April, 2014:

ANCIENT CHINESE FENG SHUI

Just before the new century dawned, I discovered there’s a system besides astrology to determine personality types. The Chinese nature science of Feng Shui has been around for at least two thousand years, a testament for longevity and proof there’s something to this way of thinking and/or analyzing.

I am still dealing with blog image problems, so there won’t be any artwork on this post, alas! But I will send you to Patt Sendejas’ web page to find out more about Feng Shui. www.WithinYourSpace.com

As a weekly columnist for the Daily News, a Los Angeles newspaper, in the 1990s, I was always looking for material (much the same as I do now for my twice-weekly blog). I had gotten a mailing for Creative Options Day, a women’s event at Cal Lutheran University and noticed Patt Sendejas’ name as a speaker on Feng Shui. It was the perfect way to explore something new and get an interview at the same time.

It took a while to connect with this very busy and talented woman, but after we did the interview, our relationship turned into a long friendship and even a business relationship. I have edited several of her books, like: Letting Go to Create a Magical Life and Feng Shui for Career Women.

As Patt succinctly says, “Feng Shui is the Chinese art of living in a harmonious environment in order to receive the greatest benefits in life, health, love and prosperity. It’s based on years of philosophy and mathematical calculation, and interprets the types of energy in a home or a business. It’s based on when a building was constructed and where it is placed, its interior design and environment, and the people who will live or work there. “There is no good or bad,” according to Patt. “If you’re aware of what’s happening, you have more choices to make changes.”

In Feng Shui, all humans are a certain natural ELEMENT personality type: Earth, Metal, Wood, Water or Fire depending on the month and year you were born. Patt determined I was an Earth Yin, which fit me perfectly. Simply put, I am the nurturing “Mother Hen” who worries about others—the type who advises friends to take a jacket when it’s cold outside! Supportive colors for me are red, purple, and burgundy, and I like water (I’ve been a swimmer all my life). I’m also partial to things made of earth, like ceramics. clay, and rocks.

Directions are important to the various Feng Shui types. As an Earth Yin, I should ideally sit in a chair that faces Northeast or West, and for the best sleep, my head should be directed either toward the Southwest or the Northwest. In case I search for a man to share my life, my ideal partner would be an Earth Yang, who would be creative and a people person, although stubborn!

How energy flows in a home is important to Feng Shui and Patt’s book describes in detail what to avoid in placement of furniture and how to enhance the energy. However, energy changes every year and every month and learning about the best remedies is very important. It’s all quite fascinating and if you’re interested in exploring, go to the links below.

A thorough description of the philosophy of Feng Shui would involve more than this blog is designed for, so I’ll offer a link to Patt’s website.

Patt Sendejas website:

http://www.withinyourspace.com

BACK TO THE BEGINNING–WRITING

Since I continue to have a problem with uploading images to my blog, I will stick to writing for the time being. Hopefully, I’ll figure it out with some help and be back in fully working mode this week. In the meantime, I’m creating a trip down Memory Lane:

My writing career has been an adventurous one: lots of fun, great experiences and for years very little money. As I tell my editing clients—you must create through love, not desire for money. Like most creative endeavors, writing is rewarding to the heart and soul but it takes time for compensation to reach your wallet, much less the bank. Sometimes it never does.

Reporting stories began with the Barracan, the Wheelus High School newspaper at Wheelus Air Force Base, adjacent to Tripoli, Libya. I was 14, it was the 50s and our high school had less than 100 students. Except for the views of palm trees, the nearby Mediterranean Sea, and Libyans in native costumes (women wore barracans—all-encompassing white wool garments that covered them head to toe, exposing only one eye and their feet), Wheelus was filled with typical American teenagers. Jeans, loafers, saddle shoes, and crinolines to poof out our circle skirts were the usual attire. We had proms, one radio station that played rock ‘n roll (perhaps a bit later than American Bandstand—unless you were new to Wheelus, you probably didn’t even know the program existed), and a teenage club that had its own student band, Stardust.

I recall only one story I wrote—the Junior-Senior prom with Ebb Tide as the theme—held at the Tripoli Beach Club. Ginny Stewart had a coketail party first at her family’s nearby villa. The entertainment as I remember it: a fully dressed Libyan woman in a very modest wrap-around indoor garment (not the confining outdoor barracan) doing a belly dance to a rhythmic drum. She pushed some of the shawl-like elements of her dress down to accentuate her hips.

In college—William and Mary in Virginia—I wrote for the Flat Hat college paper. Lots of stories I no longer remember, but I was pleasantly surprised at one class reunion when a displayed scrapbook had three of my stories!

When my kids were in grammar school and didn’t need my full attention, I wrote my first column: Hillrise Highlights, which covered local events and turned into a political campaign to get a nearby highway bridge widened in Agoura, CA. I even participated in gathering signatures to get the County of Los Angeles or the State interested in funding the construction.

I graduated to covering news for the Acorn, a weekly newspaper for a rapidly growing suburb of LA, in the Conejo Valley, on the border of Ventura County. By the early 80s I was the editor, responsible for a little bit of everything—writing and editing, headlines, photos, attendance at chamber of commerce meetings and mixers. City incorporation attempts, wildfires, water quality, and commercial/residential growth were some of the pressing issues in those days. There were also the unusual stories: my trip in a hot air balloon in a fur coat and attending a nightclub show of sexy male strippers, an early Chippendales-type show.

In the 90s I got to mingle with a few celebrities on a couple of magazines I helped co-create, write and edit. One of them featured Bob Hope for our initial cover. Alas, Hope was recovering from prostate surgery and the closest I got to him for an interview was visiting his manager’s office in Burbank, a testament to Hope’s many movies with its giant blowups of movie stills going back to the 1930s.

Beverly Hills Country Club, a posh tennis club, decided they needed a magazine featuring their members. My boss was an enterprising Iranian who spoke English but was not fluent in writing English. For our first cover, I interviewed Barbara Eden in her home along Mulholland Drive. Delightful and personable, she wore a cropped top and low riding pants, showing off her still fabulous figure and revealing the belly button blocked out on “I Dream of Jeannie,” her famous TV series. Yes, the cover was “photo-shopped.”

Appropriately for a sports club magazine, I did stories on members, Rafer Johnson, the Olympics decathlon champion from the 60s, and 1940s tennis champion Jack Kramer, who had remained active in the sports world promoting tennis and then golf. My first tennis racket was a Jack Kramer and I told him so. Both of these athletes were gentlemen and easy to chat with.

The 90s included a few years of writing a weekly column, People and Places, and local play reviews for the Daily News, a major newspaper that still exists. I must have seen and reviewed about 200 plays, performed by a range of talent of all ages. I was a positive reviewer; it was essentially community theater and equity waiver. I recall a production of “Mr. Roberts,” starring Harry Belafonte’s son-in-law. Belafonte was there and I was thrilled to shake his hand as he told me he loved community theater. No, I did not hum any calypso songs!

One of my weekly columns focused on Jake Lloyd, a seven-year-old starring in his first movie, “Jingle All the Way” with Arnold Swarzenegger (before he became the Governator). Jake was charming; on the sound stage of 20th Century Fox, he led me up to a sort of catwalk on the upper levels of the living room set, where I could have an overview and see where the cameras and lights were positioned. They were filming the last scene of the movie that day. As filming is erratic, the last scene of filming would be the actual first scene of the movie. Jake went on to play Anakin Skywalker in a Star Wars movie, “The Phantom Menace.”

FOILED BY TECHNOLOGY!

This week was only the second time I’ve missed a regularly scheduled blog post in the four years since I started Words on My Mind. Alas and alack, as Shakespeare might have said.

Word Press has been an excellent site for my blog posts until now. They keep working on improving their site, but now I am flummoxed. For some reason I haven’t been able to upload photos or images to my post. I finally got so frustrated after about six attempts I gave up, for now!

I don’t like to post just words, as I’m doing now!

To find help on a technical issue isn’t a matter of calling someone–unless you know a computer whiz. Word Press has their “Codex” but I couldn’t figure out what I needed because of their updates. Then I resorted to the “Forums” but I needed to log in and I couldn’t remember what user name I’d used, much less the password. So “we” played tag with Emails. I gave up and started again today. I posted my problem but didn’t put it in the right place. “They” contacted me and I finally (I think) posted it in the right place. Now I’m waiting and hoping what they answer is easy to understand!

I should be back in business on Sunday! This is a crazy year of mysterious happenings, so what can I expect? A plane of people is missing and Mt. Everest doesn’t want anybody coming up the mountain so it sends an avalanche…

MY BRIEF “THEATRICAL” CAREER

A bit part as a rabbit in a play on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

A bit part as a rabbit in a play on the Mall in Washington, D.C.

In the spirit of Easter and the Easter Bunny, I had to post this photo of me  in my bunny costume, which dates back to 1959.  It wasn’t Easter but December in Alexandria, Virginia, and our Trinity Methodist Church youth group was staging “The Little Match Girl” as part of the local entertainment at an outdoor theater on the Mall in Washington, D.C. I was playing a “toy” rabbit that had a little drum to beat while my head and upper body bobbed up and down. I had no lines, as I recall. What made it funny is that my legs were so long that I had to wear long white socks so that my pant legs wouldn’t reveal flesh! You can see my bare skin of my right leg in the photo.

A few years earlier, I had had a “starring” role as Louise on the Wheelus AFB TV station, just outside Tripoli, Libya. I had no lines; I just had to look pretty and desirable. Perhaps a few hundred people actually saw the program. I was portraying the fictional “Louise” while Joe, a talented pianist and airman played the song of that name. Maurice Chevalier, French actor and singer is known for singing the song at least 50 years ago. Two of the lines are:

Every little breeze seems to whisper Louise.

Birds in the trees seem to twitter Louise.

My starring role as Louise

My starring role as Louise

Joe (I can no longer remember his last name) had a half-hour TV program, which featured him playing piano. It was broadcast in the evening to every home with a TV set at Wheelus Air Base. I don’t remember if I even knew when or how often, but I did save the photos taken for the special occasion. My family had not brought a TV to Libya so Mom and Dad did not catch my debut.

Keeping his program unique was probably a challenge for Joe. One day he came up with the bright idea to play famous songs named for women: “Marie,” “Charmaine” and “Louise,” for instance, and have a girl in the background who represented the particular song.

He would play five songs. He already knew two Italian girls to feature, but he needed three more females to represent all the songs he had in mind. Apparently reasoning that the high school physical education program would provide him with the best choices, he came out to the Wheelus tennis courts one morning. The male mind is always intriguing! Maybe it was our grace hitting a tennis ball or perhaps what our legs looked like in shorts that influenced his choices?

Joe picked me, Judy Jones, and Vicki Scola and we all agreed to face the cameras. I was supposed to be a French Louise and had to find a beret and a scarf since my portrayal was a variation of the famous French Apache dance (based on Parisian gang culture and named for the US Indian tribe). I’ve still got the now tattered beret and the orange scarf.

I don’t recall that we did much if any rehearsing since we simply had to sit or stand, as the case may be, and look sexy. When Joe played each song, the camera panned from his playing to the appropriate girl and the painted background scene behind each of us.

No lingering fears of cameras linger; I don’t think I was nervous. Was that my “15 minutes of fame?” Fame is so ephemeral. I think I’ll stick to writing and editing.

 

MALIBU HIGH LIFE- 1930s–

I love historical stories, as my blog readers know by now. When a Malibu pioneer, Rhoda-May Adamson Dallas died at age 94 in 2011, I read the obituary in the LA Times and remembered my tour of her childhood home, right on the beach in Malibu. It would cost a small fortune to build the same house today in that ideal location.

 

                            
                            The Adamson House Museum

It’s hard to believe the state of California bought the property for $2 million in 1965 and first planned to turn it into a beach parking lot since it’s adjacent to Malibu Beach, the lagoon and Malibu pier.

Luckily, it was turned into a museum, which also saved the extensive landscaping (13 acres of property) and all the unique and elaborate tile work. Since I wrote a story on the home for a local magazine some years ago, I was shown the more intimate family rooms. There was a closet still full of women’s clothes belonging to a Adamson family member. There were more than a few dresses in the same style but different color in one of the closets. As I recall, the tour guide told me that once this family member liked a certain style, she’d make sure she had several in various colors, and that included shoes. It made sense: Malibu has never been an easy drive from major department stores in Los Angeles or the San Fernando Valley.

One of the most distinctive features of the home, which was built in 1929, is the very colorful Spanish style tile, all made at Malibu Potteries, which was a short distance away near the pier and only in operation from 1928 to 1932. In every pattern and color imaginable, the tile was used everywhere: the bathrooms (including the ceilings), on floors, borders for windows, on flower planters, and stairways and for fountains throughout the house and yard. The historic tile can still be found in homes and businesses in Southern California, including Los Angeles City Hall.

                            
                           A fountain of lovely tile

Once upon a time, in the late 1800s, a large part of Malibu was a Spanish land grant and the Rindges, who were Rhoda-May’s maternal grandparents, owned and operated a 17,000-acre working ranch there. Rhoda-May, whose parents had a dairy business, Adohr Milk Farms (they used their daughter’s name spelled backwards), grew up in that beautiful mansion by the sea.

The Admanson family’s real estate empire was quite beneficial to the Malibu area. They donated 138 acres of undeveloped land to Pepperdine University in 1968 and what a thriving educational facility it’s been ever since.

Driving south on Pacific Coast Highway through Malibu is a vision of contrasts: stony mountains, steep canyons and public beaches, palatial mansions perched high on the hills or on the lowlands, and shopping centers that grow more exclusive every year. It’s not all a display of wealth: along the highway and in the beach parking lots, there are plenty of old cars and hundreds of surfboards.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LETTING GO OF THE PAST

Now I know what  “spill your guts” means, literally. I already knew I had to tell my story to really heal my body and inner being in order to move forward. I had made a previous attempt with a fictionalized version of my story, Colonels Don’t Apologize, which is on Amazon. Since I was still struggling, it took some new revelations (as explained in my previous blog) to bring it all to the forefront and to deal with it. As a writer, I felt I needed to do more than write in my diary or disguise what had occurred.

I’ve read many books written by people who’ve had to overcome very difficult traumas in life and always admired their ability to write about it. It’s great therapy. Those books were always enlightening and inspiring—a good reason I’ve also enjoyed biographies and even reading the obituaries! It’s wonderful to read how others conquer their demons.

 

Emerging by Heidi Giraud

Emerging by Heidi Giraud

 

You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result.        Mahatma Gandhi

Looking back over the past few days, I’m amazed at the synchronicity. It’s April, a month for Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and the month for rebirth. I published my blog on the 9th, which, in numerology, means the end of a cycle, a time to take inventory of your life and what works and what doesn’t.  I did not plan this action deliberately; it just happened! On the 10th I spent all day “spilling my guts” from both ends. I have never thrown up so much in my entire life! Must have been a huge burden that needed to erupt and be flushed away (imagine doing this in an outhouse!).

It took me three full days to feel better. Today is a new day, Sunday, the 13th, and I feel so much better. I live in apartment 13 and Sally, one of my best friends, is celebrating a birthday today. It is also Palm Sunday and Thomas Jefferson’s birthday—an auspicious day.  When I looked up its meaning in numerology, the site told me 13 is a powerful number — one of upheaval so that new ground can be taken.  I’m ready to celebrate my moving forward physically, mentally, and spiritually.

I am grateful for all the heartfelt comments I received on Facebook and on my blog site.  We all walk through tough times in life and are usually made stronger and become more understanding because of our challenges.

MEMORIES – THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION Part 2

What was wrong with me? I was discouraged, to say the least. I gave up on doctors and concentrated on exercises, swimming, and a cane or walker if I needed it. I was in my 60s, which was too young for this slowdown in mobility. I began to think back to my childhood. Off and on over the years I had been privately dealing with a trauma that started soon after I met my new stepfather. From the age of 4 to 12 he had molested me. I don’t recall that it was frequent, or remember many details, but I managed to hide it completely from everyone, including my mother, for 20 years. I was perky, friendly, and an optimist—I buried the facts deep in my brain, probably like many abused children. Ignoring something that serious affects your self-esteem and pretending it’s forgotten doesn’t make it go away. It will arise and face you at some point.

Shortly after I admitted to myself at age 39 what had happened, I was divorced, which definitely complicated my emotional life. The next 20 years were a roller coaster ride, but a fascinating one, and I remained a mostly happy optimist.  Besides, I could walk and dance without a problem.

After my stepfather died, I felt I had to deal with what had happened to me. I had become familiar with many self-help books and gone to many a psychic fair. One reader, who was also a therapist, came up with an interesting evaluation several years after my stepfather died. She could see and feel my sadness and told me I had spent my stepfather’s inheritance quickly because I didn’t feel I deserved it. Amazing what abuse does to your self-esteem! During the following years I dealt with my emotional pain by writing about it, typical of a writer! I wrote and published a short book (using fake names) on Amazon that tells some of this story—Colonels Don’t Apologize).

Posing on a roof in Germany with doll and dog Pedro, 5 years old

Age 5, Posing on a roof in Germany with doll and dog Pedro

 

As my legs began to betray me, I was beginning to realize that these physical symptoms had something to do with my childhood emotional pain. My various stages of enlightenment didn’t come all at once—it was a long process. It wasn’t long ago that I figured out why my legs were holding me back: when I was abused I couldn’t escape—I couldn’t walk or run away. What a reminder!

After I began dealing with this emotional trauma and the anger and frustration, I began to feel more in control of it. I also remembered that my stepfather was not a monster. I believed that despite his “perversions” he was genuinely interested in my welfare. He was not evil. But there was one very important step I hadn’t taken in this journey of painful memories and physical pain: I needed to forgive my stepfather and forgive myself at the same time. Those are the steps I have dealt with most recently. I am feeling more and more at peace with all of it as time goes by, especially after discovering that what I suffered physically later in life has happened to many others. Ironically, soldiers who return from war don’t always get PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) right afterward. Like me, sometimes it doesn’t strike until years later.

Victoria Giraud

Victoria Giraud

I know in my heart that I will let go of the resistance in my legs, and I will keep persisting in my desire to walk easily and in balance again. I have recently started a 6-week program with a delightful young physical therapist, who is familiar with the mind-body connection.  I’m already beginning to see improvement.

The article in “Prevention” was an affirmation for me and inspired me, for the first time, to share this particular part of my journey toward wellness.

 

HEALTH & EMOTIONS, THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION

 For a long time I’ve believed that health and emotions are intimately related.   I bought a copy of Louise Hay’s book You Can Heal Your Life in 1987. An inspirational author of self-help books and the founder of Hay House, she enlightened many of us about the mind-body connection, the mental causes of physical ailments. When I develop a cold, a cough, bronchitis, etc., I always look up the reasons why I was susceptible. It’s not always easy to discern why these physical conditions have appeared or how best to alleviate them and heal. I have some physical challenges I have been dealing with for about 20 years and decided very recently to share them with my readers. This blog is the first of two parts.

One of the reasons I was impressed with Louise Hay is the success she had healing her own cancer. She healed herself in six months with self-love, affirmations, visualization, nutrition and psychotherapy. Her enthusiastic beliefs drew many to her self-help books, and she established Hay House, which publishes many authors in the field, including the well-known self-help and motivational author Wayne Dyer.

I think all of us face various physical and/or mental challenges. There have been advancements in the drug field (who can miss the ubiquitous ads?), but more heartening, to my way of thinking, in the spiritual and self-help arena. I subscribe to “Prevention” magazine, which gives advice of all kinds about health and fitness. April’s article: “Brain on Fire…a groundbreaking theory puts inflammation at the root of mysterious conditions like chronic pain and depression” by Kate Lowenstein was particularly enlightening. It affirmed what I had thought and concluded about my physical conditions for the past few years.

Lowenstein interviewed Gary Kaplan, an osteopathic physician and owner of Kaplan Center in McLean, Virginia, who has developed theories about chronic pain and inflammation and developed suggestions about treatment. After studying about 1,000 people, he said, “Old wounds left unresolved build up in the body…people with difficult childhoods…stress in early life…have higher rates of chronic inflammation.” For more specific information read the article.

 

Heart - Brain Connection by Heidi Giraud

Heart – Brain Connection
by Heidi Giraud

Briefly, my biggest physical challenge, off and on for a couple of decades, has been mobility. My legs hurt when I walked but never when I swam. The pain was more discomfort and stiffness than painful, but I eventually had to use a cane and even a walker occasionally. I had always been strong and fit and used to love to walk long distances almost daily. My leg pain began when I inherited money from my stepfather, who had married my mother when I was four. He had died from Alzheimer’s disease 20+ years after my mother had passed.

I struggled with walking and eventually gained back most of my usual leg strength. A few years later, during difficult financial times, I fell and injured my kneecap. I managed to battle back but about 4 years ago, it felt as if my legs decided to go on strike. It became difficult to walk and I felt off balance and lacking in strength. What was wrong with me?

Before I went to a neurologist, I had tests on the flexibility and strength of my legs. It wasn’t that serious but they couldn’t figure out what was causing the weakness and discomfort. Over the next year I had three MRIs. Nothing stood out—other than aging and a little arthritis. I was given pain pills (not high strength), which worked no better than occasional ibuprofen. I saw a physical therapist and worked with exercises. In the summer I did a lot of swimming and went to a wonderful chiropractor, but nothing I did gave me back my old physical capabilities.

My story continues on Wednesday, April 9.

GHOSTLY SPIRITS IN FAMOUS PLACES

I’m not a ghost expert, but I know people who have done some research on the subject and had some fascinating spooky experiences. Rob and his wife Anne had so much contact with the spirit world that they decided to write books about ghostly encounters. They published A Guide to the Haunted Queen MaryHaunted Catalina and The Haunted Alamo, among others. I knew them both and did some proofreading for one of the books. If you’re interested, check out the books on Amazon.

I interviewed them some years ago for my Los Angeles Daily News column and the story was too good not to share again. They are very convivial people, and we enjoyed many glasses of champagne and tasty Mexican meals together over the years. Perhaps some of their ghostly friends joined in the laughter without us knowing?!

“I was aware of the spirit realm as a young child,” Rob told me. “When I was 8 or 9, I had a weird experience at our house — a presence that emanated from the closet. It walked toward me and vanished. I knew it wasn’t my imagination.” Rob said the ghost, which was a benign presence, is probably still “residing” in that closet.

Anne told me she grew up in Texas hearing ghost stories, and her grandparents always claimed they had a ghost closet.

Rob and Anne shared a ghostly experience from an archeological dig in Oxnard, CA, some years ago. When a developer’s construction worker hit a skull with his backhoe, Rob was called in as an archeological expert to examine the remains. It turned out to be a 500 year-old Indian gravesite with 21 bodies, which were positioned in certain designated ways.  Chumash Indian officials were also contacted, and they decided to perform a ritual cleansing ceremony when  the bodies were once again buried.

Anne remembered the spooky aftermath and the chills she felt as she and Rob observed the ceremony. “Roosters were crowing, dogs from neighboring homes were howling, and a devil duster wind kicked up out of nowhere.”

There was another after-effect from the incident, Rob related. The workers who had accidentally uncovered the grave all had a minor car accidents the week following.

The Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA

 

After taking a “ghost” tour of the Queen Mary in Long Beach, CA, Anne was intrigued and went looking for a book in the gift shop about the various ghosts. The owner told her there was no book, but one was needed. The Queen Mary, a Cunard Line ship in service from 1936-1967 became a tourist attraction in Long Beach in 1971.  Shortly after, the couple set to work by calling the Queen Mary’s archivist to establish a correlation between actual deaths that had occurred on the ship and the ghosts haunting it.

They found plenty of ghost stories and several concerned the deaths of John Pedder and William Stark, for instance. Pedder, an 18 year-old crewman, was accidentally crushed to death by watertight door #13. Stark, a ship’s officer, died in his quarters when he accidentally drank poison thinking it was gin. Since their deaths, there have been repeated sightings of ghosts believed to be Pedder and Stark. People have also reported seeing a woman in a 1930s style bathing suit. Apparently there was a woman murdered in the first class changing room and her spirit haunts the first class pool.

Nowadays, the Queen Mary offers its own special ghost tour with special effects.

 

 

 

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