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5 Reasons This Painting is Going to Make My Friend Rich

I love when someone falls in love with something they want in their home…and it just happens to be amazing feng shui as well.

A dear friend of mine has her kitchen in the Money section of her home (the back left of the housewhen facing in from the front door — See Bagua post).  Right now, above her sink, she has a cool graphic print of an airplane, that is, well, questionable feng shui because it is pointing down.  Cool prints don’t always make for cool feng shui.  The almost-crashing plane in the Money section is one such example.

Well, the Universe provides, right?

Because a friend of hers was “cleaning house” and didn’t have any place for this beauty here, and she offered to sell it to my friend for an extremely decent price.

It portrays the floating market in Bangkok, bought from a street artist in Phuket, Thailand
(Please excuse the poor quality photograph– will try to get a better pic soon, as this one deserves it!)

My friend emailed me:  “I want this so badly, but is it good feng shui?!”  She LOVES it, but she wanted to make sure it was okay for the Money section of her home.

I called her immediately:  “You’re going to get rich if you hang this one up!  Get it!”

She laughed loudly, as did I, and we talked about going on a fun spa trip with all the new money she’s going to be bringing in.  (I’m writing this here to hold her to it — haha!)

Okay, so why?  Why does this work?

Few reasons:
1.  Symbolism.   See how the “market trinkets” fill the baskets like tempting jewels practically overflowing in abundance?  And how the hats sparkle like coins?  Even the ripples on the water resemble money.  And it seems as though pearls are surfacing and sparkling from beneath the water.  And of course there is the beautiful gold mandala in the middle that just yells out “rich!”  This painting represents abundance in so many ways, that it’s a joy for this feng shui consultant to reflect upon!

2.  Color.  Golds, reds, greens, and the clear blue are all great colors in the Money section!  Again, jewel tones and more jewel tones.

3.  Flow.  Water in the Money section is generally pretty great (as long as it’s not a stormy sea or a leak in the ceiling), as it a) symbolizes flow, hence a good flow of money, and b) the Money section is ruled by the element of Wood, and Water feeds Wood (think: plants need water to grow).  The river seems to have a nice, clean flow to it.  Wouldn’t you want your money to flow nicely and cleanly?

4.  Upward movement.  In this painting, there is an upward movement as if the boats are coasting up.  (The medallion brings the eye towards it, and because it is placed more towards the top of the painting, the energy most definitely goes that way.)  Because my friend will be putting it above the sink, this is especially important.  Sinks have drains, which are a downward motion, and unless cured, can represent money going down the drain.  Because of the bright, happy, and upward energy of this painting, it will counteract the downward pull of the drain, …and well, take her money to new heights!

5.  Love.  Best of all, my friend loves this painting.  She has an affinity for Thailand, has visited there on happy jobs, and in short, the painting makes her heart and soul sing.  To see this every morning as she’s making her morning tea will start every day on a high note — and that, my friends, is what good feng shui is all about!

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Can a Doormat Give You a Better Life?

I’ve got a thing for doormats.

Why?  Oh.  It must be because I’m a feng shui consultant, and doormats are one of the best things you can do for your life feng-shui-wise.

I know, I know — how can a doormat make THAT much difference?

Well, if you know anything about the Mouth of Chi (aka the front door), you know that you want to make it as inviting as possible.  This is because it represents inviting good things into your life.  If it’s friendly, fun, and bright, you have a better chance of attracting chi (good things).  If it’s anything less, well, you are just short-changing yourself.

But don’t listen to me.  Try it out!  If you have a crappy doormat, go ahead and buy one that you absolutely love, and then call me to tell me how right I am.  That you finally got that promotion at work, that you won the lottery, that you have been looking for Mr. Right, and oh my, you found him, like, the day after you put down the better mat.

(DISCLAIMER: if you have a lot of other feng shui boo-boos going on in your home, then I cannot guarantee the longevity nor the extent of your results.  However, you will still experience a positive, possibly major shift.)

Here are some do’s and don’ts with the doormat situation:

DO put your personality into it, if you feel like it.  How cute is this little DIY?

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 DO go for red as it’s a chi (good energy) attractor.  Fun patterns can work.  Elegant is good if that is the message you want to send to the world.

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Again, DO feel free to express yo’self.  Think of what or who you would experience if you came up to the front door and saw this — Pac Man!  (I’d guess playful, funny, youthful, and well, into video games?  Fun with a twist of nerd, maybe?)

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 Feeling patriotic?  Who says you have to keep your pride to yourself until Independence Day?  (Just don’t overdo it — save the flags for July.)

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When in doubt, you cannot go wrong with red, red, and red and welcome, welcome, welcome.

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And then THIS is absolutely what NOT to do.  This is the DON’T of the day.  Chi does not have this sort of sense of humor — good things will run away from you as a result.

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But let’s end on a high note…

 I personally love pink and I love hearts and I love love, so this is something I would choose (but I love the red and the simple welcome too — oh how to decide!?)

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In short, you want something clean, nice, and simple, perhaps with a reflection of your personality — make sure to keep it maintained and to buy something somewhat durable.  After all, it needs to be functional too!

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9 Feng Shui Things You Probably Already Do

1.  Cleaning.  Yes, cleaning counts A TON.  A clean house welcomes in the good chi and allows the energy to circulate happily.  You will feel healthier and happier in a clean house, because guess what, it promotes health and happiness!

2.  De-cluttering.  We all know that AHHH feeling when we get rid of clothes, toys, and anything else that is just taking up precious space in our homes.  In feng shui, new and good opportunities can better enter our lives when we “create a vacuum” and let go of that which no longer serves us.  Here’s to “out with the old, in with the new!”  It works!

3.  Creating a lovely front entrance.  The ever-powerful Mouth of Chi.  That’s what the front door is referred to in feng shui.  It’s where “the breath of life” comes in (hence, “mouth”).  When it’s pleasant and inviting with a nice cheerful welcome mat, again, it symbolizes saying to the Universe:  “Hello, please come in and bring good things with you!”  Wouldn’t YOU want to walk into the doors below???  So does Good Energy!

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4.  Using the front door.  Yes, even the very practice of using your front door is good feng shui!  Think about it — you can’t eat with your mouth shut all the time, right?  Neither can good energy come into your home if you never use your front door.

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5.  Making up your bed.  The subconscious loves ritual.  So even the easy ritual of making up your bed every morning sends the message to your Self that sleepy time is over and play/daytime has begun!  Plus it makes your bedroom feel good.

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6.  Straightening up before you go to bed at night.  When the things are put away, the dishes are done, the curtains are closed, and the desks are cleared off, you have a better chance for a good night’s sleep because these little tasks are not tugging on your subconscious.  Double duty:  when you wake up to a clean, tidied home, your psyche is ready for more important things so that your energy can go towards the fun stuff.

7.  Putting flowers around the house.  Fresh, wonderful flowers add color, life, scent, and beauty to the home.  Definitely good feng shui!
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8.  Lighting a candle.  Don’t you just love the warmth of a great-smelling candle.  You are promoting good energy by bringing in light, movement, color, and again aroma….especially if the candle is in your Self-Expression or Romance section of the bagua!

9.  Closing the toilet lid.  Okay, so maybe this isn’t something you already do, but you should!  The toilet represents a downward energy into no-man’s land that could just be sucking all that good energy down if you leave the lid open.  Plus, it’s just more pleasing to have the lid closed.  So keep a hold on your money and good luck by making this simple act a habit in your household.

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My Un-Professional, Amateur List of Super Foods

I’m not a dietician.  Nor am I a nutritionist.  But I have a read a lot about food, and I’ve spent the past 19 years (plus) experimenting, digesting, and eating lots of different things to figure out what my body likes best.

After all, when I decided to become a vegetarian (19 years ago), people scared the bakoodles out of me that I wasn’t going to get the nutrients — namely protein — that I need.  I was seriously freaked out by the backlash, so I took it upon myself to read, read, and read more.

Well, I’ve sure shown them!  Luckily, vegetarianism is now an acceptable way to eat — even in the South.

Please note:  I love to eat.  What I mean by that, is that I love to eat for pleasure.  So everything on my list is healthy, and also tastes good!

Here’s the bottom line:  Foods either heal you (and keep you healthy) or they can literally kill you.  The things that pass for foods these days is mind-boggling!  (i.e. Aspartame, anything genetically-modified, even processed white sugar, the list goes on…)

Unfortunately, when it comes to “food” in modern times, the race for big money is winning out over the welfare over the people.  Today’s tampered-with foods are literally making people sick.

But there are other books and blogs on that…

I just want to share with you my personal favorites, the GOOD stuff — health-affirming and happy.  And as always, organic and local is best!

1.  Coconut water — this stuff is a miracle (although not at all local here in Alabama).  Not the milk (although I’m a fan of that too), this is the water that lives inside of a YOUNG coconut.  (The milk is the “meat” of a more mature coconut turned into liquid.)  I think I drank two a day when I was pregnant, and I owe my daughter’s brilliance and beauty to the stuff.  🙂

2. Kale — raw and chopped, as a salad, or sauteed with some tomatoes over rice.  I’ve gone through phases where I’ve had to have kale every day or I just feel incomplete.

3.  Ginger — medicine, pure and simple.  Cut it up, put in in boiling water, add some honey, and you’ve got your tea for the day.

4.  Avocado — the good fat.  Even better — Guacamole:  Avocado mashed with a fork with some Real Salt, chopped tomato, cilantro, and lime.  Guac.  Is.  My.  Favorite.  Food.  Hands.  Down.

5.  Hummus — okay, this is not a food, it’s a recipe —  Chick peas, tahini, lemon, olive oil, garlic, and a bit of cumin and water.  Done.  Protein, yummy, happy happy.

6.   Lemons — add to your water to keep it alkalized.  Squeeze it over a salad for some dressing.  Or put it in your hair at the beach for highlights.

7.  Quinoa —  The Super-est of Grains.  Use it cold in a salad.  Or cook it up with some red lentils, ginger, and coconut milk.  Good, easy, and probably your protein intake for the week!  (Slight exaggeration.)  There’s a cool history on this stuff — the Incans ate it (worshipped it?) and when the Spaniards invaded, they saw what a superfood this was and they BANNED it for the Incans to weaken them.  Quinoa was almost lost to the Earth due to these jerks.  Luckily, some foodies in the 1980s revived it, and here it is on grocery shelves everywhere.

8.  Fruit — mangos, raspberries, bananas, peaches, strawberries, cantaloupe, tangerines, kiwi, pineapple, papaya, shall I go on?  I cannot sing the praises of fruit enough, especially in a smoothie or for breakfast.  Cleansing, packed with nutrients, and super-sweet goodness.   Nature’s Candy for real.

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9.  Almond butter — YUM.  (Sunflower seed butter, cashew butter, and pretty much all the nut butters get a thumbs up here.)

10.  Cashews — The Salt n’ Pepper ones I can’t even buy any more because my daughter and I will eat the whole container in one day.  They are probably better for you raw rather than roasted and salted and peppered, but I’m not getting that picky here.

11.  Broccoli — Sautee in coconut oil, sprinkle with lemon and Bragg’s amino acids (tastes like soy sauce) and then cover with lid to steam for a bit — my 3-year-old’s favorite veggie!

12.  Water.  Good ol’-fashioned water.  The best hydrator, cleanser, detox-er ever.  Gatorade and Vita-water only WISH they could be water.   But PLEASE just stop right now buying those pesky, Earth-killing individual plastic water bottles.  Seriously.  It is NOT convenient to have our Earth scattered with those things.  And the plastic leaks into the very water you are drinking!  And the water bottle industry is extremely questionable, so it’s bad to support it!  Get yourself a good Sigg bottle or a glass bottle to re-fill, and be good to yourself and our planet that gives us everything we need!

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In short, my body loves these foods — not in the Oreo-binging or ice-cream-sundae kind of way (those are just instant gratification things that make me feel sick thirty minutes later, although I wholly admit, I sometimes indulge!) — but in the long term, good-energy-all-day-and-all-life kind of way.

The bottom line here is that I don’t care how many calories something has, or how much fat it has — that’s not what eating is about — all I know is that when I eat these things, I feel GOOD.  Our bodies are amazing miraculous machines that are constantly giving us feedback on our lives — they tell us what they want and need, and not just on the physical, but on the emotional and spiritual levels as well.

So start listening people!  It could be the key to your health!

Put down the diet books, stop looking at the calorie content and, instead, look at the ingredient list (best foods have ingredients that aren’t chemicals, you know?) — and see how your body reacts.  In my opinion, the best doctor out there, is inside.

Oh.  And one more for fun.  My indulgence and my splurge.  Better than ice cream, maybe better than sex.

13.  Coconut Bliss.  Dark chocolate flavor.  WAY healthier than ice cream, frozen yogurt, and any of that.  Watch out, because this stuff will blow your freaking mind.

Enjoy!

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Money and Feng Shui: Potty Talk

Money is good, right?  Money brings us opportunities, stability, and all sorts of lovely things if managed, spent, given, and saved wisely.

In feng shui, water is one of the symbols of money.  When I’m at a client’s house, and they talk about leaks or clogs, then I am sure to tell them to do whatever it takes to fix these…as in turn, it will “fix” their money woes.

But to narrow all of this down, today, we will talk about the toilet.  Here’s a video going around now:  

It’s Matt Damon.  He says that the toilet is the number one lifesaver in the world…  Hmmmmm…  So, hail the toilet???

Regardless of Damon’s take on potties, it is known in feng shui that toilets have a downward energy, and if not given some attention, could represent money being flushed away.  In other words — unexpected, possibly large expenses or the feeling that money always seems to be draining out!  Toilets are especially important to cure if bathrooms are situated in the Money section of the bagua.

So how do you “cure” a toilet?
1.  Keep it clean.
2.  The Red Ribbon cure:  Cut a red ribbon.  Make sure it’s in increments of 9 (9, 18, 27 cm or inches) as 9 is the lucky number in feng shui.  Tie this red ribbon around a pipe behind the toilet, especially the outgoing pipe if possible.  You can also put a red ribbon or a red piece of tape around the bottom of the toilet bowl if you feel like REALLY doing it up.  (If it’s too garish for you to use red, then do the other cures.)
3.  Use “upward-motion” plants or art work to counteract the downward motion of the toilet.
4.  If necessary, put a mirror on the floor behind the toilet or underneath the lid of the toilet, or on top of the back of the toilet bowl, FACING UP, to counteract the downward motion.
5.  Hang a medium to large round-faceted crystal from the ceiling above the toilet from a red cord (increments of 9, please!).
5.  Keep the toilet lid closed!

Feel free to do all or only some of these.  Remember, intention is the key!  State: “My finances are protected, and I enjoy great abundance,” while implementing the cures for that extra special something.

bamboo for upward motion & abundance.  red tape and ribbon for protection.  even the shower curtain’s pattern helps with the downward flow.  and of course, the lid is shut!

P.S. You can also use the red ribbon cure for other drains (sinks, etc.) around the house.

Have fun (smartly so) with the extra money you’re going to find in your bank account as a result!

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Tea Recipe to Keep You Healthy!

My first yoga class was in 1998 at a place called Yoga Yoga in Austin, Texas.  A skinny man with a beard dressed in white clothes with a turban on his head had us do strange chanting and fast breathing and other things like make faces like a lion and laugh spontaneously and then we all had to lay down while he played a gong for what seemed like a very long time.

I thought it was the weirdest thing ever.

Then, after is was all over, we were served a cup of the most amazing tea I had ever had.  Seriously.  It tasted SO good to me.

So I went back.  And I went back again.  And again.  Because, although yoga was extremely unusual to my Southern upbringing, I sure did feel good after class and for the days afterwards.  And that tea!  How could I pass up that tea?

That was my introduction to yoga; it was kundalini yoga.  My first teacher was Mehtab (aka Michael), and his classes were quite magical.  And that tea is known as Yogi Tea (or chai), and it’s a recipe passed on from the famed Yogi Bhajan.

I still practice Kundalini yoga, and I don’t think it’s weird at all any more, just awesome.  I now live in my home state of Alabama, and I take the occasional kundalini class here at the various yoga studios around town that happen to offer it.  Recently I was in Akasha’s class at Birmingham Yoga, and he reminded us of the awesome benefits of yogi tea and suggested we make it ourselves.

Wow.  Why haven’t I thought of that?

So at New Year’s, a friend and I went to the store seeking out the ingredients, and I now drink this wonderful tea in the comfort of my own home just about every morning.  Because it’s just so darn good!

AND, I have not gotten the flu.  I swear, I think this tea may be the best cold/sick preventer out there.  Be gone, flu.  Be gone, flu-shots-that-get-us-sick-anyway!

So drink up, friends!

Here’s the recipe courtesy of Birmingham Yoga!

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YOGI TEA:

When Yogi Bhajan was a military commander in India there was an epidemic among the troops. He ordered all of his men to fill their canteens with yogi tea and drink nothing else, not even water. His Battalion was the only unit that didn’t get sick! Yogi tea purifies the blood, lungs and circulatory system. It cleans the liver and has many more unseen benefits. It’s good to drink this tea every day.
1 Gallon Water
30 Cloves
30 whole Green Cardamon pods
30 whole Black Peppercorns
1 inch or more of fresh Ginger, thinly sliced
5 sticks Cinnamon
1 teabag, Black Tea ( leave out if sensitive to caffeine or planning to drink at night)
*Milk and Honey/Maple syrup to taste or Almond Milk.
  1. Bring water to boil.
  2. Add all spices except black tea bag. Boil 30 -45 min. If you want to make it stronger boil longer and add more water as needed.
  3. At the end add black tea bag and boil another 5 min.
    **The black tea is added last because it amalgamates the spices and sort of seals them. Also the tannins help assimilate the spices into the body.
  4. Add milk & sweetener to an individual cup as you require.  This will allow you to store the raw tea in the fridge and prepare with milk and sweeteners as you like.
  5. If you go cup by cup, you can leave the raw tea on the stove on the lowest flame to enjoy all day.
**Milk helps to ease the shock of the spices on the stomach and intestines so drink with milk if you’re sensitive. Note: for a stronger tea you can let the spices sit and sink to the bottom.
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Dalai Lama Promotes Feng Shui (in his own words)

Re-organizing my files for the new year, I came across this article I wrote that was published in Sun Valley, Idaho back in 2005.  The Dalai Lama had just visited and spoke there….
“A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.” –His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The above statement may seem simple at first reading, but upon consideration, it is really quite powerful. I believe that the Dalai Lama is emphasizing the importance of the state of one’s living space….a.k.a. feng shui.
Too many people are careless with the space in which they work or dwell. In terms of the Black Sect Tantric Buddism school of feng shui (which is a derivative of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism), when a person is thoughtful (or thoughtless) in regard to his or her living space, it spills out into his or her life.
So why does feng shui have all those strange and curious “cures,” you might ask, if all one has to do is create a “loving atmosphere”? The fact is most of us have forgotten what a loving atmosphere is. Sure, we may recognize it when we see it, but making it happen is a different story. This is a result of a mass disease that has taken over our world: that is the disease of not knowing how to love our selves completely. Otherwise, creating our lives according to our deepest desires and most lofty dreams would be a cinch.
I like to tell my clients to imagine reading a short story where the author describes the space. 
This a quick way to notice the “symbolism” that occurs in your own home. After all, the subconscious sees everything. It constantly absorbs messages from our environment and processes these messages. In turn, these messages are sent into our energy fields, creating the very lives we are experiencing. Imagine the difference of a home filled with unwanted gifts, dying plants, and cluttered closets compared to one with healthy flowers, treasured objects, and neatly organized closets with (gasp) extra space! The first home feels slightly neglected, even if the rest of the furnishings were pleasant, while the second space feels freer, lighter, and, cherished. Even the smallest of details have an impact. Our subconscious mind takes images without a filter.
A wonderful start to a loving atmosphere is to first discard or give away any objects that you do not love in your home. Clutter is a sure way to block your highest potential as the subconscious sees it as a symbol of things that we don’t love or need in our lives and creates accordingly. It is amazing how letting go of a thing as simple as a candle from an unfaithful ex-lover or a blanket that you have never used because it is too scratchy can lighten your load! The subconscious gets the message that you’d rather have something (or someone) better in your life.
Next, play with ideas, and find out what it is that want to invite into your life. Then consciously bring it into your home symbolically. For example, you’ve always wanted to travel to Italy.   Then stick a postcard of the the Mediterranean on your refrigerator. Would you like to amp up your love life? Figure out your own personal “romance symbol” and drape it, plant it, or play it on your stereo everyday. The key to creating a great life is to get creative!
With every object in our homes, we are sending a message to ourselves and to the Universe. Wouldn’t you want your message to be one of pure and uplifting love so that you could receive that, and only that, back? Use your conscious mind to transform your subconscious mind, and then witness the shifts in your life.


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The *Real* Santa (I Met Him!)

My two-year-old daughter managed to take a four-hour nap today.  All parents know what this means – it means that I was in for a long night because there was no way she was falling asleep anywhere near her 8 PM bedtime.
My solution to this was to take us both Christmas shopping after dinner.  I had been meaning to go to 2nd and Charles, a store that sells used books mostly, but also DVDs, CDs, and even musical instruments and toys.  I think it is my new favorite store as I have always found a home in big bookstores (a dying entity), and most importantly, it is eco-shopping at its finest!  (Buying used anything lessens the impact on the Earth.) 
When I was done there, the Tuesday Morning next door lured me in.  (Ooo, pretty lights.)  We browsed the aisles.  
“Mommy, a kitty,” A. exclaimed, spotting the stuffed animals.  I handed a soft and squishy yellow plush cat to her.  
“Okay, but you know the rule.  You can carry it around while we shop, but when it’s time to go, it stays here.”  
“Okay,” she said merrily.  (I’ve trained her well on this, believe me, for my sanity and my bank account’s sake.)  
Two minutes later, she picks up a pink bag with a penguin on it.  “Okay, you can carry it, but we are not taking it home.”  Then a Cat in the Hat puzzle.  Then a mug.  Then a sip cup.  Then a jewelry box. Then a princess-y something.
We received many a smile and some “she’s so cute” due to A’s delight in just about every little thing in the store.   By the time we reached the cash register, she had traded out everything except for a pink “ballerina outfit” as she called it.  I waited in line as she chanted, “Mommy, I love this pink ballerina dress.  Mommy.  This ballerina dress is so pretty.  Mommy.  It is pink with a heart on it.”
I (utilizing a very important parenting skill) have learned to tune this sort of thing out — this chanting of “I want, I want, I want.” Dutifully, I hummed back, “Mmm-hmmm.  But we are not taking it home.  You can ask Santa for it if that’s what you want.”
The line was really taking too long at that point.  A woman checking out smiled again at us. I shook my head playfully smiling, insinuating, “Kids.  You know.”  I then paid for my item and said, “Okay, it’s time to give the lady the costume.  Remember you can always ask Santa for it.”  A. obeyed, and we were almost successfully out the door…
Until, the smiley woman asked the cashier for the dress.  Then the smiley woman bent down to A’s height, holding the dress up for her, and said, “Merry Christmas, sweetheart.” 
Then she stood up, and somewhat shyly said to me, “I don’t have any children to buy for this year, so you know, I just wanted to give that to her.” 
“Wow, thank you so much, “ I said, truly touched.  I directed A. to say “thank you” too, which she did.  (I think we were both a little dumbfounded actually.)
We took a few steps towards the door.  I turned to thank her again, the reality of the act settling in.  This time I asked her her name, and I introduced A. and myself.  We all said merry Christmas again….really meaning it…and both smiling even bigger.
And I tell you what.  That simple act.  That random act.  That kind act from this one woman in a store in the middle of Birmingham, Alabama, was such a true one.  This small gesture had so much power! It’s going to sound corny no matter how I write it — but driving home, I knew I had been touched by the Christmas spirit.  Really.  I felt downright giddy, with a little jingle bell tingle inside of me.  I was just smiling!  I said a prayer for the lady, that she sincerely have a merry Christmas, and I also asked for opportunities to pay this little-act-but-huge-kindness forward.  I want everyone to feel this feeling! 
Because there really is so much kindness in the world.  So much good.  It seems to get muddled in all of our humanness sometimes, and that’s okay.  I have faith in it.  I have faith in humankind.  There are just so many good people.
Santa is real.  Corny again, but he really does live inside each and every one of us.  So when we tell our children to believe in Santa, what we are really saying is:  Believe in Good.  Believe in Joy.  Believe in Generosity, Kindness, and Love.
In the end, we are telling them to believe in the good in themselves…and the good in others.
No matter how much darkness we have to endure while on this planet, we can all rest assured:  Santa Lives.  
It’s up to us to keep him alive, for there will ALWAYS be good.  So keep believing.
Merry Christmas, sweet people!  May random acts of kindness find you this holiday season and beyond….

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A Good Gift (sometimes has a little surprise)

A friend of mine had sent me a file of a short story called “The Man Who Planted Trees.”  I was eager to read it, but I usually save my leisure reading for when I’m curled up in bed ready to go to sleep,  and the last thing I want to do is be looking at a computer screen then.  He kept asking if I had read it, claiming that I was going to love it, and I kept saying “No, I’m on the computer too much as it is,  but I will, I really will.”

Finally, fed up, he graciously gave me a hard copy as a gift.

The book is just lovely to hold.  I was admiring it, happy to receive such a thoughtful gift, when I exclaimed, “Oh!  Andy wrote the forward!”  My friend looked at me curiously (as if I was a little nuts really.)

I explained to him that Andy used to be my “boss.”

Opening the book to Andy’s contribution, I was delighted to see a description of TreePeople where I used to work when I lived in Los Angeles.  Andy is the founder of this dynamic and visionary non-profit organization where, you guessed it, we planted trees (well, actually, we guided entire communities to plant trees).  Andy was also my neighbor and has become my friend.

TreePeople is an organization close to my heart.  And here it was, finding its way back to me in Alabama, where I currently live.

And my friend was right.  I love this book.  The illustrations are actually wood engravings based on this timeless story about, yes, a man who planted trees (and so much more).  It reads like a fable, and an endearing one at that.

And I got to read it the proper way, in bed in my pajamas with just my bedside lamp on.  And in one delicious sitting.

If you are looking for something to give this Christmas, I recommend this.  It’s the perfect holiday read — short and sweet — made for sitting by the fire, sipping hot cocoa.  And it’s printed on recycled paper to boot.

Have a merry one!  And plant a tree (or ten) to make up for the one that you purchased for Christmas!

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I Heart Yoga

This beautiful video inspired me.  Entirely.  I adore this guy, and I love that he had the insight to document his process.

Then it inspired me to post a blog I wrote a year ago and never put up.  (I have a few of these that are waiting in the wings for the right time.)

Here it is:

I love yoga.  Yoga has saved my life (slight exaggeration, but only slight).  It’s my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balm.  It’s my community, my medicine, my thing-that-keeps-me-balanced.  In the past, when I’ve written gratitude lists, having access to good yoga definitely makes the top five.  If you have tried yoga, and you didn’t like it, try another teacher.  If you have never tried it, well, I guess you don’t know what you are missing out on.
 
Because I want to write about things that inspire me for The Sparklit, I must write about my friend, Heather “Radja” Duplex, who recently posted a video about being committed to yoga, mostly because, while what she said in the video was great, what had the most impact was how lovely and happy she seemed.  I haven’t seen Heather face to face in probably five years. 
Heather and I met in Los Angeles in 2002 through a mutual friend, an artist (hi Todd!), and the times I remember with Heather were full of laughter, girl talk, and a little bit of curiosity on my end.  After all, she was SO dedicated to yoga like nothing I’ve ever seen, and she cooked and ate things like kale and quinoa as if those foods were the most natural things to grab for in the grocery store, and she was a Reiki master, but really didn’t talk about that much.  At the time, I was still in the early years of being a yoga student (5 years in approximately, and I now know that is nothing), and I had recently taken my Reiki I training, and although I had been a vegetarian for a while, I had never made kale in my life. 
Heather and I would lose touch from time to time (I moved to Idaho, she was traveling a lot), but whenever we would see each other again, it was with joy and interest.  I watched as her life evolved beautifully – taking the yoga further and falling in love with Prem and eventually moving to Kauai (a favorite place of mine), and now Bali (where I am so wanting to go one day, soon please?).  She is truly an example of a person who walks her walk, talks her talk, and has followed her passion for yoga and her desire to live authentically to a place that few of us dare to tread. 
I was so happy to see the videos that she and Prem have posted for several reasons.  (Go to their website, www.ashtangaworld.com for those and more.)  First of all, I am excited for their dedication to yoga and to the yoga community.  Second, Heather looks gorgeous as usual, and I just have to say, I can guarantee this woman has never had botox!  (She would laugh heartily at that suggestion!) Her appearance is a result of clean living, my friends – dedication to yogic practice, including what she eats (and drinks).  That’s not to say she won’t have a piece of chocolate cake or a beer from time to time, but seriously, this woman keeps her system clean.  And it shows.  Look at her eyes!  Shimmery clear gorgeous.  A mermaid on land, I like to call her.  (I dare you to guess her age.)
So, if you are inclined to go to Bali, or take your yoga practice to new heights, these are the people to call.  I have never met Prem myself, but I trust Heather’s judgement.  Ha! And so should you. 
Looking forward to the next time our paths cross, Heather!  xoxo
Heather and Guruji back in the day
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I encourage y’all to do/try yoga.  It will better your life in every way!  If you are a beginner and you’re nervous about not being flexible or falling down or anything, just chill out.  Stop with the excuses; you’re only cheating yourself.  We were all beginners at some time.  Trust me, we have all looked and felt dumb, and I think it’s probably part of the process of getting out of the ego!  Since yoga is so new to the West, I guarantee that many people in the class started as adults and know exactly where you are.  More than that, no one really cares what you look like.  Plus, you get as much benefit from being stiff as a board and MOVING than the gumby next to you.   Yoga has nothing to do about how “good” you are at it.  I know this is shocking to our Western brains, but it’s true.  A good teacher will make you feel welcome in class.  Please try several teachers as there is a ton of variety in yoga and the teacher affects your experience entirely!  My first yoga was Kundalini.  I have since added Hatha, Ashtanga, Vinyasa Flow, Sivananda, among others to the mix. 
If you need names of teachers in Birmingham, AL; Los Angeles, CA; Sun Valley, ID, I have personal experience in all places, and I’d be happy to recommend!  (Austin, TX and NYC and Mobile too!)
Doreen Virtue claims that the ancient yogis infused prayers into the poses.  I believe it.  And after watching the video at the top of the page, don’t you believe it too?  
BEST HOLIDAY GIFT:  Give someone a gift certificate to yoga!  
I found this floating around FaceBook.  This woman is 83 years old!!!

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