Iris van Ooyen embodies “Radiant”

Going from surviving to thriving

By author Iris van Ooyen

Writing Radiant: How to Have All the Energy You Need to Live a Life You Love was something that had been in the back of my mind for a while. During the pandemic I realized the insights I had acquired over the years were much needed now—not later.

I’ve always been passionate about supporting people in having more energy and loving their life. That’s what I’ve assisted clients with for many years. 

I believe life is meant to be enjoyed. We’re here to thrive—not just get by and survive, though that’s what many people are doing for a variety of reasons.

One of those reasons is lack of energy. Another important one is lack of clarity on what you truly want and what makes your heart sing. Plus many of us have lost touch with our body and our intuition. 

That’s what happened to me when I was burnt out at the age of twenty-four. 

I was a perfectionist who took on too much responsibility because I cared so much — about my demanding marketing job, my family and how other people felt in general.

I wanted everything to work out for everyone. In fact, I was so busy taking care of everybody else, I forgot to take care of myself. Instead of sitting down to relax I cleaned the house, visited my recently widowed mother-in-law and tried to be the perfect girlfriend.

I had to take naps in the afternoon to be able to stay awake for dinner. A couple of years later I finally ended up at a naturopath who told me “You have energy for four hours per day and you do the rest on willpower.”—

Part of me was proud for sticking it out on pure will, until he finished his sentence.

—“and it is damaging your organs.’’

That was a huge wake-up call for me. I realized that even several years after my burnout I hadn’t really made the changes that were needed for me to be happy and fully alive. To thrive. 

I had been going on this treadmill of things that were expected of me and that I expected of myself. I had these dreams that when I stopped and looked at them, I realized weren’t bringing me the joy and fulfillment I had thought they would bring me. 

To the outside world I had it made. The corporate job, the brand-new house, the handsome husband. I had everything I thought I had ever wanted. And I realized none of that mattered when I wasn’t happy. When I didn’t have the energy to do what I desired, let alone enjoy life.

First, I needed to get healthy again. I had to find ways to have more energy—and I did. When I had more energy, I started looking at what I truly wanted and who I was below all the layers that I had adopted over time. As a result, I started my own business. 

I discovered I am highly sensitive and highly intuitive. Many things fell into place from those two revelations. I understood more about myself, and past decisions now made more sense. With this new perspective I realized that what I had always seen as a weakness turned out to be a result of being overstimulated. There was nothing wrong with me—I simply hadn’t learned how to support a highly sensitive person. 

This ignorance had caused many problems that could have been avoided if only I had known that I was a sensitive soul! 

That’s one of the reasons I created my free Sensitivity Quiz. Because life makes so much more sense when you know who you are and what you need. Not because you’re being difficult (because that’s what a lot of sensitive people are being told) but because your brain works in a different way!

A highly sensitive person holds on to much more detail, therefore they reach the limit of the amount of information they can absorb faster than those who are not highly sensitive. 

It was a relief to realize I wasn’t fragile or exaggerating, my brain was simply wired differently!

I want people to not have to go through the struggle and learning I went through. That’s why I mentor people and created online programs on managing your energy, embracing your sensitivity, and learning to listen to your intuition. With Radiant I’ve made the insights even more readily available for a larger crowd, in the hopes it will help people steer clear from burnout. 

My book is not just for sensitive souls—though if you are highly sensitive, you’ll probably have an even bigger need for the tools in this book.

If you fear you are nearing a burnout or simply don’t have the amount of energy and enthusiasm for life that you would like to have, then I highly recommend reading Radiant

I share many very personal experiences because I feel it helps to see the challenges others go through and understand why the tools I developed made a difference for me. With social media we can get the impression that everyone else lives a perfect life and has it all figured out while we struggle. And I wanted to show an honest story of my trials, tribulations and victories so the reader has something to relate to. It’s important not to feel alone on this journey here on earth.

Life’s too short to be miserable or exhausted. I believe that which brings you the most joy is what will bring you the most. That’s what has been guiding my choices for many years. 

And I hope you’ll give yourself permission to pursue that, too!

If you’re curious whether you’re a sensitive soul you can take the free Sensitivity Quiz here or sign up for my email tips & inspiration here

Wishing you much energy and inspiration!

AUTHOR BIO

Iris van Ooyen is the creator of the SWEET POWERTM approach to personal and career development, growth, and self-care. An MBA with a background in corporate marketing, Iris combines her extensive business experience with her renowned razor-sharp intuitive insights in order to support thousands of clients in living fuller, healthier lives. 

In addition to Radiant, Iris wrote her YA Fantasy novel Poisoned Arrow—because it was too much fun not to. Click FOLLOW on her Amazon Author Profile.

Connect with Iris:

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HYPERLINKS:

Sensitivity Quiz

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Amazon Author Profile for Iris

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Bonus:

Elizabeth H. Cottrell’s stellar review of van Ooyen’s book – 

Cottrell’s “Radiant” Book Review

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Filed under Guest Writers & Bloggers, Special Events

Social Security is not that secure

Compiled by Karen R. Sanderson

I worked for close to 50 years – often at minimum wage, sometimes below minimum wage (waitress, bartender). A lot of people I know did the same.

Now, when we are 65, some must depend on SS only to survive. I’m fortunate – I get SS, a small stipend from a previous job, and I have a few “on the side” things going on. But I still struggle.

I reached out to numerous old timers like me last fall/winter and asked them, confidentially, what did they do to make ends meet while on Social Security. What follows is a list of what we are dealing with.

By the way, if I didn’t contact you, it’s because I know you had other income streams.

And yes, some of these comments/concerns are mine, and, no, I won’t tell you which ones.

I would also like to mention that some Republicans have said – out loud – that they want to sunset SS. That means do away with it.


Electric bills have doubled this winter. Most nights, while watching TV, I have no other lights on. I have one nightlight in the bathroom. I unplug all small appliances when not using them, like coffee pot, microwave, lamps.

Home gas prices have doubled. I used to bathe every day. To save on hot water, I went to every two days, then every three or four days. Now, I’m at about every ten days.

Heat is kept around 62. I wear two long sleeved shirts, long underwear and sweatpants, two pairs of socks, and keep a blanket over me when reading or watching t.v. I sometimes wear knitted gloves, too.

Health insurance – best I could find is about $162 a month. I still skip a few of my meds, and I turn down tests from my doctor because I know I’ll have to pay a portion, which I can’t afford.

I have had the same glasses for about six or seven years and have not seen my optometrist because of the cost of that visit.

Dentist visits are more spaced out now because at $90-200 a visit, and I must put those visits on my credit card and then it takes months to pay off.

I went from cheap cuts of red meat and cheap cuts of pork and frozen chicken parts to hot dogs. I restrict grocery shopping to Seniors’ Day (5% off), buying cheap store brands, and only purchase items marked down or on sale. I save and utilize their savings stamp program (similar to the old green stamps).

Going out even for cheap fast food means I have to give up any other type of entertainment for several months. I took take-out Subway to my boy the other day, so I’ll be staying home for the next three months.

I went back to school late in life to get a degree, and when I was ready to get back into the work force, covid had struck. So, I’ve been living in fear of running out of savings vs. getting back into the work force and putting my life at risk.

Applying for any type of additional benefits is so overwhelming, I’ve started and given up at least a handful of times.

I have no voice in my state – all my reps and senators and the governor are all republican and care nothing about their at-risk seniors. We have no voice whatsoever.

People work “under the table” and sell their personal items just to stay afloat.

I’ve gone from several cups of coffee to just 3-4 ounces of coffee each morning to save a few pennies. I’ve gone from fancy coffee to store brand. I can’t even enjoy the coffee anymore (and forget Starbuck’s).

I have a substitute teacher’s license but have not been contacted even though I know remote learning is – in some places – being utilized. That little bit of money would be nice.

My Social Security went up a bit January 1, 2022, but that was quickly eaten up by home heating costs and electric bills.

TV is the only entertainment I have – other than internet – and my combined cable/internet bill is $175 a month.

Travel or a vacation is out of the question (both because of the cost and covid). I haven’t seen my out-of-state brother for about seven years. He offered to buy me a plane ticket, but the extra costs (tips, baggage, rental car) are prohibitive.

Travel from one city to the next is off my menu. I cannot afford the extra fuel for my vehicle.

I haven’t had a professional hair cut in over two years because of the cost.

I buy no beauty products whatsoever other than soap and toothpaste. I rely on Mother’s Day, my birthday, and Christmas gifts from my daughter-in-law for any extras like hand soap and hand and body cream.

I rinse paper plates, re-use plastic storage bags, and wipe off aluminum foil (much like my parents did during The Depression).

I haven’t bought any clothing – none – in more than four years. That includes new undergarments and socks.

“Treats” at the grocery are purchased only every few months. I treat myself to a pint of ice cream or a bag of chips only occasionally.

I drink tap water and homemade tea. Even off-brand soda is a treat and is purchased only sparingly.

I would love to grow fresh veggies at home, but I don’t have the space (I live in an apartment) nor the local temperatures to support that. You may suggest in-apartment growing – that requires pots and dirt and added nutrients to maintain. During the summer, I depend on the kindness of a local couple who grow extra veggies in their yard and pick up a few tomatoes and cucumbers and squash every couple of weeks.

I have no pets – though I would love the companionship, as I live alone – but I cannot afford that either.

Though I have wide and varied interests and would love to take classes at the local university, I can’t afford it. I join free groups on FB to learn more American Sign Language.

I don’t buy books, not even cheap used books. Our local library has restrictions, and it takes gas to get there. I re-read the books on my shelves and in my Kindle (which was a gift about ten years ago).

I’m 64 years old, and I’m on my son’s family’s cell phone plan, so that cost is minimal. They had to convince me to get a new phone several years ago. It took me two years to pay that off.

I work out at home with weights I got at a yard sale and utilize free YouTube videos. I dance in place for aerobics. I can’t afford a gym membership.

I have one set of sheets. New sheets or pillows are out of the question.

I am considering selling my personal artwork, and I mean the stuff I painted myself.

I cannot contribute to any campaign, charity, or special go-fund-me (even for people I know and trust). It breaks my heart.

Concerts? No way. State Fair? Fuhgeddaboudit. Movie theatre? Nope. Bowling? Nix. Even if I had the extra income, my state is run without mask mandates so nothing fun is safe.

I have no online pay-for news sources. I rely on free news sources via my paid-for cable and internet.

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The Making of a Serial Note Writer

by Elizabeth H. Cottrell

I am so grateful to Karen for inviting me to be a guest on her blog. She is friend, encourager, editor, brainstormer, and occasional rear-end kicker, and my life is richer for her being in it.

I confess I have a morbid curiosity for what makes serial killers tick. What were they like as children? When did the seeds of their obsession begin? Who is responsible for it? 

When someone asks me, “Your book is called WHAT?” I can sense a similar curiosity for how on earth I chose this, of all things, to write about: HEARTSPOKEN: How to Write Notes that Connect, Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire. 

So, I began to wonder myself how far back those seeds of passion for note writing began, and here’s the behind-the-scenes story:

I’m sure it began with my love for getting letters in the mail when I was a girl living in rural isolation on our family’s cattle farm in Virginia in the 1950s. The combination of distance and my mother’s time spent caring for my four younger siblings made it challenging to get friends over very often, and the three younger brothers next to me in age didn’t quite fill my definition of appropriate playmates. Thankfully, my grandparents were letter writers, and to this day, decades later, I still have a stash of their letters carefully stored in my desk. One of my favorite jobs was to walk—or ride my bike—to the end of our long driveway each day and check the mailbox in hopes of finding mail.

The next signs of this peculiar passion showed up in the crook of a Mimosa tree (which we called “the powder puff tree”) in the side yard of our country home when I was probably between eight and ten years old. The next best thing to a treehouse was the large side limb of that tree which angled up at about 30 degrees and then branched again to form a natural seat where I could perch with my feet dangling. I loved climbing up and fancied I was invisible there, hiding in a secret place. When I was able to have friends over, we rigged up a basket on a rope to haul secret messages up and down from that seat. At some point, I decided I wanted to put stamps on the messages like real mail. I created perforated squares by laying a piece of paper over an old window screen and used a pencil to draw the edges of stamp-sized squares and rectangles.  We used tape or white glue to attach them to our top-secret missives.

Fast forward five decades, and this is how I tell the “conversion story” in my book:

A letter from a stranger was the lightning bolt that changed my appreciation for the potential of personal notes forever; from that day on, I saw them as a force for good in the world.

I’ve always written notes, because that’s what we were taught to do when I was growing up in the 1950s. I learned the skill from my mother and both my grandmothers. They all wrote beautiful notes. It was expected. It was good manners.

But the day I received that letter, I suddenly realized it was so much more.

The letter was from a woman devastated by the loss of her son:

“I truly appreciated the encouraging letter you sent my son’s fiancée after my son took his own life. She shared it with me, and it came during one of the most difficult and testing times of my life. I know I have read your note over 25 times; it was a lifeline which kept my spirits up.”

What on earth had I written that could have meant so much to this woman? Her son’s fiancé was a neighbor of mine and only a casual acquaintance. I only remember, upon hearing the news of this man’s tragic death, that I wanted desperately to reach out to her and let her know she was not alone. To this day, I have no idea what I wrote, but I know it came from my heart and carried a genuine desire to comfort her.

On reading the mother’s anguished missive, I remember experiencing a moment of instant clarity: a note crafted with thoughtfulness and compassion can have impact and create a ripple effect. I’ve been a believer in the power of note writing ever since. 

I never aspired to write an etiquette book or a simple “how-to” book. My book’s goal is to help you find your own voice that I know already exists nestled in your heart. Once you learn to tap into it, you will never again worry about what to say or fear you will say the wrong thing. You will realize you have a free, powerful connection tool that can be used to nourish the most important relationships in your life, both personal and professional.

“Consider the flipping of a light switch. You can’t see the electricity. You may not understand how it works. But when power starts flowing through the open wire, it is nothing short of miraculous. I want to show you how to find and flip that switch in your own note writing. Once you learn how to make your notes heartspoken, they are no longer an obligation—they’re a privilege and a joy.”

So now you know how it all started. 

If you’re at all curious, or you just want to get some of the free tips, tricks, and downloads I send to those on my email list, add your first name and email here: Heartspoken book. There’s no obligation to buy the book and you may unsubscribe at any time.

___________________________

Elizabeth’s circuitous career has taken her from published leprosy researcher to stay-at-home mother, to community activist and leader serving on nonprofit and corporate boards, to ham radio operator, to freelance writer/editor and blogger at Heartspoken.com. Above all, she is a connector and encourager whose expertise and passion for note writing is coming at just the right time to a world made keenly aware by pandemic that we humans are hardwired for connection. Click the FOLLOW button on her amazon profile: Amazon author profile.

Connect with Elizabeth: 

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Let the Fool’s Journey Begin

By Shawn MacKenzie

We are all Fools, starting our journey through life

with a faithful leap into the unknown.

May the wind catch our wings and the Tarot guide us on our way.

When a project reaches its end stage and publication looms like Smaug over the Lonely Mountain of Erebor, jumbles of emotions begin to stir. It’s a regular salmagundi of excitement, relief, joy, topped off with a generous dollop of dread. This describes to a T how I’ve been feeling the past few weeks as the launch date for my Tarot of Dragons gets close enough to touch. And, personally, I can’t wait to do just that.

In anticipation of this—and to appease the butterflies in my stomach—I thought I’d offer a glimpse into Tarot of Dragons’ companion book, Wisdom from the Dragon Realms.

While the bulk of the book focuses on interpretations of the Major and Minor Arcana, it also includes a brief history of the Tarot, a discussion on whether to invert cards or not (I choose ‘not,’ especially when draconic energy is thrown into the mix), and Tarot basics, from first touch to readings, simple and complex. After all, to work with the Tarot is to embark upon the Fool’s Journey; and every traveler can use a few guideposts along the way. Especially if you are new to Dragon Country, the Tarot, or both.

So, today, I want to talk about a few of the earliest guideposts on your way. 

Pleasures of Acquisition

Some people say that Tarot cards take on an added aura when gifted. It’s a nice idea and that’s how I got my first deck, decades ago. And it was certainly special for the giving. But through the years, I have added numerous decks to my collection, some were presents from friends and family, some I gifted to myself. Today there are so many decks available through traditional publishers and Kickstarter projects that I find being my own personal Gift Dragon is the most expedient way to get a deck. Especially if it’s one I am eager to lay my hands on. I find Un-birthdays—or Un-Hatching Days—provide a perfectly ubiquitous excuse for such gifting. So, treat yourself and enjoy.

Care and Feeding of Your Tarot

The Tarot is a tool for bridging our inner and outer worlds. And how should you care for such a tool? With respect, of course. 

I was taught that the best way to keep one’s cards was to wrap them in silk and place them in a special box or pouch. This would safeguard their energy. Now, this was back in the day when Tarot cards came in flimsy little boxes like regular playing cards. They practically cried out for extra protection. Times have changed; now many decks, including Tarot of Dragons, come in sturdy, elegant boxes, perfect for long-term storage. (I still use wooden boxes for my favorite decks. Old habits die hard.) 

Box or pouch, wood or cardboard, velvet or silk, the choice is yours. The important thing is that you treat your cards with the care and deference they deserve. To that end, don’t leave them lying about where your cat can chew on the corners or an oblivious guest watermark them with their cup of tea. 

The Tarot must also be fed. When you bring home your new deck in its pristine, cellophane-wrapped box, it’s a mystical tabula rasa just waiting for your personal imprint. A new deck is hungry to be claimed, and you need to feed it with your energy to make it your own. How you go about this is up to you. Some people do this through repeated use—also the best way to get acquainted with unfamiliar cards. For myself, I will put a new deck under my pillow and sleep on it for a few days, let my dreams seep into them. After all, Dreams and the Tarot both navigate the land of symbols. They speak the same language. Naturally, if I am not sleeping well or having bad dreams…well, that’s like dining on magic mushrooms instead of chanterelles. Not exactly lethal, but the energy can be unreliable.

So, guideposts are erected—initial markers to consider when getting a new Tarot deck, be it your first of your thirtieth, my Tarot of Dragons or your long-awaited kickstarter deck. To help you on your Fool’s Journey. 

Safe travels, my friends.

Author’s bio:

Shawn MacKENZIE (Southern Vermont) is a life-long student of the strange and mysterious—myths, arts, religions, sciences, the occult—as well as all creatures, seen and unseen, real, cryptic, great, and small. In addition to Tarot of Dragons, she’s the author of The Dragon Keeper’s Handbook (OP), Dragons for BeginnersLlewellyn’s Little Book of Dragons, as well as numerous essays and fictions. Minnesotan by birth, she now lives in the shadow of the Green Mountains with nine cats, two rats, and an Amazon parrot. They are a constant inspiration. Working with the Tarot has been an integral part of her life for more than forty years. 

The Tarot of Dragons will hit bookstores in June and is currently available to preorder from LlewellynAmazon,Barnes & Noble, and bookstores and occult stores, large and small, everywhere.

Note: Since penning this, I was surprised by the arrival of my advance author’s copies of TofD. Reality strikes and it is as beautiful as I could have imagined. Thank you, Firat and everyone at Llewellyn.

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Filed under Dragons, Guest Writers & Bloggers, Illustrators & Illustrations