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Photo Challenge ~ Round April 30, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Humor, Life Balance.
33 comments

”What are you ~ a god, an angel, a saint?”

“No,” replied The Buddha, “I am A-W-A-K-E.”

Related posts:  Weekly Photo Challenge: Round * Round (Creating Magic) * Round (The Laughing Housewife) * Round (Jeanne’s Blog) * Mirth & Motivation

Tending Our Gardens April 30, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Mindfulness, Spirit & Ego.
49 comments

As I read through the  comments on Checking Out, I realized how  society’s underlying  beliefs about life (and death) shade our views and skew our perspective.

We are easily influenced and manipulated . . . especially if we are not mindful of the choices we are making:

Social mores have much to do with our conditioning. We are “brainwashed” from birth. 

FREEDOM entails looking around and beginning to THINK for ourselves.

While considering that comment, I noticed evidence of subtle (and not so subtle) “brainwashing” everywhere I looked.

Spin is everywhere.

People want to influence what we do, say, wear, eat, think, and consume.

Not just little decisions.   It’s far more encompassing and pervasive than that.

We are inundated with  peer pressure to conform, fit in, and tow the line.

In A Very Circumspect Choice, Kirk Weiser noted “the people we choose to hang around influence the way we feel, the way we think, the way we grow, and ultimately who we become.”

In A Terrible Case of “Should Be”, Maggie observed that many of us use a generic time-table to gauge our progress and success in life.

Where does this time-table come from?

From our interactions with books, movies, TV, friends, family, churches, and schools.

In order to get us to do what they want us to do, those in our sphere of influence encourage us to conform to the norm.

When we say something “discordant” . . . they remind us to behave.  When we do something out of the ordinary, they use the ego’s fear of rejection to  encourage us to get back in line.

From the time we are born, people shove “truisms” down our throats the way factory farms force-feed geese to produce foie gras.

And we keep gobbling it up.  Until we can’t any more.

One day, we awaken to the realization that much of what we’ve been told does not make sense in light of the direct, personal experiences we’ve had.

We began to think for ourselves.

We re-evaluate what we’ve been taught.  We look within for guidance.  We keep what resonates and reject the rest.

DaisiesWe allow our unique gifts to blossom.

We use our inner wisdom to guide us in deciding what to plant  and what to weed out of our lives.

We become who we were always intended to be.

Here’s to tending our gardens!

Aah . . . that’s better!

Quote:  To be nobody but yourself ~ in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else ~ means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting. ~ e.e.cummings

Related posts:  Changing Beliefs  (WordPress Prompt) * Confessions from a Non-Conformist * Whose Shoes Are They Anyway? * Live Your Life * The Awakening * Reflections: To Live Without Belief (Mirth & Motivation)

Spinach Cornbread April 29, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Vegetarian Recipes.
27 comments

Here’s another versatile vegetarian recipe that allows you to swap ingredients easily and still end up with a crowd pleasing and filling meal.

Spinach Cornbread

Wikipedia ~ Spinach (in Public Domain)

10 oz. frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1 pkg. (8.5 oz.) Jiffy Cornbread Mix
4 eggs, lightly beaten
8 oz. cottage cheese, small curd
2 tsp. sugar
1 med. onion, finely chopped
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Drain spinach well.  Mix all ingredients together.  Pour mixture into a greased 8×8 or 9×9 inch pan.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Wonderful paired with a tossed salad, baked beans, and/or sliced fruit.

Variations:

1. Substitute sautéed greens (kale, collard, swiss chard, beet) for spinach.
2. Substitute a small can of chopped chili peppers for the red pepper.
3. Add a 15-oz. can of corn or black beans, drained and rinsed.
4. Substitute 4 oz. feta cheese or pepper jack for half the cottage cheese.
5. Add 1 tsp. oregano, 1 tsp. cumin, or 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes.

Enjoy!

Related posts:  Open, Pour, Mix, Bake . . . Serve (Jeanne’s Blog) * Spinach Rice * A Month of Meatless Meals

Mother’s Day Flowers April 28, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Sustainable Living.
12 comments

Mother’s Day is right around the corner . . . which means florists will be doing a booming business!

If you want to shift some of your purchasing power to GREEN sources, consider ordering flowers for your mom from Organic Bouquet.

If you order from the Flowers For Good selections, your mom will get a sweet eco-friendly bouquet . . . and Organic Bouquet will donate 5% of your purchase price to one of their non-profit partners.

The non-profit partners include: Nature Conservancy, HSUS, Green America, Global Fund for Women, Audubon, Earth Share, In Defense of Animals, and many more.

Talk about a Win~Win!

If your mom’s not a fan of flowers, other options from Organic Bouquet include: Organic Tea Baskets, Spa Goodies, and Chocolate!

HAPPY

MOTHER’S

DAY!

Checking Out April 27, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Happiness, Mindfulness, People.
99 comments

Wikipedia ~ The Death of Chatterton (in Public Domain)

I’ve known several people who chose to kill themselves.

From where I stood, they gave no outward indication of their plans before taking their own lives.

My Ethics professor in college taught class one day and hung herself that night.

Her decision to commit suicide surprised all of us.

She’d been laughing and joking with us the day before.

A fellow law student who seemed well adjusted, sane, and rational, entered the JAG Corps and killed himself soon thereafter.

I’m not convinced that either of them was mentally ill.

From my albeit limited perspective, they awoke to the realization that being here no longer interested them.  Or, perhaps, they just wanted to see what came next . . . without waiting around for the proverbial bus to hit them.

For those who value life above all else, suicide must seem odd . . . how could someone choose death over life?

I expect it’s similar to the way that some people choose ham over turkey, or vegetarian fare over meat.  Just a matter of personal preference.

For many people the negatives of being here outweigh any perceived benefit of staying put.  Since they’re no longer enjoying themselves, they decide to check out.  From Wikipedia:

* Over one million people commit suicide every year.

* There are an estimated 10 to 20 million attempted suicides every year.

* Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death worldwide.

* According to 2007 data, suicides in the U.S. outnumber homicides by nearly 2 to 1 and ranks as the 11th leading cause of death in the country.

* The Abrahamic religions consider suicide an offense towards God due to religious belief in the sanctity of life.

* The predominant view of modern medicine is that suicide is a mental health concern, associated with psychological factors such as the difficulty of coping with depression, inescapable suffering or fear, or other mental disorders and pressures.

I’m not convinced that there is an absolute correlation between suicide and mental illness.

Just the opposite.

I suspect that many who commit suicide are saner than the rest of us.

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?

Can you conceive of scenarios when committing suicide would be a rational act . . . rather than the product of mental illness?

Short on hope?  Read this and watch the video:  Life Without Limits

Related posts:  Suicide For All The WRONG Reasons * If I . . . *  A Serious Post (Intergalactic Writer) * A Canned Funeral (Cities of the Mind)

Incongruous Headlines April 26, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness.
36 comments

AOL Mail served up the “top stories” this morning as it always does . . . with a pair of “newsworthy events” on each page. 

I don’t know how they decide which stories go where, but the pairings this morning seemed beyond bizarre.

From page one, a state of emergency in Arkansas paired with a slip, trip, and fall on Dancing with the Stars:

(a) ‘The Town’s Gone’: 5 Killed in Storms
Tornadoes tear across Arkansas, destroying homes and leaving up to 60 people missing amid devastation.

State of Emergency declared

(b)  Another ‘Dance’ Contestant Falls
Two weeks after Kirstie’s mishap, Karina fell hard after she tripped over partner Ralph Macchio’s jacket.

Why judges still congratulated them

OMG!  A Dance Contestant fell . . . hard

I hope she’s alright. 

Whew . . . at least the judges still congratulated them.

And page two wasn’t much better in light of the editor’s decision to match up a kitchen make-over with Lindsey Lohan’s planned duties at a morgue:

(c) Kitchen Looks Totally Different Now
White room didn’t have much going on, so a designer gave it a makeover that went far beyond a standard paint job.

You’ll recognize the images he used

(d) Lohan’s Grim Community Service
Found in violation of probation, she’ll do 480 hours of community service — some of which will be at a morgue.

Her duties at the coroner’s facility

OMG!  That kitchen looks so much better now! 

Oh, Lindsey Lohan has to serve time in a morgue working with a bunch of stiffs.  Serves her right.  She’s such a deadbeat.   

Hmm . . . I wonder what I should fix for breakfast. 

No rules.  Just press publish!

A Bucket Is Filled Drop by Drop April 26, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Home & Garden, Life Balance, Nature, Sustainable Living.
22 comments

When we start taking steps in the right direction, we  become the change we wish to see in the world.

Even small changes can make a big difference because our actions inspire others to take action which inspires us to do even more.

A bucket is filled drop by drop.

1.  Clean Energy:  Urge your representatives to support alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, and water.  Make the switch to clean energy by purchasing power from renewable sources generated by wind, solar, and biomass, if they are available in your area.

Join Repower America to receive alerts while working together to demand 100% clean energy within 10 years.

2.  Energy Conservation:  Run your dishwasher only with a full load and use the energy-saving setting to dry the dishes.  Wash clothes in warm or cold water. Insulate your water heater and adjust its temperature to 120 degrees.  Monitor the temperature in your home, setting it as low as possible in the winter and as high as possible in the summer.  Clean or replace air filters as recommended.  Buy energy-efficient appliances the next time they need to be replaced.  Replace incandescent bulbs with compact flourescent bulbs.  Install low-flow shower heads to use less water.  Add weather-stripping and caulk around doors and windows to plug air leaks.  Ask your utility company to conduct an energy audit.

3.  Transportation: Consider fuel economy with your next automobile purchase ~ aim to buy a car that gets at least 30 miles to the gallon.  Walk, bike, carpool or use mass transit more often.  Urge elected officials to support cleaner, greener transportation options, including the addition of eco-friendly bike paths and walking trails.

4.  Reduce, Reuse, Recycle:  Reduce waste by buying minimally packaged goods and reusable products, rather than disposable ones.  Recycle paper, cans, plastic, and glass.  Avoid air fresheners and other perfumed products  and buy organic cotton clothing, fruits and vegetables to reduce the use of toxic chemicals ~ freshen the air by opening windows, or using baking soda, cedar blocks, or dried flowers.

5.  Habitat Loss:   Magnificent animals like pandas, tigers, elephants, sea turtles, polar bears, and gorillas are losing habitat.  Visit World Wildlife Fund  and join the Conservation Action Network (CAN), an advocacy network that addresses environmental issues such as endangered species, threatened habitats, global warming, forest protection, fisheries conservation, and other major conservation topics.

6.  Promote conservation:  Don’t buy furniture or decking made of tropical hard wood  unless it’s got a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) label.  Plant local species of trees and shrubs.  Buy seafood products that have the Marine Stewardship Council label.

7.  Go Surfing:  Find charities that focus on issues of personal interest to you: Environmental Defense Fund, Save the Children, Green America, In Defense of Animals, Make A Wish, National Wildlife Federation, HSUS, Doctors without Borders, Habitat for Humanity, and World Wildlife Fund.

Whether or not you can afford to donate to these charities, use their web pages to educate your family and friends about the challenges we face and the steps we must take if we want a sustainable future for ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.

Finally, check out The Better World Handbook for small changes that will make a big difference in creating the 7 foundations for a Better World:

  • Economic Fairness
  • Comprehensive Peace
  • Ecological Sustainability
  • Deep Democracy
  • Social Justice
  • Culture of Simplicity
  • Revitalized Community

If we start taking steps in the right direction at a local and regional level, we will see a filter up effect that will cause our elected representatives, as well as business leaders, to take notice.

Quote: Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has. ~ Margaret Mead

One small step by us . . . one giant leap for mankind.

What about you?

What are your favorite conservation tips and techniques?  Have you found ways to save money while saving the planet?

Related posts:  7 Ways To Celebrate Earth DayAnnie Leonard & The Story of Stuff  * What’s Your DOT??? * The Wisdom of Ecology (Sandra Pawula)

Pretty in Pink April 25, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Animals, Life Balance, Nature.
44 comments

I learned something new the other day . . . flamingos use “blush” to attract mates.

The birds’ pink coloration flows from the carotenoid-rich crustaceans they consume, but the pigment pales after chicks hatch.

Since birds with the deepest coloring are the first to attract mates, the birds use their beaks to dab carotenoid-rich oil from glands near their tails onto their plumes  and feathers during mating season to make them pinker and more attractive to the opposite sex.

Celebrate the joy of nature . . . the unexpected mysteries of life!

Quote:  Nature does not ask, “what do they want me to be?”  Its glory lies in its authenticity.

Related posts:  National Geographic: Flamingos Apply “Make Up” * Sarasota Jungle Gardens * Teaching Old Birds New Tricks

The Promise of Sunrise April 24, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Life Balance.
25 comments

For Christians, Easter represents a time of renewal and rebirth . . . the resurrection of spirit and life everlasting.

Every sunrise serves the same purpose, and holds out the same promise, as it whispers . . .

A new day is dawning.  Make it your masterpiece.

If we want a life filled with creativity, joy and peace, there is only one place to find that happiness ~ in the here and now.

Living in the past will not produce the tranquility, stillness, and balance we need to live life with passion.  No matter how or where we lost our way, the path is here, now ~ leading us on to the life of our dreams.

When we reclaim a calm, centered way of living that refreshes and restores us, our sense of life balance returns.  We stop looking over our shoulders and allow life to unfold.  We tune out the past and tune in to the present.

Clarity and creativity spring  forth as we reconnect with favorite  hobbies and friends, and clear away activities that don’t serve our vision.

We find joy in being, and open our internal landscape to blessings and opportunities.

We create space for what matters . . . right here, right now.

Inspired, we listen and hear the whisper of sunrise as it greets us each morning . . . encouraging us to make this day our masterpiece.

Quote:  There are many things in life that will catch your eye, but only a few will catch your heart.  Pursue these. ~ Michael Nolan

Related posts:  Golden Moments (4 Minute Writer) * Watershed (Kate Shrewsday)

The Easter Bunny ~ An Ancient Mystery April 24, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Food & Drink, Humor.
26 comments

170px-Alice_par_John_Tenniel_02Easter raises questions:

Why baskets?
Why bunnies?
Why eggs?
Why jelly beans?
Why chocolate?

Except for the last, which has a rather self-evident answer, we came up as empty-handed as a slow-moving near-sighted youngster at an Easter Egg hunt populated by eagle-eyed marathon runners.

If you’re interested, Arvik has shed some light on this ancient mystery:

On the Origins of the Easter Bunny

Feel free to leave your Easter Candy here while you hop around to Intergalactic Writers . . . we’ll keep an “eye” on it for you!

Related posts:  Speaking of Chocolate . . . * A Bit of Easter Humor * The Easter Bunny went on Strike (Sidey) * Reflections on Easter Customs (Mirth and Motivation) * BYOF (Bring Your Own Faith (Janna) * Easter Sunrise (Jeanne) * Easter Special (My Literary Quest) * Lessons Learned on a Sunday Morning (Woman Wielding Words)