Hope Amid the Destruction of Our Coral Reefs

Coral reefs are often referred to as the “rainforests of the sea.” They are among one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems on our planet. Coral reefs provide underwater habitat for marine life, provide protection from waves and storms in coastal areas, provide economic benefits from tourism and create sand for beaches. These are just some of the reasons why it’s essential to protect our coral reefs.

Yet, these very fragile ecosystems are being threatened at an alarming rate. Not surprisingly, humans have a significant impact on coral reef destruction. Pollution, overfishing, dynamite fishing, coastal development and climate change are some of the problems that threaten coral reefs. According to a recent report by World Resources Institute, 75% of our planet’s coral reefs are threatened. Given that statistic, it almost seems as though it’s a hopeless situation. The key word here is “almost.” In other words, there is hope amid the destruction.

And this video that I have decided to share with everyone is the epitome of hope! It’s a very uplifting video that everyone will not want to miss. I was absolutely “amazed” with this video. It’s a wonderful story that shows how one person can truly make a difference in saving our coral reefs. I won’t go into detail about the video because I want everyone to watch it. It’s a very short video (about two minutes long), so it won’t take too long to watch it. Besides, this video is a very worthwhile story that gives so much hope to a seemingly hopeless situation. Just to note, there is a very short advertisement (seconds) before the video begins.

I hope that everyone will take a moment to watch this important video. After watching it, I would love to hear your thoughts on it. Also, I’d like to hear how things are in your part of the world. After all, this problem affects all of us. Do you feel hopeful that we can save these important ecosystems? Would you describe yourself as environmentally conscious?

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The Guiding Light

This is the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse here in Florida. I took this picture on February 2, 2012. I'm pleased to say that my hubby and me both made it successfully to the top! The lighthouse stands 156 feet tall.

Inspiration is all around us. There is so much that inspire and guide our lives. Family, friends, animals and nature are just some of the things that inspire me each day. And as my gravatar says, “compassion” motivates me. It’s the driving force behind my words.

Yet, there is something that gives me that extra burst of energy that propels me to be bigger than myself. It is the guiding light in my life. That guiding light for me is a strong spiritual connection. It empowers me to begin each day with a renewed sense of hope. Many of you share that same spiritual connection that guides us in life.

Regardless of how we uniquely choose to define it, many of us find hope and inspiration in embracing the “light.” It gives us strength to face each new day. It brings meaning to our lives.

We don’t often share our sense of spirituality with each other. We don’t always wear it on our sleeve, so to speak. Moreover, it’s not uncommon for people to avoid discussions revolving around faith and spirituality because it’s often considered “taboo” to do so. Yet, for many of us it is the strength behind our words and actions.

Being spiritually connected helps me weather the storms. After all, life does present challenges from time to time. Yet, during the trials and tribulations of life, I find peace amid the chaos. I’d rather walk together in the light than walk alone in the darkness.

The “light” reassures me that we can make a difference together. It inspires me. It gives me purpose. It guides me.

So, what guides you in life? Would you describe yourself as a spiritual person? If so, does it motivate you to be more compassionate in life? Does that compassion crossover to all living things?

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Awareness Is Empowering…

Have you heard the saying, “If you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything?” In other words, be passionate about what you care about. And it goes without saying that I am passionate about the well-being of animals. Likewise, most of us care very deeply about animals. At the very least, most people do not want to see an innocent animal harmed.

It is my belief that awareness is empowering. After all, knowledge is the answer to ignorance. The more I learn, the more I realize how crucial the choices that we make impact not just us, but all living creatures that inhabit our planet. That being said, I have decided to share a short video with everyone. It is an undercover circus video (one among many out there). I am sharing it not to shock, but rather to raise awareness to what these circus animals experienced. Moreover, it’s not a warm, fuzzy make-us-feel-good video. However, the world we live in isn’t always warm and fuzzy. I personally think that it’s better to have the courage to see the painful truth for ourselves than it is to turn our backs because it doesn’t make us feel good. Believe me, it is much easier to do that! I personally prefer the warm, fuzzy videos. Yet, if we don’t make difficult choices, we will merely create a life of fantasy for ourselves. Unfortunately, the animals shown in this video did not have a choice. So, please take a few minutes of your time to watch the video. After watching it, I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on the video. As for me, I have never been to the circus. I don’t believe that animals were put here for our amusement. I’d much rather like to know that these beautiful creatures are roaming free as nature intended them to be. That’s just my humble opinion.

So, how do you feel about animals in entertainment? Do you believe that it’s okay to use animals in entertainment? Why or why not?

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‘Tis the Season to Give With Purpose

It’s that time of year again. ‘Tis the season for gift giving. Fortunately, Black Friday is a distant memory. For those who may not be familiar, Black Friday occurs each year here in the US the day after Thanksgiving. It is a time that deals can be had for holiday shoppers. It can also be sheer chaos! Some people get so caught up in the frenzy of it all that things can get out of control, which has led to injuries and even death. So very sad, but it’s also true. Fortunately, for the most part, the chaos is kept in check.

For me personally, I left the chaos behind this year as is customary for me to do. No Black Friday for me. I’m sure that there were some very good deals out there, but I must admit that getting good deals isn’t a priority for me this holiday season. Now don’t misunderstand me, I love saving money just as much as the next person. That being said, my main focus this holiday season doesn’t revolve around spending lots of money. What brings me joy during the holidays is not centered around consumerism.My primary focus this holiday season is to fully embrace the concept of “charity.” Specifically, my husband and me have made a commitment to each other to forego gift giving. We have decided to give our gifts to charity, so to speak. In other words, the money that we would have spent on each other for things that we don’t need will now be given to charity. In addition, the amount of time we would have spent looking for holiday shopping deals is now going to be spent doing more meaningful things (i.e., acts of charity). Nonetheless, we could spend ourselves into oblivion, but it will never buy us true happiness. For me personally, I feel happier when I can give something back, but not so much in a material kind of way.

It’s not that I’m entirely opposed to gift giving. I think that some gift giving can be positive. It just seems to me that there is too much emphasis placed on how much we have, and not enough on who we are. More importantly, I feel strongly about living in a world that connects with each other on a more spiritual and purposeful level. Gadgets are fun, but I don’t want them to become the center of my life this holiday season, or any other time of the year for that matter. I guess, “Diamonds are not this girl’s best friend.” That being said, it is possible to include charity into gift giving. For example, I have a bracelet that I love to wear every day. It’s a bracelet with purpose. I bought it to help raise awareness about the needless annual slaughter of dolphins in Japan. The bracelet says, “Save Japan Dolphins.” A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the charity to help save the dolphins. It makes a great gift idea, and it also has purpose. By the way, for those who want to learn more about this horrific problem, just click this link to Save Japan Dolphins.

I love to wear my "Save Japan Dolphins" bracelet! It has style and purpose!

It’s no secret that we live in a society that encourages materialism. As a matter of fact, often times we identify our own self-worth with what we own. The more we consume, the better we feel. The less we get, the more we feel deprived. What kind of message is this sending to kids and to each other? It’s no wonder that kids often grow up to spend themselves right into debt. Nonetheless, do we express love through buying lots of material things for each other, or do we just become less spiritually connected? As previously mentioned, gift giving can be positive (i.e., it gets us to think outside of ourselves), but I personally believe that our society puts too much emphasis on what we own. Besides, who really needs all that meaningless stuff anyway? It just becomes clutter that most of us don’t quite know what to do with. It’s just a diversion that side tracks us from any real spiritual purpose in life. Eventually, most of it just ends up in a landfill. How good can that be for our planet?

We are never going to eliminate materialism completely from the holiday season. As long as there are people, there will be a demand for material things. Yet, we do have the power to control how much materialism we want to include in our holiday season. As for me, I know that I will also be taking time to enjoy the gift of nature during the holidays!

So, I am choosing to celebrate this holiday season by doing acts of charity. It’s not how much I spend, but how much I can give in a meaningful way. And you can bet that helping animals in need will be top on my list as they are often last to receive any help at all. By the way, being charitable need not always be about donating money. One can also be charitable by donating time. No doubt, time can be in short supply, but it’s a matter of how we prioritize our time.

One final thought, people often talk about the importance of spending time with family during the holiday season. I personally think that family time is very important. However, I think that there are times that we get so caught up with our own family that we might forget that there are plenty of people out there who do not have any family, or will be away from their family for the holidays. So, why not reach out to them?

I guess you could say that I will be busy this holiday season, but I won’t be spending my time shopping for the usual gifts. If it doesn’t have purpose, it’s not on my list. Moreover, acts of charity are priority number one for me.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone!! Thank you all so very much for taking time to read my blog and for your kind comments. I hope that your holidays are filled with warmth, peace and happiness. So, how will you spend this holiday season? Will acts of charity be a priority for you?

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Health Matters: An Evening With Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr.

Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. University of Central Florida October 20, 2011

Like many of you, I have a thirst for knowledge especially when it comes to making our world a better place for all of us. I try to keep up with a variety of pertinent issues that affect all of us. I believe that life is full of endless possibilities that could change our world for the better. So, why not open our minds to explore new ideas that could make life better for all of us? Moreover, why not empower ourselves with the knowledge that could make life better not only for us, but also for the entire planet?

It goes without saying that the topic of “health” hasn’t always been a hot topic. However, that seems to be changing lately. People are becoming much more aware of the need to eat healthier foods, exercise and reduce stress levels. Unfortunately, often times it takes a “wake-up call” to get people to change their lifestyle. For most people, this occurs later in life when things have already spiraled out of control.

And it also goes without saying that most people do not want anyone telling them what to eat “or” how to live. Of course that all changes when someone suffers a heart attack or stroke, and they are lucky enough to survive it. Sometimes it’s experiencing the loss of a loved one that gets us to reconsider our lifestyle choices. Moreover, it doesn’t always take something as severe as a heart attack, stroke, or the loss of a loved one to get people to make healthier choices. Often times high cholesterol levels will get people to embrace a healthier lifestyle. For others, it’s ethical reasons that motivate their choices. For some, it’s a combination of both ethical and health reasons. Nonetheless, there are all sorts of reasons why people choose to live their particular lifestyle. That being said, those lifestyle choices could have positive “or” negative consequences dependent upon the particular choices that individual makes.

As a seeker of knowledge, I was elated when I heard that internationally renowned physician and former surgeon Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., of the prestigious Cleveland Clinic  was coming to speak at my alma mater the University of Central Florida  located in Orlando. Specifically, Dr. Esselstyn is the “who’s who” of medical doctors. He also happens to be an Olympic gold medal winner of the 1956 US rowing team. He was also awarded the Bronze Star for his work as a surgeon in the Vietnam War. In addition, Dr. Esselstyn is among one of the doctors that former US President Bill Clinton credits for his recent decision to change to a plant-based diet.

Dr. Esselstyn believes that a vegan diet “without oils” can prevent and reverse heart disease. He documents this in his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. And during his presentation, he brought all sorts of slides to show it. I must admit that the results of his studies were amazing to me. I happen to be vegan myself (with oils), so it’s always interesting to see the outcome of a vegan diet albeit without oils. By the way, for those unfamiliar, vegans do not consume meat, dairy, eggs, and all other animal-derived ingredients. On the other hand, vegetarians also do not eat meat but may consume dairy, eggs, and other animal-derived ingredients.

Interestingly enough, with the exception of UCF medical students, my husband and me were some of the youngest people there among the attendees. Sadly, many of the people who attended the event had serious health problems, and even traveled from afar via airplane to attend the event. Yet, I kept thinking to myself, shouldn’t others without heart disease be here too? After all, why not embrace prevention? Just to point out, Dr. Esselstyn mentioned during his presentation that heart disease starts very early in life. It doesn’t wait till we all become senior citizens to begin!

After Dr. Esselstyn’s presentation, he took questions from the audience. There were lots of success stories. Many people saw significant results on his oil-free vegan diet. They had significantly lowered their cholesterol levels, lowered their blood pressure and lost weight.

After the question and answer period, Dr. Esselstyn stayed long after to talk with people. It was very obvious to me that Dr. Esselstyn truly cared about the well-being of those who attended the free event. As a matter of fact, I was so impressed with him that I wanted to share the event with everyone. Plus, I even bought the critically acclaimed documentary movie FORKS OVER KNIVES, which Dr. Esselstyn costars. I just added it to The List on my blog. It’s a must see for anyone that wants to live a healthier lifestyle. And it goes without saying that a plant-based diet is kind to animals and our planet. Nonetheless, it was truly a fascinating and inspiring evening filled with very important information that could save lives. Needless to say, I was honored to meet Dr. Esselstyn. He may be a renowned physician and former surgeon, but more importantly, he is a human being with a big heart for helping others. Just to note, there was nothing for sale at this free event (not his book or the movie). Clearly, Dr. Esselstyn’s only focus was on saving lives. That being said, there were lots of people in attendance (as in me) that would have loved to buy his book at the event! At any rate, Dr. Esselstyn graciously signed books for those who brought them, and posed for some pictures.

By the way, I have reduced my oils since attending the event. I will always be a lifelong vegan. I must admit I became vegan for ethical reasons (i.e., kindness to animals), but it sure is wonderful to know that it’s amazingly healthy being vegan!

So, have you ever considered a plant-based diet? Why or why not?

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The Liebster Blog Award Honorees

I hope that everyone has read my previous post, A Sweet SurpriseThe Liebster Blog Award. This is the follow-up to that post. This is where I get to nominate five other bloggers for this beloved award. Nonetheless, I know that a few of you have already been honored with this award. So, I wanted to share this with those of you that have not yet received this award. After all, why give this award to someone who already has it? Also, I wish that I could nominate more than five blogs because there are so many wonderful blogs out there! In addition, I want to thank everyone that has been part of my blogging journey. I have met some very kind, inspirational and talented bloggers that truly make a difference. I appreciate all the kind comments. It goes without saying that I am truly honored to have met some pretty awesome people here in the WordPress community! Most of all, thanks again to The World Via Standby  for bestowing this honor to my blog.

Without further ado, in no particular order, these are my top five picks for:

The Liebster Blog Award!

Sony-Stories of My Wandering Feet & Mind: yobynos.wordpress.com  A devoted husband, father, educator, adventurer, and “green warrior.” Sony cares deeply about our planet, and the animals that inhabit it.

Barb-Passionate about Pets & People: passionateaboutpets.wordpress.com The name of Barb’s blog says it all. Barb is passionate about pets and people. Moreover, Barb has compassion for all living things!

John-Blithe and Untroubled Life: blitheanduntroubledlife.wordpress.com  John writes about life in the Philippines. He writes about issues that affect his community. Also, John has a big heart for helping others. He volunteers to help the less fortunate.

Barbara Rodgers-By the Sea: ingebrita.net  Barbara’s blog inspires me in so many ways. If it wasn’t for me reading a recent post by Barbara, I would have missed this year’s harvest moon. Nonetheless, I salute Barbara for her recent decision to become a vegetarian. She describes her journey in recent posts. She too has compassion for animals.

Vegobsessionchick-Veg Obsession: vegobsession.com  Much to my delight, I recently came across this blog. This self-proclaimed chick is a vegan mom that has compassion for all living things! Her recipes are beyond yummy and very healthy. And did I mention kind to animals? Her recipes are simply sumptuous for anyone who loves food. And who doesn’t love food?

Congratulations to all of you! All of the specifics for accepting this award is in my previous post, A Sweet Surprise: The Liebster Blog Award. Also, I hope that others who read this post will take a moment to discover your blogs (if they haven’t done so already). By the way, I still have one more award post coming soon. At that time, I will have the honor of bestowing The Versatile Blogger Award to five more bloggers!

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A Sweet Surprise: The Liebster Blog Award

Many thanks to The World Via Standby  for presenting Words With Purpose with:

                                                           The Liebster Blog Award!

The World Via Standby  travels the world with her pilot hubby exploring all sorts of exciting places. Her photos are truly breathtaking and her travel stories fascinate me. Also, I get to learn about so many different cultures. Since I’m not a world traveler yet, I get to live vicariously through her magical adventures. She may be “sassy and often defiant” as she so eloquently writes on her blog, but she also happens to adore animals. So, many heartfelt thanks to her for bestowing this prestigious award to Words With Purpose! It’s always a special honor to be recognized by our fellow bloggers.

And what could possibly be as exciting as being recognized by our fellow bloggers? Well, there’s just one more thing. This award is an opportunity to generate more traffic to my blog, which means that I can reach more people. Hurray! This is just spectacular for my animal friends because I mostly write about them. They are especially excited about it! And speaking of animals, this award really is not for me, but it’s for them. So…I am officially presenting all of the beloved animals that inhabit the earth with this award! Nonetheless, for those of you who are unfamiliar, it’s my understanding that Liebster means beloved in German. So, a beloved award for some beloved animals sounds pretty sweet to me! Last but not least, there are some rules for accepting and receiving this award.

Here are the “rules” for accepting The Liebster Blog Award:

1.  Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.

2.  Link back to the blogger who awarded you.

3.  Copy & paste the blog award on your blog.

4.  Pick five other blogs worthy of The Liebster Blog Award.

5.  Let the Top Five know you chose them by leaving a comment on their blog.

My “Top Five” are still in the works. I’m consulting with my animal friends at this very moment. So, as soon as I hear from all of them, I will update all of my wonderful blogging friends with the exciting news. And there is one more thing. All of the animals would like to give The World Via Standby  a big round of heartfelt “paws applause” for remembering them!! The official “awards party” is happening later tonight. I hear that they are going to dance the night away. Oh my! They sure are some party animals!!

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