Unwrap Me Like A Fortune Cookie

November 12th, 2014

You know the feeling of unwrapping a fortune cookie?  That feeling that anything is possible and delightful surprises lie inside? That’s what we want your friends and family to feel when they open a holiday gift from you.

So take a look at our online cards for your holiday messaging and head on over to our Etsy shop for fine art prints.  And keep an eye on us on Twitter as we curate collections for gift ideas! Click on the Etsy storefront to browse our shop.

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Meditation: Balmorhea and Minimum Monument

May 13th, 2014

As someone put forth in the comment section of a Balmorhea video I looked at recently, “I wish Balmorhea music could follow me around in a truck and soundtrack my life.” Well said. They’ve been a favorite band of mine for meditation and general navel gazing for a while now, so when I came across this video of Balmorhea’s ‘The Winter’ paired with one of my favorite art installations, Néle Azevedo’s Minimum Monument project, I was in heaven. Literally.

The backstory on the project can be found on her site, but this particular installation was in Berlin in 2009, consists of ice sculptures, and was in conjunction with the World Wildlife Federation. It was timed to coincide with the United Nations Climate Change Conference. Which seems rather timely given the news recently about global warming…but that aside, I don’t view this video as political at all, simply a message about life’s impermanence and our place in it.

For more information on Balmorhea, you can find it here. 

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Artist Q & A with Martin Heavner

April 29th, 2014
©Martin Heavner

©Martin Heavner

Martin has been one of HarmonyWishes’ favorite guest artists since his initial introduction to our site in 2008. We’re delighted to learn a bit more about him through our Artist Q & A.

1. Your images range in theme from landscapes to architecture to industrial – many photographers tend to specialize in a specific theme. What inspires the type of image you are going to make?

My work tends to have two main themes: nature and what I call “machine-scapes”, which often include architectural elements. Overall, I’m attracted to light, tones, textures and lines more than any specific subject matter. There’s also an element of worship in my photography. I believe God wants us to see and enjoy the beauty of His creation, including what He inspired man to design and build.

©Martin Heavner

©Martin Heavner

 2. Some of our favorites are the images that focus on past technology (old railroad, silk mill, etc) which provides a romantic view of our industrial past. Is this an area you are interested in exploring as a larger theme? And if so, what is it that fascinates you about it?

I grew up in a small town – Cumberland, Maryland – that experienced its most prosperous period when the railroad and glass, tire, and textile factories were the dominant local employers. My father, my wife’s father, and just about all my relatives worked in factories or for the railroad most of their lives.


©Martin Heavner

©Martin Heavner

Now those factories have all closed, but the railroad is still important to the town, including as a tourist attraction. So the industrial foundation of my youth, even with much of that foundation now in decay, still resonates with me and attracts my photographic eye. My image, “Station 126 – Lonaconing Maryland” was taken in an abandoned silk mill near Cumberland. The factory literally locked its doors one night in 1957 and left everything…the machines, supplies, employee time cards, calendars on the wall…frozen in time. For me, it’s a haunting place — not romantic, but visceral — because I understand how hard the employees worked and what a devastating blow they felt when the factory closed.

3. Do you generally seek out specific images or are they ‘found’ along the way?

I go where the light and my mood take me, so most of my images are discovered, rather than planned in advance. I admire photographers who plan their photos to the Nth degree, but that’s not me; I’m more spontaneous and some would say more lazy! Although I appreciate the Ansel Adams’ approach to pre-visualizing your image, I’m wired more like my favorite photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson, who was prepared for anything but reacted to the moment as it presented itself.


To find out more about Martin and his work, you can visit his website here and experience his work through a HarmonyWishes e-card here!

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People I’d Like To Hang Out With – Maysoon Zayid

March 14th, 2014

Have you ever thought about having a party and picking 25 people to invite, just ‘because’? The ‘because’ can be a number of reasons – sense of humor, easy to be around, special talent, similar interests – whatever the reason, if you really took your time and assembled your group over the course of 6 or more months, what would it look like? And it can’t be anyone you personally know. That’s what I’d like to explore in this series called People I’d Like To Hang Out With. When I’ve reached 25, I’ll put a virtual party together on this blog just to see who would be invited.

First guest, Maysoon Zayid. I came across her on TED and this is a chick to hang with. Love her sense of humor and gift of perspective. If you take a few minutes to watch her talk, you’ll understand why.

She’s definitely got a place at the table!

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HarmonyWishes Collection of Fabric, Wallpaper & Gift Wrap Now Available !

December 30th, 2013

We are excited to announce that the HarmonyWishes brand has expanded to textiles and paper goods! Here’s a preview of our store. We’ve opened with 12 designs and will soon be adding more. It’s a great way to personalize your home, office, wardrobe and gift giving with unique designs only found here! Fabrics are available by the yard or fat quarter for those of you who like to quilt. There are 13 types of fabric to choose from, so you’ll be sure to find just the right look for clothing, curtains, pillows, baby blankets, placemats, napkins or whatever you wish to create. Gift wrap is available in satin or matte. And wallpaper is available in a standard roll of 24″ x 144″.

Be your own unique self and start the New Year out with a design by HarmonyWishes!


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The Conviction and Charisma of Carlos Santana

December 29th, 2013

I recently saw a PBS interview with one of my favorite musicians, Carlos Santana, which I particularly loved as he expressed the soul behind the music.  He explained his two driving factors – Conviction, which he got from his mother, and Charisma, which he got from his father, also a musician.

Having seen him perform live here in Arizona several years ago, much of the interview resonated with me as I was fortunate enough to have seen how it translates to his performance.  I particularly love his reference to music as ‘a state of joy that can’t be bought’. Traveling around the world I see how true this is in every culture.

His comments around real musicians remind people of the forgotten song within them I find so true.   Here’s one of the many that speaks to me…. You are My Kind with Seal.

Which one of his songs reminds you of the forgotten song in you?



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Sound and Step, the beautiful difference

November 11th, 2013

I live in Mexico and spend most the day speaking in Spanish, as you might imagine.  And perhaps for living here for the last several years, I find the Mexican accent easy to understand.  It’s what I would call straightforward–what you read on the page, you pronounce phonetically. (No judgement on non-phonetic languages, this is more of a comment on my Spanish ability.) However, when I meet a Spanish speaker from outside Mexico, I’m amazed at the difference in pronunciation, and my embarrassingly slow adaption to the change. Suddenly, a new Dominican acquaintance is dropping Ss at the ends of words.  Or a Chilean friend pronounces her Js like Chs.  The language distinction that I find the most challenging between different regions is speed. The Spaniards, oh dear, they talk so fast. Have you ever stopped to listen to a conversation happening in another language?  Maybe you overhear some Chinese on the train, or a bit of Polish at the grocery store?  Does it ever sound like those you are overhearing seem to speak much faster?

I wasn’t sure if my perception was based in reality, until I saw this intriguing infographic on a recent study of the speed of language. Check it out!

The Speed of Language

Inforgraphic by sofyay.  This graphic was originally posted on Visually.
I like imagining that the “more dense” languages are literally heavy-on-the-tongue, slowing down the speaker. While the less dense languages are light-as-air, and whip right our of the mouth with great speed.
If this cultural distinction in language speed is interesting to you, you might also dig this podcast from the incredible producers at RadioLab (my hands-down favorite radio show on the planet). Similar to the study of language speed, they informally measured  the walking speed of people in various cities with the help of radio producers the world over. The results are interesting–but the step-by-step story (Ooo, what a pun!) is lovely to hear. If you like it, check out more Radiolab episodes here.
It’s fascinating to consider that not only do we find ourselves with different cultural practices, values and history from our fellow humans around the globe–but that even our pace, our rhythm of speech, the pulse engrained in our genetic make-up can be so distinct.  What a beautiful distinction! I think it makes it all the more vital that we consider that distinction as we act on the global stage–understanding with compassion and intelligence the varying rhythms of the world. Honoring them, valuing them–rather than frustrating ourselves by the friction.
Something to ponder…



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A series on gratitude, part 1

October 28th, 2013

Some interesting studies on the effects of gratitude have been circulating the web.  In one, according to Harvard Health Publications from Harvard Medical School, “Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they asked all participants to write a few sentences each week, focusing on particular topics.”  What happened?  Well, those who focused their journaling on things for which they were grateful reported that they felt more optimistic, happier and interestingly, exercised more and found they has less need to visit their doctors–in contrast to those who focused their journaling on irritations and complaints.  Read more here.

So, is there a season of gratitude?  For those of us who live in Canada or the United States, perhaps we associate gratitude with our civic holidays of Thanksgiving in Fall.  Certainly, many religious traditions celebrate days or even months of rejoicing and thanks throughout the calendar year.  So perhaps there isn’t an official season for gratitude. However, in honor of the findings of Dr. Emmons and Dr. McCullough, I’d like to initiate one here with our community, if you’ll indulge me. Let’s create a space for gratitude in our lives.  Right now.  I’ll inspire you with a great experiment set up by Soul Pancake.  Take a look:

So, how about we kick off this first post, in a series on gratitude, with throwing a shout out to someone who has changed your life.  I’ll start!

I want to throw a shout out to my senior year high school English teacher, Mr. Mullaley.  Cloistered in his tiny cubicle in the English Department, asking him to sign my year book, he asked, “Megan, have you ever considered studying English? You’d be good at it.”  I sloughed it off then. English?  What for?

It’s years later, with an English degree under my belt, and I can’t say enough how the practices I learned in my major and in Mr. Mullaley’s class–critical thinking, analysis, the study of history through the lens of literature–has shaped how I understand and act in the world. Thank you, Mr. Mullaley. You inspired me and helped point me on a trajectory that has gotten me where I am today. I am so grateful.

I’d like to nudge my HarmonyWishes cohorts to post on Facebook their Shout Outs.  And then we throw it to you, community.  Don’t be shy!  Let us hear your notes of gratitude on our Facebook page, or Twitter (@harmonywishes).  The flow of appreciation and good will will fill our pages with energy!

Un abrazo,


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What Does Peace Look Like?

October 6th, 2013
There is peace in the land and it begins with me.

There is peace in the land and it begins with me.

My meditation lately has been the question, what does peace look like? What naturally comes to mind first are the clichés – the actual peace sign…the beautiful, restful image of nature that puts our mind at ease…or the more graphic symbols of street art.

But, what actually does it LOOK like? Often times it’s the lack of something that defines it. In many places around the world it becomes the absence of violence, hate speech, persecution and bigotry. When the void is created, peace can result.

I happened across a non-profit website this week based in Toronto, Canada, called The Sentinel Project for Genocide Prevention. What sets this organization apart is that rather than reacting to genocide (clearly needed as well), their mission is to use technology and research to prevent it. Which, when you think about it, is so simple, but yet we as a global community have been trained to respond rather than predict.

They make several basic points which I believe make sense and are available through research:
• When you identify potential situations where genocide becomes a likely outcome, and raise awareness about it through various media and methods, it can have the effect of making regimes think twice about engaging in such practices knowing the world is watching. Again, it’s a matter of raising the profile BEFORE it happens rather than after it’s started. Internal and foreign pressure can have a chance when the problem is identified early in the process.
• If you can identify and counter websites that incite hatred you may have the opportunity to intervene through social media to hinder the escalation that radicalizes people against another group.

What’s also interesting about their approach is their use of technology in this genocide prevention initiative which involve:
• Information Gathering – through social media like FB and Twitter, it’s become easier to monitor situations prior to calamity. Another information gathering technique is crowdsourcing through mobile phones which can map situations based on text messaging by average citizens.
• Information Management, Visualization and Dissemination – where the data bases they are building will organize and analyze information which can be presented to the public, policymakers, and other orgs where it can help mobilize a response.
• Prevention – where using mobile phones networks to document abuses and warn threatened communities, and employing GPS technology to guide targeted people to safe areas can save lives.

Sound idealistic? Perhaps. But there is nothing worse than standing by and watching helplessly as innocent people get slaughtered merely because they represent a tradition or religion which doesn’t happen to coincide with their neighbors. Absence of persecution? I believe that’s what peace looks like.

For more information on The Sentinel Project, click here. And visit their Wiki for another look at them here.



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Mother Falcon ~ New, Fresh Sound

August 17th, 2013
amir Kalifa, Claire Puckett, Yun Du, Kira Bordelon, Clara Brill, Isaac Winburne, Matt Puckett, Nick Calvin, Nick Gregg, Maurice Chammah, Matt Krolick, Maurice Chammah, Diana Burgess, Laura Andrade, Rita Andrade, Matt Krolick not pictured: Andrew Fontenot, Austin Harris, Gilman Lykken, Josh Newburger, Luke Stence photo by Bryan Rindfuss

Tamir Kalifa, Claire Puckett, Yun Du, Kira Bordelon, Clara Brill, Isaac Winburne, Matt Puckett, Nick Calvin, Nick Gregg, Maurice Chammah, Matt Krolick, Maurice Chammah, Diana Burgess, Laura Andrade, Rita Andrade, Matt Krolick
not pictured: Andrew Fontenot, Austin Harris, Gilman Lykken, Josh Newburger, Luke Stence
photo by Bryan Rindfuss

One of the many reasons I love NPR is the indie and unusual music they feature.  This week’s find is Mother Falcon.  Where to start…something in their music speaks to me on a variety of levels.  It has the rich fullness of an orchestral sound but fuses so many different feelings together that it’s hard to describe.  As I listen to it while I write this post, I hear the drama of the score to the movie, The Mission, by Ennio Morricone.  I hear the whimsical quality of the score to my favorite movie, Amelie.  I hear the art rock of Mythos. And the new age sound of ERA and Enigma.  So, if I hear all these sounds fused into one group plus their own tempo of You Knew, their new album, they’ve got to be something special – you can’t put them in a single category.

Mother Falcon is an Austin based group of between 15 and 20 rotating musicians who are classically trained and have collaborated to produce a sound all their own.

They raised nearly $25,000 on Indiegogo to fund a summer tour and have spent time in NYC and LA and are working their way up the West Coast to Portland and Seattle before they head back home.  There is a documentary on KLRU.org about them ~ their origins and evolution.  Click here for the backstory.


In the meantime, I encourage you to treat yourself to a three song mini-concert produced by NPR:

Here’s their website  with links to listen and to download their music at ITunes.

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