Add Depth of Meaning to Your Photos by Adding Your Story!

When your family views your photo album 50 years from now, what will it mean to them? How about 75-100 years from now? Does it really matter?

We are creating a living legacy with each word we speak, each choice we make, and every action we take. It all pours into our DNA just as powerfully as eye color, hair texture, and physique. Our life stories are etched deeply in our memories but memories fade all too quickly if they are not recorded.

We are one generation away from oblivion unless we harness the power of our words and actions and put stories to our photos and other memorabilia.

This evening I wanted to snap a photo of the red cliffs in Thermopolis, Wyoming. The setting sun has cast a burnished glow to the towering mountain giants overlooking the Big Horn River. Interspersed with the red giants, overlapping velvety green hills sparkled in the fading sunlight… their sagebrush faces almost seemed as if they were made of jade.

Birds fluttered from tree to tree, their songs filling the wide blue expanse of heaven, bringing it right down to earth. A sole bald eagle soared gracefully from one end of the river to the other, it’s piercing eyes no doubt hoping for a great fish dinner.

It’s early April in the canyon and the naked trees rustle with last year’s brown leaves clinging bravely to bare branches. Next to the Big Horn River is the Fountain of Youth RV Park, home to the largest outdoor hot mineral pools. 1.4 million gallons of hot mineral water pour into a series of three large pools, cooling off as the water passes from one pool to the next.

Just after sunset the rushing fountain surges with a ruddy glow, it’s shooting plumes pulsate like fireworks while the last of the day’s puffy clouds part to reveal a midnight blue sky already sparkling with starry diamonds. On the weekends country music wafts through the night as children swim and play ball while parents float side-by-side in the misty water, heads close together, swaying slightly with the waves.

The water is thick with mineral content and the rich sodium makes my body pleasantly buoyant, almost as if there is zero gravity in the world. As my own weight diminishes, so the cares of the world melt off my soul and I feel lighter inside and out. My water bed is both pillow and blanket as swirls of mist curl around my face, enveloping me in a cloudy embrace. The air is cool and crisp but I’m as snug and warm as a little girl tucked into a feather bed.

I feel my Father tucking me into His embrace, and He reminds me that He is present all the time, everywhere.

Nature is a healer. She knows just what we need. Sixty percent of our North American population relies on some type of drug to control their dis-ease. Anxiety is at an all-time high and stress forms the roots of most infirmity. No one has prescribed anything for me and I don’t take any medications… yet I almost died from an illness that made its entrance soon after my husband’s body was healed.

As I soak and soak and soak today I can feel my body shedding the weight of stress and releasing toxic memories, words, and experiences. Extra baggage that can actually cause us to become over-weight as our bodies deal with the stress hormone, cortisol, storing it in our belly fat and other fat storage areas. Gross, huh?

As I watch the bald eagle I am reminded of my home in Northwestern Montana where seven bald eagles lived down the road from our house. A river rushed noisily in our front yard as beavers busily constructed dams while mountain lions stalked the beavers for their next dinner. Muskrats and otters filled the water with joyful leaps and dives. A bull frog chorus became the back up musicians for a butterfly choreography performed by thousands of fluttering blue and lavender beauties.

I miss home… my heart was only just beginning to mend in that haven of beauty and rest. Not many people understand the peculiar stress of being the sole caretaker of a severely injured husband. Days of anxiety and sleepless nights turned into years of never knowing if the pain was going to win and he would take his own life. Always watching, always on call. Missing my best friend who could no longer take walks with me, who no longer seemed himself. On drugs normally reserved for terminal cancer patients, something changed in our relationship…

Insurance ran out but it wouldn’t have paid for a caretaker’s care, anyway… who cares for the caretaker? There’s a season for everything. Winter is passing and a chubby robin hopping among the dandelions is a welcome harbinger of Spring. And so, in my own soul, Spring is here. I just needed a place to soak, a place to just “be”… a place that would remind me of home.

Caretakers need care too. When a family endures a severe illness the whole family suffers, but the one who cares 24/7 and is the closest often suffers things no one else sees or hears. They weigh on the soul and drain energy from the body. If you’re a caretaker you understand the demands, the risks, and the fatigue.

Maybe one day doctors will treat the caretaker as diligently as the injured patient, but in the meantime Creation is teaching me the hidden value of soaking in beauty and truth. Nature is healing the inner wounds only a long-term caretaker of one who was severely injured will understand.

A geothermal pool, burnished reddish-orange cliffs, a soaring bald eagle, a chubby robin, and dandelions… strong healing powers and my “medicine”.

Have you tested the power of Creation in healing your own soul? I’d love to hear your story!

This is part of my own story… a continuation of other stories:

“The Bionic Man Returns”

“Resistance, Eat My Dust!”

“Digging For Treasure in the Ruins of Accidents, Abuse, and Addictions”

“When It Hurts So Bad You Want to Die”

“5-Year Old Surfs the Airwaves”

“Mind Over Moose”

“The Horse Gourmet”

When writing you own life story, you can jump around. You don’t need to be concerned about chronological order, unless you want to. Everything can always be changed. The important thing is just to get started.

Pick a photo or two…. try to remember what made you snap that photo. What were you feeling at the time? Why is that place, that person, that event special to you?

What will your family lose if this memory is forgotten?

Don’t try to be perfect. Fumbling for words is natural. If you’re better talking than writing, have someone use a video camera or an audio recorder and follow our step-by-step blueprint in the “All-in-One” Life Story Book Kit for incorporating multimedia in your life story.

Recently I took a photograph of my mother holding her 70-year doll, and I listened to her heart along with her words as she described what made this doll so special for her. The photo turned out well (my mom is very photogenic) but without her story, it’s just a pretty photo!

Stories add a deeper layer of meaning when combined with photos!

I know you’re very busy and while you care about preserving your family’s heritage, you may not have all the time you wish you had to pull those photos and stories together!

You’ve been on my mind so much lately, and I don’t want you to miss out on creating a living family legacy and writing your life story!

So I thought, why not make this into a game? A game that can be played a few minutes each day or an hour each week… you can play by yourself or make it a party!

Let me know and I’ll send the “Life Story Game” to you today!

The Favorite Flowers of Bees and Butterflies

Flowers are one of the people’s favorite creations of God. They are widely used for different purposes. Flowers are the best weapons to melt someone’s heart. But don’t you know that bees and butterflies have their own favorite flowers, too? Do you want to know what their favorite flowers are? Read on.

For sure, you are pretty aware that bees and butterflies need flowers for pollination and for their own benefits. Furthermore, they also help in maintaining the balance in the ecosystem. Flowers are the number one reason why you are still enjoying the mouth-watering taste of honey from bees. Bees and butterflies have their favorite flowers. Yes, you read it right! Though they are naturally attracted to flowers and they are exposed to millions of flower species on this planet, they do have their favorite flower specie, too.

These are some of the most favorite flowers of bees and butterflies:

• Asters – These flowers will bloom during mid-summer and late fall. This flower is one of the latest blooming flowers in the northern climate. There are different colors of this flower. They come in dark purple, white and others call them dark blue. You can trim these flowers for several weeks on summer days. This will make their clump grow thicker. You can also let the flowers grow naturally to about 20 to 24 inches in length.

• Bee balm – It is one of the herb flowers that come in different colors, like red and deep purple. They bloom in mid-summer until early fall. Bee balms can be grown easily from seed, and they will grow in loose open clusters. Furthermore, bee balms are at their best if you will keep them away from mildew.

• Columbine – These flowers bloom in early spring; and they come in a variety of colors. Columbines have a lengthy tube-like flower top. Thus, bees will surely have their tough time. if you are afraid of bees and have a limited space, this flower is not suitable for you.

• Penstermon, Pink Chablis and Husker Red – This is one of the most favorite flowers of the female bees. They love to crawl inside the tubular blooms of this flower. You will only see their cute bee hinds, which will be left, exposed; while most of their bodies are inside the flower tube. These flowers are one of the native Mexican flowers. They bloom in early summer days and they can grow up to 8-36 inches in length.

• Butterfly weed – These flowers can easily attract the butterflies; and they bloom in summer season. They grow easily; and their seed can be invasive, if you do not pick their seed pods on the ground before they dry and burst open. Butterfly weeds come in different colors, like orange, yellow and red.

• White and purple cone flowers – These flowers are the honeybees’ all-time favorite flower. In fact, there are lots of photo evidences of bees while gathering these flowers. They bloom in early summer until early frost. However, they can stay longer with proper care and protection. These flowers will grow 24-40 inches in length.

• Blanket flowers or Gaillardias – These flowers, like any other flower, come in different colors. The yellows are called yellow goblins; while the reds are called Burgundy Gaillardia. They will give their best if they are exposed to full sunlight; and they grow up to 24 to 36 inches in length.

• Perennial Geranium – These flowers are known in Michigan as Cranesbill. They bloom in early summer and can survive until the fall season. They grow well in full sunlight or full shade to about 15-18 inches in length. These flowers come in different shades of purple and blue. They are one of the major sources of nectar for the wild bees.

• Sedum (Autumn Joy) – This flower blooms in late summer and will last in the early winter season. You will not be able to see these flowers during 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the last days of fall due to the swarm of bees in it. Bees crawl on each other just to get the nectar from it. Some of the bees will wait for their turn while staying on the leaves. Honeybees surely love these flowers.

Butterfly Garden in Beijing

If you are a nature lover and have a particular penchant for seeing butterflies from close quarters, make sure to visit the Butterfly Garden in Beijing. Located in Shunyi District at the crossing point of Huosi Road and Baima Road, this is the largest garden in Asia from where you can watch a wide variety of butterflies.

How to reach

You can board 916 or 980 from Dongzhimen to Dulanzhuang, get a transfer to 25, and get down at Nanlangzhongzhaohu Station to reachthe Butterfly Garden.Alternately, you can use the bus lines of 634, 331, 714, 696, 733, 360 or 318 to come here.

Best time to visit

Hundreds of butterflies hover around the garden during the months of April to October, making it the best time to visit the place.

Other Details

The Butterfly Garden stays open from 9:00 to 16:00 and you can get admission by paying 99 RMB.

What to do

In Beijing, the Butterfly Garden is the only garden where patrons can not only see numerous butterflies but also enjoy the mesmerizing view of a wide variety of flowers, which are cultivated here.

This garden, which is spread over 600 square meters, is divided into four sections, and almost 500,000 butterflies are displayed in them. While you can head to the four-season glasshouse to see butterflies from subtropical and tropical regions, the breeding workhouse is the place to head to if you want to see how chrysalises change into butterflies. Since people living in temperate areas seldom get the chance to watch and experience tropical butterflies, this garden, by its unique concept of displaying subtropical and tropical butterflies, finds many patrons from different walks of life.

30 breeds of butterflies can be seen at the Butterfly Garden in Beijing. Out of these 30 breeds, over 10 are listed as state-protected species. Since the garden organizes educational tours for students from time to time, students from nearby schools and institution are often seen participating in them to learn more about the different species of butterflies from close quarters.

For children, the garden offers interactive zones, where they can not only play with butterflies, but also learn to make paintings of their wings and have fun.

A section, which is surely worth stopping by during your visit to the place, is the butterfly wing exhibition. In this region, wings of deceased butterflies are used to create beautiful butterfly wing pictures. Whether you come here during the weekend or sometime in the mid-week, make sure to stop by this region.

While the Butterfly Garden in Beijing offers families a place to get up, close and personal with a wide variety of butterflies, it also offers the perfect setting for avid photographers who are on the lookout for a beautiful photo.

So, whether you want to know more about nature and butterflies, enjoy different types of butterflies flying around, or just want to understand nature’s biodiversity, Beijing’s Butterfly Garden will fit the bill perfectly. So, the next time you plan a visit to Beijing, make sure to include the Butterfly Garden in Beijing into your travel itinerary.

Motodops, Rice Fields and Butterflies

Whilst staying in the Beautiful Cambodian City of Siem Reap we decided to go and look at the butterflies at The Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre. This small centre is owned and run by local people for the benefit of all the local rice farming families. The journey from The City to the centre is about 20 Km and is almost as good as the centre itself.

We took a motodop from town, favouring these motorbike drawn landaus over the cars every time. It’s a very pleasant way to travel, seated in the back, enjoying the views and joking with the driver. Leaving Siem Reap we headed out North passing Angkor Wat on the way. Just by Angkor Wat, monkeys gathered at the side of the road to beg or steal food from anyone who stopped to look at them.

Once past The Temples of Angkor, the countryside opens up to present a vista more in keeping with the Khmer wilderness that we have seen so often on TV and in movies. The local people live an extremely frugal life style. Residing in houses of reeds and leaves that stand on stilts cut from local trees, they farm rice and make and sell arts and crafts to visitors passing by. Excited children shrieked out a welcome as we drove past and their parents waved and offered friendly smiles to everyone. We waved back as the many rice paddies came and went from our gaze. This is such a beautiful part of the world. The jungle is always just within sight, the farmers cultivate right up to the edge of the impenetrable wilderness, which has born witness to many wars over the centuries.

After about 40 minutes we arrived at out destination. The Banteay Srey Butterfly Centre is a small pleasant place, run by young boys who have an excited passion for their work. They breed the butterflies from egg to caterpillar, look after them as they change to pupae and enjoy them as they emerge in riotous colour to fly freely inside the large netted area. They have an extremely impressive collection of wild local plants and flowers on which their charges feed and rest.

We strolled about amongst the beautiful plants as our guide explained the different species and the way they breed them. They collect the eggs and put them into plastic tubs until the caterpillars hatch. Then they are placed in larger containers. As they change into the pupa stage of their metamorphosis, they are fastened onto bamboo sticks and placed into net sided, wooden cupboards. The doors are opened daily and any butterflies that have emerged, fly free within the netted area.

Our young guide showed us a cage with large stick insects, at first we thought they were the branches to the foliage within, but soon realised that the foot long sticks were in fact what we were looking for. Much more difficult to spot were the leaf insects. These small creatures are so well camouflaged it took even our guide 10 minutes or more to find one.

We stayed a couple of hours before returning to our motodop for the journey back into town. The driver went a slightly different route to give us different points of interest to look at. These drivers are very good and will stay with you for a full day for about US$20.

Back in town we sank a few cold beers and looked at our photos. This is a trip well worth doing for anyone, for families with small children it is a must.