Sunday, November 30, 2008

what I am grateful for

Here's a quick list, by no means exhaustive

  1. My cousins visited us! It was very pleasant and gave me the chance to cook like crazy. I was glad to spend time with their baby, who is a darling little boy of 6 months, 14 pounds, and one extra chomosome.
  2. I am grateful my baby (now 14) was easy in just about every way, and has been healthy and normal (more or less).
  3. I have done a pretty good job of exercising for 3 months now!
  4. My health is good. Maybe even great.
  5. My family is healthy. My spouse is in far, far better shape than one year ago, when he was in a walker, getting food and meds through a tube to his stomach, and we were between surgeries.
  6. My cats continue to give me immense joy.
  7. We live in a peaceful state. Not perfect but I am grateful for a warm dry place to sleep, and food in my belly. And no shells hitting my home.
  8. My wonderfully generous neighbor bestowed more coffee on me, and I have not spent $ on coffee at home since Feb 2006. Thanks, Eric.
  9. Strangely, I am grateful to be free from eldercare worries since my parents are long gone.

That's it for today.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Is anyone reading this blog?

I started writing 3 months ago and have received ONE comment. I don't want to be discouraged.... But I am.

Peace y'all


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

On the very verge of a hhhhhhhhh HOLIDAY

I am about to plunge into a holiday weekend and hope I enjoy every moment of it. I doubt I will enjoy every moment but expect to have quite a few good ones.

I hope you do as well.

I also invite you to tell me what you are thankful for this Thanksgiving. I will do likewise, but not right now

Peace, y'all


Steps 13-15 for personal peacemaking

This wonderful article in the August 2008 Friends Journal came from Lynn Fitz-Hugh. By sharing this with you, friend, I reinforce it for myself. Steven Covey called this "third-party teaching," meaning you learn something better if you learn it with the intent of sharing it. So I invite you to read what follows with the intent of sharing it with someone else.

13. When someone else is disappointed or angry with us, this does not mean we are bad or unworthy. "We may have been told this in the past, and therefore this feeling may readily rear its head. It actually just means the other person is having a lot of strong and perhaps complex feelings. It is a good idea to care about others' feelings, but when we start operating/speaking out of guilt or shame, we are now actually having a competing upset that steals the attention from the person who was originally upset. Once two people are upset, the whole thing becomes a much larger mess."

Rarely do I feel bad or unworthy, thanks to God

14. Dragging other people in by trying to convince them of our point of view or trying to get others to choose sides just makes the conflict bigger and worse. "As a result, this causes pain in additional people and is another reason for the person with whom we are in conflict to be angry with us. it is one thing to ask someone to process feelings with us (ideally someone who does not know the person) or to speak without identifying the person. But it is quite another thing to 'compile a case together' or confirm each others's negative feelings."

Wait, wait, don't nations (especially ours) do exactly this with other nations? Hmmm, this warrants some contemplation. Anyone want to help?

15. When we direct all of our actions towards trying to prevent another person from feeling a certain way (angry, hurt, disappointed) we find ourselves caught in co-dependent emotional caretaking. "We need to redirect our attention toward how we are feeling, what our needs are, and how we feel about our own behavior."

Amen Amen Amen Amen Amen

Two more installments, and we'll have all 21 steps presented. I peaked ahead: 17 is a no-brainer, and 21 is a snap for me. Good, that means I can work harder on other steps. Today I think it will be #10, and look for what each person I relate to (in conflict or otherwise) can teach me. And I will share it.

Peace to you. Personally.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Steps 10-12 for personal peacemaking

Here are steps 10-12 of Lynn Fitz-Hugh's 21 steps on personal peacemaking. These were published in August 2008 in the Friends Journal.

10. Each person has something to teach us. "People do not arrive in our lives by mistake, even when we did not choose them to be in our lives. If we successfully evade one "nuisance," another one with the same traits will show up It is best to learn the lessons about ourselves and life that we are to learn from this person. That we do not like this kind of person is not the lesson. This person is in your life as a teacher..."

I guess this means that the person and the conflict will point to something in ourselves we can improve. This is a lot like looking for the good, or answering that God, in each person.

11. Judging a person or deciding 'who is wrong and who is right' is just another form of blaming. People have differences in opinion, in cultural norms, in styles of doing things, in interpreting information, and in acting in the world There is not a right or a wrong way about this. Our standards are right for each of us because of the life we have lived. That does not make our standards right for someone else who has lived a different life ... When we judge someone else or try to define him or her as wrong based on 'our truth,' we are insisting that our way is the way. Instead of this we must acknowledge and accept the differences. We must figure out how to build bridges across the differences."

oooooh I really like this step. It speaks to me! And that means it will be speaking to others I relate with. Lucky them.

12. People do not cause other people's feelings. "Rather, Person A does something and person B observes that action and then decides what it means to him or her. We all have had experience of starting out feeling one way about something, getting a slightly different perspective, and then having a different feeling about it. Despite the sense we have that our feeling are automatic and unbidden, we actually do choose what we feel. .... Even though we may not welcome it, it is a chance to look at our old feelings, process them, and heal."

What a powerful step this truly is. We cannot change other people We can change how we respond to them.

Now an update. Last evening two people I love were having a dispute over what happened. "B" said she had told "A" about something, and "A" was certain she had never heard about it. This went back and forth for a few volleys, then I spoke up and invoked step 1 of the 21 steps of personal peacemaking. I didn't express it quite the way Fitz-Hugh did, but it stopped them and they pointed their discussion forward. Someone else in the room thought my remark was very Zenlike, which I take as a compliment. Anyway, I helped peace and reconciliation a little last evening and am glad about that.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Steps 7-9 for personal peacemaking

These 21 steps are from Lynn Fitz-Hugh, and were published in the August 2008 Friends Journal. Below are steps 7-9.

7. When in a conflict with another person, it is not helpful to keep going over in our mind (or with another person) how bad the other person is, or how bad his or her actions were, how upset he or she makes us, or how much we hate this person.

Angry thoughts are like poison. They harm the thinker. You strengthen what you dwell upon, so if you dwell on the negative, it gets stronger. If you focus on the good, it will be stronger. Which makes more sense? When my daughter was little, and I heard her say she hated something, I always replied "Don't hate, because it makes you feel bad." That's a simple way of conveying step 7. Also don't hate because it does no good. And I mean "good" in all its meanings.

8. What is helpful is to focus on the good points of the person. "If we are not aware of any, try to notice what those might be or what other people like about that person. In a pinch, make up something: 'This person is kind and loving to his or her cat at home.' The idea here is not to lie to ourselves or live in fantasy, but we need to start connecting to the part of that person that we would like to have in our life. No one is without good. The more we focus on what we do not like about a person, the more we experience waht we do not like about him or her."

I should be practicing this step a little more actively. And asking others I love to do so. I tried it during the election. I told my Obama-leaning companions that I thought John McCain had a lot of good points. I named some, and my companions quickly named the bad points. My point, I think, is that by remembering the good in him, I couldn't demonize him or show disrespect.

9. Making fun of the person you are in conflict with, or engaging in sarcasm or ridicule, is poison.

'nuff said.

Go in peace, and practice a step or two today.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

Steps 4-6 of Lynn Fitz-Hugh's 21 steps of personal peacemaking

Today my daughter and her friend had a back-and-forth conversation about two sides of the same reality, and I expressed the gist of step 1 - "Nothing is gained in trying to decide whose version of what happened is true." My daughter asked why I launched into big explanations when she made a comment. I explained she gave an example and I explained a point it illustrates. Inducing--going from specific to general. But I'd better dial it back a few notches so I don't get tuned out.....

Okay, steps 4-6 from Lynn Fitz-Hugh's 21 steps to personal peacemaking.

4. Running away from conflict does not solve it. "The conflict will still be there, but now someone may also feel abandoned or insignificant. Often the resulting lapse of time has allowed bad feelings to fester and false assumptions to be made. It is best to address conflict as soon as one has control over one's emotions and the other person is able to engage."

Molly, does thee hear this? Here is a step I need to work on a lot.

5. When people are very, very upset they get flooded by adrenaline. "This is a biological wiring for 'fight or flight.' We cannot just turn it off. It takes at least 20 miutes with attention off conflict--longer if it is hard to get attention off of it--to get rid of all the adrenaline....It is a bad idea for someone to try to talk, listen, or make decisions while flooded with adrenaline. Rational thinking is impaired and the brain has a difficult time working constructively."

OOOh I just hate it when this happens to me. I do the flight thing and I know it takes far more than 20 minutes to be able to return after I leave. I will try to focus away from the source of upset--probably that will help.

6. Timing of efforts to address a conflict is a two-party affair. "People exist on a broad spectrum from 'eager to address issues' to 'extremely terrified about addressing issues.' It is not fair for the [more] willing party to demand that the other person engage because the first party wants to/needs to, and it is similarly not fair for the more avoidant party to insist that his or her nonengagement policy be accepted by both (or to continue avoiding without addressing when he or she will be willing to engage). "

Hmmm... this speaks to me very clearly. What sayest thou?

These 3 steps speak to me clearly and I know I have some work to do. I hope I need not do it soon (because that would mean a conflict sooner rather than later) but do hope I will have these steps in mind when I need them.

Peace, y'all


Friday, November 21, 2008

1-3 of 21 tips on personal peacemaking

Recently I re-found Lynn Fitz-Hugh's 21 tips on personal peacemaking, published in the August 2008 Friends Journal. Lynn Fitz-Hugh is the founder of the Washington state Alternatives to Violence project. She says she has broken each of the 21 guidelines at least once. They are good and I want to share them, and contemplate them as I do so. Please join me in sharing and contemplating.

1. Nothing is gained in trying to decide whose version of what happened is true. In the end it doesn't matter. Each view is real to the viewer--assuming each is honest! "Attaining peace doesn't require one party to accept or capitulate to the other party's version of truth. "

This Friend speaks my truth.

2. Blame is not a helpful concept. "It does not move things forward. No one wants to be the blamed one. No one wants to be wrong... When we blame, it increases the other person's defensiveness and blocks his or her willingness to listen to us. Blaming, either internally or aloud, is a way to foucs on the other person and his or her behavior, rather than on our own painful feelings and our part in what happened. "

I also want to note how easy it is to accept responsibility when I've erred. I sincerely but usually cheerfully say "I goofed, and I'm sorry." Then I can move on and usually so can the other person. But I put my pants on same way as everyone else, and I know I spend too much time in Blameville.

3. Instead of saying "It is his fault," is is more helpful simply to say "it is." "This simply takes the poison of blame and judgment and in some way helps us focus on more practical actions for th future and lessons to learn from the past."

The grammar cop in me doesn't love this--because it hides the subject of the declarative sentence. But I see Lynn Fitz-Hugh's point and will meekly submit--and tell my inner English teacher to shut up.

Tips 4-6 next post.

Walk in peace, friend

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Mother Theresa's word

Mother Teresa once said “Few of us will ever be called on to great things but all of us can do small things in a great way.”

This speaks to me, because I am not famous or powerful. I am just me. But I can do small things in a great way and today I renew my intentions to do just that. I will practice a few of the 12 steps of peacemaking (see a really old post for these).

Peace to you.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

questions for candidates

My favorite group, the Friends Committee on National Legislation, has a nice publication on what questions to ask candidates. Banning cluster bombs, banning torture, reducing the risk of nuclear weapons, investing in children....what radical thoughts.

Oops! Elections are over! So, why not ask these questions of officeholders? The elections are over but our nation's problems are not. We still have hunger. We still have homeless folk. We still have unhealthy folks, and people with serious medical troubles (like my step-son--pray for him please?). Here in the richest country in the world we still have these troubles, and what about the rest of the planet?

No, the elections are but a speed bump on the path to the future. And let's keep working to make the future better.

I am still asking myself what I can do to make the world a better place, and I think a little consciousness-raising, by keeping these questions in the open, is another small step. So off I go. Join me!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Peace in your home?

Pray for me, if you read this. Send wishes for peace to me.

Guess I'll practice some gratitude until I feel better.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Peace in my home and across the world

I try to think of a new way EACH DAY to promote peace.

Today I am going to work on peace in my own home, where there is a lot of bickering due in part to the fact that my beloved daughter is now a teenager. I will share how my efforts work out.

But that is not enough for today, so here is something nifty: is a website to get contact info for government leaders across the globe. Cool!

Bookmark this site and when you learn of something in a foreign land and want to (Amnesty International-style) write the leaders to express your views, la voila, you can.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Peace and hope

Hope is still high with me. Hope to bridge gaps, to heal divisions, to strengthen community. I thank Barack Obama for instilling this hope in me, and hope (more of the H word) the inspiration can come to those who didn't vote for him, and will remain with me after Barack Obama's certain misstep sometime down the line.

My personal call is for peace. My personal creed states, among other things, "I build peace and find win-wins." So the inspiration puffs up my peace sails and off I go.

I found a nice peace essay from the folks in Portland, OR who run the website for Rooms for Peace. Follow this link

Here is a mere excerpt:

For peace is also found in stillness and quietude, in calm reflection, in kindness and sincere friendship, in building community and relationships, in renewal of ecosystems and cultural heritage, in personal growth and health, in reverence and respect, in love and many ways, shapes, and forms (see the list of peace-related qualities below). Each aspect is indeed a doorway into a greater reality of peace that's expansive, timeless, and universal.

Click the link to find the peace-related qualities.

Peace be with you.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Finding common ground

I feel this wonderful sense of optimism. It took me a long time to catch what one could call "Obamamania." I remember too clearly the dismal presidency of another brilliant Democratic newcomer, Jimmy Carter. (Though Jimmy Carter is indisputably the best ex-president we have ever had, and deserves our respect and honor and admiration and gratitude.)

But I do feel the hope. I am personally inspired to do what I can to heal the divides.

Yesterday I shared this thought with a colleague. She is pro-life and I am pro-choice. I noted this, and said, we have common ground--preventing unwanted pregnancies. Let's work on the common ground, and not forsake it for some extreme position, such as not giving federal support to agencies that refuse to teach abstinence-only. This woman agreed with me. So we made a teeny bit of common ground.

How do I build on that?

Washington just followed Oregon with a ballot measure that permits people near the end of their lives to get help from a physician to die. The measure was based on Oregon's, which withstood a Supreme Court challenge.

When the measure became law in Oregon, people hardly lined up to end their lives. In 11 years, fewer than 400 people have used the law to end their lives. A far higher number have obtained the medications that would kill them, but opted not to use them.

What the measure did was focus Oregonian's attention on end of life issues. Hospice services became more available and more availed. Attention to pain management increased.

Common ground--dignity and comfort for the dying!

I am hopeful that Washingtonians will increase their attention to end of life issues and increase dignity and comfort for the dying here too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes, we can

My grumpy old husband told me he feels "euphoria."

I had a quick mini-epiphany (no time yet to settle in and seriously pray about it) that the first step is to stop the name-calling. I am not much of a name-caller anyway but I can do better--encourage and admonish others not to name-call!

I feel love and hope and an urgent call to pray--to devote intense intellectual and spiritual focus on what to do next. Because I do believe--peace starts at home. And I want to do what I can to bring it about.

We still have wars going on. We still have a huge deficit. We are still pouring too much carbon into the air, and poisoning our planet in the process. We have much poor policy to repair. Yes, there is a lot of work to do, and I pledge to you, my reader, and to my planet and to my President I will do what I can.

Love and Peace!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A curious sense of peace, hope, and fear

I voted a few weeks ago. My county votes by mail entirely, so we don't cope with lines or have any sense of "going" to the polls. I have done my part, I have voted. I have given money to many of the candidates I support. Now, like millions of people in the world, I sit back and wait.

This is a strange sense of peace.

It is also a curious interregnum, bursting with hope and with fear. There is so much promise in the changing of leadership. There is potential--for good and for bad, for inspiration and for despair.

Some of my friends have described the event of the presidential election going to McCain/Palin as something akin to the end of the world, or of democracy as we know it. I hopefully disagree. I know that no matter how it turns out, millions of American citizens have become new voters, and that energy can move mountains, if we can harness it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

peacemaking through environmental ed

Today I salute my coworker Ginger. She is a peacemaker even if she doesn't know it. She tends to be on the agressive side interpersonally, and complains a lot. Still--she is always, always seeking to make the world a better place. She is trying to build and strengthen community, promote justice, link people in good ways, help children--all through the lense of environmental education. Helping children understand nature and how to help it is a form of peacemaking. Working to build a stronger and healthier community is peacemaking.

Recently I read a summary she wrote of a summit of community members working to improve the "E3" process in our counties. The three E's are economy, education, and environment. The three need each other. The big move toward green this and green that, even greenwashing, indicateds businesses and business folk see the value of the environmentalism to their bottom line. (Hooray!) What struck me intensely was how all of the elements of the plan support a peaceful community, one that is in greater harmony with Mother Earth.

Hooray for you, Ginger.