Everglades Day and Majorie Stoneman Douglas- April 7, 2019

Shero. Activist. Inspiration. Legacy.

All words to describe a woman I grew up revering as a modern goddess, in the sense of maternalism for wetlands.

Today, is Everglades Day and more importantly, Majorie Stoneman Douglas’ birthday. I learned about her greatness while in elementary school. Everything I know today about the importance of the Florida Everglades is a combination of living here and reading the work of Majorie.

While in law school, I wrote a paper about restoring the Florida Everglades. Majorie is one of the people who inspired that vision, but also brought to light why we MUST protect this wetland. Today, I would like to honor her by asking you to donate to the Friends of the Everglades Fund. They continue to fight for protection of the wetlands.

The Everglades is a one of a kind ecosystem, found only in Florida. Yes, there are other wetlands. Yes, there are other marshes. However, there is only one Florida Everglades. An ecosystem filled with so much biodiversity. Where the limestone and the aquifers are vital to the survival of Florida’s fresh drinking water. The animals and plant life depend on the restoration of the flow south.

The mangroves of the everglades acts of the first sign of defense when a hurricane wants to make landfall. Those roots are meant to dig deep into the ground and act as a natural barrier. The animals work together to carve the paths of the river and it flows and brings forth all the nutrients for plants and animal to survive.

Rapidly, we have destroyed the Everglades. Taking more and more land for development. By removing more water. Adding invasive plant and animal species which are destroying this once vibrant ecosystem. Lack of water flow from Lake Okeechobee is stifling the “River of Grass”, making it a barren wasteland.

The history stems all the way to the Army Corp of Engineers. I could sit here and talk about their involvement and the fact they destroyed the everglades creating all of these canals for waterfront properties. Also, the other culprits are those involved in “Big Sugar”, which is heavily lobbied here in Florida. Sugar = Poison. Yes, you read that correctly. Did you know the US subsidizes the price of sugar, just like they do gasoline! Mind-blowing. The East Agricultural Area is located right outside of Lake Okeechobee and that is where the water must be restore. Dilemma, that water is tainted and polluted. This is actually also the cause of the lovely Red Tide, I think you’ve heard of it. (The dumping of polluted water of the east and west coast of Florida, pouring into the estuaries. – FYI estuaries is where ALL baby sea life start, great start, poisoned water, but I digress).

What will you do to change your impact? We must stand up and speak to our government. Hold them accountable for the environmental atrocities and reckless negligence forced upon the Everglades.

I am doing my part, now it is your turn!

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The End of the White Rhino

What are you going to do to help prevent the extinction of animals? Poaching is not necessary. The horns of these animals are made of the same material as our fingernails and hair. Why is it so coveted throughout the world? If there is no demand then there should be no supply. The people who poach and kill many of these innocent creatures are doing it out of desperation to feed and support their families. They are forced. The extinction problem is a human caused problem.

Humans have an obsession with believing we are indestructible and our actions hold no consequences. Quite the contrary, animals such as the White Rhino coexisted with dinosaurs for millions of years before our existence. We single handily destroyed this species. For what? To exploit their horns and carve designs on them? Supposedly according to ancient culturales they held healing powers. However, we are not as ignorant as our ancestors. We have science that has proven we do not need any of those materials from a Rhino or any other animal such as elephants, tigers, pangolins and more.

We must come together to preserve what is late of the wildlife. Humans created this problem. Now, humans have to solve it.

What will you do to help?

Sometimes We just Have to Let Go…

This post is a little more personal today. Especially, since it is Valentine’s Day. A day that is supposed to represent love, however, love should be expressed everyday that you are present on this earth. Love is not just felt from one human to another, a significant other, or family, but friendship too. Love is felt through all aspects of life. Some people even love inanimate objects, fictional characters, a person from history and most importantly, animals and nature.

The love of friendships is one of the most difficult loves. As the saying goes, “friends come and go”. Friends are supposed to be people that you care about, you care about their success, their happiness and health. Friends are the people you choose to be a part of your life. These people become your extended family. They make the choices to stay actively involved and you make the choice to keep them in your life.

However, as time moves forward, so do people. People most definitely change. We adapt through our experiences, both good and bad. Some people become more loving and forgiving, while others close up and no longer want to trust. Life is an eternal balance, one we have to live for ourselves. The balance of friendship is not the easiest. Some people get wrapped up in their significant others, while others are wrapped up in their work. These circumstances change the way we perceive ourselves and the people we once knew.

Sometimes these changes do not come at a time where we would like them to be. Nor do they come with a manual on how to accept the changes. Friends may sometimes think they have your best interest at hand, but may not execute it in the right way. Or they are just dealing with their own battles and are projecting their issues in their advice to you.

If you are currently going through a struggle in your life and the people you once depended on are not there for you. It is okay. They may have served their purpose in your life at a different point. You cannot force some one to stay in your life or to love you the way they once did. You may have noticed a change in their behavior towards you and that makes you no longer want to be around them, and that is okay too.

So what if you have mutual friends, in the grand scheme of things we are adults, we are human, and we are entitled to be around only those that care to be around us. You are allowed to let go of people that were once the best people in your life. If they no longer are the person you remember or their changes are ones you do not agree with, then let go and move forward.  No one has the right to make you feel bad about your struggles, about your choices, or how you handles challenges. That is a person who needs to self reflect on their actions, maybe they will, maybe they won’t. Either way that choice is not yours to make or to dwell on. We have to do what is right by us and what will make us happy.

Our society is too focused on what other people perceive of us and we are too concerned with how to act for the sake of others. The world will not stop moving because a friendship has come to an end. If these people are meant to be in your life, your paths will cross again. If not, do not wish them ill, just send positive thoughts for their life and move forward.

Most importantly, never stop loving. Love yourself first, love and come in tune with nature, the savior of life. Through all darkness there is always light and love. Be true to yourself. Happy Valentine’s Day.

 

Philosophical Moment: Just Stop and Listen

Have you ever just stopped to listen to the sounds all around you? To inhale and exhale the scent of the earth? Yes, the earth has a unique smell. In the morning, when the ground is full of dew, there is a certain scent. Then as the day wears on and the sun is beating down, there is a different more neutral scent. At dusk and nightfall, the earth yet again, smells different with the coolness of the air.

As the morning comes, the earth is stirring during feeding time for most creatures. Listening to birds as they sing to each other. Right now it is Spring in Florida. I am lucky enough to live in an area where we have “woods” in the back. In the rainy season there is a creek that forms and we get to see turtles, frogs in every stage of life, to predatory birds, babies that are bunnies, birds, small fish, and so much more. On my runs, with Tolkien of course, we spot eagles soaring above us. They are indeed majestic.

When I run, I use that time to reconnect with nature. I block out everything from the day, all the stress of the modern world. I just allow myself to literally become one with nature. I find myself just as inquisitive as my pup, as we go on trails. We both look for alligators (duh, it is Florida), in the canals, or different fish and even snakes! This is time to listen to the wind as it moves through the trees. I’ll get all “Pocahontas” for a minute…I do “Listen to the colors of the wind” and (“Listen with your heart” is tattooed on me). Something about the meaning behind that song has always resonated with me since I was a child. It is a beautiful story the earth has to speak to us, we just have to listen.

Even with the cars on the street driving by as we run, it is easy to tune them out and just focus on my breathing and what the earth has to offer. When I listen to the sounds of the wind, rustling of the leaves on the ground, the crunching of sticks and brush by animals hidden from sight, it brings a sense of awareness. We are not alone. Other sentient beings exist and live among us. It is very easy to forget that in our mundane lives. Just because you have a pet, it does not equate to connecting with your inner soul and the earth. Most of our animals are our family and are given a sense of privilege already, so they do not count.

Take at least one day a week to go outside and just, listen. Listen to the sounds of the earth. If you do not live somewhere where you can just go in your yard, then go to the park, beach, river, lake, forest, whatever natural area you can find. Take a notebook, and just sit and listen. Write down what you hear.  Write down how you feel. Is there a new sense of self? Sense of awareness? Awareness of yourself or of other things? Sense of peace and harmony? I would love for you all to come back and write on this post and share what you experienced. It is amazing what one day in nature can do for your sanity, hectic life, and just a self-love project.

What is Animal Law?

When people meet me and ask what type of law do I intend to practice, they are always pretty baffled. I have a true passion for protecting those that are voiceless. Most animals embody the meaning of voiceless. Animals do not have their own voice, their choices are made for them by humans, their actions are chosen by humans, their very existence is controlled by our actions. Animals are more than just “chattel”, ( legal jargon for- property). However, our laws do not protect animals as living sentient beings, they are seen as a means to an end. Ultimately, that end is for the pure purpose of humans and not to lead a full life. A sentient being is a “creature” or mammal that has the capacity to suffer and feel pain, which is all living and breathing creatures.

While I was in law school, I became the President of our “animal law club” properly known as Student Animal Legal Defense Fund (SALDF). Being president was not only an honor, but it afforded me opportunities and experiences in the Animal Law realm that I never knew existed. As President, I became very involved and was able to promote more awareness, thanks to the hard work of our national chapter, Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF).

I wanted to give a proper definition of what animal law actually is. Below is an excerpt from ALDF’s website and I hyperlinked the subsection to their website!

ALDF is one of the pioneering organizations that is responsible for aiding animal liberation around the country. I was very honored to have attended the Animal Law Conference in Portland, Oregon in 2015. Throughout the rest of my blog posts, I intend to elaborate more on Animal Law (as well as Environmental Law) and touch on different facets of the law regarding animals and their treatment. Be sure to stay tuned!

What is Animal Law?

“It’s a combination of statutory and case law in which the nature – legal, social or biological – of nonhuman animals is an important factor. It encompasses companion animalswildlife, and animals used in entertainmentresearch, and raised for food.

It permeates and affects most traditional areas of the law – including tort, contract, criminal, trust/estates, family, environmental, administrative, and constitutional law. Examples of this intersection include: animal custody disputes in divorces and separations, veterinary malpractice caseshousing disputes: “no pets” policies and discrimination laws, damages cases involving the wrongful death or injury to a companion animal, enforceable trusts for companion animals, and criminal law issues, encompassing domestic violence and anti-cruelty laws.”

Again, the above is taken directly from Animal Legal Defense Fund’s website. I will give a more thorough analysis in this post, or a new one! ( I have a huge book from my Animal Law class, as well all the research and work I have done thus far.

As always: peace, love, and world peace ❤

Introducing: Tolkien the Adventurer

Introducing: Tolkien the Adventurer
This is our first work trip together! I must say having my furchild with me for work has brought great peace to me. It is incredible how much a small creature can impact our lives. Today, as any day, I am most thankful for, Tolkien. He just had his adoptaversary three days ago with me. I have had him for two years and when I adopted him, he was only two and a half weeks old! He is naturally the perfect little character. We are in Pensacola, FL for the first time and this was the pose he gave me at the beach. Could not have been more alert and that comical face with sand on his mouth. Moments like these show us that: perfection exists everyday, we just have to pay attention. ❤

Sol = Sun = Ra ☀️

The sun brings forth life from every facet. With the early morning dew, comes the rising sun. It alerts the sleeping world it is time to awaken. Feeding for many creatures, birds singing and praising the glorious rays. The clouds transforming as the sun illuminated the sky. “Sol” is the Spanish word for the sun. It gives that sense of peace and happiness as it burns bright. “Ra” is the name for the sun god from the ancient Egyptians. When the morning comes the sun is reborn and as it weakens throughout the day it dies to allow all to slumber. The earth gets cooler and the animals take flight. Many hide or burrow until the rebirth the next day. The sun is vital to life. Not only does it give heat, but plants thrive on it to grow and creature thrive on the vegetation. We just appreciate the sun for all its glory. Without light there’s only darkness. Be bright as the burning star that is the sun and be reborn everyday and give thanks. 🙏🏽✌🏽❤️🌎

Let’s try something new! Nature Reflection.

As you all know, I am aspiring to be an environmental and animal lawyer. In my Environmental Ethics class one of our assignments is to spend twenty minutes in nature. I’ve done the assignment three times because it is once per week. I have found in that time I really do become one, reflect, and feel my connection with the earth. I know it sounds crazy, but I’ve grown to look forward to those twenty minutes. I will now be posting my nature reflections on here. I hope that it inspires you the way it has brought forth new meaning to life for me. (disclaimer: I am not the most amazing at grammar and obviously I am working on it! lol who wants an inept attorney!! lol)

Crash, boom, clang! From clear bright blue skies there was a dramatic change in the wind. Suddenly, there were strong gusts, where one feels almost weightless. Again, crash, boom, clang! The roar of the skies grew stronger as the skies continued to darken. The rush of fear covers my body because I knew I did not want to get wet, but sometimes it is inevitable especially when the oncoming downpour loomed over. I stayed, listening and watching the sky. The ever strikingly bright lightening took over the skies. Watching in awe, thinking to myself how something so beautiful could be so deadly. In the distance I hear the fury of the skies again but it is illuminated once more, as if lighting a path into the unknown. It almost seems impossible to not stand there and continue to gaze upon this wondrous phenomenon. Then it begins. My initial reaction is to run and scream, but I don’t I allow the water to cascade off my skin. The water is cold and piercing, yet welcomed because I have had the pleasure of witnessing something so graceful that it seems I am being blessed by the skies. I smile because there is nothing in this world that can replicate mother nature nor the effects she gives ones’ soul. The spirits connect and there all my worries are washed away and it is just me and rain. It helps to bring forth new life and I give it gratitude for allowing me to be in her presence.

~By: Elizabeth G-Vasquez