We really are all connected

“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson


My son Lukas sent me a video link to an amazing video: The Most Astounding Fact.  He saw it and said that he immediately thought of me and knew it would fit well in my blog.  Thank you once again Lukas!
The video is an excerpt from an interview of Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson.  He was asked: What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe? And who better to answer this question than this inspirational man. He shares his information in a concise and easy to understand way, that is both inspirational and educational. To me, his explanation is unity explained. We really are all connected.

“The atoms that comprise life on Earth, the atoms that make up the human body are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements . . .  stars collapsed and then exploded scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy, guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life itself. So that when I look up at the night sky and I know that yes, we are part of this universe, we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is in us.”

We may look different and sound different, but in fact our make up is the same. To me, this is a call for cooperation, for collaboration, for compassion, for love.

As Dr. DeGrasse Tyson puts it:  After all, what nobler thought can one cherish than that the universe lives within us all?
Please take the time to watch this wonderful video, not only is the message timely, but the pictures of space are incredibly beautiful.

I’d love to hear what you thought of this video. And as always, thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

If today were your last day . . .

“Live not one’s life as though one had a thousand years, but live each day as the last.”

– Marcus Aurelius


Live every day as if it were your last – so easy to say, but honestly, how plausible is it?

My son Lukas came upon this quote by Nietzsche and thought it would fit nicely in my blog. (He’s got my back!)

“What if, some day or night, a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: ‘This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more; and there will be nothing new in it, but every pain and every joy and every thought and sight and everything unutterably small or great in your life will have to return to you, all in the same succession and sequence…’
If this thought were to gain possession of you it would change you as you are, or perhaps crush you. The question in each and everything – ‘Do you desire this once more and innumerable times more?’ would lie upon your actions as the greatest weight.”

Upon pondering that quote, Lukas mused:  “Yeah, so it refers to living your life, judging an action by which you might have to repeat it again and again . . . this idea of eternal re-occurrence can guide your life path – help you out of banality and suffering.” (That’s my boy!)

Nietzsche’s quote reminded both of us of Steve Jobs’ incredible 2005 Stanford Commencement Address:

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

These ideas seem even more relevant to me today, than they normally would.  Last night, my husband Jeff accepted a year-long position with The British Council doing teacher training in Borneo.  My sons and I will be staying in New Zealand.  It’s the fulfillment of a dream that’s been on hold for a while for Jeff, and a big part of me is really happy for him. But if I’m honest, my feelings are much more convoluted that just happy for him.  So no, neither of us found out that today would be our last day, however, Jeff is leaving for a year in only three short weeks.  And well, anything can happen . . . Borneo feels pretty far away.

So this topic feels even bigger than it normally would. And for the next three weeks anyway, I’m going to seriously try to remember what Jobs advised, at least with Jeff .  I plan to ask myself:  If today were the last day of my life with Jeff, would I want to do (or say) what I am about to do (or say) today?”

The video I’m attaching is a bit cheesy (sorry Lukas) but it made me cry and it seemed to fit, so here it is:

 

 

Please write and let me know what you would do if today were your last day.  As always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

 

Lifelong Learning!

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

– Benjamin Franklin


WOW!  I am so excited!  My son Lukas just introduced me to iTunes U.  Have any of you had the opportunity to explore iTunes U?  It is absolutely amazing – such an awesome free resource! For a tutorial go to http://www.apple.com/education/itunes-u/

So much knowledge and information at iTunes U.  There are lectures and talks on absolutely every subject from most Universities in the US, and a few from Europe and the rest of the world.  I found an exciting series of lectures in  Psychology called: Understanding Happiness. There are mind boggling lectures in Science on subjects like Quantum Physics and String Theory. The basics are also offiered – like Intro to Psychology or Intro to Philosophy from Standford or Berkeley.  One of my favorite lectures that I’ve watched on iTunes U is:  On Death by Professor Shelley Kagan at Yale. Professor Kagan’s course has lectures, slides, and lecture notes – it’s an entire course!  And it’s free!

Some of the lectures are available on YouTube (such as the the Intro to Death by Professor Kagan that I include here)  Some of the talks are TED talks and available on TED. But many others are only available on iTunes U, full university courses.  There are no excuses now to say that we cannot continue to learn through our lifetime.  The only problem that I have found is that there are just not enough hours in a day to explore all the topics available on iTunes U!

Please let me know your thoughts Professor Kagan’s course On Death, and I’d love to hear about any course at iTunes U that you have experienced.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Connecting the dots . . .

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something: your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path.”

– Steve Jobs


My son, Lukas used that quote in his speech at his high school graduation recently.  He used it in reference to looking back over his time at Thames High School, and in particular over his final year there as Head Boy.  I know I’m biased – but it was an amazing speech!  Needless to say, I was sobbing by the end.

I thought of Steve Job’s quote last night during a discussion my family and I were having after watching the movie, The Pianist.  (If there is anyone out there who has not seen this movie, it is a remarkable movie and a painful true story.)  While I was watching the movie, I was in physical pain with a knot in my stomach, wondering how it is that human beings can be so cruel to one another.  How is it possible that we can so lose sight of our unity. How can we become so polarized, so us and them oriented?

What occurred to me is that people stop Paying Attention, they stop noticing that what they are doing is so completely and humanly wrong.  And perhaps, it is only in looking back and connecting the dots, that some of us make realizations that should have been made along the way.  It is imperative that we pay attention NOW, and not look back and connect the dots and realize that we got it so very wrong.

For those of you who have not read or heard Steve Jobs’ Commencement Speech at Standford, please take the time to watch this.  It is uplifting and inspiring, and will perhaps remind us not to wait too long before we connect the dots.

 

 

Please let me know your thoughts on Steve Jobs speech, and any stories you have looking back and connecting the dots.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

 

 

Cooperation . . . we can make beautiful music together . . .

“We could make beautiful music together. “

– Gary Cooper


As I thought about my last blog post, Our Need For Connection, I started to wonder what is it that helps us connect, or fail to connect.  The first thing I thought of was communication. We need to communicate, to listen, to be present  with one another to find connection.  When we don’t communicate with respect, we fail to connect.

Someone once said: ” The basic building block of good communications is the feeling that every human being is unique and of value.  Communication and respect.

And then I thought of cooperation. We need to practice cooperation, working together with respect.

I think this music video by Walk Off The Earth is a brillian example of cooperation.  The song is pretty, the words are fine – but it is the cooperation between the artists in this video that, in my opinion, is absolutely stunning!  Watch how they work together.  It is Awesome!

 

I hope you enjoy this music video, and if you hadn’t heard of Walk Off The Earth before, watch them on YouTube, they are great.

And as always thank you for taking the time to visit, I appreciate it.

Gratitude

“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you.”

– Brian Tracy


Gratitude seems the perfect topic for my first post, as I sit here feeling so incredibly grateful to my son Lukas for getting this whole blog thing set up for me.  It’s been an amazing experience to sit and watch my own child do something that I have absolutely no idea how to do.  It’s strange to feel so completely surpassed – it feels like it was only yesterday that I was teaching him everything – to tie his shoes, to read, to ride a bike – and now I sit watching mesmerized  as he presses random keys and creates this technological beauty . . . Ah but I digress, back to gratitude, I used to think an attitude of gratitude was a good way to feel a bit better when I felt a bit sad.  But more recently, as I’ve been studying Positive Psychology, I’ve learned that cultivating gratitude can actually Rewire your Brain!  According to recent studies in Neuroplasticity, Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D states that an “intentional program toward paying attention to what you are grateful for in life, with a practice every night or every morning for only a minute or so, will begin the rewiring process.”

In a recent article on CNN.com psychologist Shawn Achor from Harvard University describes his program The Happiness Advantage:  “I challenge readers to do one brief positive exercise every day for 21 days. Only through behavioral change can information become transformation.”  And at the top of Achor’s list is cultivating gratitude: (Write down three new things you are grateful for each day)

(http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/19/opinion/happiness-success-achor/index.html)

In this wonderful YouTube clip, Achor speaks on “Positive Psychology: The Science of Happiness and Potential.”

Shawn Achor – The Science of Happiness and Potential

I hope you enjoy the article and the YouTube clip.  Please leave me a comment below and let me know what you think of the information Achor shares.  Or if you like, tell me how you cultivate your own attitude of gratitude.

Thanks!

Welcome to my blog!

“The richest source of creation is feeling, followed by a vision of its meaning.”

– Anais Nin


I’m so glad you are here. I will be posting weekly musings and other bits and pieces. Please visit regularly!

Be sure to explore the rest of the blog.

But for now, I want to say thank you to my son, Lukas, who helped me to set up this blog, because I assure you, as a 50-something year old woman, I could not have done this alone!