Saturday, July 31, 2010

How Dare You Defend Yourself!

It starts innocently enough. In fact, it starts with compliments: "You're so wonderful! I LOVE the way you're always so nice and welcoming. And smart, too! You're the best friend, counselor, teacher, etc. I've ever had!"

Early in the relationship you hear pointed gossip and sniping about other people but when you say that you're uncomfortable your friend says: "Oh, I'm just being concerned. That's how we figure out how to help people in my family." Loving. Caring. Being concerned. Hmm, that's not how it was done in my family. . . but my family members aren't exactly the best role models. You try to justify what you see in your friend, you try to be loving and look for the best. But you fear that the "helpful" aspect she talked about is never really acted upon directly. . . at least not in a loving way, not that you can see.

Then you hear worse things. "So and so did that, so and so did this. So and so is always doing something 'wrong'." You express concern that your "friend" might be harboring distressed feelings about you but the response starts out the same: "Oh no! You're wonderful! I'd never think such thoughts about someone like you!"

Still, you think to yourself, what is a person like me?  Is there some way I might let my friend down? You brush that thought aside and then you brush it aside again and again. Don't let "your negativity" spoil things. After all this relationship seems to be going alright—why worry about something that appears to be okay?

And then it extends to wide world: "Did you hear what happened on the news today? We have to stop this awful thing! It's awful! It's incest! Rape! Sexist bastards! Rapists! Land rapists! Republican sexist land-rapists! [Assuming the person is a Democrat. . . think of Glen Beck and his cronies if they're not.] The people involved are Nazis. The people involved don't give a damn about anybody. The people involved have to be brought down! They're evil, they're bad. Why isn't anybody DOING anything???!!!"

uhhhh. . . It doesn't feel right and yet. . . how can I say I've never, at least at one time or another, thought the same way?

The individual incidents that start to add up in your mind never seem terribly awful or even intentional taken one at a time. It's hard to point to a single example of destructive conversation (at first) that doesn't make you feel like you're being petty, judgmental or somehow deficient in your loving and compassion about your friend's apparent distress. She came from an abusive family, didn't she? Wasn't she/he abandoned at a young age or virtually abandoned by having lived with an alcoholic or someone who was mentally ill? How could she take responsibility for her own thoughts and actions after a childhood like that? She has a disability! A disability to think positively about anything. . . except about you, of course.

But bit by bit you start to distrust anything your friend says. She was SO nice yesterday but somehow the conversation turned to an acquaintance of hers who is "irresponsible" or "lacking in generosity" and the story told is something she might be able to say about you. "Oh no, you're never that way! And besides, you have a lot going on in your life. If you ever do anything like that it's only because you're going through a rough time."

But the next time you get into conversation it's more of the same.

Then come the underhanded snipes in your direction for supposed infractions the two of you never have discussed. Expectations that haven't been filled that were never agreed upon or even spoken of. If you try to talk about it directly, a phony exaggerated sweetness comes into your friend's tone of voice. "Oh no! I'm not upset about anything!" If you persist the response becomes even more adamant: "I know better than that. You mustn't think that way about me. I didn't mean anything by it. A slip of the tongue, I never think like that about you." And on and on. But there's no mistaking the hard set to the jaw, the narrowed eyes and distant feeling of angry superiority coming from your friend's direction.

But it goes away. A few days or weeks later everything is going along swimmingly again. It's comfortable enough, you stop thinking about it.

Until the day you walk into the room and overhear your friend on the telephone telling horrible lies or twisted half-truths about you to whoever she was talking to. Worse, it was about something she had insisted for months wasn't something she was unhappy about at all! In fact, she had told you to stop trying to do anything about it. She was happy with how things were.

That's one example. A worse one, by far, is the person who might be given the label of having borderline personality disorder. That person puts you on a pedestal only to knock you off later for some misunderstanding but it doesn't stop there. If the pattern repeats of you needing to say "no" or to call them on their behavior often enough, they decide that you are the evil Nazi, the rapist, the next person that needs to be "brought down". The tone of sweetness is replaced with angry vindictiveness. Suddenly you're faced with a person with a vendetta. If you're unfortunate enough to look like a person with some authority—a therapist, a social worker, someone who "should have known better"—well, suffice it to say I worked at a social service agency where a patient with this disorder attacked. If she hadn't left a deranged 20 minute message on our answering machine that showed the lack of clarity behind her thinking we would have wound up using enormous amounts of time and resources attempting to defend against the lawsuits she was threatening in a court of law.

Back to the title of the blog: how dare you defend yourself?!! You see, the incident that sets this behavior off is when your ability to be nice and welcoming is superceded by the need to set limits, to say "I don't like this behavior anymore", to say "no", or even end the relationship by choosing to shut the door. It might even be a casual conversation—a thread on Facebook, for example— where you express the opinion that saying no to this type of personality might be a good approach for someone else. "How could you say that?" the borderline (or somewhat borderline) person will say and suddenly the perceived trust in the relationship is tipped on the floor.

The incident at the social service agency I worked at has haunted me ever since because of my own family history and, more frightening, because I didn't have the experience at that point to see it coming. The borderline person is attracted to people who try to be helpful—the "good" people, the ones who would never hurt them or let them down, the ones who were trained at birth to be so responsive, the ones who adopted highly functional, super-responsible, take-care-of-others patterns to survive. And to tell you the truth, they tend to pick therapists and well-meaning teachers specifically because of this. There's a strong element of perfectionism and codependency that comes from having lived in fear of the consequences of making mistakes. The healers among us are especially prone.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Re-release of Changing the World One Relationship at a Time

I'm finally getting around to re-releasing my second book Changing the World One Relationship at a Time: Transformational Listening for Mutual Support & Empowerment which came out in 1998 through Crossing Press. The book went out of print years ago but copies were still available through Recently, though, I've heard that those copies have become hard to come by, people still ask about the book from time to time, and the rights have reverted back to me. So today I'm announcing that it is in print again both as a print-on-demand book for $16.49 or as an e-book download for $8.59 through Healing Communication Press. Read on to find out more:

Want to change your life? Get together with a trusted friend and spend an allotted amount of time each week focusing on truly listening to one another. “Changing the World” teaches readers the needed skills for connecting with others, starting on a personal level and advancing to the community and the world beyond. —Sandra I. Smith, Midwest Book Review

I highly recommend this book. Karas provides tools we need to improve the quality of our lives. Her examples, exercises, and meditations teach us how to listen constructively which leads to improved health, happiness, and a sense of well being. —Barbara Hoberman Levine, author of Your Body Believes Every Word You Say

When the cost of counseling is higher than ever and insurance is less likely to cover it, when people are searching for community and healthy practices to sustain it, the need for simple easy-to-do peer counseling and relationship skills are more important than ever. The re-release of Changing the World One Relationship at a Time: Transformational Listening for Mutual Support & Empowerment could not have come at a better time. Spiritual counselor Sheryl Karas M.A. has written a clear concise and highly readable book to help couples, families, friends and communities help each other through troubled times.

  • Basic attentive listening skills
  • Approaches for effectively working with emotional issues
  • How to stay centered around other people’s emotions 
  • How to work with personal and societal projections 
  • Techniques for working with racism, sexism and other societal oppressions 
  • How to create your own support groups 
  • Exercises, guided meditations and more

Author Bio: Sheryl Karas M.A. has a Masters degree in Transpersonal Psychology and 30 years of experience providing informal counseling in a variety of settings. From 1984-1998 Sheryl was a practitioner of Re-evaluation Counseling, a form of peer counseling (co-counseling) where participants learn to exchange mutual support. She taught co-counseling classes and later went on to teach the teachers and certify new ones. When Sheryl developed a more spiritual perspective some of the practices of Re-evaluation Counseling no longer seemed to fit. Changing the World combines some of the most accessible techniques from Transpersonal Psychology with the peer counseling instruction she taught before.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Foggy Santa Cruz Wharf

Here in the very hot and sunny Arizona desert, I've developed a GREAT appreciation for rain. The temperature drops 20 degrees. In Santa Cruz, CA I developed an appreciation for fog.

This photo is a departure for me. I normally prefer very bright colorful art. But I've always wanted to do something with this one. Fog has a subtle appeal. It's like stepping into a dream world, very quiet and serene.

Floral Acupuncture

I remembered yet another book on my Flower Essence bookshelf to recommend. Floral Acupuncture: Applying the Flower Essences of Dr. Bach to Acupuncture Sites by Deborah Craydon & Warren Bellows. This is really of specialized interest to acupuncturists and flower essence practitioners who have a good understanding of the acupuncture meridians and the mind/body/spirit connections associated with each one. But what's interesting about it is that it uses flower essences to stimulate the acupuncture points instead of needles. This could be invaluable for practitioners interested in offering needle-less acupuncture or who want to extend their complimentary healing practice further.

I have worked with the acupuncture meridians extensively using energy healing and intention alone with great results. But I frequently want to use a modality that will support a person's growth over time through daily practice. That's why I created my own flower essence aromatherapy products at all! So when I first saw this book a lightbulb went off. Could I use one of my flower essence aromatherapy formulas with the acupuncture meridians and what would be the results?

Amazing success, that's what!

I started doing this with a custom formula I created to deal with breast pain and tenderness I used to experience before my period every month since I was 11 years old. In recent years -- perimenopause -- this pain had gotten intense, couldn't sleep on my stomach or side, and it developed into a chronic thing that lasted in some form all month long. I was fairly miserable so I finally decided to address it.

Using medical intuition I identified that the main problem had to do with early childhood bonding problems and fear and grief associated with my mom in the womb. I could say a lot more but the most important thing to know is that the body produces a cascade of neurochemicals as a result of emotionally laden thought. My mom actually participated in a medical research study with the famous reproductive endocrinologist Luigi Mastroianni while she was pregnant with me that showed quite conclusively that babies in the womb respond to their mother's emotions. Suffice it to say, if a pregnant mom has sufficient reason to be concerned about bringing a child into the world or whether that child is actually okay her child will sense it.

I used my spiritual guidance to help pick flower essences for my situation and then felt inspired to use it every day in a skin cream I like to use after my shower. I was drawn to use it on the Kidney meridian as well as on my breasts and over my liver area. There are multiple reasons for that -- you'd have to know more about acupuncture than I want to get into here -- but the upshot was this:

After one month of doing this every day the breast pain I had experienced my whole adult life was gone -- not improved -- GONE. I continued using the formula for a couple more weeks, then "forgot" to use it anymore. The breast pain has not returned. It's now several years later.

I honestly can't recommend Floral Acupuncture for beginners in Flower Essence work. And I certainly can't say that flower essences and acupuncture alone will be sufficient for healing a physical or emotional disorder in every case. But it's a powerful combination and for those ready to deepen their holistic healing practice further or add Flower Essences to their acupuncture or acupressure work, I highly recommend it!

Monday, July 26, 2010

More Flower Essence Resource Books

After I finished my last blog post about Flower Essence books I realized I had several more that I depend on from time to time. I also have several that were extremely instrumental in being a useful introduction to Flower Essences for me that I don't need anymore. But that doesn't mean they wouldn't be truly valuable to someone else, especially if they were just starting out.

The first books that stand out are those written by the inventor of this kind of healing work, Dr. Edward Bach. Dr. Bach was an immunologist and homeopathic physician who devoted a good part of his life to researching and developing the Bach Flower Remedies. His works "Heal Thyself" and "The Twelve Healers" are great introductions. I also found them invaluable in understanding the mindset and beliefs that fueled his work. Both of his relatively short books plus one by F.J. Wheeler, M.D. called "The Bach Remedies Repertory" are included in The Bach Flower Remedies, shown at the left.

On the other hand, I received my initial introduction on how to use flower essences from Patricia Kaminski and Richard Katz of the Flower Essence Society. Patricia's book, Flowers That Heal, takes the work of Dr. Bach and brings it into the realm of psychotherapy and spiritual growth. It also includes the pioneering work she and her husband have done in expanding the original Bach repertory to include North American flowers and includes very clear precise step by step instruction in how to choose flower essences and use them in a variety of situations. There are lots of photographs and case examples.

 Another introductory text on my shelf is The Encyclopedia of Bach Flower Therapy by Mechthild Scheffer. Scheffer's book has beautiful full color photographs of every flower in the Bach Repertory but not the North American, Australian, or any other ones. However, it does have some extraordinary-looking illustrations (aura photos?) that indicate energy patterns of the flowers themselves and very helpful descriptions of when to use specific Bach remedies. I recommend it to anyone wanting to work within the realm of the original Bach remedies alone.

My favorite book for people who want to dive deep into the psychological significance of the archetypal patterns Bach was addressing in his original remedies is Advanced Bach Flower Therapy: A Scientific Approach to Diagnosis and Treatment by Gotz Blome, M.D. As a person with a degree in Transpersonal Psychology this book truly hit the mark for me. It helped me see more clearly the underlying life history and resulting patterns that would lead to certain dysfunctions. For anyone who wants to be a professional in the world of Flower Essence Therapy I would consider this to be a required text!

Holbrook Dinosaurs - Route 66

Holbrook Dinosaurs-Rte 66 print
Holbrook Dinosaurs-Rte 66 by paulnsheryl

Holbrook, AZ and Route 66 are about an hour from our house. We rarely go but think it's a lot of kooky fun when we do. Near one of the major intersections in town stands this collection of larger than life dinosaurs. That's because there's a famous national park nearby called The Petrified Forest where you can see prehistoric logs of old trees that have turned to stone. I believe dinosaur bones were found there as well so now dinosaur kitch is all the rage in that part of Arizona.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Centaury Flower Essence for the Caretaker Blues

Illustration © Copyright 2010 by Sheryl Karas
Codependent caregiving has been a theme in many of our spiritual counseling and healing sessions. Paul and I work with a lot of spiritually-aware people in our work but there's a sticking point that seems to be prevalent in our society: How to be loving, kind and compassionate without throwing yourself away? Learning about Centaury Flower Essence can give us part of the answer.

The plant Centaury (Centaurium erythraea or Centaurium umbellatum) is a native of Europe and North Africa and can be found in dry pastures and on chalky cliffs. Its form varies considerably depending on its circumstances but it tends to stand erect, about 3-12 inches in height. The leaves are pale green, smooth and shiny and the stems branch at the top into many sprigs with deep pink five-petaled star-like flowers.

Medicinally, this plant is famous as an aromatic bitter, being used in vermouth and other bitter apertifs and liqueurs. Internally it is used as digestive tonic, as a liver remedy and blood purifier. Externally, it is used to clean wounds and cool rashes. It is also used as an antidote to snakebite.

The greatest clue as to the use of this flower for emotional purposes, however, comes from the name itself. Centaury comes from the word centaur, a mythological half-man half-horse, and it is specifically associated with the most famous and powerful centaur of them all— Chiron the Wounded Healer. The Erythraea  genus was originally called Chironia. Chiron was famous for his skill with medicinal herbs and is said to have healed himself from a poisonous wound using the herb Centaury. Chiron was also known for his exceptional kindness and wisdom. Unfortunately, he was accidently injured by one of Hercules' poison arrows and lived in great agony until he volunteered to save Prometheus by taking on the punishment he was enduring. Prometheus was the hero who stole fire to help mankind. For that transgression he had been chained to a rock and was being horribly tortured by having his liver pecked out by an eagle every day. It would heal at night just in time for the bird to eat it again the next day. By volunteering to save Prometheus in this way Chiron was giving up his immortality, thus releasing himself eventually through death from the unending pain of living with the poison from Hercules' arrow. But imagine the cost! That's why Chiron is such an intense archetype.

Those who need Centaury allow themselves to be abused in their efforts to help others. They try too hard to please other people, neglect their own needs, and can't say "no" even if they wind up sacrificing themselves. People with this pattern are often unconsciously seeking validation outside themselves. Centaury helps them develop a deep sense of self-respect and inner strength so their desire to help others is tempered by the ability to say "no" when appropriate. Centaury flower essence helps people balance their love for others with love for themselves so their healing comes from a more grounded stable center of well-being.

All Moms are Queens

Mommy Rhapsody
by Church on the Move

Mommy Rhapsody from Church on the Move on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Flower Essence Books I Use the Most

Keep in mind, of course, that I'm writing a book and spend lots of time researching every flower I'm attracted to so I have lots of great reasons to be referring to these books all the time. But if you're as interested in the intersection of spiritual and physical reality as it is expressed in the natural world as I am you'll find these books an interesting read.

 Flower Readings: Discover Your True Self Through the Ancient Art of Flower Psychometry
by Suzy Chiazzari

I’m not sure why she calls it flower “psychometry” but this book is an unusual and interesting exploration of flower archetypes as they correlate metaphysically with archetypes found in human nature. Chiazzari talks about how to use attractions to specific flowers as an indication of archetypal patterns operating in one’s own life.  I came upon the importance of attraction as an indicator of what flowers might be helpful to me naturally and quite by accident. (See this earlier blog post about my encounter with Scotch Broom.) I've been fascinated (and amazed) by the topic ever since.

Bach Flower Remedies: Form & Function
by Julian Barnard

If the description of Suzy Chiazzari’s book aroused any curiosity, dive into the world of flower essences. Julian Barnard has devoted his life to studying the Bach Flower Remedies. In this book Barnard explores how  Bach may have made his discoveries and helps the reader understand the archetypal qualities expressed by each plant as it grows in its natural environment. Very in-depth, not as woo-woo as Chiazzari’s explanation, and I haven't come across a book that explains it better. Highly recommended and a truly fascinating read!

Flower Essence Repertory
by Patricia Kaminski, Richard Katz

This is one of most well-used books on my shelf. The cover has fallen off, the pages are dog-eared —I need another copy myself! A great reference book. In addition to providing a complete overview of flower essence theory and practice and a comprehensive listing of the most commonly available North American and Bach flower essences, this book provides a way for choosing essences using a wide assortment of treatment categories. Highly recommended!
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

This and That

A few more personal updates:

• Some things can't be talked about in public. Lots of emotional upheaval and then settling back down. Upshot: It's better to be kind when someone does something stupid and harmful but without malicious intent than to harbor a grudge. It took a bit to get there though. Glad we did.

• We've been exploring what we can do from here in Arizona instead of obsessively focusing on how to move away. We met a couple who has a yoga studio an hour and a half away in the White Mountains. We're not sure we'll want to work with them or not but it was interesting to know that one of them introduced an esoteric Tibetan sound healing practice to this very conservative Christian area and managed to get 17 people to sign up! That opened up our perspectives a bit and got us feeling like it might be possible to start a group or do talks or classes of our own.

Lots of computer laptop woes that seem to be improving. Got a new battery. That solved some things right there! Also, I kept losing my internet connection and was frequently finding it impossible to get back on. This started when the weather got hot -- Macs aren't supposed to like temperatures over 95 degrees. And, unfortunately, to make matters worse the fan on my laptop hasn't been working when it gets hot for some time -- only when using Photoshop or heavy duty programs. It seems like the heat sensor or something else (software?) hasn't been working in regards to temperature. I've tried LOTS of things and then gave up. Took to setting my laptop on top of ice packs to cool it down. Today the fan started working again. By itself. Like nothing was ever wrong. And that means my internet connection connection is working fine again, too.

More good news. Our Recession Special for our spiritual counseling services has worked for getting new people to try us out and at least one old client, too. More than one has had more than one session! It's helped our state of mind quite a bit.

Yellow Flower - Marigold

Paul is experimenting with cutting out his images and printing them on a clear background. Makes some cute products.

Monday, July 19, 2010

I'm the Laptop Around Here!

Chloe Licks card

A few weeks after Pipa died Chloe decided that she was the lap kitty now. Peeps was such an affectionate cat that she was always in our laps soaking up attention and Chloe rarely showed interest. But now that she is the "only" kitty (the only people-socialized one) Chlo-Chlo has really come into her fullness.

Paul will have his legs stretched out on the coffeetable with his laptop on his lap and Chloe will come over and start nudging the computer aside. If nothing happens she stretches out a paw and threatens to walk on the keyboard. She WILL walk on the keyboard if nothing happens after that but Paul's a softie and usually gives in. He'll move the computer to one side and Chloe hops on, circles several times in different directions before settling down, and then purrs with a happy self-satisfied look on her face: "I'm the laptop now!"

But lately it's been unbearably hot -- 100 degrees on a regular basis. That's "cool" for Arizona. The "valley" (Phoenix, etc.) is 10-15 degrees hotter than that! It's really not laptop weather so Chloe has taken over the coffeetable right where Paul used to put his feet. He gave in again. Chloe looked quite hurt and upset until he did. (He's so "pussy-whipped".) Now the coffeetable (the closest place to Paul's lap that is not too hot) is her domain. But the evil competition -- our laptops -- are NOT allowed. If one of us so much as attempts to put one of our laptops on the coffeetable Chloe is there. She sometimes comes from clear across the room and stands over the computer looking straight at us with a look that says "How could you?!!"

Chloe will not be deterred from her task of making us remove the evil machine until it happens. Then she immediately takes over the spot where it was even if she had shown no interest in the coffeetable before. That is HER domain now and she is guarding it fiercely and shows no sign of backing down.

Worse, she assumes that anything we put in that place is a gift. "Thank you, Mama! That was a delicious egg. And the coffee-flavored milk? Yum!" Water glasses have to be defended religiously but she doesn't mean to be a bad kitty. It's a matter of boundary-setting -- we have to be consistent about setting them -- and kitty logic. "We're family! All drinking from the same source is what littermates do, right?"

We're all working it out. The great news is that Chloe actually communicates, seems to understand what we're trying to say part of the time (that didn't happen before), and wants to be close. And that happens to be very nice.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Owls! Yay!

Paul posted my absolute favorites of his bird photos on Zazzle yesterday -- his Barn Owl and Juvenile Snowy Owl. I was there when he took these shots and got to see the birds close up. The Snowy Owl was especially a trip. It was young, which is why it isn't snowy white yet, and had the aura of an excited young puppy. I have a Snowy Owl mug myself and it always makes me smile when I see it.

Here's the Barn Owl on a Baby Doll t-shirt but there are lots of other t-shirt styles to choose from. I think he looks soulful.

Here he is again on a mousepad. Owls eat mice. That's, for sure, why you need one of these!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunflower Flower Essence

Sunflower flower essence is used to help a person come out and be their biggest true self without inflation or self-aggrandizement. It brings a quality of warmth and compassion to those who are too pompous and "full of themselves" while allowing those with low self-esteem to come forward and shine. I use Sunflower flower essence in my "Manifesting Life Purpose" formula . Learn more about flower essences at

You can also find this image on mugs, mousepads, aprons, greeting cards, magnets and a bunch of other stuff at our shop at

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Marketing the Spiritual

It's all about Fred! (we'll say more in a minute, see below)

Paul and I are currently shopping around a book we've written with the working title of Waking Up in the Great Recession Mormon Desert. It's been endorsed by some great people already — David Spangler (one of the past directors at Findhorn and founders of what is now called the "New Age" movement), Larry Dossey M.D. (author of many great books exploring the interface between science, medicine and spirituality), Dr. Frederick Luskin (director of the Forgiveness Project at Stanford University and author of Forgive for Good), Anne Ellinger (President of Bolder Giving in Extraordinary Times and co-founder of More Than Money), popular Mormon author Carol Lynn Pearson, Patricia Kaminski (Executive Director of the Flower Essence Society) and Donna Cunningham (Editor for Vibration Magazine). It's getting to be a great list and, after taking time away to rewrite and gather support, we're ready to try bringing it to publication once again.

Here's an excerpt from "Chapter 3, Marketing the Spiritual: It's All About Fred". It's a TRUE STORY -- we really did post the following as a series of ads on Craigslist. Before we realized that that venue wasn't particularly appropriate for us we tried all kinds of ads there to let people know about our practice. Finally Paul said "It doesn't matter what we say! We might as well post something like this!" Then he did and Fred was born:

Marketing the Spiritual: It's All About Fred

Oh goody, Sheryl is designing a new flyer. She’s good at it, used to work full time as a graphic designer. She’s taken marketing classes; therefore, our flyers have a proper eye catching headline, a photo, testimonials, bullet points and a sidebar. Our business name and contact info is all where it should be (yawn) and it properly poses a question and then answers it.

Those ads don’t always seem to work for us. People have seen that kind of thing a jillion times. What does work is Sheryl telling a true story in her true voice. We don’t brag well. Actually, I brag better than Sheryl, sometimes. Ads, I guess, are supposed to convince people that they need you, or at least want you to do something for them. You have to communicate that “thing,” either a service or a product, but the marketing experts want it punched up. You can’t just say:

“Tea Kettles Fixed Here”

No, you should say instead:

“Tea Kettle Remanufacturing. Return your tea kettle to manufacturer’s specifications.”

But first you have to do this:

“How long has it been since your tea kettle performed the way it should? Remember the good old days when your tea was state of the art? Now you can regain your optimum teaness at “Fred’s Tea Kettle Heaven.”

Near the phone number it’s OK to say “tea kettles fixed here.” Because then it’s like a joke, an understatement, you will have already established that Fred is in fact Grand Master of the tea kettle. Fred trained under the great-great grandson of the inventor of the tea kettle, in China. Fred has over 30 years experience. Fred is award winning, he’s “internationally known,” “world renowned” or otherwise globally connected. Fred is wanted in six states. Fred has consulted with the federal government on tea kettle design. Fred, is working on a new technique for tea making without a kettle under contract to the British secret service. Sadly, Fred can no longer drink tea, due to an unfortunate accident with oolong. And yet his legacy lives on. Fred has sired many offspring composed entirely of tea. Fred is invisible to the naked eye.

Like Fred, we need to market ourselves. People need to know that we exist, what we do, that we do it well and that it’s worth the money we charge. Seems like most people like it when we tell our true stories, so we may stick a little closer to that. We have a couple of blogs and some videos on the “resources” page of our website.

Fred does tea-kettles. We do spiritual counseling and healing.

Hits to our website doubled overnight! What???? Really? Paul posted the following ad a few weeks later:

Fred Has Ascended

Sheryl is obsessed designing new products for our store. She’s good at it; used to work full time as a graphic designer and she's always been an artist. I was uploading photos until 3 am. But we have lost track of Fred.

There have been rumors, of course. Fred, or someone who looks like Fred has been seen in Israel, Vienna, Dallas and Fairbanks. We don't know what to believe.

The last thing we heard was that Fred had wandered away from his morning ritual, leaving the disciples bewildered. Lychee sat all day in a lotus posture, believing it to be a test. Rooibos was beside himself. Osthmos was calm at first, but he steeped in his own juice for hours and became bitter.

Fred is unavailable. We're still here.

Hits to our website tripled and suddenly Fred took on a life of his own. The following ad went up a few weeks later:

Fred Found

The disappearance of Fred has been a trying time for us all. Those of us closest to him have been especially affected. With very mixed feelings, we report on a confirmed encounter with Fred. Rest assured, this comes from a reliable source.

Our dear friend, Dr. Lipton, came upon Fred in an espresso house in Seattle. He was behind the counter.

 “At first I didn’t recognize him,” the doctor told us, “He has a pierced nose now, and he was wearing a black belly shirt, which is a little odd for a man in his forties. He seemed elated, almost glowing.”

Dr. Lipton, of course, struck up a conversation, explaining about the uproar that Fred’s disappearance has caused.

 “Yeah, uh-huh.” answered Fred, “I’m sure it ruffled a few tea leaves.”

 “Did you ascend?” asked Doctor Lipton, “Because that was the rumor.”

 “I’m in Seattle aren’t I? That’s pretty far north. . . ”

And we’re told that Fred laughed then. A nervous giggle at first, but it went on while he was steaming milk, glancing around the room at customers. He seemed distracted.

 “No, really Fred, did you. . . ”

 “Hey listen, I just woke up, Ok? That’s all it is. That’s all there is to say.”

 “You woke up?”

 “Yes. And there’s nothing like a double cappuccino prepared fresh by a skilled barista to wake you up and get you going for the day! I bought into a franchise, isn’t it great? Look at all this polished copper, beautiful.”

There is more, but we can’t bear to report it. Fred has gone to the dark side. Or at least French roast, if not Vienna.

We're praying for him.

Suddenly Fred didn’t feel so fictional anymore. We can’t let Fred go to the dark side! We’re not about letting people give up on what matters most to their hearts! At least that’s how l felt about it at first. Paul wasn’t happy about it but I couldn’t contain myself. I decided to post my own ad:

Save Fred!!!

The news that Fred, the Grand Master of the tea kettle, had bought into an espresso franchise in Seattle was just too much for Sheryl to handle:

“Fred can't have gone to the dark side! That's horrible!” she cried. “We can't let it happen. We have to save Fred!”

She wanted to start a campaign to bring Fred back. “Maybe if we all shouted 'I believe in Fred! I really do!' and clapped our hands really loud. . . ”

No, wait, that's what you do for fairies. Besides, that's an old-fashioned way of handling things. What do we do in the 21st century?

Buy T-shirts! Maybe if we all wore a T-shirt that said “Save Fred!!!!” and Fred saw them he'd know how much we care about him and. . .

Sheryl has been so distraught since Fred's disappearance you'll have to forgive her. But she's got a point.

Fred is the Grand Master of the tea kettle. Fred trained under the great-great grandson of the inventor of the tea kettle, in China. Fred has over 30 years experience. Fred is award winning, he’s “internationally known,” “world renowned” or otherwise globally connected.  Fred deserves a following.

Save Fred by clicking here.

And if you need help with your own spiritual transformation . . .
Hits on the website remained high for awhile but then leveled off again. We needed to have at least one more installation of the Fred saga. Unfortunately, interrupting Paul’s creative process threw him off his stride; but finally the muse came back for one last Craigslist ad:

A Letter from Fred:

Dear People,

First of all, I’m sorry that I have not written sooner. While I’m at it, I think I should apologize also for my sudden disappearance. These are the consequences of living one’s life as a fictional character. I’ve always found it to be a frustrating part of my existence that I’m never truly in control of my actions nor the outcomes leading from same. However, I didn’t get to be Grand Master of the teakettle by being unfocused or irresponsible, so this kind of thing really grates on me.

Sheryl, dear, you really need to calm down. The “Save Fred” campaign was somewhat of an embarrassment to me as I did not need saving and I still don’t. The T-shirts were cute though. I hope you enjoyed making them and I’m sorry that nobody bought any. And yet people are buying the “Energy Healers Do It With Love” design. Life is strange.

To my disciples and my children, I’m sure you never lost faith in me. You would understand my sudden departure best as you are all fictional characters, too. We share a deep kinship that is hard to explain to the non-fictionals amongst us.

So, where did I go? Am I really in Seattle running an espresso franchise? Did I really get pierced and take to wearing a black belly shirt? When I said “I just woke up” was I quoting the Buddha after his enlightenment, or was I making a cynical statement about capitalism in the midst of the enlightened era we live in? Did Doctor Lipton just make the whole thing up for his own purposes? I like to think that whatever Doctor Lipton reported on, he had the best of intentions. Our association goes way back. I think it’s best to leave it at that.

There was some speculation that I had ascended. That actually happened three and a half years ago. Nobody noticed at the time. Ascension is kind of like going to Fresno on a business trip and coming across a really fantastic Thai restaurant when you’re just out wandering. You leave happy, full and satisfied, but you’re still in Fresno.

If any of you are still worried about me, or feeling lost or even a little betrayed: just think of me whenever you have a hot beverage, and I will do my best to appear. I’m so sorry I went away. Sometimes I think you’re more real to me than I am to you. Enjoy your free will, you won’t miss it until it’s gone, believe me.

Be still and know that I am Fred.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cathedral Rock Vortex at Sedona

Taken near the presumed location of one of Sedona's famous vortexes at Cathedral Rock. Like those "spirit orbs" we were able to capture? Isn't it amazing how they look exactly like lens flare? That's because it is.

Available as a poster or framed print on Zazzle now (click link above). Available on mugs, greeting cards, t-shirts, etc. later, probably by tomorrow morning.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

July Special on Spiritual Counseling Services

For the month of July only, Paul and I are offering everybody sessions at the bottom of our sliding scale, regardless of your income. That's $30 for a 1/2 hour, $50 for an hour, and $75 for an hour and a half. Our normal sliding scale is $50 - 250 for an hour. Our regular flat fee is $150 so if you've never had a session with us before or haven't had a session in a while this is the time! And have no fear if you don't live near Snowflake, AZ -- we do sessions via telephone with people from around the world.

After July we're making our income-sensitive sliding scale a need-sensitive one. We realize that even people who appear to make a decent living on paper frequently have extenuating circumstances, unusual expenses and -- these days -- serious concerns about their financial well-being. So we're going back to our roots: choose whatever you can afford, no questions asked. If you want to pay more later you can. If you can't, you don't have to!

Find out more about us at

Click here to make an appointment with us now!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Shasta Daisy Flower Essence for Recognizing How Things Relate

Holistic consciousness recognizes that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. By focusing too much on the details of life—the individual petals—we miss the big picture. Shasta Daisy flower essence is used to help a person overly focused on the details of life widen their world view so they can see the overall patterns of the situations they find themselves in. It is especially recommended for writers, teachers, researchers or for anyone engaged in intellectual pursuits because it helps a person synthesize various ideas into an understandable whole.

Happy Interdependence Day!

This image is from the flower essence tarot deck I've been designing. You can buy it as a framed or unframed print, greeting card, mug or on a t-shirt, totebag or other products through our Zazzle shop.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Borage is for Courage

The name Borage comes from the Latin name Borago, a corruption of corago which means "I bring heart" or "courage." The flower essence is used to increase courage and optimism and to counteract discouragement, heavy-heartedness, and lack of confidence.

I used to use it in my "Renewed Faith and Optimism" formula. For some reason, that one never took off... Paul thought that was funny: "Renewed Faith and Optimism is being discontinued for lack of faith! People who really need it are so discouraged they think 'it wouldn't work anyway.' People who aren't discouraged don't need it. And you're giving up on it even though it works really well!"

Well, it DOES work really well but for now I'm going to offer it only on demand. And as a jumping off place for custom blends. There are so many reasons why people get discouraged -- it's probably best to design formulas for specific situations.

The image accompanying this blog is from the flower essence tarot deck I've been designing. You can buy it on a card for someone who needs some cheering up, as a framed or unframed print, or on a variety of products through our shop on

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Angel's Trumpet Flower Essence for Spiritual Surrender

Sometimes in times of great crisis it helps to remember to surrender -- let go, let God. Let go of your old life, old patterns of being, so you can rise up and be born anew. Angels Trumpet is the flower of spiritual surrender. Flower Essence Services in Nevada City, CA makes a wonderful flower essence aromatherapy oil with Angel's Trumpet in it. It's called Benediction Oil, Seasons of the Soul Herbal Flower Oil and it smells really wonderful-- heavy on the Rose Otto and Jasmine-- and works very well. It's the only flower essence aromatherapy product I use that I don't make myself!

I did, however, draw the image accompanying this blog today. It's from the flower essence tarot deck I've slowly been working on over the last few years. I posted it on Zazzle today where you can buy it as framed or unframed print, a greeting card or on a number of other items.