Thursday, October 30, 2008

Cleaning pictures off my cell phone

me at the doctor's office

At the doctor, brought to you by Viagra (the logo on the paper cover thingie)

Still at the doctor

Goose by the River

Giant Riverboat

Cracker Barrell Pecan Pancake

Fall pansies outside my office building (today!)

More outside my office building

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Dhamma Brothers: East Meets West in the Deep South

I heard Jenny Phillips, the author of The Dhamma Brothers (book and documentary) on Oprah's Soul Series podcast. So interesting!! Especially in light of my new profession.

Phillips is a cultural anthropologist and psychotherapist who helped start and then documented a program at Donaldson Correction Facility (a maximum-security prison in Alabama) where a group of prisoners participated in an intense 10-day Vipassana meditation course.

"Along with her crew, Ms. Phillips documented the process: cushions and sleeping mats were laid down in a Donaldson gym, where the participating prisoners meditated in complete isolation. Convicts serving life sentences for gruesome crimes focused on their breath, much like the Buddha taught more than 2,500 years ago."
from NY Times Article Staring at Death, and Finding Their Bliss

The initial group had a 20% reduction in disciplinary histories and were better able to control their anger and conduct themselves. After the course ended, the group continued to meditate but months later the program was halted after the prison chaplain complained about it. Phillips was no longer allowed to film but continued to correspond with the inmates and their letters to her are in the book (Letters from the Dhamma Brothers). Three years later the administration changed and the program was allowed to proceed again.

I really, really want to read the book and see the movie now. My library has neither. A local spiritualist church sometimes shows films like this and I think this one would fit right in with the kinds of things they do so I suggested it. I hope they get it so I can go see it! Or I could buy the DVD for $20 LOL. I want to read the book first though. Along with Phillips, Oprah had two of the inmates on the program. It was just so interesting, but too short - just enough to make me want to know more!

From the Official Site (includes dates/locations of screenings): The Dhamma Brothers: East Meets West in the Deep South
"In interviews immediately before the Vipassana retreat, the men openly express fear and trepidation, wondering what they will find when they look deeply within and face the consequences of past actions and trauma.

They are shown packing their scant belongings and preparing for the journey inside, a very short walk down the prison corridor but a sea change in their lives as prisoners. We observe the transformation of the prison gym, a frequent site for violent battles among inmates, into a monastery, a separate, restricted place in which the inmate students can eat, sleep, and meditate in total seclusion from the rest of prison society. The Vipassana teachers, Bruce and Jonathan, prepare to live and meditate with the inmates. Teachers and inmates, men from culturally different worlds, are locked together in a dramatically revealing process. This is, most likely, the first time non-inmates have ever lived among inmates inside a prison. We follow the men day to day on the retreat. Seated on meditation mats on a red rug donated by the Warden, wrapped in navy blue blankets, the men sit still in silence as they journey inside. Their days are punctuated by a strict daily routine of eating, sleeping and

In individual interviews after the Vipassana retreat, the men tell their tales of pain and self-discovery. During group interviews, the spiritual warriors of Donaldson Correctional Facility discuss their collective experiences and vow to try to maintain their nascent sense of solidarity. In the nameless, faceless anonymity of prison life, where daily life is organized around social control and punishment, Vipassana has offered an alternative social identity based on brotherhood and spiritual development."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Seven Steps for Overcoming Ego’s Hold on You

An excerpt from a Wayne Dyer article - see link at the end for the entire article

"1. Stop being offended.

The behavior of others isn’t a reason to be immobilized. That which offends you only weakens you. If you’re looking for occasions to be offended, you’ll find them at every turn. This is your ego at work convincing you that the world shouldn't be the way it is. But you can become an appreciator of life and match up with the universal Spirit of Creation. ... Being offended creates the same destructive energy that offended you in the first place and leads to attack, counterattack, and war.

2. Let go of your need to win.

Ego loves to divide us up into winners and losers. The pursuit of winning is a surefire means to avoid conscious contact with intention. Why? Because ultimately, winning is impossible all of the time. Someone out there will be faster, luckier, younger, stronger, and smarter-and back you’ll go to feeling worthless and insignificant. ... Let go of needing to win by not agreeing that the opposite of winning is losing.
3. Let go of your need to be right.

Ego is the source of a lot of conflict and dissension because it pushes you in the direction of making other people wrong. When you’re hostile, you’ve disconnected from the power of intention. The creative Spirit is kind, loving, and receptive; and free of anger, resentment, or bitterness. Letting go of your need to be right in your discussions and relationships is like saying to ego, I’m not a slave to you. I want to embrace kindness, and I reject your need to be right.
I urge you to let go of this ego-driven need to be right by stopping yourself in the middle of an argument and asking yourself, Do I want to be right or be happy? When you choose the happy, loving, spiritual mood, your connection to intention is strengthened. ...

4. Let go of your need to be superior.

True nobility isn’t about being better than someone else. It’s about being better than you used to be. Stay focused on your growth, with a constant awareness that no one on this planet is any better than anyone else. We all emanate from the same creative life force. We all have a mission to realize our intended essence; all that we need to fulfill our destiny is available to us.
5. Let go of your need to have more.

The mantra of ego is more. It’s never satisfied. No matter how much you achieve or acquire, your ego will insist that it isn’t enough. You’ll find yourself in a perpetual state of striving, and eliminate the possibility of ever arriving. Yet in reality you’ve already arrived, and how you choose to use this present moment of your life is your choice.
6. Let go of identifying yourself on the basis of your achievements.

This may be a difficult concept if you think you are your achievements. God writes all the music, God sings all the songs, God builds all the buildings, God is the source of all your achievements. ... It’s when you attach yourself to those achievements and believe that you alone are doing all of those things that you leave the peace and the gratitude of your Source.

7. Let go of your reputation.

Your reputation is not located in you. It resides in the minds of others. Therefore, you have no control over it at all. If you speak to 30 people, you will have 30 reputations. Connecting to intention means listening to your heart and conducting yourself based on what your inner voice tells you is your purpose here. If you’re overly concerned with how you’re going to be perceived by everyone, then you’ve disconnected yourself from intention and allowed the opinions of others to guide you. This is your ego at work. ... Stay on purpose, detach from outcome, and take responsibility for what does reside in you: your character. Leave your reputation for others to debate; it has nothing to do with you. Or as a book title says: What You Think of Me Is None of My Business!"

Complete article here:

Saturday, October 18, 2008

St. Theresa's prayer

Saw this posted elsewhere.

"May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us

Attributed to Saint Therese of Lisieux, I think:

Or is it St. Teresa of Avila??

I don't know. It doesn't matter, I suppose. What's important are the words and sentiment.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Reiki Principles Merchandise

I wanted to design something I could print and frame, so I decided to turn the image into cafe press stuff while I was at it. This is a tile coaster but there are also other tile products, a mousepad and shirts.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autum Leaves Around the House

Today was a gorgeous fall day with lots of colorful leaves. So I took a trip around the yard.

One of my favorite tree in my yard in the fall is the sourwood tree in the middle of the back of the yard. It's a gorgeous red right now.

The sumac leaves are gorgeously red too

Golden leaves - what kind of tree?

Maple leaves

My woods

Spare follows me around and rests while I take pictures

I stumbled upon a wild jungle animal!


Trees across the road (neighbor's woods)

Husband painting the garage door

The last of the season's roses

Tiny daisies

The house

The road. Where Asplundh cut down my trees :( The trees used to go almost all the way to the road

Kanawha River Fish

There was an exhibit in town last week that I wish I'd known about. Fortunately a friend got pictures of it.

"Life Below the Waterline" was an exhibit designed to showcase fish diversity in the region's rivers and streams. It was sponsored by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission, a water pollution control agency focusing on the Ohio River and its tributaries.

Using the "electro-fishing" technique (putting electric current in the water to temporarily stun fish), biologists captured fish from the Kanawha River and displayed them in a 2,000 gallon aquarium. After the display, the fish were returned to the river unharmed.

I just had no idea how many different types of fish there were in our river!

Here are pics:

Marking Timber

A small excerpt from this interesting article:

"You spend all day weaving your way back and forth through the hardwood forest, examining each tree in turn and deciding whether it should live or die. You repeat this each day, considering perhaps 30,000 or 40,000 trees and selecting perhaps 300 of them to mark with a blue paint spot. Each decision involves factors such as age, size, health, soil, slope, aspect, economic value, competition, potential growth, wildlife values, and more. You calculate all these in your forestry-educated brain. You raise your paint gun to deliver the death sentence, and then something unnamable crawls up from your belly and asks: Is this the right thing to do? How well does this action fit into the natural flow of the forest? What harm is this causing? What does this have to do with me? What is the best way to balance your love for the forest, your desire to keep it healthy and functioning well for wildlife and other benefits, and your need and the landowner’s desire to earn money?"

Northern Woodlands - Marking Timber

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Does High Fructose Corn Syrup Make You Fat?

"High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is made of roughly 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose. Since its introduction in the late 1970s, it has become the preferred sweetener for many food manufacturers, mostly because it is cheap ... .

Now, new research from University of Texas Southwestern Medical Centers shows what many have long suspected: our bodies make fat from fructose more readily than from other kinds of sugar. In the research, published in the Journal of Nutrition ... researchers found that lipogenesis, the process by which sugars are turned into body fat, increased significantly when as little as half the glucose was replaced with fructose. Fructose given at breakfast also changed the way the body handled the food eaten at lunch. After fructose consumption, the liver increased the storage of lunch fats that might have been used for other purposes.

Of course, HFCS isn't the sole cause of the obesity epidemic, but it is certainly a major offender. Regardless of what the new industry commercials say about its being natural, one of the best dietary decisions you can make is to eliminate it from your diet. Not only does HFCS boost fat storage, but it also serves as a "marker": any food that contains it is likely overprocessed and full of cheap, unhealthy, unnatural ingredients. Stick with natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup and use them in moderation - or better yet, retrain your taste buds to appreciate the subtle sweetness of fresh fruit. While fruit contains a small amount of natural fructose, the bulk, fiber and relatively low sugar density of the fruit's flesh minimizes the lipogenesis potential"

The Lakota relationship with animals

"From Wakan Tanka, the Great Spirit, there came a great unifying life force that flowed in and through all things -- the flowers of the plains, blowing winds, rocks, trees, birds, animals -- and was the same force that had been breathed into the first man. Thus all things were kindred, and were brought together by the same Great Mystery.

Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water was a real and active principle. In the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them. And so close did some of the Lakotas come to their feathered and furred friends that in true brotherhood they spoke a common tongue.

The animals had rights -- the right of man's protection, the right to live, the right to multiply, the right to freedom, and the right to man's indebtedness -- and in recognition of these rights the Lakota never enslaved an animal and spared all life that was not needed for food and clothing. For the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them.

This concept of life and its relations was humanizing and gave to the Lakota an abiding love. It filled his being with the joy and mystery of living; it gave him reverence for all life; it made a place for all things in the scheme of existence with equal importance to all.

The Lakota could despise no creature, for all were of one blood, made by the same hand, and filled with the essence of the Great Mystery. In spirit, the Lakota were humble and meek. 'Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth' -- this was true for the Lakota, and from the earth they inherited secrets long since forgotten. Their religion was sane, natural, and human."

The old Lakota was wise. He knew that a man's heart away from Nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon lead to a lack of respect for humans too.

The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power."

Luther Standing Bear
Chief of the Oglala, Lakota (1905-1939)

Celebrity Apprentice

This year on Celebrity Apprentice (when does it start??).  Joan Rivers, Melissa Rivers, Tom Green, Jesse James, Dennis Rodman, Khloe Kardashian, Claudia Jordan (who?), Brian McKnight, Andrew Dice Clay, Tionee 'T-Boz' Watkins, Herschel Walker, Scott Hamilton, Annie Duke (who?), Clint Black, Natalie Gulbis (who??) and Brande Roderick.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Soccer Pictures

Nephew Nick plays for St. Albans High School

Niece Maddie (far left) plays for Hayes Middle School

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Cats are disappearing

First Hoppy/Buddha the three-legged cat.  His real mother took him in, he bit her child and she put him out. He hasn't been seen since.

Now Stubbette and her new kittens haven't been seen in a few days.

I guess this is a good thing, but I don't have a good feeling about it.  But if we can get Spare and Eb neutered, we might have a chance of keeping the cat population under control around here.  Although there aren't any unaltered females around except Stubbette, that I know of.

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EDIT: never mind, Stubbette is back. I'm sure the kittens are around somewhere.

"God answers prayer in His own way, not ours." - Mohandas Gandhi

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Saturday, October 04, 2008


I love the Kashi Go Lean protein bars, so I thought I would try some other Kashi products.  I eat Cheerios for breakfast every morning but no protein and am hungry too soon after. So I decided to try the Kashi Go Lean crunchy cereal, which has 3 times the protein of Cheerios.  I had some this morning.

In terms of taste, I like the Cheerios better. The Kashi is a little too sweet. But the Kashi is definitely more satisfying. It has more calories, more fat and more carbs than Cheerios, but also has more fiber and more protein and the carbs are the better kind of carbs.  It has 7 whole grains. It has less vitamins added, but I don't count on my breakfast cereal for vitamins, I take a multivitamin and other supplements with it.  The Kashi is more expensive than the Cheerios, but it was on sale at Kroger's this week.

So the bottom line is, I like the Cheerios better, but the Kashi cereal is better for me.  I'll finish this box and make a decision then.  It may grow on me and I may like it better by the time I'm done with it.

I would like to try more of the Kashi products but Kroger's doesn't have that many. I'll have to look more at the Healthy Life Market, where I buy their TLC (tasty little crackers). 

The cheese TLC are GREAT. The ranch crackers are too sweet though. I'm going to try some of the others. I really want to try their frozen pizza. I hope the Healthy Life Market carries it.

Kashi has a really good website which includes healthy recipes:

Oh! and you can get a free Kashi cookie - I've been wanting to try the oatmeal/dark chocolate ones:

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Ten Spiritual Tonics

"1. Stop worrying. Worry kills life.

2. Begin each day with a prayer. It will arm your soul.

3. Control appetite. Over-indulgence clogs body and mind.

4. Accept your limitations. All of us can't be great.

5. Don't envy. It wastes time and energy.

6. Have faith in people. Cynicism sours the disposition.

7. Find a hobby. It will relax your nerves.

8. Read a book a week to stimulate imagination and broaden your views.

9. Spend some time alone for the peace of solitude and silence.

10. Try to want what you have, instead of spending your strength trying to get what you want."

- Abraham L. Feinberg

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008


I've known what affirmations are and how to use them for many years, but it wasn't until I read You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay, that I actually started to use them.

Affirmations are a way of reprogramming your brain. Many of us have negative self-talk going on in our heads. You may berate yourself in your head if you've done something wrong, telling yourself that you are stupid or you can never do anything right. Maybe a parent or other authority figure told you that when you were younger. Or you may tell yourself that you have no willpower and can never lose weight. We don't have to listen to those voices. Instead, we can replace them with positive messages or affirmations.

Even if you don't have a lot of negative self talk going on, affirmations can help you change a pattern or habit in your life.

Eckhart Tolle talks about each of us having a "story" we tell ourselves. Well really it's the ego's story. For example, your story may be that you are the person who takes care of everyone. Or your story is that you are the fat woman with no willpower. Or the victim everyone takes advantage of. Affirmations can help us change our stories.

There are different ways to use affirmations, including repeating them to yourself silently; writing them out repeatedly; saying them out loud while looking in a mirror; and posting them where you can see them. I think saying them out loud and writing them down are two of the most powerful.

Most of the time I repeat them to myself silently. I do it at times where I can get in a rhythm or I'm doing something mindless. I do them when I'm copying, for example. Or walking down the hall. I have just recently started writing them down daily. I think Louise Hay recommends writing them 20 or 30 times. I just fill up a steno pad page with the affirmation, writing it over and over.

You can make up your own affirmation. It just has to be a positive statement and should be in the present tense. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, "I am the perfect weight." Or if you are trying to be a nicer person, "I am kind and considerate to everyone I meet."

Here are some affirmations I like to use for myself. Some are from Louise Hay, others I may have heard or read other places, and some I have made up myself:
  • All is well in my world
  • I am open to all the abundance in the universe.
  • I am healthy and whole in every way and losing weight every day.
  • I trust in divine order and release all anxiety and fear.
  • I am willing to release the need to be in control.
  • I am willing to release the need for excess weight.
  • Every day in every way I'm getting better and better.
I just pick one I need to hear right now and use it, or make one up that fits.

Here are a few of the many affirmation resources on the web:

What are some of your favorite affirmations?

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