Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ornament Thursday is Back!

We had such a good time that we're doing a monthly version of artistic expression until we get to December when we'll be posting all-things-ornamenty on Thursdays. So, this month is "Love Story." I was asked to do these two paintings for a skincare line created by a Bulgarian homeopathic acupuncturist. She wanted to include something of her Bulgarian heritage and asked me to use the Cyrillic alphabet. No problem! And she wanted to include the word love in the packaging. Except that the cyrillic version of love is...kinda ugly. She wanted a flower and she wanted 5 petals to represent the Chinese acupuncture five elements. So we settled on taking 3 letters and spelling out L-U-V. The center of the flower is the first letter, then the next letter in the center of each petal, and then each petal is the last letter.
I drew it out on paper and then primed each canvas board (8 X 10). I used graphite paper to trace the image onto the canvas and acrylic paints (mostly Americana from Michael's). I used sparkle varnish where it's sparkley and I used sparkley dimentional paint to outline the flower.
LINKS to other Ornament Gals:

Art Bead Scene The designers at Art Bead Scene have two jewelry love stories for you! Elaine Ray links together a little love with her ceramic heart components while Melanie Brooks Lukacs tells a little tale of romance in a Gothic Garden
Cindy Gimbrone Beads Cindy's Love Story is about a hook and beads
Earthenwood Studio Bead Blog What is sweeter than a mix CD for your Valentine? A yummy gift box in which to present it, filled with candy themed decorations, including a cute bracelet and cell phone charm!
Heart mobile painted paper pulp hearts
Humblebeads Heather shares her favorite bracelet design in a Valentine inspired color scheme.
Jennifer Heynen of Jangles Jennifer has made a fun "Ornament" for her neck that looks good enought to eat.
Joolz by Lisa This "Love Story" will last all year long! Lisa shares how beads and books work together.
Katie's Beading Blog Here's a happy little heart project for you - use it to embellish a bag or your jeans, or as inspiration for a necklace or bracelet.
Kriss Cramer - Art Interrupted Grow Love! Nuture and care for your loved ones every day. Use this heartfelt book, you can make yourself, to remind you of all the love you have to give.
Linda Augsburg at Make It Mine magazine Linda's love story project is a dress she embellished by stenciling dancers and a big band along the hem. Read why and learn how to do it yourself on the Make It Mine blog.
Michelle's Love Story... The band is getting back together again! Ornament Thursday celebrates the story of love...
Savvy Crafter Candie's love affair with big rings continue...she's making her own now! Love Stories and more over at the Savvy Crafter! XOXO!
Snap out of it, Jean! There's beading to be done! Ah, Love ! This satirical creation of Jean's immortalizes certain women's profound affecton for their ... handbags!!!
Strands of Beads Love speaks many languages. Learn how to say "I Love You" in an untraditional way with Melissa Lee's whimsical jewelry project.
SwellDesigner Alexa shares with you her truly swell and punny Valentines!
The Impatient Blogger Love is in the air at The Impatient Blogger! Margot shares two vintage inspired jewelry designs that are oozing with a good way!


This was going to be a lively discussion on the value of throwing caution to the wind and splitting a few infinitives and ending sentences with propositions-I-mean-prepositions. Come on, Mum. Live on the wild side! ;-) However, I love John's post today, and it's much more elegant than anything I can slap up here today. Here's a taste:

Many people misinterpret Self-Acceptance. You will know these people by this phrase, “That’s just the way I am.” No, that’s just the way your ego wants to stay.
True Self-Acceptance has you accept all the flaws, not justify them. When you start accepting the present and the reality it shows you, then and only then are you on the fast track to a strategy that opens the door to metamorphosis. You are on the pathway to a new you.

You may begin to become curious and read the whole thing. :-) H.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


I may have mentioned I live out in the wilderness. This is where City Folk come for vacations and retire. I'm on a back country road that snakes along the river and the last 7 miles of it is gravel-and-dirt. It ends at my driveway with a gate across it and a padlock. There are 5 houses back here, mostly part-time hunters & fishers. I'm the only gatherer. haha Except when I go fishin' with my pal Willie. This is a picture of him holding the 12-pound catfish that I caught last summer. When he told me I had to touch it...Eeeewww! So I took his picture. And yes, we release anything back to the river. The fish is toxic with mercury & I'm not about to eat Grandfather Catfish, anyway.
I make him chocolate truffles and he brings beer I don't drink. He's a retired salesman, but it wouldn't matter what his profession was, some people are just easy to be around. We laugh and talk about nothing in particular and have a good time. For Christmas I made him an ornament with pictures of the river and fishing. He made me a walking stick that he borrowed from the beavers who have set up a dam near our fishing hole. It's really cool--they stripped the bark and you can see their teeth marks. Anyway, he called last night and after spending all day on the phone, it was nice to laugh about everything and nothing in particular. Easy.
P.S. A $10 donation will help A Place to Bark win a $50,000 grant to help with their animal shelter. They get pointage for each donation, not dollar amount. Deadline is Jan. 31st. You can click here to contribute.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Labyrinth Insights

I walk my labyrinth everyday. The beauty of the labyrinth is that it enhances whatever intention you set. Once I got an upsetting phone call, so I walked my labyrinth and calmed down. Sometimes I'm feeling a bit lethargic, so I walk my labyrinth to feel more energetic. I walk it to have a restful sleep or to gain insights into a problem I'm having. Sometimes I just walk with no intention but to enjoy the walk; and that becomes a meditation in itself.

I was thinking about a friend-of-a-friend I don't even know. She's stuck in a pattern of destructive behaviour, unwilling to acknowledge a drinking problem. Deeper than the drinking that she thinks is under control and a secret from people around her, is the secret that prompts her to try to escape and anesthisize herself with alcohol. I don't know what that secret is specifically, but this is the insight I got about secrets:

We keep secrets about ourselves because we hold shame in that area. We hold onto shame because we are afraid of what other people would think if they knew that secret. I'm not suggesting that we broadcast the gory details of our lives to everyone everywhere. [side note here: I was in a rooming situation with 3 other people for a weekend retreat. The teacher told us to meet up in our rooms and figure out sleeping arrangements. One woman launched into a horrifying childhood story about why she was there and we were all just sitting there stunned. Yikes! I thought this was about who wanted to sleep by the window, I said.] There's an appropriate time and place and person to confide in.

The thing about shame is that it keeps you stuck in the past, being held in the darkness by past patterns and programming. What is the point in not feeling good about yourself? Who does that serve? Marianne Williamson says that we are powerful beyond measure, and it is our Light, not our darkness, that we are afraid of. When we shine the Light onto those shameful parts of ourselves, we find healing. We integrate those fragmented parts into ourselves and we become whole. We heal what we are willing to reveal.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Day of Rest

Growing up, Sunday was church day and Mum always said it was the Day of Rest. So we got to kick back and read and play. Except since it was also her Day of Rest, each of us sibs took turns cooking the Sunday family meal. As the first born, I got the first Sunday, my sister got the second, my brother got the third and so on. My brother made lasagna ONCE and then we just heard about it for the next decade. haha Anyway, Sunday is still my favourite day and today is extra-special because it's Mozart's Birthday. And mine.

Thanks everyone for your emails. They've been a mix of sorry-your-dog-died-and-happy-birthday. Miss Ruthie emailed me and said, "There was someone who once said, 'Until you love an animal your soul is not whole.' " So true. Pictured above are Barkley's puppies--SO SWEET!

And I'll leave you with last year's b-day message from XM Radio Guy:

Hope you have a wonderful day. I received this message from spirit and thought I would share it with you-

My Dearest Most Joyous One-

You are an idiot. I can't tell you how many times I have to cover your ass. Why can't you just live your life-buy some cars-eat out-take in a good movie? Why do you have to bother me so much? We created all of this so you could have some fun but you keep trying to peek behind the curtain-stop that. Enoy the illusion or I'll have a tree fall on you. So go play. None of this matters. Stop bothering me. You are in the physical realm for a purpose-to get out of my hair and do something on your own. So go do it. Love is all there is blah blah blah peace out.

I hope this message is just what you needed on this special day. Have a Happy Birthday.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

In Memory of Barkley

She used to smile. And she was v. kissy. I was at my dear Miss Ruthie's when I picked her out of a litter of 13 puppies when she was 3 weeks old. 5 weeks later she was my faithful companion, named after my favourite basketball player, Charles. I have always loved animals, but my previous association to dogs had been a scary childhood bite from a German shepherd. It was Miss Ruthie who loved me through to a new appreciation for rottweilers. I would visit and her Gretel would lie in my lap. We called Barkley a labweiler: half black lab, and half rottweiler. Gretel was her auntie, and I can't think of Barkley without also thinking of Miss Ruthie, who was my expert consultant on children and animals.

John says there are 2 kinds of people in the world: pet lovers, and people who don't get it. Dogs, in particular, put the un in unconditional. They love us through everything. I could leave the house and return five minutes later for something I forgot, and Barkley was at the door wagging her little nub as if I'd been gone all day. Who else gives you a greeting like that? Every time, no matter what?

She was with me wherever I was and would settle in on my feet when I sat down. Or she would position her body under my feet so I would Reiki her. When she was pregnant with 10 puppies kicking and wagging, I would Reiki her belly and they would settle down and give her a break. On the first cold day of autumn, a couple months after she'd had her puppies, we went for a walk around the neighborhood. Ahead of us, in the middle of the road, was a grey ball of fur. Barkley took after it. A wild kitten was hissing and spitting at her from inside her grass clump fortress. I scooped it up in my scarf, thinking, I've got puppies to find homes for, and now a kitten, too. It was struggling to escape, but started purring as I Reikied her. Well, I guess you've found your home. When we got back to the house, Barkley lay down to nurse her. If her milk hadn't dried up, I'm sure she would have. [Miss Ruthie told a similar story about Gretel when she brought one of her lambs into the house to care for.] Barkley tended to everything else for me, tho. I had to dropper feed little Vixen and she'd be a gooey mess after her feedings. Barkley! Clean up time! And Barkley would trot over and lick her all clean.

Barkley & Vixen curled up by the fire.
Her life expectancy was 12 years. She was 15 and a half, and outlived her own mother by almost 8 years. In her later years, her hips bacame a bit arthritic. I had her on Nutriwest suppliments and Dr. Brimhall kindly sent me laser codes to laser her, noting that she was 98 in dog years, at the time. In the last year, she was on conventional meds. My vet had given her some sort of lubricating shot, and when we got home, Barkley ran up a hill. In fact, she was acting much more agile these past few weeks. Knoxville Radio Guy told me that dogs won't act sick because they are pack animals and pack animals leave the weak & sick behind. So you don't know that they're seriously sick til the end.
Barkley getting lasered.

In the past 2 weeks, I've done quite a bit of traveling. Barkley & Remi stayed with my friends Lena & Gareth, at the Mystic Pet Resort & Spa. When I first moved to Virginia, I was concerned about where I could take my dogs if I needed to travel. Any worries, doubts, or fears washed away with my first visit. Lena & Gareth treat all their guest animals as their own. In fact, they have ended up inheriting a few dogs when their owners have passed away.

I won't give the details of the last week. She went downhill v. fast. I am SO GRATEFUL to Lena & Gareth who cared for her, and to Dr. Clark who called everyday to check on her. I knew when I was driving to pick her up that she wouldn't be coming back home with me. I took her to Dr. Clark and we sat on the floor together. Her head lay on my leg as we said goodbye.

I remember her smiles and how she used to woof in her sleep and twitch her feet like she was running. Catch the squirrel, Barkley! Go get it! I used to whisper. This is the thing about having a pet; we know we will outlive them and yet how can you not love them with all of your heart? And when they leave us, the love is still there. For all of you who knew Barkley, you know how special she was. And for all of you who didn't, now you do.

P.S. Margot is spreading the word to help out A Place To Bark, a no-kill animal shelter. For a $10 donation, you can help them win a $50,000 grant. They get pointage for each donation, not dollar amount. Deadline is Jan. 31st. You can click here to contribute.

Friday, January 25, 2008


A technique I learned in hypnobirthing and something that John uses in his seminars is something called a "lemon convincer strategy." It goes something like this: Imagine that you're in a kitchen and there's a bowl of fresh lemons. You take one and place it on a chopping board and slice it open. You smell that lemony fragrance as it wafts up to your nose and permeates the room. You pick up the lemon and open your mouth . . . that's right . . . and squeeze in a mouthful of juice.

Can you taste it? Is your mouth watering? The point of the exercise is to illustrate how powerful your imagination is. The brain doesn't know the difference between what is real and not. Experience is experience. It reminds me of a story that Eric Jensen told in his 6-day Brain-based Learning seminar. There were some people stranded in a boat with no food and little water. When they were rescued 2 weeks later, all the people were dehydrated and had lost a lot of weight. Except for one guy. At first they thought that he had somehow had supplies that he didn't share with the others. This was not the case. What he did everyday was imagine that he was preparing and cooking 3 meals a day, just as he would in real life. He did it in real time. So he would imagine he was chopping carrots for soup and went through the whole process until he sat down at the dinner table, where he imagined he ate a full meal.

When I first heard that story I thought, Wow! I wonder if that would work for exercise!"
Perhaps that will be my next CD--The Virtual Workout. hahaha

John says, "Imagination is the force of creation." He said he's quoting someone else, but I don't remember who. It's gotten me curious about how to use my imagination more constructively. Napoleon Hill says in Think and Grow Rich, "What the mind can perceive, it can achieve."

If we can imagine it, we can create it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

On the Road Again

Just enough time to say I've no time to write anything profound. I'm heading out for a day of travel and will be with John Morgan this week for another seminar. Back on Friday-ish. After that, I'm not going anywhere until the Spring Thaw. In the meantime, here's a quote from John's blog yesterday--he's so quotable. :-)

“You can have what you want or your reasons why not.”

Monday, January 21, 2008

Fall Apart and Leave the Pieces Behind

I like to think of myself as a positive person. I’m a look-on-the-bright-side kinda gal, sometimes to my detriment. I make lemonade out of lemons when perhaps I should find a different fruit. To me, the glass is half full, but as Larry Winget points out, it’s more important what’s in that glass. It doesn’t much matter if it’s half full or half empty when it’s a glassful of urine.

A couple years ago, I promised myself that I was going to start telling the truth. The Truth. It wasn’t about anyone else, it was about acknowledging what was in my heart, if only to myself. It was a promise that shook up my life because when you acknowledge the truth of your being, you are listening to your soul. And once you start listening to your soul, things that are no longer appropriate in your life, fall away. Kind of like an old hairstyle or the day glo socks from the ‘80’s that you would never wear again.

I have spent the past 8 months in contemplation. My life was sorely out of balance and I didn’t know what else to do but to remove myself from the environment I was in and look for peace in the stillness of the country. Funny thing about that: Wherever you go, you take *you* with you. And removing distractions only puts the real issues under the magnifying glass. Socrates said, Know thyself. What happens when the you that you thought you knew is not at all who you really are? John says, Who you are is someone you made up and got comfortable with. Dave Dobson likes to say, Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. Most people will postpone their lives indefinitely to stay comfortable. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t, as the saying goes.

“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom. ~ Anais Nin

John has remarked that most women are leading lives of dissatisfaction, and awaken to that realization somewhere between the ages of 35-50. And then they fall apart. They wake up one morning and ask, Is this IT? I can attest that it was a question I asked myself. Did God really put me on the planet for THIS??? One day I confided to a friend that I was asking these dangerous questions. She said, They’re dangerous because you’re playing with fire and fire burns away to the truth. That it does. And the truth was that I woke up with the desperate desire to live a conscious life by design. Not out of habit or patterns. I wanted the joy I felt in my meditations to translate into the rest of my life. And it wasn’t. It was helping me to cope and it was helping me to continue on down an inevitable path of self-doubt.

The falling-apart part is the letting go of old patterns; patterns of thinking, patterns of behaving, patterns of responding or reacting. The pieces chip away like a sculpture, to reveal the Authentic Self, that part of our being that Sarah Ban Breathnach so eloquently describes in her books. The Authentic Self who doesn’t bow down to social convention or other people’s opinions. The Self that says, “Do this, go that way,” when logic would dictate otherwise because the Authentic Self cares nothing of common sense. It is the intellect that needs to have an explanation or reason before taking action. The Authentic Self is a leap of Faith. Trouble is, I have been trying to keep one foot behind on solid ground and we all know that you can’t make a leap like that. A leap doesn’t come in steps.

It reminds me of the story of a person standing at the edge of a cliff with an angel.
The angel says, “Come to the edge.”
She says, “But I’m afraid.”
“Come to the edge.”
And she says, “I can’t."
So the angel pushes her.
She flies.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” ~Martin Luther King

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Day of Rest

"Live simply and take life more easily. Happiness lies in giving yourself time to think and to introspect. Be alone once in a while, and remain more in silence."
~Paramahasa Yogananda

Thursday, January 17, 2008

LOVE from the Road

I've been traveling with John Morgan this week in WV for his seminars. I was walking down to breakfast in our hotel and there was a sleepy man making his way back to his room holding a danish and coffee. For a moment I saw him as a little boy shuffling into the kitchen in crumpled jammies and his mother asking him if he wanted jelly on his toast. What a sweet little boy you were, I thought as I passed him. And here he is, middle-aged. How quickly life happens.

I have a dear friend whose mother has passed away. Even though it was expected after an illness, and she has a v. strong spiritual foundation, there's something so permanent about death. It's inevitable, we're all going to do it one day. Still. It makes me think about the intangibles and the lovelies and the sweetnesses. Someone once said that you don't lose anyone or anything, they are being returned to where they came from. From that perspective, all we can really say is thank you for however much time we were given for the priviledge of having them in our lives.

A couple years ago I was waiting for a friend on a bench outside the tea room in Shepherdstown. It was a perfect spring day; clear and sunny but not too warm. At the time I was reading Bruce Lipton's Biology of Belief. He was explaining how our souls are broadcasting a signal like a TV station, and our bodies are like a TV. When the TV dies, we are still broadcasting our signal, we just don't have the physical vehicle to express it. As I was reading this, I thought about my friend Dar who had cancer, and whom I just adored. Just then a breeze blew through the pear tree above me, and showered me with pear blossoms. It was the most GLORIOUS sensation. So sweet. I felt a love for her wrap around me and time stopped and eternity was a second. But I knew. I knew she was going to die, and soon. That experience of absolute presence overwhelmed my grief and sadness. My heart was so full of gratitude for all that she meant to me and still does. Because after everything, what's left is the LOVE. And when we allow that to expand and fill our hearts, there is room for nothing else.

The picture above is from a hardware store across the street from where I stayed in Huntington. We get reminders everywhere. LOVE, :-) H.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Postless Week

I am out the door to be on tour with John Morgan Seminars. Back on the weekend with many blog-worthy tales to tell, I'm sure. :-) H.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day of Rest

In yoga, after a strenuous pose, there is always a return to stillness with a resting pose. I am grateful for this reminder. It is in those moments of stillness when Spirit speaks, and we feel connected to the wisdom of our souls.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


When I used to live in West Virginia, we would have masala chai at the Shaharazade Tea Room in Shepherdstown every Friday. We can have whole conversations speaking in nothing but Seinfeld references, The Simpsons, and of course Larry David. He has nicknames for everyone, something I've adopted for the purposes of this blog. I've heard stories about Art Chick, and 2 Names, and Chick-who-used-to-sit-next-to-me to name a few. I told him at his funeral or wedding, whichever comes first, we'll all have fun figuring out who is who in the Land of Bill Hutton.
Once he was at some psychic fair and Psychic Lady was going around the v. crowded room doing mini-reading for everyone. He was standing with his GF's cousin and she asked him, "Are you two getting married?" He said, "No." And she said, "Because I see two golden cups over your head."
Now. There's always the point in XM Radio Guy's day, where he's at the crossroad. He can go down the Serious Road, or the Get-the-Laugh Road. He takes the road less traveled:
How big are her cups? he asks. THUD. No laughs. Which he has no problem with because it makes for an even funnier story. I got nothin,' he'll say.
Some people might think he's a smart ass--and they would be right. But he also has a v. zen-Buddha softer side. I had a bag of Indian dresses to give to someone after we had tea one day. We walked to her house and she opened the door crying. CRYING. I didn't really know her all that well, but she let us in and I said, "I don't know what's going on but it looks like you might need a hug." And we chatted a bit and she calmed down. As we were leaving, we hugged again and XM Radio Guy says, "Come here, you." And as he's giving her a hug, I'm thinking, This is the Bill Hutton people don't get to see. The sweet, kind...
And then he said, "Just remember: No matter how bad things are, they can always get worse."
P.S. Listen to him tonight on the Lucy Channel, XM 54.

Friday, January 11, 2008


I’ve come to believe that there exists in the universe something I call “The Physics of The Quest” – a force of nature governed by laws as real as the laws gravity or momentum. And the rule of Quest Physics maybe goes like this: “If you are brave enough to leave behind everything familiar and comforting (which can be anything from your house to your bitter old resentments) and set out on a truth-seeking journey (either externally or internally), and if you are truly willing to regard everything that happens to you on that journey as a clue, and if you accept everyone you meet along the way as a teacher, and if you are prepared – most of all – to face (and forgive) some very difficult realities about yourself….then truth will not be withheld from you.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert

Thursday, January 10, 2008


I was on my way to Hagerstown for the John Morgan Seminars when John called me and told me that he’d received an email from some woman claiming to be psychic. His name had magically appeared in her meditation that morning. He said, “So she’s coming to the seminar and I told her she could talk to you.”

I knew it was her when she approached the registration table—not a smoker, not a candidate for weightloss. Beyond that, she had that…glow. She’d been to a past-life regressionist two months ago and it opened a floodgate of intuition for her. It’s kind of like being given some gadget and not getting the instruction manual. Or wanting a gentle rain and getting a hurricane. Or being on dial-up and...well, you get the idea.

She drove two hours to get there expecting to see John. [Yeah, I know. If she’s that psychic, wouldn’t she know he wasn’t there?] She said, “I don’t know why I’m here. His name came to me in my meditation, I’d never heard of him, I had to look him up on the internet.” I’m standing there looking at her. Beyond her earnest searching, there is a core presence of Light. We all have it, some of us just shine more brightly. I said, “I know why you’re here. To meet me. But really, not me, because I’m going to introduce you to my friend Alaria.”

Alaria was sitting on a couch a few feet away. She’s a fellow hypnobirther, Reiki Master and Ericksonian student of Doug O’Brien’s. She’s also going through Spirit School, founded by Christen McCormack, a dear friend and mentor in intuitive healing. I’ve never been through the program, but have known Christen for 20 years. Psychic Girl needs some support, some guidance, some tools.

So I introduced her to Alaria and they happily talked while I went back to the registration table. My work here is done. Another mentor in healing arts for me has been Susan Wisniewski—who coincidentally teaches for Spirit School and is starting another set of classes tomorrow. Susan has a phrase that she’s used for years:


She even made bumper stickers. It means follow your intuition. No matter if other people might think you’re a nutjob. You might not get a WHY until you do it. Do it anyway. When we put a prayer out into the universe, we can’t define how something is going to manifest in our lives. We can’t place limitations or perameters on how it shows up. Her prayer of I need help was answered. But what a labyrinth she went through to get there, huh?

Just as I was finishing up this post, I heard, "Turn around." I did and looked out the window to see this GLORIOUS sunrise. Thank you, Spirit. I'm a big fan of sunrises and one of my favourite things when I lived on the Chesapeake Bay was to watch the sun rise on the water. I miss that. Here in the valley, sunrises are different. And the sun doesn't actually appear over the mountain until after 8 a.m. But I am getting some beautiful colours, for which I'm v. grateful. Have a beautiful day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Venturing out...

I'll be venturing out into civilization today for John Morgan smoking cessation & weight-loss seminars in Hagerstown, MD. My friend Doug O'Brien is the hypnotherapist, so I'm looking FW to seeing him in action. He's v. funny and eloquent and Ericksonian. We first met years ago when we both staffed for Tony Robbins back when he was doing firewalks every weekend. I remember the last one we were at together back in the 90's. We were in Philadelphia and there were 14? 18? firewalk lanes, 1500 people, and we just shoved them all across the coals in 45 minutes because the fire dept. was threatening to shut us down. As they often did. So it went something like this:

Ready, Mary? Get in state, make your power move, & GO!
Cool-moss-cool-moss-cool-moss-cool-moss-cool-moss! OK, celebrate!

Ready-go-cool-moss-celebrate-next! Ready-go-cool-moss-celebrate-next!

"Cool moss" was what Tony told everyone to say as they were walking. Pretty cool, but not mossy. More...crunchy. Doug was at one lane & I was next to him and after participants were finished, staff could walk.

I looked over at Doug and said, "You gonna walk?" He said, "I dunno. Are you?" I said, "Eh. I have to take my shoes off." So in the end, we didn't. Funny how something so life-changing can become rather mundane...because it's integrated, perhaps. At the time, it was useful as a reference to prompt me to do things I might not have thought possible. If I can walk on fire, what else can I do that I didn't think I could? Good stuff.

I'm hoping to do the pop-in with a few friends along the way as I travel back through West VA. It's been a long time and there's never enough time to do everything and connect with everyone I want to see--but I will do my best!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Can you tell what this is?

When I saw this, it reminded me of neural pathways in the brain. It's actually a photo of a tree turned laterally. This is the kind of pathway you would see that would include learning that is now automatic, or a skill like riding a bike or tying your shoe, or a habit (good or bad). The more something is repeated, the more it is reinforced, and the faster reaction from stimulus to response.

Next week is Eric Jensen's Learning Brain Expo in San Francisco. Eric is a leader in the field of Brain-based Learning. I was supposed to be presenting at this, but will be on the road with John Morgan Seminars instead. Anyway, if you're a teacher or parent or person, you may want to check it out. It will be a fun-filled, super-packed conference with all-things-learning. While I'm not teaching in the classroom anymore, the training I received from Eric was invaluable. When you understand how the brain works, it gives a different perspective into behaviour, psychology, marketing, etc. AWESOME stuff!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Day of Rest

I woke up this morning saying, "God did not put me on the planet for this." The "this" could be any number of things. And then I heard:

God put you here to shine your light. How you do that is entirely up to you.

Oh. Could you be more specific?

You get to choose where, the circumstances, with whom and how brightly you shine.

Hehhh...This is where I put my cowgirl hat on and say, "Dang it! Dang that free will!" It's all very Conversations-with-God, don't you think? When you shine your light, the darkness disappears and Truth is revealed. And the Truth shall set you free.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tiddley Pum

Even tho this is my blog, I try to leave personal things and family members out since they don't ask to be in here. I'm especially careful about posting photos of children that aren't mine, and I only post ones that are vague where you couldn't pick them out in a line-up. And I have a photographer friend who said if you photograph a person from the back, you don't need a release. She takes pictures for istock, so it must be true!
Anyway, it's my niece's b-day this weekend, and this cute Winnie-the-Pooh outfit has been through the fam. It was a bit chilly that day and when my brother was looking for M's coat, Mum handed him this. Oh, great, Mum. Something easy to get her in and out of, said my brother. M's got quite the vocab and is terribly bright. On the other hand, I have video of her blowing spit-bubbles on my mother's window at Xmas time. Hilarious. If I get permission, perhaps I'll share it sometime. She's clutching on to what I would call her blankie, except she calls it "my tie dye." It goes everywhere with her. So sweet.

Friday, January 4, 2008

What Will People Think?

I was chatting with Mum last night and she had 3 back-to-back funerals to attend. On her way home, she said she was thinking she really should clean out her drawers and cupboards because if something happened to her, what would people think?

I suppose funerals lead one to such deep and profound contemplation.

Now, you have to know my mother. Her “mess” is another person’s “tidy” or “clean.” Growing up, “doing the dishes” meant essentially cleaning the whole kitchen. There was an invisible checklist beyond washing dishes: clear/clean table, clear/clean counters, scrub stove, sweep floor, clean out sink after washing dishes, empty strainer, rinse sponge & washcloth and place properly to dry, and take out trash. That’s a proper job. And if one of those things was missing, there was the Well. You haven’t done a proper job, then, have you? [Note: Read all Mum quotes with English accent—rather like Mary Poppins, who was also practically perfect in every way].

We were sitting having tea one day and she was musing to herself, “I really should clean out my gutters.” I can honestly say I have NEVER had that thought. Ever. Even if my gutters were sprouting trees.

Once I arrived at Mum’s while on my cell phone talking to John. There she was, up on the roof. “Mum. What are you doing on the roof?” And John says, “She’s on the roof? Of course she is. She’s your mother.” Cleaning gutters.

But at least this roof is one story. Her previous house was an old Victorian that she renovated from the basement up. Three stories. I called one day and left a message and when she called back, she blithely said, “Sorry I couldn’t get to the phone. I was up on the roof.” This was a few years ago, so she was only 68 at the time. I said, “Mum, what were you doing up on the roof?” And here it comes:

Well. I want to paint it. But it’s terribly dirty. So I had to take the vacuum

Woah-woah-woah! Vacuum?

Well. I tried sweeping it with a broom, but it just didn’t get it clean enough. And I cAHn't paint dirt. But the vaccuum worked quite nicely.

So this is why it’s v. amusing to me that she is worried about messy drawers. And of course we all have great fun at her expense doing various imitations. Did you take a toothbrush and clean behind the picture frames? No? Well. You haven’t done a proper job then, have you? Did you take a Q-tip and clean around the knobby things on the blender? You get the idea. Some of my sibs are more obsessive than others. I listened to my sister musing the way Mum does as she said, “I really should get in there and clean out my pantry.” Ah, that’s a mother’s daughter. I, on the other hand, am prolly the only one that can leave dishes in the sink. Oops, out of tea cups, time to do the dishes. I’m kidding. No, I’m not. Yes, I am. Not really.

I am sure there are other Martha Stewarts out there who might be shocked-and-appalled that you might have a junk drawer. Oh, you're living on the wild side now. What will people think? That worries her, but roof vacuuming doesn't. Go figure.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

On the phone all daaaaaaay...

It's the busy season here at John Morgan Seminars. People are motivated to stop smoking and lose weight and I'm doing my best to make that happen by bringing a seminar to [insert your town here]. However, while my voice hasn't reached the raspiness of Rue Lalenska with all my yakkity-yak-on-the-phone (yet) it hasn't left me much time in Blog Land. And I still have a new year's newsletter to finish--preferably while the year is still new, right? Didn't I promise helpful relaxation tips and spa recipes? Mmmm...yeah, I could use some of those right about now.

So here's my quote-for-the-day from that great philosopher Denzel Washington & one of my favourite actors:

Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Blog Worthiness

Well. I did promise to post everyday--except the day is almost done. And I'm not feeling too terribly inspired. And I've got nothin' v. blog-worthy. Sorry. Is this where I start the Blogger's Cliche: sorry-I've-not-posted-lately....but I will spare you. And I'm sending you over to You Tube to watch v. cute puppies because how could you not SMILE when you see this? I'll be back tomorrow with something a bit...more. :-) H.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

My Weight Loss Story

In yesterday's post I promised more about my weight loss. One of my sisters, known in our family as The Tactless One, said to me at Xmas, "What have you lost? Like 60 pounds?" I don't know because I didn't weigh myself. I think it's about 40 or 50 pounds, but I hadn't been on a scale so I don't know what my start weight was and it's prolly more. I just went on pant size. So I started from the stretchy-XL's (size 18-ish, I think) and v. gradually moved down to size 10.

Here are the components to returning my body to balance:

When I was younger I took ballet, aerobics, etc. Then I became v. ill with debilitating migraines for a few years. It was a long road back to health and wellness. Thanks to getting Brimhalled, along with acupuncture from my husband, I am back among the living. However, during that time, I had stopped all activity because it was just exhausting. I walked my labyrinth, which was the extent of my exercise.

Lack of movement + hormonal imbalance + yummy cheesecake + STRESS = weight gain.

I was never a gym rat and even tho I had memberships, I never went. Yeah, I was one of those. Now you couldn't pay me to go to a gym: the noise, the bright lights, the sweaty people, the smells...Eeewww! But as Bruce Lipton says, Movement is life. So it was a matter of finding my kind of movement. And then I discovered YOGA. Like Columbus discovered America, but still. THANK GOD.

Have you ever met Yoga People? People used to assume I was into yoga years before I was because I meditate. But I never got the Yoga Thing--those people with their yoga mats on vacation. They get that LOOK when they talk about yoga--you know, the Yoga Trance.

And THEN I went to Yoga East. And I got it. I'm one of those people now! What I appreciate about yoga is that it goes beyond physical exercise and works on all levels of the body-mind-spirit. MY kinda exercise! I'm more flexible than I ever was even when I was dancing, I'm stronger and have more stamina. Yoga helped not just with the physical exercise part, but it REALLY helped with all the stress I was under at the time. I remember Sharon Cameron was leading a particular pose and as I was holding it, I was thinking, I love you SO MUCH. Um, except that I said it out loud. Oops. But it was so true. If you're ever on Kent Island in Maryland, GO! You will be WELCOMED with open arms by everyone there.

I continued listening to my CD every night with the intention of being conscious of what my body wants to eat, and how it wants to exercise. I focused on being healthy, vital, and energetic.

Whenever anyone asks about "diet," Dr. Brimhall recommends The Schwarzbein Principle. My chiro-friend Catherine does as well for helping balancing hormones, people with diabetes, and women going through menopause. Dr. Schwarzbein helps patients reverse their diabetes and they also lose weight in the process. So it's a great resource and it was one of my influences.

I have a rule for myself that I won't eat anything I don't love. I never ate fast food to begin with and I don't drink sodas. It's not real food to me and it warps the taste buds. However, my weakness was pasta and pizza and donuts and cheesecake and ice cream. We have Celiac's disease in my family. It's the inability to digest gluten (found in wheat, barley, rye). While I tested negative for it (YAY, me!) the doctor said I have an extreme allergy to wheat. So if I get a stray bread crumb, I'll be OK (unlike a Celiac). But often with food allergies, you crave the very thing you're allergic to. If I cared enough, I could get it Brimhalled with their allergy elimination technique (which I would definitely do if it were life-threatening). But I thought I'd try wheat-elimination for a month and see if I noticed any difference. I felt so much more energetic and I wasn't so bloated and I dropped a pant size. Plus, I didn't have cravings. And I noticed that once I stopped eating wheat, I also stopped eating sugar (as in donuts, ice cream, etc).

Another thing I gave up (and this is a running joke in my family) : coffee. Are you drinking coffee, not drinking coffee, what? is the standard question I get when anyone's brewing. I drink tea, with a bit of honey, and organic milk.

Here's what I do eat:

  • lots of vegetables, and raw for the most part in the warmer months.
  • Beans. I like to sprout them and then they go in a salad, soup, stirfry. V. yummy. I've got some mystery beans from an Indian grocery that are AWESOME! But you can sprout any kind: lentils, black beans, etc.
  • Hummus--great with veggies, on salad, with rice.
  • I'm not a strict vegetarian, I'll eat Alaskan salmon (NOT farm-raised) & sardines for those essential fatty acids we all need.
  • Nuts. I make my own trail mix with nuts, gogi berries, etc. from The Apple Cottage.
  • For carbs: sweet potatoes, rice and plantains (SO yummy)!
  • Oils: I use mostly olive oil and coconut oil (especially for cooking). There's some misinformation about coconut oil, but you can read more info on the benefits here. I also use it on steamed veggies.
  • Total Green is an AWESOME green drink that Dr. Brimhall created. You have to get it through a Brimhall doc or someone who uses Nutriwest neutriceuticals. Packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, etc., it can be used as a meal replacement. I don't like breakfast, so I make a shake. In the summer time I make a smoothie with frozen fruit. I also buy rip bananas and cut them into pieces and freeze them. They give an ice-cream consistency to it and make it v. yummy. In the wintertime, I don't like cold things, so I just mix it with water. Yes, it's that good--to me, at least! I always travel with it so that if there's nothing to eat at a restaurant, at least I have trail mix and Total Green. And especially if I'm at a Brimhall seminar with Dr. Doesn't-Give-Breaks, I can keep my blood sugar stable.
  • For sweets: trail mix, fresh fruit, bananas, and I LOVE plantains. I boil them and mash them like potatoes and add a bit of cocunut butter.
  • In the winter time I like warm foods and hot tea and I LOVE soup. So I make lentil soup & pumpkin soup & veggie soup, etc. I've also done a bit of GF baking. When it first got cold, I started eating oatmeal (a no-no for Celiacs, but I seemed to be OK with it) except that I went up a pant size in a month. So I stopped eating it. For hot cereal I eat cream of rice occasionally. YUM. But mostly I just have Total Green in the a.m.
  • In addition to food, I take my Nutriwest supplements as prescribed by the docs. These have been part of what gave me my life back when I was so ill, and I continue to take enzymes, probiotics, and a multi-vitamin.

So that's basically what I did to lose the weight and how I maintain it. It took about a year. I will look for some good chubby-before and now-after photos for another post. One last note: There are all sorts of reasons we gain weight, and I was not limited to one. There was a huge emotional component that I dealt with and that I am sparing you from. Suffice to say, one of the reasons we crave sweets is when we are missing other sweet things in our lives. In addition, I am hard-pressed to think of many women I know who don't have some sort of body-image issue. It is not limited to weight-gain, either. One of the keys is to stop the battle with yourself and accept where and who you are right now. And give up the idea that there is a perfect size or shape or age. Cut yourself some slack. To paraphrase a song: If you can't have the body you'd love, then love the one you're in. Right now. LTS: Life's too short to struggle. And if you want some help with that, go check out John Morgan's I Love My Body. Ah, because now, at the age of 43, I really do.