12-12-12 is Day to Share Strength of Recovery

Picture Today is 12-12-12. Some people say it is spiritual because it breaks down to the number three.  Some say it all good luck.  Some look at it historically as the next time we will have dates with similar repetition will be 88 years from now.  Some recognize it as the last day the post office guarantees delivery of cards before Christmas 2012.  For some it is the halfway point of Hanukkah 2012.

One Sentence Changes Confusion to Hope

Picture There are times when all we need is someone to say to us “You can do it” to give us hope in our future.  Some times it takes one person to support us to trust our own possibility.  Two such situations come together this week

The words “Just write it down and figure out the how and why” were some very wise words for me many years ago.  They were said by Jeanne Loehnis and they referred to a discussion we were having about songwriting while at the concert of a mutual friend.  Even more interesting was that she and I did not know each other, yet she shared with me a “secret” to success. Jeanne was selling the performers CDs and I was signing with her.   I did as she suggested and filed the words away.  I remembered her name, yet not her face; usually I recognize and face and can’t remember the name.  Jeanne and I have chatted at other events we attended together and songwriting came up and spirituality came up and we had good conversations.   Several years another singer/songwriter told me about Nashville Songwriters Association International (NSAI) and suggested I join to learn how to write correctly.  I didn’t do much with either person’s advice for several years. I finally joined NSAI just nearly three years ago, have written several songs since–alone and with co-writers.  In the meantime, Jeanne and I attended another event where she said something about remembering me as the person who signed and I was not able to place her, even when she gave me her name.  Then we were in a church service together and it all fell into place.  I went to the service because our mutual friend was there and because Jeanne was going to be singing some of her music.  As I heard our friend say something about Jeanne helping people, and I remembered those words.  When I got up to sign a song with our mutual friend during the concert that followed the service, I was compelled to share with those present what an impact Jeanne had had on my life.  A couple years later, Jeanne slowly changed her life to become a life coach.

Jeanne shares similar words in the music she writes such as “Paving My Own Way” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mql3eE5d0mw&feature=plcp.

Today I get to take on another project because someone believed I could do it.  Jan Revell has been sick for several weeks and last week I volunteered to host Purpose Talk Radio, well something deep inside of me did that.

My Personal Scare with HIV/AIDS

Picture AIDS/HIV is a disease that effects people around the world. Living with AIDS is possible; and preventing its spread is possible with appropriate treatment and precautions.  “Getting to Zero” is the theme of World AIDS Day 2011-2015, which has been celebrated on Dec. 1 since 1988.

The spread of HIV requires the exchange of bodily fluids:  semen, blood, breast milk, and vaginal secretions.  One cannot gets HIV from drinking from a water fountain right after someone with HIV has drunk from that fountain.  It is not even possible to spread HIV for casual kissing or shaking hands, sharing towel or even from sharing food or water with someone who is HIV positive. We have heard this for many years, yet it is still a disease that sets the average person into a panic.

This past year, for the first time in my life, AIDS smacked me in the face.  I had always thought “I don’t do anything that would cause me to be concerned about HIV or AIDS. That is for other people.”  Yet, when I was told by a friend that someone I had dated died of AIDS, I had my own little panic.  There was a time when my late fiance’ Bill and I broke up and I dated another man.  In this “it’s a small world” scenario, I was chatting with a friend one afternoon about hobbies and we discovered that we had a friend in common.  He then informed me that our mutual friend had died just three months after Bill had died in a car accident 13 years ago.   I then told him that man and I had dated for a short while.

I am an information junky.  This information sent me on a search to find pictures and to the internet to prove we were not talking about the same person.  Instead, I found proof that we did indeed have a mutual friend and that he was deceased.  So, that recognition caused me to do more research about the diseases of HIV and AIDS.  When I discovered that someone could live with the HIV and not know it.  All kinds of questions went through my head.  I wondered if this man had the disease when we dated and didn’t know it.  I wondered how he had contracted it.  It also reminded me that Bill’s best childhood friend had HIV and how awful I had heard that the drug known as AZT and more commonly called “cocktails” were.  Bill had lost track of him a couple of years before he died and feared that the cocktails were no longer working.  I wondered if it was possible that I hand contracted the disease and didn’t know it.  The only way to alleviate my fears was to have a blood test.  The blood test showed I was negative.

According to the World Health Organization (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs360/en/index.html), AIDS continues to be a pandemic.

  • HIV continues to be a major global public health issue, having claimed more than 25 million lives over the past three decades.
  • There were approximately 34 [31.4–35.9] million people living with HIV in 2011.
  • Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with nearly 1 in every 20 adults living with HIV. Sixty nine per cent of all people living with HIV are living in this region.
  • HIV infection is usually diagnosed through blood tests detecting the presence or absence of HIV antibodies.
  • There is no cure for HIV infection. However, effective treatment with antiretroviral drugs can control the virus so that people with HIV can enjoy healthy and productive lives.
  • In 2011, more than 8 million people living with HIV were receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART) in low- and middle-income countries. Another 7 million people need to be enrolled in treatment to meet the target of providing ART to 15 million people by 2015.

HIV and AIDS are not the same.  However, severe cases of HIV can become AIDS.  HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) targets the immune system and makes if difficult for the body to fight off other diseases.  It takes three to six weeks from the date of exposure before the disease can be detected, yet the disease may still be transmittable during that time.  The most advanced state of HIV is AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).  AIDS takes 2-15 years to develop and yet someone can have HIV and  if treated can live a long and fairly healthy life and can even have a healthy sex life.  A woman with HIV can become pregnant and not pass the disease on to the fetus if under proper treatment.  This all means that if there is an exposure to HIV and/or a knowledge of one having HIV, that certain precautions and certain treatments are used to prevent the spread of the disease.

Since 1988 the world has set aside a specific day to stress AIDS awareness and research.  That is December 1.  It originally was chosen by the two men who “created” it–James @. Bunn and Thomas Netter, both public information offers for the Global program on AIDS at the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_AIDS_Day)   As I stated at the beginning of this blog, the theme for this year is ‘Getting to Zero.”  The only way we can do that is continued education and making sure that we are not participating in “risky” behaviors.  (I’ll say more on that in another blog.)

.Surely, you didn’t think I would just give you statistics and not offer a way for you to remember this information.  I wouldn’t do that to you.  🙂  Here is a song that says more about HIV/AIDS: http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=E2_QI3-yqJM.

For more information, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_AIDS_Day.

Thank you, DRS (12/18/1949-11/30/199), for giving me the opportunity to share this story and to become better educated about HIV and AIDS. RIP my friend.

Miracle Memory Comes to Life with Another Person’s Facebook Post

Picture I have been writing for the Facebook magazine “Women as Visionaries with Lore Raymond” for nearly two months.  At the beginning of the month, Lore has been setting up the themes for the month to give us topics on which we might want to write.  For the end of November, she set up the theme of “Miracles”..  I thought, “I have talked about my eyesight miracle, my late fiance and his connections, and my Grandma and a few other things so much recently on my Facebook profile that I don’t want to write about those for the magazine.  I can’t think of any other miracles.”  I thought that all month and then suddenly because of a Facebook post I saw, that thought pattern changed.

A few minutes ago I saw a post on the Facebook page “Daily Fillmore” about the Prayer of Jabez and it reminded me of a miracle in my life.  No, let’s get real here.  I only found the post because I was scrolling through some posts by Rev. Lynn O’Dell to catch up on what she has been doing (something I do periodically with one or two friends when I “suddenly” realize I haven’t seen any posts lately).  Among her posts, I saw one thanking people for the “likes” on the Daily Fillmore page.  Then I realized I have not seen much on that page lately, so I went to it.  On the top post was the one about “Prayer of Jabez.”  This was not something I had ever heard talked about in a Unity church and then was reminded about my history with that prayer.  I started typing a response comment that stated how this prayer once miraculously changed my life and then realized that it was too long to be a comment ant that instead I had a magazine post.  This is now what I share with you in the hope that it will be a way that you might find your miracle.

First, I went to Bible Gateway.com to find the version of the prayer as I remembered it.  Several version don’t have the part for me that was most important, as I remembered it…”that I may cause no evil”.  I finally found one that was close.

The prayer from 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 in the New King James Version of the bible reads: “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez,[a] saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.”

The book “Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson (2000), this prayer, and a study of this short, but very intense prayer, turned my life around several years ago.  I had just finished a four-week study of it at Spirit Life Church and was taught by Jeanine Rondone, where I was a member at the time, and I was going into a third interview for a position at a church to be a “hands-on bookkeeper/business manager,” a job I was not sure I really wanted or that I was really “supposed” to be doing.  I was the writer, not the accounting person.  It didn’t matter that I had been in a position of business manager in my job duties for just over a year before that, after starting as the communications administrative assistant.  I molded into the position after the business manager who I worked under left, I said I had time that I thought I could dedicate to the job, and the church couldn’t afford to hire a new full-time person so it just didn’t “feel” like a business manager position.  I know I had it on my resume and knew I had the qualifications to do the job and loved the people with whom I had had the other two interviews; I just wasn’t sure it was really a job I “should” be doing. As I pulled up to the curb of the new church where I now was applying for a , I prayed, “God, I know I just finished this class about expanding my territory, but this is really a stretch.  If you really want me doing this, you need to give me some sign because you and I both know that numbers and money are not really my forte’.”  As I reached to turn off the key to the car, the song “Prayer of Jabez” came on the radio.  I started crying and then quickly had to pull myself together because the window the the front office of the rectory faced the street and I needed to look professional when I went to the door and I needed to get out of my car soon. I knew as I walked to the door that I had the job and I went it with confidence knowing it was where I was supposed to be.  I was correct; that third interview was a formality in which I met the pastor and the two board members I had not met before.  I walked out the door with an offer.

I really had to learn the job because there was more accounting than bookkeeping and I had been away from that since college.  On top of it, when I learned accounting, it was with paper and a pencil and now it was on computer and everything seemed backward to me.  To this day, I am amazed about that job.  After three years in the position, I was really struggling.  I and the pastor agreed I should resign, yet there was a mutual agreement that I would continue to work the job until a new person was hired or I got another job, whichever came first.  That three years turned into five when the position was finally eliminated because of a four-parish merger and I was not the one chosen to stay with the new parish.  Several candidates were interviewed for my position and none were hired.  I kept looking for a job and the only ones that were available seemed to be n bookkeeping and I did not want to stay in that field, especially since my boss would not give me a good recommendation for that type of work.  I wanted to go back to general office or communications–the type of job my boss was very willing to recommend me for.  However, it opened the door for me to start school to prepare to get into the sign language interpreter training program.

As I hunted for the song, and found several versions that were not was I wanted.  They were different from the powerful one that was playing on the radio back then.  I remember that I had purchased a CD several years ago that called “Prayer of Jabez” that had eight or ten versions of songs by that same name and none of them were what I wanted.  I know somehow that almost anything I want these days can be found on the internet so I become determined to find what I wanted.  I “landed” on a video interview of Bruce with Jentezen Franklin at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pZpJDI33dc&feature=fvsr.  I wanted to go back to my hunt, yet I was drawn to listen to the 28:31-minute interview in its entirety.  It was at the 19:36-minute mark that I discovered why.  There were two additional things that came to mind.  In that interview, Jentezen talked about a third Scripture verse that he read in Revelation 3:8: “I know your works.  See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name.”

Jentezen asked if we were ready to say, “Here I am, Lord.  Take me.”  That song has another entire miracle for me that I may talk about some other time.  Suffice it to say that I was at a healing service the first time I heard that song and stopped at the church to find out the name of that song so I could take it back to my church.  When I got home, my choir director presented that song for us to learn.  That song has become the “theme” song of the Prayer Chaplain program for Unity Church and it causes me to get teary-eyed every time I hear it because I know I am opening myself to whatever God has for me.

Because I listened to that inner voice, that I call “God’s voice,” there were many other things that happened in my life.  I met wonderful people who taught me more about the religion of my upbringing than I learned in all of my years in a Catholic school.  I learned the meaning and the history behind some of the rituals from the pastor and from the pastoral associate.  I found a Catholic church where the priest was not this person who was just at church.  By this time, though, I was no longer worshipping in a Catholic church and had found a new direction to building my own relationship with God in a bible-based, tongue-speaking, Christian church (don’t get me wrong, I had not embraced the tongue-speaking prayer yet and since then I have changed to a Unity Church for weekly worship services).  Because I asked and listened to the answer about accepting the job, I was in a position that extended beyond what it was “supposed” to and to the perfect amount of time that I needed to open the next door of my life.

As all of this was revealed to me, I was reminded of another scripture verse that kept showing up around the time that I “resigned” from that second church job.  It was Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” It showed up in a Sunday lesson, it was given to me on a that was gifted to me by the music minister at Spirit Life, and the card that I received from the staff with a “going away gift” also had it on the front.

As I listened to the interview, I realized that I have been asking God to expand my business for me; however, I don’t think I have been going about it in the “right” way.  I have not told God that I was actually “ready” to receive more business.  Because of the reminder of this simple prayer and the additional bible verses, I am going to start again with my prayers to expand my business and for the help I need to get through my sign language interpreting school.  I also realized over the years that when I get something three times, I MUST listen and pay attention to it.  As the Robert Frost poem “Road Less Travel” (as that job form e was a new road, a new adventure), “I took the road less travelled…and that has made all of the difference.”

As I look back on those years and remember them, I know how my life was changed.  I look at these three pieces now and know that I was just handed another miracle if I am ready and willing to receive it.  So, I say, “Yes, God, once again, please expand my territory, I am ready for it.  I know that your plans are that I may prosper and that I will be protected.  Therefore, all fear of that expansion are being removed as I type this.  I will receive whatever plans you have for me and I will not fear them for you will find a way.”

I have been saying recently that God has been giving me “messages” for others and that I have not been hearing many for me.  I know that this is not a coincidence, that it is as I call it, a God-stance that I just created this blog and this writing.  I know that I was just given something greater than I could have done unto my own power and that it was spirit powered and that as I started this writing…”I will never be the same.”

OK, God, I still need to find that version of the song that I so loved back then.  Please help me find it so I can close this blog.  Guess what, the very next video I opened was one that had not shown up before and it the exact one I want and it took five seconds of hearing it to tell that.  It is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0X85bgGKOc8.

Thank you, God, for the miracle of remembering and giving me a message I have been seeking.  I was reminded yesterday when I talked to Katie Barbieri who is in ministerial school to become a Licensed Unity Teacher and ultimately a Unity minister that gratitude is the fifth piece of prayer.  She was saying at the time that she wished she had had her notebook with because the other four were not easily coming to her so she could teach the children.  I said to her “I don’t think it matters.  Maybe you could just teach the kids that if they have nothing else to pray when they sit down in their prayer time, then they should do a prayer of gratitude rather than making it the final part of a prayer.”  I think about even how profound that was in connection with all of this and how I have been sitting down to pray myself sometimes and not really having anything to pray about.   In reality, I have so much to be thankful for, including this miracle that I need to just be praying “thank you” sometimes.

I am going to stop this blog and go take a few minutes of prayer before I post it.  I also need to let the tears stop so I can spellcheck and re-read what just came from my spirit so it makes sense before I share it with anyone else.  “-)   However, I have discovered that anytime I have typed from spirit in the past, there are no typos and it simply amazes me.

…and so it is.

The Dream for a Music Career that Began at Age 5

Picture Sue Riley’s website says she is a “singer, songwriter, musician, promoter…and someone you should know.”  I agree, and I’d like to introduce her to you.  Sue has a gentle spirit that is heard in her live or recorded performances and is witnessed in the live shows she does as part of the Posipalooza tours.  She  has created six CDs of original music.  I would say most of the songs have a spiritual message to them. She says that she knew from a little child that music was going to be her career and has followed that calling.

Like many of the Posi Music artists, I heard many of Sue’s songs before I realized they were hers.  As I started investigating “who did that song,” I found out how much I enjoyed them.  I first “met” her via emails as I prepared to interpret for the 2010 Posi Music Awards.  I finally met her in-person at that festival and have seen her perform a a few of the Posipalooza concerts since then.  Every time I have seen her perform, it has been with a piano.

That is not surprising since Sue’s first love for music was created by her grandfather Waldo who taught her how to play the piano at age 5.  She played that piano in churches when she was 11 and started sharing some of what her grandfather taught her by giving private lessons when she was 18 years old.  Sue talks about that connection in “Grand[a’s Hands”. With the words of the song, I can picture Sue and her grandfather sitting next to the keys as she sings,  “Grandpa loved his music.  He never missed the chance to play.  His fingers full of magic as they danced across the keys.  He’d sing and grin, wiggle his ears and teach me patiently.  Watch my hands, do as I do.  We’ll go slow until you learn the tune. Let the song become a part of you.  Watch Grandpa’s hands.  Do as I do.”  This song won a First-Place Gold Medal in the SAW song competition from Washington, DC, and is performed by Sue at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaUqCHPCLg0&feature=channel&list=UL.

Now Sue is the Vice President of emPower Music and Arts, that hosts the Posi Music Awards, now for the eighth year.  She is the music director at Unity Church of Clearwater (Florida), which she has done for 20 years. and is the chairperson for the Music Ministry Team of Unity Worldwide Ministries, which she has done for eight years.  That team has created 10 songbooks of Positive New Thought Music. She also is known for teaching spiritual centers how to turn their music departments into music ministries.

For more information about Sue, go to her website at http://www.sueriley.com/biography.htm.

Analogy Brain in a Digital World (Greg said it best)

Picture Each holiday season the electronics industry has more and more “gadgets” for sale.  The online shopping industry gets bigger and bigger as well.  However, not everyone is comfortable with technology.  Some people would prefer to send a handwritten note instead of an email.  Some prefer a paper and pencil to write their shopping list than to put it into a smart phone.  Others can’t leave home without their phone or their computer or they would be lost.

The song “Analog Brain in a Digital World” by Greg Tamblyn at
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7z6eslv8Vc talks about his thought on technology and how he handles the world and tries to simplify it.   “I googled directions from my den to my refrigerator…..Single tasking is obsolete now.  I need to slow my life down to a blur.  I’ve got an analog brain in a digital world.”

The tag on Greg’s website says, “Life is serious.  Be funny.  Be musical.”  That is a great mantra and fits him well.

“On this site you’ll find funny songs, inspirational songs, hilarious video clips, and short funny stories that help you see the best in yourself, and laugh at the rest of yourself. They’re like WD-40 for your relationships, your moments of confusion, the things you want to accomplish in life, and your connection to the Big Mystery,” Greg says.

Greg spent many years in Nashville and makes Kansas City home now.  He was successful in writing songs for country artists and even spent some time working at one of the publishing houses.  The draw of writing his own music finally pushed through all of that when he released his own single “It’s Another joyful Elvis Presley Christmas,” which was named “Christmas Single of the Year in “Cashbox” magazine. Since then he has received other awards:
“Best Comedy/Novelty Song”  – Just Plain Folks Music Awards 
“Christmas Single of the Year”  – Cashbox magazine
“Best Comedy Song”  – Music City Song Festival
“Best Humorous Song”  – Posi Music Awards
“Most Uniting Song”  – Posi Music Awards
“Best Male Vocalist in Kansas City”  – Squire Newspapers

Greg has been known to gear his shows to just about any audience, and has four different bios on his website to use for those audiences (who knows maybe this can become number five, even though I pulled this information for all of the four and then added some of my own knowledge); however, there is one thing in common in all of them–somebody, or most bodies are going to laugh.  Greg still plays small, intimate house concerts and has had audiences as large and diverse as the Department of Defense.  He still returns to Nashville to facilitate workshops.

When Greg spoke at a wellness conference at Duke University Medical Center many years ago, his counterparts had Ph.D. and M.D. written after their name.  The initials after Greg’s name were N.C.W., standing for “No Credentials Whatsoever.”  However, Greg is now filled with the credentials of experiencing life which is from where many of his songs are created.  He still is known to use those initials to remind the general public that we all are capable of being somebody even when we don’t have the structured credentials of others around us.

Greg has a knack for telling funny stories and singing silly songs.  He even takes some of the everyday crazy things in this world and turns them into humor.

Greg was one of the first four Posi (positive and then called New Thought) musicians I ever met in person.  They were called New Thought because they had and have a different way of looking at the world.  They look at it from the good, the possible, the awe instead of from the doom and gloom or negativity of foul attitude that so much other music does.  I discovered quickly that getting out of a concert of Greg’s trying to not laugh was a futile effort.  I am sure that even most stubborn person or person who “never shows emotion” who walks in the door of one of his concerts concert will at the very minimum crack a smile at least once and more likely will end up being the one who laughs the most.

Greg does not just spread his humor on the stage, he also is a frequent contributor to The Funny Times humor magazine. He has seven CDs of original music, a book and a t-shirt to his creative credit.  He also has been featured in the books “Stressed Desserts Spelled Backwards” by Brian Luke Seaward, “Shelter for the Spirit” by Victoria Moran, and “Art and Soul” by Pam Grout.  Good luck trying to catch him boasting because it won’t happen; he is a very humble and down-to-earth (well, sometimes down-to-earth and other times flying on the joys of life) person.

Oh yeah, back to the “analog brain in a digital world” part.  Greg does use technology. His website at http://GregTamblyn.com and he does have an email list.  He also is on Facebook.  His most recent use of the technology is compile his “Top Ten Whiny Victim Love Songs” for which he asked his fan base to make suggestions.  This song can be viewed on YouTube at  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7coMJfzAyUA&feature=watch-vrec.

Lest you thing Greg only can do funny songs, I will tell you that is not true. One of his songs is one of the most serious and powerful songs that I have heard in my entire life.  That song is called “One Day on the Field of France” and can be heard on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wuh6Y4xxWCI.

Now, if this is all too heavy for you, go to Greg’s site and check out his “exotic bio.”  It could be accurate or it could be like his songs–just enough of the truth to believe them and just enough of the humor wo raise eyebrows.

Honoring Native American Heritage

Picture November is National Native American Month, yet we don’t hear much about it.   As we gather in the United States to give thanks for those who came over from England to settle and make a new home in this country, we must also remember those who were here even before that.

The first Thanksgiving in 1621 was a celebration of the first successful harvest, not of just coming to a new country.  Having days of thanksgiving was a regular part of the religious practice of the “Pilgrims” and at that time was a day of prayer rather than a celebration around food.  According to my research on the internet, there was only one written account of the first Thanksgiving.  Much of the perceived information is based on what history research has discovered about the life at that time.  The fittest Thanksgiving meal  was probably a with duck and a cornmeal porridge or oatmeal, rather than turkey and stuffing.  The harvest was probably cabbage, onions, corn and squash.  They probably also had fish since that is part of what they survived on before the harvest was ready and deer brought by the Natives who ate the venison as a stable.  Additionally, it probably was a week-long celebration with several meals rather than just one huge sit-down affair.

The Native American Wampanoag tribe, Squanto who taught the Pilgrims to plant the native crops, and its chief Massasoit played an important role in those English folks being able to survive on what then seemed to be barren soul.  Had the Native cultures not taught the settlers what to grow and how to grow it, they likely would have starved to death.  Therefore, today, please consider those Native Americans who still live among us and who have their own rituals and traditions.

My friend She Wolf’s grandfather is Native American.  She posted some information about the tribes based on her internet searches.  She have given me permission to share the information (rather than having to do my own research):.

*****************************

Information on a few tribes/nations gathered and compiled by She Wolf:

Native American Ceremonies

Ceremony plays a vital, essential role in Native American religions. Whereas western religions typically consider ceremony the servant of theology, Native American religions barely recognize the distinction between myth and ritual.Often the ritual proves to be established and secure while the myth is vague and unclear. Indian ceremonies grew up within local groups; some elements of Indian ceremonials have been traced back to the Old World. The ceremonies were adapted locally, using both traditional and borrowed elements, to suit local needs. These ceremonies often began as practical actions.

Indians were eager to embrace ceremonies or portions of ceremonies that provided power to conquer the difficulties of life. As these practices developed, they were modified and imbued with additional meanings and purposes.

Apache:

•Ceremonial Dances
◦Rain Dance
◦Good Crop Dance
◦Harvest Dance
◦Spirit Dance

•Life Cycle Rites
◦Na’ii’es – Sunrise Ceremony (Female Puberty Rite)

■The most important and frequent community ceremony. It normally takes place in the summer months of the year after a girl’s first menstruation.
◦First Steps Rite

Cherokee:

•Ceremonial Dances
◦Stomp Dance

Diegueño Indians (California)
•Ceremonial Dances
◦Awikunchi – A fair weather making ceremonial dance and song.

Lakota:
•The Seven Sacred Rites
◦The Sweat Lodge
◦The Vision Quest
◦Ghost Keeping
◦The Sun Dance
◦Making Relatives
◦Puberty Ceremony
◦Throwing the Ball

•Life Cycle Rites

•Life Renewal Rites

•Summer Solstice Ceremony

************************
Details about some of these rituals and others can be read at http://bonniebutterfield.com/indian-culture.htm.

Hoop Dancing (in the picture) is a form of storytelling that incorporates one to 40 hoops as props, which are used to create shapes and formations including the butterfly, eagle, snake, and the world.  The Native American hoop dance focuses on continuous movement of the body and the hoops to tell a story  The hoops are made in such a way that they interlock and can extend from the body to form such appendages as wings.  IN this photo, you can distinctly see the wings of a butterfly which later became a globe.  For more information about hoop dances, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Native_American_Hoop_Dance.  (Photo by Cynthia M. Freeman, True Visions Media, used with permission, is of a hoop dance performed at the 2012 International Folk Festival in Milwaukee, WIsconsin.)
If you would like to see what tribes live in your state, they are outlines at http://500nations.com/tribes/tribes_state-by-state.asp.

You can then look up the language used by the tribe in your area at http://www.native-languages.org/original.htm.

Even among the languages, different words are used for the same English word.  You can investigate this more with the vocabulary charts at http://www.native-languages.org/vocabulary.htm.

Generating Faith On and Off Stage

Photo courtesy of morguefile.com, artist DaveO Faith Rivera–just her name generates thoughts about her personality and character.  Her belief in God, her character for loving people, the gentleness of her Hawaiian culture show through on and off the stage.  It comes from the essence of her being and flows to the world, like a river.  That is why her music has become a part of my listening catalog and why I want to share it with you.

My faith in God has been what has gotten me through so much.  I know many people to believe in God who say that as they look back through life.  There are times when it seemed we forget about our faith and we try to handle things on our own.  There are times when something happens and we get too busy to pray or I let life take over instead of allowing God to take over.  When that happens to me, I find myself floundering and feeling lost.  Somehow, I am given either a gentle reminder by a friend or sometimes something the reminder comes along that is more concrete such as seeing some beautiful piece of nature or a child playing that reminds me of God and that reminds me of God.  The most motivating times come when someone else in my life is struggling and I find myself praying with or for that person or giving advice that I know does not come from my head, but from somewhere much deeper.  Those are the times I am reminded of how much God is a part of my life.

As the song “God Is” by Faith Rivera says, “Wherever I am, God is.  Where I stand, God is standing strong.  Where I breathe, God is breathing life in and out and through me, as me.”  This song can be heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQD0335aAbY.  The power in Faith as she sings this song can be felt whether you listen to her sing it or you turn down the sound, watch her and read the words that are captioned with this song.  All of Faith’s videos show the same energy, emotion and feeling.   She sings from the heart and the depth of her soul.

The beauty of Faith is not only in her music, it is in her personality.

I had heard Faith’s music over the years, like I had several of the Posi musician, yet didn’t know it.  I got to meet her when I attended the Posi Awards in January 2012.  She was one of the most personable people there.  I struggled with how much I wanted to hide being legally blind and wanting to be independent and yet needing to see to be able to get on and off stage safely while I was interpreting.  I was using the red and white cane to walk through the hotel, but I folded it and put it away when I was in the room with the stage.  There were a few times when I had to laugh at myself and how my eyesight perceptions fooled me in “seeing” raised areas where there were none and missing raised areas which seemed flat. because I wasn’t using the cane.  Yet, when I tried to get off of the stage by walking down somewhat small metal steps that did not have a railing, after a rehearsal, I had no choice but to identify that I couldn’t see the steps to safely get off the stage unassisted.  I didn’t have to say a word, and it seemed like Faith just “knew” the problem as I hesitated.  She gently and seemingly naturally stepped behind me and quietly said, “You’re ok.  Just walk slowly.”  Someone else quickly was in front of me also who probably had been listening in on the rehearsal; I don’t know who it was though.  Faith set her hand under my elbow just enough for the stability of a railing and passed me off to the person in front of me as I stepped down.  Nothing more was said of it.  The next time, I needed to get off the stage, she just extended her arm and nothing had to be said.  In my “act of faith,” I trusted that arm in more ways that physical.  I may not be remembering it exactly as it happened, and that doesn’t matter.  The important part is the meaning behind it.  It was a small act of kindness that meant a lot to me and for me made a connection that will never be forgotten.

Now I would like to share a bit more about the background of Faith.  She is an Indie (independent) singer/songwriter/performing artist who was born in Kauai, Hawaii, now makes Long Beach, California, her home, and has toured internationally.  Faith’s music has been featured on “ER” and “Scrubs”.  The song “Forever Near” was heard on the show “Passions” and was awarded an Emmy in 2003 for Outstanding Original Song.  Additional awards include 2006 New Age Album of the Year from JPFolks Music Awards, 2–6 Most Uniting Song from emPower Music and Arts Posi Awards, 2005 Best Music Video form the San Fernando Valley International Film Festival, and 2012 Grace Note Award for contribution to New Thought Music.  Her music touches  all ages, professions, and spiritual traditions.  Most of Faith’s music is high energy, although she has performed with artists from Luther Vandross to Neil Young.  Faith’s music has been used by best-selling authors and speakers including Marianne Williamson and Michael Beckwith, and at thousands of other motivational/inspirational conferences around the world.

Additionally, Faith is a humanitarian.  She is most passionate about causes for peace and sustained abundance.  She is a Peace Ambassador for Fine & Performing Artists for World Peace.  She was named the 2008 Biggest Giver for Humanity Unites Brilliance; the organization provides water, food, education and micro-loans for women and children.

More personally, Faith has helped others face their fears on stage with a program she calls “Everyday SuperStars”,  On her website at http://www.faithrivera.com, Faith says, “I write & perform  purpose-driven pop ditties to remind you of your coolness & cheer you on to share your brilliance with the world.   My mission is to use music to connect with the everyday SuperStar bubbling in each of us to shine & serve in the most joyful, prosperous, peace-filled, blingy way!”  She has sung with many superstars over her career The video “Let It Out” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbDp4JGe_LQ), which was posted by her husband and press contact Nolan Hee who has a spirit as beautiful as his wife’s, shows one example of the Everyday SuperStars performing with her.  Nolan is usually in the front row of the audience smiling and moving along with his wife.  Now, he is there with their son, who seems to also love his mom’s music as he claps and dances along.  I’m sure it won’t be very long before he has a microphone in his hand and is singing with Faith.

I think you get the idea of who Faith is now and why I love her music.  Check out her website, listen to some more of the YouTube clips and i am suspecting you will find yourself singing and dancing along in short time.

(Photo courtesy of morguefile.com, artist DaveO.)

Re-treat Yourself with a Personalized Retreat

Picture R-e-t-r-e-a-t.  These letters combine to make up a word with several meanings depending on what part of speech you want it to be and on what syllable you put the accent.  Generally it means to get away, usually away from something–a person, a situation, a belief.  As a verb, it means to withdraw, retire, often thought to be in haste.  As a noun, it means to go off somewhere often in seclusion to a place of refuge or privacy.  What if we instead started to look at it as moving away from, we started to look at it as toward something?  I went to dictionary.com to see the origin of the word “retreat” and found what I thought to be the best definition to be the first one on the page “to treat again.”  What if rather than thinking of a retreat as getting away from our every day hectic-filled, way-to-busy, fill-every-moment worrying, stressful lives run by deadlines, we look at those letters together as a way of re-treating ourselves to balancing our bodies, minds and spirits?   It seems to be a much healthier way of looking at those seven letters.

The reason I am looking at this is some of my friends have suggest that I need to get myself back into balance.  They have seen me dealing (poorly) to some things that are happening in my life.  They have seen me hiding behind the guides of helping others before and instead of doing what I need to do for myself.   When I was working at Blessed Trinity Church nearly 12 years ago), we had a staff retreat at the Siena Center; after the retreat, I stayed and walked the labyrinth that is on the grounds.  During that time, I wrote (well God had me write) my first song.  About five years ago I started going to retreats at the same center with my 12-step program.  It has become an annual event and very sacred time for me.  This year I did not go due some financial constraints, and I think not going stressed me out more than I expected.  To get to the location, I need to drive or have someone take me there, and right now that is not something I am inclined to do.  However, I am considering how I can find and create my own retreat.

This past Friday, I spent some time brainstorming with my coach Anne Wondra of WonderSpirit Coaching (http://www.wonderspirit.com/).  We talked about some possibilities for retreats that don’t cost a lot of money or don’t have to have a formal setting.  Since I am a list person, after that call, I decided to lay out what I would do to help create a retreat experience.  I’d like to share it with you.

Here are some how-tos: needed to have a successful personal retreat:

  • Clear your calendar of any other commitments for the period of time of your retreat.
  • Let whoever must know that you will be unavailable for whatever period of time you choose to do the retreat.  That means boss, friends, family (spouse/partner, parents, children).
  • Create an intention or a theme.
  • Decide how you want to do your retreat (structured with others or alone, speaking or silent, facilitated or non-facilitated).
  • Collect items you may want for your retreat: music, food, water, paper/pen, craft items, art supplies, medications, comfortable clothing, first aid kit, charged cell phone (for emergency only if you are off on your own), items appropriate to the environment (compass, firewood, bug repellent, sunscreen, hat, warm clothes, clothes with arm and leg covering, good and comfortable shoes, etc. )
  • Find a calm, peaceful space that has no interruptions and is comfortable for you to relax, meditate, focus on all of your senses and just being, listening and finding the “real” you.

I did an internet search for “ideas for free retreats” and found a wonderful site at http://www.mymeditationgarden.com/learn-to-meditate/free-meditation-retreats/.  In it there are links to free guided mediations, a “Meditation Room” where is is a cool video showing to flute music that can be used as personal mediation time and many links to other free resources for creating your own retreat. Here are several other online resources for creating your own retreat:

  • The Community Tool Box for organizing a retreat (http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_main_1116.aspx)
  • Craft Ideas for a Retreat (http://www.ehow.com/info_8294806_creative-ideas-christian-ladies-retreat.html)
  • Activities to do at a women’s retreat (http://www.ehow.com/info_7844391_activities-do-church-womens-retreat.html)
  • Ask.com has many more ideas at http://www.ask.com/web?q=ideas%20for%20a%20spiritual%20retreat&askid=d5b29909-6c61-4e01-9bd3-9ec20bf8b71e-0-us_gsb&kv=sdb&gc=0&dqi=ideas%20for%20free%20retreats&qsrc=999&o=3967&l=dir

Here are some of the location options Anne suggested to me and a few more I added afterward that may fit for you too:

  • Go to a nature preserve
  • Go to the zoo and walk around.  Laughing at animals (laughing in general) is very therapeutic.
  • Go on a nature walk and “get lost” in the woods.  That means losing track of time (but noticing the sun or setting an alarm to be sure to head out before dark) and just being with thoughts.
  • Go camping in a state forest which restricts noise and civilization amenities.  (Take your firewood, compass, emergency supplies with you.)
  • Find a place with a labyrinth that is accessible that can be walked.  Some churches have them set up somewhere on the grounds.
  • Hold a pajama day.  Prepare fun foods the day before that are comfort foods such as putting together a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup or your favorite dish or something that you really enjoy the day before so all you have to do is warm it when you are ready to eat.  Get your favorite book or rent your favorite movie from when you were a kid and cuddle up with your favorite blanket and away for a day.  Above all, turn off the phone, the computer the regular TV.
  • Create your own sacred space in your home with candles, mementoes, favorite pictures and just sit in that space for several hours, while writing, drawing, just being with yourself and letting your mind and spirit wonder and tell you whatever it needs to share.
  • Swap homes with a friend for a weekend so it seems like you are getting away.
  • Many ministers will let you sit in their church all or most of the day if you arrange it ahead of time and explain what you are trying to do.
  • Spend the day during your favorite creative activity with no interruptions (music, writing, painting, drawing, etc.)
  • Spend the weekend at a hotel or a bed and breakfast in your area where you can be pampered.  If it is at a hotel, rent a suite that has a hot tub and pool or other amenities that are relaxing (massage, spa, etc.) and order room service so you don’t have to be disturbed.
  • Spend the day at a spa or at a hotel with a spa.
  • I connected with an artist on Facebook named John Morris.  He paints beautiful scenery pictures.  If you like his art, you might be interested in buy a piece that resonates with you and will make you feel good every day you gaze at it.  His galleries are at http://www.retreatfinder.com/

If you want a more structured location, go to a local retreat center and join in another organized retreat or create your own with the suggestions above.  I did an internet search for “Retreat Centers, Milwaukee” (you can do one for your area) and came up with the following for locations in and around Milwaukee:

  • Kindred Spirit Center for day individual or small group retreats (http://www.kindredspiritcenter.com/)
  • Siena Center in Racine (http://www.racinedominicans.org/)
  • Kekoven Center in Racine (http://www.dekovencenter.org/facility-rental)
  • Jesuit Retreat House, Oshkosh (http://www.jesuitretreathouse.org/)
  • Bellarmine Hall, Barrington, Illinois (http://bellarminehall.org/)
  • Casa Romera Renewal Center, Milwaukee (http://www.casaromerocenter.org/)
  • Redemporist Retreat Center, Oconomowoc (http://www.redemptoristretreat.org/)
  • Holy Women Monestary, Middleton (http://www.redemptoristretreat.org/)
  • St. Vincent Center, Elkhorn (http://www.pallottines.org/retreat/index.html)

I found a few resources for structured retreats outside of Wisconsin:

  • To search for retreat houses around the United States., go to http://www.findthedivine.com/states/frameRetStates.html for a list of retreat locations by state.
  • Another general site to find retreats and retreat locations is Retreat Finder at http://www.retreatfinder.com/.
  • This link is for a retreat that sound of great interest to me as it is a creativity retreat.  Go to http://www.WellnessWritingRetreats.com/.
  • How would you like to do a retreat in Hawaii with Shawn Galloway, that includes three dolphin excursions?  It is written up as “Take yourself on a multi-sensory journey and exploration into The Art of listening, seeing, feeling and communicating and the mind, body and Spirit connection,” More information is at http://transformationslifecoaching.blogspot.com/2012/10/hawaii-retreat-sat-119-tues-229.html#.UHCC7PMj5dc.
  • Another creative retreat called Create and Captivate is being held in New Mexico in March.  Info can be obtained at http://trackingwonder.com/create-captivate/.
  • Of course, Sedona, Arizona, and Stonehedg continues to be billed as two of the most sacred places in the world.  Many scheduled retreats happen in those areas and an internet search will link you to them.

Here is a list of a few retreat facilitators I know also: :

  • Anne Wondra, email: annew@wonderspirit.com, phone: 262-544-4310
  • Rev. Julie Piek, on Facebook at Rei Essence LLC http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rei-Essence-LLC/153522201358064?fref=ts, phone: 414-248-0975.
  • Since I have done all of this research, am an ordained nondenominational minister and am going to create my own retreat, maybe you would like for me to create and/or facilitate one for you as well.

I think the main thing about a retreat is getting away, paying attention to all of your senses and listening to what your body and spirit are sharing.  I’m off to go plan my retreat now.

Mainline Dance Rock Band Creates Social Justice Posi Music

Picture Posi (Positive) Music spans all genre.  Liquid Blue is probably the best example of a well travelled, highly acclaimed band in mainstream music (mostly dance rock) whose music often carries a Posi message.  The 10-plus member band began it public shows in 1996.  It has six men, four women and a few occasional other members.  Each main member has an understudy; several of the understudies also perform in their own band called Aqua Blue.

Liquid Blue has blazed a trail for itself.  Its official slogan is “Music to Move You”.  They have more than 100 awards for their music including a Posi Music Award, Guiness Book of World Record, Billboard Top-10 Hit, featured on six magazine covers. In the Introduction on its website site, “In 2005 Liquid Blue became the first American act to be signed by a major Chinese record label and it was chosen to represent the Unites States at the CCTV kick-off concert for the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.  The group has performed sold-out, ticketed shows worldwide and has received more accolades, awards and recognition than any other party band in the event industry.  Liquid Blue is a certified green business.”

No matter what language or in what country it is sung, the message is still the same.  We look for peace, justice and human rights.  With all six of the United Nations languages and three additional ones, Liquid Blue sings in “Earth Passport,” “Your mission, in your mind, an open door to all the world.  One planet, one people a world where fear does not exist, all nations united, and human rights for everyone. Why can’t we?”  This song was nominated for a 2010 Posi Award.  “Earth Passport” also made it to #3 Dance Chart in  “Billboard Magazine,” and also has won a “Guinness World Record” for “song Sung in the Most Languages as of 2010 and seven other awards. It can be heard at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUU-0hKCiLg).

The group received the 2008 Posi Award for the the song “If You Gotta Ask”.  Their performance of that song at the Posi Awards can be seen at http://www.liquid-blue.com/press/awards/PosiAward.htm.  “If you Gotta Ask” also won Best Pop Song 2004 from Dallas Songwriters and Spirit and Creative 2005 from Artist Helping Artists and a dozen other awards.  In the acceptance speech for the song “If You Gotta Ask,” a Liquid Blue member said, “We are trying to reach the broadest audience possible.”

They also hold the second official world record for “World’s Most Traveled Band” set in 2008 with seven continents, 115 nations, 93 countries, all 50 states in the United States and 500 cities.

For a complete list of accolades and other information about Liquid Blue, go to http://liquid-blue.com.  Be prepared to get lost and take several hours to get through the well-woven, detailed site.