#55 Bird Watch

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Bird Watch

Early last summer I found myself sitting on the deck in my backyard enjoying the early morning with a cup of coffee. I noticed something yellow fluttering just outside my direct line of vision and ultimately realized that a pair of yellow finches had taken residence in the rear corner of my yard. It didn’t take long before I was mesmerized watching them move through their morning routine.

The contrast of the bright yellow against the summer green foliage was striking and I had to try and capture it. My phone wasn’t cutting it so I grabbed my more elaborate Nikon and added the telephoto lens. It essentially became a sort of binoculars and I found myself zeroing in on those finches – enthralled with their movements.

I was bird watching.

And I’m not a bird watcher.

That single experience and the deep pleasure that I experienced convinced me that there is joy in bird watching – something I never thought I’d admit. I understood that morning, what people loved about the sport – or hobby – of watching these creatures move about their environment.

I took to having my coffee on the deck more frequently and noticed a pair of woodpeckers. I had heard them of course, but had never bothered to get out there and see for myself – their pecking. I saw bluebirds and robins. My curiosity increased and I found myself on Google to try and identify the female birds too as they aren’t as colorful and I wasn’t sure which was which.

I was really bird watching – and I was loving it.

There was an unexpected pleasure in the activity even though it was so solitary and quiet – perhaps that was it. I was a voyeur into the lives of those creatures and they didn’t care at all. I found myself wondering about their habits even though animal behavior was the least of my interests when I was pursuing my psychology degree. I wondered about the casual and carefree sensation of being able to fly and move to the top of trees. I got it. There’s really no way to explain the feelings or the benefits. I accidentally learned why people pull out their binoculars and I highly recommend that you make the time to…

Bird watch.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#57 Visit a Zoo

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Visit a Zoo

I was able to walk through the Central Park Zoo on a warm spring day last year and really loved being there. The last Zoo I had visited was when the kids were young and we had an annual pass to the Philadelphia Zoo which, after falling in love with the San Diego Zoo… was a disappointment. We bought the annual passes because I am a big believer in educating children about animals, especially those that aren’t house pets.


Zoo’s have had a difficult time in recent years. There was a lot of publicity about the mistreatment of animals, poor conditions, and lack of funding for several zoos across the country – leading a lot of people to abandon the idea of visiting animals there. It was a difficult decision to support an endeavor that wasn’t meeting minimum standards versus being there to send loving energy their way and introducing a younger generation to the benefits of saving endangered species.


When a zoo is managed and funded efficiently, it offers a plethora of benefits both to the animals there and to the surrounding society.

Zoos connect animals to people in a way that is no longer viable in most urban cultures. We simply don’t get the opportunity to see Buffalo, Elk, or Giraffes running across our sight line. Indeed, we barely see turtles and fox unless you live close to farms and water. Visiting a zoo offers you an opportunity to experience this life form no matter your environment.

Zoos fight against wildlife extinction. They are staffed by professionals committed to the survival and propagation of species. They often collaborate with one another to solve urbanization issues that prevent the animals from organically sustaining their population.

Zoos educate the public and seek to attract benefactors that are committed to helping and sponsoring continued advocacy. The inspire children, teach differences, and motivate respect for animals in general.

Time spent

Of course, spending time at a zoo is a great family activity. There are usually wonderful programs to take advantage of and it just nice to stroll through the property to see something new and different than before. Being in a zoo can be a ‘getting back to nature’ in an odd sort of way; there’s always a little dichotomy to this as you walk from one kind of habitat to another. It may challenge your senses.

Being in a zoo as a single individual may offer you some great ‘me time’… time away from civilization but inside the energy of living beings. It can provide an opportunity to sit back and savor the simplicity of a lions walk across the stone or to observe the complicated maneuvers of barn swallows as they nest in the rafters of an Avian center.

Modern Energy

After the horrific zoo experiences identified in the past, I believe we’ve come to a better place and the zoo’s of America are a thoughtful, instructional, and compassionate playground for animals that people get to enjoy. If you haven’t been in a while, go ahead and treat yourself – if not your entire family and …

Visit a Zoo.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.


#88 Get up for the Sunrise

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Get up for the Sunrise

Some of you may do this on a regular basis but many of us do not and by staying in bed until after the sun is high in the sky, we are missing one of nature’s most magnificent moments. Without the sun, Earth would be an ice covered rock; it is the life force of our existence. If you are one of those who are routinely awake for the sunrise – do you watch? Are you present for the experience?

Good Mood

Watching the sunset – truly savoring the experience of it – can help you be in a good mood. There’s something about the energy of the sun peeking over the horizon and blooming fully into the morning sky that offers hope. The colors that are created each morning – completely dependent on that particular morning – are challenged to be created with paint, chalk, or pencil. Again, color has a way of inspiring us to feel better and increase our mood.


The sun rises each day regardless of what is happening in the world and it’s a wonderful reminder that life keeps moving forward in spite of everything else. It can be a wonderful reminder that we too, can move forward and go on. It’s also one of the things that promotes hope in our spirit.


The sunrise can inspire gratitude. There’s something spectacular about this automatic event that produces intense beauty, incites promise, and comes to us free of charge that we tend to be thankful for. It may be typical to think “wow”, “man”, or “geez” with a sense of awe as we notice it’s characteristics.

If you can’t bring yourself to get out of bed that early in the morning, there is always the sunset but it generates a different spirit altogether so do yourself a favor and…

Get up for the sunrise.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#264 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Pick wildflowers

Do you remember the smile on your mother’s face when you presented her with the first Dandelion you ever picked? Do you remember how much fun it was to see the yellow glow of a buttercup under your friends chin? Have you known the delight of watching a stem of Queen Anne’s Lace change colors because you added food coloring to the water it was in? Have you felt the satisfaction of collecting naturally grown flowers from a field or the side of a road?

These are simple joys available to many of us with the simple act of collecting a few wildflowers (or weeds as they might be). It’s an example of one of those childhood activities that promotes innocent delight almost immediately. Flowers grow naturally and spontaneously throughout the world and while their natural beauty is enjoyable, there is something even more special about collecting pieces of it to share indoors. I’m certainly not speaking about digging up a natural landscape and transplanting… only picking a few sprigs of color to surprise a loved one, brighten your own home, or to dry and press as an addition to your memory book.

The flower itself is only part of the experience of course… walking through nature’s beauty is, in and of itself an activity that promotes happiness; being outdoors, moving, and breathing fresh air is good for us all. Enjoying the scenery of blooming flowers – especially entire meadows or a forest undergrowth can be breathtaking and awe inspiring.  

Of course, if you are walking through a nature preserve or another protected property – please be respectful of your surroundings and don’t pick – just enjoy. Additionally, a large bouquet of Goldenrod may not be an appropriate presentation to someone with seasonal allergies. However, a few stems of honeysuckle will make your entire home smell good for a few days and a handful of violets will add a lovely purple splash to your windowsill all week.

Take advantage of a nice day and find a quiet place to take a walk, enjoy the scenery and if appropriate…

Pick wildflowers.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo by Bobby Burch on Unsplash

#288 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Watch a thunderstorm

Are you one of the people who love to watch thunderstorms? Do you like the sound of thunder and the beauty of lightning? This typically warm weather phenomena is a nuisance to some and magic to others. They range from quick and basic to drawn out and down right dangerous.

I love the sound of a thunderstorm approaching – the gentle roll of thunder across the horizon, like the purr of a kitten letting you know it will be bigger at some point. I like the potential of seeing a flash of lightning cross the sky like a fracture of ice crystals across my windshield in the cold winter months. A thunderstorm most often announces its presence, giving us time to find a perch.

I am always amazed at how nature is so tuned in to its arrival that the leaves turn upside down and critters scoot for cover far in advance of our human tendency. I was taught to count the seconds between a lightning strike and a thunder clap – indicating the corresponding number of miles the center of the storm was from my location. I laid in wait, anticipating its arrival but only rewarded with the occasional epicenter unleashing its fury overhead.

Those were the moments that a smart person would move away from the open window or head in for the safety of walls and roof… but those were the moments I was most interested to see as the lightning struck close and the thunder simultaneously boomed its announcement of arrival. Sometimes, there would be more than one demonstration of dominance but more often than not the storm would move away as fast as it blew in and I would find myself counting again… the distance it had travelled from me.

For those few moments, my attention was completely focused on Nature and its beauty; its fury. I was more interested in what was happening outside in the world than in my own little dramatic circle. I was taken outside of my narrow view of the world and offered a glimpse of something larger, and more powerful than I could ever hope to be – put in my place by a random but scientifically viable operation of weather. It’s’ another example of how we can easily and without expense, step outside of ourselves and be present. A simple idea really.. just take time to…

Watch a Thunderstorm.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#307 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Take a Hike

The term ‘hike’ simply refers to a long walk and yet it instills images of heavy backpacks, rustic camping and ragged trails for many. Personally, the word conjures thoughts of burnt calories and heavy sweating on one hand and serene communing with nature on my other.

Truly, a hike can be a lot of things and it doesn’t have to be arduous or exhausting. In as little as 20 minutes on a trail behind your office park or around a community pond, a hike can be short and sweet. It can be a couple of hours along a creek in the country or along an old rail bed through a mountain gorge. And ultimately, it can be a trek spanning states or an expedition up a mountain.

Regardless of how it’s done, hiking is good for the mind, body, and spirit. It’s an activity that satisfies all of our basic needs for exercise, tranquility, and connection. A stroll through nature’s splendor highlights some of life’s most basic beauty no matter the environment; an ant mound that showcases the perfection of a natural community, views of countryside that extend for miles, or clear clean water flowing quickly over moss covered boulders.

Allowing yourself to ‘attune’ to nature may nurture innate instincts that our brain rarely uses. Our internal wiring is still programmed to exist in the midst of natural habitats; to embrace the energy released by living organisms. A quiet walk in the midst of nature’s glory may be just the piece you’ve been missing. So get out there and literally…

Take a Hike.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#311 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

Sharing a daily life lesson, tip, or hack; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.



This is absolutely one of my most favorite things to do… contributing specifically to feelings of happiness, adventure, and at times… education.

Exploring can be so many things. It can be wandering through your neighborhood looking for window box or front porch decorating ideas. It can be a walk in the woods identifying trees or through a meadow looking for four-leaf clovers.

My goal however, is driving along back roads and exploring the countryside, little towns, or city neighborhoods. My father instilled a love of exploration when I was a small girl. He loved to drive and hence, Sunday’s were for piling the fam in the car and taking off to discover what jewels existed along a route we had never taken.

It may have been a waterfall, an old schoolhouse, or a new ice cream store. It was often just winding roads and beautiful scenery – more Pennsylvania mountains or rocky creek beds and we were most often able to discover a roadside-rest where we could picnic.

I still love the adventure of not knowing what lies ahead, the discovery of a quaint little museum or an artisan haven. I’ve accidentally discovered a membership only ski mountain, dozens of hole-in-the-wall greasy spoon restaurant boasting amazing bacon or french fries, a bathing location of George Washington, and an Indian arrowhead museum.

I’ve wound up on dirt roads that traveled across fields that were more than likely private property, had to drive in reverse for a half mile after hitting a marshy dead end, and come up on moose watering in a pond that perfectly reflected the fall foliage behind it.

I’ve stood in awe of nature’s beauty more times than I can count simply because I took a chance on a road that looked less travelled and I’ve prayed what I thought were my last prayers as we traveled across a switchback moving us into a redstone canyon. I drove through a population of jackrabbits in the middle of the night that scared half the wits from me and along Eastern Shore roads that led to a rope ferry.

Of course, it’s helpful to know how to read a map and have a companion as you undertake this kind of exploration unless of course, you have flares, extra food, and warm blankets. Cell service is not entirely reliable if you’re out in the boondocks.

Finding treasures, locating interesting venues, and getting away from the routine of home lends to authentic joy, peace, and contentment. It’s as simple as learning how to …


I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#360 of 365 Ways to live Easier, Happier, & More Productive

My goal, for those of you who are curious, is to share a daily life lesson, tip, or hack. They are the things I want my children to know and the things that I teach to clients. They are the things that make my life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Appreciate nature

So, maybe the ‘tree huggers’ were on to something. It seems as though literally embracing nature is good for mental health and fosters happiness. There is a certain homeostasis in the outdoors to which our internal barometers react positively. While it’s better to get outside on a sunny day to absorb as much of that Vitamin D as possible, studies tell us just communing with the great mother earth in any capacity will bolster our feel good rating.

It can be a walk in the fog which offers a distinct visual perspective that ignites our sense of mystery and wonder. Perhaps taking a stroll in the rain that excites your auditory system from the sound of the droplets on an umbrella to the great rolls of thunder in the dense sky above. It might even be as simple as sitting in the center of your backyard as you watch the squirrels scamper across a fence or the branches of a nearby tree as you notice how the evergreens have sprouted new spring growth.

There is so much to notice and hence, appreciate about the natural state of our planet and its animal inhabitants. Even though I work diligently to keep them away from my kitchen counters, I easily find myself mesmerized by the workings of an outdoor ant colony and could make their trail the focus of a meditation without much effort.

No excuses here. Even city dwellers can step outside and look up. All kinds of birds allow us a window to the appreciation of one of Mother Natures wonders. The goal is to see, acknowledge, and appreciate the essence of nature and its interwoven magic.  Just a few minutes at a time; deliberate and with attention…

Appreciate nature.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

Photo on Foter.com

LA Bound – Tale #4

Continued from LA Bound – Tale #3

“Nature has two powers: Her own physical power and the spiritual power of her beauty!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

Other than seeing the Grand Ole Opry, Erin’s only other request for this journey was to make the short detour to the Grand Canyon and so with our schedule in great shape and good weather in the forecast, we started day five with eager anticipation. I had been to the canyon several decades ago – when I was eighteen and I knew it was one of those landmarks that you had to literally experience to believe the magnificence. I was particularly excited to share it with her. We packed up the car, checked the oil, and filled the gas tank. As we drove up the ramp Erin noticed that the service engine light was on. Reading about it in the manual (teaching Erin to inform herself first) – it suggests that there was an issue with the gas tank cap. We pulled over and tightened the cap… no change. Google to the rescue for additional information… verifying that it could be a cap problem and if so… it may take a week to resolve. I discovered that if it wasn’t blinking we were OK.

The scenery between Gallop and Flagstaff quickly disintegrated into flat, dry, and dusty desert without much interest. We had four hours before we turned on our northern detour to the canyon and so we listened to Shonda for a while. There are a few ‘attractions’ in that area of the country and since we had made a little time up the night before, we opted to pick one… we agreed on the 50,000 year old Meteor Crater. What do you think of when you imagine a meteor falling from space? Even the one that supposedly killed all of the dinosaurs? I am sure that I imagined a hole in the ground but never did I consider that the hole would be nearly one MILE across and 550 feet deep – deep enough that the Statue of Liberty can sit inside without peeking out. The impact was 150 times the blast of the Hiroshima Atomic Bomb and it decimated the forest that existed there at the time. Eventually, the hole filled with water and a lake existed there long enough for 200 feet of sediment to accumulate (the original depth was 750 feet – taller than the Times Square Tower). The vastness of it is staggering.

We didn’t take time to see the movie or move through the little museum for long as the Grand Canyon was waiting but it was a great little stop and only six miles off the interstate so if nothing else – it was a good opportunity to stretch and use the facilities. We were there barely an hour and then hit the road again. In Flagstaff, the scenery begins to change to a more mountainous and pine forest environment. There were remnants of a recent snow storm and signs that warned us of ice on the highway as we made our way to the state highway that would lead us to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. I couldn’t tell if it was a really long fifty miles because of our anticipation or because we were back in the high desert with little variance in the landscape but the closer we got, the more red appeared in the rock and my memories were dancing with excitement to be reminded and refreshed.

It was cold. We were 7,000 ft. above sea level and the wind was whipping across the top of the canyon plateau – again, we were wishing for hats and gloves. All considering, there weren’t many people there and so it was a great time to visit; the visitor center was almost empty and after looking at a scaled relief for a few minutes, the suspense got to Erin and we made our way to the rim. “What….? Oh. My. Gosh.” – there really isn’t anything else to say and you find yourself saying it over and over, not matter the angle you turn to view. I had forgotten that the canyon is an entire mile DEEP… and the view across to the other side averages about ten miles – and we thought the Meteor Crater was impressive!

I wonder if it is the same for everyone who returns… how many times must one visit before your body adjusts and no longer skips a breath as you walk upon the incredible view? There really is no way to describe the grandeur of the landscape or the colors, which even on a cloudy day, when they are muted, are quite spectacular. Within moments of us standing there, the sun came out as if in answer to my silent calling to demonstrate to Erin the astounding vibrancy of sunshine against the canyon stone. She was in awe and motivated to move along the path, snapping photographs every third step, appropriately oohing and aahing.  I think between us, we easily snapped a hundred photos in under an hour. It looks unreal, as if you could reach out and touch a canvas, a backdrop that was perfectly painted to fit into the immediate surroundings. In every one of the photos we took with a person it it… they look like they could have been taken at any Olan Mills or Sears Portrait Studio.

I have a photo of my eighteen-year-old self, sitting on a ledge with my legs dangling over the edge of the canyon. I remember my step-mom crawling out there on her hands and knees to get me off that ledge and I could suddenly appreciate her hesitation. Why is it, that as young people, we are so fearless? There were people crawling over and under railings all along the path to reach standing spots that looked impossible but allowed for amazing photo ops. I am completely surprised that only a couple of people fall to their death each year as the people I saw appeared to be quite close and I felt myself getting anxiety as I waited for it to happen.

Sadly, we were all too aware of our time constraints and lack of proper clothing so we headed back to the warmth of our car to notice that if we wanted… we could back track a bit and make it to Sedona in time for the sunset. We were only ninety-seven miles away and heck – after 2,200 … what’s another 100?

Motivated to squeeze one more intense sight into our day, we headed south again, then east for a bit (it felt quite misguided to turn onto 40 eastbound) before we exited onto Arizona-89A, a two lane highway stretching through pine forests that put the Pocono Mountains to shame. There had been some recent lumbering along the highway and we passed dozens of piles of timbered pine allowing my mind to imagine them lumbered and waiting for shoppers at Lowes or Home Depot… yes, my mind really does work that way!

Suddenly, the road began to descend and immediately in front of me a canyon appeared leaving me to wonder where in the hell the road went… I quickly found out as we were led into a deep switchback with six hairpin turns that had me gripping the steering wheel so hard that the word Nissan was imprinted in my palm when it was over. All along, Erin was exclaiming “oh my God, Holy Shit! Oh wow!” and more expletives in that genre to announce her awe at the beauty of the panorama in front of us. I was tempted beyond belief to look and take it in but there was traffic coming at me and no guard rail on my side so our lives depended on me staying focused on the road as we descended 4500 feet.

To be continued…

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