My gardenias are in bloom and they always lift me up.


Another Favorite YouTube Video from Joe

I watched this video in my science class in 1968. I can honestly say it changed my view of the world. I have never forgotten it. It was a huge influence on my beliefs. Cynthia

I liked to show Cosmic Zoom in my film classes for several reasons. Cosmic Zoom was released by the National Film Board of Canada in 1968. Many of my favorites were produced by NFB and several are on my website. I am especially interested in the work of Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren and some of his work is on my website.

As I look at the film in 2020 I am drawn to several quotes from Albert Einstein that helps me gain some new appreciation for the film.

“Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe.”

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.”

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.”

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

“It is not that I'm so smart. But I stay with the questions much longer.”


Walking a Labyrinth

Land's End Labyrinth and the Golden Gate Bridge

People have been walking labyrinths for over 3500 years. Today people use labyrinths for inspiration. They walk to help with stress, to deal with an illness, to help heal anger, grief and to quiet the internal and external noise of our lives. 

You can find labyrinths in churches, gardens, national forests, schools, hospitals, beaches, prisons and in many private spaces. 

People often confuse a maze and a labyrinth. Mazes have many routes in and out. They have tricks and dead ends. Labyrinths have one way into the center and one way out. Where mazes are more of a game, labyrinths are a spiritual journey. You never lose sight of the center while walking a labyrinth.

My Mother Walking the Outdoor Labyrinth, Grace Cathedral

The first time I walked a labyrinth was with my mother. She had always wanted to visit the two labyrinths at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. My mother was a long time meditator and knew how to consciously walk. 

At first I watched her walk from outside the labyrinth and was so very touched by her focus as she walked the eleven concentric paths while carrying her purse. 

Then I joined her. First we walked the garden labyrinth and then the one embedded in the Cathedral’s floor. I was quietly aware of her calm movements as we passed each other.

Not long after, my mom became quite frail and died. The following year I retired and moved to Mexico. One day walking along Lake Chapala’s malecon in Ajijic, I stopped to watch a man build a labyrinth. It was shaped like a heart and was dedicated to his wife who had recently passed away. In the center was a vase where he regularly places fresh flowers. 

So I now have a lakeside labyrinth to walk where I can find my center and remember my mom. 

There are so many labyrinths in the world today. You can find them in public spaces by visiting the website Labyrinth Locator

I recommend three books about labyrinths. 

Walking the Sacred Path by Dr. Lauren Artress  
Exploring the Labyrinth by Melissa Gayle West 

And if you are interested in building a labyrinth you might want to read... 
Classical Labyrinths: Construction Manual by Robert D. Ferre.

Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down


Trump and Republicans want us to be downhearted so we won't vote. I'm with Keb Mo and Maria Muldaur. Don't Ever Let Nobody Drag Your Spirit Down.

Book Review of Across That Bridge by John Lewis

I have defined myself as a nonviolent person since reading Gandhi in college. That view of who I am has been challenged many times in my life, but never as much as since trump took up residence in the white house.

I struggle daily, asking myself... what am I capable of to protect my family, friends, strangers and the U.S. from fascism. My thoughts and words have often not been very comforting nor nonviolent.

I picked up John Lewis' book Across That Bridge after he died. I knew he was a great congressman from Georgia, had marched with Martin Luther King and had received the medal of honor from President Obama.

I wish I had paid closer attention while he was alive. I did not know the depth of his spirituality, strength and commitment to nonviolence.

Lewis describes  struggle as "the act of making things right," both personally and in society. He goes on to say...

"And it is an expression of the inner dissonance a person experiences within his or her own mind and heart,  a continuing disturbance that will not cease until the circumstances have been corrected."

My copy of Across That Bridge bleeds with yellow highlighter. His chapters are broken down into...


My favorite quote from his chapter on Peace is "Sometimes you have to be willing to turn things upside down to make them right side up."

I needed this book. I needed it now. It inspired me, it challenged me to be better, it encouraged me to study.

What Makes Us Come Alive Theme Song

I decided that What Makes Us Come Alive needed a theme song. This little light of mine is perfect. The purpose of WMUCA is to lift ourselves and our readers up so that all of us can let our light shine.

There are many versions of this song and it is often quoted, Most recently I saw it mentioned in John Lewis' book Across the Bridge. It is my absolute go to song for hard times. Although many singers have recorded it, Sam Cooke's version remains my favorite.

So get up, dance and let your light shine. The world needs it.

Top Ten Reasons to Keep the Faith by S. Timothy Glasscock


10. The nature of change. Things suck pretty bad right now, but things have sucked before—fairly drastically—and they got better. WWII sucked, the Jim Crow era was brutal, segregation, Vietnam, and Watergate—all have come and gone. We will move to better place if for no other reason than “This, too, shall pass.”

9. We are all in the same boat. While not everyone is as upset with the current president as you are, the social unrest he’s created has just about every citizen longing for peaceful times and less stress. Sometimes, the very people who decide a certain ne’er-do-well is in their best interest to employ, decide that he’s outlasted his usefulness and give him the old heave-ho. When they say “Every dog will have his day,” that’s what they mean.

8. The constitution. It has held up through war, social unrest, devious criminals, gerrymandering, Supreme Court shenanigans, assassinations, civil war, and is still standing strong. While numerous political factions have tried to manipulate its precepts, and lawmakers and lawbreakers alike have defied it, the protections, checks, and balances laid out in that precious document have held fast and kept a million awful things from happening. And it still is.

7. The uncertainty principle. (Not the one by Heisenberg) Robert Burns wrote “The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft a-gley.” And what he means (I think) is that those who think they’ve got it all figured out, rarely do. Yeah, it seems like a great party to throw all rules and established procedures for running a government out the window and do things “off the cuff,” until the very crises and dilemmas for which these procedures were created crop up and BAM! Suddenly you’re the laughing stock of the world. No matter how the current kakistocracy tries to spin the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant economic crash, there’s no way to escape their culpability in our downfall. Trump OWNS this mess and everyone knows it.

Read the rest of Tim's list...

Quarantine Unlocked by Bill Sheehan

That Dublin is renowned for both the gift of gab and the Book of Kells is not merely a coincidence. This is a city of stories, a city of writers and poets, wordsmiths and playwrights, a city of intricate flourishes and grand ideas. 

This is also a city of pubs, perhaps because as someone once observed, “no great novel ever began by eating a salad.” Here, it’s all about the conversation. Although some pubs provide entertainment, in many there are no fiddles or pipes, no mournful renditions of “Danny Boy”, nothing to distract from the pressing task of putting the world to rights.

All Things Lavender by Grace Ducet

Ever since I was a child I've had an obsession with all things lavender from the scent to the color and even the taste. I find the name evocative of fields in France with the heady smell permeating the air.

Lavender oil has been used for thousands of years, all the way back to the pharos in Egypt who insisted the oils extracted from the Lavandula angustifolia plant be incorporated into their massages and baths and it was also included in the mixes used during the mummification process. Legend claims that Cleopatra used lavender to seduce Julius Cesar and Mark Antony. During the middle ages it was used widely in Europe to fend off evil spirits and many royals would insist in having bouquets of lavender in their sleeping quarters as protection against harmful energy.

In addition to its amazing fragrance lavender offers many benefits such as improved sleep, moods and memory, pain relief, healing skin damage caused by burns and has also proven effective as an antiseptic and insecticide.

Whether you decide to grow it or procure it in one of its many forms such as essential oil, dried up in sachets, tea, candy and even ice cream I believe you will find that the pungent scent awakens all your senses and makes you come alive.

Ten Tattoos for Older Women

I have decided in celebration of the end of the pandemic (when it arrives and if I survive), I am going to get a tattoo. Here are a few that I think might be interesting...

I love bird tattoos and I think this little group flying over the shoulder would be great.

If you are a musician, this is another tattoo for the shoulder that I like.

This "free" tattoo with the bird is a serious contender, once the pandemic lockdown is over.

I actually saw this online as a print. I meditate every day and thought this might be a good tattoo to remind me to go meditate.

I don't think I would go wrong with a tree of life. 

I like the idea of a tattoo on the side of my hand. Maybe the word free with the flying bird? It sure feels perfect for surviving COVID 19.

I do like this delicate bracelet tattoo. I almost always wear silver bracelets. I wonder if it could be done in silver ink. Wouldn't that be cool?

I also thought about having my zodiac sign as a tattoo. I am an Aquarius so two waves would be perfect. Google your sign and the words "tattoos" and you will get lots and lots of suggestions. 

I like the idea of a finger tattoo. Maybe one with a flower or the word "create."

And then of course there is always the name of a loved one... a child, significant other, someone who has died.

Okay... if this doesn't hurt too much I just might have to get several. 

Ten Things I Will Never Do Again - by Cynthia

As we age we often think of the things we still want to do... what we want on our "bucket lists." I think one of the benefits of aging is knowing what you never want to do again.

Why I Love YouTube by Joseph Ward

Joe Ward is our latest contributor. He is a retired high school teacher and librarian. He taught film as part of his Literature class along with Government and Behavioral Science. He also is a serial entrepreneur. He successfully developed and sold two software companies. He says...

"Johnny Appleseed is a favorite video because I remember being told the story as a young child and seeing the Disney cartoon in the movie theaters in the 1950’s. The tune is catchy and stayed with me all these years. I like the story because it is about a simple man following his passion of planting seeds to help the world. Years later I chose to become a teacher and the planting seeds symbology fit into my decision to teach. I’ve had several jobs but the personal satisfaction of teaching was one of the most important things in my life. In a similar fashion, my web page Why I Like YouTube is another example of me planting seeds in the hope of making things better."

Three Songs To Get You Up and Dancing Around Your House

Here are 3 songs that get me dancing every time. The total times for the 3 is ten minutes. They will absolutely lift your mood right up.

Independence Day by S. Timothy Glasscock

So it’s Independence Day! What are you going to declare your independence from?

The original 13 colonies were tired of a government in England that taxed them and controlled them from afar and have them no input into their own destinies. I’m betting that’s not dissimilar from what you feel at times?

Aren’t there things that are taxing your strength and controlling your thoughts that you could do without?

Here are a few things I’m declaring my independence from... Click to Read More

2020 Summer Fiction Reading List

It's that time of year again. Time for my Summer Fiction Reading List. And boy are there some great novels recently released. 

Remove Those Old Apple E-Mail Pop-Up Addresses

Do you have outdated email addresses that keep popping up when sending an email using Apple mail? Click here to see how to quickly get rid of them...

June's Top Ten Tips From Cynthia's Favorite Magazines

For years, each month I used to do a Top Ten Favorite Things From My Favorite Magazines on my blog. I haven't done it in quite awhile and decided to start again on What Makes Us Come Alive. There are some serious things, but mostly just fun things that caught my eye.

Mindfulness and the Art of Stone Balancing

A number of years ago a friend and I sat on the beach watching a man quietly and patiently balancing rocks on top of each other. It was mesmerizing. This is a craft that definitely has a Zen quality to it. 

Rock balancing uses no adhesives, wires, rings or other supports to help maintain the rocks' balance. Many rock balancing artists consider their craft a practice of awareness and mindfulness. Although there are some who feel that rock balancing wreaks havoc in national parks, this is certainly a mindful practice that can be done in private spaces.