Join the Speaking Circle

I often fancy myself as a healthy communicator of my feelings. I can hug people tightly. I can say, I love you, with no trouble. I’ve always been able to stand up for myself when even a tad pushed around. By now, I figure I know who I am and what I want, and I am authentically me on all levels. I write for goodness sakes – that alone means I can communicate, right?

Well, recently I found out the answer is more like, Maybe.

I met with a man named Eric Atwood to discuss his upcoming workshop on June 29 at P&D. And no matter how well I think I am at being my true Self, I learned that there is a lot I could learn from Eric.

Eric AtwoodHe uses a specific technique called the Speaking Circle®, where a group comes together for the purpose of learning to be more authentic. It’s a method to learn about who we are and to be able to share that person in every day life.

I asked Eric what someone taking this workshop would leave with and he mentioned the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing; a book I have read. It’s about a hospice nurse who travels and spends time living with people on their death beds, who then tell her about what they wish they had done, but it was too late. Eric asked me, Do you remember the regrets of those patients in the book?

I answered, “The lady living for others, how she wished she would have had the courage to pursue her own likes and dislikes, rather than going with the flow with what others wanted her to be.”

Eric knew all of the regrets of the dying. Courage was a big theme of this book and a theme in Eric’s workshop. Eric says, his workshop is geared to allow people to be courageous in their life; to be more natural with other people and to have an authentic voice when expressing it.

Eric and I did a couple of exercises during our time together. I left, even from the short time together, feeling like I knew more about myself.

There are three guidelines for the workshop:

(1)     For the listeners – be available. Give the speaker positive regard.

(2)     For the speakers – be in “relational presence,” a term referring to eye contact.

(3)     Privacy and Confidentiality – nothing shared outside the Circle may leave the Circle. Everyone is safe.

It’s on June 29, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm.

To sign up, Pre-registration required, as space is limited. To register, contact Eric Atwood at 770.365.7447 or email Eric@TheSpeakersStudio.com.

For more information, you can go to the P&D calendar.

Speaking from the Heart

I often fancy myself as a healthy communicator of my feelings. I can hug people tightly. I can say, I love you, with no trouble. I’ve always been able to stand up for myself when even a tad pushed around. By now, I figure I know who I am and what I want, and I am authentically me on all levels. I write for goodness sakes – that alone means I can communicate, right?

Well, recently I found out the answer is more like, Maybe.

I met with a man named Eric Atwood on Friday to discuss his upcoming workshop on June 29 at P&D. And no matter how well I think I am at being my true Self, I learned that there is a lot I could learn from Eric.

Eric AtwoodHe uses a specific technique called the Speaking Circle®, where a group comes together for the purpose of learning to be more authentic. It’s a method to learn about who we are and to be able to share that person in every day life.

I didn’t know what to expect when I met Eric. When I made the appointment with him, I told him I would like to experience a couple of the exercises he does in the workshop so I could write about it.

The main exercises he and I did were me learning the difference in what I am feeling and what I am thinking and how I convey that to the world. I also learned that when someone directly asks me what I feel, I get uncomfortable with a capital U. I was excited to learn that fact about myself. I thought I went around telling people all the time what I feel, but after my short time with Eric, I now know that I really talk from my head more than I realize.

The workshop is all day long, but he and I met for only a bit more than an hour, so the exercises I talk about here are not the complete practice, but I want to share my experience.

First we talked about me. He asked me a simple question, “Who is Jennifer?”  Easy enough, I gave a little synopsis of me.

Now, Eric asks me, what is my passion? What is something that excites me? I say, Words. I think words are beautiful and when they are strung together to create art, there is nothing in life more exciting. I can’t wait to be an author with multiple books that have my name on them.

I was so full of feeling with the second one that I, literally, had tears in my eyes. I was feeling something and I knew that Eric felt that too. This was a simple exercise to demonstrate the difference in telling someone something from the head versus the heart.

Talking about my emotions is good, but if someone is going to attend a workshop to be a better speaker, there better be some good listeners in the house!

This is another portion of the Speaking Circle® workshop – learning to listen. Eric used a nice reference to listening, “Available eyes.”

There are three guidelines for the course:

(1)     For the listeners – be available. Give the speaker positive regard.

(2)     For the speakers – be in “relational presence,” a term referring to eye contact.

(3)     Privacy and Confidentiality – nothing shared outside the Circle may leave the Circle. Everyone is safe.

I asked Eric what someone taking this workshop would leave with and he mentioned the book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing; a book I have read. It’s about a hospice nurse who travels and spends time living with people on their death beds, who then tell her about what they wish they had done, but it was too late. Eric asked me, Do you remember the regrets of those patients in the book?

I answered, “The lady living for others, how she wished she would have had the courage to pursue her own likes and dislikes, rather than going with the flow with what others wanted her to be.” There was another patient who said he wished he had the courage to express his feelings.

Courage was a big theme of this book and a theme in Eric’s workshop. Eric says, his workshop is geared to allow people to be courageous in their life; to be more natural with other people and to have an authentic voice when expressing it.

Before Eric and I parted ways, he had one more exercise for me. It was to stare into one another’s eyes for 30 seconds without looking away. I had never met Eric before this day, but here I was staring into his eyes for 30 seconds. Should be easy, right? Not that easy for me though.

No kidding, I really have a quite a way to go. If the stars line up and I can escape my kids and hubby for a day, I hope to meet you in Eric Atwood’s workshop, Authentic Voice: Communication That Creates Connection. I believe it will be time well spent. It’s on June 29, 9:30 am – 5:30 pm.

To sign up, Pre-registration required, as space is limited. To register, contact Eric Atwood at 770.365.7447 or email Eric@TheSpeakersStudio.com.

 

Cost is $175, or early sign up $150.

For more information, you ca go to the P&D calendar.

Celebrate the Goddess in Us All

It’s a happy day for me! Candace has picked up where one of my favorite meditations and a talented meditation guide left off last December. The meditation is a Women’s Goddess Meditation and the guide is an intuitive, special person named Kisha.

Women – all women reading this – please consider coming to this wonderful bonding, healing, quiet, reflective, and happy time of the week, Mondays, 7:00 p.m. at Phoenix and Dragon. You will not be disappointed. I’ve already told hubby, get ready for me to be gone for an hour on Mondays.

At one time, I went regularly to this guided women’s meditation at a nearby spiritual center.  Then they canceled it. I think the time was the issue, 5:30 on a Monday. I was so sad that they cancelled it that I showed up for two weeks afterwards thinking there had to be a mistake. On the third week, the spiritual center’s director called me to make sure I wasn’t coming because she wasn’t going to be there this time.

For a beginning meditator, this meditation is perfect because it’s broken into three parts; even though it lasts an hour, there are breaks in the quiet time. For those who think they can’t sit there for an hour, this meditation is very doable. For the seasoned meditator, it’s also a perfect mixture of guided and quiet meditation, and the energy healing is what I like to call a cosmic massage.

The Goddess meditation is led by more than the human guide. The topic is chosen using Doreen Virtue, Goddess Guidance Oracle Cards. One card is chosen in the beginning and one at the end as a closing message. In between, the meditation guide, Kisha, performs an energy healing on each guest individually.

doreen goddess cards

After the energy healing, we are invited to pick a card (or three or four), for an individual message.

One card I drew frequently (when I attended at the intuitive center) was Diana, which is the goddess of “Focused Attention.” The quote on the card is: “Keep your unwavering thoughts, feelings, and actions focused on your target, and you will hit your mark.”

I would then look in the book that comes with the card deck to get a longer, more in-depth meaning to the card and advice on how I could go about doing something to help my life.

Sometimes I asked a direct question before I drew the card. Once I drew the card on “Focused Attention.” I asked, “Focus on what though? I have so many interests!” And the card I drew next was, Pele, “Divine Passion,” “Be honest with yourself: What is your heart’s true desire?”

That kind of stuff happens all the time at this meditation. So many evenings I leave this meditation feeling divinely guided and inspired to take action towards a better me.

I hope to meet you on Mondays at 7, at P&D very soon.

Here’s the description from P&D’s calendar.

Explore the nurturing, creative essence of the Divine Feminine through both silent and guided meditations. Receive energy healing in each class to balance and harmonize your feminine energy within. Beginners welcomed—drop in accepted! Wear comfortable clothing and bring a pillow or blanket to sit on.

SMART Goals

Anna Stevens

Anna Stevens has been through a lot in life. The very fact that she is writing this book, Turn Your Dreams And Wants Into Achievable SMART Goals, to help others attain their dreams in life, seems like a miracle once you have read her personal story.

She wasn’t just a victim of domestic abuse by a spouse, she was abandoned by her dad and grew up with a mother who had Anna out of wedlock, which caused Anna’s grandmother to shun Anna’s mother. Not only that, if her mother was going to have a baby out of wedlock, she wanted a boy, not a girl. But Anna was a girl, and her mother’s solution was to dress her up as a boy and call her Anton instead of Anna.

I have to admit, Stevens’s story intrigued me from the first pages. How does a woman who has suffered so much adversity in Russia come to America only to be abused by her husband. How does a woman who speaks almost no English get delivered by a policeman to a domestic-abuse shelter then three and a half years later end up with her own consulting and coaching business, write a self-help book and receive her MBA from Georgia State’s Business School?

According to her book, Anna attained everything by using the method she describes in the book. She says, “SMART goals” was first coined in the November 1981 issue of Management Review by George T. Doran. What “SMART” stands for is: Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic and Time-bound.

I was given a copy of this book from Phoenix and Dragon to write this review. Stevens doesn’t just jump into her method of SMART. First, the reader is taken through a process of self discovery. Stevens also insists on a level of self awakening, in that one should have gratitude, the ability to be thankful for what already is, and be able to feel worthy of success.

Throughout the book are stories of people that have overcome great odds to be in a space of happiness in whatever life (or body) they have been given. And she gives personal stories from her own life – her struggles and how she was able to come out on the other side of the challenge a happy person, rather than bitter.

The plan itself is a worthy one. Something that really caught my eye was how she explains each part of the plan. For instance,

The “S” in SMART stands for “Specific.” Specific means answering the questions, What? Why? And How?

“The what is your head – it identifies WHAT it is that you need to accomplish.

The why is your soul – it specifies WHY you should accomplish it. It gives meaning to your goal, it outlines the purpose and the benefit of achieving the goal.

The how is your hands – it focuses on the tools and strategies needed for achieving your goal.”

She goes on to explain all of the letters in SMART in this way. And applies them to different time tables. She also has chapters discussing the benefits of this program to specific people – entrepreneurs, managers and parents.

She includes worksheet layouts for working on the different timetables and what is expected in each.

Overall, I like this book. I have heard of some of the methods of self discovery she used, but I like that she didn’t just use one, she gave many examples. And the SMART program asks us to be specific about our dreams and how we plan to attain them. I like that too. She gives suggestions about negative self talk and how to overcome it. Everything she suggests we do, she has some exercises to back it up. She doesn’t just say, “do this,” she actually tells how to do it.

In getting this book, be prepared to purchase a journal along with it. In fact, that might be my suggestion for Stevens’s next book – The SMART Goals Workbook. Anyone that goes through this book honestly could end up with a nice journal of self discovery, goals in life and exactly how they can be attained.

I would recommend the book to anyone needing direction, or someone that just wants to find out more about how they really think or what they believe. It’s worthy, but it does require effort on the reader’s part to get something from it. Without completing the exercises, it’s just Stevens’s story and how she is one driven, self secure, amazing person.

Our Children, Our Children – A celebration of Life

Many people who are in the metaphysical community are familiar with Aquarius Magazine. In fact, there is a stand that holds a large stack every month at the front door of P&D.

A straight-talking, big hearted woman named Gloria is the publisher of Aquarius. She started the magazine 20 years ago and is still going at it today. She’s familiar with all kinds of gurus, healing techniques, psychic gifts, mediums, channels and anything else that comes to our earthly plane of existence from the other dimensions. She has also owned a metaphysical bookstore in the past.

In a nutshell, Gloria would be considered an authority on all things metaphysical.

But, even a person so deep in the trenches of a spiritual life cannot be prepared for what took place in her life. Gloria’s beloved daughter, Jodi, committed suicide at age 36.

Gloria and Jodi grew up together; it was just the two of them all of Jodi’s life. To say there were close is an understatement. And because I had the honor of having dinner with Gloria one evening, which stretched into about a five hour get-together, I can tell you something about her pain.

Its energy is thick. Her daughter’s presence is palpable. She’s there, by her mother’s side. But even if Gloria feels Jodi beside her, there’s just no turning back that she is not on the earth plane anymore.

What I loved most about Gloria is that she didn’t try to hide it. She talked openly about Jodi; who she was, what she did in her life, and even Jodi’s dog, which Gloria now has.  She talked about what keeps her going since Jodi took her life. She shared with me the wonderful parts of her daughter and about Jodi’s struggles which ultimately contributed to Jodi’s final choice (as Gloria calls it).

It was hard to sit with someone who had lost a child, not even a year ago, and see that kind of pain. Especially when I have children of my own, ages five and seven. I couldn’t help but think about how I would feel if it were me in Gloria’s shoes. But it’s not me. And I don’t really know how she feels.

Gloria is a member of two organized groups, Compassionate Friends (a group of people that have lost children from illness, accidents and suicide), and SOS (Survivors of Suicide). She says these two groups have helped her because these are people who understand “the hole in your heart.”

In her publisher’s letter in the April Aquarius, Gloria says, “We were like you once. We too were the people that would move from one side of the street to the other, or hide behind a booth in a restaurant; do anything but face the person you know has lost a child… It’s just too close for most of us. Our empathy is so strong when it comes to this particular loss… Believe me, we understand, it’s hard on every level.”

I may not know how it feels to lose a child, but I know from being with Gloria, even for a short time, that it’s not a “hole in the heart” that heals completely, ever. So, when I read in the latest issue of Aquarius that Gloria is holding an event on Sunday, April 21, at Naylor Hall, from 11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., I know her whole heart, her soul, is in it.

Aquarius Magazine Cover April 2013

Aquarius Magazine Cover April 2013

The event is called Our Children, Our Children and is a 1st Annual Memorial Celebration in Jodi’s honor. But it isn’t all about Jodi. It’s about celebrating the lives of all loved ones that have gone to the other side.

Her April’s publisher’s letter says, “I want to honor my beautiful Jodi, and her life…”  She continues, “Jodi would be surprised and possibly disappointed if I didn’t open this event to all parents, and everyone that has lost a loved one, not only a child. She loved that we were so inclusive, where everyone was always welcomed and we had many happy times and I cherish those memories today. I hope you can come… All we need is you. Words are not necessary; all we want is a hug, a smile and your positive vibes.”

Phoenix and Dragon will have a presence at Our Children, Our Children. Don Simmons will hold a meditation and Susan Rushing, a medium from P&D, will be there. Susan has written a book on suicide from a medium’s perspective that I wrote a review for a few months ago. I have included the review below. It originally ran in Aquarius.

For more information on this event, go to: www.aquarius-atlanta.com/ourchildren.html

Book review:

 

Suicide from a Medium’s Perspective

A book for understanding and healing

No matter how, why, or when a person leaves the earth for the other side, those left behind are affected. We humans are a needy breed. But when someone we love takes his own life, we are so often left with such a deep hole, and with the enormous question in such a little word: Why?

Why now, Why today, Why this second in time? Why, oh why?

Someone may question what happens to a person when they commit suicide? Are they really damned as the many dogmas would have us believe?

Susan Rushing’s book, Suicide From the Other Side, A medium’s journey towards creating a new paradigm for understanding, healing and love, attempts to answer these questions and more.

Susan's Book cover

Rushing’s book is well-written and flows easily. I love to read philosophical material and I don’t mind having to get through some muck to glean a few pearls of wisdom from someone’s writing. But this book has no muck and plenty of pearls.

Rushing has a wit about her that interjects some southern charm into her subject. For example, we’ve all heard about the guiding whisper from the Universe. When we won’t listen to the whisper the universe might knock. And according to Rushing, if you don’t hear the knock, the Universe “is going to pop you with a cosmic wet towel, right in the locker room of life.”

Those who have gone through a suicide will, hopefully, gain insight as to how a loved one could actually do this to themselves and to the people they love. From Rushing’s perspective, the soul departs “sickened” by life. She compares the suicidal mind to physical illness that can bring a body to death.

Once on the other side, Rushing tells us about large, sentry-type angels who meet suicide souls on the other side. The angels bring the souls a space for energy healing. Here the soul is allowed to learn what was so out of whack that they could not see recovery as possible. The angels then, with unconditional love and support, help the soul heal. Rushing leads us on a journey to understand the angels’ roles and how a spirit can be restored, even after the saddest of earthly experiences.

Not only does Rushing have experience in readings with suicide-souls and their loved ones, she also went through a tragic suicide in her own life – the suicide of the father of her handicapped daughter. Her perspective is from both one left behind after someone close commits suicide and that of one who can communicate with souls after they have gone to the other side, to heal.

I, personally, have not had a close encounter with suicide. I’m fortunate in that, for sure, but I still felt comforted by the book. I can’t imagine that we don’t all die without some weakened energy in our bodies. Knowing that these large, beautiful, energetically gifted angels are in the next dimension is a relief; for myself, but it also allowed me to picture my loved ones who have crossed over in safety and happiness.

Rushing also has a section of stories, or readings, she’s done with clients. She gives the back story from the client she is reading and is also able to give the story from the soul’s perspective.

If I had one complaint about the book it would be that I would have liked to have read more of the stories. They are insightful and enjoyable. The souls are interesting characters who come to life for the reader. I felt a connection with them, the sadness their loved ones feel at losing them, and I was also able to rejoice that the soul did not lose its grace from its physical body. I left each story feeling happy for the gift of connection for both the soul and the person still here on earth.

It’s not all happiness and roses, mind you. It’s a book about suicide and nothing is funny or happy about that, but I would recommend anyone that has dealt with a suicide read this book. Rushing’s work is good, it’s well-written, it’s original in thought and information, and it’s real-life.

I give her book an A++.

A New Personality at P&D

Most everyone that has been to Phoenix & Dragon over the last 16 years was familiar with the kitties, Sage and Amber. There have been others, but these two were had a very long standing run of the store.

In October 2012, Sage went to kitty heaven and in February, Amber joined her brother. There was such an outpouring of love on the P&D Facebook page, it made everyone at the store know how those cats affected the store’s setting.

So far, the P&D has always enjoyed the company of felines. Until now.

Recently, the very day Candace was going to look for two little kitty littermates to join the P&D family, a very sweet dog – a ridgeback Doberman, showed up in the parking lot of the store.

Greta and Mark

They took her to the vet to check for a chip, and although she is chipped, the chip isn’t registered.

Mark Revard, a Reiki, medium, channel and a crystal expert at P&D, took the dog home and brought her back the next day.

Candace put signs out in front of the store announcing “Lost Dog.” No one came, and now she has found her “furever” home with Mark. At night he takes her home and every day, brings her back to P&D. Her name is Greta; a lovely soul with a new home – day and night.

Candace is still planning store kitties in the future. “Greta is more of a visitor than a resident,” she says. “She’s an office dog, who stays in the office next to Mark, unless she wants my affection.”

Candace said Greta has figured out how to get her attention. When she is typing on the computer, Greta’s long, Doberman nose fits perfectly in the small space where Candace’s elbow meets her chair, while her hands are up typing. Greta doesn’t mind that Candace is in full typing mode when she sticks her nose in that space and flips up Candace’s arm to get her hand to come down for a rub on the head.

“She’s making herself comfortable,” says Candace with a good laugh.

I think Greta has chosen the perfect place to just be – if she is in fact the one that chose the place. Sometimes it seems with a place like P&D, there’s a hand above helping out situations.

I suppose it would be hard to call in all that energy in all those classes, meditation and books and not have some unseen help around the place!

If you are in P&D and see Greta on her frequent walks outside the store during the day, be sure to give her a pet and say, “Hello Greta! Welcome to Phoenix and Dragon.”

What do Reiki and Grace have in Common?

On Saturday, I was on my way to Macon, Georgia to visit family. I was listening to the Oprah station on Satellite radio. The Soul Series with Reverend Ed Bacon was on and he was talking with Cathleen Falsani, the author of a book called Sin Boldly, a Field Guide for Grace.

Grace is a word I have heard plenty but don’t know much about. I mean, when I hear someone say “grace,” I picture myself taking a slide down the stairs in my fancy dress at the FOX Theater (the opposite of grace!). So I was intrigued by Reverend Bacon’s interview with Falsani, who also has been a columnist for Sojourner, a truth and justice magazine.

According to Falsani, “Justice is getting what you deserve. Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely don’t deserve.”

Rev. Bacon fired off a few questions after her statement. “Can earn grace?” No. “Can you buy grace?” No. “Can you work hard to get grace?” No. “Can you pray your way to grace?” No. “Is grace only for the good?” No.

Every question he asked, she said no. Grace just is. Apparently, it’s the I AM, in I AM.

This interview set me to thinking. I had received a healing, a Reiki session, with Mark Revard, a Reiki practitioner at P&D, on Friday. After listening to what Falsani’s definition of grace is, I believe spiritual healings are very close to grace.

I have had healings before. Not just Reiki, but other kinds. I’ve even taken two classes on the subject and I know how to do a type of spiritual healing that is not Reiki, but similar in that we use spirit guides to perform the healing. I liken spiritual healings to a cosmic massage. They help me to feel healed, relaxed, happier, and surer of my place in my world.

I’m open to healing and energy from the spirit world. As I become more aware of myself, I think it’s just a natural occurrence and anyone can become more conscious in this way. But to receive a healing, all a person needs is a willingness to receive. It does not require an understanding of how it works. In fact, no belief system of any kind is demanded. It’s not just for the rich, but the rich are welcome to receive. Even the greediest among us can be given a healing and, even though he may stay greedy, he is still as deserving of love as the next person to the spirit guides and the practitioner.

You may see where I’m going with this already. If grace is getting something we don’t deserve, then my Reiki session is about as close as I have come to tangible grace. As Mark was laying his hands on one side of my body, I could “see” (in my mind’s eye) someone on the other side. It even felt like someone was there. I could “see” myself doing things that are good for me, like making a smoothie, exercising, and laughing. As if my guides (or his) were showing me a way to better health and more happiness. I told Mark prior to the session that I was feeling tired much of the time. I believe that’s why I was shown what I saw. I also felt a kinship with Mark. I could “see” flowers, like the periwinkle color of a wisteria vine, in his heart center.

My Reiki healing didn’t require a big praying session to get to experience what I felt. I didn’t have to be good for a day to get the wonderments of healing. I didn’t need to be big buddies with my practitioner to feel compassion with him. I’m not religious, righteous, or even that great of a human being, for that matter. I’m always apologizing for something!

I love that I touched grace. I love how tangible it felt during my Reiki healing.  I hope to get back there again really soon.

 

More about Reiki and Mark.

Reiki is an ancient practice from Japan for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing. It is done by “laying on hands,” and is based on the idea that an unseen “life force energy” from spirit guides of the practitioner that flows through us and helps us heal. If one’s “life force energy” is low, then we are more likely to get sick or feel stress, and if it is high, we are more capable of being happy and healthy.

markr2

Mark became interested in Reiki when he was taking a course in psychic development. As part of an automatic writing practice, he drew a squiggly line and thought he had failed at the exercise. But someone told him he had not failed; he had succeeded greatly in finding a new path. The line he had drawn was a symbol for Reiki. This set him on a path to learn and grow in this field.

I found him to be open and caring and a lovely man. I can happily recommend him for a Reiki session.

Please keep in mind, not everyone will “see” things or get the same messages I did. This was my experience. In any type of reading or healing, we all have an experience that is our own – the guides and angels are giving us what we need, individually!