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<<December 2017>>
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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Compassion, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Hate Is NEVER Okay. Let’s work towards a kinder, more inclusive world, with diversity of all kinds accepted and appreciated. A world that doesn’t have massacres like Pulse Orlando.

The LGBTQ massacre at Pulse Orlando yesterday by Omar Mateen was horrifying and devastating – and it made it even more clear how important it is still to work against homophobia and hatred, and toward greater compassion for all. How important it is that lesbian, gay, bi, trans, and queer folk are visible and normalized in every aspect of our society (as well as people of color, people with physical and mental disabilities, people with mental health issues, people who are “fat,” all of us who are “different” in some way from the “normal” or “beautiful” that society sells us). How important it is to have LGBTQIA – and other forms of diversity – books, movies, and media, support centers and crisis lines, and community. Pride Month seems like a celebration to outsiders – but we have fought hard for equality and safety, and we are still fighting against homophobia and hatred. This horrific massacre shows how much we still need LGBTQIA Pride, and greater compassion and awareness for all kinds of diversity.

All day yesterday I kept going back to the news coverage and social network updates. It was wrenching and painful, disturbing and deeply saddening, and brought up so much hopelessness and despair and pain for me. For so many people around the world. As a lesbian torture and rape survivor who has witnessed a lot of murder, violence, hatred, and homophobia, it hit me on so many levels.

Mateen’s father reported that his son had recently been repulsed by seeing two gay men kissing and that he himself believed that “gays should be punished by God”. (Learned homophobia and hatred, anyone?) And Isis followers of the Sharia law, which the shooter said he stood for, believe homosexuality is a crime, and they have killed many queer people. The shooter had also been abusive, and beat up his first wife. Violence and hatred is rarely isolated.

So many people responded with compassion to this tragedy. I was glad to see people from all over – queer and heterosexual – lining up to give blood, attending vigils worldwide and expressing shock and pain, and offering support to LGBTQ people and loved ones.

cheryl-petal-rainbow-after-pulse-2016-500-cropBanding together after a tragedy, offering support and compassion and working to help others in trauma shows the beauty of the human spirit. Please, let’s not lose that compassion and determination to work towards a better world in a few days or weeks or months, when the shock and devastation fades. Let’s try to prevent something so horrible happening again.

Mateen, although he’d been investigated twice by the FBI and had his cased dropped, and was mentally unstable, had gun permits and used an AR-15 rifle, the same used in Newtown and San Bernardino.


After this horrific massacre, and so many others in recent US history, I desperately hope that US people will work towards greater gun control, and make it harder for violent and mentally unstable people to get a gun. In 2015 alone, there were 352 mass shootings, 64 school shootings, and overall some 13,286 murdered by guns in the USA. “Of all the murders in the US in 2012, 60% were by firearm compared with 31% in Canada, 18.2% in Australia, and just 10% in the UK” (In Canada, Australia, and the UK we have stricter gun laws than the US).

I have witnessed so much murder and abuse, experienced daily/nightly torture and rape and hatred at the hands of my parents and their cult members – and what I know deep in my soul is that compassion and love cut through hate; that hate destroys souls and people and lives; and that every life is important and matters – human and animal – and that we should not allow it to be thrown away. And I have seen that violence and hatred, discrimination and abuse, are all interconnected.

The extreme hatred and violence of Pulse Orlando is not isolated; it is echoed in the homophobia and hatred spewed daily from right-wing Christians; in the many shootings of Black people by white police in the US; by the murders, rapes, and attacks on queer people throughout the world, by the “honor” killings of thousands of girls and women in Pakinstan and India each year; by genital mutilation (and sometimes resulting death) of girls; by frequent rape and sexual harassment of women and girls and boys around the world. We are all in this together.

We need to make changes to our world to prevent murder, violence, abuse, torture, and heartbreak.

We need to:

  • Work towards greater compassion, empathy, and an end to hate.
  • Not blame Muslims for this homophobic, hate-filled attack. I have seen homophobia and hatred towards LGBTQ people from Christians (especially right wing), Catholics, and other religions, even atheists.
  • Work towards freedom, safety, and equality for all.

  • “No one is free until we are all free.”

    – Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

    cheryl-rainfield-orlandoI will do my part. I will never stop being who I am – a lesbian feminist torture survivor – and being open about it. I will always stand up against homophobia, sexism, racism, and other forms of hatred and inequality when I see it. I will always write about LGBTQ characters who love each other and who heal, as well as survivors of abuse and trauma, and other diverse people. I will always have rainbow flags, buttons, t-shirts, and celebrate pride. And I will try to always approach others with compassion, empathy, and love. I will not put hatred or unhappiness in this world.

    There is so much hatred and cruelty in the world. But there is also so much hope, and compassion and beauty and love. Let’s take some of that goodness inside us–and act.

    We need to stand up against hatred and violence. I hope that you will–whether you’re part of the LGBTQ community or an ally, whether you’re of color or white, whether you’re able or differently abled … stand up against hatred when you see it. Say something when you hear a homophobic, racist, sexist joke or comment. Stand up against bullying, sexual harassment, rape. Work towards better gun laws in the US and every country that needs it. Work towards better laws against homophobia and rape and murder. Sign petitions against horrific things. Spread the word about companies that hurt people or animals or the earth. Do whatever you can in whatever way you can. I know that together we can make a healing difference in this world. I’ve seen it already – a greater awareness of child abuse, of homophobia, of sexual harassment and rape, of sexism (think the right for women to vote), and greater rights won. Let’s keep working together for a kinder world.

    – Cheryl Rainfield, author of SCARS, STAINED, HUNTED, and Parallel Visions.

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    2. Passion and compassion: The people who created the words and numbers of environmental science

    These are the images I carry in memory that form my understanding of passion and compassion in science: Rachel Carson waking at midnight to return to the sea the microscopic marine organisms she has been studying, when the tidal cycle is favorable to their survival; John Muir clinging to the upper branches of a tall pine during a violent storm, reveling in the power of natural forces.

    The post Passion and compassion: The people who created the words and numbers of environmental science appeared first on OUPblog.

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    3. Forces of Nature – Picture Book Reviews

    The scent of Spring is in the air. But that’s not all that’s lifting us up. From the tiny details to the wider world, our environment has so much to offer. For different reasons, these following picture books discover beauty and how the elements of nature can capture our hearts and strengthen our human kindness. […]

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    4. the dance begins ~ solo performance by a member of the Dance Troupe of Fierce Self Belief


    Filed under: dances, moon

    1 Comments on the dance begins ~ solo performance by a member of the Dance Troupe of Fierce Self Belief, last added: 5/12/2015
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    5. on compassion and (also) on negating our shame culture (Monica Lewinsky)

    This morning I did that thing I love to do—plop on the couch, pull the fuzzy blanket to my chin, and read the New York Times online. It is one of my limited online reads. I value the words as much as the multimedia links.

    Perhaps because I just finished writing and sharing a piece (in today's Chicago Tribune) on the empathetic imagination, perhaps because I teach memoir largely because I believe that teaching memoir is (or can be) akin to teaching compassion, perhaps because I have lived in shadows, too, been attacked, yearned for intervening empathy, the first two Times pieces I read today were compassion invested. The first, titled "The Brain's Empathy Gap" (Jeneen Interlandi), reports on studies designed to answer questions like: "How much of our empathy is innate and how much is instilled in us by our environment?" and "Why does understanding what someone else feels not always translate to being concerned with their welfare?" I recommend the read.

    The second story, by Jessica Bennett, led me to this recent TED talk by Monica Lewinsky (yes, it was a busy week and I'm only catching up on this now; don't, as my student recently wrote, judge me), which I watched in its entirety. Brave, bold, bracing, Lewinsky reports from the depths of a personal hell and from the realities of a humiliation culture (as she puts it) that is shameful to us all.

    Anyone who is out here in any public way—writing books, making songs, sharing ideas, blogging—knows that the risks are enormous. We see how a nano-second of inarticulate self-searching can become a Twitter storm. We see how a straying from the pact or pack opens the door to virtual mobster hatred. We see how a careless, insensitive Tweet can rearrange a life. And we see the opposite, too—how ideas or art or stories that do not conform to prevailing notions of cool, branded, or trending can go unseen, unheard, unheralded—which is, let's face it, a kind of humiliation, too.

    Oh, it takes time to listen. Oh, it is so easy to judge. Oh, we can, from the protected privacy of our keyboard feel so empowered. Oh, anonymity is a sword.

    But why build a world of cruelty when you can build a world of good? I laud Monica Lewinsky for asking that question. For standing up. For leaving the shadows.

    0 Comments on on compassion and (also) on negating our shame culture (Monica Lewinsky) as of 3/22/2015 12:54:00 PM
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    6. #664 – The Flat Rabbit by Bárður Oskarsson




    The Flat Rabbit
    Bárður Oskarsson
    Owlkids Books           9/15/2014
    40 pages     Age 4+

    “What do you do with a flat rabbit? A dog and a rat come across a rabbit. A flat rabbit, lying silently on the road. It all seems rather sad, so they decide to move her. But where to? They can’t just return her to her apartment, completely flattened. What would the neighbors think? The dog and the rat try to figure out what to do. Then the dog gets a brilliant idea. They decide to give the rabbit the send-off she deserves.”



    The Flat Rabbit deals with a serious subject most young child, under age 6, are incapable of understanding: the finality of death. The author uses humor in this gentle story of two friends sending off another friend—the flat rabbit—in a respectful manner, honorable and pleasing to the rabbit. They find their friend in the middle of the road and decide it cannot be much fun lying there. The dog and rat decide to help the rabbit move to a better place.

    “Do you think she is having a good time? the rat finally asked . . .

    “I don’t know . . .” he [the dog] replied slowly. “I don’t know.”

    As a social worker, The Flat Rabbit would be a great tool for helping kids process not only death, but also separation. Nearly every page can provoke discussion. The abrupt ending demands discussion. The Flat Rabbit can open up discussions on the mysteries of life, the finality of death, and the use of compassion and respect.


    I also love the simple illustrations and the gentle humor.

    “Do you know her?” [The rat asked the dog.]

    “Well,” said the dog, “I think she’s from number 34. I’ve never talked to her,                                        but I peed on the gate a couple of times, so we’ve definitely met.”

    The Flat Rabbit may not be a typical picture book, but it does a great service for children dealing with, or asking about, death. Parents will have a platform for discussion and a gentle way to help their child cope with a difficult subject. The most important aspect, as this social worker sees it, is the respect and compassion for life and death that the author deftly deals with in The Flat Rabbit. The dog, after brainstorming most of the day, comes up with a brilliant plan to help the rabbit. The dog and the rat gently lift the rabbit off the road then spend the rest of the day and night on their plan to honor and care for the rabbit.


    An interesting side note: the author lives in the Faroe Islands, an archipelago made up of 18 islands between Iceland and Norway.  Flata Kaninin, the original version, was nominated for The Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize 2014. Sadly, it did not win.

    THE FLAT RABBIT. Text and illustrations copyright © 2011 by Bárður Oskarsson. Translation copyright © 2014 by Marita Thomsen. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books Inc., Berkeley CA and Toronto, CAN.
    Learn more about The Flat Rabbit* HERE.
    Purchase The Flat Rabbit at AmazonB&NBook DepositoryOwlkids Books
    Meet the author/illustrator, Bárður Oskarsson:  short bio
    Meet the translator, Marita Thomsen, at her website:
    Find other wonderful picture books at the Owlkids Books website:   owlkidsbooks.com

    *The Flat Rabbit—original title Flata Kaninin—published in 2011 by BFL:    www.bfl.fo

    Copyright © 2015 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews

    Filed under: 5stars, Children's Books, Library Donated Books, Picture Book Tagged: Bárður Oskarsson, compassion, death, life cycle, Owlkids Books, picture books for older kids and adults, respect, unfathomable questions

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    7. What Children Learn When Parents Face Adversities

    Children learn fom hard walls of adversity.
    Sometimes life feels like an obstacle course. Zigzagging through distractions provides adventure. Successfully hurdling small problems brings satisfaction. However, occasionally, we find ourselves in a quagmire. We come face-to-face with a hard wall of adversities. People watch to see how Christians will handle these dilemmas. Our children are among them.

    For weeks, I wobbled along with intermittent foot pain. I never had problems with my feet, so I dismissed it as aging pains, until it finally got to the painful point of needing a physician. Even after following his advice for treating a Morton's neuroma, the pain worsened. My wobble turned into a Frankenstein Slide-Step.

    A second trip to the doctor proved my Morton’s neuroma was a bit of a show-off. This nerve damage to the foot, typically affects the ball of the foot and two toes. Mine was affecting my entire foot and ankle. Plus, the “good” foot was beginning to show similar symptoms. Returning home with medication, I crawled into bed to wait for healing. It is improving, but ever so slowly. Remember the character Tim Conway used to play on the "Carol Burnett Show" with white, Albert Einstein hair? Remember his slow shuffle-walk? He moves faster than I do--seriously.  Patience is required; not only from me but from my family.

    My husband has been wonderful but he has to go to work every day. That left me at home with our nine-year-old son. He is learning many things.

    Labor of Love
    *He knows Grandma loves his mom. So much so, she’ll come and help clean the house, and when she does, she expects him to pitch in and help. Go, Grandma! He loves when she calls to inquire if we’d like her to bring us chicken pie and green beans. He enthusiastically shouts, “Yes!”  Grandma has her own physical ailments so he knows these things are a labor of love.

    *He has seen this same sacrifice made by his aunt. After working an exhausting job, she has also gone home, cooked for us, and delivered it before feeding her own family. Our son's other aunt also sent a wonderful blessing—a wheelchair. Now, I have less pain moving from room to room. My little driver enjoys pushing me and is learning not to scare me as much making turns.

    *Grandpa made two trips to the store to find bedroom slippers large enough for my swollen feet. He has picked up groceries for us. Grandpa is still recuperating from back surgery. His grandson is witnessing how families takes care of one another. 

    *My homeschool student thinks doing math and other subjects on Mom’s bed is more comfortable than the dining room table. (Don’t get used to it, mister.)

    *He noticed when my Mary Kay rep. came inside and asked if she could pray for me.

    *He enjoyed meals two of our homeschool friends prepared for us.

    Helping One Another
    *He hears about church friends texting to check on me, and helping to fulfill my duties at church. And about the emails from my long-distance writing buddies remembering me in their prayers.

    *He has listened to the prayers of several friends and family asking for God’s comfort and healing for me.

    *He watches his dad do the things I normally do like the laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning the kitchen—and all without complaining. He also sees the gentleness and caring; the flowers dad brought home one day along with my favorite ice cream. He's also learning if Dad buys groceries, there's always things in the bag that weren't on the list, like three kinds of Oreos.

    *My little boy hears my own prayers, thanking God for every step; for every minute of sleep without pain; and for so many little things I appreciate more deeply now. He understands my sorrow for not being able to do as many things as I’d like to do with him--and for him. Lately, He's asked to do a great deal for himself. We’re practicing patience, together. We’re learning how to bless one another in different ways.

    Pray for one another.
    I want to say thanks to you all for the ways you’ve blessed our family. Your prayers mean so much—please keep praying. It’s going to be a slow recovery, surgery may be required, but progress is made every day. God is faithful and merciful. I thank Him continually for you and your compassion.

    Hopefully, we’ve been modeling compassion to our son over the years. But over the past month, he's observed it in a new way. It’s making an impact. At lunchtime the other day, he wheeled me into the kitchen. To my surprise, he had put a tablecloth on the table, set the table, snipped a flower from the ones his dad brought home and placed it in a small vase beside my plate. 

    He announced, “And now that an adult is beside me,” before striking a match to light a candle. He throughly took pleasure in producing fire. So much so, he blew the candle out three times in order to light it again before I assured him it was well lit.
    Then, he prayed a sweet prayer to God for our food and for me.

    He’s growing up…in stature and wisdom.


    Share your blessings! How have your children or grandchildren seen God at work in your life, when times were tough?


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    8. Giving…. NIV God’s Word

    Matthew 6:3-4
    3.But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4.so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

    1 John 3: 17-18
    17.If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18.Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.

    Hebrews 13:16
    16.And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

    Philippians 4:19
    19.And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

    2 Corinthians 9:6-7
    6.Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7.Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

    Romans 12:13
    13.Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

    Acts 20:35
    35.In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ “

    Luke 6:38
    38.Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

    Proverbs 22:9 9.A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor.


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    9. The Friday before school starts

    By Alice M. Hammel and Ryan M. Hourigan

    While standing at the local superstore watching my children choose their colorful binders and pencils for the upcoming school year, I saw another family at the end of the aisle. Their two sons had great difficulty accessing the space because of the crowd and they were clearly over-stimulated by the sights and sounds of this tax-free weekend shopping day. One boy began crying and the other soon curled into a ball next to the packets of college-lined paper. My daughter, empathic to a fault, leaned down and offered her Blues Clues notebook in an effort to make the boy happier. When we finally walked away, I saw the same pain and embarrassment in the eyes of the parents that I have often seen at parent-teacher conferences and IEP meetings.

    For many families, the start of a new school year is exciting and refreshing. The opportunity to see old friends, meet new ones, and the ease of settling into a fall routine can be comforting. For families of students with special needs, however, the start of a school year can be anxious, frustrating, and filled with reminders of the deficits (social and academic) of their children. This dichotomy is clear and present as some children bound off the school bus with their shiny new backpacks hanging from their shoulders, while others are assisted off different buses as their eyes and bodies prepare for what sometimes feels like an assault on their very personhood.

    These differences are apparent to parents as well as teachers and administrators at schools. Professionals often ask: “What can we do to be the best teachers for these students?”

    Consider what school can mean for students who are different and how to create ways to welcome everyone, according to their needs. Before the school year begins, these longstanding suggestions still resonate as best practices for parents and students:

    (1) Contact the student before the school year begins to be sure the student and family are aware that you are genuinely looking forward to working with them and have exciting plans for the school year! Everyone learns differently and wants to be honored for their ability to contribute. In the Eye Illusion not everyone is able to see the changes in the dots as they move around the circle. What you see isn’t better or worse — just different. When we think of students and children in the same way, by removing the stigma of labels and considering the needs of all, we become more of a community and less of a hierarchy.

    (2) Be aware of all students in the classes you teach. Know their areas of strength and challenge, and be prepared to adapt teaching strategies to include them. We cannot expect students and children all to be the same. Use a fable to illustrate that everyone has strengths and can become an integral part of the learning experience.

    (3) Review teaching practices: modalities, colors, sizes, and pacing. All students enjoy learning through various modalities (visual, aural, kinesthetic), love colors in their classroom, appreciate sizing differences to assist with visual concepts, and can benefit from pacing that is more applicable to them. Find ways to include these practices in an overall approach. Universal design (applied to the classroom) means that all students receive adaptations to enhance their learning experience, and no one is singled out as being different because of the adaptations applied.

    (4) Create partnerships with all professionals who work with special needs students. A team approach is a powerful way to include everyone effectively. When we work as a team, everyone benefits and the workload is shared by all. This community of professionals creates a culture of shared responsibility and joy.

    (5) Provide a clear line of communication with parents of students with disabilities. Often children cannot come home and tell their parents about events, assignments, announcements, and other important parts of their school day. Parents may not be able to gauge whether their child had a good day or if there are concerns. A journal between teacher and parent(s) can be a comforting and useful tool. This communication may also be done electronically through a secure Google or Yahoo group. Reading Rockets provides other useful tips in this area.

    (6) Leave labels out of the conversation when communicating with parents. Parents can be sensitive to their child being known only by their diagnosis. In addition, some parents may be still processing the life change that comes with raising a child with special needs. When entering into a conversation with a parent, focus on your classroom and the needs of the student. If there is a concern, try to put the concern in the most positive light as possible. The Parent-Provider network at Purdue University offers some great tips as well for communicating with parents.

    (7) Let parents know of student accomplishments even if they are small. Students with special needs often encounter failure. Parents attend countless meetings that remind them of all the challenges their children face. A note home when something goes well can make all the difference.

    (8) Allow the parent and the child to visit prior to the start of school if the child is new. Students who are enrolling in a new program or a new school may have difficulty with this transition. Often this transition can cause anxiety that will hinder a child from seeing school as a comfortable, safe place. Walk them through the routines: where they sit, where materials are, etc. Social stories (short stories written in third person to illustrate an everyday situation) can also be useful in this circumstance. When read prior to beginning school, these stories help them move through their transition.

    A culture of acceptance and compassion must permeate our educational institutions. By categorizing, labeling, and noting differences, we are often putting children in boxes that can then, unfortunately, define them for the rest of their lives. Every child wants to be part of the school experience and seeks to participate to the best of his ability. When the class and school culture are created to honor the personhood of every child, and each child is considered valuable to the success of every school experience, all children begin to enjoy the same childhood experiences.

    Alice M. Hammel and Ryan M. Hourigan are the authors of Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs: A Label-Free Approach. Alice Hammel teaches for James Madison and Virginia Commonwealth Universities, and has years of experience teaching instrumental and choral music. Ryan Hourigan is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Ball State University and a recipient of the Outstanding University Music Educator Award from the Indiana Music Educators Association. The companion website to Teaching Music to Students with Special Needs provides more resources.

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    Image credit: Having fun in a music class. Photo by SolStock, iStockphoto.

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    10. Cinco the Clinic Cat / Cinco, el gato de la clinica by Carol Brickell

     4 stars Carol, the author, met this kitty while working at a medical clinic in Honduras.  Their meeting inspired this story about a cat who needs a home and a little girl who wishes for a friend, in a special place where people work together to help others. Carol, la autora, se reunion con este [...]

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    11. Step Two on the Eightfold Path

    2. Right Intention
    While right view refers to the cognitive aspect of wisdom, right intention refers to the volitional aspect, i.e. the kind of mental energy that controls our actions. Right intention can be described best as commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Buddha distinguishes three types of right intentions: 1. the intention of renunciation, which means resistance to the pull of desire, 2. the intention of good will, meaning resistance to feelings of anger and aversion, and 3. the intention of harmlessness, meaning not to think or act cruelly, violently, or aggressively, and to develop compassion.
    Last Monday, I wrote about Right View, about keeping in mind how everything is a sentient being, and operating from that point of view, so that I can have compassion for all beings. Remembering that we all suffer, that we all want love and happiness. So this week, I am working on Right Intention. Making sure I keep my commitment to ethical and mental self-improvement. Let's look at Buddha's three types of right intentions: 1. renunciation. Well, I gave up sugar 7 months ago, and yesterday I allowed myself to fall off that wagon. Why? It was Harvest Potluck. I made a special cake that took me 4 1/2 hours to build from scratch. I ate two small slices, plus I had another garden club member's special dessert. Then I got a migraine which still has not abated, in spite of two doses of meds. Was it the sugar? hm. Maybe it was not keeping my commitment. 2. Resisting feelings of anger. As I was driving yesterday with a migraine, I said (aloud) in the car "I should not be allowed to drive with a migraine," because I was calling people idiots and stupid drivers. They couldn't hear me, but that is no excuse. I was not resisting my feelings of anger. Oh, and it didn't help my headache in the least. 3. The intention to harmlessness...to develop compassion.
    I'm always working on developing more compassion. I actually did do a better job of that yesterday, even after I got the migraine.
    I hereby declare myself RE-COMMITTED to my intention of renunciation of sugar, in spite of the upcoming holidays. And I will resist road rage. I will have compassion for my fellow drivers. They are not idiots, they are drivers, like me. They may be having a bad day, or a migraine. They all want love and happiness, just like I do. I will keep that in mind.

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    12. Never forget – A Letter to My Son Written on September 11, 2001

    "That's what it takes to be a hero, a little gem of innocence inside you that makes you want to believe that there still exists a right and wrong. That decency will somehow triumph in the end."  -Lisa Hand Those who know me well know since my son was a baby I have kept journals [...]

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    13. The Help by Kathryn Stockett

    If you have been under a rock the last few months, let me help you escape. The Help is an entertaining, eye-opening, jaw-dropping novel about the lives of one young woman who is white, 23 years old, and in a southern protocol prison, and how two maids, "the help," helped her escape.

    The Help is about two extraordinary black maids, trying to make a living and trying to survive working for pennies for an array of fussy, social-climbing, vindictive white women. Before they know it they are authors and creating quite a stir in the town of Jackson, Mississippi. Didn't live during 1962? Not a problem. You will get this book.

    ENDERS' Rating: *****

    Kathryn's Website

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    14. Illustration Friday: Soaked

    The sea heals me.
    It nourishes my soul.
    Soaked in its essence I become peaceful once more.
    Everything is as it should be.♥

    acrylic on a tiny 12"x4" canvas which will be sent to a friend who has had a tragic loss.
    Painted for Illustration Friday's prompt: soaked

    20 Comments on Illustration Friday: Soaked, last added: 5/26/2011
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    15. A Time for Peace

    McCutcheon, John Christmas in the Trenches. Illus. by Henri Sorensen. Peachtree, 2006.

    If you’ve ever heard the song “Christmas in the Trenches” by folksinger John McCutcheon, you will remember it. It’s became part of my Christmas tradition after hearing it on a local college radio station in ’84. McCutcheon has adapted his touching song about the Christmas Truce of 1914 for this picture book and CD for older children. The story’s narrator is an elderly man named Francis, who tells his grandchildren of the unique Christmas he experienced as a young soldier in WWI.  The soldiers in the trenches were bored and homesick on Christmas Eve. Suddenly, they heard German voices singing Christmas carols. The English soldiers decided to join in on “Silent Night,” an act that inspired a German soldier to cross No Man’s Land with a white flag and a Christmas tree. The two sides called a temporary, informal truce. Sorensen’s atmospheric oil paintings highlight the unexpected night of peace with a double-page spread showing the soldiers and the battlefield. Included are an author’s note, music notation, and a CD with the title song and “Silent Night/Stille Nacht,” along with a reading of the story. This sensitive picture book won a 2007 Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People. For older children who want to learn more about the event, show them Jim Murphy’s Truce: The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting (Scholastic, 2009). Murphy gives an accessible overview of WWI and focuses on how peace was briefly restored when troops defied orders and met their enemies in the barren land between the trenches. There the soldiers ignored their differences and sang carols, exchanged small gifts, and regained a sense of humanity.  Archival photographs, maps, and artwork help children understand the events.

    More Beauties of the Season … and Share Your Favorites by Leaving a Comment!

    Climo, Shirley. Cobweb Christmas: The Tradition of Tinsel. Illus. by Jane Manning. HarperCollins, 2001. Ages 6-9. Charming story of a kind old lady who gets to experience a little Christmas magic, thanks to some spiders. Manning’s bright illustrations provide interesting perspectives and a warm spirit.

    Cunningham, Julia. The Stable Rat and Other Christmas Poems. Illus. by Anita Lobel. Greenwillow, 2001. Cunningham’s original poems explore the Nativity from the perspective of the animals that gathered there. Lobel’s lovely paintings capture the mystery of the season.

    Daly, Niki. What’s Cooking, Jamala? Farrar, 2001. You can’t eat friends! That’s why Jamala decides to save

    2 Comments on A Time for Peace, last added: 12/13/2010
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    16. Featured Author Quote: Holly Black on White Cat

    Holly Black stopped by to add her input on our discussion of Compassion and White Cat, so we thought we'd highlight that for anyone who missed it! Holly says:

    "It is so interesting to hear people talk about my characters like they're people you know -- it's one of the things that I think writers like best, because most of the time we're alone with these characters for long stretches of time. They become real to us and we have strong feelings about them - but we're the only people who do - so when we meet readers who want to talk about them, it makes us feel less crazy.

    "The thing I have been continuously surprised by is the compassion that readers have for Barron. He's a troubled and troubling guy, but many feel sorry for him in a way that I don't!"

    Thanks, Holly! White Cat readers: Thoughts? Have you ever felt compassion for a character who wasn't necessarily "good"?

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    17. White Cat: Characters with Compassion

    This week's focus is on Holly Black's White Cat and it's an excellent representation of this month's theme: Compassion. Cassel is a character with great compassion in the midst of a cold, calculating, con-artist family.

    For discussion: If you've read White Cat, how do you think Cassel developed his own deep compassion in this harsh setting?

    And, in general, what books have you read where a character has great compassion, and how did it shape the story?

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    18. December Playlist

    Hey readergirlz! We asked you to suggest songs suitable for this month's theme, Compassion, and here's what you came up with:

    Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones

    (If you can't see the playlist above, you need Flash.)

    Note: Not all of the recommended songs were available at the Project Playlist website. Here's the full list of tracks suggested by readergirlz:

    Sally by Jonatha Brooke
    Serena by Duncan Sheik
    Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon & Garfunkel
    One by U2
    Fix You by Coldplay
    Explode by The Cardigans
    Love a Diamond by Tonic
    When You Come Back Down by Nickel Creek

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    19. Of Mothers and Love: Elizabeti’s Doll

    Elizabeti's DollAuthor: Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (on JOMB)
    Illustrator: Christy Hale (on JOMB)
    Published: 1998 Lee & Low Books (on JOMB)
    ISBN: 1584300817

    Chapters.ca Amazon.com

    Earthy tones and textiles of Tanzania softly serve warm embraces and learned love in this beautiful tale of motherhood mimicry and the joy of nurturing.

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487.

    0 Comments on Of Mothers and Love: Elizabeti’s Doll as of 5/1/2009 4:37:00 AM
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    20. Noticing and Nurturing Each Other: How to Heal a Broken Wing

    How to Heal a Broken WingAuthor: Bob Graham (on JOMB)
    Illustrator: Bob Graham
    Published: 2008 Candlewick Press (on JOMB)
    ISBN: 0763639036

    Chapters.ca Amazon.com

    Airy illustrations and sparse poetic prose paint a poignant picture of hope, help and healing in this unspoken invitation to dare to care.

    Other books mentioned:

    Dreams of flying on JOMB:

    Six weeks ago yesterday, in Woodstock, Ontario, eight year old Victoria Stafford  finished her school day … then disappeared.  As the days turned to weeks, Canadians coast to coast came to know Victoria and her family as we watched mother Tara McDonald’s daily efforts to keep the search for her daughter fresh in our minds.  This despite mounting public criticism and suspicion of Tara herself.

    Yesterday, we learned of Tori’s tragic fate … and of her mother’s innocence.

    This episode of Just One More Book! is dedicated to little Tori Stafford, with heartfelt hopes for the healing of those she left behind.

    0 Comments on Noticing and Nurturing Each Other: How to Heal a Broken Wing as of 1/1/1900
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    21. Of Compassion and Captivity: Itsy Bitsy & Teeny Weeny

    Author: Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen
    Illustrator: Gijsbert van Frankenhuyzen
    Published: 2009 Sleeping Bear Press
    ISBN: 9781585364176

    Doey eyes, gangly legs and silent, tangible devotion make this true tale of rescue, regret and release a thought provoking look at the value of life and freedom.

    Other books mentioned:

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

    0 Comments on Of Compassion and Captivity: Itsy Bitsy & Teeny Weeny as of 7/1/2009 1:47:00 AM
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    22. The House of Dance by Beth Kephart

    What would you do for a person you love who is dying?

    Rosie’s mom only has time for her affair with her married boss, while she and Rosie are mere strangers in the same house. She suggests to Rosie to visit her ill father on a daily basis. Granddad puts Rosie in charge of his piles: to toss or “In Trust.” Discovering a feather her Granddad reminisces how that particular feather came from a dancing dress of his wife, who loved to push back the furniture and dance for him. So Rosie bundled newspapers, tossed garbage and created a huge In Trust pile. Walking home she passed The House of Dance studio, and before long she made the decision to take lessons with the money that her dad sends. And for what reason?

    ENDERS Rating: Touching, tender story of what is important

    Beth Kephart's Blog

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    23. Waves, Ruts and Resilience: Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus

    Camille McPhee Fell Under the BusAuthor: Kristen Tracy (on JOMB)
    Published: 2009 Random House (on JOMB)
    ISBN: 9780385736879

    A big thanks to guest host Lucy (10) for joining Andrea today to discuss this book.

    Life can be challenging and fair’s got nothing to do with it. Parents are people. Friendship’s a worthwhile risk. There’s a lot to think about when you’re ten in the real world. Which is why I’m so glad Lucy (10) and I read this fun and fabulously thought provoking book.

    Mentioned in this chat:

    More books including less-than-perfect families on JOMB:

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

    0 Comments on Waves, Ruts and Resilience: Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus as of 1/1/1900
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    24. Bridges to Obama: Let Freedom Sing

    Let Freedom SingAuthor: Vanessa Newton (on JOMB)
    Illustrator: Vanessa Newton
    Published: 2009 Chronicle Books (on JOMB)
    ISBN: 9781934706909

    Spot-on sixties-style illustrations, simple, springboard text and a soulful, sing along refrain shine a celebratory light on 18 individuals who stood tall and opened doors for generations.

    More freedom reading on JOMB:

    We’d love to hear your thoughts on a favourite children’s book. Leave a voice message on our JOMB listener hotline, +1-206-350-6487, so we can include your audio in our show.

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    25. Will the Real Joe Sottile Please Stand Up?

    I love this photo, and if had started reading at his age, maybe my whole life would have been different. As it was, my life is more complicated than I ever thought it would be. That is, because I wear many hats in my so-called "retirement." 

    We all wear different hats in life, especially as weget older. My hats include those of a husband, father, grandparent, uncle,friend, teacher, essayist, instructor, tutor, performer, golfer, biker,children’s poet, and an adult poet.

    Over the pastthree decades I have written many children’s poems.  During that time, I sometimes have playedthis recording in my head, “Someday I am going to get more serious aboutwriting adult poetry and join an official writing group.”  Now I feel old enough, and I have taken theplunge. I am more than willing to share my poetry for adults and chase aroundfor publishers.

    I feel passionately about poetry, whether it’swritten for children or adults. Exactly how passionately? Well, I have strongbeliefs about the value of poetry. I am working on a poetry handbook forhomeschoolers, and what follows is an excerpt from the introduction:

    “Poetrycan help you understand the world better and yourself better. Poetry canprovide an avenue for you to untangle mixed-up feelings. Poetry can make youlaugh and encourage you to take problems in stride. Poetry can give you wordsof courage to remember in times of stress.

    Poetrycan be a friend that goes wherever you go. Poems can be tucked into your bookbag or your brain matter, and taken with you on any journey, short or long. Inother words, poetry can play an important part in your life as a road map tocourage, compassion, laughter, fun, success, and self-knowledge. This willbecome clearer as you read on.
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