Wednesday, May 15, 2019

How Will You Celebrate National Love a Tree Day?

Your Soul Cafe: Conversations that Open Hearts and Inspire Actions
"Earth provides enough for every man's need, but not for every man's greed." ~Mahatma Gandhi

Did you know that Wednesday, May 16 is National Love a Tree Day? You’ve probably seen or even bought a bumper sticker that reads “Hug a tree.”

Seems silly and simple.

Yet there’s scientific proof of the emotional and physical benefits of being a tree hugger. Research shows that it’s the tree’s vibrational properties that heal those closest to them. Trees also talk if we are listening. Matthew Silverstone better explains the details in Blinded by Science

Japan enjoys over 62 "forest therapy" sites; the government takes being with and hugging trees very seriously.

Trees can even talk with one another and share information underground!

Consider the work of Dr. Bernie Krause, creator of Wild Sanctuary, who’s studied the soundscapes of many living organisms including plants and trees. He’s recorded these sounds and shares them in places like the American Museum of Natural History-Smithsonian and the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

Seems the original "tree huggers" date back to 1730 when hundreds of Hindu men and women were slaughtered while clinging to trees to protest their village's deforestation. A maharaja wanted the land cleared to build his palace. This intense love of trees later became a movement called tree satyagrahait was this passion that causes India's government to better manage their natural resources.

Even in my Florida backyard, 
some tree-loving unfolded. 

Can you imagine the 1920's scene in Dunedin, Florida when several women climbed into the arms of a giant, 150-year old live oak tree? They perched themselves on one large branch to prevent the tree's trip to the sawmill. (The city sought the tree's lumber to support its building boom.) 

Even then, greed sought to trump Mother Gaia, but not this time.

Members of the Dunedin Women's Club thought differently.

It’s no surprise to learn that the women in this charming town, founded by two Scotsmen, would honor their Celtic, ancestral roots and love of the Sacred Oak. 

Brava, ladies! You are Mother Earth's sHeroes!

Happy update: 
The 150+-year-old Florida live oak tree still lives!

Why blog about National Love a Tree Day?

As an author, I use tons of paper. I love the sensory feeling of hearing my pen move across the page. Maybe you do, too. I also now realize as a consumer, I use many paper products--tissues, napkins, paper towels, post its, and toilet paper.

It's time to now rethink my use of paper--a gift or unwilling gift--of the trees.

Perhaps I can find paper and journals made from trees that died naturally and weren’t harvested for the sawmill.

Perhaps I can find ways to use less paper.

Perhaps I can love and hug a tree today, tomorrow, and every day.
And you?
Blessed to feel the energy of this 500-year-old oak tree in Safety Harbor, FL near my home in St. Petersburg. Can you?

Free Paperless Resource Gifts for You. 
(No trees were harmed in their production.)
If you'd like to use or share memes like this with author quotes and creative writing prompts, please enjoy! Each one is brilliantly designed by my writing sister Michele True. (She's also my business partner with Eat, Pray, Write: Where Exploration & Expansion Intersect.) 
You can find more inspiration like this every day on our Facebook page.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Comfort for the Days After Notre Dame

Your Soul Café: Conversations that Open Hearts and Inspire Actions

Seeking comfort from the news about Notre Dame Cathedral during my Divine Dialogue Writing time, I asked, “What do I need to know for my best and highest good about yesterday’s events?”

The reply from the 
Sacred Traveler Oracle Cards: 
“Finding Sanctuary. Opening to your spiritual source.”

For hundreds of years, Notre Dame Cathedral offered sanctuary--the sacred space around the altar's tabernacle--to anyone at any time. The church doors stood open 365/24/7. 

Growing up, my devout parents and grandparents reminded me that if I was ever in trouble to find a Catholic Church as I would be safe there. You could also enter to rest, rejuvenate, and tune into your intuition, Higher Self, or spiritual whispers. 

Sadly, depending on where you live, this is no longer the practice as many Catholic Church doors remain locked after services.

The movie and book character Quasimodo flashed. 
I could hear the loveable hunchback shouting, 
“Sanctuary! Sanctuary! Sanctuary!” 
as the mob tried to remove him from his home of Notre Dame.

This memory also flashed: While attending St. Francis de Sales Parochial School in Riverside, CA, I often found sanctuary inside the adjoining Catholic church during recess or lunchtime; it offered a welcome and refreshing reprieve from playing dodge ball on the asphalt playground in Mohave desert-like temps!

Here as an elementary school student, I could...
Take a moment for reflection. 
Pause to say the "Hail Mary" or "Our Father" prayers. 
Sit in the dark silence hearing only the buffered noise of classmates playing outside.
Notre Dame, the "Heart of Paris," and place of my engagement in 1986.
To find sanctuary in my mind’s eye this morning, I close my eyes to remember sitting on a wooden bench in 1986 close to the main altar in Notre Dame Cathedral. It was the end of Saturday’s mass; parishioners and tourists streamed out as the cathedral's caretaker darted around turning off the overhead lights. 

The only light came from the many side altars where the statues of saints and apostles glowed from the rows of votive candles at their feet providing dim, mystical lighting.

It was a time of great love and hope as my boyfriend proposed and I accepted. These are the tender memories and positive feelings I seek to fill my heart and mind with moving forward--not the images of Notre Dame’s destruction appearing in newsfeeds.

If you are travel weary of life’s recent struggles, perhaps it is time to put down the emotional backpack this Holy Week. Try stepping off the path to find a temple, sanctuary, or any sacred space to reassess and renew. Take time to ponder what’s most important now to you on the journey.

Then, you might hear that "still, small voice"--all a part of finding sanctuary and comfort in these transformative and tumultuous times.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

How My Sister-sHero Showed Up!

Your Soul Cafe: Conversations that Open Hearts and Inspire Actions

"Sisters are fierce, fragile, and forever." ~Anon

After seven months of silence from my alma mater and those mentioned in September's blog post "Abuse, Betrayal, and Mean Girls at 65"I was done
All weekend, information trickled into newsfeeds about my college reunion and my "college sisters," triggering a tsunami of emotions. 

Today after being unwilling to speak about the lack of any resolution to a trolling, name-calling, and defaming situation in my college alumnae group, I posted this on Facebook: 

"It's heart-breaking to remove your undergraduate credentials from everywhere; happily I have two Masters' degrees. Silent abuse isn't allowed in my house." 

Removing words that tied me to the past and to a college that no longer empowered me, seemed like a proactive ritual that would help me let go and move on...

Natalie Goldberg's advice inspired today's post and the previous blog post "Abuse, Betrayal, and Mean Girls at 65." What's also been interesting and sad to see (or not see) are the women who I thought were my closest college sisters and their complete silence about my story which is a universal one. Conversely, college sisters who I hadn't heard from since our 1974 graduation showed up with keen insights and reflections! 

"Split open" with sadness, Facebook friends weighed in about today's post...and then, this is how my blood sister-sHero unexpectedly appeared:
Giving blood at Inova Hospital, VA.
"Cathy Raymond. Ahem, I'm the only woman who has the right and privilege to call you sister. Calling a group you've never met sisters waters that down. 

For perspective, you weren't betrayed by someone who loves, cares, and has your best interests in mind. 
You were trolled by an anonymous, gutless critic.

Some women don't address problems directly, but sideways or underhandedly. 
They lack confidence and power.
To correct what she thought was an incorrect use of the group page, she could have messaged you directly and contacted the group page administrator. Done.
What she did instead was to try to defame you in front of the group of women you've found supportive.

Hard to develop the skill of being truthful and considerate at the same time.
Perhaps you could teach more about writing from your power at the college? 
It's a poorly written lousy review of your website, not your writing which she didn't address.

Getting a bad review is the price we pay for putting ourselves out there, and the price most women are unwilling to we keep quiet.

I heard that some authors don't do their own social media for that reason. Hard to be sensitive enough to write creatively and yet not let meanspirited jabs get to us.

You provide a great transformative service for many women, but not all women it appears. 
Her loss.

I've found some Christians get scared by talk of angels, moon signs, and divination. I steer clear of those topics in conversations with them both to respect their boundaries and my unwillingness to open myself to ridicule and scorn or just even having to explain my views. 
Too wearisome.

I applaud that you share your unique perspective about life and living without censoring for "What would a Southern Baptist want to hear?" 
Keep going. 
The women who need your help will find you.

Looks like you've graduated from college a second time. 

Maybe it's not the place that it once was, a place you could express your unique God-given talents regardless of your religion. Alumnae pages are the best places to share your accomplishments. I hope the administration recognizes that. 

It's not like you are selling shampoo."

After reading the two Facebook posts, a heart sister suggested, 
"Your blood sister is awesome. 
If I were you, I would use her as a role model to compare any other women with whom you are considering letting in close. 
Your true sister is a keeper.
Copy that.

I love and thank you, Cathy Sue--my sis, my sHero!
Radiant healer, writer, teacher, and wise woman!

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Reflections from the Joys of Plans B, C, D, E and...

Your Soul Café: Conversations that Open Hearts and Inspire Actions
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” 
~John Lennon, lyrics from"Beautiful Boy"

To coincide with the auspicious celestial events of today--the Spring Equinox and New Moon--the original Plan A meant launching my first book today!

It's aslo the birthday of William Joseph Lelash aka "Bump Bump," my maternal grandfather and first spiritual teacher. A frustrated wannabe priest, he enjoyed giving me snippets of sermons about life and happiness.

A lover of roses, he'd be celebrating his 128 turn-around-the-sun. The sight and smell of roses connects me to his presence and inspired teachings that remain lovingly tucked away in my heart.

And "my" Plan A is not happening…yet.

Instead, Writing Medicine: The Must-Have Guide to Your Hero’s Journey to Inner Healing is waiting for her reveal later this year.

The alphabet of emotions to publicly share the launch date's change ranged from anger to sadness to feeling like a failure to trusting this is all in Divine Order. Guilt and shame joinded the emotional parade for disappointing family and friends, not to mention my publisher, editors, and Beta readers.

Embracing John Lennon’s wisdom, I can now reflect with gratitude on the past 11 months to see that the beauty of Plan B, and even Plans C, D, and E unfolded perfectly imperfect.

“Book” as I affectionately call her, released a tsunami of positive energy—all while immersed in the daily writing routine often spanning four to eight hours. For awhile, the possibilities of new plans remained unknown to me while sitting hunched over a computer in the same clothes with unwashed hair and a naked face. 

Book sent out her business card, attracting new opportunities that demanded my attention, energy, and action—and she willingly agreed to wait and delay her appearance and, not forever.

Plan B: Instead of finishing Book, a panel proposal for Writing Medicine, was selected from 1,700 submissions; the selection committee BELIEVED in its healing message and notified me of their acceptance by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

Affirming I'd be in Portland, I asked Michele True in April  2018 to take this photo while attending the AWP Conference, Tampa. The Law of Attraction works! 
Plan C: A week from today you’ll find me at AWP’s Annual CONFERENCE and BOOK FAIR in Portland, OR, the City of Roses. This gathering is North America’s largest literary event. Joining me are four writing sisters on the Writing Medicine panel--three of whom I’ve never met. Gratefully, they found me through the virtual ethers. They include Alexis Donkin (CA); Alicia Anabel Santos (NYC); Tawni Waters (NM) and; my writing sister and business partner, Michele True (FL).
The skyline of Portland, "City of Roses," with Mt. Hood keeping a watchful eye.
Plan D: Who knows what exciting plans might invite DIVINE ORDER in a week with the literary crush of 10,000 writers, authors, agents, publishers, and lovers of all things written?! I’m not planning anything other than serving as the panel’s moderator and a presenter. Just being me is enough to show up as an Ambassador of St. Petersburg and possibilities!

Hilltop view of Arcidosso, Tuscany, the medieval village and site of our retreat and Michele's ancestral home.
PLAN E: Finally, there’s the EAT, Pray, Write: Women’sTuscan Writing Retreat. In November 2018, Michele announced, “My husband and I are buying a house in Tuscany so I can’t be here next month (December)…and of course, we’ll have to plan a writing retreat…” 

Her thoughts became a dream, became actions, and became real. Yes...
"Thoughts are things. Make them good ones." 
~Mike Dooley
We co-created and launched the writing retreat on February 2. Thrilled, we’re delighted to announce that all 13 sacred spaces are filled with a waitlist. Plans are percolating for more retreats in 2020 to places like Bali, Costa Rica, and of course Italy. Thanks to this new awareness and appreciation, it’s exciting to know and trust that these plans, too, could change for different and better Plans F, G, H and...

Thank goodness for the 26 letters of the alphabet and the joy-full gifts from 
Plans B, C, D & E! 

Let's all remember...

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Ways to Practice the Art of Alchemical Gratitude

Your Soul Café: Conversations that Open Hearts and Inspire Actions

Thankfulness is modern alchemy; it can yield happiness, grace, and peace beyond imagination.” ~Denise Linn, Sacred Traveler Oracle 

An author's best friend, the Visual Thesaurus, defines alchemy as “interpersonal chemistry; the way two people relate to one another.” This could also mean how you relate to yourself, the shadow and light parts, the yin and yang. And an active, daily practice of gratitude becomes the glue, bridge, and path that does indeed “yield happiness…beyond imagination.”

To guide you on your path, Paulo Coelho, mega-bestselling author of The Alchemist, distills his wisdom into 10 Rules for Success. 

Which ones do you practice in your life?

The art of alchemical gratitude is to be thankful for the times you’re practicing these ten rules and when you are not—that’s the demonstration of your true acceptance of what is instead of what could or should have been. Grace is the other word you are demonstrating.

Today’s Sacred Traveler oracle card, Gratitude and Grace reminds you how:

“Through gratitude, joy expands. The secret to expanding joy is to cherish the preciousness of life and everything and everyone around you. It’s simple, easy, and so very powerful. Be grateful for as much as you can."

Also consider these three gentle reminders:
1) Allow gratitude to flood you at every moment for everything and everyone—it’s easy to appreciate hugs, awards, compliments, and bestselling book statistics. It’s the practice of appreciating the haters, doubters, and naysayers when jealousy and envy seek to creep in and erode your inner peace. Be appreciative you have these contrasting energies in your life!

2) Regardless of where you are,“nothing is ever as good or as bad as it seems.” Breathe slowly until the outer circumstances change as they will. Promise. Be thankful for the opportunity.

3) Conflict can be the genesis of change and creativity if you fearlessly walk that path and move beyond. Little whisps of gratitude can become larger, fluffy clouds of appreciation. Be grateful for the details.

As Denise Linn gently reminds, “Your entire life can transform when you take time to fully, deeply, and profoundly allow the grace of gratitude to fill you.”
May you make and take the time.

Shout Outs!
Your success is everyone's success to be grateful for...

Already climbing the Amazon success charts, enjoy this just-relased treasure by sister writer and author, Lisa Hutchinson.


Michele True, my friend and writing sister, and I are appreciating the joy of hosting the Eat, Pray, Write: Women’s Tuscan Writing Retreat from September 13-18just two of the 13 sacred spaces remain
Is Italy on your Wish List? Perhaps Arcidosso, our retreat site and ancient hilltop village, will provide you the time to fulfill this dream, practice gratitude, and appreciate life in all its detailed splendor!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

11 Ways to Choose Happiness Over Suffering

Your Soul Cafe: Conversations that Open Hearts and Inspire Actions
"I'm choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I'm making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises." ~Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love

Isn’t it odd that a martyred Roman Catholic priest who suffered for his faith would now symbolize one of the world’s greatest celebrations of love?! ’Tis a puzzlement why the name of the celibate Saint Valentine--born AD 269, Terni, Italy and died 269 AD, Rome--is synonymous with lovers and the expressions of affection and love. According to the National Retail Federation, these loving expressions will generate $20.7 billion (that's a "b") to the American economy!

Known mostly through legends, this mysterious character's painful death came because he tried to help others escape the cruel life of Roman prisons. Another more romantic story suggests that the-then imprisoned Valentine sent the first “valentine” greeting to a girl, perhaps the jailor’s daughter, after falling in love with her, and signed it, “From your Valentine.”

Yes, the truth remains as dark as any chocolate—but the love story’s appeal of this heroic, romantic man rippled out and landed in the Middle Ages where St. Valentine became a popular saint in England and France. 
The rest is history.

What rings true is that as the Catholic Patron Saint of Lovers, Valentine is associated with the virtue of love--the reason for life with all two and four-footed creatures. It is is through the expression and acceptance of love, that everyone and everything enjoys the delirium of expanded health, wealth, and happiness--including an affair with pizza!

Yes, Carl Sagan, the famous American author and cosmologist, calls us “star stuff’ and we are much more…
We are love.
You are love.
I am love.

We are designed for happiness in all its forms and expressions.

Saint Valentine and Elizabeth Gilbert might both agree with the Sacred Traveler Oracle message that appeared this morning: 
Five Ways to Choose Passion and Pleasure: 
 “Savor your life and find joy in the moment. Live deliciously. Love often and fully. Cherish your friendships. Fill your life with the people, experiences, and places that you give you delight and joy…”

Five More Ways for You, the Hero, to choose happiness:
* Release by remembering, “When the horse is dead, get off!”
* Write yourself a pink permission slip to be happy and; a love letter with 7 things you appreciate about yourself.
* Focus on what’s now splendiferous instead of being caught up in the dance of anger of drama.
* Allow your senses to be satiated and saturated!
Perhaps you heard, “I love you to the moon and back and, I love me to the moon and back!" or these whispers from Elizabeth Gilbert...

And perhaps, one final way to choose happiness...
Celebrating Passion and Pleasure!
Michele True, my friend and writing sister, and I are savoring the yet-to-come pleasure to host the Eat, Pray, Write: Women’s Tuscan Writing Retreat from September 13-18. Passionately launched 10 days ago, the retreat is now 76% filled—just three of the 13 sacred spaces remain with two pending possibilities!
Is Italy on your Wish List? Perhaps Arcidosso, our retreat site and ancient hilltop village in Tuscany, will provide you the sacred envelope of time to fulfill this dream, enjoy the moment, live deliciously, and more...

To learn more about starting your new year over, check out my
19-Point Checklist: Create a Personal Book Title & Vision 
Your 2019 Hero's Journey
Download my free gift --no email required!

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Reflections from the Joys of Plans B, C, D, E and...

Your Soul Café: Conversations that Open Hearts and Inspire Actions “ Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans ...