Being Kinder

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-by Copper Wimmin

I’ve decided to be happy. I’ve decided to be glad

I’ve decided to be grateful for all I ever had

I’ve decided to let go of all this pain tonight

I’ve decided t let go of all these demons inside

 

I know…I am blessed

I know…all I ever wanted was this

I know…I don’t need more

I’ve got…what I came for

 

I’ve decided to be open for that little voice inside

Telling me I’m beautiful, it’s okay to be alive

I’ve decided to be kinder to myself when I am sad

I’ve decided to be grateful for all I ever had

Here is the Youtube musical version of this ABSOLUTELY gorgeous song. I’ll tell you how I learned about this song. I am a therapist and was counseling someone who had just recently been bedside, with 8 other women, while a longtime girlfriend layer on the bed dying from cancer. This is the song they sang to their dear, nearly departed friend. I ache thinking of it.

Practicing Positivity

I found an engaging, uplifting article in UTNE on positivity. Positive emotions can change our brains, says researcher Barbara Fredrickson. She broke it down into doable tasks that help increase positive experiences that in turn enhance overall life happiness. Read the whole article here if you want:

http://www.utne.com/mind-and-body/finding-happiness-cultivating-positive-emotions-psychology.aspx

Here’s an excerpt:

What are the specific benefits of positive emotions?

When people increase their daily diets of positive emotions, they find more meaning and purpose in life. They also find that they receive more social support—or perhaps they just notice it more, because they’re more attuned to the give-and-take between people. They report fewer aches and pains, headaches, and other physical symptoms. They show mindful awareness of the present moment and increased positive relations with others. They feel more effective at what they do. They’re better able to savor the good things in life and can see more possible solutions to problems. And they sleep better.

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How can we increase positivity?

One way is to be aware of the present moment, because most moments are positive. We miss many opportunities to experience positive emotions now by thinking too much about the past or worrying about the future, rather than being open to what is. 

Another way is to pay attention to human kindness—not only what others have done for you, which helps unlock feelings of gratitude, but also what you can do for other people, how you can make somebody’s day. We found that even just paying attention to when you are kind—not necessarily increasing how often you’re kind, but just paying attention to the times when you are—can make you more positive.

Another simple technique is going outside in good weather. One of my former students, Matt Keller, who’s now on the faculty at the University of Colorado at Boulder, found that people who spend even just 30 minutes outside when the weather is good show an improvement in their mood.

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There are more-involved ways to increase your positive emotions, such as to practice either mindfulness meditation or loving-kindness meditation. You can also rearrange your life around your strengths. Ask yourself: Am I really doing what I do best? Being employed in a job that uses your skills is a great source of enduring positive emotions.”

 

Here are 2 more that I would add:

Use your morning meditation to conjure warm emotions towards people and pets that you love–creates a way of opening those circuits daily!

 

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Learning to savor. Savoring a positive moment, reflecting on a hug you gave as you walk away, savoring the moments of laughter, savoring the taste of a chocolate cake, savoring a memory of a walk with a friend, etc. Throughout the day, after a sweet moment, close your eyes briefly and savor it.

For more on Positivity, and Fredrickson’s latest book called Love 2.0 go to here website:

http://www.positivityresonance.com

I just ordered her book Love 2.0 and look forward to more inspirations on connections and love!

 

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Retreat

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This piece was created over a couple of days, while I retreated to my summer getaway on Vashon Island. Its where I was born. This is the first year, since I had my son, that he did not come with me. I missed him so much–and all the rituals we usually share. Someday, when he’s not committing adolescence, and grown out of teenage hood, we’ll share our beach walks, our trips to the tea shop for reading & Majong, and our beach fires again.

This year, I truly did enjoy painting and breaking for beach walks. Eating minimally, journaling, reading Billy Collins’ poetry and laughing out loud with no one. Reading a whole biography of Annie Liebowitz.  Painting some more. Podcasts. Listening to the soft waves while going to sleep at night. Feeling the passage of time. So bittersweet.

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Who Said This?

“Something whispered,

something that wasn’t even a word.

It was more like a silence

that was understandable.

I was standing

at the edge of the pond.

Nothing living, what we call living,

was in sight.

And yet, the voice entered me,

my body-life,

with so much happiness.

And there was nothing there

but the water, the sky, the grass.”

by Mary Oliver

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Italy Itinerary

Florence.

“This was Florence, the flattering and suspect beauty this city, half fairy tale half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.” ~Thomas Mann

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My son is a rock climber. His hands are indiscernible from The David’s. Well, I think so anyway.

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Soaking it up
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From Florence, we travelled to San Gimnano for the day, but ended our travel at Frallarenza, our agritourismo farm. We stayed here in Orvieto for a perfect week.

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“In Italy, they add work and life onto food and wine.”~ R. Leach.  From our tourismo garden, served on pottery made by our host, Selena.

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The stunning Orvieto Cathedral

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The damp, dark, and extremely cool underground well. We walked all the way down for the dank views.

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Make a wish

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Our lovely, perfectly Italian cooking lessons with Selena and Francesco. Tiramisu with heavy cream first, so it can chill while we make several other pastas, sauces, and vegetables.

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Rolling and shaping the Gnocchi, together

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We had Gnocchi with a red sauce and also a pesto sauce. Mashed potatoes and flour (gf). Delightful, rubbery noodle balls.

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Stopping for a shadow photo, late in the day, along cobblestone alleys. This is my first experience in Europe, in Italy. I’ll never forget that every hillside town consists of 800 year old streets and buildings of stone. Quite profound, when you think of the kids growing up in this sort of heritage.

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Rome for a day. I’m overwhelmed by crowded cities. We planned a single night stay here. In 97 degree weather, we agreed to see the Colleseum, The Trevi Fountain (at night) and the Vatican. Inside the Vatican museum is this stellar spiral walkway. Better than the ancient art, as I grown tired of the endless Madonna and Child theme.

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Our final week in the Amalfi Coast. A bright Jesus at a small cathedral in Praiano.

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Truly remarkable stone houses built into the stoney mountains. Many, many stairs throughout Amalfi, laddering up and down from house to house.

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We hired a small boat to ferry us from Praiano over to the town of Amalfi. Home to Lemoncello, fine paper, tiny roads and breathtaking charm. 52, made a dream come true.

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Forget College: invent yourself

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Has anyone else noticed how much pressure and scrutiny is coming down on our teens? To design a profound life by age 18?  By senior year, you better have a great, big, status-oriented career goal to tell everyone about. And trust me, people are going to coming out of the woodwork asking.  Teens are no longer inheriting their family business or farm—they’re expected to invent their lives starting at about 17.  So much pressure.  Just 30 years ago, most senior high students weren’t asked, so where are you going to college? What are you going to do with your career? The obvious response these days, from about 90% of boys my son’s age is: “I don’t know. I sure like playing video games though.”

We were at the beach, ironically to get senior photos taken, and some guy in his 50’s wanders by and says “So where are you going?” Me, the photographer and my son stood in silence, surprised at this short-hand.  I found it annoying. His presumptuous, middle class, college-bound, flippancy. Its classism.

I liked my son’s steady response: “oh, I’m sticking around here.”

But the pressure. I’m stung by it every day. You see, my son is not going to college. He’s doing a gap year, or maybe many gap years. As far as any of us can tell, he doesn’t know what to do except go get a joe-job and start earning money. He wants a car and an apartment with friends. This is about as far as he can see. Okay, he has applied to several fire stations in the area, hoping to get sponsored for fire fighting training. But. He may not get chosen.

We decided as a family a ways back, that a degree for a degree’s sake isn’t worth the debt. Wait until you know what you want to study or specialize in and then commit –heart and bank. But, holy cow, the river floweth with parents and eager seniors all around us–heading off to college! And we’re standing on a rock in the river feeling the undertow, the pressure, the fear of NOT sending him off to college.

Meanwhile, in Italy, where we just visited for a couples weeks, Georgio is graduating with honors from his high school, and guess what? There’s NO college for him. There’s NO pressure for college. There’s NO jobs beyond labor jobs in Italy. Interesting huh? The country has no money, no strong economy, no big trade supplies. This was shocking to learn, and for about an hour I wished we were Italian and that the only expectation on my son was to head out to prune the olive grove.

Life is long, and our paths are non-linear, and we change and grow and suddenly know and act from that knowing. This idea calms me down, and helps me trust my son has his own process, his own life path, his own perfect unfolding, in perfect timing. Here’s a great quote by Anais Nin:

“We do not grow absolutely chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations”

Here’s a painting that starts as a self portrait and ends up wildly different than I originally planned. That’s my life in a nutshell too. There’s not one element of my life today that I imagined for myself when I was 18, 25, or 29. Only at age 30, did did I begin making a choices that show up in my life today at 52.

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“One of the most widespread superstitions is that every human has their own special, definite qualities: That a person is kind, cruel, wise, stupid, energetic, apathetic, etc. People are not like that… we are like rivers… every river narrows here, is more rapid there, here slower, there broader, now clear, now cold, now dull, now warm. It is the same with people. Every one of us carries the germs of every human quality, and sometimes one manifests itself, sometimes another, and the person often becomes unlike themselves, while still remaining the same person.”

~Leo Tolstoy

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In the end, I’m not sure who I was painting. It started out as a self portrait. But, I had to make changes, I had to respond to something inside of me while I was painting, that would help make the next dab of paint make sense. It was all in the moment. In the end, I can look back and scan for meaning. But, like life, I was just doing what was in front of me at the time.

“Do I contradict myself? I contain multitudes.”  ~Walt Whitman

 

The Sound of Yourself~ Graduation

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Well the time has come. My son has finished high school. He has a diploma. He graduated. We held a graduation party and invited friends from all sorts of previous school backgrounds. Its a rite of passage for our son and us, and for everyone. For me, it marks another shift in our relationship to him, and his growing independence toward being his own person. I feel a mixture of melancholy, relief, and pride.

In the end, there’s a big difference between school and learning, and we were creative and daring about both. Thank you to the Montessori and Waldorf communities, homeschool organization, and Running start/Whatcom community college programs.

Thank you to the teachers–inside and outside of school–who built a relationship with him, reaching him and teaching him the most.

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Here is a quote that deeply resonates with me and has been a guiding principle these past few years, as we strove and struggled to make sense of what a true education would be for him:

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Kitchen Pharmacy: eating for brain power!

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A letter to friends, family and community:

I recently spent a day at a medicinal foods conference, and learned tons about current research on foods and amino acids and supplements that can deeply heal cells, tissues, blood, and the overall biome we walk around in. I got tons of information on medicinal foods targeting:

brain health, memory & cognition
inflammation
autoimmune disease
chronic pain
sleep disorders
fasting for health/keto diet

Because of my private practice, I have to take CEU’s annually for my license. I decided to help myself and my clients in the area of mood/brain/cognitive functioning. Everyone at the conference was devouring the research on brain health. I streamlined the information and made a list of the medicinals I am now taking, and offer to my clients. I thought I’d share it with you, even though I am not a doctor and cannot officially prescribe.

Here is the website and a few medicinals I am now taking for increased mental/brain functioning. ((Note: I also take VSL3 probiotic, Vitamin D, Multi-B vitamin for overall health:-))

First off, the place I shop online:

Vitacost is the online store I’ve used for years– for everything from food, probiotics, supplements, herbs, bath salts, dog food, and tons of organics (I use the Bham food coop for all fresh organic meat/produce!):

http://www.vitacost.com

And here is the link to the best Fish Oil for the price (nice orange flavor, highest levels EPA/DHA overall)

http://www.vitacost.com/vitacost-liquid-omega-3-purified-fish-oil-epa-dha

“True Focus” is a compound you may want to try in the mornings (increases neurotransmitter activity, increasing mood, clarity, memory and focus–through amino acids and other medicinal foods. Tyrosine/phenylalanine, etc):

http://www.vitacost.com/now-true-focus

I also take caprylic acid, which is a derivative of coconut oil, only much, much more powerful for brain octane. “Bulletproof coffee” has become a popular morning tonic for turning on your brain and focus—full of fats that saturate your brain and fires up your metabolism (it kills appetite, so force yourself to eat a few carbs/protein for genuine energy):

coffee
2 TB grassfed butter (kerrygold at Trader Joes)
2 TB coconut oil or MCT oil ( or caprylic acid in capsules)
5 drops stevia
cinnamon
blend in a blender or Vitamix

Green Tea Extract. Take this capsule in the morning, as green tea is stimulating. A powerful antioxidant, catechins/polyphenols are excellent for staving off cardio disease, protecting neural health, and reducing free radicals that can turn cancerous:

http://www.vitacost.com/vitacost-green-tea-extract-standardized

Spirulina and/or Chlorophyll are both essential green foods. They are what fish eat to produce all those Omega 3’s we then like to ingest. Try combining fish oil with spirulina for a huge boost in mental functioning. Both of these have been researched to show they protect your brain from dementia/alzheimers, improve mental functioning, protect against cardiovascular disease, and detox your overall biome–much like they do in the Ocean.🙂

http://www.vitacost.com/vitacost-spirulina-natural-algae

Note: you’ll want to use any of these supplements for 60 before deciding if they work. Everyone’s body/brain are unique. Natural food remedies are slower and more gentle to the system, but also provide actual, genuine healing to the cells, tissues, and bloodstream through the body and brain!
in health, love,

LaurelH

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The New Blade

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I keep finding poems that make me cry.  I cry so much more than I used to.  For years, I was too busy and distracted to notice the exquisite pain of things. But my son is getting ready to fly from the nest, and I cry randomly and often. I already miss him. Here is a poem that brought more tears–and some relief as I remember its happening everywhere. Its happened for ages, and in every culture.

The New Blade, by Anzai Hitoshi

My son is using a new razor

with clumsy hands.

Grooming himself as a grownup for the first time,

he spreads his elbows wide, as in a ritual,

very fastidiously, not looking sideways.

From below his temple a smear of blood

as big as a bird’s tongue keeps flowing,

no matter how often he wipes it off,

and he looks a little afraid.

What is hurt in him, I wonder.

His naked back is moistened, shining bright

like a tree trunk with its bark peeled off.

Although he doesn’t seem to hear them,

birds are singing loud in unison

around the young tree trunks.

He doesn’t seem to see it,

but the sea is rolling in the mirror.”

Here is a painting that went through lots of transformation, sort of like me lately.

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Happy Spring everybody!

Your Art, Your Creativity, Makes a Difference

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Thoughts on creativity and art:

When you think about it, Intelligence—the ability in a new situation to create a new response—is creativity. We’re in a new moment. We pull from what we know—our experience and perspective—and come up with an entirely new, fresh response. Each person’s particular mind is extraordinary and unique. We get hurt when we’re young, and that effects intelligence & creativity. But still. Underneath the layers of boloney, we are all creative.

Art as a tool for Change

I often feel guilty that if I’m not paying attention to the collapsing society, that I’m not doing enough.

A lot of things in society are irrational, and I’m just busy warding off my own misery.  (Okay, I’m having a lot more fun than that, but you get my meaning). I swing from guilt –to distracting myself, basically.

It seems unfair to be openly happy when I see so much distress and struggle around me.

But here’s an idea: Reality doesn’t change because of feelings of struggle. Reality is constant, reliable, unconditional. Joy, beauty, intelligence, connection, are operating even if we can’t tell that they are.

How can we notice this more often? Discharging bad feelings and meditating and being creative.  How can I reflect that in my work? (with clients, in my relationships, in my day to day conversations, in my artwork?)

Having a good, meaningful life is helpful and hopeful for everybody. Otherwise, how can we support other people? By feeling bad, miserable, and guilty? I don’t think so.

Here’s a quote from RC on Artist’s Liberation:  “Art has played a significant role in history. It organizes and connects. It reminds us of who we are, individually and collectively.

Art-making is essential to having a good and complete life. When we make art, we are not colluding with or ignoring the problems of society. Art is another tool with which to organize, reach people, and be present.”

My online friend and amazing landscape painter, Lars Stenberg, once said to his university students (I’m paraphrasing like mad): “Don’t get self conscious about your art work, don’t get caught up in its meaning, its contribution to society. You don’t have to worry about that. You just get to be yourself and let your artistry naturally reflect your own human experience….that’s enough.”

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I’d add, if you can even find your voice, or even make time for art, or even appreciate other’s art, or even think creatively once and a while, well, you’re making a difference. We can create change together.

This piece was painted from a photo of myself. A selfie:

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Here’s a link to some fantastic podcasting:

Brainpickings

 

A poem by David Whyte. On topic.

Loaves and Fishes

This is not
the age of information.

This is not
the age of information.

Forget the news,
and the radio,
and the blurred screen.

This is the time
of loaves
and fishes.

People are hungry
and one good word is bread
for a thousand.

— David Whyte

 

So what would that “good word” be?

I am listening

You are good

I care about you

You make a difference to me