Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Sprit

City and County Building, Denver, CO by trythil

I love Christmas time. It’s so beautiful and nice. I love the twinkling lights and sparkling snow, the hot cocoa and happy music. Have you ever heard music cheerier than what they play at Christmas? If it was a food it’d be a 10,000 calorie dish it’s so sweet and nice.

People are kinder too. I’m constantly amazed at the generosity of the American people. While they give to hurricane relief, flood relief and help with emergencies and disasters of all kinds, they kick things up into high gear during Christmas. Food pantries, toy drives, money for the needy, hearts and pocketbooks open up so that everyone can enjoy the happiness of a full belly and a gift under the tree.

Sure there might still be a few scrooges or a Grinch or two, but somehow it’s just easier to laugh them off instead of taking their grouchiness to heart. People are more light-hearted and quicker to laugh. We share Christmas cartoons, emails, jokes, recipes and more. We feast and celebrate for an entire month and grow closer together in the merriment.

Have you been putting off your Christmas fun while you get your shopping and cooking and cleaning done? Well, now is the time to enjoy it! It’s the last weekend before Christmas. Time to have some sugar cookies and watch It’s a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street while you cuddle with your spouse or child. Time to sing some Christmas carols or sit in the quiet of a peaceful night with the glow of the Christmas tree softly lighting the room.

Christmas is too beautiful to pass up. Don’t let the excitement and preparation for the holiday take away your time to enjoy it. Go for a walk or a drive and see all the Christmas lights in your neighborhood. Or have dinner out with friends and take a break from the kitchen. Put the ornaments on the tree, attend church, go ice-skating, build a snowman, bake cookies or whatever else you love to do.

Christmas is a wonderful experience of excitement, laughter, food and family. It is a special time when our abundant blessings are cherished and savored. It only happens one time a year – so live it up! And have a very Merry Christmas! Peace and blessings to all of you.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Good Times Get You Through.

Dreamin’ – Hot Air Balloon Rides by stop.down

This past weekend a beloved family member passed away. While we knew she was ill since last January, it was still a tough process to go through. For me, many of my happier memories are what helped me get through the tough times.

Often we think of fun and joy as frivolous and silly. We may think there are more important things, like our job, our house, our children and our bodies. While these things are important, they mean little to nothing if not enjoyed.

If all we did was labor at work, toil at home, or slave on the treadmill, life would be a boring, dull wasteland. If not what we do in life, but how we do it that makes life worthwhile. Seeing someone die enforces this lesson like nothing else can.

Joy, laughter, and interesting, exciting activities are what make life good. Thinking back to all the happy times we had made the sadness of her loss easier to bear. It’s a vibrant reminder that life is in the little things. Those things we do each and every day.

Do you sing while you wash the dishes? Do you stargaze as you take out the trash? Do you share a joke or two each day at work? These are all opportunities to add fun and joy to your day.

Planning your fun is an important step in producing festive souvenirs of the past. Too often we think that fun is something that just happens. We think if we go to the amusement park, our joy will be unbounded. Then we arrive and find long lines or blistering heat and our expectations are dashed.

Fun doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A family gathering of pizza and board games on Friday night can be spontaneous and silly. A dinner out with friends can be an adventure when you experiment with different cultures and tastes. Fun comes in millions of shapes and forms, there’s something out there for everyone.

Happy memories and good times can be wonderful when they occur, but their true value is in remembered joy. When life throws us into turmoil, it can be those bright, shining recollections of more joyous moments that glimmer with a beacon of hope. Perhaps if those cheerful, fortunate times happened before, they can happen again.

The key is realizing that now is the time to build those indelible moments that will stand the test of time. Don’t let bills or financial worries keep you from your fun. A day at the park or beach can be just as playful as a stay at an amusement park. A cookie exchange where each person brings their own favorite can be a tasty and fun way to exchange recipes and have a good time.

There is no perfect way to have fun. Have an indoor picnic while you watch the snow fall outside. Have a movie theme night and play only Jack Nicholson or only comedy movies. Have a garden party and make delicious dishes from the vegetables. Whatever hobby or game you enjoy can make for a fantastic starting point to fun. And you can start this very day. Let go and enjoy – it’s what life is all about!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Savor the Moment

Sunset by Per Ola Wiberg (former ponanwi and Powi)

When is the last time you had a romantic candlelit dinner with wine and roses? Have you seen the first snowflakes of the season - for many people they have already appeared? While driving did you notice the sun shimmering on the orange and red leaves so that they seemed on fire? Have you heard the crickets serenading at night or birds singing in the morning? If not, you are depriving yourself of some of life’s greatest beauties.

Beautiful moments happen every day. Sometimes, in our rush to get to work, home, the store, wash the dishes or dust the house, we miss out on simple pleasures that could lighten our day and bring wonder and bliss to our lives. We fool ourselves into thinking that we can enjoy it tomorrow or the next day, not realizing that we’re cheating ourselves in the process.

Appreciating and being aware of small joys not only changes our mood, making us smile and laugh more, it changes our perspective as well. When we have 10 minutes of silence before beginning our day of work, we notice that our day starts off more relaxed and peaceful. Our interactions with others are calmer and more productive so we accomplish more.

Scheduling time for ourselves helps keep us balanced. When we make time for Saturday morning golf game, or a trip to the mall with girlfriends, the satisfaction we receive stays with us all week. Putting aside an hour a day to spend time with family, read a book, join a fitness club or take a cooking class adds fulfillment to each day. It’s a small goal that can make a huge difference in how you feel day to day.

Utilize the senses. Take a moment to inhale the fresh clean air outside. Listen to the sound of your child laughing, your cat purring or music you love. Feel the soft cuddly texture of the sweater you’re wearing. Luxuriate in the warmth of a hot, steamy shower. Taste the velvety smoothness of your favorite chocolate, the silky smooth chill of ice cream or succulent flavor of a juicy steak.

Lastly, the best reason to savor the moment is because time is so fleeting. Unexpected difficulties like illness, financial problems or auto and home repairs can hit without warning. Take the time today to relish your good health, happy relationship and positive cashflow. Don’t enjoy tomorrow what you could enjoy today.

Here are a few things to savor:

  • Hearing your child saying you’re the best mommy in the universe.
  • Seeing the sparkle of frost in the early morning twilight.
  • Sitting alone for 10 minutes with only silence for company.
  • Attending a music concert. Feeling the vibrations flow through you.
  • The flavor and aroma at your favorite Italian restaurant.
  • Admiring your reflection in the mirror when you look good.
  • Enjoying a Sunday afternoon nap.
  • A rainbow after the storm.
  • Freshly laundered clothes warm from the dryer.
  • Having a job and getting a steady paycheck.
  • Low gas prices.
  • Adorable costumes and trick-or-treaters on Halloween.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Halloween Spirit

A Boston Terrier Halloween by d70focus

Do you love Halloween as much as I do? For years I’ve been enthralled with the imagination, creativity, and excitement that surround the holiday. Not to mention the idea of free chocolate and a chance for a party. What’s not to like?

Inspiration comes to life in the many unique and colorful costumes created by visionary people everywhere. Fairies, Egyptian kings, and disco queens from decades past mingle with nurses and sheriffs, aliens and even Mickey Mouse. Go to any Halloween party where they’re awarding gifts for the most original, funniest or scariest costumes and see for yourself.

Some of the most inventive and cute ideas in recent years include the “cereal killer,” “smarty-pants,” the ½ angel ½ devil costumes, an early snowman, a milk carton missing kid and more. I’m always impressed with the attention to detail and innovative ideas that go into costumes. Plus it’s just fun.

Thrills have their place too. Jack o’lanterns glow with an otherworldly light, flickering in the darkness. Like gargoyles of old, they are sentinels, guarding our homes from harm. Their fearsome faces terrorize anyone who wanders near. Skeletal scarecrows watch from their post, silent sentries to trick-or-treaters young and old.

From candy corn lights to cackling witches, to motorized hands that grab as you take a treat, the unexpected lurks in every corner. Open a creaking door and walk across squeaking floors into a dimly lit room of shadowy figures. Suddenly all those household repairs you didn’t get around to are now part of the ambiance. How cool is that?

The colors of Halloween are diabolically clever. Midnight black, pumpkin orange, blood red, and gruesome green grab your attention with their vivid colors. There is something compelling and somewhat forbidden about eating food colored in such strange and unusual combinations.

We get a chance to reinvent ourselves on this playful and fun-filled holiday. Always wanted to be an astronaut? Now’s your chance! Want to be an elegant ballerina or a hard-core rock star? You can. Now is the time. You can be a lawyer, nurse or sheriff, or an alien space explorer. The only limit is your imagination.

No matter witch way you slice it, Halloween is a fun, light-hearted and creative holiday wrapped in a unique and mysterious package. So get out there and celebrate. Give in to your fear of looking silly and have a little fun. Use the excuse to let go of your problems and worries for a night. You’ll be glad you did.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Looking for the Good

You can’t see me by Piez

Some days it’s hard to find something to smile about. Perhaps like me, you’ve been sick for several weeks, hacking, coughing and sneezing, full of aches and pains, and you just don’t feel like yourself.

Maybe the news about the economy, housing market or inflation has you down. Maybe you know friends or family who have lost money or are struggling, and you feel frustrated and angry.

Now is when your attitude is more important than ever. Positive thinking is not an attempt to sugar-coat the negative events in our life, but rather a life boat that lifts us out of troubled water and gives us the time and space needed to access our situation.

Looking for the good takes effort. It takes work and thought to find the positive stories and happy information in your daily news. You must actively participate while you watch TV or read the newspaper. For instance, just yesterday I was pleased to see that 6-year old Cole Puffinburger was returned alive and uninjured after being abducted at gunpoint from his home. That is something to celebrate!

There are other things too. In my local paper there has been news of public library expansions, donations to build new playgrounds, and openings of new businesses and restaurants in the area. The weather report is sunny and cool - great for outdoor trips. Even the return of a favorite TV show can make you smile. There’s always something good if you look for it.

Many experts from Sarah Ban Breathnach to Oprah have praised the far-reaching benefits of a gratitude journal. From helping you count your blessings, to relieving past pleasurable experiences, a gratitude journal is a great tool in the search for the positive and uplifting. If used daily it can focus your attention on the various accomplishments, fun experiences and happiness of everyday life. It can improve your feelings of satisfaction and fulfillment and give you a written record of the good things that surround you.

Looking for the good is worth the effort. If you practice it enough, it becomes a habit, one that will bring you joy and comfort for many years to come. Positive thinking is a skill that allows your mind to break free of the negativity and find peace and serenity in the midst of turmoil.

Like the old saying “this too, shall pass.” Remembering that will help you to savor joys while they last, and give hope when things look bleak. There is always beauty to be found, but we must open our eyes to see it.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fall is here!

Loose-Leaf by Nicholas_T

Ahh, fall. Those crisp, cool mornings where stars glimmer and shine in a crystal clear sky. The day begins to wind down a little bit sooner as night falls earlier each evening. Trees begin their brilliant fashion show as they change into vibrant reds, oranges and yellows, dazzling us as take our daily walk. Homemade soup and hot cocoa fill the air as families gather together for a bit of warmth.

As I’ve moved from MD to FL and back north again to TN, I am in love once again with the passing seasons. I am captivated by the noticeable changes in the days. How the cool weather brings thick white fog, that envelopes us in a soft cocoon, muting the harsh noises of traffic. Or the first frost, when plants and grass are coated in a thin layer of white that sparkle in the streetlights overhead.

Fall brings to mind family and friends. Holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, when we get together and eat, frolic and enjoy one another’s company. A time to give thanks for all the joys and happy moments we’ve experienced through the year. Fall brings us back together as we shelter from the cold.

Two of my favorite fall activities are decorating a bright orange pumpkin for Halloween (and even Thanksgiving), and going on a hike to see the gleaming colors of the Maples, Ash, Sweet gum, Birch and Oak trees. I love listening the crackle of fallen leaves as they crunch underfoot. The cool air is invigorating and lures me outside day after day.

Some more favorites of mine are; eating Halloween (black and orange) Oreos, visiting family and feasting at Thanksgiving, going to Haunted houses, eating crisp fall apples, the first pot of homemade soup, hot tea on a cold morning, and seeing the first Christmas decorations go up. What are you favorite fall activities?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

5 Minute Daily Review.

Pencils and Moleskins 04 by Paul Worthington

Ever feel like the days rush by so fast you don’t have a chance to slow down enough to enjoy them? At the end of the day do you feel like you’ve missed something important, some genius idea or perfect solution to a problem that you couldn’t take the time to investigate?

Start your own 5 minute daily review. At the end of the day as you lay in bed, relaxing your body for sleep, think of the high and low points of your day. What did you love about today? What made you feel great? What would you change or improve if you could do it again?

Your daily review is best done in silence, in a darkened room with few distractions. No one demanding your attention, nothing that needs to be done for those few minutes. When you remember situations that make you feel uncomfortable or ashamed, replay those incidents in your mind, but with the changes you would have made if you could go back.

It would also be a good idea to keep a notebook and pen by your bed. When you get a brilliant idea on how to make amends for a mistake, or a new strategy for dealing with a problem, you can jot them down for action.

Don’t feel tied to doing your review at a certain time or only once a day. Experiment and play with it. Perhaps you would do better taking 10 minutes after work, but before dinner, reviewing the majority of your day while it’s still fresh in your mind. Maybe you want to do two sessions – one in the morning to see what stands out from the day before, and one at night, and comparing the results of both.

Here are a few tips to get the most from your daily review:
  • Find a spot where you feel comfortably relaxed and unhurried.
  • Set a timer and stay with your review for the fully allotted time.
  • Keep paper and a pen nearby to write down your insights.
  • Close your eyes and take a 5-10 deep breaths, imagining your muscles unwinding and stress flowing away like water down a drain.
  • Be sure to end your session with a positive memory (even if it’s one you have changed to improve it.)

Above all, stay loose. This shouldn’t be a chore. With a positive attitude and a little flexibility this little exercise can give you creative solutions to problems you thought unsolvable, give you awareness of things you want to change, and best of all it can be a wonderful video replay of the happiest moments from your day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Elderly Jokes

The old lady and the birds by soylentgreen23

Even in my youth (I’m only 36), I feel the aches and pain of old age creeping up. My knee is tweaked, my foot aches, and I’m tired more often. So when my “older” friends send me these jokes, they really make me laugh. I hope you will enjoy them too. Life is nothing without laughter!

Just before the funeral services, the undertaker came up to the very elderly widow and asked,
'How old was your husband?' '98,' she replied.
'Two years older than me'
'So you're 96,' the undertaker commented.
She responded, 'Hardly worth going home, is it?

Reporters interviewing a 104-year-old woman:
'And what do you think is the best thing
about being 104?' the reporter asked.
She simply replied, 'No peer pressure.'

The nice thing about being senile is
you can hide your own Easter eggs.

I've sure gotten old!
I've had two bypass surgeries, a hip replacement,
new knees, fought prostate cancer and diabetes
I'm half blind,
can't hear anything quieter than a jet engine,
take 40 different medications that
make me dizzy, winded, and subject to blackouts.
Have bouts with dementia.
Have poor circulation;
hardly feel my hands and feet anymore.
Can't remember if I'm 85 or 92.
Have lost all my friends. But, thank God,
I still have my driver's license.

I feel like my body has gotten totally out of shape,
so I got my doctor's permission to
join a fitness club and start exercising.
I decided to take an aerobics class for seniors.
I bent, twisted, gyrated, jumped up and down, and perspired for an hour. But, by the time I got my leotards on,
the class was over.

An elderly woman decided to prepare her will and
told her preacher she had two final requests.
First, she wanted to be cremated, and second,
she wanted her ashes scattered over Wal-Mart.
'Wal-Mart?' the preacher exclaimed.

'Why Wal-Mart?'
'Then I'll be sure my daughters visit me twice a week'

My memory's not as sharp as it used to be.
Also, my memory's not as sharp as it used to be.

Know how to prevent sagging?
Just eat till the wrinkles fill out.

It's scary when you start making the same noises
as your coffee maker.

These days about half the stuff
in my shopping cart says,
'For fast relief.'

Grant me the senility to forget the people
I never liked anyway,
the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and
the eyesight to tell the difference.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Do Your Thing!

As Light as Air by aussiegall

What’s your thing? Do you tell great jokes and make everyone laugh? Are you a gardener whose delicious fruits and vegetables look like works of art and taste like the finest dining? Have you become the #1 collector of vintage GI Joe figures or Strawberry Shortcake dolls?

We all have passions, loves and favorite subjects. Sometimes there are tons of other people who enjoy the same thing. Other times you may be the chief authority on the best fishing lures or the only collectors of heart-shaped keychains. The great thing is; this is what makes us all unique and interesting. It’s part of our personal style. It’s our thing.

If you’re one of the lucky ones, you get to work at your obsession every day. Maybe you love dogs and you work as a pet sitter, cuddling fluffy kittens and playing ball with energetic dogs every day. Or you could love flour, cakes and frosting and have your own bakery. Maybe you love helping others and you work as a nurse, doctor, counselor or therapist.

Meeting someone who loves their work gives us a jolt to make our own passions and joys part of our daily life. How many grumpy, zombie-like, half-asleep people do you know? Probably lots. How many alert, excited, and happy people do you know? I’ll bet you can count them on one hand. Become one of these people. Even if you can’t do the work you love, you can work to love what you do.

So put your bowling trophy on your desk at work. Enter your flowers in the fair and meet other budding enthusiasts. Be a mentor and teach a child how to golf or play basketball. Buy that Darth Vader lamp shade for your bedroom – it’s your room isn’t it?

Don’t be afraid to live a little. So often we give in to that pressure to fit in and “be normal.” What is normal? What’s normal for Americans is strange to the Chinese. The Germans don’t eat the same foods as the Italians. India dresses differently from Russia. Embrace the differences – your own and others. They make the world a more interesting place. Variety adds fun and an element of surprise to each day.

Wear white after Labor Day – you’ll match the ice and snow. Cook a five-course meal for two – who says you need a crowd? Read comic books instead of novels. Play hide and go seek with your husband. Have fun and live well. Do your thing and enjoy life!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Ideas to Spice up Your Life.

Jumpin’ in the rain by Tony the Misfit

When life gets a little too routine, and each day is the same as the one before you can find yourself feeling restless, fidgety and bored. Here are a few ideas to help you add a spark of creativity to your week and shake things up a bit:

  • Go underground. Go back in time through millions of years as you explore the strange and exotic formations of stone and mineral deposits. Transport yourself to a different realm and beat the summer heat in cool cave retreat.
  • Take your spouse on a date. Plan a surprise date without your spouse’s knowledge. Go to a show, have a romantic dinner, attend a music concert, go dancing or see a comedy act. Just have fun and spend some time together with just the two of you.
  • Wear different clothes. Use bright colors, add accessories like belts, hats, sparkling jewelry, a fancy suit or whatever makes you feel good.
  • Escape from technology. Go on a 4 hour cruise and leave your cell phone behind, just you and the gleaming blue sea. Camp in a rustic hut and leave the laptop and organizer at home. With no TV, newspaper or radio, you’ll notice the sweet pine-scented air and hear the birds singing all day.
  • Be someone else. Go to a costume party and dress entirely different than your everyday life. Volunteer with a house project and learn skills like painting and carpentry. Or join a community event and help out with decorations or fundraising. Find new passions and skills.
  • Do something romantic. Take a horseback ride through rolling green pastures and have a secluded picnic for two. Rent a room by the ocean and make love to the sound of the surf. Go for a midnight skinny-dip or sensual shower.
  • Eat somewhere new. Grill outside and eat in the pink and orange rays of the setting sun. Have a meal at the park while the kids run around and tire themselves out. Eat at the beach where the salty sea air stimulates your appetite. Set the kitchen table with your best tablecloth and fancy dishes and have a feast.
  • Do something crazy! Is it raining outside? Great! Go outside and do your own rendition of “Singing in the Rain.” (Beware that if you sing as well as dance you may scare away even more people with your voice alone.) Put on some old clothes and splash through some mud. It’s summertime – you won’t catch a cold. Have fun, let loose and just be silly!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Happiness Tips from Teens.

Ist das die Sonne? Day 45 by Arwen Abendstern

Who knew those reclusive, moody, opinionated teenagers had so much common sense? Here’s an idea of some of the tips they’d give for a happier life – if only you’d listen to them:

  1. Get plenty of sleep. Snuggle under those covers and use those extra pillows to block out the sun. Make sure you get plenty of shut-eye so you can conserve your energy for those important events like skateboarding, football games, socializing and parties.
  2. Eat what you like. Your body needs fuel to feel good and work properly. You need food and plenty of it. Don’t skimp on eating and deprive yourself – eat foods that taste great so hunger won’t be a distraction later in the day (or night.)
  3. Don’t listen to authority figures. Always make sure those in charge actually know what they are talking about. Question everything. Believe in yourself and follow your dreams even if the experts don’t think it will work.
  4. Express yourself. Don’t conform to the expectations of others. Find your own style and personality.
  5. Experiment. To keep life from getting dull and repetitive, stay curious and try new ideas. Remember that your future is full of limitless potential.
  6. Let loose once in a while. When the pressures and constraints of life bring you down, go a little crazy. Let your hair down (or put it up) and go out for a night of fun. Party your butt off!
  7. Remember your friends. They are the ones who pick you up when you stumble, and make you laugh when you have a rough day. Stay in touch through email, phone, letters, and frequent visits.
  8. Embrace change. Life is all about learning and growing. Be open to new people, places and changing trends. Embrace new technology and help keep your mind from growing stale.
  9. Stay active. Whether you enjoy sports, daily walks, dancing or chasing your younger brother through the house, a healthy body is an active one.
  10. Keep your calendar clear. Don’t let chores, work or school commitments keep you from taking time for yourself. Leave free time for activities you enjoy – or for nothing at all.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

19 Unusual Stress-Busting Tips.

What?!?! by dizznbonn

When life gets too serious, here are a few goofy tips to lighten up and bust that stress out of your life:

  • Write a nasty letter in invisible ink.
  • Roll down a grassy hill to shake up your world.
  • Find a place to hide. (Try the park, your car, the garage or anywhere else you can remain undisturbed for a few hours.)
  • Eat funny food. Try goldfish crackers, cherry flavored gummy bears or Scooby Doo ice cream.
  • Play basketball and imagine your adversary’s face is the ball. (Ditto for baseball, tennis and soccer.)
  • Load a squirt gun with bubble mix and practice your shooting.
  • Keep a drawer of crazy buttons and bumper stickers sayings. Put up a wacky motto for the week.
  • Go to the pool or run through the sprinklers to “wash your worries away.”
  • Have a good sniff. Spritz on your favorite perfume, massage your head with relaxing lavender essential oil or keep your car smelling pine fresh – whatever puts a smile on your face.
  • Wear all black to express your feelings. Or dress in all pink to improve your mood.
  • Paint your feelings using finger paint.
  • Surround yourself with puppies by visiting a local shelter.
  • Crank up the music. Listen to some childhood favorites to bring back happy memories.
  • Crush and destroy. Find a stuffed animal, gel stress ball or other squishy object and shake, slam, and crush it as you talk about what’s bugging you.
  • Become someone else. Escape your problems by adopting a new accent, look or name temporarily. Refuse to answer to your true identity until you feel better.
  • Buy a punching bag and get it out of your system. (You’ll get in shape and get those “feel-good” endorphins at the same time.)
  • Lie on the grass and cloud watch or star gaze. If you’re still alive after 15 minutes, get up, brush yourself off and continue your day in a better frame of mind.
  • Buy some bubble wrap and spend 10 minutes popping them. (I don’t know why but for some reason this always makes me smile.)
  • Chew some bubble gum and see how big a bubble you can blow.
  • Shake it off. Starting with your left leg, raise it up slightly and shake it as if something were stuck to your shoe. Do the same with the right leg, then your left arm and right arm and finally your entire body. Don’t know why but this works really good. You may have to repeat two or three times to get the full effect.

What are your favorite ways to have fun and loosen up?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Monster Quest.

Bigfoot/Sasquatch by Just a Photographer and Artist in Cleveland Ohio

Do you love monsters, UFO’s, and all things unknown? If so, you’ve probably already seen the History channel’s show “MonsterQuest.” The show searches the globe for the newest evidence and latest sightings of Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Nessie, Swamp Thing, and many other seldom seen creatures of myth and legend.

From video and photo analysis to lab tests on hair and bone fragments, and interviews with eyewitnesses, evidence is examined for accuracy and truth. As you would imagine, much of it is blurry, fuzzy, and out-of-focus, but really folks, if YOU came across an eight-foot tall hairy man-beast, would YOU even remember you had a camera?

As a simple, ordinary person who has seen many experts put to shame when an extinct animal is suddenly seen again, or new archeological evidence rips holes in the latest evolutionary theory, I simply keep an open mind, and enjoy the tales of unusual encounters with unique creatures.

One of the most interesting bits about the show is even when they disprove a claim as not being proof of Bigfoot or a Chupacbra, experts cannot explain what it is they have found. Whether it’s a recording of a bizarre animal call, the carcass a giant squid, or a never-before-seen, and oddly-malformed deep sea fish, the results are still amazing.

I love the mystery of it all. Are there really mutated wolves devouring cows in rural areas? Why not – after all, we already know there is such a thing as a Liger (a tiger/lion mix), and man is that thing impressive! Is there really a dinosaur-like creature in the Loch Ness area of Scotland? Could be. In recent years, we’ve discovered such super-huge squid that those supposed tall-tales of horrible sea-monsters sailors told in the past are now suddenly seen in an entirely new light.

If you want to hear some one-of-a-kind stories and see some amazing creatures (past or present), tune in and check it out. If nothing else, you’ll find a new appreciation for the diversity of life on the planet. Perhaps you’ll reawaken your own curiosity and interest in the world you thought you knew. At the very least, you’re sure to hear a really great story.

Monday, July 28, 2008

7 Ways to Improve TV News:

Capture from TV tuner card by mrebert

The news is often depressing, sad, dreary and just plain unwatchable. Sure we may need a little bit of information about the state of the world, but it seems to me there might be a few places to they could improve the delivery. Here are few ideas of my own:

  1. After every horrible, unhappy story, show pictures of cute, fuzzy baby animals.
  2. No speculators please. Don’t guess or imagine what horrible possible scenarios may occur, or why an unspeakable atrocity was committed. Stick to the facts, or don’t do the story at all.
  3. Put it on at 2 a.m., when hardly anyone is awake or watching TV.
  4. Skip the pictures and descriptions of the brutal mutilation of some hapless victim. Whether in the morning, noon or 6 p.m., this is a definite appetite destroyer.
  5. Have circus clowns as hosts to help take your mind off the negative reporting.
  6. No more so-called experts please. Just ask the people on the street – they’re right just about as often, and are not nearly so smug about it.
  7. Put on 2 positive stories for each negative one shown. (Yes they are out there, you simply have to look.)

Here are a few more freebies:

  • Stop all those flashing headlines and tickers running across the screen. They are enormously distracting. Save that stuff for when something truly devastating occurs.
  • Skip the celebrity updates. Unless one of them has cured cancer we don’t need to know. That’s what talk shows and Inside Edition are for.
  • Don’t report about the same problem more than twice in one week unless you’ve suddenly come up with a solution of your own.
  • Every hour flash a black screen with the message “Time for a news break. Please enjoy this musical collage of playful puppies.”

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Answers to the Energy Crisis.

Picture by Lollie-Pop

In these stressful days when gas prices keep us home more often, and the TV is full of nonsense and hype, we all need a little comedy relief. It seems everyone and their mother has an idea to offer to solve our energy problems. Here are just a few more ideas. . .

  • Foot Power: The Flintstones is the inspiration for this idea. No more high gas prices. Now we use the power of our feet. Stinky, dry and rough, or with long yellow nails, suddenly feet are beautiful. We could launch Pedal Power Plants in every gym in America.
  • Celebrity Power: Everywhere you look there are celebrities; newspapers, TV, Internet and more. At the next award show simply line the red carpet with lots of wind generators. All that hot air could power us for a year.
  • Weed Power: Why bother with corn-based ethanol? Instead we could use crab grass, dandelions, thistles and more. All those nuisance, fast-growing weeds that do nothing but get in the way. At the rate they grow we’ll be energy independent in 6 months.
  • Bean Power: This one is self-evident, but easily overlooked. Simply take 1,000 people or so and have a free bean tasting event. Then lock them all in a steel tanker. Viola – a free source of natural gas.
  • South Park Power: As any fan knows, if we simply put Butters in charge of Imaginationland our troubles will quickly disappear. All it takes is a little mind power and poof – instant resolution. No messy processing plants or waiting needed.
  • Psychic Power: This is another no-brainer. Gather the top ten psychics from across the nation together and have them give us the answers. After all, they’re psychics - they already know exactly what we need to do.
  • Hoof Power: Bring back horse travel. Just think of the income generated by all the necessary street cleans, boot makers and corral builders. It will instantly lower fuel costs, with the added bonus of boosting the economy.
  • Berry Power: Have the government issue every citizen a new Blackberry device – complete with a paid service plan. We could all communicate instantly via email, text message and phone, thereby reducing the need to actually go anywhere.

What creative solutions do you have for the energy crisis? Leave your great ideas in the comments section. Thanks for stopping by and have a fun day!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Best Theme Parks

Roller coaster and a hot dog by ReefRaff

It’s summertime – and that means the ads for every amusement park from Disneyland to your local zoo is in full swing. So where should you go this year for your getaway? Let’s start with a review of the some of the most popular theme parks in the U.S.

  • Disney World, Orlando, FL. One of the top destinations for millions of kids and their families, this has to be one of the top parks for one main reason; its creator Walt Disney.Mr. Disney’s view of a family-friendly, creative and imaginative environment has turned into an interactive, all-inclusive, extravaganza of fun for people of all ages.
  • Cedar Point, Sandusky, OH. This park pops up is mentioned over and over.With a huge diversity of entertainment, from water rides and roller coasters to carousels and children’s rides, there is something for everyone.
  • Sea World, San Diego, CA.It’s hard to resist a park that gives you an up-close and personal look at creatures you can’t see any other way.Whales, dolphins, seals and more abound at this undersea oasis.Full of amazing sights and even hands-on events, this park is ideal for those who want to see another side of our world – the wet side.
  • Busch Garden, Williamsburg VA. With thrilling rides and eye-popping shows, and thick, lush landscaping, you can enter another time and place at Busch Gardens.Beautifully themed “hamlets” include French, German, Irish, Scottish and Italian will delight you with delicious food, souvenir shops and musical performances for every taste.
  • Six Flags, CA, GA, IL, KY, MA, MO, NJ, TX.With over 8 parks spread across the U.S., there’s likely one nearby no matter where you live.From animal parks to water parks and everything in between, you’re sure to have fun. Full of characters like Scooby Doo, Bugs Bunny, Superman and Batman, these parks appeal to the kid in all of us.

If you’re unfamiliar with parks in your area, try visiting Theme Park City for a state-by-state list. Don’t miss some of these lesser-known, but extremely fun parks:

  • Hershey Park, PA. More than just a chocolate lovers retreat, this park offers water rides, roller coasters, concerts and more.
  • Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN. Located in the picturesque Great Smoky Mountains, this park offers the award-winning Thunderhead wooden roller coaster as well as a chance to see the ancient crafts of blacksmithing, glass blowing and wood carving.
  • Wisconsin Dells Indoor Water Park. How else do you keep the summer fun going all year long? Put your water park inside! No matter what the weather you can float your cares away at the Wisconsin Dells water park.
  • Stone Mountain Park, GA. From the thrilling rope-like Sky Hike, to the Summit Skyride with mountain views, take a ride on the Ducks, the super-cool amphibious vehicles, and after a game of miniature golf, enjoy a spectacular fireworks and laser show to end the evening.

For further information, or a burst of inspiration, check out these theme park review sites:

Theme Park

Theme Park

Screamscape – the ultimate guide to theme parks.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Summer Movie Fun

Popcorn by Darren Hester

Though there have been many mediocre and disappointing movies coming from Hollywood these days, I am still looking forward to visiting the theater. From this week’s favorite demon-spawned gem Hellboy II: The Golden Army, to the quirky comedy Meet Dave, about miniature aliens who land on earth in a clever disguised ship which looks like an ordinary human, there is much to enjoy at your local theater.

I’m not picky either – I’ll take a good comedy, animated children’s movie, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, or action flick. Give me some cool visuals, lots of action, and a few plucky sidekicks thrown in and I’m happy. Wanted looks to be an edge-of-your-seat thriller with those super-cool slow-motion shots that make the action even more suspenseful. And I’m also looking forward to the crazy antics and hilarious wit of the upcoming Step Brothers movie. With two of my favorite funny stars, Will Ferrell and John C. Reilly who make a hilarious comedy duo, this is sure to be a hit.

Last week I got to see the animated movie Kung Fu Panda. I love watching accidental heroes –especially when they are cute, fuzzy, talking animal heroes. This movie was fun, colorful, and kept me entertained the entire time. We also have The Dark Knight, which opens July 18th. After many disastrous attempts to bring this comic legend back to life, Christian Bale has captured the essence of a real-life Batman, giving us a troubled and flawed, but essentially good-hearted man whose passion is to bring order and peace back to the streets of his hometown.

In these days of hot humid weather and rainy afternoons, there’s no place like your favorite big-screen cinema house to offer a great getaway from work doldrums and an fun-filled escape for moms to take kids of all ages. Let’s not forget the other great contenders soon to arrive at our door; The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, The Rocker with our Office favorite Rainn Wilson in the starring role, and finally for all you Star Wars fans, the eagerly anticipated Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated movie.

Here’s to a great summer, full of good times with good friends. Feel free to share your favorites here. Happy screening!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Healthy Eating Tips for Work.

Healthy food at the gymnastics center by Rick McCharles

During the fast-paced, busy workday it is easy to overlook our regular healthy eating habits. Many of us could use a little help or a quick reminder to keep us from hurrying to the vending machine for the high-calorie temptations that lurk there. Here are a few tips to help keep you on the straight and narrow:

  • Diet and low-calorie drinks – diet soda, fruit juice boxes, orange juice singles and low-sugar mixes like lemonade and fruit punch. Get your vitamin C and a refreshing drink without the caffeine overload.
  • Dried cereal mix – bag up some easy, healthy dried cereal. Choose a brand with nuts, raisins, cranberries or other tasty additions. This can be a healthy start to your work day. Try some during your morning break.
  • Small portions – choose items with good portion sizes like vanilla or chocolate pudding cups, granola bars, or flavored yogurt. They’re easy to pick up on the go and have lots of varieties.
  • Fruit – don’t just go for the standard apple, banana or peach. Make sure to include canned fruit, pre-mixed fruit cocktails and dried fruit. Trail mix with dried fruit will keep your energy up all afternoon.
  • Veggies – get a pack of small baby carrots or cut up some celery, broccoli, or cauliflower. Bring some low-fat ranch dressing for a zingy snack or side dish.
  • Cup of soup – keep a stock of flavorful soup mixes at your desk along with a handy mug and spoon and you’ve got a ready-made meal anytime. My favorite is chicken noodle.
  • Mixed nuts – in your snack drawer be sure to keep a handy can of mixed nuts. Cashew, almonds, Brazil nuts and walnuts are full of flavor and nutrition. Grab a handful before your next meeting to keep you going until lunch.
  • Lunch from home – bringing lunch from home usually keeps calories and fat to a minimum. Bring sandwiches, a tuna wrap, salad, frozen dinners, leftover spaghetti and whatever yummy recipes you can find. Go online to spice up your choices.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

You Don’t Have Time to Worry

Worried little girl by txd

How true, how true. Most of us are so busy we don’t have time for living. How could we possibly have time to waste on worrying? Yet hundreds of thousands of us do it all the time. We are plagued by financial concerns, relationship troubles, and difficulties at work. We worry about things that have already happened, our past mistakes, as well as things that could possibly happen, or might come true in the future.

Worry, fear and anxiety steal the joy from our happy moments; it steals the energy and health from our bodies, and steals the wisdom and strength from our minds. To live a more robust, vigorous, productive and joyful life we need to put worry in its place. Slow down the avalanche of negative thoughts that bombard us every day. Try some of the tips below to help you get started:

  • Write down your worries. Just the simple act of writing things down is very freeing. It takes away the fear that you might forget something important. It allows your mind to concentrate on the present moment. You are able to deal solely with whatever is happening in the now. It gives you the freedom to take action on your current situation without the distraction of problems that are temporarily out of your control.
  • Put a stop to your fears. Many people go through a snowball effect of worry. Perhaps you are worried about having enough money to pay your bills. You may start imagining worst-case scenarios where you lose your job, your car, your house and your spouse. When you recognize this kind of out-of-control fear grabbing hold of you, say aloud to yourself “Stop it. Calm down, you have a good plan.” Learn to put a halt to your unrestrained imagination. Remind yourself of the solutions you have already come up with to deal with your problem.
  • Take a news break. One way we tend to worry more than we should is by paying attention to negative events and situations. Anyone who watches the daily news understands how filling your mind with tragedies, natural disasters, death and money troubles, even if they all belong to someone else can fill you with anxiety and stress. Turn off the TV and stay away from newspapers and magazines for a while. Your mind and body will thank you.
  • Learn to relax. Scheduling daily quiet time into your day is a must to get your worry and fear under control. When you are busy and overwhelmed with getting things done, you don’t allow yourself the space for peaceful, calming thoughts and feelings. Breathing deeply, listening to soothing music, or repeating positive thoughts to yourself can counteract your panic and apprehension. Sitting outside under the sun or stars for just 15 minutes can slow down your thoughts, brining clarity and peace.
  • Set a time limit. If you can’t stop a worry or concern from straying into your thoughts, set aside time to address it. Put aside at least 15 minutes to an hour. Write down what’s bothering you and your ideas to correct it. If you need to, call a friend to ask advice, visit a professional on the subject or get a good book from the library to help. By knowing you have a set time to deal with your problems you are less likely to experience the doubt, uncertainty and uneasiness of facing the unknown.
  • Find a good distraction. When your worries are trivial or insignificant, try finding a more useful diversion. Some people find doing a constructive chore, like cleaning, exercising, or taking care of the kids a good way to keep their minds focused on the here and now. If you do this each time your thinking goes astray you may be able to stop the worry habit in its tracks. Life is too short to spend it fearing things that may never happen. Why not arrange your photo album, find new dinner recipes, or sort your belongings for your next garage sale instead?