Think Like a Dog

A few seasons ago, my husband removed the entire fence surrounding our garden so he could replace it. Since the gate was in good shape, for a short while it stood as a solitary reminder of the former enclosure. It struck me as a bit of visual humor to see a gate with no fence. As the photo indicates, our dog fully realized that he could access the other side without using the gate. He didn’t even need the big stick to get there. Maybe we would do well to think like a dog!

Looking back, I think of the times that we humans may get so stuck in our ways that we don’t consider an alternative way. Our habits run deep. In the midst of my career, the path I normally drove to work changed because one of the roads I took was permanently closed. Consequently, it took some time for my left hand to not automatically engage my turn signal at that stop sign. As the saying goes, old habits die hard.

The same thing could be true with mainstream thought or following the crowd. Perhaps something has always been done a certain way because Sally and Joe have done it that way. Maybe you are afraid to look different or odd by forging a different path or trying something new.

I call this the yellow brick road syndrome. The path is already marked out. No thinking is required. The directions are obviously there. The question becomes, is that really where you want to go?

Be like a dog!

Dogs seem to be led by their nose. Their tails leave no mystery as to their feelings.

Did you know there are over 300 words for love in canine? Gabriel Zevin

The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment. Robert Falcon Scott

We would do well to gravitate toward that which we love, to express that exuberance, to live in the moment!

Revisiting our gate, I’ve always gone through it rather than around. Passing through that gate had been the only way to access the area on the other side. Old habits can blind you to the possibility that suddenly there is another way to reach the goal.

In the bigger picture, this tells me that in any situation we must be aware. We should think for ourselves. The art teacher in me encourages us to be creative. Always there are new ways to be discovered of doing virtually anything. Life can be far more interesting rather than boring brown if we entertain changes like this. Finally, here are three of my posts which offer help to encourage more creativity for you: EMPOWERED LIVING, Creativity 101 with 528 Hertz and CREATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING.

As with our fence-less gate, don’t be stopped by what’s not there. Even our dog knew he could go around it!

Hidden Emotions

Believe it or not, this post is not only about a post, but also about emotions, hidden emotions! My photo shows the base of my very favorite tree. The appendage to the lower left of the trunk is actually an old wooden fence post. We live on my grandparents’ former property. As a little girl, I remember a couple of wooden posts were leaning against the trunk of the tree. Even then, the posts were beginning to be covered over by new tree growth.

Through the years, the tree grew, slowly enveloping the posts. A few years ago, the tip of the other post became rotten and broke off. It almost seems as if the remaining post (which was once a part of a live tree) has become welcomed, once again, as a live growth. Or, perhaps it could be felt as a destructive spear? As our tree seems perfectly healthy, my guess is that the post is a welcome visitor.

Help for Hidden Emotions

First of all, It can eventually cause many problems with our health if we try to bury our emotions within. Expressing our feelings and letting them out is a far healthier alternative. This resource discusses the differences between repressed emotions and suppressed emotions.

Secondly, it is important to learn the benefits of allowing our emotions to be released. It may help us be our authentic and true selves. It is much easier to relate well with others when we are being honest, not only with ourselves, but with others. This post elaborates on the concept.

Thirdly, one may wonder, am I emotionally repressed? How would I know? Here is a website which gives one signs to be able to determine if you are.

At last, we may want to know, where might these emotions reside within the body? This site also includes lists of commonly repressed emotions and how to change negative emotions into positive ones. Here is one of my posts to help with MASKED EMOTIONS.

Tree with the Hidden Post

Finally, this tree with the post hidden within its trunk could be much as a human with hidden emotions, buried within the body. If humans have negative emotions, these can literally eat at our insides. Many physical and mental ailments have repressed emotions at their root. May you learn how to say hello and, most importantly, good-bye to any hidden emotions. Last of all, replace them with welcome guests! Your body will be especially thankful!

Speaks with Sunshine

Do you know anyone who speaks with sunshine? I do! I’ve been to a couple of offices in the past few months whose receptionist’s voices sounded so warm that they could melt butter. These ladies had such a welcoming, expressive lilt, it was actually a joy to sit there (sans magazines) noting the music of their speech. Of course, I had to compliment them on their cheerful, expressive demeanor. The manner of their speech told everyone that it was a safe as well as an optimistic atmosphere. I told one of them that if she was Native American, her name would have to be Speaks with Sunshine!

Dr. Bernie Siegel – Optimism

Optimism is a great way to approach life. There was no time in my life where this played out in such an amazing fashion as with our son. When he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he chose to not have the doctors give him a prognosis. This attitude of optimism from our son was impressive. He wasn’t about to let a doctor give him an expiration date. Of course it was easy enough to look up statistics. However, we found information far better than statistics. Dr. Bernie Siegel’s refreshingly optimistic ideas via many of his books and recordings were a big part of our son’s journey. After all, not many pancreatic cancer patients live seven years from diagnosis. This little excerpt gives one a taste of Dr. Siegel’s philosophies.

Love what you do; Do what you love. Wayne Dyer

Here is an informative site which defines optimism as well as identifies the characteristics and attitudes of it. Most importantly it includes the benefits of optimism. One of the most critical learning points is that good things can even come from something we consider bad.

Live life as if everything is rigged in your favor. Rumi

Living with optimism implies a living of life to its fullest, being one’s best self, and yet, not taking the self too seriously. Laughter is uplifting as is gratitude. Being thankful can lead to optimism. This post on gratitude could help. Gratitude for Hard Times


Being in the actual sunlight is certainly uplifting, particularly if it has been cold and dreary. I’m thankful that as I am writing this, I see a clear blue sky. The sun gives me new found vigor and energy for the upcoming day. Here is a site on the benefits of sunshine. We can see that it is not just our imagination that we are solar powered!

Music another way to bring optimism into our lives. Stevie Wonder’s song, You Are the Sunshine of My Life is a great example!

May your glass be at least half full ….of sunshine and know that you have room for more blessings!

IDEAL LIFE: Three Steps

Is there such a thing as an ideal life? What would be some potential measures? One could be mind-body wellness. Another could be economic stability. Quality home and workplace environments may be another. Last but not least would be loving relationships with self, significant other, family and friends. You, of course, may change your list and/or add other measures.

Perhaps it is too easy to peer over our short wall of separation to see others who may appear to have the ideal life. They might seem to be beautiful fitness gurus who own a mansion and a yacht in lovely environments with many perfect relationships.

In our world of contrasts we have those who may have never had a chance at an ideal life. With compassion, we also see those who have never been blessed with a healthy mind and body or a job to put food on the table. They’ve had neither a home in which to lay their head , nor loving relationships to nurture them.

Most of us are probably somewhere in the middle on the ideal life scale. What can we do to inch our way closer to what we consider our own ideal life?

Sometimes with our biggest life challenge comes our grandest answer. My most difficult time in life was when our son was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Through recounting my journey, I found what worked for me. It could be summarized with the abbreviation ACL. A is for accept, C is for change and L stands for learn.

Accept for an Ideal Life

To accept some situations in our life is not always easy. Sometimes it can be an initial step in the process. Many times, however, acceptance may come as a last step. Each situation is unique.


Change involves doing whatever is in your power to improve the situation(s). It could be one big change or many small ones. This doesn’t mean pointing fingers at others. It actually involves you! What can you change? You are far more powerful than you may realize until you try! My post, Empty Chair Holidays, mentions some changes I made to cope with the holidays.


Learn is my favorite step! Perhaps it is the teacher in me! What can you learn to help you in this situation? How can you apply the knowledge? Finally, what did you learn from the process? (Just because I stated finally doesn’t mean we are ever done with learning!)

Through my learning journey I’ve taken with our son’s health and passing, I feel as if I earned at least a second bachelor’s degree. Here are a few tidbits.

  • Your biggest challenge in life is more than likely tied to what you came to learn as a human being.
  • Focus on the good rather than the bad; where the healing is rather than the pain.
  • The state of being grateful actually creates more delicious gratitude!
  • Helping yourself is great. If your life helps others, that’s even better!

I see the wisdom behind the atrocities we experience on earth. At first my spirit was inclined to groan. Now, I feel my spirit has grown through tragedy, but it does leave cracks. Thankfully the light shines through.

May you find the light!

Can You Change Your DNA?

What do you think? Can you change your DNA? Must we live with what we were given? Through having our son go through a nine year journey with pancreatic cancer, I’ve become fascinated with health. Let’s see what scientists have to tell us.

DNA Changes with Bruce H. Lipton, PhD.

Bruce H. Lipton, PhD. wrote The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter and Miracles. As a former medical school professor and research scientist, his opinions carry weight.

Initially, the medical field has had the opinion that DNA is fixed, without the capacity of improvement. It was thought that the process of aging and stress continually eroded the ends of the DNA which are called telemeres. Once they wore down to nothing, the strands of DNA had nothing to secure them. The end of the telemeres meant the end of life.

Along came quantum physics. Rather than the theory that everything is matter, as Newton proposed, now everything is thought to be energy or light. Here is Dr. Lipton’s webpage. Quantum physics revealed the DNA could be improved.

Michael Roizen, MD and Mehmet Oz, MD

Epigenetics is the study of how changes can affect the workings of our genes. Our environment and behaviors can actually reverse the telemere shrinkage and lengthen them. “Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes are reversible and do not change your DNA sequence, but they can change how your body reads a DNA sequence.” Diet, exercise and stress management are some of the ways to achieve this. This is Dr. Roizen’s site. Here is Dr. Oz’s website.

Science Daily & DNA Change

“Mind-body interventions (MBIs) such as meditation, yoga and Tai Chi don’t simply relax us; they can ‘reverse’ the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression, according to a study by the universities of Coventry and Radboud.”

Quantum Touch & The Reconnection

Quantum Touch is one of the modes of energy healing I’ve tried. It works with life force energy and the principles of resonance and entrainment. It raises a person’s energy to allow self healing. This is the website for more information.

The Reconnection is another kind of energy healing with which I’ve worked. This one creates measurably higher levels of bio-photonic light. If you are curious to find out more, here is their site.

Both Quantum Touch as well as The Reconnection are known to restructure DNA.

As a certified energy healer, I would say that all modes of energy healing can increase levels of bio-photonic light. In practicing qigong, which could be classified as both a mind-body intervention as well as energy healing, there is also a proliferation of bio-photonic light. The question of all of these modes would be, “Have these methods scientifically verified it?” Here is my story of transforming my fear of our son’s diagnosis. Learning energy healing played a huge part. Miracles and Other Antidotes

HeartMath, Emotions and DNA

Our emotions are very capable of making differences in our health. “Heartfelt positive feelings fortify our energy systems and nourish the body at the cellular level . At HeartMath we call these nutrients quantum nutrients.” For further information, check out

Speaking of emotions, when it comes to a prognosis for a patient, presentation is critical. A story I heard sometime in the past decade involved a son who was to tell his dad of the elder’s prognosis. He was expected to die very soon. The son chose not to inform his father and to just make the best of his remaining time. Some years later, the son happened to see the doctor who inquired of his father. He asked how he took the news. The son replied that he opted to not tell him, and by the way, he was living life to his fullest! The positive emotions his son must have provided for him brought him to a place of health!

In similar fashion, our son chose to not have a doctor give him his own prognosis. I’m certain it made a difference.

William Shatner

William Shatner, who played Captain Kirk in Star Trek, has not slowed his pace. Born in 1931, he is still fully engaged in life. He reports he does not plan on retiring until he dies! Numerous projects in the form of making movies and television shows, writing books and producing music as well as riding horses and bikes occupy his time. He advises people to get a life, be creative and find the joy! I have no doubt that his telemeres have quite a bit of life in them yet!

We are in times of new frontiers in medicine, or perhaps they are merely ancient ways rediscovered. While you can’t change your basic genetic code (DNA), you can make the best of what you have by lengthening your telemeres. The hope exists in eating healthy foods, exercising, getting plenty of sleep and making mind-body interventions. May you find your joy!

Grief and Visits from Beyond

What is the connection between grief and visits from beyond? Sometimes when we grieve, it may feel as if we’re crawling into a cocoon, a cave or even a dungeon. We can be so caught up in our sorrow that we may miss a visit from beyond. Here are three thought leaders who have helped me in moving from grief to visits from beyond. They are Carl Jung, Jamie Sams and Dorothy Maclean.

Carl Jung: Moving Beyond Grief

Carl Jung was a Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist. He stated “What you resist persists.” Here is an article on ten ways of overcoming this resistance.

With anything that one is resisting, that sense of resistance creates a constant vigilance and unease. It tends to block anything not related to whatever one dreads. According to Jung, that resistance actually draws that avoided thing toward you. Are you resisting grieving? If one is trying to avoid grieving, it can build up. In the long run, it is easier to just allow it to release and flow from your body.

When a person intensely grieves, one must certainly allow and accept the grief. This is a part of one’s healing. The tears must flow. Crying can eventually help to dissipate the sorrow.

Another thing a grieving person may resist could be that you may not feel you are receiving signs from your dearly departed one. As Dr. Jung suggests, if we are hyper focused on not receiving signs, that may, in essence, increase our likelihood of not receiving any signs. There seems to be a connection between grief and visits from beyond. What can we do?

Jamie Sams: Watch for Signs from Beyond

As a Native American, Jamie Sams shared many stories of her people. One such story came from her EARTH MEDICINE: Ancestors’ Ways of Harmony for Many Moons. She told of a white man who came to a tribal leader asking for help. The white man shared the wisdom from his culture that, “Many are called, but few are chosen.” This in turn, caused the tribal leader to collapse into uncontrollable laughter. Apparently the Native Americans say, “All are called and chosen, but few listen or find the courage to take action!”

From my experience, sometimes I may not be paying attention to signs from our son. We must be open and aware to any kind of experience in order to receive it. Focus on each of your senses during different moments of your day. It is also crucial to just relax and expect signs, even small ones.

There could be signs that may affect any of our five senses. I’ve not experienced the sense of taste as a sign, but I would guess it could be just as possible as the other four.

Sometimes we question whether a certain bird, butterfly or animal is really a sign. If the circumstance is very unusual, such as a butterfly walking all over you, it is more than likely a sign. However, even a fleeting glance could be a sign. I find it more of a blessing to accept it as a sign rather than question it. If it helps you to feel a connection to your loved one, then so be it!

Dorothy Maclean: Sorrow and Joy

Dorothy Maclean is one of the founders of the famously productive Findhorn Gardens in Scotland. Three of her titles I’ve enjoyed are Choices of Love, Call of the Trees, and Memoirs of an Ordinary Mystic. She taught that the Angel of Sorrow is the very same angel as the Angel of Joy!

I like to think of this paradox in relation to hot and cold. Imagine trying to teach the concepts of hot and cold. It is a given that hot and cold are in relation to one another. Ponder what is cold or hot to an ice cube. What would a flame consider hot or cold? Where is the dividing line between hot and cold? What is hot or cold is very dependent upon the individual.

The same concepts are true between joy and sorrow. Additionally, we must have known one extreme in order to know the other.

As a grieving parent, I could be anywhere on this spectrum between sorrow and joy. Generally with time, one can expect the sorrow to vary. It is a process much like a fluctuating thermometer during seasonal changes. Just as a thermometer goes through cycles of temperature changes, we can also experience fluctuations in our scale of sorrow versus joy. However, if your set point between sorrow and joy is not trending upward from your lowest point, it may be time to seek help. If you are experiencing excessive grief see GRIEF RELIEF or Tuning into Healing: Grief.

Joy of Visits from Beyond

As to joy, there is nothing better than receiving signs from our loved ones to remind us of their continuing presence. Everyone’s signs may be different. Mindful awareness as well as being open to the experiences are key. Truly, the signs could be anything that resonated with our loved one. Think of things they liked, perhaps they had a favorite animal. Maybe there are specific songs that may remind you of them.

Sometimes, even their words coming to our mind can be comforting. When we are fortunate, we may have dreams of them. I journal these to help hold them in my heart. All of these, various animals, items important to them, their words, dream visitations, etc. are what I would consider to be signs from our loved ones. Expect the signs, practice mindful awareness and look for the joy.

May you journey through your grief to visits from beyond. Mindfully stop to look, listen, feel, smell and taste as your life transforms. May your sorrow grow ever closer to the grandest joy from the Angel of Joy!


Pandemic Perspective

Salvador Dali’s artworks seem to have much to say in regards to life during a pandemic. Born in Spain on May 11, 1904, he is a well-known surrealist artist. While he did live during what was termed the Spanish Flu, otherwise known as the 1918 flu pandemic, he did not attribute any of these works to this topic. All of the following interpretations are my own. Living during a pandemic has caused me to find parallels within familiar works of art. What can we learn from Salvador Dali Perspectives?

Perspective from Dali

Automatic Beginning of a Portrait of Gala…Salvador painted this so called automatic portrait of his wife, Gala, in 1933. She was among his favorite subject matter! During a pandemic, many people may be inclined to allow their hair to revert to the wild. Perhaps it is just living closer to what they feel themselves to be. Gala’s tresses are some of the most natural. Sprouting twigs and leaves from her head is certainly pandemic perfect!

Persistence of Salvador Dali Perspectives

Persistence of Memory… This particular Dali masterpiece is highly recognized by many. It was created in 1931. The wonder of his melting clocks clearly depicts the concept of time, especially during a pandemic. Many entirely lose a sense of time. It may seem to endlessly drag or for some, race ahead. For others, it may feel as if time has stopped or perhaps has become non-existent.

Salvador Dali’s Elephants

The Elephants… Salvador featured elephants in several works. This particular piece was painted in 1948. I chose this one simply because of the phrase, ‘the elephant in the room‘. When we speak of the elephant in the room, it means there are topics of conversation which are quite obvious, but no one wants to begin those conversations. In this Dali painting, I feel it symbolizes that our world is beginning to recognize the elephants in the room. The obelisks floating over the elephants’ backs represent the current weighty discussions which must ensue. Their spindly legs indicate that it still feels as if we are walking on pins and needles in addressing certain issues. However, it is comforting that the conversations are starting. Salvador Dali perspectives certainly make me think!

Dali Metamorphosis

Metamorphosis of Narcissus is an amazing double image, created in 1937. Dali represented Narcissus as a person sitting in a reflecting pool alongside a large hand which mimics the size and position of the person. Following Narcissus’ death, the hand has become the metamorphosed character. To me, these mirrored poses represent introspective behavior induced by the pandemic. The downward gaze seems evidence of this. Many in this pandemic era have been drawn to delve deeply within themselves to evaluate and contemplate their life journey. Interestingly, the hand is holding an egg which doubles as the head atop the hand. The egg cracks open, allowing the growth of a narcissus flower. The pandemic certainly has been a dark night of the soul for many. According to this Dali painting, a crisis can also create the blossoming of a blessing in its place.

Dali Reflective Perspective

Swans Reflecting Elephants is another remarkable tour de force of Dali. It was conceived in 1937. Who would have thought a reflected swan could be an elephant? Well, Salvador Dali, of course! This is evidence that sometimes, things are not as they seem. At times, we may not fully understand something until we reflect upon it. For example, with the pandemic, we are more likely to comprehend it more fully well into the future. With the passage of time, we will know the true impact, the larger implications and reflections, much as the large image of the elephants appear in this work. Then, we will understand when someone says, “It is definitely a swan, but yet another disagrees and states no, it is truly an elephant.” I have not yet come across such a profoundly accurate way to explain such seeming discrepancies in truth. In learning to think like an artist, we can, in fact, train ourselves to see the big picture. We can visualize the individual truths within this panorama of awareness.

I greatly appreciate the inherent wisdom hidden within the works of Salvador Dali. These masterpieces stand ready for the viewer to mine for the learnings within. Many times Dali exclaimed, “The fact that I myself do not understand my own pictures, does not mean that these pictures have no meaning; on the contrary, their meaning is so profound, complex, coherent, and involuntary that it escapes the most simple analysis of logical intuition.” It certainly is so. I invite you to investigate the arts to discover the personal meanings for you!

Am I Open to Life?

Just as these flower petals are spreading open, is it possible for my arms to fully open to life, to our environment? In contemplating Arbor Day as well as Earth Day this month, this is my question.

It seems no accident to me that these two days are so near one another on the calendar. Each of them celebrate environmental causes in the effort to make earth a better place for all of us.

Arbor Day

I was surprised to learn that the first Arbor Day was so long ago (1872) in Nebraska. It was estimated that over one million trees were planted that day! Now, it is a national holiday encouraging tree planting and litter collecting. Participating in these activities is as opening our arms to care for our environment.

It was good to know many other countries have similar holidays. Spain’s Festival of Trees was first started in 1896. Greenery Day is Japan’s version of Arbor Day. It began in 1989. North Macedonia started Tree Day – Plant Your Future in 2008, largely because of wildfire destruction of many of their forests. These are just a few.

Earth Day

During the era I attribute to the hippy generation, Earth Day first started. This 1970 effort drew attention to environmental issues and pollution. It is now a holiday in 192 countries. Some of the activities promoted during Earth Day are recycling, utilizing reusable stainless steel water bottles, planting gardens, stopping single use plastics, eating less meat, etc. Once again, this is open handed generosity to better our living environment.

Many Earth Day activities remind me of a slogan that was popular during the 1940’s. It was Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without. I recall my dad mentioning this saying. This represented the U.S. wartime effort to encourage conserving valuable commodities for the military during WWII. Somehow, this slogan reminds me of a certain young lady who has created a worldwide name for herself. She epitomizes this saying with her life.

Greta Thunberg is open to life!

Swedish born Greta Thunberg is this young powerhouse spokesperson. When I consider how she has successfully overcome such tremendous personal challenges, I find her all the more amazing! She has, in fact, called her differences (from Asperger’s syndrome) her superpower! It does, after all, enable her to hyper focus on what is most important. Her extreme expertise on climate change staggers the imagination. Thanks to interviews of numerous experts, she fully understands the impact of CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) in regards to energy production, farming practices, clothing industry, modes of travel, forestry, human and wildlife populations, etc. Her modest message is not that people listen to her, but to science. She stresses the urgency of our action.

That comes down to me. What can I do? How could I do better in embracing our earth?

In Sweden, many of their foods are labeled with carbon footprint labels to inform the consumer how much harm to the environment occurred during the product’s production and transportation.

What can I do without this labeling? USA food labels list where the food was produced. We do get a good amount of our food locally, i.e. CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) as well as a bit of home grown produce. There are, of course, many items which are not. Some of our food is much more well-traveled than me. I could be more careful in label reading.

I know there are people who do not use single use plastic. Just going to the grocery, there are quite a number of products which have plastic jars, bottles or wrap.

It rather puts me in the mind of the movie, The Graduate. The character, McGuire, advises Ben, “there’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”

Believe me, I have thought about plastics. I do try, but just a search of our home lets me know I have a few dried out markers (plastic), nearly empty art point tubes (plastic), and the afore mentioned food products encased in plastic, many of which are not recyclable. I must be more aware before I purchase products.

While Greta was touring the US, she felt the call to go to a conference across the world. Rather than flying, which makes a much larger carbon footprint, she traveled by boat. This took far longer and made her extremely seasick. However, she upheld her principles. I cannot say I’ve never flown. My car is not electric. However, I guess I can say, I do put very few miles on my vehicle.

When it comes to clothing, Greta does not like people to gift her new clothing. She points out that many of her garments have well-worn holes. I honestly can’t say that sounds like me. However, I guess I have repaired a number of items so that I extended the life expectancy. I know I can do better.

Greta interviewed forestry scientists. I was amazed to hear climate change statistics of one to two degree increases beginning to decimate forests and to melt ice formations. This in turn is starting the demise of populations of wildlife as well as people. More trees need to be planted. Carbon footprints must be more tightly curtailed.

It is about me, but also you!

I have helped plant a number of trees in my life, but not many recently. So, now, what I can do is to go for a walk in our lovely evergreen windbreak. My husband, our children and I planted it twenty-nine years ago. It is wonderful to appreciate trees as a perch for the melodious birds, a shelter for the silent deer, and a home for creatures great and small. I can sit at the base of my favorite maple tree and contemplate how I can better open my arms wide to support life on this planet. Then, I can turn around and hug my tree. I will take a deep inhale of fresh tree produced oxygen and say thank-you. Most of all, I am ever grateful for the marvelous, life-sustaining nature of this planet. May all of us open our arms to life!

Inspiration in Creating Music

Indeed, musicians find inspiration in creating music. This post shares a few ways. Let’s listen to discover some influences.

Sometimes musicians are inspired by something small or large. Either natural or man-made objects may influence. Our emotions are wonderful incentives for composing music. At times, the sublime and magnificent moves musicians to write.

Inspiration: Rimsky-Korsakov

Let’s start with the small. Listen to Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s Tale of Tsar Saltan from 1899-1900. A character is turned into a bumblebee. This enables him to find his father. The musical section represents the flying of this insect. Here is the famous, Flight of the Bumblebee. Doesn’t this help you visualize the bee’s dramatic whirlwind of a flight? It is certainly circling near and far, up, down, left and right!

Inspiration in Creating Music: Dvorak

Secondly, we move to a larger influence. Antonin Dvorak had come to the “New World” in New York City. He moved from his native Czechoslovakia. Symphony No. 9 in E Minor “reflected his impressions and greetings from the New World” in 1893. Because he missed his homeland, loneliness is musically evident. Dvorak originally titled this symphonic section, Largo. Later, William Arms Fisher added lyrics. The newer version is renamed Going Home. Does it make your heart swell with longing to hear these sweet voices? Just listen to the music which fills this majestic space!

Inspiration: Vivaldi

Sometimes inspiration in creating music finds composers motivated by other art. Marco Ricci’s landscape paintings inspired Antonio Vivaldi. Check out some of Ricci’s paintings here: Because of this visual art, The Four Seasons was composed in 1720 – 1723. Here is the season entitled Spring. Can you hear a lighthearted, springtime frolic? Is it within a sun drenched, tree lined flower garden?

Inspiration: Ran

Another musician, Shulamit Ran, is similarly influenced by other art. Her 2014 composition, Logan Promenades, is inspired by architecture. She translates the building’s artistic elements into beautiful musical form. Are you able to visualize the golden trumpets’ description? Do you hear the glorious strength and height of this structure? Can you imagine the echo of the trumpets representing the echo of nature reflected in the windows?

Inspiration: Handel

Additionally, George Frideric Handel’s 1741 Hallelujah Chorus always mesmerizes me. It is from the Messiah. In recounting his composing experience, he writes, “Whether I was in my body or out of my body as I wrote it I know not. God knows…I did think I did see all heaven before me and the great God Himself.” Is six hundred voices enough to feel the grandeur of Handel’s transformative experience?

Inspiration: Matheson on Music

Finally, here is a favorite musical detail. It is from Richard Matheson’s What Dreams May Come. This is the book, not the movie. The novel surprisingly contains a five and a half page bibliography. Its characters and relationships are certainly fictitious. However, all other details are research based. This particular part chiefly describes music in the afterlife. The music possesses not only sound, but also a simultaneous, ethereal display. It exudes energy, color and light! The music constructs a magnificent architectural structure!

I purposely chose these composers. Initially, the classical music example in Matheson’s book starts out small. Perhaps it is as tiny as Mr. Rimsky-Korsakov’s bumblebee. As it grows, it exhibits as much color as Mr. Vivaldi’s Spring. With time, the size increases in height. It is probably not as large as Mr. Dvorak’s “New World”. Next, this music is structured as an architectural wonder. Architecture inspires Ms. Ran. Finally, this multi-media experience is in the realm of the sublime as is Mr. Handel’s music. What an amazing production this must be! For now, our imagination must suffice!


True stories of searching for the lost: my keys, my diamond ring and my dearly departed son

We’ve all lost something at one time or another. Here are three vignettes of my searching for the lost.

My Keys – Searching for the Lost

Roughly three decades ago, I locked our door and left to drive to work. As my starting time was later, everyone else had already left for school or work. Sitting in the car, I reached for my purse stored keys. Probing more deeply, I scraped the bottom of each section and pocket. I came up empty handed. No house or car keys were to be found. Was it time to be searching for the lost?

What could I do? Unfortunately, we had not yet thought of a secret place for emergency keys. This was before cell phones. Our nearest neighbor lived a quarter mile down a gravel road. If I walked there, I didn’t know if they’d even be home. I rushed up to our house and tried all the doors to no avail. The only solution that came to me was to break into our own home!

Our “so called” front door was rarely used and had an old multi-paned wooden door. To this day, I do not remember what I used, but I found an object to break one of the small glass panes. Do you know how hard it is to purposely break glass? After multiple tries, I shattered the pane nearest to the inside door knob. Luckily, I could reach the slide locking mechanism on the outer door, turn the knob for the fortunately unlocked inner door and welcome myself into our home! I quickly found some extra keys and made it to work on time.

Arriving home at the end of the day, I tried to fathom where I could have left my keys. The night before I had gotten groceries. That was when I last remembered using them. Long story short, I found them in the freezer! You see, my hands were quite full when I unlocked the door, so I simply dropped my keys into one of the grocery bags. This particular bag only had frozen items, so the entire bag was placed in the freezer! Retracing my steps was what finally reconnected me to my passage to travel and shelter.

My Diamond Ring – Searching for the Lost

My second story of loss involves my diamond wedding ring. Some years after the key incident, I was getting ready for work. For some reason, my wedding ring was not with my other rings. Even though I was fully clothed, I felt naked not wearing that ring. I searched a bit and found nothing, so had to delay further exploration until later. Numerous times during the day, I felt my ring-less finger, pondering where in the world it could be. Could searching for the lost find my ring?

There is probably no one who could guess where I found my ring. Following another careful retracing of my steps, I found the symbol of the love of my life in the refrigerator! You see, the night before I had been preparing my lunch for work. One of the foods was baby carrots. I had taken off my rings to wash before packing my veggies. For some bizarre reason, my wedding ring slid onto the end of the storage bag’s wire twist tie just prior to placing it into the crisper drawer.

The temperature of my strange, inadvertent hiding places reminded me of a guessing game we would play when we were children. If someone was guessing a hiding place of something – a close guess would receive the response of ‘you are hot or warm’. If it was entirely off base, you were cold. At least my newest hiding niche, while still cool, was not frozen solid! It did strike me as slightly humorous that a wedding ring whose diamonds are measured in carats was commingling with the carrots.

Our Son – Searching for the Lost

Now to my third story, the loss of our dearly departed son. Of course, as important as my keys and ring were to find, nothing at all can compare to the loss of a loved one, particularly one’s own child. Losing a child is like a large chunk of one’s own potential breaking off, just as a massive peninsula suddenly (or gradually) eroding into the ocean. It was also as if my kite, which had been battered by the wind of our son’s horrendous illness, had all at once crashed into the ground. Losing a child is losing a link to the future. So many bereavement cards and messages spoke of loss. How could I cope with this loss? Could I retrace my steps through this as well?

In reviewing a very few themes of our son’s life, he was infatuated with mourning doves. Perhaps he considered their coo as soothing. Maybe he liked them because some of them nested around their home. I’ve wondered if he was attracted to mourning doves because they like to spend time with their mate.

Also, he absolutely loved music. One song that stands out to me is Pharrell Williams’ song, “Happy”. Even when our son wasn’t feeling the best, he would be sitting in his living room recliner and finding stereo tunes to play for others. He thrilled in playing “Happy” as his little daughter delighted in dancing to it. I felt joyous when I joined in, too.


After our son had passed the signs started coming. Could these signs help me in searching for the lost? One such time, I had just settled in our front room to contemplate the main topics list for my memoir. As soon as I began reviewing it, a mourning dove landed on a nearby ledge and cooed for a solid six minutes! I took that as confirmation of his approval. When his sister, his dad and I were on a vacation, a store we’d just entered began playing “Happy”. We felt he was with us, making our original foursome again! In regards to signs, awareness and timing are crucial elements.

Sometimes with my former students, I would have a saddened child approach me and reveal that they missed their mommy, daddy or a grandparent. Once in a while, it was simple separation anxiety and the other person would be at home or work while the child was at school. Other times it was because they’d passed. In either case, I would always point to their heart and tell them they were inside, because they loved them so. That generally seemed to satisfy their need.

This third story of loss after finding my keys in the freezer and my ring in the frig led me to listening to my own advice I gave my students. Our loved ones are truly never lost, they always reside in our hearts, the warmest place of all to find and treasure what you may have assumed was lost.

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