#OnlytheGood – Volume 4

Last night we walked along the Charles river. The moon was full and glorious. We looked across the river at the Boston skyline, the full moon gracing the sky, and for a few minutes, all was well.

This edition of #Onlythegood brings you a baby and a cat, an artist who paints for cancer patients, a story about a child of two worlds, and a link to third culture kid blogs and resources. Enjoy!

That Time #Ramona Made Everyone Smile for a Few Minutes. In the midst of all of the catastrophic news on Monday, National Public Radio had what they initially thought was a major failure on social media.  A personal post was put onto the official NPR site by a man named Christopher Dean Hopkins. It was a picture of his daughter, Ramona and a cat. The caption read as follows:

First Ramona post!

He realized his mistake a few minutes later and put up another post, apologizing. The unanticipated positive response was overwhelming! Basically, in the midst of all the awful news, people loved seeing a picture of a baby with a cat and the humorous caption along with it. People are begging for more of #Ramona. Tweets, posts, and more hashtags are popping up all over the place. The rallying cry is “Give us more #Ramona!”

It makes one stop and pause for a minute. We are starving for good news. We are aching to read something positive. We are overwhelmed with the bad, the horror, the tragedies and we long for good things – like babies and cats and funny captions. This doesn’t make us shallow – it makes us realize we are human and we can only handle so much that we can do nothing about.

But a cat and a baby? That’s something to smile about. 

Jonathan the Painter – Jonathan picked up a paintbrush when his father was diagnosed with cancer in 2003. He hasn’t stopped painting. As the artist in residence at both Massachusetts General Hospital and Boston Medical Center, Jonathan paints with and for cancer patients. On Wednesdays, my husband wanders up to see him and chat. They have become friends through a mutual love of art and Rockport, Ma. Jonathan’s studio is on Bearskin Neck in Rockport and you can browse his paintings to an ocean view. I love that Jonathan uses his work for cancer patients. His website describes his journey with these words:

“Welcome to my world of color and texture and energy and emotion. My artwork is inside out. Inspired by the stories, the journey, and the tides. By the victories and the defeats. The sunrises and sunsets. I first picked up a brush when my Dad was diagnosed with cancer in 2003, and I haven’t put it down since.” 

A Child of Two Worlds –  in Modern Love by Rachel Pieh Jones. This piece is an old beauty! Rachel gave birth to her daughter, Lucy, on the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. This piece is beautiful and has now been turned into a podcast. Sit down with some tea and take a listen! You won’t be disappointed.

“Except for when I woke her to nurse, Lucy slept through the first night, her face serene and flawless. I kissed her rosebud lips and smoothed her hair and sang lullabies. This was my Djiboutian American daughter, a perfect combination of my two worlds. Born to American parents, in a Muslim country, on a day of infamy, she epitomized the people and places I had come to love.

While East and West became increasingly polarized over terrorism and religion and politics, Lucy would always remind me of the personal and the human nature behind the news stories.

Fardousa came to check on us during that first night. She stood in the doorway, silhouetted by the hall light, and we smiled at each other. We had done what women throughout the centuries have done and would continue to do, what no divisions or rhetoric or wars could ever stop.

We had brought life and beauty and love into the world.” read the entire piece here.

Blogs for TCKs and their Parents – I’ve updated the blog and book sections of the Third Culture Kid Resource page. You’ll find some excellent blogs and books on those pages so take a look and enjoy perusing some new sources!

#Onlythegood picture – I redecorated this window shelf and love it’s shapes and lines!


That’s all for now! 

#Onlythegood – Volume Two

The Whirr of fans. The chirp of crickets. Distant sounds of our Greek neighbors. The low hum of cars on Memorial Drive. Fading light filtered through lace curtains. Cats lolling lethargically on couches and cool, wooden floors. The cry of a baby.

These are the sounds of late summer. Each day ends a tad sooner, dusk coming and bringing with it the chill of what will soon be Autumn.

With that introduction I want to welcome you back to #Onlythegood – Volume Two. In this week’s edition we have articles and thoughts on home, using tragedy for good, eclipses, an #onlythegood picture, and additions from readers like you!

Please submit #onlythegood items for consideration to communicating blog (at) gmail dot com.


Home in the Spaces by Rachel Pieh Jones

Rachel Pieh Jones writes a beautiful essay about home in the spaces. Rachel has lived overseas a long time and is raising her children between Djibouti and Kenya. She knows what it is to wander, sometimes longing but never lost. Her piece is beautiful and resonated deeply with me.

Here is an excerpt:

When I release my perspective of home and Djibouti and put on my daughter’s, when I find myself living in the holes and looking out from them, I see the back of God. I hear the voice of God declaring his goodness and glory.

I’ve read that many TCKs don’t consider a place home, but rather people. I love that. A home can burn, be flooded, be evacuated, sold. But TCKs find home in the space around people they love and in the space that people they love give to them.

For my TCK then, she finds home in the space to be her Kenyan self that drinks Chai and counts in shillings. Space to be her French self with the perfect accent and all the information you never wanted to know on King Louis the 14th. Space to be her American self that wears skinny jeans and craves adventure and laughs loud. Space to be her Djiboutian self that leaps into the Gulf of Tadjourah and savors the suffocating heat.

Home, for TCKs and their parents, is not a building or a place and probably not even a country. We won’t live here, or there, forever and they know that. 

We live in the holes, the spaces, the in-between places, and we watch for the passing glory of God.


Parents who lost daughter to cancer now raise money for other families in need. This story comes from Columbus, Georgia where a couple has organized a foundation in honor of their six-year-old daughter who died of cancer in 2015. They know what it is like to have their lives completely change with a child’s diagnosis, so they want to help other parents navigate the tough journey. It’s a compelling picture of moving forward with compassion for others, despite your own tragedy.


Mom I’m Fine! Jonathan Kubben decided to quit his job and travel the world. He travels the world with a “Mom I’m Fine” sign. His mom was both skeptical and worried that she would lose contact with him. He decided to stay in contact through pictures with his sign prominently displayed in each picture. To date he has carried the sign with him to 22 countries and counting. And I have to say – I’m so envious of his mom! I wish my kids would do this when they’re away.


Fabric map of Pakistan
#Onlythegood

Imagine if we saw maps in fabric and tapestry instead of in lines and numbers? This map of Pakistan is so beautiful! It gives a complicated country a beautiful presence and for that, I love it.


Last week was full of news of the Eclipse. Annie Dillard’s essay called “Total Eclipse” was available to read for free for a few days from The Atlantic. Here is a quote that I loved:

We never looked back. It was a general vamoose, and an odd one, for when we left the hill, the sun was still partially eclipsed—a sight rare enough, and one which, in itself, we would probably have driven five hours to see. But enough is enough. One turns at last even from glory itself with a sigh of relief. From the depths of mystery, and even from the heights of splendor, we bounce back and hurry for the latitudes of home.

Also, inspired by the quote above, I wrote a piece called Turning Away from Glory.

We climbed out of the car on Saturday night to a dark sea of shining stars. The night was clear and perfect, there was no light pollution to block our view. “Let’s lay on our backs and look at the stars!” said my younger daughter. The 25 year-old negotiated with the 57 year-old and we opted for chairs on an upstairs balcony. We settled in and gazed upward. All those glorious stars, light years from where we were…..


From Readers: 

Emma Ahmed brought my attention to the group she works with in Pakistan – Ansaar Management Company. Their mission is to provide good quality, affordable homes for the hard-working people of Pakistan. Check out their Facebook page here. 

Jo Hoyle sent this lovely story of a man who built a pool in his yard for neighborhood children to use. Lonely after his wife died, he decided to fill his yard and heart with noise. Take a look at the article here.

That’s it for this week!

#Onlythegood – Volume One

 

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#Onlythegood – On Tuesday, I felt particularly low about our world, but at dusk I took a walk on the river with our two youngest children. The river, the view, the adult kids – all of it converged to make me sigh and say “This is Good.”

Readers, in light of the overabundance of tragic news from around the world, I am beginning a new project. Every Thursday I will be posting links to things that have happened in our world that are good; activities and people who bring humor, light, and justice to our world. I would love for you to participate.

Each week I hope to bring your attention to one picture and five different articles, essays, or events that speak to that which is good.

If you see something during the week that stood out to you, that made you smile and say “this is good!” then please send it on! I will feature it and attribute the content to you.

#Onlythegood 

New Citizens Hold Their Heads High, 102 Floors Above New York:

On Tuesday, high above the city on the 102nd floor of the One World Trade Center, 30 immigrants were sworn in as citizens of the United States. A judge who is the son of a refugee from Nazi Germany presided over the ceremony, the first ever to be held at this observatory.

“How fortunate we are to have you here, contributing your hopes, your aspirations, your skills, your heritages, your music, your culture, your literature, your food to the tapestry of this nation…The American story is your story.” Judge Katzmann, chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

PSG’s Neymar becomes Ambassador for Handicap International

Football (Soccer for Americans) star, Neymar, who made a huge move from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain earlier this month, is using his fame to promote Handicap International’s work giving dignity and empowering those who live with disabilities. Neymar will be acting as ambassador for Handicap International.

Neymar, wearing a T-shirt with “repair lives” written on the front, appeared in Switzerland on Tuesday, standing on top of a 39-foot wooden sculpture entitled “Broken Chair,” which the organisation said was “erected 20 years ago by Handicap International in front of the United Nations headquarters in Geneva to call for a ban on antipersonnel landmines.”

“I would like to begin by thanking you all for what you do for the least visible in the world, so they become more visible. I have to say that I am very pleased to be here and to be the new ambassador.”

“I Love Pakistan’s People More than it’s Mountains”

It’s not surprise how much I love my adopted country, so I read this article about a British mountaineer with a smile. Vanessa O’Brien is a 52-year-old American-British mountaineer who recently scaled K-2, one of the highest mountains in the Himalayan range and a mountain that is more difficult to climb than Mount Everest. Only 400 people have made the climb, and Vanessa is the 20th woman to successfully reach the summit. She carried both Pakistani and America flags to the top. On Tuesday, she said that the warmth and love she received in Pakistan was matchless.

O’Brien told media in a news conference at a local hotel here that she had found Pakistani people loving and caring. “I love Pakistan, its people and will like to travel it again,”

Blogger’s note: If you would like to see some beautiful pictures of some of the mountains in Pakistan, take a look here.

Malala Yousafzai, Shot by the Taliban, Is Going to Oxford

I still remember writing the story in 2012 about Malala called 14-Year-Old Courage. As most of you know, Malala was only 14 when she was shot in the head and neck while leaving her school in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. And today the news comes that she is going to Oxford! It is an amazing accomplishment by an amazing young woman.

“Amid the rush of joy, disappointment or dashed expectations for the thousands of students across Britain receiving their A-level results, Ms. Yousafzai’s news carried special weight on social media. The author Emma Kennedy wrote simply, ‘Take that, Taliban.'” 

5 Tips To Reduce Stress Using Humor, Your Best Weapon

We laugh in our family. A Lot. Nothing is beyond humor, there is little that is so sacred or sad that we can’t see a lighter side. In fact, I believe that laughter is a holy gift and I often wonder what it would be like to sit with Jesus and enjoy laughter – not at someone else’s expense, but just to laugh at the whimsy of life.

“The signs of stress are all too familiar: the quickening heartbeat, tense muscles and explosive reaction to something small. Avoiding situations that test your patience may be impossible, but it is possible to reduce stress accompanying these unpleasant events. The secret, say the experts, lies in one crucial art: finding the humor….Humor and laughter are not the same, explains Dr. Steven Sultanoff, Ph.D, clinical psychologist and professor at the University of Berkeley. ‘Humor is something that triggers laughter. Laughter is a physical response.’ Although research has found that laughter can lessen the effects of depression and reduce stress levels, focusing on humor is the best starting point. Looking for the humor in a moment, says Sultanoff, changes how we think, feel and process difficult situations.”

Lastly, I want end with a beautiful poem that speaks to our great need for healing.

A Prayer for a Torn Nation

by Kaitlin Curtice

Somewhere between the “us” and “them”

you’re holding together the least of these.

Somewhere completely outside of all of this,

you are ushering in a kingdom not of this world,

one that rights all wrongs and rules in love.

***

Unite in full grace all that is divided.

Mend in full love all that is torn.

Resurrect us, we pray.


What is your #Onlythe good thing to share? I would love to hear it through the comments!