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Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP


“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close-up.” Chuck Palahniuk

Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP - A macro shot favorite combo of mine. Dragonfly and Bees on flowering plants

Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP – A macro shot favorite combo of mine. Dragonfly and Bees on flowering plants

Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP - A macro shot fav of mine. Bees on a sunflower that isn't fully open.

Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP – A macro shot favorite of mine. Bees on a sunflower that isn’t fully open.

Every shot is unique, even if it’s just a close-up, an insert of your hand. You’ve got to work with the guy behind the lens to get it right, focus in. Those are critical little nothing things, but you’ve got to work with the people who are trying to put it down, in order to get it. Robert Forster

Tempus fujit! I just spent all day taking care of some matters and found out about the challenge a few minutes ago. You might have seen my shots before but I love them and for an up close shot of the details we see mainly with a focused lens, I hope these fit the bill for you.

“A close-up on screen can say all a song can.” Stephen Sondheim

Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP - A macro shot favorite of mine. squirrel eating a nut

Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP – A macro shot favorite of mine. squirrel eating a nut

Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP - A macro shot favorite of mine. squirrel eating a nut and  a water lily

Weekly Photo Challenge: CLOSE UP – A macro shot favorite of mine. squirrel eating a nut and a water-lily

I don’t like, and I’ve never been very good at, close-up shots. As soon as you have the camera right there in front of you, it feels like you’re in a different reality from the person you are acting with; you lose any real connection with them. Eve Best

The squirrel was determined to eat that nut and stared right back at me. Thank you for checking and I’ll find a few more to add to the mix later. Have a great weekend!

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Reflections: The Price Of Bigotry


“Don’t think for one minute that you are any less worthy of love and peace and harmony just because of all the hate spewed by human devils. Because that is what those haters are, you know, devils!” Scylar Tyberius, Sebastian the Great

Reflections: The Price Of Bigotry

Reflections: The Price Of Bigotry

Reflections: The Price Of Bigotry

Reflections: The Price Of Bigotry

“My request today is simple. Today. Tomorrow. Next week. Find somebody, anybody, that’s different than you. Somebody that has made you feel ill-will or even hateful. Somebody whose life decisions have made you uncomfortable. Somebody who practices a different religion than you do. Somebody who has been lost to addiction. Somebody with a criminal past. Somebody who dresses “below” you. Somebody with disabilities. Somebody who lives an alternative lifestyle. Somebody without a home.
Somebody that you, until now, would always avoid, always look down on, and always be disgusted by.
Reach your arm out and put it around them.
And then, tell them they’re all right. Tell them they have a friend. Tell them you love them. Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

It diminishes us all
It costs lives: Bigotry = Death
WE become Invisible to each other
It perpetuates lies and stereotypes
It builds bridges of hatred

Have you ever experienced bigotry/discrimination? How did it make you feel? Call it whatever you wish, bigotry, discrimination or just hatred of others is poisonous and leads to conflict and chaos. Emma Goldman once shared that “it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think,” and that is true. Until we stop condemning and hating each other, bigotry would never end. When we cast aspersions over an entire group and judge them through a narrow lens, it diminishes us all and our claim to being reasonable, intelligent people. Bigotry is not intelligent behavior; it is often based on fear, lack of understanding, and assumptions about others and their way of life.  If we stopped to consider our collective humanity and the fact that our actions have a tremendous impact on everyone in our path, including our loved ones, we might be a bit more mindful of such acts of hatred.

On Thursday evening, after a long day of blogging conference meet ups, I took the subway down to 14th Street in the hopes of catching a cab to the parking lot, near the Chelsea Piers, where I had left my car. My bags were very heavy and, as cab after available cab sped by, my heart sunk. I came to the realization that I would have to either wait for a crosstown bus that was nowhere in sight or walk to the garage before they closed their doors and doubled my fees. I walked. I walked and walked, never giving up hope of finding a cab to get me to the garage. My bags left welts on both shoulders and, by the time I got to the garage, my right shoulder was bruised and bleeding. I have the bruises on my shoulders as proof of that terrible evening. To me, they are a painful reminder that we have a long way to go in healing the hatred and misinformation we hold about each other around the globe.

Does the subject of Bigotry make you uncomfortable? WHY? If this post makes you uncomfortable, I suggest you pause and consider why. Wishing bigotry away, won’t make it go away. What are we feeding our hearts/minds about each other privately? What are we teaching our children about people who don’t look or live like us? Remaining silent won’t make it go away. You don’t have to demonstrate, you can start with what makes you most comfortable — speak out. Write. Challenge it in your home, your neighborhood, amongst your friends/family. Doing nothing = NOTHING!

Needless to say, the garage doubled my fees because I made it there five minutes after the appointed time. Initially, I was furious. Then a pained sadness settled in my spirit. Why would any cabbie assume that EVERY well dressed female of color wants to hurt them? Why would any of us assume that people who don’t look like us or hold our beliefs don’t deserve to live? Why would any of us assume that people who don’t look like us or hold our beliefs are out to get us? How did we get to this place of paranoia?

“Do you know what we call opinion in the absence of evidence? We call it prejudice.” Michael Crichton, State of Fear

Reflections: The Price Of Bigotry

Reflections: The Price Of Bigotry

Definition: Bigotry -The concept of Bigotry can have slightly different meanings in American and British English.
In British English it refers to a state of mind where a person is obstinately, irrationally, or unfairly intolerant of ideas, opinions, or beliefs that differ from their own, and intolerant of the people who hold them.[1][2]
In American English, the term can be used similarly; however, it can also be used to refer to intolerance towards a group of people in general based on their group characteristics such as race, religion, national origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status.[3][4] via Wikipedia

It dehumanizes us all
It costs lives: Bigotry = Death
WE become Invisible to each other
It perpetuates lies and stereotypes
It builds bridges of hatred

What stops us from gaining clarity over bigotry? Bigotry is a sad, human quality that poisons us all. On Thursday evening, I joined a long line of folks who have had the pathetic, discriminatory experience of being snubbed by a slew of empty NYC yellow cabs because of what we look like. The Mayor of San Juan had a taste of it, and so have other folks; many of them minorities. Before you jump to their defense, let me be the first to say that there are lots of hardworking and fair cabbies who routinely pick up fares to places that make them uncomfortable. In many instances, nothing goes wrong. Unfortunately, there is a percentage that, like rotten, sour apples, gives the rest a bad name.

Unless you live under a rock, you know that we’ve all read/heard/seen new reports of bigoted behavior that led to the death of a long list of men and women. It is harrowing, unconscionable and tragic. When we see each other as less than human, we become invisible, and our longstanding stereotypes take hold over our common sense. All of us need to hit the pause button, set aside our prejudices and self-hatred, and start thinking of the humanity in each of us. WE might not agree on the same things but, we all bleed and we have people who love us deeply. Before lashing out at someone who doesn’t fit your vision of “human and good,” imagine how you’d feel if that hatred was directed at your family, your child, your parents, or even your beloved pet…  Would you kick your child to the ground or refuse your loved one a ride?

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Motivation Mondays: WEALTH


“The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.” Charles Kuralt

Motivation Mondays: WEALTH

Motivation Mondays: WEALTH – What do we cherish most?

Motivation Mondays: WEALTH - What do we cherish most?

Motivation Mondays: WEALTH – What do we cherish most?

For a successful entrepreneur it can mean extreme wealth. But with extreme wealth comes extreme responsibility. And the responsibility for me is to invest in creating new businesses, create jobs, employ people, and to put money aside to tackle issues where we can make a difference. Richard Branson
What material success does is provide you with the ability to concentrate on other things that really matter. And that is being able to make a difference, not only in your own life, but in other people’s lives. Oprah Winfrey

What does WEALTH mean to you? While many might immediately think of material things, the great sages and philosophers have always said that contentment is true wealth. When we add to that, the love of family, friends, freedom and good health, we begin to see a new picture emerge that outweighs gold and all the material things we crave. There is nothing wrong with having material wealth but it has limitations and, unless we put it to good use by helping others, it remains just a shiny pot of glorified riches that serve us alone. We all need to be able to provide for our families; we work, strive, and accomplish goals so that our lives can become comfortable. However, if we perform all these actions with only the thought of gaining acquisitions, we will wake up one day, alone, surrounded by our Midas Touch riches and not much else to show for it.

How should we use our Wealth? Be motivated to use your wealth and effort for the good of mankind. We don’t have to struggle with the fear/idea that we might not be able to lift up everyone. Imagine this: If each of us lifted the next person standing beside us, at the end of the day, our collective actions will send reverberations around the world that will affect billions in a positive way. Start small and pass it forward. Be content with what you can do, be grateful for what you do have and be helpful to others (especially to strangers),  and the rest will gradually make sense to us. With great wealth comes even greater responsibilities and, unless we understand that our wealth ought to be used to help others, we won’t experience that deep inner feeling of contentment.


A Story: The StoneCutter’s Plight
Once upon a time there was a stonecutter. Each day he went up to the mountains to cut stones. And while he worked he sang, for though he was a poor man, he desired no more than he had, so he had not a care in the world.
One day he was called to work on the mansion of a nobleman. When he saw the magnificence of the mansion, he experienced the pain of desire for the first time in his life and he said with a sigh, “If only I were rich! Then I would not have to earn my living in sweat and toil as I do now.”
Imagine his astonishment when he heard a voice say, “Your wish has been granted. Henceforth, anything you desire will be given to you.” He did not know what to make of the words till he returned to his hut that evening and found in its place a mansion as magnificent as the one he had been working on. So the stonecutter gave up cutting stones and began to enjoy the life of the rich.
One day when the afternoon was hot and humid, he happened to look out his window and saw the King go by with a large retinue of noblemen and slaves. He thought, “How I wish I were a King myself, sitting in the cool of the royal carriage!” His wish was promptly carried out and he found himself reclining in the comfort of the royal carriage. But the carriage turned out to be warmer than he had assumed it to be.
He looked out of the carriage window and began to marvel at the power of the sun, whose heat could penetrate even the thick walls of the carriage. “I wish I were the sun,” he said to himself. Once again his wish was granted and he found himself sending out waves of light and heat into the universe.
All went well for a while. Then on a rainy day, he attempted to pierce through a thick bank of clouds and could not. So he got himself changed into a cloud and glorified in his power to keep the sun away — till he turned into rain and found, to his annoyance, a mighty rock that blocked his path so he was obliged to flow around it.
“What?” he cried. “A mere rock more powerful than I? Well, then I wish to be a rock.” So there he was standing tall upon a mountainside. He barely had time to rejoice in his fine figure, however, when he heard strange clipping sounds proceeding from his feet. He looked down and, to his dismay, found a tiny human being sitting there engaged in cutting chunks of stone from his feet.
“What?” he shouted. “A puny creature like that more powerful than an imposing rock like me? I want to be a man!” So he found he was once again a stonecutter going up into the mountain to cut stone, earning his living in sweat and toil but with a song in his heart because he was content to be what he was and to live by what he had. All Stories via Goodweb


“What you focus on expands, and when you focus on the goodness in your life, you create more of it. Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.” Oprah Winfrey

Motivation Mondays: WEALTH - What do we cherish most?

Motivation Mondays: WEALTH – What do we cherish most?

Motivation Mondays: WEALTH - What do we cherish most?

Motivation Mondays: WEALTH – What do we cherish most?

Humility is the true key to success. Successful people lose their way at times. They often embrace and overindulge from the fruits of success. Humility halts this arrogance and self-indulging trap. Humble people share the credit and wealth, remaining focused and hungry to continue the journey of success. Rick Pitino

What is the key to True Wealth? Sadly, we live in an acquisitive world where some folks believe that if they help their fellow-men/women, they would not have enough for themselves. When we operate from a place of greed, and view the world through a prism of limitation, we won’t necessarily end up with more. We might even lose out completely because our tightened fist prevents us from seeing that letting go and receiving just enough is the doorway to abundance. A tight fist prevents new and abundant opportunities from touching our lives and helping us grow. If you’ve ever studied Feng Shui, you’d know that placement of items in our home and knowing about our wealth corner are just a small part of the work you do. You must also understand the importance of clearing space to receive new and abundant opportunities.

Why help strangers and people we don’t even know/like? If we only focus on helping our cronies while excluding others, and making lame justifications about our exclusionary practices, we will remain in the same place – stuck in a cronyism rot with little growth and nothing new to help us learn and grow. As I’ve said elsewhere, being motivated is not just for our growth; it should be like the giving tree – opening opportunities for others to benefit and grow with us. As Rick and others quoted above have said, when we understand the true meaning of the uses of wealth, we recognize that it is about being both humble and helpful. We share our wealth so we too can become abundant in our growth; what some refer to as enjoying the inner riches of the soul.

A Story: The Greedy Monkey
A famous teacher took his pupils into a clearing in the forest that was known as a home for wild monkeys. There he took a hollow gourd with a small hole and inserted sweetened rice (a favorite of monkeys). Then he chained the gourd to a stake and waited with his class. Soon a very large monkey approached, sniffed the rice, inserted his paw, and screeched in frustration when he was unable to withdraw his paw (now a fist) through the narrow opening. Just then a leopard approached and hearing the monkey screeching decided to have monkey for his dinner. “Let go of the rice. Run!” screamed the pupils, but to no avail because the monkey in his hunger for the rice, refused to let go and was as a consequence caught and eaten by the leopard. “What was the trap that killed the monkey?” asked the master. “Rice,” said one student. “The ground,” said another. “No,” replied the wise teacher. “The trap was greed.” An Important Addendum: An old man says he complained only once in all his life — when his feet were bare and he had no money to buy shoes. Then he saw a happy man who had no feet. And he never complained again.

The details for Motivation Mondays are below. Join in! The themes for June and July are:
06/29 – TRUST

07/06 – FREEDOM
07/13 – WORRY
07/20 – WEALTH
07/27 – GRACE

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