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Life Lifters (282 posts)
Beauty the Eagle had her beak disfigured in 2005, when she was shot by a poacher. Set aside the grim symbolism of shooting an American Bald Eagle in the face, for a moment -- it's sad and brutal, yes. But what happened to Beauty is a lovely tonic. Jane Fink Cantwell, a raptor specialist at Idaho's Birds of Prey Northwest, has cared for Beauty all these years, through the hopes that her beak would grow back (it didn't) all the way to the near-unanimous call for euthanization (Cantwell refused). Beauty could not clean or feed herself, and so needed constant care and attention, and faced the possibility of never again living in the wild. Then, while giving a talk about Beauty, Cantwell met mechanical engineer Nate Calvin. Read the whole story in the Guardian for the amazing process Calvin used to fashion a prosthetic beak with a 3D printer.
The video below shows the process of fitting Beauty for her new beak. Watching it, especially the palpable nervousness of the poor confused bird, is a real nail-biter. But it worked, and Beauty was finally able clean and feed herself.
While the Guardian reports that Beauty has had problems with keeping the beak attached, to me the best part of the story is that so many people have worked so hard to help the eagle reclaim her life. "It's a story about a Bald Eagle becoming a teacher," Cantwell says. And knowing that her process of rehabilitation is ongoing is a good reminder to all of us. Transformation may not happen overnight, but it's the process, not necessarily the result, that has the most to teach us.
Saving Species on the Brink of Extinction
A Woman Who Devoted Her Life to Wolves
It's one of the more annoying aspects of growing up, but it's undeniable: at some point, you are forced to admit that many old saws turn out to be true. I almost gagged the first time a stranger said to me, as I walked with my 5-day-old firstborn, "The days are long, but the years are short!" And what do you know, a blink of an eye later, that kid is starting school. Wise Crone Stranger was totally right! Weird!
Speaking of aging quickly, how about going from 0-years-old to 100 in 150 seconds? This video is not only the most uplifting way ever to learn to count to 100 in Dutch, but also a beautiful portrait of time. Filmmaker Jeroen Wolf asked people on the streets of Amsterdam to look into the camera and say their ages. The result is a fascinating compendium of faces, of the different ways people show their age, as well as the different attitudes they have toward their age. Just watch the range of emotions with which these people say their ages: happy, resigned, proud, reluctant. (According the filmmaker, it took him nearly a year to complete the project, and the hardest person to find was the 99 year-old.)
Singapore's Secret to Aging Well
How One Actress Refused to Admit Her Age
You can't move very fast if you're carrying a lot of baggage. I try to remind myself of that every day. It's easy to get weighed down by bad stuff from your past--an accident, a difficult breakup, family issues, whatever. But if you're tied to the past, you're not going to get very far.
When I was lying in the hospital after the accident, my surgeon, Dr. DeLong, handed me some magazines about the Paralympics and told me to think about it. I had no idea what it would take to be an amputee, let alone a sprinter, let alone a gold medalist. But I told myself, "This is your new dream. Here it is. Take the first step."
Watch a video of April training for the Paralympics
What do a widow, a relief worker in Haiti, a homeless shelter director, and a grieving girlfriend have in common? In the case of singer/songwriter Alex Woodard's multimedia project "For the Sender," all four wrote letters that inspired him to write songs. In his new book he writes about how he was feeling adrift, trying to pursue his artistic dreams, feeling discouraged, and then on top of it all, mourning his dog/best friend, when a letter from a stranger changed everything. Along with a group of musician friends, Woodard set about turning this letter, and three others, into a series of songs. (Check out the official site for facsimiles of the letters and more about each letter-writer's story -- each heartbreaking in its own way.) Then he traveled to meet each letter-writer and perform their songs for them, in private concerts that were culminations of each woman's original act of reaching out.
The project is, in a way, the crystallization of the artistic process: the wordless pain Woodard felt when his dog died and he felt his life had stalled; how connecting with others helped to find both his musical voice and the stories he wanted to tell; then the final closing of the circuit, when he reconnected with his unlikely muses. It calls to mind the advice of the late, great Kurt Vonnegut: "Write to please just one person." When Alex Woodard found someone -- in this case, his letter-writers -- to create for, he found his reason to create.
I found the Haitian relief worker's story especially compelling -- learn more about her, and see some priceless footage of Haitian school kids enjoying an impromptu concert, in the video below:
Sharing the Work of Haiti's Artisans
How Creativity Can Be Applied to Anything
The Internet can be a dangerous place, particularly for wallets, particularly when you find yourself wandering down the virtual aisles of Etsy and other purveyors of lovelier-than-lovely t-shirts you are sure will express everything you mean to express about your appreciation for good design AND your philosophy on life, and before you know it, you've spent a bunch of money and have your budgetary tail between your legs. But how about if said extremely cute garment also contributed to providing safe shelter for sex trafficking victims, or bringing clean water to developing countries, or providing therapy for children with autism? Why, it might start to feel like a truly crucial addition to your wardrobe after all!
Sevenly is the brainchild of two young entrepreneurs, Dale Partridge and Aaron Chavez, who wanted to find a way of battling apathy in the face of widespread suffering. Sevenly's Ryan Wood told me, "Sevenly was developed around the belief that people matter. We figured that if we could just start getting people to give, then we could get them to care." So every week, they choose a cause they'd like to support, from battling poverty among Thai children to helping people suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. They assess the appropriate charities, find one they think is most effective, and then work with their team of designers to create the t-shirts. Each time someone buys a shirt, $7 (Get it? Sevenly?) goes to the charity of the week.
It's a clever concept, and one that's proving to be effective: check out the page of past campaigns and the amounts they've helped to raise. What an appealing way to do your good deed today, am I right?
Help For Kids Aging Out of Foster Care
A Social Network for Good Deeds
Boom Boom Cards Make Acts of Kindness Easy
This is because Cassandra found herself suffering a debilitating asthma attack that quickly escalated to something more, a mystery illness that caused her to feel faint, have difficulty breathing and then controlling her muscles, and finally to lose consciousness. But in a completely "wow"-inducing sequence (which she has pieced together from what others have told her), a man carried her off the train and then proceeded to, along with a cast of other good Samaritans, transport her to the hospital. Read the article for the responses Cassandra has gotten from her poster—though she still has not found the man who carried her to safety.
9 Day-Brightening Stories of Generosity
Doing a Good Deed Every Day
Above is a photo of La Tomatina, Spain's annual festival featuring music, parades, dancing and fireworks. Oh, and a giant battle involving about 30,000 people hurling tomatoes at one another. It's taking place today, but if you forgot to book your trip to Valencia, there's no law against staging a food fight in your own backyard tonight. And yes, tomatoes are in season, but you know what else is in season? Cake. Satisfying to throw, satisfying to get hit with, and definitely satisfying to scrape off your face and eat.
As an animal lover, I like to tell my dog about the interesting pet-related stories I come across on the Internet. "Look at this hard-working, life-saving, diabetes-sniffing Golden Retriever," I'll tell the snoring mound on the floor. Or else, "Wow, check out Faith, the amazing two-legged dog who learned to walk upright!" as my mutt diligently licks leftover applesauce off the baby's high chair. I just think she might be interested to know that dogs have amazing potential, and not just as farting foot-warmers. (Although I will say she excels at that.) But Lemon Pie is one dog I couldn't even tell my own under-acheiving pup about without getting choked up.
Lemon Pie lost his front paws in a uniquely horrifying way -- according to the BBC, they were chopped off by a Mexican gang as (brace yourself) practice. But thanks to some kind souls, Lemon Pie was rescued by an animal shelter and fitted with, amazingly, two prosthetic legs. You just have to watch the video, and see Lemon Pie galloping along on his new legs, to believe it. This dog is the picture of a survivor, and the people who rescued him, who saw fit to raise the $8000 for his artificial paws, portraits of what is right with the world.
Helping Victims of Domestic Abuse By Saving Their Pets
Saying Goodbye to a Furry Best Friend
Amazing Animal Updates
I was reminded of the power of cuteness recently when my husband extracted our daughter from a weepy fit by showing her a photo of a baby sloth. She stopped mid-whine, transfixed. "Why are its eyes so BIG?" she asked, her eyes getting really big as she forgot all about her angst. Thank you, baby sloth!
We all have those moments, those afternoons that seem to stretch on forever, those bad moods that won't burst. The world is a beautiful place, right, whatever, yadda yadda, but sometimes you just need an instant happiness-dose, an injection of adorability shot right into your heart. In short, a flying baby.
Sure, most baby photos are pretty cute, but Rachel Hulin's otherwordly shots of her son flying in midair bring the cuteness to a new level of whimsy. This is surely the sign of advancing cuteness technology. And that's not all -- Hulin has a children's book, Flying Henry, coming out in the spring. You baby sloths out there better get your game up. (via Shine)
Is Your Baby As Cute As You Think?
The Cutest Animal Videos
Unlikely (and Adorable) Friendships
Set that fear aside. Right. Maybe that's why I teared up when I saw this image of Annaleise Carr's parents embracing her after her historic swim. This bad-a** Canadian teenager just became the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario. In case you're unfamiliar with the great lakes, that is a very serious lake. Carr's swim took her 27 hours, and spanned 52.5 kilometers (or, in American, 32.6 miles), taking her from Niagara-on-the-lake in Southern Ontario to Toronto's Marilyn Bell park. (The park is named, by the way, for the first person to make that historic swim across Lake Ontario; Marilyn Bell completed her swim in 1954 at the advanced age of 16.)
And did I mention the swim took 27 hours? 27 hours of swimming. TWENTY-SEVEN. I can hardly stay awake for twelve in a row, but then again, I am a crusty old woman compared to this energetic creature, who reportedly was smiling, giving thumbs up, and playfully splashing the pacers throughout her epic swim.
In a CTV News video, Carr's beaming parents explained their reaction when she first brought up the idea: "No way. No chance." But, as kids tend to, she won them over, proving over months and months of training that she was serious about becoming the youngest person to ever make the long-distance swim. (For more on the swim and how she prepared for it, read the whole story at CTV.) Lucky for all of us that her parents were able to set aside their fear and let their baby dive into the wild waters: not only is Carr's swim inspirational as all get-out, but she did it to raise money for Camp Trillium, a camp for kids with cancer. As someone in the group cheering her arrival at Marilyn Bell park cried out, "Annaleise, you're a super hero!"
Diana Nyad's 33-Year-Old Dream of Swimming to Cuba
The World's Smallest Swimming Champ