Monday, September 23, 2013

Act Like a Pretzel, Sing Like a Loon

I like pretzels but I never wanted to be one. However, I have always admired folks who took yoga classes. I tried yoga once and it triggered a nasty migraine. My mind might be flexible, but my limbs are not.

Not one to give up, I decided to try again. This time I signed up for a yogalates class at the Red Mountain Multi-Generational Center in my home town of Mesa, AZ. The class is a combination of yoga and Pilates and I love it.

On one of my recent visits the instructor passed out ways to find your “happy place.” Since I’ve written numerous articles about happiness and erasing negativity I’m always looking for new insights in the pursuit of happiness.
The article gave six, quick points.

• Smile.
• Stay in the here and now.
• Choose good company.
• Enjoy water surroundings such as a pool, lake, ocean, stream etc.
• Use positive self-affirmations on a daily basis.
• Sing.

When I was younger I sang a lot. I was in an all-girl rock and roll band, I sang in chorus in junior high and high school and even performed in a couple of talent assemblies. As I aged, I continued to sing, but not in public. The exception was when I’d pull out my guitar and sing for my children. One of our favorite songs was an original composition I wrote with my neighbor Debbie Odom (who now goes by the stage name Rusty Queen) about a Little Green Man. I occasionally sing it for my grand daughters, Rosannah and Briannah.

The day I received the article with the six tips for happiness I decided to sing with my favorite preschoolers. However, rather than simply strumming and singing, I joyfully belted out the tune with abandon.

Rosannah and Briannah must have felt the difference in my attitude because they asked for me to sing it again and again. After the third rendition I distracted them with another musical treat. We put away the guitar and banged away on the bongo drums and piano. It was a cacophony of noise, but it was fun. I’m sure we’ll have a repeat performance this week.

No one is going to record our music, but it’s fun to play. Unfortunately most of us become more self-conscious as we grow older and we refuse to sing and perform thinking we are not good enough. While I encourage everyone to sing and dance, I know that is unlikely, so I have an alternative suggestion. Go to a concert. Most communities have free outdoor concerts if you read your local paper or go online. For those of you in the Phoenix metro area here is information on a concert that will be available for the next few weeks, courtesy of one of my favorite clients, The Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center. I hope you can join us.

Happy days are back with the return of the Fall Concert Series at The Village at Arrowhead Shopping Center, 20050 N. 67th Ave. in Glendale.

Residents and visitors can enjoy free, live music, as well as a classic car show Friday evenings 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 27 through Oct. 25 at the picturesque west-side shopping center.

The Roadrunners 50s and 60s Band will start things off on Sept. 27 followed by the Swing Kings Oct. 4, the Still Cruisin Band Oct. 11, One More Time Band Oct. 18 and the Roadrunners 50s and 60s Band will wrap up the fall concert series Oct. 25. All music will be performed on the patio of AJ’s Fine Foods.

“Our Music at the Village concert series is a wonderful way to enjoy live music and check out some awesome classic cars,” said Mary Walker, president of Power Promotions and event coordinator for The Village at Arrowhead. “Whether you want to reminisce about the past or create new memories with friends and family, this autumn event is sure to be a hit with everyone.”

The Village at Arrowhead offers specialty shops that provide the ultimate shopping experience with distinctive fashion, home furnishings, restaurants and personal services in one of the most architecturally unique and aesthetically pleasing shopping centers around.

The shopping center is located at the southwest corner of 67th Avenue at the Loop 101 in Glendale. For more information contact Marks Public Relations at 480-664-3004.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Guest Blog - How Do You Know All is Well?

In the next few months I will be featuring some guest blogs on some different topics. Please welcome Phyllis Turner.

Is everything all right in your world? Are you sure? How do you know? I'm guessing there are things that happen in your day that let you know that everything is all right with your world and that's how you know. I know, for me, when certain things happen or don't happen in the mornings, I can feel a little "off."

For instance... now that we've moved into a new house in Florida, I'm finally getting into a routine again. I adopted a pair of kittens a while back so now, when I wake up, I have two kittens curled up on me somewhere or maybe one on the pillow above my head and one beside me. If this doesn't happen, If I wake up and neither of them or just one of them isn't on the bed with me, I have to wonder what's up. What trouble are they getting themselves into?

If my husband is traveling, I check my cell phone to see if he's sent me his usual "Good morning Sunshine!" text. If he hasn't, I'll text him & then he calls me to chat if he can. If this doesn't happen, I have to wonder what's up. What trouble did he get himself into since we talked last night?

Next, I check my schedule for the day and settle in with a couple of cups of coffee or a bottle of water and check in with my family and close friends on Facebook & maybe some local news. Once the coffee is in, I hit my schedule and hope to accomplish (start to finish) one or two things. If this doesn't happen, my family and friends would wonder what's up. What trouble has she gotten herself into?

During my day, I can see and hear trucks, running generators, hammers and drills banging, humming and drumming outside as houses in the neighborhood are being built up left and right. If this didn't happen and it were quiet, I would have to wonder what's up.

If I need to go out and run errands, I always take a quick drive by the beach, just to be sure it's still there. If I'm lucky, I have time to get in a nice walk in the sand. If this doesn't happen, I wonder what's up. What trouble have I gotten myself into that I'm so busy I don't have time for a 45 min. walk on the beach? Luckily, this rarely happens.

So, for today, life is good and all is well in my world. I'm sure of it.

How do you know when all is right in your world?

Phyllis I Turner is a full-time freelance writer, wife, mother, traveler, beach bum, lover of food, sunsets & all things outdoors. She resides with her husband in Vero Beach, Florida. More of her whimsical musings can be found at

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Thursday, September 12, 2013

Remembering 9-11

Two years ago I wrote a special blog for the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The message bears repeating so I'm posting it again.

Our nation recently commemorated the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It is a day that is forever etched in our collective consciousness. Who doesn’t remember where they and what they did when they heard the shattering news and saw the painful and horrifying images?

There have been a myriad of plaques, memorials, flags, news clips, speeches, prayers, rants and outbursts surrounding that fateful day.

There are stories and video clips denoting the pain and suffering, others of respect and gratitude for the heroes who worked to save others, narratives of the few survivors, as well as stories of the family and friends who lost a loved one in one of our nation’s worst tragedies.

What I would like to see in the next 10 years are more stories of healing and humanity. While I believe we have to take measures to ensure our nation’s security, I worry that the most fundamental step, recognizing the importance of our oneness as a people, needs to be fostered.

We so often focus on how we differ from one another that it creates an artificial barrier. We all want to take pride in our uniqueness, but when we use this as a measurement of how we are somehow “better” than someone else, it creates problems. When something or someone is perceived as dissimilar, it becomes so much easier to use that difference as a reason to hate.

Sometimes that hate becomes violent.

Shortly after 9/11 2001, a Sikh man wearing a turban was gunned down. The gunman, Frank Rogue, believed his target was an Arab. The victim, Balbir Singh Sodhi, was a gasoline station owner who emigrated from India. Ironically, the Sikhs are known for their peace-loving nature and beliefs. What makes this even worse, at least for me, this violent act happened in my home town of Mesa, AZ.

As a Buddhist, I believe in the interconnectedness of humankind. Individuals are a microcosm of all of humanity and in the larger scheme, the universe. What we do to others we do to ourselves. Therefore, our actions of healing, compassion and understanding are needed far more than our acts of anger and hatred. While force may have a temporary effect to keep harm at bay, it does little to solve the inherent problem.

Since most of us identify with the things that set us apart from one another, it is difficult to imagine how inner connected we are. One example that illustrates our connectedness is pollution. If there a nuclear accident, the fallout is not contained to that given area. Radiation seeps into the earth and ground water, travels through our rivers, streams and ocean, as well as traveling hundreds and thousands of miles by blowing winds.

In a more humorous analogy I remember a story I heard years ago. A father was trying to bond with his son and decided to take him fishing in a small fishing boat.

The son was in the front of the boat and the father in the back. When they were in the middle of the lake they hit a rock and water gushed near the father’s feet. The son seemed undeterred and even laughed about the situation. The father asked why the boy thought the situation was funny and the boy responded, “Because the leak is in YOUR part of the boat.”

In the next few years I hope we will spend less time focusing on past hurts and put our energy into solving problems by engaging others in heart-felt dialogue and recognizing the humanity in one another. We cannot root out all evil, but we can take steps to heal our planet by recognizing our similarities rather than dwelling on our differences.

A quote by Mushrif–ud-Din Abdullah, a Persian poet wrote a poem that graces the entrance of the Hall of Nation of the UN Building in New York.

Human beings are members of a whole,
In creation of one essence and soul.
If one member is afflicted with pain,
Other members uneasy will remain.
If you have no sympathy for human pain,
The name of human you cannot retain.

Another year has passed. Last year's article suggested that before the 11th anniversary of 9/11 I hope we can report several instances where we were a source of hope and light for humankind and our planet. I have the same plea for the next year and the next and the next.

We share this world with others and it is in our best interest to try to get along. After all, we are all in the same boat.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

I am Green

I am green. No, I’m not talking about the color associated with envy or a hair-color-gone-wrong experiment. I’m talking about the color of my aura.

Years ago on my frequent treks from hot and conservative Mesa, AZ to cool and mystical, Sedona, I noticed signs about aura readings and was curious about the subject. However, I harbored my fair share of skepticism. I didn’t dispute the existence of auras, I just wasn’t sure I believed the merchant’s claims that they could read or photograph the energy.

However, one day my doubt regarding auras changed when I attended an all-day women’s workshop hosted by my Buddhist group. They brought in speakers on numerous topics. It was a truly awesome event and I learned a great deal. I was happily sitting in on one of the discussions and someone asked the presenter about auras. This was not what the topic was about, but apparently my green aura was so strong she felt she needed to ask about it. One or two people spoke up and said they noticed my shining hue as well. Apparently I was like a big, emerald beacon lighting the place up like a Christmas tree.

Of course I couldn’t see it.

When I returned home, I decided to learn about the significance of a green aura. After all, green is not always associated with positive attributes. There is the green-eyed monster of envy, invading Martians with rubbery bodies and chartreuse skin, not to mention the ugly pallor of the Wicked Witch of the West.

My search led to mixed results. Since the internet was not as sophisticated as it is today, I read some pretty harsh things about green auras. My default was (and still is) to go to my local library. I picked up a few books on the topic. The one that impressed me most was “Aura Advantage, How the Colors in your Aura can help you Attain your Desires and Attract Success” by Cynthia Sue Larson.

Years later, I still find this to be the most thorough, well-researched and enjoyable book on the subject.

I was so captivated with what I read that I contacted the author and ordered my own, autographed copy. I noticed that she lived in Berkley. Ironically, my spouse, CB, had accepted a temporary job assignment in San Francisco, so I contacted Ms. Larson to see if we could meet for coffee. I was writing my first, self-help book, “Erase Negativity and Embrace the Magic Within”, and I thought she would be a great person to interview. She graciously agreed.

I took the bus to Union Square and met Ms. Larson and her spouse at a local restaurant. Due to my habit of getting lost, I decided to take no chances and I arrived nearly an hour early. Cynthia and her boyfriend walked through the door right on time. I quickly spotted the author, intuitive and spiritual coach from her picture. I was surprised that she recognized me as well. It’s hard to explain, but it was as if our recognition was on an energetic, rather than physical level. We had exchanged a few emails and I found her to be a very kind and intelligent woman.

However, being in her presence was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. She had such a high vibration that I felt I was being lifted to another realm. It was a truly magical evening of warmth, laughter and spiritual camaraderie. It was like reconnecting with a wise, kind and long-lost sister. We talked and laughed and made future arrangements (via email and the phone) to complete the interview.

After I returned to my hotel room, the happiness I felt at being in the presence of such a spiritual person lingered for hours.

After reading Cynthia’s book and following the directions on how to recognize auras, I could see that my most predominate aural hue is emerald green – the color of a healer. Other good careers for Greenies like me include gourmet cooking (hmmm, maybe someday), speech therapy, dental hygiene, social work, psychology, nursing, public relations, marketing, writing, banking, massage therapy, publishing, and sales.

Except for gourmet cooking (my culinary skills have been the butt of many jokes in my family) I have an interest in all of these fields, even if it is something as simple as my own diligence with flossing my choppers or the nightly foot massages I give CB. Since I earn my daily bread as a writer and public relations professional those career choices were spot-on.

According to Cynthia Sue’s book, other celebrities who have green energy in their auras include Tom Hanks, Shirley MacLaine, Oprah Winfrey, Lisa Kudrow and Drew Barrymore. There are others, but these are the ones that I most admire.

If you look at a chart of the chakra colors, you will find that green falls in the middle.

Starting from the root chakra in the base of your spine (red) you move up to orange in your sacral area, yellow in your solar plexus, green in your heart region, blue in your throat, indigo where your third eye is located and finally violet in the crown of your head.

While being a “Greeney” has its positive traits (who am I to argue about Oprah’s contributions to society?) I wanted to see if I could climb to a “higher” chakra plane. It doesn’t exactly work like that, but I have been conditioned with decades of linear thinking and felt my color was okay, but not good enough. At the very least I wanted to vibrate at a higher frequency like Cynthia Sue’s.

I’m not exactly a spiritual slouch. I am a devout Buddhist and chant Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and recite the Lotus Sutra every day, I study spiritual material as well as my ongoing efforts to be a better person. I also work on my breathing (I have a bad habit of holding my breath) and take a few minutes a day to express my gratitude. However, in spite of these efforts, when I hold out my hands against a white wall, I still see a shining green aura dancing away from my fingers.

Recently CB and I took a trip to Flagstaff. My energetic spouse scaled Mount Humphrey.

I took an easy nature trail around the Aspens. I love trees and marveled at the verdant leaves, lush vegetation and delicate flowers.

As I moseyed along the path I spied the largest, orange-colored mushroom I had ever seen. Along my little jaunt I chatted with a nice woman and petted her fuzzy, white puppy. I felt great. As I was about half way around my loop, I decided to take a gander at my aura. It is easier to see auras against a white background so I pulled out a business card from my fanny pack and placed my pointer finger in front of it.

Even though I was surrounded by greenery, my aura color was blue. Hurray! I moved up a color! However, before I could celebrate I decided to check again when I returned to the hotel. Alas, my aura was green again. Darn.

Of course I know this whole color-rating experiment has no bearing on spiritual growth. I didn’t move up the chain. I was simply being a part of nature, which automatically raises your vibration.

So what is my point in this story? If you want to raise your vibration, or simply enjoy a happier life here are three simple hints.

1. Surround yourself with uplifting people.
2. Take time to commune with nature.
3. Never be ashamed of who you are, whether it’s your aural color, body shape, age, professional, gender or any other characteristic. Be the very best person you can be and let your inner light shine for all to see.