Corals are chirping canaries

What is Coral? Coral is made up of many tiny polyps and are related to jelly fish. The polyps work to create hard limestone skeletons for protection, and they get their vibrant ‘color’ from the algae they host.

Corals are either hard or soft. Hard corals are the reef-builders and get their food and energy from working together with the algae. Hard corals are found in shallow water in order to make the best use of sunlight and to allow the algae to do their job.

Hard coral, Genesis Nature blog

Reefs begin when a polyp attaches itself to a rock on the sea floor, then divides, or buds, into thousands of clones. The polyp calicles connect to one another, creating a colony that acts as a single organism. As colonies grow over hundreds and thousands of years, they join with other colonies and become reefs. Some of the coral reefs we enjoy on our planet today began growing over 50 million years ago.

PHOTOGRAPH BY BRIAN J. SKERRY, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Soft corals look like feather-like plants or wispy trees. They are not reef builders because they do not create a boney skeleton like hard corals. You can tell soft coral from hard coral because soft corals have eight fuzzy tentacles for feeding, while their cousin, the hard coral, have rings of six smooth tentacles.

Soft coral, posted by Seatech

Soft coral by Genesis Nature blog

Hard coral at Jarvis Island National Wildlife Refuge

Coral reefs are extremely biologically diverse ecosystems, often called the “rain forests of the sea.” Even though they spread only over less than 1% of the seafloor– coral reefs support a staggering one-fourth of all marine species.

The ocean absorbs up to a third of humankind’s carbon emissions. As a result, we have less carbon in the atmosphere, which is good—but this also leads to the acidification of the ocean as the carbon turns into carbonic acid.

PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID DOUBILET, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

PHOTOGRAPH BY CARLOS BOMBARDELLI, MY SHOT

The mushroom coral above uses its amazing technicolor mouth to feast on adult jellyfish. The corals simply wait for jellies to run into them, then snare them with stinging tentacles and shove them into their mouths. Mushroom corals (soft corals) are among the world’s biggest polyps and live as individuals.

PHOTOGRAPH BY STEVE RUDDY, MY SHOT

The Benthic Underwater Microscope (BUM) allows divers to capture photos of corals over time. They used the BUM in the Gulf of Eilat to observe corals feeding, fighting, sharing, and even ‘kissing’ (above), a previously unobserved behavior. Two polyps connect their gastrovascular openings at night, dubbed ‘polyp kissing,’ this behavior likely allows the polyps to exchange materials, such as food.

Scientists injected Artemia, a brine shrimp, near the coral and captured a time-lapse video of communal feeding between two neighboring polyps. The two polyps work together by intertwining their tentacles to digest their prey. Scientists hope that the BUM instrument will be a breakthrough tool in understanding how corals work in the complex and constantly changing environment of the sea floor.

Two different loose corals colonies, Stylophora on the left and Pocillopora on the right were placed close together to induce competition. “When corals compete for dominance, they emit mesenterial filaments, string-like structures, which they use to attack and, ultimately, digest their rival” (Time, 2016).

Andrew Porterfield, 2016, by Genetic Literacy Project

Watch the creative and diverse symbiotic relationships of corals in this video.

All reefs are an essential part of our planet that many species depend on—including about 500 million humans. Reefs provide food for millions of people, protect coastlines from erosion, give us new medicines, and even stoke the engines of commerce. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates that reefs contribute nearly $30 billion to the global economy each year.

Locations of coral reefs around the world

Now for the bad news: Due to coral bleaching, which is caused by unusually warm water and pollution, the symbiotic organisms that give coral their effervescent color are fleeing!

“If you think of corals as canaries, they’re chirping really loudly right now.” Researchers from NOAA report that the mass injury of coral—known as bleaching—has now covered a larger area than any previous bleaching event. The report shows a 90% chance of continued bleaching in the Pacific Ocean, as well as off the coasts of the U.S. It is caused by high ocean temperatures disrupting coral ecosystems.

The ongoing bleaching event—the longest in recorded history —began in 2014 and has killed more than a third of coral in some locations. This is the “most widespread, largest bleaching event ever to occur globally,” said Mark Eakin, a NOAA coral reef scientist.

What can we do? Simple things like help support nonprofit efforts to clean and quit polluting our oceans–and treating corals as the elegant living animals that they are. We can work with our governments to protect them. Also, the sunscreen we use around them severely damages them.

Corals are bleached on a seabed near Okinawa island on Aug. 26, 2013

The effects of a chemical in sunscreen are toxic at the concentration equivalent to a drop of water in an Olympic pool,” say researchers who published a recent study in the journal Archives of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology.

If you’ve had the extreme pleasure of visiting a coral reef, either as a diver or snorkeler, you already understand how important it is that we protect these fragile ecosystems. If you have not (please do before they are gone!) cover up with tight clothing instead of sunscreen, take loads of pictures and leave only bubbles–avoiding touching or kicking these creative animals.

Photo: Scott Sporleder

I’m an avid snorkeler and have made it a life’s mission to visit every single island in the Caribbean, along with other notable areas with coral before they are gone. Here’s to exploration (and protection) of the most beautiful and exotic living things on our planet earth! It is truly shocking (and utterly depressing) what is happening to these animals, which we should have the most extreme respect for.

UPDATE TO POST: The trailer below is for a new Netflix documentary on coral reefs, which utilizes time-lapsed photography data–an indisputable method–to capture the truth behind what is happening to our beloved corals!

Now showing on Netflix— Chasing Coral— a must watch documentary! The world-wide time-lapsed photography shows how coral reefs are dieing. The not to be missed photography is so beautiful and so sad. Photographers for this documentary risk their lives to show the true story of what is happening to our corals due to climate change in our lifetimes. A never seen before geologic bleaching event (that we helped create) is captured in the coral reefs.

Coral Reefs will likely be gone in our lifetimes— 25 years or so at the current rate. It only takes a 2 degree temperature change in our oceans to bleach the coral, which eventually die. The oceans have absorbed the additional CO2 we have created during our industrial revolution decades–enabling us to still enjoy our atmosphere. But our blue waters have paid a terrible price for this action. Our coral reefs are disintegrating before our eyes… the film documents how 30% is already dead in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia and the rate is accelerating (drastically) with time. Very scary folks! You can get involved at http://www.chasingcoral.com/#action

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

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We Survived the EYE OF IRMA

Wolfgang, my husband, and I were sitting in the Atlanta airport on Sept. 1 waiting for our flight to St. Maarten with boarding passes in hand. I decided– last minute–to go to weather.com to check on that tropical storm that was brewing in the Atlantic Ocean. We had left our home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on Thursday in order to arrive on Friday. We were beyond excited: A three-week vacation snorkeling in those turquoise waters was going to be paradise. We were in tropical heaven thinking about it until I pulled up that website. “Honey, look the tropical storm is now a hurricane and it is headed right for the islands! Look! Look!” I said. I had the most terrible feeling in my gut… all the bells and whistles were going off, ‘oh no don’t get on that plane!’

St Maarten relative to other Leeward Islands. Island is split between the French and Dutch side. We were on Dutch side.

Wolfgang responded that the flight is totally booked and there is a long stand-by list of people waiting to get on. Do we really want to bail now—now that we are getting ready to board? We had minutes to make a decision and decided to board. Could all these people be wrong? Rationality settled in and the bells and whistles in my gut were put aside. We can deal with this when we get there.

Simpson Bay resort pre-Hurricane Irma

Next we are sitting in our gorgeous timeshare room on the 7th floor at the Simpson Bay resort– located on the Dutch side of the island–when an email popped up from our timeshare exchange group. They wrote if we wanted to cancel our trip to the Caribbean due to the pending weather we could. This was Friday afternoon and official check-in was tomorrow. How could they be sending this option to us so late??

Wolfgang: Snorkeling is our favorite activity on the island

I quickly e-mailed my nephew Justin, a certified meteorologist, asking him for his advice on the likelihood that Irma would hit us. Should we get off the island pronto? We heard back from Justin who said it would likely skirt us, making a northeast turn. However, he said we’ll get category 4 or 5 winds and he personally would not take the risk.

From this point forward the rest of our time on the island was spent trying to find a flight off the island. Everything was booked and overbooked. Everyone was trying to avoid this monster storm, regardless if it was only going to ‘skirt’ us. We wanted out! But there was no getting off the island. Not enough flights and too many people wanting out. We told our families the news, we would have to ride out this storm, please pray for us.

Up to Tuesday all of our time was spent preparing for Irma. We knew we would loose power and water. We had enough food and bottled water for 3 weeks. We went to multiple grocery stores to stock up even more. We noticed on the French side they were boarding up absolutely everything: They were not taking any chances. They suffered the brunt of the last hurricane, Luis, a category 4, which struck in 1995. Nine had been killed and it devastated the island’s economy. Irma looked a lot like Luis they thought… Even more eerie, Irma was due to hit St. Martin/Maarten on the same day–Sept 6–when Luis had hit. The irony of it was surreal!  

Luis path in 1995 devastated St Maarten/Martin

The last item we wanted– and searched endlessly for– was duct tape for our windows. Wow, we had a lot of glass in our room, extensive sliding glass doors in both the living room and bedroom. If they were to break, at least the tape would prevent shattering shards (we thought). 

It was odd to us that none of the locals we spoke to wanted to discuss the hurricane… they would say, “no, no– no hurricane,” and put their finger to their lips saying ssshhh. It was bad luck for them to speak about it, to give it a place in reality… if they did it might become a reality. “I think we will get lucky but I will prepare anyway,” was a common response.

On Tuesday we received the latest Irma report from Justin. It helped to know what kind of wind speeds we’d have to endure at what times of the evening. It was clear to him (after reviewing all the models) that the worst would hit between 3-4:30 AM Wednesday morning (BTW, he nailed everything). We would brace ourselves for this. After living in Houston I had experienced a few hurricanes already and knew the bathroom was safest. No windows. We moved two outside lounge chairs into the bathroom to use when the time came.

We went to bed Tuesday evening around 10 pm thinking we could get a few hours sleep before the worst of Irma. There were no shudders on any windows so we had moved furniture in front of our sliding glass doors and pulled the curtains tightly shut. In the living room we pulled out the murphy beds and pushed the mattresses against the windows and piled more furniture against them.

We had met with our suitemate, Nina, earlier from the adjoining room. We unlocked our adjoining door and made a pact to weather the storm together. Whoever’s room survived the best, we would move there during the storm if needed. I advised Nina to stay in her bathroom through the worst of it. We taped her sliding glass doors and moved furniture in front of them as well. The three of us were prepared as best we could be. It helped to know that our resort was considered a shelter for the island, it was a cement building with 8 floors. Locals had flocked here and checked into our resort before the storm.

Nina, our new friend, came alone to SXM. She helps get the homeless off the streets in New Jersey.

About midnight I moved from our bedroom into the bathroom. The wind had become really loud and kept flinging the huge potted palm tree that was next door on the balcony against our bedroom wall. Wow, was it loud! Wolfgang moved into the bathroom a little later, he made some coffee and grabbed his book. The rest of our story becomes terrifying… absolutely terrifying.

Water first started coming into our living room, a lot of water, then our bedroom and bathroom. Wolfgang started using our beach towels to try to soak it up… when POP part of the sliding glass door blew out in the living room. This set up a horrific domino effect: The pressure instantaneously caused the front door frame to break and then worse… the bathroom door to break open. We were using all our might to close that outer bathroom door, which was impossible until Wolfgang jammed the lawn chair under the door and into the wall. But it still wouldn’t stay shut! I moved into the toilet room, which had a separate door. Wolfgang stayed in the outer bathroom holding the door shut with all his strength. He could not completely shut this door for the rest of the storm.

It is now around 4 AM and I’m sitting in the bathtub with a big pillow in front of me— the ceiling tiles were flying everywhere. The whole room is shaking, especially the ceiling, is shaking madly. It felt like an earthquake. Would this cement building really stand up through this? Would that ceiling come down? The toilet door was now jiggling open! Luckily we had filled all of our garbage cans with pool water before the storm and put them in the bathroom so we could flush our toilet when we lost power. I used all my strength to shove those garbage cans in front of that door to help keep it shut.

Meanwhile Wolfgang is still in the outer part of bathroom holding the door shut. Irma is SO LOUD, beyond loud—she sounds like a vicious fire-breathing dragon, relentlessly (for three hours) furling bands of 185 mph tornado winds at us. Yes I could feel those awful bands, they had a crazy rhythm to them. I kept yelling as loud as I could to Wolfgang—are you OK? My yells were no match to Irma. I could not even hear them myself, let alone Wolfgang! Mysteriously I felt a calm sitting there, my body was not shaking and it should have been! The grace of God was with me. I prayed now hard, really hard, please… allow the eye to come so this tornado dragon can let up just enough to escape somewhere else. It’s hard to say how long that took, but it did. The winds calmed just enough that I could crack my door to see that Wolfgang was fine and still holding the door shut with his muscles and the lawn chair.

Thankfully, the eye of the storm had finally arrived (and no there was not complete calm, it was still plenty windy). Nina came running from her room into ours. She had heard really loud noises from our room and was so relieved we were OK. We all had water in all of our rooms. However, her doors and windows were still in tact. We made plans to ride out the second half of Irma in her bathroom. With pillows, blankets, chairs in place, we heard a loud knock at the door— Joseph from the resort was yelling—“mandatory evacuation, mandatory evacuation!” We followed him to the third floor marketing room – “the safest room in the building,” he said.

As we evacuated we saw four older and frail looking women crawling down the hillside–fleeing from the other buildings across from us: One had a cane, one had a dog carrier. They looked pitifully vulnerable… how would they make it down that steep hillside with all that debris? They had no choice. All of the roofs of their buildings had been blown off. Miraculously they did make it! There was probably one-two hundred of us huddled together in that marketing room…relieved to be alive so far. Many of us joined hands and prayed, “Lord you got us through the first half of this storm, please bring us through the second half.” Joseph had risked his own life during the eye interlude and evacuated all of us. Thank God for Joseph, truly our angel!

We huddled in that room, our sanctuary, and waited for the second half of the storm to pass. We could see huge chunks of cars and other debris flying by us through the glass doors. We could hear the wind as Irma picked up again, but I felt so much safer being on the third floor! Our room was on the 7th floor and located at the end of the villas building. We could feel the entire building shake at this level… by both the sustained winds and 200 + mph gusts!

Our room: Sliding glass door broke and front door frame broke

Gratefully the second half of Irma was not as long in duration as the first half. However, for most, it was even more damaging. When we were finally released from the third floor, we returned to our rooms. Our front door was blown wide open, frame broken, and another glass door from the stairwell was sitting at our doorstep. Our Murphy bed mattresses were blown onto our balcony and there was debris and glass everywhere. I picked up a seven of diamonds playing card that had blown in from the resort casino. I took this as a good sign, seven is my lucky number.

Our room: Glass door blown to our front door

We promptly began cleaning up: Wolfgang handled all the large glass pieces with my diving gloves, Nina and I swept and swept the water and debris out. The largest debris went on top of all the glass pieces outside —at the end of the building away from our rooms.

We persevered to get the clean up done as soon as possible because we had already heard another hurricane was coming—Jose. Now I must say this was very disheartening—really, another hurricane is coming, you’ve got to be kidding!? We had barely survived Irma, many guests had stuffed 30 people into their shower stalls, our rooms and buildings were destroyed and we felt exhausted and helpless. I could not even make up a story like this! 

All communication was down, because the airport was significantly damaged, and most of the cars in the resort were strewn and destroyed… big pile-ups everywhere. Roofs and windows and doors were blown out in many buildings. The resort looked nuclear. The trees looked like match sticks. No water and no power. We thought, even if the airport got fixed in time to evacuate us for the next hurricane, how would they remove all the upside down cars and debris to clear the roads in order to drive to the airport? It looked worse than any movie I had ever seen. And the looting had already begun—yes, this was Irma-geddon.

As we began preparing for the next hurricane, Jose, we knew it was going to be really tough. There was not enough personnel at the resort to clean up all the debris. The limited personnel left had other priorities (pursuing ways to get us food, water and out). It became clear that nothing would be cleaned up or moved out… that regardless if the winds of Jose were less, we were severely compromised and vulnerable. This is the time period when pure chaos broke out at our resort and the whole island.

(Please note I said “Irene” instead of Irma in one video and Hurricane “Joseph” instead of Jose, due to being dumbfounded by what I saw!)

Looters were walking around with flat screen TV’s and the high-end jewelry stores in downtown Philipsburg had all been robbed. The jail on the Dutch side had been demolished so criminals were free and robbing forcefully. The Dutch military finally arrived with machine guns on Friday, Sept. 8 to help restore order.

We felt relieved when the military arrived two days later, but it was too few and too late for many. Our resort had responded compassionately and taken in locals before and after the storm. Unfortunately, they made a big mistake: They did not segregate the “guests” into one area of the resort apart from locals. Most of the locals were legitimate evacuees and brought their entire families and babies because their homes were destroyed. But unfortunately some bad ones (looters!) got in too. For example, a neighbor in the villa building returned to his room to find that his room safe had been drilled open and his $2400 was stolen.

It was terrifying to know that bad guys were now living among us at the resort—and there was no way of weeding them out. They were holding guests up at knifepoint for money. Wolfgang, my awesome man, dragged a huge pole into our room and was prepared to use it as a weapon if he had to. Our doors were broken and there was no other way to secure our room. One of the three of us always stayed in our room at all times to keep vigil. There were meetings to go to in the lobby and garbage cans of water to haul up seven flights of stairs– in order to flush our toilets–we became a determined survival team.

The resort did their best to give us updates at these meetings, however they were chaotic and we could not hear most of what was being said, most of the time. There were hundreds of people crammed in the lobby and there were no megaphones. The resort also tried to pass out free meals but we always seemed to miss out on these… the food was gone by the time we arrived. We observed aggressive outsiders wanting more than their share and the distributing food volunteers felt too vulnerable not to give them what they wanted.

Our evacuation from the resort to the airport was random and mysterious. We were told planes were coming Saturday morning but with little explanation about who or where they were coming from, or where they’d take us? How would we be selected for evacuation? By building or floors? Or alphabetical name order? Communication was ambiguous, we were only told that American planes were coming and that children and people with medical issues would be given priority.

Fortunately, Nina was one of the first to make it out. She had a medical condition and left the room about 4:30 AM on Saturday morning. At 6 AM Wolfgang went to the lobby to check in and discovered there were shuttles taking Americans to the airport. Our names were listed for the sixth shuttle. No one had alerted us or knocked on our door, consequently we had about 5 minutes to get back to the lobby with one small carry on allowed only.

When we finally arrived to the airport we gasped because of the long winding lines. The Dutch military were running the show in an orderly and professional manner, calling out certain names to come forward. We still had no idea what was going on until we saw the U.S. Air force cargo planes arrive—OH MY GOD, FOR US! We were eventually going to be evacuated by one of those planes! We learned the Dutch and French had evacuated first in their own planes and that Americans were given the next priority. It was good to see how well the Dutch and American military groups worked together. We were told the plan was for all Americans to be evacuated from the island, what a huge relief!

Me in green: Evacuation onto U.S. Air Force plane

We were fortunate to be in one of the first groupings of approximately 1000 Americans to get out. (There were 6100 Americans stranded on St Maarten/Martin.) We thank God for our military! The cargo plane (from Kentucky) that lifted us out was the smoothest flight I have ever experienced. It felt like a dream that we all were sitting in jump seats and being swooped to safety by the highly capable U.S. Air force!

Wolfgang and I happy to be in Jump seats: Evacuation by U.S. Air Force cargo plane

We were evacuated to Puerto Rico, arriving about 12:30 PM on Saturday. There were no flights available that day or for 5 more days to bring us back home. The airport was heavily backlogged with customers due to its forced closure during Irma. Additionally, most evacuees from the islands were evacuated here, along with others from Florida. We were then bused to different hotels where everyone stayed until they could find available flights out. We were so grateful to be on American soil again that the wait didn’t matter—we were with caring and helpful Puerto Rican people. The tourism department even gave us an armed escort to our hotel!

Recovery soup in Puerto Rico

We returned home to beautiful New Mexico on Wednesday afternoon, September 13. A stunning rainbow welcomed us as we drove up our mountain. A rainbow of hope, we had finally made it home! Irma was an experience that will forever be engraved on our souls.

What were the key things I learned? First, my faith is stronger than ever. There is no doubt in my mind that our Creator God protected us through this storm. I understood there would be mass destruction and only prayed that lives would be spared. Lives were graciously spared. If you witnessed the nuclear destruction–you would be in awe over this fact too. It is simply a miracle that we are here relaying our story.

Second, none of the Leeward Islands could have been truly prepared for Irma. She was not so much a hurricane as she was a gigantic tornado cycloning over us for six solid hours. She hit everyone, rich or poor, French, Dutch, and American or otherwise, there was no one who escaped her wrath. We need to learn to listen to our instincts, our guts, when they “go off” on us. Our guts are our oldest brain and know how to help us survive.

Fortunately for most tourists, we returned back to intact homes. The people of St. Maarten/Martin did not. They risked their lives to help us through this disaster and have destroyed homes, businesses and are without jobs to earn a living for their families. We will help in every way we can: One way is the Simpson Bay employee fund  where 100% of funds are donated to rebuilding their homes (starting with the worst hit), a crowdfunding site will donate 100% to St. Maarten Red Cross: https://www.gofundme.com/sint-maarten-disaster-relief-rebuild-fund. Another active group is: Samaritans Purse.

Third, the ocean is angry, and I do mean really angry with us. We experienced this firsthand. Our oceans are living organisms—as was Irma—and they are not done. They are fighting back! We have not been the good stewards of our planet Earth that we were intended to be. When will we learn to accept that all living organisms are connected on our planet?

The butterfly effect is a concept that states “small causes can have larger effects”. The concept originated in weather prediction, but now is widely used in Physics. Can something as small as the flutter of a butterfly’s wing really cause a typhoon halfway around the world? We saw this concept play out with Irma: We knew our destiny on the island and the path of Irma was determined by the Bermuda high, which acts like a traffic cop for the North Atlantic Ocean. Would it shrink or grow? In Irma’s case it grew and that meant no skirting around the high with a Northern turn. Tiny wobbles of the high made a huge difference throughout her path. In Jose’s case it shrunk –due to cold air in Greenland—and ultimately turned north avoiding the islands. Everything, every wobble, is connected on our planet.

We can become better people and better stewards. I do not believe it is too late to start now. Small shifts in our thinking and how we spend our energy, can lead to massive alterations in our end results. Please, can we start together now?

Last, Wolfgang and I are eternally grateful for all of our family and friends prayers and huge support during this tragedy. We could feel them and they saved us, we love you all!

UPDATE TO POST: Undamaged rooms at Simpson Bay are being rented to electricity plant and construction workers and 150 military personnel. They still do not have water or electricity on the island due to additional damage by Hurricane Maria’s flooding. All rooms in resort were filled with water once again. Rooms are in urgent need for recovery work, so a dedicated small group of managers is staying behind to clean and make rooms available. The airport is closed indefinitely, only military planes can fly in and out.

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Why is communication so complicated?!

No wonder communication has gone South! This info-graphic, Talking a different language explains it: Baby-boomers want a cell phone call, Generation X-ers want an email, and Generation Y&Z/Millennials want a text message (or Snapchat).

 

If you don’t think Millennials are important–think again! The term “Millennials” was coined in 1987, around the time children born in 1982 were entering preschool, and the media identified their prospective link to the “new millennium” as the high school graduating class of 2000.

More than one-in-three American workers today are Millennials (adults ages 18 to 34 in 2015), and this year they surpassed Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, according to new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. Ignore their future growth momentum at your peril!

 

I’m not sure why there is not a special category for the Great Depression era survivors (like my mom). A call will not do–no way!–they want to see the whites of your eyes and make bodily contact (i.e. a kiss, big hugs, hold your hand and sit with you for awhile). Whatever happened to eye contact, kisses and big hugs as communication anyway?

With much of the world in political chaos, some people are worried about going through another economic and/or security crisis… lets hope that does not happen. Is that what it would take for big hugs to be popular again?

Have we lost our intuitive knack for effective communication? Let us observe the animal world about this–are they better at it?

 

My parting and sincere message is: Don’t leave anyone out of your group communications (especially mom)!! What do you think, are we getting better or worse at effective communication? Are animals better at it than we are?

Thanks for reading my post. I a writer and consultant living in the mountains of Santa Fe, New Mexico with my husband and dogs. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves in my book and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

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Writers–A must watch interview–S.King & GRRM

This is a great video of Stephen King and George R. R. Martin interviewing each other that you simply must check out. Why? Well first of all– they are two great authors of our time.

King has published 54 novels and six non-fiction books and has written nearly 200 short stories. Many of his stories are set in his home state of Maine. His novella Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption was the basis for the movie The Shawshank Redemption which is widely regarded as one of the greatest films of all time.

The Shawshank Redemption was nominated for 7 Oscars in 1995

George R. R. Martin is best known for his international bestselling series of epic fantasy novels, A Song of Ice and Fire, which was later adapted into the wildly popular HBO dramatic series Game of Thrones. Martin has been called “the American Tolkien”and Time Magazine named him one of the “2011 Time 100,” a list of the “most influential people in the world.” GRRM (as he is known) lives in my hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico– we are blessed by his very generous community presence and participation!

Second of all–these two authors have opposite writing styles: King writes several books a year and Martin infuriates his fans due to his slow writing pace. This leads Martin asking King a question he’s always wanted to know regarding his writing process.

It’s a great example of how there is NOT one writing style that works: On one end of the spectrum some authors work freely–“organically,” and on the other end–other authors structure detailed outlines (skeletons) that they follow and add dramatic meat to (like James Patterson).

Enjoy the highly entertaining conversation between these two funny characters: At nearly an hour-long, this spontaneous and friendly interview dives into the details of both author’s writing crafts. The two discuss each others work, aspects of their personal life, writing interests and more. Warning: there is profanity.

Which of these two authors do you more resonate with and why? Please do share your thoughts about their interesting discussion.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

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King, Rowling, Angelou: How to Write Successfully

Do  you love top 10 lists? I find them hard to resist on topics I’m passionate about. Today I have chosen three videos of top 10 rules from three iconic writers: Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Maya Angelou.

Every time I watch Stephen King “live” I find myself laughing out loud–really loud!–the writer comes off as an extroverted stand up comedian. King needs little introduction, he is an American author of contemporary horror, science fiction, and fantasy and has sold more than 350 million copies. A favorite King quote of mine is:

Stephen King’s Top 10 Rules For Success: Be sure not to miss #10!
 


Ms Rowling is a British superstar novelist and best known as the author of the unprecedented Harry Potter fantasy series. The books have gained worldwide attention, won multiple awards, and sold more than 400 million copies. In 2004, Forbes named her as the first person to become a billionaire by writing books! A favorite Rowling quote of mine is:

 J.K. Rowling’s Top 10 Rules For Success: Don’t miss her #4 insight!


Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. She’s best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. For me she pierces the heart with her words–always poetic–and so inspiring they sweep me away. I simply adore Maya Angelou! My favorite quote of Maya’s:

Be sure not to miss #10 of this Maya Angelou video!

I thank Evan Carmichael for making these useful and heart-felt video collages. Its simply amazing what you can find on the internet–from creative people for free–for inspiration!

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of ‘everyone is creative’ resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become–the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests–in my recent book and website.

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Happy Independence Day! Surprising facts about July 4th

HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY America!

AMERICA–We are celebrating a very special day symbolic of US!

Many may not know these interesting (!) FACTS about this unique day–DID YOU KNOW?

Continental Congress actually approved the legal separation of the 13 colonies from Great Britain on July 2. But it was on July 4 that the Declaration of Independence was officially signed in 1776.

The signing of the Declaration of Independence made July 4 our official independence day, but also the deaths of two of our founders cement it. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, former U. S. presidents, BOTH passed away on July 4th in the same year, 1826. They were bitter political enemies–until retirement, when they became close–writing each other more than 150 letters. Even more amazing is that both died by a difference of five hours and both knew that the other was on their deathbed. Their intimate and intellectual genuine friendship is an inspiration. We can move–upward and onward–beyond petty politics!

July 4 is also Liberation Day in Rwanda. The Rwandan Genocide ended this day in 1994 and birthed a new government. Heroes in Rwanda’s Patriotic Army overthrew the Hutu’s regime. This date also started their trajectory of success to the present day and beyond.

What do July 4th and Mount Everest have in common? George Everest was born July 4th, 1790–after whom the world’s highest mountain is named. This is the favorite mountain where so many are willing to die to climb to the peak! Such wonder and breath-taking beauty!

What else is unusual about July 4th?

The usual date of Earth’s “aphelion,” when our orbit is furthest from the sun is—you guessed it! –July 4. There is that mighty and symbolic independence again!

Also coincidentally, on July 4, 1862, Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a great story that would grow into Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland.

It has been estimated that 150 million hot dogs will be eaten in the US in today’s celebrations. (I didn’t say we have good taste…)

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT–JULY 4TH IS OUR AMAZING DAY… ENJOY IT!

And I’m sending lots of love out to (especially) the ladies of Rwanda, this is YOUR day. Sending joy and success to all today!

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

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What has 8 eyes?

Spiders seem to define the ultimate in creativity. True spiders of the order Araneae are the largest group of carnivorous animals on Earth!

YES, ALL SPIDERS ARE PREDATORS. They hunt and capture prey–mostly other insects and other invertebrates, but some large spiders may even prey on vertebrates such as birds.

Why are spiders fantastically successful as hunters? There are many reasons. One might think it is because most spiders have 8 EYES. Even so, the fact is few have good eyesight. Instead they rely on touch, vibration and taste stimuli to navigate and find their prey.

This jumping spider’s main center pair of eyes are very acute. The outer pair are “secondary eyes” and there are other pairs of secondary eyes on the sides and top of its head. Photo by JJ Harrison

Head of a Net-casting Spider, Deinopis. Photographer:Reg Morrison

Most spiders detect little more than light-dark intensity changes. Some spiders have median eyes that detect polarized light and they use this for hunting.

Eye shine from a Wolf Spider, Photographer: Jim Frazer

Spider’s eight eyes are typically placed in two rows, on the front of their carapace. Their direct eyes, or AME, differ markedly in structure from their other indirect eyes (ALE, PLE, PME). The direct eyes appear dark, whereas the indirect eyes usually have a layer of light reflecting crystals, behind the light sensitive retina, giving these eyes a silvery appearance.

Tropical Jumping Spiders are spider specialists. They prey on both hunting and web building spiders. Photographer: Robert Jackson

The following are more stunning photographs of the jumping spider, captured by macro photographer Thomas Shahan.

For a few spiders, good vision is vital for hunting and capturing prey and for recognizing mates and rivals. They include the day active jumping spiders (Salticidae), the flower spiders (Thomisidae), the wolf spiders (Lycosidae) and net-casting spiders (Deinopidae), more often seen by twilight or later at night.

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You may ask “why 8 eyes?” Burke museum curator Rod Crawford explains, “It almost certainly has nothing to do with the 8 legs… While 99% of spiders do have 8, almost 1% have 6, and a few have 2 or 0. All harvestmen and solpugids have 2… The functions of the 4 different eye-pairs vary widely among different groups of spiders. Details would be a whole dissertation in itself.”

Wonderopolis 900 × 600

You guessed it–there is no universal answer as to why spiders have 8 eyes. We’ll just leave it with, “mother nature has her reasons,” and why not for ‘just’ beauty’s sake? Or for curious photographers to discover?

Yes it is true, we need nature more than nature needs us. Please share what you think about spider eyes–and especially your theories as to why they have eight eyes. And of course your photographic techniques for capturing their glory.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

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Ugh! Why is my creativity stalled?

My last blog post was about asking why–three times, in three different ways to get motivated about creating your next thing. This is part two, what if I know why I want to create this thing, but I am still stuck??

Asking your head, heart and gut–why do you want to create your thing of interest–is a big deal. Our why is the motivation behind creating, it drives us. And keeps driving us. But what if we think we aren’t good enough?

Self-awareness is the key to recognizing and managing our self-doubt about our creativity. Where is the resistance (the BIG R!) originating from? Most of us feel the negative power of the “Big R” but don’t really analyze it. One of our creative centers–either our fearful/critical head, our envious/comparing heart or our lazy gut center is to blame. Which of these intelligence centers is your resistance culprit?

One of the tricks of our head center is perfectionism–this stops us from creating–it tells us we aren’t good enough to do it. If our head center convinces us that everything has to be perfect, it knows we won’t begin, or at least we won’t finish what we started. For example, I’ve done endless research for my new book and made an outline of the chapters. Is my head center the culprit for my stalling actually writing it? I ponder this–I’m not at the point of analysis paralysis and still have incredible curiosity about my subject. No, I don’t think its fear from my head center that is stopping me at this point.

Our heart center says, “What if I suck?” If we say this, then what we are really saying is that I suck compared to others. Comparison is a major creativity killer. So I say to my heart, my feelings, “If I really suck at this then why do I have a persistent desire–a calling–to birth this book?  My heart says, “I have a deep passion for this subject, it is significant to me and I don’t think anyone else has already done this book… I know they haven’t!” Its my unique voice and history and take on the subject (my mess, my message) after all–so why compare myself to others?

What am I feeling, I ask my heart? “I am feeling overwhelmed by my story–getting lost in it.” This is another effective “Big R” tactic. “What are the most authentic pieces of your book,” my heart says, “most true for you? Cut everything else, get rid of it…” OK this is great advice from my heart. Its helping me, not causing my “Big R.” Its telling me to simplify, simplify on the message(s) that matter most.

This leaves only my trusted gut center for me to ask the same question: Are you the culprit– the resistor of me writing this book? Alright it confesses: “I am pitifully suffering from under-action, undisciplined writing time and poor resolve. I am excessively surfing the net–in the name of research–which is really BS. I am not controlling my time, NOT spending my time doing the right things at the right time for the good of my book.” My gut tells me, “You know you write best in the morning, the earlier the better, but instead you are insanely reading newspapers and opinions… the all-distracting Trump thing you have going on… he isn’t anything you can control, so why spend your best time on this?”

My gut tells me: “Creativity isn’t about rare talent, it’s about executing! Quit ignoring writing your book and feeling overwhelmed by it. Get down to the nitty-gritty writing of the details to discover which of your ideas work best. It’s a numbers game, but it is a numbers game that you are not playing!” Oh yes, thanks for reminding me–being creative isn’t magic. It’s just a person dedicated to actually doing it for better or worse–no matter the ever present resistance–every single day.

Aha, that’s it! My distractions and excuses are essentially lies. My gut tells me so! We can DO this creative thing, lets do it!

I invite you to read more about the creative high hanging and low hanging fruit from our three intelligence centers in my book: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from Your Head, Heart and Gut.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursuing long term creative quests in my book and website.

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Can organizations be creative?

Have you ever been at a corporate off-site or other workshop/offering where the result of the initiative fell flat? The intent was good; but there were no new meaningful insights. It was scheduled rather than organic. Our brains had time to predict the future, and the potential for novelty disappeared. Transplanting the same mix of people to a different location, even an exotic one, then dropping them into a “new” conference room usually doesn’t work.

No, new insights usually only come from new people, new environments, and new incubations; any circumstance where the brain can’t predict what will happen next. In short, by creating paradigm shifts in our three centers of intelligence: our heads, hearts and guts.

It is possible for employees, supervisors and managers to “wire” creativity into their organizations by drawing upon the three centers of intelligence. But do organizations have heads, hearts and guts? Resoundingly– yes they do!

The Ted talk below succinctly illustrates “collaborative visualization”– this is a “head based” technique to begin with (using our imaginations) that quickly can lead to creative action (gut based). If the visualization taps into our heart’s passion, then it can lead to a triple intersection (of head, heart, and gut intelligence) creativity. 

Organizational cultures reflect back the top people driving them. You can learn more in my recent book. I include diverse case studies such as, Apple Corp, Exxon/Mobil Corp, Saddleback Church and more.

What do you think about “collaborative visualization” as an organizational approach? Any hope for it working in your organization?

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life in my recent book. I invite all to become the best version of themselves at my website and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

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Want to make something creative?

What shall I make for my next creative project? It is easy to get stuck at “What the heck should I make next”?

Instead of focusing on “what” should I create, I humbly suggest asking yourself WHY–three times. Get very quiet and still and ask your head, heart and gut separately: Why do I want to make or create this thing? Let the voice of each intelligence center answer this question for you very distinctly.

What does your head say to you about this creative thing?

What does your heart say about it?

And what does your gut intuition say about it?

Write down each distinct intelligence center answer and reflect on each.

Clearly articulating why you’re creating what you are will light your path and continue fanning the flames inside you, and likely will touch others deeply too. Regardless if your creative thing is purely for your own enjoyment or you want it to be a commercial success–if you don’t start with why, you have no compass.

I’m writing my first science fiction book. When I start to doubt myself on why I’m writing this book I ask my head-why am I writing this? My answer is mostly because I love the space/astrophysics/spiritual subjects involved and by doing the in-depth research involved I get to learn new things, “the latest and greatest”. I ask my heart, why am I writing this? I want to find more clarity and meaning about the cycle of life and the suffering involved in it. If I can find some peace in it, perhaps it will help bring peace to others too. I ask my gut, why? My gut says there are some older, deeper truths inside me that I can tap into, feel and know to be true. My intuition quietly says–this is important to you, your curiosity about scientific and spiritual facts and how they can co-exist in different realms. I can now go forward knowing I am doing the right thing by writing this book.

Imaginative thinking is at the core of art, science, and a number of other disciplines, but the science of imaginative thinking is a secret. I believe by tapping into (the usually un-reflected upon) WHY from our head, heart and gut perspectives can tap into our untapped imaginations.

Starting with why can lead to levels of excellence we never considered attainable, especially for long term creative projects. By emphasizing the WHY behind our motivations to succeed, versus the WHAT approach, which is less passionate, less inspired (and probably a more habitual approach) we can have confidence in our creative product. We can be authentic in our approach, which will–at the very least–delight us and perhaps even really inspire others.

Do your research first. Mark Twain said, “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” Good research is about asking broad questions, and thinking critically about the answers. It’s something everyone can learn, and do quickly with Google, and countless other search approaches. If we do this well, it will save us time, energy and money by reducing unknowns and creating a solid foundation to build the right thing, in the most effective way. After all time is–by far–our most precious commodity.

Where have you gotten your ideas in the past? Take the time to reflect upon this, then write your answers down. Next, what are you waiting for… go do that research. If it is being in nature and for example, examining something much more intensely than others do, then go do it!

How do I know if what I make will be the right thing? Because even if we’ve done the research, we still don’t know if we’re actually making something that works for others. This only matters if we aspire to commercial success.

Is my new  book something that others will want to read?

Is my performance art exhibit something others will be inspired to participate in?

Will my new video or movie be a hit or a dud?

We must run targeted experiments to find out. You know how to do that already–writers reach out to beta readers, marketers get focus groups, designers reach out to real users, artists have… each other through various associations, and so on.

Swedish artist Måns Wrange has used the concept of the focus group in his work The Good Rumor Project. He used the focus group not only as a means to investigate the opinions of the group members, but also to spread an idea (the rumor) across society with the help of the group members. Now that is creative, stay tuned on how it works (video below).

You can read Part 2 of this post here.

Thank you for reading my post. My core message of everyone is creative resonates with people of all ages and walks of life. I invite all to become the best version of themselves and find true meaning by pursing long term creative quests.

Read more in my recent book and my website: The Three Sources of Creativity: Breakthroughs from Your Head, Heart and Gut.

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