On imagining peace…

Pedernales Falls 8-24-13 073

“Imagine all the people,
Living life in peace”

–John Lennon


Today, September 21, 2013 was International Day of Peace.  In 2002 the UN General Assembly officially declared that September 21st would be the permanent annual date for the initiative.  I confess that I’ve been aware that there was an International Day of Peace but I didn’t know that it was September 21st.  I’ve usually become aware of it after the fact by seeing something about it on Facebook or the news.  Today was no different; my friend Melissa shared John Lennon’s, “Imagine” in honor of the day.  Melissa’s an early riser so thankfully, it was one of the first things I saw when I woke up this morning.

For the first time I started doing some research on the day.  In the process I came across an organization called Peace One Day, founded in 1999 by filmmaker Jeremy Gilley.  It was through the efforts of Peace One Day that the International Day of Peace was enacted.  Their goal is to institutionalize  September 21st into a self-sustaining, global day of unity; a day of intercultural cooperation on a scale that humanity has never known. 

Sounds like a pretty lofty goal, doesn’t it?  They’ve already done amazing things, working with the UN in Afghanistan on a campaign that has resulted in the Taliban allowing health care workers into areas that were previously unreachable to vaccinate millions of children against polio.  In 2008 the UN recorded a 70% reduction in violent incidences in Afghanistan on Peace Day.  They have raised awareness — in 2012 approximately 280 million people in 198 countries were aware of Peace Day.  That’s only 4% of the world’s population  — what could happen if that number was doubled?  Tripled?  The goal is 3 billion people by 2016. 

In this day and time it often feels like the world’s gone crazy but I have to believe there is hope for peace.  If an area of the world like Afghanistan can experience a 70% reduction of violence for a day because of this initiative, what can happen with greater awareness?  What can happen if we all try to act more peacefully for a day, a week, a month, a year?  Maybe that’s a crazy dream but I’m grateful for those in my life and for organizations like Peace One Day who share that dream.  Imagine…

Peace One Day isn’t just about reducing violence in war-ridden areas of the world.  It’s about reducing violence in our communities, our schools, our homes.  It’s about living in a world where children are not bullied, women are not abused, guns are not used to perpetrate violence.  The theme in 2013 for Peace One Day is “Who Will You Make Peace With?”  To me, it’s a choice.  My choice.  So, I’m asking myself that question…for today, tomorrow and into the next 12 months until International Peace Day comes around again.  I have it on my calendar now and I thank my friend Melissa for making me aware.

I believe that we are called to love…it’s hard and I do it very imperfectly.   So, if I believe that, I also have to believe that peace is an extension of that love… I may do that imperfectly too but if it’s true that what I focus on grows, and I believe it is, there is hope for me and for the world.

Peace to you and yours…namaste

On finding the right words; or having the good sense not to say anything at all…

Blue Rock 9-12-13 010


I want to know if you can sit with pain,

Mine or your own
Without moving to hide it,
Or fade it, or fix it.

–Oriah Mountain Dreamer, “The Invitation”

I first read these words nearly 20 years ago and they have made a huge impact on my life.  They have given me a great gift and taught me an important lesson, albeit a difficult one–one that I am still learning, both for myself and for others.  For myself, I’m very good at hiding and fading pain; for others it’s very hard for me not to want to fix it.  I’ve come a long way, but it is still difficult to see someone I care about in pain.  I’ve learned that it is not my job to fix things; my job is to love, to be present–not to offer advice and make everything OK.  Nevertheless, it’s difficult, even with the best of intentions to always do and say the right thing; the most loving thing.

My enneagram type is a 2 — The Helper.  At our best we are empathetic, sincere, and warm-hearted.  At our worst Helpers can be possessive, people-pleasers who have difficulty acknowledging our own needs.  I’d like to think that I lean more towards the empathetic, sincere side but I have my moments.

It’s hard enough being present and loving when you can share the same physical space with a friend in need.  It becomes more problematic when that person is miles away and all you have is words to let the person know that you’re there and that you care.  Sometimes the right words don’t come and you end up making a mess of things.  Maybe sometimes it’s best to just let the person know that you’re there if they need you and then give them space to sort things out for themselves.  I don’t know…I guess you just have to be open, pray and when in doubt keep your mouth shut — or your fingers off the keyboard.

This has been a hard lesson for me but one that I’m grateful for.  I’m a work in progress, but I think I do get it right more often than not.  And when I don’t, there is grace…

Namaste…

My freakin’ to-do list…

freakin-to-do-list

I said when I began this blog–this online gratitude journal–that I would write about what I was grateful for.  I also said that I would write about those times when I was struggling with gratitude.  This past week or so has been such a struggle.

It actually began a few weeks ago when I was scrambling to get caught up so that I could take a few badly needed days off and head to Kerrville, TX for the Folk Festival we regulars fondly call “Little Folk”.  It was a marvelous time and you can read all about it in my last blog, “Coming Home“.  As is often the case, I have been paying for those few days of R&R with many days of playing catch up.  In a nutshell, work has been insane.  Insane to the point that I’ve been feeling completely overwhelmed and downright sorry for myself.  Self-pity, for me generally leads to guilt, which then leads to beating up on myself…not a good cycle to get caught in.  When this sense of overwhelming follows a short vacation it tends to lead to me questioning whether or not I should take off of work at all; also not a particularly healthy place to get stuck in.

The truth is that it’s no one’s fault.   It just is.  Several things, aside from me taking 2-1/2 days off have contributed to the overload; we’ve been short-handed, I was gone at a time when end-of-month books happened, we just finished Open Enrollment for our Group Health Insurance and I’m tying up loose ends on that, we’re changing telephone providers, I have a Worker’s Comp audit to prepare, it was time to set up the appointment book for the last quarter of 2013…and so on…and on.  Oh, and a bunch of stuff decided to break, including the internet at work.

So, yes, ladies and gentlemen, I have been overwhelmed and, at times, not much fun to be around.  To say that I’ve been wrapped pretty tightly is an understatement.   Oh, and did I mention that I threw my back out and it hurts to sit for more than about 5 minutes at a time?  Let’s face it, I have perfected the art of martyrdom.

Now, before you start feeling sorry for me too, I do recognize that all these things fall under the category of First World Problems.  It doesn’t mean that I have to beat myself up for having these feelings, but I do need to put them in perspective.   It also means I need to take care of myself and I’ve done my best to do that this weekend.  The first thing I did was buy myself a new mattress.  This was not an “Oh, I feel sorry for myself so I’ll go spend some money” kind of purchase.  When you get to the point that you can’t lie in the middle of the bed without rolling to either side because it sags so badly and you wake up in the morning in more pain than when you went to bed, it’s time.

The next thing I did was to make time to go to the gym; something I’ve been neglecting to do on a regular basis.  And after that, I worked.  Worked, you say?   Seems like a silly way to decompress, doesn’t it?  The thing is that I know myself well enough to realize that the pressure is never going to come off until I stop the bleeding.  I knew that I needed some time away from the office to go through my to-do list step by step and check some of the big projects off without interruption, without having to fight any fires or being pulled in a dozen different directions.  It was my choice and I’ll own it.  The good news is that I’ve managed to make a big dent in the list.  There’s still much left to do but there is at least a light at the end of the tunnel.  And I don’t think it’s a mirror reflecting my flashlight which is a reference to a great song called “Noah’s Titanic” by Antje Duvekot, but I digress…

So, I plan on starting the week in a much better frame of mind than it ended.  And I’ve come to realize that there are things that I’m grateful for in all of this.

  1. I’m grateful for a job that I love — really, I do
  2. I’m grateful for employees who have been trying to take some of the load off and have been putting up with my irritability.
  3. I’m grateful for friends who care enough to listen to me whine.
  4. I’m grateful for 12 months interest-free financing.
  5. I’m grateful for my dog, who is a complete goof and makes me laugh.
  6. I’m grateful for my Misfit friends who will be visiting Austin this week and we’re going to have lunch!
  7. There’s much more but I’ll end by saying that I’m grateful to you for stopping by and reading this little rant of mine.

Namaste…

Coming Home…

Sun sets on the final night of the festival

Sun sets on the final night of the festival

Come home, to a fire that’s always warm
Come home, to shelter from the storm
Come home, to hugs and kisses sweet
Come home, to this place of love we meet

Bill Nash, Come Home

I wrote a blog a couple of months ago about the Kerrville Folk Festival in Kerrville, TX, my home base at Camp Nashbill and our leige lord, King Bill (Nash).  This past weekend I had a chance to go home to Camp Nashbill and the mini-version of the festival fondly known as “Little Folk” that has been held every Labor Day weekend since 1972.  I missed the big (18 day) festival in the spring so it was especially sweet to head the 106 miles west knowing there would be hugs, laughter and lots of music waiting when I got there.

My good friend and fabulous singer/songwriter, David Llewellyn flew down from Nashville and drove out with me to Quiet Valley Ranch, the home of the festival.  I hadn’t seen David in much too long so it was great to have the company for the trip and the chance to really catch up.  There was plenty of laughter and good conversation to occupy us on the two-hour drive.  We arrived at the ranch in the late afternoon and were greeted by a wonderful hug from Bill and from dear friends Charlie and Ruby. 

No sooner had we set up our tents and unloaded the truck than the guitars came out.  There were no main stage performances Thursday night…the music was all going on in the campground.  I was shaking off the cobwebs after nearly eight months of not playing (shoulder surgery) and my fellow campmates were very patient with my attempts to remember what the heck I was doing.  We had wonderful music from Bill, David, Todd and others.  Soon, our friends Paul, Teresa, Dee and more began to arrive with others expected the following day.  This is the heart of the festival for me–the community, the friendships–I love these people dearly. 

Friday morning began where Thursday night left off; with us sitting around, guitars in hand, swapping songs and stories.  I’m grateful to David for all of the much needed help on the guitar…things were starting to come back to me by the time the weekend was done.  As always there was music pretty much day and night around the campgrounds, afternoon concerts at Threadgill Theater and evenings up at the Kerrville Main Stage with fabulous performances by the likes of Ellis Paul, Ruthie Foster, Terri Hendrix, Hal Ketchum, George Ensle, Betty Soo and more.  There was an unsuccessful attempt to escape the heat at the river that ended up with Mexican food (could have been much worse); at night there were stars so big and bright it was breathtaking, and of course, a total lack of sleep.  And so the weekend came and went much too soon.

I’m so grateful for all of the friendships, old and new; for the hugs, the laughter, the songs and for all of the love that is found every time I go.  There were a few that were not in attendance but they were never far from our minds.  Monday morning we all packed up, said our farewells and hugged until next spring when we’ll gather again in the spot in the meadow that we all call home.  See y’all in 264 days!!