5 Skills Everybody Should Have

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I love positive messages like these and little reminders to improve my life and how I can help improve the lives of all those around me (or miles away, for that matter).

While it can be absolutely wonderful to hold company with others, some of the best moments in your life will be those when you’re enjoying the company of none other than yourself and loving it!

Giving a compliment and having it brushed off is never a pleasant feeling… you want to make that person’s day a little brighter or just let them know they’ve got killer style, smile, personality, etc.

Number three on this list almost makes me chuckle. Ever try and try to keep a conversation going, but find that you’re the only one asking questions and showing interest? Yeah… Definitely something that can be learned, though!

Asking for feedback (or help of any kind) can make a world of difference. Never be too proud to help yourself by asking for help. People love helping others, so give them the chance to help you out every once in a while!

Ever notice that when others use your name in conversation, it makes you feel nice and like you’re truly their main focus? I think I’ve even read about a study that showed that people like hearing their own name.

What do you think of these skills? What skill(s) would you add to the list?

(Original image from: Real Simple, November 2013)

In the middle

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The other day, I took a walk in the woods. In the middle of the walk, in the middle of the forest, as it happened, there was an unexpected, beautiful little spot. It’s a reservoir surrounded by trees, a pathway with benches, and in the water there is a floating island of trees and bushes. There’s also a cute small house on the corner. Plus, it’s like duck heaven! The following day I discovered that this had a lot to do with the many families that like to go there to feed the ducks. Let’s just say… if I was a duck, I’d choose this place and stick to it!

Anyway! I’ve been meaning to get back into blogging regularly after my long hiatus of here-and-there posts, but I was having trouble, so I figured I’d start small and easy with a post like this. I’ve completely finished university now! Feels wonderful to be able to say that after all that time and effort! I’m transitioning between full-time student to (hopefully, soon) full-time job. Right in the middle, it seems. So… that’s me! What’s happening in your neck of the woods?

You can find beauty in the smallest of places

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Take a snail, a lot of patience, a macro lens, the artistic eye of Vyacheslav Mishchenko and you’ve got these incredible photographs. I was in awe of these photos when I first saw the “Magical World Of Snails” on Demilked (and still am!), so I had to share the magic with all of you. It’s hard not to anthropomorphize these images and wonder what’s going on in that little animal’s head. Vyacheslav has shown us that there truly is beauty everywhere, if you just take the time to look.
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Vyacheslav doesn’t limit his photographs to just snails. Along with this ant featured below, he takes amazing photos of a variety of other small plants and animals.
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Reproduction, copying, or redistribution is strictly prohibited without the express written permission of the author.

(To see more of Vyacheslav Mishchenko’s photographs, please visit his Facebook page)

Massive victory for whales & the world!

Humpback Whale Documentation (Kingdom of Tonga: 2003-2006)
When you share petition after petition after petition for years, you hope to one day hear the wonderful news that the change you’ve been waiting and wishing for has finally arrived. Well, today was that marvelous day! I woke up to this lovely news on my Facebook newsfeed this morning and have seen it everywhere online all day. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that Japan’s “scientific” whaling is illegal and must end! It was finally determined that Japan’s whale hunt doesn’t meet the scientific whaling regulations, something that has been known by many for years. To find out more details, you can go to the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW)’s website here.

This is the best environmental/animal welfare news I’ve ever heard! I hope it comes to an end immediately and stays permanent…and that other whaling countries get the same ruling asap! This news was too amazing not to share with all of you… what great news!

(Original image via Greenpeace email)

I need you!

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Hi everyone! Can you please take just a few moments out of your day to take my dissertation survey? I would be so grateful if you were able to share it and ask all your friends and family to do it, too! I need a variety of participants from all around the world with various interests. Any help would be very appreciated :) 

I’m trying to get results to understand the public’s view on illegal wildlife trafficking and the more participants I have, the better! Doesn’t matter if they’ve ever heard of it, care about it, etc. It’s only 18 questions and should take just 2-3 minutes to complete. I plan on having it up for about a week before I close it down to analyze the data.

Thank you so much to everyone who takes it and shares it! You’re wonderful!

Click the cheesy picture of me above or this link here: http://bit.ly/QkYect

Hope for Orangutans: Kellogg’s committing to sustainable palm oil

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Over three years ago, I wrote about two Girl Scouts challenging Kellogg’s to drop palm oil from their Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies in order to protect endangered animals such as the orangutans and tigers, rainforests and tribes in Borneo and Sumatra. It may have seemed like a long time coming, but we finally have a victory!

Yesterday, I had a nice Valentine’s Day surprise when I saw an announcement that Kellogg announced a global commitment to fully traceable sourcing of palm oil with the requirement for suppliers to have palm oil “produced in a manner that’s environmentally responsible, socially beneficial, and economically viable. To do so, Kellogg is working through its supply chain — from suppliers to processors to growers — to ensure that palm oil it uses is sourced from plantations that uphold the company’s commitment to protect forests and peat lands, as well as human and community rights” by the end of 2015, the statement reads.

Palm oil is extremely destructive to the environment, various species and the people whose homes are destroyed in order to produce palm oil plantations. A commitment like this by a huge corporation will go a long way and will hopefully lead to many others following in their footsteps.

(Image found on Care2.com)

Have you seen Blackfish, the movie that’s making waves?

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I hope this movie makes history. Right now, it’s looking like it’s on its way to doing just that.

I haven’t posted in a while, but I recently watched Blackfish and remembered why I started Four Leaf Clover in the first place. This documentary shows a little background history as to how killer whales got mixed up in the entertainment industry and focuses on one orca in particular: Tilikum.

Tilikum, at the time of writing this post, is 32 years old and has been captive for 30 of those years. In 2010, Tilikum killed one of his trainers at SeaWorld. There is no evidence that orcas are dangerous to humans or have ever harmed humans… in the wild.

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Have you ever been to SeaWorld and watched the killer whales jump in the air? Or seen any orcas in captivity for that matter? If you’re anything like my former self, you probably have and you probably went because you love animals and love seeing them. If you’d still go because of that reason, please watch this film.

For years now, it’s pained me to see these magnificent, intelligent animals living in these small swimming pools and performing tricks with the reward of dead fish for food. Blackfish expands on this even more along with information I had no idea about killer whales. It’s hard to see this movie as biased since it presents facts. The filmmaker even went to SeaWorld before filming this and started this documentary more out of curiosity and research than to send out an animal welfare message.

If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll have picked up that I’m against keeping animals in captivity, but there’s just something about marine amusement parks in particular that feels cruel and completely wrong. I hope this film leads to the shut down of all marine animal performing parks. Have you watched/heard of Blackfish? What do you think? How do you feel about keeping killer whales, dolphins, etc. in captivity?

(Original images from the Blackfish Official Film Site)

A birthday spent on a flower island

mainauFor my birthday this year, I went to the beautiful island of Mainau in Konstanz, Germany. The island once belonged to royalty and now is home to a multitude of gorgeous flowers and trees. We’d heard of this island when we first moved here to Switzerland and have been wanting to go ever since. I’m so pleased that we were finally able to go! It was one of the most exquisite places I’ve ever been to and every corner had something intricate and unique.
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Photos of me are thanks to my mother and father :)
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Mainau had a huge butterfly house full of different kinds of butterflies. There really were butterflies everywhere and they almost seemed tamed, as if posing for the camera.
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The above two images are of the same butterfly! I was shocked when it opened it’s wings and there was a gorgeous blue inside. To this day, I wonder what all the others looked like inside.
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There was a bee crawling along on the ground near me so I picked it up and carried him/her over to a flower where it could rest out of walking feet’s way!
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The castle which still gives the island a royal air.
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I wish I knew what this was for, but each ribbon had writing on it in German.
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Mainau was the perfect place to spend my birthday and I look forward to going back soon!

Steps you can take to love yourself

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The more spiritual words I read, the more I realize that the majority of our “problems” come down to how well we love ourselves. The other day, I saw this list on That Kind Of Woman and it reminded me of the list I had posted a while back called “Here is your assignment…” which resonated with many of you. After looking for this list online, I found this article by the author of the list (including forgive yourself and have fun which are not included), Louise L. Hay. I wanted to share this fantastic list with you in hopes that it would open your eyes and nudge you to love yourself that bit more. When you love yourself fully, you’re able to love others that much more as well. What do you think? How are you in the self-love area? Which of these do you need to work on the most? Which is your favorite? What are tips of your own?

(Original image from A Portrait of the English Major as a Young Woman)

Losing Nemo: what’s happening to our oceans

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This short film from The Black Fish organization highlights the shocking truth about what is happening to our oceans right this minute. Greenderella posted this video and I had to pass it on. Last year I went to the Philippines and snorkeled for the first time. I will forever remember it as the summer I fell in love with the ocean. It’s like a whole other world… and we’re completely destroying it.

Protecting our oceans is more than just keeping marine ecosystems healthy and alive, it’s about helping ourselves as well. I wrote an article a couple years ago where I mentioned that 70% of the world’s oxygen comes from the ocean.

There are many things one can do to avoid supporting treacherous types of fishing. I, myself, am a vegan, sign petitions/write letters, and do my best to spread the news about what’s going on. You can do this, too! Check out the video to see the figures and find out what you can do to help.

(Original image from The Blackfish webpage)