The infinite loveliness of nothing

There is a certain loveliness in nothingness, in unencumbered stillness, in silent empty space. In this absence of something there is a void that aches to be filled. Therein lies potential and that potential is infinite.

At least I tell myself this as I sit at the back door watching the trees dance in the wind. It is early morning and I am in the process of appreciating some idle time.

I still wake up at 4:45 a.m. A feat that has taken this once proud night owl years of cultivation to achieve and I will get as much down time as I can get even if it is in the early morning. Nothing lasts forever and this extra time will not.

In order to appreciate this time that I have seized for myself in an act of desperation, I must engage myself in the art of doing nothing.

My last job was in itself a culture of stress. I worked in a very busy call center in the public safety sector. There was high expectations and a rigid adherence to numerous and various state laws and regulations that required me to make statements that made callers confused and upset, this made customer service difficult at best. My days were timed to the tenth of a second, over one minute late and you have an “occurrence” and points were given, points that added up very fast for some and there was/ is a high turnover rate. I did well though. My calls were listened to and graded. I was thought of as smart and competent , I took  direction well and after a while I did start to sound like the others: A caller once told me I sounded like a robot.

I almost cried then.

There was a reason why I wasn’t the only one who had constant migraines there.

I felt I was drowning, gasping for air.  I felt desperate. An anger rose up in me that was not me at all.  This started to effect my relationships with my husband and family. I felt sick  to my stomach and my energy was zapped. I felt like a zombie just trying to get to the next day, to the weekend where I would try to cram as much living as I could in 2 days.

I bet my former coworkers would have been surprised to know that I am on the Autism Spectrum, I have masked it pretty well my whole life but that takes its physical and emotional toll on me and that job was not the best for someone with sensory issues, it may be one of the worst. 47 hour weeks of this for nearly two years did me in and burned me out. The job that gave me and my family health insurance made me sick.

 

Before I gave my notice I obtained a part time temporary gig in retail. It pays the bills, just almost. In the two months I have been there I have been much happier and healthier. I am getting myself back.


To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.
Lao Tzu

East bank of the Willamette River

Nothing gives birth to creation.

It provides the empty space for something to occur. Nothing is an empty cup waiting to be filled, it is up to us to fill it.

The only real commodity is time. We are selling hours of our lives for money. Money we need to survive. Most of us have no control over this and have to spend much of our lifetime devoted to that task.

There is no time for nothing. There is no blank canvas on which to create and on which to write the narrative of our lives. Some fortunate people have jobs that them happy, that happiness is reflected in their work and everyone around them can share in this happiness. They are excited to get up and start working for the day. I want to be one of those people.

I believe that I can contribute to society in a greater way than I am now, I should say in a better way. Whether I am baking bread, selling jewelry in a store or writing something that makes people laugh or cry or think.

This rat is so very tired of the race.

And so I sit here at the back door, feeding a few squirrels that have gathered. My mind has time to reflect, my writing voice is coming back, the one that has lain dormant for a few years. I hear it speaking in whispers, I can barely hear but I am listening.

SBI

 

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“And to tell the truth I don’t want to let go of the wrists of idleness, I don’t want to sell my life for money, I don’t even want to come in out of the rain.”

Mary Oliver

Plague Everyone with Joy

I wasn’t always so sunny and happy. People were always telling me to smile. I have noticed that my face will typically give me away and that when I’m lost in thought, which is often, it looks like I am angry.  I’ve made it a point to watch this. I have also made it a point to watch my thoughts.
For much of my life insecurities and doubt have plagued me. I have hurt myself with negative messages that became my mantra that ran constantly inside my head. This made me miserable. My negative energy attracted even more negative energy from others. I struggled with not being understood but it never occurred to me at the time that I also needed to try to understand others.
I decided to be kind to myself and forgive myself for being so very imperfect. I thought I could change my inner dialog to something positive and I looked for the good in me and told myself good things about myself, even if I didn’t believe them.  More importantly I took this same love and understanding that I was finding for myself and turned it outward. I made it my “job” to reach out and say something kind or supportive to people especially those who seldom hear that sort of thing. I made sure my compliments were honest and true. I learned that I could find something encouraging and positive to say to almost everyone.
 Not that this is easy all the time for everyone. I am a naturally shy introvert. It has taken many baby steps to get to where I am today. I have tried to plant tiny seeds of sunshine wherever I go.
And more and more I find these seeds have sprouted.
By spreading the love it comes back, absolutely. 
 I don’t mean to sound trite or come off with some well worn out syrupy platitudes.  I have heard people complain about the unauthenticness of the idea that thinking happy thoughts and that an attitude of gratitude is a cure-all. It is perfectly normal;  healthy, in fact to have a wide range of emotions including sadness. Emotions are colors on a palate and life is art. We as artists can make our lives masterpieces when we use a full range of hues.
That being said:
I find touches dark blues,  patches of deep purples and deep black hues to be in beautiful contrast to the soft pastels and sunny oranges and yellows, it is in that contrast that I find beauty in, but a little of those darker shades goes a long way. Life provides us enough of those. If I can, it is the sunshine I will spread.  Makes me happier anyway.
I can make the conscious choice of letting the darkness that hits me in life stop at me. This is how I cope with the crap that hurts me; with my refusal pass it on.
I am so blessed.
So if I seem a little pollyannish or silly remember I didn’t start out that way and that really, no one can be blissfully happy all the time.   Happiness requires the decision to be happy. Just the simple act of smiling is powerful magic in itself.  Science has shown that the simple act of smiling can boost your mood, lower stress, boost your immune system and possibly even prolong your life.
 I think to stay happy we need to spread that joy around like it’s the damn plague especially on those days when we do feel like crap.
So get out there and plague everyone you meet with joy.
Watch its boomerang effect come alive.

 

 
♥ Nancy

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We are not going to change the whole world, but we can change ourselves and feel free as birds. We can be serene even in the midst of calamities and, by our serenity, make others more tranquil. Serenity is contagious. If we smile at someone, he or she will smile back. And a smile costs nothing. We should plague everyone with joy.
― Swami Satchidananda
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Related and Unrelated Articles
 JOY to the World–Three Dog Night

 

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Happily Ever After

 

 

The wilds touch my back door. A part of them does anyway. Strangeish insects and unfamiliar Corvids enliven the “wilds”of my new backyard.  Tall skinny Evergreens surrounded by persistent English ivy. Small deciduous trees that await new spring leaves dot the landscape accented by bright green moss providing splashes of color that reminds me that spring really truly here.

A tiny brook babbles on by fifteen feet below. I can hear frogs in the morning and the friendly neighbor’s cat comes to greet me in the bright but cool sunshine. I am beginning to attune to my new atmosphere.

It is different here but I find much beauty in this newness.

I am now an apartment dweller. My big yard has been replaced by this woodsy spot with two cement slabs and the before-mentioned surrounding moss which will now serve as my garden area. I have three large pots, empty for now. I will certainly get more. Out of the thousands of plants in my old yard I brought only one; the meadow rue. It lies dormant under the soil in an indigo planter awaiting warmer weather.  It wasn’t a choice I wanted to make but in order to make a new life for oneself one must put aside the old.

I have done a lot of that lately; setting aside.

After a 17 year relationship I parted ways with someone who wasn’t good for me. My trusting nature and naivety paired with my wholehearted belief in redemption kept this damaging storm rolling much too long despite the, obvious to others, unhappiness it was bringing me. When living inside the eye of the hurricane; the epicenter of emotional and psychological abuse, you can’t see how bad it really is. Over time the abnormal can become the normal.

And a deep sadness can embed itself in you and you don’t realize how awful it really is in part because if you stop and do this it will break your heart and maybe you can’t go on. And so I put what I thought was a convincing happy face to the word and went on. Inside a hole grew and grew and in time, by the end of those 17 years, it was a giant gaping hole…a chunk torn out of me and beat to hell.

My yard which was in it’s entirety what I deemed my salvation would have to be left behind. My  cats too. Spotsy and my Mario would stay with the house and the yard and it’s owner. I left with my two kids ( 18 and 21 ) to go live in an apartment across town. A new place of sanctuary. A place of  freedom with my name on the lease.

It’s different but it is becoming home. Home is really in the people you are with not the place anyway.

I was fortunate to meet someone at work. An amazing person I knew that I knew the instant we met. I have been having the pleasure of getting to know him ever since. We all live together in this apartment that skirts the edge of this thin strip of urban woods.

There is a freeway that lies beyond it. I can hear the traffic, its steady hum sounds like the ocean to me, it is easy to drift to sleep to.

I feel free and happy and loved. I feel confident and hopeful, more than ever.

The hole in my soul is filled, love pours out and spills out into the world. I am grateful. I thank God everyday. I am blessed beyond measure. I have the opportunity to start anew and this I will do, This I am doing.

 

Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Winston Churchill

~nlm

George Harrison – What Is Life

The Serendipity Effect

 serendipity


 


rainbow art

Some say it finds you! 

Fortunate happenstance perhaps…good things coming by chance..happy accidents…

What is serendipity and where can I get some of that potent elixir?

 Serendipity is the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

 

Life is a fast paced, whirlwind of a trip with plot twists and turns, unexpected snippets of senselessness tempered with semi-predictable outcomes. I say semi-predictable because I am of the philosophy that we make our own destiny and that destiny certainly make us. We can prepare for and harness both what we can and cannot control to our best advantage.

 

It was Norman Vincent Peale who inspired us all in his wildly popular “The Power of Positive Thinking”

I have read this classic at least a decade ago. And it inspired me. Many truths are contained within the pages of books. Peale explains in this book that our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate.” I have taken this advice to heart…or mind, so to speak.  What we see and what we believe creates our reality.  Appreciation is key and what we think about what we already have taints whatever we encounter.  I never was always so positive as I am now. I’ve spent a great part of my life as a sarcastic cynic who believed that if I never believed in anything or anyone that I would never be let down.  I was ever wary, I had “seen it all”  I expected the negative and had no problem finding it.

I realized that if I wanted to change my life I would have to change myself and my outlook.  And I  decided to believe in all this, what I thought at the time was crazy mumbo jumbo because I really had nothing to lose.

 

We can recite platitudes, embracing their meaning but not truly believing in them. A lot of this stuff makes for excellent sound bites. We can sound cool and enlightened to our friends.  I known people like this who seemed to have something to prove by reciting every guru and free thinking wise person from Buddha to John Lennon.  Words can inspire but it’s what we do with that inspiration..

Serendipity is such a word.  It is inspiring, yes….

cat lady sunflowers friends pet
“Serendipity: Such a beautiful word describing the occurrence of events by chance. I like to think it’s the energy you put out into the world and the world returning your energy with love.” ― Steven Aitchison

 

I realize what I am saying may be construed as sounding too Pollyannaish  or too easy.  Real life is not like that. I know firsthand how damn ironically unfair it can be. I have found myself many times awestruck at life’s ironic unfairness. I could venture to say that a sense of humor helps but sometimes in life nothing seems to work and all the good thoughts and positive actions in the world cannot change that…

Ever have one of those days that start out horrid and end up atrocious?  No matter how well  intentioned and positive you are, you can’t win them all, no one can. That seems like a worthless platitude that doesn’t make anyone feel better. Truly it is only ourselves that can allow us to feel better.

 

Through our actions and reactions to events and nonevents we scatter seeds. Some get rooted deep in the ground long forgotten and some of those can seemingly out of nowhere erupt out of the ground and grow into something wonderful. It comes as such a surprise one can almost trip over it’s fantasticalness.
Serendipity isn’t what we find. It is not simply some pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. We can engineer serendipity by making something out of what we find, knowing this and then expecting to find it in the first place.

I could venture to say that positive thinking borders on the magical but it is not magic.

 

 

sun flower field sun happy nature

I think we can and do encourage serendipity by the choices we make, by our attitudes and by the way we treat others.  Put good out there in the world and with patience it will come back on you. Never stop believing, never stop putting your best possible foot forward.

I have seen people with good intentions try positive thinking and abandon it far too early expecting instant results. It doesn’t work that way.

Life runs in cycles, it ebbs and flows, no matter positive you are bad shit is going to happen to you. Conversely, so is the good shit, the trick is to learn from the bad and don’t take the good for granted…or too seriously. Goods things often take more than the power of positive thinking, no matter how powerful. Hard work,  perseverance and time with a pinch of luck makes the cake and when that’s topped with creamy optimism, the combination tastes like sweet success.

 

~NLM

people happy enthusiatic color confetti women

 

 

 

Serendipitous Quotes

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“Cultivate the art of maximizing serendipitous opportunities.”
Gina Greenlee

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“Success is three parts hard work and one part serendipity; this serendipity is a direct result of the other three parts of hard work.”
Ken Poirot

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“The way to happiness: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry. Live simply, expect little, give much. Scatter sunshine, forget self, think of others. Try this for a week and you will be surprised.”
― Norman Vincent PealeThe Power of Positive Thinking

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Related articles

SERENDIPITY was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754, inspired by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”
SERENDIPITY was coined by Horace Walpole in 1754, inspired by The Three Princes of Serendip, the title of a fairy tale in which the heroes “were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things they were not in quest of.”

 

Engineering Serendipity  (Nytimes.com)

10 Awesome Accidental Discoveries (popularmechanics.com)

George Harrison – What is Life 

 

Fresh Quotes: LOVE Hafiz

 The words of Hafiz:  How they enchant. They move, they writhe and wiggle up and down from right to left; dancing like crazy….inspiring me like crazy… Hafiz is another one of my favorite poets. Never mind he wrote these words in the 1300’s. They are timeless, ideas even more so.  Translation adds a twist to these quotes. Daniel Ladinsky does a superb job. It’s hard to tell how much of himself he adds to the text. I concentrate more on the pleasure of reading and the places my thoughts travel to, invoked by the ideas, the whimsy and the thoughtfulness.

LOVE is always inspiring. Poetry lends the power of words and ideas and Hafiz adds the magic. Enjoy!

The following quotes are by Hafiz

 heart of compassion art

Your heart and my heart
are very, very old friends

Arces Natural Park Utah USA night sky rock vista star
Arces Natural Park Utah, USA

I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being.

 

shadow morning sun woman

 You carry all the ingredients

To turn your existence into joy

moon vintage woman

“I caught the happy virus last night
When I was out singing beneath the stars.
It is remarkably contagious –
So kiss me.”

vintage love couple kiss dunaway_cornwellengagement_connection_photography_34_low kiss

Love sometimes wants to do us a great favor: hold us upside down and shake all the nonsense out.

 

Gustav Klimt’s The KISS art
Gustav Klimt’s The KISS

 ♥

Your love
Should never be offered to the mouth of a
Stranger,
Only to someone
Who has the valor and daring
To cut pieces of their soul off with a knife
Then weave them into a blanket
To protect you.

gif hawaii ocean sunset gold

The tide of my love
Has risen so high let me flood
over

You. 

a-single-rose-of-love woman love romance

How did the rose
Ever open its heart
And give to this world
All its beauty?
It felt the encouragement of light
Against its being,
Otherwise,
We all remain
Too frightened.

blue sky seed potential dandy

Let us be like

Two falling stars in the day sky. 

Let no one know of our sublime beauty

As we hold hands with God

And burn 

Into a sacred existence that defies –

That surpasses 

Every description of ecstasy

And love.

Hafiz quote Persian_Poet_  Love

hafiz

Hafiz (also spelled Hafez), whose given name was Shams-ud-din Muhammad, was one of the greatest of Persia’s mystical and lyrical Sufi poets. He was born in Shiraz in southeast Persia (modern Iran) c. 1320 and died c. 1389. He is affectionately known as “The Tongue of the Invisible”. His poems were artfully translated and interpreted by American poet Daniel Ladinsky.

Spiritual Sun  heart art radiate love

References and Related Articles and Recommended Reading 

Hafiz Bio (hafizonlove.com)
FRESH QUOTES: RABINDRANATH TAGORE 
Fresh Quotes: LOVE RUMI
"The Gift" Poems by Hafiz, The Great Sufi Master * Daniel Ladinsky
"A Year With Hafiz" Daily Contemplations * Daniel Ladinsky 

The Making of MAGIC

 

 

There’s much to be said for the way we look at things. Our vision is tempered by what we expect to see. Look for ugliness and you’ll find it, the same goes for beauty for both can be found in everything. It is the way we look at things which control what we see and how we see it.

We create our own reality. I know how that sounds; like some metaphysical mumbo~jumbo that seems profound and  wise but an idea that some of us may find difficult to grasp, myself included. Real life is the reality we live with every day. It can be cold and hard and can smack one right in the face.

If I had control of all reality…seriously…I would eradicate war, hunger and poverty, mean people and bad hair days too..all that stuff. Most of us would but that does not make it so. We can see the state of the world.  Who wants that? It’s so overwhelming and beyond anyone’s power and control but we can control some things.

And that is where the magic comes in…

 

Zenith_by_MescalineBanana art psych
“Zenith” By MescalineBanana

Yes…back on the magic. I realize you are sophisticated and have a certain sense of the world that is pretty much on target. I like to think of myself as an open-minded sort who is tempered with a fair amount of skepticism. I want to believe in Santa Claus and in unicorns and elves and giant talking trees. Do I really, truly believe? Perhaps not, but am I certain? Can I be 100%certain of anything?

 

unicorn random

 Any 

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Any minute now my knight in shining armor will pop up riding a unicorn and whisk me away from my life of drudgery.

😀

Not likely…but I do contend there is magic. This I know for sure.

Magic exists! I know for I have seen it. It is all around us.

gratitude-zen-life-coaching hands magic

“It’s all a matter of paying attention, being awake in the present moment, and not expecting a huge payoff. The magic in this world seems to work in whispers and small kindnesses.”
Charles de Lint

 ♥

 LOVE is magic…so is gratitude.

Attitude is everything: We choose how we feel; happiness is a choice and so is dissatisfaction. Pretty much we are as happy as we make up our minds to be.  I have found this to be true after much trial and error.  There was a point in my life a few years back when I very much needed this to be true…

..and so on blind faith born of desperation I believed. I willed myself to believe and I didn’t stop despite all my wishes not coming true.  I learned that my happiness cannot be based on outside forces. I had to stop reacting to life and start acting. My challenges gave me an insight I wouldn’t have had before; an appreciation for perseverance. A willingness to go the extra mile without a promise of reward, the strength to carry on despite it all….and through all this I believed.

 

gold sunset ocean sea light glitter

 

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and MAGIC in it.
W. H. Murray

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I am learning that the most direct way we create our own reality is by our own actions.  Action powers everything we do, everything we create, we are responsible for the kind of world we live in–all of us.

We can have a world where magic exists, we just need to create it.

 

art psych girl bubbles universe

I found happiness in gratitude and in taking pleasure in tiny things. Oh what a joy this has given me! It is a gift granted to me by circumstance.

 

 hands and moon

 

We can embrace these wonderfully human and magical traits like love and compassion, generosity, altruism and understanding. We can reach out to each other in friendship, our minds and hearts open. We need to stop paying attention to what we are told to think and believe and learn to trust in our own hearts and our own souls again.

These are natural inclinations.  Bring these into your life and miracles happen…

Magic happens…and it’s contagious.

Have a magical day!

 ♥

Nancy

 

 

web-of-lifeA-550 fantasy art

“When you’re touched by magic, nothing’s ever quite the same again. What really makes me sad is all those people who never have the chance to know that touch. They’re too busy, or they just don’t hold with make-believe, so they shut the door without really knowing it was there to be opened in the first place.”
Charles de Lint

 

 

Magical Related Articles

You Create Your Own Reality: Here’s How

Somewhere Over the Rainbow – The Wizard of Oz by Judy Garland

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo’Ole

 

Balloon flights in Turkey optimism sunrise happy sky

Whimsy

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast”
― Lewis Carroll

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Have you ever allowed yourself to be caught up in flights of fancy? Do you savor spontaneous moments, taking delight in the quaint and unusual?  Then perhaps you have partaken of the sweet nectar called whimsy.

I partake quite often as it seems; my thirst is seldom sated.  I suppose at times just plain reality can get boring and it certainly gets less stressful having somewhere fun in my imagination to wander to. This is helpful to me. I like to taste each tiny bit of delightfulness that comes my way….fortunately there is a tremendous amount in this world to delight in. I often find that it is in the small and mundane moments where I can find these sweet little pockets of joy. I believe there are deep veins of happiness out there….or in there just waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

Just the other day while I was singing along to the radio and washing the dishes my cat spontaneously jumps up and sits on the edge of the sink. He gazes up at me with an earnest intentness seldom seen in cats, at least that is what I imagine it is as I gaze back into those big green eyes. He doesn’t seem to notice the water droplets misting his black coat. I call him a crazy cat like I do in my sing-song childlike voice I reserve for animals and babies. I am delighting in the ridiculousness of the moment when MM comes in…the look on his face was priceless…this makes me laugh.

cat gets wet random
This is NOT my cat, although I wish it were and I know you do too..THAT is just like you.
Alas, we must be satisfied with worshiping this fine beast from afar

On certain afternoons in sunny spring I have been known to go down to the nearby park for a swing, stopping to smell the roses. I often talk to the urban animals I meet along my way, the crows especially since they tend to answer me back with caw caw  but squirrels and cats and other birds too are also fun to talk to. Thinking about it; I talk to plants as well, trees mostly. They are really quite friendly and so knowledgeable too.

To the outside observer I may seem to have lost my marbles but his is how I keep my marbles intact: through whimsy and imagination.

 I will at times travel to various exotic locations in impromptu flight of fancy. These turn out to be for the most part: sandy beaches and enchanted forests and luxury hotel suites with excellent room service, great deserts and fantastic views…as these are the places my imagination prefers.

Your imagination probably takes you to different spots, some very interesting ones I bet….

unicorn_meat_parts_diagram whimsy animal random

Whimsy is a natural high and it’s free. It lives inside us all. It cavorts with the inner child in the recesses of the imagination. Whimsy is kinda’ bummed out that it isn’t given the respect that it’s due. One could argue as to the  needlessness of whimsy but I contend that it is that very needlessness of whimsy that causes it to be important. It doesn’t take much to spare a little room for the unnecessary, whimsy included…in fact whimsy is so light and fluffy it hardly takes up any room at all.

Whimsy not only feels good, it can make those around us feel good too.  Most of us can relate to the absurd from time to time. Children love it. We adults tend to put that sort of thing aside for more mature pursuits and poor old whimsy is locked in the back of the closet never to be shown the light of day again. I think a lot people are fearful of looking like a fool or insane. Society generally frowns on the eccentric. Instead of caving to societal pressure I am taking this as a sign that I should embrace my eccentricities more fully and more publicly. The more of us “crazies” out there, the more acceptable it will to become to be one.

It is up to us mavericks to set the tone and say to the world: It’s okay to be silly, in fact it’s amazingly fun… and dammit why lose out on all the fun because one enters into the dreaded “adulthood”?  The act of fancifulness is sometimes seen as irresponsible. The world needs dreamers to dream the dreams that show us that reality is not always what we see and it really doesn’t have to be.  Reality is what we make of it.

Wishing you a really fantastical day!

Strawberryindigo.

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“Reality doesn’t impress me. I only believe in intoxication, in ecstasy, and when ordinary life shackles me, I escape, one way or another. No more walls.” 
 Anaïs Nin

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Urban animal encounters: Duck

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Hey squirrel, we dropped your nuts!

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Sounds of Whimsy

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I am the Walrus by The Beatles

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Big Rock Candy Mountain by Burl Ives

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The Art of Ridiculousness by SBI (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

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The Key to Happiness

I am glad to be here; to have a go at it. I am thankful for my body. For eyes that see blue skies and my daughter’s beautiful face. For ears that hear birdsong, soulful breathtaking music and the simple but profound words; ” I love you.” For hands that write poems and plant seeds and make cheesecake. For a brain to take it all in.

love-kiss-silhouette-photography-background-hd-of-love

I am thankful for friends and family…for LOVE ♥

For peace and understanding, patience and tolerance and for generous hearts and kind souls.

I am thankful for good people who do great things, for smiles and ice cream…for chocolate.

I am thankful for our fantastic planet. For apple trees and hummingbirds and summertime. For cats and mocha lattes with extra whipped cream. I am thankful for the scent of roses and a newly mowed lawn, for thunderstorms and fireplaces.  For kisses and sandy beaches…for oceans and sunsets.

beautiful heart_latte_art by wikipedia

I am thankful for happy thoughts and good intentions, for opportunity and hope. For dreams and the tenacity to live them out.

I am thankful to be able to share all these happy things with such wonderful people…like YOU…

smile

I am thankful I have another day of life in which to appreciate and to know that this is

THE KEY TO HAPPINESS

There have been times in my life I found myself waiting to be happy; waiting for this or that to happen. I’ve found that I don’t need a turkey to tell me to be grateful and everything doesn’t have to be perfect. There is so much in this incredible world to be thankful for…and I am thankful for that.

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What are You thankful for?  Let me know?

Strawberryindigo.

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“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.” 

― Maya Angelou

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Thank You by Led Zeppelin (YouTube)

Thank You by Dido (YouTube)

Free Hugs

I came across a picture today.  It was a drawing made by a someone I don’t know. I saw it online, I think it was in my Facebook inbox.  The artist’s name is written in the side. It is basic but genuine and to me conveys the most achingly beautiful sentiment.

and it sparked something…

I will sometimes get an idea for a post, but I won’t know actually how it will turn out.  It starts with a message I want to convey, whether it be simple or complex. Sometimes it can take days, weeks, months even. it just rolls around in that crazy head of mine waiting for something… a spark?  Something to give it life. Incidences will happen; little things, really of no significance but then one day–wham! It all fits together. This picture was a catalyst.

Love will show us the way by Art the System on Facebook

We share a collective consciousness. The good, the bad, the everything contained therein.

The best and worst of us is inside us all. We share so much. One important need is to give and receive love. We are an empathetic species that thrives on mutual understanding and cooperation. We need togetherness.

Newborn babies can die if denied love, it is ingrained in us, the need to reach out and be held. It is a basic and human need we first receive usually from our mothers and fathers. And it this need to touch to be touched lasts through our lifetimes. It is beyond sexual desire which in itself is powerful. It is grounding, it is humbling and uplifting.

The nurturing touch of a hug builds trust and a sense of safety.  Hugging relaxes muscles; releasing tension in the body. They can take away pain and soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.  Hugs balance out the nervous system and boost oxytocin levels, which heal feelings of loneliness, isolation, and anger.

“We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”

~ Virginia Satir

FREE_HUGS';_Tokyo

Hugs are wonderful. They are warm and innocent expressions of affection.  To me hugs are magical events.

free_hugs_2_by_dastalisa-d3adynw

They are hopeful. They are happy. They spread happiness.

'FREE_HUGS',_Notre_Dame_de_Paris

We have a human need to be wanted and valued and accepted. A hug is a demonstration of that.

There is much to be said about the power of a hug. I have noticed a trend as of these last few years of people with signs giving out free ones. It is a novel thing. it creates a bit of a spectacle and maybe it isn’t all that serious but it does make people happy. and it sends out a terrific message.

I have noticed with the passage of time that hugs are becoming more freely given and socially acceptable. When I was a child one rarely would see two men hug, these days it is commonplace. This is a wonderful thing.

It is such a wonderful thing and so is a kind word, a pat on the back and a smile.

Sometimes we don’t know the burden another may be carrying and cannot fathom how one simple act of encouragement from someone; a stranger even and what sort of positive impact that it can have.

If we all made a point of doing this;  reaching out to others even sometimes going  the extra mile to tell another person you care; whether it’s just an ear to listen.  Sometimes all people need is a release; someone to talk to and a little sympathy.  Sometimes it is a stranger, a person you will never encounter again, this does not lessen the quality of the interaction. Every positive interaction we have with another person makes them feel good and makes us feel good. it’s all good!

And just like rabbits these positive interactions spread and before you know it the room is of full of rabbits.

Try it you’ll like it. Hug someone today.

Strawberryindigo.

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“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” 
― Albert Einstein

English: 'FREE HUGS' in a marketplace, Chile
English: ‘FREE HUGS’ in a marketplace, Chile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

References and Related Articles

Why we need at least 8 hugs a day (mindbodygreen.com)

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5756/10-Reasons-Why-We-Need-at-Least-8-Hugs-a-Day.html

5 Ways to Hug  (wikihow.com)

 Miracle/soulmate (helioshub.wordpress.com)

The Magic of Youth

This post is designed to make you feel younger and if you don’t feel younger after reading this I promise to refund every penny you paid to enter this lunatic asylum.

What is eternal youth and how do we attain it?  This thought brings to mind Ponce De Leon and his futile search for the fountain of youth. This poor fool wandered all over Florida hoping he’d find this all elusive thing. A billion dollar industry is based on it. In our youth obsessed culture many are looking for this very thing; this endless and eternal youth. Well my friends I know the secret and I will share it with you now. You will be astonished and amazed to hear that just like Dorothy and her Ruby Slippers, you have had the power to go home all along.

Just what does make one young? How does one do it?  For me with each passing birthday I get younger and younger. So much so I will need a babysitter soon (or at least a keeper) and so what if there are enough candles on my birthday cake to start a 5 alarm fire?  It’s chocolate dammit!

I have found that youth isn’t on the outside..it’s on the inside. Youth is the way we feel and the older we get the more important it is to be young.

Would you believe?...this man is 96 years young...how does he do it? He credits a daily cigar, a shot of whiskey each and every morning and simply put; a love of life!
Would you believe?…this man is 96 years young…how does he do it? He credits a daily cigar, a shot of whiskey each and every morning and simply put; a love of life!

It is the joy of living that makes us young my friends. It is that intangible something that is born in our hearts and lives inside our souls. Youth cannot be found in a bottle or a jar of face cream. Youth is the happiness we derive out of being alive.

Youth walks barefoot in the dewy morning grass. It is whimsy and breathless awe. It is hope and dreams and fanciful schemes.  Youth is an ice cream cone with two scoops. It is fun and laughter. It is sweet music and tasty treats. It is cozy friendship and drinking hot tea by the fire on a cold winter’s night. Youth is tinged with the green of trees and colorful leaves. It is a red rose with soft petals. Youth is anticipation and excitement and trying new things. Youth is looking forward to tomorrow. It is the companionship of a beloved pet. It is kindness and warmth.  Youth is a boisterous red balloon. It is sunshine and a newly moved lawn. It is a tall glass of lemonade that packs a punch. Youth is a wide and open smile. It is making silly faces in the mirror. Youth is allowing ourselves to be ourselves.

Youth is chocolate and kittens and a good book. Youth is holding hands under the pale moonlight. It is hugs and tender kisses. Youth is watching butterflies flutter by and laughing at life’s ironies. Youth is love; love for the sake of itself…love that extends out to the whole world. Youth is forever!

It is that simple. It is pure and it is yours for the small price of just believing in it.

Forget what these naysayers say; youth is not wasted on the young. Go forth my young friends. Enjoy it!

Strawberryindigo.

play happy old man arthur%20ritis%203

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We are Young by fun (YouTube)

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Confessions of a Tree Hugger

Hey handsome, where have you been all my life?
Hey handsome, where have you been all my life?

I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”

 ― Sylvia Plath

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It is mid afternoon. I am in a anticipatory mood. I have come to this place with one idea in mind. It doesn’t take long to get here and soon I am upon it. I wear a look of solid intent mixed with quiet determination on my face. It is obvious. I am obvious.  I spy the object of my affection just out of the corner of my eye; tall, rugged and deeply handsome. I cannot contain myself any longer. I walk right up and just like that I wrap my arms around tight.

“This is good stuff”, I murmur.  MM looks at me, at us, like I am out of my mind. I don’t care. Nothing can spoil this moment.  I feel the energy pulsating through my body. This feels so damn good!  “You should try this” I say to MM who shoots me one of those looks he gives from time to time that says:  There she goes again.

I've decided to hug all the trees I want and not care what others think.
I’ve decided to hug all the trees I want and not care what others think.

I continue with my hugging. The tall Redwood seems to hug me back. I think it likes it. I call out to MM. I find he has wandered down the trail leaving me and the tree behind.

I am fortunate to live so close to this place, to such a specimen as this. Yes, as you probably have surmised I am tree-hugger and in the middle of a tree hugging session. I have heard the term tree hugger for most of my life.  The image of aging hippies chaining themselves to old growth timber and militant activists may comes to mind when one hears that term.

It was several years ago when I first tried it. I was alone.  I was walking in a park and then just out of the blue I got a notion, why not literally hug a tree? I thought, and then I did. It was just a quick one, I didn’t want anyone to see me and afterward I admit I felt somewhat foolish.  That sort of thing was frowned upon back then. It was the 90’s and everyone was caught up in a sort of angry angst that did not translate well into nature-loving.

I was intrigued and as I got older and discovered that I didn’t care much what others thought. It was much more fun to go with my eccentricities than just to fight them, but I didn’t speak of this tree hugging hobby much. It was a personal thing. It was between me and the trees.

“I couldn't live where there were no trees--something vital in me would starve.”  ― L.M. Montgomery
“I couldn’t live where there were no trees–something vital in me would starve.”
― L.M. Montgomery

I hear every so often tree hugger used as a derogatory term; something someone should be ashamed of.  There is nothing wrong with loving nature, it is so, well…natural.  Trees are part of the natural landscape. All this concrete and glass we surround ourselves is not.

I will proclaim right here, right now that:

I am a tree hugger and damned proud of it!

I wholeheartedly recommend this activity and if you haven’t tried it, you should. Don’t care what others think or if you get strange looks–do it anyway. Set an example. The tree will like it and you will too. I guarantee it! The more people hugging trees, the more it will become socially acceptable. We could start a movement!

So hug a tree today and don’t be surprised if it hugs you back!

view-through-my-eyes-tree-near-work.jpg

Have a lovely day!

Strawberryindigo.


Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

― John Muir

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**Related Articles**

Save The Trees (https://strawberryindigo.wordpress.com) One of my most popular posts!

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Redwood Trees May Help Battle Climate Change, Study Finds (huffingtonpost.com)

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Pictures: 11 Sacred and Iconic Trees (nationalgeographic.com)

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Chipko movement (wikipedia.org)

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Portland tree huggers attempt world record (oregonlive.com) (Way to go Portland!)

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Feeling Stressed? Hug a Tree (cronesapprentice.com)

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Hugging Trees and Gathering Inspiration (livegrownourishcreate.wordpress.com)

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Revising “CHIPKO (TREE-HUGGER) MOVEMENT” (indiagetgreenblog.com)
Français : indienne
Français : indienne (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Happy Distractions and Frivolous Nonsense

Canned Nonsense. Please have some...
Canned Nonsense. Please have some…

You can always find a distraction if you’re looking for one.~

Tom Kite

A-ha…yes, I am now back to more serious matters. I have had a good rest and now have woken up on the sunny side of the bed.  I promised this next post would be something lighter and hopefully I will come through on that…so far all I have is the title but as you can see it is a damn good one. So I am talking to MM about this. “So what will I write?” I ask. I seldom do this, I usually am full of ideas but today, well…lets just say I am open to anything.  MM doesn’t say a word, he is asleep so I must look elsewhere for inspiration and there he is. Who is he you ask? Why it’s Mario my famous cat.  He has just sashayed through the door from another night of carousing and now has the nerve to demand breakfast.  Just where has he been?  I wonder if he has a secret life?

Ever wake up to find  a scene like this?
Ever wake up to find a scene like this?

7 SIGNS YOUR CAT HAS A SECRET LIFE

  1. He stays out all night.
  2. You find lipstick on his collar.
  3. You get strange phone calls in the middle of the night consisting of heavy breathing and insistent mews.
  4. He has taken to wearing cologne–Salmon flavored. (there is something fishy here alright)
  5. He spends a lot of time grooming himself.
  6. He seldom has time for you anymore.
  7. You find that he has erased his text message history.

I know what you are thinking…Yes, I know my cat is famous and he is very busy. I realize this. You should see the amount of fan mail he receives but something has changed. We just don’t talk anymore like we used to.  I can’t remember the last time he took me out someplace nice. I asked him point-blank ‘What are you up to?”  He just stared at me with his big green eyes and then just plopped over and went to sleep. I don’t know what to do about this. If anyone has any ideas let me know. I will keep you posted.

Mario
Mario
Now on to more pressing matters…let’s play a game shall we…

In an effort to get back to some serious journalism. I googled the word “cute” and the word “disturbing” can you tell me which photos were featured under cute and which were deemed disturbing?

CUTE or DISTURBING?

This one is easy. Obviously cute.
This one is easy. Obviously cute.

CUTE OR DISTURBING?

nonsense monkey and bird cute love
I took liberties with this. This was actually under “cute monkey love”
This was listed under "cute"
This was listed under “cute”
This was also listed under "cute"
This was also listed under “cute”
Believe it or not, this was deemed "disturbing"
Believe it or not, this was deemed “disturbing”

smile random fact

😀

3 Little Birds by Bob Marley (YouTube)  A Happy Song!

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World Happiness Report 2013 (unsdsn.org) Do you live in one of the happiest places in the world?

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♥ Spread the LOVE!  Sign up to write love letters to people in need at MoreLoveLetters.com 

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Sometimes I just need to bury my head in the sand for a while and just let what is to be…be.  Time passes and events will occur, much of it is beyond my control.  It is a good thing to let out all the rage and dissatisfaction with events and writing has always been a therapeutic activity for me. I have appreciated the ongoing dialogue with you.  It is nice to know that I am not alone in my feelings about events in the world.  I will not be silent about my thoughts and feelings but there is a point where it becomes counterproductive .

While it is healthy not to keep feelings inside it is also healthy to know when to let go and turn my focus on what I can change.  Thanks for all the support my friends.

Strawberryindigo.

 

Come out and PLAY!

PLAY!!!

“O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults, but beneath the costume is the child we always are, whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales.”

―     Leo Rosten

Summertime is a bright and happy season. Like childhood it is full of promise and possibility.  Waking up on a weekend morning in summer, a gentle morning breeze tickles my toes and the early morning rays of that pale gold sun sneaks between the slats on the blinds. The birds sing a slow and hopeful song in the maple tree right outside my window. It is a glorious day!  It is the perfect day for some well deserved play!

Yes, a big helping of play today with a side of fun. This is a childhood activity that is sorely lacking in the lives of children, and adults.  We all need play. We all need fun.  It is a very real need that doesn’t disappear with age. In fact, playing and the subsequent fun that follows, helps keep us young.

PLAY helps keep us young!
PLAY helps keep us young!

 Webster’s Dictionary online has much to say about play.  Just the concept evokes many ideas and images. I found a wealth of activities that qualified as play, including but not limited to; swordplay, wordplay, sports play and sexual play too. The Concise Enclopedia, truly living up to its name, describes play as; actions have all the elements of purposeful behavior but are performed for no apparent reason.

While I respect the writers and editors at the Concise Enclopedia,  I must disagree with this very concise definition….I say play has a reason and the reason is very apparent and if it isn’t,  it soon will be…

“Just play. Have fun. Enjoy the game.”

~Michael Jordan

play happy_kids play

The Importance of PLAY

  • Play is a source of relaxation and stimulation for the brain and body. It is important to our physical and mental health. Just as getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. Play helps us relieve stress. It enables us to manage the day-to-day realities of life. It helps channel “negative” experiences and emotions into positive ones. Play is vital to good mental health.
  • Play encourages creativity by stimulating the imagination. It supercharges learning and is essential in developing problem solving abilities.
  • This act of play triggers a mix of endorphins that enlivens the mood and lifts the spirit.
  • Play connects us to others.  Sharing happiness and laughter promotes bonding between people.
  • Play brings joy, vitality, and resilience to relationships. Play can also heal hurt feelings, resentments and disagreements,
  • Playing together promotes a sense of safety and trust, trust enables people to work together and is essential to unity.

play flappers-on-rocks-beach-wear-t0f20

How do I play especially in public without looking like a complete idiot? My advice is to embrace looking like an idiot. At some point I’ve learned is that you have to stop caring what others think and just do it, whatever it is. If it isn’t harmful and destructive, why not?  I’ve always liked to swing on the swings in the park. In my twenties I thought I was too old, now I know better. Life is too short for hang ups like that. We all have an inner child in us. Some of us are in daily communication with this other self, some need a bit of coaxing to bring this child out.  I know from experience it is well worth the coaxing. Some of the most dour adults can transform into some of the most fun and best playmates if only given the chance.

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I guess sometimes a little “unrealness” can help us cope with the very realness of life. And besides, play is fun and who doesn’t need more fun?

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What do you do for fun? Do you still find time to play as an adult? Let me know. I’d love to hear what you have to say.

  Have a great day!

Strawberryindigo.

SMILE!

“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who doesn’t play has lost forever the child who lived in him and who he will miss terribly.”

~Pablo  Neruda

play happy-child-finds-joy in public domain

***References and Related Articles***

WE ARE YOUNG by FUN (YouTube)

TED TALKS: Play is more than fun it is vital

 Lifelong Games: Playing Together for Fun (helpguide.org)

 Why Play Matters (helpguide.org)

Health Benefits of Having Fun (about.com)

Definition of PLAY (Merriam-Webster.com)

5 Ways to Bring Happy into Your Life (lifehack.org)

Adults need playtime too (bookofmohs.com)

The Art of Ridiculousness (strawberryindigo.wordpress.com)

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