Saturday, April 25, 2009

Two questions.
One Answer
(Ball masque: Sun)

If you had all the money you needed and wanted and your health needs met, what would you do differently in your life?

This question came to me last week after a dream. Then later in the week, a colleague of my husband’s died. And the question took on new meaning, giving it even more perspective. Because, let’s face it, death is the end of this journey. With that in mind, I asked myself, the second question.

How do I want to live from now until then?

The answer to both questions is the same. I want to do what I love to do, be with who I love and enjoy it all much, much more.

I’d still want the same house that I have. But I’d appreciate it more. I’d plant more flowers and buy more flowers. I’d let myself sit out on the patio listening to the birds, sipping my coffee, reading and writing. I’d sculpt my clay, wire and copper. I’d paint and patina. I’d write blogs, articles and interviews. I’d want to publish and show my work to share it with others. I’d still want to teach in some form or other, again, to share the delight in being creative. I’d still want to make some money along the way, as a form of validation for work well done.

But I’d do it with ease, grace and flow. Gone would be the fear and guilt that has driven my life so far. If I wanted to buy something, I’d buy it. If I wanted to eat something, I’d eat it. If I wanted to go to a show, I’d go. If I wanted to go to Hawaii or Europe or New York, I’d go.

So with all that on my mind, here’s what I did today. I walked my dog to the park and around the lake with my best friend, and husband. I cleaned my house, with my husband, daughter and son, because I like living in a fresh, uncluttered place. While I dusted away, I thought about writing this piece, what I wanted to say. I had my lunch on the patio listening to birds sing, looking at purple tulips in bloom, tasting the salty ham sandwich and creamy potato salad. I worked on a few of my sculpture pieces, answered email from friends. Then I did some errands, picking up the makings for my favorite spritz and a dozen new flowering plants to fill my patio pots.

If this sounds boring to you, so be it. But to me, it’s been delicious to just live out a normal day with a new sense of ease, grace and enjoyment.

Ask yourself these two questions and see what answers come to you. Then let me know…what would you do or not do?

Now to have the courage to book that flight to Hawaii!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Dream & A Message.

(Sculpture: Lion 2009)

I woke up from a scary dream last week and felt wonderful. I felt a kind of peace, mixed with a curiosity that I haven’t felt in a long time. And I also knew I was remembering the dream because it had an important message for me. I needed to figure it out.

Here’s the dream.

I was driving my car, making a left turn through an intersection when the gas pedal stuck. The car stalled. There I was in the middle of the intersection, the light about to change, cars about to start coming my way and the gas pedal was still stuck. No matter how hard I pushed or pumped, the gas pedal wouldn’t budge. The car was stopped. I was getting frantic when I realized that I had only one option. Take my foot off the gas. This seemed like an illogical move. How could I move forward if I took my foot off the gas? I pumped the gas pedal some more, the car didn’t move. So, I took my foot off the gas. Immediately, there was a popping sound and the gas pedal was no longer stuck. I knew I could go. Carefully, I lowered my foot, gently pushing down on the peddle and the car moved through the intersection. I made my left turn, continued on my way safe and sound.

Here’s the message.

The gas peddle – my energy – was stuck. I was afraid, but no matter how hard I pushed myself, I was not able to move through the intersection. I was literally at a crossroads – a decision had to be made. There was danger to myself if I didn’t take action and forces outside my control, illustrated by the oncoming cars. And it was clear that continuing to push on the gas was getting me nowhere. So I had to face my fear, and take my foot off the gas. When I did, I was able to drive my car through the intersection, making the left turn that I had wanted to make and continue on my way. Healthy and unharmed.

I’ve been working very hard in the last year. And although, I love working in metal, clay and paint as well as writing and teaching and showing, I’ve been driven by fear. This economic recession has hit home. My husband was laid off. My two ‘children’ are living at home. My art work has made money but it’s been small amounts that were ‘perks’ to our family budget, not necessities.

I didn’t want to give up my art work. It’s a career that I’ve been working on for over a decade now. So, I did the only thing I thought I could and that was make more work, show in more shows, and line up more classes. And I’ve done just that, in the last year, I’ve made over 30 new pieces, shown in over 14 shows, written on more blogs, tried new online networking/marketing sites and lined up over 20 new classes. And I’ve made a little more money. But I’ve had a lot of classes and shows that didn’t make anything. If all the classes had gotten sign ups, I’d be teaching in three different places, 3 to 4 times a week. There was a part of me that realized that this schedule was way too busy.

The dream had a message. Stop. Quit pushing yourself. That the only way to make it safely through the intersection of all these oncoming forces out of my control, was not to be more controlling. But to let go. Take my foot off the gas and allow the pedal to pop up on its own. Then I could move ahead in the direction I want to go.

Letting go. Letting the opportunities pop up, then gently, pushing down on the gas is the way to move ahead safely. Now that’s a wonderful feeling.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Doing what you love can save your life.
Book review: ‘Walking Nature Home’ by Susan Tweit

When many of us are wondering how to make a living during this fearful time, perhaps the answer is to change the question.

What if it isn’t your livelihood that was about to end but your life? If doctors told you had two to five years to live but that although, they didn’t know how to cure the illness, they did know that where patients made major life changes, their health improved dramatically. What would you do or not do? How do you deal with the fear, find your way to love, and a healthy life?

These are the questions that Susan Tweit faced in her early 20’s when she was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. As a trained scientist, she took on the research project of saving her own life and shares her journey with us in her new book, “Walking Nature Home.” Her warm and wise memoir has lessons for us all on how love, nature and finding your own creative voice are important for our very survival.

After reading and enjoying, “Walking Nature Home”, I wanted to ask Susan more about how she saved her own life by doing what she loves.

SusanGT: When the doctor told you that it's much more difficult to get well, if you're not happy, how did you find your health and happiness?

Susan Tweit: I had to learn to listen to my body and to my heart and spirit. You'd think we'd just know that--I'm sure we do as children--but as we grow up it seems like we are trained otherwise, or forget how to pay attention to those inner voices. I started by paying attention to what my body was telling me by taking notes on my symptoms: what they were, when they occurred, what I was doing or eating or feeling. It helped that I saw this as research. That somehow gave me permission to pay close attention. After a while, it just became habit. But I still didn't know what made me happy. When I'd ask myself, I was so out of practice at listening to myself that I just drew a blank. So I started paying attention to when I felt good, too, and what I was doing or eating or feeling then. Pretty soon I could actually hear that inner intuitive voice when it spoke to me. As I learned to listen to myself, I learned how to manage my health, and of course, surprise, surprise! I saw positive changes in my life too.

SusanGT: You say that you saw your illness as a teacher, a source of wisdom that you needed to hear, what lessons did you learn?

Susan Tweit: My illness forced me to find those "core values," the things that are most important to me in living a healthy, authentic life, to being myself in a positive way in the world: How to be attentive to myself. How to trust myself. How to articulate my needs in a way that was respectful to me and to others. The importance of living in an open-hearted, generous way, a way that honors all of the lives with whom we share this miraculous planet.

SusanGT: How did your illness help you find your true voice?

Susan Tweit: It gave me permission to listen to myself, to be attentive to what I heard, and to take myself and my needs seriously. It also gave me the impetus to learn who this entity I call "I" is, and what sustains my life--why living matters to me. Once I got in touch with that entity "I," I gradually found my writing voice, the genuine and unique things that the real me has to say, and how to say them in a lyrical and compelling way.

SusanGT: In your book, you talk about how love healed you and how love has been proven to heal others, would you share that story here?

Susan Tweit: I came across one of the most fascinating pieces of research about the healing power of love in Women's Bodies, Women's Wisdom by Christianne Northrup, MD. She tells a story there that I retell in Walking Nature Home: Scientists studying heart and blood vessel disease at Ohio State University bred a group of rabbits to develop both hardening of the arteries and coronary artery disease. The bunnies were then fed a killer high-fat diet, but when they were dissected at the end of the study, researchers were puzzled to discover that a significant group of them showed no trace of coronary artery disease. Finally, the grad student who fed the lab rabbits confessed that at mealtimes, she took these rabbits out of their cages to pet and play with them. Subsequent studies replicated this result: the animals that received loving attention came out clean.

What that says to me (and to others as well) is that love can heal. Being loved, being tended to in a loving way, causes chemical changes in our brains and immune systems that can actually heal our bodies. Studies of the chemicals that transport our emotions from cell to cell explain the mechanisms for that kind of healing, and studies of various sorts on touch in healing, emotions and healing, bear out those conclusions. What it comes down to is that love--not sex, not passion, but steady affection, respect, caring, and support of those who feel warmly toward us, really can help us heal.

That does not say that love will banish every health condition. It didn't make me well. But the love I live with has helped me adapt to my physical challenges, and live a good life with them.

SusanGT: So, if love heals, did you find doing what you love also created healing and health? And what are those 'things'?

Susan Tweit: What I love is writing, speaking, and restoring nature and its community at home in the places where we live. I believe in the power of love--love for my husband and family, love for nature and the community of lives whose interrelationships make this Earth a habitable and inspiring place, and love for life itself. Living in an open-hearted and generous way that respects the lives around me--human and all the others--has restored my life to a rich and rewarding path. I believe that our species has one important talent to contribute to this life and this planet: love. It is our capacity to be compassionate and generous and loving that makes us special, and could well save us. It certainly has given me back my life.

Thank you, Susan, for sharing your story with all of us. The lessons you learned about love could be life-saving lessons for us all.

You can learn more about Susan Tweit and her book, “Walking Nature Home,” by visiting her website at or her blog at

And you can participate in a teleseminar with Matilda Butler and Kendra Bonnet, phone 1-712-432-0600, access code #998458, at 5pm Pacific time/8pm East Coast. Here’s the link for you

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Walk In The Park:
An occasional series.

To quote poet, ee cummings, “in Just spring when the world is mud-lucious..”

Here, in the Pacific Northwest it couldn’t be more true. Spring arrives here in waves of rain and wind. Some call it liquid sunshine. I call it wet, windy and cold, but it does make everything bright green and mud-luscious with occasional sprinkles of pink snow from blossoming plum trees.

As I walk my dog, Jilly, around the lake, the geese squawk loudly alerting their community to our presence and warning us to keep our distance from their nesting areas. I respect their homes and their beaks. You don’t want to mess with a protective goose, it’s dangerous. One thing that never fails to amaze me is their unity as a goose community. They all watch out for each other while at the same time protecting their own nests. They group together for nightly swims, and once the goslings are hatched, they all take part in protecting, feeding and teaching them. The goose unity always amazes and inspires me to search for such group unity in my own life.

As we head out of the park and through the suburban neighborhood, I notice some daffodils that have popped up one by one through the grass in someone’s front lawn. It’s obvious they weren’t planted there. They just came up from somewhere beneath the sod on their own. The bright yellow trumpets are even more spectacular against the green grass. And the fact that they ‘stand alone’ independent of a flower bed or planter, seems amazing.

It makes me wonder. It fills me with awe. It shows me that life will spring forth out of the unknown to bloom in the most unexpected places.

In these difficult times, when I’m fearful of all the unknowns in life, these little daffodils make a powerful point; that life grows up from the dark soil, through the tough grass and blooms brightly.

That gives me hope to believe that while I might be in the dark about the future, that doesn’t mean growth isn’t happening. As I walk along my path, there’s new life springing forth and blooming. Perhaps, all I have to do is remember to lift up my eyes and see it.

Speaking of learning life lessons from nature, be sure to come back next week and when I visit with author, Susan Tweit, about her wonderful book, "Walking Nature Home."