Sunday, December 30, 2012

Still Crazy After All These Years? Not!

This is one of my reader's favorite blog posts from the past. I hope you enjoy it.

I recently reconnected with an old friend of mine from high school. Sandy was the most talented cartoonist I ever met. We have made plans to break bread and crack jokes. I’m definitely looking forward to catching up with her. However, in our emails she referred to me as “the crazy Sally Marks.”

In the past when I went to my high school reunions, a few folks described me in a similar fashion - crazy. Some stories I remember with embarrassment. Other tales I don’t remember at all, but the essence of the plot seems like something I would’ve done. I want to keep the blog g-rated, so I will not go into my misspent youth, but I can tell you that as I retell these stories to my friends, we double over in laughter.

So, I ask myself, what happened to that crazy girl? Why am I sitting in front of my computer on New Year’s Eve trying to come up with something to write on my blog instead of painting the town?

For starters, if I write I won’t fall asleep before midnight. I’m looking forward to 2013 and I want to usher it in with a smile and a cheer. It hasn’t been an easy year for nearly everyone I know. People have lost jobs and homes. Good friends of mine lost their son. Another dear friend just lost her husband.

However, a new year awaits. As a Buddhist, I know (at least theoretically) that all things are transient. We cannot count on external things to bring us happiness. This includes money, power, lovers, children, success or status. All of those things can disappear in an instant. And this year, I, as well as others, experienced the loss of some of these cherished things firsthand.

However, there is one thing I am taking with me to the new decade. Hope. Hope for a better tomorrow, as well as the determination to do my part to bring a little light to the world. For a lot of my life I tried to shed a little happiness through humor. I did a few wild and silly things, told countless jokes and stories and wrote comedic scripts.

A few things have changed.

Frankly, I’m not as funny as I used to be. I tell people “I’m funny on paper, but I’m not that humorous in person.” When I go to a party I’d rather engage someone in an earnest dialogue than stand on a table with a lampshade on my head. When I look in the mirror I’m still astounded that the image reflected back to me is not a skinny, goofy and animated, young woman, but a middle-aged grandma who needs to exercise, pay more attention to what she eats, and needs a cup of coffee and a shot of liquid vitamins to kick into second gear. I am not the same crazy Sally Marks I once was.

And that’s okay.

As much as we might want things to stay the same, our lives, our country and our universe are constantly changing. It does no good to pine away about things in the past. We can cherish good memories and show appreciation for our blessings. But we cannot be assured that those blessings will always be with us. However, we can keep the light of hope in our hearts and constantly challenge ourselves to work toward a better future. As I write this I am one hour away from a new year, a new decade and new hope for tomorrow.

I’m not partying this New Year’s Eve. My spouse is working and I am home alone. But, I am doing exactly what I want to do, writing something that I hope will inspire someone. Maybe that sounds crazy. Hmmm. I guess I haven’t changed as much as I thought. I may be older, fatter, and hopefully wiser, but deep down, and in my own special way, I’m still that “crazy Sally Marks.”

Have a happy, healthy, prosperous and loving New Year.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Deck the Halls with Kindness

We recently moved back to Arizona after spending nearly a year in Port Angeles, WA. On the trip back we snuck in front of a snow storm and skated through Los Angeles before a small earth quake hit. I always say a few extra prayers whenever I travel. I also concentrate on positive thoughts as much as possible and try to envision a protective shield of white light around the vehicle we are driving.

Sometimes it can be challenging to focus on positive events, especially when on the road. When folks are enclosed in the anonymity of their own cars and trucks, it seems it is easier to leave their brain and courtesy on their doorstep.

While it may SEEM true that crazy drivers outnumber their safe and courteous counterparts, it is merely an illusion. The problem is we are geared to dwell on the negative and ignore the happy and uneventful. We curse the driver who cuts us off, but quickly forget the kind folks who wave us into their lane ahead of them or slow down or change lanes to allow us to merge onto the freeway.

Years ago I remember a coworker, Don Powell, gave me his insights into merging safely on the road. He said when he was barreling down the street, if a driver turned on their turn signal and made eye contact in a tacit request to enter his lane, he always waved them on. If they tried to force their way in, he was not as kind.

I have found the same thing is true in life. When we show courtesy and kindness, we increase the chances someone will do the same for us and others. I like to do this in the grocery store. If I’m standing in line and I see someone with only a couple of items, I always allow them to go ahead of me. I do the same thing when someone has a cranky baby or toddler. That is a courtesy to everyone within sight, hearing or scent of the unhappy tot.

Recently we attended a pre-holiday Christmas event. CB’s family does a white elephant Christmas exchange. While one or two items are decent gifts, most are silly things such as a screaming monkey, a whoopee cushion or a beat-up hat that comes back year after year with added decorations that depict the former owner’s interests or vocation.

CB’s sister, Lisa, hosts this annual event. Most of the siblings are grandparents now. This year I asked if I could bring my two granddaughters, Rosannah (Zanna) now age 5 and Briannah (Bree) age 3. This is how they looked a couple years ago.

This year they would be joining our great nieces and nephews that include: Xander, age 1, Hunter, 3, Meeka, 6, Zeke, 7, Annabelle, 9 and Kylie, 10.
Both Zanna and Bree remembered Hunter from an earlier gathering (he’s the little boy who not only OWNS a lot of toy cars, he SHARES them as well.) However, Meeka, who lives out of town, seemed a little nervous by this gathering of noisy relatives. I whispered to Zanna to try to make friends with her step cousin.

My affable granddaughter quickly complied with my request. Meeka seemed a bit apprehensive at first, but then told Rosannah and Briannah they could sit next to her if they wanted to do so. Before you know it they were fast friends.
We can learn a lot about this little interaction. Folks may seem unkind, but really they might be too shy or nervous to make the first overture toward a friendly encounter. While it is always a possibility that a kind gesture could be scorned, more often than not, it will be met with relief and gratitude.

The holiday season is a perfect time to initiate kindness. Also, I hope you can take a moment to sing some of your favorite Christmas carols. I like this one because even if you forget the lyrics, you can belt out the two sounds “fa” and “la” and sing with the best of them. To make things easier, here are the lyrics to the old Welch tune, Deck the Halls.

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Tis the season to be jolly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Don we now our gay apparel,
Fa la la, la la la, la la la.
Troll the ancient Yule tide carol,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
See the blazing Yule before us,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Follow me in merry measure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
While I tell of Yule tide treasure,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Fast away the old year passes,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Sing we joyous, all together,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.
Heedless of the wind and weather,
Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Thoughts for Tots

The holidays are approaching and many of us are trying to come up with gift ideas for our children, grandkids, nieces or nephews. While toys and cute outfits are always fun, I think one of the most valuable gifts someone can offer a tot is a Montessori education.

The following is an article I wrote for the Toddler Programs in Mesa, AZ. Even if you do not a toddler in your life, feel free to forward the info on to someone who could benefit from this story.


Forget about Chicago, the biggest toddlin’ town around is Montessori International School’s Toddler House, 2447 Fairbrook Road and the Toddler Community at 2401 E. Brown Road, both in Mesa,AZ.

Tots from 12 months to three years of age play with puzzles, don plastic coats and paint, sit in a circle and sing, learn Spanish, and interact happily with one another. A visit to either school denotes a surprisingly calm environment. While the occasional unhappy camper may surface, for the most part the school is free of the sound of whining and the smell of disinfectant that permeates the typical preschool classroom. Instead the atmosphere exudes a friendly ease as little ones engage in activities that serve the dual role of combining purpose and pleasure.

It is clear the current Toddler House and Toddler Community students enjoy their day and move with a sense of enjoyable resolve uncharacteristic of most one-year-old boys and girls. The difference is by design and is an integral part of the Montessori philosophy to foster a child’s love of learning.

Simple tasks are divided into life skills “jobs” such as polishing objects or rolling up mats and putting them in their proper place after use. The seemingly simple duties help the tots develop motor skills, as well as self confidence by successfully demonstrating an ability they have seen performed by others at home.

At lunch and snack time, tikes retrieve their own placemat and dishes and set their own spot at the table. Learning manners and showing consideration for others is also an essential part of each day, along with self care such as dressing, brushing their teeth, wiping their faces after eating and of course toilet training.

Infants as young as three months can join the Toddler House. However, current openings are limited to little ones 12 months and older. Parents interested in learning more about enrollment guidelines and openings can call 480-890-1580.

Most of the boys and girls join the Montessori toddler community after they begin to walk with confidence (approximately 16 months.) The youngsters embark on activities where basic motor coordination, independence and language development are fostered and individual personality is respected.

Both toddler programs follow the philosophy and tools developed by Maria Montessori (1870-1952) an Italian physician, educator and humanitarian, whose curriculum emphasizes independence, freedom within limits, and respect for a child’s natural psychological development. Rather than a classroom, the toddler programs offer a nurturing social community where very young children experience their first contact with other children and learn to participate in a cooperative group.

“By teaching toddlers how to take care of themselves and their immediate environment they develop a respect for all things, as well as building their own self confidence,” said Teryn Miller, an AMI certified teacher at the school whose advanced training focuses on teaching infants to three-year-old. “Many parents are unaware of what their children are capable of. However, when toddlers are engaged in structured activities that best allows for their mental, physical and psychological growth, they thrive. Learning becomes a joy and respect becomes a way of life.”

Both toddler programs are equipped with a small child in mind. Tables, chairs, cabinets and even the toilets are scaled to fit a little one’s needs and height. Children are allowed to pursue their interests, but must finish a task before pursuing another. Exploration and creativity is encouraged, but each child is taught the importance of listening, following rules and acting in a respectful manner.

The student/teacher ratio is one of the best in the state – one teacher to every four children. In addition to the Toddler House and the Toddler Community, M.I.S. has a primary school for children three to six years of age at 1230 N. Gilbert Road in Mesa and separate primary and elementary school programs at 2401 E. Brown Road in Mesa.

For more information visit or call 480-890-1580.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Enjoying Christmas "Presence"

One of the most challenging experiences I have in my daily life is to stay focused on the present moment. It is so easy for my mind to skip forward to the future or lapse into stale memories. Although I’d like to think I’m older and wiser, I have found children are much better at enjoying (or being grumpy about) what is happening right now. If you don’t believe me, try convincing an infant to wait two hours to be fed

or a three-year old with a full bladder he or she can wait until you get home to pee.

However, the one occasion where children DO put their minds into the future is Christmas time. Who doesn’t remember being a kid and anxiously counting the days until the holidays? Unfortunately, as I have aged, and in spite of every retailer putting up holiday decorations on display in September, the holidays have a way of sneaking up on me. Last year I didn’t trim the tree until Dec. 20th!

Fortunately, I learned from my mistake. This year, I decided to put up my Christmas tree up before I polished off my Thanksgiving leftovers.

My Tannebaum is a straggly old, plastic thing but I love it. After my divorce I got rid of a lot of things I didn’t want to move. My old tree went to Goodwill. For a few years I did not put up a Chanukah bush. Between limited finances and lack of holiday cheer, I could not face the idea of putting up a tree by myself. My marriage was over, I lost my job and my future prospects were looking pretty shabby. My oldest daughter, Alicia was newly married, so I went through the ornaments and gave her many of her hand-made decorations, as well as colorful balls that said things like Baby’s First Christmas 1980.

I eventually remarried, but my new spouse, CB, did not want a tree in the house. I put out a bowl of ornaments and placed a couple of holiday items in the music room. I complied with the request to go treeless for a year or two, but finally decided that enough was enough. This Boo Jew (a semi-kosher gal who converted to Buddhism in the 1980s) decided to take a stand and buy a tree to put it on. I decorated the tree alone. Eventually I convinced CB to place one ornament, a trumpet, on the tree.

However, as soon as my first grandchild was born (five years ago) I made sure I would have company when I celebrated the holidays. Little Rosannah was only a few weeks old for her first tree-decorating experience. I spread out a blanket and put her on it as I engaged in my tree trimming festivities. She seemed to enjoy the colorful lights and didn’t cry when I sang holiday tunes.

The next year Rosannah was a little more active and I had to work hard to keep her from eating the ornaments. But, with her company (although not her help) I got the job done. The following year a new granddaughter was a part of the mix. Putting the tree up and watching them was a real challenge, but I got it done.

This year Rosannah and Briannah are 5 and 3 years old. Rosannah helped put the tree stand together and placed the branches into their slots. Briannah was mostly focused on one ornament that she kept trying to hang before the tree was ready. However, both girls enjoyed looking at a lifetime’s worth of memories disguised as wooden reindeers, Santa Clauses and stockings.

After Briannah hung up her favorite ornament she became obsessed with the candy canes. I can’t even tell you what decade it was when we got those sugary sticks. However, I DO remember my youngest daughter, Brittany, was in junior high and was supposed to sell the red and white stripped peppermints to earn money for her school orchestra. Unfortunately, our dog, Rusty, ate a box and licked a bunch of other ones. The candy canes have been part of our holiday decorations ever since that incident.

After an hour or so the tree was up, the lights strung and my two granddaughter had placed numerous decorations on the tree. Unlike when I was growing up, I didn’t enforce any decorating rules. In my youth we weren’t supposed to put two of the same color balls next to each other, and, when possible, we tried to color coordinate the hue of the ball with the nearest light. Green ornament next to the green light, red ball by the red light etc. Candy canes were distributed evenly. Briannah decided they should all be placed together in a sort of candy cane family clump. Needless to say, all the decoration were on the bottom half of the tree.

Years ago, that decorating scheme would have bothered my sensibilities, but now I enjoy seeing their handiwork. I also admire how they appreciated each item. They didn’t reminisce about holidays past, they were perfectly happy to take part in the present activity.

It made me pause and think of how much I can learn from my grandchildren. I have an advantage of age and experience, but they are experts at living in the moment. And it’s truly a gift to have these adorable girls in my life.

To all of you reading this story, I hope you have a great holiday. My wish for you is to be kind to yourself and others, release past hurts and embrace the season as if you were a child again. Happy Holidays!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Fighting a Cold with Chicken Soup, Humor and Optimism

I have a cold. Optimist or not, having a cold sucks. Actually “blows” (in a bad way) would be a more appropriate description. I generally have a good immune system, but it’s been a little stressful at my house lately. Stress lowers one’s resistance to illness. One of the advantages of being an optimist is the “half-full glass” bunch suffers from fewer colds.

But, alas, optimism can only take you so far. When I wasn’t looking, some cold germs flew up my nose and took up residence there. Since Thanksgiving was coming, the cold germs invited all their friends and family to live in my nasal membranes. Some have migrated to other areas and I’m trying to cough them out of my sore throat. My itchy eyes are trying to drown them in tears. They laugh and multiple in spite of doses of Echinacea, juice and ibprofen.

Through the years I have tried different home remedies to relieve cold symptoms. I think it’s ironic that after all the advances we have made in science, that we can’t find a cure for the common cold. The best we can hope for is relief from cold symptoms.

If my mom or dad were alive I would be slurping chicken soup.

For years scientists and doctors didn’t believe chicken soup had any medicinal components at all.

But, the Jewish mothers of those doctors finally won out and now there is evidence that there is some benefit to the chicken-soup-as-medicine theory. Either that or they realized it was fruitless to argue with your yiddisha mama or Bubbe.

A friend of mine suggested a hot bath with vinegar in the water. I tried this but it made me want to roll in a patch of salad greens and brush my skin with olive oil. Somehow I can see a chicken soup dinner with a salad made with vinegar and oil dressing in my future. Too bad I won’t be able to taste it.

As unfair as it may seem that we are all vulnerable to colds, it is a sad fact of life. No matter how good, kind, careful or honest we may be no one is immune from the four sufferings: birth, sickness, aging and death. By the way, the IRS says taxes are another of the mandatory sufferings too, but Buddhist scripture doesn’t address that topic. I try not to talk about the IRS either. I don’t want to piss them off. I may be an optimist, but I’m not stupid. I tell people if they have a good lawyer they may be able to get away with murder (minus the karmic retribution that is governed by a higher set of laws) but no one gets away with cheating on their taxes. Ask Al Capone.

Some pain is inevitable. However, we can reduce our negativity about the problem and reduce our suffering. That is why my co-author, Jackie, and I wrote this oft quoted phrase from the introduction of our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

It is impossible to go through life without encountering difficulties. From a baby’s first cry to the last dying breath, the human experience involves a series of struggles. While encountering challenges is an inherent part of life, it is not so much the problems, but the attitude you take while facing these difficulties that shapes how you view the world.

So yes, I am suffering from a cold. I don’t like it, but I have to move on. I’m resting, drinking more fluids and experimenting with over-the-counter remedies. My friend, Michele, suggested Zicam, so I’ll blog in the future as to how that worked out.

The one bright spot in this saga is I have the opportunity to tell three of my favorite jokes and puns. Here they are:

You think it’s a booger, but it’s snot.

What’s the difference between a booger and a mushroom? A kid won’t eat a mushroom.

Last, but not least.

Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Ach who?
Bless you.

And bless all of YOU this holiday season. If you do get sick, be sure to rent a few funny movies, tell a few jokes and, of course, buy multiple copies of our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. It won’t cure your cold, but you can always use it as a large coaster for a bowl of chicken soup.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Let's Talk Turkey About Negativity

Next week is Thanksgiving. Many of us will have the opportunity to dine with family and friends for a special once-a-year meal. Many look forward to this event with anticipation – some with dread. And I confess, in my life I have approached this holiday with both mindsets.

I have seen the confidence of the strongest, most confident men and women become mushier than a bowl of mashed potatoes at the thought of facing the snide comments, comparisons and cruelty that some of our relatives bring to the holiday table.
How ironic that a feast that is supposed to be a celebration of gratitude and harmony can churn out more negativity and drama that a soap opera marathon.

But there is hope. We cannot change other people, but we can work on our own reaction to them. I just posted a short video on you tube on three simple steps on how to erase negativity. It’s not a cure all, but it can help us reduce our own negativity, which in turn can have a ripple effect on others.

Please check out this video and share it with your friends and family. Heck, share it with your enemies too. They probably need it worst of all. You can view it at

As an added bonus, I have also made a 25% discount for an electronic copy of our book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within available now through Dec. 16, 2012 for only $5.24. Please go to and enter the code VD99G

After Dec. 16 the book will return to its normal cost of $6.99. Paperback copies of the book are available for $14.99 through Amazon, as well as stores throughout the U.S. A partial list of bookstores and retail outlets is available at

For those of you who are not familiar with the message in the book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within is a practical guide on how to reduce negativity and embrace happiness. From meth addicts to multi-millionaires, the book offers powerful experiences of individuals who have faced dramatic challenges, but did not lose hope. Using these compelling biographies, as well as practical advice and simple exercises, the reader is guided on an internal journey toward adopting a more joyful way to live.

We pay a heavy price for our negativity and I want to combat that with a free tool that provides a more optimistic alternative. I’m really hoping folks will spread the word and use this window of time to read the book and suggest it to others who are interested in embracing a more hopeful message.

So there you have it. No more excuses. Discounted book, free video. Kick that grouch out now. But lest I come off too brash or too self serving, I do have one last bit of advice for this holiday season. Try to take a moment and find the love in your heart and send those laser beams of love out to those family members around you – especially those who annoy you. While we might not think so now, there will come a time when they are out of our lives and we will miss them. And more importantly, we do not want to miss the opportunity to summon up a little love and shine a little light in the world.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Slumbering Wisdom

Sometimes I think I’m smarter when I’m unconscious. In various religions, particularly Buddhism, the sages talk about the benefits of an “awakened state.” However I think there is a lot of wisdom in our dream-state while snoozing.

Let me explain.

I believe dreams can be a way for your subconscious to slip you a secret message. That’s why parables work better in many cultures than preachy sermons. We may have something important to learn but our ego doesn’t want to hear the message too directly. No one likes to admit what they’re doing is wrong, even if our misguided efforts are obstructing our happiness.

I’m no psychologist but I enjoy interpreting my own dreams. When my kids were little I would analyze my daughter Brittany’s nocturnal messages. In my infinite wisdom I told her all her dreams had one of two messages; to clean her room or practice her violin. It didn’t matter what her dream was, that was my assessment. Her older sister, Alicia, saw through my ruse and kept her dreams to herself.

For years I have had a dream where I’m on vacation in Hawaii (or living there) and it’s time to move away.

Suddenly I realize I have never visited my favorite beach. To make matters worse, time was running out. Sometimes time HAD run out and the movers beckoned at the door.

After years of having this dream, I think I finally know what it means. I’m not living enough in the moment and enjoying the beauty in my own backyard. It doesn’t need to be physical beauty, it can be symbolic of other wondrous components of life. I believe some dreams remind us of our goals. Other dreams expose our fears. Other dreams expose other things. Who hasn’t a dream where we are in a public place and realize part of our clothing is missing?

One of my favorite lines in a movie is from Sleepless in Seattle when Meg Ryan refers to those dreams in which the dreamer finds herself walking naked in public places and Rosie ODonnell states, “I love that dream."

But back to my analogy about missed opportunities. I adore fall colors, but my hometown in Arizona doesn’t experience the typical seasonal changes. However, I’m working temporarily in Port Angeles, Washington where autumn is in its full glory. I can look out from my dining room table and see a variety of trees and bushes burst into hues of red, orange and golden leaves.

I also enjoy the cool, crisp air and the scent of fireplaces. However, rather than venturing out, I spend a lot of my day sitting on my butt typing on the computer. Sometimes it feels like I literally have to pry myself from my sedentary position to enjoy the cool outdoors that spreads out in front of me.

Once I challenge inertia, I enjoy walks through the neighborhood. The problem is sometimes it’s hard to get started. I surf the net more than I feel the sea that blows blocks from my home office. There is a great book about flow, that feeling where you are so absorbed in the moment that time ceases to exist. We’ve all experienced flow when we are immersed in activities we love. Musicians, artists, authors, athletes all experience that moment of peak performance when you feel “in the groove.” I have often had that feeling when I’m walking. I’ve yet to feel it when I’m checking facebook.

A great quote to illustrate this point is from one of my favorite comediennes, Lucille Ball who said. “I'd rather regret the things I have done than the things that I haven't ."

I know we all have responsibilities and busy lives. I’m not advocating we toss it all aside and do everything our heart desires and throw complete caution to the wind. However, we could make a small promise to ourselves to do one fun or heart-felt action each day. One simple step would be to ask a simple question before turning in for the night.

“Was I a little better today than I was yesterday?”

The “better” in that equation can be erasing negativity, living a more purposeful life, improving relationships or simply taking the time to embrace the beauty of nature. With this nightly ritual to keep you on task, you will take positive steps to living your dreams – especially when you’re awake.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Dealing With Rejection

I saw the email in my in box and my breath caught in my throat. I was expecting a response from a major publishing company about the book. A “thumbs up” would be the catalyst for an exciting new path in my writing and speaking career. It would also be a dream-come-true for my co-author Jackie.

The first couple of sentences were complimentary, “clearly written, stories that excellently illustrate your points, something that would prove of benefit to the general reader etc.” But the bottom line was no.

I had to remind myself to breathe. I could feel my chest tighten. My throat seemed to shut down, as if words trying to form there would no longer be able to escape. I looked out the window and the gentle rain seemed to be a substitute for the tears that would not fall from me. I come from stoic stock and crying just gives me a headache. I find it best to move on.

This letter was one of many rejections I’ve received in my life, but this one hurt more than most. I notified Jackie, who I knew would be disappointed as well. I sat for a moment and thought about what I would do. I pulled out my sample query letter and book proposal, searched the internet for another publisher and sent a revised letter off to someone new. I still didn’t feel better so I queried a couple of literary agents as well.

For a moment I felt like a failure, but then I realized the situation was the perfect opportunity to practice what I preach and take steps to erase my own negativity. Step one is acknowledging the negativity and deciding to do something about it. That comes automatically to me now so I skipped off to step two, erase and replace. I searched for new publishers and agents and set a new course. I didn’t beat myself up for being rejected, I concentrated on what I could do – try again. The third tip I tell folks is to smile. I took a shower instead.

No one likes rejection, but rejection and a smelly body are a bad combination. After my shower I started to dress. The closet doors in the master bedroom have mirrors. I stared at my reflection and gave myself a cheesy smile. No, I didn’t feel like it, but I did it anyway. As I dried my hair I thought about what really keeps people in a funk. I think it is loss of hope. There are any number of disappointing things that can happen to us, but as long as we can hold on to a glimmer of hope, there is the prospect of a better outcome in the future.

Even though I have written, lectured and coached folks on erasing negativity, I am only human and have bouts with personal negativity. But, with practice, I have learned to employ tactics to minimize the amount of negativity I allow into my life. And you can do the same.

If you would like to watch a you a short you tube video on Three Tips to Erase Negativity, go to

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have queries to write, people to call and smiles to fake until I can generate an authentic one of my own. Ha! Just writing about fake smiles made me laugh, a little laugh, but a laugh all the same. And the rain stopped.

I’m feeling more hopeful already.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Shifting Into Happiness

This week's blog is from my friend and fellow author Cynthia Sue Larson.

Her books are awesome and this one is no exception.

What’s so special about this book?

Reality Shifts is the only book that addresses the what, why and how regarding the way consciousness–in the form of our thoughts and feelings–literally changes the physical world. Most of us have experienced garden variety types of reality shifts, such as missing socks when we do the laundry, or wondering why our keys or wallet are not where we know we put them–and sometimes, we also experience shifts in time. What few people realize is that the very same types of “spooky action at a distance” that physicists expect to see at the quantum level of reality also occasionally occur on the large-scale level in our daily lives. People and things have thus been witnessed to appear and disappear, transport, and transform... which is what Reality Shifts is all about.

How Can Reading Reality Shifts Improve My Life?

Reality Shifts helps you reassess your assumptions about reality and consciousness in ways that positively shift your ability to envision and manifest much more positive experiences in your life. Whether you read through the book sequentially, or open and read pages at random, Reality Shifts opens doors to new thought and elevates you to a higher level of consciousness than you were before.

Read Reality Shifts and learn how to:

Live lucidly to create a life you love
Positively influence the future and the past
Transform sabotaging beliefs into strength
What are People Saying About Reality Shifts?

“When I hand this book to people, people are hooked. You read it, and it puts a giggle in your heart! It brings you to a higher level of frequency than where you began. This book… you have to have it on your shelf!” — Tazz Powers

“Cynthia Sue Larson helps restore a sense of majesty and wonder to our everyday world.
If you think science has explained away the magic of existence,
you need seriously to read this book.” — Larry Dossey, M.D.

“Ever wondered where that missing sock went when you last searched the clothes dryer? Thought about why those keys you so carefully tucked into your jacket pocket suddenly disappeared only to be found underneath the cushion of your favorite television sofa? If so then you have experienced what Cynthia Sue Larson calls a Reality Shift. In her book of that title subtitled When Consciousness Changes the Physical World, she explains in clear and unambiguous language just what these reality shifts are, why they occur, and how they can be used to influence and change your life for the better. Larson even goes into how the latest ideas from quantum physics can help us understand these shifts and most importantly believe in them as part of our reality, not just our imagination.” — Fred Alan Wolf, Ph.D.

“Modern science has now addressed the problem of consciousness. We each experience consciousness every day, in some of the myriad and fascinating ways described in REALITY SHIFTS. But no one yet quite understands why this is so. Speculations, theories and experiments from quantum science have now been entered into the debate which suggest that our world is far more mystical, complex, interactive and even humorous than the sterile, mechanistic dogma of classical scientific thought. Read, enjoy, be amazed, ponder REALITY SHIFTS” — Edgar Mitchell, D.Sc., founder of Institute of Noetic Sciences

When You Purchase Reality Shifts Today -- October 24, 2012

Dozens of Cynthia's friends and colleagues are offering some very special bonus gifts when you purchase a copy of Reality Shifts during this book launch event. Thanks to these amazing special offers, you can receive bonus gifts from and involving such notable luminaries in the field of consciousness research as: Eldon Taylor, Lynn Robinson, Rebecca Skeele, Dr. Laurie Nadel, Hunt Henion, Jennifer Urezzio, Anisa Aven, Monique Chapman, Alexis Brooks, Joan Schaefer, Trish LeSage, Beyond the Ordinary Radio (featuring bonus gift interviews with: Dr. Joe Dispenza, Adam the healer, Stanton Friedman, Linda Evans, Amit Goswami, Dean Radin, William Tiller, John Perkins, Eldon Taylor, Fred Alan Wolf and dozens more from over 12 years of archives), Tom and Bobbie Merrill, Barbara Cox, Claire Papin, George E. Green, Sally Marks, Carolyn North, Gene Krackehl, Bill Sweet, Marcus Himelstein, Marilyn Jenett, Ann Davis, Marta Williams, and Kajama.

To learn more about this book launch, please click here:

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Happy Feet

I tromped around the house, looked down at my new shoes and smiled. I felt like a little kid. It makes no sense, but new shoes – and even new socks – make me feel happy. Maybe it goes back to the days when my dad would sing a version of patty cake with Yiddish (or maybe Polish) lyrics. The translated words are something like, “clap your little hands with joy. Papa’s gonna buy the baby a new pair of shoes.”

My new togs (actually I bought two pair) were not a sexy set of Jimmy Choo’s or stylish Louis Vuitton’s.

My acquisitions were of the New Balance variety. One was an all-purpose number in tones of muted grey and blue. They are comfortable (not an easy task in my size) water-proof, and sturdy. I have been inclined to buy flimsy tootsie coverings that feel like a slipper when I put them on, but are absolutely exhausting after a couple hours of wear.

My friend and podiatrist, Cathy McCarthy,

warned me about the evils of fragile footwear so I have been trying to mend my ways. Before I purchase a new pair of shoes, I turn it over and see if the sole bends. If it does, the shoe is too flexible for everyday wear. My little blue and grey number passed the test.

However, the purchase that really had me smiling was my chestnut brown, light-weight (but solid) hiking shoes.

My old pair of hiking boots is probably 15 years old. They have held up well, but they feel like an anvil on my feet. If I ever confront a bear while hiking I could take one of these puppies off, hit the bear on the head and render her unconscious for an hour. If she awakens and smells the offending boot, that would knock her out for the rest of the day.

But my goal is not to don footwear as ammunition. I want to travel lightly along the trails rather than slog grudgingly forward with a shoe that feels like an anchor. I’ve ramped up my outdoor activities lately. In an effort to keep up with my fleet-of-foot and nature-loving spouse, CB, I thought a lighter shoe would add a little spring to my step. Unfortunately I have experienced disastrous love affairs with others togs. The footwear may feel fine in the store, but after walking a bit they bite and nip at me like a cranky terrier. No wonder people call feet “dogs.”

To reduce my chances of a painful journey, I’ve been breaking my shoes in by wearing them in the house. Incidentally, Dr. McCarthy says you should always wear shoes when you’re on your feet, even in the house (I can hear the collective gasp of mothers everywhere.)

By the way, you can read Dr. McCarthy’s advice in more detail at

If you live in Arizona this is especially important because you can also squish scorpions. Now this may result in a dirtier carpet (wearing shoes and smashing a scorpion) but it’s easier to clean a bug in the rug than to develop plantar fasciitis or get stung by an arachnid.

Oops. I digress. Let’s get back to my happy feet story.

My pleasure at finding the right type of shoes may sound shallow to some. It really isn’t about the rapture of engaging in retail therapy (although I do like to shop.) It’s about gratitude. I found shoes that will help me enjoy nature, step a little faster so I can keep up with CB, as well as protect my feet, ankles and legs from unnecessary strain. The fact both pairs were deeply discounted also makes my pocketbook sing. Now that IS shallow, but hey I have to save money where I can.

But let’s get back to my point about gratitude. All of us own “things.” While it may seem more enlightened to cast off earthly desires, it is virtually impossible to do this and survive. However, we can take a step up on the spiritual ladder

by taking a moment and appreciating the food that nourishes us, the clothes that protect us and the people who love us. It’s easy to take these things for granted. But when we make a conscious effort to feel and express our gratitude, we operate on a higher plane.

Everyone has something to be grateful for. Here is an excerpt from Chapter Two of Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

Since David was angry much of the time, gratitude wasn’t really something he had given much thought to. However, one experience really hit home.

“We were at a meeting and everyone had to say one thing they were grateful for,” said David. “One guy was living in a half-way house. He had been living on the streets. When it was his turn to share he said he was grateful that he had a clean pair of socks in his drawer. And he wasn’t kidding. Having clean socks was a luxury to this guy. It really made me stop and think about how many things I have in my life to be grateful for.”

The simple act of donning shoes and socks is something most of us take for granted. However, I would like to suggest the next time you engage in this simple task, take a moment and feel a sense of appreciation for your footwear. It’s a simple act that is (pardon the pun you know is coming) good for the soul (sole.)

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Soaking With The Stars

I sat in the hot tub and gazed at the stars above me. I smiled to myself as I thought how the celestial globes DID look like diamonds in the sky, just like the lyrics in Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

I savored the water jets as they pummeled my aching neck and shoulders. I relished in the simple pleasure of a quiet evening sitting, soaking and star gazing. “So what is the big deal about that?” you may ask. Certainly I have thought the same thing at times. I’ve had a hot tub in the backyard for several years. The stars have twinkled before my birth and will go on sparkling long after I’m dust. However, what was unusual about this encounter is not that I enjoyed myself, but why I hadn’t regaled in this experience more often?

When my spouse, CB, is home, the hot tub is not an overlooked box of water and heavenly bodies are never taken for granted.

However, when my nature-loving spouse is traveling and I’m alone, I generally find something else to do rather than partake in the pleasures that exist in my own backyard. I thought about this odd behavior and decided that I cheat myself out of this available indulgence because ...

1. CB isn’t there to enjoy it with me.

2. My muscles aren’t sore so why bother?

So why did I finally enjoy the tub and stars? Did I have some magical moment of insight? Unfortunately I slipped into the tub because my muscles were sore and I was out of IB Profen. But the bigger question is why do I feel have to wait until I have a good reason to enjoy myself in my backyard haven? Is there some Puritanical edict that declares the hot tub is off limits if my muscles are not bound up in knots, my cupboards are stocked with pain reliever and my spouse is out of town?

Of course not.

However, somewhere in my misguided psyche I felt like I had to earn this luxury out of either medicinal or marital need. However, while I have the misguided notion that I have to “deserve” to sit in the hot tub, I do feel that I am free to enjoy a happy life. This has not always been the case. Just as I rationed my smiles and laughter, in the past I put limits on my happiness as well.

Fortunately, I learned that happiness is something we can all enjoy. There are no stipulations. We may put a few self-imposed restrictions on our happiness, but these are restrictions of our own choosing. There is no law that we have to punish ourselves first in order to experience joy in our daily lives.

That is not to say that you should quit your job, refuse to clean your bathroom and simply do what you want regardless of the consequences. Happiness isn’t about a life of hedonistic pleasure and debauchery. It’s about enjoying what there is to enjoy and reducing the unnecessary attachment to negativity that eats away at our souls.

So to reiterate, the first tip in this article is to debunk the notion you have to do the emotional equivalent of 50 pushups before you can smile, laugh or be happy. You earned the right to happiness when you took your first breath. Happiness is your right.

The second roadblock to a more cheerful existence is immersing ourselves in negativity. That is why my friend and co-author Jackie and I wrote Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within. Remember, you wouldn’t cuddle a cactus, why would you want to hang on to negativity for dear life? Let it go. If you must hold onto something, embrace happiness.

For more tips, please visit our website, or buy the book through Amazon. If you can't afford to buy it, ask the library to carry it. You can also enter “erase negativity” and find us on you tube. We will be posting a video very soon on simple tips on how to erase negativity from your life.

But enough happiness tips for now. There are stars and a hot tub calling my name and I’m ready to enjoy a starry, starry night.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Battling My Sugar Addiction

I’m a product of the Pepsi generation. I can still hear the lilting advertising jingle, “Pepsi, for those who think young.”

Ironically, I haven’t had a Pepsi for a month and I find my mind and body feels a lot more youthful now that I’m not riddling it with high fructose corn syrup, sugar, phosphoric acid, sodium and caffeine.

In fact, I’m going to write a story about sugar and the brain, but that’s not what this blog is about. The focus of this tale is about my addiction to Pepsi.

It has not been an easy battle. I not only enjoyed the taste of this, and other, soda pops, I have an emotional attachment as well. At one point I went to one of my clients, a naturopath, who hypnotized me to help me overcome my addiction. We started with a discussion where I listed the many reasons I drank Pepsi and then my reasons to quit. After listening to my laundry lists of pros and cons, my red-haired physician said he had never heard such a creative list of reasons for consuming a beverage.

I understand the reasons I should quit and I won’t belabor you with them (at least not in this article.) However, let it be said they were based on reason. My choice for drinking pop is emotional. And the roots burrow deep into my childhood.

When I was a young girl my dad worked in a saloon in Chicago. He saw the effects of alcohol on his customers, so he rarely drank liquor. But he loved soda pop. He quenched his thirst with Coca Cola and other carbonated beverages.

My father understood how satisfying it was to drink a bubbly treat and would occasionally indulge me and my siblings at ball games and other outings. But my mom did not approve of daily consumption of sugary beverages. She wanted us to have strong bones and teeth so we drank gallons of milk a week.

My father often worked the night shift and would return home late at night. I was a light sleeper and would wait until I would hear him come in. Seconds later I would hear the familiar psst sound of carbonation escaping from a freshly opened bottle of Pepsi or Coke. I would pad down the hall, climb onto his lap, chat with him about the day and bum sips of pop while mom and my brothers and sister slept.

In 1961 my family moved to Arizona. Unfortunately my dad could not find employment and was forced to return to his old job in Chicago. The rest of us remained in Arizona. Dad sent mom checks, but my late-evening pop-bumming days were gone.

Money was tight enough as it was, so we rarely asked for anything extra from our mother. Plus, she thought good teeth were more important than almost anything else, so treats were few and far between. But my addiction to Pepsi was acute. My brother, Terry and I would scour the alley near our home in search of empty pop bottles that we could turn in for the 2 cents a bottle deposit. When we collected enough bottles we bought a candy bar and soda pop.

However, we didn’t want to spend all of our precious days in search of booty, so bubbly soda pop remained an infrequent treat. And in defense of my mother, all five of her children have, to this day, strong bones and beautiful teeth.

When I was able to earn a living as a waitress, my love of drinking pop had no boundaries. Soda was free. After a couple of weeks I no longer wanted a Bob’s Big Boy hamburger, but my thirst for Coke, root beer and Seven Up showed no signs of diminishing.

I married right after high school. Big bottles of Pepsi became a family staple. I saw Pepsi packaging change from bottled six packs and large, glass, quart-sized containers to the big, plastic liters. Sometimes it was more practical to buy cans, but the glass bottles were always my favorite.

As I described my love of Pepsi to Dr. Potter, I regaled him with images of bubbly effervescence, tangy, sweet goodness and glorious sparkling caramel color. I reminisced about quenching my thirst at my brother, Dennis’ little league games, trips to the movies, and staking forbidden sips of pop while I sat with my daddy when he came home from a hard night’s work.

Somehow the promise of increased longevity and the risk of diabetes and other maladies didn’t seem as compelling. I quit drinking pop for 10 days or so. I would make exceptions when I was eating pizza. Nothing tasted as good with a pizza as a nice, cold Cola. Pretty soon I was drinking Pepsi with all pasta dishes (my favorite.) Needless to say, before the month was over I was back to my old ways.
I realized that I couldn’t just quit drinking Pepsi, I had to fall in love with another drink. It’s the old “erase and replace” method I describe in the first chapter of my book, Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within.

I fell in love with Pelligrino water. Sometimes I drink it plain. Other times I mix myself a little cocktail by adding a splash of juice or a wedge of lemon or lime. The slender green bottle looks graceful and refined. I’ve been told Pelligrino adds

an alkaline element to our systems which is preferable to an acidic one. My new beverage of choice comes from Italy. I love almost all things Italian. And what could be a better complement to pizza than Italian water?

Sometimes I will sit outside with my bottle of Pelligrino and imagine I’m sipping my sparkling water in Florence or Rome. Leonardo DaVinci is reported to have consumed water from the same source where Pelligrino is bottled. And good ole’ Leonardo was no slouch. In fact, now that I’ve switched from Pepsi to Pelligrino I swear my mind is clearer and new waves of creativity are swirling through my brain. I haven’t exactly drawn blueprints for a new invention, but I have come up with a few ideas for stories, scripts and songs.

The point of this tale is that all of us have negativity we would like to erase. It can be a bad habit, unkind thoughts or negative behavior. Abolishing it creates a vacuum, and nature abhors a vacuum.

I believe you will fare better if you replace the undesirable trait with something more affirming. I outline this technique of “erase and replace” in the first chapter of my book, as well as in my you tube video. I hope you will have fun with this technique and give it a try.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take out a chilled bottle of Pelligrino and enjoy it in the imaginary setting of my choice. I’m going to invite my deceased parents to join me as well. I think both mom and dad would approve. Vi auguriamo una buona salute.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Music and Me

When I was a little girl I loved to sing. My earliest recollection was a song I composed about four o clock flowers. I was probably four or five years old and we still lived in Chicago. My mother explained that the fragrant annual opened at 4 p.m. each day. This fascinated me. I couldn’t tell time yet, but I would check on the flowers in the afternoon and sure enough, around 4 p.m. every day, the punctual plants displayed their happy little faces to the afternoon sun.

I remember singing. “Four oclocks, Four oclocks. Because they open at four oclock.”
Okay, so I was no Bob Dylan and my tune consisted of three or four notes. But I didn’t care. I was happy to sing my little heart out. According to my baby book, I was singing songs at one and making up my own songs before I was toilet trained at two (you thought I was going to say 29 weren’t you?) My youngest granddaughter Briannah is a budding singer/songwriter as well. I can’t always tell what she sings about, but she’s happy to create her own music.

Her older sister, Rosannah prefers Lady Gaga.

When I grew older my brother, Terry, and I took guitar lessons. Terry plunked away dutifully at the notes. I’m sure he would rather be out playing baseball. I don’t remember him ever picking up our old Les Paul for fun. But he was better at counting the full notes, quarter notes and the like. He grew up to be a CPA, so I think the counting practice paid off.

I, on the other hand, strummed a few basic chords and wrote songs about everything from little green men to teenage pregnancy. I had a talent for writing lyrics, but the melodies all sounded the same. In fact, most of the songs by any given Rock and Roll artist of that time were variations on four chords C, A. D and G as well.

After I graduated from high school I would occasionally play my guitar or sing a little ditty, but not with the same abandon I had when I was a kid. I became embarrassed that my abilities were second rate. External and internal critics nagged at my fragile ego that if I wasn’t great at doing something I shouldn’t do it at all.
The only exceptions were when I was around children. I sang for the neighborhood kids, my daughters, and now my grandchildren. I still enjoy music and would turn on my radio to rock ‘n roll oldies in the car and plop in a tape of Bonnie Raitt

when I cleaned the house. Music lifted my spirits. I still remember my daughter, Brittany, running up to me while I was dusting. Her hands were over her ears and she said through clenched teeth, “No, no more Bonnie Raitt” when I played my favorite tape for the 5th time in one day (it took a long time to clean the house.)

However, there was a time when the music died in my life.

In the late 1990s I separated from my husband of 26 years. I tried to rebuild a life for myself and my youngest daughter, Brittany (yes the same one who had her fill of Bonnie Raitt.). It was a difficult and painful time. In a matter of months my marriage dissolved, I was laid off from my job of eight years, my teenage daughter was skipping school and in danger of flunking out, and two of closest friends deserted me. My confidence was in the toilet. I mistakenly thought a relationship would make things good again. I found a new love, but to my chagrin, I was dumped after three months. I was a middle-aged, college-educated woman, yet I seemed unsuccessful in making my way in the world. Every time I turned on the radio, a song from a happier past hit me like a slap across the face. I turned the radio off and drove in silence. I did this for months.

Then one day as I was driving home from work I turned the radio on I could hear the traffic report. A happy song floated through the air waves. Instead of changing the station, I let the song play. I'm not sure why, but something shifted in my pessimistic brain. I looked at the horizon and noticed a gorgeous sunset. It was, in fact, a beautiful spring day. Why hadn't I noticed this before? Nothing in my situation had changed, only my thoughts. I felt happy again. I decided to build on that. If I could be happy for five minutes, I could be happy for 15. In time, minutes stretched to hours, and hours into days.

Once I realized that I could shift my thoughts from the old "woe as me" and concentrate on the many good things in my life, I felt better. It wasn't like there wasn't anything good in my life. I just chose to concentrate - okay DWELL - on the negatives. It was no wonder I felt rotten.

Every day since then, I make it a point to think of a few things I'm grateful for. I wake up and say out loud how happy I am to be alive. Being a famous songwriting rock star is not on the list. But I can still make music. And when I’m sick of my own voice I can still listen to my all-time favorite, Bonnie Raitt.
Some may say that with all the negativity in the world there is nothing worth singing about. I say, “plllhhhg” (that me blowing a raspberry.) When you’re sad or blue that is exactly the time music should fill the air.

If you don’t believe me take note of one of my favorite quotes by Cervantes.

“He who sings scares away his woes.”

And if someone in your life complains about your musical efforts, sing a few off key notes until they run screaming from the house. That way you can have fun and rid a little unwanted negativity at the same time!