A2Z 2021 – Birds – Lark

Featured Photo by Dimitris Vetsikas

  • Physical Description: The horned lark is a small brown bird with a buff chest, a black mask, and a black patch surrounded by pale yellow on its throat. This bird has two small feather crests on either side of the top of its head, giving rise to its name. Larks are small to medium-sized birds, about 8 inches in length, with a wingspan of approximately 12.5 inches. They weigh about 1.5 ounces
  • Geographic Distribution: The horned lark is the only true lark native to North America. It is found from northern Canada and down to the southern United States and Mexico
  • Environment: This bird favors grassy, open plains.
Horned Lark Image Credit: Pinterest

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

Folklore tells us that the lark sings and flies as close to heaven as possible to demonstrate its joy at being alive, something we evoke when we say that someone is “as happy as a lark.” The collective noun for a group of larks is an “exultation,” a beautiful reminder of the joy associated with this bird.

Larks were once considered game birds, and were eaten as part of luxurious feasts. The cheery French-Canadian folksong “Alouette” is about plucking a lark, a fact that astonishes many people when the words are translated for them.

A “lark is a term for a playful romp or fun activity, often perceived as irresponsible in some way. The word lark is also used to describe a person who functions best when he rises early in the morning and goes to bed early.

The Colorado state bird is the prairie lark bunting, which is actually a member of the sparrow family. The meadowlark, the state bird of Kansas, is not a true lark either; it belongs to the Sturnella genus, which also includes some blackbirds.

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

If you see a lark, it could be telling you to cast off the shackles of responsibility for a bit and go on a figurative lark. Play hooky; visit the zoo, the aquarium, or the museum. Get some ice cream, or treat yourself to a new book and a full-fat latte. Do something out of the ordinary, something you’ve always wanted to do but felt wasn’t dignified enough, or something you couldn’t possibly do because you were too grown up.

The lark can also be telling you to experience more joy in your life. Are you working so hard that you’ve forgotten how to have fun? Think of the image of the skylark, flying as high as it can while singing in sheer exultation. You can figuratively sing out to celebrate the things you love in your life. The lark may be reminding you that you do, in fact, have things to sing about.

Associated Energies: Joy, celebration, playfulness
Associated Season: Summer
Element Associations: Air
Color Association: Brown, beige

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

I know the author of this book said that her book wasn’t meant an exhaustive reference, but I realized the focus of her geographic distributions is limited to the North America region often. I know that there are larks all throughout the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.

There are so many different types of larks out there. I thought this Magpie looked like a skunk! 🙂

Magpie Lark Image by picman2 from Pixabay

Yes! I’ve been working very hard as of late. My face is breaking out as if I was a teenager again. However I’m planning a trip to the Natural Bridge Caverns with some friends for my birthday in a few weeks. It’s been a long while since I went spelunking in a cave. I’m also looking forward to a live Q&A session with the author of the book, The Midnight Library.

“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”

Christopher McCandless

I think of how fascinated I am by so many pictures and angles of sunsets and sunrises even though it’s just one sun. In “The Midnight Library”, there’s was a quote about fish that makes me think about how important it is for us to have fresh experiences.

“Fish get depressed when they have a lack of stimulation. A lack of everything. When they are just there, floating in a tank that resembles nothing at all.”

Haig, Matt. The Midnight Library (p. 83). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Maybe the sound of wood larks would help me mediate and relax a bit, before I take on my next assignment. 🙂

A2Z 2021 – Birds – Goldfinch

Featured Image by Michael Murphy

  • Physical Description: The goldfinch is a small, stubby bird measuring about 4.5 inches long, with a wingspan of approximately 8 inches and a weight of roughly .5 ounce. The bird’s plumage is mostly bright yellow, and it has a black blaze above the beak, black wing edges touched with white, and a white rump. The female is a duller color in the summer, but in the winter the male dulls whereas the female brightens slightly.
  • Geographic Distribution: The American goldfinch is found across southern Canada in the summer, in the northern United States year round, and in the southern United States and eastern Mexico in the winter. The European goldfinch is found across Europe, North Africa and western and central Asia. It has been introduced to other areas, including Australia, New Zealand and Uruguay.
  • Environment: The goldfinch’s preferred environments include meadows, fields, open woodland, and floodplains. This bird is very comfortable in cultivated and urban residential areas.
Photo from Pennington

Myths, Folklore, and Cultural Associations

The word carduelis in the European goldfinch’s name (Carduelis carduelis) means “thistle-eating,” and goldfinches love weeds such as thistles, particularly milkweed and other plants that produce flossy or fluffy seed heads. The goldfinch eats the seeds of these plants and uses the silky fluff of the plant to line and weave into its nest. The European goldfinch was sometimes called “thistle-finch:, and this bird is the distelfink seen in Pennsylvania Dutch folk art and lore. The distelfink represents happiness and good fortune to this community.

The gold color of this bird connects it with wealth. If the first bird a girl saw on Valentine’s Day was a goldfinch, she would marry a wealthy man. The goldfinch was also believed to be a symbol of protection against the plague in medieval times.

The American goldfinch, or eastern goldfinch, is the state bird of Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington. Goldfinches are sometimes casually referred to as ” wild canaries”.

The collective noun for a group of goldfinches is a “charm,” which is a lovely word suggesting the bird’s association with luck, health, joy and love.

Photo from Pennington

Omens and Divinatory Meaning

Yellow is a color of joy, cheer, and health. Seeing a goldfinch can be a boost to your general well-being. It may also be a sign to consciously introduce more joy into your life by engaging in what you love to do more than you are currently doing.

The male goldfinch’s bright colors fade after the summer and become a more subdued olive brown, whereas the female’s plumage brightens in the fall. This can be a reminder that you can choose your season to shine. Not everyone can be in the spotlight all the time; it can be draining and unhealthy. But by choosing your time carefully, you can make a significant impact. Just remember that in order to balance that season of shining, you need to retreat again and allow others their time in the light as well.

Associated energies: Joy, happiness, health, abundance, prosperity
Associated seasons: Summer
Element association: Air
Color associations: Yellow, black, brown

REFERENCE: Birds, a Spiritual Field Guide, Explore the Symbology & Significance of These Divine Winged Messengers by Arin Murphy-Hiscock

Reflections

Every time I hear Goldfinch, I think of Crushed Caramel’s love for a wonderful man. Crushed Caramel is a bright and beautiful blogger here in the blogosphere sharing inspirational posts on love and life.

Photo from Pennington

If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the fields has power to move you, if the simple things of nature have a message that you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive.

Eleonora Duse

It’s National Walking Day! The other day I took a afternoon walk at this national historical site I frequently visit, and I was overwhelmed with such a joyous feeling deep in my heart. The blue skies were vibrant. The sun was shining. The grass was growing. I was so appreciative of this gorgeous day. It could be the fact that my state is no longer a frozen, bleak landscape. I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear. I felt free. The fact that I was cooped up for the majority of last year while death and discord surrounded me was suffocating. I didn’t realize how it impacted my ability to do A2Z last year. I’m just so grateful for the littlest of things. I’m grateful to see and visit my loved ones more often.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
Photo from The Spruce

A2Z 2021 Theme Reveal

“Some birds are not meant to be caged, that’s all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.”

– Stephen King, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption

**Drum roll, please** My theme for 2021’s A to Z Challenge will be about…. BIRDS!

My inspiration is primarily from Arin Murphy-Hiscock’s book “BIRDS a spiritual field guide”. I enjoy her illustrations, her research on mythology & folklore, and her insight into divinatory meanings. I was curious after my former supervisor shared a story with me about her winged messenger.

Here’s the author’s bio:

Arin Murphy-Hiscock has always felt a spiritual connection to birds, especially owls. She is a third-degree Wiccan High Priestess in the Black Forest Clan and the author of Power Spellcraft for Life, Solitary Wicca for Life, The Way of the Green Witch, and The Way of the Hedge Witch. She lives and bird-watches with her husband and two children.

Here’s the back-flap:

Birds are all around us building nests for their eggs, perching on a nearby tree branch, floating freely on a breath of wind. But do you ever feel like a bird might be trying to connect with you or even tell you something? This book can help you figure out the special message your visitor is trying to share. Inside this lovely illustrated field guide you’ll find everything you need to decipher the unique meaning behind each individual bird sighting. From physical description to folklore, each of the common bird species detailed within has a story and a unique symbolism which will help reveal the changes these mystical creatures want you to make in your life. With this enlightening volume as your inspiration, get ready to take a look at your life from a bird’s eye view one robin, crow, and hummingbird at a time!

Hello! For those who are new to Culture Shocks…WELCOME! Let me take a moment and introduce myself and some of the projects I’m working on.

Here you will find my personal journal entries, stories, poetry, quotes, and photos of things I find fascinating. Occasionally, I share snippets from my myriad of hobbies that I rotate on a seasonal basis. Stick with me long enough, you’ll realize that even though I’ve chosen birds as my focus, I tend to get off on a tangent due to disparate connections I make. I blog sporadically and randomly. I may do 5 entries for A2Z in one day, go AWOL, and return with full vigor. My attempt to blog on a schedule has been futile so far!

Ah! A face to a name! My name is Sa. Nice to meet you! 🙂

I wear many hats literally and figuratively. I’m an audacious sister, friend, daughter, grad student, Rotarian, technical writer, businesswoman, Toastmaster, volunteer for multiple causes, and more. My blog is my comforting oasis, though I may occasionally vent here when I have nowhere else to go.

For those of you who have been here a while, I finished my 1st crochet-a-long with the alumni for the month of March! I’m happy they evaluated my crochet partner and me very highly. They remarked that it was fun and engaging! I was happy to see the flowers again after such a devastating freeze over our state in February. Easter is just around the corner. Spring is here!

I’m getting my COVID vaccine tomorrow morning at the stadium. The current climate surrounding Asian Americans that has swept the nation has had me reminiscing about the past. I purposely remain vague though I relate to various stories that have been shared across various social media platforms. My main question is what will I do moving forward.

The alumni book club has gotten into some interesting reads. Though, I’m having some difficulty finishing the book, “The Biggest Bluff” by Maria Konikova. I’m wrapping up on “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. We’re about to start “The Midnight Library” by Matt Haig. I’m still working through some bloggers’ books and poignant poetry as well.

I’m resuming collaboration with a blogger on some poetry regarding some fragrances. I work as a beauty consultant and I thought it would be a fun way to learn about all the fragrances that I’m unfamiliar with. I was so inspired by his work that I thought I could explore the sensation of smell!

I’m currently hooked on the Home Edits Show. I recently de-cluttered my space of many books, clothes, and papers. I found that I didn’t miss them as much as I thought I would, even books that were formally my favorites. I think it’s because there’s only so much that I can focus on in the present that I don’t have time to linger on any items that are associated with my past. Even though it was a massive undertaking, I still feel like I could use some help. There’s some things I still feel like I can let go. Reorganize my crafts supplies. Change particular containers. I have a vision. I determined to make it happen. Previously, I was intrigued by Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. It has helped me immensely, though I think I didn’t follow it completely. It’s still a work in progress!

I’m also enjoying a remix of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2

Alrighty, that wraps up my intro for now! I hope to reconnect with new and veteran participants of the A to Z challenge! I look forward to reading your blog posts!

One-Liner Wednesday – Umbrella of Imagination

Linda G Hill’s 1 Liner Wednesday

Recognizing National Umbrella Day today with a quote from a Belgian painter and writer!

“When a storm of harassment disturbs our thinking and brings us down to our knees, the umbrella of our imagination can shield us against destructive aggression. It is offering shelter and is teaching us how to conquer ourselves, train our resilience, and grit our teeth. We better learn to adopt the virtue of endurance, as life consists of both ‘passion’ and ‘patience.’ (“The umbrella”)”

Erik Pevernagie

Our Next-Door Neighbor

Heartwarming stories from “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books are considered timeless literature for me. I can pick any story from any of these series at any time in my life and feel wonderful and uplifted. There’s a quote that reminds me of an event that happened during Christmas time many years ago.

We once had a neighbor who moved from New York into the house next to ours. She was a friendly and attractive lady who my siblings and I always waved to her and wished her a good morning. At the time, my siblings and I were all young children.

She had some mannerisms that were unfamiliar to us in the suburbs. She also had a habit of gardening in the front yard in her bathing suit catching the attention of any males who happened to walk their dogs into our cul-de-sac. My visiting cousins made fun of her, but I came to her defense saying that she never caused us any harm and looked out for us. I suspected that even if she heard my cousins speaking behind her back, she wouldn’t have cared what they thought because she was confident in who she was.

One Christmas day, we heard our doorbell ring. My siblings and I ran to the front door and looked outside the window. There was a wrapped package outside our door. I saw the back of a blond woman’s head and she herself was dressed in a lush red Christmas coat like Mrs. Clause. It was our neighbor, but she didn’t stay to chat probably due to any language barriers.

During a time when we didn’t have to be weary of potential bomb packages outside residential homes, we naturally brought the box inside and opened it since it was from our non-malicious neighbor. Inside our neighbor packed all sorts of goodies for us. We were amazed all all the snacks, toys, and refrigerator holiday magnets she packed for us.

I think back on this memory and feel that it’s a special moment when a neighbor wants to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in spite of the increasing cynicism and all things that go on in the world. I’m grateful that we had such a great neighbor while growing up!

In response to :

Outstanding Blogging Award – Culture Shocks

Thank you!

Featured Photo by Clifford Photography on Unsplash
Jyotsna Shenoy at Art Psycho nominated me for the “Outstanding Blogging Award”!

RULES:

  1. Provide the link to the creator’s original award post. (very important: see why in step 5)
  2. Answer the questions provided.
  3. Create 7 unique questions.
  4. Nominate 10 bloggers. Ensure that they are aware of their nomination. Neither the award’s creator, nor the blogger that nominated you, can be nominated.
  5. At the end of 2020, every blog that ping-backs the creator’s original post will be entered to win the 2020 Outstanding Blogger Award!

This award was originally created by Colton Beckwith

Jyotsna’s Questions:

Which book(s) have you read / are going to read in the last/next 10 days? Any books released in 2020 that you would like to recommend me?
My next post will be about all the books I’ve been “skimming and sampling”, but not quite diving in. For me, some books are like a snack rather than a feast.

However, my answers for this specific question are:

In the past 10 days, I’ve read Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. Lee’s cover is very beautiful and rather intriguing to me.

The next book I’m reading is “The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself, and Win” by Maria Konnikova. It was published June 23, 2020. I don’t know if I can recommend it yet, but I love card games and curious to see what wisdom Maria has to share!

Image Credit: French Poker News

State a fun fact about you that makes you stand out in any generic crowd, do you have any rebellious feature that makes a point in your bio?
I don’t know if this makes me stand out as many high school students in my class were expected to learn this, but I memorized the first ten lines of the Canterbury Tales in Middle English and secretly enjoyed it.

The Prologue is the first 30 seconds

I also really enjoyed the learning process of creating my own illuminated texts one autumn season, and wouldn’t mind taking a calligraphy class! Despite its impracticality, I enjoy the visual aesthetics of fancy penmanship.

As for the second part of this question about any rebellious features… I read this article by Personality Growth and was intrigued by its title, “Is Personal Responsibility the New Counter Culture?” This question resonates with me because my own sense of personal responsibility has caught people around me off guard sometimes.

Image by Mystic Art Design from Pixabay

There were times when my parents and I didn’t see eye to eye, but I didn’t rebel much against them except when it came to defending a few unconventional friendships that I’ve had. I guess I love reading about rebellious individuals and learning how they think by listening to their stories, but I don’t really participate in “typical” rebellious activities.

Though I consider myself well-behaved and well-mannered, sometimes, I think I shock people when I support highly idiosyncratic or bohemian individuals. This pondering leads me to think of this quote below:

Well-behaved women seldom make history.

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

When I think of this quote, I think there are many interpretations. The link I attached to Laurel’s name summarizes what her intention was when she said this. Focusing not on whether women should misbehave in order to be memorable, but on the fact that there are many women who have done remarkable things throughout history yet are not recorded or documented. That’s slowly changing with social media and more female representation.

Give away a couple of your favorite latest Netflix series or Anime that you would want me to watch?

I can offer some variety for you. 😉 I don’t think I can say that these shows are my favorite of all time, but the latest Netflix series that have caught my attention as of late are: The Good Place, Mr. Robot, The Crown, Agents of Shield, and Chuck. Some are hilarious comedies filled with action and others are somewhat dark and intriguing.

Image Credit: https://wallpapercave.com/w/wp1865491
https://wallpapercave.com/w/BVJEsby

As for anime, I’ve been enjoying The Dragon Prince and The Vinland Saga. 🙂

Dogs or cats (or a third option)…and why?
I love petting other people’s dogs and cats, but I don’t think I could be an owner of either. I enjoy birds though! Lovely morning chirps!

Image by Foto-Rabe from Pixabay

Name 3 snacks that figure in your cheat diet!
Fried chicken, Crème de Pirouline Chocolate Hazelnut Wafers, Nutty bars!

What are your pet peeves (top 3)?
I think my pet peeves shift around every time someone asks me this question on an award. Right now though, they are 1) Passive aggressive behavior, 2) Bigots, 3) Complainers

For how long could you possibly unplug and stay clear from any social media? (time in minutes/hours/days?)

Some are more easier to stay away than others. I can stay away from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for months. It’s more difficult for me to stay away from LinkedIn, WordPress, and YouTube.

My Questions:
(Inspired from https://icebreakerideas.com/icebreaker-questions-biggest-list-ever/)

  1. If you were sent to live on a space station for three months and only allowed to bring three personal items with you, what would they be?
  2. Be in the movie of your choice, what movie would you choose and what character would you play?
  3. What do you think is the greatest invention in your lifetime and why?
  4. What is the best gift you ever received?
  5. What is the funniest prank ever played on you?
  6. What was the best museum/gig/ play/game you have ever been to?
  7. What is the most bizarre encounter you have had in life (at work, personal, from travel, with friends)?

My nominees

Image by floherrou0 from Pixabay

I think you guys are all troopers for blogging at all during a pandemic season. You all are invited to entertain the rest of us with these questions if you wish! Cheers! 😀

#FOTD – Passion Flower

Image Credit: Passion Fruit by Elena Belokrinitski watercolor pattern on Behance

#FOTD – Cee’s Zinnia

There has fallen a splendid tear from the passion-flower at the gate. She is coming, my dove, my dear; She is coming, my life, my fate; The red rose cries, “She is near, she is near;” And the white rose weeps, “She is late;” The larkspur listens, “I hear, I hear;” And the lily whispers, “I wait.

Alfred Tennyson

I was walking in the park one beautiful morning and came across these passion flowers!