Happiness Found

Happiness Found

2018.07.19

Pentecost 2018

 

She went to nursing school, having grown up in western Pennsylvania.  The acceptable careers for women at the time were teacher and nurse and our woman of distinction for today went to nursing school.  She attended at the Pittsburgh Training School for Nurses at Pittsburgh Homeopathic Hospital, where she graduated in 1896.  In her words, the hospital was “all the tragedy of the world under one roof.”  She would go on to marry a doctor and have three sons.  Their affluent lifestyle did not last the Stock Market crash of 1903 so she began writing as a means of providing a supplemental income.

 

Our nurse turned writer penned 45 short stories during her 27th year and was quite popular with readers of the “Saturday Evening Post”.  In 1907 she had her first novel published which sold approximately 1.25 million copies and made Mary Roberts Rinehart a household name.  The family moved to Sewickley, Pennsylvania and later to Washington, DC when her husband was appointed to the Veteran’s Administration.  After his death, Rinehart moved to New York City and with her sons established the publishing house Farrar & Rinehart, serving as its director.

 

Mary Roberts Rinehart served as a war correspondent for The Saturday Evening Post at the Belgian front during World War I.   During her time in Belgium, she interviewed Albert I of Belgium, Winston Churchill and Mary of Teck, wife of King George V.  Twelve years after moving to Washington, DC, she survived a murder attempt by her chef of twenty-five years at the family vacation home in Maine.  She was rescued by her other servants and the following day the chef committed suicide. 

 

Mary Roberts Rinehart suffered from breast cancer and in 1947 underwent a radical mastectomy.  She went public with her story at a time when such things were seldom, if ever, discussed in public.  In an interview with “Ladies Home Journal”, Rinehart strongly encouraged all women to have breast examinations. 

 

Rinehart is credited with inventing the “Had-I-But-Known” mystery novel.  This type of mystery novel is one where the principal character (frequently female) does things in connection with a crime that have the effect of prolonging the action of the novel.  In her novel “The Door”, the villain and murderer is the butler and although the phrase never actually appeared in the novel, made famous the saying:  “The butler did it.”

 

Often called the American Agatha Christie, even though she was published fourteen years before Christie, Mary Roberts Rinehart wrote six travelogues, one essay, had over fifty film and television adaptations, and currently has over two hundred books listed on Goodreads.  Two of Roberts’ sons became book publishers while the third was a playwright and producer.  She was a woman both ahead of her time in many instances and a woman who lived within the confines of her gender for the times. 

 

Of all the many things this prolific writer penned, my favorite is this quote:  “To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.”  Rinehart believed there was no mystery to finding happiness; it was quite simple:  Treat others as you wish to be treated.

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An Unstoppable Spirit

An Unstoppable Spirit

2018.07.13

Pentecost 2018

 

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani education advocate who, at the age of 17, became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban. Born on July 12, 1997, Yousafzai became an advocate for girls’ education when she herself was still a child, which resulted in the Taliban issuing a death threat against her.

 

Yesterday Malala turned twenty-one and celebrated by helping girls in Rio learn how to stay in school and overcome violence in the world around them.  This is not an unusual occurrence for Malala, though.  Her thirst for knowledge had led her down a path that even a horrendous attack could not stop.

 

Nine months after being shot by the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai gave a speech at the United Nations on her 16th birthday in 2013. Yousafzai highlighted her focus on education and women’s rights, urging world leaders to change their policies.  Yousafzai said that following the attack, “the terrorists thought that they would change our aims and stop our ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage were born.”

 

t Malala Yousafzai’s 2013 speech at the United Nations, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon pronounced July 12th – Yousafzai’s birthday – ‘Malala Day’ in honor of the young leader’s activism to ensure education for all children.  “Malala chose to mark her 16th birthday with the world,” said Ban. “No child should have to die for going to school. Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn. Together, we can change the picture.”

 

Malala Yousafzai was born in Mingora, Pakistan, located in the country’s Swat Valley, on July 12, 1997. For the first few years of her life, her hometown remained a popular tourist spot that was known for its summer festivals. However the area began to change as the Taliban tried to take control.

 

Yousafzai attended a school that her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, had founded. After the Taliban began attacking girls’ schools in Swat, Malala gave a speech in Peshawar, Pakistan, in September 2008. The title of her talk was, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”

 

With a growing public platform, Yousafzai continued to speak out about her right, and the right of all women, to an education. Her activism resulted in a nomination for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. That same year, she was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize.  Malala and her family learned that the Taliban had issued a death threat against her because of her activism. Though Malala was frightened for the safety of her father — an anti-Taliban activist — she and her family initially felt that the fundamentalist group would not actually harm a child.

 

On October 9, 2012, when 15-year-old Malala was riding a bus with friends on their way home from school, a masked gunman boarded the bus and demanded to know which girl was Malala. When her friends looked toward Malala, her location was given away. The gunman fired at her, hitting Malala in the left side of her head; the bullet then traveled down her neck. Two other girls were also injured in the attack.  The shooting left Malala in critical condition, so she was flown to a military hospital in Peshawar. A portion of her skull was removed to treat her swelling brain. To receive further care, she was transferred to Birmingham, England.

 

Once she was in the United Kingdom, Yousafzai was taken out of a medically induced coma. Though she would require multiple surgeries—including repair of a facial nerve to fix the paralyzed left side of her face — she had suffered no major brain damage. In March 2013, she was able to begin attending school in Birmingham. 

 

In March 29, 2018, Yousafzai returned to Pakistan for the first time since her brutal 2012 attack. Not long after arriving, she met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and delivered an emotional speech at his office.  “In the last five years, I have always dreamed of coming back to my country,” she said, adding, “I never wanted to leave.”  During her four-day trip, Yousafzai visited the Swat Valley, as well as the site where she nearly met her end at the hands of the Taliban. Additionally, she inaugurated a school for girls being built with aid from the Malala Fund.

 

n October 10, 2013, in acknowledgement of her work, the European Parliament awarded Yousafzai the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

In April 2017, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed Yousafzai as a U.N. Messenger of Peace to promote girls education. The appointment is the highest honor given by the United Nations for an initial period of two years.

Yousafzai was also given honorary Canadian citizenship in April 2017. She is the sixth person and the youngest in the country’s history to receive the honor.  Also in 2017 she was accepted as a student at Oxford University, continuing her education in spite of still being targeted by the Taliban.

 

Malala continues to advocate and encourage world leaders to spend their money on books instead of bullets and military budgets.  “The shocking truth is that world leaders have the money to fully fund primary AND secondary education around the world – but they are choosing to spend it on other things, like their military budgets. In fact, if the whole world stopped spending money on the military for just 8 days, we could have the $39 billion still needed to provide 12 years of free, quality education to every child on the planet.”

 

Immediately after the attack on her in 2012 to yesterday’s celebration, Malala has urged action against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism:  “The extremists were, and they are, afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women… Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons.” 

 

 

 

 

 

Them Should Be Extinct

“Them” Should Be Extinct

2018.07.07

Pentecost 2018

 

 

The World Health Organization defines violence as “the intentional use of physical force or power against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.”  There is nothing constructive and certainly no answer found in the words injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment, or deprivation.

 

Violence occurs when someone believes in the concept of “Them versus Us”.  That concept exists only in some depraved fairytale land.  It does not exist in the real world.  We are one in this thing called life – we, not them or us.  Life is a group effort, a team sport, and right now, the sportsmanship of life has been lost.  The American Heritage Dictionary, edition published in 2011, defines sportsmanship as “conduct and attitude of participants in sports, especially when considered commendable as in fair play, courtesy, and grace in losing.”  Please read that last part – fair plays; courtesy, and grace in losing.

 

We need to stand up for things that are right and certainly the unexplained death of someone complying with an officer’s instructions needs to be investigated.  However, randomly targeting innocent people is not fair play and it accomplishes nothing except the expenditure of ammunition.  We also need to proceed with intention and forethought in a manner designed to accomplish something positive.

 

Every group on this planet has been a target at some point in history.  There is no “them” – we are them.  “Them” is the objective form of “they” which signifies a group of… us.  Them is the collective “we” and means more than one of “you and I”.  This singling out of people and calling them by name or being fearful of them is the same as looking in your mirror and being afraid of yourself.

 

Unus pro omnibus, omnes pro uno is a Latin phrase that translates as “One for all, all for one”.  While many believe it originated in Alexander Dumas’ “The Three Musketeers”, it actually goes back two hundred years earlier.  Considered the unofficial motto of the country of Switzerland, this phrase dates back to 1618.  Two hundred years earlier there had been killings due to clashes between Roman Catholics and Protestants.  The action led to the death of the king of Bohemia and ultimately, the Hussite Wars.  Compromises were made and princes were allowed to determine the religion of their subjects.

 

Power is a thirsty mistress, however, and movement was made to gain more power over the ensuing years.  A struggle began between King Rudolf II of Bohemia and his brother Matthias.  Rudolf increased the rights of the Protestants but was deemed unfit to rule and the crown passed to his brother.  Matthias, however, was unmarried and had no children so he made a cousin named Ferdinand king.  Ferdinand was Roman Catholic and ordered no further building of Protestant churches could continue.  This resulted in a meeting in 1618 between leaders of the Bohemian Roman Catholic and Protestant communities.  During the meeting, the Protestants issues a statement:  “As they also absolutely intended to proceed with the execution against us, we came to a unanimous agreement among ourselves that, regardless of any loss of life and limb, honour and property, we would stand firm, with all for one and one for all… nor would we be subservient, but rather we would loyally help and protect each other to the utmost, against all difficulties”.

 

In November 2016, then candidate Donald Trump disdained the administration’s policy to allow immigrants from Syria.  In 2016 Candidate Trump asked who was emigrating from Syria and said the men coming were terrorists.  Statistics prove that 78% of all Syrian immigrants have been women who were escaping death and body mutilation.  Recently the US Supreme Court up held such the ban on anyone emigrating from Syria.  How many women will now lose their lives because the ability to escape had been blocked based upon fear and in disdain of the facts?

 

Today our featured women making a difference are two PBS reporters showing us what life is like for the over two thousand children who have been detained and separated from their families.  Filmed two weeks ago, this link shows us what life is like for those children.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6JelgiJJ0oY

 

The act of separating children certainly fits the definition of violence described by the WHO: “the intentional use of physical force or power against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which results in psychological harm or deprivation.”  There is nothing constructive and certainly no answer found in such an action that has been justified because it is against “them”.

 

We need to make the concept of “them” extinct.  We need to reaffirm that which was proposed in 1618 to “loyally help and protect each other to the utmost, against all difficulties.”  What is a “them”?  It is you… and me… and your neighbor and my neighbor and the guy on the corner who doesn’t look anything like you or me and the lady across town who wears different clothing.  We are a large diverse group, much like roses or grasses or trees.  There are many different sets and subsets of mankind but we are all parts of the whole – one for all and all for one.  Make the concept of “them” extinct”.  It begins with each of us seeing each other as a part of ourselves.  You want to really know who “them” is?  Look in the mirror.  Let’s make “them” extinct and begin to focus on “we”.

 

 

Similarities

Similarities

June 5, 2018

Pentecost 2018

 

Founded in the mid-3rd century B.C.E., Berenike was a thriving Roman port on the Egyptian Red Sea. Artifacts prove that the Romans traded with lands we now call Yemen, Pakistan, India and peppercorns were worth more in their weight than was gold. Emeralds and gold, spices… the list of treasures is lengthy. 

 

To me, though, it is a rolled up piece of papyrus that is the real treasure. Berenike was a place where more than eleven different languages were spoken, where different cultures meshed in harmony. And on the rolled up papyrus is a clue as to the key to such harmony. People are people – no matter the dress, the ethnic physical characteristics.  We really are the same.

 

On that rolled up piece of papyrus was written a letter…. from a mother to her trading sailor son. “You never visit. It has been too long since we have seen you.  You owe your mother a loving visit so I can see you are well.”

 

The word that unites us is respect.  This mother wanted some respect from her son.  Our neighbors want respect from us.  We want respect from the world.  No matter the country or century, we really are one.

 

#MarchForOurLives

March 20-24, 2018

 

Today is Lent 39 but more importantly, it is the day in which Americans exercised their right to stand up for themselves.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/hundreds-of-thousands-march-for-gun-control-in-the-us/ar-BBKCX1Q?ocid=spartandhp

 

With thanks and apologies to songwriters ALAIN ALBERT BOUBLIL, CLAUDE MICHEL SCHONBERG, HERBERT KRETZMER, JEAN MARC NATEL ….

 

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the songs of school children?

It is the music of the people

Who want no one killed again!

When the beating of your heart

Echoes the beating of the drums

There is a life about to start

When tomorrow comes!

Will you join in our crusade?

Who will be strong and stand with me?

Somewhere beyond the NRA

Is there a world you long to see?

Then join in the fight

That will give you the right to be free!

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the songs of our children?

It is the music of the people

Who wish their friends were alive again!

When the beating of your heart

Echoes the beating of the drums

There is a life about to start

When tomorrow comes!

Will you give all you can give

So that our children may advance

Some will fall and some will live

Will you stand up and take your chance?

The blood of these martyrs

Will flow in the halls of schools!

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the prayers of our children?

It is the music of the people

Who protest the risks again!

When the beating of your heart

Echoes the beating of the drums

Take a stand so they can live

When tomorrow comes.

 

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, President of the United States, proclaimed December 7, 1941 as a “day that will live in infamy”.  According to the National Park Service, there were 1998 Navy personnel, 109 Marines, 233 Army personnel and 48 civilians killed at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. This comes to a total of 2388 Americans killed during this World War act of aggression.  

 

I propose that every day that the Congress of the United States and those who accept payment for their campaigns from the gun lobby are living each day in infamy.  There is no reason that this problem cannot be reduced and/or solved.  Our children are going to school, trying to obtain an education.  There is nothing about that which should make school shootings an acceptable effect of the Second Amendment.    

 

Since the first recorded school shooting in 1764 in Greencastle, Pennsylvania, 1546 children have been injured or killed simply because they went to school.  We need to take a stand so our children can be alive when the end of the school day comes.  Infamy means dishonor.  It is not honorable to let children and/or teachers die.

#MarchForOurLives

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EQr5nzSiTM

Gratitude

Gratitude

Jan 9

 

It is often said that “Home is where the heart is” but where exactly is our heart?  Earlier this week I asked you the reader how you wanted to be known.  What do your daily activities say about you?  How do they illustrate your beliefs?  We have discussed having a bountiful life and manifesting our faith in how we live.  Two year ago we peeked into the lives of many humanitarians through the use of verbs, those action words found in each and every sentence.  We talked about the comic genius of Tom Shadyac, the youngest writer to have ever worked for Bob Hope.  Then we discussed the comic genius himself, Mr. Bob Hope.

 

Long before Tom Shadyac was even born, Bob Hope had made a name for himself in Hollywood as an actor, singer, dancer, vaudeville performer, producer, comedian, and yes, even an athlete.  Hope appeared in over seventy films and countless television programs during his eighty-plus year career.  He also made over fifty USO tours to entertain United States military personnel overseas.  Bob Hope’s passion for living was illustrated in his unique ways of saying “Thank you”.  His popular and annual USO tours were his way of showing gratitude to military personnel who fought for freedom and peace worldwide.  An avid golfer, Hope appeared in over one hundred and fifty charity golf tournaments each year.  He and his wife Delores adopted four children and lived in the same house from 1937 until his death in 2003 at the age of 100 years.

 

Bob Hope is proof that one needs not be born into wealth in order to create it or spread it in gratitude to multiple agencies and people worldwide.  Born in London to a stonemason and opera singer who later worked at a dry cleaners business, Lesley Hope came to the United States with his six siblings and parents, arriving through the famed Ellis Island in 1908.  He worked as a butcher before signing up to take dance lessons with a girlfriend.  Hope then decided on a career in show business and began as a dancer on vaudeville.

 

Bob Hope actually flunked a screen test in the 1930’s but used the experience to better his skills.  His career began on radio and he became known for his comedic wit and timing.  While known for his support of the USO or United Service Organization, Bob Hope lent his name and efforts to various other charitable organizations.  It was because of his gratitude and support for the military that Congress awarded him an honorary veteran in the late 1960’s.

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson once advised “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”  With all of his talents and skills, perhaps the greatest one Bob Hope possessed was the ability to show gratitude.

 

Gratitude is simply saying “Thank you” to someone and yet, it is often overlooked.  How many times have we failed to tell a friend thank you or neglected to follow up with said friend when they are absent?  Once upon a time writing thank you notes was a common trend but somehow, we have detached ourselves from saying thank you. 

 

Many claim they are too busy and others just assume that the gratitude we feel in our hearts somehow gets known by others.  The truth is that most of us fail to show gratitude or express it.  There are no excuses.  I am not going to sugar-coat this.  We need to live an attitude of gratitude every minute and especially show it to our friends.  There is even an app to help us out, an app called the Art of Giving.

 

In her book “Eat, Pray, Love”, Elizabeth Gilbert writes:  “In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices.”

 

At the end of each performance, for over fifty years, Bob Hope expressed his own personal style and gratitude by his famous one-liner….”Thanks for the memories.” There will always be another job to do, another hill to climb, another dish to wash, or book to read.  This moment, this minute, though, will never come again.  We all live a bountiful life of some sort.  We also all are the recipient of someone else’s kindness.  Take a minute to show gratitude to someone.  Let them know…Thank you.

Manifestations of Living

Manifestation of Living

Advent 8

Year in Review 2017

 

 

I do not wake up each morning expecting trouble.  I am one of those disgusting folks who wake up fully awake.  I give thanks for the awakening and expect good things.  I live a typical life so good things do not always follow me around like a pet.  I encounter the same number of problems and irritating people and make probably more mistakes than the average person.  Yet, at the end of each “Oops!” and “Whoops!” and “Hey; watch it!”, I am happy I am alive to have had the irritation.  I move forward expecting something better.

 

Advent is the beginning of the Christian calendar.  It is also that time of year in which people begin thinking about their favorite things from the concluding year and new resolutions for the upcoming year.  On January 1st of each year, I do not think of everything I did not do correctly the preceding year.  Instead, I think of my hopes and I expect to give life my all, my best.  I understand the concept of resolutions; I just hope I make them each new hour, after each aggravating minute, after each encounter with someone else being just as human as I am.  Maybe I am just too imperfect to only make them once a year.

 

New Year’s Resolutions tend not to be our expectations of what we plan to do, in spite of how the name might imply that.  They end up being a litany of things we perceive we did wrong in the past.  Examples:   Because I did not exercise and walk every day, I will resolve to do so in the coming year.  Because I do not weigh whatever it is that society seems to think I should, I will resolve to lose weight, regardless of whether or not I am healthy.  See what I mean?  I try not to anticipate the negative.

 

I don’t believe in negative expectations.  The etymology of the word is probably the reason I don’t.  Rather than implying a future anticipated action, the history of the word “expect” actually denotes deferred action.  So instead of a new resolution based upon expectations, it should create a waiting game of sorts.  The word comes from the Latin “exspectare” which literally meant “to look out for”.  However, as an English word of the sixteenth century, “expect” came to mean deferred action or to wait.  It seems really silly to me to wait for something bad to happen.  I mean, really who wants that?

 

In the twelve days of Christmas 2015, in a series I titled “12 Days of Kindness”, I gave you an acrostic.  If resolutions are to be those things that will improve us, then these twelve words explain how I hope to live in the coming months.

Generosity-Respect-Acknowledge-Clemency-Envision…..GRACE

Accept-Need-Dare……..AND

Laughter-Open-Veer-Expect……LOVE

 

That pretty much defines what cherish is – the topic of this Advent’s blog series.  I hope we will all be generous, respectful in acknowledging and forgiving as we imagine a better world.  I pray we will be accepting of others and ourselves, admitting our need for each other and being daring enough to follow through on that need.  I hope we share laughter with each step, are open to potential, brave enough to change when necessary and approach each minute with positive expectations, waiting for the goodness that life has to offer us.

 

During this Advent season I hope this year you receive grace and love.  To me that is the true definition of living kindness.  I also hope you share grace and love.  Advent is a time of preparation but in preparing, we must also reflect.   IF we take the time to cherish, we will have much more for which to be thankful in the future.  How do we cherish?  By extending grace to all, respecting others, acknowledging our differences, offering forgiveness and compassion, imagining a better tomorrow, accepting those different from us, admitting we need others, daring to trust, remembering to laugh, being open to the future, taking life’s detours with faith, and expecting better of ourselves and others.  We cherish our life when we manifest our faith by living it.