Saturday, June 30, 2012

Love Champions: Heart Chakra Healers


Ohio 2012 State HS Track Meet
“When you have love in your heart, you draw the very best out of everyone, for love sees only the best and therefore draws forth the best. Be not afraid; open up, hold nothing back, and let it all flow freely.” ~ Eileen Cady

“Always show more kindness than seems necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.” ~ Colin Powell

 “Only when we give joyfully, without hesitation or thought of gain, can we truly know what love means.” ~ Leo Buscaglia


My son came home from the Ohio’s 2012 State High School Track Meet finals very excited.  He said I had to see the pictures he took on his cell phone: “It was so great.”  I initially thought it was a picture of one of his classmates winning one of the races or a field event.  He showed me his tiny cell phone screen; it was a picture similar to the Associate Press pick-up (Picture above).  He gave me a play-by-play commentary on how the West Liberty 3200 meter runner, Ms. Vogel, picked up the injured girl (her competitor) and helped her across the finish line.  Ms. Vogel was coming up from behind and then pushed her across the line before her.  His coach was quickly told the team: “This is what good sportsmanship is all about.  It’s what you keep talking about.”  My son then said the whole stadium crowd stood and applauded.  Looking at the picture, I thought no this is what love looks like.

That picture went viral.  People seemed to share Ms. Vogel’s act of kindness.  However, there were others who didn’t feel the same way.  Paraphrasing one American radio talk show host, he felt Ms. Vogel’s act was another indication of the decline in American culture which is suffering from a decline of “hard manliness” (Columbus Dispatch).   I sit back and wonder – when did kindness, caring and loving cease being a part of American’s core ideal?   Founding Father Thomas Jefferson stated: "Adore God. Reverence and cherish your parents. Love your neighbor as yourself, and your country more than yourself. Be just. Be true. Murmur not at the ways of Providence."

The backlash against someone doing showing kindness isn’t an isolated incident.  I’ve been seeing it on a more frequent basis – just turn on the news or drive in traffic during our heat record days.  Even on the PBP, some of the writers have received “nasty messages.”  Sadly, part of me believes if Mother Theresa would have demonstrated Ms. Vogel’s act of compassion even she would have received put-downs.   It is my belief that the decades of oppressive, cruel and hateful behavior are now enshrined as the Great American Archetype, the hero who has true grit and will stand their ground using these behaviors.  Somewhere, the pieces “about pulling together” and “helping someone up” has been cut out of the American quilt.  I also believe based on the work done by Caroline Myss, these behaviors exhibited, indicate symptoms to a greater problem – imbalanced chakras at both an individual and society level. 

~#~

7 Chakra Energy Centers
“Sometimes there’s more in the picture than meets the eye.”  Both my Grandmothers always used this phrase.  The same can be said about the human body.   We can see and touch the body that’s in a solid state, but what we can’t see are the numerous energy bodies both within and around the body (i.e., Etheric, Astral, Mental and Spiritual).  Each of these bodies gives off different electromagnetic wave frequency. 

Chakras are the seven major and 122 minor energy centers found in the body and provide the connection between physical body, its energy bodies and the cosmic source (Motherfather Spirit). 
Chakras have been described as specific types of flowers, spinning vortexes and wheels.  Each are spinning and emitting energy at different frequencies.  The seven chakras’ frequencies relate to the colors found in the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.   The size and brightness of a person’s chakras vary due to multiple factors such as age, physical condition, energy levels, disease, or stress.  Additionally, each chakra provides a specific challenge for one’s spiritual quest on this earthly plane.    

“The state of each chakra reflects the health of a particular area of your body. It also reflects your psychological, emotional and spiritual well-being.  Every thought and experience you've ever had in your life gets filtered through these chakra databases. Each event is recorded into your cells. In other words, your biography becomes your biology.  When chakra energy is blocked or misdirected, emotional and physical illness can arise” (Myss).

~#~

The Heart Chakra is an interesting energy center.  It contains lessons about our relationships with others, how we accept ourselves and our gifts, love, commitment and compassion, hatred, grief, and self-centeredness.   It also understood that the Heart Chakra maintains a sense of balance between the three chakras found above (experiences mentally and intellectually) and three chakras found below (experiences in the physical world).  It does this by providing stability to the mind and body by integrating the messages received by the other six chakras.  In many cultures and faith traditions, the Heart Chakra is considered the central home to the spirit or soul. 

One could say that their Heart Chakra is in balance if they if they have no problem with accepting themselves and others and having an understanding and ability to use and share their unique gifts and talents with the world.  This person understands that we are all interconnected and need to care for each other.  They are forgiving, trusting and nonjudgmental and people feel good around them.

If you are feeling or acting in the following manner: dishonest with money, possessive, jealous, reckless, angry, resentful, cruel, fearful  – your Heart Chakra is out of balance.  If people are avoiding you – you might self-reflect on these behaviors and emotions.

~#~

Activities that help heal my heart chakra

People move in and out of balance in all their Chakras.  For me, my imbalance is a result of forgetting to take care of myself.  This means: eating candy for stress rather than taking a walk; not taking a lunch break which includes a walk; not journaling; clutter overload because I plant myself in front of the TV.

I'm a firm believer in the phrase: "Healer - heal thy self first."  If you aren't together there's no way you will be able to help others, let alone help the world.  I'm also a believer in leading by example - in this case healing by example.  

Below are some of the tools I use on myself - you may find these helpful or find out what works for you.  As I've stated before in this blog, sometimes you may need some assistance in healing old wounds.  A CCWWW has no problem seeking a licensed counselor or a social worker to help out - (note the second W is for wise not weak). 

Good stones/crystals to meditate with - All the green stones – I’ve had good success with moss agate, green jasper.  Additionally, I have a nice piece of rose quarts that I use. 

A meditation I like in general.  There are many "healing the heart chakra" on youtube.  I really like meditating to Andreas Vollenweider.  

Journaling or a good hike in the woods.

Foods that health the heart chakra
•Leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, dandelion greens, etc.
•Air vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, celery, squash, etc.
•Liquids: green teas
•Spices: basil, sage, thyme, cilantro, parsley

Moosewood Green Goddess Dressing - served over a bed of mixed greens
Moosewood is my favorite restaurant in Ithica, NY.  If you are headed out to hike in the Adirondack or Vermont traveling from Ohio - a great place to stop.
1 cup vegetable oil (olive oil)
2 tablespoons cider vinegar or fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey or 2 tablespoons apple juice
5 to 6 spinach leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon fresh (or dried) basil
1 teaspoon fresh (or dried) marjoram
1 teaspoon salt
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 cup buttermilk

Blend all of the ingredients, except the buttermilk, for one minute. While the blender is running, slowly pour in the buttermilk. As soon as the dressing thickens, turn off the blender or the dressing will separate and become runny. It should be thick and creamy. Chill at least 30 minutes so the flavors have a chance to meld. Other herbs can be used to vary this dressing. Dill, tarragon, oregano, a dab of Dijon mustard and freshly ground black pepper are all possible additions or substitutions. Fresh herbs in season are always our choice when available. Yogurt or sour cream may be substituted for the buttermilk. However, buttermilk makes the creamiest and stable (non-separating) dressing. Refrigerated and tightly covered, it will stay fresh for up to a week. If the dressing separates, re-blend.

Makes about 2 cups (16 servings).
Approximate values per serving: 129 calories, 14 g fat, 1 mg cholesterol, 1 g protein, 1 g carbohydrates, 0 fiber, 152 mg sodium, 98 percent calories from fat.

Heart Healing Ice Tea
Ingredients
• 1/2 cup fresh lemon balm leaves
• 2 tablespoon fresh lavender buds
• 2 cups hot water
• 2 cups cold water and ice

1. Steep lemon balm and lavender in boiling water about 3    minutes.
2. Add cold water and ice to pitcher
3. Strain tea into pitcher
4. Serve over additional ice (lemon wedges are optional).
Note - I like my tea strong.  If this is too much for you dilute it.  

Bibliography:
Myss, Caroline. Anatomy of the Spirit. Crown Publishing Inc. 1996.
Myss, Caroline. “Chakras.” 2010. www.myss.com Web. 29, 2012. http://myss.com/library/chakras/  

Monday, June 25, 2012

Mirror Mirror on the wall spell

A Young Girl Looking in a Mirror

The body is a sacred garment.” ~ Martha Graham

“If anything is sacred, the human body is sacred.” ~ Walt Whitman

“Know that your body is the temple of the living God; there you may seek communion. There you may seek counsel as to the choices to be made, the directions to be taken.” ~ Edgar Cayce

“You can safely assume that you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” ~ Anne Lamott
Confessions: 
1) I have never been able to scry.  Nor was I able to see my true love on Imbolic night.  2) I have a love/hate relationship with my mirror.
Phew that is out of the way…..
I consider myself a typical woman who was brought up in the 1960-70’s with the Disney Original Three:  Snow White, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  I remember how I’d sit with my dolls and my brother’s borrowed GI Joe (casted as a Prince) and reenact the movie plots including the happy songs.  Little did I know, I’d been mesmerized by the subtle messages these tales gave me about beauty, body image and women’s relationships with one and other.  You might say, I’d drunk the Kool-Aid or would that be looked into the mirror and became like the poor angry Queen in Snow White - struck with body anxiety each time I caught my reflection in the mirror or look at another woman. 

Traditionally, fairy tales were a form of moral lessons.  They were mostly told by women to entertain their children while they spun or did housework.  When these oral stories were finally written down, some of their essences were erased.  Yes, the plot lines are roughly the same, but there is evidence showing how writers like Charles Perrault and the Grimm brothers changed the stories.  In Perrault’s case, he made the heroines more appealing to the Seventeen Century French Royal Court.  The heroin’s character was re-written to emphasize model virtues for a sovereign wife: enjoys and volunteers for housework, obedient and doesn’t display having any opinion, exhibits physical beauty that includes being demure, petite, kind, an ability to communicate with animals and plants, and depends on others to help her change her situation, and needs a male for life fulfillment – especially one who will sweep her away to happily ever after.  And the supporting actresses?  Fairy Godmother, Step-mother/ evil queen and step sisters - no one wants to be cast as the last two characters based the narrative descriptions: mean, ugly, untalented…

Disney isn’t the only one to blame for this spell’s endurance.  The Mirror Mirror Spell is very complex and is embedded in our society’s intricate social, economics, and political networks.   The “Beauty Industry,” an outcome of this spell, is an international, multi-billion dollar industry luring women with “Hope in a Jar Elixir.”  Their commercials echo the prevailing culture by feeding on women’s sense of deficiencies.  They offer self-improvement tutorials: sharing the celebrity beauty secrets of Ellen Degeneres and Queen Latifa (Cover Girl); touting the latest weight loss plans of Marie Osmond (Nutrisystem) and Jennifer Hudson (Weight Watchers).    Television reality shows like “The Swan,” “The Biggest Loser” or “What Not to Wear” are mini-seminars done by shaming and embarrassing the ‘contestant’ into conforming to the ‘ideal.’  Before and after pictures are always included showing the results which anyone can achieve they put in the money, discipline and effort.  The body becomes just another consumer good changeable like re-decorating a house.  Victims of this spell become locked into believing that happily ever after is dependent on these 400 year old notions

For me, the Mirror Mirror Spell began to unravel in my late twenties when I read the Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and similar work done by Jean Kilbourne, Diane Stein and Z. Budapest.  Similarly, it began to fall apart even more when I began to reanalyze the belief that the Body is a Temple for the spirit (Note: a belief found in many faith traditions) that honors Motherfather Spirit by sharing its unique gifts and talents with the Earth.  I began to look at how I treated my body in relations to supporting my physical health to do this work.  I began to examin the foods I ate, identify my methods for handling stress, and the types of exercises I needed.  Each of these points was about me and not about looking or policing other women.  (Note: there isn’t a one size fits all – we weren’t created that way).  It also made me carefully examine the self-hating mental tapes re-running through my mind about my - name the body part that needed to be changed   ("Is that a zit on your chin?”  “Your hair is too straight and brown.”  “Maybe you should get a nose job.”  “You’re getting kind of round around the waist?”).  These recordings showed no respect, value or Divine worship for my Temple.  These recordings only reinforce the Mirror Mirror Spell. 

Dove Campaign - Love your Body
I’m a firm believer that education and mass media campaigns (i.e., Love Your Body) can be used to unravel this spell, but I don’t believe this will be sufficient to crack the mirror. Likewise, I don’t think there will be a wave of the wand moment when the spell is transformed and we all are considered having beautiful bodies and get happily ever after.  However, I do believe we each have a role in making this change in ourselves and helping others like their Temple.  Z. Budapest writes in Sage Woman:  “Women’s Liberation is achieved when I assume responsibility for myself and extend this to other women....Liberation cannot come until you are responsible for yourself.  You assume total responsibility for your choices....When a woman is empowered she finds her mission in life.  An empowered woman looks after civilization, creates art and comforts, and nurtures all that she is invested in.  As she learns more about her own womanhood, she realizes all women are her sisters.”





Activities:
Self-blessing:
There are many wonderful self blessings:

This is my favorite done by Fran Frazier of Central Ohio.  She teaches young high school women to do this daily. 
Materials: lotion – your favorite scented or unscented. Or better yet – create your own scent with essential oils (Essential Oil Scents for self love - frankincense, sandalwood, angelica, cedarwood, jasmine, lavender, rose, neroli, rosewood, and myrrh.)

Done daily after getting out of the shower. 

Put dime size amount of lotion in your hand and rub it into your foot saying aloud: “I love my foot.”  Put another dime size of lotion in your hand and do the same with the other foot saying aloud: “I love my foot.”  Continue with each body part telling it aloud that you love it.  (i.e., caves, thighs, hips, bum, stomach, breasts, hands, arms, shoulders, back, neck, face, neck….)

Celebrate National Love Your Body Day - October 17, 2012

For my men friends - you too have been caught in this spell and I would need to write another post on this injustice - check out the work by Jackson Katz - he is doing this work.  


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Walking the Labyrinth: Traveling through life.

Man in the Maze
The story of Titoi, the man in the maze is also the story of every human being, traveling through life as through a maze taking many turns while growing stronger and wiser as death at the dark center of the maze comes closer.  Tracing the light path with your finger you will find one more turn at the end, away from the center.  Here we can look back on the trail and find acceptance of the last step. ~ Tohono O’odham Nation’s story.

Cathedral Chartres

In the summer of 1998, I was six months pregnant and sitting on the church basement’s floor painting.  A group of us had received a grant to re-create a replica of the Cathedral of Chartres, France Labyrinth (42 feet wide in diameter and 16 inch wide path).  Ours was painted in dark purple on white gessoed canvas unlike the original that was embedded in tile into the church floor.   

I had bribed my two brothers-in-law with pizza to help layout the design using their surveying and mechanical engineering talents.  Their skills brought in the invisible 13 point star which is vital for finding the placement of each path and the six petal rosette center.  Dr. Lauren Artess in her book Walking a Sacred Path, writes about how sacred geometry was used to create the Chartres’ Labyrinth.  The ancients believed that sacred geometry was necessary to bridge the earthy world to that of the sacred.  The Chartres’ Labyrinth is one example.  These sacred spaces were purposefully constructed to uplift the spirit in an unconscious way using geometry, numerology mysticism - prime numbers, the Golden ratio and that formula you learned in 9th Grade Algebra named Pythagorean.  It is Artress belief that the 13 point star is the key for providing the flow of sacred energy into the labyrinth (64).

 ###


Last week I took my fourth trip down the winding path of the Grand Canyon.  The Anasazi people (Ancient ones) considered the Grand Canyon a holy site that connects people to place.  It’s been relatively recent that I’ve considered this holy site similar to the Glastonbury Tor: a three dimensional labyrinth.  Unlike the Tor whose path climbs up to the heavens, the Grand Canyon pilgrim descends down into the depths of the earth. 

We hiked down Bright Angel Trail that descends into the side of the canyon.  The trail was built by the Havasupai (Havasu 'Baaja) Nation for access to a water source (Garden Creek) found at Indian Garden. The Havasu like many desert dwellers settled seasonally in this area.  We chose this trail because the only camp sites were available at Indian Gardens.  (Note: Backcountry passes fill up quickly during the summer months).   

The Bright Angel Trail isn’t for the casual pilgrim dressed in flip flops and a sports drink.  The trail has 20 switch backs that descend steeply down Indian Gardens (5 miles).  This trail is beautiful with geology, plant life and wild life; and compared to the South Kaibab it offers shade only until 10:00 am.  After 10:00 am the canyon walls are heated up by the Arizona sun to oven like temperatures.  When we reached Indian Gardens at 10 – the temperature was 95 F with noon temperatures in the 102 F. 

My approach to Bright Angel is similar to any labyrinth.   I opened with a prayer asking Motherfather Spirit for guidance during the  hike.   This time I really didn’t have any pressing questions and asked that if any aspects that needed to be worked on be identified and released.  Artress describes the first part of the walk as a purging ideas and things that keep us disconnected from spirit (29).  I tend to agree with her.  I use this time to examine the dark places in my soul.  For me, these often appear as self-doubts and fears that create barriers between me and Motherfather spirit.     I often equate this process to the hero’s journey to the “supreme ordeal” as described by Joseph Campbell.  The hero faces her/his deepest fear in order to be reborn.  During this walk – my mantra was basically: purge.

The center of the Bright Angel Labyrinth is at Indian Garden.  If you look down from the south rim it is easy to identify.  It is a bright green area amongst the browns and reds.  We pitched our tents had some lunch, took a nap, and went for a wade in the springs.  We weren’t alone in our camp.  The Poles, French and fellow Americans each did the same as us.  People were quiet and only the wind whipping through the leaves was heard.   I sat at the wading pond watching the blue and orange dragonflies, playing with the tadpoles and listening to the sound of the water.  I was amused at the symbolism present by the dragonflies - paying attention and deep thoughts and their colors blue – spirituality and truth and orange – endurance, energy and balance.  I kept asking what needs to be cleansed and changed.  The voice within was silent. 

We went to bed after watching the sunset.  The stars were brilliant and glowing.  The frogs and crickets sang their nightly song.  And, the wind picked up in the trees sounding like an approaching storm in the Midwest.  Still no answer.

My trek up the trail was slow the next morning.  However, half way up, a message came to me.  I realized that my message was given before I even left on my journey.  I remembered a conversation with two New Yorkers on the tram.  One of the men said he hadn’t been to the canyon since the late seventies.  Balding, he told us he had wild heavy metal hair.  He had brought his partner because he was trying to get back to that feeling he had back then.  His description reminded me of what Mr. H told me as his intern on Navajo Nation.  “Each step should be done in honor of the Great Father who watches over you and the Mother who cradles you through your sleep.”  Mr. H also told me I needed to slow down to sync my heart, mind and spirit up.  I too long for that feeling back then, and began making promises to myself for changes bringing myself back in balance.


Activities:
Walk a Labyrinth - this is a good site to find one close you you. 

Bibliography:
Artress, Lauren. Walking a Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool.  The Berkley Publishing Company. New York, New York. 1995.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Returning from Vacation

Sorry for the lack of activity on my blog.... was out west visiting my family.  Will be putting up the "L" posts and the "M" as soon as I type them up. 

Vacation is important - it puts things into perspective and somehow gives you opportunity to eliminate 300 e-mails that are "junk" e-mails. 

Happy Midsummer and Solstice parties.... roast marshmallows and look up at the sky.

PEACE

Friday, June 1, 2012

Magical Spell of Kindness

Magnet from Bellirosa
Magic that sparkles, laughs and dances; magic you can feel in your own body; magic that takes your breath away; a beautiful magic that protects and enriches everyone who touches it; magic that really does stuff…” ~ Starfields
I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it for I shall not pass this way again.” ~ Steven Grellet

Loving kindness is not just love for some particular person, but the spiritual state of loving everybody.” ~ Tolstoy

 
There is a woman in my town whose Ohio salt rusted car is pasted with bumper stickers.  When anyone sits behind her at a traffic light you can’t help reading the messages: “Peace Now, Pay it Forward, Commit Random Acts of Kindness Daily, Have you laughed today?  LOVE Overcomes Intolerance…”  She is the same woman who dresses in Talbots' casual at our monthly gallery hop.  Instead of drinking wine and looking at the artwork, she walks up and down the ‘View’ passing out yellow smiley face confetti.  During past Memorial Day parades dressed in red, white and blue, she walks with the children cyclists carrying a sign that reads ‘Kindness is Patriotic.’  There is a special kind of magic she radiates; you can’t stop smiling.

In analyzing what this woman is doing falls into the category of what Starfields describes as “THINK magically, and ACT in a magical manner.”  The woman is following one of the master laws of the universe: You reap what you sow.  In her case, she is sowing kindness and believing this is the way to create a gentler, more loving world for all.  It has been my experience that she has never asked for anything in return.  She just wants all beings to be happy which of course seems to go against the nature of our popular culture for competitiveness. 

I believe her enchantment is part of an old group of spells whose purpose is to make other’s feel good.  In my readings, I have discovered that kindness spells are a subgroup that fall under the Classification of Love.  Unlike other spells that people have to learn and carry out under guidance, everyone is born with the ability to create and share love and kindness spells.   If we choose, we too can sow this spell by weaving acts of kindness into our day by sharing Good Mornings, Thank you and thoughtful gestures like a smile.  My experience is that not many people are doing this because they equate these spells to an economic gain or they haven’t been given an accurate recipe to follow. 

One problem I have observed is we tend to share love and kindness spells like we do money.  We hoard it, deposit in the bank for a rainy day or the right investment (i.e., If I’m kind to them - I know they will be kind to me.)  Magical spells under the Love Classification don’t work this way.  If you want to get the biggest bang for your bucks – you need to be generous in sharing love and kindness.  You need to be what my Grandmother would say as a spendthrift by handing it out willy-nilly or spontaneously to anyone on the street.  Additionally, these types of spells should be handed out without any expectation of getting anything in return.  These spells aren’t about you; it is about sharing with others.

In cases of Kindness spells, I’ve found many people are carrying out a modified recipe missing heart energy.  One reason may be that the spells are written in a coded manner within a Book of Shadows.  Historically, this has been to protect the owner from being burnt or the non-initiate from using them inappropriately.  I too am guilty of carrying out modified recipes missing heart.  My extended list of reasons include that I’m exhausted after working all day, being a Mom, taxi driver to sporting events, going to school and not paying attention to details; or deciding to change the ingredients by either cutting corners or wanting to do my own thing.   In all these cases, I have found these spells don’t turn out the way they are intended.  It’s like exchanging applesauce for butter when making cookies.  The result is a low-fat healthier cookie but the texture isn’t right.  The same can be said with those carrying out Kindness spells, they come out insincere. 

Activities

Sunshine Blueberry Mini Muffins
Z. Budapest writes in Goddess in the Office (91) a spell for bringing more cooperation into the workplace.  Her recipe includes baking cookies with traditional spices that promote friendship and happiness.  I’ve produced the same results with my mini muffins.  Similiar to her's, I've jazzed up my muffins by adding runes and magical energy.

My magical ingredients are lemons and blueberries.  Blueberries are known as a wonderful anti-oxidant today, but in witches’ lore they were used for protection.  Witches were known for eating blueberry tarts when under a psychic attack.  Lemons are known for promoting purification, love, and friendship.  The combinations of the two ingredients have brightened up my office  when I’ve shared them with heart.  And, not to mention - these mini muffins feel like a burst of sunshine on your tongue especially on one of those gray Ohio winter days. 

Ingredients
2 eggs
¾ cup sugar
1/3 cup of vegetable oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp. grated lemon peel
1 ¼ cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp salt
¾ cup fresh blueberries or frozen

Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line mini muffin tins.  Stir together dry ingredients.  With a mixer, beat eggs and sugar together until pale and thick, about 2 minutes.  Add oil in thin stream.  Stir in lemon juice and peel by hand.  Mix in flour mixture by hand using a stirring motion with the following rune signs: Wunjo (i.e., joy & happiness) and Mannaz (i.e., cooperation, teamwork, collaboration, and aid from others).   While stirring these signs into the batter, visualize their meaning using the energy from your heart.  Lightly fold in blueberries. 

Pour into muffin tins and bake for 15-25 minutes until lightly brown on the top and toothpick comes out clean.  Share abundantly. 

All you need to do is to ...

a) start to treat yourself with love, respect and kindness (that includes the way you speak to yourself, think about yourself, dress yourself, touch yourself, feed yourself, protect yourself, and entertain/delight yourself);

and

b) start treating other people, especially those who you perceive as isolated, with attention, love, respect and kindness.

This changes YOU *into* someone who will reap what they sow.

It makes you into a better person.

It's ongoing, but it is absolutely essential to leading a full and happy life.


KINDNESS
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness,
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

In the spring of 1993, Professor Chuck Wall was teaching a human relations class at Bakersfield College. He was pondering his next class assignment and was half listening to the radio news when he heard:  'We have another random act of senseless violence to report.'

In the seconds that followed, he coined the phrase.
'I just took out the word "violence" and stuck in the word "kindness". All of a sudden I had a great phrase that turned a negative into a positive.'

Later that day he walked into his classroom, and told eighteen students, ranging in age from 18 to 67, to pick up their pens. The week's assignment: 'Today I will commit one random act of senseless kindness.'

Wall says that hands went up and the students seemed confused.  One student complained: 'I don't know what I'm supposed to do.'

Wall explains: 'They wanted me to tell them what kindness was about. I insisted they figure it out for themselves