Thursday, February 25, 2010

mop it up!

Today I made lots of food.  I always prepare a meal, except for once a week we order pizza, on Friday, always.  The above is  potato and cheese pierogi with scallions and bacon. 
My sides today are teryaki rice and taco rice and the pierogi is complete.
These are salmon patties which include scallions, seasoned pine nuts, celery and onion.
This is how they look after frying in olive oil.
I wasn't sure they would go for salmon patties so I made meatloaf with mango salsa barbeque sauce and finished it off with corn and peas.  The veggies make is so colorful. 

Mop up, my boys!

I am still fasting since Ash Wednesday, so can't say how it tastes, but it looks good enough. xo

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Smudging is the common name given to the sacred smoke bowl blessing; a powerful cleansing technique from the Native North American tradition.  Smudging calls on the spirits of sacred plants to drive away negative energies and restore balance.  It is the art of cleansing yourself and your environment using simple ritual and ceremony.  For thousands of years smudging has been a part of Native American tradition but now its power of cleansing is available to everyone. 
When we frequented Delavan, every summer the Indians performed ceremonies at a  local mound.  I participated in a few of their rituals and they happened to use tobacco as well as sage.  I took note of the ceremony and its after effects and decided to include this in my healings.  Before my sessions, I smudged the person receiving, the room and myself.   When I spring clean my home or office, I always smudge the entire vacility, room to room, corner to corner.  If I feel too much negativity in our lives, I smudge.  It is a simple, yet powerful ritual that works for me, hence, I share.
Homes and bodies are not just made of purely physical matter, they also vibrate with quiet, invisible energy.  Cleansing a space or our bodies with smudging clears away all the emotional and psychic garbage that may have gathered over the years.  It is like a spiritual spring cleaning.  The effects are swift and dramatic.  It banishes stress, attracts love, soothes you and gives you energy. It brings families closer and lets you adjust to the healing seasonal rhythms of the year.  Above all, it can turn any space, however humble, into a soothing sanctuary - a place of renewal and happiness.

When you light a smudge stick, you are connecting with a spiritual tradition that originates from the depths of time. It is impossible to say for certain when smudging began.  Perhaps early civilizations came to realize, through sheer trial and error, that the smoke generated by setting alight particular herbs had beneficial effects for humanity.  Many cultures have an old tradition of driving animals through smoke to kill off pests and diseases.  We have become aware that smoke ascends to the heavens - to the world of spirits - almost as if it were acting as a spiritual messenger.  The Catholic Church burns incense during the Holy Mass Ceremony and at certain Sacramental Blessings and the Hindu burn incense to their gods.    The idea of purification through smoke is certainly not the sole preserve of the Native North Americans.
Originally, mixtures of sacred herbas and resins were burned in a special bowl.  Smoke was then wafted around the person or place need purification and cleansing.  Smudge sticks (bundles of dried herbs tied together with colored thread or a strip of hide) offer an easier way of smudging that is just as effective.  The herbs most often used in smudge sticks are sage and sweet grass.  Sage salvia officinalis drives out negative thoughts, energies and spirits.  Salvia is Latin for 'to heal'.  Sagebrush, mugwort and cedar are good for driving out the influences. Cedar is burned while praying aloud and the smoke is a carrier to the Creator. Sweet grass is used to attract positive energy after all the negative energies have been banished by sage. It is the most sacred and brings in good spirits and influences.

Get a shell, abalone is what I always use.  Any small, flat, heat-proof container will do.  Light the sage and let it flame for a minute.  Extinguish the flame so the sage is smoldering and smoking.  Take the smudge container and using circular clockwise motions, encircle yourself with the smoke, asking that all negative energies be cleansed away.  You can do this for the whole room and even the whole house.  Try and finish off the smudging process by ending up at an open door towards the most northwesterly part of your home.  I say a little prayer and affirmation over and over as I smudge.  Ask the powers that be (spirit of the sage) to remove all negativity and unwanted energies.  It works! At first you may feel a little agitated or uneasy and not sure why.  It is because you are clearing with the help of the smudging.  This would indicate there is a lot of negative energies in your environment.  Smudge as often or as little as necessary. 

Prayer: Teach me to forgive, Jesus, by letting old hurts go. I'm not sure how to do this; it's that difficult.  Give me the grace I need this Lent to pray for my enemies and even to love them.  Give me the courage to try to love "everyone without exception."  Then may my love and forgiveness continue to grow.  Amen.

Monday, February 22, 2010

got to have faith

Faith is like the air in a balloon.  If you've got it, you're filled.  If you don't, you're empty. Peggy Cahn

Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force, that thoughts rule the world. Ralph Waldo Emerson

We all have angels guiding us...They look after us.  They heal us, touch us, comfort us with invisible warm hands... What will bring their help?  Asking.  Giving thanks. Sophy Burnham

Faith is more than an asset of the intellect; it involves our whole being, head to toe.  It means saying yes to the teachings of Jesus in their entirety and trying to live them out.  Jesus says that He came to offer God's healing and forgiveness.  Say "yes" to that as often as you can today.

Prayer:  Jesus, I believe that you are my spiritual healer.  Give me ever deeper faith that I might call on you often this day and this Lent for spiritual healing.  Show me how to share with others your healing gifts of love and care.  Amen.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

sharing joy

It's not easy to feel joy, especially if we do happen to be carrying crosses in our lives right now.  But today is a good time to practice joy, to act on the belief that Jesus is on this sacred path with us.  A smile, though a small thing, can be a powerful sign to others that we have faith and that we believe He can fill us with joy.  So smile a lot today.

In your joy, you offer joy to the world.  In your pain, you offer pain to the world. Esther and Jerry Hicks

You see beauty where you desire to see it.  You see ugliness where you are afraid to see beauty. Neale Donald Walsh

Forgive me, Jesus, for not tapping more often into your gift of joy.  Help me to rejoice because you are with me.  I am not alone; I do not walk by myself on this sacred path through Lent or at any other time.  Fill my heart with joy and help me to truly celebrate today just because you are here with me.  Amen.

Joy is not the same as happiness.  We can't always be happy because life by its very nature delivers difficulties and burdens as well as good things.  Joy is a deep-down gift from God that helps us to be grateful and content even when we feel pain or disappointments.  Pray for the gift of joy this Lent and try to radiate it today.  Let is shine through you in all that you do.

To the dull mind all nature is leaden.  To the illuminated mind the whole world sparkles with light. Ralph Waldo Emerson

Joys divided are increased. Josiah Gilbert Holland

There are only two ways to live your life.  One is as though nothing is a miracle.  The other is as though everything is a miracle.  Albert Einstein

Dear God, please teach me how to focus on the gifts and talents in my life, rather than on my mistakes and disappointments.  Help me to focus on the positive and to genuinely rejoice in my blessings.  May this be my message today for everyone I meet:  God has given me light and I am going to let is shine.  Amen.

joy to the world xo

Saturday, February 20, 2010

overwhelming love

Can you see it?  Can you feel it? The sun is shining a little brighter, the air is lighter.  Spring is just around the corner.  Soon it will be time to begin my spring cleaning.  It takes me awhile as I go room to room, level to level.  I still need to purge all my business documents since I've decided to close that door. I'll accomplish this tedious task next week, to clear my time for the big one.   I do some sort of cleaning everyday so when I become the white tornado at this time of year, it's not so tedious.  Luckily, I have never been a big fan of curtains so not much to refreshen there. My windows and walls are easy to clean and wooden floors just need a little sprucing up.  The carpets are new so no problems there.  I find it amazing how creative those little dust bunnies can be as they hide in the most inconspicuous places.  I'll scope them all out eventually.  My cleaning tools are at the ready.  They all smell so good, but the best part is opening the windows after a long hiatus of being closed. That fresh, clean smell from Mother Nature beats all others.  Soon.  This is my March Madness.
I had the pleasure to attend a fabulous play at the McAninch Arts Center at College of Dupage called Love Song by John Kolvenbach. The director, Bryan Burke, offers a presentation of 'contemplation of the nature of love in its many forms,combining humor and pathos as the characters explore the many facets of this crazy little thing we call love: passionate new love, long-lived mature love, love as it ebbs and flows, the conflicted nature of those who are in love and the power that love has to transform us, affect us and complete us.  Love is a song that rings true and carries the tune of a simple universal human truth.' I am grateful Steven's school exposes him to such talent and insight to expand his horizons and glad I shared it with him.  Next we will see something psychologically gripping - Shutter Island.
Today Wayne and Mike are going to the auto show with Joe Birkett and Nick.  Guys day out. The band met last night to jam and bond and they all had a blast.  Cars and music.  That's all they need to make their spirits soar.  Mike is avidly in pursuit of finding a Porsche for Wayne.  I like this one.  Wayne looks good in green; it's up to him.  I have my dream car already, now it's his turn, when he is ready.  He will probably wait and get a new one.  I enjoyed visiting with my dad; made the chili/pizza run last night and gave him a long overdue massage.  Hope he feels relaxed and refreshed.  He is our Big Daddy. :)
In 3 weeks we will be in San Antonio, Texas visiting the Riverwalk, Alamo, Seaworld and indulging in their fabulous food.  Wayne will be working, but that's how we have travelled recently, combining business with pleasure while exploring our country at a discount.  We were going to visit this fine town regardless and it took 30 minutes to confirm all reservations. It is so much more enjoyable when the cost is defrayed.   The warm weather will be a welcome treat to help us get through the winding down of winter.  I will be preoccupied with gardening after this trip and before you know it we will be on our way to Dreams at Punta Cana for our coveted family vacation. 

Prayer:  Can it be true, great God, that you love me as much as I love my child - and even more than that?  Thank you for your overwhelming love.  Help me to listen to Jesus this Lent and so ask you for good things every day.  And when I get them - and even when I don't - may I give thanks.  Amen.


Friday, February 19, 2010

rich in kindness

beavers were once the size of bears

elephants are the only animals that can't jump

a group of goats is called a trip

a strawberry is not actually a berry but a banana is

men get hiccups more than women

potatoes have more chromosomes than humans

emus and kangaroos cannot walk backwards

pigeons have been trained by the US coast guard to spot lost people at sea

the average speed of a house fly is 4.5 miles an hour

in Youngstown, Ohio, it is against the law to run out of gas

you have to play ping pong for 12 hours to lose one pound

Americans spend more that $630 million a year on golf balls

seals sleep only one and a half minutes at a time

Australia is the only continent without an active volcano

stepping out for a walk every day can actually help you sleep better at night

pistol shrimp can make a noise loud enough to break glass

a cat has 32 muscles in each ear

a female kangaroo is called a flyer

most koala bears sleep about 22 hours a day

in 1859, 24 rabbits were release in Australia; within 6 years, the population grew to 2 million

children grow faster in the spring

brain waves can be used to run an electric train

butterflies taste with their hind feet

termites eat through wood 2 times faster when listening to rock music

more Siberian tigers live in zoos than in the wild

the "valley of square trees" in Panama is the only known place in the world where trees have rectangular trunks

Texas is the only state that permits residents to cast absentee ballots from space

Harry S. Truman's middle name is S

the square dance is the official dance of the state of Washington

tug-of-war was an Olympic sport in the early 1900's

snapple fun facts xo
Prayer:  Jesus, dear Savior, as I begin this season of Lent, I know that I am on a sacred journey to you.  I am on a path to holiness.  Teach me how to be kind and gentle with everyone I encounter on this path.  Help me grow in my love for you and to express this love through kindness in my dealings with all others.  Amen.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

be a butterfly

If you chose to refrain from indulging and deny yourself some pleasures in order to improve your essence, a simple metaphor for enduring the season of Lent could be the life cycle of a butterfly.  Imagine being in a cocoon.  Once the egg is attached to leaves to provide food for the caterpillar, it transforms into the larva, long, worm-like stage. It is the feeding and growth stage.  As it grows, it sheds its skin four times.  The pupa is the transformation stage within which the caterpillar tissues are broken down and the adult insect's structures are formed.  The adult or imago is the colorful butterfly or moth.  Now it can begin the journey of courtship, reproductive and mobile stages, migrating and colonizing hew habitats.
Initiation of our sacrifice can feel stressful, uncomfortable and painful.  Our new limitations prevent us the freedom to give ourselves what we want at the moment: to eat that donut, drink the beer, be lazy.  We want to be in our normal comfort zone, not bound by our decision to change, or transform our current sense of self.  This is the hardest phase of renewal.  We feel trapped, however, just like any other habit breaker, it takes time to change comfortably.  Tenacity is key at this moment.  One day at a time.
It is important to reassure ourselves that we will benefit from our chosen path.  Reward yourself in other ways and eventually the difficulty will subside.  Find support from people to offer encouragement.  This can be integral if you are not confident enough to make the adjustments on your own.  That's okay.  Someone else may need support as well.  The cocoon is like a long tunnel.  It is long and dark and unknowing, even scary.  Be mindful there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.  Light follows darkness; day follows night; spring follows winter.
After time, your journey will become easier and you will embrace the suffering as you see slight indications of improvement.  It is our incentive to keep at it.  Replace the glass of beer with a healthy tea.  Lift another set of weights.  Feel your body releasing more stress as you take your walk.  Notice the birds and sun shining on your skin as you refresh your soul.  Bask in the moment of transformation, just as the caterpillar is in her cocoon.  As the season comes near the end, you will push harder and try other ways to manage the weight of your goal.  You will feel stronger and the variety of ways you use are similar to how our little creature feels near the final transformation.
At last, our final moment has arrived - the butterfly has spread its wings.  Easter morning is here to help us rejoice.  We made it!  The days of suffering have ceased and we feel the new beginning of life within us.  Accomplishing this immense feat has its rewards and most importantly, we gained the confidence and perseverance to endure.  Having goals is how we get things done. We have learned that despite any suffering, we arrived at our destination, renewed and improved.  Apply this 40 day exercise to all of life. 
After all is said and done, we must celebrate with each other to share our joy.  Throughout Lent, and thereafter, we can offer random acts of kindness every day.  Share a smile with a stranger.  Pay it forward.  Be sweet to the grumpy person.  The universe will know you are making a difference.  Continue to be a better you.  Let go of any fear to change and give yourself a gift of love.  Pray every day and meditate on the answers. 

Tolerance for pain may be high, but it is not without limit.  Eventually everyone begins to recognize, however dimly, that there must be a better way.  As this recognition becomes more firmly established, it becomes a turning point.  A Course in Miracles

All you need is deep within you waiting to unfold and reveal itself. All you have to do is be still and take time to seek for what is within, and you will surely find it.  Eileen Caddy

Choose not to crawl in life, but to soar. Unknown

Prayer:  Dear God, please teach me how to focus on the gifts and talents in my life, rather than on my mistakes and disappointments.  Help me to focus on the positive and to genuinely rejoice in my blessings.  May this be my message today for everyone I meet:  God has given me light and I am going to let it shine.  Amen. xo

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Today is Ash Wednesday; the first day of Lent.  Being raised a Catholic, I have embraced most of what this religion stands for.  However, my life lessons have provided me with a strong faith in many other spiritual avenues.  I wholeheartedly believe that love, peace and compassion is the ultimate goal for our time on earth.  This was shared by Mohammed, Buddha and Jesus Christ.  Spirituality is personal and I do not judge others for their belief systems and live my faith via my daily actions.  There is nothing more annoying than those who use their religious beliefs as an excuse to harm others.  Sadly, we have witnessed and been victim to some who profess their high and mighty holy calling, yet are instrumental in bringing enormous grief, strife and conflict to others.  The best I can do is pray hard so they find love within themselves, for they seem to be lost in their pursuit of what Christ's true message is: to love others as you would yourself. You could pray a million rosaries and then go and break a million hearts with a harsh lash of the tongue.  Hypocrites, phonies and manipulators were common in Jesus' time and more so today. 

We enter Lent longing for a Newness that we cannot find within ourselves. The relentlessness of life meets what it needs in Lent. No matter how beleaguered we may get because of 'life' burdens, our faith convinces us that we are wanted by Someone who surpasses all our worries and our woes.  Lent is God's way of drawing us back to himself in love.  No matter what our defects may be, no matter our failures or the forgetfulness of God, the Lord asks for us again this Lent.

Lord, please take away all my resistance

Lord, please do not let me be slavish to my plans

Lord, do not let me be done in by my discouragement

Lord, let me turn over to you all my self-doubt

Lord, let me make of my life this Lent a true sacrifice to you

Lent is about rituals and tradition.  We should take these 40 days to improve ourselves, to be the best we can be inwardly and outwardly.  We are encouraged to sacrifice to better understand how and why Christ suffered.  His example is profound.  This true master talked the talk and walked the walk

Suffering is not necessary for man's development; it is the result of violation of spiritual law, but few men seem able to rouse themselves from their "soul sleep" without it. Florence Scovel Shinn
Lent is synonymous with abstinence.  Fasting means limiting oneself to one full meal on a given fast day, according to the Church. It is an obligation prohibiting the eating of meat.  A true fast means refraining from all food, allowing one to cleanse the toxins and impurities from our systems.  Physically, this is what Jesus did for 40 days.  Spiritually, we could fast by refraining from negativity.  Allow our hearts to cleanse and remove toxic thoughts and feelings so it can be open to love and forgiveness.  Emotionally, we can fast by refraining from holding on to ill feelings and adversity.  Letting go of our ego and unhealthy emotions can be a profound way to begin our journey of Lent.  True sacrifice is being discreet about it. Those who make it obvious about their piety are not being sincere.

"We're not to blow trumpets before us as we pray.  We're not to pull long faces to let everyone know of the anguish of our fasting.  We're not to set ourselves on stage, play-acting at holiness to win the approval of men. If we do, we will have our 'reward' already, dust that it is: empty praise, empty self-esteem and empty bellies." Jesus Christ

I remember 'giving up' silly things as a child, such as candy, biting my nails or swearing.  I didn't really like too much candy so it wasn't that big a deal.  Everyone gave up something and we were encouraged to do same so if we went off track, someone would call us on it and make us feel guilty.   The deeper meaning behind having children sacrifice is so they understand that by denying a treat or something we like the most is not so difficult.  It is possible to refrain from indulgences and be happy.  Mostly, it prepared us how to endure suffering.  We all experience hardships in this life; some more than others.  We wonder how God could bring tragedy and turmoil in our lives when we feel we are living as Christians and basically good lives.  No one knows the answer.  Life situations are simply life lessons. We learn from our mistakes and discover our strengths through how we handle our challenges.  That's why we have faith to sustain us.
I was given the opportunity to learn how to be a better me by Mary Kay Slowkowski, a beautiful woman I had the honor and privilege to befriend at The Goddess Touch.  She overcame agoraphobia and is a renown speaker, inspiring and motivating people all over the country.  She has been on Channel 11, WTTW, with her story and accomplishments, and she enlightened me at one of her seminars. A simple way to be your very best can be found by following this exercise.  Ask someone you trust one question and listen to their answers without making any comments, excuses, explanations or defending yourself. Take note of their opinion and take heed.  It is amazing how a simple question can help us realize how others see us and how we can be better.


gentle reminder:  ashes to ashes, dust to dust

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

another one bites the dust

Mother Nature left me a birthday bouquet.  Thanks.  This is a gentle reminder that winter is still upon us and not leaving anytime soon.  Oh well.  Another year has come and gone.  I remember dreading the 50s, but actually, they are not so bad.  My early years were childlike, my teens tumultuous, my 20s filled with new beginnings - a husband, 2 new homes, 2 babies, a career.  My 30s graced me with another son and new passions - dance, tae kwon do and taking care of the family.  Juggling was integral.  My 40s were the best. My business flourished and I was at my healthiest. I befriended so many people and learned more than I could have ever dreamed I would know.  The 50s have been about financial goals and closing many doors and opening numerous windows.  All monetary issues have evaporated.  In a few months our beloved home will be owned solely by us, not the bank.  Adios mortgage. Now we can accomplish our lifetime goal to provide the most for our sons.  They will never want for anything; and thankfully, carry with them the understanding and appreciation of  how glorious it feels to be self-sufficient and begin their futures debt free. Life is so much more enjoyable when money restraints are not an issue.  There is a great pride attached to accomplishments through hard work, determination, perseverance and wise investing. The road is long and winding, but there is always a finish line.

I am only a few years into the 50s, but definitely feel a slowdown in my pace. That's alright with me.  Simple pleasures are significant. I enjoy writing and sharing my journey. I embrace the little projects that bring joy to my boys.  Travelling will be our next adventure. I look forward to checking off the big to do list and making a bigger to enjoy list.   I imagine the 60s will be about settling down.  Lord willing, we still have a way to go before that phase. Perhaps then I'll make my bucket list.  We'll get there when we get there. 

This is Dan doing what he loves best - drumming on his DWs.  He took lessons for 8 years when he was younger but his skill keeps improving the more he plays.  He was the drummer for a band called Harmony of Lies for awhile.  They played at many lounges and made a CD.   Wayne and I had fun playing groupies. They practiced in our home for quite some time.  Dan decided to beat to his own drum and play his unique style.  It is not uncommon for him to play for 3-4 hours at a time, but mostly just 2. My ears thank him for that.  He just purchased a new snare drum which is bringing him much joy.  He gets quite a workout while playing so he really accomplishes a lot while doing what he loves.  His towels are soaked after a drum run.  Who needs a sauna?  Just go to his room after a session.  Hot.

When he is not attending school at DePaul, he bartends at Gold Class Cinema in Bolingbrook.  Wayne and I went on a date over the weekend to see Valentine's Day.  Dan was our server and we were so impressed at how professional he is.  He made our experience so delightful.  He gave us such pride. We witnessed how he interacts with other patrons and he can mix drinks like nobody's business.  He reminded me of Tom Cruise in Cocktail. And he knows how to wash the dishes!  Who knew?  Dan will always strive to be the best he can be.  Now to convince him how awesome he is.  He's getting there.  Wait until he shows the world what he can do!

Mike and Margarita are beginning to nest and continue their journey together.  They are focusing on their careers and making memories.  They went to their boss' getaway home in Michigan for the weekend and had a great bonding experience.  He is just beginning his own journey and the choices that he has made up to this point have proven what a truly remarkable man he has become.  He has accompished a lot for his tender age and he has only just begun. Watch out, world!

Steve is right where he wants to be at this time in his life.  He has great plans and a whole new life ahead of him.  Nothing can stop him now.  I am anxious to begin reading the novel he has been writing and was astounded to find it's 2 inches thick and still not complete.  Once the weather breaks we have huge garden plans.  He is embracing the college world and is so at ease with it.  He just grooved in.  His imagination will lead him to great things.  Get ready for him!

This is the best birthday present a mother could ever hope for:  the loves of her life are blossoming.  They are happy, healthy and loved.  And they know it.  Many times kids take things for granted and miss the opportunities to be the best they can be.  We can proudly say that at this point in time, all of them have arrived in the exact place they need to be to continue their journey. 

Today I thank God for getting through another challenging, yet fulfilling year.   I look forward to all the blessings I know are in store for us.  Any obstacles Wayne and I endured have only made us stronger.  Once we realized how resilient we can be, we realized that life is simple.   And together we are a force to be reckoned with.  Life is like a circle and now it's time to enjoy the good things.  In a few months we will celebrate 30 years of marriage. How quickly life goes by, but I never let it go by without living it to its fullest. When I took a breath to blow the candles out, I had nothing more to wish for - my heart was filled with gratitude for all I have at this moment.  My heart is leaping with love for all those who have been a part of my life - it was truly heartwarming to receive all the warm wishes on my birthday. 
I am blessed and I know it! And those paczki donuts are waiting for me to sample them. Yum!

there is no greater thing than to love and to be loved xo

Monday, February 15, 2010

our presidents

my favorite brothers

In honor of President's Day, I am sharing a method we can use to attempt to remember all of our fearless leaders in days past.  Dr. Subak provided this to my eldest son years ago as he went through vision therapy and I thought it was an excellent way to help remember something as important as our country's leaders without getting overwhelmed.  Try it, it's fun.
As you can see a woman is WASHING-a-TON of clothes that were brought to her by another lady with a large ADAM'S apple.  WASHING-a-TON will remind you of WASHINGTON (WASHING-a-TON = WASHINGTON) and the woman with the large ADAM'S apple will remind you of ADAMS. (ADAM'S apple = ADAMS) The woman who brought the clothes is looking over her shoulder at a CHEF who is HER-SON.  He even has the words HER-SON on his Apron to help you further.  (CHEF-HER-SON = JEFFERSON)  The chef is MAD-AT the SUN because he is cooking outdoors and the sun is causing him to perspire heavily.  As you can see, he is shaking his fist at the sun. (MAD-AT-SUN = MADISON)  While this is going on, a MAN is ROW-ing a boat in a nearby pond.  (MAN-ROW = MONROE)

As you can see, the man rowing the boat also has a large ADAM'S apple which will tell you that the president who succeeded Monroe was also named ADAMS. (This is the second president by that name.  (ADAM'S apple - ADAMS)  The man is about to row his boat into a toy JACK that is sitting on a small SUN on the edge of the pond.  (JACK-SUN = JACKSON)  The jack and the sun have fallen out of a moving VAN with a dresser BUREAU-IN the back of it. (VAN-BUREAU-IN = VAN BUREN)  The sign on the side of the moving van is A HAIRY-SUN which will remind you that HARRISON was the then next president.  (HAIRY-SUN = HARRISON) On the corner of the street to the right of the moving van with the hairy sun on it, a man is carrying a stack of floor tiles.  He is a TILER (a man who lays tiles on floors).  (TILER = TYLER)

In this picture, to the right of the man holding the floor tiles, is a man dressed in a POLKa-dotted POKE. ("Poke" is a slang for a grocery sack.)  This will remind you that the president who followed Tyler was POLK.  (POKE, POLKA = POKE)  The man is being measured by a TAILOR.  He is going to make a new suit.  This will tell you that TAYLOR was the next president.  (TAILOR=TAYLOR)  The tailor's helper is standing behind him and his pockets are FILLed with much MORE equipment that they can possibly use.  As you can see, it is falling all over the ground.  (FILL-MORE = FILLMORE)  The tailor's helper has just tossed a large needle over his shoulder.  The needle has PIERCEd a BLUE-CANNON.  This will tell you that PIERCE and BUCHANAN were the next two presidents.  (PIERCE = PIERCE); (BLUE-CANNON = BUCHANAN)

As you look back at the picture, you will notice that BLUE-CANNON is LINKed-ON to a LINCOLN automobile by a chain.  LINK-ON and the LINCOLN automobile will remind you that President LINCOLN came after Buchanon.  (LINK-ON = LINCOLN)  The driver of the Lincoln automobile is a YAWNing SUN and YAWN-SUN will remind you that JOHNSON followed Lincoln.  (YAWN-SUN = JOHNSON) As you can see, the yawning sun has a large piece of GRANITE rock in the trunk of the car.  GRANITE will remind you that GRANT followed JOHNSON. (GRANITE = GRANT)  Just behind the car are some stacks of Hay.  The stacks of HAY will remind you that the next president is HAYES. (HAY = HAYES)  There is another CAR in the middle of the hay FIELD.  CAR-FIELD will remind you that GARFIELD succeeded HAYES. (CAR-FIELD = GARFIELD)

In this picture, you can see a man walking away from the car in the field.  He has a pencil behind his ear and is carrying a typewriter and typing paper.  He is an AUTHOR who is preparing to write a book.  Author will tell you that ARTHUR is the president who followed Garfield.  (AUTHOR= ARTHUR)  As you can see, the author is stepping over a meat cleaver stuck in the ground that someone has used to CLEAVE the LAND.  CLEVE-LAND will remind you that CLEVELAND followed Arthur.  (CLEVE-LAND = CLEVELAND)  A HAIRY-SUN is holding the cleaver in its right hand.  HAIRY-SUN will remind you of HARRISON who was the next president.  (HAIRY-SUN = HARRISON)  With its left hand the hairy sun has used another meat cleaver to CLEAVE the LAND again to remind you that President CLEVELAND was elected a second time to succeed President Harrison. (CLEAVE-LAND = CLEVELAND) When the hairy sun cleaved the land with its left hand, it struck the end piece of firewood and caused it to flip up into a MACK truck loaded with KINDLING (kindling is a firewood.)  MACK-KINDLING will remind you that MCKINLEY followed President Cleveland after his second term in office. 

Examine the picture again and you will notice that the truck loaded with the kindling ran into a ROSE made of FELT. ROSE-FELT will remind you that the president who followed McKinley was ROOSEVELT. (ROSE-FELT = ROOSEVELT) The rose cannot get out of the path of the truck because it is stuck in some TAFFY candy.  TAFFY will remind you that TAFT was the next president. (TAFFY = TAFT) A WILL (last will and testament) standing on a small SUN tries to help the rose by pulling the taffy.  WILL-SUN will remind you that WILSON was the next president who followed Taft. (WILL-SUN = WILSON) Writing on the will is a very HARD bottle of INK.  You know that the ink is hard because it is hitting itself with a hammer and it doesn't break! HARD-INK reminds you that HARDING was the next president.  (HARD-INK = HARDING)  You can see that the hard ink is on a COOL-LEDGE.  We know the ledge is very cool because there are icicles hanging down.  COOL-LEDGE will remind you that COOLIDGE was the president who followed Harding (COOL-LEDGE = COOLIDGE)

In this picture you will notice that a HOOVER vacuum cleaner is hanging on the right side of the cool ledge.  The Hoover sweeper will remind you that President HOOVER came after President Coolidge.  (HOOVER = HOOVER) You will also notice that a ROSE made of FELT is about to be sucked into the Hoover sweeper. ROSE-FELT will remind you that the next president was ROOSEVELT. (This is the second president by that name.) (ROSE-FELT = ROOSEVELT.)  A TRUE magazine is being read by a man who is trying to keep the rose from being sucked into the sweeper.  TRUE-MAN will remind you that President TRUMAN followed President Roosevelt. (TRUE-MAN = TRUMAN)  The man reading the True magazine is leaning against some EYES that are drawn ON a tall TOWER. EYES-ON-TOWER will remind you that EISENHOWER followed President Truman. (EYE-ON-TOWER = EISENHOWER)  On top of the tall tower is a CAN-OF 'D's.' CAN-OF-D's' will remind you that President KENNEDY followed President Eisenhower. (CAN-OF-D's' = KENNEDY.)

Examine the picture and you will notice that a YAWNing SUN is in the sky next to the can of letter 'D's. YAWN-SUN will remind you that President JOHNSON followed President Kennedy. (YAWN-SUN = JOHNSON)  Look at the yawning sun and you will see that it has NICKS-ON it.  NICKS-ON will remind you that NIXON was next.  (NICKS-ON = NIXON)  You will notice that a FORD automobile reached up and put the nicks on the sun with a small knife.  A FORD automobile will remind you that Ford followed President Nixon.  (FORD = FORD)  Notice that the Ford automobile has a lady's GARTER around its middle.  GARTER will remind you that CARTER followed Ford.  (GARTER = CARTER.) The garter is being shot by a RAY-GUN, reminding us of President REAGAN. (RAY-GUN = REAGAN.) The ray gun is caught in a BUSH.  This reminds us that our next president was BUSH (BUSH = BUSH).  Repeat for his son BUSH and now our current president is BARACK OBAMA. 

And there you have it!

Hail to the Chief


Sunday, February 14, 2010

happy valentine's day

tell those you love that you do...

xo  xo  xo



Saturday, February 13, 2010

the cookie: intimacy

I have not met a man that doesn't love a cookie.  Figuratively and literally.  Cookie: intimacy.  Cookies are sweet, tasty treats that please the palate.  Cookies are warm, fulfilling, delicious. I always have cookies around the house for the boys to enjoy.  I like having a variety, plus they look so cute.  But my true topic for today is about the other cookie.  Intimacy is an act evidencing close familiarity with a person. It is being personal and private and pertains to our innermost part or essential nature.  Intimacy is about bonding in the highest form.  As humans, we need this to survive.  Without it, we are alone and lonesome.  We need warmth and affection, but most importantly, we need to feel close, desired and loved.  Being intimate is the way we display our feelings with our bodies.  To be intimate requires imagination, fantasy and passion.  I have learned that most people, especially women, are most willing to be intimate when they know they are desired.  If not, they feel empty.  Desire is a huge trigger for orgasm, the ultimate testament to passionate pleasure.  We all strive for that moment of ecstasy.  It is brilliant.  What a beautiful gift from God to bless us with this joyful, happy ending.  It is a fact that having an orgasm releases tremendous amounts of stress.  However, one can achieve intimacy without scoring everytime.  Too much pressure is put on people to achieve this higher level and it is really the journey getting there that defines intimacy.  Women need about 30 minutes to come to fruition, whereas a man only needs 3.  We are very mental in our sexuality and we require different types of stimulation than men.  It's how we are wired.  Nevertheless, a man who puts his mate's needs before his own is the ultimate lover.  Hands down. 
The hardest part about keeping intimacy in a relationship is the timing.  We are created so differently that one could say it is impossible to get in sync.  I beg to differ, for where there's a will, there's a way.  Men have extremely strong sexual desires when they are younger, whereas a woman has this much later in life.  How to make it work?  Go with the flow.  Lover's Lane and Tabou Tabou offer a variety of toys to help spice up the bedroom.  Play games, dress up (or down), watch good porn together, read racy romantic novels. Listen to Laura Berman.  As a sex therapist, she is quite knowledgeable about this topic.  She is a professional and encounters all types of issues in this arena.  According to the Chakra system, the area that dictates sensuality is just below the navel and the color associated is orange. Orange affects the adrenal system, pushing energy into your system.  Wear more orange if your sensuality needs boosting.  Set up orange flowers, lights, colored objects to use the power of orange. Chant Vam (pronounced Vum) and draw energy from the body, earth and finally the Cosmos into the area of this Chakra.Wear greens and blues to soothe if you need to tone it down and have too much energy. Take heed, Tiger. These colors trigger the endocrine system and a set of neurotransmitters are produced which calm and inspire slower, gentler spirituality.  Chant Yam (pronounced Yum) to relax. Sensations associated are neutralizing, soothing, love, compassion and fulfilling.
Love is the beautiful, irresistible, natural force in all our lives.  When we're alone, we feel empty.  We often become consumed with finding someone who will help us become complete.  When we find someone to love who loves us, our hearts soar.  The flowers are more beautiful, the air is fresher, the clouds speak to us of truth. And for most of us, sex is so passionate and satisfying that we can't get enough. Our bodies become divine musical instruments.  Our merging tastes like the nectar of the gods dripping inside our bodies. 

Then, for too many of us, something changes.  We develop habits, scripts, expectations of each other.  The challenges of life stress us.  The details of work, home and kids absorb us.  We get overextended, trying to make ends meet.  We get tired.  We get so damn used to each other.  We're too busy to notice our hearts closing.  Too often sex becomes an afterthought to release pent-up biological forces.  It becomes an almost boring late night affair with two sleepy ex-lovers going through the motions in a well-known routine. The conscious ones among us wonder where did all that joyous energy go? With Tantra, you can change your life and rekindle your love.  You can make each moment together fresh and new. You can make every challenge of life a glorious experiment.  You can become childlike again, taking joy in learning about yourself and discovering each other in new ways.  In the best-selling series of books, Conversations With God, God says that the purpose of life is to find out who you really are.  And being in a relationship is the best way to find out who you really are.
Tantra is not a religion.  It is a non-denominational spirtual practice over 5,000 years old from India which has shown people of all beliefs how to raise consciousness by embracing life more fully. Tantra was born through spirituality and sexuality with Shiva; Shakti gave form to his spirit and created the universe.  Tantra, therefore, views the creation of the world as an erotic act of love. The joyful dance between Shiva and Shakti is reflected in all living beings and manifests itself as pleasure, beauty and happiness.  This is the nature of the divine, the root of all that exists.  If you find what brings you joy, your divine essence flows and you'll feel and project serenity, inner peace and compassion.   Tantra teaches us how to welcome, accept and use the energy of life to grow.  It teaches us how to accept, not deny; how to welcome, not resist; how to enjoy what feels good without judging.  Our minds have been filled with all sorts of ideas that don't work, instead causing stress, problems and pain. Tantra says listen to your own heart and spirit.  If you're truly awake, you'll hear your own truth.  The path of Tantra uses the natural energies of life to help you find your deeper higher self and fuel personal growth.  Tantra says to accept the intelligence of the universe that drives each of us in different directions.  Some might say this is the divine working with us. Just don't fight life, because then you'll be blocking your inner desires and struggling through life with internal conflict.  If you want to paint, make time for art.  If you want to play sports, go for it.  If you want to love, open your heart and follow where it leads.
In practical terms, Tantra becomes a series of holistic exercises to connect on multiple channels with the beloved, each partner coming from an authentic, honest, deeply self-aware place.  This kind of harmony only arrives through knowing ourselves honestly enough to see past limiting preferences into the soul of our beloved as a reflection of god or goddess and merging with all energies - body, heart, mind, spirit.  When both partners master and project all levels of their innate energies, they bridge the physical separation, resonate together and create a unique and powerful synergy.  In Tantric practice, sex becomes a means, not an end.  We open to all aspects of  life energy.  We learn to relax our bodies, heighten our senses, deeply experience our feelings.  We drop goals and standards of how to perform, and don't seek orgasm in bed or ecstasy in life. In spite of having no sexual expectations, orgasms naturally expand and become stronger, longer, deeper, and more cosmic for both partners.  You each take more joy in breathing, moving and simply being together.  A relationship becomes a space of spiritual communion where you float in ecstacy together.  You don't strive for reaching any state, you just bask in the pleasure your bodies naturally produces.  By letting orgasmic energy pump through your own body and in and out of your partner's body, you create a circle.  Distance and separation fall away and you feel as if you were one. Tantric love play is just that, playful.  It's creative, spontaneous and always different.  There are no taboos, inhibitions or boundaries, other than what you create to move in the direction you want at the speed you choose. 
7 years into marriage, three quarters of couples say they are dissatisfied with their sex lives and might consider straying. 

67% of women suffer from unmet needs. 

The average man ejaculates within 2 to 2.5 minutes of insertion into the female.

By the age of 27, 97% of men can't have erections 1/5 as much as when they were 20.

30 million men in the USA alone suffer from erectile dysfunction. 

Nearly 80 million men are unsatisfied with their ability to stay erect long enough.

These are not snapple facts, merely research facts.

The right brain contains the 5th brain circuit which is a holistic, superconscious state and is a major goal of tantric rituals.  Opening the 5th brain circuit, represented in the Tree of Life, brings the feeling of bliss, a vision of wholeness, the ability to see holistically and a neurosomatic ability. Another right brain activity is sex. When this brain circuit is energized, chemical changes are made in the body and brain which are enormously healing, inspirational and energizing.  Many tantric rituals, many techniques of the Tree of Life, and much of the teachings of the Tao, are designed to energize these circuits.  Methods of opening the right brain functions include music, sex, art, polarity therapy, massage, color therapy, aroma therapy and accupressure.  Music that promotes 5th brain circuit activity includes instrumental music, classical, light jazz and excludes heavy metal, strong drum beats, music with words, country/western.  Delerium has an excellent CD called Karma and Enigma's greatest hits are perfect for promoting the activity.  Paintings of inspirational character, appropriate colors, gentle humans, cats, nature and other inspiring things need to be kept close.  Jarring, shocking, harmful, stressful things need to be kept at bay while learning to get and keep 5th circuit activation.  Exercise, creative activity such as painting, playing musical instruments, meditating, yoga exercises and especially sexual activity in all forms; imaging, fantasizing, masturbating, coitus, touching and playing, is extremely important.  The sex act is commonly divided into four portions; arousal, plateau stage, orgasm and relaxation.  To gain plateau stage of sexual performance requires that arousal be maintained for a period of time longer than 7 minutes.  After 7 minutes of arousal, most people enter the plateau stage of sexual activity and begin to change their body and brain chemistry to one which is similar to the chemistry of puberty.  This is the strongest healing and holistic chemistry the body knows and when prolonged will always bring 5th circuit activity.  This is the time to practice Dianism, a practice of abundant sexual activity without orgastic emissions.  This especially applies to males.  The musician Sting boasts he practices Dianism and last 7 hours.  Females may have many orgasms as long as they don't have so many they cause the chemical factories to shut down.  With practice, males may maintain a near orgasm for long periods of time without emission and chemical factory shut down.

This may be difficult to imagine for some of you, but a kiss can lead to so many other things.  A soft, wet, passion-filled kiss can make both of you feel like undressing and reliving "the first time."

Approach her from behind, turn her around, stop her from uttering a word, and plant your lips softly against her whilst licking her lips and teasing her tongue.  This will unmistakenly turn what was supposed to be a quiet evening at home into anything but.  xo

"and I would be the one
to hold you down
kiss you so hard
I'll take your breath away"

sarah maclaughlin

"I just want to make you close you eyes"

dirks bently