Friday, November 21, 2008

The Garden

There is a doorway to a wonderful place. A place of deep peace, deep contentment, and deep inner knowing.

And it is such an incredible journey which leads to this place. It is a journey of intense emotions, constant change, moment after moment filled with infinity, the sacred & the profane, expansion & contraction, duality & paradox, ecstasy & hell, comedy & tragedy, gratitude & regret, fear & trust, frustration & release, exertion & relaxation, forgiveness & resentment, excitement & disillusionment, agony & bliss, awe & contempt, wonder & despair, passion & apathy, confusion & clarity.

And when a person can sit in one of these incredible, dynamic spaces, filled with the ever-changing energies, tumultuous and flowing, and just BE - surrender, let go, and relax into the Infinite - this is when one connects with the Self, is filled with the light of his or her True Nature, and steps effortlessly through the doorway and into the garden of infinite potential.

Buy Nothing Day

The day after Thanksgiving has been traditionally known as the biggest shopping day of the year. But not this year! This year, the day after Thanksgiving is Buy Nothing Day!!! Here's how to find a Buy Nothing Day event, or list yours!

And you can send a Buy Nothing Day card to your friends and family by clicking here.

Lots of people are talking about it!

Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping will be hosting a free dance party at Union Square in New York City.

Here's what Ad Busters has to say about the big event:

"Suddenly, we ran out of money and, to avoid collapse, we quickly pumped liquidity back into the system. But behind our financial crisis a much more ominous crisis looms: we are running out of nature… fish, forests, fresh water, minerals, soil. What are we going to do when supplies of these vital resources run low?

There’s only one way to avoid the collapse of this human experiment of ours on Planet Earth: we have to consume less.

It will take a massive mindshift. You can start the ball rolling by buying nothing on November 28th. Then celebrate Christmas differently this year, and make a New Year’s resolution to change your lifestyle in 2009.

It’s now or never!"

This is what Buy Nothing Day looks like in the UK.

And the Consumer Monster also has his own unique take on the situation.

The philosophy of Buy Nothing Day, which is to consume much, much less than we are currently consuming, is precisely what is going to shift us from our current paradigm into a beautiful new paradigm that is more sustainable...and much more enjoyable.

So folks, there you go. Now go forth nothing!!!

Good News

My friend Heidi just gave me this beautiful article about a woman in New York City who has created a website called Hero Reports, which is dedicated to sharing the stories of the good deeds of New Yorkers.

This touched my heart, having lived in New York City for awhile, and having found New Yorkers to be wonderful, warm, helpful people (despite the prevalent stereotypes to the contrary).

And also, the idea of spreading the light of good news is powerful and necessary to counteract all of the "bad" news that we are constantly inundated with from the mainstream media.

So I decided to do a search for good news and was delighted to see all of the sites which are sharing the light of the goodness around the world.

One beautiful site that I found is the Good News Network.

Another is Good News Daily.

Even Yahoo has a site called Spotlight: Good News Now.

The Transcendental Meditation Movement also has a good news site sharing Good News from Around the World.

One of my favorite quotes is by Richard David Carson. He says, "In every moment you are a devotee. In every moment you devote your life to something. You do so via your awareness."

People in many different circles will say the same thing in different ways. And the main message is this: What you put your attention on grows stronger. We are responsible for our thoughts because our thoughts create reality.

Janet Attwood of The Passion Test says,
"It's so easy to give attention to all the things we don't like in our life. Yet what a fascinating paradox it is that the more attention you give to what you don't want, the more of that you get. If you're focused on all the problems, you get more problems."

And this is the Law of Attraction, recently made very well-known by the popular book, "The Secret" and Jerry & Esther Hicks and Abraham. It's become so mainstream recently that Oprah talked about it on CNN.

And yet millions of people around the world are planted in front of their TVs many hours a day, listening to story after story about death, destruction, violence, poverty, deceit, and every other type of story which instills fear in them.

So, what can YOU do?

Focus on the good, the positive, and the Light. It is our birthright, and also our personal responsibility to do so, in order to create a beautiful world in which to live. This is how we will usher in the new paradigm of light, peace, and love, which we have been dreaming of for so long.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Green Economy is Now

I just received this forward (read below), and while an email like this probably instills a lot of fear in many people, I see hope for a greener and more sustainable economy. All of the stores below are anything but green, and the economy in which they exist is collapsing before our very eyes.

One amazing organization, Green Jobs Now, is actively demonstrating that "we are ready to tackle the climate crisis by building a green economy strong enough to lift people out of poverty."

And The Story of Stuff is a great, very clear 20 minute video explanation of why our current system is so very unsustainable.

Perhaps it's too soon to celebrate - there is still a lot of work to be done. But something very powerful is unfolding here on Planet Earth and we are the lucky ones who are blessed to be a part of it.

Halleluia - there's hope for us yet!!!

Subject: NO!! gift cards this year


It would be better to give cash or a present. Here's why. Stores across America are being scheduled to close after the Christmas season due to economic difficulties and bankruptcy. If the store closes, the gift cards would be no good. Here are some of the announced closings. Of course these companies would love you to give them money for a gift card that would be no good later on. Perhaps some home made jam or a $5 bill would be safer, since once a store declares bankruptcy they don't have to honor their gift cards. Better yet, give the gift of food storage.

STORE CLOSINGS AND LAYOFFS: By the end of Dec. 2008 as announced

Circuit City Filed Bankruptcy, they promised to keep all stores open for the holiday season, but afterwards, they plan on closing 155 stores nationwide.

Ann Taylor closing 117 stores nationwide.
A company spokeswoman said the company hasn't revealed which stores will be shuttered. It will let the stores that will close this fiscal year know over the next month

Eddie Bauer to close more stores. Eddie Bauer has already closed 27 shops in the first quarter and plans to close up to two more outlet stores by the end of the year.

Cache closing stores. Women's retailer Cache announced that it is closing 20 to 23 stores this year.

Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, and Catherines closing 150 stores nationwide. The owner of retailers Lane Bryant, Fashion Bug, Catherines Plus Sizes will close about 150 underperforming stores this year. The company hasn't provided a list of specific store closures and can't say when it will offer that info, spokeswoman Brooke Perry said today.

Talbots, J. Jill closing stores.
About a month ago, Talbots announced that it will be shuttering all 78 of its kids and men 's stores. Now t he company says it will close another 22 underperforming stores. The 22 stores will be a mix of Talbots women's and J Jill, another chain it owns. The closures will occur this fiscal year, according to a company press release.

Gap Inc. closing 85 stores
In addition to its namesake chain, Gap also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic . The company said the closures - all planned for fiscal 2008 - will be weighted toward the Gap brand.

Foot Locker to close 140 stores In the company press release and during its conference call with analysts
today, it did not specify where the future store closures - all planned in fiscal 2008 - will be. The company could not be immediately reached for comment

Wickes is going out of business and closing all of its stores. Wickes, a 37-year-old retailer that targets middle-income customers, filed for bankruptcy protection last month.

Goodbye Levitz / BOMBAY - closed already The furniture retailer, which is going out of business. Levitz first announced it was going out of business and closing all 76 of its stores in December. The retailer dates back to 1910 when Richard Levitz opened his first furniture store in Lebanon , PA. In the 1960s, the warehouse/showroom concept brought Levitz to the forefront of
the furniture industry. The local Levitz closures will follow the shutdown of Bombay .

Zales, Piercing Pagoda closing stores. It plans to close 82 stores by Jul y 31. Today, it announced that it is closing another 23
underperforming stores. The company said it's not providing a list of specific store closures. Of the 105 locations planned for closure, 50 are kiosks and 55 are stores.

Disney Store owner has the right to close 98 stores The Walt Disney Company announced it acquired about 220 Disney Stores from subsidiaries of The Children's Place Retail Stores. The exact number of stores acquired will depend on negotiations with landlords. Those subsidiaries of Children's Place filed for bankruptcy protection in late March. In the news release, Disney said it has also obtained the right to close about 98 Disney Stores in the U.S. The press release didn't list those stores.

Home Depot store closings. Nearly 7+ months after its chief executive said there were no plans to cut the number of its core retail stores, The Home Depot Inc. announced Thursday that it is shuttering 15 of them amid a slumping US. economy and housing market. The move will affect 1,300 employees. It is the first time the world's largest home improvement store chain has ever closed a flagship store for performance reasons. Its shares rose almost 5 percent. The Atlanta-based company said the underperforming U.S. stores being closed represent less than 1 percent of its existing stores

CompUSA (CLOSED) clarifies details on store closings Any extended warranties purchased for products through CompUSA will be honored by a third-party provider, Assurant Solutions. Gift cards, rain checks, and rebates purchased prior to December 12 can be redeemed at any time during the final sale. For those who have a gadget currently in for service with CompUSA, the repair will be completed and the gadget will be returned to owners.

Macy's - 9 stores

Movie Gallery - 160 stores will close as part of a reorganization plan to exit bankruptcy. The video rental company plans to close 400 of 3,500 Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video stores in addition to the 520 locations the video rental chain closed last fall.

Pep Boys - 33 stores

Sprint Nextel - 125 retail locations. New Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse appears to have inherited a company bleeding subscribers by the thousands, and will now officially be dropping the ax on 4,000 employees and 125 retail locations. Amid the loss of 639,000 postpaid customers in the fourth quarter, Sprint will be cutting a total of 6.7% of its work force (following the 5,000 layoffs last year)! and 8% of company-owned brick-and-mortar stores, while remaining mute on other rumors that it will consolidate its headquarters in Kansas . Sprint Nextel shares are down $2.89, or nearly 25%, at the time of this writing.

J. C. Penney, Lowe's and Office Depot will be scaling back and cutting jobs.

Ethan Allen Interiors - The company announced plans to close 12 of 300+ stores in an effort to cut costs.

Wilsons the Leather Experts - all 260 mall stores.

Pacific Sunwear will close its 154 Demo stores after a review of strategic alternatives for the urban-apparel brand Seventy-four underperforming Demo stores closed last May.

Sharper Image: The company recently filed for bankruptcy protection and announced that 90 of its 184 stores are closing. The retailer will still operate 94 stores to pay off debts, but 90 of these stores have performed poorly and also may close.

Bombay Company
The company plans to close all 384 U.S.-based Bombay Company stores. The company's online storefront has discontinued operations.

KB Toys posted a list of 356 stores that it is closing around the United States as part of its bankruptcy reorganization.

Dillard's to Close More Stores - Dillard's Inc. said it will continue to focus on closing underperforming stores, reducing expenses and improving its merchandise in 2008. At the company's annual shareholder meeting, CEO William Dillard II said the company will close another six underperforming stores this year.

Starbucks: Starbucks will close approximately 600 company- operated stores in the U.S.

Pier 1: Announced that they would be closing an undisclosed number of stores.

Kirklands: A chain of home decor stores will be closing nearly 130 stores nationwide.

Sprint: to cut 4500 jobs. and 125 stores.

Linens 'n Things: Is closing 120 stores nationwide

Dell Inc. closed its 140 kiosks in the United States

Sigrid Olsen - Liz Claiborne Inc. said it's closing the entire 54-store Sigrid Olsen chain.

Lone Star Steak House: 27 stores closing.

84 Lumber: 12 stores closing

Rite Aid: 28 stores

Big Dollar: dollar stores closing 10 stores

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I am reading "Anastasia", the first book in The Ringing Cedar Series, and it is so much fun to live in her fantasy while I am reading it, but the moment I put the book down and look around me at the reality in which I live, I feel downright depressed.

Oh, how I yearn to prance daintily and blithely through the forest, without a care in the world, knowing that the abundance of the universe will never run out, and that I will always have everything I need.

In this fantasy, magic is everywhere, and so obvious and wondrous to behold.

I imagine running though the forest, with utmost ease and grace, with butterflies and breezes tickling my nose, and fairies blessing my every move.

I dream of living harmoniously with Nature, in the truest, purest sense. To sleep in the arms of the Mother, lovingly resting my head in her soft grasses, as the luminous heavenly bodies sprinkle stardust and starlight upon my sleeping body.

And to awake to rays of sunshine dancing upon the sparkling, pristine waters of the rivers and lakes that have not yet been touched by man. This is where I spend my days swimming, dancing, singing, praying, and rejoicing in the goodness of God's Creation.

I long to eat the nourishing food that the Earth provides, just as she provides it, in its pure form, without the temptations of the many processed foods that I am bombarded with everyday.

I want to leave behind all these pressures to succeed and to "be somebody" and to earn a living and be a productive member of society.

I yearn for all of these things, and yet, here I sit, at my computer, connecting with people in such an artificial way. Blogs, Facebook, MySpace...such superficial ways of connecting. I am starved for human touch, as I sit here at the computer, reading the words of other human beings, but not sharing space with them.

So maybe I should just go live in the forest somewhere. I'm sure there is an intentional community somewhere where I could go live close to the Earth. But there is a part of me that will never be satisfied with a simple life like that.

I have grown to love airplanes, although perhaps if I lived a simpler life, I would have more time to practice astral travel. I have grown to love eating exotic foods that come from far away, although perhaps if I grew my own food, those desires would just melt away. I grown to love the Internet, although it's just a manifestation of the interconnectedness that already exists between all people.

This "progress" of the industrial age and now the information age does not seem like progress to me. It seems primitive at best, and pales in comparison with the infinite, innate, divine qualities and abilities that humans had before we forgot that we had them. Part of me remembers these qualities. Part of me still possesses some of them. And tears run down my face as I contemplate what we have lost in the name of "progress."

Oh, it is a sad state that we live in - being a modern day human being. Or maybe not. It's all a matter of perspective.

But the way that I am seeing it right now, I feel very, very, very far from home, and I see no possible way of returning to the simple life that my ancestors enjoyed. And it feels very, very sad.

"How happy is the little stone
that rambles in the road alone
and doesn't care about careers
and exigencies never fears
whose coat of elemental brown
a passing universe put on
and independent as the sun
associates or glows alone
fulfilling absolute decree
in casual simplicity."
-Emily Dickinson

A Sense of Purpose

Last night, I called my friend Kiye in tears. "What's wrong?" he asked. "A thousand things," I replied. "Well," he gently inquired, "what is number one?" I sputtered, "I feel" He burst out laughing, saying something in reference to the human condition. And I laughed too, recognizing the universality of my pain and my situation. It feels so painful sometimes, feeling like I have no purpose here on this earth. Where and what is my little niche? I want to "do something" with my life, something that only I can do because of my uniqueness, such that I feel like there is a reason for me to be here.

I suppose that stems from some deep belief that I am not enough, that I need to "do" something to prove that I am worth the space that I take up here. And there is a connection with my financial situation. I have been in debt with my credit cards for three years now, and I am sick of playing the balance transfer game. I want to pay them off once and for all. I want to experience this financial abundance that I have been visualizing and intending to manifest for the past three years. I want to be able to set up a home base somewhere and travel freely from there. I want to go to the grocery store without feeling stressed.

All this talk about "doing" reminds me that maybe I need to focus more on "being." I can talk myself in circles, and I know all of what I have been told about all of this, but it just feels confusing.

To live in modern day America, modern day world, and to focus on "being" just seems impossible.

How can I live peacefully, following my bliss, and enjoying my life, and still make MONEY?

Friday, November 7, 2008

Grandma Elly Raspberry Jelly

Grandma Elly Raspberry Jelly

Here I sit in Grandma's apartment

Watching her read the news

She's so adorable sitting in her chair

In her white little tennis shoes

Oh how sad we'll be when she leaves

We'll miss her stories and how funny she is

But she will be finally out of her pain

And we will surely be glad for this

We love her so dearly

We love her so much

We'll miss her hugs

And her gentle touch

Her sassy ways

And her silliness

Her contagious laugh

And straightforwardness

She knows what she wants

And she knows how to get it

A determined woman

She does not quit

Strong and independent

Her will is like steel

She doesn't give up

'Til she's sealed the deal

Persistent and diligent

Witty and sharp, too

You'd better be careful

She's nobody's fool

So don't try to trick her

Anything but that

Or she'll see through your bullshit

In two seconds flat

And don't try to fool her

This lady is tough

She'll know what you're up to

She's been through enough

She's a hard worker

Finishing what she's begun

A devoted, loving mother

Doing what needs to be done

A steadfast servant

Of God above

In Him she trusts

And Him she loves

We love this woman

Who we call Elly

She's one of a kind

Like her raspberry jelly

Rest in Peace, Grandma Elly

In this video my grandma is talking about her "witchy" grandmother-in-law.

I am writing to share with you the experience of my Grandma Elly's passing on Wednesday. It feels sad and we are going to miss her, but we are so also very happy for her. It is such a blessing for her to be liberated from her 88 year old earthly body, which hasn't been working very well in recent years.

It was a beautiful passing, very peaceful, and my mom, my uncle, and I were all there with her at the very end. I was so blessed to be holding her hand as she took her last breath. It was so wonderful to see her resting so peacefully, after a life filled with so much hard work.

I was so grateful to be able to tell her, one last time, how thankful I am for all of her hard work (I have had many wonderful opportunities in my life because of her - in fact, I wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for her - and I am very aware of this), how much I love her, and how proud I am to be her granddaughter.

She was SUCH an incredible woman, and I feel so deeply blessed and privileged to be her granddaughter. She was a woman of great integrity, determination, and faith. People have already been telling us how much they are going to miss Elly's stories - she entertained us with them for hours. She was a "straight shooter" - always telling it like it was, a hard worker, and SO very feisty, sassy, and utterly hilarious. And since she lived in West Bend, Wisconsin from the day she was born until the day she died, she knew A LOT of people. She was beloved by many - we are expecting 1,000+ people at the funeral tomorrow. She was quite the woman about town. :)

The funeral visitation will be held at Phillips Funeral Home, which is built on the land that used to be the farm where my grandma grew up. And she will be buried with a perfect Sheepshead hand in her hands. Sheepshead was her favorite card game - she loved to gamble.

The aftermath of her death will be a long, emotional rollercoaster for our family, especially my mom and her brother Ed, so please pray for peace and comfort for everyone who knew this very special lady named Elly. Thank you - I can feel your love radiating from miles away. :)

And here is her obituary, which my mom and I wrote.

Eleanor (Vogt) Ihlenfeld went home to the Lord on November 5, 2008, after 88 years of life. She was surrounded by her family, and filled with God's peace, at the time of her death.

Elly was born to Nicholas and Helena (Jansen) Vogt on October 1, 1920 in West Bend. She was raised on her family's farm, where she helped operate Oak Lawn Dairy. She graduated from West Bend High School in the class of 1938. Then, on November 3, 1945, Elly married Ed Ihlenfeld at Holy Angels Church in West Bend. Together, they operated a dairy farm and raised two children, Ethel and Ed. Elly also worked as the secretary to the vice president of the West Bend Company. Later, she completed a medical record transcription course and became the Director of Medical Records at the Cedar Lake Home. Then, since Elly always had her finger on the pulse of West Bend, she decided to run for County Board Supervisor. She was elected and served 12 years. A lifelong resident of West Bend, she was committed to serving the best interests of her community. She was always willing to lend a helping hand to those in need. She also served her community by volunteering her time as the secretary of the American Red Cross, and was a charter member of St. Frances Cabrini. Her pride and joy was her family, and she also cherished her many friends. She loved traveling, playing cards, gardening, socializing, and keeping up with current events.

Elly is survived by her daughter, Ethel Pillman, and her son Ed (Julie) Ihlenfeld. She is also survived by her four grandchildren: Erin Pillman, Michael (Katie) Pillman, and Edison and Alissa Ihlenfeld. She is further survived by other family and friends. Elly was preceded in death by her husband, Ed, her sisters Helen Oelhafen and Therese Oelhafen, her brothers Clarence, Carl, and Denis Vogt, and her grandson, Joseph Raymond Ihlenfeld.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held on Saturday, November 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm at St. Frances Cabrini with Father Jeffrey Haines officiating. Interment at Holy Angels Cemetery following the mass. Visitation will be at the Phillip Funeral Home Chapel of West Bend from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm with closing of casket payers to follow.

In lieu of flowers, memorials are appreciated to St. Frances Cabrini School, Food for the Poor, or a charity of the donor's choice.

Our family extends a special thank you to the staff at River Way Place in West Bend, the staff at Aurora Medical Center of Washington County in Hartford, and Dr. Muhammad Mian.