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Archive for the ‘Awareness’ Category

Happy 4th of July

We wish you and yours a safe and happy Independence Day!


Image from tomatoesforcucumbers.com

Lift Off by Donovan Livingston

Donovan Livingston’s Harvard Graduate School of Education Student Speech

Take 5 minutes and enjoy. (source)

“Education then, beyond all other devices of human origin,
Is a great equalizer of the conditions of men.” – Horace Mann, 1848.
At the time of his remarks I couldn’t read — couldn’t write.
Any attempt to do so, punishable by death.
For generations we have known of knowledge’s infinite power.
Yet somehow, we’ve never questioned the keeper of the keys —
The guardians of information.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen more dividing and conquering
In this order of operations — a heinous miscalculation of reality.
For some, the only difference between a classroom and a plantation is time.
How many times must we be made to feel like quotas —
Like tokens in coined phrases? —
“Diversity. Inclusion”
There are days I feel like one, like only —
A lonely blossom in a briar patch of broken promises.
But I’ve always been a thorn in the side of injustice.

Disruptive. Talkative. A distraction.
With a passion that transcends the confines of my consciousness —
Beyond your curriculum, beyond your standards.
I stand here, a manifestation of love and pain,
With veins pumping revolution.
I am the strange fruit that grew too ripe for the poplar tree.
I am a DREAM Act, Dream Deferred incarnate.
I am a movement – an amalgam of memories America would care to forget
My past, alone won’t allow me to sit still.
So my body, like the mind
Cannot be contained.

As educators, rather than raising your voices
Over the rustling of our chains,
Take them off. Un-cuff us.
Unencumbered by the lumbering weight
Of poverty and privilege,
Policy and ignorance.

I was in the 7th grade, when Ms. Parker told me,
“Donovan, we can put your excess energy to good use!”
And she introduced me to the sound of my own voice.
She gave me a stage. A platform.
She told me that our stories are ladders
That make it easier for us to touch the stars.
So climb and grab them.
Keep climbing. Grab them.
Spill your emotions in the big dipper and pour out your soul.
Light up the world with your luminous allure.

To educate requires Galileo-like patience.
Today, when I look my students in the eyes, all I see are constellations.
If you take the time to connect the dots,
You can plot the true shape of their genius —
Shining in their darkest hour.

I look each of my students in the eyes,
And see the same light that aligned Orion’s Belt
And the pyramids of Giza.
I see the same twinkle
That guided Harriet to freedom.
I see them. Beneath their masks and mischief,
Exists an authentic frustration;
An enslavement to your standardized assessments.

At the core, none of us were meant to be common.
We were born to be comets,
Darting across space and time —
Leaving our mark as we crash into everything.
A crater is a reminder that something amazing happened here —
An indelible impact that shook up the world.
Are we not astronomers — looking for the next shooting star?
I teach in hopes of turning content, into rocket ships —
Tribulations into telescopes,
So a child can see their potential from right where they stand.
An injustice is telling them they are stars
Without acknowledging night that surrounds them.
Injustice is telling them education is the key
While you continue to change the locks.

Education is no equalizer —
Rather, it is the sleep that precedes the American Dream.
So wake up — wake up! Lift your voices
Until you’ve patched every hole in a child’s broken sky.
Wake up every child so they know of their celestial potential.
I’ve been a Black hole in the classroom for far too long;
Absorbing everything, without allowing my light escape.
But those days are done. I belong among the stars.
And so do you. And so do they.
Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness
For generations to come.
No, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning.
Lift off.

Source Link (Harvard)

Bikers Support Abused Children During Courtroom Cases

Bikers Against Child Abuse International (BACA) exists with the intent to create a safer environment for abused children. In the video below, Crime Watch Daily hits the road and meets the BACA crew in Los Angeles as they work with a new member named Mika.

BACA members truly go above and beyond in order to make children more comfortable and supported as they deal with the terrible cards with which they’ve been dealt — which often includes sexual and physical abuse. They’ll do everything from picking kids up from the bus to escorting them to and from school or therapy sessions. The children have these rough-and-tumble men playing with Barbies and painting butterflies on their faces.

But what strikes me most is the fact they’ll even attend courtroom cases in which child victims must testify against their abusers. Looking out into the seats and seeing them filled with their strong and powerful leather-clad friends can make a frightened and intimidated child feel much more secure. “The kid looks at us, concentrates on us knows we’re there for them.” Wow. This is absolutely remarkable.

Never judge a book by its cover. Please SHARE this awesome video with your friends on Facebook!

Source (littlethings.com)

There is No Such Thing as Loving Someone Too Much

Reprinted- Source is Lagniappe article:

There is no such thing as loving someone too much” by Ashley Trice

Mothers day

As we near Mother’s Day, I notice many of my friends who lost their mothers too young, as I also did, start reminiscing about them, posting pictures or memories on Facebook, or simply stating the four simple words that pretty much sum it up, “I miss my Momma.”

I imagine it’s tough to lose your mom at any age, but when you are younger and they are no longer characters in major chapters of your life — graduations, career achievements, marriages, babies and the like, you not only grieve for the relationship you had but also the one you didn’t get to have. I find myself grieving for the latter almost as much as the former, maybe even more so these days.

The imagination can be a terrible curse.

This time of year, I always think about the beach trips we would have taken together with the kids. She would have bought them new bathing suits and sunglasses for the occasion and taken them to Souvenir City to pick out some beach toys. And reminded me to reapply sunscreen too many times. I’ve already done it, Mom!

Around Christmas, I always imagine my mom picking me and the kiddos up, and us going out shopping together all day, which kind of sounds horrible in a way, as I’m sure my two would complain nonstop. But I just remember so many years of spending hours in Gayfer’s and McRae’s with my mom and grandmother buying gifts for everyone on their lists. I can still smell how that bakery at the back of Gayfer’s smelled as soon as you opened the doors. It’s an experience I always long for around the holidays, but one that is probably better left playing out in my mind as a fantasy, a place where my kids are perfect angels and aren’t wailing about having to walk or asking if they can play with their iPads ad nauseam.

The imagination can be a beautiful blessing too.

But I find myself feeling very envious when I see other people getting to live out these seemingly mundane scenarios with their mothers and kids in real life.

Because it really isn’t during those huge, life-changing moments that you miss them the most. The joy, nerves and adrenaline keep your mind pleasantly preoccupied during those times. Sure, you think about the person who isn’t and should be there, but you don’t have time to wallow in it. It’s when things get quiet — that’s when the thoughts of what was and what could have been come creeping into your thoughts.

You can go weeks or even months and be OK, but then something will trigger it. And those triggers can come from a variety of sources at any time.

Coming across her handwriting on an old recipe or a show she used to watch on television (and then realizing the ones remaining are getting fewer and fewer), or just aching for the ability to pick up the phone to call your mom when you want to ask a question only she could answer or are having a bad day or when you want to complain about someone or just need a sounding board. Or just to hear her voice.

Seeing someone else lose their mom at a young age also makes the hurt fresh again because you know exactly the loss they are going to continue to feel for the rest of their lives.

A former roommate was close to her mom, like I was to mine. We lived together when we were in our mid-20s and we would often complain to each other sitting on the balcony of our apartment that our moms “loved us too much.” That their love was “suffocating.”

And they did, and it was.

And now I think we both agree how crazy we were for thinking that was a bad thing or even actually a “thing” at all. We were among the lucky, who got to feel that kind of love and have special bonds with our mothers.

It’s been eight years since I lost my mom. She lost hers a couple of years ago and is now about to have her first baby. And I know while she is about to experience the greatest joy she has ever felt, she is going to experience the same kind of grief I have over the years by not having her mother by her side to go absolutely nuts with her over her precious baby girl.

We have talked about this and she knows how bittersweet it is going to be. I have told her the only way I feel like I can keep my mother’s presence in my children’s lives is just to love them as she loved me.

I can still remember running into my mom’s room when I was 4 or 5 and snuggling with her on Saturday mornings. I can literally still physically feel what that felt like. She held me so tightly and told me how much she loved me and how I was the best thing that ever happened to her over and over again. Words she would continue to repeat until she was no longer able to speak.

And when I am feeling really down, I can easily go back to that place and it is a place of great comfort for me. I don’t even know if that makes sense to anyone or maybe it sounds crazy, but I just think when you love someone, you do so with all of your senses — the taste and smells that remind you of them, the sound of their voice, the sight of their face in a favorite photograph and remembering the touch of their embrace.

Parenting books be damned! I don’t care if my kids run into my bed at midnight or 7 a.m., they can stay there as long as they want and they are going to get hugged to death and told how much they are loved until they are tired of hearing it. I know the sound of their little feet running down our hallway is going to end sooner rather than later, and we are going to miss it so. We are getting all the snuggling we can get while the snuggling’s good.

And if I do half the job my mother did, they will feel “suffocated” by this love at the right times in their lives. But then, when they are out on their own in this big, scary — and often cruel — world, they will be able to rely on it when they need it, just as I always have, whether I am here with them in body or just in spirit.

Thanks, Mom, for loving me too much. I miss you…


Critical Thinkers

college education

Taking Back Mother’s Day

Do you know about the Compassion Collective?   It’s an organization that is dedicated to feeding, clothing, sheltering and saving refugee and homeless children in Europe and the US.

There is a story the world has told you about Mother’s Day. It goes like this: Mother’s Day is about a certain kind of love. A love that is pink and fluffy and soft and can be bought at the store.

We have a truer, more exciting story to tell you. It goes like this:

Mother’s Day IS about Love. But it’s not about commercial, comfortable love that snuggles up and stays home—it’s about love that throws open the door and marches out of our homes, beyond our fences and neighborhoods and into the hurting world to feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the hurting, mother the motherless. Mother’s Day love is dangerous, revolutionary love that unites our one human family and reminds us that we belong to each other and that there is no such thing as other people’s children.

Mother’s Day was not created by Hallmark, but by a revolutionary warrior for peace. Julia Ward Howe — abolitionist, activist and poet — was the founder of the original Mother’s Day Proclamation in 1870. Tired of war, tired of tribalism being valued above the lives of the vulnerable, her pain became her mission. She called out for revolution.

She called the day of the revolution: MOTHER’S DAY.   

Source (thecompassioncollective.org)


Catch Blessings


Our Blogiversary

Knitting Rays of Hope started in 2012 and we have come a long way in these 4 years.


To date, we have given out 3,388 hats to our local oncology centers and NICU’s.  We are extremely proud and so grateful for you, our friends, our community.  Without you, we definitely would not still be here.  We want to take a moment to thank all of the great people who donate hats to us so that we can spread love and hope!

Thank you!

Nature is speaking-

Nature doesn’t need people.                                                                People need nature.

Nature Is Speaking is Conservation International’s invitation to the human race to listen to nature.

Nature is essential to every aspect of human life and well-being — we want to make sure it’s included in the conversation. People are taking more from nature than it has to give, and as a result, we’re putting our own lives on the line.

Nature’s message to humanity is simple: Nature doesn’t need people. People need nature.

(From Conservation.org)

What Akon is Doing in Africa Will Change the Lives of 600 Million People

 Source: What Akon is Doing in Africa Will Change the Lives of 600 Million People

One musician is focusing on the monumental task of providing electricity to 600 million African people that live in remote villages. Spoiler alert: it’s not Bono.

With all of the negative things going on in the world, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of just focusing on the bad. In fact, the media is famous for inspiring those kinds of attitudes. Fear and hysteria get ratings, it is as simple as that. Well, I’m making a conscious decision to focus on the awesome things that people are doing for each other. Like the lady that bought an entire toy store in New York to donate the contents to homeless shelters. Or Mark Zuckerberg pledging his $45 billion dollar Facebook fortune to charities. There are good people in this world but, unfortunately, their stories aren’t as good at selling newspapers and grabbing viewers as the stories of the bad people.
Buy an “Intelligence is sexy” t-shirt!

One such person that is doing amazing things is R&B singer, Akon. Through his foundation, Akon Lighting Africa (ALA), the musician is aiming to provide power to 600 million Africans in rural areas that need it the most. For most of us, we can’t imagine a world where there is no such thing as something as basic as a light switch. In these villages, the production revolves around daylight. Akon Lighting Africa’s website points out,

In far too many parts of Africa, night-time economic activities are practically non-existent. Women cannot make productive use of their time to carry out the most basic household tasks. Children who help the women cannot study at night without proper light and complete their homework by candle light, an additional expense for parents. Moreover, without access to electricity, over 3.5 million Africans die every year from harmful pollutants or fires in the home produced by costly and toxic solid fuels.

To date, ALA has provided solar street lamps, micro-generators, charging stations, and home kits in over 11 countries. They’ve done this through a $1 billion dollar line of credit that’s been established by a Chinese solar systems company. In addition to providing the equipment, ALA has established the Solar Academy that teaches people how to install and maintain the solar systems. According to Akon, “We want to empower the people to develop their own opportunities, [but] before you empower people you have to educate them. So we developed the university, which focuses on solar energy delivery and maintenance, so they can [eventually] invent technology of their own.”

The following video from ALA details the program and shows reactions from the very people whose lives have been changed. The world needs more Akons.