Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Leslie Cottrell Simonds ~ Special Guest

"I created a colorful abstract for the pure joy of it."

by, Jan Steinle, Certified Zentangle Teacher


Special Guest: Leslie Cottrell Simonds 
~Author, Caregiver, Creator of The Visionary Passage~

~The Visionary Passage~

I always find it interesting to hear people say they were shaped by the experiences they found themselves in as either children, or young adults. Could it not be the reverse?  Perhaps we become immersed in certain circumstances solely to help us remain on a path that was ours to travel.  Like the gutter lanes we set up to help our little one feel successful as a new bowler, becoming comfortable with experiences that are a bit out of the norm for others can nudge us forward to be different people than we may have been otherwise.  Different people, only because we are journeying our divine paths.

After finding myself in the presence of several people as they prepared to transition from this life, I began to wonder just why it was that I experienced this event multiple times.  What was most interesting to me was that I found the experience of holding space for someone actively dying as an honor.  It was beautiful, peaceful and transcendent.  It was such a pure feeling that I had no idea others did not feel the same!

After hearing some recollections of fear, uneasiness and even disgust, I began to embrace the idea that I felt the way I did because it is my journey to see beauty in the tender last moments, to see strength in the peaceful transition, and to see the face of God in the “in between.”

After being present for the last five days of my Father’s life I began to really understand the need for end of life support.  The dying need the support of someone who can set their grief aside and immerse themselves in the journey unfolding before them.  This is the key to holding space for the loved one who is nearing their last earthly breaths.  It is the simplest of concepts and perhaps the most challenging of all tasks.

How does one being to prepare for an end of life vigil?  The question itself opens a flurry of emotions.  I had a friend who refused to talk about what was ahead for her Mother.  She had a head knowledge that her Mother’s last days were approaching, but wouldn’t talk about preparing to support her Mother at her end of life because she felt it was a disloyalty.

I received a frantic and tearful call from her one mid morning after being met outside her Mother’s Nursing Home door by her Mother’s Primary Care Physician.  He attempted to tell her that her Mother had entered the stage of active dying and would probably be alive no longer than two or three more days.  Suddenly struck with the realizations that could no longer be avoided, she was desperate to gain enough knowledge to really be there for her Mom.

I did what I could to support her from the lengthy distance between us.  Several weeks after her Mother’s funeral, she admitted to me that she felt like a Mother giving birth with no labor classes.  She never felt like she could “catch up” to what was unfolding before her eyes.  Another call some months later ended with these words, “If you ever want a testimonial for why we need to prepare for death vigils, just have people call me.”

One thing we can do to support our loved ones is to ask them well in advance about their end of life choices.  I speak about this in great length in my book, “I Want You to Know.”  This book is a straight from the heart guide to walk you through all the necessary information for expressing your wishes, or documenting the wishes of a family member for all of life’s eventualities.

I always invite families to talk early and talk often about their wishes.  It’s never an easy subject, but the benefits of having the answers will serve you well in fragile times ahead.

Just remember that the most important thing you can do during an end of life vigil is just be there.  Be present, be aware and be an open conduit to support your loved one’s journey.  Much of caregiving is about action.  Holding vigil is less about doing and much more about being.

Quiet music that was their favorite in their younger years, soft lighting, subtle aromas of essential oils, reading passages from Scripture or their favorite book, a light massage, a cool cloth to the lips; these are all simple acts that set the tone for peaceful energy in the vigil space.  Just remember to be aware of intuitive nudges.  I clearly felt led to change the music in my Dad’s room from Hymns, to string music and finally felt clearly that it was no longer the time for any music.  Allow your loved one the freedom to choose their moment of passing.  Many times, they will wait from someone to leave the room because they want to spare them.  Sometimes a person clearly is waiting to see a loved one for the last time.  Much of these last days is just about going with the flow.

Allow yourself to drift in the river of the passage.  Don’t fight the current for your sake, or for your loved one’s sake.  This is as precious as birth and as unpredictable.  It will unfold, just as it is meant to be.

For more information visit TheVisionaryPassage.com  

Amazon: “I Want You to Know” at: http://amzn.to/2g0ygez

Thank you for being my guest today Leslie and for sharing from the heart. You've made a lasting impression. Thank you for creating your book!


Sending best wishes for the week ahead. Thank you to Leslie for sharing from her heart, advising us on one of the most important, precious moments in our life - the end of life decisions. Embrace them. That's the heartbeat that keeps us going, loving the ones we care most about. 

All in the name of love,



Copyright March 2017

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Dr. John Stanko ~ Special Guest

Hugs by Jan Steinle


Introduing Special Guest Blogger ~Dr. John Stanko 
Pastor, Counselor, Author, Missionary, Publisher & Creator of PurposeQuest.com

Afraid: Who? Me?

It is an honor to be a guest blogger for my good friend and fellow author, Carole Brecht. I have watched with great pride and joy as Carole has embraced her creative calling, a work that emerged out of the painful but rewarding experience of being a Caregiver for her beloved Mother. 

Carole did not tell me what to write; she just asked me if I would be a special guest blogger, and I was only too glad to comply. Carole has enriched our lives and made important contributions not only to the art of Caregiving, but also to the art of writing, blogging, and artistry, specifically her genre of choice, Zentangle. All those expressions did not just happen; they took dedication and the ability to deal with fear, for fear is the great enemy of creativity — and just about anything else you and I will attempt to do in life.

The challenge with fear is that it never shows up as fear like we see in the movies. Our fears do not appear in some grotesque shape or form, chanting and making sounds like, “Mwa, haha, haha! I am fear!” No, instead our fears show up and sound quite rationale. They say things like, “I don’t have time to write, or paint, or blog, or take care of grandma.”  In fact, you may have said that just this morning or yesterday when you groped for some excuse that would ease your guilt that you were not doing what has been in your heart to do for quite some time.

Truth be told, you have all the time in the world: 24 hours every day. You may not have as much money as Bill Gates, but you have as much time as he does. Time is the great equalizer among people, so it is not quite true that you don’t have enough time. A more accurate statement is that you are afraid you don’t have enough time. What are you afraid of? You are afraid you don’t have time to do it right, or the way you want it done, or the way that will keep people from laughing, mocking, or dismissing you as a creative lightweight. 

You are afraid that you will waste the time you have on a stupid expression that is not nearly as good as Hemingway, Monet, or Martha Stewart could produce.You are afraid that somehow you will leave something out, or will put too much in, or reveal too much, or too little, or that Aunt Millie will be offended when you tell the story of how she walked through the screen door when it was closed because she thought it was open. 

I have watched Carole and others like her twist like flags in the wind when they stood face-to-face with their creativity, which means they stood face-to-face with their fears. Carole and her fellow creators have had to face the fear that “I can’t do this regularly; it’s not good enough; the blue is not blue enough; the red is not red enough; the story is not long enough,” and on and on and on. The difference between Carole along with her creative cohort, and those who only talk about creativity, is that she and they stared down their fears and did something with their creativity, even when it wasn’t convenient or perfect. We would have to say the world is a better place because she and they did. If that’s true (and it is), then the world is less of a better place if you have not expressed the creativity that is in your heart to display.

I would argue that if you are involved in any kind of Caregiving role at this time, you need to find time to be creative in order to keep your mental equilibrium. Let me restate that: You need to have a creative outlet to stay sane! Even if it is 15 minutes every other day, you need to create. You will need to face your fears to do so, for the creative excuses will flow if you don’t: “I’m too tired; I have nothing to give; what’s the use — no one will notice anyway.” It’s remarkable how often we siphon off the best of our creative energy to creating and making excuses of why this is not the right time to create.

So thank you, Carole, for setting such a good example, and thank you, dear reader, for brightening your world, and thus our world and consequently my world, with your love and creative care for those around you. Now, I urge you to be a Caregiver for and to yourself as you face your fears, and produce something wonderful not in five years, not next year, not next month, not tomorrow, but today. I know you will not only be glad, but also relieved that you did.

In Africa with the local children.

Owner of Urban Press, a Publishing Company. Dr. John has authored over 20 books!

To reach out and follow Dr. John:

office 412.646.2780

Thank you Dr. John for being my guest blogger today ~ it's been great getting to know you! You continue to inspire me daily as you live your purpose-filled life, helping people around the globe!

- Dr John and I met approximately 4 years ago. I scheduled a visit with him when he was employed by Allegheny Center Alliance Church. I needed some help during my Caregiver journey with Mom to adjust to major changes with her memory impairment due to Alzheimer's disease. I was not doing well that day and was pretty teary-eyed during most of our visit. I gave him a run-down of what was happening in my life and how distraught I was at the time. As I was sharing with him, I mentioned I was an Artist by trade. He stopped me in my tracks when he asked: "When is the last time you created something in the art world?" and I said: "It's been so long, maybe decades ago, I can't remember." He told me to go home and create some art and then come back and talk to him. I left there feeling calmer, I know that for sure. 

He planted a seed in my mind to do something artistic. At the time, I didn't really 'get' his advice, but low and behold, it wasn't much later that Zentangle showed up in my life and I immediately fell in love with that art form and have since become a prolific Zentangle Artist. I was also in Dr. John's classroom on and off in 2014. At the end of that experience, I got the idea for my book and the rest is history! 

Dr. John is a very special friend to me. Since we met, he's had a strong, positive influence in my life. He's the Publisher and Editor for the first edition of my Kindle book in April 2016: The Artistry of Caregiving. I learned so much from him, always do. I want to get back to his classroom because the energy and positive vibe is so great. He's a wise, wonderful teacher, person and friend. Logon to: purposequest.com to learn more about him, his mission and how you can donate to his cause. If you're struggling to figure out what your purpose-driven life is, there's a free assessment on the homepage that will help you narrow it down. 

Best Wishes,

Check out my book: The Artistry of Caregiving: Letters To Inspire Your Caregiver Journey on Amazon in Paperback & Kindle - A book to read on the go, your daily companio
n, letting you know your understood and not alone~

A recent review on my book page on Amazon from April Koontz:

“Heartfelt, inspiring and amazingly creative. This book is an intimate and poignant work of art that speaks directly to the different attributes of a person who has stepped into the privileged yet painful role of Caregiver. Thanks Carole, for welcoming me into your sacred Caregiving journey. I’m in awe of your artistic genius and the joy she’s bringing to so many others who are facing the often lonely, scary and demanding job of primary Caregiver. Thanks also for the introduction to Zentangle Inspired Art. It’s like meeting a new friend. Well done!”


Stay tuned: Elizabeth Miller, creator of Happy Healthy Caregiver social media platform and website, and I are partnering, creating a new launch for Caregivers. Something lively and fun! We'll be making an announcement very soon on social media for the launch date. :-)

Want to feel connected and inspired, logon to:

Twitter: bit.ly/SanGenTW

Instagram: bit.ly/SanGenIN

TangledArtBoutique.com - Sign up here to stay connected

You can find all the links on www.SanGenWoman.com

Copyright 2017

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

~Color Your World~

Hidden Treasure
by Jan Steinle

"Sometimes what we need or looking for is partially hidden from view...peek 'around the edges' or dig a little deeper, and we may be surprised at what we find."


When you walk through my home, you will see my walls covered with art. Some of it I created from years gone by and some of it's current. Some of it is by other artists and some of it my Mom created. I also have Zentangles all over my kitchen that my sister Jan and I created over the last couple years. Keeping a fresh bouquet of colorful flowers year 'round in my dining room keeps it lively and brings something natural into the mix.

Our visual world is so important. Whether in your office or at home, a space with framed art, photographs or any variation of mixed media makes for a stimulating environment.

We don't think in words, we think in pictures/color. 

Take a look around and decide if you're pleased with your decor. Do the colors make you feel alive? Are the walls bare or are they beaming with images you love? 


The top 5 reasons why color is important in daily life:

-We think in pictures, not words
-Color generates feelings and emotions
-Looking at an image you love is a good way to stay focused
-Having color in your space connects you to the room
-Being surrounded by colorful decor and images makes us feel alive


After you assess your living space, review the list of why color is important to determine if your room reflects the 5 reasons. If you're limited in color or feel like you don't have the flare it takes to do some decorating or reinvention in your space, ask a friend to go shopping to see what you're drawn to. If you like your decor but would like a change, research online to generate ideas. If you're in a great place in your space, then you'll understand why I've devoted a blog to this topic. Maybe you'll consider the possibilities...

~Color Your World~ and be amazed by the impact to your well-being. Decor and art that include color (neutrals don't count) are a mood/game changer. 

One other thought on color for today - take a look in your closet. What colors are you drawn to in your wardrobe? Do you pick out the same shirts, pants, dresses or skirts because you love the color? That's a good exercise to see how color makes you think & feel, and how powerful color is and what colors you like best if you don't know already. 

Taking time out for you is all about self-care. What do you think and how do you feel when you look at the color in your life. Colorizing your world is one way to implement self-care. Embrace the process and enjoy! :)

Best Wishes, 


Pick up your copy of The Artistry of Caregiving on Amazon in Paperback or Kindle (free Kindle app on my book page). A book of inspirational letters, letting you know you're understood and not alone. If you're too tired to read or focus, the Caregiver Zentangle Art will affirm and support you too. Not meant to be read in any particular order, you're daily companion, as you navigate the emotional journey. Check out the reviews on my book page to learn more:


Not sure where to shop for some cool wall art, check out TangledArtBoutique.com for some ideas. There's a variety of home apparel to chose from. Jan and I created all of the tangles in the store. There are approximately 200 Zentangles to chose from!


Want to feel connected and inspired, logon to:

Twitter: bit.ly/SanGenTW


You can find all the links on www.SanGenWoman.com

Copyright 2017