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simply being human

Sentient Beings

May 18, 2014

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cow and pig 4Photo credit: Danel Solabarrieta

Sentient beings, by virtue of their being sentient, have an interest in remaining alive; that is, they prefer, want, or desire to remain alive. We cannot justify treating any sentient non-human as our property, as a resource, as a thing that we can use and kill for our purposes.” – Gary L. Francione

Animal rights can be a touchy subject for many people because it hits too close to home—their stomachs and their lifestyle. Eating non-meat food, or using non-animal based products, challenges their beliefs.

Carl Sagan sums this up nicely in his quote about truth:

“You are a threat to my version of the truth, especially the truth about who I am and what my nature is. The thought that I may have dedicated my life to a lie, that I might have accepted a conventional wisdom that no longer, if it ever did, corresponds to the external reality, that is a very painful realization. I will tend to resist it to the last. I will go to almost any lengths to prevent myself from seeing that the world view that I have dedicated my life to is inadequate.”

Most people don’t like to see any animal abused or killed. Yet we turn a blind eye to suffering that is going on daily—animals bred and killed to satisfy our food, clothing and product desires. It’s not that we’re inherently cruel, it’s that we don’t really think about how our meat, leather and other merchandise comes from living, feeling creatures.

We’ve been taught that using animals is the “natural” and necessary way for us to survive. But we can make different choices. We created this system of animal exploitation and we can change it.

The Ghosts In Our Machine is an excellent documentary that puts a face on animal abuse. Please check it out.

 “The question is not, “Can they reason?” nor, “Can they talk?” but “Can they suffer?” – Jeremy Bentham

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Health Assurance

May 9, 2014

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Screen Shot 2014-05-06 at 3.54.13 PMPhoto credit: thebittenword.com

“During the past two to three decades, we have acquired substantial evidence that most chronic diseases in America can be partially attributed to bad nutrition. More people die because of the way they eat than by tobacco use, accidents or any other lifestyle or environmental factor. The irony is that the solution is simple and inexpensive. The answer to the American health crisis is the food that each of us chooses to put in our mouths each day.

The benefits produced by eating a plant-based diet are far more diverse and impressive than any drug or surgery used in medical practice. Heart diseases, cancers, diabetes, stroke and hypertension, arthritis, cataracts, Alzheimer’s disease, impotence and all sorts of other chronic diseases can be largely prevented. Additionally, impressive evidence now exists to show that advanced heart disease, relatively advanced cancers of certain types, diabetes and a few other degenerative diseases can be reversed by diet.”
T. Colin Campbell, The China Study

We should not just insure our health, but assure it by eating a plant-based diet. It’s not a one hundred percent guarantee against health problems, but it’s proven to tip the odds in our favor.

Here’s the FED UP movie trailer about the state of health in America.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”Hippocrates


Undone

May 7, 2014

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Shoe Leather

“If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed. It is the person who continues in his self-deception and ignorance who is harmed.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations  

Terry Moore gave a TED Talks presentation about How to Tie Your Shoe that shows how even the simple things we think we know how to do, can be done in a better way.

There’s  so much to learn in life that we tend to put many of our beliefs and actions on autopilot. We learn something, then we think and act out of habit. It’s easier that way. It saves time and effort.

But if we close our minds and don’t question our personal status quo, we won’t continue to grow. We’re part of a changing Universe where all life must evolve or die. It’s healthy for us to revisit what we think we know, and use new information to update old beliefs and habits.

By challenging the way we think and act, we may discover a healthier way to eat, a smarter way to handle money, a new way to exercise, a more environmentally friendly way to travel—or even a better way to tie our shoe.

Our learning is never done—it always remains undone.

 “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change.”  – Albert Einstein

Trained to Desire

May 1, 2014

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800px-New_york_times_square-terabass

“We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.”
Edward L. Bernays, Propaganda

When I was in college I used to volunteer for psychology experiments to earn extra credits for my classes. Each time, I would try to figure out what the researcher was doing to modify my behavior. But even though I knew I was being manipulated, I rarely guessed the true nature of these exercises.

Our society is like a psychology experiment and we don’t realize how much we’re being controlled to think and act in a way that benefits corporations. We feel that we’re just living our lives and exercising our free will. But we buy things not just based on our needs, but on wants and desires created by big business—transforming us from citizens into consumers.

The Century of the Self  is a fascinating documentary about crowd psychology and manipulation. It talks about how modern public relations/propaganda started with Edward Bernays (the nephew of Sigmund Freud) and how it has been used by governments and business to control the masses.

Please take some time to watch the video. It helps you understand the rules of the game we’re in and how to become a more enlightened player.

Governments The big, wealthy business interests don’t want well informed, well educated people capable of critical thinking. That is against their interests.” George Carlin

The Winds of Change

March 9, 2013

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The_oak_and_the_Reed_by_Achille_Michallon Achille Etna Michallon

“An oak and a reed were arguing about their strength. When a strong wind came up the reed avoided being uprooted by bending and leaning with the gusts of wind. But the oak stood firm and was torn up by the roots.”  – Aesop

Life is about change, about movement. But we humans are creatures of habit and resist any challenge to the status quo. We feel safe in our comfort zone and refuse to change a habit or situation.

We cling to bad relationships, a lousy job, a home that was once a haven, but is now a burden, or a lifestyle that no longer fits our needs. We even refuse to change our bad habits, like drinking too much, abusing drugs, over spending, eating junk food, or smoking. We hold on to things out of the fear of the unknown, but our stubborn nature can get us in trouble.

When we ignore the facts of our situation, we’re fighting against the winds of change and we end up like the oak tree.

Change can make or break us. Being flexible and adaptable helps us survive and thrive. When we’re rigid and unmoving we perish. It’s evolution.

The winds of change can take us to new places and help us discover our hidden courage and talents. Changes in our lives that may at first seem like a threat, offer new possibilities and are opportunities for us to move on and grow beyond our self-imposed limits.

Life happens outside our comfort zone. It can be scary, but it’s worth it!

Sometimes it’s best just to let go of something and get caught up in the breeze.

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind”  – Bob Dylan

It Goes On

February 17, 2013

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flickr-2984725015-original1

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
Robert Frost

Life is always in motion, constantly changing, moving forward and evolving. It’s a series of challenges and situations to be solved—one way or the other. When you have a plan for your life, it helps you experience the things that are most important to you. Our plans may not always work out, but life is much better if we have something to guide and motivate us as we travel the path.

When you don’t have goals with timelines, you end up with no direction and limited success. Life planning is an ongoing process that changes based on your desires and aspirations. And as we age, having a plan is even more important.

Times have changed. Getting older doesn’t mean we aren’t vibrant and healthy and able to contribute. If you eat well, exercise and continue to learn, you can add value at any age. It’s the perceived limitations that society places in our heads about aging that become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Challenge those false beliefs. Keep moving and always have a plan of action—a vision of where you want to go and what you want to do in that space between being alive and being done.

It’s up to each of us to figure out what we want to accomplish—free of societal influences.

So take time to create a vision of the future you’d like to live. Don’t accept the preconceived notions of how you should age. You’re the only one who can make that choice.

Enjoy the road ahead—it can be amazing!

“It`s not how old you are, it`s how you are old.” Jules Renard

The Weight

August 6, 2012

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pack mule

“We can easily manage if we will only take, each day, the burden appointed to it. But the load will be too heavy for us if we carry yesterday’s burden over again today, and then add the burden of the morrow before we are required to bear it.”  – John Newton

As we travel through life, we gather things along the way: knowledge, skills, relationships, success, money, possessions—this “life stuff” is good and necessary for our trip. But it’s the extra baggage of failure, too many possessions, bad relationships, debt, fat and addictions that weighs us down and lowers the quality of our lives.

Like barnacles on a ships hull, these burdens accumulate over time—they’re the source of our stress and weaken us mentally and physically. It’s not our age that slows us down, it’s what’s attached to us.

We have the power to lift this useless weight off of our shoulders and improve our lives. By getting rid of negative mental and physical burdens, we experience life more fully and are better equipped to pursue life’s opportunities.

So, dump the junk in your life—use it and lose it—make your journey fun again!

“Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough.”
Charles Dudley Warner

There’s always a cost for extra bags.

Time Well Spent?

July 29, 2012

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parking meter“Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.”  – Carl Sandburg

Life time is limited—we need to remember that.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
J.R.R. Tolkien

Tick…tick…tick…

Creative Limits

July 27, 2012

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No Admittance“When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost—and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.”  – T.S. Eliot

Nothing is more terrifying to an artist or a writer than an empty canvas or a blank sheet of paper. When we think of creativity, we think of freedom, no limits, other than our own imagination. But when we’re faced with too many choices, we freeze-up, get overwhelmed—become blocked.

One way to overcome these barriers, is to establish boundaries for our work. These restrictions can be liberating. Borders, fences, lines, frames—define our creative effort—they help us focus as we mix and match the limited elements to create the finished artwork. When we set self-imposed constraints for a project, like time, money, or materials, we narrow the field of possibilities and challenge ourselves to come up with a solution based on what’s available. It’s when we’re at our best creatively.

Whether it’s a haiku poem, a twenty minute presentation, a book, a painting, a photograph, a song or a dance—creative limits provide structure and clarity.

This can work for us in all areas of our life. When we have many possibilities we often end up doing nothing. But when we layout our own road map and create milestones with deadlines, we get a better understanding of our destination—of where we want to go and what we want to do along the way.

“If you have five elements available use only four. If you have four elements use three.” Pablo Picasso

Stay within the lines, the lines are our friends.

Life’s Tourist Traps

July 24, 2012

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Photo credit:  Nicolas Esposito

“And this was really the way that my whole road experience began, and the things that were to come are too fantastic not to tell.”  – Jack Kerouac

When I was young, I had some of the best times of my life on our summer vacations. My dad, mom, brother and I packed into our family car—hitting the open road.

I remember the billboards we’d see for miles—advertising ghost towns, caves, souvenirs, alligators, the world’s largest something or other—places and things offering adventure—only 107 miles ahead! Our parents would tell us that these were “tourist traps”—and their only purpose was to take our cash. This didn’t mean we wouldn’t stop at some of these places—just that we’d be careful about how we spent our time and money.

Looking back now, I realize that this was great advice on how to live.

It’s not life that traps us, it’s the human made pitfalls that lead to our biggest problems. Unhealthy food, prescription drugs, alcohol and credit cards promise one thing—but ultimately make us slaves to a system that holds on to us until the end of the road.

This is something that many of us learn the hard way—when it’s too late and we’re already sucked in by marketing and bad choices—real traps of poor health, debt and addiction—created by humans for humans.

But life is forgiving—these things can be overcome. If we make a wrong turn, we can always take action to get ourselves back on the road—back to our fantastic journey.

So enjoy the trip, but think about how you spend your time and money.

“Man is the only kind of varmint sets his own trap, baits it, then steps in it.”
John Steinbeck

If daisies
Are your
Favorite flower
Keep pushin’ up those
Miles-per-hourBurma-Shave