Spring Cleaning for the Soul

Don’t you love it when that first blush of spring comes and the air is just warm enough to open the windows and let in the sunshine? It revitalizes your energy, makes your house feel brand new and gives you an instant connection to the great outdoors.  If you think about it, it does something else too. It refreshes your spirit in a way that makes dreams seem alive and possible again.

It’s spring…and it’s not just spring inside your castle.  It’s time to do a little spring cleaning inside your heart and mind as well.  Oh sure, you can wait for your prince charming to show up and take you away from that musty palace, but the truth is, you’re free to do it any time you want to, all by yourself.  Try a little spring cleaning on your soul.

If you want your hair to shine, you brush it, frequently and often.  When you do your hair has luster and beauty.  When you want your house to shine, you wash windows and dust the blinds; you mop the floors and sweep up the cobwebs.  When you do, the house is warm and inviting and the sun shines through it again!

If you want your soul to shine and your face to radiate, you do it in a similar way.  Here are some ideas to get you started.

Take a good broom and sweep out the cobwebs of old, outdated, and seldom used ideas that no longer work for you.  If you’ve allowed a past injury of the heart to weave its tendrils through your mind so that it uncurls when you least expect it, you need to sweep it away!  Bundle it up, tie a chord around it and send it packing.  You don’t need it anymore.

You may also want to air out feelings you’ve been spinning and replaying in your mind, but haven’t expressed yet.  You know the ones where you buried your heart down to your toes and no one seems to feel the pain but you.  Well, that’s because it’s your own personal injury box and you dust it too often.  Just throw it out and try this!  Stand in front of the mirror, voice the painful thought aloud, remind yourself that it is simply a cobweb of days gone by and let it go.  Don’t ever let it back in.  You need the space in your head for good things, for happier things.  You’ll be surprised how much lighter and brighter you feel.

Now that you’ve cleaned up a bit, give yourself a little reward for the work you’ve done.  Imagine a big bouquet of roses sitting on the table of the nicely polished, totally free of cobwebs space that is in your head.  Oh, and buy yourself a beautiful rose just because you deserve it.

Spring cleaning feels good.  Your home and your heart both shine.  The windows of your soul are ready to open!

Just breathe in that fresh air!  Ah…it is fabulous!


Want a fun way to remind your loved ones to take a breather for some spring cleaning for the soul?  Surprise them with a spring eCard from!



Planting Your Own Garden of Dreams

C.S. Lewis wrote:  “You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

What speaks more of the future than planting a garden?  It’s a flurry of activity.  Skillful gardeners plan months in advance.  They germinate seeds, plot spaces where the sun and the shade offer the most effective opportunities for growth, prepare the soil with special nutrients, and watch and wait for the best time and the season…and they do it all with great joy and anticipation.  Why?  Because somewhere in the heart of a gardener lies the seed of a dream, the thrill of ripe red tomatoes on a summer day, the fragrance of fresh dill and thyme.  It’s a beautiful dream and they know with some planning and hard work, they can make the dream come true.

You may not actually want to plant a garden, but you’re in exactly the right place to cultivate some new dreams.  So roll up your sleeves and grab your drawing pad.  Take one dream down from the shelf where it simply can never bloom, and give it some air.  Pick it up and look at it from every angle.  Imagine it taking root, sprouting with the loving attention it receives from you.  Remind yourself of the excitement it generated when you first conceived it.  Talk about it with your friends and allow them to add to the anticipation of seeing it come to life.  Plan the celebration that will come when you harvest the fruit of your efforts, when all the planning and dreaming become reality.

Your future is today.  Your time to dream is now.  The seeds of incredible ideas that only you can germinate are waiting to be planted and nurtured.  Have faith in yourself and remember that faith is always a word of action.  You’re already an amazing gardener and you’ve blossomed over the years, but you’re not done.  You’re still developing a crop of possibilities that will serve others in a great way.  All you have to do then is believe in the beauty of your dreams.  You can produce extraordinary things!

As someone once said, “Bloom where you’re planted,” and then take it a step further.  Plant something wonderful where you want things to bloom.  You’re already a master gardener and the people around you will all reap a harvest as your dreams bear fruit.

It’s a great day to get started!



Look Beyond the Clouds

by George Davis

In life, trials and tribulations are as inevitable as the rain. And much like the rain or any other unfavorable weather condition, the obstacles in life can be just as uncontrollable. Clouds form in the sky and a big smile begins to shrink. Thunder crashes and that smaller smile gets even smaller. Lightning flashes and any evidence of happiness that existed washes away with the first drop of rain.

Regardless of preparation – the size of the umbrella, the durability of the rain coat, the water resistance of the boots – some people choose to solely focus on the rain. And while they may remain dry, they allow themselves to drown in despair and depression. The one thing they tend to forget is that regardless of the visible, seemingly miserable conditions that they’re standing in, the sun is still shining.

The clouds, like most emotions, trials, and/or tribulations, are temporary. Whether they’re visible only in passing or they stay around for a few days casting dark shadows over us, they don’t possess the power to outlast the sun. The sun will always shine. Rain, sleet, hail, or snow, the sun will shine. It is as permanent as love.

When obstacles arrive (and they WILL arrive), know that they have an expiration date. Like the rain and the clouds, they pass. In the midst of the storm, look beyond the clouds. Find peace and comfort knowing that the sun is still shining.



It’s Irish Heritage Month!

Aye there, lads and lassies – March is Irish Heritage month! Raise a glass to the rolling green hills and enchanting lore of Ireland. Did you know that about forty-four million Americans proudly share an Irish ancestry?

The main Irish event in March, of course, is St. Patrick’s Day. Celebrated with parades, family functions, church Masses, and more. The heritage of Ireland is also kept alive and well throughout the month in different U.S. communities with various local celebrations. Irish-American Heritage Month is an annual proclamation issued by the US President or Congress to honor the achievements and contributions of Irish immigrants and their descendants living in the U.S.

Irish culture has many symbols, tales and superstitions. Just one of the interesting stories passed down through the generations includes the legend of the Claddagh. The Claddagh Ring signifies Love, Friendship and Loyalty or Fidelity. These rings are kept with great pride as family heirlooms, and are often passed down from mother to daughter on her wedding day. They are worn by both men and women all over Ireland and throughout the world. The design is of a heart held between two hands, with a crown on the top. The symbol also appears in other kinds of jewelry, but most commonly in ring form.

There are many versions of the beginning of legend of the Claddagh. Just one telling says that shortly before he was supposed to be married, a Claddagh fisherman named Richard Joyce was captured at sea by pirates and sold into slavery. His master was a rich goldsmith who decided to train him in the goldsmith craft. To keep his hope alive over the years, Richard stole a tiny speck of gold from his slave master’s shop each day. So many years passed that he was able to eventually make a gold ring. He hoped that, despite great odds, he would return home again to give this special gift to his love. This was the first Claddagh Ring.

King George III eventually made a deal with the slave master to release all his enslaved subjects, and thus Richard Joyce was a free man. Richard returned to his village just outside the city of Galway and found that his sweetheart had been true and faithful. He presented her with the Claddagh Ring and they were married.

Wearing the Claddagh:

-Worn on the right hand, crown turned inwards, your heart is yet unoccupied.
-Worn on the right hand, crown turned outwards, shows a special commitment to someone.
-Worn on the left hand, crown outwards, means that love and friendship reign forever –
never to be separated.

Do you have a Claddagh Ring? What’s the story behind yours?

Are you in the mood to share some Irish cheer? has Irish St. Patrick’s Day eCards that will help you deliver a wee bit o’heaven!



Sudoku Memories Poem

by Brian MacDougall

A nearly blank canvas of mostly forgotten memories

Images slowly surface,
assembling in places that make sense.

Gaps take on critical importance.
Their significance remains dormant,
wisely awaiting interpretive guidance.

Momentum grinds the tumblers of
lucid definition as dream architecture begins to unfold.
Influenced by all that came before,
bottlenecked into inevitability.
Craftsmanship pours forth
like automatic writing.
The rich, intricate lineage
of uniquely altered sequences
interlocking and firm.

Rapid-eye movement threading
into the broad tapestry
proceed intuitively for their
fair share contribution.
Evolution of a recollection
rounding the bend.

Momentary frustration
as once obvious positions of
impressions, now second-guessed.
Rewriting one’s history pauses to acknowledge
it all might have been chance opportunity.
Destiny, perhaps a pipe dream,
toward fulfilling expectation.

Rank and file vignettes
switch back and forth
sifting through eleventh hour possibilities.
Blank spots unravel
and give in to the resolve
of problem solving.
The panorama ironed out
by the sheerest of wills.

Hypnotism dissolves into awe
and the veil lifts,
a landscape of extreme organization.
Retrospection plays midwife
to smiles of recognition.
Once dead end efforts
now prize monuments and keystones.
All fall into place a scrapbook
of answers and life having lived.



Women Are the Heart of History

Ever since Eve stepped into the scene and helped Adam create a whole new world, women have been standing up, stepping in, and leading the way.  Women’s History month is a great celebration and a reminder of what women have been doing either notably or simply for generations.  You too, are a woman making history.  You’ve changed the course of a lot of people’s lives and your fingerprint will remain on everything you’ve touched.

Today we’re used to the presence of a good woman in any arena, political, scientific, religious, or family, but it wasn’t always true.  In fact, women have had to fight for the right to dream and to give back to the community and the nation.

The theme of Women’s History month for 2011 is “Our history is our strength.”  The idea is that we act as role models for each other and those from past generations by sheer courage, wit, and determination carved a path for the rest of us today. The result of that is that both men and women live more fully in their strengths, giving the best of what they have to offer and leading the way for others.  It’s an ongoing process and one to be proud of whether you’re male or female.

A few of those who left a legacy for us to build on are noted here.  Some started movements, some forged the way into new occupations for women, and some simply stood up, or sat down in the case of Rosa Parks and reminded us that we needed to rethink our priorities.

In the fields of education and literature, we note Mary McLeod Bethune who founded a Bethune-Cookman College and was an advisor on minority affairs to Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Toni Morrison was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and Rita Dove became the first Poet Laureate of the United States.

Political leaders and advocates shine a light on Eleanor Roosevelt, and Alice Paul who in 1923 helped craft a version of the Equal Rights Amendment.  Along with them, we are strengthened by the integrity of our first African-American congresswoman, Shirley Chisholm and Dolores Huerta who was the first vice president of the United Farm Workers.

In the field of medicine, we find Elizabeth Blackwell who was turned down by 29 medical schools and finally graduated at the top of her class to become the first licensed woman doctor in America.  Chien-Shiung Wu was the first woman invited to speak at Princeton University to teach nuclear physics.

Women have been paving the way for centuries, shining a light where there was none, running the race with courage where few had run before, and causing us to think more carefully about what we too might want to leave behind.  A legacy is not simply left by those in the spotlight, like Princess Diana or Jacqueline Kennedy, it is left by each woman who shares her heart and her mind and her courage with everyone she meets along life’s path.

As the notable woman, Clare Boothe Luce once remarked, “Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed.  If I fail, no one will say, “She doesn’t have what it takes.”  They will say, “Women don’t have what it takes.”

Thanks to all of you, the women who have what it takes to bring great strength, great love, and great honor to the world.



Celebrate Mardi Gras in Your Own Way

happy mardi gras ecard

Mardi Gras is coming and it’s time to party hearty, let your hair down and have some fun.  You can find a mask or create a costume and head to New Orleans on March 8th, or you can look for splashes of the holiday to show up in towns like yours.  It’s a big celebration and it’s been going on for over 150 years, but what is it exactly and how did the whole thing get started?

The surprising thing about the “Fat Tuesday” gala is that it started a long time ago, actually way back in 1857.   Mardi Gras marks the last day of the Carnival season, a period of rich feasting and frivolity which follows Epiphany and is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins.  It’s a floating holiday and the date of Mardi Gras varies slightly because it must fall 47 days before Easter Sunday.

The traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, gold, and green have their roots in political and religious arenas.  Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.  In 1872 some businessmen invented a King of the Carnival festivities named Rex and the first Rex selected the colors and the significance they hold today.  A new Rex is chosen each year by the School of Design in New Orleans, the sponsors of the Rex parade.  In the “city that care forgot”, the parade champions make sure that visitors and natives alike follow Rex who will always set their hearts to music with “If ever I cease to love.”

If you’re celebrating Mardi Gras in the grand tradition, you may want to offer your fellow revelers some King Cake.  The King Cake honors the Feast of Epiphany when the three wise men took their gifts to the baby Jesus.  Today, inside every King Cake, is a tiny plastic baby representing that sacred event.   The person who receives the slice of cake with the baby in it is asked to carry on the tradition by hosting the next King Cake party.

Over the years, specialty groups known as Krewes developed.  The first one was the Krewe of Comus and it sponsored floats and balls and parades.  Today there are nearly a hundred Krewes and most elect their own Queens and royalty, and all represent some aspect of life and spirit worthy of celebration.  So, it’s a great time of year to get out your beads and throw your hat in the ring for abundance and the gifts of blessing that surround you.  In New Orleans, even after Katrina, the parades go on because people choose to celebrate all that is good.  This year leave your cares behind and create a little Mardi Gras of your own to celebrate life!

Remind your friends and family to let their hair down by sending free Mardi Gras eCards!



Dr Seuss’ Birthday: National Read Across America Day

Theodor Seuss Geisel — known as “Ted” to his family and friends — is famous for his whimsical rhyming books that inspire both young and old alike. Dr. Seuss (pronounced in Bavaria as “Zoice”) began his career as an advertiser and a cartoonist. His works are known for imaginative characters, rhyme, and frequent use of trisyllabic meter. Of the forty-four books that he personally wrote and illustrated, only four are in prose (non-rhyming). He was awarded a special Pulitzer Prize in 1984.

Dr. Seuss’ success was not immediate. His first children’s book, a sort of ABC of fanciful creatures, was written in 1931, but no one wanted to publish it. It took him to his 13th children’s book to achieve one of his most famous works, The Cat in the Hat, proving that persistence can pay off. Published in March of 1957, The Cat in the Hat sold nearly a million copies by the end of 1960.

People often asked Dr. Seuss how he, a childless person, could write so well for children. His standard response was, “You make ’em. I’ll amuse ’em.” He had the desire to motivate and to teach through his work. His purpose for writing The Cat in the Hat stemmed from his worry that children weren’t learning to read. Although he did not start writing children’s books with this goal, he eventually became America’s best-known reading teacher.

 Dr. Seuss was challenged by the director of Houghton Mifflin’s education division to write him “a story that first-graders can’t put down!” The extra twist? Limit the book’s vocabulary to no more than 225 different words, chosen from a list of 348. And thus greatness was born.

Later, another publisher bet him that he couldn’t write a book that used fifty or fewer words. Dr. Seuss took the challenge in stride and produced Green Eggs and Ham, his best-selling title. The Cat in the Hat is his second best-selling, followed by two more Beginner Books: One fish two fish red fish blue fish (1960) and Hop on Pop (1963).

But Dr. Seuss did not just want to teach children how to read, he also hoped to teach them how to think. He wanted to nurture that potential for good in his post-war publications, which included Horton Hears a Who!, Yertle the Turtle, The Sneetches, The Lorax, and The Butter Battle Book.

 Dr. Seuss’ birthday is March 2, and has been deemed National Read Across America Day, the National Education Association’s annual initiative on reading.

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book? Tell us in the comments section!




March is Red Cross Month—Be Prepared

Are you ready for a disaster? You can be – March is Red Cross month!  The American Red Cross is one of the most widely recognized aid and preparedness organizations in the world. Founded in 1881 by leader Clara Barton, the Red Cross is a leader in emergency response all over the globe. Because the organization is non-profit, March is dedicated to raising awareness and funds for this prolific disaster-relief institution.

Clara Barton brought the idea of the Red Cross to Washington D.C. after a trip to Europe following the Civil War. She was inspired by the Swiss-inspired international Red Cross network there and felt that it was imperative that the work continue in the U.S.

According to the American Red Cross website, “the American Red Cross responds immediately to more than 70,000 disasters, including house or apartment fires (the majority of disaster responses), hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, tornadoes, hazardous materials spills, transportation accidents, explosions, and other natural and man-made disasters. The Red Cross also feeds emergency workers, handles inquiries from concerned family members outside the disaster area, provides blood and blood products to disaster victims, and helps those affected by disaster to access other available resources.”

Do YOU know how to survive and lend a hand in a disaster? Preparation is one of the important educational promotions of the Red Cross, and the group recommends being prepared with an Emergency Preparedness Kit. Here are some things you can stock up on to help you aid yourself and others in the event of a disaster.

Keep a 3-day food and water supply in an easy-to-carry kit, and have a 2-week supply stocked in your home for if you’re stuck in your house during a calamity. Check and update your items every 6 months to ensure freshness.

Along with your food and water, some other good things to keep in a kit include:

  • Cash
  • Radio
  • Flashlight
  • First Aid kit
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Emergency contact info and copies of personal documents
  • Map
  • Blanket
  • Cell phone
  • Sanitary supplies
  • Medication
  • If you have animals, pet food, water and meds
  • Pre-arranged evacuation plan from your home, including meeting places, and duties for what to do before leaving the home for each family member.

When creating your kit and your plan for getting out of your home, take into account how many people and pets will use the kit for any amount of time, and add items accordingly for each.

Be proactive, be prepared! For more preparedness tips and info on how you can support your local American Red Cross chapter, visit