Welcome to a new “creative” blog writer who is discovering her place in the “wireless” world. She fits well into my iCygnet blog. Dana is developing her designs. We can encourage her to keep pursuing creativity. You are always Good Enough — just the way you are.
Category Archives: iComfort
Snow, Smell, Smile
This season has been as unpredictable in Pennsylvania as usual. We did however, get the snow that was in the forecast. There was 7.5″ in our “neck of the woods.” It was a good snow for packing and creating snow sculptures — an activity I promoted in my former arts organization.
We were only inconvenienced for one day. And that one snow day was a good time to catch up on blogs and online sales listings.
The smell of chocolate/peanut butter and sugar cookies in the next room were somewhat distracting. The end result — was delicious.
The “accidently” broken cookies needed a taste-testing. Lucky for me.
The cookies on the left were enhanced with a dusting of white crystals (ala Frozen). I had a tradition of baking chocolate cookies on the first snowfall of the year. I’m sure I will bring that activity back when I have my own home and kitchen for baking.
If you have any photos of your snow creations or cookies — be sure to send them my way.
I anticipate a box of baked goods for this upcoming holiday 🙂
One of my favorites — crescent cookies!
Wonderful Winged Walkingstick
When was the last time I saw one of these cool creatures? I don’t remember.
Here it is — the walking stick.
But I sure was thrilled to have this resident of the woods visit me this Autumn.
He was easy to spot on the aluminum garage door, but his methods of camouflage are quite impressive.
I did some online research to learn more about this fascinating stick insect.
Not very easy to hide on a bin of art prints – I spotted him immediately.
One day when I opened the garage door, he fell to the ground — not hurt — but “played dead” to keep the predator from getting him.
I looked closely at this prostrate positioned insect. He sure looked dead — legs and body stiff as a stick . . .
I went about my business and within 5 minutes the little guy was walking and jumping from post to pillar.
Simple facts about the walking stick — HERE and more detailed facts HERE.
These amazing creatures and others that I meet at my mountain office make my time in transition a true discover of joy.
Boobies or Bullies
October is a month of crisp cool air for those of us living in the Northeast. Although autumn involved two of the worst events in my life, the fall remains my favorite season.
October is the month designated for observing and screening for cancer. The color PINK is everywhere you look — ribbons, shirts, pins — hair and food. Boobies are easier to think about and discuss. We get images of nurturing a life of an infant to a sensual adult pleasure. What’s not to like about boobs/breasts? Fundraisers for awareness, screening and survivors receive wholehearted support — emotionally and financially.
The reports of school violence astound us. Random shootings for revenge trouble us. We have become aware of ministers, priests, teachers, coaches, counselors who have crossed the line of comfort to criminal. It takes years for most abuse victims to step forward from the shadow of silence and confront the creeps.
October is also Domestic Violence awareness month. But who wants to hear about Bullies? Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness. The title — just makes us uncomfortable. And, it should.
Most of the criminal acts are not seen on a surveillance camera that caught an NFL player who kicked and punched the person who loved and trusted him. No. Most violence is of a coercive nature. It happens inside the victim’s home – where we are told to keep the offense behind closed lips and doors. Consider the Stockholm Syndrome. One of the multitude of strange lines the abuser said to me was “You talk to your mother too much.” Here is a helpful link to know the signs.
The best decision I ever made in my life was getting out of a long-term abusive relationship. The worst part of my life occurred after making that decision. “Classic Abuse” is what it is called — impossible to know what is happening when you’re in the middle of it.
People asked “Why did you put up with it?” “Why didn’t you leave sooner?” In addition to corrupt court counsel, I experienced over 2 years of blame and bullying from “friends” and family members. I never blamed them for not noticing, asking or mentioning what had ALL the signs of abuse (isolation, overworked, siphoned income, covert physical violence, stalking, and harassment).
The legal system continues today in the ongoing problem with abuse of power and control through delays, discounted facts and archaic language in documentation.
If you ask “How are you?” — try to pry or she (he) could die from the effect of avoiding the topic of bullying – a not yet full blown version of abuse. I was a private person in a public position – operating nearly eight successful businesses by the time I had to evacuate my home/town. We were all in it together — one abuser leading — the rest of us were left in shock from the result.
No More Silence. No More Violence.
Thank you to the people I’ve met in my transitional life’s journey. Those who listened with kindness and no blame. I’m still not completely free, but I’m doing fine and flourishing.
Share the Shelter
This link to the newsletter from The Community Action Program of Lancaster County provides some wonderful insight into how women (yes, it’s still predominantly women) survive the destruction from domestic violence.
I was intrigued by the article of the lady who housed pets for victims. It is interesting to note that there are MORE shelters for animals than for human victims of DV.
When I needed assistance, town police were inept (duped with the con-manipulation) and there were no rooms available in any Lancaster County shelters. I also learned that a mother of 4 children couldn’t find a place to stay in the entire Philadelphia area.
Carmel, my cat, had been locked from his litter box and food on the days I stayed away. My employee would discover this situation upon entering for her shift.
I was able to flee with my cat at the end of Sept 2011, to a home of a former customer. The family was willing to let Carmel stay with me for a couple days. Unfortunately the home owner got weird about her space. She began to think I might want to move in (no way) after she invited me to teach lessons in her sun room. She had her own dragons to slay . . . As it turned out, her husband rounded up volunteers to remove many of my belongings and put them in a free storage space for a year — very thoughtful, indeed.
I had to move 1.5 hours away from the town I called home for 27 years. Three years have passed since I made the decision to end an abusive relationship. I was able to get out before the physical violence escalated. I kept my customers and employees safe — but we were out of work and my 7 businesses destroyed within 90 days.
I’m still not completely free but Carmel is here with me today — watching as I write. He’s been my comfort cat through everything. His day of adoption is coming up early May. I can finally say that both Carmel and I are doing well 🙂 though we still need a home to call our own. Anybody got leads?
Secure Safe Shelter
Throughout my life, I learned of people who were homeless. One person was an employee from a public school in which I taught for 10 years. She and her children considered the car a home for several weeks.
- There are 1,500 shelters for battered women in the US. There are 3,800 animal shelters. (Schneider, 1990) Numbers have increased in the same proportion since then.
Then, a young adult student whose father couldn’t pay the rent for an apartment they occupied entered the studio looking agitated. I asked “Are you living in your car?” He, reluctantly replied, “uhmhm, yes, I am”. My poignant and persistent question led him to ask if I knew of a place for him to stay. Well, there was space . . . in the basement of my studios. He stayed till he found an affordable apartment.
After opening a coffeehouse, another young person came for help. He (an avid reader) had frequented the public library. The government-funded entity added a coffee shop (8 months after mine!) in the space this fellow took refuge. He crashed on sofas in friend’s homes. I could only offer a bar of soap and towel to freshen up in the not-yet-opened pottery painting place. He eventually moved 35 miles away to live with an aunt/uncle.
Empathy has always been part of my nature. My kindness however was used to provide identity and income for illicit indigents. I housed a family-in-law for 18 years in property I owned. They needed assistance. It seemed like the right thing to do . . .
Then — I finally woke up from the controlled cash captivity. The harm and hurt had to stop. I couldn’t live in fear anymore, nor be a slave-tenant in my home. MANipulated to pay to live and work in my own home, I was able to support myself, business, employees. The fact that my family was covertly robbed and my community company was embezzled to support a con-X and HIS family — that was inconceivable.
The basement that once provided refuge to a former student became my only option. The x-CON who I graciously agreed to house after his release — was fired from his job — replaced me in my own basement refuge. I am shocked and dumbfounded that I was forced to leave my home and self-sustaining career. MANeuvered by a Con, his Counsel and the Court.
Even Safety and Security take precedence over Shelter.
- The costs of intimate partner violence in the US exceeds $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
How many of these shelters fit in one Pro-athlete, Politician, Lawyer or Hollywood home?
Leave it to a creative entrepreneur to solve a serious concern over shelter. Government can’t do it — they’re too CONcerned about their own paychecks and trips to paradise island.
My Music Medicine
There were two comments made to me — about me — in the last year that I have been pleased to keep active in my memory:
1. “If I were stranded on a desert island, I’d want to be there with you.” I knew what my colleague meant by the statement. She had witnessed my broken aura. She knew I’d find a way, a solution and anyone in my close proximity would benefit from my instinctive, inventive, inspirational ways to survive. Another person I told about the complement, totally missed the mark — replying that I’d play my oboe to keep happy. That’s not at all what the comment was about.
2. When you play oboe, I see a white glow around you. You bring life to the notes. This comment was especially impressive.
“The Auric Field – Aura is life. It is the energy that animates our physical body. The auric field exists in different layers sometimes referred to as harmonics because of the color fields they emit. Each layer of the auric field is a body just as real and alive as the physical body. Each layer is a mini world with its own sense of purpose. The magic of the auric field is in how these mini worlds intertwine and dance with one another. These layers interconnect with one another determining our experience with our physical reality.”
I currently perform with the Sunbury City Band. It doesn’t provide income — most of us professional musicians can’t survive on our highly skilled craft. But band is part of my “music therapy” — priceless reward of camaraderie.
My next therapeutic session will be providing music for others during a Sunday at Six program at All Saints Episcopal Church of Selinsgrove. Second Sunday at Six (10/13/2013). My mother (Mariam) will accompany me with piano on four pieces. One selection will be for unaccompanied oboe.
The proposed program is a mix of traditional folk music, standard ballads (instrumental version) and film theme. Hope to see you there — if you’re in this country or county.
Scramble Up Stress and Smile
Written by Christina Major*
There are some cultures that eat swans, and it’s considered a transformational experience. We don’t, at least I don’t.
I do eat their cousins, chickens and turkeys. And their eggs. They are delicious and good for you.
The science shows 1 egg a day, for most people, are healthy and can reduce cholesterol. They are filling and can help a diabetic control his or her sugar throughout the day.
Eggs can also relieve stress. Look at it; it’s sunny and yellow (or orange if you are getting the good, free range kind). The cholesterols in them help stimulate regular, low-level feel good chemicals. They are inherently warming for our system. While no study has been conducted on eggs and depression, I have noticed in my clients adding an egg always leads to feeling better.
Here’s a great way to add an egg to your day: Scramble 1 egg with some peppers, mushrooms, spinach and onion. Add a small side of sweet potato home fries. If you set up the night before, it can take a small 10 minutes to cook breakfast. Now, you have a hot, filling and healthy breakfast to start your day right!
*Holistic Nutritionist & Naturopathic Doctor
As an owner of a thriving nutritional and lifestyle consulting business, Christina knows health is not just a condition, but a true state of being! Her clients are people who modern medicine has swept aside; not truly knowing what is causing their problems. Christina spends the time with her clients to really learn who they are and what is causing their problems.
We Experienced the Extraordinary
It was my honor to educate and empower a dozen young people in my art/music studio coffeehouse over a 10-year time span. We all grew in knowledge and understanding of how to relate to the public — and each other. Our work gang was truly a delight — full of energy — creative and dedicated to accomplishing any task.
My all-time favorite energetic creative volunteer extraordinaire worked around the customer created murals.
She helped transform the space into a tearoom.
One of the best part of any independent shop is the empowerment an employee experiences because he/she is given the chance to add their creative spirit to the establishment.
The next higher level is the connection with the customer. We had a unique bond of spontaneous energy unable to be duplicated anywhere else.
These Junior High School students loved the opportunity to decorate the windows on their Half-Days.
Two precocious children grew up in the studio/coffeehouse from age four/six for 5 years.
We had art, music and baking adventures.
Betty and I met years earlier with her purchase of tubes of paint from Cygnet Studios. Her first gallery exhibit featuring 70 years of artwork was a grand event. My father passed away October 2009, Betty was comforted through his violin the next year. We lost Betty to Cancer, January 2011. Her family requested my community coffeehouse for the life celebration — an honor.
The community coffee connection is memorable. These ladies decorated their own “Java Journal” and didn’t even make the mistake of dipping their markers in a coffee cup. Way to go, gals.
Sitting in the art gallery was inspirational, a huge reason many youth frequented my establishment. Conewago Coffeehouse was more than just fun and games . . .
Spontaneity emerged and manifested itself instantaneously with this post-it project and became a new in-house activity.
We celebrated the joys of life and the sadness of death — together.
Go ahead, ask “what happened to your amazing establishment?”
Evil does exist. I found out first hand — I looked it in the eyes . . .
Predatory placed and promoted establishments didn’t kill OUR community coffeehouse — though a few DID try with “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.” (Charles Caleb Colton) My community connection was calculatedly destroyed by a duo of “bully-boys” (names omitted for anonymity) then veiled through a twisted legal system.
I bet YOU and I are counting on justice to prevail. Anyone for a family reunion?
A Plate of Peace (or peas)
Food that Feeds the Soul
Written by Christina Major
In older times, soul foods were rich and hearty. They focused on what was not plentiful most other times, like meats, fats and fruits. You see, the typical diet of the average person about 100 years ago focused on vegetables. Hence, soul food was richer in nutrients and money.
Today, soul foods are the same, the rest of our diet isn’t. That’s why we have increased heart disease and other debilitating problems well over 1000-fold.
But sometimes these soul foods are needed. My grandmother made a lamb stew that was rich in vegetables and meats. It’s rich in nutrients and when sick, it was wonderful.
When you are down, it’s sometimes difficult to choose healthy foods over soul foods. I generally recommend skipping foods that were fried or have no vegetable component. When you are down, you need more nutrients to combat the stress.
A wonderful stew, slow cooked with lots of vegetables and spices can remind you of home and a simpler time. A rich chicken soup really does help to fight the common cold. This may be what is needed more for the body and the soul.
Christina Major, Holistic Nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor, author, speaker, radio personality & The Health Recovery Expert. Join Christina for a free 20-minute Health Breakthrough Session.
iQ, mEq, uQ, eQ, WeQ
While working on my website and emails today, a tweet popped up about college students and getting grades for their emotional intelligence.
I clicked on the link and read through the artical. I reminded me of the book published in 1998 called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.”
The question was whether college students should be given grades for emotional intelligence? (the question)
Then I read a comment from a person who asked “give credit for breathing?” That got me thinking — look out folks. I’m back at it again, analyzing. So, consider the fact that at age nine I started learning to play oboe. My lungs not yet fully developed (that process is completed at age 12), and there I was holding an instrument in my hands in which I had to, ever so slowly, hold and control my breath. hmmm, I think. I became a professional oboist about 12 years later (getting paid to perform and/or teach). Did I get “credit” for breathing or for controling my breath? I sorta think so. You can see my breath condensate (my science knowledge) on the inside of this oboe. Does that makes my invisible breath real?
At what point will we as humans, begin to accept that emotions ARE part of our existence. They are as real (or unreal, sometimes) as our breath. Emotions ARE real. Ask the folks who lost a loved one in one of the countless, senseless shootings across this country and world. What is the worst part of a death — not the loss of the body — but the loss of the spirit of the person, the personality, the air space the person occupied, the feelings that came WITH the person. Emotions can not be replaced with things or money. They ARE real. They need to heal just as any other part of our body needs to heal after a “boo boo” or down right surgery. Emotions are housed in our brains.
Subjective. Sure. So is art, music, writing, reading, dance, sports, medicine, lanquage, science. Lots of subjects are subjective. What we need is a form of measurement like the mathmeticians have managed to get to work in their favor. “It’s all about the numbers.” — one of my very unfavorite comments in the last year. There are SO many aspects of life that are “priceless” that have nothing to do with numbers.
iQ vs eQ (the difference)
iQ – intelligence quotient (answer)
eQ – emotional quotient (answer)
mEq – abbreviation for milliequivalent
hiQ – (answer)
uQ – university quotient — OK, this was odd
WeQ – wind erosion eQuation, worry emotionality questionaire, war event questionaire, work experience questionaire (check this out)
wiQ – Waring Intimacy Questionaire, Walking Impairment Questionaire, (huh?)
theyQ – alien emotions — just kiddin’ (or not?)
I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream. (answer)
The Long and Winding Road
There may be no guiderails. We get near the edge or end of the road often feeling discouraged.
But when we look around, we discover great beauty and comfort during our travel to wellness.
A problem that really exists – Media, Advertising, Family.
People believe and perpetuate what they see, read and hear.
The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I’ve seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door
The wild and windy night
That the rain washed away
Has left a pool of tears
Crying for the day
Why leave me standing here?
Let me know the way
Many times I’ve been alone
And many times I’ve cried
Anyway you’ll never know
The many ways I’ve tried
And still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don’t leave me waiting here
Lead me to your door
But still they lead me back
To the long winding road
You left me standing here
A long long time ago
Don’t keep me waiting here
Lead me to your door
Spice Up Your Season: 7 Surprising Benefits of Cinnamon!
Cinnamon was a regular ingredient in weekly pastries in my original coffeehouse. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to explore it’s delights in the future.
Despite the fact that he likes 90%+ of what I cook, the hubby always rolls his eyes at the quantity and array of seasonings that I use when I cook.
Especially when it comes to cinnamon. I adore using it in almost everything – steel cut oats, sweet potatoes, sautéed greens, thai dishes, smoothies, fruit & yogurt parfaits, eggs…(okay, kidding on that one).
And as the defining spice of the Christmas season, there are more reasons than justtaste and holiday tradition to use enormous quantities of it.
Check out 7 surprising reasons to use more cinnamon for better health!
1. Blood Sugar Control
Get this – studies show that cinnamon can improve blood sugar, triglycerides, and LDL cholesterol, all markers of metabolic disease. This study specifically shows that three separate groups taking 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon each day ALL had lower levels of these markers after…
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100 Four Letter Words to Celebrate 100 Blog Posts
OBOE – REED – SOLO. Yes, those are four letter words. SWAN – DUCK – BIRD — they are too. So what’s so FOUL about 4 letter words. Those last words were simply FOWL.
For years when my oboe students voiced concern and discontent about the troubles they had with reeds, I would remark that OBOE was one of the few four-letter words they could speak openly and NOT get in trouble. Then I’d move on to REED. Then SOLO. Students would need a moment to ponder my comments, and then snickered with the flash of insight to the coincidence of their troubled feeling as countered with their LOVE for the same unique instrument.
I find that writing my blog has allowed me a way to be FREE with words. At least I hope I don’t end up in jail for something I write here especially after breaking free from a “domestic” prison last year . . .
A month ago I was chatting online with a young gentleman (Daniel) who frequented the studio and coffeehouse that I owned and operated up until November 2011. He works 2nd shift — as I do. We had a “heart to heart” discussion about the difficulty in finding people who are capable of less than shallow conversation and behaviors. Even at his young age of 24, he had an insight about how a building is nothing without the person or people who existed there. He reminded me that the home/business I had to evacuate a year earlier was just a building, a shell with no soul. The life created, the joy projected, the creativity encouraged, were GONE when I left.
Replacing ME with a photography studio was a bizarre way for an abusive spouse to gain power and control. Was control more important than stealing my earned income?
I was given a small green notebook entitled GRATITUDE by the couple that gave me a room the first night I evacuated my home. It took several months till I felt like making note of anything. The words finally came. After I listed the freedom from abuse, my precious cat Carmel was next on the list of entries.
After chatting with Daniel, I began a list of all the FOUR letter words that popped into my head – most were POSITIVE. Here are some of the words:
life – cool – hope – oboe – home – game – mini – food – heal – swan – head – love – book – mind – bake – town – song – sing – rest – feel – care – rain – kind – text – call – talk – blog – cook – note – safe – have – look – lake – cake – cafe – save – rose – tree – leaf – bulb – type – able – good – more – many – most – each – will – want – wish – past – take – show – wise – wait – best – soul – wake – dawn – moon – star – wing – full – help – even – ever – grow – sign – gift – last – lark – part – harp – find – seed – bulb – read – seek – calm – free – milk – fork – high – draw – clay – blue – post – flag – frog – meet – horn – meal – meat – stay – gone – sink – soap – knob – roll – wall – bean – need – pack – oven – band – bell – make – mask – loaf – soon – line – fine – fill – soda – time – pure – sure – move – give – snow – word
Stuck at the top of your Ferris Wheel?
The journey of loss in life is universal — spinning like a Ferris wheel. Sometimes you get stuck at the top! My grief began with a terminally ill relationship and ended in the loss of my 30 year career. A friend told me to “pull the plug”. I did. The funeral was this winter. I was alone at the funeral.
I haven’t been writing much about grief lately. It’s been thirty-two months — 977 days — since my life mate/soul mate died. In that time, many others have suffered grievous losses, and to continue mentioning my grief seems like all I’m doing is whining. Still, this is my loss, and what other people experience, no matter how horrific, doesn’t lessen my sorrow. I don’t have the same sort of raw pain that I did at the beginning, of course, nor do I have the gut-wrenching angst that so often bedeviled me during those first months, but I do experience bouts of sadness and yearning.
My emotions are on a slow Ferris wheel ride, usually sliding down into sadness on Saturdays, the day he died — a day that apparently is etched in my very psyche — and then a gradual climb to hope and possibility on Monday and Tuesday.
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