Friday, March 27, 2009

Peace starts with a smile

I've been driving by this local church that has a sign with a weekly message and this past week the sign reads: Peace starts with a smile.

Reading it made me smile. And although I drive by the sign at least 4 or 5 times a day, I smile every time. At the simplicity and profound truth. It is really hard to be antagonistic toward someone who is genuinely smiling at you. Think about it. We return smiles of complete strangers who smile at us in passing, and sometimes a simple smile can change our entire day. There is even some research that indicates smiling has positive effects on our health. So why not peace.

I often say that kindness is the birthplace of peace. And there are many instances when a smile can and should be considered an act of kindness. How do you fight against kindness? Historically the word peace meant 'absence of war or disorder', but it also came from an Old English word that meant happiness! So consider this: Happiness starts with a smile. That makes sense doesn't it?

We have a school in Houston Texas, Hunters Creek Elementary School, that is celebrating their 8th annual Peace Week. The dakbands are being used a tool to help encourage and promote peace amongst the student body. I am hardly a skeptic when it comes to understanding the relationship between peace and the dakbands, and how they encourage people to reach out and touch the humanity that unites us all, but even I have been amazed at the stories coming from these students. I encourage you to go to the website and choose Hunters Creek Elementary School from the Organization drop down list and read some of the stories!!

I am going to leave you with the stories from one band # 47544 that now has 6 stories attached to it. These stories epitomize the efforts of peace.

March 25, 2009 15:41 - Houston, TX, United States of America
I helped a girl at recess. The other girls said that she could not play. I noticed that she was sad. I went over to her and asked her to play with me. That made her happy and we had a fun time.

March 12, 2009 18:40 - Houston, TX, United States of America
helped a friend with a presentation

March 24, 2009 13:24 - Houston, TX, United States of America
I saw a kid being bullied at recess. i stood up for him and ask them to stop. It really helped my friend and made him feel better.

March 26, 2009 13:32 - Houston, TX, United States of America
I received this DAK band because I am always thinking of my friend and bringing her treats that she likes. I know it makes her happy!

March 26, 2009 13:29 - Houston, TX, United States of America
I received this DAK band because I am always thinking of my friend and bringing her treats that she likes. I know it makes her happy!

March 25, 2009 12:36 - Houston, TX, United States of America

I helped stop a fight and helped make new friends.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Amazing Grace

When I was in grade school I joined the school choir. Thankfully (for me) membership was not audition based. Everyone who showed up and had a desire to sing became part of the choir. I never missed a practice and I always sang my heart out. Just before our first public performance however my mother showed up at our practice. On the way home she suggested that I might want to lip sync the songs when we performed because I had such a 'strong voice' that I sometimes drowned out the other singers and that it really wasn't fair to them. Well, I took this very seriously and simply whispered the songs during the performance, feeling quite proud of 'strong voice' and the special secret I now had.

It wasn't until I was in high-school and the choir fad had faded (I no longer wanted to be a famous singer) that my mother told me the truth: the choir conductor called her to tell her that I was completely tone deaf, could not sing a note, and as a result throwing the entire chorus off key!

I still can't sing a note, despite voice lessons, and I still love to sing despite the fact. The point is, the conductor and my mother were very kind to have handled the situation with such grace!

One of the songs we sang (well, everyone but me) was Amazing Grace - I LOVED the song. But I couldn't for the life of me figure out what a 'wretch' was. Certain it was a spelling mistake I boldly asked the teacher during one practice, " Shouldn't we be singing wrench instead of wretch?

This version of Amazing Grace is truly amazing, and having been to the Coliseum I can only imagine what it might have been like live!!

Do you have any stories of grace to share?

Here is the link because the video is no longer available to embed:

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Banana Bread and Kindness

Yesterday I spent most of my morning with a grade 7 class at Bowmore P.S. in Toronto. A student contacted me a few months ago, following my interview on CBC Radio (see podcasts). She told me about an audio documentary that she was working on and asked if she could interview me. I was flattered and very curious about her project.

With my own personal videographer in tow (my brother-in-law) - I wanted to capture this interview, and the class presentation I offered to do, for posterity (and with some artful editing a YouTube video perhaps!). Tim and I made the drive from Burlington to Toronto under sunny skies, that hinted at today's warmth, in record time because the QEW traffic gods must have been happy about the weather as well - I can't find any other reason to explain the absence of traffic at 9:00 am on a weekday! Both of us were curious about the young woman, the project and her classmates response to dakbands. Let me just say that even if the traffic gods had been truculent it would have been worth the trip.

Young Emily was articulate, informed, self confident and courteous. The interview was professional and fun. Her teacher was gracious, enthusiastic and encouraging, while all her classmates impressed us with their attentiveness and enthusiasm. During the presentation to the class I happened to mention that I have not received a dakband from someone and I am very much looking forward to the day when I do receive my first band. I left the school with eight dakbands, some great video and a grateful heart.

I don't want to give away any details about Emily's project because I have invited her to write a post about it in her own words. But I'll give you involves banana bread and kindness.