Thursday, April 30, 2009

Our Latest Newsletter is Up

Paul and I do a monthly email newsletter with an article by one of us related to spiritual growth and development, links to favorite blog posts, news about our practice -- we're traveling to California and will be available to do in-person work there this summer AND we're announcing our new flat rate and sliding scale fees-- and news about Mama Love.

Read our latest newsletter online right now. You can sign up to receive it for free in your email box at the top right of the page.

Do You Want to Be Prepared for the Worst?

In the early days of our practice I never wanted to give people bad news, especially if it involved death or a health condition only a doctor has the physical means to diagnose. Intuition isn’t always literal. “Death” can be physical or metaphorical. We didn't want to lead anyone astray or make someone give up or be miserable about something that might not turn out to be the literal truth.

When it came to our cat Peeps, though, we both had strong guidance that she was going to die, not once but multiple times. Rule #1 in psychic work is to be in a calm meditative state and get your own fears and fantasies out of the way. When it comes to my own beloved pet I knew better than to think that I was as clear as I could be so we paid attention to the guidance we both received but didn't depend on it 100%.

At one point we were guided not to force feed her and to do energy healing instead. I was guided to think that the "most beneficial thing" would be to do that, bring her to the vet and have her be dead by the weekend. Who wants to hear that?!!! But in the end I couldn't bear to force feed her anymore. And for awhile energy healing alone did work. She took milk from a saucer on her own, got stronger and more lively, and purred and purred while the healing work progressed. But then she got worse in other respects and refused to eat or drink again. We took her to the vet (but not on the schedule our guidance had recommended) and she was dead a few days later, on Monday morning.

At one point we were guided to think Peeps was already dead when she wandered away to hide and could not be found. Cats frequently wander away when death is near, it’s just too hard to let go when a family member so desperately wants them to live. But Peeps was alive and she came back for one last day of pain and hugs when she heard us crying on the back steps.

Why were we guided to think she had already died? So we could let her go? Be prepared for death? So she could hear us and be lured back home?

We’ll never know but I’m glad on some levels that it turned out like it did. I was more prepared when the vet said not enough could be done. I did my letting go on the back porch and was freed to make the decision of how to handle things for her benefit and not my own selfish concerns.

I know that we will be contacted by people wanting help with difficult awful transitions. We know that people have to be able to work with death and that as spiritual counselors we should be prepared as well. But, as you can see from the examples above, it's not always a message anyone wants to hear! And, again, metaphorically a "death" can mean many things: a letting go of one reality, one way of being, so we can move on to the next. It's not always literal...but sometimes it is.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Rainbow Bridge

The local vet who helped us with Peep, Milton Despain, sent us a condolence card signed by his entire staff. It had a picture of a dog and a kitten that looked amazingly like Peep when she was a baby on the cover. Inside was the following poem. We were truly moved and touched.

The Place Called Rainbow Bridge

When our beloved companions die, they go to Rainbow Bridge. Just outside of heaven's gate, it is a place of rolling hills and lush green meadows. Food, water and sunshine are plentiful. Here, old animals become young again and the ill or injured are made healthy and strong. The animals are happy and content but one thing isn't yet right -- there is someone very special that they had to leave behind.

Even though the days are full of running and playing, a day comes when one of the animals suddenly stops and looks off into the distance, eyes shining in eager anticipation. Seeing his special someone, he breaks away from his friends, flying across the fields. With a welcoming embrace, you and your pet are reunited forever. You look once more into the loving eyes of your pet and realize that you had never left each other's hearts.

And you cross the Rainbow Bridge together.

Make Way For Ducklings on Zazzle

Here's something my old print company -- the press that shall evermore remain nameless -- didn't offer: You can personalize anything I make available for that purpose in my Zazzle shop for yourself!

For example, take my design "Duckling Parade." This is a digital watercolor of an original photograph I took of ducklings walking through the flowers and green grass at Neary Lagoon in Santa Cruz, CA. I have it available through my Zazzle shop without words or special modification as a fine art print, on greeting cards, mugs, T-shirts, etc.

But suppose you or your kids are a great fan of Make Way for Ducklings, a wonderful children's book by Robert McCloskey? The book tells the story of a family of ducklings who settle in the city of Boston, go for a walk, and need help getting back home to the Boston Public Garden. A nice policeman named Michael stops traffic and then provides a police escort so the mama and baby ducklings can all find their way home. The city of Boston celebrates Make Way for Ducklings Day with a parade every year on Mother's Day. Kids and parents come from miles around, all dressed up like ducklings, to follow along the route the ducklings took in the book.

So, to celebrate Make Way for Ducklings Day you could go to my Duckling Parade items, click "Customize" and up pops a box that lets you add your own text, change the color, change the font or change the style of the item the design is on. I made a Make Way for Ducklings product line so you can see what can be done. You could buy one of those items now or go to that section and change the text to say whatever you want: "I Brake for Ducklings!, "I Love Ducklings!", "I'm a Ducky Baby!" Go duck wild!

And then suppose you want to go to Boston's Make Way for Duckling Day parade and sell people items from my shop. Can you do that? Yes, you can! Buy items in bulk and get a discount. Buy enough to sell them at a big event and get a big discount! You can make money with my stuff and I get paid, too. And that includes selling my items on the internet.

You can make an affiliate shop that points to my items and anyone else's you want to include and make 15% as a referral fee if someone buys an item by clicking one of your links. Or just promote my stuff on your blog. All you need to do is get a free Associate's ID number and link to the items you want to promote.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Peep is Gone

We brought Peep to the vet today and after some consultation and tears on the subject we decided to put her down. She's suffered enough. The vet was kind and was willing to initiate extraordinary measures on our behalf but was certain he had never seen a cat in this condition who was able to recover without multiple relapses and a terrible quality of life. He didn't push us either way, just respectfully answered our questions and gave his opinion only when we asked him to. He let us have as much time as we needed with her and was very reassuring every step of the way. It's great to know vets like him exist.

It was a very hard day but not as hard as yesterday. We buried her on a hill we can see from the front porch of the house and put a ring of petrified wood with pieces of juniper on top. When we came back after a walk later in the day so Paul could place a pretty white rock and a dove feather he found there was a tiny cottontail rabbit under a tree by her grave. Peep loved to stare at the rabbits but never threatened them so it seemed a fitting tribute.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

The Pipa Report

Our cat Peeps is sure putting us through the ringer these days. 11 days of serious illness and no clear signs of improvement.

Actually she was improving last week or so it seemed. She was starting to drink milk and water of her own free will and cuddled with us and purred and purred. She was soaking up lots of love and energy healing from us and was gaining some of her strength back. But she wouldn't eat, her breath smelled like a sewer, her eyes were running and she had started to sneeze. We were concerned that these were signs that something was brewing beneath the surface, perhaps sepsis, so we took her to the vet on Friday.

The vet here is very kind and gave us antibiotics to give her by mouth and special wet cat food that he suggested we force feed her with a syringe made for the purpose. Peep has lost more than a pound this week which for an 8 lb cat is considered a big deal. He asked us to call him tomorrow (Monday) if she wasn't better.

Well, she's not going to get better by then. The antibiotics immediately and consistently have made her vomit, she's not keeping any food or even much water down and she won't voluntarily take anything in. By the end of the day she literally shook anytime we touched her, fearing what was going to happen next. Last night I was up with her half the night. She wouldn't be comforted, and shook violently if I tried to do more than lightly touch her. Even so, there's no more purring, not even a little bit.

Today we stopped the force feeding and giving antibiotics by mouth and Peeps kept wandering off to hide, a bad sign from what we've heard. Later in the afternoon she had disappeared and we eventually found her outside. We're not sure how she got out but we both decided that some version of quality of life is important -- and she loves being outside -- so we allowed it. The plan was to keep a watchful eye over her but we turned away for no more than a minute and she disappeared again. We all spent a long long time searching for her and after a bit believed she must have wandered into the desert to die.

Hours went by and Paul and I were comforting each other on the back porch, both crying, both trying to let her go. Then suddenly Paul exclaimed something unprintable and there she was. She walked over and lay down at our feet. Peeps! She wouldn't let us touch her, she walked away when we offered her something to eat or drink but she was back.

We're planning to take her back to the vet tomorrow. Maybe some other antibiotic or ideas will be offered. We might have to let her be put to sleep. We're resigned to letting go of the outcome. Sometimes that's really all you can do.

Zazzle Hummingbirds

The hummingbirds have returned to Hummingbird Road. That's the official name of the dirt road we live on although the mail goes somewhere else. Lots of wildly acrobatic tiny birds are now zooming around trying to attract mates with their daredevil antics. So it's appropriate that I chose a hummingbird as the first item to put up in our brand new Zazzle Gift Shop.

I particularly enjoyed this picture. It started as an original photo of a brilliantly colored red-throated hummingbird in mid flight photographed by Paul from our old front porch in Santa Cruz. Then I took it and performed some Photoshop magic tricks to turn it into something resembling a watercolor painting. I love how it turned out! And that's good because it's the only thing I have in our Zazzle shop so far.

There's always such a learning curve when it comes to creating a new website whether you are using special online shop creation tools like Zazzle provides or not. And there's a lot of work involved -- at least for me -- when it comes to creating a unique masthead, writing descriptions with keyword-rich text for search engine optimization and all of that. When we did our Cafepress shop we knew NOTHING about this but we came back over and over to try again. I'm still not sure we know that much more but starting over sure does give a person inspiration to put whatever we may have learned into place right from the start.

Visit our shop, check out our "About" page and "Product" page, become a Fan, wish us luck!

Saturday, April 25, 2009


This is it, only two more days to get any Mama Love gift set in my Etsy shop for 30-40% off!

And there are LOTS to choose from!

Visit the SPECIAL SALE section of my shop or look for items labeled SPECIAL SALE now!

There's No Joy In Going After Cafepress

When Paul and I first joined Cafepress I read joyful excited posts on their site from employees who LOVED the idea of helping other artists promote their work. Now when I look through the site I can't find those posts. But we did find one elsewhere from a disgruntled ex-employee complaining about the moronic, vitriolic crap they have to put up with everyday from Cafepress designers who don't understand basic business and don't even try to apply it to the designs they're trying to promote. It was a very long detailed post! Horrifying, actually, in how little respect this person had left for ANY of the people on Cafepress -- he lumped all the shopkeepers together -- but also more than a little sad.

I've been on the Cafepress forum and forums on other sites, too. I hate most of the interactions I find there and usually refuse to participate. Etsy is a major exception in this -- they monitor flaming really well-- as Paul and I have been taught we HAVE to do on our public forums (like this one) as well. Otherwise, we have found that the very WORST aspect of human nature comes out in these forums. It's all so anonymous. The vast majority of what goes on amounts to nothing more than the equivalent of a hateful drive-by shooting. If the Cafepress forum is any indication of what customer service people have to contend with.... I can understand why a business decision might be inadvertantly made that shuts the door on the very people (the individual designers and shopkeepers) who made them what they are today.

This particular change announced by Cafepress, though, got our attention. It's such an enormous change to cut commissions this much -- especially when it affects their top sellers, the ones who bring them the most money, and the people who have become rich or at least manage to stay afloat making their Cafepress shops their sole business. Ironically, we're not one of them but neither Paul nor I felt we could just walk away without saying anything.

But we said it, to them, to others. And now it's only fair to give this company time to respond.

There are actions those of us who will be affected by this can do... I've mentioned them in previous posts. But that's enough. The vast majority of Cafepress shopkeepers probably didn't even read the email that announced this pending change. The only ones squawking now are the proactive shopkeepers who put a lot of time and effort into the work that we do. Unless Cafepress changes their mind about this -- and they certainly have enough feedback to act on it -- come July and August the much lowered commission checks that arrive in every shopkeeper's mailbox will be the real wake-up call. Then the hew and cry will be so loud the rest of us won't have to do very much to publicize and fight back (if we care by then) at all.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Cafepress Just Tried to Shut Me Up!

Cafepress just suspended my right to even read the forum because I encouraged people to tell their stories! I also told people about how I googled my own work using my own titles and descriptions and discovered that almost all the Google searches where I found my items -- including ones that included my name -- dumped me into the Marketplace and not into my shop. AND, get this, sometimes the Marketplace page didn't include my item at all! That means they've been using all our hard work with titling things, product descriptions and tagging to bring people to the Marketplace and not to us! The Marketplace where our sales don't count for a volume discount anymore. The Marketplace where sales won't be fairly compensated at all anymore.

They dumped me off for the crime of encouraging people to speak up off the forum. I also joined a thread about a potential class action lawsuit saying that their terms of service we're all supposed to agree to doesn't have a legal leg to stand on. It states that they can change their agreement with us at ANYTIME and people have NO recourse except to shut their shops down. And that if people leave their shop up for any length of time after a change to the agreement is posted that not acting immediately will be deemed acceptance and a "legally binding agreement!" That's not a contract that can stand up in a court of law, is it?

Let people know if you can. Thank you!

OH YEAH, by the way. Know anybody at the March of Dimes, Noggin, Dilbert, Peanuts and anyone else Cafepress has a special arrangement with? Let them know that you won't support their work if they don't stand up for us all! Sorry, March of Dimes. I love what you stand for but the single mom of a disabled child who wrote on the forum that she's going to lose 90% of her only income deserves your support. I wrote to them and Noggin, too. Join me, won't you?


SPECIAL SALE - Extended through this Weekend!

My first ever SPECIAL SALE is being extended through this weekend to keep the momentum going for Mother's Day shoppers...

And then it's going away.

This is a nice gift set -- three of my popular Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy perfumes for a great price!

All natural and made of 98-100% organic ingredients, this selection of perfumes smell great and help you feel great, too!

Give as a gift or use them for yourself. Originally $12.99 each, buy all three for $25. Just today and this weekend only! Buy them now!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Near Death Experience

Speaking of death (see yesterday's post about When Miraculous Healing Isn't Enough), I felt drawn to read an article included in an email I recently received. It turned out to be a first hand account of a really remarkable near death experience and all the things the author, Mellen-Thomas Benedict, learned from it. I think people need to read uplifting accounts like this. It would change how we hold death in this country.

When I worked for Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center all the people we supported wanted their patients -- their parents, spouses, family members and friends -- to be cured and to live, almost at whatever cost. People took extraordinary measures to keep their loved ones alive, and some of the caregivers died in the process! We were dealing with family members taking care of mostly elderly people with Azheimer's Disease, Parkinsons Disease, stroke or some other dementing illness. EVERY ONE of those people eventually died! Everyone dies! But they and/or their families fought it with everything they had.

We had compassion. We supported them in whatever decision the families wanted to make. But there's a secret those of us doing this work never told anyone. We always closed the caregiver's file after a specific period passed after a patient's death. And every time we closed a file, we celebrated.

It meant, finally, that the ordeal for that family could be over. It was over for the patient at least. They had moved to another plane of existence. And we truly believed that would be a much better place.

Cafepress? No More!!!

Speaking of needing to bring in abundant prosperity, a new partner and the ability to do new things with confidence (see my previous post), those of us who have been pouring years of effort into building and learning to promote our Cafepress gift shops are being put out of business.

Yesterday the company millions of us have been supporting with user-generated content-- their corporate business model -- were shocked to learn that Cafepress intends to raise their base prices to consumers while gutting the commission artists who design these products will earn on their work at the same time.

Most artists on Cafepress choose a mark-up between 25%-100% on most of their items. Now Cafepress is instituting a policy of 10% commissions on anything sold in their marketplace (but not in individual artist shops.) They say that this means we can still make money through driving sales to our individual shops but all the hard work we've been doing driving traffic to Cafepress through our product designs, product descriptions, blogging, advertising, etc. will be for naught.

This short sighted business practice means that designers who have figured out how to play the Cafepress game successfully are about to have their businesses gutted. The vast majority of Cafepress designers make most of their income through marketplace sales and it is their product designs and descriptions, picked up by Google, other search engines and found on the site itself that lead to these purchases.

Cafepress has benefited enormously from this as they make the lion's share of the profit in every sale that is made. In fact, Cafepress wouldn't be in business if it wasn't for the hard work artists have done in supplying their designs, promoting them, and getting their friends, family members and neighbors to buy them. Not to mention buying their own products to sell elsewhere.

Cafepress members on their very own forum are reporting that they will lose 70-80% of their incomes. There are people who have retired, quit their day jobs, and made a healthy living from this venture. One single mom has been supporting her family, making $50,000 a year through her Cafepress sales and 90% of her business comes through the marketplace instead of through her individual shop. She estimates her income will plummet to $5000-7000 and she doesn't know what she will do to replace it.

She's not alone! There are tens of thousands of shopkeepers on Cafepress. Paul and I have not cracked the code on how to make money with this yet. We're in it for grocery money. But that's not nothing!

By May 31st we and lots of people like us will be forced to scrap all our hard work and find other places to sell it. I, for one, will not keep our Cafepress shop open unless a major apology and turn around occurs. Even if that does happen though, we'll have moved on.

SPECIAL SALE on Abundant Prosperity, Attracting a Partner, and Doing New Things with Confidence

A great opportunity to get three of my better selling Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy perfumes for a great price!

These are ones I think of as joyful and fun. Who doesn't want to feel wealthy, attractive and confident? Mama Love perfumes are not magic potions -- they actually work by changing how you feel from the inside out. And that's what helps you attract the kind of life you want!

These formulas not only smell good, you can use them with confidence because they're made with all natural and 100% organic ingredients --- better for you and better for the earth!

Normally $12.99 each, for this week only during my SPECIAL SALE you can get all three for $25. Buy this set of perfumes now or visit my Etsy shop to see everything currently available.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Pipa Update

We're taking Peeps to the vet again today. The laxative didn't get rid of whatever is making her gag and Paul thinks we need to ask the vet to do something more. Meanwhile we've both been giving her healings and she has been responding to that. Earlier in the week Paul's mom and I made her drink water and milk from an eyedropper and I pushed her to eat baby food. She would eat or drink just a tiny amount and then gag and fight to get away. We're certain the force feeding helped when we did it because she would revive for a bit and definitely got stronger but she also stopped trusting us.

Luckily Paul wouldn't participate in this, thinking she was going to need a "safe place" and that seems to have paid off. My guidance was to allow the energy healing to do its work and she would take food on her own so we chose to go to "free will eating and drinking" a couple of nights ago. She won't eat or drink when Paul's mom or I offer anything to her... but she drank an entire saucer of milk without gagging from Paul.

That's an enormous improvement!

When Miraculous Healing Isn't Enough

Well, being a Libra, if I'm going to take a strong position on something the next thing I wind up thinking to do is to talk about the flip side. Oh well, here I go again.

Yesterday I wrote about the miraculous healing Reiki can do. But that's not always true and, even when it is, it's not always enough!

I had miraculous healing with Reiki from the get go. Really soon after my Reiki Level 1 class -- the beginner level -- I had minor surgery for a badly bitten tongue and had a severe reaction to the antibiotics I was given. Absolutely miserable and unable to do anything I just did Reiki on myself throughout the day instead.

It was supposed to take 7 days for the tongue to heal. Instead it took 1 to heal and 2 for the redness and scar to go away, too! Pretty much unheard of, if you ask me!

Many years later, after achieving the Master level and branching out and following my own guidance along with the Reiki I was taught to do, I healed the same cat who is so sick today of a tumor. It was growing outside her chest and the vet said it looked bad and had to come off. I was worried about being able to pay for it but the vet assured me it was slow growing and could wait a few weeks while I got the money together. So I determined to take 3 weeks to try to heal her myself first. I promised to make an appointment if I saw no change in that period.

3 weeks went by and I did healing with her 2-3 times a day every day, sometimes for long stretches of time. I felt lots of energy movement and noticed significant changes energetically as the weeks went on but the outward appearance of the growth did not change a bit. I made the appointment for her surgery and when I got off the phone I went over to pet Peeps and the tumor was gone! I called my very scientifically-minded ex-husband over to check her out and he found the dried up remains of tumor in her fur. There was nothing left for the vet to remove, no surgery was done, and she's had no other serious health problems until this week with the incident of eating chicken bones (we think) from the garbage. If I ever wanted proof that miraculous healings can occur this is the one that cemented the deal. I've never gone back to thinking it can't be done.

BUT it hasn't always gone that way! Especially with human beings. Humans think too much and get trained out of believing such miracles are possible. Some people feel lots of energy movement in a Reiki session, warmth, tingling, and jump off the table exclaiming "Wow! That was amazing!" Other people feel nothing! Nothing at all. And report little or no change except for thinking it was a nice relaxing thing to do. Who doesn't like to be lovingly touched for an hour with soft music playing? It doesn't matter what Reiki can or cannot do-- you can hardly miss if the person likes to be touched at all.

I guess that's why people hedge their bets and say it works well for stress reduction and leave the rest of the possibilities out. Who wants to get people's hopes up and let them down? Not everyone responds to it.

Other people report great things happening but the healing session may or may not lead to the healing they want.

Pretty early on when I was just getting started as a Reiki practitioner I was called in to work with a team of Reiki practitioners to work with a woman who had cancer. She wanted to be healed! She wanted to be well and she responded well to the healing she received, reporting feeling really good as the healing progressed. But I kept hearing guidance that said she was dying and was not going to get well.

I didn't tell her this. I didn't want to. I don't want to be the agent of someone giving up because they heard something from me that may or may not have been true! But my guidance kept insisting! Tell her, tell her. It wouldn't leave me alone. I finally asked for the right words and said "My guidance says you need to get ready to move to another plane of existence." She, and everyone in the room, took that to mean she needed to reach a higher level of consciousness, of acceptance, of faith, or enlightenment. And she felt heartened by that and said she would.

And maybe that helped! But she did die within a few weeks anyway. In terms of what she so desperately said she wanted, she did not achieve her goal. But, perhaps she received what she needed.


My "Energy Healers Do It With Love" design is available on T-shirts -- including a nice array of organic ones -- and on notecards, framed prints, and a wide variety of stuff in my giftshop through Cafepress.

SPECIAL SALE - Five Flower Essence Aromatherapy Perfumes for a Great Price!

Have lots of people on your list to give gifts? Or just want to try a lot of different Mama Love healing formulas for yourself or your business?

Here's a great opportunity to try 5 different flower essence aromatherapy perfumes for a really low price. Normally, $12.99 for a 1 dram bottle, get five 1 dram bottles of your choice for $40 ($8 each).

Choose among the following choices:

Abundant Prosperity
Attracting a Partner
Comfort and Joy
Doing New things with Confidence
Focussed Attention
Inner Strength and Protection
Manifesting Life Purpose
Open-Hearted Loving
Peace and Goodwill
PMS, Postpartum and Menopause Support
Releasing Worry and Fear
Renewed Faith and Optimism
Restful Sleep
Troubled Times
Trusting Inner Guidance

Mama Love healing perfumes combine the emotionally healing properties of flower essences and aromatherapy. They're spiritually-guided and infused with Reiki to bring you the most beneficial products I can make!

Click here to purchase the ones you want now. Or visit my Etsy shop to see everything that's currently on sale.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Reiki is Not Just for Stress Reduction!

When I took my Reiki practitioner training my teacher liked to joke that her energy healing teacher used to complain that Reiki is "Gumby does healing." What she meant was that you don't have to have the awareness or faith of an ant to do Reiki. It's that easy! You just believe what your teacher taught you and move your hands from one prescribed position to the next, 5 minutes in each place, for an hour or so and, voila!, you've done a typical Reiki session! And your client usually reports that they feel better, too. The average person who uses Reiki for "healing" work is a massage therapist who added the technique to his or her practice by taking a weekend workshop. They think of it as "stress reduction", they tell their clients it's for stress reduction, and that's all a lot of people think it's for.

Please forgive me if you found this blog by typing "Reiki" into Google, you're a massage therapist, and you know better than this! I'm not talking about you! But I just spent a fair bit of time on a forum trying to dispell myths about Reiki and explaining what it is a bit and "killed the threads" I was on. That means that, even though I was quite polite and trying to be helpful, all the people who were participating before stopped talking and nobody else jumped in to participate either. Maybe it was because I did a good job ... but it's really weird when it happens anyway so it's on my mind a bit today.

Okay, so for those of you who don't know, what is Reiki?

Reiki is a Japanese healing art in which the practitioner channels healing life force energy to themselves or their client for healing benefit. It's very easy to do. The practice is passed on through a series of attunement ceremonies in a Reiki class. Students, depending on the level, are usually taught at least one symbol that they are supposed to memorize, draw and visualize at specific junctures of a healing session. Supposedly the symbols themselves hold the healing power... at least most teachers share the information that way... but most of us who take this practice seriously for any length of time learn that it's intention and growing faith that does the trick.

Back when Reiki was first brought to this country people gathered in Reiki classes that lasted weeks and months -- not just a weekend or two or three. Demonstrations happened each time and students grew deeper in faith through these experiences one step at a time together. Not unlike a church meeting with evangelical healings...except we're talking about a practice associated with Buddhist belief systems here. Students were given additional Reiki attunements in a measured way while their faith grew and solidified. Eventually, they could attain the level of Reiki Master and were trained to pass attunements and teach other people. This process could take years of practice and cost up to $10,000.

Current day Reiki practitioners are often shocked that anyone would charge $10,000. Hey, Reiki should just be given away! That's the Diane Stein battle cry! Diane Stein wrote Essential Reiki: A Complete Guide to an Ancient Healing Art, what is probably one of the only best-selling books on Reiki around. The book publishing company I used to be an art director for, Crossing Press, published it. The publisher felt that making "secret" but beneficial healing and spiritual practices available to one and all was part of her mission. And I don't fault anyone for that.

But Reiki used to be thought of as a powerful practice that could have profound effects! Miraculous cures for serious medical conditions, sometimes instantly, but also step by step over time. And people wouldn't give up on the healing if it took several sessions. 10 sessions or so was not unusual. You learned that it's okay for healing to happen incrementally if that's the level of faith and ability to integrate it most people happen to have. That's the benefit of regular practice with other people. You see it work with witnesses -- instantly OR over several sessions. You have verifiable results either way that other people can attest to as well. It doesn't have to be all or nothing in a single session -- most people outside of evangelical tent revivals don't assimilate that. But you don't feel crazy for "believing" in it anyway--you don't have to "believe" when you have proof!

When you simply give the attunements away, teach a few basic hand positions, tell people to memorize some special symbols -- in purple no less -- and send them on their way.... they miss the heart of the practice. It's about scientifically trying the work out, getting verifiable results, and repeating them.

Reiki teachers try to teach people that Reiki isn't "faith healing." You don't have to have faith in order for it to work. But where does true faith come from anyway? If you see the results, you "believe" in it! Reiki "teaches" you! Believe it or not, if you get results with Reiki and keep getting it, faith will build itself. And the more you receive results, the better at channeling Reiki you become. That's where "mastership" legitimately should come from. And that's what faith healing is all about.
My "I Heal with Reiki" design is available on T-shirts, posters, postcards and all kinds of cool stuff from my Zazzle gift shop. I also infuse all my Mama Love flower essence aromatherapy products with Reiki, too.

SPECIAL SALE THIS WEEK - Flower Essence Aromatherapy for PMS, Menopause and PostPartum Support

The name of this Mama Love healing formula for PMS, Menopause and PostPartum Support used to be "Women's Changes." I still have a few of those in the old packaging left so I've marked them down and am making them available through my Etsy shop.

This one is for the emotional mood swings that are associated with hormonal changes. Use it everyday for two weeks before your period and watch those mood swings go away!

Similar hormonal changes occur in menopause and just after a baby is born. Used daily, along with diet changes, counseling and/or spiritual sources of emotional support, you can affect those mind/body patterns and get your cronehood or motherhood off to a great start!

Normally $12.99 for a 1 dram bottle, now on sale until they're gone for $9 only through my Etsy shop.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Inspirational Video

Youtube disabled the ability to embed this video by request -- probably way too many people wanted this one on their blogs. But click on this link to see Susan Boyle give an amazing heart-lifting performance on the "American Idol" like show "Britain's Got Talent". It's well worth a look!

SPECIAL SALE on Manifesting Life Purpose, Abundant Prosperity and Trusting Inner Guidance

How often do you get an offer like this? Flower essence aromatherapy designed to help you create the life that you really want! And they smell really great, too.

3 of my better selling perfumes on sale -- this week only -- for a great price! Normally $12.99 each, get all three for $25.

Only in the SPECIAL SALE section in my Etsy shop.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Modern Pioneers

I went to a meeting of a local women's group recently. It was VERY interesting!

First of all, I have always joined women's groups. I haven't been in one for awhile but they're often a great way to make new friends. This is one of the best I've seen.

It's a very diverse group of women. There are a couple vocal enough about their Mormon or Christian identities to make a point of letting people know. The rest aren't saying. There are Obama supporters and Obama haters, old women and younger ones. I think there's even a lesbian couple. But none of these differences are part of the conversation. There is enough commonality to hold us together—we all live in the desert in the 35 miles between Snowflake and Concho. We're modern pioneers.

This area wasn't settled much 20 years ago and it's still sparcely settled to this day. The roads are mostly dirt. There's no electricity— you have to make your own. There's no water unless you dig a well. Telephone lines only recently made it out here and not everyone has one yet. Cell phones are a necessity.

The U.S. Agricultural Department calls this region a "near fatal environment" for growing plants. The earth here is essentially sand and rock and is full of minerals and salts far too harsh for most things to survive in. In the winter it freezes until April or May. In the summer it bakes. There's almost no rain except in July (monsoon season) when it rains nearly everyday. And the rest of the year the wind blows through here, sometimes at 50-100 mph.

The women running the meeting have been here 15-20 years. The rest of us are newbies. "What do you need to know?" they sincerely ask. "We're here to help!" They know that if people hadn't lent them a helping hand they wouldn't have made it. And they started this group to band together and help each other out.

One woman wants to know what can grow here and how to do it: Add LOTS of soil amendments, get manure from Debbie or Barbara's chickens, build raised beds, shield them partially from the summer sun, and make sure you use lots of chicken wire to keep the rabbits out!

Another needs advice on building. Lots of patience apparently is required. Most everyone drags a travel trailer to their land while digging a well, building their road, and getting their solar and/or wind setup together. That and a gas-powered generator, at least as a back-up, is pretty much a requirement. They all hope to move into their "real home" -- a log cabin, manufactured home or mobile, in a few months but the typical trajectory usually winds up taking years. 2-3 years is pretty good. 10 years is not unusual. The women think the locals aren't too dependable when it comes to building and complain that the building department takes it own sweet time when it comes to inspections and issuing permits. But that's nothing compared to the stories of what happens when the companies who deliver manufactured homes and mobiles show up and discover the roads are all dirt that turns to deep mud in the rainy season.

"Oh yeah, everybody! Be sure to give us two telephone numbers for our mailing list! One for regular use and one for emergencies. When someone needs help we want to know who to call!"


"No, no, no. NEVER call 911!" Several women in the group can attest to the folly in that. The 911 service doesn't know their way around here. If you absolutely have to have an ambulance, get help from someone in the group to get you to the highway so the paramedics can find you!

And if you need the police? Call the sheriff directly. He, at least, knows where everything is. But don't expect him to come around too soon! The nearest police station for a lot of these women is 40 minutes away. If the squad car is "up on the reservation" it could take the better part of a day!

That's why everyone has a shotgun. And I mean everyone! Several of the newer women don't know how to use one yet but (except for me and the other very newest person) they all expect that it's a necessity. What if you meet a bobcat or a rattler or come across an injured horse or cow that needs putting out of their misery? And don't get them started on the packs of domestic dogs that sometimes run wild or the rare but not unknown violent criminal. At one point we were all sitting around learning how to make really old-fashioned knitted slipper booties and discussing the best time to set up a firearms training as a women's group event. The two of us truly new ones were wide eyed with our mouths dropped open. The rest saw nothing surreal in the juxtaposition of these two activities.

All in all it was the most interesting women's group I've ever been to. It's only met three or four times but everyone was really friendly and already thinking of themselves as a community.

SPECIAL SALE on Renewed Faith and Optimism

Couldn't we all use some renewed faith and optimism?

Well, this particular formula of mine is going away. Other ones on my list work as well and, to be honest, this variation has been a bit of a hard sell.

It's a great one though! I made it specifically for people going through a period of feeling hopeless and depressed.

Find it in my Etsy shop in the SPECIAL SALE section, marked down from $12.99 to $9.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pipa Watch

The Pipa watch continues. Our sweet kitty has been very sick for a few days now. We took her to the vet, a really nice guy, who gave us a kitty laxative for her and suggested chicken-flavored baby food. He thinks it's a hairball that's become lodged because Peeps doesn't have her favorite hairball remedy -- green grass -- out here to eat.

The laxative seems to be helping. She used her litter box last night. But not much and she still won't eat except a tiny bit. The vet was right about the baby food. It did entice her to eat about 1/2 teaspoon but then she started gagging and glares at me if I come near her with the stuff. She did drink a little 2% milk mixed with water, though, today.

We continue to send her healing energy. She normally doesn't want any but right now she does and sits in Paul's lap and purrs when we do it. Keep sending her healing thoughts. The vet said it might be three days before the laxative does anything but it's already helped. My guidance, though, says it could be a week before she's on her feet.
In other news, we saw our first local cattle drive today from our office window. There were cowboys on horses driving a herd to the next watering area on the hill across the way from our house.

SPECIAL SALE... Mama Love Healing Support Gift Set

This is a very special opportunity. I don't NEED to put these three flower essence aromatherapy perfumes on sale -- they're my best-sellers!

But -- because I'm doing the experiment of having my first ever real sale this week-- I'm going all the way.

My Healing Support gift set is for anyone going through a hard time. Mama Love for Troubled Times is for heartbreak and sorrow. Releasing Worry and Fear is great for stress reduction and releasing anxiety! And Restful Sleep, used every day, can be really helpful. There are times when people need all three! Is this one of them for someone you love?

Individually these perfumes sell for $12.99 each. This week only get all three for $25. That's one for free! Click here to buy the Healing Support Gift Set from my Etsy shop now. Or visit my shop to see everything that's on sale right now.

A Man on a Quest

A man on a quest can be perceived to be a fool or a great inspiration. That's part of the theme of the musical "The Man of La Mancha", based on the story of Don Quixote, an old man who thought so much of the days of chivalry and the importance of fighting against injustice that he believed he should go on a quest as a knight-errant.

At a certain point in the story he thinks he is fighting his mortal enemy The Enchanter. His foe holds up a giant mirror shaped like a shield and Don Quixote sees himself the way others see him -- as a crazy fool. He almost gives up his quest and eventually dies but not before the people he befriended along the way see the error of The Enchanter's ways and resume taking on the quest for him.

The society we live in, especially the cynical parts we see on TV, likes to enchant people into believing that idealists and people who live by the courage of their convictions and sense of purpose are fools. "How can you live like this?" the question is asked, injecting derision and doubt over and over.

Perhaps a better question would be "How can you not?" You have only one life to live... this lifetime at least. :-) Why not follow your dreams, follow your star?
This photo of a wooden Don Quixote sculpture was taken in Davenport, CA. You can find it in my Cafepress giftshop by clicking here.

Friday, April 17, 2009

SPECIAL SALE THIS WEEK - 4 Flower Essence Aromatherapy Perfumes for a Great Price!

The One Week Only Special Sale in my Etsy shop continues!

Choose 4 of the 15 flower essence aromatherapy perfumes I make and save money. Normally, $12.99 each. Buy 4 for $32 and save almost $20. (Include a message with your order telling me which ones you want!)

Your choices:

Abundant Prosperity
Attracting a Partner
Comfort and Joy
Doing New things with Confidence
Focussed Attention
Inner Strength and Protection
Manifesting Life Purpose
Open-Hearted Loving
Peace and Goodwill
PMS, Postpartum and Menopause Support
Releasing Worry and Fear
Renewed Faith and Optimism
Restful Sleep
Troubled Times
Trusting Inner Guidance
Mama Love healing perfumes combine the emotionally healing properties of flower essences and aromatherapy. They're spiritually-guided and infused with Reiki to bring you the most beneficial products I can make! They're a great product to use for yourself but, because I package them with my cute Healer Mama cards that tell people all about them, they also make a great gift for someone you love.
All Mama Love perfumes are handmade by me. I shrinkwrap them with a blowdryer and tie them to cards I designed and had printed at a print shop.

They're made to aromatherapy standards for their emotional effects -- you won't impact an entire room like other perfumes. Your body is meant to soak it up and USE it. Like all 100% natural perfumes made without synthetic extenders you may need to reapply it later in the day to renew its scent.
Click here to purchase this item now. Or click here to visit my Etsy shop and see everything I have to offer. Look in the section marked SPECIAL SALE to see what's on special now!

The Petrified Forest

I finally looked at the photos on my camera from the Petrified Forest / Painted Desert trip. Not too good. I really need to use better camera settings and a polarizing filter. Paul got some great ones! Mine look all washed out and pale. I guess that's why he's the official photographer in the family and I'm the assistant. I get lucky when I experiment with my settings a bit. He actually knows what to do. The ones on this blog page came out pretty good though.

I thought this tree was amazing. Looked like a giant redwood tree that had fallen down and broken into pieces. But it actually had broken long after it fell...after being preserved in a silty bath full of minerals. The organic matter all gets replaced by quartz, manganese, copper, iron oxides and other minerals but the structure of the tree, including the tree rings and bark, remains the same.

When the tree sections break apart or are cut the different minerals show up as great variations in color. It's really quite interesting and colorful. The variety shown here is sometimes known as Rainbow Agate or Rainbow Quartz.

People in Snowflake and Taylor and further out in the desert where we are all have at least small pieces of Petrified Wood in their yards. Nothing like the big trees we saw here though. People have collected these fossil tree pieces for years. They use them to line their gardens and make raised beds and retaining walls. We've seen entire houses built this way with mortar in between. At the Petrified Forest you can see that this practice is as old as time. There's an ancient Indian pueblo there made of Petrified Wood. It's called Agate House and you can see it below.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

SPECIAL SALE THIS WEEK ONLY! 3 perfume gift sets for $25

Here's the scoop: I want to find out-- do sales really work?

I normally sell my individual flower essence aromatherapy perfumes for $12.99 each and 3-perfume gift sets for $35.99.

As an experiment-- for this week only -- I'm putting all 3-perfume gift sets in my Etsy shop on sale for $25. That's pretty darn close to my wholesale pricing.

I also have a couple of perfumes I'm discontinuing. Those individual perfumes are on sale for $9 each.

This sale is ONLY available through my Etsy shop. Look for items marked SPECIAL SALE or go directly to the SPECIAL SALE section on my shop through the links on the right hand side of the page.

A great opportunity for Mother's Day! And any other special gift-giving occasion you have coming up. Father's Day? Earth Day? Graduation? Or just for yourself.

Do it now!

Decorate Your House With Photo Throw Pillows!

Recently my partner Paul sold seven throw pillows from our Cafepress giftshop with this image of a pelican on it. (You can click on the photo to find out more.) What an interesting choice, we thought. Does this person have a beach house with a pelican-themed decor? A bed and breakfast? Maybe a gift shop?

We don't know. But I do know one thing. I think its pretty cool to be learning how to be a product designer a little bit.

If I were decorating my house I'd choose flower pillows or perhaps some animal ones. One of each kind. Here are my favorite choices. You can click on the photos and get to those pages in our shop.

Bottle Caps, Mbira Music, and Calling the Spirits In

This post's for you, Kim!

This is an African mbira. I learned to play it in Santa Cruz as part of a community performing traditional Shona songs from Zimbabwe. This instrument is played throughout eastern and southern Africa and is an integral part of traditional celebrations and healing ceremonies of various sorts.

The Shona people have played mbira for thousands of years. You put one finger through the hole in the bottom right front to hold the instrument steady and pluck the metal keys with your fingers and thumb as shown in the bottom photo.

Shells, and now bottle caps, are affixed to the front to make the characteristic buzzing sound associated with all Shona music. The buzzing is deliberately included and is thought to attract the ancestor spirits.

If you click on this link you can listen to some traditional mbira music. I used to know how to play the first one, Nhemamusasa.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Energy Healing for a Sick Cat

Peep doesn't feel good. She got into the garbage last night and we have no idea what she ate. She was miserable all last night and much of today. Here she is all cuddled up with the doll she adopted this morning. Normally she'd curl up with one of us but she feels nauseated and prefers not to be touched.

Got some help from Paul about helping her with our energy healing work. Worrying at the same time that one is doing healing does not compute. It's pretty much counter-message. You can't believe God heals and behave in doubt and expect a "healing" to take hold. The minute you doubt you're disconnecting.

So earlier today I kept trying way too hard to help Peeps and she kept reacting by pulling away. Paul took me aside and set me straight about how my worried mother attitude was interfering. He has experienced miraculous healing from me before and reminded me of how to do it. You basically have to drop into a much more believing and focused place. I let myself "see" the healing when I succeed in doing that. It's different from "visualizing" where a person tries to direct healing by deliberately trying to create pictures of the result. In the healing I'm doing I let go of the "picture creation" and work in concert with whatever images I see.

When I was in worried mother mode all I could see was black which made me think Peep was dying and worried me all the more. After being coached by Paul I was able to think differently about the outcome. I looked again and saw a bright white light that was red around the edges and, as I believed more and more that that light was beneficial, I saw a healthy pink and white come back into the image of Peep I carried in my mind. The red in the light disappeared and was replaced by the healthy pink. Then the light left, too. When I look at the image now I see predominantly healthy pink tinged with a sickly yellow that is also disappearing and getting better, too.

When I finished this process I looked over at Peep and she had perked up and was looking much better. She still wants more sleep and is currently cuddled up with her doll some more but that's often part of what a good healing is for. Clients usually report needing rest after a healing process occurs. We, of course, are checking in on her to make sure she's getting her needs met. I'd like to see her be interested in drinking some water and eating again but she knows what her body is saying to do and that means, at this time at least, to get more rest.

We'll let people know when she's up and about. It's so windy and frightful outside today with sand blowing everywhere neither one of the cats or us wants to be out. Curling up on the couch -- me with my laptop-- is what this day seems to be about so far for all of us.

Is the Economy Getting Better or Is It Just Spring?

Paul and I have noticed a change in the last few weeks -- many more sales in our Cafepress Shop. But why? There are way too many changes that have happened to know for sure. Here's what we did and what we've seen before:

• We lowered our prices. We used to take 33% of each sale, now it's about 25%. That made a big difference in some cases...but those aren't the products that have sold. The ones we've sold so far are only $2 less in most cases. Did we get the price down to some magic price point? Could be! But is that the truth?

• We made sure to announce the change in our monthly email newsletter. Two sales actually did come that way.

• It's Spring! This is traditionally the time in retail when sales improve. The weather is better, people feel better. Then there's the gift giving occasions of Mother's Day, Father's Day, Easter. Plus people have recovered from Christmas shopping and, if they have a tax refund coming, they feel like celebrating.

Plus there IS the confidence and desire that things are better economically. You can't keep a good dog down or so the saying goes. I saw a news report recently talking about all the people who have lost jobs. Then they said an interesting thing on another news channel: 40% of the people who have lost jobs in recent months found a new one right away. The mid section (the less expensive areas in terms of housing) have been relatively free of recession woes, compared to the coasts. There are other positive indications of strength in the economy, too.

Whatever is going on we sure hope the trends continue. Whether it's making better business choices, seasonal changes, return in the belief of better economic times... maybe the season of resurrection and rebirth makes people feel good... I guess it doesn't matter as long as it keeps on happening!

What A Special Spiritual Counseling and Healing Team Gets Paid

The conflict Paul and I have been having most recently has been about whether to change how we get paid and how much. We thought we had resolved that one. The subject of money has been a concern since Day 1. But after quite a bit of experimentation we came to a compromise that really wasn't completely satisfactory to either of us alone.

That's not exactly the same as both of us winning. Coming up with a reluctantly acceptable compromise is more like the best most couples ever expect to do. We had worked really hard at being respectful of each other's thinking and the experiences we had had together thus far, so it was the best we were able to think of at the time. But I know both of us were actually somewhat disappointed by the choice that we made.

I always wanted us to charge more for our work. I had already gotten my rate up to the $100/hour rate we finally settled on when I worked alone before Paul and I met. And that had taken a fair bit of trial and error and lots of change and personal growth at the time. I believed I KNEW what we should charge working as a team: $150! After all, we had done extensive research on the web. Individuals working alone doing anything comparable to what we do frequently charge that much, until recently we lived in one of the most expensive places in the country and, despite the old saying, two people definitely do NOT live as cheaply as one! At the very least, we eat twice as much.

Paul was horrified by that suggestion! He originally wanted our prices to be as affordable as possible. He's a true humanitarian at heart and neither one of us has ever been wealthy. If we couldn't imagine paying more for our own services -- $100/hour is the most I've ever paid anyone -- how could we possibly charge our friends and neighbors that much?

He had a point. You have to believe in yourself enough to think that your much wealthier friends and neighbors might think you're worth paying as much as they're used to paying anyone else. But if you've been living low on the pay scale yourself it's heart-breaking to leave people in your own tax bracket out. Maybe we've had a working class poverty-conscious block or two of our own that we needed to work out but we really don't want to cater to the richest segments of our society alone!

So we hemmed and hawed and together went through some of the learning and growth experiences I had partially gone through alone. We tried some things I never was willing to do -- work on a donation basis and then on a sliding scale -- and then wound up exactly where I had been before. No sliding scale and charging the going rate in Santa Cruz ($100) for a practitioner working alone.

Well, guess what? In some parts of Arizona that rate is more than acceptable but in the tiny rural area where we live $100/hour is thought to be an outrageously high fee!

We love working in-person and really want to do that more...but we do a lot of our business over the internet now and we aren't convinced we will stay here anymore... so you can see the dilemma. For the last few weeks it's been back to the drawing board once again.

This time we went for win-win. What did we both want to do? I wanted a higher flat fee that reflects the quality of what we do. We both wanted to be able to help people in our local community here and wherever we wind up choosing to be. So we decided to do both:

Our current flat fee is $150.
We schedule in the afternoon and evenings (including weekends) and are currently able to book sessions 24-60 hours ahead or more.

We also offer half length sessions and lower rates for people with financial difficulties.
We have a sliding scale that goes from $50-150 / hour, $25-75 / 1/2 hour. People may choose whatever they can afford within these ranges.

And what if people are so happy with us that the fee they chose in advance doesn't seem high enough?
That has happened frequently enough! So we have a very clearly labeled Paypal button on our site for tips for exceptional service and donations to help us make our services accessible to others.

Visit our website to find out more or click here to make an appointment now.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Beautiful Icelandic Poppy Journal

About a year ago I designed some really gorgeous journals featuring flower photography by me and my partner Paul. I did them through a print-on-demand publisher called and thought I was locked into a price I really thought was too high. Turns out I wasn't so I just lowered the price to something I think is quite reasonable.

These journals are larger than average -- 8 1/2" x 8 1/2" square -- which as a journal user I find really quite nice. Smaller and more distinctive than a notebook but with LOTS of room to write. I chose to have lightly lined pages with decorative dingbats to make that look nice. And the cover photography goes edge to edge with NO type on the top! What that means -- if you're Paul's mother -- is that you can frame your book so everyone can see it and never use it as a journal at all! :->

You can see the inside pages and back cover of this journal by clicking here. You can buy it there, too! This particular one features a gorgeous Icelandic Poppy that Paul took a macro photo of in a neighbor's front yard in Santa Cruz, CA.

Conflict Resolution and Family Caregiving

I used to work as a Family Caregiving Consultant for the Alzheimer's Association and later for Del Mar Caregiver Resource Center in Santa Cruz, CA. Conflict resolution was one of the most challenging aspects of long term family caregiving -- so many factors to be worked out, and such committed and heartfelt views. Here are some excerpts from an article I wrote on the subject back then. A new version of this can be found in my latest book, The Spiritual Journey of Family Caregiving. The book can be found both on my own website and though my shop on


Sometimes when I work with families I think of my clients as being on a see-saw. One person in the family voices a very strong opinion about what HAS to happen and another family member insists in an equally loud voice that he or she wants the opposite. The balance of power wildly swings back and forth until one person falls off and the other person (merrily?) goes on their way doing exactly what they want without interference. (Then they come to complain to me that no one in the family "gives a damn" about the person they're taking care of so they have to do everything!)

When I was a kid my friends and I liked to play the see-saw game where the idea was to learn how to keep the see-saw in a balanced position. This was possible but very hard to maintain sitting way out at the ends. But as we learned to move our seats closer and closer towards each other we would eventually get to the point where we could sit in balance with almost no effort at all.

As an adult I forgot the see-saw game and I certainly never applied it to the game of life; but if the laws of physics are, in fact, the laws of nature, then why wouldn't they apply to interactions between people and not just interactions between objects? Let's explore that concept in the arena of conflict in general and then apply it to family caregiving. I'll start with an example from my life.

When I was in my early 20's I had a conversation with a wise elder of the Wampanoag Indian tribe in Massachusetts that made a lasting impression on me. I wanted to change the world, was a staunch vegetarian, and believed that how I lived and the food I ate (or didn't eat) was an integral part of my overall mission. Yet I couldn't understand why my family and many other people rejected my behavior with such vehemence —after all, I was on the side of what was right and good, wasn't I?

Manitonquat said he admired the motivation behind my choices but believed strongly himself that the extremity of my stance was counterproductive. His choice was to teach the sacredness of all things, ourselves included, and to help people feel grateful to the animals and plants that gave their lives for our sustenance. He wanted to help people love the earth and make sure to treat it well regardless of what one ate. He believed that if he could help get mainstream Americans, through love, to only eat as much meat as they needed and to start by experimenting with other yummy protein sources one day a week it would have a much greater impact than converting a small group of people to become total vegetarians (which might not be a sound choice for the planet, in his opinion, anyway).

Now, of course, I didn't really understand what he was talking about until many years later when his words came ringing home. I chose to give up being a vegetarian to cope with serious health concerns and couldn't believe the condemnation I heard from my vegetarian friends for "giving in." Their polarized stance made me feel unloved and angry because I realized if they couldn't support me in a life choice that had an obvious and immediately beneficial impact on my personal well-being, how could they ever expect anyone else to respect their (my old) perspective about what was best for the well-being of the planet (i.e. all of us)? The damage inherent in polarized politics became painfully apparent to me in that moment, as it has quite often in recent times. Now, as a family consultant, I see the impact polarized positions create in the lives of caregivers and, ultimately, in the lives of the people they care for.

On the polarized ends of the see-saw are always two people who are absolutely commited to what they believe is right; yet, it is a rare moment when I see people acknowledge that their commitment is a beautiful thing they have in common! In fact, the reason people often take polarized stances is to counterbalance an extreme position on the other side. Their commitment to justice and fair play, if not love, is what creates the imbalance AND it is that very commitment that can turn things around if they apply the laws of nature skillfully.

Remember, the see-saw game? The way to create balance easily without taking extreme positions is for both people to move closer together. You have to look for sources of commonality and learn to acknowledge what is right about each other's perspective. This is easier said than done but if people didn't have the goal of making things go well (at least from the perspective they see things from) there wouldn't be an argument in the first place. We all want things to go well -- hooray! -- let's see how that can be done.

The most charged and most typical family argument I see every day is the one around the decision to place mom or dad in a nursing home. One sibling, usually a devoted daughter, insists that mom (it's usually the mother) should get to live at home to the bitter end no matter what it takes while other family members believe a nursing home or residential care facility is a better choice. The one who wants mom at home will often say the others obviously don't care about mom—mom always said she'd rather die than be placed in the nursing homes she remembers from her childhood -- and the right thing, the moral thing, is obviously to keep her at home. The other family members feel condemned—they know mom might have a difficult emotional transition to make—but they also see how full-time caregiving is destroying the life of the one who is primarily in charge and, for a wide variety of reasons, they can't or won't do what little sister has done.

So they express themselves in a polarized way to counter the criticism they feel: "No! You're wrong! You're not doing a good enough job! Mom would be better off with her own peer group with trained professionals taking care of her needs!" They believe this is a loving stance, a statement of how much they do care for their parent, but it doesn't come across this way.

Neither side feels heard, both sides feel condemned and unsupported, and the impasse remains in place. What usually happens is the one who wants mom home insists on doing it no matter what and, because other family members don't agree, she gets no help. The breach in family relationships that happens as a result is often never repaired.

But what would happen if one person came closer to the middle of the see-saw and said, "I hear how much you love mom and how much you are trying to meet her needs. Tell me more. How did you come to believe this is the best solution?"

If one person felt truly heard, loved and acknowledged wouldn't they eventually be curious about why their so very loving sibling believed the opposite? Old family arguments and long-standing roles and dynamics obviously play a role in this but often the simple skill of learning to listen when everything inside is screaming "NO! LISTEN TO ME!" makes the biggest difference. Then, of course, it's important to take your turn so the reasons behind your stance are heard as well but that often has to come second.

Then what? Well, I've seen so many different solutions to this particular impasse I find myself amazed at the levels human creativity can achieve when everyone is in alignment with the highest good of everyone involved. If little sister is exhausted by being the primary caregiver and big sister can't help because she lives several states away but is willing to help pay for a nursing home maybe that money could be used for respite care instead. Maybe younger brother who is too emotionally distraught around his parents to want to be involved can be convinced to handle financial arrangements or caregiving responsibilities that don't involve hands-on care. Some people choose to use a nursing facility but come and take their relative out for a walk or a treat every day. Maybe if little sister met Mary, the friend of the family who LOVES her assisted living arrangement, she wouldn't feel so bad about helping mom adjust to a new home. Maybe if mom visited Mary and joined her for a meal and activity session she would suggest moving herself. (I actually HAVE seen this last scenario many more times than once!) But before any of these possibilities can happen, people have to be willing to move their seats closer to the center of the see-saw.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Bunny and Road Runner in the Painted Desert

Paul and I spent Easter at the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert. It's about an hour and a half away and a pretty unusual place. Paul got some amazing shots and put a couple on his blog. I haven't even looked at my photos yet. Maybe later this week.

One of the weirdest experiences of the day was watching a tiny cottontail rabbit chasing a road runner twice its size. Road runners eat small rodents so we assume the road runner was threatening the rabbit's babies. And it was MAD.

We watched the rabbit chase the road runner across the road and up a hill. The road runner kept stopping and looking back like it couldn't believe what was happening. But that tiny rabbit was intent on chasing him and almost caught him. We have NO idea what the bunny thought it would do once he caught him. Kick his butt?

I had a camera in my hand when the two of them went by but I never thought to take a picture. That's why I have the cartoon up instead. Road runners really do look a bit like this, enough so that I recognized the bird as soon as I saw one the first time. Real road runners, though, are brown with black spots. We've seen a couple of them in the last couple of days.

Resolving Polarity in Relationships -- Could Both People Be Right?

One of the biggest things Paul and I have taught each other is how both people hold a piece of the truth in a relationship and how important it is to resolve polarized thinking that arises from time to time.

You know how it is to KNOW you are absolutely right and to have your partner believe and adamantly insist on the exact opposite? Yeah? Well that's polarized thinking. BOTH people believe they are right and neither will budge an inch. And the more one of you insists on the rightness of their position, the more the other one fights back and insists on their own. You get further apart and it can even feel like you've reached an unsolvable impasse.

But there's always a chance to allow it to go another way.

Paul and I learned several things or two before getting together. I guess that's an advantage of getting together later in life. But even though we are best buddies and almost constant companions, workmates and playmates, we do get stuck on opposite sides of the tracks from time to time. We believe we are soulmates but the most important aspect of that is learning how to negotiate the complementary approaches to life the two of us frequently inhabit.

Complementary isn't bad -- it means we fill in for each other's experience and outlook in what should be a perfect fit.... but ONLY if we recognize it as such. Otherwise, it could be an experience that courts disaster. Luckily, we know our most likely pitfalls now. And we have learned that figuring out solutions that bring both of our rightnesses together is always the best way to go.