Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gratitude in Little Ways

I recently saw this quote on a placard in a gift store and it has really stuck with me:

"What if you woke up in the morning and only had what you were grateful for yesterday"

That got me thinking in depth for a long time.  A lot of the most influential teachers of our time having been hammering the gratitude concept for a long time now.  Louise Hay and Oprah are two household names who really believe in being grateful for even the smallest things, and the quote above reminded me how deep gratitude can go. I have so much to be grateful for even when the World around seems to be dancing a different dance to what I am used to.

Most of my pondering happens when I'm out hiking with my dogs and camera.  It seems the World can speak to me through my Lens easier this way, the left brain steps back to let the right brain take over for a while. 

How ordinary and often overlooked is this little sparrow?  They are all over the world and they are survivors.  They don't have the pretty plumage of most other species and therefore really don't stand out in a crowd, unless they are in a crowd of their own dominating the bird feeders.  Then they are noticed with irritation for hogging all the feed and not allowing the 'prettier' birds a chance to eat.

White-crowned Sparrow

This little fellow posed for me in a Juniper bush and allowed to take two or three nice pictures before it departed.  What's more Sparrow was so close that I was almost too close to get a clear shot! After reading my quote and pondering it, I thought maybe my just-a-cute-little-sparrow may appreciate my giving it some importance:  officially this is White-crowned Sparrow (juvenile).
At least this is the title us humans have bestowed upon it.

So, little one, thank you for so graciously posing for me and making my day!

I'm linking this to ABC WEDNESDAY.  This week we're up to "W".  Follow the link to more ABC's.

I'm also linking this to Michelle's Nature Notes at the Rambling Woods blog.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Majoring in the Minors"

I only had a moment to swing up my camera and get one shot of my dog standing on point overlooking the terrain below.  The lighting was perfect, he was back lit by the setting sun, and he was still only for a second.

I snapped the shutter!

And my satisfaction immediately crumbled to dismay . . . . .  I realized I hadn't adjusted my camera back from the spot metering mode I had been using in a tricky lighting situation a few moments earlier.  With my first glance in the back of the camera I understood that I had completely overexposed my one chance at the shot. If I'd taken the time to check my settings first I'd have missed the shot altogether.

But, as usual, there was an insight to be gained.  When I saw the picture on the computer screen it was obvious that indeed the background highlights were blown out, but the dog himself was quite acceptably exposed.  It occurred to me that this is a great metaphor for moving forward in my life: I can keep my focus on my goal, act fast, not get sidetracked by details, and ultimately I may find those details, which seemed so necessary, will simply fade into the background.

I read some time ago many of us waste our lives by "majoring in the minors".   Today I learned in a small way that bypassing the minors isn't a bad thing at all.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Good Deeds and Gourmet Hot Chocolate

I was at my favorite cafe the other day catching up on an early morning coffee and bagel before moving on with my day.  As usual, it was quite quiet at that hour with only a few leisurely diners, so I had time to observe the interaction between one of the servers and a regular patron.

As the server was returning to the kitchen he beckoned her over and began telling her what a great job she was doing, and that every time he had been into the restaurant her service had been thoughtful and attentive.  He wanted to aknowledge her in some way.  This was genuine sounding, not a 'hit-on'.  The server told him he could call the number on the bottom of the receipt and make any comment he wanted.

I was smiling as I left the restaurant.  The man was holding the receipt in one hand and had his cell phone to his ear with the other as I walked out the door.  That server will now have a permanent positive comment on her work record.   It really doesn't take very much to make a difference in someone's life, but it doesn't stop there.  The patron was happy, as was the server, her manager, me and anyone else we came into contact with. You see, everyone benefits of our good feelings.  We can't possibly know what good a single, seemingly insignificant act can do. Now that's better than a gourmet hot chocolate!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Small Adjustment Makes All the Difference

It's been quite a while since I've posted here and it's not because the World has finished with me, and it's not because my lens has been quietly packed away in a box somewhere.  My life seems to have been on fast forward all year and I've finally slowed down enough to breathe and to notice.  Notice the subtle messages from the universe around me.

Once again I'm adjusting to a new home, my sixth home this year and I'm trusting it will be my last for a while.  This is a beautiful home with lots of wild desert landscaping all around and plenty of hiking trails for me and my dogs.  The one drawback of this paradise is that there is also a lot of cactus, which has been playing havoc with the dogs' paws.  It was getting to the point that our walks were becoming quite restricted and our enthusiasm was waning.  One of the dogs in particular was having a hard time.  The brave little fellow is blind so avoiding the stickers was even more of a challenge for the both of us.  He got to the point he was shuffling along with his nose to the ground like an old man.

I remembered I had bought him some boots a few years ago and, miraculously, was able to find them again.  What a difference!!  This afternoon he flew down the trail with a spring in his step and all the confidence in the world.  Success.

Isn't it interesting how, even when I know I'm on the right track with this latest move, life still seemed to be a bit of a struggle, but with just a little lateral thinking and a small adjustment I can make a huge leap forward.  That is what the message the World presented me thru my Lens today.  I'm sure there are a few more minor re-directions I can make to other areas of my life, too.

One happy dog.

Fuzzy has always been my ATV dog.  A go anywhere kinda guy.

These boots were made for walking,
And that's just what I've done.
Now I'm gonna take a nap
Right here in the sun!

 Special thanks to Ruffwear for these great quality dog boots.  I'm linking this to the Theme Thursday blog.  The theme this week is gadgets and I think these boots qualify.

Monday, September 5, 2011

High Vibrating Ripples

When I first started this blog in January of  2010 it was my intention to draw attention to all that is right in this world.  More than ever before I'm hearing of an earthquake here, a volcanic eruption there, flooding somewhere else, political chaos and so on, until I was beginning to wonder if my little voice was making any difference at all.

I do know that it does.

Like ripples in a pond, each uplifting thought or deed radiates higher vibrations far out into the energy field of this planet doing unknowable good.  It really doesn't take much effort to notice something nice or light-hearted, and very little more to do something for another.  When I do what to me seems a fairly insignificant deed the high vibrating ripples I send out can prove to be a foil against the unrest all around me.  I will feel good, the recipient will feel better and the wave of elevated mood continues.

Have you ever noticed how good you feel when someone unexpectedly does something  for you without asking a thing in return?   I love that feeling.  I know the more I do that for others the more that will happen to me.  I can't change the world but I can change my world.

Update 2011-09-03Immediately after posting this yesterday I grabbed my dogs and took them out for a walk and as luck would have it I hadn't got far when one of them started hobbling badly.  I noticed a large piece of cholla cactus attached to her heel.  Those are the worst cactus to get caught up in as they  are a round spiky barbed ball therefore very difficult to remove by hand.  As I was attending the dog (and getting myself speared) I heard a voice asking if I needed some tweezers.  A woman was trimming her hedge on the far side of the what seemed like a solid 8 feet tall wall of fiscus completely out of sight to me, and yet there she was offering assistance!  Not only did she produce a solid business like pair of tweezers out of thin air, she also asked that I bring the piece of cactus to her for proper disposal ensuring no one else got injured.  Now this is what I mean by a mood enhancing event.

*note to self: always carry your swiss army knife on walks and/or an old fashioned hair comb to slide between the skin and the cactus to lift it out.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

No Limit Women!

I think it's absolutely wonderful that so many people are no longer buying into a life of limitation.  Great thinkers for hundreds of years have encouraged us conceive, believe and achieve. That we are the generals of our own lives, and many of us are finally getting it.  It doesn't have to be anything grand like inventing a computer, or a motor that doesn't use fossil fuels.  No, it's the little freedoms that we are claiming as our own that are making differences in our health, well being and attitude to life.

Yesterday the World inspired me with what it had to show me.  I was sitting relaxing under a beautiful old oak tree in a wildlife preserve area and off in the distance I saw a group of riders coming my way.  Their horses were moving towards me at quite a determined clip and they had my total attention.

I used to ride back in the day, and it was the most exhilarating  feeling to have the wind flying through my hair as the hooves pounded beneath me.  The creak of the saddle leather, the smell of those sweaty shoulders in front of me, those delicate ears constantly swinging back to check on me then flipping forward to watch the terrain flying up to meet us, the mighty burst of power when I recklessly asked for more speed....aahh....that was living!  I was a teenager back then and absolutely fearless on a horse as most teenagers are.

As these riders swung out from the oak grove and into the parking lot beside me I saw they were all women.  The first couple dismounted and allowed their horses to drink in the watering tank and the others lined up in couples behind them, patiently waiting their turn.  As they swung off their sweaty steeds it became apparent that most of these ladies weren't teenagers.  In fact, several of these bold riders probably were grandparents to teenagers.  They looked very stiff, quite sore, and yet I didn't not hear any complaints.  Their faces were beaming with pride and they petted and loved on their gentle partners,  pulled the saddles off and fed them treats.

These women had no such limiting belief that they were too old, too heavy  or too infirm  to ride.  No way!  These gals were out for a good time.  What an inspiration they were. 

"Was it as good for you as it was for me?"

Heading home for a hot shower.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Law of Least Effort

It's been quite the year of not-so-much-fun events for me this year. 

I've had plenty of opportunities to grow as each new challenge dropped unexpectedly into my lap from seemingly a great height, bringing with it a new set of situations I have to find a way of dealing with.  I know that I'm not the only one and I truly feel for those whose situations seem to be an unrelenting grind of exaggerated proportions.

It seems to me, though, that when I can take time to quieten myself down after each broadside the World does offer a teaching, or simply just an alternative way of looking at the situation.  Yesterday, after the latest upheaval, I was sitting quietly re-reading that classic book of Dr Deepak Chopra's "The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success" looking for some inspiration.  As I was reading the Law of Least Effort I noticed some movement in the bushes outside my window.  Some little rodent was in the bush.  I'd seen glimpses of it before but as soon as it felt my eyes on it it instantly disappeared.  It occurred to me that I would borrow  Deepak's law and see if I could get a picture of the little rodent, after all I don't believe in coincidences; that creature was in the bush in front of me for a reason.  I quietly and easily, without any exaggerated effort, got out of my chair, collected my camera, sat back down and looked through my Lens.   The little fella was still there and it made it quite clear that it was watching me as I was watching it, and it was not in any mood to leave until it was good and ready!

So what was different about my energy that invited the animal to share the space this time and not on other occasions?  The only difference that comes to mind is that this time I was going to take a picture of it.  On other days it was oh my gosh! Look at that! Where's my camera?... oh, never mind - it's gone already.

This was the teaching the World had for me this time.  As the famous Yoda said, there is no try.  There is only do or not do, and when I release all the drama and angst from any situation the way becomes clear, although not always easy.  The Law of Least Effort in action.

I'm not quite sure what animal this is so I'm linking this to the Nature Notes at Rambling Woods as I'm sure Michelle or someone else will identify it for me.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“It is Never too Little ….

even when the task seems absolutely daunting”.

That is the message the World presented to me though my Lens today.
The beautiful patch of desert that is now my home is quite close to a town, and unfortunately illegal dumping of trash seems to be the name of the game.  Vast acres of once pristine desert has been liberally dredged with trash.  Very disheartening, I thought.

The World, however, had a different take on it.  This morning as I was walking earlier than usual I came across my neighbors diligently bagging up trash.  When I commented on it they told me that every day when walking they gathered up stray trash and placed debris in piles along the trail, then on trash pick-up morning they hauled their piles out to a pick up point.
Now there are three of us gathering trash each day.

the beginning of another trash cache
One of the trails requiring attention.

I am linking this to http://ramblingwoods.com as my Nature Notes  for the week.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's a Wide World Out There

My blogging has been by the wayside for a while now. Its just a fledgling little blog and my life got a little complicated, so it just didn't seem to matter.

Or did it?

The World had an interesting message for me this week: my life isn't just all about me!  Yes, I laugh when I hear this phrase, however, we are all connected in ways that really are unfathomable from our simple 3-D perspective.  The truth is I cannot ever know just how my actions are going to affect others, no matter where they are, so it really does pay to be mindful.

My little blog with it's 15 followers is reaching people of the far side of the world who I didn't even know used computers, and the message the World had for me was meaningful to them, too.

This one is for you, Jen, and thank you so much for visiting here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Moving, Moving, Moving

It's been quite a year for me and I'm not yet half way through it.  Oh, my!

Once again I'm settling into a new home. There has been plenty of opportunity for me to go down "Freak Out Lane" as this is my forth home since January.  Plans are made, then they disintegrate before my eyes; what seems solid proves to be an illusion, so walking the path of faith and gratitude seems to be what I'm required to do, at least for the moment.

As always, the World is communicating with me through my Lens - when I take time to notice, of course!  It's been very interesting as I haven't had a regular internet connection, and so without the distraction that goes with internet surfing, I'm finding myself being grounded and in the present moment.  Paying attention to the moment and being grateful to friends, family and circumstances in my life.

Sundown in the desert.

Mesquite flowers

Chilling in the park

Chilling in the stream
Right now, the only 'now' I have, the World shows me all is well in my world.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

National Public Gardens Day 2011

I'm constantly finding what I choose to dwell on is being manifested for me very quickly these days, sometimes to my dismay and other times to my delight.  When I connect the dots from my thought to its manifestation it becomes apparent cleaning up my thoughts is good idea.

This is exactly why the World Lens is all about finding what's right in the world and highlighting it.

Today I stumbled across a little known event happening tomorrow.  It is the 3rd Annual National Public Gardens Day.  This day was organized by the American Public Gardens Association and Rain Bird to promote the importance of public gardens in the community. They would like to promote and educate the public on environmental stewardship, seasonal considerations, geographic considerations and, of course, plant and water conservation.

This year the NPGD has teamed up with Better Homes and Gardens who are offering a free admission coupon to a participating garden in your area. You can click the link above to download your coupon.

Any attempt to promote awareness and care of this beautiful planet is enthusiastically encouraged by me so no prizes for guessing where I'll be tomorrow morning with my camera......

I'm linking this to the Nature Notes blog

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Tenacity of a Mesquite - Nature Notes 20110420

Mesquite on Sunrise Street, Palm Springs
Sometimes circumstances throw curve balls at us.  Who hasn't had one of those?  Some may even consider we are currently all facing a global curve ball. 

For me every day brings something different, not always bad, often it's good, but it all requires assimilating.  It seems as though I am being tested on a whole lot of levels: am I going to trust that I am safe and that everything will work out for my best and highest good, and the highest good of those around me, or will I succumb to that overwhelming fear many are facing.  It's not easy trying to anticipate what's happening next and how I'm going to deal with it - whatever 'it' is.  As I was pondering the quirks of fate and the unknowingness of it all the vision of an ancient Mesquite tree I'd seen recently popped into my mind.

Look at this old girl!  She's been broken, she's been twisted, she's been hacked with a chainsaw, and she's even been down, but still she prevails.  The tortured limbs are still able to send up fresh green shoots. This old mesquite has been through more than I'll ever know but she's not succumbing to her 'story'.  Once again the World brought me back into balance through my Lens.  I trust I will never have to go through what this old tree has been through.  No, I'll just keep sending up new shoots and not look back.

Nature Notes for this week.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Nature's Simplicity

I'm always drawn to shapes and patterns when I'm out with my camera.  I love the light, too, of course,  what photographer doesn't, but naturally occurring patterns fascinate me.  With effortless grace Nature creates the simplest designs to most intricate with artistic flair.  When something goes "wrong", like this wildflower below with it's damaged stem, Nature just incorporates into her new design.  No fuss, no bother, just move forward.

What an insight the World had for me through my Lens this weekend!

Linked to Macro Monday.  Click the link to see some other wonderful entries.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hemet Stone Maze

One of the first things I noticed when I moved into this area a couple of months ago was an historical marker pointing up a side road declaring that the Hemet Maze Stone was this way.  I had no idea what a maze stone was and my sense of curiosity was burning, so I  donned a hat and hiking boots and went exploring.

I found out the Hemet Maze Stone is quite literally exactly as it says: a maze etched into a boulder face i.e a petroglyph.  Rock Art.  There was a bronze plaque placed in front with  a scanty bit of information about it, which I later found out to be at least partially incorrect.  Even more interesting to me was that my archaeologist acquaintance who is well known expert in Rock Art, really couldn't tell me much about the stone, either.

In a nutshell, thousands of years ago, a purposeful and gifted stone mason from who knows where, spent a long time carving an intricate maze into a large rock for a purpose which has escaped our 'modern day' comprehension.

I love a good mystery!

I would love to meet the artist.  I admire the single minded devotion to finishing the intricate design that is still waiting to be interpreted 3 - 4 thousand years later.   But perhaps that's what the World is reminding to me through my Lens:  that there really is no mystery - hard work, focus, and attention to detail will still produce quality work just as it did several thousand years ago.

Macro Monday 3-28-2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Weeds that Feed & Heal


At the end of my street there is a large area of vacant land which, rumour has it, will eventually turn into strip mall.  In the meantime I walk there daily watching nature run rampant.  As the weeds grew taller and reached for the sky with their cheery yellow blossoms I began to dread what may happen as surely the vegetation would begin dying off after seeding, and create a fire hazard.  

I had ominous visions of heavy trucks laden down with spray, attacking those lively plants....

And so each day as I walked the World began to speak to me through my lens.  It began to occur to me that 'weed' is a pretty general term for all the growth in the field, so I explored a little closer.  I am by no means any sort of plant specialist but with a background in agriculture and internet access it didn't take me long to identify some of these 'weeds'.

Common Mallow, Foxtail Barley & Bronze Button

In this bunch (above) there is Common Mallow and Foxtail Barley.  Common Mallow leaves are edible when picked young and can be cooked like spinach.  It is apparently high in iron and calcium.  It has also been used in the past for it's medicinal properties as relief for chest colds, sore throats and skin conditions.

Foxtail Barley is definitely not a popular weed to have around as the seeds can penetrate the skin, eyes and paws of animals, however it is the original barley from which the popular grain originated.  It is still edible as a grain although it isn't easy to harvest it, and it's dried root can be moistened and used as a compress for puffy eyes and styes in eyes.

Another couple I was able to identify were the Wild Mustard below on the left and Filaree aka Storksbill on the right.  Wild Mustard is another that doesn't have much of a fan base but it also has it's uses.  It's seeds can be used as a spice, it's leaves have cancer fighting properties when eaten as a vegetable (blanch in hot water first to remove some to the bitterness!), and it's flowers are used to produce the Bach Flower Remedy, Mustard.  This remedy is used to treat depression.  Good ol' mustard!  As for Filaree, it's young, tender leaves can be added to salads, and as a medicine it has been linked to relieving rheumatism, gout and excessive bleeding after childbirth.

Wild Mustard
Filaree aka Storksbill

One of my favorite weeds is the pretty little Bronze Button, aka Pineapple Weed.  It has delicate lacy leaves which emit a strong fragrance when crushed, supposedly of pineapple.  That seems a slight exaggeration to me but it definitely has a pleasant spicy sort of odor.

Bronze Button aka Pineapple Weed

This pretty little plant has flowers which may be eaten raw or dried and turned into a tea.  It can also help repel insects from the garden, too, quite a beneficial trait to have.

Daily I walked through my healing weeds wondering what was to become of them until one morning a large portion of the field was encased by an electric fence.  Interesting.  Nothing more happened for several days then the sheep arrived - nature's Roundup.  Over the next week or so the field was eaten down section by section, and before those healthy critters had finished the field the first part was already enthusiastically growing back, just as nature intended it should.

For other nature inspired blogs please visit Nature Notes at the Rambling Woods blog.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Dog Rescue

I was out driving the country roads over the weekend and came across a truck stopped on the side of the road with the driver and one other attempting to lure a little dog close enough for them to catch it.  As I pulled up another car stopped and it's driver came to the aid of the first couple.  The first driver produced some scraps of food left over from his lunch and the second conjured a dog leash from somewhere.  Other cars came slowly by and were quick to offer to help also, but it wasn't necessary as fairly quickly the little stray was cinched up in the leash and was in the arms of caring rescuers.

It was interesting to observe the interaction between the rescuers once the dog was secured.  They all wanted to give the dog a home!!  Eventually the mutt of mixed fortunes went home with the family with the food, and everyone who had come together for the common good of a helpless dog dispersed to follow their own agendas once more.

It encourages me to know that while most people are under more pressure than perhaps any time in recent history, they can still set aside their concerns  long enough to step out to help a needy creature and then want continue it's ongoing care. 

I have to wonder who's rescuing who here?


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Soaring Hawks, Diving Crows

As I was taking a long pleasant stroll in nature today with just my dogs for company I gradually became aware of the screeching, cackling and squawking of a large group of crows high over head.  It must be nesting season as I've seen the crows being noisy and rambunctious quite often of late.  With nothing else on my agenda I took a seat on a comfortable rock and sat back to enjoy the fray. 

They were very high so it wasn't easy to make out what the fuss was about but their agility in the air was impressive to watch. The birds got lower and closer to me and I continued to watch them, this time through my lens.  With the increased magnification I could see one of the birds was much bigger than the others and they all seemed to be picking on it.  A huge hawk had entered the crows fly zone and they were not impressed.  I watched and clicked some shots as they ganged up on hawk until finally he flew high into the sky to an altitude that seemed to placate the crows. 

As the hawk flew higher and further away the crows didn't seem to settle down at all.  They all went into a aerobatic routine.  Diving and soaring, twisting and swooping, it was as though they were doing their own version of a victory dance.  They'd driven the intruder off and they congratulating themselves.

I had to wonder though, who was the victor?  The crows who furiously defended their air space with incredible feats of swooping and diving, but never actually making contact with the hawk, until he'd had enough?  Or the hawk?  That big beautiful solo bird who had simply elevated himself above the squawking bunch, to enjoy the infinite blue skies above?

Perhaps everyone got what they desired today.  The crows have their family, the hawk has his solitude and I got a reminder - I can be a crow or I can be a hawk but trying to be both will only bring conflict.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wading Through Weeds

It's been a while since I've posted here and it isn't because the World hasn't had a few things for me to look at.  In fact, quite the contrary.  Every which way I look lately there has been something new for me to assimilate - or choke on.  It seems I've gotten myself lost, and although the World's Lens is clear and sharp, my eye is foggy and confused. 

I finally had to laugh at myself the other day when I was walking the dogs through a vibrant field of weeds down the end of my street.  The weeds were taller than the dog in a lot of areas and there was just no way he could see where he was going.  It dawned on me that this was exactly the situation I was in!

I thought I would allow him to lead and see what he'd do.  That bold little fellow just picked a direction and kept moving.  Oh, he stopped and sniffed the air a few times, but then just ploughed on through the growth until we reached the edge of the field where the way then became easy, of course.

What I found even more enlightening was noticing what he didn't do.  He didn't stop.  He didn't sit on his rear and wait for me to take over, and he certainly didn't panic, either.  He just put his head down and waded his way through those weeds until he was out in open.

I think it is time I tore a page from Fuzzy's book.  It is time to put my head down and keep moving through the obstacles until I can see where I'm going again.