Monday, March 2, 2015

do not crumple, scar, or mess up

Here's a story you may have heard before.  It's about a teacher in New York who was telling her class about bullying and gave them an exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up, but not to rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty it was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. 

Sometimes a child who is bullied will later receive apologies, but the damage is done.  In this exercise, even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bully’s another child -  they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever.

Hardly a day goes by when I don't see something about bullying.  The It Gets Better Project has done some amazing videos aimed particularly at lgbt youth.  Let me be clear though.  While gay kids are so often the targets of bullies, ALL bullying is bad.  We need to get rid of it ALL.

The kids in that classroom learned an important lesson.  The looks on the faces of the children told their teacher that the message had indeed hit home.  I hope this hits home with all of you too!  Bullying must STOP!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Marching to a brand new month

Well the shortest month of the year has ended and now March is here. Was there that special something you wanted to do in 2015? Well, why wait? This is as good a time as any! Of course there are a few celebrations that come up this month. Christians are observing Lent and the last Sunday of the month is Palm Sunday. A bit earlier we have Saint Patrick's Day, which is a really big deal in major cities with large Irish populations.

On a serious note, March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month, Red Cross Month, Women's History Month, and Endometriosis Awareness Month. You will be hearing more about this as the month progresses.

There are fun observances too. This is Irish American Month, National Frozen Food Month, National Peanut Month, and Music in Our Schools Month. Later in the month we have National Pi Day (it's the 14th because 3/14 is the value of Pi).  The following day is the Ides of March.

I'm a little confused about today, because it is National Pig Day. Should I bring home a pig as a pet, of should I enjoy pork products all day long? (Who can say no to bacon?)

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Expresso Priest is now in Jesus' arms

When Malcolm Boyd’s Are You Running with Me, Jesus? was published back in 1965, my mother was one of the first to purchase a copy. It was a favorite book of hers throughout the rest of her life. When I heard yesterday of Malcolm Boyd's death at the age of 91, I thought of Mom who died two years earlier, and I thought of a prayer from that book:

It’s morning, Jesus,
I’ve got to run all over again.
Where am I running?
You know these things I can’t understand
So I’ll follow along,
OK? But lead, please.
Now I’ve got to run.
Are you running with me, Jesus?”

Boyd had a very colorful life. I wrote about him here before, because he was one of those wonderful people who truly made a difference. It's hard to imagine anyone having such a varied life - from his Hollywood days and friendship with icons like Mary Pickford to his lgbt activism and friendship with other icons like Harry Hay to his priesthood which also stretched wide and included coffee house appearances (in fact he became known as the "Expresso Priest") to the wealth of recordings and books which he created.  He also shared his love with the man who would become his husband, Mark Thompson.

His books include Gay Priest: An Inner Journey; Go Gentle Into That Good Night; Simple Grace: A Mentor's Guide to Growing Older; Crisis in Communication; Christ and Celebrity Gods; My Fellow Americans; Am I Running with You, God?; If I Go Down to Hell; The Hunger, the Thirst; Free to Live, Free to Die; Malcolm Boyd's Book of Days; The Fantasy Worlds of Peter Stone and Other Fables; and As I Live and Breathe. His bestseller Are You Running with Me, Jesus?, which I already mentioned had a special 40th anniversary edition ten years ago. Oh and this is only a partial list, in addition to which are the numerous books he edited.

Although I read his books and saw blurbs about Malcolm Boyd on television and in the newspapers, my only opportunity to see him face to face was a few years ago at the Main San Francisco Public Library. I will always cherish that moment - he was just as kind and gentle as I would have expected.

This past week there came news first that he was very ill and might not last the night, and then that he was moving into hospice care and prayers were requested. It was not a big surprise then when I learned late yesterday that he had been born to eternal life, but sad nonetheless. Now the Expresso Priest can continue running with Jesus, perhaps he has joined my mom in that running, and both of them now are in the loving arms of Jesus.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

counting your blessings

Years ago, I managed a restaurant for a while and one day I waited on a woman who had no arms. She asked if we might have a table where she could position herself a bit away from it. I wasn't quite sure what to expect at first, but this woman didn't ask for us to feed her. She did everything for herself - with her feet. It was Amazing to watch her function at a dinner table with such a huge positive outlook on life.

You have probably seen basketball games on television played by people in wheelchairs. You normally think of running back and forth on the court, but these wheelchair bound players are simply incredible and so full of life.  Who says you need legs to play basketball?

Have you ever caught yourself complaining about the simplest thing and than realizing how good you have it and how much worse it might be for others? I recall an old saying: "I had the blues because I had no shoes until upon the street, I met a man who had no feet." Think about it. The things we complain about, others might rejoice in.
Life is so full of blessings. Sometimes we are just too blind to appreciate them.  With my recent health scare, I know I am much more tuned in to the little things. I'm personally thankful that I have so many friends too that help keep my eyes on these wonderful prizes every day.  Isn't it great to have people like that in your life?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

It's the 25th

It's Wednesday and it's the 25th day of February. What does that mean to you? Well, it's twenty days from Saint Patrick's Day. Today is People Power Day in The Philippines. It is also the 56th day of the year and there are 309 days remaining until 2015 comes to a close.

I could tell you about notable events in history that occurred on this day and I could tell you about famous people born or who died on February 25th, but while it might all be interesting to some, many of you would simple look at all of this and would then shrug your shoulders and say "So what?"

Today is also a day when you can make a difference in the world.  You can change someone's life.  You can change you own.  You can make someone smile.  You can do great things!  Of course this is true of any day.  I am your daily reminder of that here.  Don't believe me though?  Hey!  Go out and prove it to yourself.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Be happy

Remember that Bobby McFerrin song from about 27 years ago called "Don't Worry, Be Happy"? It was a nice uplifting tune with a beautiful message about being happy. In fact it was happy enough to become the very first a cappella song to ever reach number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, a position it held for a couple of weeks. This morning I woke up thinking about it.

Being happy, to me, is one of the most important things in life.  It is so important in fact that the founders of the United States, listed the pursuit of happiness as one of three "unalienable rights."  It's something we can easily share too.  Want to make someone's day?  Smile.  Have a positive upbeat mood.  Make them feel worthwhile.  Even if someone is depressed and feeling blue, it's possible to cheer them up and make them happy.
Not having the greatest day?  Yeah, that can happen to all of us, but if we dwell on it, does it get better?  Nope.  Usually that make it worse!  Going back to Bobby McFerrin's song, "In every life we have some trouble, But when you worry you make it double - Don't worry, be happy."
Take his advice.  Happiness is pretty wonderful!  Be happy, and share your happiness.  Make Bobby McFerrin proud.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

That's beautiful!

Did you ever look out your car window and say "That's beautiful!"? How about a walk through the community where you live and you stumble across a scene that moves you because it is just lovely?  The beautiful here is from the Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.
I seem to see beauty everywhere I go.  It's not just on the ground or in the sky.  Beauty can be on the buildings and even on the clothing that people are wearing, and lest we forget, beauty can be within the people we encounter.  It's actually very rare to find a person who does not have beauty within.  You don't have to even look hard - just open your eyes and open your heart.
If we all take a moment to see the beauty that is all around us, I very certain we will realize how beautiful this great world of ours is!