Tag Archives: peace

Groovy Anyone?

Until last night, I’ve always had a very limited picture of the 1960s in my head. I was born in 1967, so I really don’t remember the sixties at all. The images in my head are from home movies and the way things were portrayed in the Kennedy era or through reruns of The Dick Van Dyke Show. The fashion was mod, and I love the retro style that Mary Tyler Moore and Twiggy wore. I didn’t really think of the sixties as the revolution that it really was. I mean, it was more than just a psychedelic fashion — it became a subculture.

PeaceLast night Tom and I watched a program on the hippies of the sixties. A quick history — it all started in the mid-1960s in San Francisco and moved throughout the world in other major cities, like New York and London. The hippies were teenagers who used drugs, especially LSD and weed to attain an altered state of mind. Their philosophy was love, peace and community — basically the idea of creating a socialistic society the way they saw it. They had no authority, no rules and no responsibilities. Imagine that. The hippie movement of the sixties started the sexual revolution with 1967 being called, “the Summer of Love,” where teenagers could basically make love to whomever they wanted without recourse. They were looking for a higher level of spirituality, yet not in religions with morals and values — as those went out the window with their rules. I’m guessing if you’re higher than a kite, you’re finding all kinds of “spirituality.”

Besides peace, love, communal living, and an altered state of mind, part of this subculture was to bring awareness to protecting Mother Earth. I look at the trash the hippies left behind in Golden Gate Park in January of 1967, before “the Summer of Love,” and it sickened me. It was more than piggish — it was disrespectful to the earth. And the same thing for Woodstock that came only a couple of years later. The trash left behind was appalling. And then I remember that it was a movement by a bunch of kids. No authority, no rules and no responsibilities. But I guess it sounded good to say they respected the earth. Oh, and to think of all those thousands of sweating people — half naked and filthy with strong body odor and sewer stench —drinking and doing drugs — the filth and the disease — both Tom and I found it absolutely repulsive.

I can see why my parents didn’t think highly of the hippy generation. And by the way, where were these kids parents?

Was there good that came out of it? I do like the music of the sixties and seventies. I like that it really did influence clothing trends — opening a new world of fashion more than ever. Was that generation really empowered? I’m sure they approached problem-solving very differently after that experience. Could I have sat in Golden Gate park, completely naked, making a spectacle of myself openly on the lawn? Not in a million years. And would I judge this today? I just did.

So let’s flash forward to 2015 — about 50 years after the influence of the sixties. These hippies would now likely be in their 70s — some of them part of the baby boomer generation. It’s amazing to think about the comparison of the hippies and the “millennials” of today. Many of today’s teenagers are anti-social, hiding behind the technology that was the vision of the hippy generation. Many of them don’t communicate and the idea of living in a commune would probably make them more than uncomfortable. Their thoughts and feelings become public knowledge through online news feeds. I guess it’s just a different kind of community. But I do believe many teenagers are more empowered today than they ever were. They’re smarter, sharper — they know what they want out of life — and what they don’t. My nieces are more social than I ever was. And I love that they live by their faith — what strength that is!

The 1960s tested my morals and values above all, which is why I am not a big fan of the sixties subculture for sure. But for me, I’m just looking in from the outside, not have ever been exposed to what the movement really was (or anything even remotely close to it). But with that movement came the belief that maybe things could be looked at differently. What I believe today — to be able to do anything I want if I just have faith and hard work — may not be the case without the sixties revolution. Who knows. I just know if I had the opportunity to experience the sixties in my own life now — or to go back in time — I would politely decline.

Always B E L I E V E !

Finding the Beauty

It snowed this entire week — except for maybe Tuesday! By Friday morning, it was snowing again, and I just couldn’t take it — that little bit of added stress on top of everything else was putting me over the edge! If I could have just went back to bed and got up when the sun came out around 10 am, I would have been much more relaxed! To make matters worse, the morning show guys on my radio were joking that we were getting another 3″ on Friday night. I am now officially over the cold, the gray, the sludge, the slop, the ice, the filth and the salt of this winter!!! 

By the time I got home from work, I decided I needed to readjust my attitude on winter, because we still have at least a month to go, including a trip to Ellicottville, NY next weekend! And for me, the next month at work will be packed full of travel and all kinds of new business initiatives — there just was no room for any added stress. Not to mention my CT scan is due and my doctor’s appointment is coming up — all things that typically add to my stress, even when I pretend otherwise — just know they’re looming puts me on edge!

So I told Tom I wanted to go out and find some beauty in this winter. I know it exists as I daydream of a crackling fireplace in a cabin in the woods, while a thick blanket of snow falls outside — having no place to go and nothing to do. Or thinking of pure peacefulness with only the sound of a stream running through a lush green forest after a fresh snowfall. That’s what we needed to find — it’s what I love about winter.

As luck would have it, we got another two inches of snow on Friday night and woke up to a fresh coating on Saturday. We decided to head out to McConnells Mill State Park to practice what we learned in our digital photography class. The class wrapped up this past Thursday, and we were anxious to start practicing the theory. And surely there we could find some unspoiled beauty with McConnells Mill’s covered bridge, running stream and waterfall. Now, believe it or not, neither of us have ever been to McConnells Mill, even though it’s located just 30 minutes north of where we live. We figured this might be the perfect place to actually see the beauty in this relentless winter!

Now, if any of you know my husband, Tom well, you know that he never heads out anywhere without enough gas in the car. As we passed a little two-pump gas station in Harlansburg, he thought maybe he should have stopped — he only had a quarter of a tank of gas. We continued on, and as we got into the park, the roads were snow covered by a few inches. I was following a map on an App I had downloaded, and when we came to a fork in the road, I told him to go right. That way took us to the covered bridge, and we would have to hike to the waterfall. He made the right turn, and there we were facing a very steep slope over the hillside without any guardrails — and we couldn’t even begin to the see how far down it went. But we didn’t have a choice, there was no way to turn around at this point.

McConnells MillAs we crawled over the hillside, I snapped a couple of photos through the windshield with my iPhone. It got really steep, and I was nervous, telling Tom we should have taken my SUV. Tom agreed, but neither of us knew we would encounter these kinds of slopes! I had no idea how far down it went and was really worried about coming out the other side. Tom stopped in the middle and sighed — he was mumbling something about he wished he would have stopped for gas. We decided to get out of the park and get gas so Tom could relax. If we could make it out.

McConnells MillAs we reach the bottom and started climbing up the other side of the slope, Tom was getting worried that the roads were very snow covered on this side — he hoped it didn’t get much steeper. We came up to a Jeep that had stopped in the middle of the hill between two large rocks — rocks the size of small homes. He was really sweating now that we were going to get stuck on the hill. But we didn’t! This view took my breath away — it was amazing. We made it out of the park ten minutes later, and went back to Rt. 19 where Tom found the nearest gas station and bathroom!

We went back again, knowing we could make it in and out now, and actually parked at the covered bridge. Parking was tight as there were quite a few other people had the same idea as we did. It wasn’t as peaceful as we had hoped — I actually couldn’t believe how many people were out there. I tread through some deep snow banks and took some pictures of the stream. I thought it may actually have a lot of ice, but there was none. There was no where to set up the tripod, so we called it a day.

Yes, we found some gorgeous views and the snow was pretty. But I realized that it wasn’t so much about finding the scenic snowscapes, but finding the peace that came with it. For me, finding the beauty this winter means I need find some time to slow down and unwind.

Here I’ve been looking for some reprieve from this winter, realizing it’s peace I’m seeking, and God has been talking to me all week — in the novena that I’ve been praying to St. Francis of Assisi — who is the perfect example of peace. It’s not finding the beauty with my eyes, but finding the beauty within my heart.

Always B E L I E V E .

In True Olympic Spirit


© Fabio Formaggio | Dreamstime.com

I love the winter Olympics. I am amazed by all of the down-the-mountain snow sports — from the skiing and unbelievable ski jumping to the skeleton, luge and bobsledding. Tom and I watched the Olympic trials for the downhill skiing, and figured that this sport has to be one of the hardest on the body — the jarring across those moguls — this sport begs for a knee and hip replacement before the age of 50. I think all of the snow sports have an added level of difficulty over the summer games. It’s the element of ice, snow and variances in those that are unpredictable and exciting for us!

My Mom and I both watch the figure skating. I feel like I’m less impressed with the athletes the last couple of Olympics than years ago. Maybe that’s because there haven’t been many US figure skaters in the top three in the last 8-12 years. There used to be true greats and entertainers like Scott Hamilton, Brian Boitano, Katharina Witt (she wasn’t even from the US), Nancy Kerrigan, Kristi Yamaguchi and Michelle Kwan. I watched the Olympic trials and World Championships a couple of weeks ago and didn’t recognize anyone but the announcers, nor did I think that too many of the skaters were really that good. We’ll see what Sochi brings for the USA teams!

So I’ll be watching this year! The opening ceremony is Friday, February 7th. I read somewhere where there will be over 1,000 Russian children singing, among all the other entertainment and introduction of the athletes. That should be pretty powerful! The facilities built in Sochi are absolutely gorgeous — my niece, Megan would love the architecture and cool textures and materials used — especially the Bolshoy or ice hockey arena. The TeamUSA apparel has been designed by Ralph Lauren and is over-the-top patriotic. It’s too bad that the athletes and fans can’t wear it outside of the games themselves.

The athletes are leaving their families at home this year. It’s so unfortunate that terrorism in our world has instilled fear at the games. Truthfully, I never heard of Chechen terrorists until the Boston Marathon bombings this past year. And now they’re threatening the Sochi games in a very major way — all in the name of their Allah. I don’t understand how so many Muslims become Jihadists and commit acts of terrorism in the name of their God. How can someone truly believe that it’s God’s desire to kill innocent people and instill fear by committing acts of terrorism where people least suspect it? There will be more than 2,500 athletes from 88 nations at the games this year — athletes that train their entire lives for the chance of a lifetime — to compete in the Olympics. And now this threat looms.

I’m going to focus on all that is good. And if we all focus on what is good and truly believe, we can overcome the evil among us. And I pray that God keeps our athletes, their families, all the visitors to Sochi and the local spectators safe. And for every medal that is won, we’ll cheer for the victories of honest competition and camaraderie. And, we’ll celebrate the coming together of 88 nations in the spirit of peace and harmony — standing side by side with courage — in true Olympic spirit.

So maybe our US athletes can’t sport around Russia in their USA gear, but we can! I think I’ll buy a Ralph Lauren sweater to show support of the USA Olympic Team. Okay, well at those prices, maybe I’ll just find something red, white and blue!

Always B E L I E V E !

St. Francis of Assisi

St_Francis_of_AssisiOn Thursday night, I had planned to go to bed by 11 pm. I was so tired from the exhausting week, and I was looking forward to my White Space Friday — A good night’s sleep is what I really needed. I was still wide awake at 10:45, and as I scrolled through the television channels, I came across a movie on TCM network — St. Francis of Assisi. It had me intrigued, because I had never seen it before, and St. Francis has always been one of my favorite saints — he believed in true peace and loved all animals. When our new Pope took the name of St. Francis, I was overjoyed.

So this movie was made in Italy in 1961. It was quite basic by today’s standards, I watched for a few minutes and figured I’d go to bed. But a half hour later, I was so engrossed in the movie, there would be no going to bed now. It was a very simple view of the life of Francis Bernadone. The story goes that he was born to a wealthy merchant in Assisi, Italy. He left his father to go and fight in the crusades with his friend Count Paolo of Vandria with the dream to become a great knight. While traveling with the soldiers, he was called by God to leave them and give up all his worldly goods and dedicate his life to God. Even though the movie was quite elementary, there were some really beautiful scenes. I especially loved the scene when the two cheetahs were unleashed on him in the desert on his way to see the Muslim sultan. He tamed those cheetahs and by that, gained access and respect from the sultan.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

There was another scene while on his journey with his 11 followers to Rome to see the Pope to establish a new order, when a white bird (which I assume was a dove), landed on St. Francis and was not afraid. He told it to then fly into the sky and the flock of birds led them to Rome. This reminded me of a recent picture I saw being shared on Facebook (to the left) of our new Pope, Pope Francis.

The movie goes through St. Francis’ life in how he rebuilt the church, grew the faith across Europe and taught the message of peace. I found it so relevant to today’s world — it was amazing to realize that the struggle in Jerusalem in the early 13th century were the same battles of today — Muslims against Christians, both fighting for the holy land. There is still no peace, and it has grown into even more violence as we’ve seen in recent years/days with terrorism. It makes me think that we need a man like St. Francis today — with the ability to draw others to him just by his simple faith — but realize that peace seems so unreachable with such extremists and terrorists in this world — the task would be too great for any one person. Or would it, if it was God’s will?

The movie’s basic theme was to give up all possessions and follow God by trusting in him. But, I felt that St. Francis was a very sad and lonely man in the movie. This is the only part that I think was poorly done. I would have thought that he should have been portrayed with such great joy with his amazing faith in God — to listen to his calling and leave all his worldly possessions behind. But instead, they showed him just very drab and unemotional. Not to mention, to gain followers by his simple message would require a very approachable and generous man. There was one scene that I felt he had that warmth and love — the one where the children came to him with all their animals to be blest. There had to be 40 or 50 children, carrying ducks, lambs, dogs, cows and other animals with bows tied around their necks — it was beautiful. But other times and in other scenes, like the one where his aristocrat woman friend became a nun — it was dark, and you felt the great sacrifice she was making by the solemness of the ceremony.

When my brother, Bob was ordained a priest at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh, it was a great day of celebration for us all. Bob was ordained with two other men and this was the first time I had ever been to an ordination. As Bob came down the aisle, tears streaked his face — and I’ll never forget that moment — I truly saw the love he had for God — it was pouring from him as he was filled with so much joy. And that is how I would see St. Francis — someone with much joy to share with his followers.

I think this movie also demonstrates that human nature hasn’t changed since the time of Christ. St. Francis had a lot of resistance from his friends and family on his desire to seek God — and this was a constant struggle throughout the movie. Something that we would all face if we were to take up the cross for Christ.

If you haven’t seen the movie, it worth watching. And if nothing else, it will make you more curious about the life of St. Francis.

Always  B E L I E V E !

Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.