Friday, February 27, 2015

Sharing a Story of Success Against All Odds

I have been having Internet difficulties, so today's post did not happen as I planned. I hope to be “back in the blogosphere” in full force next week, catching up on as much as I can that I have missed reading over the past few weeks. 

In the meantime, today I am sharing something that made me smile.  I saved this link after seeing it on Facebook one day.  I don't think you even have to be a passionate animal lover to appreciate it. Be sure to read the story that accompanies the photos.

I hope it makes you smile, and reminds you of how sometimes the seemingly impossible really is impossible.

Unfortunately, I can't find a way to embed the full story here, but click on the following link or paste it into your browser to view the uplifting video that I saw posted by boredom

Man Rescues Newborn Flying Squirrel Against All Odds.

Enjoy the rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Am I a Helicopter Parent - to My Pets?

I just finished instilling eye drops in my dog's eyes. Thought I don't really consider myself a parent to my pets, her recent bout of canine conjunctivitis inspired me to write this post.

My family had numerous pets while I was growing up:
  • Several dogs.  
  • Quite a few cats  
  • Baby chicks (Yes, baby chicks. You read that right - we brought them home after they were incubated in the classroom, but gave them away when they became chickens!)
  • A frog
  • 3 (maybe more?) turtles
  • 4 rabbits
  • A horse
My children have had a few pets, but not nearly as many as my sisters and I did:
  • 3 fish
  • 1 turtle
  • 1 cat
  • 1 dog
I have no memory of where or who the vet my parents used might have been. The only times that I know of when they took our pets to the vet were the following:
  • My grandmother's cat (transported, hissing in a fabric laundry bag) when he was severely injured in a fight.  
  • Our sheepdog, after he pounced on and bit a porcupine. He had so many quills in his paws and throat, anesthesia had to be given before they could be removed.
  • My Irish Setter, a tumor (found to be benign) was removed from her shoulder.
I'm sure that perhaps our pets received immunizations and some check-ups, of which my memory is just hazy.  I do know, however, that my parents never visited a veterinarian with anywhere close to the same sort of frequency that I have.

I drew the line at fish. They never saw a vet!  But, when our goldfish became ill, I did scour the Internet for a cure, and treated them with a variety of medications.  One fish  survived (for a few more years) and the other did not. The Beta fish‚ lived only a short life with us, and was greatly mourned.

The turtle was a summer pet, released back into the wild by my small children in time to hibernate,  probably better nourished and healthier than when he wandered into our lives!

Our cat and dog?  Let's just say I could probably set my car on auto-pilot and it would find its way to the vet! You won't believe what their medical history entails:

  • Annual checkups and vaccinations. 
  • A series of steroid injections for the cat, due to a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome.  
  • A barium swallow, X-rays and special dog food when the dog was a puppy.
  • Several rounds of eye drops; and I've become skilled at obtaining urine samples from the dog!
  • A horrible bout of kennel cough (dog) and a wet sneezy cold (cat). 
  • Surgeries (4 for the cat and 2 for the dog.) Even as I write this, I can hardly believe that myself! 
Are these pets just sicker than the ones of my youth? Are we more tuned in to their health because they live indoors, in close proximity with us? Or - did we just treat animals differently in the past, and allow more of their ailments to heal themselves?

I'm not sure. But, I do know that every pet I have every owned has been extremely well-loved!

How well do you know your vet?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Why We MUST Say “Like a Girl” - #women'slives

On February 3rd, 2015, a journalism project called Across Women's Lives was launched. It is the result of a media partnership between She Knows Media and Public Radio International.  I accepted an invitation from Blogher to participate. I am embarrassed that my involvement has gotten off to a slow start, but I am looking forward to sharing and writing more posts on this topic in the future.

Today I am adding my voice to the #womenslives campaign by sharing a link to an article I wrote earlier, and expanding on the theme of gender equality.

On June 30th, 2014, I published a blog post “Like a girl and Proud of It.” In it, I shared the video for the Always "Like a Girl" campaign that I had just seen on Facebook.  The phrase “like a girl” has traditionally (sadly) referred to doing something weaker or with less ability than a boy/man could do. In my article, I proudly gave an example of how my daughter, as a competitive swimmer, has challenged this ridiculous stereotype.

You can read my previous blog post and see the Always campaign video by clicking here: Like a Girl and Proud of It.

Writing and journalism are now common career choices for women, although they were not always an option. My daughter has written several published articles, so perhaps it could be said that she not only swims "like a girl," but writes "like one" too!

In one of her recent swimming articles for Swimming World, my daughter pointed out that Olympian Katie Ledecky, a high school senior, is so fast she owns an Olympic Trials qualifying time in the men's 1500m freestyle event. As my daughter eloquently put it, “all but the very best male swimmers typically understand that somewhere out there, there is a girl who can beat them.”  I would expand upon that by saying that most boys/men should probably understand that somewhere out there, there is a girl/woman who can accomplish as much or more of nearly anything that they can do.  (I said “nearly” because there are a few things in life that biologically only men can do, and others that only women can do!)

Our society is beginning to understand that accomplishments are not often defined by gender.  Efforts such as the “Like a Girl” campaign are in-part responsible for this changing mindset. Proof of this is how tremendously popular the hashtag #likeagirl became, when the video aired as a commercial during Super Bowl Sunday.

I read a written criticism of the "like a girl" slogan by someone who pointed out that “athletes are athletes,” and since we don't say “like a boy” why should we say “like a girl”?  My argument would be that we must say it. It is only by associating these words with what a girl can truly accomplish, that we can break the previous stereotype associated with the phrase.

Ideally, hopefully soon, there will be no limitation of accomplishments imposed, implied or assumed by gender; and efforts - whether male or female - will be equally recognized and compensated.

What is an example of gender inequality you feel needs to be changed?
This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday Spotlight: German Chocolate Cake.

I know quite a few people who consider German Chocolate cake their favorite cake, including both my husband and a friend we had over for dinner last night. Our guest's birthday is tomorrow, so deciding what to make for dessert yesterday was easy.

The recipe I use to make German Chocolate cake is unusual, and always such a hit that I have chosen to “shine my Saturday Spotlight” on it today!

A dear friend has given my husband and me a subscription to a cooking magazine every year since we have been married - first Gourmet, until it was no longer published, and most recently Fine Cooking.  I have discovered many good recipes from these magazines over the years. When I saw the Inside-Out German Chocolate Cake recipe published in the March 2000 edition, I knew I had to make it for my husband's upcoming birthday.  I have made it nearly every year since!

This recipe differs from the traditional German chocolate cake, as the cake is coated in a thick fudgey semi-sweet ganache. The toasted-coconut and pecans in homemade caramelized filling is delicious enough to make even a traditional German Chocolate purist swoon.  This recipe is somewhat labor intensive to make - but well worth every minute, especially if the baker is able to later have a slice!

I follow the recipe in my original issue of Gourmet magazine exactly.  It is not my own to share, so rather than write the recipe in this post, I am providing you with a link. You can now find the recipe (same wording as it when published by Gourmet magazine) at Epicuriousby clicking here.

Here are some of the photos I took while baking yesterday:

This cake is very rich. It is best when served with a scoop of good vanilla ice cream, and milk or coffee.     

What is your favorite cake?

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Eight Questions About Compassion. #1000Speak

When I decided to add my words to the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion campaign, it seemed it would be an easy article to write. Once I began, however, I realized compassion is more complicated than I thought.

Considering this topic, I ended up with more questions than answers. I am sharing them and my thoughts here, but I'm curious about other people's opinions. I hope you'll write some of your ideas and experiences with compassion in the comment section after reading this post.

An article published in the University of California, Berkley e-newletter Greater Good, states that compassion can be defined as: “the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.”

1. Can an infant be compassionate?

Babies may not be capable of being compassionate to others, but they are self-compassionate. They recognize their own sufferings, and cry as a way to obtain relief.   
I have heard of twins born holding hands, and I know that some sets of twin newborns seem to be comforted by each other's presence.  I wonder if these behaviors originate from concern for each other, a result of their own needs, or are they simply due to proximity?

2. Is a child born with a caring personality or is it learned? If so, how?

I remember compassion shown by both my children at an early age, perhaps nearly as soon as they could talk. I don't know if caring for others is an innate component of a child's personality, learned by example, or developed through a process of teaching and reinforcement? 
My best guess is that small children have the ability to recognize that others can have feelings similar to theirs, and their compassion stems from treating others as they themselves would want to be treated. 

3. Are some people more compassionate than others?

As a nurse, my feelings of compassion were a vital motivation for providing good care to my patients every day. I tend to be compassionate much of the time in my personal life as well.  I wonder if the compassionate nature of many nurses is reinforced by the suffering they encounter daily, or is it simply the reason she/he became a nurse in the first place?   
Do some people feel a greater degree of discomfort than others, when faced with suffering they perceive is being experienced? 

4. Can compassion occur between humans and other species? 

I think two examples may answer this:
During a long hike, our dog's paw became sore and bleeding. We placed an extra hiking sock on her foot to protect it, and my husband carried her 50 pounds down part of the trail, increasing his discomfort to relieve hers. 
That same dog, rushed over and licked tears from my face, the day I sat surrounded by Halloween decorations - sobbing because I just realized my child who had moved away might never be home again during the time of year Halloween decorations are displayed. I'm pretty sure she was comforting me, not just craving salt!

5. Is society compassionate enough?

When we realize a beloved dog has no good days left, we may end her misery with euthanasia. Human lives are more complicated and therefore not often treated as kindly.
Poverty, hunger, mental illness, homelessness, human differences: these issues do not  receive the compassion they deserve. Yet, sometimes humans as a community really do rise to the occasion.  An example of this is the response to a recent Montana tragedy: “After rancher's death, help pours in for wife, 7 daughters.”

 6. Is being compassionate ever a bad thing?

Sometimes I suspect my compassionate tendencies may be a fault.
I can be too quick to rush in and try to solve another person's problem.  It is important to recognize when a person just wants someone to listen - to not give advice or fix whatever it is that is making them suffer.   
My first tendency is often to reassure another person that everything will be okay - when perhaps that may not be the case. At times, this type of hope can be helpful, but I realize that offering it may be my way of making myself feel better, and it may not be what is best for that person at the time.

7. What is the most compassionate thing I have ever done?

I have been thinking about this for a while, and my honest answer is that I truly have no idea! I read somewhere that the recipient of an act of compassion is much more likely to remember it than the provider.
I suspect my most compassionate actions have been tied to my roles of nurse or mother. The following examples are typical of many people in these positions:  
  • Working a full shift without taking a food or bathroom break to ensure the comfort and safety of hospital patients.  
  • Working double shifts on Christmas, so a coworker won't have to miss being home with her small children.  
  • Staying up all night with a child who is sick or needs the comforting presence of a parent.  
I told my son I was having difficulty deciding what my most compassionate act has ever been. He immediately replied with humor, “Giving birth to me!” While childbirth is hard, it is not an act of compassion, but a wonderful gift!

8. What is the most compassionate thing anyone has ever done for me?

Again, I do not have just one answer for this.  What first came to mind, however, was something that happened when I was a freshman in college.  
I had broken my leg, and was on crutches. It was the very beginning of my second semester of college, and it became evident that I was not mobile enough to benefit from remaining at school.  My parents were overseas, and it was decided that I would fly to England to be with them. 
I forget many of the details, but I remember that my twin sister left her campus several states away to travel (by bus, I think?) to mine. She spent several days packing up the belongings in my dorm room and offering me the emotional support that I so desperately needed at the time. Her actions were the true definition of compassion.
I love the fact that over 1000 bloggers from around the globe are coming together today to speak about compassion. The world just feels a little kinder! You can read the words of others under the hashtag #1000Speak on various social media sites, such as Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Can you answer the last two questions I asked myself? If we all make a commitment to being more aware of any compassion shown to us, and take advantage of opportunities to provide compassion, our world will become a kinder place.

Your turn!  Do you agree with what I have said here? Please share your thoughts about compassion. 

This post may be linked to one of the great link-up parties I follow and list on my blog. Check them out! #1000Speak

Link WIthin

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