Saturday, May 30, 2020

Jigsaw Puzzle Therapy

I've been working on improving brain function with jigsaw puzzles and have noticed a significant improvement in even the ability to read faster and comprehend more of what I read. Many articles on aging include the necessity of maintaining your cognitive function. I initially got started as a means to pass the time.


"Solving puzzles helps reinforce existing connections between our brain cells. It also increases the generation of new relationships. This, in turn, improves mental speed and thought processes. Jigsaw puzzles are especially good for improving short-term memory. Our short-term memory helps us remember shapes and colors and visualize the bigger picture to figure out which pieces will fit together."

In addition to improved memory, benefits include better problem-solving skills, improved visual-spatial skills, improved mood, keeping your brain active to delay dementia and Alzheimer's, lower stress levels, increased attention to detail, and an increase in productivity.

I had been doing a lot of Word-Find puzzles and even wrote a previous blog post about it. Now I am on jigsaw marathon. Perhaps, I can call it jigsaw meditation. While working on them, I can zone out for hours at a time... which is not necessarily a good thing as I also disconnect from what my body is doing... like slouching. In addition to the few I already owned, I borrowed from the apartment complex community room and from the girl who comes during the week to assist me.

When I first open the box of a new jigsaw puzzle, I scan the pieces. Are they all the same? Are they thick or thin? Do they have drastically different shapes? I wonder whether I will be able to complete it or not. (Self-doubt.) Some have been relatively easy, but some have been especially difficult. The more difficult ones include 3D, watercolor paintings, and ones with mostly backgrounds of a similar color.

How can I compare this with life? When I enter a room full of people, I scan the room. Who is there? Who is not? Who are they sitting with? Who would I like to sit with? People. Relationships. When I first meet someone, I wonder if we will connect or if we will be drastically different. I wonder about their personalities, their life experiences, whether they are simple-minded or complex. How much personal information I can safely share with them. Sometimes, everyone in the room is the same nationality. Sometimes, there is a mix. Sometimes, one person of a different nationality is in a room full of people who are all the same. Since I would feel odd in that situation, I wonder if they do.

With 3D puzzles, depending on the time of day and the lighting, the colors and images keep changing. Inconsistency. I think of 3D as 3 dimensional. Our 3-dimensional world includes the senses: sight, smell, hearing, tasting, and touching. Yet there is also 4D and 5D that a person must develop the ability to understand in order to believe in those dimensions. In energy medicine, 4D and 5D are included in your overall assessment. Doing a 3D puzzle requires a newer level of patience on my part. Perhaps I am to develop a newer level of patience with people.

I wonder how many new brain synapses are forming as my eyes get accustomed to looking at something that continuously changes. I've noticed how the 3D puzzle stimulates parts of my brain that eventually figures out how the variations of the pieces fit together. I may have to take long breaks between pieces, but then I am enthralled when I return to "know" and remember where new pieces belong.

This is what happens in my life. Perhaps yours, too. The epiphany.

Just over a week ago, someone gifted me with a Thomas Kinkade puzzle... watercolor. I looked at this puzzle being 1,000 pieces of watercolor splotches and felt overwhelmed without even trying it. I am fully aware of how many times I have done this with life. I looked at the entire situation with anxiety vs. the mentality that one piece at a time is all I needed to tackle, and eventually, the project would get done, especially if all the pieces are there, or the situation would work out.

With many watercolor paintings, there are no definitive lines. Life has no definitive lines. The only thing certain is change. After already giving up on a previous watercolor puzzle, I accepted the gift from both the person and the Universe as an opportunity to expand the capacity of my brain. I must rely on fitting shapes together vs. colors. I must take a different approach to solving the problem. I have to take many breaks to give my brain a chance to catch up with the new synapses it is developing.

In my book, Appearances: A Journey of Self-Discovery, I wrote a chapter titled Jigsaw Puzzles.

"My life is a giant jigsaw puzzle, with God the only one who knows what the completed picture looks like. I receive more pieces with each experience. It may take hours, days, weeks, months, or years for me to figure out how they fit, but when I do figure out where the pieces go, and I step back to look at how it is coming together, I am always amazed. Piece by piece, I am formed by the many experiences I have. I wonder how old I will be before it will be finished, whether it's completion will happen as I make my transition to the spirit world, or whether I will have an opportunity to study and observe the completed puzzle when I get old and life slows down."

Well, I sure was surprised when the last piece found its spot. I can't believe my brain managed to process and complete what felt like a monumental task. There were times it seemed like my brain even knew where to find a piece from one of many trays I use to organize them after looking at an empty spot on the board. I decided this one is going up on my bedroom wall to remind me that in life...

...many times, we must rely on and trust our intuition (6th sense) vs. 3D senses. Everything always works out... even if it is very different than what you hope for. 

Saturday, May 2, 2020


I’ve gone through so many metamorphoses I’ve lost count. With each ‘phase,’ I have lost interest in what I had previously been interested in and developed an entirely new set of interests. As you can see in this post, I am comparing my experience to insects.

Some insects shed their skin multiple times as they mature. I’m sure it must be a painful process. It was painful each time I had to shed mine. My skins included homes, most everything IN my homes, friends, and jobs; hobbies, what kinds of books I liked to read, and what kind of poetry and songs I have written; health challenges I developed and overcame; beliefs, emotions, and mental states; feeling social and outgoing and wanting to hibernate; foods I liked, no longer like, and now all the new foods I like.

“When an insect is about to molt, it looks for a hidden place. Molting can take hours, during which the insect is not able to protect itself. The old skin splits open down the back. Then the insect works to pull every part of its body, including its antennae and legs, out of the old skin covering. It’s a difficult process and the insect isn’t always successful. Some die during molting.”

I have hidden, isolated, withdrawn, and have even disassociated during molts. The trouble is, I had no idea I was molting. No one taught me that humans molt, too. Each molt was extremely difficult, and I often wondered if I would survive them. I’ve even had a few close calls with death. There were times I felt like I walked completely out of who I was and became someone else.

Then there are butterflies and moths.

“Butterflies and moths go through a life cycle known as complete metamorphosis. The stages of their life cycle include egg, larva, pupa, and adult.”

Life cycles. Conception, fetus, birth, infant, toddler, preschool, middle school, high school, 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, and now 60’s.

I sincerely hope I don't have to molt again.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

On the Move: Autobiography of a Survivor

Wouldn't it be nice to have software that can analyze all your life experiences and provide a report of your soul lessons? And when you "graduate," you become one of many teachers you learned from? I really DO wish software like this exists, but to my knowledge, it doesn't. I am still figuring all that out for myself.

Introducing... my latest book: On the Move: Autobiography of a Survivor.

Book Description

I’m still here. I am a survivor. However, I didn’t realize it during years of experiencing one situation after another with adrenaline rushes that wreaked havoc on my health. Resilience wasn’t in my constitution or my vocabulary. I wandered through life searching relentlessly for meaning and love in all the wrong places through the distorted lens of my false beliefs and programming. While this book is filled with my stories from the past, for the most part, I choose to let them live in my books while I create new, improved stories for my life. Prepare for a wild ride through the roller-coaster of a lifetime.


I’m still here. I am a survivor. However, I didn’t realize it during years of experiencing one situation after another with adrenaline rushes that wreaked havoc on my health. Resilience wasn’t in my constitution or my vocabulary. I’ve endured and survived childhood abuse, trauma, chronic stress, depression, way too many dysfunctional relationships, date rape, abuse and rape from partners, abortion, walking away from all my possessions, being a single parent, abandonment, car accidents, chronic pain, Epstein-Barr viruses, chronic fatigue, adrenal fatigue, losing my job, getting on disability, becoming wheelchair dependent, shame, self-loathing, homelessness, un-friendly roommates, slumlords, prescription drug withdrawal, disassociation, and moving 43 times. If life is an education, I’ve obtained a whopper of one. I wandered through life searching relentlessly for meaning and love in all the wrong places through the distorted lens of my false beliefs and programming. I was also a scaredy-cat, so I often up and moved when a situation became uncomfortable.

Meanwhile, in between all the above chaos, life was good. I lived in some very nice places, had mostly great jobs, got to do some traveling, and met a lot of interesting people. At one point I realized I was getting help from the spiritual realm whenever things got too intense.

Just like a parent must allow their children to become independent, solve their own problems, and manage their own lives, it seemed my spiritual helpers were doing the same for me. They didn’t interfere unless they felt it was necessary… or I cried out for help. Perhaps had I had a different type of career (I think of journalism in third world countries and other dangerous places), all my experiences would have been part of the job.

Ultimately, I wanted to do more than just exist like I saw so many other people doing. I wrote poetry, songs, letters, journals, short stories, blog posts, and books. I also kept logs of every job I had, place I lived, man I ‘dated,’ car I owned, and educational course I took.

Meanwhile, I had majored in business in high school and acquired typing, bookkeeping, and secretarial skills. Thus, despite all the chaos, I could always find and keep a job. I was dependable and rarely stayed home when I didn’t feel well, or the stress of a living situation overwhelmed me. When I had to move to an area that had temp agencies, I would get temp assignments which inevitably became full-time, permanent positions. Even though I didn’t go on to college after high school, I often took a class at a local community college, eventually accumulating enough credits to transfer to University of Phoenix and obtained a bachelor’s degree. If a company I worked for offered continuing education, I took advantage of that, too.

While this book is filled with my stories from the past, for the most part, I choose to let them live in my books while I create new, improved stories for my life. I combined content from two books I previously self-published: Appearances: A Journey of Self-Discovery and Love, Life, & God: Getting Past the Pain. Appearances was written by topic vs. chronological order, but the content needed to be modified so it would be compatible with the content of the second book. Thus, I reorganized it all to fit in with a timeline based on the logs I kept.

Linda Roper, the narrator of these two books for Audible, had asked if I considered combining them into one, but at the time, I couldn’t figure out how. Then, when I began to think about getting coaching for speaking as an author, I felt compelled to condense these two books down into one, eliminating the fill-ins such as poetry, song lyrics, quotes, stories about cats, stories about chickens, stories about mice, and more. My goal is to use my stories in speaking but with the focus on the transformation that occurred that made me who I am today.

Chapters 1 through 18 are out of Appearances which I wrote in 1998. In 2013, someone asked me how I ended up in Texas. Since it was a lonnggg story, I sat down and wrote Love, Life, & God. Content from my third memoir titled, Living With Symptomatic Spondylolisthesis: A Personal Survival Guide (2019) is not included. The names of some of the people have been changed to protect their privacy.


A note on the word meanwhile: I use this word quite often to alert the reader that an event had been taking place in the midst of other events going on in the chapters. This eliminated the challenge of writing events in chronological order by date… which was almost impossible in many circumstances.

 1The Beginning

Once upon a time, I was a tiny egg… fertilized by a sperm. I grew… miraculously… into a human being… entering this world on October 29, 1955, the second oldest of six children.

(and the book continues)

Monday, March 30, 2020

Howl's Moving Castle

I've been binge-watching Studio Ghibli movies... and watched Howl's Moving Castle with my attendant. When it was over, and I expressed my delight about it, she told me there was also a book. I ordered it off of Amazon and read it in three days. 

The movie is based on the book but the scenes are very different. However, the main things I got out of both were the same. There are elements of suspense and danger; good vs. evil; courage vs. fear. I began relating the scenes to aspects of my own life as well as what is going on in the world around us. 

Sofie is a young, beautiful girl who thinks she is ugly. Just like I was. The Witch of the Waste put a spell on her and turned her into an old woman. I have certainly felt like I've had that spell put on me, too. But unlike I was, she is resilient... and not afraid to face people who are mean-spirited or moody. She is courageous... and walked miles through rough terrain to reach her destination.

Howl is a wizard. Sofie went looking for him hoping he could break the spell the Witch of the Waste put on her. She arrived as an old woman, believing the only place she can go is to this castle. Inside, she finds it absolutely filthy, which reminded me of how dirty my son's room was as well as the homes some men (and some women) I have known were. She declared herself a cleaning lady and went to town cleaning and scrubbing every part of the castle... despite the resistance she received from its inhabitants. I thought about the neatnik I am, cleaning every inch of my living space.

Sophie easily stands up to Howl's cranky behavior, firmly reprimands him, she sees through his behavior, and chooses to see his kindness... the same kindness that allowed her and another apprentice to live in his castle. I had also chosen to look past the behavior of boys and men, choosing to see the good in them. But I didn't know how to be assertive like Sofie.

Despite his power and expertise, Howl must battle the evil the Witch of the Waste had done, putting spells on people that he couldn't figure out how to reverse. He is stuck emotionally as a teenager constantly concerned about his looks and impressing girls. In the book, he spends hours in the bathroom preparing for a date. If a girl he is pursuing rejects him, he comes back depressed and turns into slime which oozes all over the castle. I loved this visual. He had a reputation of kidnapping girls and eating their hearts... typical of most of the boys and men I was involved with who pursued me only until I fell in love with them. I felt like they had eaten my heart, too.

The castle itself is a grand invention that reminded me of some of the things my nephew invented. Maybe Howl had Aspergers, too. He even had similar meltdowns. There is a magic knob inside by the door... and depending on what setting it is put on, the door opens to completely different landscapes. I compared this to my own environment.

One of the knob settings of my life opens the door to the current pandemic. I peek out, become aware, get educated, practice recommended precautions, then close that door and turn the knob again. My front door looks out onto a parking lot and other apartment buildings. My back door looks out onto the creek, beautiful with trees, grass, blooming flowers, squirrels, birds, deer, and community cats. 

I already know the consequences of stress, worry, and anxiety. It is what it is. The only thing within my control is how I react to it. 

In the movie the enemy drops bombs, destroying communities just like COVID-19 is doing. And after much destruction, the people who remain pick up what is left and rebuild. Even my own great grandparents did this. I am alive today because people in that generation survived the holocaust... and the world wars. I have faith that no matter what happens, people will recover and rebuild.

Since I have experienced being fractured as a result of too much stress, I thought about COVID-19 being fractured as a result of the stress humans have caused to the planet. It's her only defense. 

What is within my control? Meditation and visualization. I began to visualize the virus as a stressed-out fractured entity defending itself against the onslaught of torturous activities such as fracturing, deforestation, and pollution. Now that she has succeeded in putting the brakes on that assault, I began to visualize loving this entity back into integration just like I learned therapists can do with people who suffer from trauma. I see in my mind's eye all its particles collecting in one place, being contained, and going into the center of the earth to be purified in molten lava. It is a visual I learned when I took ThetaHealing classes to release and purify our own toxic energy.

Sophie managed to walk through miles of rough terrain, even though she complained the entire way, to get to where she needed to go. With COVID, I see our emergency responders and healthcare workers courageously walking through the unexpected, the unplanned, and the unknown.

We can all be scaredy cats during the current dilemma or see it as a challenge for a wizard. In the story, Howl takes on an apprentice who spends days on end trying to figure out how to make a spell work. The wizards of the world are studying how the virus operates. They are wizards, even wizards in training, bravely experimenting with 'spells' to come up with a way to defeat it. We can choose to support their efforts with positive prayer, meditation, and visualization. But fear is known in every spiritual community to feed the evil energies. This is yet one more opportunity to shift fear into love to diminish its power. 

By the end of the book and movie, love, indeed, prevails. Spells are broken, and people's lives go back to normal. It is a message. We can do this, too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Verbal Judo

...The Gentle Art of Persuasion by George J. Thompson, Ph.D. and Jerry B. Jenkins. Updated Edition.

I believe the best teachers are people who have learned from experience. Including me. I will also say each and every one of the adverse situations I experienced felt draining and oftentimes hopeless. If only I knew while I was in the midst of them what was waiting for me on the other side.

My favorite kinds of books are written by people who include their personal life experiences with the lessons they teach. One example of this type of book is Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion. This book was recommended by a fellow classmate in the course, Powerful Tools for Caregivers. It is filled with different types of situations and suggested ways to handle them, including what to say. In case you need this, Chapter 20 is on How to Fight Fair: Four Steps to a Good Domestic Dispute. 

Before becoming a police officer, George was a teacher. At the beginning of the book, George was 23 years old and found himself teaching a class of hateful juvenile delinquents in an alternative high school. When they refused to cooperate, he discovered by using empathy (standing in another’s shoes and understanding where he’s coming from) and focusing on their strengths vs. their weaknesses by suggesting each kid teach the rest of the class about what they were good at, their low self-worth which reflected in their attitudes transformed into confidence. Students proceeded to graduate with some even getting accepted into college. He managed to refrain from adding additional verbal abuse to what they had already endured.

I highly recommend you read this book to get out of it what you need, but for my own benefit as well as yours in case you don't have time to read it, I will highlight key points based on my own perspective, life situations, and personal needs. If you are a police officer or otherwise in a role which requires more ‘ammunition,’ read the book and perhaps take the seminar. There are tools in the book that apply to all types of situations, including marriages, children, teaching, employment, management, ministerial, or any other position of authority. 

I took a class in Judo many years ago, so I was already familiar with the concept of staying calm when confronted and using the opponent’s own force against them while you remained calm and grounded. I had no idea you could apply these same concepts to verbal communication. No matter what anyone is saying to you or yelling at you, do your best to remain calm and redirect their emotional energy back to them vs. letting it assault you. Just like you can learn to deflect someone striking at you physically with Judo, you can deflect insults as well.

The most common abuse on the planet is verbal abuse. I grew up with it, and without realizing it, I kept attracting more of it into my life. People will most likely heal from physical wounds and abuse but will most likely carry the scars of verbal abuse for the rest of their lives. Remember when I wrote about amygdala hijacks? There’s no sense in jumping into their cyclone and going down with them. You can learn to soften the blows of past verbal abuse by learning new communication skills. You can sway people to comply with your requests without throwing fuel on the fires of their emotions. Thus, the subtitle, The Gentle Art of Persuasion. 

Most of the time, most of what is being said is coming from being emotionally triggered and has nothing to do with you at all. Restate (paraphrase) what you think you heard which invites further conversation. If your emotions are too intense, suggest they give you a minute, a night, or a day to respond so you can calm back down before discussing the situation again. And when it comes to your children, never declare punishment in the heat of emotion. State what you are upset about and send them to their room with “we’ll discuss what will be done about this in the morning” kind of thing.

I think about how I used to freeze whenever I was confronted by an intimidating person. Learning self-defense only pertained to the physical. I love that this book teaches you how to protect yourself from intimidating people verbally; how important it is to stay calm and keep the peace. I believe that even a softie like me can acquire the skills to diffuse an emotional person vs. my previous pattern of avoidance. Perhaps I won't feel like I have to hide from the world as much.

I sure wish I knew these methods while my only child was growing up. Perhaps I can pass on some of what I learn so when his daughter reaches rebellious teenage years, he’ll be prepared. Teenagers often transform into Difficult People who challenge everything with the word “why.” They must do so to develop a sense of autonomy. Don't take it personally. Keep in mind that many adults are still emotionally teenagers in one way or another… where the category of Difficult People comes in.

Here are some highlights from the book:

Most people oppose change. They will fight to keep things the way they are. The secret is simple: It’s okay if someone insults, resists, or attacks you. Laugh it off. Show that it has no meaning, no sting. If you fight back and resist the affront, you give it life and credibility. If you defend yourself, you invite counterattack... an attack carries only the weight he allows it to.

...there are three basic types of people in the world, and each should be handled differently. There are Nice People, Difficult People, and Wimps.

When you shift from resisting to appreciating and even welcoming Difficult People, things become interesting and less tense.

Wimps are the ones who sound like Nice People but are closet Difficult People. They may … compliment you on … but later they get you back, in the back …

This is the communication warrior’s real service: staying calm in the midst of conflict, deflecting verbal abuse, and offering empathy in the face of antagonism. If you cannot empathize with people, you don’t stand a chance of getting them to listen to you, much less accepting your attempts to help--sincere as you may be.

If you take a moment to think as another might be thinking, then speak with his perspective in mind, you can gain immediate rapport. Ill-fitting as his shoes may be, walk a few steps in them. Only then can you provide real understanding and reassurance. Only then can you help that person see the consequences of what he is doing or is about to do. Only then can you help him make enlightened decisions.

We all deal with people “under the influence” nearly everyday. If it’s not alcohol or drugs, it’s frustration, fear, impatience, lack of self-worth, defensiveness, and a host of other influences. Doesn’t it make sense that we should develop a state of mind that will allow us to skillfully interact with these people…

The goal of persuasion is to generate voluntary compliance.

Admittedly, my experience was from a police perspective. But isn’t what I did also what we do when we deal with our children, whether trying to keep them off drugs, get them to come in early, get them to take out the trash, or get them to study? We need to sound as if we care, keep our egos out of it, find the right words to reach them, and present options that will have a powerful influence.

Chapter 27 is a summary of the 26 principles presented in this book.

Chapter 28 is the Five Universal Truths That Fit All:

>All cultures want to be respected and treated with dignity, regardless of the situation.
>All people would rather be asked than told what to do.
>All people want to know why they are being asked or told to do something.
>All people would rather have options than threats.
>All people want a second chance to make matters right. People are human; we err and act in ways we wish we hadn’t. 

Buy the book on Amazon.

Sunday, February 9, 2020


In the realm of the book world, my apartment complex manager mentioned to me about three weeks ago that our little community room library had too many books. In the meantime, I had been going to the Senior Center (Multipurpose Center) on Tuesdays for a class on Powerful Tools for Caregivers.

In my natural want-to-help way, I suggested she save small boxes to pack them in and ask someone to take them to various places... the Mission, the local library, the Salvation Army, etc. Then I decided I could fill a small box tote I had for transporting things on my mobility scooter to take with me to the Center Thrift Store along with other items I wanted to donate.

Two weeks ago, I brought the box tote to the community room to fill up. Have you ever had a book jump out at you and call your attention? I don't remember this happening to me since 2010. I spotted the title Unconditional, was intrigued by the cover and back cover description, and took it home to read. It is based on the motion picture with the same title. Remember, I rarely read fiction these days. I was in for a real tear-jerker. Perhaps it was a good time to do some crying. This last week's class for Caregivers was about emotions and what happens when you hold them in. One can erupt like a volcano.

As I read the book, cleansing tears washed over me. I found numerous synchronicities to situations I had dealt with in my own life... and the numerous times just when I believed the worst, an obvious divine presence showed up to intercede.

The story begins with a woman named Samantha, Sam for short. She is young, married to her first love, and living on a wonderful ranch that his parents gave to them. I must include here that the author writes what I can only describe as artistically and poetically. I was immediately captured by her writing.

My first burst of tears erupted with the compassion I felt toward her grief when her perfect life is shattered by the murder of her husband in a dark alley of a bad neighborhood where he went to repair lights that were out. No, I didn't have a husband who was murdered. But many relationships and marriages had died. Similar grief. It was about the obvious presence of the divine when three years later, as Sam was about to pull the trigger to end her own life in the same place her husband had been murdered, the final moment is interrupted by a child yelling because his little sister had been hit by a car.

In addition to tears of sadness and compassion, I kept bursting into tears about the divine interventions weaved into the story. I knew there was no coincidence that the children were out there during a time she was intending to end her life. I never actually followed through with ending my own life during two periods of despair. I was just obsessed with suicidal thoughts. Memories of these situations rose while I was reading about someone else's experience. (Read my post about Talking Myself Out of Suicide.) I didn't go as far as Sam did with putting a gun to her head.

In the story, Sam comes out of her daze and rushes the two children off to a hospital where the unconscious child could be treated... and hopefully saved. At the hospital, a man shows up regarding the children... a man she hadn't seen since grade school... a man who had been her very best friend. I was sad at that point about not having any childhood best friends. Then I kept reading.

Joe was the only one on the planet who could pull her out of her grief. What an incredible synchronicity that the same children who were in the alley were connected to this man. I recalled the time I had shouted to God: "If you want me to go" (to my son's wedding in California), "send someone to help me and give me a reason to come back!" followed by meeting a man who succeeded in pulling me out of my personal despair.

The story has one arc after another, expertly interweaved like a suspense novel with none of the characters knowing what the other had been going through until the end of it all. It's a murder mystery (Who murdered Sam's husband?), riveted with suspense (Will Sam commit suicide? Will Joe die?), a love story, and contains many beautiful miracles.

In one scene, Joe tells Sam how he ended up in prison for doing something on a dare. He gets into an altercation which results in 40 days of solitary confinement. Sam later reveals to him her self-imposed solitary confinement during the previous three years of despair. I paused while remembering when I lived in the trailer park in Bakersfield and the day I found out it was filled with ex-convicts and drug addicts. In my innocence, I befriended Blondie (not her real name)... a woman who told me about the people who lived in the park and the 20 years in prison she did which included solitary confinement. She had given me the book We're All Doing Time to read, and I had realized I had been in prison, too, just one without bars.

Sam's husband's parents had given them their ranch when they moved to a warmer area. In the midst of her grief, she couldn't appreciate all that she had. I remember during years of depression, I could not appreciate what I had, either, compared to life in third world countries and slums. Sam gets involved with all the underprivileged children Joe had taken under his wing who nearly always were happy despite their circumstances, and suddenly she realizes she had been discounting the positive (one of many cognitive distortions I discovered I had).

Sam had been writing a children's book ever since she and Joe were in grade school, including drawing the illustrations. After her husband was murdered, she abandoned the dream. All her drawings lived in a room she couldn't bear to enter. I wondered if I had abandoned any particular dreams. Yes, one of many topics I've contemplated on, is what I may have dreamed as a child I would do when I grow up. Interweaved in this amazing book are the bits, pieces, and synchronicities of how Sam's inspiration comes back, including the discovery of finding all the drawings that child she saved had been doing...  just as she had done when she was a child.

Sam forgets about her grief by becoming actively involved with caring for the children. When she realizes how blessed she is with having the ranch, she invites them all out there for a weekend... realizing she had just found a purpose in life. I reminisced about how Nancy with Reaching Beyond Words had walked into my life in January 2018 with the desire to get children's stories she wrote published. I had asked God what I was to do next after becoming wheelchair dependent and letting go of two stressful volunteer jobs. Months later, Nancy had texted me if I knew any bookkeepers which led to my volunteering as theirs. Both organizations are doing similar things. Perhaps my future includes underprivileged children?

Sam is absolutely sure the man who lives in the projects next to the two children she had rescued that day in the alley was the man who murdered her husband. This scene is one of many that reveals a surprising conclusion toward the end. I reminisced at the number of times I had been sure of certain things in my life which turned out to be false conclusions (another cognitive distortion I had).

The book I had read just before this one was Ask Your Guides by Sonia Choquette. I feel certain Unconditional was meant to find me. I've been logging every synchronicity I notice in a journal... and the number has been mounting.

Earlier in the week, I dreamed a woman I had met in Toastmasters (moved away) came to visit with two small children. (There were two small children in Unconditional, too.) Sonia wrote that many times, guides will urge you to call someone who needs support. She remained on my mind the entire day, so that night, I called her. She surprised me with the question, "Why did you call?" Odd question, I thought. I told her about the book I read, the dream I had, and my urge to call. In case one of her guides urged me, I decided to follow through. It turned out she had been thinking about me as well as a book project she was still struggling with. I thought about Sam in Unconditional.

One of the many things I think about is this blog. I never know what I will write about next or when I will write it. I tell myself not to worry about it. When it is time, the divine will whisper the topic to me, and my fingers will write it. This is one of them.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Contraction and Expansion

These words came to me while I was in the midst of a recent bout of sadness which often happens when I feel fatigued along with spending too much time alone. True to the words, I realized I have almost always experienced creative inspiration (such as this one) after what I figured out feels like the labor of contraction (fatigue, grief, depression). The contractions were necessary when it came time to deliver my son 36 years ago... an unforgettable event in which I experienced unconditional love for the first time I could ever remember. It is an example of the contrast that exists in our lives here on Earth. If I can adopt the belief that every bout of sadness opens space for a divine message, I could meditate in the quiet and wait for the message... which I will write about and share.