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Recession? What recession? Got 20 million? Let's have a party!

>> 25 November 2008

Last week was the grand opening of the Atlantis, The Palm Hotel in Dubai. The resort, built by gaming and resort magnate Sol Kerzner, cost 1.5 billion to build. The opening was an exclusive party for 2000 guests from all over the world and catered spectacular fireworks and a private concert by Kylie Minogue (and many other superlatives). Apparently Kerzner's core value number one is "Blow away your customer". Well I guess he literally did that by blowing away 20 million $.


I am just stunned. I mean, I like a good party, but 20 million $??? Hello?
So much for helping to reduce poverty. 
So much for saving energy.
So much for being ecologically conscious.
I wouldn't even want to attend such a party and I just lost a tad of respect for the people who did.

There, just needed to get that off my chest...

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The great cathedral space which was childhood - Virginia Woolf

>> 24 November 2008


Childhood

Endless space and time
all trees are there to climb

Unconditional love and trust
every no feels so unjust

Outdoors and in the woods
weekends full of baked goods

Summer holidays last forever
oh we think we are so clever

Sleeping on the floor in grandma's house
talking even though the lights are doused

Spending entire days in the local pool
and it is fun to learn things in school

Campfires and sausages on a stick
television and soup when we're sick

Discovering the magic of reading a book
the need to create a personal nook

Stories at bedtime and playing with dad
everything is just fun to be had

Without notice innocence is replaced by knowledge
the power of time and change we have to acknowledge

Oh the wise who know how to remain
that child that lived life without a strain


(c) Mindful Mimi - November 2008
Thanks to  for prompting this poem on the theme of Childhood Memories.

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Sometimes the biggest act of courage is a small one - Lauren Raffo

>> 20 November 2008


It takes courage
to be yourself
to be different

in the face of
Intolerance
and despite
Prejudice

I takes courage
to drop your defenses
to take off your mask

held back by
Fright
or led by
Compliance

It takes courage
to open up
to let someone in

afraid to get
Hurt
or retained by
Pride

Be brave
a little
every day
Have the courage to
Be you!


(c) Mindful Mimi - November 2008
Thanks to  for prompting this poem on the theme of COURAGE.

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A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues - Marcus Tullius Cicero

>> 19 November 2008


I am currently reading The Secret.  As usual, I start to doubt such books because I both hate and like them and I cannot conceive the fact of hatred and liking at the same time. But I am thinking happy thoughts, and I am being thankful every day for what I have. So I wanted to make a list and invite you to make one too.


I am thankful for:
  • being me.
  • being alive and healthy.
  • having a wonderful, loving and understanding husband who makes me happy and complete, who supports me, tells me what he thinks, tells me to hold it when I need to hear it...
  • having two wonderful little boys who are beautiful and healthy and are the joy of my life.
  • having healthy, imperfect parents who are still able to shower their love on our kids
  • having a large extended family spread all over the world
  • living in a country without war and that is safe
  • living in the countryside and being able to snuff in the good that nature does
  • having a wonderful, big house that fits our needs and wishes
  • having a big garden for our boys to play in
  • having a job that pays the bills
  • speaking lots of languages which has often gotten me a job and lets me communicate with people
  • having friends that are there for me when I need them and even when I don't need them, that I trust and that trust me
  • being able to create (paint, take pictures, sing, write)
  • being wiser than I was before
  • owning a car that doesn't stutter on a cold morning
  • being able to hug my loved ones and see them as often as I want
  • being able to hear, smell, see, feel, taste
  • being able and enjoying working out
...to be continued...

So what are you thankful for today?


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Painting is just another way of keeping a diary - Pablo Picasso

>> 18 November 2008



Well, this would be my diary entry for the day then. 
I started thinking about painting. Then I thought, well that isn't working. And I just did what I was thinking about. It also helped that I had some old seed pods from Guadeloupe lying around... And the painting from my post before got me inspired.

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Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky - Rabindranath Tagore

FLOATING

Morning run
sweating, alert body
looking at an empty day ahead

Shower
Water trickling, cleansing
quietness taking over

Happily floating
mind wandering
watching the rain outside

Feeling happiness
taking over
floating through my body

Reading, writing
empty mind
feeling at ease, floating

(c) Mindful Mimi - November 2008
Thanks to Weekend Wordsmith for triggering this post about Floating.

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EU's bureaucracy keeps money away from developing countries

>> 13 November 2008


A recent Reuters article mentioned a European Commission proposal to give 1 billion Euros that are left over from the European budget to struggling farmers in the developing world.
The article continues:"But the proposal has run into trouble as European Union lawmakers and governments said the bloc's executive did not choose the right budgetary procedure."

Is the political process just an excuse? Do you think people in developing countries care that the EU is bogged down in bureaucracy and worry about which budget this should be booked under?

Read more at One.org and help getting this money directed into the right hands by joining ONE and sending a letter to your country's leader.

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Believe in your dreams and they may come true; believe in yourself and they will come true

>> 12 November 2008

One of my readers, Lance at The Jungle of Life, pointed me to the video below and made me discover the very special person that is Nick Vujicic. Nick, a now 26 year old Australian, was born without arms and legs. He has turned around what looked likely to become a sad and difficult life and is touring the world to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.

“People say to me, ‘How can you smile?’” he says. “Then they realize ‘there’s got to be something more to life than meets the eye if a guy without arms and legs is living a fuller life than I am.’” 

He challenges the way people see themselves. He asks them to change their perspective: on life, on themselves, on others. Circumstances are just that, circumstances. One should look beyond them. Obstacles are not problems but opportunities to grow. Attitude is the most powerful tool we have. Happiness does not come from temporary things. Because the happiness that does is just that, temporary.


For his website go to Life without Limbs.
Fore more inspirational video's, click here.

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How to write the perfect blog post...

>> 11 November 2008


You can write a blog post about anything and you may even find a few readers. 

But what makes a blog post GOOD? Below a few tips:

  1. Keep it 'close to you'. Talk about the things you know, you live, you have experience yith. That way things don't sound too forced.
  2. Start your column with a strong sentence, a bold statement that wakes up the reader. At the end of your story you come back to this teaser and to 'round it off'.
  3. Write short sentences.
  4. Exaggerate - a little.
  5. Kill your darlings: your text may become better if you leave that gorgeous first sentence out. And is that one anecdote really necessary to the story? Be critical and dare to throw things away.
  6. Stick to one subject. Avoid telling your whole day. Stick to that one funny or annoying detail and pump it up.


As Lore Sj√∂berg puts it: 
Creating your own blog is about as easy as creating your own urine, and you're about as likely to find someone else interested in it. 

And don't forget:
Blogging is not about writing brilliant pieces of literature or journalism. It's about getting information out to your client while using your natural voice, and doing it in a way that doesn't take a lot of time from your normal schedule. - Brian Brown

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Are you a control freak?

>> 10 November 2008


Below you will find a few statements. Tick the ones which apply to you.

  • I make lists of about every aspect of my life
  • I don't like it when people touch my things
  • I hate to wait for someone who is late for an appointment
  • In case of an argument or discussion, I am usually convinced that my opinion is the correct one
  • If I want something to be done right, I do it myself
  • I get uneasy on 'empty' vacation days and am mostly the one who makes the plans and proposes fun activities
  • I would feel awkward if someone organized a surprise party for me
  • I feel upset if people do not follow my advice
  • I become testy from the mess of other people
  • When I watch television with other people, I usually hold the remote control
  • Others are usually less demanding than I am
  • I find it difficult to delegate. And when I do, I explain how the work should be done
  • When I organize a dinner, I prefer my guests to stay out of the kitchen and do not want them to clean or start doing the dishes
  • If a friend tells me she wants to start doing yoga, I start looking for the best and most suitable classes for her
  • I always take notes at meetings, even when someone else writes the minutes
  • I rarely take a ride with other people; I prefer to drive myself

How often did you say 'yes'?

  • From 0 to 5 times: you are ok. You have gusts of controlling behavior, but in a healthy way. If you hardly ticked any of the above statements, you should probably watch out not to let others take over.
  • From 6 to 10 times: you are in the danger zone. Stand still a little more often to look at your behavior and thought patterns. Ask yourself the question: what would happen if I did not do this? If you want to change the direction, use the 6-steps plan below.
  • More than 10 times: you are a real control freak. And you know it, also because people point it out to you. If you do not succeed in letting go on your own, call in the help of a psychologist or therapist.

Learn to let go in 6 steps:

  1. Select on of the most controlling behaviors from the above test and 'abstain' for one month. If you usually take notes during meetings, try to consciously NOT taking them. Do you get nervous, are you able to concentrate less, are you afraid to forget something? That is an indication that something needs to change. Stick to it for a month, that is the minimum term to break with a habit.
  2. Control freaks usually do not control a certain facet of their own life. Their perfectionism is a diversionary tactic to control the inner chaos. Ask yourself how this is with you and where your controlling behavior can originate from.
  3. Tell your partner and good friends that you would like to become less controlling in the near future and ask them to help you. Check with them in which situations you suffer from controlling behavior and when it bothers them also. Ask them to point out to you - in a friendly and constructive manner - when "you're at it again".
  4. Start small. What may be a futility to someone else, like living without a watch, can be groundbreaking for you. The good thing about starting small is that you get immediate rewards. You feel more relaxed and get more self confidence - which makes it easier to continue.
  5. Stop being overly helpful. In the long run this only leads to frustration and turns people away from you. Because what you really want - influence the behavior of others - does not work. Live and let live, that is the message. Respect others' choices and solve people's problems not for them but with them. 
  6. Remember: letting go of control from time to time really does not mean that you will loose your identity or come across as weak. You only become a more pleasant person. And also: the opposite of control is trust. Not only in yourself, but also in other people and in the future.
Freely translated from Libelle magazine

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Every other artist begins with a blank canvas, a piece of paper the photographer begins with the finished product - Edward Steichen


Ever dreamed of a real Andy Warhol in your living room? now it might become possible. Not a Warhol though, but a canvas of your picture as interpreted by the creative talents of MYFACE.

MYFACE is an alliance of creative talents employing new technologies sharing one common ambition: to make art accessible while keeping it exclusive.

MYFACE Portrait

MYFACE Portrait offers a unique service to a client, individual or corporate, to submit a photograph for an artistic interpretation by a creative talent into the creation of a unique and original digital artwork.

Each artwork is printed on canvas, signed and numbered by the creative talent, and accompanied with a certificate of authenticity.


Quote by:
Steichen, Edward - American; 1879-1973
Edward Steichen (March 27, 1879-March 25, 1973) was an American photographer, painter, and art gallery and museum curator, born in Luxembourg. His family moved to the United States in 1881 and he became a naturalized citizen in 1900. Among other accomplishments, Steichen is appreciated for creating The Family of Man in 1955, a vast exhibition consisting of over 500 photos that depicted life, love and death in 68 countries.  Virtual visit of the Family of Man exhibition in Clervaux.

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In the name of love: Africa celebrates U2

>> 9 November 2008


I just discovered this wonderful album "In the name of Love: Africa Celebrates U2


Produced by Shawn Amos and Paul Heck, In The Name Of Love: Africa Celebrates U2 features Grammy Award-winning/nominated African artists as well as top up-and-coming talents including Angelique Kidjo, Les Nubians, Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars, Vieux Farka Tour, Vusi Mahlasela and the Soweto Gospel Choir. Initially inspired by his work in South Africa while running the Quincy Jones Listen Up Foundation, Amos re-entered the music industry with a heartfelt initiative to cultivate greater awareness of the emerging socio-economic success stories happening within many of the country's regions. Amos, a longtime fan of U2, witnessed Bono's direct philanthropic impact via the launch of the ONE campaign and (RED), and his poignant outspoken public commentary on the immediate financial needs facing Africa.

Track Listing: 
1. Angelique Kidjo “Mysterious Ways" 
2. Vieux Farka Tour “Bullet The Blue Sky" 
3. Ba Cissoko “Sunday Bloody Sunday" 
4. Vusi Mahlasela “Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own" 
5. Tony Allen “Where The Streets Have No Name" 
6. Cheikh L “I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" 
7. Keziah Jones “One" 
8. Les Nubians “With Or Without You" 
9. Soweto Gospel Choir “Pride (In The Name Of Love)" 
10. Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars “Seconds" 
11. African Underground All-Stars Featuring Chosan, Optimus & Iyoka “Desire" 
12. Waldemar Bastos “Love Is Blindness"

If you are a U2 fan or a fan of African music, this is a must buy.

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The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself - Anais Nin

>> 8 November 2008


Let's tell the truth to the people. When people ask, 'How are you?' have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully. you must know, however, that people will start avoiding you because thez, too, have knees that pain them and heads that burt and they don't want to know about yours. But think of it this way: If people avoid you, you will have more time to meditate and do fine research on a cure for whatever truly afflicts you.


-Maya Angelou in 'Letter to My Daughter'

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Love takes off masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within - James Arthur Baldwin

>> 7 November 2008


How joyful to be together, alone

as when we first were joined
in our little house by the river
long ago, except that now we know

each other, as we did not then;
and now instead of two stories fumbling
to meet, we belong to one story
that the two, joining, made. And now

we touch each other with the tenderness 
of mortals, who know themselves...

-Wendell Berry,
from "The Blue Robe"

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Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal - Henry Ford

When we finally get to the point where we have fixed ourselves one or several goals, it is always difficult to stick to them. Keeping the potential end result in view is hard when you have to do it on your own. So the best way to stick to your goals is to tell people about them and get them to help you.


Want to quit smoking? Run a marathon? Loose weight?

You might want to get in the help of Stickk.com. This website allows you to select your goal, set the stakes, pick a referee and invite your friends to cheer you on. If you want to increase your chances of sticking to your goal, commit to a money stake. Let's say you want to loose 20 pounds in 20 weeks. You commit to 10$ a week and pay 200$. If you manage to loose what you said you would you get the money back. For every pound not lost in a certain week, the money will be deducted and given to the recipient you designated. So you can even connect this to a good cause.

On the site you report on your regular progress, your referee can monitor your progress and give tips, and your friends can cheer you on.

My goal is to enter my goal into Stickk.com...as soon as I get around to it :-)

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There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly - Buckminster Fuller

>> 5 November 2008


I have recently learned that one of my colleagues at work has cancer. As usual, a card is circulated and people are kindly asked to contribute a few coins for a gift. As colleagues however, we don't know a person well enough to choose an appropriate gift. 

So I figured we should do something a little more creative and create a gift from scratch. I gathered a few willing but doubting colleagues around a table and we painted a few small canvasses that are to be joined into a bigger picture. Not great art, but a personal way to wish this colleague all the best and show that we are really thinking of him - enough to free up some time and be creative.
Many of these colleagues were willing because I am just good at convincing :-) or because they felt they kind of had to... Some of them were moaning 'Oh but I am not creative at all'. And I found it difficult to open their eyes and tell them that everyone is because creativity really is no big deal.

The following day, Christine Kane's email pops into my mailbox which explains just that. So I shared it with my colleagues and want to share it with you as well. So enjoy reading and be creative!

***************************************


Creativity isn't a big deal.

It's like our breath. It's just a part of who we are.

Everyone knows this truth, but most people pretend that Creativity (with a capital C) is something special. 

People who say, "Oh, I'm not Creative," or "I don't have a Creative bone in my body," sound like they're trying to convince themselves of something, rather than telling themselves the truth

They make Creativity a BIG DEAL because, by doing so, they keep it safely out of reach. It then requires nothing of them, except to occasionally utter the phrase, "Oh, I'm not Creative!" 

These people are often a little disappointed when I teach them what they pretend they don't already know:

· Creativity isn't a big deal.

· Creativity is not an event.

· Creativity doesn't so much happen, as it is allowed. 


This is boring. It's unimpressive. And it's also why so few people Live Creative. It requires presence and practice and allowing. And really, these aren't very exciting things. (Unless you've experienced them! Then you know they are!)

Canine Creativity Class 

When I found my dog, she'd been badly abused. I was walking on a gravel road, and she was watching me from a mound of dirt in an old churchyard where she'd been dumped. 

She started to follow me. 

Each time I turned around, she'd stop dead in her tracks. 

When I tried to walk towards her, she'd tuck her tail under her butt and slink away from me. 

But when I just continued along my way, she followed me. She eventually got closer and closer. Ultimately she followed me home. 

This is how I experience Creativity. 

If I try to turn around and catch it, it turns away. Living Creative is not about willing it or grabbing it. In fact, Creativity rarely takes to announcements like, "Today I'm gonna be Creative! I'm gonna write a novel!" 

It's a process. It's a way of being. And though it can't be forced, it can be cultivated and allowed.It thrives when you're already open, and your mind is receptive and quiet. There's almost a joyful laziness to it. 

So, in the spirit of making Creativity a No-Big-Deal part of our lives, here is my #1 favorite no-big-deal Creativity Tip... 

Christine's Favorite Creativity Tip: Carry a Tiny Spiral Notebook 

Get some tiny spiral notebooks. 

Carry one in your car. Carry one in your purse. Bring one along in your back pocket. Keep one next to your bed. 

Songwriters call them Hook Books. It's a place to write down lyric ideas, especially the "hooky" song titles. 

But you don't have to be a songwriter - or even a writer - to use this tool. Here's why: 

We all have great ideas. We all hear funny comments worth remembering. We all notice breath-taking moments

When we actually take the time to jot them down in our tiny notebooks, then we're honoring these ideas and these moments. We are essentially telling our subconscious mind that our creativity matters enough to take action on it. And we're letting it know that it's no big deal. Our subconscious mind gets the message, and begins its work of noticing new things and generating new ideas. 

When we keep a tiny notebook, we are training our minds to Attract Ideas. Each time we put an idea or a moment on paper, it's like shouting "Yes!" to our Creativity. 

It doesn't matter if we DO anything with the note or the hook or the idea. It's easy for your logical brain to step in and say "Yea but will it pay the bills? Will it lead to a novel?" (In other words, will it be a BIG DEAL?) 

Maybe. 

But there are some definite things that this practice will do: 

· It will teach you how to be an "Idea Magnet."

· It will show you that there are many solutions inside of you. 

· It will train you to recognize what delights you and brings you deep joy. 

· It will build your relationship to your Creative Self. 


Don't be fooled by the simplicity of this tip. Over time, you'll begin to feel the profound effects it has on your life.


Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her 'LiveCreative' weekly ezine with more than 4,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at www.christinekane.com.

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Stop Bush From Taking a Last Stab at Endangered Species

The National Environmental Policy Act is a safeguard that forces agencies to look before they leap, considering the environmental implications of federal projects. It guarantees that relevant information will be made available to the public that may play a role in both the decision-making process and the implementation of decisions. But the Bush administration, trying to hastily shove the regulation changes to the Endangered Species Act through before it leaves office, is disregarding the safeguards put in place -- its new Environmental Assessment completely ignores the impact of climate change and pretends there are no alternatives to changing the Endangered Species Act. Additionally, the administration is giving the public only until this Thursday -- November 6th -- to comment. Don't let the Bush administration ignore the impacts of its decisions just because it's in its final days.

Take action now: Submit your comments today.

Visit here to take action.

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Word of the year

>> 4 November 2008


Christine Kane introduced me to an interesting way to start a new year. She started a ritual called "A word a year". The idea is to pick a word which you will focus on over the course of the coming year. The word is to guide you throughout the year, be a touchstone to remind you to live your life at what she calls the BE level.

She has once again launched the process of picking such a word for next year. And since her email I have been throwing words around in my head. The process of picking one is tough :-)

Here's my first brainstorming list:
  • Creativity: I really want and need to be more creative. It is not only fun but releases a lot of stress and centers me. Creativity for me is: painting, photography, writing. The problem is usually finding the Time and staying Focused
  • Focus: I lack focus. I seem to be doing a zillions things at once becoming deviated from what I initially started doing, hence I am not finishing anything. This goes with Discipline and Order.
  • Effortlessness: goes with Flow. Sometimes everything seems just so complicated and stressed out that it gets blocked. And I am usually the one making it complicated...
  • Serenity: I need to be able to find my inner calm and peacefulness in order not to get overwhelmed by stress and be ME, be the best person I can be to my family.
  • Presence: as in living in the NOW. Profiting from every single moment as if it were my last. Not thinking about the zillion other things I still need to do before it gets dark. This goes with Be, Awareness, Attention and Listen. I have issues with that. But I do notice that I stop from time to time to breathe, watch a bird fly. When I drove home from work today, lots of brown leaves were falling from the trees as if someone had shaken the tree for me to watch the spectacle of nature. I slowed my car down and just watched. And it was so beautiful, so in that moment, that I had tears in my eyes. When I was running this afternoon, I stopped to catch my breath (I haven't been running for 3 weeks - bad girl) and watched the surrounding hills, the blue sky with the fluffy clouds, breathed in the tepid, leafy autumn air and felt this big feeling of joy rise up in me. Those moments make my day.
  • Exercise: I have had two kids in 2 years, am about to turn 39 and my body needs to be treated differently. It needs to be pampered but also serviced like a good old car. And exercise (running, muscle training, pilates...) is what I need. It not only does my body good, it also caters for my spirit and makes me feel good and happy.
As is common for me, many ideas pop out and I lack focus :-)
I think I need to ponder over these a little more.

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