Posts Tagged ‘Gabrielle Giffords’

A Year Later

It has been a year. Gabby Giffords is back in town this weekend for remembrance ceremonies. She is quite the inspiration. I hoped by now to have more than 50 pieces on the Art from the Heart website, artwork devoted to promoting peace and nonviolence. But we don’t.

That’s not going to stop me.

Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see.”

Ben Franklin said, “There never was a good war or a bad peace.

From Publius Syrus: “We should provide in peace what we need in war.”

From Thomas Hardy:” My argument is that War makes rattling good history; but Peace is poor reading.”

From Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.”

Also from Dr. King: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

And from the Arizona Daily Star’s David Fitzsimmons: “We will remember. We will remember the victims of the Safeway horror, the pain, the heroism and the recovery. And we will forget. At election time we will not remember the names of the elected lawmakers who did nothing to close the gun check loopholes in Arizona. We will not remember the names of the lawmakers who did nothing to secure a modern mental health care system for our citizenry. We’ll forget the names of the lawmakers who could have affected positive change but did nothing. But we will remember. We’ll remember to mark our calendars and mourn and move on.”

We can’t continue on this course. I was struck by the number of quotes on peace that also involved being ready for war. That is a blending I do not want to see. I will continue to post about peace and nonviolence. I will continue to make art  that reflects peace. I will continue to call for others to make art that promotes peace and nonviolence. One small beacon.

Sometimes that’s all you can do.


To visit the prospectus, click here.




It’s been an interesting time for reflection this last month, as it’s been an emotional roller coaster of a year. This time last year I was excited because I had decided to retire a year early, in May of 2012. Three semesters left felt do-able. However, I was also still stuck doing lesson plans every Sunday for most of the day. Yet I told myself it was better than the previous year, because I wasn’t spending as much time week nights marking papers, since I had an additional prep period each week.

Then came January 8 and the Tucson shootings. I had almost convinced hubby to go to the Congress on Your Corner, but by the time we were finished with his chiropractic appointment, it was too late to head over. There but for the grace of God…..Like most Tucsonans, we were glued to the television all day, through the NPR reports that Gabrielle Giffords had died to all the aftermath.

By Sunday afternoon I was working on the Art From the Heart website as a way of dealing with this tragedy. To date we’ve had artwork from 14 states, and some amazing artwork it is. President Obama came on Wednesday, and hubby and I sat transfixed in our living room, listening to his speech. On Friday I faced another challenge as a teacher – the Westboro Baptist Church had said it would boycott Christina Taylor-Green’s funeral, and then decided to boycott my high school instead for their ethnic studies program.

Here’s where I realized how much teachers are also first responders. It had been a hellish week, trying to get teenagers to understand what was going on, and how to respond in a nonviolent manner to a group like WBC. You can read about it here, here, here, and here.

Events like this make you really question so much about your life, especially when it appears to you to be a close call. The depression began to sneak up, slowly, and everything at school just became more intense. I began to think about leaving the classroom in May. After all, it had been 40 years. The end of February we attended some meetings with state retirement and made the decision that May 27 would be my last day as a teacher. That made me smile.

March and April are blurs pretty much, just existing and coping with the depression. I was reading on a blog by Dale Anne Potter about how positive she was and how many great things were happening to her. I emailed and got the information about Cocreating Our Reality and practicing the Law of Attraction. On May 1 I was determined to enter my first 100 days of this challenge being positive. You can read about that here. This really was the beginning of the turn-around for me. I finished school grinning from ear to ear during that last month, driving teachers I worked with crazy.

I wrote my Abundance checks with faith that everything would work. And it did. These seven months of retirement have been wonderful. Some health challenges, but hey, who hasn’t? The marbling business has picked up, great things are happening, and I’ve been able to create some new art. Two successful seasons of 100 days and working on the business – doing things – and creating art  that I hadn’t been able to do while teaching full time.

But December was a melancholy month for me, which was a change after the past six months. Some things weren’t right. The vision had gone in one eye, I had started a new set of 100-days, but the motivation wasn’t there. The weight issues got me down almost immediately. In retrospect I think it was the consumerism and blatant conspicuous consumption (yes, I know….redundancy….) that weighed on me. This led to some decisions to go a very different route next year with gifts – making donations in family’s names to nonprofits they support. Giving back, rather than giving to.

Along with that, the continued violence around us….it seemed like no matter where you turned or what you watched, there was violence all around. I can’t watch the news anymore, as I just get too upset. Movies and television shows are full of gratuitous violence. People are unkind, peace seems so far away, and our politicians – and those who are supposed to lead us – aren’t doing their jobs. I find everything about this country – and the world – to be so topsy-turvy. Nothing is right, we can’t seem to learn from our mistakes, and our country is lost in its original path. Part of me wishes to withdraw completely, and the other part of me wants to make the changes. I look ahead and see no hope…and 10 months of a VERY LONG election season.

So now it’s New Year’s Eve. I need to look ahead, as we are having some great things happen for us. We are making fabric like crazy, heading for an overnight at a king suite in a local hotel so we can do planning for the first quarter of 2012. Tutoring clients are coming in, finances seem to be assured, and we’re both feeling positive. I know there will be decisions ahead, as I think 2012 is going to be a pivotal year. But right now all I can do is all I can do.

Here’s wishing you and yours peace, happiness, and prosperity for this coming year – and whatever else you would like. Life is good, and we need to embrace it!

The Events in Tucson….

The cosmos is seriously out of whack and crying today.

I got home from school on Friday and sat down to read my email and Facebook, the daily practice in this computer age. I had an email from Gabrielle Giffords inviting me to an even called Congress on Your Corner. During this past election season I had helped walk the streets for our Democratic candidates, especially a new School Superintendent, passing out literature for Gabby, as she’s known to supporters here. I looked at this email, and the political science person in me said, cool. This is the way we are supposed to meet and talk to our congress-persons.

I contemplated getting hubby to go over, as I would like to meet Gabrielle Giffords some day. I wanted to tell her to hold strong against the rhetoric that is coming from the new Congress and for her to continue to represent us as best as she could, while maintaining her values. I also wanted to tell her I was disappointed that some of her ads in the last campaign were objectionable. I wanted her to be above the mud-slinging, but I recognize the inevitability of having to counter her opponent. Still, the idealistic part of me that worships this flag and Constitution want our public servants to be that and not politicians.

The time frame of the event just wasn’t going to work for us. Doctor appointment in the morning, weekend errands to run, and the event was on the other side of the city. We got home for lunch and checked Facebook to find Tucson was now right up there with Columbine, Ft. Hood, Oklahoma City and Dallas. We were glued to the television set for the rest of the day. Friends from Vermont who know me and know I do tend to be politically active called to make sure I hadn’t gone grocery shopping. Ironically when we moved to Tucson, that had been our grocery, we had banked there, and now one of our favorite restaurants, Beyond Bread, had opened up on that corner. We wondered how they would handle the increase in traffic.

The social media aspect was very evident to me. I was watching the news channels, and two hours after the shooting there didn’t seem to be enough information. I was hungry for more. What was her condition? Who was the shooter? Who else was hurt? I even turned to Fox News to see what I could hear. And then I remembered I was on Twitter, although not regularly.

Twitter was certainly active. To my amazement I saw how quickly news could travel. I read that Gabrielle Giffords had died, and I felt a punch to the stomach. Why did this keep  happening in this country? Then I read about Sarah Palin’s “gun sights” on her webpage that had suddenly disappeared from cyberspace. I posted on Facebook that there had been tweets she had died. I was frustrated with the local stations for not confirming, for not giving us more information.After all, it had been on Twitter…how could we not know? Then I stopped reading Twitter, concentrated on Facebook, and channel-surfed for information.

The difference between now and 1963 with the media is dramatic. Then we waited patiently for news. We were glued to our TV sets as long as possible. It was the first assassination to be televised. We as a nation were stunned, regardless of our political leanings. Then when Jack Ruby was murdered live before our eyes, we wondered what else could possibly happen to us as a nation. Now we watch scenes over and over, becoming immune to the shock visually, but still heart-stunned.

All this time I’m thinking, this was only a matter of time before some nutcase pulled a gun and started firing. I hoped whomever it was wasn’t Hispanic. That would have been the match to the fuse here in Tucson. I must congratulate the news outlets here in Tucson. As much as I was frustrated, they held the course, let us know only when things were confirmed, kept their cool, no rhetoric beyond their own sadness. They cautioned us to listen closely for confirmed reports. NRP had to retract that Giffords was dead. The news conference at the hospital gave us hope, and at the same time sucker-punched us again when we heard a nine-year-old girl had died.

All of this is inexcusable, but that was a very cruel joke. Then later in the evening we learn Christine-Taylor Green was a 9/11 baby, interested in politics, and had just been elected to her student council. She was there with a neighbor to meet the Congresswoman. At times like this you wonder about God.

One of our most respected judges in this crazy state died. Judge Roll went to mass as he usually did and then decided to stop by to say hi to his friend the Congresswoman. At times like this you wonder about God.

An up-and-coming congressional aide trying to bring democracy to the streets and people of Tucson was doing his job and was gunned down. He was 30. At times like this you wonder about God.

Three others are dead, names and no background. Six are still injured. Who are they, what about their lives? And what about the “second gunman,” another person of interest? Is he a second gunman? Was he the mastermind? So many questions and no answers….

Tomorrow will be an interesting day at my high school, the flash-point for an Arizona state bill on ethnic studies, targeting a program at my specific high school. How will the students react to all this? I know many will say “let’s just shoot the bastard.” And it will be up to me and the other educators to convince them that violence doesn’t solve anything – to students who already live with violence in their lives as they cope with an inner city environment. It will be up to me to get them to listen to facts before they make judgments, to try and listen to all sides before they jump to conclusions. It will be up to me to convince them that they really do need algebra in their lives, in the midst of all this tragedy.

And it will be up to me to show them sadness and coping. That I can cry, not because I knew them, but because this hurts us all. Not because I dislike what is happening to the United States, but because I know the amazing potential that we can be if we work at it together, unified in heart and soul.

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