Three Types of Happy Lives

Posted on Friday, June 1st, 2012

Martin Seligman, leader of the positive psychology movement, recently gave a TED talk on three different types of happy lives:
1. The pleasant life is about gathering as many pleasures as possible
2. The engaged life is about doing that about which you are so passionate that time stops while you are doing it
3. The meaningful life is about using your core strengths to engage with something greater than yourself, often in service.
The first style provides pleasure as long as one is engaged in the pleasurable activities, but these often habituate and so, just like with drugs, require more and more of them while providing no long-lasting effects. The other two styles offer a depth beyond the momentary experience.
Look at the TED talk, check out Martin’s website, and contact me if you’d like some personal coaching on creating the style of happy life which best serves you at this time of your life.


Labyrinth Quilts in the News!

Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2012

The Quilt Life article on me and my quilts is now out and on the stands! To the left you see part of the first page – an absolutely stunning overlay of my Yellow Brick Road quilt upon a hedgerow labyrinth. The author, Meg Cox, did a fantastic job of highlighting my quilts and their value to me (in the making of them) and those who end up with them in their homes. If you want the complete article, but can’t find the magazine, please email me and I’ll see what I can do about getting you a pdf file. And, if you are a quilter/fiber artist, or have an interest in creating your own family celebrations, please check out Meg Cox’s website; she’s got a foot in each of those worlds.

The Joys of Cat Companionship

Posted on Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Many years ago I had two black male littermates, Castor and Pollux. Though no one else could tell them apart, I found them as different as night and day: Castor was bigger, more solid, had shorter hair, and was just like Eeyore; Pollux was smaller, rounder, had coarser hair, and was just like Tigger. But they were alike in one respect – when I fed them in the morning, one always finished before the other and asked to go outside. But when the other one finished and asked to go out, he would find his brother waiting for him on the stoop, not willing to go off on his adventures for the day until his brother had joined him. And when Castor died at the age of 16, Pollux did his best to follow him, and would have, if I hadn’t begged him to stay, which he did for another 3 years.
Since then I’ve had several cats join me – briefly – on my journey: Willow, Chiron, Luna, and Clive, none of whom looked or acted like Castor or Pollux. Clive went missing around Thanksgiving last year, leaving a hole in my heart, house, and life. On New Year’s Eve day, I found Trip, who is the spitting image of Castor and Pollux (as kittens), but otherwise resembles them in only 1 way – when I let him outside, he often waits there, hoping I will join him. Once I do, he will head off on his adventures for the day, coming back often during the day to check in with me.

First You Need Ashes – A Personal Story of (Joy-filled) Resurrection

Posted on Sunday, April 8th, 2012

On the day after Christmas, I went to work and, after working 2 hours of a 6 hour shift, I was called into the new manager’s office and told I was being suspended, for stealing. It would be another 2 days before I got the confirmation that I was ‘termed’  (or, as I thought of it, ‘released’), but something told me that, no matter what, I wouldn’t be back. So after a moment of stunned panic/shock/anger, I went into action: I put everything from my locker into a bag, nearly danced out to my car, rolled down the windows, and sang my way home. (One of the tunes was ‘Riders on the Storm.’) I was thrilled to be absolutely free, for a few days at least, to do anything I wanted to do, and I immediately went into my studio where I quickly created a new line of fiber art. (See my Fiber DreamScapes at: *****) I did have this niggling little thought: How long will this last before ‘reality’ sets in? The universe began to answer this ‘prayer’ in a very interesting way.

Right around Thanksgiving, my solid, grounded 5 year-old cat companion, Clive, went missing, leaving a huge hole in my heart, my house, my life. On New Year’s Eve day, just 5 days after my suspension, two friends independently contacted me to say I should get to the Humane Society, because they were having a ‘sale.’ With just 2 hours to spare, I got to the H.S. and started looking for a cat like Clive. It took 3 times through before I spotted one of the last remaining kittens, a 3.5 month old black (my favorite) cat named Trip. And he has been a trip, as we now share this journey together. The first night we were together he initiated a game of fetch which lasted for an hour; his latest game is hide and pounce. Whenever I begin to feel scared or down, his enthusiasm for life, ebullience, energy, excitement, ecstasy remind me that I have a choice, and I keep choosing joy.

And as I do, the universe continues to respond: a quilt was accepted in Grovewood Gallery (which has quit taking quilts); I have several shows (some juried) scheduled; I have three speaking engagements scheduled; I am in an artist studio tour; and my signature ‘pieced/quilted labyrinths’ are to be featured in a national quilt magazine in June. Where will it all end? Nowhere, I hope, because I am living in heaven.

But I want to go back and tie up a loose end: the fact that I was suspended, and then ‘termed,’ for stealing. I have been vindicated in this matter but, since I do think about life metaphorically, I wondered and chewed on this for a while. “Have I been stealing?”€ I wondered. And the answer finally came to me that, yes, I had been stealing. . .from myself. By staying in a toxic environment, out of fear, I was stealing life energy and creativity from myself. Though it took a nudge, I stepped out into the void and energy literally flooded back into me; I am happier, healthier, and lighter now than I have been in years.

I’d like to close with this, the last stanza, from Robert Bly’s poem, Stealing Sugar from the Castle:

“You’re a thief!” the judge said. – let’s see
Your hands! –  I showed my callused hands in court.
My sentence was a thousand years of joy.

Review of DreamQuake by Elizabeth Knox

Posted on Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Book 2 of The DreamHunter Duet

I’m going to have to read this book again to garner all the subtleties with which Knox fills her follow-up to The DreamHunters. I can’t even begin to enumerate all of its themes, which include: questions about fate, how dreams are formed, questions about their reality and/or truth, the possibility of alternate realities, the concept of living a life forward towards an already existing version of oneself, and whether or not dreams can/should be used politically.

One type of DreamHunter is the Soporif, and one ‘master’ dream (which can overshadow all others) is ‘Contentment.’  A major political figure in DreamQuake decides he is going to use these two elements to render large portions of the populace, especially DreamHunters, content to the point of being completely ineffectual. He seems to be doing this both for his own nefarious purposes, and because he believes that he is doing right by his constituents. This could be a reflection of our own world’s use of television and advertising.

The culmination of DreamQuake was somewhat unexpected, though hinted at throughout the book. I’ll leave it to you to decide what, exactly happened, and how, since I’m still trying to figure it out myself.

Dream Teas*

Posted on Friday, February 17th, 2012

There are certain herbs/spices which promote restful sleep, dreaming, and the remembering of dreams. Bigelow actually makes a tea (Sweet Dreams) which contains many of these. You can make your own, specialized tea from the following ingredients:

Dream Tea –  (drink – just before retiring; will not keep you awake)

1/4 ounce buchu (for prophetic dreams)

1/4 ounce chamomile (to purify and protect)

1/4 ounce jasmine flowers (softens and relaxes, enabling receptivity to the spiritual world)

1/2 ounce mugwort (to integrate psychic and dream experiences with daily life, multidimensional consciousness, balances transitions between day and night consciousness)

1/4 ounce poppy flower (aids sleep)

1/4 ounce poppy seed (aids sleep)

1/4 ounce rosemary (to calm and relax our minds and muscles, while improving our memory of the night’s dreamwork)

1/4 ounce rose petals (for prophetic dreams)

1/4 ounce yerba santa (increases psychic powers)

*Do not use every night, as regular usage reduces the herbs’ effectiveness; use only when you particularly desire to dream, or are requesting special help or information to come to you through your dreams.

The Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox, a review

Posted on Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

This is an amazingly fresh take on dreams and their possibilities, both positive and ‘negative.’ The idea is that there is a place, overlaying part of our planet, which only certain people called dreamhunters may enter; other folk just keep seeing the same view of earth, while the dreamhunters enter a completely different land. This Place is not mapped in the same way as we usually map things, by geological entities but, rather, by the type of dream which the dreamhunters can ‘catch’ there and then bring back to share with others in places called dream palaces. While some of these dreams are nightmares, most are at least benign, while many are comforting, exhilarating, and/or healing. There is a second book in this ‘duet’ called ‘Dreamquake’; I’ll review that book when I have finished reading it.

What Dream Jobs and Impalas Have in Common

Posted on Thursday, January 19th, 2012

My recent experiences (with being released from work, and dreams which pointed me to my new kitten companion) remind me of a client I knew who had an amazing dream that changed her life: I was riding around town in my father’s car. Doesn’t seem like much, but I asked her what kind of car it was: ‘A Chevy Impala’ Knowing that an impala was an animal, I encouraged her to look it up in an encyclopedia: “An animal able to leap great distances to avoid danger, but only if it can see where it is going to land.” This was, basically, her father’s motto: “Never quit one job until you have a new one lined up.”  She had been driving around in this car, this motto, even though her current job was sapping her energy, her strength, her joy for life. As soon as she read about impalas in the encyclopedia, she went and resigned, and within a couple of weeks she had her dream job. May we all be so blessed!

I Certainly Feel More Like I Do Now Than I Did Before

Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Most rainbows look like they are coming to earth far away. A few years ago I saw one in Spring Green, WI, that seemed to be landing just behind the hill right in front of me. Last week (1/11/12) I saw a double rainbow in downtown Asheville; the inner, brightest one looked like it was coming down to earth just yards from me, as though I could step right into it. I feel like, since being ‘released’ from my job, I have stepped into the labyrinth of joy which is leading me directly into that rainbow. I am aware of increased energy, and others are commenting on it:  You’re more animated — You seem happier.  There’s something different about you definitely in a good way. I don’t know what’s next; only what is NOW, and NOW is pretty wonderful.

What is being fetched?

Posted on Monday, January 16th, 2012

Just because it is so cute, and he wins my heart every time he does it, I’m posting a video of Trip playing ‘fetch.’ (As soon as I can make it work, that is.) Although you don’t see my throwing the toy (a wand handle with a long strip of flannel attached), you do see Trip bringing it back to me, which he will do for an hour at a time, if I keep up my end of the game. Which makes me think about repetition — the way many of us love to watch the same movie over and over again, or play a passage on the piano incessantly, or walk a labyrinth every day, if we have the chance. Although they may look or sound the same, each walk is different, just as each round of fetch is a little different, as Trip brings the toy more (or less) close to me before dropping it, or leaps up in the air to catch it rather than having it sail on past him. I miss my daily labyrinth walks; two days ago I would have encountered snow on the path which, yesterday, would have been muddy, and tomorrow might call for a t-shirt rather than winter jacket. Still, as I wind my way through my internal labyrinth, I note the daily changes in my innerlandscape, or is it just where I point my gaze? In any case, it is up to me what I choose to fetch back from each of those journeys; today, it is lightness of heart as I play fetch with Trip.