Non-Profits I Love

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I happen to be a fool for non-profits, I just love so many of them. That is why I plan on doing non-profit work after I graduate from law school in May 2013. This is going to be an ongoing list of some that I have found recently and love. I am sure I’m forgetting others I support too! I also recently became a member of Crowdrise.com, which is another awesome way to learn about causes and organizations.

Crowdrise

Big Brothers Big Sisters

I Am That Girl 

Dalit Freedom Network

Polaris Project

To Write Love On Her Arms

Invisible Children

Make a Wish Foundation

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Surfrider Foundation

Love146

Do Something

Pencils of Promise

The Art of Elysium

Fuc* Cancer

Malaria No More

The Global Orphan Project

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An Article Worth Sharing

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I always wish I could be more creative or “artsy.” I have a lot of friends who are very fashionable and great at creating things, but I have always been a performance artist only. In fact, I used to hate art class only because I would get mediocre grades for my awful drawings. So this article is great for anyone like me, who wishes they could be more creative.

21 Ways to Be More Creative

Written by Christine Kane

Creativity isn’t a big deal. It’s like our breath. It’s just a part of who we are. Some of us don’t realize this. People who say, “Oh, I’m not creative,” or “I don’t have a creative bone in my body,” sound to me like they’re trying to convince themselves of something, rather than telling themselves the truth. They make the idea of creativity a BIG DEAL because then it will stay safely at arm’s length out of reach and require nothing of them.

Again, creativity isn’t a big deal. It’s not an event. It doesn’t so much happen, as it is allowed. It comes out slowly.

When I found my dog, she had been badly abused. I was walking in the countryside, and she was watching me from a mound of dirt in an old church yard where she had been dumped. She started to follow me. If I turned around, she’d stop. If I tried to walk towards her, she’d tuck her tail under her butt and walk away from me. But if I moved along on my own way, she’d follow me. She eventually got closer and closer, and ultimately she followed me home.

This is how I experience creativity. Anytime I try to turn around and catch it, it turns away. It’s not about willing it. It rarely takes to announcements like, “Today I’m going to be creative! I’m going to write a whole song!”

In my experience, it’s a process. It is slow. Creativity is a way of being, and though it can’t be forced, it can be cultivated and allowed. It happens when I’m already open and my mind is receptive and quiet. There’s almost a joyful laziness to it. Kind of a “Hmm, well, what if I tried this…”

There is definitely a happiness to it. A deep happiness and peace. My theory is that when we cling to our vices, when we do unhealthy things that we adamantly say we deserve, what we’re really trying to do is give ourselves what we keep denying ourselves – a fully creative and artful life. Once we start allowing more creativity in, we might find some of those old habits and “vices” just fall away. After all, they are not a substitute for the real thing.

So, if you’re opening up to a more artful and creative life, know that it’s not something to push. It’s something to allow and live. Here are 21 Ways to be more creative, and subsequently, more happy!

1 – Stop watching television

Or better yet, get rid of the damn thing. Any time I teach writing or creativity, this is one of the biggies. TV is a mind-killer. It numbs you. It fills you with emotionally-charged images and over-simplified solutions. It dulls you. Turn it off. Even if this idea scares you, turn it off.

2 – Take a 20-minute walk everyday

It’s easy to become driven about exercise. You go to the Y. You go running. You think that a 20-minute walk isn’t productive or worth much. Take a 20-minute walk and allow the world to just be. Watch things. Stop and smell things. Notice birds. Let the world unfold and show itself to you.

3 – Write with pen & paper (or pencil and paper)

Keep a journal. Do morning pages. Write in long-hand. Typing on a keypad into a computer doesn’t always open up that tactile sense-loving part of us that loves to create.

I can sometimes get weirdly happy just hearing the sound the pen makes scribbling on paper. I also love it when the paper is thin, and my pen makes indents so it feels sort of Braille-y, and the paper makes a snappy sound when I turn the page.

4 – Write songs to your pets

At the first women’s retreat I ever facilitated, (at a college campus in St. Louis) a group of women sat on the floor one night in the dorm and sang each other the songs we’d written to our various pets. It was hysterical. The more we sat there, the more women came and sat down with us.

I’ve written many songs to my dog. Greatest hits include “Mom’s Little Girl,” “She Is Going to Be a Very Clean Girl,” (a bathtub song) and “She is Unbelievably Cute.” Of course, there’s also the “Good Morning Song.” My cats each have their own songs too. I actually make myself laugh as I’m creating them because my animals look so truly unimpressed with me.

It’s easy to do because you can do it anywhere – while you drive to work, while you make dinner, while you lie on the couch with them.

5 – Dance around the House

Put on old disco (Earth, Wind, and Fire, baby!), or new Madonna, or swing. Put it on loud. Dance around your house while you make dinner. Or start the day shakin’ your groove thang.

6 – Walk in the rain

I haven’t owned an umbrella in about 10 years. I love the rain. I love walking in it. I wrote the songEverything Green after I hiked in the mountains in the pouring rain. I was journaling about how alive everything was, and I wrote “It was all just rain and mud and wild and green.” That’s how I got my CD title. Walking in the rain can be a happy thing. (Use an umbrella if you want. Rain on umbrellas makes a good sound.)

7 – Make a collage

Magazines. Some Yes Paste. A scrapbook page and lots of crayons and paints and stickers. (And thou.) This isn’t a vision board. It doesn’t have a purpose. It’s just for fun and beauty and making something. I love collaging. I’m not great at it. But I’ve gotten better and better at laying out the page and learning what colors and shapes I love. I always feel more alive when I do one.

8 – Make a list of things you love

My song Loving Hands (on my first CD) was born out of a journal exercise I did where I just wrote a long list of all the things I love. That song remains one of my most requested songs. I had so much fun thinking of things that delight me in the world. Finding feathers, finding pennies, the sound of big flags flapping in the wind, the smell of my cat’s fur when she’s been out in the snow (she smells like a big box of wool mittens). I remember reading it to a friend of mine who just sat there smiling and nodding his head. Even though this was years ago, I still remember how much fun I had making that list.

9 – Write 10 postcards

Go pick out some really cool postcards, and then go to a cafe somewhere, and order your Genmaicha Tea (Okay, get yourself a Latte if you want) and write postcards to friends and family.

10 – Get up early and watch the sun rise

11 – Listen to music you’ve never listened to before.

After I saw the movie Tortilla Soup, I downloaded a bunch of Latin music from iTunes. One of my favorite nights in my memory this year was a hot rainy night thick with humidity. My husband and I opened up all the windows and doors. We pressure cooked (I love our pressure cooker) some black beans, shared a froo-froo mixed drink and made a fantastic dinner while all of my new Latin and Tejano music was cranked up. It was one of those really happy nights, partly because I loved discovering new music.

12 – Eat with your hands

Be a kid again. Make a meal and put the silverware back into the drawers. Eat with your hands. Have some friends over for a silverwareless dinner.

13 – Be quiet

Light a few candles after dark and just sit. Don’t meditate if you don’t want to. Just sit quietly and listen. Watch the candles. Allow for more silence in your life.

We are a noisy people. I hear people say they can’t stand silence. But it is in silence where we can hear the voice of our creativity. Maybe not at first. But it will come.

Drive with no music on. Make dinner in silence. Pay attention to your hands as you slice the veggies. Just be quiet.

14 – Take a nap

15 – Take photos. Real photos. Not digital photos.

My favorite camera is a Pentax K1000. It’s completely manual, and it’s how I learned to take pictures. I’m not very good. When I first moved to Asheville, I used to walk around town on Sundays (the whole town was closed up then) and take pictures of all the buildings. These photos are now a treasure to me because nothing is the same anymore. (Every building has been bought, remodeled and now is filled with stores that sell trickly fountains, Buddahs, and things that smell grassy.)

Take pictures of anything. And have fun in the old method of actually getting your film developed and the excitement of flipping through photos you haven’t seen yet.

16 – Make an event out of watching the full moon come up

One of the things I love about my husband is that he’s always looking for the perfect place to watch the full moon come up. He’ll make an event out of it. We pile in the car and go to this one field or to a bench on the college campus and sit and watch the moon rise.

17 – Read poetry aloud

Poetry is meant to be read aloud. The words and phrases will tilt your brain and open doors like you never thought they would. My favorites: Mary Olivere.e. cummingsRumiPablo Neruda,Sharon OldsBarbara Brooks, and Alicia Suskin Ostriker. There are lots of collections of poetry if you don’t want to pick just one.

18 – Go see a play or live music or live anything

Get out of the house and experience creativity. Avoid mega-blockbuster-Hollywood movies whose trailers begin with the deep gravelly voice saying, “IN A WORLD…” (And then bombs go off and Mel Gibson appears)

Live performance is an exchange. As an audience member you get to participate. I know this because I perform. Every night is different. Everything is about the audience. You receive so much more energy from live shows. Go see the symphony, even the small local symphony. See a play. See some improv. There is so much life on a stage, so many improvisational moments, so much about authenticity. You can’t help but take it in.

19 – Visit a gallery

See another artist’s creation. The downtown of any city is bound to have some great galleries. You don’t have to buy anything. Just experience the artistry of someone gifted in glass blowing or pottery or woodwork.

20 – Write a letter

When was the last time you wrote a letter? I just got a long letter from one of the women who participated in my last retreat. It was funny. And it was fun to read. And I kept thinking, “Damn. It’s been too long since I’ve experienced this.” Every time I write a letter, I feel clearer and happier. Not only is it more fun to make something for someone else, it’s also just a way to get out of yourself.

21 – Stop watching television

This is an important one. It bears repeating. There are so many better things you can do than watch American Idol.

Help each other out! Leave your own thoughts or ideas in the comments…

5 Things to Learn from Sophia Bush

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I have got an absolute girl-crush on Sophia Bush. Ok, maybe not really, but I think she is such an inspirational and beautiful woman. And given that this is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week 2012, I think “SB” is the first woman I want to highlight as being a stand-out. There are a few things that ladies, young and old, could learn from her.

(1) Spread the Love.

Sophia is extensively involved in charity work. She has raised over $210,000 for various organizations through www.crowdrise.com–a pretty sweet way to raise money for your favorite “causes” online. She won a contest sponsored by Mozilla Firefox for raising the most money for the catchy charity “F Cancer.”. Like myself, she is passionate about Louisiana and Africa, and she has done tons of work for the Gulf Coast, including a half-marathon. Among the numerous charities she supports is Art of Elysium, Pencils for Promise, and my absolute favorite: I Am That Girl. You get the picture. She’s using her success to promote truly respectable organizations.

(2) Be  Comfortable in Your Own Skin

As a supporter of I Am That Girl, Sophia seems to understand the negative affects that the media has on our youth, but she is not one to cave in to pressure. I don’t think we’ll ever see her on the cover of a tabloid with protruding ribs, seemingly yearning for a cheeseburger. She is curvy and healthy, exactly what a woman should be. And exactly what every man in America thinks is sexy.

(3) Aint Nothing Wrong with Being Mouthy

Unless my perception skills have waned, I do not see SB as the timid, sweetie-pie type. She says what’s on her mind, but does so with class. She has spoken out about her support for gay marriage and the keystone XL pipeline. Also, see her hilarious “Mob Wives” rendition on Funny Or Die. Really, go watch it.

(4) Attitude of Gratitude

If you follow Sophia on twitter, you see that she is constantly acknowledging the people she loves and admires. She is a passionate advocate and seems to have some solid friends, whose talent she is always raving about. Everyone knows that you can’t get to the top unless you’ve had some help along the way, and SB makes sure that her friends know how much she appreciates them.

(5) Friends CAN Disagree

This is something I have learned from paying attention to SB’s twitter: You can disagree on fundamental political beliefs with someone, and still be friends. However, in articulating your own political beliefs, it is vital that you know WHY you feel that way. This is what I love about Sophia Bush, and weirdly is probably my favorite thing about her (next to her charity work.) If forced to classify myself, I would say I’m conservative/libertarian…but I’m a “new type of conservative.” SB is definitely more liberal, but she is knowledgable as to why she believes what she does. I believe that one of the biggest problems we face in 2012, without truly recognizing it, is our inability to maintain friendships with people who believe differently than us. For some reason, we think that we have to stick to our “own kind.” This is nonsense. In order to strengthen your beliefs and be more open-minded it is vital that you find common ground with people who disagree with you. This is part of becoming a person who exercises enthusiasm, and not judgment. I love Sophia Bush because she can articulate what she believes, and why, but she doesn’t express herself by belittling others. Now that’s a friend I’d love to have in my corner.

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2012!

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Today is the first day of NEDA Week 2012! I always look forward to this week each year. It is a week for me to be proud of how far I have come, and a week for me to be rejuvenated in my quest to be healthy in the future. You see, an eating disorder is not like the stomach flu or a common cold. It is a disease. Once you truly have an “eating disorder,” you really have it for the rest of your life. It never just goes away. It’s always there to remind you that you have a long road ahead of you. BUT, you can beat it. How do I know this? Because I did…

 

Reasons to Love & Save Pandas!

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Article

Reasons to Love and Save Pandas


Panda bear
With a panda bear’s teddy bear appearance, it is impossible not to gush over an adorable panda bear photo. So get ready to fall in love, and get the urge to save these furry black and white bears.

Love Panda Bears

  • Cubs are playful animals that learn survival skills from their mothers. When they become adults, their distinguishable color combination appears.
  • They are all white with the exception of their black ears, legs, tear drop shaped circles around their eyes, and a strip from their arms to their back.
  • Panda Bears are located at the top of Yangtze Basin, a small mountain area in central China filled with bamboo. Their diet consists of bamboo, eating an outstanding 30 to 45 pounds of it a day.
  • A male panda bear’s average height is about two-three feet tall when standing on all four legs and weighs from 175-250 pounds. Females are a half a foot shorter and weigh from 150-225 pounds.
  • Although panda bears may be big,they are as friendly as they look. Well, except when you mess with their cubs.

Save Panda Bears

  • There are less than 1600 panda bears in the world, meaning they are endangered species on the brink of extinction.
  • Panda bears usually only give birth to one cub at a time, making it harder to keep them from becoming extinct.
  • Humans contribute by hunting panda bears because of their unique fur and color.
  • Global warming, farming and deforestation are reasons for their endangerment.
  • With a diminishing habitat, it has become harder and harder for giant panda bears to obtain bamboo.
Sources:

Why I Quit Watching the VS Fashion Show

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http://www.modelsblog.info/2011/11/08/adriana-lima-extreme-dieting/?utm_source=crowdignite.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=crowdignite.com

 ADRIANA LIMA EXTREME DIETING

Adriana Lima, 30, recently revealed to the Telegraph what it actually takes to be a Victoria’s Secret angel. The girls aren’t born looking like perfection and have to work extremely hard to get that perfect body. Contrary to what some might believe, strict dieting and intense routine workouts are a must to be able to attain that supermodel figure. Lima goes into detail to explain what goes on in the days and weeks leading up to the show.

She has a personal trainer that works out with her every single day and has been since August. Her workouts have moved up to twice a day during the last three weeks. She explains that “It is really intense, it’s not really the amount of time you spend working out, it’s the intensity: I jump rope, I do boxing, I lift weights, but I get bored doing that. If I am not moving I get bored very easily.” Lima also sees a nutritionist that details every part of her body including muscle mass and fat ratio. Nine days before the show she gives up all solids and only drinks protein shakes along with a gallon of water a day. 12 hours before the show happens, Lima will not drink anything at all. The chief stylist for the show Sophia Neophitou, says that “It’s like they’re training for a marathon.”

Although the work is very tough, and the workout grueling, Lima explains that it is all worth it in the end because of the notoriety you get from being in the show. ”It opens up so many doors, everyone knows your name, the whole world knows you now,” she says ”Any model in this world would love to be an Angel.”

Read More: Telegraph