Category Archives: Inspiration & Spirituality

Guru Purnima

Image from our Meditation 2022 wall calendar. Click for more info.

Guru Purnima is considered to be one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar. This festival is dedicated to one’s Guru, mentor, or teacher. Also known as Vyasa Purnima, Guru Purnima falls on the full moon day (Purnima) of the Hindu month of Ashadha. This year, India is celebrating Guru Purnima on July 24.

It is widely believed that Lord Buddha gave his first sermon on Guru Purnima in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, after weeks of achieving enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. The day also holds significance in The Mahabharata and other holy books of the Hindus.

The word Guru is derived from two words, gu and ru. The Sanskrit root gu means darkness or ignorance, and ru denotes the remover of that darkness. Therefore, a Guru is one who removes the darkness of ignorance. In addition to having religious importance, Guru Purnima also has great importance for Indian academics and scholars who celebrate this day by thanking their teachers as well as remembering past teachers.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

 

World Environment Day 2021: Reimagine, Recreate, Restore

“We are a fraction of a second in earth’s lifetime. Yet she is our only lifeline.” — Jordan Sanchez

Since 1974, World Environment Day (WED) has been celebrated every year on June 5, engaging governments, businesses and citizens in an effort to address pressing environmental issues.

WED offers a global platform for inspiring positive change. It pushes for individuals to think about the way they consume; for businesses to develop greener models; for farmers and manufacturers to produce more sustainably; for governments to invest in repairing the environment; for educators to inspire students to take action; and for youth to build a greener future.

WED 2021 is hosted by Pakistan with the theme of “Ecosystem Restoration” under the campaign “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.” The official hashtags for the Day are #GenerationRestoration and #WorldEnvironmentDay. This year, the Day will also serve as the formal launch of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (UN Decade) 2021-2030.

Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Decade is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world. It’s goal is to build a strong, broad-based global movement to ramp up restoration and put the world on track for a sustainable future, which includes building political momentum for restoration and supporting many thousands of on-the-ground initiatives. As a priority, the UN Decade seeks to build the capacity of marginalized groups that stand to lose most from the continued destruction of ecosystems—such as indigenous peoples, women and youth—to take an active role in restoration. Scores of partner organizations have already come forward in support of the UN Decade.

Thousands from around the world are organizing virtual and physical events, small and large to celebrate WED. Browse through the 2021 official schedule of events hosted by UNEP and Decade Partners, featuring high level speakers, expert panels and other events. Get involved with global virtual gatherings, community clean ups, live social discussions, musical and film screenings, and other opportunities for action.


The United Nations Environment Programme asked Jordan Sanchez, who is studying physics at Harvard University, to produce a poem to mark World Environment Day 2021. The result — a spoken word piece titled “Recreate. Reimagine. Restore!” — is a powerful call to action, reminding listeners that we must stop plundering and start protecting the planet’s resources. It ties into the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a UN initiative to prevent, halt, and reverse the degradation of ecosystems worldwide.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

 

Earth Day 2021: Restore Our Earth

You realize that on that little blue-and-white thing, there is everything that means anything to you — all history, music, poetry, art, death, birth, and love — all of it on that little spot out there that you can cover with your thumb.
— Rusty Schweickart, NASA Astronaut

Every year on April 22, Earth Day marks the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. Here is an excerpt about the history of this event from the Earth Day website:

Senator Gaylord Nelson, a junior senator from Wisconsin, had long been concerned about the deteriorating environment in the United States. Then in January 1969, he and many others witnessed the ravages of a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. Inspired by the student anti-war movement, Senator Nelson wanted to infuse the energy of student anti-war protests with an emerging public consciousness about air and water pollution. Senator Nelson announced the idea for a teach-in on college campuses to the national media, and persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to serve as his co-chair. They recruited Denis Hayes, a young activist, to organize the campus teach-ins and they choose April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Final Exams, to maximize the greatest student participation. The event was called Earth Week.

Recognizing its potential to inspire all Americans, Hayes built a national staff of 85 to promote events across the land and the effort soon broadened to include a wide range of organizations, faith groups, and others. They changed the name to Earth Day, which immediately sparked national media attention, and caught on across the country. Earth Day inspired 20 million Americans — at the time, 10% of the total population of the United States — to take to the streets, parks and auditoriums to demonstrate against the impacts of 150 years of industrial development which had left a growing legacy of serious human health impacts. Thousands of colleges and universities organized protests against the deterioration of the environment and there were massive coast-to-coast rallies in cities, towns, and communities.

As 1990 approached, a group of environmental leaders approached Denis Hayes to once again organize another major campaign for the planet. This time, Earth Day went global, mobilizing 200 million people in 141 countries and lifting environmental issues onto the world stage. Earth Day 1990 gave a huge boost to recycling efforts worldwide and helped pave the way for the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. It also prompted President Bill Clinton to award Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the highest honor given to civilians in the United States — for his role as Earth Day founder.

Today, Earth Day is widely recognized as the largest secular observance in the world, marked by more than a billion people every year as a day of action to change human behavior and create global, national and local policy changes.

The theme for 2021 is Restore Our Earth. Visit the Earth Day website to learn more about how to be involved.


Image information:
Blue Marble Earth Montage (Jan. 30, 2012) — Behold one of the more detailed images of Earth created yet. This image was created from photographs taken by the Visible/Infrared Imager Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument on board the Suomi NPP satellite. The satellite is named after Verner Suomi, commonly deemed the father of satellite meteorology. Photo credit: NASA


Original broadcast of CBS News Special Report with Walter Cronkite about the first Earth Day, 1970.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

 

Random Acts of Kindness

Illustration by Clairice Gifford from The Art of Kindness 2021 wall calendar.

Random Acts of Kindness Week, which will be observed February 14-20, 2021, is an annual opportunity to unite through kindness. Formally recognized in 1995, this seven-day celebration demonstrates that kindness is contagious. It all starts with one act — one smile, one coffee for a stranger, one favor for a friend. It’s an opportunity for participants to leave the world better than they found it and inspire others to do the same. Since inception, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation estimates that millions of individuals, celebrities, businesses, schools, and partners have participated in these weeklong celebrations.

Here is more from their website about the theme for 2021:

We are upholding this annual tradition of celebrating kindness because we know everyone can use more kindness in their lives. Scientific evidence shows us the positive effects of doing kind acts for others as well as receiving or even witnessing kindness. Even the smallest act of kindness can change a life.

In 2021, we encourage everyone to Explore the Good and Make Kindness the Norm.

Stories come to us on a daily basis. They are beautiful and heartwarming, but mostly they give us hope. We hear of seemingly insignificant moments where a stranger helps another stranger and impacts the rest of their life with a small gesture. When we tune into kindness happening around us, the day seems a little bit brighter. The week seems a little more manageable.

These stories are nothing new or unique. They are YOUR stories. They are OUR stories. Help us Make Kindness the Norm by spreading it in the simplest ways.

Even with all the challenges facing society, the Random Acts of Kindness foundation wants to remind the world that there is still so much good going on.

There are lots of wonderful resources and free downloadables on the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation website.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

Hygge: Finding Comfort in Winter

Image from A Year of Mindful Living 2021 wall calendar.

Hygge (pronunced HOO-gah) is the Danish way of embracing winter that embodies loving connection and ease. Dwelling. Savoring. Slowing down. Making ordinary everyday moments more meaningful, special, and beautiful.

I love how this philosophy mirrors the Taoist, Feng Shui and Chinese Medicine paths of being in alignment with the season. With winter being so yin (cold, dark, wet and damp), it’s a time for deep rest, relaxation and restoration. We can balance this with some strong yang chi — fires, light and warmth!

Here are some simple ways to create your own at home experience of hygge…

  • Slow down and really relax — Take a nap by the fire. Turn off our phone, tv and computer and connect. Share food, music or poetry with loved ones without distraction. Watch the sunrise or moonrise. Enjoy pure “being” and presence!
  • Create warm, cozy spaces — Use faux fur throws, flannel sheets, soft sweaters, slippers, a blanket tent and so on.
  • Decorate only with what you love — Go natural and organic by hanging fresh or dried tree branches and fresh flowers or greenery in every room.
  • Illuminate with soothing light — White candles in clear glass jars. Mirrored sconces. Fairy lights. Fires in the fireplace. White paper star pendants.
  • Savor comfort — Love your favorite people. Create comfort and shelter for yourself and others. Cuddle with your cat and dog. Light a candle at breakfast. Take a hot bath. Stick cloves in a fresh orange.
  • Create sacred sanctuary and community — Enjoy the good and simple life. Savor the present moment. Walk in the woods. Have a bonfire outside. Make snow angels.
  • Eat warm foods — soups, porridge, congee, stews. Drink hot chai, tea or cocoa. Enjoy artisan chocolate or chutney. Bake bread.
  • Declutter, simplify — Be content in simple things. Enjoy BEING instead of doing!

Gwynne WarnerGwynne Allyn Warner is the founder of 10,000 Blessings Feng Shui and practices Black Sect Tantric Buddhist Feng Shui as a disciple of Grandmaster Professor Lin Yun. She was certified as an Advanced Feng Shui Consultant by Helen and James Jay of Feng Shui Designs. Gwynne began her studies in Buddhism in her early twenties while living in London where she became enamored with Kuan Yin and thereafter received her Bodhisattva Vows with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Her expertise has been treasured by creative small businesses, service professionals, performing artists, Chinese medicine practitioners, healers, and interior designers among others. For more information and to sign up for her newsletter, please visit her website.


Sign up now…receive-news-3

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Día de los Muertos: November 1–2

Fascination with the Morbs © Cynthia Frenette from our Day of the Dead 2021 wall calendar. Click for more info.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is not a Mexican version of Halloween.

Though related, the two annual events differ greatly in traditions and tone. Whereas Halloween is a dark night of terror and mischief, Day of the Dead festivities unfold over two days in an explosion of color and life-affirming joy. Sure, the theme is death, but the point is to demonstrate love and respect for deceased family members. In towns and cities throughout Mexico, revelers don elaborate makeup and costumes, hold parades and parties, sing and dance, and make offerings to lost loved ones.

Day of the Dead originated several thousand years ago with the Aztec, Toltec, and other Nahua people, who considered mourning the dead disrespectful. For these pre-Hispanic cultures, death was a natural phase in life’s long continuum. The dead were still members of the community, kept alive in memory and spirit—and during Día de los Muertos, they temporarily returned to Earth. Today’s Día de los Muertos celebration is a mash-up of pre-Hispanic religious rites and Christian feasts. It takes place on November 1 and 2—All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on the Catholic calendar—around the time of the fall maize harvest.

Literary Calaveras
Calavera means “skull.” But during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, calavera was used to describe short, humorous poems, which were often sarcastic tombstone epitaphs published in newspapers that poked fun at the living. These literary calaveras eventually became a popular part of Día de los Muertos celebrations. Today the practice is alive and well. You’ll find these clever, biting poems in print, read aloud, and broadcast on television and radio programs.

The Calavera Catrina
In the early 20th century, Mexican political cartoonist and lithographer José Guadalupe Posada created an etching to accompany a literary calavera. Posada dressed his personification of death in fancy French garb and called it Calavera Garbancera, intending it as social commentary on Mexican society’s emulation of European sophistication. “Todos somos calaveras,” a quote commonly attributed to Posada, means “we are all skeletons.” Underneath all our manmade trappings, we are all the same.

In 1947 artist Diego Rivera featured Posada’s stylized skeleton in his masterpiece mural “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Alameda Park.” Posada’s skeletal bust was dressed in a large feminine hat, and Rivera made his female and named her Catrina, slang for “the rich.” Today, the calavera Catrina, or elegant skull, is the Day of the Dead’s most ubiquitous symbol.

Altars
The centerpiece of the celebration is an altar, or ofrenda, built in private homes and cemeteries. These aren’t altars for worshipping; rather, they’re meant to welcome spirits back to the realm of the living. As such, they’re loaded with offerings—water to quench thirst after the long journey, food, family photos, and a candle for each dead relative. If one of the spirits is a child, you might find small toys on the altar. Marigolds are the main flowers used to decorate the altar. Scattered from altar to gravesite, marigold petals guide wandering souls back to their place of rest. The smoke from copal incense, made from tree resin, transmits praise and prayers and purifies the area around the altar.

Source: National Geographic by Logan Ward


Sign up now…receive-news-3


 


Dreaming of 2021… Wall Calendars, Planners, and Desk Pads 

Artist Spotlight — Flora Bowley: Creative Revolution

Flora BowleyAmber Lotus Publishing is excited to welcome Flora Bowley to our family. Flora is a painter, pioneer, gentle guide, and author of two books, Brave Intuitive Painting and Creative Revolution.

Blending more than twenty years of professional painting experience with her background as a yoga instructor, healer, and lifelong truth seeker, Flora’s soulful approach to the creative process, along with her books, international retreats, and online courses, has sparked a holistic movement in the intuitive art world by encouraging thousands of people to courageously pick up a paintbrush.

Flora believes that creativity holds the power to awaken, empower, heal, and transform, and her work reminds us that all humans are born with infinite wells of creative expression just waiting to be tapped and remembered.

Flora lives and creates in Portland, Oregon. Her vibrant paintings can be found in galleries and shops and are printed on unique products around the world.

Find out more about Flora at florabowley.com.

Creative Revolution 2020-2021 Weekly Planner


Sign up now…receive-news-3


Creative Revolution 2021 Wall Calendar

Letters Against Isolation — Notes to Cheer Self-Isolating Seniors

As a stationery publisher, we love creating beautiful greeting cards to spread inspiration, comfort, and cheer. We know that a handwritten note has the power to brighten someone’s day — a small act of kindness that can transform.

Sisters Shreya and Saffron were doing their best to support their self-isolating grandparents by calling them every day during the COVID outbreak. Then they had an idea to do something more. Here’s an excerpt from their website Letters Against Isolation:

We realized that without visitors or the ability to interact with the wider world, many senior citizens may be growing lonely. Senior loneliness is a well-documented issue and has effects not only on seniors’ mental health but on their physical health. We believed that we could do something to help this situation. We decided to spread some joy and write handwritten letters to residents of assisted living facilities and care homes. When growing demand for letters outpaced us, we started Letters Against Isolation.

I am Saffron, a 10th grader attending high school in Cambridge, Massachusetts. I absolutely love volunteering and getting involved with my community! Prior to the pandemic, I was volunteering at our local science museum, hospital and STEM club on a weekly basis. Since I have moved countries and states a few times already, I find volunteering to be my way of getting to know my community and feeling connected. Once the pandemic started, I missed going to my volunteer programs! I was eager to find a new way to build a community and help people in need.

My sister Shreya just graduated from high school a year ago. She is taking a gap year before heading to Washington University in Saint Louis in the fall. Shreya also enjoys volunteering and is very close to our grandparents. She is interested in entrepreneurship and is always searching for ways she can make an impact or improve the community.

Letters Against Isolation started as a small-scale project for the two of us. My grandma who has been self-isolating for almost 4 months was feeling a bit lonely. A friend of hers wrote her a letter and she was so happy to receive it. Shreya and I saw firsthand how something as simple as a letter can remind you that someone is thinking of you, and can really boost your mood. We thought that it is likely that many seniors were also feeling a bit isolated, and sending them a letter could lift their spirits. We contacted a local care facility and asked if we could send their residents a few letters. They told us that the residents were thrilled to receive them! We knew that we wanted to spread the love and that we needed help to do it. We enlisted the help of friends, family, and volunteers online. In just a few days, we found a huge number of people willing to take a bit of time out of their day to bring some joy to a senior.

Their website has wonderful information on participating as well as great ideas for what to write and share.


Sign up now…receive-news-3