Never Give Up: Buddhism, Family & Schizophrenia

Memoirist & Children's Story Writer

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/sundancekid-press/SundanceKid PressI am still working on promoting my memoir. I am slowly but surely making my way around to the local bookstores in the South Bay. Yesterday I donated a copy to NAMI Santa Clara and gave them a few flyers for the Gilroy Barnes & Noble book signing. I’m also hoping to organize a similar book event at the Stevens Creek Barnes & Noble in San Jose later this fall. Please feel free to download or distribute the flyer for the October 11th book event at the Gilroy Barnes & Noble.
GilroyBNFlyer
In the meantime, I’ve been working on an idea for a children’s publishing company, SundanceKid Press. SundanceKid Press will be a multi-lingual, multi-cultural children’s press. I believe it is very important to start reading to children at an early age. I also believe that literacy is necessary to foster an educated citizenry. The U.S. is made up of people and cultures from all over the world. We are unlike any other country in this respect, and it represents our greatest challenge, but also our greatest strength. If children are taught from an early age to appreciate other cultures in addition to their own culture, then as adults they will be much less likely to discriminate against and disrespect people they view as “different.”
SundanceKid Press will publish children’s literature in two languages – English and the author’s native or chosen language. The idea behind this is to help both children and their parent(s) learn English as well as the second language. Parents who may not speak English fluently will be able to read to their children in their native language while improving their English skills at the same time. Children will learn English and their parents’ native language, or a second language.

Speaking more than one language is a valuable skill in our shrinking world. In many other countries, children learn a second (and sometimes a third or fourth) language as part of both their elementary and secondary education. This is true for children in India, most European countries, as well as Japan and others. Understanding another language and culture other than one’s own is critical to building a more compassionate and peaceful society. I am very excited about starting SundanceKid Press!

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/sundancekid-press/

SundanceKid Press

I am still working on promoting my memoir. I am slowly but surely making my way around to the local bookstores in the South Bay. Yesterday I donated a copy to NAMI Santa Clara and gave them a few flyers for the Gilroy Barnes & Noble book signing. I’m also hoping to organize a similar book event at the Stevens Creek Barnes & Noble in San Jose later this fall. Please feel free to download or distribute the flyer for the October 11th book event at the Gilroy Barnes & Noble.

GilroyBNFlyer

In the meantime, I’ve been working on an idea for a children’s publishing company, SundanceKid Press. SundanceKid Press will be a multi-lingual, multi-cultural children’s press. I believe it is very important to start reading to children at an early age. I also believe that literacy is necessary to foster an educated citizenry. The U.S. is made up of people and cultures from all over the world. We are unlike any other country in this respect, and it represents our greatest challenge, but also our greatest strength. If children are taught from an early age to appreciate other cultures in addition to their own culture, then as adults they will be much less likely to discriminate against and disrespect people they view as “different.”

SundanceKid Press will publish children’s literature in two languages – English and the author’s native or chosen language. The idea behind this is to help both children and their parent(s) learn English as well as the second language. Parents who may not speak English fluently will be able to read to their children in their native language while improving their English skills at the same time. Children will learn English and their parents’ native language, or a second language.

sundancekid press, peace, compassion, children's stories, children's press, multilingual, multicultural

Speaking more than one language is a valuable skill in our shrinking world. In many other countries, children learn a second (and sometimes a third or fourth) language as part of both their elementary and secondary education. This is true for children in India, most European countries, as well as Japan and others. Understanding another language and culture other than one’s own is critical to building a more compassionate and peaceful society. I am very excited about starting SundanceKid Press!

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/dialogue-starts-with-courage/Dialogue Starts With CourageI’m so happy to be holding my first memoir book signing at the Gilroy, California Barnes & Noble Bookstore. I can’t wait! It will be held on Saturday, October 11th from 2-4pm and copies will be available for purchase. I will be available at an information table near the front of the store to answer questions and discuss my memoir. I hope to plan a future event, maybe in December, in the San Jose area, so stay tuned!
I am especially looking forward to sharing my experience with other people. I believe it is so important to talk to other people, not just about my memoir, but about our shared experiences. SGI President Daisaku Ikeda states:
Dialogue starts from the courageous willingness to know and be known by others. It is the painstaking and persistent effort to remove all obstacles that obscure our common humanity. Genuine dialogue is a ceaseless and profound spiritual exertion that seeks to effect a fundamental human transformation in both ourselves and others. Dialogue challenges us to confront and transform the destructive impulses inherent in human life.
SGI President Ikeda’s Message to the Civil Society Peace Forum – 9/8/2007


Dialogue takes courage. It is much easier to isolate myself and ignore other people, rather than initiate conversation. For some people, it is easier to strike out at the other person, rather than attempt to resolve the problem through dialogue. The same can be said of numerous politicians in the U.S. government who prefer war and conflict over peace and diplomacy.
My determination for my October 11th book event is to have meaningful dialogue with the people who express interest in my memoir. I will not be reading from my memoir, nor will I be giving a talk. Instead, I will be available to speak with anyone who is interested in learning more about my incredible experience.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/dialogue-starts-with-courage/

Dialogue Starts With Courage

I’m so happy to be holding my first memoir book signing at the Gilroy, California Barnes & Noble Bookstore. I can’t wait! It will be held on Saturday, October 11th from 2-4pm and copies will be available for purchase. I will be available at an information table near the front of the store to answer questions and discuss my memoir. I hope to plan a future event, maybe in December, in the San Jose area, so stay tuned!

I am especially looking forward to sharing my experience with other people. I believe it is so important to talk to other people, not just about my memoir, but about our shared experiences. SGI President Daisaku Ikeda states:

Dialogue starts from the courageous willingness to know and be known by others. It is the painstaking and persistent effort to remove all obstacles that obscure our common humanity. Genuine dialogue is a ceaseless and profound spiritual exertion that seeks to effect a fundamental human transformation in both ourselves and others. Dialogue challenges us to confront and transform the destructive impulses inherent in human life.

SGI President Ikeda’s Message to the Civil Society Peace Forum – 9/8/2007

dialogue, courage, buddhism, happiness, memoir, book signing, women's memoir, gilroy

Dialogue takes courage. It is much easier to isolate myself and ignore other people, rather than initiate conversation. For some people, it is easier to strike out at the other person, rather than attempt to resolve the problem through dialogue. The same can be said of numerous politicians in the U.S. government who prefer war and conflict over peace and diplomacy.

My determination for my October 11th book event is to have meaningful dialogue with the people who express interest in my memoir. I will not be reading from my memoir, nor will I be giving a talk. Instead, I will be available to speak with anyone who is interested in learning more about my incredible experience.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/buddhist-optimism-buddhism-of-nichiren-daishonin/Buddhist Optimism-The Buddhism of Nichiren DaishoninBuddhist optimism is not the escapist optimism of those who throw up their hands and say, “Somehow or other things will work out.” Rather it means clearly recognizing evil as evil and suffering as suffering and resolutely fighting to overcome it. It means believing in one’s ability and strength to struggle against any evil or any obstacle. It is to possess a fighting optimism.
SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, “The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: Volume V.”

I believe this statement epitomizes one the major differences between the Buddhism that I practice, the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, and the other sects of Buddhism out there in the world today. For most people, especially in the West, Buddhism is seen as a laid-back, meditative, easy-going spiritual practice that has more to do with bringing about peace of mind than world peace. The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin specifically emphasizes that as believers, we need to not only pray and take action to improve our own lives, but we also need to pray and take action to improve the lives of others. It is not a passive, contemplative Buddhism, but rather an active, positive, and fighting for justice Buddhism.

This is why I like this quote. “Buddhist optimism…is a fighting optimism.” We are not meant to retreat into the mountaintops and seclude ourselves in quiet meditation. Instead we must take an active role in society in order to improve our own lives and the lives of others. For me this is a real challenge. Given a choice, I would choose to keep quietly to myself, reading books and spending my spare time with my husband and my dog. I would interact as little as possible with other people and keep primarily to myself. This is one of my biggest weaknesses, but this Buddhism has helped me to open up my life and learn how to care about other people. I’ve developed compassion for my own family members, close friends, my Buddhist companions and even strangers on other continents thousands of miles away.
Without compassion and concern for other people, we do not get very far in life, nor will we get very far as a diverse, multi-racial and multi-lingual society.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/buddhist-optimism-buddhism-of-nichiren-daishonin/

Buddhist Optimism-The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin

Buddhist optimism is not the escapist optimism of those who throw up their hands and say, “Somehow or other things will work out.” Rather it means clearly recognizing evil as evil and suffering as suffering and resolutely fighting to overcome it. It means believing in one’s ability and strength to struggle against any evil or any obstacle. It is to possess a fighting optimism.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda, “The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: Volume V.”

I believe this statement epitomizes one the major differences between the Buddhism that I practice, the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin, and the other sects of Buddhism out there in the world today. For most people, especially in the West, Buddhism is seen as a laid-back, meditative, easy-going spiritual practice that has more to do with bringing about peace of mind than world peace. The Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin specifically emphasizes that as believers, we need to not only pray and take action to improve our own lives, but we also need to pray and take action to improve the lives of others. It is not a passive, contemplative Buddhism, but rather an active, positive, and fighting for justice Buddhism.

buddhism, nichiren daishonin's buddhism, optimism, fighting optimism, happiness, compassion

This is why I like this quote. “Buddhist optimism…is a fighting optimism.” We are not meant to retreat into the mountaintops and seclude ourselves in quiet meditation. Instead we must take an active role in society in order to improve our own lives and the lives of others. For me this is a real challenge. Given a choice, I would choose to keep quietly to myself, reading books and spending my spare time with my husband and my dog. I would interact as little as possible with other people and keep primarily to myself. This is one of my biggest weaknesses, but this Buddhism has helped me to open up my life and learn how to care about other people. I’ve developed compassion for my own family members, close friends, my Buddhist companions and even strangers on other continents thousands of miles away.

Without compassion and concern for other people, we do not get very far in life, nor will we get very far as a diverse, multi-racial and multi-lingual society.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/shine-a-light-on-your-dark-places/Shine a Light On Your Dark Places!Three or four years ago I borrowed a book from my mom to read on the flight home from Denver. The book was Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. I loved it. The Glass Castle is Jeannette Walls’ memoir about her childhood and growing up with an unusual set of parents. I recently bought her third book, The Silver Star, published in 2013. The Silver Star is a novel and doesn’t offer quite the same insights into the author’s personal life like her memoir. It’s still a good read, and last night I was struck by a piece of advice the mom gave the young girl “Liz” after Liz had suffered a traumatic event.

Don’t be afraid of your dark places. 
If you can shine a light on them, you’ll find treasure there.

How wonderful! I thought to myself as I lay reading in bed, using my husband’s blue headlamp for extra light. What incredible advice! The mother in the story is exactly right. I stopped reading for a minute and thought about my “dark places” – the places inside me that I associate with evil and rage and injustice. I realized that these places I tend to associate with the mafia and the evil voices/people that have surrounded me for so many years. While they all appear to be external, from a Buddhist perspective, this is not the case. There is something internal, inside me – a dark place perhaps – that I need the courage to overcome. That’s why I really liked this quote, especially the second part: “If you can shine a light on them, you’ll find treasure there.”
This is really true, especially in Buddhism because we use our problems and sufferings to help us grow and to create value. While I was writing my memoir, I determined that my story would be one way for me to create value out of the horrendous situation I found myself in for so many years. By writing about my experiences, I could not only heal emotionally, but I could also be a source of hope and offer encouragement to others. I also came up with a great, new idea for a children’s publishing company that I’m really looking forward to starting, and I think this will also be a way for me to “shine a light on my dark places,” and find the treasure within.

This is such an amazing perspective to view the darkness within our own lives. We must not be afraid to illuminate this darkness – to create happiness from suffering, joy from pain, and treasure from poison.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/shine-a-light-on-your-dark-places/

Shine a Light On Your Dark Places!

Three or four years ago I borrowed a book from my mom to read on the flight home from Denver. The book was Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. I loved it. The Glass Castle is Jeannette Walls’ memoir about her childhood and growing up with an unusual set of parents. I recently bought her third book, The Silver Star, published in 2013. The Silver Star is a novel and doesn’t offer quite the same insights into the author’s personal life like her memoir. It’s still a good read, and last night I was struck by a piece of advice the mom gave the young girl “Liz” after Liz had suffered a traumatic event.

Don’t be afraid of your dark places.

If you can shine a light on them, you’ll find treasure there.

How wonderful! I thought to myself as I lay reading in bed, using my husband’s blue headlamp for extra light. What incredible advice! The mother in the story is exactly right. I stopped reading for a minute and thought about my “dark places” – the places inside me that I associate with evil and rage and injustice. I realized that these places I tend to associate with the mafia and the evil voices/people that have surrounded me for so many years. While they all appear to be external, from a Buddhist perspective, this is not the case. There is something internal, inside me – a dark place perhaps – that I need the courage to overcome. That’s why I really liked this quote, especially the second part: “If you can shine a light on them, you’ll find treasure there.”

This is really true, especially in Buddhism because we use our problems and sufferings to help us grow and to create value. While I was writing my memoir, I determined that my story would be one way for me to create value out of the horrendous situation I found myself in for so many years. By writing about my experiences, I could not only heal emotionally, but I could also be a source of hope and offer encouragement to others. I also came up with a great, new idea for a children’s publishing company that I’m really looking forward to starting, and I think this will also be a way for me to “shine a light on my dark places,” and find the treasure within.

light, darkness, evil, happiness, buddhism, mental health

This is such an amazing perspective to view the darkness within our own lives. We must not be afraid to illuminate this darkness – to create happiness from suffering, joy from pain, and treasure from poison.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/making-change-happen/Making Change HappenI was a little out of sorts over this past weekend, and it took me a couple of days to recover. I had this expectation that on Friday, August 1st, the voices, the mafia, and all the people traipsing around after me would go away. When that didn’t happen, I became very upset. It is extremely difficult for me to accept the situation as it is, but when I went to my Buddhist study on Tuesday morning, I felt encourage by another woman’s experience. She too had also been feeling frustrated – as if nothing was changing in her life in spite of all the effort she was making. She eventually was able to achieve success and accomplish her goals that she had set for herself, and described how that even though we chant or pray and may not feel like anything is changing – somehow we have set the wheels in motion with our daimoku (Buddhist prayer). At the right time, we will see the results in our lives.

I was really encouraged by her experience because I have felt frustrated many, many times over this same issue. I have felt as if nothing was happening in terms of making progress with the people who are harassing me and stalking me. All too often I have felt deadlocked in my life for years, stuck in a place that I haven’t been able to get myself out of with nothing changing from one day to the next. John and I argued for awhile on Saturday morning. I told him I wake up every morning and listen to see if I can still hear “Loach” (the name I have given the mafia “thing” that yells constantly and follows me everywhere). I listen for the other soft, whispering voices as well, but every morning I wake up, and they are still there. I hate them. I wish they would go away and leave me alone forever. I asked John, “Who does this? What type of person? They are psychotic!”
Living in their own drug-induced, delusional world, a small pack of miserable leeches clings to me desperately. I have no idea why. There is no logical reason. Only insanity and their own miserable lives, rife with addiction, crime and who knows what else. In the end, their misery has little, if anything, to do with me. I became their focal point, their scapegoat, but none of them knows how or why – nor do they care.
What I realized yesterday morning after listening to my Buddhist friend’s experience, was that even though I do not see immediate changes in my life or my environment, the wheels have been set in motion. Change is happening and it will become apparent at the right time. I am sure of it. I just have to be patient. Unfortunately, patience is one thing I lack.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/making-change-happen/

Making Change Happen

I was a little out of sorts over this past weekend, and it took me a couple of days to recover. I had this expectation that on Friday, August 1st, the voices, the mafia, and all the people traipsing around after me would go away. When that didn’t happen, I became very upset. It is extremely difficult for me to accept the situation as it is, but when I went to my Buddhist study on Tuesday morning, I felt encourage by another woman’s experience. She too had also been feeling frustrated – as if nothing was changing in her life in spite of all the effort she was making. She eventually was able to achieve success and accomplish her goals that she had set for herself, and described how that even though we chant or pray and may not feel like anything is changing – somehow we have set the wheels in motion with our daimoku (Buddhist prayer). At the right time, we will see the results in our lives.

change, effort, buddhism, prayer, hope, encouragement, happiness

I was really encouraged by her experience because I have felt frustrated many, many times over this same issue. I have felt as if nothing was happening in terms of making progress with the people who are harassing me and stalking me. All too often I have felt deadlocked in my life for years, stuck in a place that I haven’t been able to get myself out of with nothing changing from one day to the next. John and I argued for awhile on Saturday morning. I told him I wake up every morning and listen to see if I can still hear “Loach” (the name I have given the mafia “thing” that yells constantly and follows me everywhere). I listen for the other soft, whispering voices as well, but every morning I wake up, and they are still there. I hate them. I wish they would go away and leave me alone forever. I asked John, “Who does this? What type of person? They are psychotic!”

Living in their own drug-induced, delusional world, a small pack of miserable leeches clings to me desperately. I have no idea why. There is no logical reason. Only insanity and their own miserable lives, rife with addiction, crime and who knows what else. In the end, their misery has little, if anything, to do with me. I became their focal point, their scapegoat, but none of them knows how or why – nor do they care.

What I realized yesterday morning after listening to my Buddhist friend’s experience, was that even though I do not see immediate changes in my life or my environment, the wheels have been set in motion. Change is happening and it will become apparent at the right time. I am sure of it. I just have to be patient. Unfortunately, patience is one thing I lack.

Beautiful art from Rosehill Design Studio.
New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/women-in-nature-adventure/Women In Nature - Adventure!I decided to enter a submission for an anthology titled Women In Nature. The first book in the Women In Nature series was published this May, and the publisher, Louis Grace Publishing, is currently accepting submissions for additional anthologies in their series. They are currently accepting submission for the following categories: adventure, children, healing, water, indigenous ways, food, and dwelling. These are short essays – only 750-2,000 words – and must be inspiring and uplifting for the reader.
When I read the submission guidelines on their website, I remembered the six-week backpacking trip I took in Montana the summer of my freshman year of college. I picked a few memorable events from my backpacking trip and wrote a brief essay titled “The Darkest, Starriest Skies.” I think I might have continued the “stars” theme from last week’s blog post, but I also discovered that I really enjoy writing about my past experiences – particularly the enjoyable ones.

I’ve found over and over that writing about my past experiences helps me tremendously to push the bad memories I have of the voices and the mafia into the background. Writing about, remembering, and not-quite reliving the fun times I’ve had, helps me rediscover all the positive, enjoyable experiences in my life. I’m starting to realize that the past twelve years I’ve spent battling these horrible people and relentless voices do not make up the sum total of my existence. I have plenty of great, positive, adventurous stories to share with my readers, and I plan to continue writing long into the future.
I even started a second memoir about the two years I spent in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer. I am excited about writing this memoir as well, and I can’t wait to share my experience with others. I still face quite a bit of negativity on a daily basis – mostly in my own thoughts. It’s easy to be angry, and hard to be positive, but I make continuous efforts to keep happy thoughts. My Buddhist faith, my husband and my family help me tremendously. I can’t wait until it’s over.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/women-in-nature-adventure/

Women In Nature - Adventure!

I decided to enter a submission for an anthology titled Women In Nature. The first book in the Women In Nature series was published this May, and the publisher, Louis Grace Publishing, is currently accepting submissions for additional anthologies in their series. They are currently accepting submission for the following categories: adventure, children, healing, water, indigenous ways, food, and dwelling. These are short essays – only 750-2,000 words – and must be inspiring and uplifting for the reader.

When I read the submission guidelines on their website, I remembered the six-week backpacking trip I took in Montana the summer of my freshman year of college. I picked a few memorable events from my backpacking trip and wrote a brief essay titled “The Darkest, Starriest Skies.” I think I might have continued the “stars” theme from last week’s blog post, but I also discovered that I really enjoy writing about my past experiences – particularly the enjoyable ones.

women in nature, women, nature, healing, writing, adventure, happiness

I’ve found over and over that writing about my past experiences helps me tremendously to push the bad memories I have of the voices and the mafia into the background. Writing about, remembering, and not-quite reliving the fun times I’ve had, helps me rediscover all the positive, enjoyable experiences in my life. I’m starting to realize that the past twelve years I’ve spent battling these horrible people and relentless voices do not make up the sum total of my existence. I have plenty of great, positive, adventurous stories to share with my readers, and I plan to continue writing long into the future.

I even started a second memoir about the two years I spent in the Dominican Republic as a Peace Corps volunteer. I am excited about writing this memoir as well, and I can’t wait to share my experience with others. I still face quite a bit of negativity on a daily basis – mostly in my own thoughts. It’s easy to be angry, and hard to be positive, but I make continuous efforts to keep happy thoughts. My Buddhist faith, my husband and my family help me tremendously. I can’t wait until it’s over.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/we-are-children-of-the-stars/We Are Children of the StarsSince there is no God in Buddhism, we cannot be said to be all God’s children. Instead, we are all children of the stars, of the universe. Our lives are one with the great life of the universe – what we see and what we don’t see. Much like people, stars also go through the cycle of birth and death. As they age and begin to die, stars like our sun cast off a shell of glowing gas forming intricate patterns in the night sky. These stellar fireworks form shapes similar to pinwheels, butterflies, spheres, balloons, lawn sprinklers, goblets and even rocket engine exhaust! NASA states in a 1997 press release that “…these outbursts provide a way for heavier elements – predominantly carbon – cooked in the star’s core, to be ejected into interstellar space as raw material for successive generations of stars, planets, and potentially, life.”
SGI President Ikeda states, “…matter that is scattered throughout the universe as a result of the death of a star will be used in the birth of new stars and in the bodies of biological organisms. The atoms making up our bodies, too, were once shining as part of a star somewhere.”
The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: A Discussion Vol V p 17 2003 Soka Gakkai World Tribune Press
I read a New York Times article last week titled “Stalking the Shadow Universe” by Dennis Overbye. The accompanying video fascinated me because the video depiction of the universe closely resembled a computer generated image of a human brain I had seen the February 2014 issue of National Geographic. In Overbye’s video, the image of the universe at :35 and also toward the end of the video, around minute 2:05, are similar to the brain images in the article “Secrets of the Brain,” on page 28 of the February 2014 issue of National Geographic.
What’s interesting is David Constantine’s brief article in the New York Times from August 15, 2006. The article “Science Illustrated,” compares two pictures, one of a mouse brain, and one a simulated image of the universe. They bear a striking resemblance.

Scientists are looking for patterns and order in the approximately 100,000 miles of nerve fibers that make up the human brain, and they are also attempting to understand the structure of the energy that makes up the universe. We truly are children of the stars.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/we-are-children-of-the-stars/

We Are Children of the Stars

Since there is no God in Buddhism, we cannot be said to be all God’s children. Instead, we are all children of the stars, of the universe. Our lives are one with the great life of the universe – what we see and what we don’t see. Much like people, stars also go through the cycle of birth and death. As they age and begin to die, stars like our sun cast off a shell of glowing gas forming intricate patterns in the night sky. These stellar fireworks form shapes similar to pinwheels, butterflies, spheres, balloons, lawn sprinklers, goblets and even rocket engine exhaust! NASA states in a 1997 press release that “…these outbursts provide a way for heavier elements – predominantly carbon – cooked in the star’s core, to be ejected into interstellar space as raw material for successive generations of stars, planets, and potentially, life.”

SGI President Ikeda states, “…matter that is scattered throughout the universe as a result of the death of a star will be used in the birth of new stars and in the bodies of biological organisms. The atoms making up our bodies, too, were once shining as part of a star somewhere.”

The Wisdom of the Lotus Sutra: A Discussion Vol V p 17 2003 Soka Gakkai World Tribune Press

I read a New York Times article last week titled “Stalking the Shadow Universe” by Dennis Overbye. The accompanying video fascinated me because the video depiction of the universe closely resembled a computer generated image of a human brain I had seen the February 2014 issue of National Geographic. In Overbye’s video, the image of the universe at :35 and also toward the end of the video, around minute 2:05, are similar to the brain images in the article “Secrets of the Brain,” on page 28 of the February 2014 issue of National Geographic.

What’s interesting is David Constantine’s brief article in the New York Times from August 15, 2006. The article “Science Illustrated,” compares two pictures, one of a mouse brain, and one a simulated image of the universe. They bear a striking resemblance.

human beings, stars, universe, children, brain

Scientists are looking for patterns and order in the approximately 100,000 miles of nerve fibers that make up the human brain, and they are also attempting to understand the structure of the energy that makes up the universe. We truly are children of the stars.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/magic-carpet-inspiration/Magic Carpet - Inspiration!Last year I bought a notecard with a drawing I liked at a bookstore in Sunnyvale, California. The inside is blank, but the picture on the front of the card shows five animals sitting atop a multi-colored, patchwork carpet with tassels at each of the four corners. The animals and the carpet are flying high above the mountains and city lights below, while a starry night sky and a C-shaped yellow moon are visible behind them. The drawing is a reproduction of a water-color painting titled “Magic Carpet,” by Anna Shuttlewood.
I liked the painting because it provided me with inspiration for a new children’s story. Three of the animals look like they might be wolves, and I’ve always loved wolves. There is also a small, brown hedgehog sitting near one corner of the carpet with an even smaller white mouse. Imagine the possibilities this painting provides for story ideas. All I needed was this one picture, and I immediately thought of a children’s story.

I also have a few other children’s stories in various stages of development. Over twenty years ago, I started writing a story titled, Caleb – The Vegetarian Dragon. This story is almost finished – the ending just needs a little work. The funny thing about the Caleb story is when I first sat down to write it, I wasn’t envisioning a story about a vegetarian dragon – or any type of dragon. My very first story inspiration came from a Charles Schultz Peanuts cartoon. The cartoon had Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse typing away on an old-fashioned typewriter. He starts his novel with the words, “It was a dark and stormy night,” yet he never seems to write any more than those first seven words. Anyway, those were the first words I wrote down on paper when I first started writing, and now of course they are long gone – replaced by a story about a vegetarian dragon.
Peanuts - Charles Schultz
I have a few other story ideas – a children’s series inspired by my dog Savannah, and a story titled The Pillow Thief, inspired by my husband John. I haven’t finished these either. One of these days I will publish all of my children’s stories, but until then, I remain inspired.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/magic-carpet-inspiration/

Magic Carpet - Inspiration!

Last year I bought a notecard with a drawing I liked at a bookstore in Sunnyvale, California. The inside is blank, but the picture on the front of the card shows five animals sitting atop a multi-colored, patchwork carpet with tassels at each of the four corners. The animals and the carpet are flying high above the mountains and city lights below, while a starry night sky and a C-shaped yellow moon are visible behind them. The drawing is a reproduction of a water-color painting titled “Magic Carpet,” by Anna Shuttlewood.

I liked the painting because it provided me with inspiration for a new children’s story. Three of the animals look like they might be wolves, and I’ve always loved wolves. There is also a small, brown hedgehog sitting near one corner of the carpet with an even smaller white mouse. Imagine the possibilities this painting provides for story ideas. All I needed was this one picture, and I immediately thought of a children’s story.

I also have a few other children’s stories in various stages of development. Over twenty years ago, I started writing a story titled, Caleb – The Vegetarian Dragon. This story is almost finished – the ending just needs a little work. The funny thing about the Caleb story is when I first sat down to write it, I wasn’t envisioning a story about a vegetarian dragon – or any type of dragon. My very first story inspiration came from a Charles Schultz Peanuts cartoon. The cartoon had Snoopy sitting on top of his doghouse typing away on an old-fashioned typewriter. He starts his novel with the words, “It was a dark and stormy night,” yet he never seems to write any more than those first seven words. Anyway, those were the first words I wrote down on paper when I first started writing, and now of course they are long gone – replaced by a story about a vegetarian dragon.

peanuts, snoopy, charles schultzPeanuts - Charles Schultz

I have a few other story ideas – a children’s series inspired by my dog Savannah, and a story titled The Pillow Thief, inspired by my husband John. I haven’t finished these either. One of these days I will publish all of my children’s stories, but until then, I remain inspired.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/strength-and-softness-of-heart-the-cowgirl/Strength and Softness of Heart - The CowgirlMy mom sent me a package in the mail yesterday with a notecard and a soft, cottony navy blue scarf. The billowy scarf was a souvenir from Jackson Hole, and the notecard had a picture of a cowgirl reading a bedtime story to a grizzly bear. My mom had sent me a different cowgirl-themed notecard last week, but I really liked this particular painting and the caption below. The artist is Donna Howell Sickles and the captions are written by Peg Streep.

When I was eight or nine, I decided I wanted to be a cowgirl when I grew up. I didn’t want to have kids, and I wanted to live in Wyoming (or somewhere out West) spending my days on the back of a horse rounding up cattle and sleeping under the starry skies at night. I even had a black t-shirt my parents bought me in Jackson Hole with white lettering on the front that read: “I want to be a cowboy.” I did want to be a cowboy – at least for a few years when I was young.
What I like about this artist and these notecards are the captions, and how Donna Howell Sickles and Peg Streep incorporate myth and spirituality from other cultures, in addition to that of the American West. The caption on the back of this card explains the meaning of the artwork.
“Bedtime Stories”

Stretched out under a starry sky with the fish above her, symbolizing the feminine, the cowgirl reads from the bear’s book of wisdom with its paw print on the cover. The bear is a guardian animal of healing and the maternal but its outstretched claws remind us that it is fierce and wild too. Lying on the checkerboard blanket – an emblem of balance – the cowgirl learns there is a place in life for both strength and softness of heart. 
- Peg Streep

At first glance I thought the cowgirl was lying in bed in her room reading a story to the grizzly bear. I thought the fish was a picture hanging on her bedroom wall. Yet Peg Streep’s caption reads: “Stretched out under a starry sky…” When I looked at the card again, I saw how the cowgirl was lying on a blanket under a starry sky with a grizzly bear and a dog, or possibly a wolf, as companions. I had no idea a fish symbolized the feminine.
What struck me the most was the way every element fit together. The cowgirl is reading from the bear’s book of wisdom, and while the grizzly is fierce and wild, it also protects her. “The cowgirl learns there is a place in life for both strength and softness of heart.” This is so true, and not just for cowgirls! It is true for girls and women everywhere. We must be strong enough to fight for justice, have compassion toward those who are suffering, and the wisdom to know good from evil.
I used to think it was important to be ‘nice’ to everyone. I could not have been more wrong. Being nice is not the same as having compassion and it doesn’t help us fight injustice. Just as the checkerboard blanket is “an emblem of balance,” I have had to find a balance between kindness and courage, between strength and softness of heart.

New Post has been published on http://www.sundancekidonline.com/strength-and-softness-of-heart-the-cowgirl/

Strength and Softness of Heart - The Cowgirl

My mom sent me a package in the mail yesterday with a notecard and a soft, cottony navy blue scarf. The billowy scarf was a souvenir from Jackson Hole, and the notecard had a picture of a cowgirl reading a bedtime story to a grizzly bear. My mom had sent me a different cowgirl-themed notecard last week, but I really liked this particular painting and the caption below. The artist is Donna Howell Sickles and the captions are written by Peg Streep.

strength, softness, heart, cowgirl, dreams, girls, women

When I was eight or nine, I decided I wanted to be a cowgirl when I grew up. I didn’t want to have kids, and I wanted to live in Wyoming (or somewhere out West) spending my days on the back of a horse rounding up cattle and sleeping under the starry skies at night. I even had a black t-shirt my parents bought me in Jackson Hole with white lettering on the front that read: “I want to be a cowboy.” I did want to be a cowboy – at least for a few years when I was young.

What I like about this artist and these notecards are the captions, and how Donna Howell Sickles and Peg Streep incorporate myth and spirituality from other cultures, in addition to that of the American West. The caption on the back of this card explains the meaning of the artwork.

“Bedtime Stories”

Stretched out under a starry sky with the fish above her, symbolizing the feminine, the cowgirl reads from the bear’s book of wisdom with its paw print on the cover. The bear is a guardian animal of healing and the maternal but its outstretched claws remind us that it is fierce and wild too. Lying on the checkerboard blanket – an emblem of balance – the cowgirl learns there is a place in life for both strength and softness of heart. 

- Peg Streep

At first glance I thought the cowgirl was lying in bed in her room reading a story to the grizzly bear. I thought the fish was a picture hanging on her bedroom wall. Yet Peg Streep’s caption reads: “Stretched out under a starry sky…” When I looked at the card again, I saw how the cowgirl was lying on a blanket under a starry sky with a grizzly bear and a dog, or possibly a wolf, as companions. I had no idea a fish symbolized the feminine.

What struck me the most was the way every element fit together. The cowgirl is reading from the bear’s book of wisdom, and while the grizzly is fierce and wild, it also protects her. “The cowgirl learns there is a place in life for both strength and softness of heart.” This is so true, and not just for cowgirls! It is true for girls and women everywhere. We must be strong enough to fight for justice, have compassion toward those who are suffering, and the wisdom to know good from evil.

I used to think it was important to be ‘nice’ to everyone. I could not have been more wrong. Being nice is not the same as having compassion and it doesn’t help us fight injustice. Just as the checkerboard blanket is “an emblem of balance,” I have had to find a balance between kindness and courage, between strength and softness of heart.