Tuesday, May 30, 2017

How A "Hedonistic" Playboy Turned Game-Changing Philanthropist

Some 663 million people worldwide do not have access to clean water or must walk hours daily to secure any water at all. But there’s a glass-half-full way to look at that disturbing number: As Scott Harrison, founder and CEO of Charity: Water, notes, a decade ago the figure was 1 billion.

That progress fuels optimism for the head of a nonprofit that has gained global renown, and built a huge donor base, by helping identify and implement reliable solutions for people in developing countries to reach clean, fresh water that might lie just below the surface of remote, seemingly arid villages.

Few charity leaders have come to their work by as unconventional a route as Mr. Harrison, who spent his 20s as a successful nightclub promoter and hard-partying hedonist — "I had  become the worst person I knew," he says — before a "radical cathartic moment" in South America a little more than a decade ago rekindled his youthful faith and gave him a new calling.

In this interview with the Business of Giving, Mr. Harrison recounts that journey and how it put him on the front lines of a global crisis with far-reaching implications in health (lack of clean water and sanitation contributes to more than half of all disease in the developing world) and finance (United Nations data shows that every dollar invested in water and sanitation yields a four- to eightfold return for local economies).

He also describes how Charity: Water has built a robust fundraising operation built on transparency, results, and using new technologies like satellite mapping and virtual reality to demonstrate effectiveness and create experiences that draw donors deeply into the nonprofit’s work.

Listen to the full interview on the player below and/or scroll down to read a transcript provided by the Business of Giving.

Click this link to listen to the podcast:  https://soundcloud.com/business-of-giving/scott-harrison-the-founder-and

Click this link to read the transcript from the podcast:  https://www.philanthropy.com/resources/audio/podcast-charity-water-change/6322/?cid=pt&utm_source=pt&utm_medium=en&elqTrackId=b88231ec4ee84e21bdab08b94bfface8&elq=fc98ca29b5964f4eaa91d166b191215c&elqaid=14090&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=5899

Friday, May 26, 2017

13 Indigenous Grandmothers Work for Wisdom & Healing

13 Indigenous Grandmothers. Courtesy photo

We are thirteen indigenous grandmothers who came together for the first time from October 11 through October 17, 2004, in Phoenicia, New York. We gathered from the four directions in the land of the people of the Iroquois Confederacy. We come here from the Amazon rainforest, the Alaskan Tundra of North America, the great forest of the American northwest, the vast plains of North America, the highlands of central America, the Black Hills of South Dakota, the mountains of Oaxaca, the desert of the American southwest, the mountains of Tibet and Nepal and from the rainforest of Central Africa.

Affirming our relations with traditional medicine peoples and communities throughout the world, we have been brought together by a common vision to form a new global alliance.

We are the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers. We have united as one. Ours is an alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all Her inhabitants, all the children and for the next seven generations to come.

We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth, the contamination of our air, waters and soil, the atrocities of war, the global scourge of poverty, the threat of nuclear weapons and waste, the prevailing culture of materialism, the epidemics which threaten the health of the Earth’s peoples, the exploitation of indigenous medicines, and with the destruction of indigenous ways of life.

We, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, believe that our ancestral ways of prayer, peacemaking and healing are vitally needed today. We come together to nurture, educate and train our children. We come together to uphold the practice of our ceremonies and affirm the right to use our plant medicines free of legal restriction. We come together to protect the lands where our peoples live and upon which our cultures depend, to safeguard the collective heritage of traditional medicines, and to defend the earth Herself. We believe that the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future.

We join with all those who honor the Creator, and to all who work and pray for our children, for world peace, and for the healing of our Mother Earth.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Finding the Positive When Feelings are Hurt

From a post by author Kari Kampakis:

“Everyone in your life serves a purpose. Everyone has something to teach you.

And while people who are kind and friendly help teach you who you do want to be, those who are not kind and friendly teach you who you don’t want to be.

So when you encounter someone who hurts your feelings, lean into that feeling. Ask yourself what they did to make you feel that way. Was it the words they chose? Their tone? The way they picked favorites and then ignored everyone else?

Whatever they did, make a pledge. Promise yourself that you’ll never treat anyone the way they treated you. This is how you become a kinder and more compassionate person. This is how you learn from their mistakes.

And when you meet someone you really like, lean into that feeling, too. Ask yourself what they did to make you feel so good. Then make a pledge to yourself to be more like them. This is also how you become a kinder and more compassionate person.

Regardless of how anyone treats you, you stand to benefit. While some people teach you who you do want to be, others teach you who you don’t want to be. And it’s the people who teach you who you don’t want to be that provide some of the most lasting and memorable lessons on social graces, human dignity, and the importance of acting with integrity.”

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Begin With Gratitude

The Daily Prism has slightly edited (for space purposes) the following thoughts on gratitude, love and compassion from the Center for Action and Contemplation.

In a most succinct and perfect summary, (the apostle) Paul says that you should “Pray with gratitude, and the peace of God which is beyond all knowledge...” (Philippians 4:6-7). 

  • First, you must begin with the positive, with gratitude (which might take your whole prayer time). 
  • Second, you need to pray as long it takes you to find “peace,” to get to a place beyond agitation (whether five minutes or five hours or five days). 
  • Third, note that he says this is a place beyond “knowledge,” beyond processing information or ideas. 
  • Fourth, you must learn how to stand guard, which is what many call “creating the inner witness” or the witnessing presence that calmly watches your flow of thoughts (mind) and feelings (heart). 

Finally, you must know what the goal is: your egoic thoughts can actually be replaced with living inside the very mind of Christ (en Christo). This is not self-generated knowing, but knowing by participation—consciousness itself (con-scire, to know with).

Paul then goes on to suggest that we fill our minds “with everything that is true, everything that is noble, everything that is good, everything that we love and honor, everything that can be thought virtuous or worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8). Norman Vincent Peale called this “the power of positive thinking.” I call it “replacement therapy.” If we don’t choose love and compassion, the human mind naturally goes in the other direction, and we risk joining a vast majority of people who live their later years trapped in a sense of victimhood, entitlement, and bitterness.

We are not free until we are free from our own compulsiveness, our own resentments, our own complaining, and our own obsessive patterns of thinking. We have to catch these patterns early in their development and nip them in the bud. And where’s the bud? It’s in the mind...Any later behaviors are just a response to the way our minds work. We can’t walk around all day writing negative, hateful mental commentaries about other people, or we will become hate itself.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Former 1st Ladies Push for Women's Museum

Former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton have joined together to press forward on the idea of having a National Women's History Museum in Washington, D.C.

Bush added her name to the cause during a Women Making History Awards event on Tuesday night at the Carnegie Institution for Science, where she was honored for her advocacy work. Bush said at the event it was important to “redouble our efforts to make sure there’s a women’s museum right here in our country” The Washington Post reported.

She added: “It's really important to have a museum that focuses on women because half of the population is left out from American history. We need to figure out how we can encourage women to run for office and to run for president.”

... The push to see a women’s museum on the National Mall has been ongoing for several decades, with the National Women’s History Museum—which sponsored the event—attempting to find a spot on the mall that would accommodate the space.

The museum currently exists only online. The website states: “Once housed prominently among the other great museums of Washington, D.C., it will create better understanding and greater partnerships among men and women. The National Women’s History Museum will be the first museum in any nation’s capital to show the full scope of the history of its women and will serve as a guiding light to people everywhere.”

---From Newsweek

Monday, May 22, 2017

Third Easy Qigong Exercise for Healing #3

By Mingtong Gu
Founder of the Chi Center
There is an invisible energy which cannot be seen, but it can be felt and experienced....

And as it travels through your body, it makes your heart beat, it nourishes your tissue and organs, and it even contributes to the conscious activities of your mind.

The role of Qi — this energy that animates all life —  in health, wellbeing and consciousness originated in the far east over 5,000 years ago. And with deep roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy and martial arts, we can call upon the practice of Qigong to release energy blockages and cultivate and balance our Qi.

(Qigong is pronounced "chee-Gong," with "Qi" = energy, and "Gong" = practice of.)

If you’re unfamiliar with it, Wisdom Healing Qigong is a special form of Qigong developed by Dr. and Grandmaster Pang, a skilled western medical doctor and eastern Chinese medical doctor I was fortunate enough to study under in China.

And what makes it so unique is that it blends many age-old teachings into a gentle practice of movement, visualization, sound and meditation in order to help you awaken joy and healing from within.

I hope you enjoy these exercises which are designed to be easy to learn, yet intensively effective (and can be done at any age).

Reconnect with the energy which flows through the body and spine through this simple, yet powerful healing sound and movement. This Wisdom Healing Qigong practice moves blocked energy held in your organs and body, releasing stress and illness. For thousands of years, Qigong has recognized the importance of healing emotional health for whole body wellness, and with every practice, you’re making possible a new opening for more energy, happiness and joy.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wisdom Healing with Qigong #2

Mingtong Gu is the founder of the Chi Center, based at the Center for Wisdom Healing Qigong in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wisdom healing is the key phrase for today. With that, the Daily Prism will feature 3 easy how to videos for the next three days on simple techniques for Qigong.

From the Chi Center:

With the Wisdom Healing Qigong and Conscious Aging Series, you will:
  • learn simple tools to regain energy, enhance health, and improve wellbeing
  • rediscover ageless, joyful living by connecting with the potent life force you were born with
  • improve your vitality and resilience with easy and accessible practices
  • contribute to the new paradigm of aging consciously, creating a memorable legacy, and facing the challenges of dying with dignity and peace
  • reduce your dependency on medications, on others, and diminish physical limitations
  • connect with a community of supportive and like-minded people 
  • make a meaningful contribution to the wellbeing of yourself, others, and the world – especially needed in these uncertain times
  • experience living a deeper and more purpose-filled life through inner reflection and self-empowerment
Welcome the healing potential within through chanting the healing sound of Haola (from Wisdom Healing Qigong). Haola means “All is Well and so be it!” You are born with the ultimate goodness of life and harmony within. Throughout each moment of life — even through worry, illness, injury — on the deepest level, our body, mind and heart can activate this aliveness.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Qigong for Wisdom and Joy #1

Mingtong Gu is the founder of the Chi Center, based at the Center for Wisdom Healing Qigong in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Wisdom healing is the key phrase for today. With that, the Daily Prism will feature 3 easy how to videos for the next three days on simple techniques for Qigong.

By Mingtong Gu
Founder of the Chi Center

There is an invisible energy which cannot be seen, but it can be felt and experienced....

And as it travels through your body, it makes your heart beat, it nourishes your tissue and organs, and it even contributes to the conscious activities of your mind.

The role of Qi — this energy that animates all life —  in health, wellbeing and consciousness originated in the far east over 5,000 years ago. And with deep roots in Chinese medicine, philosophy and martial arts, we can call upon the practice of Qigong to release energy blockages and cultivate and balance our Qi.

(Qigong is pronounced "chee-Gong," with "Qi" = energy, and "Gong" = practice of.)

Awaken new sensation and vitality in your whole body through this Wisdom Healing Qigong practice called Chen Chi. Because many of us work many hours sitting at a computer in poor posture, our shoulders and back can absorb and hold onto tension and stress. This energy practice activates and opens the shoulder joints, chest and the Meridian channels. Follow along with me and allow the chi to continuously open, awaken and flow throughout your body.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Couple Pays Off "Lunch Debt" Owed by Poorer Students

Some schools require students who don’t have enough money to mop floors in exchange for a meal, or they bill their parents for the food. Want to move on to the next grade or receive your high school diploma without paying off that lunch debt?

...Some lawmakers are fighting back against “lunch shaming,” and now Good Samaritans across the United States have had enough of districts holding lunch debt over the heads of students and their families. Kindhearted people are taking their personal savings—or raising thousands of dollars online—to pay off the lunch debts of students they’ve never even met.

In Everett, Washington, a city of 106,000 about 25 miles north of Seattle, retired couple Tom and Christy Lee have become local heroes. Last week, the Lees paid a $5,495 lunch debt owed by 262 kids at 10 elementary schools in the Marysville School District.

“We buy goats for the ladies in Africa,” Tom Lee told local newspaper The Herald—and they wanted to give back more locally, too. The Lees planned to help out kids at the elementary school their son had attended in the 1990s, but quickly decided to pay off the lunch debts across the entire district. “In my 32 years in public education, it’s the first time I’ve seen something of this magnitude,” Superintendent Becky Berg told the paper.

---Excerpted from Good.is

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

3 Mindful Ways to Lessen Bias

The following is excerpted from Three Ways Mindfulness Can Make You Less Biased.

Today, prejudice against people who don’t share our race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or political persuasion is creating an atmosphere of distrust and hostility that is dividing the United States. Citizens and researchers alike are desperate to understand where these divisions come from and how to heal them.

Some answers might be found in the scientific literature on mindfulness.

For those who don’t know, mindfulness is a state of being—often practiced through meditation—that involves an increased awareness of our emotions, thoughts, and surroundings, accompanied by a sense of acceptance and non-judgment. Several studies have suggested that practicing mindfulness can reduce prejudice and bias.

For example, one study found that a brief loving-kindness meditation reduced prejudice toward homeless people, while another found that a brief mindfulness training decreased unconscious bias against black people and elderly people. In a third study by Adam Lueke and colleagues, white participants who received a brief mindfulness training demonstrated less biased behavior (not just attitudes) toward black participants in a trust game.

“We see a general trend to treat people without preconceived notions—in a more fair and balanced way—after practicing mindfulness,” Lueke says.

But how does mindfulness have this impact? This is a crucial question, if we want to design activities and programs to help people bridge their differences, and to understand our own personal obstacles.
A flurry of recent studies are starting to explore this, and they support the idea that mindfulness may target prejudice indirectly, by lessening our cognitive biases—automatic, systematic errors in our thinking—in ways that impact our judgments of other people. By reducing our susceptibility to cognitive biases, mindfulness could play a role in improving social relationships in our society.

1. Mindfulness helps us see the full context for people’s actions

Humans have a natural tendency to see people’s actions as reflective of stable character traits rather than external factors. So if a student doesn’t pass his math test, you may decide he’s not good at math or lazy, rather than thinking that he didn’t get a good night’s sleep.

This tendency to ignore circumstances is called the correspondence bias, and it impacts how we judge people, including people of different social groups.

... When we understand that someone may be acting in a certain way because of pressures they face or situations they find themselves in—rather than personal attributes—we may be more empathic and better able to bridge misunderstandings that arise between us.

2. Mindfulness helps us decrease our negativity bias

Most of us naturally pay more attention to and react more strongly to negative events than positive events in our lives—a phenomenon called the negativity bias. This is due to our early evolutionary history, where being vigilant counted heavily for our survival.

Having a strong negativity bias can make us extra cautious about entering situations where we anticipate that something bad might happen. And research shows that interactions with people from different social groups can be stressful, in part because we worry about being rejected—a strongly negative experience for most people. For those with high negativity bias, fear of rejection is even more of a barrier.

But mindfulness can help reduce our negativity bias and consequently help us to be less wary of negative social encounters. Support for this claim comes from experiments looking at how mindfulness impacts our emotional reactivity to negative stimuli.

...Taken together, these studies suggest that mindfulness can decrease our emotional reactivity to negative events, potentially leading to less social friction in more uncertain, anxiety-producing situations.

3. Mindfulness may help us see others as equals

Another common psychological bias is the self-positivity bias: the need to hold onto positive views of ourselves in comparison to others. This can sometimes lead us to want to put others down to make ourselves look good. The self-positivity bias is at work when we assume that our boss’s critique of our workgroup’s project has nothing to do with us, for example.

...While it’s clear that mindfulness impacts our personal well-being, it’s becoming clearer how it may also influence our social well-being. By reducing the correspondence bias, negativity bias, and self-positivity bias, mindfulness can help us have better relationships with others—including those who look and behave differently.

Given how defensive people can be about receiving training to reduce racism, Lueke believes teaching mindfulness in general may be particularly useful. If mindfulness training has these benefits without actually targeting bias directly, it might be more palatable than specific bias reduction programs, he says.

“If you tell people that they’re prejudiced and racist, and that you’re going to try to fix that, people become defensive,” he says. “The fact that mindfulness is not specifically targeted toward reducing discrimination—and that it carries all these personal benefits, like less stress, greater life satisfaction, etc.—is very positive, because people won’t have their guards up.”

Perhaps if we want to get along better, we could do worse than starting with mindfulness. After all, what have we got to lose?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Condor Chick Hatches in Time for Mother's Day

Supervisory biologist, Joseph Brandt, carefully puts the young chick in an incubator while he installs the nest camera. Photo by Steve Kirkland, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

---From Condor Cave
We have got the best way for you to start your week (and month!). This past week a team of biologists hiked down to the nest in Orchard Draw to confirm the hatch of the little nestling. They were greeted by two proud parents and an adorable white fluffy condor chick! They also took this opportunity to install a live-streaming nest camera. While we don't have the infrastructure set up at Bitter Creek NWR to stream this online to the public, our biologists will be able to remotely monitor this nest for healthy chick development (and hopefully share some condor cuteness clips!). #SavingSpecies

Monday, May 15, 2017

Symphony of Peace Prayers Today in Japan

Public domain photo by Petr Kratochvil

Set in the foothills of majestic Mount Fuji in Japan, Fuji Sanctuary is the birthplace and global home of the Symphony of Peace Prayers (SOPP).

The 13th annual Symphony of Peace Prayers will be celebrated at Fuji Sanctuary on May 14, 2017.

Watch the SOPP online!
This year’s ceremony will once again be broadcast live online, beginning at 10 am Japan time (click here for local time).

Each year since the ceremony began in 2005, as many as 10,000 participants, including distinguished spiritual leaders and many guests of honor, have gathered in Fuji Sanctuary’s outdoor Prayer Field to pray together for the peace and happiness of humanity, to celebrate harmony among religions and cultures, and to urge a transformation in human consciousness.

Prayer leaders at Fuji Sanctuary, 2017:

  • Fr. Rocco Viviano (Catholicism)
  • Dr. Shlomo Alom (Judaism)
  • Imam Muhammed Rasit Alas (Islam)
  • Mr. Yuko Chiba (Shintoism)
  • Mr. Zengi Tanaka (Buddhism)
  • Ms. Deepti Diwakar (Hinduism)
This year, a new international symposium on the Fuji Declaration will be held prior to the SOPP, with the theme of “Restoring balance between the divine feminine and divine masculine”.

Past ceremonies have also included a Global Peace Meditation, a musical performance, and/or a reading of a poem. In recent years, participants have been invited to join in reciting the following poem:

Creation of the Universe

When we quiet our mind and pray,
we feel the prayerful life of all living things.
Our prayers become the energy of love and healing,
embracing the Earth, humanity,
and all living things, and bringing all back to life.
The creation of a new planet Earth begins.
Even when human beings forget to pray,
the earth, the seas, the mountains, and all living things
go on praying for the time when humanity will awaken.
When we quiet our mind and pray,
we feel the prayerful life of all living things.
Our prayers become light,
illuminating the divinity in each and every human being.
At that time, the Earth, humanity,
all life and all living things become one,
and a new symphony of life resonates with the Universe.

To close the ceremony, the national flag bearers once again spread throughout the Prayer Field, filling the sanctuary and the hearts of participants with vibrations of peace, harmony, and oneness.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Love, Light & Laughter

Yes, I am convinced that there are societal changes in the air -- changes that include seeking what is good and putting that forth. Sometimes it takes the most frightening of historical notes to catch our attention away from the basics, love, light and laughter, as poetically expressed by the late Twyla Lake.  Twyla was a remarkable woman of many talents. You knew she was in the room, even if you did not see her enter. She was NOT bombastic. She was usually quiet. She NEVER bragged about her unusual talents. You just knew that she had them when you met her. During Twyla's later years, and knowing that I wrote, she shared some of her poetry with me in her holiday cards, or just a note to say hello (which I took as saying that I was on notice or "Pay Attention!").  Fortunately, her philosophy and teachings rang true and I have followed them to the best of my ability. And implementing those basics into my bumpy life, made a clear difference.

Love, Light and Laughter
That's what the World is after,
That's what it takes to put Sadness on the run!

Love, Light and Laughter
They will come after
We've pushed away the clouds and cry, "Here comes the sun!"

Black Man, Red Man, Whites and Yellows
We're some of all of these fellows.

Times at war, but I have a hunch
We've got to Love the Whole Great Bunch!

Cause it's through,
Love, Light and Laughter
That we'll really be the Master
of this ole world and we can say, "We won!" 
Twyla Lake

Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Science of Hope & Optimism

High minded? Absolutely.  The following comes from a research group that explores the values, the incidents, the causes, the benefits and the danger of Hope and Optimism.  

Hope and optimism are high-profile attitudes. Politicians invoke them, religious and business leaders promote them, psychologists encourage them, self-help authors recommend them, artists explore and express them.

The press is interested too: over the past few years, articles in the L.A. Times, Washington Post, Time, Wall Street Journal, and Atlantic have discussed their natures, sources, risks, and benefits.
Such popular discussions of hope and optimism typically draw on empirical work by scientists like Michael Scheier, Tali Sharot, Martin Seligman, and C.R. Snyder. Despite the significant advances made by these and other researchers, especially with respect to optimism, some important questions remain underexplored. Questions about correlations between optimism and hopefulness, for instance, or about the correlations between those states and physical health. More research is also needed on the genetic, neuropsychological, and environmental bases of optimism and hope, pessimism and despair.

With a few important exceptions, contemporary philosophers have neglected hope and optimism, though there has been some important research on related states such as despair, pessimism, and anxiety. But hope and optimism are theoretically, practically, and existentially significant topics with a rich philosophical history and important connections to other philosophically significant debates. And although hope has played a significant role in Judeo-Christian theological traditions, arguments for and from a religious kind of hope remain understudied by contemporary philosophers of religion and analytic theologians.

In light of the popular interest in hope and optimism, the inherent significance of these traits, the need for interdisciplinary academic research on them, and the danger of their misuse in the broader culture, this three-year initiative will provide over $2 million for philosophers, philosophers of religion, and social scientists to generate original, high-quality, collaborative research on these and related topics.
The project also has important public components: a $10,000 amateur short video competition, a $50,000 playwriting contest, a growing online repository of hope and optimism research, and a commitment to active promotion of funded research and winning creative projects.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What's the Use of Crying & Sighing?

A poem by the late Twyla Lake, a woman who taught me well.

What's the use crying and sighing?
It won't drive away the gloom.
Rather turn to something better --
Sing a song or write a letter.
Then for blues, there won't be room.

One of the common faults of people
Is to feel they've been abused,
Hadn't we better look to our brother
Whom by life, may too be bruised?

We all have our little troubles;
Few think life is but a jest.
But if we keep sunshine on the surface.
Don't you think we've passed the test?

A while ago the tears were starting,
Thus the peacock of my clouds,
In writing others,
For my troubles, it forms a shroud.
Twyla Lake

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Go Wild! It's Good For You

From: 30 Days Wild: Development and Evaluation of a Large-Scale Nature Engagement Campaign to Improve Well-Being

There is a need to increase people’s engagement with and connection to nature, both for human well-being and the conservation of nature itself. In order to suggest ways for people to engage with nature and create a wider social context to normalise nature engagement, The Wildlife Trusts developed a mass engagement campaign, 30 Days Wild. The campaign asked people to engage with nature every day for a month. 12,400 people signed up for 30 Days Wild via an online sign-up with an estimated 18,500 taking part overall, resulting in an estimated 300,000 engagements with nature by participants. Samples of those taking part were found to have sustained increases in 

  • happiness, 
  • health, 
  • connection to nature 
  • and pro-nature behaviours. 

With the improvement in health being predicted by the improvement in happiness, this relationship was mediated by the change in connection to nature.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Hospice for Unwanted Old Dogs

Public domain photo
Silver Muzzle Cottage takes dogs left behind either by choice ... or by circumstance, as when a dog’s owner suddenly dies and nobody else claims their pet. (The nonprofit has) taken in more than 70 dogs so far. Almost all of them are old, many are sick, a lot of them are near death. They’re the last dogs on anyone’s wish list. But they’re the exact dogs sought out. Because no matter how bad their lives may have been so far, Silver Muzzle Cottage wants to make their last days wonderful for them.
“They don’t ask for much when they’re really old. They want to be loved and cared for, they want food and they just need a warm place to lay their head at night,” said Kim Skarritt, a 56-year-old former auto engineer. “At some point they were cared for, and then when they needed it most they’re not. And that’s why they really need a place like ours.”
Read the rest of the story at the Detroit Free Press, "Even old sick dogs find love at Michigan's only animal hospice."

Friday, May 5, 2017

Hug! It's Good for You

Got someone to hug? Go for it. UCLA neuroscientist Alex Korb, author of The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time,  says “A hug, especially a long one, releases a neurotransmitter and hormone oxytocin, which reduces the reactivity of the amygdala.”

Hand holding, pats on the back, and handshakes work, too. Korb cites a study in which subjects whose hands were held by their partners experienced a reduced level of anxiety while waiting for an expected electrical shock from researchers. “The brain showed reduced activation in both the anterior cingulate cortex and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex — that is, less activity in the pain and worrying circuits.”

And if you have no one handy to touch, guess what? Massage has also been shown to be an effective way to get your oxytocin flowing, and it reduces stress hormones and increases your dopamine levels. Win win.

The value of touching shouldn’t be overlooked when you’re down. According to Korb: “In fact, as demonstrated in an fMRI experiment, social exclusion activates the same circuitry as physical pain … at one point they stopped sharing, only throwing back and forth to each other, ignoring the participant. This small change was enough to elicit feelings of social exclusion, and it activated the anterior cingulate and insula, just like physical pain would.”

--excerpted from Big Think

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Take Time for Peace and Quiet

Living a full life -- one that is active and includes compassion, heart, and an endless "To-do List" can easily remove peace and quiet from one's day.  This tidbit from the Chopra Center is a good reminder to take time for one's self.

Make Time for Peace and Quiet

Daily life can be busy and chaotic. It can feel as though there just aren’t enough hours in the day to complete everything. With this mindset, downtime is viewed more as a luxury than a necessity.

But the truth is, when you give yourself permission to decompress and rejuvenate, you reenergize your body and mind, allowing both to work more efficiently. So, while relaxing activities may feel unproductive at the time, by performing them, you are actually enhancing productivity in the long-run.

Morning is a great time to relax as it can set the tone for the rest of the day. However, some people may prefer evenings. Choose a time that works best with your schedule when you can be alone and free of any distractions. Start small, perhaps 10 minutes a day of quiet time, and gradually work your way up to at least 20 minutes. Preferred amount of downtime will vary from person to person.

Here are some ideas of relaxing activities:

  • Read
  • Journal
  • Meditate
  • Take a warm bath
  • Listen to calming music
  • Cook
  • Color
  • Take a nature walk
  • Practice yoga
  • Focus on breath

--From the Chopra Center

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

10 Ways to Foster Childhood Creativity

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpted reproduction of 7 Ways to Foster Creativity in Your Kids, followed by a delightful short film, "Alike" that encourages creativity in children. 

Because (creativity) is a key to success in nearly everything we do, creativity is a key component of health and happiness and a core skill to practice with kids. Creativity is not limited to artistic and musical expression—it is also essential for science, math, and even social and emotional intelligence. 

Creative people are more flexible and better problem solvers, which makes them more able to adapt to technological advances and deal with change—as well as take advantage of new opportunities.

Here are some ideas for fostering creativity in your kids:

  1. Provide the resources they need for creative expression. The key resource here is time. Kids need a lot of time for unstructured, child-directed, imaginative play –unencumbered by adult direction, and that doesn't depend on a lot of commercial stuff (see this post about unstructured play).
  2. Space is also a resource your kids need. Unless you don't mind creative messes everywhere, give them a specific place where they can make a mess, like room in your attic for dress-up, a place in the garage for painting, or a corner in your family room for Legos.Next time someone asks for a gift suggestion for your kids, ask for things like art supplies, cheap cameras, costume components, building materials. Put these in easy-to-deal-with bins that your kids can manage.
  3. Make your home a Petri dish for creativity. In addition to creative spaces, you need to foster a creative atmosphere. Solicit a high volume of different ideas, but resist the urge to evaluate the ideas your kids come up with. At dinnertime, for example, you could brainstorm activities for the upcoming weekend, encouraging the kids to come up with things they've never done before. Don't point out which ideas aren't possible, and don't decide which ideas are best. The focus of creative activities should be on process: generating (vs. evaluating) new ideas.
  4. Encourage kids to make mistakes and fail. Yes, fail – kids who are afraid of failure and judgment will curb their own creative thought. Share the mistakes you've made recently, so they get the idea that it is okay to flub up. Laughing at yourself when you blow it is a happiness habit.
  5. Celebrate innovation and creativity. Cover your walls with art and other evidence of creative expression. Tell your kids all about your favorite artists, musicians, and scientists. Share your passion for architecture or photography or that new band you want to listen to all the time. Embrace new technologies like Twitter so your kids grow to find change exciting, not over-whelming or intimidating.
  6. Allow kids the freedom and autonomy to explore their ideas and do what they want. Don't be so bossy... Stop living in fear that they are going to be kidnapped or not get into a great college. Statistically, the odds are very low that they'll be kidnapped, and I'm here to tell you that I'm not a happier person because I went to an Ivy League school. External constraints—making them color within the lines, so to speak—can reduce flexibility in thinking. In one study, just demonstrating how to put together a model reduced the creative ways that kids accomplished this task.
  7. Encourage children to read for pleasure and participate in the arts. Limit TV and other screen time in order to make room for creative activities like rehearsing a play, learning to draw, reading every book written by a favorite author.
  8. Give children the opportunity to express "divergent thought." Let them disagree with you. Encourage them to find more than one route to a solution, and more than one solution to a problem. When they successfully solve a problem, ask them to solve it again but to find a new way to do it (same solution, different route). Then ask them to come up with more solutions to the same problem.
  9. Don't reward children for exhibiting creativity: incentives interfere with the creative process, reducing the quality of their responses and the flexibility of their thought.Allow children to develop mastery of creative activities that they are intrinsically motivated to do, rather than trying to motivate them with rewards and incentives. Instead of rewarding a child for practicing the piano, for example, allow her to do something she enjoys more – maybe sit at her desk and draw or take a science class.
  10. Try to stop caring what your kids achieve. Emphasize process rather than product. One way you can do this is by asking questions about the process – Did you have fun? Are you finished? What did you like about that activity?

They Work to Replant Rainforests

The Treevolution is a global movement of people addressing climate change in the best way we know how, by preserving intact rainforests and planting trees all over our planet.

The Treevolution team has curated programs with some of the most trusted and most effective organizations to ensure rainforest preservation, reforestation, and the support of indigenous people living in our rainforests.

Organizations like Rainforest Trust, Amazon Watch, Rainforest Action Network, and EdenProjects.

Trees are the most cost effective technology we have for sequestering carbon from our atmosphere, the most important issue in addressing climate change.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Celebrate The Animals in Your Life

Every year since 1915, millions of Americans come together during the first full week of May to show their compassion and build a more humane world for animals by celebrating the oldest commemorative week in U.S. history: “Be Kind to Animals Week®.”

Founded by American Humane, Be Kind to Animals Week has taught generations of Americans the enduring value of treating animals with love and care, making it the longest-running and most successful humane education campaign ever, supported by U.S. Presidents, First Ladies, top celebrities from Shirley Temple to Betty White, even cartoon characters like Dennis the Menace and Porky Pig! With their help, people understand better than ever the crucial importance of caring for our animal friends.

But there’s more to be done.

Join us in a new Compassion Movement for the 21st Century, take the Kindness 100 Humane Pledge, teach your kids the meaning of caring through our important and fun curricula, and get your friends involved. Together, we can build a better world and Be Kind to Animals all year round!

  • Speak out for animals
  • Report animal abuse
  • Appreciate wildlife
  • Adopt a pet from a shelter or rescue
  • Take care of your pet