Thursday, October 22, 2009

Peace on Earth-A Question for YOU!

I am an English as a Second Language teacher in Washington State. In my class, I have students from around the world. They come from different countries, religions, customs, traditions, and backgrounds. I feel so lucky to spend time with the world in my class. Somehow, when we come together each day, we are able to see beyond our differences. Our differences make us unique, but I have found, in my class, that we are more alike than you think. All of us strive to meet our basic human needs of food, water, shelter, safety, etc. Beyond that, most people feel love, peace, happiness, and care for the planet and the things on it are important. This morning I realized that 31 countries have visited my blog. Here they are in order of the number of visitors from each country:

USA, India, Australia, Canada, South Korea, United Kingdom, Indonesia, Germany, Netherlands, Japan, United Arab Emirates, Sweden, Austria, Turkey, Israel, Brazil, Italy, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Latvia, Estonia, Mongolia, Kiribati, Taiwan, Philippines, Kenya, Thailand, France, South Africa, Egypt, and Singapore.

Peace, in my mind, means living in harmony with each other and with this earth we live on. By achieving peace, we may have to go beyond boundaries of race, religion, politics, countries, etc.

How are YOU, as a citizen of this world, helping to achieve peace on earth?

This may seem like a very BIG question, but the answer may be quite simple. It may be as simple as how you choose to live on a daily basis.

I'd like to share some of your answers in a blog post. So please leave a comment at the end of this post. Don't be afraid to leave a comment. Your comment may be helpful to many people.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Thank You Brazil

This week I was attacked. I felt this heaviness that would not lift. Yesterday, after my first class at the college, I could barely move. My upper jaw and head hurt so bad, I thought my brain would explode. I found myself in my car driving in the direction of home, even though I had one more evening class. I went right to bed. My husband held a yoga class in the other room. Seven people moved silently in my living room, feeling themselves from the inside out. I imagined their bodies moving in unison, connecting to a universal self. I started to feel a sense of relief come over me and a sense of peace. I still felt a slight headache, but I felt I would be o.k.

Lately, Brazil has been in my world. This quarter I have two students from Brazil and both of them are so lovely. I've never had a Brazilian student before, now I have two! One of them is going to bring traditional cake to class today.

I was also deeply touched by Brazilian Paulo Coelho's book The Alchemist. I went to Barnes and Noble Bookstore last weekend to research magazines. I planned to submit some of my writing to a few magazines. The pile of magazines felt heavy in my hands, so I put them back. I wandered upstairs and found my husband in the Religion and Philosophy section of the bookstore. I sat down on a small stool and did nothing. Suddenly, from the corner of my eye, I saw The Alchemist. I had seen this book many times before, but have never been interested in it. This time, as a I held it in my hands, I knew it was my time to read it. As I read it, I felt the book was speaking to me directly.

In the Introduction, Paulo Coelho talks about personal calling. He says, "Whenever we do something that fill us with enthusiasm, we are following our legend. However, we don't all have the courage to confront our own dream." Later, he talks about four obstacles:

1. "We are told from childhood onward that everything we want to do is impossible."

2. "Love. We know what we want to do, but are afraid of hurting those around us by abandoning everything in order to pursue our dream."

3. "Fear of defeat" or fear of failure while following our dream.

4. "The fear of realizing our dream for which we fought for all our lives."

The book is about a shepherd boy from Spain who travels all the way to the Egyptian Pyramids in search of his dream. I couldn't put it down. I feel Paulo Coelho followed his personal calling. He achieved the exact things he described in this book. He followed his own legend. His book, an international best seller, sold 65 million copies in 150 countries and has been translated into 60 languages!

Last night, I felt the rhythm of the people doing yoga in the other room. I felt peace. With my headache subsiding, I decided to finish reading The Alchemist. I read the last words and put the book on my bed stand and said, "Thank you Brazil" and closed my eyes.

This morning I woke up to find that over 500 people in more than 28 countries have visited my blog. The most recent visitor??...........You guessed it, Brazil!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bring an Open Mind: An Evening of Song and Dance in Honor of the Kiribati People

Last weekend, I was invited to an interesting event in Seattle on the waterfront by my friend. She invited us to a botaki. I had no idea what that was. She explained that is was an event where we would celebrate with song and dance of the Kiribati (pronounced kiri-bas) people. The Kiribati islands are located in the South Pacific along the equator. My friend's mother and stepfather sail there often. They spend most of their time living on their sailboat or with the Kiribati people in their village. This is very rare. According to my friend, there are very few people who know the Kiribati people intimately. They don't allow many outsiders into their culture. Julie and Tom spent so much time in the Kiribati islands, that they were adopted by several families on the islands. The elders of the islands are dying and so are their traditions. Julie and Tom have been recording the traditions of these people and have been preserving their song and dance. It is beautiful, to me, to see all the love they have for such a far-off land and such a different tradition. They have sacrificed their own comforts to live with these people and to learn from them. All the discomforts they have encountered are unnoticeable. In the botaki, Julie and Tom displayed a tremendous joy. They danced and sang and there was an enormous amount of food for everyone.

We could not help but feel uplifted up by this event. People from Asia, Africa, America, South America and other countries all came together to experience this intimate evening of celebration in a private home in West Seattle overlooking Puget Sound. The full moon was quite appropriate and seemed to symbolize how I felt that evening.....I felt full of all that is good.

When I was invited to the event, I wasn't sure what to expect. It was something I didn't quite understand. At the same time, I was curious and it sounded fun. I asked my friend what I should bring and she said, "Bring an open mind." So that's what I did. Here's the information we received from Julie before the botaki:


We are very excited that you will be joining us on Saturday for our celebration of unity with the Kiribati Elders and people. The theme for our botaki is E Naaka O.

E Naaka O refers to departure from the known, from routine, from the old, the seen, the everyday, from all you know and impart to others. E Naaka O---it is the wisdom of the Soft Wind blowing, cleansing, purifying, renewing, testing, changing, transforming.

The Elders say we live in the time of the dark moon, but that amid the encroaching darkness there is a tender blossoming that occurs, like the rare Pandanus bloom, the sacred Mataboro— the young, innocent flower that holds its love and promise for us all. It can be seen, felt, and heard in the stillness of your loving heart. It is an opening of great beauty, and the moment is now. (A picture of my husband, Seong Yoon, receiving a fern crown from a dancer)

We will celebrate E Naaka O with the traditional Kiribati dance, called the mwaie. This ancient dance comes from the ancestors of the Kiribati people. The mwaie is sacred and multi-dimensional. It is much more than what you see--an energetic dance in colorful costume. It is a sacred vehicle for journeying into the Beyond, a language that draws Spirit near, and a magic that draws people into unity, strength and happiness.

The dancers have been preparing themselves for many weeks for this day of merging and rising with Spirit. When Spirit comes, it can be very strong. Sometimes, the dancers cry, tremble, shake or scream. This is not nerves. It is the power of the flow passing through. It is different for each dancer, and different every time.

When this happens, you, too, may feel something. This is normal and good. The energies of the mwaie are very healing and uplifting. Take them in. They only bring goodness.

Below is a video of botaki that evening:

PBS Now had this to say about the danger the Kiribati people face:

Week of 12.12.08

Paradise Lost

Just this week, a top UN official predicted that by the middle of this century, the world should expect six million people a year to be displaced by increasingly severe storms and floods caused by climate change. But for many island nations in the South Pacific, climate change is already more than just a theory—it is a pressing, menacing reality. These small, low-lying islands are frighteningly vulnerable to rising temperatures and sea levels that could cause flooding and contaminate their fresh water wells. Within 50 years, some of them could be under water. This week, NOW travels to the nation of Kiribati to see up close how these changes affect residents' daily lives and how they are dealing with the reality that both their land and culture could disappear from the Earth. We also travel to New Zealand to visit an I-Kiribati community that has already left its home, and to the Pacific Island Forum in Niue to see how the rest of the region is coping with the here-and-now crisis of climate change.

According to Julie, my friend's mother, The Kiribati are already dealing with contaminated water. Tom and Julie are trying to bring a water purifying system to the islands, but it is expensive. During the last Tsunami that hit Samoa, the Kiribati were prepared to die. According to my friend, they all gathered in the center part of the village to wait for their death, but when it didn't happen, they just carried on as usual. More horrors of global warming can be expected to hit this part of the world, but the people, who have lived the same way for thousands of years, do not appear to be in fear of this. How sad it is that a people who have only sought to live in harmony with nature are the very ones that will most likely be destroyed by it due to the modern world that continues to pollute it. It seems a bit unfair, in my mind, but these people continue to dance and sing and live in harmony with what remains.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Blogs I Follow

Hello everyone-the time is long overdue to share some amazing blogs with you. I'm particulary interested in blogs that describe interesting personal experience, talk about travel, spirituality or blogs that seek to promote positive change in the world. I love stories about people in search of their true selves...this seeking, questioning, wondering and observing and eventually finding is what I also hope to share in my blog. These are blogs I currently follow, but I am always seeking more blogs.

1. Chornicles of Sharnia
A story about an Australian woman who lived a city life in Australia and worked on a major newspaper there, moved to the countryside to help her father, fell in love with a farmer, went to Vietnam to teach English, found out she was pregnant, went back to the countryside with the farmer to raise her son. Sharni is always seeking and I love that! She recently interviewed me on her blog. You can check out the link here:

2. Wandering Photographer
An Irish photographer who wanders the countryside and camps out for days just to get a beautiful picture. He is also a seeker. He writes about his own observations and questions about life. He is the author of a beautiful photography book entitled Portrait of the Northern Ireland Coast.

3. Mes Joies et Chagrins
An Indian writer. We chatted recently. She is another observer and one of her recent posts talks of the poverty on the streets of India and her own questions of how and why she is so fortunate, while others are not. She prompted me to write my Incredible India diaries on my blog.

4. Woodstock Lily
While I have never talked personally to this amazing writer, I am inspired by her story. She was in a major car accident and still suffers from PTSD. After the car accident, her life changed drastically. She created a whole new persona, started a blog, did art and is working on a book called Six Days to Haight-Ashbury

5. Lotus Sutra Chronicles
O.K.-I love this blog because it's about Korea from an American English Teacher's perspective. I can relate to this and it brings me back to my time there. Often quite humorous!

6. Alone in Holy Land
This blog authors writes about her trials and tribulations of raising a young girl in Israel. She is also a seeker and an insightful observer of what is important in life.

7. Ruby Ramblings
A collections of books, places, pictures and stories. This blog author is also an English teacher in South Korea and has some interesting observations on living there.

Hope you enjoy these great blogs as much as I have. Peace to you all,