Friday, December 11, 2015


A few days ago, I stopped at a local sporting goods store because we were already in need of new gloves for the season.  It seems even without the amount of snow and cold we normally have, a mitten had mysteriously gone missing. 

I pulled into the lot and waited in the car for just a bit because, after dropping off my children at school, I had arrived a few minutes before the store was scheduled to open.  As I sat and patiently listened to the radio, I noticed a turkey just outside the entrance of the store, and it was acting in a peculiar fashion.

He (I assumed it was a tom but honestly don’t know that much about turkeys) was walking— no, actually strutting –back and forth in front of the glass entrance doors.  Every once in awhile he would fan his tail feathers out to advertise fantastic plumage and then jump at the door, with an extra hop and skip thrown in for good measure.

I thought he was a crazy bird—why on earth would he spend his time in front of a store?  Weren’t there many other important turkey things he could be doing?

The time of the store opening approached, so I did too.  As I walked up to the front doors, I could see both his and my reflection in the glass door that now slid open as I got closer.  I wondered for a minute if he was going to be chased indoors with my presence.  He graciously moved out of the way, having no interest in the hunting and fishing equipment just inside.  It dawned on me that, when he saw himself in the reflection I had spied from my new perspective just before I entered, he thought his likeness was that of another male bird.  Being the tom he was, he was ready to fight this perceived competition. 

I found the gloves I needed, wishing that instead of just being waterproof they could be drop-proof.  At the register while I paid, I mentioned the turkey to the store clerk, saying it surprised me he did not get chased in as the door opened for me.  She assured me that never happened and went on to say that he is out there about the same time every morning.

Driving away, I wondered about my reflection and myself.  How often do I see myself reflected in other people around me, and how often am I ready to fight that reflection?  I may not be fighting in a physical way, but definitely in a mental or emotional sense.  How often, day after day, do I have the same disagreements with others about issues that I’ve projected onto them—the reflection of my own inner struggles played out with them, and they with me? 

Yoga is a practice.  Energy work is a practice.  I can only hope that I continue practicing a new angle, a new perspective from which to see my relationships because I’m not so sure the other person(s) needs to be involved.  I might just be jumping and ruffling up my tail feathers at my own reflection—at myself.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Natural Health Fair
Presented by BEGIN
70 E. County Rd. B, Saint Paul, MN 55117

Program Schedule -- Saturday, October 18, 2014

10:00 – 10:30           Practitioner/Vendor Exhibits Open– Receive Various Therapies

10:30 – 11:15           1st Breakout Session or Receive Various Therapies
                                    Paul Ratte - Beyond Nutritionism
                                    Kamala Stalboerger – Transformative Power of Yoga 
                                    & Energy Work
Holistic Gateway & Shen Men – Colorpuncture and Esogetic Procedures
Mary Rutherford - Soul Retrieval, what the process entails, who needs one and why
Hart & Soul - Cleansing Chakras with Aromatherapy
Ariel Hansen – NadaChair back support system

11:15 – 11:30           Practitioner/Vendor Exhibits Open– Receive Various Therapies

11:30 – 12:30            2nd Breakout Session or Receive Various Therapies
                                    Laura Sanden – Herbal First Aid                           
Dr. Brad Montagne - Lyme Disease - Overcoming The Diagnostic Dilemma & Proving The Right Treatment Before You Begin
Northwestern Academy of Homeopathy - Homeopathy for Flu and other seasonal illnesses
Health Centered Dentistry - Whole Person Dentistry: An Introduction to Holistic Dentistry
Enlightened Wellness – Can Reiki Healing Therapy Help Me? &  What is Rolfing Therapy?

12:30 – 1:00              Practitioner/Vendor Exhibits Open– Receive Various Therapies

1:00 – 3:00                Keynote Speaker – Katina Makris, Lyme Disease: The 
                                                                 Epidemic of Our Time

3:00 – 3:15                Practitioner/Vendor Exhibits Open– Receive Various Therapies

3:15 – 4:00                3rd Breakout Session or Receive Various Therapies
                                    Paula Quinlan - Lyme Disease...A Spiritual Journey
Laura SandenHerbal Aphrodisiacs
                                    Paul Ratte – Beyond Nutritionism
                                    Angela England – Young Living Oils & Massage Therapy

                                    Laura Whitley - Benefits of Homebirth to Mom and Baby

Friday, October 10, 2014

Natural Health Fair coming up soon!

Join Begin for a Natural Health Fair on Saturday, October 18th from 10-4pm held at Minnesota Waldorf School 70 E. County Rd. B, Saint Paul, MN 55117.

Keynote speaker will be Katina Makris, trained Classical Homeopath, Certified Intuitive Healer, and author of "Out of the Woods: Healing From Lyme Disease - Mind, Body, and Spirit".   Ms. Makris will be presenting her inspirational talk at 1pm about Lyme prevention, diagnostics, and hope in recovering from this epidemic disease.

There will also be approximately 20 more natural health care practitioners on hand throughout the day to provide complementary healing sessions and seminars that are both educational and useful.  Stay tuned for a program schedule!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Ohana Means Family: Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.

The first day I met Pops, my two girls, ages 13 and 7, and I were walking from our hotel in the city to a restaurant nearby.  He was at the corner of Robinson and Main St with his paper cup, the kind you'd get a Coke in from a fountain dispenser at the Zoo or hotdog stand something.  The kind of cup that fountain soda is dispensed into- sturdy and kind of waxy.  We dug in my purse for some change and left him with approximately a dollar worth of pennies, nickels, and dimes.  I only had 20s for bills and didn't want to part with those.  I felt awkward though. He most likely could see the green bills that were shoved in my purse haphazardly, and notice that I wasn’t reaching for those.   
He was standing right next to us, and I could smell the smoke on him.  I wasn't sure if it was stale cigarette smoke I smelled or if it was from a cigar.  He was about six inches shorter than me with dark, chocolate colored skin, a knee brace on his thin right leg, a worn looking wood cane in his right hand, and he wore a baseball cap.  I don't recall if there was a team logo on it, but it was well worn and a mixture of blue and white.  
I dropped the change in his cup and we crossed Robinson before the thought occurred that we were going to eat- perhaps he'd like join us.  I asked the girls, who immediately agree, and I quickly scurried back across Robinson.  
"We're on our way to have breakfast," I explained. "Would you like to join us?"
"Oh," he said hesitantly.  The image came to mind of how it would look to the staff at a fine dining establishment if I showed up, a white middle aged woman with two young girls who were clean and well dressed, with Pops, a beggar who may or may not be homeless but was certainly recognizable to everyone in the downtown area as a regular on the street corners.  
"I got a sandwich in here for my lunch," he said as he motioned to the plastic bag he carried in the same hand as his cane.  I nodded, not certain if I should say more and point out that he could have his sandwich later.  
I told him I'd see him later and hurried to catch up with the girls who were still waiting for me across the street.  I told them he declined, and we continued to the restaurant on the corner.  
I was thinking about him though, the entire time we were there.  As I added cream to my chai tea for richness, I wondered when was the last time he had the luxury of adding cream in his coffee.  Would he think that a luxury? Was he really doing all right and just scamming by begging, when in reality he had everything he needed?  On the other hand, did he sleep outside at night?  My imagination went wild pondering homelessness in our 'rich' country and how the people who pass them by on a daily basis, myself included, don't seem to notice.  Or we notice and give a few bucks.  Does that assuage our guilt?  Have we then done all we could do?  I can't take care of every person I see on streets corners can I?  Who is responsible for these people and this situation and what can be done about it?
The second day we came across Pops is actually the day I learned his name and introduced the girls and myself.  He smiled and told me that Kamala was an interesting name.  
"It's Indian," I answered, "it means lotus blossom or the opening heart."
"What tribe are you from?" was his reply with a smile on his face.  After telling him I wasn't part of a tribe, he asked me what color his eyes were.  I told him they we dark, but I was having a hard time seeing them.  They were bright and clear and seemed to be reflecting the light of everything around us.  
"Blue," he said, "they're blue.   I'm fritz-creole.  My daddy was from Louisiana.  My great-great-great grandmother was Caucasian.  I have apache blood and I'm also African American."  I laughed and told him that was an interesting mixture, that he IS the great American melting pot.  He chuckled and said he was a mutt. 
I invited him to come with us for ice cream, but he again declined, saying that he was working on getting a sandwich.  
As I opened my purse today, I noticed the sparse amount of change in his cup and gave him some bills to get his lunch.  I felt easier about giving- more than I had yesterday.  There was a familiarity that I felt now that I hadn't before, yet what did I really know?  The personal interaction we'd shared wasn't of much depth, at least anything tangible.  I didn't know much more about him now than I had the day before.  The familiarity might have just been from seeing him, interacting with him, previously- about asking him to join us yesterday, which in itself open the door to knowing more about one another on a deeper level.  
I had a desire to know more about him and his life, how he lived, what was wrong with the world and our society (according to my standards) that resulted in some people being left behind.  I mean, what about the American dream?  What about 'Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness'?  Is that story just a myth?  Does the fairy tale only come true for some people?  What does it take to have the 'American Dream'?  To keep it?  What is it like from the perspective of the haves vs. the have nots and vice versa?  Is the American dream still what it used to be?  The manifest destiny has been to conquer, expand, and have more-- to have a house and a yard, a pet, a family, the ability to buy a car or two...the ability to buy.  That's what it is.  The American dream is all about ones ability to buy desirable things.  Isn't that what the emphasis of life is?  The newest technology or you're left behind, gadgets and gizmos for the house and yard- the list never ends.  Does the American dream have more to do with 'stuff' than it does with personal contact or how we treat people?  In what ways are we, as consumers, directed to act toward one another?  Competitors or allies?
         After asking what was wrong with his knee, why he wore that brace, he told me he needs a surgery.  He's putting it off though, he explained, on account that he just wasn't ready to do it yet. He assured me he could, at any time, go into any of the local hospitals and they'd take care of him.  I'm not so sure I believed that, but I didn't press him any further on what exactly his ailment was.  Again, my mind crept into the territory of cynicism.  Was he wearing a brace to elicit sympathy from passersby?  Was it part of the beggars ‘costume’ if you will, appearing woefully in need?  I'd never know.  
Next, he asked me how old I thought he was.  Dang.  There's nothing I'm worse at than guessing a persons age.  You know what I mean, right?  The fear.  Not wanting to guess too high and insult someone, nor too low and appear foolish.  Two ages came to mind as I gazed at his moderately wrinkled face and the whitening bits of his short curly-haired beard, 56 and 63.  I erred on the low side.  Of course, he accused me of calling him an old man to give me a hard time first and then shared that he is 73.  Truly surprised, I told him he looks much too spry to be that old.  As he laughed again, I took in the merriment and ease he seemed to have about life.  Once more, I wondered about his life and the source of what sustains his joy.
He told us to have a good time and thanked me for the money.  Told me he was truly blessed to run into us again.  I know we were just as fortunate. 
The more I thought about him over the course of that day and evening, the more I wanted to know.  He must have stories of his life that are fascinating, whatever his living situation.  Even if there wasn't anything I can do to change the situation of his life or the hundreds thousands of others like him in the U.S., I could listen to stories of his life.  
Third consecutive day and just my little one and I were walking downtown.  When he saw us, he broke into a grin, his dark skin a stark contrast to his white smile, which had a few spaces in it.  As we approached, I could hear him softly saying, "I know you.  I know you."  
"Hey there, Pops," I said, "how're you doing today?"
"Oh, I'm ok.  Strugglin, though.  I had lunch earlier, but I'm looking for something later on this evening."
         As I opened my purse, I mentioned how a man like him must have quite a few stories about life to share.  
"Oh, I got one or two," with a smile. 
"Could we get a cup of coffee?  I'd sure love to hear one."
"Aw, baby girl, I tell you what.  Next time I see y'all we'll sit down and I'll tell a story.  Right now I've got to keep moving, but next time I promise you," and he gave me his hand to shake on it.  

The image of baby kitties came to mind.  I grew up on a farm and there were often litters of kittens in at least one corner of the hay loft.  We weren't able to get too close to them right off.  They took some time to warm up to us, hissin' and spittin' if we moved faster than they were comfortable with us.  Perhaps this is what a relationship with Pops would be like.  I can see finding out about him taking a while- probably with less hissin’ though.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Coming to Terms With My Validity as a Unique Individual at the Aquarium

Recently I took my children to Sea Life Minnesota Aquarium at the Mall of America.  As we walked through, touching starfish and sea anemones, watching sharks get fed, I noted the difference in each animal’s ability or approach to aquatic life.  The rays, gosh, they just glide through the water with barely a flick of their fins.  It’s weird to even call them fins because they don’t look like what I think of as fins, I mean, sharks – now they have fins.  Or sunfish that I take off fishing lines in the summer, those are fins – I’ve felt the business side of them before.  But rays are so smooth and their fins are shaped differently than any other sea creature.  They're just, rays, I guess, but they aren’t what I’d call typical fins.  They’re different.  Even watching them eat was different from the others.  They could sort of trap food between themselves and the glass of the tunnel we were in and, without fingers or arms or even moving their mouths to the food, they were able to wiggle around and quick as a wink, scarf up their squid delicacy. 

One of the girls was watching the sawfish trying to beat out a turtle, maneuvering in some pretty tight corners, and she commented that it must be difficult to learn to get around with that nose.  It’s so huge, she thought, it must bump into things a lot at first, learning to exist.  

I wondered about that.  Maybe it’s like going from driving a Honda Civic to driving a station wagon or a Suburban.  That takes some getting used to, but if that’s how sawfish are when they are young, do you think they have to learn to be how they are?  Wouldn’t they just BE?  Similar to, does a fish realize that it’s in water?  Or does that realization only happen once they are out of water?  What is so close, what is reality for so long, is not thought of by the person or fish as odd or weird, is it?  Not until it’s compared to others?  Until they see a difference.  
I’m saying water to a fish is like my thought patterns to myself.  It’s hard to gain perspective when they are so close to me.  It’s not until I learn from other people what their thought processes/behaviors are that I’m able to see mine as being uniquely my own.  It's in that moment that I am given the chance to accept who I am in the world.
After our wandering through the ocean tunnel of this underwater world was coming to a close, I again looked at the differences of these creatures that all live their life in water.  Similar yet different.  I contemplated whether or not there was rivalry in the water.  What if there was competition, cliques in sea life?  The eels lamenting over how long they are compared to the turtles.  Those interesting fish with the bump on their forehead- are they ever self-conscious about it?  What if, after being told that bump-free foreheads are desirable, they were offered a no-bump cream to remove the unsightly lump, would they take it?  If eels could be rid of that creepy green wrinkled skin, would they change how they look?  Perhaps becoming more vibrant colors like, say, a clown fish.  Maybe the sea turtles are snobby and look down on the mere painted turtles.  Is there a possibility of marine bullying?

Entertaining these thoughts and how ridiculous it seems for these trivial matters to plague the animal kingdom, I’m curious how it happens so easily for humans.  To feel inferior because of someone else’s more shapely or lean body, financial situation, occupation, sexual orientation, or the kind of car they drive seems a little foolish with this awareness.  
Wouldn’t it be nice if all beings would be secure in the knowledge that our life is valid and perfect no matter where it lands on the line of continuum?  That, no matter how I live my life and the choices I make, there is no need to justify my existence.  That I don’t need recognition from anyone else to validate my right to be alive and exist as an individual.  That by having been created- being here, in this space, at this time- is all the substantiation that has ever been needed.  That ever will be needed.  It’s no longer negotiable. 
What would the world look like if I were able to see others as different and not feel threatened by that difference but embrace it?  Understanding that “them” being who they are makes me who I am?  Ahhh…the ability to embrace such beauty.  Such perfection.