I had a dream that I was walking along the beach and found a rather large, orange, starfish. I pulled the starfish out of the sand with some resistance and held it in my hands. The starfish began to move and twist until it changed its shape into a bowl. I carried the starfish with me throughout my dream and showed it to my friends. The starfish would only move when placed back into my hands. The dream was so vivid that when I awoke I looked up the meaning of starfish in a dream dictionary. This is the meaning that I was given:

starfish2

To see a starfish in your dream, suggests a period of healing and regeneration. Alternatively, indicates that you have many options to weigh and decisions to make.

My entire life, I have been drawn to symbols and their meanings. I believe that symbols are guideposts in life, meant to point us in the right direction.  I will give some examples of how symbolism has effected my life.

I had a rough time as a teenager. I made a long string of bad decisions, landing myself in a lot of bad situations. I was a rebel, full of self-loathing, and terrified of everyone. During those years I was very drawn to dragonflies and it seemed that they were drawn to me. Whenever there were dragonflies around one would almost always land on me or seem to follow me around. I found myself constantly drawing dragonflies and choosing products with the insect in the pattern. Little did I know;

8_dragonfly_summer

Dragonflies are reminders that we are light and can reflect the light in powerful ways if we chose to do so. Some people who have the dragonfly as their totem have had emotional and passionate early years, but as they get older they achieve balance with mental clarity and control. They gain an expression of the emotional and mental together.

You see, the light was always calling to me in those days but I was unable to reflect it!

At the height of what I call ‘the crazy years’ I decided to get a tattoo. Mind you, I was underage and therefore could not go to a professional. I was staying in a house with some rather unsavory characters and one of them offered to do the tattoo, jailhouse style. In other words, he fashioned a tattoo gun out of some things around the house and used india ink (not recommended). I was handed a tattoo magazine and told to choose. The only picture that caught my eye was a small dragonfly. Now, given that the guy was very intoxicated, I would say he did an ok job.

dragonflytat

I ended up marrying one of the men present that night. After 10 years of dating off and on we were married. The last couple years we were together were filled with emotional and verbal abuse. I sank into a deep depression and began to make very poor and dangerous decisions. I began to notice Hawks about once a week where ever I went. On fences, light posts, in the sky and they seemed to be watching me. I had never noticed so many hawks before. Soon, I began to expect to see hawks on my way to work every morning and it never failed. At the time I felt comforted by their presence and now I know why.

birds9

Hawks are the symbolic protectors of mankind. (Boy did I need protection in those years!) When a hawk flies into your life it is time to rip away the self-created illusions that things are the way they should be. How true for me at the time!

Immediately following my divorce and liberation, I had a dream of a phoenix. For those of you who do not know the story of the phoenix here is a summary;

phoenixrising

The phoenix is a mythological creature popular in Asian, Central American, European and Egyptian cultures. The phoenix is a bird which lives in Arabia for 500 years. At the end of the 500 years the phoenix burns itself and its nest only to be reborn from the ashes. The phoenix therefore symbolizes, rebirth.

I am still trying to think of a way to change my dragonfly tattoo into a phoenix tattoo. Sort of a rebirth told in ink.

As you can see the dream of the starfish has proven itself to be very accurate for my place in life. My husband also pointed out that while we were traveling on the East Coast I would always point out tin stars on people’s homes. I didn’t think anything of it at the time. In fact, I thought hanging a tin star on your house was sort of silly and I told my husband at the time that, “It must be an East Coast thing.”

It wasn’t until the last few months that I was shopping for Christmas presents with my husband and we stumbled across some tin stars. I picked one out and asked  him if we should get it. He reminded me how silly I thought it had been when I spotted them on the road. That was when I realized how significant stars had become in my life. The tin stars that people seem to hang on their homes are the nautical star.

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The nautical star is one of the most widely recognized symbols. Sailors would get tattoos of the star which represents true north in order to aid their journey home. Recent interpretation of the nautical star is that it represents following your true path in life despite all odds.

I think that my dream was not trying to point out that I am in a period of healing. I think that my dream was using the starfish as a literal, ‘nautical star’ or star from the water. My dream was telling me that my healing period is finally over! As a result of that healing, I have gained tremendous amounts of strength and courage and I am finally on my one, true path.

I encourage you to look back at your life and discover what symbols or animal totems have been guideposts for your life. What do you think they are pointing you toward today? On you on your one, true path?

Copyright © 2009 Positive Energy

Your dollar is your voice. Make it count this holiday season!

I will begin with my personal favorite:

The Hunger Site-Fair Trade Market

When you shop at The Hunger Site store, each item you buy also helps fund food for the world’s hungry — at no extra cost to you! The chart below shows cups of food generated by shopping at The Hunger Site store over the past six months. Your shopping here makes a difference — thank you for all you do!

The Karma Market

Helping artisans worldwide by bringing fair trade gifts to your doorstep!
Karma Market brings you stylish, handmade, affordable and socially conscious gifts helping to lift artisans from poverty through a positive trading environment.

Gifts that match your values and your tastes.
Our items are unique and contemporary handicrafts focusing on the trend towards world fashion and socially responsible products.

Help to give back to the world’s community by purchasing with your values and voting with your dollars!

Mercado Global

100% of profits return to our partner cooperatives to promote both fair wage employment and investments in their children’s education.

Original Good

Every choice we make is already impacting the world. At World of Good we want to make it as easy as possible for you to make choices that are positive for both you and everyone connected to that choice. As consumers in the United States we have tremendous power to influence the way companies do business. It is possible to make money while treating others with dignity and respect. Together we can transform commerce and consumerism into a powerful force for good.

Angel Tree

Angel Tree Christmas works by connecting parents in prison with their children through the delivery of Christmas gifts. In most cases, local church volunteers purchase and deliver gifts and the gospel to children in the name of their prisoner-parent.

Make a Wish Foundation

We grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”

Toys For Tots

The mission of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

Save The Children, Gift Catalog

YOUR FRIEND GETS: a personalized card featuring a photo of a child participating in one of our programs and a personalized gift tag describing how the gift you chose will help children in need. The tag is a keepsake decoration and will remind your friend or loved one of the truly meaningful gift you sent this holiday season.

YOU GET: the satisfaction of knowing that your gift will be spent wisely to help children in need around the world.

When I was a kid my mother taught me manners. She was teaching me what her mother taught her, things called, common courtesies. Say, “Please” when asking for something, “Thank you” when you recieve it. If someone drops something, pick it up for them. Let old ladies and pregnant women have a seat on the bus. Common Courtesies, right?

For the past several years I have absolutely loathed spending time in public places. I get irritated, impatient and angry whenever I have to deal with strangers. I started to wonder what was wrong with me then I payed closer attention and realized that common courtesies are not so common anymore.

For example, when I am standing in line at the grocery store with my full cart, I noticed a man with only a carton of milk. I let him go ahead of me, I would hate to stand behind someone with a full cart if I only had one item. When coming to a stop at a stop light, I make sure to not block any driveways or streets. I give the guy in line ahead me the nickel he is short for his groceries. Yet, countless times I have been on the reverse end of these situations and very rarely is the favor returned.

My absolute biggest pet peeve is when people cut me off, whether on the road or in person. I was taught that if I walk in front of someone who is looking at something, or accidentally bump into someone to say, “Excuse me.” or at least the quick version, “Scuse me.” My husband and I went Christmas shopping yesterday and countless people walked in front of me, bumped into me, cut in front of me, stood in front of me to look at the same thing etc. and only ONE lady said, “Excuse me.” I cannot tell you how angry this makes me.

How rude have we become as a society? Are courtesies extinct? Are we just in too much of a hurry and too short on space to spend that extra second to use manners?

When was the last time you said, “You too.” when the clerk tells you to have a nice day? When was the last time you held a door open for someone?

There is a Cherokee proverb that I find fitting for this dilemma. In the proverb the Grandson is concerned about a personal struggle within himself. We can also apply this proverb to the general public and the universe in general. It is as follows;

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An old Cherokee chief was teaching his grandson about life…

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.
“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.

“One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, self-doubt, and ego.

“The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.

“This same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather,
“Which wolf will win?”

The old chief simply replied,
“The one you feed.”

Author Unknown

My challenge to you this Christmas season is this: Feed the good wolf in others, be polite and courteous while out and about this shopping season.

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Copyright © 2008 Word Sprout

Profanity is the effort of a feeble mind to express itself forcefully. ~Unknown

I first saw this quote on a sign hanging in my cosmetology school. It was the most intelligent quote regarding profanity I have ever heard. It seems strange to me that I recognized the brilliance behind the quote yet failed to implement its implied change.

I began swearing in a rebellious phase of my life and did it for a couple reasons a)to make my mother angry b)to look cool. I have matured a bit since then and I no longer swear in front of my mother or in my workplace. I have indeed perfected the art of “closet swearing”. Behind closed doors I can melt inanimate objects with the heinous excrement which spews forth from my mouth.

This is the change I am presenting  to you today.

I realize that profanity is in fact a feeble attempt at verbal expression. At this point in my life it has become a habit I want to change. I have taken a good look at why I continue this loathsome behavior. My conclusion is that I cannot, despite my extensive knowledge of shocking verbiage, express anger effectively. Most other emotions I can express with no trouble whatsoever but anger has always been a difficult emotion for me to voice. I realize the importance of this issue today and I need to make the change. I recognize that I may not be able to express my anger more effectively by the mere act of abstaining from swearing. I do believe that this is the first step and thus where I will begin.

What’s wrong with swearing you ask?

  • When you use obscenities you appear; uneducated, trashy, immature, ignorant, and negative.
  • Using obscenities contributes to the negativity in the universe.
  • Children emulate adult behavior.
  • It is a sign of hostility.
  • Swearing contributes to the universal stereotype of the “dumb American”.
  • It is ineffective.

Profanity has become an ingrained part of our verbal culture. People are now beginning to discover its negative effect on our world. As a result, several methods of change for this problem have been suggested including; quarter jars, word substitutions, and tape recording yourself swearing.

1. I am willing to put a quarter or even a dollar in a jar every time I swear. Personally, saving immense amounts of money has never been perceived as a punishment. Rewarding bad behavior is absolutely ineffective.

2. Substitutions are fine if used correctly. For instance if you substitute a negative word for a seemingly less negative word it is still negative, the tone and connotation are still there. For instance, if we switch “F you, Ahole!” to “Truck You, Grasshole!” the recipient still knows the intended meaning. However, if we switch “F you, Ahole!” to “Have a wonderful day sir!” the negativity has been canceled out.

3. Tape recording myself swearing and expecting it to shock me into change is ridiculous. People who swear to the extreme that I do are not easily shocked.

So, it appears as if #2 will be the beginning to the road of forceful expression sans obscenity.

Research has shown that it takes 21 days to change a habit effectively. I stand by this research and it has proven itself to work in my own life. Therefore for the next 21 days I will substitute every negative swear word with a positive affirmation. Here are some examples:

  • Sh*t!=Beauty!
  • F*ck=Love
  • B*tch=Wonderful Woman
  • A*hole=Great guy

I encourage each and every one of you to join me on this journey. I don’t want to continue to spread gloom and misery into the universe. The world is becoming burdened with the amount of negativity being released into it. This constant flow of negative thinking creates a perfect breeding ground for depression.

I believe that this relatively small change on our part can create an enormous effect on the world for the better! Please help me come up with some more examples of switching negative swear words for positive statements. Use the comment box below and let’s get sprouting!

Copyright © 2008 Word Sprout

The Post today is unfortunately not so positive however sometimes in life we do need to deal with the more negative element. It seems that the following blogger has copied 2 of my entire blog entries here are the links to both copies;

http://www.careoflife.info/?p=28488

http://www.careoflife.info/?p=30569

This post serves as a public notice and documentation. The first instance that I was made aware of through my Incoming Links was the Maintaining a Positive Attitude blog, upon which I commented the following;

Wow, this blog looks very familiar. In the future I would appreciate if you would not copy my entire blog and just provide a link for your readers if there is something you like.

https://wordsprout.wordpress.com

The owner of the Care Of Life blog ignored my commented and the 2nd instance occurred with the Simple Changes blog.

In my comment on the plagiarised “Simple Changes” blog I wrote a Cease and Desist order and took screen shots of all plagiarised materials and the Cease and Desist order. Here is a copy of the order:

Dear Owner of the Care Of Life Blog found at http://www.careoflife.info/?p=28488:

It has come to my attention that you have made an unauthorized use of my copyrighted work entitled Word Sprout article, Simple Changes in the preparation of a work derived therefrom. I have reserved all rights in the Work, first published in August of 2008. Your work entitled Simple Changes is identical to the Work and clearly used the Work as its basis. This is also the 2nd time you have copied my work from https://wordsprout.wordpress.com, the 1st instance was the article, Maintaining a Positive Attitude. Let it be known that all instances have been documented.

As you neither asked for nor received permission to use the Work as the basis for Word Sprout article, Simple Changes nor to make or distribute copies, including electronic copies, of same, I believe you have willfully infringed my rights under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory damages as high as $150,000 as set forth in Section 504(c)(2) therein.

I demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all infringing works derived from the Work, and all copies, including electronic copies, of same, that you deliver to me, if applicable, all unused, undistributed copies of same, or destroy such copies immediately and that you desist from this or any other infringement of my rights in the future. If I have not received an affirmative response from you by September 15, 2008 indicating that you have fully complied with these requirements, I shall take further action against you.

Very truly yours,
Heather Simpson
https://wordsprout.wordpress.com

As you can see, I have given the owner of the Care Of Life blog until September 15, 2008 to respond or further action will be taken.

Heather Simpson

Copyright © 2008 Word Sprout

I don’t know about you but I am a cheese fanatic! Ever since I was a kid, cheese has been a comfort food for me. I eat a lot of cheese! I eat string cheese as a snack, cheese in my sandwiches, I like cheese in a tortilla melted, on crackers, or just cut me off a piece and I’ll eat it plain! My favorite cheeses are the sharp cheeses and the sharper the better!

When I wanted to start losing weight I knew the day would come when I would have to start monitoring my cheese intake and I was very saddened.

Well, the good news is I don’t have to cut cheese out of my diet completely. In fact, I can still eat cheese everyday!

Here are a couple facts about cheese:

  • 1 ounce is the recommended serving size of cheese
  • Natural cheeses all start out white, the yellow you see is an additive
  • Approx. 10lbs of milk are used to make 1lb of cheese
  • Cheese is considered a “nutrient rich food” by the National Dairy Council
  • Some processed cheese foods contain less than 51% of actual cheese
  • Mice don’t actually like cheese and in fact it is not very good for them!

Let’s take a moment and discuss cheese portion sizes. As mentioned earlier, most cheeses consider 1oz a serving size. If you are like me however, you find it hard to imagine what an ounce actually looks like. So, here are a few comparisions to make it a bit easier on us;

  • Take a card deck, cut it into 3 equal pieces. One of those pieces is an ounce.
  • A small handful of rice is about 1oz
  • 4 dice
  • A matchbox

Another trick I find helpful when moderating serving size is to purchase shredded cheese instead of block cheese. Manufacturers are discovering the benefits of pre-packing cheeses in single serving sizes as well and it is becoming more and more common to find them! It may be a bit more expensive but I eat A LOT less cheese this way.

So, now we know how much cheese to eat. What kind of cheese is the healthiest? Well, that depends on which nutrients you are seeking and which nutrients you are avoiding. In general, processed cheeses have a higher sodium and fat content than natural cheeses. Soft cheeses generally have less fat than hard cheeses.  A lot of cheeses are high in sodium as well. Here is a chart which compares the most common types of cheeses by nutrient. Nutrition Comparison Of Cheeses.

As you saw from the chart the cheeses with the least amount of fat is cottage cheese followed by, mozzarella cheese.  There are varieties of low-fat, and non-fat cheeses as well but I have found the flavor of these cheeses to be very bland. There is also soy cheese but I have yet to find one that I like.

Let’s do some math here:

To switch from 1 oz. of cheddar to 1 oz. of mozzarella (part skim) would save: 42 Calories, 5 grams of fat, and 3 grams of Sat. Fat!!

That is a pretty significant difference! Over a year (eating 1oz a day) that saves; 15,288 Calories, 1820 grams of fat, and 1092 grams of Sat. fat! That is 4.4 lbs of body weight savings just from the calories! Now do you see the significance?

Let’s try switching from 1oz of American Processed to 1 cup of cottage cheese. Cottage cheese has more calories so we will look at the fat content. There is a 6.5 grams of fat difference in cottage cheese! Over a year that is, 2366 grams of fat.

In summary, when making cheese changes you must consider portion size first. Consider which nutrients are important to you and look up your favorite cheeses on the Nutrition Comparison Chart. You may also wish to try the alternative options such as; low-fat, non-fat and soy cheese. Let me know if you find one you enjoy. Making small changes in your cheesing habits can make a big impact on your health down the line! Now, go out there and enjoy your cheese wisely!

Copyright © 2008 Word Sprout

I recently went through an experience where my positivity was tested. In short, I found that I had accidentally fallen into a pool of negativity and I needed to find a way out, fast! It is so difficult to keep our spirits up when the world seems to become more and more negative. In my situation I went to my friends and asked for advice. I recieved great support and found that I have more friends than I thought! This alone was encouraging enough to life my mood.

A person’s mood is based on so many things that it would be impossible to be happy/positive all the time. That is what it means to be human!

Here is my new creed for maintaining a positive attitude. I hope it helps you as well!

BEGINNING TODAY
Author: Unknown

Beginning today I will no longer worry about yesterday.
It is in the past and the past will never change.
Only I can change by choosing to do so.

Beginning today I will no longer worry about tomorrow.
Tomorrow will always be there, waiting for me to make the most of it.
But I cannot make the most of tomorrow without first making the most of today.

Beginning today I will look in the mirror and I will see a person worthy of my respect and admiration.
This capable person looking back at me is someone I enjoy spending time with and someone I would like to get to know better.
Beginning today I will cherish each moment of my life.
I value this gift bestowed upon me in this world and I will unselfishly share this gift with others.
I will use this gift to enhance the lives of others.

Beginning today I will take a moment to step off the beaten path and to revel in the mysteries I encounter.
I will face challenges with courage and determination.
I will overcome what barriers there may be which hinder my quest for growth and self-improvement.

Beginning today I will take life one day at a time, one step at a time.
Discouragement will not be allowed to taint my positive self-image, my desire to succeed or my capacity to love.

Beginning today I walk with renewed faith in human kindness.
Regardless of what has gone before, I believe there is hope for a brighter and better future.

Beginning today I will open my mind and my heart.
I will welcome new experiences. I will meet new people.
I will not expect perfection from myself nor anyone else: perfection does not exist in an imperfect world.
But I will applaud the attempt to overcome human foibles.

Beginning today I am responsible for my own happiness and I will do things that make me happy ; admire the beautiful wonders of nature, listen to my favorite music, pet a kitten or a puppy, soak in a bubble bath, pleasure can be found in the most simple of gestures.

Beginning today I will learn something new; I will try something different; I will savor all the various flavors life has to offer.
I will change what I can and the rest I will let go.
I will strive to become the best me I can possibly be.

Beginning today. And every day.

Beginning Today was retrieved from Heart ‘n Souls

Copyright © 2008 Word Sprout