Thursday, March 25, 2010

Monday, March 22, 2010

Astrology and Flower Essences

My friend Donna Cunningham told me about a great astrology blogathon that I was too sick to remember to tell you about. I took a look at just the very first of all the articles included and know without a doubt that I need to read all of them! That first was just too appropriate for Paul and me. Here's a list of offerings from this event: . Check it out!

Celebrating Healthcare Reform

Paul and I have been sick lately-- I've completely lost my voice and can't speak above a weak whisper while Paul has been suffering with pneumonia -- and we so wish there was a good solid public option in this plan. But there are 10 reasons to celebrate the passage of this important bill anyway:

 10 Things Every American Should Know About Health Care Reform

1. Once reform is fully implemented, over 95% of Americans will have health insurance coverage, including 32 million who are currently uninsured.
2. Health insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny people coverage because of preexisting conditions—or to drop coverage when people become sick.
3. Just like members of Congress, individuals and small businesses who can't afford to purchase insurance on their own will be able to pool together and choose from a variety of competing plans with lower premiums.
4. Reform will cut the federal budget deficit by $138 billion over the next ten years, and a whopping $1.2 trillion in the following ten years.
5. Health care will be more affordable for families and small businesses thanks to new tax credits, subsidies, and other assistance—paid for largely by taxing insurance companies, drug companies, and the very wealthiest Americans.
6. Seniors on Medicare will pay less for their prescription drugs because the legislation closes the "donut hole" gap in existing coverage.
7. By reducing health care costs for employers, reform will create or save more than 2.5 million jobs over the next decade.
8. Medicaid will be expanded to offer health insurance coverage to an additional 16 million low-income people.
9. Instead of losing coverage after they leave home or graduate from college, young adults will be able to remain on their families' insurance plans until age 26.
10. Community health centers would receive an additional $11 billion, doubling the number of patients who can be treated regardless of their insurance or ability to pay. 
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10. "Affordable Health Care for America: Summary," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
3. "Insurance Companies Prosper, Families Suffer: Our Broken Health Insurance System," U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Accessed March 22, 2010
4. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Revenue Provisions," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 18, 2010
5. "New Jobs Through Better Health Care," Center for American Progress, January 8, 2010
8, 9. "Proposed Changes in the Final Health Care Bill," The New York Times, March 22, 2010
10. "Affordable Health Care for America: Health Insurance Reform at a Glance: Addressing Health and Health Care Disparities," House Energy and Commerce Committee, March 20, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Autism and Aspberger's Syndrome and How to Nurture Difference

There's a spiritual counseling session Paul and I did awhile ago that has always stayed with me because what we heard shocked me. (Some aspects of this account have been changed to protect confidentiality.) This was a free initial consultation that turned into a full hour session but the person involved didn't like what he heard. You see, his child had a form of autism called Aspberger's Syndrome in which some very specific brain functions may be extremely heightened but there is a distinct lack of development in many other areas. In particular this parent was upset because his child could not function in a social group. He and his wife were embarrassed by him and, because his wife was desperately searching for a "healer" who could take the condition away, he decided to play watchdog by meeting with us before a paid session would happen to test our services out.

At one point in the session he described how brilliant his child was. He taught himself to read by the age of 3 and spent hours at a time deeply focused on things adults do in the field of engineering. But on the playground he was lost. He would stand by the side and not know how to join in, he said completely inappropriate things, made strange body movements in an obsessive manner, and was very uncoordinated on the playing field. We made the "mistake" of expressing our belief that what his child was capable of doing was amazing and the father disagreed: "What good is knowing how to read at the age of three if you can't function socially?!!!"

I taught myself to read at the age of three. I spent hours each day doing my own thing with incredible focus and devotion that is rare for a child to display. I did not speak very much at home and almost never at school unless called on. When I did speak I pronounced things in a such an unusual way I was put for a short while in the "special class" for speech therapy. I spent my early childhood at the edge of the playground not knowing how to join in.

Now on the spectrum of Aspberger's Syndrome I wouldn't rate. I learned to speak, I learned how to relate to lots of different people. I wasn't narrowly focused in my interest. My curiosity actually covers a fairly wide range and my brain is capable of multiple types of thinking. I once had a photographic memory -- that's visual thinking. But I also could play music and compose songs and was also extremely "verbal" in the sense of reading and writing skills. This is not a true Aspberger's picture by any stretch of the imagination. More like shyness, in my case, and a lack of understanding about why I would care about some of the social games I saw people play instead of the immensely fascinating things I could be doing instead (the Aspberger's tendency with which I do tend to relate).

Luckily for me and my current profession, what makes people tick and how to help them is one of the biggest things that fascinates me. That's why I wound up working in the field of Alzheimer's Disease and family caregiving for awhile. It's why I took classes in both psychology and neurophysiology for the fun of it. And it's why I loved this TED video with Temple Grandin!

Temple Grandin is a woman who was diagnosed with autism as a child. Yet she grew up and overcame enough of the handicaps she was challenged with to become an expert in the very narrow but useful field she focused on. She went on to write a book about how her mind functions differently as a person with Aspberger's and to become a true hero in the Autism community for her accomplishments in helping to teach people how important it is to nurture people with a wide spectrum of abilities.

In our session with the parent I mentioned above Paul and I tried to tell him what a beautiful gem he had for a child, how he should be protected from overstimulation while providing lots of opportunity for him to meet other people (of any age) who would value the gifts he already was exhibiting. We thought that it was great that they had family who lived in the Bay area -- certainly there are many people providing great service to the world with the very same differences he complained of, as Temple Grandin says, in Silicon Valley. Not only that, when these engineer/Aspberger folks get together they do speak, they do provide each other with a social system that supports them. We thought it was essential to nurture the child's strengths and provide a loving way for him to express himself along with the necessary skills to get by in the world we share together.

This parent didn't pay us for that session because we said we couldn't "cure" his child. We even said that his child's Aspberger's could help him contribute to making the world a better place. But dad couldn't accept it and it's bothered me ever since.

Transcending Polarity -- Politics, Ego Attachment and Spirituality

Monday, March 15, 2010

Truth, Justice and Where's the American Way?

In my last blog I wrote about Fox News and how they continually distort the news or allow their political commentators to spout lies that purport to be the truth. Night after night, day after day, someone on the Fox News channel will say something Orwell would have been screaming about.

Today I came upon this CNN news article about Glen Beck calling for people to leave their churches if they talk about economic or social justice. What? Jesus was a reformer. There are very few churches in the world that are not about social justice. When did "justice" get to be a dirty word?

Before the last election we saw members of the Glen Beck, i.e. Republican, underground post numerous videos on Youtube and in emails to their constituents portraying Obama as Hitler and comparing the rise of the Democratic party supporting him as members of the Third Reich. The Democratic party. The other half of our Democratic system of government's two-party system. What's Fascism really about? We're looking at it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Liar, Liar, Fox News Pants on Fire?

Hello Fox News! Thanks for visiting my blog today. I know you're going to because you made sure to visit the last time I printed something about you. (It shows up in my stats.)

And although I couldn't possibly be a threat with my meager 158 followers, if I should make a habit of criticizing Fox News, Bill O'Reilly, Sean Hannity, Glen Beck or your newest truth distorter Sarah Palin should I expect an ambush attack by one of your producers?

Just a few articles I found around the web today (I could fill this blog with them for months):

The, Nov. 13 2009
"Sean Hannity of Fox News apologizes for video lies on anti-health care reform rally"

From the Huffington Post, 10/20/09 (Video)
"The Ten Most Egregious Fox News Distortions"

From the White House Blog, Sept. 30, 2009
 "Reality Check: Turning a Point of Pride into a Moment of Shame"

From Veterans for Common Sense, August 26, 2009
Fox News Caught Telling Lies About VA

Headline from the Huffington Post, 3/20/08:
"Fox News Publishes False "Black Panther" Endorsement of Obama"

From Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting, 5/21/01
"Irresistible Lies: Fox News on White House "Vandalism"

In 2004, before he became a U.S. senator, Al Franken wrote a well-researched and critically acclaimed book called Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right. It featured photographs of several Fox News commentators on the cover and Fox News attempted to block its distribution by claiming that the use of the words "fair and balanced" violated its trademark. They lost that one. But they've used any excuse to try to discredit Franken since including this incident in December 2009. More lies.

The entire country, in fact, a lot of the western world, is watching what is happening in American politics and on American TV with horror. Nobody is happy with this. Paul and I sat down with a right wing Republican friend in Taylor today and even she admitted that she cannot stand to watch the news, the political grandstanding and blatant lying. "It isn't necessary" she said. "It just puts everyone on edge."

We see the fall-out from the public perception that anything anyone says is suspect. We see how easy it is to cast aspersions on another person on our television screens every night of the week and on Facebook this week it seemed that we and several of our friends had become hyper-sensitive to anything that even hinted at similar tricks being used in our threads. We're fed up. We're tired of these tactics. Truth in media is essential in a real democracy. Around the web -- as I found out today -- a lot of us are starting to fight Rupert Murdoch to get our country back.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

It's Not About Fixing Everything -- Thoughts About Psychic Work Versus Spiritual Counseling

If you look on our spiritual counseling and healing site these days you have to dig really far before you'll find the word "psychic." Looking at your life with the help of spiritual guidance means so much more than predicting the future and all the crazy, not-very-spiritual things people think psychics should do for them. You know: spy on their boyfriend, tell them how to make a killing in the stock market, stuff like that. We're more like counselors and one-on-one teachers who have the ability to use intuitive skills (when it's helpful) to get in deeper and address more accurately what our clients need most. Paul explains this in a video we did about a year and half ago when we still lived in Santa Cruz.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Taking Your Spiritual Life Seriously

One of the things that can happen when you start to take your spiritual life seriously from a New Age perspective is an amazing amount of synchronicity. You know, amazing coincidences. Everyone seems to experience those from time to time. But for Paul and me they happen several times a week! It forces us to look at our lives and everyday activities through a different lens. In this video, shot about a year and a half ago when we still lived in Santa Cruz, Paul talks about what that has meant to his life.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Adventures in Dining in Eastern Arizona

Today we were surprised to discover our favorite diner in the area-- the one that normally only has things like hamburgers and chili fries -- had lasagna as the special! Woo-hoo, something different to eat! We, of course, ordered some right away.

Well, this is cowboy country. You can't put anything too exotic on the menu but, I swear, this was the most bizarre "lasagna" I have ever seen. It was made with lasagna noodles and ricotta cheese but after that the resemblance to anything Italian was completely missing. No tomato sauce that I remember, no mozzarella cheese. Instead there were tiny diced carrots and broccoli. Vegetarian lasagna in cowboy country? That was creative...and edible...but truly the worst lasagna I have ever eaten. I've been longing for interesting food, though, so I found myself enjoying the weirdness nonetheless.

Earlier this week I thought I would make some Indian food but there was nothing to make curry sauce with in the house. I went to the grocery store to get some, the LARGE grocery store, the only local supermarket. And I eventually did find curry powder there but not before having the following conversation with the grocery store clerk I asked to help me find it:

"What's curry?"

"A spice...from India."

"What do you use it for?"

" make Indian food?"

"Oh!" he said. "You'll probably have to go to a health food store to find that!"

Keep in mind that this is a store in which you can find 45 lb sealed white plastic tubs of white flour, 10-15 lb cans of baking powder and 5 lb cans of beef gravy. When the Mormon apocalypse comes -- something they're all counting on -- there will be BISCUITS AND GRAVY for everyone!

But nothing Italian and certainly not Hindu. I'm lying--there is a Round Table pizza parlor in town. But you get the picture.

The March Newsletter is Online

Paul and I have our latest newsletter up. It's packed full of stuff and has LOTS of links to our new videos! (We've been busy bees these last few days.) You can read the newsletter online. Enjoy --