Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

I scrolled and scrolled, and I was being reeled in like a fish who couldn’t resist the tie line.  It had me in it’s grip and with each new post about Trump, Bannon or Devos I tapped on the article and read it like a soap opera addict, I couldn’t wait for the new plot line to come out each day.  However, unlike a soap opera which isn’t real, what I was reading was and I became engrossed in it, scrolling to find more stories and replying with intensity and a sense of feeling I was doing my duty in trying to get others to see what was happening to this country…but was I? or was I just involving myself in heavy drama and having this be a focus to steer me away from the death of my best friend.  Whatever the reason being, I noticed that I was experiencing stomach pains and nausea while I would be engrossed in political conversations and that when I stopped writing and got out of Facebook, my stomach started to calm down. I was having Trump stress pains and it wasn’t good.  I decided this wasn’t worth my health, it wasn’t worth getting so upset that I wanted to kick something or reach through my computer and yell at certain people who refused to see the hatred, it was causing me to be angry, that which I was upset for seeing happen, was happening to me. I decided to pull away.  I wondered, what will it be like if I change my role here?  What if I just become a silent observer? Can I do this? Can I read a news story or a post about something that infuriates me and not give my opinion about it?  It was time to find out.  I also wanted to know in this world of “socialness” what would happen if I stopped being social.  Did the world need to read about my viewpoints or see my posts on my dating foibles or viewpoints, I wasn’t sure but thought it would make an interesting experiment to not say a thing.  The exception to this was I did allow myself to post in the classified sections of Facebook.  I sell things here and there and didn’t want to stop myself from being able to make a little money here and there.


The silent journey begins….


The first week was hard, I would read a post and immediately click on the comment button and start to furiously write but then I would stop, hit back space and take a deep breath.  I would remind myself that I didn’t’ have to give my 2 cents on everything out there.  I just became about scrolling and reading and taking it in.  It was hard though to not comment when people would post a picture or video of an event that they were participating in or a birthday they were having.  To those birthdays I haven’t written a Happy Birthday to , I apologize but I am sending you hugs and love.  I would still watch cute cat videos but this time not post them. I would still look at the posts that asked all sorts of questions but not answer them.  Three weeks in and it was a little bit easier.  I would still get notifications but now they were mainly for classified ads or groups I was a part of.  The content on my page also changed drastically, from showing friends videos to showing more stories from 22 words and the Los Angeles Times.  My ads even changed, for some reason Facebook thinks I am bulimic because I must have read a story on it…and no I am not bulimic or anorexic.   I noticed that my friends still thought I was online based on answers they put on the questionnaires the filled out.  You know those posts that ask you things like name 4 places you have been, name 4 of your nick names.  These almost always have a question at that bottom saying name someone you know will respond or repost this.  My friends, even a month and a half after I stopped posting, still put my name.  I didn’t respond or say anything but I was amused by it.  I felt like the girl who wasn’t invited to the party but everyone keeps acting like I was there.  Oh you remember when so and so did this at the party and it was so funny and my response being, no I don’t know I wasn’t there.  They give you that inquisitive look, no, no you were there, I remember.  You shake your head and say flatly, nope it wasn’t me and they aren’t sure what to say because they really thought you had been invited or had been there but you weren’t.  I did have one friend who wrote to me on messenger, about 2 ½ weeks after I had stopped writing. I almost always replied to her sweet posts about her children and wonderful mate and she wanted to make sure I was okay.  It was very touching to me and I wrote her back explaining what I was doing.  I did write to her on and off through out the 2 months.

Not being contacted or having most people notice I was gone made me  wonder about my presence as a person and how strong is it really?  Not very when it comes to social media.   It hurt to some degree but I just took it in and realized it was something I needed to work through and figure out.  How I do this I am not 100% sure of but I know I am open to growing and also open to connecting with people on a deeper level.

I do need to note that I have certain people on Facebook, such as Family and close friends that I talked to outside of the Facebook world.  It is interesting because none of them said anything to me about not posting or not seeing me not commenting on their feeds.  I wasn’t completely void of connection with people.

In the last few weeks of not posting on Facebook, I find myself wanting to comment on certain posts of people who are going through specific things. I have a friend who just had a baby, a beautiful boy. I am so incredibly happy for her and her husband. I love seeing the pictures even though I think she worries she will be one of those moms who is in overkill mode with the pictures, she is not and believe me with all the trauma going on in the world, seeing a sweet baby sleeping in his father’s arms is something I want to see more of.

I am ready to enter the world of Facebook again but this time realizing that it is just a website, not a home. It is social…yes but more in a acquaintance sort of way. I also realize that in life I don’t want to be a part of a lot of the surface stuff, the how’s the weather conversations or what is considered to be small talk but I also don’t want to be in a war all the time with the political turmoil that is all around us.  Peace within myself and my body is more important now. It is more important to connect with people who want to go somewhere and have coffee or who want to connect and see how each other are doing.  I step back into this wondering what is next with it….How do I use this social media to enhance my life?  Do I use it to report to those I know what I am doing, after all a lot of the people on Facebook that I am friends with don’t live in the same city or even state, some don’t’ even live in the same country so it is not like I can sit down and have  a coffee with them. One of the reasons I love Facebook is for just this reason. I can see the people (whom I used to hang out with when they lived in LA ), what they are up to, what their children are doing.

The world we live in now has connection through online means.  It is a vessel but it is not the complete ship, I have realized that I need more, more people to laugh with, more people to sit across a table and see their smile light up or be in a movie theatre eating popcorn together and bonding over our love for the Jedi’s.  This is a connection that isn’t the same through a screen, it can’t hug me or bring me food when a friend has died and these are the connections I seek.  I love Facebook for the people, for the funny cat videos, for the inspiring stories and for seeing people whom I love dearly and miss across the miles but it is time, time for me to be in a non virtual world so that I can one day post about me and my friends being at a dinner table and laughing and connecting, instead of scrolling though my feed and seeing others do this and wishing it was me.


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Tomorrow (December 12) is my 41st Birthday.  To celebrate I want to write 41 things I am grateful  for.  In this life we tend to concentrate on what we don’t have, and where we aren’t. There is always something to be grateful for and at this time of the year it easy to forget when we are consumed with buying gifts, driving here and there in a frenzy. I challenge you to stop each day of this holiday season to take a minute to think of the things you are grateful for in this life, it is not hard to do, it can be from small things (I am grateful for the bird outside my window) to large things (I am grateful for the money a friend sent me). Recenter yourself and your life and have a grateful New Year.Here is my list of 41 Things (not in any particular order, they are all important to me)…

  1. I am grateful for my mom buying me a plane ticket to be with the family at Christmas.
  2. I am grateful for the sun shining today – feels so good.
  3. I am grateful for my adorable cat Romeo.
  4. I am grateful for my dearest friend Linda, for her being there for me so much, for making me laugh, crying with me and sharing with me through good and bad.
  5. I am grateful for my friend Christina, for her laughing with me, growing with me, spiritually guiding me, and for being an amazing woman and friend.
  6. I am grateful for my sisters, for there emails, phone calls, and caring so much.
  7. I am grateful for Verdugo Jobs Center and how helpful they are.
  8. I am grateful for my feetsie pajama’s and how warm they keep me at night in this cold weather.
  9. I am grateful for my friend Yavonne, for her humor, for taking me to the movies when I need to get out, for her wisdom, strength and inspiration.
  10. I am grateful for Clothing swaps, media swaps and swaps in general.  I have had so much fun at them.
  11. I am grateful for all of my paints, canvases and supplies, that allow me to express myself and do something I truly love.
  12. I am grateful for my god children, Jai and Naia, for there constant love, acceptance, joyful exhuberance, creativity and intelligience.  I learn so much from you.
  13. I am grateful for friend Sam. For his caring about me, for his humor, for his smile that stays with me, and for the sweetness he exudes.
  14. I am grateful for my friend Mary, for our late night phone calls about family, and life, for her dedication to our friendship and for her knowledge about so many things.
  15. I am grateful for nature, for the beauty that surrounds me, for trees, flowers (roses are right outside my apt) and for the beach and mountains.
  16. I am grateful for cotton candy ice cream from Rite-Aid…..Yummmy.
  17. I am grateful for the show Extreme Makeover Home Edition, for what they do, how they inspire me and for being able to see people do care.
  18. I am grateful for movies that make me laugh, cry and think.
  19. I am grateful for my computer and for my friend Mark who lent it to me.  Thank you Mark, you are such and good friend and I am grateful for you.
  20. I am grateful for my Woman’s Artist group and for the support I recieve there.
  21. I am grateful for the Spiritual group I belong to, for the wisdom, caring and joy I get from it.
  22. I am grateful for having an adventurous spirit.
  23. I am grateful for my bed, yes you read right my bed, the best bed in the world that helps me get a very good sleep every night.
  24. I am grateful for all the wonderful gifts I have got for my birthday.
  25. I am grateful for chocolate…oh devine chocolate.
  26. I am grateful for the Really Really Free Market, for what it represents, for what I have got from it and for the people who run it.
  27. I am grateful for Alanis Morrisette. For the vulnerability, humor and growth she expresses in her music.
  28. I am grateful for surprises, oh how I love fun surprises.
  29. I am grateful for the memories I have of my dad, of his hugs, his laughter, and our wonderful talks.
  30. I am grateful for being able to express myself, living in a place where I can do that.
  31. I am grateful for chinese food, especially Wonton Soup from Panda Inn.
  32. I am grateful for the medical clinic that I go to, for the way they are patient, caring and help me when I need it.
  33. I am grateful for the Library, for me being able to use the computer to print things when I need to.
  34. I am grateful for Sunday drives that lead me to interesting places.
  35. I am grateful for being able to be in Santa Barbara to celebrate my birthday with my friends.
  36. I am grateful for the  new curtain rods I got today, they are very cool.
  37. I am grateful for my friend Charles who always remembers my birthday and sends me funny e-cards.
  38. I am grateful for Starbucks Vanilla Frappucino, man I love those little bottles
  39. I am grateful for Charles Schultz creating the Peanuts and especially Snoopy which I just love.
  40. I am grateful for being open to change, for being inspiring and inspired and for learning so much in my life and sharing my wisdom.
  41. I am grateful for having lived 41 years and still going strong, learning more and smiling at the journey ahead.
  42. This is the bonus…going into my 42nd year…..I am grateful for new adventures, for the love I have from family and friends and for dreams coming true.

Thank you for reading my gratefulness, now go share yours 🙂  

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Each year Christmas commercials start earlier and earlier. This year they started in the beginning of October. I couldn’t believe it. It was August and the department stores already had Christmas ornaments and such for sale. I am not anti-Christmas but I have begun to wonder what are we really celebrating and why? Christianity tells us it is about the birth of Christ. When I was a child I was told that the reason we bought gifts for others is because God gave us his greatest gift, his son and we give gifts to others to symbolize this. Then as I got older and started to learn more, I was told Christ wasn’t even born in December, he was born in the summertime and the whole reason we have it at Christmas time is because it goes well with winter solistice and the whole winter theme. Either way, (whether Christ was or wasn’t born in December), I find myself wondering what is all this gift buying all about. I like celebrating, it is fun, I like getting together with those I care about and laughing and being with them but does this have to be the only day we get gifts for those we love. Why not have a random day in the year where we just buy someone something and give it to them to tell them hey I appreciate you and love who you are.
Adbusters started a campaign in 1992, The Buy Nothing Christmas Day. This has got me thinking even more now, after seeing this commercial (see below). I personal love getting what I call home made or memory made gifts. An example of this is in 2001 my parents put together a picture collage of me from birth to that time, with little captions underneath of my life from there viewpoint. This was incredible touching to me and when I look at it, I think they put there heart and soul into this instead of just going out and buying any old thing. This I will have for the rest of my life. My father passed away in 2003 so it means even more to me now. Do we have to spend hundreds to thousands of dollars to express our love and gratitude or is it enough to do something from the heart or like my friend Charlene and her husband Dave do every year, take the money they would put into gifts and they buy gifts for Toys for Tots and then they bake yummy goodies for families and friends. I am not sure if I will be able to buy Christmas gifts this year because I haven’t been working for 2 months but I’d like to think that the people who love me, love me whether I give them a gift or not.

Below is the Adbusters commercials for Buy Nothing Day and also comments from adbusters.com

Buy Nothing Christmas is not really about refusing to spend a dime over the holiday season. It’s about taking a deep breath and deciding to opt out of the hype‚ the overcrowded malls‚ and the stressful to–do lists. It’s about reminding ourselves to really think about what we are buying‚ why we are buying it‚ and whether we really need it at all.


Every christmas makes less and less sense to me. you spend money you don’t have, to buy gifts a person does not want. i have a closet full of stuff i do not want that people have bought me. yet, when i am in need of money for something, no one is to be found. it is asked, what do i buy the person who has everything, and yet, there are so many people without, and no one dares ask, what should we buy them. it’s amazing we are so willing to spend on each other, but forget those who are in need.
joshua, philly

I asked for less. I will never forget the day that I read this in adbusters asking for less. Christmas is hard for a young person to stay sane and stay reminded of the real meaning of holidays. I have felt polluted for far to long. My words of wisdom for the holidays are to be conscious of everything you do in each step you take everyday.
Cheryl Mann, Syracuse, NY

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I am not pro-war and when asked by people who are, well how can we stop it, if we don’t we will be attacked by terrorist. The answer is in getting to the root of the problem, the way the mind thinks. The article below is about an unbelievable organization called Seeds of Peace, working towards change. I contacted the magazine this came from (it is taken from Science of Mind Magazine, October 2007 edition), to find out if I could get an electronic copy sent to me and they said the don’t do that, so I am copying it word for word.
The Seeds of Peace Take Root

We are warriors of hope,
We are masters of understanding,
We are pioneers of respect,We are soldiers of trust,
We are leaders of tommorrow,
We are Seeds of Peace.

It all began with a small summer camp. Fourteen years ago, in the woods of western Maine, the seeds of hope were planted. It was here that forty-six young Israeli and Arab teens were offered an unprecedented opportunity to break the cycle of violence and work together to bring peace to a world of war and conflict. Motivated by the bombing of the World Trade Center earlier that year, John Wallach, a seasoned journalist with two decades of experinece in the Middle East, enlisted the support of Israel, Egypt, and Palestine in bringing young people from all three countries together, on neutral soil, in the United States. Putting a human face on the enemy, he believed, he could pave the way to compassion, trust and understanding.

In August of 1993, The Seeds of Peace Camp for Conflict Resolution welcomed its first campers. Just a few weeks later, on September 14, at the invitation of President Clinton, these young people from opposing “sides” stood together as wintesses to the signing of the Oslo Declaration of Principles. Fourteen years and thirty-four hundred campers later, Seeds of Peace stands as an inspiring example of the power of vision and the transformation of hate into hope.

The “Seeds” have taken root and now each summer, some four hundred-fifty campers from the most war-torn areas in the world gather in rural Maine to attempt to do what governments can’t: create peace and understanding one person at a time. They come as representatives of their individual countries, prepared to debate, defend and discuss their position with those they have come to view as the enemy. The delegations that arrive in camp are comprised of the brightest and best their respective countries have to offer. Hand picked by their governments through a highly competitive application process, these youthful delegates are accomplished and motivated.

The Maine program, which is the cornerstone upon which all Seeds programs are built, affords campers the opportunity to create a new model of community and coexistence.

In many ways this camp experience is strikingly ordinary–days are filled with swimmng, sports, arts, crafts, music, drama and a variety of group activities.

But in very significant ways, is also anything but ordinary. This camp isn’t just about basketball and boating. There’s plenty of that, of course, but there’s also a great deal of work to be done.

Founder Wallach once described the experience as a “detox” program where participants have the opportunity to get rid of hatred before it has the chance to poison their minds and trap them in another cycle of self-destructive conflict. Professionally facilitated, intense daily dialogues allow campers to share their fears, frustrations and hopes for the future. Historical biases are aired, individual perspectives are examined and current conflicts are discussed. They hear each other’s personal stories and learn that they share common experiences.

Group challenges, both physical and psychological, unite participants through cooperation and shared success.

Even the simplest activities such as living and dining with each other provide opportunities for bonding and sharing that campers could not experience in any other setting. Intentionally grouped by conflict areas, the teens bunk together with others from their region: for example Israeli youth share accomodations with Palestinian and Arab youth.

Bobbie Gottschalk, cofounder of Seeds of Peace, explains, “When we bring these teens to the United States to be in a camp setting with people from the other side, they start putting a face on those people; they’re looking them in the eye and relating to them. Normally, you would only be in that kind of setting if you were friends or relatives–you would not sleep right next to your enemy, nor would you ever sit and eat at the table with them or play games on the field–those are the things you do with your family or your friends.”

Although some of these young people from the Middle East may live only a mile away from each other, she explains, they would never have contact; their differing political and religious views would make interaction impossible. They would remain physically seperated by stereotypes about each other–judgements handed down from generation to generation based on perceived histories of the war.

She continues, “There’s a comfort level that people find even in the most stressful war situations. There’s a comfort level with just being with your ‘own kind’ and being against ‘the other kind.’ You don’t have to think very much–it’s ingrained.” Drawing campers out of that comfortable position is the goal of these sessions.

After watching campers over the years, there is no doubt in Gottschalk’s mind that these teens leave camp profoundly changed. And the impetus for that change comes not only from camp programs, but also from fellow campers whose stories of courage and determination serve as powerful inspiration for their peers.

Gottshalk’s cites, as an example, the emotional journey of one of young Seeds graduate, a Palestinian youth from the Gaza Strip. In 2000, when the second Intifada broke out, she explains the Israeli army took over the house Yusuf was living in. His father refused to allow the army to destroy the family home and insisted that they be allowed to stay. The soldiers moved in, occupying the top floors of the home while the family of seven was relegated to living in one room on the main floor. Family members are required to get permission to use the kitchen and the bathroom and were always accompanied by a soldier. In February of 2004, United Nations representatives were granted clearance to meet with the family. After a short visit, Yusuf and his father walked the workers to the front gate. As they were saying their good-byes, a soldier from the upper floor shot the fifteen year old Yusuf in the back. Paralyzed, and with a bullet lodged in his spine, Yusuf was transported to a hospital in Israel. There he received the medical attention he needed to enable him to walk again. However, they were unable to remove the bullet and he lives each day in constant pain. And yet, she says when people ask him how he feels about Israelis, Yusuf explains that only one Israeli shot him and dozens of Israelis helped him regain his life.

In the summer of 2005, Yusuf was invited to the Seeds of Peace Camp where he interacted daily with both Palestinian and Israeli youth. Upon his return to Gaza, he gifted one of the soldiers still living in his home with a green Seeds of Peace T-shirt. “It’s a powerful story,” says Gottschalk, “but all the stories are like that.”

The campers, she says are bright, talented, and motivated. And, upon graduation, they reintegrate into their own societies with a new perspective. Some return to their countries knowing that military duty awaits them; the reality of war cannot be ignored. Providing continuing support for Seeds graduates after returning home is an integral part of the Seeds of Peace Program. Follow up programs are in place in all the conflict areas, represented by the campers. In the Middle East, for example, two hundred Israeli and Palestinian Seeds participate in an Advanced Coexistence program which offers them an opportunity to meet on a weekly basis at different locations in Israel–on both sides of Jerusalem as well as the West Bank.

The Seeds program has reached beyond the Middle East into dozens of conflict areas all over the world, including India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Cypress and the Balkans among others. Workshops, conferences and bi-communal projects are among the many ways graduates are able to stay connected with the Seeds community and build on the camp experience. “We don’t just have a camp, Gottschalk points out, “we have year-round on -the ground services to anybody who’s ever been to Seeds of Peace.”

The organization’s current direction, however, may be one of returning to its roots. As a stand-alone organization that relies primarily on private funding, becoming overextended can become an issue, she says.”

We got into the whirlpool of trying to do more and more each year,” Gottschalk explains. “Part of growing up as an organization is recognizing where your strengths are and where you should be putting your effort.”

Although Seeds will continue to support their other programs, the focus will be shifting back to the Middle East and South Asia. There is still so much work to do there she says.

The influence of Seeds of Peace on the youth of war-torn areas has not gone unnoticed. The group received a Congressional Letter of Support in 2005 which read in part, “We are at a moment in time where we have an opportunity to move towards peace in the Middle East, and we must move forward expeditiously…We are strong supporters of Seeds of Peace because we believe that peace will ultimately depend upon breaking down barriers and mistrust among people from these regions of conflict. Governments negotiate agreements; only people can define the quality of peace.”

The Seeds of Peace vision of “empowering leaders of the next generation,” continues to unfold. Gottschalks’s desire for the program, in terms of outcome, she says, is “to have a number of Seeds in positions of influence in their society…I am hoping that the next generation of leaders will have enough people trained in Seeds of Peace to turn things more in the direction of wanting to understand the other side wanting to live in a cooperative relationship with neighboring countries.”

Even though the oldest of Seeds graduates is now only in his or her twenties, they have already begun to have an impact. Gottschalk tries to keep track of program’s graduates after they return home. Although most of them are still very young, she is encouraged: “I would say that a number have gone on to beginning-level jobs working in their embassies or working for the United Nations or the World Bank or other global organizations. I know one Israeli who is finishing law school and will soon be clearing for a Supreme Court Justice.”

She also speaks glowingly of a yong Israeli woman, now in her mid-twenties, who began as a Seed in 1995. Her years following th camp experience included work with a number of human rights organizations, two years at United World Colleges in India, a stint in the army patrolling the Lebanese border and, ultimately, obtaining a master’s degree from Georgetown University. “She is now working for a worldwide public relations firm,” Gottschalk relates.

American Seeds graduates have also begun to emerge as powerful voices for the next generation of peacemakers. Jennifer Miller brings the Seeds story to readers all over the world through her book, Inheriting the Holy Land. Miller’s work chronicles her six month stay in the Middle East as she follows up with her former Israeli and Palestinian Seeds now back in their homelands. The book, which won the 2005 Moment Magazine Book Award for Young Writers, has garnered praise from Madeline Albright and the Washington Post, among others.

Gottschalk believes we have only just begun to see the impact of Seeds graduates on the world landscape. With time, she says, these young people will emerge as the leaders of the next generation–leaders motivated to work for peace. In the meantime, Seeds of Peace continues its work of bringing nations together one camper at a time.

To learn more about Seeds of Peace visit www.seedsofpeace.org

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