Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside, totally worn out & proclaiming “Wow, What a Ride!”

Monday, June 28, 2010

STRIVE TO BE NICE

    While driving, did you ever want to switch lanes, but were prevented from doing so by the heavy traffic? How did you feel when someone recognizing your problem slowed down, waved to you, and let you in? Your mounting frustration was instantly transformed into relief and thankfulness, wasn’t it? Later, when you saw someone else in a similar jam, didn’t you also slow down and let them in? You were sharing and spreading the kindness you received from another. How do you suppose the driver you just helped will act? Most likely, they will do likewise. Look at the power we have to sweeten the lives of others!
     Sometimes, the seemingly trivial acts we perform are the most important. Courtesy is an example. We refer to it in different ways, such as civility, good manners, good behavior, good conduct, politeness, decency, respect for others, thoughtfulness, kindness, and consideration. No matter what we call it, courtesy is NOT trivial. Here is how Edmund Burke (1729-1797) describes it, "Manners are of more importance than laws. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify, exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform, insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in."
      Are those words too strong? Not at all. Think about it. Would a considerate person steal? A kind student, bully? A thoughtful person, cheat? A respectful person, murder? No, because manners and morals flow from the same principle: consideration for others. So, as we raise the level of courtesy that is practiced in society, we lower the crime rate! 
     Unfortunately, TV, movies, the media and merchandisers often portray rudeness and aggressiveness as being "in." Not wanting to be left out and wishing to be "cool," the young blindly follow the examples espoused by their heroes and heroines. Who can blame them? They don’t know any better. They have yet to learn that rudeness is the imitation of strength practiced by the weak. They don’t understand that polite people are enamored with life while those who are rude are bitter. Our manners, then, are the clothes we wear. It reveals what type of person we are. We need to teach the young by our examples that the strong are kind. The strong reach out and connect with others. They unite, uplift, and improve the world. 
     How are we to practice courtesy? There are as many ways as there are moments in a day. Every encounter is an opportunity. Here are some examples.
     1. Whenever someone treats you kindly, show your appreciation, express your gratitude, and offer your thanks. For as Seneca taught, "There is as much greatness of mind in acknowledging a good turn, as in doing it."
     2. Scatter the dark clouds of gloom and spread sunshine with your smile. Remember, a smile is a curved line that can straighten many problems.
     3. Be as thoughtful as the 82-year-old woman who was more concerned about others than the pain she was in. "I may be in pain," she said, "but I don’t have to be one."
     4. Recognize the achievements of others, not with shallow flattery, but with sincere and warm praise.
     5. Respect the opinions and decisions of others, even if you disagree with them.
     6. Here is some good advice in the form of a Persian proverb: "Treat your superior as a father, your equal as a brother, and your inferior as a son."
     7. Be a good friend. Express your good manners with your emotions. When your friends arrive, say, "At last!" And when they leave, say, "So soon?" When you treat your friends kindly, you will be greatly rewarded. 
     8. Treat others with respect. Treating royalty, political leaders, or movie stars with respect is a common occurrence, but treating beggars, the homeless, and ex-cons with respect is the mark of greatness. It is not only the downtrodden that need respect, it is our children, too. If we don’t already respect them for what they are, how can we help them become more than they are?
     9. Act kindly toward others without expecting anything in return. To act in the expectation of a reward cancels out the kindness.
   10. Instruct your children. Parents are usually more careful to bestow knowledge on their children rather than virtue, the art of speaking well rather than doing well; but their manners should be of the greatest concern.
   11. Respond to rudeness with kindness. For what better test of good manners is there than politely putting up with bad ones? We become kind by being kind. And when every act we do is a kind one, the world will rejoice.
   12. Be gentle in your dealings with others. I read somewhere a long time ago, "To find out what others are feeling, don’t prod or poke. If you want play with a turtle, you can’t get it to come out of its shell by prodding and poking it with a stick, you might kill it. Be gentle not harsh, hard or forceful."
   13. Cherish your family and reinforce it with courtesy. Oddly enough, we often treat strangers more politely than we do members of our own family. This has to stop, and we need to implement a policy of "courtesy begins at home."
   14. Never underestimate the power of your small acts of kindness. They are the pebbles which form a solid foundation for our civilization. Without them, society will collapse.
   
     A brief reflection on the world situation clearly reveals that our potential for evil is unlimited. Despite all our frailties, however, we are kind most of the time. That’s what makes humanity so great. But there remains considerable room for improvement, and the responsibility is ours.


     Instead of striving to be important, which is nice, let’s strive to be nice, which is more important.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a rose


a lone rose on a bush


   its petals lavender
shall I pick it
   and preserve it forever?
or is it just for this moment in eternity
© mxd 1974

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Seven Perennial Spiritual Practices:

1.  Transform your motivation: reduce craving and find your soul's desire.
2.  Cultivate emotional wisdom: heal your heart and learn to love.
3.  Live ethically: feel good by doing good.
4.  Concentrate and calm your mind.
5.  Awaken your spiritual vision: see clearly and recognize the sacred in all things.
6.  Cultivate spiritual intelligence: develop wisdom and understand life.
7.  Express spirit in action: embrace generosity and the joy of service. 



-   Roger Walsh, M.D., Ph.D.  
    Essential Spirituality: 

The 7 Central Practices to Awaken Heart and Mind, 1999

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homemade Fabric Softener - The Non-Toxic Solution

Making your own fabric softener will lessen your exposure to harmful neurotoxins
Did you know that some of the most harmful ingredients in many of the commercial liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets include benzyl acetate (pancreatic cancer), benzyl alcohol (upper respiratory tract irritant), ethanol (central nervous system disorders), limonene (carcinogen) and chloroform (neurotoxin and carcinogen)? Seventh Generation and Ecover are two brands that offer an eco-friendly choice. But, one thrifty and healthy way you can avoid exposing you and your family to these scary neurotoxins is to make your own natural, homemade softener. Here's one recipe for a liquid fabric softener:

3 cups Vinegar
2 cups Hair Conditioner (natural/organic)
6 cups Water (distilled, if you have it)

Mix and use as you would with any store-bought softener product.
Before you throw away the aluminum foil you won't be saving for your oven anymore, toss an aluminum foil ball into the dryer with your laundry to remove static cling.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

too shocked for a proper title

I’m all for someone buying cute toys, luxury bedding, custom doghouses, and such for our best friends; our pets. However! anthropomorphizing can and has become egregious and excessive.
I was at the local PetCo this morning for some needed treats and food for our cat and dog. As I was walking down an isle toward the Greenies… lo and behold what did I see?
An entire isle of clothing…”for a kid?” I asked myself… knowing full well what they were intended for…but that sensible person inside wanting not to believe the truth saying “please, oh, please, not for dogs”.
Well, my little person inside cringed and accepted the horrid thought.
But wait…
OMG, there are shirts for cats too!!!! Moreover, the blasted things cost $43.00. I wouldn’t pay $43.00 for a t-shirt for me… I am sure as hell not going to for a cat !
I hung my head in exasperation, has our society gone so bonkers as to really spend this kind of money on outfits for our pets?
Then it happened, the sickness in my midsection rose with stinging bile to my heart…. what is that on the lowest shelf?  “Rear Gear”? What the blazes is Rear Gear? I had to ask, and to my rational demise, here is what I found out:
taken from the website: Rear Gear Store 


Rear Gear. Butt Covers for your Cat and Dog.
Description:
Is your pet feeling left in the dirt because of his/her unsightly rear? I’ve got them covered... Rear Gear is handmade in Portland, OR and offers a cheerful solution to be-rid your favorite pet’s un-manicured back side.
Rear Gear comes in many designs including a disco ball, air freshener, heart, flower, biohazard, smiley face, number one ribbon, cupcake, sheriff's badge, dice, and you can even make yours custom, so there’s a Rear Gear for everyone!


Oookkkaaayy,  the economy is ready to crash, our government is in shambles, there is war, death, and mayhem throughout the world, a recent oil spill promises loss of life in the gulf region for decades to come…
but wait….if your pooch feels uncomfortable because its un-manicured backside is showing…then, you can be joyous, life is good! Rear Gear is here.

“not in my shopping bag”….she whispers as she shudders with repugnance. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

flower favorites

My favorite flower smell is the… Heliotrope
The heliotrope is justly renowned for its cherry pie fragrance, which is all it's cracked up to be. This South American sub shrub has broad, course leaves that look tropical, and a somewhat gnarly growth habit.
Heliotrope blooms in midsummer, and produces only one flower head per stem. These in turn produce many smaller flowers continually, lasting upwards of a couple months each. I think they're beautiful & interesting to look at and smell fantastic.
You can start them from seed indoors which I advise if you want to make sure you get a fragrant variety. They sprout easily and grow slowly at first, but then become much invigorated once set out in early summer. 

My favorite flower is a Johnny Jump up, a type of viola.
Johnny jump up looks much like a tiny pansy but Johnny jump ups are easier to grow then the pansy is. They can seed themselves, take care of themselves, and do not require much extra care from anyone. Johnny jump ups can grow in rocky soil where it is hard for other plants to grow. You can have Johnny jump ups growing in a rock garden or in a flower garden. Once the Johnny jump up grows it will grow every year but you won't be able to tell exactly where the Johnny jump up will grow since it will spread.

Also… from your friendly herbalist…the Johnny jump up is often made into a tea that is used for many purposes like fevers, sore throats and asthma. Tea made from the Johnny jump up is made from the leaves of the Johnny jump up plant and is a blood purifier WARNING:  you must not drink too much of the tea since it can be toxic in large doses.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Characteristics of the More Fully-Functioning Individual

Nonconformity and Individuality
Self-Awareness  
Acceptance of Ambiguity and Uncertainty  
Tolerance
Acceptance of Human Animality   
Commitment and Intrinsic Enjoyment  
Creativity and Originality  
Social Interest and Ethical Trust   
Enlightened Self-Interest   
Self-Direction   
Flexibility and Scientific Outlook  
Unconditional Self-Acceptance  
Risk-Taking and Experimenting  
Long-Range Hedonism   
Work and Practice 



-  Albert Ellis, The Albert Ellis Reader, p181-194. 

Monday, June 7, 2010

Today I saw a bumblebee

I was sitting out in my garden today, relaxing a moment from my daily chores, when I spotted a beautiful bumblebee come sample one of my flowers.
I love bumblebees; I cherish them, these little fuzzy buzz bears of nature.  This is the first bumblebee I have see in a long time. I see honeybees all the time, even have a story about some that took up residence in a patio support; I will save that for another day.
Bumble Bees, are friendly, little velvet bears. They are not quick to sting…but they cannot stand to be teased. Seeing this busy little bee has made a regular day… become wonderful.


Here is my favorite drawing by Marjolein Bastin, which I keep on my study wall; she is considered the most important nature artist in the Netherlands. From her worktable infront of the large window in her home, which is surrounded by dense woods, and in the grand tradition of Dutch nature painting, she gives form to her passion for everything that grows and flowers.  Any time and effort is worth searching out her works.

Ten Rules for the Good Life

1.  Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
2.  Never trouble another for what you can do yourself.
3.  Never spend your money before you have it.
4.  Never buy what you do not want because it is cheap; it will never be dear to you.
5.  Pride costs us more than hunger, thirst, and cold.
6.  Never repent of having eaten too little.
7.  Nothing is troublesome that we do willingly.
8.  Don't let the evils which have never happened cost you pain.
9.  Always take things by their smooth handle.
10.  When angry, count to ten before you speak; if very angry, count to one hundred.

-   Thomas Jefferson, Ten Rules for the Good Life, 1790

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Disputing Irrational Beliefs:


Questions to Ask Yourself  

1.  What self-defeating irrational belief do I want to dispute and surrender?
2.  Can I rationally support this belief?
3.  What evidence exists of the falseness of this belief?
4.  Does any evidence exist for the truth of this belief?
5.  What are the worst things that could actually happen to me if I don't get
     what I think I must (or do get what I think I must 
not get)?
6.  What good things could I make happen if I don't get what I think I must
     (or do get what I think I must 
not get)? 


-  Albert Ellis, Albert Ellis Reader, p. 140

Saturday, June 5, 2010

a thought

I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment, while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance that I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.
-  Henry David Thoreau

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Spoon Full of Sugar

     A long time ago my father took me to the theater to see the movie – Mary Poppins – (1964) with Dick VanDyke and Julie Andrews.  I remember several of the songs… “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”, “Chim-Chim Cher-ee”, “I love to Laugh”, but the most memorable was “Spoon full of Sugar”.
     Now this was not a terrific movie, didn’t know that at 11, (only have seen parts of it since that first wonderful outing, just me and my dad.) Nevertheless, that particular song “Spoonfull” put an idea into my head that changed the way I looked at doing chores, still to this day.
     For  those who may not remember or have not seen the movie. There is a scene where Julie Andrews, as Mary Poppins, first arrives to be the nanny to two English children. But, before they can go to the park to play she wants them to clean their play-room. They of course being children do not want such a tedious task… enters the song.

In ev'ry job that must be done
There is an element of fun
you find the fun and snap!
The job's a game

And ev'ry task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree!
It's very clear to see
That a...
Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way

A robin feathering his nest
Has very little time to rest
While gathering his
Bits of twine and twig

Though quite intent in his pursuit
He has a merry tune to toot
He knows a song
Will move the job along

For a...
Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
The medicine go down
The medicine go down
Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down
In a most delightful way

    and it is sooooo true. If you make any task fun it goes quickly. Make it drudgery… and it takes forever to finish.  Anyone who has figured this out lives a much happier life... kind of like  … “the secret”----

so, folks, moral of this posting…
     sing that song, get those tasks done, and go play.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Flipp'n Coins

    June 1st is National Flip a Coin Day.  Coin flipping or coin tossing is the practice of throwing a coin in the air to resolve a dispute between two parties or otherwise choose between two alternatives. It is a form of sortation that by nature typically has only two possible outcomes.
     I love flipping that coin. Sometimes when I have to make a decision and I really can’t say what I want, or… just too tired to make another decision… I flip a coin
     I say what I want to know, such as… should I get a new puppy… (she smiles)  and as I flip the coin I say my question, desire, or wants, like: Heads-new puppy, Tails-no puppy.  My whim decides the Head and Tails part of the question just as the coin is in the air. It varies which I want.
     Now the real trick is this:
     The coin was flipped perfectly, sitting on the back of my hand and I have just uncovered it…I see the result and I say to myself, “self, let’s see what 2 out of three gets me.”
     I don’t need to flip again, I have my answer and it is the opposite of what the coin reads. I wasn’t happy with that result so I must have deep down wanted the opposite result. If I am content with what the coin says…then I have my answer there too. It is sort of like reaching inside and finding my gut feelings about the matter.
     A fun page for those who like to do everything electronic, a virtual coin-flipping website, you can even choose your style of coin.


another cool site on coin tossing probabilities:

    Somewhere, a long time ago, I found this piece of information and stuck it in my file on interesting stuff.
    The Non-Randomness in Coin Flipping --
It turns out that flipping a coin has all sorts of non-randomness:
  • If the coin is tossed and caught, it has about a 51% chance of landing on the same face it was launched. (If it starts out as heads, there's a 51% chance it will end as heads).
  • If the coin is spun, rather than tossed, it can have a much-larger-than-50% chance of ending with the heavier side down. Spun coins can exhibit "huge bias" (some spun coins will fall tails-up 80% of the time).
  • If the coin is tossed and allowed to clatter to the floor, this probably adds randomness.
  • If the coin is tossed and allowed to clatter to the floor where it spins, as will sometimes happen, the above spinning bias probably comes into play.
  • A coin will land on its edge around 1 in 6000 throws, creating a flipistic singularity.
  • The same initial coin-flipping conditions produce the same coin flip result. That is, there's a certain amount of determinism to the coin flip.
  • A more robust coin toss (more revolutions) decreases the bias.
So, whether you are resolving a dispute or making in inward decision... have some Flipp'n Fun. It does take practice.