Courage. Have you got it?

In The Wizard Of Oz one of the iconic characters is the Cowardly Lion who is looking for his courage. Frank Baum (author of the series)  describes the Cowardly Lion as ‘being grandiose, handsome, and nearly as big as a full grown horse in size. He is a rather cuddly animal despite being so large, and also is a gentle giant at heart. He is said to have golden colored eyes that sparkle like fool’s gold and are full of wit and loyalty. He is warm, plush and soft, having a fluffy, bushy and curly mane that is often adorned with a brightly colored bow of red or green silk.” An image proably easy for most of us to conjure up.

In the film adaptation the Cowardly Lion says…

Courage! What makes a King out of a slave?
Courage! What makes the flag on the mast to wave?
Courage! What makes the elephant charge his tusk, in the misty mist or the dusky dusk?
What makes the muskrat guard his musk?
Courage! What makes the sphinx the seventh wonder?
Courage! What makes the dawn come up like thunder?
Courage! What makes the Hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in apricot?
What have they got that I ain’t got?
All Four-(i.e Dorthy, The Cowardly Lion, The Scarecrow and the Tin Man) Courage!
Lion-Then you can say that again!

I’ve been thinking about vulnerability, exposure, the courage to follow ones convictions, and how to balance it all in ones day/life. A year or so ago, I was once powerfully drawn  to The Wizard of Oz, the story, the movie, the original illustrations, and the message. Today, I found a very interesting article from called Frank Baum, the Man Behind the Curtain: The author of The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum, traveled many paths before he found his Yellow Brick Road.

It seems that Frank was a man who had many trails and it was not all smooth sailing. He wrote The Wizard of Oz “in the spring of 1898, on scraps of ragged paper…” He was 40. The book was published in 1900 and “Baum became not only the best-selling children’s book author in the country, but also the founder of a genre…”  For me there is something very encouraging and heartfelt in those facts. Clearly he followed his own creativity and imagination. He had the perseverance to follow his conviction to write it all down and it obviously turned out wonderfully.  He was a man of courage as best I can tell. The article states “With The Wizard of Oz, the power of self-reliance was colorfully illustrated.” … Self-reliance, heart, brains and courage is still a good mix for modern life. I will now go gather my courage and step forward. And you?

Read more:


Cowardly Lion

The Chapter drawing for The Cowardly Lion.

Inside Cover Wizzard

Book Cover Wizard of OZ Middle: the Inside title page  of the original Book                 Bottom: The Cover of the original book


What do Civil Rights, the Blues Music and Poverty all have in common?

The answer is all in the new book featured below.

I am very pleased, and proud, to announce that my friend, Ray Uzanas, book Faces and Places of the Deep South is now out, published and fantastic!

Why is this on the Botanical Beauties and Beasties blog you may ask? Well, it’s for two reasons. The first is that it is truly a lovely book, quality in all ways. The second is that I was personally involved by doing all the book design, layout and cover work. We are both very pleased to be able to present it and share it!

The words from the author are as follows…

In “Faces and Places of the Deep South,” Raymond Uzanas takes the reader on his 2015 journey through America’s rural south where he visits towns mired in poverty and those infamous for their role in the civil rights movement of mid-20th century America. Uzanas explores the vast Mississippi Delta that gave birth to the Delta Blues sounds; traveling to its smallest desolate towns as well as to Clarksdale and its annual Juke Joint Blues Festival.

Interviews and shared stories with people he meets resonates across racial and economic lines as he profiles the lives and times of today’s Deep South. It is a book mostly about the people–what Ray calls the human wealth of the region. His photographs capture and convey the mood and character of the land and its people. Come along for a ride through a half century of southern history.

You can purchase the book at Amazon or Blurb, or if you are very lucky you can see it/read it at a few select local Libraries.  FYI, the book is costly as it is a high quality, 120 page, full color “picture book” filled with beautiful images as well as amazing stories of civil rights, the extreme poverty and life in the generally unknown Deep South, and the great Delta Blues Music originating from the Deep South. Incidentally, Ray does not mark the books up, the cost you see is truly the raw cost of printing each book and of no profit to the author. If you are interested in purchasing one, the Blurb site is a little less money than Amazon  (since Amazon adds some for themselves.)

The link for Blurb:

The link for Amazon:

We both hope you get a chance to enjoy the many Faces and Places of the Deep South.

Magical Places – Take One. The Center Pompidou

First, you all need to meet my traveling companion. Her name is Elsa, and she will be joining us for the next few postings.

Meet Elsa!

Elsa, a world traveler.

I wrote early in the summer that this season is often a time of journeys. Nobody offered where they were going this summer, or of any other journeys that you all may be on. (I was a little disappointed by that.) Regardless, I got to take an amazing and wonderful journey. I got to go to PARIS FRANCE!  Ooh la la doesn’t even come close to saying how extraordinary it was. I spent my time with an amazing woman I am very proud to call my friend.

Elsa, my traveling sidekick for The Botanicals, will be joining me in showing you bits and bytes of the trip. This series will all be under the umbrella title of ‘Magical Places.’

Elsa took out her magical wand, danced around the floor with it, and POOF, we ended up at The Center Pompidou. Lucky us! First, the building itself is loads of fun. The design came from an international competition, which for some reason absolutely delights me. Of course  it is reminiscent of the world fair and Eiffel Tower competition so many years before.

We met and followed a fun family though a bit of the museum. Their daughter was often in her stroller, rolled in front of a piece of art, given a piece of paper and a drawing tool. She picked one out one element and drew it. Everyone was enjoying. It was absolutely fascinating to see what she choose and how she represented it. What a joy to see parents exposing, challenging, and engaging a child in art this way. We last saw her in this large room where one could take a piece of chalk and add your own part/art to the greater collection of the wall. Elsa joined in on that one!

Chalk wall

Interactive wall art

Below is a small assortment of images from our visit to The Centre Pompidou. Click the arrows to click through  if yours are not cycling through automatically.

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Karma. A force to be reckoned with?

Karma :
The force created by a person’s actions that some people believe causes good or bad things to happen to that person. –

The topic keeps popping up and so its time to be attentive (again).

Recently, I was having a great conversation with a friend about the concept of how the world/people/organizations can be callous and how we let them (enable them?) to siphon our spirit out.  This friend is involved with an ugly business situation that is crushing him. We started chatting about the reflections of ourselves in others. Within friendships, personal and business encounters we act (and react) to these reflections. It is said that emotions don’t belong in business, and although I think business too needs people with hearts, I do understand that raw emotions cannot rule business. However, these ‘reflections’ I am speaking of are far less conscious than unprocessed emotions and are much more subtle. Perspectives verses realities-perhaps. The boundaries of what is acceptable can be fuzzy and clearly differ from the mind and heart of each sender and receiver. Do we stop and think about those reflections? Seldom. However, they no doubt play a large role in our daily stumbles. I am sure these reflections are part of whom we enjoy and disdain, and probably part of why we just don’t like some people we meet. We all know-What we send is usually a reflection what we receive back. I do think reflections can be related to Karma.

The above conversation eventually lead to Karma and who sleeps the best at night? Obviously, most of us think the people who “care more” about the world, humanity, and each other, sleep better. Clearly they are destined to have better Karma.  I acknowledge that the world probably needs a little of the bad, it’s a balance and contrast thing. When folks are down right mean, or “bad” what’s that all about?  What reflections do they see and feel-if any? Do nasty people even stop to think, much less think about what they are “putting out” in the world?  What is their Karma?  If we change our reflections do we change our Karma? What do you think?

Later that day I was poking around on the web and an image popped up that said, “There are two kinds of people in the world: givers and takers. The takers may eat better, but the givers sleep better.”  It turns out the quote is from a motivational speaker/corporation called Ziglar. I thought it was an interesting full circle spin back to my afternoon conversation, one that started with yoga, twirled to reflections and ended with Karma.

It happens continually…
Coincidence-sure you can call it that….
I think Karma also plays into the big picture.
Whether its food, attitude, or actions…
Garbage in=Garbage out.

Ollie - Minister of Truth

Summer travels, journeys, discoveries and destinations……

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. – Marcel Proust

It’s official – it’s summertime. The temps are swinging, and so are the flip flops. Many indications are all pointing to it…

Memorial Day is behind us
July 4th is around the corner
Baseball season is full swing
Flowers are blooming
Landscapes are lush and green
Schools are wrapping up for another year
Vacations are happening
Gardens are being planted
Gardens are being enjoyed
Farmers Markets are popping up
There is color everywhere
Biking, Hiking, Sailing, and all kinds of games abound
…Yep, it’s summertime!

off we go!

Do you have discovery plans? Do they included long distance travel? Maybe local adventures? Dreams-count too!

I think  Proust had it right. The joy, the reason, the adventure, the growth of travel, and in every day, is in how we see it.

What do you want your eyes to be seeing these days?
What are your hopes for your eyes this season?

Jot down your secret dreams for the summer, check back in September and see how you did.


Does clutter become The Fabric of My Life?

Clutter, “Stuff”-The fabric of my life? I hope NOT!  I refuse to believe that my stuff makes up WHO I am. It is true that, partly, it makes up what my home looks like, how crowded my mind, and possibly my life, may be at any given moment. All this “stuff” didn’t just appear one day in my house, my mind, or my life, it’s an insidious, slow moving, existential like growth. Maybe it is like fabric? I suppose it did start as a small swatch and has evolved into yards and yards over the years. If I continue with this analogy… fabrics can get messy and be washed, they can get cut up and reused or re-purposed, they can be loved as well as tossed out or given away. Sometimes they fade, and sometimes we have to give them up for they are no longer possible in the space. My “fabric” (like yours probably) has pretty much been through most/all of those scenarios.

This topic has come up for I am reorganizing my office/studio. It is the result of winter damage, which meant a wall and ceiling needed to be repaired, which meant EVERYTHING had to come out of a VERY crowded, over stuffed, “creative chaos” room. Not a bad thing in the long run, however in the short run it has been exhausting. Taxing my left side brain into hyper organization and lots of practice in the art of “letting go”-into the recycle, trash, or donate pile. This brings up another favorite topic, the one of Intention. I am practicing that skill as well. I read an article that stated- “Most traditional approaches do not consider the energetic impact of clearing, no matter how miniscule the task or effort. The fact is, clearing anything consciously and gently … creates an energetic opening—a spaciousness—that works on us slowly and surely to soften our grip of attachments.” (article)  I have been very intently/consciously clearing things out for approximately three years now. It started with the closets full of clothes, and slowly I have been working on the “stuff.”  The office/studio has accelerated the cause along. In theory (and mind) I don’t want the all this stuff, I want my space (in all ways) to be clearer. Much easily said than done for me. However, it is better than before and I am slowly learning the process and power of Intention in so many aspects of life. Intention of letting go. Intention of holding on when appropriate. Intention of a never ending process of moving on to whatever is next with an open mind and heart. Intention of clearing (in mind as well as physical space.)  An intention of realizing it is not about throwing away something but is often about letting go of a far bigger commodity than the goods in my hand. I am far from done. I will probably always be working on this “intention and clearing process.” It will probably never be easy, or fun. I do know it does feel good to let some of these things go. There is some truth to the saying of- Clear the clutter, Clear the mind. 

For all those that are spring cleaning, or life clearing- May the journey be partly to embrace the change, and enjoy the clean air in that new cleared space. (At least, that’s what I am trying to do.)

It always comes back to KINDNESS. This time it’s kindness to yourself, give yourself a break, a pat on the back, and awareness that the journey is what often matters and that simple is often an easier way to go. As Robert Browning so famously said, and the architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe beautifully adapted-Less is More.

Birdelini takes on the motto of Less is More in her Simple Spring Hat 2015 collection.

Birdelini takes on the motto of Less is More in her Simple Spring Hat 2015 collection.

Changes: “Life is a series of surprises.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

First I was going to write about a topic that has been fascinating me since I heard a TED Talk  called How to spot a liar” by Pamela Meyer. It’s about trust, deception, and our society’s propensity for lies. It’s compelling, and I recommend using 18 mins of your life to listen to it. However, I moved on to topic #2. That was to be Clutter – Clear the clutter, clear the mind. Goes with new beginnings and one of my favorite topics-Letting go! Although those words and thoughts take up a LARGE portion of my mind these days, it was too much, too complex, and more than I wanted to share in words. Therefore, it was shelved for “later.”  Topic #3 was intriguing when I wandered over to  the word of Friendship. However, as I sat down to write I changed my mind again and indeed the topic I have settled on is CHANGE. Particularly , change with Botanical Beauties and Beasties.

The Quote below is from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Essays and Lectures. “From a layered and immeasurably insightful 1841 essay titled “Circles,” exploring the pillars of personal growth and how we can learn to stop resisting the very things that help us transcend our self-imposed limitations.” I found it on a site I read regularly called Brain Pickings. Click for the full story.

Every ultimate fact is only the first of a new series… The new statement is always hated by the old, and, to those dwelling in the old, comes like an abyss of skepticism.


In nature every moment is new; the past is always swallowed and forgotten… Nothing is secure but life, transition, the energizing spirit. No love can be bound by oath or covenant to secure it against a higher love. No truth so sublime but it may be trivial to-morrow in the light of new thoughts. People wish to be settled; only as far as they are unsettled is there any hope for them.

Life is a series of surprises.”

Surprise # 1:  I might have mentioned to you I am changing the tag line of the business. I am thinking about simplifying things across the board. In life, and so in my business as well. That means change. The tag line has been “Live Kind. Live Green. Live Creatively .” When I do shows those words will continue to serve my story verbally and I still believe in them wholeheartedly. However, I have been thinking for a couple of years now, If the world were to be a bit more “evolved” then Live Kind, Live Green would be one and the same. If we are to truly live within Kindness, that translates  into kindness for self, others, and the world around us, including the planet we all share. So, in the hopes of evolution of us all, and in the process of simplification…. the new line is …. are you ready?…. drum beat please…. Kindess. it's always the bottom line.

As for the third part,  i.e. Live Creatively …Well that most surely continues. Creativity comes in many forms and sizes mostly as words, images, motions and thoughts. We (society) need much help if creativity disappears. For me it is important that I utilize my creativity often, when I don’t my mind gets (even more?) muddled. My thoughts are far enough off the beaten road at times without adding any extra curves! But, I’m also glad about that-without those thoughts, ideas, and imagination the Botanical Beauties would never have been created, launched or shared in any manner. I hope we all agree that would be a shame.

The next step is to figure out to keep moving forward and what’s up next. New paths are ahead, changes are ahead, but I am not clear yet on what, when, where, or how. I continue to work on learning the how, and simultaneously, trying to do (!) the writing and illustrating of  my children’s book. The book has totally changed recently. I will share the New Book when I get a better grip on it.

If anyone has any solid ideas about good marketing, or paths to follow for the Botanical Beauties and Beasties, by all means, please speak up! New crossroads, new thoughts, new directions are indeed what I am looking for!

Surprise #2 – Well, time will tell.


Zoie and Kindness

What’s behind those Foster Grants?

A lot has happened in the past month or so. A constant thought has been an awareness that I/we often don’t really know what’s going on with whomever is front of me/us. What’s the back story? Is their a cause and effect? Am I missing something? Do they have a “truth” that if I knew would cause me to understand or perceive something, or them, differently? Creating a different interaction? Changing the outcome of an event? This happens everyday, small events and spreads to gigantic events that can effect many.

As I often do, I was listening to NPR en route to work. This week had two particular interesting pieces to me with my Things are not what they always appear to be mindset. The first-

Ollie and The Thunder Lizzard

Who’s behind those Foster Grants?


“Is It Time To Resurrect The Brontosaurus?”

The Brontosaurus may be back.

Not that it ever really went away, at least not in the minds of generations of people who grew up watching Fred Flintstone devour one of his beloved Brontosaurus burgers.

But, if you’re a scientist, you have to stick to the rules, and in 1903, the name Brontosaurus was struck from the record. That was when paleontologist Elmer Riggs deemed that the Brontosaurus was really just a different dinosaur, Apatosaurus…..As NPR reported in 2012, the tussle over naming the dinosaur goes back to the so-called Bone Wars of the late 1800s, when rival fossil hunters raced to name new Thdinosaurs. Othniel Charles Marsh led a team that found the skeletons of two creatures….

The first was found in 1877 and named Apatosaurus. But, as the story says, “it was missing a skull, so in 1883 when Marsh published a reconstruction of his Apatosaurus, Lamanna says he used the head of another dinosaur — thought to be a Camarasaurus — to complete the skeleton.”…The second dinosaur, found in 1879, was named Brontosaurus, or “thunder lizard.”… As Smithsonian notes, “The fate of Brontosaurus now relies upon whether other paleontologists will be able to replicate the results, as well as what those researchers think about the threshold for when dinosaurs merit different names.”

It’s taken more than 100 years, but the Brontosaurus may be on the road to redemption….” To read the whole article, click here. 

The part that actually thrilled me was the sub name for Brontosaurus, of “thunder lizard!”  A giant, long-necked, heavy bodied, swamp-dwelling, 15-30 ton, well loved by many small children, and movie goers, creature possibly never even existed and is a lizard?!!!! Who knew lizards could be have such a breath of size possibilities? It was news to me. No wonder the word THUNDER is in its name! The need to make lots of noise and be heard seems clear for the cause. Where is the truth? What’s the real story? What’s the back story?  In the name,  it seems that someone had either a great imagination, or sense of humor, with the words THUNDER LIZARD? The pairing of those two words seems incongruous and yet somehow wonderful! This delights me. Who’s behind those Foster Grants-a giant thundering big stomping dinosaur? A scampering tiny camouflaged quick creature? A minister of truth? A 1879 Brontosaurus? A few bones here or there, a skull-for sure they all make a difference, I get it but….There always seems to be a back story-even in science!  There are at least 1/2 dozen articles this week on this issue-it’s big news in the Dino world. Who would think in spring 2015 the Brontosaurus would be prime time news?  In the words of Abbott and Costello, Who’s on First?  Does it matter? Who’s behind those dark glasses? It all mysteriously ties together for me. Does it for you?

As for the second piece of NPR that drew me-well, you will have to wait until next time. This is plenty to think about for now… Stay tuned and enjoy the very welcome warmth and sunshine of springtime. Today, up here in NE, we are finally getting to see, and feel, a bit of spring. Flowers should start popping out soon-thank goodness for small miracles of nature!

  Calthia is created from the first crocus of springtime. Her job is Clean Air. Seems suitable as she helps blow away the dregs of winter!!

Calthia is created from the first crocus of springtime. Her job is Clean Air. Seems suitable as she helps blow away the dregs of winter!!

World Water Day 2015

Today is a holiday to celebrate water! Yesterday, I got to see the Atlantic Ocean and water everywhere-it was wonderful. Water has a way of southing and nourishing my soul, my spirits and my heart all at once. We are lucky here and water abounds. I drink many glasses a day of water. Water flows out of the spigot easily for so many uses almost as if by magic. It’s without much thought to the availability, and ease, of that fabulous water that my daily routine flows each day.

However, World Water Day is a serious issue. I like the way Time Magazine featured it-so I will give you the first bit here, and then send you all over to the article for the rest. 

A holiday for H2O

Sunday is World Water Day, a United Nations initiative to celebrate clean water and bring attention to those who don’t have enough of it. A new report released ahead of World Water Day warns about a looming shortage, and centers on this year’s theme: water and sustainable development.

Here are five ways to celebrate World Water Day….

(I’ll give you a hint as the five: food, females, and of course- poop- but it’s not what you think. By the way, on the last one, check out the astronauts, they and Bill Gates have this “recycle” process in common!) 

Another great site and easy to absorb (ha ha) info is from UNWater. It’s a great presentation of water and the worlds needs.

I close this post with MOE- Botanical Beauties Minister of Clean Water.

He has water-breathing gills and can travel in the seas for as long as needed. He and his family can adapt to sea or land as needed. This makes Moe’s job as Minister of Clean Water a natural for him. As he swims, he performs water tests, makes notations of underwater spots of beauty and reports on problem areas. Unfortunately, these areas are more common than he would like to see. He strives to help in any way he can, for he is aware that it all starts with ONE person, or in this case one Botanical Fish. 

Moe, Our Minster of Clean Water

Moe in his element WATER.

Feathers, Fuddles and Hope. What!?


Fuddles the Feather of Wonder (and hope.)

Feathers: They are soft, they drift and can wander wherever, in my world they are a wonderment, they represent Part to Whole with their collective pieces  helping a bird to fly, often times very pretty, possibly colorful, full of potential-representing dreams and hopes, and they are floaty-a fun word and a fine flexible attribute!

I have been thinking about connectivity, the occurrences that happen and the randomness (or not) of it all. The never-ending question of…Are their Coincidences? Do all things happen for a reason, however unclear it may be at the time?

Fuddles, a character in my children’s picture book, is a protagonist with the cause being the Wonder of Planet Earth. Fuddles image became a feather from the seed of an idea that “something” could impart “goodness.”  The form that the something was to take began with conversations and bouncing around ideas. I needed a physical form but I couldn’t get my finger on. Once Fuddles was a feather it all became clear. Fuddles was not only an ecological presence but also one of hope and vision. Months later I came to realize the strong connection to the hope concepts of Fuddles. Hope became a topic of much thought and conversation with many who crossed my path. In this (not so random) universe the topic of hope seems to be everywhere these days. (Or is that just my awareness and focus?)  From the somewhat benign, such as the weather forecast which can’t get enough of the omnipresence Hope for (the upcoming and not soon enough for me) Spring, to the paramount news reminding us this is the anniversary of the famous Edmund Pettus Bridge walk in Selma Ala. where Hope was, and still is, a clear message. I randomly was watching a movie called Finding Normal that stated, “…and now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But, the greatest of these is love.” (apparently that is a biblical passage from Corinthians 13:13.) So there is was again, this time in entertainment. We all know the idiom of-Hope springs eternal. Indeed, Hope is sometimes the string that keeps us moving foreword in large and small endeavors.

I looked up the symbolic meanings of feathers and found this. “Symbol meaning of feathers deal with ascension and spiritual evolution to a higher plane…Native American Chiefs wore feathers to symbolize their communication with Spirit, and to express their celestial wisdom…Another symbol meaning of feathers also revolves around prayer, and the Pueblo use feather sticks as they dance in prayer for rain during solstice rituals..As a Celtic symbol meaning (connected the Druids to) sky gods and (to) gain knowledge of the celestial realm…The Egyptians believed that feathers were symbolic of sky gods too. Ma’at, the Egyptian goddess of justice, would weigh the hearts of the newly dead in the underworld against the weight of a feather to determine the worthiness of his or her soul…In Christianity feathers represented virtues. In fact, an image of three feathers were made into signet rings – each feather symbolizing Charity, hope, and faith…In dreams feathers meanings point to travel or the ability to move more freely in life. White feathers in dreams indicate innocence or a fresh start in a spiritual sense.”  -(read more –website)  All the above are essentially about Hope. Hope has a forward momentum, it’s about the future and thinking thoughts/dreams/desires/needs as to what’s next, regardless of how immediate or far off in the “next” may be.

My question to you is as follows. It’s for further books and for my curiosity. What emotions, and words do feathers evoke for you?
Please Let me know in a comment below.

The Original feather

The Original feather of inspiration.

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