“Black women, in particular, are generally perceived to be stronger than most other groups. It’s a kind of stereotype that so many of us have bought into. “Never let them see you cry or sweat,” used to be my mantra. Nevermind that I needed to cry, that my heart was about as soft as they come, that my sensitivity was part of who I was authentically and was meant to be gift not the curse I’d made it out to be; that I’d allowed people to tell me it was. Janie, in Zora Neale Hurston’s “Their Eyes Are Watching God” explained it like this: “Black women are the mules of the world.” Mules carry everything on their backs. As much as folks can pile on, a mule will hold it all steady and push that weight along the path. So many of us all too often carry not just our own weights but the weights of others. But because we do so wearing the flyest white coat a la Olivia Pope or huge, albeit fake, smiles, no one believes that we are hurting.”
Mental Health Resources & Advocacy mourns the death of the nine members of Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Our condolences are being sent to their love ones, friends, church family and Charleston, South Carolina.
We welcome guest author Carmel Mawle, Writing for Peace Founder and President. Please read and meditate on her words Our Hearts Cry Out, I am Emmanuel.
I know I wasn’t alone in sobbing at this morning’s news. Yes, it is terrorism. It is clearly a hate crime. But what can be said that hasn’t already been said again and again? Empty words. African Americans can’t worship and pray, swim in a neighborhood pool, play in the park, shop at their local store, or jog or walk or drive down the street without risking their lives. And, it’s no surprise that the killer is another young white male. It has been shown that the concept of “race” is a false construct. Race does not exist, but racism does. The truth is that this country was built on a foundation, not of Christianity, but of white supremacy. The truth is that incomprehensible violence simmers beneath the surface of this white privilege – the militarized police forces, the branches of our corporatized military, our privatized prisons, the NRA – and until we can recognize the monster within us, claim responsibility for all its actions from slavery and genocide and atomic bombs to “stop and search” I’m afraid we will continue to spawn these young white males. Our hearts cry out “I am Emmanuel”; we pray for and grieve with the Charleston victims, and Sandy Hook, and Columbine, and Aurora, and every mass shooting, and we study these killers to learn what thoughts filled their heads, how they spent their time, what they ate, and what meds they took – how they are different from us. If we look honestly at the death and destruction still reaped by an economy built on the military industrial complex of white supremacy and corporate imperialism, then it seems plain to me that these young white males are our logos, our mascots, our brand. How do we change that? How do we end this violence? I believe we first have to own it.
© Carmel Mawle 2015. All Rights Reserved.
What is Grief?
Grief is a strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion for people, regardless of whether their sadness stems from the loss of a loved one, or news of a terminal diagnosis they or someone they love have received.
They might find themselves feeling numb and removed from daily life, unable to carry on with regular duties while saddled with their sense of loss.
Grief is the natural reaction to loss. Grief is both a universal and a personal experience. Individual experiences of grief vary and are influenced by the nature of the loss. Some examples of loss include the death of a loved one, the ending of an important relationship, job loss, loss through theft or the loss of independence through disability.
Experts advise those grieving to realize they can’t control the process and to prepare for varying stages of grief. Understanding why they’re suffering can help, as can talking to others and trying to resolve issues that cause significant emotional pain, such as feeling guilty for a loved one’s death.
Mourning can last for months or years. Generally, pain is tempered as time passes and as the bereaved adapts to life without a loved one, to the news of a terminal diagnosis or to the notion that someone they love may die.
Do not hesitate to consult with a professional trained in grief and bereavement.
Author Lisa Weldon has written an important and inspiring book HandiCAPABLE. HandiCAPABLE’s main character is a five year old little girl named Lola. Lola is wheelchair bound. She was raised by two wise and loving parents, to believe she was capable of doing anything she aspired to. Lola never feels sorry for herself instead she embraces life with joy, childhood wonder and wisdom beyond her years. She plays games with her four sisters and like her siblings does chores. Lola loves everything having to do with the princess theme. She believes herself to be a princess as opposed to being handicapped, and her wheelchair is known by all as the princess mobile.
HandiCAPABLE will resonate with adults as well as young people, it has many important lessons to teach. HandiCAPABLE is sure to inspire confidence, self esteem and an appreciation for each individual’s uniqueness and gifts. Everyone has special talents and gifts to share. Lola has interesting experiences and meets someone who does not share her same confidence and self esteem. You will have to read HandiCAPABLE to learn what and who they are. I enjoyed this book from start to finish, and will undoubtingly revisit its pages and recommend it to others as an important learning tool. Niaren Binford HandiCAPABLE’S illustrator has done a wonderful job of creating beautiful illustrations!
Nearly thirty years ago lead by Cheryl Hudson Willis and her husband JUST US BOOKS, publishers of children’s literature was created. This husband and wife remain on the forefront working to insure publishers publish diverse books for children. Years ago when the Willis’ went to purchase books for their children (now adults) there were none with their children’s image. They set out to create and have successfully changed the old exclusive narrative, into one which is inclusive. Traditional large corporations are getting the message, but there’s a long way to go. HandiCAPABLE is not only a children’s book but an excellent tool for parents, teachers, clergy, and mental health professionals.
According to Kids Health.Org in the article Developing Your Child’s Self Esteem healthy self-esteem is like a child’s armor against the challenges of the world. Kids who know their strengths and weaknesses and feel good about themselves seem to have an easier time handling conflicts and resisting negative pressures. They tend to smile more readily and enjoy life. These kids are realistic and generally optimistic.
In contrast, kids with low self-esteem can find challenges to be sources of major anxiety and frustration. Those who think poorly of themselves have a hard time finding solutions to problems. If given to self-critical thoughts such as “I’m no good” or “I can’t do anything right,” they may become passive, withdrawn, or depressed. Faced with a new challenge, their immediate response might be “I can’t.” What is self esteem?
Self-esteem is similar to self-worth (how much a person values himself or herself). This can change from day to day or from year to year, but overall self-esteem tends to develop from infancy and keep going until we are adults. Self-esteem also can be defined as feeling capable while also feeling loved. A child who is happy with an achievement but does not feel loved may eventually experience low self-esteem. Likewise, a child who feels loved but is hesitant about his or her own abilities can also develop low self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem comes when a good balance is maintained.
Patterns of self-esteem start very early in life. The concept of success following effort and persistence starts early. Once people reach adulthood, it’s harder to make changes to how they see and define themselves.
So, it’s wise to think about developing and promoting self-esteem during childhood. As kids try, fail, try again, fail again, and then finally succeed, they develop ideas about their own capabilities. At the same time, they’re creating a self-concept based on interactions with other people. This is why parental involvement is key to helping kids form accurate, healthy self-perceptions.
Lisa Weldon is an author with vision, creating new paths which are diverse and inclusive. She’s working to change the image of persons who are HandiCAPABLE. I’m looking forward to further Lola adventures and future great books from author Lisa Weldon. Well done! HandiCAPABLE can be purchased at www.Amazon.com.
©Lorraine Currelley 2015. All Rights Reserved.
As Saeed Jones braces for the one-year-anniversary of his mom’s passing–The day before Mother’s Day– he shares a soul stirring lesson about coping with grief.
I was still sitting in the front row, staring at the sunflowers I had picked out for my mother’s coffin, when a man patted my shoulder and said “Ten months.”
I nodded because it was all I was capable of at the moment and he walked off. He had known my mother since she first started practicing Nichiren Buddhism in Memphis in her twenties. He had helped her learn how to chant “nam-myoho-renge-kyo” and was one of the many people who supported her when she first started practicing. Because I, by nature, grasp at signs, it means everything to me that this man was one of the people chanting beside my mother’s hospital bed when a doctor took me into a private room and explained that she was brain dead.
What he meant by “ten months,” is that according to Nichiren Buddhist teachings after our death, we are reincarnated within ten months. My mother would be in this world again, but I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to find her.
Here are the facts: My mother, Carol Sweet-Jones, has been dead for almost a year now. She checked herself into the Emergency Room hours before Mother’s Day after having dinner with my grandmother. She was declared dead on May 12, 2011. Mother’s Day this year falls on May 13.
At some point, each of us – if we haven’t already – will learn how grief can turn holidays against us. The very occasions we once looked forward to become barbed and treacherous. It feels like a betrayal. By now, I’ve made it through the first cycle of my mother’s birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
I went to Memphis in August for her birthday, intending to visit her grave for the first time. I spent most of the trip in my cousin’s bed, sleeping with my eyes open. When I finally visited the grave, all I could think about was how ugly the grass looked. For Thanksgiving, I hosted a grand feast with friends in my apartment in Harlem because the thought of being with my family, but not my mother, was something I refused to make peace with. At Christmas, I watched movies with my friend Syreeta, then went with her to a Trinidadian party in Brooklyn. For New Year’s, I partied all night and cried the morning after. I know, now more than ever, there is no such thing as getting a holiday right. I’m forever grateful to friends and family who have helped me understand that I have the right to assert my need to cope with and honor my mother however I see fit.
AT SOME POINT, EACH OF US WILL LEARN HOW GRIEF CAN TURN HOLIDAYS AGAINST US
Even before her funeral was over, the thought of Mother’s Day – and all the Mother’s Days to come – was enough knock me to the floor. In fact, many a nights in the first few months of her passing did just that. I would stand up and cry until there was nothing to do but lay down and cry. I would wake up with tear streaks on my face and the moment I remembered why, I’d start crying again.
But here is the peace: grief is vast. I thought it would be like a river, powerful but with a clear direction. Instead, though, I’ve found that grief is an ocean. There is hell in grief, to be sure, but there is joy too. Now, though I sometimes cry, I more often feel a sense of awe at the depth of my connection to my mother. Perhaps this wonder is how I know that ten months and more have passed and that my mother, in some form, is back in the world. Awe at the undeniable fact that I will forever be the son of a fiercely beautiful woman. Awe at knowing just how exquisitely she prepared me to live and write my way into this world. And yes, her absence hurts, but her presence – and I feel it more and more each day – her presence moves me forward. Perhaps awe is the best word to describe this aspect of grief given its relation to the word awful.
Queen Elizabeth II has been quoted as saying “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Love, mother love in particular, is not free. In the fifth grade while on a camping trip, I got a letter from my mother that ended by saying “I love you more than the air I breathe. Nam-myoho-renge-kyo.” A love like that is worth an infinite ache.
Read more at EBONY http://www.ebony.com/life/awe-my-first-mothers-day-without-her#ixzz3ZibXO4ze
Burnout has been described as a state of physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion that results from constant or repeated emotional pressure associated with an intense, long-term involvement with people. It is characterized by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness and by a negative view of self and negative attitudes toward work, life and other people. Jenaro, Flores, and Arias (2007)describe burnout as “an answer to chronic labor stress that is composed of negative attitudes and feelings toward coworkers and one’s job role, as well as feelings of emotional exhaustion” (p.80).
Mental Health Resources & Advocacy welcomes Carmel Mawle, Founder and President of Writing for Peace. In her 2015 Writing for Peace Progress Report Carmel Mawle shares Writing for Peace news, introduces new Writing for Peace Adviser Victoria Hanley, shares Victoria Hanley’s writing exercise Peace of Mind and answers the question, “How do you keep from getting burned out?”
Carmel Mawle, Founder and President of Writing for Peace
One of the questions I am most frequently asked by fellow activists is, “How do you keep from getting burned out?” I always struggle a bit with this one. Like many artists I know, I’ve never found a way to face the suffering of the oppressed, the groaning of this beautiful planet earth, without internalizing that pain. As activists, we have different burn-out thresholds, and our resilience may rise or fall depending on health or other stress factors. We do need to make decisions about energy expenditures, and be aware of those times when our reserves are low. But, if you are lucky enough to have an artform in which you can express that awareness, if you can take the pain and suffering of the world and create art with the intention of shaking the imperial foundations and corporate pillars, then you might have already learned one of the hidden joys of artivism – pour your heart and soul in, and it fills you up. Creation heals us and increases our capacity. As Kurt Vonnegut put it, “Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake.”
Writing for Peace was founded on the premise that the very act of writing is transformative. We experience that shift when we read, slipping into a character’s mind, like walking in another man’s moccasins, to think their thoughts, and understand their reasoning. Imagine how exponentially greater the transformative impact when we are creating the story, researching the environmental, familial, or political pressures crushing down on our characters, and imagining our way into their consciousness. This is empathy, the seed of compassion, and the foundation of a more peaceful world.
One of the coolest aspects of Writing for Peace is when we check in with our young writers a year later. We ask them how their writing is coming along, and where they see it going in the future. This year we also thought it would be interesting to ask a more philosophical question: What does “writing for peace” mean to you? The answers are always moving and inspiring. For those of us who need the periodic boost to the energy reservoir, it’s helpful to shift our focus to where something positive is happening. Here are some examples:
Writing for Peace holds a special place in my heart because it’s really the first time I had written a fictional piece that digs so deeply into the struggles and wonders of cultural identity. It gave me the valuable opportunity to think about what peace really means, and how to apply the concept to a cultural perspective. Writing for Peace was truly a catalyst for my passion for writing, and I am honored to have participated in it. One of the best things about it is that it is open to the entire world; anybody can submit a piece of writing, and anybody can be encouraged to explore our world’s cultural diversity. Some of the most inspirational world leaders have all started out writing pamphlets or articles for a certain cause because to them and to me, writing has always had the power to move minds. Writing for Peace can truly make future world leaders.
~ Angela Yoon, Grade 10, Gangnam-gu, Seoul-si, South Korea
The next major phase of my writing came in the form of college essays. I carried the same lessons I learned from Writing for Peace—incorporating personal examples, evoking pathos, and writing with passion—into my college essays. The consummation of my college writing/application process occurred when I was accepted into Cornell University, where I will be writing the next chapter of my life.
~ Ben Gershenfeld, Grade 11, Voorhees, New Jersey, USA
To me, the moment that I was silent with incredulity at the sight of my name on the award-winning essays of Writing for Peace Young Competition, was one of important milestones in my journey to become an international journalist. Writing For peace brings me a great deal of personal experiences and knowledge that at a certain extent dissolves my cultural preconception and at the same time boosts my self-confidence.
~ Yen Nguyen, Grade 10, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
I hope to continue to explore issues of current events and global citizenship through my writing. To me, Writing for Peace is a vessel for empathy between people who have little in common. It strives to break down barriers which we’ve erected over millennia, and I’m thrilled to be a small part of it.
~ Dash Yeatts-Lonske, Grade 10, Rockville, Maryland, USA
In the future, I plan to continue writing and using this art form as a mechanism for spreading messages of peace.
~John Vernaglia, Grade 8, Medford, Massachusetts, USA
When I talk with our readers and advisers, I hear it again and again, “These young writers give me hope.” I feel the same way. How can we not be inspired by young writers who maintain their optimism despite what might be an unprecedented awareness of global crisis? But hope is a two-way street, a reciprocal commodity. While their optimism may give us hope, our faith in these young writers, our commitment to educate, support, and lift them up, also gives them hope. In the words of Cassidy Cole:
Writing for Peace, and all that it stands for, is what this world needs in the light of peace, happiness, equality, and a more desirable place. Just the pure existence of an organization that aims to create compassion and peace through creative writing gives me easeful thoughts for our future. Writing for Peace gives me hope and I am utterly inspired by its vision and what the organization does. This organization is the light of not only what lays on the other side, but the light that guides all us writers there.
~ Cassidy Cole, Grade 8, Denver, Colorado, USA
All of our 2014 winners’ work is featured, along with works from many of our advisers, and other established and emerging artivists, in our “Nature” edition of DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts. This beautiful book will be released a week from this coming Friday, on May 1st. Watch our blog, website, and Facebook page for information on how you can purchase your copy, and support Writing for Peace.
Writing for Peace News
Victoria’s Writing Tips~
Writing for Peace is pleased to introduce our newest adviser, Victoria Hanley. Victoria is an award-winning author, known for her exciting young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as her nonfiction books dedicated to developing the craft of writing. Victoria has offered to provide bi-monthly writing tips for our young writers (and the rest of us). Thank you, and welcome to Writing for Peace, Victoria!
Writing Exercise for Peace of Mind
By Victoria Hanley
No one else will read what you’re about to write. This is because you need to know you can confide in yourself no matter what you have to say.
Write about something that’s troubling you. Let the emotion pour through you, and use your strongest verbs and most illuminating adjectives to describe how you feel and what’s going on. When you’re done, hit the delete key–or if you’ve written on paper, feed the page through a shredder or tear it up.
When at least two hours have passed, write again, and this time write anything that occurs to you that might be able to solve your problem.
Meet Victoria Hanley, Writing for Peace Adviser
By studying fiction, I’ve learned that a good story is built around conflict. However, a good life is built around peace.
~ Victoria Hanley
Victoria Hanley spent years preparing for a writing career by holding as many contrasting jobs as possible, from baking bread to teaching anatomy and hosting radio shows. She’s lived in California, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Oregon, and Colorado, and traveled throughout North America via plane, train, bus, car, and bicycle. Who knew she’d be the author of 7 books published in 12 languages!
Victoria’s novels have won many honors and awards at home and abroad, and inspired two nonfiction writing books: Seize the Story: A Handbook for Teens Who Like to Write, andWild Ink: Success Secrets to Writing and Publishing in the Young Adult Market. She teaches writing at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver and at Northern Colorado Writers in Fort Collins.
Learn more about Victoria’s books, read her blog, download a free chapter of Wild Ink, and watch Victoria in action at www.victoriahanley.com.
Writing for Peace May Day Events
- 2015 DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts “Nature” Edition Book Release! Watch for news of the latest DoveTales, a truly extraordinary and beautiful edition of our annual journal.
- 2015 Young Writer Winners Announcements! Find out what our prestigious judges (Antonya Nelson, Fiction; Steve Almond, Nonfiction; and Stephen Kuusisto, Poetry) have to say about our talented young writers!
Copyright © 2015 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.
Carmel Mawle is the founder of Writing for Peace, and serves as president of the Board of Directors. Carmel Mawle lives in Colorado, where she and her family enjoy hiking in the Rocky Mountain National Park.
Carmel Mawle has an English Literature Degree from the University of Washington, and a varied career that includes piano instruction, as well as operating a martial arts school, teaching women’s self-defense, child safety awareness, and traditional Hayashi-Ha Shito Ryu Karate. She served as executive director of a youth orchestra, and as president of a chamber music organization.
Mawle’s work has appeared in Smokelong Quarterly Review, Contemporary World Literature, SPACES Literary Magazine, and Rocky Mountain Scribe Anthology. Her Pushcart nominated story, The Calisia, is forthcoming in KNOT Literary Magazine.
She is a member of the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop, where she is focusing on completing her first novel.
Links and Posts By Carmel Mawle:
Jamila, a short story featured in Smokelong Quarterly.
Copyright © 2013 Writing for Peace. All rights reserved.