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Monday, August 24, 2009

A True Love Story To A Mother

Kent in Los Angeles, CA
HEART 1253

This heart symbolizes what an amazing Mother you have always been to me. As you battle breast cancer I wanted to take this time to let you know I am so proud of your strength and grace during this difficult time.

It is amazing that no matter where we go, whether it is Starbucks, neighbors, or the oncology unit, everyone gives you big hugs and lets me know what a beautiful inspirational person you are. I have heard so many stories how you have brightened their day and that you have touched their lives in a positive way.

You are not only my Mom but also my Mentor, Friend and Hero. You have the strength of a linebacker, the beauty of a supermodel, the courage of a warrior, the sparkle of a diamond, and the heart of a saint.

Someday when you want to bring inspiration to another soul please pass on this heart and let the world know the story. The love and care can be passed on from person to person and can make a difference in many lives.

Your loving Son,

Friday, August 21, 2009

Viva Brazil! 6185.02 Miles of Love

Andrea in São Bernardo do Campo, Brazil
Heart 135, Journey 2

I received this heart from sweet and wonderful Anne....... I was so touched when she gave it to me saying that it was so I could have it with me during my upcoming trip to see my family. I was so moved by her thoughtfulness and love in bringing this beautiful gift to me. I have been visiting my family now for three weeks... and have had the heart with me at all times, either in my pocket or my purse or bag... and it is so wonderful to feel not only her love and friendship but also this grid of love that has been created and just keeps on growing. I will still keep it with me for the remainder of my trip and feel into the moment when it will be time to pass this chain of love in the form of this heart to someone else. Thank you so much Anne.... and may this love keep spreading every day!...

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In Optimism There Is Magic

Abraham-Hicks nailed it today.
Check this out.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Best 14 minutes 34 Seconds You Can Spend

 Steve Jobs Commencement Speech 2005, Stanford University.

I find this to be so incredibly touching, and true.  And I listen to it whenever I have a somewhat "down" moment. 

If you haven't seen it, it is guaranteed to be the best 14 minutes and 34 seconds you can spend today.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Shadow Dance

Things Are Not Always As They Appear

I think we can all relate to the shadow aspects in our lives and how they can offer us opportunity to grow to new levels with ourselves and others if we take responsibility for "them". If not, I know firsthand that they keep showing up anyway, so we might as well listen and take note, and in turn, heal from them. Funny enough, they sometimes do not turn out as scary as they were made out to be in our minds.
And sometimes they do. But with observation and awareness, even your darkest shadows can be turned into art.

Shigeo Fukuda, Lunch With A Helmet On, 1987

Throughout the article below, I have woven photos from the artists Shiego Fukuda, Tim Noble and Sue Webster that symbolize to me the beauty of the shadow once we are willing to look at "our rubbish" from a different view. Enjoy.

The following is an excerpt taken from an article on the Shadow written by Rebeca Eigen in Conscious Living Magazine Winter Issue 2000.

What is it that constitutes a good relationship? Is it getting along harmoniously, being loving, truthful, honest, supportive? These are certainly virtues and ideals that we all strive for. And yet despite our most valiant efforts, we continually come across problems and situations that puzzle us about our relationships.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Dirty White Trash, 1998

A very interesting thing about life is that it all starts repeating at a certain point and those of us who are willing to live a reflective life, have to ask ourselves some very important questions. What is this about? Why did I attract him or her? And why is this repeating in my life?

If we're honest with ourselves, we know that who we fell in love with at 20 can be eerily the same person at 30, and even 40. We also know that the same kind of person keeps showing up as our boss, as a coworker and even as a friend, even if we decide to leave and distance ourselves from their presence. We can continue to do that for a long time. We can leave one relationship and find another, and we can certainly leave a job, or a friendship, or even a sibling who we have decided is causing us pain. We can continue to blame others for our negative experiences, or we can muster up the courage to take a long, hard look at our own Shadow.

The Shadow, is a psychological term introduced by the late Swiss psychiatrist, Dr. Carl G. Jung. It is everything in us that is unconscious, repressed, undeveloped and denied. These are dark rejected aspects of our being as well as light, so there is positive undeveloped potential in the Shadow that we don't know about because anything that is unconscious, we don't know about.

Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Real Life Is Rubbish, 2002

The Shadow is an archetype. And what an archetype simply means is that it is typical in consciousness for everyone. Everyone has a Shadow. This is not something that one or two people have. We all have a Shadow and a confrontation with the Shadow is essential for self awareness. We cannot learn about ourselves if we do not learn about our Shadow so therefore we are going to attract it through the mirrors of other people. Taking Responsibility for Our Lives The first thing we have to do in order to begin to see our Shadowsides, is to take 100% responsibility for our lives.

This is a very difficult thing to do and no one does this overnight so we have to be patient with ourselves.
Being in the human experience, we have all had many painful, difficult experiences where it clearly looks like it is the other persons fault, or bad luck in life or whatever else we want to call it. So taking total responsibility for what appears to come to us is no easy task but it is well worth the effort because when we take responsibility for what happens to us, we can then learn and grow from our experiences and make new choices for ourselves.

Changing our attitude from blame to responsibility will change what happens next in our world. Our destiny is of our own making and what goes on inside of us will be reflected outside of us all the time.

I am very fond of this ancient axiom given to us by the alchemists of long ago: "As above, so below, as within, so without, so that the miracle of the one can be established." What it is saying is that what is within us, will also be oustide of us. Inner states of consciousness will be reflected in outer situations time and time again. If we are willing to look at the significance of these repeating patterns, we will see the synchronicity of events and situations and ultimately once integrated the miracle of the one is established as we become one with ourselves.

Be kind to yourself and others.
With love,

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Eco-Artware Has Heart!

Now find our Heart Is Hot hearts at Reena Kazman's Eco-Artware.com.

It's the one-stop gift shop for all things beautiful, well made and environmentally friendly.

This site is gorgeous, folks.
All recycled, all the time. Right up our alley.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sparks Fly From Germany!

4,021.73 miles of love and counting. Check out the journeys of this heart #823 on fire. Thanks Susanne, Sophie and Nicole for following your heart.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Family Balance: Living Authentically Teleclass!

hend holdingFAMILY BALANCE:

Calling all parents
and caregivers
  • Are you too busy trying to live your life a certain way that you are forgetting to live from your heart's natural desires?
  • Are you ignoring the warning signs of stress and imbalance in your life?

For some of us, it takes catastrophic events to reveal this to us.

But what if you could catch the warning signs earlier?

Join Brooke Sloane and Teri Johnson, co-founders of Little Soul Productions as they help us set the tone for our family balance so we can be examples to our children on how they will grow and learn in the world.

Hear Brooke's astonishing story of having a stroke at the age of 24 and how this event changed her life in so many positive ways.

And get your questions ready for Conscious Parenting Expert, Teri Johnson, as she reveals ways for us to re-gain perspective in our lives so that we can lead the way for our children and future generations.

Now this is a free call NOT TO BE MISSED!

Thursday, August 6, 2009
5:30-6:30pm PST

Register Here! You will be happy you did.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Enjoy The Journey

It's going to happen whether you like it or not. So, like it!

I recently met with a friend and we discussed some future plans I see with Heart Is Hot. He was very inspired by the visions and suggested I speak with a very important contact with whom he could arrange a meeting.

But the poignant moment was when he looked at me and said, "I can't believe I didn't think of this meeting before!" I paused and genuinely said, "I know why. I wasn't ready."

Though I have seen the greater visions and paths of Heart is Hot from its inception, I believe there is also something to be said about the journey itself, and what is learned along the way. Well, a lot to be said to be perfectly honest.

Yes, I could visualize Heart Is Hot moving in certain directions a year and a half ago when the business opened. But I also feel that life experiences and "growth opportunities (better known as challenges) that have occurred along the way have set the stage for me to be ready to hold larger visions and actually carry them out. To speak candidly, I have greater faith.

And let's discuss faith for a moment, because this is really the key.

I love that faith is actually an aspect of consciousness. So, in a sense, we are never without faith. We do, however, choose what we have faith in, whether it be that we have faith in the disasters in our lives or faith in the universe (God) to provide for us.

For me, what I have found is growing faith over time in 2 things:
The universe is there for me.
My capacity to see what has always been there in front of me.

So, when I announced to my friend that the reason he did not "think of this before" was that I was not ready, it was because I had more faith in the limited vision rather than the expansive vision unconsciously. There were levels of fear lurking and a lack of confidence that I could actually achieve this. And though they were not on the surface, I realize now that they were running the show "underneath" at times.

I have heard that if you want to go on a spiritual journey, open your own business. Funny. And I do believe that to be true. I imagine you can insert having children in there as well or many of life's other scenarios. :)

The levels of patience required coupled with faith and proper action is undeniable.

But the journey of discovering where to put your faith is truly priceless.

So today, whether you are opening a business, planning a family or simply choosing to take a walk down the street today, know that you have faith. The gift is that you can choose what you have faith in. Profound.

Be kind to yourself and others.
With love,

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Guest House

A Little Poem By Rumi For "Those Kinda Days"

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

And yes, this is picture of my real arm "holding the sun" at Santa Monica beach. Uh, I think the sun is actually holding me now that I think about it. What a gorgeous reminder.

Be kind to yourself and others.
With love,

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Are You A Pollyanna?

Are You A Pollyanna?
And Who The Heck Was She REALLY?

I have been called a "Pollyanna" before and never really thought to rainbowask more about that. In fact, I wasn't even sure if it was ever a compliment or not to be honest. And I was even quite sure it was not!
I mean, I know Hayley Mills played Pollyanna, but I did not understand at the time the depth of this character in the film or the original book.

Then just yesterday morning, I received my daily email from the Abraham-Hicks Foundation. Ok, LOVE them.

It said:

"We would demonstrate to everyone that we are cheerful, that we are optimistic, that we are happy, that we are looking for the best-feeling thought that we can find - and that we've practiced it so much that we often find it. And then, as people say to you, in accusing tones, "Oh, you are a Pollyanna," announce to them, "Pollyanna lived a very happy life."

So, of course I had to rush and google Pollyanna to find the whole scoop. She was sounding like my kind of girl for sure.

As many of you know (or may not know), Pollyanna is a character from a best selling novel written in 1913. Her philosophy of life centers on what she calls "The Glad Game", an optimistic attitude she learned from her Dad.

Basically, the game consists of finding something to be glad about in every situation. One Christmas when Pollyanna was hoping for a doll, she received a pair of crutches, so her father made up the game up on the spot and taught her to look at the good side of things. In this case it was to be glad about the crutches because, as her Dad said, "We don't need 'em!"

Of course this attitude is put to the test throughout the story by her "not so enthusiastic" Aunt who creates scenarios to break Pollyanna of her optimism and smile. It does not work.

However, Pollyanna is put through the ultimate ringer when she is hit by a car and told she would not walk again.

Suddenly, she could not find anything to be glad about.

Meanwhile, many town members began calling Pollyanna's Aunt to tell her how much encouragement they received from little Pollyanna and how it improved their lives.

This snaps Pollyanna out of it and she reminds herself how glad she is to have legs. And as a result of being temporarily disabled, Pollyanna appreciated her legs even more when she learned to walk again.

Yeah, I would say now that being called a Pollyanna is a compliment. Anyone willing to truly find the good in every situation is a real hero to me.

The world can appear a very cruel place at times, with unexplainable events and circumstances that arise.

Placing ourselves in the awareness of appreciation and finding the good in situations is as easy as a shift in perception yet feels as hard as moving a mountain at times.

Come back to that "What's Right" list we have spoken about.

Use it. Practice actually being in the space of seeing more good and what's right in your life.

"When you look for the bad expecting it, you will find it."

I think it's OK to see the good and the rainbows.

Be kind to yourself and others.

With love,

Monday, June 15, 2009

Time To Choose


My understanding is that many of you reading this may already have a grasp of the spiritual principles that govern our lives, and I want to honor that greatly.

But my interest these days really lies these days in the fact that so many of us, even with an understanding of these principles, are still suffering in our daily lives.

We are finding ourselves more fatigued at times with less overall motivation and even completely sick. And it seems like the burden of daily tasks and pressures is really taking over.

We're concerned about our finances, our future and even maybe terrified at how we might make it through it one more day.

And what happens is that we tend then to consider these feeling more of "the norm" over time.

I don't know about you, but I don't find headaches, feeling totally drained, being sick and unable to care for myself and others really normal.

But I do have some good news for you.

You can change this. Quickly even in your life.

Now its one thing to understand that stress is NOT for the most part a circumstance happening to us. It's our internal response to a situation, which gives us choice in that response.

But its another thing to actually practice this in our daily lives so we can manage that stress.

And by managing that stress, some really significant things can happen to us.

We all of sudden have a greater understanding of pain and illness, and the power WE have in healing these situations.
We can see our communication in all our relationships, whether personal or professional, clearly improving.
And we just plain feel better.

Here's the bottom line folks. Its really time for us to get serious about standing up on that rock and creating change in our lives.

Here's why:

I feel we all have a great responsibility on this planet to live to our fullest potentials and share our unique and powerful gifts to the world.

How are we going to do this when we are too sick and stressed out on a daily basis to give this to ourselves and others?

This situation does no one any good and frankly keeps us caught in a world of limited perceptions.

Studies show that our energy fields extend a good 8 feet beyond our bodies.

Let me tell you something.

I feel very responsible knowing this to think thoughts of healing and goodwill, because those thoughts not only affect me, but affect others around me.

So, join me on my upcoming teleclass if you have any stress in your life because we are going to discuss what happens when we change our thoughts about a situation and how powerful that is in changing then the situation itself.

And I'll share with you some simple steps you can take in your life everyday that will have you stop choosing stress and start choosing your heart again.

I look forward to hearing you on the call.

Be kind to yourself and others.

With love,

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Call You Are Never Prepared For

Here's the call you are never quite prepared for,
or at least I was not.

Wed. May 27, 2009.

"Hi honey, we are at the hospital.
Your father has had a heart attack".

I actually felt my mind and body unable to process the information at first, so I gave the typical response, "What?!"

Are you talking about MY Dad?

I remained present in the conversation with my mother and allowed myself to shed the natural tears that were forming.

I want to start by telling you that my Dad is not only fine now, but is already home and healing beautifully.

And here is what I found remarkable in this situation.

I was once again amazed at the natural inclination of people to give. And I mean truly give of themselves. Within a few hours of hearing the news of my Dad's heart attack (and before we even had a full report of what was going on), I reached out to some friends and even posted a note on Twitter about the experience.

Now, I believe it was a total of perhaps a minute or two (due to the transit time of email and such) that I began to receive note after note from people, some of whom I did not personally know from Twitter, sending their blessings to my Dad and our entire family. People offered help in any kind of way and, in my opinion, were completely available to be involved.

And noticeably, every single person mentioned that they would pray for my Dad and our whole family, and I am certain they did.

Marianne Williamson states in The Course of Miracles:
"When the Holy Spirit is involved, it's a win/win situation".

This is a wonderful example of that in action, and it was stunning.

The last 48 hours were such a reminder to start each day in service.

Ask yourself:
1. (God), how can I be of true service today?

And as Marianne states, ask:

2. Where would you have me go?
3. What would you have me say and do?

In that space, you will be guided. And that is certainly a win/win.

Thank you again for all your blessings. My family and I are grateful.

May you continue to prosper and grow in your own life,

Friday, May 22, 2009

Temporarily Blinded

breatheOk, and NOT by the light. But I was wrapped up in something or other like a roamer in the night. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Ever have "one of those weeks"? Well I did recently. From communication mishaps to unpaid invoices and disappearing clients to the ground literally shaking below us on several occasions here in LA, things just felt "off" and a bit unstable at times.

The "big" part of me knows that every hiccup was and is an opportunity for growth and expansion. And I can see that. Now. But more challenging is to see it as it is brewing. Right? Ah, that's the juicy part of life.

Showing up in the moment can be very difficult when you are in the middle of a great inner dramatic act of blame, worry, fear or jealously. My act was very internal, but it certainly was going on momentarily.

Here's the good news. You CAN shift that reaction. And even more exciting is that by flexing your "awareness" muscle and becoming more and more in-tune each time a situation of stress arises, you can learn to not only manage that situation but actually understand your part in creating the conflict in the first place. Now that is enlightening.

Next time you find yourself feeling like you are being chased by a tiger only to realize you are actually caught in line at Fed Ex Kinkos behind a slow customer and your meter is running out, try this:

  • Focus your attention on your heart. Yes, you can do this As you stand in that line.
  • Breathe in and out through the heart area (of course visualizing this). Take at least 5 breaths here. Maybe count to 5 on the inhale and 5 on the exhale.
  • Check in with your feeling. Did it shift a bit yet?
  • If not, take a few more breaths.
Now, seeing that the anxiousness you feel in line is doing neither you nor any other customer any good, let's shift it.

  • Still slowly breathing, shift that feeling of anxiety, fear, worry by replacing it with a feeling of gratitude, love or compassion. Find what works for you.
Perhaps you are grateful for your loved ones or your pets. Find something that sparks that feeling of love and gratefulness.

Focus, Breathe, Shift.

Yep, it's that easy. Congratulations, studies show that you have just alerted your immune system that it is safe for 5 hours.

Now that's what our bodies want to hear. Live longer, friends. With greater awareness.

And by all means, re-feed that meter!

Be kind to yourself and others,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Need a little daily inspiration today?

Well, try on this.

The day I was driving on the streets of San Francisco back in 2005 and saw the man crying (which sparked the Heart is Hot idea flame), a young boy was riding in the backseat of my car. His name is Thomas, and he's a special guy in our world.

He doesn't express verbally as you or I do, but that makes no difference to his heart of gold. He just sat in the backseat holding his Buzz Lightyear character with a HUGE grin on his face as I passed the crying man.

Jump to now.

Thomas's parents, Jane and Mark, decided to honor all those who work with Thomas at his school in Tennessee with our Heart Is Hot hearts.
I am so very honored personally as I remain friends with Jane, Mark and the whole gang, and that they were there at the inception of this remarkable company.

I am so very grateful.

Here is the card that each of the 47 employees received at the school from Jane and Mark.

This small gift is sent to THANK and HONOR YOU,
for your UNIQUE skills, hard work, loving attention,
and caring open HEART you give our child
and all the children at CFA.

Thomas's Parents Jane and Mark

A Letter From Mark And Jane

A Letter from Mark and Jane
With Love and Gratitude

I am thrilled to share with you these week the actual letter Thomas's parents, Jane and Mark, sent to The Center for Autism of the King's Daughter's School last week.

They honored all the employees at the school with HIH hearts.

Of course, this is a personal honor for me to not only be a part of sharing my company with others, but to also feel the sentiment of having had spent special time with Thomas during his younger years.

This is really what HIH is all about, and I am so very proud.

And this is what Thomas looks like today! All grown up!

With love,

To each and every person who works at the Center for Autism of the King's Daughters' School:

A dear friend of ours, Sahara Damore, who helped us take really good care of Thomas when he was 4, 5 and 6, began a company after an inspiration she had one day seeing a man crying on the streets of San Francisco.

She experienced a strong desire to show generosity, connection, appreciation, and love to an individual, at that moment a complete stranger, and from this a whole goodwill organization has sprung up. When she was driving through town that day, Thomas was in the back seat of her car.

Sahara's Work now lives on the Internet, at a site called Heart Is Hot. When she finally began producing the hearts (from 100% recycled glass), she sent us Heart #16, and his story and our connection to Sahara are described on her web site (under Heart #16 or Thomas).

The heart she gave to Thomas has stayed with us. For me, it is a visual constant reminder of our love for Thomas. It sits on my bedside table, encouraging me to always send him love across time and space and to accept him, feel gratitude for what he has brought us, and to realize, over and over, that love and connection are what matter most.

The nature of these symbolic hearts is to convey love, gratitude for all of you, and to spread the human spirit connection we all share. Each heart is numbered and if, after possessing the heart for any amount of time, anyone chooses to pass on their heart, the individual heart can be followed online, all over the world.

Connections built on love and gratitude can spread to others. Or a heart can be yours forever. It is entirely one's own choice. It is a sort of "Pay It Forward" experience, though hearts certainly don't have to be passed on further. The Heart Is Hot website has hundreds of stories now of these hearts. Reading them is uplifting and fun.

We were with Sahara at the very beginning of her journey to realize this vision, and we are so grateful to her for giving us this way of honoring all of you. Sahara is one of the most extraordinary people we know and has been so important in Thomas's life, and our life as well.

Because of our close relationship over the years and her own generous nature, she has made these forty-seven hearts available to us. In this way she too honors the work that you do.

Everyone at KDS Center for Autism is an extremely important part of the hard-working, dedicated, skilled, and loving village where my child and every other child there can live well and grow in all realms.

These Hearts are for you, to remember how much you mean to my child and to every child there. The symbol on the heart represents our spiritual interconnectedness. Hopefully, looking at this beautiful little heart will remind you of your own great value to each child at CFA. And none of you could be there, doing what you do, without a Big Heart inside of you; this means so much more than can ever be adequately expressed.

With Love and Gratitude,
Jane and Mark (Thomas's parents)
May 4, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Mom's Lessons Live On

Mom's Lessons Live On
How one mother's lessons carried on, beyond the grave

Pieces of Time and Pivotal Moments
by Patricia Gatto

Mother's LoveLife is comprised of pieces of time sprinkled with pivotal moments. Sometimes these moments have immediate impact. Other times, they are slow to manifest and reveal their importance. But if you listen closely to the soft whispers of life, they will guide you on an unexpected journey filled with beauty, understanding and fulfillment. One such moment occurred for me about eight years ago.

On this particular day, I was helping my mom redo her bedroom. We rearranged the furniture, cleaned, polished and changed the curtains and bedding. Then out came the new floral arrangements, potpourri and matching candles. Proudly, we stepped back to admire our work. That's when Mom decided we needed a little atmosphere and she lit the candles.

Evidently, there was a residue of cleaning solution on her hands, because the moment she flicked the lighter, flames burst in the air. Large blisters instantly formed on her hands and she began to shake. As the tears rolled down her face, she looked up at me and whispered, "The children."

Those were her first words, not a cry, not a scream, not a curse - "the children". I panicked. I thought she was in shock. I hurried her into the bathroom to tend to her wounds but the blisters were so large she couldn't move her fingers. I realized I would have to take her to the doctor; I was also concerned about her state of mind. Her response seemed so strange. "Mom, what do you mean, the children?" I asked.

She looked up at me with the sweetest, most sympathetic tear-filled eyes I had ever seen. "The poor children who get burnt." Then she continued to explain, "I saw it on Oprah. If this is painful for me, how much pain would a child be in? I feel so sorry for them...what they must go through."

That was her answer. My mom had second and third degree burns, her hands were swollen, blistered and shaking, but her tears were for the children. Children she saw on Oprah. My thoughts were less pure. At that moment, I didn't care about anyone but her.

Four years ago this October, I lost my mom to cancer. True to her nature, she never complained during her illness. Not once. Even in her suffering, she taught me valuable lessons. One of these lessons came when we were in her hospital room waiting for test results. The doctor finally arrived, flew into the room, delivered his devastating news and then abruptly left.

I was shocked, hurt and angry all at the same time. I turned to my mother and said, "I hate him." She looked at me with her beautiful blue eyes and said, "That's not nice. He was just doing his job. Can you imagine how hard it must be for him to have to tell his patients bad news like that?"

Oh, Mom, you certainly were something.

In the years since I lost my mom, things have changed in many ways. There are sorrows and bittersweet longings, but her gentle lessons continue to touch my life and guide me.

Mom would be proud to know that my husband John and I recently published our first children's book. Although we originally set out to write an entertaining story about a boy with school troubles, I soon discovered that John was the victim of a school bully. He had buried the hurt and humiliation deep inside, but as we stepped further into the writing process, the impact of his experience was evident.

My mother's lessons taught me to listen closely to the soft whispers of life. This perspective helped me to realize that a message emerged from our collaboration, beyond the pages of our book. This knowledge changed the direction of our lives.

Our children's book became the basis for an anti-bullying program. The program, filled with stories, songs and practical advice, teaches children about the consequences of bullying and helps to provide a safe and healthy learning environment.

Today, as John and I speak at schools and community events, I pray that our pieces of time sprinkled with pivotal moments serve to help the children. Because now, I understand.

Patricia Gatto and John De Angelis are the authors of MILTON'S DILEMMA, the tale of a lonely boy's magical journey to friendship and self-acceptance. As advocates for literacy and children's rights, the authors speak at schools and community events to foster awareness and provide children with a safe and healthy learning environment. For more information, please visit Joyful Productions at http://www.joyfulproductions.com

Thursday, April 30, 2009

You Call This Normal?

You Call That Normal?
Invest In Your Immunity With This Simple Tip

Last week an old friend of mine and I spoke on the phone. I asked her how she was doing and her response was this: "Well, I am still totally stressed out and get those headaches and am running around a mile a minute, so I feel completely drained. You know, the normal stuff."

Mary HIH MemberI paused and thought to myself that there is nothing normal about getting headaches and feeling drained to the max! However, we have become so accustomed to running our lives at a high impact level that we have fooled ourselves into believing this is "normal". Meanwhile, it appears her body is giving her clear signals that it needs attention in order to function more efficiently.

Basically, here's what is happening. Her body is getting the signal from her heart that there is danger.

Where does this come from?

The emotion she feels. The emotion of perhaps frustration, fear, anxiety, panic... or whatever is going on with her.

So, her heart says to her body, "Danger, danger!" And the immune system jumps into action saying, "We will take care of that. We are not safe. We must fight, fight!" This sure does sound exhausting to me already.

See, the heart does not distinguish the source of the emotion of panic or fear. So, feeling panic and fear could be coming from being chased by a black bear OR your blackberry! The signal is the same to the body to go take action. Quite useful if being chased by a black bear. Not so useful when "being chased" by your blackberry on a daily basis. Imagine what that is continuously doing to your immune system. Not so great. Now we are understanding more about those headaches and seriously drained feeling.

The good news is this: Our heart gives us a way to manage stress on the spot.
And remember, stress is not, for the most part, a circumstance, but our internal response to a situation, so we have a choice.

So, next time you can catch yourself going into panic or anxiety mode, try this:
  • Focus on the area in and around your heart.
  • Breathe an even inhale and exhale through that heart space... as if the heart was breathing. Sometimes it is easiest to count to 6 or 8 on each inhale and exhale to create an even pattern.
  • Stay in that space for 2-3 minutes.
  • Check in with how you feel.
  • Chances are that you have neutralized that feeling, even if only momentarily.
Congratulations. You have taken the first step to managing stress in your life from a scientifically proven perspective. Now imagine for a moment being so aware of this on a daily basis so that you live your life this way. Ahh, now that sounds appealing. And believe me, from personal experience, your immune system will thank you.

With love,

Stay tuned to find out more about my proven strategies to understanding stress from a physiological perspective and learn to truly improve your body's state of health and your relationships. And no surprise to anyone who knows me... yes this directly involves the heart. But when doesn't it?

Friday, April 24, 2009

It Takes A Village!

The Color Red by Barbara Kingsolver
A person's Stature Can Rise By Giving More While Having Less

Tribeswomen in Red"Red is my color," I used to say. Just because I liked it best, I owned it. How many other things have I claimed as mine so easily? Whistling and sunshine, life and liberty. Things that can be lost. For most of us, life presents itself as a steady progress toward owning more, but having less. Vision, acuity, even walking-one bad fall taught me that was only a gift on loan.Then my broken leg healed and walking was mine again.

Photo by Wendy Peskin/Heifer International

But getting older means the breaks will come harder. I know this. I'm a professional observer, reporting on that inevitable human progress: the endless hungers for more, the having less. I see how age and loss can bring a temptation to hold harder to the privileges that remain. The customs of hoarding happiness infect every culture, as the powerful find ways to bar the weak or the young. I want to believe the cycle can be broken. I want to get old and give things away.

"Red is my color," I used to say and never will again, because of a beautiful, spirited girl named Menuka Poudel. We met in a village in lowland Nepal where red was everywhere: in flowering hedges, women's saris, and the teeka powder that dusts their hair and dots their foreheads as the symbol of marriage. I was there on a ceremonial day, so poinsettias in jars lined the dusty road, blazing against the mud-brick houses. I wore a red bandanna against the fierce lowland sun. I'd come as a journalist investigating women's development projects. This trip marked my 25th anniversary as a professional writer, and I felt shadowed by the girl I used to be, the one who took up her pen believing people would behave humanely if only they knew the whole story.

Since then I've crossed continents for those stories, breaking bones along the way, wearing out youthful hopes and most of my trust in happy outcomes. My current assignment felt likely to restore my optimism or put nails in its coffin. I'd been told that in this nation racked by a decade of armed insurrection, one international development agency had kept working where others could not. Its programs had improved the lives of more than 20,000 families. Even in the best of times, human kindness is fragile. How could it weather ten years of war?

If Menuka had the answer, I was listening. As we waited for the day's ceremony to begin, she chatted eagerly, establishing that we had the same favorite color. We both have young daughters. She married at 16 and moved in with her husband's family. "I imagined my husband and I would be the two wheels of a cart," she said, but five years later, when she was pregnant with their third child, her husband died. "My mother-in-law made me wash the teeka from my hair, and told me that as a widow I could never wear red again. No bright colors."

Widows here don't remarry. A husband's death is the next thing to it for his wife. Her community sees her as bad luck; drab clothing broadcasts her shame. For widows like Menuka, it also broadcasts vulnerability and the risk of sexual assault. Nevertheless, at 21 she adjusted to a lifetime without color. "My life was ended."

I know no other way to be alive than to keep listening, even to stories as sad as this. But should I stop hoping that somewhere the story will be different? The people of Menuka's village are seasonal agricultural workers, joined by the common ground of poverty. They have no doors that lock, hardly a possession beyond the handfuls of rice stirred into each day's meal. And still they could find a way to divide themselves into haves and have-nots. Married women ostracized widows. High-caste families still spurned those of lower caste. Before meeting Menuka, I'd talked with an elderly widow named Dhana Bishow-Karma, an "untouchable." She never let her shadow fall on anyone. In shops, she paid by tossing rupees without touching the owners' hands.

I'd touched the old woman's arm as I listened, wishing to prove this system that binds her is nonexistent where I come from. But I know better. I started school in a racially segregated first grade. In my country our poorest youth disproportionately inhabit our prisons and our wars. Schoolchildren scramble for classroom supplies while luxury accumulates around corporate heads. If we had no other currency for privilege, I'm sure that we, too, would make rules about shadows, and hoard color.

During the long drive to this village, I'd discussed my doubts with a Nepali staff member from Heifer International, the development organization that had worked here through roadblocks and revolution. Its mission is to train communities to become self-reliant through raising livestock or other means. Yes, she agreed, bridging that gap between rich and poor is complex. Material support alone-simply having more-is not the answer. "It won't really change the situation unless people have changed themselves," she said. "I value Heifer for addressing mental poverty. Mostly that comes from the women coming together in meetings, working on goals."

But how does "mental poverty" end when new entitlements seem to create new needs? Two nights earlier, in Kathmandu, I watched an American tourist complain scornfully about our hotel. Privilege begets privilege. That very morning I had tied a red scarf on my head without a thought. Now my scalp burned as I listened to Menuka explaining how she'd lost that color forever.

When Menuka's husband died, her bereft mother-in-law began attending meetings of the Milan Mahila Samuha, or Women's Togetherness Group. With guidance from the Heifer development staff, they devised a livelihood-improvement plan. They would raise meat goats. The first women to receive the animals pledged to pass some of their goats' offspring to other members, renewing the cycle until every villager had a source of income.

This was the story that had intrigued me: how did Heifer outlast the storms of war? The trick was to create material assistance from inside a village itself, rather than from far away. I wanted to believe it could work, but had to ask: Would some cheat? Don't lower-caste families get left out? I hated my skepticism, but that was the question I'd asked Bishow-Karma. "I am the lowest of untouchables," she said, "so of course I was afraid to go to a meeting, at first. Where would I sit? But the women who helped organize us were very open-minded about untouchable people. They spoke right to me! And little by little, high-caste women would share their feelings and even take food together with me. This was beyond my imagination. We had a long talk about spiritual values that stayed on my mind afterward. I thought, 'Maybe that's why the others are nice to me.' "

She'd been surprised to learn someone in the group would give her animals she could raise, earning the first income in her life. More surprising was the idea that she would eventually pass on that favor to another. "I had given away some vegetables once, but never a big thing. This was a new idea for me. It gave me new energy for living."

Menuka's mother-in-law also found herself energized by the workshops, as first they tackled sanitation and nutrition, then gender and caste. She decided Menuka should come to meetings, too. "The discussions made us start thinking about how women treat other women," Menuka said. "The fact that widows carry shame. It's women who make their daughters follow these rules." Her mother-in-law agreed. Talking about unspeakable things had caused her to think about what was hers, to keep or to let go. "Girls wear bright colors and bangles before they get married," she reasoned. "So being happy is not just a privilege of marriage. My son is dead. But my daughter-in-law is not."

Menuka was every inch alive as we sat waiting for the Women's Togetherness ceremony to begin. Fourteen women who'd earned income from their goats would now pass on the offspring to newer members. The donors wore red saris; the new initiates wore lavender. The whole village had turned out. I felt hope rise, and soon was crying like a child, because Dhana Bishow-Karma, whose old untouchable hand I'd wanted to hold, was now standing, throwing her shadow over everyone, holding her gift: a lop-eared goat wearing a necklace of marigolds. She walked toward her chosen recipient, another poor widow belonging to the highest caste in the village. Last year Bishow-Karma couldn't have entered the woman's home. Today she gave her good fortune. In the embrace of two old women holding each other, I saw the architecture of human grace. How astonishingly simple: mental poverty ends this way. A person's status can change, not by receiving but by giving.

If life is a march toward owning more and having less, it can also walk backward in its tracks, creating riots of inexplicable compassion, spinning straw into gold. It can change the rules, and dance. Menuka now stood up with her mother-in-law. The other mothers came forward with a plate piled with red teeka powder, the adornment forbidden to widows. By the handful they scooped up the color red giving it back to this daughter, rubbing it onto the crown of her head, covering her hair and face in a cloud of vermilion. She fell backward as the older women passed her from hand to hand, wrapping her in a red shawl. They had made a decision: Menuka should walk forward into her life, wearing color. Tears streaked scarlet tracks down her powdered cheeks. Schoolgirls and mothers cried for her joy, which was also theirs.

Now Menuka thinks her mother-in-law should wear red, too. Young people will change, she says, when the older ones do. As the crowd walked home, I took off my scarf and gave it to a girl who'd been eyeing it. Red isn't mine-for what on earth can be owned that hasn't been given away? The poinsettias wilted, and the village looked ordinary again. But untouchables had been touched. A widow danced barefoot in a red shawl. Today, in this place on earth, there was enough.

With love,

Barbara Kingsolver's 12 books of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction have won numerous awards, including the National Humanities Medal.
This article is courtesy of AARP Online Magazine April 24, 2009.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Change A Life In A Heartbeat

(Photo Credit: Fyera! and The Institute of HeartMath)

I sat in on a class this week that discussed the amount of time it takes to beat stress in our lives. Turns out, as you probably already know, a single heartbeat. Literally though.

It takes just a single heartbeat to begin to bring us more into what is termed as a coherent heart rhythm. From this place of coherence we can make better decisions in our life that feel aligned to us because they come from the heart. And the signals of our own hearts recognize truth.

If, for any reason, you feel at a distance from your heart right now, try this:

Point to yourself. Go on, point to yourself as if you are referring to you
to someone else.

Where did you point? Chances are it was not to your earlobe, forehead or feet. It was probably to your heart. So, your body intuitively points to the heart when referring to itself. Interesting, eh? So, perhaps you are not as far away from your heart as you "thought".

This week I had a doozie of an experience in the drugstore that proved to me, once again, the power of the heart and its instinctive healing powers.

I was standing in line at the checkout behind a woman probably in her early 50's who pulled out a baggie of change to pay for her $8.18 worth of tissue, etc. I could tell she was feeling timid about the baggie, but I was completely fine and did not think a thing of it. She was a bit shaky while counting the change and fumbling the money, so I piped in by telling her gently that she could take her time and that I was in no hurry. The cashier then caught on and immediately began to help the woman count the change, and in fact, told the woman she would take care of the counting for her.

The woman turned to me and said, "I'm sorry. I just got laid off a month ago, and now I am using my spare change to pay for things". I remained very, very soft with my energy and told her again that it was OK and that I was in no hurry. She seemed a bit shocked that I was not being impatient with her.

Then I intuitively said to her, "See, this is a perfect example how we can all take care of each other. I am a patient customer in line and the cashier is counting your money for you. This is how we should take care of each other all the time".

The look on her face indicated that I had hit her with a stun gun, but in a good way if that makes sense.
I could tell from her double take of me right then that she was truly taken back and touched by the interaction.

Then she was gone. The transaction ended and she left the store feeling better, I imagine, than when she came in. We both saw the power of the human spirit in action.

What she doesn't realize is how she impacted me. I saw every ounce of the fragility and beauty of life in that moment and felt such compassion for her from my heart. And the best part is that it had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with my choice to simply "be" in that coherent heart rhythm so that I could provide space for this woman to possibly feel better.

Can you imagine if I would have been frustrated in line? I can barely comprehend it because of how genuinely sweet and raw she was in that moment. It would not have served either one of us. And she probably would have thought my frustration had to do with her because she was already feeling somewhat down. And in reality, it would have had nothing to do with her, but perhaps the car on the street 5 minutes before that did not signal. What a mess in the making that was completely avoided by a simple choice: to be present.

May you have a lovely Holiday weekend.
Be kind to yourself...and others.

With love,

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Just When You Think You Have Heard It All!

There is one flood out there in the world right now that should not be contained. The Flood sister flow, that is. I feel so fortunate to have happened upon one of these special sisters on Facebook. She wrote me there telling me that she and her sisters were featured on Daryn Kagan's site (which by the way is SPECTACULAR. Check it out for sure. Daryn interviewed me when HIH had just launched back in December 07). So, I immediately became her friend on Facebook Come to find out, she has THIS story:
(Have a seat for this one, folks. Its a doozie!) Talk about paying love forward...WOW!

Jennifer was sitting at her desk one day thinking that she had not spoken to her father recently. He had been diagnosed with chronic renal failure just a couple months prior. The phone of course rang right after this and it was her sister telling Jennifer that their Dad was not well at all and was on a waiting list in New York for a kidney. Unfortunately, none of the family members were a match for him.

Something awoke inside Jennifer in that moment and she knew she needed to do something to help her father since the waiting list was 2-5 years and her father only had months to live. Since she had worked as a nurse 5 years prior to changing careers, she knew that neither dialysis nor waiting for a kidney from the list were viable options for him at that point. Basically, she could not live with the fact of knowing that she did NOT try to save his life when she had worked in the profession since that is what nurses do. They respond to medical situations and act upon them in the hope of saving a life.
So, that is exactly what Jennifer and her sisters did.

And like any other person who needs something out there in the world, she put an ad out on Craigslist for a donor. Yes, CRAIGSLIST! The same place I have bought and sold televisions and home furnishings in the past. Told you it was a good story. :)

Many people contacted the girls about donation. Some were scams, others weren't genuine donors or had medical issues of sorts. But there was one woman, who had never used Craigslist before I might add, who felt called to check it out back in May 2008....all the way out in California. (The Floods were in NY).
She just wanted to really give back (or I would say forward) after experiencing a death in
her life.

And before anyone could talk her out of it, a woman named Dawn Verdick flew to NY and started the testing process. Turns out she was a perfect match and she scheduled the surgery for December 2008 to give her kidney to a total stranger. WOW-WEE!

The surgery was a complete success and both Dawn and Jennifer's father, Dan, are doing great! Dawn insists she is not a hero or extraordinary. She is simply someone who was hungry to make a difference in the world.

So much good has come from the entire experience for everyone. Dan Flood is healthy, Dawn made a difference (uh, a big one!) and the Flood Sisters have started their own organization to help other families find desperately needed organs for their loved one.

I was thinking of inserting a statement here about not giving up. But I think the story speaks for itself....
in every way, shape and form.

Craigslist?? Proof that anything is possible with desire, faith and action.

With love,

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Puppy Moment

Ashton Kutcher recently released a video on his fan page telling the story of a woman's experience during the Holocaust. She and her little brother boarded a train as they were told to do. Her brother lost his shoes somehow and she continuously called him stupid throughout the trip. Well, turns out they were taken to Auschwitz and her brother did not survive. The last thing the woman said to her brother was that he was so stupid.

From that moment on the woman vowed to herself that everything she said would have the value of the last words she ever spoke to someone. Now that is powerful.

Two very different things come to mind when reflecting on this deep, intense story. Most obviously for me is the fact that had she known she was going to lose her brother and be saying her last words to him, she clearly would have been more compassionate and kind. This is an enormous and raw reminder to us all that the small stuff really does not matter in the end, and what matters is how responsible we are in every moment to love both ourselves and others to the fullest. This story is a clear representation that hammers this home.

Secondly, I am struck by the woman's self responsibility from that moment on. Yes, it is our duty to stay aware of ourselves and others. At the same time, we are human and make errors in our moments of unconsciousness. These moments give us a choice. We can choose to learn and grow from these experiences and perceive them as opportunities to advance further as responsible humans, or we can dwell on and identify with our mistakes and paralyze ourselves with guilt and fear. The latter in my opinion is not productive to anyone, whether it be yourself or others around you. This woman teaches us the value of self forgiveness by taking a mistake and turning it into the greatest reminder to all of us every day.

When I was extremely ill many years ago, I found myself really beating myself up for not being able to figure out what was happening to me (which in retrospect was exactly what triggered the illness in the first place!) I began obsessively reading meditation books, searching deeply for some answer to heal me. One night I came across a meditation in one of Stephen Levine's books. He encouraged the reader (me) to imagine a little puppy inside myself. This was actually perfect for me because I was so "outside myself" at the time, any human association or inner child comparison would not have worked. But the puppy was great. Anyway, he asked us to reflect on how we would treat that puppy inside us. Would we beat and kick at the puppy and starve it of love and food? Or would we treat the puppy with great tenderness, caring for its every need and loving it every second. I immediately burst into tears. I got it. I had been treating the "puppy" so poorly and neglecting it to almost a state of death. I grieved for a while out of tremendous guilt at how I had been treating myself with my own damaging thoughts and had extreme regret for things I did not even realize until that moment that I had been thinking about myself.

Then came the choice. I could continue to feel guilty and terrible for my past mistakes or take full responsibility in that moment for now treating "the puppy" with devoted love, respect and care so the "puppy" could truly heal from the inside out. I chose love. And because I am where I am in my life today, I encourage you to do the same.

Treat your "inner puppy" with kindness and compassion. Forgive yourself of past mistakes. Take responsibility for yourself and your life right now, in this moment because....YOU CAN.

With love,

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Learn From This 12 Year Old!

Well folks, what I can tell you is that you are in for SUCH a treat this week! I've recently been back in touch with some high school friends through Facebook (of course). One friend, Keith Cendrick, CLEARLY has a special daughter named Rachel. This dynamite 12 year old, as you are about to witness, has not only a heart of gold but a global vision that we all should take note of in our lives. I am so proud to know that the future leaders of our country are young women like Rachel. Her message inspired me to the greatest degree and is completely aligned with the HIH purpose to pay love forward....one heart at a time.

We are reminded by Rachel that the simplest gesture of love can have the greatest impact on the life of another. Rachel is featured here (in the middle) with her brother and sister.

"Pass It On" by Rachel Cendrick

I was walking along when I noticed a girl who no one seemed to see.
She was alone, and I was with friends when she shyly looked up at me.

Her shoulders were drooping, and her eyes looked sad;
So I stopped to talk to her, even though I never had.

I told her she looked pretty and gave her a hug,

And a small sweet smile appeared as she shrugged.

She looked down at the floor and slowly walked away.

I guess she didn't know what to say.

Later that day, I saw her again,

And I held the door to be a nice friend.

She smiled even bigger this time than before

And said very happily, "Thanks for holding the door!"

The next day at school when I saw her walk by,

She walked a little taller and wasn't so shy.

She waited for me at the door to our class.

"How's your day?" she quietly asked.

Her hair was curled cute, and she had pulled it up high.

"Come find me," I said, "when we go play outside."

At recess that day we played with my friends,
And for the first time she felt like she finally fit in.

A new girl came to school the very next day,
And my shy friend did something that blew me away.

She went up to the new girl with a hug and a smile.
"Welcome to school. You can hang with me for a while."

One act of kindness day by day

Slowly changes the world in a special way.

If you show love to someone, then they can show love, too.
Because everyone should feel loved-- no matter who!

Superheroes are great; they're fun to pretend.

But to be a real hero, just be a friend!

Although Rachel is currently in the 7th grade, she wrote this poem as a 6th grader at her elementary school where she was an "A" honor roll student as well as student body president. Rachel loves singing, dancing, acting and playing the piano. Her favorite roll was as the "The Cat in the Hat" in Seussical the Musical where she was able to do all 4 of her favorite activities! Rachel is also involved at her church where she often speaks to kids and adults about her life-changing experiences on the youth's mission trip. Rachel loves time with her family, playing games, going on trips and just "chilling" at home.

With Love,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Generosity Of The Spirit

Happy March!
I want to share with you a tale about generosity of the spirit this week. I found this short story in Ode Magazine. It is told by a man named Yasser Hareb, Vice President for Culture of the United Arab Emirates. This is a story from his region. I think you will find it as profound as I did. What a gem.

A man knocked on his friend's door to ask him a favor. "I want you to lend me 4,000 dinars because I have a debt to pay. Can you do that for me?"
The friend asked his wife to gather together everything they had of value, but even so it was not enough. They had to go out and borrow money from the neighbors until they managed to get the full amount.
When the man left, the woman noticed her husband was crying. "Why are you sad? Now that we've gotten ourselves in debt with our neighbors, are you afraid we won't be able to repay them?" she asked gently.
"Nothing of the sort," he said. "I'm crying because he is someone I like so much, but even so I had no idea he was in need. I only remembered him when he had to knock on the door to ask me for a loan."

With love,

Monday, March 2, 2009

Will Spin For Dough!

The moola kinda dough, that is!
Hey, Sahara here! And I am participating in YAS's (Yoga and Spinning in Venice) annual Spin-A-Thon on March 29th to raise money for the Women's Sports Foundation (created by Billie Jean King in 1974).

Anyhoo, the deal is:
Each bike is supposed to gather $1,000.00 at least in sponsorship to
support the foundation.

Well, I immediately knew I could double that right off the bat...and
here's why. Because all I need to do is get 200 people to donate
$10.00 each. NO BRAINER!! That's like money you find in the laundry! You don't even have to skip that Starbuck's for this one. (I am sure many amongst you are relieved to hear that).

So, let's do it! Oh, and most of you don't know my spinning
history...because I do have one, you know.

The first time I spun was with my partner Anne. She and I were "new"
to each other and she invited me down to LA for a visit. She was so
excited to introduce me to her spin teacher and perhaps "show off her
new girl" a bit. Yeah, well that MAY have been a mistake....
Read on.

I proceeded to flip over the handle bars in the class...not just once
FOR CRYING OUT LOUD! I literally landed on the ground in front of me 2 times.
I was going too fast without enough resistance on the bike. So when
they had us stand up on our bikes, my foot would clip out and I literally
went flying. Literally.

Anne is horrified to this day that I even mention the experience to
anyone, let alone broadcast it out to the world.
But it really happened. And mind you, I am quite athletically
inclined and grew up playing all kinds of sports. So, this really was
a shocker. A funny one at that. No, I did not hurt myself,
luckily...and its a miracle Anne still chose to be with me after a
maneuver like that.

So, several years later, I am comfortable that I can stay on the bike
for the 3 hour spin to raise money to help other girls have the chance
to excel in sports, feel good about themselves, stay focused and have
a great ole time.

When you go to the donation page, you MUST put my name is as the rider
you are sponsoring so they can keep track of the amount as it grows.
That's Sahara Damore.


Again, the Spin A Thon is Sunday, March 29th from 1-4pm.
Location: YAS in Venice, California

If you are around that day and live in the area, stop by and cheer me on. You will notice that my shoes are super glued to the pedals! wink wink. I would say
the story is humiliating...but I think its so way beyond that...that I
just have to laugh. And do! :)

10 Bucks to make a great difference. I say YES!

PLEASE pass this forward to others whom you feel would participate in
this wildly fun campaign to support young women.

One more thing: Do it now. I have read in the "just do it for pete's
sake" type books that if it takes less than 2 minutes, do it NOW.
It's actually been a great tool that I have used for several years.

Lots of love....

Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Monumental Day!

In the spirit of Heart Awareness month, I now want to share with you Part 2 of the internal kind of awareness of the heart between mother and son. Jordan and Lyle completely represent the energy and full capacity of the power of the heart. Their journey will touch you. It sure did me. Thanks for your emails saying you could not wait for this week's conclusion! Enjoy.

From February 27, 2008

Today, ladies and gentlemen, something absolutely monumental took place at Chez Wonderwheel!

As you may know, my little guy has been having all sorts of separation issues lately, and you'll recall that I gave him the lovely glass heart to hang onto when I'm at work.

Words cannot do justice to the difference that heart has made. He separates in the morning without tears, he brings it to preschool and hides it in his cubby. He sleeps with it under his pillow. At night, when each of the boys picks a song "theme" for me to sing to them (I improvise a song based on their theme of choice to the same tune every night), he has been asking me to sing a song about "heart". (Baxter? "Pokemon.")

The heart seemed to set the stage for his successful participation in Advanced Separation 301, allowing me an unheard of transition in and out of our home when I went to both Minneapolis and San Francisco last week. Truly, it was a breeze - Lyle was perfectly happy while I was away both times and did not even make me pay for my absence upon my return! This is nothing short of miraculous.

But all of that - all of it - was a drop in the bucket compared to today. Because this boy, this child who has been completely unable to take a nap on the days we're home together (Tues/Thurs) for many months now - despite the fact that he'll nap 2-3 hours for everyone else - declared during lunch that he was tired and ready to nap as if it were the most natural thing in the world. As if separating from me by slipping into unconsciousness for a couple of hours wasn't a horrifying thought all of a sudden!

Furthermore, he willingly napped even when I explained that, due to the late start of this unexpected nap, I would have to leave the house soon to pick up his brother at school. This meant that I was going to have to leave the child monitor with our (very familiar) neighbor across the hall. He was cool with this. I showed him how, when he woke up, if I didn't come down when he called, he was to talk into the monitor and tell the neighbor he was awake because it meant I wasn't home yet. And still - he remained unfazed. He thought this was peachy keen, and hoped he'd get to go play with her daughter and maybe pet the cats.


So wait - not only would he separate from me and take a nap, but it was actually okay with him if I left the house during his nap and left him in the care of a neighbor, knowing that I may or may not be here when he woke up?!

Oh. my. God.

I tucked him in with the monitor close by and heart #55 resting in his sweet little hand, and walked carefully upstairs, sitting stock still on the couch for 10 minutes and steeling myself for the sound of his feet pounding upstairs after me, realizing he wanted to come with me to get his brother, or that he would miss me too much, didn't want a nap after all.

But he did it. He fell asleep. A deep sleep that lasted until I came home with Baxter, whose pounding feet woke him. But I didn't care. Because he slept for TWO HOURS! On my watch!

There's something to be said for a child's positive experience of being without mama for a few days and realizing that everything is still okay. She calls, she brings presents, and she always comes back.

I'm going out of town more often. That's all there is to it.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Nothin' Like Momma's Heart

In the spirit of Heart Awareness month, I want to share with you Part 1 of an internal kind of awareness of the heart between mother and son. Jordan and Lyle completely represent the energy and full capacity of the power of the heart. Their journey will touch you. It sure did me. Wait until you get the follow up next week!

From February 7, 2008

My little one, my Lyle, hss been struggling lately with big, challenging emotions that he doesn't always know how to express, despite his many words. It's easy to be loud, he's discovered, loud and bossy and angry; not so easy to say, "Mommy, I miss you. I'm sad when you to go to work. Please stay home and play with me."

I chatted with my wonderful friend Kristen about this sad subject a few nights ago, and she (as you'd expect if you know her) was full of fantastic ideas, many of which I know I've heard before (and even suggested to others!) but needed to hear again myself at this very moment in time, about this very child. I'm so grateful that she took the time to help me with this when I needed it.

And so along came this morning. Lyle has been reading Dinofours books like they're going out of style (which is technically the case - they're out of print but you can still buy them used for really cheap on amazon!) and is subsequently finding the language to share his sad feelings with me far more readily than he has with any other strategy I've tried. So today he approached me, took me by the hand and bravely said, "Mommy, don't go to work yet. I want to play with you some more." And cried.

Now, to many of you, this probably seems heart-breaking. To me, it's just a little bit heart-warming, but only because I've been waiting for him to open up and say what's in his little heart, rather than showing me through unpleasant behaviors that only left me guessing.

I immediately employed two new strategies. First, I asked him if he'd like to call me on the phone after lunch so that we could talk to each other. His little eyes lit right up through his tears and he said, "Yes!" So I arranged this with the babysitter.

But then I suggested that I could also give him something special of mine to hold today when he's missing me. Now this idea he LOVED. "What is it?" he asked, following me to my bedroom as I searched the top of my dresser (didn't I used to have some shells or special rocks up there?). "Oh, it's really, really special," I replied with excitement, as I came up empty-handed and tried to hide my worry.

And then it hit me: the HEART! My Heart is Hot heart! Didn't I say I felt it was almost time to pass it along to someone, but I didn't know who it was for?

It was for Lyle. Of course it was.

Child of my heart.

Child who wants to be with me every moment of every day and night, who carries around a sadness under the surface so much of the time because I'm either not going to be with him later, or wasn't home earlier in the day, or might not show up in his dreams that night.

I gave Lyle my heart.

I filled it with hugs and kisses and all my Mama love, and then handed it to him before I left with instructions to hold onto it when he was missing me.

For the first time in a few weeks, there were no tears when I left the house. He held the pretty glass heart all day long. It sat next to him at every meal, and was under his pillow as he napped. It was in his hands when I came home from work early due to a snowstorm, and he continued to hold onto it as we read books and played cars together all afternoon. "I love my heart," he told me before bed, "it's so pretty. And it has even more than your hugs and kisses in it. It has all these little red things!", noting the flecks of color inside.

"That's all my love, sweetie. That part is the love."


To read more of Jordan's life journey, check out her blog here.

With love,