"Everyone falls down, but the real issue is how do you get back up."Marianne Williamson
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Saturday, January 30, 2010
"There are two ways of spreading light...be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." Edith Warton
Friday, January 29, 2010
Thursday, January 28, 2010
What an inspiring story this is from NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF in the New York Times.
It all began with a stop at a red light.
Kevin Salwen, a writer and entrepreneur in Atlanta, was driving his 14-year-old daughter, Hannah, back from a sleepover in 2006. While waiting at a traffic light, they saw a black Mercedes coupe on one side and a homeless man begging for food on the other.
“Dad, if that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal,” Hannah protested. The light changed and they drove on, but Hannah was too young to be reasonable. She pestered her parents about inequity, insisting that she wanted to do something.
“What do you want to do?” her mom responded. “Sell our house?”
Warning! Never suggest a grand gesture to an idealistic teenager. Hannah seized upon the idea of selling the luxurious family home and donating half the proceeds to charity, while using the other half to buy a more modest replacement home.
Eventually, that’s what the family did. The project — crazy, impetuous and utterly inspiring — is chronicled in a book by father and daughter scheduled to be published next month: “The Power of Half.” It’s a book that, frankly, I’d be nervous about leaving around where my own teenage kids might find it. An impressionable child reads this, and the next thing you know your whole family is out on the street.
At a time of enormous needs in Haiti and elsewhere, when so many Americans are trying to help Haitians by sending everything from text messages to shoes, the Salwens offer an example of a family that came together to make a difference — for themselves as much as the people they were trying to help. In a column a week ago, I described neurological evidence from brain scans that altruism lights up parts of the brain normally associated with more primal gratifications such as food and sex. The Salwens’ experience confirms the selfish pleasures of selflessness.
Mr. Salwen and his wife, Joan, had always assumed that their kids would be better off in a bigger house. But after they downsized, there was much less space to retreat to, so the family members spent more time around each other. A smaller house unexpectedly turned out to be a more family-friendly house.
“We essentially traded stuff for togetherness and connectedness,” Mr. Salwen told me, adding, “I can’t figure out why everybody wouldn’t want that deal.”
One reason for that togetherness was the complex process of deciding how to spend the money. The Salwens researched causes and charities, finally settling on the Hunger Project, a New York City-based international development organization that has a good record of tackling global poverty.
The Salwens pledged $800,000 to sponsor health, microfinancing, food and other programs for about 40 villages in Ghana. They traveled to Ghana with a Hunger Project executive, John Coonrod, who is an inspiration in his own right. Over the years, he and his wife donated so much back from their modest aid-worker salaries that they were among the top Hunger Project donors in New York.
The Salwens’ initiative hasn’t gone entirely smoothly. Hannah promptly won over her parents, but her younger brother, Joe, was (reassuringly) a red-blooded American boy to whom it wasn’t intuitively obvious that life would improve by moving into a smaller house and giving money to poor people. Outvoted and outmaneuvered, Joe gamely went along.
Still, they have inspired some converts. The people who sold the Salwens their new home were so impressed that they committed $100,000 to the project. And one of Hannah’s closest friends, Blaise, pledged half of her baby-sitting savings to an environmental charity.
In writing the book, the Salwens say, the aim wasn’t actually to get people to sell their houses. They realize that few people are quite that nutty. Rather, the aim was to encourage people to step off the treadmill of accumulation, to define themselves by what they give as well as by what they possess.
“No one expects anyone to sell a house,” said Hannah, now a high school junior who hopes to become a nurse. “That’s kind of a ridiculous thing to do. For us, the house was just something we could live without. It was too big for us. Everyone has too much of something, whether it’s time, talent or treasure. Everyone does have their own half, you just have to find it.”
As for Kevin Salwen, he’s delighted by what has unfolded since that encounter at the red light.
“This is the most self-interested thing we have ever done,” he said. “I’m thrilled that we can help others. I’m blown away by how much it has helped us.”
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I couldn't agree more with these words of wisdom from author Terra Wellington.
One of the myths of being eco-friendly is that it takes a lot of money. While some large-scale changes may require a chunk of change, such as buying a tankless water heater or adding solar panels to your roof, the majority of going green choices don't have to cost a fortune. Here are 7 ways to go green on the cheap.
Be a Friend to Farmers
The best prices on organic produce are usually close to home at your local farmers' market. Organic is best for your body and the planet. By shopping more directly with the organic producers you can not only save money but also put more cash in the farmers' pockets and support local food production. Find out more about living and eating organically.
Clean for Under a Buck
Did you know that you can clean most of your house with a non-toxic cleaner that usually costs less than a dollar? That magic bullet is baking soda. A little water and baking soda makes a terrific cleaning paste for tubs, sinks, stoves, and other surfaces. Its whitening effect is great for cleaning grout. Add a handful to your whites in the wash for brighter clothes. Baking soda is also a great deodorizer, and it won't irritate your lungs.
Fertilize with Garbage
One of the great benefits of eating is that there's waste. Seriously. Put your food scraps to work in an at-home compost and voila! You'll have a free supply of soil amendment and mulch from the compost that can also be used as fertilizer for your lawn and garden. Compost is organic and non-toxic, extremely healthy for plants and the soil, and gives back to the planet with minimal effort from you.
Super Sun Savings
Open those blinds and curtains and turn off the lights. Sunlight is free ... and completely renewable. You'll save on electricity. And sunshine is better for your body. The sun's rays are just the right brightness and spectrum to give you more energy, better regulate your sleep patterns, and improve your mood. Sun equals smiles.
Opt for reusable containers for lunches whenever possible. You have a one-time investment on the containers that can save you a boatload – throwaway baggies and individually packaged lunch items (like juice boxes and applesauce cups) are much more expensive than if you filled up reusable containers at home with juice, fruit, and a sandwich. And that means less goes to the landfill too.
Old News is Good News
Have a package to send? Avoid the expense and waste of bubble wrap. Instead, reach for yesterday's newspaper as packing material. It might seem old fashioned, but what was good for grandma is still good for you.
Save Money and Miles
Put on your thinking cap next time you plan errands and schedule them together on a miles-saving route. By strategically combining errands and avoiding unplanned trips to the store, you'll save gas and make your wallet a little fatter. Plus, you'll be spewing less pollution into the air from your car.
Terra Wellington is the author of The Mom's Guide to Growing Your Family Green: Saving the Earth Begins at Home.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
I want my home to *talk* to me (if that is possible). I am extremely taken by the process of how to make my home more peaceful and more harmonious.
So my question/questions to you is how do I get my Feng Shui? Is this a personal thing or is it just in the home it's self?
I found a beautiful piece of art that was of the Feng Shui line at Homesense...is there such a thing as actual Feng Shui pictures?
Thanks so much,
Awesome questions, Nicole! Here's the deal...
We don't necessarily 'get Feng Shui,' rather we practice Feng Shui. Feng Shui is the Art Of Placement. It works with the energy in our personal environment. Acupuncture works with the energy (chi) our the bodies. However, as I will explain, practicing Feng Shui can affect the body as part of the results.
A lot of people are under the impression that there is a 'Feng Shui Style.' They think that in order to practice Feng Shui, they must have objects in their home such as long scrolls with painted flowers and animals and Chinese characters that they can't decipher. Or little statuettes of a laughing Buddha with a sack of money. Or crystals and windchimes hanging all around. Most 'Feng Shui items,' like the ones you saw at Homesense, are typically Asian in style. If you like those items, great, use them! But what to do if your tastes run in a different direction?
As I stated on Saturday's post, "There is no rule that states you have to be Asian to practice Feng Shui. Feng Shui is a system of encouraging and controlling the flow of energy in our surroundings. Energy is universal, just as gravity is universal. Sir Isaac Newton, an Englishman, discovered the Laws of Gravity, but you don't have to be English to fall down."
That holds true for styles of decor as well. If an Asian motif is not your thing, simply substitute it with items that represent your intentions, but that are in keeping with your style. Let me show you...
Here's a group of traditional Chinese Feng Shui items that represent Love Energy.
And here are items that also represent Love Energy, but are in Western traditional and contemporary styles.
Gustav Klimpt's painting The Kiss
A unity candle
Wall decals from Blik
See, there are many different ways to enhance your home with representations of Love Energy, but what you think and how you feel about it is most important.
Why does that matter? Consider this...
Dr. Masaru Emoto*, a Japanese scientist, invented a way to photograph water crystals at the moment they reached freezing temperatures. He used water samples from around the world and photographed them, both before and after they had been influenced by words of intention and prayer. He and his team used with both positive and negative words. They even experimented with influencing the water by playing music.
The results were astounding.
The water samples that were given positive, loving influences transformed into beautiful, clear complex crystals. Click here to see.
The negatively influenced water formed sickly, asymmetrical crystals that were dull and sometimes darker in color.
What does that have to do with decorating your home? Remember, our bodies are made of 70% water. Your positive thoughts can change the water in your body, therefore affecting you directly. In other words, consciously surrounding yourself with positive influences and items that you love can have a profound effect on your well-being.
So as you notice items around your home that bring to mind positive thoughts, it creates a positive effect on you personally. When you see a photo in a frame in your living room that makes you think, "Oh, I love that! Just thinking of that vacation make me feel great," it starts a chain reaction of well-being.
Conversely, when you see items such as clutter, unfinished projects, photos of people you don't like, any artwork depicting sadness, loneliness or ruin, or any objects that make you think bad thoughts...it negatively affects your well-being.
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you don't like Asian style. Let's image that looking at Chinese characters makes you frustrated because you can't read them and silky fabrics are too fussy for your lifestyle. If that were the case, having those items in your home would work against you, even if they are considered a classic Feng Shui cure, simply because they would create for you a bad feeling.
When your home truly represent your style, your essence, and your intentions, it will make your heart sing and bring you joy. That joy will resound throughout your entire being and will bring even more joy. And joy is the highest vibration. It's the level where manifestation thrives. Click here to read a past post about Joy.
By the way, this is why we give thanks before eating. Because the gratitude raises the energy and vibration of the food. Dr. Emoto found that Love and Gratitude created the most positive crystals.
So I suggest you use Feng Shui as a template that you then infuse with your own style. Sorta like if you were to make an simple A-line skirt, you would use a pattern that provides the skirt's structure, but you'd adjust the pattern to your dimensions and then you'd choose a fabric, trim, buttons etc that please your individual style.
The Bagua Map is Feng Shui's template, or pattern, if you will. Superimpose it over your floorplan, stretching the edges to fit your home's dimensions. Then add items, according to the Bagua, that please you aesthetically.
If the art work you found at Homesense turns you on, it's a great Feng Shui cure...providing you place it in the corresponding energy area of your home. For example, if it's an item that represents wealth & abundance, place it in the Wealth Area.
Here's a link to the Feng Shui section of my website to help you find the areas on the Bagua Map. Also check out the information on the Five Elements. As I describe on the site, working with the Five Elements is like planting sun-loving plant in the sunny spots and shade-loving plants in the shady spots. To do otherwise will kill the plants, therefore wasting your efforts, time and money.
If you need individualized Feng Shui advice, I'm just a click away. Visit my site, www.space-lift.com to see if there is a consultation type that fits your needs. I'm also happy to create one that fits your 'dimensions.'
Once you get the hang of this, your home will indeed talk to you...and compliment you like a supportive friend.
More more information on Dr. Emoto, visit http://www.hado.net/
*From Dr. Emoto's wiki page: In 2003, James Randi publicly offered Emoto one million dollars if his results can be reproduced in a double-blind study. In 2006, Emoto published a paper together with Dean Radin and others in the peer-reviewed Explore: The Journal of Science and Healing (of which Radin was co-editor-in-chief. They describe that in a double blind test, approximately 2000 people in Tokyo could increase the aesthetic appeal of water stored in a room in California, compared to water in another room, solely through their positive intentions.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Sunday, January 24, 2010
If you're still considering which charity to donate to in the effort to help Haiti recover from the devastating earthquakes, the American Institute of Philanthropy might be your best resource.
This leading charity watchdog group has announced its top-rated list of charities involved in Haitian earthquake relief efforts.
The American Institute of Philanthropy issues letter grade ratings to the following charities which are providing aid to the victims. The grade is based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency.
Contact the organizations below for information of specific relief operations now underway.
Note: Links will open in a new window
• American Red Cross (A-)
• AmeriCares (A)
• CARE (A)
• Mercy Corps (A-)
• Operation USA (A)
• Oxfam-America (A-)
• Partners in Health (A+)
• Plan USA (A-)
• Salvation Army (A)
• World Neighbors (B+)
• World Vision (B+)
Top-rated charities perform favorably in relation to AIP’s benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) Charities should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.
Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency relief, health care, infrastructure development, education, etc.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
Three years ago this week, my first video, Top Ten Feng Shui Tips From Elizabeth Chamberlain was posted on YouTube.* I hadn't paid much attention to it as of late, so I just checked in for a look-see. Turns out, its had over 147,000 views, and for the last two years has held the #1 place among Feng Shui videos in a field of about 10,000.
In other words, I have three of the top five Feng Shui videos!
Wow, I'm totally overwhelmed and, frankly, humbled by all of this.
Since this whole thing started, I've had folks from all over the world sign up for free tips on my website and email me asking advice. It feels fanfriggintastic to be able to help so many folks seeking guidance.
But that feeling doesn't go to my head. Oh, no, my friends. Because more than fans are the numbers of snarky commenters hiding behind their computers. With a total of 23 videos on dozens of websites, I've heard just about everything from the peanut gallery.
It reminds me of Tina Fey, who while accepting last year's Golden Globe award, shared her take on this trend.
“If you ever feel too good about yourself, they have this thing called ‘the internet.’ You can find a lot of people there who don’t like you, and I’d like to address some of them now."
She then proceeded to list off the offenders, which included such online personalities as “dianefan,” “BabsonLacrosse,” and “cougar-letter,” telling them, one by one, that they “can suck it!”
Since this blog is my forum, I'd like to take the time here to respond to some of the comments I've received.
fingersmaloy- You're right, the Top Ten Feng Shui Tips List does sound like "House Keeping For Dummies." And yes, everyone does already know to fix drips, change burnt bulbs and tighten knobs. The thing is, most folks don't get up off the sofa and do it! They wait months before getting around to their Handy Andy list. I'm just pointing out how it affects you from a Feng Shui perspective.
ichachu- I'm actually not a "wannabe Asian." I'm very content with my roots, thank you. There is no rule that states you have to be Asian to practice Feng Shui. Feng Shui is a system of encouraging and controlling the flow of energy in our surroundings. Energy is universal, just as gravity is universal. Sir Isaac Newton, an Englishman, discovered the Laws of Gravity, but you don't have to be English to fall down.
toolongsingapore- This Top Ten List is, in fact, Feng Shui. Obviously, the subject is far more vast than I could cover in 3:11 minutes, however, I created it as basic steps that everyone can take to improve the energy flow in their surroundings. The webseries goes into more detail. Check it out.
tkdkung- Au contraire, a "white lady teaching Feng Shui" is nothing like "a German teaching us the Didgeridoo."
drevil666- Yes, people really do pay me to do this. They report great improvements in their lives as well as a healthy flow of energy they didn't know existed. Plus, their homes look better and function more efficiently. You should try it...but with a name like yours, I'd strongly suggest you also perform a Space Clearing.
And to the boys...
skidooyohoo- I didn't know before you pointed it out that you can see my bra strap in the first video, but kudos for watching it three times to confirm.
brostomper, mnyprest, and ryguy- Yes, they're real.
geekboy07- No, I'm not trying to 'hyp-no-tize' you with them.
*Director & Producer, Sheri Hellard, is my wonderful partner on all videos.