Saturday, December 30, 2017

Top 50 Corporations that Made Positive Change in 2017



Points of Light reports:
Now in its sixth year, the Civic 50 provides a national standard for superior corporate citizenship and showcases how companies can use their time, skills and other resources to improve the quality of life in the communities where they do business.

In today’s changing times, research has shown 63 percent of consumers want corporations to drive social change and be responsible leaders in the community and beyond. Civic 50 honorees are operating ahead of the curve by integrating community engagement practices, volunteerism, and social impact strategies into their business model.

The Civic 50 for 2017, in alphabetical order, are:

AbbVie
Adobe Systems Inc.
Aetna
Allstate
Altria Group Inc.
AT&T*
Baker Hughes Inc.
Banfield Pet Hospital
Baxter International Inc.
Caesars Entertainment*
Capital One
Charles Schwab & Co. Inc.
Citigroup, Inc.
Comcast NBCUniversal
Comerica Incorporated
CSAA Insurance Group, a AAA Insurer
CVS Health
Dell
Deloitte
Dr Pepper Snapple Group
Ecolab
Entergy Corporation
Exelon Corporation
FedEx Corporation
Food Lion
Freeport-McMoRan Inc.
General Mills
Hasbro Inc.
Health Care Service Corporation
The Hershey Company
The Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Company
IBM Corporation
KeyBank
KPMG LLP
MGM Resorts International
Motorola Solutions Inc.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company
PIMCO
Prudential Financial Inc.
Raytheon Company*
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
Steelcase
Symantec Corporation
Tata Consultancy Services
Toyota Financial Services
TSYS
UnitedHealth Group
UPS
Valero Energy Corporation
WellCare Health Plans Inc.*

* Indicates sector leader.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Favorite Acts for Good in 2017


In February, Muslim activists Linda Sarsour and Tarek El-Messidi launched a crowdfunding campaign to help repair a vandalized Jewish cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. They aimed to raise $20,000—but hit $162,468. “Through this campaign, we hope to send a united message from the Jewish and Muslim communities that there is no place for this type of hate, desecration, and violence in America,” they wrote.

Denis Estimon immigrated to the U.S. from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when he was in the first grade. “There was a language barrier,” he told ABC News, “and my mom was always working and my father was still in Haiti at the time so I wasn’t able to talk to anybody. I felt isolated. I felt lonely.” Now a senior at Boca Raton Community High School, Estimon launched a student group called “We Dine Together” so that no student has to eat alone at lunch.

America saw a wave of hate crimes this year. But we also saw people try to stop them. In May, two men were killed (and one injured) defending two black teenagers from a white supremacist on a Portland, Oregon, commuter train. “I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me, because they didn’t even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look,” said Destinee Mangum, 16. “And I just want to say thank you to them and their family and that I appreciate them because without them, we probably would be dead right now.”

In July, “dozens of beachgoers formed a human chain stretching almost 100 yards into the Gulf of Mexico to rescue a group of swimmers in danger of drowning after they were caught in a powerful riptide,” reports the Guardian. “Six members of the same family, including a grandmother who suffered a heart attack, were among nine people passed along the chain to safety at Florida’s Panama City beach.”

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping,’” said Fred Rogers. That was certainly true when tropical storm Harvey hit Texas in late August, and again when Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck Florida and the Caribbean.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tree Sisters -- Women Seeding Change




TreeSisters is a global network of women who donate monthly to fund the restoration of our tropical forests as a collective expression of planetary care. As a feminine leadership and tropical reforestation organisation, we exist to call forth the brilliance and generosity of women everywhere and channel it towards the trees. Our goal is to make it as normal for everyone to give back to nature as it currently is to take nature for granted.

With 80% of our primary global forests gone, we need to sequester atmospheric carbon as fast as we can. Trees replenish groundwater and rivers, protect biodiversity, soil and livelihoods, and support healthy ocean temperatures. They represent one of the best solutions we have to escalating climate disruption.

Fast growing tropical trees sequester carbon three times faster than temperate trees, which is why we are currently planting in Brazil, Madagascar, Kenya, and India with expansion into at least four more countries in 2017.

As a UK Charity, we have developed five strategic objectives to guide us in fulfilling our Charitable Objects:

1. Build a global network of treesisters

2. Inspire and support feminine leadership through shifting consciousness

3. Raise and channel funding into tropical reforestation and protection

4. Develop partnerships to accelerate reforestation

5. Become sector leaders in global reforestation and feminine leadership
--From TreeSisters Website


Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Feeding the Hungry From Italy to New York



RomAltruista, our affiliate in Rome, works tirelessly to help disadvantaged populations find food, shelter, education and jobs. Founded in 2011, it’s had success with “flexible volunteering,” whereby volunteers can browse the organization’s website for projects by theme: animals, environment, elderly, disabled, etc., and sign up for dates by clicking on the online calendar. Schedules are confirmed by email.

In Italy, some of the most vulnerable groups served by RomAltruista are immigrants and refugees. According to a story on BBC posted in July, “more than 500,000 migrants have passed through Italian ports since 2014, and numbers are on the rise again. … Italy is the main destination for migrants attempting to reach Europe by sea, due to its proximity to Libya. According to the United Nations, 83,650 people have reached Italy by sea since the beginning of the year – a 20 percent increase on the same period in 2016.”

...To reach out further to immigrants, RomAltruista launched a new project: Welcome Dinners. “We aim to break the barriers between new arrivals and people who live in Rome,” said Mauro. “At each dinner, there are four locals, four newcomers and one facilitator, and every participant brings food – like a potluck. It helps foreigners and locals get to know each other and counteract bad press – immigrants only seem to appear in the news when there is a crime or something like that. We want people to get to get the direct experience of the immigrants so they can realize they are just normal people.”

Once again, social media generates positive visibility. Participants at Welcome Dinners are asked afterward to post a few words describing their experience on Facebook. Words posted so far include: “warm,” “sharing,” “brotherhood,” “pleasant,” “friendship” and “harmony.”

In New York, donations to food pantries now include fresh, locally grown vegetables, thanks to the efforts of Volunteer New York! The organization, which coordinates a wide variety of volunteer opportunities, has partnered with an energetic gardener, Amy Benerose, who created Our New Way Garden as a way to grow organic produce to serve urban areas that otherwise rely on canned and boxed foods.

..“Last year, we grew about 20,000 pounds of vegetables and distributed most of them to local food pantries. The quality is really good because it’s grown locally,” said Amy.

The harvest includes corn, eggplant, squash, peppers, melons, pumpkins, lettuce and more, along with herbs and garlic. In addition, Our New Way Garden is raising fruit trees and hopes to build a greenhouse for future year-round crops.

--Excerpted from Points of Light Foundation

Friday, December 22, 2017

Coats for Winter: London to New Jersey



Wrap Up London, a 7-year-old project of Hands On London, sets up coat donation areas each November in Tube (underground transit) stations, where commuters donated 20,846 coats this year.

Amy Grant, a volunteer with Wrap Up London, says the method resonates with busy working people.

...The idea proved contagious. Wrap Up Manchester is now in its second year, collecting 1,575 coats this season. Two more cities in the United Kingdom started drives this year: Wrap Up Birmingham (687 coats) and Wrap Up Glasgow (1,000 coats). Now, the city of Nottingham wants its own coat drive, too.

...Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, Jersey Cares, an organization that links volunteers with worthy causes throughout the state of New Jersey, has held its fall coat drive for 22 years – but staff say they’ve never seen a response like this year, both in the volume of coats donated, and the number of businesses, Scouts and other groups holding collections.

...Jersey Cares uses shipping containers to consolidate coats collected at nearly 300 sites. The containers can be driven to shelters, churches and social organizations throughout the state.

This year, a dozen 8-foot tall shipping containers were packed.

--Excerpted from Points of Light Foundation

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Winter Solstice a Day to "Let Your Soul Laugh"



Today is one of celebration -- a celebration of the return of the sun, the light. The winter solstice is the darkest day of the year, but the day the brings the return of hope and joy.  To some, this is the beginning of a new year.

This anonymously written poem about the winter solstice echoes the beauty and significance of this special day.

When you startle awake in the dark morning
heart pounding breathing fast
sitting bolt upright staring into
dark whirlpool black hole
feeling its suction

Get out of bed
knock at the door of your nearest friend
ask to lie down ask to be held

Listen while whispered words
turn the hole into deep night sky
stars close together
winter moon rising over white fields
nearby wren rustling dry leaves
distant owl echoing
two people walking up the road laughing

Let your soul laugh
let your heart sigh out
that long held breath so hollow in your stomach
so swollen in your throat

Already light is returning pairs of wings
lift softly off your eyelids one by one
each feathered edge clearer between you
and the pearl veil of day

You have nothing to do but live

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

New Englanders Most Generous Donors





Conventional wisdom says New Englanders are flinty, tough-minded, independent. Now you can add generous to that profile.

Nearly three-quarters of the region’s residents give to charity — a share higher than in any other part of the country, according to a new analysis. New Englanders, along with residents of the Mountain-region states, are also tops in volunteerism, at 35 percent.

The new study, by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, does more than establish "most generous" bragging rights. It’s a first-of-its-kind longitudinal analysis of household giving, drawing on a gold-standard survey of 9,000 households conducted nationwide every two years since 2000.

Lilly followed this study with a report using the same data to focus on religious giving.

The topline results are discouraging. The share of Americans who give to charity has dropped across all ages and education and incomes levels. From 2000 to 2014, the proportion of American households that gave declined from 66.2 percent to 55.5 percent.

The falloff in religious giving is particularly significant. Only 34 percent of households gave to a house of worship or religious organization in 2014, down from 46 percent in 2004.

Other insights about the American donor in the 21st century:

Boomers Aren't so Reliable
About 58 percent of households led by 51-to 60-year-olds gave in 2014, down to 20 percentage points from 2000.

Women Beat Men
Half of single women give to charity compared with only 36 percent of their male counterparts. Single women donors on average also give more each year: $1,455, compared with $1,341 for men.

Millennials and Religion
Only 13 percent of adults under 30 give to religious causes, but their average annual giving (in 2012, the latest year reported) was nearly $1,500.

Heartland Kids Are Beloved
Residents of the western states of the Mid-west — the Dakotas, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, and Nebraska — earmarked 7 percent of their giving for organizations serving youths and children, the tops in the country.

Arts Shine in the Mid-Atlantic Area
About 4 percent of giving in this region went to the arts, the highest proportion in the nation and a likely byproduct of the prominence of New York culture.

New England Is Head of the Class
On average, 18 percent of contributions in this region went to education — the biggest share nationwide. Another 15 percent went to answer society's basic needs, which was also a top figure.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Enjoy Winter Celebrations with These 5 De-Stressing Reminders



Taking time to simply savor the season of winter holidays is not easy, and mostly for those who host family gatherings and community functions. So much to do and so little time. Here are five reminders of ways to take those deep breaths and enjoy the gift of spirit:
  1. Less is more. Too many traditions lead to more busyness and less time to enjoy. Make sure there is balance.
  2. Prioritize connection. The sense that you are part of something larger is the single strongest predictor of happiness that you have.
  3. Schedule time for traditions. Forming a habit or tradition requires a strategy; the simplest one is to put it on your calendar. What gets scheduled gets done!
  4. Don’t forget down time. Holiday time can be hectic. To be at your best make sure you get enough rest. Having a day where the entire family stays in pajamas or a day where there is nothing at all scheduled will help you to feel better during this jam-packed time of year.
  5. Replace expectation with appreciation. Having preconceived ideas about how things will go is a recipe for disaster. Instead, practice being grateful. Gratitude helps you to remember all the truly good things in your life with a sense of reverence.

Monday, December 18, 2017

9 Self Improvement Steps Before Midlife



Excerpted from Thrive Global, Kathy Caprino, M.A. is an international career and personal success coach, writer, speaker and leadership developer dedicated to helping women and men “find brave” to create more success, fulfillment and joy in their lives and work. She offers these  top 9 lessons we need to learn before midlife are:

#1: Make a brave decision on what you want to stand for

Before it’s too late, you need to “find your brave” and make a powerful stand about who you want to be in the world, and what you stand for. It’s also time to STOP tolerating and allowing what you can no longer accept, in your life and in the world.

Make the decision today to become the person you will be proud and honored to be, so you have no regrets when the time comes for you to leave this life.

#2: Never compromise your soul 

There are things that it’s ok to compromise on – But it’s NOT ok to compromise your soul. If you do, disastrous outcomes will occur.

Know what keeps your spirit alive, and honor that with all you’ve got.

For me, that’s truth, transparency, compassion, strength and integrity.

#3: Engage your wisdom and discernment when you choose whom to love and trust 

The people you choose to enter into relationships with – be it through marriage, friendship, business partnerships, work colleagues and those you hire to work with and for you – will dramatically impact the quality and condition of your life. Don’t let people into your life who will hurt or demean, diminish and mistreat you. Simply don’t allow it. If you continually attract people who hurt or abuse you, you have to look at what is inside of you that needs healing so you won’t repeat or continue to hook into abusive patterns over and over.

Be incredibly discerning about who you will give your heart and trust to.

And if and when they violate your trust, care and respect, don’t wait to do something self-affirming and powerful about it.

#4: Don’t wait one single minute more to express and honor your creativity

I’d be millionaire if I had a dollar for every professional woman who has told me that she’s dying of boredom and meaninglessness in her work, and that there’s a creative side of her that’s bursting to come forward.

The truth is this: Writers write, painters paint, dancers dance. Just DO the thing you’re desperate to do. You don’t have to throw your whole career out the window to honor your creativity. Just pick up that paint brush and start committing to painting, today. Just that step will improve your life.

#5: Get help when don’t have the strength or power to change what’s necessary 

This one is really simple. When you feel that you can’t do what you want to alone, then go get some help. Don’t wait. Reach out to a mentor, a friend, an ally, someone who loves and respects you, and sees the future vision of you before it’s hatched.

Don’t wait on the sidelines for years and years thinking “I don’t have what it takes to do this.”
The truth is, maybe you don’t have what it takes right now, but with the right kind of help, you will.

#6: Don’t break yourself against what is 

Don’t break yourself against your reality – change it. And doing that doesn’t mean you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater. Figure out some small steps you can take to take today to make a discernible difference in your situation, and start doing them.

#7: Heal your relationship with money and don’t poison yourself with it 

I see now that I developed some very negative and unhealthy ideas about money. The worst was this idea: “I’ll always make a lot of money in my work, but I’ll feel like a prostitute doing it.” Meaning, I began to feel in my corporate life that the only way to make a lot of money was to sell my soul, hate what I did and the people I did it with, and compromise who I really was – to sell myself for the almighty dollar.

These negative beliefs will control how you relate to, and attract (or repel) money, unless you address your relationship with money and heal your money story.

Look back on your childhood and ask yourself “What did I learn from my family and childhood about how to view and relate to money?” Was it with power or weakness, secrecy or openness, shame or pride, courage or fear, love or hatred, resentment or happy expectation? Who controlled the money and who gave up control? When you write out your money story from the beginning of time until now, you’ll see patterns that are alive today that are keeping you from embracing money as a positive energy form in your life.

#8 Don’t waste one second of time on “should” 

All of  the “shoulds” of my life, and caving to the “shoulds” (others’ expectations and demands on how you should live and behave) just can’t lead to a happy life.

As someone so wisely said, “Stop shoulding all over yourself.” Stop responding to what you feel is obligation, and start doing what you truly want to do, the way you want to do it. Then deal powerfully with the results and outcomes of that.

#9 Let go of the pain, anger and resentment 

Life is full of incredibly hard bumps that can leave us broken and bloodied.

But life can also be so very stunningly beautiful, shining and radiant that you’re brought to your knees with amazing gratitude and humility at the sheer beauty and wonder of it.

I’ve learned that it’s a choice – to be either consumed with the terrible pain and anger, or to find a way to heal and release it.

To stay stuck, drowning in the poison of hate and devastated dreams, or to find it in your heart to forgive, see your part in it, let go, and move on to keep building a meaningful and rewarding life.

I’ve learned that holding onto the pain and anger misses the whole point of living. We didn’t come here, to this planet at this time, to spend our entire life here in a state of rage and disillusionment. We came here to learn, grow and thrive.



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Friday, December 15, 2017

Chanukah, 1942 -- the Light in Nazi-Occupied France


Hanukkah is December 13, 2017 - December 20, 2017. The Holiday of Lights - celebrating the miracle of a little oil that lasted eight days. This story we excerpted from an essay by Carola Schiff who retells the story of her father, "Reb Meir Shlomo Sommer, Monsieur Sommer as he was called in France, was a man of uncompromising faith, conviction and courage."

Chanukah 1942
1942 in Perigueux, France, a few men hurried into a rundown wooden barrack. Each opened the door carefully looking around to make sure they weren’t being followed. They then went into a hidden backroom. This room served as the makeshift Shul for those brave enough to venture out. The "shul" barely scraped together a minyan of men to pray.

They davened Maariv quickly, their hearts rapidly beating with the knowledge that at any moment the Nazis could storm in and arrest everyone. One man lit the menorah as the others ran to grab their coats and get home as fast as possible.



Suddenly, a man in the back of the room stood up and in a deep, warm voice started to sing “Maoz Tzur.” The men were frightened and aghast. Someone might hear; it was too dangerous! Soon another man joined in singing, then another and another, until everyone was tearfully and courageously singing with joy. For the moment, gone were the fears of the Nazis. For a few moments, Chanukah was there in all its glory, as in days of Judah the Maccabbe, a few brave men stood proud, their faith prevailing over the evil surrounding them.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

A Dozen More Simple Practices of Gratitude

"Stop to smell the roses.Mother Nature offers jewels around every corner,
and your senses can feast on her offerings. Pause and take it all in."

A dozen more easy ways to practice gratitude continuing yesterday's post from a Chopra Center essay: 25 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude. 


13. Give Thanks for Your Cup Being Half Full
Stop for a moment and appreciate your simple glass of water. You are alive because of water, and it deserves your attention.

14. Leave a Note for the Postal Carrier
Imagine how your postal carrier might react when she receives a note of thanks. This person delivers happiness to others, and it might be time for him or her to get some, too.

15. Thank a Former Teacher
When you look back on your education, is there a particular educator who influenced you? Offer that teacher a well-earned shout-out.

16. Give a Colleague a High Five
Similar to family members, you may take your co-workers for granted. Take the time to thank your colleagues for a job well done.

17. Pray or Meditate
Contemplative practices often include spending time giving thanks. Take some quiet time to reflect on your blessings, and be grateful for the good qualities you possess within yourself.

18. Ponder Your Pet
Have you considered how much joy your pet brings to your life? This animal offers up unconditional love to you through thick and thin. Give her an extra long belly rub of thanks.

19. Thank Your Garbage Collectors
What would life be like if your trash wasn’t picked up each week? The men and women who keep our cities clean should be thanked.

20. Write a Kind Review
Consider how your favorite restaurant might appreciate your kind Yelp review. You could also take the time to write an Amazon review for your favorite brand.

21. Thank Those Who Keep You Safe
Who do people call when they are badly hurt or afraid? Police officers, emergency medical technicians, and firemen and women tend to people during their most critical times. When you see them, thank them.

22. Send an Email to Your Child’s Teacher
It is hard to imagine spending each day teaching 30 children the tools they need to thrive.Teachers offer patience, kindness, and encouragement to future leaders, and they have earned your gratitude.

23. Take Three Deep Breaths
This simple practice can give you enough time for one simple moment of gratitude. Be grateful for your breath, because you wouldn’t be here without it.

24. Stop and Smell the Roses
When is the last time you appreciated the natural beauty surrounding you? Mother Nature offers jewels around every corner, and your senses can feast on her offerings. Pause and take it all in.

25. Donate
Is there a nonprofit doing excellent work to make the world better? Thank the organization with your words and also your wallet, if possible. Even small donations go a long way.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Easy Ways to Practice Gratitude





The Daily Prism has taken the first dozen easy ways to practice gratitude from a Chopra Center essay: 25 Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude. We will feature the next dozen tomorrow.

You can bring more good vibes to your brain through practicing gratitude. You may already be thanking your partner for picking up groceries, but what about expanding your gratitude practice? Have you considered how many people contributed to the coffee you drink every day? The coffee bean farmers, distributers, truck drivers, coffee shop owner, barista, and many others played roles in getting a delicious cup of coffee in your hands.

Research indicates that gratitude practices boost emotional well-being as well as physical health. The following are easy ways to make gratitude a part of your day.

1. Send a Text Message
A simple “thank you for making my life brighter” text message can go a long way.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal
Spend a few minutes each night jotting down three to five highlights from your day.

3. Pause Before Meals
Take a quiet moment of mindfulness before digging in, and silently thank everyone involved in making the food from the farmer to the preparer.

4. Run Errands with Gratitude
Make a point to thank each cashier, bank teller, and grocery bagger for helping you get through your errands. Your gratitude will no doubt enhance their days as well.

5. Take a Walk
Try practicing gratitude for what you notice—the clean air, the big sky, the warm sun, and the rest of your surroundings.

6. Try a Body Scan
Lie down and move your mind’s spotlight slowly from your toes to your head. As you concentrate on each body part, express gratitude. For example, you may say to yourself, “Thank you, feet, for taking me on epic adventures.”

7. Write a Thank-you Note
Bring back the forgotten art of snail mail and send a handwritten note to someone who recently gave you a hand.

8. Set Reminders in Your Phone
Harness technology for good and remind yourself every afternoon to be thankful.

9. Make a Phone Call
Do you have a friend who helped you through a tough time? Reach out and offer a word of thanks.

10. Consider Your Clothes
Use your clothes as another way to reflect on interdependence. How many people contributed to make your shirt? Farmers, designers, seamstresses, retail store owners, and others combined to create and deliver this item.

11. Notice Your Shower
Have you thought about who is involved to get water to your shower? What about your soap? Let your mind expand to thank everyone who contributed to your daily bathing routine.

12. Give Family Members a Nod
It’s easy to take family members for granted. Notice what happens when you give your undivided attention to your spouse or sibling by thanking him or her for supporting you through thick and thin.

By infusing gratitude into your daily life, you will improve your own outlook and also create joy in others’ lives. Your grateful outlook will help make your days great and full.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Symbolism of 7 Days & A Gift of Silence



Why 7 Days?

7 Days of Rest holds both symbolic and pragmatic significance.

On a symbolic level, the number 7 has profound meaning in many spiritual traditions and the concept of 7 levels of space, time, color and sound can be found across cultures.

A week is a unit of time, a cycle of activity and rest according to which we organize ourselves in modern life. A week offers a natural opportunity for participants to undergo a significant journey, a process of deepening immersion into the vibration of rest and healing.

1.01.18 amplifies the energy of a fresh beginning - seeded through a sacred collective process from which a new blueprint for a thriving planet can take root and grow.

From and Essay on Huffington Post, The Gift of Silence

By Bruce Davis, Ph.D.
In silence we can hear our own thoughts. Perhaps more beautiful we can hear the world without the crowded stream of our thoughts. Visiting silence can be an adventure, a pilgrimage, a life changing journey into peace and quiet. We can be quite busy and loud in our attempts to make a more peaceful world. Maybe the peace we seek is not so complicated. Maybe the quiet we want can begin with turning down the noise we routinely live with. Real peace and quiet can be no further then spending some time in silence.

Silence is more then a break from the traffic of daily life.The stillness is food for our nerves. As we rest in quiet’s gentle blanket we recover from daily stress and much more. We begin the recovery from our loss of self. In all the noise we live with, we contract. We tighten up. We lose our openness and joy. In silence, we are less on survival mode and more free to smile. Despite what many people think, silence is good company.Our separateness decreases. We feel more connected. In peace and quiet we are less alone. As we let go into the great silence, we find ourselves part of something greater. The sounds of the wind, a burning fire, rain and snow all make us feel a part of something more. With less thought, our senses become brighter. Smells, tastes, sights, and of course sounds grow stronger in silence. Our emotions, memory, and imagination are awakened. Many writers and artists begin their work by beginning in a period of silence.


Monday, December 11, 2017

A Baker's Dozen Tips for 7 Days of Rest



7 Days of Rest, is a global effort of healing and re-calibrtion: 7days-of-rest.org

The basic recommendations for the 7 Days of Rest include:


  • Silent time - alone and together, reconnecting to the sounds of stillness that enable us to recalibrate with the wisdom of our bodies and nature.
  • Minimize all work, consumerism, media and social media activity – (if possible, a full consumerism, television and social media fast). This ideally means connecting to the virtual world only for the purposes of joining focused global meditations or programs relating to human and planetary rest, healing and replenishment.
  • Clearing the body from toxins and eating plant based food – as fresh and organic as possible. Different dietary suggestions will be offered on the website for optimal detox and nourishment.
  • Breath, yoga, sound and movement practices that support the body's rest, healing and replenishment.
  • Meditation, prayer, intention setting and practices that cultivate deep listening, intuition and spontaneous visions.
  • Practicing gentle loving communication with one’s self and those in one’s environment.
  • Rituals dedicated to the healing and replenishment of oneself, the planet and the entire Web of Life.
  • Communing with and honouring nature, animals, the plants and the elements.
  • Journaling insights, dreams and intentions.
  • Connecting consciously to the 7 Day global prayer and meditation field either online or offline.
  • Practicing living in gentle, simple community and extending ones field of compassion to all beings.
  • Envisioning a healed world.
  • Gratitude for all that is healthy and nourishing in one’s own life and in the world. 

Saturday, December 9, 2017

7 Days of Rest -- Jan 1 to Jan. 7

7 Days of Rest.  A Global Event to Heal and Re-Calibrate

The first step in our collective healing is to enable deep rest for ourselves and for Mother Earth.
It is from stillness and clarity that together we can begin to restore balance and replenishment for all.

During the 7 Days of Rest, from January 1 to January 7, individuals and communities around the world will create a unified field of intention and action, for the healing of Mother Earth and all Her Children

The “Rest” that is invited also includes a variety of activities that can be integrated into time at work, at school, or at home with family and friends. Our primary objective is to create a sacred collective space and time away from the busyness as usual for us to reflect together, as a species, how we can realign with our hearts, with each other, and with the intrinsic intelligence and order of nature. Through co-creating a coherent field of rest, deep listening and benevolent actions, we amplify the emerging global culture of peace, health, cooperation, wise governance and reverence for all Life.

For 7 Days we join forces across the world to

~  connect in stillness, compassion and peaceful action
~  remove stress, noise and toxins
~  commit together to planetary healing
~  set the intention and foundations for co-creating a thriving world for all

A global community platform will showcase diverse events from across the world, and provide inspirational resources in preparation for and during the 7 days. During the 7 days there will be opportunities to connect to daily meditations, as well as to sessions offered by diverse teachers inviting us to deepen our understanding of the essence of rest and healing.

Click this link for more information from 7days-of-rest.org




Friday, December 8, 2017

Empathy Can Build a Kinder, More Connected World



A Q&A with Jamil Zaki, PhD, director of the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory and assistant professor of psychology at Stanford University.

Thrive Global: What does research tell us about the importance of having empathy for others, both in our work and home lives?

Jamil Zaki: Loads of evidence demonstrates that when people experience empathy, or the ability to share and understand each other’s emotions, it benefits themselves and others around them. For instance, people who score high on empathy tests are happier and attract friends more easily than their less empathic peers. They also excel at work, especially in "people-centric" professions like sales or management. Empathy also helps people navigate important personal relationships. Adolescents who can skillfully decode others' feelings are more likely to survive the slings and arrows of seventh grade without developing mood problems, and empathic individuals' romantic partners tend to be more satisfied with their relationships.

TG: How can we build our empathy muscle?

JZ: One common misconception about empathy is that it's a trait—built into our genes and hard-wired into our brain, such that some people simply have it and others don't. There's some truth to this notion: for instance, identical twins have levels of empathy that are more similar to each other than fraternal twins. But that doesn't mean that we're "stuck" at one level of empathy for life. Some people are naturally better at basketball than others, but by practicing your jump shot you can still vastly improve it. Empathy is like that, too. And even if you don't realize it, you choose whether to practice empathy. Will you cross the street to avoid a homeless person or pay attention to their pain? Will you ignore the opinions of someone you disagree with or hear them out? Making empathic choices, over time, builds empathic habits, and eventually empathic people. For instance, just a few weeks ago, a landmark study examined people who practiced empathy exercises for three months. Not only did they improve at understanding other people, but parts of their brain involved in empathizing became thicker. By practicing empathy, they made changes to the biology underlying it!


Jamil Zaki, PhD, TED Talk about empathy

TG: What’s your advice for those who struggle to empathize with others, particularly during times of stress?

JZ: These are hard times for empathy. In America, especially, we're facing a cultural moment full of tribalism and isolation. The anonymity and echo chambers of social media likely aren't helping either. But I think moments like these make it especially important to challenge ourselves. Part of this is remembering that empathy is a skill, and that in building it we not only protect our own well-being, but can also help others around us. Working at empathy isn't always easy, but many things that are worthwhile take time and effort. In times like these, I think we all need to ask ourselves what type of world we want to live in, and what we will do to bring that world about. And if we wish for a world that is kinder and more connected, our own empathy is a great place to start.


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Kindness of St. Nicholas

A 2014 computer generated image of the real St. Nicholas based on earlier detailed x-rays and detailed measurement of the temporarily removed skeletal remains of St. Nicholas.

Today, December 6, honors St. Nicholas, AKA St. Nick, AKA Santa Claus. St. Nicholas' legend appears to be well documented  -- a person born into wealth who "used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering." From the St. Nicholas Center: 


The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus' words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.

Under the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ruthlessly persecuted Christians, Bishop Nicholas suffered for his faith, was exiled and imprisoned. The prisons were so full of bishops, priests, and deacons, there was no room for the real criminals—murderers, thieves and robbers. After his release, Nicholas attended the Council of Nicaea in AD 325. He died December 6, AD 343 in Myra and was buried in his cathedral church, where a unique relic, called manna, formed in his grave. This liquid substance, said to have healing powers, fostered the growth of devotion to Nicholas. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th (December 19 on the Julian Calendar).

Through the centuries many stories and legends have been told of St. Nicholas' life and deeds. These accounts help us understand his extraordinary character and why he is so beloved and revered as protector and helper of those in need.

One story tells of a poor man with three daughters. In those days a young woman's father had to offer prospective husbands something of value—a dowry. The larger the dowry, the better the chance that a young woman would find a good husband. Without a dowry, a woman was unlikely to marry. This poor man's daughters, without dowries, were therefore destined to be sold into slavery. Mysteriously, on three different occasions, a bag of gold appeared in their home-providing the needed dowries. The bags of gold, tossed through an open window, are said to have landed in stockings or shoes left before the fire to dry. This led to the custom of children hanging stockings or putting out shoes, eagerly awaiting gifts from Saint Nicholas. Sometimes the story is told with gold balls instead of bags of gold. That is why three gold balls, sometimes represented as oranges, are one of the symbols for St. Nicholas. And so St. Nicholas is a gift-giver.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The California Effect on Climate Change




There is good news out there about people making positive changes in the battle to halt climate change.  The following is excerpted from a magazine piece "The California Effect" published in The Nature Conservancy winter edition.


...California’s government was confronting the state’s substantial role in contributing to climate change. If California were a separate country, it would have ranked as the world’s 12th-largest emitter of greenhouse gases, falling between Spain and Poland. In 2006, implementing new state law, California created a cap-and-trade system designed to first freeze and then reduce the greenhouse gas emissions of  power producers, transportation and manufacturers in the state.

That system has had profound effects on climate emissions and conservation in California. “When I started working on this,” says Louis Blumberg, the head of TNC’s California climate program, “California was the eighth-largest economy in the world and the 12th-largest emitter of greenhouse gases. Today California is the sixth-largest economy and the 19th-largest emitter.” And California’s program is also having a dramatic impact throughout the U.S. and Canada.

...“California recognizes that nature is a powerful tool to address climate change,” says Blumberg. “Their cap-and-trade program is catalyzing forest conservation programs across the United States.” California’s successful comprehensive program makes it one of the leading government entities to tackle climate change in a serious way.

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Success of Youth in Leadership Roles



A recent article in Upworthy showcased The Boys & Girls Clubs of America and ways to introduce children to community service. The Daily Prism excerpted the following from the complete article: 


"The key is truly to let them (the youth) lead," says Teresa Welch, vice president of program, training, and youth development services for the national headquarters of Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

"A lot of times as adults we sort of forget that. We assume that they need us to lead them," she says. "But when it’s led by youth, that’s when they’re absolutely the most successful."

The Boys & Girls Clubs' mission, through programs like Torch Club is to teach leadership and life skills to young kids, in order to prepare them for the challenges of adult life. But those leadership opportunities have advantages in the present, too.

Leadership gets younger kids engaged because it allows them to decide which issues to address, Welch says, and they can pick issues that impact their own community. She gives an example where kids who liked to skateboard got in trouble for graffiti that went up on buildings near where they skate.

"The kids will start talking about, well, we’re in trouble all the time for having our skateboards because they think we’re the ones doing the graffiti. But that wasn’t us," Welch recalls.

But instead of allowing the kids to grow resentful of the authority with which they had their conflict, Boys & Girls Clubs youth development staff encouraged them to come up with a creative solution.

"So they did a project where they actually painted over the graffiti with these beautiful murals," Welch says. In doing so, the Club both helped beautify the neighborhood and learned how to solve a problem in their community.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Music Impacts Creative Thinking


The Daily Prism has excerpted for space considerations an informative report on "How Music Helps Us Be More Creative"  Click the link to read the entire report.


One new study explores music as a source of creativity. Since music has been shown to improve cognition and enhance learning and memory in other studies, it makes sense that perhaps it has an impact on creative thinking, too.

In the experiment, participants tried creativity exercises that measured divergent or convergent thinking while being exposed to either silence (the control scenario) or classical music that evoked four distinct emotional states: happy, calm, sad, or anxious.

After comparing participant performance on divergent and convergent thinking in the five scenarios, the researchers found that participants who’d listened to happy music had significantly higher scores on divergent thinking than those who’d performed in silence. In other words, they came up with more total ideas, and more creative and innovative ideas (as rated by people who were unfamiliar with the study’s aim). The other types of music did not have this impact.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Chicago PD Hero


From CNN:

Jennifer Maddox has been selected as a 2017 Top 10 CNN Hero. Voting is now underway to select the Hero of the Year, to be revealed during 'CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute,' airing live, Sunday, Dec. 17 at 8 p.m. ET.

Chicago, Illinois (CNN) Jennifer Maddox is no stranger to the violence in the city of Chicago.

For more than two decades, as a member of the Chicago Police Department, she's observed the growing plight facing residents—particularly young people on the South Side.

"We are in a state of emergency here," Maddox said. "The shooting, the killing. Five-, six-, seven-year-olds—they're losing people that they love and care about."

Last year was Chicago's deadliest in nearly two decades, with 762 homicides, according to the Chicago Police Department. And until recently, 2017 was on par with last year's rate.

"A lot of our young people are fearful to even come outside," Maddox said.

For the last six years, Maddox has dedicated herself to giving young people their childhoods back.
Her nonprofit, Future Ties, offers an afterschool program and escape for children living in the turbulent Parkway Gardens Homes. This low-income apartment complex that once housed the likes of Michelle Obama is today a neighborhood rife with challenges.

"Parkway used to be a beat I covered on my patrol," said Maddox, 45. "I saw lack of opportunity, lack of resources, lack of community spaces for young people, and it sparked something inside of me."

Today, Maddox and her group provide a free, safe space for more than 100 children in grades K-5 to learn, grow and succeed. Her ultimate goal is to reach all 1,200 children that live in the complex. Maddox works a second job to support these efforts.

CNN's Marissa Calhoun spoke with Maddox about her work: One Chicago cop's solution: Stop the violence before it starts

Monday, November 27, 2017

Striving to be a Living Wopida -- or Filled with Thanksgiving



The following is an edited and excerpted piece written by Chief Phil Lane Jr.,  a member of the Ihanktonwan Dakota and Chickasaw Nations and an internationally recognized leader in human and community development, .and by Daughter Shannon Lane:

Wopida is a Dakota word, with profound, infinite, eternal meaning and transforming spiritual force. It is sometimes called a Giveaway Ceremony or a Potlatch. Wopida also reflects honoring our Sacred Relationship with all Life of Mother Earth. Lala Vine Sr. said, “All Life is a Gift of our Great Spirit, for which we should always give Thanksgiving!"

... When we strive to make our lives — every thought, word and action, a living Wopida — we are blessed by a great spiritual gift. Whenever the inmost chambers of our heart and soul are filled with Thanksgiving and gratitude, our lives also naturally become filled with compassion, love, understanding, forgiveness, joy, happiness, and oneness.

With our lives centered in Thanksgiving, there is no room left for the experience of fear, hate, prejudice, revenge, jealousy, loneliness, and disunity. Nothing remains that separate us and our Oneness with our Beloved Creator, our Human Family, and all Life, seen and unseen.

This spiritual understanding of Wopida requires each of us to live with honor, compassion, love, respect, and harmony with all life, including ourselves! This spiritual wisdom and understanding recognize that the Hurt of One is the Hurt of All, and the Honor of One is the Honor of All!

We are all Indigenous Peoples of Mother Earth, the Beloved Children of one Father and one Mother. Each one of us a Sovereignty — Ancient, Imperishable, and Everlasting. For all of these blessings and many more, may we be infinitely and eternally thankful!

Wopida Tanka to All!

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.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Healthy Society Boosts Democracy



Healthy citizens are more likely to vote in elections.


Today's post on democracy comes from the University of Wisconsin. It focuses on being healthy and how that can impact democracy.  

Excerpted from the University of Wisconsin:

Factors that facilitate social environments and health are varied and span far beyond medical care. Politics has a hand in most factors in one way or another. “Nearly everything we experience is touched by government,” says Barry Burden, a professor of political science and Director of the Elections Research Center at UW-Madison. “Roads, air, taxes, medications, movies, cost of textbooks, and the moped speeding limit are some examples.” While these may not immediately impact individual biology, they do impact the social environment we find ourselves in, subsequently impacting our health status. Tom Oliver, a professor of population health sciences in the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, says, “broadly speaking, how we improve public health has to come from a lot of areas, and we have to look beyond just health care.”

...The impacts of voting and political decisions touch nearly every facet of daily life, from safety, to housing, to education, and even our health.

...The relationship between health and voting is both well-researched and reciprocal. “Research shows that the healthier you are, the more likely you are to cast a ballot,” says Burden. In turn, there is also research that shows voting can actually make people healthier. “When a person is involved with civic life, they are social, efficacious, and participating,” says Burden.

Participation in civic life is one way to improve social wellbeing. Feelings of connection and belonging change the way individuals interact with the world around them. Oliver speaks highly of the importance of participating in community life as it relates to health. “Social connectedness is really important for physical health, because they are active when they’re getting out and doing things, and also mental health, because social capital relates to an underlying ideal that can determine health status.”

The Social Ecological Model of Health is one way to visualize this idea. The model suggests that an individual’s health is determined not only by their biology and individual choices, but also the community they live in, the systems they interact with, and the societal norms that shape their realities. “Health begins with the genes you inherit from your parents,” says Oliver, “but it grows into how you are affected by your social environment.”

... "We have to decide where we’re going as a country morally, economically, and politically,” says Wells. And this certainly has an impact on wellbeing. “A lot of people talk about a right to health,” says Oliver. “And while we can’t ensure that, we can support it.” No matter what this support looks like, whether it is directed to health policy or otherwise, the people have the power to facilitate not only their personal health, but the determinants around them that can shape it. This is the foundation of a healthy democracy.