Why There is Suffering in the World

If not for the rain, we would not be able to appreciate the flowers that bloom.

If not for the rain, we would not be able to appreciate the flowers that bloom.

When it comes to thinking about why there is suffering in the world, people have many differing opinions. Some of these are based on particular faiths. For example, some believe that suffering was brought to earth when Eve took a bite of the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Since there is no real definite answer, I took the time to ponder why I believe there is suffering in the world. I have come up with a few reasons for this.

First, I believe that without some level of suffering, we wouldn’t understand true happiness. We could go through our lives with contentment, but would not have anything to compare it to. This makes suffering necessary to be able to live a life with a full range of emotions.

Without suffering, we would have no reason to be grateful. If we never needed or wanted for anything, we may not appreciate all the wonderful things that are a part of our lives. If it never rained, we would not be able to be grateful for the flowers that bloomed afterwards.

Finally, I thought about the suffering of not only myself, but that of others. To see sick animals and hungry people on television pulls our heart-strings. We are equipped with the natural call to action when we see someone else hurting. This pulls us to help one another. I believe the world was created for all of us to work together.

There are a number of reasons for suffering in the world. People have differing opinions, but there is not one that is necessarily right or wrong. It is all about your faith and beliefs.

Native Plants in Arizona

There is a variety of plants that are native to Arizona. There is everything from cactus, to flowers, to trees, and everything in between. Many of these plants are made to survive the hot, dry desert conditions.

One such plant is the Saguaro cactus (carnegiea gigantea), which is also the state flower of Arizona. The Saguaro has a thick columnar stem and several branches that curve upward. The skin of the cactus is smooth and waxy with 2 inch spines on its ribs. It produces both fruit and flowers. The flowers are white with yellow centers that bloom during the months of May and June. They open at night and close again by midday. The fruit is about 3 inches and has a reddish-purple outside with red pulpy flesh on the inside. It is very sweet and is important to many animals that live in the desert. Saguaros grow very slowly at a rate of about 1 inch per year, but reach heights between 15 and 50 feet. The age of the cactus can be estimated by counting the number of arms it has. If it has more than 5 arms, the cactus is at least 200 years old. The Saguaro cactus is protected in the state of Arizona, and cannot legally be removed from where it is growing without a permit.

Growing a Saguaro cactus is fairly easy; however, it does take plenty of patience. When growing the cactus from a seed, be sure to cover the pot with plastic wrap to keep it warm and not to over water it. The soil will need to be watered every 10 days for the first month or so. Beyond that, the cactus needs only to be watered every month. The Saguaro is made to hold water to survive the desert conditions, so it only needs to be watered once in a while. Be sure you don’t leave your cactus in freezing conditions because it will die.

The Amsinckia (amsinckia intermedia) is a flower that blooms between March and May in the Arizona desert. It grows to about 20 inches high and has small yellow-orange flowers. The leaves of the plant are green and smooth. The Amsinckia has adapted to desert survival by growing small hairs all over. This helps keep the plant from receiving too much sun and burning up in the heat.

The Desert Anemone (anemone tuberosa) is another flower that is native to Arizona. It is a perennial plant that can commonly be found on mountain slopes. The Desert Anemone blooms from late winter to spring with white, pink, or violet flowers. The plant grows to about 16 inches in height. Desert Anemones should be grown in very well-drained soil. In autumn, cut the plants down to ground level and they will grow again in the spring.

The Twining Snapdragon (maurandya antirrhiniflora) is a flowering vine that typically grows over shrubs. The flowers bloom from April to October and are purple with a white center. The flowers are almost an inch in width and an inch long. The leaves are smooth and arrow shaped and are about 2 inches long. These plants are only suitable to be grown in a greenhouse and require extra care. The soil needs to be kept evenly moist, and it is a good idea to grow these in a hanging basket because they are poisonous.

The Ocotillo (fouquieria splendens) is a shrub that can be found in many places in the Arizona deserts. It can grow to 20 feet in height. The branches grow upward and have smooth edged green leaves. However, when the primary leaf falls off, the petiole turns into a spine. The Ocotillo has red flowers that grow at the ends of the branches and bloom between the months of February and May. There are a few species of animals that use the nectar of the flowers such as hummingbirds and carpenter bees. The branches of the Ocotillo can be used to make fences by planting their branches into the ground. The Ocotillo is very easy to grow since it does not need watering, but it does need to be in direct sunlight.

The plants that are native to Arizona have adapted special attributes to help them to survive in the desert such as tiny hairs to protect them from the sun and less of a need to be watered. Some are easy to grow, while others can be a bit more difficult, but they all are very unique and beautiful plants.

Finding Tranquility in Tucson, Arizona: Guide to Botanic Gardens

Where can you go to escape the hustle and bustle of the second largest city in Arizona without actually leaving the city? Tucson Botanical Gardens is in the heart of Tucson at 2150 North Alvernon Way. The gardens cover 5 ½ acres are a wonderful place to go for a little fun and relaxation. The Tucson Botanical Gardens are open daily from 8:30am to 4:30pm and are closed on New Year’s Day, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve and Day. General admission for adults is $7, children ages 4-12 are $3, and children 3 and under as well as members of the Botanical Gardens are free.

The gardens are made up of 17 specialty gardens that include a herb garden, a Zen garden, and an Iris garden. There is a compost demonstration site, sensory patio, and a garden railway. Be sure to set aside at least a couple of hours to be able to explore each area of the gardens.

There are many special events held at the gardens throughout the year. One such event is Butterfly Magic that is open daily from 10am to 3pm except on holidays from the months of October until April. Admission to Butterfly Magic includes general admission to the gardens and is $12 for adults and $6.50 for children ages 4-12. Butterfly Magic showcases different species of butterflies and moths from around the world. The butterflies are kept in a greenhouse full of beautiful plants, flowers, and fountains. The butterflies roam freely around the greenhouse and will land on visitors.

On the garden grounds are Seven Cups Tea House and Cafe 54. The tea house is in the Grove of Peace and had its grand opening on December 4, 2009. It is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10am to 3pm and offers a wide selection of Chinese organic teas and Japanese desserts. Cafe 54 is a bistro style restraint that is open daily from the months of October to May from 10:30am to 2:30pm. The café offers a variety of salads, sandwiches and desserts to choose from.

The volunteers at the Tucson Botanical Gardens are extremely friendly and helpful. They will answer any questions you may have and are eager to teach about the plants and animals in the gardens. Thanks to the volunteers, my sons had the opportunity to help free the butterflies that had completed metamorphosis into the open greenhouse. They got to handle bugs, worms, and other critters and learn all about the life cycle of butterflies and moths.

Tucson Botanical Gardens in Tucson, Arizona is a place of tranquility and is fun for visitors of all ages. They are open all year around and offer numerous activities and special events. For more information on the special events coming up, general information, or how to become a member of the gardens, please go to http://www.tucsonbotanical.org/.


Having a Successful Life

Live peace and you will feel peace.

Live peace and you will feel peace.

Most people have an idea of what it means to have a successful life. What’s interesting is that everyone has a different view of it. Someone could feel that monetary wealth would be a measure of a successful life, while others would think that having a family is an example of this. No matter what your idea of a successful life is, there are some spiritual laws that you can follow that can help you to have the successful life that you have been dreaming of.

The most important step that you can take is to keep an open connection between yourself and your Higher Power. This is what will direct your successful life. Without this connection, your Higher Power will find it difficult to understand what you want out of life. This is true also if you don’t have a clear picture of what you want your life to be. There are a number of different ways that you can go about keeping your connection open such as using meditation or yoga.

Each day, consider what a successful life looks like for you. You will want to think about this so much, that it flows into your subconscious. This is where a lot of work is done connecting with your Higher Power. If you are having a hard time picturing what your successful life looks like, consider making a vision board. By doing this, you will be able to see your successful life easier. Put your picture up in a place where you will be sure to see it each day.

A little positivity goes a long way in reaching your goals. Tell yourself that you are fully capable of living the life you dream. You will want to set up positive vibrations that will attract success into your life. One way that you can do this is by acting as if you already have that life that you feel would be successful. Understand that your Higher Power is working to bring your successful life to you, and if you are positive, you will raise your vibration. This will make it easier for your Higher Power to help you.

Don’t be afraid of what may happen in the future. There is no reason to fear your future because your Higher Power is right along side of you each step of the way.

“All of you are equal unto me, and even greater things than these you shall do.” Jesus basically said that anything was possible.

Seeking Peace and Quiet

A large butterfly waiting to take off.

A large butterfly waiting to take off.

Your kids are going with grandma, and you are extremely excited to have some quiet. You pack them up and send them on their way. You sit in your favorite spot to enjoy the silence. Wait…what you are hearing is not silence. It seems that there are a number of noises going on around your home.

If you have pets, then you can be certain to hear them moving around unless they are sleeping, or fish. Your computer is making this constant air blowing sound. Your refrigerator kicks on and off, and your phone has decided to join in on the fun.

As you sit there, you begin to wonder if this is more than you can take. At least with the kids around, you didn’t notice these annoying noises. Oh, and there goes the air conditioner.

You decide to get up and turn the computer off, and take care of the noises that you can to make your home as quiet as relaxing as possible. You sit back in your favorite spot, put your feet up, ans prepare to enjoy the silence. And there it is. Yet another noise. Oh, that’s your breathing. Well, you can’t possibly stop that noise.

Hmmm, what will your next plan be? You have finally come to the conclusion that you can’t stop all the noises in your home just as your stomach rumbles. You decide that since you didn’t notice these noises while the kids were around, maybe you should do something to take your mind off of it.

You pull out a book that you haven’t had the chance to read. Twenty-three pages into it, and you have fallen to sleep. You awake refreshed, and realized that this has been the answer all along. You can’t make the noises stop, but you can keep your mind off of them.

Now that you are awake, you begining to notice the noises again. Why won’t this weekend end? Where are your kids to take your mind off all the annoying noises around the house, or at least cover them up. Just when you are think you are about to go crazy, their playtime with grandma is over, and you have never been so happy to see your children.

The Scariest Part

Seeking food like seeking answers.

Seeking food like seeking answers.

Before I went to treatment, I had expectations. We all know that things like TV characters, models, and magazines are a great place to find that you are too fat. However, because of the different kinds of media, such as that online, I had expectations of the other people in treatment, mainly what they looked like.

I expected that I would be the fattest person there. Whenever you look up a person that has anorexia, you typically see someone who is already all skin and bone before he or she seeks treatment. When I got to the hospital, I was surprised to find that most of the people who were in treatment with me were of normal size. I took comfort in knowing that I still had serious issues even though I wasn’t underweight. (At first I wondered if I needed to be there at all).

There were other issues that I had that made me question whether I had anorexia. My hair was kind of falling out, but I wasn’t bald. so that wasn’t an issue to me. My skin was dry, but doesn’t everyone have that problem sometimes? I didn’t develop the fine hair all over my body that was supposed to keep me warm even though I was freezing all the time.

What I’m trying to say is that it is hard to figure out whether someone has an eating disorder or not. It’s impossible to just look at someone and tell if they need help or not. People come in all different shapes and sizes, and so do those that have eating disorders.

The best way to tell if someone has an eating disorder is to watch his or her behaviors. The behaviors that go along with anorexia, bulimia, EDNOS, and compulsive overeating pretty much go right along with what you see and read about. Eating disorders are difficult to find because it is easy to keep them a secret; I did. This is what is the scariest part about these disorders are. You may feel alone because you refuse to let the secret out, but you also know that help is just a few words away.

Trying to Give Love

Maybe the Universe will perform a miracle.

Maybe the Universe will perform a miracle.

So, I am a step-mom to four children. Two of them are little boys, all with their snips, snails, and puppy dog tails. The other two are girls. Well, they are teenage girls, which is an entirely different breed.

I had this dream that we would all live in the same house and be a normal family. All that I have read about being a step-parent says that this is actually achievable. I’m beginning to question my resources at this point.

I treat the boys just as I do my own, and this seems to be working out perfectly. They fell in line just like little ducklings. This may be because they haven’t hit the terrible teenage years yet, or maybe just because they are boys. I’ll have to write an update on this in the future.

I tried treating the girls with the same expectations that I have for the boys, and that doesn’t seem to work. Teenage girls are absolutely not willing to do chores, or be respectful, or responsible. During this time I was working diligently to build a friendship with them. I would spend time hanging out in areas of the house that they would pass through and say hello, ask how their day was, even tell them how my day was. Their responses were typically one word as they went on their way to their room to get back on their phone or computer.

Okay, I needed a new plan. Their world revolves around the internet as does mine. This was going to be something that we could bond over; however, I was wrong. So, I decided to back off and allow them to come to me when they were ready. Can you guess what happened next? Why yes, they said I didn’t spend enough time with them.

My last ditch effort was when my fiancée came to pick me up at the hospital. I thought that maybe we could bond if the boys weren’t around. I was in California, so when I got out, it was the perfect time for a short vacation. We went to the beach, and I even went to the mall with them. I had a total blast, but as it turns out, they didn’t have as good a time as I did. This has been a year of me trying to figure this whole thing out.

So, I went online today because either I have such a huge heart that I’m not ready to give up, or I’m a glutton for punishment. Most articles I read said that the biological parent should be the one to demand that their children respect their step-mom. I didn’t even think of that! I haven’t figured out a plan B, or C, or whatever letter we are on now, but it will come to me. Thank God I’m not alone in this.