Category Archives: Quote of the Week

Quote of the Week #83

Have you ever been somewhere and seen someone with a FREE HUG sign? Did you take them up on their offer? Did the hug feel nice, or awkward? Did you enjoy it? If you didn’t hug the person, did you think about it afterward and wonder why you didn’t?

One day in late December my husband and I were both feeling depressed and in a state of despair even though it was that time of year when people are supposed to feel festive and happy. We decided to cheer ourselves up we would take our dog, Schroeder, and go into town with the sole purpose of making people smile and giving out free hugs. We made three signs, put them on and set out on the streets of Asheville.

Our first time giving out free hugs

Our first time giving out free hugs

Some people looked at us strangely. Some people moved away from us. Some people laughed when they saw Schroeder, moving closer–happily– to accept some puppy love. Oh, they laughed when Schroeder wagged his tail wildly and tried to lick their faces. We quickly learned several things:

1 That Schroeder does not give hugs–he gives kisses and licks

2. That if we did not take initiative, many people just walked on by

3. At the end of the day, after hugging many, many strangers and sharing many smiles and laughs, WE felt better. In giving out hugs we had managed to cheer ourselves up!

Since then we made giving out hugs a monthly event. We are better at it now–better at warmly inviting strangers to hug us, better at not taking it personally when they walk past, better at letting the hugs go on as long as people need. And Schroeder’s sign now says “Free kisses and licks.”

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And so that brings me to the quote of the week, two of them actually, because, as you know, I can never decide:

The first, by Maya Angelou, “I have found that among its other benefits, giving liberates the soul of the giver.”

and the second, a fact that was apparent to us almost immediately– it is very easy to make someone smile.

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YOU can be reason someone smiles. YOU can make a difference in someone’s day. All it takes is the desire and a tiny bit of effort.

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Photo Challenge #11

Happy Wednesday! Are you having a great day yet?

I spent my morning out in one of my favorite meadows and it was absolutely glorious! The field is filled with yarrow, milkweed, New York Ironweed, butterfly weed, daisies, and more. In most places the grasses are as tall as my shoulders and I walk along, slowly, immersing myself in the NOW and viewing the world through my “photographer’s eye,” constantly on the lookout for insects and other interesting things. I frequently find deer beds of flattened grasses–it makes me smile, thinking of the deer curled up in a ball and sleeping peacefully for the night.

gmead-5200Today the swallows were making rounds over the field, swooping low above the wet grasses in search of insects, calling to each other as they danced in the sky. There was a flock of crows calling in an adjacent field. Butterflies, dragonflies and honeybees flitted around the pink milkweed blossoms that are so heavenly fragrant right now–if only I could capture the smell and waft it into your space as you read this post! As I sat in the field, hidden from the world, I thought of a poem by Wendell Berry that I read yesterday, sent to me by my friend, Bea.(Thanks Bea!)  For those of us intimately familiar with the natural world, this poem will make you nod your head in agreement:

When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Anyway, I just wanted to share it with you on this Wednesday, in hopes that you can make some time to get outside and “come into the peace of wild things.”

Last week’s photo theme was FOG. Here is the weekly slide show

Ward Pound Ridge ReservationBackpacking in Denali National Park, AlaskaDelaware National Water Gap on The ATDogwoodNC Mountains, by ArdenDrama in the skyEagle on the Mississippi, by JockFoggy church Davenport by JockFoggy day on the ATSecret Garden, Roan MountainWestern North CarolinaFog at Nahant Marsh Iowa by JockIn Great Smoky Mountains National ParkFog by ArdenFoggy forest by JockFog over the mountainsIn Etowah Fog in the valleyIn GSMNPLooking back on the AT in MaineFog in AlaskaMy backyardIn Denali National ParkJones Gap, SCDawn's Early LightLight at the end of the tunnelFogFog in the pine forest at Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, NYIn Cade's CoveTree by Whitewater Falls, NCDancing FogDenali National Park, Alaska

And in honor of my surprise-filled trips to the unmoved plots of land everywhere, let’s do THE PEACE OF WILD THINGS as our theme for this week. Have you been to a glorious meadow near you and felt the peace of wild things? Or been to a forest, a spot at the top of a mountain, or beside a pond or river? Do you have a special spot where you can feel the peace of wild things? Have you inched along the grasses in a meadow to find secret treasures? How can you create a compelling image depicting the peace of wild things? Do you think this will be an easy theme?

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I hope to hear from you, and especially, hope you will join us in next week’s slide show. Just email me a few images to sharenaturemore@gmail.com and I will happily add them to the Wednesday blog post…. see you again soon!

Quote of the Week #82

If you’ve been with me for any length of time, you will likely recall my talking about seeing a special kind of firefly that lives in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park–the synchronous firefly. I have written several posts about my experience witnessing the hundreds of these fireflies that light up night for two weeks every year in early June–Magic for your Soul, Soundless Music and 10 things you didn’t know about fireflies.

q-4278Recently I backpacked 4.4 miles to a remote campsite in the backcountry of the park with my husband and two new friends. We arrived at our site in late afternoon, set up our tents and sat back to relax until dark. We drank lemonade rum, snacked on cheese and crackers before our dinners and played a dice game called Farkle. All was well in our world.

Later, as darkness approached, anticipation was high. Our new friends had never seen the fireflies and I badly wanted them to experience the awe I felt the first time I’d seen them, many years ago after I moved to Asheville. With a nearly-full moon already high in the sky, darkness came slowly. At 9:00, I left everyone sitting by the empty fire circle, walking back down the narrow path, looking hopefully for signs of the fireflies. I saw only a few lights. Next I explored the area behind our tents, towards the wide, rock-filled river that provided constant music. Still only a handful of lights. Growing discouraged I ventured farther up the trail, hoping perhaps that would be the “spot” where the fireflies would be gathering. Again, nothing.

I walked back to the group, wondering how it could be that the fireflies were not here. Were we too early? Too late? Was the ranger who gave me advice wrong about this spot?

My friends were quiet, looking around like me.

And then! Here a light, there a light. Here a light, there a light! Tiny lights began flashing in the darkness, low to the ground. We made our way away from our open site, to another spot just on the other side of a small stream, in a denser part of the forest. There, in the silence of the woods, surrounded by darkness, the flashing lights surrounded us! They were everywhere!

Synchronous fireflies are different than other fireflies in that they all flash, flash, flash, flash and then somehow, a signal is communicated and they all stop flashing in unison, making the night black again. It remains black for a few seconds and then the lights start up again. And this goes on and on and on until somewhere between 11:00 and midnight.

Our small group of 4 stood silently in the forest, surrounded by flashing lights. At times they seemed to all dance forward, towards us before growing still again. Blackness all around.

Then the flickering of tiny lights again, decorating the darkness and creating a silent symphony of dancing light.

Later, after we all had our fill, we moved off to settle in our tents, which were by then surrounded by flickering lights. We took off the rain fly, lying in the tent and watching contentedly the dancing lights of tiny insects gathered outside of our temporary home in the forest. It is hard to describe. Difficult to convey the emotion I felt as I watched this. Impossible to communicate why I am moved to tears by this most simple natural event that happens at this time of year in this place every year and has for many, many years. It is magical. It is special. It is food for my soul…

And so, this week’s quote–two actually because as is often the case, I could not decide.

“Silence is life’s most sacred melody,” and:

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“Life is passing rapidly. Fiercely commit to every moment you find beautiful and remember it. Record it. Fully, whole-heartedly inhabit it. Awareness is one of the greatest things you can possess in this life as it is as important as the very air we breathe and water we drink to stay alive.” –Victoria Erickson

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Do you agree? What magical moments have you been a part of lately? Have you ventured to the Smokies to see these fireflies? What was your experience like? Have you seen fireflies in a meadow or forest near you? What was it like? Use the comment box below to share your thoughts–I always enjoy hearing from my readers.

…Here’s to making time for a magic moment near you in the very near future.

Quote of the Week #81

So I think it’s safe to say that if you have children, or have been around children for any length of time, you know that as an adult, it’s important to monitor their exposure to certain things: TV shows, movies, internet sites, etc. Not only do you want to protect them from physical harm, but you also want to protect them from other “bad” things, many of which can’t be seen. Protecting them from seeing or hearing something that you deem not appropriate for them, for whatever reasons and however you define harm is of the utmost importance. Everyone is different and likely has his or her own ideas of what is okay and what is not.

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I was thinking about this the other day because I have done the same thing to myself, for myself. Surely this isn’t unusual, but sometimes as adults I think we might forget we can. We might forget we have that power.

As you likely know I have had a long absence from my blog posts–from December until now.  This break felt essential to me because (after November) I was not able to function normally. And even after all this time I can’t say I am great, but I at least don’t break down crying several times a day. I am better, and this, because I have changed my habits and limited my daily exposure to things I know only sadden, cause anger, make me feel hopeless and just generally depress me.

In the beginning I felt guilty for not keeping up with things, for “sticking my head in the sand.” But now, all of these months later, I am accepting this as reality. My new reality. In the same way parents limit a child’s exposure to harmful or dangerous “things,” I too must limit my exposure to things that are guaranteed to have these negative impacts. It doesn’t mean I care any less. It doesn’t mean I won’t fight for what I believe in. It doesn’t mean that I accept the changes I see or that I have given up. It just means I understand myself and put my needs first.

And so, this week’s quote:

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What do you think? What ways do you make sure you are healthy and happy?

Quote of the Week #80

FLYAWAY-2085I haven’t met many people who don’t enjoy butterflies. After all, what’s not to like? They are beautifully colored, fly gracefully, don’t kill things, have amazing life cycles and just generally bring a smile to your soul when you see one.

They start out as a tiny egg, hatch out, then eat, eat, eat, molt several times, make a chrysalis, and then, some days later, transform into a lovely butterfly–a sure symbol of something we all can use–HOPE.

So, this week’s quote:

Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, she became a butterfly.

If you live locally to western North Carolina, please come out and join me THIS TUEDAY (April 18th) night at 7:30 for my first program –about butterflies and moths–with my new Meetup group, called Share Nature More. To learn more, or to sign up, click here.

If you don’t live locally I’m sorry I will miss you! You can click these links to see some amazing butterfly transformations (these will knock your socks off! )-a monarch here or a red-spotted purple here, or the emergence of a variegated fritillary here. Or if you want, check out 10 things you might not know about butterflies.

Quote of the Week #79

Happy Thanksgiving! On this special day I want to say THANK YOU my dear readers for joining me on this journey, for reading my blog posts and caring about our beautiful planet. Thank you for your interest in our fascinating outdoor neighbors and in the things that make our earth special. Thanks for helping me dispel myths about the plants and animals we love and for encouraging respect and appreciation for all living things. I appreciate you! May your holiday be filled with the love and laughter of family and friends, good food, good health and lots of reasons to be thankful.

There are troubling things happening in our world everyday, but there are also amazing blessings and examples of lives changed by kindness.  Of course, these inspiring stories don’t get the press of the negative ones, but if we look hard enough we can find them. (Check out this site for some feel-good stories that will make your heart smile, like the video of the dog racing down the dock and jumping in the water to swim with the dolphin or the cops who gave out this instead of tickets)

Think of your own life. Everyday there are things we can be grateful for, things we may overlook because we are focused on what is wrong with our lives, what is lacking, what challenges we are dealing with.

What are you thankful for today?

Here are a few of my favorite quotes picked for today, as well as a collection of some of my favorite pictures–all of which show the beauty of our world –beauty that is right outside of our doors–if we have the eyes to see.

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and here’s another one that I think is fitting, especially in thinking about last week’s post, or in considering some of the difficulties getting together with family members sometimes presents:

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and lastly:

Life is full of give and take. Give thanks and take NOTHING for granted.

Here is a collection of some of my favorite images. Enjoy! And Enjoy this special time of year.

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Quote of the Week #78

As you likely know if you’ve been a subscriber for very long, I try to do a weekly quote and usually this is something inspiring. When I first began this category I simply put a nice quote on a nice picture and that was that. But at some point it occurred to me that doing it that way, without any story or text with it was not very imaginative. And so I began using what was going on in my life as inspiration for the topic or theme of the quotes.

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In this case however, I have been conflicted about whether to talk about my current state of mind because in doing so, it is bringing up a controversial subject that is apt to offend.

But I can think of nothing else.

Since Wednesday morning when I found out the election results, I have been in a state of despair and have accomplished next to nothing. Each day has been a struggle and honestly, the best part is the sweet bliss of sleep that makes me forget for a few hours. Are you feeling this way too?

There are many who say “Get over it! It’s time to move on! Stop being a sore loser!” But what they may fail to understand is that I–and others like me– are not grieving because our candidate lost, WE ARE GRIEVING  for the loss of so much of what we believe in and what we think this result says about our country.

When was the last time you saw a movie or read a book where the villain was not defeated at the end? We all want, and expect that GOOD will triumph over evil. No one wants to see the bully win at the end of a movie. No one wants to watch the mean character come out the winner.

In our world we have lots of people who are not exactly good role models–celebrities and athletes who do or say dishonorable things. But with these people we can chose not to watch them, not to support them. We can skip their movies or games.

When it comes to the President of the Untied States, we cannot make any such choice. Sure, we can NOT watch the news or read the papers, but neither will change the fact that the President sets the tone for our country and represents us to the rest of the world.

How could the first qualifications necessary to be President not be a person who RESPECTS OTHERS?

How can it not be required that this person is compassionate and caring, someone who puts others first and considers the good of everyone BEFORE  what’s good for himself?

And so I grieve…

I grieve for the triumph of greed and bad moral character over common decency and respect for other people, including those that have a handicap or have different colored skin, those that practice a different religion or come from another part of the world. I grieve over the fact that we have put a bully into the highest office in our land, a man who repeatedly attacks other people, who encourages violence, who gets ahead by insulting anyone who stands in his way. I grieve for all women and girls because we have said with this election that it is okay to belittle them, to say they are fat or ugly, to compare them to pigs, to make them feel like they aren’t good enough, that they can’t succeed because they were born girls rather than boys, that they don’t “have the right look”, and worst of all, to sexually harass them and then brag about it. By electing this person for President, we have said, “Yes, this behavior is acceptable.” This sickens me…and it baffles me as to how anyone could have chosen to overlook this shameful behavior, the same behavior that if we saw in our kids we would punish.

In addition, as someone who loves nature more than just about anything, I fear for what this means for the environment. I suspect protecting our natural resources and beloved animals will not be a priority of this administration.

And so, I grieve.

m2-20…And cannot come up with anything inspiring to say for this week. I am sorry… Here’s the best I can do, along with some pretty fall pictures, which make me forget, if only for a few minutes:

“You can close your eyes to the things you don’t want to see, but you can’t close your heart to the things you don’t want to feel.” –Johnny Depp

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“All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are.”  –Robin Williams

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