Ren's Ramblings & Writings

Contemplations on things tangible and intangible

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Spay Day 2011 Online Pet Photo Contest

Spay Day 2011 Online Pet Photo Contest

Hi! Solstice wants to ask if you will vote for her in the Spay Day Online Pet Photo Contest - and help save other pets' lives at the same time?  Helping animals is really important to me, and your donation will not only help Solstice in the contest, but will save pets' lives by reducing pet overpopulation. Thanks!

Conquered the great pumpkin

Coming home for the first time-one very sick little dumpster kitty

Lord of the Rings Monopoly will never be the same

I'm just so happy to be safe and have a full belly

Up to no good..

Getting better each day

Well enough to have energy to play!

She has a lioness inside her and radiates sunshine (hence, her name); she shows gratitude more than anyone I know (she was very sick when I found and nursed her to health). She's so lovey for a cat-even though ours is a mutual arrangement (as it is with all cats) she will snuggle and purr for hours showing her happiness and gratitude.

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

 Rent "The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill." It's a delightful story about a man and a flock of wild parrots in San Fransisco. If life purpose seems elusive, this heart-warming, true-life story will give you a lot to think about. Filmmaker Judy Irving eloquently captures lives and thoughts most of us rarely ponder. The extras with even more information on the flock and the human lives touched by them are amazing-better than the extras on most dvds. I have ordered Mark's book, which is his memoir. I adore the positiveness of his life-I'm a bit envious even. Yes, there are tears, but it's really just the circle of life, which continues regardless of how humans feel about anything. One can't help but relate to how these birds have influenced Mark's life, in some small way, perhaps we all long for such profoundness to come to our lives to lift us up and inspire us. We can all admire Mark for caring for the birds, for trying to learn and understand them. But the bigger gift is what they have given to his life. It's apparent in his disposition, his blog, his website, and throughout the film. Check out his website and his book and be inspired.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Carpe Diem; how to live an "extraordinary life"

My oldest son was disrespectful to a teacher one morning, so I got a bright fuzzy pink bathrobe and slippers and went to his school to "shadow" him (the office staff were all giggles when I signed in and got my visitor badge). 

The Language Arts teacher had challenged the kids to do a free-write essay (no gramatical rules or formal writing etiquette) on what Carpe Diem means and how to live an "extraordinary life."  She gave them the quote: "It's not the number of breaths that we take that is important, it's the moments that take our breath away."

Popularly translated as "seize the day," per Wikipedia, "Carpe literally means "to pick, pluck, pluck off, cull, crop, gather", and that someone named Ovid intended the word to mean "To enjoy, seize, use, make use of." Wikipedia continues, stating that "though it is a misconception that it says "seize the day" this may be because it is an imperfect translation."  The Miriam-Webster online dictionary states "the enjoyment of the pleasures of the moment without concern for the future."  The teacher gave this in the context of "living," after telling the students about a former student of hers who had passed away.

What a great thought-I love free-writing! Think The Bucket List and Live Like You Were Dying (a movie and a song, respectively). 

So, how do we live an extraordiary life?  How many of us can afford to go sky-diving, drive our dream race car at any raceway, or even have the practical ability to just escape to the woods on a regular basis (if you don't already live there)?  How do we make each day special?  Can we manifest just one thing each day to create "moments that take our breath away?"

Tim McGraw's take on it is one place to begin (lyric from Live Like You Were Dying):
He said "I was finally the husband,
"That most the time I wasn’t.
"An' I became a friend a friend would like to have.
"And all of a sudden goin' fishin’,
"Wasn’t such an imposition,
Is this enough to create "moments that take our breath away." Sometimes. Emotional connections can have a huge impact.  How do I become the "husband/wife" that most of the time I am not?  How do I become the friend that a friend would like to have?  In our regular life, day-to-day relationships can feel mundane, uneventful, comfortable.  There is nothing wrong with comfortable, but there's a reason magazines spout articles on how to spice up relationships. Tim McGraw's intent here is to simply not take those things for granted.  To cherish and value those ordinary, comfortable relationships. Gratitude. 

I think Carpe Diem takes this a step further, however. It's the difference between truly living and just existing. The idea behind The Bucket List is to find joy in life. Two terminally ill men go on adventures to experience grand things before they die.  "Grand" is subjective, however, and included on their bucket list is something along the lines of "kiss the most beautiful girl."  It turns out that the character Jack Nicholson portrays has a beautiful granddaughter who he has never seen due to a falling out with his daughter.  "Kiss the most beautiful girl" takes on an entirely different meaning in this context. Also on this list is "laugh till I cry" and "witness something truly majestic." Do we have to drink Kopi Luwak or go to the Himalayas to achieve these?
What can we love in our daily lives, and what can we manifest in our everyday lives, that is extraordinary living that will take our breath away? 
Hard thought... brainstorming..... brain hurts....
Lets see. I love the smell of freshly cut grass, but we don't have grass, as is common in this area.  I love the smell of burning wood, but we don't have a fireplace or wood stove.  I love the woods, but have to go out of my way to get what next?
Helping my kids with math or having a clean kitchen floor doesn't take my breath away. I was never a good teacher, and gave up on having a clean house years ago.   I adore sitting with my cats, petting them, hearing them purr, but it doesn't take my breath away.  It's not that I'm not grateful for these things.  Perhaps Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs partially explains why we need something more to feel like we're truly living rather than just existing. But I think it comes back to gratitude.

I love being healthy, strong, and vibrant. I love Tae Bo, yoga, meditation, shamanic journeying, and listening to that which is not audible to the ear. I love being gifted with the ability to share healing Reiki energy.  I'd forgotten how I enjoyed lifting weights-the mere action is empowering, and the after-affects, enlivening. I enjoy playing Lord of the Rings Monopoly with my son, and making my boys do Tae Bo when they're acting rowdy and rambunctious.

The goal, then, is to figure out what we can do right here at home to take our breath away on a regular basis, whether it's meditation or sky-diving. Everyone may have a different definition of what an extraordinary life is, but let's take a shot at this. Let's find what we can do that brings us joy and creates extraordinary living right here close to home. 
*Meet the barn owl at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Feel the majestic power of his wings as he flies past you. And check out the Meerkat Cam at! I love this beautiful owl and the beautiful and smart raven who lives in the same building!
*Provide for someone else's need.  Participate in ColoradoSpringsFreecycle by checking in occassionally at to see what others are asking for. You might find something you are looking for as well as saving the environment by recycling items you no longer want.  Occassionally people will ask for help in some way (for food). You will feel joy by anonymously and spontaneously helping others.
*Visit the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Divide, CO or the Serenity Springs Wildlife Center in Calhan, CO for a tour. Standard tours at both locations are $10, and you might be rewarded by the majestic sound of howling wolves or the mighty roar of regal lions. and

*Hike the Manitou Incline a few times per year. It will take your breath away -literally- during the hike up and again once you're at the top.

*Hike to the top of the Crags.  There are a couple different routes of varying difficulty, and once at the top, you won't want to leave.

*Attend a drumming ceremony at the Garden of the Gods facilitated by the Inner Light Center. Very uplifting and healing, it will take your breath away. 

*Commit to learning something that you would never ever have attempted before: belly-dancing, shamanic journeying, golfing, fencing, kickboxing... find whatever it is that you ever dreamed of, or something that you would never have thought of before, and dive in!

This list will be updated as more ideas and information are received at Renee's Fountain Valley Fotos Facebook page.