List of Links July 2018

Welcome! Below are listed links I found during July 2018 that sparked my interest. I think they are worth sharing so that’s what this post is about.

I create one of these posts every month. I share a few of them in my monthly newsletter, Updates for Curious Minds (you can subscribe here and read the archives here), and share others on Twitter and Facebook.

And I am always interested in what other people find. Please share any links that you found interesting, informative and/or funny in the comments below or on social media.

To Map The Human – Gaiutra Bahadur shares memories of her grandmother, including the fact she illegally entered the United States in the 1980s. As she works to create, and complete, a map of her grandmother’s life, Bahadur wonders what would have happened if her grandmother was alive today and if she was found to be illegal.

Color or Fruit? On the Unlikely Etymology of “Orange” – Curious about how the fruit and color got the name orange? Click the link to find out!

10 Books with Incredibly Clever Hidden Messages – Even more to puzzle out! How many of these books have you read, and did you catch the hidden message(s)? I remember reading the one mentioned in Harry Potter but did not catch the hidden message.

Did a Medieval Purge of Black Cats Cause the Black “Death? I am fascinated with Medieval art and history and I love cats, so of course, I’m going to be curious about this article! Also, I have an idea for a mystery/thriller fiction book, and part of it is going to be set in medieval England just before the Black Death, so I’m also taking notes for that project. The article is fun and easy to read, and source documents are listed for further research.

The Romanovs’ Art of Survival – Many members of the Romanov family perished in Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution, yet many survived, creating new lives in other countries around the world. It turns out, many of them were talented artists, a family tradition, and found creating art helped them cope with living in an uncertain world.

Visiting A Secret Museum In The Middle Of The Uzbek Desert – The world’s second largest collection of Soviet avant-guard art was collected by one man who opened a museum in the Uzbekistan desert to display them. Fascinating story about the man and the works he saved.

A Brief History of Cryptography in Crime Fiction – Ever try solving a cryptograph? Many authors have used codes and the breaking of them in crime fiction and mystery stories, and Gray Basnight takes a look at some of them. Bonus: he even includes a cryptograph at the end of his article for readers to solve!

How World War One Gave Rise to the Traditional Mystery – If you enjoy reading traditional mysteries (or detective fiction), check out this article. The genre many of us love (yes, me too!) came about in response to what people went through during WWI.

Mice Were Wildly Popular In Children’s Books In The ’90s – But Why? – Click the link to find out! 🙂

A Winnie-the-Pooh Illustration Has Sold For More Than Any Other Book Illustration Ever – Pooh is in the news these days with the release of the movie Christopher Robin (if anyone has seen it, please let me know what you think). The illustration, a map of the Hundred Acre Woods, sold at Sotheby’s for $570,000!!! You can see the map here.

Rereading Childhood Books Can Be Therapeutic – What was your favorite childhood book? When was the last time you read it? Turns out it can be good therapy to do so, rediscovering an old favorite and a piece of our younger selves.

When I think of my favorite childhood book, the one that comes to mind first is Andrew Henry’s Meadow by Doris Burns. I was delighted to find a blog post that tells about the book, quotes a bit of it, and has pictures of the illustrations so I can relieve it again while sharing with you. There is something magical about going out and creating a home that is just right for you, then helping others do the same. I still love the low-tech ways Andrew Henry solves everyday problems (like the paddle wheel in the stream to power the hand fan for a breeze). I need to buy a copy of this book, and read and dream again!

The Dos and Don’ts of Supporting Your Local Library –  Libraries have played a huge role in my life (I even wrote about it earlier this year), and this article tells me that things I already do – check out books both in person and online – benefit the library. Now, I need to do more “dos” from the list.

These Are the Best Songs to Dance To, According to Computer Science – And now for something fun! Agree with this list or frustrated they left your favorite song to dance to off the list? Not familiar with some of the songs? Search for them and listen for an afternoon pick-up.

Painted Bones

Growing up in the country, we always had a couple of dogs, our version of an alarm system. For a treat, Momma would give them bones leftover after cooking roasts and pork chops, and they’d carry them into the yard and happily gnaw on them for hours. Sometimes my sister and I would step on them while playing outside. It hurt for a minute but was just a part of our life.

Until that afternoon.

I was five or 6, my sister three years younger. Daddy was mowing the yard, and Great-Aunt Kate, who lived with us, was walking around outside checking on her chickens and flowers. Suddenly, there was a loud “clunk” as the mower picked up a bone and forcefully threw it out the side of the mower and into Aunt Kate. Daddy stopped the mower and jumped off while yelling to Momma to come help. Aunt Kate had been badly hurt.

After they got her in bed, my sister and I were given the job of walking through the yard and picking up all the pieces of bones we could find, to prevent this happening again. As we found bits and pieces, we proudly piled them on the steps to the back door. When we thought we had found them all, I told Momma, who thanked me and told me we could go back to playing.

My sister, however, had another idea.

Gathering her watercolors and brushes, she proceeded to paint the bones we had collected. Nothing fancy, just transparent blotches of colors on the dirty, chewed bones. Momma came out as she was finishing, and oohed and aahed over them, telling her what a good job she had done.

A few days later, a friend visited to see how Aunt Kate was doing. As Momma described all that had happened, she showed her the painted bones. The friend looked at them 0and said, “how creative!”

It was creative to see the bones differently, not as trash, but as a canvas to create on. It was creative take something that had caused pain and beautify it. And what I felt was that since I didn’t think of it, I was not creative. I think I’ve always believed that you either are creative, or you aren’t. It isn’t something to be learned or developed. And since I didn’t have the idea to paint the bones, I wasn’t creative.

Every time I have difficulty writing my stories, my first thought is I’m not meant to be writing and need to just move on to something else. Every time I look at Instagram and see the beautiful photographs, see the creative ideas people have for sharing their stories, I wonder why I have trouble coming up with ideas to post, and think, yet again, that I’m not creative. But I am tired of holding myself back, tired of assuming I’m not creative and want to challenge the assumption I’ve held for too many years.

I want to expand my definition of what creativity is. It isn’t just about seeing old bones as a surface that can be decorated. Taking leftovers and making a good meal out of them is creative. Finding a way to bring in more money is creative. Finding a way to change your life, however slowly, is creative. Some of us may naturally be more creative, but it is a skill we can all learn. Maybe it is more like a muscle that needs to be exercised, developed, refined.

In 2018 I want to challenge myself to explore being creative. Tell myself, as often as I need to, that I am a creative person. Accept that some days writing is hard, and keep working on it anyway, because that is what creative people do – keep working and trying different things.

Let’s see where a creative mindset will lead me!

Listen to the audio version

Subscribe to the monthly newsletter “Writings For Curious Minds” to get the latest stories, links to interesting articles and tips for writers here.


I first heard about this year’s total eclipse from on a TV commercial. “I’ll have to watch that,” I thought. Later, I began to hear where the band of totality was going to be. We weren’t in it, but would be close enough to witness changes. As the day neared, excitement was growing, both in the media coverage and in me. I thought about getting eclipse glasses, but by now supplies were running out. Even with them I still wasn’t sure I’d take a look. After having cataract and LASIK surgery on both eyes last year, I did not want to do anything that might damage my eyes. Maybe I would do what I’d done in grade school during a partial eclipse – put a hole in a piece of paper and let the light shine through that onto the ground.

But I am trying to be more mindful, to live in the present moment, to really take notice of all that happens around me. I decided that instead of looking UP like everyone else, I’d look AROUND and notice how the earth was changing. How different would my yard look? Would the temperature cool noticeably? Would animals behave differently?

View as the elcipse began

As the eclipse began, I went outside and took pictures. I wanted to create a picture story of what I experienced. Coverage on the TV was showing what people in the path of totality were experiencing, and while I knew we would not get that, I was excited and curious to see what we would get. Every 10 minutes or so, I’d go back out to see what was happening. About 90 minutes after the start, we reached the greatest coverage.


I was disappointed.


There were noticeable changes but they were subtle. There was still plenty of sunlight casting overhead shadows on all objects. The light was different, but my phone’s camera couldn’t capture it. I wanted to describe it as if a cloud was blocking some of the light, but that wasn’t right either. It might have been compared to dusk, when you can

View at greatest coverage. Hard to notice any changes.

still see easily, yet it was coming from overhead and casting very short shadows. Not like the long shadows of evening at all. The temperature only dropped about 3 degrees F. A cooling breeze was noticeable, and this wasn’t the typical sea breeze we get in the afternoon. The birds were no where to be seen, and the lizards that normally run around our garden and patio were still there.

I consciously chose to do things different from most people. I wasn’t traveling to be in totality; I wasn’t going to use eclipse glasses. I was instead going to focus on what went on around me, and record my observations. A different way to experience the eclipse. And it was boring.

I didn’t have this great experience of observing nature. I didn’t have a great story to share. Changes were subtle and I couldn’t find the words to describe it. The photos weren’t showing what I was experiencing. I second-guessed my decision not to get eclipse glasses so I could have at least watched the moon pass across the sun. If I had seen the partial eclipse, I could have at least experienced – and talked about – that.

As I tried to stay present, I suddenly realized something. Although it was mid-afternoon, I didn’t need my sunglasses to walk around outside. I wasn’t squinting at all. Even on cloudy days, I often need them because of the glare. While that may not mean much to many people, to me it was extraordinary.

The minutes passed and more of the sun was exposed again. Light began returning to what it had been pre-eclipse. I had heard that we were to get 80% coverage, but I questioned if it was less. Back inside, I looked it up: nearly 90%. Just over 10% of the sun’s light, was shining down. This surprised me. Even from such a small part of the sun’s energy, the light and the heat were only slightly changed. A surprising reminder of the power of nature.

I wanted to have some great story to tell, a unique perspective that shed a different light (sorry about that pun) on the eclipse experience. And I had it; it wasn’t dramatic and exciting; it was a harder story to tell.

And maybe that is the point. By choosing to be present and look at the world around me, I noticed change that was small and subtle. I am left awed by the true power of the sun; even if nearly 90% of it is blocked, there is still light and heat reaching 93 million miles away.

Everyone has a story to tell. They aren’t always big and grand, and I don’t think they should be. It is in the small things, the often overlooked things, that life happens. It is also those things that can connect us and help us relate to one another. We can all share our #eclipse2017 stories, to see how our experiences were the same and how they were different. We can relate and we can learn. Perhaps that is the story that needs to be told.

What was the eclipse like for you? What did you notice? Please share your story in the comment!

Is Something Wrong With Me? Or Am I A Multipotentialite?

I’ve spent my entire life searching for my purpose, the ONE thing I am meant to do with the time I’ve been given. Instead, I’ve been drawn to a wide variety of unrelated things. I dive into learning about one, and when I get to a certain point, something else grabs my attention and I’m ready to move on and learn about it. I often return to my earlier interests, but not always. I feel like I am a “Jill of all trades” and master of none.

I thought something was wrong with me. Why couldn’t I figure it out my one thing and then stick with it? Could I not make a decision? Was I lazy? Did I have ADD? I didn’t know anyone else like me, and I envied those who had always had a clear sense of who they were and what they were meant to do.

Then I saw this post on the Art of Nonconformity blog featuring Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk about multipotentialites. I was thrilled – and quite relieved – to discover that there is nothing wrong with me, and that I am not alone. Just knowing this has changed my view of myself, and helped me focus on how to create a life that is right for me. I want to embrace my natural tendency, change who I am, or force myself to work in ways that ignore my true self.

Does this sound like you? Check out the Terminology page at to learn more.

I tend toward the simultaneous end of the multipotentialite spectrum, so I often work on several diverse things at once. Other multipotentialites shift in a more consecutive order, going from one things to another.


Since I never stuck with anything long enough to become an “expert”, I couldn’t develop a career from any of them. Part of me always felt that if I could just make money at it, I would keep interested, but I’m not sure that is true. Now that I am dedicated to being self-employeed, I am trying to find ways to turn my multiple and varied interests into income producing sources, especially passive income, so I can go on to something else without losing what I’ve put into it.

My first area of focus is how I plan my time. How do I keep track of multiple areas that I want to work on? How do I organize all these pieces that are my life? How do I set goals and make plans beyond today? How do I keep track of all the pieces I need to get done for each area so I don’t forget them, and so I can see I am making progress? How do I not drive myself crazy? My next post will take a look at what I’ve used in the past, which parts work and which parts don’t.

Are you a multipotentialite? Do you have a planning system that works for you? I’d love for you to share in the comments so we can all benefit.