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Preschool Land Art Class in the Arboretum with Artist Karah Pino

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend an hour making Land Art with preschoolers at the Fiddleheads Forest School in the Arboretum with my son’s outdoor class.

The excitement of their motivation to make these works and their careful placement of objects was so inspiring!

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Less Stress, Better Work, And 6 Other Ways Meditation Can Transform Your Life

Posted: 07/13/2014 11:48 am EDT Updated: 07/13/2014 11:59 am EDT

Left Brain vs. Right: It’s a Myth, Research Finds

by Christopher Wanjek   |   September 03, 2013 12:21pm ET published in Live Science

An artist's depiction of the human brain.

The idea that one side of the brain is dominant is a myth, researchers say.

It’s the foundation of myriad personality assessment tests, self-motivation books and team-building exercises – and it’s all bunk.

Popular culture would have you believe that logical, methodical and analytical people are left-brain dominant, while the creative and artistic types are right-brain dominant. Trouble is, science never really supported this notion.

Now, scientists at the University of Utah have debunked the myth with an analysis of more than 1,000 brains. They found no evidence that people preferentially use their left or right brain. All of the study participants — and no doubt the scientists — were using their entire brain equally, throughout the course of the experiment.

A paper describing this study appeared in August in the journal PLOS ONE. [10 Things You Didn’t Know About the Brain]

The preference to use one brain region more than others for certain functions, which scientists call lateralization, is indeed real, said lead author Dr. Jeff Anderson, director of the fMRI Neurosurgical Mapping Service at the University of Utah. For example, speech emanates from the left side of the brain for most right-handed people. This does not imply, though, that great writers or speakers use their left side of the brain more than the right, or that one side is richer in neurons.

There is a misconception that everything to do with being analytical is confined to one side of the brain, and everything to do with being creative is confined to the opposite side, Anderson said. In fact, it is the connections among all brain regions that enable humans to engage in both creativity and analytical thinking.

“It is not the case that the left hemisphere is associated with logic or reasoning more than the right,” Anderson told LiveScience. “Also, creativity is no more processed in the right hemisphere than the left.”

Anderson’s team examined brain scans of participants ages 7 to 29 while they were resting. They looked at activity in 7,000 brain regions, and examined neural connections within and between these regions. Although they saw pockets of heavy neural traffic in certain key regions, on average, both sides of the brain were essentially equal in their neural networks and connectivity.

“We just don’t see patterns where the whole left-brain network is more connected, or the whole right-brain network is more connected in some people,” said Jared Nielsen, a graduate student and first author on the new study.

The myth of people being either “left-brained” or “right-brained” might have arisen from the Nobel Prize-winning research of Roger Sperry, which was done in the 1960s. Sperry studied patients with epilepsy, who were treated with a surgical procedure that cut the brain along a structure called the corpus callosum. Because the corpus callosum connects the two hemispheres of the brain, the left and right sides of these patients’ brains could no longer communicate.

Sperry and other researchers, through a series of clever studies, determined which parts, or sides, of the brain were involved in language, math, drawing and other functions in these patients. But then popular-level psychology enthusiasts ran with this idea, creating the notion that personalities and other human attributes are determined by having one side of the brain dominate the other.

The neuroscience community never bought into this notion, Anderson said, and now we have evidence from more than 1,000 brain scans showing absolutely no signs of left or right dominance.

Anderson said he wasn’t out to do some myth busting. His team’s goal is to better understand brain lateralization to treat conditions such as Down syndrome, autism or schizophrenia, where the left and right hemispheres have atypical roles.

So, should you trash your app that tries to determine if you are a left-brain or right-brain thinker? Both sides of your brain, as well as neuroscientists, say yes.

Christopher Wanjek is the author of a new novel, “Hey, Einstein!“, a comical nature-versus-nurture tale about raising clones of Albert Einstein in less-than-ideal settings. His column, Bad Medicine, appears regularly on LiveScience.

The Art of Chess: Playing with Fire – a personal collage for Valentine’s Day

A humble man playing with Fire overseen by the intent eye of Gaia

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

This collage represents a lot of my personal history.  I was on the chess team in grade school, making it to the state championships in my 6th grade year.  I used to blame my dad for my obsessive game play, but I eventually recognized that while he did introduce me to the game, he certainly didn’t make me play 10 games a day with my brother or team mates.  I loved to play.  Winning was nice, but mostly, I enjoyed an interesting game.  It was my first form of meditation and mental training.

Later, after I abandoned the dreariness of early college science classes for the playtime of Art, I discovered the power of fire through blacksmithing, eventually taking an apprenticeship with Stoker Forge in Santa Fe, NM.  This 6 months was a whirlwind of intricate metallurgy and oozing black mucous from the smoke of the coal forge.  It was during this time I played and won my final chess game with an overzealous intellectual from the Los Alamos National Laboratory.  I say it was my final game because I decided then to abandon zero sum games entirely.

My father bought my son a beginning chess set for his 4th birthday and he pulled it out recently.  I showed him the basics of the game, how the pieces are set up, how different pieces move and how captured pieces are removed from the board.  Mostly he enjoyed the clacking of the pieces interacting directly and the game quickly devolved into a melee.

Throughout my life, I have always had a deep connection with the Natural Order of life on this small blue green rock floating in space.  While I have a deep faith in the powers of human creative ingenuity, I have watched for 4 decades a continuing pattern of destructive decision-making perpetuating suffering for the living beings who dwell in this place.  It is troubling and confusing.  And yet, with the training of Vipassana Meditation and QiGong, I am able to come into contact with the miracle of peace and love that emerge between the dysfunctional thoughts and actions of my fellow man.

When we play with the spark within our own hearts, we are in perpetual collaborative game of life.

-Karah Pino

Celestial Grace – A soul collage of light and hope

Dancing Between Dimensions

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

Collage by Karah Pino 2015

Celestial Grace

I am the one who is illuminated by celestial grace, bounding between the stars.

What I give to you is the freedom to rest in trust of the majestic structure of the divine universe.

What I want from you is to joyfully surrender to the cosmic joke, dancing between dimensions.

How you will remember is by noticing how the light shines from within the weightless space between.

-Karah Pino

Here’s why this founder asks employees to meditate together every morning – Business Insider

It’s no secret that meditation is good for you.

Business Insider’s Kevin Loria recently laid out the plethora of research-backed benefits that meditation offers, including its ability to help us deal with stress, improve memory, and even boost our immune systems.

Those are just a few reasons the 10-person team at Soma, a San Francisco-based company that produces an eco-friendly water filtration system, sits silently in a circle together every morning for 15 minutes.

“After a quick team huddle on our priorities, we meditate to relax our minds, get focused, and share in a communal activity,” says Mike Del Ponte, cofounder and chief hydration officer of Soma . “Everyone is welcome to meditate however they like. Most focus on their breath and calming their minds.”

Del Ponte says most of Soma’s employees had never meditated before joining the company. “Coincidentally, they are usually the ones who enjoy it the most,” he explains. “We create an environment that is comfortable and open. No one feels pressured or intimidated.”

Mike Del Ponte Liang ShiMike Del Ponte, cofounder and chief hydration officer of Soma.

And as it turns out, meditation isn’t just good for his employees’ health. It’s good for business.

“Our daily meditation has had an impact on each teammate individually, as well as our culture as a whole,” Del Ponte says. “For individuals, meditation increases focus, decreases stress, and helps us to be more creative. As a company, it sets the tone for the vibe we want to have in the office: relaxed, thoughtful, and focused on health.”

Here are four tips for incorporating meditation into you workplace:

1. Make it a daily ritual, not something that’s “nice to have.”

“It’s more important to do it briefly each day than to try and have long sessions,” Del Ponte says. Ten to 15 minutes is short enough to be accessible to everyone, but long enough to have a meaningful effect.

2. Make it comfortable for everyone.

Let employees sit how they want and do whatever they choose with the available time. “If it seems too strict or weird, it will turn people off.”

3. Make it fun.

“At the end of each session, we say ‘Somaste’ (instead of Namaste) to remind ourselves not to take things too seriously,” he says. “We also have a Tibetan singing bell that sometimes sounds beautiful and sometimes sounds so awkward that we all laugh.”

4. Ask someone to take the lead.

“There’s usually one person in the company that is really passionate about meditation,” Del Ponte explains. “Ask that person to be accountable for meditation happening every day.”

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/soma-employees-meditate-together-2015-2#ixzz3QksVLzfS

The Top 10 Good News Stories of 2014

The Top 10 Good News Stories of 2014

by Good News Network – December 30, 20140


140

2014-graphic

In many respects 2014 was a rough year, with Ebola, the Islamic State, and deaths in Ukraine, but it was also one in which social media-inspired kindness, numerous health breakthroughs and positive trends took center stage at the Good News Network.

In Poland, for instance, where a paralyzed man re-grew nerve connections that let him walk again, doctors declared the day had come when spinal cord injuries became repairable. . . Here then, is our countdown of the Top Ten Good News stories of 2014:

10) Entertainment: Global Phenomenon Spurs “Happy” Dancing

80-odd-years-of-happy-YouTube-Pharrell-cropped

First released on November 21, 2013, the Pharrell Williams song, Happy, became a contagious interactive mantra of positivity in 2014. The bubbly song reached #1 in 24 countries and became one of the best selling singles of all time. However, it was the music video that Pharrell made showing people in L.A. dancing and miming to the lyrics that galvanized groups in cities across the world to create their own versions, like these from anelderly home, from engineers in London, and citizens in Belfast. Pharrell partnered with the United Nations to promote their annual International Day of Happiness in March, and by May, more than 1,950 videos from 153 countries had been created with people dancing and proclaiming, “I’m Happy”.

9) Business: A Polar Vortex of Generosity

snowed-in food deliveries for stranded driversWith bitter cold weather and snow hammering the usual northern cities but also places that don’t know how to handle icy roads, the “Polar Vortex” of 2014 brought out the best in businesses and citizens who wanted to help strangers who were stranded. A Pennsylvania pizza shop owner contacted the media to advertise his willingness to make deliveries of prescriptions or food to the elderly and disabled. After 39 inches of snow (100 cm) stranded cars near Tokyo, the driver of a bakery truck decided, since the delivery could not likely be completed by the sell-by date, he would give away all the pastries and breads to those stuck on the roadway. Snow blowing gangs of men in Detroit and aMissouri 12-year-old cleared the way for the elderly and a hero in Illinois was driving around jump-starting cars for free. Sweetest of all, Atlanta residents hearing reports of stranded motorists, brought hot cocoa and sandwiches to stunned drivers.

8) Science: Drones for Good

NASA-video-shows-drones-to-monitor-forestScientists and entrepreneurs are transforming the scary idea of drones into a service that can save lives. Aerial drone technology is being used in Europe to create flying ambulance toolkits that can speed a defibrillator to the scene of a cardiac arrest victim within a minute, when it would take an ambulance ten. An Iranian team have put their robotics expertise to work developing a lifeguard drone for use along the Caspian Sea coast, where more than a thousand people drown every year. Humanitarian drones are now delivering medical supplies and lab test specimens over roadless areasin Africa. And, a NASA engineer has created an unmanned vehicle to fly over great expanses of forest in Virginia searching for tiny wildfires before they blow up.

7) Sports: Twin Gives Up Olympic Spot So Sister Can Compete

skiing bianthlon Barnes sistersOf the many heartwarming Olympics stories this year, including Bode Miller making history as oldest skiier to ever win a medal, our favorite was the story of American Tracy Barnes who has competed together with her twin sister in world class biathlon events for 15 years. But this year, luck dealt Lanny Barnes a brutal blow as she fell ill and missed the qualifying races that could have earned her a spot on the five-person team. Tracy earned a spot but declined it, giving the chance to her sister.

6) Philanthropy: Charitable Nominations Go Viral on Social Media

kindness coffee to a homeless guy-RAKNominations-FBThe ALS ice bucket challenge caused a social media fundraising explosion this summer inspiring donations of $115 million for efforts to cure and treat ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). But because the trend wasted precious water, we liked the #RAKnomination craze that surfaced in February better. Out of a dangerous binge-drinking nomination game on Twitter that claimed the lives of several youth came an adaptation where a person would post a video, not of them drinking, but of doing a random act of kindness (RAK) and then nominate two friends to do the same. The #RAKnominations that inspired youth in Europe and Canada began in South Africa when Brent Lindeque decided to break the drinking game cycle, in favor of something that might show how powerful social media can be if used for good. He gave a huge sandwich, chocolate and a coke to a panhandler on the street. He filmed it, nominated two people and challenged them to do the same within 24 hours.

train-car-commuters-subway-rescue5) World: Commuters Use People Power to Push Trains and Lift Cars to Free Strangers

In August a commuter whose leg had disappeared into the space between a train and the platform was freed by his fellow passengers in Perth, Australia. Surveillance video shows dozens of passengers as they gathered around andtip the train enough to release his trapped limb. In November, a video from China documented the goodness of strangers when 20 people rushed to the aid of a woman run over by a car following a motorbike crash.

UNEP-image-ozone-layer-Earth4) Earth: Scientists Confirm Global Victory in Ozone Layer Recovery

“It’s a victory for diplomacy and for science,” and for the fact that all the nations in the world worked together, said the Nobel Prize chemist who first forecasted the ozone depletion in 1974. All the 197 nations of the UN pledged in 1987 to ban the chemicals that were destroying the Earth’s protective ozone layer, the first time anything was unanimously adopted by all members of the United Nations.

3) Community: Tiny Houses for the Homeless Catch On

Communities of tiny houses for the homeless have been popping up around the US. One opened in November in downtown Madison, Wisconsin — built by the very homeless individuals who will benefit, alongside members of Occupy Madison, who became aware of the homeless problem when they were encamped locally during the Occupy Wall Street protests. Six formerly homeless men now live at Second Wind Cottages, a cluster of tiny houses in Ithaca, New York set on property donated by an auto body shop next door. Even a fraternity is getting involved. The young men of Phi Kappa Psi at the University of Alabama have raised thousands of dollars for their initiative to create a communal villageof tiny homes somewhere in Huntsville. Other initiatives are popping up in Austin, Syracuse, New Jersey,St. Cloud, and Portland, Oregon.

2) Family: Girl Swept Away in Tsunami 10 Years Ago Reunited With Family

Raudhatul_Jannah-Indonesian-girl-reunited-w-familyRaudhatul Jannah was just 4 years old when the catastrophic tsunami roared into the Indonesian town of Aceh and swept her away. In August, the girl, who was by then 14, was reunited with her family after being raised by a fisherman’s elderly mother and spotted in a crowd by her uncle. In the days following media reports of the reunion, a woman recognized the resemblance to a homeless boy, which turned out to be their son Arif, who also rejoined his family after he was washed out to sea at age seven with his sister.

insulin-in-treating-diabetes1) Health: Diabetes Breakthrough-Scientists Coax Human Stem Cells Into Making Insulin

Since his infant son Sam was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 23 years ago, Harvard scientist Doug Melton has dedicated his career to finding a cure for the disease. On October 9 he announced that he and his colleagues had taken a giant leap forward, for the first time producing massive quantities of human insulin-producing cells. In trials with mice, he said, “We can cure their diabetes right away — in less than 10 days.”

We hope you agree that 2014 was a pretty good year. Please SHARE if you think so…
May good bless us even more in 2015.

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New Glasses Help the Color-blind to See Reds, Greens for First Time; Plus the Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week!

Happy New Year, Karah! So many opportunities to look forward to… I hope you make all your dreams come true. These stories are sure to inspire your way. xxoo, Geri

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Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Garbage Man Returns Gift Card, Family Repays His Kindness
    A sanitation worker in Colorado returned a Christmas present to a family who accidentally threw it out. And they rewarded his honesty in a way that really touched his life.
  2. New Glasses Help Color-blind to See Greens, Reds for the First Time
    New high-tech eyewear made by EnChroma, a Berkeley, California startup, is changing the worldview for people who suffer from color-blindness by allowing them to see reds, greens and violets accurately for the first time.
  3. Mysterious Notes Lead to Neighbor in Need – and Kindness Delivered
    A desperate woman was surprised when neighbors she’d never met showed up at her door bringing bags of groceries. It all started with a cryptic note left in several mailboxes around the neighborhood.
  4. Woman Spends 14 Years Photographing Earth’s Oldest Trees
    San Francisco based photographer Beth Moon has spent fourteen years capturing haunting images of ancient trees around the world. The pictures include some that are more than a thousand years old–like these fantastical dragon’s-blood trees found only on an island off the Horn of Africa.
  5. Soldier’s Letter Details WWI Christmas Day Truce 100 Years Ago
    "Dearest mother, I have seen one of the most extraordinary sights…" So begins a letter from a WWI soldier in 1914 who witnessed the 2-day Christmas Truce. The letter just published confirms a Christmas Day football match 100 years ago today, between warring sides, England and Germany, as seen through the eyes of a soldier for the first time.
  6. Customers Buy a Car For Their Favorite Bagel Shop Employee
    Shirley Ratliff, who always has a smile for every customer, takes three buses to get to her job — opening a Raleigh, North Carolina bagel shop at 5 a.m. each day. Recently, twenty of her customers showered her with appreciation for that dedication, surprising her with a car. (WATCH)
  7. Jazz Greats Converge on Hospital to Play for 94-yo ‘Maestro’s’ Birthday
    Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra trekked for four hours from Fayetteville, Arkansas to surprise the great trumpet player Clark Terry. An emergency had landed Terry, who is blind and ailing, in the hospital days before a planned 94th birthday celebration, but the band was determined to pay homage to their "maestro", no matter the location. (Video)
  8. Racer Turned Quadriplegic Beats Odds With Triumphant Recovery
    Fifteen years after a motocross accident, Aaron Baker lives a life that medical professionals never believed possible. The professional racer deemed a complete quadriplegic after a training accident in 1999, Baker is now fully independent, walking with just a cane, and accomplishing feats of endurance, from riding a tandem bicycle across the country, to independently walking 20 miles across Death Valley.
  9. Letter Mix-Up Leads To Boy’s Trip of A Lifetime With Kind Sheriff
    A little boy whose mom is "too sick to do stuff" desperately wanted to go hunting with anybody who might want to teach him. So when he saw an invitation from the Chester County Sheriff on Facebook, he jumped at the chance and wrote a letter. But there was one problem: The sheriff lived in Chester County, South Carolina — not Chester County, Pennsylvania. Alex was heartbroken until some big-hearted folks stepped in to provide an "awesome" 2-day trip. (Watch)
  10. 27-Year-old Donates Lottery Ticket Winnings to Animal Shelter
    Bryce Vucekovich surprised workers at the Dallas animal shelter, arriving with a pickup truck loaded down in food, litter and other necessities for the dogs and cats living there.

Top Video: Amazing Artist With Cerebral Palsy ‘Paints’ With a Typewriter


A man who lived with a severe disability for decades in an Oregon nursing home created a collection of amazing artwork using only a typewriter. Paul Smith was born in 1921 with cerebral palsy, but could still type using one finger, and the ‘paintings’ he created are extraordinary. (WATCH the inspiring video)

Christmas Giving Top 10 Good News of the Week!

Top 10 Good News Stories of the Week

  1. Employees Donate From Paychecks for 6 Months to Help Strangers
    A group of 55 employees donated money from their paychecks for six months to buy a wheelchair accessible van for someone they didn’t even know, a family of seven who has a little boy with a rare genetic disorder. They surprised the family with a big, new MV-1 parked outside their home two days before Thanksgiving.
  2. She Invented Amazing Car That Wheelchair Users Can Just Drive Away
    A woman in a wheelchair wanted to help people like her to become more independent, so she designed and is now manufacturing an innovative electric car that provides easy access and drivability, without ever getting out of your chair. Stacy Zoern, an attorney in Texas, quit her job to build her new company, Kenguru.
  3. Troopers Drive 87-year-old Across Utah to See Her Ailing Son
    An 87-year-old woman rushing to see her son, who was in critical condition in a Salt Lake City hospital 350 miles away, got pulled over for a traffic violation by a Utah State Trooper — and then she backed her vehicle into his patrol car. It turned out to be a blessing for the white-haired mother, and one that set off a chain reaction of professional courtesy.
  4. ‘You’ve Gotta Be Kidding,’ Server Told Man Who Replaced Her Old Car
    Her car was barely drivable after multiple run-ins with deer on roadways, but as a server at the Cracker Barrel restaurant, she didn’t know how she would pay for repairs. Then, her boss asked her to drop her tray and come outside. A couple from Arkansas who’d seen her come to work in the shabby car was standing next to a silver Ford with a red bow on it.
  5. Generous Stranger Pays Off Every Layaway Debt at Toys-R-Us
    At the Toys-R-Us store in Bellingham, Massachusetts a complete stranger became an angel for 154 customers. A woman this week walked into the store and told a cashier she wanted to pay off a layaway balance. "Which one?" she was asked. "All of them," she replied. For a total of $20,000.
  6. Tortoise Fitted With Lego Scooter to Help Him Walk
    Not content to see him living in a terrarium, a German pet owner took her tortoise to a veterinarian when he was having mobility issues. The doctor used Legos belonging to his son to fashion a temporary device with wheels to help the animal propel himself forward. (WATCH)
  7. Kind Off-duty Cop Takes Elderly Widow on Her Weekly Shopping Trips
    Officer John Holder and a 73-year-old widow formed an unlikely friendship six months ago, after multiple surgeries left her recovering on her own. Every week, the cop, who is white, took the black woman to doctors appointments and to run errands, mostly while off-duty. No one knew about this until a shopper snapped a photo and it went viral.
  8. Tampa Lawyer Holds Contest to Give Free Home to Family in Need
    A Florida attorney who helps families fight foreclosure, wants to help a family in a major way this holiday season. Mark Stopa plans to give away a home to a Florida family in need.
  9. Company Gives Boy Who Loves UPS a Mini Brown Truck to Drive
    A 4-year-old Colorado boy who is crazy about trucks, for some reason became enthralled with the big brown delivery truck and the UPS driver, "Mr. Ernie." A strong bond of friendship grew to the point where the boy would hear the truck coming and be waiting on the curb, each time with the same wild excitement. Recently the man in brown delivered a dream come true for the boy. (MUST-SEE Video)
  10. Ala Police Deliver 2 Truckloads of Groceries to Woman Who Stole Eggs
    An Alabama police officer is being hailed for his kindness after he not only bought the eggs that a woman tried stealing to feed her family, but surprised her at home with two truck loads of groceries. (Video)

Top Video: Cops Pull Over Drivers to Give Them Gifts On Their Wish Lists


A Michigan police department used a hidden microphone to summon Christmas presents out of thin air during traffic stops with unsuspecting motorists. And the video is so beautiful, you’ll want to hug your screen. The shocked looks on people’s faces when they realize they are not getting a ticket, and instead see gifts appear from their shopping lists, is amazing.
(This had us crying for joy!)