Fargo to Croatia – The Unknown becomes Known


The trip was scheduled – off to see the country of my husband’s birth.  Did I know much about this country of Croatia?  Did I ever remember studying it school?  I remembered Bulgaria because I did a school report on this little known in America country when I was a 5th grader.  When I met my husband, he had to draw a diagram of the eastern European countries, so I could get a visual on how the former country of Yugoslavia was set up.  

Yugoslavia was created in 1918 as a gift of the world to Serbs who risked everything during the Great War.  It was built on the ruins of two empires, Austro Hungary and Ottoman, bridging West and East.  This country is rich in history from the  beginning of time.  I won’t go into any more details about the history of these countries as it is complex and layered with many peoples and rulers.  I made an attempt to summarize the important aspects of Croatia’s history and had flashbacks of college  research papers – finding the “right” info fast and easy.  This approach  – outdated and stressful for this sensitive, brave soul  so I created a new approach…how did I feel when I was a part of this country’s world?

I made the trip to Croatia alone as my husband was already there visiting family.  It seemed to take such a long time to pack and prepare for this adventure – I consulted travel guides and friends who were in unison to the pack light phrase.  I still chose to check a big suitcase but pared down to the essentials.  My rain jacket was an excellent choice as I wore it on the one rainy day we had in the city of Pula.  My cousin lent me over the head scarfs to use as light cover ups to provide variety to the few tops I brought, were light and spiced my look up.  Good tip.  The plane was late from Fargo to Chicago.  My mood?  Mixed with anxiety, body in reactive mode from hip/shoulder issues and a little down about my ability to withstand this kind of trip.   My first journal entries weren’t lighthearted like I would have preferred.  The difference here is the awareness of my state of mind/body.  I observed the stream of negativity and just let it go onto the pages of my paper.  We were late arriving to Chicago and it looked questionable.   I literally “almost ran” with my purse and orange rolling backpack in tow.  I heard my name in the overhead speakers giving last call for the doors would be closing any minute.  My heart was in the zone – My lungs were on overload as I made my way there.  I had the image of Fred Sanford on Sanford and Son holding his chest saying” it’s the big one Elizabeth.”  I made it to my seat on the plane and the door was shut.  Luckily my seat was close, and the flight attendants were kind.  They offered me water.  After all, I’d upgraded myself to business class…now that made me smile.  Some luxuries in life are out of reach but at this time in my life, I made it a priority and for me the investment was worth it.  It made the overseas leg of the trip much better.

We arrived in Munich 8 hours later – the connecting trip to Zagreb was late and we had to take a bus to get to our airplane.  Once in the air, the pilots of Lufthansa apologized several times for the 45-minute delay – he sounded sorry and noted that it was unusual in this airport.  Once I got to Zagreb, it took time to confirm that my luggage had stayed in Chicago.  It would be 4 days before I would see it again.  Good thing I was wearing long pants with the zip off option into shorts.  The first night was spent at a lovely hotel called the Esplanade.  We were lucky to have a cousin who worked there.  It is a 5-star hotel that had origins with the Orient Express stopping there with all their luxury passengers from Paris to Istanbul.   Now this train only travels this route once a year and I don’t think it stops in Zagreb now.  I happily fell into the softness of the sheets and ate homemade cheese pie and baklava that my husband’s cousin packed for him.  The mood of the trip’s beginning had evolved.  The Aleve that I had taken had probably helped too along with all the amenities and clear weather of the flight.  Gratitude expressed!

The next day we traveled to Pula, the coastal town of Istria.  A side note, Croatian buses are not equipped with restrooms.  After 3 hours we finally stopped at the gas station….one of the male passengers had to ask with pain on his face to pull over to the side of the road and there it was.  Pula is a beautiful sea side town that is peppered with Roman ruins and cultural influences from Italy, Austria/Hungary, and Venetian among others.  Its ancient connections are such a difference from Fargo’s culture.  Here history is measured differently so as I traveled I was overcome with awe in the remnants such as the Roman Amphitheater, monuments and huge gateways constructed to create the grand presence of the times.  I’ve never traveled to see the original Roman architecture but now have the feel of it.  We stayed at the seaside resort called Del Mar.  This was a new (2011) resort with all the amenities of the family vacation – food, music (think loud 80’s American rock) and an assortment of other types of fun.  It was busy, noisy and after the initial emotional meltdown, I got to appreciate the charm of the small apt.  The first night was an adjustment from the 5-star hotel in Zagreb. The music drowned out the non-vegetarian friendly menu and I left in frustration to find the little grocery store.  Once inside I stared at the yogurt shelves unable to read the language of what types of product they were.  A woman reached in front of me and took all the containers of yogurt I thought I wanted and I just stood there – frozen, tired and teary.  I would say I got lost in the adjustment of my sensitive brain.  Research points to about 20% of the population born with a finer attunement to energies of all types, keener pain and other emotional signals.  In other words, it’s hard to just hang out and enjoy.  Yet, joy and freedom are worth the efforts of our experiences.  This knowledge has helped me understand some of the challenges of changes, being around other people and managing the mind.  I’m also developing more appreciation for this minority of people.  We are vital to the whole!  Appreciate yourself despite the circumstances.  It helps.

Pula is the home of the Roman amphitheatre or the Arena.  It is known as the emblem of the ctiy and was built in the first century.  It was rennovated by Augustus and is the 6th largest among the preserved amphitheatres in the world.  For approximately 4 centuries, it functioned as an arena with gladiator and animal fighting being a main event.  Things changed when emperor Honorius prohibited the games in 405.  In modern times, it is used to house events and music festivals and it a big tourist attraction.  There are levels underneath the theatre that we explored and learned all about how they pressed and stored olive oil.  



We spent time with a couple of my husband’s friends.  They had lived in Pula for 30 years and took us to a chapel in city Rovinj.  It was a beautiful structure with the sea all around.  A man sat on the wall overlooking the water and played Stairway to Heaven on the guitar.  Amazing contrast and one of my highlights.  They took us to a monastery where we heard a young local chamber orchestra play classical music.  The one monk that resides there listened out of sight in the upper level while the light from his room glowed. I remember thinking it was special in some way.   Olive trees are prolific in many areas of Istria and the olive oil produced there is some of the best in the world.  We took a class to learn the many details of how to select good olive oil.  A grassy taste and smell, not bitter or pungent and buying from companies that bottle and produce the oil in the same place.  Truffles are another delight in Croatia.  It is a rare mushroom product that is harvested by first finding them.  Dogs or sometimes pigs are used to locate them as they are underground.  They are highly valued and have aphrodisac effects or so I’m told.  I ate them several times waiting to see if I felt something.  They are used in tiny quantities and mixed with food such as pasta and vegetables.

There are many islands around Istria and one that we visited was called Brijuni.  This was the island Tito, the Yugoslavian President, spent 6 months of the year while in power.  He had a zoo built to house all the exotic animals he got as gifts from famous dignitaries, movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren and leaders from around the world.  We couldn’t see his home but got a firsthand view of the area, artifacts, lots of stuffed animals from the zoo and his famous Cadillac convertible he only drove on the island.  This was a favorite place of my husband as he remembered Tito and his powerful god-like influence over the people in the Yugoslavia.  I enjoyed the ferry ride, the blue waters, the lunch served on the boat and the time spent on an uninhabited island that many use for day trips.  It was the home of a psychiatric facility, a school for disabled children and a monastery. This was one of my favorite spots – the history and the energy was palpable.  I enjoyed meditating and watching a man dive off the rocks into the sea.  

Another highlight was our day trip to the inland of Istria.  We hired a guide and made our way to Groznjan and Motovun, both castles from ancient times and both still inhabited with people, mainly artisans and city workers living in close quarters and I imagined very connected with each other.  We had lunch at a winery in the country where we were greeted with shots of Mistletoe liquor.  I went with the local wine, enjoyed while the bees hugged the windows and men worked the land just outside.   I am happy to say that I didn’t run from the restaurant fearing the bees which I’ve been known to do.  Instead I just watched them as they came to the table from time to time to check out the food.  They were happy bees.

We had contemplated a ferry to Venice which would have been a 6 AM to 11 PM kind of a day.  As romantic as it sounded I decided to listen more to my body which needed some rest from all the activities.  Part of the challenge of the trip was testing my endurance as my recovery from “life injuries” was still ongoing.  At one point 1000 touristy steps proved too many and I needed to slow it down a little.  I was brought up to push through challenging times.  When the going gets tough the tough get going was my motto for many of my crazy busy years.  I’ve needed to learn new strategies – sometimes kicking and screaming – my mind yearning  for the old.  Anxiety or negative emotions are the result of resistance to what life is really calling for you to do.  This trip was a challenge and a gratitude practice.   I admire the natural travelers of the world while accepting and appreciating my own travel style.  Note to the interested:   Travel business class.  I did for 2 legs of the trip.  Yes, yes and yes.  No guilt.  Just appreciation.

Croatia is a beautiful country, full of history and beautiful people.  I felt safer there walking around than I would here in our cities given that there are very few guns there.  Our friends told us that to even get a gun it would be a long and arduous process.  Interesting.  Economically, people seem to struggle a little more to make ends meet and build careers…. but there is positive movement, lower unemployment now and a growing tourist industry.   Lessons from my road?  Respect your traveling style and get outside your comfort zone – whatever that may mean.  Each of us has that felt sense of leaving the known and facing the unknown.  We are, after all, made of of “mostly space” and very little matter.  Being able to center oneself and learn be comfortable in our own unknowns is BIG.  Beginning  a meditation practice last year  was helpful to ground and manage my emotional fears and physical challenges while traveling.  I suggest any type of mind relaxation that can get us out of ourselves so to speak and allow the connection to the universe show itself in whatever way is right for you.  I send gratitude to my husband who got to be born there which enabled me to have the experience.

Allow life to work for you while you do the work on yourself.  Here’s to life’s adventures!


Watercolor Painting – Be Your Own Star

Watercolor Painting – Be Your Own Star  


I recently completed a 4-day watercolor painting class taught by Ellen Jean Diedrerich from Fargo, ND.  She is a well-known and  talented artist.   This was a “beginner” class but I surmised that I may have been the only novice.  Being a practiced “mindful person” I saw this beginning status as an asset.  

Did I have a book called Beginning to Paint loaned from a well-seasoned, paint enlightened friend?  Yes. Did I open and read it prior to class?  No.  My brain wouldn’t allow it.  Can I blame my brain?  Sometimes I do that.  First, I’m an experiential learner which means “learning through refection on doing”.    I grew up in the conventional culture of conformity, sitting still, memorizing and comparing.   The older I got the trickier it became and by the time I reached college, I began to realize that I would need to learn some study skills.  I attended my first year at then Mary College in Bismarck, ND.    I perceived myself as being a decent student, but it was difficult to learn and memorize all the material that was required.  I thought in concepts and for me, it needed to come together in some understandable format to really digest it.  I finished the year with a C average across the board and I told myself that was ok…. yet I remember that feeling of discontent of why I couldn’t magically get all the information that was pumped out.  I knew there was more within – I just couldn’t reach in and get it.  I remember getting cordially nudged out of certain fields of study and the subtle messages I perceived as not being a star in anything.   I used to draw pictures of beauty queens with stars surrounding them, big smiles on their faces, always thin and always beautiful.  I wanted to be a star, but society’s road was narrow.

Social Work became my focus in large part because I had a mentor, one that I experienced as a good and caring person.  She also saw something inside of me …. This dovetailed with one of my childhood visions of being like Albert Schweitzer and find ways to help in the world…another big star for humanity.  I often hear from others that they don’t have a vision of where they belong, what they should do etc.  Often, this vision eluded to  in others and myself is the desire to feel good, content, happy or fulfilled depending on your school of thought and that is subjective to each one of us.  Wondrously, creativity relates with these  inner stars of happiness and fulfillment.  The more avenues we find to connect these inner stars, the better.  When they shine, our energy centers can flow with ease, our bodies can move with more flexibility and our strength grows.  The inner core of the body is more important to strengthen than the outer limbs and core muscles.  That inner core can include how you think, how you manage emotions, your beliefs, and your past experiences.  One of the exercises I use to get a perspective on inner  core health – Stand in front of a large mirror nude and observe your reaction.  Spend a minute really looking.    Where are those stars  when you need it?  Where is that beautiful self-talk and the encouraging voice to help you along your life path?  This research will give you clues to those things that may need changing.

Day 1  My first day of painting class went  like this.  I compared, felt overwhelmed and wondered why I was even there.  I learned about basic brush strokes, the color wheel and the importance of design and shapes.  I didn’t do well in geometry or math and avoided these kinds of things but here these shapes were set up in front of me; cones, boxes, pyramids, garlic containers, and whatever else.  I didn’t know about drawing from the right side of the brain which I am exploring now.  Then, I just knew frustration.  I called my artist friend that evening and basically vented – sharing the “it’s too hard” mantra of my childhood.  But now, I have learned just to be aware of the thoughts, then find creative or positive strategies to cope.  At my age, sometimes its’ easier just to coast and avoid the challenges.  Is this healthy for the brain?  Avoiding stress can sometimes be a prescription for health but avoiding the creative parts of self is damaging in the long run.  So, I chose the path of stress with the hopes of a good outcome.

Day 2  It was better – we got to “color” from the color wheel, draw circles and combine colors.  I learned how designers choose the best compliments and layouts for environments and how artists can create paintings from just a few colors.  I was still hesitant to mix the colors and learned why not to use black or white except on rare occasions.  I listened to my inner critic for good parts of the day as I drew and painted the first picture of a hydrangea.  I put the picture on Facebook and got a few positive comments from my husband, my mom, and my childhood babysitter.  Now that is love.   

Day 3  This was my emotional day.  I was late, had clients prior to the class and said goodbye to my son leaving home to move across the country.  Our project was to find a picture we wanted to paint, draw and paint a grid and begin the work.  A grid is this underlying drawing of boxes that you paint with a few colors.  This serves as a base for the painting.  The picture I brought in was a complex group of flowers that I grabbed off the wall.  It wasn’t a thoughtful process and one I learned from.  The lesson – to think with intention before you create.    Tension developed from the start and involved a change of pictures; a rough day of trial and error.  I needed lots of direction from Ellen and even her repairs couldn’t fix the issues.  I started a new painting for fun which I liked a little better, but it looked like it was one of those 3rd grade tree pictures.     As a child, I painted like I thought I should, compared a lot and got by in the average lane.  I’m realizing how the potential didn’t have the chance to grow – I was too busy surviving.  This class has connected more of these dots from childhood.

Day 4  Ellen is eager to share the wisdoms of the watercolor art.  She gave us her book called Progressive Painting.  She shared the inspirations of the why she wrote this book.  I was amazed at her process as an artist and a business builder.  Being in my own private practice, I understand the need to blend the art and the money.  We all need to survive while we “strive to thrive” as I like to say.  I was drawn to the class by the colors since I work with the rhythms of the emotional body.  I’m keen now to the energetics and colors of the body, the frequencies of words, products we use, thoughts we think about and behaviors we engage in.  It all matters.  Emotions are the powerful drivers for us humans – that’s how we end up in the messes that can teach us the way of finding peace within ourselves.  At the end of this day there is a critique session where each person presents their art.  Since I’d needed to leave early for a work obligation I discussed mine early.  Secretly, I was relieved to avoid the group reaction to what I had accomplished.  Now, I wish I would devoted my entire day to the class and stayed to present this oddly shaped disaster of mine.  The more I think of it the more pleased I am to think of all the learning this little piece inspired.  Do I now have an appreciation of why I have avoided this art until now?  Yes. In the midst of this  “trudgery” I have discovered tiny glimpses of my own truth – my own voice of creative expression which can be empowering and ripple into other aspects of life.                      

Creativity is a given for some people – they are born with an innate perception for the arts, yet they may have challenges in other areas.  I’m realizing we are all filled with creativity – it just varies in  its form.  My emotional artistry can be quite amazing when used to understand the emotions of others.  When I work with couples, the intensity of these emotions can be sensed like waves hitting the shores.  When we find the right path to transform the painful ones to higher frequency feelings such as compassion, love or caring the result is better relationship.    It’s our job to find it the things we need to do/learn to be who we were born to be.  I refer to listening to the heart in many of therapy sessions.  Just a simple hand on your heart helps remind the brain what really matters.  The more I explore my creative side, the more that life opens, and this openness creates flow and health in the body.  There is an essential oil blend called I love that when used on the body or inhaled can help inspire the heart energy.  The essential oils of Rose, Clary Sage, Patchouli, Ylang Ylang Complete, Rosewood, Palmarosa, Spikenard, Neroli, Jasmine, Sandalwood, Lavender, fine; Dragon’s Blood, Cedarwood Atlas, Elemi, Grapefruit, pink; Marjoram, sweet; Petitgrain, and Cypress.  What a power blend!  In hindsight, I should have used this every day.

A star is born?  Usually I would say of course not, I don’t have talent.  Now that those words are out of the way I can expand that to say a few  stars were found in the process.  I think we are the product of many little stars – scientifically speaking of course.  Do the research.  In the meantime, pursue creativity even though…. Stress/illness/grief/depression/anxieties/ADD/obligations are just a few blockers to our inner stars.  Reach out, seek support and be perseverant.  I will continue to seek my painting passions – adding it to my therapy toolbag, more appreciation for art, or continuing practice sketches and simple watercolor pieces.  Thank you, Ellen, for  sharing your gifts and talents.  It makes a difference!



Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety

Heart Power – Transforming Stress and Anxiety


Stress and Anxiety – Synonymous with life in the current culture.  Sometimes we are oblivious to its impact on our very lives.  At other times we minimize or rationalize it, “normal” for  living in today’s world.  As a therapist for many years, I have a unique perspective of how this all works – on our beliefs, attitudes and relationships.  Emotions, real and perceived have a powerful effect on our lives and lifestyle we choose to follow.  One way humans are unique in the mammal world is that we can create stress with a thought.  Compare that with a deer.  When they perceive a threat, they go into high alert with all the stress hormones working together to assess and deal with the threat.  When the threat passes, they quickly return to their regular routine, all body systems operating at the parasympathetic level – meaning relaxed and ok.  We have an 18 yr.  old cat that reminds us daily of these differences.  For many years, I lived the life of worker bee with the passion to help others and a desire to be seen in a positive light from others around me and in the community.  When I did take time for myself, I tried to manage a marriage, exercised, went to church and tried to create the best home life for my children.  In other words, time was at a premium and stress levels were high.  As life would have it , there were more bumps in my life than I had anticapated.

Get ready.  I hadn’t intended to get divorced or co-parent and found myself coping with the stigmas of relationship failures and parenting challenges.   In my 20’s I went through 2 divorces and had one child.  In my 30’s I had another marriage and another child and later in my 40’s I had another divorce.  I couldn’t figure out why my life wasn’t going according to this grand plan that I had dreamed up.   I was filled with anxieties that I had no vocabulary for.  I was educated in the realm of social work, had spent many years in service to helping others have a better life, yet didn’t have the answers or understanding to tune into what I needed to change.    From a young age I was passionate about helping and relationships. Unfortunately, the road to understanding was long.  Despite theses  failures life did take some wonderful turns after the decision was made to find the way in to understand myself and tap into the wisdoms of my heart.  My son introduced me to this quote from Samuel Beckett that is now a tatoo of character:  Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better. 

I walked the walk and tried to fit the mold and still wonder why I missed the many flags along the way.   I sometimes ponder the life that would have been if I had really understood the ways of anxiety, mood and thought.  I walked around with chronic anxiety and didn’t even know it. Now, I am realizing new perspectives of hardships and challenges that all humans have in one way or another.  Joe Dispenza refers to genetic destiny as the path that many will follow based on the learnings and conditionings of their earlier life, sometimes way earlier life.  We bring into this life emotional DNA which is related to the physical DNA characteristics we are born with.  Some refer to these energies as karma or perhaps past lives and there are many theories about this phenomenon.  My focus keys into the choices we have at various times throughout our lives.  These choices involve questioning ourselves and learning lessons we need to learn given our soul essences.  We can make changes and are not locked into our genetic destinies if we make the choice to do so.   “Be all you can be” or “Live up to your potential” or “You have to go through the fire to get to the gold” are some of the phrases that come to mind related to these critical times in our life.  Failures can turn into successes beyond our knowledge at the given time.  The key here is intention.  What do you really, really want.  I really wanted healthy love relationships.  Later on in my life path I met my husband; the one I had envisioned in my heart but not been able to realize until I had made significant changes and learned the lessons life was giving me.  Other positive and supportive  relationships have evolved and hopefully will continue.  Learning is a life long pursuit as they say…and very good for brain health…challenging the status quo and stepping into the unknown.

I recently returned from a conference in Sedona, AZ where the energies of the earth are particularly strong.  I was reminded again of the importance of stepping out of the comfort zone to “Embracing Bliss” (the name of the conference) where many new and creative ideas were shared and experienced.  Prior to this conference, I had decided to read and implement some of the practices of one of the presenters.  Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Joe Dispenza was the book that tapped into my mind.  Learning ways to quiet the mind and be in the zone of No-thing the goal.  To design the life you desire and taking the steps on this path to see it manifest are highlighted in the book.  Mind blowing, yet I was open to experiment and work the steps so to speak.  Sometimes we are drawn to things – books, experiences, opportunities etc. that make us Feel.  This is the time for questioning yourself and following up on the draw of emotion in the response to whatever grabbed you.  I learned that about 60% of us humans have addictive behaviors that cause us suffering and that the keys include knowledge about ourselves and practices to tap into this self…and the better we know ourselves the less we fear change.

A primary job of a therapist is to help others tap into that inner self that really does know what to do and release those negative beliefs/emotions that have caused untold havoc.  We all have the secret knowledge and keys to a good life underneath all the stress layers formed over time.  The puzzle is how to tap into it without having to retreat from life and meditate/pray for long hours.  Greg Braden, researcher, scientist and spiritual teacher spoke about the heart brain – that our hearts contain 40,000 sensory neurons that are active in affecting our behaviors.  It’s where the wisdom lies in a sense.  You may have heard the phrase, “Listen to your heart”; now there is science to back this up.  Heartmath’s website indicates that “the heart’s input to the brain during stressful or negative emotions also has a profound effect on the brain’s emotional processes—actually serving to reinforce the emotional experience of stress. In contrast, the more ordered and stable pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect – it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive feelings and emotional stability. This means that learning to generate increased heart rhythm coherence, by sustaining positive emotions, not only benefits the entire body, but also profoundly affects how we perceive, think, feel, and perform.”  I purchased a bio-feedback tool that connects with your heartrate, measures the variability of the beats and lets you know when you are “out of coherence”.  It works with a smartphone and an app.  Finally, a gadget I could figure out!

When you learn how to tap into this inner wisdom, there is the potential to access deep intuition on demand.

Heart/brain coherence practice: 

The best part is the ease of this practice.  There are 3 steps.

  1. Touch your heart with your hand of fingers, whatever feels comfortable.
  2. Breath into your heart and slow down your breath just a little.  Maybe count to 5 on the inhale and the exhale.
  3. Think/experience gratitude, thoughts of appreciation, compassion or love for at least 3 minutes.
  4. Notice how you feel.

This has been powerful as I have worked with this practice and have seen the benefits in with those I teach it to.  I encourage you to research this and practice yourself.  It does involve closing your eyes from the environment that is so seductive with all its constant distractions.  We can easily succumb to the addictions of stress hormones of the daily grind but the power of really getting our heart’s desires is to create this quiet state; to really listen to what it is your heart – true self really needs to create happiness.  Couples that can enter this practice together have the potential to bypass trouble and create the life best for each other.  I am excited to experiment and see the results.    Let’s get to work!




Wake up and Change – The Search for Inspiration



A book ran across my screen last week…. and for some reason I paused and read the summary.  The Plant Paradox by Steven Gundry MD is about the “hidden dangers” in healthy foods.  These types of books don’t normally stick but I started reading immediately and just finished it.  Audio books, for me, are a great invention as I can walk around, be active and still read.   I was immediately inspired.  There is no logical answer as to why.  I felt my body engage – motivation to keep reading was on and I felt “obsessed” to understand it.  This is a book about change – how to change your body by changing your gut.  I frequently see adds and info on products, weight loss strategies, and ways to improve health and usually skim through them.  I haven’t made significant changes to my diet for a couple of years and that was only because I had to when my husband decided to be a vegan; meaning no dairy, meat or animal products.  I adjusted to a moderated diet and considered myself a vegetarian that ate fish.  I chose not to be rigid or restrictive in my choices because for me, being flexible felt healthier.  Nevertheless, it was a change.

Over the last few years, I’ve noticed changes in my body related to resilience, joints, muscle pain and energy.  I’ve tried to “figure it out” and find ways to reverse these symptoms.  I’ve had some successes but problems remain.  Pain on any level is a motivator so if you are a positive thinker, there it is!  Soon, another type of change is coming….one that will significantly alter the way I think about food and the way I consume it.   Some time back, I wrote a blog on “My fat story” which highlighted my journey as an obese child/teen and how I came to grips with it, made changes and moved forward.  I needed to be strict with myself for some time as that was the only way my mind could think of to lose weight. My memory of these major diet changes connects with the original Weight Watchers program in the 70’s.  Yes, I ate cans of french style beans and tuna fish, the ones where you could run your finger around the can’s edges and see the gray residues.  I was allowed 2 slices a day of Sweetheart white bread, hot dogs with mustard (no ketchup) once a week and lots of chicken, iceberg lettuce and weight watchers salad dressing sold in tiny packets filled with preservatives.  This was followed by diet soda, artificial sweeteners and an array of sugar free jello desserts.  You may be getting the picture of how much I was influenced by the culture – far removed from healthy human development but capitalism and the ads of the 60’s were in full swing – the power of the spin.  We all continue to be onslaught by media only far more and most people’s minds are spinning – which is part of the increased anxiety symptoms seen and high demands for mental health care.  More and more I am seeing the urgency to wake up from the culture spin and find truth an as I find strategies to coax myself out of this culture coma I experience many rewards.  When I started my study of essential oils, my knowledge was limited – basically started from scratch.  This relationship with the oils of nature has evolved and grown to include an even bigger perspective.  Now, on to repairing and finding ways to support my gut buddies as Dr. Gundry calls them.  His book is filled with knowledge of our guts chemistry and alchemy to keep us humans going.  He also has a history of being obese and trying all kinds of things to find a healthy weight and body.

Greatness begins with inspiration.   Now, I’m ready to sweat a bit and do the research needed to begin this life change.  First, it’s understanding to a reasonable degree what the science is and since I’ve “felt” it to be worth doing now, to balance this felt sense with logic.   Remember the Logic of Love and Emotion?  That is one of the central themes of creating healthy love relationships –  love is a feeling and creating a healthy relationship is work.  Tools are the communication skills.   In positive relationships this work has many rewards vs in unhealthy relationships this work may feel endless, discouraging or frequently frustrating.   I refer to the spin couples can find themselves in as emotional allergies.  Over time, we’ve all seen the impact of these emotional spins.  Creating a healthy body while in a healthy relationship – consider the potential!

Loving ourselves is where the power is yet we need the power and gifts of nature to help.  I am beginning to see a human-plant relationship in my thinking!  Dr. Gundry states, “My philosophy centers around the fact that the human digestive system is a very complex and very sensitive machine. It needs key energy sources that you’re not getting in your diet… and at the same time, it’s damaged by a vast number of foods that are a big part of our “Standard American Diet.”  What I’m learning is the importance of Polyphenols, the negative effects of lectins found in many types of processed and unproperly cooked foods, and finding the balance of bacteria in your gut.  As a therapist I am more keenly aware of the brain and the need to take care of it.  Its health is intimately entwined with our digestive system.  This isn’t new information but like I said I was inspired to take a closer look at what I was feeding my brain/body.  I want to feel better too!   I want an intimate relationship with my own body. The more we understand about our bodies the better we will be able to control what’s going on with it.    This will require some changes to my daily routines and have already spent a few days discarding foods like peanuts, cashews, breads and crackers, processed salad dressings and paying close attention to the labels of things to avoid additives.  Just in the few days that I’ve tried some of the changes my body has given me “I like you” signals. I’m happy about the dark chocolate and a little bit of coffee part.  Red wine can keep its place from time to time as well.  The book identifies lists of say yes to foods and say no to foods that seem handy enough.  I ‘m gathering my materials.  He reminds people that one can start where they need to start and only gives suggestions.  I’m excited and will keep you posted.

Winter is a challenging season for many reasons we are all familiar with.  Foot soaks with dead sea salts and essential oils soothes and provides vital minerals and magnesium that most of us need more of.  Earlier this month, I participated in a health fair sponsored by Natural Grocers in Fargo.  The individuals I visited with had genuine interest in essential oils and the holistic concepts of health.  Let’s keep the awareness going.  Maybe I should have added that to the Women’s march agenda last weekend.  My sign may have read -Support Natural Health Care NOW!  Somehow, my inspiration didn’t coax me out the door into the cold of Fargo.   Finally, Green Organics has a new line of hemp products which I am excited to try.  The hemp is grown in Kentucky and is organic.  It is naturally rich in Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 Essential Fatty Acids.  It comes in drops which you place under the tongue.  BTW it is 100% legal.  HBNaturals, the sister company of goDesana highlights the same strict quality standards as how essential oils are chosen and tested.  It’s marketed as a full spectrum oil and aids the brain/body in regulating sleep, appetite, pain modulation, mood enhancement and libido through the introduction of hemp-derived cannabinoids like the CBT oil.

What Is The Endocannabinoid System?

The endogenous cannabinoid system, named after the plant that led to its discovery, is perhaps the most important physiologic system involved in establishing and maintaining human health. Endocannabinoids and their receptors are found throughout the body: in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands and immune cells. In each tissue, the cannabinoid system performs different tasks, but the goal is always the same: homeostasis, the maintenance of a stable internal environment despite fluctuations in the external environment. Cannabinoids are designed to promote homeostasis at every level of life.

The endocannabinoid system, with its complex actions in our immune system, nervous system and all of the body’s organs, is literally a bridge between body and mind. By understanding this system we begin to see a mechanism that explains how states of consciousness can promote health or disease.  This information was gleaned from HBNaturals so I will be searching more sources as I become more aquainted with it.

Don’t worry, no getting high here – just all the other benefits.  For more info check it out at  http://www.hbnaturals.com/newpath

This will be interesting to study and see the results.  I’ll keep an open mind.  For now, learning and experimenting will be on my schedule.  Inspiration can come to you at any moment.  Set an intention to invite this inspiration to come into your life in a surprising/unexpected way.  Take time to mediate or reflect quietly in prayer and get familiar with your thoughts – the ones that are important and the ones you want to send down the river.  Have a great month.  As always, please let me know if I can help you in your health journey.  Life loves you!


Essential Oils and Family Wellness

Fall is the season of preparation.  Rich, autumn colors abound here in the Red River valley….so many lovely pictures of the trees, the colors and spending precious time outside before the transition to winter.  I am busy in preparation for the family wellness class at Natural Grocers/Fargo on October 19th from 7-8 PM.     Here are some of the highlights and topics to be addressed.
The information comes in part from my training with Alexandria Brighton at her Institute for botanical studies in Idaho.  There is more and more interest in using natural means of treating illnesses, diseases, and pain,as we hear way too much about the consequences and side effects of synthetic drugs and OTC medicines.  The symptoms may be relieved temporarily but the person is often left in a worse condition.  Being able to help yourself and others with more natural options is one way to love and care for  yourself and nurture others.
I will be referring to topical and inhalation forms of using essential oils.  These are the most common and are safe for all age groups.
There are two terms to be aware of in topical usage.  Penetration is the actual entry of essential oil molecules into and through the skin.  Permeation is the subsequent absorption or uptake of the substance into the body and available to the body systemically.  Using oils on the hands and feet are the fastest way to get them into the body to help and heal.  It was once thought that using essential oils on the skin didn’t get through.  We now know that essential oils can reach the basil epidermal cells.

Diagram of the Human Skin

It’s so amazing how intricate and cooperative our bodies are with each other.  Our bodies want to be well and in sync but as we know there are many things that can throw it off balance.  Stresses of life are everywhere and life has given us the  job to manage them. We all handle and process stress differently depending on our temperaments and experiences.  A reaction on our skin may indicate an imbalance in our hormones, or internal organs which reflects there.  I had a spot of excema recently and learned that this can be a sign of that imbalance so I made some dietary shifts, hydrated my body and skin more, used some essential oils  and monitored it.  The Dr’s have limited knowledge in many of these conditions beyond the dysfunction itself.  Cedarwood is known to help with eczema so will add that to a carrier oil and use that.  Fall brings dryer air and all things related to that – skin, respiratory, and flu viruses.
The oils I will mention in the Oct. class will all be ones with a high level of safety to use in pregnancy, with children and elderly.  My mother recently told me taking a bath with rose geranium oil was rejuvenating.  She now has the habit of looking up the essential oils that are useful with whatever symptom she or my father are experiencing.  One caution  – never put essential oil in the ear canal.  Ear relief oil is wonderful to put around the outside of the ear but is not safe to put inside.  This happened recently to my father who was unaware of this and put a drop of Ravintsara in the ear canal.  It caused burning and some irritation for a few hours.   He was able to dilute olive oil on a cotton ball and remove any of the excess oil there.  Avoid using water to wipe away essential oils.  It doesn’t work.  Use any type of quality carrier oils such as almond, sesame, olive or grapeseed.  The following essential oils/blends are selected ones for each topic area.  There are many variations to use as you become more familiar.
Family Wellness  – Protect the environment
Protector Blend which is a blend of Sage, Ocean Pine, Eucalyptus globulus, Lemongrass, Juniper Berry, Spruce, black; Eucalyptus citriodora, Tea Tree, Cypress, Frankincense, Thyme ct. linalool, and Jojoba.   This mighty blend can do almost anything in the fighting germs department.  Diffusing 15- 20 drops when there is sickness in the house prevents germs from spreading.  Dr. Jean Valnet, MD, a well known aromatherapist reports that the oils in Protector can eliminate 70% of step bacteria when diffused.
HOUSEHOLD • Add 30 drops to washing machine or dishwasher to prevent the spread of germs. • Add 5 drops to soap dispensers to prevent the spread of germs. • Add 5 drops to water when hand-washing dishes. • Add 60 drops to goDésana Spray & Wipe Cleaner (16oz) to increase germ fighting properties. • Keep a misting bottle in every room of your home for a quick clean and disinfectant wipe.   The Spray and Wipe Cleaner referred to here is also very effective on wood.  It’s so much better than “Lemon Pledge”  which I used for years and believed it to be healthy for the house.  Logically, we now know all the chemicals/synthetics that are there and all absorbed by us!  Let’s help our livers in our bodies all we can and decrease it’s workload.
MISTING • Mix 15-20 drops into 4 ounces of distilled water in a cobalt blue glass or PET plastic spray bottle. Shake vigorously and mist into the environment to cleanse your surrounding air.
MOLD & BACTERIA • Use misting spray on surfaces where mold or bacteria are growing. • Diffuse Protector in rooms where mold and bacteria are known to be present.  This blend can even kill bed bugs so when you are traveling take a 2 oz cobalt blue spray bottle filled with distilled water and add 12-14 drops.
Prevention, knowledge and do the best you can seems to be the words as we usher in the cooler season and indoor living.  Less sunlight means a change in how our bodies operate so be aware of that and adjust Vitamin D and key nutrients of life such as magnesium and anti-oxidants that fight viruses and bacteria.  Plenty of clean, filtered water and eating an alkaline diet are important keys. To supplement our “sunlight needs”  a sun box that mimics natural light of the sun is worth considering.  I have mine out and when it’s cloudy will use it for 20-30 minutes in the mornings.  Do your research on best one to purchase or let me know as I have information I can send you.   Stress management is the another key to preventing illness.  It’s important to understand how you have learned to react to stress.  Habits that are unhealthy can be changed…not so much our temperament..    We all have our own personalities that play a role in how we take care of our own health and immune system.  If you have a chance to learn about your personality this will help you manage your health.  Tests such as Meyers-Briggs and the Enneagram are a couple of good ones.  When we do get sick, essential oils can help fight the germs and feel better about the whole process.  The go-to oils for children and seniors (adults are included)  at times of cold and flu are:
Breathe blend, Ravintsara
Eucalyptus radiata, Spearmint
Eucalyptus globulus, Thyme ct. ,inalool
Lemon, Tea Tree
Protector, Wellness for Kids
It is wise to keep on hand at least 2 bottles of Ravintsara for every child in the house, as well as Wellness for Kids, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus radiata, Lemon (especially for diffusing) Eucalyptus globulus and Protector for washing machines, dishwashers and disinfectants. A very effective nighttime treatment (when cold symptoms are often the worst) is to diffuse Eucalyptus radiata while sleeping. You can also diffuse several drops each of the following oils combined: Eucalyptus, Lavender, Lemon, and Peppermint.
At the first sign of a cold get the oils out.  Wellness for adults or kids depending on your age.  This oil blends contains Organic Eucalyptus Radiata, Tea Tree, Ravintsara, Oregano, Cinnamon Bark, Organic Clove Bud, Organic Palmarosa, Peppermint or Eucalyptus Radiata, Ravintsara, Thyme ct. linalool, Lemon, Tea Tree.  
The wellness for adults blend is a little stronger so it depends on your life stage which one you choose to use.  I’ve got mine on the nightstand ready for the season.
Emotions and Mood
The wellness of any family is related to how they cope with the ups and downs.  Humans were designed with powerful emotions.  When they are not expressed in an open and healthy way, they get swallowed or stored in the body and manifest in another way.  When kids have temper tantrums, we see the beginnings of this power.  In an ideal situation they would gradually learn ways to get their needs met and express emotions in a positive way and learn the lessons they need to be happy and joyful.  We all deserve to  experience this joy – as has been said,  “it is our birthright.”
Essential oils can aid in this process.  I invite you to have some faith in the plant world.  As always, it is important to look for organic, and therapeutic grade oils.  Alexandria Brighton, the formulator for the oils I use is committed to this and has put in a rigorous testing protocol for all the essential oils they order.  In past classes, we have targeted depression, anxiety, mood swings and grief as well as everyday life stresses.  Each day I assess my intention or challenge and choose an appropriate oil for that day.  Here are some of the common ones:
Calm – Primary Uses: Relaxation, Calming, Sleep, Addictions
Children and adults alike find this blend very relaxing, particularly if they are over-stimulated and cannot fall asleep. This sweet-smelling blend can assist the nervous system while breaking life-draining addictions. Its beautiful fragrance helps one’s nerves to remain calm when feeling over-tired or stressed.  It has tangerine, orange, grapefruit, rose and Ylang Ylang in this blend.  It has been called “Angel Mist” when you combine 20 drops of calm with 4 oz of distilled water in a spray bottle.
Dispel Fear – This blend combines Organic Vetiver, Geranium, rose; Rose, Organic Palmorosa, and Neroli.  A note about Neroli;  it’s one of the best to decrease anxiety and strong emotions/panic attacks.  Geranium and Rose has a powerful impact on depressive symptoms – one of my mother’s favorites for a sad mood.  
Tangerine – We can also include other citrus oils such as Lemon, Orange and Grapefruit.  They are all uplifting and good for focus and mental clarity.  Tangerine is especially noted for helping with anxiety.  I often diffuse these oils to cleanse, freshen and help focus!
Bergamot – This is also considered a citrus, blood orange fruit.  The special properties of this single oil is it’s anti-depressant properties.  This oil in referred to as “Nature’s Prozac.”  
Dragon Fire – Dragon Fire is a proprietary blend, uniquely formulated to target negative energy of the most profound, insidious, and damaging nature and transmute that energy to life-affirming, life-enhancing energy.  Dragon Fire is of great benefit when used topically and/or environmentally in areas where major trauma has taken place, such as abuse, divorce, bankruptcy, violence, or death. Emotionally supportive and strengthening, it can create an energetic shift, powerfully and effectively, without one having to re-live the original trauma.
An important component of this blend is an essential oil known as Dragon’s Blood, which has been extracted from the resin of Daemonorops draco Blume, a palm indigenous to marshy regions of southwest Asia with a long history of use in neutralizing negative energies.  This is the oil I call “the big gun” because there are times in life when we face the fires so to speak.  I suggest putting this in a misting spray (12-15 drops) and spray it in the environment of the “fire” in your life.  I sometimes put several drops on a cotton ball and have clients hold it as they talk about difficult topics.  
Frankincense – Has a long history of healing on many levels.  It has been shown to slow down and deepen the breath.  It has been used in many ways, to calm anxieties, deepen meditation and prayer times as well as aiding in other ailments of the body.  This is one of my go-to’s in helping calm the nervous system.  
Focus –Primary Uses: Focus, Concentration, Mental Sharpness – Basil, sweet; Lemon, Organic Rosemary 1,8 cineole, Geranium, rose; Peppermint
This blend is wonderfully supportive when increased mental alertness is required such as when driving long distances, studying, doing book work, or taking tests. It is of great benefit when mental performance is required and extra concentration is needed. Focus blend helps to stimulate the logical left-brain thought processes, while preventing mental fatigue.
Diffuse, use in a personal inhaler, dab on the temples or brain reflex points of the feet
Grief Relief –Primary Uses: Grief, Sadness, Depression  Organic Bergamot, Cedarwood, atlas; Clary Sage, Cypress, Rose, Spikenard
When one is unable to process grief, it remains raw and even years later can feel as though the experience happened just yesterday. Grief Relief helps keep the heart center open and processing sadness or grief at the speed of life, so that the source can actually resolve, and not just fade into unconsciousness. This blend resonates with the heart and acts as a soothing balm, allowing healing to take place.
Primary Uses: Inspiration, Abundance, Finances, Depression, Anxiety, Environment –  Patchouli, Organic Orange, sweet; Cinnamon Bark, Organic Ginger Root, Organic Spruce, black; Nutmeg
Energize your surroundings with the radiant and magnetic energy of prosperity. Prosper blend contains essential oils from spices which, in ancient times, were considered more valuable than gold. This blend represents prosperity and abundance in all its forms—increased opportunity, financial gain, abundant friends, and increased health and wellbeing. It has been one of the top-selling essential blends over the past 20 years.
Prosper blend has, as Alexandria Brighton has taught, spices that in ancient times were considered more valuable than gold. It represents prosperity and abundance in all forms, and is used to energize our surroundings with the radiant, magnetic energy of joy and prosperity. This is a marvelously supportive blend to aid in expanding the energy of abundance in one’s personal life.
This class will focus on some ways to to help you and your family in everyday life as we learn and explore ways to integrate healing essential oils in a safe and healthy way.  As always, don’t hesitate to contact me for additional information.  I also provide the services of  personal aromatherapy consultations and chakra assessments incorporating the chakra blend essential oils.  

Emotions/ Lifestyle and Upcoming Classes


Summer in Fargo, ND is embraced by most of us who live here as a gift that is time limited. Trees and vegetation are lush and happy; the gardens are growing and the markets are outdoors….like the farmers markets of the city.  The topic today is related to nature, balance and some of the bumps in the road.    I continue to be amazed at the workings of the relationships in the  body.  In my own healing journey I am realizing more and more the power of knowledge and discernment.  Scents that hit our noses are packed full of knowledge in the chemical molecules.  In recent studies from Science AAAS, humans can distinguish up to 1 trillion scents vs the 10,000 that had previously been thought to be our human capacity.  Even those with rather poor sense of smell had the ability to distinguish 80 million.  Our immune network is a vast combination of interactive cellular communities, chemical potions of molecules, and the individual’s daily experience: attitudes, emotions, stresses, and happiness.  The immune organization is truly a body-mind experience.  In one of my classes with Alexandria Brighton, the aromatherapy formulator, we explored the system of the white blood cells defense/types of immune cells and was in awe of the different classes of cells and how they can learn to detect and protect.


NK “Natural Killer” cells are the earliest defenders against viral infections, killing virus-infected cells directly within hours of attack, even before the rest of the immune collaboration takes place.  These cells are sensitive to lifestyle and emotions.  This has been measured in the labs: If you are feeling lonely or depressed, your NK cells may become sluggish.  Meditate, find something funny to watch and you pep up these cells. (This validates laughter Yoga and comedy) Previously, I have referred to Candace Pert’s research in emotions and health.  A series of experiments performed in the 1970’s isolated minute chemicals called neurotransmitters, which are used by the nervous system to transmit information, including thought processes, throughout the body.  Scientists were excited to find that these neurotransmitters existed well beyond the physical boundaries of the brain.  They have been found in the adrenal glands of those with anxiety and in their blood as well.  We now know that our immune system does not exist in isolation from our emotions.


Alexandria Brighton has developed a line of essential oil blends that target the imbalances of life.  It is called the Release and Restore or Dispel and Restore – they are referred to in both those ways. There are 20 blends targeting fear, victimization, anger, unhealthy relationships, fear, judgement and self-sabotage.  Each negative emotion connects with its positive emotion such as courage, independent self, unconditional love, empathy, prosperity and reality check.  Changes have been observed.  They are a great tool.  I encourage you to research them.  goDesana.com/newpath


Google has been in the news lately with the controversial memo about how men and women perform in the workplace: that men may perform better and could handle more work stress.  Women tended to less driven to work insanely long hours and live the good life in corporate America so to speak.  The ability to power work is still glorified.  The series of Mad Men is recalled and the image of those skyscrapers, bars in the offices, and chain smoking and sex on the couches with the secretaries.  Science has not transmuted to our everyday culture yet.  Living a healthy lifestyle is still not the norm but is becoming more popular.  One of the positives of this memo was the response by so many.  People are standing up and noticing.  We are evolving despite what the news, governments and others may say: and this evolution is positive.  Let’s get to work then.  There is a man employed by Google called the Happiness officer.  His job is to teach others the practice of mindfulness and balance. I hope the author of that memo finds his way there.


Developing healthy lifestyles is a choice.  The question:  “What is best for me?  What is best for me?  What is really, really best for me?”  These are the questions I pose to those I work with to help the wheels start turning in a creative way.  When there is high stress, there is usually rigid or polarized thinking. (It’s either this way or that) It’s often hard to get out of our usual ruts of thinking and making up things.  Our brains make up solutions if we don’t have them, and sometimes these “solutions” are negative and not in the best interests of our whole self.  Anyone that is challenged with depression or anxiety knows the power of negative and critical self-talk.  These are some of the made-up solutions that I’m referring to.  I created my own business some years ago, It started as a leap out of the employee status motivated by a businessman who frankly told me I shouldn’t do it…that I didn’t have the skill set.  I was after all rather sensitive and with that some of the side effects of focus, anxiety and insecurities.  Still, in my 40’s I ventured out of my own box into the world of creativity and shades of color.  There have been many twists and turns but long story short, it was one of the best decision I ever made.  One common “solution” that my brain came up with was “I won’t have enough money” when my business would slow for some reason and “You must not be a good enough therapist.” When we hear things like this our bodies take it seriously and react in some way.  You may not notice it but it is recorded.   As time passes the jug fills up so to speak and the body has symptoms…all sorts of emotional or physical problems you have heard about or may have experienced.   This is a similar process in relationships.  You can run but cannot hide from your emotions.  The best way is to decide to be open to whatever they are and do something about them.


5 Steps to Transformation  (insights of the day)

  1. Decide to live more authentically and set that as your intention.
  2. Hydrate – drink lots of fresh, filtered water and use 1/2 of an organic lemon/lime in the mornings.  You can also add a drop of lemon essential oil and a drop of peppermint to cleanse the liver during high stress times.  Do this for a week and see how you feel.  It can be energizing.  My husband does this periodically and has noticed significant decrease in allergy/asthma symptoms.
  3. Wellness plan – Develop one…find good support from trusted friends/mentors/professionals.   Striving for your own excellence is a not done in a vacuum.
  4. Nutrition/complementary/medical care – Seek to understand your own body, use the best essential oils/herbs for healing and be check in on your medical Dr. to get the numbers so to speak on your internal health.  Medical school doesn’t educate doctors to understand personalized nutrition.  There is a product out called Gene SNP that is used by mental health professionals to assess DNA and best lifestyle practices.  It’s the science that we have available now although it is still in the early stages of being utilized.
  5. Think in abundant terms…You are loved on this earth.  Even though all these things may happen remind yourself in front of the mirror each day that You are Loved.  Google mirror work and see some of the results.



Classes:  I have 2 classes coming up on Friday, August 25th  that I am doing with Veronica Ortega.   Emotions and essential oils is from 11 AM-12 PM.  Healing with whole foods and introduction to Mind, Body Soul anti-inflammatory nutritional products is from 12 PM-1 PM.  For details about Veronica or the classes,  please refer to my facebook page – Tina M Johnson, MSW 

Location:  1321 23rd St So.  Ste H  Fargo, ND    Cost:  Free!  


As always, please contact me if you have questions or need additional information.



Scammed – the Trauma, Tragedy and Repair

Being scammed is more and more the norm of this technologically based culture.  I hear about it all the time, have seen its effects with others, myself in a few situations and clients who have shared their stories.  I do not consider myself scam naive and have done my best at keeping up with security issues.  The rug was jerked out from underneath my feet recently when I found myself the victim of one of the “old” scams.  The computer freezes, commands you not to shut it down and puts on a reputable Microsoft logo underneath the pop-up urgent request to call the Microsoft helpline which I did. I was simply buying movie tickets for that evening, looking forward to some leisure with my husband and within moments was hearing all about how my network wasn’t protected by the appropriate security.  I let this unknown person take control of my computer to “fix” the problem which led into the cost of the security products I was buying.  I kept going!  My intuition was sending me warning signals but the panic which I was not fully aware of was running the show.  It gets worse.  The fees for all these fixes were $375 with all the “fees” and “taxes’ that were applied in the end – even with the “senior discount.”  He wanted my checkbook account/routing numbers and I had it out before I stopped yet quickly he said, “No problem, we can go through your Amazon account.”  Sounded somewhat legit (not really) so I did it.  Amazon sent back an email questioning this purchase on Gold Coins, which is apparently a way to send money to a third party.  He then told me to go back and change my password on Amazon to validate the charge.

I finally felt the sinking nausea of what was really happening.  I put myself on hold and called the “real” Microsoft company which confirmed my body’s reactions.  They told me to turn off my computer immediately and that I could be helped by them if I paid the fee of $149 for a year contract of service.  It seemed I had no options and I paid it.  I was referred to the New Delhi computer techs to trouble shoot my problem and hopefully fix it.   Unfortunately, the language and background noise of his co-workers and the slowness of the process, it took me another 2 hours to hear that I needed to take it “into the store.”  I assumed this meant the computer repair shop.  I didn’t think there was a Microsoft store in Fargo, ND.  He couldn’t clarify this when I asked him.  By this time, it was 7 PM.  I had started my movie ticket purchase at 2:30 that afternoon and was mentally exhausted not to mentioned full of muscle tension.

As the evening progressed, I became more aware of what happened on another level.  I had let myself be victimized and was self-critical; chastising myself for being so stupid.  Then I felt the anger – what right do people have to hurt others all in the name of control and money? Then, the awareness of past traumas experienced in my life…. When I was a teenager, when I was hurt and taken advantage of in my life.  Slices of childhood memories before I had to grow up meander through with the mixed feelings of longing, joy and sadness.  The real world keeps you on guard.  Watch, always watch.  I have the scenario of what I would have said to this perpetrator when I saw that his call was coming in after I shut down the computer and his cold reactions of ruining my system.  Of course, I thought of his mother and what she would think of him doing this to someone.  I wish I could have grabbed the call and give him a piece of my mind so to speak.  I don’t think I’ve ever really done that.  Mid-westerners act with the most reserve…. that’s the world I grew up in that anyway.  As a therapist and one trained in critical incident debriefings, I knew the material.  Living life assertively and with maturity is a life worth striving for. Faking that is difficult.

Recovering from this trauma began almost immediately. Knowledge helps for sure but it didn’t save me.  I went to my stress tool bag and reached out to a few support people via text.  Just knowing that they knew and were sending love made a difference.  Next came my thoughts and focus on the bigger picture….my responsibility for panic and forgiving myself for not being perfectly composed/logical.  Positive, positive and even more positive thinking about any good that could possibly be gained from this ordeal. In this phase I would suggest thinking before speaking to loved ones…. emotions can be easily projected. I tried to keep the excess negativity away from my spouse.  He didn’t do anything.  Venting is great, dumping all your complaints isn’t.  I practiced one of the most powerful self-healing techniques that I use myself and teach to many of my clients and friends.  It is called Ho’oponopono which is an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness.  It consists of four statements:  I love you, I’m sorry, please forgive me, Thank you.  These energetic words, when said from the heart can be healing if not transforming.  There is some quality You Tube videos that take you through the practice to use whenever you create stress for yourself.  I do this practice along with EFT, a tapping strategy to use to help calm the body.  There are certain points on the body that when stimulated help the body calm, when you combine tapping with emotion awareness and positive affirmations one can significantly lower stress levels in the body.  These are practices that are easy to learn and have a long track record of benefit.  I use one of high frequency essential oils while I’m doing the tapping which only makes the practice better.  Transform is one such oil blend.

I got a call from Microsoft the next morning and they went through the process of refunding my $149 given the circumstances.  They were proactive on this and I am grateful…haven’t seen the refund on my card yet but I felt good about the effort.  I also attended my church, shared my experiences and did some singing…these activities were good for my soul and a great positive distraction which is another tool in the bag.  I also reached for my healing essential oils such as Lavender Vera and others supportive for the nervous system.  It’s always good to have some basic essential oil knowledge when you can really use it!  This afternoon I got a good walk in and went to the movie I had hoped to go to yesterday. Therapy for the mind.  My computer is non-functional and I assume it will be a rather big fix not to mention any other fall out from being hacked.   Even though things aren’t back to normal, I feel hopeful that they will be soon.  The computer repair man reiterated how easy it is to fall victim and how clever they can be to dupe the public.  “They keep doing it because people pay them money.”  He said if there are no global regulations of the internet these kinds of activities will continue.  Bottom line – Be aware, do your best to keep up be logical and Be Kind to yourself if it happens to you.  Still, I wonder about the hackers and how they reconcile their behaviors.  I’ll send them the Ho’oponopono message energetically.  That, I can do.

Six months later – I have retained the awareness of my experience and been able to assist others caught in the same computer trap.  I’ve worked on the emotion of frustration and learned that this emotion connects with many other negative feelings.  How have I worked on this emotion?  I regularly visit my own stress tool bag and look around for any new ones that might be effective.  The one I found for this emotion was a book called Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza.  He highlights specific steps one can take to be who you were born to be, not taught to be.  Powerful and transforming if that’s the tool you choose.  I challenge readers to create their own stress tool kit.  Let me know if I can be of assistance.




Self Healing – Finding your path

Spring is making its appearance into the Fargo prairie land.  I am grateful for the sun.  Today I will focus on developing a healing relationship with yourself – mind/body/spirit that is and share with you the positive healing news in the plant worlds.    Many of us were brought to separate our thinking selves with our physical bodies and our spiritual nature.  The old adages such as :

  • Work hard
  • Be Serious
  • Don’t feel too much (once in awhile a little happiness or anger may be seen)
  • Be guarded or wary
  • Don’t be ……..this could be any number of things such as show off, too loud, too quiet, too emotional, too fat, too skinny, too smart and the list goes on depending on the family you grew up in.

…. are beliefs we have internalized with more power and influence than we may realize.  I was talking with a young girl in grade school recently.  I asked her what her 3 wishes were.  She responded by saying ” I want to be great in gymnastics, a top horse rider and not be fat.”  I tried in my own way to “positize” the last wish and said, “You mean you want to be in good physical shape?”   Even at a young age we start training ourselves in what “should be the best” rather than what is best for our own self.  Since I have my own “fat story” (see website blog, relatecommunicate.com)  and am sensitive to this subject, senses reacted strongly. Each person embodies what we believe to be true and we store some of these beliefs in different areas of the body.  Cells contain emotional energies.  There are books and research on this subject that proves this connection within our bodies.  In other words, we need to find the language that the body understands and that most often involves releasing all the old negative beliefs we carry and replacing them with more positive messages.

  • I can be productive and aware of myself
  • I cooperate with myself and others
  • I love and approve of myself
  • I trust the process of life and learn lessons when problems arise
  • Do be yourself

There are many healing practices that I practice myself and many that I teach to clients to help them find their own strategies.   I am beginning to realize at this seasoned age that we can always do something, regardless of age number, to free and strengthen ourselves from what didn’t balance with our heart self…. or the authentic self.  I have been doing chakra assessments for others over the last 6 months and continue to be impressed with how each of our body energy centers operate.  They each have their own missions so to speak yet they work intimately with the whole.  When there are problems on any level of functioning these energy, centers react.  We may feel fatigue, pain, mood issues, interpersonal problems or other challenging symptoms.  Awareness of these balances empowers us to act and understand.   Usually, we will find the chakra essential oil blend that corresponds to the part of the body or chakra and test to see if this will help remedy the imbalances.  This is a link to the chakra essential oil page to give you more information about how these oils are used.  goDesana.com/newpath  Scroll to the bottom and hit the chakra tab.


​​​Personal Revelations​ – This last few years have been challenging for me physically.  I experienced some hip/back related injuries that impacted my whole torso and tried many treatments to ease the pain/inflammation that developed.  I tried to ignore it for the longest time, being that I was a “hard worker” and did most things “seriously”.  One thing about pain, it usually succeeds in getting your attention which then decreases the attention you have for things you enjoy doing.  Being a somatic person by temperament, meaning the body feels the emotions more easily than some, I was keenly aware of the physical symptoms which increased anxiety symptoms which let’s just say didn’t make things better.  Interestingly, this came at the same time I felt healthy in my love life meaning that I felt my emotional needs were being met.  Remember, determining if your emotional needs are me is a “felt” sense.  Do I feel loved? and am I able to give love?  This is in relationship to your loved one.  Since I had known unhealthy relationships in the past, I could experience the difference firsthand.  All I can say is there is a difference.  Now I needed to focus on finding ways to support and meet my body’s needs, releasing old patterns that didn’t help and finding new ones that did.  Still on the path, I have some new perspectives and am gradually getting stronger with all that I’ve learned.  Here are some paths I’ve sought out in the process.  All have been important in some way:  Chiropractic, Emotion Code, ( healerslibrary.com )  Physical Therapy using postural restoration techniques, Yoga and Pilates, Nutrition testing to target specific nutritional needs that your body has, Prolotherapy to strengthen ligaments and Mindfulness and self-love  strategies including Qi Gong, (Spring Forest techniques out of Eden Prairie, MN) and studying Louise Hay books/mirror work exercises.  Recently I’ve gotten training in EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) that is also effective in helping the body release and restore the energy flow by tapping on certain acupressure points of our body.    I have explored many areas in the last 8 years and am beginning to develop perspective.  “What do I really need?” Most people may not need to make the same colorful journey that I have chosen but the important pearl here is that we all need something to help go within and heal. Basically, finding the way back to loving and accepting oneself even though…. life happens and lessons are put in front of us.

My Recent Essential Oil Favorites

I traveled to Nevada last week to visit family and found that the most used oils were tea tree, (sore on body) Wellness for Kids, (helps with immune…roll on your feet in the morning) ​ Ravintsara, (for congestion) I Connect, (foot chakra blend that helps ground and stabilize body) Lavender Ice and Trauma Relief, (back pain) I always carry a Lavender Vera, and one of the Spiritual oils such as Mary or Ruth if I need extra support.  Lemon is another effective travel oil as you can cleanse water when you are out with one drop. I use the lavender-lemon blend to put in the wash machine for a clean and nice smelling wash.   My family sometimes relies on me to suggest one essential oil or another depending on their issues.  I also travel with Protector spray and mist it around my space or other areas that need cleansing – to disinfect and emotionally clear negative energies.  You can use a variety of oils in mister sprays.  Use distilled water with 10-15 drops of oil, depending on how big your spray bottle is.  Bergamot is nature’s Prozac, Orange and Tangerine to ease anxiety, Peppermint for refreshing and more.  goDesana.com/newpath  You can search for detailed information on individual oils in the search bar.

Recipe of the Day – clean your shower to prevent mold/soap films:

2 oz. water

1 Tablespoon Vinegar

4 drops lime

2 drops peppermint

2 drops lemon

Use a glass or PET plastic bottle.  Pour water and vinegar into the bottle and then add the essential oils.  After your shower, shake the shower spray and spray tile, floor, shower door or curtain and faucet fixtures.  You can leave it on or sponge it off it desired.  This is best made fresh every couple of weeks.



Alexandria Brighton, the formulator for all the goDesana essential oils and my teacher, has formulated 3 Ayurvedic superfoods that have been on the market for a couple of months.  I have tried them. followed people who have tried them and observed feedback from others on social media. There are many positive testimonials and it is EXCITING!  Essentially, Alexandria has blended a formula of raw concentrated superfood which targets inflammation.  MIND focuses on cognitive, mood and brain health, BODY targets the circulation/heart system and SOUL supports the immune/liver system.  I use MIND and SOUL together.  Some combine a shot of all 3 and others do well with one.  I have noticed “on the top of my game” thinking and less fatigue as well as decreased sinus congestion.  I look forward to the daily “shot”.  This is a sister company of goDesana called HB Naturals.  If you are interested in the research and other information about them check out the website or contact me for more information.   The company offers free sample packs with the cost of shipping. ($4.95)  The aroma of each one is good energy as they say.   healingtrilogy.com/newpath

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have questions.

​Enjoy your Day,


Tina Johnson

Singing – Another Secret Finds Freedom

A few years ago I started singing in our local church choir.  I had been a visitor at this church for a few years and had imagined what it would be like if I were to sing with them.  The whispering mother-voice in my mind would replay the phrase “You should sing in the choir.” or “You should play the piano more.  You have such talent.” She did both – played the piano and sang in the choir. In some ways she was a remarkable role model, in others  she was restricted in her own expression as was the way of the culture in those days.  Turns out, she started studying the piano in her own way at age 69.  She has now done 15 annual piano concerts in Las Vegas and is planning her next.   Growing up in the 70’s in the small mid-size ND town of Jamestown, cultured music appreciation meant community concerts who presented various musical performers from “far away.”  Or, for me, the night the Cowsills, the 70’s family group who came to our High School auditorium.  I really wanted to go.  After all, it was just across the street from where we lived.  For some reason I was a wanna be as I just knew they were there and not in the audience.  Sometimes groups would come to the big city of Bismarck and our church group organized a trip to some of these events like Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell and 3 Dog Night.  Performers and those in the entertainment business seemed like another world far away from my own.   Desires for performing budded within during those middle school years.  For many reasons, these desires were unfulfilled and were filed as not that important.

I am reading  Amy Poehler’s new book  called “Yes, Please” and her highlights in growing her passion for performance and making people laugh.  It started early as did her confidence. One event at a time, Amy Poehler tells her tales of life experiences that motivated her to write this unique and funny audio book.    Despite the “Demons” of negative thinking she visualized her performing career and went into it with gusto and a positive spirit.  She takes care in not underestimating the impact of the inner demons who are you; just in a strange voice whispering or shouting out all kinds of put downs and sarcasms one could only find in the mud pools of the dark mind.   I was as reserved as she was “out there” yet I related to the desires for expressing myself in a creative way and wanting lots of love in my life.   With today’s transparencies and medias it seems that everybody out there is hard at work being an impressive  person and are at varying phases in this pursuit.  Impressive to me is thought about with a positive spin.  I have observed in my many years as a therapist that most people want to feel good about what they do, who they are with and what they want and along the way there is inevitable messiness.    

Today,we sang the song called “My Prayer”.  This is one of those powerful songs sung by Andre Botticelli and Celine Dion.  Unfortunately, we had a small turnout and had to create something beautiful with 8 voices….9 with the choir director.  We pulled it off as I imagined the duet by the artists joining us in my fantasy.   Interestingly, during the children’s sermon, the pastor posed the question to the kids:  “Does anyone want to sing a song?”  A young teenager who happened to be the pastor’s daughter got up, took off her jacket, revealing a snazzy black top with cut out sleeves that sparkled which incidentally matched with the silver sparkles of black boots.  She started to sing and it was may I say magical?  What was amazing was the moment.  It wasn’t a star being born moment yet it had the feel of that.  She was expressing herself and you could feel it.  This felt bigger than an audition or an amazed Simon Cowell reacting to a performance on America’s Got Talent.   That’s the way the mind can work – with comparisons and expectations.  That demon mind can live here.  This event appeared to me to bypass all these old ways of thinking and celebrated the authenticity of the gift of self expression…. something that was lost in me for so long.  I enjoyed imagining myself at that age doing something similar and it made my heart sing.  Now, that’s impressive.

Let’s return  to the business of finding love, self acceptance and expression of our own gifts and talents however diverse they may be.  I resisted artistic expression because I believed I wasn’t all that good and had been told that in various ways throughout my life.  Consequently I avoided any search or effort to develop these talents while minimizing any positive impacts for these pursuits.  This was easy to do in this work focused world.  I simply just worked a lot and gave lip service to the importance of creative pursuits.  In this same church service, the pastor opened the sermon up with the story of her own disappointments in “‘Being” recalling her love of just wanting to sing out loud as a child, joining various choirs and eventually un-joining them as events unfolded in her life that discouraged her from singing; from doing what she had originally loved to do.  ‘I stopped singing.”   The words hit me personally and sounded oddly familiar.   I had  desires and a love of singing and dancing and if I have to be honest, the fantasy of mastering the balance beam.  If I had to honest again I would include well known writer and author.   I imagined myself at a young age being asked to sing and dance, actually stepping out (in a prepared way) and looking good.  Looking good because it was genuine not because of it’s “talent”.   Looking fantastic because it was celebration of the “inner ding” as Louise Hay has coined it.  At a meeting one day,  Louise happened to hear these words:  “If you’re willing to change your thinking, you can change your life.”  For whatever reason she heard this with her Being and chose to do something about it.   She went out and created a legacy of resources for healing and self acceptance.  This inner ding is where power resides and I only wished I could have bottled some of it.  Perhaps I did as it provided the muse for exploring my own creativity in writing this blog.  Who knows?  One thing we do know is that there are many beliefs that we carry within that keep us from that inner well-being and happiness; beliefs that need to seen and transformed into action.

Despite challenges we all have the capacity for seeking and recognizing that inner ding.  Benefits do outweigh the costs so to speak.  I encourage you to set the intention for this new year; that 2017 will provide opportunities to manifest positive experiences and paths to travel.   The essential oil that I often suggest at these times is called Transform  http://www.godesana.com/transform.asp?sponsorsite=newpath   It is a unique blend of Sage, Balsam Fir, Black Spruce, Elemi, Clary Sage, Inula, Rockrose, Patchouli, Spikenard, Lavender, Ylang Ylang, Sweet Marjoram, Pink Grapefruit and Rose Geranium.  The frequency of these oils can help increase your own energies setting the stage for positive changes.  I wish you well in your  journey and  appreciation for the synergy of today’s events. Continue reading

How To Stay Sane On Election Day and Beyond


November 2016

stress-2-people-imageOK, It’s coming and I have some “Inspirdrive”, to coin a phrase, of how I feel at this moment in this country’s history.  Being in the mental health field for 30+ years I am bamboozled by this election season’s long and snarly road.  I’ve heard more frustrations, rage, confusion, depressive and anxiety symptoms that I can remember in the past.   Our mental health is stressed!  (As if you didn’t know) The impact of stress is well documented in research.  More than a little stress in our lives impacts our bodies and health and most of us have been told that at one point or another.  We are designed to deal with stress on a short term basis.  Our bodies are marvelous machines made to solve problems and get our needs met and once that’s done, calm down.  Our animals have this figured out.  I talk to my cat about all that is going on here, the political media blitzes, the polarizing of social media, the Protest in western ND, you name it.  He lifts his head up while I get activated, assesses that it’s not going to hurt him and sinks his head back down on the rug…. although when the vacuum cleaner is brought out, he freaks out and disappears until its quiet again.  This political season has brought out the low drone of a constant vacuum cleaner that follows us around and as much as we may want to avoid any fallout it is almost impossible.

Many of the clients I see have reported significant impact in their lives, whether it be work, social or family relationships.  It brings out the Stress in them, meaning that when we are triggered by anything either in our external or internal environment that creates a negative emotion, a resulting reaction occurs.  Research suggests 4 Stress Styles that are most common.  The first one is Placator/Peace at any price style.   If we are unaware, this can be rather automatic such as “I think Clinton should win” comment to a Trump supporter.  “What, are you crazy?  Can’t you see she’s a crook?”  The response here may be related to what style of stress that is carried.  Let’s just say the Clinton supporter was brought up to be agreeable and not to rock the boat.  Her response may be…”Well maybe you’re right, I’ll have to check it out or Yes, she did do lots of things.”  The second one is the Blamer/I’m right, You’re wrong  style which would trigger a different reaction.  “What? You’re the one who’s crazy.  Have you seen that video?”  The third approach is called Super Reasonable/Computer style which downplays any emotion.  “Well, it says in the polls that there is a slight lead for Clinton.  Let’s look at the statistics.”   The fourth style is called the Distractor/Ignore and the problem vanishes.   Responses may be completely unrelated to the issues at hand.  “Hey, let’s just forget all this and go out and play cards/shop/clean the house/work/drink…you name it.”    These reactions to stress triggers are usually tied back into our childhoods and that software is pretty tightly woven.  In order to bypass these automatic reactions, we need to first be aware and understand the power that they have on our everyday behaviors.  Once you do this then comes the good part.  You can take parts of each of the styles and integrate them into your own style for a positive outcome.  For example, the positive aspect of the Placator is being sensitive and compassionate to another’s emotions; the good part of the Blamer is the assertiveness it brings to the table; the ability to speak our truth without blaming.  The Super Reasonable/Computer can remind us to use logic and reason when managing a situation and with the Distractor, comes the reminder to play and take breaks…. but we will get back to the problem.

stress-imageEven though we can’t eliminate our negative tendencies to react in these certain ways, we can transcend them with practice.  After the election will come all the waves of uncertainty of “what’s going to happen” until the dust settles in January.   Then, it’s likely to resurface again given the roller coaster media ride we’ve all been on.  What I’d really like is to feel a sense of stability and trust.  One way to keep sane is to focus on things we can control.  Look at your hands and for most of us we can move them.  Let that be a reminder for the moment that what may be most important is self-management or as I like to call it Mindfulness.  How am I going to cultivate stability and trust in myself given that I’ve just heard or seen someone make a triggering comment?  The goal here is to catch your style going into action and allow yourself the chance to create the mindset that is best for you.  Is this easy?  It gets easier with practice but the rewards are great; one being the expression of your authentic truth rather than the automatic stress style dribble.  The more you practice the more dribble you can experience which leads to a stronger sense of self and a better outlook which of course is a stress reliever.  Although this is not the immediate “keep yourself sane” technique but it is one to work on daily.

Some of the best strategies for this season relate to catching yourself, breathing deeply and evenly and repeat to yourself 10 times “All is well”.   There is a great mirror exercise written about by Louise Hay that confirms the power of positive affirmations to yourself daily.  Check out the mirror exercise on You tube if you are interested.  Even though you think all may not be well on the outside, this exercise calms the mind. If you want excitement and drama go for it.  Media will be hyping it all up but keep in mind the balance of nature and the power of small practices to keep yourself sane.   Don’t forget to add the water, herbal teas and lemons/limes.  These are detoxing for any type of stress you are facing.   One of my favorite essential oils to calm anxiety is Frankincense or Lavender Frankincense which combines two calming essential oils.  Just make sure they are of therapeutic grade and organic.  For more information on that check out  http://goDesana.com/newpath   In the short term, do-nuts, diet coke, a good stiff drink or any number of mind medicating substances may be calling your name   What your brain really needs is care!   Finally, on Tuesday let’s not forget that we are all in this together.  Let’s do what we can – in our own ways – one task or practice at a time.   Good luck!


Tina M Johnson, MSW, BCD

1321 23rd St So, Ste H

Fargo, ND  58103