Optimistic Outside October

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” Anne Frank

None of us knows the future, and at this moment in time it is hard not to be fearful about it. We can’t shake this awful pandemic, and we are in the middle of an important election. The next month is full of uncertainty. We have leaders scaring us about the future and telling us the” Mob” and violence are going to take over. Some elected officials share lies and conspiracy theories. They say they won’t follow the rules and leave office if they don’t win? With all this what is there to be afraid of?

I got several pieces of mail this week telling me the “Mob” is taking over if I don’t vote for certain candidates? Who is this mob? Does frightening people get you to vote for them? I hope not. I wonder if I am part of the “Mob” because I want equal rights, justice, clean air and water for everyone? Confusion and fear are the goals of these people. Our mental and physical health are both at stake with this silly rhetoric.  Don’t listen to it!

We must do better than this. Choose instead to be hopeful and optimistic. Don’t feed this fear, instead feed optimism. Start each day with a positive action. See some ideas below. Also, everyday get outside and enjoy the beauty of October.

 When you are optimistic you and look at your days with hope instead of fear. Optimism wins and helps you see beyond fear for a better future and a better world. The Actions for Happiness group has thirty-one suggestions and ideas to help us be optimistic. See their ideas below:

https://www.actionforhappiness.org/media/922208/october_2020.jpg

Wishing you an optimistic and outside October!

September Searching

Searching for Truth

This Actions for Happiness post is about self-care and telling the truth! Living in a pandemic we need self-care and we need truth.

Climate march in New York City
We must demand a higher standard for telling the truth, don’t believe everything you hear!

Part of self-help September is telling the truth, but what do you do when you have elected officials that lie, lie and lie some more, and citizens that believe their lies? People that lie are unhappy, they can’t accept reality.  These are strange times with a pandemic, and the need for correct information is enormous. When elected officials have a misunderstanding of the truth, and create alternative facts, and others don’t correct and challenge them we are in big trouble. If we don’t have a set of facts to agree on, people searching for truth make things up and spread theories about what they believe might be true. This is like ancient people trying to make sense of what they don’t understand. We need to have a base of facts to work from and we have lost that. Yes, I misled the U.S.

Democracies can not survive without understanding what is really happening. That is why we have universities, scientists,  news media and newspapers to search out the truth. In order to function as citizens in our society and in our democracy, we need to have a common basis of facts.

This is not ancient times, we have science, we have a hard working journalists and educators that are masters at getting the facts correct. At this time in history we all need a active commitment to always tell the truth. Start with telling the truth yourself, and demand truth-telling from all your acquaintances. Telling the truth is easy, demand it from everyone!

How do you start to search for truth?

  • Get the facts and be open minded. We often think we are correct when we aren’t.

  • Do additional research, read newspapers, and ask questions.

  • Make sure your sources are credible.

  • Ask yourself, does this make sense?
  • Never spread things unless you know the source and check at least 2 more sources. Facebook, friends, family, and Fox talk shows, are not reliable sources.

 

From September of 1939:

All I have is a voice

To undo the folded lie,

The romantic lie in the brain

Of the sensual man-in-the-street

And the lie of Authority

Whose buildings grope the sky:

There is no such thing as the State

And no one exists alone;

Hunger allows no choice

To the citizen or the police;

We must love one another or die.  By W. H. Auden

Ten more self-care ideas to get you through the pandemic from the Washington Post. Read here.

Here is the Actions For Happiness calendar for September. An important part of self-care involves telling the truth and never spreading falsehoods. 

Superior Views, Summer 2020

Extra fresh? Extra wet? Extra extra? Extra beautiful? Extra Great? Extra gitchy? Extra deep? Extra wide? Extra voluminous? Extra fishy? Extra rocky? Extra clean? Extra cold? Extra Superior?” @Lake Superior (twitter)

monarch butterfly
Monarch on goldenrod

Yes, extra Superior! A world pandemic is still raging, elected leaders incite violence, forest fires and hurricanes are constant, but no drama on Lake Superior. By  August the lake has warmed and the contrast between the cold lake and warm air isn’t so extreme causing less drama. This lack of drama makes the big lake more peaceful as the gentle waves ripple to shore.

The loons call, and the eagles screech from their tree towering over the lake.  The hummingbirds like little fairies hover and suck nectar from the last of the plants as they prepare for  their long journey south.

Frittilary butterfly in July
August garden on Lake Superior.

Plants are turning brown, and yellow golden rod dominates. Blooming plants were early this year so they lose energy and turn brown sooner. Only a few butterflies remain, they have been replaced by grasshoppers, and like the birds the chipmunks are already busy preparing for winter.

July was a perfect time to indulge in watching butterflies and monarch caterpillars. Every new caterpillar was a celebration. Unfortunately, something else found them to be joyful food, and they disappeared.  We suspect the chipmunks. Their numbers were too many this year, and they seemed to be watching my treasured caterpillars as much as I was!  Every new butterfly I see I hope they were one of my precious fat caterpillars.

hummingbid sits at feeder
Female ruby-throat hummingbird

Surprisingly,  in July the lake had a harder time keeping us cool from the hot humid summer south of us, but August brought 70 degrees days while a hundred miles south it was a hot humid 90 degrees.

On to September and more change, turning leaves and intense beauty! Extra beautiful!

 

Altruistic August!

spread a ripple
smile!

Kindness and smiling create a ripple, spread them now!

Smile: A Poem by Spike Milligan
Smiling is infectious,
you catch it like the flu, When someone smiled at me today, I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner and someone saw my grin. When he smiled I realized I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about that smile, then I realized its worth.
A single smile, just like mine could travel round the earth.
So, if you feel a smile begin, don’t leave it undetected. Let’s start an epidemic quick, and get the world infected!

Become mindful how your actions affect others? Smile, turn down the music, sweep instead of leaf blow, turn off your car instead of idle, pick up litter,  control your dog, follow the driving rules, and wearing an a mask is an act of kindness. Thirty-one actions below for acts of kindness:

During August the idea is to do one or more acts of kindness daily. Let’s spread a wave of kindness all around the world. 

 

Plastic-free redo!

July is plastic-free month
Work to reduce your plastic footprint

The last 3 months have been a real setback to plastic-free living, but now some of the confusion settling down, and we can start to renew commitments to reduce plastic. 2020 which should have been a success story for plastic reduction became a total disaster with all the medical waste, and businesses sliding backward on their commitment to reduce and recycle plastic bags. I was in shock when stores wouldn’t let me use my reusable bags or let me refill my containers, but there is no evidence reusables cause Covid, but be sure to wash them!

Even with Covid cases soaring, we know more, and have learned better ways to be safe. It took about a month of trying different store policies until we were able to come down just right with grocery stores where we felt safe, and had store policies I could tolerate. We all know everyone should wear masks, wash hands and respect everyone’s space.

buy in bulk
Reuse and refill your own bottles

I am still able to fill my containers, but not in the quantities I could before the pandemic.  By using refillable containers over the years I have kept from using thousands of plastic items. I feel good about that,7 and will someday be back to serious plastic-free living. Plastic is poisoning us. It is in our water, air, and in our food, and it is important to reduce the harm we do to ourselves, wildlife and the Earth.

Reuse as much as possible and avoid using single-use plastic products. Recycling plastic has become questionable in many communities. therefore refuse and reusing plastics are the best practices to work towards. It could be much easier if manufacturers would do their part in cutting down on plastic! Below are the principles I never had to abandon, so far, during the pandemic, and I hope they are suggestions to help you reduce your plastic footprint also:

  1. Never purchase products in Styrofoam. If you purchase meat, use the fresh meat counter.  Also, avoid black plastic, which like Styrofoam is hard to recycle.
  2. Cook your own meals instead of using take-out. Challenge yourself to make meals from products that came in paper, metal or bulk, and without plastic packaging.
  3. Always travel with a reusable filled water bottles.
  4. Never use baggies. Put sandwiches and leftovers in reusable containers.
  5. Choose glass bottles instead of plastic.
  6. Never use single-use masks or gloves. Reuse!
  7. There is no evidence Covid-19 is spread by reusable bags, shop stores that let you use reusable bags and work to reduce plastic.
  8. Survey your trash. Is it full of plastic? What can you change?
  9. Good luck!

 

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July Kindness

Acts of kindness are very powerful!” Sonja Lyubomirsky

kindness
Kindness creates a ripple, spread it now.

Science is finding that being kind pays off. New studies show kindness makes people healthier and happier. Kindness can stop some illnesses, and could create more antiviral genes. What could be better during a pandemic?  So smile, donate your time and  money, help others, and wear a mask.

Here are some science based ways kindness is good for your health.

The Action For Happiness calendar is below. Make July better than the past 4 months, and stay healthy.

 

A Magical Time on Lake Superior

swallow tail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly

June can be the best time of the year for pollinators. In northern Wisconsin and Minnesota it is an awesome time for seeing bees, and butterflies! Within two minutes I observed monarchs, swallowtails, sulphurs, northern crescents, painted ladies, dragon flies, and many skippers and bees on a small patch of hawkweed and daisies.

Hawkweed
Orange Hawkweed

Everyone comments about the beautiful lupine near Lake Superior, and it is beautiful to human eyes. If you look closely, very few butterflies and bees crave lupine like they crave Canadian anemone, blooming chives, wild geraniums, blooming trees, forget-me-nots or daisies. The blooming plant that has surprised me the most this year is the orange hawkweed. It is not a native plant, but the butterflies love it.

Female American Redstart

It’s not the best time of the year to see birds, but if you can recognize their songs they bring constant musical joy. The song sparrow, chestnut sided warbler, and a pair of red starts joyfully sing all day.

Lupine on Lake Superior

As long as the sun shines the birds, bees and butterflies seem oblivious to the battle taking place on the big lake. The cold lake ties to dominate the warm tropical winds from the south, and the temperature can fluctuate from 60 degrees to 80 degrees every few minutes. It’s fascinating and refreshing!
The days are long in these northern climes with the sun setting past 9pm and twilight lasting beyond 10pm. No matter where you live get outside and enjoy the marvelous butterflies of summer, in a few weeks they will be gone!

We, not Me!

Wear Your Face Mask! “It’s easy to spot people who want the economy to open the fastest. They’re wearing a mask.” Andy Slavitt

train station in Taiwan
Four years ago I was surprised to see face masks in Taiwan and South Korea.

Four years ago I traveled to South Korea and Taiwan. The first thing I wrote in my journal was, “They wear face masks here!” I was surprised and confused. It has taken me 4 years to understand. I now know how important it is to wear a mask. Do I like it? Whether I like to wear a mask is not important. It is about keeping everyone safe and healthy.  The only way we can safely get things back to any sense of normal is if we are considerate of everyone and work to keep everyone healthy.

If we want to move to in-person activities, it is necessary to change any “me” thinking to “We are all in this together!”

Important guidelines from CDC: People should wear masks, social distance, wash hands, and limit time spent in company with others and the number of others with whom we interact. This guidance is aimed at the spread of respiratory droplets. You should think about four elements: distance from others, the environment, the activity, and the duration of the interaction. Read more here.

Mask wearing can be a game changer if we as a society collectively decide we will adhere to it.” Michael Mina, epidemiologist   Yes, and Taiwan and South Korea get it.

 

 

 

Justice

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere 

In memory of George Floyd:

This is my progressive city, and we are heartbroken. As I write this, it is noisy,  military helicopters are flying around my neighborhood.

Why?? George Floyd was killed just a few miles from my home. Sadly, a broken law enforcement system has been allowed fester. and like the coronavirus it should have been faced head on instead of taking innocent lives. The injustices faced by our black and brown people should not exist in 2020. We need to start with educational injustice, healthcare injustice, air quality injustice, and living wage injustice. As we give tax breaks to the wealthy, we can invest in the future of an important segment of our community.


From an op-ed in the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It is what needs to be said:

Tears flowed from my eyes this morning, though I am — or was — the type of man who prided himself on not crying.
What brought tears? I read that with his last conscious breath, George Floyd cried out in anguish for his mother.
Floyd was a large, strong, proud, vibrant and healthy man and yet as death rushed in upon him, he craved only the love of his mother.
His cry pierced my heart. In an instant, I knew that if I were in his place, pushed to the ground and choked by another man’s knee, I too would have called out for my mother.
Does that make me weak? No. It makes me human, and so was Floyd.
As I struggled with his death, I found my heart cracking open and I did the only thing I could think of at the time — I placed Floyd, his family, and his loved ones in my ailing heart and bore witness to his and their pain and suffering.
With my next breath, though, I surprised myself — by placing Derek Chauvin in my heart.
Does this make me weak? No. It makes me human, and so is Chauvin.
I remain outraged that a grown man — an officer of the law no less — could have such a hard and uncaring heart that for seven full minutes he was capable of slowly squeezing the life out of a fellow human being.
But the reality is that my heart, as well, has been hard and uncaring for too long. Thousands of similar deaths have occurred over the span of my five-and-a-half decades and I have looked the other way and barely raised a finger on behalf of justice.
I don’t have all the answers, but until we all soften our hearts and see both Floyd and Chauvin in ourselves — and as ourselves — little meaningful progress will be made.
I can’t bring George Floyd back. And I won’t protect Derek Chauvin from the hard justice that awaits him. I can only begin by changing myself.
I intend to do this by taking the pain, anger, fear, hate and contempt I feel, channeling it through my softening heart and working to transform it into love — the kind of love a mother has for her son, be he saint or sinner — and then strive of behalf of real and lasting justice for the disenfranchised and the downtrodden.” Jack Uldrich, Minneapolis.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.”