Anita Sebastian – Adventures of the Island Girls

I am delighted to share a guest post by Anita Sebastian. Anita and I met in Singapore years ago when I ran the global ArtScience Prize and visited Singapore at least once a year to participate in their ideas festival. Anita is a writer and editor. She spends many hours in the forests and reserves in Singapore. Her books, the Ranger Anne series of children’s books is a reflection of her love for the animals and the natural environment. Sharing passions, inspiring more joy, love and laughter is the intent of everything we highlight on the blog. Please enjoy this delightful post by Anita – I sure did. xo, Carrie

There comes a time in your life where you feel the need to step back and take a fresh look at your motivation for your choices and decisions. Some may call it a mid-life crisis or more recently, the new normal.

If flights were not taking off last year and this year, and who knows what will come next year, this means for me the Camino de Santiago walk in Spain would also off the table. Again. So I decided to walk my Camino right here in Singapore in my own way, masks and all.

Initially I started walking home from work. It took about 2 hours with a stop for a drink. It was about 10-12km navigating through roadworks, strange roads and traffic lights. The most interesting part was the stares and questions, “Where are you from?” Answer: Oh, just walking home.

When a childhood friend suggested on Facebook that I walk up to Mount Faber, I was delighted to see other childhood friends interested to do the walk with me. And this sparked the beginning of the Adventures of the Island Girls.

Here we are at Bukit Timah Hill. A difficult uphill incline with so many steps.

Having grown up in the same primary/secondary school, we have shared memories of school and life in old Singapore. Other than wanting to walk our nature trails, we had another thing in common: searching out good old-style local food. This was added motivation to walk, walk, walk and make space for goodies! A win-win situation.

We walked through a reservoir-nature reserve, climbed a rather tough hill loaded with inclines and steps, walked on park trails that led to coastal waters, and traversed over our lovely Coney Island as well.

As we leave footprints in forest trails and mangroves, we are blessed to encounter an array of fauna and flora that come together to make up a fragile yet resilient ecosystem filled with a biodiversity that would thrill any zoologist, botanist or environmentalist.

All that is needed is a little patience and a sense of wonder. And let’s not forget – good people to share them with. The Japanese concept of Shinrin-Yoku is so true.

We’ve spotted numerous brightly coloured birds and spiders along the trails.  As well as so many varieties of mushrooms such as the brackets from the ganoderma species, mushrooms ala smurf from the lepiota species, and even the elusive stinkhorn with a lace skirt.

Keep your eye open for giant inviting ferns, lichens, and uber tall trees with trunks so wide and roots so strong that also serve as resting spots! Breathe in the fresh air and allow all your senses to re-awaken.

Hmmm and also keep an eye on your friends.
There are joyful photo ops everywhere you turn!

The Island Girls at their best!

The joy of shared experiences, the laughter, the wonder, the injuries, the lost trails… priceless.

I am still solo walking at other times. During these times, I look out for what ‘sparks joy’ for me: green plants, flowers, tall trees, birds, crickets, the moon and dinosaurs.

Left: The moon shines bright on my way home. Picture taken from an overhead bridge.
Right: With a dinosaur at a nearby playground on my walk home. Can you caption it?

With each walk, I can feel my mind and body changing:

  • my mood is better,
  • my energy levels increase,
  • I sleep better at night, and
  • I am able to focus and engage in good critical thinking and analysis the next day.

I am happier and also able to share this distinctive “green” joy with others. When the busyness takes over, I know I can put on my shoes and walk the trails again.

I hope you find your Island Girls too.
Let the adventures begin! <3

“And the moon said to me: my darling, you do not have to be full in order to shine”.

Seeing the Goodness



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How are you doing?  I can imagine your days are filled with highs and lows, anxiety, coupled with feelings of joy, love, fear and worry, perhaps with moments of boredom in the mix, as you adapt to a new and different normal.

Uncertainty is stressful.  The world is facing an economic crisis and the coronavirus pandemic is the deadliest threat to ordinary life that we have experienced in modern history.  BUT we are experiencing this adversity collectively. We cannot let fear consume us.  We will get through this.  We will beat the virus.  The economy will bounce back.  We need to shift our fear into hope, faith and courage.

Be present.  Dig Deep.  Make choices with love, practice kindness, to yourself and others.  Be grateful.  We owe so much to the healthcare workers, doctors, nurses, hospital staff, truck drivers, grocery store clerks and everyone on the front lines who are working on our behalf.

This global pandemic is shifting us, shifting our daily lives, shifting our priorities and shifting the way we work, live and interact.  This is an unprecedented time for us globally.  Focus on your health, both physical and mental.  If you are experiencing anxiety, address it.  Self-care is essential during this time. Everything is upside down with most of the world forced to stay home.

These are dark days indeed, but I am seeing the goodness that is rising up around us.  We may be forced to be apart but we are coming together as one in so many new ways.

When the school systems closed down, their first concern was to make sure the children that relied on school lunches for food did not go hungry. (If you are able, consider making a gift to #nokidhungry.)  Only after local school systems figured out how to bag breakfasts and lunches and disseminate them safely did they focus on the learning.  Once they did, they offered chrome books for loan to the families that did not have computers at home, and internet providers were offering free wifi.

I worked for a decade trying to make change in the education system with the ArtScience Prize and it’s difficult.  We did a lot of good but shifting schools and systems to make big changes is very, very hard.  Yet in a matter of weeks, across the globe, education systems quickly shifted to remote learning almost overnight.  This will no doubt help us conceive new ways to educate equitably going forward.

Across the US people of all ages are banding together to make face masks for our doctors, nurses, emergency care workers, truck drivers and grocery store workers.  People are gathering together in new ways both virtually and in person.  There are online social cocktail hours.  There are gatherings of neighborhoods from their balconies, windows and driveways in order to interact.

In Arlington, MA the community has launched 6 Feet at 6PM to connect as a community, visually and virtually, each evening at 6pm.  They are asking everyone to come out of their homes or look out their windows to wave to neighbors in an effort to check in with each other at a safe distance to make sure “we are all OK as a community.” #Arlington6At6

In Italy people are coming together for song from their windows and balconies, here is one hauntingly beautiful video.  One of the people who sang wrote “Imagine the whole world singing like this from their houses. No hate, no nothing. Just unified for once. Love this so much,”

Remember during this time filled with anxiety, it’s important to move your body, practice self care and eat healthy.   Yogaworks is offering free virtual yoga classes with teachers from across the US.  This morning I took a virtual class from an instructor in Atlanta and had others participating from India, Norway, Sweden, Texas and more.  86 people turned on their computers and practiced yoga at the same time.  Amazing.  You should try it.  If you are new to yoga, it’s ok there are classes for everyone.

This is also a time to try something new, alone or with your family.  Faer is painting every day and taking online piano lessons.  Ellie has taken up embroidery  and is creating beautiful things.  Alexander is learning new skateboard tricks.

Get creative.  Grab a book and read.  Listen to music.  Pull out your mixer and bake something.  Embrace this time with your immediate family and friends, whoever you are with during this time.  Connections are important.  Conversations are important, especially with our children to help them process this historic time with all of the ambiguity and unknowns.

It’s also important to get out in nature if you can safely do this.  Look at the clouds.  Watch the wind in the trees. Take a deep breath.  Listen to the birds.  Be happy that you are alive.

I’ll close with the same words the yoga instructor said this morning as she ended class:

May you be happy.  May you be healthy.  May you prosper in ways that bring you joy.  May we all be free.  I love you. Namaste.

Carrie Allen created this site as a way for people to share stories about things they love.  She loves chasing quiet, authentic moments and sharing them with her family and friends.  Read more about her inspiration here. 

Randi Mail – Cycling Passion

My hands grip the handlebars, palms pressing down on the cushions of my fingerless gloves. My back is straight, but I lean forward facing the wind. The steady breeze in my face increases as my speed rises. I begin down the path along the river. “Hi Charles” I usually say aloud, with a big grin. I shoot a flirtatious glance at the water, its velvety and rippling surface laps at the shore. Might catch a hot pink or bright yellow duck boat or the mini sailboats in the distance out of the corner of my eye as I ride along.


I know the bends in the path well, snaking around trees, benches, playgrounds, and sculptures.  Every so often, tree roots intent on slivering underneath from one side to the other create little heaves in the asphalt, black burrows cracking up across my way. I steady my feet on each pedal and position them midway on the rotation exactly opposite one another. At the same time, I draw my elbows in and lower my torso closer to the handlebars. A quick lift off the saddle, thighs lightly pinch the nose of the seat for stability and control. Over the bump… bump… back in the saddle.


Legs pumping, I truly love this elegant invention. I have never owned a car. I play with my pedaling stroke to switch up the delicious muscle burn, sometimes slight sometimes intense. Maybe I’ll use my quads from hip to knee keeping my feet parallel stomping out the strokes. Or, activating my calf muscles I’ll start ankling. This technique involves pointing the foot slightly up on the down stroke and slightly down as you pull the pedal back and up.

The breeze shuffles my hair at my back. Little adjustments for total comfort, a tug here and there of my helmet brim and the back of my shirt. Breathing in, fresh air floods my lungs as I inhale deeply. Breathing out, my belly extends feeling peaceful as I become one with my bike.

Pumping. Click… click… I shift into a higher gear for more resistance and momentum. Letting go of the left handlebar first, then the right one, I sit upright. Lifting my arms out and up to the sides my shadow on the path is clear and tall. Bold and free, I ride over the dappled shadows of the leaves and branches from the border of trees beside me. This is me, I’m flying! I know I’ve got that twinkle in my eye, one of joy and pure passion. Nothing can compare.

Randi Mail is a lover of the outdoors, comedy, and the arts. She’s a positive change agent and natural leader working on sustainability from a triple bottom line perspective. From 2002-2016 she was Director of Recycling for the City of Cambridge in Massachusetts.


Erika Riddington – Stone Cold December


“Each year as December approaches,
And Earth turns gray, stone cold,
Summer green lush is faded
And russet–brown overtakes gold,
I’m not perplexed or longing
for that chroma, or sweet fruit that has been,
But I do still revel in the fresh and beauteous.
I do not wish to give up
the lavish gathering in.”

I live for a good walk.
As stone cold December approaches,
Thanksgiving weekend with family is particularly special.


I go with delight at being together with the beloved people I rarely see.
I go to thoroughly enjoy simply breathing the fresh air and moving through space.

Farm in Amherst, MA.


I also go with a an eye for treasures to bring the freshness of outside in for the winter.

Gems stand out…

The treasures found? An abandoned wasp’s nest for the classroom, some bright winterberry from the marshy farm’s edge, emerald moss for an advent garden, fragrant boughs of balsam for the holiday house, a bird’s feather for no purpose at all.

These artifacts find a place in our home and become part of our celebrations.

Through our sometimes too hurried and harried daily existence, the fresh pieces from the natural world are reminders of a flow beyond and help keep us connected to the larger Life.

Erika Riddington is a relatively new middle school science teacher, (former landscape architect), currently raising a family with her husband in Arlington, Massachusetts.


Krister Allen – Fortnight Idaho

toppost1Momentary visual stimulation from the State of 208 – Serious, Quirky, simply Pretty and just plain ‘Challenged’ …

Take a moment to look around – ignore your conditioned, often too accustomed, literal interpretations, skew the perspective and simonize your neurotransmitters.


I will post them as I see them … apologies in advance if the biweekly synchronicity is not exact – yes, I had to be ‘that guy’ …

This past week was very precious to me … caringly, Sunrise – Sunset has been cheerfully and thematically decorating the soundscape of my mind:

Swiftly flow the days                                              Swiftly flow the years
Seedlings turn overnight to flowers                     One season following another
Blossoming even as we gaze                                Laden with gladness and tears
                                                                                                                                                        Harnick / Bock                 

… so with passion in the skies – I covet the familiarities of my past – to you Q!


Krister Allen lives (for now) in Sandpoint, Idaho. He is an architect, avid sailor and skier…oh and happens to be my true love.