Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Nutshell Principles

How I Changed My Life, In Four Lines

‘What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step.’ ~C. S. Lewis

Post written by Leo Babauta.
Changing your life can seem an incredibly tough and complicated thing, especially if you’ve failed a great number of times (like I did), found it too hard, and resigned yourself to not changing.
But I found a way to change.
And I’m not any better than anyone else, not more disciplined, not more motivated. I just learned a few simple principles that changed my life.
I’ve written about them many times, but realized they’re spread out all over the site.
Here is how I changed my life, in a nutshell.
tl;dr The four lines you’re looking for are at the bottom.

How I Started Running

In 2005 I was sedentary, and couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make exercise a regular habit. At the end of 2006, not only was I running very regularly, I finished my first marathon. These days I can run a half marathon race at the drop of a hat, have run several marathons.
How did I do it? I started with just 10 minutes of running a day. I focused not on how hard it was, but how much I enjoyed the movement and the outdoors. I increased slowly, until I could run 15 minutes, then 20, and later a couple hours. I was grateful for every run I was able to take.
I got healthier, fitter, slimmer, happier.

How I Started Eating Healthier

In 2005 I was overweight, and addicted to junk food. I ate fast food, chips and cookies, fried meats, anything fatty or sweet or salty … and I had no idea how to change. Today, I am 70 lbs. lighter, I eat almost all whole, real foods (almost nothing processed), I eat a sweet treat now and then but am happier eating healthy food.
How did I change? I started with small changes like drinking more water, eating more fruits and veggies, cooking at home more and preparing my lunches for work. One at a time. I gradually improved my diet, eventually cleared my fridge and pantry of junk, and stopped going to fast food places. I found healthy foods I really loved. I was grateful for every delicious healthy meal I ate.
I felt better about myself, trimmed down, and feel great every single day.

How I Got Out of Debt

In 2005, I was way over my head in debt — it was so bad, I had creditors calling me, and I would ignore my phone calls. I struggled to make it paycheck to paycheck, and sometimes didn’t even make it — I had to borrow money from friends and family. It was one of the most stressful times of my life. At the end of 2007, I celebrated with my wife Eva when we paid off our last debt and were free!
How did I do it? I started one little change at a time: I started cutting back on expenses a little, saving a little at a time, paying off the little debts and then the bigger debts, found some breathing room, and saw the light at the end of the tunnel. I gradually changed my financial habits and got into better shape. I was grateful for every debt paid off, every dollar saved, every inch of breathing room.
I’m debt free and will never go back. It’s the most liberating thing ever.

And On and On

I was planning on writing the same capsules for how I decluttered and simplified my possessesions, how I started focusing and accomplishing more, how I turned my passion into a living, and so on … but the truth is, the story starts to repeat itself.
I used the same principles, over and over. More on that in the nutshell below.

And Then I Gave Up Goals

About two years ago, I started to give up goals. Just as an experiment.
It turns out, I could still accomplish the same kinds of things, but I just didn’t plan it out. Instead, I just followed the same principles (more on those below). They still work, even without goals.
People say I can give up goals because I’ve already accomplished a lot … but the truth is, I can give up goals because I have learned a few things that work, and realized they work with or without goals. And if you follow these things, you can change your life, with or without goals.

The Nutshell Principles

So what are the principles that changed my life, repeatedly?
If you read the brief stories above, you already know:
1. Start very small.
2. Do only
one change at a time.
3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
4. Be
grateful for every step you take.
In programming, this is called an algorithm. It’s a series of steps that you can apply to make any change, no matter what your situation.
It works. This is the Zen Habits method, the Change Your Life App, in four lines. I hope it helps.


Pursuing Your Dreams

Want to Reinvigorate Your Life? The Power of Pursuing Your Dreams

When was the last time you dreamed? I’m talking about dreaming and achieving something that you really want in your life. I bet, when you were younger, you dreamed all the time, but something happened and it didn’t turn out. That’s probably when you slowly gave up on dreaming. Or maybe you’re one of those people who achieved your dreams and didn’t bother to create new ones. Or you’re in the large pool of people who never really dreamed at all. Don’t worry. That’s common. Often people get busy in their daily lives and forget to dream. Or they’re afraid to dream because it brings up lots of emotions that put them at risk for being hurt or disappointed. It’s comfortable to live without emotional risk, but that’s not where the fun is in life. Having dreams engages you in your life, makes it more exciting, and connects you to yourself and what’s important to you.

Pursuing a Dream Puts You on a Shortcut to an Improved Quality of Life

As a life coach, I help people figure out their dreams and what they really want. There are lots of types of dreams and goals to achieve in your life. At the Handel Group®, we break down a person’s life into 18 areas. These areas are: relationship to self, relationships with another, character traits, family, career, time, body, spirituality, money, bad habits, community, sex, romance, home, personal space, learning, fun/adventure and health. When I work with a client, we tackle every area of their life to make sure they are dreaming and seeing the bigger picture of what they can really have. It’s about dreaming and being happy and healthy in every area of your life.
Start with a pen and paper and look at the list of 18 areas of life. Let yourself think deeply about what you want in your life and choose three areas you want to address and create a dream. For each area, choose one or two specific goals that you can accomplish in the next six months that would make you happy and proud. Once you have identified your dream, you are the one who can make it happen. For example, if you chose home as one of the areas you would like to improve, make a plan to find a new place to live that works better for you. If you are unable to move for financial or other reasons, redecorate your home or get rid of the clutter. There are many things you can do to create a better home for yourself, but if you don’t dream, nothing will change.

The Right Dreams Inspire the Right Actions

The dreams you pursue should be attainable and based on ideas that totally excite you. It’s important that you make sure you are creating dreams for you and not what you think you should do or achieve. Dreams are what you really want for yourself. And it’s important that you formulate your dreams in language such that you believe that they are possible to achieve.
One obstacle that you may encounter as you go after your dreams is cynicism, which may rear its ugly head with thoughts like, “I’m not talented or smart enough,” “That’s way too hard,” or “I can’t afford it.” Negative thoughts are excuses and need to be ignored. They are just keeping you from your dreams. Your actions are what makes things happen. Connect with people you know and ask for a favor, a loan or an opportunity for something. One phone call to the right person can change everything.

The Best Way to Stay on Track with Your Dream Is to Stay Faithful to It and Have the Confidence to Pursue It

Many clients stumble almost immediately when pursuing their dreams because they aren’t truly committed to them and don’t really believe they’re possible. It’s the difference between thinking you are going to do this and hoping you might. The uncertainty that comes with hoping leaves you more scared than energized and happy about your dream. Fear will stop any dream in its tracks. You must believe in it, want it and know it’s possible. Honestly believing in your dream is exciting and makes the work that you do toward attaining that dream much more fun.
Our actions follow our thoughts. Your actions must be consistent with your dream or you won’t achieve it. For example, if you want a healthy, fit body but you’re eating pizza four times a week, your actions are not consistent with your dream. Another example would be if you want to be a chef, but don’t sign up for a cooking class that is offered in your area. It’s all up to you. Your actions are the fulfillment of your dreams, and through your heartfelt dreams you can make lasting change in your life.
Life is about having real dreams that are special to you and going after them. please take some time now to think and feel about what your dreams are for 2012. Now is the perfect time to tell fear to shut up, debunk some dumb theories you may have about yourself and make some real plans for action. We’d love to help.
Lauren Zander

Free Intro to Coaching!

Remarked-Upon Articles from Mother Nature Network

Mother Nature's Weekly

It's been an amazing and gratifying year here at Mother Nature Network and our most-viewed and remarked-upon articles of 2011 show the year in all its sustainable glory. Did your favorite make the list?:

10. What level hippie are you? This offbeat quiz had lots of readers judging themselves.

9. A photo gallery of ominous images of roll clouds drew comments of "can this be real?" (They are :)

8. Could wind power become cheaper than nuclear? News of a Japanese breakthrough drew strong reader reaction. 

7. This list of great inns open only to those with good hiking shoes was a hit with fit readers.

6. The 8 happiest dogs on YouTube got more "awwws" from our readers than any other.

5. This photo of an Icelandic volcano erupting with the northern lights in the background was the most clicked picture of the year. 

4. From Greek yogurt to mashed-up avocados, these 8 hair-care treatments you can make yourself landed on our top list.

3. These photos of thousands of spiders encasing trees in Pakistan delighted some readers -- and really freaked out others.

2. The kitchen spa: 5 foods that nourish your body from the inside out.

1. We can't all have the most organic farms or the lowest air pollution, but every U.S. state is No. 1 in some environmental or public health category.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Best Advice Regarding Our Fitness Habit

Post written by Leo Babauta.
A new year, a new slate of resolutions.
Perhaps the biggest resolution at New Year’s is to get fit — start exercising, start eating right, and all that jazz.
But resolutions never last. As you might already know, I’m not a fan of resolutions.
Instead of creating a list of resolutions this year, create a new habit.
Habits last, and they lead to long-term fitness (and more). They require more patience, but they are worth the wait.
As some of you know, fitness habits are what started me along the path to changing my life. I quit smoking, started running. Then I started eating healthier, became vegetarian (now vegan), quit the junk food addiction, started doing other types of workouts (bodyweight, weights, Crossfit, anything that was fun).
And six years later, I’m nearly 39 years old and in the best shape of my life. I have less bodyfat than any time since high school, more muscle than ever in my life, and I can run and hike and play longer than anytime in the history of Leo. That’s not to brag, but to show you what can be done with some simple fitness habits.

Reshaping Through Habits

The appealing thing about many fitness programs is that they promise quick results. You see testimonials from people who have gone through the program and lost 30 lbs. and gain a washboard stomach in just 4 weeks!
That’s all complete crap.
First, most people won’t achieve those results. Second, and more importantly, if you do get quick results, you’ll reverse those results very quickly … because you haven’t created new habits. You’ve just done something intense and unsustainable for a short period of time. That’s nearly worthless.
You should be focused on long-term results, and more importantly on a healthy lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle starts with changing your habits and ends with long-term results.
Changing habits takes time. I recommend one habit at a time, and give yourself about a month per habit. That takes patience, but you shouldn’t try to see amazing results in just 30 days. You should enjoy your new lifestyle, which will be an amazing result in itself that you can achieve immediately. In a matter of months and years, your body and health will change too.
Let’s say you change one habit at a time, one per month or so. You’ll have 12 new habits every year. Even if you only formed 6 habits that stuck and that you loved, you’d be amazed at what kind of changes those 6 habits would create in your life and fitness. If you did 6 habits a year for three years, you’d be transformed.
If you don’t have the patience to change one habit at a time, or focus on enjoying your new habits rather than getting quick results, you should stop reading now.

Which Habits to Choose

So let’s say you’re just starting out … what habit should you start with?
My favorite habit is daily exercise, but if you’re looking to lose weight probably the most important habits relate to eating.
In truth, which habit you choose first matters very little in the long run. You will be changing many little habits over the course of the next few years, and the order of those habits is unimportant. What matters is that you start.
Here are some habits that I’d start with, if you haven’t created them yet:
  • Exercise for just 5 minutes a day, adding 5 minutes per week. Make it a fun exercise.
  • Drink water instead of sweet drinks.
  • Replace fried foods with vegetables.
  • Eat fruit and nuts for snacks.
  • Eat lean protein, including plant proteins, instead of red meat.
  • Add strength exercises to your routine — pushups, pullups, squats, lunges.
  • If you’ve been doing all of the above for awhile, add some weights — compound lifts like squats, deadlifts, bench presses, dips, chinups, overhead presses and rows.
I’ve found that losing weight is simple: eat lots of veggies and plant or lean protein, reduce calories, do some kind of cardio, lift some weights to preserve muscle.
Gaining muscle is also fairly simple: eat lots of veggies and plant or lean protein, increase calories, do some kind of cardio to preserve heart health, lift heavy weights to grow muscle.
The weights should be compound lifts and heavy, the cardio should be enjoyable. Getting “toned”, btw, is just gaining muscle and losing the fat that covers the muscle, whether you’re a man or woman.

Forming the Habit

These are my top principles for forming habits. If you’ve read my writings on habits before, this won’t be new to you, but often it’s good to review these principles for things you’ve missed:
  1. Make it social. This is an incredibly powerful too. I highly, highly recommend Fitocracy to everyone, as it’s a way to make exercise fun and social (invite code: ZENHABITS). It turns fitness into a game, and you log your exercises, get points, encourage others, complete fitness quests, get props for workouts you’ve done. Other great ways to make your habit change social: report on your daily progress to friends and family through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or email, find a workout partner, get a coach, join a running group, join online fitness forums, join a class.
  2. Do one habit at a time only. People often skip this one because they think they are different than everyone else, but I’ve found this to be extremely effective. You increase your odds of success with just one habit at a time, for many reasons: habits are hard to form because they require lots of focus and energy, having many habits means you’re spreading yourself too thin, and if you can’t commit to one habit at a time, you’re not fully committed.
  3. Make it your top priority. People often put off fitness and diet stuff because they’re too busy, too tired, to stressed out by big projects or the holidays, etc. But in my experience, those are great reasons you *should* be exercising. So make your new diet or exercise habit one of your absolute top priorities for the day. If you don’t have time, you need to make time.
  4. Enjoy the habit. This is extremely important, and most people ignore it. If the habit is fun, you will stick with it longer. And even better, if you are enjoying it, you immediately win. You don’t need to wait for a bunch of pounds lost or other results — you get instant results because you’re enjoying the change. I find activities I enjoy, I join challenges or races to make exercise fun, I enjoy a conversation with a friend during a run, I eat healthy foods that are delicious (berries — yum!) and focus on savoring those foods. Focus on the enjoyment, and don’t make the habit change a big sacrifice.

Final Recommendations

Many people set fitness goals for the year. I’ve done it myself, but lately I’ve found that I can get fit without them. For one thing, when you set goals, they are often arbitrary, and so you are spending all your effort working towards a basically meaningless number. And then if you don’t achieve it, you feel like you failed, even if the number was arbitrary to start with.
You can create habits without goals — I define goals as a predefined outcome that you’re striving for, not activities that you just want to do. So is creating a habit a goal? It can be, or you can approach it with the attitude of “it doesn’t matter what the outcome of this habit change is, but I want to enjoy the change as I do it”.
So enjoy the habit change, in the moment, and don’t worry what the outcome of the activity is. The outcome matters very little, if you enjoy the journey.
The journey to fitness can have an infinite number of paths, and setting your path in advance by setting goals is limiting. Allow yourself to change course on a whim, without guilt of not achieving a goal, and you’ll find new paths you’d never have anticipated when you set out.
But the most important step of the journey is the first one. After that, the most important step is the one you’re presently taking. So take that step, and enjoy it.

Animal Friends and their 15th New Year’s Eve Rescue

Lost Dog Finds a Home on New Year's Eve Through Animal Friends

A team of volunteers from Animal Friends, a pet adoption and rescue center, helped many lost dogs find homes.

White American Pit Bull TerrierHer identity unknown, the aging Belgian Shepherd mix with a ragged coat and gray-tinged muzzle faced an uncertain future at the dawn of 2010. Like many lost dogs waiting in shelters around the country, her chances of finding a new home were running out. Or so it seemed, until something magical happened New Year’s Eve.
For its annual New Year’s Eve Rescue, a volunteer team from Animal Friends, a pet adoption/resource center in Pittsburgh, rushed in to save the gentle black dog — christened Glinda — plus 30 other unclaimed canines waiting for homes across western Pennsylvania.
Glinda and the others were whisked off to Animal Friends and given health checks, baths, and behavioral evaluations before moving into comfortable kennels to await adoption and a new life.
It took a while, but Glinda’s advanced age was trumped by her sunny disposition. “Glinda was very sweet, so we used her as part of our pet-assisted therapy program,” says Jolene Miklas, Animal Friends’ director of communications. Then one day a lonely retiree who had recently lost both her boyfriend and beloved old dog stopped by. “Kathy met Glinda, fell in love, and now they’re inseparable,” she says. “You hear this phrase all the time in rescue, ‘Who rescued whom?’ Well, we really feel that way about Kathy and Glinda.” 
Founded in 1943, Animal Friends started with one office, one phone, and a few volunteers committed to finding homes for pets left homeless when their soldier-owners shipped off to World War II. Today the shelter has grown into an impressive 30,000-square-foot facility set on 13 acres, which encompasses a one mile dog-walking trail and off-leash dog park. “We have a classroom and library for kids to come learn about animals, and we host training and behavior classes and even BYOD (bring your own dog) wine tasting,” Miklas says. “We’re really a shelter and beyond.”  
In addition to rescuing dogs, the annual New Year’s Rescue event aims to bring attention to the importance of outfitting dogs with ID tags, licenses, and registered microchips. “These are all lost pets that have no way to get back to their owners,” says Miklas, who sadly notes some of the dogs sport collars or bandanas when found, but no ID. If they had tags they would most likely be returned to their homes, she says.
To learn more about Animal Friends and their 15th New Year’s Eve Rescue (set for Dec. 30 due to shelter closures on the 31st), visit
— C.L.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Lion, tiger and bear, oh my!

An unlikely friendship among 3 of the planet's top predators will leave you wondering, 'Why can't we all just get along?'

By Laura MossMon, Oct 24 2011 at 12:56 PM EST
Shere Khan, Leo and Baloo relax in their clubhouse at Noah’s Ark animal rescue center. 
BEST BUDS: Shere Khan, Leo and Baloo relax in their clubhouse at Noah’s Ark animal rescue center. (Photo: lemur baby/flickr)
Leo the lion, Shere Khan the tiger and Baloo the bear were found together as cubs during a police raid of a drug baron’s home in Atlanta where they were kept as status symbols. When the young trio moved to Noah’s Ark rescue center in Locust Grove, Ga., zookeepers decided to keep them together.
"We could have separated them, but since they came as a kind of family, the zoo decided to keep them together," Diane Smith, assistant director of the Noah's Ark zoo, told The Telegraph in 2009.
Although these predators — the 1,000-pound bear, 350-pound lion and 350-pound tiger — have the power to kill each other, they’re gentle giants who grew up together and treat each other as brothers. They, lounge, wrestle and play together, and the zoo's co-founders say the animals are oblivious to the fact that they aren’t natural companions.
"It is wonderful and magical to see a giant American black bear put his arm around a Bengal tiger and then to see the tiger nuzzle up to the bear like a domestic cat,” Smith said.
Shere Khan, Baloo and Leo still live and play together today at the animal rescue center, and visitors can observe the creatures, who live in a specially designed habitat with their very own “clubhouse.” Check out this video to see how well the unusual threesome get along.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

zen habits: The Essential Zen Habits of 2011

Image Detail
Post written by:
 Leo Babauta.

It has been a year of contentment for me, and Zen Habits.

Zen Habits has just finished its 5th year of existence, and every year has been better than the last. This year has been no exception.
Zen Habits grew from 200,000 to more than 230,000 subscribers, had more than 12 million unique visitors, and was named by TIME magazine as one of the Top 50 websites in the world.
But beyond those numbers, it was an amazing year for me, personally and professionally:

I did this mostly without goals, without copyright, and with contentment.
Most of all, I have to thank you, my dear readers. You have made my job fun, my work rewarding, and my life full of joy. Thank you for everything.

The Best Zen Habits Posts of 2011

Without further ado, these were the best posts from Zen Habits in 2011, as judged by me:

And more

For more best of Zen Habits:

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Christmas Story about an Amazing Friendship

Photography taken from the movie, Eight Below.  Click on the following:

White Alaskan Husky

"It often happens that a man is more humanely related to a dog than to any human being." 

Author & Poet,
Henry David Thoreau
Secret Scrolls Newsletter Logo
A Secret Scrolls message from Rhonda Byrne
Creator of The Secret and The Power 

From The Secret Daily Teachings
It is possible to be happy and joyful most of the time. You just have to look at little children and see their natural joy. You may say that little children are free and don't have anything to worry about, but you are free too! You are free to choose worry or to choose joy, and whatever you choose will attract exactly that. Worry attracts more worry. Joy attracts more joy.
May the joy be with you,

Rhonda Byrne
The Secret... bringing joy to billions
A Secret Scrolls message from Rhonda Byrne
Creator of The Secret and The Power 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Secret Rule of Changing Anything

Post written by Leo Babauta.
I’ve learned a lot about changing habits over the years, and have taught thousands of people how to do it.
The hardest habits to change, by far, are the ones people can’t seem to control. They want to change, but can’t seem to find the “willpower” (a term I don’t believe in).
For me, some of the things that seemed out of my control: smoking, eating junk food, overeating during social occasions, procrastination, anger, patience, negative thoughts.
I learned one little secret that allowed me to change it all:
When you are aware, you can change it.
OK, don’t roll your eyes and stop reading yet. That secret might seem obvious to some, or too simplistic. So let’s go a bit deeper.

When we have urges to eat something we know is bad for us, we often give in. But is it that simple? The truth is that our mind is actually rationalizing why we should just eat that cake, why it’s too hard to not eat it, why it isn’t that bad to eat it. It asks why we’re putting ourselves through pain, why can’t we let ourselves just live, and don’t we deserve that treat?

All of this happens without our noticing, usually. It’s quiet, in the background of our consciousness, but it’s there. And it’s incredibly powerful. It’s even more powerful when we’re not aware it’s happening.
It beats us all the time — not just with eating, but with anything we try to do and end up quitting, caving in, doing it despite our best efforts.
How can we defeat this powerful force — our own mind?
Awareness is the key. It’s the start.
1. Start by becoming aware. Become an observer. Start listening to your self talk, observe what your mind does. Pay attention. It’s happening all the time. Meditation helps with this. I also learned through running — by not taking along an iPod, I run in silence, and have nothing to do but watch nature and listen to my mind.
2. Don’t act. Your mind will urge you to eat that cake (“Just a bite!”) or smoke that cigarette or stop running or procrastinate. Listen to what your mind is saying, but don’t act on those instructions. Just sit still (mentally) and watch and listen.
3. Let it pass. The urge to smoke, eat, procrastinate, or quit running … it will pass. It’s temporary. Usually it only lasts a minute or two. Breathe, and let it pass.
4. Beat the rationalizations. You can actively argue with your mind. When it says, “One little bite won’t hurt!”, you should point to your gut and say, “Yeah, that’s what you said all those other times, and now I’m fat!” When it says, “Why are you putting yourself through this pain?”, you should say, “It’s painful to be unhealthy, and it’s only painful to avoid the cake if you look at it as a sacrifice — instead, it can be a joy to embrace healthy and delicious foods, and fitness!”
There are lots of times when “willpower” fails us. These are the times we need to become aware of our minds.
When we are aware, we can change it. This is a small secret, but it’s life changing. It changed my life, because I can now change anything. I watch, and I wait, and I beat it. You can too.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Help Pets in Animal Shelters

Dogs and Cats Need Donations of Pet Supplies

Help Pets in Animal Shelters
Animal shelters, humane societies and rescue organizations are always in need of pet supplies and count on the generosity of pet loving people to donate them. Dogs, cats, puppies and kittens who’ve been rescued or abandoned are often frightened and need comfort pet supplies like blankets, toys and treats to help them through this stressful time.
Animal shelters need donations of pet supplies year-round, but their need is the greatest during the holidays. This is when they seem to have more pets, while pet adoptions and donations tend to decline. That’s why it’s up to the people who really care about animals to be especially generous with donations to animal shelters at this time of year.
Since your pet is such an important part of your family, it would be fun to make a donation in your pet’s name. After all, a pet with so much love from you must have some love to share!
Here are some easy ways to help shelter dogs and cats:
Best Friends Pet Care has an "Angel Tree" which is a wish list from local shelters. If you visit one of their stores, you can select an ornament, purchase an item and they’ll deliver it to one of the shelters.
PetSmart Charities has a huge range of giving opportunities to support their wide range of animal rescue and care efforts. You can donate easily online. works tirelessly to find homes for shelter cats and dogs. Go to their site and you can find animal shelters and rescue groups in your community. Find one near you and drop off some goodies!
Recognizing the importance of the work pet rescuers do to help protect homeless pets, Rally to Rescue® is committed to doing its part to help in the mission. Rally to Rescue® helps rescue organizations across the country give rescued pets the nutrition and care they need and the loving homes they deserve. See how you can help!
Another simple way to help shelter dogs and cats is to go to The Animal Rescue Site and click a button. The sponsors of the page donate cash for every click. What could be easier?
More articles on helping shelter cats and dogs
Pet Charity Gift Shops
Pet Care Packages

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Excerpted from "The Healing Power of Pets by Dr. Marty Becker

"  Pets are like us and yet other than us.  In our symbiosis, we've found that pets are often more humane than humans reflecting the kindest, best impulses of humanity.  Pets don't lie or cheat, they have to-die-for loyalty, and then love unconditionally.  While these attributes are representative of the rank and file of the pet world, the same can be said for too few humans."

"Through our pets we have a practical, trusted, routine way to relate to nature, to break out of the shackles of mankind and its creations.  This relationship, this special affection connection, the Bond, gives us an unparalleled sense of unity with nature; it tells us that we aren't above it but part of it.  Our dogs and cats represent an intimate and enduring look at another mammalian mind and spirit and serve as a thread connecting us back to the expanse of nature.  Embedded in the Bond to life is simple, surefire, healing power."

  "  Pets are totems of the values we hold dear and a conduit to our historic connections between humans and nature.  They help cultivate the awareness that we are not alone in this world, but united to all living things.  They take us outside of ourselves and reacquaint us with the world we live in.  Our need for each other, which is part spiritual, part visceral, helps keep us happy and healthy."


An Unlikely Mother

MNN - Mother Nature Network - Envrionmental News

An unlikely mother

Rejected by one mother and left orphaned by another, an adorable tiger cub finally finds a mother in a 1-year-old dog.

By Laura MossMon, Dec 12 2011 at 1:16 PM EST

Bessi the dachshund with tiger cub at Stroehen Zoo
Photo: Snapshot from video
This tiger cub, which was born at Germany’s Stroehen Zoo in 2009, experienced tragedy at a very young age when it lost not one, but two mother figures. The female cub was rejected by its mother shortly after birth, but it was soon adopted by Monster, a 9-year-old wirehaired dachshund that belonged to the zoo’s owner, Almuth Ismer.
Monster took to the cub instantly, showing great affection for the baby tiger that was twice his size. Unfortunately, Monster died unexpectedly and the cub was left an orphan once again.
Luckily, a month after Monster’s death, his 1-year-old daughter, Bessi, took over his parenting duties. Zookeepers say Bessi completely “fell in love” with the cub and became its guardian. While it’s not uncommon for dogs to adopt and raise animals of other species, it is unusual for a dog as young as Bessi to develop maternal instincts.
Check out these heartwarming photos of Bessi the caring canine and her adopted feline daughter.
Photos: Splash

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays

Happy Holidays from Natural Solutions 

The holidays are in full swing, and we all know what that means—food, family, friends, fun… and did we mention food? Although most of our holiday traditions are centered around good eats, you don’t have to overindulge and you can make better food choices—you just have to know what to pick. And, even if you do eat too much, we can help you establish some healthy New Year’s resolutions to get back on track.

Sweet Tidings
Walk into Mani’s, a popular Los Angeles bakery, and the chocolate-filled cookies, rich brownies, and cakes might have you mentally kissing your healthy eating habits good-bye. But stick around long enough and you’ll discover that the delicious-looking sweets lining the cases in front of you don’t have a bit of refined sugar in them. Instead, they’re made with molasses, agave nectar, fruit juice concentrate, and other all-natural sugar substitutes. What’s more, Mani Niall, the bakery’s founder and author of Sweet! (Perseus Books, 2008) maintains that these natural sweeteners are healthy and easy ingredients to use when you’re baking. You can avoid refined sugar and still indulge with these all-natural alternatives.
Good Food—Healthy Holiday Parties Stringing up multicolored lights and decorating the house for the holidays just puts me in a good mood. I guess that’s because I like throwing parties and having the chance to cook for friends and family. We all have a lot to be thankful for, and there’s nothing better than good food and good conversation to underscore that theme. As much as I love to concoct all kinds of delicacies in my kitchen though, it’s getting trickier and trickier to plan these party menus. Lately, everyone seems to be on a different food wavelength. Join Maureen Callahan as she shares how she serves good food at her holiday parties for everyone—even those with “special diets.”

Achieve Your New Year’s Health Goals Every January 1, it’s the same deal. I’m eager to write out a resolution list and get started on my goals, because this year I will drop 10 pounds, stress less, save more money, and be the most giving person I can be. Fast-forward a few weeks, or even several days: That list is now located under a mountain of papers on my desk, and I’m back to my same old routine of going to costly, caloric happy hours with friends, rushing through workouts, and stressing over deadlines. Sticking to your goals isn’t easy. Get ideas on how better to achieve your goals for the New Year here!

Cranberry Almond Bread Pudding
Nothing screams the holidays louder than a good dessert, which is why you should try this recipe for an amazing bread pudding! Enjoy!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Some Really Good Advice and it won't cost you a penny.

Sit quietly for at least 10 minutes every day.

Upon arising in the morning, one must immediately say, "My goal today is...."

Listen to quality music every day.  This is real nourishment for the soul.

Live with the 3 Es -
Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy

Play more games than last year.

Look at the sky at least once a day, appreciating the majesty of the world that surrounds us.

Eat more foods that come from trees and plants.  Eat fewer manufactured foods.
Eat berries and nuts, drink green tea, drink plenty of water and a glass of wine each day.  Toast something beautiful in life and, if possible, in the company of a loved one.

Read more books than last year.

Try to make at least three people laugh everyday.

Don't spend your precious time immersed in rumors, things from the past, negative thoughts, negative people or things beyond your control.  Life is too short!  It is better to invest your energy in the positive present and among positive people.

Life is a school, and we are here to learn.  Problems are lessons that come and go.  What we learn from them will serve us for the rest of our lives.

Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a beggar.

Eliminate clutter in the home, the car, and the office.

Let a new energy enter your life.

Smile and laugh more often.

Dream more while awake.

Do not let an opportunity pass to hug a friend.

Life is too short to waste time hating someone.

Don't take yourself so seriously.  Nobody else does.

It is not necessary to win every argument.

Make peace with your past, so as not to ruin your present.

Don't compare your life with others.  You have no idea of the highways they have traveled during their lives.

Nobody is responsible for your happiness, except yourself.

Remember well that we have no control over what happens to us, but only what we do.

Learn something new every day.

What others think of us is really none of our business.

Appreciate your body, and its marvels.

Whether the situation is good or bad, it will change.  Nothing stays the same!

Work will not take care of us when we are sick.  Our friends will.  Stay in contact with them.

Reject everything that is not useful, amusing, or beautiful.

Don't lose time.  We already have all the "things" we need.

The best is yet to come.

Nothing is as important as sitting, standing, getting dressed and helping others.

Have fantastic sex, always in harmony with the other person.

Phone your family regularly, and tell them "Hi, I was thinking of you".

Each day, before going to sleep, say:  I am thankful for ________________.
Today, I succeeded in _____________________.

Remember that we have too much that is good to be stressed out.

Enjoy the voyage.

Life is beautiful.  We must appreciate it as much as possible.

Have a wonderful journey, my dear friend.

Monday, December 19, 2011

A Secret Scrolls message from Rhonda Byrne

Secret Scrolls Newsletter Logo
Creator of The Secret and The Power 

From The Secret Daily Teachings
It is not enough to know the principles in The Secret - you must DO them, unceasingly, every single day. You must LIVE the principles. Step by step you will become the master of your thoughts and feelings, and the master of your life.
There is nothing more important than this, because your whole future life relies on you.
May the joy be with you,

Rhonda Byrne
The Secret... bringing joy to billions

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Touching Story of Jenny & Shirley

Jenny & Shirley were female Elephants at the same circus when Jenny was a calf, & Shirley was in her twenty's.
The two lived one winter together, but then were separated twenty-two years ago. 
It's very rare for elephants to display this kind of emotion in captivity, & it's probably the first time such a thing
has been documented on film. Just remarkable! And absolutely worth the watch...Click on the following:
Elephants Reunited After 20 Years
In 2000, The Urban Elephant brought viewers the touching story of Shirley and Jenny, two crippled elephants reunited at The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee after a 22-year separation. The bonding was immediate, intense and unforgettable between the two former circus elephants. But long after the cameras were turned off, the wondrous moments would continue.

The two were inseparable. Shirley quickly assumed the role of surrogate mother to Jenny, who, though now an adult, had been a baby when they first met at the circus. Their bond was so intense, it would forever change life at the sanctuary. As Carol Buckley, Executive Director of the Sanctuary describes it, 'that was the love that started our elephant family.' "After Shirley's arrival, elephants who had previously been companions and friends were now sisters and aunts in the mother and daughter relationship of Shirley and Jenny. They gave the sanctuary its future," says Carol. These strong bonds would soon be needed. Sadly, on October 17, 2006, ten years after arriving at the sanctuary, Jenny died.

Jenny came to the sanctuary quite ill. She had scars and other traces of misuse and abuse from her past as a circus elephant. She had been exposed to tuberculosis. And due to an attack by a bull elephant before coming to the sanctuary, Jenny had a crippled back leg. Her caregivers suspect the leg harbored a hidden bacterial infection that flared up last year.

Carol says the bond between Shirley and Jenny was never more touching than in the last days of Jenny's life.Carol says the bond between Shirley and Jenny was never more touching than in the last days of Jenny's life. "The day before she died, Jenny had been down and she wouldn't get up. Shirley stood by her and insisted that Jenny get up. Jenny just couldn't get up. Then Jenny stood up but she had to lean on Shirley to keep up. If you looked at Shirley's face, you could see that she knew that Jenny was dying. Jenny dropped to the ground and Shirley walked into the woods."

Jenny was on her deathbed when Shirley walked to the woods but she would give Carol and the sanctuary caregivers the privilege of one last incredible glimpse into the world of elephants before she died. "After Shirley left, Jenny started to make this rumbling noise. With each exhalation, she would rumble. It was almost like a singing. As Jenny did this, Bunny and Tara (two sanctuary elephants) came running over. We thought that was it and she was going to die. And then Bunny and Tara started trumpeting and rumbling. At a certain point, I turned to Scott (Director of The Elephant Sanctuary) and I asked him how long this was going on. He said 58 minutes! Well, she continued for another two hours. Jenny lived through the night and was even perky and silly. She passed in the morning. And when she died, she did a vocalization that I had never heard. It was like a trumpet. It was very low and got quieter and quieter. She passed very peacefully without straining or exerting herself. To experience this ritual was amazing. I had never seen anything like it."

Shirley stayed in the woods until Jenny passed. She didn't eat for two days. "It was very hard and especially hard on Shirley. Shirley's whole life was about taking care of baby Jenny. It was like a mom losing her baby."

Fortunately, Shirley has had some extended family members to lean on during the sad times. Shirley is very close with an elephant named Bunny -- the two are like sisters. Bunny arrived to the sanctuary just two months after Shirley and they bonded instantly.

Carol says Jenny's death was difficult for the elephants but they are recovering. The healing process may have been sped up by a new elephant, Misty, who has come in from a different area of the sanctuary. "She's a very happy creature. She loves all elephants. She just runs around. And they love her. She's a ball of happy energy."

For more information on Shirley and Jenny, please visit the Elephant Sanctuary Web site at