Category Archives: Peace

Flaming June by Frederic Leighton

Sweeping the Nation with Sentimental Hogwash

Recommended Reading Soundtrack:  Keep Breathing by Ingrid Michaelson

The past week. I have felt unsure of what to say. Between the UC Santa Barbara shootings, to the death of Maya Angelou and the release of an American POW after 5 years of imprisonment- it seems that the world seemingly continues its typical journey of inhaling and exhaling. A journey of ups and downs, where we are all collectively growing and contemplating big questions. In today’s world we are more connected through technology than ever before. We are vastly aware of our global challenges and their many potentials. Ironically it is prompting a contemplation about the nature of human love and the connection that exists outside of technology. The connection that comes from some place impossible to label, yet we feel compelled to search for it and understand it as it is felt on a grander scale due to the oxymoron that is technology.

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As I was tidying up some dishes the other morning in contemplation, I picked up a coffee cup that was given to me 16 years ago as a gift during more transitions. The gift displayed one of my favorite paintings by Frederic Leighton, titled “Flaming June.” I received the gift after I had just witnessed the painting’s phenomenal power with my own eyes and heart in an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art.

I had just moved out of my parents’ home and into a group house in Northern Virginia. My best friend’s sister, Jane, gave me this mug for Christmas- and on it was a quote by William Shakespeare from Hamlet, “We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”

I love gifts like this. Some may label them as “sentimental hogwash” like the greedy Mr. Potter in the film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but they tell a story whenever I look at them. Hundreds of moments flow through my mind, and I’m suddenly carried down a river through time and whisked into old places that seem new again because I am viewing them from the fresh (you could insert cynical in here, but let’s not go there today!) perspective of my older self.

Look at Maya Angelou. What a life! I mean, her voice was a shining example of how one can harness their power through choice and thrust it forward only to create joy like she probably couldn’t have imagined when she was young, sexually abused and mute for 5 years. Our life’s story is a part of us, but it doesn’t have to solely exist as “what we may be.” Our past and our potential exist in tandem, dancing with nothing but a fine line between them.

Our life story is the driver for choosing something that goes beyond what we think we are, it is the backup plan- the place we can revert to if we feel like we don’t know who we are anymore. There is a great Sex in the City episode where the main character Carrie loses years of work on her laptop when her hard drive crashes and burns, leaving her angry and speechless. Then she is asked the ultimate crap question, “When was the last time you backed up?” The problem? She had never backed up, and that was the end of that story- but not the end of what she “may be.”

“But ‘baby fish mouth’ is sweeping the nation?

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Sometimes I feel like Harry and Jess in “When Harry Met Sally” during their Pictionary game. I’m struggling to understand what is being communicated, from “Mick Jagger is a baby?” to “baby fish mouth,” when all Sally is trying to say is “Baby Talk.” Maybe “baby fish mouth” really is sweeping the nation. But then, clarity arrives. While I was driving on the evening of Maya Angelou’s death, NPR played her recitation of her poem, “Still I Rise.” I cried as I listened to her striking words. They struck my heart like a masterful musician commanding their audience. She commanded me to remember, that amidst all the chaos that appears in the world around us, hope really does win every time, no matter how much my ego wants to shout “sentimental hogwash!” There are always going to be Potters in this world, but the most powerful ones exist in our own demons.

As Ms. Angelou spoke, so did my heart-

“Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.”

Monthly Peace Challenge- A Vision of Peace to Behold

How can a photograph inspire a purposeful perception?  How can a photograph inspire a new vision of peace for our world?

In September of 2004 I had the privilege of experiencing an amazing day in our Nation’s Capital- Washington DC.  I grew up in northern Virginia, and at the time was working downtown at a higher education non-profit.  I was a year out from a divorce and my life was finally settling while living in the District.  This one particular morning DC was abuzz with a slowly unfolding plot.  The opening of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian was about to take place and the “Gathering of the Nations” was about to open up a door to peace and beauty on the post-summer Mall rarely experienced there amidst its normal chaos of traffic and partisan politics.

A magical day of festivities was planned.  As I walked down the street to my office that morning, you could feel it coursing through your body like adrenaline only it was pure joy.  My heart felt like it could leap from my body.  Like a window was about to open to a new manifest destiny as the Nations took DC by storm.  Representatives, families from the entire Nations’ tribes were gathering in their ceremonial dress on 14th street, passing me by with a pride they have always deserved.  The Washington Post had posted a picture of a sunrise ceremony and blessing that took place next to the museum and you could already see the sunlight rehearsing for a show that would move my soul later that evening.

The beginning of the magnificent sunset on the Mall the day the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian.
The beginning of the magnificent sunset on the Mall the day the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

An eclectic, free concert in the evening was planned featuring Lila Downs whose earthiness just exudes in the movement of her body and the sound of her voice.  As I walked down the Mall on the sunset’s cusp, I felt so grateful to be a part of this historic event.  As me and my friend waited for Lila Downs’ performance, the sky began to dance.  Soon it was like an explosion of light amplifying the energy of the day and illuminating life.  Every part of my being knew it was a result of this sacred energy that was brought to DC for this unique and uplifting occasion.

The 2nd stage of this magnificent sunset.
The 2nd stage of this magnificent sunset.

It was a peace that our own Nation’s Capital should strive for every moment- if not for themselves, but for the people of our country that have to endure the reality of our current economic plight every day.  In the Bloggers for Peace writing challenge this month we were supposed to write a letter, but really this is a short prayer and meditation on peace for not only the US and its government, but for all governments in our world.  I can only hope that the memory of this landmark event and the picture of its beauty prays in the earth of the DC Mall and emanates itself into the hearts of those visiting and those that live there.  A garden of tolerance and compassion is readying itself with a purpose.  In my heart I will continue to strive to project a vision of this peace to our world, slowly giving rise to perceptions that are rooted in awareness rather than ignorance.

What has this post inspired for you?  What new, purposeful perceptions about your present moment can you now use to create awareness in your life?  Please let me know!  I truly value your inspiration as we journey together.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Carry Me to the Stars

This is a poem and photo story displaying my heart’s connection with the perception expressed in the poem- connecting the words with pictures I have taken on my journey to a more purposeful perception daily in my life.  The journey is important, as it is part of reflecting where our perceptions have come from.  I urge you to reflect in your heart where your most limiting self perceptions play out in your life regularly and share in this blog.  Remember to scroll down and click through each page!

Remembering feelings sparked by a note
A sound, so sweet and subtle
Only your heart knows it is there
Giving rise to feelings light
You forget what is weighing you down

IMG_1082The ignorant mind trailing behind you like a predator
Wondering why you are not paying attention
In its small, small world
A perspective limited and stuck without motion

025 (2)Yet my heart- tugging me forward like a child
I shall follow, carry me into this knowing
Remind me of what it is to be
So light and airy- remind me of love’s truth

076A truth so full it explodes in the sky before me
Yet it continues to be, forever full.

Creativity for Peace Program- Prepare to Be Amazed!

Image by: Creativity for Peace Israeli May Freed, Creativity for Peace Director Dottie Indyke, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb
Image by: Creativity for Peace
Israeli May Freed, Creativity for Peace Director Dottie Indyke, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb

I don’t know if you have this radio program available to you, but if you don’t- you should check it out online!  One of my favorite things to listen to, be inspired by, and just plain “cry” to is Peace Talks Radio.  Weeks ago as I was driving to work, they were featuring one of my most loved programs on this planet- Creativity for Peace.  “What is this savvy, amazing, peace instilling program that you speak of,” you may ask?

Well!

“Creativity for Peace includes a camp experience in the high desert of New Mexico for adolescent girls from all sides in the Middle East conflict.   At the annual camp, the girls speak their minds and hearts about their own suffering due to the hostilities.  Despite being taught to see the other as the enemy, they learn to get along and even be friends.  More importantly perhaps, they learn important lessons in conflict resolution.”

I am a huge proponent of teaching people to listen- deeply listen- to resolve conflict and create healing in their hearts from traumatic or abusive situations.  This program to me represents everything that can be accomplished in our world if we understand that words much of the time are just expressions of emotional release, and many times once they are expressed without  judgment or reacting, healing can take place for both parties.  Incorporating deep listening practices into your daily routine can be life changing- especially with those people that really know how to “yank your chain.”

This particular episode that I was listening to had two young girls, Palestinian Jwana Ghaleb and Israeli Jew May Freed, who have attended the camp and continue to work with it to help other girls resolve their inner conflicts due to the outer conflict of their cultural society, particularly between Palestinians and Israeli Jews.  Their stories will drive you to great heart opening experiences, and give you the opportunity to see where you may need some healing yourself.

To listen, CLICK HERE.

I Shall Not Hate- Dr. AbuelaishA long time ago, I heard an interview by a Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, MD, MPH, where he talked about the anguish he experienced in losing 3 of his daughters and a niece due to an Israeli shell that hit his home in Gaza.  Dr. Abuelaish served as a doctor in Israel, and had dedicated his life to serving those that many would call his enemies.  In response to his experience, he wrote a book called “I Shall Not Hate: A Gaza Doctor’s Journey”.  What was amazing about his interview to me, besides how incredible his spirit is to have dedicated his life to peace after an experience that could have perpetuated hate and conflict, was learning that one of his daughters that died in the bombing had actually attended Creativity for Peace, here in New Mexico.

My inspiration today lives in all of those that see beyond their own inner conflict and anger, and reach out to the world to heal rather than perpetuate the ego’s delusion of separation.  Deep Listening is a practice that can be instilled in all of us- and if our children learned it at a young age, I feel we could change the world.  To me, it is a meditative exercise that connects us to the hearts of one another, rather than our mind which is full of belief systems and a desire to be argumentative.  I hope that you have time to listen to this radio show today, or check out Dr. Abuelaish’s book– or just think about someone that you might be angry with, and see them with compassion for their ignorance that may have caused you pain- or have compassion for yourself, which is so hard and difficult to do for many of us.

Give yourself a hug, by giving someone else a hug.  Happy Friday!

PEACE- WHY NOT?

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Loving February’s Bloggers for Peace writing challenge so much, I am am starting in January (I know, it’s the last day of the month anyhoo!). Thich Nhat Hanh states, Peace in oneself, Peace in the world.

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What inspires peace for people? 

What gives people the desire to work for peace?

I have seen so many people downtrodden by the daunting task of even thinking about peace in our world.  Their sadness from seeing the suffering on our planet instills compassion, and then to me- a natural desire inherently occurs- the desire to create peace within our own heart.  As a teacher of how perception affects our reality and the world around us, I truly believe that peace begins within ourselves and it illuminates each person we touch with kindness and a greater compassion for others.

Peace is not a futile effort. 

Seeing the joy and love within the images placed in my “Peace, Why Not?” billboard inspires me to sit with my own heart space and reflect on my motivation and how I connect with the world around me.  This contemplation, if instilled within all of us each day, would continue to grow and light a flame within each person we interact with like candles on a birthday cake.  Our personal work does have an effect on the world, and we must continue to do this work if we wish to change the world.

Mantra: I am a holy vessel of light being used for the greater good of all sentient beings.

This is a sacred mantra for me, and my motivation every day.  See how it works for you, modify it to work for you, encourage yourself to engage in self love and acceptance so your inner peace will light the way for others.

IN AN INSTANT- LIFE REMEMBERED

Peace Doves

“Then, in the nightmare of Monday and Tuesday, there was the struggle to keep normal when planes zoomed overhead and guns cracked out at an unseen enemy. There was blackout and suspicion riding the back of wild rumors: Parachutists in the hills! Poison in your food! Starvation and death were all that was left in a tourist bureau paradise.”

Betty McIntosh, Hono­lulu after Pearl Harbor: A report published for the first time, 71 years later, Washington Post 12/7/12

This morning, the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, I opened up my Washington Post to an amazing experience.  An article written by a now 97 year old woman named Betty McIntosh who was a journalist in Hawaii the day Pearl Harbor took place.  The Washington Post published her article today after 71 years has passed, as the paper she wrote for in Hawaii deemed it too graphic and traumatic for its readers at the time.  The article was written 7 days after Pearl Harbor took place, a piece about the woman’s perspective of a war that began with great uncertainty and fear, during a time that many people view from their heart and safe place in the US- the holidays.

In reading the article, I felt emotional and wanted to relate her experiences to something deep inside of me that continues on its human course to heal.  This journey that we are all on ebbs and flows with our fear and our light’s inner knowing.  We oscillate between feelings of love and safety to feelings of uncertainty and sadness.  The pendulum between the ego-driven mind and our connection to the divine, our inherent truth.

“For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.”

Betty McIntosh points out how on the morning of Pearl Harbor it was a lazy Sunday with people coming out of church still in their reality that a war could not possibly be taking place on their island.  Her narrative takes us on a journey of coming to terms with the reality.  Yes, a war was taking place, and as she walked deeper and deeper into that reality she saw things that shattered the safe place that most knew to be home.  The forest of destruction became thicker with every movement.  There are people still experiencing this in our world, every day, coming to terms with the expansiveness of the human existence and how our reality can so easily be shaken because it is so tightly bound with our expectations and what we are “used” to.

In our experience as fragile human beings, I find it important to remember that each day we could still possibly experience this same thing including our own death.  We don’t know what plane will be ready to take off in our reality and we can’t count on our expectations because they are rooted in our desires rather than possibility.  The only thing we can count on is our ability to choose our reactions and how we will treat people, what we will do that affects other people.  If we can remember the humanness of our bodies that we experience this reality in every day, we can create a motivation to love.  This is our gift.  It is the greatest gift that we can experience within ourselves and in turn, our experiences with others.  Our oneness will not evaporate like emotion or the quenching of an ego-driven desire.  Our oneness will always be here to reflect on.

During this holiday season, I would like to extend my own kindness to all of you out there in the only way I can- in these words.  I want to say thank you with all of my heart for every moment that you choose to reflect and to love.  Every one of those moments is affecting me right now and my potential to also do good things.  You are my olive branch, you are my peace- and I honor you for all that you have experienced as a human.  Whether those experiences are rooted in trauma or joy, I have experienced the same, and I can relate.

As those during any war come to terms with the darkness in the human existence, I can only honor their experiences of suffering in my own and pray peace.  I pray peace during this holiday season and hope that all may experience it in their interaction with others, so we may all remember that we are simply one.  Pearl Harbor, along with all war, has a purpose now to teach us that life is a pendulum of swinging possibility and to embrace it with a motivation to live in our highest potential.  Let us choose our light and shine, illuminating the path for all to experiences of peace.