Children of Courage

Children of Courage
May 12, 2017

Earlier this week I blogged about what I call “ordinary courage.” But there’s also extraordinary courage out there in the world. And knowing about it, stopping a moment to acknowledge and honor it, can inspire us to be our best, most courageous selves. This applies to all of us. Grownups. And kids.

So check out The World of Children that scours the nation and, each year, gives awards recognizing heroes helping children. There are awards for outstanding work in the fields of education, health, social services, and child protection. There is also an award that goes to a youth (under age 21) for having the courage and determination to do something extraordinary to support other children.

Meet some of the winners:

At Nicholas Lowinger’s school, he noticed a couple of kids – a boy and a girl – who took turns going to school. Why? Because they had to share a pair of shoes. And the shoes were pink and sparkly. It was hard not to notice the boy walking through the halls in pink shoes. Some kids might have laughed or teased, others might have felt awkward or a pang of sadness. Nicholas felt the need to make things better for this boy. One possibility would be for Nick to give the boy an old pair of his own shoes. Better than pink but not the same as every other boy was lucky enough to have. So Nick got up his courage, bought a new pair of basketball shoes, and handed them to the boy. Since then, Nicholas has raised money and donated NEW footwear to over 42,000 children around the United States.

Claudia Gonzales Moreno was a 19-year-old engineering student in Mexico. As she traveled the streets of La Paz she could not help but notice the many homeless children living I parks, graveyards, and sewers. She wanted to help. But the children were skeptical and frightened. Claudia had the courage to be patient, to earn their trust, and then to help them. Using her own money, Claudia rented a house big enough to shelter 40 children. Together, they chose to name the house ‘Alalay’ which means “I feel cold” – never forgetting where they had been and the grace of Claudia’s courage to provide shelter.

Jaylen Arnold had to face his own little life with courage. At age 2 he was diagnosed with OCD, Aspbergers, and Tourettes. By the time he went to school, Jaylen was a target for bullies. Jaylen chose to fight back, but not with fists. He started a program that he has taken to over 100,000 other children, summoning the courage to share his own story – with the bullies and the bullied – exposing the excruciating hurt that bullying causes.

Check out more at The World of Children.

Share your stories about courageous children!

Ode to Teachers

Tomorrow is May Day. The school year enters the home stretch. There is testing to be completed, curriculum units to be completed, grading to be completed….I share with you a tweet from @teachergoals:

Trying to fit everything in by the end of the school year be like…

Which reminds me of Key and Peele’s homage to teachers — I recommend those who have not seen it, take a look… and those who have seen it, take a relook — a great piece that serves as a reminder to all of us…teachers are the real MVP.

Share your inspirational stories about teachers!

Earth Day: We Are the World

I was doing my car radio listening thing a few days ago. And I heard a story about a new scientific find: There are signs of a chemical reaction under the icy surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus. This activity might just provide the conditions for life… way, way out there.

The conditions for life. An amazing concept that is so miraculous. And such a gift. Tis the season of new life. Beautiful white flowers are bursting out on every branch of the tree in front of my living room window. It’s makes me feel like I’m in a Monet painting. I had lunch today with a friend who just returned from visiting her 2-week-old grandson. Her face lit up as she talked about his tiny new face.

Celebrate Earth Day at the March for Science

Tomorrow is Earth Day and I will be celebrating my gratefulness for life here on this planet. I am going to the Science March – happy that the sun is supposed to be shining.

There will be speakers who spend every day thinking about life: about sustainability programs such solar energy, divvy bikes, and green buildings; creating platforms for collaboration among scientists to keep the innovations coming; the ever present search for medical advances to improve the quality of life for all of us here on earth.

There will be exhibitors to provide us information and ways to get involved to protect the Great Lakes, donate bone marrow, clean up nature areas, to name just a few.

I think it will be lots of fun. I encourage you to join in. I will be in Chicago. There are 609 satellite marches. Find yours.Then get your walking shoes on. Be there or be square!

Every Letter Is A Gift

Remember playing with the noodles in your alphabet soup? Ever drop your kid off at Montessori preschool and end up sharing a moment drawing letters in the alphabet sand tray? I don’t know about you, but there’s something irresistible to me about those shapes.

So my heart leapt a little when I ran across a charity that’s all about the visual joy of the alphabet. Here’s how it works. The first ever human alphabet is being photographed around the world, one letter at a time. 490 kids came together and formed a humongous A on a beach outside of Cape Town, South Africa. In Namibia, a B was formed by 500 children standing in the desert sands. C is to be found in a Sweden canola field, D is in a German valley in the Alps. And so on. So far the photographers and their young subjects have completed through the letter G. More to come.

The next step in the project will be bringing the photos to people like me who love the alphabet. And then donating 100% of the proceeds to charities that invest in children’s education. Wow! This is so great!

You can check out A-G at ABC Charity. I’ll be checking back when the photos are ready for sale.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

It’s my mother’s birthday! With this little Irish ditty (and a bonus joke – heehee), wishing her and you a very happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Leprechaun, Leprechaun

Leprechaun, leprechaun, fly across the sea
And fetch an emerald shamrock for you and me
Do not bring a nettle or a thistle for a joke,
But bring an Irish shamrock, for we are Irish folk
And you and I, my leprechaun,
will wear the shamrock gay,
And match it with an Irish smile upon St. Patrick’s Day!

And now for the joke:

What do you call a fake Irish stone?


(eye roll!)

Share your favorite Irish poems and jokes!

LOL: What the World Needs Now

LOL. One of my favorite text lines. It’s right on point in so many different situations. Sometimes it underlines a hilarious joke. Sometimes it goes along with SMH (shaking my head). Other times it takes the edge off a more serious and sobering thought. Sometimes it’s just the right way to express self-deprecation (as in: laughing at myself).

Sometimes it can be a way of sharing hope that the positive side of the human spirit will prevail. That is the idea behind Comic Relief a British organization that makes a connection between laughter and a just world, free from poverty. Once a year, Comic Relief sponsors Red Nose Day which they promote as “Let the funny see the money.”

There are oodles of way to be involved – all geared toward fundraising for the poor. From celebrities (think: a DJ’s 24 hour danceathon or a Saturday night song and dance show) to just plain folk (think: house party or dress up as a Nose at school – LOL). Each and every idea involves a gaggle of fun-lovers yukking it up for charity. Get this: The cast of the movie Love Actually is making a 10-minute short called Red Nose Day Actually! Check it out on BBC One.

The UK Red Nose Day is coming right up on March 24.

But, you say, what about if I don’t live in the UK? Chances are, if you’re reading this blog post, you live in the US. Not to worry. We know how to piggyback on a good idea when we see one. The USA Red Nose Day is scheduled for May 25. Get your funny on and get ready to Fun-Raise.


What are you going to do for Red Nose Day?!


Super Bowl/Super Giving

Watching the Super Bowl this Sunday? Not sure yet where you want to park your tush to catch the football fireworks? I toss out for your consideration, joining in a watch party that has a charitable component to it. Here in Chicago, Otis Wilson (are you old enough to remember the Super Bowl Shuffle?!) is hosting a watch event at a price that’s not off-limits for most of us. The money goes to a youth mentoring program. Check out opportunities in your local area.

Enjoy the game!

An App to Help You Stay Sane While You’re Staying Woke

Ever since the election there’s been a cloud of impending doom hanging over many of us. If you’re like me, dread has a not-so-healthy side-serving of obsession that goes along with it. I’ve gone from being a casual facebook user to checking multiple times a day, scanning for evidence that everything is going to be ok. This a big time-waster – because, really, there is never enough good news on facebook to reassure me. Just as bad — it causes a big stress buildup which is both mentally and physically harmful.

Kick the “Breaking News” Habit

So I’m going to go all out to kick the habit. But if I don’t follow the news all day – and there seems to be “breaking news” every few minutes – how will I stay woke (shorthand for: how will I fulfill my responsibility to fight for our democratic ideals)?

Get Countable!

If this dilemma hits home to you at all, I have an App to recommend that will help you streamline your efforts. The App is called Countable. It’s a great little tool that brings together all federal legislative happenings in one place. Yes!

Here are the key advantages: It gives you a weekly briefing on what bills are coming up for vote in Congress. It tells you how your senators and representatives have voted. I recently learned through this that my congressman has simply not voted on a number of recent bills – which raises a red flag right there. And it gives you a one-touch way to connect with those representatives.

There are lots of other nifty parts to this that provide more detail. You can customize to shape the info you receive. Daily postings of news articles on issues that interest you. Connections to organizations working on those issues.

Stay Strong!

Of course, in the end, gathering info, no matter how streamlined, is not enough. You gotta make those calls to your elected representatives to let them know your concerns. But take action to avoid post-election burnout. Stay strong!

Share your tools for streamlining your news.

And Still We Rise. Pass It On!

A bit of news to inspire!

First the Bad

Many of us spent much of 2016 preparing with pride to celebrate our first female President of the United States. My informal survey over coffee and on social media with friends is that many of us ended 2016 shell-shocked and deflated.

And it’s not just about the presidency. The number of women in Congress did not budge. Started off as 104. Ended up as 104. And that equals just 19% of legislators. The number of women governors actually fell: from 6 to 5.

Then The Good News

But 2017 brings fresh, hopeful news. Women are not deterred. In fact, they are acting with redoubled determination. Emerge America, an organization that arms women with the tools to make a strong run for political office, reports that the number of women expressing interest since November 9 is DOUBLE what they normally see.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. Following the election, my own daughter, for the first time, voiced an interest in running for office. I’ll admit — sometimes, looking at things through my experienced eyes that have seen progress ebb and flow, I can feel weary. But youth! Oh, youth! This is where the energy is, where the future is. And our young women are not defeated.

Pass it on!

Share your stories of meeting defeat with renewed effort.

Light for the World

Today I share a poem in the spirit of Christmas. Now more relevant than ever.


Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou.

Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.

Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.

We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?

Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.

Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.

We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.

We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.

It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.

On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.

At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.

We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.

Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.”

― Maya Angelou

Merry Christmas All!