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Friday, May 27, 2011

Manifesting Miracles & Missing the Moment

By now, most people have either read the book, watched the movie, or at least heard and talked about the phenomenon of "The Secret". It made quite a sensation and perhaps raised the awareness level on a lot of issues. One of the basic principles for those following it is that you can manifest your desires, or create what you want in life, by focusing on having it. In my opinion, it encouraged people to focus on acquiring material things. Let's face it- if the genie came out of the bottle in front of you and you had your three wishes, most likely, at least one of those wishes, would be pretty material in nature- like money for instance! I'm not sure that's really the point. In "The Secret" you are encouraged to create a vision board and you place pictures of the things that you want to bring into your life on that board, focus on the board and bring those things into being. I'm sure this has worked for a lot of people and their lives are enriched because of it. It must have worked for many judging by the popularity of sequel books, and related merchandise. However, I do see, what for me at least, is a bit of a flaw in the process.

I think if you have spent so much time imagining the outcome, when it appears in front of you, you miss the miracle of it all. You start taking it for granted and just expecting it to show up, and I think that's sad. To me it takes a lot of the "ah ha moments" and awe out of the journey. For instance, I envisioned my children's book on the shelf in a major bookstore. It was quite a dream and I focused on it for sure. When I actually saw them there I didn't have the sense of "wow"- that I thought I would- I'd already seen the picture in my mind so it didn't feel like such a big deal. I cheated myself of the moment a bit.

I think a classic example of this is graduation day. And it's that time of year. Whatever it is you are graduating from, it is usually quite an anticipated event, both for the person graduating and the loved ones that have struggled in tandem along the way. Since the day you entered the program the goal has been to finish. A lot of effort, talk, and visualization has gone into that moment. And yet, when it comes, it often feels like "just another day". There is almost a let down feeling. You placed so much emphasis on that moment, you've lived the anticipation of the moment so often, that when it happens it's anticlimactic. You've cheated yourself out of the moment in a way because you've practiced the feeling so much. You miss the miracle. Sometimes you miss it because you're already focusing on the next goal, the next desire, the next wish. Now you're imagining the job you want, the first year of University, what you can buy with your first paycheck, what you can do with your free time now that you don't have to turn in a paper or study for the exam. You forget to be the glorious miracle moment you manifested!

I was having coffee with Wise Woman the other day and I was complaining about the lack of outward evidence of inward change. I'm always wanting the miracle moments. I want to be awed by something I can't even imagine. She calls it "looking for the burning bush" and laughs at me because she claims the burning bushes are all around me. On the way back to our cars, the subject had turned to VW beetle cars for some bizarre reason. I was in animated description of one such vehicle we had when I was a kid, when down the alley heading straight towards us, seemingly out of no where, is a burnt orange Volkswagen. Even as I write this now, I realize how amazing that is and how much an example of synchronicity it should be. But I totally missed it. I was already seeing Volkswagen's in my mind. I had moved on to a future thought and I just considered that car as an intrusion in my conversation because I had to move out of the way.

Sometimes the best thing we can do is move out of our own way. Stop trying to create so much that we miss the miracles all around us. Enjoy the moment and feel that exact moment instead of thinking ahead considering how we should change our manifestation to make it even bigger, better, bolder. Stop cheating ourselves of the joy of seeing the results.

The Bach Flower essence Hornbeam may be indicated in these moments. It is usually thought of when you are having trouble focusing on what needs to get done. In an earlier blog, I've posted information about hornbeam. Hornbeam has that ability to help you rebalance though. It can be helpful when you feel you are missing variety in life, when you suffer from a sense of staleness. When miracles and unusual phenomenon and crazy occurrences don't really register, Hornbeam may be indicated. If you're missing the burning bush right in front of you, or the amazing feat of graduation, consider some drops of Hornbeam and enjoy the moment!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Monkey Mind Animal Signs

I am reading a good book these days by Natalie Goldberg called "Wild Mind". Natalie Goldberg also wrote "Writing Down the Bones", another very inspiring book for writers. Wild Mind is a "how to" book for writers, but it also has some information that I think is applicable to everyone.

Goldberg compares the "wild mind" to the "unconscious"- that rather zen like state of just "being". She explains that if you consider wild mind as a huge sky above you and put one dot up there with a magic marker, we as humans, tend to focus only on that dot. Goldberg explains the dot as being what Zen calls "monkey mind", or what western psychology calls the conscious mind.

Monkey mind becomes that voice that is your critique. It runs like a chatter in the background all the time telling you what you can't do, shouldn't do, or should do. It's the voice that prevents you from allowing yourself to let go and let be. Monkey mind is your control mechanism and it often keeps you very controlled. When you pay attention only to the dot, or the monkey mind, you miss a lot of opportunities. You try so hard to focus that you miss the scenery along the way.

Goldberg explains that it's necessary to write from your wild mind, the uninhibited, uncensored being, without listening to the monkey mind that says you aren't good enough, creative enough, or talented enough. That sounds like a good mantra for life in general. It's about living with a tad less focus so that opportunities are allowed to present themselves from our peripheral vision. When we don't focus so much on the monkey mind we allow ourselves to be more in touch with, and to acknowledge, our emotions and authentic selves. The real you is revealed.

We have a common expression of "monkey on your back". The monkey mind can be that rather relentless force that clings and just won't let go no matter how you try and shake it off. It is a burden that refuses to be ignored. You keep focusing back on your faults and shortcomings. You deny yourself free expression and unchecked emotion. You hold yourself back and punish yourself for being you. You force yourself to complete tasks just because somewhere in your mind you're "supposed to", even though you really don't "want to".

This theme is carried through in the significance of having monkeys come into your life, or having them as totem animals. As an animal sign, the monkey is seen as the animal that helps you connect with simplicity and the joy of living. According to Daniel Mapel in "Into the Heart of the Wild", the monkey can help you facilitate acceptance of yourself. The monkey helps nurture playfulness, curiosity and self-expression. Mapel explains that monkeys are a signal to us that we may be out of touch with our basic emotional and physical needs. Sounds like being focused too much on our minds, rather than our body and soul.

So perhaps taking monkey essence can help you let go of your monkey mind, and pay more attention to the lighter side of life. You can become less critical of yourself.

If all that talk of monkeys just sounds like chatter and has you more confused than anything, maybe it's time to just let go of figuring, calculating and trying to sort things out. Connect with your wild mind where anything can happen and you can be anything you want. Let yourself go unchecked for a bit and see what comes up and appears for you.

Who knows, maybe if you don't focus on that monkey mind dot, you'll be able to see a whole grove of banana trees!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Waning Moon and the Sixth Chakra

According to my We'Moon book, today marks the waning half moon in Pisces. We often focus on the powers of the full moon, but don't pay as much attention to the other, equally significant, phases.

A few weeks ago, I posted on the significance of a waxing moon and its' connection to the third chakra Since then we have moved through the full moon on the 17th and are now in the waning phase as we approach the New Moon on June 1. In the Northern Hemisphere, this means we see the moon decreasing in size as the shadow moves from right to left. Today's picture is a waning moon from the Northern Hemisphere perspective.

While the waxing moon is about bringing things to you, the waning moon is about letting go of things. This is a phase when you can release what you don't want in your life.

Most of us find it hard to "let go". We hold on to people, possessions, beliefs, and behavior patterns way past the "expiry date" for recommended use. It occurs to me that a lot of people in the world are having to let go whether they want to or not. Due to flooding, forest fires, tornadoes, and volcanic eruptions, all in the past couple of weeks, many people have been forced from their homes, have had their plans disrupted and are having to settle into new patterns of being. Perhaps those of us that haven't been so directly affected, can learn from these examples and consider what we should be voluntarily letting go of.

This is where the sixth chakra comes in. The sixth chakra resonates with the waning moon. This third eye chakra, is focused on intuition and true awareness. When we are balanced and receptive to this energy center we understand our true path and are able to go with the flow, unimpeded by concerns of what others might think, or how we might be affected in a material sense. When we truly let our sixth chakra guide us, we seem to be psychically in tune and end up in the right place at the right time, doing the right things. If we listen to this energy center we know what is really right for us. We understand what we should let go of to be on our path.It is the sixth chakra that directs you to go back and turn off that iron you left on, or not to get on the plane you are booked for, or not to go to work the day the bomb explodes in the office. It is our guiding center and quite often we overide it with thoughts from our mind, old patterns and accepted behaviors.

One of the Bach flower essences that resonates with the sixth chakra is Walnut. It makes sense to tune in to Walnut during the waning moon. Walnut provides protection from change and helps us stay balanced through changing times and a shifting planet. Once you have identified what patterns, beliefs, or circumstances you want to let go of, Walnut can help you make that transition.

The waning moon is a good time to clean out the closets of your mind as well as the closets in your house. Look on the top shelves and see what you might have tucked away. If it no longer serves your purpose, toss it out. All that space frees you up for new adventure and new meaning. It seems as though we are traveling on a slightly different path these days as the universe shifts and readjusts. It's always easier to travel if you aren't bogged down with extra baggage.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Travel Sickness: Alternative Help

I've been in travel mode the past little while and therefore have been watching others traveling as well. Some people do it better than others. With the first day of sunshine and blue sky we've seen in awhile, I'm also reminded that it is tourist travel time as school starts to wind down and summer begins. In my part of the world, that means people sign up for boat tours and ferry crossings. Many families pack cars and R.V's for adventure. If however, your stomach, or even worse another family members' stomach, doesn't hold up well to this sense of adventure- read on. There are alternative therapies for motion or travel sickness.

From the homeopathic world, Nux Vomica is the remedy to first consider for nausea caused by motion sickness. The remedy is derived from the Quaker button plant. As with many homeopathic remedies, the plant itself is poisonous. The plant is sometimes referred to as the vomiting nut. For the preparation, seeds of the plant are ground into a powder and the mixture is successed and diluted.

People that typically benefit from nux vomica are often pretty intense individuals. They tend to come from the workaholic clan and believe in working hard and partying hard. They tend to overdo things. This can be translated into their vacation plans. They may insist on long adventures that take people past the point of comfort. They have been known to indulge in rich or unfamiliar food, often drink lots of coffee and alcohol, and can become so wound up they find it difficult to sleep. If your personality type matches with that of the nux vomica description, this remedy may be helpful for a number of complaints including bachache,influenza or colds, coughs, sore throat, headache and any number of gastrointestional symptoms. Even if the personality type is not an exact match, you may find the remedy helpful for the symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and light-headedness that are typical of motion sickness.

Nux Vomica can be helpful for the constant nausea of travel sickness as well as nausea that progresses to vomiting. The nausea may be accompanied by a faint feeling. The vomiting is often worse due to over-eating and is often described as feeling like food poisoning. As well as being known as a cure for travel sickness, Nux Vomica is also often referred to as the "hangover cure" and can be helpful for such symptoms of over-indulgence.

Nux Vomica is sometimes sold under the name colubrina. It's a great remedy to have in your first aid kit and your travel bag. Nux Vomica is taken in the typical fashion of any homeopathic. For more information on this check out an earlier blog post at

From the Bach Flower essence collection, Scleranthus may be helpful for travel sickness complaints. Bach flowers are not matched to physical signs and symptoms the way homeopathic preparations are, but instead correspond to emotions. There is however, often, maybe always, a link between emotions and physical complaints. Scleranthus is indicated for people that are feeling indecisive, uncertain, and can't choose between two things. Scleranthus is indicated when you are out of balance, and travel sickness is typically caused by those issues of imbalance. People are often out of their comfort zone when traveling. In fact, the point of travel is often to experience change and adventure. Sometimes that type of change is difficult to manage and you may find yourself unable to figure out whether you are actually hungry or not, what you want to eat or drink, whether you should be sleeping or driving, or taking the plane or the boat. These swinging emotions can affect your stomach to the point of feeling nauseated. For this type of complaint, Scleranthus may be helpful. It can bring you back to a sense of poise and balance where you are able to make decisions, stand firmly on your feet and stop the swinging motion of the waves! For more information on Scleranthus, check out the earlier post

Finally, there is yet another alternative for travel sickness: wrist bands. I was first introduced to these bands over fifteen years ago when I was working as a flight medic. There is nothing quite like the enclosed space of a small helicopter bobbing up and down, or twelve hours in a non-pressurized fixed wing craft through some dubious take off and landings, to test the composure of your stomach. A lot of flight personnel considered their wrist bands as standard uniform issue and wore them religiously. These bands are marketed under a number of different names but they pretty much all look alike. They have a stretchy elastic band with a button device on the band. You place the band, according to the instructions provided, on your wrist and the button acts as a acupressure device applying pressure to stop the nerve impulse that suggests your stomach might want to release it's contents. For some brands you are instructed to wear one on each wrist, other companies claim one band is enough. You can find these devices in almost any drug store. They are often in tourist gift shops, particularly those close to ferry crossings or water sports, and always in airports.

None of the above treatments will cause drowsiness, although some will help you sleep better if you want to! None have any side effects, and it is safe to operate machinery when taking any of the above, assuming you have the talent to operate such a device in the first place! Do some experimenting. Find what works for you. Listen to your body and enjoy your holiday!!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Matter of Perception

I am traveling this week and my body does not perceive the clock as accurate and refuses to adjust to the time zone change. I feel a bit like the guy in today's picture.

In this jet lagged state, I got an email joke today from a friend. The joke claims that Barbara Walters, years ago, did a story on gender roles in Afghanistan. One of her observations was that women walked 5 paces behind their husbands. She returned to Kabul after the overthrow of the Taliban regime and discovered women were still walking 5 paces behind their husbands. Apparently, Ms Walters approached one of the Afghani women and asked, 'Why do you now seem happy with an old custom that you once tried so desperately to change?'The woman looked Ms Walters straight in the eyes, and without hesitation said, “Land mines.” The joke was meant as a feminist reflection I'd say- the punch line being that behind every man there is a smart woman.

It was meant in the spirit of a joke and doesn't claim to be accurate. It wasn't sent to be deep or reflective or anything other than light. But today, it made me think.

I took the joke a bit seriously I guess and considered how often in the name of helping, we actually hurt. I'm in an area right now where wild fires have been devastating and thousands of people had to quite literally flee for their lives to outrace the fire. Relief efforts are pouring in. Everyone wants to do something to help and with all good intentions everyone thinks they know what form that help would take. This is our approach to helping others. We rush in to provide what we imagine we would want or need if we were in that situation. Sometimes our perceptions are accurate. Sometimes they aren't.

When we share a common culture, our perceptions are more likely to be accurate I think. I'm not sure we have a clue when we try to rush in with aid to other cultures or try to help people with backgrounds and experiences we really can't imagine.

I get a lot of emails every day from people that are working towards a "cause" of one kind or another. Although I think the people behind the causes are working with the best of intentions and from their hearts, I'm not always sure they are helping. Truly helping someone means you don't impose your beliefs, feelings, culture or preferences on them. It means you ask what they need and listen to the answer. Listening is always the problem! What if they ask for something you can't provide, weren't prepared to provide, or just don't understand? If you really want to help- you provide it anyway. It also means that just because you think something is "broken" - it might not be. You have to ask and listen. You don't assume people want what you do.

If we were really forward thinking on this issue, we might even consider how we rescue and help animals. Apparently there is quite an extreme rescue effort going on at the moment to free a baby eagle in Victoria. A camera was mounted in a tree to record the birthing and care of three babies. It's a web cam so people are watching this in real time and are able to marvel at nature in action. Now the camera is recording evidence that one of the babies is caught in fishing line that the eagle parents used to build the nest. There has been talk of flying in helicopters to attempt a rescue. The latest I heard was that an effort was being launched to provide stabilizing pads so they can drive in a huge crane. The idea is that someone could be lifted up to the nest to free the baby. Meanwhile, both eagle parents are flying around the nest, feeding all 3 of the babies and protecting them. So here's what I'm thinking... has anyone asked the eagles what they want? Maybe they just want people to go away so they can work on freeing that baby themselves? Do they really want a huge crane to go in so humans can go up there with a pair of wire cutters? Maybe, maybe not.

In the Bach flower world, Vine and Vervain personalities are particularly driven to take on causes. This can be a very good thing. If you need someone to lobby for money, supplies, the latest rescue effort- it's a Vervain person you want. If people aren't paying quite enough attention to the cause, bring in a Vine person because they will make sure everyone complies and "gets on board"- like it or not! If the cause is noble, accurate and appropriate- this can be a good thing. When Vervain and Vine people are balanced they are powerful leaders and they really help effect change. When unbalanced though, they can be a bit destructive. Their rescue efforts may cause more harm than good.

I think we all have a bit of the Vervain and Vine personality in us. And that's a good thing. But I also believe we need to make sure we are balanced and helping where help is needed, not because helping feeds a need inside ourselves. I believe, we need to first check our perceptions. We need to listen and accept what we hear. Maybe we also need to reflect on our own motivations a bit.Hmm...

So, just because we might believe it's desirable to walk side by side, or ahead of our husbands- that might not be the case for all women in every situation. And because we might see that walking ahead as an attempt to dominate- maybe that too is not the case.

I'm not suggesting by any means that we not step up to the plate and help others in need. Everywhere you look there are disasters and situations where people need help from others. I'm only suggesting that we make sure we stop for a minute to ask how we can help, listen to the answer, and modify our approach accordingly.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Lunar Beltane

May 17th is a full moon in Scorpio and it's also Lunar Beltane. The Celts celebrated this halfway point between Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice as Lunar Beltane. It signifies the beginning of the summer season.

Beltane was marked by rituals and observances that celebrated the transition from spring to summer. It is considered a time of fertility when crops were nurtured and nourished for growth. Ceremonies were performed to ensure fertility of the crops, herds and people. The Celts lit huge bonfires and focused on purification and focusing the collective consciousness to ensure future abundance.

In ancient folklore, Beltane was considered a time for the faeries. The appearance of flowers and new buds was considered to be evidence of faeries hard at work and this was to be celebrated and appreciated.

The moon in Scorpio is said to give us "attitude and bring out our primal side" according to my We'Moon book. That corresponds well with the spirit of Beltane one would think. It's a time to focus and dig deep for the answers.

It seems like we could all do with a little magic and celebration. The full moon and Beltane sound like a good reason to do so.

It would seem the key to all this is to be clear about what you want to harvest. If you planted such thoughts during the waxing moon you may already be seeing an early harvest.

Traditionally, Beltane is about doing things as a collective, rather than in isolation. Part of the benefit of Celtic ceremony was that it united people towards a common goal- it helped to provide an environment where collective consciousness made sense. I think sometimes we lose site of that in an effort to "protect our own". We see that collective strength during all the natural disasters these days. We see people coming together to help each other, everyone working towards common goals. Sometimes it seems things have to get really bad before we think to reach out as a collective. Maybe it's time to celebrate as a collective as well. Perhaps in areas where things haven't got to the "really bad stage", we can celebrate that and focus positive energy towards global abundance.

If nothing else- gaze at the full moon and know summer has arrived!

Blue Umbrella Monday and the Bach Flower Water Violet

It's Monday- not usually the most popular day of the week for most. For my friend that sees the days as colors, Monday is blue. In my part of the world it is also raining- again. So when you combine Monday with another day of rain it seems that blue takes on a whole other meaning- as in "sad and blue".

I talked before about the joys of rubber boots when it's wet out. If you haven't been following along- check out the earlier post- A good pair of rubber boots might change your whole perspective on the rain. But I should have also mentioned umbrellas! As a kid I remember a lot of fun with umbrellas as well, although they weren't quite as prominent a feature as our boots. In fact, we weren't allowed to play with them a lot because of the old saying, "It's all fun and games until somebody loses an eye"! I never knew anyone that lost an eye due to an umbrella (or any of the other games we were warned about), but apparently it must have happened to someone???

The joys of an umbrella are that it can put you in your own little isolated world where it seems no one can get in unless you want them to. A certain kind of secret protection I guess. That sounds a little bit like the Water Violet type in Bach flowers. Water Violet people are pretty happy to be on their own and are always comfortable in a crowd. An umbrella takes out the crowd factor for sure. In fact, it's difficult to even see who or what else is out there! There are times when there is nothing wrong with isolating yourself from others and a rainy Monday might be a good day to bask in that sense of "aloneness". If you aren't feeling comfortable being alone, Water Violet can help balance that. A few drops of Water Violet might help you feel more sociable so that you are quite comfortable to share your umbrella with someone.

When I was searching for a blue umbrella picture for today's blog, I discovered a whole lot of information on blue umbrellas. It turns out there is a children's novel called "The Blue Umbrella", by Ruskin Bond. In fact, it has been made into a movie. Sounds like a good story. It is set in a small Indian village. The main character is a little girl called Binya, that falls so in love with a blue silk umbrella that she trades a claw necklace for it. The umbrella makes her popular in a village where possessions of any kind are scarce. But, with popularity comes envy it seems. The shopkeeper, envious of Binya's popularity suddenly appears with a red umbrella, round about the time that Binya's umbrella is stolen. The villagers soon discover the shopkeeper has stolen Binya's umbrella and dyed it red. The theft tarnishes his name. It seems in the end all is well though because Binya decides to give her umbrella to the shopkeeper and he gives her a claw necklace on a silver chain in return. I haven't found a copy of the book yet, but I'm going to look- sounds like a great story.

I guess a lesson from the story might be that possessions alone can't bring you popularity. Instead, it's what you do with your possessions that counts. Back to the sharing aspect of the umbrella again. It really is more fun if you can find someone to share your umbrella with.

So,it's Monday, but you can't do the wash because of the rain. (Check out an earlier blog posting to understand that sentence ) Instead of laundry, maybe it is a good day to find a friend to watch the rain with for a bit. Maybe you can find a friend with a blue umbrella. If you're an adult, it seems you can play with an umbrella all you want without having to worry about eyes or the loss of one.

Maybe, you'll be lucky enough to find an umbrella like Mary Poppins! Hers wasn't blue but it sure took her to interesting places. Imagine what she could have done with a colored one!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Animal Signs: The Heron

It's Friday the 13th. There are a lot of things going on in the world with massive flooding and earthquakes, and just a general sense of "unsettledness". In my part of the world, today we saw the sun- or at least some clear sky without rain for the first time in what has been a pretty long stretch. It seemed like the colors were really magnified- super bright dandelions just bursting in bloom, purple violets everywhere I look, and lots of buds almost out on the trees. In the midst of all this spring awakening, I saw a Heron today. In fact, it almost felt like I was being "stalked" by a Heron today so I figure maybe he wanted me to talk about him in my blog.

As a totem animal, the Heron signifies self determination and self reliance. It is said that the appearance of a blue heron is a symbol to follow your own unique wisdom and self-determination. The heron is about following your heart and your soul rather than popular opinion or the latest "bandwagon".

Herons have those incredible long skinny legs for a reason. It's so they can wade out into deep water while keeping their balance but still maintaining the ability to soar to great heights.

Herons can be pretty aggressive in their self-determination. They don't think twice about eating some pretty big fish in order to thrive and survive. It is said that the heron teaches us that sometimes it is best to take advantage of things and events that other people might not even notice or bother with.

I see this heron a lot. He sits on a buoy all by himself as though he is king of the world- pretty content to sit there it seems. When I see him in the reeds by the water he's always alone. When I see him flying overhead I never see any other birds with him. (I really have no idea if it's a him or a her, or the same one I keep seeing, but it makes a better story that way!). The point is- herons are pretty solitary creatures. The lesson to take from them is that there is strength to be gained from spending time with yourself, away from the crowds and opinions of others. There are times when following a solitary path, or non-traditional role may be very rewarding.

When so many things are going on in the world and others are full of doom and gloom, when everyone else knows what you should do or shouldn't do, it might be a good time to think about the heron. They keep everything in balance, happy to be unique, confident in creating their own circumstances. Happy to be unique.

All of this resonates with a few Bach flowers. Cerato, Walnut and Aspen all seem to point to the "heron way" of life. Cerato can help you trust your own inner wisdom. It's indicated when you need a bit of balance to maintain a sense of self-assuredness- to help you follow your own path. Walnut also helps you follow that chosen path. Walnut can provide you the ability to move forward, protected from the influences of others,changing circumstances, and events. (Walnut would probably be helpful if you were evacuated from your home due to rising flood waters I think!). If you wanting to feel more "heron-like", you might consider Aspen as well. Aspen helps replace apprehension with a desire for new adventure and experience. Aspen might help you wade into deeper water in a fearless, trusting state.

So on Friday the 13th, as the flood waters rise and doomsday prophets seem to be coming out of the closet, I guess the Heron has a pretty important message. Maintain your own connection, your own source of strength and stand firm and balanced secure in your personal power.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Chocolat: A Book Review

I just finished a great book and thought I'd share. "Chocolat", by Joanne Harris fits all my criteria for a "good read". I saw the movie with Johnny Depp (hard to go wrong there!)quite awhile ago. I think it also starred Juliette Binoche- sorry didn't see you behind Mr. Depp! I liked the movie, but I loved the book! In my opinion, there is much more depth of story, and rather a layered effect in the book that no movie could really capture.

As the title claims- there is a lot of chocolate in this novel! I don't recommend it if you are on a diet, or for some bizarre reason!, trying to avoid chocolate. There are chocolate drinks, chocolate cakes, and morsels of all descriptions throughout the story. And it's the really good pure dark chocolate stuff. The main character is a chocolataire extraordinaire. She also has some rather unusual talents and abilities that could, in some circles, label her a witch.

This is a story of magic, gypsies, women and food. Vianne is a single mother with unknown roots,that appears in a tightly knit small town and dares to open a chocolate shop. Not only that, she dares to open it across from the church and during the season of Lent. It becomes a story of "church versus chocolate" and "religion versus spirit". It's also a story of motherhood and heritage.

I really enjoyed Joanne Harris' writing style. She appeals to all the senses. You see, hear, taste, and smell along with the characters. Above all, you feel with them-at least I did. A check of Harris' website at reveals she writes from the heart. Ahh.. that's what makes this novel so good. "Chocolat" is a bit of her personal story woven into fiction. Apparently Joanne Harris grew up in the surroundings from which she writes. In her biography she claims to be the great-grand daughter of a Frenchwoman known locally as a witch and a healer. It is said you should always "write what you know", and Harris really knows this stuff!

I'm sure you could find deep morals and lessons to be derived from this novel, but you don't have to. It strikes me as just a really good read. I think it's a book best served while curled up with a hot chocolate on a rainy day.

And great news- there is a sequel!!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Waxing Moon and the Third Chakra

I've witnessed some unusual moods in people over the past couple of days which likely means others have witnessed it in me, I suppose. It seemed like one of those unexplained mood shifts when people suddenly find themselves feeling rather different and unsettled in ways they can't seem to explain or understand. Just because I find that rather interesting, I started looking around for a source and I turned to my We"Moon 2011 book. I wondered if we were maybe getting close to a full moon because it kind of seemed like that type of an experience. I discovered that we are in a "waxing half moon in Leo" stage. Hmm...

Seems we pay a lot more attention to full and new moons than we do to the moons in-between. Maybe that's a mistake. It turns out that in the northern hemisphere, if the left side of the moon is dark, then we are moving toward a full moon and that's a waxing or growing moon. In the Southern hemisphere it's the opposite and the moon is growing if the right side of the moon is dark. Today's picture is a waxing moon from the northern hemisphere perspective.

It turns out when people paid more attention to the moon than their watches(check out yesterday's blog if you're not sure what I'm referring to), the waxing moon was a pretty big deal. It is the time when the moon is gaining power and that means it is a time for rituals and "rites of attraction" or "positive magic". The waxing moon was seen as a good time to draw things to you. Those "things" could be love, healing energy, wisdom or prosperity. If the prosperity one is the "thing" that jumped out at you- keep reading!

The third chakra resonates with, or is influenced by, the waxing moon. Positive energy is governed by the third chakra. It is the energy center concerned with willpower, self-control and personal power. People that have well balanced and developed third chakras are often very goal orientated, successful people. They often set their sites on self-development and concentrate on realizing all their capabilities. Third chakra personalities are often leaders. They not only set things in motion, but they bring them to their conclusion. In terms of the moon phase, that would mean you set things in motion during the waxing moon so they come to conclusion or fruition at the full moon phase. The moon will be full this month on May 17th.

The challenge for the third chakra, which may be particularly "awakened" during the waxing moon phase, is the competitiveness of our modern world. If the power of the third chakra becomes disconnected from positive power and self-development, but more focused on material pursuits (prosperity raises it's head again), power for the sake of being considered powerful, and personal success at the expense of others, the person may feel "unsettled" and unbalanced. This sense of disconnect may result in unscrupulous behavior, power struggles and ruthlessness. This unbalanced power struggle can result in feelings of impatience, in-decision, and lack of focus or an inability to direct action in a purposeful way.

The Bach Flower essences that resonate with the third chakra match those feelings of imbalance. They include Impatiens, Scleranthus, and Hornbeam. Impatiens can help with that sense that the world and the people in it aren't moving fast enough. During the waxing moon you may be particularly senstitive to energy and feel a need to do something with it- quickly. Sceleranthus can help with the indecision between two things. During the waxing moon this may be the indecision between whether or not you should be working towards personal fulfillment and life purpose or material, worldly pursuits. Hornbeam can also help direct you to get started on the right road. Hornbeam may be helpful if during the waxing moon you feel sleep is not refreshing. It helps restore your vitality.

The crane in today's picture most likely didn't happen to come across my desk by accident. It turns out cranes are, in ancient Chinese, the symbol of longevity and focus. The crane is said to reflect the importance of focusing on your most important goal rather than dividing your attention between multiple projects.

So I guess the summary from all that is that we are always affected by nature, even though we may have lost sight of that a bit. A waxing moon may be calling your attention to the importance of setting a personal goal for self development. It seems like we should focus within for a bit and consider what is the most important thing for us to achieve in the next week or so, and pull our focus towards that. Maybe a good dose of positive magic is all anyone needs!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Time Tornadoes?

I read an interesting book on the weekend by Jeanette Winterson. "Tanglewreck" was written for young readers(early teenagers)but it "got me thinking".

Tanglewreck is a science fiction story set sometime in the near future where time is just beginning to distort. Time Tornadoes are occurring and these events are stopping time and causing people to disappear. While people and creatures from the "now" disappear, people and creatures from the past reappear. The underlying theme of the story is that time is big business and whoever controls time, controls life as we know it.

It feels like I might have been in one or two of those "time tornadoes" lately. Winterson describes them as a sudden stop. Nothing seems to change for a few minutes and you can't believe time has passed the way it did. Just as there are these sudden stops, people also experience the sudden acceleration of time where the world seems to be whizzing by at incredible rates. Hmm....

We have these strange sayings like "wasting time", "stealing time", "turn back time" and "racing against time". Perhaps the most common one, is to say, "I don't have enough time". We do make time sound like a commodity, something that can be bought, sold and traded.

What would happen if all your clocks and time recording devices suddenly stopped. What if it wasn't just yours, but when you turned on your radio, T.V., or computer to check the time, the clock devices there weren't working either. Where is the magic "time controller" that would reset it all? How have we really come to this agreement on what time it is?

It makes me think of that child's game "what time is it Mr. Wolf". "Mr Wolf" is kind of the bad guy in the game, but he's also the position everyone is striving for. He decides how many steps forward you can take and when. The rest of the players try to advance or sneak up on "Mr. Wolf" without getting caught cheating and taking more steps than Mr. Wolf has agreed to allow. That kind of sounds a bit like life these days. We are rushing around trying to get more things done than ever before within some magical time frame so we won't get caught.

What would happen if no one knew what time it was? I guess we might loose a lot of social order. I think it might be a bit hard to have meetings scheduled. School might be a little chaotic. It would be difficult to travel I guess. But would it?

Has there always been this acute sensitivity to time. Although it would seem we have always "tracked time", and used sun dials to measure time, it has not always been common practice to be so aware of time. Years ago people didn't all wear watches, or have multiple clocks in their house, or have ipods, cell-phones and other devices constantly recording the time. People didn't always wake up to alarm clocks. How did kids get to school on time years ago when they were walking for miles and not waking up to an alarm clock? What if you just called someone when you felt the need to meet instead of setting it up for a particular time? What if a bus or a plane took off when it had enough people ready to go instead of on a set time? Imagine if you got up when you naturally woke up and went to bed when you were tired. Isn't that crazy? Is it????

The strange thing about science fiction is that it has this weird habit of coming true to some extent. Winterson wrote "Tanglewreck" in 2006 and she's talking about quantum computers and "dimension hopping" that are truly based on today's science. A lot of her fictional ideas are based on quantum physics and the idea of multiple dimensions. Something to consider...

Maybe I better go "check the time"....

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Treating Seasonal Affective Disorder with Bach Flowers

Are you feeling kind of foggy lately? Around my part of the world at least, that would seem to make sense as our internal moods are often affected by the weather patterns, and we haven't really seen a lot of sun these days!

The Canadian Mental Health Association (and the American Association as well for that matter) agrees with the idea that weather affects people's moods. It seems to be a concept shared by both conventional and alternative healers around the globe. It seems to be one of those things that really can't be disputed, although how close a connection, or the reason for the connection, may be still argued according to your mindset.

In conventional medicine, once a connection or a reason for a condition or set of symptoms is known, it's quickly given a title or a diagnosis. Seasonal Affective Disorder, which just so happens to make up the acronym SAD, was recognized in the early 1980s as a mental health condition characterised by bouts of depression that followed seasonal patterns- in particular shorten daylight or little sunlight. Although more common during the late fall through the winter months, it turns out the symptoms also can occur in the late spring or early summer. A lot of research has been, and continues to be, carried out to examine these seasonal patterns.

I'm sure I'm over-simplifying the issue, but to me what it boils down to is that you can be depressed or feeling slightly gloomy any time of the year for no other reason than that the weather is gloomy as well! The lack of sunlight in your life starts to mimic how you feel about things.

The Canadian Mental Health Association identifies the symptoms of SAD as including:
- craving sweet or starchy food
- weight gain
- decreased energy/fatigue
- tendency to oversleep
- difficulty concentrating
- irritability
- avoidance of social situations
- feelings of anxiety and despair

They further identify the signs of "summer depression" as including poor appetite, weight loss, and trouble sleeping.

There are a lot of conventional treatment solutions for SAD including light therapy, behavioral therapy, and antidepressant medications.

Bach Flower essences can also be an alternative therapy for the symptoms of SAD. The Bach Flower Mustard, is one of the first essences to consider when this type of mood strikes. Mustard is described as the essence that is indicated for the type of depression that comes for no apparent reason and lifts just as suddenly. It is helpful for those that feel as though they have a dark fog hanging over them. The person needing mustard often feels like they are taken over by a sense of gloom and weariness even though nothing tangible seems to be connected to this feeling. They just feel sad without really being able to describe why.

Most people when they feel gloomy or depressed try to find a reason for the feeling. Often if you dig deep enough you'll come up with something! For most people, if nothing else is apparent, a lack of money, or love, or both, can be used to "justify" the feelings of gloom. Then your thoughts do seem to have a reason and it can become a vicious cycle that it's hard to crawl out from under even when the sun makes it's way out of the fog.

So, if it feels like you are digging to find a reason for the foggy feeling, you might try letting go of the attachment to a reason and try a few drops of the Bach Flower Mustard instead. You may find the essence helps restore you sense of joy. It can help you find inner stability and peace despite the lack of external sunlight. There are other Bach Flowers that may help with the common symptoms of SAD as well, and combinations may include Olive, Water Violet, Beech, and Walnut.

Instead of responding to the external fog and gloom by creating your own, try some Bach Flowers and see if you can get a lift to your spirits. Then when the sun does reappear (and it will- I'm pretty sure..) you'll be ready to enjoy it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Animal Signs: Spring Peepers

It's still pretty soggy in my part of the world and we haven't experienced much sun or warm spring weather just yet, but considering the weather events in most other parts of the world- I'm not complaining!

Regardless of the temperatures, the peepers have arrived! This means that at night, starting sometime after dark, I don't even have to go outside or open a window, to hear an amazing chorus of frogs, more commonly known as peepers. If you don't know what I'm talking about, or just want to hear the sound for yourself, there is a recording of peeper sounds on National Geographic's website at

To me, there is nothing quite like the sound of the peepers. It's both constant and changing at the same time. It's rather a soothing type of night time sound and it takes me back to summer nights under the stars when it was too hot and humid to sleep. Very peaceful.

National Geographic claims "spring peepers are to the amphibian world what American robins are to the bird world". Their arrival is said to be a sign that winter is over and spring, if not quite summer, has begun.

Peepers are creatures of the night. You'd be hard pressed to find them during the day where they like to spend their time in the forest. Although they lay their eggs in the water, they spend most of their time in the woods. Apparently in the winter they hibernate there under logs or loose tree bark. Not quite what you might expect. Most of us figure we would be more likely to find then around bodies of water.

Daniel Mapel in "Into the Heart of the Wild", includes frogs as an animal sign and explains their significance. I hereby apologize to any amphibians I might be insulting when I link peepers and frogs as one and the same. I'm sorry, but to me, if you have legs like that and hop- I'm calling you a frog!

Mapel explains that frogs help us experience the everyday world as miraculous. The appearance, or re-appearance of the peepers, helps us trust in life as a transformative experience. Spring follows winter and the peepers will return. There is quite an element of trust to hearing the peepers. It sounds like there must be millions of them out there so close to you, and yet most of us never or rarely see them. Yet we know and trust they are there- happily causing all that racket.

When you hear the peepers it's a signal to let go of everyday concerns and frustrations and just trust in the sounds of spring and the ability of nature to continue to transform our world in truly miraculous ways. It's a transformation that occurs without our worry, perhaps despite our worry. Nature doesn't need our grand plans or schemes for change. This wonderful transformation happens best without our interference.

Frogs are said to be signals of acceptance. They appear to provide strength and certainty when going through periods of deep emotional and spiritual change. It seems like pretty much everyone in the world is going through that type of change at the moment.

What strikes me is that one night there are no peepers and before National Geographics recording, I wouldn't even be able to really remember what they sounded like. You never hear them during the day. And yet, suddenly it seems, they just "are". They don't start out as one or two making some sounds with a gradual build up of volume. At least, I don't hear them that way. All of a sudden they just seem to appear in my world. I think that's the ultimate signal of trust in something we can't see. The night is transformed by peepers you can't see, and you had no idea they were even on the way. And, they might not be exactly what you expect. You might have run into one in the woods and not even recognized his or her ability to sing. You might be surprised by how few of them are creating that much sound. That's what change is all about!! We never really know it's coming and it's not always what we expect.But we need to trust it's on it's way.

To peepers around the world I say, "Keep singing"!!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Signs of Change?

It seems like every time I tune into the news there is evidence of change. Massive tornadoes, snowstorms, flooding, the events still going on in Japan- a lot of natural disasters. Seems our world is definitely changing.

Then,last night and today, the news headlines are pretty clear and "in your face" and seem to speak of human-made change. President Obama in a special news release last night reported that United States forces killed Osama Bin Laden, the former leader of al-Qaeda, the group that claimed responsibility for the events of 911 in the United States. It seems rather unbelievable, but for almost ten years Osama has been hiding out evading capture or killing despite the incredible number of nations, organizations and individuals that have been hunting him down. Makes you wonder how it could possibly take that long and what was different last night that caused the tipping point.

For the last 5 weeks, in Canada we have been watching news of election strategies. Today is a federal election day in Canada. Another sign of human-made change?

The point that strikes me, is that it seems, during all this change, we adopt an "us against them" theme, even if the "them" is nature. When we see reports of natural destruction it seems there is a fight of "man against nature". Certainly Osama Bin Laden's demise was "us against them". It became the "war on terror". The events of 911 unified a lot of people, even nations, but unified them against something else.

The election campaigns in Canada have been very much along these lines, in my opinion. It's become who you want to aline with in order to be against someone else. It seems we are asked to "pick a team" assuming there must be an opponent.

I don't have the answer, but I wonder if change always has to be a fight? Do we always have to push something or someone out to allow something else to come in?

We even fight against the change itself. There is a high degree of skepticism as we consider change. Can there really be more natural disasters occurring lately or are we just seeming more news coverage? Is Osama Bin Laden really dead? Will an election really change anything at the political level? Hmm....

And perhaps the burning question, above all others is... "what does this mean to me". Maybe we don't want to admit it, but I truly believe that's the first question we ask. That's a survival skill that is embedded within in. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with that.

I also believe, that in the midst of such change, it's important to maintain your balance. The, "what does it mean to me" question helps you maintain that balance. It's a good thing if your life hasn't changed that much. It's a good thing if you can maintain a calm spot in the midst of chaos. Embrace you secure position in the world.

Walnut is a Bach Flower essence that can help you find or maintain your personal place of balance. Walnut helps protect your inner core from change and outside influences that might be tipping you a bit. If you feel eager to move forward in your own life in positive ways but feel held back by the negative influence of others, Walnut can be helpful. It isn't about ignorning the news or the events around you, it's about having the abilty to move forward and make necessary changes that are meaningful and positive for you.

If I don't watch the news, or turn on the Internet or the radio, and just go outside, I see change. It's a beautiful spring day. The sun and the rain are both making an appearance. It doesn't really seem like a struggle. It doesn't seem like the sun is against the rain, or vice versa. It just "is". The only struggle becomes if I want one or the other to "win". The struggle is mine internally, not within nature. Hmm..

The daffodills are blooming and that brings me joy. I'll watch a bit of news. I will go out and vote. But on my way to the polling station, I'll take note of the flowers that are blooming, the buds that are coming out on the trees, and the personal freedom around me. That's a change I will embrace.