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Eleven lessons from Nelson Mandela August 6, 2011

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Ode Magazine

In July we celebrated living legend Nelson Mandela’s birthday. Looking back on his 93 years, there are 11 lessons (from many) that I would like to share from his legacy which would help us make a small but positive mark in our society. Here they are:

1. Determination in fighting for the right thing. Nelson Mandela’s fought against apartheid for was a struggle of more than 50 years from 1943 when he joined ANC to 1994 when South Africa became independent and he became president. Of these years, 27 were in prison.

2. Never sell out on your beliefs. Nelson Mandela while still serving in prison had repeated offers from the apartheid regime to accept release for independence in small portion of South Africa called the Transkei, from where he hailed from. He simply turned them all down.

3. Be ready to change your tactics. In 1960 Nelson Mandela together with other leaders set up the military wing of ANC. After being released from prison in 1990, Mandela would eventually renounce all armed tactics and once again resort to peaceful negotiations. (more…)


Anna Chan, the ‘Lemon Lady,’ Feeds The Hungry On Her Own Dime May 29, 2011

Posted by chezanni in Community, Heroes, Inspiration.
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Anna Chan’s story is proof that one passing thought could have a lasting effect.

Less than three years ago, Anna found herself constantly searching for ways to calm her newborn daughter, Ava, who would often come down with intense bouts of colic.

“Ava would cry all the time,” said Anna, who works part-time as an office manager. “But I found out that she just loved her carseat. So I’d strap her in and drive around to help her fall asleep.”

During the drives around their Contra Costa County community in the Bay Area, Anna and Ava would pass hundreds of fruit trees standing in their neighbors’ yards. “There was fruit falling left and right,” Anna said. “And I thought of all the fruit that was just rotting, sitting there on the ground.”

Raised in Heyward, Calif., by a single mother, she recalled the days when she and her sister were hungry, finding themselves in food lines, eating only canned goods, and receiving donations from the Salvation Army. That was over 20 years ago, but it still resonated during those drives. (more…)

NFL Rookie Takes Disabled Teen to Dance May 29, 2011

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Chicago Bears rookie linebacker J.T. Thomas became the inspirational story of the lockout-dominated NFL offseason Monday, a few days after escorting a wheelchair-bound teen to her middle school dance.

The former West Virginia standout last month met 14-year-old Joslyn Levell, who uses a wheelchair. During that meeting, she told him that all of the boys she had asked to the dance turned her down.

Levell, who attends Suncrest Middle School in Morgantown — where the university is located — has spina bifida, a condition that prevents the spinal cord from developing properly.

“I hugged her and signed a few things and we talked for awhile and she cried a bit,” Thomas told NFL.com about meeting Levell. “I gave her a hug and told her everything would work itself out.” (more…)

In Panama, Movimiento Nueva Generacion Inspires Youths Living In Huerta Sandoval Santana May 29, 2011

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Published in the Huffington Post

In Panama, 17-year-old Dalys Perez lives in the Huerta Sandoval Santana, an area plagued by poverty, drugs and gang activity.

Because of familial hardships, Perez didn’t attend school for three of years. She says she was discouraged because, even though she considered herself to be living a good life, others would quickly judge her station by the area she lived.

But, she tells UNICEF, “Mr. Hector” changed all that.

“I didn’t go to school for a while because my mother was arrested…I became very depressed. It was then that Mr. Hector came to talk to me, that those things happen and I should not let it get me down.” (more…)

Actively making peace May 15, 2011

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Mary Lou Kownacki is a sister of the Order of St. Benedict and the former director of Pax Christi. She’s been a peacemaker for a long, long time. One of her books on prayer is The Fire of Peace.

“Peacemaking,” she writes, “is not an optional commitment. It is a requirement of our faith. We are called to be peacemakers.”

I think a lot of us treat peacemaking as optional. We say to ourselves and others, “Oh, let’s get the environmental crisis [or whatever else you want to put there] handled, and then we’ll work on peace.” Just like the environment, peace only exists in one time: now.

Being committed to do our own small part for the environment is important because if I do my part, and you do yours, eventually the small parts we accomplish add up. The same is true of making peace. (more…)

Sending love and hugs to Tōhoku Japan May 2, 2011

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By onetruespirit | Posted on Ode Magazine

I live in Tokyo, and I made a video about my mission to collect hugs and take them to the people who were affected by the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The people have lost so much. I don’t want them to lose hope, too. I plan to go to the Tōhoku region in early May and take the energy from the hugs that I received. We also collected messages in a sketchbook, which I will take as well. Check out the video and let me know what you think:

Military Teenager Creates Safe Haven For Children of Deployed Parents April 16, 2011

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By Lucas Kavner published on the Huffington Post

Moranda Hern was 15 years old when her father, Lietenant Colonel Rick Hern, was deployed to Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. In the months that followed, she found herself feeling increasingly more isolated and lonely.

“My friends don’t have parents in the military for the most part, so they didn’t really understand what I was going through,” Moranda said. “I thought I was the only one who was experiencing these feelings.”

Moranda had long hoped to follow in her father’s military footsteps. At 12, she began attending camps and events with the National Guard and California Army, and during a National Guard Youth Symposium in Missouri in 2007, she met another girl, Kaylei Deakin, with whom she had an immediate connection. “Meeting Kaylei was kind of this ‘aha’ moment for me. I learned I wasn’t the only one going through these things.”

She and Kaylei wanted to turn their own feelings of confusion over their fathers’ deployment into a movement — one that brings military children across California together.

“Military kids get each other,” Moranda said. “There’s a real understanding there.”

Together, they attended The Women’s Conference in California in 2008, which laid the groundwork for The Sisterhood of the Traveling BDUs — itself a play on the popular teen novel and Army-slang for battle dress uniforms.

Moranda and Kaylei began organizing their first conference for the organization right away, all the while finishing up high school classes and applying for colleges. “I was still, like, trying to get my driver’s license,” Moranda remembers.

With help from mentors like Major General Mary Kight of the California National Guard and grants and training, they scheduled speakers, workshops, and a semi-formal “Purple Carpet” event. Soon the girls raised enough money so that all conference participants could attend for free.

It took a lot of work, but seeing these hundreds of girls coming together and supporting each validated Kaylei and Moranda’s mission.

“The last night of the conference we had an Open Mic, and every girl stood up and spoke about their own experiences,” Moranda said. “They thought their fathers had deployed because they didn’t love them; they talked about eating disorders and self-esteem issues. They cried and laughed and all these things. But they left the conference knowing that someone was fighting for them.”

Moranda’s goal is to expand the program nationwide, aiming for at least three more states to take on Sisterhood conferences in the coming months. But she’ll have a lot on her plate, considering she’s now a freshman at the Air Force Academy. Kaylei is pursuing a life in the military, as well, currently training with the Marines in Fort Leonard Wood.

“I’m also a diver and we travel around to compete,” Moranda adds. “So yeah. I’m really busy.”

Support the Sisterhood or learn more by going to their website.

A Beautiful Summer Day Which the Blind Man Couldn’t See April 15, 2011

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2011 April 15
by Steve Beckow

Thanks to Gloria, for this video, The Power of Words, which brought tears to my eyes.

And, speaking of a beautiful summer day which the blind man couldn’t see, thanks to the people last week who offered to donate to this site, which I don’t need, but took me up instead on my suggestion to sign onto Paypal and make a donation to my favorite cause: “elliemiser@aol.com.”

Why people suddenly thought I needed support, which I don’t, I don’t know. It must reflect something I said unwittingly. But I was gratified that they took me up on my suggestion and donated to Ellie, who is 79 and supports her disabled son on Social Security.

With the donation of one man, Ellie had a tooth extracted that was hurting her.

With the donation of another, she bought some medicine for her son who lives in pain.

With the donation of a third, she was able to buy food for a week, her Social-Security check having given out by then. She confided to me that what to other people was a small amount, to her was worth ten times as much.

I donate to her regularly.  But this week I couldn’t because I gave instead to a Central-American man, who wanted to buy a year’s access to BBS for a radio show he wants to start, to report on 2012.

But next week I plan to start again, because Ellie still needs to eat.

A couple of months ago, I donated to her so she could buy heating oil for the rest of the winter. She’d been living in extreme cold under a blanket in a nation that’s rumored to be the wealthiest on Earth (wealthiest for some).  I asked her why she hadn’t told me. She said she doesn’t like to say.

Instead of buying an iPad, I bought a winter’s worth of heating oil for a gal in OK. That may have been the best targeted donation I ever made. Better than to the guy in Santa Fe who had run out or the man in Michigan who didn’t know how he was going to last another month.  (You hear a lot in this job.) I was warmed a long time from another’s heating oil.

So thanks to “Z,” and the rest of you. I know El appreciated it. She told me so.


To those who pray for peace… April 11, 2011

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The Cloud of Unknowing is an anonymous work of Christian mysticism written in Middle English in the latter half of the 14th century. The text is a spiritual guide on contemplative prayer and the esoteric techniques and meanings of late medieval monasticism.

Those who pray for peace
can take encouragement
from some words
in The Cloud of Unknowing:

“The whole of humankind
wonderfully helped
by what
you are doing,
in ways you do not understand.”

This is the prayer I read when I am out of sorts, out of patience, out of pocket, out of steam, out of inspiration on the peace front.

I find it hugely reassuring that I do not understand how I am helping, but that I am.

For spiritual nourishment, please visit www.susancorso.com

Photo by Kevin Rawlings

Anne Thomas – A Letter from Sendai March 27, 2011

Posted by chezanni in Community, Inspiration, Relief Work.
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This is from almost two weeks ago, but the spirit of the people of Sendai in the wake of the terrible disaster has not left my mind. To read more posts from Anne Thomas click here

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

It’s utterly amazingly that where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often.

We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entranceway. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no.

They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So, so far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous Cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and Love of me,

With Love in return, to you all,


Wondering how you can help? Aid relief efforts by clicking here to donate to the Japanese Red Cross, or text redcross to 90999 to make a $10 donation.