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June 2012 (119 posts)
To be honest, I still find it unsettling to learn that landmarks and places that seem as permanent as California have the ability to up and leave us. And, like that wise fifth-grader I once knew, I like to take into account impending disappearances when planning my travel. Like so many aspiring adventurers, I've had trips to the Alps, the Galapagos Islands, and the Great Barrier Reef planned since I first cracked open a National Geographic Magazine. I just always figured, you know, later. When I'm old. Really old.
Then I saw this somewhat chilling infographic from Earth Xplorer: 10 Places to go Before They're Gone. Some of the most exciting travel destinations in the world are disappearing, some of them shockingly quickly. We might only have 25 years to visit the Congo Basin, 5 years for that bucket-list-worthy trip to the Taj Mahal. So check out this infographic, and map out some life travels accordingly. Here's a hint: visiting the cousins in California can wait.
Pick the Perfect Vacation Destination
10 Marvels of the World
Which is why I was happy to stumble upon the Snack Database, which launched in April and now has close to 200 entries. In an interview with Bon Appetit, the site's creator, Beau Johnson, says he would like the tool to be "ever-growing, documenting all snacks and perhaps aiding in the development of new ones." Clicking through the foods, from apples to banana pudding, is inspiring, though not because the photos are necessarily drool-worthy (they're simple graphic images) or the descriptions and tasting notes are enticing (though they're funny; about a peach, for instance, Johnson writes, "It has a very light orange colored interior and a seed in the center that resembles what the core of earth would look like if it were sliced in half.").
Johnson describes the database as "contemporary art, except with a grain of craft and usefulness." Or, as I prefer to think of it, a lookbook for snacks.
4 crunchy treats to go with a cup of tea or a glass of wine
Keep a few of these goodies in your purse at all times
The most ridiculously easy (and delicious) snack ever
I have received many rewarding and heartwarming comments from you about SUPER SOUL SUNDAY. I don't use the word rewarding loosely. Your feedback is vital, as well as encouraging and inspiring. This show symbolizes the reason why I wanted to stay in television and didn't glide off into the sunset on a boat somewhere after ending the 25 year run of The Oprah Show.
I wanted to use television to drop little pieces of Light into our consciousness. SUPER SOUL SUNDAY is the beginning of the fulfillment of that dream. A place where open minded "seekers" can gather to explore the multiple palettes of Spirituality. For me Spirituality means living your life with an open heart to Kindness, Grace, Gratitude, Forgiveness, Faith, Courage, Truth, Love and ultimately Divine Law.
So I'm officially calling all SEEKERS—those of you seeking Success, Happiness, Fulfillment, Joy. Those of you seeking more meaning and purpose, who have an understanding or even just an inkling that Life is grander, and more mysterious than we can ever know and you want to be aligned with the Mystery and the Magic that is our Universal birthright. If what I'm saying speaks to you at all, then please join me beginning this week for SUPER SOUL SUNDAY. We're creating a gathering of spiritual thought leaders, to stimulate and inspire us to move in the direction of our deepest heart's desire to learn from our mistakes and keep moving forward.
I met a young man a couple of months ago who's faith was so strong and Light was so bright, that after less than 7 minutes with him I said we need to do a show together. An unlikely candidate to be a spiritual thought leader, (he's a Hollywood executive) I was so moved by his passion and commitment to faith while functioning in the lion's den of entertainment I could hardly wait to do a SUPER SOUL SUNDAY and share his insights, clarity and wisdom with you. He's in the business of developing movies and talent, but as you will see, is a bonafied dynamo himself... a different kind of spiritual teacher for our times.
Here's a preview: http://www.oprah.com/own-super-soul-sunday/Preview-Devon-Franklin-on-Super-Soul-Sunday-Video
Thanks for watching. Join me for more on Sunday at 11/10c.
Each week, we'll be letting you know about new releases the editors at O and Oprah.com couldn't stop reading. This week, we're in love with the haunting new novel:
By Richard Ford
Parents are never the people we think they are, but in Richard Ford's awe-inspiring new novel, 15-year-old Dell Parsons and his twin sister, Berner, discover that their mother and father are bank robbers—and not particularly formidable ones either. Dad is a fast-talking Southern dreamer; Mom is a Jewish intellectual who married the flyboy who happened to get her pregnant. The two have clumsily executed their crime in an effort to save themselves from another botched scheme (involving stolen beef), and when they're taken in by the Montana police, Dell and Berner are left on their own to survive. Berner runs away to California in search of adventure, but Dell travels with a friend of his mother's to Canada, where he's given refuge by an eccentric inn owner. Here, the real danger begins, but knowing what happens in this book—or not—makes little difference in the reading of it. The laconic, grief-stricken voice of Dell, looking back on his past, trying to make some kind sense of what happened when his family imploded, keeps you turning pages, as do the quiet, thought-provoking revelations that Ford drops in throughout. "Loneliness..." he writes "is like being in a long line, waiting to reach the front where it's promised something good will happen. Only the line never moves..." There's no tidy conclusion to Dell's story, save that he manages to make a life for himself—and therein lies the question of this complex, masterful novel: Why do some of us drown under the weight of our past, while others of us recover? When he moves north to his new home in Saskatchewan, Dell says it was like "becoming someone else—but someone who was not stalling but moving, which was the nature of things in the world. I could like it or hate it, but the world would change around me no matter how I felt."
Sign up for Oprah's new (digital) book club
Find out why Oprah decided to start OBC 2.O
Catherine Shefski was one such perfectionist-procrastinator. An accomplished pianist, she realized that amidst teaching piano and living her life, she was overlooking her own piano playing. So she decided to start recording one piece of music every week, calling her project Go Play. The results are lovely bits of music (what is it about solo piano that always sounds so haunting, so perfectly happy-sad?) -- and to this (admittedly very untrained) ear, they sound, well, perfect. Shefski chronicles the process on her blog, where she's noted how nervous it makes her to post these songs, which are sometimes, surprise, just not as perfect as she wants. As she writes in one post, "It took a lot of will power this morning not to do 'just one more' recording of this Scarlatti Sonata... My goal was to finally learn this piece, since I’ve loved it for years. It’s not difficult by any means, but I’m never totally satisfied with the opening ornaments ...But there it is. I did it. It’s the best it is right now. And I’m putting it out there. I’m letting it go." The way Shefksi writes about playing piano makes me believe I love playing piano too, even though I've never mastered much beyond Chopsticks on a toy keyboard. But she loves what she does. And now, with this project, she is actually doing it.
You hear that, procrastinator-perfectionists? Put it out there. Let it go. And play.
Face Your Perfectionist
How to Reach Your Dreams
But what happens to these dog-babies when the young couples don't marry and have actual-babies? What happens when the couples break up? Marisa Meltzer and her boyfriend found themselves in this predicament when they split up, and decided to share custody of their dog, Chauncey. Meltzer writes for GOOD about how at first it worked out perfectly -- they lived across the street from one another and shared the dog. The dog was well-cared-for and happy, and Meltzer could sneakily keep tabs on her ex. Then her ex-boyfriend moved in with his new girlfriend, across town. Meltzer writes, "Only when Kevin stopped turning up in my apartment each afternoon was I able to understand that putting someone else’s needs first—the dog’s—required me to more closely monitor my own needs, too." Sharing the dog kept the two linked, which as anyone who's ever had an ex knows is part-nice and part-exhausting. But in the end, it was the dog's needs that allowed Meltzer to move on. She couldn't moon over her ex's new life. After all, she had a dog to take care of.
What a lucky dog-baby, first of all, to have people who love him so much. And also: how lucky we pet-owners are, to have these sweet animals around, teaching us lessons in forgiveness and moving on, helping us to practice varying emotional states, and being gracious enough, even after they've gone from being dog-babies to just plain dogs, to snuggle our feet on chilly evenings.
Loving Our Pets
Hello there, Friday! We're looking back on all the things that made this a great week!
12 ways to look at the Passage of Venus (no sunglasses required)
Random Hacks of Kindness: A techie way to make a big difference
A father's 45-day journey to overcome his grief—and the 150 people who met him at the finish line
Overtipping for a cause: Meet one lucky waiter
Fun with food: You'll never believe what you can make out of old potato peels
In one of the more absurd episodes of my often-absurd existence, I found myself locked in the famous Pére Lachaise cemetery in Paris, alone, at dusk. I know. Who knew it closed? Such is the life of 20-year-old monolingual American backpacker with her head up her, uh, in the clouds. I'd been so busy communing with the spirits of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, and the other heroes-of-a-20-year-old-American-backpacker-type, that I'd forgotten to check the time. And there I was, on the wrong side of the (lovely) gate, freaking the #$^* out. Despite the great story material, I decided I really would rather not spend the night, and ran like one of those modern, fast zombies toward the Crematorium (I know, I know) where a jovial groundskeeper in a diesel-powered gold cart picked me up and giggled Frenchily as he drove me back to the land of the living on the other side of the gate, from whence I dispatched to my youth hostel for a night of incredulous hyperventilating.
But what if being locked in a cemetary -- as it happens, Pére Lachaise itself -- were a kind of whimsical, enchanted romp? What if you could commune with those many eminent spirits in, you know, a fun way? Here is a short film that is beautiful, dreamy, and - bonus! - helps me to come to terms with my traumatic experience. Leave it to the French.
A Real-Life Ghost Hunter
Sky Therapy in Video Form
Not exactly, suggests Alice G. Walton in this essay for Forbes. Walton coherently runs down how some of our favorite methods of coping -- you know, smoking, drinking, hiding under covers while weeping (okay, she doesn't mention that one) -- actually engage our minds in negative feedback loops that feed the bad feelings. Annoying, I know. Drinks are so delicious. But according to Walton, researchers have found that unhappiness is directly related to a wandering mind. Which is to say they found that "if you’re awake, your mind is wandering almost half the time,[and] it also found that this wandering is linked to a less happy state." Darn it all, your yoga teacher is totally right when she reminds you to meditate. Which makes you think of how hard it is to meditate. Which makes you...right, the wandering. So, wait, why does a wandering mind lead to unhappiness?
A wandering mind usually wanders toward trouble: the unchecked items on the to-do list, the unpleasant interaction from earlier in the day, the dread of some unpleasant, unchecked thing ahead. And these things are all about the self, about you and your trouble, your own corner of the world. As this essay puts it, happiness is all "about shifting our tendency away from focus on ourselves." Of all our favorite coping techniques, meditation is the only one that quells the wandering, that helps us to look outside of our (no offense) piddly existences. Walton writes, "These findings may suggest that for people who practice meditation or prayer, the focus becomes less on the self as a distinct entity from the external world, and more on connection between the two."
I'd like to see a cocktail that could do that.
(No, really, I would. Then after that I would meditate. I promise.)
Don't know how to start meditating? Try...
Mini-Meditations to Clear Your Mind
The One-Minute Meditation Course
Oprah on the Power of Meditation