Use your words please

By Maren Day Woods

My plan for this week was to write a light-hearted blog post. But, every time I planned to sit down to write it, the image of the Syrian father holding his dying twins in his arms gave me pause. His children were victims of another chemical weapons attack perpetrated by their own government.

The pain of losing a child is beyond my comprehension. But, the thought of your child’s life ending due to the senseless violence of a war would be even harder to survive. War has become far too common in the human experience. I don’t want to become numb to war, complacent because it’s happening somewhere else in the world. We’re all interconnected. As mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles and aunts, we understand what those relationships mean to us.

When children are suffering anywhere in the world, isn’t it our responsibility to do what we can to help? Violence begets violence. It’s such a vicious cycle. I realize there are times when military action is a necessary evil. But, when our current administration is dismantling our State Department and is funneling billions of dollars into our military (and using weapons from companies our President is an investor) it’s a red flag that diplomacy is a low priority.

In the last decade (based on data from www.UNICEF.org), war has caused…

the death of 2 million children;

4-5 million children have become disabled;

12 million children have been left homeless;

more than 1 million have become orphaned or separated from their parents;

and 10 million emotionally traumatized;

hundreds of thousands of children under the age of 16 are fighting alongside adult soldiers.

I know this is tough information to hear. But the first step to addressing a problem is awareness.

I wonder how many world leaders would authorize bombs to be dropped if there was even a remote chance that their own children could die as a result of that order. We all know the answer to that question. So, why is it okay to make decisions that cause the death and injury of someone else’s child? We are engaged in military actions far too frequently.  Our intentions may be to destroy enemy property and kill only them, but the result often includes civilian casualties, including children.

So what can we do to help children whose lives are threatened by war?

  1. Pray.
  2. Make a donation to UNICEF. www.UNICEF.org
  3. Stand up and speak out to our Representatives, demanding that the current Administration go to Congress for a vote on any future Military Actions.
  4. Take good care of ourselves, so we can be at our best for our children and family.
  5. Offer support to parents who are struggling to do right by their kids.
  6. Express gratitude for the basics in life that are easy to take for granted. A safe environment to raise our children, food on the table, the opportunity to give our kids an education, a place to live, friends, health and the list goes on.
  7. Learn from the countries that have had success avoiding conflicts by practicing preventative diplomacy.
  8. Support policies that offer equal opportunities for ALL Children.
  9. Promote the use of mediation by Human Rights Organizations.
  10. Support Sanctuary Cities.
  11. Call on our public officials to accept immigrants fleeing from places that are under siege.
  12. Support legislation for common sense gun laws.
  13. Love and appreciate our own kids.

This is something I’d like to do now because today, April 10th is my middlest son Ethan’s 22 birthday! I used a picture of Ethan for this blog that my sister Kat Day-Coen took of him when he was 3 years old. I have always loved this photograph. It’s an expression of determination I’ve seen on his face many times over the years as an athlete, artist, and adventurer. Ethan is a gentle spirit, creative, sensitive and kind. Things have always come easy for him. He loves sports, especially tennis. Raising this human has been a playful pleasure.

The thing you notice first about Ethan is his big brown eyes. The first three years of his life, he was such a little voyeur, quietly watching everything and everyone. He just took life in. It wasn’t until  he turned 3 that he started talking more. And up until recently, he’s always flowed from one activity to next with a sense of ease and confidence.

He has big ideas and dreams but he’s not sure if the path he’s on will get him to where he wants to be fast enough. Just like his mother in that way.  Patience isn’t our strongest attribute. I’m confident though, that no matter what direction he takes, he’ll find his way to success. He has always felt that good luck is a constant in his life.

I’d like to share a story about Ethan and his older brother Harrison as my Life is Funny Truth/Tale or LIFT for this week’s blog.

But first, let me tell you a sweet little memory that just came to mind about Ethan. He was about 10 years old. As a single mom, there were quiet moments that thankfully reassured me that my kids were doing well. This was one such moment. Ethan loved art. He took every art class offered from K – 12.

Even when he was at home, he wanted to create. I recall us sitting at our dining room table. It was raining outside. He was drawing and I was looking through his backpack when I came across a rolled up piece of white construction paper.

I unrolled it. I was pleased to find a colorful landscape featuring a big rose in the center, which almost resembled a heart, with an airplane flying overhead.

I asked, “What’s this?”

He responded, “It’s a painting I did.”

I said, “Ethan, I really like it. Do you have a name for this piece?”

He looked up from his work momentarily and said, “It’s called “Flying over Love.”

It meant so much to me that that was his perspective that it shifted me out of a mild funk I was in. This was not the first time, nor the last time he has gifted me with a fresh way of seeing life. Maybe the next time you step on an airplane you’ll remember that you’re flying over love.

Maybe the next time you step on an airplane you’ll remember that you’re flying over love.

E V E R Y O N E   N E E D S   A  (L I F T)   N O W  &  A G A I N

Life Is Funny Truth/Tale

Imagine two little boys (age 3 and 7), fresh out of the bathtub, sitting across the table from one another in their PJ’s. As they ate what we referred to as their good night sleep snack. They were chatting back and forth as they waited for their papa to come home.

“Hey, guys your dad just called. He’ll be here in a few minutes, I said.”

Ethan happily shouts to Harrison, “I AM his son!”

Harrison responds, “I AM his son!”

Ethan counters back with a shrill scream, “NO, I AM his son!!”

Harrison now leaning over the table to enforce his position to his little brother, shouts, “I AM his son!!”

Ethan rises to his feet and stands on the chair, every muscle in his body contracted to make his point and shrieks, “I AM HIS SON, YOU ARE HIS MOON!!!”

Silence ensues.

Harrison looks at me with a confused expression.

Ethan’s expression was eerily similar to the one in the pic I used for this blog post.

I looked at both of them and then burst out laughing. I can see them so clearly, even though it happened 19 years ago.

Yes, life can be heavy sometimes. But if we make the conscious choice to focus on what’s good about ourselves, others and our circumstances, it can help you find your way out of a funk.

Let’s continue to unite and hold our political leaders to a much higher standard of behavior as our public servants. I think it’s fair to have the same expectations of them as we do of our children.

Let’s demand that our government leaders

…use their words instead of resorting to violence,

…tell the truth as opposed to using alternative facts.

…compromise, because in life, you don’t always get your way.

…have integrity so that their actions are in alignment with their words

…be respectful of others if they want to be respected.

…do not be a bully if you want to have any friends.

…live by the golden rule instead of living by the erroneous belief that those who have the gold should make the rules.

I hope you’ll join me again next week. I plan to keep using my words to make you smile, possibly even laugh and just maybe inspire you to see yourself, others and life in a positive new way (even if for only a few minutes).

Take Care,

Maren