Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Becoming Mindful



Mindfulness  = awareness….. Becoming aware of ourselves, our thoughts, our grace and love for self and others.
If you haven’t heard, being “mindful” is “in”! It’s not your grandmother telling you to mind your manners or your father telling you to mind his line of vision to the TV screen.  This mindfulness is an amazing concept brought about by author  Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn. His work, and others, can be found archived at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Mass. Medical School.
Some mindful links and resources :
Mindful - a wonderful site on learning to be mindful at work, in our relationships and within….
Omega Institute - offers a variety of mindful events and meditations year-long

For more info on these links to mindfulness visit The Happy Healer.



Sunday, September 4, 2011

Seeing Beauty....



Hooray for photos! and the love of photography! Check out my guest blog at Ari Hunter's "See Beauty" posts on her site :)

She's SO talented and has some amazing photo work!!!!

Enjoy!


Thursday, September 1, 2011

we're moving...



HI there! sorry it's been a while, but,  I've moved! 
Please continue to follow me at:


I've got lots of new links and videos to check out too!
I'm also working on an "energy healing kit" - available later this year... be sure to follow to get your free kit :)

I've also added a photo blog!!! www.animafoto.wordpress.com


thanks for following!

-Tara


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Fairies & Tales

As a teacher, and coach, I often, unknowingly, add a bit of “therapy” into my lessons. Working with teenagers can be a challenge, but, it can also be very rewarding, and a great learning opportunity too.
I was sort of  “forced” to revisit the tale of Pinocchio this week with my students. Carlo Collodi, the author of the original “Pinocchio,” knew in 1881 about the “tales” coming from the mouthes of babes. His story is well versed by almost every child today. When asked “what’s Pinocchio about?,” students will usually says “long noses and lies.” Yes, they know the basic concept and revisiting their (not so long-ago childhood) isn’t something they seem to enjoy too much either.
“Why would Pinocchio fall for that?,” they ask as they watch him dig into the groud to plant gold coins. “That’s absurd! Who would fall for that?” they continue. So, I stop the DVD and ask “Were you 5 yrs old once? Would YOU have ‘fallen’ for that joke from the cat and the fox?” They stop and quickly scan back 10 or so years, “oh, yeah, I see.”
And they do see, but how quickly we forget! Is it not fun to watch a childhood film when you’re 15 or 16? My years of experience have shown that answer is a “no, it’s not so fun.” But why? Answers?:
“We’re not babies any more.” – “That’s so old!” – “We GET it already!” – “This is so boring.” etc…. And yes, while some of that may just be true for a teenager, I ask them to take it a step further, then answer this: “If this were true (blue fairies, talking puppets, etc.)  wouldn’t it be a fun place to live?”  I usually get boughts of silence or an occassional “ok, she’s gone over the edge now!” remark. But I remind them that at 4, 5, even 6 yrs of age, they did live in the fairy tale world and it was wonderful. The fairies were beautiful and the puppets were friends. Talking animals and bugs were fantastic! (the cricket is my favorite in Collodi’s tale – I equate him to a sort of Buddha-Jedi Master!)
It’s a world we all were familiar with – at one time. We let that go as we allow ourselves to believe our thoughts, fed to us by others, and hence, let go of our fairy tale world. It doesn’t mean that world can’t be revisited. Maybe you remember fewer fairies and more butterflies. Maybe the childhood world you recall was full of playmates and friends, animals and waterfalls. But know that , at one point, this happy place did exist and we just allowed ourselves to forget it and leave it behind.
If you take this literally, good. If not, allow yourself to find a quiet time each day and meditate on this idea. Some Reiki Masters and therapists call it “Inner Child” work – it is, and it’s not.  This work, this type of meditating will bring you to your happiest childhood moments and surroundings. It may take some time, and you may not get there immediately but don’t give up. Work on meditating for just a few minutes if you’re new to this, then, gradually, extend the amount of time. Write down some of the memories that come to you after you’re done meditating. If you still find it difficult to locate your land of fairies, think of a favorite color or simple object as you meditate. 
Enjoy and allow the flow of visions to move through you.

Below are a few FairyTale Etsy finds! :
                                          Afterdark












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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Building Blocks

Keeping it short, but sweet, for today... I like building blocks - for all ages. I tell my students (adults and teens) to look at learning as building blocks - always use what you've learned to build with, and keep building.
My love for photos follows the "building block" theory too - literally. I love to edit photos and "play" - for me, it's pure therapy! So, recently I took a few "blah" photos and made blocks with them. = a lot of fun and a few new, more lively, images.
If you're finding yourself a bit "stuck" - think in terms of building blocks. Jog your memory and use what you know, build on top of that and soon enough you'll find your therapy, your fun and lots of other interesting moments abound!







And, of course, some Etsy "block" finds:









Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fear Not!


If I had to pick one phrase from my childhood to have TRULY learned, it would be “don’t be afraid…”  Try it, pick something you just wish you had listened to years ago.
My selection comes from the fact that now, so many years later, I TRULY understand what fear is capable of, and how fear can hold a person, a community, a nation, back – way back.
Intuitive diagnostics on humans show that fear (and anger, also, fear-based), is the primary cause of so much of our daily stress and tension. Just listen to your body for stress, you know what hurts and where. But, why? Why does it TRULY hurt? If you’re honest with yourself, you may find that a lot of your aches and pains, from stress, originate in fear.
Fear of what? I’m not afraid of anything. I’m not 4 years old any more. No, you’re not 4 any more, but some of the fears that you have carried with you may stem from when you were 4, or 6 or 10 years of age. Fear of not having enough, fear of not being enough, fear of disappointing someone, fear of making a mistake – they’re all fears we’ve encountered, but we may just not have dealt with them when we did first encounter them, and ever since, we’ve carried them with us.
Good news! You don’t have to do that any more. Confront your fears. Sit quietly each day, meditate – it’s fear medicine. A potent potion which will, in time, help put your fears to rest. As you meditate pay attention to any aches, pains you may feel. You may want to journal what you find as well. After discovering what fears may be ailing you, confront them – head on. Otherwise, they will continue to cause you distress.
There are two wonderful resources that can help you identify your pains with your fears: 1. Louise Hay Heal Your Body A-Z  and 2. Deborah King and her “Truth Heals Chakra Chart.”  There are , of course, many other authors and teachers on this subject, however, I’ve found these two to be most helpful for my understanding of fear and the body’s responses.
If meditation isn’t something you have tried before, there’s no time like the present! And speaking of which, the present is all we have. Right now, that’s it. So, what a great time to get rid of the fears you’ve been holding on to. They don’t serve you now.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

Get Running!


I took, what felt like, my first "real" run yesterday. It was the first beautiful day after weeks, no, months, of snow and ice. Everyone must have felt the same way, there were lots of runners and joggers in the park with me.
This was a liberating kind of run, and when I was done, I could tell that there was a lot more to what I had just done than put some sneakers on.
I can't remember ever loving running. In fact, I've despised it, for a long, long time. At the same time, I've admired all of those people I see on the roads, running with such grace. I love being outside, and I've wanted to run like them, but it just was a "no" - in my mind -always. Then, the first nice day comes about and there I am, SO excited to hit the blacktop. What happened? I still don't know the exact trigger, but what I do know is that little 45 minute run was one of the best things I've felt in a long time. I felt every muscle in my body, every nerve, and it was amazing. The sensation was overwhelming.
My friends encouraged me to use one of the new applications to start into my new-found mysterious torture, and they were SO right. Having a little "trainer" on my Ipod was exactly what I needed. Without my music, the beauty of the park and that little trainer's voice, I don't know that I would have been able to finish the first day's training.
After 45 minutes I was done, I was sweating a bit, my face was bright red and I was out of breathe. I felt like jello. But I wanted to keep moving, so I just kept walking. I cried and laughed and thanked every part of my body for helping me complete my first day of a "real" run.
Truth be told, after all of these years, I can run. I just told myself that I didn't want to, that I wasn't good at it and despised it - that's that the part that held me back, my own mind. Of course, I won't say this was easy. Yes, I can walk a good 10 miles if I want to -and I love it. But running, well, it's going to take some time. I did love how it made me feel. I can't wait to hit the road again tomorrow. Looking forward to the pain, and proving my thoughts wrong.
Ps - did I mention my first 5K is in May?  :)

A few of my Etsy finds for the running theme :)











Friday, February 11, 2011

Sick and Listening...



For most of us, getting sick isn't something we want, nor look forward to. I certainly don't enjoy being sick, but just recently have discovered that sickness is a tool, something I need to look at and use, evaluate.
By no means am I a medical doctor and I don't profess to use these techniques to simply get better and move on. If you are ill and not getting better, yes, go and seek a doctor's assistance. I do seek the help of doctors when I understand that there is a necessity to do so.
Today, for instance, I have a full blown cold. It's not a lot of fun. I went to work, and probably shouldn't have. However, when I came home, I took some time to evaluate just how I was feeling. Quietly, I meditate and reach into each part of my body by simply placing my thought on each part of my body, starting with my feet and working my way up. What hurts? Where , exactly? What is it that I'm feeling? Where is there tension? I go into organs as well. If something doesn't hurt I simply thank it for being a healthy , functioning part of my body. Where I do find pain, I ask myself why that pain may be there. If I get an answer, I accept it. If I don't, I accept that as well and move on.
Fighting a cold or the flu isn't going to get me anywhere. My body is talking to me and I need to cooperate, not fight. I'm not going to starve my body of anything - including the attention it needs and is asking of from me. In fact, the more attention I pay to each part of my body the more relaxed and less pain I feel. It's my body's way of thanking me for recognizing the signals.
"Rest," I hear as complete my self evaluation. I'm bad a resting. I sleep at night, but that's not always enough. I do involve myself in a lot of activities at work and with my family, as well as for other jobs I hold. At times, it may just be too much. "Rest," should probably be tattooed on my arm or leg somewhere as a daily reminder - I NEED to rest. I accept it.
Know yourself. I know my diet, at times, suffers. I give in to a tasty morsel or two here and there and allow myself to enjoy them. There is nothing wrong with enjoying something REALLY delicious (and a bit "not so healthy") every so often - as long as it's just that - every so often. And I make sure that my REALLY delicious foods are worth it. But lately, I've noticed that the amounts of sugar in foods are absurd, not just ridiculous, but absurd. I've known this, but ignored it. My body isn't ignoring it though, it's telling me exactly what it thinks. I listen and accept it.
And now? Am I "cured?" Well, depends on how you look at it. I do feel less pain, but I am still stuffy and sneezing, etc. I tell my body that I understand, I love it and accept the "dis-ease" that is taking place. I thank it for allowing me this opportunity. After this, I do not give it more attention, I just simply make use of the help it has offered me.
The self evaluation exercise is simple, and takes anywhere from 10-20 minutes to complete. If you've never meditated before, you could start with a shorter version of this and scan, or evaluate your body for just 5-10 minutes, but do not rush. You can always do these self evaluations when you are feeling well too.
It's important to listen to what our bodies are telling us. It's also amazing just how much information we can obtain if we simply get quiet and listen within.
Be well.

And here are a few of my Etsy finds to make me feel better too! :)









Thursday, February 10, 2011

Photos at a Glance...



Photo Magic

One of my favorite past times (soon becoming "all time!") is photography. I have the fortune of having some wonderful equiptment to use for myhobby/work, but, it's not always a necessity. Any camera will do. In fact, I think I use my Iphone quite a bit for a quick photo opp here and there! There are some very good camera phones out there these days. That's the magic of a good photo - it comes out perfect with just about any camera!
Photos can tell so much about a person, a place, as well as the person who is the photographer. I've learned a lot about me in just the past few years that photography has entered my life and become more than just a hobby. I keep a little journal of my findings as I take photos and I have discovered that it helps to have some "notes" to refer back to from time to time.
The other part I love about photography is editing! There are so many wonderful software packages out there, and yes, Adobe is a favorite. But there are lots of others. Pixelmator is great for a Mac, a downsized version of Photoshop. There are online sources like SmugMug and Photobucket that are also great resources. I do like the way Picassaworks too! Yes, I could go on and on about resources, but everyone finds what they're comfy with first and goes from there. I use a combination, that's just my "style." I used to enjoy creating collages, and that's still my "way" - piecing things together - I love it!
So, for the practicing photographer, or the hobby photographer, here's a little daily practice. I have used this practice for a few months now and find it quite effective. Edit it and alter it to make it fit your needs and styles. Just keep clicking - and learning!
Daily Practice: - Play every day. Click and download at least 1-5 photos a day, at least.
-Edit away! Use your favorite software to edit your work, play with it and have fun.
-Share it. Find family and friends who can take a peek at your work. Be open to critiques and use it. I love when people give me ideas and critiques, my work gets ten times better.
-It's raining , it's snowing - GO OUTSIDE! Yes, you are like the postman - get outside and discover an amazing world full of photo opps!
-No faces. If you're all about people, your kids, your friends - stop. Just for a day take photos you wouldn't normally take. Vice versa if you're all about scenery, etc. What's it like? How do you feel? What do you think of your results?
-Journal it. Take note of your photos and your feelings. What do you find? Write it down. Keep notes with your photos (online or in a book). Refer to your journal each week to discover differences and similarities.
Get clicking!


A few Etsy Photo Finds! >>>>>







Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pet Therapy All Around


I've always been "mom" to one canine or another. For some time, I was also a "horse mom," "cat mom" and even "rodent mom." Animals have always been a part of my life. I wouldn't have it any other way. My husband shares my philosophy, and maybe that's why we have five dogs and two cockatoos.
As a pet mom I've learned so much - about myself and them. My dogs, and other animals, have ways of communicating that aren't always easily understood by everyone else. However, more recently, I've made a great discovery. It's nothing new, but it's something that I understand a lot better now. The fact is that everyone CAN understand how any animal communicates, you just have to pay attention. Look at them, what are they telling you? Listen. Watch them. Observe with all of your senses. 
By simply allowing yourself to find the quiet, even with the ferocious barking of the chiuhaha, you can find a source of communication. It may not be the "norm," but it's there - and amazing. 
As you may already know, show fear and get fear. Any animal can sense fear, and they're fear is "fight or flight," - some dogs will become aggressive while others may flee, if they sense fear. 
The other day we took my daughter to the zoo. There's a wonderful bear exhibit there. They have lots of space and it's a beautiful park for them. There's also a large plexi-glass door where you can stand and watch them. The two bears were simply playing with some food and snow. It was beautiful to see them so close up, just a few inches of plexi-glass away! The three of us stood and watched in awe. It was truly beautiful. I could almost feel their calm and playful energy. In came a couple who also wanted to observe them. They had two small children. The two bears quickly moved in new directions and left their cozy  area by the window/door. After a bit, the family left, the bears returned and we continued to observe and watch in awe, and fall in love with them. 
My daughter is three, and children, in particular, have a very keen  sense of energy when it comes to animals. Animals, of course, feel this too. Our bear friends understood our calm and loving energy. They also understood the frantic energy of the other family who entered and so, they moved along. It doesn't mean that this other family was running around and banging on the plexi-glass door - they weren't. In fact, they "appeared" to be observing the bears just like we were, but their energy was sending different signals.
For those who have never had pets, it's important to learn and understand how animals behave, but, at the same time, it's also quite simple. I like to think of it like this: you get what you give. Does it mean I'd go out and hug a bear in that zoo? NO way! I'm not nuts! What it does mean is that my calming energy will allow that bear to remain doing what he wants to do and be where he wants to be. It means I can look at my 11 yr old terrier mix and know that he's aging and getting a little confused and needs more patience from us. It means I can hold Walter, our 4 yr old cockatoo and know he just wants some new words to learn, something to challenge him.
I've owned animals for over 30 years, well, I've been an "animal mom" for over 30 years.. It's taken the better part of 20+ years to get to this understanding. It's worth it too.  There truly is more out there than just a yippy little Yorkie. They're saying something. That quiet little snake is saying something. Allow yourself to listen and watch, you'll be amazed at what you hear and feel. You'll learn something about yourself, and your pet, you may have never known. 

Here are a few "family shots" (with the exception, of course, of the wolf and bears :) 


our bear friends 




Mable

hugs!


and some Etsy pet finds:











Monday, February 7, 2011

Visions


I was eight when I made my first vision board, but, I didn't call it that back then. At that time it was called something like a :"Cut out magazine pictures and glue them to a poster because it's rainy and I want to do something fun" board.

As I move closer to finding my purpose, I find that the vision board at age 8 wasn't such a bad "rainy day" activity. I was a clever kid! A vision board is something I'm creating to help remind me of how things come together. It's a tool that has been wides-spread and used for ages, in helping those not just find purpose but get closer to finding out more of themselves.

"So, I just pick out what I want and put it on a poster?," clients ask. "Well, yes, I mean, no, not really," I answer. It's more than just sticking some glue to a picture of a Porsche and calling it a day.

My pictures represent things I'd like to enter into my life. Will an Olive green Jeep Wrangler Unlimited or a Silver Range Rover just show up after taping some pics to my frig? Um, no, not right away.
There are lots of books and programs on the law of attraction, and, like many, I "fell" for them, but that was short-lived. Though they are good ideas, and many do ask that you create a vision board, many authors forget to let their audience know that this "thing" that they want for, is just that. There should be not attachment or "wanting." There must also be a feeling, an awareness of self. It's impossible to get your Jeep when you feel undeserving of it. The mansion by the sea isn't on it's way when you can't even fathom what it is, or question constantly: "sure, I deserve it but I just can't afford it." - nope, not happening.

"But how can I want something but not want for it," I'm asked. "Well, it's a matter of finding a position of acceptance within yourself, aligning yourself." I reply.

Meaning> I would LOVE the kitchen I spotted in a magazine last year. Would it fit the home I'm living in now? No, not at all. So, why do I have it on my board. Because I like it, because it will fit my life one day and I can like nice things whenever I want. Heck, isn't it better to like nice things than think of clutter, anxious feelings and other "stuff"!??? 

Yes, there are things I'd like to see show up in my life sooner than later, and, if they're meant to, they will. I have a deep knowing, an firm understanding that these things will be there when they are supposed to be. I don't "long" for my Olive Jeep or Silver Ranger Rover, I just know that when they are due to come along, they will. And, for now, they go on my vision board (aka: vision list).

Looking into the Law of Attraction is, of course, quite interesting. There are so many authors that have such convincing programs, books, sites, etc. It's not a bad thing to follow them, but just know that there's more to it than just saying "This WILL be mine!". You need to be certain that you feel no attachment to that thing. (ie. "I can live without it.") You need to be clear and present in your thoughts. You, yourself, also need to be clear. That is, meditating and visualizing will also help. Of course there are whole blogs, books and sites just on these theories alone. But daily meditating is SO important.

Back to Vision Boards. They're easy to assemble and can certainly change in time. You can add to them and edit them as needed. Just be sure to actually look at them each day. Visualizing what you want is a PART of the law of attraction. As most humans, visual images tend to remain in our minds longer, therefore, vision boards do help with this work. 

How to:
-Find a poster board to fit an area where you can hang it up. You may also want to use a cork board or cork squares on a wall where you can change your pictures more easily and frequently.
-Start cutting up! Gather pics from your favorite magazines, online, drawings or photos you have taken and assemble them on your board.
-You may also want to cut out words or letters , even numbers, that have a meaning for your board as well.
-Place your board in a serene area where you can gaze at it regularly. You may want to have it in front of you after meditating.
-Change and edit your board as needed.
-Enjoy

Don't forget - this isn't the only step in gaining a better understanding of self. Practicing meditation is very important. Being aware and aligning yourself is also quite helpful, and usually comes about with practicing meditation. See a pattern?

Here are some links that may be helpful in this process:
Sounds True







Enjoy the journey - one vision at a time...











Saturday, February 5, 2011

Making A Daily Practice, the Photo Way...

Hip Pics

Two years ago, I got my first Iphone, and nothing has been the same ever since. No, really, I take this little camera out so fast my husband gets whiplash just trying to turn and not get caught in 18 frames of Hip Pics!
I LOVE photography and this little camera can do quite a number with photos - like REALLY fun stuff with photos! So, I quickly found the Hipstamatic app and haven't stopped playing with it since. You can play with frames and lens, there are so many possibilities. If you're not into vintage or Lomo or Helga, it's not for you, but if you're up for something "old school" this is a great find. Of course, there are a lot of other camera apps that I also use and can't live without! I probably use 5 or 6 of them almost daily. I have a page and folder full of these little treasures - and it's best to literally "play" with them as much as possible and see which ones work for you and your style of work.
Log on to ITunes or take a look and google some of the apps for IPhones, there are SO many. Reading reviews can be very helpful too - prior to making your purchases. It's best to go with apps that have been reviewed and are given 3 1/2-5 stars, they do make a difference.
A few of my Hipsta photos are shown here. There are a few others done with some other Iphone images and apps (Best Camera and PhotoBrush are also quite nice). If you're into decorating and editing your photos try apps like the PhotoShop app or RetroCamera and Photofunia - all of which are a lot of fun. You'll never be bored, that's for sure. You may even start to investigate photography a little more, and find a few new interests... You may even want to pick up the pro edition of PhotoShop for your own computer and expand your love for photos and the arts. Yes, just a little fun can expand your creative thinking in SO many ways!
Daily practice: (If, of course, you have an Iphone) start to play with your camera and a few of the photo apps - take a few shots of your office, your dog, your fish, your new shoes! Edit away. Use the photo with any of your new apps and test out new finishes. Repeat daily. After all, it's always a good idea to put a little "fun & play" into your every day.
A few Etsy finds and items from my Iphone Photo Collection: