Animal Testing: Beagles

Passing right by the fact that I haven’t written in over a year, I want to share some information I’ve been reading tonight about animal testing, specifically testing on beagles.

This will be short and sweet and mainly used to bring all of the info together and share it with my friends and fellow animal-lovers. Otherwise I’d be posting FB after FB.

I came across this story tonight:

University of Missouri researchers blinded, killed six beagles for inconclusive study


Need I say it? It’s sad. And it raises questions of the reasoning behind our insistence on animal experimentation. It does this in part because when you really find out what some of the “important” scientific investigations do to animals, it challenges you ask yourself what that kind of pain, trauma, and wasted life is worth. It’s like watching slaughterhouse videos and then considering how important that hamburger is really.

Then I saw this article:

Beagles bred at two Dane County facilities go to labs around the country

This one hit home because Dane County is where I now call home, specifically Madison. It is hard being back in the midwest sometimes, hard being in the dairy capitol of the world, hard to not have all the vegan options at my fingertips like I did on the west coast, hard to not have the same vigorous animal rights groups as I’ve known. But I don’t mind being part of the progress happening all over the nation. There is progress happening here.

But when I read that in my county is one of the top three international beagle breeding facilities, Ridglan Farms, well it’s just a bummer. A big, heartbreaking bummer. Ridglan sells its beagles to (mainly) U.S. companies who conduct experiments for various purposes, mostly pharmaceutical labs and university labs. University of Wisconsin has been a customer. Some especially heartbreaking bummer-facts about Ridglan:

  • Puppies born at Ridglan who aren’t born to the physical specifications they are looking for are killed.
  • However, they also “preprogram” (read: breed) beagles to have certain defects to fit what the researchers are hoping to “treat.” For example heart abnormalities, circulatory problems, cataracts…
  • “…there are more than 67,000 dogs used in laboratories today across the country. Wisconsin is home to 7,196 of these dogs, more than any other state.”
  • Most of the dogs there are females who breed their whole lives. (Here is where an entire article about the connection between feminism and animal rights would go.)
  • The vast majority of dogs who are used in research are euthanized even if they would be adoptable.
  • In addition to having a nice size for cruel experimentation, beagles surpass any other breed in research because “they’re very docile, people-pleasing and forgiving.”

I hope you’ll just read these two articles. So many questions. What about the ethics of doing something because we CAN? Even it does have merit in the eyes of our culture and considering our position as human animals (the best kind of animal apparently), what is the cost. What are we establishing for our children in terms of their relationship with animals? What kind of karma are we engaging in…yes, I’ll go there. What kind of speciesism is going on behind the scenes when we care about this happening to beagles but not rodents?

But mostly right now I just feel like: What have we done? When did we become so callous? When did we turn into creatures that could look at something “docile, people-pleasing, and forgiving” and think, “Let’s breed it to hurt it.”

To find out more, please read those articles. For some hope you can check out the Beagle Freedom Project. And maybe next time you’re looking for a new pooch to add to your family, consider rescuing a beagle…you’ll know he’s done his time by the tattooed numbers on the inside of his ear.



Chopra and Oprah, At It Again

You may have noticed the phenomenon that someone is always socialmedia-sharing their progression through one Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Chopra meditation program or another. They’ve become very popular. After all, who wouldn’t want to take a lesson from these two inspirational people? Plus, who can argue against the benefits of daily meditation?


My friends and family certainly seem more grateful and shiny as they write about what they have learned about life and themselves on any given day of the programs.

I want in! Not only does daily meditation always sound like a fun and worthy intention, but getting a syllabus and a daily pat on the back might be the right recipe to get it beyond my fits and starts.

So when a friend sent me this……

Screen Shot 2015-07-06 at 5.52.35 PM


…I said, “Sign me up!”

The program begins on July 13th. I don’t know exactly what it entails, but away we go! If you like the idea of guided daily meditation and an online community with whom to enjoy the experience, join us!! I definitely know myself well enough to know that I will NOT be posting regular “Today I am grateful for…” posts, but I’ll try to share some thoughts and updates. It’s always more fun if we do it together.🙂

You can go to THEIR WEBSITE HERE to register. Or get there through their Facebook page at .


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Dear Saturday Busy Bees, 

Happy saturday everyone!

Saturday, a good day to go a little easier on yourself, downshift from the week, and take some breaks. We all need to replenish and rejuvenate from time to time. I’ve noticed that many of us are forgoing those times of replenishment though and plowing through the weekend with our long to-do lists.

Whether you’re a staunch weekend relaxer or a Saturday busy bee, there’s many ways to take a break AND feed your soul. Finding “you time” doesn’t mean channel surfing all day on the couch. You can make space for yourself in the 5-minute car ride to the grocery store or the 1-minute pause while you wait for the coffee to finish brewing. Sure, it may not be the same as a spa day in the mountains, but rejuvenation can happen moment by moment no matter where you are.  Here are some ways to take a break and stay connected.


Enjoy your fabulous weekend!


Untethered Soul, Chapter 8

If you’ve been reading The Untethered Soul, or at least these chapter summaries, you know now that you are not your name, age, or profession. You know that you are an inner witness to all that happens around and in you. You also know that experiences can become held inside of you, leading to reactions of either avoidance or grasping.

In the last chapter, the book’s author, Michael A. Singer, suggested that it’s possible to “transcend the tendency to close” when inner fears get triggered. Now, with Chapter 8 called Let Go Now or Fall, we go deeper into how to transcend. This chapter launches the next unit of the book called, Freeing Yourself. And the key word in this chapter title is, “now.” You’ll see why.

Singer says that by trying to control life, based on how we think it should go for us, we think we are protecting ourselves, but that what we are really doing is creating fears.

If you attempt to arrange people, places, and things so they don’t disturb you, it will begin to feel like life is against you. … You will feel that anyone, at any moment, could cause you disturbance. … That makes life a threat. That’s why you have to worry so much. … You’re either trying to figure out how to keep things from happening, or you’re trying to figure out what to do because they did happen. …How did we come up with the notion that life is not okay just the way it is, or that it won’t be okay the way it will be?

Instead, what if we can live without fear and just let life be what it is. Live without fear?? That seems unlikely. But what would it be like? Just imagine. No fear of money problems. No feel of being abandoned. No fear of failure. No fear of safety.

Singer says we’re hanging onto our “stuff” (our blockages, fears, etc.) and when something happens that triggers that stuff we get thrown into a tailspin. He says you have to LET IT GO IMMEDIATELY, because it’s harder to do it later. If you get sucked down into the energy of disturbance, it is through the “haze of your disturbance” that you will see things and try to handle things.  You lose control because you got pulled away from your seat of consciousness, which is where the freedom is. Now you’re in your survival instincts…again, how to protect my “stuff” from getting triggered again. And over and over we are in this cycle.

Singer paints a pretty bleak picture of what it’s like when we act from this lower energy once we’ve been triggered. We listen to our survival instincts to tell someone off, quit our job, drink a little more, whatever it might be. Other people are impacted and then THEIR stuff gets triggered. We take the energy of our own blockages and we pass it on to others. (Not very zen of us.) The negative energy we put out now has to come back in kind. We are weakened and MORE stuff gets triggered more easily. Etc, etc.

What if all you had to do to avoid all of this was to let go in the beginning?

Fair question.

Singer says when a blockage gets hit, it’s a GOOD thing. Because it’s time to let go IMMEDIATELY and get some purification!

It’s time to open up internally and release the blocked energy. If you let go, and permit the purification process to take place inside, that blocked energy will be released. When it’s released and allowed to flow up, it becomes purified … then strengthens you instead of weakening you.

Again, this takes practice.

Just turn your eyes upward and relax your heart. You do not have to leave the seat of Self in order to deal with the darkness. … Getting involved in the darkness does not dispel darkness; it feeds it. … No matter what goes on below you, open your heart and let it go. Your heart will become purified, and you will never know another fall. … let all of your blockages and disturbances become the fuel for the journey. That which is holding you down can become a powerful force that raises you up.

Readers, if you’re like me, this sounds like just what the doctor ordered, but it also sounds pretty daunting. For the rest of the week, I’m going to go for it. It’s going to be a challenge for us…maybe with certain relatives, maybe at work, maybe with kids or with pets, definitely in traffic! But isn’t it worth it to try and see what happens?

I hope that this week finds you freer than the last! Go for it!!

With faith in you and your inner Self,




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The Original Mother’s Day

I wrote this post a few years ago and it is still one of my favorites. Happy Mother’s Day to all women who embrace the peace-making power of their womanhood!


Something amazing and inspiring was brought to my attention yesterday. I wanted to write about it today though to remind myself that Mother’s Day started out not just as a day for flowers and kissy face emoticons but as a response to war…a call to protest and proclamation. I didn’t know that! It’s troubling to me that Mother’s Day has been diminuated until all that remains is the sentimentality and a big hug for mom. We have lost touch with the roots of this celebration. Today there is a dialogue regarding the “war on women,” there is controversy surrounding contraception, there remains blatant wage inequality as well as the insidious ideological gender inequalities that reverberate in everyday conversations, and there is ongoing use of sexual malfeasances (to put it gently) that are still being used internationally as wartime strategies. I think now is a perfect age to restore some of the original tenants of Mother’s Day…

In 1870 Julia Ward Howe wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation to call for the gathering of women together “without limit of nationality” in order to seek counsel from one another regarding the loss of sons and husbands in wars and to proclaim that, “From the bosum of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with our own. It says: ‘Disarm! Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.'”


As well-intentioned as we all are on Mother’s Day, our Hallmark-frenzied tradition in America is a far paler expression of honor than was conceptualized by the foremothers of this holiday. I would like to see my mother, grandmothers, step-mothers, sister, cousins, friends, and aunts and alllll the other wise women out there to all get something different for Mother’s Day next year. For Mother’s Day 2013, I want them to “leave all that may be left at home,” come together to counsel with one another about human rights, war, family, and future of this this country and this world.


Then once they’ve come to an agreement about “the promotion of the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, and the great and general interests of peace” I want the rest of the world to sit and listen with the attentive ears of an child which, after all, we all are. I don’t know… for some reason I feel like this “congress of women” might be more productive than the one we have now. You?


Here is the inspirational full story (borrowed from a reading I heard on Sunday) including Ms. Howe’s proclamation:

The first person to fight for an official Mother’s Day celebration in the United States was Julia Ward Howe. You may be more familiar with her name as the writer who wrote the words to the Civil War song, The Battle Hymn of the Republic.

Howe was born in New York City on May 27, 1819. Her family was well respected and wealthy. She was a published poet and abolitionist. She and her husband, Samuel Gridley Howe, co-published the anti-slavery newspaper The Commonwealth. She was active in the peace movement and the women’s suffrage movement. In 1870 she penned the Mother’s Day Proclamation. In 1872 the Mothers’ Peace Day Observance on the second Sunday in June was held and the meetings continued for several years. Her idea was widely accepted, but she was never able to get the day recognized as an official holiday. The Mothers’ Peace Day was the beginning of the Mothers’ Day holiday in the United States now celebrated in May.

The modern commercialized celebration of gifts, flowers and candy bears little resemblance to Howe’s original idea. Here is the Proclamation that explains, in her own powerful words, the goals of the original Mother’s Day in the United States…

Arise then…women of this day!
Arise, all women who have hearts!
Whether your baptism be of water or of tears!
Say firmly:
“We will not have questions answered by irrelevant agencies,
Our husbands will not come to us, reeking with carnage,
For caresses and applause.
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
We, the women of one country,
Will be too tender of those of another country
To allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosum of a devastated Earth a voice goes up with
Our own. It says: “Disarm! Disarm!
The sword of murder is not the balance of justice.”
Blood does not wipe our dishonor,
Nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plough and the anvil at the summons of war,
Let women now leave all that may be left of home
For a great and earnest day of counsel.
Let them meet first, as women, to bewail and commemorate the dead.
Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means
Whereby the great human family can live in peace…
Each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
But of God –
In the name of womanhood and humanity, I earnestly ask
That a general congress of women without limit of nationality,
May be appointed and held at someplace deemed most convenient
And the earliest period consistent with its objects,
To promote the alliance of the different nationalities,
The amicable settlement of international questions,
The great and general interests of peace.

Travel Tuesday: Iceland

My wanderlust continues to grow and so I continue the Travel Tuesday series which is fast becoming a wish list for me!

This week, I Google-searched “happiest places to live,” because given some of the recent news and my short-lived season of disillusionment (see Saturday’s less-than-hopeful post about the California Drought) I was wondering:

Where are the places where citizens live in harmony and peace with one another? Do they exist? Do they exist in places where I can still get a cup of coffee and a cozy cafe? Or do I have to visit a tribe in the middle of the Amazon or sign up for a hipster barter-system commune in the Carolinas somewhere?

Much to my surprise, there actually exists measurement called the Global Peace Index (GPI) that is presented every year by the Institute for Economics and Peace. Apparently the GPI is applauded by important, peaceful people like the Dali Lama and probably Oprah, so let’s see what it has to say.

In 2014, the country with the highest score on the GPI was….


Compilation 1 Melaleuca Freedom Celebration

In fact, Iceland has scored in first place every year since the GPI began in 2007! Either somebody on the GPI board has a soft spot for Iceland, or it is a pretty special place. And why is it so special?

The GPI is based on factors like crime rate, incarceration rate, weapon accessibility, and war involvement that are combined to make three subcategories: Militarization, Society and Security, and Domestic and International Conflict. There are lots in interesting statistics on the site, including the national cost of violence, which for Iceland was US$105,000,000. Compare that to the U.S. cost which was $1,713,095,000,000. (By the way, in case some of you were wondering, the USA scored at number 101 out of 162 countries. :/)

Photo credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Photo credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Other than the economics, here are some other candidates for explaining Iceland’s happiness that I came across searching the web:

  • Nine months paid child leave
  • Air purity
  • Highest male life expectancy and almost highest female life expectancy
  • It-takes-a-village mentality to meet priority of rearing happy, healthy children
  • Björk😉 — no really though, a vibrant artistic culture
  • Only country in Nato with no armed forces
  • Thriving economic system
  • Low sexism, low homophobia
  • (Necessary) respect for nature
  • Geothermal energy heating


Photo Credit: Giulia Cimarosti

Photo Credit: Giulia Cimarosti

The verdict?

Fá mér til Íslands !

Happy travel planning!



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Untethered Soul, Chapter 7

It’s back! I can hardly believe it myself. But not to worry, I hadn’t actually forgotten about our chapter summaries of The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer. I just got distracted by some other things in life.


And speaking of distractions, Chapter 7 of the book is called Transcending the Tendency To Close and it also has a little do with distraction as well. It’s the last chapter of section 2 which has introduced us to the idea of energy…energies inside of us, our reactions to them, and our natural tendency to create Samskaras or blocked energies.

This chapter wraps up Singer’s introduction to energy and your ability to cling or release by giving us practical advice for how to NOT develop Samskaras. Here, Singer talks about “falling behind” the energies as they come up, meaning allowing your consciousness to not follow thoughts that enter our mind, but allowing them to pass. These might be immediate thoughts like, “I can’t believe I did that! What would it be like if I hadn’t done that? What should I do next time? I need to figure it out now!” The alternative to following all those thoughts and getting yourself worked up into a state of elevated blood pressure would just be to fall behind those thoughts. Notice them, accept them, then stay centered as they pass.

Falling behind a thought could also be something related to an event that happened a long time ago. Singer gives the example of someone taking your favorite pencil at work. It might seem like every time you have to use a different pencil, you replay their indiscretion and get agitated all over again. He says deciding to fall behind those thoughts and energies is “simply a matter of taking the risk that you are better off letting go than going with the energy.”

Personally, I’ve felt this risk very acutely in practicing this falling behind tactic. When someone hurts my feelings (or maybe I should say, “When I let myself believe that someone has hurt my feelings,”) I want to be mad and I can feel myself shutting down towards them. In some of these moments I have really asked myself if I will be better off if I let it go in the moment and not follow the tide of anger. Sometimes it’s not an answer that comes easily! My established habit of closing down and getting defensive is a strong one. Trusting that I will be better–even that I will at least be okay–if I let it go and stay centered is a challenge to me. But I keep practicing and more and more I am beginning to see that yes, it is better. It is more free.

And this freedom is what we’re talking about. Freedom from being tossed to and fro with every passing emotional reaction. If we spend our lives consciously or subconsciously trying to protect ourselves via anger or resentment or isolation, we’re not really free, we’re not really protected.

But let’s talk specifics then. How do we not follow energy? How do we fall behind it?

“The moment you feel a change, relax your shoulders and relax the area around your heart. The moment the energy moves you simply relax and release. Play with letting go and falling behind the sense of being bothered. “

Singer says this is how you make “freedom a game.”

“You don’t fight the mind. In fact you don’t even try to change it. You just make a game out of relaxing in the face of its melodrama.”

Moments where you can practice this are simply moments to grow. There will be many, many times when energy captures your attention and you flow along with the current of negative thinking. But the more you practice the easier it will become.

“Your center of consciousness is always stronger than the energy that is pulling on it. …There is nothing wrong with feeling the energies of fear, jealousy, or attraction. It’s not your fault that such energies exist. All the attractions, repulsions, thoughts, and feelings don’t make any difference. They don’t make you pure or impure. They are not you. You are the one who’s watching, and that one is pure consciousness. “

On a  personal note, I have found a particular metaphor that best helps me be able to fall behind the passing thoughts and feelings. At my mother’s house in Illinois there is a porch that looks out over her front yard with the pink-blossomed trees and large ancient oak, past a two-lane country highway, and across the expanding fields and forest on the other side. It is one of the most peaceful places I can think of. There are birds and clouds to watch and maybe a cat sleeping in the sun by your feet. It’s really the perfect place for a cup of coffee or iced tea. Everything around is green and alive.


Even the whir of passing cars and farm trucks adds to the total comforting experience. Now, this porch has become my metaphor for falling behind. I sit in my inner seat of witness just as I sit on the porch. I acknowledge the passing traffic of thoughts and feelings just as I acknowledge the traffic on the highway. I chase not after each thought and feeling that presents itself just as I move not a muscle in response to the passing cars.

What is your metaphor? Think of your “happy place” where calm and comfort surround you as you are observant and at peace. Got it? Now what is something that passes through your line of sight as you sit in that place? Maybe they are seagulls, maybe they are bees, maybe they are airplanes or pedestrians. The next time you feel the challenging energy rising in you, imagine yourself in that happy place. That thought, reaction, emotion is nothing more than one of those seagulls or pedestrians. You are not following them, not grabbing them. You are noticing them and letting them pass.

Go get your freedom and let’s transcend the tendency to close!



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