Monday, December 29, 2008

Sreamfree Parenting - Your Children and You Deserve It

This is a big picture but that's okay because I think this is important. When I started LifePrints almost two years ago I sent out an email to all of my friends asking for ideas for posts. If they knew anyone who deserved recognition for making the world a better place I wanted to blog about it. My friend Brandon promptly replied to tell me about Hal Edward Runkel (a friend of his) and his idea of Screamfree parenting. I'm sorry to say that I filed the email away in my "LifePrints Ideas" folder. Until a few weeks ago when I saw the Screamfree Parenting book at the bookstore. I bought it. I wish I'd read it two years ago when Brandon brought it to my attention.

If you have children, if you have children in your life, if you ever want to be a parent...please read this book. It is not a how to book. It does not explain techniques to modify your child's behavior and turn him into a respectful, smiling child. What Runkel has to say is much more important that choosing between time out and grounding.

You might want to sit down before you read this.....It's not about changing your child. It's about changing you, enabling you to become the calm, steady voice your children need, and realizing that the way to be the best parent possible is to love yourself first and grow up.

It's about learning to be proactive instead of reactive...learning to love without demanding love in return...and learning that you are not responsible FOR your children but instead you are responsible TO them. There is a huge difference. I didn't get it at first but by the end of the book I did.

Here is what is so important, in a nutshell, Runkel wants us to be the grown-ups. Many parents need to mature and stop acting like children themselves. If this makes you bristle just think of a trip to the grocery store. Have you ever seen a parent have a tantrum because their child would not sit still in the cart? Have you ever seen a parent completely lose it verbally and physically because the child would not comply?

That's what I'm talking about....if you want to do better and give your children the best you can be this is the way. Hal Runkel also runs live seminars, trains others to teach this material and maintains a website full of helpful resources.

I devoured the book over the weekend. Now I'm going to spend time reading more slowly and answering the questions and doing the exercises in the book. He's on to something revolutionary and we all need to hear it.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Surprises

Since moving to Las Vegas, NV I've struggled with the warm weather. I love snow, white blankets that remind me that Christmas is near. I've had trouble getting used to twinkling light in palm trees and caroling in short sleeves.

God must have known that this Christmas has been especially difficult for me. I just wanted to ignore the whole thing. He sent snow...4 inches of snow to remind me that all is well in the world.

My children built snowmen, sprawled on the ground making snow angels, and had snowball fights. Todd and I went for a long walk around the neighborhood and caught snowflakes on our tongues. We threw a few snowballs too.

I am so grateful for this Christmas surprise. I needed it. My family needed it. Thank you, God for the lovely gift.


Speaking of giving gifts, I think I've found the perfect thing for the women in my life....a pajama gram. Isn't this awesome? I can send my mom or my sister-in-law pajamas in an organza hat box. I would love to get something like this...hint, hint, the red, velvet ones would be great.

If I order by the 23rd the comfy pajamas will be delivered in time for Christmas morning. They also have kid pajamas that come with a stuff doggie and a dog house. I can't get over how cute I think this is!

The best surprise of all is for something wondrous to happen to someone I love.

I can't say who yet but I have a close friend who's been contacted by the Oprah Winfrey Show!

She responded to a question on Oprah.com a few months ago...just for the fun it. It's the law of attraction at work. Be careful what you ask for. Now a producer wants to speak with her and possibly book her as a guest on an upcoming show!

I am still in shock, praying and visualizing her sitting on Oprah's stage. The world will love her and her sense of humor as much as I do. Her time is coming. I can feel it!

Have a Merry Christmas everyone. Remember to give and be gracious and grateful, not just now but all through out the year.

God Bless all of you!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Forgiveness - The Most Important Gift You Can Give Yourself This Holiday Season

Forgiveness, what is it really? "Forgiveness is a decision to let go of resentments and thoughts of revenge. Forgiveness is the act of untying yourself from thoughts and feelings that bind you to the offense committed against you," quoted from Katherine Piderman, PhD.

Why is forgiveness the best gift you can give yourself? Dr. Piderman says that bitterness and holding grudges results in long-term health problems for you. Your bitterness and feelings of revenge do not hurt or effect the person you are angry with. They hurt you.

By holding a grudge you have given your power and control away to the person who hurt you. Think about it...if you are constantly replaying a hurtful event in your mind, if you let these feeling rule how you feel during the day, if your feelings of resentment toward someone are crowding out your positive feelings about your life, if you feel out of control and helpless in the presence of this person...well, you have let the person who hurt you take over your life. Your life is now about reacting to them, how they will react to you and the negative feelings of revenge.

It's time to let go of the pain and consider forgiveness when you find yourself:

-Dwelling on the events surrounding the offense
-Hearing from others that you have a chip on your shoulder or that you're wallowing in self-pity
-Being avoided by family and friends because they don't enjoy being around you
-Having angry outbursts at the smallest perceived slights
-Often feeling misunderstood
-Drinking excessively, smoking or using drugs to try to cope with your pain
-Having symptoms of depression or anxiety
-Being consumed by a desire for revenge or punishment
-Automatically thinking the worst about people or situations
-Regretting the loss of a valued relationship
-Feeling like your life lacks meaning or purpose
-Feeling at odds with your religious or spiritual beliefs

When you forgive you are not condoning the actions of others. You are releasing yourself from past events so you can move forward in your everyday life. Saying 'I forgive you' is a weight off of your shoulders. It doesn't matter if the person who offended you ever changes.

Dr. Piderman says, "Forgiveness also means that we change old patterns of beliefs and actions that are driven by our bitterness. As we let go of grudges, we'll no longer define our lives by how we've been hurt, and we may even find compassion and understanding. "

Take the example of the Amish community in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania - In October 2006 a gunman lined up five little girls (the daughters of Amish parents) and shot them before shooting himself. The Amish live in a culture of forgiveness that is as natural to them as breathing. After the tragedy some of the families went to comfort the widow and three children of the gunman and attended the gunman's funeral.

This type of forgiveness is foreign to most of us in Western culture but it is taught very clearly in the Bible and most certainly in the doctrine of the Catholic church. Jesus tells us to behave in just the way the grieving Amish community did. If a parent whose child has been gunned down can be forgiving of the family of the man who committed the murder can't we forgive the every day slights and the bad judgment of others?

Again in her excellent article, Dr. Piderman advises this about how to know if you have truly forgiven someone, "Forgiveness may result in sincerely spoken words such as "I forgive you" or tender actions that fit the relationship. But more than this, forgiveness brings a kind of peace that helps you go on with life. The offense is no longer front and center in your thoughts or feelings. Your hostility, resentment and misery have made way for compassion, kindness and peace."

Forgiveness is a choice and an ongoing process. Give this important gift to yourself so you can be at peace not just during this holiday season but for the future. You are the most important person in this equation. To realize that your sense of self and security does not depend on the actions of others but on how you treat and feel about yourself is very powerful.

So, give forgiveness to those who have wronged you and offer apologies to those you've hurt. Be happy during this time of love and giving. It amazing how easy it can be.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Gift For My Readers - Eat And Be Merry

My dear friend, Gregory Kompes, put together a holiday recipe and story collection that could be shared during this holiday season. I know most all of the contributing authors. I can't wait to try the recipes they shared. Everyone contributed a story to go along with the good food. The writing is superb and fun to read.

I contributed my mother's pound cake recipe. My stepdaughter and I made one for Thanksgiving. This was the first time I'd attempted in all these years to make my mother's signature cake. We burnt it! Oh well, the inside tastes like heaven. I had to laugh...if you read my essay in the recipe collection, you'll understand why.

I hope you enjoy this gift. Let me know what you think. I promised to pass the comments on to Gregory. I'm sure he'd like to know that all his hard work is appreciated.

Happy Holidays!!! Here's the link to Recipes and Writing.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Helice Bridges - Who She Is Made a Difference to Me

This little powerhouse is my friend Helice Bridges. I am in complete awe of this woman and I'm determined to be just like her. She smiles at everyone. She loves to give hugs. She radiates fun, joy, happiness, and acceptance. Well, she is just radiant. There is no other way to describe it.

One of the first conversations I shared with Helice was about the organization she founded called Difference Makers International. I listened and inside my head I did something I'm not very proud of. I thought something like, "Yeah, yeah...that's all fine and good but I bet your exaggerating."

From then on every time Helice was near me I'd watch her and remember my dismissive thought. I continually learned from her to let go of judgment and just accept people for who they are because they are all beautiful and have something to offer.

In my last minutes with Helice, before we boarded planes to different states, she asked if she could honor me. She took a blue ribbon from a wooden case. On the ribbon printed in gold letters were these words...Who you are makes a difference. She told me all the ways I'd made a difference in her life over the last week. She said I deserved to have my dreams come true and to never underestimate the value of my contributions. (It hit me like a brick...that's what I'd initially done to her) I was overcome with emotion and gave her a big hug.

Please got to Difference Makers International and watch the short video about Helice , her impact on children and her quest to give recognition, praise and love to as many people as she can. Read the history of her organization and explore ways to bring the Blue Ribbon program to your community. The video is very touching. Helice's personality bubbles through. I know you will see in her what I did....a shining spirit, a living example of compassion and love for others.

Helice...if you read this...I'm working everyday to live up to your example! I'm so glad we met!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Obama - He Can't Do It Alone

This past January, during Nevada Democratic primary, I met a man and his wife who inspired me pull my head out of the political sand. I first met Barack Obama online where I researched his biography and positions on the issues. He caught my attention and made me think.

At my local campaign office I met him again. I saw him in the faces of the people manning the phones and typing away at computers. His face was old and young, white, black and brown. These faces welcomed me and my toddler. They played with my son while I made calls to fellow Clark County voters. Obama, through them, encouraged me to step up and be a precinct captain for the caucus.

I met Barack Obama at a Precinct Captain's Rally. He walked into the room and I felt the energy, not just his energy, but the energy he'd ignited in all of us. He was calm, personable and just plain fun as he thanked us for the hours we'd dedicated to his campaign - Our campaign, he said. The primary was in a few days and he knew we'd do our best. We did. My precinct went for Clinton but it was very close. I am most proud of the way the Obama supporters behaved that day while packed inside a school room with 100 other people. It was an example of how I know our nation can behave among ourselves and with the world.

I met him through his wife, Michelle. At a small house party she spoke about her upbringing and her family. She told us her father's advice about how to pick a life partner. She said something like, "My dad said you can tell a good man because he acts the same way when no one is watching as he does when he thinks everyone is watching." My eyes welled up with tears and I thought of my dad. For the first time I was able to put my finger on what made my father so special and the lesson resonated deep within me. It was plain to see that she'd found that sort of man in Barrack.
,

I spoke to Senator Obama at a rally in January. He called on me and answered my question about resending the over reaching powers of the Bush administration. His answer was thoughtful and even though I was far from the stage, he looked directly at me. He talked to me. It was a genuine, complete and thoughtful answer to a complicated question. He didn't blow me off with campaign rhetoric. He listened.

That is the kind of president I feel we elected last night...a thoughtful, insightful, inclusive, intelligent man who will take time to make sound decisions, listen to our input and tell us the hard, unvarnished truth. He's asked us to be his partner along the way. The president was never meant to be a dictator or an imperialist. The office was meant to be of equal power to the Senate and the House. He was meant to be a leader, a focal point for our concerns, and a voice to remind us that we are all One with a shared purpose and destiny.

I plan to be engaged. I've got my president elect's back but I'm also a loud voice of descent if need be. I am thinking about my friends and family who are now worried for our future. They didn't see in Senator Obama what I saw. Some of them are very scared. To them I say, don't give into that fear. Don't let it make you cynical or apathetic. Use it to speak up and out, be the squeaky wheel and with Obama's philosophy of inclusion our values will intersect to form a more perfect union. Our country will be better because of you and because of me. So will the world.

Thousands of people are blogging about this very subject today. I've spent the morning reading several but none are as honest and noteworthy as Heather's commentary on her blog, The Wishful Writer. Please take time to read another view. As Obama said last night, "The road will be long. There is much to be done."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Gary Zukav On The Importance Of Voting

I first heard of Gary Zukav 10 years ago and he's been a huge influence on my life since. His books, The Dancing Wu Li Masters and The Seat of The Soul, opened my mind and heart to new ways of looking at the world. Gary sees our universe as a peaceful place where people coexist in harmony. He believes God intended it to be that way and if you read his work or watch his lectures you will believe it's possible too. He has a peace and gentleness about him that is rare in our time.

He recently wrote about voting in the November 4th election. Here is some of what he had to say....

It is time to vote. The most important presidential election, perhaps in American history, is approaching. Voting is your only way to determine what you want, what you stand for, what your life is about. When you “throw away” your opportunity to vote, you vote anyway. You vote for apathy, indifference, powerlessness.

What you vote for gets elected. You are the only one voting in the election. The candidates are always love and fear. Love runs on the harmony, cooperation, sharing, and reverence for Life ticket. It presents itself as gratitude, caring, patience, contentment, appreciation, and more. Fear runs on the discord, competition, hoarding, and exploitation ticket. It presents itself as anger, jealousy, resentment, superiority, inferiority, need to dominate, need to please, and every obsessive thought that you think (such as, He is so stupid; I am so stupid), every compulsive activity you engage (such as workaholism, perfectionism, savior searching), and your every addictive behavior (such over-eating, smoking, gambling, watching pornography, shopping, alcohol, drugs).

Listen carefully to the candidates that are running for election. Get to know them. Let yourself imagine what it would be like to live in the world they want to create. Do you want to live that world? Each time you vote, the candidate you choose wins. You act on your anger or not, challenge your jealousy or not, indulge the need to please or not. You can lose the ability to vote in a democratic election. It is not guaranteed and it would not exist without the courage and blood that were required to create and maintain it. Don’t throw that courage and sacrifice away. Love your neighbors enough, including those who have come before you, to honor their gifts. People like you have died so that you can vote. Voting in a democratic election is that precious.

You will never lose your ability to vote for love or fear. It cannot be taken from you and you have no option but to use it. Each moment that you are angry you must challenge your anger or act on it, challenge your impatience or act on it, challenge your sense of hopelessness or let it control you. Each moment you vote for the world that you want to live in by choosing a loving part of your personality or a frightened part. No one counts your vote. Each vote creates consequences that you encounter in the intimacy of your own experience. Only your vote stands between you and the life that you want to live, between joy and pain, between meaning and emptiness.


It's time to vote...Love, Gary

Take a moment to ponder these things as you stand in line to vote. If you've decided not to vote in the election, think about your reasons and if they serve you well. If they don't..now is the time to choose to do something different.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Look, See, Move - Are You Ready?

What happens when you are faced with an opportunity to do something different? Do your palms sweat? Does your mouth go dry? Do you feel like you are going to be sick? That was me - the queen of indecisiveness. Not making a decision was easy and I could blame the results of my inaction on everyone else. "I didn't do anything. It was them."

For those of you who are regular readers of LifePrints, maybe you noticed the absence of posts in the last two weeks. There is a reason for that. I've been making decisions and all of them kept me away from my blog. Let me explain....

Two weeks ago I left for a seven day seminar in the mountains above Napa Valley, California. I went to PSI7, the second course offered by PSI Seminars. Along with 95 other people on my team, I learned what it meant to trust myself and to trust others. I left tons of emotional baggage in the valley below a spectacular cliff line. I figured out why I do many of the things I do that slow me down and get in the way of my goals and happiness. I also figured out I don't have to be that way.

We make hundreds of choices everyday. We decide between thousands of options, mundane things, really. But for me, the choice to speak up with a solution or join in a conversation were paralysing moments in time. I knew if I just stood still the opportunity would pass and I'd be safe.

Something interesting happened to me on the third day at the seminar. I'd been confronted over and over with the clear knowledge that based on results, the way I normally ran my life wasn't working so well. I decided to do something different and throw myself completely into the events and lessons that remained during the week. Every chance I had I chose to do what my heart told me was right...I made friends - I spoke up when I knew what I had to say was important - I contributed to the events instead of hanging in the background. And here's the clincher, when it all came together...

I have never been an athletic person and I have an intense fear of heights. Ask anyone who knows me. During one event, I harnessed up and climbed a 30-35ft telephone pole, balanced on top and leapt for a trapeze bar hanging out in space. I caught it and I found myself when I did. I literally danced as my belay team lowered me to the ground. Best of all, I have pictures to prove it. My favorite is me, perched just below the top of the pole. I love the look of determination on my face as pushed past my terror and I set my mind to standing up.

"This is the look, see, move seminar people! Didn't you know that?" I can still hear the staff shouting those words. Well, my life is the same..."Life is look, see, move, Lisa! Didn't you know that?"

I do now. I get it. So since returning from this transformative, empowering week, I've been using my time to reconnect and truly connect with the people in my life. I'm learning that it takes much more effort to "be engaged" in each day than it does to just trudge through it, head down, eyes cast on the sidewalk.

So I'm reordering my priorities. I have some great stories percolating for LifePrints. They will be up very soon but computer time now falls squarely behind family time.

Here is in a nutshell what I want to convey to you, my precious blogging friends - When you look at a situation, see the potential, and move before the opportunity passes you by. Be it as small as a smile to a stranger, a kind word to the checkout clerk or as risky as starting a business you know will make you happy or telling that special someone how you really feel about them.

Follow your heart. You'll be glad you did.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lists Are Useful, Uplifting, and Often Totally Random


I'm reading a fiction book (The Writing Class by Jincy Willett) where the main character is a compulsive list maker so now I'm inspired. Here are a few you might find amusing on this overcast Thursday afternoon.

Whenever I think I'm weird for wanting to be, trying to be, and sometimes being a vegetarian I'll remind myself that these famous people were just as weird:

Sir Isaac Newton

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hans Christian Andersen

Charlotte Bronte

George Bernard Shaw

Henry Ford

Mahatma Ghandi


When people call me a Greenie I'll remember that environmental activism is cool to these people:


Dr. David Suzuki and his daughter Severn Suzuki

Julia Butterfly

John Robbins

Paul Watson

Al Gore


Quick list of ways I can be frugal in this challenging economy:


Make things last by fixing instead of throwing away.

Borrow books from the library instead of buying.

Rent movies from NetFlix instead of going out to the movies.

Plan meals and buy whole foods in bulk.

Stay away from prepared, packaged foods.

Park my car and walk more often. Most everything I need is within a mile of my house.

Buy my clothes second hand. Las Vegas is a great city for that..lots of rich people giving things away.


When I'm down remember the people who inspire me:

My family.

Martin Luther King Junior

Amelia Earhart

Grace Lee Boggs

Allene Morris

Ryan White

Nelson Mandela

Bono (Paul Hewson)


Random list of things I love:


my pets (even the ones acquired by my kids).

the sound of rushing water.

a sky filled with hot air balloons.

my childrens senses of humor.

the smell of mountain air.

my husband's arms around me while I sleep.
____________________________________________
Feel free to add to or make your own list in the comments. This could be fun.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Blog Award - Someone Loves My Little Bloggy

My dear friends Fin and Meg at Housecat Confidential have given me this award. Apparently they love LifePrints. Well, I love you right back! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to pass on some blogging love to my buddies.

Here are the rules: Link to the giver - Link to the ones you give to - Give to up to seven bloggers - Notify them of the award.

So, drum roll please. I love!!!!

Linda Lou because not only is she a kick butt blogger and writer but she's my friend...the real kind...like I see her, in person, as often as possible.

Helen, also a real life buddy, writes the funniest things. I love her politics and love her.

Then there is Helene, not to be confused with the previous Helen. I also know this lovely lady. I'm sensing a pattern here....lovable bloggers that I know.

I have to give kudos to Heather. I never miss an opportunity. She's a rising star and I'm proud to know her...even if it's only virtually, but we're gonna fix that someday, I hope.

Okay, girls...go forth unto the blogging community and spread the love! Have a great day!

Lisa

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Lyrics For Life - Music With A Mission

Sister Hazel is one of my favorite bands. I had the pleasure of seeing them in concert for the first time a few weeks ago. We had general admission tickets so Todd and I arrived early. There was a small table set up at the club entrance with a sign that read "Lyrics For Life" and a framed poster of Sister Hazel's concert dates.

"You can win that," A lady who was standing next to the table said. "The raffle money goes to Lyrics For Life."

"What's that?" I asked.

"A charity that helps kids with cancer. It was started by Ken." I must have wrinkled my brow because she added, "You know, the lead singer of Sister Hazel. His brother died of cancer when he was young. It's his way of helping out."

I bought a ticket and knew I had to know more about this person, the owner of the voice I so admired, and the cause he championed. After the concert, the band members signed autographs and when it was my turn, I told Ken Block I wanted to write about Lyrics For Life. He was very kind when I asked if I could send him a few interview questions.

Lyrics For Life was founded in honor of Block's brother, Jeffery, who passed away at the age of 18 after a four year battle with T-Cell lymphoma. He was an inspiration to Ken. From the L4L brochure he remembers...

I was in the room the day the doctor told my brave, battered brother, "There is nothing else we can do." And my brother looked up, tears slowly welling up in his eyes and said, "Well, thank you for giving me four years I never would have had without you." He's still my hero. I miss him today and every day.


Ken makes it easy for the music community to make a difference in a cancer victim's life. There is an annual benefit coming up on October 18th in Clearwater, Florida. Artists donate items for auction, most often framed, handwritten lyrics for one of their songs. Through out the year, Lyrics for Life hosts concerts and events and so far has raised almost a million dollars for childhood cancer research and organizations that support the families and the kids.

During my research I found a video of Ken performing with Edwin McCain at a Lyrics for Life event. Other artists that have participated in the cause are John Mayer, Matchbox Twenty, and Elton John....there are many more on the list of supporters.

I decided not to bother Ken with my questions since the group is on tour. I'd like to thank him for a great concert and his tireless efforts to make this world a softer place for people and their families who've been touched by cancer.

If you would like to help out, the L4L website takes donations and has merchandise for sale.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Read Before Voting

As the 2008 US Presidential election looms on the horizon, I have to remind myself to stay calm. For the first time in my life I truly care about the outcome. I honestly think that one candidate is a better choice. In past election years I've been known to say, "I voted but I voted for the lesser of two evils." Not this year.

I won't tell you how to vote, never, but I will implore you to be an informed voter. Dig deeper than the soundbites and political ads. Make sure you understand the issues so that when one campaign or their mouthpieces attempts to twist the truth (this used to be called lying) you will know it is happening.

Here are a few books that will help you along the way. I've found these to be the most balanced portrayals of modern politics and the pressing issues facing a new president. I have more if you finish these but this is a good place to start.

The Arbinger Institute's The Anatomy of Peace is the best book, in my opinion, on how to foster peace in the world, but also in your community and your home. It's easy to understand and a quick read. The authors use the Jewish/Arab conflict as a backdrop for some of life's most important lessons.


Beyond Tolerance, is an in depth look at the other side of the post 9/11 world. We are bombarded with hateful/fearful rhetoric about terrorists, what they look like and who we should fear, and the religious divisions since the attack. This book thoughtfully shines a light on people of all religions who were prompted by the events of 9/11 to come together in love and compassion and resist the easy path of hate.

The author shows us, through the work of others, that it is possible and necessary to not just tolerate religious differences but to embrace them as our founding fathers did. Knowledge of and respect for the views of others are imperative in our shrinking world. The United States is filled with many different religious groups. Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Shik, Buddhist...we are all Americans.

Alpha Dogs is a very interesting look at the two men who formed
Sawyer Miller, the political consultant firm who served as backroom strategists on every presidential contest from Richard Nixon’s to George W. Bush's. You will never watch a campaign ad again without thinking about these men and the way they changed campaign strategy forever.

Just remember, to a campaign strategist you are a consumer not a voter. They want you to buy not think. If you think too much you might see through the smoke screen and actually vote your conscience. What a concept that is!..to vote your conscience. Next time you watch a campaign ad, think of it like an ad for kids cereal or a new car. See if you can find the similarities and then give it as much weight as you do the ads for Lucky Charms and the new Hummer.

Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama and Faith of My Fathers by John McCain. If you really want to understand the choice before you, you must read these two books. How better to know a man than from his own words.

Please vote. Please vote responsibly. The future of our children depends on you exercising your civic duty. There are only a few more days to register to vote. Register today.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Book Banning - Simply Unconstitutional


The First Amendment to the United State Constitution says:

CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW RESPECTING AN ESTABLISHMENT OF RELIGION, OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, OR OF THE PRESS; OR THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, AND TO PETITION THE GOVERNMENT FOR A REDRESS OF GRIEVANCES.

In 1966 Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave this dissenting opinion in Ginzberg v. United States, 383 U.S. 463 - "Censorship reflects a society’s lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime . . . .”

Why am I pointing this out?

September 27th to October 4th is Banned Books Week - Celebrating the freedom to read. This is the 27th anniversary of the American Library Association's attempt to draw attention to this basic democratic freedom - the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. The ALA stands on the principle that intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

What are the four most frequent reasons for petitioning for censorship? They are family values, religion, political views, and minority rights.

Would you be surprised to know that Mark Twain and Toni Morrison are on the most challenged author list? That To Kill A Mockingbird and The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland were once on banned book lists? This is why it is so important to uphold and support our freedom to read what we wish because if we don't, it soon follows that we will not be able to think or say what we believe.

Here is what Supreme Court Justice Anthony M. Kennedy had to say about regulating thought (Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition):

“First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought."

Please support Banned Book Week in your community. The American Library Association website has a complete list of ways to participate and draw attention to the cause. As a writer and lover of books I think this is such an important issue and freedom provided to us in the founding documents of our nations, one that we must remain on vigilant watch to protect.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

To Save 7,000 Children - Is That Too Much To Ask?

Geoffrey Canada runs the Harlem Children's Zone. His goal is to ensure that the poverty stricken children in Harlem, New York are provided the same access to education and services as middle-class children around the country. His Foundation is amazing and the project is enormous but the scale doesn't seem to bother him at all. You can see it in his eyes when he talks, he can't stand to leave behind even one child in the 60 block radius where the Foundation operates. He wants to save them all and who can blame him.

Harlem Children's Zone programs are many, too many to mention in one short article...all with basically a cradle to college mentality. Canada and his companions are trying to reshape the culture of the entire community, not just raise the percentage of kids that graduate from high school.

I am most impressed with a program called Baby College. Parents and soon-to-be-parents enroll in a comprehensive 9 week course that teaches them how to parent. Many of these young adults came from fractured families or traditions of neglect and depravity. They need help and a skill set to know how to effectively parent their little ones. How can they emmulate something they've never seen? They have to be shown in order to do it.

Lessons about such basic topics as proper feeding, childhood diseases, and playing with your baby are alien to many of the parents. Baby College teaches a method of discipline without hitting that will help to break the cycle of abuse and foster care.

The Harlem Children's Zone website boosts that for the sixth year in a row 100% of the kindergartners enrolled in Promise Academy, their charter school, were preforming at grade level and 97% of their 8th graders were preforming grade level math. These are astounding improvements in a community where nearly half of the teenagers don't finish high school on time.

Canada's methods are controversial in some educational circles but I applaud his efforts. He's in the trenches trying new ideas every day. What more can we ask of someone? He's so inspirational that Barack Obama has cited the Harlem Children's Zone as a model he'd like to replicate in at least 20 more inner-city communities if he is elected president in November.

With vision, it is possible to save more than a handful of the next generation.

Monday, September 15, 2008

What To Do When Kindness Is Rejected

You went out of your way to smile at the bank clerk and she didn't even notice. You spend all day searching for the perfect gift and when you give it, it's tossed aside like yesterday's newspaper. You make breakfast in bed for your spouse and his only response is, "You know I don't like scrambled eggs." I think you get the point. You're kindness was not received in the way you expected.


What do you do when this happens to you? I imagine you feel bad, let down and ask yourself what was the point. Please don't.

Gary Chapman, author of The Five Languages of Love and Love as a Way of Life, says we must realize that it is not our responsibility to make people respond positively to our expressions of kindness. We all have the ability to receive and return love or to reject the love offered to us. When a person rejects our kindness, it's easy to pull back or get angry. But people are free to accept kindness with gratitude or turn it away, to accuse you of selfish motives or to reciprocate with kindness toward you. What we must remember is that their response is out of our control.

In our world, relationships do not always work the way we want them to. We might never see the influence of our acts of kindness. But when we love authentically, we remain kind even when loving is difficult. If someone rejects your kindness you can continue to hope that in time he will turn and walk toward you instead of away. In the meantime, hold on to your attitude of love and kindness.

If it was a random act for a stranger that was rejected keep in mind that many people do not trust strangers. You know your motives but they are not always clear to the other person. So don't be offended when an offer is turned down. For every time your kindness is rejected there will be many more when it is greatly appreciated.

So what do you do when your act of kindness is rejected or goes unnoticed? Just smile. After all, who were you doing it for anyway and why? For yourself and your own edification? Or because you truly care about another? If it's the latter there is no reason to feel bad...bursh off your ego, move on, and DO.

You'll be glad you did.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Senator Robert C. Byrd Writes A Letter To Our New President

Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia is the longest serving member of the United States Senate in history. Senator Byrd has been in office for 54 years and has served alongside 11 presidents. He was twice elected by his colleagues to the position of Senate Majority Leader and currently is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In his 90 years on this Earth he's lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement, the Cold War, and 9/11. He is a living history of the 20th century. In his new book Letter To A New President, Senator Byrd strives to share the commonsense lessons he has learned throughout his long life, over half of it spent in politics and service to the people of West Virginia and our nation.

I'll admit that I am a baby to politics. I'm ashamed to say that I never really worried about my government until one day less than a decade ago I slowly began to wake up and realize my country was a very different place than I'd imagined. I'm also ashamed to say that until yesterday when I picked up his book from the library I knew next to nothing about Senator Byrd.

I have a new found respect for him and his story. He reminds me of my grandfather and my father, strong Southern men who've had to change with the times, having some of their most basic values about society tested and proved false. What I respect is their ability to adjust and grow, admit mistakes and soberly move on.

What is his advice to our next president? It's so simple and also like sitting in my grandparents house listening to ruminations about how to lead an exemplary life. Byrd counsels the new president to:

-Find a way to reach the American people in much the same way as Franklin D. Roosevelt did with his fireside chats. Talk to them as a friend or family member, from a place of compassion not condescension.

-Remember that no life stands outside of history. We are products of our time and we must learn lessons from the past. He quotes revolutionary war hero, Nathanael Greene in saying, "Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." (I love this quote.)

-Never lie or mislead. "Nuff said.

-Build a presidency around accountability. "The buck stops here," said Harry Truman of his time in the Oval Office.

-Let the press do it's job, even when what they say about you stings.

-You will make mistakes. Take responsibility for them without hours of well planned spin and talking papers for justification.

-Be well versed in diplomacy. It's a skill that will serve you more than any other with foreign relations.

-Bring the nation together by putting an end to partisan warfare and replacing it with real debate.

-And for heavens sake, teach the people about the Constitution and encourage them to think for themselves and speak out, even if it is against you, most certainly if it is a voice of dissent. Those voices will be your compass on this difficult journey.

My goodness, do I respect this man and his wisdom. He is nearing the end of his political career and some have said he's become a doddering old fool. I would counter that he is an icon of a bygone era of respectable public servants. His book is a voice of reason in a turbulent time of talking heads and beeping cell phones.

I'm so glad I stumbled on his book and pray that a copy will be waiting on the next president's desk in the White House and he will eagerly devour and refer to it often.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thoughts on 9/11 - Seven Years Later

This morning my husband and I watched MSNBC as they replayed the tapes from the World Trade Center disaster. I watched it all over again, as if in real time, but with a running commentary in my head about how our country has changed in the years since that day. I was struck by the innocence of the journalists as they tried to relate to the viewing public what the images meant. I thought about my children, especially my oldest son, and wondered when he officially stepped over the line between innocence and adult cynicism. I don't know, but I think 9/11/2001 was the day my country grew up. When I think about my country I feel the same way as I do when I look at my young adult son..."What's happened to you and are you going to be okay? Sometimes I don't know who you are anymore."

But when I got in the car and tuned into KNPR, my local public radio station, I was hit with a different prospective. They were running a story about the dedication of a memorial at Logan Airport in Boston, Massachusetts. I was struck by a comment from a MassPort official. He said that because the two planes that were hijacked and crashed into the World Trade Center both originated from Logan that employees at Logan will always feel a sense of responsibility and a depth of sadness that few people can understand. I got that and it hit me hard.

I knew one of the men who died in the Pentagon. He was an acquaintance and I only met once but it was just prior to the plane diving into the building. He didn't even work at the Pentagon. He was there for a meeting. Max Beilke's smile and firm handshake are forever etched in my mind. I didn't know until today while researching this post that Max was the last US combat solider to leave Vietnam. He lead an extrodinary life.

Not long after the tragedy I was asked to speak during a memorial service at my church in Harvest, Alabama. Here is a little of what I said that day...

I searched diligently for comforting words but I have none because I am in need of the same comfort. I look to people I trust to help me determine where to go from here. They remind me we should stand tall, bringing the United States together under a loving God for the good of the world. They tell me we should continue to pray for the victims, their families, and the tireless rescue workers. They also remind me of the most difficult concept of all...that I am called by Jesus to forgive. I am to remember that nothing happens in this world outside of a Divine plan. And most of all, good things and miracles will not end because we have been wounded.

Seven years later I want to pass on again that good things and miracles will not end, have not ended because of our loss. The world is filled with danger but it is equally filled with love. We do not need to tighten our ranks, see enemies around every corner, and lock our doors against the world. The opposite is true...if we only believe it is so.

The glass memorial at Logan is a beautiful reminder of our capacity to heal and learn from our past. I guess my biggest question on this day is what have we learned and how have those lessons shaped our present? And what about the future?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Post Secret - Suicide Prevention On A Post Card

Have you heard of PostSecret? No?

Here's how I would describe it...it is the world's confessional, it is a place to purge your darkest fears, it's a chance to share without judgement, it's an art project, it's therapy, it's fun, it's heartbreaking, it's freeing, and once you've visited you go back again and again.

In a 2007 interview with the Torontoist, Frank Warren, the creator of PostSecret, characterizes the phenomenon this way, "I think a secret is something that, when you’re keeping it, you think nobody would understand. But as soon as you share it, it doesn’t just connect you to your humanity, it connects you to the larger community in a way that’s very meaningful, I think."

Six years ago Frank Warren gave out 3,000 postcards and asked people to write a secret on it and mail it back to him. He asked two things - the secret must be true and the writer has to have never shared it before. He received about 300 cards back and used them in an art exhibition.

Then something miraculous began to happen. He'd find postcards in his mailbox, beautiful postcards that strangers decorated and wrote their deepest, darkest secrets on. The project took on a life of its own. Frank decided to create PostSecret, a blog where every Sunday he posts a selected number of the anonymous cards to share with the world.

How does this relate to suicide prevention?

One of the leading causes of suicide is a feeling of isolation. PostSecret allows people to free themselves, to lighten their burden, and see that they are not alone. By reading and sharing they see that everyone feels as they do or they are not so weird or they don't have it as bad as they thought.

Also, PostSecret has grown into a community of readers that is over one million strong and one million people make for a powerful voice. Last year when the suicide prevention hotline 1-800-SUICIDE was in danger of closing down, Frank posted a call to action on his blog. PostSecret readers sent over $30,000 in donations directly to the hotline to keep it going.

Frank believes strongly in what he is doing. He respects the people who send in their secrets and they trust him. So far he's published 4 books filled with the postcard collections and he tours college campuses giving presentations about the tranformative power of sharing with others.

Frank says, "Free your secrets and become who you are." Sounds profoundly simple but aren't most truths that way?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Suicide Awareness Week - September 7-13, 2008

This is Suicide Awareness Week, sponsored by the AAS (American Association of Suicidology). The AAS is dedicated the the worldwide understanding and prevention of suicide. IF YOU ARE IN CRISIS AND NEED IMMEDIATE HELP, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The AAS website is filled with information to help you determine if someone you know and love is at risk. Use these resources to educate yourself and help prevent a needless death. After you are armed with the facts, trust your gut instincts. If someone is acting differently that normal, is severely depressed, or you are worried about their safety, please act. Isn't it better to tell someone and be wrong than to have noticed and kept quiet and find out your instincts were right?

I want to share a very personal piece of writing with you so you will know you are not alone in fearing for the well-being of someone you love. The pressures of our world are great and suicide is on the rise among young people. Be the one who sounds the alarm.

For M.
by Lisa McGlaun

My young friend, why do you cut yourself?
I found you bleeding, red-slashed and dazed in the corner of your room.
I thought I'd thrown away the glass, the metal, and the sharp razors you're so fond of.
How was I to know you'd shatter your favorite CD and
Use it to let out your pain.

Do you feel better now?
Did it work?
Did you find ecstasy in the ripping of your flesh?

My young friend, why do you do this?
I hold a towel to your wound and rock with you on the floor.
Let me,
Let my love for you be the razor, slicing open your memories.
Let the ecstasy be found in releasing your sorrow in drops of words.
Words won't drip like your blood but the pleasure will be just as sweet.

Do you feel better now?
Did it work?
Do you feel lighter, letting your heartache flow out in tears and screams?

My young friend, I don't want to find you dead.
Next time I fear you will slash
Your throat
And leave your beautiful arms untouched.
You move closer to your jugular each time you cry out.

Would you feel better then?
Would it work?
I can promise you there is not release in your death.

Only a young man ripped and bleeding, left to die by his own trembling hand.
_____________________________

If you know someone in this situation Do Something. Tell Someone...NOW.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

On The Shoulders Of Others - Remember Those Who Paved The Way

I worry that Americans have become a complacent breed, willing to sit back and be told what to do, what to fear, and what to believe. Lately, I've been reminded it was not always that way and doesn't have to be that way now...if we just pay attention to those who went before us.

Women gained the right to vote in 1920 by the passage of the 19th amendment to the Constitution. Our female ancestors fought long and hard to be granted the same privileges as men in our free society.

They protested. They rallied. They petitioned, marched and met in groups slowly changing attitudes during the 70 year struggle. They were beaten, jailed and starved themselves for their cause.
A few of the movements loudest voices actually died before seeing a clear resolution.

Since then a long line of women have paved the way up the political ladder. I am proud to watch their rise and feel that their presence brings a much needed balance to power. I've enjoyed the jolt of energy I've felt seeing local and state offices fought for and won by responsible women here in Nevada...not to mention the women who've made it (and almost made it) to be part of the highest political ticket in our land.

Sarah Palin is a current example. She and I differ vastly on most every issue and I won't vote for her party's ticket just because she is a woman (that would be irresponsible), but I applaud her efforts and the torch she carries in honor of our gender. Because of women like Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Stanton, and Lucy Burns, Palin stands before the electorate asking for our vote.

Here is the text of the speech Susan B. Anthony gave in order to win women like me and Governor Palin the right to vote and access to all the important steps that followed. Remember, this was 1873 and she died before the 19th Amendment was passed.

Friends and fellow citizens: I stand before you tonight under indictment for the alleged crime of having voted at the last presidential election, without having a lawful right to vote. It shall be my work this evening to prove to you that in thus voting, I not only committed no crime, but, instead, simply exercised my citizen's rights, guaranteed to me and all United States citizens by the National Constitution, beyond the power of any state to deny.

The preamble of the Federal Constitution says: "We, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."

It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union. And we formed it, not to give the blessings of liberty, but to secure them; not to the half of ourselves and the half of our posterity, but to the whole people - women as well as men. And it is a downright mockery to talk to women of their enjoyment of the blessings of liberty while they are denied the use of the only means of securing them provided by this democratic-republican government - the ballot.

For any state to make sex a qualification that must ever result in the disfranchisement of one entire half of the people, is to pass a bill of attainder, or, an ex post facto law, and is therefore a violation of the supreme law of the land. By it the blessings of liberty are forever withheld from women and their female posterity.

To them this government has no just powers derived from the consent of the governed. To them this government is not a democracy. It is not a republic. It is an odious aristocracy; a hateful oligarchy of sex; the most hateful aristocracy ever established on the face of the globe; an oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor. An oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant, or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters, of every household - which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord, and rebellion into every home of the nation.

Webster, Worcester, and Bouvier all define a citizen to be a person in the United States, entitled to vote and hold office.

The only question left to be settled now is: Are women persons? And I hardly believe any of our opponents will have the hardihood to say they are not. Being persons, then, women are citizens; and no state has a right to make any law, or to enforce any old law, that shall abridge their privileges or immunities. Hence, every discrimination against women in the constitutions and laws of the several states is today null and void, precisely as is every one against Negroes.

See, Governor Palin...words are powerful, words are inspiring, words matter because with words come a call to action and with action came a change from which you and I have benifited greatly.
Please, as you represent the women of this country, remember that mockery is not your friend and the shoulders you are standing on are many and diverse.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Self-confidence Found In An Ancient Zen Story

Wisdom can be found in all religions and philosophies. In my opinion, the most balanced and well-adjusted people are the ones who see connection and synchronicity in the world around them. It's exhilarating to find that many of the parables of Jesus share a common thread with Zen teachings and the words of Buddha. It says to me that there is universal truth that we can all draw on, learn from and take comfort in. It reinforces that God, the world, and all contained in it belong to and is part of you as well as me - no matter the name I give it. Here is an example of a Zen story that speaks to me when I am bound up in fear and self-doubt. Maybe you will find inspiration in it, too.


Great Waves

In the early days of the Meiji era there lived a well-known wrestler called O-nami, Great Waves.
O-nami was immensely strong and knew the art of wresting. In his private bouts he defeated even his teacher, but in public was so bashful that his own pupils threw him.

O-nami felt he should go to a Zen master for help. Hakuju, a wandering teacher, was stopping in a little temple nearby, so O-nami went to see him and told him of his great trouble.

"Great Waves is your name," the teacher advised, "so stay in this temple tonight. Imagine that you are those billows. You are no longer a wrestler who is afraid. You are those huge waves sweeping everything before them, swallowing all in their path. Do this and you will be the greatest wrestler in the land."

The teacher retired. O-nami sat in meditation trying to imagine himself as waves. He thought of many different things. Then gradually he turned more and more to the feeling of waves. As the night advanced the waves became larger and larger. They swept away the flowers in their vases. Even the Buddha in the shrine was inundated. Before dawn the temple was nothing but the ebb and flow of an immense sea.

In the morning the teacher found O-nami meditating, a faint smile on his face. He patted the wrestler's shoulder. "Now nothing can disturb you," he said. "You are those waves. You will sweep everything before you."

The same day O-nami entered the wrestling contests and won. After that, no one in Japan was able to defeat him.
__________________________

I discovered this story on 101 Zen Stories. Go there to read the remaining 100.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Kindness of Bloggers and Cats

On Wednesday night Tami Cowden and I co-taught a workshop for the beginning blogger at my local library here in Nevada. We had 40 plus people in attendance and wow, were they a lively bunch. They tested my blogging knowledge with tons of relevant questions. I hope they walked away feeling more confident and ready to dive into the world of blogging.

One of the highlights of the evening was seeing Meg, the mother of Fin the amazing blogging cat. Fin sent a gift for my cats, Harry and Domino. He shared two cans of his beloved Fancy Feast. Now that's generosity. It really does mean something when a cat shares the items most near and dear to its heart.

Another was seeing familiar faces in the audience. They were their to learn but I like to think they also came as support. Among the Henderson Writers' Group, my fear of public speaking is well known. Maybe not, but like a teenager with a big zit on her nose, I'm positive everyone can see my fear radiating bright and red. I was very happy to see John, Linda, Judy, and Helene.

When I arrived home I showed Harry and Domino their gift. They were very happy and couldn't understand why it took me so long to open the cans. Duh, I was documenting the event for all to see. Especially Fin.

My cats were very grateful to Fin and anxious to devour what was hidden in the little cans. They sniffed and pawed at the tins until finally I decided I that I might be inflicting emotional torture upon my sweet pets.

I stopped snapping photos and filled their bowls. I must agree with Meg, Fancy Feast is very aromatic, much more so than Friskies (the typical feline fare served in my house). But I think it was the smell that drove Harry and Domino completely mad with desire and anticipation.

They ate the treat in record time. As they smacked away, I told my family all about the night at the library -how proud I was to have sold a copy of Writer's Bloc II and signed my name for the buyer - how happy I was to know the answers to all the questions put before me (except, how to move mail from a web based service into Outlook. Not my expertise, sorry John). - how excited I was to be asked back to do more workshops and to participate with Tami in a new writing project.

Life is good for me and my cats. Thanks to the kindness of a room full of new bloggers, I'm feeling less nervous about speaking before a group. And thanks to Fin and Meg, my cats are feeling like they want more Fancy Feast...good cat food is addictive and kindness is contagious, so they tell me.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Caregiver - Stepping Up When A Loved One Needs You

Sometimes your life changes in an instant and instead of inviting your adult son over for dinner you're holding his head coaxing him to eat just one more bite. Other times change comes so slowly you don't notice the metamorphosis until you realize that your mother not only depends on you to balance her checkbook and drive her to an endless secession of doctor's appointments but lately she needs help with baths and personal care, too.

The majority of us will be faced with situations similar to these or we might even be the recipient of the loving kindness of another. Let's face it, even if we avoid a serious illness or accident, we are living decades longer than previous generations...if we are not the caregiver, we will mostly become the cared for.

I am often reminded of my mother and the way she tirelessly cared for two sisters and an aunt. Every week for nearly twenty years she shuttled between two nursing homes, forty miles apart, to look after the people she loved. They needed her. She was there and that was that. In her words, "Someone had to do it so I did."

When I think of this I am renewed in my guilt that my mother is in her seventies and I, her only child, live thousands of miles away. One day, I know that will have to change. She will need me and I will make the necessary adjustments to care for her as she did so faithfully for others.

Many times my mother felt overwhelmed and didn't know where to turn for help. She muddled through it the best way she could. Apparently, things have not changed much since the twenty years since. I spoke with a friend recently who shared that her husband had been diagnosed with a debilitating illness. She's feeling the same isolation and confusion as my mother and so many others have experienced.

For my friend, and all those I know who are in her situation, I've compiled a short list of places on the web that might be helpful. I want my friend to remember that she is doing a noble thing, a loving and charitable thing at a time in history when it seems people turn away from heavy responsibilities. I want her to know that she is up to the task and she has support. Caregivers should be held in the highest esteem. As with my mother and many like her, my friend has my respect.

To care for those who cannot care for themselves is our highest calling as human beings and is rarely recognized as such.

Caregiver Resource List:

National Family Caregivers Association
Helene Moore, Author of Behind the Mask
Caregiver.com
Administration on Aging
Family Caregiver Alliance
Resources from the US Government
Ways To Connect With Other Caregivers from the American Cancer Society

Disabled Veterans
Alzheimer's Association
Emotional Side of Chronic Illness

I hope this helps in some small way. Reader, if you have a link for this list please put it in the comments section and I'll add it as soon as I can. Share you story, if you have one, it might just help someone in the same situation.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Announcement - Radio Interview and Author's Panel Next Week

If you live in or near Las Vegas, Nevada come spend an evening with me and Tami Cowden.


Blogging Your Way Through Life: How to start your own on-line journal
Wednesday, August 27th at 6:30pm
Clark County Library
1401 E. Flamingo Road
Las Vegas, Nevada

The Internet has become the cheapest and fastest way for an author to market her book while keeping her writing skills fresh. Join local authors Tami Cowden and Lisa McGlaun as they explain how to start your own blog, proper blogging etiquette, popular on-line journal communities, protecting your website content and using your blog as a marketing tool for selling your book to the general public. A book signing and light reception to follow the presentation. For more information, please call (702) 507-3459.
And on Monday, August 25th at 10:00am on KNPR 88.9FM, Lisa and Tami will be guests on The State of Nevada discussing how they began blogging. They'll pass on their best tips for running a successful blog. Listen live in Nevada or catch the rebroadcast at 7:00pm or the show archives.

I'm very excited about this opportunity to speak in conjunction with Tami Cowden. She is an appeals lawyer, romance author, and public speaker. She also runs writing workshops that breakdown the character archetypes used in story telling. And my stomach fills with butterflies just thinking about the radio show. I listen to Dave Burns on KNPR most every day and now he is going to interview me! I'm flying....that's all I can say!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Supersize Me Backwards

"You can't win today's game with yesterday's pitches." This is a drop of wisdom from Frank Ferrante. What does he mean? He means that in order to succeed and have the happy, healthy life he desires he must renew his spiritual connection everyday. And just how did a 55 year-old, ex-addict from Brooklyn come to this revelation?

Watch May I Be Frank? for the answer. May I Be Frank? is an independent film conceived by Ryalnd Engelhart, Conor Gaffney, and Cary Mosier. The idea for the film took shape when Frank Ferrante walked into Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco, CA. Ryland struck up a conversation with Frank and soon learned what the overweight and sick Ferrante wanted more than anything. He wanted to fall in love one more time.

Ryland asked Frank if he'd be part of an experiment. He told him that he could help him better his life in 42 days by switching him to a raw food diet and teaching him to think abundantly. Frank's reaction was something like, "Yeah, right." But something inside of him said to give in to the process.

Josey Duncan writes an inspiring article in Ode Magazine about Frank's journey to health. It wasn't easy and at the end of Engelhart's filming they had to surrender to the fact that outcomes are not predictable. Granted, Frank was forty pounds lighter, rebuilding past relationships, and had reversed his Hepatitis C diagnosis but he wasn't healed yet.

During the year after the filming Frank became addicted to prescription pain killers and backslid into isolation and depression. It took another 12 step program to finally bring the epiphany Ferrante needed. These days, he is working on his master's degree in humanities, does volunteer work and has been clean of all "mind altering substances" for over a year. He feels healthy and his eyes sparkled when he told Josie, "My life is good. It's free of drama." Then in true Frank form he added, "Probably because it's free of a girlfriend, too. I'm still looking for her."

Engelhart hopes to have May I Be Frank? ready for screening at the Sundance Film Festival in September. This is one movie I would love to see. Frank is a testament to life itself. What was his epiphany, you may ask?

When Frank moaned I don't know why I'm not dead yet, his counselor looked him squarely in the eyes and answered, "The real question isn't why aren't you dead, it's why are you alive?"

That would wake anyone up to the possibility that they are worth the effort of finding out.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I'm a Kick Ass Blogger - Yeah Baby!

My friend, Jerry at As The Crackerhead Crumbles, passed on this cool award to me. I'm not really sure how it originated or what it's supposed to say about me so I'll give you my interpretation.

To me, a Kick Ass Blogger is someone who puts her best into her blog and takes the responsibility seriously. Even if their blog is funny or satirical, the blogger cares about her readers and passed on information that is true to the best of her knowledge. A Kick Ass Blogger writes with a purpose and is relentless in pursuit of excellence. A Kick Ass Blogger is an awesome writer and works tirelessly on her craft so that her posts are interesting and informative. A Kick Ass Blogger cares about the blogging community and is active within it.

I hope this is what Jerry meant when he thought of me for this award. I know I think he fits into this category of dedicated bloggers. I do my best with LifePrints and hope that in some small way I am making a contribution to my readers and through them, the world.

I have a few people I'd like to pass this award along to, bloggers who are Kick Ass in my book:

Claudia who owns Museworthy. She's an artist model in New York. Oh how I would have loved to have lived submerged in the art community. She gives me a peek into that world.

Heather runs The Wishful Writer. She's probably getting tired of all the awards I send her way but she deserves them. She's my Hollis Gillespie, my Carol Burnett...I don't know what I'd do without her blog to make me laugh.

And finally, Anok, my favorite anarchist. Her political views and passion never fail to ignite my own. She shares her opinions on Identity Check.

My hat is off to these three bloggers. Keep it coming, ladies. You make me proud to call myself a blogger.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

$4.00 per Gallon For Gas - A Positive Catalyst For Change

I recently read a story in Newsweek magazine about a woman just like me - a mother/taxi driver/scheduler/helper. Jennifer Perrow parked her mini-van and presented a challenge to her family. She made a game out of seeing how long they could go without buying a tank of gas. To her surprise, her family jumped at the chance to be creative.

Here's what happened:

-Now she bikes with her children to swim lessons -She borrows books from friends instead of running out to the bookstore - Her family eats out at the variety of restaurants within one mile of her home - She jogs in her neighborhood instead of driving to the gym to hop on the treadmill - Her children carpool to school both there and back - And she says her dogs are loving the increase in exercise because she's taking them on walks to reduce her stress.

Jennifer is not the only one changing her lifestyle and parking her car as much as possible. According to a survey by AARP, leisure and vacation driving is down this summer. In my home state of Nevada, AARP reports that leisure driving is down by 6.7% and people are using alternative forms of transportation more frequently.

Networks and stories of people who've given up their cars completely are popping up on the Internet. Here are a few: Don't Drive, Living Without a Car: My New American Responsibility, Google Groups Frugal Living.

If going car-less is too much of a stretch, others have led the way by parking their rides and hiding the keys in the freezer (much like people do with credit cards) to reduce the temptation of jetting to the 7-11. And then there are families like mine who dream of using our car less but we don't know where to start.

For people like us there is a new book by Chris Balish, How To Live Well Without Owning A Car. This is my next purchase at the bookstore. He promises to show me how to save money and the environment by parking my car. I look forward to some practical advice for a family of seven.

Monday, August 11, 2008

What Do You Make Of These Quotes?

Saint Augustine of Hippo said, "Love and do what you will."

He said, "Once and for all, a short rule is laid down for you: Love, and do what you will. If you keep silence, do it out of love. If you cry out, do it out of love. If you refrain from punishing, do it out of love. Let the root of love be within. From such a root nothing but good can come."

Can you see this concept working in your life and the ways in which your daily interactions with others would be different? What would happen if we all lived this way?

Saint Augustine was a prolific writer. His best known work is Confessions, which is an account of his early life. He also wrote The City of God to restore fellow Christians faith in God after the destruction of Rome by the Visigoths in 410AD.

Here is another Saint Augustine quote to ponder: He said, "Hope has two beautiful daughters. Their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are."

What if we all got angry about poverty, homelessness, and hunger? What if we all had the courage to make sure things did not remain as they are?

Think about it. What do Saint Augustine's words mean to you?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

29 Gifts - One Gift A Day To Change The World

Cami Walters suffers from multiple sclerosis. During a particularly rough period of her chronic illness she asked her spiritual teacher, Mbali Creazzo, for help. Mbali suggested an African spiritual ritual of giving away 29 gifts in 29 days. This was to help Cami step away from herself and her suffering to create a new story, one that centered around the needs of others.

Cami tried it and was so moved by the experience she decided to share it with the world by starting the 29-Day Giving Challenge. She created a website and formed an online community where people could register and share their stories. Her goal is to have 2,000 givers signed up for the challenge by September 29, 2008.

At last count she had 781 people signed up and active on her website. That's 781 people reaching out to someone every day. Cami wants us to recognize that we all give gifts, even if we are not aware of it. It could be that we let someone go ahead of us in the check out line. Maybe we returned books and paid the library fines for a sick friend. Or maybe the gift was a simple smile to another motorist instead of the all too familiar finger.

That doesn't mean that you can't give big, too. Donate your old car to a needy family. Pay an elderly person's power bill who can't afford to run her air conditioner. Sell the ring from a marriage that's ended and donate the money to a homeless shelter. The ideas are only limited by your imagination and willingness to let go.

Cami also recommends being spontaneous with your gifts. She was tempted to line her hallway with numbered goodies and plans for each day until she realized this was completely counterproductive to a spiritual exercise of this kind. She suggests to just let each day unfold, give what you are moved to give, journal about it at night, and be gentle with yourself if things don't go as you would have liked.

Cami posted a video explaining to viewers why she started the challenge and how to join. It's very simple. There are stories on the website and giving ideas from members. There are meetings where you can get together with others doing the challenge. It's a real community experimenting with the idea of a world where people are as anxious to give as they are to receive.

Give it a try. I'm going to.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Righteous Among Nations - What It Means To Be A Hero

How many fifteen years olds do you know that would risk their lives for another? You might quickly answer NONE, but I'd ask you to remember that (if you are American) the crop of teenagers you are familiar with have not been tested. I like to think they would be heroic if called upon to act and I also hope they are never tested in the same was as Maria Lopuszanksa.

At the tender age of 15 Maria, a Catholic, was all that 8 year old, Jewish Janina Pietraskiak had to cling to. Maria was the teenage daughter of Anti-Nazi parents. Her parents were part of the Polish Underground during World War II that worked to shelter and save Jewish families. Little Janina was part of one of those families in jeopardy.

Janina and her mother were hiding in the Lopuszanksa home when suddenly her mother succumbed to tuberculosis. She was alone. After that, to further protect Janine, she was baptised into the Catholic faith and adopted as a member of Maria's family. She clung to her new family out of fear and loyalty, refusing to go live with an uncle in the United States.

At one point the girls had to fiend for themselves during the Warsaw uprising of 1944. Maria's father was ill and her mother had taken up arms against the Nazis in the city streets. They saw bombs exploding, corpses and worse atrocities happening within feet of them. The girls narrowly escaped death. Janina recalls how she buried herself in Maria's skirt and how she thought of the teenager as a protective mother. But Maria was just a girl herself...a heroic one, maybe a little like a young girl in your life now. Who knows?

At 79, Maria lives in a nursing home in Warsaw and Janina visits her sister every day. Recently, she petitioned the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem to have Maria included as one of the "Righteous Among The Nations".

Under a program created by the Israeli Foreign Ministry in 1963, 15,000 non-Jews have so far been recognized to be "righteous" because of their efforts to save, aid, or transport Jews to safety during the Holocaust.

These individuals have their names inscribed on a wall at the National Holocaust Memorial. They are given the Righteous Medal and a certificate of honor. Those that are found to be in financial need receive monetary gifts from the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous.

Maria was awarded 1,200 dollars per year to help with her living expenses and medicine.

The title, reserved as the highest honor for non-Jews, has gone to people from 44 countries. Poles made up the largest number, 6,066, followed by the Netherlands with 4,863.

Maria and Janina are bonded for life, sisters of the heart as much as sisters of circumstance. Theirs is a beautiful story of selflessness - Maria to Janina when she was a young frightened child and now, Janina to Maria in the frailness of old age. We should all learn from their example.