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SpringBlooming2

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”

- Thomas Merton

No one would argue – at least not up this neck of the woods – that this has been a long, long winter. So when I went walking on a recent sunshiny day, I went searching for signs of life – Spring life! And here’s a small sampling of what I found.

Spring-WildCrocus2

One of two brave little wild crocus poking its head up
among the dead grass and leaves.

Spring-DaffodilsWaiting2

 Bunches of daffodils were just waiting for a little more sunlight, a little more warmth. While I didn’t find any in bloom yet, there were truly “crowds of daffodils” everywhere, in people’s yards, by the river, in the midst of wilder areas I passed, ready to grace us with their golden trumpets.

Spring-Snowdrops2

Hiding and shy within the shade of an old abandoned garage, these snowdrops just pushed aside the dead leaves — I may be small, but I am mighty!

Spring-Crocus2

Here and there in yards that would soon have busy people raking and clearing and mulching were occasional small bunches of crocus in bloom.

Spring-LoneCrocus2

“Never stop pedaling to power your dreams.”  ~Terri Guillemets

You pedal, little crocus. You pedal!

StrayDog2There is never a shortage of amazing things one can find on the web, and the site I recently came across is no exception.

As both an animal and movie lover, I am particularly sensitive to animal suffering and death on film. I have a very hard time watching cruel or violent  treatment of any animal even if I know it’s an animatronic sit-in for the real animal. It’s still inordinately painful. I also much prefer to know that the animal lives happily in the end, but I know, realistically, that may not be the case. I also know, despite the oversight by a humane organization, that unacceptable behavior towards animals in film has been known to occur.

So if I’ll be upset by animal suffering, what about children? How much and at what age can they accept and understand animal suffering or the dog/cat/horse/whatever dying at the end, even though it may be a logical plot ending?

Well, here’s the site that will guide you to whatever you or your kids can tolerate – Does the Dog Die?  Does the Dog Die has currently reviewed 680 films and indicates by a happy, neutral or crying dog icon if animals live, recover or die in the end. Click on any of the film names and you’ll get details about how every animal in that film is treated and what happens to it.

There’s an awful lot of violence and death in films (and TV) today, both human and animal. Sometimes we just don’t need to watch it. So check out Does the Dog Die? and decide for yourself how much you want to take in.

 

Aside from the general appeal of a great list or two, who doesn’t love a good list for books?

BooksToBeRead-2Here’s one for all you book lovers – Amazon’s 100 book bucket list, chosen by their own book editors as the 100 books everyone should read in their lifetime. Although mostly adult books, they aren’t all for grown-ups, but a bunch for children and the child in all of us. Among their choices are Beloved by Toni Morrison, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, and yes … Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling.  The list is packed with classics and more recently published books.

thebookthiefAnd here’s the variation on a theme – Goodreads readers have chosen their own top 100 books they feel everyone should read. There is a great deal of overlap in the two lists, but I loved seeing some wonderful books here and on Amazon that are so worthwhile. I was very happy to see the highly deserving The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak as well as The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini,  Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, Watership Down by Richard Adams, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine Engle, and many, many more.

I was also quietly happy to see how many of these books I have already read, those in the past thanks to a good education along the way, and how many I have already read or have right here waiting to be read. But best of all, I see some new titles that I look forward to getting and reading. And the good news about that? Next month is the Friends of the Hunterdon County Library’s huge annual book sale!! Woo hoo! That’s April 26th and 27th, details here.

KiteRunner-KHosseiniIf you are in driving distance of southern Hunterdon County, make the trip, fellow readers. This year it’s at the South County Park Fairgrounds on Rte. 179 in Lambertville, and on Saturday it’s hardcover $2, softcover $1, and in Sunday it’s all half that! I have books on my list for friends, some for the silent auction of the equine rescue I work with, and some just for me. I seem to be the only person left on the planet who has not read To Kill a Mockingbird, so that’s on my list as well as some others on these top 100 lists that intrigue me.

Feel like curling up with a good book? These lists may point you in the right direction. Me? Watching my list go off the paper. It’s easy to go overboard at this sale, but I’ll only bring 2 canvas bags, promise. Okay, mayyyybe 3.

 

Lucky stars above you,
Sunshine on your way,
Many friends to love you,
Joy in work and play-
Laughter to outweigh each care,
In your heart a song-
And gladness waiting everywhere
All your whole life long!

~ St. Patrick’s Day Blessing

LivingInTheLight-SGawain2Those of you why stop by regularly know that there are always two books to the right – most likely a novel of some sort and below that a metaphysical, spiritual or self-help book. You may also notice that the top book changes fairly regularly and the lower one may stay there for quite some time. Although it may look like I’m an inordinately slow reader, it hovers there because I usually am “working” the book, i.e., taking my time and attending to the lessons the author has to offer.

I am really savoring Living in the Light by Shakti Gawain. In the broadest terms it is about becoming more aware of and living by your own inner guidance, learning to recognize and trust our own innate intuition, thereby creating a new life and world. The book focuses on getting to know the many aspects of ourselves and at the end of each chapter, Gawain has included exercises and meditations. The chapter I have just completed is titled Authoritarian and Rebel, two aspects that are often alive and well in each of us. To the degree that we are unconscious of these qualities, we may experience related difficulties in our lives, not the least of which is interference in hearing and trusting our own intuition.

Gawain’s exercise at the end asks, after you have read the chapter, that you identify and write down some of your rules and behaviors that feel demanding and controlling, (overly authoritarian), to you. She lists the categories of work, money, relationships and sex, encouraging you to add your own if you wish. (I did.) Gawain then asks you to do the same with rebellious behaviors, and finally to drop down into a deeper place and look at what you really want, to find what is true for you.

Buddha2There can be quite a difference in what we’ve written and what we really want … surprisingly so. A brief, but related digression – on my desktop at the moment is an image of Buddha, and the following quote by him: “All that we are is the result of all we have thought.” Comparing that list to what I really want is quite an eye opener, and tells me in what way my work is cut out for me and reveals afresh how my thoughts are creating my life, as Buddha said. I want to make more changes.

There is always so much to know, so much to learn, and while a book such as Living in the Light may guide us, the work is always our own. We take many journeys in our lives and perhaps the greatest journey is the one within, for it is there we find the answers we need to know, which when brought to light, transform not just ourselves, but the world around us.

Have a creative child at home or know one? They have the possibility of winning $30,000 in college scholarship funds and a $50,000 Google for Education technology grant for his or her school by entering the Doodle for Google contest.

It’s open to kids K-12, but the deadline for entries is March 20th!  So get those kids thinking and drawing. This year the theme is …. “If I Could Invent One Thing to Make the World a Better Place…”  OK, so grab a kid and go here and get started!

YesButton2Now when I first saw that theme, I got so excited I didn’t see, (or remember), that Doodle 4 Google is for kids and I just went off with my own ideas. Here’s mine – it’s a booth that anyone can go in – it’s free to everyone – inside the booth, there are buttons you can push and they have names like “No More Anger”, “No More Fears”, “No More Anxiety”, “Forgive Everyone” and so on. It would be a limited palette, but you get the idea. You close your eyes and are bathed in white light and in about 5 minutes, your anger, fears, etc. are washed away. 

No fee, no confession, no angst – just a desire to live a more loving life. Maybe there’d be an optional survey button before you leave – a Yes or No button answering “Are you feeling more loving now? Because you are loved.” 

I haven’t worked out all the details, obviously, but I guess it’s a new take on that old concept of free love. No judgment, no punishment, no expectations – just a way to get back on our path of being and feeling more love. See you on the line!

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