Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Free Reading Program for Kids

Quite possibly, one of the most joyful websites The Daily Prism has discovered over the  years is KidsRead2Kids.

kidsread2kids photo

"KidsRead2Kids is a web-based platform that provides visitors with read-aloud, abridged versions of literary classics – everything from “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” to “Jane Eyre” to “Alice in Wonderland.” And, in line with KidsRead2Kids mission, the readings are performed by a diverse team of young readers," according to Points of Light.

The project is a volunteer effort by Alana, Jacob and Reuben Blumenstein after Jacob was diagnosed with dyslexia.  As explained to Points of Light:  As a child, Jacob, now 15, was diagnosed with dyslexia. Inspired by the support he received and resources available to him, he became determined to help provide other kids with learning differences the same opportunities he’d had. “It was a really big struggle for me. I felt like I was alone, like I was different from everyone else,” said Jacob. “When I figured out I had dyslexia, it kind of made sense. So here at KidsRead2Kids we wanted to help people who have the same type of problems, but don’t have the resources, to get to the point where I got to.”

From the Kids Read 2 Kids website:  Being an avid reader really does make you smarter. But struggling with Dyslexia or other learning disabilities can make reading difficult and not very much fun. So we tend to put the books down and our learning slows along the way.

Reading is a major source of knowledge and a great way to reduce stress in our every day lives. Reading allows us to transport our worried minds to another place, so we won’t feel so overwhelmed with the hardships of everyday life. While watching a movie may seem easier or more fun, there is nothing like curling up with a good book. We realize that reading can be intimidating, especially if you don’t have the right resources to help you.

Studies show that listening to books is the most important activity to build the skills for reading success.

So let us read to you.  We have picked our favorite abridged versions of beloved classic stories.  Together we can embark on great journeys, travel to foreign lands and meet fascinating people.  Along the way you will learn new vocabulary words, boost your analytical thinking, improve your writing skills, and even increase your working memory.

Let’s tackle some of the greatest classic literature together – one book at a time.



Tuesday, November 21, 2017

One World Bearing Witness--Dec. 2 & 3



From One World in Dialogue:

One World Bearing Witness is a free 24-hour online, global/local, live, participatory, healing ritual for humanity that brings us together in Unity and Difference.

Our intention is to stir the hope and courage of humanity and create a space between us in which our painful and often long-standing divisions can be held and seen from the depth of our nonseparation and interconnectedness. This is a small but essential step toward developing a ground together from which a new will toward cooperation and action can arise.

From December 2nd to 3rd, using the latest interactive video technology, we will go on a profound journey with thousands of concerned, caring people worldwide through seven ritual cycles offered by spiritual leaders, revered elders, community activists, visionary artists, and transformational tricksters from all directions on this planet to bear witness and to take a stand for the Light in the face of Darkness.

You are Invited
During this 24-hour online vigil, you will travel virtually from the Philippines to Hawai’i, from the Canadian plains to the African desert, touching down on “acupuncture points” on the body of our wounded world where you can participate in healing rituals and ceremonies guided by courageous individuals who offer to transform our divisions by working for a deeper reconciliation and peace.

Your hosts, Dr. Thomas Steininger and Dr. Elizabeth Debold, will introduce you to wisdom keepers from many lineages who will guide you into a deep recognition that we are not separate, and your hosts will also provide you with a seat in ceremony circles around the world where ritual holders are working to heal critical divisions in the human psyche and family.

We welcome you to participate in any or all of the 24-hours, as long as you feel drawn to take part.

You can bear witness and take part by:

  • Meditating with gifted spiritual teachers and practitioners from different traditions,
  • Realizing the remarkable depth of Oneness in a global meditation field,
  • Sitting with different communities and elders that invite you to take part in ancient and contemporary rituals to deepen our connection with each other and with earth,
  • Allowing yourself to be touched by the stories and ceremonies of healing and reconciliation,
  • Standing in solidarity with groups around the world that are working to heal the wounds of war and conflict,
  • Offering your own ideas and inspiration to help heal the past and forge a wholesome future,
  • Sharing your experiences with others from around the world, and
  • Developing a greater capacity to hold unity-in-diversity as one whole.
Learn more by clicking this link: One World


Monday, November 20, 2017

Are You TOO Nice?



Leo Durocher once remarked: “Nice guys finish last.” Do nice people really finish last? Sometimes. It depends on the type of "nice" one exudes. Some nice people command appreciation and respect, while others are used and abused. If you consider yourself a "nice" person, which type are you?

Here’s a quick self-assessment quiz:

  • Do you have a hard time saying “no” to others’ requests, even when they’re unreasonable?
  • Do you often find yourself under-appreciated and taken for granted?
  • Do you believe you’re being taken advantage of at work or in your personal relationships?
  • Do you let people give you thankless tasks they don’t want to do themselves?
  • Do you often go along with what others say and want, even if you feel differently deep down?
  • Do your kindness and self-giving often go unreciprocated?
  • Are you afraid of being rejected if you don’t go along with certain people’s whims and demands?
  • Do you take care of others first and yourself last?

If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, you could be too nice, at least in certain areas of your life.

To be sure, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being nice. The world is a better place with more kind hearted and generous people. At the same time, it’s important to be nice in a way that’s healthy for everyone involved (especially you), so that you’re not consistently holding the short end of the stick. Below are seven keys to gaining appreciation and respect.

1. Practice Self-Respect ― Know Your Individual Rights

Many researchers (Lefcourt, Ng et al.) state that having a sense of internal locus of control over our own lives is one of the important conditions for mental health. A healthy sense of control comes from exercising your right to set your own priorities, say “no” without feeling guilty, protect yourself from harm, choose healthy relationships, get what you pay for, and create your own happiness in life. At times, it’s simply wiser to take good care of yourself first, so you can in turn be better (and truer) with others. If your life is your own to choose, then with each moment you have the power to make a good decision. No one can take this power away from you unless you allow it. Know your individual rights, and practice self-respect.

2. Change Your Attitude About Having To Be Nice All The Time

“The difference is too nice - Where ends the virtue or begins the vice.”
―  Alexander Pope

There’s a big difference between being nice because you want to, versus being nice because you have to. The first comes from your heart, while the second feels like a burden. “Nice” people often associate not doing something for someone with erroneous negative thoughts and emotions. For example:

Negative Thought #1: “I’m selfish if don’t help my friends all the time. “

Negative Emotion #1: Guilt

Negative Thought #2: “She won’t like me if I don’t go along with what she wants. “

Negative Emotions #2: Fear of rejection, fear of negative outcome.

For “nice” people, it’s important to know that no one should be expected to be nice all the time. It’s neither reasonable nor real. If negative thoughts and emotions arise as a result of you being selective about your niceness, simply talk back to them with self-confirming responses:

Self-Confirmation #1: “If I allow myself my own time, I can take better care of myself as well as others.”

Self-Confirmation #2: “If I treat myself with respect, I will attract more respectful relationships in my life.”

Whenever reasonable and appropriate, practice self-confirmation when you feel obligated to be nice. Each time you do so, you remind yourself that YOU ARE IMPORTANT TOO.

3. Distinguish Being Kind To People From Having To Do Things For Them

There are two ways to be nice: Being friendly and courteous to people, and doing things for them. We can practice the first with just about everyone, as long as they don’t violate our boundaries. As the saying goes, “A smile costs nothing but gives much.” While we’re courteous with people, we can at the same time be selective about what we want or don’t want to do for them. In communication we call this being soft on the person, and firm on the issue. Steve Jobs reminds us: “Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life.”  Distinguish being kind to people from having to do things for them. Choose your giving wisely.

4. Don’t Try To Please Everyone, And Don’t Try To Please Any One Person All The Time

No one can please everyone all the time, so please don’t even try. People who receive your thankless and unreciprocated giving on a regular basis are also more likely to take it for granted. There’s power that comes with exercising your right to set boundaries and say “no.” While there are many ways you can say “no” diplomatically (see tip #5 below), you’re saying “no” nonetheless. With my private coaching to clients learning assertiveness, I often remind them that it’s more important to be respected than to be liked. Nice people often don’t get the respect they deserve, while those who are respected have the luxury to be nice. Again, there’s power in saying “no” and setting your own priorities. Gain respect first, so that your generosity, when you do offer it, is truly appreciated.

“At home I am a nice guy: but I don't want the world to know. Humble people, 
I've found, don't get very far.”
― Muhammad Ali

5. Know How To Say “No” ― Gently But Firmly

To be able to say “no” gently but firmly is to practice the art of communication. Effectively articulated, it allows you to stand your ground while keeping the peace. In my book (click on title) “Are You Too Nice? How to Gain Appreciation and Respect,” I review seven different ways you can say “no,” to help lower resistance and keep the peace.

“It's only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”

― Steve Jobs

6. Know That You’re Not Responsible For Other People’s Feelings

Sometimes we feel obligated to do things for others because we don’t want them to feel bad, even when it’s unreasonable for us to go out of our way. We may be so concerned about how others might react if they don’t get what they want that we submerge our own feelings to theirs. When done repeatedly, this facilitates a co-dependent relationship where other people’s happiness becomes your responsibility and burden.

In these situations, it’s important to remember that as long as we’re being fair, reasonable and conscientious, we’re not responsible for other people’s feelings. If you deny their unreasonable requests and they don’t like it, so be it. They’ll get over it. In the meantime, you’re teaching them how you’d like to be treated - with more consideration and respect.

7. Know That For Those Who Take You For Granted, Less Is More

The economy runs on the law of supply demand: the more something is available in abundance, the less values it has. The same rule applies to the economy of human relations. In the presence of ungrateful people, the more you give to them, the less they appreciate what you offer. Why should they value you when their taking is so easy, and your giving seems so inexhaustible?

When appropriate, you may do yourself a big service by cutting off or limiting your giving to ungrateful people, and setting standards for your generosity (which may include values such as mutual respect, consideration, appreciation, and reciprocation). If they give you a hard time about it, stand your ground and utilize the tips offered in this article. Remember that you alone hold the power in deciding whether you want to be nice or not. Don’t’ give that power away so easily. For those who cannot accept that you’ll no longer cater to their every whim, you lose little by ending your thankless service. For those who begin to show more appreciation, you now have a healthier relationship.

“Some people don’t appreciate what they have until it's gone.”
― Common saying

In conclusion, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with offering your generosity and kindness to those in need, or to the well deserving, or just because you have a big heart. Compassion makes the world a better place. At the same time, it’s healthy and wise to be a good person who also knows how to set appropriate boundaries. Nice people deserve the same love, appreciation, and respect they give to others, which can only be had when one begins to love, appreciate, and respect oneself. It is in affirming these values that you begin to find your own identity, and discover your true voice. YOU DESERVE NOTHING LESS.
---From Greater Good Magazine

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Volunteerism Unites a Divided Nation



Volunteers in California serving food for a community fundraiser
to benefit veterans, children and yout

If ever there was good news, it is this (edited for space) letter from the CEO of Points of Light. Take a second to read and The Daily Prism hopes that these positive words will inspire the reader to take action and volunteer to do something that makes life better for us all.  All highlighting in this post is by The Daily Prism.


By Natalye Paquin, CEO, Points of Light


There is a steady drumbeat of stories that focus on our differences. No matter how you consume your news, you’ll see or hear stories about intolerance in our daily lives and political stalemates at every level of government. At the beginning of the year, the Pew Research Center released a poll and said that Americans predicted the country’s deep political divisions to persist – with 86 percent saying the country is more politically divided than ever.

Shortly before that poll was released, however, Points of Light affiliate New York Cares reported that, just a week after one of the most divisive national elections in our country’s history, there was a 137 percent increase in people who came to them with an interest in volunteering.

As we approach the end of 2017, the two sides of this story continue to play out. Yes, we are still seeing rallies of hate and intolerance and our elected officials still don’t agree on solutions to some of the toughest challenges we face. But on the other hand, people are seeking out ways to do something that makes their community better or helps an individual in need. It’s the inclination to help in times of need. It’s what Americans do. And it binds us together as a nation.

The recent series of natural disasters has offered a striking visual – a national story about the power and impact of volunteers. Communities darkened by flood damage ultimately shine with the bright light of neighbors helping neighbors.

Some people walk out of their front doors to help others in their community. Some drive across the country to volunteer. And those who aren’t able to deploy, organize relief efforts from home.

The truth is, people committed to serving others unite around our common humanity.

When it comes to helping – whether it’s rescuing people from flooded homes or pulling up damaged floors after a storm – it doesn’t matter if you are a Democrat or Republican; rich or poor; black or white; religious or not. Volunteers unite in service. And, strength, resiliency and generosity flow from those simple acts of service.


Friday, November 17, 2017

St. Francis, Wealth, Poverty & Democracy



The Daily Prism's final posting of essays and thoughts from difference sources about the various elements of maintaining a democracy comes from the Center for Contemplation "Depth and Breadth" by Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM. We could post essays on this subject for weeks. The center message to this research is that compassion remains the key to a healthy democracy. 

***

One reason so many people have lost heart today is that we feel both confused and powerless. The forces against us are overwhelming: consumerism, racism, militarism, individualism, patriarchy, the corporate juggernaut. These “powers and principalities” seem to be fully in control. We feel helpless to choose our own lives, much less a common life, or to see any overarching meaning. The world is so complex, and we are so small. What can we do but let the waves of history carry us and try to keep afloat somehow?

But maybe we can at least look for some patterns, or for those who found the patterns. Let’s turn to a thirteenth-century Italian who has one of the longest bibliographies of anyone in history: Francis of Assisi (1181-1226). His simple wisdom has attracted many cultures and religions and continues to resonate eight hundred years later.

Saint Francis stepped out into a world being recast by the emerging market economy. He lived amid a decaying old order in which his father was greedily buying up the small farms of debtors, moving quickly into the new entrepreneurial class. The Church seems to have been largely out of touch with the masses. But Francis trusted a deeper voice and a bigger truth. He sought one clear center—the Incarnate Jesus—and moved out from there.

Francis understood everything from this personalized reference point. He followed Jesus in at least three clear ways. First, Francis delved into the prayer depths of his own tradition, as opposed to mere repetition of tired formulas. Second, he sought direction in the mirror of creation, as opposed to mental and fabricated ideas or ideals. Third, and most radically, he looked to the underside of his society, to the suffering, for an understanding of how God transforms us. In other words, Francis found both depth and breadth—and a process to keep him there.

The depth was an inner life where all shadow, mystery, and paradox were confronted, accepted, and forgiven—and God was encountered. The breadth was the ordinary and sacred world itself.

Francis showed us the process for staying at the center: entering into the world of human powerlessness. In imitation of Jesus, he chose “poverty” as his honest and truthful lens for seeing everything. Francis set out to read reality through the eyes and authority of those who have “suffered and been rejected”—and, with Jesus, come out resurrected. This is the “privileged seeing” of those who have been initiated by life. It is the true baptism of “fire and Spirit” with which, Jesus says, we must all be baptized (see Mark 10:39).

For Francis, the true “I” first had to be discovered and realigned (the prayer journey into the True Self). He then had to experience himself situated inside of a meaning-filled cosmos (a sacramental universe). Francis prayed, “Who are you, God? And who am I?” Finally, he had to be poor (to be able to read reality from the side of powerlessness). He realized that experiencing reality from the side of money, success, and power is to leave yourself out of sympathy with 99% of the people who have ever lived.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

16 Ways to End Racism in a Democracy



Racism is ugly. We likely all have a touch of racism within -- even the most liberal minded among us. Regardless of race, culture or faith, racism exits -- an unfortunate element of being human. It is, however, an aspect of being human that we can rise above. And in a democracy, all citizens are equal.  

From the series on democracy from Spirituality and Practice

Recent outbreaks of racial bigotry and violence have jolted Americans and people of good will around the world. Social critics, scholars, and cultural commentators have explained this revival of prejudice by pointing to a social justice system in need of repair; police brutality; parental abdication of the responsibility to teach respect for others to children; unemployment among people of color; and widespread feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness of those who sense that they have been denied equal opportunity.

Although these factors shed light on the divisiveness afoot in our world, they do not really get at the heart of the matter. Racial prejudice is a disease of the mind in which we project our self-disgust, anger, alienation, and paranoia upon others whom we perceive to be different from us.

This sickness of mind creates "the hostile imagination," a term coined by freelance theologian Sam Keen. It has already perverted community loyalties and threatens family solidarity. It is eating away at respect for the ideals of ethnic diversity which traditionally have animated our pluralistic society.

One way to lessen racial prejudice is to replace the hostile imagination with "the moral imagination." Here is where qualities and spiritual practices of the Alphabet of Spiritual Literacy hit the road and provide antidotes to the fears and resentments which at the root of racism. Among them are:


  1. Compassion
  2. Connections
  3. Hope
  4. Hospitality
  5. Imagination
  6. Justice
  7. Kindness
  8. Listening
  9. Love
  10. Meaning
  11. Openness
  12. Peace
  13. Reverence
  14. Shadow
  15. Transformation
  16. Unity



Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Find Solutions to Poverty for a Strong Democracy



Poverty impacts democracy. We can observe the current circumstances of homelessness, hunger, and impoverished families within the American society, and a  evident separation of the wealthy and the impoverished. The key phrase in the following abbreviated essay is "...it will take the commitment of compassionate individuals willing to learn about this issue and do what they can to help their neighbors.


From Spirituality and Practice:

Poverty destroys the bodies, minds, and spirits of people. It savages and ravages their hopes and dreams and puts them in a prison of fear, danger, and despair.

According to September 2017 statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau provided by the Federal Safety Net, 40.6 million Americans or 12.7 percent of the population live in poverty — that's one of every eight people. The child poverty rate is even higher — one in five children — disturbing because children can do little to influence their living conditions.

(Editor's note: The U.S. poverty rate dropped to 12.7% of the population in 2016 from 13.5% in 2015.)

There is no quick-and-easy solution to poverty. It will take a concerted effort on the part of government and socially engaged institutions (churches, synagogues, mosques, sanghas) to tackle the problem and change the structures and systems which fuel and perpetuate poverty in all its virulent forms. And it will also take the commitment of compassionate individuals willing to learn about this issue and do what they can to help their neighbors.