Enjoying Spring in Winnipeg

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“The sun has come out and the air is vivid with Spring light” 

Byron Caldwell Smith, letter to Kate Stephens

 

Mahalo. Have you heard this word before?

In my latest post, I talked about the presentation I saw by Chad Pregrake, the 2013 CNN Hero of The Year.  I found his story encouraging because it showed that each of us has the power to act on the things that matter, and that small actions can add up to make a significant difference.

I closed that post off with a song by a famous Hawaiian musician (It’s a medley of two songs: “It’s A Wonderful World” and “Somewhere Over The Rainbow“).  My oldest brother, who loves to visit Hawaii, left a comment on that post that introduced me to the concept of Mahalo:

“In keeping with the Hawaiian theme of your closing, they have this concept of Mahalo, which translates to ‘thank you’ but also can mean gratefulness or thankfulness, and can be expressed as simply as picking up trash and leaving the place better than you found it.”

Mahalo.  I love it.  The soft sound of one word to remind us of our own power to make a difference.

What a wonderful wor(l)d.

And while we are speaking of gratitude…

Spring has settled in around here, and made itself right at home.  We’ve passed the May long weekend, which is when experts announce the official start of the “frost-free” season in Winnipeg.   Gardeners can start planting!

So, today at Home… hurrah!, I am in the mood for a light-hearted celebration of all things Spring, with a Winnipeg twist! (In case you are not familiar with Winnipeg, it’s an interesting little place.)

1.  Spring officially started more than 2 months ago, and this is how the various regions in Canada looked on that first day of Spring.

2. I love birds, and I am always thrilled by my first sighting of geese flying over us, returning after a long winter! Some thoughts on migration here.

3.  In the spirit of spring, I recently tried painting a bird.

It started like this….

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Then it went through a few phases.  Can you guess how which one of the two was the final painting?

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*See answer at the the end of post.

4. This morning, as I woke up, the fragrance of lilac blossoms reached my senses before I even opened my eyes.  My husband had put some fresh blossoms  in a vase, in our bedroom.  Ahhh… Fresh lilac blossoms, outdoors and indoors!  Love.

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“Every Spring is the only Spring – a perpetual astonishment.”  

Ellis Peters

5.  Barbecues!  Actually, this past Friday, my husband made the best burgers ever.  I am not always the biggest fan of burgers, but these were amazingly delicious.  I will soon tell you how he went about making them… if I can pry the secret out of him!

6. I’ve been using my favourite emojis again! 🌸🌷💐🌱

7.  Oh, the joys of being outside on a warm evening…

sunset at the lake, spectacular cloud
An unusual and lonely cloud, illuminated by the sunset (last summer), looked spectacular.

8.  … in sandals!!!  Aaaahhhh…

People who have to layer up in parkas, scarves, hats, gloves, long underwear, two pairs of socks, and boots, can really appreciate the care free experience of slipping into sandals!  (No matter what our feet might look like!)

feet in sandals
It’s so easy to slip into sandals! And the air on our toes feels so good.

9.  When celebrating Spring in Winnipeg, it is not always easy to decide what to wear.  For example, according to Wikipedia, temperatures for April in Winnipeg range from −6.3 °C (21 °F) to 34.3 °C (94 °F), and can change rather quickly.

10. Green!  Everywhere green! We are embracing this glorious season as the dormant world becomes vibrantly awake in May.

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…The trees outside my window are dressed in their magnificent, leafy green garments.   (Do you notice the trees around you, too?)

Tree lined streets means lots of trees right outside my window.
Trees ask for so little, but give so much. You can see them here in action… beautifying the city and cleaning the air!  They provide a home for birds and other backyard wildlife, and shelter us from the hot sun.

 

This list could go on, as I do love Spring, and the joy only increases as it transforms into summer.  So, today, I will leave you with the bottom line:

“That is one good thing about this world… there are always sure to be more springs.”

L.M. Mondtgomery, Anne of Avonlea (Anne of Green Gables, #2)

Answer – This was the final painting:
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Can’t wait to share my next post with you!

 

One Piece At A Time: The Inspirational Story of Chad Pregracke

If you think globally, you become filled with gloom.  But if you take a little piece of this whole picture: ‘my piece, our piece, this is what I can do here, I’m making a difference.  And hey… wow, they’re making a difference over there, and so are they’.  Gradually, the pieces get filled in and the world is a better place… because of you.”  

Jane Goodall (Link to the JGI) 

April has flown by and we are already in the first week of May!  The weather is finally feeling like Spring, and I couldn’t be loving it more.

Let me catch you up a little as to what I’ve been up to.  I’ll skip right to one of the highlights: On the last Friday of the month, April 29, I had the honour of hearing Chad Pregracke present at the Burton Cummings theatre.  You might have heard of him?  He was CNN’s 2013 Hero of The Year.  His story is inspiring.

Lately, with all the terrible news we hear around us, I had been feeling a bit discouraged with regards to the state of our planet. But this month has brought me uplifting lessons that have shifted my perspective and left me feeling revitalized. Listening to his presentation was one of those experiences.

Chad’s story reminded me that we might not be able to solve all of the world’s problems, but each of us can play a part in making a small, positive difference around us.  It adds up.

This is CNN’s report.  It’s quick – just over 2 minutes long:

Chad grew up by the Mississippi River.  As a young man he spent summers diving for mussel shells to pay his way through college.  He described how he could hardly see anything underwater because it was so murky, but he was surrounded by sounds – much like we hear the birds when we are in our backyards, but it was the sound of fishes instead.  He realized the river was full of life, but because most people did not hear or experience this underwater world, they could ignore it… and treat the river like a dumping ground.

“This is a problem that people created, but it’s a problem that people can fix.”

~ Chad Pregracke

As he spent countless hours both around and under the water while growing up, he started to notice more and more garbage.  In the presentation I saw, he showed us pictures that he had taken before all of the clean-ups began.  Those pictures actually made the audience gasp.  They were unbelievable.  Or, as he said, “It’s believable.  The proof is right there.  What it is, is unacceptable.”  At the age of 17, when he saw the filth that was contaminating the Mississippi River, he began to look for support to clean it up.

“Wherever you are, no matter if there’s a stream, a creek, a lake, whatever, that needs to be cleaned up, you can do it.  Just organize it and do it.”

~ Chad Pregracke

The Red River is one of two rivers that runs through Winnipeg, where I live.
The Red River is one of two rivers that runs through my (current) home town of Winnipeg.

For 4 years Chad tried without success to get some financial support.  He persevered, and in 1997 he finally obtained a grant from Alcoa.  It was just enough to get started, so he was doing the work for free (and his work continues as non-profit).  He began cleaning up the river by himself, pulling 45 000 pounds of trash out of it by the end of that first year.  As he said, “People made this mess one piece of garbage at a time, we can clean it up that way, too”.

“People made this mess one piece of garbage at a time, we can clean it up that way, too.”

~ Chad Pregracke

As people saw him out there working, they were inspired to join him.  20 years later, he has worked side by side with 95 000 volunteers to clear the Mississippi River of it’s many mountains (literally) of garbage.  The river landscape looks beautiful once again, and 90% of what is pulled out gets recycled.

Chad and the many volunteers continue their work, and have extended their efforts to include other rivers.  Because of these clean-ups, people have become more aware and more careful about keeping the garbage out of the river in the first place.

The thing that really struck me during the presentation was that Chad is just a down-to-earth, regular human being.  He saw something that was wrong, and decided to make it right.  When he started, he was just one person picking some garbage out of the river, by himself, on a boat.

Chad Pregracke is a powerful reminder that we don’t have to wait.  We can act today.  I loved his take away message:  Look around you, and decide what you care about, and start doing something, no matter how small.  

Every little action counts – every little effort, and every act of kindness.  If each of us takes a small action, it adds up to significant change.

My son had a funny take on it.  He said, “Yeah, you know how people can nickel and dime themselves to death?  Well, I guess the opposite can be true, too, right?  You can nickel and dime yourself to a better world”.  He always makes me laugh with his unexpected, 12 year old wisdom.

As Chad said, “I started when I was 17.  You are never too young to start and to make a difference”.  So true, and I would add that you are never too old either.

“People are always saying that the youth is the future.  Yes, no doubt, but more importantly, they are also the present.  You can do something now, you don’t have to wait for some point in the distant future.”

~ Chad Pregracke

Want to learn more?  Chad Pregracke wrote a book called From The Bottom Up that I would like to read at some point.  Also, you might check out his organization Living Land and Waters.

Today, I am signing off with this sweet medley.  Have you heard it before?  It’s played on the ukulele by the late “Iz” Ka’ano’i Kamakawiwo’Ole, who is among the most beloved and celebrated Hawaiian performers.  I fell in love with this medley from the first time I heard it.  For me, it’s a hopeful song; a gentle celebration and reminder that it’s a wonderful world, indeed.  Treat yourself to a listen.

 Here are some other short videos that you might enjoy watching:

Thanks so much for the visit!  If you’d like to receive my latest posts, please feel free to subscribe (See the sidebar menu).  Cheers!

Laughter

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This is one of my favourite pictures because it captures such a genuine moment of shared laughter and joy.  It’s my son when he was about 9 months old, and we had stopped to get gas while on a road trip.

 “Laughter is an instant vacation.”

Milton Berle

Hurrah… It’s Friday!  Do you have any plans?  We’ve had a busy week around here, and I think we’re just going to relax after supper, and watch some comedies.

This has got me thinking that it would be fun to head into the weekend with a focus on laughter.  So today, I’ll share some ideas, links, quotes, and yes… even jokes from around the web.

“I try to find a reason to laugh each day.  Somehow, if you can incorporate laughter into your day, every day, it really helps.  It’s the little things in life that make me happy. “

Faith Hill

I love to laugh… and who doesn’t, really?  Scientists have even observed that some other animal species engage in laughter, too.  Did you know that?  I didn’t, until I researched laughter for this post.  I guess it proves that everyone loves to laugh.  And why shouldn’t we?  I can’t speak for the other species, but I do know that laughing is a wonderful way to enrich our human life.  

Laughing relaxes us, and helps us regain perpective. It is like nature’s reset button.

In fact, there have been a few difficult times in my life when the laughter reset button has helped me… in my sleep!  I call them my laughing dreams.  I’ve only had a few, but they are surprisingly therapeutic.  In these dreams, some little thing will trigger my laughter.  It’s usually something that isn’t really that funny, but in the dream, it seems absolutely hilarious.  I laugh until my stomach muscles ache and tears are rolling down my cheeks.  Isn’t that a delightful dream?  Has anyone else ever had these?  I wake up with a fresher perspective, feeling relaxed, as if I’d just had one of the best belly laughs ever.

 “Laughter is important, not only because it makes us happy, it also has actual health benefits.  And that’s because laughter completely engages the body and releases the mind.  It connects us to others, and that in itself has a healing effect.”

Marlo Thomas 

Laughter is a way to connect with people we love, and a way to gel new friendships.

Laughter can also help us to defuse conflict and soften awkward situations.  Like the time someone at work ripped his pants (loudly).  As the leader of the group, my immediate reaction was to laugh kindly, smile at him and the group, and say, “These things happen… Good thing you’re among friends.”  Silence would have made the incident far more awkward, while laughter was able to soften the embarrassment.  The laughter became a source of support, recognizing that these things can happen to any of us.

“I believe in the power of laughter and tears as an antidote to hatred and terror.”

Charles Chaplin 

Here are some links about laughter.  Why not relax over a glass of wine or a hot cup of coffee, and check some of these out:  

Have you heard of this documentary?  I am curious to see it.

The Power of Laughter.  He gets a standing ovation at the end of this Ted Talk.  

Can you detect the different kinds of laughter? The very funny cognitive neuroscientist Sophie Scott shares many surprising facts about laughter.

This man helps people who are in rehab heal by getting them hooked on laughter.

A CNN news clip about  Laughter Yoga.

Want to try laughter yoga? Try this.   Warning: it looks silly. Very.  But I have to tell you this quick story!  The other day, my son was really grumpy about something.  I had just watched this video, so I said, “Hey, maybe we can try laughing yoga to improve your mood!”  I started to do one of the exercises.  He thought I was crazy and refused to participate, but the whole situation was so ridiculous, that soon laughter was bubbling out of him, as hard as he tried to keep a sullen expression on his face.  Within two minutes, his mood had completely changed and we were talking about our day.  So… maybe laughter yoga does work!

Four jokes and some reflection on humour.

Here are “50 terrible, quick jokes that’ll get you a laugh on demand“.  I have to admit, I haven’t read them all!  But I have included a sampler of the jokes, below, because 6 of these jokes are probably quite enough:  😉 

6 JOKES…

1) It’s hard to explain puns to kleptomaniacs because they always take things literally.

2) If you want to catch a squirrel just climb a tree and act like a nut.

3) Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like banana.

4) My friend recently got crushed by a pile of books, but he’s only got his shelf to blame.

5) What’s the best part about living in Switzerland? Not sure, but the flag is a big plus.

6) What did Jay-Z call his girlfriend before they got married? Feyoncé.

Thanks for stopping by home hurrah.com.  Have a great weekend!  

I just got one last thing, I urge all of you, all of you, to enjoy your life, the precious moments you have.  To spend each day with some laughter and some thought, to get you’re emotions going.

Jim Valvano

My Costume Jewelry, A Collage, A Laugh… and Two Organizational Tips

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Organizational Tip # 1:

As a formerly messy person who (long ago) decluttered her home and became quite organized, I have learned a lot over the years about how to stay organized.  One simple thing I’ve noticed that really helps me keep my space (at work and at home) looking good is this: wherever little pockets of clutter build up, that’s exactly where there is a storage need that has to be addressed.

Whenever I start to notice that there is an area in the house, or in my workspace, where “stuff” starts to build up, I pay attention.  What kind of stuff is it?  Do I need it?  If yes, what would be the easiest way to keep it organized?

Usually, the place where that clutter builds up is also the most logical place to create the storage solution.  Maybe this is really obvious to some people, but it took me a while to figure this out.  And boy does it have its benefits.

The (Unexpected) Benefits of Organizing My Costume Jewelry:

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Recently, I noticed that my jewelry was collecting messily on top of my dresser.  My old system was clearly not working anymore, so I decided to reorganize it.  I wasn’t particularly creative about my new system, and maybe at some point I will beautify it more, but I will give myself credit – I sure was practical.

I bought an elegant black jewelry tree for 15.00$ (What a deal!  And I wound up buying a second one, too, when I realized just how much jewelry was stored in my boxes on a shelf).  I spent quite a few hours sorting through all of my old jewelry, but when I was done, I had a real sense of satisfaction.


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First, there were the obvious benefits:

– I’ve cleared out more space on my shelves.

– The top of my dresser now feels oh-so-zen.

– It is easy to find the jewelry that I want to wear.  Bonus:  It isn’t tangled up in a big knot!

Usually, I don’t wear much jewelry.  I just have a couple of earrings that I like, a couple of necklaces, and I wear them on shuffle and repeat. But after organizing all of my old jewelry, I discovered the following…

unexpected benefits:

– I found some fun pieces that I had completely forgotten about.

– I found some cool thrift store finds from my university days that I had never even worn.

– Most surprisingly, it is amazing to me how by adding one accessory, I can tie together an outfit that might not have worked without it.  Having all of these forgotten pieces of jewelry out in the open where I can remember I have them has made dressing in the mornings way more fun!

– I’ve saved money!  I have more outfit combinations, and I don’t need to buy much jewelry!

As you can see, organizing something as simple as my jewelry has helped change the way I feel about my bedroom, and it’s helped me get more creative… and not only with my wardrobe.

Another unexpected benefit:

–  There was also a small portion of jewelry that was not wearable (broken in a small way), but still had fun designs and colours. Those pieces went into a plastic ziplock bag, and into my studio.  On the day after I decluttered, I used some of that old, damaged jewelry to make a collage.  It wasn’t the first time I’ve used old jewelry in my art, but it sure was fun.

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By the way, I called my little collage “The Tragic Transformation”.  Can you guess why?  It’s a bit of a statement on our culture of consumption. The comedy stand-up routine by Seinfeld (below) actually explains my thinking behind the piece.  It’s a pretty funny bit, but the message is quite thought-provoking.

Organizational tip # 2: 

Seinfeld says in the stand-up routine linked below, “All things on earth only exist in different stages of becoming garbage.  [Our] homes are a garbage processing centre where [we] buy new things, bring them into our houses, and slowly ‘crappify’ them over time…”.

That is part of the reason why, whenever I declutter and organize, I am reminded of the most important tip for keeping clutter to a minimum:  It’s a good idea to be aware of what I bring into my house in the first place, and buy less stuff to begin with.  

The less stuff we buy, the less resources from nature that we use and the less garbage we create.  

A Laugh…

 

Where Do You Go?

For me, there is something captivating, even comforting about migration.  Even though my life on the ground may have changed over the year – I’ve lost loved ones, my father is in palliative care – in the spring, the birds return.  And while it does not make the losses easier, there is a serene kind of solace found in the predictable beauty of the cycles of nature.

Depending on the conditions of their geographical location, some Golden Eagles migrate, and some do not.
Depending on the conditions of their geographical location, some Golden Eagles migrate, and some do not.

The arrival of the migrating animals after their long journey exemplifies courage, and life’s triumph over adversity.   We look up and welcome the geese, not only as a sign of the changing seasons and spring’s renewal, but simultaneously as a symbol of perseverance, and life’s constancy.

A family of geese

That’s the thing about migration – it heralds change, but also continuity.  It is a process that transcends our existence here on earth: Migration was here before us, and continues without us. Just like when children grow, they make us more aware of the passage of time, migrations orient us to the seasons of life and create a sense of connection between the passing years.

There is something so worthwhile, so healthy about pausing, and remembering the processes in nature that transcend our own lifespans

Alicia and Neil’s Photography

Migration also reminds us of unseen bonds that connect us to other parts of the planet. We share something beyond ourselves; We share a living species that calls both of our lands home.

“Where Is Your Home, Restless Wings?”

In the modern era, it is harder for us to grasp the magic of migration.  We have developed the remarkable technology to connect with almost anyone, anywhere, instantly, but in so doing may be forgetting a time in recent history when distant lands were still mysterious, and the world felt much bigger.  Less than a century ago, simply receiving a letter from a different part of the world was an exciting event.  In some ways, migrating animals are like living, timeless emblems from distant lands; messengers reminding us of an intricate connection with people we will never meet, and places we might never see.

Reader Julia shared this picture of a beautiful Monarch, know for its epic migration.
Reader Julia shared this picture of a beautiful Monarch, known for its epic migration.

And just as I finished writing these reflections, the world outside my window was transformed over night by a fluffy snowfall, and the words on this post are now a farewell to fall.

How wonderful that the timeless truths of nature are right at our doorstep, and the simple act of stepping outside and looking at the sky can help us find comfort and perspective in our modern, everyday lives.

Mountain blue bird ANP
A beautiful Mountain Blue Bird:  Alicia and Neil’s Photography

Unless otherwise indicated, all of today’s photos are from Alicia and Neil’s Photography.

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Last winter, I heard this song for the first time.  This song may have helped inspire this post.  I have to add that I love this band, and they seem to share my poetic obsession with birds.

Would you like to learn more?  Here are some links to organizations that are working hard to preserve habitat so that life on earth can stay diverse, and migrating animals can persevere.  Every bit we do helps, and these organizations are making a real difference.

World Wildlife Fund

World Wildlife Fund International

Nature Conservancy of Canada

Sign a petition to protect Caribou habitat or  Learn more about CPAWS

Thank you for stopping by!

Sweet Summer Winds Are What I’ll Remember Most.

Post by Carina Spring.

Stand By For The Weather…

“By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.”

Helen Hunt Jackson

This is the last weekend of the summer, and what a send off. We couldn’t have asked for a more radiant Saturday.

I went for a bike ride to enjoy this beautiful Saturday. Birds gathering to migrate, colourful trees, unbelievably blue skies.

We were so lucky this summer.  The weather here was wonderful – lots of sunny, hot spells and soft breezes – basically, the kind of weather I love most.  I mean really, really love.  (Honestly, the air conditioner doesn’t get much use around our home).

Even when it rained, the storms lasted only a few hours, maybe a day or two, and then we were back to heat and sunshine for a good stretch of time.   The thing that was strange, though, is that the storms we did have seemed to be so powerful.

We had very few ‘soft summer rains’.

So, while most of the days were like this…

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the storms that came and went were electrically charged, with strong winds, and  heavy rains belting down rather fiercely.  You could see plenty of evidence of these powerful storms in the lake region near Winnipeg: Felled trees and branches throughout the area.  Parts of the main beach at Winnipeg Beach were closed off for the whole season due to the damage.

Strong storms causing damage in the Interlake Region.
A common sight this summer – strong storms causing damage in the Interlake Region.

In fact, one afternoon out at the lake, when we were inside, a crack of thunder pierced the air so loudly that I froze (ears covered- ouch). It seemed to keep on going… a white light iluminating the whole room while the force of the sound seemed to rattle everything.

When the storm was over, we went outside to see what had happened.  Remarkably, there wasn’t any significant damage. None!  Yet the lightning must have struck extremely close.  We thought for sure we would find a charred tree outside the door!

 

A reader, Julia, shared with me this pictures of a stormy morning out by lake Winnipeg.
A reader, Julia, took this picture when she was out for a walk by Lake Winnipeg on a stormy morning..

There have even been several tornadoes in the province (…not entirely unusual in the prairies).  One funnel cloud touched down in southwestern Manitoba for around three hours.  Now that is rare.  In Canada, funnel clouds normally only touch down for a few minutes, at most.   The tornado lashed trees, farmlands, and roads.  Miraculously, despite its duration, it did not go through any towns or cities, and caused no major injuries.

We also had a funnel cloud touch down near Winnipeg Beach.  They call it a waterspout when a tornado happens on the water. This one also briefly made it’s way to land.  Again, thankfully, no one was hurt and there was only minimal damage.

I am so glad that there were no major injuries caused by the severe weather, though the trend is worrisome.

Have you experienced any extreme weather in your area?

When I look back on summer 2015, though, soft warm winds are what I will remember most.

One spring day, four colourful, huge kites were dancing in the soft wind, against a radiant blue sky.
One spring day, four colourful, huge kites were dancing in the soft wind, against a radiant blue sky.

Thank you so much for stopping by!  I can’t wait to share my next post with you!

During is What Counts

Post by Carina Spring.

This amazing photograph is by:

http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

Creativity starts by taking a leap,and authentically expressing who you are.

Do you lose yourself in your creative work?  I was visiting some of my favourite blogs, and they got me thinking about the quote below.  I copied it into my diary about a year ago, and thought it might be a good one to share.  

Most creative types have that inner critic that sometimes tells us we aren’t good enough, and – even worse- sometimes keeps us from doing the work that would most fully satisfy us.

Creativity starts with taking a leap, and authentically expressing who you are. Lose yourself in work that you love- juggling, writing, dancing, math- whatever.

This quote reminds me not to worry too much about whether I am  “good” or “bad”.   Rather, focus on the doing because during is what counts” and doing is how we improve. 

Here is the quote:

“Tell them to do and make

as many things as possible

and to NOT over analyze

everything

and NOT care whether it’s

good or bad

and to not try and understand who they are

and what they are doing

because that always

matters at the end

but during is what counts

and doing

is what probably matters.”

By Greg Kletsel

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 It was written whimsically on one of his illustrations, which I found here:

http://www.doodlersanonymous.com/about/

To read more on today’s subject, check out Leo Babauta’s Zen Habits:

http://zenhabits.net/lost/

How to Make Better Decisions and enjoy life more: Love vs Fear.

Post written by Carina Spring.

This stunning photo by:  http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

“Fear is going to be a player in your life, but you get to decide how much…all there will ever be is what’s happening here, in the decisions we make in this moment, which are based on either love or fear… Choose love and don’t ever let fear turn you against your playful heart. ”

~Jim Carrey

Love vs. Fear

Today is Valentines. Whether you are single or partnered, a person who ignores this Hallmark holiday, or one who decorates for it, this is the day to talk about the idea of love.

All pink hearts aside, whenever we are faced with fear and uncertainty in life, there is an antidote: we can base our thinking, our decisions and actions on love. I am not talking about co-dependence, or turbulent infatuation.  I am talking about real love: the life-enriching condition that is healthy, and inspires and comforts us. In fact, approaching life from a place of love will help you find more overall joy and fulfillment.

What do I mean?  Here is a  personal example.

Years ago, I made a decision to intentionally approach my career obligations from a place of love, and a genuine caring for others. Inevitably, this soon extended to include compassion for myself (Acknowledging that I am not perfect, I can’t do it all, I am doing my best even if it doesn’t always match some “ideal”, and I also have to take care of myself).  Suddenly, my career life transformed. I have become one of those people who truly enjoys her time at work.   That doesn’t mean that everything is always perfect, or that I don’t have ever have ups and downs. The thing is that facing all aspects of my job with love- the exciting and interesting stuff, as well as the tedious or difficult stuff- brings meaning and motivation to my task. I forget my fears, my shyness, and my insecurities and focus on the the job with passion and dedication.

How to Apply the Antidote

In your life, when you are feeling tense, facing  a difficult decision, or feeling afraid, take a soft breath and take a few moments to reflect.

1) First, think about self-love. Not selfishness, but selflove. Act with compassion and kindness.  This doesn’t mean you don’t push yourself to be better.  You want the best for yourself; you want to grow and learn. But to make real progress, you need to accept who you are and how you feel. Even if it isn’t what you’d like it to be, you have to work with what you’ve got. You have to love and understand who you are in order to make the right choices for yourself.

2) Act with regard for your own health, safety and respect. Kindness for others should never mean accepting abuse.

3)  Next, consider how your actions will contribute to the well-being of others.  It helps me to remember that most people are just doing their best. Forget fear, forget boredom, and focus instead on caring. That intention is what counts, and will bring more meaning to everything you do.

4) It’s more fun to approach a task with the feeling that it can help others!  It helps you love the task itself.

5) Keep in mind that there is no such thing as an insignificant kindness. Maybe you are a clerk or waiter who makes someone’s day by providing great service, a doctor who listens to and cares about her patients, or a CEO who treats his employees with generosity.  Maybe you return a lost purse at Safeway.

6) As a final thought, let’s remember that love – the unconditional, real bond that happens when a healthy connection flourishes – can be found and expressed in many ways: in the trust between old friends; in the familial love between a parent and child, siblings and relatives; in the companionship of a loyal pet; and, of course, in romantic love.

How great that this Valentines Day falls on the Saturday of a long weekend! No matter what you are up to, enjoy!

Happy Valentines Day!

Today’s quote was from a graduation speech given by Jim Carrey. Who knew he was so profound!

Love is the answer, at least for most of the questions in my heart.” Do you recognize those lyrics?  His voice is a honey sweet treat:

Thanks for stopping by homehurrah.com!

 

 

What Do You Get If You Cross A Cool Tradition, A Few Laughs, and Something a Little Bizarre?

Answer:  Today’s Blog Post.

A Cool Tradition

I found this cartoon series the other day: “Comics from life in Argentina.”  An American lady shares her experience dating an Argentine man.  The cartoon is a quick, fun read, and interestingly relates to the concept of home, moving, and family.

Click on this link to learn about the tradition of the “almuerzo familiar”… and bring the familia!

https://medium.com/the-nib/supper-sunday-a5158d175183

A Few Laughs

Need a quick laugh?  Click on the link below and pick from your favourite cartoon strips.  There are lots to choose from!

http://www.gocomics.com/explore/comics

Perhaps you prefer to marathon-watch a classic comedy series of the tv variety?  Then check out the list of 101 best written tv series. The list was created by the Writers Guild of America, and includes some great comedies (and many other genres, too!) that you might love to watch on a winter weekend.  Are there any shows that you think should have been included, but weren’t?

Hmmm…. I wonder if there is a Canadian list?

http://wga.org/uploadedfiles/news_and_events/101_TV_Series/tv101list-press.pdf

A Little Bizarre

Okay, I don’t even know how to introduce this one. It’s a long article, but really is an unusual story. Keeley’s idea of home is definitely different than the average.

https://medium.com/@motherjones/the-amazing-possibly-true-adventures-of-catman-keeley-and-his-corporate-hoboes-7ac241a839c3

The above image is used with permission from the author of Supper Sunday and The Nib – sarahglidden.com. 

Travel, Moving, and Finding Meaning: a TED Talk by Pico Iyer

The Age of Movement

Image used with permission: http://www.aliciaandneilphotography.com/

Click on the link at the bottom of the post to listen to today’s TED Talk:

“More and more people worldwide are living in countries not considered their own. Writer Pico Iyer — who himself has three or four “origins” — meditates on the meaning of home, the joy of traveling and the serenity of standing still.”

Changing our surroundings is a way of waking ourselves up.  The longing to travel is often fuelled by the desire to see the world and our lives through different eyes, and to change our perspectives.

Even more profound is the experience of moving.  If you have ever moved, you know how deeply it can affect your view and understanding of the world, and of yourself.  A small move within the same city can affect you, never mind a change of country or province.

In his TED Talk, Pico Iyers considers how living in the “Age of Movement” is transforming us, and suggests that “stillness” is the best way to find what travel and moving can teach us.

Finding Stillness and Meaning

At about the 9th minute of his TED Talk, Pico shares an experience he had in a retreat at a hermitage.

He talks about “retreat” and silence not as a lack of noise, but as the presence of peace: an experience that helps us to rediscover who we are, and make meaning of all the movement in our lives.

His description makes me long for that kind of stillness and solitude – and maybe some day I will spend a few days at a hermitage on a beautiful mountain!  In the meantime, though, scheduling that kind of retreat is pretty hard for most of us.  It got me thinking: is there a way to create  intentional “retreat”  in our regular lives, at home? 

Rebooting:  Retreat in Our Regular Lives

In his Talk, Pico encourages us to find simple ways of intentionally incorporating “retreat” into our “every-day” lives.  While this probably means something different for each of us, here are some suggestions of ways to build more “retreat” into our lives:

Yoga. For several years, I used to practice yoga and meditation.  The focused breathing on the pose is one thing that approaches the experience Pico describes.  I find it hard to make the time to do this lately, but perhaps I need to start again.

Meditation.  Even if you don’t have time to do yoga, a couple of minutes of regular meditation can bring much needed stillness into our lives.  I will provide an in depth post on this interesting topic soon. There are also many books on the subject. For beginners, the key is to focus on the breath for a minute or two.  Just breathe easy, and if your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the breath.

Walking.  Walking has benefits similar to a retreat.   When you are mindful of nature surrounding you – yes, even urban outdoor settings are part of nature –  you heighten the benefits.  If you can occasionally include an outing to a park or out of town,  all the better! Yesterday, my mom and I drove out of town, and took a  brisk one hour hike in the cold (- 27c), sunny day.  When I was done, I felt like a new person.  To sum up: a good hike is amazing!

Nature.  Related to the point above is the simple act of connecting with nature.  Whether you can go to a park at lunch break, work on your garden, bike ride around your neighbourhood, sit in your back yard, or go on a camping trip, being outside and interacting with nature reconnects you and is a type of “retreat”. In our first six years of marriage, my husband and I lived in an apartment on the 10th floor. In the summer, spring, and fall, we would sit out there watching the birds and world go by. It was wonderful to watch the distant trees sprout buds, turn green, and eventually orange, all from up above.

These kind of activities may not be the same as going on a solitary retreat, where you can walk and think and meditate for three days straight without the interruptions of daily life.  However, they are activities that are accessible, inexpensive, and can help us reconnect with ourselves on a regular basis.

Do you have ideas on how to find stillness and peace in your life?  Have you ever gone an a retreat?  What was the experience like?

Click below: