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?
Did you know that Abraham Lincoln connected his mother with angels? In fact he said...
He's not the only one who has celebrated his mother in a very special way. When Anna Jarvis' mother died in 1905, the West Virginia daughter and peace activist started a campaign to make the second Sunday in May a holiday to honor mothers across the United States. Three years later, the U.S. Congress rejected the proposal (really?), but Jarvis' dedication to "the person who had done more for you than anyone in the world" paid off after six years when all U.S. states observed the holiday. Three years later, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation designating Mother's Day a national holiday.
Celebrating the special women in our lives is not unique to the U.S. In fact, some form of a day for women is now celebrated in more than 46 countries around the world. In the United Kingdom, Mothering Sunday is celebrated, while in Bolivia, Mother's Day is the date of a battle in which women participated. Some countries celebrate International Women's Day instead of or along with Mother's Day to recognize special women and their accomplishments. Yet in others, the celebration of mothers is uniquely religious, focusing on Mary, the mother of Jesus in Christianity or special mothers in other religions or cultures.
As we look to the arrival of May, let us honor the special women in our lives. The month is named for Maia, the Greek goddess of spring and fertility. In Latin, "Maia" is connected to a word that means to increase or grow. Certainly, few would argue that our mothers have not helped us grow and increase our knowledge and spirit.
Whether we take a moment to think of all that our own mothers have done for us or focus on the kindness, compassion and inspiration shared with us by a grandmother, godmother, aunt, teacher or friend, may we remember the importance of feminine energy in our lives this May. We honor women on this Earth and those who guide us as angels from the Universe beyond where we can see them.
And if you'd like to know more about the two mothers who inspired Honest Abe, click here to learn the story behind his "angel."
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.
Today the benefits of mediation are being quoted more and more often. During a recent Wall Street Journal event, in a counter-point to reporting about sales, profits and growing the fourth largest tech company in the world, Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff talked about the importance of gratefulness, clearing your mind and attention to breathing. Laurel Holland, author of Courageous Woman: Live Your Inner Strength, recently appeared on television talk show Virginia Today, and said that if you could do just one thing to change your life, it should be meditation. Today on WBUR-FM in Boston, Jon Kabat-Zinn (one of my all-time favorite authors and speakers) told program hosts on Here and Now that meditation has come a long way since he developed the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program for patients at the University of Massachusetts hospital in the 1980s.
According to Kabat-Zinn, "There are very interesting things that happen when people shift from doing to being, in that you can see major changes in brain structure within eight weeks. The reason we’re into this is because of the results. The real reason that mindfulness is valuable is that it’s intrinsically valuable for its own sake – your life improves.”
Rarely a day goes by that I don't read or hear something about the benefits of meditation. My mom always told me, "If it sounds too good to be true, it is too good to be true." She has been right in every instance until now. The results of regular meditation do sound too good to be true, but study after study and anecdote after anecdote confirm the life-affirming, health-enhancing results from making meditation a part of our lives.
How do you get started?
It's easy. Sit. Breathe. Really. See why it's so hard to believe? Of course there are many different ways to meditate. However, the studies keep confirming that it is simply the quiet, mind-clearing breathing that leads the way to more clarity, new levels of intuition, better sleep, lower blood pressure, less stress and increased health.
For some, it is helpful to focus on a physical item or to have a meditation ritual. That's why we have created The Infinity Angel meditation beads. You can choose from The Infinity Angel Wellness Beads or The Infinity Angel Chakra Beads. Both types of meditation beads include the story of how The Infinity Angel came about and are packaged in a gossamer bag with a sample meditation.
I have been so gratified to receive such wonderful comments from those who have given our meditation beads to loved ones. A dear friend in Massachusetts buys a dozen Infinity Angel Wellness Beads at a time so that she can have them on hand to give to loved ones dealing with illness or other life challenges. On one occasion, we sent several strings to a lovely woman in Ireland, who shared them with the women she loved. One recipient did The Infinity Angel Wellness Meditation walking the beach in Ireland every morning. Another woman asked for her Infinity Angel Wellness Beads on her deathbed, asking her sister to recite the entire meditation to her.
These stories, and others like them, have really impacted me. It's wonderful when something you create can bring such comfort to others. I am grateful every day for this opportunity and for that morning when I "discovered" The Infinity Angel on the beach here in Ogunquit, Maine.
If you or a loved one needs a little help in starting a life-changing meditation practice, we welcome you to explore our website. Sometimes it just takes a little something to hold in your hand, or something inspiring to read, in order to feel the confidence and inspiration to trust yourself to just sit and breathe.
It really is that easy. Believe. Do it over and over again and before you know it, your life really can change in subtle, and then dramatic, ways.
I remember, as a little girl, playing with my dad on my Etch-a-Sketch. We would turn the two little knobs to create pictures and then shake the red box with its little screen up and down and the drawings would disappear. The power to remove drawings I didn't like and clearing the screen to start over seemed magical. Not even a pencil eraser was as easy at setting the start point again so cleanly.
It was difficult to control the lines on that screen and I liked making my "mistakes" quickly disappear. However, when I finally turned the right and left knobs in just the right way to reveal something of which I was proud, it was difficult to make the decision to shake that box. I didn't want to lose that image, that moment, that experience of satisfaction...forever. With the Etch-a-Sketch, there was no way to make a copy of my creation. It would never be up on the refrigerator, put in a frame, set on my mom's dresser for all to enjoy. I would never see it again. Sometimes, when I was almost finished with my creation, a bump or move would start the disappearing process...no! no! no! Come back!
That was one of my first lessons about impermanence.
The same lesson was learned again and again at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Florida, Massachusetts and Maine. I would create a sandcastle, a moat, a wall to protect my princess fortress. The tide was far away and I thought my miniature land was safe...but always more quickly than I expected...the water would return and dismantle my majestic creation, leaving only a memory.
When my daughters were little, I learned of a group of Buddhist monks who were visiting greater Boston to share their skills and wisdom in meditation, chanting and the art of the mandala. We went and watched them meticulously create a sand mandala atop a low table, which measured six feel by six feet. It was mesmerizing to see them drop what seemed to be individual grains of sand to create the finest lines and most intricate shapes. The design was magnificent...detailed, beautiful, radiating the most incredible colors. They worked on it for an entire day. We were there when they finished. And minutes later, they blew the image away, scattering the grains in every direction. I could feel the little girl in me with the Etch-a-Sketch yelling, "No...why did you do that? That was so beautiful!"
But that was the point. Nothing is permanent. Enjoy the beauty while it's here. Take stock of every moment and breathe. The only thing you can count on is right...now.
As a young mother in my thirties, I quietly explained this idea to Molly and Eliza as they watched with disbelief that these monks would be so silly to destroy their hard work just moments after we'd had the chance to go and see it up close. Maybe someone else hadn't had the chance to actually go up to the table yet, Molly suggested. That's life.
When I created the first Infinity Angel on Footbridge Beach in Ogunquit, more than a decade ago on a crisp, sunny morning, I didn't think about the tide coming up and how quickly this little angel would disappear. You'd think I'd learn! This time, as the water rushed in however, I emblazoned her visage on my brain. I experienced the moment. And due to her simplicity and the message I heard inside my head, I was able to create her again and again, each time feeling more and more certain that she was supposed to help me and others with many lessons. One of the lessons is certainly the understanding of impermanence, as I can never draw her freehand the same way twice.
The Buddha Board: An Etch-a-Sketch for Grown-ups!
I first encountered a Buddha Board several years after I'd drawn my first Infinity Angel on the beach. It beckoned me to pick up the paint brush, dip it in the water and draw something on the papery surface. I tried my hand creating my little angel, not knowing exactly what a Buddha Board would offer. There she was, in a bold, painterly black brush stroke. I'd cocked her halo a little dramatically in this rendition and before I could step back and really take her in...she started to disappear. Aaah...of course, a Buddha Board would offer the mandala experience once again, what other type of art medium would be named for the man who said, "You only lose what you cling to"?
Drawing on the Buddha Board felt so much like drawing on the sand on Ogunquit Beach that I chuckled. As it stands on its easel, with the water well filled and the brush at the ready, you are beckoned to try your hand at something, anything. Create. Do it. Have fun. If what you create is less than perfect, it will fade away. And if it is the most magnificent piece of art you've ever imagined, it will fade away just as quickly. Everything is equal in impermanence. Our Buddha Boards offer quite a unique meditation experience.
So, while we offer you many ways on our website to physically hold onto your Infinity Angel, we thought it was fitting to also offer Buddha Boards...a wonderful gift to share with a friend who understands the value of the moment. Or perhaps for someone who needs to learn what that's all about. Place your Buddha Board on a coffee table, kitchen counter, or the corner of your desk to remind you and others to take a chance, let go and create.
If you're like me, you need to regularly remind yourself that all of life is like a mandala. The most precious things (and even people) are fleeting and, still, our most memorable moments will stay forever in our minds.
Enjoy this moment and thanks for reading,
Creator of The Infinity Angel
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 markers...my 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.
Thank you for allowing us to be part of some of your most poignant times.
The Infinity Angel was created one morning on Ogunquit Beach in Southern Maine more than a decade ago and it's hard to believe we've already had more than 10 years of developing products with her image. She now has a new online home and her message will now be delivered to an even wider audience. We love hearing the stories of where she is and how she has inspired and comforted people. She has opened doors for me and allowed me to meet lovely brides-to-be, new moms, fundraising professionals, teachers, writers and many more wonderful people I never would have known otherwise.
These lovely Infinity Angel fans are in all corners of the US, as well as Canada, Ireland, Bulgaria and beyond. It's truly magical to me when my invitation to draw her on any beach around the world (like I did that morning a decade ago in Ogunquit, Maine) garners photos sent to our Facebook page from China and Thailand, Mexico and the Caribbean. The stories about people who carry our TouchStones or walk beaches holding our Wellness Beads fill my heart.
When I hear that a dying woman in Ireland asked her sister to read her The Infinity Angel Meditation before she passed away, or when a bride writes to me to say she wants all of her wedding guests to get an Infinity Angel Touchstone as a wedding favor or when I see a new baby in one of our Baby Onesies with that adorable word "Cherub" on his or her back, I feel like we're doing something really meaningful here and it feeds my soul.
I want to thank my husband for his love and creativity in bringing this website to life. We hope you will enjoy our products and use them to inspire yourself or loved ones, celebrate a special occasion, offer comfort to a friend who is facing challenges or communicate a heartfelt message.
We design all of The Infinity Angel products here in Maine, but we have very talented artisans who help craft them in various areas of the United States. We thank them for helping to bring The Infinity Angel's simple, yet profound, message to life.
We welcome your feedback on what new items you would find interesting and helpful in your quest to lead a meaningful life. Thank you for visiting our new website and we hope you enjoy sharing our Infinity Angel with others as much as we do.
Have a wonderful day,
Creator of The Infinity Angel