Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Heart Monitor

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
The other day I wrote about the controversial Indian guru Osho and his belief that intuition comes from the heart. I wrote about affirmations to open up your heart shakra. Sending messages of love and comfort to anyone who might need it that day. Than I packed up my computer to meet a  friend for lunch. To my surprise, she showed up wearing a heart monitor. This is my friend that is the high powered medical malpractice litigator. You have heard the joke about attorneys with no heart. She delivered quite a punch line when she collapsed in court. Not only does she have a heart, it appears to be broken. Seems stress and hating her job finally caught up with her. Now she has wires and gadgets sticking out of her clothes. She said that if the monitor alarm goes off, she needs to stop, rest and check how she is feeling.

Maybe my reaction was insensitive. But my first thought was we should all wear one of those things. So many years of being “asleep at the wheel” has led to a complete lack of body and emotional awareness. Do you eat when your hungry? Do you sleep when your tired? Do you cry when your sad? When your sad, do you know why? When your joyful, does there have to be a reason? 

These are all questions that I don’t always have the right answer to. I don’t know how I am feeling and worse I stopped wondering why a long time ago. This blog is a step in the re-awakening process for me.  It is my heart monitor. My friend waited until her body screamed for attention. Demanded it.  I don’t want to wait. But in a weird way, I am envious of her gadget. It takes the guess work out of it. She has to be introspective. She has to nurture herself. 

What is your heart monitor?

Time Travel Tuesday- Let's Pretend

Hold on, man.  We don't go anywhere with "scary," "spooky," "haunted," or "forbidden" in the title.  
~From Scooby-Doo

According to the National Retail Federation, 170 million people will spend 8 billion dollars on Halloween costumes, props and candy this year. Those numbers are not shocking to me.  I live in a funky historic haven for the well travelled and well read.  My neighbors have seen and done it all.  But I don’t think I could find one, no matter how versed, who has experienced a Halloween to rival what happens tomorrow night in our little burg. 

Every year, we start talking theme in June. One year, we were infested with spiders. There was the ghost year. The “It” Penny Wise clown year where we gave out balloons. The Carn-Evil theme gave us reason to dress up as side show freaks. People say their kids are still afraid to walk on our side of the street because of that. Still, there is no keeping up with the Jones. People build stages, hire dance troupes and fire eaters and even Cirque du Soleil acrobats. There will be more than man on stilts and more than one cotton candy machine. I could buy candy for one thousand kids and still run out. No exaggeration.

I loved the spooky holiday long before we moved here. It started 13 years ago when my son was born on October 29th, just in time for a costume in the hospital. The title of Mother gave me an excuse to relive childhood. That is the attraction of the holiday, right? You get to pretend you are someone else. You get to play dress up. You get to give and get treats. Sometimes, you get away with tricks. It isn’t the kids spending 8 billion dollars on stuff. It is the grown ups who wouldn’t dream of turning a sheet into a ghost or a box into a prop.

For this Time Travel Tuesday, I am playing Old School Halloween. Try it, it’s a fun game. We built a movie screen with sheets and two by fours. We built robots out of boxes. We repurposed landscaped lights to light up windows that make our house look like a giant robot. I would like to say this was my idea. It was my son’s. I would like to say we didn’t spend any money. I just had to buy a DJ quality laser machine. Hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t I have a consumer responsibility to the holiday? To the economy? But we created most of it ourselves. I will spend the remainder of the day painting the LMFAO Party Rock logo on a stage sign and downloading LMFAO Party Rock Music Video for our projector. Tonight, we will have a dress rehearsal and than drive around to look at everyone else’s masterpieces.

Halloween has an unquestionable attraction of allowing us to pretend that we are someone else playing somewhere else.  But there is more to it. Halloween is the one holiday that really allows us to embrace the four stages of happiness (anticipate, Savor, express, reflect) without all the pressure imposed by other holidays. Think about it. How many divorced parents do we have to visit on Thanksgiving? Christmas has the whole gift giving stress. New Years and Valentine’s Day can be expectation nightmares. Halloween is just plain fun.

Four stages of Happiness
Anticipate: What will I be for Halloween?
Savor: Decorating, party planning, trick or treating
Express: I love Halloween!
Reflect: Let’s trade candy. Let’s post pictures. 

What will you be for Halloween?

Friday, October 26, 2012

Love, Love, Love

When the body functions spontaneously, that is called instinct. When the soul functions spontaneously, that is called intuition. They are alike and yet far away from each other.

All month, I have read about different people's takes on intuition. While their are subtle differences of opinion on how to cultivate it or what it is, everything seemed to share a "thinking without thinking" definition. Thinking comes from your head, right? Last night, I started reading Osho's book Intuition, Knowing Beyond Logic. The Indian mystic begins by saying, "intellect is the functioning of your head, instinct is the functioning of your body and intuition is the functioning of your heart". The Heart? Hmmm. This was new to me. Than this morning, I received an email from a local yoga teacher who recently opened a new wellness center called Namaste Yoga and Massage. I had asked Jackie Loudakis to explain how she gets in touch with her intuition. What she sent me is all about the heart! Here is helpful information on working on your heart chakra, which will also help with intuition. Information that came at a perfect time for a multitude of reasons. Thank you Jackie!

Heart Chakra – Center of Chest

Color: Green or Pink

Purpose: Emotional Empowerment

Spiritual Lesson: Forgiveness, unconditional love, letting go, trust, compassion

Reasons for an Imbalance:

"Love Heals All" has great truth.  Hurtful situations that can affect our emotional being are divorce or separation, grief through death, emotional abuse, abandonment, and adultery.

 All of these are wounding to the heart chakra.

Physical illnesses brought about by heartbreak require that an emotional healing occur along with the physical healing. 

Learning to love you is a powerful first step in securing a healthy fourth chakra. 

The "wounded child" resides in the heart chakra.

Positive affirmations for this chakra

I deeply and truly love and approve of myself.
I am adequate at all times to do that which is required of me.
I love who I am.
I am willing to love everything about myself.
I trust in love.
I open my heart to love.
I forgive myself
I forgive those who need forgiving for not being what I wanted them to be.
I acknowledge my own loveliness.
I am pure, good, and innocent.
Love is the purpose of my life.
Love is everywhere.
I open myself to the healing powers of love.
I follow the path of the heart.
I am confident that the healing power of God's love will heal my mind,heart, and body.

Physical Dysfunctions:
Heart conditions, asthma, lung & breast cancers, thoracic spine, pneumonia, upper back, shoulder problems 
Mental and Emotional Issues:
Love, compassion, confidence, inspiration, hope, despair, hate, envy, fear, jealousy, anger, generosity 
Area of Body Governed:
Heart, circulatory system, blood, lungs, rib cage, diaphragm, thymus, breasts, esophagus, shoulders, arms, hands

Thursday, October 25, 2012

No Such Thing As A Coincidence

Coincidence is the word we use when we can't see the lever and pulleys
-Emma Bull

Long before I started this year long experiment in being more childlike, long before this month’s study of childlike intuition, I was intrigued by synchronicity. Some call it coincidence. Others call them signs,  God winks, universe whispers, divine nudges, random patterns, serendipity or flow. I looked on my bookshelf and counted twelve books on the topic of synchronicity alone. The reason I once studied coincidences is because they happen so frequently to me. Sometimes it is thinking about an old friend and than she calls out of the blue. Maybe it is running into your neighbor half way across the world. Recently, while window shopping in a tiny Midwestern town, I walked into what I thought was a quaint bookstore, only to learn it is a publisher’s office, which every writer needs. We all have our stories. Maybe for you it’s feelings of deja vu or people you recognize instantly but have never met. 

When it happens, I always look for the meaning or message. I have always believed everything happens for a reason. But I have always viewed them as external experiences.  Laura Day’s book, “How to Rule The World From Your Couch”, is making me see it from a different perspective. The way I interpret Day’s latest book on intuition, she believes coincidences are not happening to you, they are happening because of you. Your subconscious thoughts are either attracting experiences and people into your life or your picking up on future experiences so you are better prepared to deal with what lies ahead. Day talks a lot about  telepathy, remote viewing and precognition as natural abilities that fall under the wider umbrella of intuition.  Her example that stuck out was the countless stories from New Yorkers who didn’t go to work on 9-11 because of all sorts of random unexplained reasons. 

Who is orchestrating the unexplained in your life? Do you believe in coincidences?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Little Bird Told Me

Aspire rather to be a hero than merely appear one.
-Baltasar Gracian 17th Century Jesuit Philosopher

Sometimes I feel like a fraud. Frequently, lately. Not sure if it is a a lack of concentrated effort on my part or just life. Surrounded by piles of dishes and boxes of Halloween decorations yet to be hung, I am struggling to find time to write or meditate or practice any of the ideas explored on this blog. I have not tried most of the techniques for cultivating intuition suggested in Laura Day’s book How To Rule the World From Your Couch yet. But maybe just reading about intuition, just thinking about being more intuitive is a worthwhile beginning. Since I started reading the book, I have had vivid, memorable dreams.

The other night I dreamt that my daughter was holding my hand when I answered the door. A little black bird with the sweetest woman’s voice said “how does it feel to be a mommy? Before I could answer, the bird asked a follow up question “and how does it feel to be a superhero?”. I protested, I am no hero. To which the bird replied, “Actually, you are.” Than the bird asked to use my bathroom. As soon as I let it in, a man dressed like a tooth fairy tried to walk in behind the bird. I shut the door on that weirdo. Pretty soon, a line started forming outside our house to see the superhero inside.

So here is my interpretation of the dream:  to my daughter, I am a superhero.  To a child, their parents have all the answers. Parents are capable of everything. Going to Disney. Visiting Grandma. Cooking a favorite food. Making you feel safe. From a child’s perspective, driving a car or bringing them on a plane ride is no less wondrous than flying with a cape. What about making ice cream appear on demand, kissing boo-boos all better and knowing how to read bedtime stories? Super!

I felt like the tooth fairy trying to sneak in behind the bird in my dream signified the short window that my child will believe that I am a superhero before the invisibility cloak stops  hiding my flaws. Will I have as long as their belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny or will they figure me out right away? Finally, the line forming outside our house in the dream seemed to tell me that: if I could be as my daughter sees me, I really would be a hero. I really would be somebody people worth  getting to know.

But I couldn’t figure out the blackbird. Why a blackbird? My daughter uses the word “actually” quite frequently. She was holding my hand in the dream. Wasn’t it her talking to me? Maybe I needed something as unreal as a talking bird to capture my attention and make me remember. But here is what blew me away. Just out of curiosity, I looked up the symbolism of  “blackbird in dreams”. According to My Dream Meanings, the blackbird represents:

pessimism and negativity. The loss of positive thinning tends to hold you in your tracks, thus preventing you from accomplishing anything in waking hours. With the blackbird in mind, your sense of responsibility is overwhelmed by doom and gloom.

The definition was right on the money. That is not my subjective interpretation. No one told me about a blackbird’s meaning before hand. I was feeling like a fraud, demotivated, pessimistic and my subconscious conjured up a symbol of those very emotions. If you can train yourself to jot down your dreams as soon as you wake up, it is fascinating to look up the symbolism behind them. 

My take away is not a new pastime to interpret dreams, but to take action on the dream messages that I can remember. For this dream, I am going to live by a new motto WWASHD? In other words, I am going to embody the superhero that my daughter sees in me and ask myself What Would A Super Hero Do?

If you don’t have children or your children are past the point of that blind faith, pick someone you love that makes you feel special. What do they love about you? What potential do they see in you or did they once see? Go back to that time. Go back to that feeling. Embrace their image of you with your cape on. If they are still alive, can you treat them as your first believer? Treat them like their superhero would treat them. If you can earn one true believer, wouldn’t it be easier to believe in yourself? Wouldn’t you really be a hero?

Who is your Lois Lane? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trusting "It" Again

At times you have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover is yourself.
-Alan Alda

Last week, I was wondering around this big abandoned mansion taking pictures. There was a large fenced off area in the back with overgrown weeds. When I looked from the top of the fence, I could tell it was a drained pond. My 4-year old daughter asked me to pick her up because she couldn’t see the pond. I looked down and realized she couldn’t see anything except weeds and fence. So how did she know it was a pond? She said "she just knew."

I have lots of stories like that when my son was around her age. One time, a stranger commented about our dog and challenged my son to guess what unusual pet she had at home. He told her with confidence she had a tortoise. I didn’t even know he knew the word tortoise. The stranger was astonished. When my son was 3, he used to talk in his sleep. I remember him blurting out words that I had just been dreaming about, almost like our unconscious minds were plugged into the same story. So what is that all about?

Laura Day, author of the New York Times bestseller Practical Intuition says we are all born with innate intuition. It is the sense that helpless infants must depend on most. According to Day, babies don’t know language, reason or logic yet. They can’t distinguish the difference between themselves and their environment, so in a primal way they become one with the emotions and thoughts of the people or events around them. The  ability to read minds or know things beyond their comprehension stays with children until they are taught not to trust “it” anymore.

I am currently reading Day’s more recent book, How to Rule The World From Your Couch. The book distinguishes between different forms of intuition including telepathy, remote viewing, precognition and healing. One fundamental form is called “information gathering” or those flashes of knowledge that seem to come to you when your communing in nature, meditating or just waking up. Day describes the ability of babies to become one with those around them as “mediumship”.  This may sound like hocus-pocus to some, but Day suggests if you can reconnect with those skills, there are a host of practical applications for adults. Wouldn’t it be beneficial to view a past experience with clarity, research ideas more comprehensively and perceive the world in an objective way? Mediumship or becoming one with someone else’ perspective can help you understand your competitors and determine how to sell a product from your consumer’s point of view.

Haven’t you ever known a mother who just knew something was wrong and stepped in at the right moment or someone who didn’t take the reassuring word of their doctor because they felt something was amiss? Have you ever worked with one of those amazing sales people who seemed to be able to read people? I have often thought when watching Tiger Woods make some of those impossible shots earlier in his career that he seemed to have a mental connection with the ball. The good news is that we all have the ability if we consciously develop it. With practice, we can even rely on it again just as surely as our sight or sense of smell. Here are some of the exercises I am trying out based on Day’s suggestions:

Information Gathering/Problem Solving
1. Be specific about the question.
2. Think about it. Than let it go.
3. Breathe deeply and meditate.
4. Write down everything that comes to your awareness during meditation.
5. Practice! Be intentional about developing this skill by carving out space and time to regularly focus your attention and intentions.

1. Practice conscious role playing by becoming someone or something else. 
2. What is that person’s routine? Where do they spend their time ? With who? What do they eat? What are their dreams? Their hang ups? Let go of yourself and completely immerse yourself in someone else’s perspective. 
3. Than write everything down that came to your mind while role playing.

How do you refocus your intuition?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Guest Contributor- Your Child's Imaginary Friends

The hearts of little children are pure, and therefore, the Great Spirit may show to them many things which older people miss.
-Black Elk 

Susanne Alexander Heaton is my Internet version of Tinker Bell. I tweeted a few months ago how sad it is my 12-year old stopped believing in magic. Next thing I know, from the anonymous space of social media, the award-winning author was sending me helpful links and inspirational quotes. Alexander-Heaton wrote her book to deal with the death of a child. She has survived loss, cancer and burn out. Yet, her light still shines bright. Every day, Susanne finds a way to help others realize their dreams, tap into their creative potential and live a more abundant life. 

Her book, the ABC Field Guide to Faeries is a new favorite in our home. Although we have never met, she has touched my life and seemed like the perfect guest contributor on the topic of intuition.  To learn more about Susanne Alexander-Heaton, please visit her website at www.motivatedbynature.com and www.abcfaeries.com

Your Child's Imaginary Friends and Nurturing Intuition
By Susanne Alexander-Heaton

Children have the ability to see what some of us are no longer able to because they have not yet been “domesticated” by what adults deem to be reality.

Has your child talked to you about imaginary friends?  Did you have imaginary friends when you were young?  Are you comfortable speaking with your child about this topic?

When children are able to see things, they believe that everyone else can see them too.  Let them know that what they are seeing is a special gift and be willing to talk with them about it.  Listening is the first step to nurturing this wonderful ability.  Encouraging your child to stay connected with what they “see” actually can help them to trust their intuition about people, situations and to know right from wrong.  A phrase definitely not to use is, “You are too young to know anything.”

For skeptics out there, it has been scientifically proven that when we are born, our brain waves are predominately in the Delta state from birth to four years of age.  This state is associated with deep sleep, rejuvenation and the unconscious mind.  When you see a young child pointing to something that you don’t see, you can be assured that they are either connecting with loved ones who have crossed over or their guardian angels.  

From ages 4-7, children move to higher levels of brain waves in the subconscious called Theta. This state allows children to have an open mind.  The caution here to all caregivers is that this state has no filters, so children easily take in positive as well as negative feedback.  Therefore, this is a critical stage to help encourage your child’s intuition.  A great tool to help with this process is meditation.  If meditation is modelled in the early years, it will help enhance all other areas of your child’s life.  

Intuition ties us to our soul.  The soul has great wisdom, so tapping into intuition also taps into our soul and all the answers that we already have inside of us.  The more one trusts their intuition, the more they can tap into their own inner wisdom.  Wouldn’t you prefer to help to encourage your child to go within to seek answers to questions that they have, instead of looking outside of themselves to others for approval?  By encouraging your child to trust their intuition, you will be doing this.  In turn, your child will also be helping you to trust your own inner wisdom.  Children have so much to teach us, if we are willing to listen and learn.

I would love to hear back about any experiences that you have had on this subject.  I look forward to your responses.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Time Travel Tuesday- Magical Michigan

In my imagination, I walk up and down the streets of the beautiful old Michigan town where I grew up. It is full of Victorian Mansions and history. It would work on the creative mind of any kid.
-John Bellairs, children's book novelist 

Blackstone The Great
-Genius. That is what my hard to impress grizzled 12- year old son called me when I came home from Michigan. I read his mind. Not in the “my mom knows everything, I can't get away with anything” kind of way. It was a magic trick. For this Time Travel Tuesday, I am practicing the art of illusion. The props and tutorials came from a guy who has worked at the famous Abbott Magic Company in Colon, Michigan for 44 years. Gordon Miller, my magic teacher, first learned magic from the Harry Blackstone Sr., the great 20th Century illusionist who put Abbott’s and Colon on the map. Three hours away from the Detroit airport, Colon is  known as the Magic Capital of the World. Every year, one thousand magicians from all over the globe appear in Colon for a magic convention  that has been going on since the 1930’s.

"We have only missed one in all these years. These get togethers, this store are very special to the people who live around here. Being known as the most magical city means a lot to us." Miller said while having us pick a card out of his deck.

Miller claims Penn and Teller and Zigfried and Roy have made the journey to the middle-of-nowhere capital. Mesmerized by Colon's bold title, my daughter and I made the trip this past weekend. Colon’s reputation is a testament to the magic in publicity. With a population of 1,200, it is a one blinking yellow light town. The library had an Amish horse and buggy parked outside. Other than Abbott’s, you can pay your respects at the magician’s cemetery where Blackstone and his entourage are buried. That’s about it. Still, it is something worth seeing. Every square inch of Abbott’s is covered with autographed pictures of performers. Grab a bleacher seat in the center of the store to face a small stage tucked behind counters stuffed with gadgets. If you look up, the sagging ceiling is papered with show bills. If it were a bar, there would be no frozen cocktails or fruit garnishes. The slightly intimidating bartender would serve hard liquor to real drinkers only.

Sadly, most of our less than $10 purchases are stamped with Made in China. The big stage show equipment is still manufactured in Colon, though.  Harry Blackstone Sr. called Colon home when he wasn’t touring. The Great Blackstone was an old school illusionist, who wore a white tux with tails on stage. He had an orchestra performing the sound effects and mood music. He traveled by train in his private car. Audiences watched him saw beautiful women in half and make people float or even disappear. One of the kids in one of those audiences was Robert Lunde. Lunde grew up to be a Detroit-based reporter who spent every spare nickel on going to see magical performances. If Blackstone’s fame put Colon on the map, it was Lunde’s love and appreciation for magic that gave Marshall, Michigan a place in history. Marshall, population 7,500, is almost halfway between Colon and Detroit. It is home to the American Museum of Magic.

As the story goes, Lunde was too shy to perform, so he collected. Harry Houdini’s milk can. Blackstone’s metamorphosis trunk. He has some famous tools of the trade as well as thousands of heralds, handbills and programs. You like historical pictures? There are more than 46,000. How about books? Spells, incantations, how-to manuals, you name it. His collection includes 10,000 books, 24,000 magazines and many personal letters. Lunde turned his lifelong passion into the largest magic museum in the United States. David Copperfield calls it his “favorite place on Earth.” For $5, we got a personal tour. Our docent, Candy Putnam, pointed out a first edition book written by Robert Houdin that was reviewed by Charles Dickens. I was intrigued by Houdin, who was a French clockmaker who dabbled in magic and had his name stolen from Houdini. Meanwhile,the teenager on our tour was fascinated by “Pepper’s Ghost”. 

This same trick used in the mid-1800’s was recently used to bring Tupac Shakur to life on stage at a rap concert. It is the same trick used through out the Haunted Mansion at Disney.” Jeff Taylor, the director of the American Museum of Magic told us.

House that inspired "House With The Clock In It's Walls"
 mystery novel by John Bellairs.
The magic didn’t end with the tour. Outside the 1868 Victorian building where the American Museum of Magic collection is located, there is possibly the World’s Most Adorable City. Okay, I just made that title up. But as author John Bellairs' said about his hometown, it has everything your imagination can think up.  There is a combination flower and wine shop, a vintage guitar store and an old fashioned toy store nestled between places filled with affordable antique finds.  I especially liked the Dentist office with fake teeth on the store front and the original Rexall Drugstore with a Halloween window display to rival something you would expect to see at Macy's in New York.  We had arguably the best prime rib dinner in the history of prime rib dinners at a place called Shuler’s. When we walked outside Schuler’s, there was a horse drawn carriage that happened to be loading people up for a ghost tour. For $45 a person, the tour winds through a neighborhood filled with elegant historic homes. Each house had widow's walks, wrap around front porches and tales of mystery peaking out from behind lace curtains. The horses slowly made their way to the town cemetery that dates back to the 1830's. It was pitch black.

"Take lots of pictures. You may pick up some paranormal activity." Summer Katz, a high school senior and part time ghost hunter with Marshall Carriage Company told us.

Katz was right. My iPhone photos show some unexplainable shadows. But there was still more to see. We returned the next day to find piles of leaves to jump in and a combination ice cream candy shop near a lake.  If I wasn't ready to call a realtor before this stop, I was after. In Marshall, they serve their ice cream cones with goofy faces. Sold! We took our bags of butter flavored popcorn Jelly Bellies and googly-eyed ice cream for a stroll along the lake. The crisp October air smelled like burning leaves.. My four-year old daughter thought the bright yellow and red trees along the banks were Truffala trees from The Lorax. Being a Florida girl, she has never experienced Fall. To her, the change of season was the most magical part of our trip.

If we had more time, I would have liked to take in a play at the Marshall community theater and visit the Honolulu House, the nineteenth century mansion of a state supreme court justice who designed it to replicate an  island estate. It would have been nice to visit one of the haunted hayrides, corn mazes or apple cider festivals going on through out Michigan in October. But that will have to wait for our next trip. Hopefully next time, I will have mastered the Learning to Levitate video I bought at Abott's and will be ready for another lesson that will inspire my son's sense of wonder.

Where do you find magic?

Monday, October 15, 2012

Big Idea Monday- Take the Creativity Test

I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, it's a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do and that enables you to laugh at life's realities.
-Dr. Seuss

Are you a leftie or a rightie? Not your hand. Your brain. Are you logical, good with numbers, a critical thinker or are you good at reading emotions, have an eye for color and are able to fantasize like Dr. Seuss? Scientists believe lefties are the number crunchers, righties are the artsy types. Yes, that is a huge over simplification. If you want details, look up the work of Nobel prize winning theorist Roger Sperry. I don’t need an MRI to prove Sperry’s right brian, left brain theory or the theory that opposites attract. I see it everyday in my marriage. My husband is a certified financial planner. He arrives everywhere five minutes early and is thinking about ten to twenty to thirty year consequences. I’m the opposite, the creative one. 

Unlike the famous Torrance Creativity Test, which is time consuming and is administered by a psychologist, I found a quick, easy and free online Creativity Test. This 52-question multiple choice quiz can break down how much your using your right versus left brain. Not surprisingly, I tested 60% right brain, 40% left brain. The test also breaks down specifics like how much you use verbal reasoning, intuition, logic, fantasy or linear thinking.  The test results suggest that if you are low scoring (below 30%) in any one category, or high scoring (above 50%) that you should consider trying new approaches to sharpen lesser used skills while not being too dependent on one method of reasoning.  

If your low scoring in creativity, it is suggested that  you can pump some mental iron to spark yourself into right brain shape.  Here is a great article from Mind Tools with some mental work out ideas. Two of the ideas repeat Dr. Seuss's quote, look at things from a different perspective or start from the end and work back to the beginning.

Of course, my creative warm up includes a weekly idea quota. So for this Big Idea Monday, I have one that is sure to save money and bring people together. Why not start a holiday decorating exchange in your neighborhood? One Halloween, my neighbor borrowed a box of our leftover decorations and turned her dining room into a mad scientist laboratory. We have tons of great stuff, but my kids enjoy new themes each year, which can get expensive. Think of it as a cross between a church rummage sale and one of those clothing exchanges. People could either donate items to their neighborhood association to raise money for a neighborhood improvement project or they could exchange their decorations for different ones at the same holiday kick off event.  If you held one in the Fall, you could hit the trifecta for Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Do you you have a great idea? Are you pursuing it? Sharing it?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Be Kind

If you enjoy living, it is not difficult to keep the sense of wonder.
-Ray Bradbury 

Finally a quick, easy read. The person who gave me Wonder said she read it in a day. Me too. The New York Times Best seller, by R.J. Palacio, is a story about a boy who is the luckiest and unluckiest kid in the world. Born with a rare facial deformity, the first page of the book describes Auggie Pullman by saying “whatever your thinking, it’s probably worse.” The story is about the year Auggie attended school for the first time in fifth grade.  Children literally scream in horror at the sight of him.  Yet, this child is loved beyond belief. He is cherished by his family and that gives him the courage to be a living inspiration to everyone he touches.

The woman who gave it to me is a source of inspiration and courage herself. But that’s another story.( kindness of a stranger )Now, I can understand why she drew strength from this book. Not only is it a delightful read that will leave you feeling lucky, it will make you want to be “kinder than necessary”. That line is borrowed from  the Little White Bird. The J.M. Barrie classic has been on my someday reading list. But after reading a reference to it in Wonder, it has moved up to my must-read list. Ditto for anything written by nineteenth century abolitionist Henry Ward Beecher. In Wonder, there was a reference to Beecher’s belief in the power of one person’s kindness, one person’s courage.That is what this book is about. 

There really isn’t any connection to intuition, this month’s focus on the blog. Unless you connect intuition to childlike wonder. Come to think of it, I have never met a kid that questioned why he was born or wondered what their purpose in life is. Like the character in the book, just being here is a wonder. 

What inspires your sense of wonder?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kindness of a Stranger

They say I must be one of the wonders of God's own creation. And as far as they can see they can offer no explanation.
-Natalie Merchant, "Wonder"

We received our first donation this morning for our Little Free Library. For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Little Free Library is an idea that came from a Winsconsin man who wanted to honor his mother, who was a teacher, when she died. The wooden box in our front yard encourages neighbors to take a book and leave a book.  Simple and engaging.  My friend predicted that our box would generate some interesting stories. She was right.
Our first book donor was not a neighbor or a friend, but a stranger that I see twice a week at the gym. I am only there twice a week. She is there everyday. She is the woman who always has her make up on and hair done. She is always friendly and smiling. And she is always there at 5:30 am.  Did I mention she is thin? Not just thin. Fit. Strong. I have admired her since I started going in May. As someone who has struggled with my weight my whole life, I look at women like her with a mix of envy and awe. 

I recognized her picture in the paper  this weekend. It was a story about her book club. She had invited R.J. Palacio, the author of the NY Times Bestseller Wonder, in from New York to meet the club here in Florida. The newspaper article said the book is an inspiration to this woman from the gym. Turns out this stranger, who has served as a quiet inspiration to me, has stage four colon cancer. 

“There is no stage five and There’s no cure.” Lori Crotts told me today during the first real conversation we've ever had. Diagnosed in March, the mother of three has tried everything, including experimental treatments. She is sticking around as long as she can. Her youngest is 15. 

Wonder, the source of courage for Crotts, is about a boy with a facial deformity who faces huge obstacles in life with grace and humor. She said she read it in one day, shortly before her diagnosis. I can’t wait to read it. But this post is not about the book as much about the person who gave it to me. I frequently complain about not having enough time. The gym is usually the first thing to go when I am feeling swamped. How can I use that as an excuse when there are people like Lori there?  How can I complain about anything? How can I feel like I don't have enough time  for everything? I have close relatives and friends dealing with cancer. But there is something about this stranger that struck me differently. Something about her demeanor that made me want to cherish today even more.  

Do you know that right after she left the gym, Lori Crotts found the time to bring a copy of Wonder to my house with a little note? It said she loves the book because it is about kindness. 

Have you ever learned something from a stranger?

5 Ways to Be Like Einstein

There are 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

Often when I finish a non-fiction book, I feel smarter. Not so, after reading Walter Isaacson’s biography of Albert Einstein. Not that it isn’t well written and well researched. There are detailed scientific explanations and correspondences between physicists translated from German. There is a reason I majored in journalism. I only had to take minimal science and math classes. This book is not for lounging by the pool. It is thought provoking and, at times, tough to digest. Still, there are valuable lessons that even us non-PHD types can learn from the man whose very name is synonymous with genius.

  1. Visualize Einstein had trouble speaking. He didn’t communicate with words until almost age 2. Throughout his life, it is reported that he would mumble a sentence to himself out loud to make sure it sounded right before speaking directly to another person.  Some speculate he had some form of autism. What he lacked in verbal skills, he compensated for in his ability to visualize. Einstein could literally see problems as pictures and than visualize the outcome. Whether it was imagining himself riding a light beam or picturing passengers inside falling elevators, visualization was a major key to unlocking the complex laws of nature.
  2. Follow Your Own Path As a Jewish Serbian growing up in anti-semetic Germany, he was an outsider. Einstein remained a loner in college. Some of his teachers and professors would call him arrogant or a non-conformist. That perception led to him having trouble getting a job in his field. He couldn’t even land steady work as a high school teacher. A family friend eventually helped him get a entry level position at a patent office. He worked on his experiments on his own, outside of the confines of academia. If he had been more accepted or mainstream, isn’t it likely he would have bent his views to support those of the institutions and mentors he was working under? Whether being an outsider was his choice or not, it allowed him to follow his own path and see the world from his own perspective.  How many people have the courage to follow their own path, even when they are ridiculed or called radical?
  3. Cultivate your Intuition Einstein valued his intuition above all other senses. He would lose himself listening to Mozart or playing his violin. He would set a problem aside and take a break with music. It was during these meditative musical experiences, that he would be struck with the solution and rush back to the drawing board. The physicist, who struggled with math, even solved problems in his sleep. It is said that he would fall asleep holding a rock thinking about a question. When he actually fell into a restful state, his hand would release the rock, wake him up and he would  write down what he was seeing in his dream. 
  4. Stay Busy & Balanced In 1905 alone, Einstein devised a quantum theory of light, proved the existence of atoms, changed the concept of space and time, clarified scientific explanations of motion and came up with the simplistic and most famous equation E=MC2. Where did this burst of productivity come from? At the time, Einstein worked six days a week in the patent office, was constantly writing papers to submit for publication and played weekly in a string quartet. He also had a wife and baby at home. Maybe Einstein is the reason for the saying, “busy people always have time.
  5. Find Inspiration in Nature Einstein once said “Look deep into nature and than you will understand everything better.” Einstein was a curious child who developed a life long reverence for the simplicity and order in nature. According to Isaacson’s research, Einstein believed that an underlying reality existed in nature even if it could not be seen or measured. He lived life believing everything was a miracle.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

R.I.P. Steve Jobs

I began to realize that an intuitive understanding and consciousness was more significant than abstract thinking and intellectual logical analysis. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect, in my opinion. That's had a big impact on my work.
-Steve Jobs

If you have your homepage set on Apple, than you no doubt know that this weekend marks the one year anniversary of Steve Job's passing. This Memorial pops up on Apple. The visionary who changed our world with his inventions, touched billions of lives with his creative ideas.  Simplistic. Imaginative. Aware. Jobs possessed childlike purity of so many of these qualities. Above all else, he is remembered as intuitive. I am glad that a genius like him existed in my lifetime.

How is your life different because of Steve Jobs?

The Queen of Magic

The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
-W.B. Yeats

Confirming my theory that everyone eventually retires in Florida, I had my palm read last night by the Queen of Magic, Celeste Evans. Pushing 81, she is still a glamour girl. The red head with a striking figure walked into my neighbor’s house and I knew she was someone with a story.

Celeste told me she was fascinated by magic as a child. At the age of 9, she asked a performer how to do a slight of hand trick. She was told “girls can’t be magicians.” That was all it took to spark a lifelong passion. She was billed as Canada’s first female magician when she started touring with carnivals in the 1940’s. By the fifties, she was entertaining troops during the Korean War. Her USO and United Nations assignments would send her around the world twice including Vietnam, Egypt and the Republic of Congo, where she narrowly escaped execution at gunpoint during a kidnapping by revolutionaries. Her website, Celeste Evans Magic, has a variety of video clips from her many television appearances including The Ed Sullivan Show and Barbara Walters.  In her heyday, she headlined at the “Palace” in New York City and performed for heads of state and royalty. She married a talent agent and settled down in Chicago. Even while raising two children, she was a regular in Vegas and the Playboy Club circuit. Ask her about Mayor Richard Daly. He was an admirer. 

Now that she is just another Florida grandmother, she still travels to different gigs to accept various recognitions. Evans is in the Magic Hall of Fame and has recently received the equivalent of an Oscar from the Academy of Magic Arts. SInce I am studying childlike intuition this month, I wanted to know if her magic was simply showmanship or something else.  Her tricks are just that, she acknowledged in an indirect way while talking about pageantry and props. But the woman, who reminds me of a Vargas pin-up model, told me that she distinguishes between a “sixth sense” and “intuition” and that she believes both exist. Evans remembers once warning her daughter to be extra careful on a day that she later was involved in a car accident. She thought that was her sixth sense at work. As for intuition, Evans thinks that is more about reading people and situations.  I asked her if she ever read people’s future and picked up anything specific or telling.

Of course. I scared the shit out of people.” Evans said with a grin.

I wanted to see for myself. Would she read my palm, just for fun? Please? At first, she said no. I haven’t done it in years. I already know too much about you. But she grabbed my right hand and turned on a brighter light so she didn’t have to strain her eyes. While she didn’t tell me anything surprising about my future, everything she said about my past and present was on the money. She named my favorite color ( which I wasn’t wearing) and how many children are in my lifeline. Although she knew I had two kids at the party, she couldn’t have known about a miscarriage.  She was adamant about the number. She threw me when she asked me if I owned a plot of land. I don’t. Than she asked me if I was considering moving. In fact, it was the topic of conversation that same day in our house. We had looked at three vacant lots a few hours earlier. Yep. Plot of land. The reading was over. Being the consummate performer, she chose to end with a strong finish. 

The only way she could explain what she had just done was to say, “you see things than you get a strong feeling about them.”

I don’t feel any closer to understanding the mechanics of intuition. Maybe that is why the definition is: the ability to understand something immediately without the need for conscious reasoning.

Do you use your intuition?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Mother's Intuition

I find it ironic that as I blogged about intuition today, I completely lost touch with mine.. While typing away in a chair next to the bathroom, my daughter  took a a bubble bath in our jacuzzi. My spidey senses usually only go off when it is too quiet. I listened to her giggling and having an animated conversation with her bath toys as as I happily wrote away. It wasn't until a river of bubbles came flowing down the hall and over my feet that I came to my senses.

God, The Universe  or whatever you want to call it has a great sense of humor. At the time, I was writing about Einstein holding a rock so when he fell asleep he would wake up and remember his dreams. Salvador Dali, used the same technique with a key in hand and a spittoon stationed below to tap into his unconscious inspiration. For me, it is apparently letting a four- year old out of my sight with a new bottle of bubble bath that brings me to alert consciousness.

The Dreamist

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed.
-Albert Einstein

A reader pointed out in yesterday’s blogpost about dreams that Albert Einstein used to hold a rock in his hand when he fell asleep. The rock would fall loudly to the ground and wake him so he could immediately write down his problem solving unconscious thoughts while he still remembered. Salvador Dali had a similar method called “slumber with a key”. The surreal artist sat upright in a chair holding a key as he dozed. When the key hit a spatoon below, it clanged loudly. The Spaniard, with the trademark mustache, described this as one of his 50 secrets of magic craftsmanship.

I know a local magician who has devised his own technique for capturing images in his lucid dreams.  I say magician, but 67-year old Frank Lewis is also an artist, scientist, inventor and writer. Those are recent titles since he started referring to himself as "The Dreamist" Raised in the Bronx, Lewis worked as a scientist in chemistry labs in the sixties. In the seventies,  he ran his family’s gourmet cheese shop and fondue restaurant in the Village. He spent another two decades raising kids, working as an indoor air quality environmental engineer and a serial entrepreneur in the field of nutrition, health and wellness.

Lewis remembers as a child having continuous dreams. In other words, picking up the next night where he left off the night before in his unfolding story. In college, he reconnected with that childlike ability to stay aware and direct his dreams when he participated in an NYU study on sensory deprivation. As a test subject, he would be immersed in salt water tank with no light or sound. While that sounds terrifying to me, he believes the life experience helped shape what he is doing today.

“It gave me the understanding that there is more to the world than what you see. There is a whole world going on inside your head.” Lewis added.

While he always doodled for fun, he didn’t get  serious about art until 2004 when he stopped working to earn a living and started working as a passion.

“I don’t see a difference between being an artist and a scientist. They are both the search for truth and beauty.” The Renaissance man explains. 

So how does Lewis search for truth and beauty? He rests in a zero gravity recliner, wears headsets and an eye mask and attaches a stylus to his finger which is resting on a drawing pad attached to his left wrist. Unlike Einstein or Dali, he doesn’t wake himself up. He actually draws while sleeping. His finger contraption moving similarly to a Ouiji board. Check out his Gallery, if I didn’t know him so well, I would be skeptical that these could be done in your sleep.

Also unlike Einstein or Dali, Lewis is far from famous. But he should be. He has created something completely original. I asked him about his goals for his art career. He said his vision is to keep seeking truth. His manifesto published in his books and on his website talks about creating an entirely new art form called "Dreamism". He talks about:  parasomnia limb movement, approximating non- physical reality and accessing higher frequencies of consciousness. I guess none of this should come as a huge surprise. They say you can tell a lot about a person by what is on their book shelf. Frank Lewis has the complete collection of Carl Jung's writing and art in the Red Book series. There is also as an autographed autobiography of Timothy Leary's Flashback. Leary, a psychologist famous for his LSD induced writings, wrote the following inscription:

"Anything you want can happen."

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