I've just finished reading Ido Kedar's incredible speech over at the Autism Speaks blog (click here to read).
Ido Kedar is a fourteen year old 8th grader at his local middle school, which he attends with the with the support of an aide. Ido is non-verbal and communicates via letterboard (unassisted) or DynaWrite. He was not able to demonstrate that he understood language fluently until he was age seven, and it took several years after that to convince the school district to remove him from his remedial autism class. Since then, he's rapidly excelled.
Go on over to the Autism Speaks blog at this post to read Ivo's speech, and to understand why non-verbal doesn't mean stupid, and why impulsive action is not the same as understanding right from wrong...and so much more.
All you need to do is share the most inspiring quote or bit of encouraging advice that helped you endure and/or thrive in life.
Just put your quote or encouraging advice in the comments section of this post by Friday, April 29, 2011 at 1 PM EST. All comments/entries will be dropped into a hat for a random drawing to win 64 Lessons for a Life Without Limitsby Bishop Jakes, out from Atria Books on May 3, 2011.
Book Gems #6 is 64 Lessons for a Life Without Limits by T.J. Jakes, pastor of The Potter's House church. When I was a practicing Pentecostal minister, I LOVED listening to T.J. Jakes (and this is when he first went on-air). Although I no longer follow that spiritual path, it's obvious to me that Bishop Jakes continues to offer empowering, relevant and sensible advice to both believers and non-believers. Although this book references God and scripture, it's not heavy-handed nor evangelistic, but rather illustrative and illuminating.
This particular passage is from Lesson #11: Get Your Life Off Flatline:
Once we meet the typical milestones of life--graduate from school, get married, maybe have a few children, or reach a certain level of success in our chosen fields--we often start to think that's it for life, our best years are behind us. On the surface our life appears fulfilling. It may not be terribly exciting but we know what to expect; it's comfortable in a predictable kind of way. But when many people reach this place, something still feels not quite right.
They wonder, What happened to some of those unfulfilled dreams? We read a great book and recall that we once wanted to write a novel. Or we hear a beautiful aria and remember how we once loved to sing. Dreams get buried but they never really die. That little flutter you feel when you hear that beautiful song as you drive down the freeway on your way home from work is that dream gasping for air...
Many people live lives of quiet desperation stuck in the mud of mediocrity. Mediocrity is like a terrorist threat against our daily lives. It steals moments from our day, sabotages opportunities for advancement and personal growth, and takes away our desire for meaning. It transforms our lives into weapons of mess and destruction. The word mediocre means accepting the second-rate, the average (or below-average), that which is middling, ordinary, commonplace, and run-of-the-mill. Rather than strive to resurrect those buried dreams, mediocrity wants you to resign yourself to the middle of the road."
To get your copy of 64 Lessons for a Life Without Limits from Amazon, click here. To visit the publisher's website, click here. To visit the web home of T.D. Jakes, click here.
"In the heart of winter, a deep layer of snow blankets fields and forests, ponds and wetlands. You spend your days sledding and skating and having snowball fights. But under the snow lies a hidden world." -- From Under the Snow
Written by Melissa Stewart and illustrated by Constance R. Bergum, Under the Snow chronicles the extraordinary lives of animals, insects and fish among frozen ground, tucked within rocks and under icy water.
I had no idea that ladybugs pack themselves into stone walls or that a wood frog can freeze SOLID...and still survive. Talk about fascinating! Not only does Under the Snow explain what goes on during the winter in different habitats, but it also instills a sense of wonder and respect for how various creatures cope (and thrive) during harsh winter conditions.
I highly recommend Under the Snow for all homeschooling families and children's libraries. It's one of those rare books that melds science with beautiful art and lyrical prose...a true treasure.
To get your copy from Amazon, click here. To visit the publisher's website, click here. To vist author Melissa Stewart's super-cool, informative, fun website, click here.
We're the creators of the Snowland Tarot--Janet and Ron Boyer. Loving all things wintry, I (Janet) decided to expand beyond our deck to create a blog dedicated to snow and ice--including weather, snowmen, landscapes, art, myth, poems, science and more. Here's a bit more about us:
Janet Boyer is the author of Back in Time Tarot (Hampton Roads, 2008) and Tarot in Reverse (Schiffer, 2012), as well as the co-creator of the Snowland Tarot (Schiffer, 2013). As a respected Amazon Top/Vine Reviewer, she’s penned over 1,000 published reviews that have also been featured in magazines and other online outlets. In April 2011, Janet was included in the Domino Project's book Tales of the Revolution edited by Seth Godin, which highlighted people making a difference in the world as Initiators. In addition to being a Tarot expert and professional reader, Janet is also a social media consultant, blogger and homeschooling Mom. A true Renaissance Soul, she describes herself with four I’s: Innovator, Iconoclast, Initiator and Instigator. Janet makes her home in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania with her soulmate, Ron, their son, Noah, and two fur babies (cats Stewart and Neo). You can visit Janet online and find out all about her and her latest exploits at http://JanetBoyer.com
Creating since the age of 5, Ron Boyer is a self-taught artist from Pennsylvania, working in acrylics, woodburn, watercolor pencils and polymer clay. At age 21, he was commissioned to create a mural based on the movie Dances With Wolves. Painted in the dead of winter on a 2-car garage door--and taking 7 months to complete--this mural featured dozens of buffalo, horses, and Native American hunters, earning him a full-page story in the local paper. Although Ron specialized in photo-realistic wildlife for most of his life, he has since branched out to mystical, whimsical and surrealistic themes. He has created dozens of commissioned pieces over the last 20 years. Currently, he's working on the Snowland Tarot with his wife, Janet. From scratch, Ron can also make a mean pie (peach with blueberries!) and out-of-this world White Chocolate Banana Cake...not to mention bookcases, entertainment centers, DVD cases, cabinents and sundry practical inventions. You can see some of his art here.
For those who use Twitter, you're no doubt familiar with DMing, or Direct Messaging--another term for private messaging. What you may not know is that DMing is not an automatic two-way street!
Don't feel bad if you didn't know this; even season Twitter users often don't realize this.
Here's an example: let's say you follow Big Publisher because you love their titles and they give away free books via Twitter. You happen to RT one of their messages in order to have your name entered into a random drawing to win.
Hooray! Big Publisher announces that you're a winner, and asks you to please DM them your snail mail address so they can deliver your books. They even send YOU a DM, to remind you.
Much to your dismay, you can't. You click the drop down menu to find Direct message Big Publisher...but it's not there!
The reason for this is because Big Publisher isn't following YOU! The only way you can DM someone is if they are following you. This means that Big Publisher, or any other Tweep, can send YOU a private message when you're following THEM...but if they aren't reciprocating, you can NOT DM them back!
Some get confused, thinking that if they can send YOU a DM, why, then you can send THEM a DM. In fact, I've had SEVERAL pals who've DMed me and said they were following me, but when I realized I couldn't DM THEM, I realized they were NOT. Confused, they would exclaim "But you got my DM, right?"
Well, yeah, of course I got your DM. That's because I'm following YOU. But unless you are actually following me back, I can't DM you back.
So if you're able to DM someone, don't assume that you're following them back; you may have forgotten to, and assumed that your ability to DM THEM meant you were also FOLLOWING them (which may not be the case).
During Holy Week, millions of Christians commemorate Christ's death on Good Friday, and celebrate his resurrection on Easter/Resurrection Sunday. From a mystical perspective, there is much wisdom and symbolism within the death and rebirth cycle. It is a cycle that no one escapes, and thus, touches us all.
In Astrological terms, the sign of Scorpio and the 8th House of the Zodiac are the domain of death and regeneration. In the Tarot, the Death card can be correlated with the death of Christ and the metaphorical “little deaths" we experience, while the Sun card can indicate the “dawn of a new day” when enlightenment, empowerment, rebirth and restored vitality warms us “back to life”. Also bearing a similarity to the death and resurrection of Christ is the legend of the Phoenix.
The scorpion is the traditional Sign of Scorpio. When a scorpion loses its tail, it regenerates a new stinger. In addition, a scorpion would be more likely to kill itself than allow another to do so. According to the book of John, the incited crowd was calling for the death of Christ, shouting "crucify him, crucify him!" Pilate responds to the crowd that he finds no fault with Jesus. Yet, the mob responds, "We have a law, and according to our law, he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God." (John 19:7). Pilate responds to Jesus' silence by saying, "Are you not speaking to me? Do you not know that I have the power to crucify you, and power to release you?" (v. 10)
But Jesus replies, “You could have no power at all against me unless it had been given to you from above." (v.11) Jesus is echoing what he said in John 10:17-18 "... because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again."
The myth of the Phoenix is strongly associated with the Sign of Scorpio, and the Phoenix is considered the symbol of highly evolved Scorpios. According to mythology, the Phoenix was the size of an eagle, with brilliant scarlet and gold plumage. Its life span was between 500-1000 years, and only one Phoenix lived in the world at any given time. The Phoenix would build a nest, sing a mournful dirge, and flap its wings until the nest is caught on fire.
Another legend has it that the Sun god Ra was so moved by the Phoenix' bewitching funeral song, that Ra stopped his chariot for a moment to listen. After listening to the song, Ra whipped his horses to continue, and sparks flew from the horse’s hooves, setting the nest on fire. After being consumed in flames, a new Phoenix arose from the ashes.
Some myths say the new Phoenix emerges from the body of the old one, embalms the "parent" in myrrh, encases them in an egg, then takes it to the Egyptian Sun temple. Interestingly, myrrh is a bitter, fragrant gum resin that's associated with suffering, and was one of the gifts offered to the Christ child by the Magi. Myrrh also symbolizes power, strength, vitality, and mysticism.
Just as the story of Christ details death and resurrection, so it is with the story of the Phoenix. Even the egg itself from the legend of the Phoenix represents new life. In fact, in the 1st century, some began associating the Phoenix with Christianity. The parallels are obvious with phrases like "Unless a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God", which are attributed to Jesus (John 3:3). Also, Jesus claimed to be the only Son of God, and there is only one Phoenix alive at any one time. In Hermetic traditions, the Phoenix was associated with alchemical transformation and transmutation. While Good Friday is a day of suffering and death, the 3-day process of spiritual alchemy transforms itself to resurrection and glorious rebirth, where all things become new.
The Death Card
In traditional Tarot, the 13th Major Arcana Card is Death. This card also represents transition, transformation, rebirth, and permanent change. The only thing that's guaranteed in life is change, and this is the hallmark of the Death card. The astrological correspondence to the Death card is Scorpio and the 8th House. This card is about required change.
If you don't change willingly, something will slam into your life that will force change. Jesus once said in Matthew 21:44 "The person who falls on this stone will be broken, and on whomever that stone falls, that person will be crushed."
I interpret that verse to mean that there is a way of wisdom and a way of woe.
In other words, if you know that a change needs made but you insist on stasis, you may end up "crushed" by the juggernaut of the Wheel (or the lightning bolt of the Tower) because of this resistance to Death/change. Buddhism says that resistance (along with craving) is the root of suffering. Granted, willing readjustment, adaptation and surrender causes pangs of their own, but you’ll end up being merely “broken” (instead of destroyed).
Let me explain it another way: if a person falls from the roof of a house with muscles rigid, he’d be more likely to get injured. However, if he relaxes or “rolls into” the fall, there’s a greater chance of escaping serious injury.
Same way with the winds of change; if you go “with it”, the process goes a bit easier. Fight it, and it will wear you down.
Thus, if you know you need to make changes (Death) and do not, the rock will fall on you, causing the process to be more devastating and difficult because it lacks the gradation that is a part of making conscious changes willingly.
A real life example would be domestic abuse. Yes, leaving the first time a partner hits you is difficult, especially if you lack economic independence or have children. But what will be the price if stay as the resident punching bag?
In Matthew 16:25, Jesus said, "For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." The dichotomy of the Death card is that if you seek to hold onto the familiar with an iron grip, the sweeping winds of change can be devastating. To surrender to All That Is, the Source, is to give up certainty. But in doing so, we gain life and fluidity. To attempt to stave off any change is to court losing the very things we clutch to so tightly.
Built into the Death card is the promise of new beginnings. There's a saying that when God shuts a door, he/she opens a window. Unfortunately, our resistance to change often prevents us from pursuing our bliss and taking risks in relationships, career, finances, etc. There is a hidden blessing when a Death experience touches our life. We can exchange ashes for beauty, much like the mythological Phoenix. But there cannot be a resurrection without a death. So often we want victory, blessings, growth, and profound spiritual experiences, but we don't want the death that may be necessary to make way for resurrection and rebirth!
If someone would have told me that the suffering and death of my husband to leukemia would be shortly followed by following my soulmate, having a precious son and being the happiest I’ve ever been, I would have punched them. In the midst of suffering, it’s often inconceivable that day follows night…but it does (if you surrender to What Is without persistent self-pity and feelings of victimization).
The Sun Card
In the Tarot, 19th Card of the Major Arcana is The Sun card. It represents a portal—an opening in your life. This card is associated with things that are related to the sun: illumination, vigor, healthy self-regard, enlightenment, empowerment, rebirth and newness. The "work" of The Sun card is to purify, cleanse, improve and illuminate—to burn off the “chaff” of painful thoughts and assumptions that cause our suffering.
Understandably, I see this card as representing the Resurrection of Christ, among other things (although some may argue for Judgement). Malachi 4:2 says "...the Sun of Righteousness shall arise With healing in His wings." Many believe this portion of scripture to be prophetic, referring to Jesus. Sun/Son doesn't appear to be a coincidence, and this picture is once again reminiscent of the ascending, flaming Phoenix. Also, Jesus is often associated with Light, and called "The Light of the world".
In terms of consciousness, The Sun card represents a mind awakened from sleep (granted, it may be the Tower experience that bridges Death and The Sun). Too often, we sleepwalk through life, only to be rudely awakened by a death experience. The wide-eyed clarity that results from this awakening—think cold water in the face—is a ripe opportunity for the illumination of truth and light brought by The Sun card. However, you have to stand in the furnace long enough to get the chaff burned off; just glimpsing the Light (or getting a sunburn) does not enlightenment bring.
The Sun card is also associated with the astrological sign of Leo. When I think of Leo, the mighty lion, I'm reminded of the verse from the highly symbolic and mystical book of Revelation "But one of the elders said to me, 'Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.'" (5:5) Jesus is often called the Lion of Judah. In The Chronicles of Narnia series by Christian theologian C.S. Lewis, the lion Aslan is an anthropomorphic nod to Jesus, because this animal, too, dies for a kingdom and is then resurrected.
The last prayer that Jesus prayed in Gethsemane was "...that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us." (John 17:21) As Christ was awaiting his imminent crucifixion and death, he was praying for the Oneness of all of humanity.
When I see the cross, I am reminded that the arms point in two directions: vertically, man being reconciled with God/The Source and to the Divine nature within, and horizontally, man reconciled with man, realizing that All is One, and none is separate (or truly alone). Perhaps one day we, as the corporate body of humanity, will die to the illusion of separateness and be reborn into the totality of Light, Love, Unity, and Life.
Past the darkness of confusion and the mist of despair that often surrounds us through a Death experience—especially as we stand on the precipice of the Unknown, debating whether to freefall or fight for our lives—this is the ultimate message of the death and resurrection of Christ: all-accepting Love, Oneness and Truth through the blazing, illuminating Sun.
Have you ever wondered what Mars in 4th House Leo means?
Heck, maybe you'd just like to figure out the meaning of the 12 Sun Signs, so when someone mentions a "headstrong Aries", "picky Virgo" or "nosy Scorpio", you'll know exactly what they're talking about!
With my new Astrology Basics eBook, I'll give you a handy keyword system so you can combine Planet + Sign + House for basic chart interpretation. Then, you'll be able to get a fix on your own celestial make-up, as well as anyone else's.
There's graphics and glyphs for all the signs and planets, so you'll know how to find each on a zodiac chart.
You can order the Astrology Basics eBook for Kindle at this link. It will also be available on my website for those of you who don't yet have a Kindle. If you know your exact time and place of birth, you can get a free natal chart at Astro.com (I use Chart Drawing--Ascendant) and then use my keyword system to know how the stars impel you.
"When Inna was a teenager she suffered from severe back pain. Though she visited doctors, chiropractors and other health-care professionals, her condition was deteriorating. By her early twenties, Inna's pain was so intense that for weeks she was barely able to walk. In an incredible twist of fate, Inna, while meditating, discovered an unusual way of communicating with her body. By tuning into her back and releasing all the pain and negative emotions, she was able to heal herself." -- About Inna Segal, creator of The Secret Language of Colour Cards
Bestselling author Inna Segal (The Secret Language of Your Body) believes that the strategic use of color can heal disease, calm the mind, alleviate emotional stress and invigorate the body. Some businesses incorporate the mindful use of color, as do hotels, medical centers and schools--all with the intent of affecting feelings and experience.
From wearing clothing of a particular color to donning jewelry, drinking from colored glasses to using a certain hue of makeup, Inna points out that healing with color can take many forms. With The Secret Language of Colour Cards, Inna distills the energetic essence of 45 colors, providing a compact means for focusing on the special qualities for health and well being.
A few examples of the color wisdom Inna provides on the cards include:
* Cherry - Live an Extraordinary Life * Jade - Take Action * Pearl - Strengthen Your Connection with the Divine * Apricot - Rejoice and Lighten Up * Yellow - Purify Your Body * Aqua - Experience Peace and Calm * Silver - Be Persistent * Lavender - Body, Mind and Soul Connection * Amber - Awaken Your Creativity * Watermelon - Have Fun with Your Inner Child * Azure - Protect Yourself * Magenta - Connect to Your Deepest Inner Knowing * Purple - Develop Mental Clarity * Chocolate - Nourish Your Body and Soul * Gold - Attract Abundance
When I first saw these cards, I though "Hey, any deck that includes a Chocolate card...well, count me in!" I've used The Secret Language of Colour Cards intermittently over the last few months and, although these large, glossy cards are major mouth-watering eye-candy, I haven't found random draws with them to remarkable or particularly insightful. I would have loved to see more information on a specific color's background (use in art, symbolism, history, etc.) in the 80-page companion booklet. However, most of the information is just brief meditations, visualizations and prayers.
I'm not so sure The Secret Language of Colour Cards are a good diagnostic tool for physical ailments nor as an oracle, but the eye-popping colors, stunning photography and slick presentation would serve as excellent mood enhancers, chakra balancers and objects for relaxing contemplation.
This is one of my all-time favorite oatmeal cookie recipes...and my husband Ron makes them the best! This picture was taken just minutes ago (so you KNOW what I'm chowing on right now). Enjoy!
Oatmeal Pecan Cookies
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour ½ teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon salt ¼ cup butter flavored Crisco ¼ cup butter ½ cup granulated sugar 1/3 cup packed brown sugar 1 egg 2 tablespoons half-and-half (or milk) ½ teaspoon vanilla 1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats ¼ cup chopped pecans
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. In mixer bowl beat shortening and butter for 30 seconds; add sugars and beat until fluffy. Add egg, half-and-half and vanilla; beat well. Add dry ingredients to beaten mixture, beating until well combined. Stir in oats and pecans. Chill dough in refrigerator for 2 hours (or put in the freezer, covered, for 25 minutes). Form 1-inch balls. Dip tops of balls in additional granulated sugar, if desired. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 9-11 minutes.
I've just finished watching this fantastic TED talk by sociologist Sam Richards, an iconclast from Ohio that David Horowitz called one of the 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. A professor at Penn State University, Professor Richards also heads up the World in Conversation Project which you can explore at this link.
After watching this 20 minute video, let me know what you thought about it in the comments section. If you're up for a challenge, provide some insights on how Professor Richard's idea of "walk in the other's shoes a few inches" form of empathy can be applied on a concrete, this-is-where-I-live basis.
Last year, I took an online course via DailyOm from creativity coach and psychologist Dr. Eric Maisel called Creative Anxiety. Fortunately, the wonderful folks at New World Library have published them all in the handy book Mastering Creative Anxiety. Here's an excerpt below, from the chapter titled The Anxiety of Individuality:
Creativity is an expression of individuality, an expression of a person’s desire to manifest her potential, to speak in her own voice, to have her opinions, and to do her own work. What distinguishes the creative person from other people is her felt sense of individuality. Many people are born conventional and find it easy to follow the crowd; only some people are born with a strong desire to assert their individuality. All the personality traits that creative manifest, from a risk-taking orientation to a need for solitude—the more than seventy-five traits that have been described in the creativity literature—flow from this single core quality: the need to assert individuality.
A person born individual will, within a few years of her birth, feel that difference as she looks around her and is unable to understand why the people she sees are acting so conventionally. As a result she is likely to feel alienated, out of place, like a stranger in a strange land. Even if she trains herself to hold her tongue and engage in conventional work, and individual of this sort will already know as a young child that she can’t really conform and that she wasn’t built to conform.
To purchase Mastering Creative Anxiety from Amazon, click here. To visit the author's website, click here. To visit the publisher's website, click here.
Feng Shui, and refers to the invisible life force that permeates all things. Sometimes, chi (also known as qi) moves too quickly, too slowly, or blocks entirely. This results in sha qi, or "bad energy". In Feng Shui, there are nine Celestial Cures that help you alter the flow of chi as it moves through your house, workplace, garden or even your body.
Introducing Feng Shui elements like the nine Celestial Cures can increase harmony in relationships, enhance business prosperity, promote health, and increase personal vibrancy and energy. Each of the nine Cures affects chi in different ways, and some of the strongest Cures perform more than one function.
The Nine Celestial Cures
Mirrors are considered the "aspirin" of the Feng Shui medicine bag. This category not only includes mirrors, but anything that reflects or shines light. This would include crystals, chandeliers, lamps, reflective surfaces, shiny ribbons, etc. These cures reflect energy into different directions. If you're feeling claustrophobic in your house or apartment, or lack a back door, if you hang up a mirror, it creates an artificial exit for chi. You'll notice how differently you feel (and how differently the space feels) when you hang up a mirror. If you take down the mirror, the area will feel instantly "closed off" again. Make sure the mirror is whole, though, as opposed to tiled or "fragmented". A chandelier is a powerful Cure because crystals absorb sha qi (bad energy), but also adds the dimension of light.
Have you ever noticed how Chinese restaurants have a large tank of goldfish? That's because it's a powerful Celestial Cure! I've also seen tanks in hospital waiting rooms, which is a great idea since goldfish helps calm nervousness. While any fish tank brings good fortune, curved, octagonal, or round bowls invite much better Feng Shui than angular bowls.
3. Household Pets
Researchers have found that pets lower blood pressure and stress, and increase feelings of well being. And it's no wonder--because pets of any kind are a wonderful Celestial Cure! No wonder many nursing homes, prisons, and hospitals are using animals as therapy. According to author and Feng Shui expert Selena Summers, door-to-door salesman report that homes with pets have a happier atmosphere than those who do not.
4. Harmonious Sounds
This Celestial Cure includes wind chimes, bubbling fountains, birdsong, tinkling bells, running water, and buzzing insects. Adding a birdbath and bird feeders to your yard or garden will invite birds to your dwelling--resulting in more birds that will sing and beautify your environment. Many stores now sell electric water fountains. For Christmas, my husband bought me electronic metal chimes; a fan blows from the bottom, moving through the hollow chimes and creating beautiful tinkling sounds. Chimes create harmonious sounds and movement which makes it a powerful Cure. Also, the word "Feng" means wind, so this additional element of "cosmic breath", or spirit, adds yet another powerful dimension to chimes.
Adding color to a room is a great way to get rid of bad energy. The color white is associated with death and mourning and drains energy, so it's better to pick colors like cream or antique white if you want a neutral color. Also, pale pastels make for the best Feng Shui for home interiors. In colder climates, you may prefer warmer pastels like peach, lemon, or pink. In warmer climates, you may prefer cooler pastels like lavendar, powder blue, or seafoam green. If you really want to use white, however, you can always add splashes of bright red.
6. Plants and Flowers
I've noticed that since I've added plants like jade to my office/library area, it feels more "alive". That's because plants and flowers are a Celestial Cure. Scientists from NASA have confirmed that plants remove toxins and pollutants from interiors. (Isn't it neat how science continues to confirm age-old wisdom?) According to Summers, spider plants absorb "electric" smog from computers and office machinery. She also says that when setting up a Prosperity Plant, round-leaf plants like jade or maranta make great choices. Pointy-leaf plants like azaleas, however, tend to repel luck. Dried flowers bring an aura of death and is not considered good Feng Shui, and plastic flowers also increase sha qi because they are not made from natural fibers. You can neutralize bad energy from dried plants or flowers by putting it in a crystal vase. Silk flowers are good Feng Shui because silk is a revered natural fiber, connecting with the idea of eternal life.
7. Moving Items
This Cure refers to anything that moves, such as overhead fans, rotary doors, weather vanes, mobiles, fountains, moving lights, whirlygigs, and even grandfather clocks. The gentle movement of the pendulum in a grandfather clock creates chi. Have you ever been to a Chinese restaurant that has chimes on the door? Chimes move, and they also provide harmonious sounds, making it doubly powerful as a Feng Shui Cure.
I have several decorative chimes in my office/library, and although no wind blows strong enough to make harmonious sounds, they do gently sway and rotate, so I still get the benefit of movement. A few years ago, my husband made a neat mobile out of clothes hangers. He straightened up the wire, made a snow flake pattern out of the "spokes", and then covered it with narrow, shiny gold Christmas tree garland. We were going to hang gold sun, moon, and star ornaments on it, but never found them again in the store. This mobile gently rotates because of the natural air circulation. It's not only beautiful to look at, but it reflects light and creates movement, which incorporates two of the Celestial Cures.
8. Heavy Objects
Sometimes, chi moves too quickly in a space. This can be especially true if there is a long hallway where chi can rush through. Statues, wooden screens, stones, and sculptures can all help with blocking or re-directing chi that moves too quickly. If a door is much too wide for a room, you can place a statue on either side of the door to slow down the chi.
9. Musical Instruments
It is believed that flutes carry more power than any other musical intrument because of their hollow shape and their spiritual significance. Bamboo flutes are one of the oldest musical instruments known, as well as those made of bird bones or reeds. Fans are also considered a musical instrument, because when you open one, you hear a soft shhhh sound. In fact, some ancient manuscripts consider the fan a wind instrument! Nowadays, you can get flutes made out of crystal, precious metals, glass, and so on. Two flutes are better than one, but if you're hanging them up for good luck, make sure the mouthpieces point downward. You can tie shiny red ribbons on them for extra luck. You can use flutes as paperweights, set them on tables, and use them as decorative objects.
A 10th Celestial Cure?
According to author Summers, modern Feng Shui practitioners use electric items such as computers, radio, and TV sets to help with chi. Surprised? Well, have you ever walked into a room that seemed lifeless--empty? What happens when you turn on the radio or the computer? The atmosphere of the room changes because electronics create energy. (But if you feel too overwhelmed by chi, you can always filter it out with a spider plant!)
Some of the above information was gleaned from the wonderful book Feng Shui in 5 Minutes by Selena Summers. I highly recommend this book if you want to increase harmony and prosperity in your home, business and life. Click here to order your copy from Amazon.com.
I'm reading a gentle, yet powerful, book about spiritual awakening calld The Message: A Guide to Being Human by L.D. Thompson. In the spirit of a daily devotional (although not numbered or dated as such), the author offers gentle reminders of the "dream" of reality, our soul's curriculum, personal knowing and spiritual values. I'm delighted to bring you the following excerpt fro The Message as my Book Gems #4:
You believe that you were conceived and born, and that you were a baby who grew into an adult. You have the photographs and the bronzed baby shoes to prove it. Yet that is not what occurred. Furthermore, when it comes time for you to leave this reality and move to the next, you will not wither and die. These are games that your mind plays, because your mind is designed to build continuity, a story. It is designed to connect the dots, so to speak.
Between each of the events that occurs in your life—your journey from home to office, moving from one city to the next, or accomplishing a goal—your mind makes up a continual story thread, with a beginning, middle, and end. Your mind fits the story into the illusion of time.
This dream of life has laws, rules, and guidelines that have evolved. You have been a part of the process of evolving the rules. Though you experience yourself as subject to the rules, they are really subject to you. In order for you to harness the power of your dream, you must grasp this idea: Though you experience your life here as a continuity that fits very neatly into the confines of time and space, this experience is utter illusion.
To order The Message from Amazon, click here. To find out more about author L.D. Thompson, click here. To visit Divine Arts Media, the publisher's website, click here.
Our Noah was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Development Disorder - Not Otherwise Specified...another term for We don't know how/why you're son is fucked up and, oh, by the way, there's no cure) when he was 3 years old. Come to think of it, it was right before 9/11. Shit, a Tower year, indeed (for you Tarot folks).
We, he, has come a very long way. In fact, the stinker just brought us both a cup of coffee! *takes a sip* He's now entering adolescence. He's 12.5 and his voice is changing. When he laughs, it's so hearty, I call it the Adolescent Foghorn. (And we do laugh a lot around here. Now, anyway.)
I'm not going to give you a sob story or relate my ordeal. I have the T shirt (an anxiety disorder!) and I sure as hell don't want your pity. God forbid if I used Woundology(to use a phrase from Caroline Myss) to trade for your readership, support, friendship or patronage, right? (I'm kidding! Don't look so serious. Yes, I can see you through my magic crystal ball.)
So, anyway, just wanted to share that Autism touches lives in a very deep way. Sometimes, that touch can cause social ostracization, guilt, anxiety, depression or worse. Did you know, for example, that 1 out of 70 boys are diagnosed on the Autism spectrum? That's a fucking epidemic if I ever heard of one. More than Cancer, AIDS and Diabetes COMBINED, in fact.
I'm thankful Noah has come such a long way. He's articulate, bright, creative, hilarious, happy, optimistic, compassionate, helpful and diligent in his studies. Oh, yeah, I homeschool him. Forgot to mention that. When I witnessed a teacher shaking him in pre-school (I was across the room helping other children as a volunteer)--and then lied to my face when she caught me staring (she said he "fell")--I knew that my first instinct to homeschool any children I had was right.
We've endured the stares of people and other parents. The tsk tsk of uptight super-Moms and snotty restaurant patrons (and staff). Thank God all that is now over and we can now eat, shop and watch movies in public. And, thanks to the magic of modern medicine, I no longer have panic attacks, constant diarrhea and debilitating anxiety (thanks Lexapro!).
Unfortunately, there's no magic pill for Autism, though. (In fact just a little while ago, Noah asked me if there was a pill for it).
I have spiritual tools that have gotten me through Autism (click here to know one of my secrets). No wait. More than gotten me through. Empowered me to not see myself as a victim, but as a co-creator of my experience. As an opportunity to be a more expansive, patient, compassionate, strong, graceful, resourceful human being.
Am I perfect? Uh, no.
At home--as a wife and mother--I practically am. I recognize that (no, I'm not kidding on this one. It's what they tell me, too). But, that means my imperfection probably shows up more online. Attitude? In spades. Bluntness? I don't time for your bullshit. Honesty? Honey, after what I've been through, I don't have the time or patience to sugarcoat the truth or kiss your ass so you'll like me, buy my books, call me "sugar" or "cupcake" on Twitter, or let me into your special "town" or "guild".
You wanna block me on Twitter or call me a bitch? Go right ahead. That ain't nothing, homey. "fist bump"
So. Here we are. Thanks for staying with me this long, dear reader. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them, OK? I promise I don't bite. (Well...let's just say I won't bite commenters on my blog.)
To know more about Autism, including signs, visual symptoms, diagnosis, care, transition and resources, please visit Autism Speaks.
I've produced yet another eBook called Tarot Court Cards Revealed and this one has two free goodies attached to the deal (including a 2-hour mp3 live class). Read on, my faithful readers...
Arguably, the most difficult cards of the Tarot to understand, interpret and apply in a reading are the sixteen Court Cards (most commonly named Page, Knight, Queen and King). The good news is that I have created an easy-to-use system that will not only help you remember the approaches of these "people cards", but also create your own fresh, accurate interpretations for each one.
The first thing you need to do, though, is to discard the whole notion of gender with the Court Cards. Each of the Court Cards is an approach to a situation, relationship or life itself, which includes strengths and drawbacks. In a Tarot reading, it is possible that a Court Card can refer to an actual person that resembles the image on the card or reflects the gender.
However, my approach to understanding the Tarot Court Cards is dynamic, modern and relevant. Thus, hair, eye and skin color won't be considerations in this eBook.
Instead, I'll show you a fool-proof system for quickly, and accurately, interpreting a Tarot Court Card when it comes up in a reading with my exciting, accessible keyword approach in Tarot Court Cards Revealed. Best of all? No Tarot deck necessary!
When you order this eBook, you get four FREE worksheets plus a 2-hour audio class on the Court Cards...simply by following the instructions in Tarot Court Cards Revealed.
To order Tarot Court Cards Revealed for Kindle, click here. To order directly from me in case you don't have a Kindle (it will be sent to you via email), click here.
Court cards on the cover illustration are from the Hezicos Tarot by Mary Griffin, used by permission. To get your copy of this beautiful, innovative deck, visit HezicosTarot.com
For Tarot readers, this eBook is a goldmine for helping client's figure out a job path for a career reading or possible educational choices for college students.
In case you find yourself performing a career reading for a client, or perhaps are searching for a suitable occupation for your novel's protagonist, this Occupations in the Tarot eBook will provide you with hundreds of possible job, role and vocational associations for each of the 78 cards of the Tarot.
Some are tongue-in-cheek, but most are connected to Rider-Waite card imagery, esoteric attributions and twists on traditional interpretations. (For example, the choice for "Furniture Reupholsterer" for The Devil connects with the esoteric mode of consciousness Renewing Intelligence from The Tarot: A Key to the Wisdom of the Ages by Paul Foster Case.)
Click here to have Occupations in the Tarot: A Guide for Readers and Fiction Writers delivered to you in seconds via Kindle. Click here to order directly from my website.
The following is a fascinating Question and Answer session with author Lynne McTaggart about her newest book The Bond (published by Free Press). I loved her groundbreaking book The Intention Experiment (which was featured in The Lost Symbol), and this book looks to be just as awe-inspiring (I received it a few weeks ago and I'm already blown away by some of the things I'm reading in The Bond!).
1. What is the Bond?
An entirely new scientific story is emerging that challenges our most basic premise: the sense of things as separate entities in competition for survival. Frontier biologists, physicists, psychologists and sociologists have all found evidence that individuals are far less individual than we thought they were. Between the smallest particles of our being, between our bodies and their environments, between ourselves and all of the people with whom we are in contact, between every member of every societal cluster, there is a Bond--a connection so integral and profound that there is no longer a clear demarcation between the end of one thing and the beginning of another. The world essentially operates, not through the activity of individual things, but in the connection between them--in a sense, within the space between things.
2. Why have the crises we now face in many areas of life--from the economy to politics, to the environment--resulted from acting against nature?
The latest evidence from many areas of science suggests that nature’s most basic drive is not competition, as is maintained in classic evolutionary theory, but wholeness. All living things, including human beings, have been hardwired to seek connection virtually above any other impulse--even at personal cost--and they succeed and prosper only when they see themselves as part of a greater whole.
Nevertheless, our current paradigm, as provided us by traditional science, maintains a view of the universe as a place of scarcity populated by separate things that must turn against each other in order to survive. The crises we face today have occurred precisely because the lives we’ve chosen to lead are not consistent with our truest nature as givers and sharers. Every conflict that occurs--whether between husband and wife, social or racial groups, or even nations--is resolved only when we can fully see and embrace the space between us.
3. Why do you believe there is such a thing as "survival of the fairest"?
Our biological success story has more to do with our ability to share and empathize than just adapting to our environment – and we even have a "fairness spot" hard-wired into our brain.
The extent to which a society is fair also determines how successful it is. Epidemiologists studying Western countries have discovered that the more unfair any society--which is to say, economically unfair and hierarchical--the worse off everyone is, both rich and poor, in terms of virtually every social problem. In countries with giant income disparity between the very rich and the very poor, both the most affluent and the very poorest suffer from higher rates of ill health, higher crime rates, mental illness, environmental problems, and violence. Although one of the wealthiest countries in the world with half the world’s billionaires, America has far and away the highest level of all social problems--crime, lack of education, mental illness, suicide, disease of all varieties--of twenty countries.
4. How does a slight shift of perception radically transform our relationships?
Every conflict that occurs--whether between husband and wife, social or racial groups, or even nations--is resolved only when we can fully see and embrace the other’s point of view. The key to a successful relationship is to conceive of the relationship itself as a "thing in itself" and to focus on the "space in between"--the glue that holds it together. Once we view ourselves as a part of a bigger whole, we begin to act differently toward each other. By removing a self-serving aim from the relationship, we stop fighting nature and surrender to our natural impulse toward holism. We can easily embrace difference within that larger definition of connection.
5. What can we learn from the South Africa’s rugby and Oxford’s rowing teams, the Chilean Miners and a community water pipeline about creating a new and vibrant neighborhood?
All these groups made use of what psychologists call a "superordinate" goal--a goal only achieved by large cooperative teamwork of two or more people. Engaging in sharing and teamwork tends to transcend differences, because it emphasizes the very heart of humanity--we are all in this together. And if we are all in this together we are no longer competing for scarce resources. For instance, South Africa’s entry into the World Cup rugby play-offs in 1995, depicted in the film Invictus, was designed as a means of creating nation-building euphoria, in order to unify a country emerging from apartheid. Creating a common identity and working together for a superordinate goal also was crucial to the survival of the Chilean miners.
People who fire together wire together; the individual brain waves begin resonating in tandem with others when people work together for a common goal; a study of the Oxford rowing team found that they had greater pain tolerance when rowing together than when rowing individually. When we do things in groups, the rush of “we’re-all-in-this-together” elation that we feel actually allows us to resist difficulties, including pain.
6. Why is the Bond so crucial today? How can we survive and thrive in our world, with all of the crises and problems now facing us?
For hundreds of years we have followed a false trail of individual satisfaction as our primary motivation, at great cost. As individualism rises, the indices of every major aspect of life satisfaction, from health care and education to life span and urban safety, fall further among every member of the population, rich and poor. We create further economic crises, further political struggle, more conflict, more calamitous ecological disaster. We erect higher and higher walls between ourselves and the rest of the world.
We are one of the most important generations in the history of humanity. With all the calamities in our midst, our choices will affect our children’s children – and indeed the world for all time. We can continue to operate against nature, and connect less and less with what we regard as other than ourselves. Or, we can embrace the opposite impulse, our natural drive to seek wholeness and connection, which will enable us to survive and thrive, as it has in the past.
7. We all have strong views about how to "fix" America. What can just one person do to create a more cohesive and thriving community?
We must look at our lives from a larger vantage point, so that we see the whole that ties us all together in every aspect of our daily lives. This involves perceive the world differently, relating to others differently, organizing ourselves--our friendships and neighborhoods, our towns and cities--differently, and also looking to a larger purpose in life than living for ourselves alone. It also involves creating a larger definition of "we".
But each of us can also start small, with tiny daily acts of kindness, generosity and tolerance. Scientists have shown that just a few instigators can transform an entire climate of greed and individualism to one of generosity and giving. Giving creates a contagion of giving, a network of “pay-it-forward” altruism. For instance, one act of kindness spreads virally at least three degrees along a network, affecting your friends, your friends’ friends and your friends’ friends’ friends.
The other idea is to use a superordinate goal to unify your neighborhood. For instance, a small band of inhabitants of Portland, Oregon, completely revitalized their home city by banding into a group, The Riverfront for People, and holding a protest of the widening of the riverside roadway. After two years of discussions, the Riverfront for People prevailed. Harbor Drive was demolished, Tom McColl Waterfront Park was created, and Portland still remains a model of accessible and friendly urban life. More importantly, at a time when social capital is increasingly absent in the United States, Portland’s citizenry continue to be the most connected and activist in America.
Just because the title includes the word "nonfiction" doesn't mean Ensouling Language isn't applicable for any writer wanting to mine the deepest, most authentic raw self to put on the page. Here's a compelling excerpt from this hefty 464-page book (that's worth every penny):
The craft must always spring from who you are and the meanings that are important to you. The only thing that you ultimately have to give is your experience of your own life, your essential individuality…
Your writing will only mean something to the readers who buy your work if it means something to you. Your passions, your commitment, must course like blood through the body of your words. Then, truly, the writing will stir, rise, open its eyes. And the more you fill your writing with the meanings that come from deepest in yourself, the more it will impact your readers. That is why, if the work is good, you will always feel afraid as you write it. For you are exposing some deep part of yourself to outside view. You are allowing yourself to be naked inside the work. And one of the difficulties with this is that you know it, you feel it.
"Get comfortable and relax. This will not take very long at all, I promise. For one very simple reason. If you are reading this then you are more than likely a 'cat person' or a pagan, or even both! Therefore, there is little need for explanation, for this deck is as simple as it is delightful. But make no mistake! Simple does not always mean stupid or shallow or useless. Even thought [sic] I wanted a lighthearted and delightful deck, I also insisted that it be practical and easy to use for readings." - Magdelina Messina (pseudonym for Barbara Moore)
From white Persians to black shorthairs, orange tabbies to the "hairless" Sphynx, the Tarot of Pagan Cats shows these common, yet often enigmatic, fur friends in all their glory.
Inquisitive, playful, fierce, sleepy, indifferent, affectionate--just like the range of emotion and states reflected in traditional Tarot cards, the cats in this deck also portray the joys, sorrows, triumphs and hardships that beset humans.
Placed among a variety of settings--both indoor and out--with feline coats illustrated in a variety of colors, the Tarot of Pagan Cats is largely modeled after the Rider-Waite style decks, but with enough whimsy and inventive depictions to feel fresh and offer surprises.
For example, a fearless calico leaps sideways from the top of drapes, ready to pounce on the unsuspecting mouse below--and we get to see him right at the beginning of his long jump. On the kaleidoscopic Temperance card, a compassionate, collared white cat pours a goldfish out of a confining glass bowl, into an impressionistic stream reflecting the rainbow above.
In the Six of Wands, a wild-eyed, leaf-crowned cat leaps upon a rat while more than a dozen cats look on--cleverly suggesting that for every "winner" there is a "loser"...and that "winning" may be as much a rite of passage or requirement for group respect as it is the result of personal ambition.
Measuring approximately 4 ¾ x 2 ½ inches and framed with an adorable cream paw print border, the Tarot of Pagan Cats follows RWS Major Arcana names. The suits are Chalices, Pentacles, Swords and Wands, with the Knaves, Knights, Queens and Kings Court designation (although the LWB calls the Knaves "Pages"). The LWB offers basic upright and reversed card interpretations, but Barbara Moore does a great job with the meanings.
Over the last month, I've used the Tarot of Pagan Cats for several important readings and each time, they've been spot on (departing from my usual use for the cards, I used this deck twice for personal prediction on a business matter and each time, the one-card reading literally "spoke" an answer that turned out to be 100% correct). I've also used it for client readings and relationship matters (one, highly charged emotionally) and, again, both times the messages were clear and correct (and the latter, extremely comforting and insightful).
So even if you don't consider yourself a "cat person" you may very well find that this deck has a lot to say in a reading or for contemplation. I love cats (well, all animals, really) and happen to own two fur-babies, so I'm more than comfortable with the Tarot of Pagan Cats imagery. And I'm not a Pagan, either, so don't let the title of this deck discourage you (as far as I can see, the "pagan" part is mostly the strategic use of elemental glyphs and symbols, which most Tarot users are familiar with anyway).
The Devil card is a bit creepy with its strange hybrid cat/rabbit creatures (WHAT is that green thing in one of the cats' mouth?), and there are a few cards that show the predatory nature of felines and terrified cats, so I'm not sure if this is a 100% kid-safe deck. However, the Tarot of Pagan Cats would make a wonderful deck for youth 12 and up, as well as adults that are looking to add a cute, yet dependable, RWS-style deck to their toolkit.
One of my favorite cards is the 7 of Chalices: a sleeping gray tabby dreams of seven golden goblets, filled with a white cat, a mouse, catnip, a bowl of cream, a goldfish, a ball of yarn and a comfy cushion. Too sweet! But yet, look at the truth in that card: does he follow his instinct to kill, or does he chase a beguiling cat, indulge, eat, play or just sleep? We have similar dilemmas as humans (on a grander scale, of course!).
I keep the Tarot of Pagan Cats close by--I find myself reaching for this deck the most these days--and it's become a staple in my personal and client readings. Recommended!
Shakespeare has changed your life, even if you've never read him or seen one of his plays. When I was a professor teaching Intro to Shakespeare, I started telling the stories in this book to impress other students the vital importance of his plays to their lives. To people largely unfamiliar with his genius, the name Shakespeare can produce a vague impression of British stuffiness, of Cambridge dons in tweed and Wednesday matinees attended by school groups in rose gardens. The truth is that he belongs absolutely to our moment, to our experience. The word he created and inhabited is filthy and exalted, cheap and rarified, gorgeous and vile, full of confusion and sudden epiphany; in short as full and complicated as our own.
To order How Shakespeare Changed Everything from Amazon, click here. To visit Stephen Marche's website, click here. To visit the publisher's website, click here.
A new feature to my blog will be short and informative Did You Know? pieces. They may be bits of trivia, helpful shortcuts or time savers, or some quick tips for stress relief or boosting your overall well-being.
Today's Did You Know? is about shortening Facebook URLs (which comes in handy with Twitter's 140 character limit!).
Tarot cards, in themselves, are not holy, sacred, or special. They are paper! With pictures on them!
So why, then, is Tarot a powerful tool that engenders sacred and special moments—whether through a reading, contemplation, brainstorming, writing, painting or other endeavor?
It’s because of you. And me. And Spirit. Which, really, is just another name for the unifying All That Is.
If the vast store of cosmic symbols, archetypes and messages are available to you (and, arguably, already within you), then you are the special, sacred and holy one…not the cards.
After all, Tarot isn’t processed, embellished, deconstructed, synthesized and interpreted in a vacuum, right? No, there must be a witness, an observer, an ambassador…someone willing, and able, to tap in, decode and transmit the messages of Tarot.
Thus, you don’t need to sage your cards, light candles, bathe a deck in moonlight, spread out a silk cloth, get out the crystals…
Get the picture?
You are the hallowed component of the Tarot, as are all the wise ones who have grabbed the sacred symbols out of the Great Collective, packaged them into an accessible (albeit, mysterious) pack of cards and then actively sought to do something with them.
Dear readers: What do you think makes Tarot special or sacred? Why? Please share!
Wanting to whip me up something special for Mother’s Day last year (and inspired by a local restaurant's Italian Walnut Cake), Ron found this delicious recipe of White Chocolate Banana Cake. To call this dense cake scrumptious is an understatement! Although it takes a bit of work, it’s well-worth the effort…so if you’re looking for a special cake recipe for Mother’s Day, birthday, anniversary or family gathering, this is definitely one to put on the menu.
White Chocolate Banana Cake
½ cup shortening 2 cups sugar 2 eggs 1 ½ cups mashed ripe bananas (about 3) 3 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup buttermilk 4 squares (1 ounce each) white baking chocolate (melted and cooled)
CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
1 packages (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened ¾ cup butter, softened 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 5 cups confectioners’ sugar ½ cup (or more!) finely chopped pecans, toasted
In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Fold in melted chocolate.
Pour into three greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing cake from pans to wire racks to cool completely.
For frosting, in a large bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar. Spread between layers and over the top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with pecans. Store in refrigerator. Yields 12-16 servings.
Note: Ron and I LOVE toasted pecans, so we end up toasting a whole bag (about 2 cups) and sprinkle the nuts between layers, pat them around the sides and then on top. YUM!