Thursday, August 30, 2007

Compassionate Communication

I just started reading a book titled "Nonviolent Communication A Language of Life" by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD. Nonviolent, or compassionate, communication is a process of relating with greater clarity and understanding based on empathy, deep listening, and honest expression in a way that is most likely to be heard by others.

The basic steps include observing without judging or evaluation, identifying and expressing feelings while taking responsibility for those feelings, looking for the unmet need causing those feelings, and requesting a response which would assist in meeting those needs and enriching life. If we are able to state our observations without judgment, we are more likely not to cause a defensive reaction. If we can then state our feelings while taking full responsibility for them, we are more likely to find compassion. If we can find and express an unmet need, we can have a clearer understanding of our own and other's feelings. And finally, if we can request a response and not make a demand, we are more likely to get a positive result from the communication.

These principals work both when we are expressing ourselves, and when we are listening to others. If someone is speaking to us, we can hear the words without feeling blame, and we can listen for the unmet need.

Marshall Rosenberg's goal is not only to facilitate communication between couples, friends, co-workers, and neighbors, but also to promote conflict resolution and compassionate understanding amongst rival groups. The goal is to develop relationships based on respect, co-operation, and compassion.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Imagine a World....

"Imagine a world where young people from different religious backgrounds come together to create understanding and respect by serving their communities. This is the world we are building"
From Interfaith Youth Core website

I've seen a lot of recent media coverage on the role of religion in influencing politics and the course of world events. The coverage has focused on how religion creates fragmentation, divisiveness, and conflict by promoting a view of cultures different from one's own as "the other".

I was very encouraged to come across the work of Eboo Patel who founded the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC). Their stated vision is to foster religious understanding and co-operation among religiously diverse youth while they serve their communities through various social action projects. Diversity of religion, instead of being a source of conflict and mistrust, becomes an avenue of understanding as young people work together to express their shared values by serving humanity. Their goal is not only to tolerate diversity, but to build positive, enriching, and respectful relationships as they work together to make the world a better place.

IFYC has a fascinating website (Interfaith Youth Core) which has information on their values, goals and methodologies, and how you can get involved. Also, here is an interview with Eboo Patel where he explains some of his background and motivations: Religious Passion, Pluralism, and the Young. If you are in need of a "beacon of hope" after learning about some of our tragic world events, I encourage you to look into it.

Eboo Patel also has a new book about his experiences and the work he is doing titled "Acts of Faith". I can't wait to read it!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

My new favorite online radio station

Around the world through music!

Putumayo World Music Station

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sightseeing and Museum-Hopping in New York City

Today was a hot and muggy day, in the nineties. A great day to browse through a museum and enjoy some of the sights of the city. We took a train to New York City and went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. We had a great Thai dinner in Hell's Kitchen. I got the green curried vegetables, it was so spicy hot but so good! Later on a walk to the Empire State Building.
The Metropolitan
View of the lobby
Ancient sculptures
Beautiful paintings
Fascinating artifacts
When in Rome....
Browsing back through history...

Empire State Building at night

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

A reason to work for a brighter future...

My nephew Scott and his wife Kendllena's beautiful baby Aida

Isn't she gorgeous?!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Appalachian Trail to New Tripoli

Slightly rainy day today for a 3.6 mile hike on the Appalachian trail, but because of the tree cover we didn't feel it. Turned out to be a really quite pleasant afternoon for a hike.

C'mon Stella, pose!!!!

The best we could do. Here I am with our guide dog and protection from bears and other wild animals.

View from the top

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Biking at Sandy Hook National Recreation Area

Today was a beautiful day, temperatures in the seventies and eighties. We biked about eleven miles at the Sandy Hook National Recreation Area.

Oldest continually operating lighthouse in the US, from 1764

View of the Manhattan skyline. Empire State Building slightly visible towards the center of the picture.

Nature trail near the beach

Late afternoon at the beach, view of a bridge to NYC

Friday, August 17, 2007

Get Ready for Blog Action Day October 15, 2007

October 15 is Blog Action Day! Bloggers from around the world will unite to post about one of the most critical issues of our day, the environment. The goal is to get everyone thinking about, questioning, and discussing the environment from as many viewpoints as possible. All you have to do to participate is post something about the environment from your own particular point of view on that day. You can learn more about the initiative and register your blog at

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Blessed Unrest

The latest book I am reading which is inspiring me is "Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming" by Paul Hawken. The book is about the growing environmental and social justice movement which he sees as a diverse collection of human beings who are united by a vision of a hopeful future for our planet. As such, they are acting as a sort of "immune system" to address the ills of an unhealthy society and heal the relationship between humanity and the Earth. Environmentalism and human rights are intrinsically connected because "Life is the most fundamental human right, and all the movements within the movement are dedicated to creating the conditions for life, conditions that include livelihood, food, security, peace, a stable environment, and freedom from external tyranny." (Hawken, page 68).

I'll summarize a few highlights which impacted me. When discussing the history of the movement, Hawken emphasizes that choices have been made at every step of the way which may have seemed insignificant at the time but directly influenced the course of history, for example Rosa Parks refusing to go to the back of the bus. He explains that we face such "forks in the road" every day, and "life is permeated with possibility at every instant. What distinguishes one life from another is intention, the one thing we can control". Also, there are no "inconsequential acts, only consequential inaction". (Hawken, page 84, 85).

Hawken also writes about a clock being developed, the Clock of the Long Now, which will keep accurate time for ten thousand years and chime once a millenium. It symbolizes an optimistic vision for the future, that people will be here ten thousand years from now to hear it chime. "Indeed, it is an attempt to restore human imagination to the very idea of a future". (Hawken, page 154).

So, if we have a belief in the future and we have belief that our intentions can have influence, what can we do? One resource that Paul Hawken and others have developed is Wiser Earth (, an online database designed to serve as a networking forum to connect organizations and individuals "addressing the central issues of our day; climate change, poverty, the environment, peace, water, hunger, social justice, conservation, human rights and more." (quotation from the website). I find it to be a wonderful resource to find opportunities for service and also to contribute one's own ideas.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Grillin' and Chillin'

What a vegetarian eats at a cookout....

The eggplant and red peppers are from the garden.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Hickory Run State Park

Today was one of the most beautiful hiking days all summer. It was sunny and in the eighties. We went to Hickory Run State Park and had some beautiful hikes along lakes, bubbling brooks, tranquil woods full of hemlocks and mountain laurel, and striking vistas. Trails included Gould Trail, Sand Spring Trail, Hickory Run Trail, Shades of Death Trail, and Fireline Trail.

Some Columbine growing along the stream...

Guys will be guys.....

This is serious hiking...

A perfect place to meditate...

A tranquil lake...

Tonight was a beautiful, clear night for stargazing through the telescope. Saw Jupiter in Scorpio and three of its moons. Also saw the striking double star Albireo in Cygnus the Swan. I was able to clearly pick out the orange red and blue white stars. Saw an amazing display of the Perseid meteor shower, I saw about six "shooting stars" cross the sky.

Friday, August 10, 2007

One World, Many Rhythms

This weekend is the final weekend of Musikfest in Bethlehem, PA. The weather has changed a lot! Saw the Craig Thatcher band at Americaplatz and was freezing in the fifty five degree weather, then was overheated in the Festplatz tent watching Lucky Seven with hundreds of people jumping up and down to "Awwwwwww..., Freak Out!" and other Eighties dance tunes. Musikfest has a lot of diversity, there's something for everyone! Also listened to a little bit of Reggae while eating Mexican food at Plaza Tropical. The theme this year has been One World, Many Rhythms. I couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Get ready to wish upon a falling star....

Sunday August 12th is the Perseid Meteor Shower. It should be a spectacular show because the new moon is August 12th, so the skies will be dark.
Here's a link to where to look for the Perseids and what time will be best:

Still more info on how to observe the Perseids:

Sky and Telescope Perseids Info

I have my wishes all ready. What are you wishing for this year?

Nature's Bounty

My first eggplant, and a small portion of the tomatoes which are appearing in droves!!!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Vatican is the first carbon neutral state

The Pope sends a powerful message about environmental sustainability by attempting to become the first carbon neutral state:

Thinking about the blog....

For some time now I've been having a lot of fun posting to this blog. It has primarily been a place for posting vacation pictures, sharing the beautiful places I've hiked to, talking about my activities, keeping in touch with friends and family. So the primary purpose of this blog has become a means of self-expression, hence the title "Let It Shine".

Since blogging has become a growing social force, I thought it might be fun to also think of another purpose for the blog. I'm having a hard time defining it exactly, but I would like it to be about creating a positive future: for ourselves as individuals, for families and communities, and for the planet. Most of the links I have chosen support that purpose. I don't do a lot of important things and I don't have a lot of impact, but I do believe that we can choose the direction of our lives, and "small things lovingly done" (see quote in sidebar) can promote a better future.

My primary interests include promoting and valuing human diversity, appreciating and protecting the earth and its plant and animal inhabitants, individual education and growth, and healthy and happy families and relationships. With that in mind, I will try to add some posts on these topics, and more. I'd love to open up some dialogue, so PLEASE feel free to post comments (it would make me very happy).

I still would like my blog to remain "light and breezy", and I'm still going to put up my hiking photos, but I'm also going to try to move it in a new direction, just a little at a time....

Sunday, August 05, 2007

More Musikfesting in Bethlehem

Had another great day at Musikfest in Bethlehem. Saw Sligo Rags, a Celtic band that was really good, the Santa Cruz River Band (American Southwest), and went to see Eric Steckel again (blues musician). He is really, really good. He played to a packed house (platz?) at Leiderplatz yesterday, and again a big crowd at Americaplatz. Can you believe he is only seventeen years old?? (The Eric Steckel Band)

A moment of serenity in the Tondabayashi Japanese Garden near the library.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Had a great time at Musikfest today. Saw world music, zydeco, folk, rock, country, jazz, and blues, all in one day! Bands included Gary Rissmiller Jazz Orchestra (Big Band), Guy Medilow Band (World Music from Israel, South Africa, Mexico, and Brazil), The Arrogant Worms (Folk Humor), Zydepunks (World, Zydeco, and Punk), Country Music Outlaws, The Eric Steckel Band (Blues, Rock), and Los Straitjackets (Surf, Rock). Wide variety of food to choose from, passed up the Fried Coke (no joke) and had a Portabella Pita instead!

This describes the day perfectly....

Nighttime was beautiful! This is Central Moravian Church.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Can We Dance?

An article in Washington Woman magazine about Susanne Alexander's book about making healthy relationship choices, "Can We Dance?". Also includes a few comments by yours truly...

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