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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

Melissa Babasin Photography

Melissa Babasin Photography

Like a river, life carries me around bends and curves and to inevitable forks of decision. At the six-year anniversary of What About This?, I find myself at one of those forks. Sharing bits of joy with you these past six years has brought me great pleasure, but blogs take on a life of their own. They require attention and constant feeding, which translate into time. It is always difficult to put an end to something one enjoys, but at this point in my life, my hands are blessedly full. Today’s post, the 647th, will be my final one.

How do I go about saying goodbye to What About This? and to all who took the journey with me? Looking back on my days as a blogger, I know I have many people to thank for being my “river guides.” First, I’d like to thank my husband for believing in me when I didn’t dare, for knowing me better than I know myself, and for allowing me to be decidedly and indisputably me. He served as my IT guy, my stalwart editor, and my taste tester. Rousing debates over grammar, syntax, punctuation, and blog-worthy recipes became part of our everyday lives. Second, I would like to thank my family for allowing me to share them with the world. Last, but not least, I would like to thank each and every one of you who visited, commented on, or subscribed to What About This? You kept me company along the way and gave me the encouragement to continue. Every word typed, every minute spent, and every connection made during the life of this blog brought me joy. I sincerely hope it brought you some in return, as you were my inspiration.

I believe the end of one thing gives way to the beginning of something else. What will I do with my time, when I no longer write this blog? Clean my house, for one thing. I’m serious. But there are also photography skills to be honed, ukulele songs to be played, food to be shared, exercises to be performed, hours to be volunteered, and a little granddaughter to be cherished.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. It’s been an honor.

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be only the beginning.” Ivy Baker Priest

Now go and spread joy!

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September 11, 2015Butterfly bushes hang limp in the breeze. Dead grass crunches when walked upon. It’s obvious that the drought conditions in California have wreaked havoc in my yard. The only things flourishing in it right now are the spiders. In lieu of masses of pretty white flowers, I now have a generous sprinkling of white spider webs. With its areas of tight gossamer weave and its immense size, this spider web is a masterpiece – a different type of gift from Mother Nature.

#1 – Bioinspiration
Strongest Natural Material Spider webs have long been considered to be the strongest organic material, but now a challenger has arrived on the scene – limpet teeth. Researchers from the University of Portsmouth have found that the material in tiny limpet teeth “contain a hard mineral known as goethite, which forms in the limpet as it grows.” Engineers will try to mimic the structure and find practical applications for it. The article Scientists Find Strongest Natural Material describes bioinspiration as “Finding out about effective designs in nature and then making structures based on these designs.”

#2 – Glamorous Decorations
20 Glam Halloween Ideas If you don’t have fancy spider webs like mine, you can make your own decorative ones in time for Halloween. Check out these 20 Ideas for Glam Halloween decorations.

#3 – Words of Wisdom
Words of Wisdom from Author Kurt Vonnegut Eight years ago, some students in a high school class wrote letters to their favorite authors. Only one author replied. To see which author took the time to respond to them and to read the inspirational words he shared, click on the photo to enlarge it.

#4 – Tips for Life and for Traveling
99 Travel and Life Tips Having traveled around the world for the last nine years, Sherry of Otts World offers a plethora of great life and travel tips in her blog post 99 Best Life and Travel Tips.

#5 – Bound Together
“Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.” Chief Seattle

Now go and spread joy!

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September 4, 2015 EditionSucculents don’t suck. They just suffer from a lack of appreciation. However, all that is changing. With drought conditions existing in the United States, versatile succulents are rising in popularity. Sporting a wide range of colors, textures, shapes, and sizes, succulents add striking beauty to gardens. In an effort to cut back on water usage, I replaced almost all of my potted plants with succulents and I am so happy that I did. Succulents also produce spectacular flowers, like the trumpet-shaped one above that graces my front porch.

#1 – Crayon Initiative
Saving Crayons: Crayon Initiative While celebrating his birthday at a restaurant, Brian Ware learned that the crayons given to his children to occupy themselves were discarded after use. This led to the formation of the Crayon Initiative. Mr. Ware collects used crayons from schools and restaurants, melts them down, remolds them, and distributes them to hospitals throughout California for young patients to use. Says Mr. Ware, “If these crayons give them an escape from that hospital room for ten minutes, we did our job.”

#2 – Where Magic Happens
Visiting Illustrators' Studios A while back, when I chaired Author Day programs for my children’s schools, my family had the privilege of visiting the studio of Ruth Heller, children’s book author and illustrator. That is where magic happened, where her books came to life. Photographer Jake Green visited the studios of well-known illustrators of children’s books. Here’s a peek at some of his notes and photos from his visits in Where Magic Happens: Children’s Illustrators Open Up Their Studios.

#3 – Who’s the Cutest?
Who's the Cutest? Zoologists and animal experts from around the world took to Twitter to compete in a “cute-off” to determine which animals are scientifically the cutest. To see photos of some of the entrants, check out Scientists On Twitter Agree: These Are The Cutest Animals That Exist .

#4 – Propagating Succulents
Propagating Succulents Whether you plant succulents in the ground or in pots, you will need to keep them in shape. Many varieties can get “leggy” and need to be pruned back. Almost every part of a succulent can be used in propagation, so why not propagate while pruning? Needles + Leaves has an great tutorial on Propagating Succulents. You’ll be amazed at how easy the process is and how many plants you can get from one “mother” plant.

#5 – To Plant a Garden
“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow.”
Audrey Hepburn

Now go and spread joy!

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August 28, 2015 Edition Playfully, I stick a hair curler in my granddaughter’s hair. Charlotte innocently strikes a quick girly-girl pose for me and then pulls the curler out of her hair and goes about her busy job of playing. Watching her play, I marvel at the curiosity that babies have and at the wonder and excitement that they exude over the simplest of things. This observation makes me ponder, “What happens to these qualities as we age?”

#1 – Just One Question
“If you could change one thing about your body what would it be?” Responses to that question were captured in this short video and they reveal how many of us become more self-conscious as we age. If you were asked this question, what would your answer be?

#2 – Never Too Old for Blocks
Life-Size Legos: EverBlocks Building System When my children were young, they would spend endless hours playing with Lego building blocks. Piles of these small blocks would be strewn all over the floor and my children would create imaginative worlds of their own. Now, thanks to Arnon Rosan, adults can still “play” with interlocking blocks. EverBlocks, life-size blocks similar to Legos, can be used to build furniture, room dividers, modular buildings, and even emergency shelters. These blocks prove that you are never too old to play with blocks and, like when you were a child, you are only limited by your imagination.

#3 – Too Close
Extreme Close-Ups No matter how often I vacuum my carpet, Charlotte always finds a tiny particle of debris on it. Babies have keen eyes, but not as keen as artist Pyanek’s camera lens. For his project Amazing Worlds Within Our World, he photographed everyday items extremely close-up. You’ll never look at a sponge the same way again.

#4 – Ukes of Great Btitain
Every night, before Charlotte’s parents pick her up, my husband plays the ukulele and we have a little sing-a-long with her. She laughs, dances, and “sings” to her favorite songs. There’s no doubt about it, the ukulele is a fun and happy-sounding instrument. Enjoy this humorous rendition of the Theme from Shaft, as performed by the talented Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain.

#5 – Respect the Child
“We not only need to have a deep respect for children; but also a deep respect for the child in everyone.”
C. JoyBell C.

Now go and spread joy!

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August 21, 2015 Always looking for ways to improve myself, I’m attending a workshop today. Check back next Tuesday for a new What About This? post. In the meantime, I leave you with this thought:

“The significance of the cherry blossom tree in Japanese culture goes back hundreds of years. In their country, the cherry blossom represents the fragility and the beauty of life. It’s a reminder that life is almost overwhelmingly beautiful, but that it is also tragically short.”
Homaro Cantu

Now go and spread joy!

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August 14, 2015 Edition Resembling a drunk, my granddaughter Charlotte teeters back and forth on unsteady legs as she walks towards me. Deciding to carry the largest and heaviest toy in the room, she makes frequent balance adjustments as she plows her way through a minefield of toys on the floor. I smile at the scrunched-up-nose grin on her face; that happy grin appears during moments when she is most proud of herself. “Slow down little one,” I say to her, not wanting her to fall, but, in a grander sense, not wanting her to grow up too fast. Although she’s not quite a year old, it’s hard for me to remember what life was like before this precious bundle of joy blessed it.

#1 – Stop Complaining!
How to Complain Less Some days I watch Charlotte for 15 hours straight, but I’m not complaining. I consider myself lucky that I’m physically able to do it and that my son and daughter-in-law trust me enough to care for their child. The act of complaining zaps the joy out of life, so stop complaining or at least do it less frequently. Read What It’s Like To Go Without Complaining For a Month and learn a few tips on how to complain less.

#2 – Coloring Stress Away
25 Free Coloring Pages Back in the “good ol’ days” before the invention of televisions, computers, and cell phones, kids would entertain themselves by coloring in their favorite coloring books. Remember the happy feeling you had after buying a new box of crayons and a new coloring book? Regain that happy and carefree feeling of being lost in art as you color away your day’s stress. Check out The Country Chic Cottage’s list of free coloring pages. Coloring is not just for kids!

#3 – Salads in a Jar
20 Recipes for Salads in a Jar Vacations are over. It’s back to school or back to work we go. And that usually means back to routines. Break the monotony of bag lunches by taking out unappetizing sandwiches and substituting tantalizing salads. Better yet, make the salads ahead of time in a jar and the next morning grab a jar and go. These 20 Mason Jar Salads to Pack for Lunch will give you a few recipe ideas for next week.

#4 – Admiring Glass
#0 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today One would think that glass is a cold and lifeless medium, but not in the hands of these 30 Most Amazing Glass Artists Alive Today. In their hands molten glass solidifies to become expressions of emotions and beauty. Ikuta Niyoko, one of the artists featured in the article, says this of her work, “My motifs are derived from feelings of gentleness and harshness, fear, limitless expansion experienced through contact with nature, images from music, ethnic conflict, the heart affected by joy and anger, and prayer.”

#5 – Be Surprised
“We get a limited number of milestones in life, but we never run out of opportunities to be surprised by joy.”
Connie Schultz

Now go and spread joy!

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Tuesday's Thoughts (8/11/15)
Running into neighbors at a local restaurant last week, I mentioned that my husband and I were celebrating our 38th wedding anniversary. A young couple sitting at the next table overheard the conversation and said, “Congratulations! What’s the secret to being married for so long?” I jokingly wanted to say, “As you grow old together, you become blind and deaf.” Instead, I thought about the question and quickly replied, “Patience and compromise.” After I got home, I gave the matter more thought and concluded that there is no one secret to making a marriage last. It’s a hundred little things. Being married is work, hard work. And having been with my husband for 43 years, I can honestly say, it doesn’t get easier with time. Growing up and growing old together necessitate that you refocus and make adjustments along the way. I can’t speak for all couples, but the following elements and qualities helped us to have a long and happy marriage. Here is some additional advice for that young couple:

1. Patience and Balance
Yesterday, I received a Note from the Universe that read, “Maybe it’s not just about finding the perfect friend, partner, or tribe, but finding the perfection in those you’ve already found.” No one is perfect. Remember that the next time you feel exasperated with your partner. A little patience goes a long way. Together, my husband and I make a good team. Our personality traits compliment one another and we strive to balance our lives together, never letting any outside influence tip the scale.

2. The Four C’s: Communication, Consideration, Compromise, and Commitment
As a fiery Aries, I always keep the lines of communication open, whether my husband likes it or not. My general rule: do not build up emotional “walls” without “doors” to let someone in or without “windows” that allow conversation to flow. Be considerate of your partner’s feelings. Never make assumptions and try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes. Marriage is a partnership, not a corporation. There is always room for compromise. Commitment means more than just being in a relationship. It means you are committed to do whatever it takes to make the marriage work. You strive to work out problems and not retreat or escape from them. It means when the going gets tough, you get tougher and become each other’s stalwart supporter. It means you are committed to the well-being and happiness of your partner.

3. Respect and Trust
My parents, my siblings, and even my children got me by default. My husband is the only person who really chose me for me. I am eternally grateful that he chose me to love and that he respects me. I am mindful to respect his being and his rights as well. Trust must be earned. Once it’s broken, it’s extremely difficult to reestablish. Think twice before jeopardizing the gifts of your partner’s respect and trust.

4. Separate and Together
Yes, my husband is my soulmate, my partner in crime, my travel companion, my best friend, and the light of my life. That being said, do I need to spend every waking moment with him? No. Although we spend a lot of time together, we still need time apart to nourish our individuality. Allowing for individual growth makes us a happier couple.

5. Appreciation and Gratitude
We work hard at not taking each other for granted. Never a day goes by that we don’t express, in some form, our appreciation for one another. Life can change in the blink of an eye, so be grateful for that special person in your life.

6. Love
The giant umbrella of love encompasses much. Love cannot exist without joy and happiness. Sparked by passion and compassion, it grows when nurtured by commitment and patience. It thrives on acts of kindness, consideration, and compromise. Love endures when built on a foundation of trust and respect. To have love in a marriage is to have all these things.

What advice would you give to the young couple?

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