Monday, January 30, 2012

Spreading The Word and a FREE Magazine

Would you like one of my magazines for free? I will be happy to send you the issue of your choice in exchange for some help. I would like you to help me promote my online course and 1 day retreat. How, you ask? Simple. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. Personal recommendations are king. I would ask you to share a photo and the link to my course 2x before February 20th. Either 1 blog post (should you have a blog!) and 1 Facebook shout out, or 2 shouts on Facebook. A few gushing words along with the links would be the bees knees.

Interested? Here's what to do.

1. Let me know on the comments that you would like to get your free copy. Email me at: with the issue of your choice and the address to send it to. After your 1st post, I will order your copy and have it sent. (Send another email with the link to your post/ Facebook page.)

2. If you're creating a blog post, capture the white window picture at the top of this post and use this link.

3. If you're creating a Facebook announcement, use the same link. The photo will automatically show up.

That's it!

And I'd be honored if you'd want to join the course. The more I work on it (it's become a daily obsession to map it out), the more peace comes into my soul. This offering is part of what I'm meant to do. (At last, she found her calling...)

For more information, click HERE.

To purchase a copy of my magazine, dirt cheap until February 14th, go HERE.

{Update: thank you to everyone who just went ahead and started posting to Facebook!}

Sunday, January 29, 2012

of ruin, insanity and the quest for inner peace

There is light snow, at last. It is morning. The tea is hot, the raspberries are washed, the room is warm and lit. I read of rain forests being devoured in Peru; earthen floors raked bare and mercury dumped at will into Amazonian rivers, all for the sake of our world's insatiable appetite for gold. Peru, the article says, produces 165 tons of gold per year. That's incomprehensible destruction of leaf, insect, feather and fur.

I read, also, about the 50th anniversary edition of a land mark work of history~ The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by the American William Shirer. In 1960, it was the book that brought America out of its 15 year amnesia of the atrocities of WW2. It sought to chronicle the reasons (most of) the German nation united in a horrifying, frenzied mass movement of self-delusion and destruction.

But there is snow falling on pine trees just beyond my window. The heat clicks on and the cats are drowsy at my feet. If I gave away my gold jewelry would it help? Would it make a moment's impact if I vowed to acquire nothing new in karats? And the war. The one of the homeland of my mother; she born into it's start. Would knowing the details of its horrors, would understanding the hows and whys help me stand apart from the potential of a future loss of sanity by the masses? History tends to repeat itself, after all.

Or is it just best to live in the present, the storied and perfect "now", content in my small corner of the world? Is it just best to stay alert and go about the business of honoring my daily needs and the calls of my heart? It feels selfish. Yet, I know that the butterfly wing fluttered across the world eventually reaches my corner of it. The ruin of the rain forests affects me, as well. The war, certainly, gave trajectory to my life even before I  drew breath. So, in turn, will my quest for peace within myself and the actions I take to lead a life of meaning and compassion somehow, someway effect the forests and play a role in quelling extremist domination?

With snow falling on pine, in the warmth of the morning, I can only hope that the answer is yes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

52 Photos Project~ at rest

sleeping otters

trees at rest

mr. twinn. at rest. hopefully, at peace.

sheep. lounging. north sea dike.

once there was a bed
strewn with tulips just for me.
i napped among the stems and the petals.

Monday, January 23, 2012

gardening in small spaces

 green cymbidium orchids

amaryllis waiting room

love me some texture and grit

begonias. mirror. me. david.

glass ceiling

some times, you know somebody for a long time. or at least, you think you know them. then one day, you and they allow a shift to happen, and you both open the door to new discovery about each other. you are equally amazed. and you jump up and down because the door you opened together was just what the other one needed. life is never the same. it is now better.

i had asked david not so long ago to help me with an online course i was scheming up. i knew he knew about plants. could he teach some basic gardening for the course? i am no gardener and i wanted to learn. i thought others might want to learn, as well. he said yes, because he's my friend. then he threw in the part where the legion of angels standing behind me were saying how important it is that i create this course and because we talk like this to each other, i knew it was right that he be part of the offering.

so, we met at the buffalo and erie county botanical gardens to make a video of his course contribution, gardening in small spaces. i loved it. what a sweet and small adventure. we were occasionally swarmed by people asking what we were doing. one man was fascinated by my little camera. and my god, did i learn alot. it turns out david doesn't know about plants, per se, he is instead a walking encyclopedia of plants and gardening. thankfully, i had already had the sense to ask him to be one of the featured presenters at the 1 day retreat that accompanies my course. he'll be spreading his wisdom on the wonders of organic gardening. since i know the least, i expect i'll be learning the most.

take my advice. if you have a friend you think you know, raise the stakes. dare to open doors you have not thought to open together before. share knowledge and ideas. go places. enhance each others lives. i promise you, you will be amazed.

my other advice? sign up for The Soul In Bloom~ Home edition. learn along with me how to be more at home yourself. and make a list of questions for david. your plants and pantry will thank you.

To find out more, click HERE. begins february 25th.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Owl Omens 2

stuffed great horned owl, Tift Nature Preserve, Buffalo, NY

snowy owl, copyright Jody Melanson

I'm waiting for my owl. I see owls everywhere; on place mats, greeting cards, sleepwear, statues. But in this rare season of irruption from the arctic fringes, I am waiting for the real thing. I am waiting for the snowy owl.

I drive by farms and fields, head swiveling side to side ( a likely danger on the roads), scanning the rooftops and telephone poles for a burst of white feathers. As yet, I have no glimpse of the prize. And I may not be graced with a sighting before the weather turns and the owls head back to the tundra.

I will wait and I will keep my heart open with expectant gratitude, for the snowy owl already lives inside me. As an omen, he is only good. He is the call for patience and waiting for beneficial things to come into view. He is not about wasting energy, but about carefully preparing the self, inside and out, for taking advantage of opportunity the moment it arrives. In the light and in the dark. 

Timing is everything, says the owl, as is well-honed skill. There is no need for intimidation or wasteful nervous bluster. Go about your business, but pay attention. Your time will most definitely arrive. When it comes, act. Act from strength and the courage of having quietly developed your offerings. Let your inner wisdom come forth and shift your life. Be who you must be.

Five and half years ago, I wrote a blog post about owl omens. Every day since (every single day!) some one from around the world has searched for insight about their personal owl encounters and clicked on  this post. In the last 20 days alone, this post has been viewed 269 times. There seems to be no end to fascination with owls and sometimes fear of ill omens. I tell you, animal and bird sightings are never omens for ill or bad luck. Never. Nature is our ultimate teacher and healer and She in her wisdom sends willing messengers to get us to wake up and see the truth of our lives. Because we are so often asleep. The characteristics of the animal or bird we encounter are perfectly orchestrated to mirror a part of ourselves or our situations (self created). Their characteristics and behaviors and even positions are maps to get us back on track to living our lives out loud and unafraid. To being who we must be.

It's all good, if you allow it to be.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

52 Photos Project~ color with emotion

Color is how I comfort myself
in my wardrobe and my decor.
(Are 23 scarves too many?)
Colorful animals, stuffed and live,
can lift a mood in an instant.
(You will find both kinds in my home.)

I can tell by the color I am attracted to,
  on any particular day, just what I need most
to feel more loved and balanced.
( I do not always act to fulfill these needs.
Some days are just like that.)

Week 2 of 
*online course and 1 day retreat*
Embracing color  for comfort and change.

Monday, January 16, 2012

expanding outward

This is the year I expand outward.
Perhaps, without venturing too far from home.
I've ventured far in recent years,
awakening my soul in the process.

Now that I am awake I see what surrounds me
and it's time to embrace the new and the near.
Like the helleborus plant with green and white blooms.

Except that it's almost dead.
Because I am terrible with high maintenance plants.
Yet, I thought I would try.

So sorry.

In my expansion outward, in my desire to taste
from the deeper well of life,
I will make mistakes and I will ruin things.

But my soul will awaken further from having
reached beyond what I currently know.

The ruin will not compare to the riches
of what I find in my new expanded view.

Join me in expanding outward~
February 25th through April 5th.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

make it about you

there is something to this reaching beyond the known self. there is something unleashed in the subtlest of ways that captures and lifts the mind. the reaching, the daring clears away the film of thin despair coating the eyes and the old habits of thought. an embrace happens, self to self to life as a whole. not constantly, but softly and often enough to notice.

like a sunday morning in winter, with cats to warm toes and new books that arrived and tea and crystallized windows sparking pastels, there comes a contentment not previously known. and the wish is to know it some more.

decide to show yourself. decide to begin the journey you thought was too daring to take. make a little plan and begin. make it about you and invite people along when you're ready. the very best thing you can do for improved quality of life is to stop holding back. be public, be private or a little of both. your health and your wealth and your peace will improve when you take action on behalf of yourself.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

52 Photos Project~ the macro shot

If you were to accuse me
of being obsessed with flowers,
you would be right.

I am.

It's not something to apologize for.

Because beauty and nature are solace.
Anytime, anywhere.

Last autumn, I needed solace.
I went early to the farmer's market.
I bought fistfuls of dahlias.
I spent hours arranging them
and taking photographs.

My day was better.
My home was happier.
Because of flowers.

I believe in flowers in the home.
Year round.
A single bloom or fistfuls.

If you come with me,
if you come home along with me,
I will teach you the simple wonder
of arranging flowers.
And you will be glad.

*online course and one day retreat*
February 25th through April 5th
Week 3~ Floral Design 101

For Bella

Monday, January 09, 2012

For Michael and Mary

For my friend-of-the-heart, Michael.
And for Mary~ the woman who stepped
forward to stitch back together the pieces of his soul.

When it is cold and raining
you are more beautiful.

And the snow brings me
even closer to your lips.

The inner secret,
that which was never born,
you are that freshness
and I am with you now.

I can't explain the goings or the comings.
You enter suddenly
and I am nowhere again,
inside the majesty.


Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Word For Twelve

my friend, eric, at home in northern germany.
thatched roof and leather pants. for real.

My umbrella word for two thousand twelve has been coming on since last spring when I ventured to Northern Germany with my Mother. I was struck by the way people lived and how deeply they embraced their surroundings. Never before had I witnessed and understood how connected some of my family and friends were to their dwellings and the land where they lived. Or how heart broken some were to be separated from the place and the people they had relied on as the anchors of their lives, whether by death or the need for assisted living. Between the bone-deep contentment of some and the tears of others, I knew it was all about home~ both the peace of it and the unfulfilled longing.

This is the year of home. This is the year of going home, even if I go nowhere at all. Maybe this need has to do with never owning a home, never raising children, never knowing how to plant myself firmly in a society that only supports tradition when tradition has not supported me. Maybe the need for home, finally, has nothing to do with place and everything to do with how comfortable I can feel inside my own skin. Maybe its about finding peace and comfort and roots on my less traveled road.

Whatever it is, I long for it. And I am the only one who can lastingly give it to myself.

So, I am going home. In all its rich meanings.

To help myself get there, I am charting a course. Come with me. Let's meet on the veranda with tea and dip our roots deep in the earth.

February 25th through April 5th, 2012

Friday, January 06, 2012

tell me i am not the only one watching

at twenty to eight in the morning i am scanning fields the color of brittle corn. there is no snow, yet i am searching for white; the white of feathers, the white of the owl that began its journey to me last spring and has yet to arrive. i wait and i scan and i drive. suddenly, there is white, a flash of wing, and i am swerving to the side of the road. it is not the owl, it is the hawk. the harrier hawk; the one that sweeps low over the color of brittle corn taunting the mice and the hares. she is exquisite and brief. she will not stay long. i watch and it matters not if i am late.

at three after five in the evening i am scanning the eastern sky. it is peach over blue, whispers and ripples of cloud covering a waxing moon. i can see in the mirror it is fire behind me, but i am driving east and the cars are coming fast and i have peach over blue. at last i am driving north and the fire is burning on my left. i am swerving to the side of the road, again. the sky is the rival of all biblical sunsets, bursting in yellow and that rose-peach-orange hue that has no name. the blinker ticks and the cars rumble by and i stare at the fire that changes by the second. i say thank you three times out loud.

there is no screen, flat or hand held, that can match the color of brittle corn or harness wind under a wing or wash the sky with fire. tell me i am not the only one watching.

Monday, January 02, 2012

The Soul In Bloom~ online course and retreat

Not long ago, a question was posed to me~ where do you feel most at home? I could not answer and the not answering squeezed my heart. I realized my sense of home was shaky at best, and in that realization deeper explanations could be found.

So, I took that question and walked among the trees. The trees told me it was time to honor all aspects of home; my body as first home, my dwelling as second, the earth as third. In honoring that trinity I would finally and irrevocably come home to myself. And being at home with myself would transform my life.

I ask it of you~ where do you feel most at home? Let's find out together. Come home along with me. Let's bloom.  xo, Graciel

The Soul In Bloom
~home edition~
online course and retreat

Online~ February 25th through April 5th, 2012
Retreat~ Saturday, March 24th in Buffalo, NY

Take the online course only for $65
Take the course and come to the all day retreat for $95

Click HERE to register
{Registration closes on Friday, February 24th at bedtime in NY.}

LIKE The Soul In Bloom Facebook page.


Together, in The Soul In Bloom~ home edition, we are going to be inwardly attentive and outwardly practical. We are going to learn things that can improve the quality of our lives and make us feel more at home with ourselves. We will focus on our bodies, our dwellings and mother earth.

The 6 week online course will include lessons in the following~
  • posture alignment and breath practice
  • body chemistry and nutrition
  • releasing tension in the shoulders, neck and head
  • embracing color as a life-changing tool
  • the basics and benefits of floral design
  • sustainable square foot vegetable gardening
  • energetically cleansing our home
  •  transforming our home to support our passion
  • the healing power of trees
We will also discuss what passion/activity makes our souls feel at home, the ability of grief to re-shape our notion of what home is, and we'll show off our pets.

How~ we will meet in a private blog for lessons and videos, and share photos in a private Flickr group.
The course will remain open for 6 weeks beyond the finish date for lesson and video review.

What is needed~ you will need high speed internet, a camera and the ability to upload photos, a account (sign up for free) and flowers of your choosing for the floral design lesson.

Instructors~ Graciel, Kasia Cummings, Lisa O'Connor LMT, Christine Claire Reed, David Clark (our horticulturalist and token male!), Emmy Wild Woman, Debi Smith Kaich Jones, Kelly Letky and Dr. Amy Tolbert, PhD.

My Wish~ is that you will actively participate throughout our 6 weeks together. As much as I will teach and facilitate, I also want to learn from everyone's wisdom and examples. We all have the potential to be resources and support for each other on our journey to home. And I really want to see your pets.

The March 24th All Day Retreat
in Buffalo, NY

Some things are just more fun and effective in person. We're going to get to know each other online for 4 weeks, and then give ourselves the opportunity to deepen the connection. We're going to meet in my tiny-town-that-time-forgot on the outskirts of Buffalo, NY. I affectionately call it Mayberry. (There are no stoplights, but plenty of church bells and eateries and a creek with a waterfall close by.)

When~ Saturday, March 24th from 9am to 5pm

  • Morning refreshments (i.e. coffee and tea to settle us in)
  • Introduction circle (Remember elementary school "show and tell?" Yeh, bring a little something along from your journey to home.)
  • Tuning Fork demonstration with my favorite natural healer, Janice Meier. Everyone gets a mini balancing and the sound benefits from observing one full-body healing. 10-minute brain balancing sessions with Janice will be available after her demonstration. $10 per. If you've never experienced the peace of vibrational healing, you won't want to miss this!
  • Lunch~ everyone is on their own. Bring your own or patronize one of the 6 different eateries within spitting distance of our gathering.
  • Organic Gardening 101 with Horticulturalist David Clark. Because we need sustainable knowledge in these uncertain times, and besides, our bodies and Mother Earth would appreciate the effort. Bring your questions for David. He'll have the answers!
  • Tea tasting with ~ Bellocq Tea Atelier. Because tea is how I comfort myself and this tea company, with it's exquisite and refined blends, is the best I've ever tasted. And I am a tea snob connoisseur. I'm also related to the owner, who used to be a deputy food editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine. But nevermind that. This tea company is the bomb.
  • Closing circle and whatever comes to mind for deeper connection. We'll go with the flow.
If you can come to the Retreat, we'll square away all the details through email.
Attendance is limited.
If you're coming from out of town, we'll figure out together how to make it work. Keep in mind, Niagara Falls is about 30 or 40 minutes away from Buffalo. And Buffalo has amazing architectural wonders. (Ever heard of Frank Lloyd Wright?) Why not make a weekend out of it?

Email me at:
Take the online course only for $65
Take the course and come to the all day retreat for $95

Click HERE to register

Thank you and much love,

Sunday, January 01, 2012

The Soul In Bloom~ online course and retreat

Information on how to create a deeper feeling of home
within yourself, your dwelling and this precious earth coming January 2nd, 2012.

This is the season, the year we're going
to welcome ourselves  back home.

Stay tuned...