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Archive for the ‘inspiration’ Category

April 24, 2015 Edition Movement caught my eye as I stood at the kitchen sink and stared out the window. Something landed on a nearby bush, sat for a while, and then flew away. I wondered if a hummingbird had built a nest there. When I went outside to look, a butterfly flew within inches of my face and landed on a leaf in front of me. She repeated the process – landing, resting, flying away – for more than 20 minutes. “She must be laying eggs,” I thought to myself. The fascinating metamorphosis of butterflies happens right in front of our eyes, but most of us don’t see it. In a larger sense, the challenges we encounter during our own metamorphosis oftentimes prevent us from seeing the transformations of others.

#1 – Proving the Butterfly Effect
Chris Rosati Since being diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, North Carolina resident Chris Rosati has become an inspiration to many people around the world. He created BIGG, Big Idea for the Greater Good Initiative, that challenges people “to change the world with just one act of kindness.” Watch the short video of how Chris is “proving the butterfly effect with a single act of kindness.”

#2 – Forge Meaning, Build Identity
Writer Andrew Solomon gives an inspirational and powerful TED presentation on “How the worst moments in our lives make us who we are.” Eloquently, he shares stories of adversity and encourages us to forge meaning from our struggles. Here’s one of my favorite passages from his presentation: When we’re ashamed, we can’t tell our stories, and stories are the foundation of identity. Forge meaning, build identity, forge meaning and build identity. That became my mantra. Forging meaning is about changing yourself. Building identity is about changing the world. All of us with stigmatized identities face this question daily: how much to accommodate society by constraining ourselves, and how much to break the limits of what constitutes a valid life? Forging meaning and building identity does not make what was wrong right. It only makes what was wrong precious.

#3 – Simple Things
Small things In Life That Bring HappinessCar rides, belly rubs, walks in the park – it’s obvious that little things bring joy to dogs. What types of things bring joy to humans? A United Kingdom healthcare group surveyed 2,000 people and asked them what types of things made them feel good. Check out 50 Simple Things that Make Us Feel Great and see how many of these feel-good activities are on your list.

#4 – Butterfly Blues
Tropical Morpho butterflies have beautiful blue wings. This three-minute video shows how the structure of their wings generates their incredible iridescent color.

#5 – Transformation
Change Makes the Butterfly More Beautiful

Now go and spread joy!

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Tuesday's Thoughts The words return, recover, and regroup define Mondays. Return to routines and schedules. Recover some semblance of order. Regroup by checking calendars, prioritizing, and taking inventory. I’m not a big fan of Mondays.

On Tuesdays, however, I allow myself to breathe. I write and let my mind stretch and my thoughts wander. I call these my Tuesday’s Thoughts. Starting today, I will throw some of these thoughts into the mix of my usual Tuesday content of food and crafts. Consider Tuesday’s Thoughts as food for thought. I am pleased to present this inaugural edition.

Today, I’m going to teach an art class at the Wellspring Women’s Center. The Center “nurtures the innate goodness and personal self-esteem of women and their children” and provides “all of the services in an atmosphere of hospitality with dignity and love.” Located in an impoverished area, the Center offers many services that “bolster the dignity and hope of people under duress.” I am most impressed that alongside food, counseling, wellness, and advocacy programs, it offers a free art therapy program called Art of Being: Wellness Through Creativity. Some of you may wonder, if the needs of these women are great and many, then why offer art classes? To this point, the Center states, “Creative expression is a powerful tool to cultivate the positive qualities of mindfulness and insight. Being present in our lives can help us to tap into our inner strength and wisdom and increase our feelings of well-being and joy.” Even though these women’s lives may be difficult, they are learning through art to see the world differently, to express themselves without fear and judgment, and to share their journeys. They are learning that who they are is more than where they live.

Tuesday’s Thoughts: Take a moment for yourself and feed your soul. Let loose your creativity. Be present in the moment. Do not judge or critique your creativity, because, if you do, you negate the joy you felt while freely expressing yourself.

Now go and spread joy!

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April 17, 2015 EditionLooking at a selfie of my granddaughter and me, I experienced a déjà vu moment. I couldn’t quite put my finger on what the selfie reminded me of, until yesterday. Yesterday was my birthday. When I checked my Facebook page, an image of me and my daughter appeared on the computer screen. The image showed a much younger me, sporting a short hairstyle, carrying my infant daughter. The hairstyle in the photo is almost identical to the haircut I just got a few weeks ago. Other than carrying different babies in my arms, having a few more lines around my eyes, and showing a more generous sprinkling of freckles now, the two moments, 25 years apart, illustrate the proverb, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

#1 – Reincarnated Art
Telmo Pieper's Reincarnated Art Artist Telmo Pieper, from the Netherlands, took drawings he made when he was 4-years-old and reincarnated them with the help of digital effects. Check out the transformations of his art here.

#2 – Reliving The ’90s
How to Throw a '90s Party If the ’90s was your favorite decade, you might enjoy reliving it by throwing a party. Here are 29 Essentials For Throwing A Totally Awesome ’90s Party.

#3 – Children Versus Grandchildren
Are Grandchildren Better Than Children? Before my granddaughter was born, numerous friends and family members told me that being a grandparent was better than being a parent. Could that possibly be true? The article Are Grandchildren Better Than Kids? attempts to answer that question. If you are a grandparent, let me know what you think.

#4 – Things That Get Better With Age
50 Things That Get Better With AgeAmazingly some things actually improve with age. Would you like to know what these possibly could be? Check out this list from Prevention on 50 Things That Get Better With Age.

#5 – Changing
“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
Leo Tolstoy

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Water Drops on Succulent Cradled in the leaves of a succulent, drops of water shimmer like jewels. Throughout time, succulents have survived their arid conditions by adapting. They store water in their fleshy parts – leaves, stems, and roots. They evolved to survive. Will mankind evolve quickly enough to survive a potential megadrought? Will mankind learn to value water and treat it like the life-saving, shimmering jewel that it is?

#1 – What’s The Difference?
The Difference Between Cacti and Succulents Do you know the difference between a cactus and a succulent? Just in case you need to know, here is what U.C. Master Gardner Denise Levine wrote about the topic:

All cacti are succulents, but not all succulents are cacti. Succulents (from the Latin word “succulentus,” for juice or sap) are defined by their moisture-storing capacity and come from many botanical families. Medicinal aloe veras and familiar Chicks and Hens are two examples of succulents many of us are familiar with.

Cacti have small, round, cushion-like structures called areoles from which spines, branches, hair, leaves and even flowers grow. While many succulents may look like cacti in every other respect, if they don’t have these circular areoles, they are not in the cactus (Cactaceae) family.

Another distinction is that succulents are native to most parts of the world, but cacti are only indigenous from Alaska to Chile in the Western Hemisphere. Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have never found a native cactus, but Canada has found several that have evolved to survive Canada’s freezing winters.

#2 – Oldest Living Things
The Oldest Living Things in the World With my birthday approaching next week, I started searching for other old living things. This search led me to Rachel Sussman’s photographs of “The Oldest Living Things In The World.” After viewing the photo of 12,000 year-old Mojave yucca plants, which are succulents, and her other incredible photos, I suddenly felt very young. Everything is relative.

#3 – Miniature Fairy Gardens
Miniature and Fairy GardeningHere’s a project for the young-at-heart. Check out Naturework’s photos of Miniature and Fairy Gardening. You’ll put transforming a broken clay pot into a fairy garden on your “Creative To Do” list.

#4 – Rock Cacti Garden
Cacti Made Of Painted Rocks This cute and clever idea suits people like me who have sparks of creativity, but also have brown thumbs. Be on the lookout for perfect rock formations, so that you can make your own Cactus Made of Painted Rocks.

#5 – Sit or Don’t Sit
“The world is full of cactus, but we don’t have to sit on it.”
Will Foley

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Remembrance Box The woodworker stood back and looked at his project. While pouring his heart into the design and construction of it, his mind focused on only one thing – the purpose of it. At a recent meeting of local woodcrafters, a plea had been made for boxes. Keaton Raphael Memorial, a nonprofit organization that assists families with children with cancer, was in dire need of woodworkers to help make Remembrance Boxes. When a child being helped by Keaton Raphael Memorial passes away and becomes a special KRM angel, the organization gives the family a wooden box containing bereavement reading materials and oftentimes a grant to help with funeral expenses. The woodworker rose to the challenge and his expertly-crafted work reflects the beauty of fallen leaves, signifying, in my opinion, the short, but significant lives of young souls.

#1 – Land Art
Land Art Nature doesn’t need any embellishments. However, when man works with natural components, interesting art can result. You will be impressed by the scale of some of the projects in 21 Unforgettable Examples of Land Art.

#2 – Got Stuff?
Recycling Goods With children moving hither and yon, I am left with a garage full of “stuff.” All of it is useful – to somebody. Rather than toss everything into the garbage, I’d rather find new homes or new uses for them. If you are in the same situation of having stuff and not wanting to add to our landfills, go to earth911. Type in what you would like to recycle, add your zipcode, and a listing of local recycling centers should appear.

#3 – Easter Decorations
80 Fabulous Easter Decorations While scrolling through the ideas in 80 Fabulous Easter Decorations You Can Make Yourself, I went into creative overload. There are so many cute and clever ideas in it, I don’t which project to start first!

#4 – Fresh Eggs
How to Buy the Freshest Eggs PossibleWith Easter right around the corner, you’ll want to make sure you buy the freshest eggs possible. In How to Buy the Freshest Eggs Possible, learn how to read the Julian date on an egg carton. And here’s a tip from me: when selecting a carton of eggs in the grocery store, just don’t open the carton and look at the eggs. Always wiggle each egg. If an egg doesn’t move, there’s a good chance that its shell is cracked, causing it to stick to the carton.

#5 – In Every Falling Leaf
“In every change, in every falling leaf there is some pain, some beauty. And that’s the way new leaves grow.”
Amit Ray

Note: The beautiful Remembrance Box in the photo was made by Mr. Jim Hunt

Now go and spread joy!

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Felt Baby Shoes “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” Reading this six-word piece of flash fiction, purportedly penned by author Ernest Hemingway, always made me feel sad. Like other people, I wondered about the tragic tale and about the fate of the baby. Now, I know of a plausible good ending to the story. A month ago, I decided to sew shoes for my infant granddaughter. I worked on them sporadically throughout the month, as there never seemed to be enough time to sit down for more than five minutes. By the time I finally finished embroidering the last of the three pairs and tried them on Charlotte, they were too small. Babies’ feet grow all too quickly. Alas, I have baby shoes for sale, never worn.

#1 – Workspaces of the Famous
Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative Some people think that Ernest Hemingway wrote the six-word story while he was at lunch with friends and not in his office. Was he that much of a literary genius to produce incredible work just anywhere? Where do you do your best creative work and what does your creative space look like? Check out these Inspiring Workspaces of the Famously Creative and see if your workspace more closely resembles that of Georgia O’Keefe or that of Alexander Calder.

#2 – Six Things
Throw a Six Quote Hemingway’s six words provoked much thought. Here are six quotes about “six things” that will certainly inspire you at least six times over:
Six Things Go Unsaid Quote

Tom Hopkins: Six Things

Arabic Quote: Six Things

Eddie Rickenbacker quote

Lewis Carroll: Six Impossible Things Quote

Marcus Tullius Cicero: Six Things

#3 – Toast, Anyone?
Creative Breakfast Toasts If you wake up at 6:00 in the morning and are looking for an energy-boosting breakfast, look no further. Here are 21 Energy-Boosting Breakfast Toasts. They all look good to me!

#4 – Six Innovations
Interview with Steven Johnson: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World If you had to name six innovations that made the modern world, what would they be? Author Steven Johnson did that in his book “How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World” and for the accompanying PBS television series. He interviewed last year with SFGate to discuss how he “traveled the globe to tell the little-known stories of men and women who came up with revolutionary innovations of modern civilization.” Read about how he crawled through the sewers in San Francisco and learn more about some of the innovations he researched here.

#5 – Creativity
“Creativity is not a talent or ability. It is the fruit of a person’s decision to matter.”
Eric Maisel

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March 13, 2015 Edition A sunny high-rise home with an ocean view and plenty of fresh air ventilation sounds like a perfect place to rest a spell and, perhaps, even raise a family. That’s what this seagull thought as it sat on a comfy nest on top of a roof. Roman author and naturalist Pliny the Elder once philosophized, “Home is where the heart is.” What is your heart telling you?

#1 – Unusual Homes For Sale
12 Strange and Unusual Homes for Sale For $1.1 million dollars the Mushroom House in New York can be yours. Check out photos of this unique home and eleven other homes in 12 Strange and Unusual Homes for Sale.

#2 – Going the Distance
Top Ten Amazing Migrations Did you know that the Arctic Tern has the longest migration of any animal? Read how far it travels and learn more about other animals who “go the distance” in the Top Ten Most Amazing Migrations.

#3 – Crafty Gift Ideas
35 Easy to Make DIY Gift Ideas Homesthetics presents a nice variety of ideas in its post 35 Easy to Make DIY Gift Ideas That You Would Actually Like to Receive. From bath and body products to photo pendants to stepping stones and more, you’ll feel creatively inspired to try out one of these ideas.

#4 – Helping Homeless Pets
Helping Homeless Pets Meet Duke, a part Corgi, part Dachshund, and part Jack Russell bundle of love. Duke is a rescue dog whose owners recently surrendered him, because they are expecting a baby. That action gives Duke two strikes on his rap sheet, not to mention a few behavioral issues born from insecurity. He is currently being fostered by my oldest son, until someone steps ups to love and adopt him. To learn of ways you can help Duke and other animals in his situation, read 10 Ways to Help Homeless Pets, Even If You Can’t Adopt.

#5 – Home
“It’s not the size of your house that makes a home . . . it’s the size of your heart!”
Jane Lee Logan

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March 6, 2015 Edition Model Tyra Banks coined the word “smize.” According to one of her websites, the word means: a fierce, sizzling eye expression, typically with the eyes squinting with maximum focus and intensity; the art of smiling with one’s eyes. So what’s a girl to do when she has a camera-toting grandmother? Why, she poses, of course! As I propped up six-month-old Charlotte on a chair for a 30-second photo shoot, she “smized” into the camera. I told her, “Tyra Banks would be so proud of you!” Life flies by and babies grow up fast. Don’t forget to smile through your eyes and take photos of your journey!

#1 – Photographing Kids
13 Tips for Better Pictures of Babies, Toddlers and Teenagers Photographing kids takes skill and a little bit of luck. For those of you who take photos of your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews read professional photographer Brett Harkness’s 13 Tips For Better Pictures of Babies, Toddlers and Teenagers.

#2 – Easter Crafts
Upcycling Empty Egg Cartons Easter is a month away. As you think ahead to dying Easter eggs, also think ahead to what you will do with the empty egg cartons. Discard them? Never! Here are a few cute ideas for upcycling those cartons.

#3 – Those Downtime Thoughts
Bizarrely Odd Shower Thoughts Some of my best blog ideas come to me while I blow-dry my hair. It’s a mindless task, so my mind wanders freely. Bizarrely Odd Shower Thoughts is a compilation of those types of wandering thoughts. Where do you do your best and most creative thinking?

#4 – Flowers, Flowers Everywhere
Flowers Surviving Daffodils in full-bloom sprinkle the slope of my front yard with cheerful color and Daphne blossoms near my front door provide a heavenly fragrance to those who come visit. Plants bring so much joy to our world, especially those that manage to thrive in unusual conditions. Check out Life Finds A Way: 25 Plants That Just Won’t Give Up.

#5 – Smile
“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

Now go and spread joy!

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Delightful Address What if letters or packages sent to people used complimentary adjectives in lieu of proper titles? For example, a letter to Mrs. Abigail Jones, might be addressed to “Lovely Abigail Jones.” A package I received in the mail the other day made me think about this concept. The package was addressed to “Delightful Linnell.” It made me smile, and if I was not in a delightful mood a moment earlier, I was surely in one after reading the label. The takeaway from all of this is: as you go about your daily interactions with family, friends, and other people, try paying them sincere and heartfelt compliments. By making them feel good, they may, in turn, be kinder to someone else and you will have triggered a ripple of smiles.

#1 – One Compliment
How to Give a Compliment Would you be able to pay one compliment to every person you spoke with during the day? In A Life-Changing Challenge: Add One Compliment, Joshua Becker writes about how including “one compliment in every conversation” began, and in doing so how his life changed. In addition, he suggests ways to make paying compliments easier.

#2 – Paws on the Bus
Bus Riding Dog If you live in the Seattle area and ride the bus system, you may be surprised one day to see a dog sitting next to you. When Eclipse, a black Labrador Retriever, wants to go to the dog park, she hops on a bus with or without her owner and heads over there. As the bus moves along, she looks out the window and knows exactly which bus stop to get off at. Read more about Eclipse here.

#3 – Stone Art
Stone Art When discussing stone work for the home or garden, the average person probably thinks it refers to either installing granite counter tops or a garden pathway. Andreas Kunert and Naomi Zittl, owners of the Ancient Art of Stone, design and install unique works of stone art that add textural and natural beauty to homes and gardens. Andreas says of his work, “I am deeply passionate about creating something intimately powerful for my clients, something I feel is a channeled reflection of their soul . . . I am a conduit giving shape in stone to the visions and dreams that assist us to remember our greater purpose and connection to the whole.”

#4 – Improve Your Vocabulary
Improve Your Vocabulary It might make it easier for you to pay compliments, if you built up your vocabulary. The website for Vocabulary.com states, “Regardless of your education level or age, Vocabulary.com will help you to master the words that are essential to academic and business success.” Windows pop up on your computer screen with specific words and ask you to choose the best definition. The words become increasingly difficult. I found it to be fun and challenging.

#5 – Sincere Compliments
“Sincere compliments cost nothing and can accomplish so much. In ANY relationship, they are the applause that refreshes.”
Steve Goodier

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February 20, 2015 Edition Why do socks never stay on a baby’s feet? Here are a few of my observations. Being super flexible, babies can bring their feet all the way up to their faces. They then can pull off their socks and feast on their tasty little piggies, all the while giggling with delight. Remember when you could do that? Babies also squirm and kick and writhe and stretch a lot, so with no shoes to hold them in place, socks work their way down and eventually fall off completely. Another reason socks don’t stay on tiny baby feet is an anatomical one. My adorable infant granddaughter has “cankles.” For those of you who don’t know what cankles are, they are the areas where chubby calves abruptly converge with chubby ankles. The straight cut of most socks refuse to cooperate with the triangular shape of cankles. Why is any of this information important? None of it is. But I bet some part of it made you smile.

#1 – Your Inner Child
3 things Kids Can Do that Can Lead to Self-Love and Happiness Think back to the days when you were a child. Do those memories bring a smile to your face? What feelings do you have when you think of your childhood and when did those feelings change, if they did? Somewhere along the way, most of us lose our inner child, the part of of us that is joyful, open, and inquisitive. In her article 3 Things Kids Do That Can Lead to Self-Love & Happiness, life coach Theresa Ho reminds us of ways we can nurture our inner child and develop more self-love. I particularly like the Jean Shinoda Bolen quote in the introduction: “When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

#2 – It’s A(Door)Able
A(Door)Able Game Here’s a mini game for you to play on your computer. Use the arrow keys on your keypad to pick up a key and stick it in a door on your screen. Sounds easy, right? Not so! To play this A(Door)Able “minute-long” game, you must have nimble fingers and act quickly. My husband got through the game and was able to see the cute surprise ending. Have fun playing!

#3 – Flower Power
Three Dimensional Photo Just in time for spring, here’s a clever way to capture the spirit of the moment and frame a photo. The vibe for Flower Embellished Photo Art is so happy and carefree. Think of all the different materials you could use alternatively to get the feel you want.

#4 – Paying It Forward
Looking for another way to pay it forward? Look at the thoughtful example that Rosa’s Fresh Pizza parlor in Philadelphia started. Other businesses should take note.

#5 – There’s No Outgrowing It
“A baby is born with a need to be loved – and never outgrows it.”
Frank A. Clark

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