Weekend To-Do (Good) List

You know how it works. Life As a Wave is focused on recognizing our connection with each other, our inner selves, Source, the animal kingdom, and the natural world around us. Our relationships with these elements of life require our personal responsibility to make more positive connection.  In short, we all have the chance and the calling to DO GOOD. God knows the world needs more of it.

It’s not always easy, but this list makes it easier. This weekend, take some time to nurture your connections and make them more positive. Have fun with it and spread the word!

~~~S Wave~~~

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1. Autism Awareness Day

April is Autism Awareness Day and the 2nd was World Autism Awareness Day. By now you probably know that the growing rate of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is startling. It is the fastest growing developmental disability. In March, the CDC released new statistics for autism prevalence, 1 in 68 children. It was 1 in 88 just a few years ago.

This is a life-long disability with varying degrees of impairments. There isn’t a cure for ASD, much less a known cause. While the scientific world scrambles for understanding amidst competing possible factors, the therapeutic services such as speech and language pathology, occupational therapy and behavior interventions continue to bring support and skill development to individuals with ASD and their families at the average annual family cost of $60,000.

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Whether or not you personally know someone with ASD, your life will be impacted by this disorder, if in no other way than by the growing percentage of individuals with ASD that will be in our shared communities in years to come. Families raising a child with autism need support. They need understanding and community. This mother, a parent of 3 girls with autism, explains why and how she would like to see Autism Awareness Month become Autism Action Month in :

My three daughters are autistic. I despise Autism Awareness Month.

Her suggestions in the last paragraph are worth directly quoting. They are:

1. Give to an organization that provides service dogs for autistic children.

2. Serve as a volunteer as an autism buddy.

3. If your child has a classmate on the spectrum, invite that classmate to your child’s next birthday party.

4. You know that cashier at the grocery store who doesn’t look at you as she takes care of your order? Smile at her, even if she does not smile back.

Will you begin to transform your awareness into action?

2. Cosmetic Testing

This is Easter weekend and you can’t help but think of cute, fuzzy bunnies. Last week we warned against buying a rabbit for a gift for this holiday. There is, however, a way that you can honor and celebrate the long-eared cotton-tailed cutie patooties this weekend. Make an effort to stop the use of rabbits in cosmetic product testing!

I know that the questions of animal testing for scientific advancement is whole separate complicated issue. But, can we agree that testing on rabbits to develop better face soaps and eyeliners is a barbaric practice with no real value? Even for household products, shouldn’t we all be trying to use natural ingredients anyway that don’t require testing of all kinds of chemicals and toxins??

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If you agree, here are some things you can do:

First, look for the Leaping Bunny symbol on cosmetic and household products before you purchase. No bunny, no money!

Second, commit to a fresh, cruelty-free start. Take a look in for medicine cabinet and under your sink. Do you have products with these brands on them:

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If so, are you willing to throw them out and find a more animal-friendly replacement? This is one I’m going to do for sure. I know I have some of these brands hiding out in my house. Time for spring cleaning!

Third, talk talk talk! Spread the word, especially on Easter. You can’t walk your talk if you don’t have any talk to begin with. Tell people how you feel about this kind of testing and make a pact with them to make a change.

 3. Gratitude Practice

Today is Good Friday, a Christian remembrance day of Jesus’ crucifixion. It is also the first day of Passover, the Jewish remembrance of the Israelite’s divinely-guided escape from Egyptian enslavement. It is a day of gratitude, a virtue celebrated by leading religions and faiths worldwide. A virtue also that has been shown to be good for a person’s mental, emotional, and physical health.

passoverToday, no matter what you personally celebrate, I think we can take this divine energy of gratitude that is so strong in our hearts today and share it with people around us. Doing so honors God, honors yourself, and honors others. Here are some ways:

Happy-Good-Friday-2015-Quotes1First, think of one person (at least!) who has done something for you recently without a “thank you.” Maybe you forgot to say it…maybe you were in a hurry…maybe you were withholding a bit?  Now go give them a genuine “thank you.” Look them in the eye when you say it, touch their hand or give them a hug.

Second, think of one person (at least!) who has wronged you without saying, “I’m sorry.” Maybe they forgot to say it…maybe they were in a hurry…maybe they were withholding a bit.  In your heart, forgive them. Try thinking of all the reasons you can be thankful for having them in your life. Even the most challenging person can be seen as someone who has helped us grow and strengthen so there is at least ONE reason to be grateful for everyone.

Third, resolve to embark on a Gratitude Month…or Week…or Year…whatever you feel works best for you! Every day, start the morning with a statement of gratitude for something. Share it with others and carry it with you throughout your day. For a great guide on doing a 21-day gratitude challenge click here.

I’ll kick us off by telling you all that I appreciate every single moment that you have taken out of your days to read these words that I write with love. Writing Life As a Wave is one of the most treasured tasks I have ever taken on. Thank you, thank you, thank you for being a part of if.

Have a beautiful weekend. If you are celebrating a holy holiday, may it be a blessed time with family and friends.

With gratitude,

~~~S Wave~~~

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Less amusing animals: How movements work

Reblogging this from David Meyer’s wordpress site. As I hope you have heard, Ringling Bros. have announced that they will be phasing out the use of elephants in their shows. This is a huge development! Historic! Our responsibility to honor our fellow non-human animals in this time of species collapse demands that out-dated exploitations like this end. Thank you, Ringling Bros.!

Politics Outdoors

As anyone who has stumbled across the internet and sampled a tiny sliver of the astounding variety of cat videos, animals can be entertaining.  For years animal rights advocates have been emphasizing the price those animals pay for our amusement.

When we learn that elephants are beaten in training, we may become a little less impressed by those amusing tricks.  Maybe, we go to the movies or  a concert instead of dragging the family to the circus.

After years of countering the rhetoric,  and offering reforms in training methods, even litigating against its critics (and winning!), Ringling Brothers has given up, announcing that it will phase out the use of elephants in its circus shows.  There are a lot of factors–as there always are: circus audiences are declining; taking care of elephants is expensive; and some cities have laws banning elephant performances.

Kenneth Feld, the president of Feld…

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Plan A Cruelty-Free Thanksgiving!

Time to start the Thanksgiving meal planning! Every year more and more people are incorporating vegetarian and vegan dishes into their banquets. And why not?! It’s the time to be thankful. Why not extend some gratitude toward the animals that suffer and give their lives to be our food every other day of the year.

If you are paying attention, you probably know that the farming methods in our country have gone off the rocker and that food production has become an industrial mechanism devoid of compassion, symbiosis, or CONNECTION. Turkey “farming” is no different. Please take the time to read through this article by Ashley Capps at Free From Harm and find out more about the experience of the farmed turkey:

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http://freefromharm.org/animal-cruelty-investigation/12-reasons-you-may-never-want-eat-turkey-again/

WARNING: Graphic content. The text offers plenty to inform and disturb you. The videos might be too much for some.

 

Now that you’ve read and watched that, are you ready to include some compassionate dishes into YOUR Thanksgiving meal? It’s really not that hard! For example, mash your potatoes with almond milk and Earth Balance “butter.” Ta-da! You have vegan mashed potatoes. Don’t over think it!

Here are some helpful recipes that came out this year:

1. From Forks Over Knives, here are 5 dishes that are sure to please! CLICK HERE.

2. Compassion Over Killing brings you enough recipes of classics and newcomers to fill your dinging room table and then some. CLICK HERE.

3. The Huffington Post offers up a list of TWENTY-NINE plant-based holiday dishes! Nom nom! CLICK HERE.

4. And last but not least, PETA serves up a Thanksgiving Survival Guide with plenty of favorites. CLICK HERE.

 

Let’s evolve…one holiday at a time if that’s what it takes. For you, for your family, for the animals and for goodness sake.

Happy vegan cooking!

 

A Mother’s Instinct Interrupted

Here are two videos for you to consider, both depicting the mother’s urge to be with her offspring. They also depict human interventions in that dynamic.

I couldn’t deny the contrast when two different friends posted these on Facebook in the same evening.

How are we connecting with non-human animals through our choices and lifestyles? Are we extending reverence and honor to other species?

(Cruelty-free) food for thought. And just a heads up that neither video is graphic.

Happy and Humane Holidays

“Life is as dear to a mute creature as it is to man. Just as one wants happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not die, so do other creatures.”

His Holiness The Dalai Lama

This post ends on a positive note, I promise. But first the bad news…

There’s a new round of undercover investigative videos out just in time to make you think twice about your Thanksgiving dinner and your upcoming Christmas shopping. First, the animal advocacy group, Mercy For Animals (MFA) has just released documentation from their most recent undercover investigation of farmed animal treatment. The videos are available for viewing on their website, but please know that they are very graphic. As always, I recommend you prepare yourself for some images that are likely to disgust and disturb. To read/view less graphic information, you can read the LA Times report here. You can also sign MFA’s petition to Tyson foods here. This time around, the culprit was West Coast Farms, based in Okfuskee County, Oklahoma which is a Tyson Foods supplier. The person who collected the video was working undercover on the farm just this past September and October and witnessed abuses such as:

– slamming piglets against the floor to kill them

– hitting pigs with wooden boards and a bowling ball

– spiking piglets like footballs

– confining pregnant sows to cages in which they cannot turn around (a common practice called “gestation crates”)

– cutting off piglets’ tails and slicing their genitals to remove testicles without anesthesia (again, not uncommon practices)

I think that is enough for you to get the idea. This kind of treatment has also been documented via undercover investigation at cattle farms, poultry farms, etc. To those of you who would like to imagine that this kind of treatment is a shocking exception to the norm, I would say that after years of following the movement of farmed animal welfare and reading and watching numerous testimonies from people inside the industry, I am not convinced in the least that this kind of facility is somehow the anomaly within an otherwise humane system where transparency is prioritized, animals are respected, and workers are kept safe and happy. That kind of model just isn’t profitable enough to be the norm.

The second report that just came out is from PETA. Earlier this week they released a video also shared by CBSNews based on an investigation into the angora fur industry in China. The PETA statement explains that the investigation showed “workers violently ripping the fur out of rabbits’ skin as the animals scream in pain. After their fur is yanked out, the gentle, sensitive rabbits are left in shock, able only to lie motionless inside their tiny, filthy cages. After they endure this process every three months for two to five years, their throats are slit and their skin is ripped from their bodies.” To read more and to find the video link click here. This method of fur “manufacturing” is no more a deviation from the norm than the treatment of the pigs above. If you are curious about how mink, down, chinchilla or any other type of fur and feather are collected just do a simple search and you’ll find plenty of information. It’s not a pretty picture…but why in the world did we ever think it could be??

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So what does this disturbing news have to do with the holidays? The holidays have become as much a time for personal reflection and gratitude as it is for religious or commercial participation. As I mentioned in the last post, we are seeing daily expressions of thanks-giving on social media and Christmas is a time where we begin to plan the positive changes for which we want to strive in the coming year. Well, here is your chance to give thanks and to make a positive change ahead of the holidays!

First, as you do your Thanksgiving preparations, walking the aisles of your market like you have done every other year, view your choices through a lens of true compassion and thanks. Think about what you’ve learned about the meat and dairy industry…if you haven’t learned something on Life As a Wave then I’m certain you have learned plenty elsewhere. Make the easy decision to replace some of your dishes with humane selections.

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Yes, your family members will wonder why you used almond milk to make your mashed potatoes and will challenge you to explain why your green beans are being served sans bacon. Take it as an opportunity to share what you know! And if you’re wondering how to make animal-free dishes, there’s information everywhere! For example, here is a great list I just encountered: 32 Vegan Recipes That Are Perfect For Thanksgiving. You can easily cover your Thanksgiving table with this list alone.

And fear not…there’s even vegan pumpkin pie!

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Second, the shopping season is here and Black Friday is next week. There are so many reasons to avoid the shopping craze that is coming up, but let’s stay on topic and discuss free-trade, plastic waste, and local economies another day. 🙂 As you shop, will you avoid fur? How about leather? How about down? It isn’t as hard as you might think and again, it shows people that you care! Need some ideas about which corporations are animal friendly? Use PETA’s shopping guide and shop from home. You can also download the Leaping Bunny app to help you shop for cruelty-free products. Or, heck, just check those tags before you put something in your cart.

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I started this post by introducing the “bad news,” but let’s remember that there wouldn’t be a “bad” without a “good.” The good news is that as we each encounter new knowledge (even the kind that makes you disgusted or disheartened) it is a chance for us to decide anew. And there is a great gift of power in that, as I’ve written about before. What is the one new decision you will make today to make it a more humane holiday season?

Happy Thanksgiving,

~~~S Wave~~~

Alma Mater, Mission Accomplished!

One of today’s report from PETA is about their campaign to ask University of Michigan to end it’s needless use of cats in medical training. The school has just announced they are putting an end to the practice! I’m posting this because it is times like this that I am encouraged to continue with each little step I take. I was one of thousands who signed this petition and when I can actually see a result like this, I instantly feel joined to every other person who voiced their opinion. Have you visited our Signed, Sealed, Delivered page yet? Get your name on something and see what happens!!

Here is the article from PETA…..

Victory! U-M Ends Cruel Cat Labs!

Written by Heather Faraid Drennan

After more than a year of campaigning by PETA and supporters—and a day after the release of a shockingPETA exposé—the University of Michigan (U-M) announced that it has ended the use of cats in its Survival Flight intubation training laboratory.

More than 100,000 people—including Michigan natives Iggy Pop and Lily Tomlin—called on U-M to replace crude and cruel live-animal laboratories with more humane and effective human simulators, which are already used for other U-M courses. The U-M student group Michigan Animal Rights Society led demonstrations in support of the effort, the student assembly passed a resolution urging the school to end the laboratories, and the student newspaper editorial board came out in favor of replacing animals with simulators. PETA supporters even jammed university circuit boards with phone calls to protest the Survival Flight animal laboratories.

U-M says that it still plans to harm and kill pigs to teach other skills in the Survival Flight training course, and PETA will continue to push the school to replace all animal use with simulators that are already available on campus.

Of course, this victory would not have been possible without the help of our supporters.

PETA Cries Constitutional Foul on Seaworld

Write to Blackstone now with a click.

Leave it to PETA. I love this group because the out-there actions they take get people’s attention and makes us think about our relationship with animals. In a latest effort to stop the inhumane treatment of wild-caught orcas at Seaworld, PETA is suing the amusement park for violating the 13th amendment of Constitution which prohibits slavery but does not refer to mankind only. Okay, whether you’re a speciest or not, their point hits home. In the wild, orcas live in complex social units and travel hundreds of miles a day with their pod. They are instinctual hunters.

Now picture them at Seaworld. They are held in small pools for hours and hours on end with nothing to stimulate them, nowhere to swim, and nothing to hunt. Dead fish are thrown at them and social interaction with other orcas is often denied.  We’re talking about WILD orcas here…not orcas bred in captivity.  And really that’s a moot point anyway; wild or not, their instinct to hunt and swim great distances still exists.  Check out this picture where Tilikum is kept in a pool where his head and tail almost touch the walls end to end. All this for us to ooh and ahh at them doing “tricks.” PETA claims this is enslavement by definition.

I personally will never take my family to Seaworld. Moreover, I look forward to the day where animals behaving unnaturally, due to what is usually inhumane training techniques, is no longer considered entertainment. Blackstone Group owns Seaworld and PETA has written a letter for you to send to them. The letter demands that these whales be released into the care of sanctuaries that are prepared to care for them the RIGHT way. All you have to do is sign (i.e., type) and click. This PETA campaign is sure to get national attention. Will you be a part of that?

Write to Blackstone now with a click.