Archive for extraordinary

Elephant Poo and Wasted Possibilities

There is a lot of crap going on in the world right now.  Sometimes it seems like everywhere you go someone is trying to dump their mess on you. …as if you don’t have a big enough load of your own. But I want to encourage you and let you know there is hope….

I present to you Exhibit A: Elephant Dung Paper

Transforming poop into paper pulp

Did you know you can make paper out of poop? No, its not scratch and sniff. Its paper made out of the fiber found in elephant dung. Large elephants can eat as much as 600 lbs of vegetation a day (things like grass, leaves, bark, seeds, etc) but they pretty inefficient digestive systems. As a result, around half of their food comes out the other end as fiber. This fiber does not stink and makes for the perfect raw material for paper pulp.

There is a lot of good coming from this crap. First, anything that limits the number of trees lost to deforestation for the purposes of making paper is a good thing. Its estimated that 50% of the world’s forests have been lost for paper production ( a high price to pay for all junk mail). Poo poo paper is recycling at its finest. Saving the trees=saving our oxygen= saving our lives…YAY for saving the planet! Beyond this, many elephants lose their lives because of profit. Farmers often kill them because they are seen as a threat to agriculture ( their livelihood). Plus those who are making virgin paper kill them as they are bulldozing the forests…all bad. But now that elephant dung provides profitability, there are more incentives to protect their lives. Elephant dung is proving to be packed with possibilities.

And this just scratches the surface. Elephant dung is not the only powerful poo. In Haiti, they are finding ways to use human waste to create sustainable agriculture practices. In a place where poor sanitation has led to outbreaks of cholera, parasites, and typhoid, an organization called SOIL is using human poop to create much needed fertilizers to re-cultivate barren lands, and grow food. In Haiti, their crap is creating jobs, addressing a public health crisis, and supporting healthy eating and agriculture. To find out more, check out the video on SOIL here:  Holy Crap.

All this talk of poo got me thinking, if you can make paper and sustainable agriculture out of poo, what can I make out of my crappy situations? What am I down in the dumps about that I could be creating from? Lets face it, we all have crap in our lives. But ultimately, it is up to us whether the lessons this messiness provide are wasted. Even our crappiest situations present us with opportunity to be powerful, to use things that could break us down to build something new. It is when we are knee deep that we are forced to stand the tallest.

Are there things you have dismissed as a waste? A waste of time, even? A waste of energy? A waste of resources? Are there people who you have dismissed as a waste? Are these things, in reality, just wasted possibilities you are missing out on?

Stuff happens. Its what you do with it that matters.

“No pain that we suffer, no trial that we experience is wasted. It ministers to our education, to the development of such qualities as patience, faith, fortitude and humility. All that we suffer and all that we endure, especially when we endure it patiently, builds up our characters, purifies our hearts, expands our souls, and makes us more tender and charitable, more worthy to be called the children of God.― Orson F. Whitney


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Are you the Bee’s Knees?

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers” -Thich Nhat Hanh

Have you ever heard the saying “the bee’s knees”?  Its a term that found its way into our (well some people’s) vernacular back in the 1920s and it is commonly understood to mean “the height of excellence.”  Why are the bee’s knees the picture of excellence? Well, tucked away on the mid-segments  of their legs are tiny pollen baskets called corbiculae. In this teeny, tiny, space, only fractions of a centimeter large,  bees hold the bloom of our world.

Look outside your window. Of all the plants you see, 75% depend on the pollen baskets of pollinators to bloom. Look in your kitchen– one-third of your food is pollinated by these small baskets nearly invisible to the naked eye. The beauty of orchids, the juiciness of apples, the antioxidants of apples, and the vitamins  of avocados each depend on bees to exist. In essence, the beauty and function of our world is dependent on these very small concentrations of goodness, that often go unnoticed but make all the difference.

Where are there small concentrations of goodness in your life going unnoticed? Who, like the bee, is making your world come into bloom through their unnoticed tireless work and commitment?  Are you being a concentration of goodness? What are you bringing into bloom with your excellence? What could you encourage to bloom if you brought your excellence to a new height?

Excellence can be obtained if you:
…care more than others think is wise;
…risk more than others think is safe;
…dream more than others think is practical;
…expect more than others think is possible.


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God Given Gift of Voice

A few days ago, Ted Williams passed the time standing on the streets of Colombus, OH pleading with strangers to listen to him for just a few seconds. Day after day he held a cardboard sign with his direct request, “I have a god given gift of voice. I’m an ex-radio announcer who has fallen on hard times. Please! Any help will be greatfully appreciated. Thank you and God bless. Happy holidays,” Hundreds of cars passed him by, his desperation no match for tight schedules and closed hearts. Today, the whole country is listening to this homeless man. They are listening to his perfect-pitch. They are listening to his story. They are listening to his heart. Yesterday he was simply a part of the urban backdrop. Today he is “The Man with the Golden Voice.”

Ted’s life story is unique. His challenges, however, are not.  We are each looking for a home for our most authentic voice and gifts. Each of us was born with a golden voice. It was given to us by God to share our unique story with the world….our unique love, our unique compassion, our unique honesty, our unique character, our unique perspective. Some of us have discovered that golden voice and used it. Others have discovered and muted it. And still some of us are still hoping to find its beauty.

Are you using your golden voice or is it muted, the world still waiting to hear it? Perhaps, like Ted, you feel the world is passing up your incredible gifts day after day because of its own apathy. Well, speak up. Demand its listening. Turn the volume on high. God has colored your Your voice in gold and the world is hungry to hear its most perfect pitch.

Nothing that I can do will change the structure of the universe. But maybe, by raising my voice I can help the greatest of all causes – goodwill among men and peace on earth.”- Albert Einstein

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Lessons on Extraodinary Living from Red Velvet Cake

The other night I was chatting with my friend Lauren when our conversation came to a screeching halt when I decided to ask the most absurd question…

Me: Do you like red velvet cake?

LBoog: WHAT!!?!?


Do fish swim?

Birds fly?


Me: Why do you like it?


LBoog: It’s sexy. Period. Point blank.

I was in no way surprised by Lauren’s emphatic praise of red velvet cake. She and just about every person I know stops dead in their tracks at even the thought, mention or sight of the stuff.

In reality, only a few teaspoons of cocoa and a few cups of red food coloring separate this mouth watering dessert from your run of the mill white cake.  Red velvet cake  enthusiasts will tell you red velvet is moist, dense, and beautiful. Any cake baked with love has those things.

So what makes a red velvet cake such a crowd pleaser? Maybe it is not so much the taste of the cake itself that has created all the buzz. Perhaps it is the perception that we are about to experience something special that makes all the difference. There is an anticipation and joy that builds at the sight of those red and white stripes that sets the stage for love even before the first bite. It is that initial excitement that turns ordinary white/chocolate cake saturated in artificial food coloring into an extraordinary dessert.

I wonder what life would be like if we looked at other ordinary experiences the same way we look at red velvet cake—with an anticipation and expectation for joy from the start. What if every ordinary day could transform into the extraordinary simply because you expected greatness? What if each interaction you had today could be extraordinary simply by your choice to see it as such? What if your relationships could become 10 times richer simply by your decision to approach each one as if it was your most important?

Each morning we get to wake up and choose whether we will see the world as white cake with food coloring or delicious red velvet cake. Which one are you choosing today?

“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great”~Orison Swett Marden

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