Connecting to Nature   #MondayMusings

Connecting to Nature #MondayMusings

Happy World Environment Day! This year, it seems an even more important day to celebrate our environment and pledge to clean it up, when the leader of the ‘free world’ seems to have chosen a path away from this. Thankfully, the actions of a nation’s leadership are not always reflective of the vast majority of its people. My #MondayMusings today consists of watching and sharing with you some TED Talk videos connecting to Nature. Be inspired!

‘Connecting People to Nature’, the theme for World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share. World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and takes place every 5 June.

This year’s host country Canada got to choose the theme and will be at the centre of celebrations around the planet. World Environment Day is a day for everyone, everywhere. Since it began in 1972, global citizens have organized many thousands of events, from neighbourhood clean-ups, to action against wildlife crime, to replanting forests.

This year’s theme invites you to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.

Connecting to Nature

Nature’s beauty can be fleeting — but not through Louie Schwartzberg’s lens. His stunning time-lapse photography, accompanied by powerful words from Benedictine monk Brother David Steindl-Rast, serves as a meditation on being grateful for every day.

 

You don’t need to plan an exotic trip to find creative inspiration. Just look up, says Gavin Pretor-Pinney, founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society. As he shares charming photos of nature’s finest aerial architecture, Pretor-Pinney calls for us all to take a step off the digital treadmill, lie back and admire the beauty in the sky above.

How do you define “nature?” If we define it as that which is untouched by humans, then we won’t have any left, says environmental writer Emma Marris. She urges us to consider a new definition of nature — one that includes not only pristine wilderness but also the untended patches of plants growing in urban spaces — and encourages us to bring our children out to touch and tinker with it, so that one day they might love and protect it.

 

“ Obviously, survival is important but we weren’t put here just to survive, we were put here to create. What if we could begin to imagine a nature-rich future with new kinds of cities, homes and neighborhoods? New kinds of workplaces? If we don’t aim much higher than sustainability, we’ll never reach it. An experience in nature is super-important in making us mindful of who we are and where we are in the moment.” – Richard Louv, author of The Nature Principle

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Ask Me Again

Ask Me Again

Today I’m happy to share with you about a book called Ask Me Again with a note from its author, H M Shander. Although the book itself is in the womens’ fiction/ contemporary romance genre that I normally share on my other blog, I’ve chosen to share this with you here, because over the next two weeks the proceeds from the sale of the book will go to a great cause.

Also, since I’m writing for #NaBloPoMo, I thought it was right for the message and the giveaway to reach a larger audience.

Ask Me Again

After years of walking on eggshells and feeling trapped in her unhappy marriage, 30-something year old Charlotte feels alone and unwanted. She longs for a time when she was happy and truly loved. When her world is turned upside down by a broken waterline, the true loneliness of her life becomes overwhelming. How did she end up here?

ask-me-again
Andrew is a good-looking, Russian man with the heart of gold and the ability to make Charlotte’s heart come alive after years of it slowly tapping along. When he shows up on her doorstep as the Project Manager in charge of repairing her flooded home, it seems she will have to fight hard against her feelings. She’s married and he’s engaged, and they have a history.

It’s been more than 13 years since Andrew and Charlotte broke up, but that doesn’t mean the past is forgotten. The more time they spend together repairing the house, the harder it becomes to resist their intoxicating chemistry.

Through death, lies and betrayals, Charlotte leans on Andrew, finding solace in the fact that she never needs to hide herself from him. When a huge loss pushes her to the edge and makes her question everything, she has to decide if she should stay in the life she’s created and make the best of it, or risk it all for a second chance at true happiness.

Note from H M Sander

h m shander

I’ve been writing since I was fourteen. My original stories were handwritten on loose-leaf paper tied together with yarn, complete with its own custom cover courtesy of cut-outs from whatever magazines I had around.

My early love developed into a passion for writing contemporary romance novels. Now, as an adult who has experienced reality (not like my wildly naïve fourteen-year-old self) my characters overcome tough odds, with real (and dark) obstacles. However, the rewards are sweeter.

My heroes who are swoon-worthy and handsome and gentle, who have their own issues. No domineering alpha-males from me – I’ll leave those to many other wonderful authors I know and adore. My heroines are less than perfect with a very select few she’ll call friends. She’s neither popular nor outgoing but deeply loved by those lucky enough to know her.

Right now I am hard at work on a sequel to Duly Noted as well as a second-chance romance story. I’m also tinkering on a novella which follows after Ask Me Again as I’ve received many emails from readers asking for more from Charlotte and Company.

It’s because of wonderful readers that I continue to write and develop my stories. I absolutely adore it when readers connect with me on Twitter  because I’m very chatty on there, more so than my Facebook page . However, regardless of the way you contact me, I’m sure to respond.

stop-abuse-in-families

For the first two weeks of November, all PROFITS from the sales of ASK ME AGAIN are being donated to the SAIF Stop Abuse in Families – Society. (www.stopabuse.ca)

This not-for-profit organization provides services and counselling to its clients (and families) who are experiencing abuse. They also have support groups, and have partnered with schools and community groups to give education and prevention. Locally run and operated, they are an organization near and dear to my heart.

Buy the book:

Amazon www.amzn.com/B015JV8ZSI
Smashwords: https://goo.gl/zuHbnj
Kobo: https://goo.gl/GefRuL
Barnes & Noble: http://goo.gl/Ir0OVF
iBooks: https://goo.gl/29ib6V

Giveaway

The author is offering an e-book giveaway during the Ask Me Again Book Blitz! THREE lucky readers have the chance to win an ebook copy of RUN AWAY CHARLOTTE.
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Standing On My Brothers Shoulders #suicideprevention

Standing On My Brothers Shoulders #suicideprevention

Today, September 10, is World Suicide Prevention day – a day dedicated to bring focus on how we can prevent the tragedy of suicide and all the grief and devastation it leaves in its wake.

Last year I read a book that I got through NetGalley and though I was supposed to share a review of it a long time ago, it somehow didn’t happen. However, the book and its author have stayed in my mind and I would recommend that you read it too.

Standing on My Brothers Shoulders: Making Peace with Grief and Suicide

Tara Lal is a full time fire fighter with Fire and Rescue NSW based at Woollahra fire station in Sydney. She was born in North London in 1971 to an English mother and an Indian father, but moved her life to Australia twenty years ago.

Tara Lal’s childhood was battered by her father’s mental illness and by her mother’s death when she was thirteen. Caught up in grief and despair, she developed a deep, caring bond with her charismatic and kind older brother Adam, though he struggled silently with growing anxiety and depression. Four years after their mother’s death, Adam committed suicide.

Grief and insecurity threatened to engulf Tara, but eventually she found, through a dialogue with the words her brother left behind in his diaries, her reason to live.

Ever since her brother’s death Tara held onto his diaries with the intention of doing ‘something’ with them. She remained acutely aware of the tragic beauty in his writing and an overarching sense that he wanted them to be read. Some twenty odd years after his death, the time finally seemed right and Tara began transcribing his diaries. The break-up of a relationship in her late thirties combined with a call to a suicide at work thrust Tara into reliving her teenage grief. So began what felt like a vomit of words onto the page. As the writing unfolded she began to feel an overwhelming sense that somehow by telling her and her brother’s story between them they could shine a light for others as they navigated their darkest days.

 

An honest and insightful book

Tara loved and hero worshipped her brother and when he took such an extreme step, he left her totally devastated. The book is honest, insightful and I was totally caught up with Tara’s story of loss and survival and how she broke the cycle of grief and despair in her own life.

Follow Tara Lal on Twitter.

Read these articles in Huffington Post and Mail Online to get more insights into the book.

The book includes an Afterword on the possibilities for recovery and growth following a tragedy, written by Miriam Akhtar, author of Positive Psychology for Overcoming Depression.

Buy Standing on My Brother’s Shoulders: Making Peace with Grief and Suicide – A True Story on Amazon

Let’s work towards #suicideprevention

Tara and Adam’s story is unfortunately one that is repeated around the world.  Just recently, I wrote about a young girl who commited suicide and how communication and a little more attention to her might have prevented the tragedy.  Today, let’s rededicate ourselves to connecting, communicating and care to prevent suicide.

Please read these two posts from bloggers I admire :

Katie Paul – whose significant other commited suicide writes a post for those left behind.

Roshan Radhakrishnan – who writes a post on suicide on this day every year. His post today is here.

 

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We Belong To Each Other #MondayMusings

We Belong To Each Other #MondayMusings

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” – Mother Teresa

I’m asking my Dad if he watched the RNC and the DNC on television. And he says, he’s fed up of hearing about American politics. Besides, he adds, it doesn’t concern us in India. So me, being me, I start to argue about how the world is no longer what it used to be, and everything that happens in the world does affect us. He says that we ought to focus on the politics in our country, and how the present government is slowly crushing minorities here. I tell him that Trump’s hate politics targets groups of people based on religion and ethnicity will affect our country….

A phone call and the rain put a stop to the discussion, but his argument stays with me.

It makes me recall one of Anthony D’mello‘s parable which I’d like to share with you.

There was once a country where it became possible for everyone to develop and acquire their own nuclear bombs – small ones, the size of hand grenades, but powerful enough to blow up an entire city.

A bitter debate raged over the right of private citizens to possess such explosives – till they came to the following compromise:  No one would be allowed to carry a nuclear bomb in public without a license, but what people did in the homes was their private concern.

I’m talking to a group about missing children. Someone tells me that since most of the children on the streets are from poor backgrounds (her opinion), the country would be better served if compulsory family planning was enforced among the poor. I have no argument to offer in response. What can I say? I thank her for her opinion and move on.

When did we become so immune to the pain of others? When did we stop caring as individuals and groups are the target of hatred? How can we sit by and watch injustice rule? How can we let hatred divide us and seek to govern our countries and the world?

We cannot say what happens to another does not affect us. We must speak up.

We cannot and must not play into the hands of evil forces causing hate and division. We cannot let our fears of things and people who are different from us rule our lives. Black or white. Rich or poor. Hindu or Muslim. Christian and Jew. We belong to each other. Until we realize this, we will have no peace.

Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it.
Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it.
Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

we-belong-to-each-other

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Would you like to take part in #MondayMusings?
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  • Use the hashtag #MondayMusings.
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#MondayMusings


All Or Nothing Day

All Or Nothing Day

Did you know that today, 26 July, is All or Nothing Day?

I found out about it only recently.

Here’s the philosophy behind the day which certainly resonates with me.

The Romans understood it so well they had a saying: “Carpe Diem” or seize the day. All Or Nothing Day takes that spirit and urges people to break through their barriers, ignore the fears that hold them back, and make that big commitment to a better life.

Whether it’s applying for a job, trying an extreme sport, or just saying ‘sorry’ to someone, everyone has something they would love to do if only they weren’t so scared. All Or Nothing Day is the day for the girding of loins, taking it on the chin, and confronting those fears. As it says, by breaking the deadlock you may end up with all or nothing, but at least the barrier is broken. You succeed or fail, but are no longer paralysed by indecision.

Seize the day; the rest of your life won’t wait forever. – via Days of The Year

When Zach Sobiech, a 17 year high school student found out that he was dying of cancer, he spent all of his time writing songs and lyrics that he wanted to leave as a legacy. His central, and most powerful message to us all is :

You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living. – Zach Sobiech

all-or-nothing-day

 

Heather Von St. James,  10-year mesothelioma survivor is giving her all or nothing to be an advocate for mesothelioma awareness. She makes sure her voice is counted among those who work for the banning  of asbestos. Read more about her story and connect with her on Twitter.

For your information Mesothelioma is a rare, aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, or heart. Caused by asbestos, mesothelioma has no known cure and has a very poor prognosis.

mesothelioma-ribbon

Let’s give our all or nothing to fight against causes that our dear to us – for the rights of children, equal rights for women, cancer research, banning carcinogenic chemicals, keeping our water and environment safe……
The list can go on…

What are you giving your energies to today?

 

If I Could Have Any Superpower

If I Could Have Any Superpower

This is a Finish the Sentence Friday post. Today’s sentence is “If I could have any superpower, I would want to be able to…” co-hosted by Kristi at Finding Ninee,  Amy of A Goode One and Michelle of Crumpets and Bollocks!

My first response to finish a sentence that went ‘If I could have any superpower, I would want to be able to..’

  • What do you mean ‘If…’? I am a superpower!

My second response would be

  • wear my underpants below my pants…they not called underpants for nothing!

My third response would be to request you to completely ignore responses one and two. Thank you.

If I could have any superpower, I would want to be able to…

  • make sure every child is protected from abuse of any kind
  • do away with domestic abuse
  • make organ donation a natural choice for every one
  • reach out with hope to every one who considers suicide
  • abolish poverty and give every one a chance to work in a free and fair environment
  • find a cure for AIDS, Alzheimer’s, cancer and all the mental health issues that plague so many
  • ensure the rights of children to a balanced diet, good living conditions, safety, education, health care, play and recreation and participation in community in accordance with the UN’s Convention on Child Rights
  • see to it that the ‘golden years’ are truly that for all elderly people.
  • end war and the threat of it………..

If I could have any superpower, I would want to be able to make this world a kinder, safer and more just place.

If I could have any superpower, I would want to be able to make you smile!
if-i-could-have-any-superpower
What would you do with superpowers?

Have A Heart #refugeewelcome #septemeberchallenge

Have A Heart #refugeewelcome #septemeberchallenge

Corinne and I were discussing the refugee crisis in Syria as she was bathing me this morning. She told me that heart-wrenching story of little Aylan Kurdi.

We went on to discuss J K Rowling’s tweets on the refugee issue and Corinne shared two of the authors tweets with me.

The first one:

The second one:

I’ll admit that the second tweet had me upset for a minute, until I understood the context. J K Rowling was not criticising the need for care for dogs. No, she was merely criticising the media for not giving enough coverage to the refugee crisis.

I heard too that the Pope Francis appealed to European Catholics, calling every parish and institution to take in at least one refugee family.  I’ve admired him for taking the name of a saint renowned for his love for animals. With this news, he  went up in my estimation.

refugees-welcome

via Wikimedia

 

My question today is to you, human beings.

How can you stay silent in the face of such suffering?

How can you close your hearts and minds to people dying to live?

What use are all your scientific and technological advances, if they make you less than human? 

What will it take for you to have a heart?

Your furry and confused friend,

Pablo

PS from Corinne : I have chosen have Pablo speak on this issue, not because it’s not serious. On the contrary the gravity of this situation makes it hard for me to find words.

Updated to add these links:

What can you do to help?

29 Ways You Can Help

Add your links for Day 6 of the September Blogging Challenge below.

 

The Importance of Philanthropy

The Importance of Philanthropy

Philanthropy etymologically means “love of humanity” in the sense of caring, nourishing, developing and enhancing “what it is to be human” on both the benefactors’ (by identifying and exercising their values in giving and volunteering) and beneficiaries’ (by benefiting) parts. – via Wikipedia

More and more, José and I are looking at how we move from charity to philanthropy to make a real and lasting difference. We’ve been doing some research on this and I thought I’d share it with you.

All across the world we see the importance of philanthropy because it focuses on solving social problems, not simply alleviating them for the short term. Charity helps in emergencies for the short-term and is also an important part of relieving problems, but as Robert Rosenkranz explains, philanthropy provides long-term benefits through education, leadership effectiveness programs, revitalizing communities and public health impacting the present and the future.

Philanthropy Works When Government Doesn’t

We know how governments and politicians function! It’s not just about money and resources being siphoned off. It also depends on the political philosophy and agence. When political parties disagree on budget deals, the social programs that are intended to help people improve their lives may be reduced. Philanthropic giving is not affected by this and can function through private citizens and donations that continue to benefit society.

How Does One Determine The Success Of Philanthropic Efforts?

Each philanthropist must have a personal definition of success. However, there are several criteria that may be used by everyone.

• The program reflects the beliefs and values of the philanthropist.
• The philanthropist has a clear strategy of what they will do and not do.
• The strategy allows for progress to be measured.

The philanthropist must conduct focused research to determine where there is a need that conforms to his or her beliefs and values. For example, if they are interested in literacy for children under 15 years, they may need to research the geographical areas where literacy is failing and find the reasons. They must also decide what they can personally do towards raising the literacy rate for children. This may be funding schools, employing more teachers, creating after-school programs or lobbying local politicians/ legislature.

Success Is Not Stagnant

Once a philanthropist begins serious work in his or her chosen field, other opportunities may present themselves. It’s important for any program to be flexible enough to encompass the unexpected. For example, while researching literacy, the philanthropist may encounter extreme poverty or lack of opportunity for some children to attend school. These problems may require a different approach, and the success of the original endeavor will depend on also addressing these problems. If one program tries to help every aspect of life that surrounds illiteracy, its resources may become too thin and not give enough help in any area to be successful. This is where several programs may join. For example, one may be for reducing poverty and another for promoting school attendance.

Here are some guidelines that I think must be adhered to

• Learn about the culture and geography of the area in which you will work.
• Learn about the successes and failures of others trying to help in the same area.
• Ask if the people you aim to help ready and willing to be helped in your specific area.
• Ask if there are other philanthropists addressing the same issue.
• Ask if there are programs that are working and some that are not working.
• Determine a time-frame where your area becomes self-sufficient and no longer requires your help?

Philanthropy goes a long way to solving many social problems that governments may not be able to reach. Private individuals who have gained wealth may want to give back to society and help others get a firm foundation for the rest of their lives.

Do you have any experience, ideas or suggestions on philanthoropic projects?