Category Archives: Meditation

My Simple Philosophy

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Try it.  It works.

Not Roughin’ It This Time

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Not Roughin’ It This Time
First, congratulations to Lindsay and Apollo on the birth of their sweet son, Shepherd Lee.    May you enjoy and love this adorable new addition to the Lone Star State,  and may he bring tons of joy to your wonderful family.  John and I are SO happy for you, and can’t wait to hold him and cover those beautiful little cheeks with Auntie Stacy kisses!   Congratulations, you guys.  This is great news!  We’ll toast your happy family tonight.

Ok…..now back to our regular program…..

Don’t laugh, ok?  REAL campers are going to laugh about this gift….but I’m telling you, I’m ready for something like this.  I have always loved camping and have camped in the most rustic of environments. I used to take my kids camping by a lake when they were little.   When we lived in Texas, we once went beach camping in Matagora.  The campfire was burning, when literally thousands of tiny crabs raced across the beach and threw themselves into the fire!  I’d never seen anything like it.

Today is our anniversary, and we always avoid all the rowdy “stuff your face and drink green beer” plebeian activities that come with March 17th.  ick.   This year is a special anniversary and we plan to get away from it all, thanks to the thoughtful consideration of my sweet husband.

I have camped in the Kentucky woods, in black bear country.  I have camped in Alaska, in grizzly bear country. I have camped on a Tuscan hillside and within sound of the crashing waves of the Pacific.  I have camped in trees.  I have camped in desert sands.  I have camped in tents, in yurts, on top of a Manhattan skyscraper and within sight of the Hollywood sign in California…..but I have never had a camping experience like the one my husband just gifted me with for our anniversary today!  Wow! This man is something else!   I am so excited!

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My husband is one of those “thoughtful” gift givers.  He really thinks about the person he is giving something to, and tries to find just the right thing for that person.  This time was no different.  This luxury camping trip,  in my opinion, was the perfect gift.  I am beside myself with happiness over this.
It is located near Olympia, in Washington, a city smaller than your average capital city.  It is a peaceful Pacific Northwest destination that is huge on natural charm. At the southern edge of the Puget Sound, Olympia’s marina hosts a collection of charming sun-bleached sailboats and impressive, stately yachts, while the nearby boardwalk hosts visitors drinking in the salty breeze. Less than a half hour to the south, the quaint city of Tenino is home to the 842-acre Millersylvania State Park, and that is where we will be camping. Blanketed in old-growth cedar and fir trees, the park contains more than 3,000 feet of shoreline on Deep Lake.  It is incredibly beautiful there.  So beautiful.

1camping3 Tucked in the heart of Millersylvania State Park, Pampered Wilderness is as far from a typical campsite as it gets.  Luxurious open-air cabins are crafted with tiered canvas and outfitted with king-size memory foam mattresses, mini fridges, microwaves, vanities, and fireplaces.  We even have a personal fire pitand a big a dining table.  Ok….don’t laugh….but the package also comes with an electric heater.

In the morning, we shall enjoy pastries and coffee before kayaking above the calm currents of Deep Lake.

John, you could have gone without the gifts and it wouldn’t have bothered me a bit…but you didn’t.  You never do….and I appreciate them and you so much.  This one is so special.  Thank you for your love, your devotion and that incurable romantic side that always makes me smile.

Happy anniversary, my dearest darling.  I love you to pieces…..to the moon and back….forever and ever, amen.

Girls

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Let’s make this one go viral, folks.  This is an important message. ANY message that makes females feel “less than” males is a bad message.  Any message that makes males feel “less than” females is a bad message, too.

Please re-blog, tweet and spread this message to the best of your ability.  It will do some good.  Thanks!

girls

Maximizing Togetherness

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Maximizing Togetherness

Because John and I have such precious little time together, we try to make the most out of every day that we DO have together, spending at least a portion of each one, engaging in something special.  Not everyone can understand our relationship,and that’s ok.  WE understand it.  We are deeply bonded to one another, with strong love and conviction, regardless of anything else.

For the most part, ours is a harmonious existence, with no need to raise our voices or to speak angrily to one another.  Our dynamic is to  strive to find positive things to talk about….art, literature, travel, work, our daily lives….and to let the rest of it fall away.  Mind you, we get on one another’s nerves occasionally, just like other couples, but we put forth a conscious effort to  maximize our togetherness and keep things on a positive note.  We know what is important and we try our best to ignore the rest.  It works beautifully.

Yesterday was our day to drive along the beautiful Columbia River Gorge to Multnomah Falls, one of our favorite destinations.  As you can see from the video, the sky was a gorgeous blue and the sun was out.  Perfection!

We swung by and picked up Ingrid and headed for the falls with a view toward having a late lunch there.  There were more beautiful sites along the way than I had the energy to take pictures of.  The scenery is always breathtaking, regardless of the weather or season. horse multnomahThe lodge sits at the foot of the falls and has a nice atrium, so when we lunch there, we usually have a lovely view of the water tumbling down the mountainside.  Even though the food is only average, and not at all spectacular, it is one of our favorite places to eat by merit of the ambiance alone.multnomah falls lodgeThe interior is rustic and casually-luxurious at once. It isn’t fancy or anything.  There is just a “grand’ characteristic about it because of the high ceilings, the stonework and wrought iron and the lovely interior atrium.  There is usually a fire roaring in the big, stone fireplace which takes the dampness out of the air and provides a cozy atmosphere. By the time we returned from our hike, our appetites were primed for some good food .  We surely enjoyed a nice lunch.

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When Ingrid is with us, we usually stop by the gift shop and pick up some postcards and let her pass a penny through the embossing machine.  Yesterday was no exception.

Only days earlier, Ingrid lost her other grandfather to cancer, so she was very clingy toward John and did not want to leave his side.  This touched our hearts.  It is hard for a 5 year old to process emotional pain at this level and the trip seemed to do her a lot of good.  This is a peaceful place.  Beautiful photo opportunities are everywhere, as are places to slip away alone and meditate.

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We are all too cognizant of the fact that our days upon this earth are limited.  We are building memories for Ingrid.  We are building memories for one another.  We are cherishing these times.  More than you know.

I think of John when I hear this song, and also the rest of my beloved family. I think of  my best friend.  Listen to the words.  They mean something.

 

 

Just for You

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Just for You

This is for you and your beautiful smile.

I’m sitting here listening to Mozart, looking at the wonderful pictures of my neighborhood that I took this morning, and feeling like a million bucks.  I have a joyful heart and a peaceful spirit.

I went for a walk this and snapped this shot to share here.  This is pretty much what my entire neighborhood looks like right now, and it is the perfect reflection of how I feel in my happy heart and mind.  I am infinitely grateful at this moment…for my life, for the beauty that surrounds me, for the love that I receive from those that love me and for the insight that I receive from those that don’t.  It seems everything is another lesson if I view it the right way.

I am working on a very difficult assignment this week, one that I I’ve mentioned previously, about a competency evaluation for a death penalty case.  This is an assignment that has kept me awake at night, worried about the poor defendant who is, without a doubt, guilty, but who does not at all deserve the death penalty, because he did not know what he was doing when he committed the crime.  I don’t believe in the death penalty at all.  Therefore, I have to write my own bias statement into my evaluation.

I told someone what I was working on yesterday and he laughed and called me a “Pluto Scorpio,” claiming that I was into the dark side of life.  I laughed in return.  Nothing could be further from the truth, and he knows it.  This is just an assignment. I never plan to work in this area of psychology.  It’s just all a part of the program.  The picture at the top of this entry much better represents what I am “into” right now….and how I feel.  Happy.  Through and through.

Spring is so beautiful in Portland…even when it comes in March.  It is made even more beautiful by how fortunate I am, and by the gratitude that I feel for what I have.

Big, busy day ahead of me today.  I hope all of you have a good one.  Oh…and thank you to all my new subscribers and welcome.  There are now 705 of you  + 3500 followers.  I hope I don’t let you down.

Spring Fever in March??!!

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9:47 a.m. – While the rest of the country is buried under ice and snow, Portland has been experiencing an early spring this year.  Yes, the cherry blossoms are blooming and the daffodils are showing off their brilliant regalia.  The air smells wonderful and the sun has been shining warmly upon our fair city. Hard to believe this is MARCH!

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While Portland is magnificent when spring shows up, there is one distinct disadvantage….namely, spring fever.

College professors do not consider spring fever a viable alternative to doing one’s work.  sigh.   I am currently working on a capital punishment sentencing case…picking it apart, line-by-line…pouring over law books, contrasting the American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics, examining the scientific methodology used to conduct the defendant’s competency evaluation…and it is intense, requiring an abnormal amount of concentration and page-after-page of typing, re-typing, verifying, citing, substantiating, reading and re-reading.  It is tedious work that requires more concentration than I possess…..so what do I do?  Where do I turn for some relief from the intensity of this grueling work?   Aromatherapy!

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For years, I was a skeptic of the benefits of aromatherapy.  However, once I began to study brain science and could read actual studies and understand them, I began to understand that it really does have benefits.

Albert Einstein once said: “Everything is energy.”

Four out of our five senses—sight, sound, touch, and taste—receive sensory data from the environment which is transferred through the nervous system to the brain.  At the brain level, data is interpreted based on our mental schemas or mental filters. For instance, when a person hears a cat meowing, that meow is really a sound vibration that is received by the ears.   The ears, in turn, send that signal to the brain where the person perceives the sound to be from a cat. If the person initially “learned” that sound was from a cat then he or she would interpret the sound data according to that belief system.  Ok….Here is where aromatherapy comes in.

When it comes to the sense of smell, a fragrance is received by the receptors in the nose.   That signal is transferred to the olfactory bulb located in the  limbic portion of the brain. Because smell data doesn’t first travel to the nervous system and instead goes directly to the brain, it is said that smell is the brain’s direct link to the environment. All smells have their own signature frequency. If they didn’t have their own vibration we wouldn’t be able to tell one scent from another.

Since the human body is really energy it makes sense to use energy based products that are in alignment with us so as to support our body and mind. We have the human body, then we have organs that make up the human body, then we have cells that make up the organs, then we have atoms that are the blueprint for the cells and at the subatomic level there are electrons, vortexes of energy. Science shows what Einstein said: Everything is energy, including humans.

When it comes to the botanical essences of aromatherapy, their natural ability to enhance our health and well-being are without a doubt in alignment with our vibrational nature.  But whether one believes in quantum physics or not, aromatherapy really works!

These are the best oils to use to enhance concentration:

Some of these oils have the added benefit of dissolving petrochemicals that congest the receptor sites of the brain.  There are all kinds of ways to enjoy essential oils.  I use a few different kinds of diffusers.  The one shown in this video is my favorite….but I also have diffusers that plug into my computer’s USB port and a little hand-held, battery-operated one that I can carry with me in my purse. I really like SpaRoom diffusers, but there are a lot of different manufacturers of them.  I just think that for the money and the features offered, SpaRoom diffusers beat the others, hands down.  Regardless of which diffuser I use, I am firmly convinced that they are marvelous inventions.  There are oil blends for just about everything…from anti-aging skin care to meditation to sinus problems to depression to simply conducting happiness straight to the brain.
If you have experience with essential oils and aromatherapy, please leave a comment here to tell me of your experiences with them or drop me a line privately.  I would love to hear what you have to say.  I’m really getting in to these things!
Back to work for me.  My diffuser is on and I think I’ll be able to concentrate now….

BELONG

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“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”
― Rumi

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Why is This Woman Smiling?

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I smile a lot….and why wouldn’t I?   This is what the front of our house looks like this morning!

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I have SO much for which to be thankful!    I also attribute my propensity toward smiling to my habit of thinking positive thoughts. I’m totally in love and have a great life. I have great friends and, in fact, haven’t lost a single one of them in years and years.

I feel good most of the time, do a lot of interesting things and just have a lot to be thankful for and happy about. …but does my smile have anything to do with why I’m happy?  Am I happy BECAUSE I smile?

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A new study conducted by researchers at Michigan State University suggests that customer-service workers who fake smile throughout the day worsen their mood and withdraw from work, affecting productivity. But workers who smile as a result of cultivating positive thoughts – such as a French vacation or a child’s hug- improve their mood and withdraw less.

“Employers may believe that simply getting their employees to smile is good for the organization, but that’s not necessarily the case,” said one of the researchers  “Smiling for the sake of smiling can lead to emotional exhaustion and withdrawal, and that’s bad for the organization.  Smiling for a reason is different.”

For the study, which appears in the February issue of the Academy of Management Journal, two researchers studied a group of city bus drivers during a two-week period. They examined the effects of surface acting, or fake smiling, and deep acting, or cultivating positive emotions by recalling pleasant memories or thinking about the current situation in a more favorable way.

The study is one of the first of its kind to examine emotional displays over a period of time while also delving into gender differences, one researcher stated,  “The results were stronger for the women bus drivers.”

“Women were harmed more by surface acting, meaning their mood worsened even more than the men and they withdrew more from work. But they were helped more by deep acting, meaning their mood improved more and they withdrew less.”

While the study didn’t explore the reasons behind these differences, one researcher notes that previous research suggests women are both expected to and do show greater emotional intensity and positive emotional expressiveness than men. Thus, faking a smile while still feeling negative emotion conflicts with this cultural norm and may cause even more harmful feelings in women, he said, while changing internal feelings by deep acting would gel with the norm and may improve mood even more.

But while deep acting seemed to improve mood in the short-term,  that finding comes with a caveat.

“There have been some suggestions that if you do this over a long period that you start to feel inauthentic,”  “Yes, you’re trying to cultivate positive emotions, but at the end of the day you may not feel like yourself anymore….unless your smile is accompanied by positive thoughts.”

Day #25 – Reflection

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Original photography by Stacy Alexander, ©2015 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Day #21 – Matching

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Original photography by Stacy Alexander, ©2015 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

When Someone You Love Succeeds

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When Someone You Love Succeeds

I have to admit it.  Personal success feels great.  Each time I accomplish something that sets me one step closer to my goals, I feel elated.  However, that feeling pales in comparison to the emotions I experience when someone I love achieves success, be it a friend or a family member.  That’s right.  I take more joy in seeing someone I love succeed than I take in my own accomplishments.  For instance, yesterday, I received this email from my husband, John:

 

My Dearest Wife,

Early this morning,  I received the news that my “The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy” was selected to kick-off San Francisco Dramatists Guild’s  spring Footlights, staged-playreading series on March 2nd.

Attached is the invitation that will be sent out from New York in a few days.

Love to you,

J

SAN FRANCISCO FOOTLIGHTS – March 2, 2015 presentation.

Please join the Dramatists Guild for a staged-reading of John Freed’s

 

“The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy”

 

on Monday, March 2 at 7PM
Tides Theatre
533 Sutter Street
San Francisco, CA

 

Play Synopsis:


“The Merchant of Pittsburgh: A Comedy” is set in an Equity-based, regional theatre in the late eighties and concerns a fed-up Jewish board member who takes over as acting artistic director in order to stage a Shylock-friendly production of “The Merchant of Venice” while being forced to confront his own set of racial and ethnic prejudices.

 

                        “A brilliant mashup of Shakespeare and August Wilson.”   Arno Selco, Ithaca College

 

 

John Freed’s Brief Bio:
East Coast native by birth, the high point of his acting career occurred at age seventeen playing the lead in “Kiss me, Kate.” He received a standing ovation for his fireman’s carry off-stage of  his co-star after her slap nearly knocked him out at the close of Act One.
Fast forward to teaching dramatic literature, especially Shakespeare,  at Penn State as well as being the theater critic for the “Erie Daily Times” and film critic for New York’s “OneWorld Magazine.” He adapted Richard Wright’s novella “The Man Who Lived Underground” as a radio play produced by the local National Public Radio station and co-wrote “When Shakespeare Was a Woman” while functioning as pro bono drama consultant for the artistic director of the Pittsburgh Public Theatre.
His own writing evolved further from developing a series of creative writing and new media courses at the University of St. Thomas in Texas and at Brandman / Chapman University here in the Bay area.   During this time he wrote  “Love me, Fuseli: A Play about Mary Wollstonecraft and her Circle of Friends” and “Figaro’s Follies” – a new adaption of  Beaumarchais’ “Le Mariage de Figaro” which had staged-readings by the EastBay Players in the fall of 2014.

 

He is currently working on the book and lyrics for a musical entitled “All Hallows at Hearst Castle” with composer, Jeff Dunn.

John bi-locates to Portland, Oregon where his wife, Stacy Alexander, is a graduate student, a professional writer and a mixed media artist.  His playwright website is http://freed98.wix.com/johnfreedplaywright .

 

Dramatists Guild’s San Francisco

(end)

My response to John:

To My Most Admirable Husband,
So, once again, a public acknowledgement and congratulations in the midst of many, my darling.   What an honor for your play to kick off the season!  There are insufficient words to convey how proud of you I am.  Each play you write is better than the one that came before it.   I enthusiastically encourage you to continue with your play writing, just as you have always encouraged me with my own creative endeavors.  It is with great happiness that I  look forward to seeing what you come up with next.  Oh….and “break a leg”  (figuratively…not literally)  🙂
Your loving wife,
Anastasia

Blue

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It feels weird to write about a color that signifies unhappiness when one feels as happy (and in love) as I do….but I do love this song, which just came on in my Spotify feed, so there it is.  blue
Graphite on blue paper
Stacy Alexander
©2015
🔵

Blue

by Joni Mitchell   Printer-friendly version of this lyric

Blue songs are like tattoos
You know I’ve been to sea before
Crown and anchor me
Or let me sail away
Hey Blue, here is a song for you
Ink on a pin
Underneath the skin
An empty space to fill in
Well there’re so many sinking now
You’ve got to keep thinking
You can make it thru these waves
Acid, booze, and ass
Needles, guns, and grass
Lots of laughs lots of laughs
Everybody’s saying that hell’s the hippest way to go
Well I don’t think so
But I’m gonna take a look around it though
Blue I love you

Blue here is a shell for you
Inside you’ll hear a sigh
A foggy lullaby
There is your song from me

Simple Truths

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One of my closest and dearest friends forwarded this video to me today.  I just had to share.  Simple truths are the most important truths.

Day #18- Bedside

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Original photography by Stacy Alexander, ©2015 – ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Art Each Day

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I’m the type of person that must include art in my life every single day.  For me, it is as essential as breathing.  However, having just embarked on my final two-class term at SNHU, I have precious little time, unless I make art late at night, just before I go to bed.

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Whether I work on huge projects, such as this mural with famous outsider artist, Isaiah Zagar (above), or on tiny projects at home, I must have art in my life every day.

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I might spend 20 minutes doing a quick watercolor study….

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I might participate in a global mosaic project such as this collaborative effort put together by Lin Schorr to benefit the Providence-Park Hospital in Novi, Mi:

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Or I might work on one of the many guitar-themed mixed media pieces that I am creating for a future  installation.  This is a postmodern design that little Ingrid and I are working on together. At age 5, she is learning exceptionally quickly, and has a real eye for tile placement and complimentary design elements:

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My whole point is that I must have art….I must create something artful…each and every day.  However, being a full time student, working full time and doing the other things that I do over the course of a day, I often find myself without sufficient time to create art in a big way, so I choose some small way to do it.  One of the best ways I know is Fat Mum Slim’s Photo a Day Challenge.  And the best thing is, she has created an app to make the process even simpler.

The app is called the Little Moments App, and it is supported by all the major phone platforms.  It is a marvelous thing, really, because one is prompted by a theme each day.  For example, today’s photo theme is, “This inspires me”….so all I have to do is open the app, take the photo and click…click….click….It is uploaded to whatever social networking platform I wish…AND…it automatically adds hash tags to enable other challenge participants to see what I’ve done.    For instance, I am inspired by the work of my friend, Arlene Elizabeth, who created this image of the Daili Lama from individually folded origami cranes.

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The app comes with some fun features such as color/mood filters, text options and little designs that can be added to the image.

It really doesn’t have to take up a lot of time and energy to create something positive and artful each day.  Download Fat Mum Slim’s app….or just do something on your own.  Creation is a good thing.  Artful creation is even better….infinitely better than destroying or tearing something down….and also better than going through an entire day without art!  If you have kids, get them involved.  The more art in the world, the better place it is.