Archive for June, 2012
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The film classic “Psycho” and the value of clearing the clutter

psycho movieEver wonder how the classic Hitchcock thriller “Psycho” is related to clearing the clutter?  Probably not, so read on.

If your nerves were on edge while watching “Psycho,” here’s why:   every time director Alfred Hitchcock cut to the house on the hill, something was different.

In each shot he would change the location of the door, or the number or placement of windows, or the number of panes in each window.

The shots weren’t held long enough for the viewer to be conscious of what the changes were, only that something was “wrong” with that house.   The result?  An uneasy feeling throughout the film.  That’s why Hitchcock was such a master director.

I took that lesson seriously which is why when I teach workshops, I make sure everything is neat and orderly so the students feel that everything is right in the space.

There are many more areas of our lives in which this lesson can be fruitful.

Adventures in Feng Shui

feng shuiFeng shui is the ancient art of balancing energies in a space to bring health and good fortune for the inhabitants.  Just as we want and need a healthy, balanced body, we need and should want a balanced living environment.  This is what Feng Shui provides.

Developed in China over 3,000 years ago, today it is known and practiced throughout the world.  It deals with placement of a building on land, location of doors, windows and rooms and objects within the rooms.

I am a believer because I study and teach about energy so feng shui makes perfect sense to me.

While there have been many books published on feng shui, I always feel that to do something truly well, you either have to dive in and study for years, or hire an expert to do it for you.  I opted for the latter and have had feng shui done on my last three homes by experts and the results have been tangible.

Expressing Gratitude on the Summer Solstice

“All living creatures and all plants derive their life from the sun. If it were not for the sun, there would be darkness and nothing would grow – the earth would be without life.” Okute, Teton Sioux

summer solstice

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Most people in the Northern Hemisphere are happy around the time of the Summer Solstice.  The days are long and, if you’re not in the desert, the earth is green.

Beauty, fruits and vegetables abound.  “Fun in the sun” is an oft-used phrase.

But how can we go deeper on this longest of days?

The word “solstice” means “stand still”, referring to the fact that the sun appears to rise and set in the same place for a few days around June 20-21.

Ancient peoples around the globe have always conducted ceremony at the time of the Summer Solstice, honoring the sun and imploring it to stay and continue giving us long days and life-giving light.

The Summer Solstice is also a time to honor the manifestation of our dreams and wishes – the days are at their longest, shedding light on those things we love.

This is a good day to be grateful for what you have manifested thus far this year, and focus on what you still wish to come to you.

The sun here on earth

The elders teach that fire represents the sun here on earth:  trees spend their lives drinking in the sun, and when they lay down their lives to be used as firewood, it is said the fire represents the sun here on earth.

As with the sun, fire brings us the gifts of warmth, light and the ability to cook our food.

But fire can also burn us, our loved ones and our homes, so it should always be treated with great respect.

Grandfather Wallace Black Elk taught that when tending a fire, one should occasionally offer it cedar as an honoring.

Bear Heart taught me that three to four times each winter I should offer raw meat to the fire in my home; that by making these offerings the fire would be satisfied and not take anything else.

summer solsticeToday you might want to light a candle as a representation of fire, and say a prayer of gratitude for all that you have.  After all, summer is the seasons of abundance.

And when putting out a candle, be conscious of the fact that you’re handling fire, a representation of the sun, and a sacred gift from the Creator.   Be respectful and grateful.

 To find an answer to a problem:

To find an answer to a problem, Bear Heart taught to face east and think about the problem, saying: “Grandfather Sun, you come each day to dispel the darkness.  In that same way I ask you to shed your light so that I may see where to take the next step.”

“The fire that burns in our fireplaces is the eternal fire, it is the sun here with us, lighting our way.  Among the different Indian tribes, we respect the fire that way.” Bear Heart in The Wind Is My Mother

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Father’s Day and the Native American tradition of adoption

On Father’s Day I remember how very blessed I am to have had three fathers, all at the same time.  This was not a product of divorce.  It was the product of the beautiful Native American tradition of adoption.

My birth father

Father's Day

Me with my father

My birth father, John O’Donohue, was a quick-witted, hard working second-generation Irish-American who loved his family above all else.  Warm and generous, I never met anyone with a better sense of humor.

He was the life of every party, a just man and a good neighbor.  One of my childhood memories is of his reaching inside every parked car he saw with its lights on, and turning the lights off so the battery wouldn’t go dead.  As I said, a good neighbor.

My father’s younger brother, Eddie, died suddenly of a heart attack in the prime of life, leaving behind five children: four boys and an infant girl.  My dad became a surrogate father to his nephews, taking them to ball games, giving them gifts, filling in as best he could for the father they had lost.

I can honestly say that all these posts I write about having good character fit him to a T.  He was the epitome of the Irish saying,  “A finer man never drew the breath of life.”

Not a day goes by that I don’t miss him.

What to do when bad things happen

More wisdom from Bear Heart in the “Wind Is My Mother” on what to do when bad things happen in our lives:

when bad things happenNot long ago a woman called me and I went to see her in the hospital.  She was a very young mother who had just given birth to a child with no arms.  He had webbed feet and scars on his face and she was wondering, “Why me?  Why me?”

I had to talk to her a long time, pray with her, to show her that there was a blessing somewhere in her situation.

In our culture, when such children are born we say they are specially blessed.  The Creator had a reason for bringing that child into the world and we are helping the Creator when we make the child as comfortable as possible in every way.

It’s said there is a special blessing when we help someone like that, although that’s not our reason for doing it.  My people don’t even talk about the reasons, we just try to help.

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