The (Un) Caged Bird

"Let the beauty we love be what we do." – Rumi


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Book Review: Amazing Adventures of a Nobody

Photo of Book Cover

amazing adventures of a nobody: a life-changing journey across America relying on the kindness of strangers

by leon logothetis

I discovered that this book existed a month or two ago when I read about it on the author’s twitter profile.  I immediately had to request it from the library and began to read the book in all of my free moments.  My review is going to be a bit of talking about the story and my personal experience in reading the book.  First, I had a few commonalities with the author and I discovered this in the introduction.  We both spent days in childhood on Greek islands (not the same one), we both work (past tense for him, worked)  in our family business, and have both been on personal journeys to find more fulfillment in life and a sense of purpose.  (His a literal journey, mine an internal journey.) These commonalities made me instantly feel a kinship with the author and made the story hit closer to home.   I commend Leon for having the courage to make this journey.

The title is pretty self-explanatory but I’ll expand.  This book is a series of tales and adventures that take us through Leon’s journey from New York City to the Los Angeles sign equipped with nothing but a five dollar a day allowance.  He didn’t have a cellphone, a car, or a credit card.  The journey forced him to connect with people and rely on the kindness and generosity of “strangers.”  This is a book about human connection and how the journey to find oneself  really and ultimately ends in the discovery that who we are is intrinsically connected to everyone else.   This book brings to light some issues that I think are very prominent in American society and tells them in a very organic and unintentional way which is the beauty of this book.  There wasn’t a political agenda or personal agenda to seek out certain people.  He was at the mercy of whoever came his way for help and for conversation.

One of my favorite passages that sets an example of the fast paced disconnection of our society happened in a conversation Logo had with Gene Adams, “And all along the way, we have connected less and less; talked less and less. Now, we don’t talk at all. We don’t see the point. Now, the journeys are just about speed – getting someplace as fast as possible.  Efficiency is the enemy of connection.”  Gene was referring to the evolution of transportation and travel.  In days past, people conversed during travel and they had more time to get to know one another. The majority of people I know nowadays are grateful when they sit next to someone on the bus or plane and their fellow passenger doesn’t talk to him. This conversation was a refreshing reminder that things have not always been this way.

The book is filled with tales of adventures and colorful characters. I’m not going to tell you about those because I want you to read for yourself but there are some very interesting encounters.  There are also plenty of highlights of acts of kindness and complete strangers placing their trust and at times homes in the hands of Leon.  He is helped by all ages and races.  He is helped by humanity as a whole, not fragmented into racial or socioeconomic sectors.  In our society I think things like race and socioeconomic class are major factors into dividing us as a people.  There are perceptions that those who have more are more worthy or better than those who have less.  I loved how his journey helped show a story of a humanity that highlighted the similarities instead of the differences.  I’ve included some of my favorite passages and excerpts from the book to give you an idea of what the story is about in a nutshell.

p. 132  “Finding human connection in small ways is the only way to solve the bigger problems.  I used to feel each man was an island. How wrong I was. We are not.  In fact we are tethered to each oher with invisible bonds that no man or circumstance can break.  Our ability to function successfully in the world depends on our ability to connect with each other.  We are one.”

p. 230 “There was nothing I could not do, nothing we could not do if we learned to trust each other, nothing we could not change if we learned to ask each other for the strength we did not have alone, nothing that we need fear if we have each other.”

It gets better..

p. 231 “We’ve defined greatness as wealth, fame, power, influence.  But true greatness is simply goodness. There is nothing more powerful, nothing more truly great, than helping a human being in a time of need.  In our small acts we become great to one another. Each of us has the intrinsic potential to be immense.

Those excerpts are just a few gems from this book.  There’s a fantastic paragraph at the end of the book that I so desperately want to share with you but I think it best if you all just pick it up and read it for yourselves.   I laughed and I cried and was ever so grateful that Leon made this journey and wrote this book and that it enabled me to vicariously experience the journey.  After reading the book I was reminded that it’s not the literal destination or the road that’s traveled but the steps along the way that are what shape the journey.  I highly encourage you to read this book and if you do I’d love for you to post your thoughts and experiences in doing so in a comment below.

Enjoy!  Let us walk the path that makes us happy where we’re guided by inspiration and see what wonders we may see and the people we may meet along the way.  We must also remember that there are many definitions of ambition as well and that being kind and good is a worthwhile ambition.


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POETRY/PROSE : The Meaning of Life

What life means to me.  Enjoy.

Life is about learning
learning to live versus living to die
finding what makes you happy
following your heart
and developing your talents
and always, always taking a stand for what you believe in
even if everyones opposed
because if you dont
who will you be when your alone in the dark?

– Written by Me, 2007.


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Lovely Links: Weekly Round Up – Goodness, Inspiration, and Innovation

Quote of the week:

“Oh curious one, do not worry about what may come. You are here to live, to love and to learn every step of the way. You are constantly learning, discovering and becoming anew every moment. You have the full support of your Creator and when you know this all obstacles will fall away and you will join happily the dance of Life! Each moment is precious, no matter what it may contain, savor its flavor and then let it go!” 

– Jackson Kiddard, author & polymath. ( This was in one of The Daily Love e-mails I received.  Still haven’t signed up? Do it! It’s daily nourishment for the spirit.)

The Dutch are serious innovative designers.  I would love to move back there one day.  Just one tiny genius example,  This Heineken WOBO: 2 in 1 brick and beer bottle shows the potential for function and form, reusing and repurposing.

I’m against toxic cosmetics to begin with but the fact  they are often tested on animals is worse.  This graphic performance art demonstration by Lush really drives the point home of animal cruelty in cosmetics testing. I think people need to see things sometimes in a light that allows them to relate by feeling a sense of sameness. Lush Fights Animal Cruelty with Public Human Torture Art Performance.

Just when I was at the point of despair that the world really will be reduced to its state in Wall – E,  I read this awesome story.  Now, I have a desire to stay at the Waldorf-Astoria because of their support of bees. Roof of Waldorf-Astoria is home to bees!

Social media makes me incredibly nervous.  I admit that I just don’t want or need hundreds to thousands of people knowing what I do every day, how I do it, and who I do it with.  I’ve been a serious social media oversharer, undersharer, and am trying to now become a quality content sharer.  Nice points in this article. Selective Truth and Social Media.  Some simple guidelines to help you become a better social media information sharer. –

Confidence lies in you!  You do not need outside validation all the love and support you need has to come from within.

Learning to be yourself.  We all feel tempted at times to be something we’re not just to have people like us.  We’re all different and it’s okay.

Duolingo.  Learn a language for free while helping to translate the web. (Limited to three languages right now.)

Why creative geniuses hated school.

Indiana by the numbers. I live in Indiana and the state of our environmental health is extremely poor, so is the state of our people for that matter.  This article simply and concisely conveys a summary of Indiana’s state of being.

Bodies we want, naked Olympians .  That pretty much says it all. 🙂

34 places to swim in the world’s clearest water .  Adding all of these places to my bucket list.  In the meantime, if you can’t go (which I can’t)  these images are lovely places to take a mental vacation to.

I’m too emotional.  I have heard this SO many times.  Which has led me to berate myself endlessly for being “too sensitive”, “too emotional” and “too expressive”.  If you are just “too much” (supposedly), please read this!  We are perfect as we are, let’s embrace it and stop suppressing ourselves and offending our souls.

9 Natural Phenomenon you couldn’t see 100 years ago .  I alternately title this article, 9 reasons that I am grateful to be living now versus 100 years ago so that I can see all of these beautiful and wonderful things.  Nice positive points to living in the now.  Always good to count the blessings and look for the positive.

5 super efficient tiny new york apartments.  Because it’s not always the size that counts but what you do with it! 🙂 Efficiency makes me happy, I can’t help it.  Efficiency generally means simplicity and organization, two things I absolutely adore.

NY’s first self powered building.  More reasons for me to find hope for the future!  This is just incredibly awesome to me, I can’t wait to see the future with steps like this being made.  Living earth friendly and people friendly can and will go hand in hand.

21  Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity.  I wish the news consistently covered the good instead of focusing on the awful. Maybe the news does air good stories these days?  I have no idea.  I don’t watch television and haven’t for ages.  Luckily, the net has some great stories of goodness.  This series of images will give you a nice dose of feel good imagery.


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Exercise? Get rewarded with Earndit


We know that getting healthy can generate some awesome non material rewards like better health, happier state of mind, longevity, stress reduction, better sleep, and less overall health problems.  However, it’s still nice to receive some outside rewards as well to keep you motivated and give you incentive to keep working harder at your fitness goals.  The long term rewards of looking and feeling great are fabulous, but sometimes you just want to see results now!

Introducing Earndit, a fantastic new FREE website that rewards you for exercising.  By syncing with popular fitness tracking apps, websites,  and devices like Nike+, Fitbit, Foursquare, MapMyFitness, EveryTrail, GarminFitness, and BodyMedia Fit you earn points that reward you for your fitness activities.

Earndit is based on hyperbolic discounting, meaning that humans tend to prefer a more immediate reward instead of one that occurs in the distant future. Exercise and you earn points which you can redeem for cool stuff. It’s that simple.  As long as you move your body it’s easy to rack up points.  Today for example I walked 2 miles and ran 1 mile, activities that I would have done anyway.  I earned 36 points as a reward.  Points can be redeemed starting at the 100 point mark for cool items such as healthy foods, clothing gift certificates, beauty products, or fitness gear.   Earning stuff not your style?  Not to worry, Earndit has you covered there too.  You can also use your points to give to charity.

There’s also challenges you can participate in to win even more free stuff and a social aspect allowing you to follow other people and they can follow you.  It’s one big happy instant reward communicate for physical fitness.  Visit the Earndit FAQ questions page to learn how many points you can earn per activity, there is a 60 point maximum that you can earn per day.

Now you can have your fitness and uh eat it too, or wear it.  The choice is up to you!



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Floating Through the Clouds

Up in the air, I’m not sure where!

I’ve been traveling by plane since I was a week old so the experience has become pretty familiar.  I’d gone from being in awe of it to being annoyed and focusing on only the things I despised (yes, despised).  I had begun to seriously dislike flying because of this lame perspective I’d chosen to adopt. On my last trip to Europe I decided my attitude needed to change.

So, I changed my perspective and made the notes below.

I love clouds.

I love floating through clouds.

I love being surrounded by clouds.

I sat and pondered about the nature of clouds..

What makes them collect, congregate, and gather as they do?  Why do they appear white? Where does the stuff come from they are made from? How is it determined which elevation they’ll hang out on?  HowStuffWorks wrote an excellent article on “How Clouds Work” answering most of these questions. 

One of the Greek isles at sunrise.

I then drew some conclusions on my pondering..

Being able to soar through the clouds is a gift. Can you imagine how many of our ancestors must have longed to do this?  We take for granted what many, many, many generations could only dream of doing.  When you look at things from that perspective being in a plane is kind of like being a part of magic.

If you love clouds too click on some of the great links below.
10 Rare Cloud Formations

Weird, Rare Clouds and How They Form

Make Your Own Cloud in a Bottle

A cloud song! – Clouds Are Cool – by Christopher Strand

Nebula’s Cool Clouds

Over 16,000 Cool Cloud Images in this Flickr Group!

The next time you’re getting ready to fly somewhere try and think of what a privilege it is and of all the cool sights you’ll be able to see from the perspective of being up in air!  It helps to have something to look forward to besides *insert standard complaints about air travel here*.


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How I Quit Smoking, Cold Turkey

My tribute to cigarettes and their role in my life.

I’ve made it three months now without a cigarette using completely natural methods  without using prescription or over the counter drugs.  I had been a smoker for more then ten years. I had my first cigarette when I was in eighth grade and became a regular smoker by the time I was sixteen.  I used cigarettes as a coping mechanism to help comfort me and they became like a teddy bear.  Whenever I was upset, I knew I could just sneak away for a few moments with a cigarette and everything would temporarily be okay again.  I hated myself for smoking because it goes against everything that I stand for, yet for a long time I still continued to do it anyway.  As I aged, I became more dependent on them emotionally and socially.  I have suffered from symptoms of anxiety and depression and have had some very difficult life events to get through to get where I am now.  Cigarettes gave me pleasure and made me feel happy for a moment, and gave me the comfort that I needed to get through these difficult times.  They temporarily relieved anxiety and I could always find a group of people to join and feel a temporary sense of belonging by sharing a cigarette with them.  I’ve tried quitting many times over the years, this is not my first try.  This is probably my sixth, seventh, or eighth attempt.

I am proud to say I have now gone for three months without a cigarette.  From day one I have not had one single little puff, I gave them up completely and vowed to never turn back.  I think the mental aspect is the most important when quitting smoking.  You have to actually want to quit smoking, not feel like you have to, or do it for anyone other than yourself.  I read somewhere that the level of self-esteem you have is directly correlated to the commitments that you keep to yourself.  (If I knew where I read it, I’d cite it, but I haven’t a clue).  When I read that something clicked inside of me. I knew that my growth and development as a person and my well-being outside of my physical health relied on me giving up smoking.  I despised and hated myself for being a smoker yet I felt completely dependent on them. There was a part of me that loved the ritual of smoking, but I think it was more the comfort from having done it for so long rather than the act of smoking itself.

The first two weeks of quitting smoking were far from fun and sent me on an emotional roller coaster. I did not take pharmaceutical drugs or any herbal supplements besides a multi vitamin.  Why? Because I believe it’s essential to change the behavioral and emotional patterns that cause the addictive behavior.  I believe in empowering oneself by doing the work to resolve the root of the issue, not popping a pill to mask the symptoms.  Taking the easy road only cheats yourself out of the positive benefits gained by doing the work.  In one of my prior quitting attempts I tried nicotine gum and I think it handicapped me and was part of why I relapsed.  I had the gum to continue putting nicotine in my body and that still provided the calming feeling of smoking, thus I wasn’t forced to find a healthy coping mechanism to replace smoking.  I firmly believe my success in remaining a non smoker lies in the way that I went about quitting this last time and my own mental attitude and willingness to not smoke a cigarette no matter what.  No excuses, no cigarettes period. Smoking a cigarette was not an available choice I gave myself.

Tips to quit smoking, cold turkey:

1.  First, make a commitment to yourself that quitting is a legitimate goal and put it at the top of your priority list.

If you don’t make it one of your top priorities, you’re not going to quit.  I had some rough days the first week after I gave up cigarettes, day five was the worst of all.  Giving up smoking was like losing a great friend and I went through all of the stages of grief associated with loss.  You’ll want to make excuses for yourself and allow yourself just one cigarette to make the symptoms of withdrawal go away. Don’t do it.  It’s all an illusion.  The only way to truly quit is by going through the process.  You can’t reach the end without being on the journey to get there.  You can’t let anything sway you from your goal of quitting.

2.  Second, set a date that you are going to quit and stick to it.  I highly recommend starting right before your weekend.   

I had my last cigarette on a Friday and allowed myself the next two days to relax and take it easy.  I avoided social situations and people where smoking occurred.  This is extremely helpful the first few weeks while you detox from smoking and build up some strength and faith in yourself.  Don’t fall for the one last cigarette trap.  We both know it won’t be the last.  You probably will not want to quit on your planned quit date, and you’ll probably come up with many excuses as to why you can’t.  You can.  Do it.

3.  Call yourself a non smoker as soon as you have that last cigarette. 

I believe that the quitting process is mostly psychological.  By calling yourself a non smoker you are affirming what you want in your life and not reminding yourself that you used to be a smoker.  Saying you are quitting smoking will only make you think about the fact that you won’t be having a cigarette ever again (if that’s your goal).

4.  Reduce or eliminate caffeine and alcohol from your diet.

 Quitting smoking will make you feel jittery as it is, don’t add a lot of caffeine to the mix.  It will only make it worse.  I had a cup of coffee in the mornings and that was it all day.  I rarely drink as it is (in the present), since I quit smoking I’ve maybe had one glass of wine.  As I write this I haven’t had a drop of alcohol in over a month and a half.  When I did drink in the past, I always wanted a cigarette to go with it.  I think most smokers have a strong coffee and alcohol to cigarette connection.  It’s best in the beginning to just avoid those things that you used to always have a cigarette with, if you can.

5.  Make sure you’re taking B vitamin supplements. 

Whether you take a multi-vitamin or a separate B Vitamin supplement take something to give your body additional nutritional support to help with stress management and the mood swings that quitting smoking can create.  Ehow has a nice article on B Vitamins and quitting smoking.

6.  Drink lots of water.

Yes, you will probably be going to the bathroom a lot but this is necessary to help your body flush the toxins as it begins to get rid of the yucky smoking crud you’ve built up in your body.  Also, I found it beneficial to drink water until I was completely full of it whenever I had a serious cigarette craving.  When I drove I also sipped on a water bottle.  I replaced the oral fixation of smoking a cigarette with drinking water.

7.  Don’t try to cut calories because you’re worried about gaining weight from quitting.

You’re going to be stressed out as it is learning how to live without smoking if you’ve been a long term smoker.  Attempting to diet on top of that is a bad plan.  Instead, allow yourself healthy snacks to combat the cravings.  Eat carrot sticks, celery, apple slices, large bowls of fresh salads with plenty of veggies.  I bought some suckers from Trader Joe’s to suck on when I had a craving and the sugar triggers a calming and pleasurable response in the body which helped as well. You may put on some weight, so what.  Make your second goal the goal of losing the weight you gained quitting smoking.

8.  Take time for physical exercise at least three times a week. 

Go for walks, join a yoga class, swim, bicycle.  Do something to move your body and sweat.  The more you sweat the better off you’ll be.  Sweating allows the toxins to be excreted from your body faster which will lessen your withdrawal symptoms and shorten the withdrawal process.  Also, exercising releases endorphin’s that make you feel happy which will also help counteract the mood swings and negative side effects of quitting.  Certain types of exercise are also excellent at releasing aggression, irritation, and anger too.

9.  Be patient with yourself, forgive yourself, and show yourself love and compassion. 

During the first two weeks of quitting I was so angry at myself for ever having started smoking in the first place.  I was yelling at myself internally for starting smoking and putting me in the position of having to feel all the uncomfortable emotions I was feeling from quitting smoking.  This is pretty counterproductive and will only begin a downward spiral.  You can’t change what you already chose to do, so acknowledge the excellent choices you’re making in the present and give yourself some love for making that awesome decision to begin living a healthier life and eliminating a deadly habit.

10.  Find a supportive friend to be there for you when you think you’re losing your mind

I was lucky to have the support of a very loving and kind individual who patiently listened while I vented during my quitting process.  Everything and everyone was incredibly annoying to me while I was quitting smoking.  When I felt discouraged or was struggling I was able to receive support and encouragement.  They were my lifeline to make me feel like I was anchored to solid ground while I found my own way and the strength within myself to get through each day without smoking.  The mood swings can make you think that you have seriously gone insane.  It’s helpful to have someone remind you that you’re just experiencing withdrawal symptoms from quitting smoking and that your sanity will be restored when your body is in balance again.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong.  What worked for me may or may not work for you.  You’ll find your own way, but take that initial step and leap of faith to quit.  I know you can do it!


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Happiness lies beyond the illusions

Photo Credit – FlickrCC – baejaar

The author Billy Mills wrote about the eight lies of Iktumi in his book, Wokini.  Iktumi, in the Lakota tradition is figure who is a liar or trickster.  The eight lies of Iktumi  prevent happiness and can even ruin a person’s life.  I’m sure we’ve all fallen victim to these invitations to self-deception.  We cannot change the past, but we can change how we look at the present.

1. If only I were rich, then I would be happy.

2. If only I were famous, then I would be happy.

3. If only I could find the right person to marry, then I would be happy.

4. If only I had more friends, then I would be happy.

5. If only I were more attractive, then I would be happy.

6. If only I weren’t physically handicapped in any way, then I would be happy.

7. If only someone close to me hadn’t died, then I could be happy.

8. If only the world were a better place, then I would be happy.

Photo Credit: FlickrCC – donireewalker

How could you change your thoughts so that you are not falling victim to the illusion? It’s very easy to find things to be angry and frustrated about.   There are days when I feel like I hear and see 2% positive and inspiring conversation, and 98% complaining and negative conversation.  One look at your social media stream and it’s probably full of complaining and snarky comments.  It’s no wonder with this type of attitude prevalent in our society that we also have the largest rate of anti-depressant use in the world and that the majority of the people I know use alcohol or other stimulants to “have a good time”.  Our society is focused on the shallow and material, and largely condemns that which has substance.  (We are a capitalistic, so this is not a shocker.)  I personally have lived many, many dark years where I went day to day angry, resentful, depressed, and in a lot of emotional pain because I believed in the illusions that were being sold to me by everyone around me.  I thought that happiness was a place I’d arrive to one day when I’d healed from the scars of my life, found someone to share it with, and/or had reached a point where I didn’t have to be so budget conscious that I stressed over every dollar spent.  I finally hit a point where I was just plain tired of it all and realized that happiness is a choice.  We can choose to be stressed out over the events of our lives or the lack that we see, or we can choose to be happy about all of the wonderful positive things that we have.  It can be a very hard battle and it requires a daily commitment and there are days when you’ll fail, but you have to get back up and keep trying. I’m not saying that you stop trying and cast all ambition aside, but instead to not let whatever it is you desire be the only path to happiness.