Are humans the only ones capable of caring for children that aren’t their own? This video goes to show how universal the maternal instinct can be, even with animals you never thought would get along. Dogs with nursing kittens – and vice versa – to literal tiger moms and piglets – share their milk, comfort the young ones and adopt them as their own. Have you ever seen something so cute?
What did you think of the video? Share your favorite animal “love stories” with us in the comments below!
I am always on a constant search for people, places, and things that ignite a spark of energy within me and inspire me to be the best version of myself. I believe that awareness is the key to inspiration. In today’s world, with the news so cluttered with tragedy and unpredictable events, it is more important than ever to keep ourselves fully stocked with go-to inspiration that reminds us to be positive and proactive about the future—and the roles we play within it.
For this reason I have assembled THE LIST.
THE LIST will be my new monthly post, featuring the top five inspiring finds, gems that hit me at my core, morsels I cannot possibly think of keeping to myself. Good works, good people, good books, and good movies—all rolled into one post. I’m eagerly looking forward to sharing them all you!
So here’s the challenge at hand: Check out the top five inspirations that made THE LIST this month and let me know what you think in the comment section below. AND, if you want to go the extra mile, please post the links to your own awesome discoveries in the comment box so that you, too, can inspire the many readers who come across this post. Who knows, your contributions below may just end up on next month’s list!
Dig deeper and share today, and I’ll be sure to do the same.
1. The Drawing Hope Project
I received an email from photographer Shawn Van Daele last month. I had chills up and down my body and tears in my eyes as I read what it is that Shawn does and how he is impacting lives on a level I’ve never even imagined before.
Shawn is the founder of the Drawing Hope Project. He takes drawings created by children either born or living with health conditions and turns them into magical photo artwork. He is planning to pull all the images into a storybook that will be a constant reminder to kids and adults of all ages that anything is possible.
All of the kids (I should call them young artists) have defied the odds—surviving heart transplants, living with rare forms of leukemia, waiting on organ donors—and are still dreaming bigger than ever before. One little guy is still waiting on two lungs AND a heart, and he’s only four years old.
Shawn truly has a magical project under his belt that has already changed many lives. Check it out and be reminded of Shawn’s mission in your own life: any dream is possible, no matter what odds seem to be against you.
VIDEO FROM DRAWING HOPE:
Directed by Oscar®-nominated director, Roko Belic, and produced by Tom Shadyac, director of another amazing documentary called I AM, Happy is an award-winning documentary about the journey to find what makes human beings truly fulfilled in life.
From the slums of Kolkata to the the swamps of Louisiana, Happy asks the questions, “Does money make you happy? Kids and family? Your work? Do you live in a world that values and promotes happiness and wellbeing? Are we in the midst of a happiness revolution?” These questions alone are enough to challenge a lot of us, so one can only imagine what the whole seventy-five-minute documentary will do for your spirit!
3. Today We Are Rich
I read about one book a week so it is difficult for a book to stand out among so many. Tim Sander’s book, Today We Are Rich, is one that I cannot help but share.
Written as a memoir, Tim weaves us through a heartening journey filled with hardships and grace that helped him develop a framework for his own life centered on positivity and gratitude.
The book is packed with the kinds of lessons you just want to slip into your back pocket, one of them being, “Fill your mind with good stuff.” Just like we clean out our body or take on a cleanse to rid our systems of toxins, Tim suggests we go on a “mind cleanse” by feeding our mind the right kind of “mind food.”
Thanks to Tim’s advice, I’ve made personal decisions over the last few months to stop surrounding myself with negative people or letting myself be sunk down by the tragedies that clutter the news headlines on a daily basis. I’ve turned myself toward more upbeat conversations, people who want to lift me higher instead of bring me down, and good books, articles, and music. When I turned on the news a few weeks back, I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. Instead, I felt cleansed and released from the ways the barrage of negativity used to hold me captive.
I don’t recommend many books. But this read is one you should make sure is on your bedside table by the end of the day. You’ll pick it up and instantly be better because of it. Who doesn’t want that?
Matisyahu recently released his new album, Spark Seeker. In the past months, he created a lot of disruption among his loyal fans because he shaved his beard and cut his hair (which goes against his Chassidic Jewish tradition). Me? I was already a fan of his music, but I really love how authentic he is and how he chooses to stay true to himself by living out loud.
He explained on his website last year:
No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias.
When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process. It was my choice. My journey: to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality—not through books but through real life. At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity…to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth. I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart. I am reclaiming myself. Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.
Get ready for an amazing year filled with music of rebirth. And for those concerned with my naked face, don’t worry… you haven’t seen the last of my facial hair.
I will try to write a couple of ideas and thoughts, but I prefer to speak in my native language, the language of the soul, Music. So I will preface this piece by asking that before prescribing judgement to some pictures, please wait and listen to my new record Spark Seeker from start to finish. The record is infused with both Jewish and universal inspiration, as it is a reflection of my inner landscape over the past 2 years of its making. From visions of the Bal Shem Tov to Kabbalah references, prayers in Hebrew and stories in Yiddish, this record was both a spiritual and reflective journey full of transition and growth. That being said, I believe there is a higher level…a level where there is no divisiveness. Where there is complete unity, and that is what I am mirroring. There was a time when I felt it was necessary to show the world what I believed in through my physical appearance. I think this can be a wonderful thing, but as my faith has evolved I have come to believe there are many other ways to show my spirituality and Judaism. Ways in which our humanity is emphasized over our differences. This was my aim for the music. This was always my aim. During the making of this record I began to feel that I was shedding something, and with that I chose to shave. Just as when I was 18 and I shaved my dreadlocks to let go of my identity, I felt as if I was returning to a time prior to religion or rules or right and wrong. To a place where truth shows itself in beauty and balance and I felt it was time to walk a new path. What that exactly means or looks like I am still figuring out, and will be for the rest of my life, I hope. To those who feel betrayed by my choices or my look, don’t worry, I think they will continue to change and evolve–that is the awesomeness of life. I think that through patience, in time you will see we are still on the same team. We are ALL on the same team. I am so excited for you to hear my new record I hope it will explain and inspire so much more then my words here can.
Sincerely In Love and Truth,
Matisyahu is forging his own path, but even more than that, he is not conforming to the standards of society and what people expect of him. He is blazing a trail and being a true example. It takes a great deal of courage to go against the stream for the sake of authenticity, but I believe we get to new levels when we choose to evolve and grow when seasons in our lives shift.
5. Baby Chimp Adopted By Dog (PHOTOS)
This one doesn’t even require a description. I am a HUGE animal lover so the pictures can speak for themselves.
A zoo employee cared for this baby chimp after its mother died but never expected that her dog would end up raising the chimp as one of her own.
So there you have it, my top five inspirations for the month. I hope you enjoyed checking them out as much I loved finding and sharing them. Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment box below and leave links for all the discoveries you’ve been loving lately. I will be clicking away and maybe even adding them to next month’s list!
Eric Handler is the publisher and co-founder of Positively Positive. Check out his TEDx talk. Follow Eric on TWITTER.
I am publishing this blog in memory of my dog, Stella (pictured above), who died last year on September 21st.
I saw this list shared by several friends on Facebook. It is so simple and moving that I felt compelled to share it here. I invite you to share your thoughts below.
1. My life is likely to last ten to fifteen years. Any separation from you will be painful: remember that before you get me.
2. Give me time to understand what you want of me.
3. Place your trust in me—it is crucial to my wellbeing.
4. Do not be angry at me for long, and do not lock me up as punishment.
5. You have your work, your entertainment, and your friends. I only have you.
6. Talk to me sometimes. Even if I don’t understand your words, I understand your voice.
7. Be aware that however you treat me, I will never forget.
8. Remember before you hit me that I have sharp teeth that could easily hurt you, but I choose not to bite you because I love you.
9. Before you scold me for being uncooperative, obstinate, or lazy, ask yourself if something might be bothering me. Perhaps I might not be getting the right food, or I have been out too long, or my heart is getting too old and weak.
10. Take care of me when I get old. You too will grow old. Accompany me on difficult journeys. Never say: “I cannot bear to watch” or “Let it happen in my absence.” Everything is easier for me if you are there—even my death.
We love our pets. The American Pet Products Association reports that Americans spent 45.5 billion dollars on our 171 million dogs and cats in 2009, as well as millions of small animals, reptiles, and fish. During the holiday season, then, it’s no surprise that we want to pamper our furry little companions with a special treat. Here are some ideas to show that faithful friend that it’s Christmastime for them too, and a few gift ideas for a pet lover in your life as well.
Santa Dog Hoodies are an adorable way to help your pal stay warm and share in the fun of the season. Available in many sizes, from extra small (20”) all the way to extra large (40”). $49.95 at Fetchdog.com
PetHoliday Cat Santa Hat. You might lose a finger trying this and the hat is unlikely to stay on for more than the length of time it takes you to snap the picture, but hey, at $4.99 from PetsMart, it’s a bargain for a great chuckle and lasting memory!
Nom, nom, nom! Your feathered friend will feel festive as he munches on this cute Stick Angel Bird Toy. All birds love to shred and chew. The bright colors will keep your bird entertained and the hard wooden block will help keep his beak neatly trimmed. From Doctors Foster and Smith, $6.99.
This hilarious doormat is, of course, a parody of the famous line, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls.” Funny and functional. Available at Amazon.com, $19.99.
If you are looking for great hostess gift for a cat-lover, you can’t go wrong with this whimsical serving platter from CentralChef, $22.95.
These super-tough giant Christmas bulb dog toys are double the fun, as your pooch can chew and bounce them and work at getting a treat out of the center. Available from the Best Friends General Store, $10.99.
What’s warm and cozy and will provide hours of fun for your kitty? Why, the Heated Crinkle Tunnel, of course! The crinkly part is in the arch. The padded bottom heats to 102 degrees. Heater is removable and the tunnel is machine-washable. Available from SpecialPetsStore.com, $51.97.
Author and dog-lover Gotham Chopra wants you to learn from your dog, cat, hamster, or whatever animal companion occupying the special place in your heart. The more we learn from our animal friends, the happier we can be in our own lives.
If it wasn’t for dogs, some people would never go for a walk.
Gotham Chopra considers himself a pretty average guy. He devours pizza, lives and dies by his hometown teams, and watches Kung Fu Panda with his son–daily. But his childhood wasn’t quite so average. Growing up, Gotham was exposed to the deepest reservoirs of knowledge that his famous father, Deepak, could find; his childhood was part spiritual, part scientific, and totally unique. Now a newly minted father himself, he’s contemplating the influences he wants to draw on for his own son. The first was no surprise: his father. The second was unexpected: his dogs.
Gotham and Deepak’s message may seem simple, but therein lies its brilliance. Heartfelt, endearing, and above all down to earth,
offers readers both enlightenment and comfort, with a little bit of mayhem thrown in for good measure.
(Description from Amazon.com)
This series was inspired by Golden Retriever of WIsconsin, winner of the Pepsi Refresh Project, and their intent is help rescue and give medical attention to golden retrievers in Wisconsin. To learn more about the Pepsi Refresh Project, visit www.refresheverything.com
A clip from The view is making the rounds today showing hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walking off set after engaging in a heated dialogue with guest Bill O’Reilly.
I’ve been talking dogs so long that it almost slipped my attention before I realized that this is the stuff I live for. Commenting on blustery (Fox) commentators like O’Reilly and Sean Hannity and just how unperceptive and misdirected they really are.
The gist of it: O’Reilly’s view that the Ground Zero Mosque should not be constructed because 1) 70% of Americans allegedly are against it and 2) Because Muslims killed Americans on 9/11. (His words, not mine)
1) So what? 65% of Americans also admit to knowing little or nothing about Islam. Crossover with O’Reilly’s aforementioned 70%? I’ll bet. Let’s not be led astray by the admittedly ignorant and misinformed.
Btw – those 70% are perfectly welcome to line up across the street and peaceably protest. Along with Muslims and everyone else practicing their faith free of persecution and prejudice, it’s one of the great privileges our constitution affords us. Yeah America!!!
2) Declaring Muslims killed Americans on 9/11 is dangerously inflammatory. Radicals who happened to be Muslim killed Americans and well over a dozen other nationalities that fateful and tragic day. By Mr. O’Reilly’s logic, Christians shouldn’t be allowed to build churches in Oklahoma City because Tim McVeigh was, after all, Christian and killed 168 people there. Wait, what? Yeah…
Here’s the thing: there are 1.3 billion Muslims in the world and growing. We can either go Bill’s way which is to perpetuate misconception, ignorance, conflict, rage, antagonism, and moral arrogance or we can engage in dialogue, empathy, creative conflict resolution and non-violent communication and possible create a more secure and sustainable future for our grandchildren. And yes, it will take time because evolution always does.
I’ll take the latter, but know Mr. O’Reilly will take the former because, he after all has ratings and book sales to consider…which I indeed empathize with.
A week ago, my new book Walking Wisdom came out. And it did so with a BANG. The day before it officially hit bookstores, a HUGE article ran in USA Today. I got email congratulations from far and wide. Tangent: It’s always a bit awkward when you get an email congratulating you for being in the newspaper, because really someone is recognizing you for being recognized by someone else. I mean if you know me already, then why did it take a national newspaper to put a big picture of me on their paper for you to congratulate me? I’m just saying…
Anyway, after USA Today came People Magazine and then the LA Times, sprinkled with assorted syndicate pieces, blogs, blurbs etc in various other corners of the Internet. My Google Alerts popped and I had the distinct impression that my "Q Rating" climbed just as fast as the book’s Amazon ranking did (which I kept track of…hourly). Of particular interest, it seemed – and not surprisingly – was generated by the People Magazine piece which suggested that my book was about my late friend Michael Jackson. The truth of course, was that he plays a significant role in one of the chapters (which is free for download here), but that’s pretty much it. There’s no mention in the book of MJ’s personal life really, his kids, or what he may or may not have looked like without his make-up on…all of which became the focus of the People article. Alas…I know better – you can’t enter the kitchen, if you’re not willing to take the heat….
But that’s the thing, the heat is so fleeting. Monday your face is all over the World courtesy of USA Today, book sales spike, and you’re a rockstar (or at least closely associated with the greatest of them). And then Tuesday you’ve faded back to relative obscurity. What – or who – Kim Kardashian ate for dinner has once again supplanted the cultural conversation.
I’m actually okay with that. Really, though I am my father’s son, I am actually quite okay with being in the background. I like the act of creating, but don’t love the act of pitching the creation. And yet, it’s also tough to have poured so much of yourself into something for so long like a book, and to have it feel like little more than a blip in the media landscape before fading back into the noise.
Noise – we live in a time of incredible, unbelievable, totally unfathomable noise. Between my tweetdeck, email pings, ringtones, and texting tones, there’s a never-ending stream of alerts in my life, pulling my own attention in every direction away from my self. So as much as I want people to stay focused on me and my book, I know myself I myself have already moved onto the next thing, tweet, facebook update, text as infinitem.
So where does that leave us? Even though I wrote a book about it, I can’t say I’m an expert on it. But this past weekend, I did decide to take some of my own advice. When I took the dog out for a walk, I left my cell phone behind. And then when I attended a birthday party with my son at a park, I did it again. And…it was awesome. I was like an alcoholic, proud of being able to walk by a pub. The simple things.
I’m not going to lie to you: I’m back at it this AM, hustling through my social network, checking Amazon sales rankings, writing this blog in hopes that it keeps me in the zeitgeist for another few seconds….
At least until this evening when Kim Kardashian comes out to eat again….
There’s something so old fashioned about writing a book. The time it takes to actually write it, the process of getting it edited and published and then the act of hitting the road to actually promote and sell it. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a charm and romance to it, and for a writer/creator there’s nothing quite like holding that hard cover in your hands, turning those crisp pages and seeing your own words in black and white, but…truth be told, you can’t help but feel that maybe you’re part of a slowly dying art.
The fact is that between the time you finish that last sentence in your book and the date on which it comes out, an enormous amount of time goes by. So when that point comes to actually start doing the first interviews, podcasts, and blogs to push the product, it’s quite an odyssey in retrospect and/or revisionism.
In that regard, I’ve been thinking quite a lot about how to answer that inevitable first question “so what’s Walking Wisdom about?” Ideally an author generates a clear and cogent elevator pitch that will result in fantastical rapid sales. Because my book is alternatively dog and Deepak heavy, there’s an obvious pressure to build the marketing of it around one of those two publishing stalwarts. But the truth is both my papa and my overgrown puppy are just means to an end. Really the book is about the search for something more, dare I call it spirituality.
Yikes, probably not what my publishers really want to hear on the eve of the book’s release, because, well spirituality is kind of a taboo word. But hey, it’s the truth. Seriously, put yourself in my shoes: for the last 25 years I have grown up around Mr. Spirituality akaDeepak Chopra (for my prior 10 years, he wasn’t all that spiritual). When my dad first started talking about stuff like yoga and meditation back in the day, people branded him a witch doctor and snake oil salesman. Today – in fact a minute ago – when I Googled “Yoga,” 61,900,000 entries came up. Oh how the times have changed.
But even though the notion of spirituality has become somewhat mainstream, the quest for it still seems tangled in a web of religiosity and cluttered with quasi quantum physics and existential angst. And not to say that at more evolved stages of spiritual pursuit, the search for meaning and purpose is not fraught with deeper questions and explanations, but in the commercialism of spirituality and more overtly the commodity of the New Age (whatever that is), we too often seem to over-complicate things.
On the contrary, Walking Wisdom is really about decoding and demystifying the idea of spirituality. True story: when I originally pitched the book, I titled it Spirituality for Dogs which the eventual buyer, my publisher, quickly dismissed and replaced with our current title which felt more commercial and “mass market.” I hope for all our sakes they’re right. But no matter what the title screams, the pages inside tell the real story. I wanted to call it Spirituality for Dogs because put through the crucible of a mutt like mine, I – and my father who I recruited onto the case – were able to see the values and ethos of this vague and ineffable term spirituality in their most stark and basic form. Qualities like love and devotion, loyalty, forgiveness, present moment awareness, unboundedness and more, these are spiritual qualities that not only don’t require complex or quantum deconstructions, but that are also readily apparent in men’s best friends. There’s something to be said about get a grasp on the simpler things in life before moving onto the trickier ones, and in this case every dog – and even Deepak – gets to have his day.
About those dogs. I’ve had two in my life, our first who died tragically only after 2 years with us and our latest Cleo, a rescue who’s now been with us for over a decade and is still going strong. Both of them have taught us amazing and long-lasting lessons and I really do believe that kids that grow up with animals, both my sister and I and now our respective kids offering up some anecdotal evidence, evolve to be kinder, more compassionate, and aware people. In the process of writing this book, I’ve also learned a lot more about the community of people that feel the same way I do about dogs in particular. And that’s led to some great partnerships including www.freekibble.com who does amazing work to support rescue and shelter animals and whom I urge you to support either by making a donation or buying a copy of the book, a portion of proceeds from which go to Freekibble. I’m also collaborating with www.scribd.com, who amongst other things, has set up an ebook for users to upload their own stories, pictures, and thoughts on the most important things they have learned from their dogs, dads and other beings in their lives.Please please please participate.
So there you go. That’s the honest, unfiltered, unedited, non market tested truth about what I think my book is about. Apologies in advance if you see me playing the dog or Deepak expert in an effort to pitch the product. That’s what us authors have to do after the fact. But feel free to remind me that at the core of it, this is a book about dads, dogs, dudes, and all those that we love searching for some of the simple things in life before we get onto the murkier ones, at which point by the way I’ll once more happily call in the “big dog” aka Mr. Spirituality to help break it down.