A beautiful life

We are coming up on another anniversary of this blog and you may have noticed I am freshening a few things, little by little.  I thought it was time for a new look, reflecting my green commitment and love of nature, as well as a restatement of what this blog is really about. In the past year, I have been lucky to welcome many friends to this community and to have joined yours. Let me address the reason for this blog, once again, and what my main purpose is in life: seeking true beauty, in you, in myself, and all around us.

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It is easy to misunderstand this concept and so I want to briefly explain what I mean by ‘a beautiful life’.  I hope you know immediately that I am not referring to secondary personal characteristics. This blog is not a showcase of attributes for which I can take little credit or with which I was gifted. It is not a vanity site where I show off.  It is about making my life matter, caring for others, helping to move the world forward in whatever way I can.  It is about finding and nurturing the beauty in life. Not to wax too philosophical here, I would contend that the grand unifying principle of this universe is all things strain toward beauty. I will be talking about this more and illustrating it in my next post on a tangential topic.

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That means, too, that I strive to concentrate on all those aspects of existence that represent the highest ideals man has discovered through inspiration, divine and otherwise, or through stumbling ahead over the long course of our history as a species, some two-plus million years.

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Despite the ills that often plague humanity today, and with which it is all too easy to identify and dwell upon (I am guilty of focusing on these myself sometimes and I struggle to put them in their rightful perspective, even so), there has been progress as I have stated repeatedly here.  I hope that fact and my recognition of it are not lost in the rhetoric on problem solving to which we are all prone, especially those of us who are active social critics.

Refugio-025It is interesting to listen to the candidates for President and see how they frame the current debate.  One of the many reasons I like Mrs. Clinton as a leader and as a person, is the fact that she so rarely demagogues and instead seeks to inspire us to what we can all be, individually and collectively.  Just this week, Mrs. Obama did the same when she addressed a school for girls in a disadvantaged neighborhood in London.  Both these women look to the future, encouraged by their own past struggles and the help they have received that put them on the path to their ultimate success.  Mrs. Clinton astutely cited a key difference in life approaches: some people upon reaching the higher rungs on the ladder, turn around to pull up those behind, others pull the ladder up behind them.

Refugio-232Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. — Philippians 4:8

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In contrast, Mr. Trumpet focused on the failings of others, while inflating his own merits. Those adults who perpetually aim a rose-colored spotlight on themselves suffer immaturity and sometimes, the disorder of a fragile sense of self.

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I just finished reading a biography of Ava Gardner.  What was emphasized over and over again was how breathtakingly beautiful she was with flawless skin, perfect face, glorious figure, graceful and beguiling movements. Along with Hedy Lamarr and Vivien Leigh, she was and still is the most beautiful woman of the modern era.  But, Ms. Gardner rapidly dissipated as a human being once immersed in the celebrity culture of her time.  Hers was not a beautiful life, and it ended prematurely.  I would rather possess the increasing and enduring beauty in Eleanor Roosevelt, than in any Hollywood confection. None of those glamorous stars will end up on the ten dollar bill!

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This past weekend, Geoffrey and I decided to drive up the California coast to enjoy the ocean and its misty spring days as an offset to our now hot and dry weather.  We forgot for the moment about the crude oil leak in May, in the Refugio preserve.  It was all too evident, as you can see here.  What was really remarkable, since we drove about 3 hours north, was that the toxic sludge stretched for dozens and dozens of miles up and down the coast.

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Some of these pictures show the clean-up crews that have been working for weeks to try and save the creatures and plants that once enjoyed a safe and pristine existence, protected by the rising cliffs hovering over the sea all the way to Oregon. The beauty of this coastline has to be seen and felt firsthand to comprehend.  That any company or individual could be so reckless, cavalier, and selfish as to jeopardize its care is beyond mind.

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What struck us too, was the name of the road that follows this coastline northward: El camino réal, the true path.

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We found a lot of beauty nonetheless and consider ourselves fortunate to live in a state that does have a conscience, whose citizens are aware and responsible people, for the most part, with a Governor who reflects the same sensitive values as the most progressive among us.

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California is a gorgeous, bountiful place, suffering perhaps from the consequences of a changed climate, both natural and political, and the actions of others beyond its boundaries and control. But for me and for this blog, it serves as the perfect template for considering all the ways in which the world can and should be beautiful, and what I can do to make life a joy and a pleasure, for myself and for others.

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So, this blog is an extension of my personal convictions, pretty evident here over the past two years and all the topics I have covered, some distasteful, others more lighthearted but always with analysis, solutions and action in mind.

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Plato also spoke of the three ideals: truth, beauty, goodness.  I hope I convey my commitment to all three here.  And an open embrace of all the lovely people who stop by and contribute. We have established a group of friends, all caring, thoughtful, mature and supportive.  My aim is to keep improving, listening, sharing, and learning and in that way, beautifying this space and the broader community as much as I am able. I want all of us to enjoy a beautiful life.

And we will not have it, any of us, if we do, or if we support those who do, unbeautiful things.

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That is the meaning of the tagline, and the new artwork honoring a New York artist who along with the other Hudson River painters of his day, celebrated that lovely and fortunate region, where I grew up, in a manner that perfectly symbolizes what our interior and exterior lives could be, if we would only seek to find and foster it.

Images: BB/El Camino Réal, Highway 101 – The pictures show various times of the day when the mist rolls in off the Pacific Ocean and is held over the coast by the mountains that march along the shore. They also clearly reveal the toxic sludge from the recent infamous oil leak caused by the negligence of the Plains All American Pipeline Corporation, for miles up and down the beaches.  Clean-up crews lined the road for much of the way, and in one shot you can see one of the boats that was off-shore vacuuming oil from the sea floor, still, over one month later.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_photo_challenge/roy-g-biv/

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_prompt/all-about-me/

41 Comments on “A beautiful life

  1. I see all the beautiful things in your Blog.
    That makes LIFE BEAUTIFUL !
    Dear Beth!!
    I have dedicated my Latest post in your name and in the name of your Blog, please visit and go through and do put your comment on that.
    SHIVA

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Lovely, Beth. So sad what we do to our own – environment, neighbors, children. Yet in all of that, we have hope. Because little by little, there is an awakening. There are people who think upon and speak about honorable things. People like Pope Francis. People like you, who continue to speak positive words into the atmosphere, who reflect the Light so those who can’t see it for themselves will see it through you.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Oh, thank you so much for saying and affirming this Susan. I am so grateful that Pope Francis has finally arrived. For however long we are lucky enough to have him, I think he is doing the Work that all Pope’s have been meant to do, at last! Slowly, the awakening and with our voices raised bravely, we can change this and save our planet as well as our species. And, the most Beautiful Life of all must be followed in all of this. ❤

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I want to join your Beautiful Life “club” – and I love the careful way you have explained what you mean by the concept. Sign me up!

    RE: “The beauty of this coastline has to be seen and felt firsthand to comprehend. That any company or individual could be so reckless, cavalier, and selfish as to jeopardize its care is beyond mind.”

    In addition to your beautiful photography, comments like THAT are one of the reasons that I enjoy your blog so much, Beth. You have such a graceful way of calling out the individuals who desperately NEED it!

    I have gotten so angry about some of the latest events that I would be more likely to “jerk a knot in their tails” (as they say in the South) – even though I know that never, ever works very well! Your way of calling for change is the one most likely to be effective – and I can’t imagine that anyone would disagree that we SERIOUSLY need change in America – and soon!

    I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating, we also seem to be on the same page about SO MANY things. I, too, am grateful for the current Pope – a very brave and forward-thinking man, IMHO, who seems to me a much better representative of the religious precepts he espouses than his predecessors. I also have a similar positive reaction to the “public face” of both of the women you reference above.

    I would find them inspiring, even without the contrast with the self-aggrandizing/throw dirt manner of many politicians these days. I don’t understand why *anybody* votes for ANY individual with such a low level of maturity and high level of black and white thinking – and we seem to have so many of them in office these days (politicians with that manner of communicating are among the LAST people that I would want making decisions about America’s future).

    I could go on, but let me simply conclude with my thanks for sharing your view of the planet and of life itself so BEAUTIFULLY!

    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are one of the people I had in mind when I spoke about this community of caring, mature, strong, intelligent people. I have been so lucky to attract people like you to this blog. A few have come and gone, but the many people who have stayed are such an encouragement to me.

      The American people have been so thoroughly lied to that many who don’t know how to sort the true from the false have been seduced into voting for these terrible politicians who only think about their own short-term gain. Some of the statements that come from their mouths are shocking, and what is most disturbing is that they would dismiss people like us as “bleeding hearts” or “soft” or “hippies”. I have been accused of all three and none are true.

      I see it as a sign of empathy and intellect that we care about the principles we do. You and I are very alike along with some of our other good friends here, thank heaven! If we can gather and agree and support one another, there is hope!

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Pingback: Photo Challenge, ROY G. BIV | tnkerr-Writing Prompts and Practice

  5. I will be brief since I believe in you, Beth. Your choices and featured subjects are diverse and thought provoking.
    I learn about you, but you help me “take a stand” therefore, helping me to learn more about myself. This is a true gift of your inner beauty and you are also blessed with outer loveliness.
    Beth, I like your gravatar and your visions of the world and all the possibilities.

    Liked by 4 people

    • You are so supportive and kind, Robin. I appreciate your presence here and I love your blog and learn so much from it that I think we are helping each other. Most important is what a beautiful person you are and that is why you have attracted such a lovely community at your blog. I enjoy reading their contributions as well. It is always a pleasure being there among good people!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You have very good readers and are building a deep level of communication. I am sometimes in awe of how we meet people, not in person, but still somehow feel connected. It is a special way of becoming “pen pals” who want to challenge others to join together.
        You are developing conversations on how to keep moving forward.
        Recently, here, we have talked about progressive thoughts and politics. This is a tough arena to deal due to the wide spectrum of beliefs which exist. I admire your starting that conversation, Beth. We will keep striving until we reach our goals.
        In my high school yearbook, a young man who is still one I look up to as an environmentalist, said that we can not reach the horizon but he knew I would pursue it. He added a compliment to this. This is something which resonates with me, trying to reach for something higher or almost out of our reach: this sets some people apart from those who are content (with status quo) with the state of current environmental, political affairs and humanity.

        Liked by 1 person

        • It is very nice of you to say this, Robin. I think I am finally finding a group of people here with whom I can relate since we have similar goals and are all kind to one another, even if we don’t agree on every issue (although most of us do).

          One of the many things I admire about you in particular, is your cheerfulness and the way you notice all the good things in life, no matter what goes on around you. It is such a pleasure to interact with people who — if they have baggage — don’t burden others with it in a heavy way. You take your setbacks in stride. I admire that trait and aspire to it.

          Thank you for your friendship and your insights, most of all Robin. ❤

          Liked by 1 person

          • This meant a lot since I do share setbacks. I am glad you feel not burdened by these, because I like to hear what other people interpret or suggest for future situations. You are right about some of my followers, they are a great bunch. Hope you are having a nice week, preparing for your Anna’s visit.

            Liked by 1 person

            • I truly do appreciate this Robin, because I know that we all need to share our misgivings and failures as well as our successes. I don’t blog just to put my best self forward, I also want feedback on my mistakes. All of us has issues to deal with. We all have problems in life and we need help with them. It is just that you do it in a way that doesn’t put a cloud over the day. I have to perfect that skill and am working on it!

              She will be here soon and so I am starting to get ready — it is always a whirlwind and then over too fast. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  6. Dear Beth,
    This is a very thought provoking blog and I enjoyed it immensely.
    We have talked about a lot of superficial things in the past, but politics has never been one of them. And to keep our friendship alive and well, I will not offer any of my political feelings on your blog site.
    My father taught me to never discuss politics, religion or sex with friends, telling me that I may loose some of those friends. I have adhered to two of the three things he taught me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Most important to me, Rebecca, is that you feel comfortable here. I never want to do or say anything anywhere to make people feel rejected or unwelcome. I truly want people to be happy and the first step in that process, is being accepted. We often wound others without realizing it. I was raised to be very caring. I got that from my mother primarily, because her whole life has been devoted to helping those with special needs and that was part of my training too. When we see what they are up against, all our petty problems seem trivial by comparison.

      As for politics, my dad said the same thing but we talked about it every night at the dinner table, so I have been very engaged from the beginning. My dad is a Roosevelt family fan and a Republican, so, I will let you figure that one out! 😀

      I don’t talk too much about fashion and makeup because I fear it will come across the wrong way here, but we share those interests. I think we also share intelligence and so I want you to feel free to voice your opinions with me as I would value them.

      Hugs, Rebecca! ❤

      Like

  7. You had me at “beautiful.” One thing I like about your blog is that I learn about what is going on at home. I’ve been out of the country for many years. I have no TV. The only news I get is on the BBC while driving in a car. And that is hit or miss, and certainly not California, nor U.S.A., centric. So Hilary is running? There was another oil spill? Jeesh, I’m so ill-informed.

    I’m not a political person, nor a social activist. But I like that you say what’s on your mind. And I like the philosophy of your blog, and its inherent beauty and intellect. And your “rainbow Camino Real” is pretty cool. Orange, especially.

    Liked by 1 person

    • When I lived abroad, I only got my home news from my busy, career-driven parents and the International Herald Tribune. Oh, and a few sports programs on ABC that were broadcast everywhere, so I relate to that.

      In fact, I would also hear horror stories about the US, as if the place were on fire, from the foreign press. Then I would call home, frantic, and find out no one there had even heard about xyz and it was all exaggerated by the ‘ferners’.

      I promise, I won’t be excessively political here, but, as a former teacher, I do tend to descend into didactics from time to time, so when I do, just remind me not to be preachy.

      Thank you for being here BF! And for the kind words, too. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Your purpose is evident, Beth in what you say and how you say it and present it in pictures. Aspiring to the beautiful inherent in all creation is a most worthy cause and one we would all do well to emulate. Go girl! 🙂 x

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. “Truth, beauty, and goodness”, the contents of your blog, and of course your heart and mind are all three! I don’t always comment because I don’t feel the need to and I don’t often like to comment on most blogs, but please know that my silence is me thinking about the things you have written.
    I’ve enjoyed reading your blog entries and I look forward to all that you have to share with us until the next blog anniversary.

    Like

  11. JM, it is kind of you to say all of this! I am thankful for your friendship here and just realized that somehow I am not getting your blog post notifications in my email box or reader. I see that I have missed a few and I am going to go over to your place and read to catch up.

    Bless you! You are a dear soul. ❤

    Like

  12. I’m not convinced that all things strain toward beauty–I’m more inclined to think they simply are and that we sometimes find beauty in them–but in spite of that I love it that you’re capable of thinking it’s so.

    Damn, I used “that” a bunch of times there. Sorry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I know what you mean but here is my thinking on this (to date and it will require much more analysis and input from everyone, which I welcome).

      Just as their is a natural selection of the fittest, right? For the most part, and given that there are also mutations, the unexpected, and the interjection of random events and chaos, it still holds that survival depends on being the best and most adaptive/flexible, in all things. So, I believe, we naturally select for harmony, order, symmetry, and what we might define as beauty for lack of a better term (unless you have one, which you may!). It seems to be so throughout the known physical world but also throughout our extra-physical history.

      Anyway, it is a theory in progress :-). I use “this” over and over, so I stop noticing repetitions in others, LOL.

      Thank you Ellen!

      Liked by 1 person

      • If we have enough distance, maybe, yes. We do seem to see balance as beauty, and existence does tend to put itself back in balance. Close up, though, it can be a pretty bloody, and bloodthirsty, business, although the universe sails serenely on.

        Like

  13. I am always a fan of your Beautiful Life posts. I don’t think I ever felt you strayed from your purpose. Beauty was in each story and held many truths. I believe in how you redid this to help others to really know your purpose, Beth.
    I like thta you are dedicated to green, in environment and ecology. I believe in the faith you mentioned all things under the sun and creation is full of Beauty and Light. Love, Robin

    Liked by 1 person

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