Infinite Thoughts

Angels are Everywhere

In a 2007 national study by the Baylor Department of Sociology, 1600 men and women from various ages, religious affiliations, education levels and political parties were asked if they believed in angels. The results may surprise you.

More than 60% said, "Absolutely." Another 21% said, "Probably." Only 19% answered in the negative with either "Probably Not" or "Absolutely Not." The latter registered the lowest percentage in the study at 8.8%.

It's also interesting that these trends hold up whether or not the person answering is religious, Democrat, Republican, male or female, and regardless of their level of education. The fact is, people across the entire spectrum embrace the idea of angels. 

Even though today a growing share of Americans claim themselves as "religiously unaffiliated," angels continue to hold a special place in our psyche. They are ubiquitous, appearing in poems, songs, movies, television shows, art, social media and more. Perhaps it is that we all crave a personal messenger to offer us hope in challenging times and a reminder of all that is wonderful in good times. And we are not the first to feel this way.

The word angel, which means messenger, and depictions of what are commonly thought of as angels, have been around for at least 4,000 years. They are seen in ancient Egyptian carvings, cave drawings in many different cultures and  jewelry and pottery dating back to 300 BC, long before the more recognized angel visages cropped up in Renaissance art. Winged Victory - The Infinity Angel and Angelic ArtThe list of intriguing angel facts seem endless. Marsillio Ficino, a fifteenth century philosopher, thought there were 399,920,004 angels in existence. Pope Pius XII reported that he saw St. Peter's Square filled with the guardian angels of the faithful gathered below him. In 1863, one of the most famous pieces of winged goddess or angel art in the world, Winged Victory of Samothrace, was discovered by amateur archaeologist Charles Champoiseau and shipped to France, where it still resides in the Louvre. The sculpture has been dated back to approximately 200BC, where it was created on a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. And according to Art Historian Harry Seymour, perhaps the most famous of all art angels are the two delightful cherubs at the bottom of Raphael's painting The Saint Madonna. These icons of innocence supposedly were inspired by two children of the model who posed as the Madonna for Raphael. I can honestly imagine these two little people hanging out watching this dedicated artist paint their mother. Little did they know that they would end up in this iconic painting, and also on posters, cards, stickers and more through time (even without The Madonna.)




 Raphael's cherubs - The Infinity Angel and Angel Art

While it seems we live in a time when there is more interest in science than ethereal imagery, it's interesting to see modern angels continuing to capture the human spirit. California artist Christine Krainock's abstract depictions of angels often sell out before she finishes a painting. 

Mixed media and collage artist Ingrid Pomeroy often incorporates angels into her creations, like this gold-winged womanl below.

 The Infinity Angel is yet another modern depiction of the simple essence of angels, with her "Everything you need is already here" message encouraging self-reliance and belief that you will continuously learn when you are open to what the universe dishes up.

When we receive messages back from people around the world who have found their own meaning in The Infinity Angel, we know there is hope. We feel privileged to step into a 4,000-year history of angels that still transcends time and space and brings comfort, healing and encouragement to so many people.

Thank you, Buddha.

My father used to coach our daughters on the way to score in basketball. "Bend your knees, eyes on the rim, follow through," he would say over and over again. They would shoot and shoot and shoot for hours in the driveway of my parents' home. Sometimes the ball went through the lace, and even more often, it bounced off the rim or backboard and sent them scurrying until they stood in their "spot" and tried again. Having played in college (Dad was a member of the 1941 Long Island University championship team that won the national championship at Madison Square Garden), his grandchildren trusted he knew his stuff on the court. On those summer evenings, they thought he was teaching them basketball, but he was really teaching them (as he did my siblings and me years before) his own form of meditation that would serve us all well.

Meditation, thought by some to be a uniquely Buddhist practice, comes in many guises. Buddhists do use meditation to transform themselves. It helps them move beyond the world's many distractions to find the true nature of things. Since it dates back thousands of years, and we continue to embrace it in different ways, it must work, right?

In fact, clinical evidence reports that mindfulness meditation, where a person focuses on the simple in and out of the breath, has many benefits. It is said to improve brain health and emotional control. It decreases stress, anxiety and depression and even reduces blood pressure. In fact, various types of meditation have gained in popularity in the U.S. and around the world, due to their health benefits.

I bring this up today, because we are in the middle of May, the month in which the Buddha's birthday is celebrated on different days and in different ways around the world. Since many meditation practices have their genesis in Buddhism, let's take a look at this legendary man...
Buddha's Birthday in Nepal
Here a monk in Nepal  lights candles in celebration of Buddha's birthday.
The Buddha was born Prince Siddhartha Gautama about 2600 years ago in Northern India, now known as Nepal. While many royals through the ages have been satisfied to enjoy their wealth and power, Siddhartha was deeply troubled by what he considered an unjust caste system and the harsh facts of birth, old age, sickness and death. In what must have been a deep personal crisis, he left the palace and spent six years on a spiritual quest. During that time he perfected his own meditation skills and gained insight into the interdependence of everything around him. We are told that during this time he realized that the key to life is detachment from material things and an acceptance of karma, a cycle that propels us to learn and grow and awaken. This was his "awakening," and he became known by his followers as Buddha (which is a Sanskrit word meaning "The Awakened One.")
Buddha's Birthday
Buddhist monks celebrate Buddha's Birthday with a parade in Asia.
His teachings are legendary and his followers are many after almost three millennia. At, we have found Buddha, his teachings and the very concept of meditation to be keys to finding a centered life. And, we chose a product named for him, The Buddha Board, as our first non-Infinity Angel product to represent. This enchanting "spiritual Etch-a-Sketch," as I like to describe it, reminds me of the day I first drew The Infinity Angel in the sand of Ogunquit Beach. You doodle, you write, you let your creativity flow...and you never know what will happen. And then it is gone. 
Happy Birthday, Buddha.
The Buddha Board provides constant lessons about impermanence, about letting go of expectations and letting go of results. When the water dries on your Buddha Board, and you can't stop it, you have to simply remember your creation, because it is gone forever.
I wish I could see the first Infinity Angel I drew on Ogunquit Beach again, but the tides took her away. And, yet, she still inspires me to do things in her name and every time I hear how she helped someone, I am humbled. In her story, I wrote that she taught me in that moment to "focus, believe and let go."

Hmm...sounds a lot like, "bend your knees, eyes on the rim, follow through." Thanks, Dad. And thank you, Buddha, for communicating and inspiring millions of people since you left the palace. And, Happy Birthday, from people around the globe.



A Gossamer Day

I woke up this morning thinking about a window display I saw a few years ago when I was in Paris with my family. It captivated me with toddler-size tulle skirts - tutus - floating in the window surrounded by baubles and ribbons. Clearly the enchantment I felt then stayed with me, as I was inspired to find the photo I quickly snapped that day.

It set me thinking about one of my favorite words: gossamer. I think of gossamer as a whisp of gauzey fabric, the feeling of a feather touching my cheek, a soft drape of netting that inspires a lightness of being. You can see through gossamer, yet it filters light in a magical way.

I squinted in this morning's light, also trying to recall a sculpture I saw at the Louvre on that same family trip. I remembered how it had captivated me with its marble delicacy. I had stood mesmerized by the statue, wondering how the sculptor could create such softness with cold stone?

I found myself wishing I could try on this dress, with its feminine drape and memorable style. While I certainly couldn't see through this fabric, nor could I even imagine - no matter how delicate it seemed to my eyes - ever lifting the weight of this piece of marble. Still it reminded me of gossamer...once again, inspiring a lightness in me...a state of being that makes me feel free and happy. Like a lovely breeze lifting me up in the air, a gossamer feeling is one of my favorite things.

Often the word gossamer is associated with angels. Perhaps because it is reminiscent of a delicate, ephemeral energy sweeping in just when you need a reason to believe in something. Have you ever had a little "aha" of synchronicity that makes you feel lighter, as if the universe has just given you a gift of recognition or support?

It's been far more than a decade since I sat on Ogunquit Beach at six in the morning and found The Infinity Angel at the tip of my finger as I traced in the sand. I've so enjoyed having her as a companion and sharing her with the many people who have embraced the gossamer energy she represents.

As I walked the Marginal Way this morning on a 55-degree sunny day (a miracle in itself in the middle of March in Maine), I was inspired to descend the stairs to Little Beach and draw The Infinity Angel in the sand, a much larger representation than the original.

 As I smiled and walked toward the water, I saw an ever-so-delicate feathery pattern that had been traced in the sand by water trickling down toward the ocean from the hill above.

The gossamer energy of nature's doodling took me back to my waking thoughts and brought a feeling of happiness and lightness to me, like those baby ballerina skirts in did Paris that morning. Although I've always cherished The Infinity Angel for her extraordinary simplicity, perhaps, I thought, I need to embrace her gossamer energy. I picked up a driftwood stick and began to draw. I think she was very happy to play on the beach...

Perhaps her gossamer persona will inspire new designs and, if so, I'll know the thoughts of sparkling gauze and floating feathers that woke me this morning came from somewhere enchanted. I hope I am able to visit there often and float on the inspiration.




Life's Milestones Deserve Meaningful Communication Beyond Words

Our daughter, Eliza, turned 21 yesterday. We felt lucky to be with her in New York City to celebrate. I experienced that melange of mother emotions that accompanies so many of life's milestones. The need for that oh-so-delicate balance between holding tightly and letting go completely was palpable as we said good-by and watched her walk back into her own life. That very struggle was there for me on the day sixteen years ago when I put Eliza (and her older sister, Molly, five years before that) on the kindergarten school bus. The same emotion swelled like a tsunami when we dropped Molly off at college in New York City, and then watched Eliza follow in her footsteps. Tears and silence were my immediate means of communication.

In the years since, I've cried after airport drop-offs watching them go for semesters abroad to Ghana and Paris, wondering if they'd be safe and happy...and they were. I was thrilled that Molly got engaged in Italy this summer and that she's enjoyed her move to Knoxville with her fiancé, which gave way to a new job she loves. When the physical distance goes from 90 minutes to a 15-hour car ride, you know it's a milestone. And I'm already holding my breath for a day in September of next year, when our older daughter will stretch that invisible chord even further when she comes home to speak her wedding vows by the ocean I look at every day.

Each of these milestones in life holds skyrocketing emotions of joy and pride, and are often wrapped around feelings of fear and sadness deep down inside, because it's hard when life changes dramatically. It's all about letting go. Allowing children to be inspired and try new things. Giving yourself permission to sink into the feeling that you've done a good job raising human beings who are contributing to a better world, but wishing they were little again for just one minute.

There have been other life mother and father passing away. My older sister's much-too-early and unexpected leaving of this Earth. These are our most human times and they deserve recognition and celebration. It's important to celebrate even the most painful moments and help one another through them.

That's why I believe I created The Infinity Angel...or, I should say, why she found me on Ogunquit Beach more than a decade ago. She is a reminder that everything you need is already here, that everything will be alright. She is often a physical memento of, as my mom always said, "This too shall pass." Because everything does change, pass, move along. The only constant is impermanence. I get it, but I need gentle reminders. Each milestone teaches me that lesson again in a new way.

We have learned that The Infinity Angel is embraced as an appropriate marker for life's milestones, a way to share the emotion of one of these transitions when words alone can't express your feelings. When I hear the stories about who gives and receives a Touchstone or a Nugget, when I am told anecdotes about the people who hold The Infinity Angel in their hands or pockets or purses, I am grateful to be part of their emotional communication. I share each of their milestones in a very tiny way and I feel richer for it.

I have several friends who are about to deliver their children to college for the first time this week. I hear their stories and remember the emotional roller coaster so well. Whether it is The Infinity Angel or another talisman they tuck into a suitcase to be discovered later or hand to their loved one as the tears begin to fall, it's important to find a way to communicate the emotions that no words will ever express.

Everything is about communication. Everything.

Thank you for allowing us to be part of some of your most poignant times.