Behind A Sloth’s Smile

Sloth – a cute face with an everlasting smile. But his smile isn’t a proof of happiness or contentment as one might think. It is actually due to sloths’ lack of facial muscles. They are “doomed” to have a huge smile on their face no matter what their feelings are. I can’t imagine how would it be to have a happy face even when I’m dying inside. No one would know that something is wrong with me, everyone would think that everything is fine. That could be very frustrating. But, actually, people often choose to wear masks, happy ones, to hide their true feelings, to look tough and in control, to fit in, to be accepted, because who like a sad, depressed face, isn’t it? But, unlike sloths, they do this voluntarily. They have a choice.
So, when you see a happy sloth, think twice: maybe he’s terrified, angry, in pain, or depressed. Don’t let their smile fool you. Look into their eyes. There, if you are empathetic enough, you might see what they really feel. And it is the same with humans.

And, since I’ve talked about smiles, I leave you a link to a dear song of mine:

Madeleine Peyroux – Smile

Thank you for stopping. Have a happy day (without masks 🙂 )

The Giraffe Island

Nobody knows why the giraffe has such a long neck and legs. There are lots of theories, but the real answer is buried back in a forgotten time, a time when the giraffes were the link between earth and sky, where the spirits lived. Back then, when a man from Earth wanted to speak with the soul of a dear one, he had to whisper the message into a giraffe’s ear and then she raised her head up to the stars, getting the man’s message to the soul it was intended for and she always brought back an answer. But, in time, there were more and more men wanting to talk with the departed ones and the giraffes couldn’t handle the job anymore. They were tired and had less and less time to live their own lives, to take care of their own kind. That was the time when the God of the Giraffes, wanting to ease their lives, gave birth to a big giraffe island in the middle of the ocean. Since that day, any man who wanted to speak with the soul of a dear one that had left the Earth climbed on the Giraffe Island’s neck up to the spirits’ realm. ( The giraffes went back to their tranquil lives but kept their long legs and neck as they got fond of them. )

Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope you enjoy it! Have a lovely day!

The Wolf Island

Nobody knows how to get to The Wolf Island. Few know of its existence and even these few people think of it more as a mythical island rather than a real one.

But she knows. She goes there every full moon. It is her favorite place on Earth: the place where the spirits of all the wolves that once lived on Earth gather and speak to her, telling their stories from the beginning till present. She learned about their ways, about their families, their pack hunting, their love stories, their friendships, their fears, their losses, their desires, their joys, their turbulent relation with humans along the history. She learned how her kind had hunted wolves to the brink of extinction many times throughout history without realizing that wolves are of utmost importance in keeping the balance of the ecosystem and that by exterminating them there will be devastating consequences to nature. Realizing that, humans stopped the hunting for a while, allowing the wolf population to regrow. But then… they forgot and… the history had repeated itself over and over again. People have short term memory and it seems that they are not capable of learning from their past mistakes once and for all. Maybe this is their curse.

But let’s leave these for now and, since it’s a full moon, let’s hear Lobo’s story: He lived a happy but hard life in Currumpaw, New Mexico, together with his life-mate, Blanca, and his fearless pack. In a time when the wolves had been deprived of their natural prey such as bison, elk and pronghorn by settlers, they had to convert their ways to the new reality in order to survive and so they started to prey on the settlers’ livestock. Lobo became the “King of Currumpaw”, the leader of a cattle-killing wolves. He had to learn all the humans’s ways of killing wolves in order to elude them. He and his pack escaped traps, poison, riffles, dogs for years, becoming a terror for the ranchers of that area. A bounty was put on his head and many bounty hunters tried to catch him without any luck. He always outsmart them.
At their wits end, the farmers hired Ernest Thompson Seton a naturalist as well as a professional animal trapper to kill him. Seton tried unsuccessfully to catch him for more than 4 months. The mating season began and, therefore, he and Blanca were inseparable. And this was his doom. Seton, a wise and determined man, changed his tactics and lured Blanca, the love of his life, whom he finally caught and killed. Life became pointless for Lobo. He howl-mourned her for two days, trying every minute to catch a last glimpse-sniff of her love through the ranch’s windows. All he wanted was to see her one last time, to lay beside her and die. Finally, seeing no other way to be together with Blanca for one more time, he let himself caught in 4 traps around the house where Blanca was taken in and … that was it. Hurt, he was carried by Seton inside, he took a last glimpse of his Blanca who was lying dead on the floor and then… he let himself die. Their spirits united in the Great Beyond and since then they wander happily, always together, inseparable, through the stars, through multiverses, through space and time. Now and then, they come to the Wolf Island, the meeting place of the spirits of all the wolves that once lived on Earth and tell their story to whoever listens.

As for his Nemesis, Seton, his encounter with Lobo changed him forever: an immense respect for the wolves and for the entire nature grew inside him. He returned east and found new purpose in speaking out against the destruction of America’s wilderness. He lobbied for the creation of new national parks, and fought for protections for wildlife.

For Seton, it wasn’t just a question of saving the wilderness. He believed that people had to experience nature in order to care about it — that it should be a part of everyone’s upbringing.
He wrote a book Wild Animals I Have Known, where he called himself the villain and Lobo a hero. The book became a worldwide success and turned Seton into a major celebrity.

This image and the story attached to it was inspired by the true story of Lobo – The Wolf That Changed America (as they called him).

More on the Lobo and Blanca story: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/nature/the-wolf-that-changed-america-introduction/4260/

Yo, the Yoga Bear

Since starting the practice of yoga, I’d realized that there’s a yoga world out there: with blogs, and vlogs, and podcasts, and movies, and Tv shows, radio shows, tedEx talks, commercials, magazines, workshops, schools, courses, diplomas, yoga retreats, all kind of yoga events; an entire world with people doing yoga on a daily basis, talking about the meaning of yoga, about its origin, its principles, about centering and breathing, about chakras and subtle energies, about the perfect moment or place for doing yoga, with people aspiring to accomplish the perfect posture, the perfect alignment for the best benefits or for an awesome photo that will make an impression on social media; a world with people doing yoga on mats, of rubber or jute, personalized, non-slippery, ecological, organic, with people using top yoga brands for their outfits, props, towels, attending the best yoga studios, equipped with with best mats, best yoga bells and Tibetan bowls, having the best yoga teacher that uses the best yoga music, and the perfect yoga sequence followed by the best shavasana in town, talking about yoga benefits and living a yogic lifestyle, with yogic tea, yogic food, using yoga incense sticks, and, now and then, practicing yoga with goats, yoga with beers, and what not, as nowadays people need new and diverse things before anything else.

Being caught in this swirling yoga world, I had once tried to attain a close to perfect posture during a yoga class and I managed to tear apart my right hamstring. And that was the moment when I had realized that a change of perspective was in order. Even if I like yoga, or the idea of it, very much, I felt that something was not right with the way “the city” was practicing it. Not for me, at least. So I went out, into the wild, to find a different kind of yoga mentor then the ones I’d met till then.

And I did. After wandering to and fro for months, I had finally found Yo, the yoga bear, in a forest near my home town. Life is like that! We wander in searching for something all over the world, only to find it, after years and years, when that something had already lost its meaning, in our backyard. There are actually many things in our backyard – or in our front yard – but because they are so close and present, we oversee them and we search for them in the wide world, sometimes for a lifetime. Well… in my case it didn’t take so long, as I was lucky to find Yo after only several months. He had no definitions, no labels for anything, let alone for yoga. And he had no perfect rubber mat that he had to pay for in order to throw it away as soon as it would had become slippery. The earth was his mat. I lived more than an year with Yo and I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I’ve learned to live simple, with the thick moss carpet as my bed and the trees’ canopy as my roof, to eat only as much as I needed and mostly vegan. He thought me to be kind and understanding, especially with the bad ones; not to hurt anyone, not even an ant, neither physically, nor emotionally (and, yes, ants can be emotionally hurt); not to tell lies, except when dealing with foxes, as foxes use the truth for mean purposes and, therefore, in such situations, an alteration or reinterpretation of the truth would be best for the general good. He thought me how to connect myself to the trees’ souls, to the flickering stars, to the upside down sleeping bats or to the sightless earthworms, to everything; he taught me how to travel the world by riding a pale of wind or a crocodile-shaped cloud (not all clouds are suitable for traveling the world), or how to dissolve myself into the mists of dawn, becoming invisible so I can spy the shy fawns drinking water from the lake. He thought me how to find my inner light. One day, after one of his inspiring lessons, I started to glow. Literally. Like a firefly. Well, at least my right side did. I must work some more on the left one. I guess I still have some issues to resolve before glowing completely. And he thought me to love everyone and everything, to be content and grateful for simple things, for what I have: even for my unglowing left side, even for the birthmarks that I have and I used to hate. He told me that my skin is the sky and the birthmarks on it are the stars. Wow! I have my own galaxy on my body and it took me so many years and a bear to see it! I named it YoGalaxy.

As for the yoga postures, he didn’t teach me many, as he only knew several. He was a different kind of yogi. But there was one pose that we did daily: the Bear Balancing Pose, as we, humans, call it. He didn’t know the posture’s name. He was just doing it. And I with him. Together, happy and content and, of course, balanced. And this is the story of this painting that started with a torn hamstring.

Thank you for stopping by! Have a wonderful, happy day!

Amor Fati or Dancing in the Rain

You Are Safe

This piece is a tribute to all the parrot species that are on the brink of extinction due to humans altering their habitat and due to parrot trafficking.

The inspiration for this piece came after a visit to a pet shop from last week.

A man who was buying a parrot asked the saleswoman if he had any warranty for the bird since it didn’t look that well, at least so it seemed to him and he was concerned for his money (not so much for the poor bird). The woman answered that he had one week warranty and if anything happened to the parrot during that period, he could bring it back (dead or alive) and he would got a refund. All the conversation sounded so insensitive to me. It was like they were talking not about a living soul, but about an electronic device or something. That hit me hard! I’ve realized once more the importance of things in our society. We came so far since the beginning of human kind but we still have a long way ahead! Unfortunately, speciesism is still a fact in today’s society for most of the people. For me, we are all (humans, animals, plants, everything) of the same importance (or no importance, as you like) in the big scheme of things.

After the little incident from the pet shop, having my soul filled with compassion for the innocent little bird, I did some researches about parrots and found out that they are thought to be some of the smartest non-human beings on our planet. They are as smart as a 3-4 year old human child, being able to solve puzzles and understanding the concept of cause and effect.

Unique fact in birds’ kingdom: Parrots are the only birds that can lift food to their beaks using their feet.

But what I like most about parrots is the fact that they are, with few exceptions, monogamous (well…I’m a romantic, what can I say?) and spend their lives with only one mate forming strong bonds and remaining together during the nonbreeding season, too.

One thing led to another and I’d started reading about parrot trafficking and found out many disturbing facts!

Blue Macaw, the parrot that inspired “Rio”, is now officially extinct in the wild due to deforestation and trafficking. And so are many other birds especially in the South America and Brazil.

For my piece I have chosen to paint a Hyacinth Macaw, another wonderful endangered species. He is called “the parrot king” and he is one of the most trafficked birds. Trade in wild hyacinth macaws is strictly prohibited and one can only sells captivity born birds. Breeders do that by selling them with 10000 $ per piece at least. At the same time, as hyacinth macaw fails constantly to reproduce in captivity, breeders encourage egg trafficking. Egg smuggling is a growing crime because eggs are easier to smuggle than live birds—they’re small, don’t make noisy birdcalls, and if a luggage inspection is anticipated, they’re easily destroyed (National Geographic). People adapt fast when it comes to thrive at another species expense. People adapt in many situations, actually. This is how we reach so far in our evolutionary path. But nowadays, it seems like it is imperative to exercise our adaptation capacity in a different way then we did before, to be more careful with every step, every decision we make or it could be the last one.

Let’s start by being more conscious about Hyacinth Macaw and all the beautiful (and ugly) parrots and by being more aware of the fact that when we buy a parrot (or any other bird), we actually, might contribute to its extinction. And a world without parrots would be a less beautiful one!