Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My Truth About Respect...

I was speaking to one of my best friends, recently, and she was very upset about an incident that she had witnessed. There was a man eating in a restaurant at a table next to hers and he was ranting and raving in a negative manner about women and various other groups of people. My friend sat in silent horror, as did everyone else in the restaurant, and simply listened to the man's prejudice. She left the restaurant feeling angry and unsatisfied, wishing that she'd said something to the rude man. I told her that I agreed with the 'turn the other cheek' policy. Anything else would have brought more attention to a man who was really just making a fool of himself anyway. Not to mention that challenging him would fuel his fire and give him a stage for his one man show. All she really wanted was to teach the man some respect but respect is not taught, it's grown... and one must have it for themselves before they can start to feel it for others.

A person who respects himself, or herself, is respectful of others. They don't need to learn respect because it comes naturally to them. People who truly respect themselves may appreciate respect from others but they don't need it or ask for it. It's simply not an issue because people who respect themselves are not overly concerned with what other people are thinking, or saying, about them. They are able to listen to and accept complements or negative feedback and respond to either with a simple thank you. This, in my opinion, is a true sign of strength. Of course it's always nice to hear complements and it's certainly necessary to hear negative feedback as well but to allow oneself to be puffed up or torn down by the opinion of others is exhausting and it can really wear down one's self esteem.

Self esteem is, very basically, how we feel about ourselves. Ego and self esteem are not the same thing. Ego is a sense of self that depends entirely on one's perceived successes or failures in any given arena. I liken self esteem to the love a parent feels for a child. A good parent, in my opinion, loves their child regardless of the child's actions, successes or failures. Imagine asking a parent why they love their child... They love their child simply because the child is, they don't need a reason. This is exactly the kind of love that, when cultivated for ourselves, builds a strong and healthy self esteem.

I've been told for most of my life that loving ourselves is pretty much the key to everything. Knowing this is great but how to 'do it', that's the tricky part. Personally, I think that the most effective way to start building self esteem is to simply take the best care of ourselves that we possibly can. Imagine what you would want for the people that you love and then include yourself in that list. Not too long ago I took the advice of author Louise Hay and started saying "I love you! I really really love you!" to myself in the mirror. I said it, I meant it and I actually let it in. I was amazed at how empowering it felt. This simple act of giving and receiving love to and from myself had a definite and immediate impact on my self esteem.

I believe we choose who we want to be, that we choose our actions as well as our reactions. That being the case, who do you want to be; the person whose self esteem depends on the opinions of others or the person whose sense of self worth remains unaffected by praise or blame? Personally, I'm striving to be the latter.

Friday, August 8, 2008

The Fun and Crazy Circus

I often liken this life to a fun and crazy circus. Much like a modern circus, my life has themes and they are never dull... I laugh, I cry and I learn. The theme that is currently appearing in my circus ring is 'Acceptance and Allowing'. In keeping with this theme I've come across the video above. Kinetic Affect tackle a wide variety of issues with deep hearts and well searched souls. They don't serve their findings with silver tongues but instead with the infinitely more valuable commodities of honesty and presence. Click here to check them out for yourselves!


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Key To Pretty Much Everything

"The Way I Am"

Ingrid Michaelson

My choice to embrace the laws of; attraction, deliberate creation and allowing, have given me the opportunity to examine my taste in music, movies, television, etc... I have five or six hundred songs on my iPod and, amazingly enough, I have discovered that less than fifty of those songs give me a truly positive feeling. I wonder why on earth we so often choose to listen to, watch or read things that give us negative emotions such as sadness, anger, fear or pain. In the last couple of years I have switched out of that wallowing in... whatever... and now I am seeking out things that actually give me joy. It's not as easy as it might sound, at least not for me. I have found that there is a lot of music that I find to be really beautiful and initially I think what I am feeling is pleasant but, if I really pay attention to how I am feeling, I realize that I am actually feeling sadness, loss or even pain. Since I am no longer wanting those emotions to play major parts in my life, I am now choosing not to give them any of my time.

On my quest for new uplifting and joy inspiring media I have come across "The Way I Am" by Ingrid Michaelson. I am completely in love with this song. It's about love and acceptance and those are two things that I am happy to invite into my life. You can see the video above if you haven't yet and here are the lyrics;

If you were falling
Then I would catch you

You need a light
I'd find a match

Cause I love the way you say good morning
And you take me the way I am

If you are chilly
Here take my sweater

Your head is aching
I'll make it better

Cause I love the way you call me baby
And you take me the way I am

I'd buy you Rogaine
When you start losing all your hair

Sew on patches
To all you tear

Cause I love you more than I could ever promise
And you take me the way I am mmm

I played the song for my dad and he said something about it being about 'relationship' love. I laughed and told him that sometimes the song makes me think about two of my best friends who always accept me no matter what crazy stuff I do. It's so great to have that in my life and so sometimes I sing the song to them! Other times I think about the song in terms of God or Consciousness or whatever you'd like to call the divine truth that is everything... I open my heart and mind to consider the deep love and acceptance that I receive from the divine, angels etc... and so I sing the song to God! Lastly, I sometimes think about what I am wanting to feel for myself and so to inspire my desire I sing the song to myself! After all, loving and accepting ourselves is pretty much the key to... everything.
I am sending you all love, joy and acceptance!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

I'll Take the Magical Life Please...

Photo from:
They offer free tutorials in Adobe Photoshop!

I recently came to realize that I have been on a quest for a magical life since I was , hmm, well very very young. I was desperate to read and when I did start reading I went hog wild and read everything I could get my hands on. Greek Mythology was my favorite and then Fantasy took over which later blossomed out into the hybrid Science Fiction/Fantasy and the sky was the limit from there. My quest gained a great deal of momentum when I met my spiritual teacher and received Shaktipat at the age of eleven. Suddenly my mind was awakened to all sorts of new ideas and possibilities as well as true love.

As the years passed my ideas about what magic, true magic, was had changed as I lost some of my innocence and 'grew up'. Thanks to God, my ideas didn't change as drastically as they change for most people I've know, but but they did change nonetheless. I no longer believed that anything was possible and I felt lost and alone more often over time. I did therapy which helped me to 'find my way back to myself', if you will. Then I moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico and that was certainly a turning point that steered me back towards the light. I detoured into some darkness but it truly is always darkest before the dawn. I eventually got to a place where I was not just asking for help from God/Consciousness (insert favorite name here, lol) but I was begging for it. And then I came across a man who had recently been to see Joao de Deus (John of God) in Abadiania, Brazil. I had wanted to make this trip for about five years but I'd never had a reason to go because I thought of him as a healer of the physical body and I am blessed with fantastic health.

The man conveyed to me how John of God had removed all of the anger from his soul. I knew it was true because he'd had a terrible reputation for being a supremely unpleasant man and the man I was speaking to was obviously kind-hearted and full of love and gratitude. I thought to myself that if John of God could remove the anger from this guy then I bet he could probably help me with the sadness and pain that I'd still felt a deep connection to at the time. So at that moment I said to the man and to myself that I was going to see John of God! I didn't know how but I knew I'd get there and that boosted my quest up several notches.

Soon after this I was told about The Secret for the first time and by the third time I was told about how great it was I figured maybe I should check it out. I'm grateful that I did 'cause it added some high octane fuel to my newly reawakened quest. I watched it every day for over a month. My creativity reared it's beautiful head and I started designing t-shirts, blogging and playing! Yup, I started wanting to play like a little girl again and I liked it! Skipping, jumping, singing and cartwheeling around in the grass has brought a whole lotta love and joy into my life and my dog's life too, lol. I can't even express how freeing that has been... a lot though! Already my connection to the sadness and pain had started to lessen somewhat.

About a year and a half after I watched The Secret I found some Abraham-Hicks cds that I had lost track of for quite a few years and started listening to them again. I'd actually been to an Abraham-Hicks seminar in Albuquerque in '02... I remember having loved it but somehow... Well, we all get things in our own time, sheesh! (Abraham-Hicks is where the 'Law of Attraction' the core message of The Secret actually comes from.) Their cd's are amazing, very empowering. They have some great videos on Youtube as well. You'll find one of the videos in a previous post of mine if you click on the tag Abraham-Hicks.

So then about nine months ago a friend of mine asked me to stay with her while she was in the hospital recovering from an operation that she needed to have. She came through her operation like a champion and the recovery was more of the same. Several weeks after I returned home she called me and told me that she decided she wanted to go to Brazil to see John of God and she wanted to bring me with her as a thank you. She said that it would be fun to go with me, being as I'd wanted to go for such a long time and would be very enthusiastic. I was ecstatic, of course, and a couple of months later I found myself in Abadiania, Brazil having the time of my life! It was heaven on earth for me. I've written plenty about that though so I will move on...

I will tell you that the sadness and pain I felt such a strong connection to is gone, completely gone, and I have received many other fabulous gifts from that trip as well. I am most certainly going back, hopefully soon. One of the gifts I received was another huge boost towards the knowing that a magical life is not only possible but it's happening now. My experiences in Abadiania were truly fantastical and definitely magical. Spiritual teachers have been telling me that anything is possible since I was a child and now a variety of scientists are offering corroborating evidence with quantum physics. Just check out What the Bleep!? - Down the Rabbit Hole, it's amazing.

My most recent incredible boost came from a friend of mine in Abadiania. He told me about Matrix Energetics. I don't know really how to describe Matrix Energetics so I'll just give you an excerpt from the website and if you like it you can click on the paragraph and follow the link down this rabbit hole;

Matrix Energetics is a complete system of healing, self-care and transformation. It is a transferable and teachable phenomenon, powered by intent, which has a physical and observable effect every time. Complete beginners as well as seasoned health care practitioners are able to perform and utilize this work to affect change-with no waiting and no running of energy. Anyone can learn this skill and practice Matrix Energetics.

I can tell you that after taking one seminar I am totally hooked on it! I had so much fun at that seminar it was like taking a vacation with a bunch of crazy fun kids and just playing and playing and playing! Which is pretty much what we did with some quantum physics, a little consciousness and all kinds of what I'd call magic thrown into the games. On a video testimonial from the website a woman said something to the effect that a Matrix Energetics seminar was like a trip to Hogwart's. ( the school that Harry Potter attends) I'd have to agree with her. And now I know for certain that magic does exist! True magic, the kind of magic that you always wanted to believe in. I could tell you incredible stories but I think that if you are ready for this amazing experience you will know it and you will embrace it! I did. I found out about Matrix Energetics in mid May and I was at a seminar in L.A. on June 6th. The money I needed to do it just flowed right to me and I took that crazy bull's horns and went with it.

For the past couple of years I have found myself living in joy more and more of the time. My temper has dramatically changed and I find it so much easier to let go of anger, pain and shame. I am able to feel my emotions and then to let them go, so simple! When I do find myself in a tantrum I am able to step back and laugh at myself and move on to the business of my magical life! The things that I am wanting are flowing into my life more and more easily. Ease and joy are the name of my game now and it's happening... like magic! So the next time someone tells you that you can do anything, be anything or have anything that you are wishing for... Believe it! It's the complete and utter truth.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Eye of the Beholder

Lately I have found myself feeling a little less than satisfied with my current size and shape. For many reasons, all known to me, I have put on a lil extra weight and it's just not sitting well with me. I hear myself criticizing my body and I actually have to laugh a little. How many times have my friends told me they were unhappy about there bodies and I told them to relax and that they were gorgeous? (And it was true every time.) I am not a huge fan of hypocrisy in general and even less so in myself. So I keep telling myself what I would tell any other person in the world, "Shut up and be happy, you are gorgeous!" Is it working? Kinda, but sometimes a little outside help doesn't hurt...

So this morning I was reading a post from Kristen on my favorite blog GlamSpirit about an article by Walter Kirn that had inspired her. I followed her link and was not disappointed. The article is about how Walter has come to view and define beauty in women over the years. His words are touching, honest and inspiring. It's so refreshing to read about a man finding beauty where we might find flaws. It also got me thinking and I decided that for the times when "beautiful!" is not the first thing I say to my reflection in the mirror perhaps "I love you!" will be my replacement. Maybe that's a better way to go anyway... hmmmmm, ya think? After all there is nothing sexier on the planet than a healthy self esteem.

I want to say thank you to Kristen and to Walter Kirn for their timely inspiration. Oh and, by the way, Kristen is gorgeous... not just words, folks.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Skype Me Baby!

Gotta love the video phone.
Oscar sure does!

For everyone who does not already know about Skype it is a super fantastic service that's available to anyone with access to a computer. Skype allows you to make video calls to other Skype members (anywhere in the world) for free, that's right gang, for FREE! Oh and membership is free too. A couple of weeks ago I was using a computer in an Internet cafe in Brazil and I was speaking face to face with my sister who was still half asleep in her bed in Upstate New York. It was fantastic. You can also use your Skype account to call people on the telephone for ridiculously low rates. People were making calls to their friends all over the world, for free, on the computers at this Internet cafe in Brazil. In fact all of the Internet cafes that I went to were Skype ready and even had headsets on all of the computers so people could speak with relative privacy. It really is an incredible service and I'd have to say an absolute must if you're planning to travel. If you don't have it then click on the Skype ad on the right side of this page and get it, you will not regret it! All you have to do is to download the program and away you go! Free Video Phone, People! Video phone is good and free is good, the combination... Fantastic!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A Prayer Meeting in the Heart of the World

Okay, a wee bit more about my trip to Brazil... My first morning waking up in Abadiania my eyes popped open at about 6 am, first time for everything right? Every morning after I spontaneously awoke between the hours of 4:30 am and 6:30 am, depending on the schedule of that day. I had no alarm clock and it didn't matter if I went to bed at 9 pm or 12 am. I didn't even feel tired... weeeell most of the time anyway, lol. So that, for me, was pretty amazing and cool. Oh and, by the way, I am still waking up early, although here I may or may not get up early... that's an Abadiania thing.

My Sunday morning in Abadiania started around 6:30 am. I woke up, meditated, did a little stretching and then went down to the pousada dining room for breakfast. (I stayed at Pousada Irmâo Sol, Irmâ Lua aka "Martin's" and it was wonderful. You can find it in the Casa Guide) So, anyway, at breakfast my friends Brian and Noreen told me that they were going to a prayer meeting at the Casa de Dom Inacio de Loyola. I asked if I could tag along and they said, "Of course!"

I had no idea what to expect. the Casa is kinda technically Catholic, Jesuit and Spiritist. (I was born Episcopalian, grew up going to an ashram that was primarily Hindu but open to all faiths and over time I have become... hmmmm. All I know is that there is nothing that exists that is not God, Consciousness or whatever you'd like to call IT.)

So, to start the meeting a lovely man stands up in front of our little group of about twenty people and tells us to share prayers, poetry, hymns, songs or do whatever comes into our heart but to just please refrain from trying to coach us. He went on to say that each person in the meeting was doing their own work, that we should respect this and to please simply use this time to share. I was excited to hear what would come next!

People shared poetry, prayers and hymns in English, French, Armenian, German, Portuguese and even Gaelic! The prayer book that we were given contained every type of prayer imaginable, including a Native American blessing. We enjoyed hearing and joining in on several Buddhist and Hindu chants and the grand finale of this incredible worship sharing experience was the entire group singing "Let It Be" by the Beatles at the request of a lovely English gentleman. I must confess that I had tears streaming down my face for the better part of the hour long meeting. In my head I was begging God to somehow let me live in this incredible place where all people are welcome and encouraged to come and worship together in whatever manner they pleased. For me this was just further confirmation that Abadiania is in fact Heaven on Earth!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Back from Heaven...

I just got back from Abadiania where the Casa Dom Inácio De Loyola is located and I have to say that I feel as though I have been to Heaven. The hour and a half cab ride from Brasilia Airport gives only a preview of the beauty of Abadiania. The clouds dip below the horizon giving one the impression that one is floating in the sky. There are pretty white Brahman Cows dotting the lovely green hills and people and towns are few and far between. The Taxi whizzes by the breathtaking countryside at a speed that is slightly less than comfortable but ya gotta just go with the Brazilian flow! As the towns do pass you catch glimpses of cool rustic wooden furniture and shiny copper pots laid out by the road in an attempt to draw in passers by. The copper pots come in many sizes from very small to massive, so big that it would take three men just to pick one up... empty!

I had an amazing and magical trip to Heaven and I will return as soon as I possibly can. If you are wondering why I went to this distant small town simply read the post before this one and all will be revealed. Okay well, some will be revealed anyway! And as for the details of my trip, well... That's a long involved story of spiritual healing a wee bit too private for this blog. Sorry gang! I will tell you that Abadiania is a magical place and if you choose to make the journey, prepare to leave a changed person.

Monday, April 7, 2008

I'm Going to Abadiania with a Journal on My Knee!

For seven years I've wanted to go to see John of God in Abadiania, Brazil and by this time next week I'll be there! John of God is an amazing healer... or rather a channel for healing entities. The entities have been healing people through John of God for many, many years now. I have known many people that he, or rather the entities, healed of numerous physical and emotional health issues. If you want to know more about him there is a wealth of information on the internet. The 'official' site is (If you already know who he is and are wanting to go, there is a fantastic website with all of the information that you'll need called Friends of the Casa. Whether you want to go with a guided group or on your own private adventure Friends of the Casa will get you there.)

I will be there for my 40th birthday which I find to be wonderfully auspicious! Sooooo have a fantastic couple of weeks while I am gone. I've decided to go old school... I'm leaving my Macbook at home and bring my travel journal instead!
Big Love to All Y'all!

Friday, April 4, 2008

I've Been Drinking from the Cup of Hafiz!

The Ceiling at the tomb of Hafiz
Photo from Roozbeh Taassob @ Wikimedia Commons

There is no sweeter nectar for the heart and soul than the poetry of the great Sufi master Hafiz. I have taken to opening up my copy of "The Gift" in the morning to begin my day with some pure unadulterated joy. I have fallen, and fallen hard, for Daniel Ladinsky's translations of my beloved Hafiz. Pick up a copy, you will most certainly will not regret it. Here is my favorite poem of all time:

If The Falling of a Hoof

If the falling of a hoof
Ever rings the temple bells,

If a lonely man's final scream
before he hangs himself

And the nightingale's perfect lyric
Of happiness
All become an equal cause to dance,

The Sun has at last parted
It's curtain before you-

God has stopped playing child's games
With your mind
And dragged you backstage
By the hair,

Shown to you the only possible

For this bizarre and spectacular

Go running through the streets
Creating divine chaos,

Make everyone and yourself ecstatically mad
For the Friend's beautiful open arms.

Go running through this world
Giving love, giving love,

If the falling of a hoof upon this earth
Ever rings the

Oh My God! I love that poem soooooooooo much. I feel such unimaginable bliss and awe every single time I read it. I can almost see Hafiz sitting on the steps of a temple, giggling away as a passing camel's footfall rings the temple bells... Oh what a beautiful and wondrous world it is that we live in!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Joy is Bursting from Our Home!

This gorgeous photo popped up in a recent image
search and I found it so inspiring!

(I found it @ Deaf Pagan Crossroads)

I find that any time I am not feeling 100% all I need to do is to go outside and spend a little quality time with the ever abundant and joy filled Mother Earth! Sounds pretty hippie dippy, I know... so be it! I find that the more time I spend appreciating my surroundings the more appreciation I feel for myself. I have a beautiful lake behind my house and almost every day I take my kooky little Beagle Duda down to say hello to "my lake". Every time I take the time to do this I receive a lovely boost of joy and occasionally I am blessed with an eagle sighting which adds a dose of pure awe to the mix!

"My lake" was built by the father of my next door neighbor, and great friend, many decades ago. It was a true labour of love on land that was granted to his great great grandfather (give or take a great) for his heroism in the Civil War. The family are all wonderful loving people and the land emanates with their love and appreciation. I feel such incredible gratitude to have the privilege of enjoying this blessed place every day. Just think about the way that domestic plants respond to being loved and appreciated... Take it outside, gang! The results will be world changing!

Monday, March 10, 2008

It's Go Time for Ms. Pollyanna!

I have spent a good part of the last week reading Ask and It Is Given and listening to Abraham-Hicks' cd on the Law of Allowing and I have to say that I have never felt better in my life! The video above gives a nice nutshell of their message. They are the teachers of the Law of Attraction. They teach three such Laws: Attraction, Deliberate Intention and Allowing. These laws work together and for many people they are not new concepts, once you get into them, but they are brilliantly explained and they teach the most effective ways, that I've come across so far, of maintaining one's focus on what one is wanting, rather than what is lacking in one's life. Not to mention a most positive and effective way of releasing ego. I find it to be quite fabulous.

I had the great good fortune of taking an Abraham-Hicks seminar about seven years ago in Albuquerque and it was amazing. Apparently I was not quite ready to embrace the Laws until now. Swaha! I'm falling in love with them now, let me tell you, the Law of Allowing is my new best friend. I have never found a more effective way to overcome ego in my life! I think that they do the best job in explaining these laws so I am not going to go on about it here. Check out the video above and if it sounds like something that you are wanting, jump on in! They have books, videos, cds and of course seminars. As my cousin Kanti said last night, "We can go through life crying or we can go through life laughing..." Kind of a no brainer when you put it that way, eh? lol

So... I am saying goodbye to some of my old habits forever and instead choosing these new habits:

1.) I am choosing to watch, read and listen to only those things that bring joy into my life. (I updated my dvr and my iPod and even removed or updated several of my posts on Lipstick Hippie and TempleGreen.)

2.) I am allowing, with love, myself and all others to exist in the creations that we have chosen for ourselves. I am allowing, with love, even those who would choose not to allow me.

3.) When I have negative thoughts and emotions I will release them and choose instead to seek out the things that inspire appreciation and joy in me.

This may sound strange to some of you but I must tell you that it is quite relieving to me. All of these choices are already in line with my beliefs and even, quite honestly, with my own natural inclinations. I have been teased many a time in my life for trying to find the silver lining. Well look out, babies, I'm gonna go far far beyond the silver lining now... it's go time for Ms. Pollyanna!

Big Love to All Y'all!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Morning has Broken and Oprah's Handing Us a Hot Cup o' Consciousness!

I was driving to the grocery store, yesterday, listening to Cat Steven's singing "Morning has Broken" and when I arrived, the spot I was going to park in had a cart in the middle of it. People not putting their carts away has been a pet peeve of mine in the past. Without even thinking about it I stopped the car got out, put the cart where it belonged and parked my car. There was no irritation in me, not even an echo of irritation. It was fabulous. Then I went into the store and shopped with total ease and joy. When I went to the check out area a cashier called me over with a friendly smile and it was so sweet. The funny part was that when I got home I found that he had placed a big bottle of juice on top of some rolls, squashing them! I was slightly irritated for about five seconds and then I just laughed and let it go.

I credit my great mood partly to the joy and gratitude that singing along with Cat Stevens inspired but mostly to the book that I've been reading for the past week, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. The book is about learning how to step out of ourselves, observing our ego and becoming more present in our daily life. It's actually not new information for me, I mean some of it is, but mostly it's stuff that I've been learning or hearing for a good deal of my life. But the fact of the matter is, as my cousin Kanti says, until we really get it, I mean truly get IT, we need all of the help that we can get! It is extremely well written and it offers some fantastic insights. It may be the final straw for this lil' camel's back, yay! Oprah is offering a free web course with Eckhart Tolle, about this book, starting in March. The world is a changin' and it's ALL good, baby! Thanks again Oprah, you truly rock!

I've listened to that song many times but for some reason I was inspired to create the design in the photo above for last night.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

God is my Skeleton

I use the word God... a lot. God means different things to different people and it came to me that perhaps I should clarify. I was born Episcopalian and then I met my spiritual teacher, who is Hindu, when I was about eleven. I am neither and I am both. I believe that nothing exists that is not "God". It could be called Atman, consciousness, Shiva, Zeus, Thor or by any word designated to the being that is all pervasive. I believe in unity and acceptance. I also assume that since we have different words in different languages for almost everything that it makes sense that we would have different names for that which is formless. A rose is a rose is a rose... Alrighty then!

So the other day I was japa walking through the snow when the poem "Footprints in the Sand" came into my head. I've always been rather fond of that poem. I suddenly felt a rush of gratitude for my life. I realized that, though my life has not always been easy, I have never really gone without. I've always had a roof over my head and food, usually very good food, to eat. I don't feel like God was carrying me or even walking beside me, I feel that God has always been my skeleton, holding me up when I couldn't do it for myself. The wave of gratitude became so strong that I actually had tears in my eyes. I am a big old sap, and that's just the way I like it!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's Just Your Japa Walkin'... Yeah!

Recently I've taken to going on vigorous japa walks. The spiritual practice known as japa is simply the continuous repetition of any *mantra (or the name of the Lord.) A japa mala, which is similar to worry beads or a rosary, can be used to help stay focused on the mantra while keeping a count of the repetitions. Typically Japa Malas will have 108 beads with a 109th bead, the Guru Bead, hanging separately to mark the beginning and end. The practice of Japa may entail hundreds or even thousands of repetitions. Japa walks are a great way to give your exercise routine a spiritual boost!

*If you are interested in learning more about mantras I just found this book and, though I haven't read it myself, the book sounds fascinating from the description and excerpt on the website. If you don't want to read the whole book there is an excerpt from the book explaining what a mantra is here;

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day!

Cala Lily in Hues of Pink from Youngman's Fancy

Spread love and joy and it will come back to you tenfold.
It works with everything that we do.
Whatever we put out, we will always get back.
So... I'm giving you all love, light and joy!

Check out GlamSpirit's Valentine's Day post, I loved it!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Jeff Buckley's Wings Brushed My Face

Jeff Buckley, Gregorian Punk
Relief Block Print, 2004
Stephen Alcorn

A couple of weeks ago Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley played from my iPod and immediately after Fire and Rain by James Taylor came on. The combination was so appropriate that I suddenly felt very sad and it came into my head to write this post... So here it is.

Many years ago, when I lived in Manhattan, I had the amazing good fortune to spend a night hanging out with Jeff Buckley. At the time I lived a couple of blocks from Grammercy Park, I loved it there. One evening I was home alone and feeling a bit bored when my roommate's best friend called to try to get Jared to go out and play with him. Jared was an aspiring actor, a handsome young man who was working at The MercBar that evening, if memory serves. I don't remember Jared's buddy's name but, no matter, we'll call him Jack to make the storytelling easier.

Okay so... Jack was terribly bored and since Jared wasn't home he decided that I would have to step up and take my roomy's place. It took some convincing but finally I gave in. I figured, Monday night, free drinks at Beauty Bar... Why not? I quickly pulled myself together and walked the few blocks down to Fourteenth Street where Jack was waiting at the bar. We'd been sipping our drinks for only a short time when Jack gestured to a guy sitting by himself at one of the tables and said, "Jeff Buckley's here." At the time I had no idea who Jeff Buckley was and Jack spoke quite casually, so I assumed that he was a friend of Jack and Jared's. I looked over at the lonely looking guy and felt a little sad for him so I asked Jack to invite his friend to come sit with us. He gave me a funny look and then smiled and said, "Sure, why not..."

At first glance Jeff had seemed quite ordinary but when he came over to join us and I looked into his eyes... Yikes, that boy was gorgeous and his eyes were full of light. He and I spoke about fashion for awhile because I was a fashion stylist at the time and he really enjoyed fashion. I remarked immediately on his intense presentness. Conversing with him was a pleasure because there was not one iota of distraction in his eyes. Often times in bars or clubs people's eyes are wondering around looking to see who's doing what with who. Jeff Buckley's gorgeous brown eyes looked directly and deeply into my own as we spoke and his energy was intoxicating to be near. He didn't seem at all surprised that I had no idea who he was, although I still didn't know so I can only say he seemed very relaxed and comfortable in himself. At one point when Jeff went to the bathroom Jack tried to tell me that Jeff Buckley was a famous musician but when you've never heard of a person it's kind of difficult to really get it. I thought perhaps he was exagerating a little bit.

Jeff and I were discussing our concepts of spirituality and we somehow got onto the subject of the Crusades. At the time I was just getting over being very unhappy with the Catholic Church because of it's adverse effect on a man that I love very much. (Growing up Catholic had turned him away from all things spiritual.) I'd just finished reading *The Mists of Avalon several months before and it had helped me to start to overcome my bitter feelings and come to terms with the change that Christianity brought to the world when it suppressed the Earth Religions. Jeff was extremely disturbed by these things too and we discussed this for quite some time. A couple of hours and several subjects later the bartender decided that we three were not enough for him to justify staying open so we were given the boot.

I suggested that we go down to this crazy Aussi bar that I liked on Ludlow Street called Barramundi. When we arrived one of the bartenders was pulling the gate down over the door. I said something about what a bummer that they were closing and the bartender was like, "Yeah, sor..." but as he turned he saw Jeff and said, "Hell, I'll open up for Jeff Buckley!" and immediately pulled the gate back up and let us in. I turned to Jeff and was like, "Who the hell are you?" He laughed and shrugged.

The bartender called the owners of the bar and soon we had a small crowd of people around us. They all seemed to think that Jeff was my boyfriend and I didn't play with it but I didn't correct them either. We had a lovely time talking until the wee hours of the morning. Finally one of the Aussi bartenders came over and told Jeff they had some food prepared for him in the back. He got up to follow her and suddenly I realized that I was exhausted and decided it was pumpkin time for me. I told him so and the bartender smiled and said that the food was for me too, of course! I thanked her but said it was time for me to be off. Jeff asked if I was certain, I told him I was and I gave him a hug and turned to leave. As I was walking out the door he called out to me from across the bar, "Jen, I'll read The Mists of Avalon, I will!" I laughed and waved goodbye.

I had always thought that I would see him again but I never did. The crazy thing is that I never knew until after he passed what an incredible musician he was. I didn't listen to his music until after he was gone, I don't know why. I was at Puffy's Tavern, down in Tribeca, when I heard the news of his drowning. I cried for the loss of the world when he passed. There was one thing that I did recognize about Jeff Buckley when I first met him, the moment I looked into his eyes I could see that his soul was deep and beautiful and when he looked into my eyes I felt truly seen by him. Jeff Buckley was an angel walking this Earth.

Who knows, perhaps I will see him again.

* "The Mists of Avalon" is a great book by Marion Zimmer Bradley.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

She's Going the Distance. . .

This post is not about Oprah but I just want to start by telling you that I am in utter awe of her commitment to the enlightenment of the world! She just did a second follow up show on "The Secret" and it was just perfect for me and what I was needing to hear. Settle in gang, I have a lot to say today. Where to begin... Okay I've got it. I have had the great good fortune to grow up with a spiritual teacher who told me, repeatedly, that the most important thing in the world was to love myself. I've always known the Truth of this in my heart but the experience of it is another story. I am not saying that I have terrible self esteem, my self esteem is not too bad. I've done a good deal of intensive therapy to overcome some out dated survival techniques that I learned as a child. Like every person I've ever met, my childhood was less than ideal and I picked up some issues along the way. I would say that in some ways I've had better than average self esteem and in others I've had less. Anyway, my point is that I've been learning for almost thirty years what it means to truly love myself. It has been a fantastic and terrible journey and it's left me baffled more than once.

A couple of years ago I was at a low point in my quest. I was depressed and truly felt like I was drowning. And then I had a conversation with a man who'd just returned from Brazil where he'd visited a healer that I had wanted to see for several years, John of God (Joao de Deus). We spoke for some time as the man described how his heart had been healed. I knew his words to be true because he had been a notoriously angry and hateful man in the community and he was the father of a friend of mine as well. When I met him he was an extremely kind and gentle soul. His son had told me that his father was a changed man, and the change was unbelievable. So, on that day, I made a promise to myself that I would go to see John of God within the next couple of years and that I would ask for him to heal the deep sadness that I'd lived with for most of my life. The moment that I made the promise to myself I felt the weight on my chest lighten.

Several days later I went to see my Nurse Practitioner and I told her that I'd been feeling pretty depressed and how, simply making a decision to do something about it had greatly lightened my load. She suggested that I get a dvd that she'd seen called "The Secret". She was the third person to suggest this to me and so I decided that it was time to check out this amazing dvd. So I went onto the internet, found the site after some searching and purchased this strange looking dvd. At the time "The Secret" was only available from their own site and it was not very well known so it was a little hard to find. I watched it the moment that it arrived and then I watched it every day for a month and a half after that, sometimes several times a day. (I am obviously a huge fan of "The Secret".) The information was not new to me and, in fact, I had actually done a two day seminar with Esther Hicks several years before, but it came at just the right time and it had exactly what I needed. Also it was a fantastic tool for me because I needed something that I could get into my bones and what better way than watching a movie that is fun and exciting and uplifting and... The Truth?

People who say that it is too focused on obtaining material possessions apparently did not watch the entire film or perhaps they saw what they wanted to see. The teachers in "The Secret" clearly state, a number of times, that; money and possessions will not bring happiness, and that manifestation will not work if you are simply focused on getting a lot of stuff. The fact of the matter is that to get to the point where one has the ability to manifest, one generally must first become a happier and more balanced person. So if a person starts the journey because they want more stuff, they will probably not be that same person when they achieve the goal of manifestation. In my opinion it doesn't really matter why a person is motivated to work on themselves for the work to bear fruit. If you ask me the more the merrier and apparently Oprah feels the same way;

No matter any criticism for The Secret, Oprah says she still believes it's valuable. "I'm grateful that for so many millions of people the door was at least opened to the idea that we are each responsible for the quality of our lives,"

I love you Oprah, you truly rock! So, moving along, it's been about two years since I first started watching "The Secret" and I am a totally different person, I am actually quite used to change though, I grew up with constant change and very little same. Even so it has been an amazing two years and I have done A LOT of work on myself. I started keeping a gratitude journal, meditating and exercising regularly again, which I hadn't been doing for quite some time. I started two blogs and writing for a couple of content websites. I found and discovered that I love to create designs, and from people's reactions to my designs I am apparently quite good at it. So now I have two websites that sell my designs, one for spiritual designs and one for silly and funny designs.

Saying that I had never been very good at "creating abundance" in my life would be a gross understatement. I grew up in a family and community where money was not the goal of life. Don't get me wrong I had worked since I was eleven, I enjoyed working, but never with the goal of having a lot of money. Stuff was not my thing and I pretty much always had enough anyway... just enough. As years went on I had more and more difficulty with this and eventually I just kind of gave up on abundance. It suddenly became a huge issue in my life when I started feeling like a failure because of my handicap... my self esteem plummeted. Luckily I have a guardian angel who whispered "The Secret" into my ear three times. So for two years I did everything that I learned to create abundance in my life but to no avail. I definitely brought a lot more joy and peace into my life but abundance continued to elude me. My self esteem managed to climb out of the gutter and clean herself off only to look around and find that the fear of failure was standing and waiting for the right moment to push her down again. And then along came Oprah and some friends to save the day!

I came away from Oprah's latest follow up on "The Secret" with valuable insight. I've watched it twice, to firm it up, and I'll probably watch it a few more times. What I got was not new information, as with "The Secret", but the timing was right and I was ready, nay desperate, to hear it. After a ridiculous number of years I was finally able to penetrate the freakin' armor around my heart! These tips will, perhaps, sound simple and silly but they are working for me, so here you go;

1.) The key to everything is to love yourself. Even if you think that you do love yourself try this anyway and see what happens. Look at yourself in a mirror and say "I love you, I really, truly love you." Look into your eyes when you say this and try to mean it, even if you feel silly. Try to feel it. When I say love I mean the kind of love that a mother is meant to feel for a child. The love that God feels for us. Unconditional adoration with a healthy dose of comforting affection. It felt great to me... after the initial weirdness wore off.

2.) Figure out any hidden resentments that you may have in your life and just let them go. Find it in your heart to forgive the transgressor no matter how horrible their offense. This is just good advice, regardless, but sometimes these resentments can feel justified. Holding onto resentment will keep you from fully achieving your goals so "justified" or not only you are suffering. I found some that were eking out an existence in my soul and I am working on shooing them out. It's not always easy but it sure is necessary.

3.) Figure out how to let go of any fear or feelings of needing whatever it is that you are wanting in your life. When you visualize, do it with joy and then offer it up to God or the universe or whoever and then move along. Give the decision of the how and even the what to your higher power, do not feel that you are manifesting but instead that you are simply putting it out there and then getting on with the business of loving yourself and choosing to be joyful.

After watching the Secret Follow Up for the second time I ran a bubble bath to give myself a boost. I got into the tub and as I leaned back I noticed that the bubbles had formed into the shape of a perfect heart. For a moment I just smiled and laughed. I have been finding heart shapes all around me for well over a year. I have written about them and I have photos of some, like this one of the heart cloud that was over my house. It was better before I ran inside to get my camera but it's still pretty cool. It happens so often that my friends and family just laugh now when I point them out. So... back in the bubble bath, the reason for all of the crazy hearts suddenly hit me like a bolt of lightning. The Universe had been trying to tell me to actively love myself for over a year! I looked towards heaven and said, "Thank You!" out loud and then tears of gratitude streamed down my face. I couldn't believe it. If you could see all of the amazing hearts that have formed around me you would be too. ( A couple of them are here. The dog pee one is very funny.) And as the steam from my bath hovered around me a list of people that I was grateful to streamed through my head as though I were giving an acceptance speech of some kind... "I want to thank my mom and dad. Thank you to my teacher and her teacher and his teacher. Thank you Esther Hicks and Abraham. Thank you Cealo...." and the list went on and the tears flowed.

It all boiled down to this in my head; The Truth is that there is nothing that exists that is not God (or whatever word you choose to call that), and the key to life is to simply, or not so simply, LOVE YOURSELF! No matter what, for no other reason than because you exist and with a whole and joyous heart. Go look in the mirror and say "I love you, I really, and truly love you!"... and then believe it. In the immortal words of the Nike Corporation, "Just do it."

Oh yes and, by the way, one of my best friends is taking me to Brazil with her to see John of God in April. (As a thank you gift but that's another story.) I will be there for my fortieth birthday, which I personally find to be quite auspicious. Et Voila! If that's not manifestation than I don't know what is. Go forth and manifest! Oh, and check out Oprah's web page about the follow up to "The Secret".

Thank you Oprah. Thank you Louise Hay. Thank you God, Buddha, Allah, Vishnu, Shiva, Zeus, Jesus, Thor and Mother Earth!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Holy Valentine Batman!

If you follow my other blog TempleGreen you know that I lost my Chihuahua, Mae, last Sunday. Even though she was very old, 16ish, it's really hard to let go, the loss was devastating. My mom sent me an email with these photos this morning, in an effort to cheer me up. The email included the following explanation;

A PUPPY has been born in Japan with a large, clear, love-heart-shaped pattern in his coat. The Chihuahua was born in May as one of a litter to a breeder. Shop owner Emiko Sakurada said it was the first time a Puppy with the marks had been born out of a thousand she had bred. She had no plans to sell the puppy, which has been named 'Heart-kun'. The long-coated male Chihuahua puppy was born in Odate, northern Japan.

Oddly enough I have been finding hearts in some very strange places over the past year and this puppy is not the craziest one... but certainly the cutest! I wrote about some of the crazy hearts I found in the post "Love from Above and Below" in TempleGreen. I've found a bunch of hearts since I wrote that post last February, including a fried calamari heart floating in marinara and a big heart of bubbles floating in my bath tub! If you think I sound crazy go check out the dog pee heart, fluff heart and cloud heart on TempleGreen and judge for yourself.

Happy Valentine's Day little Heart-kun, you are most certainly loved!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

The God Who Stood on a Brick

Awhile back I wrote about chanting Vitthale! in a post titled; Allowing . . . Accepting with Love. Since then several people have been curious about the meaning of Vitthale so I decided to write a lil' post of explanation. The chant is Vitthale! Vitthale! Vitthale! Vitthale! Jai Jai Vitthale! Jai Jai Vitthale! It's a chant of devotion to Vitthal, aka Lord Vithoba who is a manifestation of the Hindu deity Vishnu. The names Vitthale and Vithoba are derived from the word "vit" which means brick. So the name means "God who stood on a brick". The short story of how this name came to be is as follows;

A young man, named Pundalik, who had treated his parents very badly for quite some time had a vision of the sacred river goddesses washing their sin stained clothing through prayer in the hermitage of the sage Kukkutswami. (Their clothing was stained with the sins of the pilgrims who bathed in their waters seeking redemption.) In the vision the river goddesses told him that his sins were the most terrible of all the pilgrims. He was devastated by this and so he was inspired to repent his bad behavior and he became an incredibly devout son. He changed so completely that it came to the attention of Lord Vishnu who was very pleased with him. So pleased, in fact, that he decided to pay him a visit. When Vishnu arrived at his door, Pundalik was tending to his parents. He knew Vishnu was there to see him but he did not want to disturb his parents so he threw a brick outside for Vishnu to stand on while he finished taking care of his beloved parents. The street was very dirty so the brick gave Vishnu a clean place to stand while he waited. When Pundalik finally came out to greet Vishnu he asked the Lord to stay on Earth and bless his many devotees with his presence. Vishnu agreed to stay back as Vithoba, the God who stood on a brick.

You can read a more detailed version of this story by following this link to Wikipedia or you can click on the photo of Lord Vitthal above.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

. . . how sweet the sound.

"It is a sad fate for a man to die
too well known to everybody else
and still unknown to himself."

~ Sir Francis Bacon

The other day I was watching a movie about William Wilburforce and the abolition of the slavery trade in Britain. The movie is called "Amazing Grace" because, as a child, Wilburforce met and was greatly influenced by the man that wrote the song "Amazing Grace". John Newton was a reformed slaver and he wrote "Amazing Grace" as a hymn. It's quite a moving film, a definite tear jerker for sensitive folks such as myself! The Sir Francis Bacon quote above was in the movie and it just touched me so deeply that I thought I might share it.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Neti Pots are from Heaven!

I am just coming out of a nasty week long flu and I must say that sinus pain is one thing that really kicks my... Thank God, or whoever you want to thank, for neti pots! If you've never heard of a neti pot then you have got to try one. They clean out your sinuses like nothing else can... a steaming hot shower on the face is pretty fabulous in a pinch but nothing beats the neti pot! My mode d'emploi is to scoop about a quarter tsp of salt into the pot and then bring my tap water to a temperature that is comfortably warm (I test the comfort level of the water temperature in my mouth.) I fill the pot and then I agitate the water to make sure the salt is absorbed. Finally, I put the spout into one nostril, tip my head and the pot to allow the water to drain through one nostril and out the other then draining into the sink. When I finish with nostril number one I repeat the process with nostril number two and then I clean my little pot with soap and water and enjoy a few pain free moments. Simply follow the directions that come with your neti pot and you will thank heaven for that purchase. The photo above is one of the cooler neti pots that I've seen and if you click on the photo it'll link you to that product at Peaceful Company. I have no affiliation, I just liked their neti pot.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Food For Thought

I have been thinking quite a lot about the beef industry of late. In case you are unaware, the beef industry is a huge part of our environmental crisis. Cows (and sheep) burp and fart methane gas which contributes at least as much as, and possibly more than, our petroleum burning cars contribute to global warming. Because of their four-chambered stomachs, a cow may fart up to 600 litres of methane every day, which is enough to fill 40 party balloons. Methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than its more common counterpart carbon dioxide, with one kilo of methane warming the Earth 23 times as much as the same mass of CO2.(Sarah Lewis for The Argus) And apparently that's not even including the gas passed through belching. Yikes! Being a vegetarian is actually good for the environment, alas! Now... I know that it is highly unlikely that people will just stop eating beef, not even to save the planet. And I don't think that it is entirely necessary either. Eventually it may come to that but, to kick things off, a drastic reduction in beef production might just help. Ya think? Hmmmmm.

Now here's some serious food for thought. Take a walk through any grocery store's meat department and look at all the meat and then check out the freshness dates. What happens to the out of date meat? I certainly hope that it's going into the garbage. In a better world it would go to be composted, of course, and hopefully that day will come. But just take a moment to think about all of the meat that ends up in the garbage before it even leaves the market. Now think about all of the times that people purchase meat and then forget to cook it or for whatever reason it goes uneaten. Okay, now think about all of the beef that is burned or cooked but still goes into the garbage. Imagine all of that meat, that HUGE pile of rotting meat wasting away, and for what? Just ponder, for a moment, how many cows that must represent. How many cows are in that pile just so that we won't have to wait for more than a few minutes in the drive thru? If that doesn't hurt your heart, well then buster, you need a transplant.

It seems to me that if the mass production of beef is harming our environment and so much of said beef is going into the garbage anyway, well, beef should cost a lot more and be quite a bit less available. If we want to be able to continue to eat beef we need to relearn what it means to appreciate that beef. Moderation is the cornerstone of health and it is the key to a truly joy filled life. I recently heard something so pertinent on The Sundance Channel, I heard a man say that he considered "disposable" to be a dirty word. Can I hear an "Amen!"? And I will add "convenience" to the new list of dirty words. I think that perhaps it's time for us all to grow up and get over our desperate need for convenience. In my experience, the best things in life are rarely convenient and never easily won.

So please think about cutting back on your beef consumption and do your body and taste buds a huge favor and buy organic! You will enjoy your beef even more, this I can promise. Do it for yourself, do it for the children, do it for your country, the planet... I don't care why you do it, just do it!

In the spirit of full disclosure, I am not a vegetarian. Shocking, I know! My family have been or are currently vegetarian but I have never been able to sustain myself without meat. I was muscle tested by a naturopath/nutrition specialist, in an ashram, who cringed when he was forced to admit that meat and fat were in fact what my body was testing positively with. In other words meat and fat are my natural diet. I don't eat red meat every day and I only eat organic or free range with no additives, hormones or whatever... but I do still eat meat and I enjoy it too! Now you know my dirty little secret.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Lil' Morning Oxygen Please

"It ain't happenin'!" was my response to my cousin, Kanti, when she suggested that I try her new morning shake. Spinach and banana? Blechghgh! No way! Then I realized what I had said, my inner adult took the reigns and I told her I would try it. She was right, it tastes great! I called her right away and told her that she was right. Now, a couple of months later, I drink them almost every morning. I have my own variation, I like making things my own. Here's a fun fact, our bodies get oxygen from three sources; the air we breathe, H2O (water) and fresh raw fruits and vegetables. So if you want to oxygenate... go raw! Now here's what all the fuss was about, and it really is yummy.

Jen's Banana Spinach Shake

2-3 bananas ~ peeled, sliced and frozen overnight
two to three handfuls of organic baby spinach (rinsed)
water(start with 1/2 cup and add as needed to desired consistency)
1 tablespoon flax feed oil (Udo's Oil is great too)
1 scoop Green Vibrance Super Food , spirulina or whatever spirulina based powder suits you
1 tablespoon agave syrup
1/8 teaspoon vanilla

Blend the bananas and water until smooth (I break up my frozen bananas a little with a knife first) and then start putting in the spinach, adding water as needed. I don't like my shake to be too thick but to each your own. Once the spinach is fully blended the shake will just look like a St. Patrick's Day Delight and then you add the Green Vibrance, oil, agave and vanilla. Then in the immortal words of Devo "Whip it good!"

The base of this shake is the bananas and spinach so have fun, if you like, with the rest!

It sounds very strange but it tastes very yummy and it's soooooooo good for you!