Wednesday, July 7, 2010

On To Newer Pastures!

As of Summer 2010, this blog will be transitioned into my two main blogs:
  • Michael on the Move: follow my travels as I continue to travel the world, meet people, and write about it (oh, and take pictures of it as well!)
  • The Balance Factor: check in as I post insights about finding more balance in mind, body, and spirit. Also check my web site for workshops, coaching, and other educational opportunities.


The Ambassador

Monday, February 1, 2010

Time to Go Green

"Do not wait for extraordinary circumstances to do good action; try to use ordinary situations." — Jean Paul Richter

If you stop and think about how much goes to waste in your life on a daily basis, you will notice that our waste adds up fast... and if you think about the formula we're creating: more garbage + more pollution = higher expenses = less money, it's not a pretty picture. Perhaps you've heard my favorite muppet, Kermit the Frog, crooning his song, "It's not easy being green." Lately I've been thinking more about the green movement, but it didn't really hit home until I realized that unlike Kermit's words, it's rather easy to do. Going green isn't a fad; it's a change in your behavior... and it's really very simple to do once you raise your awareness and start paying attention.

There are a plethora of resources out there about greening your life, but allow me to highlight some simple habits if you don't know where to start.

Tips for Heading Towards Greenville:
  • First, and foremost, start paying attention to what you use, keep, and throw away. Remember the 3 R's: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.
  • Use a washcloth instead of paper towels to wipe up spills.
  • If you like using paper towels, buy the half-sized perforated style which uses half the amount of a regular towel each time you tear one off (makes great napkins!)
  • Reuse the unused and gently used paper dinner napkins as handy wipes for wiping food from dirty dishes, greasy pans and for quick clean-ups.
  • Use the backs of previously printed papers in your printer. Most of what we print out are not final pages of a doctoral dissertation, so just save the new paper for the important stuff.
  • You know those cute little Ziploc bags? Unless you're filling them with pudding or peanut butter they can be reused.
  • Ask for a ceramic coffee mug at your local coffee shop - stay in, relax, and enjoy your java.
  • Try replacing your coffee with green tea (blended with jasmine or lemongrass rocks!) It's green and it's good for you.
  • Turn off non-essential lights.
  • Buy electronics with rechargeable batteries instead of disposable.
  • When possible, walk, bike, or carpool instead of drive. It's better for you, the environment, and saves money.
  • Reuse hotel sheets and towels. Do you change your sheets and towels every day at home? Then don't do it when you're on vacation.
  • Buy reusable shopping bags. Save a plastic tree!
  • Reconsider bottled water. Consider purchasing an aluminum refillable bottle and going back to the tap. Seriously - the whole bottled water craze is more of a fad than a fact. Did you realize they're slowly raising the prices for bottled water? Retailers are smart. But you are smarter.
  • Consider going greener by using non-chemical cleaning supplies and supplementing your health with essential plant oils instead. Young Living is a fantastic organization I've been working with for years to help support you and your families' health with greener choices. 

Green Resources:

Personally, I like National Geographic's Green Guide, which gives a consumer a heapin' helpin' of stuff on everything from home and garden to personal care and product buying guides. There's also:

I strongly encourage you to think about where you can Go Green by reducing, reusing and recycling more in your life. You'll feel good about the planet and your pocketbook. And by showing Kermit that you understand what being green is about, you'll make him a happy frog.


The Ambassador

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wake Up, Already!

Okay, so I never really thought I'd admit this, but I love waking up early. There, now I said it. 

Have you ever explored the benefits of waking up early in the morning? It's amazing! Now I'm not saying that I've never gotten in the habit of rising before the sun; in fact, for quite a long time I would only sleep for 5 hours at a time - heading to bed around midnight and waking up by 5:00am - but that was during a period of my life where I was operating at a super-high frequency and it worked well to sleep less. Now, I must admit, the body's churning at a slightly different speed and I need just a little more shuteye, so more like 6-7 hours of sleep is better.

There are many benefits to waking up early and you can discover what works best for you. But let me highlight a few that I've found make sense to me:
  • It's QUIET (need I say more...?) Peace, quiet, solitude, calm... do these words sound appealing to you? Yes, these experiences, and more, can be found in the morning!
  • Since it is quiet I can get twice as much done in half the time without interruptions (*key)
  • It is, indeed, a profound event to watch the sun rise in the morning... as amazing a watching a sunset :o)
  • My mind is clear and my thoughts flow much easier since I haven't yet accumulated the "noise and clutter" of the day.
  • I can take time to think about what I want to accomplish today, who I want to "be" today, and what I'd like to reflect upon tonight as I'm reading myself to sleep.
  • I can get my best writing done (and I can recall my dreams quickly if I choose to process them) - and the best way to prime the pump is to write morning pages.
  • I can hydrate my body slowly by drinking water and herbal tea therefore bringing me my natural appetite by mid-morning for a great breakfast!
* A quiet environment (outside) allows the quiet voice within you (inside) to be louder and easier to hear. I refer to this quieter voice as spirit. If you can tune into your spirit, you can hear amazing things!!

Now you may not find yourself to be a "morning person" - I never was growing up... but thank goodness people change, and if you are willing to explore a new side of yourself you may be surprised how wonderful it can be to enjoy the benefits of the morning. Try it! I did.

Make it a great week.

The Ambassador

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cozy Cabin

Last week I had another artist reception - this time at The Cabin Coffeehouse and Cafe in Bemidji. I've had my photo cards on display at The Cabin since the summer, but now I am the featured artist for the month of December so my whole line of cards and prints will be available through the end of the year. It was a fun evening and the first of my art receptions where my parents, Tom & Yvonne, were able to attend. So cool! Even though they have "officially" flown south for the winter (and driving their motorhome out West), they fly in for the holidays so we can spend Christmas together each year. It works out great for everyone!

How ironic that the owner of The Cabin, Noemi Aylesworth, and I go waaaaaay back... in fact, we were on stage together in the Paul Bunyan Playhouse production of Oklahoma! back in 1993. It's still hard to believe that was 16 years ago... but what fun memories I have of that show and the other seasons at PBP. Lots of good friendships created those summers. Good times :o)

So now it's approaching the holidays and time, once again, to reconnect with family and friends. I made a quick trip out to Hawaii again this Thanksgiving to visit my Hawaii Ohana, and that was an amazing trip (as always). You can read more about some of my insights gained on that trip on my Balance Factor blog. Hawaii always grounds me in a way unlike any other place on earth... probably because it's so naturally beautiful and commands your attention and respect. Mother Nature is in full bloom on the lovely islands and she's not afraid to remind you of it every day. Ahhh, Hawaii -
Aloha au iā 'oe.

Wishing you a safe happy holiday season and happy new year.


The Ambassador

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A Nod by National Geographic

This past week one of my favorite photos was selected as a featured choice for the 2009 National Geographic International Photography Contest - quite an exciting event! Now I need your vote. Please take a moment to rate my photo as part of the public voting portion of the contest. Voting ends November 8th. Just go to:
When you've finished voting you will see the combined average of ratings for each photo. Remember: voting ends November 8th, so cast your vote as soon as you can. You can also download a copy of "View from the Top" as your wallpaper by visiting: and selecting my photo. 

What an exciting adventure my photography has been. I was just accepted into the Susan Fryer Voigt Gallery this past week and will be featured next weekend in Art Attack - an annual art event at the Northrup King building in Northeast Minneapolis. My photography will continue to be featured in Susan's gallery throughout November and December. I will also be the featured artist at The Cabin Coffee House and Cafe for the month on December with a reception on December 9th. Busy busy!

All of the recent events continue reminding me that whatever you pay attention to does, indeed, expand. So with that in mind, make sure you are paying attention to what you love!

Happy week,
The Ambassador

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Art Opening Fun

For the past month I've been enjoying the opportunity to participate in two Artist Receptions and a TV spot for my latest photography line, Inspiration from the World.

On September 26th I had an Art Opening at Wilde Roast Cafe in Minneapolis with a reception followed by a free concert by Eric Himan. It was a great opportunity to visit with friends and family as several people stopped by to see my work and hear my stories; plus, I got to meet Eric and listen to his fantastic songs! You can find my photography on sale and display at Wilde Roast through the holidays.

The next week, on October 2nd, I was the featured artist on the First Friday Art Walk through downtown Bemidji. The Art Walk is a monthly event sponsored by local businesses. Each participating business has an artist of the month, and during October I was chosen to represent Bad Cat Creations, the funky novelty store and gift shop downtown. The owner of Bad Cat, Christina, is featuring my entire line of photo cards and prints (both framed and unframed) throughout the month. Pretty exciting!

Then last week, the local television station, Lakeland Public Television, contacted me to do a story on my artwork. One of their reporters, Ashley Soukup, came to my house last week and recorded an interview which aired on the 10 o'clock news last Friday. To access the broadcast, click here (it's at the end, 25:15). I feel that Ashley did a very nice job portraying the purpose and intent of my artwork. Preparing for the interview was also very helpful since I am writing an application for a Bush Artist Fellowship (BAF) grant for 2010. This grant would make it possible for me to continue traveling the world, shooting my pictures, blogging my stories, and then sharing them with people--especially kids :o)

Part of my application process for the BAF has been to write an Artist's Statement about my work, what I do and what it means to me. Here is what I've drafted so far:

"My passion is to teach and inspire people through my photography. By traveling to destinations throughout the world and documenting my experiences, my goals as a teacher and artist are to make visible what might have gone overlooked; remind people to pause and notice the beauty that surrounds them; and help replace a fear of the world with curiosity.

I find my most powerful work comes from moments of discovery and during times of solitude and introspection. Whether the photo is of a brilliant sunset, rugged mountain with a single tree or animal in its natural habitat, my focus is on revealing the beauty contained within that moment. I want to remind people wherever they may be to pause and notice the beauty around them—to move into a state of appreciation for something they literally didn’t see before.

My photography invites both questions and curiosity: "Take a look at the world. What do you see? What interests you? What is beautiful? What is a little scary? What do you want to know more about?" I strive to instill a sense of courage in those who appreciate my work by motivating them to venture out and experience the world. In so doing, they may stumble upon something profound along the way.

To that end, in fall 2008 I introduced my photos and stories to junior high Geography classes through Michael on the Move—an opportunity for kids to learn about the world through my travel blogs. Broadcasting from India via the Internet, I spoke with kids and answered questions about my photos from India, Asia, and Europe. In winter 2009 I brought Michael on the Move to the classroom, making a personal appearance and connecting with the kids directly to share my stories. In response, many students were inspired to continue the conversation by making comments on my blog. One student wrote, “I've always wanted to travel to India and experience the different culture…you have inspired me.”

During summer 2009, I moved my artwork into the community by sharing it in art shows, craft fairs, and gallery receptions at local cafés and gift shops. Inspiration from the World is my first artistic endeavor for which I have a book, photo cards, and prints. I chose to focus on this theme as a way to connect with the community and share my favorite moments of inspiration with others. I was also interviewed by a local television station that featured a story about my mission to teach people about the world through my photography. These experiences have added richly to my artistic and personal development, confidence, and sense of purpose.

Whether I am speaking in the community, visiting a local school, displaying my photography in an art show, or connecting with people online through my photo galleries and blogs, my objective remains the same: to teach and inspire people through my photography."

We'll have to wait and see how it turns out... I've still got some editing to do. But the process of writing the statement is amazing--it really allows me to put things into perspective. After all, I want to continue to focus on what I love as I'm implementing the new business plan for my life!

Have a great week.

The Ambassador