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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 www.aarp.org/coloringbooks.



  • 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 www.Inkspirations.com/shop 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 kimw@hcibooks.com



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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 BetterSleep.org




“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 TheOrphanKeeper.com.

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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
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03 Feb

How Probate Can Get Expensive

business_meetingThere are many reasons to want to avoid probate for your estate. One of them is that probate can get very expensive. One doctor’s bill in a case in New Hampshire illustrates just how expensive.

The story of Geraldine Webber’s estate has been followed closely on estate planning blogs. The basics are that Webber was an elderly woman who met an on-duty police officer named Aaron Goodwin. Although Goodwin had a wife and children and was much younger than Webber, it appears that she became enamored with him.


She rewrote her will to leave Goodwin a $2 million inheritance.
The will was challenged by a group of Webber’s friends, two hospitals, a city and a school on the basis that Goodwin had unduly influenced and taken advantage of her. The challengers won the case.

However, as Seacoast Online reports in “Doc charged $70K for losing testimony in cop’s inheritance case,” testimony from one witness came at a steep cost for the estate.

A doctor, who was hired by the estate to serve as an expert witness, concluded that Webber was competent and not suffering from dementia at the time she signed the will.

The doctor, who reached his conclusion by reviewing medical records and visiting Webber’s home, had never met her. For his services to the losing case he is asking to be paid $70,120 by the estate. A judge will have to approve the amount.

That is how probate can get so expensive.

The testimony of one expert witness for the losing side can cost $70,000. Imagine if there had been other expert witnesses and not just the one.

Of course, while the judge may not approve the bill for the amount asked, the doctor will certainly receive a substantial amount from the estate.

Reference: Seacoast Online  “Doc charged $70K for losing testimony in cop’s inheritance case,”

Visit our website at www.ssslegalconsultancy.com to set up a complimentary consultation.

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02 Feb