Archive for March, 2012

“See yourself as a single cell in a body called humanity, and vow to be a cell that cooperates with all adjacent cells and has a sense of belonging to the whole.” Wayne Dyer

Your body creates 1,000,000,000 new cells every hour. Is it possible to keep them all happy, as in the Happy Cell Song“Every little cell in my body is happy. Every little cell in my body is free. Every little cell in my body is happy, every little cell in my body loves me. I’m so happy, I’m so free, I’m so happy I’ve just gotta be me. I’m so happy, I’m so free, I’m so happy, it’s so good to be me.”

My four year old granddaughter personifies this song, in truth. She is just so happy to be herself! And she shows it.

Then if I have these happy cells, are they willing to be cooperative with all their adjacent cells? Will they have a sense of belonging to the whole, as Dyer says?

I think they need to because at my deepest level, I have arrived at a life philosophy that I don’t think will change much from here on out.  I am a happy person, like my cells, at my deep core; a new-found happiness that does not seem dependent upon circumstances and has stood up to that test many times. Only the roots of this happiness have deepened into the fertile ever-growing ground of faith.

This seems to have developed a confident trust in me, that is much stronger than the wavering toe-in-the-water trust upon which it was built. No shifting sands here.

There is a line in an old Glen Campbell song, “I was a oak, now I’m a willow, I can bend”…….always loved that line and applied it to my own life many times.

I guess I am thinking about my cells for two reasons today. I’ve seen both my urologist, because I really want to make some progress on not getting up so many, many times at night, and we’ve got a plan……..then I also had my yearly mammogram, a necessary but never looked-forward-to experience.

So from tip to toe, I’ve been focused today on my body cells, and “cellebrated” on the way home by singing the Happy Cell Song.  I know I have a healthy body and I am very grateful for it.

And I have an intention to live my life the way I’ve asked my cells to:  Be happy, and cooperate with the person next to me and always keep the sense alive in me that we are all CONNECTED and part of ONE, which none of us understands.

I’ve followed many spiritual texts and writers that agree upon this and now in my queries into biology, brain study, HeartMath coherence theories of brain and heart intelligence, I find it there as well.

Barbara Marx Hubbard and her new book on Emergence and the Project of Shift – Earth Birth Day on Dec. 22, 2012, is heralding a call to attend to these matters of the heart and our life values to bring about an evolution of humankind that is not a distant theory, but one that is at hand in the moment.

I don’t know how this all works out, but I know we’ve got some things wrong here on Earth, and our current ways of being in politics, education, peace initiatives, and even religions are still too “grabby” and “mine-is-the-right-way” to be able to solve the problems of violence, poverty, and prejudice.

The Earth sits here as our mother, willing to offer us another solution — another way of being than how we are being at the moment.

So I’m willing to listen. For another thing they all seem to be saying is that IF we get quiet enough, if we can stop the non-stop brain chatter and ego-leader in us,  there is another voice awaiting to be heard. The Divine Voice.

And it comes from within us – every one of us — and if every ONE of us hears that voice, we are surely on our way to a new way of being.

There may be a few birth pains getting there.

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BMH and Jan
Hi Napkinreaders,
A message I want to spread from Jan to you.

(MY E-MAIL from JAN:

“You might remember a few months ago when I wrote about visiting Barbara Marx Hubbard and interviewing her for her book Birth 2012 and Beyond. She is envisioning the birth of a new species, homo universalis, and tomorrow night in LA, Barbara and dozens of other visionary leaders are launching the beginning of a nine-month countdown to this new planetary birth.

You can participate in the happening from wherever you are and I’m including the link here  so you can sign in if you want. Registration is free.

My interview with Barbara comprises the first third of her new book. Here is a short video I produced on Evolutionary Leadership that includes interviews I did with Barbara and Jean Houston.

That’s all for now. Hope this lifts you up! Blessings, Jan”



Join Us Thursday, March 22, 2012 – 7pm US Pacific
FREE livecast from our Los Angeles event
Watch from your home, office
or live gatherings worldwide
Barbara Marx Hubbard
Visionary and Evolutionary Leader
Includes Special Messages from the “Welcoming Committee”: Neale Donald Walsch, Jean Houston,
Michael Beckwith, Jack Canfield, Lynne Twist, James O’Dea, Lynne McTaggart,
Ervin Laszlo, Rinaldo Brutoco, Oscar Miro-Quesada, Dot Maver, Ashok Gangadean

Are you tired of doom and gloom and ready for a 2012 vision that offers profound hope and the promise of positive change?

Conception Day 2012 is when we can ignite this vision together!

We’re calling all visionaries, healers, change agents, artists, pioneers and lovers of humanity to join us for this free global gathering that links the hearts and minds of people from around the world.

This is our time for each of us to activate our genius – our gift to the Shift – to cocreate a world that is healthy, sustainable, peaceful and prosperous for all.

March 22 marks the beginning of a nine-month period of preparation that culminates on December 22 – our first Planetary Birth Day, and a day that leaders around the world are declaring Day One of a new era for human evolution.

Imagine 100 million of us gathering on Day One in a shared commitment to birth a beautiful new world – with global celebrations, broadcasts and synchronized events.

It can be a “peak” experience for our world, putting in motion mass collaboration and positive actions.

Now, we need you to participate in activating global heart coherence and help mobilize this critical mass of change agents by December 22, 2012.

“Now it is OUR turn in evolutionary history to cocreate a new society, a new humanity. Please join me for this exciting new journey together”
Barbara Marx Hubbard

Participate in a Historic Planetary Shift!

Register for free for Conception Day and you can:

  • Join our free live Birth 2012 TV webcast featuring Barbara Marx Hubbard and other top transformational teachers – members of what we’re calling the “Welcoming Committee.”
    First Name:
    Receive our Shift Catalyst e-zine, special program updates and event notices.
    We respect your privacy. Your information will never be sold nor shared without your permission.

    Each leader will share their special insights about 2012 and offer tools to empower you to help cocreate our “new” story on planet earth. You’ll also learn about Birth 2012 TV and the launch of Global Shift University.

  • Host a party or participate in an event locally in your community and celebrate with us!
  • You’re invited to join us live in person in Los Angeles at the Vortex Dome on March 22nd. (Seating is limited; tickets available for purchase here.)

Please join with us for this historic planetary activation – and spread the word!

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North Carolina Bound

Long day, long trip, but we are here in Charlotte North Carolina. We are in a fun and festive mood, enjoying all the aspects of this trip.

Tom and I resided in North Carolina for five years between 2003 and 2008. We had numerous and large business responsibilities and very long days and weekends of business activities. While we were in North Carolina, we lived in two apartment complexes and one new home for a short period.

Most of the fun we had while we were in NC was with two of our neighbors who had a home next to us and across the street from us. (who was actually the builder of our home and our other neighbor’s home. But they are both gone from there now, as are we in the pattern of life moving on for all of us.

Our builder and his wife have actually returned to his homeland of Wales. It is a dream of ours that we one day might be able to visit them there. Lois, next door, an active, vibrant, humorous 70 year “something has moved back to her home state of NY after Jim’s death of cancer. All of this, along with the closing of our businesses and their life changes seemed to happen in so short of time.

So there is no one to go visit that we know in our old and brief neighborhood experience in Newton, NC.

We worked much more than we played while we lived in NC. So our visit brings us back to have an enjoyable time with no real work responsibilities. We’ve enjoyed the familiar and gorgeous geography of West Virginia and Virginia especially and then as we came into the Statesville area of NC, I got a sense of life lived on this land (mostly in a car back and forth to one of our locations) and lots of good memories flooded back.

I’ll be taking an art workshop with Catherine Anderson in Charlotte tomorrow and the next day Tom is meeting with a business contact about a project he wants to move forward. But none of this seems like work to either of us.

We’re just enjoying the southern climate, having left Michigan in an unusually warm period, going to enjoy a date night out tomorrow night in the Charlotte city atmosphere, do some swimming at the motel, and enjoy our trip …….BACK HOME TO MICHIGAN.

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On this St. Patrick’s Day, I looked upon the blessings written, and I saw this one  and remember I sang that often as a child.  I think Bing Crosby recorded it. And when I sang it, I really prayed that it was the blessing that would befall our house, my parents, brothers, and all the joyous and hard times we shared.

Bless This House

Bless this house, o Lord, we pray.
Make it safe by night and day.
Bless these walls so firm and stout,
Keeping want and trouble out.
Bless the roof and chimney tall,
Let thy peace lie over all.
Bless the doors that they may prove
Ever open to joy and love.
Bless the windows shining bright,
Letting in God’s heavenly light.
Bless the hearth a-blazing there,
With smoke ascending like a prayer.
Bless the people here within…
Keep them pure and free from sin.
Bless us all, that one day, we
May be fit, O lord, to dwell with Thee.

So today,  I’ve played a few Irish songs on my piano, remembered my dad’s tenor voice crooning Toora Loora Loora, and others. I’ve remembered the age old photograph books I looked at all the time of my father in his younger times, and a proud, lookin’ Irish-man was he with just enough blarney to keep the blaze going.

Dad was proud of his Irishness – and his black curly locks and wide grin and sometimes a white straw hat, with suspender-held black pants made him a perfect fit for movie stock.

When I was married and he and mom visited us in Kentucky, we took them to the movie, Sting, and my how he enjoyed that, especially Robert Redford’s character, recognizing the risk-taker in himself.   He enjoyed the backyard Chicago scenes too, as he himself traversed them as a young semi-truck hauler, knowing he’d been next to danger more than once.

Dad had both the Irish charm but also, alas the temper, and we kids had to figure our way around that one.

So today, as dad said, “Everyone’s Irish,” and I celebrate it again with the blessing I hope befalls all of us through the generations of red-headed daughters and granddaughters.

Keep us safe, by night and day.

I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen!

Young Devon

Missed the Irish red hair, but it’s long & curly on both!
Laura & Amy

and an Israelite?
Andrew as Judah in  — Joseph & AmazingTechnicolor Dreamcoat

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These are not my own original tips. They are obtained from a late night grazing on the internet. These tips belong to Chuck Wendig, author of “500 Ways to be a Better Writer”. He is also a novelist, screenwriter and games design. These tips (minus his voice of some rather aggressive nouns, verbs and adjectives where I would have to use @&$((@*@, are left out by me) come from his blog on his website, Terrible Minds.

Last year, I offered a long list of tips writers wrote in about what they do when they get stuck. So in the same vein (writer’s vein), here are:


1. Stop Running Away.
Right here is your story. Your manuscript. Your career. So why run in the other direction? Your writing will never chase you. You have to chase your writing.

2. Stop Stopping.
Momentum is everything. But the only way you can finish something is by not stopping. That story isn’t going to write itself.

3.  Stop Writing in Someone Else’s Voice.
You have a voice. Find your voice. This is going to be a big theme in 2012.
Discover those elements that comprise your voice, that put the author in
our authority. Write in a way that only you can write.

4.  Stop Worrying.
Worry is useless. Your recognize a road block and arrange a path around it. Shut up, calm down, worry, begone.   

5.  Stop Hurrying.
You’re not being judged on how much you write but rather, how well you do it. Quality. Give your stories and your career the time and patience it needs. Put differently: don’t have a freak out, man.

6.  Stop Waiting.
What are you waiting for? Life rewards action, not inertia.

7.  Stop Thinking It Should be Easier.
It’s not going to get any easier, and why should it? And get back to work.

8.  Stop Treating Your Body Like A Dumpster.
The mind is the writer’s best tool. Stop bloating your body with awfulness. Eat well. Exercise.

9. Stop The Moping and The Whining.
Stop boo-hooing. Don’t like something? Fix it or forgive it. And move on to the next thing.

10. Stop Blaming Everyone Else.
You’re going to own your successes, and that means you’re also going to need to own your errors. This career is yours.

11.  Stop the Shame.
  Take the respect. Writers and storytellers help make this world go around. Stories are important.

12.  Stop Playing It Safe.
Let 2012 be the year of the risk. Nobody knows what’s going on in the publishing industry, but we can be sure that what’s going on with authors is that we’re finding new ways to be empowered. Throw open the doors.

13.  Stop Trying to Control — You Can’t Control!
All THAT out there? All the industry mess and the reviews and the Amazonian business practices? The economy? The readers? You can’t control any of that. You can respond to it. You can try to get ahead of it. But you can’t control it. Control what you can, which is your writing and the management of your career.

14.  Stop Doing One Thing.
Diversification is the name of survival for all creatures: Things are changing big in these next few years, from the rise of e-books to the collapse of traditional markets.

15.  Stop Writing for “The Market”.
Writing a novel takes long enough that writing for the market is a doomed mission, a leap into a dark chasm with the hopes that someone will build a bridge there before you fall through empty space.

15.  Stop Chasing Trends.
Set the trends. Do your own thing.

16.  Stop Caring about What Other Writers are Doing.
They are going to do what they are going to do. You’re not them.
You don’t want to be them.

17.  Stop Caring So Much About The Publishing Industry.
Know the Industry, but don’t be overwhelmed by it.

18.  Stop Listening to What Won’t Sell.
You’ll always find someone to tell you what you can’t do. What you shouldn’t do. That’s your job as a writer to prove them wrong.

19.  Stop Overpromising and Overshooting.
Don’t overreach. Concentrate on what you can complete. Temper risk with reality.

20.  Stop Leaving Yourself Off The Page.
You are your stories and your stories are you. Who you are matters. our experiences and feelings and opinions count. Put yourself on every page; a smear of heartsblood. If we cannot connect with our own stories, how can we expect anybody else to find that connection?

21.  Stop Dreaming.
START doing.

22.  Stop Being Afraid.
Fear will kill you dead. Fear is nonsense. What do you think is going to happen. You’re going to be eaten by tigers? Life will afford you lots of reasons to be afraid: bees, kidnappers, terrorism, being chewed apart b an escalator, but being a writing is nothing worthy of fear. It’s worthy of praise and triumph. So shove fear aside.




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Oh Poolates! Thy poses sooth my soul and strengthen my muscles and help me walk a more balanced path.

I’ve been blessed to find a Poolates Class and instructor that fits just perfectly into my fitness activities and doesn’t carry a “make me do it” kind of feeling or lack of motivation after two years of faithful practice. That might be a record for me. I have become a kind that no longer hangs on, but let’s go and moves on from things that no longer serve a purpose in my life.

Perhaps that is it. Poolates continues to serve a purpose for me.  I like it, number one. I love water, so to do something beneficial in the water is an easy call for me. I want my body to maintain as much flexibility and balance as I can muster and look ahead in one short year to my seventh decade. The instructor is ambitious, exact, energetic, purposeful and totally on her purpose and passion as she draws out the best we can do in the water arena.

Those are all good reasons, but truthfully, I think it is what my body tells me after the class that also keeps me there. My body is stretched, it feels strong, it feels tight, my core can become hard enough to bounce something off of.

I can breathe, long and deep. I can laugh at something silly that happened in class. I can make a muscle in my bicep. And my underarm is not so fluttery as happens to women-of-a-certain age.

Physical fitness can neither be achieved by wishful thinking nor by outright purchase. However, the German Pilates founder, Joseph Pilates,said fitness can be gained by the daily performance of the exercises he designed which counteract the inherent conditions of modern civilization. Pilates was designed for land-lubbers around the time of World War I.

Much later in history, after Pilates gained much success in human fitness, it  has been adopted for those of us who are in the half-fish human classification  as Poolates for the water.

There are many strains and stresses imposed on us in our modern day fast living life-styles and while we are in this fast track we tend to not give our bodies the care that our well-being deserves.

When done correctly and consistently, Poolates helps develop the body uniformly, corrects wrong postures (almost always the #1 issue), restores physical vitality, invigorates the mind, and elevates the spirit. Your spirit! That’s why we can laugh a lot in Poolates.

Poolates is unmistakably reflected in the way you walk, play and work. It even reaches thousands of dormant (what?) braincells which further stimulates the functioning of the mind.

There is also a sense of strength in the freedom of knowing I continue to choose this as a regular part of my life. Commitment, that’s the word.

Sometimes in the length of my exercise history, that includes (yes) Jack LaLanne, TV aerobics, walking, swimming laps,stationery and moving bicycle, treadmill and crossform machines, the basic motivator has not been so much fitness, but rather a few or more than a few pounds dropped. So depending on how successful the pound issue is, the exercise either continues or meets an early demise.

With Poolates, however, it seems to be a keeper for this older age woman. Yes, I can dream (and I do) and continue to work for weight management and loss, but staying with Poolates doesn’t depend upon success in the other.

We have formed a little community of those of us committed to our two or three times weekly in the pool. A somewhat silent community, for we are either focused on a movement to perform, or concentrating on the instructions given for perfection in doing it. We know we have to “Listen to Liz.”


Liz Versino is our instructor. I don’t know much about her except that she gives us great enjoyment and expert teaching in the ins and outs of Poolates. Totally dedicated to the practice, one only has to look upon her body to see what perfection means, both in muscle and shape. The power of attraction has hit Liz’s classes and our small, initial group is now wavering above the “too much to handle for student and instructor” alike — We’re going to have to split off like an amoeba!

But see, there’s our growth — some of us have become more “advanced” more complicated than the amoeba beginners, and like biology are taking on new forms, new challenges, and new strengths. I like that.

And my body does too.

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I, napkinwriter, have been looking at Soul Collage for sometime now and deciding if I want to add that to the services I will provide through SOULjourner at-large LLC as I add a workstyle to my life once again. I am quite excited about how I will serve the people and the Earth through the talents and gifts I have discerned, prayed over, and chosen to be part of SOULjourner, indeed part of who I am.

I even have the good fortune to have scheduled a little spring road trip with my husband back to North Carolina for a few days, so I can be a student in wondrous artist, Catherine Anderson’s workshop on SoulCollage.

Below is a story written by a woman who survived cancer and in the process, used the process of SoulCollage to help in her healing.  The website for the source of this information is also listed.


December 2001. Breast cancer was the furthest thing from my mind. I was busy. A husband, a home, three stepchildren, a good job. Then…

A routine, suspicious mammogram. A phone call. Mammogram #2. A stereotactic core biopsy.

Diagnosis: breast cancer, stage 2, infiltrating, ductal, HER2.

All of the above happened within the fearful, anxious, unbelievable time span of 7 days. Bing. Bam. Boom.

And my life has never been the same.

The next nine months held a most strange quality of disbelief and exhaustion. It also held two surgeries, four chemotherapy treatments spaced three weeks apart, and 47 radiation treatments (spaced daily, over the course of 9 weeks).

It’s been three years since my life was turned upside down and inside out…. Three years. My prognosis is very good. I hear this every three months depending on which doctor my appointment is with: breast surgeon, medical oncologist, or radiation oncologist.

Three years have passed. I look good. I feel good. And yet nothing has been able to quiet the storms of fear that threaten to overwhelm me from time to time. The insidious fear that the breast cancer might return. The intimidating fear of another fateful diagnosis.

I have meditated and prayed about this. I have talked about it with my wonderful therapist and with other breast cancer survivors. I have tried guided imagery, journaling, and art journaling. These have all tempered the fear to some extent, but only for a very short while.

Then I began practicing SoulCollage® and my inner dynamics began to change. At first I made quite a few Committee cards. The teacher. The good parent. The happy inner child. The writer. The artist. Then I made some darker Committee cards. The angry one. The lonely one. The rebellious child.

Breast Cancer SoulCollage® Card #3

A few weeks later, I came across the beautiful snow angel that you see in the card below. It lay on my art table for several days before it came to me that whoever had created that angel in the snow had gotten up and walked away. And then I added the other images which speak to me of my breast cancer surgeries/treatments, and did the following writing exercise with it:

Who are you?
I am the one who survived breast cancer. I am the one who underwent two surgeries, 12 weeks of chemo, and 47 radiation treatments.

I am the one who saw the chemo dripping into my own veins, who allowed the fatigue to consume me until I was lying down and sleeping most of the time.

I am the one who continued to grow and blossom even while all of that was happening, even when my body was so weak and unfamiliar to me.

I am the one whose inner strength, wisdom, and courage was like that of the core seed of a white flower blossoming in the dark.

I am the one who survived nine months of breast cancer surgeries and treatments.

I am the one who was held in the arms of a beautiful angel while enduring those harsh, cold treatments.

I am the one who got up and stood on my own two feet and walked away from cancer when the treatments were over.

If you ever doubt me, the footsteps are right there.

See? I am the one who walked away from cancer after being held in the arms of a beautiful angel.

What do you want from me?
I want you to know, to believe, that you could do it all over again if you had to.

What do you have to give me?

I give you the memories of those nine months.

I give you pride in knowing that you are a breast cancer survivor.

I give you continued courage and inner strength.

SoulCollage® & Breast Cancer

So there you have my three SoulCollage® cards which have helped me to put some closure on my breast cancer experience. Making these cards, writing about them, and dialoguing with them has given me a centered base of courage that could have accessed in no other way. You can read more about my personal journey with breast cancer here.

If you are dealing (or have dealt) with a similar diagnosis of breast cancer, or if you are a breast cancer survivor wanting to integrate your experience into your spiritual life, here are some suggestions for creating SoulCollage® cards that will help you do just that:

  • Decide what aspects of your breast cancer experience you want to process and/or honor.
  • Give yourself time to gather images that speak to what you are experiencing.
  • Try to visualize what you are feeling. If you are feeling fear, pretend it is a movie character, or an animal or cartoon character. What does it look like, sound like, smell like? If you are feeling relief, do the same.
  • How about exhaustion? Can you make a card to depict the part of you that is/was so tired during treatments?
  • Don’t forget anger. It was many months into my own breast cancer treatments before I realized how angry I was at what was happening to me. What does your anger feel like? If it was a color, a food, a smell, a taste, an animal…what would it be?
  • If you live in New England, consider a trip to The Healing Garden, which is an alternative treatment center for women with breast cancer. The staff at The Healing Garden work hand in hand with your medical team, and provide the following services to breast cancer patients/survivors with no worries about cost: massage, acupuncture, therapy, workshops, guided imagery, facials…and more!

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Are you upset about the Mayan calendar ending the world before the end of December this year?

Ilchi Lee, a Korean native who specializes in brain education, healthy living and world peace activism,  has a view of 2012 you might have an interest in. He says that the year of 2012 is the Miracle the World is waiting for and by simply making a choice to be a part of it, you, too, are the miracle long awaited.

In Ilchi Lee’s new e-book, The Miracle the World Is Waiting For, he reminds us that our lives are composed of our choices. He writes, “I’ve made the choice to make 2012 the most hopeful year in the history of humanity … instead of wondering what will happen in the year 2012, or feeling anxious about it, wouldn’t it be more productive for us to plan together the kind of year we want 2012 to be, and then create it?”

That choice begins on January 1, 2012, when the energy of the world will shift and it will be easier for everyone to experience awakening connection, and oneness like never before. At the link below, you can find out what you can do to make 2012 a time of peace and happiness.

The year of 2012 presents a unique opening for the blossoming of human consciousness; a time for cultural integration and the reconciling of differences. Beginning January 1, 2012, the energy of the world will shift, and it will be easier for everyone to experience awakening, connection, and oneness like never before.

You can access this new energy by taking some time to reconnect with yourself. Breathe deeply and tap into your heart. Listen to what it’s saying to you. You can dance like no one is watching, intent on the feeling in your chest. You can even use your voice to call out your pure essence. Or you can simply breathe, and let your breath guide you back to yourself.

This is a new beginning; your experience doesn’t have to end here. Let it become a part of your life and spread your light for the benefit of others. There is an honest and compassionate spirit inside each of us. For the sake of the Earth, humanity must bring about a new spiritual culture in 2012.

There is no better time than now. He asks us to please spread this message far and wide.

I am amazed this international peacemaker gives us three simple tasks to accomplish that he maintains are the three keys to a new Earth.

And when you look at them, you can’t really argue difficulty…..unless…………….the difficulty lies in RESISTANCE to what is good for ourselves and for others.

So here they are again.  I find I’ve actually begun fitting them into my lifestyle quite comfortably. Only now, I am a little more uplifted that my actions:

#1  actually help others in consciousness and healing and

#2  help me not to get carried away with the mystery and doomsayers
surrounding the Mayan calendar event.


A Way of Breathing  —

Breathe consciously and feel more alive.

Conscious breathing makes our thoughts clearer, our actions powerful, and our lives enriched. The renewed consciousness we gain through conscious breathing guides us to realize the greatness within.

A Way of Meditating  —

Meditate and make better choices.

Meditation is our complete focus on the present moment. Meditation helps us understand the results of our personal and collective choices and make better decisions.

 A Way of Living  —

Live the best of the human spirit.

What does your conscience tell you? Widen your perspective. Make decisions and take actions that benefit you, your family, your community, and the earth.


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“Behold, I’m doing a new thing!” Somewhere in scripture, it says something like that. And there is a lot of newness in my life today, being born of surprise both in things I am doing and areas I am studying.

One of these new things I am doing is the Norwegian folk art of Rosemaling painting. I didn’t even know the word or what this form of art was until I very recently.

When a friend showed me her photo book of creative paintings, I saw a very familiar looking wooden plate with her painted design centered in it. I had an instant flashback to my childhood kitchen wall where something very similar hung for all the years I was in that home.

That’s when I learned this art form comes from Norwegian heritage. Yesterday was the first painting session I attended and Jan, my Norwegian  friend, is doing everything getting me set up to begin something that has already wrapped itself around my heart. She asked her husband to “turn” a plate for me, so I have my first project underway now with one sanding and a base background coat.

I am choosing to do her pattern that reminds me of my mom’s and now I want to find out from my brother if he knows where that plate is.  I now have some dedicated time scheduled on Tuesday mornings to meet with the experienced rolemaling women who have taken this little duckling under their wings. Next Tuesday can’t get here fast enough for me.

Besides the art itself, there is another side of this adventure that really excites me. I dedicated this year of 2012 in my intentions to: Gain more understanding of the Oneness of All — humanity, spirituality, the cosmos, the past, present and future — and my early leadings in this year seem to push me along in that direction. I truly think that’s how I got to rosemaling, an art tied to my heritage, that I believe I will continue and have speak to me from here on.

Here is the “oneness”, that were a lot of “coincidences” that I think brought me to this art at this time.

I have a good blog friend, Christine, in Australia, who creates and sells nature’s essences;  Last year I ordered two: Space Essence;(create space in your life, elemental balance, prana flow)…..I wanted it so I could make peace, adjust or change the space I was currently living in….within six months we were quickly and almost “lifted out” (it was that easy) of our cramped and uncomfortable space into a home space I am totally at-one with.

The second essence has an even bigger task to accomplish: it is Ancestor Peace, (making peace and achieving harmony in ancestral blood lines)…and that one is very actively “moving things around” for me with new understandings, and forgivings where necessary. It was working mostly on my Irish half,…..but now I see it on my Norwegian half as rosemaling comes into view.

How did I get to this experience? This friend, Jan, is in my Tuesday, Thursday, Poolates class; can’t talk much in that class as we’re working hard. So we spoke briefly in locker room conversations about life’s going’s on and she talked of her painting group a little, and I missed an art exhibit she invited me to.

About six month later, I had a gathering at my home and Jan was there and brought her art project book. Here is where I learned of the Norwegian background. Then further, I learned she knew about Eau Claire, Wisconsin (very Norwegian settled) which was my birth place.

THEN I learned she knew about Eau Claire because she graduated Luther Hospital Nursing School, where my birth mother also graduated and where my birth mother met my father suffering with a kidney stone. They met, fell in love and married.

But this is not the mom whose plate on the wall I remembered, for my birth mother died shortly after I was born and dad remarried (a Thompson Norwegian) two years later.  So now I have this art connecting me to both mothers and ancestors.

The place where I will be learning this craft is Prince of Peace Lutheran Church. Both my moms came from the Lutheran faith tradition, converting to Catholicism with dad. And Peace in my underlying all-covering life purpose.

Could I be more on center? I don’t think so.

Yesterday on facebook, my cousin reminded me of my aunt’s birthday (sister of my second mom) and how much she missed her. I do too, she was an important support to me in my growing up years. At the time of mom’s Alzheimers diagnosis though we had some rough times working things out because she didn’t want to let her sister go and couldn’t recognize the need.

I, on the other hand, did not handle the differences with grace, so a new space was created between us, that took years to repair and heal. I think we got that done, and I felt my love for her in a special way yesterday.

I probably won’t be able to give my first piece away, but I know I will make something (I’m thinking a mirror) for her daughter, in memory of her beautiful mother. That way she can be looking at herself and seeing her mom as well for her mom looks right back at me through her daugher’s face.

And I have one other cousin, my age, who I will send a rosemaling  art piece to because she is the one who connected together for me when I was in my twenties many of the missing pieces of my birth mother’s family and I will forever be grateful for that.

This seems like the breathing process to me, as far as ancestor peace goes. Maybe a natural one, maybe sometimes a bit forced, and other times feeling like I need more breath.  For an earlier part of my life it was like the outbreath expansion and pushing away a bit, getting out as my own, independent self and finding out who that is.

Now, I’m on the in-breath, drawing in, expanding my lungs to fill them fully with all that is a part of me, and loving that energy in my heart, then using this energy in a great, supportive way to live my life now — the daughter of many who “went before.”

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I am currently looking into the work of Karen and Tom Brenner of Brenner Pathways. I am inviting you to visit their website  www.brennerpathways.org  and view the amazing video “Montessori Stepping Stones – Brenner Pathways.  As I am a devoted enthusiast of Montessori for the young, their work in employing Montessori Sensorial learning with dementia and Alzheimers patients has really caught my attention and interest.

I share below a writing from Karen’s website blog with a good reminder for us (who can) “remember” not to use the word remember with our afflicted loved ones. This is precious to learn.  I decided not to paraphrase or describe what she has said here, for she says it only too well.

From the writing of Karen Brenner MA

“Did you know that there are different memory systems at work in our brains?  One of those systems is the declarative memory system. This is the memory system that affects short term memory, language, facts, recent episodes and executive function (the ability to make large and small decisions.)  This is why a person living with Alzheimer’s often cannot remember things that happened five minutes ago, or remember the names of loved ones, or struggles to make the simplest decisions. Just as the lyrics from the old Frank Sinatra song describes:

“It seems we stood and talked like this before. We looked at each other
in the same way then, but I can’t remember where or when.

For someone living with Alzheimer’s, it is as though someone walks in every five minutes with a magic wand, waves the wand, and poof, everything that just happened to them in the last few minutes disappears. This disappearing act happens every few minutes, all day long. Can you imagine how frustrating, how frightening, how aggravating this must be?

It is often made even worse by well-meaning caregivers who insist that the person:

“Just ate dinner ten minutes ago, don’t you remember?”

“Just saw your daughter this morning, don’t you remember?”

“Just went outside for a walk, don’t you remember?”

The problem is, of course, that people with Alzheimer’s don’t remember these episodes that just happened. That magic wand wipes the slate clean again, and again, and again.

To make our lives and the lives of people living with Alzheimer’s a bit easier, we recommend that you lose the word “remember.” This is not an easy thing to do. In the course of a conversation, it is very natural to ask each other if we remember a person or event. But, for the person living with Alzheimer’s, asking them to remember is like asking them to jump up and fly around the room.

Declarative memory also affects language, and that is why people living with Alzheimer’s often struggle to remember names of people or names of common objects…
We all do a little of this ourselves in our daily lives. We’ve all had the experience where a word is right on the tip of our tongue but we cannot find it…. But, for the person living with Alzheimer’s, the constant struggle for words can be exhausting and enraging.

Many times when we are working in a nursing home or an adult day center, we will hear family members or friends pleading with their loved one who has Alzheimer’s, “You remember, Mom. They lived next door to us for forty years! You have to remember them. She was your best friend!”

Because of the impaired declarative memory, people with Alzheimer’s are often not able to remember names or faces of people they have known most of their lives. Trying to convince them otherwise is not going to help. We have to understand what they are dealing with; there are parts of their memory that are simply gone.

….To keep the ones we love in our life, it is important to understand that occasional fleeting moments of recognition or remembrance are causes for celebration, not despair. Rather than constantly mourning the loss of the person we knew and loved, we must learn to appreciate these brief encounters, these moments of connection.

We must learn to see them as little gifts that flash brightly and leave just as suddenly as they come. If we can learn to enjoy this flash of connection, these little moments, we can have the people we love in our lives again, not, of course, as we used to have them in our lives, but still with us, one brief moment at a time. These moments of recognition, of connection, are like little jewels that are strung on the necklace of time.”

Written By Karen Brenner – September 14, 2011

Karen Brenner has worked in the field of education for 30 years as a teacher and administrator. She co-founded Montessori schools in the Chicago area, one of which specializes in the education of children who are deaf or communication disordered. She is co-founder with her husband Tom of the consulting and educational company, Brenner Pathways. Tom Brenner holds an MA in Gerontology and has been working as a trainer, writer and consultant in the field of aging for many years. Together, they employ the Montessori Method of sensorial learning with elderly group home care of dementia and Alzheimers residents.


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