Gems 5.132

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s another light-filled ¤ Gem ¤

5.132

Photo by Tuku, Pixabay.

“Goodness is about character – integrity, honesty, kindness, generosity, moral courage, and the like. More than anything else, it is about how we treat other people.”
— Dennis Prager

I hope we have a wonderful weekend.

♡.

Gems 5.71

Reblogging “I Will Reignite”

It’s Les Misérables week on under1000skies. I recently found the entire book for free online, an unabridged version from 1916.* I did this painting (copied from the famous stage poster) in PSP9 a few years ago.

*Can’t find that link but I did find another from 1887, same translator (Isabel Hapgood), produced on Gutenberg Press.  GP does great work.

les miz

“The image of Cosette used for the iconic logo of the Les Misérables musical is … Dewynters creative director Russ Eglin adopted the art for the 1985 … First poster or playbill from the original 1985 London production…” -Fonts In Use

Meanwhile, this post from yesterday on Niki Flow goes out today to you, my under1000skies readers. If you follow both you’ve already read it.

Featured Image -- 5915

I hope you’re having a beautiful day.  Thank you, with all my heart.
♥. Niki Flow

 

Niki Flow

My new Gravatar icon was inspired by Wayne Dyer (“Love, Period”) and Malukah’s beautiful song Reignite.

“I will never surrender / We’ll free the Earth and sky / Crush my heart into embers / And I will reignite / I will reignite…”

Thank you, dear reader.  Thank you, for all your prayers and good thoughts for my son Benjamin and for our family since the day he disappeared (2 Mar 2016). 

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Gems 4.167

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s another light-filled ¤ Gem ¤

4.167

Photo by Pexels generously shared on Pixabay.  Thank you!

Oak Trees

This quote in today’s Gem is from Nipun’s interview in 2014 on Awakin.org.  If you listen to about one-fourth of the way into the call, Nipun tells a story as told to him about Hurricane Katrina and the oak trees that survived.  They were able to hold on, even the face of that massive storm, because they held onto each other by their roots.  Their roots went deep into the earth and connected there.  Because they held on tight to each other, they survived together.  I created this painting after hearing this story from Nipun personally during our group Laddership call. This is now our @under1000skies Twitter profile photo:

stronger together tree roots laddershipo

Co-Creators

I met Nipun Mehta about four years ago when I signed up to be a volunteer (or as Nipun says, a “co-creator”) on ServiceSpace.org.  I was terrified to be in a new group of people, even online.  Nipun is the same with me as he is with every person he encounters — compassionate, kind and a master listener.   For that first year, especially, Nipun mentored me through emails and answered the many questions I had about service and the gift economy.  Nipun believed in me and liked my writing.  He was patient and totally compassionate about my shyness and fears.  We met face-to-face, in a way, on a video conference call with others in our “Laddership Group.”  To have the high regard of this incredible human being, to get kind notes whenever he was able to write or in an area to respond awakened something in me.  Because it wasn’t just Nipun’s kindness that was changing me.  Everyone I encountered on ServiceSpace.org is exactly like this.  This is why I say on our Twitter page that my teachers and mentors are on ServiceSpace.  In the past ten years especially, I have met some amazing and beautiful people who are now my soulkin.  I’ve written about my fitness-team friends often, but they are among those I’m thinking about too and the beginning of my journey into the light I believe began there.  I learned so much, and when I began to see myself through the eyes of people I admired, I started taking steps away from this lifetime of self-loathing.  The more time I spent in the company of these noble friends, the more light I was able to see in myself and in the way ahead.  Nipun and many others have been the Colonel Pickerings in my life:

My Fair Lady

 

What Love Awakens

It is not unimaginable that revolutionary change makers such as Mahatma Gandhi, Vinoba Bhave and our modern heroes like Nipun Mehta, or any other whom has walked a path of love and devotion for mankind, could awaken something within us.  What awakens, is the call for us to recognize our own innate goodness. The inspiration we feel by these great ones, acts as an open invitation for us to move in a spirit of love, faith and compassion.

Where Do We Find Gandhi Today?

 

under1000skies
☼ A “Giftivism” Initiative ☼
We are photographers,
writers, artists & advocates
serving and connecting
homeless creatives.

Gems 4.161

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s another light-filled ¤ Gem ¤

4.160

Photo “Beach, North Sea” by Kordi Vahle, Pixabay

The quoted verse is from “Being Kind” by Empty Hands Music.

 

Empty Hands

One of the co-creators of Empty Hands Music is Nimo Patel.  I am grateful and honored to count Nimo among our friends. My husband and I got to meet Nimo after his concert in DC a few yeas ago.  So much love. It shines through his words, his smile, his hugs and every note he sings.

Years ago in Los Angeles, Nimo was a successful and wealthy rap artist with record sales and music videos.  Then, everything changed.  In 2014, Nimo gave a TEDTalk about his transformation.  It began with a choice to go from outward seeking to — nothing.

There were three steps and four lessons in this nothing:

Continue reading

Gems 4.113

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s another light-filled ¤ Gem ¤

4.113

under1000skies
☼ A “Giftivism” Initiative ☼
We are photographers,
writers, artists & advocates
serving and connecting
homeless creatives.

Gems 4.88

I hope you’re having a beautiful day. ♡
Here’s another light-filled ¤ Gem ¤

Gems 4.88 under1000skies

from “Being Kind” EmptyHandsMusic.org

 

Tuesday is muse day.  Who inspires you?

Nimo Patel of Empty Hands music has been one of my biggest inspirations.  I met Nimo in DC two years ago. It was one of the happiest days of my life.  Hearing Nimo perform was like being bathed in love, from start to finish, the kind of love that is pure and contagious and literally inspiring — filled with Spirit.

pete seger

Today Empty Hands released a beautiful new video, “We Shall Overcome.”  I hope it unites the entire world in song.  Small acts of kindness really can change the world. I believe that.  Do you?

 

______
. under1000skies
☼ A “Giftivism” Initiative
We are photographers,
writers, artists & advocates
serving and connecting
homeless creatives.

 

 

Social Cleansing of the Homeless

Today we shipped our first artist packs! I’m so excited.  May this be the first step of many in uniting creatives all over the world.

step-one

This is how the idea for under1000skies was born.  This is reposted from my Niki Flow blog, written November 14, 2014.

 

It Begins with Me

An Invitation

homelessness-look-away

Yesterday I found a post from Laurence O’Bryan on Twitter with a link to a blog called, “Social Cleansing of the Homeless,”  by Christopher Taylor.  “Social cleansing” was an unfamiliar phrase, and it made me feel uneasy.  After I read the article, I felt far worse than uneasy. I was horrified.   I “tweeted” in response (writing that still makes me feel silly) and he “tweeted” back.  The result was an invitation to start this blog.

Niki Flow ‏@jazztizz Nov 13
@LPOBryan This is heartbreaking. I was homeless for a short time. Would love a a tweet storm about ideas 4helping w/what we have where we R

Laurence O’Bryan ‏@LPOBryan Nov 14
@jazztizz can you do a blog post and then we spread the word?

Niki Flow ‏@jazztizz Nov 14
@LPOBryan Yes I would be happy to do that. I’ll tag you when it’s finished.

I hope I do this very complex subject justice.


Flourishing Evil

The only thing required for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. 

-Edmund Burke

My environment as a child never lacked any of the basic needs.  We had lean times, but I slept in a bed at night. I was sheltered from weather.  At 14, I ran away and learned a little about what it means to be homeless — but only a little.  I was more uncomfortable than I had ever been in my life, but help was everywhere.  After a week, I returned home.

Twenty or so years later, I learned about homelessness again.  I lived in DV shelters with my son for a short time.  When that was no longer an option, I decided we would go anywhere rather than home, ashamed, to family.  I’ll never forget the night my son and I walked around shops to stay warm in an affluent town near where I worked.  When it got late, my son fell asleep on the bench in the pizzeria, and we stayed until it closed.  When we stood outside that shop, when all the lights in that town dimmed and the merchants went home, I felt utterly terrified.  The deepest part of the night had just begun.

Our story had a happy ending.  I looked at my son’s sleepy face, swallowed my pride and asked for help.  I got it. I was lucky to have a good job, and I soon found a home with rooms to rent.  My housemate was a co-worker, and we became lifelong friends.  I began to make choices toward health.  By the time another 20 or so years passed, I was a different person. I had a new, loving husband and a home of our own.  Our life was full of blessings.


Doing Nothing    

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. Gandhi

I worked in the city, and I could never pass a homeless man or woman without wanting to help. I kept bills and change in my pockets and dropped those in a cup or an outstretched hand as much as I could.  One day a complete stranger stopped me and scolded me for “aiding their addiction.”

“If you give them money, they’ll spend it all on booze or drugs,” he said.  Contempt made his voice sharp, his gestures cutting. I walked away. I couldn’t form any words in the storm of emotions I felt.  That man spoke about homeless people as if they were some sort of sub-species and all exactly the same.  I knew he was as wrong as a person could possibly be, but I allowed his shaming to make me doubt what I knew. As we so often do, I replayed the encounter with the angry stranger over and over in my mind. I did that for years.  I thought of so many things I could have said, with wisdom and articulation, in that moment.

  • How do you know?  Were you ever homeless?
  • Your generalization only displays your ignorance.
  • Enjoying that label?  Good.  Now go back to sleep.
  • Have you ever slept on the ground in the cold, for days at a time? 
  • Do you have any idea how much pain being outside on hard surfaces causes to anyone, even young people, after just a few days?
  • Did it ever occur to you that drinking and drugs is the only way “these” people have to escape pain, to just get through one more day?
  • Do you honestly think these men and women were dropped here from Homeless Planet and are some sort of plague on our world?
  • Don’t you know that everything you have can be taken in a moment? That this could be any one of us?

All that anguish in my thoughts did nothing but ruin my day.  After that encounter, I felt powerless to help, deeply ashamed and uncomfortable by the homeless people around me.  So I did nothing, and pretended not to see. I could pretend all I wanted.   My soul saw and felt everything.


Doing Something

Do what you can with what you have where you are. – Eleanor Roosevelt

Maslow called Eleanor Roosevelt one of the few self-actualized people in history.  When I learned in Psych 101 what that means, I decided I wanted to be self-actualized too.  I could never quite manage the bottom tier of the pyramid, but that didn’t stop me from trying to climb.

I became very sick seven years ago.  I worked on what I could control and on the most urgent needs in my life. Slowly, I returned to health, and from then on I looked at life differently.  Life was far more precious, and small things mattered less.  It was a very slow process with lots of falls.  There was only incremental progress, but it was there.  A year after I got sick, instead of waiting to die, I decided I wanted to live.  A month or so later a teacher appeared.  I found new and beautiful friends, mentors and guides who expected nothing from me but to keep trying, be kind to myself and to pay it forward.

Today my life is full of blessings.  When my sacred self is in the driver’s seat (rather than my ego), I’m truly grateful for it all. I recently watched a beautiful video with Julio Olalla called Amor la Vida (Love Life).  II loved when he spoke about the beloved quote by Socrates, about how the wisest of us know we have no clue.

“The interesting and fascinating thing with having no clue,” he said, laughing, “is then you fall in love with questions.”

That feeling of powerlessness I felt all those years ago persisted throughout my life.  I’m beginning to learn that that feeling of powerlessness is a lie.  I certainly have the power, right now, to help.  I can do “small things with great love.” Learning is a daily privilege, and I am clueless, still.  So, I “fall in love with questions…” and the question today is this:  What can I do where I am with what I have, right now, to help the homeless?  I don’t have answers yet, but I have a few ideas.  I plan to figure it out, then do it.

I cannot look away any more.

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