made is a few weeks to a month of high emotion while the care receiver and the family get used to something new or have to reverse direction and try something else. It’s inconvenient and highly distressing but then things settle down and a new order to life appears. It’s often worth the pain and distress and, even when it isn’t, people rarely regret having taken a chance to try to do what they felt was right. At least, they’ll never have the regret of never trying to care for their loved one at home. At least, they’ll never regret that they didn’t use in-home or nursing home care when they needed it most. At least, they’ll never have to regret that they didn’t even try to do the thing that in their heart of hearts they most wanted to do.

The previous blog was an excerpt from The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving. Buy the book now by clicking here.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Here, There Be Dragons and Inspiration, Too!

Today we met James A. Owen, the person who wrote Here, There Be Dragons (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica), what we hear is a wonderful fantasy novel for young adults, full of adventure and imagination.

We were walking in our favorite place around here, we'll call it Silverton, and found this great old church that seemed to have been converted to some other purpose. We thought at first it was an old school or perhaps a museum. Then we mused philosophically about we would do with such a place. "Convert it to an artist's colony!" is what I thought. It looked big enough to house several artists studios and, situated in one of the cheapest places in the country and in one of the prettiest settings, we thought "what a perfect place for a consortium of artists to be!"

Well, it turns out it is an artist's haven of sorts. It was Coppervale Studio, the workspace and multimedia brainchild of illustrator, writer and creative extraordinaire James Owen. He was outside playing with his kids so we went over to inquire about the unusual building they were in front of and he filled us in. We found him to be very friendly and engaging and we truly enjoyed meeting him.

Then we came home and looked him up on the internet and were really wowed. Here's a guy, like us, who has been doing a pretty eclectic assortment of creative things. Like us, he's been pretty much self-employed most of the time and the trail has entailed some significant ups and downs. But he stuck to it and, as he puts it, "after 20 years he's suddenly an 'overnight' success!"

We never expected to meet someone like this in the tiny rural community we're in. And, especially since this day was completely devoted to creative brainstorming of another sort for us, meeting a fellow traveler on the path of doing what you care about most was an especially welcome and gratifying event.

Pussy Willows in the White Mountains

There's an area about 40 minutes south of here called the White Mountains. Higher elevation and much different terrain with lots of mountain lakes and pine trees. People from Tucson and Phoenix like to go there when the weather is hot. There are more city-type amenities there too, so we've been visiting a lot lately, trying to discover what might be useful for us.

I liked seeing these pussy willows on our walk around Woodland Lake in Lakeside/Pinetop. A really pretty place. We went there a couple of months ago when it was covered with ice and got to watch the ducks and geese go skidding across. It looked like they were having fun. This time we got to hear lots of little peeping frogs and that was fun, too.
This Pussy Willow photo is available as a framed or unframed print and on a variety of products through our giftshop on Cafepress.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spring Flowers

We see the first signs of Spring around town. Not out here in the desert much although the arrival of the first moths have our cats, Peep and Chloe, almost delirious with excitement. But close to town where there's a creek and different kinds of vegetation the change of seasons is plain to see. The weeping willows are bright green, there are tiny flowers popping up all around and even a few cherry trees coming into bloom.

Photo trips are happening. Here's one of my shots, now available as framed or unframed prints and on all kinds of cool stuff through our giftshop on Cafepress.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More about Space vs Place and Corn Flower Essence

As I said earlier, until Paul and I moved recently to the "wide open spaces" I needed to use Corn flower essence a lot. Why? I love the country. I always relax, feel more peaceful and joyous in a country setting, especially if there's a view or if I'm near a farm with horses, goats, chickens or sheep. I love the amenities of city life-- good cafes, art galleries, lots of things to do-- but it just doesn't feel as good.

I'm not unusual in this. I'd say most people enjoy a relaxing walk or drive in the country and many people make it a point to get away to a country setting on a regular basis. But most of us can't afford to live in the country. Not that it costs more to live there -- it's frequently far less expensive -- but, as most people say, there's a reason for that. It's hard to make a living in the normal ways unless you run your own business or can telecommute at least part of the time.

Enter Corn Flower Essence. Corn is the epitome of a plant that looks very similar to its wild ancestors that has evolved, like humans have evolved, to live in domesticity. A Corn plant, ideally, would prefer a lot of space. It's a big plant, for a grass that is. It has a very sturdy stalk that shoots up to the sky with great vigor. The leaves on the plant are spaced far apart and the male flowers, the tassels at the top, are situated unusually far from the female flowers, the corn silk. When Corn is grown too close together it doesn't produce as many ears. But in today's agriculture the plants are spaced tightly on purpose. It forces the plant to place whatever ears it does create at the top where they can be easily harvested using mechanical means. And the Corn adapts. It's strong and hardy and continues on.

I use Corn in my Doing New Things with Confidence flower essence aromatherapy perfume but I've always wondered why my guides recommended Corn and not some other ones I might have chosen myself. Sure, Corn helps people feel grounded so that's what I assumed it was about but now I think it was more succinct than that. You see, I originally called that formula "Traveling Easy." It was supposed to be for feeling relaxed and in charge when traveling to new places -- literally. I made it for myself because I was nervous about a trip I was going on. It wasn't until later that I discovered this formula had many more applications than just one.

Traveling, for me, always involves a certain amount of uncertainty and the most challenging aspect of the experience has always been negotiating the travel aspect itself: driving in an unfamiliar city or making use of public transportation. Traveling is actually a very ungrounding activity. You literally move from your turf to a place you don't belong. It's hard to orient yourself and find your way around.

But Corn has gone through enormous changes in its evolution. It hybridizes very easily and many Corn hybrids exist today and are still being created. Corn adapts to its environment. And the first thing it does when it begins growing is to put down roots. Once those roots are established, it sends up a shoot. It strongly aligns itself between heaven and earth and stands up straight, tall and strong.
You can use the confident tall-standing quality of Corn with my Doing New Things with Confidence perfume, available through my Mama Love website or through my shop on Etsy.com.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mother Corn

Corn is, basically, a domesticated plant. It's a natural living growing thing like every other plant but it lives within the construct of human existence. Human beings supposedly "invented" corn -- at least the easy to eat variety native cultures were known to cultivate. But one thing I find interesting is that according to Aztec and Mayan creation myths, Corn supposedly invented us!

The corn we eat today is thought to be a hybrid of Teosinte, a maize that grows wild in parts of Mexico. Teosinte has very little food value in terms of human consumption. It has extremely tiny cobs and very hard, almost inedible seeds. But it hybridizes very easily, as all corn does, and when human beings discovered Teosinte plants that were good to eat they learned to encourage these plants and related species to grow by watering them and keeping competing weeds away. Seeds of the largest, strongest and more tasty plants were planted and grown again until the Zea Mays strain of Teosinte evolved into the plants we call Corn today.

Native American mythologies say that the Corn goddess herself taught human beings how to grow Corn and Aztec and Mayan myths point to the Corn God or Goddess as being responsible for the origin of the human race. And on one level that may be the case! The development of agriculture -- of human beings creating their own food sources with the help of elements of the natural environment -- was the turning point in history that truly separated humans from the animal kingdom. Gorillas and apes hunt, gather their own food, use rudimentary tools and even weapons. But, as far as I know, humans are the only animals that plant crops and cultivate them.

Agriculture was what turned little nomadic tribes of hunters and gatherers into communities of people tied to specific locations. And with more abundant food, the human population grew until communal campsites turned into villages, villages into towns. Eventually entire civilizations came into existence that have changed our world forever. Human beings may have learned to deliberately cultivate and breed corn but in another sense cultivated corn really did create us and it is very much responsible for the creation of the modern world as we know it today.
I use Corn flower essence in my Doing New Things with Confidence flower essence aromatherapy perfume, available through my own Mama Love website and through my shop on Etsy.com.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Finding Your Space / Place with Corn Flower Essence

Before Paul and I moved out to the "wide open spaces" here in Arizona I was guided to take Corn Flower Essence ALL the time. Over and over, practically any time I asked for help with my emotional state, Corn was one of the essences I was guided to use.

It made me feel similarly to the Wild Oat I'm working with now --much more grounded and, energetically, I could feel the energy in my body clearing up and down that central core connecting each of us to heaven and earth that I talked about in this blog. But usually I could feel the energy moving down into the earth.

Corn is supposed to be for people who need to feel aligned with the planet but find it challenging to do so under the stresses and constrictions of modern life. I don't tend to think of myself in this way--I have always wanted the conveniences and perceived benefits of modern life. But I have also felt abhorrent of many of the choices people make to have it as well.

Let me explain this further. As a child I studied my fellow classmates intently trying to figure out how to fit in to the social system I found in school. I NEVER felt like I could accept those conventions. I didn't want to fit into the society of "outcasts" I was pushed into. I wanted to know how to be one of the "popular" kids but what I saw never ceased to amaze and confuse me.

So much conformity! So many ways each individual was trained to accept the rules and conventions of a social setting that was intended to keep them in line -- wear your clothes this way and not that, act this way with your friends and not that. One day I was invited to a party a lot of the "popular" kids attended. Sex with people they didn't even know much about, really loud music and lots of drinking. I couldn't figure out why they wanted that lifestyle. These kids weren't popular by being themselves. They weren't even spending much time being themselves with each other. They had all fit themselves into some kind of mold I didn't understand and their popularity appeared to be based more on that than on how much they liked who they all were!

I figured out how to dress and make jokes at my own expense to fit in a bit more but I never really successfully assimilated myself into the culture I grew up in at all. I went my own way and discovered, as I grew older, that I wasn't at all alone in that. Then all my years of watching and learning about people led me to get a a degree in Transpersonal Psychology and I rarely think about trying to conform too much to the culture around me anymore. I just try to stay conscious enough about what those expectations might be to keep from being blind-sided.

There are many many ways that human beings have attempted to improve their own way of life that have resulted in disconnecting people from themselves and from their true heritage as inhabitants of a greater matrix of existence-- inhabitants of planet Earth. We no longer live closely dependent on the life cycles of the planet. Electric lights shift our perception of night and day, winter turning to spring. Clad in heavy soled shoes, walking on pavement, driving in cars, modern Western feet rarely touch the ground. We live in surprisingly congested cities and towns, in high rise apartment buildings or tightly packed suburban developments. Most people can't imagine what it would be like to live in such a spacious environment that they couldn't see the lights from their neighbor's house.

But humans have always chosen to live in community as do most warm-blooded creatures on the planet. The issue I need to address here is not simply one of returning to nature. It isn't. The purpose of Corn flower essence is more complex. It's about using nature with respect to the societies we create. Corn is a human manipulated crop! It has been cultivated in one form or another for, perhaps, ten thousand years and has evolved, as a result, into a plant that depends on human assistance for its very existence.

Corn, the Maize we know today, doesn't exist in nature -- and I'm not talking about GMO (genetically manipulated) corn. Edible maize has been hybridized to the extent that while it can pollinate itself it really cannot reproduce itself without being planted and tended to by people.

And WE can't survive without other people either. Oh sure, there a few people who try. We met one out here in the desert. A paranoid schizophrenic, antisocial type we hope and pray doesn't carry a rifle in her car! But most people do depend on each other to get by and the consequence of that is that we all have to work with the interconnected physical and social conventions we collectively create.

Honoring our nature, the essence of our beings, when we don't even recognize ourselves as part of nature ourselves anymore is part of what Corn flower essence is for. But, it's also about something much bigger than that. It's about our ability to find our center -- to stand tall and strong and secure the way a Corn plant does-- within the construct we have created as the human race. I'll say more in future blogs.
I use Corn flower essence in my Doing New Things with Confidence flower essence aromatherapy perfume, available through my own Mama Love website and through my shop on Etsy.com.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Don't Fence Me In

The dialogue in this is very interesting. Both philosophies can be found around here in the Arizona "outback"... and it's a perfect prelude to what I want to discuss regarding the next flower essence I'll be featuring here, Corn. More to come...

Kitten Eating Corn

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Cowboy Country

So yesterday we had dinner at Trapper's Restaurant in Taylor, AZ and two cowboys came in after a hard day of working on the ranch. Some visitors to this blog may never have seen a real cowboy. I know it's a pretty novel experience for me.

So do real cowboys look and dress the way they do in the movies? You know, the wide brimmed hat, the distinctive boots, swaggering into a place with their thumbs looped around their extra big belt buckles, and a gun in a holster visible on their hip?

Yep. They sure do around here anyway.

The scenery looks like it came out of a cowboy movie, too. And you should read the local newspapers! It's very different from what you'd find in Boston or Santa Cruz.

We went to see the local Snowflake High School production of "Oklahoma!" last week. They did the whole thing, all three hours or more including the really well-staged ballet numbers. They were GOOD! And if they had been singing the words as "A -- ri-zona!" in the title tune it would have been as if they were doing a play about the local scene. Cowboys and farmers, "where the wind comes sweepin' down the plain." When the kids -- it seemed like every kid in the school was in this -- sang about this place being about "Plen'y of air and plen'y of room, Plen'y of room to swing a rope! Plen'y of heart and plen'y of hope." I think everyone in the room agreed.

We met a man who just moved to the Snowflake area, out aways near where we are. They bought a 3 bedroom house in great shape and 80 acres for $94,000 and then, when they found out the 40 acre lot next door to theirs was available for $14,000, they bought that, too. At 74 years old he and his brand new wife are full of hopes and dreams. They have horses and a new business and seem pretty gung ho.

By contrast, there is a lot of poverty in the area and the "downtown," if you can call it that, is all of three blocks long. Not a lot of activity but definitely a lot of heart. And that's a lot of fun.

Video: Whispering Grass

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Flower Essence Aromatherapy for Shingles

Shingles is a viral infection of the nerve roots which causes a very painful rash that can blister and scar. Elderly people and those with damaged immune systems are most susceptible. It occurs mostly in people who had a bout of chickenpox when they were young. It is thought that the virus lies dormant in our bodies and then "wakes up" as a result of stress, injury, disease or certain medications.

I was recently asked by a woman I met in town if I could make a flower essence aromatherapy formula for shingles. There is no specific cure for shingles at this point but some other aromatherapist had made her a formula once and it helped her a great deal.

Emotional stress is always a component of this disease -- whether you think of it as the underlying stress factor that sets the disease in motion OR if you simply want to deal with the emotional stress that having such an ugly and painful condition can create. I told her I could create a formula for the emotional issues, she agreed and I jumped to the challenge. I asked for spiritual guidance and this was the result:

Borage Flower Essence -- for lifting the spirits and counteracting depression and discouragement

Calendula Flower Essence -- for soothing irritation, especially of pessimistic thought patterns resulting in angry words and excessive frustration that can't be relieved by making positive change in the external environment right away. People who feel as though their life circumstances are unbearable are most susceptible to believing things will never get better again. Calendula can soothe the inner environment so the outer one can be dealt from a sunnier, more optimistic point of view.

Yerba Santa Flower Essence-- to help a person release anger and pain they harbor inside

Rose Essential Oil -- for soothing the heart on the emotional level. Many people use rose oil to help relieve itchy burning skin.

Lavender Essential Oil-- for calming irritability and nervousness, easing worry and depression. Aromatherapists also report that it can help heal rashes and prevent scarring.

Rose Geranium Essential Oil-- for relieving inflammation, irritability and internal and external stress. It's especially thought to be useful for relieving a tendency towards passive-aggressive behavior.

I assumed from this guidance that the blistering rash and irritation shingles creates can be a reflection of the anger, frustration and discouragement the person who needs this formula would need at this period of their life in general. The person who asked me for the formula had already described the extremely upsetting and, most likely, discouraging situation she was in when the shingles erupted for the first time. She already knew that stress and emotional upset was the biggest part of the issue. That's why she asked me for assistance at all. But is this shingles formula for everybody with this condition?

I turned to another person who has recently suffered a bout with shingles. I described what I planned to put into this formula and why and she immediately said "I want some, too!" She said that what I said about these ingredients was exactly what was going on for her at the time of her outbreak as well and she still has residual symptoms and temper flare-ups from time to time.

Well, a sample of two doesn't exactly amount to a scientific study and the FDA would actually forbid me from saying this shingles formula will work for you or anyone else... even if these two people (and their friends) wind up touting it as a miracle cure. :-)

But if you'd like to try this formula for yourself I now offer it on my website under the name Soothing the Angry Heart. It's designed to be ready to use straight from the bottle without dilution, made entirely from organically certified ingredients and infused with Reiki, too!

I'm also interested in doing other custom experiments in flower essence aromatherapy and Reiki. Contact me via email and tell me what you want.

Despite What We Think Things Are Getting Better

Despite the news on the television these days our world is not going to hell in a handbasket. Sure, there are challenges and disasters to be coped with now. But there are many positive indications of things in our society getting better that deserve to be reported on as well. An astrology columnist I like, Rob Brezney, has made it his life's mission to get people noticing what's going well as an antidote to all the gloom and doom news reporting around us. You know the saying "no news is good news?" Well... what if the supposedly less sensational news WAS worth reporting? You know, the positive stuff? What would be the nation's confidence level and willingness to cope with change and see it in a positive way then?

Radley Balko, writing for reaonsonline, wrote a story at the beginning of this year recapping the news of 2008. He called it Good News from a Bad Year and it's well worth your time.

Speaking of Change...

Check out this video by researchers Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod, and Jeff Bronman. It's called "Did You Know" and it's mind-boggling.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Happy Spring!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Dilemma of Wild Oat

Certainly, you've heard the expression "to sow your wild oats." Similar to the expression "to play the field," it means to have your fun, try a lot of things (different relationships, different occupations), before it's time to get serious and settle down. Wild oats grow everywhere! In good soil, sandy soil, clay soil. In dry or moist conditions. In shade or semi-shade. The only place it's rare to find it is in bright sun at the top of a hill where it wouldn't be at least partly shaded by the surrounding scene.

At one time sowing your wild oats was considered a positive thing to do and was even encouraged... at least for young men. But those days have fallen by the wayside. First, it was deemed sexist to encourage young men to behave in such a manner and not women. And, second, encouraging women to sow their wild oats was so antithetical to what feels acceptable in this culture as to be sacrilegious! So the idea of sowing wild oats on purpose was left behind at least when it comes to thinking of it as a positive growth-filled phase of development.

When a person is going through a Wild Oats period they don't accomplish much, at least from society's point of view. Wild Oats are thought of as a "weed", an unwelcome plant or at least not a valued one. It's not thought of as a great food source. They might even get in the way of cultivating healthy crops if they grow too abundantly. So why did people ever think a person would need Wild Oats in their life?

I've always been jealous of those people who have known what they wanted from childhood, who just woke up one day and said "I'm going to be a rocket scientist, a doctor, a lawyer, a whatever," set their sights in that direction and went for it. So many of those people become successful or prosperous early in life and never look back...at least not until sometime in midlife or retirement when life changes might make them think of something they'd like to do better. Most people go through some change in direction at some point along the way.

But people who choose a more Wild Oat way sometimes wind up looking lost on the career track a lot. They try one thing, find it unsatisfactory for some reason or another, try something completely different. The problem with Wild Oat people is that we have too many different directions beckoning us to come hither. Look at my blog masthead where I describe myself as a "spiritual counselor, healer, organic flower essence aromatherapy perfume designer, artist and writer." I'm sorry, there's no one single compartment I can fit myself into. I can't even make perfume the straight forward way-- it has to be flower essence aromatherapy all-natural perfume made according to spiritual principles and infused with Reiki! Not only that but I'm not satisfied unless I've drawn the illustration for the packaging itself and written all the ad copy. That pretty much sums up the Wild Oat person's dilemma to the max! Imagine trying to find a regular paid job incorporating all that.

It doesn't happen. Earlier in my life I was a writer and a graphic designer. I wrote three books, illustrated one of them, and made an acceptable living designing books for Crossing Press and, later, several other book publishing companies. I loved it...until I got bored. But I would have stayed if circumstances beyond my control hadn't forced me to leave and I had to find another job. What does the Wild Oat personality do? Try to find something in a related field?

Oh no. This one goes back to school to reinvent herself altogether by getting a degree in psychology. But is it a conventional psychology degree? No! It couldn't be--that would be leaving something out! No, my degree is in Transpersonal Psychology which is best described as a mind/body/spirit approach to what ails the individual within the context of the greater world including God or whatever it is you wish to call that which lies beyond tangible physical reality. It's a real degree, not some made up thing from some metaphysical degree-granting business over the internet. And it's not unrecognized by the larger psychological institutions. But it's not a conventional compartmentalized approach. It combines insights from many different disciplines and attempts to bring it together in one piece.

Okay, there I think I've accomplished what I most want to say about what's great about the Wild Oat phase of development. It allows a person enough experimentation and room for development to be able to either define more precisely what it is they really want to do OR it allows for the creation of something unique that combines what is learned from multiple fields of endeavor in one piece. In the Wild Oat phase of life you try one thing, discover what's great about it and what isn't, try something else and do it again, try another thing, etc. until you either give up on finding what you want outside yourself or find an institution that accepts your unique set of life experiences as exactly right.

It gives you breadth, an ability to think outside of the box, flexibility, and a great capacity to change direction according to what's happening in the present. Adaptability is essential to success in a changing environment and our world is currently changing rapidly and without cease. But it's easy to lose your focus, your overall sense of life purpose, your mission or essential identity, under conditions like that--especially if you don't recognize your essence as unchanging despite the change in capacities you use as you grow.

Wild Oat flower essence is all about that.

You see, a Wild Oat plant that finds itself near a stream under a shady tree doesn't change itself into a Rose bush if some of its seeds find their way into someone's backyard. It's still a "weed", a grass, a Wild Oat plant no matter where it winds up. Wild Oat is about finding yourself and recognizing your essential unique ability to contribute to the greater community we live in whether that's in your family, your neighborhood, on the job or, perhaps, via the worldwide web.

The dilemma of Wild Oat is not being recognized as such. People call it a weed. Something compartmentalized "civilized" people don't want in their mono-culture way of trying to keep life neatly contained. "What are you going to be when you grow up?" The greater culture wants to know that before you're out of pre-school these days!

People who don't choose a single compartment to fit themselves into and stay there for the rest of their lives are not very unusual. We just don't get much respect or support for the paths we find ourselves on unless we do these explorations on our time off while keeping a respectable day job doing something else. People who can maintain the energy for these explorations after a 40 hour work week, however, are VERY hard to find, especially if a partner and kids are in the picture. That's why the Wild Oats existence used to be encouraged in one's youth.

Today, when young people are taught they HAVE to pick a career and stick to it right away in order to succeed, there's too much pressure to give up what is needed to find one's way. And too much shame if what you want to do doesn't create "success" according to parental or societal expectations. The energetic disconnect this situation can create (see my previous blogs) cannot be emphasized enough. If a person believes they won't be allowed to follow their inner callings (or mustn't allow themselves it), they can't be their true Wild Oat selves. They hang their heads like the Wild Oat plant does -- can you see that in my illustration? And they hide their inner light from the sun.
Wild Oat is the key ingredient in my Manifesting Life Purpose flower essence aromatherapy perfume. Available through my Mama Love website or through my shop on Etsy.com.

Focussed on the Tasks at Hand

Since I started taking Wild Oat I've been focused on my work in a really positive way. If you've been reading my blog over time you know that a couple of weeks ago I was trying to talk myself into getting ready to sell Mama Love to more retail stores. Hard for me to do in prosperous feeling times, really hard now when retail stores are nervous about spending money.

But right now I WANT to do it, it's like an inner demand, and it doesn't feel like it's going to feel hard for me anymore. When I want to do something badly enough I always can get past any shyness or fear I have. So what if times have been hard? I feel as if the time is now.

So I've been taking a break from writing this blog for a few days. You didn't know because I wrote several blogs ahead of time and scheduled them to post automatically. But I ran out yesterday so here I am today to give you all an update.

I'm sending press releases to all the local papers announcing that "new Snowflake resident has brought her brand of healing to town." Paul took photos of me with my Mama Love displays (see the one on this blog) and I'm sending them along with the press releases to let people know that my flower essence aromatherapy products are now available locally at The White Chair.

Then I got busy last night making new displays. I want to get ready for another sales trip. Probably to Flagstaff and Sedona again to follow up on our earlier sales calls with a side trip to Camp Verde or two. There's an herb shop there for me and a blacksmith shop with demos for Paul and, I hear, there are very interesting Indian petroglyphs and old dwellings there to check out as well. So there will be photo opportunities for both of us, too.

When I sell perfumes to shops in new areas I plan to send press releases to the local papers there, too. That's my latest marketing plan: get out and meet people, show them what we do, and then promote in the paper to get the sales rolling. It worked in Santa Cruz. In fact, that's about the only advertising that did. So I'm feeling really good about what I'm trying to do with Mama Love.

And for those who have been asking, yes, I do think it's a big part of my life purpose. Paul and I don't just want to work with people who are willing to pay us $100/hour or more. We've been needing to find ways to help people through our work at other price points as well and the flower essence work can be an entryway into the more intensive spiritual counseling and healing work that we do.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Energy of Life Purpose Using Wild Oat Flower Essence

In preparation for writing this article about Wild Oat Flower Essence I decided to use it myself. I'm familiar with Wild Oat. I use it in my Manifesting Life Purpose perfume and I consider it to be the key ingredient in that formula. But I never have used Wild Oat on its own.

Interesting enough I haven't, in recent years, believed I needed help in knowing my life purpose except for the fact that I frequently believe there's more than one and don't know how to integrate them all ... people who know what Wild Oat is really for are laughing at me right now :-) ... we'll get to that in future blogs. But despite the fact that I've been disregarding the importance of that key issue, I have been aware that, at least in the world of paid employment, that I haven't always known how to fulfill my purposes (sigh) on the job! This has had a detrimental impact on my peace of mind and financial well-being, to say the least. So that's what I thought I'd be focusing on, at least to start.

Earlier this week I began using Wild Oat flower essence and what have I discovered so far? I must have needed this a lot more than I realized! It had an immediate and very noticeable effect. I felt as if the energy that was stuck in my heart was being, I would have to say, forcibly rooted deep into the earth. It was shocking, actually, because I didn't know I needed this healing to such a great extent. (One thing I've noticed most with flower essences--and healing of all sorts--is that they work most powerfully when you need them most and have almost no effect if you either haven't chosen the right one or don't need it at all.)

As I took my flower essence over the day I noticed some profound differences in effect as time went on. Earlier I felt the connection between heart and ground -- and that continued throughout the day -- but by evening the energy had shifted so it no longer went in one direction (down) only. It went from my heart up to heaven at one point and, later still, after that conduit cleared out, from heart to earth and back up to heaven again.

Have I lost anybody yet? I'll try to bring the explanation "down to earth" -- physical understanding-- once again.

Paul, the spiritual techy in my life, told me yesterday that "Everything on the planet, even dead things, operate like an energy circuit." I had to look this up on the internet to find out what he meant. He had started to wax philosophically about the beauty of open and closed electrical circuits and how that was similar to the spiritual connectivity of all things but I didn't understand what he was talking about so we changed the subject. I can now explain this much, however: In a closed (or complete) circuit energy flows from a source of energy to some desired endpoint and ideally, to use our energy properly, that's what ought to happen. But, as in electrical wiring of all sorts, things can go wrong to interrupt the proper functioning of our energy systems. Blown fuses, faulty wiring, accidentally or purposely disconnecting something, that kind of thing. In the case of human functioning, though, belief systems have the largest effect.

Think of the words "energy source" as a spiritual connection that goes through our core from the top of our heads, down our spines, and out through its base that doesn't stop there but actually connects heaven and earth. Our heart is at the center of this energy system and when someone spiritual says to "Follow the dictates of your heart" what they're really intimating is that God is at the center of our lives and the heart is the source of our understanding.

Following our hearts, by the way, only works in conjunction with our minds and the work of our hands. So what happens if your heart says "I want xyz" and your brain says "What?!! Are you crazy? We can't have that!"

There goes your connection! The energy can no longer flow.

So, back to life purpose and Wild Oat flower essence. Do you see how it works? It helps clear out the circuits we need to make between mind, body and spirit. Much more to come...
My Manifesting Life Purpose perfume is available both on my own Mama Love Perfume site and in my shop through Etsy.com.

If you're interested in trying Wild Oat Flower Essence separate from the formulas I make click this link: Healing Herbs Wild Oat 0.25 oz flower essence

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Is Life Purpose Important in Challenging Economic Times?

The person credited with inventing Flower Essence Therapy, Dr. Edward Bach, believed that the deepest illness facing society in the 20th century was becoming disconnected from one's true calling and life purpose. With economic concerns looming so large now in the 21st century, such a thought might sound like a "lofty" ideal, a nice thought if we could afford it but... but nothing could be further from the truth.

The world is facing a number of crises that cry out to be healed and economics are a large part of the problem. But when people use monetary wealth as their prime motivation the whole world suffers the cost. Usually people talk about life purpose in terms of self-actualization, individual potential and becoming your fullest self... and we'll be talking about that in the next few blogs as well. But what if following one's life purpose meant more than that? What if our survival as a species depended on it?

In our work as spiritual counselors and healers we have come across people who have become so disheartened about being able to have their deepest hearts' desires that they no longer allow themselves to know what it is anymore. Other times we have met people who knew what they wanted with all their hearts but couldn't imagine allowing themselves to have it. "How could I possibly give up my hateful $65,000/year job that is making me sick to become... a farmer, a writer, an artist, an elementary school teacher? How could I possibly devote myself to these things I care so much about when my partner depends on me to do what I'm doing now? My kids couldn't go to private school anymore! I'd lose my retirement benefits. We'd have to move, everything would have to change!"

But in light of the recent economic crisis people are having to rethink these very things. Some people have already lost their retirement investments. Others are losing jobs and find themselves giving up the very things they couldn't face leaving before. We know firsthand how devastating these losses can be. But after the dust clears and you pick yourself back up you look at what's left and what really matters most. What are you going to do? What should we do as a greater community, a nation?

Individually, should we try to go back to "business as usual," try to find work with a high enough paycheck to maintain a lifestyle that has its perks but keeps us locked in an increasingly frustrating and stressful situation? On the grander scale, should we continue to let free market economics push the basic necessities of life -- healthcare, housing, heat, transportation and food -- sky rocketing out of sight while the worldwide population is becoming aged and needs more healthcare options, people are starving, our roads and bridges are falling apart, and global warming and environmental devastation is starting to wreak havoc across the globe? There's plenty of money to be made and jobs to go around if we redistribute our priorities but it will require change and the willingness to work diligently enough and long enough to work it all through.

Just before and during the biggest worldwide crisis of all time, the Great Depression, Dr. Edward Bach railed against societal conditioning that convinces people to accept soul deadening work being cogs in other people's money making machines instead of following the callings and dictates of their hearts. He saw the result in his medical practice every day in poor health, mental depression and addictions. He also saw that if he could adequately address the psycho / spiritual roots of a person's distress they got better quicker, and sometimes without any other medical intervention on his part.

Dr. Bach left his thriving London practice in 1930 to pursue his interest in creating all natural homeopathic flower remedies. The timing of this decision is significant. After the stock market crash of 1929, when most people would have given anything to keep whatever money-making opportunities they had, he quit his job, devoted himself to his higher mission, and offered his flower essence healing services for free in order to develop the case studies he needed to see if his theories worked. Then, when his research was sufficient enough, he advertised the results of his work as "home remedies" that could be used by anyone without necessarily requiring the assistance of a physician.

People might argue that this was insanity, how could he give all his success as a doctor away like that? But he lived what most people would think was a great life in the country with all the time he wanted to be outside, enjoying the peace and beauty of nature while researching what people consider to be his greatest contribution to the world of healing to this day.

It's scary to give up what the greater society thinks is required for living a good life. If we all follow our hearts a little more a lot more people will opt for jobs that create worth instead of riches. It takes a major change in attitude...and trust me, there's pain and adjustment required in that. But living here in the country Paul and I have seen and experienced wealth of other sorts. It's important to look at and I'm sure I will be in many other blogs to come.

I make a flower essence aromatherapy formula called Manifesting Life Purpose. It’s a favorite for both men and women. You check it out here.

Quaking Grass Flower Essence

I was extremely shy when I was a kid. I didn't speak and I didn't know how to interact with other kids. I remember standing at the edge of the playground during recess in kindergarten. My parents had taught me not to "bother people," I was always supposed to wait to be invited before jumping in, and I took this very seriously. Unfortunately, nobody taught the other little kids to issue invitations so I just waited and waited every day for someone to invite me to join in and nobody did.

So one day I wandered off by myself to the open field that surrounded the playground. There were lots of tall weeds there and my favorites were the grasses. I used to strip the seeds off and pretend to plant them by scattering them here and there. I did it again and again and I suddenly looked up and another little kid was silently following me and doing the same. Then another one came and another. None of us talked or interacted in any way. And we didn't interfere with each other either. We were just a tiny impromptu band of agrarian "farmworkers," silently wandering in a line, stripping seeds off the grass and scattering them.

This is one of the most vivid memories I have of kindergarten. I think it only happened once but I've never forgotten it. When I first read about Quaking Grass this is the story that came to mind.

Quaking Grass is a flower remedy for people who don't know how to function in groups, who don't know how to balance their individual identity with the needs of the social circle or greater society they need to work within. It's not exactly the same as Violet flower essence which is used for shrinking violets, people who feel so fragile in a group that they are afraid to speak up. The most significant feature of Quaking Grass are its large seed pods made up of overlapping scales that look a lot like and shake in the breeze like a rattlesnake's tail. Some people know this plant as Rattlesnake Grass.

Rattlesnakes shake their tails to warn people away. People who might benefit from Quaking Grass have a strong sense of Self. They know they have something to offer but haven't learned how.

Last night I went to bed thinking about the message in Quaking Grass and dreamed I was newly in a job training program of some sort and hadn't found my way quite yet. George Bush and his mother Barbara came to visit. (Believe me, that doesn't happen often in my dreams!) A question was asked of me: "Have you used your networks in your marketing efforts yet?" In the dream I didn't know what to make of this question. I was too new! But I looked at George and Barbara and they sincerely wanted to know. I felt despondent in the dream, like how would I know how to do that? And George smiled back with a bemused look as if to say "How wouldn't you know?"

When I woke up I tried to think of what George Bush could possibly know that I needed so much. One of my father's beliefs came to mind. He always used to say that to succeed in business it's not what you know, but who you know that makes all the difference. Well, has there ever been a president in recent history who epitomizes that belief system more than George Bush?

Networks. Networking. The "Old Boy Network." The "Men's Club." The Republican way.

Or grassroots campaigning, person to person, email to email, face to face. Like the Obama campaign. It's all about networking, finding yourself--your identity--within the context of a larger group, either way.
If you are interested in using Quaking Grass flower essence you can get some by clicking this link: Flower Essence Services Quaking Grass 0.25 oz flower essence

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Grass Flower Essences

"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself." -- Henry Miller

"I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars." -- Walt Whitman

When you think of grass do you think of tenacity and strength? Do you think of a species that could persist in all kinds of conditions over 65 million years? Do you think of grass as important -- an incredibly versatile plant species we depend on like no other, a species our planet could not live without?

Most grasses are delicate. They bend and sway in any breeze. So what makes them so persistent, strong and successful that you can pave over their environment and within weeks find them popping up through the cracks?

They know how to work in "community."

Blades of grass are never found alone. They either grow in bunches, like the grasses we see here in the desert, or by sending out runners or rhizomes that sprout new grass plants at the ends. Think of whole communities of plants that support each other by holding hands. Grass lives in community. And yet you can cut these connections and the underground runners and rhizomes remain viable and remaining plants that are mature enough remain whole.

Grass flower essences work by helping people understand themselves within the greater matrix of humanity. Themes include knowing one's own importance within the context of a group, the importance of merging life purpose with community goals, and the ability to maintain one's connection to the earth in the cramped and more restricted conditions of modern life.

We'll be talking about three individual grass flower essences -- Quaking Grass, Wild Oat and Corn -- later this week.
You can find the photo accompanying this blog as a framed or unframed fine art print or print on canvas by clicking the photo itself. It is also available on greetings cards, mugs, T-shirts and a wide variety of other products in our giftshop on Cafepress.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Flower Essence Aromatherapy in Snowflake, AZ

I'm happy to announce that my Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy healing perfumes are now available at The White Chair, 432 S. Main Street in Snowflake, AZ, near the White Mountains. The White Chair specializes in antiques and handcrafted creations with an antique or country feel. It's a really great shop, jam-packed with all kinds of wonderful stuff. I'm especially pleased to have my work there because the owner, Moli White, really loves aromatherapy, natural healing and the earth. She's also quite an artist and creative person herself and is a big supporter of women and their work. Her daughter just opened up a coffee shop in the space next to The White Chair. Come by and visit the next time you're in town!

Knowing the Grass

"I had to live in the desert before I could understand the full value of grass in a green ditch."
--Ella Maillart

"Knowing trees, I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence." -- Hal Borland

"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself." --Zen proverb

When I told Paul I was going to write about the spiritual significance of grass the first word that came to his mind was "tenacity." You can mow grass, let the cows chew it down to the ground, freeze it, and (in many cases) let it go without watering and it will recover. It's also extremely abundant.

When I think of grass the first word that comes to my mind is "ubiquitous." Grass covers large portions of the earth and it grows almost everywhere -- not just in areas we call "grasslands" but also in forests, marshes and out here in the desert.

Some form of grass has been on this planet for at least 65 million years. Fossilized remains of some species have been dated back to the time of the dinosaurs. It is also the most versatile species on the planet and THE plant species humans (and all other creatures) depend on most. Members of the true grass family (Poacae) include all our important grain crops (Barley, Wheat, Millet, Oats, Rice, Rye and Maize/Corn), Sugarcane, Bamboo, Reeds, and all the grasses used for grazing cattle, making paper, building shelter or decorating yards.
Click the photo to find it as a framed or unframed fine art print or print on canvas. Click here to find it on greetings cards, mugs, or a wide variety of other products.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Soul in the Grass

"Landscapes have a language of their own, expressing the soul of the things, lofty or humble, which constitute them, from the mighty peaks to the smallest of the tiny flowers hidden in the meadow's grass." -- Alexandria David-Neel

One of the basic tenets of Flower Essence Therapy, indeed, one of the tenets of ancient alchemy, healing and astrology, can be summed up in the old saying: "As above, so below; As within, so without." What you see in the wide world-- in the movement of the stars and planets, the change of seasons and life cycle of nature, to the collected myriad ways of expression found in every plant and animal-- is also reflected in ourselves and in the universe as a whole. If you think of life as a hologram or, better yet, a fractal painting you can get the gist of the idea. The microcosm is a representation of the macrocosm. It's the infinite nature of things expressed in the infinitesimal, similar to the solar systems expressed in the atomic construction of atoms, the building blocks of every cell.

Different aspects of nature express different aspects of this fractal painting. Grasses and trees both grow with roots planted into the earth and rise up from the ground to meet the sky. But a grass is not a tree and a Pine is not an Elm. Each species of grass, each species of tree has a specific mode of expression-- a signature gesture (way of growing), a signature shape, a preferred growing location, and a community of species it attracts or repels. They have distinct "personalities," so to speak, and when we can start to recognize these trademark expressions we find that every plant, every animal, every living thing has a something to share about living in harmony on the planet.
Click the photo to find framed and unframed fine art prints of this image. Click here to find this image on greeting cards and a variety of gifts.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I'm A Guest Blogger

On a really great blog by Donna Cunningham. The article she reprinted has the name Red Clover Essence -- A Gentle Antidote to Mass Hysteria. You'll also find some wonderful articles about astrology and other articles about flower essences there.

Is There a Message in the Grass?

This is one of the more distinctive grasses around here. I really like the sickle shaped tufted tops so I looked it up on the internet. It's called Blue Grama grass and, if you really wanted to, you could buy it in a nursery online for your garden. It's extremely hardy. It can handle being eaten and trampled on by cattle, extreme cold, and desert-like drought.

This plant got me thinking. Are there grass flower essences? Turns out there are several! Maybe I should write about them.

And then I thought some more. I've been writing about the flower essences to be found in my Doing New Things with Confidence Perfume. Corn is one of the ingredients in that one and I planned to write about that one next. Corn is a grain. Wheat is a grain, too.... but it's also a grass. It looks a little like Blue Grama. Could corn be in the grass family, too?

Indeed it is.

Hmmm..... let's take a look at what the grass has to teach. More to come.


Click on the photo to find it as a framed or unframed fine art print or print on canvas. Visit the Blue Grama Grass section of my Cafepress giftshop to find it on greetings cards and a variety of fine gifts.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Romancing the Grass

More fun tricks with camera lenses.

The first shot is an attempt to show the grass in this region as it is using a typical wide angle lens. The second is the same grass taken with a macro lens. In the wind. It shows the movement as an intentional blur. More romantic, becoming an abstraction once again.

I liked the dreamy quality that came about using this lens in these conditions. It led to a whole other level of experimentation that I'll be sharing next.
Click on the images above to find them as framed or unframed fine art prints or prints on canvas. Click here to find my "Desert Grass" series on greeting cards, mugs, and a wide variety of other products through our giftshop on Cafepress.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Taking Charge in Your Life with Larkspur Flower Essence

Do you ever feel like you're the one who plays the leader in your family, on your job, or elsewhere in your life? Are you feeling burdened by your role or worn down?

Especially in times like these we need people who feel enthused by the challenges we're facing and can inspire others with their joyfulness and inner fire.

Today, I was feeling burdened by the tasks Paul and I have taken on. How do a couple of spiritual counselors and healers hold the light for others when the wind blowing so fiercely in the world outside keeps threatening to put out yours?

I recently wrote about Red Clover flower essence as a good tool for holding your own in troubled times. It's used specifically for holding your head when people around you are panicking and losing theirs. And that's really good for staying calm and being able to listen to your inner truth.

So now let's take this further so we can help motivate, support and provide encouragement for others, too. What flower essence did my spiritual guidance choose? Larkspur, the North American flower essence for bringing forward a feeling of joy in service, charismatic leadership, and positively inspired enthusiasm for the tasks at hand.

I tried it and felt myself sit up taller. I decided to share this information in a blog and joy rushed back into my heart.

Larkspur, along with Red Clover and several others I'll be writing about soon, is one of the ingredients in my Doing New Things with Confidence Flower Essence Aromatherapy healing perfume. I always use that one before giving a talk, a form of leadership I sometimes need a lot of extra help to get myself to do. When I feel enthusiastic about the value in what I have chosen to share it is SO much easier to come out of hiding and do it.

But you don't have to be trying to gather energy to give a talk or find inspiration for writing a blog to take advantage of Doing New Things with Confidence. Larkspur and the other ingredients in that formula are perfect anytime you need to stop hiding your light under a bushel. For others or just for you.
Available in my Mama Love shop or through my shop on Etsy.com.

Back to the Grass

I have to admit to really not liking cactus spikes. There's something interesting visually in the abstraction but it's not soothing to the heart.

Environments have strong effects on our psyches. We might enjoy the dynamism in sharp lines and dramatic edges but more flowing scenes, perhaps longer views, are easier to rest the eyes upon for longer stretches of time.


Click the photograph to find this image as a framed or unframed fine art print or print on canvas. Click here to buy it on a mug, greeting card, or some other item through our giftshop on Cafepress.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Cactus Spikes Revisited

I like this version of Cactus Spikes better. Dangerously tweaked in Photoshop but we're not interested in realism here anyway. It's a lot more fun like this.

Available as a framed or unframed fine art print or print on canvas by clicking here. And on a wide variety of products through Cafepress. It looks especially good as an abstract on home decor.

God Made Visible

To us also, through every star, through every blade of grass, is not God made visible if we will open our minds and our eyes. --Thomas Carlyle

There is not one blade of grass, there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice. --John Calvin

Cactus Spikes

Prickly Pear spikes sparkling in the sun make an interesting abstract.

On Imagekind as a framed or unframed fine art print and on a variety of products on Cafepress.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

The Power of Place

I'm reading a book right now called The Power of Place: How Our Surroundings Shape Our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions (P.S.). Rereading it, actually. The book made enough of an impression on me when I first read it that I've kept it on my bookshelf for probably 20 years or so.

The impact of environment in affecting a person's life is pretty obvious to Paul and me right now. For all kinds of reasons: visual stimulation or lack of it, noise pollution or (yay!) lack of it, amount of sun, wind, rain.

One thing that's really apparent to me here in the Arizona "outback" (as Paul's mom likes to call it) is how people pitch in to help each other out. Probably a day doesn't go by when we don't hear of some effort to help a family or individual in need. Someone dies and the survivors get help with meals and groceries; a baby needs surgery and the community raises the money to help pay for it. The helping even extends to me and Paul taking a walk down the country dirt roads, something we try to do at least once a day. People in the outback don't expect to see people walking unless their car has broken down. We're 15 miles away from ANYTHING except cows, rabbits and other people. So, sometimes, when we're walking people slow down and call out to us "You alright? You need anything?" and we wave and smile and assure them that we're okay.

People make community a priority here. It's something that happens in rural New England, too. Probably many other rural communities across the nation. It's markedly different than life in the city, even (I hate to say it) life in a place like Santa Cruz. Sure, people do lots of fun activities together, they join spiritual and political groups, and even organize the occasional fund drive to help someone in need. But as a regular community-wide effort it's not as obvious and plain to see. There's not the kind of pervasive sense of "we're all in this together" or a knowing that we need each other to get by in a place like that. Probably because the weather and environment makes daily life so much easier, an illusion is created that people shouldn't have to depend on each other for help.

I did get to see that coming together as a community in Santa Cruz. It took an earthquake! Here I see it every day.

Friday, March 06, 2009

I'm a "Featured Artist"!

I guess all the recent uploading of my photos to Imagekind has paid off. I'm one of their "Featured Artists" on their home page at http://www.imagekind.com/ .

You'll find a head shot that looks like the one on the left towards the bottom of the page on the right hand side. You can click that to read my Profile and see all the galleries I have online at that location so far. Or just click here to go to my Profile directly.

Prickly Pear Macro

Prickly Pears here, at least in the winter, are a pretty sorry sight. Shriveled up, sunburnt red, I've had no desire to photograph them at all. But on my recent macro photo shoot I caught a few shots that struck my fancy.

This one is available as a framed or unframed fine art in my Imagekind gallery and on a wide variety of products through Cafepress.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Call the Wind Mariah

Away out here they have a name for rain and wind and fire.

The rain is Tess, the fire's Joe and they call the wind Mariah.

Mariah blows the stars around and sets the clouds a-flyin'.

Mariah makes the mountains sound like folks was out there dyin'.

Mariah. (Mariah).
Mariah. (Mariah).
They call the wind Mariah.

The wind out here blows with a great ferocity. Supposedly gusts of 50 miles an hour or more were recorded in this area last night. It HOWLS around the house and through the juniper trees. I've always hated the wind and prefer to stay in the house hunkered down under the covers whenever it blows. But here we have discovered that it never sounds as loud outside if we dare to venture into it.

In my email today came a quote from Sri Ramakrishna: "It is the mind that makes one wise or ignorant, bound or emancipated."

Last night I was feeling bound-- too isolated, too far away from things I know and have loved. I missed having friends, people to sing and play music with, obvious opportunities for selling our products and services nearby.

I did a bit of a spiritual counseling session for myself before going to bed and had it pointed out to me that, despite how I feel about it, I have exactly what I asked for and what I've said I wanted over and over for many years: basic level security, a very loving relationship, loving family, more access to country living, and time to do my art and writing.

Earlier in the evening Paul's mom told me about a craft boutique to benefit the local Senior Center I could participate in and I had a really nice conversation with an older woman who said she'd be happy to share a table with me. She also told me about a small women's group in the area with lots of creative people in it. One woman makes part of her living making and selling solar cookers, another woman makes art out of gourds she grows herself. I once drew the artwork and designed a book cover for a book about how to make and use solar cookers (Solar Cooking: A Primer/Cookbook) and friends back in Santa Cruz grow gourds and make musical instruments out of them. So this invitation definitely caught my attention. I plan to go. It sounds like fun.

I went to bed feeling happier and, after giving myself permission to do what I really want to do based on my guidance session last night, woke up feeling much happier as a result.

The wind is blowing like crazy again today but before I got up I heard a guitar being strummed and the voices of Paul's parents singing from the livingroom. "They Call the Wind Mariah", "Blowin' in the Wind"...they went through a bunch of them and it was really sweet.


Does every blog post have to have an ad attached telling people how to buy my art? Sorry... but yes, when I have a piece available for sale, this is the only way I have to let people know. "Blue Sky" looks really nice on a variety of products on Cafepress. It's also available as framed or unframed fine art print or print on canvas through my gallery on Imagekind.