Weekend Percolations: 29Aug2015

11752642_10153666293063573_192302158_oMy favorite cookbook, Simply in Season, has some great recipes for the fall harvest. I love using the fresh produce from the garden. This cookbook is arranged by season and the index is arranged by produce, so I can quickly find all the zucchini or tomato recipes.

The more I learn about acupressure points, the more I realize the power of this ancient system of balancing the body.  It’s amazing that by holding a few points on the body, I can relieve various aches and pains and improve my overall wellness.

I’m fascinated with the book Song of the Spine by Dr June Leslie Weidner. Did you know that the top 12 vertebrae of the spine are “tuned” to the 12 note scale, which then repeats for the bottom 12 vertebrae of our spine? Each vertebrae has its own tone and frequency, which corresponds to one of the notes of a chromatic 12 note scale. The vertebrae resonate in the order of the 7 white keys on a piano first, followed by the 5 black keys of the piano and then the same order repeats for the lower 12 vertebrae. We have an amazing body.

11973373_10153664285328573_861380738_oTry this beautiful coloring book for stress relief. The drawings inspire creativity with a clever eye spy twist.

How mindful are you? Here are tips to increase the intention of being more present in your life.

Take a second look at some interesting photography

Here’s some wisdom for living, from someone older than you.

I have a friend who calls himself a “constructionist” because he likes to build things. I was impressed with his clock project with all the different moving parts. I think he is a very creative artist.

photos and haiku
visual expression of words
peek inside the soul

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The power of words

words 2012Each year I try to choose a theme word to help me focus on my goals. In 2012, my theme was Self Care. It encompasses a number of other words as well. I created this word cloud poem with various supporting words.

When I take time to name the things I want in my life, those things happen.

As newlyweds, my husband and I wrote goals for one year, five year and ten years as a way to focus on what we wanted to accomplish as a couple. We noticed that we would meet most of these goals long before the projected time frame. We started reviewing these goals every 1 to 2 years and revising them as needed, since we seemed to be ahead of schedule.

When we decided to look for a new home, we each made a list of things we wanted to find in a new location. We then made a combined list of things that were non-negotiable (such as an attached garage and a basement) as well as a “wish list” of things that would be nice to have (like extra property and space for ceramics) but not crucial for our decision. We posted that list on our refrigerator. It was very helpful when we met with the realtor. Within a few months, we moved into our current home that had everything from the first list and almost all the things from the wish list. Naming what we wanted in a house helped us find our dream home.

When we had children, we didn’t always take time to review our written goals yearly, but they were always there in the back of our minds, guiding our decision making. The long-term goal list became more general with themes of hospitality, service and involvement in our children’s lives. The short term goal list often morphed into “To Do” lists of home repairs, vacation plans or events to attend. Our mantra was “Let’s put it on the calendar, or it won’t happen.” You can track our goals through the calendar during those early parenting years.

At this stage in our life, I like to simplify things. I like the idea of choosing a word or phrase for the year as an overall theme.  Balance. Simplicity. Hygge. Breathe. Self care. These overarching themes keep me focused on what is important.

Words guide our decisions.

10 shadow 3As I meet with clients for their bodywork sessions, I discover that helping them speak their goals out loud during the session can have a profound impact on their health and well-being. One person wants to feel calm or relaxed, while then next person wants to be energized or motivated. Sometimes my clients want to feel peaceful, centered, hopeful or open to new possibilities. They name these goals out loud during the session, then relax as I release held tension. I perform the same basic Zero Balancing protocol with them, but they often leave the session feeling the very thing they asked for at the beginning of the session. That is the power of the mind.

Our words become a self fulfilling prophesy.

Some people name this phenomena of the self fulfilling prophesy as “the law of attraction” or “the power of positive thinking.” Regardless of what you call it, when we speak our words out loud, our mind hears those words and unconsciously begins to align what choices we make with those thoughts. Deep down at the cellular level, our body begins to respond to what we think. This works for both positive and negative thoughts. If we are “sick and tired” of something, our physical body soon begins to feel sick and tired. If we are “happy and excited” about an event, it usually goes smoothly and exceeds our expectations. I try to educate my clients on the importance of positive thoughts because of this concept.

What are the things you desire in your life? What things do you want to accomplish? How do you want to feel? What direction are you headed in life? I hope you can take time right now and name a few things that are important in your life. Speak them out loud. Write them down and post where you can see them.

Words have power. Use them wisely.

Weekend percolations: 07Aug2015

Here’s what’s percolating this week.

Drum SkinsI’m enjoying Susannah Conway’s August Break 2015.  Each day I have a new prompt. It has become a mindful meditation practice. Each day provides an opportunity to look for the objects and post a picture. I have challenged myself to think outside the box and come up with a slightly different take on the prompts. On day 3, I posted pictures of my drum heads, for the “skin” prompt. On day 6, I posted a page of shaped note music for the “notebook” prompt. Each prompt causes me to slow down and look around me for ideas. I created this collage with PicMonkey, my favorite photo editing website.

Several people have asked me about how our family made these beautiful hand drums. I created a video to show the process of building a drum from start to finish. It was labor intensive, but the sound is better than the fiberglass drums I’ve purchased in the past. I wrote a poem on the inside of my drum, so a part of me is inside the drum. We made Djembes, Ashikos, a ceremonial DunDun and a Native Frame Drum. The vibrations touch me at the bone level.

I’ve been working with several clients recently who have problems with posture while working on the computer. I came across this clever video about office posture.  With a few minor changes to the workspace and a few stretches, the sore neck and stiff back can be eliminated.

John O’Donohue is one of my favorite Irish poets. He first introduced me to the concept of “soul friend” or Anam Cara in Gaelic. His writings have helped me learn to explore my inner landscape.

We’ve been enjoying the sour cherries and blueberries from the farmer’s market. Twice this week we had a very tasty Sour Cherry Berry Crisp recipe from the Blogging over Thyme blog. I added extra blueberries since we didn’t have blackberries. My husband tops his off with ice cream. Yum!

mandala-yin-yangMy mother told me not to play with my food during meals. I discovered that food can create beautiful mandalas. This picture on the left, taken by food artist Amalia Bussard, is called mandala-yin-yang. She uses healthy food to create beautiful works of art. Sorry Mom, I’m going to try this out this weekend.

Speaking of artists, I love the Bone Sigh Arts website. Artist Terry St Cloud describes bone sighs as “an understanding and connection of the heart that is bone-deep and soul-wide expressed in words and color; something one gives to oneself or another to help heal and remember.” Check out her exquisite watercolors and drawings.

I drew the Yoga Nidra card from my Balance Resource Cards deck this morning for my self care practice of the day. Yoga Nidra is a guided meditation practice that progressively relaxes your body. I like Robin Carnes’s Yoga Nidra Ii CD the best, but Amy Weintraub’s Life Force Yoga CDs are also excellent. Try Yoga Nidra as a way to start out your morning routine or relax at the end a stressful day.

I’ll end with a Pep Talk from Kid President. I love that kid! He always makes me laugh, and laughter is good medicine! So have a chuckle and be well!

Cultivating Creativity

Cultivating CreativityCreativity feeds my soul. It’s not the final project as much as the process that is deeply satisfying. When I look at my past projects, I can see the inner journey that occurred through the years.

I’ve enjoyed a variety of creative endeavors in my life and find the skills in past projects are helpful in new projects. Scrap-booking skills were helpful when I started Soul Collage cards. Jewelry making skills were useful when I wanted to embellish my handmade books. My 4H sewing experience helped me as a new quilter.

My husband introduced me to ceramics. He brought a potter’s wheel and kiln to the marriage. Both of our boys also enjoy ceramics and have surpassed my skill level. It is rewarding to take a formless lump of clay and create a useful shape. Even the failed attempts are part of the learning process. Sometimes I manage to create something beautiful. Ceramics gave me an eye for shape and form.

Another creative project our family enjoyed was building a number of hand drums. In the course of one weekend, we sanded, stained, and decorated the drums. It was labor intensive, especially the final lacing and tuning. The sound is amazing. I love the vibration in the room when we play them. I learned that creating something myself can be higher quality and more satisfying than buying something factory made.

I’ve gone through several cycles of fabric arts. My first quilt was a California Queen sized denim quilt with a three-dimensional angel in the middle. It took me almost a year to complete. I went several years before attempting quilting again. I learned not to tackle large projects when learning a new art form. A few years later, I joined a quilting guild, so I could learn some new quilting techniques. We met every other week during the school year and learned new techniques each meeting. Sometimes we swapped fabrics and patterns. The result of that two year time-span was a bin full of UFO’s in colors and designs that I did not enjoy. (That stands for Un-Finished Objects or UFO’s, for those of you who are not quilters.) I finally made peace with the fact that my UFO’s were a learning tool and I don’t need to finish them.

One of the projects I did finish during that time was a batik quilt I made for my 40th birthday. I call it “Breaking Out of Tradition” because the center shifts 45 degrees to create a new design. I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted to do, but did not follow any patterns. I learned to be adaptive and that it’s ok to take things apart and re-do it if needed. I also made several smaller wall hangings in bright bold colors. The rainbow-colored spiral wall hanging is called “Ignite the Fire Within.”  My captured fabric journal cover was completed during a weekend retreat. It is rewarding to have finished projects in colors and textures that I love.

For my 50th birthday, I learned how to paint silk scarves from the women at St Margaret’s House in the Silk Creations program. They are amazing artists. I love the colors and feel of the silk scarves, which are a joy to wear. I made a large silk wall hanging symbolizing the tree of life and the empowerment of those women, which now hangs in my bedroom. I am inspired every day when I see it.

Some of the art I make is hidden within my journals. I usually don’t share those with others. Sometimes it is poetry or word poems I create. Other times I make sketches or paintings. They are a depiction of the inner work I’m doing: My inner child is dancing with the Divine. I’m at a Sacred Threshold. My roots and branches reach out in new directions. I embrace the beauty within me. One of the most interesting art experiences I had was a series of intuitive painting classes. It was very insightful as the painting morphed into various images throughout the process. When I spent time journaling on the process, I was amazed at what I learned about myself.  I’ll save that story for another time!

I can chart my inner growth with these various projects. Others may see art, but I see the inner story unfolding. Art and creativity touch my emotions and help me process them in ways that words are unable to do. When I don’t take time for art, life feels dull and my soul feels heavy. I’ve learned to make art an important part of my week.

What are you doing to cultivate your creativity?