Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Four Legs Good

Digital art background by by Hollie Haradon a.k.a Holliewood Studios and Create Wings Designs;
Animals from Cowboy Up Digital kit by Scrap Girls, LLC

“Any glimpse into the life of an animal quickens our own and makes it so much the larger and better in every way.” ~ John Muir

In our home we refer to our cat Bandito and our dog Shanti as fur-kids. Even though I am very accustomed to including animals as part of the family I sometimes still look at them and think it is rather amazing that we have animals living with us and sometimes even sleeping with us. The love and loyalty they give to us two-legged, non-furry family members is a really beautiful thing. 

Frequently I marvel at the furry, feathery, leathery and scaly creatures that share planet earth with us. When I look into the eyes of an animal I see within a being with a soul who is as alive as you and I. 

Over the years research has proven that our relationships with animals benefit us in many ways.

  • Interacting with animals can improve your mood. Whether you prefer dogs, cats, horses or guinea pigs, research supports the mood-enhancing benefits of having a relationship with an animal. Studies have shown that people were less likely to suffer from depression if lived with an animal. 
  • Relationships with animals control blood pressure better than drugs. While ACE inhibiting drugs can generally reduce blood pressure, they aren’t as effective on controlling spikes in blood pressure due to stress and tension. However, a study of hypertensive New York stockbrokers who lived with dogs or cats, were found to have lower blood pressure and heart rates than those who didn’t. 
  • Relationships with animals stave off loneliness and provide unconditional love. Animals offer love and companionship. They are at times the best antidote to loneliness. Nursing home residents reported less loneliness when visited by dogs than when they spent time with other people. Reducing feelings of social isolation and lack of social support also helps to decrease stress. 
  • Time spent with animals can reduce stress. Research has shown that when conducting a task that’s stressful, people actually experienced less stress when their pets were with them, than when a supportive friend or even their spouse was present.

It was during World War II that the idea of “therapy” animals was born. A tiny Yorkshire Terrier was found in a fox hole in New Guinea. In a round about way the dog found her way to Corporal Bill Wynne, who named her Smoky. Smoky spent the next 18 months by Wynne’s side in combat. Smoky participated in 12 combat missions and was awarded eight battle stars. When Wynne became ill and was hospitalized his friends brought Smoky to the hospital to visit him. Dr. Charles Mayo (of Mayo Clinic fame) noticed the little dog and took a liking to her. He observed that the wounded soldiers’ spirits were lifted when Smoky was around. He allowed Smoky to visit recuperating soldiers and even sleep with Wynne in the hospital. Smoky continued to visit hospitals for the next 12 years.

Mo and Otis, therapy dogs in Redding, California.
According to Wikipedia “The establishment of a systematic approach to the use of therapy dogs is attributed to Elaine Smith, an American who worked as a registered nurse for a time in England. Smith noticed how well patients responded to visits by a certain chaplain and his canine companion, a Golden Retriever. Upon returning to the United States in 1976, Smith started a program for training dogs to visit institutions. Over the years other health care professionals have noticed and documented the therapeutic effect of animal companionship, such as relieving stress, lowering blood pressure, and raising spirits. In recent years, therapy dogs have been enlisted to help children overcome speech and emotional disorders.”

Has your life benefited from relationships with animals?

Are there fur-kids in your family? 

Do you have a special story about an animal that you would like to share?

Any photos that you would like to post?

Enjoy this entertaining video of the very talented Christine Kane performing a funny song called Four Legs Good Two Legs Bad

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cosmic Cowgirl Magazine!

It's here!

Cosmic Cowgirls Magazine (CCM)
for all wild women and creators!

Want to transform your life into a juicy legend,
howl with a tribe of rowdy revolutionaries,
and find the dance step in the stumble?

Join us!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Superhero Therapy

What if taking silly and wild photographs was the cure for lifting your spirits? What if creativity, a sense of humor and some good ol’ make believe could not only change your life, but also bring laughter and hope to the lives of others?

This is exactly what happened for 91-year-old Hungarian grandmother Frederika who had been feeling sad and bored. Her grandson, a French photographer named Sacha Goldberger, suggested that they shoot a series of outrageous photos in unusual costumes, poses and locations to cheer her up. She relunctantly agreed, but once they started, she has thoroughly enjoyed herself and proven to be quite the model.

“Frederika was born in Budapest 20 years before World War II. During the war, at the peril of her own life, she courageously saved the lives of ten people. When asked how, Goldberger told us "she hid the Jewish people she knew, moving them around to different places every day." As a survivor of Nazism and Communism, she then immigrated away from Hungary to France, forced by the Communist regime to leave her homeland illegally or face death.”

Sacha Goldberger’s series entitled "Mamika" (or grandma in Hungarian), has proven to be incredibly popular and has even resulted in a book of photographs that you can view on his web site:

Mamika even has her own MySpace page, has been "friended" by thousands and receives messages like: "You're the grandmother that I have dreamed of, would you adopt me?" and " You made my day, I hope to be like you at your age." Initially, she did not understand why all these people wrote to congratulate her. Then, little by little, she realized that her story conveyed a message of hope and joy.

Goldberger has since shared that his grandmother has never shown any signs of depression since they began their Mamika journey.

Take a look below at these fun and sassy photos and as you do begin to imagine your own supershero costume.

Describe what it looks like and how you feel when you wear it.

What powers do you have when you are wearing your supershero outfit?

Paint it, draw it, create it, sew it, photograph it, post it!

Sacha Goldberger and his Mamika

Mamika showing off her sassy side!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ LOVE

Today is Valentine's Day. A day that is supposed to be all about love and romance, but what exactly is love?

Wikipedia begins by describing love this way: “Love is the emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. In some religious contexts, love is not just a virtue, but the basis for all being, as in the Roman Catholic phrase, "God is love". Love may also be described as actions towards others (or oneself) based on compassion. Or as actions towards others based on affection. “
“The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure ("I loved that meal") to intense interpersonal attraction ("I love my partner"). "Love" can also refer specifically to the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love, to the sexual love of eros (cf. Greek words for love), to the emotional closeness of familial love, or to the platonic love that defines friendship, to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.”

Wikipedia’s explanation of love explores various areas of study. For example one can look at love from a psychological perspective. “Psychology depicts love as a cognitive and social phenomenon. Psychologist Robert Sternberg formulated a triangular theory of love and argued that love has three different components: intimacy, commitment, and passion. Intimacy is a form in which two people share confidences and various details of their personal lives, and is usually shown in friendships and romantic love affairs. Commitment, on the other hand, is the expectation that the relationship is permanent. The last and most common form of love is sexual attraction and passion. Passionate love is shown in infatuation as well as romantic love. All forms of love are viewed as varying combinations of these three components.”

“Noted psychologist Eric Fromm also maintained in his book "The art of loving" that love is not merely a feeling but is also actions, and that in fact, the "feeling" of love is superficial in comparison to ones commitment to love via a series of loving actions over time. In this sense, Fromm held that love is ultimately not a feeling at all, but rather is a commitment to, and adherence to, loving actions towards another, ones self, or many others, over a sustained duration. Fromm also described Love as a conscious choice that in it's early stages might originate as an involuntary feeling, but which then later no longer depends on those feelings, but rather depends only on conscious commitment.”

There are also researchers who have studied love from a chemical and biological perspective. “Biological models of sex tend to view love as a mammalian drive, much like hunger or thirst. Helen Fisher, a leading expert in the topic of love, divides the experience of love into three partly overlapping stages: lust, attraction, and attachment. Lust exposes people to others; romantic attraction encourages people to focus their energy on mating; and attachment involves tolerating the spouse (or indeed the child) long enough to rear a child into infancy.”

“Lust is the initial passionate sexual desire that promotes mating, and involves the increased release of chemicals such as testosterone and estrogen. These effects rarely last more than a few weeks or months. Attraction is the more individualized and romantic desire for a specific candidate for mating, which develops out of lust as commitment to an individual mate forms. Recent studies in neuroscience have indicated that as people fall in love, the brain consistently releases a certain set of chemicals, including pheromones, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which act in a manner similar to amphetamines, stimulating the brain's pleasure center and leading to side effects such as increased heart rate, loss of appetite and sleep, and an intense feeling of excitement. Research has indicated that this stage generally lasts from one and a half to three years.”

“Since the lust and attraction stages are both considered temporary, a third stage is needed to account for long-term relationships. Attachment is the bonding that promotes relationships lasting for many years and even decades. Attachment is generally based on commitments such as marriage and children, or on mutual friendship based on things like shared interests. It has been linked to higher levels of the chemicals oxytocin and vasopressin to a greater degree than short-term relationships have.”

What about religious or spiritual views of love? According to the Dalai Lama the definition of love in Buddhism is “wanting others to be happy. This love is unconditional and it requires a lot of courage and acceptance (including self-acceptance). The "near enemy" of love, or a quality which appears similar, but is more an opposite is: conditional love (selfish love... ). The opposite is wanting others to be unhappy: anger, hatred. A result which one needs to avoid is: attachment. This definition means that 'love' in Buddhism refers to something quite different from the ordinary term of love which is usually about attachment, more or less successful relationships and sex; all of which are rarely without self-interest. Instead, in Buddhism it refers to detachment and the unselfish interest in others' welfare.”

Probably one of the most well know biblical descriptions of love is 1 Corinthians 13:1-13  Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

What are your thoughts on love?

The video below is an inspiring rendition of One Love by Bob Marley and is performed by musicians and singers around the world as part of a program called Playing for Change. Playing for Change is a multimedia movement created to inspire, connect, and bring peace to the world through music. The idea for this project arose from a common belief that music has the power to break down boundaries and overcome distances between people. No matter whether people come from different geographic, political, economic, spiritual or ideological backgrounds, music has the universal power to transcend and unite us as one human race.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Mojo Monday ~ Cinderella Ate My Daughter

“As with all of us, what I want for my daughter seems so simple: for her to grow up healthy, happy, and confident, with a clear sense of her own potential and the opportunity to fulfill it. Yet she lives in a world that tells her whether she is three or thirty-three, that the surest way to get there is to look, well, like Cinderella.
But I’m getting ahead of myself, lets go back and begin where all good stories start.

Once upon a time.”

The excerpt above is from a book called Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture by Peggy Orenstein.

My husband shared with me recently that last year when a female teacher asked the girls in the sixth grade class to share something they valued most about themselves, nearly three quarters mentioned something about their appearance and remarks such as “I think I’m hot” were not uncommon. These are the thoughts of 11- 12 year old girls who at this young age are valuing their appearance above all else. I might also mention that he teaches at a small charter school that is very tame and more conservative in the social scheme of things.

Peggy Orenstein also shares in her book Cinderella Ate My Daughter that according to the American Psychological Association (APA), our culture’s emphasis on “beauty and play-sexiness can increase girls’ vulnerability to the pitfalls that most concern parents: depression, eating disorders, distorted body image, risky sexual behavior.”

“In one study of eighth grade girls, for instance, self objectification – judging your body by how you think it looks to others – accounted for half the differential in girls’ reports of depression and more than two-thirds of the variance in their self-esteem. Another linked the focus on appearance among girls that age to heightened shame and anxiety about their bodies. Even brief exposure to the typical idealized images of women that we all see every day has been shown to lower girls’ opinion of themselves, both physically and academically.”

It is easy to say that we don’t like and don’t want women and girls to be objectified. It is much more difficult to take the steps to try and change what has become an insidious part of our every day life here in the good ol’ USA and in many other parts of the world as well. For example it may be highly unrealistic to think we can effect change in the advertising industry, which is an over $200 billion a year industry that uses sex and objectifying women on a regular basis to sell things. Yet we can take charge of our own views and actions and refuse to objectify ourselves and the women and girls with whom we come in contact.

Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D. is an author, speaker, and filmmaker who is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising.

In the late 1960s, she began her exploration of the connection between advertising and several public health issues, including violence against women, eating disorders and addiction, and launched a movement to promote media literacy as a way to prevent these problems. A radical and original idea at the time, this approach is now mainstream and an integral part of most prevention programs. In 2009 she also released a book that she cowrote with Diane E. Levin, Ph D called So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids.

In a world where every day we are told we need to look a certain way and the media presses that we should not be satisfied with ourselves and we need this outfit, this make-up, this diet, this perfume, these shoes…and on and on…to be happy and beautiful and accepted and wanted and loved….here is our challenge “Be the change you want to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

If we want the objectification of women and girls to end we women need to stop objectifying ourselves and we need to stop allowing others to objectify us.

Do you ever find yourself judging the appearance of another woman?

Do you ever judge the appearances of actresses, models and singers? Or perhaps compare yourself to them?

Pick up a “women’s magazine” and flip through it. What do you see in the advertisements? What kind of thoughts do looking at the advertisements
conjure? Do they have any effect on how you feel about yourself?

How else do you think we can effect change in women and girls in regards to us not basing our self worth on our appearance?

Here is a short introduction to Jean Kilbourne speaking of her film Killing Us Softly about advertising.