“The miracle of gratitude is that is shifts your perception to such an extent that it changes the world you see.” ~ Robert Holden
A while ago I woke with a moonbeam shining in my eyes. My mind called out: it’s too early to be awake! It’s hardly into the third hour of the day and I’d hoped to wake when the alarm went off at 7am. But the moon had other plans, shining her beaming light across my face, through the small opening in the window covering. After turning and trying to think of sleep, I laid on my back, eyes open, and heard the lines of a poem running through my mind:
“How the heart mingles with the moonlit hour,
As if the starry heavens suffused a power.”
It’s been a while since I’ve thought of this poem and it took time to remember it all. The beginning was eluding me and, having realized sleep was not returning, I tiptoed to my home office hoping for speed on my computer, and sought out the poem. There it was! The stanza that was eluding me:
“And when, oblivious to the world, we stray,
At dead of night, along some noiseless way,”
This poem, Starry Heavens, is one of my all-time favorites. I hadn’t thought about it in a year or so, and am happy to be woken by moonbeams to help me remember it. Memorized poems need to be occasionally dusted off and recited, even if only for our selves. An audience for this hobby of memorizing old-fashioned poetry is yet to be found in my life, so I’m thankful to share it here.
More prose is wandering through my thoughts this early morning… this time by Galileo…
“I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.”
What a beautiful statement, making me think about faith even though the man himself was not known for being pious.
This I learned as I sought more information about a quote I was self-misinformed about, years ago. I was watching a PBS seminar with the always-inspirational Dr. Wayne Dyer, and he shared a quote that had me pause the VCR (like I said, years ago):
“The sun, with all it’s planets revolving around it, can ripen the smallest bunch of grapes as if it had nothing better to do.” ~ “Why then, should I doubt His power?”
I was in my early twenties (a young mom with a VCR) and I wrote down this paraphrased quote and memorized it as I heard it, not realizing I’d misunderstood the pause in Dr. Dyer’s sharing of this powerful quote and I added his own comment to the end of Galileo’s writing. So for years, decades really, I’d memorized this tidbit from Galileo with a Wayne Dyer addition on the end. It is a great quote, and my inadvertent ‘addition’ has brought me great comfort through the years. However I prefer to know the truth, and to know who really said what.
Let’s hear it for research! As I sought info I realized that Galileo was in the ‘other’ camp. I personally enjoy melding science and religion within my own viewpoints and give thanks to live in a time when this is possible but Mr. Galilei did not live in such a time, and his passion for science unfortunately drove a wedge between himself and the primary organized religion of his day. To say he was ‘ahead of his time’ is a gross understatement. [Scroll to the bottom of this post for info on his life.]
Today I woke too early, with a poem about the moon and stars in my mind, and thoughts of Galileo hovering. Then, as I thought of Galileo, I easily recalled a favourite song by The Indigo Girls and have shared it here. As I wrote in a previous post: “It has been suggested that insomnia is linked with creativity.”
This is my ‘share’ today, sent out to any other insomnia wanderers out there, and of course to all my cherished readers whatever time of day you happen to come upon this post. I hope you enjoy and are inspired to relish in every moment of the day that you are alive.
Thank you to YouTube user ‘elmonkey26’ for this excellent video!
Excerpt from GoodReads:
“Galileo Galilei (Feb 5, 1564 – Jan 8, 1642) was a Tuscan (Italian) physicist, mathematician, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the Scientific Revolution. His achievements include improvements to the telescope and consequent astronomical observations, and support for Copernicanism. Galileo has been called the “father of modern observational astronomy”, the “father of modern physics”, the “father of science”, and “the Father of Modern Science.” The motion of uniformly accelerated objects, taught in nearly all high school and introductory college physics courses, was studied by Galileo as the subject of kinematics. His contributions to observational astronomy include the telescopic confirmation of the phases of Venus, the discovery of the four largest satellites of Jupiter, named the Galilean moons in his honour, and the observation and analysis of sunspots. Galileo also worked in applied science and technology, improving compass design. Galileo’s championing of Copernicanism was controversial within his lifetime. The geocentric view had been dominant since the time of Aristotle, and the controversy engendered by Galileo’s presentation of heliocentrism as proven fact resulted in the Catholic Church’s prohibiting its advocacy as empirically proven fact, because it was not empirically proven at the time and was contrary to the literal meaning of Scripture. Galileo was eventually forced to recant his heliocentrism and spent the last years of his life under house arrest on orders of the Roman Inquisition.”
[Images randomly sourced off the internet]
Like so many, I am completely mesmerized by elephants. My blogging friend Sriram Janek captures their essence in his photography with breath-taking talent. I recommend clicking the link to visit his site and join me in being swept away by the power and beauty of these magnificent animals (and others) that he so artistically captures.
Until you visit Sriram’s site for extraordinary ventures through the lens into the world of wild elephants, here’s a collection I’ve gathered from random internet photos. These warm my heart and I hope they will for you too! In marvelling over the wisdom and majesty of elephants we are all connected, no matter how near or far we live from them.
[Images randomly sourced off the internet]
I am offering a loving salute to Norman Rockwell (Feb 3, 1894 – Nov 8, 1978) for the power he demonstrated in all his paintings but especially the later ones after he left the Saturday Evening Post. Thank you Mr. Rockwell for being a strong, quiet, and powerful Warrior For Peace who created art that will forever speak to the heart of issues to be addressed for global peace.
“Do unto others…” For most Americans in 1961, the familiar adage really meant, “Do unto others who look like you.” Norman Rockwell, in his painting Golden Rule challenged that hypocrisy and laid the truth of “the other” smack dab in the middle of America’s coffee tables. Golden Rule appeared on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on April 1, 1961.
Also in 1961 widower Norman Rockwell married a third time, to retired Milton Academy English teacher and ardent liberal Mary L. “Molly” Punderson. With her encouragement, in 1963 he ended his 47-year relationship with the Saturday Evening Post and spent the next decade painting for the magazine Look where his work depicted his interests in civil rights.
In January 1964 Rockwell painted The Problem We All Live With depicting six year old Ruby Bridges walking to school in New Orleans on the court-ordered first day of integrated schools (November 14, 1960) for a Look story.
A great departure from his previous sweet depictions of American life is the colour study of his finished painting called Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi). It was for a June 1965 issue of Look and depicts the horrifying image of racism that resulted in the deaths of three Civil Rights workers as they worked to register African American voters.
These are events that Mr. Rockwell immortalized to help guarantee that we will never forget. As we close out Black History month for 2013 let us all do what we can to continue to work towards peace and equality, ensuring barriers are dropped and opportunities are equal for all. As MLK encouraged, judge not by the colour of skin but by the depth of a person’s character.
This post’s title is inspired by the wonderful works of Barbara Coloroso, an inspirational educator on the importance of informed and loving parenting. She has written many acclaimed books on how to become a better parent or educator.
In my on-going celebration of doing all we can to gain skills in becoming better childcare givers, here’s some information, a short video, and books I’ve found helpful in raising happy, kind, well adjusted children. Whether you’re a parent or not, let’s all gain knowledge on how to encourage and support children and teens as they grow into adulthood. This is for us all!
It really does take a village to raise a child and it takes all of us to help build a loving community and a peaceful world. Every single effort is worth it!
Barbara Coloroso is a bestselling author and for the past 38 years an internationally recognized speaker and consultant on parenting, teaching, school discipline, positive school climate, bullying, grieving, nonviolent conflict resolution and restorative justice. She has appeared on Oprah, CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN and NPR and has been featured in the New York Times, Time, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, and other national and international publications. Her uniquely effective parenting and teaching strategies were developed through her years of training in sociology, special education, and philosophy, as well as field-tested through her experiences as a classroom teacher, laboratory school instructor, university instructor, seminar leader, volunteer in Rwanda, and mother of three grown children. Visit KidsAreWorthIt.com
She is the author of four international bestsellers:
“Kids Are Worth It! Raising Resilient, Responsible, Compassionate Kids”
“Parenting Through Crisis: Helping Kids in Times of Loss, Grief and Change”
“The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Pre-School to High School, How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence”
“Just Because It’s Not Wrong Doesn’t Make It Right: From Toddlers to Teens, Teaching Kids to Think and Act Ethically”
Parenting With Passion: Barbara Coloroso talks about the importance of listening to kids.
Here are parenting books I’ve enjoyed and encourage checking out:
Kids Are Worth It! Raising Resilient, Responsible, Compassionate Kids ~By Barbara Coloroso
This parenting classic is set to teach a new generation of parents the importance of treating kids with dignity and respect. Rejecting the “quick fix” solutions of punishment and reward, Barbara uses everyday family situations ~ from sibling rivalry to teenage rebellion ~ to demonstrate sound strategies for giving children the inner discipline and self-confidence that will help them become responsible, resourceful, resilient, and compassionate adults. Amazon.ca Amazon.com
Raise Your Kids Without Raising Your Voice ~By Sarah Radcliffe
This book has become a favourite guide for parents. Radcliffe understands the challenges that parents face in the big and small tasks of raising kids. She offers stress-reduced strategies for gaining children’s cooperation, eliminating the need for anger and criticism. Gentle on both parent and child, these strategies can be easily learned and used by anyone. Her communication tools foster love, acceptance and healthy boundaries. And she helps parents cope with the most challenging aspect of childrearing: their own feelings of helplessness and stress. Simple and effective, this is a great book for any parent. View book on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
How To Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
~By Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlich
Internationally acclaimed experts on communication between parents and children, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish offer this bestselling classic with fresh insights and suggestions as well as the authors’ time-tested methods to solve common problems and build foundations for lasting relationships. Enthusiastically praised by parents and professionals around the world, the down-to-earth, respectful approach of Faber and Mazlish makes relationships with children of all ages less stressful and more rewarding. Click to view this book on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
What Do You Really Want For Your Children?
~By Dr. Wayne W. Dyer
If you have children, then you have dreams for them. You want to see them growing up happy, healthy, self-reliant, and confident in themselves and their abilities. But if you’re a typical parent, you’ve wondered if you’ll be able to give them all this. There’s good news: you can. Wayne Dyer shares the wisdom and guidance that have already helped millions of readers take charge of their lives ~ showing how to make all your hopes for your children come true. View on Amazon.ca and Amazon.com
[Randomly sourced images off Google]
When I became a mother I was completely in the dark about being a parent. I was the first person I knew to go through the process of a pregnancy, giving birth and becoming a new parent so I had no role models. I had no idea of what to expect. Therefore I did what I’ve done all my life in such situations: I researched. Whenever I feel unsure of something I look more into it and read all I can about it. I want to see it being done, I want to be around others who are doing it and watch how they do it right. Research has always offered me reassurance.
Luckily there are many role models who adore children and know they’re our precious gift and hope for the future. These wise teachers share their knowledge in books, websites, workshops and courses. There is a wealth of information available to help anyone learn how to understand the importance of parenting and how do give our very best to this life-changing endeavour.
If we want to become a better chef, we make an effort to learn from others. Same with gardening, playing a musical instrument, or any other endeavour. We have to make an effort to learn the best way to do it. So let’s make an effort to learn how to excel at child care rather than just doing what we think works, or the way our parents raised us. Let’s see what new information resonates and works for our lives and our children. Even a few tips we acquire that can help calm quarrels and rivalries, build loving relationships, regain household order and foster mutual respect is worth every effort it takes to obtain the information and the time it takes to do some reading.
No one is born with the knowledge of how to be an excellent parent, and becoming a parent does not automatically make one a good parent. Like stand up comics have sarcastically observed, we have to get a license to drive a motorcycle or car, or to even have a dog, but any fool can have a kid!
Let’s not be foolish with this precious role we’ve been granted as parents (or anyone who spends quality time with youngsters such as teachers, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nannies and babysitters) and get wise by picking up a book filled with the generous assistance of those who want to help. Libraries are filled with books on the subject of raising children into well adjusted and happy adults who will lead our world into the peaceful future we know we all deserve. Let’s make the effort to learn how to raise happy kids because it’s priceless!
Sweet Honey In The Rock (see my earlier post) do an incredibly powerful performance of this amazing piece, Ella’s Song, and I’ve included the video and lyrics for us here. I first fell in love with this song over twenty years ago when I heard it covered by songwriter-singer and activist Holly Near and I adore this original version too. I’ve also included some information about the memorable activist who inspired it: Ella Baker.
Let us be inspired to raise our voices and sing along! Let us rise up and take action for peace and freedom for all the world’s people, for every mother’s child. Let our love light the way. ~Namaste.
Ella Josephine Baker (December 13, 1903 – December 13, 1986) was an African-American civil rights and human rights activist beginning in the 1930s. She was a behind-the-scenes activist, whose career spanned over five decades. She worked alongside some of the most famous civil rights leaders of the 20th century, including W.E.B. Du Bois, Thurgood Marshall, A. Philip Randolph, and Martin Luther King, Jr. She also mentored then-young civil rights stalwarts Diane Nash, Stokely Carmichael, Rosa Parks and Bob Moses. In 1972 she traveled the country in support of the “Free Angela” campaign demanding the release of Angela Davis [John Lennon & Yoko Ono wrote a song in support of Angela Davis called ‘Angela’ on their 1972 album “Some Time in New York City”]. Ella Baker also lent her voice to the Puerto Rican independence movement, spoke out against apartheid in South Africa and allied herself with a number of women’s groups, including the Third World Women’s Alliance and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She remained an activist until her death in 1986 at 83 years of age.
Ella Baker quotations:
“Until the killing of black men, black mothers’ sons, becomes as important to the rest of the country as the killing of a white mother’s son… we who believe in freedom cannot rest until this happens.”
“Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.”
“The development of the individual to his highest potential is for the benefit of the group.”
One of the best parts of weekends is curling up with a movie and a bowl of popcorn to enjoy some laughs or touching moments. This is an excellent time to nourish our spirit and not fill our minds and hearts with images of violence. Let’s make careful and informed choices before we watch ‘whatever‘.
These lists are my effort to offer you ideas of movies that are quite low on the violence scale. While some have action and excitement, they’re mostly comedies and dramas that focus on the plights and pleasures of our shared human condition. No horror here. Animated movies are included because they are some of the best movies ever made and are certainly not just for children.
I have only included movies that rate above average on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes (nothing below 70% Positive Ratings at time of posting*). I’ve gathered these two lists from my personal experience as well as from online research, so I haven’t seen them all yet. I recommend you check any movie before viewing it, especially with younger people or guests. Some have mild violence and the second list here is for adult audiences and those movies may have mild nudity or strong language.
Here are links to places you can simply type in the name of the movie you’re considering and learn more: IMDb Wikipedia RottenTomatoes and especially Common Sense Media for examining a movie before viewing it with children, or to avoid movies with sexual content.
May we all find something that is a joy to watch and lifts our hearts!
Rated “PG-13” “PG” or “General”
50 First Dates (2004 US comedy, PG-13, sexual content)
A Beautiful Mind (2001 US Biographical drama, PG-13)
A League Of Their Own (1992 US Drama, Rated PG)
An American Tale: Fievel Goes West (1991, Animated/Family, Rated G)
As Good As It Gets (1997 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13)
Babe (1995, US Drama/Comedy/Family, Rated G)
Back To The Future (1985 US Comedy-Action, Rated PG)
*batteries not included (1987 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG)
Benny And Joon (1993 US Drama-Comedy, Rated PG)
Big (1988 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG)
Big Fish (2003 US Fantasy-Drama, Rated PG-13)
Brave (2012 US Animation-Family, Rated PG)
Calendar Girls (2003 UK Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13)
Chocolat (2000 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13)
Cinema Paradiso (1988 Italian Comedy-Drama, Rated PG)
City Slickers (1991 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13)
Dave (1998 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13)
Departures (2008 Japanese Drama, Rated PG-13)
Dersu Uzala (1975, Japanese/Russian)
Driving Miss Daisy (1990 US Drama, Rated PG)
Edward Scissorhands (1990 US Drama/Science Fiction, Rated PG-13)
ET: The Extra Terrestrial (1982, Drama/Science Fiction, Rated PG)
Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13 for language)
Field Of Dreams (1989 US Drama, Rated PG)
Forrest Gump (1994 US Drama, Rated PG-13)
Ghostbusters (1984 US Comedy, Rated PG)
Groundhog Day (1993 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13)
Harvey (1950 Classic charmer, sweet story about tolerance) RECOMMENDED: Thanks eBL!
Home Alone (1990 US Family-Comedy, Rated PG)
How To Train Your Dragon (2010 Animated Family, Rated PG)
Hugo (2011 US Action-Adventure, Rated PG)
In And Out (1997 US Comedy, Rated PG-13)
(#1) Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981 US Adventure, Rated PG)
(#3) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989 US Action-Adventure, Rated PG-13)
(#4) Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008 US Adventure, PG-13)
It’s A Wonderful Life (1946 US Classic Drama, Not Rated. Engaging, sweet story)
Jean de Florette (1986 French Historical Drama, Rated PG)
Jean de Florette II (Manon des Sources 86 French Drama PG) RECOMMENDED:Thanks Kozo!
Julie And Julia (2009 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13 for some language)
Kinky Boots (2005 UK Comedy-Drama, Rated PG-13)
Mary Poppins (1964 US Family movie, Rated G) Heart warming frolic for all ages
Millions (2005 UK Family film, Rated PG) Good movie for families
Miss Congeniality (2000 US Comedy, Rated PG-13)
Mr. Holland’s Opus (1997 US Drama, Rated PG)
My Big Fat Greek Wedding (2002 US Comedy, Rated PG)
Nanny McPhee (2006 US Family movie, rated PG)
Nanny McPhee Returns (2010 US Family movie, Rated PG)
Ratatouille (2007 US Animated Family, Rated G) For kids but adults may enjoy more!
Say Anything (1989 US Drama, Rated PG-13) Great teen coming-of-age film
School Of Rock (2003 US Comedy, rated PG-13) Good positive message
Shrek (2001 US Animated Family film, Rated PG) Some edgy humor directed at adults
Singin’ In The Rain (1952 US Musical) Often considered the finest musical of all time.
Sleepless In Seattle (1993 Comedy, Rated PG) A fairy tale even teens can enjoy
Some Like It Hot (1959 US Classic, Comedy) One of the wildest romantic farces ever
Somewhere In Time (1980 Drama-Fantasy, Rated PG) RECOMMENDED: Thanks GFS & Patty!
Star Trek (2009 US Adventure/Science Fiction, PG-13) Classic franchise gets new life
Tangled (2010 US Animated Family film, Rated PG)
That Thing You Do (1996 US Comedy-Drama, Rated PG)
The Accidental Tourist (1988 US Drama, Rated PG)
The Blind Side (2009 US Drama, Rated PG-13)
The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005 Fantasy, Rated PG)
The Magic of Belle Isle (2012 Drama-Comedy, Rated PG) RECOMMENDED (Thanks Russ!)
The Muppets (2011 US Comedy/Family film, Rated PG) Fun and heart warming movie
The Never Ending Story (1984 US Fantasy film, Rated PG) Not for very young viewers
The Odd Life Of Timothy Green (2012 US Drama, Rated PG) For kids and non-jaded adults
The Princess Bride (1987 US Fantasy-Comedy, Rated PG) Enjoyable, sharp-edged fairy tale
The Pursuit Of Happyness (2006 US Drama, Rated PG-13) Best for over 10yr olds
The Rundown (2003 US Action/Adventure, Rated PG-13) Some non-graphic violence
The Secret Garden (1993 US Family movie, Rated G) May bore kids used to action films
The Terminal (2004 US Drama, Rated PG-13 from brief strong language)
The Truman Show (1998 US Drama, Rated PG) thought provoking for 8yrs and up
The Wedding Singer (2004 US Comedy, Rated PG-13)
The Wizard Of Oz (1939 US Classic Family Drama, Not Rated)
Under The Tuscan Sun (2003 US Drama, Rated PG-13) Sweet adult story; not for kids
Up (2009 US Animated Family film, Rated PG) Wonderful family film for all ages
Waking Ned Devine (1998 Irish Comedy-Drama, Rated PG) Some black humor
Wall-E (2008 US Animated Family film, Rated G) Charming eco-friendly adventure
Whip It (2009 US Comedy, Rated PG-13) Mixes girl power and teen angst
Willow (1988 US Fantasy, Rated PG) Magic-filled adventure for tweens and up
Second List – NOTE – Rated R:
For an adult audience, these movies have strong language; some nudity
A Fish Called Wanda (1988 UK/USA Heist-Comedy, Rated R)
Almost Famous (2000 US Drama, Rated R)
Amarcord (1974 Italian Classic Drama, Rated R)
Amelie (2001 French Comedy-Drama, Rated R)
Billy Elliot (2000 UK Drama, Rated R)
Garden State (2004 US Drama, Rated R)
I Heart Huckabees (2004 US Comedy, Rated R)
Jerry Maguire (1996 US Drama, Rated R)
Lost In Translation (2003 US Drama, Rated R)
Nobody’s Fool (1994 US Drama, Rated R)
Our Idiot Brother (2011 US Comedy, Rated R)
Planes Trains And Automobiles (1987 US Comedy, Rated R)
Sideways (2004 US Drama, Rated R)
The Full Monty (1997 UK Comedy-Drama, Rated R)
The Trip (2011 UK Comedy-Drama, Rated R)
Wonder Boys (2000 US Drama-Comedy, Rated R)
May we all enjoy and be enriched by our viewing entertainment! Namaste. ~Gina
*Note: This post updated March 18, 2014 to improve your reading pleasure!
I am not sure what can be done to stem the tide of violence that flows out of Hollywood. One thing we can do is use the very real power of our consumer dollars. By foregoing excessively violent films, we can instead choose to see a film without violence that actually tells an enjoyable story along the way!
A ROYAL AFFAIR (Danish Drama, Rated R) With gorgeous cinematography that’s reminiscent of a great master’s paintings, the film is a joy to behold. Unlike other films about royalty, it’s not just a vehicle for ferrying pretty costumes and romantic dialogue across the screen. It’s a heartbreaking, inspiring history brought to life, thanks in large part to its charismatic leads. And so much of what the Enlightenment thinkers espoused is still relevant today: Why allow others to determine your fate? Why give over your freedoms? Forget the run time; it’s rewarding to let it unfold.
BORN TO BE WILD (‘Heart-warming’ Documentary, Rated G) This brief (40 minutes) IMAX documentary narrated by the soothing tones of Morgan Freeman is a safe choice for younger kids because there aren’t any upsetting scenes of predatory violence or deaths, both of which are common in films about the animal kingdom. The two female experts followed in the documentary are wonderful role models because they’ve dedicated their lives to researching and rescuing animals, and preserving their habitats. Despite the sentimental visuals, director David Lickley doesn’t allow the narration to be overwrought or maudlin. Instead, he often hands over the narration to the experts so they can tell us why they’re so passionate about these animals – and why we should care as well.
FLIGHT (Drama, Rated R) Director Robert Zemeckis once again finds the perfect balance between characters and spectacle in Flight, as he did in his best films Back to the Future and Who Framed Roger Rabbit. A less talented director may have focused on the issue of alcoholism, but Zemeckis uses the suspense of the impending hearing, as well as rich characters and performances. Special effects are restricted to the first act. Flight bravely includes many unconventional moments, ranging from passionate speeches by minor characters to amazing moments with no dialogue at all. Flight is a Hollywood film, but it’s Hollywood at its best.
FRANKENWEENIE (Animation Fantasy, Rated PG) This movie was originally a black-and-white short film that Tim Burton directed and released in 1984, and turning it into a feature-length movie was obviously a labor of love. Both homage to classic monster movies and a tender drama about the love between a boy and his dog, this is a film that works on so many levels. For kids and tweens, there’s the basic story of a boy who will stop at nothing to get back his best friend; for young scary-movie buffs and adults there are countless references to the horror genre that are seamlessly woven into the story. It is frightening in parts, particularly when the resurrected animals are unleashed onto the town, but there’s plenty of humor and tenderness as well.
LES MISERABLES (Musical Drama, Rated PG-13) Characters suffer beatings, degrade themselves out of desperation, engage in gun and bayonet fights, claw their way through unspeakable filth, and more. Expect some bawdy lyrics/references, plenty of cleavage, some blood, and a few deaths (including one suicide). But ultimately, Les Miserables is about the redemptive power of love and faith, and there are many moments of hope and beauty amidst the miserable ones.
LIFE OF PI (Adventure Drama, Rated PG) This is an intense, emotional story of survival and triumph against the odds, with themes of faith, friendship, and perseverance. Although it’s rated PG, and there’s virtually no strong language, sexual content, or blood, this adaptation of Yann Martel’s bestselling novel has several harrowing scenes of storms, shipwrecks, and zoo animals killing, and eating each other – all of which are likely to be too much for younger children. Pi is in peril throughout the story (though it’s told as a flashback, so you know survives) and, after losing his whole family, he must negotiate sharing a very small space with a large tiger. Pi remains determined and optimistic, relying on his strong faith to see him through every challenge. While some of the twists and themes will probably have more impact on those who haven’t read the book, there’s no denying that Life of Pi is a powerful movie that’s just as likely to make you think as it is to make you shed a tear or cheer in triumph.
LINCOLN (US Historical Drama, Rated PG-13) Based on Doris Kearns Goodwin’s award-winning book Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, LINCOLN is more about the political intrigue of Lincoln’s final months than a “biopic” about his personal life. Day-Lewis’ performance is a brilliant character study of a legendary man. The most sensitive issues in the movie are its depiction of war (severed limbs and bloody battlefields filled with dead soldiers are seen) and occasional strong language, including many era-accurate (but hard to hear today) racial epithets. But overall, the violence is much tamer than in war movies like Saving Private Ryan or Glory, and Lincoln is an educational, entertaining drama that even some mature 5th graders might be ready to handle, if they watch with their parents. (That said, it does move somewhat slowly, so kids hooked on fast-paced entertainment may not be interested.)
MONSTERS INC. 3D (Animation Comedy, Rated G) Parents need to know that Monsters, Inc. is about closet monsters, but from their point of view — scaring kids is their 9-to-5 job. Kids might be scared of the movie’s concept initially, but they’ll soon figure out that the monster Sulley is a softy who takes care of the little girl in the story who isn’t the least bit afraid of him. However there’s one scene where a monster the child does fear straps her to a chair and tries to steel her screams. Kids will find it funny that most monsters fear any contact with kids — when one monster gets a child’s sock on him the whole factory panics and biohazard workers quarantine and shave him. Young kids may need help understanding what the monsters in yellow are doing to him and why.
PITCH PERFECT (Musical Drama-Comedy, Rated PG-13) It’s a joy to watch a comedy like this which wraps you up in belly laughs and catchy songs and makes whatever ails you seem far away. All the a cappella troupes assembled here are awesome. Never mind that they’re kitschy and earnest and seriously competitive about their craft. The beauty of it is they don’t care; they just want to make music. This movie hits lots of the right notes and will leave you singing.
QUARTET (Drama-Comedy, Rated PG-13) A great choice for grandparents, parents, and teens to watch together, Quartet explores mature issues such as aging, fading talent, seeking forgiveness, and the importance of being passionate about the arts.
RISE OF THE GUARDIANS (Animation-Action, Rated PG) Filled with characters such as Santa, the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and the Sandman, this is a fast-paced romp. Whether they personally believe in these characters or not, kids will root for the Guardians as they fight the forces of chaos and despair. It’s such a refreshing treat to see an animated film so thoughtfully made that didn’t come from Pixar. Director Peter Ramsey has made an impressive, imaginative fantasy where the wonder of childhood reigns supreme.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Comedy-Drama, Rated R) After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own. Positive ratings but warnings about a mature theme that includes mental illness, some family violence (yelling and pushing), and very strong language.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL (UK Drama-Comedy, Rated PG-13) Leave it to the English to show Hollywood that a dramedy starring a who’s who of seniors can be loads funnier, sweeter, and more romantic than the kind of forgettable fluff that passes for romcoms here in North America. The stellar cast is fabulous, but what else would you expect from such a winning group of British thespians? The plot is admittedly thin, but that doesn’t stop director John Madden from exploring the taboo issues of getting older: depression, sexuality, dissatisfaction, even death. But all of the transformations are captured in a way that’s touching and humorous to witness. Audiences completely unaware or unappreciative of dry British humor may not “get” some of the subtler, genius lines, but the dialogue is full of rich, laugh-aloud lines.
THE IMPOSSIBLE (Historical Drama, PG-13) Movies about a massively destructive event, whether it’s a war or 9/11, can be difficult to watch and even more difficult to make well. By focusing on one family, director Juan Antonio Bayona wisely distills the 2004 tsunami tragedy down to the myopic perspective of one distraught woman and her mature-beyond-his-years son. Watts and Holland’s interactions beautifully capture the bond between mother and child. No longer a little boy but far from a man, Holland’s Lucas is fiercely determined to survive and help his mother secure medical attention. Once they safely land at a Thai hospital, we find out what happened to the father and brothers thought lost. The Impossible isn’t easy viewing, but it reminds us all that even in times of despair, there are moments of hope and miracles.
THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER (Drama, Rated PG-13) Charlie is starting high school, a momentous and joyous occasion, if not for the fact that his best friend killed himself months before, and Charlie himself is recovering from a breakdown. It’s a scary situation, until he befriends Patrick, a charismatic, openly gay senior whose biggest heartache is that his closeted boyfriend refuses to acknowledge their relationship in public. Patrick’s step-sister Sam, a sweet girl saddled with an unfair reputation, also takes to Charlie – and vice versa. Together they navigate the treacherous waters of high school with some success, until Charlie is forced to face his past again. NOTE: Parents need to know this is an edgy film that’s frank about the exploits of teenagers. They push back against parental intervention, drink, and use drugs. One girl blithely jokes about being bulimic. There are couples (both same- and opposite-sex) making out, teens bullying each other, and plenty of swearing.
THE SESSIONS (Drama, Rated R) This movie is transcendent, laying bare (no pun intended) the emotional and sexual needs of the disabled in a way that’s universal. Mark isn’t simply looking for release; he’s searching for a deep and abiding connection beyond his faith. The movie follows his exploration elegantly and without judgment, and in so doing, elicits empathy. Hawkes deserves high praise for his rich, nuanced performance. He’s so believable we forget he’s not actually reliant on an iron lung in real life. His scenes with Hunt, who’s also great here, feel so private, so personal, that we feel both privileged and a bit intrusive watching them. Macy’s addition as Mark’s priest allows viewers a peek into Mark’s mind without bogging down the movie. And how wonderful it is to see a pious man not painted as a sinner for discussing his urges and needs. The Sessions is a powerful, emotional lesson in grace and compassion. NOTE: Parents need to know that The Sessions’ story isn’t appropriate for younger teens, but for mature older teens and adults it’s a film filled with compassion and hope that can provide a lesson about what sex and love mean and what they can bring to anyone’s life when approached in a healthy manner.
Please research and decide for yourself if any of these are appropriate for you and your viewing companion(s):
I am temporarily unable to spend much time at my computer as I have been going through a health issue and subsequent pain. I look forward to catching up with all you wonderful readers and your excellent blogs as soon as I am back on my feet (ok, up and sitting at my computer for any amount of time). So this post has been in the works for a while as well as the one that follows: lists of older movies to rent or record to enjoy violent-free movie viewing. May we remain aware and carefully choose the quality content and imagery that will soak into our brains for two hours of watching a movie. May it be a time of enjoyment and enrichment! Namaste. Gina
It was 84 years ago today in Atlanta, Georgia that his mother, Alberta Christine Williams King, gave birth to her second, a boy. He was welcomed into the world by her, his father Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr., and 17-month old sister Willie Christine King, and when he was 18-months old he became a
big brother to Alfred Daniel Williams King.
The King’s middle child grew into a man who generated change and improved the world.
Here is a wonderful description of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. from GoodReads:
Martin Luther King, Jr. was one of the pivotal leaders of the American civil rights movement. King was a Baptist minister, one of the few leadership roles available to black men at the time. He became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955–1956) and helped found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (1957), serving as its first president. His efforts led to the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Here he raised public consciousness of the civil rights movement and established himself as one of the greatest orators in U.S. history. In 1964, King became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end segregation and racial discrimination through civil disobedience and other non-violent means.
King was assassinated on April 4, 1968. He was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Jimmy Carter in 1977. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established as a national holiday in the United States in 1986. In 2004, King was posthumously awarded a Congressional Gold Medal.
While he was an American, his work went beyond borders and boundaries. He is a beloved icon the world over. This is from Wikipedia:
One place outside the United States where Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is observed with equal importance is in the Japanese city of Hiroshima under mayor Tadatoshi Akiba, who holds a special banquet at the mayor’s office as an act of unifying his city’s call for peace with King’s message of human rights.
The City of Toronto, Canada, is another city that has officially recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day, although it is not a paid holiday, and government services and businesses remain open.
In 1984, during a visit by the U.S. Sixth Fleet, Navy chaplain Rabbi Arnold Resnicoff conducted the first Israeli Presidential ceremony in commemoration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, held in the President’s Residence, Jerusalem. Mrs. Aura Herzog, wife of Israel’s then-President Chaim Herzog, noted that she was especially proud to host this special event, because Israel had a national forest in honor of Dr. King, and that Israel and Dr. King shared the idea of “dreams”. Resnicoff continued this theme in his remarks during the ceremony, quoting the verse from Genesis, spoken by the brothers of Joseph when they saw their brother approach, “Behold the dreamer comes; let us slay him and throw him into the pit, and see what becomes of his dreams.” Resnicoff noted that, from time immemorial, there have been those who thought they could kill the dream by slaying the dreamer, but – as the example of Dr. King’s life shows – such people are always wrong.
“It is a deep personal privilege to address a nationwide Canadian audience. Over and above any kinship of U.S. citizens and Canadians as North Americans, there is a singular historical relationship between American Negroes and Canadians.
Canada is not merely a neighbour to Negroes. Deep in our history of struggle for freedom Canada was the North Star. The Negro slave, denied education, de-humanized, imprisoned on cruel plantations, knew that far to the north a land existed where a fugitive slave, if he survived the horrors of the journey, could find freedom. The legendary underground railroad started in the south and ended in Canada.
The freedom road links us together. Our spirituals, now so widely admired around the world, were often codes. We sang of ‘heaven’ that awaited us, and the slave masters listened in innocence, not realizing that we were not speaking of the hereafter. Heaven was the word for Canada and the Negro sang of the hope that his escape on the underground railroad would carry him there.
One of our spirituals, ‘Follow the Drinking Gourd’, in its disguised lyrics contained directions for escape. The gourd was the big dipper, and the North Star to which its handle pointed gave the celestial map that directed the flight to the Canadian border.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.
If you have not already visited the official website of the foundation continuing his legacy and his work, I encourage you to do so. The website for the King Center is well organized with so much to read and learn about. Enjoy!
Official Website: http://www.thekingcenter.org/
Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King, The King Center is the official, living memorial dedicated to advancing the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Our programs and partnerships educate the world about his life and his philosophy of nonviolence, inspiring new generations to further his work.
~ Imagine Our World At Peace ~
John Lennon’s song IMAGINE is so popular because it resonates within us. It touches our soul, our psyche. The response to this song is rarely, “Oh, it’s okay I guess.” We more commonly hear, “That’s my favourite song of all time!”
It has become an anthem of sorts. An anthem for World Peace. And we need an anthem about peace now more than ever.
We need to remember how important, how essential it is that we practice acceptance of perceived differences. We need to realize how this one step is critical to creating lasting peace in our lifetime. This year. Right now.
Let us move beyond the schoolyard manner of thinking and acting upon the outdated belief that ‘my religion is better than your religion’ or ‘my geographical location is more important than yours’ because these attitudes only keep us frozen in archaic battles.
As a fan of Dick Wolf, I’ve been enjoying his latest addition: Chicago Fire. In one episode we observe a secondary character named ‘Mouch’ express his intense hatred for Canadians when a couple of fire fighters from Toronto visit the station. He could not stand to be in the same room as they were. Towards the end we learn how he had fallen for a girl from Ontario through a website, and sent her money to come to Chicago, but she was a cruel person who scammed him and broke his heart. Through this one event, in his humiliation and heartbreak, he’d written off an entire country, dismissing with disgust anyone with that nationality.
It felt like a pretty good example of one way that exclusion, even racism, can begin to fester in a person’s heart. And everyone who allows these types of wounds to grow while refusing to forgive a larger group of people based on the actions of one or a few, are contributing the problem.
I choose to be a part of the solution. I choose to focus on peace, and the best way for me to foster a peaceful world and make a real difference towards world peace, is by ever deepening the love within my own heart. Peace within individuals grows outward to become peaceful communities, cities and nations. Peace in our hearts is the primary thing we all can do towards creating world peace.
As John Lennon invites us to imagine, what if there were no countries? No borders? I don’t feel borders. And I don’t see borders on our globe. To me, I feel like a resident of the continent of North America. And on a larger scale, as OAK at Only Abundant Knowledge wisely states in her blog, I am an Earthian and to be human is enough.
There is only one race: the Human Race. And I feel as much compassion, love and concern for my human ‘kin’ in Toronto, Aurora, and Newtown, as I do for my fellow ‘kin’ in Delhi, Sudan, and beyond. In my prayers, I feel deep compassion and love for all my fellow residents of this planet, and do my part to send my highest light towards these places where people are hurting and are filled with sadness.
I like to imagine the world at peace as John Lennon dreamt of.
I like to imagine a shift in consciousness, when enough of us on the planet pray for and believe in peace, when the angry ones suddenly wonder ‘what are we even fighting for?’, put down their weapons, and reach out with aid for others who they can now see as their ‘kin’.
And yes, that may make me a dreamer. To which I say thank God for John Lennon and his eternal anthem for peace, and for helping all of us dreamers know that we’re not the only one.
Note: Images here were randomly sourced through Google except the bottom banner.
With horrific tragedies involving guns, it’s so easy to collapse into a reactive state, complete with desires to melt all guns down. I can relate to that! I have a deep-seated desire for peace. But reality wakes me up with a slap in the face like a glassful of icy water. Without intending to put too fine of a point on it, guns are not the problem. Mental health, or the lack thereof, is the problem. And when we really look at mental health issues we will keep coming back to family support, children’s care, medical support and the requirement for individuals to obtain quality counseling, and if needed, to remain on stabilizing medication.
In the weeks leading up to December 25th I always indulge in replaying my favorite movies. Tonight I watched Disney’s clever rendition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring the voice talent of Jim Carrey. I find this version to be a frighteningly honest portrayal of the writer’s intentions, how the story entails a horrifying warning about the prospect of burning in hell. As we see the antagonist travel back in time to his Christmas past, and view him sitting alone in a deserted boarding school, quietly singing for a moment until he sadly stops, feeling utterly rejected and heart-broken, I feel Dickens was making an important point: The needless pain and suffering endured in his childhood helped create the man we see who is so full of hate and spite that his presence literally stops playing and singing in the streets. Scrooge’s character was built upon the pain and hurt of rejection in his childhood.
Can we help prevent the agony of suicidal, lost souls from taking innocent lives with them? Well that is the 100-Million-Dollar question, isn’t it? I wish I had a perfect answer. This post is my humble declaration that I feel we can do something, by acknowledging the very real need to address mental health issues from early childhood and beyond. We need to understand the importance of helping individuals we know of to maintain their medication schedule.
Tragic events aren’t always about guns. Last spring a man named Raymond Taavel, while attempting to save another, was beaten to death by Andre Denny. Hours earlier, Denny, who was agitated and known to be off his meds for schizophrenia, was still released by an overworked medical facility in Halifax. He later admitted to waiting in an all-night coffee shop where he could view the coming’s and going’s of a local gay establishment. The fact that Denny watched, waited, and stepped out, grabbing Taavel and a friend simply for where they were coming out of is terrifying to me. Could someone kill me for being too tall? White? Overweight? In the wrong neighbourhood? Having a gay best friend? Denny beat a man to death for his own personal issues around something not right in his mind, because he was off his meds and released to the streets. I’m citing this example because I feel that mental health is the real issue to be addressed. I believe it’s not only an issue of gun control.
Can we help heal the mental health issues that lay hidden all around us? I believe we can. Especially by beginning to speak out about it. Let’s all help it to not be ‘hidden’. Let’s all help by releasing any preconceived ideas about mental health issues. Let’s become part of the solution by opening our understanding of those who have chemical imbalances in the brain. Why is mental health considered different from diabetes which requires daily monitoring and medication? The fact that there is ANY stigma attached to this makes me want to laugh, except that I’d sooner cry. While I’m not saying there are any connections, living in a world full of artificial flavoring and additives in our food, chemicals in the air we breathe in our homes, exhaust on the streets, not to mention the stresses children endure from the very act of going to school and finding their way through the cliques and assignments, is staggering. If we really think about it, we need to be thankful that there are not more people needing medication to help correct the chemical imbalances in their brain.
We can all do something to help. By sharing about the times we’ve felt overwhelmed and how seeking counseling is a testament of inner strength, not weakness. We can speak up and tell someone in the medical profession if we are worried about a friend or relative who has changed lately, and may be exhibiting signs of severe depression or suicidal thoughts. We can choose to bravely be uncomfortable and address something that is worrying our mind, rather than choosing to ignore a problem with the belief that it will ‘go away’.
There is always something that can be done. I believe this in every fiber of my being. Well actually I think it’s wired in to my own sense of well-being and mental health, because if I fully collapsed into fear and horror of the things happening in the world today, I simply could not get out of bed. So I choose to focus on hope. I have to. I focus on what CAN be done. I do it for my mental health.
How about you?
Thank you Mr. Solomon for these powerful words of wisdom written as a Foreword in “A Little Peace”. These are words to live by and pass along. Indeed, education is a vital resource in creating peace on earth. Let us all role-model and teach love, tolerance, mutual understanding, as well as respect for self and others. We can all do our part in creating peace.
For further information, I encourage a visit to Peace Corps Kids World as well as the United States Institute of Peace.
Like the highly acclaimed titles A Cool Drink of Water and You and Me Together, this beautiful book features superb National Geographic images accompanied by a brief, poetic text on a subject of global importance.
Near the end of the book a double-page spread offers thumbnail pictures of each photograph presented along with an explanation of where it was taken.
This is a visually stunning book with an important message. The spare, refreshing text winds its way around and through full-color photographs. Each vividly captures the universal emotions and peaceful pursuits of everyday people around the world.
A Little Peace offers a vital lesson for children, and indeed all of us, everywhere.
About the Author – Barbara Kerley is a former Peace Corps volunteer in Nepal and now lives in northern California with her husband and daughter. Her website is BarbaraKerley.com.
She wrote this book with a conviction that we each can make a difference: “I believe that peace doesn’t just rest in the hands of politicians and world leaders. We all have the power to make the world more peaceful.”
Lately I have been thinking about how we can experience peace on earth, right here, right now. And I keep coming back to the incredibly profound statement that Gandhi made: “If we are to teach real peace in this world, and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with the children.”
This is important ‘grassroots’ thinking. This is starting at the beginning. This is where peace is already spreading across the world, with every child who is educated on what empathy for another feels like.
With deep gratitude to the dynamic duo at 3Di, Gary Foskett and Clare Blackhall, educationalists, writers and consultants, I’m sharing excerpts in bold green from their superb article posted last April:
“Tackling Prejudice, Shaping Character, and Other Aims of Education”
I find the entire post to be thought provoking, starting with behaviour surrounding the sport of football:
3Di: Some might argue that the ‘isms’ in football are merely jocular banter, targeting any difference in any player – be it their skin colour, their accent, their class, their hair colour or who they’re in a relationship with. Recently, certain fans abused the Bolton goalkeeper for wearing a fluorescent pink jersey which clashed with his “ginger” hair. Harmless mockery or hurtful victimization?
How can people idly stand by week in week out witnessing and listening to classism, sexism, racism, genderism, homophobia and all other forms of abuse, and either do nothing, or worse, going along with the crowd and participate in the abuse or ‘banter’?
When does the learned behaviour of the terraces [football stadiums] filter into local communities, where smaller gangs of youths think it perfectly normal to verbally abuse those who look different to themselves? When does the verbal abuse turn to physical violence – to the point where it becomes life-threatening?
Riding a bicycle is learned, as is driving a car, but with daily practice it becomes instinctive. Patterns and repetition create learned forms of behaviour. In time, those behaviours become as instinctive as ‘flight or fight’. If negative or abusive behaviour is not challenged it’s highly likely to become ingrained and instinctive in individuals, and may even become embedded in the behaviour of crowds.
Touching on the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence in ‘93, they move into how we can help prevent such horrific events by bringing the education of empathy and understanding right into the school systems, a place where our youth must legally gather for the majority of the year.
Nick Gibbs, Minister of State for Schools in the UK, referred that schools cannot be responsible for all the ills of society. “We could easily fill the school curriculum with all the social issues that many pressure groups want us to put in the curriculum. Then there would be no time left for the academic subjects that need to be taught,” he said. “My view is that the best way for schools to tackle social problems … is to make sure children leave school well-educated. That is the best way out of poverty.”
Of course being literate and numerate will increase their chances of long-term employment and might thus remove them from the cycle of poverty. But our children and young people need more than that to survive in a world that is unjust and full of ‘isms’.
They need to learn and to think for themselves about what it means to be racist, how it might feel to be the subject of overt sexism, to understand how to prevent this behaviour perpetuating itself for another generation.
Our children and young people need to develop empathy to the point that they would not wish to harm another human being through their verbal abuse or their vicious remarks. They need to develop self-worth and resilience – through non-aggressive assertiveness, and not aggression.
…and towards the conclusion of the article:
Effective schools do this through how they teach rather than the actual content of the lessons. Tackling attitudes to these issues rather than individual ‘isms’ is the obvious and healthy way forward.
3Di Associates is a consultancy supporting schools, colleges, universities, businesses and individuals worldwide. Please visit this link to view the entire article, and browse around through their insightful viewpoints on the importance of education covering multiple intelligences, including emotional, personal, social, and spiritual intelligences.
My heartfelt gratitude goes out to 3Di and all educators and caregivers who are wisely and lovingly teaching children empathy. We are all helping create peace on earth. Namaste.