Author Archives: Donna Mills

About Donna Mills

Donna earned her certification as a hand analyst from the International Institute of Hand Analysts in January, 2013. She is also a Certified FranklinCovey Coach and a Certified ARTbundance Coach.

Being the Prophet

Being the Prophet

After considering how I can categorize and label my family and friends based on ‘knowing them so well,’ I started thinking about how easy it is for them to do the same with me.

It’s hard to drum up the courage to speak up and share the fact that I am a hand analyst. After all, hand analysis can sound a bit esoteric, and my family is anything but. Somewhere deep down, I’m afraid that my family and friends will reject it (and me).

The fear isn’t unfounded—I grew up with a lot of skepticism when it came to anything outside the strict boundaries of what the family viewed as practical and ‘realistic.’ One of my stepfather’s favorite sayings was, “Better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Amusing, but squelching. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo my desire to conform to the norm was molded in childhood.

Now, decades later, it feels safer to stick with the topics of children, grandchildren, homes, taxes or movies than to share something that could put me in the position of, “Who does she think she is, anyway?” So I have avoided those vulnerable conversations.

Since that’s the case, how can my family and friends do anything but categorize me as the mom, the grandma, the wife, the organizer? When have I ever given them the chance to see other aspects of who I really am?

At our next family event, will I be courageous and vulnerable, taking the chance to share something specific about what I do with someone who might be open to hearing it? Taking this chance is a particular challenge for me, because it brings me into a direct confrontation with the Life School aspect of my Soul Psychology—my Life School of Wisdom (after all, I don’t want to look like a fool) and my Life School of Love (I don’t want to chance generating or experiencing feelings that might prove uncomfortable).

How about you? How open and vulnerable are you with your own family and friends? What are the risks, and what are the rewards? And where do you see your own Soul Psychology challenged in the process?


Prophets in Our Midst

Prophets in Our Midst

A couple of weeks ago, a reading at church really caught my ears. “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”

Well, I’m not a prophet, but this sentence speaks volumes to me.

How often do we consign our family members or friends to the boxes we’ve placed them in over the years? We assume that because we have known each other all our lives, we really know each

But do we?

This limited view was brought home to me a number of years ago, with a woman in my small faith community, whom I’d only known in the context of a ‘friend’ relationship. I knew she was a scientist, and sometimes she would mention human relations problems she occasionally encountered in her lab. Those questions, along with sharing child/spouse/friend stories, were the focus of our conversations.

Quite by accident, I learned that she has a global reputation in the field of renal research. She is a real celebrity in the scientific community. To me, she was a friend with ordinary, day-to-day challenges.

It got me to thinking about the perspective we can adopt when it comes to being an expert, a celebrity, or a specialist. Somehow, it seems that only strangers, people we don’t know, can hold the magic. Friends and family members are excluded from the equation—we’ve seen their foibles and consigned them to the roles we expect, or the roles they have adopted in order to ‘fit in.’

How often have I been oblivious to the gifts of the people in my life? It’s so much easier to categorize — “He’s the smart one.” “She’s the artistic one.” “He’s the troublemaker.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard variations on this theme, and spoken them, too.

Every one of us is so much more than that!



That Unrelenting Quest

That Unrelenting Quest

During last month’s trip to England and Ireland, my husband and I visited Stonehenge. Steve and Me - Stonehenge CroppedWhen we arrived at the site, I was disheartened to learn that we could only view this monument from a distance. I had hoped to walk within the circle of stones, looking skyward and immersing myself in the atmosphere created by the mammoth columns silhouetted against the sky.



Despite the barrier, though, there was a deeply spiritual feeling about this place. Faith-filled people thousands of years ago brought these huge monoliths from miles away, honed them with rudimentary tools so they would fit together and remain standing, and arranged them in such a way that they aligned with the sunrise. It was an amazing feat, and thinking about it had a profound impact on me.

Later that afternoon, we visited the cathedral in Salisbury—possibly the oldest cathedral in England. Here was another example of a work that took years to build. Gothic cathedral construction demanded the dedication of generations. A man could work on the building his entire life, and never see the final fruits of all of that labor.

Salisbury Cathedral

    Salisbury Cathedral

When we arrived at this beautiful church, the Evensong service was just beginning. The sound of the choir’s voices rose to the vaulted ceiling in what I can only describe as celestial harmony. Another powerfully moving experience.

Cathedral Interior

It struck me that both of these edifices, Stonehenge and the Salisbury Cathedral, are reflections of our desire to connect with the divine. Five thousand years ago, five hundred years ago, or five minutes ago, we human beings thirst for the internal peace that comes from an understanding of why we are here. And this longing for certainty about our life purpose can be satisfied through the information contained in our own two hands.

Is that not miraculous?

Find a Way

“If one wants to do something he or she will find a way.
 If one does not want to do something he or she will find an excuse.”


Isn’t this a fabulous quotation? It led off an email that an artist colleague forwarded to me today. Sadly, there is no attribution, but the quote certainly resonated.

The quote was followed by a series of beautiful pencil drawings of wild animals. At the end of the email, you learn that these amazing works were created by quadriplegic artist Doug Landis, using a pencil gripped between his teeth.

This is an individual who has certainly found a way.  On his website,, he shares his philosophy along with his art. Following a debilitating accident, rather than dwelling on what he couldn’t do, he decided to explore what he could do.

Even though all of my limbs are in fine working order, it’s embarrassingly easy to fall into the excuse trap. And I’m not alone. When family or friends are struggling, my first impulse is to lend an empathetic ear; we all need support and encouragement at one time or another.Gardening

But here’s the dilemma—when we continue to dig the same holes for ourselves, it’s time to learn more about why we’re doing it. This is the beauty of discovering our Life Lesson. Understanding and recognizing the challenges that pop up as we try to live our Life Purpose can prepare us to find a way, rather than find an excuse.

Mind Mapping with Bubbl

Mind Mapping Magic

A number of years ago, a colleague introduced me to the practice of mind mapping. I created a couple of mind maps using paper and pen, but found that I ran out of space before I ran out of ideas. And the computer-based mind mapping program that she shared with me totally overwhelmed my somewhat  tech-challenged self.

Enter Bubbl! This is a mindmapping program that is colorful, inviting, and easy to use. Here is a screen shot of one of the mind maps I created using this wonderful resource:

Bubbl Map

You can create an account on and generate up to three mind maps for free. Or you can pay a modest monthly fee and generate as many mind maps as your innovative brain can produce. You can share your maps with your contacts of choice. You can allow those contacts to ‘read only,’ or you can give them the ability to collaborate with you by making additions to your map.

This non-linear format can be a great resource for ‘right brainers.’ The tool allows you to take all of those marvelous ideas swirling in your head and capture them in one convenient place. And it’s fun!

Now do you have a favorite organizational tool you'd like to share? 

Final Art Show Lesson

And a Final Art Show Lesson

The arts and crafts show my husband and I coordinated gave us the chance to talk with a lot of people about our art. I like to joke that my work would be appropriate to hang in someone’s home, while Steve’s work is thought-provoking and conversation-generating. He says I’m a realist and he’s a surrealist.

One thing I noticed, though, is that sharing art in any form brings people together. The conversations and connections created as people strolled from exhibit to exhibit, voicing appreciation as the artists enthusiastically talked about their work, was a great community builder.

On a personal note, a man I generally find challenging to deal with stopped by to view my paintings, and he shared some of his own backround as a watercolorist. When he said he doesn’t paint in oil because he can’t deal with the fumes from the turpenoid, I told him about a product that works as well as turpenoid, but is completely odorless. He expressed appreciation for the recommendation, complimented me on my work, and moved on.

Some of the barriers between us were broken down as a result of that brief conversation. Perhaps next time we meet, we will be able to relate in a more positive way. An unexpected gift of art!

More Lessons from the Art Show

More Art Show Lessons

Before the actual day of the event, I was experiencing a great deal of angst about the success of the art show. What about those two tables I’d reserved for the school children, only to learn the day before that their artwork had never been collected? What if more participants bailed? Why hadn’t I contacted that great photographer specializing in social justice issues earlier, so he could have participated?

The feeling was familiar—it was akin to the experience of giving a party and having lots of people call at the last minute to say they wouldn’t be able to come after all. How would the guests who did come feel? Would they enjoy themselves as much as they would have if everyone had attended? Would we all end up feeling embarrassed?

Basically, in both of these instances, I was putting myself in the impossible position of trying to control the uncontrollable. I realized that there was no way I could direct the feelings of the participants or dictate the size of the turnout.

What a revelation! I was not responsible for others’ responses! This awareness finally allowed me to let those ridiculous expectations go, actually be present, and enjoy the event. And those who attended took pleasure in the experience and thanked us for coordinating it.

How about you? How often do you create your own crisis by trying to control the uncontrollable?

Art Show Lessons

Lessons from the Art Show

Recently, my husband and I coordinated an arts and crafts fair for our church. This wasn’t a fundraiser or a sale, it was just an opportunity for our community members to share their talents. We had artwork, jewelry, poetry, crochet and needlework, flower arrangements, plants—all sorts of wonderful creations by people we knew as insurance salesmen or high school teachers. I exhibited some of my paintings, too.

One of our church friends is a fine photographer, and I was hoping he would be willing to share his work. But when I asked him, he ducked his head, waved his hand, and said, “No, no, no…” He is a shy person, and somehow it seemed to embarrass him to put his own talent on display.Bird of Paraadise

While I am not shy about showing my paintings (the bird of paradise here is one of them), this experience made me think about how shy I am about discussing my hand analysis business. I hide behind a website, or wait until a friend actually asks me about what I do before mustering the courage to talk about it.

What a lesson for me! If I am not willing to share this transformative gift with others, how will they ever have the chance to see it, learn about it, and improve their lives through it? My keeping quiet is equivalent to my photographer friend keeping his photo library locked in his closed computer—others will never be able to experience the gifts we have to offer.

A Reminder

A Reminder

Last week, my husband and I attended a fundraising event sponsored by the American Red Cross. Wine, cheese, chocolates, harp music, and a silent auction. The venue was a large outdoor courtyard atop a hill overlooking the Los Angeles basin.Sunset Over the San Gabriel Mountains

It was a perfect summer evening—clear skies, mild temperatures, and a soft breeze. LA can be hot and gritty and crowded and unpleasant, but when it’s beautiful, it’s really beautiful. As I looked out over the courtyard wall, watching the sunset over the mountains, I thought about the contrast between the peace and beauty we were experiencing and the plight of those the Red Cross serves.

Here we are, living in our own home, with food, running water, air conditioning, and a toilet that flushes. There are no soldiers on our street corners, no bomb craters on our sidewalks, and I don’t stand in line behind hundreds of people waiting for a drink of water that won’t make me ill. And we know where our children are and how to reach them.

I’m going to try to remember these things the next time I’m stuck in standstill traffic, or cycling through an endless electronic menu that ends with a click and a dial tone just when a human voice comes on the line. It’s amazingly easy to get myopically enmeshed in my own (truly petty) frustrations.

Considering other people’s life-scale challenges doesn’t render my feelings insignificant, but it certainly does provide a spot of perspective. And it’s a reminder to have tremendous and conscious gratitude for this life of mine—a life that’s been filled with blessings.

Welcome to Treasures Washed Up on the Shore!

Welcome to Treasures Washed Up on the Shore!

I honestly can’t promise that every word that floats through this blog will prove a treasure. But it will be lovely to have a place to converse, express ideas, and highlight some resources.

For starters, in April I pondered my experience with income tax prep (joy joy). Here’s the post:

For the past several days, I’ve been steeped in a great American pastime—preparing my income tax returns. After trying out a new calculation software, and completing 95% of the work, I didn’t feel comfortable with the results. So I decided to start over, using my familiar, used-for-the-past-ten-years program. Our returns have a lot of ins and outs, and trying to answer those computer-screen interview questions Calculator for Postwas a challenge. I’m convinced the government pays people specifically to make this whole process as complex as possible.

What I noticed is that, until I hit that ‘transmit’ button to send the forms on their virtual flight, I could hardly think about anything else. This sort of focus tends to be a norm for me; if there is a big project hanging over me, it’s hard to devote time and emotional energy to other priorities. A driving force propels me along the path to completion.

When I finally arrive, it’s like dropping a weighty backpack at the end of a long hike. Freedom! It has been a joy to celebrate a day of reveling in completion energy. A few things went by the wayside for a while, but it has been worth it.

How about you? How does hyper-focus show up in your life (or does it)? When you have a big project with a definite deadline, are you able to moderate your focus and work on other priorities (including creative ventures) as well?

What is your strategy?