Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How to Plan Your 60th Birthday Celebration

by Claudia Gold, copyright 2013 www.shameintojoy.com

First you wonder what the heck you are going to do to celebrate, ‘cause you know some of the other years have felt a bit lonely without celebrating, and this is a big one. You are kind of the different one in the family, you are more Santa Cruz, and they more Los Angeles, so the immediate family isn’t rushing to hold a celebration. It’s the year to finally be proactive and celebrate this being who is you – at 60. Who are you? A good question to ask between now and your birthday this Saturday.

Next your consistent, practical friend Jackie who you have Chinese food every Friday night invites you to go to a restaurant for birthday dinner and to invite others.

You agonize over which restaurant, worry about the cost, and though friend says her and hubby will treat me and everyone can pay for themselves, it seems cheap to have people pay themselves.

Next you call one of your favorite friends and chat with her. She invites you to come the afternoon before your birthday, Friday afternoon, for a visit to Ross to buy a birthday outfit for you, for dinner and a sleep-over that night, possibly to go to a salsa class that night or maybe a movie at home, birthday breakfast in the morning, and a time for creative writing afterwards – with delight in her voice that has the cute British accent. This is better than expected!!

You tell her about the planned dinner with Jackie et al. on Saturday night, and that you realize you don’t actually like dinners in restaurants with a bunch of people. You prefer one on one and small gatherings where you can do something meaningful. While brainstorming an idea arises.
You: ask a friend if he is willing to have the evening gathering for friends/family at his house, a cozy condo with streams running through the area and scents of the pine trees throughout. He says yes!

You remember as you're falling asleep that your friend Jackie who had the idea of this gathering is allergic to cats, and that host Jim sometimes stays home to baby-his cat and make sure he's OK at night.

Ask Jim if Romeo can stay outside, he says yes until 9 because the weather is good.   

Call Jackie who says she will take antihistamine.

Call loving step-mother to see if she can come. She probably can’t but tells you loving, valuing things! Yum.You’ll get together another time. This means you can invite the other side of the family.

Drive to Trader Joe’s and while shopping meet woman who cooks and discuss casseroles for potluck.  She suggests chile relleno casserole, recipe from Food Channel. You vascillate between that and childhood food “Cheese Belinzes.”  You think of buying chili rellenos at the little dive on Bandini in a pinch. Chile relleno casserole wins.  Shopper says she wouldn’t bring anything if it was her birthday.

Sit at your desk, Taz Chihuahua behind you, and make little invitations with a poem:
You are invited,
though not much time to prepare,
to an event at which candles will be lighted
to launch the 60th birthday year.

I hear these are the best years
and one wouldn't want to go back,
so I won't be stopped by fears,
and won't give God any flack.

Stress about who to invite.

Invite people to bring poems, songs, recordings relating to the word 60, living life fully, letting go gracefully, and women getting better with age.

Hope only half or less of the people will come, because you really like one on one, small gatherings.

Tomorrow:start planning for sleep-over with delightful girlfriend, including possible salsa dress and shoes, pajamas, toothbrush. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Green Jewish Client

                  My Green Jewish Client

by Claudia Gold copyright 2013 shameintojoy.com

I’ve got a feelin’, a feelin’ in side, that my green Jewish client is my ultimate find, so what is a green Jew(ish woman), yes talk to me, she’s from Booklyn or L.A. or new to Berkeley. Ha-ha and I’ve got a feelin’, a feelin’ inside, that my Jewish client is as frank as she is kind.  With an MFT, or Ph.D, she studied the mind, to stand up to a valiant mother who was emotionally wild - Oh!

And I’ve got a feelin’, a feelin inside, that my ideal client has a green Jewish Inner Child. And frankly, I’ll tell you what the rabbi said to me, that his congregation doesn’t need to be shame free. But I’ve got a feelin’ right here in my chest that a lot of inner chachkas are just dying to be blessed.

I find her at the mic standing for women’s rights, banning rifles and GMO’s, or at the Sassoon beauty school for a touch up of color: hair, hands or toes. At her son’s orthodontist Dr. Toothstein or a Mindfulness meditation, this strong, spiritual Jew only needs an invitation and…

I’ve got a feelin’, a feelin’ inside, that my green Jewish client is unbelievably kind. Only organic strawberries and kosher turkey for her family, she is funny, and helpful, irreverent and silly. Perhaps I can find her at the sales rack at Whole Foods, checking prices on homeopathics for her OCD or ADD or moods.
She’s had her share of tsouras, she’s a survivor as well, when she’s not throwing bagels she gives hugs as she kvells. And I’ve got a feeling, she’s cutting through the kvetch, karma and maya, to her friends and her clients, she’s becoming a Mechaya,.

You see a friend told me your client is like you, and lately in the mirror I can see a Baha’i-Jew, so I better get going to the dance class or the synagogue, because the last thing I’m doing is publishing this blog – Oh!

Shower as Temple

 BooBoooBoooBoooShower Writing Presents:

                                                     Shower as Temple

              by Claudia Gold, copyright shameintojoy.com 2013

Where do you fall into when you turn to the Sun of Hearts, the God, or whatever you call it?  What happens to you? In this place mysterious.

What is this? What magenta dish comes to your inner love and says, “Waken.” (Or is the dish black, purple, yellow, and, if not, what?) What deeeeeeeeep plate does your energetic love come to your
growing-flourishing-aliveness on?

I have this morning a dish on which is a green book, pages opened, and when in there I find some delicacy, it opens deep airway, listening in there the deep and large spaciousness trumpets in lilies and tiny flower chords that all is well. A magnifying deep trumpet of my being calls and like in the movie Close Encounters, beams me to a “space-ship” of another gigantic and generous, dynamic, comforting ESSENCE. I am here.

From this deep completion in a moment, calling me to more, to my lovingest self/Source, can I write about ADD? Or my doggie Taz in the morning, who is pawing on me and licking me from under my desk? Or styles of writing, like the deep inner one I tried this morning, in a place I wonder if saints and mystics of many times have eagerly entered in the morning as temples – the shower?

In THE SHOWER THERE IS NOONE TO TRY TO BE. Nothing to do. What a free space. What a retreat.  This vastness dimension knows where to find us - - in the shower. If our soul wishes to relate? If our heart wishes to create, If our mind wishes to negotiate, it can here. Add in to this aromatherapy, the scents of soap, the bubbles and massages, relaxing God knows what brain indexes, no computers in there, no facebook, or Pinterest or blogging or clients or being sold to, or obligations or friends.  NO  shame in here. Or if some surfaces it recedes in warm beatings of shower, moist massages of soap, and the non-linear rhythms of watering, and perhaps a word or two or reassuring self talk.

If I was to write about ADD I’d say that it was here, in the shower, I got the idea to make a movement to mimic my creative ADD (or as my feng shui friend calls it, my prolificness)   My movement, made on the turquoise shower rug when I departed showering, has my hands making a vibrating motion towards each other by my head, it is frenetic, it is narrow focused, it is writing and reading for seven hours yesterday at the computer, it is not doing this today.

I am narrow focused. I need a maid and a butler, and maybe a Kickstarter, an accountant, a handyman and a secretary to handle my “To Do” piles. Oh, yeah, and a gardener.  I need more income to hire these people. And to get such income in the past I have had to draw on the biggest spaciousness. That Sun of Heart deeply in the mornings, to walk into hospitals and see sick people, many brave sick people, faithful sick people, and feel so many colors of feelings to calmly and lovingly do my job, quickly moving on to the next client. Give me a shower, and a green book on a glass plate, because there is a freedom there, and even though I do probably need to return to the 9 -5, at least for a while, no one can take my deep retreat place, the shower, from me, that I can return to at 7:00 in the morning, the burgundy towel still wrapped around me as I create, just a little on this keyboard.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Loving Your Life When Your Loved One is Diagnosed With A Scary Illness

Cousin Claudia's

Confessions From
About Hospital Stays

                             by Claudia “Shamana” Gold, M.S., M.P.H.

      I didn't learn this from graduating from the Columbia University School of Social Work. I didn't learn this from working as a social worker in hospitals for 19 years, or from being a yoga teacher. So I want to tell you how I finally learned five keys to getting your needs met at medical centers. My breakthrough began when I was teaching college classes at night, and taking my lively artistic daughter to her home-schooling park days during the day. Like everyone else I was buying groceries, washing dishes, and always wanting to get rid of clutter much more than doing it. There were soulful, loving moments, and ego challenging moments with my husband. Then one day I went to Dr. Patel's office with my husband John for his colonoscopy. At the end, Dr. Patel told my woozy husband and I that it looked like he had rectal cancer and that he would probably need a bag.

      After John was officially diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer, and before his hospitalization at USC Norris Cancer Center for surgery, I felt alone, angry at a nurse specialist who did not call back, and weird - like a poster child for anxiety. And I was supposed to know how to handle this. As a social worker I'd told others how to a thousand times at Long Beach Memorial and Children's Hospital of Los Angeles.

      It did not help that my husband’s favorite cat Junior ate our daughter’s three inch, pink rubber alien and some black elastic thread and also required abdominal surgery. Was this some sort of omen? Some sympathetic gesture on the part of the cat? And though we could not afford Junior's $3,000 surgery – could we let him die now? After we sprung for Junior's surgery, I held my breath, thinking somehow if the cat could survive, so would my husband. If he did not do well...that wouldn’t be so good.

      As a university professor, and stress management trainer who had been schlepping and being codependent as a medical social worker for 19 years, I felt guilty and surprised at what it felt like to be on the other end. It was as if my life as a social worker had been the black and white movie, and now, it was in living (or dying – I wasn't sure) color. The colors were bright and scary. I kept hearing in the remaining lobela (Yiddish for remaining healthy lobe of your brain when you've had a Jewish mother and your husband has stage four cancer) what I had told clients (and frankly, I'd even gotten a little sick of saying it): that they would feel like they were on an emotional roller coaster. But it was oh so different on my own emotional roller coaster. There were emotions showing up that I couldn't even recognize, and others that I didn't want to.

      One morning I decided it was time to call the friendly phone counselor at Cancer Care for support, but could not find the slip of paper with her number. I wandered through the house, into the bathroom – what had I been looking for? Not sure, I grabbed a necklace blessed at Lourdes with three medals of Catholic saints on a black thong, that my nurse friend Pat had once given me, and put it around my neck, just in case. Though I felt a twinge as I was raised as the daughter of the Rabbi of Las Vegas, and am a Baha'i, at this point “The Lord is One” took on new meaning.

       The week before the surgery, one morning I got up to go to the bathroom and my left foot did not work. After x-rays, as I hobbled around on my new air cast, I began suspecting that my physical body was expressing something I had not been able to - that I was afraid that I couldn’t walk through this journey of illness and hospitalization. Or maybe I needed to lay down for a while and prepare for my life changing wildly in the next few years? Or had I just tripped, unaware, while gardening in our lumpy back yard – the one which caused us to buy the house cause it reminded John of his native West Virginia.

      Nevertheless, there was a lot to do: I got my college classes in some wild semblance of order. I had one class in Culver City that was reflecting my stress and it wasn't pretty. I called the nurse at the hospital, wanting more info about the planned ileostomy, and left my third message in two weeks - I wondered maybe she didn’t like me. With each phone call to ask for help, I agonized, as I didn’t want to bother anyone, everyone is busy - would they say no? (This was a moment for a crash course in assertiveness and Codependency). I asked a combination of friends and, especially, one relative, to take care of our eight year old daughter for a week.

      Two days before surgery, after eating tempeh balls at a Vegan restaurant, I got a sudden fever and stomach problem, and worried if I would be able to go with my husband to the hospital. Anxious and stressed out, I called my relative to make the plans for child care. She was so sensitive – she totally picked up on my stress. One of us hung up on the other and I got a phone message that she wasn’t taking my daughter for the week. , on my way to teach my college class my mind was like a tape recorder playing over and over: How could a relative back out at a time like this?!

      The day before the surgery I phoned the honest and loving social worker who ran the support group for people whose spouses had cancer what to bring to the hospital. We both believed in having family or friend stay with the person at the hospital, and had seen bad things no one wants you to talk about happen even with a loved one present, but especially when no loved one was present. She said to bring a couple of tops, a couple of bottoms, a couple of pairs of underwear. The night before the surgery, however, as I packed, I kept sticking more things I might need into my purse, then into a tote and the overflow in a rolling duffle bag. I hadn’t known what stresses my clients and their families and friends might go through before they even got to the hospital, how much my mental health and theirs would be challenged. At the last minute, a friend of a friend whose mom was a cancer survivor offered to take my daughter for the week. Her name was appropriately Angela.

      In the early morning, on the way to the hospital for the surgery I forgot to make a turn off the freeway and made us late for John’s surgery. Instead of being loving and supportive, I had stressed my husband out before his surgery. Bad caregiver.

      On arrival in the pre-surgery waiting area, which was divided into small areas like horse stalls, my human intellect ceased to function, I was anxiety personified, especially when an aide arrived to wheel John to his colonoscopy. A little faklempt, with a wonder if they could possibly want my husband to have a colonoscopy prior to colo-rectal surgery, I told the aide my husband was there for surgery. He left the stall and didn't come back. I was horrified when next an intern with a deep voice and unfamiliar accent arrived and read through my husband’s chart as if it was the Tibetan Book of the Dead. After they wheeled him a few feet into surgery I was deeply reassured by the surgery nurse’s violet surgical cap, her blonde hair and cheery smile which I will always remember, and felt confidence at seeing the anesthesiologist's earrings and eye shadow. When I left the waiting room and took the elevator to the cafeteria a male stranger smiled at me, and I felt hopeful, over the top hopeful.

      Finding the silver tap to get water in the cafeteria was an accomplishment. (I later learned from psychiatrist friend Dr. Ebrahim Amanat that there is a name for this unfamiliar out of the world state: hyper-realization, and one can be thus transported at meditative as well as crisis times). Despite it having a name, it was very odd and disorienting, as you may know, if you have been through this.

      The hospital stay was eye-opening, and I am not referring only to the automatic doors from the ICU near my husband’s room swinging open 30 times a day, jolting him out of his sedated rest. After our cat Junior, my husband, and I survived the first hospitalization, and lived through a few daytime hospital soap operas, I started having some remarkable Aha moments at hospitals, excited to find ways to get everything, or almost everything John and I needed there, some of the time (I will save my tip about sticking your water bottle in the ER entrance door so you don't have to wait a half hour for busy staff to let you back in, for another treatise). I hope the tips shared will help you be less anxious, angry, or alone, and to feel empowered by being skillful, centered, and loved (you are the best for being there), if you are called upon to be with your loved one at a hospital one day. These are five keys to helping keep your heart happy and warm at a hospital in an imperfect world:
                    - Abdu'l Baha
1. You have a right to ask anything again and again and you should. – to avoid things falling into black holes. (Such holes are very unpleasant and can summon paranoia, an unpleasant state that builds upon itself and will not be recommended in any of the books it would now be quite helpful to read about positive thinking). Take hospital staff seriously as human beings. They are often undernourished emotionally from giving in drastic circumstances. They may need hugs, love, food, pens, rest, and have poysonal challenges. If you are courteous you have a better shot of getting your needs met, and you can ask for anything. Don't worry if a resident or intern does not take your concern seriously, keep voicing it. Do not assume that a note left on a chart for you to be called will be acted upon. To reach doctors, as Dr. Leslie Botnick, radiologist (and my first cousin) at the John Wayne Cancer Institute advises, “Call five times a day if you need to. It is a doctor’s job to call you. You should expect a response.”

2. Get organized: Keep a notebook or use your handy device for keeping track of what is happening, what should happen, and when. (Shameless ad: I'm working on my book/journal about hospital stays now). Let it be your second mind. Keep it handy for jotting down doctors' input, such as after a surgery or during early morning rounds. In it, also keep logs of when you asked for what so you have a better sense of control. You might note there if your loved one is acting weird after receiving a certain medication so you can alert staff when your loved one sees flies on the wall and before he or she thinks he is a fly.

3. Share your craziness. Share your sadness. Otherwise, unexpressed feelings come out unexpectedly. Example: I and other strangers would testify to the gentleman in a suit screaming in admitting at USC University Hospital for his wife to finally get a room. This is a good technique to use if desperate, as I learned when this gentleman and his wife were helped before us and we were first and waiting a long time. The other piece I learned from him is to tell everyone in the room how your loved one's surgery was botched at that hospital and then they help you quickly to shut you up – it's bad PR.

Join a support group. Ask friends, counselors, how often you can call them. You may be surprised – as I was. Keep a list of your support team’s phone numbers. Listen to touching music or watch a sad movie. If you have children, help them in releasing feelings in these ways, and if you're not available have others help them. (And breathe deep into your feet to help ground your feelings. You can even imagine you are a tree with roots into the earth, or that your feet have magnets on them. You might walk in sand, massage those feet with lavender lotion, or stop at a massage shop for foot massage. 

4. Avoid taking things personally. Perhaps a relative has a few personality disorders and is behaving badly, and you never should have had them involved in the first place, or a staff member doesn’t get it, a doctor ignores you, your loved one who you are helping a lot, and you have some past baggage with, is grumpy. Tell yourself that this has nothing to do with you, it is the situation, and stay purposeful, focused step after step on advocating for your loved one. Stay as centered as possible. (Caution: People who are difficult generally make things much more difficult at a difficult time. Family and friends who have not been involved before will likely be about as involved now, not rise to the occasion, you might expect. And unexpected good folks will likely show up to help).

5. Respect your loved one’s needs. And your needs. Ask if your loved one needs quiet, space, music, a foot massage, to be read to, the temperature adjusted. If the room is noisy, or has a bad view, you can ask for a quieter room with a view for when one becomes available, and you very well might get it. Respect your needs. During weeks before the hospitalization (if you have any lead time) use your favorite stress reduction tools intensely, e.g. massage, bubbly baths, nature walk. During this time, avoid personal and professional confrontations. At the hospital, on a spectrum of when you feel overloaded, choose when to leave the room, when to walk down the hall, into the hospital gardens, or go home. The soap and water of shower or bath becomes a blessing at such times. And don’t feel guilty. You can leave when you are least needed. Bring gifts to the hospital for yourself, you deserve it (and some sprigs of flowers and edible gifts for staff).

      Wish you the best. Although I shared some of my reactions to ventilate and to prepare you in case you feel really unusual going through a loved one's diagnosis or hospital stay, hospital stays can bring unexpected blessings, even treasured moments with healing angels disguised as nurses and doctors, and...even...dare I say, social workers. You and your loved one will, I can't promise when, deeply appreciate each other like you may have forgotten to before. We don't have control over some things, but using the control we have can bring joy and empowerment to help balance out the times we are riding on the emotional roller coaster.

Claudia Gold is writing a forthcoming series about Loving Your Life When ____ Happens, is a writer, expressive arts therapist and coach, who was encouraged in writing by Leo Buscaglia in whose Love Class she participated. She is a mom, has four or five cats depending on what her daughter brings home that day, and is a former kundalini yoga teacher, massage therapist, and Santa Cruz hippie.

Copyright Claudia Gold, 2012, All Rights Reserved

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Hi. You are welcome to see my brand new blog about how much to love on my "Body Blessing" site (where I put it by accident).

Sunday, November 27, 2011


After dance class, in the bathroom of Govinda's restaurant, did an elegant coming off the toilet dance, and it occurred to me that "Everything can be a dance." I did, however, have a bit of difficulty figuring out how to dance to the toilet flushing... Something to try in the future.

At the Govinda's restaurant where people eat after dance class I sat with women eating yummy dahl and delicasies with tamarind sauce. One of the women, Zindy, mentioned that she says the following morning and eve, and that it is by the founder of the healing system Reiki, and even on the founder's grave. (Thanks to Lorna for sending it to me).

The ancient art of inviting happiness. The miraculous medicine for all ills.

Said twice a day out loud (morning and night) with hands to heart:

I will not hate. I will not worry. I am filled with gratitude. I am dedicated to my work. And kind to people.


Make Blessings for the Moment: OR (If you don't like the word "blessings" try the following) Expressive Arts FunHealing Exercise):

1) Hands facing away from you and spread apart by 8 inches or so, let them float down from near your face to your chest and push them out...as you sigh, and say

2) I let go of __________.

Example: I let go of being mad at myself for betting angry at my daughter yesterday.
I let go of the thought that I cannot do technological things on the computer.

This exercise can be repeated as many times as desired for letting go of Thanksgiving family angst or anything else about work, friendships, etc...

(I just did this standing in front of a full length mirror, let go of worrying about my weight, and found an affirmation arising as I looked in my eyes: It is OK for me to be who I am.)

Then, if the spirit moves you, this can be reversed:

1) Raise arms out and above your head and bring them down to your chest as you sigh and say:

2) I bring you ______________________.

Example: I bring you acceptance for not being perfect.

Blibbits from My Brain at this Moment:

Gotta get ready to go to 5 Rhythms dance class.

I noticed I had not blogged in a while! Living in an apple orchard, in Sebastopol seemed to bring out the blog in me more, a few years back. But I have beautiful places to go here in L.A., too...

My "late" spiritually graduated husband had designed for me a web-site. One page of it seems to have remained on the Internet and it has an article on it about bringing the light into dark times by wonderful oncology social worker and being Dani Daniels and myself. Google: Illumined Hearts Claudia Gold-Fanning.

Make Blessings,


Saturday, September 26, 2009


Wanted to recommend this site. The poems by Mark Nepo are sometimes read at the Five Rhythms class I attend.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


Affirmation that occurred to me today:

The universe provides me with all I need to have more and more ease and support and joy and wisdom, (why not?) day by day with parenting my dear daughter.

We are assisted by loving souls who are in the spiritual realms within this world, and we receive their healing and sustenance.

John's ease and humor are appreciated. My dad's care and love for me is appreciated. May all dads feel good in their hearts for the sacrifices and goodness they have given. Bless, John, today and always. He died 3 years ago. Ouch.

To you and me, Claudia

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


This morning on waking I found myself thinking of gathering affirmations to make an Affirmation Bank bank book. As a freeby, for now, first I'll share a tip, and then some affirmations, quotes, questions, and a couple of heart-said prayers from the previous blogs… Some of these will be in the bank books which will be available on demand for Yes We Can prices.


As you may know:

You can say affirmations while looking at yourself in a mirror.

One way to work with them is to write the affirmation on one side of a page, and right the resistances to the affirmation on the other, then write the affirmation again, then write resistance, etc... until the resistances run out and the affirmation starts feeling right.

Affirmations can use the words “You”, “I” or use your name, in them.

I totally accept and love myself. I totally need to give credit for this affirmation to a therapist Michelle Barone who works a lot with home-schooling families, and who shared this style of affirmation at a conference. She learned it from a group called EFT started by Gary Craig. The basic format is: Even though__________________ (fill in the blanks)I still deeply accept and love myself.This brings in the Jewish principle that the greatest spirituality is in bringing the highest consciousness to the lowest level. The Jungians also fish for the dark spots, for the deaths that then brink re-births.

Frank Note* I like affirmations that reduce and/or eliminate shame, like this one does.

Example: Even though I didn't get to all my cases at work today, I totally love and accept myself.

Looking forward to seeing your affirmations. Please feel free to make deposits in the comments section, to journal there about interest you are receiving on your affirmations, and to comment on anything you read here. And feel free to make as many withdrawals as you want.

A f f i r m a t i o n s

Even though I cannot do everything perfectly for myself or my loved one, I deeply and totally accept and love myself.


I have learned in recent years that my faults, the defects that keep me from creating the work I want to do, are not flaws or failures. They are wounds. The merest shift in the word shifts attitude. As failure, flaws, defects, I want to crush them underfood, smash their noses in, impale their heads upon a pike and mount it on the tower wall. But this is my very soul I am impaling there, the essence of my heart. Block, the inability to proceed, signals not a defect but a wound exposed; and curiously in our wounds lie our divinity...healing comes from tenderness. Embrace the wounds, wash them, bandage them with loving care...
- Sophy Burnam

"Take your main fear about living more of your creative dreams and describe it in detail." - SARK!

“I must learn to love the fool in me - the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.”
- Theodore Isaac Rubin (American Writer and psychiatrist)

To phrase this as an affirmation, it could read, "Little by little, day by day, and moment by moment as I remember, I am loving the fool in me - the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries.”

More Affirmations

I enjoy the confidence of following my heart.
I enjoy the gift of the Creator's confidence in me, flowing through my words and actions.


I totally accept and love myself as an imperfect but loving and making efforts parent.

I forgive myself for mistakes I have made in parenting.

I enjoy the blossoms of friendship and the luscious fruits they yield into.

I Trust

I trust the universe is assisting me and surrrounding me with compassion and help

I trust my inner resources and outer resources to guide me for my next steps towards worthy goals

I am good company.

I crack myself up.

I have a funny and good relationship with moi, myself, and I.

You are like apple blossoms - giving life to all on your path.

I am open to the surprise goodness and beauty in people that don't fit societal norms of beauty - today especially honoring women larger than the U.S. societal norm.

To my body, after closing my eyes and breathing deep:
I love you with all of your perfections and imperfections.

I trust in the process that leads my family to a location and activities that will be best for us. I am greatful for the Creator's connections for our future, and for all the good people we have met.

I am grateful for the gifts of the Creator within and without.

I enjoy the freedom, clarity and confidence of taking care of my happiness and heart longings.

I enjoy the freedom of taking care of my emotions, and containing, expressing, comforting and/or balancing them according to the needs of the moment.

I say yes to this life here. Even though I suffer at times with the pain of not knowing how to negotiate some communication with others or with ego stumbles or lack of confidence, I totally love and accept myself.

I say yes to apple blossoms.

I trust. I trust my Spirit, my emotions, my body, my breath, this universe amongst the millions of universes, the Source of apple blossoms, and your power to create affirmations too.

I continue to trust when I stop trusting.

It is fabulous to have an embracing relationship within oneself. And to make love with the Creator through reading, prayer and reflection.

I am following the hints around me and within me, those subtle hints the color of dawn and I have the courage to be new versions of what I thought of as myself as I keep climbing.

I am open to the best direction for my family - one fulfilling, satisfying, helping our growth on all levels and allowing maximum service for what we can offer in our lfe mandala now. This or something more inspired.

I take time to tend the plants of my deepest dreams.

I can w/effort, follow a wonderful path and schedule times and enjoy making plans for creative dreams to manifest of writing, theater, teaching, etc...

I am refining my focus so my energy can manifest.

My eyes are open and hands ready to do what needs to be done to open doors for financial stabiity and prosperity in our lives.

* * * Questions

What are your needs and how can you fill them with ease and trust? What is in your heart? What else do you want to say?

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Have been working day and night to produce this journal, which is from my love of color, my experience with what I needed for grieving, and my love of working with paper. I heard today that creativity stimulates the same area of the brain as healing does. When someone is healing from a physical injury, the same part of their brain is lit as when someone is being creative!! I am healing all the time. I'm having trouble downloading pictures, but hope to do this soon.

Today I read from Alan Wolfelt's book/journal about the journey through grief. It brought up to me that his work would have been helpful to have earlier, as he talks about facing that the death happened as the first thing that needs to be done. I realized I haven't totally gotton the gems out of grief and worn them on my crown - I still am holding on to how hard it is to be single mom,, and widowed in this society. More work to do! His approach is helpful and compassionate. Mine is more intuitive. He is an expert and I am someone who is going on her own experience. So tired from late night production. Here it is and I have some good testimonials I hope to insert soon. I got my first order this week!

New Expressive Arts Journals - Introductory Special
Dancing Artist: A Journal for Discovering Treasures
Birthday % Holiday Editions

The Birthday Journal is for reflection on what is to celebrate about you, and to take steps to embody your deepest dreams and inclinations towards growth. For yourself or another person you cherish. Children and Babies Birthday Journal - a version for birthdays of little people – the doting relatives and friends at the birthday party fill out portions about memories, wishes, and shining attributes already noted). Mini-Holiday Journals are to let family friends express/appreciate/share holiday hopes at holiday gatherings. Journals can be brought out yearly. Calligraphed name/birth date on birthday journals.

Love 101: To Mourn, Perchance to Dance Journal

This is an awesome journal containing sections that that open up reflection, awareness and integration, and bring the person grieving love and compassion in their process. Hand-calligraphed, book includes Reflection Questions, Expressive Arts Exercises, Bridge from Guilt to Compassion, Canopy of Support, and Faces of Grief illustration.

The Color Coded Clutch Purse: What to Pack Mentally, Emotionally and Spiritually for Honey’s Hospital Stay

This journal contains excellent tools for keeping sane on all levels and preventing unnecessary stress before, during, and after a hospitalization. Author created it based on 20 years as a hospital social worker, and going through hospitalizations with her husband when he had cancer. Contains journal pages with calligraphy and vivid pastel color.

Journals contain natural wool/cashmere yarns or ribbons & surprises.
Expressive Arts from and for the Heart. By expressive arts therapist, MSW. Comfort Baskets & “You are Loved” monthly/weekly pages available for stressed people. Journals $23, Introductory Special: $19. Mini-Journals $5, now $4. Contact me and will e-mail shipping and handling fees/order form. Give the gift of healing for the holidays.

Call/ e-mail: Penofgold9@sbcglobal.net, Claudia Gold: 310.707.6306

Sunday, October 19, 2008


I'm so excited to put in form years of evolving journals that I've been creating. I will include all the info after I get back from having a great Sunday.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Even though I canot do everything perfectly for myself or my loved one, I deeply and totally accept and love myself.

The Color Coded Purse: What to Pack for Your Body, Mind and Spirit During a Loved One's Hospital Stay

If you have a loved one in the hospital, you might want to read an article I once wrote about navigating hospitalizations. I view this very seriously, because it takes every skill one has, every emotional strength and attitude adjusting ability to stay on top of this type of transforming life event. Of course I wrote this for challenging hospitalizations, not for the wonderful ones like when a loved one has a well baby.

Tips for Preparing for Hospitalization of Loved One (If You Know of Hospitalization in Advance)

1. Take a tour of the medical center in advance, to add to your sense of security, and reduce anxiety. Get familiar with the eating establishments, what is located where, and what hours they are open. Ask for the hospital information booklet that has directions, phones numbers.

2. You can call the hospital and ask for a security person, a social worker, a chaplain, to ask questions that help familiarize you with the hospital culture, policies, parking, services, routines, lay-out. You may make friendly, helpful connections, and find a familiar person at the hospital.

3. If various people are helping you with such things as your house, children, plants, cats and dogs, snake, frog, type a list with address and phone number of hospital, directions to hospital, and phone numbers of people involved, and e-mail list to all people helping.

4. Be as good to yourself as possible the week or two before the hospitalization, if it is a planned hospitalization. Get a massage. Avoid difficult people. (It is not unusual for a relative or two to behave badly at the worst times [don’t let it rob your peace] or for someone to be an angel out of the blue).

5. If you call a doctor or nurse and they do not call you back, avoid taking it personally, and focus on getting the answers. If ten calls fall through the cracks, and you keep asking why, you can get very stressed out. Ask what you can learn, such as that you can be perseverant in contacting medical staff to get whatever questions you have about the medical condition/procedure/hospitalization answered (call morning and evening, or five times a day, or very early or late if necessary).

Surgery dates are not written in stone: if you need one changed, call to arrange it. Call to confirm scheduled surgery/procedure date. If you have doctors at different hospitals, even if they have different specializations, do not rely on them to get on the same page; make certain they have the same agenda, especially for surgeries/procedures, and that they have each other’s cell phones. Have surgeons spell out for you what their plans and contingency plans are for a surgery.

You are needed to be a kind of care coordinator; the staff/doctor may be busy, unable to reach your other doctor, or otherwise not get around to it even if they intended to and told you they would. Doctors may have many pressures and patients, in a medical center environment which may be in the red and cost-conscious.

6. Consider the team approach: ask close relative(s) and/or friend(s) or members of faith community to be on the team to support your loved one, to take shifts with you in staying in the hospital to care for and advocate full-time when your loved one is hospitalized, or at least sedated or not fully themselves. {Call in the troops; it could prevent one person from getting post-traumatic stress disorder). Nurse’s aides and nurses are sometimes too busy to provide personal care desired. I believe if the person hospitalized is very close to you, it can help for you to have a support person there for you, at least for the days of a major surgery, to help with practical things and to ground and support you.

7. Attach a spiral purse-sized notebook to your purse, where you write down information, or put all notes in your daily organizer or wherever you keep things to be organized. The notebook is for keeping with you to write down notes on what doctors say, on the spot, such as mid-surgery, and during rounds. Men might want to keep a tiny pad of paper in their pants pocket.

Also collect doctors' business cards for correct spelling and fax numbers. Ask how to reach doctors generally, and at nights, on week-ends and holidays. Your notebook, or your scheduler, will keep numbers of medical team, and people, therapist, organizations you might want to call for support. (It also can be used as a journal for keeping favorite inspiring quotes, happy photos, reminders, a stress balancing plan, pages for journaling, and your ongoing, dated, lists of questions and staff’s answers).

8. Feel free to ask friends, relatives, faith community for help and give them an opportunity to reap the rewards of service. I asked a friend how often I could call, and she said daily, any time day or night – was I happily surprised! Perhaps you need a meal, people gathered around your loved one or yourself to pray the night before chemo or surgery, help getting the house in order to feel sane, or prayers. If you ask, the most wonderful people may come over to help, and be companions so you do not feel alone.

What to Bring to Hospital for You and Your Loved One

1. Copies of previous tests, reports, and films (helps to buy films if illness could be progressive).

2. Comfortable, breathable fabric, clothes than can double as pajamas, if you stay over in room or lounge, and change of clothes - include hooded sweat shirt for warmth (especially if your loved one goes to the ICU and you sleep in a waiting room), and slip on shoes, for getting up at night. A few days’ supply of underwear.

3. Toiletries in an Organizer, placed in a tote bag - 1) Little boxes of soap, shampoo, conditioner; shower cap; deodorant; 2) mini tooth brush and tooth paste, mouth wash; 3) make-up; 4) nail care; 5) brush and comb, organic lavender lotion (or your favorite type) and massage oil to massage loved one and give self foot massage; 6) side pockets can hold packets of herb tea (e.g. Chamomile, Tension Tamer, Chai), spare socks, thank you cards, stationary and stamps. (I also included natural homeopathic and flower remedies such as Rescue Remedy - a few drops in water bottle, and 5HTP Calm - to reduce my anxiety). Organize in travel bag with multiple see-through and mesh compartments, like the Studio Basic's Overnight Pack.

Place overnight pack in a tote bag containing soft toilet paper and soft tissues, natural room spray, your filled vitamin box, water bottles and your favorite crafts/hobbies: knitting, magazines or projects, described below. Also include a notebook with copies of previous labs and test results, any discharge summaries, and current medications, (Some people have notebooks with copies of all records from doctors’ offices and from hospitalizations – obtained through Medical Records). A separate bag will be needed for your food, and food your loved one likes that fits in with the diet ordered by the M.D. This bag may or may not fit in your large tote bag. Any films from cat-scans, MRI’s…will be large, needing a bag of their own (could use a portfolio carrier) or carried by themselves.

4. Music: Radio, 2 CD player/cassette/"walkman" players, headphones for you and loved one, favorite CD's, tapes.

5. Favorite foods, drinks, teas. I included some fresh foods like red peppers and baby carrots, with ranch dip, potatoes, and salsa. Fresh food is pleasant to eat in the hospital, consider fruit salad. Treat foods are nice, such as quiche, and bottled water. Most hospitals have a little fridge and microwave in a pantry for guests. If caregiver stays at a hotel, a refrigerator can be requested. Next time I would bring a small blender as I like smoothies.

6. Knitting, crocheting, a handi-craft, short project, and/or favorite magazine, book of humor or short stories, and your MOST inspiring literature and/or tapes/CD's (may include something from your religion/spiritual path that gives meaning to illness/life challenges, and a tape that includes subliminal messages for recovering from surgery or illness), and videos or CD’s of movies. A flashlight. As you know, a caregiver can read an article or chapter, or do a project, while waiting for the loved one to get out of a test or procedure or while sitting in the room or lounge, and can be adaptable to stop for when a doctor, meal, visitor arrives. The flashlight is for night or early morning, setting up your music, journaling, reading including your most inspiring quote, poem, or sacred book, praying, meditating, and reflecting.

Sometimes people are so on remote control, focused, or with so much adrenaline and other stress chemicals, hyper-alert and juggling so many things, that they can’t read, pray and meditate in their usual way in the hospital – but can benefit from being in nature, looking out a window onto nature, taking a shower, writing a poem, using some physical relaxation method or some other way they find they can get connected.

7. Purse - with lots of compartments & attached cell phone carrier, and change purse with key chain attached (or other large key chain, to find easily), stocked with cash for cafeteria, phone card in case hospital has a policy against using cell phones, protein bars or other snacks to tide you over in case of an emergency room visit, and breath mints for close contact with your loved one. Keep everything, including spiral notebook, in purse at all times.

8. Lap-top computer - Some people like to bring theirs for projects, research, passing time, etc…

9. Photos and decorations for making hospital room a healing center, and dry erase markers (one medical center did not write the names of nurses on white board as people stole their dry erase pens). Pack photo of loved one in a setting they love, family photos, cards, quotes, that you and your loved one love, and place at bedside or on bulletin board, to inspire and heal you and your loved one. I put up a large poster of a rural farm house and stream, and brought in a lush green plant, as my husband has allergies to flowers. We hung a crystal by the window. Bring natural items of beauty or scent that you like to balance the hospital environment:: a sea shell, a peacock feather, a little Zen sandbox with a rake, a bouquet of lavender, sage and other fragrant herbs, grapefruit oil, herbal tea…

10. Bedding and bathrobe, slippers - Some people like to bring blanket, pillow and a few softer sheets (some hospitals have rough sheets) for the bed, from home, for their loved one. (A caregiver might have a preference for having their own pillow and blanket, too, if planning to stay over)

11. Gifts and thank-you for staff, loved one, for yourself. We gave small gifts/note cards to staff who was especially helpful, and gifts for unit, such as a placard we helped color, that said "Care" on it, Uniball© pens (they are like gold in a medical center]. According to medical center policies, gifts for staff need to be perishable - flowers, food, ordering a dinner delivered for nurses. Presents for your loved one, or for yourself – your loved one may be too sedated to thank you - might be a pretty new journal, a new lotion, music or book on tape, a pretty shirt with favorite colors; unwrap your presents when you need one.

Support for You Supporting Your Loved One in the Hospital

1. Soon after you arrive, scout out, or ask nurse or other families for locations of family pantries, lounges, family rooms, available cots, linen closet.

2. Monitor for safety and comfort: medications and dosages, any reactions; ordered tests done on time, nutrition correct as ordered; adequate blankets for procedures... Advocate in person for adequate sedation if test painful.

3. When doctors make rounds, briefly summarize what other doctors have told you. Be prepared to discuss clearly and concisely your list of questions, and let doctors know you have a list of questions in the first minutes of seeing them (they may only stop by for three minutes and may not ask if you have questions; you can supply them with a copy to refer to, or give nurse a dated copy to give to doctor). Remember that you are an important part of the team, with a unique perspective from being with your loved one consistently, and being familiar with what has gone on. Your love for the person hospitalized may be the strongest healing force involved. Even if you feel intimidated by a doctor, remember, they are not God, and it is normal not to understand medical terminology, especially when stressed. Feel free to keep asking. (It is normal to feel stupid).

4. A positive, grateful approach can bring out the best in people, and keep you less stressed. Nurses, social workers, chaplains, case mangers, can be helpful allies. If I had to give one piece of advice it would be: focus on being courteous, e.g. “Would you be so kind as to….?” A natural, and mutually beneficial way to do this is to make a connection with the staff person, by empathizing about their day or shift, asking how they are doing, noticing something in common. Ask and ask again as needed to prevent requests from falling into black holes.

One experienced nurse recommended standing at the nurse station with your request, if you want to be helped. She reiterated that the squeaky wheel only gets the grease. Squeaking early on can prevent being resentful and angry later. Be prepared to keep asking sweetly, with gratitude, as much as you need to, and to be more assertive than you have ever been in your entire life. My uncle who is a rabbi considers nurses as healing angels from God, and my aunt brings them home-baked treats; they came back from my uncle’s hospital stay with only positive things to say about the staff and the experience. Another uncle gave huge amounts of appreciation and even tips to staff – and people went out of their way to help him.

5. Find a safe, loving, and even creative way to feel and express feelings. Unexpressed feelings don't go away, but can come out in unexpected ways. One way is to share the real thoughts and feelings with someone who is both loving and honest. If they have experience with having a family member ill, or with hospitalizations, all the better. You want to be wise open up to people who have been consistently trustworthy.

Sometimes it is a dance to feel out who you feel comfortable talking about what to, and to trust it. The support may come from a hospital social worker, therapist, family member, friend, chaplain, telephone counselor from an organization related to your loved one's illness, person of your faith, and/or a support group.

In my particular situation, dealing with an ongoing illness of my loved one, I found it very helpful to find a touching piece of music that made me cry and listen to it over and over again, getting out my tears. I also found going to a expressive moment class (in this case based on the work of Gabrielle Roth, and her Five Rhythms work, including many tyles of music), writing poems, and doing journaling, including with free drawing, accesses different layers of feeling, and movis through mental barriers and stuck places into new awarenesses in a way that is surprising, and comes from within.

6. Do something relaxing and/or inspiring before going to sleep, whether it is taking deep, comfortable breaths, progressive relaxation, listening to a soothing tape, praying, or giving yourself a foot massage. Be open to healing, strength, and wisdom during your sleep.

7. When you are out of sorts, feel out how much space you need: try leaving the room, going down the hall, taking a walk outside, calling a friend/therapist; or going home for a break: to take a bath, hug the cat/child, and/or go to the hairdresser or masseuse. I felt bad leaving, but came back after a long stay in a massage chair, with a new cute hair-cut , and my husband told me I looked beautiful. Wow.

8. If your loved one is grumpy, don't take it personally. You and loved one may have different styles, and under stress of the hospitalization, conflicts can occur, sometimes over loved one wanting autonomy, but dealing with having limited independence.

9. When you stay over: arrange treats for yourself in hospital: have food delivered, rent movies, asks a friend to visit for you even if your loved one is not up for a visit. Take a nice hot shower to relieve stress. Visit with other pleasant family members/friends who are at the hospital for their loved ones. They can be an informal support group. Open presents you have brought for yourself, when you need one.

10. Whatever you are feeling, however strange, is normal. Give yourself understanding for anything you are feeling, even if it seems bizarre. You may feel strange to yourself and neurotic tendencies and regression might surface under these stresses. You may feel like you are on remote-control, hyper-alert, and anyone who tries to be intellectual with you might not make any sense. Feeling strange is part of the response during stress and crisis times. On the positive side, you may be more present, in the moment, where you can appreciate a smile, a pretty scrub outfit, a rose, a view out a window.

11. Don’t hesitate to ask for anything: all you can get it a yes or no. We asked for a room with a view, and when it was available, received it, and it made a difference to my husband. When our to be adopted daughter was born, we asked for a room for the night to be with her and received it. When my husband wanted to be discharged on a Sunday and there was no discharge planner available, we asked the head nurse and we got it done. I have seen people create their own realities at hospitals, such as a mom with a newborn in ICU who lived locally camping out in a family room reserved for out of town families, because it was essential for her that she be there.

12. You and your team members are the ones who can put the lip moisturizer on your loved one, massage their feet, read or sing to them, get the headphones and CD set up, go get a needed pad or blanket, adjust the room temperature, ask staff for something they need, tell staff they are not ready to be discharged if you are seeing signs of that. You are the ones that can advocate if there is a need; the nurse’s aides and nurses might be too busy. At the least, you may be preventing them being more stressed in an already stressful situation, and from slipping backwards. At the most, you could be saving your loved one’s life. Trust your intuiton and err on the side of speaking your truth.

While I sincerely hope you gain one or more helpful tips from this article, one that will be useful for you or someone else, and may be remembered at some later date when needed, you may find yourself at an ER, a medical center, an ICU, supporting someone, with nothing on any of these lists, no color coded purse. In that instance, you are the color coded purse. You are the best resource. Your presence, your instincts, your kindness, your ability to connect with staff, with your loved one, to focus on getting what your loved one needs and not react to the five things that are not happening like you might like them to, are the most important things you will need.

Friends, to be always ready for an emergency in such situations, you need to keep on top of giving yourself some care, some pleasures. As feasible, take big portions of things like: sunlight, sitting in nature, tea, your own hair cuts and dentist and health visits, showers, music, massage chairs, clean underwear, holding hands with friend, speaking to loving friend on phone. And don't feel guilty for not doing this perfectly. There is no perfection here, we all make mistakes and have delays with caring for ourselves and for our loved ones.

Best wishes to you and honoring you for your helpful, devoted services to your loved one, and for caring for your sweet self, in advance.

Remember Gary Craig's (EFT) wonderful affirmation formula, applied here as: Even though I canot do everything perfectly for myself or my loved one, I deeply and totally accept and love myself.
Claudia Gold-Fanning c 2008

I am currently offering consultations and presentations on The Color Coded Purse, through my company Foundations for Excellence, and have a forthcoming book on the subject. I can be reached at (310) 514-2484. You are free to quote from this article if you include author's name and title of work it is from.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


Boundaries - I need to go construct boundaries for my day... So I have only a few moments.

Sari, regarding your comment about how to use the "This Moment Calendar", I think it is to notice anything you are feeling in your body, mind, soul and that writing elicits the awareness, sortof like meditating on paper. I will share some moments:

Antsy cause I have so much to do
Dove on wire above jacaranda trees is no longer there
Arms look relaxed on computer board even though I am tensed for what to do today
I will need strength to tackle tasks for today
I think I'll take EmergenC
And walk - schedule a walk
I notice the long post I just did disappeared when I went to edit it
I need to save in the future
I will share with Sari a "This Moment Calendar" I filled in when I first created it when I was in a meditative and perhaps wanting to appear meditative frame of mind
I will use the This Moment calendar myself and see what it is like to use it
My breathing is a little jagged
I feel some nervousness
I put my hands criss-crossed in the center of my chest
And ask for the Creator's help for today
In my humble way, I'd like to be in harmony
I'd like to be a BlessingSong
And put faith in practice as in the quote I read this morning:

"There are three kinds of Faith: first, that which is from tradition and birth. For example: a child is born of Muhammadan parents, he is a Muhammadan. This faith is weak traditional faith: second, that which comes from Knowledge, and is the faith of understanding. This is good, but there is a better, the faith of practice. This is real faith. (Abdu'l-Baha, Abdu'l-Baha in London, p. 64)

Oh Creator guide me
Oh Creator I trust you and all those that help me. may I be open to Your subtle suggestions

Love, Claudia

P.S. If you click on the calendar, as you know, the image will enlarge and you can read at least some of the words that are there. This was the meditative "This Moment Calendar" - the first one I created when I didn't notice fears and anxieties like I did today.