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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Inspired by the Harvest Moon

Credit: Harvest Moon by DebAnne70 Via Creative Commons

Ever since I started my blogging experience with WordPress not so long ago, I have “met” some wonderful people in the blogging community. They inspire me with their blogs and kind comments. I love reading other bloggers’ posts as much as I enjoy writing my own. Just recently, I read a beautiful poem titled “Under the Harvest Moon” by poet Carl Sandburg that was posted by another WordPress blogger. It was a very beautiful, inspirational poem. For those of you who are not familiar with the actual “Harvest Moon,” it’s a full moon that occurs closest to the autumn equinox. It appears orange due to the way light scatters in the atmosphere. In other words, the Harvest Moon is low in the sky near the horizon where the atmosphere is thicker, which absorbs blue light and allows red light to pass through. Just to point out, I’m not an expert on astronomy, so I needed to do a little research on that. Nonetheless, as a result of reading that beautiful poem, I decided to take some time to enjoy the real “Harvest Moon” on that very same evening that I read the poem. I first commented that I had planned to enjoy the experience later that evening. After my “Harvest Moon” experience, I posted this second comment:

“I thought I would give an update on this evening’s beautiful “Harvest Moon.” Not long after sunset, I went outside with my husband to enjoy the view together. We looked to the evening sky, and much to our surprise, we could not find the moon at all. We looked east, west, south and north. Yet, there was no moon to be found. However, the sky was clear. We saw numerous stars. I said, “How could this possibly be?” So, we decided to take a stroll down the road to look for the elusive “Harvest Moon.” After a short walk, we looked “low” in the east sky. And low and behold, shining through the swaying palm trees was a bright “orange moon.” I have not seen anything quite like it before. I have seen many moons, but nothing at all like this. It really was breathtaking! The color was as crisp as an autumn day. Just stunning! Anyway, we both loved it. We will cherish the memory. Seasons will change, but memories will last forever. Thanks again for the reminder! I would have completely missed it otherwise.”

I wanted to share my comment with you for one very important reason. To be specific, I wanted to show how other WordPress bloggers could inspire or enlighten us with their blog. It may be something as simple as sharing a beautiful poem. As in this case, the poem served as a reminder that the “Harvest Moon” was to make an appearance. I thought that I might have been too late, but soon realized via a quick internet search that I had not yet missed it.

Life is full of stunning natural wonders that we have yet to experience. The “Harvest Moon” is one such natural wonder that I am now familiar with more than ever. My beautiful experience with this natural wonder has given me a wonderful memory with family that I will cherish forever. As I wrote on my comment, “seasons will change, but memories will last forever.” And so will all of our wonderful experiences with family and friends.

As much as I enjoy writing what I am passionate about; I also love reading other bloggers’ posts. Other bloggers can inspire us, enlighten us, take us on exciting journeys, make us laugh, or even make us cry. Most of all, they are like a distant friend. Yet, the distance doesn’t weaken the blogging bond that we all share together. And as “The Island Traveler” so eloquently wrote on his blog, “It’s not about numbers, but it’s building meaningful connections.”

Here is the link to the poem that inspired me to learn more about the actual Harvest Moon: http://www.ingebrita.net/2011/09/12/under-the-harvest-moon/

For me personally, this learning experience turned into a beautiful, memorable moment in time. Why not enjoy the many natural wonders that Mother Nature has to offer with family, friends, or even experience them solo? It may be too late to enjoy the Harvest Moon this time around, yet there are so many other natural wonders that await your arrival.

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Embracing Compassion for All Living Things

Each one of us is uniquely different. Yet, in spite of our differences, we share a similar bond. Specifically, we are passionate about what is “important to us.” In other words, we may not share similar interests, ambitions, or beliefs in life. However, that is exactly what makes us so uniquely special. It is our individuality that makes life more interesting. Wouldn’t life be boring with a big “B” if we were all alike?

For most of us, we are driven by more than one passion in life. For instance, I have always loved helping animals, but I have other passions as well. My degree is in psychology, which has served me well in working with children and families. Plus, I also enjoy working with elderly people. For me personally, I am happiest when I feel that I am making a difference.

My true friends have been very supportive of my passions in life. By the way, it’s easy to decipher who are your true friends. They will “show interest” in your passions too. Nonetheless, having a blog is a wonderful way to “see” if your friends are interested in what you have to say! Moreover, the blogging community has been pretty awesome too. I have met some really cool bloggers who have just been phenomenal! Also, I have a loving husband who supports me in all of my endeavors. Plus, he just happens to be a vegetarian who loves animals. So, I guess it’s fair to say that I have been blessed in so many ways.

Now for the “pet peeve” part of this post! After all, we don’t live in a “purrfect” world (pun intended). As wonderful as people have been, every so often when I mention that I am advocating for animals I will hear comments like, “what about people or the kids?” On the other hand, I often get lots of praise from people because of my work with kids and families, which I appreciate. Yet, it’s not unusual for people to not be as “enthusiastic” when I tell them that I am an animal advocate. It’s not uncommon to hear negative comments. They’re not intentionally mean-spirited, but it’s more of a lack of understanding of why animals are important too.

Interestingly enough, I am not at all surprised by their comments. After all, kids and people in general are pretty important. As a matter of fact, at one point in my life, I was a kid too! So, it’s clear that I happen to adore people and kids too. However, what’s puzzling to me is the comparison that is made between the two. To be specific, does there need to be a competition between animals and people? Besides, who says that we can’t care about animals and people too? Is there a finite limit to compassion? Should we only care about people? Is compassion limited to only people? Maybe for some it is.

When I decided to start this blog, I knew that I wanted to have a voice for animals. I wanted to balance my passions in life. I have always been an animal advocate, but I wanted to devote more time to it.  For me personally, I do not put a limit on compassion. That is, I extend my compassion to animals too. Besides, it’s no surprise that most people do not put “animals” on their list of top priorities in life. So, why not make caring about animals a top priority? They need a voice too. If everyone felt that animals are not as important, who would be there for the animals?

So, that’s my pet peeve. I personally believe that there are some people who have less compassion for animals. I refer to this as “selective compassion.” In other words, their compassion is “person-centered.” It is difficult for those people to empathize beyond the human race. Furthermore, there are some people who say that they have compassion for animals, but their behavior does not match their words. For other people, compassion is shared equally with people and animals.

So, where do you fit in? Do you have compassion for animals too? Is there a limit to your compassion? What are some of your life’s passions?

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City Plans to Kill Ducks: People Outraged

Lucky ducks pictured here. These ducks are not located in Ocala, FL Credit: Raymond Gobis Via Creative Commons

One of my fondest memories as a child is when my parents would take me to the park to see the ducks. It was a relaxing way to spend quality family time together. Moreover, it was also a wonderful way to bond with nature. Nowadays, in this fast paced world in which we live, our connection with nature is more important than ever. Unfortunately, enjoying nature is not as easy as when I was a kid as a result of over development and other human causes.

Being an animal lover, I was absolutely shocked and horrified when I heard the news that the city of Ocala, Florida is planning to kill about 110 ducks that are living in several of the city’s parks. Specifically, the city plans to pay the USDA over $8,000 to euthanize the ducks. First, the ducks will be sedated. After sedation, they will be driven to another county that is located hours away. The reason for the long drive is that is where the gas chamber is located. The ducks will be placed in the gas chamber and killed.

Why the death sentence for the ducks? According to city officials, the ducks are contaminating the ponds and recreation areas. In other words, the city sees the ducks as a nuisance to area parks. Needless to say, there has been a huge public outrage as a result of the city’s decision. Specifically, there have been protests and petitions in an effort to save the ducks. As a matter of fact, there have been organizations that have offered to take the ducks, but so far negotiations have been unsuccessful. According to city officials, federal law has made relocating the ducks difficult. At the end of this post, I will leave a couple of links for those who would like to get involved by signing a petition to help save the ducks.

Some of us are animal lovers–and some are not. No doubt, we all have different passions in life. After all, that is what is so beautiful about life. We are all uniquely different, but most of us share a common bond. That is, we want to make a difference. We want to make the world a better place before we leave this world. We want to live our lives with purpose. That being said, what gives us the right to take another life because we simply view that life as a nuisance? Moreover, do elected city officials have that right? Morally speaking, does anyone have that right?

Before long, at the pace we are going, will there be any wildlife left? Interestingly enough, our own human population is growing at a rapid pace, but have we addressed the issues involved with that? Do we want a planet that is void of nature? Are we just going to build parks for baseball diamonds and snack bars? Are we so focused on ourselves that we have lost our way?

Being an optimist, I believe that most people are compassionate. However, not all of us share a compassion for animals, but I do believe that as our society evolves that people will have more empathy. As for ducks, often times people will minimize their significance by arguing that they are just plain stupid. I personally disagree with that, but let’s say that they are stupid for the sake of discussion. Does having less intelligence give people the right to kill? If anything, we should have more empathy for a life that has less intelligence than we do. In other words, if we are truly the “smart ones,” then shouldn’t we understand right from wrong?

As for the ducks, I personally believe that they deserve to be here as much as we do. If for whatever reason the ducks cannot be relocated, why consider killing them as an option anyway? It doesn’t sound at all humane to me. Besides, we need to learn how to coexist together. And if we can’t learn to coexist, perhaps it might be time to look in the mirror. After all, when people actually start thinking that killing innocent ducks is acceptable behavior then perhaps the real problem here has nothing at all to do with ducks. In my opinion, we cannot say that we are compassionate if we don’t have compassion for animals too. How we treat our animals (ducks included) says a lot about who we are.

By the way, I have just heard some hopeful news on this story. According to a city official, there may be some revisions to the federal law that would make relocating the ducks easier. Yet, it is not clear as to what those revisions will be. So, let’s be hopeful, but let’s also be “involved” in helping to make a difference. It’s all of us working together that can raise awareness to bring about change.

Here are the links for those who want to sign the petitions to help save the ducks:

http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/nokillducks/

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/4/save-the-ducks-from-death-from/

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Tour de Turtles: A Race for Survival

Credit: Sea Turtle Kona Hawaii by K Johansson Via Creative Commons

Most of us are familiar with the Tour de France whether we are avid bike riders or not. However, I’m guessing that not too many people are familiar with the “Tour de Turtles.” That’s right, not exactly a household name yet, but the Tour de Turtles is an event that is quickly gaining recognition. Interestingly enough, I was not familiar with this event until I read about it in my local newspaper here in Florida.

So, what exactly is the Tour de Turtles? Well, this event is an annual migration marathon that started back in 2008. The “marathon” tracks sea turtles at sea in order to learn more about their behavior and migration habits. In addition, the marathon aims to raise awareness about the various threats that sea turtles face. Also, the Tour de Turtles encourages positive stewardship to the sea turtles ocean and coastal habitats. All of this benefits the sea turtles by helping them survive.

The sea turtles are tracked through a method called satellite telemetry. Basically, this involves attaching a transmitter on the back of the sea turtle. When I first heard about it, I was a bit concerned about the transmitter being attached to the turtle. Also, I wasn’t sure if the transmitter was going to be attached permanently, but the transmitter is temporary. It falls off safely in about a year or two. So, the good news is that the sea turtle is not living with a transmitter attached to her back forever! And the transmitter does not interfere with their movement. Plus, the researchers learn lots about their behaviors, migratory patterns, location of their habitats, etc. In turn, this information will help protect sea turtles. In addition, the information is uploaded to interactive maps located on the Tour de Turtles website. This gives people the opportunity to track the sea turtles. So, for anyone who has kids (or for the inner kid in you), nephews, nieces, or grandchildren, this is the fun part (and very educational). The link will be provided at the end of this post.

Sea turtles face many challenges that affect their survival with an estimated one out of a 1,000 to 10,000 hatchlings surviving to adulthood. Not surprising, many of the problems are caused by humans. These “threats” are emphasized during the marathon. Each turtle is swimming to raise awareness for a cause. For instance, Bubbles is swimming to raise awareness about the problem of plastic debris in the ocean. Many sea turtles are killed due to ingestion of plastic bags and fishing lines. On the other hand, Crystal is swimming to raise awareness about poor water quality. And Squirt is swimming to raise awareness about the threat of oil spills. These are just a few of the sea turtles that are swimming in the marathon. There are a total of fifteen sea turtles, representing four different types of species swimming for various causes.

This is an awesome short video (about two minutes long) that shows Bubbles being released into the ocean (click onto You Tube directly to watch). The kids are so happy to see the turtle being set free. Each sea turtle is released at different locations at various times. However, the race doesn’t start until all turtles are released. This gives each sea turtle an equal opportunity to win the marathon. Whoever goes the furthest distance wins the race.

These are some of the problems that threaten the sea turtles:

  • Commercial Longline Fisheries
  • Water Quality
  • Invasive Species Predation
  • Plastic Debris
  • Light Pollution
  • Turtle Hunters (Meat Consumption)
  • Climate Change
  • Commercial Trawl Fisheries
  • Sea Walls
  • Oil Spills
  • Egg Poachers
  • Illegal Sea Turtle Shell Trade
  • Native Species Predation
  • Beach Renourishment

For more information on these problems, click onto the link I have provided below to the Tour de Turtles official website. The official race start date is Monday August 15, 2011. If you have kids nearby, don’t forget to get them involved. This is an opportunity for kids to learn all about the many issues facing sea turtles and our environment. However, this is going to be fun and educational for folks of all ages! This is not a one-day event, so if you read this post after the start date, be sure and check out the site anyway. As a matter of fact, the race will last about three months! As previously mentioned, whoever swims the furthest distance will be the winner. Moreover, we will all be winners when we have compassion for our environment. It will benefit everyone. After all, if we destroy our marine life and oceans, we destroy ourselves. Thanks for caring.

The link to the Tour de Turtles website is: www.tourdeturtles.org

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Addicted to Our Cars: Can We Break the Habit?

Credit: epSos.de Via Creative Commons

Top Five Signs That You Might Be Addicted to Your Car

5. You talk to your car. This includes using expletives.

4. You drive your car to visit your neighbor who lives next door.

3. You love sitting in traffic jams. It gives you more time with your car.

2. Your car has a name.

1. You have seriously considered installing a bathroom in your car.

Ha! Ha! Now for the post………

In this day and age, cars are a way of life for most of us. We use our cars for getting to work, the store and for leisure activities. Most people would agree that their car is essential to “survival” in this modern world that we live in. In other words, our cars make our lives more comfortable. We can get places faster and easier. Besides, drive-thru windows would be nonexistent if it wasn’t for our cars. Nowadays, people no longer have to get out of their cars to pick up fast food. Isn’t that pure heaven? Truly, the drive-thru is the essence of convenience.

We have become dependent on our cars for all sorts of things. After all, why walk or ride bicycles when we can cruise along in our cars? The “suburban lifestyle” is more than the American dream realized. Suburban living epitomizes the laidback lifestyle. And whether we drive a sports car, family sedan, or sport utility vehicle, it’s sure to exude convenience without even starting the engine. Plus, lots of extra luxuries come along with that shiny new car. Where else can people crank the music up to decibels that vibrate an entire neighborhood? Not exactly a way to connect with your neighbors in a meaningful way, but I bet they know exactly who you are!

It’s not like there isn’t any consequences to living a life on easy street. Obesity is becoming the “new norm.” Of course, there are lots of health issues that come right along with that. I don’t need to list them all here, but my point is, we are becoming a society that is no longer interested in the “quality of progression.” Simply put, we are progressing in a way that makes us “lazy.”

I think that we can agree that most all of us depend on our cars for a means of transportation. This varies to some extent depending on location. Some people rely on public transportation for getting around. At any rate, is it possible that we have become too dependent on our cars? Do we rely on our cars too much? Have we become addicted to our cars?

Our dependency on our cars doesn’t necessarily mean that we need to give up driving altogether. That’s probably not a practical solution for everyone. Yet, that doesn’t mean we can no longer walk or ride our bike like we did when we were kids. If we live close enough to work, why not ride our bikes on nice days (or not so nice days)? For those of you who are retired, why not enjoy a leisurely walk or bike ride? It’s great for our health and good for the environment. Likewise, there is always the gym as a way of getting exercise. However, for me personally, there is nothing like being outside and connecting with nature while I exercise. I love the fresh air! And living here in Florida, there is nothing like the aroma of fresh orange blossoms during an evening stroll or bike ride. Pure bliss at its finest.

My Pink Cruiser on the Beach

A Bike Path by the Waterfront

Interestingly enough, many cities and small towns are not bike or pedestrian friendly. Moreover, there are not enough “bike paths” to support a bike friendly community. That being said, this is slowly starting to change. Some communities are making significant strides by creating more bike paths that expand from suburbia to downtown. This means that riding our bike can be a viable form of transportation for getting to work. Designated bike paths provide a safer alternative. In addition, they help create a bicycle friendly community that everyone can enjoy.

It’s not like we all need to be professional athletes to enjoy a bike ride, or to take a leisurely walk. It can be very invigorating for anyone at any age. It’s a great way to get exercise, bond with family, or as a means of transportation. Plus, I’ve met many of my neighbors this way. Also, it is a wonderful way to connect with nature. One of my favorite reasons for biking or walking is that it’s kind to the environment. Zero emissions!! Isn’t that a nice incentive?

My Bike and "Me" at the Pier

So, have you considered a bike ride lately? Any bike will do. It doesn’t have to be an expensive bike. And if not a bike ride, why not a relaxing stroll among nature? It is a wonderful way to naturally lower stress, connect with our spirit and with each other. Besides, it gives us a reason to get out of our car.

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Heartbreak, Happiness, and a Hero

Each day is exciting to me. Some days are not as exciting as others, but still exciting. It’s not like everyday needs to be an adventure, but it sure makes life interesting. However, there are those days every once in a while that life throws a curve ball. Fortunately, I don’t get too many of those.

Like any relaxing weekend, there are errands that still need to get done. So, off I went to get some bird food for my backyard bird feeder. Not exactly an adventure, but the birds are important to me. With bird feed in hand, I proceed to pay for my bird food when the cashier decides to share some horrific news with me. It’s not like I personally know the cashier. Apparently, she just wanted someone to talk to about her horrific experience.

To be specific, she told me that she had seen a man abusing a dog. There wasn’t much time to get into the details with her as others were waiting in line behind me. However, she did mention that the man repeatedly kicked the dog in the head. She continued with the horrific details in the brief time that I was at the checkout. In addition, she proceeded to tell me that she went over to the man and confronted him about the abuse. At that point, he told her that it wasn’t his dog. She then took the dog away from him and contacted authorities. Nonetheless, I don’t think it made a difference as to whether or not it was his dog anyway because the dog needed help. Fortunately, she mentioned that she took the dog to a veterinarian where the dog was treated for his/her injuries.

Credit: Addicted Eyes Via Creative Commons

Luckily, it appears that the dog is going to be okay. Who knows whether or not that man owned the dog, but the cashier did mention that the dog has found a new home. It was great to hear that someone cared enough to get involved and called authorities. Otherwise that dog may never have made it.

The bad news is that there are people in the world who harm animals. The good news is that there are people in the world that care about animals. In my opinion, this woman who took the time to get involved is a hero. Not everyone would have the courage to get involved. After all, anyone who abuses animals can also harm people. However, it sounded like it was a very fast-moving situation in which she needed to respond right away. Moreover, it probably would have taken authorities some time to respond. By that time, the dog could have been dead from a head injury.

I admit it gets a bit frustrating when I hear heartbreaking stories like this one. Actually, I read about stories like this in the paper often, but I have never actually been told one in person. And as bad as it seems, there is a good side to this story.

There are heroes that live among us. We may never know who they are, but they are out there. They are the people making a difference like the cashier at the store. I’m sure there are those who may say that she must be financially poor working as a cashier. Yet, the truth is she is richer than most people may realize. Her heart is proof of that.

I did get a chance to thank her for helping that dog in need. Even so, I’m guessing she didn’t need a thank you. She seems like she thrives on not what people think, but what difference she can make.

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America’s Wild Horses: Can We Save Them?

Credit: Wild Horses by RickC Via Creative Commons

Here we go yet again. Unfortunately, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), an agency within the US Department of Interior plans to resume another roundup of wild horses this coming winter. According to the BLM, the roundups are needed in order to control the horse population. The roundups have taken place numerous times, and have resulted in the deaths of over 100 mustangs in Nevada last year alone.

So, what exactly takes place during these roundups? To be specific, the roundups involve the use of helicopters that drive the horses into corrals. Needless to say, this is not a pleasant experience for the horses as they are forced to run to the point of exhaustion. They are chased for miles to a designated area where they are then picked up by truck and driven to various holding facilities. The horses could remain there for several years if not adopted or sold. Moreover, as much as ten percent of the horses are killed as a result of stress or injury that occurs during the roundups.

And what happens to the horses when they are sold? Unfortunately, there have been times in the past that these beautiful mustangs have been sold to “killerbuyers” around the world and slaughtered for financial profit. And even if the BLM makes every effort to assure that the wild horses don’t end up in the hands of unscrupulous buyers, there is no guarantee that these beautiful horses will be sold to a loving family where they can live the rest of their lives in green pastures. The fact is that many of these wild horses have ended up dead when they could have been still roaming free on public lands.

Interestingly enough, the BLM does not own the horses. They simply manage the herds on public lands. The American people are the owners. It is our tax dollars that are being spent for these roundups. And the amount spent is well into the millions. For example, the cost to manage these wild horses is at $75.6 million this year, and that number will increase to $79.5 million for next year!

As previously mentioned, the BLM says that they do these roundups in order to control the horse population. According to the latest BLM statistics, the wild horse population is 33,692. In addition, there are another 4,673 burros roaming freely. Moreover, these numbers are the total number of free roaming horses that are on BLM ranges in 10 Western states. And if the total number of free roaming horses seems like a lot, it in no way compares to the number of wild horses that used to roam free. For instance, there were an estimated two million wild horses roaming free in the year 1900! Yet, that number has been drastically reduced over the years as a result of human intervention.

Isn’t it interesting that in 1900, there were nearly two million wild horses roaming free, and yet the land could sustain the large number of horses. Yet, today with a far lower population of horses, the BLM says that there are too many of them. In addition, there is a huge controversy over what number is considered reasonable. By the way, do we decide what number is reasonable for the human population? Does 30,000 or 40,000 seem reasonable? Surely, one can see just how ridiculous this level of reasoning can be when we look at it from a “human” perspective.

There is an array of hope among what seemingly appears hopeless. In particular, there has been some progress made to establish wild horse “ecosanctuaries” through private-public partnerships. At this time, all of the details have not been worked out yet, but if the proposals allow for the horses to roam free, it certainly would be welcoming news. In the meanwhile, the roundups will continue. As a result of the roundups, some of the horses will not survive.

And how did we get here in the first place? In other words, why are the wild horses being managed in such a way that put the horses at risk for injury or death? Is chasing the horses with helicopters in order to capture them a humane way of managing the horses? Be sure and watch the short video clip to see an actual roundup, so that you can decide. In my opinion, one needless death is one too many.

Perhaps we need to refocus our priorities, and start managing ourselves a bit more responsibly. At the rate this country is being developed, will there be any space left for horses or humans? Do we have enough shopping malls, convenience stores, fast food restaurants, etc.? Does the number of strip/shopping centers exceed the number of wild horses? What’s a reasonable number of shopping centers? Did we consider that in the plans? Do we have enough entertainment complexes to keep us busy for the next several generations?

Never mind how all of this living a life of excess is depleting our natural resources. After all, we do not have an endless supply. How are we managing ourselves? Do the choices we make on a daily basis impact only us? Are we responsible for creating a competition for our natural resources? The more demands we make on our environment; the bigger the consequences we all face. Nonetheless, our beautiful wild horses are not immune to the strain “we” put on our natural resources.

Do we want to just speak of the wild horses in the past tense? Do we really want to share stories of what it was like when the wild horses once roamed free? Are they going to put wild horses in the zoo in order to show kids what they look like, but will the kids learn anything about the wild horses natural behavior?

For me personally, I would love to know that our wild horses are not just a part of history. After all, do we want to think of the wild horses as “what once was?” Wouldn’t it be nice to know that the horses will still be here roaming free for many generations to come? And why not forever free as nature intended for them to be?

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Redefining Success: Connecting With What Matters Most

Today, we live in such a fast paced consumer driven society. Much of the time, people are motivated by “success.” In order to be successful, society often defines success as having more “things.” For example, success may be defined as a bigger house, expensive car, fine jewelry, etc. In other words, having “more stuff” is deemed the epitome of all things successful.

And with all that “success” comes all the stress and health problems that occur as a result of working ourselves literally to death. In particular, in order to achieve all that “success,” long hours must be part of the daily regimen. These long hours coupled with stress can have far-reaching consequences such as heart disease, cancer, insomnia, etc.

People do need to work in order to pay the bills, right? Surely, there are the essentials such as food, shelter, etc. Yet, do people really need all that nonessential stuff that supposedly brings more happiness? Is that fancy new car really worth the price? And I’m not talking price in terms of dollars. Likewise, do we need to wine and dine at the finest restaurants that money can buy? Do we need all the latest and greatest gadgets whether we can afford them or not? Do we need the biggest house in the neighborhood? Is all that stuff worth the negative consequences such as loss of family time, spiritual time, connecting with nature, etc.?

Furthermore, how does all that consumerism impact our planet? Are we just going to recycle all of it without any effect on our environment? Has much thought been given to that? Don’t forget we can’t take all that stuff with us! In addition, is this consumerism sending the right message to the next generation? Do we teach kids that spending money is essential to their happiness? Will they love you less if they don’t get those expensive sneakers? Well if so, they will get over it!!

Does society have it all wrong? By the way, we are society! Anyway, should success be defined by how much we achieve in terms of how much money one makes, position title or material possessions? Isn’t quality of life so much more important? After all, I doubt anyone can say that when they are on their way out of this world that they had only wished they worked more hours! Perhaps it’s about time that we redefine “success.”

To redefine success may be particularly difficult for men. After all, men are supposed to be the “breadwinners.” They are the ones that should climb the corporate ladder. Men often “define” themselves by their jobs. On the other hand, women often define themselves in a much broader sense. Of course there are always exceptions. Yet, it’s perfectly normal to hear about women who are stay-at-home moms. For men, there is still somewhat of a stigma attached to being a stay-at-home “dad.” So, there is a bit of a double standard. Also, most women still expect men to be the primary breadwinner.

At any rate, isn’t it about time that we take a deeper look at what is truly important? I doubt very much that we are here on this planet to only achieve in a materialistic sort of way. Why should we define success as less time with family, less spiritual time, etc? Why not live in a more purposeful way? Less bills means more quality time. When we live below our means, we have more time to contribute in a more purposeful way. Instead of being consumers, we become contributors! Think about it. When we have fewer things, we have more time to connect with each other, our planet, wildlife, etc. Life takes on a whole new meaning.

Just to point out, there is nothing at all wrong with having things. It’s just that when we live in such a consumer driven society, we lose our connection to what’s truly important in life. When we have less material possessions, we have more time to focus on broadening our understanding for “purpose.” That is, the shallowness of “things” is no longer as important in a society that thrives on meaningful connections with each other, and the environment in which we live. Finally, are we here just to consume or do we want to contribute in a meaningful way?

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The Ultimate Betrayal: Pets Pay With Their Lives

Just this past week, there was a heartbreaking story in my local newspaper here in Florida. Unfortunately, it was yet another sad story about unwanted pets being euthanized at the shelter. Only this time, it was a large number of cats that were euthanized. According to the local newspaper, the owners were a young couple that was not able to afford veterinary care for their 66 cats. And out of those 66 cats, nearly half were euthanized. According to the interim shelter manager, almost all of the cats were black-and-white, and not a popular color combination. Not a popular color combo? I personally know several people who have cats with that color combo and love it.

As sad as it is, it’s not like one ever gets used to these types of stories. This type of story would upset anyone that has a soul. Yet, it’s these types of stories that seem to never go away. And they won’t go away until we do something about it. It’s not like the shelter will stop euthanizing anytime soon. I personally do not agree with euthanasia as an option for controlling the pet population. It’s not like pets are disposable. An innocent animal that gets a death sentence is not a valid option in my opinion. Imagine doing this to innocent kids. We would all be outraged, and rightly so. Yet, when it’s an animal, why should we view this as acceptable? Isn’t this the ultimate betrayal? Nonetheless, I support no-kill shelters, but they only can take a certain number of pets.

Luckily, this is "not" one of the 66 cats dropped at the shelter. Please support your local no-kill shelter.

So, what other humane options do people have? Haven’t we all heard the importance of getting our cat or dog spayed or neutered? Yet, there are still many people who are not doing this. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have seen cats and dogs that are not fixed wandering around. As a matter of fact, all of my pets were either abandoned by irresponsible owners or never had a home at all. At any rate, rather than ignoring the problem, we do have options such as spaying and neutering. Doesn’t this sound like a much more humane option in comparison to euthanasia?

In addition to spaying and neutering your pet, there is another humane option that we can choose as “pet parents.” To be specific, how about adopting your pet from a shelter? Why go to a pet store or breeder when there are so many animals that need a home? Why not help lessen the problem of homeless pets by adopting? Without doubt, there are many animals that are left abandoned just wandering the streets or worse. And what do I mean by worse?

Well, we all know that foreclosures have been at an all time high. And I have heard numerous stories in the news of people who have simply left their pets alone to die in the abandoned home. Yet, the same tired excuse is heard over and over again such as there simply was not enough money to care for them. So, instead of finding a suitable home for them, they leave the animal to suffer and die. Is this really the humane option? Isn’t this too the ultimate betrayal? Once again, we wouldn’t do that to kids, and we certainly should not do that to an innocent animal. I can certainly empathize with the homeowner feeling overwhelmed by his or her financial situation, but letting an innocent animal suffer is not the solution.

Which then brings me to my next point. Why do people have animals that they cannot care for anyway? Having an animal should be a lifetime commitment. That is, the pet parent should be committed to caring for that animal until the animal reaches the end of his or her natural life. In other words, having an animal is not a decision that should be made lightly. Yes, there are many animals that need homes. Moreover, there are animals that are in need of caring and responsible pet parents. So, I hope that people will become loving pet parents when they are responsible enough to do so. Perhaps then, all of these heartbreaking stories will no longer be a part of our everyday news. As people begin to make more compassionate choices in their life, this will benefit not just us, but will spare the suffering of innocent animals. In order to truly evolve as a society, shouldn’t compassion extend beyond us?

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Treeless America: The New Normal?

Has anyone noticed that there isn’t a lot of discussion around the topic of “trees?” Can one imagine texting or talking on their cell phone with the conversation around trees? It’s not like it’s the hot topic of the day! Most conversations revolve around work, family or the latest gossip. Trees are such a “non-issue” to most people. Yet, has anyone noticed that we are losing our trees at a very rapid pace? Now, this may seem like a small issue to most people, but isn’t this part of the problem? In other words, isn’t it time that we begin to raise our level of awareness of important environmental issues that affect all of us? For instance, there is a lot of new development taking place all around my state. As the population increases, so does the need for housing, roads and services. And all of this new development has many negative consequences that come right along with it. To be specific, they are clear-cutting trees like it’s just the “normal” thing to do. After all, it does keep the economy moving. But the bigger question should be at what cost to our environment? Do the benefits outweigh the consequences? Is there any thought given to long-term negative consequences to our planet? In my opinion, I believe these are very valid issues that need to be considered before we reach the point of no return. It may sound alarming, but maybe that’s what is needed here. Moreover, do we really want to look at shopping centers, industrial parks and cookie cutter houses on a daily basis? Wouldn’t it be so much nicer to see and hear nature? Not only does nature provide aesthetic beauty, but also all of us are aware that trees help clean our air. They provide habitat for our wildlife. Isn’t quality of life so much more important than convenience? Do we really need another fast-food restaurant on every corner? If we continue to see the planet as the next generations problem to deal with then we are not being good stewards. Nonetheless, we need to first raise our level of awareness and acknowledge that we do have a problem. And if the issue of environmental destruction doesn’t sound like a topic that needs discussing then perhaps the problem lies in there. Isn’t it time that we turn our attention to issues that need our attention? These are issues that all of us should care about. When we become aware then we become empowered to bring about change.

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Reality Check: Compassion Versus Cruelty

First, I want to start off by saying that I am not a huge fan of reality television. I’d rather be spending my time outdoors watching nature! However, there are those times that I like to have a healthy dose of “craziness” every so often. Can anyone say “Celebrity Apprentice?” Now, it’s not an obsession of mine, but it’s just interesting to me to watch all the wackiness that takes place. It’s a bit like a train wreck waiting to happen. And the show is not just about entertaining the viewers. For example, the celebrities get lots of money donated to their favorite charities if they win the task. This is the main reason why I like watching the show. In other words, there is a “purpose” behind all the chaos. Recently, I tuned in to the show and much to my disappointment some of the celebrities were wearing “fur.” Saddened by what I saw, I thought to myself how could someone who is so caring on one charitable cause totally dismiss the suffering of innocent animals? It didn’t make much sense to me. Yet, it’s true that so many times people do often overlook the animals. Why can’t people care about animals too? It doesn’t have to be a competition between people and animals. Anyway, there they were in their fur coats. Yet, there wasn’t a thing I could do about it! People do have free will to wear what they choose. But the bigger question should be, why should an animal have to suffer for someone who wants to make a fashion statement? How about making a “compassion fashion” statement? Besides, it’s not exactly attractive wearing a dead animal. Moreover, it’s not like I would skin my dog and wear it. That would be barbaric! But when it’s not our dog or cat then society just accepts it as normal. Why should cruelty be accepted for certain types of animals? Cruelty doesn’t pick and choose. All animals experience pain and suffering. At any rate, I will only hope that those few celebrities were all wearing faux fur on the show. Although it’s no secret that those celebrities in particular are known for wearing “real fur.” And if they were wearing dead animals, I would hope that they would consider extending that same sense of charity for their cause to suffering animals as well. After all, shouldn’t compassion trump cruelty?

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Nature And Technology: Can The Two Coexist?

Today, we live in such a fast-paced society where it seems that our topics of discussion evolve around various social media such as Facebook and Twitter. In addition, text messaging has become a way of life for the young and young at heart. Cell phones have become a way of life for most people. Action-packed video games keep people glued to their game consoles for hours on end and far away from any sense of what is “real.” Moreover, has our technology advanced to a point that people have forgotten about what it’s like to connect with nature? Is it possible that nature no longer matters to us? Now, I’m not opposed to advancements in technology. After all, some technology is needed to advance our society in a way that would benefit not only the human race, but to make our planet a better place for all of us (i.e., solar energy). Likewise, I am utilizing technology at this moment for a very important purpose. To be specific, this is an ideal way to communicate important issues that are often overlooked. However, could it be that technology/social media has taken center stage over our desire to connect with nature? Have we set enough time out for the so-called little things that keep our mind refreshed and our bodies reinvigorated? Have we taken time out of our busy schedules to reconnect with nature? Could it be the “little things” that matter the most? Today, I went to a local favorite restaurant of mine for lunch with family. As always, I eat my lunch outside on the patio. And today like most spring days here in Florida, it was pure sunshine with very comfortable temperatures and low humidity. Much to my surprise, not a single soul was enjoying the stunningly gorgeous outdoors! That’s right, not one person was dining outside amongst the beautiful birds singing in the trees. However, there was someone who came outside and made a cell phone call. Surely, the reception is much better outdoors, but what about the nature? Are people so obsessed with their cell phones that they can’t take a moment to notice nature? Nonetheless, the restaurant was extremely busy inside. As a matter of fact, there was hardly a table available “inside.” People certainly did not avoid eating out due to inclement weather. Also, there were lots of umbrellas to keep folks shaded from the sun if they so desired. The outdoor patio was very clean and inviting. So what was I thinking about the lack of folks dining outside? Well, there was only one thought going on in my mind and it was, “their loss and not mine!!” I must admit it was absolute heaven soaking up the sun, enjoying the gentle breezes and most of all listening to the birds sing from the lush trees. By the way, there was no texting or social media to distract me. There may be a time and place for that, but it wasn’t on my priority list! It’s the so-called little things that reinvigorate me. It keeps my soul connected in a way that no social media could ever do for me. It was one relaxing lunch that soothed the soul.

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Can’t We All Just Get Along?

One of the many advantages of living here in Florida is the abundant wildlife. Yet, human overpopulation is threatening our natural resources at an alarming rate. Interestingly enough, most people move here because they want to be connected to nature. They want a slower pace of life. And it is not just retired folks who move here, but young growing families want a simpler way of life too. All of us living in harmony with nature seems so idyllic. Yet, I keep hearing stories about animals being killed or separated from each other by no fault of their own. Many of these animals have been here longer than most of us. For instance, the alligators’ habitat is quickly being destroyed and they are running out of space. And if someone spots an alligator near developed areas, they call to have it removed. In other words, most of the time the alligator is destroyed. Yet, most people must know that alligators do live in Florida before they move here. So, why not accept the fact that alligators are a part of life here without having them destroyed? It’s not just alligators that are viewed as a nuisance. Just a couple of weeks ago, there was a local story here that went national. Specifically, there was a hawk that just gave birth to two baby hatchlings. As any new mom would be, she was protective of her babies. Unfortunately, her nest was located in a residential development that would prove to be a costly mistake. If the homeowner got too close to her nest, she would fly down aggressively. At one point, the homeowner said that the hawk scratched him. So the homeowner called the authorities, and they decided to grant him permission to have the baby hatchlings removed from the nest. Humans using “bird puppets” will now raise them. And what about mom? She will be heartbroken beyond belief! So, the end result is families are broken up, but is this a viable solution? Were there no other reasonable alternatives? In my opinion, we need to look at the whole picture, not just what is good for us in the short-term. Empathy is a virtue. Let’s have some empathy for people and animals too.

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