Cage Makers

cage

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (The Great)

Once upon a time there was a cage. The cage was stuffed full of unhappy people. A guard stood next to the cage, cuffed to the door. He was unhappy, too. He wore a key around his neck at all times.

Inside the cage there was a little boy. He wanted to break out. One day he ran towards the bars and tried to squeeze through. He held his breath and wiggled between the bars. The unhappy people heckled him. His mother grabbed his arm and scolded him.

“What are you doing?” she asked. “It is not safe outside the cage!”

The boy didn’t care. He didn’t understand why the unhappy people wouldn’t try to escape to find a better life. The boy tried again and again to squeeze out through the bars. His mother scolded him again and again. The unhappy people thought he was delusional and filled with crazy ideas.

So one night, when everybody was sleeping, the little boy lie awake. He listened for the snoring around him, then stood up and inched towards the bars. He held his breath, squeezed through and escaped. He ran and ran for two days and two nights until he found a tree on the other side of the forest. He climbed up the tree and rested.

When the sun crested the mountains, and the morning birds sang, the boy awoke. He looked around. Flower-filled meadows lie before him. A crystal clear creek ran along the side. The forest behind him was filled with smells and sounds he had never heard before in the cage. He vowed never to return to the cage.

But as time marched forward, he began to miss his mother. He journeyed back to the cave and snuck in during the dark of night. He spotted the guard, snoring, and lifted the key off his neck. He quietly unlocked the gate and shook his mother, “Mother, wake up. I’ve come to free you from the cage.”

One by one all the people opened their eyes. They stared at him. His mother shook her head. The people muttered, “He was never right, that boy.” One little boy stared at him with eyes that said he wanted to leave, but couldn’t. The boy’s mother tightly held his hand.

“Run!” he said. “You’re all free.”

Nobody moved.

The boy turned away, tears in his eyes and ran. He ran away, never to return to the cage.

(Taken from the awesome short film entitled “The Cage.”)

The cage can be a job. It can be a relationship, a philosophy, a body, a religion, a way of life that no longer serves. It can be our own subconscious minds that lead us through an automaton existence of list items because we have never reprogrammed or updated our dinosaur-aged software. Heck, it can be not knowing where to start so not starting anywhere. Analysis paralysis. Trance dance.

The secret is that not only do we make our own cages, we possess the key to bust out. We are both the person inside and the person guarding the gate. We are also the person with the choice to escape to beautiful landscapes.

Indeed, the choice is ours.

 

Posted in co-creating, conscious living, facing your fears, healthy living, hope, Inspiration, Uncategorized, vision | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We Celebrate You, Pretty Girl

 

bay“Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you. I loved you so–’twas Heaven here with you.”   Isla Paschal Richardson

(Thank you, Sybil Avery)

This has been a tough week, but beautiful at the same time.

It started right after meditation last Monday. Ms Bay (aka Miss Bay, Bailey, Bailey Jo, Happy Dog, Bacon & Eggs, & more times than not, Pretty Girl) usually joins me in my meditation room and she was there on Monday. She was curled up on my meditation cushion which she was certain was her bed from the first time she saw it so I adopted another seat and that became hers. As my meditation time wrapped up, she sat up as if to say, “What next? Wanna play squirrel?”DSCN4543

I headed down the hall. “Come on, Pretty Girl,” I called.

She tried to stand up and fell. She looked like a foal right after it’s born, trying to find its footing–but traumatic. She bumped into the wall. She shook, trying to recover. She fell again. I grabbed her to steady her, but I knew in my heart something was very wrong. I yelled for my husband who was upstairs working and we got her into the living room and positioned her to lie down.

We both sat there staring at her wondering what had just happened. We’d just had her at the vet the week before and tested her blood because we’d seen a rapid decline over the past few months and nobody had been able to figure out why. She turned 12 in December (84 to you and me, right?) so we knew we would be facing geriatric issues, but things were moving so quickly.

I bounced up and went straight to her food. In her whole entire life, she’s NEVER not eaten enthusiastically. I handed her a piece of food. She turned her head. I laid down next to her and wept. I knew her time here on Planet Earth was wrapping up. I hated that she was uncomfortable and that her body was failing her. She had been a manifestation of grace from the first time we saw her at 8 weeks old and she gave us a stick when we went to meet her. She could barely carry it she was so tiny. I knew being like this was hard for her.pup

I called the vet to check the bloodwork and told them about the incident. Our vet was in surgery, but they said to head over. My husband picked up our lug of love and put her in the car. We headed north, 30 miles north to Palo Cedro. (We drive that far because our vet, Jen Powers, is simply amazing.)

When Dr. Jen came in, we explained the incident. We decided to do another ultrasound on her abdomen as we had two months earlier. We’d noticed this area was tender and extended. Two months earlier the ultrasound showed nothing. In addition, her bloodwork was good and red blood cell count was normal. However, today there was a huge tumor the size of a grapefruit on her spleen. She had an aggressively spreading cancer called hemangiosarcoma. Though surgery was possible, it would at best gain her a month and a traumatic one at that. At worst, the cancer had spread throughout and her time would be even shorter or she might not  survive the surgery. The vet, to her credit because certainly she would make more money from a surgery, recommended we say goodbye.

We were shocked. That quickly? We asked about the process. We wanted our youngest son– who had really grown up with her–to have a chance to say goodbye and to Facetime with our oldest son in Tucson. She offered to come to our house in the early evening so we could have the day with her and say our goodbyes.

This turned out to be a beautiful gift. We brought her home, made her a big bed in the middle of the living room and spent the whole day giving her all-you-can-eat cheese, bread and salami trays while listening to Spa on Pandora. My husband meticulously cut the smoky cheddar because she was having problems working her mouth. (She was so excited because she’s never been able to eat much of those things on her weight conscious food program and she was bound and determined to make that mouth work which she did!)DSCN4880 She was too weak to go outside so, as the day progressed, my husband took a shot of the sunset, propped it up in the Ipad A-frame, and brought the sunset inside for her to look at. She adored the outside.

unnamed (2)My mom, who’d babysat Ms. Bay on many occasions and was in sync with her on many levels, came over to our Ms. Bay celebration circle. We sat and talked about all the  gifts Ms. Bay brought into our lives and all the memories we built together. I wanted her to hear those. I thought I’d share part of that list with you. The overwhelming top item is unconditional love. Here are a few others.

  1. Her snaggletooth
  2. Her daily safari walks with Mom & Dad in Nor Cal. (That’s her on the running grass.)DSCN2352
  3. Keep away with anybody who’d play
  4. Playing drug dog at LAX when Grandma came to visit
  5. Wild Dog moments
  6. Belly scratches, starting at Abe’s basketball games in high school and lasting until she was too in pain to role over
  7. Cliff walks in PV after dropping Jordie at school
  8. Crashing Poodle Parties at the Redondo Beach Dog Park (they have the best snacks)
  9. Swim lessons in Redondo
  10. Chronic Ingestor. (Frisbee, lightbulb, Christmas tree ball, tennis ball, variety of furniture, center island)
  11. Soccer at Maricopaunnamed (4)
  12. Car rides. She LOVED car rides. Her longest was 1,100 miles round trip to LA and back.
  13. The Rub My Belly game
  14. Abs for Dummies with Mommy. She’d lay on her back, paws in the air, just like Mommyunnamed (1)
  15. Sled Dog. She’d drag 5 year old Jordie around on a towel after his baths. We still have the towels with holes in them because we just couldn’t  let them go
  16. Dog Beach in Santa Cruz
  17. Showers. She loved showers. She’d look longingly at you and got so excited when you invited her in.
  18. Water of any kind was cause to celebrate
  19. Code word: CHEESE
  20. Seeing snow for the first time DSCN1940 (1)
  21. Puppy parties, first as a puppy and later as the alpha
  22. Best friends, Abby and Sadie
  23. Her drippy eyes that Daddy so lovingly wiped with warm water many days
  24. Her smile
  25. Spa time with Mommy
  26. Tug
  27. Crack the Whip with Gma (Cat Spotting!)
  28. Floor Cleaner Extraordinaire
  29. Tumbleweed hair balls across the kitchen floor
  30. Sunday walks to the Beach and Catalina Coffee in Redondo
  31. Lover of all people and animals (well, except cats)msbay
  32. Building lakes at her water bowl
  33. Her intuition and grace
  34. Teaching us how to love better (that’s Ms. Bay, repping The Love Campaign)
  35. Hike up Quail Canyon in Santa Cruz
  36. Doggie accupuncture
  37. Tic Lake at Grandpa’s (she came home from Grandpa’s ranch with 30 tics!)
  38. Her princess feet. When we moved to the sticks, and she’d get a sticker, she’d hold her paw up and stare at us until we got it out.
  39. Guard Dog. She never barked unless someone came to the door.
  40. Her tapping on Daddy’s step to tell him it was time to wake up.
  41. Early morning love time with Daddy
  42. Post Date Night Play time with Daddy
  43. Her Thundershirt. She hated loud guns and thunder so became the proud owner of the Thundershirt.
  44. Lassie Rescue Dog. When Gma fell over, she sat right next to her and barked really loud for help–and as established, she wasn’t a barker.
  45. Her love of toys (that’s her donut)
  46. Being at the center of all thingsDSCN2624

The list, of course, goes on. If you read this and you have a memory, I’d love to hear it.

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As Dr. Jen came in we all gathered around Ms. Bay giving her hugs and kisses as she transitioned. It was quick and I felt her beautiful spirit lift up and frolic with relief. We wrapped her in her special paw print blanket and Dr. Jen took her to be cremated. We will take her ashes and spread them in all her favorite places, and those we wished we could take her to, but couldn’t. If we had to see her go, we were so happy she was able to leave as gracefully as she had lived.

The pain is raw and sharp and palpable. We find ourselves still tip-toeing in the darkness of our room at night so as not to step on wherever she plastered herself across the floor near our bed. I find myself still opening the door ever-so-slowly as to not hit her where she stands on the other side, tail vigorously wagging. (As soon as I walked in, she’d rush to get a toy to play.) At her meal times, we find ourselves painfully aware that she’s not there looking at us, tilting her head, and saying, “Are you ready, because I am.” At our mealtimes, sitting close as if to say, “Are you going to eat that?”

But this is part of the cycle and we’re all subject to it. Love from friends and relatives and strangers helps immensely. It makes us feel Ms. Bay. Yesterday, a beautiful bouquet of yellow roses (for the yellow lab, I’m thinking) came that simply read, “Thinking of you with Love.” No name. I felt it came from Love itself, which is perfect, because that’s where Ms. Bay came from, too. (Further detective work showed they were from our special friends, Netters, John & Biscuit, to wipe our tears. Thank you, truly, for your kindness.) Other unnamed (5)thoughtful friends sent special cards, Facebook private messages and posts, emails, calls, and my sweet friend Lois sent this special book. All of it makes us feel the love that Ms. Bay embodied. Thank you all so much.unnamed (3)

Ms. Bay was a very special spirit who left her paw print on everybody, human and animal, that she met. People felt the angel inside when they met her. I still feel that angel spirit with me now. Pure unconditional love.

With heartfelt gratitude, Ms. Bay, thank you.

I love you so.DSCN4882

 

 

Posted in conscious living, friends, hope, Inspiration, pet health, pets | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Worry Free Diet

carefreeI had this conversation with my mother a few weeks ago which got me thinking. In it, I said something like, “Of course you’re worried. You always worry.” I wasn’t as crass as that because it was my mother and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings. Her reply was the surprising part: “Oh, honey, do you think I worry a lot?”

I pointed to the fact that in every conversation we had (daily) she used the word “worry” two to six times. She was completely unaware of this. This had gone on for years, her worry words and my listening, yet she didn’t hear them herself.  (I wondered how many things I did that I was completely unaware of and that my kids would call me out on eventually. Karma is a harsh mistress.)  From that conversation forward, my mom shifted her language, and while I could still hear worry in her voice, she made the conscious effort to not let it live in her language.

The incident got me thinking about worry and why we do it. We have this delusion that by worrying about something we are lending our support to that issue. We care about that person or thing and we want to make sure there’s a safety bubble surrounding the object of our concern. Building our worry bubble comes from a place of good intention.

This is a complete illusion, of course. We do not make a situation better by worrying about it. In fact, by worrying, we shed an energy over a situation that makes the situation worse. Others can feel that worry and it makes them tense and anxious, not to mention all the toxicity we pour into our own being.

Visionary teacher Michael Bernard Beckwith addresses the need to adopt a Worry Free Diet in his presentation “You Are the Answer.” He says that in order to live and be what you were meant to be on this earth, you need to watch your what you’re putting in to your mind and body. He says we need to stop dropping placeholders in negativity and understand that all that does is release negative toxins in our bodies and make us prematurely old.

Instead, placeholders in positivity and gratitude are a much better choice. Using these, we can fully emerge into our true purpose and full potential. He outlines the Worry Free Diet.

First, you must have your Not-so Ball Soup everyday.  When someone says, “There’s just not enough opportunity,” you say, “Not So!”

Second, you add a little cherry-Ohs. When someone approaches you and tells you the economy is going to crash, you say with a smile, “Oh?” (Not to be rude here, but to zero out the negativity.)

Third, you pile on the Grateful-fruit. Go on a hunt and look for all the things you can be grateful for, even the negative things.

His final suggestion is to take up the No-TV dinner, and instead surround yourself with like-minded people who are looking for what is trying to emerge in them as well. (As a TV lover I have a hard time with this one, but I do recognize the cost to our subconscious minds. I try to zero it out with inspirational programs like Beckwith’s.)

Doesn’t this sound like a happier way to be in the world then being a worry wart? That doesn’t sound pleasant at all. Warts are caused by a virus and they spread, just like worry. And they’re not pretty, just like worry. So go ahead. Vaccinate yourself against the worry wart disease with a Worry Free Diet and watch what emerges in your life. You won’t be disappointed.

Posted in anxiety, conscious living, diet, healthy living, Inspiration, positive attitude, power of words, SoulTransformation | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

A Whole New View

sunset

Awesome photo by Stephen Edelman

It’s that month where we think about resolutions and goals. Some people like to set them so they stay focused. It helps them feel like they’ve programmed an internal GPS to get them to their destination. Some people pride themselves on not setting goals or making resolutions for one reason or another. After all, statistics do show that only about 20% of people stay with those goals.

Most of my life I’ve been an avid goal setter. I’d divide my life into 7 categories Jack Canfield-style and make steps I knew were achievable, but that would stretch me out of my comfort zone. I’d spend time on typing out a document, transposing it to an index card, and carrying it around with me in my daytimer like a good friend, regularly checking to see if I was on track.

And this system served me well. It helped me obtain a Master’s Degree as a single parent under what many around me called “impossible” circumstances. It helped me teach my second graders all the required curriculum and enrich it in such a way they got much more. It’s helped me change professions a number of times, and become an internationally published author which is something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s helped me in parenting, in personal development, and in more scenarios than I can name.

That system worked while it worked, but last year I felt a new system wanting to be born. This new system was more of an intuitive  one. This new system actually required more of me than my old goal measuring index card did. I would meditate as close to daily as possible without being fanatical and learn to ALWAYS listen and trust my inner guidance. It would help me reevaluate the way I spent my time on a daily basis. What worked for me one day might not be working the next and by listening to the ear behind the ear I would hear that.

Dr. Wayne Dyer promotes the idea of a day by day philosophy. His concept is that at the end of each day you are a completely new person. Your interactions and experiences have made you such. That new person, then, must check in with that trusty voice inside to see if he wants to keep the path or forage a new one. Renew the destination on the GPS. Ask, “Is the direction I’m heading still exactly right for me at this moment?”

Now, this system is my favorite. It’s helped me push my creative boundaries in 2014. It let me know which forks in the stream (I’ve moved from cars to boats) we’re coming and which ones to take. It let me know who to say hello to and who to bid adieu as people got in and out of my boat.

I’ve come to know this past year more than ever that God shows up when we are loving ourselves, loving others, and loving life. Our best gift to the world is to create lives we love, have all kinds of fun, and be ever-present in each moment. In this way, we never miss a sunrise or a sunset.

Posted in conscious living, creativity, Goals, habits, healthy living, SoulTransformation, spiritual | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Different Paths to Celebration

My obsession with paths goes way back. When I was five, and my mom wanted to do something special for me, she’d say to herself, “I think I’ll take Teeters riding on the trails.” (My dad had nicknamed me Teeters because I teetered while I was learning to walk.) As mom tells the story, I didn’t like riding on the paved roads–just the dirt trails that meandered through the woods.

My husband can attest to my trail obsession. Every time we step foot in a forest, he hears, “Wait. I need a picture of this path.” I’ve even played with the idea of opening up a folder in my picture library just for paths.

You get the point. It runs deep. I think it shows there are so many beautiful, yet different, ways out there to travel to a place. Beyond that, when my husband and I walk the same trail, we notice very different things. For example, he’ll spot a log invaded by termites and I’ll notice a dew drop hanging off the tip of a leaf. We all have different take-aways, even when we walk the same path.

This changes, too, over time. What we noticed five years ago will be quite different as our consciousness expands (or contracts.) We get to choose which path we take. We also have paths we have wired into our traditions. We are the authors and creators of the life we live while we’re here on earth in every moment.

That brings me to the holidaze. Sometimes it feels like they take on a path of their own as we slip into deep unconscious oblivion. It’s a path that starts on a hamster wheel and keeps us running until we can’t run any more.

Whether it feels like it or not, this is a choice. We are the designers of how it’s going to flow. We can decide to see the beauty and appreciate everybody’s customs, especially those different than our own. For example, we celebrate Christ-makkah.

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I love the beauty of traditions all kinds of different people adopt. I think it’s what makes the world beautiful. If we let it, it’s what leads us down the path to understand the Light of all lights. That understanding will help us to shine and light up the world.

Enjoy each moment of your time during the season, which ever path you choose. May each step down that path be filled with light and love.

Posted in conscious living, friends, healthy living, holidays, Inspiration | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Creative You!

????????????????????????The right brain has long been credited with creativity. We are all born with this part working like crazy. This part knows how to play with inhibition. It imagines. It dreams. It enjoys creating for the sake of creating.

As we get into school, that often shifts. We are taught that our left brain is the one we need to be developing. We need to learn multiplication tables. We need to memorize dates of battles fought in wars and algorithms and scientific principles. All this leaves little time and value for the right brain to develop. Imagination and intuition become wooey ideas better left in the sandbox, at least according to western curriculum.

In adulthood, I often hear people say, “I’m not creative.” They equate creativity to painting a picture or sculpting a statue. They are afraid to play in the right brain playground because they have been rewarded for their left brain accomplishments. What if the right brain does not perform? They don’t trust it.

The fact is, though, we are all creative. We have been created by the ultimate Creator and the power of creation lies within each of us. The secret is identifying where your creative strengths lie. Some may find their creative power in cooking. Others in finance. Others in understanding children and helping them forge creative solutions to their problems. Creativity doesn’t always manifest in something you’d hang on a wall at an art show. Maybe it’s something you bring into daily living and share with those around you to make their lives better.

It’s important to spend some time intuiting what your creative strengths are and developing those. For example, one way I develop my creative streak is through different types of writing. But it’s also important to push yourself out of the safety zone where you know you can excel and into an area all new to you. For me, this virgin territory is painting and drawing. My horses look like elephants. (One of my second graders actually told me that when I was teaching.) That could have shut me down, but instead I looked at that as an invitation to develop that area of my brain. When I take paint classes, the people around me are amazing artists. If I compared myself to them, I could get discouraged. Instead I compliment myself for letting myself play in the areas of creativity I’m not familiar with and get my hands dirty. Literally.

creative2I’ve always felt like we were put here to live life fully and have fun. Maya Angelou said, “You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

Play. Have fun. Be creative. And watch your life and health blossom because of it.  What better way to spend 2015?

Posted in conscious living, creativity, Exercise, healthy living, Inspiration | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Listening, Mrs. Ginn and Other Reflections

listen2“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I’ve been tapping out Monday blogs consistently for the past two years. For awhile I was also blogging on other platforms on Wednesdays and Thursday, but that started to cut into my other writing time so it hit the cutting room floor.

The core reason I do this week after week is not for web position or so I’ll be discovered or any of those reasons you get if you sit in a marketing section at a writing conference. Instead, what drives me is I’ve always had a lot to say. When something piques my interest I can’t always find an audience at the ready who cares about the same thing. Enter the blah-blah-blog. I can say what I think and maybe it will resonate with somebody somewhere.

This having a lot to say thing sometimes gets me in trouble. Fifth grade in Mrs. Ginn’s class was one of those times. Mrs. Ginn was a larger than life (literally and figuratively) woman who made me sit right in front of where she lectured. As she would babble on about Mesopotamia and things that fifth graders need to know for some reason that is still not completely clear to me, her top lip would gather huge beads of sweat. Simultaneously, her bright red lipstick would stick to her yellow teeth. As she became more animated (and by animated I mean flustered) she would inadvertently spit on the front row of students as she spoke. I’m not even kidding.

The whole experience was wholly disconcerting. Gross, even. The way I dealt with that scene at that age was to turn around and talk to the person in back of me.  Admittedly not the best strategy, but in fifth grade, you work with what you’ve got. When it came time for report cards, I got the dreaded check mark in the “talks too much” box.

I’d get a warning from my mom. “JJ,” she’d say. “No more checks next quarter. You need to listen, not talk.”

The next quarter rolled around and report cards were handed out. (This was before Aeries and online reporting systems that are so convenient today.) I skipped over everything and went straight to the checks. Not one, but TWO! And next the comments: Jamie has a lot to say. She just needs to not say it while I’m talking.

Fifth grade went like that. Each quarter there were more checks and more warnings. Last quarter there were 4 in that box and I was grounded off TV for the whole summer. And I loved TV.

That summer I spent a lot of time thinking about what it meant to be a good listener. I listened to the grass. I listened to the frog’s as they started to croak at dusk. I listened to the wings of the bats as they skimmed the water of the pool in the evening. (When you live in the sticks, and you don’t have TV, you work with what you’ve got.) I learned the value of listening with the ear behind the ear, to the great universal melody that connects us all.

So last week, when nothing came to me to blog about, I decided it was time to listen. I listened to the rain drops hit the pine needles as we went to the forest to cut down our Christmas tree. I listened to the flame on my cool new WoodWick candle that crackles like a fireplace as it sends Cinnamon Chai into the air. And with the live people, I consciously practiced listening more instead of talking over and interrupting those around me. That one still needs lots of practice.

But the older I get, the more I value listening. I will master this before I go.listen3

 

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”― Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Posted in conscious living, friends, healthy living, holidays, Inspiration, spiritual, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 8 Comments

It’s All in Your Approach

turkey5

Thankful

Week before Thanksgiving,
I limp around real strange.
Huddle in the corner,
As though I have the mange.

All the other turkeys,
Just gobble, gobble on.
I’m silent, and I act
As if my gobbler’s gone.

Everyone is thankful
On Thanksgiving Day.
Friday it’s forgotten.
You all go on your way.

I know what thankful is
So listen when I say.
“It’s great to be a turkey,
After Thanksgiving Day.”

Unknown

or

Run, turkey, run!

turkey2Either way, make it a great day!

Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted in healthy living, holidays, humor, law of attraction, positive attitude | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Media Messages

cokeadI’ve been working on this book for young people on media literacy which is a big focus of the Common Core. (If you’ve been hiding in a Tibetan Cave, the Common Core is the latest national attempt at early education in the United States. It aims to create higher level thinkers and has come up with a protocol for that.)

Media literacy is replacing media protective theory: rather than just saying “don’t engage in any way” the goal is to teach our 21st century humans (and by default, their parents) how to navigate the very creative language that is media. Not in a media bashing kind of way, but rather in a “check out these super tricks to create effects you need to know about” kind of way.

My particular focus is on television. My friend and publicity consultant Jess Todfeld from New York  said an industry insider told him “the shows are just the things stuffed in around the commercials.” That makes you think, doesn’t it? Television is a business, pure and simple.

Well, maybe not so pure. Or simple. Personally, I’m a television lover. I love the way the hero’s journey made its way into livingrooms around the world and gives people a point of reference to share. I can often tell I’ll like somebody right away when they tell me the shows they like. But I’ve also worked with the media behind the scenes people in enough capacities to be skeptical.

To watch the news knowing it’s not the news. (Think “Nightcrawlers,” Jake Gyllenhaal’s Academy worthy performance as a stringer for KTLA news.) To watch the product placement in our favorite films and realize the reason viewers want to buy an Apple computer when the movie is over is because their subconscious was just hit with 23 Apple images in the course of two hours. (This is so obvious on repeated viewing versions, but hardly noticeable at all on an action-packed first run.)

I remember this fantastic assignment in Mr. Bonin’s freshman English class at UCLA. The year was 1982. Levi’s was doing these spreads with a group of friends all hanging out and laughing. The clear message was “If you wear Levi’s, you’ll have friends. Beautiful friends. Lots of beautiful friends.” But when you folded the spread and held it up to the light, the friends were all groping each other! The hidden message was, “If you wear Levi’s, you will have lots of sex with beautiful people. And you will be so happy.”

Conspiracy theory? I think not. I saw it with my own eyes. I never looked at visual images as passively after that, more out of curiosity than skepticism at first. But it took that discussion to set me down the path. Because of this trajectory, I’m a huge fan of The Core’s new approach to equipping our babies to decipher what they’re being fed. It’s so key that they (indeed, we)  learn to distinguish clear from hidden messages, and be able to vet healthy from unhealthy messages in both.

For example, in the coke advertisement above, what’s the clear message? The clear message is “Coke is your friend. It is, in fact, the friendliest (drink) friend on the entire earth. Drink it.” The hidden message is that “Coke makes you powerful and strong. When you drink coke, your hand is almost as big as the entire earth! And you will never be lonely when you drink Coke. In fact, you will be friendly, too, because now Coke is inside you and you will take on all its attributes. YOU are the friendliest, most powerful person on earth”….or something like that.

Nobody mentions the fact that police have been known to carry liters of coke in their trunks to clean the blood off the street after an accident. Or that it works nicely as a toilet cleaner to remove all the grime. Or that it dissolves meat, teeth, and a slue of other things.

Health or unhealthy media messages? Look closely and you decide.

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The LOVE Campaign

bracelets2I was sitting with a group of teens at an athletic event recently and noticed how quick they were to say mean things about themselves: “I’m so fat,” “I’m so ugly,” “I’m not good enough”–the list goes on. As adults, we do this, too. Sometimes it’s learned. Sometimes it’s years of low self-esteem piled in our subconscious minds. All the time it’s destructive, both to ourselves and those around us.

I couldn’t get that teen scene out of my head. Thoughts are powerful. They become things. They form our actions, our beliefs, our behaviors towards each other.

The next day it came to me in a moment that was so overpowering I expected to see lightning shoot down out of the bright day sky. What if each one of our kids could start today, right this minute, and shift their self-degradating thoughts to loving thoughts, first towards themselves and then towards other? In 20 years, we’d be looking at a whole new world. My first thought was to start this campaign with teens so that’s what I’ve done. (Admittedly, my husband and I were the first to snatch bracelets up when the UPS guy dropped them off. Why not? Can’t we all benefit from bathing our thought processes in love?)

Enter, The LOVE Campaign (TLC)

Let Old Views Evaporate

Here it is, plain and simple: by consistently watching your loving thoughts towards yourself grow, you will be more loving and have more loving thoughts toward others. With all that TLC, think of what we can do in the world. You know that’s what you’re here for, right?

Step 1—The Challenge

Put a LOVE bracelet on your right hand. As long as you send loving thoughts to yourself, you keep it there. Thirty days forms a habit and you want those love thoughts to be habitual, don’t you? Your goal, then, is to keep it there for 30 days. Any time you think or say anything negative about yourself, you’re going to need to move that band to your left hand, come up with 5 loving thoughts to wipe out the negative ones, then move it back and start counting again from 1.

Step 2-Next Level It

Once you’ve made the outstanding achievement of keeping that bracelet on the right for 30 days, start the same process over—with one slight change. This time, you’re going to think loving thoughts about others. Thirty days to form the habit and you’ve met the Next Level Challenge. (Once you’re giving yourself all that TLC, this shouldn’t be as hard as it may seem now. Many of our negative thoughts towards others come because we’re not feeling so terrific about ourselves.)

After that, you have a choice. You can keep your bracelet just in case you need a refresher. Or, you can choose to give it to a friend you think could benefit from the same process. You know—pay it forward.

NEXT Next Level

Think about how others may benefit from reading about your experiences. If you’re one of those go-getter types like me, you’ll want to keep track of this process. Write down your ideas as you go, either digitally on your cells or in a paper journal. Then, get those notes to me. I’m going to compile some of these with the intention of sharing with others how they can create love in their communities, too.
Now, go. LOVE boldly. Why? Because you—and your world—are both worth it!!

Contact info for writings:
Jamie Weil: PO Box 1925, Cottonwood, CA 96022 or jamieweilwrites@gmail.com.

Sponsored with love by Jamie’s Creative Endeavors, LLC.

Posted in body image, creativity, habits, health, healthy living, hope, Inspiration, mental health and children, mindful, parenting, subconscious | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments