Use Your Hands To Share

Today’s the day!

Hot off the presses and available for purchase!

“Use Your Hands To Share: Exercises for Hearts & Hands”

 

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This PDF downloadable booklet offers discussion questions, exercises, and craft activities for ages 3-11 years to expand and deepen the concepts in the book.

The booklet is 19 pages of fun and you’ll have immediate access upon purchase.

Already have a copy of “Your Hands Can Change the World!”?

Perfect! Get the new PDF companion here.

You can order an Ebook bundle for instant access to BOTH the book and educational resources here.

Prefer a book you can read in your hands? No problem!

You can get a signed copy of the book, and add-on of the PDF companion here.

Since the publication of my book in July 2017, I’ve had so much fun sharing it and meeting all of you. Through my books and workshops I aim to be an example of how to maintain a global perspective and sharing consciousness as a way of life. I hope you have enjoyed the book so far.

Thanks for supporting my dream, and I hope that by sharing it, we’ll inspire everyone to follow their dreams!

Together we can CHANGE THE WORLD!

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Eczema, Humility, and Strength

My son turned 2 at the end of August, and my daughter started Kindergarten this year. First of all, WHERE DOES THE TIME GO? Right!? I’m thinking about milestones and the quick pace of life. I remember when they were both infants and I thought the sleepless nights would never end. Now, I can’t keep up with how fast they’re both changing.

My son arrived in the world earlier than expected, but healthy. He’s a happy baby. He’s affectionate and funny. He’s almost always in a good mood, and he’s never met a stranger. But, his first year of life was extremely challenging.

His first three months were perfect. Normal infant stuff. But, at the 3 month mark, he developed a rash on his cheeks. This rash spread to his chest, the back of his knees, and eventually, the rest of his body. The first time I took him to the doctor about the rash specifically, she diagnosed him with eczema caused by a milk allergy. I was nursing him, so I immediately cut out all dairy from my diet. The rash persisted. And it grew to a full-body, unrelenting, swollen and angry red albatross.

Subsequent doctors’ visits were a guessing game. Our pediatrician prescribed steroids which improved the condition but only temporarily. She prescribed antibiotics in case it was bacterial. She told us to use topical creams. About the time we got the first round of steroids completed, my son caught the strep virus from my daughter, causing a major setback. More steroids and more antibiotics.

I had well-meaning friends and family come out of the woodwork with advice and questions. Everyone was understandably concerned. We tried every suggested cream, oil, essential oil blend, and home remedy. Allergy testing was suggested, and he tested positive for food allergies. Eradicating those items from his diet and mine seemed to help a bit, but his irritation was unrelenting.

In the middle of all of this, our family moved, thereby requiring a new pediatrician. Her suggestion was to do additional testing, which was uncomfortable for him and us but was ultimately a huge blessing because we found out what was going on. Basically, due to the amount of medication he had in his first year of life, combined with a (lighter) schedule of vaccinations, his little gut couldn’t handle the toxins from the medicines and his digestion was all out of whack. The doctor explained that the body’s entire immune system is controlled in the gut, and his rash was a manifestation of his imbalanced gut bacteria. She prescribed some medication and a non-dairy probiotic. He’s doing great today. He has some eczema patches here and there, but nothing compared to what he experienced the first few months of his life.

I want to write about the process because I can see how far we’ve come. The experience was humbling. People seemed to have no filter whatsoever. Comments and questions like “what’s wrong with his face?” and “oh my god, is he ok?!” were a daily occurrence. Many time I didn’t even want to leave the house. I just didn’t want people asking about it, and I was afraid of being judged.

The situation taught me a lot. First, my son is incredible. Who could blame him for being fussy or irritable during all of this? — but he wasn’t! He was happy, sweet, and very snuggley. He actually cries more now as a toddler than he did at that time. There were times that the rash was so severe and his face was so swollen his eyes were almost shut, and still, no complaining on his part. He’s a great example for all of us to be happy despite being so uncomfortable.

The situation also taught me to trust the Universe, and to trust myself. My emotions about it often got in the way, but in the moments that I was able to filter the well-meaning comments of onlookers and really tune into my own inner guidance, the message I received was that this was a process we all needed to go through. I knew that it would get better, and to keep working hard with the doctors until we got to the root of the problem. I got a great lesson in not giving up, even when results seem far away.

Today I hope that he outgrows his food allergies. We still continue with the probiotic, but he is doing really well. He’s beautiful and his eyes are wide open, bright, and shine with light. He’s strong and wild. Today, instead of shocked expressions and worrisome questions, we get comments about his beauty.

The other day I was in the grocery store and had both children with me. It had taken us a long time to get into the shopping basket and into the store. In the bread aisle, a woman approached us and she told me that she had watched us in the parking lot. She said, “I just wanted to tell you that you’re a really strong mother.”  As a mom, there have been a ton of moments when I felt anything but strong. But she’s right. I am strong. And I know I can get through anything now.

Shiny Sparks, February 12

This week my husband was out-of-town for 5 days, and I was basically a single SAH Mom. I realize there are families out there who do this on a consistent basis, but our family doesn’t, so when one parent is gone, our kids are definitely affected. My husband is extremely hands on, and we share responsibilities equally, so I was affected too.

I enjoy special one on one time with my children. But if I’m honest, I’m spoiled by the partnership my husband and I have created and after 4 days with no break at all from the littles, I was hungry for some quiet time. My youngest was actually sick all week and my oldest was extra needy because she was missing her daddy. On Saturday morning I had a moment where I felt like just getting in the car and running away! I’m sure I’m not the only mom in the world who has experienced this, and because of that, I want to share a few motivational quotes and images about motherhood that help ground me back into my heart center, and help me remember why I even chose to be a mom in the first place. Because let’s face it: motherhood is crazy, messy, challenging, frustrating, and burnout can come quickly.

As I’ve mentioned, part of the purpose for this blog is to share my own struggles so that others can find motivation and a deeper sense of purpose. Sometimes inspiration has to come from simple sources and within a 5 minute time frame. It’s not always a grand adventure. Here are my shiny sparks for the week.

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This image and quote helps me to take it easy on myself when I’m listing all the ways I think I can be doing better. The truth is that right now our little family is actually struggling financially, and we’re having a hard time replacing lost income. When I’m centered in myself spiritually, I know that money should be the least of my concerns, and this helped me to remember that. Kids are so simple, right? All they really want is our attention and love.

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Mother and Child, Xi Pan

Why does carrying a sleeping child to bed always feel so sacred?

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Mother and Child, Pablo Picasso

This image helps me remember the quiet place I have inside that knows the moment I’m in is exactly where I am supposed to be. And the outside world and my concerns about what’s next just disappear.

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The Drinking Jug, Joaquin Sorolla

My son is at that stage of wanting to do everything himself. In the moments I allow myself to let go and not be such a control freak, I see him becoming his own little person. It’s inspiring to see kids develop from infant to toddler to kid. I can’t wait to see what they become.

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“That 70’s Show” – Kitty

Ok, we’re all fibbing if we say we haven’t felt this way! This was me on Saturday morning!

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Mother and Child, Gustav Klimt

This image is one of favorite paintings in the world. Every time I see it, I feel my heart swell with the love I have for the two little souls that chose me to be their mom in this life. This painting successfully dampens my selfish nature and makes me want to work harder to connect to my children.

So, there it is. Motherhood kicks my butt sometimes, but I wouldn’t change it. I’ll tell you a secret: I actually never saw myself having children, but life had different plans and here we are with two strong souls to care for. I’m changing for the better, whether I like it or not.

If you’re a mom and you’re reading this, I hope you have an amazing week of ups and downs. I hope you can find the grand adventure within the mundane.

 

My Crowdsourced Life

I want to talk about community.

The dictionary defines community as:

  • a unified body of individuals
  • a social state or condition

There is an implied consciousness behind it.

And the word togetherness:

  • warm fellowship, as among members of a family
  • the quality, state, or condition of being together

They are ideas that sound easy enough on paper, but I’ve found that actually creating community and togetherness takes tremendous inner transformation.

Sometimes in my enthusiasm, I come on strong in relationships. I go full force, straight forward with no pause to think if the other party needs or wants that amount of energy. Sometimes I make a mistake in thinking that because we have common interests or are members of the same community there is an automatic bond. I forget that things take time to build. The same applies to personal interests and challenges: it can be all-or-nothing.

People that I admire or look to as examples tell me to “let go.”  Let things flow. Don’t try to always have the answers. (Insert a sigh, eye roll, or scream.) This is a challenge for me. The cycle of negative tape plays in my head, where I imagine the worst case scenarios of what will happen “if”…

My chest tightens, my energy gets small and trapped and I feel like I can’t breathe. My brain plays the common trick of convincing me that if I can control everything, I won’t have anything to worry about.

This approach doesn’t yield good results, so my focus in the past few months has been to take the hard advice: let go, let things flow, and don’t try to always have the answers. It requires constant vigilance. It’s baffling how quickly I slip back into trying to do everything myself and the chaos that often follows the decisions made in this state of mind. I have some challenges in my life that are so familiar: old patterns, old thinking, all of it the same old garbage that I can’t seem to break free of. I feel broken, helpless to change myself.

This is where I think community and togetherness come in. This is the energy behind the contemporary trend of crowd-sourcing: we can do it alone, but we’re so much stronger when we do it together. When we invest in something as part of a group of like-minded people, we want to contribute instead of expecting a return.

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My life is crowd-sourced. People who love me more than I deserve at times contribute to my potential. They look past my flaws and over-sharing and child-like enthusiasm and see my light. My parents accept my out-of-the-box lifestyle and support me in more ways than I can write in an essay. Sometimes I’m so committed to my own point of view that I can’t even receive this love. People in my life show me their heart and I reject it. Or I twist it to fit into my own understanding of what it means to share and miss an opportunity to experience the growth that can only come from admitting that I don’t know.

As I write this I’m in the middle of a situation that has an open ending. I don’t know how some of the challenges will resolve. But in the past few weeks, I’ve had people step forward to offer a hand up in ways that I would have never imagined. And it seems to happen in the blink of an eye. Somehow, I’m in the right place at the right time and an opportunity is presented through people and places that surprise me. So far, the results have been far better than my original plans. I’m humbled by my small perspective. I limit my reality if left to my own devices.

My crowd-sourced life is a wonder. I am in awe of what we can accomplish when we set our egos aside and commit to a common goal. My relationships are stronger when I step back a bit and let things build organically. My fears of not being loved are replaced with the knowing that sometimes love shows up in minutia, but is no less grand. If I get out of the way, I don’t miss it.

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Why Me?

I have several branches of writing work here on My Circle Game, and I hope to be able to highlight things one at time. This week, I’m working hard on preparing something I’m proud of, and have been excited to offer – Write to Change Your World – an Intuitive Journaling Workshop.

I wanted to take a moment and talk about why I created the workshop, and how it can help you. What’s this workshop all about, and why should you work with me?

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I’ve always dreamed of being a writer. Somewhere along my life path I lost my way, so like many aspiring authors, I took a circuitous path to acting on those dreams until I was older. I have always written in my journal, and my notebooks are full of stops and starts, and some strong completed pieces I never shared. Does that sound familiar?

When I committed completely to writing no matter what, I found that I had some serious obstacles. I had disparaging self-talk, fears about my worthiness, and self-doubt. I know that I’m a good writer, but sometimes those negative thoughts are louder than my soul voice.

I’ve taken a lot of writing courses, and they were all great. I’ve received valuable skills to enhance my own writing talents, and I got a lot of great writing prompts and ideas. I even made a few new friends. I also took spiritually based courses to clear my negative thoughts, expand my own energy, and generally re-connect to that joy and zest for life that I felt I was missing. But, I wasn’t able to find a class or workshop that combined the creative skills with energy work. I wanted something designed for the creative arts, even if it wasn’t specifically about writing.

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So, after a lot of practice, I created this workshop because it’s something I want to see in the world. I began combining my favorite tools and over time developed a formula that helped me to clear out my limiting thought patterns and create from a deeper space of connection – to my truest voice.  I do not use this formula every day, but I use it when I feel stuck or when I feel I need some internal clarity.

I’ve had some positive results: in 2017 I wrote and illustrated a children’s book, and I created this website. I also created this workshop in 2017, and it continues to evolve and grow.  I published my book in July 2017, and I’m actively developing my second book and educational resources to extend the book series in a classroom setting. While I don’t feel it’s ethical to promise specific results for you, I do feel this workshop is a powerful tool you can use as needed to enhance your own capacity for creativity.

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Me at a recent book signing.

I’d love to share it with you.

Is now the time?

If this resonates with you, I’m offering the workshop LIVE online on Sunday, February 18th at 11 a.m. CST.

For additional information, or to reserve your spot, please see the event on my Facebook page.

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If you can’t make it in person – you can still sign up! In addition to the 1-hour workshop, you’ll receive all the handouts used in the course, and a recording of the workshop.

Shiny Sparks: February 5

Last week was challenging, and finding inspiration wasn’t my main focus. In truth, finding beauty usually comes easily to me. I often see it in the world despite crazy things happening all around us, and I prefer to look at life from a brighter perspective. But this past week I had a financial surprise, my daughter was home sick for the entire week, and I had some deadlines that were stressful. My husband and I didn’t exactly argue, but there was pressure on both sides from external stressors, and we weren’t as unified as usual. So, there wasn’t a lot of time for movie watching and book reading. I did get some writing done, but I didn’t have any extra room in my schedule. It was business and survival mode!

But this is exactly why I decided to write a weekly blog about things that inspire me. What do we do when we don’t have a lot of time to connect to the muses? How do we keep our internal spark engaged when everything around us is real life and responsibility?

This week, I kept it simple. I didn’t have a lot of time, but I had a big desire to keep my consciousness elevated and focused, so I relied on one of my new favorite things: The Universe Has Your Back card deck by Gabrielle Bernstein. Beautifully illustrated by Micaela Ezra, this 52-card set is based on Bernstein’s bestselling book with the same title. The book is great, and Bernstein’s story is powerful and absolutely worth reading. But these cards are nuggets of deep wisdom made accessible and urgent, and Ezra’s artwork makes that wisdom vivid and gorgeous. These cards are wildly uplifting and insightful. Take a moment to just consider the title itself. Isn’t it great?!

TUHYB Deck

 

My ritual for working with the cards is simple: I take a deep breath, close my eyes for a moment, and ask the universe for the messages I need. Then I randomly pull 1-3 cards from the deck. I use them as a contemplative tool for the day, and I find the process heart-opening and revealing. Here are some of the cards I pulled out of the deck this week:

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Aren’t they gorgeous? I think the quotes are extremely rich and as I stated, deep and contemplative, heart-opening, and energy expanding. I love them and I think they’re an uplifting and positive addition to anyone’s collection of spiritual go-to tools.

Do any of the cards pictured speak to you or help answer a question you’ve had lately? I would love to hear about it, or any other tool you use that helps you maintain your joy and zest for life.

This week, today, this moment – I hope I am always aligned with my truth. I appreciate the people who are sharing their truth widely so that I can be reminded of what I already know to be true. Universe…show me something beautiful today. And may I always have the integrity to access my truth from within, so that I may share it with others.

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*Please know this post contains affiliate links, which means that if you choose to purchase something I recommend, I’ll get a small percentage. I really appreciate the opportunity to share awesome things, and I appreciate your support of my blog. If you’re not into affiliate links, please don’t click on them…but I hope you’ll still read my words anyway.

 

Diamond in the Rough

My father came to visit one afternoon

he triumphantly presented

a small blue box with an appraisal

my grandmothers wedding ring

he said this is yours now

 

I don’t have a lot of experience with diamonds

I don’t wear bling

my wedding ring is a modest silver band

with a little message on the inside only I can see

I don’t have a lot of experience with diamonds

I don’t have a lot of experience with my grandmother

 

The diamonds on her ring

are not the pristine princess cuts of my prime

no, they’re an organized little cluster

that looks quickly encased

in a time more ragged and primitive

rough diamonds

I think I’m a rough diamond

 

I imagine what my grandmothers ring

her diamonds

would feel like in my mouth

crystalline points cold against my tongue

little rocks scratching the thin layer of my inside cheeks

I hear the stones click against my teeth

 

Maybe if I swallow the gems

feel them travel down my trachea to land

cushioned in my gut

I will understand the allure

the diamonds could shine from my insides

and then I could shine

we could shine, she and I

 

I think my grandmother was a rough diamond too

undeveloped and battered

sometimes a diamond looks more like coal

 

I want to turn back our time

I want us to be diamonds

our ruffled tangled outside transformed

transparent and free from flaws

now precious stones, she and I

 

Thank You, Half Price Books!

I had an in-store book signing at Half Price Books in Dallas on Sunday. I’m excited to share some of the pictures, and share a little about the fun experience.

Many bookstores will host book signings for independent authors. Each bookstore is a little bit different – some take a portion of your sales, some offer your book on consignment, and some will simply host your event for free. Half Price Books is a great opportunity because it doesn’t take a portion of the profits from what you sell, and you get to sell your books directly. You don’t have to get your book into their inventory or do sales through the cash register. Also, the location I was at is a high-traffic location, and I was there at prime time on a Sunday. I feel it was a successful day, and I am truly appreciative to Half Price Books for hosting me. I had a great experience.

Thanks to everyone who came out. I have just a few copies left, so if you’ve been thinking about grabbing your signed copy, be sure to purchase it here at the special author price.

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Shiny Sparks: January 29

When I decided to take my blog more seriously, and really treat my idea as the magical possibility I know it is, I wanted a simple way to plan the weekly content. I want consistency and ease for myself so that I don’t self-sabotage. I also want to create the blog/website that I want to read. So, the idea of a “Monday Motivation” came forward, and this will be my weekly interpretation of that.

I want to share a few things that have inspired me this week. I know myself pretty well these days, and I’ve observed that if I don’t actively seek out inspiration, I let my creativity take a back burner. Well, since the publication of my book, and some personal challenges this year, I find I’ve got a bigger desire to maintain a level of creativity that actively pushes me toward greater personal expression. Here are this week’s shiny sparks: 1 book and 1 documentary that ignited my creative fire.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert

This non-fiction book offers funny, inspiring, and poignant insights into the art of living your creativity. Author of  Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert delivers sparkling observations of brave and joyous creative action. She shares a story in the beginning of the book which sets up the whole idea of “Big Magic.” It’s a funny, fascinating, enchanting story that will delight you. I was completely hooked! In each section: Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence, Trust, and Divinity – the creative process is dissected, reorganized, and put back together in a way that makes you just want to go out and make your dreams actualized. I loved the book. It took me a long time to read it because I’m a mom, but it’s a page turner. I related to many of the stories, and now that I’ve finished it, I feel like I have a deeper and more spiritual understanding of my own creative process. I also have a stronger courage inside to pursue my vision with more joy. I highly recommend it.

 

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Theatre of Life, directed by Peter Svatek

This documentary, currently available on Netflix, follows chef Massimo Bottura, who is opening an unorthodox soup kitchen – gourmet meals for the needy from food waste at the 2015 Milan Expo. I enjoyed learning about Massimo Bottura and his work when I watched the Netflix documentary series, Chef’s Table, so Theater of Life was an easy sell for me. Massimo Bottura is a fascinating person with a positive and adventurous outlook. Theater of Life is a captivating meditation about waste. The story is intercut between Bottura’s experiences opening the kitchen (the Refettorio Ambrosiano), and the personal lives of 6 people he feeds. The homeless people and refugees interviewed have incredible stories to share, and each of them do so with elegance, acceptance, and urgency. Despite their hardships, they maintain the hope that their lives will improve and their dreams will still come true. Their time together at the soup kitchen, the “Refettorio,” is not only a delicious meal, but also the opportunity for friendship, camaraderie, and support. Bottura enlists the helps of 60 chefs from about the world, and 19 of them appear in the film. (Including one of my favorites, Ana Ros. You can watch her episode of Chef’s Table on Netflix.) Directed by Peter Svatek, this film will leave you contemplating the idea of waste, and what it means to be a helper in the world. It left me wondering what kind of world we’d live in if everyone with the resources would be willing to contribute so much to others? At just 90 minutes, you can watch this after kiddo(s) bedtime or in short sections. I was moved by it, and I am excited to recommend it.

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Mossimo Bottura in Netflix’s Theater of Life.

Have you found any new inspirations lately? Feel free to share! If you check out one of these, I’d love to hear your response. I hope your week is nurturing, creative, and inspired. If it can’t be that way all the time, I hope you can at least grab it in moments, and use it to propel you to bliss.

Use Your Words

I’m working on the second book in my children’s book series. It’s about our mouth: our sense of taste and our teeth – the material world aspect of our mouths. It’s also about the power of words – the spiritual world aspect of our mouths. I write about how to use our 5 senses in a deeper way in daily life. So, it’s no coincidence that I’m writing about words. I started my books in early 2017, and because I illustrate them myself, and I’m a SAH mom, the process can take longer than I would prefer. I started working on the second book late in the summer, and soon after, I began to see the deeper lessons in our speech reflected back to me, practically at every turn.

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We’re in a moment with words. Our collective experience of #metoo and #timesup have offered a safe harbor for people to share their stories of abuse and harassment. Personally, I am glad it’s happening. Whether it is Hollywood, sports, religion, or business organizations, it’s time to let it all out. It isn’t easy. I see myself as a compassionate and supportive purpose, yet I see my prejudices and judgements pop up. I must examine where they originated. I read testimonials that trigger my own victimization and must ask myself why I haven’t spoken up. We’re all being forced to look at the ugly side of some intense issues, and my hope is that by doing so, we can truly begin to heal.

But speaking up and speaking out is a lingering challenge. I don’t think we’ve been trained to use our words. Our society doesn’t accept a survivor’s tale at face value. We’re not surrounded by encouragement.

I have an entire folder on Pinterest that’s nothing but pretty words against pretty backgrounds. Sometimes when I need a pep talk, I’ll go there and read and read until the heavy feelings lift. I have images that remind me not to compare myself to others, quotes about honoring your truth, poem excerpts I find lovely, and many other examples. I consume a substantial volume of positive words because I want the words I say and write to be beautiful. I keep thinking that if I hear and read elegant artistry as much as I can, I’ll quiet the societal brand. It takes a tremendous effort to undo the negative things we see and hear. Think about it in your own life for a moment: how many years has it taken you to let go of the negative things you heard as a child?

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A glimpse of my “Words Have Power” Pinterest Board

I was never trained how to use my words. I became a people pleaser. It’s easier to tell myself that I’ll just let it go instead of speaking up because I don’t want to rock the boat. But if it’s a big enough issue, it will turn into resentment. Then, there are the times I’ll muster up the courage to say difficult things out loud, but my delivery is harsh because I feel insecure. Or I spend so much time apologizing for what I’m about to say that all the energy behind what I had hoped to express gets deflated. Sometimes I feel nervous, and that insecurity turns into lack, so I’ll try to fill the space with chatter. My messages get lost in my tone or delivery. I can see a lot of personal growth in this area, but it takes work on my part and there are times I still fall back to the old pattern of thinking I, and therefore my experiences, don’t matter.

Honoring my own truth as a writer has primarily been about changing negative thought patterns. It’s an ongoing process of letting go. I’ve let go of the fear of feeling exposed, or the need for every person who reads my work to fall in love with it. All I can do is write in my truest voice about things that are valuable to me and hope that it helps those who read it. Sometimes I think it’s all been said before. Why bother? Get a real job. Then, I’ll remember that I haven’t said it yet, and therefore it’s inherintely valuable. Speaking as honestly as I can becomes paramount.

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A line from my little book keeps running in my head as I write this: When you use your words, think of all the love you feel…

This is my dream for the future of words. That whether we have to say something painful, or we’re offering a sincere compliment, our words will remain heart-opening. That our words will continue to be a catalyst for positive transformation. And I know it begins with me.