Inspiring Stories: Don’t wait until everything is all set – take a step of faith

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

I will be compiling a lot of videos and stories of people I find inspiring on separate pages, but thought I might discuss some of them individually as I go along. What inspires me might not inspire you and vice versa.  And what inspires me can change from one day to another.  But hopefully we can find some common ground!

Anyway, the other day on YouTube, I came across the story of a lifetstyle photographer named James Barkman.  He’s 22 and lives in his Westfalia van and tows a motorcycle behind it so that he can save money on gas and get to locations that he might not otherwise be able to reach with the van.  His website is Jamesbarkman.com.

As my brother and sister in law can attest, VW vans can have a lot of problems as they age and so if you own one, you will inevitably learn a lot about doing maintenance on it.  (They are the creators behind the blog, It’s Not a Slow Car, It’s a Fast House, and are currently on an overland trip that is leading them to South America.) Everyone who has talked about living in a van and is realistic about it discusses the fact that it can be frustrating and super stressful at times, and at other times, they feel like it’s entirely worth the stress and aggravation they go through. James Barkman mentions that in his video too.

In the beginning of the video, and again at the end, he discusses pursuing your dreams before you have everything set in place.  I take that to mean that you can’t wait until is perfect and you feel like you have all your bases covered to take that leap of faith.  He also mentions that wherever you are, or whoever you are with, be there with all your heart. And “be whoever you’re created to be.”  Don’t let fear run your life.

Looking back, I’ve done that at times, most recently, when I moved to Albuquerque without a job, but with the faith that I would bust my butt to get one (and I did!)  As many of you know, I aspire to live tiny, and I’ve recently begun fantasizing again about living in the Pacific Northwest.  I just really miss living near a large body of water, and I actually like the gray days we  get here in ABQ, though they are few and far in between.

I found the cinematography of this video to be pretty amazing.  Please let me know your thoughts by dropping a comment below!  As always, thanks for reading!

And, by the way thank you to those of you who have been using my Amazon affiliate link and Ebates referral link!!  Every little bit helps!

 

 

Book Review: Dude Making A Difference (by Rob Greenfield)

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Those of you who love to read will understand what I’m talking about when I say how this was one of these books that I just didn’t want to put down,  and gladly would have given up sleep for!  I started putting little sheets of paper into certain pages because I felt that there were some quotes there that I really needed to remember. (If it had been my own book, I would have highlighted them.)

Simply put, Rob makes me want to be a better human.  He really does.  Yes, he takes things to an extreme (such as standing up on his bike across an entire state) to raise funds for a charity, but what he does, he does to raise awareness.

This book is about a cross-country bike trip that Rob took a few years ago to raise awareness about taking steps to save our environment.  He decided on a few rules he would follow along the way:

  • only use electricity that was created from a portable alternative energy device (i.e. solar power), not electricity created by fossil fuels or from the grid
  • only use water that comes from natural resources, i.e., not from a tap or municipal system unless it’s being wasted (i.e. a busted fire hydrant, a leaky faucet, etc.)
  • only eat organic and local and unpackaged food (exception being that he could eat packaged foods if they were going to go to waste, i.e. in a dumpster, on someone’s plate at a restaurant)
  • cross the country on his bike only, so not using any fossil fuels (only exception would be if his life was threatened)
  • try to be as close to zero-waste producing as possible (i.e. if he bought something that was in non-recyclable plastic, it would travel with him the entire time)

Those are just some of the parameters he put in place.  Pretty impressive, huh?  Did I mention he also raised money for several non-profits, including Reuse Alliance, Growing Power, Solar Sister and Community Cycles, just to name a few.

Rob very rarely broke any of his rules, but of course he wasn’t perfect.   The book is mainly his journal that he steadfastly worked on during the entire trip.  It chronicles the many people who gave him shelter through the Warm Showers program, the many weather challenges he faced, his riding across the entire state of Pennsylvania without money.  He includes many nuggets of wisdom, such as:

  • “If you don’t support wasting water, then take shorter showers, do less laundry and pay attention to how much water you’re dumping down the drain.”
  • In terms of embracing all that the earth and your life has to give you, “[i]f your neighbors are too loud and keep you up at night, it means  your ears are functioning properly.  If  you smell nasty cigarettes at a bar or a rotting animal on the side of the road, it means your nose is doing its job.”

Another great nugget is:

“No human being has more or less time than any other.  Time is not something we can buy or win.  it is not something we can steal or borrow. . . .There is no such thing as not ‘having’ time for something.  We choose not to devote our time to doing something so that we can spend our time doing something else instead.  it’s a choice.  Life is a choice.”

My favorite quote of his is the following, and I think it’s because he exemplified this throughout the entire book.  He remained happy in the face of downpours, lightning strikes, you name it. He CHOSE to be happy rather than miserable.   So I will leave you with this quote.

“Life is a matter of perspective.  Change your perspective today and you’ll be living in a new world tomorrow.”

I strongly encourage you to read this book, however you get your hands on it.  I borrowed mine from the public library, but it is also available through Amazon (this is an affiliate link) and the book publisher’s website – New Society.

As always, thanks for reading, and if you have a comment, or a suggestion on another book I should read, please write me below! And if you think someone can benefit from reading it, or Rob’s book, please do feel free to share it!! And thanks!

The Little Things: A Matter of Perspective

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This photo reminds me of the West Coast and the ocean, which I’ve begun to increasingly miss more and more (image from pixabay.com).  Also, it’s a matter of perspective – these monoliths can also extend downward into the water for hundreds of feet!

Woohoo! I’m done with my first semester of the Masters in Humane Education program I started this past fall!  It’s been a while since I’ve taken classes in something I feel passionate about, and it makes all the difference. We had what we call our “Capstone” salons this weekend for each of my classes, where we meet with the professor and other students via zoom and share projects.  In one of my capstones, I got some great ideas for how to develop my blog!!  I really want this blog to also become an educational tool, not just me simply blathering on about my life. 🙂  (Although there will still be some of that, lol.)  It was so cool to see people you’ve been in contact with on Blackboard but never seen their face!

So last night it was so relaxing – I sat there and was reading Dude Making a Difference, by Rob Greenfield.  I love this book so much that I’ve already put it on my Helpful Books page.  He has some great pearls of wisdom in it and he makes me desire to be a better person.  One of my favorite quotes is on page.156:

“Life is a matter of perspective.  Change your perspective today and you’ll be living in a whole new world tomorrow.”

His book has been published by New Society Publishers, and they specialize in publishing books that provide solutions for those who want to make a difference – I can’t wait to see what they have in their catalog!!

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you all know how much I love taking pictures of trees from this vantage point – love the sense of perspective in this photo! (image from pixabay.com)

So, before I get into the meat of this blog post, I hope you will take a look at my newly revised About Me, Helpful Books, and NEW page on Animal Welfare and Rights Groups.   Oh, and I even created a Hire Me page!There are more new pages in progress, including Inspiring Videos and Inspiring Stories, to come in the near future!  The more I write, the more creative I feel!

So I thought I might suggest some little things that we can thing about anew, and feel more positive about our day, especially if it’s a crappy day for whatever reason – weather, people being grumpy, etc.

These are some of the little things that have helped my weekend to be a good one:

  • that perfectly brewed cup of coffee first thing in the morning
  • the cat that insists on sitting on your lap and putting his head on your laptop screen as you are trying to type (ahem, happening right now – I remind myself that it’s because Max loves me, as shown by his loud purring now taking place)
  • waking up in the morning and realizing today is what you make of it.  You might have to go to work, but only you can decide how to react to things, events, and people
  • a good conversation with a good friend
  • seeing your roommate start to flourish in this new town, meeting new friends and joining a community of like-minded souls
  • joining in a free(!) webinar with other interested souls to learn about building your own tiny house from this guy, Ethan Waldman
  • hearing from another writer whose work you really admire that your blog is one of her favorites (check out Sal’s blog at One Empty Shelf – her writing is so calming)
  • sitting in silence enjoying the beauty of your first Christmas tree in a few years
  • on a cold night, having a roof over your head, a comfy bed to sleep in, and a very cute dog named Snuggles, well, snuggling, at your side, knowing he is safe and loved
  • realizing the notebook with the cover “My Brilliant Ideas” that you recently bought for $3 was a great use of your money

What are some little things that help to center you and ground you in a positive perspective on life? Please share them below – I’d love to hear them and get a good conversation started! 

As always, thanks for reading.  And please, do check out my newly revised and created pages and let me know what you think!

And thank you to those of you who have recently used my Amazon Affiliates link and Ebates Referral link!  (Every little bit of income helps, so thank you!!)

Those who inspire me right now

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

 

timothy ward fingernailI don’t watch a lot of TV, but I do have some favorite YouTube channels I turn to for inspiration.  One is Timothy Ward’s channel.  Currently, Tim is working in Colorado, and he is working on a series of videos called “100 Ways To Create Your Dream Life.”  He is so down to earth in all of his videos.  He’s lived in an RV, like me, but decided it wasn’t for him.  He loves to travel and so he does a lot of seasonal work, most often lately in housekeeping, even though he is qualified to do so much more.  (Another reason I like him – he does what he likes to do, not because he feels it’s a job he HAS to do to be what is considered a “success” in today’s world.)   He goes to work every day with a positive attitude.  His laugh is genuine, and luckily,  he laughs a lot (sometimes at himself) in his videos.  Though he doesn’t have tens of thousands of subscribers, he doesn’t care.  To him, it’s more important to connect with his viewers and create a community, much like I am with this blog.  Please go check out his channel and tell him I sent you! 🙂

dylan magaster fingernailAnother channel that I like because of the Alternative Living series that he has begun, is Dylan Magaster’s channel. His film-making skills have improved so much from the early days.  In particular, one video he shot recently really spoke to me.  His subject was a guy called Artisan Josh.  I’d seen videos of Artisan Josh’s house, Lil Red, in the past, but they hadn’t really gone into who he was as a person.  Josh grew up in foster care, spent time behind bars, and now has found peace in his tiny home, among the tiny home community.  He travels and builds tiny houses for others. It might not be a life for everyone, but it’s the one that works for him. When he laughs in this video, I hear a man who has found peace and seems genuinely happy with his life as it currently stands.  (He commented back to me that he sounds like Woody Woodpecker, lol.)

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At the end of the video Dylan shot, Josh reads some of his original poetry.  I just felt drawn to it, and the first time that I listened to it, I felt chills, but in a good way.   Check out some of the work he has done at his website: Artisan Josh.  He also appears to have begun his own YouTube channel and he is also on Instagram.

becky fingernailBecky Schade is the author of the Interstellar Orchard blog of which I have been a fan for a long time.  I’ve written about her in the past, and she never ceases to amaze me.  She’s like a very old soul in a thirty-something’s body.  She has written and published a blog and now started up her own YouTube channel, chronicling her six years (6!!) of living full time in an RV.  She currently lives in a Casita, but has decided to downsize next year into a teardrop trailer!  Since she’s announced her decision, she has had to deal with a lot of flack and comments from those who think they know better how she should live her own life.  She’s amazingly mature at dealing with those types of comments. And knowing her own mind and what is best for her to do to follow her own dreams.  She inspires me with her independence, her self-awareness, and her writing skills.  Plus, she’s also a good human being! (Oh, and she now has her own YouTube channel too!)

There’s one common thread that ties these folks together in my mind.  They have each found happiness on their own terms.  They don’t sugar coat how their life is – life is not a set of Instagram photos as many would like us to believe.  Some days are good and some days are bad, and they acknowledge that, just as do I. They’ve all realized that life is (to use a cliche) a journey.  You learn more about yourself every day. And that’s something that you can’t put a price on.

If you have any comments as to who inspires you, or if you’ve already begun following these folks or learning about their stories, please let me know! If you’ve liked this post, please hit the like button or share it with someone who you think could benefit from it too! And as always, thanks for reading!

And now, I’m off to volunteer at a food pantry! My hospital gives away pet food on the third Friday of every month and today I think we’re going to have a lot of extra stuff like leashes and collars to give to everyone, as part of an early holiday gift.  These are some of the best four hours I spend every month – it makes me grateful for my life, my job and my pets.  Have a great weekend everyone!

Moments of Beauty

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I love this photo of Morgan because she looks like she is smiling.  Luckily, I get to see her do this every day.  As humans, we should strive to smile more and live in the moment like her.

 

One thing I’ve known about in the past but which has really hit home as I pursue the program in humane education is that people react much better to something positive, or something beautiful, something small and simple that they can relate to, rather than an abstract whole world problem, something they have trouble picturing.

So below are my ideas of what are truly moments of beauty:

  1. Reading a facebook post of a friend who has recently become a mom via adoption, after years of trying to become pregnant.  She broke down in tears when in a store with her child strapped to her chest, seeing all the Christmas decorations and realizing that this year, she wouldn’t face the holidays with sadness in her heart, but with a feeling of fullness and pure joy.
  2. The turning of the leaves from green to gold and bright red and orange.  Realizing that New England doesn’t have a monopoly on beautiful fall foliage, after all.
  3. The amazement you feel at seeing one or two wild sunflowers still finding the courage to grow, weeks after the rest have died.
  4. The warmth of the sun on your face while you lie on your back and look up through the trees at the blue sky above you.
  5. The sound of children playing together at a party in the park, cheering for one little girl who *almost* makes that one perfect hit to the piñata that will grant all of them a good deal of candy.
  6. Seeing your dog literally smiling because she has found a home with people who really love her.
  7. Writing to further my dreams and listening to one of The Herd (Snuggles, to be exact), barking while he’s deep into a dream, nestled at my feet.
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My phone’s camera doesn’t do the redness of the leaves justice.  It was amazing!

 

What are some moments of beauty that you’ve recently observed or felt in your life?  Please feel free to share them in the comments.  And if you’ve liked this post, or know someone who might benefit from reading it, please hit “Like” and then share it!

And as always, thank you for reading.

Reconnecting to Nature: Take a Field Trip

 

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The site of my field trip (sunflowers were behind me.)

My Environmental Ethics requires us to go on four field trips in our neck of the woods. The goal is to remain in the present for at least 30 minutes.  No cell phones.  No thoughts of what happened earlier today or what can happen tonight.  When you find your thoughts drifting away from the present, you do your best to bring them back to the here and now.  Try and use all of your senses: sight, smell, touch, hear, etc.  Our assignment limits us to the number of words, and I’m finding I’m embracing those limits rather than fighting them. One of my fellow students said I should publish them somehow and he would want to read one of them every day to reconnect himself to nature. So, I thought I would do so here, in the hope that it can have some beneficial effect to those of you reading it.

Our assignment limits us to the number of words, and I’m finding I’m embracing those limits rather than fighting them. So without further adieu, here goes nothing, er, my first field trip.

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Yesterday, I took a field trip to the section of the Bosque knowns as Tingley Beach.  The Bosque is a wooded area located along the banks of the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  It stretches for miles with lots of dirt paths for walkers, runners, bikers, and nature enthusiasts.  Usually, I run there.  But yesterday, I decided I would just sit and observe.

I wonder – what made me choose this spot?  Because it’s familiar?  But, I’ve never sat here on a log and just looked and listened while not moving.  There are so many wild sunflowers growing here, some out of what appears to be dead, inhospitable wood accumulated on the ground.  How did all these dead tree branches come to be here on the ground?  Were they cut down?  No, they’re too randomly placed.  Did they break off in the wind?  That seems more likely, given the winds we have here in Albuquerque, a high desert city.

The breeze blows through the green leaves of the tall cottonwoods above me.  I’m comforted by it, even though I can tell by its ferocity that a rainstorm might be coming.  I welcome that.  To the south are dark clouds.  To the north are white puffy clouds that seem to be speeding effortlessly through the sky because of that strong wind.  The sun keeps peeking in and out from among the dark clouds, alternately warming and cooling my body.

Sitting quietly, I start to hear the sounds of birds chirping.  I hear one chirp, then another, and then a third, all from different locations.  They are of different types; each chirp is unique.  And are those crickets or cicadas I hear?  I love the sound of them, but seeing them in person freaks me out.  I’m not a fan of big bugs.

I hear the sounds of civilization off in the distance: traffic noise, a plane flying overhead, the sounds of humans along the dirt path.  The humans are close enough that we could both see each other, but they’re too engrossed in their conversations or own thoughts to notice me sitting amongst the cottonwoods.  And I am grateful because I want to be left alone to observe, to feel, to hear, to smell.  I’m irritated by the intrusion.

I realize I haven’t seen a single bug crawling along the log on which I sit.  Surprising, because I usually see them everywhere on the path when I run.  And this is the woods! As if I willed it into existence, one appears, and it’s time for me to shift positions.  I take a seat on the ground near the sunflowers.  I can see the honeybees darting from one flower to the next.  But I don’t hear them making a sound.  Funny, I thought this was grass, but it feels more like straw.  Looking closer, I notice it covers the dead branches and twigs found below it.  It’s uncomfortable, and it’s time for me to go, so I walk toward the river.

If this post touches you somehow, please share it.  And thank you for reading.

 

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Wild sunflowers abound in the Bosque, not too far from where I sat

 

Thank you letters

 

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image from pixabay.com

Remember when you were a kid and your parents had you write out thank you letters after you received a gift for your birthday or a holiday like Hanukkah or Christmas?  Have you ever gotten a thank you note from someone out of the blue for something you did at your job, and you’re like, “I was just doing my job, wow!”

 

When I was at Harvard, I kept all of the thank you notes I received, even via email, and posted them on my wall near my desk.  I liked to think of it as my wall of positivity. When I was having a very bad day, I’d look at the wall and remind myself, “THIS is why I do what I do.” Sometimes students would see the notes and remark on them, and tell me that it made them feel even more comfortable meeting and talking with me.

I had a great Zoom meeting with my faculty advisor this morning and felt really inspired afterward.  We talked about how I can use my writing skills in humane education and she gave me lots of ideas and suggestions.  I remember a comment she made on one of my assignments – had I ever thanked the Creative Writing teacher I had in college?  And I thought of my work study job I had in college, where a true gentleman by the name of Carl G. Martin was my supervisor and ran the Office of Student Services.  I’ve thought of writing to him and thanking him for the influence he had on me in my college years.  But I’ve not done it. So, that ends today.

There are many people I want to thank for how they have positively changed my life.  But today, I’m going to start with just one, and I would like to encourage any of you to send me your thank you letters and I will gladly post them here.   Maybe you want to thank someone who is no longer with us, or someone you have no idea how to find or reach.  You will receive all the credit, of course.  I won’t edit them, I promise.

So here it goes, my first thank you letter, to my friend David B.   

Dear David,  

Thank you for having been my friend for the past 12 years.  Thank you for always being such a calming, positive influence (even when you didn’t think you were.)  Thank you for always be willing to sit and listen and then answer probing, thought-provoking questions in a non-judgmental way.  Thank you for being “that poor bastard who had to deal with you for more than eight hours a day for two years, sharing an office with you!” (That’s what my now ex-hb said at one point, and I remember telling you, and laughing about it.)   

Thank you for being that friend who was willing to sit across a table from me the night before I left my marriage.  You held my hand as I sobbed, hysterically at times, not being able to catch my breath.  I remember you giving me a key to your apartment in case I needed a place to stay.  You didn’t say much that night, and I suspect you knew you didn’t need to.  I just needed to know I wasn’t alone.  I needed to know I wasn’t a horrible person, and that I was loved, even though what I was contemplating doing was ripping me up inside. And you let me know that I would be okay.  It might take time, but I would be okay.

Thank you for watching me grow these past several years and for supporting my newest quest to start a master’s program at the young old age of 44, and not calling me insane for doing so.  Thank you for understanding that like you, I need to constantly be learning to be happy with my life.  Thank you for writing one of my recommendation letters for that program and for talking with me for quite a while beforehand, again, asking those great questions you always do.  

Thank you for being that type of friend, who, when we talk, it’s like we just saw each other yesterday.  Thank you for loving me as only a friend like that would. 

Love, Terri

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If you would like to email me a letter or write one as a guest post, you can email me at chasingsimpledreams AT gmail.com.  Or, please feel free to drop a comment on the blog with your email (the email is not shared or shown publicly), and I will gladly post it for you. 

It’s my hope to get an atmosphere of gratitude flowing around those of us interacting here or reading the blog.  When you’re grateful, it colors your whole world in a very positive light.

Thank you for reading.