So today is National American Eagle Day or National Bald Eagle Day. This is the day that various organizations set aside to help raise awareness about our national symbol–the Bald Eagle.
The history behind the bald eagle being chosen for the national symbol is slightly humorous. In case you haven’t heard some of the history, here is a very condensed version:
Since most countries adopt an animal for their national symbol, the Continental Congress wanted to do so as well, but the first national seal was actually Lady Liberty holding a shield. Since that wasn’t what they wanted, they made inquires with others for thoughts and the first ‘choice/suggestion/selection’ was actually the golden eagle.
Again, the Continental Congress wasn’t happy with the suggestion–mainly because the golden eagle could also be found in Europe and therefore it wouldn’t do. They then looked to ‘native birds’ and decided on the bald eagle (though the turkey was also suggested as it was also ‘native’).
The bald eagle was ‘fierce-looking’ and the fledgling country thought it was a better representation of the country to the world–therefore it was selected. Even after the war was over, there was discussion on whether to keep the bald eagle as the emblem or think of a new one–Benjamin Franklin kept rooting for the turkey.
This story does raises a fairly good historical question–if we had managed to breakaway from England without war, what animal would have been chosen as the national symbol–would it still have been the eagle, or maybe the turkey, or maybe something else?
So that is the brief history behind how the bald eagle became our national bird and symbol.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t had really ‘clear skies’ over the past three hundred years.
By the 1950s both the bald eagle and the golden eagle were at risk of becoming extinct. This was due to a combination of over hunting (young bald eagles happen to look a lot like golden eagles, so they were often killed ‘by mistake’–hunters thought they were bagging young golden eagles), pesticide use (DTT poisoned fish led to eagles laying eggs with very thin shells, which ended up at times getting crushed from the parents sitting on them), and habitat loss.
Once DTT was banned, and the eagles placed on the endangered species list their populations started to make a recovery. In case of the bald eagle, they were downgraded from endangered to threatened in 1995, and then in 2007 they were removed entirely from both the endangered species and the threatened species lists as their populations had recovered enough. They’re usually under state protection these days.
Though in recent years, there had been a die off of bald eagles in the southeastern portion of the US, but that has finally been traced to a toxic algae bloom in the waters (something scientists are now keeping an eye on).
I enjoy catching site of the bald eagle as it soars over Boomer Lake throughout the year, and I also enjoyed watching the bald eagles up at Lake Vermilion in northern Minnesota sit on top of the Norway pines as they watched the waters waiting for their next meal to come closer to the surface.
So this is an semi-extension of a post I did on LinkedIn earlier in the week. The reason why it is ‘semi’, I’m only including three out of the six books I had in that post.
I quit my job at the end of 2019 because I was burnt out on the whole academia route, and I had no energy to try to figure out my transition away from academia at the time. I would love to say that I spent all of 2020 self-reflecting, taking different courses, networking, and figuring things out–but I only did a little of that. I did do some self-reflection, I bought numerous e-courses, but I didn’t network that much and I still haven’t totally figured things out (though I’m getting closer).
It wasn’t until early this year (2021), when I read “Burnout: the secret to unlocking the stress cycle” by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski in addition to having a zoom call with a coach, that I’d realized while I had made some progress–I still have quite a ways to go.
Burnout talks about what burnout is, what causes it, and the best ways of dealing with it, not to mention how to try to ‘head it off’ to begin with. Without going into super detail, I will mention a few passages that stood out to me as I read the book.
There were three passages that really stood out to me and they were:
“We are built to oscillate between work and rest. When we allow for this oscillation, the quality of our work imporves along with our health.”
“The idea that you can use “grit” or “self-control” to stay focused and productive every minute of every day is not merely incorrect, it is gaslighting and it is potentially damaging your brain.”
“Wellness is not a state of being, but a state of action.”
The first two passages were stark reminders of why I left academia–I couldn’t handle the hours (even though as a staff scientist I was on a ‘normal work week’), and the idea that I had to be busy basically the entire eight hours of every day.
The final passage was just something I realized I needed to strive at–keeping in mind that any type of change takes time and it shouldn’t be seen as an end goal but a process.
I’ve come to ‘terms’ with the fact that I’m still semi-burnt out. I can now describe the feeling as being at teh bottom of a very deep hole/well/pit with very little illumination. Once I managed to find a lantern (or a torch), I was able to see my ‘pit’ with new eyes.
There is a staircase that meanders up the inside wall of the pit–I know that this is the way out, and that it won’t be a fast climb. I also notice that there are ‘slides’, some are short (seeming to connect different levels), but there is a long one that seems to come from the top–the one I hadn’t realized I was on, until it dumped me at the bottom. Also it seems to be connected to the othesr–possibly as a stark warning that lingering too long in certain areas can also lead to ‘burnout’.
The stairs and slides are a stark reminder that there will be no easy path for ‘recovering’ from burnout, and it brings to mind a quote/passage from the book ‘Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less’ by Tonya Dalton:
“You have to take this journey; you have to do the work because it is your path. The good, the bad, and the ugly. It belongs to you. So own it.”
The author talks to you about finding your ‘north star’ (or what you want to be doing) by using herself as an example. It was how to deal with ‘burnout’ without calling it ‘burnout’.
As much as I would love to brush everything under the rug and “pretend” to be on an even-keel, I know that I’m not there yet–and I’m both owning that fact and figuring out the work that needs to be done to move forward.
You might have noticed that there aren’t a lot of comments on my posts–in part I haven’t figured out the optimal key words to be sprinkling through everything, but also because most have been some type of spam comment. There had been one individual who had basically commented on a couple of posts that it seemed I liked to ‘whine’ more than I liked to ‘take action’. While I deleted those comments, looking back now maybe I should have taken a screenshot and used them as momentum to move forward faster.
Though the past couple of years haven’t been exactly a cakewalk–losing several dogs in 2018, dealing the depressive fallout throughout 2019 (not to mention the burnout), and then the pandemic last year–I’m actually ready for a ‘mild’ year (and hopefully that will be 2022?).
Though thinking back to those comments, I’m reminded that there are things I can’t control: basically how others read and intrepret my writing styles, but the one thing I can control (and I’m trying to get better at) is how I react to those comments.
There isn’t a quick and easy path for getting over anxiety and self-doubt. All I can do is to try to show up each day, and try to do something that pushes me slightly out of my comfort zone and into the stretch or risk zones.
There were two other quotes from ‘Joy of Missing Out’ that also resonated with me and they were:
“We need to stop treating each day as its own scorecard to be balanced. Look at your week as a whole and see if maybe you are spending more time on your priorities than you realize.”
“Productivity should be customized to you and the life you want to live.”
Again, both were a stark reminder that I made the right choice in leaving the academic world behind, and that I am slowly figuring out how to move into either the industry world or the freelancing world.
Seeing those quote reminded me to look at this passage from ‘How to be Everything: A Guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up’ by Emilie Wapnick:
“When you lose interest in something, you must always consider that you’ve gotten what you came for; you have completed your mission. […] That is why you lose interest; not because you’re flawed or lazy or unable to focus but because you’re finished.”
This statement has resonated with me for quite a while, and truthfully is probably the one reason why I’ve been having such a hard time figuring out my transition: I’ve been afraid of losing interest in the project/company/sector/subject and becoming bored.
To combat that ‘fear’, I’m starting to generate ‘brain dump lists’ and ‘mind maps’ of anything and everything that has ever caught my attention over the years–with the end goal of figuring out how to turn all those ideas into a self-sustaining freelancing/online/remote career.
As I’ve made it up the first staircase, I glance around me and notice there is a table with a stack of books, a pad of paper with pens, a cup of coffee (or is tea?), along with a computer–I’ve made it to the first level: Self Reflection.
I will make myself at home for awhile among these books, papers, and computer. I will have my coffee and tea and contemplate on the routes that led me to the bottom of the pit, and up that first staircase towards burnout ‘recovery’.
I would highly recommend all three books and give them all five out of five stars (listed here again for reference):
Burnout: The secret to unlocking the stress cycle by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski
The Joy of Missing Out: Live More by Doing Less by Tonya Dalton
How to be everything: A guide for those who (still) don’t know what they want to be when they grow up by Emilie Wapnick
So I am still on my journey to heal from ‘burnout’–I’ve made some good progress over the past few months, but I also know I have quite a ways to go until I feel that joy and other happy emotions when thinking of another job–though I do feel those emotions (along with fear) when I think of doing freelance, so maybe I’m further on the path than I originally thought.
Have you read these books? What did you think of them? What are some of your favorite personal development books?
The mourning dove is a ‘constant’ visitor to our backyard during the year. Since we have so many feeders, they’re guaranteed to find some food somewhere in the yard.
The ‘street’ (feral or rock) pigeon I’ve only seen when I was out in Boston and then over in London–they seem to prefer larger cities where people gather more (larger parks, plazas, open shopping areas and food).
In addition to these pages, I’ve also added in the first of the four additional organizational pages: the ‘Raptors’ or birds of prey. This allowed me to group those bird orders together under a tab (each order is still listed separately, but easier to scroll to). The other three additional organizational pages (the song birds, the water birds, and all other birds) will be getting added over the next few weeks–the ‘raptors’ was the first on the list, and also the ‘easiest’ to do as I had all those groups done and up on the site. The others may still have more ‘orders’ being added.
The next group I’m going to look at starting will probably be the ducks, swans, and geese. This group will result in another fourteen to fifteen pages being added, in addition there are a few single pages I need to add to a few sections for the birds I had spotted over in the UK and forgot about until this week.
Another #throwbackthursdaytravel page is live under the travel tab. This week was highlighting our first trip to Arkansas, when we spent a few days in the Buffalo National River area.
My dad decided he wanted to do something a little different for our mini-vacation that year–and that was to paddle down a portion of the Buffalo River.
We managed to spend a couple of days exploring the area (hiking along various trails that followed the river), before we worked up the courage to actually put our kayaks in the water and head down the river.
As shown on the above map, we put our kayaks in the river at the Ponca site, and paddled/floated down the river for about 10 minutes until we got ‘out’ at Kyle’s Landing (luckily we had someone drive our van down there so we could get back to the cabin).
It was an interesting trip, and I learned quite a bit–such as inflatable kayaks probably weren’t the smartest choice of kayaks to use, class II rapids aren’t ‘baby rapids’, and I shouldn’t freak out when I flip the kayak.
I would love to go back and visit the area again (and perhaps spend a little more time in the area), possibly spend more time hiking than floating down the river, but I am able to say that I did something that month that I’d never done before: kayaking over class I and II rapids in an inflatable kayak.
Curious to know if you’ve been to the Buffalo River? If you’ve visited the area, did you just hike or did you kayak/canoe/float down the river and how far?
So today is International Waterfall Day, and the most interesting fact about the ‘day’–is that it was actually ‘created’ last year (2020) in the midst of the pandemic by a couple from Rochester New York, who love to check out waterfalls on trips and they don’t care if a hike is required or not.
So there are no natural waterfalls within Stillwater (I don’t count the water that rushes over the back end of Boomer Lake after heavy rains as a waterfall), but there are several within the state–I just haven’t been to any of them.
All the waterfalls I’ve seen have been on vacation–either to Hawaii:
This waterfall is on the Wailuku River in the Wailuku River State Park on the island of Hawaii, located within Hilo.
I both walked here on my own from my hotel, plus joined a group nature tour of the area as well.
In addition to the ‘normal’ waterfalls–there were plenty of ‘smaller ones as well around Hilo:
I’m sure that there are more waterfalls on the island of Hawaii, but since I was staying ‘local’ to Hilo–these were the only ones I saw.
One thing I love about waterfalls is the ‘mystery’ they can invoke–I always wonder is there a door to another ‘world’ lurking behind the falls, or the door to a ‘treasure’ room? Maybe it’s protecting a hibernating dragon………
In terms of the waterfalls I’ve seen in Northern Minnesota–they always depend on the time of year visiting and the amount of rain/snow that has come down and/or melted to feed the rivers.
One favorite park in northern Minnesota is Gooseberry Falls along the north shore of Lake Superior.
While there are waterfalls, they also feed into little pools that everyone shows up to swim or sit in–but watch out for the leeches.
Other rivers also have waterfalls along them–you just usually have to hike to find them.
So as you can tell–I like taking outdoor, nature photographs. I could spend a day at each park taking probably a hundred pictures and while people would say that most are duplicates–I can probably point out the minute differences between them.
There are numerous waterfalls both within the US (most national parks have a river going through them–and therefore possibly a waterfall, but Yosmite National Park is one that has some waterfalls I would like to see), and abroad.
The other waterfalls include: Niagara Falls (between New York & Canada)–I know it’s a ‘standard’ vacation spot–but I’d be going strictly for the pictures; Victoria Falls (Zambia), Angel Falls (Venezuela), Kursunlu Falls (Turkey), Ban Gioc Waterfall (Vietnam), and if I’m up to the hike–Sutherlands Fall in New Zealand.
Have you been to any of those falls? Also–where is your favorite waterfall located?
The North American Nature Photography Association designated June 15 to be Nature Photography Day.
Their first ‘Nature Photography Day’ was back in June 2006, and their goal is to promote the enjoyment of nature photography, and through the use of the camera advance the ’cause of conservation and protect plants, wildlife, and landscapes both locally and globally’.
They (the North American Nature Photography Association) also run a photography contest every year marking the holiday as well. This year the challenge started on June 4 and ends tonight (June 15). You are able to enter multiple nature photographs throughout the week and a half that the contest runs–I’m sad that I only saw the contest this morning, but one can either download the app (iNaturalist) to your phone or sign up on the site (iNaturalist) to submit pictures for the contest. Though even after the contest ends–you can still share pictures through the site.
I will be setting up an account via the site (and deciding when to also put in an application to join the North American Nature Photography Association) some time this afternoon, so that I can share a few pictures that I’ve taken over the past week and half (Luckily my last walk up at Boomer Lake was on the 4th).
I’d decided years ago that nature photography was going to be one of the photography ‘sub-areas’ that I’d focus on for several reasons: 1) I enjoy being outdoors and exploring, 2) I like to ‘look’ for various animals (such as birds or insects), and 3) it is almost always a ‘free’ thing to do when exploring new areas.
So here are some of the nature photographs that I’ve taken over the past few months that I would rank among my favorites so far for the second quarter of 2021:
As I was walking back across the bridge, I noticed this little grasshopper nymph sitting in the wildflower. Since I’m not an entomologist, I’m not sure what nymph stage this insect was at or if it is even a grasshopper.
I spotted this bird on one of my walks, and I think based on the red flank that it was possibly a male orchid oriole.
Just about a hundred yards or so after spotting the possible Orchid Oriole, I spotted a green heron preening itself in one of the covers. Also captured in the picture was a grackle and a couple of turtles sunning themselves.
And finally–the state bird (the scissor-tailed flycatcher) is in the area again for a few months. This beautiful flycatcher is a resident from about late April through late August/early September (though sometimes still spotted in late September or early October).
So these were just a small number of pictures that I’ve taken over the past two months since I’ve been trying to get back into at least doing a monthly walk at Boomer Lake. Now that summer is here–I will probably only be doing a single walk a month at Boomer (unless really nice temps hit), so I will also use the backyard and creek area as inspiration for practicing nature photography as well.
Reference for Nature Photography Day: www.nanpa.org/events/nature-photography-day
So within the ‘Great Outdoors Month’, there is also ‘National Get Outside Day’.
This day was ‘established’ in 2008 as a means to get people outside for a ‘healthy, fun day of outdoor adventures’. This is a nationwide event that is coordinated by the US Forest Service and the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (which is America’s leading coalition of outdoor recreation trade associations and organizations).
It falls on the second Saturday of June–which means for this year it is today (June 12th). This means that in theory, today one should have free parking and entrance to parks across the country (though one should always have money on hand just in case the particular park is still charging either entrance and/or parking fees)–though other fees (such as camping or fishing) may still be charged.
While I may not be able to head to a state or national park for the day–I will hopefully be sitting outside ‘enjoying’ the outdoors later this afternoon (we’re in our hot and humid phase, with heat indexes in the upper 90s or low 100s–so even just sitting outdoors is unpleasant unless there is a nice breeze). Though I did get ‘outdoors’ this morning when I went to get the newspaper (and it was already starting to get a little muggy).
Even though I’m not heading to the ‘great outdoors’ today, I thought I’d still share some nature photos from various trips and hikes I’ve taken over the years:
While its been the only cave system I’ve visited–I would have to rank Carlsbad Caverns (more on the caves in an up-coming #throwbackthursdaytravel post) pretty high on the list for both caves and national parks:
For easy hikes, I would say it’s a toss-up between hiking in the Ozarks (at Devil’s Den) and wandering through the forests along the north shore of Lake Superior:
I managed to get a decent picture of numerous water-bugs walking/skimming the top of the water. This was a ‘calm’ portion of the river, and not very deep. I think it took me about ten minutes or so from the parking lot to reach the spot. One nice thing about the North Shore of Lake Superior–most of the state parks allow free entry for hiking, the only ‘fees’ are if you’re wanting to camp for the night. So, we just found a nice hotel, and drove up and down the coast going to different parks for hiking each day.
I didn’t really try to get down to the creek at Devil’s Den to see if I could spot any insects, fish, or amphibians–maybe next time.
So I’ve been to parks (both state and national) within the Midwest and Southwest, so if I had a ‘magic wand’ that could teleport me to any national park/monument in the country for the day, I would figure out how to split my time and go between Crater Lake Natioal Park in Oregon, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho, and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
These two pages, along with their family pages (Family Fregatidae for the frigatebird, and Family Phalacrocoracidae for the cormorant), and the order page (Suliformes) are all live under the birding tab.
Getting these five pages up, have brought the birding section to a total of 68 pages, and I still have roughly another 83 pages to add for all the other birds I’ve seen. Therefore I’m going to possibly be adding in three or four new organizational pages to the birding section over the next week or so:
Raptors–and then have all the different birds of prey orders linked to this page
Songbirds–this will be the ‘organizational’ page for the order, with all its numerous families and species (this section actually accounts for over half the pages I still need to add)
‘Water Birds’–orders that are associated with the water
‘All other birds’–the game birds, woodpeckers, hummingbirds, and those that don’t fit into the other three categories
This way as I continue to bird watch and work on improving my birding photography, the tab/section will be better organized, and the drop down menu will be easier to navigate.
As the summer temperatures have settled in over Oklahoma, I realize that I probably won’t be seeing any cormorants until early to mid-fall (the last of the youngsters should have moved out of the area), and to try to get a better picture of a frigatebird means travel–and I’m not feeling comfortable yet to travel.
Have you been able to see the magnificent frigatebird in flight? If so–off of which coast?
Since it looks like summer is here to stay, I’m slowly catching up on things. It is amazing how much more you can get done when it is too hot and humid to be outside (I think we have a heat advisory through tomorrow night).
So, I decided that I would try to see how many #ThursdayThrowbackTravel posts I could generate this summer and fall–both as blog posts and as pages under the travel tab.
The first entry for the ‘series’ is looking back at a trip we took to Arkansas a little over four years ago, when we visited Devil’s Den State Park. The park is located probably halfway between Fayetteville and Fort Smith within the Ozark National Forest.
The park offers three main outdoor activities: hiking (or walking), mountain bike riding, and horseback riding (as long as you supply the bike or horse). We went for the hiking/walking aspect. They also offer either camping or cabins for rent.
During our three to four day stay; at least half the day was spent out on different trails (that were either easy or moderate in terms fo difficulty–so not that much climbing or stairs involved).
There are approximately 13 trails within the park, with one or two being set aside strictly for mountain biking. The others you can hike, and on most of them–you also need to watch out for people on mountain bikes or horses.
Taking these kind of trips take me right to one of my ‘happy places’–being out in nature. I enjoy trying to catch glimpses of different wildlife, seeing how many different birds I can spot, and taking numerous wildflower photos.
While the world is slowly opening back up–I’ve been slowly thinking of trying to plan a trip for sometime between 2022-2024 (nice time frame, right), though I know it may not be an outdoor trip (I prefer taking nature based trips with other people, safety in numbers), but possibly a trip to a new city/state or even country–if I’m feeling up to air travel (will have to see how things play out pandemic wise).
What is your favorite state park to visit? Then where is your favorite hiking trail?
So, it looks like I didn’t set any goals last June for the Gemini new moon. That isn’t surprising since I was in a rather foul mood (from about April through mid-June), due to the fact that the SARS-CoV2 virus was getting out of control and was close to being called a pandemic (which we’re still in a year later, though numbers are falling in some parts of the world). So the moon is transitioning through the Gemini constellation today, as it marks yet another new phase–it was also a solar eclipse (but it wasn’t visible from Oklahoma). We’re a third of the way through the month, and I’m truthfully ready for say November or December.
So what are some things that one can focus on during the Gemini new moon?
Think about how you communicate with others.
See your siblings.
Well, we’re still in the middle of a pandemic (and yes, I have gotten my vaccine–but I’m still playing it safe), so I won’t be socializing more (besides, I’m an introvert who prefers minimal socialization anyways). I do see my younger brother every so often (he now lives in town), but my older brother and his family live out in CA–so no visits for quite awhile. I’ve been getting better at meditation, and I always like to read (trying to get better at expanding the genera though).
I’m also looking to the house that Gemini new moon is transitioning through–and for me it is my eighth house, or the ‘sex and shared finances’ zone (also referred to as the money and relationship zone). So what are some of the things that one can do during this time in regards to the eighth house?
Pay off a loan (or take one out)
Open a savings account and make your first deposit
Cancel a credit card you know you can’t afford
Ask for a raise (but really only if you believe you might get it)
Refinance your mortgage
Talk dirty to your partner
Try a sexual position for the first time
Looking back at what I wrote two years ago (since I didn’t post anything for new moon last year), there isn’t much I’d change–other than noting we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and I still have no desire to enter the dating pool. I find it slightly amusing that two new moons in a row have aspects that deal with relationships–and I’m determined not to be in one currently. Basically to restate what I’ve said in previous posts (about relationships): I currently don’t have the time or energy to put into the dating scene and finding someone. In terms of relationships and being with someone–I’m one of the odd ones that doesn’t mind being alone and unattached.
I also find it fitting that they also both mention finances as well–something that I’m going to be focusing on a little more as the year progresses.
So in terms of things that one can do for the eighth house:
I currently have a savings account (with money in it), which I’m going to be working on trying to increase the balance
I only have two credit cards that have ‘high’ balances, but both should be paid down/off within a few months
I don’t own a house–so no need to try to refinance something
I don’t have any loans (and currently not thinking about taking one out)
No pay raise–as I’ve been on my ‘reboot break’ for over a year now (unless I either find the ‘dream job’ and/or I get my own business up and running)
And finally, I’m still not in a relationship, so the last two items aren’t even on my radar.
So my goals for the Gemini new moon will include:
The creation of a financial plan (coming back onto the list). I have ideas bouncing around about how to start earning money–I just need to get them on paper, and broken down into monthly/weekly/daily goals. Plus, I’m not getting younger and therefore should really be trying to ‘plan’ for the second half of my life.
Continue with my daily intentional movements, improving my relationship with food, and nightly meditations/sitting quietly moments.
Continue with my personal/professional development board game, work on writing up some things, and as always reading
Through quite a bit of self-reflection over the past year and a half, I’ve realized that I have the tendency to ‘sacrifice’ my mental health in pursuit of other things (such as my career), therefore I’m going to be focusing a little more each month on maintaining and improving my mental health (through daily meditation, intentional movement, journaling and so forth). Financial health is back on the list–mainly because I’ve slipped (for several months) back into the habit of being an impulsive e-book/e-course buyer.
Being repetitive in goal setting until they become habit is a good thing (as long as you’re making some type of progress on the goal). That is why most of my goals (that are repetitive) focus on personal and professional development–my progress is slow (even microscopic at times), but it is there. Others might not see it, but then I also don’t share everything all the time.
Curious to know–what goals are you repetitive with?