bird’s eye view

The Nature Conservancy has a live nest cam aimed at an eagle nest on Santa Cruz Island in California. Two chicks have successfully hatched this month. Pack up all your cares and woes and go check it out. It’s pretty zen to sit and watch the parents tend their chicks and the background sounds of nature are very relaxing, feels like you’re outside sitting in a tree just chillin’ with those lovely creatures. The photo is by permission from Nikon66 on flickr. Fiercely beautiful shot of a fiercely beautiful bird.

changing world

flickrleech.jpg

We hear a lot about the bad things people are doing using internet technology. Identity theft, internet porn, harassment, and phishing are only a few types of internet crimes that are reported on a daily basis. But while access to the World Wide Web may have opened new doors for criminals, few would argue with the assertion that it is also having a positive impact on the world that we live in. The ability to share information has empowered individuals and groups as never before, particularly in areas such as communication, commerce, and healthcare.

When I was ill some years back, I read about a new drug on the internet that was being studied at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. It was being compounded at a small pharmacy near the hospital and the more I learned about it the more I thought it might help me. I eventually spoke to the pharmacist in Maryland, convinced my doctor to write me a prescription, and after one month of therapy my health improved enormously. That medication is now FDA approved and is widely available.

I have also found great sources for gluten-free food on the Web, learned new photography techniques, researched products and prices before making purchases, discovered wonderful authors, artists, and musicians, had fun with Web gadgets like flickr leech (I used it to make the illustration above, click on the photo to see it larger) and I’ve met a bunch of really nice fellow bloggers from all over the world. Some believe that the internet will bring about the biggest change in human social structure in history. So the question of the day is: How has the internet impacted, enhanced, or changed your life?

40 years

I want to say one other challenge that we face is simply that we must find an alternative to war and bloodshed. Anyone who feels, and there are still a lot of people who feel that way, that war can solve the social problems facing mankind is sleeping through a great revolution. President Kennedy said on one occasion, “Mankind must put an end to war or war will put an end to mankind.” The world must hear this. I pray to God that America will hear this before it is too late, because today we’re fighting a war.

Those are the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoken in 1968 at the National Cathedral in Washington D.C. At the time of his death forty years ago today, Dr. King was crusading to end hunger and to end the war in Vietnam. His views on that war caused a great deal of controversy at the time. He was branded “unpatriotic” and was widely criticized, not only by white America, but also by many leaders in the black community. The photo above was taken by Sgt. Curt Cashour of the U.S. Army of two soldiers with the 4th Brigade, 1st Infantry Division standing guard at a market in Al Doura in Baghdad. And so it goes…

let it be

When I downloaded Paul McCartney’s song Let it Be the other day from iTunes, I also found the version in the video above from the movie, Across the Universe. Sung by veteran stage actor Carol Woods and 15 year old Timothy Mitchum, the song is set against a scene depicting a family losing their son in Vietnam and the Detroit riots of 1967. I grew up in Detroit, only six miles from the epicenter of the riots. As a seven year old child at the time, I thought that the riots happened “downtown”, far away from my own quiet, tree lined street. And in many respects I suppose it was far away. As a white family, our experience of life in Detroit and in our country during the 60s was very different than that of African-Americans living only a handful of miles away.

When I look at Detroit today, I’m saddened to see that racial, social, and economic separation and isolation continues to have devastating effects on neighborhoods, on schools, and most importantly on children. And as I watch the nightly news and listen to the never ending debate over the political and military issues of the Iraq War, I can’t help but wonder if there ever really will “be an answer” or if mankind is destined to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. But you know, when I listen to beautiful music like the song Let it Be, when I see exquisite art and watch inspiring movies and plays, when I look up at the night sky and see the glory of a lunar eclipse, or when I look down and into the eyes of a newborn baby it gives me hope, and isn’t that what keeps us all putting one foot in front of the other most days?

One of my favorite quotes is by the poet Emily Dickinson, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.” Isn’t that lovely? Have a peaceful and hope filled weekend dear readers:)

MLK

This is an angel photo-manipulation I did last week. Her name is Nyah, which means purpose in Swahili. I thought the name suited her because she looked so confident and wise. When I think about Martin Luther King today, the life he led and the legacy he left behind, that word comes to mind. Purpose. Whether you describe it as a calling, a sacred contract, or a personal legend, Dr. King followed his path despite the hardships he knew he and his family would endure, despite sensing it would bring about his own early death. In his last public speech made on April 3, 1968 he said, “Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land!”

Dr. King set an example of living a life of purpose. But you don’t have to inspire a revolution, become a Buddhist monk, care for the poor in India, or start a megachurch to lead a life of purpose. Each time you make a decision that is unselfish and giving you create a ripple, a moment of goodness that will join others and become part of a swell, a wave in an ocean that will ultimately make the world a better place.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968)

vote for bookbabie!

amazon.gif I have some super exciting news today. A while back I had the local noon news on and the talking head briefly mentioned that Amazon.com was having a contest for new writers. The thought crossed my mind that it was an unusual thing for the news to be reporting on, and my first inclination was to go about my day and not look into it. But if you’re a regular reader of my blog you’ll know that I often write about the importance of paying attention to those little “taps” on the shoulder from the universe, so I figured I’d follow my own advice and go ahead and upload one of my novels just in case that was one of those moments. My book was accepted into the contest (which was pretty exciting in itself) and last night I learned that my novel, The Wonder of Ordinary Magic, was chosen from 5000 entrants to be a semifinalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest! And here’s where you, my wonderful, smart, lovely, loyal readers come in (yes, that was a kiss up…too much?). I need you to go to Amazon.com, read the excerpt of my book, and like it enough to review it and rate it. Click on the contest badge (or any link in this post) and it will take you to my page in the contest. When you get there click on the “Download for Free” button. It takes you to a window that lets you read an excerpt on-line, download it, or e-mail it to yourself. If you like what you read please go back to my page and leave a good rating and a review, that’s your vote.

***I just found out that if you’ve never shopped at Amazon you have to create an account before you can review, and you can’t review unless you’ve bought something. I’m not happy about this turn of events and I certainly don’t expect anyone to buy something in order to rate my book. Apparently this has always been their policy for reviewing products on their web site, it’s their way of keeping the riff-raff out. Oh well, if you’d like to learn more about the novel click here and go to my website where I tell “the story behind the book”. Feel free to tell all your friends and family that bookbabie needs their vote!

good news

We are so connected in this modern life of 24 hour cable news programs, cell phones, and the Internet that we can sometimes be overwhelmed by information burnout. And while I think it’s important to be an informed citizen, the negative angle local and national news media outlets serve up just plain gets me down sometimes. I want to know what is happening in the world and in my own community, but I don’t want to just hear what all the screwed up “bad” people are doing. I also (and more so!) want to be inspired and motivated by the goodness in the world, by stories of everyday people who are making the world a better place, not a scarier place. I want balance and apparently I’m not alone in my hunger for positive news. I’ve linked three websites that I sometimes browse that focus on good news stories. Daryn Kagan started her website after working for CNN because she wanted to, Show the World What is Possible! one story at a time. Good News Broadcast has a mission to Find, receive, create and broadcast to the world, life-affirming, thought-provoking, educational news, entertainment and events. On the Good News Network “about us page” they write, Local TV news, especially, has been continually feeding us junk food. We need to be informed by a world view that is not dripping with sensationalism and attuned to the police scanner.

So if the news is getting you down check out those websites, or better yet, go outside for a walk and take a closer look at the world right outside your door. Be grateful for the goodness in your own life, whether it’s a flower still blooming in the chilled November air (like the mum I photographed on my front porch this morning), or simply the fact that you have a safe, warm place to call home.

Whatever we focus on is bound to expand. Where we see the negative, we call forth more negative. And where we see the positive, we call forth more positive. -Marianne Williamson

ashes to ashes

My sister’s family stayed during a voluntary evacuation yesterday. They have three pets and no family in the area, although the family of friends did offer them a place to go. So far the fires are in the distance and they are safe. About half the people in their neighborhood have stayed behind. The local police department is doing a good job of keeping them informed with an automated phone system and they will also drive up and down the streets with bullhorns if they have to evacuate. Their cars are packed and ready to go. Those are my brother in-law’s footprints in the ash on their driveway. Everything is covered with a thick layer of the gray dust. Carrie said it makes her sad to see that blanket of ash, knowing that some of it came from other people’s homes.