One Voice Day

As I moved through my day today, open to where inspiration would lead, the thoughts that kept coming to me centered around using my voice. That is a big area for me, one that I have shifted in. I spent much of my life not using my voice. I often remained silent, even when I had something of value to add to a conversation. I remained silent rather than risk a confrontation or getting into a disagreement with someone. My silence was understood by others to be agreement. It usually wasn't, but I lacked the courage to say otherwise.

I have learned to use my voice more and more the last 10 years. I have discovered that I can speak from my heart and not get into disagreements or confrontations. I've also learned that it is okay if people don't agree with me or I with them. I am not using my voice to berate someone or force them into agreement. I am simply speaking my truth and sharing hope and encouragement where I can. I am still in the process of learning to speak up, rather than choosing to remain silent, when others need a voice to speak for them.

These thoughts swirled in my mind today. I seemed to be on the correct path for me as confirmation came in from several sources, all about using one's voice. Following an intuitive nudge, I checked today's unique holidays. Today is One Voice Day.

Established in 1997, One Voice Day encourages people around the world to use their voices to speak peace into the world, by reading aloud a Universal Peace Covenant.

What a powerful way to use my voice today. I selected my backyard garden, which is my place of peace, to read the covenant. Using my voice, I read aloud.

Universal Peace Covenant

Peace is the breath of our spirit.

It wells up from within the depths of our being to refresh, to heal, to inspire.

Peace is our birthright.

Its eternal presence exists within us as a memory of where we have come from and as a vision of where we yearn to go.

Our world is in the midst of change.
For millennia, we have contemplated, reasoned, and practiced the idea of peace. Yet the capacity to sustain peace eludes us. To transcend the limits of our own thinking we must acknowledge that peace is more than the cessation of conflict. For peace to move across the face of the earth we must realize, as the great philosophers and leaders before us, that all people desire peace. We hereby acknowledge this truth that is universal. Now humanity must desire those things that make for peace.

We affirm that peace is an idea whose time has come. We call upon humanity to stand united, responding to the need for peace. We call upon each individual to create and foster a personal vision for peace. We call upon each family to generate and nurture peace within the home. We call upon each nation to encourage and support peace among its citizens. We call upon each leader, be they in the private home, house of worship or place of labor, to be a living example of peace for only in this way can we expect peace to move across the face of the earth.

World Peace begins within ourselves. Arising from the spirit peace seeks expression through the mind, heart, and body of each individual. Government and laws cannot heal the heart. We must transcend whatever separates us. Through giving love and respect, dignity and comfort, we come to know peace. We learn to love our neighbors as we love ourselves bringing peace into the world. We hereby commit ourselves to this noble endeavor.

Peace is first a state of mind. Peace affords the greatest opportunity for growth and learning which leads to personal happiness. Self-direction promotes inner peace and therefore leads to outer peace. We vow to heal ourselves through forgiveness, gratitude, and prayer. We commit to causing each and every day to be a fulfillment of our potential, both human and divine.

Peace is active, the motion of silence, of faith, of accord, of service. It is not made in documents but in the minds and hearts of men and women. Peace is built through communication. The open exchange of ideas is necessary for discovery, for well-being, for growth, for progress whether within one person or among many. We vow to speak with sagacity, listen with equanimity, both free of prejudice, thus we will come to know that peace is liberty in tranquility.

Peace is achieved by those who fulfill their part of a greater plan. Peace and security are attained by those societies where the individuals work closely to serve the common good of the whole. Peaceful coexistence between nations is the reflection of man’s inner tranquility magnified. Enlightened service to our fellowman brings peace to the one serving, and to the one receiving. We vow to live in peace by embracing truths that apply to us all.

Living peaceably begins by thinking peacefully.
We stand on the threshold of peace-filled understanding. We come together, all of humanity, young and old of all cultures from all nations. We vow to stand together as citizens of the Earth knowing that every question has an answer, every issue a resolution. As we stand, united in common purpose, we hereby commit ourselves in thought and action so we might know the power of peace in our lifetimes.

Peace be with us all ways. May Peace Prevail On Earth.

I read through the words slowly, and with my heart fully engaged. Tears came to my eyes. I appreciated the truth of the words, that peace begins with me. It moves from my heart, my mind, and my soul, outward. I cannot offer peace to the world if I do not live in peace myself. Before the world can know it, my corner of the world must.

I am grateful for the opportunity that presented itself today, reminding me how importance my voice is. And when my voice joins with the voices of many others, then peace is spoken around the world. I felt so inspired by the covenant that I sent it to my grandson Dayan, who at 18 years of age is already using his voice to bring change into his world and then the world beyond. He too read the words of peace. I knew he would.

Using my voice today, combining it with others using theirs, has inspired deeper thought about ways I can surround myself with peace and offer it to the world. I will do a follow up post soon, with a list of peace inducing activities.

Malala Yousafzai wrote, "When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful." I am beyond being silent. My voice can make a difference. May I speak peace and hope and love into the world, and may I speak truth.

Journey 208: Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Today was day three spent with Greg’s dad, Bob, in the hospital. Greg arrived at the hospital early this morning. After taking care of business in Joplin, I too arrived to find Bob having a very rough day. 

His enzyme levels show that his heart is stabilizing  and that damage isn’t continuing. The next few days will show the extent of that damage. But he said he felt horrible and strange, the worst he had ever felt, and this is a man who survived two plane crashes! He was fretful and sad and he has not been able to sleep. 

Greg’s presence soothes him. Yet it is so difficult to sleep in the hospital during the day, with the busyness outside the door and the frequent checking of vitals. I love the quote that talks about not being pulled into other people’s storms, but pulling them into your peace. Greg and I had opportunity to practice this today, patiently answering Bob’s questions, assuring him he is not a burden, which is his greatest concern, holding his hand.  

When he felt so strange, heavy and hurting, and was hyperventilating, we turned down the lights, shut out the noise by closing the door, and laid our hands on him. Greg cradled a foot while I held his hand and arm with both my hands, cupping them lightly. I opened my heart and asked God to pour His Peace, His Light, through me, down my arms and through my hands, into Bob’s body. I grew hot, my hands became hot. The trembling body of this sweet man grew still. His breathing slowed to match mine, match Greg’s. And at last, his eyes closed. 

It was a beautiful moment. A time of navigating this difficult time with peace and quiet joy. I wish I could say Bob slept like a baby for hours. He did not. Noise in the hallway made him stir. This continues to be unknown territory for Bob, for Greg, for me. We will walk with this dear man, until the day comes that his path strikes off in a different direction. That was not this day. 

Greg stayed with his dad at the hospital tonight. He is learning new levels of caring for his father, with patience and acceptance and love. I came back to Joplin. There was just enough daylight left for me to walk in my garden. The air was hot and humid, but peace continued to surround me, and the stillness within me was echoed without. 

I bought two new chairs for the meditation area of my garden last week. Tonight I finally unstacked  them and removed tags and carried them into the garden. I love how they look there. For a few moments I sat in that sacred space and allowed all the events of the day to rise and pass through my heart. This journey with Bob isn’t easy, especially for him and for Greg. Yet it is the journey we are on right now and journey well we will. Peace and love will guide us. 


Journey 81: Sunday Peace

sunday peace door

On this gorgeous spring day peace, at a soul level, was the theme. I spent part of the day with my mom and sisters, chatting and visiting a local flea market. I just browsed today, not finding anything that caught my heart strongly.

Returning home mid-afternoon, I discovered Greg had been at work on the green door that slides open, allowing passage into the backyard garden. I call this garden gate my Peace Door, for my desire is that all who enter through that door will experience peace and joy as they are surrounded by beauty and whimsy. Greg had a sign made that he attached to the door today: “Peace to all who enter in”. I am so thrilled! I have looked and looked for such a sign to greet visitors to the garden. He had the sign custom made to fit over one of the frosted window panes. It looks amazing and peace floods my soul just reading the blessing.

sunday peace sign

The warm temps and bright sunshine called to me and I remained in the garden, pulling a few early weeds, tidying up beds, inspecting for signs of awakening. I found them. To my delight, signs of life were everywhere in the garden. Green shoots are pushing up through the ground. The ornamental grasses have slender bright green stalks appearing. And the young lemon balm leaves released their citrusy scent as my fingers brushed against them.

sunday peace day lilies

sunday peace german chives

I recently purchased anti-gravity chairs for the brick patio. Last year I searched for them as end of the season clearance items, but orange chairs were all I could find. I passed. Last week, I found the chairs in a light brown color and for $20 less than the clearance chairs! I have been anticipating reclining back in the garden, soaking up sunshine. This afternoon, I did just that. With a garden hat shielding my eyes, I sank back with a deep sigh of contentment, eyes closed, listening to the twittering of birds. The drone of city traffic slipped further and further away and peace settled over me like a bright billowy cloud. What bliss. I foresee many happy and relaxing moments ahead, enjoying the comfort of those chairs.

sunday peace anti gravity chair

sunday peace anti gravity chair 2

I am grateful for Greg’s gift. He not only had a sign made that expressed my desire for the backyard garden, my own Rivendell, but he also spent his afternoon installing it and then checking and maintaining my Peace Door. There truly is a peace that passes all understanding. I choose to experience that peace, no matter what else is going on. I choose to offer that peace, to all I encounter and especially to those who spend time in my garden. “Don’t let people pull you into their storms. Pull them into your peace.” says Kimberly Jones. Join me in my peace. Join me in my garden.

sunday peace

Day 209: Stroll Through the Butterfly Garden & Overlook in the Evening

Butterfly garden at evening e

I have intended to do this first for a couple of months now. The Butterfly Garden & Overlook, located in Cunningham Park at 26th and Maiden Lane, was dedicated and officially opened on May 22 of this year. I was there for that moving ceremony, along with my grandson Dayan and my sister Linda, and hundreds of others from the Joplin and Springfield areas. It was wonderful to hear the speeches and see so many turn up for the dedication. After the ceremony, I moved through the structures quickly, not able to see many of the features due to the crowd. That was okay. I planned, in the near future, to visit again and look at everything and spend time in that serene, beautiful space.

Two plus months later, the time for that visit arrived. Tonight, for my first, I visited the Butterfly Garden & Overlook, just after sunset, and spent time there soaking up the peace. I wasn’t sure how lighted the garden would be and if it was even possible to be there after dark. While the lighting was not overly bright, it was well lit enough to walk the pathways. The lower lighting contributed to the calming, restorative atmosphere of the space.

Butterfly garden at eveing fountain e

I enjoyed wandering around. There were four youth in the structures when I arrived but they moved on into the park, leaving tranquility behind. Greg, who had not seen the Butterfly Garden & Overlook, accompanied me and strolled around on his own, reading the plaques and trying out one of the benches. I was moved, as I was the day of the dedication, by the simple yet powerful design of the outline houses. Looking over toward where St. John’s Hospital used to stand, I remembered all that had changed in this area. Grief and disbelief welled up and I didn’t try to staunch those feelings. Tonight, I let them rise and flow outward from my chest area. I breathed in deeply and slowly released the air and the energy swirling around my heart. The sound resembled a sigh.

For the first time this evening, I sat on the bench with the journal beneath it. I held the journal, which was full, stories and sentiments and drawings on every page. I didn’t try to read the words. I simply held the journal and felt the emotions emanating from it. I let the sound of water from the nearby large fountain soothe me. Healing is taking place in me and in my city. I very rarely hear anymore in my mind, as I am trying to sleep, the sounds of breaking glass and debris hitting the house. However, a part of me acknowledges what happened each day as I live and drive and dine and shop in the tornado zone. I accept it and I release any need to explain what happened or question why. As I sat quietly on the bench, peace flooded through me, and peace filled that sacred place.

As I continued walking through the garden, I stopped to lightly touch a flowering lavender plant. The scent lingered on my fingers and I was refreshed, renewed. As I straightened, my eyes were drawn to a word, carved in bold letters, on the back of the fountain. A spotlight brought the word sharply into focus, a beacon in the darkness. HOPE. Hope for Joplin. Hope for me. Hope for all who live and work and play here. That one word promises so much. I am grateful.

Butterfly garden at evening HOPE e

Day 177: Evening Retreat


This has been a busy week with several long days of work and a day spent at the hospital while my stepdad had a lengthy and risky surgery. Thankfully, he is recovering well. And it’s also been an interesting week of firsts, as almost every day has seen a shift away from the planned first and the arrival of something unexpected. Today, in between showing property to great clients, I drove my grandson, Dayan, to a dental appointment and then to a friend’s house.  We were discussing my busyness and how my firsts had all changed this week. He asked what my first for today was, and I answered that I had not decided yet. “Yaya” he said, “It’s 1:30. You should know what your first is!” I love this young man and how he holds me accountable!

And then this clever teen proceeded to come up with my first for today. Dayan suggested that I have a quiet, peaceful time in my garden. That alone would not be a first, as I have spent many peaceful evenings in the garden. However, Dayan added that to lie down and gaze into the sky, while doing nothing else, would be a first.  What a lovely idea for a new experience. As I finished another longish day, I decided Dayan’s suggestion was perfect.

As the sun began to set, I gathered a variety of candles and placed them on the brick patio, near my metal containers full of sweetly scented petunias and blooming lavender. I lit candles in the meditation area and also in the Japanese garden and hosta garden. I started a small fire in the fire pit. And lastly, I placed a thick quilted throw, in shades of cream, yellow and blue, on the brick patio and added a couple of plump throw pillows. My beautiful, serene retreat area was ready.


A cool, fresh breeze stirred around me as I settled onto the quilt. The warmth of the bricks radiated upward through the quilt in gentle waves, making the space surprising cozy and comfortable. I stretched out and inhaled deeply, enjoying the scent of the nearby flowers and herbs, and felt tension and fatigue leave my body as I exhaled. Bliss. The fire crackled and the candles, deep within their glass containers, cast a warm glow. Overhead, the sky turned a dark velvety blue and the first stars and Mars, the red planet, appeared. As I did when I was a child, I made a wish on the first star I saw.

Starlight twinkled above and below, flitting about the backyard, fireflies answered with twinkles of their own. I spent a very peaceful hour enjoying this sanctuary and allowing the busyness of the past two days to slip away. Before I put my things away, I sat on the quilt and held a few yoga poses, stretching, breathing, opening. Resting there a moment more, several other possible firsts came to mind that would allow me to enjoy the backyard further.

I am very grateful to Dayan for suggesting this restorative first. How important it is to my soul to seek solitude and quiet my mind so my spirit can soar. Mark Buchanan says, “Most of the things we need, to be most fully alive, never come in busyness. They grow in rest.” I agree, wholeheartedly.