Archive for the ‘Inspiration’ Category

Connecting Wild Places 50 Years Later

close-up shot of endangered Bald Eagle head

endangered Bald Eagle

The Wilderness Act was signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson 50 years ago, to officially set aside and protect federal lands for conservation and preservation. From much smaller beginnings, there are now more than 100 million acres that are protected wilderness lands.

The next step is to try and connect some of these isolated islands of wilderness land, so species can move in natural patterns since we’ve built and developed so much space, encroaching on and often destroying such large areas. Wilderness Corridors will create a “Wildlife Refugia” protecting many millions of plants and animals, many of them endangered. We often think of endangered species as those in Africa or various global rain forests, but the issue of extinction is close to home, as well. As example, well over half of California’s fish, amphibians, and mammals and nearly half of all birds and reptiles are “at-risk.”

We’ve all been overloaded in our inboxes with year-end appeals for money for the causes and charities we support, and I know it is exhausting and just makes you want to hit the “DELETE” button…but leave your well-worn wallet in your pocket for the moment, and just commit to finding out more, and letting your elected officials know this is a priority. Half of the species endangered (and California is not an anomaly–so many species face next-to-impossible odds for survival)–can you imagine if tomorrow you woke up to only 50% of America’s birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish still with us?

Thats is NOT how we are going to do 2015!

Find out more here: www.wilderness.org

New Year’s Revolutions

converse-fieldsWell, here we are. The end of a year, the beginning of the next. It has that same weird space-time oddness as graduation, called commencement at the end of a term…is it the end or just the beginning?

Well, both, of course. And with this particular revolve of the planet, we tend to load the change of calendar year up with plenty of baggage and expectation and guilt.

New Year’s resolutions become funny memes on social media, expectations of failure before spring, gym memberships and step-tracking bracelets and diet books collecting dust once real life sets in…but there truly is no reason to be resigned about that. Success is just as likely a conclusion, and it can, actually, be easy.

What else is easy? Trying something new. Not trying EVERYTHING new, or mandating that you fix every flaw in your world as you pin the 2015 calendar to your wall. Just a thing. A single choice this single day. A decision to procure a big bottle that you’ll fill with water and drain each day.  Or (not “and”) a category of food you’d like to have less of in your overall meal plan. Or (not “and”) the taking of the stairs or parking at the far end of the lot. Or (not “and”) saving a few extra bucks here and there that add up over time. Or, or, or…

We need to cut ourselves a little slack. A lot of slack, actually. Trying on a new choice takes some getting used to, but how dull if we didn’t keep on trying new things, new choices, new ways of being. It is how we define ourselves, and redefine ourselves, perpetually. It’s one of our very coolest skills, and it has nothing to do with January 1st any more than March 28th or July 16th or yesterday or next Tuesday. Reinventing every day is the juicy stuff in life.

So, sure, use New Year’s as a line of demarcation simply because it helps us keep track. It is a culturally agreed upon Red Letter Day. But keep taking stock. I do Birthday Commitments more than New Year’s Resolutions, but they are nothing more than simple, private promises, and not doing them how I might have originally intended is not “breaking” a promise or resolution…it’s just trying something new.

So get all Elsa about it, and Let It Go…breathe. Oooh—that’s a good one—breathing more deeply more often during my days. I’m going to try that one today.

#GivingTuesday the Best Holiday

banner for Giving TuesdayHas your credit card been getting a workout this past week? OK–we made it through Black Friday, and Cyber Monday…a somewhat treacherous (to your wallet) path, but today you have arrived at the pinnacle event: GIVING TUESDAY. This one matters more than the others.

As a follow up to the rampant purchasing of STUFF, today, Giving Tuesday, has been designated as a time to give to those less fortunate than yourself. It is a campaign to create a NATIONAL DAY OF GIVING at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations. We had our day for giving thanks, a few days for getting deals, now it’s a day for giving back. It’s not just big organizations that are behind it, small, grassroots charities drive the engagement and power behind the movement. There are #GivingTuesday campaigns in countries all around the world, with thousands of partners with special initiatives and projects tied to this day, so it is super easy for you to get involved. Choose your favorite cause and give: time, money, both (or a commitment to show up and volunteer soon)…then spread the word…be audacious and vocal about your good deeds, it will inspire others. If you let us know what inspires you most and who you support, it helps us discover new gems we might embrace in our own charitable giving–and THAT is how you spread a movement!

Full of THANKS and GIVING

I am thankful you are here.

praying-to-the-sunsetMay this and every day bring reminders and nudges throughout your waking hours that help you be present to everything with which you are blessed, and may this and every day be truly filled with both THANKS and GIVING.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William Arthur Ward

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” ~Epictetus

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” ~A.A. Milne

I Like Laughter

book cover for I Like Giving stories about generosityI love this video, part of the “I LIKE ______” series from the non-profit I LIKE GIVING, working toward a generosity-based world.

It means a whole heckuvalot to shift, to look for opportunities to connect, to give, to reach. It needn’t be dramatic, but it accidentally, perfectly, will feel dramatic in your heart…as it should.

It’s a great time of year to activate shifts like these…a time when I hope your life is filled with both THANKS and GIVING.

 

Seriously? We Still Call This Columbus Day?!

child's drawing Nina Pinta Santa Maria Columbus DayI have moved across the country a couple of times, and it still surprises me, this particular day of the year, how, in the West, Columbus Day is not a thing, but in several places on the East Coast, it is still celebrated as a holiday (of sorts).

When I was a kid, this was a day off from school–which was ALWAYS a good thing–and leading up to it we learned about the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, maybe memorized a few lines about 1492, and that was about it. Alternatively, a New York Italian friend of mine is angered that we have ruined what, for him and so many, had become a heritage pride day. DOn’t get me wrong–I’m all for Italian or any other heritage pride–but not so much when it is labeled for one of the most ANTI of anti-heroes.

Many U.S. communities, and even states, have done away with mention of the explorer/marauder/genocide-in-the-name-of-kingdom perpetrator, and substituted Indigenous Peoples Day, or Native American Awareness Day–good choices, especially within the embarrassing context of professional sports teams that steadfastly remain so clueless and hurtful with their inability to grow up and evolve…

We’ve gotten some new holidays since my youth–Martin Luther King, Jr now has a day–a few have morphed–Washington and Lincoln are now lumped together to share one February “President’s Day”–and some seem to have gone away–not so many elementary school kids are making May Day baskets out of supermarket strawberry containers and leaving them on the doorsteps of elderly neighbors…and I don’t hear about Arbor Day recognition and activities on the playgrounds anymore (though I wish I did hear of it–any day is a good day to plant a tree)

If you’ve got the day off today, or have kids home from school, spend a little time discussing the evolution of who and what we choose to celebrate. There’s a reason we stopped celebrating the use of the atomic bomb on Japan with VJ Day (Victory Over Japan Day–ended in 1975)…now that we know Columbus was such a lousy S.O.B….isn’t it about time we caught up to what we already know is right?

I’m all for a day off, and fine if the banks and post office want to stay dark on a particular Monday, but really, shouldn’t it be because we are all proud of a thing–and not ashamed of a thing, like Columbus?

Happy National Dog Day!

Today, August 26, is National Dog Day.

I am re-posting from 2010 when we adopted our perfect rescued companion, Cooper, from a shelter we love in Connecticut. Since then, we also adopted Finn, the big blond bruiser whose picture follows (also from the same Connecticut shelter–links below). They are the best wrestling-tumbling-chasing-did-I-mention-wrestling-love-buckets on the planet.

Shelter Dog

This weekend, we went and adopted our own magnificent Black Dog from the amazing volunteers at the Danbury Animal Welfare Society. DAWS is a non-profit (they could sure use your support/donations–easy to do at the link here), no kill shelter, and is truly run by the most loving, caring volunteers. They made every individual and family member who came over the weekend (and it was super busy–the first spring-like weekend of the year with warm weather and sunshine) feel that among the busy buzz, they were important and maybe the perfect home for one of their adult dogs or puppies.

Our boy, Cooper, is a 2-year-old lab/shepherd…and Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Scooby Doo, and Snoopy combined ain’t got nothing on him. He is brilliant, and has found his last, forever home…and has truly honored us by being part of our pack.

I promise you there is a shelter near you that needs volunteer help. It is unheard of to have too many volunteers and regulars tend to be spread awfully thin. Wouldn’t it be a brilliant way to spend a morning or afternoon, bringing families together?

Finnyardcrop

Who in the World Gives the Most? Here Are the Top Charitable Nations

1381374_71397914With all the cynicism these days and distressing news domestically and internationally, it is a pleasant surprise to the jaded many among us that the United States has regained the distinction of being the most generous nation in the world…but in the recent report from the Charitable Aid Foundation World Giving Index, there are some definite surprises.

160 nations were examined in relation to the willingness of citizenry to volunteer, help strangers, and donate money to causes. The number one country in the world in these three criteria is, once again (after falling behind Australia in the recent past) the US, followed by Canada, Myanmar(?!), and New Zealand.  Among the top ten are a couple more that might not immediately come to mind: Qatar and Sri Lanka. 

Interesting to note, that in the Top Ten giving nations, the least popular category is volunteering. Bummer. Among all the nations, the highest rating for volunteer activities among the populace, is…drumroll, please…Turkmenistan.

Also interesting and also a bummer, global rates of all three criteria have fallen since 2007. We just don’t give money, time, or assistance like we used to.

Lots of good news here, too…The biggest jumps are, encouragingly, among the world’s youth, and generosity is on the rise in super-sized nations India and China!

What Happened to Gus Kenworthy and the Sochi Rescue Puppies?

Gus Kenworthy and Puppies of Sochi, image: Twitter @guskenworthy

Gus Kenworthy and Puppies of Sochi, image: Twitter @guskenworthy

Remember when Olympic freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy just about broke the Internet with his mission to rescue stray pups from the streets of Sochi, Russia? His Silver Medal performance took a back seat to the adoption ordeal as he tried to spring a few dogs from the Olympic Games host city’s men streets.

It took nearly a month, but with the help of his friend, Robin Macdonald, they were eventually able to get a few dogs back to America—a mother dog and her four offspring. A fifth littermate died before getting here, but the others were not stopped at the US border (like refugee children) and they are now part of the athlete’s inner circle. Kenworthy kept it a family affair, keeping two pups himself, Mishka and Jake, giving two to his brother, and the mother dog was adopted by Gus’ mom.

A quick spin around social media yields lots of recent pictures of Gus and his four-legged compadres (speaking of Padres–Kenworthy just threw out the opening pitch at a San Diego Padres baseball game–the evening was hosted by Petco adoption initiatives, called “The Dog Days of Summer.”)

When it is time to add some canine companionship to your family, be a true hero, like Kenworthy, and adopt, don’t shop, for a dog. Buying from large breeders feeds the cruel and inhumane puppy mill system, and is, in more cases than not, actually an irresponsible way to get a dog. Rescuing is the only way to go–and you will be rightfully proud for doing something amazing for dogs.

 

Rewild Your Life 30-Day Challenge

456641_87486155Social media is ablaze of late with 30 days of happiness, or 5 days of gratitude, or similar challenges we post to our circles in the hopes they will help keep us accountable for our forward momentum and results. I love these (love less the calling out of others in what gets dangerously near to a chain letter, participation coercion, no-way-out dynamic).

Here’s one (no pressure or guilt trips) I just learned of, though folks have been taking it on for a while. Rewild Your Life asks each of us to spend at least 30 minutes outside in nature for 30 days. We know it is good for us whether a strenuous hike, a session of surfing, gardening, a walk on a path, or eating lunch on a park bench. At least once over the next month of time, find a new place nearby you haven’t yet explored. Go check it out.

Non-processed air and natural sunlight (or rain or fog or clouds) better our mood, increase motivation, lower stress and anxiety, and profoundly affect our feeling of connectedness. I would add taking each of these opportunities to look for ways to connect with another while you’re at it. On the way to or from our slice of green for the day, make eye contact, smile, genuinely ask how someone’s day is going, hold a door, let that other car merge, tell the telemarketer no thank you in a calm way, leave a larger tip than you might, look up from your phone, ask someone to join you for your 30 minutes of rewilding…

If you do the official Rewild Your Life challenge, there are support systems, guidelines and suggestions, a social media community, even prizes from some cool sponsors.

Thank the day for being there. Thank nature for welcoming you.