Friday, February 28, 2014

Choosing tangible connections

In this day and age in which a remarkable chunk of society seems almost obsessed with social media, and mainstream culture is influenced way too much by trends on Facebook, Twitter and other networking sites, it's refreshing to hear about someone -- and a high-profile individual at that -- who doesn't go for the whole "I'll broadcast my idea on Twitterdom" thing and to hear her explain it so simply.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In good company?

One day several months ago, on Facebook:

"You are the average of the company you keep. Choose wisely."  ~ Leah Darrow

"...and then you should examine if within your group [you are] raising or lowering the average!" ~ commenter

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Seeing gratitude in the age of the quick "tnx"

"If you have nothing to be grateful for, check your pulse."

That's what it said on the sticky note I saw somewhere, driving home a point that's been expressed in countless other ways but which can easily be done away with. Somehow, "count your blessings" just doesn't have the same impact (the inevitable fate of cliches) -- unless you're a 10-year-old benefiting from a teaching moment with your mom or your lolo and probably hearing the proverb for the first time.

One thing I realized a couple of nights ago was that listening to people, one after another, express their gratitude can lead to the equivalent of the happy hormone kicking in. I'm not sure if hormones "kick in" (oxytocin is what I have in mind) but I'm certain that if wires, adhesives and other monitoring gadgets were attached to my body, my brain would indicate lots of activity in the "delight area." In other words, I was happy! Here's what happened: I explored a dozen or so videos of acceptance speeches given at various Academy Awards ceremonies. Was I pleasantly surprised. I won't tell you more but let me share with you a few of those that I loved, whether for the actors' spontaneity, sense of gratitude, wit, or apparent other-centeredness.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How Life is going around the world

Would you like to go around the world in 8... headlines? Here's a glimpse of news and features concerning life and family matters.

Bolivia says no to abortion: Recognizes "right to life" from conception
by Youth Defence | La Paz, Bolivia | | 2/17/14 7:16 PM

A judge in Bolivia has ruled that abortion is considered a crime and that the law of the land recognizes the ‘right of life from the moment of conception’. 

Pro-Life students fight back after University of Alabama crushes free speech
by Kristan Hawkins | Montgomery, AL | | 2/17/14 11:26 AM

Today, Students for Life of America is calling for the University of Alabama to reverse their decision to tear down a pro-life bulletin board and issue an apology to Bama Students for Life.

DOH exec: If RH Law is junked, implementation still on
 ( |

MANILA, Philippines - A Department of Health (DOH) official admitted that the contents of the controversial Reproductive Health Law can still be implemented by the agency even without the measure.

Doctor Ruben Siapno, DOH National Capital Region assistant regional director, said in a recent media conference that family planning services can still be provided even if the Supreme Court decides that the law is unconstitutional.

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Monday ordered changes to a draft of new criminal legislation in response to an international outcry warning it would severely limit justice for victims of domestic abuse, his spokesman said. - See more at:

Belgium poised to complete legalization of euthanasia for children
February 17, 2014

Euthanasia is a culture of death which knows no boundaries.  Once begun, it spreads like cancer to include additional diseases, conditions and even age groups.  The latest domino to fall is action in Belgium to legalize euthanasia for children.  Yes — for children.  In December, the Belgian Senate voted for legalization by a 50-17 vote and the Chamber of Representatives followed suit last week by an overwhelming vote of 88-44 with 12 abstentions to approve.   

King Philippe, Belgium’s constitutional head of state, is expected to sign the legislation into law.

Urgent: Tell the FDA what you think about "three-parent" embryos
Sunday, February 16, 2014

On February 25th and 26th, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will be having a meeting to discuss allowing the technique that creates embryos with three genetic parents to proceed to clinical trials. The "three-parent" embryo technique is also called mitochondrial replacement, maternal spindle transfer, or oocyte modification. 

Pope urges engaged couples to build marriage on "rock of love"

By Elise Harris

.- During a special encounter with engaged couples, Pope Francis emphasized that to love someone forever is possible if we are humble, and that marriage should be a celebration filled with joy.

"She will live on forever within Iver": Canadian "brain dead" woman gives birth to healthy son
By Peter Baklinski / Tue, Feb. 11, 2014, 13:32 EST

VICTORIA, British Columbia, February 11, 2014 ( – A Canadian father and husband is experiencing an impossible mix of emotions at the birth of his first child followed by the passing of his wife, who was declared ‘brain dead’ by doctors in December.

Disabled brother inspires Alex Bilodeau's gold medal run
Reuters, Feb. 10/ 6:15 pm EST

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia - Alex Bilodeau toiled for fours years to retain his Olympic moguls title on Monday but said that was nothing compared to the struggles of his inspirational brother, who has cerebral palsy. - See more at:
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia - Alex Bilodeau toiled for fours years to retain his Olympic moguls title on Monday but said that was nothing compared to the struggles of his inspirational brother, who has cerebral palsy. - See more at:
ROSA KHUTOR, Russia - Alex Bilodeau toiled for fours years to retain his Olympic moguls title on Monday but said that was nothing compared to the struggles of his inspirational brother, who has cerebral palsy. - See more at:

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Online shaming, the 'age of awesome' & other features of our times

What do you do with hundreds of bookmarked links on your computer that have been bookmarked for over a year? Leave them there? That's what I've done... after repeatedly telling myself I will delete some of them because -- let's face it -- most of these just stay there without serving any purpose other than reminding me they're there just in case I'll need them/want to read them again in the future. Well, a while ago I've decided that I'll delete like mad. A lot of the materials make for good reading and do contain substantial points worth remembering or pondering -- even living by.

So, why would I keep such materials to myself? I'm randomly picking several that I'd like to share with you, starting them with an excerpt from each link:

I hadn’t fallen out of love with my husband, not remotely, but the intense self-sacrifice that was being asked of me during our first walk through a valley was enough to make a part of me yearn for my days of singlehood. Having naively expected the honeymoon to last forever, I was caught off-guard by the challenge of caring for someone I wasn’t currently feeling dizzyingly, head-over-heels, madly in love with. What had always come easy—nurturing my man and marriage—was, for the first time, hugely difficult without the consolation of romantic sentiment. In the blink of an eye, a bucket of ice cold water had crashed over my na├»ve, fanciful visions of what marriage was all about.

Read Refined by Fire

* * * * * * * * * *

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an international playboy. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I liked the sound of it. I imagined yachts would somehow be involved and top models. And planes: lots of planes flying hither and thither over impossibly blue skies. The day would start in New York and end in Martinique, perhaps with a stop-off for lunch in Miami, if I could be bothered. I didn’t really get to live that life (thank God), but I see it up close now and then and it makes me giggle.

Read The Virtues of Fine in the Age of Awesome

* * * * * * * * * * *

Conversations, as they tend to play out in person, are messy—full of pauses and interruptions and topic changes and assorted awkwardness. But the messiness is what allows for true exchange. It gives participants the time—and, just as important, the permission—to think and react and glean insights. “You can’t always tell, in a conversation, when the interesting bit is going to come,” Turkle says. “It’s like dancing: slow, slow, quick-quick, slow. You know? It seems boring, but all of a sudden there’s something, and whoa.”
Occasional dullness, in other words, is to be not only expected, but celebrated. Some of the best parts of conversation are, as Turkle puts it, “the boring bits.” In software terms, they’re features rather than bugs.

Read Saving the Lost Art of Conversation

* * * * * * * * * *

When Mike “Gabe” Krahulik, the artist behind the popular webcomic Penny Arcade, heard that an unprofessional PR rep for a game controller had been insulting and taunting one of his readers, he gleefully posted the damning emails to his website, along with the man’s Twitter name, for the express purpose of unleashing the Internet kraken.
“I have a real problem with bullies,” Krahulik wrote, after the marketer was deluged with hate mail. “I spent my childhood moving from school to school and I got made fun of every place I landed. I feel like he is a bully and maybe that’s why I have no sympathy here. Someday every bully meets an even bigger bully, and maybe that’s me in this case.”

But even if you think your bullying is serving a greater good, the fact remains that you’re still just a bully.

Read Why You Should Think Twice Before Shaming Anyone on Social Media

* Illustration from Creative Educator

Friday, February 14, 2014

Hearts on fire: what is the big deal?

"It's just sex -- what is the big deal?"

Ever heard that line before? I have, plenty of times. And uttered with unmistakable exasperation. Which may as well have had the person say it straight instead of posing a question. Because what was probably on her mind was "It's just sex -- it's no big deal."

Thing is, regarding sex as "no big deal" often means not understanding sex beyond its being a biological function. Two people do it, do their best to enjoy it, and there you go. Love can be part of the equation, but not necessarily. They may be a couple, they may have met for the first time only hours before. Money may
have been part of the exchange. A dare may have been part of the deal. Each of them may be bound by a matrimonial vow, but not to one another. She could be totally into him and hopes to reel him in permanently, while he could be counting her as the "Flavor of the Month," one of many conquests. But one thing about us human beings is that none of us (man or woman) relish being treated like ice cream -- source of delight and center of attention for the time being, only to be set aside and eventually forgotten when the thrill wears off and the need for a  more exciting flavor sets in.

If you find that you do regard sex as no big deal, it's still possible you understand that sex is meant to be more than the physical and emotional (some will add spiritual) highs that it can lead to and which brilliant scripts and brilliant lighting and brilliant music (plus a stellar cast) can make it out to be. Sometime ago you may even have understood that sex is something special and beautiful but then somewhere along the way, you experienced some things that changed all that. It could be anything, from porn and your "wise" friends' pronouncements about "exciting hook-ups," to your parents' breakup and one guy's undivided attention that he quickly turned elsewhere after you gave him all of yours (and much, much more). It could be anything. But, see, you don't have a monopoly on this downward change in perspective about love and relationships due to your surroundings or your experiences. And more importantly, you're not the only one who – maybe deep down inside – dreams of something better. And most importantly, there is reason to hope for and work for something better.

So then why is sex a big deal? Well, because love is a big deal. And who have been created to love? It's certainly not those cute dogs, lovable though they are. It's (surprise, surprise) we -- you and me and every other person on the planet. We have been created out of love, to love, and we have an entire lifetime to do this. And sex is merely an extension of how love -- complete, self-giving love --  is manifested within the proper parameters. Lest I end up making sex seem like the end-all and be-all of life (which it is not, but it is the subject of this post, after all), let me then emphasize a vital point about it that anyone can easily overlook at one time or another, if not occasionally reminded: everything good in this world is a gift, and that includes sex. Thing is, when we discard the notion of something as a gift, we tend to be careless. Pretty soon we adopt an attitude that has us thinking we deserve this and that and so many other things.

Picture this: when something has been given as a gift, it ought to be appreciated and taken care of. When you give a good friend  a present, do you rejoice at seeing it tossed aside? When it's something precious, would handling it carelessly be the right thing to do? In the same way, love, sex, relationships, family, your significant other and all these in your life that money cannot buy are gifts, and keeping that in mind will help you remember that they are a big deal -- in varying degrees.

But here's something else: think of yourself as a gift and you'll realize that you are important, that you are a big deal. It's not some feel-good concept or something I'm saying just to boost your self-confidence (though the latter may end up being a result of this realization); it is the truth. And the more people take it to heart, the happier we will be and the easier it will be to decide what are worth prioritizing and what can be relegated to the back when it comes to the choices we make.

When you think of yourself as a gift, you'll naturally expect to be treated well, to be treated carefully. Because you are a big deal.

Now that we're talking gifts, a lot of those boxed presents and be-ribboned blooms are being handed out this week (the entire month, actually, as Valentine's Day in the more commercialized locales is extended into a long money-making opportunity -- not being cynical here, just presenting a pragmatic perspective with which quite a number of entrepreneurs treat the occasion). Enjoy them! At the same time, choose wisely when it comes to invitations to celebrate a "Happy Hearts' Day". Choose what wisely? The person extending the invite, your ensemble, the activity, the venue, the decision (to accept or not to accept), everything. If you're the guy, let your inner gentleman come out if you've been keeping him in hiding. For some pointers to consider (and some entertaining reads), here are links worth checking out. It's Valentine Month, but I suggest not reading them with rose-colored glasses (read: take them in with eyes wide open):

Equal love is unequal love

On protecting your lady love

Putting the "Saint" back in Valentine's Day 

"Purity Ring 3000"

Of chastity, tattoos, and the Powerpuff Girls

P.S. Oh, parents, I think you will want to see this

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