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The Gift of Clarity… from Big Sister

2 Jul

Christine Mason Miller

My birthday was last month and my big sister Marisa couldn’t get up here to celebrate. She was busy getting ready for a business trip and preparing for a big trip to Puerto Rico with her family. I miss her sometimes, but I’m glad that I have an amazing group of  “sisters” that I meet with once a week to talk about matters of the heart and soul.

This week we talked about the power of meditation and prayer, as well as the definition of happiness. Is happiness the same thing as joy, gratitude, authenticity? We wrote about it a bit and there was a magical consensus of sorts. Happiness is about a return to your true self, and the power of that self exists in each moment. Wherever you are.

So yesterday my father delivered a present from my sister. It’s an art collage with writing created by Christine Mason Miller. It reads:

“The deepest joy exists in those rare instances of CLARITY when there is no wanting, no yearning, no clinging to some idealized life we believe exists somewhere other than exactly where we are.”

I love it when themes emerge. Don’t you?

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with Varla Ventura, author of “The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories”

2 Jul

bizarreJust had a fun conversation with author Varla Ventura on Soul Lab Radio about The Book of the Bizarre: Freaky Facts and Strange Stories which has thirteen chapters including Something Wicked: Mysterious Objects & Haunted Homes and Morbid Writers and Tortured Artists: From Edgar Allan Poe to Vincent Van Gogh.  Other topics in the book range from Strange Rock and Roll Stories, Medical Maladies, Conspiracy Theories, Superstitions, Hexes and even UFOs.

So what’s in the book? Did you know duck dander is hallucinogenic? Or that Katherine Hepburn had a phobia of dirty hair? Have you ever wondered about the Magickal Skull of Doom or contemplated the mysterious Transylvanian Tablets? Varla has gathered a veritable treasure trove of startling and stranger-than-fiction trivia that spans history, continents, even worlds.

We also got into some of the weird stories and I was particularly interested in a chapter called “Coincidences or Synchronicity?” Then we launched into a discussion about psychic awareness and children. Varla was introduced to the strange and unusual at a young age. Her first game was a Ouija board, and family picnics in cemeteries were common outings. She spent most of her formative years exploring graveyards, underground tunnels, and abandoned mansions in, around, and under Nevada City, California. She is the author of Sheroes and Wild Women Talk About Love. Varla currently lives in the attic of an 1890’s Victorian in the hills of San Francisco, with her cat Midnight. Of course, Halloween is her favorite holiday.

Soul Lab Radio: Scott Blum, Daily OM founder and author of “Waiting for Autumn”

25 Jun

ScottBlumSometimes when I do a radio interview, thirty minutes seems like just the right amount of time to get to the bottom of something. Today was not one of those days. I wish my interview with Scott Blum about his new novel Waiting for Autumn could have gone on for another hour. But alas, even in thirty minutes, I managed to learn a thing or two. Specifically, we got to the heart of why intuition should be relied upon for life’s big decisions, instead of intellect. We also dicussed the dynamics of shamanic soul retrieval and what inspired him to write this novel in the first place.

Scott is the co-founder of DailyOM– one of the premiere on-line destinations for non-denominational inspirational content, products and courses from some of today’s best-selling authors and luminaries. But before that, Scott was a pioneer in the interactive Internet entertainment industry where he was one of the first American Nintendo programmers and eventually entered the music business producing Peter Gabriel’s critically acclaimed “Eve” CD-ROM. He then founded and was president of iMusic in 1995 and has worked with bands including Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Smashing Pumpkins, No Doubt, and Ben Harper.

In 2004 Scott and his wife Madisyn Taylor founded DailyOM (www.dailyom.com) after wanting to merge their personal interests in spirituality with their professional lives.

In “Waiting for Autumn” we follow the inquisitive main character, Scott, as he finds himself in a parking lot in Ashland, OR where he meets a cardboard sign-toting homeless man named Robert— who would soon become Scott’s spiritual navigator and guide. In the tradition of novels like The Alchemist and The Celestine Prophecy, “Waiting for Autumn” is about a man embarking on a spiritual awakening and attempting to heal his past by confronting the spirit of his dead fiancée, learning the power of nature, exploring the spirit plane, and discovering the power of universal laws.

Download the first three chapters for free…

Supercool Blogs That You Should Read

19 Jun

People have been asking me lately which blogs I really love to read. I know I need to mention these guys more, but here you have it. Here is a list of blogs and other stuff I dig– similar content to Soul Lab, but also very unique indeed.

Idol Chatter on Beliefnet.com combines the latest pop culture news with sort of a spiritual spin on TJI_REV-RUNthings. Yes, it totally makes sense. Recent posts have talked about stupid antics that Christians on reality shows have been caught doing (yeah, we’re talking about you Speidi); The Jon & Kate Plus 8 dilemma asking readers to share heartfelt advice– remember this is Beliefnet, not E! News; and an enlightening post on the 10 most inspiring celebrities using Twitter in positive ways… from Rev Run to Paulo Coehlo.

On YogaJournal.com, there are a couple of areas to check out. First, let me just say that I absolutely do not do Yoga (I’ve tried– Lord I’ve tried), but I probably will some day again and I really like the idea of it. So, what the hell, I get into Yoga Journal when I can. Check out the Yoga Buzz blog and you’ll find posts about Janice Dickinson trying to find natural laxatives in the jungle on an episode of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!” Then there’s the hysterical web series, “Ogden: The Inappropriate Yoga Guy.” Check it out:

rainn-wilson-the-rocker1Spearheaded by Rainn Wilson, Soul Pancake is an uniquely cool site where life’s big questions are just put right out there for spiritually-minded hipsters (or seeksters as I prefer calling them) to dicsuss. There is a great emphasis on the relationship between spirituality and creativity which I appreciate. A recent post asks the question, “Is fear learned or inherent?” accompanied by a video of Spike Jonze trying to freak out his son by wearing a prop head from his latest movie, Where the Wild Things Are (coming out in October). I have to say that the quality of the comments in response to some of these questions is refreshingly thoughtful on the most part. In another post, the question is posed, “Are you a social chameleon” trying to understand the concept of putting on various personas to meet the expectations of variety of audiences in one’s life (I talk about this in another earlier post). They showed this cool video with that question:

Soul Lab Radio: Interview with “The God Theory” author Bernard Haisch, PhD

18 Jun

bernardhaischI spoke with Bernard Haisch, Ph.D. this morning on Soul Lab Radio regarding his latest book, The God Theory. Haisch is an astrophysicist, author of over 130 scientific publications, and was a scientific editor of the Astrophysical Journal for ten years. His professional positions include staff scientist at the Lockheed Martin Solar and Astrophysics Laboratory, deputy director of the Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, and visitingGod Theory scientist at the Max-Planck-Institute for Extraterrestial Physics in Garching, Germany. He was also editor-in-chief of the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Prior to his career in astrophysics, Haisch attended the Latin School of Indianapolis and the St. Meinrad Seminary as a student for the Catholic priesthood.

He writes: “I offer a genuine insight into how you can, and should, be a rational, science-believing human being and at the same time know that you are also an immortal spiritual being, a spark of God. I propose a worldview that offers a way out of the hate and fear-driven violence engulfing the planet.”

Soul Lab Radio: Orion Foxwood, author of “The Tree of Enchantment: Ancient Wisdom and Magic Practices of the Faery Tradition

16 Jun

Tree of EnchantmentJust did a really fascinating interview with author Orion Foxwood. We covered Orion Foxwoodeverything from what faery seership is, to how connecting with nature can heal the world. Orion is an Elder in the Celtic and Romano Celtic Traditional Craft, a High Priest in Alexandrian tradition and is the Founding Elder of the Foxwood Temple of the Old Religion. He is co-director of the Moonridge Center, a land based nature sanctuary and mystical educational center located in Maryland. He holds a Master of Human Services degree and is a Licensed Professional Counselor. He is a traditional Faery Seer and has taught these practices as well as psychic development, American Southern folk magic and traditional Craft for nearly 20 years. You’ll never think the same way about faeries ever again…

Cool Gift Guide… for the Eclectic, Spiritual, Pop Culture Geek

16 Jun

I know it’s been a couple of weeks since turning the big 4-0, but I was going through some gifts and– wow– my friends and family really, really know me. Here is just a sampling of some great gifts you might consider getting the eclectic, bookish, silly friend in your life.

gnomeThis fun little Gnome Away From Home is perfect for a desk shrine, cake topper or cat companion, and compact enough to take with you on a trip. He’s so tiny, I think it’s actually lifesize, for real. He even comes with his own stylish suitcase and all the right international papers to travel with. Particularly appropriate if you’re writing about Gnomes (which I am)! (Thanks, Nettie)

Sticking with the mystical theme, I also received a set of Angel Cards (r) which is a 72-card set of illustrations with special, guiding words on them originallyangelcards_sml-1 designed by members of the Findhorn community for their Transformation Game (r). Yes, it all sounds very serious and stealthy, but these are small, charming little cards that direct the seeker to encourage meditation and reflection on themes from  wisdom to simplicity. (Thanks, Sonya)

Meditations from a Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman and William Thetford is an elegant and beautiful companion to A Course in Miracles published by the Foundation for Inner Peace. I love picking this up and randomly flipping to any page to get some wonderful guidance. Here goes… “On the lack of necessity for fear: All aspects of fear are untrue because they do not exist on the creative level, and therefore do not exist at all.” Page 140… true dat.   (Thanks, Fritz)

votivoAlways an awesome gift for anyone, anytime… Votivo candles. I was so thrilled to get the Mandarine candle. It’s citrus scent is light and fresh, and not perfumy at all. Nothing overwhelming about it… just a pleasing glow, a simple container and a relaxing aroma. It comes in a gorgeous gift box and makes a thoughtful, lasting gift. (Thanks, Renee)

Me likey Alamo Drafthouse Gift Cards so, so much. This is my favorite movie theater in Austin. And I used it right away to go see UP which was fantastic. I was crying within the first ten minutes– in a good way. Fabulous, must-see movie, so get to it. At the disneys-up-2Alamo you always get cool, retro film footage before the show. We were lucky enough to get to see a very blonde, very leggy Nancy Sinatra sing “Up, Up and Away” as she (seemingly) navigated a hot air balloon all by herself as happy white trousered/mini-skirted dancers frolicked in the meadow below. And then you get dinner. I had a $5 milkshake (thank you, Pulp Fiction). Great evening. (Thanks, Rachel)

And, of course, the requisite gag gift. Yes, I am 40 now… and that is hysterical. Right? So what do I get? A 40 oz. Mickey’s Malt Liquor which will quietly sit among the jumbo jar of salsa, the organic peanut butter and the Goddess dressing until something horrible happens… like a blackout or the end of the world. (Thanks, Scott)

darshan DVDAnd one of my favorite gifts was the DVD Darshan: The Embrace, a French documentary on Amma. Amma is internationally known as “the hugging saint.” Originally from a very poor Indian village, she has emerged as a major humanitarian figure who has literally hugged over 23 million people worldwide. Her foundation has distributed tens of millions of dollars for hospitals, housing, food, educational programs and more. Such an inspiring and beautiful shot film which was an official selection in the Cannes Film Festival in 2005. (Thanks, Amy & Suzanne)

There were so many others… I also received a stunning indigo-colored votive candle holder from my friend Sonya whilotus candleholderch is made of shells from the Phillipines and shaped like a lotus flower. Evertytime I light a candle in it, I will think of this special birthday and remember the people behind the kind gestures, and the feeling of abudance that overwhelmed me during such a special occasion as this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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