Advice from Kipling

It is time to support good candidates. I’m donating to candidates that I believe have integrity. At the same time I keep remembering what I read about civil disobedience and the most effective way to effect change is to do so with humanity. The Ghandis and Kings of history fought long and hard, with peace and civility. We can rise up and still be kind.

Rudyard Kipling said it best in the following poem to his son in his Rewards and Fairies novel:


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too.
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster,
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make a heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


A teacher, Laurie Woodward is the author of  several novels including Forest Secrets, and the fantasy series The Artania ChroniclesShe also cowrote Dean and JoJoThe Dolphin Legacy and was a collaborator on the popular anti-bullying DVD Resolutions. Bullied as a child, Laurie is now an award-winning peace consultant and blogger who helps teach children how to avoid arguments, stop bullying, and maintain healthy friendships. She writes her novels on the Central Coast of California.

Standing in Silence for the Seventeen

Yesterday our entire elementary school joined thousands of others around the nation in a 17 minute walkout.  And the children’s response inspired me.

Like many, The February 14, 2018 school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, cut me to the core. Shock. Disbelief. Grief.

And a lot of anger.

But I was heartened by the children’s response. The survivors were demanding action, and when they didn’t see it in adults, they organized a “walkout” for 17 minutes–one minute for each life lost in Parkland.

On Monday I was surprised to receive a letter from our superintendent stating that we would support these efforts. The entire Santa Maria-Bonita School District of 17,123 students would participate. We received instructions that we should embrace the differences in opinion, views, and perspective and thus lead  organized options for our students to participate, or not, in the walkout.

Our administrators drafted several age appropriate letters for teachers to recite before the event. I fought back tears as I read,  “You might have heard about the tragic incident that happened at a high school in Florida a few weeks ago. There was a troubled young man, who entered the school with the intent to hurt as many students as he could. On this day, 17 students lost their lives. Many schools across the country are deeply saddened and frustrated that something like this could happen. The students at the high school where this happened have been working hard to change laws in their state that would make it more difficult to purchase a gun, along with asking that those who can buy guns be screened carefully for mental illness.
The students are also saying that people who might be unstable or have the desire to hurt others, should not be allowed to purchase guns. While we all may have different ideas about what should happen, we all agree that our schools should be a safe place.

In order to support this message we asked that everyone wear  the color orange today, and we are also going to participate in the 17 Minute National School Walkout. During our school’s walkout we are going to give you three options to express your feelings. (1)
You may stand quietly in the amphitheater as a sign of silent protest. (2) You may march with your classmates around the perimeter of our playground. Organized marches have been held many times in our history to create awareness and change. Today, many students across our country are choosing to take the hand of someone who might be lonely, so that we all have someone to walk with. (3) Or, you may take his time to just be a kid, which is what we think every child should be able to do, and play on our playground for an extra 17 minutes today.
Regardless of your choice, please be especially mindful of why we are doing this today. This is about making a statement, that schools should be safe from violence.”

Then we went out to the playground. Some children wore self-affirming signs. Others marched. Most played.

Then there was a  group in the amphitheater standing in silence. I joined them. Around me were bowed heads and pained faces A single chain of hands linked teachers and students. I gave gentle hugs and exchanged looks acknowledging the tragedy with our eyes. The crowd grew.

As more of my students came up by my side, feelings of pride joined the sadness of the event. They could be playing yet kids as young as six were standing to remember the fallen seventeen. At the same time, I couldn’t help but imagine these shining faces falling before the horrific gunfire like those beautiful souls in Parkland.

Those seventeen minutes moved me to a place I cannot completely describe. A place where I was one with those around me. One with the community and one with our nation.

Praying for change.


They Will Save the Planet

Young filmmaker Dylan D’Haeze has produced a series of documentaries, Kids Can Save the Planet, which explores plastic pollution, climate change, zero waste and sustainability. At the age of 13, Dylan D’Haeze had a simple question: “What happens when we throw plastic away?” The more he learned about the issues, the more he realised how big […]

via Kids Can Save the Planet: Teen filmmaker examines the issues from a kids perspective — Life & Soul Magazine

A School Lockdown: Happy Birthday Dr. Seuss

“We are in a lockdown,” the intercom blared throughout our school.

This was not a drill. The police had surrounded a house in the neighborhood and were in some sort of stand-off. Exchanging glances with the other teachers in the lounge, my first reaction was to run toward my students who were out on the playground for recess. But the doors were already being locked and the lights doused. With Parkland, Florida fresh in my mind, my heart pounded and a lump rose in my throat.

Were my babies okay?

One teacher pulled out her phone and put it on speaker as we listened in on the radio chatter of dispatch calling numbers I didn’t know the meaning of  on the police channel. Whatever was happening was two blocks away.

That was a relief.

It was Dr. Seuss’s birthday and many of the kids had worn their P. J’s and carried stuffed animals with them in anticipation of the readers and the Cat in the Hat that were scheduled to visit our class. We were still waiting for our turn when we went into lockdown.  So instead of  hearing the dreams of Oh The Places You’ll Go  our students huddled under desks listening to teachers trying to calm their fears.



The stand-off ended with non-lethal gunfire exchanged and the perpetrator’s arrest. We continued on with our day as normally as we could. I returned to class, heaving a sigh of relief when I reunited with all of my students. Then I fielded questions from the white-faced fifth-graders.

“Yes, it was real, but far away. It was just a precaution. The police always call for a lockdown if they are trying to catch somebody within a mile of a school. Don’t worry. You were safe inside. We are here to protect you.”

While I spoke, images of  Parkland, Sandy Hook, Marshall County, Columbine, Red Lake, and  Virginia Tech flashed through my mind. These kids were safe but our school’s name could just as easily been added to the list.

Welcome to an American elementary school.

Laugh as Motivator of Change

Environmental economist and climate change comedian Matt Winning is trying to get people to take climate change more seriously by taking it less seriously. The comedian, who has a PhD in climate change policy and now works at UCL doing research on climate change, has written a stand-up comedy show about climate change, Filibuster, in an effort to engage people […]

via Matt Winning: Raising awareness of climate change through comedy — Life & Soul Magazine

Martin Luther King Jr. Rises. Will You?

As the heckler’s rock struck Dr. King in the head, he fell to one knee. Staring at the ground, the crowd waited. What would their leader do? Give in to fear? Or rise up and continue?

He stood tall and continued to lead the march. It was August 5, 1966 and Martin was in an all-white neighborhood of Chicago protesting housing discrimination.

Now, when he was struck he could have retaliated with anger. He could have flung that stone right back.  But Martin Luther King Jr. was a man of peace. Of God. And he had a wisdom so often lacking today.

He knew.

We teach by example.

Just a few days later he withstood blistering summer heat to speak at a rally in the city’s football stadium. There in Soldier Field he spoke of how tired African-Americans were often living in rat-infested slums, and being lynched physically in Mississippi, and  spiritually and economically in the North.

No hatred in his words. No vitriol. No dividing lines.

But he did draw lines in the sand. On one side was the dream of equality and justice. The other side racism, malevolence, and suffering.


We have that power today. We can reach out hands to those who are different from ourselves in friendship or use them to fling rocks at the innocent and righteous.

I, for one, choose friendship.

Who is with me?



(Source: Time Magazine “The Suprising Story Behind This Shocking Photo of Martin Luther King Jr. Under Attack.”)

Book Review: Martin’s Big Words — Teach Peace Now’s Post

~ The Power of Words ~ It is impossible to listen to the news and not be struck by the way words are being used to cover up hateful actions and outright lies by our leaders and politicians. Words are powerful as Martin Luther King knew. The 2002 Caldecott Honor children’s picture book Martin’s Big…

via Book Review: Martin’s Big Words — Teach Peace Now

A Mentor’s Message

On November 26, 2017 Gary and Becky Kennedy hosted a living memorial/celebration of all things David Burnight/Tuesday night dinner reunion/open circle/party/or anything else you would like to call it gathering for this man. Although very ill with cancer, he spoke about his legacy: Intersection House.

Intersection House was a communal home on San Diego State’s campus for people, like me, who believe in a better world. For dreamers and activists. For searchers and spiritualists. For Christians and Buddhists and Jews; and others just trying to figure it all out. It was my home during my senior year. And continues to be my home.

Because of this amazing man.

A Child’s Compassion

I’d been doing class meetings for several years and was pretty proud of the results. Bullying was down and my fifth graders were using assertive language. Still nothing could prepare me for the class meeting I had one day.

Now I work in a community with gangs, poverty, and drug abuse. And like many teachers I don’t want to know every sad story. Some are so heartbreaking it makes it hard to teach. But this one year I had students facing extreme challenges that were effecting everyone. One little girl had gone from Student of the Month to a gossipy taunting bully. Another joined in on the bullying while her  grades kept dropping until she was two years below where she’d been before.

I wondered why?

The school counselor and their parents soon answered these questions. The girl who had become a bully had recently walked in to find a family member hanging from the ceiling, the victim of suicide. That compounded with a single parent household and other relatives in gangs made her so angry she lashed out at whoever was nearby.

The second girl had a father who’d been arrested for gang activity in a loud raid on her home. His arrest was in the papers and she was so ashamed that she could barely focus in school. She often started to cry in the middle of class and asked to be excused. I tried my best to comfort her or distract her with a joke or interesting work.But when a child is missing her Daddy there is little a teacher can do.

Neither of these girls shared their pain with their classmates. Both were too ashamed.

One day the tension felt high so I called a class meeting. I cautioned the kids about the rules saying that this was private, not something to gossip about. We could share with our parents but not on the playground. Then like I often do, I started it off with acknowledging how proud I was to be their teacher, how honored I was to be part of their lives, and how much they meant to me.

I smiled at the girl whose father had been arrested and passed her the talking stick. She whispered in my ear, “I want to share about my dad. What do you think?” I told her it was up to her.

She turned the talking stick over in her hands as she spoke. “I know  I’ve been fighting with some of you guys. I’m sorry. But it’s because I’ve had hard stuff to deal with. My dad got arrested and I don’t know when he’s coming home.”

We all chanted, “Thank you for sharing as she started to cry in the arms of the child next to her.

I acknowledged her for being so brave before the girl who found the deceased family member had a turn. She looked at her sobbing friend with wide eyes and shared. “I haven’t been acting great. But it’s because I had a loss of my cousin.”

What happened next gave me chills. Three more children shared how a parent was in jail and how that loss haunted them. Other children tearfully shared their parents’ divorce and how lonely they felt. But as we went around the circle so many of these ten year-olds told their grieving classmates how sorry they were. Time and again I heard, “I’m sorry for your loss and I’m here for you.”

We passed the talking stick around multiple times that day and each time we did a new child revealed loss or pain. Each time we did his/her classmates spoke up in loving support.

And when we were finally done I held the talking stick and said, “We’ve discovered  something very special today. That we all have sad things to deal with. Things that are out of our control. But we also have this amazing communityto support and help us. I am so proud of how brave and kind all of many of you were. When you’re sad, remember this support and let it hold you up.”