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Posts Tagged ‘nature’

pink spring bud

Photo by Linnell Chang

Spring promises hope with its mix of weather. Rain washes away dusty days and dim outlooks. The sun hastens growth and invigorates. Renewal and rebirth for all  – inside and out. Life is transformed on many levels.

#1 – Women Unite!
Global Mom Relay Women unite! We have the power to change the world! By sharing a daily post on the Global Mom Relay site everyday, we are helping a woman or a child somewhere in the world.

The United Nations Foundation states this about its Global Mom Relay:
From now until May 8, moms are powering an online conversation about motherhood to unlock donations. Every time you share a relay post on Facebook, Twitter, or email or donate $5 or more as part of the relay, a $5 donation (up to $8,000 per day) will be donated by Johnson & Johnson and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to one of four initiatives that are helping women and children lead healthy and happy lives – Girl Up, the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, Mobile Alliance for Maternal Action (MAMA), and the Shot@Life campaign. Led by co-chairs, Arianna Huffington, Jennifer Lopez, Lynda Lopez, Elizabeth Gore, and Sharon D’Agostino, the relay is in support of Every Woman Every Child, a movement launched by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.

The first step is easy. Read this article, Mothers Rewriting the Future and share it!

#2 – The Joy of Books
Hey book lovers – you know how books have a way of coming alive? This video is for you!

#3 – An Eight Letter Game
Get those cobwebs out of your head. Play Eight Letters!  It’s a little like playing Boggle. You must create as many words as possible with the eight letters you are given, in the allotted amount of time. There are extra challenges, too. Each level has a target amount of points for you to reach, plus after every five levels there is a bonus anagram to solve.

#4 – Find Your Passion
find your passion test There are only ten questions in the Find Your Passion exercise. The first one reads, “When I was a kid, I dreamed of _______.” Working through these questions, I surprised myself with some of my answers. The answers were so obvious, but evidently not to me, until now. It’s taken me decades to come around full circle and to finally see that the things I have passion for are the same things I enjoyed doing as a kid. The Find Your Passion exercise is part of O’s 4-Step Guide to Discovering Who You’re Meant to Be.

#5 – Dare to Bloom
And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.
Anais Nin

 Enjoy your weekend! Bloom!!

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Daphne

Daphne by Linnell Chang

If you walk up to my front door right now, there’s a gift waiting for you. For, at this very moment, the sweet fragrance of Daphne flowers infuse the air. Such a delightful way to be greeted, but how will you reply? Will you bask in the moment or will you move on?

#1 – Tolkien’s Ents?

Methuselah tree

Photo by Rick Goldwasser

From a flower-strewn bush of Daphnes to the sky-high tops of trees, nature’s gifts always impress. Mother Nature Network assembled this photo series of “The World’s 10 Oldest Living Trees.” Looking at these photos of ancient trees, one has to wonder if any of them were the inspiration for Tolkien’s wise Ents?

#2 – A Bright Idea
DIY project: Aluminum Lanterns Here’s a really clever decorating idea that was inspired by a creative person’s shopping trip to Home Depot. These lanterns are made from aluminum sheets and require minimal supplies to construct them. Looks like a fun project for the weekend!

#3 – The Skinny on Salad Dressings
Eating a salad for lunch or dinner is a nutritious and low-calorie meal, right? Well, that all depends on the salad dressing you’re pouring over those fresh greens. Not only do many salad dressings contain fat, many of them are also high in sodium. Here’s registered dietician Joy Bauer’s recipe for a low calorie (59 calories per 2 tablespoons) and low sodium (40 mg per 2 tablespoons) salad dressing:

Joy’s Skinny Balsamic Vinaigrette
Ingredients:
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp mustard
1 tsp honey
1 tsp garlic powder

Directions:
In a jar, combine all ingredients. Shake until everything is well combined. It’ll stay fresh in the fridge for five days.

Makes eight 2-Tbsp servings

#4 – Made Me Smile
Made Me Smile Just looking at this graphic made me smile, but I loved the introduction to Marc and Angel Hack Life‘s post “7 Things Happy People Say Every Day.” The introduction reads, “You have the right words within you to make every day a happy one.” Words have power – say the right ones!

#5 – Flowery Thoughts
Couldn’t decide, so here are two:

“The earth laughs in flowers. ”
e.e. cummings

“Every flower is a soul blossoming in Nature. ”
Gerard De Nerval

Get out and smell the flowers this weekend!

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frozen bird bath

Photo by Linnell Chang

Rigid icicles, clinging tightly to the under side of a fountain, created a sharp contrast to the shape-changing droplets of water that danced over the edge. Overnight freezing temperatures transformed my backyard fountain into a winter work of art and also into a metaphor about life’s transformations. Like the internal changes water goes through, life can be transformed by changing our inner beliefs.

#1 – Code to Live By
The third entry in the Native American Code of Ethics reads, Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others to make your path for you. It is your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you. Deep down, I think we all recognize the validity of these words, but how many of us actually walk our true paths? The other 19 aspects of the Code serve as additional reminders of how we can live honorable lives. Print up the Code and read it every morning before you start your day. If we all followed this Code, think about how we could transform the world.

#2 – Healthy Living TED Video
In this video author A.J. Jacobs presents his humorous talk on “How Healthy Living Nearly Killed Me.” Pay special attention to what he says from minute 7:20 to minute 7:41!

#3 – Cooking For Others
photo of casserole containers If you have a friend in need and you’re taking food over to help him/her, you might want to review this article, Cooking for Others: A Guide to Giving Sympathy Meals first. Read “tips, helpful suggestions, and friendly advice on bringing meals to others.” While reading through the comments section, I learned that many of us tend to bring over food for dinner, but rarely consider that the recipient might be in need of something else, like food for breakfast.

#4 – Ten Sentences
inspirational poster From the blog Lifehack come these Ten Sentences that Can Change Your Life. Which sentence has the power to transform your life?

#5 – Search Within
“People spend a lifetime searching for happiness; looking for peace. They chase idle dreams, addictions, religions, even other people, hoping to fill the emptiness that plagues them. The irony is the only place they ever needed to search was within.”
Romana L. Anderson

Have a wonderful weekend!

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Close up of frog

Photo by Linnell Chang

He: It’s late. Are you coming to bed?
She: In a minute.
He: What are you doing?
She: Taking pictures of a frog.
He: A frog? Where? It’s one o’clock in the morning!
She: Yeah, well, when I was checking the door to see if it was locked, I noticed a frog stuck to the glass. It’s not everyday you can see the belly of a frog up close!
He: I should have known better than to ask you what you were up to!

Opportunities to learn something new present themselves everyday, all day long. It’s easy to ignore or dismiss these moments because we live busy lives and because we take the world around us for granted. So the next time you see something you take for granted – a frog on a window, an autumn leaf on the ground, a candle burning, etc., ask yourself these classic questions: why, when, what, where, and how? For example, how is a frog able to cling to a smooth surface? Why do some autumn leaves turn yellow, some orange, and some red? When a candle burns, where does the wax go? Whether we take the time to observe, study, or investigate depends on our willingness or receptiveness to learn. Don’t forget . . . the more you know, the more you grow.

#1 – Sharpie Art
Sharpie decorated mugs Isn’t it time you learned that Sharpie pens are not just for writing? Take a look at these 20 Sharpie Projects Perfect for the holidays! You’ll be surprised with what you can create with a Sharpie pen!

#2 – Santa Hat Pretzels
Santa Hat Pretzels Looking for an easy-to-make holiday treat? Make these cute Santa Hat Pretzels. Simple, clever, and no baking required!

#3 – Ink and Water

Alberto Seveso

Part of the A Due Colori Series by Alberto Seveso

In the hands of an average person, mixing ink and water together spells out one big mess, but in the hands of Italian artist Alberto Seveso, these two elements create something beautiful. Click here to see more of his intriguing work.

#4 – Random Acts of Kindness
random acts of kindness When we truly open our eyes to the world around us, we take down our blinders and open our hearts, too. It’s been awhile since I’ve posted about random acts of kindness, so when I saw these 16 Unbelievable Acts of Kindness, I knew I had to share them with you. They’ll restore your faith in mankind and propel you to do something kind for someone else.

#5 – Just For Today

Just for today, I will not be angry.

Just for today, I will not worry.

Just for today, I will be grateful.

Just for today, I will do my work honestly.

Just for today, I will be kind to every living thing.

The Five Reiki Principles by Dr. Mikao Usui

Learn something new this weekend!

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Kishu Mandarins

Watching fierce winds whip the branches of a small Kishu Mandarin tree forced me to make a quick decision. With a trunk no wider than an inch and tiny branches heavy with fruit, I worried that the tree might break under stress. With a pair of pruners and a basket, I harvested all the fruit from the tree, being grateful for its abundant crop. Considering that this is its first year of bearing fruit and it’s container-grown, this little tree did itself proud.

#1 – Gratitude
“Gratitude provides for us even when we think we have nothing or no one. Because we do have many things and people in our lives. Gratitude just lifts the opaque veil from our eyes so we can see that more clearly.” This passage from the article 3 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude highlights the simple fact that even when we think we have nothing, there still must be something for which we can be grateful. In addition, it suggests maintaining a gratitude journal to help keep life in perspective.

#2 – Falling Leaves
The winds are also blowing down beautiful autumn leaves. When I take walks in my neighborhood, I carry an empty plastic bag in which I can transport home my newly found treasures, freshly picked off the ground. I’ve researched ways to preserve and display leaves. Here are some techniques and ideas I found that will let me enjoy the beauty of leaves for a long time to come:

Skeleton Leaves how to make skeleton leaves How to Preserve the Beauty of Fall Foliage how to preserve leaves

Fall Leaf Candle Holder fall leaf candle holder

Very Cute Leaf Animals
animal leaf art

Easy Leaf Prints how to make leaf prints

#3 – Cork It!
wine cork wreath I can never resist sharing ways to reuse, re-purpose or upcycle things. Here are some Awesome DIY Ideas With Wine Corks. Included are a few holiday-themed projects. Check them out!

#4 – For the Love of a Dog

Fiona Apple and her dog Janet

Fiona Apple and her dog Janet

Singer-songwriter and pianist Fiona Apple wrote a touching four-page, handwritten letter to her South American fans explaining why she needed to postpone her tour there. This may be old news for some of you, but I thought it was worth posting for those who have not read it yet. Read a small excerpt below and then click here to read Fiona’s touching letter in its entirety. Animal lovers, be advised, have tissues in hand:

It’s 6pm on Friday,and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet.
I am writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later.
Here’s the thing.
I have a dog Janet, and she’s been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now.I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then ,an adult offi
cially – and she was my child.
She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face.
She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.
She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight ,or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.
Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact.
We’ve lived in numerous houses, and jumped a few make shift families, but it’s always really been the two of us . . . .
She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head . . . .

#5 – Success
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Maya Angelou

Have a lovely weekend!

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Goldfinch molting

Photos by Linnell Chang

“Whatcha lookin’ at, lady?” the bird seemed to say crossly as it stared back at me. A rather rotund, but scraggly-looking bird sat on the ground, hardly moving, not even as I approached it. “It must be sick,” I said to myself as my brain tried to recall information on local bird rescue groups and as I considered the possibility of West Nile Virus. I sat there watching it for several minutes, willing the little bird to move, “Come on little one . . . get going . . . fly away.” And it finally did, but not very far. Sitting on a weeping cherry tree branch, five feet away from its original spot, the bird posed for my camera and dared me to observe it more closely. I noticed its feathers were dingy and bedraggled-looking. Some stuck out at odd angles on his head and neck.  Since some Goldfinches molt twice a year, I thought, “Maybe it’s molting.” I am hoping this is the case – that this little bird was merely changing into the fall version of its beautiful self.

#1 – Begging For Change
Holding a sign scrawled with the word “Change” and a small tin can, a homeless man sits on the pavement in front of a store. Is he asking for change, as in money, or for change, as in changing the world? Watch this 10 minute movie, written and directed by Sharon Wright, and think about her message.

#2 – Sugar High
How apropos that I came across this infograph the day after Halloween. With my own sweet tooth trying to sway the decision as to what to do with the leftover candy, this graph helped me change my mind. The candy is going to my husband’s office!

SugarGram

 #3 – Be the Change

Hurricane Sandy rescueMohatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” We’ve seen the images and read the stories of the brutality of Hurricane Sandy. Now is our chance to “be the change” – to help change someone’s life. Check out How You Can Help After Hurricane Sandy and consider making a donation.

Hurricane Sandy dog rescue Sadly many evacuees left their homes quickly and either could not take their pets with them or became separated from them. For many people who have lost everything, they anxiously want to find and be reunited with beloved pets. To read about and to find ways to help with animal rescue as a result of Hurricane Sandy, check out these links:
Red Rover
North Shore Animal League
Hurricane Sandy Lost and Found Pets
Petfinder

#4 – Light Graffiti

TCB Light Graffiti

Light Graffiti by TCB, Twin Cities Brightest

In art, light is a key element. In light graffiti art, light is THE most important element, for in a mere second light can change the entire piece of artwork. Squiggles, curves, and lines of light create focal points, movement, and color that are captured in photographic compositions. Much imagination and skill goes into creating light graffiti. You can see spectacular examples in Light Graffiti: 10 Masters of Light Photography. Pablo Picasso is one of them.

#5 – Change
Life is change. Growth is optional. Choose wisely.
William Somerset Maugham

This weekend, change something for the better!

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Oooo . . .

how dark it was . . .

how dread it was . . .

walking the road

to the end of the town . . .

for the halfway tree . . .

the Ghost-Eye tree . . .

was feared by all . . .

the great and the small . . .

who walked the road

to the end of the town . . .

Rounding the bend and seeing the Ghost-Eye tree, that I had imagined many years ago, those words from a children’s book fluttered back into my consciousness. Deep-cut bark created a pattern reminiscent of some exotic animal skin, while twisted gnarly branches became sinewy “arms” that, in a moment’s notice, could reach out and snatch someone. Old branch scars bulged out like “eyes” keeping watch.

When my children were young, I would dramatically read them the tale of The Ghost Eye Tree by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault. They loved the scary story of a little boy and his sister who were forced to walk past the dreaded Ghost-Eye Tree in order to fetch a pale of milk on the other side of town. I always told my children it was just make-believe, that there was no real Ghost-Eye Tree. But standing in front of this tree, I realized I was wrong. The Ghost-Eye Tree exists in my imagination because someone planted the seed about it, but my imagination took it a step further and applied it to reality. The notion that minds can convert things in our imagination into reality is powerful. So much of progress and change stems from seedlings in our imaginations. Keeping our minds open to possibilities is what makes the impossible possible.

#1 – Make A Difference
Make a Difference Day Everyday is an opportunity to change lives and to make a difference in this world. But imagine a day when a nation collectively strives to make a difference. On October 27th join others around the nation and participate in Make A Difference Day: National Day of Doing Good. Click here to search for a Make a Difference Day event near you. It does not matter whether what you do to help is on a large or small scale. It just matters that you’re making a difference.

#2 – Virtual Choir


Using his imagination and creativity, composer Eric Whitacre gathered over 2,000 video submissions on You Tube and engineered them into a virtual choir. These beautiful voices from around the world sing together in perfect peaceful harmony.

#3 – Inspired Writing
Short Story Ideas When was the last time you sat down and wrote something for the sheer enjoyment of writing? A document for work or an expository piece for school certainly does not qualify on this count. Go to Short Story Ideas and click on the button that says “Inspire Me!” Three random words will appear in a small white box. Using those words as a source of inspiration, start writing. If you need more inspiration or a different type of inspiration, click on any of the headings in the toolbar at the top. For example, if given the first line, “It was never going to be an ordinary day” or if given the setting, “A bus stop is the location, money is the root of all evil is the theme. A fur coat is an object that plays a part in the story,” what would you write about? Let your imagination flow. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect or well-thought out. It will not being graded or looked at by anyone else but you, so write because it’s fun, challenging, and good exercise for your brain!

#4 – Advice To Your 15-Year-Old Self
Arianna Huffington Advice Using your imagination, go back in time. Go back to when you were 15. What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self? What things do you wish you’d known back then? In honor of the International Day of the Girl, CNN collected these inspirational thoughts and reflections from remarkable women around the world. Read each of their Things I’d Wish I’d Known.

#5 – Speak Your Truth
“Speak your truth even if your voice shakes. By being yourself, you put something beautiful into the world that was not there before. So walk your path confidently and don’t expect anyone else to understand your journey, especially if they have not been exactly where you are going.”
Marc and Angel Hack Life

Have a wonderful weekend!

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