In honor of Mesothelioma Awareness Day

Few weeks ago a beautiful, inspiring and strong young lady contacted me and shared her story with me. Her name is Heather Von St. James. Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma 8 years ago – a rare and preventable cancer caused only by exposure to asbestos. She had just given birth to her beautiful daughter, when she was given 15 months to live. After the life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung, Heather made it her mission to protect the innocent victims and spread awareness about mesothelioma and the dangers of asbestos.

Heather and Family

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity called the mesothelium. The only known cause to mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. The sad fact is that asbestos is still not banned in all countries across the world.

Mesothelioma is dangerous because it commonly sits dormant in the body for 20-50 years after initial exposure to asbestos.

September 26th, 2014 marks the 10th anniversary of Mesothelioma Awareness Day and in honor of it, I want to share some facts and help spread awareness and I do believe that together we can help the victims and change the regulations related to asbestos.

  • Asbestos is a naturally occuring mineral that is classified as a known human carcinogen, because of its association with mesothelioma.
  • On average, 30 million pounds of asbestos are still being used in the United States today. The substance can still be found in many homes, schools, and commercial or industrial buildings.
  • Asbestos is used as building material in several developing countries throughout the world, including India and Brazil. Industrialized nations such as China, Russia, and Canada also continue to mine and use asbestos as material for consumer products.
  • This year 10,000 Americans will die of asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma and 200,000 people will be living with asbestos.
  • The EPA estimates that there are asbestos containing materials in most of the nations approximately 107,000 primary and secondary schools and 733,000 public and commercial buildings.
  • Between 2,500 and 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year. On average, they are given 10 months to live.

What can you do to help? – Re-blog, share and spread the word on social media to raise awareness. One way you could do it is through Heather’s awareness page. You can also make a donation through MARF (Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation) donation form. For more information, see mesothelioma.com.

App of the day: 500px for Chrome

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Get inspired. Lose yourself in an endless supply of breathtaking photos.

This is the phrase you see when you open 500px.com and the website does exactly what it promises – I easily lose track of time when browsing magnificent, beyond-beautiful photos on their website. Now that I found 500px at Chrome Web Store, this experience is even more enjoyable.

You can either browse the pictures without registration or you can create an account and upload your own photos and interact with the community. Registration through social media accounts is available and is very easy. Another great thing offered by 500px after the registration is 14 days trial of “Awesome” plan, which allows you to upload unlimited amount of photos and other great features.

App’s design is very clean and easy-to-use. There are ‘Popular’, ‘Editor’s choice’, ‘Upcoming’ and ‘Fresh’ feeds. Once you find the photographer you like, you can follow him/her and his/her works will appear in the ‘Flow’.

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You can search photos by typing keyword. See how many beautiful photos I found of peonies.

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Have a beautiful and blessed Saturday!

xx,

Natella

Cuteness of the day: Woody

I love bunnies. I have toy bunnies, I have bunny t-shirts, I have bunny decorations, I have done sooo many drawings and sketches of bunnies and I even had 2 real bunnies. Everyone who knows my love for bunnies, gifts me something with an image of a bunny. They are so adorable! :)

And now I want you to meet the new love I found on Instagram – Woody. Woody is a mini lop bunny living in Australia.

Cuteness of the day - Woody by One Happy Blog

For more cute pictures of Woody, follow him on Instagram.

xx,

Natella

Product of the day: Volumea Volumizing Conditioning Spray by Rene Furterer

When it comes to hair products, I always look for something that will give me results without weighing hair down or making it greasy. I already told you about my favorite serum, and now it’s time to tell about my second favorite product – Volumizing Conditioning Spray by french brand Rene Furterer from their line Volumea.

The shampoo and conditioner from the very same line has been on InStyle’s top beauty products, so you can imagine the whole line must be good. I haven’t tried all products from the line yet, but this one deserves a mention. It is lightweight, has a very nice smell (which evaporates shortly, so it won’t interfere with your perfume) and it does exactly what it promises – gives volume boost without weighing down. I have naturally wavy hair, and what I especially love about this product is that it doesn’t straighten or weigh down my locks. My curls are bouncy and after air drying hair they have that perfect ‘sexy beach waves’ kind of look.

Rene Furterer Volumea Volumizing Conditioning Spray - One Happy BlogHere’s a little bit more info about the product:

  • DESCRIPTION

    This leave-in volumizing conditioning spray detangles, tames fly-aways and weightlessly pumps hair with natural looking volume from roots to ends.

  • ACTIVE INGREDIENTS & BENEFITS+
    • Natural Carob extract: Creates long-lasting volume
    • Cationic complex: Detangles hair
  • AROMA+

    Lemon, Thyme, Rose

  •  FULL LIST OF INGREDIENTS

    WATER (AQUA), SD ALCOHOL 39-C (ALCOHOL DENAT), VP/VA COPOLYMER, DEHYDROXANTHAN GUM (DEHYDROXANTHAN GUM), DISODIUM EDTA, FRAGRANCE (PARFUM), HYDROLYZED CERATONIA SILIQUA GUM EXTRACT, METHYLISOTHIAZOLINONE, PEG-12 DIMETHICONE, PEG-40 HYDROGENATED CASTOR OIL, SODIUM HYDROXIDE

  • DIRECTIONS

    After shampooing, spray all over toweldried hair. Do not rinse. Proceed to styling.

Program of the day: CCleaner by Piriform

Did you ever experience you computer running slow, the Internet tabs and windows freeze? The problem might be with ‘unnecessary data’ stored on your computer. When you browse different sites, open attachments and download different things from the Internet, cookies, temporary Internet files and other data may clog up the system and you need to clean it once in a while to free some disk space and make your computer run faster. This is just as important for your computer as routine maintenance for your car and luckily, you don’t need to spend a lot of money, there’s a free easy-to-use solution – CCleaner by Piriform.

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Some other features of CCleaner are safer browsing, registry clean-up, program uninstallation, start-up programs disablement and deletion of system restore points.

CCleaner is available for both, PC and Mac.

A preview is worth a thousand words, so:

How often should you run the CCleaner? – The answer depends on what you do on the web, but in general once a month should be enough. Don’t run it everyday, because your web pages will load slower then.

Artwork of the day: Happy Family

You might have seen my inspiration post recently, where I told you about lovely Kiana Underwood, her sweet family photos and her awesome blog Tulipina.

You might have also noticed that my inspiration posts turn into drawing / artwork of the day posts sooner or later :)

This time I was working with one of my favorite media – watercolors. The challenge was with using my paintbrushes. Apparently, I have either big ones that are great for the background, but not so good for smaller objects, or really thin one for the tiniest details. I had few in the middle, but they were synthetic brushes and while they’re great for acrylic paints, with watercolors they just don’t work the way I want them to work. I’ll need to buy few more kolinsky sable paintbrushes on my next trip to the art store.This time I tried to solve the problem by using only the tip of the brush for the faces and clothing.

I’m overall pleased with the result and I enjoyed painting this sketch. While it may not be a 100% photocopy and that wasn’t the point of this watercolor sketch anyway. The point was to show emotions, closeness, family ties and holding on to each other and to me that is a way to build a happy family.

         Artwork of the day - Happy Family by One Happy Blog

Product of the day: Brush Cleanser by Inglot

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I first came across Inglot’s brush cleanser a few months ago, when my dermatologist suggested it to disinfect the make-up brushes. Before that I used to clean them with liquid soap and warm water.

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I have seen few videos on YouTube on cleansing the make-up brushes – basically they just squirt the spray on the brush and then rinse it off with the paper towel or a cotton pad. I find this method too harsh for the bristles of the brush and I think this way you can easily damage the brush and that would be a pity especially if you own expensive brushes.

English: Liquid antibacterial soap on a person...
English: Liquid antibacterial soap on a person’s hand. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, here is what I do:

1. I squeeze out a bit of liquid antibacterial soap on the palm of my hand. Then I wet my brush in water and then in the liquid soap that’s already on the palm of my hand and gently move the brush around until most of the paint comes out of the brush.

2. Then I thoroughly rinse the brush with warm water till the brush is clean.

3. To disinfect the brush, I spray Inglot brush cleanser and then gently wipe it off the brush with paper towel.

4. I lay my brushes flat to dry.

Makeup brush.
Makeup brush. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This way has helped me to preserve my brushes in a great condition and I do such cleansing once a week or more, if required.

Inglot Brush Cleanser comes in a 150 ml bottle, which will last you for a very long time.

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And here is the ingredients list:

Inglot Brush Cleanser Ingredients by One Happy Blog

What is your routine for cleansing the brushes and what cleanser do you prefer?

Art of the day: ‘The Starry Night’ by Vincent Van Gogh

Vincent Van Gogh is definitely one of my favorite artists and the one I feel I can relate to the most. Apart from sharing the love for a bit exaggerated, magical colors and shapes, we unite on battling the same monsters. Depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, constant self-doubt and lack of confidence in his abilities and his works. I have experienced very similar feelings and fears since my adolescent years and battled them with varied success over the years. But, this post is not going to be about depression or sadness, on a contrary, there is a positive point I want to make.

I have done extensive research on the painting, the artist, his life, vision and meaning behind the painting and I want to bring the most interesting facts, quotes, and bits and pieces of information I found across many different sources.

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Type Oil on canvas Dimensions 73.7 cm × 92.1 cm (29 in × 36 1⁄4 in) Location Museum of Modern Art, New York City

Just as Van Gogh, I’ve always been attracted to the night. To him night was ‘more alive than the day’ and was the time of creativity, reflection and meditation after a day of activity and it brought with it a feeling of security and comfort. It was also kind of metaphor for the cycle of life. And he linked this with the changing of the seasons. However, van Gogh was aware that darkness could also conjure up feelings of loneliness and anguish.

The night sky  is mesmerizing. It looks as the stars in the painting are swirling and moving within it’s frame. You feel captured in this magical place and you don’t want to leave. ‘Starry night’ is the mixture of imagination and reality. While the village and location of the stars in the sky might reflect what he really saw from his window at a hospital in Saint Rémy, the church resembles with his memories of his motherland, the Netherlands.

When he looked at the night sky, he wrote to his brotherTheo in August 1888, he saw “the mysterious brightness of a pale star in the infinite.”
As he wrote to his sister Willemien van Gogh from Arles, “It often seems to me that the night is even more richly colored than the day, colored with the most intense violets, blues and greens. If you look carefully, you’ll see that some stars are lemony, others have a pink, green, forget-me-not blue glow. And without labouring the point, it’s clear to paint a starry sky it’s not nearly enough to put white spots on blue-black.” (678, 14 September 1888)
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In a letter written to Émile Bernard in April 1888, Van Gogh expressed his desire to paint the night sky, and questioned whether he could achieve his intention by painting from nature as the Impressionists did:

The imagination is certainly a faculty which we must develop and it alone can bring us to creation of a more exalting and consoling nature … A star-spangled sky, for instance, that’s a thing I would like to try to do … But how can I manage unless I make up my mind to work … from imagination?

In Arles, in 1888 and 1889, van Gogh’s paintings took on a mystical, dreamlike quality. Straight lines became wavy, colors intensified, thick paint became thicker, sometimes squeezed straight onto the canvas from the tube. Some of these changes were later taken as a sign of his madness, and even van Gogh feared that “some of my pictures certainly show traces of having been painted by a sick man.” But there was premeditation and technique behind these distortions, as he tried to put a sense of life’s mysteries into paint. In a letter to Wil, he explained that “the bizarre lines, purposely selected and multiplied, meandering all through the picture, may fail to give the garden a vulgar resemblance, but may present it to our minds as seen in a dream, depicting its character, and at the same time stranger than it is in reality.”

The artist’s focus on the relationship between dreams and reality—and life and death—had a profound meaning for him, as he had confided to Theo in a letter a year before his first crisis in Arles. “Looking at the stars always makes me dream, as simply as I dream over the black dots representing towns and villages on a map. Why, I ask myself, shouldn’t the shining dots of the sky be as accessible as the black dots on the map of France? Just as we take the train to get to Tarascon or Rouen, we take death to reach a star.”
“And these trees that are drawn almost like flames of fire very much allude to Van Gogh’s ongoing concern with afterlife, with eternity, with death, and with all these different forces, which indeed he does associate with the night.”

There are various interpretations of Starry Night and one is that this canvas depicts hope. It seems that van Gogh was showing that even with darkness it is still possible to see light in the windows of the houses, and with shining stars filling the sky, there is always light to guide you. It seems that van Gogh was finally being cured of his illness and had essentially found his heaven.

 

The drawing Cypresses in Starry Night, a reed pen study executed by Van Gogh after the painting in 1889. Originally held at Kunsthalle Bremen, today part of the disputed Baldin Collection
The drawing Cypresses in Starry Night, a reed pen study executed by Van Gogh after the painting in 1889. Originally held at Kunsthalle Bremen, today part of the disputed Baldin Collection

Another popular theory is about the biblical meaning behind the ‘Starry Night’.

Perhaps the real reason why the Van Gogh painting is so famous and appreciated today is not due to the negative emotions that may have initially inspired the artwork, but the strong feelings of hope Van Gogh conveys through the bright lights of the stars shining down over the dark landscape at night. In 1888, Van Gogh wrote a personal letter in which he described “a great starlit vault of heaven…one can only call God.” With a theologian for an uncle, Van Gogh himself was also religious, even serving as a missionary in his younger days. Many art scholars believe there is a hidden religious meaning to Starry Night. In the painting, the moon and stars in the night sky are surrounded by large halos of light while a church steeple stands out above the smaller, less detailed buildings in the town below. In fact, some art critics find a biblical meaning in the number of stars painted in Starry Night that alludes to specific Bible verse in Genesis.

Then he dreamed still another dream and told it to his brothers, saying, “Look, I have dreamed another dream. And this time, the sun, the moon and the eleven stars bowed down to me.” Genesis 37:9

 

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In a letter to his brother, Theo, van Gogh refers to Leo Tolstoy´s book My Religion and its lack of belief in resurrection. His use of the word ‘quiet’ and reference to Tolstoy´s book indicates that the night sky made him feel calm and brought to mind eternity.

Why did Van Gogh paint exactly 11 stars? By painting exactly eleven stars in the Starry Night painting, Vincent Van Gogh might have been directly referencing Genesis 37:9, a key verse in the biblical account of Joseph, a “dreamer” and an outcast in the company of his eleven older brothers. It isn’t hard to see why Van Gogh might have identified with Joseph in the Bible. In the Bible, Joseph was thrown into a pit, sold into slavery, and underwent years of imprisonment, much like Van Gogh did the last years of his life in the Arles asylum. No matter what Joseph did he could not receive the acceptance or respect of his 11 older brothers. Likewise, despite his best efforts, as an artist Van Gogh failed to receive the recognition of art critics of his day.

Van Gogh considered his now-iconic The Starry Night, which he painted from his barred window at Saint-Rémy, a failed attempt at abstraction. Before leaving Saint-Rémy, he wrote to Émile Bernard: “I have been slaving away on nature the whole year, hardly thinking of impressionism or of this, that and the other. And yet, once again I let myself go reaching for stars that are too big—a new failure—and I have had enough of it.”

Theo liked the painting but was worried. He wrote Vincent that “the expression of your thoughts on nature and living creatures shows how strongly you are attached to them. But how your brain must have labored, and how you have risked everything….” Vincent didn’t live to know that in his reaching for the stars, he had created a masterpiece.

While Van Gogh died a poor and disrespected artist, he is now one of the most famous and reproduced painters today. Within the madness, there was genius.

“It is inspiring to see how a man so plagued by sorrow and despair could turn his inner battles into glowing, vibrant canvases that still speak a message of hope and joy more than 100 years later”

Following the recent news on Robbin Williams death, I spent a lot of time thinking about how many lives could have been saved, how many wonderful things could have been created, if they did find the strength to say to themselves: “I am strong. I am valuable. I am worthy”. If only they knew the impact they have on the people around them, on the world and the Universe. If only they could see their problems from the perspective of eternal starry night sky. If only there was a family member or a friend holding their hand that would tell them: “I care for you. You are loved.”

If you came across this post and you’re battling depression and anxiety, I want you to know that I love you and you’re not lonely.  While I’m battling my own hardships, I understand what you’re going through and you can reach me out to vent, to cry, to smile and laugh and while I’m no specialist, I will hold your hand and give you all the support I can give. My e-mail is 1happyblog@outlook.com.

If you have a family member, a friend or anybody else suffering from mental disorders, please don’t just ignore them. A lot of times we are seen as people with ‘personal weaknesses’ or ‘drowned in self-pity’ and our condition is not taken seriously. There are times when we cannot help ourselves and if we could, do you really think that we would stay depressed and miserable? Sometimes, a small gesture, a nice word or just being by our side, can mean the world. Spread some love and I’m sure it will come back to you multiplied.

For more inspiration, I urge you to watch Doctor Who: ‘Vincent and the Doctor’ (Season 5, Episode 10). It literally brought tears to my eyes.

I’m going to leave you with a tribute to Vincent, a song called ‘Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)’ by Don McLean.

“Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)”

Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul

Shadows on the hills
Sketch the trees and the daffodils
Catch the breeze and the winter chills
In colors on the snowy linen land

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

Starry, starry night
Flaming flowers that brightly blaze
Swirling clouds in violet haze
Reflect in Vincent’s eyes of china blue

Colors changing hue
Morning fields of amber grain
Weathered faces lined in pain
Are soothed beneath the artist’s loving hand

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now

For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left in sight
On that starry, starry night

You took your life, as lovers often do
But I could’ve told you Vincent
This world was never meant for
One as beautiful as you

Starry, starry night
Portraits hung in empty halls
Frame-less heads on nameless walls
With eyes that watch the world and can’t forget

Like the strangers that you’ve met
The ragged men in ragged clothes
The silver thorn of bloody rose
Lie crushed and broken on the virgin snow

Now I think I know
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

They would not listen, they’re not listening still
Perhaps they never will

 

Beautiful soul, Vincent, I know I’ll meet you one day somewhere across the Universe and we’ll paint the sky purple and yellow.

For further reading:

Inspiration of the day: Happy family

Tulipina Instagram photo - One Happy Blog

Inspiration comes from everywhere. I’ve been following Instagram account of Kiana Underwood for some time and always loved her pictures of pretty flowers, bouquets and flower arrangements. Her family photos are just as adorable. They are so real, so fun and full of emotions.

Btw, Kiana is the owner of Tulipina, a boutique San Francisco-area floral design studio and a blogger. Check out her blog, it’s really cool and stay tuned for my watercolor sketch based on above photo.