I love book signings, as they always seem to be the springboard for some very interesting, and deep conversation. This past Saturday, was no exception.
A woman whom was in the store had approached me, and said she had been hearing “all about this book” pointing at, and referring to ‘207.’ Periodically, she would venture over to the signing table and talk for a bit, then leave and meander back to talk for some more.
Interestingly enough, from the first moment she came over to chat, I could immediately recognize the signs that she was torn about her feelings relative to my book and its subject matter. Later in the day, she validated my perception – and did that ever result in one, deep conversation.
Confessing that she had not yet read ‘207,’ she asked about the house, and wanted to know more about what had transpired. She was specifically inquisitive as to how I survived such a nightmare of an ordeal. She also made it clear that she believed in the Lord and had herself, overcome great hardship in the past. The more she talked about her journey, the more I could see something very profound bubbling within her, rising to the top: Something that she wanted to say, but was wrestling with how to get it out.
After briefly explaining how the tragedy at 207 shaped my spirituality, she seemed surprised, and replied by stating that it was “interesting” I was telling her how important faith and a strong sense of personal spirituality are, to get oneself through such a time of great pain – and profound evil. It was halfway through that part of the conversation, when she blurted out, “Well, you see, I was talking about your book with my Bible study group and they told me not to even speak to you, or go near you. They also told me I better not buy your book because I would be letting the Satan in.”
“Oh, really? Why is that?” I replied, rather surprised by such strong, and unjustified statements.
Basically, she explained that her Bible study group said that I was evil. Evil? Me? How absurd. Where was this judgment coming from, and on what grounds were they making this claim?
A very close friend of mine happened to be with me for the signing. She immediately jumped into the conversation and asked if these study group members had read the book, or knew me. The woman stated that nobody in the group would even look at the book, let alone read it, and that none of its members had ever met me. She then went on to say that she needed to ask God for protection to even approach me, and speak with me. My friend and I were stunned, to say the least.
I knew the woman was in the midst of a spiritual struggle to speak with me. It was clear that she was torn between the intrigue of my story of personal faith and survival, and the fact that her religion classmates had warned her of an unleashing of all sorts of calamity and evil, including being “seduced by the Devil” by merely coming to speak with me. This was when a remarkable situation unfolded – one so profound, that I will not soon forget how it touched me.
Continuing to ask additional questions, she suddenly realized (and blurted it right out), that I was not ‘evil’ but had such a profound sense of faith, that it was evident it had been the key to what saved my life on more than one occasion while living in 207. She surprised even herself, to openly admit this and within moments of her epiphany, said that she could not wait to go back to her study group and tell them how wrong they were; how inspired she was by my story and how strong my faith is.
In her own words the woman stated, “No, you aren’t evil, or bad, you have incredible faith in God. It’s clear that you are a believer and fought the evil through your faith. That is something we try to teach one another in our study group. Here they were telling me not to come talk to you because of the title to your book, and the content of it. You are really, really strong and this IS a story of faith and God overcoming something wicked – overcoming Satan.”
She continued to thank me for having patience with her throughout the few hours she would periodically wander over when time warranted. She also stated that she felt good to have made the choice to speak with me. Letting her know that she was not the only one who has mentioned this to me in the past, I did advise her that perhaps her reaction was the strongest and most heartfelt. Both of us were equally thankful for the opportunity to have met, and for me, I could not have been happier.
I told her that the message of the day was one of tolerance and education, on a spiritual level. I also asked her to take a good look within, and let this entire experience bring forth a sense of awareness that too often, some religion, seems to prevent. More significantly, I added that this ‘closed-door’ reaction only isolates people and creates fear, such as in her case, rather than an opening of the heart, mind and spirit.
I then told her that I admired her courage, and suggested she allow her personal sense of spirituality to guide her, no matter what she was being told. I reminded her that it was a sense of spirituality that brought her back and forth to my table, and what awakened her; she had tapped into a higher level of spiritual confidence.
I then took a moment to explain my philosophy about 207: No matter how many books that I sell, it is the inspiration my readers walk away with, that means more to me than anything else. Yes, I completely enjoy and am blessed to write about my experiences; the inspiration that my readers become empowered with, is priceless.
As I was leaving the store, I could not help but notice a shift; the woman was truly lighter in spirit. The worry once written all over her face, had been replaced with a new-found joy; even her body language was more confident.
She approached me one last time, and thanked me for my patience in listening to her as she grappled with something very personal. My friend and I could see the surprise in her face when I responded with, “No, thank you. Thank you for sharing your journey with me. This is what matters most to me; to be able to inspire someone and help them in whatever way is important to them.”
Meeting up with family and friends for dinner, we could not help but talk about what an amazing experience the day afforded on a spiritual level. From the store owner’s discussion and commentary about what he took away after reading ‘207,’ to the woman who been embroiled in a spiritual tug-of-war with herself – it was an incredible afternoon. In our opinions, the book and associated discussion, had again led to spirituality opening a door that had been closed by religion.
Also noteworthy of Saturday, is the fact that only once in seven months, has anyone suggested that I change the title and republish the book under a different name. Respecting this person’s opinion, I listened, but do not agree – and for this reason alone:
207’s title and subtitle may have rubbed some the wrong way, and admittedly has probably frightened a few off, yet my message is strong and has been well-received. The irony that someone (such as the lovely woman at the bookstore), had the courage to walk through that ‘closed door’ after having been told not to even speak with me because of a mere title and based on groundless cause, yet managed to learn a very important message about faith, means more than words can say. This one example shows that fear will keep you from growing if you let it, and in turn, that unwarranted fear, can prevent you from making very important self-discoveries that will nourish your soul and sense of spirituality. And that, is the message my story conveys: My title and subtitle will remain the same.
May you all continue to open doors. Thru this, the world will indeed, become a better place.
When the going gets tough, you have a choice: Give up, or get up.
One moment life can be wonderful, and the next minute it can stink. That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. There is not one person on this planet that has not had at least one “moment that sucketh”.
It’s all about experience and the give and take of nature v. nurture. There is no miracle formula, just guidelines that help us along the way.
I find it very interesting when someone asks me how I’ve managed to overcome some very difficult hardship and my answer is always: why would I want to give up? The choice is always there and whether you want to find blame, or even if there is someone at fault for the crisis, it’s ultimately your decision what to do.
Even when options may seem extremely limited, or the path dimly lit, it all falls onto the shoulders of the individual facing the issues. Support is wonderful, but it only carries you just so far. Think of support during a crisis as training wheels for a bicycle: they keep you from completely flopping onto your face, but let you experience the wobbles until you gain enough confidence to ride without them. Some need training wheels longer than others, while some never take them off.
When your day is dark, or not going the way you had planned, it’s often hard to see the big picture, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. You must call upon your Spiritual Self to lift you beyond that point, to draw hope and realistic optimism. You must also understand that the challenge, or situation is actually helping you grow stronger.
To me, giving up, is not an option. Through change, adversity or pain, the lesson is stronger than what the immediate emotions are. The choice to ‘give up’ is purely self-defeating, which breeds negativity and lack of confidence in many aspects of life. It is also caused by fear. Fear, will only bring new problems into your life, which will compound the original issue.
When facing fear, you must be honest with yourself and acknowledge that it’s there, but not allow it to control your life. Think of it as a reminder that you have strength, and that you need to call on that strength in order to succeed. Once you grasp it, it will help you ‘get up’. That courage – taking off your training wheels to rely on yourself – is what will make you soar, even in the most trying of times. Remember how scary it was when you began to ride a bike with training wheels? You start with two training wheels, then may go down to one, and soon enough, you’re able to ride without them! You must look at the end results: riding down the road with the wind in your hair and the sun in your face, peddling your heart’s content along the path of life!
Self-pity is extremely damaging to your Spiritual Self. It is a signal you have given up. By taking part in it, you are only showing others that you cannot handle your life, or emotions, and that you lack a sense of spirituality. It is also a strong indicator that you need to nourish your Spiritual Self and examine it with brutal honesty. The more you wallow in self-pity, the longer it will take you to heal, which can drive away a healthy circle of support. I strongly caution those who are in funk of self-pity because sooner or later, someone is going to yank your training wheels off and you are going to find yourself licking more wounds from that action alone, in addition to the problems that initially caused your pity party.
By embracing the fact that one day, you will more than likely find yourself on the receiving end of one of life’s curve balls, you will learn and heal – as well as become a teacher. Learning to heal is something that can only come from deep within your soul, by grasping your personal spirituality and having the confidence to let it (your spirituality) rise to the challenge. The act of self-reliance relative to spirituality is a learning and teaching experience. As time goes on, the more that you rely on your spirituality to get you through the hard times, the more adept you will become to make it a daily part of your life. Through those times you will eventually have the tools to help others.
Rising for the challenge is always better than being pushed over, or giving up. Life challenges build character and feeds your Spiritual Self but you must first observe all of life’s imperfections and search for both the obvious and hidden messages. That reflection will create an awareness that will help you see the big picture, instead of the little pinhole that you may be looking through.
There is a tremendous amount of truth to the saying, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Pick and choose your battles but never, ever give up. You do have a choice, even if you don’t realize it. It may mean changing things around, changing behaviors, starting over, or pulling your training wheels out of the garage for a little while, but that’s O.K Although you’ve taken a tumble, you can still get up in spirit – which is what is actually helping you steer, ride and drive, your bike ;-)
Happy Heart Day To Me!
Five years ago today, I had open heart surgery. In mid-April of 2006, I suffered a stroke from an undiagnosed birth defect: An A.S.D. (Atrial Septal Defect) – otherwise known as a hole in the heart.
After recovering from the stroke and going through a series of tests to pinpoint a cause for having it, a T.E.E. revealed the A.S.D. Initially, my surgeons thought that they could close the hole by performing a procedure similar to a heart-cath by going through the groin and into the heart, but after the actual heart-cath revealed that the hole was too large (almost one inch in diameter), they had to perform open-heart surgery. I was 40-years-old.
I am forever grateful to my surgeon and cardiologist, as well as the rest of the staff that cared for me for before, during and after my surgery. Their skill, compassion and dedication should be a testimony to doctors, nurses and facility staff everywhere, who work together and strive to care for, as well as save the lives of their patients.
I am so happy to report that within a very short period of time after having my surgery, I began to feel so much better. My color came back, I was no longer out of breath and I was not always fatigued. I was blessed with a renewed sense of energy and restored health.
Gone were symptoms that were overlooked, yet indicated there was trouble brewing for a long, long time. Although the stroke was life-threatening, it was the miracle of detection which came from having the stroke, that ultimately saved my life.
And here I sit, five years later without any complications from the stroke or surgery. On this anniversary, as I have every year since having the defect repaired, I would like to once again say thank you to:
My mother, who flew down from New York to help the boys and I through this life-threatening ordeal. You are one of my greatest Heroes. Your courage and love is Angelic.
My children, Jim & Kyle, for being brave and helping every step of the way. I love you and am so proud of you both.
To Carol (and Karen), for your love and encouragement and for giving me peace in knowing that you would always be there for the kids, no matter what.
My friends, for your words of support and all of your love and prayers. Even though some of us are miles apart, we are forever close at heart.
I am happy to say that life has been a remarkable journey and I am truly blessed to have each and every one of you here, to ride along with me. I pray that we will be together for a long, long time.
Before I close this post, I would like to also say:
Thank you God. You are my strength, my light and I am so forever thankful for you blessing me with life and all it beholds.
May you be blessed with goodness, light and love.
Not every home has had spirit energy, nor has been riddled with negativity, but many of them have been out of ‘balance.’ In turn, I would like to state that even in benign homes (lacking spirit energy), the energy fields can be too high or too low. When this occurs, the resident(s) can experience a multitude of symptoms which are a reflection of that energy.
For example, a home that lacks positive energy may cause the resident(s) to experience fatigue or lack of motivation. Overall, the home and its atmosphere will ‘appear’ dull. On the flip side, a home that has too high of an energy reading will create restlessness and sleep disturbance – even if it is not “haunted”.
It may take some time, but there are some simple means to correct or balance, the amount of positive energy in your home. The essentials to balance begin with lighting, sound, scent, decor and organization.
Lighting is a relatively easy element to adjust. If the positive energy in your home is low, try opening the window treatments or window coverings during the day and increasing the night-time lighting. Adding splashes of candlelight (safely), will also improve positive energy.
To reduce energy you will want to create a more soothing, calming effect by decreasing the amount of light in your home. Draw your curtains or close your blinds. Do not entirely block the light out. For starters, try cutting it by 50%. This would apply to rooms that have high sources of lighting.
Another simple fix is to increase or lower the wattage in fixture bulbs. Use soft light and energy-efficient types. It will help to eliminate blaring or excessive visual stimulation and is also more cost-effective.
People will often underestimate the power that sound plays on balancing a home’s energy. Sound is vibration and your home feeds off of those vibrations. There are times when your proximity to a particular location (i.e. highway, airport) may factor into the equation but overall, here are some tips to increase or decrease your home’s vibrational sound energy.
To increase positive energy try introducing a music CD of natural sounds such as light bird chirping or a tropical rainforest. These gentle vibrations will stimulate your environment with an ambiance that is appealing to the senses and may be used for longer periods of time.
To decrease your home’s energy, you will want to find music or sounds that are soothing such as a gentle rain, ocean waves or a light instrumental. This type of vibration will decrease the activity which tends to cause nervousness and irritability in a home that has too much.
Since I have already blogged about the importance of Aromatherapy, I will recap a few fragrances that can be used to adjust the energy in a home. Some scents that will increase positive energy are orange and/or citrus, peppermint and ginger while others such as lavender, chamomile and jasmine will decrease energy.
Pay careful attention to the amount that you use, as too much may cause its own set of problems and imbalance, along with potential health problems. Do a bit of research prior to mixing any essential oils and consider room mists, wickless candles and potpourri as ways to adjust the scent in your environment.
A big misconception about decor is that everything has to match. Personal style is important but there are some areas to pay attention to relative to decor which will greatly influence your home’s energy.
Wall color is a big one. Try to use neutral tones but do not be afraid of color. Too many brightly colored areas in the home can add to irritability and restlessness, just as much as too much noise or light. Darker colors can attract negativity which may cause a reverse effect.
One thing that I always ask my Clients relative to wall color is, “Can you live with this for an extended period of time?” Simple question, but much thought needs to go into it.
Painting a room can be a process and to repaint something due to hasty color selection is a major bummer. Try painting a fairly good-sized section of one visible wall and ponder the color for a few days. You may surprise yourself and realize it is not the right fit.
If you lean more towards neutrals, consider adding splashes of color rather than overwhelming yourself with entire walls of the same palette. Furnishings and fabrics made with more natural elements (cotton, leather, chenille, bamboo, etc.) will lend a more relaxed element to your home whereas steel, brushed metals, iron lead to a more cooler feel. Brocades, satins, etc. will provide a more luxurious tone. Do not shy from prints but use them wisely, especially animal prints, floral and geometric prints.
Mixing up pieces (old and new, different finishes and construction, as well as style) is another creative way to compliment your personality. Try different styles but try to avoid creating a chaotic feeling. Some homes have themed rooms and that is fine, providing everything flows and does not over/under stimulate the senses.
The main thing to keep in mind with your decor is to try not to clutter. I will elaborate on the significance of clutter, below.
I cannot state how important an organized home is relative to creating and maintaining good energy. There is no need to be excessively fanatical about your home, but cleanliness and organization will help to keep things on an even keel.
Clutter, hoarding and uncleanliness will draw negative energy into the home. It also has weighs down the psyche and creates negative thoughts. Basic organizational skills and at the very least a good seasonal cleaning, will help to prevent that energy from manifesting.
For items around your home that are reminiscent of a breakup, bad relationship or situation; put them in boxes and store them off-property. Although you may not want to throw them out, get that negative energy out of your home. There are many climate controlled storage options, so consider renting a closet-type unit, or just throw it out. It’s up to you – just get rid of that energy. It will only linger and creative problems.
Aside from tossing out unused or broken items, consider having a garage sale or making a donation to a places such as a thrift store, or Salvation Army. It may take some doing, but invite some friends and family to help and make a party out of it.
For areas that are under construction or are in disrepair, keep them organized as well. Not only will this help with the energy but it will provide a safer environment for all who have to live around the space that is being renovated or repaired.
To further enhance the positive energy in your home, consider a House Blessing. House Blessings will increase the positive energy and foster a comfortable and tranquil home atmosphere. Many blessings can be facilitated with a clergy member. The most commonly requested type that I use is a Christian (Non-Denominational) House Cleansing and House Blessing. Again, the choice is up to my Client and in respect to their faith and preference.
Together, each one of these areas impact and interact with the other, creating positive and/or negative energy fields within the home. Each room should be considered to promote an overall healthier home environment.
Here’s to a healthy, happy, positive home!
Aromatherapy has existed in one form or another, for many years. From ancient times to current, the impact of scent on the human body and its senses, has played significance in status and culture. Many moons ago, perfumes and other body fragrances were initially developed to hide odor, but has now evolved into a billion dollar industry, needing little-to-no explanation.
Sell With Smell
The Real Estate industry was able to shed further insight on the practice of aromatherapy by what is referred to in the industry as “staging”. Staging involves focusing on visual and sensory aspects of appeal, to sell a home. Sensory elements include choice of wall color, furnishings and fragrance. After many studies, it has been recommended that agents and homeowners use the following scents as a guide to appeal to potential buyers: leather, coffee, pumpkin, nutmeg, cinnamon and fresh flowers. All of these aromas lend an emotional factor to the potential buyers and enhance the visual appeal of the property. Most interestingly, people tend to forget the role of fragrance, relative to personal health, both emotionally and physically.
The ability to use fragrance in a multitude of forms such as candles, wickless candles, sprays and oils, provides a wide array of means to healthily benefit from scent. I happen to have been a life-long collector of Yankee Candles, but after learning of their effects on the environment – what we breathe in – I have greatly limited my candle purchases. Much to my dismay, my father-in-law and husband (who own a commercial air conditioning business), described to me the process by which the smoke from one candle, clogs filters and in turn, is detrimental to the lungs and air quality.
Once they explained the cycle, I took note of the areas in which I had prior candle placement, and the black soot that seemed to collect around the vents on the ceiling. Yikes! Major bummer, but for someone such as myself, who loved to light candles for scent, this was something to consider; it was not worth polluting the air quality and suffocating my central air system, nor infiltrating the lungs of my family and I.
Falling back to my love for fragrance and aromatherapy, I began to rely more on “Essential Oils”. Essential Oils are fragrance oils derived from natural ingredients (i.e. sage, eucalyptus, lavender). Additionally, they are known for their healing properties. Essential Oils can be purchased in holistic shops, some pharmacies and ordered online. They may be blended, or consist of more than one ingredient and are typically sold in relatively small bottles. Some can be rather pricey.
Essential Oils are used in soaps, lotions, potpourri and may be used near an approved heat source such as on light bulbs, or oil burners. On a side note: essential oils need to be measured. Exposure to high amounts of an oil can and will, create an adverse reaction, and in some cases should not be used in conjunction with pregnant women, or people with skin sensitivity; always read and follow instructions for their use.
Oils can be used in combination to produce a number of desired effects ranging from invigorating, relaxing, spiritually clarifying and so forth. They may also be used in combination to provide relief from some everyday health ailments.
Listed below, are some of my favorite oils and their individual and combined effects:
Single Oil Significance
Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) – This is a great oil that will help better concentration resulting from fatigue. It also is used to recharge the physical body and spirit. *** Do not use this oil during pregnancy. It may cause skin irritation.
Cedar wood (Cedrus atlantica) – This is used to treat bodily aches and pain and also helps with congestion and clears breathing passages. Many cosmetic industries use this as a base, due to its oily nature.
Chamomile (Anthemis nobilis) – Wonderfully relaxing. It is known for its calming and soothing properties. It may be purchased in flower form as well, and in flower or tea form, makes a great bedtime drink.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum Nees, C verum, Laurus) – Believe it or not, cinnamon oil may be used as an antiseptic due to the cleansing and anti-inflammatory qualities of the plant and its oils. Traditionally, it is a fragrance that is used around the fall and winter holidays.
Clary Sage (Salvia sclarea) – This is perhaps, one of my favorite oils. It is a positive scent that also has soothing qualities. It is also an excellent muscle relaxant and used for cramps. Clary Sage also promotes sleep and dream state.
Eucalyptus (Organic Eucalyptus globulus) – This oil works very well for its antiseptic qualities and is a great relief for those suffering from colds or any type of congestion.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) – My grandmother was a huge fan of this and I can attest how wonderful ginger is relative digestive issues such as an upset stomach.
Jasmine (Jasminum Grandiflorum) – Awesome oil for helping with self-confidence, its relaxing properties and is also somewhat of an aphrodisiac.
Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia, L. officinalis, L. vera) – Lavender is a multipurpose oil that is spiritually uplifting, calming and great for muscle aches and pains.
Lemon (Citrus limonum) – Awesome oil with fresh, revitalizing properties. It also is good for cold and flu symptoms and may be used in conjunction with antiseptics and astringents.
Orange (Citrus sinensis) – Another oil that is spiritually uplifting, invigorating and also calming. Orange oil aids in digestive matters as well.
Patchouli (Pogostemon cablin, P. patchouli) – This is is known for its sensual properties. It is also soothing and has properties which can actually deter sleep.
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) – This oil is definitely something that energizes and is not recommended for use during the evening hours. Peppermint is used for relief of muscle pain and fatigue.
Tea Tree (Melaleuca alternifolia, M. linariifolia, M. uncintata) – Love Tea Tree oil for its antiseptic qualities. It also is used as an anti-viral and anti-fungal. Many lotions, shampoos and other body products are utilizing these properties and rightfully so; awesome!
Ylang Ylang (Cananga odorata) – This is a very strong oil that is used in a variety of ways. It can be used in stress reduction, and also is spiritually uplifting. Ylang Ylang is widely used in combination with other oils, depending upon the desired effect.
Spirituality: Frankincense, Spruce, Myrrh, Juniper & Sandalwood
Energy: Peppermint, Lemon & Frankincense
Stress Reduction: Grapefruit, Jasmine & Ylang Ylang
Anxiety: Lavender & Clary Sage
Confidence Boosting: Orange & Rosemary
Romance: Jasmine, Orange, Almond, Sandalwood & Ylang Ylang
Insomnia: Bergamot, Clary Sage & Chamomile
Depression: Rose, Sandalwood & Orange
Grief: Neroli, Rose & Sandalwood
Memory Enhancement: Basil, Rosemary & Cypress
Irritability: Lavender, Neroli & Chamomile
Celebration and/or Gratitude: Grapefruit, Ginger, Ylang Ylang, Bergamot, Frankincense
Panic Attack: Rose & Lavender
For Migraines & Headaches: Peppermint, Basil, Lemon & Lavender
Menstrual Cramps: Chamomile, Geranium, Lavender & Clary Sage
Muscle Pain & Tension: Peppermint, Clary Sage, Lavender & Chamomile
Coughs: Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Peppermint, Cinnamon & Cedarwood
Colds: Ginger, Basil, Juniper Berry, Orange & Rosewood
Flu and/or Sinus: Pine, Thyme, Lavender, Eucalyptus & Marjoram
These are just a sampling of blends. For specific measurements of each oil, conduct a Google search and you will find a variety of recipes. Follow the instructions carefully!
Aromatherapy is a fantastic and natural way to enhance your wellbeing. You can also conduct an online search to find various instructions to make aromatherapy hot/cold packs. Relative to hot/cold packs: I would strongly recommend using Flaxseed for the internal component in place of dried corn or beans. Flaxseed will better blend with, and retain the oils . Furthermore, it does not run as high of an overheating risk, as dried corn and beans tend to. Again, carefully follow the instructions and take care not overheat!
Aromatherapy is versatile and amazing. Considering studies have shown that even Real Estate professionals are part-taking in the benefits due to the impact of scent being a proven part of the selling equation, just think of the wellness enhancements that it can provide an individual.
Why wait? Try starting out with one or two oils, or perhaps a specific blend and see what happens. You just may be surprised!
Life is all about your response to its experience. Don’t let a bad experience bring you down; let your response to it lift you up and guide you on a positive and productive path.
Enjoy your Sunday!
And like salt-stained cheeks, once damp from tears having flowed from grief worn eyes,
wave tumbled and swept ‘way the shore with a force that fell ten thousand castles,
yet soon will roll the gentle tide taking great care to build new and beautiful memories from the wet sand;
just as every grain and pebble taken out to sea,
the human spirit never
but lingers before us
coming and going
passing up and down
flitting in and out
before our very eyes
yet to most
until a wave casts it
towards the shore
and it whispers