Friday, July 29, 2011

Advice from a 90 year old Sage

This is something we should all read at least once a week! Make sure you read to the end!
Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .
"To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I've ever written.
My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:
1. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.   
4. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and
parents will. Stay in touch.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree. 
7. Cry with someone. It's more healing than crying alone.
8. It's OK to get angry with God. He can take it. 
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.   
12. It's OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn't be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don't worry; God never blinks. 
16.. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
17. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful. 
18. Whatever doesn't kill you, really does make you stronger.
19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else. 
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.   
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don't
save it for a special occasion. Today is special. 
22. Over prepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don't wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain. 
25. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.   
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words 'In five years, will
this matter?'
27. Always choose life.
28.. Forgive everyone everything.   
29. What other people think of you is none of your business. 
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.   
32. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.   
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.   
35. Don't audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
36. Growing old beats the alternative -- dying young. 
37. Your children get only one childhood.
38. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved. 
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd
grab ours back.
41. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
42. The best is yet to come. 
43. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up. 
44. Yield.
45. Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift." 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Life is what you want it to be

These days I am experiencing frustration, disappointment and at times anger because several problems have decided to confront me altogether. Our car broke down and for last two weeks we are without a car in place where public transport system is very limited. I was offered a good job and then as I barely began to celebrate it, the organization is no more sure if they can hire me as I am not a US citizen and thirdly these days I find myself between two of my very dear family members who are struggling to find peace with each other.

In this state of mind it is very difficult to write on peace and yet this is the ideal time when I must think of being peaceful and share with my readers. :-)

So, the first step for me is NOT to blame anybody for the crisis but wait for the good that will emerge out it eventually. To be able to take this step successfully, I need to have trust in a power that is greater than I  and the crisis itself i.e. God. Complete trust will also lead to patience and reduced anger.

I talk to my best friends about what I am going through and how I feel about it. Talking about my feelings helps me to calm down and think rationally. Can't thank God enough for blessing me with those who support me and understand me.

Another thing that helps me to stay peaceful is to appreciate others, be thankful to them for every effort that they make on my behalf.

When we are frustrated, we may overlook the goodness around us, we may forget to acknowledge the blessings around us. No matter what the situation is, there are always goodness in and around us, we must locate it and build on it.

For example, I try to the look at the other side of the current situation, break down of the car is giving us the opportunity to walk to do chores, which is good for health and for bonding. We walk together talking about things that are important to us feeling the fresh air. Yes, sometimes the sun is too hot but cool water refreshes and replenishes us. Secondly, not getting this job opens the door for other opportunities and for now I can continue to enjoy my flexible schedule. Finally, being a peace maker between two loved ones is what my calling is anyway. There is nothing better than assisting people to get over their anger and making them smile.

When peace calls, I go!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Being Good is Always an Option

My husband, Joe, and I often volunteer with the University of Puerto Rico, especially with the School of Law and with the Commission for Violence Prevention (COPREVI). Today we met with the director of COPREVI, Samuel Figueroa Sifre to develop community-based plans to reduce violence in our town.

Samuel Figueroa Sifre holding a portrait of Gandhi ji by a Puerto Rican artist
As we were discussing strategies and activities that will enhance quality of life and decrease violence at the community level, Samuel raised an insightful question, "Why do people choose to become bad when they have the option of becoming better?" 

What a profound and yet a very simple question! The path of life is full of choices, it depends on us if we choose to turn left, right or go straight. Yes, there are times when we have followed a certain path because of external factors but that is very rare. 

God has given us the freedom to choose even when it comes to believing in Him. Making the right choice is not always possible but we can choose to improve as we move on our paths. 

Decision making process is as important as taking the decision. No matter how small the decision is, it must be taken after thinking it through, weighing all the possible options, outcomes and implications. 

By the way, I am not saying to stop and start thinking every time you are choosing between which shop to buy from or which route to take. It is also not about loosing the fun of living a spontaneous life but it is about being aware of the path and why we are on it.  

Pick the flowers from the bushes that are in your way with care and be aware of the thorns that may encounter during the journey. And in the moments where the thorns prick our lives, take a moment to treat the wound, embrace the healing and keep walking picking up the flowers.

Remember, we all have the option to be better, we just need to be willing to identify and capitalize on it. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Empathy, an essential

Three weeks ago I attended a workshop in US Institute of Peace. I met people from different professional backgrounds who had one thing in common, they are all peace-seekers. Around the same time, I also finished a nine weeks online course on Peace Education from University of Peace, Costa Rica

Photo moment at the Institute  
During this time, I was blessed with some good information regarding peace and related issues that I have been trying to process and will share as I make sense of it :-)

One thing that was reinforced repeatedly is that empathy is indispensable in the peace process. The good news is that most of us possess empathy, which according to Penguin Dictionary of Psychology (1995) is described as, "A cognitive awareness and understanding of the emotions and feelings of another person. In this sense the term's primary connotation is that of an intellectual or conceptual grasping of the affect of another." 

Don't be blind to the feelings for those who surround you, be aware of them. Don't confuse empathy to sympathy, it is not about feeling pity or sorry for others but it is about trying to understand what they are feeling and how it feels. 

Simon Baron-Cohen points out that lack of empathy leads a human being to be cruel. There are people that are born without empathy but not all turn to be cruel, while others that are born with empathy that could turn to be cruel. But all those who are cruel surely lack empathy either totally or substantially. 

Therefore, we must try to practice and develop empathy for each other. One excellent way is by listening to others with an open heart. By listening and understanding the feelings of others, we can handle the situation in a more compassionate manner. 

We can also teach listening skills to our friends and family. Empathy on both sides leads to greater mutual understanding and therefore drastically reduces conflict.

Let us bond with empathy for each other regardless of differences in opinion, world-view, religion, ethnicity, socio-economic status, cast or race. Let us bond with empathy and embrace peace! 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Request for Information

These days I am writing a paper on the role of women and religion in trauma healing and peace building in Indian context. The paper discusses the role of women and religion in facilitating healing at individual, family and community levels after a traumatic event. Three themes are addressed: (a) impact of conflict induced trauma at the community level, (b) how trauma affects women’s psyche, social reactions, and spirituality and (c) presents three recommendations for practitioners and scholars to enhance the role of women and religion in trauma healing and peace building.

The paper is mostly based on my experiences in India and literature review. Unfortunately, being so far away from India, I am unable to visit or meet people to gather more insights.

Many women's groups are active in the conflict affected areas in India and have religious roots to their work. I would like to acknowledge as many of those activities as possible in my paper. Please share any personal experiences or information regarding peace building efforts by women's group especially if they are related to any religion/s.

You can share the insights or information as a comment to this post or send it as an email to Information sources will be given appropriate credit in the paper and if you would like, I will share the final document with you.

Thanking all in anticipation!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Most Reliable Way to Peace: Simplicity and Sharing

Have you been looking for peace and can't find it? Have you tried everything and still pain overpowers comfort?

Think again, what is it that you have that you don't really need, what is it that you are dying to get but it is not really necessary for you... those are the questions that we need to ask ourselves as often as we can.

Make sure that desires and dreams may not turn into greed or step on other people's rights. On the contrary, make conscious efforts to share what you already have. I promise you if we do that, peace and happiness is not too far away from us.

We can find peace easily in simplicity and quietness. 

Justice, Compassion and Economics

Peace can only be assured when people are free from fear of hunger (Adams 1995, p. 18). Justice and compassion is what we need from the powerful and the rich but it is a rare commodity in safes filled with money and treasures.  While justice can be related to law and order, States’ Constitution, compassion is very personal, part of value personality and value system. 

Brecher (2003) talks about how in the movement of globalization, USA lead the process of making new rules where the rules generally incorporated special benefits to the US government and to the US based corporations but looking at the current recession in the US, I am not sure if strategies based on self interest helped a lot the financial situation of the country. It feels my heart with anger and compassion at the same time when I read Edwards (2009) Every DAY the poorest countries pay the rich world almost $100 million in debt repayments. What kind of system is this? Why global justice is so foreign to the countries with great judiciary systems and brilliant lawmakers?

To develop a world where success and prosperity is not limited to one person, group or nation, we must come up with common goals based on the shared needs. In order to define common goals and agenda, we must be able to look in our future and teach others to do the same. When asked about their personal futures 7–8-year-olds were most concerned about health issues, having a good life, and issues relating to work (Hicks, D. 2004, pg 169).  We all dream for same basic things, be it children or adults, therefore if world leaders genuinely come together to formulate an agenda where all the actors whether from South or North, rich or poor countries can work together to achieve common goals that benefit all, we can achieve global peace. 

  • Adams, David (Ed.). (1995). UNESCO and Culture of peace. Paris: Culture of Peace Programme UNESCO, 16-33.
  • Brecher, Jeremy (2003). Globalization today. In Aronowitz, S. & Gautney, H. (eds.). Implicating empire. Globalization & resistance in the 21sy Century world order. New York: Basic Books. pp. 199-210.
  • Edwards, Sarah (2009). A new debt crisis. London: Jubilee Debt Campaign, pp. 1-20
  •  Hicks, D. (2004). Teaching for tomorrow: How can futures studies contribute to peace education? Journal of Peace Education, 1(2), 165-178.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Birthday, USA, you're growing up!

If you miss me at the back of the bus and can't find me nowhere, look for me at the White House, I will be running the country right there!


It’s all about the roots! Our roots don’t pull us down, they enable us to grow farther away to explore the unknown skies! #roots #trees ...