My desire for now and moving forward into 2014 is that we all find that peace within us. When we do, the world becomes a better place. This version of the song, “Let There Be Peace on Earth,” is brought to us from the 5th grade chorus of PS22 of several years ago, right here in Staten Island.
This video is several years old now and I still get chills and inspiration every time I see and hear it. Very inspiring! These kids and their teacher really feel the music within their hearts. May we all feel the peace within us in this new year. Happy New Year, Everyone!
Today I’m reminded that it is John Lennon’s birthday. He would have been 71 years old. In what is one of my favorite songs, “Imagine,” John envisioned a world that lived in harmony and peace – where the world would live as one – a brotherhood of man…
Can you imagine? I know I can! What dreams are you imagining and creating? Don’t stop imagining! Imagination is such a beautiful and useful tool in deliberate creation. (And a whole lot of fun, too!)
Today is Veteran’s Day in the U.S., a federal holiday that originally began as Armistice Day after World War I. In the spirit of the original meaning of this holiday for calling a truce to war and having peace, I’d like to share some quotes on peace to share with you.
“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” -Martin Luther King, Jr.
“There is no way to peace, peace is the way.” – A. J. Muste
“If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama
“Peace is its own reward.” – Mahatma Ghandi
“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” – Jimi Hendrix
“ A smile is the beginning of peace.” – Mother Teresa
While I want my message here to be a positive one, I found this video to be very powerful-not just because of Declan’s voice (which is amazing at 13 years old), but also because of a child’s view about war, poverty and suffering and our inability to get along with each other and to give a helping hand when we see someone else in need. He asks, “Why?”
Let’s show Declan and other children who question suffering how we can be the change for peace. Start today and be the change you seek in this world!
When I was a kid, I used to love watching nature, and particularly birds. It was a strange love affair really, as I also had some bad experiences with several birds as a kid and a teenager. I was attacked by a blue jay while I was riding my bike because I unknowingly came too close to her fallen nest, and several years later, a trained crow perched itself on my back when I was on a high school Spanish class trip in Mexico. The experiences left me with a feeling of keeping my distance from those types of birds and I never wanted nor asked for birds as “pets.” (I preferred cats and dogs.)
Yet I’ve always been fascinated by birds, mainly preferring the large, majestic birds such as hawks and eagles or the tiniest of birds such as the hummingbird and small Jenny wrens. Aside from blue jays and crows, I absolutely loved nature and being outdoors and used to spend hours on end just observing the hawks in the sky with their wings spread out wide, gliding through the sky like an artist painting a new masterpiece, or robins in my yard searching, pecking for worms as food for their young. I was a member of the Audubon Society and used to be able to correctly identify birds from my studies as a kid. I would spend hours looking for birds and trying to find as many different types as I could.
Then city life introduced me to pigeons. I have to admit that I was not particularly fond of them, as I had often heard that they were like “rats with wings,” and carry disease. At the same time, there has always been something intriguing about them as they reminded me of doves, which are symbols of peace to me. I’ve since learned that pigeons are related to doves and have often been referred to as “rock doves.” Still, you won’t find me feeding them as I don’t really want them to get that close, just in case.
A couple of days ago I was walking across a university campus where there is a small space as a memorial for the victims who died on September 11, 2001. Two pieces of the Twin Towers form part of that space. Next to the towers on the grass were a group of pigeons. Before I could look away, they immediately took off in flight, together, in unison, swooping over my head twice, circling around the trees, their tight unit sounding like shutters that ever so gently knock on the windowsill as if to say, “Will you please let me in?” At one point in their dance, two of them split from the group, surrounding the flock on either side, as if they were the grown-up chaperones on a school field trip, keeping everyone in line so that no one gets lost or hurt. In an instant they then quickly moved back into the crowd and became part of the flock again.
It was a very moving, precious moment. I stopped in my tracks, along with my colleague who was walking with me, and we looked up to admire the beauty and inspiration of it all. The fact that they flew out from where the pieces of towers were made their impact profoundly touching. We instantly stopped talking as they swept over us twice, dancing as if they were performing a private screening of their newest ballet repertoire just for us, all in flight, in perfect unison, swooping and turning, soaring and diving, then moving quickly along to another tree, around a building, until they were no longer in our sight. I wanted them to come back! It was absolutely mesmerizing.
That day on the campus, next to the tiny remnants of the Twin Towers, the pigeons got my attention. Having been a witness to seeing the plane that hit the second tower on September 11th, I’m still pondering the pigeons’ message to me. Perhaps it was a reminder to “stop and smell the roses” again. After 9/11, I know I was particularly grateful that I was late for my meeting that day, as it probably saved my life. I am forever grateful for my loving friend, who I was talking to that morning, and chose to stay in the presence of our conversation rather than get to my breakfast meeting that beautiful morning.
After the terror of 9/11, all New Yorkers seemed more appreciative than ever of the circumstances and people in their lives. It’s now 6 years later and I wonder how many stop to think about what is going well, who we love, and what is good with our lives. Sometimes the stress of life gets in our way of noticing the positive. How many of us stop and say “thank you?” Do we appreciate our blessings?
The experience with the pigeons reaffirmed my belief of how we need to take the time to stop and observe the beauty around us, particularly from other forms of life on this planet. Although I was fortunate to grow up in an unpopulated, rural area, with nature all around me, we can see nature no matter where we are living. In a city such as New York where I currently live, there are many opportunities. All we have to do is pay attention.
Perhaps the pigeons were spreading a message of peace; peace not only for the world, but peace within us. With the holiday season among us, some people get very depressed: depressed over unresolved family issues, loneliness, their perceived lack of money, or the inability to live up to the “images” of the “perfect” holiday gatherings. When we look inside ourselves for peace, instead of trying to live up to someone else’s standards or expectations for us, we are doing ourselves a big favor!
So after watching the beautiful pigeon dance, I know that I won’t look at them the same as I had before. I am at peace with sharing this urban habitat with them and appreciate the message of appreciation and peace they brought to me a few days ago. (I may even start bird watching for crows and blue jays, too!) The pigeons gave me a wonderful Christmas gift in their reminder to stay “present” and take time to appreciate all that’s good in my life. What a wonderful Christmas present indeed!
In honor of the pigeons’ dance, I’d like to share a video I found of a flock of blackbirds in Montana. The videographer set it to music. I hope you take the time to stop and watch it. Enjoy the bird watching!
Click on the title to read my letter to my mom, who suffers from dementia.
At first glance, you may wonder why I am posting what appears to be a depressing subject. How does such a letter uplift us? I assure you that by writing this letter to my mother, I was struck by its therapeutic process so I share in order to help others who may be facing the same loss as I am.
It has been a difficult journey for me, as it is so often for family members dealing with loved ones who are afflicted with Alzheimer’s Disease or other forms of dementia. My wish is that you gain an insight into the grieving process for a loved one suffering from dementia. I believe that it is a different process than grieving for a loved one who has passed on (or) from grieving the end of a significant relationship. Loved ones who have dementia are still part of our lives, even though most of the time they are not active participants with us, which makes it so difficult. The experience is surreal at times. They are here, but are they really? I am at peace in my knowing what I know in my soul and that is that my mother’s heart remembers. She is here.