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16 Jul

Parenting the Vedic Way

Ayurveda is India’s 5,000 year old “Science of Life,” and it is the art of living in harmony with nature. Ayurveda gives us tools for living that we can apply to every aspect of our lives, especially parenting. Your dosha is your Ayurveda mind and body type. There are three doshas in Ayurveda: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. We each have all three of the doshas in our physiology, just in different proportions, so your dosha is unique and personal; it is like your fingerprint. To determine your dosha, or ayurveda mind and body type, start by taking the dosha quiz. This will tell you which dosha is dominant for you. What’s your dosha, baby? Take the dosha quiz and find out!

Parenting is an application of love in our daily lives. Our children give us the opportunity to experience and express love, every day. As parents, we have a very unique relationship with each of our children. We interact with them on so many different levels at the same time. We can be a parent, teacher, friend, chauffeur, psychologist, advisor, disciplinarian, coach, referee, or whatever!

Mind-body type does have genetic components, but a family doesn’t necessarily have to be dominant in one dosha or another. A Kapha mother and father very well could have a Pitta child, for example. You need to look on both sides of the family to see where a dosha may be inherited. For example, a Pitta child could get her blue eyes from her Pitta grandmother, or her athletic ability from her Pitta uncle.

It is interesting to look back at your own childhood and discover the doshas of each of your brothers and sisters. Look at how you interacted with your siblings. What were these relationships like? Remember that your kids look to you for skills to handle each other, too. They learn from your example.

When you know your child’s dominant dosha, you are better able to handle the myriad of things that come up at any given moment. You are better able to parent from a place of love rather than expectation. You know, for example, that your Vata child may have some anxiety about a friend’s sleepover, or that our Kapha child may need two different alarm clocks to get up in the morning.

Kapha Kids

Kapha kids tend to be more solidly built. They’re stockier and more resistant to illness. They love to eat and have a sweet tooth. You need to watch their diets so that they don’t overeat. Kapha children are very caring. They’ll be the first ones to give you a hug. They may be a little shy at first, but once they warm up, they’re all smiles.

Kapha kids like to lounge around, so make sure there are plenty of activities for them to participate in so that they don’t turn into couch potatoes. If given a choice, the Kapha child would choose playing video games over a trampoline, but the trampoline would do so much more to keep him in balance. To get Kapha kids outdoors, have them help in the garden — they love tending to flowers and gardening.

Kaphas tend to have beautiful singing voices, so it’s a good idea to nurture that at a young age. Have your kids join the church choir, or take singing lessons.

In school, it seems like Kapha kids take longer to learn things, but the upside to this is that once they learn something, they don’t forget it. Kaphas learn best by association, so it’s a good idea to tell stories and give them experiences that help make the subject matter relevant to them. Be patient with them, work at their speed and don’t give up.

Kapha kids tend to be very loyal and loving toward their friends, but they are also sensitive, and their feelings are easily hurt.

Pitta Kids

Pitta kids are the ones who play baseball, basketball, soccer and hockey. They go from one sport to the next, and like whichever one they’re doing at the time the best! They want to be the best one on the team, and they want to bring home the trophy to prove it.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, the Pitta competitive spirit will spill over into the classroom. The Pitta child will be motivated to work hard and get good grades. They’ll be keenly aware of their grade point average and do extra credit work if necessary to make honor roll. Pitta kids are great at memorizing and do well with flash cards, which is a visual tool for learning. They love to read.

Pittas can be show-offs, and they like to be in charge. As parents, you can teach them social skills to help them control their anger and get along with everyone.

Vata Kids

The day-dreamy child drawing rainbows on a pad in the back of the room is the Vata child. These kids have great imaginations, and they’re gifted at making up stories. If you ask them a question, they’ll talk up a storm. They’re often perceived as “spacey” or “weird.”

Physically, Vata is slight. Whether tall or short, these kids look skinny; they have narrow hips and shoulders. Their appetite varies, but no matter how much they eat, they don’t seem to put on weight.

Vata kids learn things quickly, but then they forget them almost as quickly. You might think they’ve got their times tables down cold, only to have them fail a test the next day. Very often, kids with ADHD are Vata dominant. They are auditory learners, so sometimes it’s easier for them to listen to a book on tape rather than try to sit still and read for long periods of time. A multi-modal approach to learning in general is best for Vata kids — they like to hear it, see it, touch it and experience it. They’re great at all things creative, and likely will be in the school plays, draw cartoons for the school paper or be nominated for class clown.

Lots of hugs and a warm environment help keep Vata kids from getting out of balance and feeling nervous.

Growing and Glowing

It doesn’t matter how many children you have. As a parent, you soon learn that you can’t parent any two kids the same way. When we look at all the factors involved in a child’s individuality and the different ages and stages they all go through, there is no question that parenting is the most difficult job there is! Ayurveda gives us tools to help us relate to our children, and to help our children relate to each other.

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21 Jul

5 Common Senior Care Options That Are Available

senior care optionsAs people are living longer these days, you may have to take care of the senior in your family for a longer period of time. According to the “Life Expectancy at Birth by Region” chart, the average life expectancy in developed regions went from around 66 in the 1960’s to around 78 the in 2010’s. It is estimated to move up to about 83 years of age in the 2040’s.


Although we may live longer in the future, our bodies will still go through fatigue in the later years in life which require assistance. Many seniors are more prone to falling over during these times which can lead to a serious fractures. Since family members might not have the time to take care of their elders, it leads many to seek for care options.


Family Bridges, a home care agency in Cincinnati, is frequently asked what type of service would be best for their elder parent. To answer this question, they suggest you look at the many options available and choose according to your budget and which they may be most comfortable with. It is important to look at the following:

  • costs involved
  • consider the type of problems the senior has
  • determine if medical assistance is needed
  • and what living environment the senior prefers


This article will provide you with some information about each of the different types of services there are to help your elder.


In-Home Senior Care

A lot of times, the elderly dread the thought of living in a nursing home. Some seniors simply prefer to live in their own home until their last days. For example, when my grandmother started needing assistance, our family mentioned that we could take her to a nursing home. Her reply was always the same – she insisted that she could take care of herself at home to get off that topic. In reality, she needed assistance because it was hard for her to see, hear, and get up from the couch.


In cases like this, in-home care is an option to allow them to stay in the comfort of their homes and get assistance from a caregiver when scheduled. Most home care agencies are non-medical so many of them only cover basic assistance services.


This service is typically private-paid but some long term insurance companies are covering the cost of this option. It can cost anywhere from $15 – 24 per hour for this service.


Medical Home Care

This is sometimes known as home health care and is needed when a more specialized caregiver visits the senior in their home. It is similar to the in-home care services described above, except a licensed person such as a registered nurse helps them. This is typically needed after a patient is released from the hospital and may require close supervision by a healthcare professional.


Independent Living Communities

Independent living is also commonly referred as a retirement living community. This is basically a small neighborhood area where other seniors live. They often consist of apartment complexes or condos. These communities are great for elders that are healthy but want security. Some even offer meal preparation, house keeping, and transportation services.


Assisted Living Facilities

This is a step up in assistance from the independent living communities. I consider is a combination of a medical home care service and an independent living community. Elders have more private space than a nursing home, but still have the same services from nurses.


Nursing Homes

Most people are familiar with nursing homes because traditionally, they are the most used senior care services. I like to consider these as similar layouts as college dorms for elders to live in. Seniors live in the same building but each have separate rooms to sleep in. They are offered medical assistance from nurses if needed and is somewhat similar to a hospital layout with a little more comfort.


That should give you a little background on each type to help you begin your search. If you haven’t already had to care for your elder parent or grandparent, you may have to in the future.

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24 Jun

A Lifetime of Sleep!

As human-beings we all need sleep. Just as every living animal does. But the amount of sleep we need, and the challenges that prevent us from getting the sleep we need, changes as we age.


Let’s start at the very beginning; newborns sleep from 16 to 20 hours a day. Of course, not all of the hours a baby sleeps are in a row – as new parents know very well! It can be challenging to get your little one into a sleep routine so that they sleep through the night, and their parents can, too. After 4 months, babies want to sleep through the night, but they might not know how. Here are some sleep strategies you might want to try:


  • Avoid using a pacifier for nighttime sleep. Some babies start to depend on a pacifier to get to sleep. The problem is that when their binky falls out at night, they don’t have the fine motor skills to put it back in their mouth. At about 8 months of age they have enough dexterity to manage a pacifier on their own.
  • Play some white noise. In utero, babies hear all kinds of muffled sounds, so they find this soothing. Use a fan, a white noise machine, or look online for some white noise MP3s to download.
  • Work with your pediatrician to gradually cut back nighttime feedings so that baby doesn’t wake up and expect a bottle.


By 12 months of age Baby should be easily sleeping all through the night, for about 12 hours.


Toddlers will continue to take naps as they grow, but they will take fewer naps as they get older, and get all of their necessary sleep at nighttime by the time they reach six years of age.


When children outgrow their crib and move into their first bed they often want to delay bedtime and “stay up.” This is when sleep habits start, so it is important to get kids on a good sleep routine. It’s always a good idea to have your child participate in the bedding decisions so that they really love spending time in bed. Allow them to choose sheets with their favorite cartoon characters, for example, so they look forward to going to bed. It is important to purchase a new mattress for your child so that they are comfortable and supported during sleep.


Keeping in mind that grade school kids need between 10 and 12 hours of sleep a night, look at the time they need to wake up and work backwards to set their bedtime accordingly. A good routine to follow is the three Bs: Bath, book, bed. The bath will help them relax. The book will give them quality time with a parent where they read together. And then they’ll be ready to be tucked in with goodnight kisses.


There’s another change when children reach adolescence. People have a “circadian rhythm,” a kind of internal clock that cues us when to fall asleep and when to wake up. Hormonal changes seem to affect this cycle, causing teenagers to prefer both staying up later at night, and waking up later in the day. However, high school tends to start classes much earlier, so students struggle with having to get up before they feel that they’ve slept enough, and they get tired during the day. In addition, teens often spent time in artificial light, especially computer screens as they do homework late at night, making it more difficult to get to sleep when they finally turn in. Here are some sleep tips for teens and college students:


  • Make sure to get some sunshine as much as you can every day. Also during the day, avoid caffeinated beverages, especially after 2 pm.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet. Power your computer completely off before you get into bed, and keep it on the other side of the room. If light bothers you, invest in some black-out shades, or wear a sleep mask. In the morning, open the curtains wide and turn on the light to wake up more easily.
  • Take a warm bath or shower before bed to help you relax. It’s good to have some break between computer time and bedtime to help the brain prepare for sleep. Listen to some soft music and maybe do some easy yoga stretches.
  • If you need a snack before bed, keep it small. Carbohydrates will help you feel warm and sleepy. Graham crackers, a piece of toast, or a few crackers and hummus are all good choices.


During the teen years kids are growing a lot, so make sure that their mattress is keeping up with them. Most college dorms provide extra-long twin beds for their students. However, your child is not obligated to use this mattress, feel free to provide your own to assure the quantity and quality sleep your student needs.


The older we get, the more likely we are to have sleep disturbances. Harvard University Medical School says that 7 out of 10 adults experience problems that affect sleep quality. Many of these sleep problems are particular to women, related to their cycle, pregnancy, new motherhood, or menopause. We have a more in-depth article about Women’s Sleep Issues posted on


Chronic medical conditions that often come with age, such as arthritis, congestive heart failure, depression, and digestive issues can cause sleep problems. In addition, respiratory disorders can cause awakening during the night. Restless legs syndrome, which results in an uncontrollable need to move the legs while drifting off to sleep, makes it difficult to fall asleep, or stay asleep. One home remedy for RLS is putting a bar of soap under your sheets near your feet. No one knows why this works, but 40% of people who tried it said they had good results. You could use lavender soap to get the added benefits of the relaxing aromatherapy that comes with it. Fortunately, when any underlying medical disorders are treated sleep dramatically improves.


Because older adults have more trouble sleeping, they are more likely to suffer from chronic sleep deprivation, causing them to unintentionally nod off curing daytime activities. But sleep problems don’t have to be a part of aging, there are many solutions to help us sleep better. Here are some tips that can help:


  • If a nap is required, keep it to the morning hours so that it doesn’t interfere with nighttime sleep.
  • Let your doctor know when you are experiencing sleep difficulties so that you can work together to solve the problem.
  • Make sure to get some exercise every day, both mentally and physically. Be up and active as much as possible in the day so that you can feel sleepy at bedtime.


If you are caring for an aging parent or grandparent, the best gift you can give them is that of a good night’s sleep. Look into their needs, and see if a mattress that elevates the head would be helpful for them.


At 115 years of age, Susannah Mushatt Jones was asked what her secret is for living such a long and healthy life. She said simply: “I sleep.” That is good advice for all of us, Susannah. We will follow your example. Thank you!




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06 Apr

When Someone You Love is Dying

84601An excerpt from Words at the Threshold by Lisa Smartt


When her father became terminally ill with cancer, Lisa Smartt began transcribing his conversations and noticed that his personality underwent inexplicable changes. Once a skeptical man with a secular worldview, he developed a deeply spiritual outlook in his final days — a change that was reflected in his language. Baffled, intrigued, and compelled by her linguistics training, Smartt grabbed pencil and paper and tracked his final words.


The inquiry that began with her father’s language went on to become the Final Words Project, in which she collected and analyzed hundreds of final words for their linguistic patterns and themes.


In her new book Words at the Threshold: What We Say as We’re Nearing, Smartt decodes the symbolism of those last words, showing how the language of the dying points the way to a transcendent world beyond our own. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book.

# # #


If you are facing the death of a beloved right now, I invite you to write down the words you hear — even those that seem to make no sense — without editing, fearing, or judging them. As you transcribe the words, and as you read through these chapters, you may discover that the very changes you hear in your beloved’s language, which may seem scary and confusing, may ultimately bring you comfort and meaning.


Jewels often emerge as we listen closely and write down final words, and the transcription process can help us feel more connected to our loved ones and even closer to Source. Many times the dying say things that don’t make sense at the moment. But months or years later, you will find hints of prophecy or answers to questions in those words.


Here are some suggestions for you to use as you courageously and compassionately witness final words.


  • Enter the world of your beloved. Imagine you are visiting a new country. Keep an open heart and mind. Record in a final words journal what you hear, see, and feel; it will be your private travelogue about that other place. You may be surprised later by the pearls of wisdom you find there.
  • Have eyes for the sacred. If possible, imagine that the territory you have entered is sacred ground, despite the terrible loss looming before you. Be open to the possibility that something transpersonal is occurring, and that the words you hear are tracking its course.
  • Validate your loved one’s words and experiences. Repeat back what your beloved has said, to let the person know you heard it: “Oh, your modality is broken. I would love to know more about that.” Avoid telling your beloved that what he or she is seeing or saying is wrong or “not real.”
  • Be a student of the language. Since you are in a new country, learn its language. Study it. Practice it. Speak it. Listen for the symbols and metaphors that are meaningful to your beloved and then use them when you communicate. For example, ask, “Would you like me to help you find your passport?” When you hear things that sound nonsensical, simply think, “Oh, that’s how they phrase things in this country!”
  • Ask questions with authenticity and curiosity. It’s okay to let the dying person know you are confused and would love to hear more of what he or she wants to communicate. “Could you tell me more abou..?”
  • Assume your loved one can hear you even when unresponsive or quiet; let the dying person know how deep your love goes. As we die, our sense of hearing is the last sense to go. When you are in another room, and especially when you are speaking about your beloved, speak with lots of praise and gratitude. Speak words that will bring joy or comfort to the person.
  • Savor silence. Sometimes it is better to just sit with your loved one. When words don’t build bridges, know that the dying may be much more attuned to telepathic or other nonverbal communication, much like the kind of communication we experience when we pray. Speak to the person you love as you would in prayer.


Healing Grief

Your listening to and honoring final words will make the dying process easier for your beloved. At the same time, transcribing the words can be healing for you as you move through the loss of someone you love. Make a journal out of the words you’re writing down. Remember that the words that don’t make sense are as important as the ones that do. Notice metaphors or symbols that are repeated, and paradoxical phrases. Are there certain colors or shapes that are repeated? Are there references to people or places you do not see? Meanings may not be clear at first, but when you write down the words you have heard, you may find comforting or healing associations.


What might seem senseless to a stranger may hold deep personal meaning to you. Final words can be like dreams. We learn so much by reflecting upon these words and free-associating with them. In your final-words journal, write down the words you hear, and allow yourself to free-associate. Imagine the words are those of an oracle, or the wisdom of dreams, and let them evoke images and reflections in you. You may be surprised and moved by what emerges.


My mother and I created raku-fired plaques of my father’s final words in honor of his memory. Art is a powerful healing tool. Many times, the best way to process grief is without language. Taking final words and building art with them and through them brings us to a greater understanding of their meaning and of those we love. Integrating final words with art is one way to keep the portal open between the living and the dying, and a way to honor those who left before us.


Shedding Light on the Path of Consciousness

If you are not currently facing the loss of someone you love, it is my hope that this book will offer you the tools for when you do. Perhaps it will also answer your questions about an afterlife and deepen your appreciation of the connection between language and consciousness.


As much as the death of a beloved is grief-filled, it is often also a sacred time. The language at the end of life offers a pathway to a better understanding of the spiritual quality of dying and living — and can help us develop deeper connections with our beloveds. With each word we transcribe, we are invited into the consciousness of those we care about as they transition.


The continuum of language in the communications of the dying includes an increase in symbolic and metaphoric language, repetition, sustained narratives, various kinds of paradoxical and situational “nonsense,” and a variety of other linguistic patterns that shed light on the path of consciousness that we traverse as we die. By analyzing the language of those who have had near-death experiences, we can learn from these accounts about words at the threshold.


# # #


Lisa Smartt, MA, is a linguist, educator, poet and author of Words at the Threshold. She founded the Final Words Project, an ongoing study devoted to collecting and interpreting the mysterious language at the end of lives. She lives in Athens, Georgia. Visit her online at


Excerpted from the book Words at the Threshold: What We Say as We’re Nearing Death. Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Smartt. Printed with permission from New World Library.

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08 Dec

Help for Your Anxious Child. Replacing Worried Thoughts with Coping Thoughts.

Guest Post by Donna Shea & Nadine Briggs

The emotion that a child feels when he or she worried is real, but most anxiety is based on something that only might happen. Most worried thoughts begin with the words “what if?” If your child struggles with anxiety, it is important for him or her to know that she doesn’t have to let the worries win. He or she can overcome the anxiety by replacing a worried thought with a coping thought.

In our workbook, I Feel Worried: Tips for Kids on Overcoming Anxiety, we provide many ideas for managing anxiety along with a list of coping thoughts for many situations that kids can become anxious about. Here are a few:

Worried Thoughts Coping Thoughts
What if I feel embarrassed? I’ll ask for help if I need it. It’s always OK to ask for help.
What if I’m in class and I don’t know anybody? I will try to say hello to just one person. If that doesn’t work, I will try another person.
What if kids bully me or act in a mean way? I’ll just say “what ev” if someone is bothering me or someone is not being nice.
I like fireworks but what if it’s loud? I will remember a time when I was scared but I could power through it. I can bring ear protectors just in case.
I’m going to a new school this fall. What if I don’t make any friends? I can decide to be friendly and bring new friends into my life. I will focus on making friends instead of on my worry.
What if I don’t know what to do next and feel too shy to ask? I can decide to solve my problems. I will stop the worry and to action to ask the question.
My dad is late picking me up. I wonder if something happened to him. I will focus on positive thoughts to keep the bad thoughts out of my brain.
I hope my project is good enough. I tried to make it perfect but what if it isn’t? I can only try to do my best.

No one is perfect.

I might need a shot when I go to the doctor next time and it will hurt. I will take three deep belly breaths to relax my body, then count to three and the shot will be over just like that!

donna-sheaDonna Shea, Founder of the Peter Pan Center for Social and Emotional Growth and Nadine Briggs, Director of Simply Social Kids are authors of the How to Make and Keep Friends book and workbook series. Briggs and Shea specialize in coaching and creating simple tips and language for kids with social and emotional learning challenges.

Connect with Briggs and Shea on, Twitter, and Facebook.


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05 Dec

In The Spirit Of Giving, Offer A Peaceful Respite To Those Who Need It Most This Holiday

Guest post by Kim Weiss

inkspirations-recoveryThe trend this holiday season is all about ‘giving’ – not another ugly Christmas sweater, but something meaningful like a donation in the name of a family member or friend. Here’s a novel idea; give adult coloring books to a worthwhile group and put smiles on many faces! The beautiful Inkspirations series of adult coloring books from HCI has something for everyone – from Gardening and Pets, to Recovery and Christmas Joy – even postcards and greeting cards!  To help make this a truly “giving” holiday, donate coloring books to your favorite charity, hospital, homeless or women’s shelter, where some extra moments of peace and encouraged wellness would be welcomed.


Bringing a little peace and joy to someone is what the holidays are all about; something to help quiet the mind and

ease the soul. From HCI, the original publishers of Chicken Soup for the Soul, now comes a line of adult coloring books ready to encourage, inspire, and help worries fade. Art therapy has long proven its effects as an aid in emotional and mental restoration, and it is not news that coloring as active meditation reduces stress and quiets


Example of coloring page.

thoughts. Inkspirations coloring books for adults offer a way to turn off negativity while healing the spirit.


With moving quotes alongside unique and graceful images, Inkspirations include a wide array of themes to help express creativity and enjoy therapy through coloring. To start overcoming heartache, releasing tensions, and building positive energy, readers can visit the new Inkspirations website,


The website is a reader’s portal to a more colorful world, giving a peek at the wide spread of unique pages Inkspirations has to offer.


On coloring lists now:

  • Inkspirations Create While You Wait

Create beautiful art wherever you are with this portable coloring book.  Next time you’re waiting—at the doctor’s office, in the airport, or on the bus—stop stressing and start creating! In today’s busy world, finding peace can be a challenge. Now, with this unique, compact coloring book, you can use those idle moments to foster your creativity and enjoy a sense of calm. Perfectly sized to fit into a purse, pack, or pocket, Create While You Wait will help you color your day brighter wherever you go. A special binding lets you lay the book flat, and the unique horizontal layout is perfect whether you’re left- or right-handed. So grab your colored pencils, crayons, markers or pen—and find your inner Zen. Created in conjunction with AARP, see more at



  • inkspirations-christmasjoyInkspirations Christmas Joy

Christmas is a time of magic, and now you can color your season even brighter with more than thirty original, festive designs, plus 12 pages of DIY projects including color-your-own gift tags, postcards, wine tags and more! From highly detailed to fun and free-flowing, each design will deck your heart and home with the holiday spirit. Designs include: trees to make your own; winter wonderlands, polar bears and penguins; charming gingerbread houses, wreaths, and stockings; whimsical scenes of snowmen and ugly holiday sweaters; a Santa sighting or two, plus heartwarming expressions of holiday cheer written in exquisite typography.


  • Inkspirations for Dog Lovers

Dogs are our loyal, playful, energetic, goofy, and brave companions who color our lives with so much joy―now you can bring them to life on every page with this captivating compendium that celebrates the glory of canines throughout the seasons. From Boxers, Bulldogs, and Beagles, to Pomeranians, Poodles, and Pugs, to Shepherds, Shih Tzus, and Siberian Huskies, this eclectic mix of original artwork showcases the many ways in which dogs warm our hearts no matter the season. Whether it’s a spirited puppy romping through the first spring tulips, two Golden Retrievers sprinting against fiery autumn leaves, or a curious Lab leaving fresh paw prints in the winter snow, our furry friends color our world brighter every day. Inkspirations for Dog Lovers is a fitting tribute to the canine kingdom.


  • Inkspirations Fruit of the Spirit

In a world that’s not always black and white, it’s often challenging to put the fruit of the Spirit into practice, but this captivating coloring book offers an enjoyable way to quiet the chatter, tap into your creativity, and spend some reflective time with God. Stunning original art is paired with powerful Scriptures that eloquently embody the fruit of the Spirit, inviting you to immerse yourself in the meaning of the messages and cultivate them in everyday life. This is a perfect way to relax and unwind as you create beautiful works of art while rejoicing in the blessings of the Holy Spirit. Celebrate your faith in full color!


There’s even Inkspirations Greeting and Post Cards to personalize and send to someone or give as a gift.


Also see for:


  • Inkspirations in the Garden
  • Inkspirations Animal Kingdom
  • Inkspirations for a Happy Heart
  • Inkspirations for Cat Lovers
  • Inkspirations for Women
  • Inkspirations for Recovery



For more information, please contact Kim Weiss at (800) 851-9100 ex. 9212, or



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07 Nov

Everything You Never Knew You Never Knew About Sleep!

Sleep. It’s something we all do, an important part of our lives from the very beginning, and every single day. We might think we know about sleep, because we have gotten very good at it over the years, but here are a few facts about sleep that may surprise you. Take note, this information may come in handy if you’re ever a contestant on Jeopardy!

  • The word “sleep” comes from the Proto-European base word “sleb” meaning “to be weak.”
  • Most of what we know about sleep science has come about in just the last 25 years.
  • Sleep is a characteristic of complex living beings including insects, mollusks, fish, amphibians, birds, and mammals.
  • Among animals, the giraffe sleeps the least amount, fewer than 2 hours a day in five to ten minute intervals. The koala sleeps the most, up to 22 hours a day. Cats sleep an average of 12 hours a day, and dogs sleep about 10 ½ hours a day – this is in addition to nighttime sleep.
  • The dolphin’s brain is unique in that one half of it sleeps at a time. This is called “unihemispheric sleep” – where one hemisphere of the brain is awake while the other hemisphere sleeps. Because of this, dolphins can sleep under water without drowning. Like humans, dolphins spend about one third of their lives asleep.
  • A “catnap” is a short sleep, usually not in bed. People can take catnaps with their eyes open and not even know it.
  • People typically dream four to six dreams per night, lasting a combined total of more than two hours. This adds up to about six years of dreaming.
  • Upon waking, half of a dream is forgotten in the first five minutes. When ten minutes has gone by we have forgotten 90% of it. Although 42% of people say they have had a dream about something that later came true.
  • 12% of people only have dreams in black and white.
  • There are at least 84 identified sleep/wake disorders.
  • More than 70 million people in the USA suffer from a sleep disorder. Of those, more than 60% have a chronic sleep disorder.
  • People can survive longer without food than we can without sleep.
  • Modern society has such high numbers of sleep deprivation that what is really abnormal sleepiness is now considered normal.
  • Sleep deprivation, when applied systematically, is said to be the most effective form of torture. One reason is that sleep deprivation causes the body to produce higher levels of the stress hormone corticosterone.
  • Somnambulism is the scientific word for sleepwalking. Even though they can talk, walk, and even eat while asleep, most sleepwalkers don’t remember much about their experiences. Scientists believe that sleepwalking has a genetic component.
  • When one partner snores, he or she wakes his non-snoring partner 20 times a night on average, with a sleep loss of about one hour a night.
  • Snoring usually worsens after drinking alcohol. Alcohol has a depressant effect on the tongue and throat muscles, narrowing the upper airway space.
  • Brains are more active during sleep than while watching television. You also burn more calories sleeping than you do when watching television.
  • Charles Dickens suffered from insomnia. He believed that he could fall asleep faster in the middle of a bed facing north.
  • William Shakespeare often wrote about sleep in his plays. Scholars believe he gave such clear descriptions of insomnia because he suffered from the disorder. “We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep.” –The Tempest
  • The saying “good night, sleep tight” came about when mattresses were set upon ropes woven through a bed frame. When the ropes started sagging, they were tightened with a bed key.
  • The phrase “hit the sack” dates back to the 9th century when homes were one big room used for all activities. At the end of the day, families would clean up after dinner and make up a bed by putting hay in a sack.
  • The largest bed ever constructed is the Great Bed of Ware in Great Britain. Built in 1596 it measured 11 feet by 11 feet and was said to sleep 12 comfortably.
  • Waterbeds became all the rage in the 1970s, but they actually date back to the 19th century when they were available in hospitals. The water eliminated pressure points so they could be used to support patients with bone fractures, bedsores, or even paralysis.

Today we have more choices than ever in mattresses, materials, styles, and sizes! If you’re not getting either the quality or quantity of sleep that you need to feel great and be productive, check out the many options available. Like Goldilocks, you’re sure to find a bed that is “just right” for you! More info about all things sleep at




“What You Never Knew About Beds, Bedrooms & Pajamas” by Patricia Lauber

“Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams” by Paul Martin

Online Etymology Dictionary

“Encyclopedia of Sleep and Sleep Disorders” by Michael Thorpy and Jan Yager

cats sleeping

cats sleeping

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30 Jul

Homeward Bound

Orphan Keeper Cover ImgBy Taj Rowland


The poet Maya Angelou once keenly observed, “The ache for home lives in all of us.”


For me, it was an ache that started early, at the young age of seven, when I was kidnapped from the street near my home in southern India, driven hours away, and sold to a Christian orphanage. Despite my insistence to the orphanage owner that I already had a home and family, he wouldn’t listen (or didn’t care). I was adopted by a family in the United States and by the time I’d learned enough English to tell my new and unsuspecting parents the truth, it was too late. When all their attempts to find my Indian family failed, America became my new home.


It was a strange country and the transition was difficult. Their customs, housing, food and language were all peculiar. It didn’t take long to realize that in order to survive, I had to forget my past and focus on my future. And so, I turned my back on India, my family, my memories—my home.


I adapted to my new country, did my best to fit in, and as time passed, I grew accustomed. I excelled in sports, school, and scouting, and was even elected student body president of my high school. In fact, I almost convinced myself that my home in India no longer mattered, that I didn’t need to look back. There was just one problem: deep inside my head and heart was a voice that whispered otherwise. Despite my best efforts to forget India, I learned that India wasn’t about to forget me.


As a youth I went to England and there interacted for the first time with large groups of Indians, people who looked just like me. As first I was terrified, but as I ate their curry, and listened to their music, and observed their colorful dress, long suppressed memories began jumping up and down in my head waving their excited arms. In England, I even drew a map of the village where I’d remembered living as a child, and I secretly vowed that one day I would return.


That day came just a handful of years later. When in college, I met (through astonishing circumstances), a girl from southern India named Priya. She was such a change from the blond, Caucasian girls I’d been dating, that when I brought her home to meet my parents, my excited mother pulled out her scrapbook full of articles, letters and photos, many related to India.


Years earlier, when looking for my family in India, my mother had written to anyone in the faraway country who would listen. Now, as Priya studied one of the replies, she commented that the handwriting looked familiar. When she turned the letter over, she gasped. It was written by her father, a man who’d actually been friends with the orphanage owner in India years earlier. What were the chances?


Priya and I married and a year later, headed to India to attend her brother’s wedding. It was my first time back since coming over as a child and I intended to make use of the trip. I had the address of the orphanage from my mother’s letters, but when I arrived, I found it was closed down. Worse, the orphanage owner had passed away. I was devastated. It was my only clue.


Let me pause here to say that most of us spend our lives searching for home. You don’t have to have been kidnapped as a child to feel the need to belong, to want to believe that your life matters, to hope that one day you’ll grasp your place in the world. It’s a yearning we all inherently share.


For me, the search was reduced to riding around in a hot and muggy rickshaw, in city after city, looking for familiar landmarks. In a country of a billion people, the odds were overwhelming.


After a multitude of setbacks and successes, on the last day I had to spend in India, I found myself on the outskirts of a city called Erode, standing in front of a hut that I believed belonged to my older brother. They’d sent for his mother—perhaps also my mother—who was down bathing in the river. As I waited, I remember seeing an old woman racing up the hill weeping profusely, begging that we tell her everything we knew about the boy who’d disappeared as a child, the son she’d never forgotten.


As we all try to find some semblance of belonging and connection in our lives, our search is seldom easy—yet we carry on. Why? I’ve learned that if we’re both patient and persistent, if we never give up, we’ll occasionally glimpse miracles.


We are all homeward bound. Good luck in your journey.



To learn more about Taj and his astounding journey, pick up a copy of The Orphan Keeper, available at bookstores everywhere or visit

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25 Jul

Thanks to MS I leave a Legacy Behind for my Little Ones

parentingBy Oyuki Aguilar.


I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis on July 22, 2008.


You can forget many things in life, but not when you find out you have an incurable disease. It was in a white office, I remember it felt like someone kicked me in the stomach, and then immediately the urge to defend myself. I began hitting back with questions. “How do I fight this? Can it be controlled? What can I do to get better?” I did not have tears running down my cheeks, I remember only a bit of anger running through me. My doctor was surprised, apparently not many people react like that right away. Truth be told, I surprised myself too. I found out that day I was stronger than I thought.


I began to follow my neurologist’s instructions and took better care of my health. I told myself I was going to give this condition the battle of a lifetime by eating healthy and nurturing my body. No more canned food or processed meats, no more saturated fats, preservatives and chemicals. I slept better, I exercised and it worked, I felt much better. Two months later I received the news that I was pregnant with my first child. I finally felt afraid for the first time; I discovered quickly that my children were always going to be my weakness. I had no idea how my disease was going to play a part in my pregnancy however I was determined to fight even harder. The next year I gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby girl and one year  later I also gave birth to my handsome son. I was so busy with a toddler and a baby that I hardly had time to worry. But as children grow and become more independent, I began to have time to pick up where I left behind and being the human that I am, sometimes I would feel uncertain or depressed.


I know our lives have no warranties, I know we cannot control the future or other people’s but a part of me was seeking reassurance.


How could my essence live on for my children if…


On January 2015, as a new years resolution, I decided to write letters to my little ones  in case I would leave this earth for any reason; I wasn’t ready to go and have my voice vanish forever. I realized it was very important for me to let my kids know how magical they made my life in the most ordinary of circumstances, so I began this project of writing to them and the world around me was enhanced, I saw rich colors and beauty all around me and my words would not just flow, they would gush out of my pencils and pens to create the most lovely verses.


I found delight in carpool, bathing my children, dinner… I observed simple family moments and they were all filled with wisdom and very important teachings to capture.


I thought of leaving behind a sort of manual for a good and honorable life. A document for my son and daughter to turn to for comfort and guidance.

I wrote to them about cultivating the qualities of humility and  kindness, wisdom and courage; all the ingredients for a successful and happy life.

I compiled the letters and added my own artwork: fresh and colorful paintings. My sister Jadyn is a graphic designer and she put it all together in a stylish petit book to lure them to read (and not be scared or bored.)


I liked the results so much, I decided to share them with others in the hope they would appreciate these everyday adventures and maybe think about writing letters to their loved ones as well. We are not eternal, but our sentiments can live and inspire on through paper and hard drives.


My MS is under control now but still, it is a very unpredictable autoimmune disease and you never know how it’s going to creep up on you, so I stay vigilant and grounded to the present. I stay mesmerized by wonderful people and my amazing surroundings.


I thank my MS everyday for giving me the generous gift of awareness and the power of voice, so that I can leave my essence to my family, friends and generations to come.

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08 Jul