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15 Oct

13 Romance Ideas to Warm Up the Fall Season

1. Join In On Football Season

For many men, “Fall” is just another name for “Football season.” Since you can’t beat ’em, you might as well join ’em! Get tickets to a local game, pack a tailgate picnic and head out to the stadium. Be sure to bring a warm blanket for the two of you to snuggle under, and maybe a thermos-full of hot chocolate laced with coffee liqueur for half-time.

2. Take Advantage Of Pumpkin Season

Jack-o-lanterns aren’t just for kids — this Halloween, pick up a couple of extra pumpkins and spend the evening carving them up together! Maybe you want to work together to create an amazing masterpiece, or maybe you want to work solo to design special “his and hers” messages for one another. Some ideas: a big set of lips and some false eyelashes on a girl pumpkin for him — an “I love you” message that lights up when the candle is inside for her!

3. Play High Stakes Board Games

Take a traditional board game and make up your own rules. Yahtzee can become “Strip Yahtzee,” by simply adding that for every three of a kind you roll, your partner loses a piece of clothing. For every four of a kind you roll, you get a “wish”: a kiss, a foot massage, etc. And for every Yahtzee, set the timer for 5 minutes (and only 5 minutes!) of “high scorer dominance.” You can do something similar with Scrabble – earning extra points for sexy words, or Monopoly – paying for properties with “favors” rather than cash.

4. Share Firelight

There’s nothing more inviting than the glow of a fireplace on a crisp Fall evening. Spread a blanket out in front of the fire, toss around a few fluffy pillows, and serve up some warm apple cider with cinnamon sticks. Relax and enjoy each other’s company. Soon you’ll be toasting more than your tootsies!

5. Dance In The Dark

Set up an impromptu dance floor in your bedroom. Light some candles, turn on the Harry Connick Jr. CD and hold each other close. Dance the old-fashioned way, cheek-to-cheek, and whisper sweet nothings in his ear. Let the music move you, and melt into each others arms.

6. Want To Make It interesting?

When the weather’s crummy and he wants to spend the day watching sports on TV, make it interesting for both of you! Place bets on how many car commercials are shown in the next station break, which team’s cheerleaders get on camera next, how long it takes five minutes to really play. Bet kisses, massages, sweet treats, etc.

7. Puzzle Him

This takes a little forethought – get a jigsaw puzzle and put it together on a piece of cardboard. Put another piece of cardboard on top of it and flip it over. Now write a message to your significant other, or make it an invitation! Be creative, even naughty! Then flip it back over and pull the pieces apart. Keep one piece hidden in your bra. That night, ask him to help you with the puzzle. If you have a glass top table, do the puzzle directly on the table. Once the puzzle is all assembled, have him look for the missing piece under the table. When he can’t find it, crawl under the table to help, and show him your message. It won’t take long for him to find that missing puzzle piece now!

8. Create Your Own Starry Nights

Get a pack of glow-in-the-dark stars to stick on the ceiling over your bed. Have them spell out a love note to your honey. When the lights go out, you can lie under the stars and cuddle.

9. Wash Your Cares Away

How about a soothing bath for two? Make bath sachets by wrapping cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange peel in pieces of fabric and tying with a ribbon. Drop into a hot bath, add a few capfuls of almond oil. Indulge!

10. Tea For Two

Take a little time-out with an afternoon tea party. De-stress over chamomile and banana bread, and take turns with the shoulder rubs.

11. Recipe For Romance

Cool Autumn breezes call for simmering stews. Spend time in the kitchen together chopping up herbs and veggies and create your own cold-weather feast! Serve with corn bread and your favorite wine.

12. Bicycle-Built-For-Two

Enjoy the last few sunny weekends by renting a bicycle built for two and cruising the neighborhood!

13. Story Time Together

Grimm’s Fairy Tales take on a whole new meaning when read aloud by the one you love. Curl up on the couch and revisit some of your favorites, and love happily ever after.
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02 Oct

Health Care Reform And Mental Health Services

Years ago, when my son was diagnosed with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD), my life changed. I went from being a mother to also taking on the additional roles of advocate and mediator. In order to help my son get the help he needed and the services he was entitled to in school, I had to learn everything I could about the educational system, the healthcare system, and the law. It is a challenge, yet it is essential in order to work with teachers, administrators, doctors, and therapists as part of a team. I learned a lot, thanks in large part to an organization called CHADD, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders. This is a national, non-profit organization with local, volunteer-run chapters. Our local chapter held monthly meetings, which allowed parents to keep up with the various issues and changes. Most importantly, the meetings provided a forum for parents to network with each other and share experiences and resources.

We got over all the hurdles, and managed to get through the system despite the complexities. My son is in college now, and he has the tools to advocate for himself. But there are new kids coming up, and new parents who are starting from scratch to figure all of this out. Luckily, CHADD is still on it, providing us with the ongoing information we need to help our kids.

Following is an e-mail I received from CHADD regarding the current Healthcare Reform Legislation. I am happy to share it with you, and hoping that it will encourage all of us to look at the many children and families who will benefit from healthcare reform. To those of us working so diligently to take care of our children, this is most welcome, and long overdue.

“House of Representatives Passes
Comprehensive Healthcare Reform Legislation

Many Provisions Will Benefit
Children and Adults with AD/HD and Related Disorders

On Saturday, November 7, 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a comprehensive healthcare reform bill, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (HR 3962) by a vote of 220-215. It is expected that the full Senate will debate and vote on its version of the bill in the coming weeks, which will then be followed by the House and Senate having its leaders meet in a conference to reconcile differences and produce a final piece of legislation that can be sent to the President.

CHADD, through its membership in the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, Campaign for Mental Health Reform, and the Mental Health Liaison Group has sent letters to members of Congress in support of the bill. CHADD’s views on and support for healthcare reform legislation can be viewed on the Healthcare Reform 2009 webpage and CHADD’s Leadership Blog. CHADD has no position on many of the provisions contained in the legislation. The three primary disability coalitions CHADD participates in, believe there are significant key provisions warranting support of the legislation.

A few key provisions in the final House bill that will benefit children and adults with AD/HD and related disorders include:

* Requiring most Americans to obtain health insurance, and mandating that most employers provide insurance to their employees, but also providing substantial federal subsidies to make coverage as affordable as possible;
* Providing coverage of critical services for people with disabilities in the new Health Insurance Exchange’s essential benefits package including behavioral health treatment, and mental health and substance abuse services in compliance with the Wellstone-Domenici parity law, rehabilitation and habilitation services, equipment and supplies for children under 21 years of age;
* Inclusion of “disability” as a category for purposes of health disparities;
* Inclusion of the Community Living Assistance Services and Supports (CLASS) Act, a new national long term services insurance program to help adults with severe functional impairments to remain independent, employed, and a part of their communities; and
* Not allowing individual or group health insurance policies to establish lifetime or annual limits on the dollar value of benefits and the elimination of discrimination based on health status or a pre-existing condition.

CHADD continues to actively monitor developments in healthcare reform. Updated information on the legislation, CHADD’s 13 principles for healthcare reform, children’s mental health coalition’s five principles for healthcare reform and CHADD’s work with other partner coalitions can be viewed on CHADD’s website: http://www.chadd.org

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29 Sep

“WHICH GOD IS WHICH?”

“God has no religion.”

         ~Mahatma Gandhi

When most people think of God, they think of religion. But really, can God have a religion? Did God create religion? No…man did.

There are over 4,000 religions in the world today, according to Adherents an independent, non-religiously affiliated organization that monitors the number and size of the world’s religions. Adherents divides religions into churches, denominations, congregations, religious bodies, faith groups, tribes, cultures and movements.

Nearly 75 percent of the world’s population practices one of the five most influential religions of the world: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.

If non-religious people were classified as a group, they would be the world’s third largest group.

It’s human nature to believe that a chosen religion is superior because it’s, well, chosen. But lets think about who’s doing the choosing.

Most of us are born into a religion through a familial lineage. Some stay with the beliefs they are taught growing up and others either convert to another religion or drop out all together.

But why do we have religions in the first place? There are a lot of thoughts on that subject. Some feel that religion is a way to control large groups of people; others feel religion helps shape character and teaches morality. And then there are those that see religion as a path to God, Heaven, Eternal life etc.

If you study the early writings and philosophies of all religions, you find common themes. They all acknowledge that there is a creative, divine force of some sort. They all seem to have the goal of getting back to that divine place with The Divine Creator.

There’s a common rule across the board:

“All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye so to them; for this is the law and the prophets” – CHRISTIANITY

 

 

 

 

 

“This is the sum of duty; do naught unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” HINDUISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Do not do to others what you would not like yourself. Then there will be no resentment against you, either in the family or in the state.”  CONFUCIANISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful.” BUDDHISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.” ISLAM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow man. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary.” JUDAISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Regard your neighbor’s gain as your gain and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.” TAOISM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“That nature alone is good which refrains from doing to another whatsoever is not good for itself.” ZOROASTRIANISM

 

 

 

 

 

I’m a religious person. I know that the path I have chosen to follow is sacred for me. It teaches and inspires me. It also tells me that I may not try to convert others away from their paths and on to mine. I must honor the walk and the dreams and the aspirations of my fellow brothers and sisters.

There is as much brilliance and vibrancy in religious traditions worldwide as there is in world music, art and literature. It’s fascinating to learn what inspires greatness in others.

So if you believe that your religion makes you a better person and I believe that my religion makes me a better person, why would either of us want to change the other?

 

 

 

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28 Sep

“TO THE RESCUE AGAIN, COMES A HUMAN’S BEST FRIEND”

“The poor dog, in life the firmest friend.

The first to welcome, foremost to defend.”

                                      ~Lord Byron 

Its remarkable how many ways can our canine friends serve us. Dogs are so adaptable and want so much to please. They guard our homes and our children. They protect and defend with law enforcement and soldiers around the world.

Dogs love us, cuddle us and give needed emotional support when times are really tough and they seem to know what we need and when we need it.

We take them into hospitals and old folk’s home to bring joy and healing to those that are trapped in pain, loss and suffering.

I read a story of a little dog who was hiking with her human Dad when Dad lost his footing and tumbled down an embankment and landed face down in a stream of water. He was an epileptic to begin with and his sweet little dog was trained to know when a seizure was coming. What she wasn’t trained for was how to save him from drowning. She wasn’t “trained” but she knew.

This blessed furry angel ran down the embankment and placed her head under the water, lifting her human Dad’s head up so that he could breathe. He was unconscious. She stayed like that until nearby hikers found them and came to help.

The little dog sustained brain damage as a result of having her head under water for so long, but she saved her beloved human. He in turn loved and provided for her until her passing.

Dogs are intuitive creatures. They’ve spent hundreds of year with us, silently watching, knowing and waiting patiently for our attention. They cannot speak our language but somehow they adapt to what we need. Whatever we try to teach them, they try to learn.

I adore my dogs, past and present, as I’m sure you do.

 

 

But now there is another way in which our best buddies are serving the planet and us. Dogs are now being used to sniff out endangered species like jaguars in the Amazon or the Black Bears of China. Researchers can then track and save them.

Fido to the rescue…AGAIN!

There is a UK based organization called Working Dogs For Conservation (WDFC).

Their website says, “We train the world’s best conservation detection dogs & put them to work protecting wildlife and wild places. We do it to save the world. They do it for the love of a ball.”

I say they do it for the love they have for us.

Working Dogs For Conservation save wildlife by first saving a dog.

For example: Wicket. They found Wicket in a shelter. The shelter said she was crazy and they didn’t want her. WDFC said, “She’s just the right kind of crazy for us.” Wicket is now considered one of the world’s finest conservation detection dogs.

Bless them and bless Wicket.

WDFC is taking dogs out of shelters and giving them purpose and lots of love.

A dog can detect scents in parts per trillion and walk over virtually any terrain. No need for batteries or electricity and they give immediate results. No waiting for instrument readings or lab testing to come back. And they do it with a smile and wag.

These peppy pooches helped map the movements of the cougar, wolf and bear in Montana. No drugging, trapping or radio tagging. There was nothing invasive in there movements. Their findings were later used to protect a critical habitat corridor and the wildlife was completely undisturbed in the process.

Projects that WDFC presently have in place are:

Ecological Monitoring and Habitat Mapping

Poaching and Trafficking Prevention

Aquatic Species Detection

Invasive Species Detection and Eradication

Disease and Contamination Detection                                                                                               

This is a very impressive organization. The team of highly educated experts obviously thinks way outside the box. They reach far, their touch is deep and the result is a total win/win.

CHECK THEM OUT.

https://wd4c.org

carolynstonecloud.com

 
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27 Sep

“DEER: SACRED AND PURE”

“He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to stand on the heights.”

~Psalms 18:33

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many religious and philosophical traditions honor innocence and virtue of the deer.

The antlers are a feature that has made the deer a specimen of spiritual superiority. Like a fine crown the antlers bring the deer closer to the sky making it sacred. Because the antlers fall of and grow back deer is considered a great symbol of regeneration.

 

 

CHRISTIAN TRADITION: For Christians the deer is a symbol of piety, devotion and God taking care of his children. The legend of Saint Eustace tells of the Roman general who was out hunting and came across an enormous and beautiful deer.  When he looked into the eyes of the magnificent creature, the light of Christ shone bright and the voice of God spoke to him through them. He gave up hunting and became a devoted Christian, honoring all of God’s creation.

 

 

 

 

 

BUDDHIST TRADITION: Buddhists associate the deer with happiness, peace, harmony and longevity. In one of his former lives the Buddha was a golden deer that spoke to men. Accordingly deer by nature are timid and serene creatures and the presence represents the purity of a kingdom and people without fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CELTIC TRADITION: The Celts have two aspects for deer, the female…a red deer. She symbolizes femininity, gentleness and tremendous grace. It is said that the deer would often tune into women to avoid being hunter and killed.

Then there is Damh, the masculine element of deer. Damh represents independence, pride and purification. The stag king of the forest and the protector of all other creatures.

 

,osalms

 

 

 

 

WIXARITARIE TRADTION:These inhabitants of central Mexico also recognize the great benefit of deer energies. The deer is the first Shaman who eventually becomes the interlocutor between shamans and other gods. Deer is very closely linked to two plants, its heart is a peyote and corn which is represented by the antlers. The deer is so important to the Wixaritarie that its reproductive cycle is connected to their ritual calendar.

 

 

 

   NATIVE AMERICAN TRADITION:

Native Americans see the deer as a messenger. Deer is an animal of power and a totem that represents sensitivity, intuition, grace and gentleness.

The Cherokees have a legendary story that tells how deer obtained its antlers by winning a race with a rabbit. All the animals of the forest wanted to know which of the two was the fastest. The rabbit cheated before the race so through honor, grace and perseverance the deer won its antlers.

All the animals of the forest wanted to know which of the two was the fastest. The rabbit cheated before the race so through honor, grace and perseverance the deer won its antlers.

 

The deer inspires all who encounter it. We all marvel at the magnificent grace and breathtaking beauty of the deer. Its agility is awe-inspiring. It seems to move with such quiet poise.

When we begin to get the symbols in life as it churns around us, we can invoke those waves of energy to benefit us and create magic in our own lives. These are the tools we can use for our inner development. They are the spiritual hammer and nails that can build on the inside what we want to see and have on the outside.

If you are so inclined, take a few minutes to look into the eyes of the deer. Feel the power in the gentle, giving and sacred being of this most stunning creature.

 

 

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26 Sep

“ROYALTY YOU CAN HOLD”

“There is nothing left of me.

I am like a ruby held up to the sunrise.

Is it still a stone, or a world made of redness?

It has no resistance to sunlight.

The ruby and the sunrise are one.”

                                                                                                                     ~Rumi

 

CHARACTERISTICS: A ruby is a pink to blood-red colored precious gemstone. It is a variety of the mineral corundum (aluminum oxide). It is one the so-called cardinal gems along with amethyst, sapphire, diamond and emerald. The color of the ruby is due to the element chromium.

The quality of the ruby is determined by it’s color, clarity, cut and carat weight. The brightest and most desirable shade of red is called blood-red or pigeon blood.

Ruby is known for its rarity, monetary value and hardness (second only to diamond). The most valuable Ruby is called the Sunrise Ruby, which is named after a poem written by Sufi poet, Rumi.

NATURAL OCCURANCE: For centuries the Mogok Valley in Myanmar was the world’s main source of rubies. In more recent years only a few good rubies have been found there.  In the 1990’s other areas of Myanmar have emerged to  become reliable sources of fine rubies.

Historically rubies have also been mined in Cambodia, Thailand, India, Japan, Scotland, Australia, Brazil Colombia, Namibia and Afganistan.  After WWII, ruby deposits were found in Madagascar, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Vietnam, Nepal, and Tanzania.

HISTORICAL USES: Ruby has always been a talisman of protection, prosperity and passion. Its rich color and glow suggest an inextinguishable flame within the stone. Legends claim that it would shine through even the thickest cloth. Ancients believed it could ward off pestilence, plague and warn the wearer of impending danger. It was also used to banished sadness and foolish thoughts.

MODERN USES: Today many healers and energy enthusiasts use Ruby to stimulate the Base (first) Chakra center. It increases vitality and energy, stimulating blood flow, stirring the heart and increasing concentration and motivation.

Ruby is still thought to be a bringer of prosperity and we see the wearer of such a magnificent stone as having wealth.

SPIRITUAL USES: Our environment is so very rich in elements and energies that can serve us if we allow it. There are so many fine symbols that can help focus the mind and ease tension and upset. Even visualizing a symbol or element can bring in the energy and balance we may need at any point in time.

 

If you are feeling lethargic, physically or mentally, hold a Ruby (raw or polished) in front of you. Focus on the rich color and steady power within. See how the light generates and glows within the stone. Now place the ruby in your base chakra.

 

 

 

 

 

Allow the royal red to spin clockwise in the Chakra, spinning and growing until it becomes all that is around you. Sit in the powerful force and vibrant waves of energy. You will be strengthened in this place.

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24 Sep

Watching The World’s Water Quality And Quantity

Water is something that many of us take for granted. It is a necessity, and it is readily available to us. We turn on the faucet and there it is, clean, safe, drinkable. We shower in it, water our gardens with it, and wash our clothes with it. But for many people around the world, clean water is a luxury they can only dream about.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 884 million people are without adequate drinking water, and 2.5 billion people are without adequate water for sanitation. Waterborne diseases are the leading cause of death for children under age five. Every 15 seconds, a child dies because of a lack of clean water and sanitation. Half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from waterborne diseases. The World Bank says that 88 percent of all diseases are caused by unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene.

How did we get in this situation? The world’s population tripled in the 20th century, and the use of renewable water resources has grown six-fold. The population is expected to increase another 40-50% in the next fifty years, and this will have an inevitable impact on the environment. Water resources are stressed. There is less water available for agriculture as well, which means that our food supply is threatened, which contributes to the hunger crisis. And the water crisis and the climate crisis are closely related, one affects the other.

Fortunately, there are some amazing organizations doing something about this. Water.org, co-founded by Matt Damon and Gary White, focuses on water and sanitation. One way they are helping is providing loans to individuals and families so that they can use the money to connect their homes to a water source. When people don’t have to spend their time walking long distances for clean water, they have more time to work and earn money for their families. And the children are more likely to go to school, which means they’ll be able to have a better future. The microfinancing loans are paid back very quickly. Water.org has another program in place where a $25 donation will give one person clean water for life. For a $100 donation you can help an entire family. The money goes towards community organizing, hygiene education, geological surveys, project costs, and maintenance.

Water.org also has several amazing downloadable lesson plans for schools and teachers to coincide with World Water Day, an annual event March 22. The site also lists several ways that kids can get involved in helping to find solutions to the water problem.

Guy Laliberte, the co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, has created a wonderful video to explain the water crisis, and what we can do to help. It’s definitely worth a visit to his website onedrop.org and it’s free.

I live in Southern California and we’re currently experiencing a drought. Of course this is nothing compared to what is going on in Africa and Asia, but knowing what we do about the importance of water to our own survival, it is difficult to fathom how we could still be building and maintaining so many wasteful private swimming pools, golf courses, and elaborate decorative fountains. Excess is out, people! Downsize, conserve, simplify. We need to stop thinking like consumers and start thinking like citizens. We need to watch out for each other, and future generations. There are lots of things we can do, and most of them we know about already, we just have to be mindful and take action. When my washing machine conked out after years of wear, I purchased a front-loading washer that uses 14 gallons of water per load, compared with my older top-loading washer that used 40 gallons of water per load. That adds up to a big difference in water savings over the life of this one appliance. When we moved into our home four years ago we replaced all the original 1970’s era toilets with new ones that use a lot less water. If you still have an old toilet and can’t replace it just yet, you can install devices that reduce the amount of water that is used. Here are some other things we all can do to help conserve water and protect the quality of the water we do have:

  • Rather than flushing unused or expired medications down the drain and into the public water system, return them to the pharmacy to be disposed of properly.
  • Use both sides of a sheet of paper. Save a tree and you also save water.
  • Use environmentally-friendly hygiene and cleaning products. Think about the chemicals that are going down the drain and into the water system.
  • Carry your own reusable water container rather than buying bottled water.
  • Eat at least one vegetarian meal a week. For the most impact, consider going vegetarian. If everyone in the U.S. are vegetarian just one day, we would save 100 billion gallons of water.
  • Take shorter showers, and install low-flow showerheads. Every minute you shorten your shower by saves about 5 gallons of water.
  • Turn off the water while shaving, brushing teeth, or washing your face.
  • Make sure that your home is leak-free. Read your water meter before and after a two-hour period when no water is being used. It the meter does not read exactly the same, there is a leak somewhere.
  • Operate the dishwasher and washing machine only when they are fully loaded.
  • Compost instead of using the kitchen sink disposal when you can.
  • Insulate water pipes. You’ll get hot water faster and also avoid wasting water while it heats up.
  • Plant smart. Xeriscape landscaping is a great way to design, install and maintain your plants and irrigation system so that you save time, money and water
  • Water your lawn only during the early morning hours when the temperatures and wind speed are the lowest to prevent water loss from evaporation.
  • Sweep, don’t hose down walkways and driveways.
  • Raise the lawn mower blad to at least three inches. A lawn cut higher encourages grass roots to grow deeper, shades the root system and holds soil moisture more efficiently.
  • Mulch to retain moisture and also control weeds that compete with plants for water.
  • To wash your car, use a commercial car wash that recycles water.
  • Spread the word about the world water situation, and set an example for your friends and family.
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24 Sep

Change Your Life, Be A Mentor!

January is National Mentoring Month. Being a mentor can mean different things to different people. When I was growing up, my parents were divorced and my mother worked full time. My dad moved away, and my mom was stressed out and tired when she was home. Luckily we had Diana. Diana was our real estate agent when we had to sell the family home and move. She and my mother became friends, and Diana ended up moving in with us. It was a blessing in many ways. It helped my mother pay the bills, gave her someone to talk to, and it gave my sister and brother and me an additional adult in our lives.

At the time we thought of Diana as our friend. She introduced us to tacos, and hot fudge sundaes. She stayed up with us until midnight on New Year’s Eve. She made sure that our birthdays were celebrated in a grand fashion. Even after Diana moved out into her own place, she was always there for us, just a phone call away. We could talk to Diana about anything, and know that she never judged us. One of my favorite memories is when she took my sister and me to the beach and we made Clam Chowder from scratch and went bike riding. Diana helped us feel normal, and brought light and joy to our lives when we desperately needed it.

Diana has always been a member of our family, kind of like the hip Aunt you always look forward to visit. And now that I’m involved with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, I can see that Diana was also our mentor.

It is evident how much having a mentor can mean to a child, no matter what circumstances that child is in. All it takes is one adult to show support, encouragement, or concern to absolutely affect a positive change in how that child views himself and the world. I knew this going into the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. What I didn’t know, and soon learned, was how much the experience would change me.

I’m a parent, so I know what it means to love a child. I know what it means to want the best for this person, to put his needs before your own, and to make this person your priority without hesitation. I have a child with special needs, so I know about the obstacles, and the heartache. I thought I was fully prepared and well equipped to handle all of the emotions and challenges that come with mentoring a child. But every day I learn something new. And every day my heart is opened more, and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to expand my awareness because this girl is in my life.

What makes Big Brothers Big Sisters unique is that it is a one-on-one mentoring program. There are local chapters all over the country, so that many different geographical areas are served. When an adult volunteers to be a mentor, there is an interview, and a background screening process. Then the “match” part can begin. The adults, the “Bigs,” and the children, the “Littles,” fill out a questionnaire that reflects their interests, needs, and wants in a mentor relationship. From there a match specialist pairs up two that are compatible, and a match meeting is set. At the match meeting, the two meet for the first time, and get to know each other. The parent, foster parent, or guardian also gets to participate, and if all parties are agreed, the match is made.

The minimum time requirement is four hours a week. This can be accomplished in one visit or several visits, depending on how the match wants to work it. There is a lot of flexibility to the program. Low cost or no cost activities are encouraged. Time together is what is emphasized, as that is what the kids need more than anything. Some adults express that they worry that they don’t have enough to give, that they will have a hard time finding interesting things to do each visit to keep the child interested. But once they spend a few weeks just hanging out, they discover the beauty and simplicity of the relationship itself, and know that time together is the most valuable gift there is.

Adults who enter the program are required to commit one year to it. It takes a few weeks, or even months, for the relationship to really gel. Many times the kids have trouble trusting, and it takes time for them to bond to a new person in their life. The year goes by quickly, and if at the end of the year, for any reason, the adult needs to dissolve the match, they can. But most matches last much longer, even a lifetime. Children ages six through eighteen can be matched with a mentor, and they can stay in the program until they are twenty-one years old.

My Little Sister is sixteen years old now. I’ve known her for almost a year. I can’t imagine my life without her. We have a lot of fun together, going to plays and movies, cooking, and discovering different parts of the city. But the best times are when we just hang out and talk.

People come into our lives for a reason. We learn more from our relationships than we do from anything else. Diana came into my life when I was a child, and she’s still an important part of my life today. She’s family to me, and I love her. And now my Little Sister is an important part of my life, too, and I love her. I hope that I am helping her as much as Diana helped me, and that she will mentor someone when she has the opportunity. Relationships are the heartbeat of this world, and Big Brothers Big Sisters brings people together to make the world a better place.

Introductory video, Big Brothers Big Sisters Ventura County:

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24 Sep

“THE EYE OF THE STORM”

“Our own life has to be our message.”

                                     ~Thich Nhat Hanh

 

How many of us are waiting for something to happen so that we can be happy?  It’s a malady that has haunted humans since time immemorial. Bookshelves are full of books and magazines heavy with articles about mindfulness/centeredness and the benefits thereof.

Ancient philosophies have done their best to infuse us with the concept that we are in charge of our reactions to everything and that we have a choice in how we allow circumstances to affect us.

In the 20thcentury, the subject of mindfulness became popular with mental health professionals and physicians began to notice the difference in the physical health of their patients who sought out ways to balance themselves and lead a more centered life.

Science has finally embraced what sacred, ancient texts have been teaching for thousands of years.

 

I ran across a YouTube video about a man everyone knows as Slomo. His story is fascinating.

 

 

Slomo was once an accredited Neuologist named Dr. John Kitchin. He tells a story of success and money and then the extreme physical and mental fatigue that came with his accomplishments. Among other things, he began to lose the ability to recognize faces.

That’s when he gave it all up for a nice pair of rollerblades and the Pacific Beach Boardwalk.

Every single day, he can been seen, pretty much all day, rollerblading up and down the boardwalk…very, very slowly. He slides along on one foot with the other leg stretched out behind him and his arms out like a bird gliding with the wind. His body is perpendicular to the ground.

I heard him in an interview explaining that the brain connects with the center of the earth’s core when the body is moving and perpendicular.

When he first arrived on the boardwalk people thought he was mentally ill or perhaps brain damaged. But no one could resist his enthusiasm. He always has a smile a mile wide on his face. There is no mistaking his unmitigated joy.

Slomo is a centered being. How he came upon the idea of moving in the way he does to achieve such elation, I don’t know.

I think the thing that inspired me so much in his story was how organic it is. Slomo isn’t doing anything that someone else told him to do to achieve happiness. He put himself into a position to be able to find what he needed and then he grabbed it.

With all of the material out there about mindfulness and living a centered life, one could become very confused or even disillusioned at the prospect of wading through it all. What if it doesn’t work for me?

There is an answer to everything in the Universe. We may not know the answer right this minute, but if we are willing to look, it will reveal itself.

For me mindfulness presents itself through meditation and study. I love spiritual subject matter. I love to hear it and read it and experience it. I achieve the best of myself in those places and then make every effort to infuse that into the everyday machinations of my life. It reminds me that I’m connected to a greater mind and I relax and behave better toward others and toward myself.

Slomo said to find something that connects you to God. Whether or not you believe in God, please contemplate the notion that you are connected to something grand and pure. And then don’t stop until you achieve the absolute knowing of it. However long it takes, the gain is worth the wait, because that’s where the center is. That’s the eye of the storm.

 

Whatever you achieve here on the physical plane is what you did. The way you’ve walked through life is who you are and what goes with you.

So as Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “Your life has to be your message.”

Make your message a well-lived and centered existence.

carolynstonecloud.com

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23 Sep

“THE MIND’S SACRED GIFT”

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant.

We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

                                                                                                         ~Albert Einstein

One beautiful morning a small private plane took off over a lush wilderness with four men inside. Not long after takeoff the plane went down in a river. They all saw it coming, but no one could stop the crash.

My childhood friend, James was on that plane. He was the sole survivor. James says that beings he had never seen before surrounded him. They gave him a choice of going back to his body and continuing his life or leaving the body and going on with his journey elsewhere.

James said he thought about it. He thought about his wife and his existence and ultimately decided to go back to his earthly body and life, as he had always known it. Little did he know that his life would never be the same after that.

Evidently, he was so badly injured that his body could not sustain life, so he says that the beings that were with him told him what to do to keep his fractured form alive. They went through all of his organs one by one giving him instructions on how to keep them functioning.

When James came back to consciousness he was still in the plane and underwater. He could see his fellow passengers. They were all deceased. His description of seeing them is heartbreaking.

Somehow, people arrived and rescued James. They carried him to a nearby cabin. It just so happened that there was a physician amongst them. As they rushed into the cabin, someone used his arm to sweep clear a long table, where they laid my friend down. He said that he heard the doctor say, “ I don’t think this guy is going to make it.”

James opened his eyes and said, “Oh yes I am doc. They told me what to do to stay alive”, to which the doctor replied, “Well you’d better hurry up and do it son.”

James closed his eyes and did exactly as the beings he had encountered told him. One by one, he went through every organ and every system of his body. He was then medevac’d to the closest hospital. As he was rushed into the ER his body began to fail again. The ER doctor made the same statement that James had heard earlier that day.”, I don’t think he’s going to make it.” Once again James opened his eyes and said, “Oh yes, I am doc. They told me what to do to stay alive.” The ER doctor parroted the same reply as the earlier doctor had, telling James he’d better hurry up and do it.

James reached inside himself and did as he had been instructed. He survived. He’s alive and well today.

If this was all there was to his story, it would be most astounding, but it’s really just the beginning.

James spent months in the hospital. He had multiple surgeries. It’s a nightmare of a story, but still a story of survival and grit.

Even after his recovery, James was still able to control his bodily functions. He could stop and start his heart and sort of mess around with his insides. He could hear further and think deeper. He knew when someone was hurting or needed something. He felt people, animals and even plants.

He tells of a time when he was invited to a party at a home that he had never been in before. When he walked into the house, he could hear screaming coming from somewhere in the house. No one else seemed to be concerned, so he tried to mingle. But he kept hearing the screams. After a time, he was so uncomfortable that he went looking for the source of the unrelenting sound. He followed the noise upstairs and finally came to a closed door. Through the door he could clearly hear screaming. He opened the door and walked in. No one was there, but the screaming continued.

James looked to see a houseplant sitting atop a table. The plant was in distress and was screaming. He could hear the plant screaming.

He stuck his finger into the soil and realized that it was very dry and the plant needed water, so he took it downstairs and asked the maid to water it. She did and the plant stopped screaming.

There are a lot of details to his story, which I won’t go into here. After some time had passed, I asked James if he could still do all those amazing things with his body. He said that all of that had begun to fade and was pretty much gone.

I asked him if he had asked the beings if he could keep those abilities. He said that he had asked them and their reply was…”No. You wouldn’t be yourself anymore.”

When my beloved husband and love of my life, passed on from life here, James told me, “You know, you can still talk to him.” “I know.”, I said. He reminded me that I could to that…and I do.

In all the years that we were growing up, I never knew James to be religious or even very spiritual. He was very educated, but a regular guy that loved to fish, run through the trees and hang out with his buddies. I remember him as kind and warm, very brilliant, funny and nuts…a good kind of nuts.

Something really big happened to him when he stepped through the portal between this place and the next. He discovered his inner connection. That priceless connection is with him and he’ll never let loose of it. He’s been told that he is a mystic. He does speak on the subject now and again.

In reading Einstein’s quote, I wonder if James had once honored the rational mind having forgotten the sacred gift of the intuitive mind. I think I’ll ask him that question. If that was the case earlier in his life, it certainly is not the case now. Now, he is all about the sacred gift of his intuitive mind.

 

 

 

 

 

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