September 15th, 2014

How to know when you are ready to conquer the world:

Today I watched a video about Mehmed the Conqueror that told about how he knew that his people were ready to conquer Constantinople.  According to the video he disguised himself as a common person and went into the market place.  He went to the first stall and said, “I would like to buy some cheese, milk, and honey.” 

The proprietor of the stall said, “I will be glad to sell you some cheese, but I have met my quota for the day and so I ask that you go to my brother at the stall over there to buy the rest so he can make his quota.”  The Sultan bought the cheese and went to the second stall. Here he  asked for milk and honey. The second proprietor said, “I will be glad to sell you some milk, but I would like for you to buy the honey from the stall beside me because I have met my quota for the day so I would like for you to give your business to him and help him meet his.” 

The Sultan then knew that not only were his people ready to conquer Constantinople but their hearts were so pure they were ready to conquer the world if they wanted. 

I love that story. 

September 14th, 2014

Bearing Witness

“Think about it: virtually every atrocity in the history of humankind was enabled by a populace that turned away from a reality that seemed too painful to face, while virtually every revolution for peace and justice has been made possibly by a group of people who chose to bear witness and demanded that others bear witness as well.”
― Melanie Joy, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism: The Belief System That Enables Us to Eat Some Animals and Not Others

Next week I’m going to be speaking to a large gathering of women and in preparing for that event I ran across this quote so beautifully stated by Melanie Joy. It is a hard thing to do, to bear witness when witness needs bearing. To be authentic when it is so much easier to fit in to the expectations around us. It takes tremenous strength and courage to swim against the current, but it can be done.

September 12th, 2014

The Lift

Today I saw an older woman and her grandson hurriedly walking down the road.  The woman kept putting her finger out like she was trying to hitch a ride.  I stopped and pulled over and gave them a ride to the car mechanic that had her car.  She was desperately trying to get there before the shop closed.  To my shame, even though I try to be aware of the struggles someone goes through when they are a member of the working poor, sometimes I just forget how difficult life can be even though there have been several times in my life I’ve been in that place. 

Trying to get from one place to another consumes a lot of time.  Having a cell phone that no one can use to reach you because your minutes have run out or that you can use to call a shop and tell them you will be there to pick up your car.  No transportation to get your kid to baseball tryouts even if it would mean the world to them. Small indignities and trials that build up so quickly.

I watched as car after car passed that woman before I got to her.  Just seeing that made me really remember, and be thankful for all the people that reached out to me and to my family during difficult times in our lives.  It is a long road, and you never know where it will take you.  Sometimes you just need someone to walk beside you, or give you a lift, and sometimes you realize just how blessed you are that now you can be the one to give the lift to someone else.

September 11th, 2014

Small Barriers, Big Differences

What is the biggest barrier to peace in your life?  If you could change that barrier what would you have to do?  Would you be willing to put in the work it would take? 

Today I had a parent that told me to let them know if there was anything they could do to help their child be successful.  Honestly, I wanted to say, “The best thing you could do is forgive your ex-spouse.”

Most of the time the ability to achieve peace in our lives is within our reach, forgiveness, letting go, moving on, trusting the universe to work for our good.  Available for us to choose, any moment of our lives…

September 10th, 2014

staff:

Today’s the day. The day you help save the internet from being ruined.

Ready? 

Yes, you are, and we’re ready to help you.

(Long story short: The FCC is about to make a critical decision as to whether or not internet service providers have to treat all traffic equally. If they choose wrong, then the internet where anyone could start a website for any reason at all, the internet that’s been so momentous, funny, weird, and surprising—that internet could cease to exist. Here’s your chance to preserve a beautiful thing.)

There were so many things I could choose to talk about as a peace choice today, including the fact that today is national suicide prevention day, but this concept of keeping the internet running quickly for everyone is a peace choice that keeps us being able to talk about all the other peace choices we can make.  Keep the internet weird and wonderful please!

(via legal-speed-limit)

September 9th, 2014

Creating the future…

"If people can be smart enough and co-operate enough to start wars, they could use the same tactics to create peace."  This statement by a 13 year old boy in my class made all of us stop today and contemplate a different future for the world. 

The choices all of us make today create the future.  I want to live in the future created by people that realize the wisdom in that statement.  When peace becomes more profitable than war, war will cease. 

unconsumption:


The cost of building new classrooms and schools shouldn’t prohibit students in the developing world from accessing a quality education, but new construction, even using inexpensive materials like cinder block, can run up a five-digit bill in construction costs. Now, Hug It Forward, a nonprofit in Guatemala, has figured out how to build new schools on a shoestring budget by turning the plastic bottles that litter the countryside’s villages into raw construction materials.
A plastic school might sound like it’s better suited for Barbies than for people, but the technology—developed by the Guatemalan nonprofit Pura Vida—is actually quite clever and allows for schools to be built for less than $10,000. The plastic bottles are stuffed with trash, tucked between supportive chicken wire, and coated in layers of concrete to form walls between the framing. The bottles make up the insulation, while more structurally sound materials like wood posts are used for the framing.

More: Guatemalan Schools Built from Bottles, Not Bricks Plastic Bottle School’s A Cheap Alternative in Guatemala

unconsumption:

The cost of building new classrooms and schools shouldn’t prohibit students in the developing world from accessing a quality education, but new construction, even using inexpensive materials like cinder block, can run up a five-digit bill in construction costs. Now, Hug It Forward, a nonprofit in Guatemala, has figured out how to build new schools on a shoestring budget by turning the plastic bottles that litter the countryside’s villages into raw construction materials.

A plastic school might sound like it’s better suited for Barbies than for people, but the technology—developed by the Guatemalan nonprofit Pura Vida—is actually quite clever and allows for schools to be built for less than $10,000. The plastic bottles are stuffed with trash, tucked between supportive chicken wire, and coated in layers of concrete to form walls between the framing. The bottles make up the insulation, while more structurally sound materials like wood posts are used for the framing.

More: Guatemalan Schools Built from Bottles, Not Bricks Plastic Bottle School’s A Cheap Alternative in Guatemala

September 8th, 2014

Common Thoughts

"Be kind, enjoy life." Lately this simple phrase has been on the top of my common thoughts.  Do you have common thoughts?  Thoughts that run through your head randomly during your day like kids running up and down an empty hallway just because they can.  I’ve made it a habit to fill my soul with big thoughts and small thoughts about peace so that they become my common thoughts. I’ve made it a habit to turn my empty moments into opportunities to be thankful in order that my empty moments become full moments.

Peace is a choice.  In every single moment, you get to choose your thoughts, and in this present moment you can choose to relax, breathe deeply, number off ten things you are thankful for.  Filling my heart with common thoughts like, “Be kind, enjoy life” has transformed me, and transformed the way I perceive the world around me. 

Today I watched the Tom Shadyac movie, I AM with my 8th grade students, an unofficial rite of passage for them because they heard about it last year and couldn’t wait to watch it together.  I’ve watched that movie numerous times in the past year since I ran across it and every time I gain something new.  Today it was the ever widening belief in my soul that our thoughts matter, and while I can’t change everyone, I can change me.  Starting with simple thoughts like, “Be kind, enjoy life”.

September 7th, 2014

A slice of peace

This weekend my husband and I drove to Chicago, just because sometimes it is worth driving 8 hours for a really good pizza.  As we were driving through the city I saw a billboard that said, “Stand Up for Peace Chicago”.  Curious I googled that term.  I found several different sites.  One was a religious group and on their website http://www.saintsabina.org/six-principles-and-steps-of-nonviolence.html  I found these amazing ideas about the six principles and six steps of non-violence:

Six Principles

  1. Nonviolence is a way of life for
    courageous people: It is not a method for
    cowards; it does resist. If one uses this method
    because one is afraid or merely lacks the
    instruments of violence, that person is not truly
    nonviolent.

  2. The Beloved Community is the goal: The
    aftermath of Nonviolence is friendship and
    understanding among those who are different from
    you, while the aftermath of violence is tragic
    bitterness.

  3. Defeat injustice, not people: It is evil that
    the non violent resister seeks to defeat, not the
    person messenger of evil

  4. Exchange suffering for Achievement: The
    nonviolent resister realizes suffering can educate
    and transform people and societies.

  5. Chose loving solutions, not hateful ones:
    Avoid internal violence of the spirit as well as
    external physical violence. The nonviolent resister
    not only refuses to shoot the opponent but also,
    refuses to hate them.

  6. The universe is on the side of justice: The
    believer in nonviolence has deep faith in the future,
    and believes there is a creative force in this universe
    that‘s works to bring the disconnected aspects of
    reality into a harmonious whole.

Six  Steps

  1. Gather information: Learn all you can about the
    problems you see in your community through the media,
    social, and civic network.

  2. Educate Others: Armed with new knowledge; its your
    duty to help those around you, such as your neighbors,
    relatives, friends and co-workers, better understand the
    problems facing society. Build a team of people devoted
    to finding solutions. Be sure to include those who will be
    directly affected by your work.

  3. Remain Committed: Accept that you will face many
    obstacles and challenges as you and your team work to
    change society. Agree to encourage and inspire one
    another along the journey.

  4. Peacefully Negotiate: Talk with both sides. Yes go to
    the people in your community who are in trouble and
    deeply hurt by society ills. Yet also go to those people
    who are contributing to the break down of a peaceful
    society. Use humor, intelligence and grace to lead to
    solutions that benefit the greater good.

  5. Take Action Peacefully: This step is often used when
    negotiation fails to reduce results, or when people need
    to draw broader attention to a problem. It can include
    tactics such as peaceful demonstrations, letter writing
    and petition campaign.

  6. Reconcile: Keep all actions and negotiations peaceful
    and constructive. Agree to disagree with some people
    and with some groups as you work to improve society.
    Show all involved, the benefits of changing, not what
    they will give up by changing.

- See more at: http://www.saintsabina.org/six-principles-and-steps-of-nonviolence.html#sthash.t917F6WV.dpuf

Peace is worth the effort, why? because the people of the world have better things to do with their time than fight, starting with enjoying pizza so good it is worth driving 8 hours to Chicago for:

September 4th, 2014

Signs of Peace

This morning as I was driving to work I passed a group of people picking up trash on the road side.  As I was slowly passing by I smiled and I flashed a peace sign.  When I looked back I noticed they were smiling and one of them showing the other a peace sign like I had just shown him.  Small acts of peace pass quickly from one to another. 

September 3rd, 2014

Unburdened

She is a tiny little thing with a smile that lights up any room she enters and an occasional mischievous grin that lets you know she is a kindergarten student that knows how to live life.  Today I watched her exit the gym, her cinnamon brown curls bouncing around her head as she skipped without a care in the world.  I looked at her and thought, “That is exactly the way I want to live my life”.  She had handed her book bag to someone else and she was free to bounce and twirl and skip. 

So often I feel like I trudge through life, carrying every weight and burden as if they are trophies to show off how meaningful and serious my life is.  “Skip” comes the whisper from a power greater than myself.  “Skip!” “Twirl!” “Live unafraid.” “Choose Joy.” “Choose Peace!”

September 2nd, 2014

Donating A Passion

This morning I was listening to someone that had called into a radio program to tell about being a heart transplant recipient.  I was really interested in this because I signed my organ donor card years ago and check it on my driver’s license every time I get it renewed.  It is important to me that even after I die, I can find a way to give back to life the gift I was given. 

The fascinating part to me about the radio caller was that she mentioned that after she had the heart transplant that she craved Mexican food more and wanted to go shopping more, which were both favorite things of the person that she had received her donated heart from.  It made me start thinking about the person that will hopefully benefit from my organs when I pass away, this idea that I could pass along my passion for something as well as my organs is sort of fun and mind blowing. 

It makes me think about the potential for passing along my passion for peace now and in the future.  It makes me happy to think about that person going even further into the study and practice of peace than I was able to do.  It may have just been a fluke that the radio caller took on some of the attributes of the person that passed along their heart, but just in case it really does happen, I’m enjoying thinking about my love letter of peace that might be continued on even after I’m gone. 

For more information about organ donation:

http://www.organdonor.gov/index.html

http://www.vanderbilthealth.com/transplant/31423

September 1st, 2014

Appreciation

I spent the weekend traveling about, spending time with people that I love and love spending time with.  I also spent a lot of time thinking about the idea of appreciation.  I really don’t think there is any more important quality to develop in order to have a meaningful and happy life than the quality of being appreciative.  Appreciation is a game changer.  It makes good days fantastic and grumpy days bearable.  Every moment in time offers something to be appreciative of, even if you have to search really hard.  That is a blessing.  Maybe, the biggest blessing in life.  The best part of appreciation?  With appreciation comes a peace that fills your soul even on the emptiest of nights. 

August 28th, 2014

So Blessed.

Today I’m younger than I will ever be, and wiser than I have ever been.  This is the happy thought that has been on my heart today.  I was blessed all day long with sweet moments with friends, famiily members, and students.  I’ve eaten more sugar in one day than I have in a month, and had Happy Birthday sung to me numerous times.  It truly was a memorable birthday.  I ended it by going out to eat with a good friend, then going to see the movie, The Giver.  A powerful, thought-provoking movie to see on such an auspicious day!

The movie is about a society that has had their memories and emotions erased in order to have a peaceful existence, and the Giver who is the one person that keeps all the memories of the people so that he can advise in the future based on his knowledge of what has happened in the past before all the memories and emotions were wiped away.  The movie is a wake up call, a call to choose to live life differently.  To choose to feel emotions, all emotions, rather than trying to numb them out and pretend bad things never happen, but instead, to feel those emotions and use them for good. 

So it was not lost on me that a few minutes after leaving the movie I would see a young homeless man on the corner.  Encounters like that can evoke a lot of different emotions.  Usually a feeling of helplessness that there is nothing I can do.  At that moment though, I had some healthy food and a few other things I could pass along.  It is always frustrating when I can’t do more for someone, but I try to trust that if I am faithful in doing what I can, that what I can do, is exactly what I was meant to do. 

I don’t know how many more hours or days I get to enjoy this world, but I plan to enjoy them 100%.  Good moments, bad moments, growing moments, they are all a part of the beauty of life.  What a blessing to get to celebrate it!

Birthday picture made for me by my students! 

August 27th, 2014

Cake Day

August 27 was always what I referred to as “cake day”.  This term comes from the fact that my dad’s birthday was August 26, and mine is August 28 so my mom usually made a large German Chocolate Cake for us both on the day in between.  This is called compromise. 

My father passed away five years ago and I haven’t had one of my mom’s German Chocolate cakes in years, but the idea of meeting someone in the middle and enjoying a win-win situation is always linked in my mind with August 27. 

Compromising, or finding a way that allows everyone to get a piece of the cake, is a great way to follow Kid President’s advice and treat everyone like it’s their birthday!