Tag Archive | parenting

Impressions on Children

Children are like wet cement. Whatever falls on them makes an impression. ~Dr. Haim Ginott

Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get. ~H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Here are some fantastic one-page articles about teaching and encouraging kindness in children, even when they’re still toddlers. It’s really never too early to begin. May peace prevail. Namaste. Gina

8 Ways to teach kindness to toddlers and preschoolers, by Tabitha Studer at WhatToExpect.com
Kids and kindness: Can you teach compassion? by Holly Bennett at TodaysParent.com
Teaching Children Respect in 5 Minutes or Less, by Julie Hunt at SmartKids101.com

Teaching Children Affirmations

baby mirror kissIf we are a parent or have children in our lives as nieces, nephews, students or children of our friends, we have a great opportunity to role-model how doing affirmations helps us to feel better about ourselves. Self-love nurtures self worth, which is the essential building block for all healthy relationships with others.

sm-Love-Your-StoryI also fully believe that a wholesome sense of self worth not only improves people’s lives it helps save them. We all need to realize our own worth and to cherish our lives.

On this important topic of doing affirmations for and with children, I am delighted to share two amazing bloggers and the wonderful crafts they have made.

sm GOD MADE YOU Affirmation FeedingSparrows.comSubway art: God Made You

Jamie is a delightful blogger and I encourage you to visit her wonderfully inspiring craft blog.

She writes: “Every gift, every feature, every circumstance in our lives is hand picked especially for us by the Lord.  We need to remind our children of this daily!
“You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13
I am so often drawn to this verse; it helps me to understand that He made me and that I am His.”

Jamie’s helpful photos and text will walk you through how to make an inspiring poster like this for yourself. Or visit her etsy shop and she’ll make one for you! Also, her custom wedding song lyrics would look wonderful in any newlywed couple’s home, both on and long after their big day. Way to go Jamie!

300 affirm I Am - feedingsparrowsI discovered Jamie and her Creative Imperative through the delightful blog at Feeding Sparrows, and specifically this post on making Affirmation Signs. This inspiring mother of three has a wise and generous spirit and writes often about the importance of doing affirmations. There is much to read and enjoy on her blog, even if she hasn’t added a new post in a while. I can certainly relate to how busy life gets, even if my children are no longer young like hers are!

I encourage you to visit her site, especially this post about Why Affirmations. It’s wonderfully well written about why teaching children about doing affirmations is essential to helping raise healthy, happy individuals. Her concluding statement here is amazing:
“I believe it is so important that we teach our children how to ‘choose’ the right thoughts from an early age. Just think of the love and peace we would have all over the world if every child was taught the importance of doing daily, positive, affirmations! They truly can create miracles!”

affirmation_bracelets shoplocket.comBracelets for children by Feeding Sparrows

For every set she sells, one set is given to a non-profit children’s organization! The affirmation bracelets have these affirmations:

  • I am loved. I am brave. I am creative. (red lettering)
  • Every day I get better and better. (orange lettering)
  • Today is the best day ever. (green lettering)
  • Think. speak. be positive. (blue lettering)
  • I am a good friend. (purple lettering)

While I do not know either of these bloggers except for frequent enjoyable visits to their blogs, I offer heartfelt gratitude to both Jamie and Allyson with an encouraging cheer to keep up the good work! All the work you do as you shower your own children with love, and then share about it on your blogs, helps make a huge difference in our world because we all need role models. Thanks for showing some of the ways of how you do it. God bless you.

nothing you do for children is wasted 450

Additional Reading:

You Are Wanted

A few days ago I was at last in a cleaning spurt. That’s always a good sign that I’m feeling better. On a whim I decided to turn to the Spirit Channel with uplifting Christian rock as my choice of ‘background noise’ while I scrubbed my kitchen, instead of a nature documentary or cooking show.

It wasn’t long before I heard this song (shared below thanks to YouTube) and found myself singing along… and then going to YouTube to hear it again… and again.

As I was singing along I thought of my son’s friend, a lovely young man who left too soon. I thought about my darling and still-young dog who has lost her sight. And I thought of myself. Deserving of love exactly where I am right now, in this moment. “You are wanted!” I sang along.

The lovely songstress Dana Maclean co-wrote and sings these incredible lyrics, helping remind us of how important each and every one of us is. I encourage you to listen. I hope you enjoy. Namaste. Gina



From the day you were born

And took your first breath

You opened your eyes and in came the light

He was watching you

But all of your life you couldn’t shake the lies in your head

Saying you’re a mistake

Oh but you were made

By a God who knows your name

He doesn’t make mistakes


You are wanted

To every broken heart, He stands with open arms

You are wanted

To every searching soul, look to the rising sun

If you’re lonely, hurting, gone too far

To the outcast you come as you are

For you, you are wanted, you, you are wanted

You, you are wanted, you, you are wanted


Let this be the day that joy takes the place

Of all of the years that shame tried to steal away

He is calling you

Lift your eyes to see His face

Come run into the arms of grace


You are wanted

To every broken heart, He stands with open arms

You are wanted

To every searching soul, look to the rising sun

If you’re lonely, hurting, gone too far

To the outcast you come as you are

For you, you are wanted, you, you are wanted

You, you are wanted, you, you are wanted


You, you have been marked

You’re set apart

And He calls you His

So you don’t have to search

Don’t have to look for where you belong

You are wanted.

What A Child Lives With

every child is a different flower

Approach child two sentiments

if a child lives with fairness

If a child lives with encouragement, she learns to be confident.

If a child lives with tolerance, he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with praise, she learns to be appreciative.

If a child lives with acceptance, he learns to love.

If a child lives with approval, she learns to like herself.

If a child lives with recognition, he learns that it is good to have a goal.

If a child lives with sharing, she learns about generosity.

If a child lives with honesty and fairness, he learns what truth and justice are.

If a child lives with security, she learns to have faith in herself and in those around her.

If a child lives with friendliness, he learns that the world is a nice place in which to live.

If you live with serenity your child will live with peace of mind. With what is your child living?

[from Dorothy Law Nolte’s 1976 poem ‘Children Learn What They Live’ ~ Random images]

Kids Are Worth It!

nothing you do for children is wasted 450This 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 laughingKids 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

children teach what-life-is-all-aboutWhat 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]

Precious Resource

Mother and Daughter Reading TogetherWhen 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.

playing for change imageLuckily 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.

children laughingNo 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!

children - Alice Walker[Randomly sourced images]

Kahlil Gibran “On Children”

kahlil gibran novel the-prophetLebanese artist, writer and poet Kahlil Gibran‘s novel from 1923 “The Prophet” has been translated to over forty languages, has sold over 100 million copies, and has never been out of print. Click here to view it on Amazon. According to Wikipedia, Kahlil Gibran is the third best-selling poet of all time, only behind William Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu.

While the entire novel is a beloved masterpiece, a favorite section will forever remain ‘On Children‘. Please visit my post from last Mother’s Day that was inspired by these wise words. Also inspired were the group Sweet Honey In The Rock (see post) who’ve recorded a lovely rendition in celebration of this incredible writing by Gibran. I’ve included the words to Gibran’s original work here as well as the slightly altered lyrics by the performers. May we be inspired to sing along to the uplifting beat and raise the upcoming generation remembering these truths.

Let us also remember the wise words from Mahatma Gandhi, “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.”

Kahlil Gibran’s On Children

Sweet Honey In The Rock performing Kahlil Gibran’s “On Children”

Your children are not your children
They are the sons and the daughters of Life’s longing for itself
They come through you but they are not from you
And though they are with you, they belong not to you
You can give them your love but not your thoughts
Sweet-Honey-in-the-Rock logo 200They have their own thoughts
They have their own thoughts
You can house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the place of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams
You can strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you
Strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you
Your children are not your children
sweet honey in the rock - small photoThey are the sons and the daughters of Life’s longing for itself
They come through you but they are not from you
And though they are with you, they belong not to you
You can give them your love but not your thoughts
They have their own thoughts
They have their own thoughts
You can house their bodies but not their souls
For their souls dwell in the place of tomorrow
Which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams
You can strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you
Strive to be like them
But you cannot make them just like you.

peace banner bloggers4peace

Non-violent Movies

handfulof popcorn 123rf.com
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!

First List:

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

Links for researching movies:

*Note: This post updated March 18, 2014 to improve your reading pleasure!

Let’s Avoid Violent Viewing

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!

film reel iStockphoto.com16 NON-VIOLENT MOVIES IN THEATRES NOW (Alphabetically listed)

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

Gratitude Blooms Through Concrete

“Through the hardest places,
And after the toughest times,
The tiniest blossom will take hold,
And the smallest glimmer shines.”
~Gina © Professions For Peace

My son went out for lunch last Sunday and when he returned, as a usual conversation curiosity, I asked what he’d ordered and how it was.

“Not great” he said, of his fish and chips.

He’s usually more enthusiastic about dining out so I found that rather troubling. Unfortunately, my mother’s intuition turned out to be more than just worry as we entered into many awful days of helping him through a bout of food poisoning.

“Sickness comes on horseback
but departs on foot.”
~Dutch Proverb

While childhood illnesses are truly terrifying and I lost many nights of sleep when my children were small, to witness your offspring now as a strong adult, suddenly flattened and in pain, it is a whole new horror for a parent.

To go into his room to check on him and not seeing him in bed and walking through to his ensuite and finding this 6’3” tall man laying prone on the cold slate floor of his basement washroom with a towel for a pillow caused my heart to jump into my throat. He explained his body hurt so badly it was the only position that offered the barest comfort and the coolness from the floor was helping.

“Health is like money: we never have a true idea of its value until we lose it.”
~Josh Billings

Well he may be 20 years old and taller than me, but my youngest will always be my baby. So my inner ‘nurse’ went into overdrive and nurtured him back to health through three frightening days. I had never experienced food poisoning before. I am thankful for the nurses and other health professionals available over the phone where I live. 

Those conversations offered my family reassurance about what was happening, what to expect, and how to speed recovery. They reminded us that rehydration is so crucial that I should not even let him sleep for too long on that critical second day after the vomiting had stopped. He simply had to keep hydrating. So while it pained me to wake him, about once an hour I had to gently but firmly urge him to keep sipping on broth, apple juice, sports drinks, tea, and of course water. 

flower through concrete

“From the bitterness of disease we learn the sweetness of health.”
~Catalan Proverb

On the third day, to at last see him sitting up in bed with a better colour to his face, to witness his ability to eat a few crackers and later a small sandwich, to see him want to watch a movie after days in bed when he was not sleeping but not wanting to read or watch anything, not caring if the light was off or on, just waiting to feel better and for the nausea to pass, well I’ve never been so happy in my life to see my young man watching TV!

I am thankful for the nurses on the phone who calmed us all with explanations and steps of what to do.

I am thankful for the Food Borne Illness representative of our local health department who called and reassured that an investigation is underway and inspections are being conducted at the restaurant.

I am thankful that my husband has a good job, which allows me to stay home so I could be with my son.

I am thankful that my son’s part-time job allowed him the time to get better without worrying about losing his job.

I am thankful for my son’s lesson learned in listening to intuition if something’s a bit off with food we taste, and to stop eating it instead of shrugging it off as nothing.

I am thankful for science and medicine providing us with anti-nauseants and pain relievers.

I am thankful for the wonder of our miraculous bodies and how they do what they need to, and that we do heal.

And I am tremendously thankful to God for all of it. For allowing me to have my son in the first place, and helping him recover, so that he may stay in the world. I sadly know that food borne illness has taken lives, and I Thank God that my son has recovered.

Thank You God!


This other post has a short sweet story about this same son, posted on my second day as a blogger: http://professionsforpeace.com/2012/04/14/20-years-ago-today/

Book: A Little Peace

a little peaceThis NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHILDREN’S BOOKS title by Barbara Kerley, A Little Peace, gives a richly evocative and thought-provoking view of the world our children will inherit.

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.

author Barbara Kerley


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.”

View book on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com

Teaching Empathy

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?

And …

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.

Kids For Peace! Way to go

I encourage a visit to the website of this non-profit organization working with children and pledging for peace! I cheer them on. Let’s support and encourage these wise and forward-thinking people of all ages. I’ve shared their Mission and more here. They are showing us how we can all do this together.


One amazing minute of children pledging for peace. Uplifting and super-sweet!


I pledge to use my words to speak in a kind way.

I pledge to help others as I go throughout my day.

I pledge to care for our earth with my healing heart and hands.

I pledge to respect people in each and every land.

I pledge to join together as we unite the big and small.

I pledge to do my part to create PEACE for one and all.

Kids For PeaceKids For Peace

Kids for Peace is a group of delightful children working together to create a culture of peace both locally and globally. We do this through the arts, community service, civic action, peace-building skills, environmental care, cultural awareness, global outreach and lots of fun! 


Our Mission

To cultivate every child’s innate ability to foster peace through cross-cultural experiences and hands-on arts, service and environmental projects.

Our Vision

Our vision is a safe and peaceful world where all people respect and care for each other and our planet. Kids for Peace serves as a model and inspiration for creating this reality with children leading the way, not only for today, but for generations to come.

What We Believe

We believe every child has innate wisdom to foster peace and when cultivated, will choose a positive path.

We believe every child deserves to feel and share joy, kindness, love and friendship.

We believe every child can learn and engage in cooperation, teamwork, and peacebuilding.

We believe that learning about other cultures, lifestyles, and traditions leads to unity, respect and peace.

We believe that every child can participate in simple acts of kindness and caring for our earth.

We believe in helping every child express their hopes, dreams, and wishes.

We believe in every child.

We believe in peace.