Monthly Archives: November 2011

Gratitude

Crabapples

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” –Melody Beattie

Dear Reader:

At this time of Thanksgiving, I thought I would share an article I recently wrote for a friend’s newsletter. You can read the entire newsletter at the Nurturing Tranquility News link here. In honor of Small Business Saturday (heck, let’s make it Small Business MONTH), if you are in the neighborhood, consider buying salon products or gift certificates from this wonderful salon & spa.

Gratitude.

There are many ways to view the commonalities of life that we all experience; we fit these commonalities into patterns or schemas that allow us to organize them, contemplate them, analyze them, and then act according to them. One of the many schemas available to us is the concept of energy centers or chakras. In this short article, we will talk about chakras as they relate to a system of healing known as Reiki. Reiki healing is based on “ki” or life force that comes from your higher power, whatever your higher power happens to be. For you, that may mean God. For someone else, it may mean simply their highest self. For a Star Wars fan, it may be The Force.

According to the Reiki system of thought and healing, the body has several “energy centers” called chakras. Each chakra has certain characteristics and affects corresponding areas of the body. These energy centers can become blocked, causing physical and spiritual problems. A Reiki practitioner can use gentle hands-on healing techniques to open the energy center, allowing the ki, or life force, to flow freely. Individuals can also nourish and open the chakras with meditation and focus. And that is what we are going to talk about this month–opening the 2nd chakra with gratitude.

Stream

The 2nd chakra is located in the lower abdomen and is known as the pleasure chakra. It is here that we experience joy, creativity, sexual pleasure, enjoyment, and sensuality. This is the center where, if open, we are able to take pleasure in life and all it has to offer us. We can enjoy the beauty of a pink sunset, the taste of chocolate on our tongue, the way our partner’s eyes crinkle in the corners when he/she laughs, the rhythmic beat of our favorite piece of music, etc. Blockages at this chakra can produce feelings of apathy, dissatisfaction, and depression. You may feel tired. You may do things out of a sense of duty rather than creativity and pleasure.

One way to open and nurture your 2nd chakra is to practice gratitude. At this time of year with Thanksgiving just around the corner, this is a wonderful time to give gratitude some thought. Taking time to appreciate what you have–even the smallest things–opens that old 2nd chakra and makes way for more good feelings and energy to come your way. This concept is related to “the power of attraction” we’ve heard so much about lately. If you focus on what is pleasurable in your life and feel grateful for what life has given you, you are likely to attract MORE good things to you.

You don’t have to be a Reiki practitioner to recognize the universal nature of this concept. Most religions teach about the practice of gratitude–praising God or making offerings of thanksgiving. Seems that on some level there is a universal understanding that appreciation, gratitude, and thanksgiving are healthy for human beings. Focus on what is good in your life. Focus on the flavors of the food you eat. Focus on the pleasures of touch. Focus on the sounds of your favorite music. Use all your senses. Then, think:

“Thanks, Life (God, Gaia, Universe, etc.). This is really, really wonderful (delicious, gorgeous, tasty, mind-blowing, fabulous, etc.)!”

You may be surprised at how fulfilled and joyful you feel. Gratitude really is the “magic” ingredient for a more joy-filled, pleasurable, creative life.

Second Chakra Orange

I wish all of you, my dear readers, a happy and healthy Thanksgiving and the beginning of a joyous winter season.

Small Business Saturday

Meat Market

Dear Reader:

How did I not hear about this last year? I will blame it on my avoidance of all things “Black Friday” which happens to be the day before “Small Business Saturday.” You couldn’t catch me within ten miles of the Maine Mall or Target or Walmart or any place with a large parking-lot the day after Thanksgiving. I tried that once. Two days before giving birth to the Teen. I was with my sis-in-law, and we circled the mall parking lot for about half an hour before giving up on finding a parking space and going home to my apartment in Westbrook to eat some leftover pie. Looking back, it was probably for the best. I would NOT have wanted to go into labor in the midst of sales-crazed, sleep-deprived retail divas.

Anyway, this year I saw the very catchy advertisement promotion for Small Business Saturday and practically jumped up into a spontaneous version of a pep-rally cheer I learned my senior year in high school. Okay, I just made that up. Truly, I can’t think of any 1980’s high-school cheer that would fit. I just wanted to throw in some mention of cheering since it was actually quite fun and totally unexpected for me…I’d always been a b-ball player, but for reasons I won’t mention, we didn’t have a team that year. I tried out for cheering instead. I liked it. Who knew?

There is a connection here, I promise. Maybe you’ve always been a big-box shopper. You’ve trained for it. You have become rather adept at following the sales fliers and know the store layouts by heart. Cashiers greet you by name. You are a super-store super-star.

But what if you are missing out on a really fun, exciting shopping experience in your locally-owned small business community? Perhaps here you would truly shine . . . or at least expand your retail horizons! Cheer yourself or a loved one with some really unique handmade items at the local gift shop. Cartwheel your way through the carefully-vetted book selection at the non-chain bookstore the next town over. Spring into back flips when you realize the meat at the local butcher shop is grass-fed, antibiotic-free and reasonably-priced to boot. Victory will be yours when you sit down with a well-deserved glass of wine from an in-state vintner and realize that your hard-earned (and hard-spent) money will be staying in the community rather than flying out of state or out of country into the pockets of shadowy corporate executives.

Give me a “V!” Give me an “I!” Give me a . . . well, you get the picture.

Don’t forget. Make a plan. Mark the date. Saturday, November 25, 2011. Small Business Saturday. Shop small.

Jumping Into the Electronic Publishing Pool

View Of the Lake

Dear Reader:

More and more I see people reading books and magazines on electronic reading devices, and I’ve spent a few hours here and there looking at Nooks and Kindles and researching how to download (or upload?) electronic books from the Portland Public Library. I’ve browsed the selections of ebooks on Amazon and digital publishers like The Wild Rose Press. I’ve tried to wrap my brain around self-publishing in a digital format, have read articles claiming it is either the best thing going for newbies or it is just one more way to find yourself floundering around with few readers, no marketing plan to speak of, and a big batch of disappointment.

So, when a friend of mine sent me a link to a Lulu.com short story contest, I wasn’t sure how I felt about publishing the story digitally on their website in order to enter the contest. Because I needed a project, I finally just jumped in and wrote the story. Next I paddled around the publishing site, trying to figure out how the whole process worked. Finally I worked up the nerve to start the publishing process. I followed the directions step-by-step until, voila! I had an actual electronic short story complete with cover page ready for viewing/downloading on Lulu.com.

The process really was fantastically easy . . . though a complete novel might be a wee bit more complicated when it comes to correct formatting.

I will be interested to see how many people I can entice into signing up at lulu and downloading the FREE story entitled Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. Yes, you read that right. I love food, I love making jam, and I love this title. I also like the story, but you’ll have to read it for yourself and see what you think.

Where did I come up with this idea, you ask? Well, I was tuning in to Pandora.com (a webstreamed music provider) when an advertisement for Stonewall Kitchen (a great Maine-owned company, by the way) popped up on the side panel. The featured product was, you guessed it, Wild Maine Blueberry Jam. Since I had no idea what my story was supposed to be about, I thought I’d start with those four words as my title. A few hours later, I had a story.

So, thank you, Stonewall Kitchen. Thank you, Sandra Waugh for the pointing me toward the contest. Thank you, Lulu.com for making publishing so easy.

For a small, delicious read of Wild Maine Blueberry Jam, go to http://www.lulu.com/product/ebook/wild-maine-blueberry-jam/18661049