Time to prune your inner rose








Time to prune your rose bush!

To promote new growth and lush blossoms in the spring, a rose bush here in California needs to be severely cut back  by February. The pruning is both an art and a science with specific guidelines. Rosarian, Robert Martin says, before pruning, first come up with a plan. Get down on your knees and look at the bud unions and the canes that come from them. Cut away old gray canes with spindly growth. If it’s in the way, cut it away!

But what about the inner rose bush, the rose of the spirit? Could it be time to eliminate your old canes which have dwindling life force and discover the potential growth and beauty in each bud union of your Beingness? Mr Martin says that a rose bush is a tough cookie and can easily withstand heavy pruning, and will thrive because of it.

YOU are also a tough cookie!

This is what I do as a Life Coach. I guide you in the pruning of your spirit rose within. I will be your leather gloves to protect you from the thorns, and I will be your sharpened gardening shears. You can expect to produce healthy new growth and stunning beauty if you’re willing to trim away old growth. Which old canes do you need to cut away now? A relationship? Fears? Inertia? Negative thinking? A job? Poor health habits?

Together, we’ll get down on our knees, have a close look, and come up with a plan. We’ll eliminate old woody growth and select your strong healthy canes that will support the new year’s growth and healthy, fragrant roses.

The rose is a timeless symbol of love. Love yourself enough to cut away what is done and gone. Give yourself room to bloom!

eye bud

Where the hell has Heather been…?


 You might ask, “Where the hell has Heather been of late?”my mother and little me

What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.

Thank you for that thought, Charles Bukowski!
True, right? Life is a series of fires we walk through to test strength of character and personal endurance. We walk through each fire with some degree of Grace, or we don’t.  We’ve all had our share of walking through red hot coals. I’ve had my share, including an actual fire that burned our retail store to the ground back in ’72.

But my most recent fire walk came in the form of caring for and finally the death of an aging mother.  I’m unsure how well I walked through this fire. Many of you have been through that same fire, or you are right now, or will be in the future….

 In the summer of 2014, my mother’s mental and physical abilities diminished drastically making it unsafe to have her and my stepfather alone in their home. Mom could no longer function safely in her beloved kitchen, so we tried Meals on Wheels and bringing in home-cooked dinners. Nothing appealed to their appetites. We hired caretakers to attend to the folks by day, but they were alone at night. That’s when I began to fall asleep each night anxiety-ridden about receiving the call that my mother’d had a medical emergency. Every morning I’d awaken relieved that another night had passed without a call for help.

During that same phase, my stepfather lost his driving privileges and vowed not to take the car anywhere. Then we discovered that every evening at dinner time, the folks were sneak-driving out to a fast food restaurant and hiding the McDonald’s wrappers from us. The risk they took was enormous, but since my mom’s name is Bonnie, we named them “Bonnie and Clyde” and worked even harder to move them to a safe environment.

Since it became apparent that my mom required round-the-clock supervision, assisted living became the only option. With all the work needed to vacate the house and put it on the market to sell, I didn’t realize how difficult it was for my mother to give up her beautiful home and lovely belongings. Along with her antiques, and since Mom was a depression era kid, she kept every plastic bag and rubber band that came her way. What a task! Working with my stepbrother for weeks on end, we filled dumpsters and Deseret trucks.

The assisted living arrangements weren’t the success I’d hoped. My mom found it difficult to interact with fellow residents and participate in social activities because of her mental decline. She misplaced everything. She could no longer style her hair, put together an outfit for church, or keep in touch with old friends. Mom spent hours searching through long-outdated lists of contact information, yearning to be able to connect, but could no longer dial the phone or write a note. Her physical health continued to decline in the assisted living facility during the first year, but the frustrating thing was Mom’s cognitive ability. She could not grasp the simplest concept, nor verbalize to me her personal needs and fears.

My mother died in January of this year at age 90. Dealing with the grief of the loss was overshadowed by two things: the lingering stress caused by my gut wrenching efforts to meet her needs during the time before she died and the residual guilt produced by constantly asking myself after she died, “What else could I have done to make my mom’s last two years easier for her?” I continue to walk through the fire by second-guessing myself and regret.

Walking through this fire gave me a clearer understanding and greater compassion for anyone who is a caretaker for aging parents (or for a family member with special needs). The wear on a caretaker’s body and mind is enormous. Patience wears thin and stress mounts, but that’s why it’s called walking through the fire. My heart goes out to anyone who now has their feet held to the flames in this way.

It’s good to be back. Thanks for listening.

What are the seven things you most cherish?

What Are The Seven Things You Hold Most Dear?

7thingsJoseph Campbell spoke of a ritual during which he had to give up the seven things in his life he most cherished–the things that he felt gave his life true meaning. Campbell described the group experience as an elaborate ceremony which took place in the dark of night and in a cave.

But you don’t need a group or cave to explore the meaningful ritual Campbell experienced; you can carry it out by yourself, in the light of day. Write down on a piece of paper the seven things that you cherish mostly dearly: person, place, thing, activity, belief, etc. These are the things in your life which you think you could not live without. Gather seven small objects to represent each of the cherished things you’ve chosen.

Light a candle and breathe. Then, considering which thing you cherish least of all of your seven, set its symbolic token before the candle. Give away your next, least cherished treasure. Continue on until you are left holding the object which represents the thing you cherish above all and then, give it away.

When I carried out this process for myself, my list of seven cherished things surprised me, but the profundity for me was in observing the last token in my hand representing the one thing I value above all else! I experienced a startling awareness and appreciation for that last treasure I gave away.

Campbell said the ritual was one of the most interesting experiences he’d ever had because, “the order in which you gave up your treasures was revelatory. Watching your earlier bondages go really did change your feeling for the treasures you’d given up. It increased your love for them without the tenacity.”

Honor the things in your life you hold dear without being attached to them.

Practice YES

vibrationalfield                                            Practice YES

                e.e. cummings got it right when he said,

                   i imagine yes is the only living thing

YOU are a field of vibrational energy always expanding or contracting, depending on your attitude and the nature of your thoughts in any given moment. Simply put, when your energy field is contracted in on itself, you are stressed, and when the vibrational frequency increases, you feel better.

You already intuit that certain places, sounds and activities enhance your well-being. You know when to take a deep cleansing breath, go for a walk, do yoga, head for the sea, or dance and sing at the top of your lungs.

Imagine you have a small instrument attached to your inner wrist which measures your vibrational field on a scale of 1-10.  When you’re off pouting or harboring a grudge, the meter reads a 1.5, meaning your energy level at the moment is stagnant and constricted, however when you are enjoying nature or creating art, your field measures close to a ten on the scale. Your chi flows. You feel boundless, endorphins streaming.

Thankfully you can take a deep breath anytime, but you cannot always drop whatever you are doing in search of a peaceful forest or beach.

To increase your vibrational field in the moment without doing anything else you can simply think YES.

When thinking YES, your energy field expands and radiates outward in all directions like the sun: heartbeat relaxes, center of the palms soften, blood pressure lowers. The inner resistance to whatever was in front of you that you judged to be a problem diminishes, and all the energy that worked hard to shore up the resistance is transformed into positive life force or chi. The body energy expresses as acceptance and assuredness.

Say yes to people and circumstances that you might have regarded with a NO:

Yes to the present moment.
Yes to change.
Yes to new challenges.
Yes to being out of your comfort zone.
Yes to crazy-making traffic and lousy neighbors.
Yes to co-workers and customers that drive you nuts.
Yes to to your unborn child.
Yes to young children and grandchildren.
Yes to delays in airports and car trouble and bad weather.
Yes to aging.
Yes to fears and dark feelings.
Yes to life.

A four-part breathing exercise that I’ve used with students and clients for years begins by taking a deep breath in as one repeats silently, I say YES to life. As the breath is retained comfortably for a couple of beats, one affirms ALL MY NEEDS ARE MET. Exhaling…I GIVE BACK MORE THAN I RECEIVE, and in the pause before the next breath in, affirming I DIE TO THIS MOMENT…and then back to the beginning I SAY YES TO LIFE….

Practice YES and life will say YES to you.

Reprogram Emotional and Mental States

Use Hypnosis to Change Your Mind















We all have them — habit patterns formed unconsciously in childhood which later morph into dark forces that sabotage self-confidence as an adult.

How can one bring those dark forces into the light so as to be free now?

The freedom we crave cannot be attained by thinking about the problem. The unwanted emotional and mental habits were formed in the unconscious mind largely by age six, and do not respond to our conscious efforts to change without a lot of hard work.

The thinking mind cannot simply say to the adult self, “I deserve happiness. I don’t want to be afraid anymore.”

You cannot give yourself a pep talk, because deep down, the unconscious mind considers it all bullshit.

And that’s where hypnosis comes in! The little six-year-old within needs to be re-educated through images and positive messages while in the hypnotic state, messages such as: you are safe, you are perfect just as you are, you are loved.

Let’s take that journey toward freedom together. You’ll be guided to breathe and relax the thinking mind, and then we’ll have a conversation with your precious inner child who bought into many unhelpful messages given by others long ago.

100 Things to Fall in Love with in 2105


2015 is the perfect year to fall in love with many things

Fall in love with that spirit you see when you look in the mirror

And with what you sense looking into the eyes of another

Fall in love with broccoli and sprouts and food that is alive

The North Star or any star

Your breathing and all the possibilities in a single breath

Fall in love with:

Walking, hiking and your Holy Sweat

The sound of your weeping

The cool shade of long branches

And holy pools, sacred sites and Saints

st francis







Fall in love with your sleep dreams, your day dreams

Your fire, your aliveness, your essence

Your curiosity, your imagination

and the Present Moment…

Wolves, gorillas and all God’s creatures

And sunlight shining through blue glass



Fall in love with the sound of your laughter, or anyone’s laugh

Your fears and your clenched fists

The new moon and Faith

The Unknown, Knowing and not knowing

The Unknowable, the Unnameable, the Infinite

Snails, slugs and other bugs

Birds in silhouette

Your dog’s unbounded devotion


The teacher who lives in every stone


Fall in love with unexpected breezes

Your failures, your longings

Fall in love with the faces of the very, very old ones

With Silence and your avoidance of silence

Your loneliness, your aloneness

Your dark secrets

Your naked self

Your aging body

Your shame, your tenderness, your strength

The power of forgiveness and the times you cannot forgive

Your unquenched thirst

The anguish in your love

Fall in love with the mystery of the brain and the Ocean of the Mind

Red shoes, your feet and bare feet

Books, fairy tales and poetry

Hugs and your need for the touch of another

The promise of spring, the dead of winter, the seasons and change

Your fear of change

The impermanence of all things

Your heart, your heartstrings, your wounded heart

       The Holy One

Fall in love with the pink light of dawn, the dark of night

Silvery old pine cones, the forests floor and fallen oaks












A brown leaf gliding on water

A white feather floating on the sea

Fall in love with magic and miracles and numinous things

2015 is the time to fall in love with your love story, your journey and every step that brought you to the now, as you fall in love with joy, gratitude, and your own good heart.

Close your eyes, fall in love, stay there. – Rumi

 Happy New Year! Leave your comment so I can fall in love with it. Heather

My Favorite Place is Inside Your Hug

I have learned that there is more power in a good strong hug than in a thousand meaningful words.


Practice this hugging meditation with a friend and you’ll discover that all of your embraces will then have more heart and meaning for you and others.

What you will need to perform this six-breath hugging meditation with a partner:

  • two warm and willing bodies
  • caring intention
  • curious eyes
  • smiles
  • the breath!
  • your magic words

Three simple steps to this six-breath hugging meditation with a friend:

1. Bow. Facing each other, inhale and on your exhale, bow to one another. Do this two more times mindfully with the breath. Look at your friend’s sweet face.

2. Hug tight. Embrace each other and inhale/exhale taking three more breaths.

3. Silently say your magic words. Step apart now and silently send this message to the one in front of you, “You are precious to me. I am sorry I haven’t been more mindful and considerate. I’ve made mistakes. Allow me to begin anew. Love me. I love you.”

More and better hugs create unique connections between people and make everyone feel better and less alone. After the giving and receiving of a hug, the body releases oxytocin which is one of the feel good hormones.

For an enlightening lecture on the importance of oxytocin to our sense of humanity and well-being, click here: Paul Zak’s TED talk on Trust, Morality — and Oxytocin? 
                                               Zak suggests in this talk:
Dr Love
Oxytocin connects us to other people. Oxytocin makes us feel what other people feel. And it’s so easy to cause people’s brains to release oxytocin. I know how to do it, and my favorite way to do it is, in fact, the easiest. Let me show it to you. Come here. Give me a hug. So my penchant for hugging other people has earned me the nickname Dr. Love. I’m happy to share a little more love in the world, it’s great, but here’s your prescription from Dr. Love: eight hugs a day. We have found that people who release more oxytocin are happier. And they’re happier because they have better relationships of all types. Dr. Love says eight hugs a day. Eight hugs a day — you’ll be happier and the world will be a better place.

Not everyone cares for hugs, but research shows that babies require touch in order to thrive as infants, and I believe we still need to hug tight often as adults. What do you think?

Don’t Wait Until You’re in a Blue Funk to Do This

Don’t wait until you’re in a blue funk to do this. Practice now and it will come back to you when you most need it. Remember, your natural state is one of joy!

This exercise should be quick and simple, so don’t fall into a “trying too hard” mode with the process.

A Three Minute Process to Climb Out of a BLUE FUNK and Reclaim Your Joy


On a piece of paper list five pleasant memories, but be brief; use only one or two words that will help you recall the moment.

You must have many wonderful memories from the past, but choose ones that left you with rich and uplifted feelings such as pure amazement, unbounded gratitude or feelings of being loved or safe. Don’t pick a moment in time that was in any way encumbered with dark feelings or emotions, but don’t anguish over creating your list of five pleasant memories either!

One of my personal memories could be one from long ago when I’d just moved up to Forest Falls. I sat alone one morning on the deck of a coffee house drinking a latte. Surrounded by huge pines and mountain blue sky, I sensed a hint of fall in the breeze and that all was right in my world. Another memory might be the first time I drove a car on the Autopia ride at Disneyland when the park first opened back in ’55. I felt free, exhilarated and empowered. I remember it well.


I repeat. Don’t take a lot of time creating your list. Simple moments of pleasure….

Now, keep your paper handy so you can peek at it during the process if needed, and close your eyes.

Invite one of the five memories into your mind’s eye, noting any small details: faces, touch, sights and sounds, and the good feeling you had at the time, then overlay that with another memory. Continue merging the memories one after the other. As I said, glance at your list if you’ve forgotten what you’ve written down.

Let your vision of the stacked memories become blurred as if you were trying to recall a pleasant dream. One detail of one memory may surface only to recede and be replaced by another. You’re not re-evaluating or re-doing that moment in time. Don’t force anything, just play for about one minute. Then let it all go, open your eyes and notice how you feel.

Don’t wait for just the right pen, paper and moment to do this. Practice now. I recently guided my granddaughter through this exercise, and then asked her how she felt. “I feel all giggly,” was what she said.

Giggly is good.

12 Ways to Keep Your Household Spirit Happy

Your Household Spirit supports your well-being, but don’t piss him off!

If you’re searching everywhere for the last stamp you knew you had, or a sewing needle you just set down for one second, or your car keys are missing again, chances are the Household Spirit that resides in your home is responsible for the funny business. If you keep your Household Spirit happy, you will have a happy house.

What is the name of your Household Spirit?

What is the name of your Household Spirit?

The Care and Feeding of Your Household Spirit so You Can Have a Happy House

1. Your Household Spirit requires a proper name, but not a common one. No Freds or Bobs. The spirit living in your home prefers one-of-a-kind names: Apple Heart, Laoghaire or Zephaniah. He’s okay with a nickname as long as you never forget his true name.

2. The Household Spirit living in your home deserves your respect. Don’t expect to see him around, although you may have glimpsed him out of the corner of your eye or noted the results of his mischievousness when he is out of sorts.

3. The devoted Spirit of your home loves snacks intended just for him, so set out a few red M&M’s or salted peanuts in the shell.

4. He likes it when you remain connected to every square inch of your house, and if you are well-connected and attentive to your space, he will keep the energy flowing that supports a happy house.

5. Your Household Spirit is okay with dust and dog hair, but not so much with clutter. When subjected to clutter, he will hide things from you, and you’ll never find that receipt, letter or heirloom ring.

6. He’s also not crazy about too many framed photos of the deceased around a home. Although he is an ancient soul himself, he likes to keep things fresh and alive!

7. And that’s why he works best to keep your home humming along when you move your decorative objects around often and give away things you really don’t like.

8. He also loves well-cared for house plants, generous splashes of color, winged or four-legged pets, and he prefers all broken things be fixed.

9. Your Household Spirit likes lots of light streaming through the windows by day and everything totally dark by night.

10. He is very sensitive to sounds and will act up if he hears the TV blaring for too many hours. He loves the sound of children’s laughter and most music, but the thing that peeves him is the sound of folks in the home criticizing one another.

11. He appreciates books to a certain extent, but he gets impatient with too many or a lot of silly books that will never be read.

12. Your Household Spirit loves things that smell pleasant such as incense and scented candles and becomes ill-humored if the kitchen trash builds up or too many dirty clothes are left around. This will turn Household Spirit into a trickster and you’ll need to watch out for the plumbing in your house.

Your Household Spirit can be a scoundrel, but if you nurture every corner of your home and the Spirit who dwells within as well, appliances will function, nothing will be misplaced, visitors will feel relaxed in your home and you will feel more in balance, creative and alive.

Your home is a mirror of your inner life. That’s your Household Spirit’s sole purpose: to help your home reflect your beautiful soul and also to encourage your own sacred spirit be nourished within the walls of your personal sanctuary–your home.

Note: The Household Spirit is not the overseer of your yard. Other devas, sprites and gnomes are in charge of your garden.

How do you tend to the care and feeding of the indwelling Spirit in your home?

5 Healing Phrases to Express to the Dying

 Sitting alone in the desert mountains preparing to die….

ghostdanceEven after four days of intense initiation at base camp, I may not have have been ready to sit on the side of a mountain alone for five days, with only sleeping bag and water, and prepare to die.

But I’d bought the ticket for this twelve-day wilderness experience and shown up with good intentions. I prepared to die to everything and everybody in my life.

What is dying? Dying is the ultimate agent of transformation, but in modern culture we lack the rituals and meaningful rites of passage ceremonies to help us die with conscious awareness and fearless courage. Indigenous cultures offered death and dying rituals to their people, but today we have no customs to “practice” dying. We’d much prefer not think or talk about death at all.

The intense hunger brought on by fasting was not the hard part of the ordeal for me, and neither was being totally alone. I felt safe sleeping out under the stars. The Inyo Mountains (Paiute word for dwelling Place of a Great Spirit) are east of the Sierras and share a border with Death Valley; the weather can be brutally hot by day and freezing at night. Rattlesnakes and scorpions abound, and the occasional bear or mountain lion roam. At a 7000 foot elevation and with a rugged terrain of rocks, junipers and pinions, these desert mountains are often hit with sudden lightening storms which is the biggest danger of all.

The aloneness, hunger, and physical risk were not so tough, but what I found formidable was this fear-provoking question; “What if nothing happens for me?” In other words, what if I return from the vision fast the same old person: afraid to live and afraid to die? (What DID happen for me on the mountain is grounds for another blog post.)

The Death Lodge. I was given instructions by the guides beforehand as to the steps to follow during each of the five days fasting alone, one of which was to build a death lodge. Day Two of the fast was to be spent sitting within this sacred circle that I constructed out of rocks, sticks, leaves and feathers: a place to review one’s life and where loved ones could come and say goodbye.

The guides suggested that with each important person in our life, we use these parting words from the ho’oponopono tradition in Polynesian cultures (and some hospice programs) to say farewell:

Please forgive me
I forgive you
I love you
Thank you

The act of saying goodbye to family and friends took me many hours. With each individual I love or have ever loved, I said the words aloud to each and imagined him or her offering the words back to me in my symbolic rite of passage of death.

There’s little one can offer the dying except for our loving presence. Words fail us because of our own conditioned fear of death.

These five phrases are both healing and freeing. I recommend you commit them to memory so you can be prepared to use them when someone you love is ready to cross over. The words are best expressed aloud, but the dying individual need not be conscious to hear them. I’ve had the privilege of using these powerful phrases only twice in real life since being introduced to them, but I know the words ease wounded hearts and generate forgiveness between two people when one of the two is near death.

Now I say these words to you: please forgive me, I forgive you, I love you, thank you. Goodbye.

But it’s not really goodbye–I’ll be back real soon.