June Post For Peace

inspiredbythis.com

inspiredbythis.com

Monthly Peace Challenge from Kozo at everyday gurus –  “This month I challenge you to explore how to have peace in relationships or how to have peace at home.”

After 41 years of being married to W (42 in November if we both live that long) I totally understand how you might think of me as a relationship guru with all the answers when it comes to making commitments that last.  I often think of myself that way.  And then I give myself a good smack on the forehead and come back to earth for a while.  Because really, who knows why some relationships last a lifetime and others are just practice runs for something better?  We’re all different, and we all relate to each other in different ways.

bloggers for peaceThis is an excellent challenge for all the Bloggers for Peace, and for anyone who is now or has ever been in any kind of relationship, wants to end an old or start a new relationship, or wonders if relationships are all they’re cracked up to be or worth the effort it takes to maintain them.  So that covers pretty much every human being on earth.

Every one of us has our own individual recipe for a peaceful home with a list of ingredients that makes relationships with others work for us.  It should never be carved in stone.  We grow, we change, we evolve.  My personal formula for happiness is in constant revision.  At this particular moment in time, these are some of the things that work for me.  If I come back and read this post in five years time and wonder how I could have been such an idiot, that’s probably a good thing.  It means I’ve learned something new and changed, hopefully for the better.

Okay!  Here we go.  Grandmalin’s Relationship Advice Column.  What makes a peaceful relationship and what you can do to become a better partner.  Because there is nothing else in life I enjoy more than telling people what to do.

1.  Make peace with yourself first.  You have to create your own happiness first before you can share it with someone else.  There is no one out there who can make you happy.  That’s your job.  Another person can help bring out the best in you, but the best has to be there in the first place.  There are also no positive relationships with emotionally unavailable people. If the people you’re currently hanging around with are not happy, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT.  If you and your significant other have grown in different directions and can no longer connect or appreciate each other, by all means consider that it may be the right time for both of you to move on.

This is number one on my list because it cannot be stressed enough.  When you love yourself and are at peace with who you are, that love will spill over into all your relationships with your family and your friends and with every one you meet.  And it will open your heart to receive the peace and the love that comes back to you.

2.  Don’t try to change each other.  Go bang your head against a brick wall instead.  It will get the same results.  Accept, adapt, acknowledge.  Change and growth cannot be forced.  Overlook the little things that bug you, because they really don’t matter all that much in the grand scheme of things, and work on your own reactions to them instead.  Don’t nag, don’t harass.  You could maybe try crying and pleading, and see if that works.  But don’t get your hopes up.  Sometimes you just have to readjust your expectations and carry on.

3.  Speak up/Communicate.  Unless you are both mind readers, you will have to talk to each other.  Express your own feelings instead of trying to make the other person feel something. Saying “I care deeply about what is happening” means “I care deeply about you.”

4.  Shut up/Listen.  Unless you are both mind readers, you will have to really hear what is being said to you.  Don’t blame, don’t judge until you’ve truly listened with empathy and compassion.  Everyone wants and deserves to be heard.

5.  Admit that you don’t know everything.  Because, hey – you don’t know everything.  Confess when you mess up.  Step back when you are angry.  One person should not get to be the boss all the time.  Not even you.  Apologize when you need to and don’t stay mad.

6.  Slow down. Life is short and should be savoured at a leisurely pace.  What’s your hurry, anyway?  You’ll get to the end of it soon enough.  Be patient with each other.  Enjoy the learning process together.  Shoot for less drama and more calm.  Work through the issues.  Be strong enough as a team to weather every storm.

7.  Be kind.  Keep your promises.  Each of you deserves to be seen and heard, loved and appreciated.  Be grateful for the time and energy and tolerance it takes to support a loving relationship.  Be supportive and helpful and happy for each other’s successes.   When you fall flat on your face it’s nice to have someone around to help you pick yourself up.  Be that someone for the people you love.

8.   Give each other lots of space.  Respect the other persons right to do things on their own, to make their own decisions and their own mistakes.  You may be a couple, but you are still both individuals working hard on whatever it takes for you to be the best you can be, investing time and energy in your own personal growth.  Sometimes we simply need someone to be there, not to fix anything or even to do anything in particular, but just to stand beside us so that we know we are cared for and loved.

9.  Play.  Have fun.  Laugh.  Be silly.  Life does not have to be so serious.  Spend part of every day being a bit wild and crazy. See how that feels.  Pretty good, hey?  Do it again tomorrow.

10.  Never forget why you fell in love in the first place.  The older you get, the harder it may be for you to recall what the hell you were thinking.  Just remember, your relationship does not define you and it does not own you.  You are now, and forever will be, yourself, living your own life.  But since you’ve decided for now that you’re in this together, don’t stop working on your relationship and everything that makes it sweet.

Love yourself, give love, receive love, be in love. Practice, practice, practice.  That’s how peace happens.

peace at home

May Post For Peace

We all shine on, like the moon and the stars and the sun. 

– John Lennon

Patrice Torrillo fineartamerica.com

Patrice Torrillo fineartamerica.com

Sun/Moon Art is fascinating.  Second only to my love of all things African, these delightful works of art fill me with comfort and serenity – peaceful easy feelings.  My African art does this too, but I have no idea how to describe to someone else how carvings of elephants and giraffes, paintings of beautiful black women dancing, and crazy scary tribal masks can inspire peace and joy.  For me they just do.

It will be difficult explaining the sun/moon/stars thing too. But I’ll try.  When someone is miles away, it’s nice to know we are still under the same sky, gazing at the same small glimpse of heaven.  The sun and the moon and the stars belong to everybody. Or to no one at all.  We may be quite different, but we are each tiny parts making up this vast universe.  We all shine.

Maybe we look at the sun, moon and stars with a longing to return from whence we came.  Or it’s simply the yin/yang day/night balance that is pleasing, or the beautiful colors or the symmetry that draw us in.

Explaining art is like trying to work out exactly why a joke is funny.  Some things are inexplicable and best just happily embraced for whatever emotions they may uncover.  I wish you peace, how ever you may find it.

sun moon role reverse hozukidono.deviantart.com

sun moon role reverse hozukidono.deviantart.com

sun and moon by jessica kauffman

sun and moon by jessica kauffman

wall hanging sun moon copper at giftsofart.com

wall hanging sun moon copper at giftsofart.com

moon-sun mikedubois.net

moon-sun mikedubois.net

sun moon god goddess found on tumblr.com

sun moon god goddess found on tumblr.com

 

“Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born: – you are my sun, my moon, and all my stars.”  –  E.E. Cummings

bloggers for peace

Monthly Peace Challenge for May: Art Thou Peaceful?

April Post For Peace

English: Children dancing, International Peace...

English: Children dancing, International Peace Day 2009, Geneva. Français : Enfants dansant, Journée internationale de la Paix 2009, Genève. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How do we teach children what peace means, and how do we raise our children to be peaceful?

The answer is amazingly simple.  We teach by example.  Simple answers don’t make the actual process easy of course.  We have all seen or been the parent who yells and rants, flips out and stomps off, slams a door, gets mad, gets even.  Kids mimic what they see, they repeat what they hear, and they either learn from our mistakes or they repeat them.  The best and maybe the only way we can teach our children what peace means is by living it.

My parents were both peaceful and peace-loving.  Mom always saw the best in every person she met and every situation she faced – she could put a positive spin on even the worst disaster, and point out some redeeming quality in a complete ass.  Dad forever saw the funny side of life.  It’s like I spent my childhood with a Mark Twain clone – he would tell us a funny story or make a witty remark or a silly comment that didn’t just make us laugh, it made us think.  My parents never had raging battles, and rarely even argued for long before coming to a mutually acceptable decision, even if the decision was simply to agree to disagree.

How incredibly lucky we were to be their children, sheltered from the violence and cruelty of the world for so long.  Of course the down side to that is not knowing how to react to, and cope with, furious anger and deliberate malice when confronted with it head on.  We were taught not to fight back and that peaceful resolutions were always to be sought, and almost always possible to reach.  We were shown that siblings can be our very best friends, that mistakes can be forgiven, that happiness is something you have to find within yourself because no one is going to present it to you on a golden platter.  I grew up knowing that anger you can’t let go of will just make everyone miserable.  No matter how uneasy the peace, it is always better to seek it than to let a conflict fester and grow.

So how have I done as a mother myself, after having been blessed with such shining examples to follow?  I wish I could tell you I’ve been the perfect wise and peaceful parent, but if you’re a parent yourself you know first hand there’s really no such thing.  Parenthood is something we muddle through hoping to keep the damage to a minimum.  We want peace and happiness and joy for our children and we will wish hard for it for the rest of our lives.

Before I became the incredibly smart old person that I am now, a newborn baby always looked to me like some blank little human that could be shaped and molded into whatever sort of person its family was capable of creating.  Not so great parents ended up with little brats.  How completely deluded that notion turned out to be.

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...

Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbilical cord has not yet been cut. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Because a child is born with personality plus.  All we can hope to accomplish as his parent and guardian is to get to know him, keep him safe and watch him grow.  We can guide and console and love him but we can’t make him turn himself into something he is not, and perhaps was never meant to be.

The very hardest part about being a parent is knowing how much growing up we have left to do ourselves.  I sometimes think our children teach us just as much about life as we are trying to teach them.  Maybe more.  We give our children rules to live by, examples to follow, consequences for their actions.  It’s only fair that there should be some parenting rules, and for whatever they’re worth, here are mine.

1.  Keep talking to your child. Tell him what you think, what you believe, what you want, how you feel.  Some of it is bound to sink in eventually.

2.  Shut up and listen.  Let him freely express what he thinks, what he believes, what he wants, how he feels.  You will learn more things from listening to your child than you ever believed possible.  Have some serious discussions.  Share some laughs. Keep an open mind.

3.  Be loving and kind and compassionate.  Growing up is not easy.  You haven’t finished the process either, so be patient with your child, and be patient with yourself.

4.  Be grateful for what you have and less concerned with what you lack.  Know that ‘things’ themselves are not what make us happy.  Be generous whenever you can. It really is true that the more you give the more you receive, no matter what the ‘gift’.

5.  Support your childs creative nature and expanding spirit.  Share his happiness, share his joy.  Teach him that sharing the joy of others brings joy right back to him.  Be constantly delighted and astounded by the incredible person he is turning out to be.  His dreams are different from yours and his path is not the same as the one you are on.  How boring and disappointing it would be if we all raised little mini-me’s.

6.  Be okay with life.  Work with change, rather than against it.  Accept what is, let go, and let be.

When we are okay with life, there is no reason to fight.  When we are calm and confident and have a sort of mental equilibrium somewhere between what is ‘wrong’ and what is ‘right’, the tension and the struggle to go one way or the other disappears. I think that is called peace.  I think that is the only way we can teach it to our children, by showing them that we get it, that we want it, and that we live it ourselves the best way we know how.

Although you see the world different from me
Sometimes I can touch upon the wonders that you see
And all the new colors and pictures you’ve designed
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine

You don’t need directions, you know which way to go
And I don’t want to hold you back I just want to watch you grow
You’re the one who taught me, you don’t have to look behind
Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine

Nobody’s gonna kill your dreams or tell you how to live your life
There’ll always be people who make it hard for a while
But you’ll change their heads when they see you smile

The times you were born in may not have been the best
But you can make the times to come better than the rest
I know you will be honest if you can’t always be kind
Oh yes sweet darling, so glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine

Child of mine, child of mine
Oh yes sweet darling so glad you are a child of mine

bloggers for peace

March Post for Peace

“People in general would rather die than forgive. It’s THAT hard. If God said in plain language. “I’m giving you a choice, forgive or die,” a lot of people would go ahead and order their coffin.”   – Sue Monk Kidd

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz

Forgiveness Mandala by Wayne Stratz (Photo credit: Nutmeg Designs)

Forgiveness is not easy.

It’s not even easy to write about, never mind actually getting through the process myself.  To me, forgiveness means that I must stop blaming, stop being resentful, and give up the desire to hit back and get even.  I must try to be less judgmental. I must be finished and done with something to the point where I am over it and able to let it go and finally move on.

Sometimes it seems to me to be a never ending process that I will struggle with forever.  And even after all that I may never get it right.

This months Peace Challenge is Marching Towards Forgiveness. 

Forgiving Others

Forgiveness does not mean excusing or tolerating evil, and it does not absolve the criminal from the crime.  People do need to be held accountable for their wrongdoing.  Forgiveness should never mean having to shrug our shoulders and say that’s okay, when it’s not okay at all.

When we are wronged I believe we need to face our anger and our hurt head on.  We need to vent and call it what it is.  If we don’t, we will bottle up our feelings of rage, resentment and heartache until they harden into a need for revenge with no room left in our hearts or heads for anything else.  We will set ourselves up for an endless cycle of resentment and retaliation.

It is never healthy to condone someones hurtful actions against us.  But at the same time we should try to understand that people hurt others as a result of their own pain.  We need to stay in touch with the other persons humanity, and believe in their capacity to change. Forgiving someone can mean giving them another chance, not necessarily because they deserve it, but because they need it.  When you forgive, you love.  You stop being a victim and you let go of the pain.  Forgiving others can give us back the laughter and the peace in our lives.

How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the  circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than  angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.   – Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Depending on the severity of the offense, the process of forgiveness may take days, or months, or even years. It is something that all of us will struggle with, every day of our lives.  If we respond to every little act of rudeness and inconsideration with anger, the situation simply becomes worse.  Every day we have a choice to be loving and kind and forgiving.  Anger and hatred, if left unfed, will fade away. People who are negative and complaining all the time probably don’t really want to be that way. So smile at the person who scowls.  Brush off the bad driving of the person who cut you off. It won’t be easy, but whoever told you life would be easy?  Let go of the little things that don’t really matter whenever you can.

Forgiveness is not always easy.  At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it.  And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness.  – Marianne Williamson.

Being Forgiven

Every one of us has done and said things that we regret and wish we could take back.  Quite possibly it happened when we were facing our anger head on and venting our little hearts out.  We passed our own pain and suffering on to someone else.  It takes a great deal of humility and spiritual and emotional maturity to say I’m sorry, and to seek forgiveness from the people we have hurt.  But it’s the only way I know of to make the guilt go away.

Tell yourself that you are important, and that everything you do is important.  You have the power to hurt, and you have the power to heal.  Admit it when you are wrong, and then pay for your mistakes.  Make it up.  Do the right thing.  Deserve the forgiveness you are looking for.  Apologize, and really mean it.  Will that be easy?  Good Gawd no.  But do it anyway.

Forgiving Yourself

This is by far the very hardest forgiveness of all.  Forgiving yourself means showering whoever you are at this exact moment with love and kindness every day.  You must let go of regrets and guilt and sadness and stop wasting your energy on worry, self-criticism and feelings of unhappiness and depression.  You are human, and you are not perfect.  Everything you have ever done and said and felt has been a learning experience for which you must find it in your heart to be thankful.

When you foster warmth, kindness and compassion towards yourself, you can’t help but spread it to everyone around you.  We forgive our children everything because we love them unconditionally.  I think we need to learn how to love ourselves like that, so that our lives will become meaningful, more peaceful, and much,  much happier.  Love yourself, love your day, love your life.

With every single act of true forgiveness, I believe the universe takes a deep breath and expands and heals.  One forgiving heart at a time, we can change the world.

People are often unreasonable and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.
If you are honest, people may cheat you.  Be honest anyway.
If you find happiness, people may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.
The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow.  Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough.  Give your best anyway.
For you see, in the end, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.”
― Mother Teresa

bloggers for peace

February Post For Peace

global family

Every day I am amazed when I sit down at my computer to connect with people from all over this planet in some small way.  They are simple, brilliant, funny, complicated, emotional, practical, talented, angry, happy, bewildered, kind and beautiful.  And so much more.  They are my extended family.  I like to share their joy, sympathize with their problems, marvel at their creations, laugh when they’re funny, shed a tear and send a virtual hug when they’re sad.

I’m trying to be a better blogging friend but because I’ve spread myself so thin and followed so many incredible people, there are days when I don’t have enough intelligent comments in my brain to go around.  I’m lucky to make two or three passably interesting observations a day.  But if I click that LIKE button, I’m not joking, I’ve done it because I LIKE you and I like what you have to say.

The other thing that amazes me is how I can get inside so many heads, and project into the feelings or state of mind of so many people.  And then I think maybe that’s not so amazing after all, because despite all the ways we’re different, we’re also all the same.

We want an end to violence, oppression and injustice.

We want to eradicate ignorance, poverty, intolerance and discrimination.

We don’t want the earth to be destroyed before our children grow up and discover better ways to look after it.

We know (although some of us won’t admit it)  that waging wars will not solve our problems.

We hope and pray that a positive affirmation of peace will start the creative process and that mankind will find solutions leading to peace and prosperity for all.

We hope to build worldwide relationships based on compassion, empathy and love.

We all just want to be happy and stop the insanity.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by all these lofty ideals, and to shrug our shoulders and wonder what in the world one person can do when so much needs to be done.  But if it doesn’t start with me and you, where is it going to start?

“Ultimately we have just one moral duty:  to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others.  And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world.” –  Etty Hillesum

“World peace must develop from inner peace.  Peace is not just mere absence of violence.  Peace is, I think, the manifestation of human compassion.” – Dalai Lama XIV

We are all connected, and we are all interdependent.  Our individual survival depends on the survival of this earth and everything on it.  It’s time to stop competing with each other to see who can amass the most money and the most possessions.  It’s time to start co-operating and sharing, being grateful for what we have, learning how to live a simpler more joyful life by celebrating and appreciating each other.

If I am deeply committed to peace, and you are deeply committed to peace, the idea will spread.  I know it already has.  Peace on earth will be more than just a dream, it will be our new reality.

“In the hearts of people today there is a deep longing for peace.  When the true spirit of peace is thoroughly dominant, it becomes an inner experience with unlimited possibilities.  Only when this really happens, when the spirit of peace awakens and takes possession of men’s hearts, can humanity be saved from perishing.”  – Albert Schweitzer

bloggers for peace
Bloggers for Peace Website

January Post for Peace

“The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart.  The most powerful weapon you can be is an instrument of peace.”  – Carlos Santana

Inner Peace

Inner Peace (Photo credit: Mara ~earth light~)

Yesterday I spent one of the most peaceful days I’ve ever had at work.  Or was it simply the most boring?  We get these two concepts mixed up all the time, you know.  Everyone professes to want peace on earth, but the way we live our lives sometimes tells a very different story.  Perhaps we wouldn’t know quite what to do with peace if it was handed to us on a golden platter.  I think we need to learn what it feels like to be a peaceful person first, and then we need to learn how to share this knowledge with the rest of the world.

We read newspapers and watch the news on tv to keep up to date and freaked out by all the horrific things that are happening in our world.  We rant and we complain.  We compete.  We quarrel.  We decide what is good and what is right and which way is the best and then we knock ourselves out trying to justify our decisions and convince everybody around us (in our nation, city, neighborhood, workplace, or in our own homes) that our path is the right and proper one to take.

We are suspicious and fearful of people who have ideas and habits and beliefs that are not the same as ours.  We would like everyone in the world  to want the same things that we want, to believe the same things that we believe, and to live their lives adhering to our standards.  But they don’t, and they won’t.  It’s very stressful for us to have to accept this. Yes, we all start out the same, as babes of the human race, but then each of us lives and learns and grows and changes.  Many of us learn tolerance and acceptance and how to have an open, loving heart.  Many of us don’t.  But before you decide that blowing somebody up is a viable solution for getting your own way, try to imagine how boring this life would be if we didn’t have our many differences.  There would be nothing to discover and nothing new under the sun.

Most of us think of wars are those nasty things being fought in some distant part of the world.  If we could we’d just march on over there and whap those idiots upside the head and tell them to stop all this stupid fighting and for the love of God learn to get along.  Well, maybe that’s what would happen if moms ruled the world.  But fighting for peace is like screaming for silence.  Or as George Carlin said, like screwing for virginity.  It’s as futile as whapping somebody on the head to teach them that whapping somebody on the head is wrong.  There is violence and anger and frustration and fear all around us, but until we realize it’s also deep inside each and every one of us, we will never know peace.

“Instead of hating the people you think are war-makers, hate the appetites and disorder in your own soul, which are the causes of war. If you love peace, then hate injustice, hate tyranny, hate greed – but hate these things in yourself, not in another.”  Thomas Merton

Inner peace is where it all starts, and inner peace is often elusive.  If there’s not enough conflict and chaos in our lives, we tend to rush around to drum up some more of it and then we whine about what a disorganized mess everything is in and that there’s never enough time to get everything done.  If there’s not enough drama in our own lives, we watch some one else’s on tv.  We demand it in movies.  We create it in chance encounters by making snap judgements and assumptions.

Inner Peace

Inner Peace (Photo credit: Ely Hynes)

We can also be pessimistic grumps from hell.  (You say that this past year was the worst one of your life, and yet, here you are.  Still alive.  You have food to eat.  You have a roof over your head.  You have clothes to wear and you are not alone.  Someone else might consider your situation paradise.  So please shut up unless you can find it in your heart to tell us how blessed you are  instead.)

And then, what if, suddenly, out of the blue, by some strange magical set of circumstances we find ourselves with that much-desired time on our hands?  There is nothing to do, and nowhere to go and no pressing need to run off in six different directions at once. There is nothing to plan or organize or fix.  What do we do with this beautiful gift of time?  Instead of basking in this personal peace, we often let a restless panic take us over.

We become bored and we sigh and we fidget.  It’s too quiet.  We will go stir crazy with nothing to do.  Geez, somebody start a war or something.

You know that song that says “let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me”?  I truly believe that’s where peace starts.  And these are the things I’m going to do to start the peace ball rolling.  If there is peace in my heart and my mind and my soul, maybe peace will radiate in some small measure to the world around me.

1.  Slow down.  Time just speeds up when you try to race with it.

2.  Don’t raise your voice or slam or throw things, rant, cry, pout, fret, or otherwise freak out.  These are the actions performed in chaotic, dramatic gong shows, and your life is not one of those.

3.  Be kind.

4.  Do not let someone else’s bad mood or attitude dictate your own.  Do not add fuel to the fire.

5.  Learn to laugh at yourself and take life less seriously.  No one gets out of it alive.

6.  Learn how to bask in the sunshine of quiet moments.

7.  Open your heart and embrace the differences and the diversities and the new experiences this world has to offer.  Variety truly is the spice of life.

8.  Let it go.  Whatever it is.  Find a way.

9.  Stop doing the things that make you miserable.  Stop listening to the people who bring you down.

10. Stop feeling responsible for the happiness of others.  The only person whose happiness you can control is your own.  If you are happy and at peace with the world, the world cannot help but become a better place simply because you are in it.

And as far as all the fighting goes, let’s just postpone wars indefinitely.  If we’re very patient and wait long enough, the people who were going to fight in them will eventually die quietly in their sleep.  Problem solved.

bloggers for peace