The Seeds of Our Dreams

For the smallest month on the calendar, February looms large in my mind. It is, on the East Coast anyway, the deepest, darkest, bitterest part of winter. The Scandinavian side of me, wise to seasonal depression long before there was a named disorder for it, wants to stay in and drink glogg and distract myself from putting my head in the oven. I count down the days until pitchers and catchers report, so I can imagine them playing on the warm green fields of spring training. I plan trips to deserts or beaches or anyplace more equatorial than New York. But the real “go to” diversion for me, and thousands of others like me, is the seed and garden catalogs that conveniently start arriving at the end of January.

I look at the pictures of seeds and the resulting full, verdant plants, and I am transported to Spring and Summer – to the future, a place of lush warmth and beauty. Most years I picture the garden beds around the house, speculate where I can fit in new seeds or plants, and walk through the growing season in my head, week by week, imagining what will fit where after it’s grown to full size. Like a business, I project future growth and predict what needs to be pruned and what will yield dividends, like the perennials that I have been dividing and getting free plants from for over twenty years.

This year is different, as I prepare to put our home on the market. The last time I sold a house I had it written into the contract that I could return in the Spring and divide and re-claim perennials that had been in my family for over fifty years. This time I really don’t know where I will end up and I am prepared to leave them behind. This year I walk the gardens in my mind, silently saying goodbye and thank you to the plants, berries, and flowers that have fed me, (and the birds and deer), and given me so much pleasure. I hope that the future buyers will appreciate them, too.

This February I will not order anything from the catalogs, but I will still plant the seeds of the future. I imagine a room with sunlight streaming through big windows and a plant stand with wheels, like a two tier glass tea cart, loaded with houseplants. I recognize some of the plants as old friends that I’ve had for years. In my mind I see my cats resting in a patch of sun, looking out at a deck that includes pots of cherry tomatoes and basil. There are boxes of flowers alongside a patio set, and I note that the cats are watching the bird feeder out there like it’s a big screen TV.

I see all of these details in my mind’s eye, and I know that they will grow and take on life as I get closer to building this future that I desire. The will to imagine guides the choices that I make — there’s no new age magic, no “secret” – just a belief that I can choose from life’s catalog to create and grow, sometimes literally from the ground up, exactly what I want. And that is what gets me through the long winter.


How to Help Australia Right Now

| by Cheryl Shainmark

If you’re like me, your heart has been breaking over the wave of images coming from fire stricken Australia: the burning homes, the loss of life, the destruction of habitat affecting millions of animals, and finally, the disturbing peril of the animals themselves. While the death toll for humans is 25 at this time,  estimates place the loss of animal life at over half a million victims. As reported on PBS, thousands of Australians are in need of assistance as massive wildfires continue to tear across the continent.

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Visions of the Future

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Several years ago I had a vision of the future that transformed my life and helped me to determine what new career path to pursue. Leading into that moment was the fact that, at the age of 40, after years of working in computers, I was back at school. I was an adult returnee in my “senior” year at college and my three most favorite professors had each approached me about entering into their field of expertise: Asian Studies, the School of Journalism, and Psychology. What a wonderful compliment! — each thought that I would excel in their profession and offered me mentoring, contacts and references for further graduate work. I was both flattered and immobilized with indecision

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Signs of Spirit by Roland Comtois

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Roland M. Comtois is an internationally acclaimed channel, best-selling speaker and author of And Then There was Heaven -A Journey of Hope and Love. A sought-after TV and radio personality, Roland has earned a devoted following among tens of thousands of clients of all ages and from all walks of life who regularly seek his spiritual counsel during private readings, holistic healing sessions, special events and group workshops. His new book, Signs of Spirit, is a heart warming compendium of his channeled “Purple Papers,” written by those who have received word from their loved ones who have passed on. Their stories are heart warming and inspiring – a must read for those who believe in life after death, or those seeking comfort after losing a loved one.

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The Presence Process by Michael Brown

| by Cheryl Shainmark

This book goes right on the shelf with the best of Jon Kabat-Zinn, Eckhart Tolle, and Ram Dass — it is that good. By now, if you’ve been paying any attention to the spiritual best-sellers of the last several years, than you know that the key to changing the quality of your life is to live in the now… but for most of us, that is easier said than done. “Now” is usually the moment when the red traffic light turns green — and no more.

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The Voice of Your Higher Self

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I learned over time that this is the sound of my higher self. Sometimes it’s barely there in the background, pointing me in the right direction with a nudge or a song lyric, or a bit of humor and love. Other times she comes through loud and clear with precise instructions or suggestions. No topic is too large or too small to engage my higher self, and the range of comments over the years have both startled and amused me.

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Helping Our Fellow Animals

| by Cheryl Shainmark

There is a growing movement to recognize what every pet owner and animal lover has known for years: that animals are capable of feeling most everything that humans feel. This, in turn, is part of what is driving the movement to a plant based diet, or more ethical treatment of animals raised for food consumption. In this model, the labels “organic,” “free range,” or “grass fed” are as much about the quality of life for these animals as it is about nutritional quality.

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When Your Body Speaks: Paying Attention to Food Cravings

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Several weeks ago I caught a doozy of a cold, leaving me with a stuffed head, chronically runny nose, sore throat and a bit of a cough. Bad enough for the first few days, weeks later it seemed like it just wouldn’t go away. I didn’t have the flu or strep throat or bronchitis, but the symptoms lingered. Finally, after weeks of getting more rest and watching my diet, it passed. During that time I ate lightly, (when I wasn’t sleeping,) but found myself throwing handfuls of thyme and garlic into virtually everything – from scrambled eggs to soup. It was a little bizarre, actually.

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They Are Us by Cheryl Shainmark

I remember in the ’60s, being six or seven years old, and visiting my great-grandmother Teresa in a nursing home, shortly before she died at age 94. She only spoke Italian, and my Dad taught us a few words to say to her: Come sta? Bene; prego. Her son Henry, my grandfather, was bi-lingual; her grandson – my Dad – had a smattering of the old tongue, and now I had the four words he taught me….

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Letting Go With Both Hands

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Several years ago I dreamed I was outside my house as a giant windstorm approached over the horizon. Like the buildup to a hurricane, the trees swayed, and leaves and debris blew over the lawn and through the air. I knew that it was urgent that I find shelter inside, but I was worried about my son and kept searching for him outside. A part of my mind knew that the dream was echoing reality: it was a truly tumultuous time in our household as our son went through a difficult period, moved out, and struggled to live independently. Back in my dream, reluctant to give up, I stayed outside until the storm was upon me.

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