Saturday, December 26, 2015

Daily Inspirational Quote – December 26, 2015

“Life isn’t about the destination, but the journey that gets us there.”

As another year comes to a close, this is a wonderful time to reflect on the journey of the last 12 months – the highs and lows, joys and challenges, accomplishments and disappointments that have woven a rich tapestry of experience into our lives. Looking at the overall picture allows us to see the gifts of our journey, no matter where it has led us. Being faithful to our destiny always lands us in the right place!

by Susyn Blair-Hunt

How to Move Beyond Pain

We will all feel pain in one form or another many times throughout our lifetimes, whether it be the heartbreak of lost love, or perhaps some sort of perceived humiliation at the workplace. And while the pain may be real and lasting, there are fundamental actions we can each take to help bring about healing. The following article offers three crucial steps that can help facilitate someone to "move beyond pain.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Rocky Scores Knock-Out for Charity, Stallone Auction Raises $3 Million

When Sylvester Stallone wants to raise money for charity, the gloves come off — and they go on the auction block.

The Hollywood legend sold 1,400 props, costumes, and other movie memorabilia to raise three million dollars over the course of a three-day auction that ended Sunday.

The iconic black leather coat that Stallone personally owned and used as part of his costume in the original “Rocky” movie fetched $149,000 — almost twice what auctioneers estimated it would bring.

Christmas Tree Seller Gives Away Every Tree Left on His Lot

Good things come to those who wait. In Concord, New Hampshire, that included free Christmas trees for last minute decorators and people who couldn’t afford a tree.

Arnie’s Place sells burgers, barbecue, and ice cream year round. But in December, they add a parking lot full of Christmas trees and garland to their offerings.

This year, owner Tom Arnold had about 100 trees left after the final weekend before Christmas.

It was going to be hard to sell them all before the holiday, and Arnold realized there were people in town who couldn’t afford a tree, so he decided to give them away.

The trees usually sold for as much as $45, but the sign out front now read, “Free Trees Until Daylight.”

“We’re serious,” he posted on the Arnie’s Place Facebook page. “Help yourself and bring rope/twine if you’ll need it! MERRY CHRISTMAS CONCORD!”

Burglarized, But Still Going to Disneyland Thanks to Police Officers

When burglars made off with money that a woman had been saving to take her kids to Disneyland, a pair of police officers made sure the family would be able to still go on their trip.

The woman, identified only as Amanda, had been saving all year to take her kids on the trip during Christmas break.

The two officers from the Antioch, California Police Department who investigated the break-in figured the chances of finding and returning the money before Christmas were pretty slim, so they took the problem back to headquarters and put on their Santa hats.

They told the story to the rest of the squad and took up a collection. Then Saturday, they asked Amanda to come to the police station saying they wanted her to look at a line-up of suspects.

Largest Desalination Plant in Western Hemisphere Opens in Thirsty California

A billion dollar desalination plant is turning salt water into drinking water for drought-plagued Southern California.

The Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant named for the former mayor of Carlsbad, is producing 50 million gallons of fresh water every day south of Los Angeles— enough for 400,000 people. That’s about 10% of the region’s water supply.

Fifteen more plants are under consideration along the California coast.

Water from the Pacific Ocean is pumped through long, cylindrical filters which remove salt, then on to a water treatment plant miles away where it’s added to the rest of the region’s water supply before being piped to customers.

Bearded Walmart Shopper Is Mistaken for Santa, Plays Along For Tot (WATCH)

Santa must have been short on elves to be scouting around a Hurricane, West Virginia Walmart two weeks before Christmas.

Or, that might have been true because little Sophie Riley thought he was Santa.

Roger Larck, sporting a red sweater and long white beard was confronted by the girl during his Walmart shopping when she asked tentatively if he was Santa Claus.

Being a good sport, Mr. Larck played the part and made small talk about typical Kris Kringle stuff: a lack of grass at the North Pole, Sophie’s nail job, and Santa’s cookie rations.

Roger’s wife Robin posted on Facebook that it was not the first time he has been mistaken as the man in the red suit—and he grows his beard out every year just for the occasion.

Service Members Pledge to Defend 8-Year-old Muslim-American Girl

When a politician’s remarks made an eight-year-old girl cry, American service members let her know they have her back.

Melissa Chance Yassini came home from work earlier this month to find her daughter, Sofia crying. The little girl had heard that a presidential candidate wanted to ban Muslims like her family from entering the U.S.

She was so afraid her family would be deported, she had packed a bag.

Melissa spent a long night comforting her daughter and voiced her frustrations in a Facebook post.
The whole ordeal was enough to break a mother’s heart. Turns out, it was enough to break a few veterans’ hearts, too.

When Army vet Kerri Peek first read about it, she said the story “stuck in my craw.”

Congress Takes Quick Action to Keep Plastic Microbeads Out of U.S. Water

A bill to clean up the environment and keep toxins out of the food chain has sailed through the U.S. Congress with virtually no debate.

The Microbead-Free Waters Act requires health and beauty companies to stop using the tiny, plastic abrasives in products by 2017.

Microbeads, made from ground plastic pellets like those above, are used in products ranging from facial scrubs to toothpaste. They don’t break down in water treatment plants and about 11 billion of them end up in American waterways every day.

They’re not toxic, but toxic chemicals sticking to the microbeads are eaten by marine life. The contamination is then passed up the food chain — even to humans who eat seafood.

‘Where’s Waldo’ Snowman Puzzle Has Folks Straining to Find the Panda -Look

Can you find the panda?

Somewhere in this frozen “Where’s Waldo” world of huddled snowmen is a single panda.

Hungarian artist Gergely Dud├ís, who goes by Dudolf, posted this puzzle on social media December 16th, and it’s been straining millions of eyeball ever since.

Rudolph Has Nothing on Tech Firm’s Prancing Robot Reindeer–Watch

If all the other reindeer thought Rudolph was different, wait till they see Santa’s new robot helpers.

Boston Dynamics, a tech company specializing in human simulation software, released this holiday video of their newest robotic miracle known as BigDog pulling a Christmas sleigh.

Fondly dubbed as Spot, the canine look-alikes are the latest in a series of running and jumping robots currently in production.

But these snow walkers seriously want some snow.

Muslim Passengers Shield Christians from Terrorist Attack In Bus Ambush

Muslim passengers came to the rescue of Christians on their bus when terrorists with the Somali-based al-Shabaab group ambushed the vehicle in Kenya’s northern Mandera state.

Two people died in the initial shooting, but the rest of the passengers put up a united front against their attackers.

Because there were 12 Christians on the bus, Muslim passengers immediately began hiding those they could while handing out head scarves so the Christian women could disguise themselves.

The terrorists ordered everyone off the bus and demanded Muslims and Christians divide into two groups, which in the past has preceded the killing of anyone identified as Christian.

But this time, Muslim passengers refused to be separated from the rest.

Daily Inspirational Quote – December 25, 2015

“I will honor the Spirit of Christmas in my heart and try to keep it there all year.”

The true spirit of Christmas is expectant, joyful, open and loving. If we can pay close attention to the anticipation and awe of the season and carry it with us all year, what a wonderful gift we will be giving to ourselves and others. Truly, a gift greater and longer lasting than the ones wrapped up in ribbons under the tree.


What Generous People's Brains Do Differently

Some people make giving look effortless. They're the kind of people who bring donuts on Friday mornings and don't think twice before helping overwhelmed colleagues. Others face more of a struggle when it comes to putting the group first. So how do the givers do it? New research from the emerging field of neuroeconomics suggests that being generous is not as tough as some people think.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Daily Inspirational Quote – December 24, 2015

“Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”

It’s so easy for us to talk ourselves out of things, isn’t it? We can come up with a great idea or dream, and then almost immediately start to list all the reasons NOT to pursue it. Having faith in ourselves seems to be a real challenge these days, and I think most great ideas are waylaid when we say “What if it doesn’t work?” That seems to bring things to a standstill, when in truth, it’s not about if it works or not. No, it’s about taking a leap of faith and enjoying the journey it takes us on. Even if the end isn’t what we envisioned, we’ll have some amazing experiences and learn wonderful things along the way.

by Susyn Blair-Hunt

5 Ways to Show Kindness this Holiday Season

"With the holiday season upon us, it's easy to feel pressure that you aren't spending enough, doing enough or otherwise keeping up with everyone else around you. If that's the case, log out of Pinterest, take some deep breaths and remind yourself that true holiday spirit can't be bought -- no matter how good the bargains get." This lovely piece offers up 5 immediate ways to be kind in this season of giving.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

New Epson Shredder Recycles Office Paper into New Sheets On the Spot

A new office machine eliminates multiple middle-men and lets businesses recycle paper right in their own building.

The Epson combination paper shredder and paper-making machine saves on the cost of hauling paper to a recycling center and buying new paper, and helps the environment by cutting down on the energy and massive amounts of water involved in large scale paper recycling.

The nine-foot by four-foot PaperLab can crank out 14 sheets of brand-new, crisp paper every minute — that’s 6,720 sheets in the course of an eight-hour business day.

A business simply dumps its waste paper into the machine which shreds the sheets and uses a jet of air to “de-ink” the used paper bits. Liquid binders are added to reassemble the shredded fibers into fresh sheets and allow the machine to crank out different colors or styles of paper. Then it uses a pressure process to form individual sheets of paper to custom size and thickness.

The PaperLab goes on sale in Japan next year with sales for other countries planned later. While Epson hasn’t announced the price, people in the industry say it could be close to $75,000.

For 2 More Days, Kids Can Talk to Santa or Mrs. Claus Toll-Free

Would your children like to speak to one of Santa’s elves, or his wife or even Kris Kringle himself? From now until Wednesday Dec 24, between the hours of 2pm and 8pm Pacific Time (5-11pm Eastern time), they can do it, thanks to volunteers working the phone lines at the North Pole.

The US-Canada toll-free telephone line is usually very busy, so you might have to try repeatedly to get through. The phone number is: 1-800-726-8222. (No need to dial the “1” on a mobile phone, but know that you will still be paying for the minutes used on your mobile phone plan.)

The call is free, thanks to Santa Barbara businessman John Dickson, who donated his business line after so many people mis-dialed it, believing they were dialing 800-SantaClaus.

Now in their tenth year of the project, 2014 was especially happy for the North Pole crew because John’s new wife Sharon gave birth to a baby. John has always wanted a family, and he met Sharon when she volunteered with the Santa phone lines.

PARENTS should remember the Golden Rule: Make sure the kiddies will be receiving the gifts they will ask Santa for, so they are not disappointed.

Congress Quietly Ends Federal Medical Marijuana Prohibition

Buried in the 1,600 pages of Congress’ new spending plan is a quiet little passage that radically alters the way America treats medical marijuana.

The provision ends the federal prohibition on medical marijuana and bans federal agents from policing its users or raiding dispensaries in any state or district where it is legal.

The spending plan, and the medical pot provision within it, became law on Friday, with President Obama’s signature.

Thirty-two of the 50 states and the District of Columbia have already legalized some form of marijuana use, or its ingredients, for medication.

Federal law still designates cannabis in any form as an illegal drug and, since federal law takes precedent over the states, federal law enforcement agents have been allowed, until now, to persecute people using or distributing medical marijuana even in states that had legalized it.

This provision shuts down those operations and signals a shift in federal drug policy. For the first time, there was significant Republican support for easing of pot laws.

Daily Inspirational Quote – December 23, 2015

“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”

I think one of the paradox’s of love is that the more we try to hold on to another person, the more they will tend to pull away from us. I learned long ago that the fastest way to drive a partner away is to be fearful, clinging or controlling. You wouldn’t want someone to treat you that way. If you love in a way that makes the other person feel free, they’ll never want to be away from you!

by Susyn Blair-Hunt

What Women Can Teach Us About Compassion

It is said "the road itself has power ... that suffering itself can have an inner door ... that there is a resilience even in the midst of it." In this conversation with Gitanjali Babbar, we get glimpses of the power of resilience -- both Babbar's, as well as the thousands of women and children whose lives she touches, and that touch hers. Babbar started a nonprofit named "Kat Katha" or "Puppet Show" and works with over four thousand women sex workers, and 1,500 children living in 77 brothels in India. Babbar initially founded this organization with the intention of liberating the women and helping them make new connections. But, instead Babbar was left transformed and connected by the love she shared with these women.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

African Lions Granted Protection Under New American Law That Limits Hunters

The Obama administration implemented new measures to protect African lions, placing them on the Endangered Species List in order to curtail the loss of animals from American sport hunters traveling to the continent.

The lion’s new designation gives American officials the go-ahead to ban the importation of any hunting trophies, such as lion skins, that would be brought back into the country. The importation of live lions also can be regulated under the new legal status.

“If we want to ensure that healthy lion populations continue to roam the African savannas and forests of India, it’s up to all of us — not just the people of Africa and India — to take action.” Dan Ashe, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in announcing the designations.

The service declared the breed Panthera leo leo to be endangered. Only about 1,400 of the big cats still exist in the wild — 900 in Africa and 500 in India.

A second breed in Africa, Panthera leo melanochaita, which numbers somewhere between 17,000 and 19,000,  has been placed on the threatened species list. Both designations take effect January 22, 2016.

Rockford, Illinois Ends Veteran Homelessness, Sets Higher Standard

Roughly 73 veterans have moved off the streets and into permanent housing in Rockford, Illinois, making that city the latest to end veteran homelessness. At the same time, the city set a new, higher standard for eliminating homelessness among vets.

Rockford becomes one of at least 15 cities — including New Orleans, Philadelphia, Houston, and the whole state of Virginia to eradicate involuntary veteran homelessness. That means any veteran who wants permanent housing has received it. It doesn’t count veterans who opt out of permanent housing, consciously choosing to remain on the streets.

The Rockford achievement goes further than that. They became the first city to reach something called “functional zero” — meaning a city must be placing more veterans into permanent housing faster than veterans are ending up on the city’s street. Currently, there are less than eight veterans opting out of permanent housing in the entire city.

It also requires a plan in place that ensures each newly discovered homeless veteran will be living in permanent housing within a month.

Airports Bring On Therapy Dogs to Ease Holiday Travel Stress

Holiday travel is “ruff” stuff, but these therapy pups can pick you up, even if you’re dog-tired.

United Airlines is bringing out 200 dogs at seven major U.S. airports this week to help travelers wind down while waiting for layovers or delayed flights.

United Paws is providing the professionally trained comfort dogs from local organizations so travelers at the busiest airports can relax from the stress of traveling home for the holiday.

“Research shows that just petting a dog releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and affection, and also decreases levels of stress, helps us breathe easier and lowers our blood pressure,” Veterinary Consultant Dr. Walter Woolf (yes, that’s his name) said in a statement from the airline.

Expect to see therapy dogs on duty Tuesday through Thursday greeting passengers in terminals at Chicago O’Hare, Denver International, Newark Liberty International, Washington Dulles International, George Bush Intercontinental Houston, Los Angeles International, and Cleveland Hopkins International.

Daily Inspirational Quote – December 22, 2015

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody.”

We’ve all run across those people who make us feel special, and they can be rare indeed. So often we are all focused on our own little world, our current problems or our goals that we miss the opportunity to stop and just “be.” If you look around for someone who could use an encouraging word, some attention or even just a smile, it won’t take you long to find them. And I can assure you that if you take one minute a day to uplift someone else, you’ll feel wonderful the rest of the day!

by Susyn Blair-Hunt

A Yuletide Gift of Kindness

"The year was 1933 and Christmas was just a week away. Deep in the trough of the Great Depression, the people of Canton, Ohio, were down on their luck and hungry. Nearly half the town was out of work. Along the railroad tracks, children in patched coats scavenged for coal spilled from passing trains. The prison and orphanage swelled with the casualties of hard times. It was then that a mysterious "B. Virdot" took out a tiny ad in the Canton Repository, offering to help the needy before Christmas. All he asked was that they write to him and tell him of their hardships. B. Virdot, he said, was not his real name, and no one would ever know his true identity. He pledged that those who wrote to him would also remain anonymous." In 2008 Ted Gup came upon an old suitcase stuffed with letters addressed to B. Virdot...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Strangers Donate So Ill Veteran Can Reunite with Dogs for Christmas-Watch

A veteran broke into tears when complete strangers reunited him with his two dogs after he couldn’t afford to get them out of a shelter.

James Pack suffered a massive heart attack in September and complications kept him hospitalized until just this month.

With no one to care for his dogs — Bailey and Blaze — the First State Animal Center and SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) in Camden, Delaware took the dogs in and put them up for adoption.

Taylor Swift Surprises Hospice Cancer Teen, Visits Her for Christmas (LOOK)

Saturday was a fairy tale for a teen battling cancer.

“Suddenly the most amazing miracle happens,” Delaney Clements wrote on her Instagram page. “Taylor Swift walked into my bedroom and spent the afternoon with me just talking and hanging!!!!”

Refugees Sing John Lennon ‘War Is Over’ Christmas Song (Touching Video)

Tissue alert!

John Lennon would have been happy and proud to hear The Refugee Choir come together last Sunday to sing Happy Christmas (The War is Over).

Proceeds of song sales will help the Islington Center take care of asylum-seekers in the UK for the holidays.

Made up of refugees and migrants from all over London, the choir is aiming to raise £30,000 for the Center by the end of 2015.

Military Dad Jumps Out of Wrapping Paper To Surprise Kids (WATCH)

Alfie and Lily must have known they were on the nice list this year when they saw the giant Christmas gift waiting for them downstairs in their English home.

They didn’t expect their father to be back from three months of military service, so they got quite a surprise when opening the wrapping paper.

Their mother, Ruth Stevens, made sure to record the holiday reunion.

Rights to Song “Happy Birthday to You” Finally In Public Domain

A settlement has been reached in a U.S. lawsuit with Warner/Chappell Music over the copyright to “Happy Birthday to You” that will put one of the world’s most recognizable songs in the public domain, according to court papers filed last week.

A Chief U.S. District Judge in Los Angeles ruled that Warner/Chappell, and its music publisher, did not own a copyright to the Happy Birthday lyrics.

Now artists are free to use the song in films, on TV and anywhere else without shelling out millions each year to the company that claimed ownership of the song lyrics.

Harry Potter Spinoff ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Leaks New Film Trailer (WATCH)

“Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is an all-new adventure returning us to the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling.

Academy Award winner Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything”) stars as a magizoologist in this Harry Potter spin-off directed by David Yates, who also helmed the last four Hogworts blockbusters.

The story is set in 1926 as Newt Scamander has just completed a global excursion to find and document an extraordinary array of magical creatures. Arriving in New York for a brief stopover, he might have come and gone without incident … were it not for an American Muggle named Jacob. The escape of some of Newt’s fantastic beasts could spell trouble for both the wizarding and Muggle worlds.

Dedicated Classroom Volunteer, 70-yo Finds Purpose With 600 Grandchildren

Photos and story by Julie Makarewicz
Originally published by School News Network

Dale Allers isn’t related to anyone at Sparta’s Ridgeview Elementary School, but he’s “Grandpa Dale” to the 600-plus students who affectionately greet him every week with smiles, fist bumps and hugs.

“That’s why I do it. I love the kids and their smiles,” said Allers, who has volunteered at the school the last eight years and has no plans of stopping anytime soon.

“He comes over and says ‘Just try your best’ and he always helps us out. And he fixes everything! He makes our whole school a better place,” said first-grader Madison Sackett.

The Great Secret

An Excerpt from Reaching for Insights: Stories of Love, Faith, and the Kitchen Sink, by Mitch Rosenzweig

I am not sure when I first learned the truth. It could have been one of my oh-so-helpful brothers who told me, or I could have learned about it in some dark alley. Of course, I wanted to believe in Santa. I think like many, I wanted to hedge my bets. Better to believe and get presents than doubt and get coal. Of course, I knew that all the presents didn't come from Santa. We got them from Mom and other family members.

When I was raising my children, we were pretty sneaky. We had four types of wrapping paper. Santa had his own for each of the kids, and mom and dad had different paper. When my daughter was old enough, she too wanted to know if Santa was real. I think she asked me the day after Christmas, just to be safe.

Inevitably we go through challenges and changes in our beliefs as we grow up. When we were young, we believed in magic, fantasy, and things unknown. I remember my older brother magically making quarters appear for my son after he had stealthily hidden them around the house. My son was amazed. As children, we are very willing to believe in the unknown. It's not that we are gullible; it's just there is so much we have yet to learn about life and the world that the mystery of faith seems natural. Of course there is a God-that's easy to believe.

Choosing and Using Crystals for Healing

by Christopher Penczak

(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)

From the popular 80’s sitcom, Designing Women, I heard the skeptical, shrewd, logical character Julia scold the more new age free-spirited Charlene with, “Crystals are just rocks. Pass it on.” And at the time, I agreed with Julia. Crystals are just stones, minerals. They don’t have special powers. They can’t be used to heal. Crystal power has no basis in truth. If you believe otherwise, you are just fooling yourself. I can’t believe how wrong I was.

Even once I got involved in the metaphysical and alternative health, I had a hard time swallowing the notion that crystals are healing. Herbal healing I could understand. Each plant has certain chemicals within it. Through teas, tinctures, and oils, your body absorbs these chemicals and they promote certain reactions within your physiology. Yoga made sense. Your body changes with your breathing and movement. You can synchronize your mind with your body to create a greater sense of health and harmony. Chakra meditations and balancing have analogs in the body with particular glands and hormones. ...

5 Reasons to Combine Crystals, Oils, and Essences

by Kerry Nelson Selman

(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)

As a holistic practitioner of natural medicine, I am well aware that a vital component of ongoing wellness is the healing and re-balancing that must take place mentally and emotionally. As a practitioner of herbal medicine and aromatherapy, I have long been in awe of the synergy that occurs in a well-constructed blend. Synergy occurs when well-matched components result in a combination that offers so much more than the sum of its component parts. Indeed, are we not all so much more than our component parts? I feel a deep sense of peace, wonder, and appreciation in acceptance that I am a synergistic combination of all that I have been, all of my component pasts. Wonder, appreciation, and acceptance support my choice for a life well lived.

We are gifted many tools from Mother Earth to support a life well lived. We are here to thrive, and all that we need to facilitate a sense of ease, wellness, and well-being is available to us—we need only choose to release struggle and so it ...

Daily Inspirational Quote – December 21, 2015

“Sometimes you have to let go of what’s gone, appreciate what still remains, and look forward to what’s coming next.”

Yes, those are the days a gratitude list is in order. To break the hold a loss can hold over us, we need to refocus on what we still have, and be grateful. Expressing our gratitude is the first step to creating more abundance in the future. So when life gives you lemons, don’t sit their pouting - turn them into lemonade!

by Susyn Blair-Hunt

The 'Magic Strings' of Mitch Albom

"Ever since I wrote Tuesdays with Morrie, I've had people who have said to me, 'That book changed my life.' You actually said it to me not too long ago. I have to say, the first hundred times that that happened, I probably internally rolled my eyes and said, 'Well, that's nice, but a book doesn't change your life. It's a book.' Having heard it so many times at this point, I started to think, well, actually people's gifts do change other people's lives. I got intrigued about maybe writing a story about how that would happen. I had always been a musician. I buried it after I became a writer, but my real dream was to be a musician, and I worked at it when I was younger." Best-selling author Mitch Albom shares more in this interview.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Daily Inspirational Quote – December 20, 2015

“You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice.”

This reminds me of free will, which really isn’t free. When I hear people say they have free will, I wonder "What they are thinking?" Every action causes a reaction, and it’s only through time and experience that we come to realize that consequences await. So to quote one of my favorite lines from “Indiana Jones and the Holy Grail,” ....choose wisely....

by Susyn Blair-Hunt

The Dogs that Protect Little Penguins

When foxes discovered little penguins on a small Australian island, they nearly wiped the colony out. But a farmer came up with a novel way to protect the birds -- and the story has been made into a hit film.

As a premise for a film, think Lassie meets Babe meets Pingu. What's not to like?

Middle Island, a beautiful, rugged and windswept outcrop off the coast of southern Victoria is home to a colony of the world's smallest penguins.

Originally known as fairy penguins, before some pen-pusher deemed that politically incorrect, they've now been given the far more dreary sounding title of little penguins.