Smoke Free!

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I gave up smoking 2 weeks ago. I had tried before but always ended up starting again to save my family from the withdrawal emotions. It would have been easier to do if I could have been alone for a few weeks, but this time I found a sure-fire way to quit; quit when you’re sick. It’s not so hard to quit when you simply are too sick to even want to smoke. By the time I was feeling better the urge to smoke had passed. I hope this will help others who also want to quit but have a hard time. It might not work for everyone but it’s worth a try. Don’t stress it, just wait until you’re sick!

What Has Shaped Your Life?

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I am interested in learning more about how other people’s lives have shaped them. What defines you, as you? Religion, culture, life experiences, location, choices (good and bad), influences, anything that has brought you to be the person you are today. No matter who you are or where you are in the world, I would like to hear your stories and learn from you. I only ask that we please respect the people and stories posted here (assuming people post), everyone has a right to share their story, and we might just learn something we didn’t know before.

What has shaped your lives? Post away in the comment section.

Think For Yourselves And Succeed Where Others Fail

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Who is to blame for all the violence in America today, the people, the media, or the leaders? Definitely the people who do the violent acts, their guilt is evident. But who is responsible for the people? Ah, the leaders. We can’t always know the effects our words will have on others, but sometimes we can. Hateful words breed hate. A leader should be above hate. When the leaders who are looked up to and relied on for sound judgement, spew words that divide and incite anger, the end result is violence.

Leaders don’t come out and say, “Hurt, oppress, and kill people.” But darned if that’s not what is happening. Leaders (by way of the media) are instilling fear and hate in the people. Did the latest abortion clinic gunmen really think he was saving any lives by taking lives? Were the people at the Donald Trump rally really so threatened by one black man voicing his opinion? Do white supremacists really think they are making America safer by harassing, oppressing, and harming black people? Do Christians really think every Muslim is out to harm them? Do Muslims really think every Christian is against them? Do mass shooters (or anyone for that matter) really think that they have a right to take the lives of people who they don’t like, or disagree with? But these are the impressions being given by the media and our leaders. Words of hatred lead to violence.

People aren’t using their brains. They hear words of division and fall into a state of fear and hatred. Resorting to violence instead of using their minds and thinking for themselves. Don’t let the media tell you how to think. Don’t let leaders with their own agendas influence your decisions. Don’t let other people persuade you to do something against your conscience. If you have to harm another, it is wrong. It is as simple as that. No amount of reasoning will make it right. If violence is your answer, you are the problem.

Now, us regular people need to get our acts together, but our leaders do too. Instead of bickering back and forth over the issues that divide us, leaders should be working together to find acceptable solutions for the benefit of our citizens. Name calling, fear mongering, slander, and straight up hate will solve nothing. In fact it worsens it, and leads to more division and violence. Set an example leaders, be the role models that you should be.

IDOPAS- International Day of Peace and Safety

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What if for one day, just one day, everyone stopped fighting? What if we took a day for nothing but peace and safety? Not a holiday, but a day devoted to the goal that transcends all barriers between us. We all want peace and safety. We don’t all agree on the best way to achieve it, but it is still the end goal.

Enough shootings, enough bombings, enough murders, enough racism, enough war, and enough harm. Just stop. Even if for just one day, for the name of peace. Prove you can conquer it for a day. One day of being peaceful in the name of peace, is greater than all the previous days combined of doing harm in the name of peace. Help each other out. Be kind to strangers. Control your anger, harm no one. Speak only kind words. Do not participate in aggressive actions. From the least of us to the greatest. From leaders to the common person. From soldiers to civilians. In all nations and corners of the Earth, just stop.

You don’t have to love each other. You don’t have to agree with each other. You need only for one day have consideration for each other, in the name of peace. One day to show that we are not so different from each other, that we all share the goal of peace and safety. 364 days a year we have violence and hate, we should set aside for ourselves one day to be a beacon of what we strive for, amidst all the collective failures of the world.

We would do well to live every day like this day. But in a world where no day is like this, we must start somewhere. This day is not for others, it is for ourselves. Each and every one of us. We seek peace and safety, so let us make peace and safety. I name February 3, 2016, as the International Day of Peace and Safety, known henceforth as IDOPAS. Feb. 3, was chosen because it is 2 months from now, giving us all plenty of time to spread the word. So spread the word, everyone, whoever and wherever you are. On Feb. 3, take it upon yourselves to cause no harm, this is your day. If someone harms you, forgive them. If harsh words are spoken, ignore them. Be responsible for you on this day. Don’t put your life in danger, but as much as it is in you to forgive and ignore, do so, and harm no one. Maybe IDOPAS won’t catch on. Maybe it will. One thing is certain, one person will make a difference. Is that person you? Remember your day.

Shadows Of Beauty

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A walk through the park in town, one of the few publicly accessible, wooded areas left in my city. We have lots of woods, but in the rural areas, and on privately owned lands.

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Much of the city was once wetlands that had been drained and cleared for buildings/farmland. Only wetland ordinances saved the remaining woods and swamp from development.

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I don’t know that this particular park was part of the wetlands, but I do know it’s the only free place left downtown where families can view the changing leaves. A land full of beauty diminished to a few acres, a shadow of what it used to be. I just can’t help but imagine what the city would look like if we hadn’t drained, razed, and paved everything? A city full of colors and beauty no doubt.

Thankful For Trees

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Thanksgiving is a day of reflection, to give thanks for what we have. In a world of insanity, I have my trees, and I am thankful for them. Thanks for trees? Yes. While spring and summer bring new growth, green grass, leaves, and flowers of all colors; fall brings its own shades of beauty in the dying world.

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To me trees represent the beauty of the world. A world without trees is a world without life. A life without beauty (inner beauty) is no life at all. While trees stand rooted and endure storms, droughts, seasons, and stages of life, they remain beautiful throughout it all. Trees don’t care who is sheltered beneath them, or who breathes in the oxygen they produce. They share their life with everyone.

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There are beautiful people, just as there are beautiful trees. The people who shine with inner beauty are few and far between. If only they numbered like the trees, how beautiful the world would be year round. Until that day, I have trees, and I am thankful for them. They are a reminder to be strong, and stay rooted no matter what life throws at us. And even when the insanity of the world comes, there is always a new season, bringing forth life from what seemed dead.

Fear

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Fear is at the heart of the world’s problems. Hatred, greed, and violence all have a root in fear. Fear has led people to do unspeakable things all throughout time. Fear of what you don’t understand. Fear of something different. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being exposed. Fear of not being in control. Fear of mediocrity. Fear of loss. Fear of harm. Fear of knowledge. Fear of consequences (real and imagined).

How do we fight an enemy that isn’t always seen? An enemy that exists in all of us? Very carefully. Always use caution in every aspect of life. Caution and fear are not the same. Caution is vigilance. Fear leads people around blindly. Caution preserves them and allows them to clearly and safely assess a situation.

Do not let fear turn us into the very thing we hate. Because if we ourselves can’t overcome it, how can we expect others to? If we see and understand fear for what it is, we should know better than to act in the same way. Fear is a subtle state. Those who in fear partake in acts/words of anger, violence, hatred, greed, do so in ignorance, and use values to justify it. But what value is this? It is the value of fear. But fear is a wanna-be value, isn’t it? And why should we be afraid? The world can do terrible things to us. Surely we can do terrible things to the world. Yet aren’t we the world, and it us?

Fear is counter-productive. Those who are too afraid to climb up out of a hole, will NEVER leave the hole. If doctors were too afraid of catching a disease to handle it to find a cure, what cure would we have? If people had been too afraid to stand up for their rights, what rights would we have? If we are afraid of fear, how will it ever be overcome? With caution, not putting ourselves in dangerous situations, but understanding the difference between acting rightly and acting wrongly. Understanding that all people are not the same. Knowing that it’s unfair to ask those who have been wronged (on all sides) to rise above their pain, but nonetheless the only way to truly heal. And knowing that those who continue to do harm cannot heal. By taking fear and confronting it, proving that it can’t undo you. If fear can undo you then you should be afraid.

Don’t let fear stop you from helping others, being kind, and getting to know others. Terrible things do happen. There are terrible people in the world. There always have been. Don’t let fear of them stop you from doing what is right. Don’t let fear cause you to overreact or make false speculations resulting in actions that harm or hinder another. Acts of kindness change hearts, and minds.

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The global issue of terror attacks and refugee resettlement is what is on my mind tonight, but I think the root and endgame of fear can be applied to most situations. My ancestors came here to America, from Russia, fleeing violence and famine. Very many families have come for similar reasons. How quickly we have forgotten the help that we received. It should not even be a question today of whether or not to help refugees in need. If we have to ask the question then fear is with us, and we know the end before it has begun. Don’t let fear undo us. We are a nation, and a world, of many people. If we don’t let fear control us, together we can do great things.

This is a link to a blog by anonymousoutsider, about fear and the importance of teaching our children to understand; and to not let fear define their future, or ours.
https://ananonymousoutsider.wordpress.com/2015/11/19/on-being-human-in-a-world-of-terror/

This One Goes Out To The People Who Inspire Us To Read

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I’ve talked about my love of reading in past posts. Reading has really been my life. So much knowledge yet to be learned, if only there were more hours in the day. You all know people like me. I’m the one who has read all the books before they were made into movies. I’m the quiet one, always contemplating a newly learned perspective. I was the child who didn’t want toys, but books.

Certainly being taught to read was a game changer. Being armed with the ability to learn new things on my own took me down a path that defined who I am. But before I could read there was someone who read to me. Someone who made books so much more than just pictures and stories, LeVar Burton.

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I believe no other person has made as great a contribution to fostering the love of reading as LeVar Burton.  From 1983-2009 he hosted the television show, “Reading Rainbow,” and now keeps it alive on mobile apps and on the internet. Mr. Burton has devoted a great part of his life to us and our children. He successfully fought after cancelation to keep “Reading Rainbow” in our lives today, by starting a kickstarter campaign, reaching the financial goal within the first day. This is truly a testament to the impact he made on the countless people who saw his show, and watched new possibilities unfold before their eyes.

LeVar Burton began his acting career playing Kunta Kinte in the 1977 miniseries, “Roots.” He went on to host “Reading Rainbow” in 1983, and in 1987 starred as Geordi La Forge in “Star Trek The Next Generation.” While he is mostly recognised for his roles in these shows, he has appeared in many more throughout his career. For over thirty years he has been a role model, a teacher, a story teller, an advocate of knowledge. He introduced me to books before I was able to read them, and put my mind in motion. I think we would be hard pressed to find someone who has not been influenced by LeVar Burton.

Words change lives. We need more people today who foster a love of reading. Imagination drives innovation, and teaches us to think outside the box. It all begins with someone who inspires us, young and old alike (because you’re never to old to enjoy a good book). And reading, brings a wealth of knowledge.

If We Went Back To The Basics Without Reverting To Our Primitive Beginnings

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We all know the stories about the beginning. No matter which story (if any) we choose to believe in, there are certain truths that we cannot ignore. I submit that in the beginning, life and death were free. All things belonged to us all, we had no need of money, no need for war, no need of anything except to live and let live.

I don’t think we should go back to living in caves and rudimentary shelters. Or to a time before doctors, when people would die from things we see as insignificant today. Now, we can communicate and travel quickly, control indoor temperatures, find information with the click of a mouse, so many luxuries undreamed of at an earlier time. But if we could find the basics of our beginning, and implement them into our world today, would it not be worth doing?

From the very beginning of life today we have to pay, pay to be born. We work all our lives for money to live. And at the end of it all, we pay to die. We have to pay funeral costs, and for what? To rot away and turn to dust. And if not us paying the cost, then our families. But life and death were free.

Fruits, vegetables, herbs and all plants grew wild and in abundance, for everyone who was hungry to eat. There was no need to war because we all equally possessed the Earth. War and money came when people decided to take things which were not given to them alone. The desire of greed drove humankind to take wild food and control it’s growth and distribution, depriving many of food which was free. Land which was free for all was taken, dispossessing many people. What was free was stolen, and those who stole it did so to take what was everyone’s and cause many to be in need, and forever indebted to them with money, in order to live a life that had beforehand been free.

I don’t know that returning to the earlier state of all land and food belonging to everyone is plausible today. But I do think that we should remember that it once was so, and take steps to ensure that there are places set aside for those who are in need of them. Vegetable gardens are being implemented in many communities, and these are an excellent place to start. I think every neighborhood should have open land or a greenhouse (for unfavorable climates) for planting food. Many plants grow without any care at all, and even re-seed themselves. A little hard work and care for other plants would have a tremendous pay-off. If it is an adequate amount of land, enough food should grow for everyone to share. Things like keeping soil fertile, and the types of plants which grow best in each location can easily be taught. Cities also should set aside safe, accessible land for public gardening; for people who aren’t near community gardens, or homeless people who want a place to grow food.

These things seem so simple. They would really make a difference, not only to individual people, but to our country as a whole. They won’t solve all our problems, but knowing there is somewhere to grow food if you are in need of it, will go a long way in helping. And while most people will likely continue to be born in hospitals (which is probably best), and have a funeral when they die, at least some of the burden of the cost of life itself will be alleviated for those who may need it. Circumstances change, we could all be in need of these things one day, so we should take steps to ensure the freedoms of life become free again.

Here are some links for anyone interested in community gardens. There are tips and resources for starting your own community garden, or to find one near you. Speak to your community leaders or city government if you are interested in implementing these things where you are.

http://communitygarden.org/mission/
http://www.letsmove.gov/community-garden-checklist
http://www.gardendallas.org/benefits.htm

Colonizing Mars: Where Our Past Influences Our Future

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The prospective colonization of Mars is perhaps one of the biggest achievements of humankind. It is the stuff of science fiction fans dreams. But will the colonization of Mars be any different than the past colonizations here on Earth? Until proven otherwise, there are no indigenous lifeforms on Mars, so we will not be destroying anyone’s way of life. But if our treatment of each other has been an indication, it is the lives of human beings we should be concerned about.

The primary colonies will be trained, and hopefully prepared for any situation they may encounter. They will need and depend on each other. However, as more colonies are built, and by different nations, can the subsequent colonists maintain a level of order and civilization? Or will they revert to the Earth ways of discrimination, caste systems, war, and forced labor? 

Traveling to Mars for now, is a one way trip. Once you’re there you’re not coming back. Children will inevitably be born there; new generations who have not seen the horrors that we have made. Perhaps Mars is a chance for human beings to finally do right by all people. But the saying, “once it is forgotten you are doomed to repeat it,” comes to mind.

Assuming the colonists land safely, and survive the harsh environment, it really will be a world made by them. Mars will become what they make it. Let’s hope that the mistakes we have made in our past will not be forgotten. Let our mistakes stand for the new colonists and their subsequent generations to see, so they can travel down a better path, and make a better past for their future.