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The Lotus Flower April 30, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance, Nature.
16 comments

Yesterday, we bought a painting of a Blue Lotus . . . gently unfolding.  We hung our purchase above the sofa as a reminder to stay in the moment and let the path unfold before us. 

This morning, inspired by the painting, I researched the Lotus Flower and its symbolism in the Buddhist religion and learned: 

The roots of a lotus are in the mud, the stem grows up through the water, and the heavily scented flower lies pristinely above the water, basking in the sunlight.

This pattern of growth signifies the progress of the soul from the primeval mud of materialism, through the waters of experience, and into the bright sunshine of enlightenment. 

According to another scholar, “the heart of the being is like an unopened lotus: when the virtues of the Buddha develop therein, the lotus blossoms.”

Excerpts from: The Lotus Symbol in Buddhism.

The color of the lotus impacts the symbolism associated with it:

White Lotus:  A state of spiritual perfection and total mental purity.

Pink Lotus: The supreme lotus, reserved for the highest deity ~ the Great Buddha himself.

Red Lotus: The original nature and purity of the heart ~ the lotus of love, compassion, and passion.

Blue Lotus: The victory of Spirit over the senses ~ true inner wisdom and knowledge. 

Ahh . . . a Blue Lotus, symbolizing the victory of spirit over the senses . . . and the dawning of inner wisdom. 

What a wonderful symbol to have hanging in our living room. 

And, now, for a surprising twist to our tale ~ turns out the painting we purchased yesterday is an Agave Flower, not a Blue Lotus! 

The Agave Flower, a succulent, grows in the desert, not in the mud beneath ponds. 

And . . . it has thorns!

Rather than being dismayed by this turn of events, I’m delighted.

Not only will the new painting remind me to let life unfold . . . 

It will also remind me to bloom where I’m planted . . .

And embrace all with joy!   

Namaste!

Agave Flower by Jill Barton

A Beacon in the Dark April 30, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery, Mindfulness.
10 comments

By remaining open and receptive to the moment, we allow ourselves to be gently steered and guided to what we need to know, see, hear, or do next.

Our attention may be drawn to a book we need to read, a person we need to meet, a conversation we need to have, or a classified advertisement we need to see ~ if we listen to the whispers of spirit, anything in life can be our guide.

When something grabs your attention, pay attention ~ it may be the answer to your prayers . . . the key to achieving your dreams.

Likewise, when you do NOT want to do something that you feel you “should” do, pay attention ~ perhaps the greater good of all will be advanced if you choose to “drop this ball” and allow it to roll into someone else’s court. 

Spirit Lights The Way ~ it is our beacon in the dark, our guide through the infinite possibilities and the uncertainty of life.

Silence the mind.  Just Be.  Focus on your breath . . . allow your inner wisdom to surface.

No rules.  Just write!

Related posts:  Winks, Whispers, and NudgesMeditation 101 * Sail Without Fear * The Gift of Synchronicity * Synchronicity & MysteryWay of the Peaceful Warrior * Access Your Inner WisdomAre You OK Right Now? * Divine Inspiration in Unlikely Places

Ripples On The Water April 29, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Life Balance, Poetry.
10 comments

In the constant thread of life
We are connected in all we do
Spread love and joy to others
And love will return to you

Everything you do, even the simplest act
Spreads ripples on the water, that keep coming back

Ripples on the water
Like waves upon the sand
Will return to you
Again and again and again

Causing someone else to smile creates a chain reaction
Your spirit benefits from each of your positive actions

Practice random acts of kindness all along the way
The positive feelings generated will return to you one day

Ripples on the water
Like waves upon the sand
Will return to you
Again and again and again

If you brighten someone else’s day, making their load lighter
Positive energy will return to make your future brighter

Maximize your happiness by helping those you meet
It’s as easy as sharing a smile with everyone you greet

Ripples on the water, like waves upon the sand
Will return to you, again and again and again

Related:  Generosity of Spirit * Good Vibrations * Do You Like What You See

Top Ten BETs April 28, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Exercise & Fitness, Life Balance, People.
6 comments

The  T.O.A.D.Y. awards got me thinking about BETs . . . Best Ever Toys!

Unlike high-priced molded plastic office cubicles, BETs entertain for hours with low or no start-up costs ~ nothing on my list costs anywhere near $2,599!

* BETs get the blood pumping and/or the imagination soaring by moving kids off the sofa and away from TV and video games.

* BETs encourage kids to entertain themselves . . . rather than passively being entertained by the latest techno-gadget.

* BETs encourage kids to interact with the world and each other as they stretch their imaginations and learn to “play nicely” and “take turns.”

These BETs do what toys and games should do ~ let kids be kids rather than consumers:

1. Frisbee ~ great for any size group.  Toss back and forth for 2 players.  Form a triangle with 3 players, or a pentagon with 5.  Play Monkey in the Middle with 3 or more players.  Set up a target and see who can hit it with pin-point accuracy.  Catch behind your back.  Get the dog involved.  Play Frisbee golf.  Take your Frisbee with you to the beach, the park, or the schoolyard.  “Run, Sally, Run!  Catch that Flying Saucer!”

2. Chalk (for pavement) ~ any number of creative uses.  Sketch out a Hop Scotch Board, find a couple of pebbles to toss, and practice your balance and coordination alone or with friends.  Play Tic-Tac-Toe ~ filling the board with Xs and Os.  Play Wheel of Fortune ~ take turns guessing words and phrases by filling in the blanks.

3. Tennis Ball ~ like Frisbee, a small tennis ball is great entertainment for any size group.  Catch for 2 or more.  Monkey in the Middle for 3 or more.  High Throw ~ see how high you can throw it and still catch it on the rebound.  Long Throw ~ see who can throw it the farthest.  Toss and Clap ~ toss, clap once, and catch . . . toss, clap twice, and catch . . . take turns and see how many times you can clap without letting the ball drop.

4. Hide and Seek ~ great for indoors or out.  No equipment necessary ~ other than a few available hiding places.  Everyone can play.  Other games which can be played with no equipment:  Mother May I? *  Simon Says * Cemetary (the object is for everyone to lie as still as a corpse while “it” tries to make them move, for example, by making them laugh).

5. Hide the Thimble ~ excellent for quiet indoor play.  Whoever is “it” takes a thimble (or other small object) and “hides” it in plain view.  No stuffing it in drawers, pockets, or behind curtains.  The thimble has to be visible  to the seekers as they quietly walk around searching for the object . . . without moving or touching anything else.  Whoever spies the thimble first gets to hide it for the next search and rescue mission.

6. Jump-rope ~ excellent way to burn off calories and energy while toning muscles.   Kids can learn short poems and rhymes to recite while jumping or they can count each revolution of the rope and see how high they can go.  One thousand sixty-six . . . one thousand sixty-seven . . .

7.  Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys ~ after a small initial investment, these building toys allow kids to create villages, playgrounds, houses, towers, or whatever is needed for the day’s activity.  Both allow kids to use their imaginations to construct (and de-construct) fantastic temporary creations.

8. Crayons ~ like chalk, crayons can provide hours of entertainment on a rainy day with nothing more than a few sheets of paper to write on.  Color your favorite scenes.  Write a short story, poem, or thank you note.  Draw your favorite place, animal, or thing in the world.  Play word games.  Practice addition, subtraction, or multiplication with number games.  Doodle fantastic creatures . . . like Dr. Seuss.

9. Deck of Cards ~ inexpensive and portable fun for kids and adults.  Starting with simple games, like Go Fish and Old Maid, kids can learn number recognition as they play.  War teaches relative value (7 is greater than 5, and 3 loses to 4)  without relying on graphic depictions of blood and gore.

10.  ????

You tell me.  What are some of your BETs ~ Best Ever Toys???

Aah . . . BETs are better!

 

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics April 27, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Mindfulness, People, Word Play.
4 comments

People love to throw statistics and emotional arguments around to support their own point of view and get people riled up about nothing.

I saw a commercial about autism which compared the number of children diagnosed with autism (1 in 166) with the number of children who are killed in fatal car crashes (1 in 23,000).

Using that as the starting point, it proceeded to argue that . . .

Wait!

This is a perfect example of using flawed statistics to prove a point.

If you are talking about fatal car crashes, then you need to compare that with fatalities from autism, not the number of children diagnosed with autism.

Childhood fatalities from car crashes:  1 in 23,000

Childhood fatalities from autism:  a whole lot less!

Don’t be persuaded by someone spewing statistics in your direction.  First, look at what the numbers represent.  If they are comparing apples with oranges, ignore them.

There are three kinds of lies:  lies, damn lies, and statistics.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

No rules.  Just write!

Eat, Pray, Love . . . Tie the Knot??? April 27, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Mindfulness, People.
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How does an author follow up a smash international bestseller that has catapulted her from obscurity into fame and riches she never dreamed of?

Very carefully.

So says Amy Sohn of Publishers Weekly, in her recent editorial review of Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest book:  Committed ~ A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.

In Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert took us on a round-the-world tour from Italy to India to Indonesia, as she healed from a painful divorce.  In Italy, she ate piles of pasta.  In India, she meditated to gain clarity.  In Bali, she fell in love with Felipe ~ a divorced Brazilian-born gem seller with Australian citizenship.

Determined to avoid the potential pitfalls of marriage a second time, Gilbert and Felipe agree not to tie the knot with each other.  Instead, they exchange vows of fidelity in private without inviting friends, family, church, or state to witness their oaths of allegiance to one another.

Of course, life is what happens while we’re busy making, or not making, plans.

In Committed, Gilbert (who Time magazine named one of the one hundred most influential people in the world) embarks on another journey ~ an inner quest to make peace with matrimony after US Immigration officials stop Felipe at the border and refuse him admittance . . . unless and until he and Gilbert agree to get {gulp!} married.

In an effort to come to terms with the institution, Gilbert explores the rather fascinating history of marriage across the miles and ages:  from the tribal days of the Bible’s early testament (when marriage was both condoned and encouraged by church elders) through the early days of the Christian religion (when church elders frowned upon marriage, and actively discouraged men and women from exchanging marital vows with one another) through the present time.

As in Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert shares her journey with wit, wisdom, and subtle humor peppering her prose.  One of my favorite sections is the list of her worse character traits, which she presented to Felipe as a kind of “prenuptial informed consent release.”  Among her self-proclaimed flaws:

I think very highly of my own opinion.  I generally believe that I know best how everyone in the world should be living their lives ~ and you, most of all, will be the victim of this.

I have far more enthusiasm in life than I have actual energy.  You will be the one burdened with the job of mopping me up every time I’ve overextended myself and then fallen apart.  This will be unbelievably tedious.  I apologize in advance.

I am openly prideful, secretly judgmental, and cowardly in conflict.  All these things collude at times to turn me into a big fat liar.

While not as smooth and flowing a read as her first bestselling saga, Committed is an intriguing look beyond the surface into the sometimes murky (and quirky) depths of marriage we encounter when we “take the plunge.”

C’mon in . . . the water’s fine.

Freedom April 26, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Nature.
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Freedom is both a right and responsibility.

To be free, we must make conscious decisions ~ not act like ostriches sticking our heads in the sand while remaining ignorant of the true impact our actions and choices have on the planet.

Yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time on the issue of animal rights and animal advocacy.  I watched the Genesis Awards and visited the Humane Society of the United States to see what HSUS has been doing lately.

To encourage others to get educated on the conditions at factory farms, I posted links to HSUS articles both here and on Facebook.

I watched a few very disturbing videos shot under cover on factory farms, and posted links to them on my Facebook page, with preambles:

VEAL PRODUCTION:  If you choose to eat veal . . . you are contributing to this shocking cruelty. Boycott veal today. Stop Factory Farming!

To view video:  Abused Calves at Vermont Slaughter Plant

EGG PRODUCTION:  This is not the case of one ROTTEN egg ~ but an industry that is out of control. Before you crack open another egg . . . watch this and see the suffering that hens endure on factory farms.

To view video:  Appalling Cruelties in Egg Production

I’ve never argued that eating animals is morally wrong or a sin ~ but the way we treat animals on factory farms sure is.  The way some factory farmers have chosen to exercise “dominion” over animals is horrifying.

Even if I didn’t have an ounce of compassion for animals, and cared only for human health and well-being, I would still urge our legislators to shut down factory farms.

The way our food is being produced is disgusting and unhealthy.

Animals walk around in their own feces.  Animals too sick to walk are slaughtered and sold to consumers.  Geese are force-fed with tubes stuffed down their throats to produce Foie Gras.  Eggs are laid in germ-riddled environments, next to the mummified remains of dead chickens which haven’t been removed from battery cages.

Factory farms are able to confine large numbers of animals in squalid indoor facilities only through the continuous use of antibiotics.  When we choose to eat animals raised in these deplorable conditions ~ we are ingesting those antibiotics.

Animals on factory farms are also fed growth hormones in order to get them to the table as quickly and cheaply as possible.  When we choose to eat the animals, or feed them to our children ~ we are ingesting these growth hormones along with the meat.

For more information on how our food is being raised, check out Food, Inc.  or The Food Revolution by John Robbins.

Processing plants and slaughter houses are no better than chicken houses and puppy mills in terms of lack of sanitation.

If someone loves eating veal ~ they don’t need my permission to keep eating veal.  I’m certainly not going to try to stop them using physical force.

But if they want to exercise their right to free choice in a conscious and deliberate manner, they need to look beyond the shiny supermarket packaging to see what’s really in that veal ~ they need to look long enough that they actually see the suffering they are contributing to.

Then, if they still want to eat veal, they can quote Ayn Rand while doing so.

Quote:   The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me. ~ Ayn Rand

Related Posts:  Go HSUS!  All The Gory Details * Top Ten List ~ Go Vegetarian

What The World Really Needs April 26, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Less IS More, People.
50 comments

Time and energy are limited resources.

Attempting to help out with every “good cause” that comes our way is not an effective use of our limited time on this planet.

If we all attempt to “get involved” with every problem facing the planet, nothing will ever get done ~  none of us will be educated enough (or have time enough) to find workable solutions.

Instead, we’ll just spin our wheels until we become exhausted . . . long before sustainable solutions are reached.

In contrast, when we choose to focus only on those issues we are passionate about (and refuse to get sucked into every problem tossed our way), that concentrated inner passion energizes us to educate ourselves about the issues so that we can work  effectively with others of like passion to find workable solutions.

Each of us has different strengths and weaknesses.  We should all care about the world, but we can do so in different ways.

We can’t all be Mother Teresa . . . that was her job.

We need some people to care about animal welfare, while others focus on developing sustainable energy solutions, improving health care, ending poverty, and promoting fair trade.

If we each select only the causes which interest us most, the ones that touch our hearts, we funnel our energy (instead of diffusing it) ~ increasing the odds that we will contribute to creating effective solutions for the planet.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote:  Don’t worry about what the world wants from you, worry about what makes you come more alive.  Because what the world really needs are people who are more alive.  ~ Lawrence Le Shan

Related:  Generosity of Spirit * Live Your Life * Creating the Essence of Feeling Alive (T4D)

Go HSUS! April 25, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Nature, Sustainable Living.
2 comments

Not long ago, I received an invitation to join “The Real HSUS” on Facebook.

Intrigued, I went around to take a peak.  After reading through its mission and some of the group’s comments, I hit the “Reject Invitation” button.

“The Real HSUS” group on Facebook describes its mission as follows:

When you think of the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) you think of the nice people who save all the little kittys and doggys on TV.

No. The HSUS in a anti-beef activist group who’s main goal is to “abolish all animal agriculture” They belive that eating meat is bad. They belive that ranching is bad. They say that animal ag is inhumane and unsafe. That we are cruel to the animals that we raise.

This group is here so that the public can hear our side of the story. This is not a hate group, just us, us putting out our side of the story so people will know what we stand for and what we do.

After reading that introduction to “The Real HSUS” Facebook  group, I went round to the HSUS to see what it had to say about its mission.

Fact and Fiction: The HSUS Mission is an excellent overview for anyone not familiar with the work of the Humane Society of the United States:

There are people within animal abuse industries and their allies who keep trotting out the canard that Americans think they are giving to animal shelters when they donate to The HSUS. We’ve never said we run animal shelters—just that we help them run better with our many programs. But we’ve always been more than that…. For more than a half century, it’s been the mission of The HSUS to work for all animals.

So, what kind of work does the HSUS do?  Glad you asked.  Straight from the pen of Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS:

The HSUS has program departments devoted to animal research issues, companion animals, equine protection, farm animal welfare, and wildlife and habitat protection.

Our website is a compendium of information on our animal care centers, our veterinary programs, our global work on spay and neuter and the wildlife trade, our disaster response deployments in Haiti and other parts of the world as well as across the United States, our advocacy campaigns (puppy mills, factory farming, animal fighting, seal killing, wildlife abuses, and the exotic pet trade), and so much more.

Reading through A Humane Nation (Wayne’s Blog as spokesperson for animals) gave me a chance to learn about:

Abuses in the Egg Industry

The Inhumane Treatment of Animals on Factory Farms

Humane Solutions to Wildlife Issues

The Recent Supreme Court Decision on an Anti-Cruelty Law

Good News from Virginia (cockfighting convictions), California (saving bears), Hawaii (banning trade in shark fins), and Alaska (the passage of stronger anti-cruelty laws)

Actions to help animals and the environment on Earth Day & Every Day

Passion and Compassion in Action

Bio-Medical Research on Animals

Force-feeding Geese to Produce Foie Gras . . . or should that be Foie GROSS

A Happy Ending for Gentle Ben after years of abuse at a Puppy Mill

Public Reaction to Wayne’s Blog Posts

Cracking down on Animal Trafficking with CSI Techniques

Cut Backs with a Conscience

Shutting down Puppy Mills (which maximize profits by neglecting animals)

How “FOOD, Inc.” exposed the rampant abuse of power that has resulted in an inefficient, polluting, degrading, cruel, and unhealthy food system in the US.

Reaction to the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Anti-Cruelty case

Wow!

After reading through just SOME of what the HSUS has done to advocate for animals in the past 10 months, I’m satisfied that my donations to the HSUS are being put to good use . . . even if not a single dime makes it to local animal shelters.

Pluto-RollerskatingLocal animal shelters can raise their own funds to support their rescue missions . . . but how would a goose with a force-feeding tube stuck down its throat speak up on its own behalf?

No rules.  Just write!

Do You Like What You See? April 24, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Magick & Mystery, People.
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Hand-dipping-in-waterMany Eastern religions accept that our actions, like ripples on water, have Karmic consequences. 

The sit-com, My Name Is Earl, presented Karma and it’s “ripples” to mainstream America.  

Even if we don’t believe in Karma, our actions have consequences since they impact what we think of ourselves when we see “the man in the mirror.”

So, before tossing that stone, we may want to pause and consider whether our intended action mirrors who we want to be:

 All of your life, you’ve run the other way
You never stayed to listen to what others had to say
Determined to ignore their expectations
Determined not to form any aspirations
Determined not to act with consideration
Determined not to hear their recriminations

Think about your past actions ~ do you like what you see?
And are you becoming . . . the man you hoped to be?

Run all you want, but you can’t hide
From thoughts you harbor deep inside
Those thoughts wait to guide you in all you do
Listen to your heart, it’s calling out to you
Be guided by the heart in all you do
And to thine own self be true

Think about your past actions ~ do you like what you see?
And are you becoming . . . the man you hoped to be?

Once you act, you can’t erase what you’ve done
Your actions shape who you become
Your actions define your destiny
It’s impossible to act with impunity
Past actions exist for eternity
And they determine who you’ll be

Think about your past actions ~ do you like what you see?
And are you becoming . . . the man you meant to be?