Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Let's Exchange Links!

One thing I've learned in the last year or two is the importance of community connection on the Internet (and everywhere else). When it comes to building a business, a readership or anything else on the Web it's absolutely essential.

If you like what Paul and I do, Mama Love Perfume, or what we share in our blogs and elsewhere on the web, and think your business or organization might benefit from links on our sites, get in touch with us! Let's do a link exchange. (It's really great for SEO and bringing traffic to us all!)

First visit our Links pages to see what we have in mind:

For Mama Love click here: http://www.healingcommunication.com/mamaloveproducts/Links.html

For Spiritual Counseling and Healing with Paul and Sheryl click here: http://www.healingcommunication.com/links.html

You can choose one of our sites to link to or both. (The more the merrier--we'll link to you both places if you decide to do that, too.)

ETSY PEOPLE, PLEASE NOTE: You don't have to have a website separate from Etsy but you do need someplace to put our links. A blog can work. Let's talk.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Restful Sleep Tonight For Sure!


I'm making a new batch of my "Mama Love for Restful Sleep" flower essence aromatherapy formula tonight and I had to take a break. The ingredients are so strong it makes me loopy. Paul, who is on the other side of the room, keeps asking what I'm making and what it's going to do to him. We ought to sleep well tonight! (He says that's OK with him.)

Etsy people can find this as a "perfume" here. And it's even better when used as a massage, body or bath oil. I'm going to go finish this batch now and go to bed!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Best Wedding Entrance Ever



Paul sent this to me. It made us both cry—it's just such a joyous and expressive way to celebrate. The ironic part is that the men are dressed exactly the way the Mormon men were dressed in the last blog post I put up. . . but look at what they do. It's a lot of fun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Social Norm Canaries

Paul and I went out for pizza today, just to get out of the house. After we had our food served a large group of people were seated at the table next to ours. They were most likely Mormon, based on the conversation, and the men were dressed to the hilt in the full Church uniform. Blond crew cut hair, plain white shirts, tan pants and ties—not business attire but 1950's business attire. Our personal conversation stopped dead. Paul said it was because they were too noisy and too close but for me it was something deeper than that.

What's with the crew cuts and uniform? Why is that the LDS norm?

I tried looking this up on the Internet. I found Mormons who take offense that people like myself view this attire as a uniform. To quote the first site I found: "the mode of dress is a sign of respect to Jesus Christ, our lord."

Wow, that nice Jewish boy, who grew up in the days of long hair and robes, I'm sure is duly impressed!

Seriously, why that uniform?

I kept taking deep breaths during my meal, reminding myself of the really nice Mormon people we have met here. It's a just a hairstyle, it's just a white shirt and tie, it's just old-fashioned conservative-appearing values. It's just not like where I have most recently called home. It's really not that unusual but. . .

Then we went for a drive before going home, going along the country backroads up towards Show Low and then back down again. I feel SO much healthier and happier whenever we get even a little ways out of town. The landscape becomes more diverse as the elevation rises—we get views of mountains and lakes, meadows, more variety in the plants and trees. The peoplescape is significantly more diverse as well. We see more brown faces, more variety in mode of dress, much more variety in things to do.

I've had a bad habit too much of my life of feeling "other." Sometimes that wasn't a habit at all. In my early childhood I had no choice about being an outcast. That was another time and place where I had the experience of being a member of a minority—Jewish in an Italian and Irish Catholic community just south of Boston. I didn't experience overt antisemitism most of the time but my cultural training made me stand out like a sore thumb and I was treated pretty horribly because of it. Now I have a loud alarm bell that goes off internally whenever the closest surrounding environmental norms appear to be too tight, too conforming, too much.

Paul gets those alarm bells pushed for other reasons. He felt shut out of his social group in Santa Cruz when he cut his hair short and adopted more conservative attire. You could say we're like social norm canaries and it doesn't matter whether the norm is a white shirt and tie or bell bottoms and tie-die. Paul put it well today when were discussing this: "I don't care if you look like a hippie if you're acting like a Nazi."

We fear the conformity, the attraction to the one size that doesn't really fit all. But the problem might be me. It's very restimulating to be in a distinct minority.

Hard as it may be to believe, I once witnessed two non-Mormon Christians in this town flinging their arms around each other and greeting each other like long lost souls. "Christians!" they shouted. "Oh, my God, other Christians!"

The Mormon church—the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—sounds pretty darn Christian to me. But I'm Jewish, what do I know? The other Christians in this community are not so likely to agree. With Mormons making up 51% of the population, all other groups in town wind up feeling like they're in the minority, too. That's a trip from my point of view, believe me!

It dampens the spirit to be around socially enforced and sometimes politically-enforced conformity. It certainly doesn't help with public relations with the greater public, I'll tell you that much. But I think that happens whenever a single group becomes a large enough majority. If you're one of the "different" ones it can be hard to be around.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Healthcare Reform Now!



In my email today I received an email from an organization called "Organizing for Healthcare" that included the video on this blog. I know not everyone who comes across this blog is an Obama supporter but organizing to defeat healthcare reform in the name of "crushing" Obama is as low as it goes.

I used to work in the healthcare field as a family consultant for the Alzheimer's Association and later for a nonprofit caregiver resource center in Santa Cruz, CA. By the time I left that line of work I couldn't stand listening to the stories anymore. . . but what I couldn't handle is NOT what you might think. I could listen and support people who were seeing their family members and friends deteriorate, lose their minds, and die. I could handle the disease and death. What I hated about this work was the devastating effect taking care of their loved ones had on these people because of the horrible lack of financial and hands-on support we allow to be acceptable in this country. Elderly people were doing 24-hour a day caregiving without back-up! You can't do that as a young person. There comes a time when you NEED to sleep, eat and do basic tasks of everyday living. You can't do this kind of caregiving without support!

And paying for help is more than most people could stand. People were in my office every day begging me to tell them how to keep from going bankrupt and I didn't know. That's what got to me. The utter disregard for human value and human life.

Meanwhile the drug companies who supply the pharmaceuticals their family members were talked into thinking they needed at several hundreds of dollars a month are getting fat. The pharmaceutical industry is one of the top 2-3 most profitable industries in the world, reporting profits of 100s of billions of dollars per year. Profit, by the way, is what is left AFTER a company pays for the research and development the drug companies claim they need to be paid so much for. Don't be fooled by the games they have been playing. Record profits were reported after Bush signed the most recent Medicare drug benefit "reform" bill. That's how insane our country has been—steal from the poor to fatten the already unbelievably rich! This is worse than insane—it's criminal!

It's also a big piece of what has been bringing the economy to its knees. Big multinationals allowed to run amok, taking everything they can get without regard to anyone else. 100s of billions of dollars of profit—every year—while people we care about are losing their homes and having to make the choice between paying for medications and having enough to eat.

It's time we all stood up and did something about it.

The Peaceable Kingdom

Photo by Paul Hood
We've been having a lot more bird and animal interaction lately. I woke up today in the barn to find a small hummingbird hovering at the foot of our bed. It came in and out of the open barn door several times and gave us a good checking out every time.

A few weeks ago the Raven family fledged their babies. The youngsters are almost as large as their parents but are much more raucous and shrill. Mr. and Mrs. Raven brought the family to the large tree where Paul's mom feeds the rabbits just at the time she was bringing the bird seed out. (Wild desert rabbits apparently don't like commercial rabbit food. They choose bird seed over other options every time.) When Priscilla tried to frighten the ravens away—she wants the other creatures to get some—the birds refused to budge.

"Are you kidding?" they seemed to say and looked at her like she was out of her mind. "We come out here everyday! We know this is out here for us!"

She gave in and got to watch as the parent Ravens taught their infants where to find a favorite treat.

Yesterday when Paul and I ate our breakfast in the only shade we could find near the house two young Ravens sat on the roof above our heads. They looked down at us and kept changing position to get a closer look. We greeted them and they continued to stay close. We had a similar experience with one of the young rabbits a few days before. The youngster came directly towards us and sat no more than 3 feet away and gave us a good look. Then it turned its back on us and stayed close by in the manner of one of our cats! Just like Chloe, in fact, who wants to be nearby but not quite in petting range a lot of the time.

Last night before we retired to the barn Paul noticed a small grasshopper had moved into our inside-the-house bedroom. He said that the grasshopper was disappointed that it had not found anything to eat and had no idea of how to find its way back out. He extended his hand to the grasshopper and talked to it. "I'll take you outside if you want." he said.

The grasshopper hesitated. Paul said it was thinking "Oh shit! I have nothing to eat in here and now this big animal wants to eat me! Damn!"

Paul said "No, I don't want to eat you. I want to help you find your way outside. But it's your choice—I'm not going to force you."

The grasshopper walked onto Paul's hand and stayed there until Paul put him down outside the house.

It's fascinating to watch how humans and other species can interact when it becomes obvious that there is no predatory activity involved. It's actually a lot of fun.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Rainbow Hearts



Just for fun or add your own text and make a statement! Rainbow family? Celebrate Diversity! Marriage Equality! Gay Pride. . . celebrate love in full color!

This is one of my personal favorites, probably because it is simple and yet cute and fun. I just put it in our Zazzle shop.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Mavericks

In the last election we heard a bit too much about mavericks—John McCain and Sarah Palin practically made the term their by-word.

Well, now that we're in the state of Arizona it all makes a lot more sense. Is Arizona known as the Maverick state? It might as well be. Everything is called "maverick" here—the local magazine, the local gas station, street signs. We see the word everywhere we go.

Apparently, people in Arizona think they go their own way and that might be true when it comes to doing whatever they please with their huge tracts of land and letting their cows roam on other people's property. There's also a bit of the renegade in the cowboy population.

But, generally speaking, this place is way too conservative to be considered mavericky from my point of view. A real maverick who expresses themselves through their mode of dress or by promoting an alternative point of view is quickly met with a withering stare. That might not be true in a place like Phoenix, Sedona or Flagstaff. It's even expected that a person might be a bit offbeat to live in Holbrook, perhaps, or where we are in the desert. But in the tiny pioneer towns? No, not at all.

I feel like Paul and I are moving in the direction of going elsewhere, have felt that way for a long time. But there isn't any particular place I'm longing for. I feel like I'm "awaiting further instruction." Open to all sorts of possibilities is probably not a bad way to go.

Healing with Reiki

I Heal with Reiki shirt
I Heal with Reiki by paulnsheryl
Many tee designs available at Zazzle

I've been neglecting our Zazzle shop for awhile. PODs don't seem like the best places for our work anymore but damn if we don't continue to sell an occasional item (for way too little of a commission) on the Cafepress shop we're migrating away from. So I've been putting up a few of my favorite and best-selling items on Zazzle. This design is one of them. Great for the Reiki healers in your life. And you can customize it with your own text to advertise your own practice if you want!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Celebrating My Book!


Ok, so yesterday I mentioned in my blog that I finished my book. All business as usual, just doing a blog as an attempt to be conscientious but not really celebrating. Then someone I don't know that well wrote and congratulated me on it and I burst into tears. Why? I didn't stop to congratulate myself. I just went right on to the next hard things I feel like I need to do without stopping.

Writing a book is no big deal—it's a really big deal! How many people say they've accomplished anything like that in their lives? And I don't just have one good book for sale, I have three of them.

Okay, let's give it a good plug. You never know, maybe someone on my Followers list has a literary agent with a great track record in the family who would love to know about this:

I have written what I intend to be a positive and uplifting memoir about the challenges of finding your way when you follow a nontraditional path. It's 93,460 words, with the working title of Paul and Sheryl’s Adventures in the Great Recession Mormon Desert. Written with sensitivity and humor whenever possible, it is also a book about the times we live in—economic challenges, war, stress and strife standing in stark contrast with the joys of nature and the desire to live one’s life with integrity.

The book is about the journey of two metaphysical counselors, healers and artists at the height of the Great Recession of 2008/2009 who leave their ultra-progressive left wing community of Santa Cruz, CA right on the heels of the election of Barack Obama and the passage of Proposition 8 (the ban on gay marriage in California which was heavily backed by the Mormon Church). They inadvertently wind up in the desert outside a Mormon pioneer town in the home state of John McCain. That's a little odd, interesting and sometimes amusing in itself but the story becomes much more than that. It's about spiritual awakening, in the sense of learning more about one's calling, and the importance of reclaiming one’s voice in a world which begs for an end to injustice, polarity and hate.

Yeah, I'm writing in the third person about myself and my partner Paul—I have back cover copy in mind, you know. This book is written by me, with occasional and sometimes quite funny additions by my sweetie, and it is the story of our lives. We are a spiritual counseling and healing team with a bent for creative expression. Both of us have been published authors, avid bloggers and artists. The book is written as a series of “blog posts,” like a journal, with connecting threads in between. What makes it poignant and different from a journal, however, is my attempt to hold up a positive vision for others even while my own world is falling apart. If you follow my blog on a regular basis you know that in my writing I shift from personal narrative to providing philosophically-oriented information and help for others at every turn.

Learning to hold a candle for others when the wind keeps threatening to blow out yours is the job we sometimes take on as spiritual counselors. Many of you through the years have given us wonderful compliments and some have even encouraged us to share our writing in a book. We're following through!

I have a B.A. in Communications from Simmons College and an M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. I have written and published three nonfiction books in the past but this would be my first memoir. Paul has degrees in Religious Studies, Behavioral Science, and Creative Writing. His short stories and articles have been published in several literary magazines and newspapers. I think we have what it takes to see this all the way. Let's hope that the best people to help us get this book out to the public agree.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Odds and Ends


I haven't written for awhile so I thought I'd update people who check in on Paul and me about what we're doing. The biggest news is that I finished my book. It's written by me with pieces by Paul included and he helped considerably with the editing. I wrote three drafts and we finally got it to something we both feel great about. I sent a query off to my first picks for literary agents and will be going down the list. I've never worked with a literary agent before but I'm quite certain that this book is timely enough and is something a pretty wide-ranging audience might be interested in so it's worth a shot. The large publishers won't even accept submissions except through literary agents. The world has changed immensely since the days I worked in publishing.

In other news, my Reiki Bears are doing more traveling than me. I bought a couple of cartons of teddy bears a year and a half ago and immediately regretted it. Too many bears and they didn't sell at all. So I changed my strategy. I lowered the price and then gave them away with a purchase of $50 or more of my Mama Love perfumes. That actually helped but I don't sell much on the internet. Most of my sales are to retail stores and haven't thought to offer the bears there. Lately Paul and I have been sleeping in the barn to beat the heat and have a bit more privacy and I noticed that the barn has mice. My immediate thought was that I hoped the bears I've been storing there wouldn't get ruined. That day in my email I had an inquiry from someone who wanted to know if I would sell the bears at wholesale. I agreed and let her buy the whole lot. I'm out of the Reiki Bear business, at least for now. It was more important to raise some cash.

Oh yeah, the travel part -- I bought the bears from someone in California who bought a close-out from a manufacturer in China. The person buying them from me is located in Tucson, Arizona and plans to sell them to Japan! Pretty weird.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Photographer Paul

Paul and I went on a fun day trip today to an area in the White Mountains called Greer. It's a resort community up at 7000 feet and a really really pretty one. Lots of alpine meadows teeming with wildflowers. About 20 degrees cooler than where we live, too! We enjoyed it quite a bit.

Paul has been helping me edit my book and get it ready to be sent to literary agents. I've written a first and second draft and am well on my way into finishing the final version. I think it's pretty good—let's hope a literary agent and a bunch of publishers think so, too. I'd love to see it go up for bid. Which means some kind of event where more than one publisher wants it. That would mean more publicity and a way better deal. (I've never thought this way before—I've always just thought it would be great "just to be published." I'm older and much wiser when it come to book publishing now.)

Paul is hoping for some kind of way to get his publishing career off the ground as well. We're committed to helping each other right now go all the way. Ain't got nothing left to lose here, no point in being timid now!


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

My Declaration of Interdependence

This month’s email newsletter didn’t get sent on time and I haven’t written here in my blog recently either. That’s not to say that nothing has been written. But all the thoughts of this spiritual counselor and healer have been currently focused on political activism and, because I always try to be positive and uplifting, I was starting to feel like members of our list might not want to hear about it. There’s a mistake made in the New Age community that says “Thou shalt not have a single negative thought!” And, to be honest, living one’s life within a negative mindset isn’t the healthiest way to be.

However, without our “negative” thoughts how would we ever identify the things that need to change. “Ow! That fire is hot! That hurts! I feel really negative right now! I think I better turn this stovetop off before I or somebody else gets hurt again.” That’s very very different than reacting to the same life situation and saying “Ow, ow, ow. Life is so hard, there are hot evil things around every corner. Life is horrible, I’ve been hurt and now I’m going to cower in fear before anything red forever more!” We don’t advocate living like that but we do need our temporary negative reactions to help us chart a course. A more positive one, we hope, and that’s the point.

If we don’t dare to acknowledge what causes us pain we don’t tend to do anything to improve our lives. There are many of us who prefer to self-medicate with drinking or drugs, excessive TV, social distractions or even by attempting to use meditation to release our stress so we can go back to doing the same old thing. That doesn’t tend to work very well. People come to us and say they need help to learn to meditate better. Then we find out that their lives are a mess. They don’t need us to teach them meditation. That can help a person get into a more centered place so better decisions can be made, but meditation alone is not enough.

In the world today we are facing an economic crisis the likes of which hasn’t been seen since the Great Depression. Supposedly, not as great as that—but we are also facing protracted war in the Middle East, global warming, a healthcare crisis that has already reached critical proportions for large segments of our population, and a myriad of other interconnecting problems from food production to housing and everything a typical family needs to survive. These are not single answer problems and they all line up to point to an even greater issue: how have we been making these decisions in the past few decades? Who has been pulling the strings and why have we let them?

Why are alternative healthcare services maligned and subject to misinformation campaigns in the mainstream media? (Just read a typical article about homeopathy if you don’t agree.) Why have herbs that have been used effectively and inexpensively with only rare side effects been removed from the market (ephedra and sassafras, for example) while pharmaceutical related deaths and illness have reached epidemic proportions? Why do some of the most prosperous nations in the Western world provide free healthcare for their citizens while we’re letting insurance companies run the show in our country? Why are we forcing families to go bankrupt when they are refused insurance payments even after having paid into the system for many years if not decades?

I could go on and on: I used to work in eldercare services. Paul and I have been trying to help people in a field the mainstream has been taught to mistrust, fear or even hate. My credit card company just upped my monthly payments by 150% without even stating a reason for the increase. Barack Obama signed legislation that makes bait and switch tactics in regards to interest rates illegal; but my credit card company got around that by more than doubling the minimum payment instead.

Ow!!! This fire is hot!! I’ve been meditating. I’ve been doing energy healing. I’ve been using my own flower essence aromatherapy perfume. And yes, I actually do feel a little more cheerful. But not just because those stress reduction techniques have been working. I’m writing about it. I’ve written a book. (I’ve written two.) And I’m letting people know about it.

Empowering spiritually-inspired action for the highest benefit of all concerned is as spiritual as it gets.

Think about it.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Community for the Common Good

In my email yesterday I received a letter from my good friend Linda who wrote about the immense joy of living and working in community she and her husband Roger share in upstate Vermont. It included two articles by David Goodman, author of Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times. He wrote about the hard-working conglomeration of food co-ops, family farms, and local businesses pooling their resources to transform Linda’s poverty stricken rural town of Hardwick into a thriving food-lover’s “destination.”

One local business, a gourmet restaurant named Claire’s, was actually funded by 100 residents of the community who collectively bought 50 shares of her company at $1000 each. The community owns the restaurant and the restaurant exclusively buys vegetables, artisan cheeses and other farm products from the community it serves. It’s a winning formula. New businesses have moved to the area, at least 100 new jobs have been created, and a local nonprofit, the Center for an Agricultural Economy, was at the start of it.

Helping each other has been a Hardwick tradition and, oddly, it is not unlike how the multinational oil companies and mega-banks do business. The principals take each other out for coffee, lend each other money, swap expertise to help each other’s businesses, and brainstorm as to how to help their increasingly interrelated conglomeration of little businesses further. The significant difference is that their brainchild is about creating a healthy local economy that can’t be easily pillaged and raped by multinationals attempting to use their power and influence to dominate and control the world’s financial markets as a whole. It’s about small town community, sustainability and love.

So far, it’s working! Last spring researchers from MIT and Columbia University visited to learn more about the project. They and other large organizations are studying the feasibility of replicating Hardwick’s efforts in other communities across the globe.