Books, Enlighten Me

The Hidden Life of Trees

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Photo by Jeremy Holden on Unsplash

 

Trees are Socialists.

I’ve only read about 10% of The Hidden Life of Trees, but that’s the gist from someone I suspect is also a socialist…me.

The book discusses one scientific study after another conducted on trees, and one such study was about the rate of photosynthesis and sugar content/per leaf. This is the research that has me convinced trees are socialists…but as I read on, there’s more and more validation for that conclusion.

The Institute for Environmental Research at RWTH Aachen conducted their photosynthesis research in an “undisturbed beech forest” and what they discovered is that whether a tree is thick or thin, weak or strong, the rate of photosynthesis in a stand of trees is equal.

Underground, tree roots are communicating with each other through fungi! When a tree is ill or injured or weak, the other trees help out by lending it sugar to keep the process of photosynthesis active. It amazes me that trees communicate…through their root system…through their leaves…underground…in the canopy…silently…electrically…through sound waves…through silence.

If that doesn’t blow your mind, then you’re not paying attention…or you paid better attention during biology class than I did and this isn’t new to you at all!

So, how did I leap from photosynthesis to socialistic?

Easy…despite common misconceptions, socialism is not about government domination, dictatorships, giving up wealth. Socialism is about ‘equalizing distribution’…in economic terms this doesn’t mean that you can’t be wealthy, it just means that the government makes sure you’re more like Bill and Melinda Gates; less like Ebenezer Scrooge.

You can still live in a big mansion if you’re a socialist. You can still own a business and make tons of money. You just also share your obscene profits with the guys and gals cleaning your toilets and actually doing the jobs that make you the money.

Canada is the most familiar socialist country to Americans. Most of us have been there to look at the falls, gamble, drink wine, or experience The Phantom of the Opera. 

I love that scientists are proving the socialistic nature of nature. It might give socialism a nicer rep.

It’s comforting to think that trees take care of each other the way we might take care of a sick parent. To me, at least. Maybe to Bernie Sanders too.

And Justin Trudeau.

And Merka Angela.

And any American currently on/hoping to someday be on Social Security, Medicare, or Medicaid.

And … well…my Dad.

But don’t take my word for the Forest Socialist idea. Directly from the book:

Their enormous networks act as gigantic redistribution mechanisms. It’s a bit like the way social security systems operate to ensure individual members of society don’t fall too far behind. 

3 pages later:

This is because a tree can only be as strong as the forest that surrounds it. 

Yep…the wisdom of Nature!

Comments? I’d love to hear them!

Books, Enlighten Me

Neil is my Hero

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Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

Neil DeGrasse Tyson is my hero…today. I love watching him on talk shows, and on documentaries. And now, I love listening to him read his newest book: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry.

He’s my hero of the day because he is passionate about the universe and within that passion, he has honed wisdom about life.

In the final chapter of the book, he explains why it’s so important to have a cosmic perspective of life. It’s a new way of stating what I’ve tried to do for most of my life: look at the bigger picture.

When you do that, you pay attention to more than how your husband irritates you when he interrupts you in mid-sentence and also remember how he put his day on hold to rescue you from a flat tire, built a pottery studio in your basement, supports your dream of being a writer.

When you have a cosmic perspective, you pay attention to more than the construction that has narrowed the highway to one lane and also notice the number of construction workers who can support their families, the potholes that will disappear, the beauty of the flowers in the new median strip or the convenience of that larger water pipe being buried.

When you have a cosmic perspective, you pay attention to more than the political labels and branding and notice how that candidate’s votes impacted our earth, took care of those with mental or physical illnesses, help the less fortunate, protect our young, defuse violence, care about the other people with whom we share this world.

The final chapter had me thinking about connection…in a broader John Donne “No Man is an Island” sort of way, because none of us are an island. Everything I do impacts you in some way…some day…maybe today. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe in 10 years when you meet my former student who’s now a doctor in the hospital where you are being treated. Will you benefit from the kindnesses I may have shown her or suffer from the harsh way I judged her? What would you rather experience?

Or maybe tomorrow, you’ll ask one of my children for help and they’ll respond out of the lessons they learned in MY home about looking out for number one…or respond out of the lessons they learned about how we’re all connected and all responsible for the way we treat each other.  Which would you prefer?

But don’t just skip to the last chapter of Neil’s book…can I call him Neil? I don’t think he’d mind. 🙂

If you skip to the last chapter, you’ll miss out on the reason he says “Einstein was a badass.”

And you’ll miss the tongue-in-cheek explanation that ends with the idea we may be descendants of Martians! Don’t want to miss that, do you?

If you’ve read the book, or are currently reading the book, leave your comments. Let’s talk about the Cosmos like only those in the “Neil is our Hero” fan club can!

 

 

Books

Great-Reads and Listens For The Weekend

Because why waste your time reading or listening to anything less than great?

Here’s one I’m reading now with a group of friends at the Columbus Center for Spiritual Living where I worship. I think you’d enjoy reading this book if you want to re-map your brain to lean toward happiness instead of negativity.

I’m not calling you negative…I’m just saying that we’re all predisposed for it. All of us! Even Pollyanna!

It’s a good read with a lot of solid commonsense ideas with scientific background…which many of us like to have so we can misquote it to our friends when we recommend that they read this book.

Remember, I am an Amazon Associate which means if you click and buy here…you’re helping a not-starving writer fund her addiction to blogging!

As far as the listening portion of this post goes…let’s stick with our theme of happiness, okay? And who’s the happiness guru-ess? That’s right, Gretchen Rubin!

I do not listen to Gretchen religiously, but I do think her podcast is light, filled with talk that spurs my own thinking about how I define happiness for myself, and entertaining.

Here’s a link to Gretchen’s podcast, but if you use a different platform for your podcasts, just put the name in that app to pull it up.

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I won’t even claim to know anything about platforms and apps and all things technical that allow you to listen…very much like my inability to tell you how Netflix works…only that I push a button on my remote and I’m HAPPIER!!! Wanna know what I’m binge-watching this weekend?

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The Story of God with Morgan Freeman 

Books, Enlighten Me, The Write Life, Write Your Life, Writing Business, Writing life

Alexander McCall Smith

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Your first sentence is the most important thing you’ll write because it might be the only one that anyone reads.

So says Alexander McCall Smith, author of one of my favorite series, //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400034779&asins=1400034779&linkId=bc6631b913342eaff914fb2ee5bd8fda&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066C0&bg_color=FFFFFF“>The #1 Ladies Detective Agency,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400079446&asins=1400079446&linkId=b8d2810df755effcdc44bbf2edb12244&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>44 Scotland Street Series,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400077087&asins=1400077087&linkId=f1e886a36d86868808ae5157e249c19d&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Professor Dr. von Igelfeld series,

AND the //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1400077095&asins=1400077095&linkId=cd635f39cf172cf14dcc5f95feb47fde&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Isabel Dalhousie series,

AND a crate full of stand-alone //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=tf_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=vickinoll-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=1101972831&asins=1101972831&linkId=e42836ef3815c76b29cded06ddcb5f69&show_border=false&link_opens_in_new_window=false&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>novels,

AND short stories, AND… hmmm.

You get the idea…this guy is prolific and his work isn’t formulaic or repetitive. His characters are dynamic and chock full of contradictions and quirks just like the rest of humankind.

I got to listen to him talk about his work, his life and his travels for 45 minutes today at an event hosted by the Westerville Public Library. Walking on stage in his traditional tartan kilt, Einstein hair, and rhinestoned reading glasses, he began his talk with the subject of culture and etiquette.

Americans, he says, have issues with etiquette but they all seem to revolve around when it’s okay to wear white shoes.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Other things he’s picked up in his studies of culture include that Californians bond over stories of their health challenges, and German professors use their doctorate in their titles, making a professor with a double doctorate, Professor Dr. Dr.; his wife Frau Professor Dr. Dr. . Of course there’s a complexity if the wife has her own doctorate. Then she’s addressed as Dr. Frau Professor Dr. Dr.

In a talk sprinkled with such humor, I was enlightened, making my way to the highest level of nirvana in a short 45 minutes. Buddha had the 8-fold path. Alexander McCall’s Smith (AMS) has the UK Tube that employs, I believe, two major rails for a high-speed trip to self-actualization.

RAil # 1 on the AMS Path: Everything is what you want it to be. I can’t count how many times he talked about events gone awry that always led to something positive and funny. These same circumstances could bring most of us to tears or tantrums. The moral of the story is that everything that happens in our lives will be sad if you want it to be; joyous if that’s what you’re after; funny if you look for moments to laugh.

The trick is to figure out what we want more of in our lives and look for that in every situation…every single one.

Rail #2 on the AMS Path: People are kind when we are kind. Throughout his talk, Alexander McCall Smith spoke about living in or visiting different countries and how kind the people were there: Botswana, Italy, Scandinavia, Scotland, Muncie Indiana. Yes…Muncie. I’m sure that he’d receive kindness from the same stranger who cut in front of you in the Starbucks line because he exudes a very strong kindness-aura. You can’t help but feel better about the world when you’re in the same room with AMS.

I hope his kindness, nothing-is-serious energy rubbed off on me when he shook my hand. I could stand to be more kind, to take myself less seriously, and to exude so much warmth that I could wear a kilt on a cold November day in Ohio.

 

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And, BTW, I’ve become an Amazon Associate, so if you click through my book links and purchase any of these from Amazon, I will make a commission from your purchase at absolutely no additional cost to you. I am using this commission to defray the costs of maintaining my website. 

Books, Just Funny, The Write Life, Writing life

Kondo-ing

No, that isn’t a typo. I’m referring to her.

download-6.jpgThis is Marie Kondo, the woman who wrote this.

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I know. You’ve already read it. Everyone has already read it…de-cluttered their homes and changed their lives from “Hoarders” to “The Andy Griffith Show”… which means you whistle a lot and go fishing. You meditate every morning and evening and you practice Yoga in the hall outside your office.

  • You’re organized.
  • You’re peaceful.
  • Your hair is always perfect.
  • Your kids’ bedrooms are clean.
  • There are no dirty dishes stacked under your bed.
  • Your dog has no need to drink out of the toilet because his water dish is ALWAYS full.
  • You’re confident enough to have shelves in your kitchen instead of cabinets…with cabinet doors to hide the mess.

I wish I could say the same about me, but I can’t. I didn’t read the book. I got the gist of it from Gretchen Rubin’s podcast ‘Happier’ and about 10,000 talk shows a few years ago. I thought it was an interesting concept that I could definitely subscribe to…if it doesn’t give me joy, isn’t necessary, or useful, throw it out.

I thought about throwing him out, but he’s a pretty good guy overall and he can’t help it he doesn’t bring me joy anymore.

Come to think of it, I don’t want him to BRING me Joy; I want to find her myself. That makes it much more Joyful! You know? Joy is in the journey, don’t you think?

But I digress. I was talking about cleaning, emptying my house of all those things that don’t serve any purpose anymore.

Then I started thinking about my life’s work and I realized that’s what I’ve always tried to do for people! Help them get rid of the thoughts and beliefs and patterns that no longer bring them joy, or are useful, or necessary.  I began to feel pretty proud of myself for picking that particular line of work way, way before Marie Kondo thought of it.

Self-pride doesn’t really keep you busy very long. I got bored and I had to think of something to write in my post!

I looked around my office for inspiration. There is a lot of stuff in here…my little Teddy Bear from the Nasa Museum in Dayton…Nasa Ted, I call him. I love him. He brings me joy just to look at him. He’s a keeper.

There are so many books that there are stacks UNDER my desk that I accidentally kick over when I’m on a writing roll and excitedly start swinging my legs. I could get rid of those, but get rid of The Cracker Queen? Funny Side Up? Any of the six Natalie Goldberg books I own? NO THANK YOU!  They stay.

My meditation bench with the only singing bowl I own and some pottery I made that actually turned out and an embroidered cloth that an exchange student from Morocco gave me and a tie-dyed kitchen towel that one of my closest friends gave me and the Wizard of Oz snow globe, movie poster, Dorothy postage stamp…Oh MY!

My office is a mess! I need to Kondo it, but where would I start? Everything in here brings me joy, inspiration, comfort. Marie would tell me to keep it.  I’m sure she would.

I look around again trying to figure out where I can start Kondo-ing and realize that it isn’t at all that my office is too cluttered; it’s that my office is too small! It’s the house’s fault, not mine!

Once I figured that out, the guilt flew out the window into the stormy Ohio sky and I sat down to write this post because when I have flashes of inspiration like this…well…I just have to share them!

You’re Welcome!

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Books, Enlighten Me

Improving your EQ

Improving your EQ is relatively simple, but profoundly difficult and that’s because you’re wading across the tide…not against the tide which can knock you on your…rear.

You’re making progress, but it’s taking grit, muscle, flexibility…

Every single emotional response we have gives us information. Usually, we choose to ignore that information by:

  • swallowing our feelings along with a piece of chocolate cake, glass of wine or dark chocolate covered almond…or is that just me?
  • regurgitating our feelings with slammed doors, raised voices, silence and isolation…also, just me?

Here’s a better way that will increase your EQ points, improve relationships with others and help you think better of yourself, doggoneit!

First…the event…whatever it is…triggers an emotional response which lasts approximately SIX SECONDS!

Instead of swallowing or regurgitating, breathe from the bottom of your belly filling your lungs, holding for a count of 3, then releasing slowly through your mouth.

Fill in the blanks: When this happened, I immediately felt _________.  My first thought about me is that ______________. When I think this thought, I feel (repeat your emotion). Breathe again as you repeat this in your mind…do you feel its truth in your body’s response?

OKAY! Good Job! You just sat with your feelings and identified the ROOT CAUSE of your feeling…your thoughts! Now you can choose to ACT instead of REACT.

Don’t you feel smarter already?

Let me know if you have other methods you use to improve your EQ!

If you’re interested in learning more tips and techniques that will improve your relationships, decisions and overall happiness, you might be interested in:

  • using the free resources I’ve provided at EmpowerU
  • contacting me for private coaching
  • stay tuned for my upcoming E-Book: Navigating By Heart.