Molly Larkin

Author Archives: Molly Larkin

Molly Larkin is the co-author of the international best-seller "The Wind Is My Mother; The Life and Teachings of a Native American Shaman.” She is passionate about helping people live life to their fullest potential through her classes and blog at www.MollyLarkin.com

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How’s your cup? How to learn to be optimistic

Can we learn to be optimistic?

I believe so, and researchers agree.

But it will take some undoing of early programming.

The average fourth grade child has heard the words “no, you can’t do that” over 70,000 times. So we have to work to overcome that negative imprint.

THE RESEARCH

Not only are optimists happier than pessimists, research shows they are healthier, live longer and make more money.

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Stop the presses! Pessimists throughout history proved wrong!

Today I’d like to offer some historical anecdotes about all the times pessimists were wrong. Hopefully it will give you more inspiration to hold onto your dreams in spite of the naysayers:

For starters, remember how absolutely certain people used to be that the earth was flat!

In 1847, Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis was the head of Vienna General Hospital’s First Obstetrical Clinic, which at the time had a mortality rate of 10-35%! When he suggested doctors and mid-wives wash their hands before attending mothers and newborns, he was ridiculed by the medical authorities of the time, and fired by the hospital that employed him. In 1851 he moved to Hungary where his theory was accepted and hand-washing reduced mortality to less than 1%!

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Can pessimism be helpful?

“Don’t ever let somebody tell you that you can’t do something. You got a dream, you got to protect it. When people can’t do something themselves, they want to tell you that you can’t do it. If you want something, go get it. Period.” Will Smith, actor

Can pessimism be helpful?

I think not.

Not that there’s anything wrong with critical thinking and trying to be aware of potential obstacles.

But I’m talking about people who are negative for the sake of being negative. Because they have not succeeded, they don’t want anyone else to succeed either.

AN EYE-OPENING COMMENT

I like to increase my odds of success by being a thorough researcher. So when I was working on The Wind Is My Mother, I took a class on how to get a non-fiction book published and did absolutely everything suggested. It worked.

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In Honor of Mother’s Day

In honor of Mother’s Day, I would like to share the memoriam I wrote after my mother passed away ten years ago. I hope it can serve as a reminder of the little things we should cherish every day.

My mother went home to her ancestors on October 13, 2002 in Hospice House, Holland, Michigan, surrounded by her family.

Memorial is often a time of sadness that someone has died, but it’s better used as a time of celebration that someone has lived and touched our lives.

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How to turn Road Rage into Compassion

“Great Spirit, help me never to judge another until I have walked in his moccasins.” Native American proverb

Years ago, my friend Carol stopped at a gas station while driving through Oklahoma. Just as her car was approaching the pump, she was cut off by a big RV that pulled in ahead of her.

Carol was pissed and found another pump. When she went inside to pay, the woman who had cut her off was standing in front of her in line. Carol resolved to give her a dirty look when she turned around.

But her world was turned upside down when she heard the woman say to the cashier,

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What do the Northern Lights mean for us?

The other day I stumbled upon a short marketing film by the Finnish government about the Northern Lights. It’s lovely and I’ve linked to it at the end of this post.

THE SCIENCE

The film opens with the following statement:

“Aurora is a natural light display in the sky, particularly in the polar regions, caused by the collision of charged particles directed by the Earth’s magnetic field.”

Hmmm! That’s a very nice scientific explanation, but what are they really?

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Suggested Reading on Native American Spirituality

One of my subscribers asked for a suggested reading list to help gain more insight into Native American spirituality and I am happy to oblige.

I have one caveat, however: Indigenous spirituality cannot truly be understood intellectually. It is based in the heart and the body and communicating with the natural world. I strongly recommend following the practices I share in my posts, particularly those that involve communication with nature. The reading will be a nice supplement to that.

This is a list of some of my favorites:

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More Blessings from the Cedar Tree

Last week, I shared Bear Heart’s story of how the cedar tree is a gift from the Creator. Today’s post shares more teachings about cedar.

The history of cedar

The cedar tree has been revered for it’s spiritual qualities by many cultures, and is frequently referenced in the Bible: it was chosen to build the temple of God in Jerusalem [1 Kings 6:9-20].

The wood is not attacked by insects, has no knots and has remarkable longevity: the cedar forests of Lebanon often had a lifespan of over 2,000 years.

Cedar wood was used to build the doors of sacred temples in ancient cultures and burned for purification.

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Earth Day: Mending the Sacred Hoop

“Everything is part of the Sacred Hoop and everything is related. Our existence is so intertwined that our survival depends upon maintaining a balanced relationship with everything within the Sacred Hoop.” Bear Heart

Earth Day is the perfect day to focus on the Sacred Hoop of All Creation and how to establish a relationship with the natural world around us.

In indigenous cultures, the circle is sacred — when we sit in a circle there is a spirit of oneness and everyone is equal.

The elders teach that the universe is in harmony as long as the Sacred Hoop, the circle of life, is intact.

The Sacred Hoop includes all of life: the four directions (West, North, East and South), the earth, trees, plants, rivers, oceans, two-leggeds, four-leggeds, winged creatures, swimmers (fish) and “creepy crawlers” (insects).

They all bring their own unique contribution to the earth and one another.

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The Story of How the Cedar Tree Became a Gift from the Creator

This story about the Cedar Tree was told to me by Bear Heart:

“A long time ago, there lived a human being who always went out of his way to help the people of his village.

“When the elders could no longer hunt for themselves, he would bring them food.

“A young couple getting married could count on him to help make their tipi poles and gather the hides needed to cover their lodge.

“If a child’s family was killed, he would take that child in and raise it as his own.

“And there were many more good deeds he performed that no one knew of, because he never sought praise or attention for his actions. Every day he remained alert to what he could do to help his tribe, and he did so with good humor and enthusiasm.

“Many years went by in this way and all the while the Creator watched this man and took note of his virtues.

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Social activism: the good, the bad and the ugly

“An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” Gandhi

I’m a big fan of peaceful social activism. Having marched in the 1970s in opposition to the Vietnam War, I’m proud that my generation helped end it.

We have even more opportunity today, with the advent of online petitions that are getting lots of results, fast.

UGLY SOCIAL ACTIVISM

But there is also un-social activism that causes me concern. I’m thinking specifically of Spike Lee’s ill-advised re-tweet of the supposed address of George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin.

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How to meditate: 12 sure-fire techniques

It’s not hard to learn how to meditate. The secret is to find the technique that works for you.

Psychologists estimate the average person has at least 50,000 thoughts a day and 90% are the same as yesterday. Meditation is simply stilling the chatter of our mind to come to a place of relaxation and peace.

Here are a dozen methods for you to try. Start with five minutes once or twice a day and work up to 15-20 minutes.

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Meditation: even swans need to do it!

Last spring as I was walking around the lake near my home, I came upon a family of swans by the shore: two beautiful, huge adults and 10 little baby swans. Ten!

[Yes, I know they’re called cygnets but that word isn’t cute enough to do them justice].

The two parents were putting up a very loud squawk and, as I got closer, I saw that one of the babies had become stranded on the shore side of a big log and the parents were encouraging it to climb over.

The baby kept trying to get over the log but the log was too big and the baby too small. So the parents took turns stepping up on the log, turning around and squatting in the hopes the baby would grab on to them and be pulled out. After about a dozen attempts, they succeeded.

The irony was that if any of them had looked to the baby’s left, they would have seen it could easily have swum around the log to freedom! But they were all too focused on the problem right in front of them to look for other solutions.

It struck me that this was a perfect example of the benefits of meditation. Stop, take a break, relax, regroup and look around for a fresh perspective. That usually allows inspiration and new ideas to flow in.

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A New Take on April Fool’s Day

Traditionally, April 1 is “April Fool’s Day,” an opportunity to play harmless and fun jokes and tricks on others. Frankly, I’ve never been a fan.

Not much is known about the origin of this holiday. One popular origin tale is that when the Gregorian Calendar moved the first day of the year from April 1 to January 1, not everyone got the message, or simply chose to ignore it.

After all, there was no internet then to spread the word. Those who continued to view April 1 as the first day of the year were called “Fools”.

But this story doesn’t hold water because the history of pranking on April 1 started long before the Gregorian Calendar came along in 1582, and it also has traditions around the world.

Another theory is that the timing of a day of pranks is tied to the arrival of spring, when nature “fools” humankind with fickle weather. That explanation makes sense to me, particularly this year.

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Tobacco: Do you know how sacred it is?

Tobacco is an herb that has become a pariah in our society, yet is sacred to many native peoples. It wasn’t meant to be used and smoked the way we use it in our society.

My first teacher, Sun Bear, had a wonderful saying: “White people misused tobacco, the sacred medicine of the native people, and it made them sick. When native people misused white peoples’ medicine, the sacred wine of the mass, it became their undoing.”

We must respect one another’s medicines.

THE UNKNOWN SPIRITUAL LIFE OF TOBACCO

Tobacco has the quality of being able to absorb. When made into a poultice, it can absorb toxins out of a rash or bug bite. When you pray with it, it absorbs your prayers. And when smoked, the smoke carries your prayers up to the Creator.

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Desiderata

The desiderata is a much loved poem written by American writer Max Ehrmann in 1927. Largly unknown during Ehrmann’s lifetime, It became well-known after being found at Adlai Stevenson’s deathbed in 1965.

In response to losing the majority in the Canadian Federal election in 1872, Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau quoted the Desiderata in reassuring the nation that “the universe is unfolding as it should.”

While the writing may seem stilted by today’s standards, the sentiments expressed are profound. And our lives will be better if we embrace them.

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What does the first day of spring mean for us?

“I’m not interested in any philosophy unless it can help me grow corn.” Sun Bear

Meaning, “it gives me practical help in my life.” This post is about how celebrating the Spring Equinox can do just that.

This year the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere is March 20, 1:14 a.m. Eastern Time: a day of equal balance of the hours of light and dark before the sun continues its journey towards longer daylight hours and warming temperatures. The word equinox comes from the latin words meaning “equal night.”

The equinox energy is strong for four days before and after March 20th, giving you time to bask in the opportunities and lessons it brings.

Ancient cultures throughout history have celebrated this time of rebirth of Mother Earth. But what does it mean for us?

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