Be Slow & Silent …  Break Away With Both …

I remember the harried days during my world of work; my 30 year career in education. While teaching during the school year and working youth programs at local parks during the summer, I was always “on”. Then working as a school administrator, summers were working days too, so I was still “on”. While “on” is a good state to be in when working, our bodies need some down time for us to be our best selves when at work.

Fortunately I had an old hunter’s shack in New York State’s Adirondack Mountains to escape and slow down. In the middle of the forest it was silent! What a great combination, slowness and silence! My mind and body appreciated the step away from work frenzy and home responsibilities so I could rejuvenate and be at my best when I returned to work. I should have taken more of these moments through my career, but at least I learned the importance of the slow and silent escape!

The first 12 years of my retirement I continued various work responsibilities, slowed down some, but only in true retirement, meaning absolutely no work responsibilities, have I slowed down and appreciated silence once again!

In reality, creating escapes with moments and places allowing you to slow down and be in silence can happen if we consciously choose to find it. A walk in nature on a trail where few people may be, or to drive on a local back road with no music or news on in your car, or to sit in a quiet space within your own home. It is important to look at what is best and easiest for you to accomplish and maybe maintain for your own continued place to escape for slow and silent periods of time.

What you do in those moments of slow and silent is totally up to you. You may sit, pray, meditate, sketch, read, or otherwise choose what is best for yourself since we all cannot escape to a shack in the woods. The goal is for our mind and body to relax and since I no longer have my shack in the mountains, I too find local escapes. 

How often do we need to take time for this? You’ll know as you incorporate all of this into your life. We are all different with varied needs, so there is no formula to follow. Listen to your own body and mind and always do what is best for yourself. Support your well-being!

Where will you take yourself?

On a path, over a bridge, and to some peace and quiet! Love it!

Cancer … Dread Hearing Even the Word!

How many times have I heard someone has cancer? It didn’t matter which cancer it was since all cancers were equally dreaded by me. I read details and the latest research about the cancer I had last heard about and always encouraged the person with the cancer to do the same, get a second opinion and to seek support.

During a recent bicycle ride, I stopped at the Cancer Survivors’ Park at Spanish Landing Park East in San Diego! I actually felt comforted reading every sign posted along the park’s pathway. No photo could capture the look of the park; more importantly though I wanted to share its information. Below is a snippet of what I read at each sign post.

  1. Cancer results from wildly dividing cells and while this happens 6 times a day within each of us, our immune system usually kills them. When we do not have a strong immune system, cancer happens, yet it is not the largest killer of women… it is heart disease.
  2. Make up your mind to fight the disease … commit to do all that you need to do.
  3. Knowledge is power … so read all about the disease.
  4. Find a qualified physician who believes you can be successfully treated. Get a second opinion too. This is your body, your life, so do everything you can.
  5. Eat well, exercise and maintain a healthy immune system. Think of yourself.
  6. Maintain a positive outlook with whatever method you wish: visual imagery, meditation, nature’s god, relaxation and/or prayer. Positive mental health is important.
  7. Do not look back and say, “I wish I had done…” Do all these things now so you have the best result… life.

As I read this information, I actually felt comforted knowing friends who currently have cancer are doing these important steps. While I try to maintain phone contact with them, maybe I am adding a positive moment to their day.

I also wonder, especially after reading “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race” by Walter Isaacson, if there will be a cancer-free world some day. The gene editing research may lead to such medical advances. In the meantime, support each other how best we can … with or without cancer. Life is precious and death is permanent. Let’s do all we can to live a healthy life!

Five Day Roller Coaster!

I am sure this happens in your life too … you’re looking forward to something, then something happens to not have it happen … then all is good …. and then it is not. Well these days 21- 25 of my trip felt like I was on a rollercoaster.

Driving south from NYS’s Adirondack area I stopped in at a former colleague’s home. This woman, who I worked with, and her husband had been key people during my tenure as a junior-senior high school principal years ago so I always try to visit them when in the area. After a quick visit and greatly appreciated lunch, I was on my way to see my best friend. The plan was to stay 5 nights at her home. I have known this person since 1983 and I can honestly say she is my one of my very best friends. She has had tough past months with numerous chemo treatments. I wished I could have provided her more support, but phone calls were all I could offer since I now live thousands of miles away. Needless to say I was excited to finally visit and spend time together with her. 

For the past 3 weeks on this trip, I wore my facial mask everywhere. I did not want to pick up any virus or virus variant. While the U.S. Center for Disease Control expected people to follow the honor system, to wear a mask if unvaccinated, I was not so sure people were doing so. In prep to visiting my mom and now my friend, I continued to wear a mask despite being fully vaccinated.

I received a phone call on my way to this visit. My friend had a sore throat and was going to the doctor for an exam and a Covid test! Oh my gosh, panic set in for me as I realized this could impact our visit. Since 24 hours are needed for a Covid test result, I chose to stay at a hotel. During that time, when we visited with each other we remained socially distanced, always wearing a mask, and waited 24 hours for the test result! There was my high, then low and back to a high when we realized she was Covid-free! Whew!

Although we had not seen each other in some time, we did not miss a beat. Our love for Broadway shows, art, reading, nature, walking and simply sharing time together has always been wonderful. I also admired the fact she started law school at age 50 and worked as an attorney for years after being an ESL and reading teacher. Now her inner strength to do all she can do despite the side effects from the chemo treatments is truly remarkable. I can only admire the person she is and so when it came time to say goodbye and I will see you next year, I was sad! My roller coaster had gone from high to low … thank goodness we have the technology to stay in touch!

Our visit included seeing other friends in nearby towns and enjoying ice cream. We also went to a driving range and clearly know we both need more practice before heading to a golf course! We also visited my sister’s alpaca farm and went for ice cream again. The time flew, every moment important, and I am still wishing I had my camera when we saw a beaver at work down at the river. Oh well …  a memory for us both. I’ll be back next year for us to enjoy time together and to create more memories.

Ho Hum, Another Earth Day …

I don’t want to sound too exasperated when I say ….another earth day …but really, what of it? Time to again acknowledge we are not taking care of our home, planet Earth, as we should? Haven’t we been talking about many issues with little to no action?

I remember April 22, 1970, when Earth Day’s founder Gaylord Nelson said, “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty. The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all living creatures.” That was interesting as he was concerned about the environment along with poverty, hunger and urban blight. He like the rest of us, about 10% of the US population, was seeing the detrimental effects of DDT on our declining bald eagle population, news reports of a polluted river in Ohio catching fire and an oil rig leaking off the coast of Santa Barbara. I was studying organophosphates in college. For a short time we had a recognition of the balance needed in our water, air, land, plants and animals then and for future generations.

Sure there had been discussion of electric cars … in the 1800’s there were electric vehicles, but not till the 1970’s when gas prices soared and we were rationing and buying our gas on an odd or even day, did the idea seem to kick up again. Finally in June 2009 we have the first 500 vehicles using cutting edge battery technology and electric powertrain in Tesla’s cars.

Talk of solar power happened. June 1979, thirty-two solar panels were installed on the West Wing roof of the White House per President Carter’s acknowledgement of renewable energy. The panels were removed in 1986 and funding for renewable energy research was slashed in 1981 per President Reagan. President George W. Bush had the first solar electric system providing electricity and hot water on White House property. President Obama, in 2010, signed a bill to increase efforts in renewable energy and to make federal buildings energy efficient.

Many of us by the first Earth Day had read Rachel Carson’s 1962 book titled, “Silent Spring”. She had already documented the effects of DDT on marine life and was now sounding the alarm on how bird populations were declining due to their ingestion of the pesticide and the resulting thin-shelled eggs that broke prematurely in the nest. DDT was banned in 1972. At the same time I was in college studying organophosphates, a common pesticide used in commercial agriculture. It was not till 2001 when the Environmental Protection Agency banned its residential use. (Commercially still used, thus people are now looking more seriously at ingesting specific organic products to target avoidance of organophosphates since we cannot avoid them totally.)

In reality, every day should be “Earth Day”. Political leaders should consult with and understand the science to know how to have best practices when dealing with water sources, waste disposal sites, air quality, and the importance of grasslands, riparian areas, oceans, and all that is needed for healthy plant and animal life, which does include humans! Profit cannot be the determiner in any future decision-making, but instead the welfare of our people now and tomorrow is what is most important.

So, 51 years later we celebrate another Earth Day. More young people are angry and speaking their concerns, wanting to have a healthy Earth, a healthy home and a long and healthy life. Proactive efforts and actions are wanted, not reactive and remediating ones once something goes wrong. We are smarter than that! The science is here. Do we have the tenacity and will to speak out, take action, and support the entities that are working for the betterment of us all? I hope so even if it may mean not supporting a business we once did. Corporations need to understand that we the people do not make the profit. We the people want a healthy Earth. When their business can employ healthy environmental practices, then the consumer will be with them. We are all in on this together and we need to act together for the betterment of us all. There is only this planet available for us to live on; let’s respect it!

I love this Rachel Carson quote, “The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonder and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction.” For sure, I hope.

Vote for Leaders With Character.

While outdoors, with this quiet park’s world around me, I have time to think. For years, experiences were provided for my students, faculty and staff with me to learn and understand the importance of conflict resolution with mediation and character education. Today, now more than ever, I wonder why our leaders lack the ability to be positive role models or work to build confidence in resolving issues to the benefit of all and not just a few. It seems the general population now has more anxiety, less trust and little to no confidence in their leaders working for them.

In character education programs, my students, faculty and staff with me learned, practiced, and were reminded of the importance of consciously doing the right thing even when it may be the toughest thing to be done or when no one was around to notice. To be a fair and caring person for the school, local and world communities is a responsibility of good citizenship. If we could trust that all of us will receive healthcare, social safety, food and shelter through legislation generated by our leaders there would be greater respect for them. Yet, leaders seem to protect their wallets and lifestyles with no respect of the constituency to which they represent. Decisions are made promoting agendas not of equality for all, but with a bias that alienates or squashes many with no path for growth or success.

My one hope is for leaders to someday understand we are all human, each with a mind, heart and honesty about what is best for ourselves. There often is not one directive to be taken; therein lies the importance of mediation in a conflict or creation of legislative action. Could leaders listen to all sides and work with all to discover a resolution maybe never heard before? Could they be respectful and trust not to have all the answers on how to make this a better world for all of us today, but also for future generations? As each leader displays their character, moral and ethical qualities that define them, and influence the choices they make, we will be watching their every move. It is in the choices they make where each of us decides if that is a leader for this citizenship. Another reason why we all must vote! Please be sure you do!

September Migrant Flies By

After considerable time spent trying to identify this bird, I believe it is a Hammond’s Flycatcher. Is that eye ring oval enough; is the bill short and dark; does it have a small, bull-head … whatever that means … to confidently identify this bird correctly? I know for sure it is a flycatcher, one of 17, and not the boxy-headed vermilion flycatcher which I see all the time here in SW Arizona as it is a resident at my elevation!

Hammond’s flycatcher

While this flycatcher can be seen from Alaska, USA to Nicaragua on its potential migration route, it is known to be in winter at elevations between 3000 – 5500 feet in my area. Now that I have added this bird to my life list, I will keep my eyes open when on the mountain roads this winter and look forward to its return in the spring.

Our Country is Burning!

I was thinking about the wildfires burning millions of acres in the western USA right now as I noticed a sign while walking a road in the town of Summerhaven, Arizona. Seventeen years ago this town burnt down due to a wildfire and 4 months ago the Bighorn wildfire once again threatened the town. Everyone in the town was evacuated for weeks and forest trails will remain closed till November.

Almost 120,000 acres burned here and now millions of acres are burning in Washington, Oregon and California. Why is our country burning? A whole host of things contribute to the issue. With increased greenhouse gas emissions, there are warmer temperatures drying organic material. Droughts add to the increase of dry vegetation thus fuel for fires. Strong winds and lighting strikes add to the increased size of wildfires.

Controlled burns help and so do homeowner assist programs such as being stated here on this sign:

More people are building in wilderness areas, power lines are above ground and people are not safely putting out campfires and/or participating in creating defensible space. Wind and lightning will continue, but we do need to reduce the fuel a fire survives on. We also should be concerned about the drought affecting so many areas in the west and southwest. All wildfires leave us with devastation of communities along with air and water pollution. The economics and social implications are huge as people try to return, rebuild, and survive never knowing if they will be met with support and success.

As we look to the future, we need to research and support programs addressing greenhouse issues with alternative methods. A closer look should be taken of our own backyard and local neighborhood to ascertain if we could have a wildfire, flooding or other natural disaster concern and what we can do now to prevent it. There is scientific information available so we can be pro-active in understanding and preparing for whatever concern we may have.

While today I am talking about our country burning, we should also think about why coastline areas are flooding. When will we think and do something so we have less loss of life and property? Should we build in the wilderness, on a flood plain, or along a coastline? What can we do now to help ourselves and plan for future building zones or whatever else is needed? Much of our country is burning and we all should be concerned!

Vote! Here is how to do it …

If you are unsure about what you need to do to vote, then discover what you need to know at the Better Know A Ballot link:
https://www.betterknowaballot.com/

This site will provide you with the needed information. It has details specific for every state in the USA so it will be informative for your needs.

Everyone needs to vote. There is no excuse not to vote. 
Here is the link: https://www.betterknowaballot.com/

Click on the link above, be informed and VOTE!

Love is Carried on the Wind

My sister, mom and friend celebrate September birthdays and I am physically thousands of miles away from them. I don’t speak of love 365 days a year, but I would hope each knows my heart feels for them everyday.

My daily routine includes meditative moments where I send positive energy. Most recent for my sister, mom and friend I hope my positive energy radiates to each of you for your day’s activity to be somewhat eased or your personal struggles to be lessened. When we live in the moment of hope and positivity a birthday celebration can be enjoyed with all near and far.

Think of my love being carried on the wind and you are wrapped around on all sides by that wind; that is my loving hug to you as you celebrate your special day. Live in that moment and know you are loved. Happy birthday!