"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Inspiration in New Hampshire


Watch this beautiful dance. Look at the display of physical stamina and strength. Think about the hours and years of training that it has taken these two people to get to this ability. They are making the most of their abilities and it took hard work to get there! Let it inspire you!

Embrace Thyself

Here is a picture of a soon to be college freshman resting happily in his room and playing a video game on a TV set hidden behind mounds of clutter. While filling out his college roommate questionnaire his response to the question " How neat do you like your room?" He checked the box that said "VERY NEAT". His parents, in glancing over his answers stopped on that one and said "REALLY???" and he said "Yes, I like my room neat!" and they said "But you won't have a maid there to clean your room. The only way you can have it neat is to do it yourself and judging from your room cleaning history, you may want to reconsider that question!" 

Do you embrace yourself? Are you someone who values your health, and yet can't leave the supermarket without buying ice cream or makes quick stops to the yellow arches? Does your decorating style reflect your personality? Do you enjoy the friends you keep? Do you like your neighborhood? Is your job fulfilling and does it reflect your abilities? Does your clothing reflect your personality?

What stands in your way from really being who you are - from being REAL? In my experience there are usually three reasons. 

FINANCIAL AND TIME CONSTRAINTS. I put this one first because it's sometimes the one that most people have the least control over. You may be hemmed in on every side but see if you can find some "wiggle room" in there to meet your goals. It may mean you must give up some short term gratification in order to meet a long term goal.

LAZINESS. Often it's a lack of discipline that keeps us from really being ourselves. It takes a great deal of effort to be "all that we can be".  It's easier to watch TV than work out. Grabbing a burger at the fast food joint down the street takes far less time than going to the grocery store, standing in line, taking the beef home, making patties and putting them on the grill. Which burger would you prefer? Which life would you prefer?

FEAR. Fear of failure. Fear of intimacy. Fear of letting others down. Fear of letting go. Fear of criticism. Fear of rejection. Fear... fear... fear.... Fear makes us shut down so that we don't go for what we want or need. A real, fulfilled life cannot be lived in fear, but with a pioneer spirit. Fear will block you from ever reaching your potential! How would you like to be defined, "fearless", "brave", "strong" or "cowardly"?

Does the "room of your life" reflect you today? If not, re-evaluate things and make some changes... it's good for the soul!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Running the Race of Life

In honor of the summer Olympics, watch this AMAZING video from the 1992 Barcelona summer games. As you watch, think about your life and draw your own powerful analogies. 

This runner Derek Redmond, trained his whole life for this moment, was in perfect physical shape and primed and ready. While he is performing at his peak,  his hamstring tears, shattering his hopes and dreams and sending him in to excruciating pain. He is determined to continue on with this race. He will not admit defeat nor lay down and die. Derek is not a quitter, he is a warrior. He continues limping along, straining for the end . The audience watches in sympathy and admiration. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man appears out from the cloud of witnesses, toward Derek. The security guards attempt to stop him but he breaks through with as much drive and determination as we are witnessing on Derek. The man is his father, come to give him a shoulder to lean on and support for his leg.

The son accepts his father's help. He turns his head to him in agony as if to say in one small gesture and outbreak of tears "Dad, I trained for this my whole life, and now it's over, my dreams are shattered, I can't believe this happened. I'm in so much pain and I'm devastated".  His father, remaining strong  for his son, helps his son slowly and steadily toward his goal. At the very end, he lets the son cross alone for it's the son's race. It was the son that trained and the son should receive the credit for a job well done. A true show of bravery was made by Derek. Yes, he did not win a medal. He crossed in last place, but he was the hero that day.

We are not in this race alone! Obstacles will come our way. Some large.... some small. But know that the Source of your strength is there for you, running by your side, holding you up. Take strength in that today.... it's good for the soul!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Know Thyself

A few days ago I posted a small speech by a young woman named Sera Beak. Having peaked my interest, I decided to go check out her website and see what she was all about. On her site, I found she had a well crafted and thought out mission statement for her life. I found it fascinating that she put so much thought and intention into defining herself and the world around her. This adorable woman lives with great intentionality. To see her "Redvolutionary" mission statement click here.

While not everything in her statement aligned completely with my beliefs, I could agree with many of her ideas. I decided to write them down, pick them apart and make my own creed.

So what I am going to do in the next few days is focus on some of these key concepts that Sera brought up that I think pertain to living a full, soul filled life. The first one being, Know Thyself.

How many of us truly know ourselves? At first glance we would think, of course we do! But I think if we are really honest sometimes we are not completely in touch with why we do what we do or why we think a certain way. We are programmed early in life to believe certain things and respond to situations in a particular way. Depending on how "moldable" we are, sometimes we can lose ourselves in the process.

Quite a few years ago my parents were on a Myers/Briggs kick. Mom had a book called "Please Understand Me" and in it we had a test available to us to take and then explanations on the results. It was uncanny how much the results said about us. They were right on almost to the point of being scary! If you'd like to take the online test, click here.

Probably the most telling and healing aspect of the test was when my mother and I compared our test results. She was an ISTJ and I was an ENFP! Now, if you don't know anything about the tests let me explain that there are two possible results to each of the four letters. All people fall somewhere on the continuum. My mother was an EXTREME ISTJ and I was a FIRM ENFP! We were total opposites on the personality spectrum.

Picture my mom trying to raise this foreign child!  My "feeling" self was way too much for her rational side. I wanted to talk things out to process and she was very private. We had some major struggles growing up. Add to it my artistic, flamboyant, adventurous self with her tailored, stoic, stable persona and we were just like oil and water! My mom didn't understand how I ticked and was trying to get me in line and I was rebelling frantically.

After we took the tests we were amazed at the results. When she read my description she said "Wow, that explains everything!" She now understood why I was driven to adventure and changing the world. It was nothing that she could "talk good sense into me" about... it was my wiring! I might point out here that she needed a test to scientifically prove that to her, it wouldn't have been enough for me to explain it because that doesn't work with her personality :). The self test was the turning point for my relationship with my precious mom. We now "got" each other and learned to enjoy our differences and tap into each other's strengths where we were weakest. It's been a lot of fun in recent years and our lives have been made that much richer.

Getting to know your personality is only one aspect of knowing yourself however! Think about your mind. How does it work? What is your learning style? What do you prefer studying and how often? Even your intelligence is multi-faceted. You can be spatially intelligent, musically intelligent, mathematically, Intra-personally, Inter-personally, Bodily, etc.

How well do you know your feelings? Are there things buried in your past that cause you to behave in a certain way now in your subconscious mind? Do you pay attention to your subconscious through your dreams or by evaluating some of your responses to situations?

Are you aware of your body? Your energy levels? What foods make you feel good and what things don't sit right with you?

Are you in touch with your dark side? Do you know what pushes your buttons in the wrong way? Do you know how to cage the monster when it's rearing it's ugly head?

Do you know your preferences in food, colors, decorating, art, movies....? Could it be that those who are indecisive don't know themselves too well yet, or is it about trying to please others? Something to think about....

Do you know your gift mix? Do you know what you are BEST at? Do you know where you are most effective in other people's lives? Do you do what you do best, or do you stumble through what you are mediocre at because you feel you should? Time is such a precious commodity and I really want to make the most use of my time by being true to my unique abilities both in service and in career.

One of my lifetime goals has been to understand myself! I know, it sounds funny and maybe a tad conceited but it's part of celebrating who I am AND becoming the most effective person that I can be. I place a high value on being "real" and that means knowing who you are and responding to your world authentically. I wouldn't want to do it any other way. Pretending to be someone else or even thinking you are different than you are breeds incongruent behavior and confusion. I always mean what I say to the best of my ability.

So how about you? Are you "real"? Have you made it a priority to really get to know yourself? To know yourself is to own yourself and all that comes with it. It's acceptance and growth. It's healthy and it's great to get in touch with your soul!

The Wind of the Spirit

What a beautiful dance - a work of art - all cultivated by intentional wind. The red fiber floats through the air obeying the wind that draws it in scattered directions. Each movement reveals beauty and structure in it's own form.

How much more true is that of us as we follow the wind of the Spirit. We are guided by an intentional love that will carry us to new places and fashion us into new forms to bring healing, beauty and love to our world around us. We need only to submit.... to understand that obedience is our safest choice. We need to know that the dance of our souls is one that is deliberately fashioned for us by a loving God who will "blow us away" with the wonders that he has for us.

The Spirit is unseen... tender, gentle and yet has the strength to carry us to new heights of freedom and joy... of release and wholeness.

The Spirit knows the cry of your soul. Release your fears, hesitations and drama today for a perfect dance of peace. Let the wind of the  Spirit blow over, through, under and all around you.... it's good for the soul!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Laughter is the BEST medicine...

Thanks for all your kind words yesterday in response to my post. There are so many beautiful people out there, full of love, concern and prayers. I really appreciate it! I'll never turn down a prayer coming my way! But, I do not want you all to get the wrong idea from my testimony yesterday. I do not really feel like I suffer. Yes, there are some things I would LOVE to have change. In a few years I will have l been sick as long as I have experienced health, but it's become a way of life for me. We all adapt to our issues. And better yet, we can all rise above our circumstances to bring joy to others. Some of the most beautiful people that I've met have walked hand and hand with suffering for many years. They bring maturity and grace to their interactions with others in life. It's part of God's way of bringing good out of evil.

Years ago, my husband and I were serving a church with some MAJOR issues of pastoral abuse (yes, I know... just what we needed). 175 years before we came to this church, the first pastor actually committed suicide because the people were so mean to him! Seven pastors in a row were run out of town by this congregation before we got there, mainly at the hands of one sick little plumber who waged a war the likes that I had never seen before! Statements like "you will be stepping over my dead body before I leave this church" and "no amount of prayer will save this church when I get through with it" were thrown out there with alarming regularity! My husband and I were in our late 30's at the time and went in all bright eyed and bushy tailed, having no idea what was in store for us. Lies, slander, words being taken out of context and blown out of proportion were the order of the day. The hospitality committee was fondly named the "hostility" committee by new members of the church because they were afraid to even take a cookie from the bitter people at the other end of the table. By the time we left after two years, we were literally in fear of our physical safety things had gotten so heated! But here's my point, while the evil burned brightly - so did the good! New people were coming in and lives were being changed! Miracles and healings were happening at an astounding rate. It was an amazing experience to be a part of! As much as I saw the evil that people were capable of, I saw the good in a larger proportion! This is the evidence to me that God is still alive and well and although He keeps silent when we'd love him to rush in and wipe out pain, he's doing some pretty amazing things under the surface.

Okay, so enough heavy.... Today the order of the day is about fun! One of the things that "gets us through" all the hard things in life is FUN!!! Some things can't be changed but a laugh will always make you feel better! What do you do for fun? How much FUN do you get to have? Do you ration your fun as if it's going to run out if you do it too much? It doesn't you know - fun begets fun begets fun.... It multiplies - the more you enjoy it, the more it hunts you out and lands upon you.

Fun is the solution to a bad day. Laughter is the perfect ending to a good cry - a little joke, silly comment and the grey clouds move on out of the way, letting the sun come in and warm your heart!

For some reason, many of us take life too seriously! Yes, life is serious business ... but is it really? We have so little control of things. Sometimes the ridiculous happens. Are you able to laugh at yourself and the crazy things that happen in your day? I've always been able to laugh at the pathetic.... slipping on wet paint and being covered head to toe with yellow curb paint brings laughter to a whole new level. Add in a few pictures and you've got a story! Waterskiing and breaking bikini tops brings years of funny memories to a group gathering (heh folks, you gotta laugh!)

To be able to see the humor in life is a great gift! I love to surround myself with funny people. I love to watch funny movies. I used to watch those "you had a bad day" videos in droves and just crack up while people ended up in the most bizarre situations, maybe because I could picture it happening to me! I know it seems inappropriate to hoot when someone slides across the floor taking tables and chairs with them and lands in a most undignified fashion... but I laugh (as long as they aren't hurt).

Norman Cousins laughed his way right out of cancer! There has got to be a reason the they say "laughter is the best medicine!" So, if life is getting to you... start with a kind act toward others and sprinkle in a healthy dose of fun and laughter today.... it's good for the soul!

Here's a video that makes me laugh every time I watch the crazy thing....

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hope for the Sick Soul...

"Years ago, a student with a chronic illness told me, “I am afraid that if I stop, if I slow down and rest I’ll never amount to anything.”
I smiled. “What if I told you that everything you are ever going to 'amount to,' you are right now?”
I knew what she feared. I have done it a thousand times- confused work with accomplishment, frenetic activity with movement, growth and learning. We are afraid that we will not be enough. All of our deepest desires are our soul’s way of calling us back to simply being all of who we are."~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer from The Invitation

What seems to be a lifetime ago and yet only yesterday, I was "taken down" in my youth. While I was living a vibrant life, traveling around the US and Canada, speaking to large groups of people and dating my husband, I caught mononucleosis. One week in bed, turned into two and soon turned into five years of imposed rest! From the age of 27 to the age of 32 I barely left my house or my sofa. Being an extravert this was a prison that I wouldn't wish on anyone. During this time I had to surrender a great job as Director of Admissions to a college, and lost most of my friends. I can't really even recount this pain without going back there emotionally 24 years later.

Despite all I just said, I managed to retain my spirits. I spent my days going to alternative doctors, getting IV's, taking vitamins, learning new healthy ways to eat, etc. I put in a good deal of time reading and trying to figure out what God might be trying to teach me in all of this. I joined prayer groups with strong women of faith who prayed for me endless hours and I learned to pray for others. I waited... I believed.... I hoped. I felt that all that I was going through would make me a better person and be used for God's glory. I cherished deep conversations with other patients so that I could bless them. I prayed for people to be set free from their physical prisons and saw it happen often. With all evidence to the contrary, I still believed everything would work out for my good. Quite often when I went up for prayer in church, people would be filled with so much "joy" when they were done praying they would laugh! At times I felt hopeful that this meant that the illness would be used to his glory and that I would be healed but at other times I felt angry and that my pain was disregarded by the God who had the power to make it go away. 

To this day, 23 years later I still live with the effects of this illness! If I rise too early in the morning, I pay with the worst kind of pain (fortunately Starbucks gets me through my commitments.) I live with debilitating headaches, muscle pains and abdominal issues. Somedays my energy is extremely low and my glands swell. And yes, I struggle because I really don't know yet what is wrong with me (besides the catch all CFS/Fibromyalgia diagnosis). After years of doctors, specialists and $60,000 worth of uncovered medical bills I am no closer to an answer than I was then. I worry every day that I get a new symptom that this is the one that's going to take me out! My family thinks I'm a hypochondriac, but to live with unexplained pain your whole life brings that on. No one wants to be a puzzle to the doctors for 24 years!

Now God didn't look down from Heaven and say, "This poor girl has as much as she can take. I will make her life more bearable in other ways." No.... For all of our years we have struggled financially finally ending in bankruptcy as we tried to pay increasing medical bills. My husband was in and out of ministry, serving some impossible situations that caused unemployment multiple times as I lie there in bed helplessly looking on. I was unable to work due to my physical condition but lost my unemployment benefits regardless when the government cut back on aid in 2001. Our income went down $10,000 a year for a few years there and it didn't start very high up to begin with! After all this we ended up in a really "shady" ministry that I would say was more like a "cult" than anything else with it's authoritarian methods of discipline. They, with their false prophecies did a job on our family and our ability to trust. Had it not been for three other very bad church experiences I could have let it roll off my back, but because pain at the hands of "godly" people happened with such frequency, it only made it more damaging to us and our children. During all this we struggled with our youngest child and found out that she had high functioning autism and some other serious issues that will affect her and thus me, for the rest of her life. The pain and heartache of this alone is more than I can bear sometimes. On top of this, we've relocated 11 times in the past 23 years trying to better our living conditions with hopes for pay increases and new starts.

I probably don't have to spell out that this life had severe effects on my marriage. I'll leave that one alone as we continue to try to make sense of our past 24 years together. Added to this were the regular struggles and blows of life mixed in with a few major heartbreaks and betrayals and it's a wonder I'm still alive writing to you today!

Now, you can probably hear the responses from well meaning people through out my years trying to help me "make sense" of things. I balk when someone suggests that there is something wrong with my underlying view of life or character because I suffer. I rise in anger when someone dares say that I could learn more patience when they haven't even begun to understand the depth of this situation. For some reason, having needs in your life makes others who do not experience what you do, feel that they have a right to offer solutions or judge you for your obvious mismanagement of your life else you wouldn't have these problems. Some of us still think that life is actually IN our control... that if we do things right, life will go well. Oh those blessed people with their simplistic notions. And PLEASE don't give me a lecture on gratitude on those few days when I melt under the pressure of life!

Yes, God has given me a great deal of grace. I am gifted with strong creative talents with which to work out my frustrations. I have an insatiable desire to learn and grow and then pass on my insights from the school of hard knocks to others. Despite poverty, I have never begged for bread (thanks to the food bank). I am resourceful and have been given deep inner strength to keep me going. A few dear people, have stuck by me for the long haul wanting to help me, praying for us fervently every day and sometimes putting action behind their prayers. One dear friend in particular stands out to me... an angel of the truest form. These are all evidences that God is good, but it doesn't mean that I don't wish I could trade it all in for a villa in Greece.

And yet, were you to meet me on the street you would never know any of my story. To see my bright smile radiating on my face, you would not know the pain that I endure. You would not know my doubts and fears. You would only know my love and interest in you as a person. You would know that I care about you and your hopes and dreams. I will NOT let illness define me. I will NOT let my limitations bar me from being all I can be in my one, glorious life. I will NOT give in. I refuse to complain, moan, mope or live in sorrow. My life will NOT be one marked by pain but by the beauty of all that is good in the world. Someday I will be free from my limitations and I want to hear that I made the most of all that was given me in this life... that I did a good job!

This is the mark of a warrior. I'm not tooting my own horn here - what choice do I have? Truthfully, I would rather not be in this situation despite it's spiritual rewards! This is the FIRST time I have shared my story so fully. When I write blog posts, it's not because I think I have the answers, it's because I live the questions. I know that life is hard! I know that each of us have pains that we would like to go away! Every time I hear of a vibrant person being struck down by tragedy or illness, my heart dies a million deaths for them. I am so saddened by the shooting in Aurora; the unnecessary deaths of all those young people. This world can be so hard to live in!

So I hang on to the beauty of a sunset; the scent of the ocean for dear life! I hold true to those I love for all that is good and right. I focus on the pleasant, every moment of every day! I do not get caught up in the poor behavior of others or offended by their words, because in the end, it just doesn't matter! I don't get tangled in political rants, I can't even manage my family, let alone the country! I don't have the answers! I try to be love and beauty for all those around me because we all need that! I try to live every moment to it's fullest because none of us knows when our final breath will be taken. People, it's all about radiating the beauty that is inside us to the outside world to give them a smile.... to give them a God wink. We need to touch each other deeply, in the soul realm!

This is why I write with such passion. I want you all to know that life matters! I want you all to hear that even in the midst of the deepest dark night of the soul, you can be assured that you are in the strong and capable hands of your Master, the creator of the universe who loves you more than you will ever know. In this truth, you can just REST... because you ARE. You do not need to strive and fill your life with meaningless activity. Quiet your soul knowing that you are loved just the way you are and pass that love on to others.

This morning this passage from Lamentations 3 was called to mind.... Read it out loud, it helps.

[a]I am the woman who has seen affliction 
    by the rod of the Lord’s wrath. 
He has driven me away and made me walk
    in darkness rather than light;
indeed, he has turned his hand against me 
    again and again, all day long.
He has made my skin and my flesh grow old 
    and has broken my bones. 
He has besieged me and surrounded me
    with bitterness and hardship. 
He has made me dwell in darkness
    like those long dead.
He has walled me in so I cannot escape; 
    he has weighed me down with chains. 
Even when I call out or cry for help, 
    he shuts out my prayer. 
He has barred my way with blocks of stone;
    he has made my paths crooked.
10 Like a bear lying in wait,
    like a lion in hiding, 
11 he dragged me from the path and mangled me
    and left me without help.
12 He drew his bow 
    and made me the target for his arrows.
13 He pierced my heart
    with arrows from his quiver. 
14 I became the laughingstock of all my people; 
    they mock me in song all day long.
15 He has filled me with bitter herbs
    and given me gall to drink.
16 He has broken my teeth with gravel; 
    he has trampled me in the dust. 
17 I have been deprived of peace;
    I have forgotten what prosperity is.
18 So I say, “My splendor is gone
    and all that I had hoped from the Lord.”
19 I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall. 
20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me. 
21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, 
    for his compassions never fail. 
23 They are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness. 
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; 
    therefore I will wait for him.”
25 The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him,
    to the one who seeks him; 
26 it is good to wait quietly 
    for the salvation of the Lord
27 It is good for a man to bear the yoke
    while he is young.
28 Let him sit alone in silence, 
    for the Lord has laid it on him.
29 Let him bury his face in the dust 
    there may yet be hope. 
30 Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, 
    and let him be filled with disgrace.
31 For no one is cast off
    by the Lord forever. 
32 Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
    so great is his unfailing love. 
33 For he does not willingly bring affliction
    or grief to anyone.

So there you go... I will keep my hope. Life's problems weigh us down and they heap themselves upon us causing us to do deeper and deeper into despair. But we can't live there.... we must be prisoners of hope. We must forge our pain into swords to free others from their prisons. We can be the sunshine for others sitting in darkness. We can be light in the caves. 

I've got no answers.... only hope. Hope that one day it will all be different. Hope that one day all pain will be eradicated and joy will be the order of the day! One day there will be no more sorrow, tears, illness and all injustice will be stomped out. It's coming... but for now, we can do our part to brighten our world with a smile, a loving gesture.... It's good for the soul!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

To Be Fair.... Men have Needs Too!

Been posting quite a bit about women and their needs. My artistic cousin and friend sent me this article on what a man needs from a woman. Take a look at this link if you want to grow in your ability to please your man...or be caught by a good one! http://powertochange.com/sex-love/menwant/.

Listening to your Soul

Here's a great speech by a beautiful young woman, Sera Beak. Listen to her words of wisdom as she describes the journey and lessons that she embarked on while getting in touch with her soul!

How to be a happy woman

Yesterday I spoke about what women need from men. Perhaps that was putting the cart before the horse because first and foremost, women need to be true to themselves.

From the time we are young, fed by those great fairy tales, we all grow up dreaming about the prince that will carry us off on the white horse and we will live happily ever after. Already in middle school or even sooner in many cases, women school themselves on how to find that man that will make them happy. We learn to flirt to get their attention, or act helpless or primp ourselves so we are as gorgeous as possible to snag that man. Some women try to "dumb down" so they aren't overpowering the men with their brains or abilities, or "throw a game" so they don't beat the man in sports. (I really hope that women aren't still doing that!)

Fulfillment in life is seen as getting married and having children. If a girl hasn't had a kiss by the age of 16 she often feels like there is something wrong with her. I have spoken to more beautiful, capable, talented women who feel like they are defective because they aren't in a relationship with a man! In fact, I have a really funny video to show you if you can relate to this topic! It's a little crass so if you are prone to be offended, don't watch it, but this video hits the nail on the head.

Women after a certain age start to feel really desperate that life has passed them by and aggressively start to pursue men. Becoming less discerning, women decide to make a relationship work with anyone so that they are not alone. In addition, I've noticed that many men are getting more passive and letting the women do all the work. It's all messed up. Men are designed to be the hunters and women love to be chased. You may be able to push a man into marrying you, but chances are you won't be too fond of the husband he is. If he is indecisive about his love for you, it's not going to stand you in good stead later on when you have problems. In addition, he may be the kind of guy that can't make decisions and being married to someone like that can be extremely frustrating. You don't want to take the lead for your whole life, you want someone that will walk beside you as equal partners.

It is better to be alone than to be in a bad marriage. It is better to stay single than to be with the wrong man who doesn't "get" you or love and support you. Why are we so afraid to be alone? Because we think the only way to be happy is with a man. The solution to this is simple, learn to be happy with yourself! Learn how to meet your own emotional needs. It's really your job!

So how do we do that? Well first by taking care of basics. There are a million articles on how to take care of yourself - eat right, exercise, take time to do the things that you enjoy, get a good education, land a great job and be financially self-sufficient, understand yourself, stay plugged into your Source, have a group of really great girlfriends... etc. You know the drill. These are the things I write about daily, how to take care of your soul! Only you can do it. You know exactly what you need right now in this time of your life. If you don't, sit for a few minutes and think about your troubles.... the pain of your problems will lead you on the search to a solution. The solution points to what you may be lacking.

In order to help you with this process I have compiled a few of my favorite links that can be a springboard to some research in finding your own emotional balance and pleasure as women. 

Mama Gena's School of Pleasure is an outrageous and fluffy guide to using your womanly wiles to carve out a happy life. She talks about pleasuring yourself in order to bring sunshine and joy around you. Your pleasure is contagious and opens doors of joy as you walk through life. A bit of happiness never hurt anyone! She's got a few books out like "Mama Gena's School of Womanly Arts", "Mama Gena's Owners and Operators Guide to Men" and "Mama Gena's Marriage Manual". See her website here.

As an artist, I have enjoyed "The Artists Way" by Julia Cameron. She has many books directed toward the creative person full of wisdom and tidbits. Check out her website at JuliaCameronlive.com.

A new find for me is Oriah. This woman has a similar journey as I have had, struck down by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at the age of 30 (I was 27), she has dealt with chronic illness her whole life and has learned to live richly despite her limitations. She writes poetically and poignantly about life and getting all that you can from it. She too has some great books out! Her website is oriahmountaindreamer.com.

Sometimes, when I am feeling a bit out of control, I like to recite positive affirmations that center me and remind me of my inner strength. Louise Hay has a few great books out on the topic. I also enjoy some Dr. Wayne Dyer or Marianne Williamson to give me a larger picture of life. If you have a smart phone, there are great apps available where you can go and read or listen to affirmations that will put you in a more positive mindset for the day. And don't forget Maya Angelou for some great wisdom and insight. I LOVE that woman!

The point is that all that you need these days, thanks to the www, are really right at your fingertips! Facebook is saturated with all kinds of pictures with little ditties and wise sayings. Pinterest is full of great images that inspire you for the tasks at hand. It's all there for you! All that is needed is for you to take the time to do it!

A woman's emotional needs are as individual as they are. The point is to stay in touch with your feelings and not bury them deep in busyness or some of the "comforts" that we reach for when feeling down. Be real about your feelings and your pain. Get some help from a professional if you need to talk about some hard realities or need help getting in touch with your emotions.

Meditate, do yoga, pray, go to church, take a hike or walk around the neighborhood, sit on the beach and stare at the sea.... do what it takes to center yourself and find the core of your joy. Make the time to do this.... you can't afford not to. As a woman there are many people leaning on you, you can't afford to fall apart and you can't always count on a man to keep you glued together. More often than not, they are the source of your becoming "unglued". (So sorry men....) 

One last tip. Pay attention to your environment, to creating beauty around you. Clean up your junk, paint a room a new color, buy yourself some fresh happy flowers, take a nice bubble bath, light candles or get the battery ones if you are prone to a bit of ADD, put on some great music, dance around the house.... whatever it takes.... keep your spirits elevated and happy. 

You can do this women! Men, you can too in your own way! I'm not sure that I can begin to touch on that since I'm pretty engaged in my womanhood but I know there are men's sites out there that will help you be the manly man that you want to be or get in touch with your sensitive side. 

So today, it's time to take care of YOUR emotional needs. Don't worry,  you won't become self-centered and let your duties go toward your family... you will become self-saturated and that love will spill over onto your loved ones in great ways. You will be a sexier wife, a happier mom and a better employee and friend. Stop pushing your own needs aside and trusting that someone else will take care of you and then resenting them when they don't.... Take care of yourself... it's good for the soul!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What a Woman Needs from Her Man

I had a talk with my husband of 23 years last night about what a woman needs from a man and in doing so I realized two really important things; men don't have a clue and neither do the women! I guess I supposed that by some osmosis of a miracle, a man would grow up and know how to treat a woman. Ideally, every little boy should be taught by their fathers both in word and in deed on how to nourish and care for their wives but I'm afraid in the breakdown of life, there seems to be a scarcity of men on whom this honor has been bestowed, or perhaps they have learned all too well from their fathers... the bad lessons.

This does not let those men off the hook however! In this world of the internet and many books, there is a plethora of information for the bewildered man who doesn't know why his wife isn't the sweet, loving woman that he courted.

Many men believe that if they work hard to bring in the money, help a bit around the house and are attentive fathers that they have covered their responsibilities. Doing those things are important and if they are not done you lose points in a woman's book however that's not enough to cultivate a woman's garden.  A woman's soul is a tender flower that will shut down from neglect and even quicker from mistreatment. She may stay with you, but once her soul is closed it will take great effort on your part to open it again.

A very in-love wife shared with me a few weeks ago about how her husband prepared years before he met her to be the perfect husband. In addition to praying for her for six years before she entered the scene, he read books and made himself to be the best man that he could. This blessed woman is thriving in their marriage and their children are also the greatest recipients.

Women demand a lot - it's true. We demand that we be the one and only. We demand your adoration and respect. We demand that you listen to us and understand us. We want tender touches and embraces. We want to be wooed, wined, dined and romanced through our whole life with you. It doesn't work to win our hearts and then leave us for your jobs, tv, ball games, nights out at the bar and your computers. We want your attention! No, we don't need you 24/7, but a woman who is not getting her basic needs met by her man will start demanding more and more in an attempt to get some of what she is looking for. Pretty soon the woman becomes a nag and the man is baffled. Eventually the woman will build a wall around her spirit and might find male attention elsewhere.

A little note to women. We all have a responsibility to learn how to nurture ourselves too. (We'll deal with that another day).  Our spouses can't do it all.  We women are strong, resilient and marvelous creatures and highly resourceful. We don't really NEED a man.... it's just nice to have one.

As a woman, I've been down all the roads. I know what it is to be loved and I know what it is to be neglected. I can tell you that the man who values me to the end, wins my heart and all that goes with it. The man who neglects me and worse, dishonors me, holds neither my heart nor my life. It's really that simple. Win her soul and yours will thrive too!

Whatamanknows is a blog that helps men be men. Click here to read this great article on 4 Things a Woman Needs from you.

This is a blog written from the Jewish perspective. Great short article on meeting the needs of a woman. Click here to read it. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Exploring your Inner Mermaid

Yesterday I continued my ventures by the sea. While I was wandering through a home store in downtown Mystic, Connecticut, I stumbled upon a brightly illustrated book. I often look at pictures in kid's books for I love color and whimsy. I could tell immediately that this book was different. I glanced at the book and headed right to the cash register.

A snappy 300 year old woman (ok, maybe not quite) behind the cash register said to me gruffly, "That's NOT a children's book!" I don't know why she assumed I was in the market for a children's book, me standing there with 2 daughters in their late teens but I said politely, "Yes, I know." She continued on as if not to hear me, "It's for women". I said "Yes, I know. It's for me". She said, "It's a great book to gift to a friend who is having a hard time. Bring the book and a bottle of wine with you. I can't keep this book in stock."

Of course, now I was REALLY excited because the book held potential to offer wisdom for my days AND very cool mermaid art for my spirit. My new find:"A Survival Guide for Landlocked Mermaids" by Margot Datz, is drenched full of advice for women and how they can find their inner pearl and run with it. Each page contains her ornate and whimsical illustrations along with a short text to remind us as women to celebrate our days and not lose sight of who we are. Read a short review of her book here.

Margot, the author and illustrator of this delight, is best known as "island artist" because she resides on Martha's Vineyard in Edgartown (that's the location where they filmed Jaws.) She has completed many murals around the country and has illustrated four books for Carly Simon. She has been using her artistic gifts for over 30 years in a myriad of ways. Her home is gorgeous too! If you want to learn more about Margot and see pictures of her home click here.

Here is a excerpt from her book:

"Dare to Be Bare

The only way to be a mermaid is to be true to yourself, which means you've go to dare to be bare. That is, to bare your heart and soul.... It's not easy being yourself because it can invite envy and attention. But if you hide your authentic self from the rest of the world, a unique life will pass you by. There is a splendor in being true to yourself..... "


It's hard for any fisherman to resist angling for a mermaid. They'll do everything they can to land us.... But a lot of these seamen don't know about the care and feeding of mermaids. To be captured as a trophy and then have our emotions neglected is tragic.... a smart mermaid knows her needs...."

That's a small flavor of this delightful little discovery. To order the book, click here.

So why am I sharing this with you? Because this book is a perfect example of the combination of art and soul! The words are few, but they get the point across and the illustrations lead you to both a place of joy and poignantly take the message further.

If you are a creative, there are many opportunities to express that creativity. Murals, paintings, photography, prints, children's book illustrations, etc. As we are faithful to our gifts, new doors open that we can proceed through. Margot Datz is able to merge the wisdom that she has learned through the hard knocks of life, with her artistic ability to bless other people. That sounds like real living to me!

Is there a song burning in your spirit? If so, consider ways that you can use your creativity to share that message. Or maybe you are just feeling a little worn and beaten down and in need of a little pick me up. Spend some time with an inspirational book or some beautiful art... it's good for the soul!