You Make My Face Smile

olivai whit

When I look into your eyes
It’s like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
Well, there’s so much they hold
And just like them old stars
I see that you’ve come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul?
-Jason Mraz

how_old_is_your_soul__by_pulimcartoon-d58x695

Songs are a form of poetry, expressing something that has deeper meaning for the author or that the author feels will resonate in the hearts of its listeners. Artists often talk about how therapeutic songwriting is for them and this is a quality that writing in general holds for many people, myself included. Getting words down on paper is a freeing process that helps heal the soul. And sometimes, if you share your stories with others, it can make an impression on their pages as well. This is why we often feel emotional when listening to certain songs. The lyrics flow through us like new blood. The ink that the songwriter bled on its pages is now rushing through us like a wave, unearthing feelings that we may have buried deep inside of us just as an ocean sifts through the sand layers to find hidden treasures. Music has a way of doing that: bringing out things that we keep submerged deep within our souls. And so does poetry.

water fault in satart

I chose to begin this post with the Jason Mraz lyrics above because they reminded me of a little poet I had recently read about. Her name is Olivia Whitman. She is nine-years old and has a remarkable story about a wish to share her poetry with others around her in order to “make their faces smile.” Please watch the video below:

Olivia has clearly been through a lot in the past year, but her poetry helped her get through those tough times. Because Olivia was willing to share her story with the world through her poetry, ours will now be touched by the words she used to heal herself. As she said, “When I was feeling sad, it helped me to feel a lot better.” It is remarkable that such a young child chose the gift of making others smile as her one wish from the Make-a-Wish Foundation. But then again, I have happened upon so many children like this during my time at the hospital that it does not come as a surprise to me. There are so many children out there that are going through things that are extremely difficult for even a grown person to go through and yet they still seem to find their light and want so much to spread it to those around them. Olivia’s poetry is sure to become a source of comfort for many little girls and boys battling cancer and other diseases in the world because, although they are not in musical form, her words sing of hope and smiles and new beginnings.

you make my face smile

Live your life
Shout out loud
Have some fun
And make a crowd
-Olivia Whitman

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Motherhood

giving daisy

Today in church I heard a woman humming to “Trumpet Voluntary” as it was playing on the organ in the background. Normally I would think nothing of this. Many people sing and hum to the music during church. But this time it was different because the humming turned to sniffling. You never know what is going on people’s lives. Perhaps she was thinking about her mother who is no longer with us or maybe she has lost a child to whom she was a mother. It could have been anything. Maybe that song reminded her of a bad memory…or a good one. You just never know. I turned and gave a small smile to her, but left with that song on my mind.

“Trumpet Voluntary” is typically played at weddings, but parts are often heard being played at church on normal Sundays. You can listen to it below:

So, why did it stick out to me so much today? Because today is Mother’s Day. A song that is played at weddings does not hold significance to me on Mother’s Day because matrimony is the first step towards motherhood, because that is not always the case. Mothers are created every day, in different ways. A mother who births a child is not the only type that exists in our world. Blood is not what creates the motherly bond, but rather love.

not my flesh of flesh

The significance of “Trumpet Voluntary” being played on this day lies in a deeper place for me. Weddings are one source of new beginnings in our world. They mark the start of a new life, one that has never been known before. The same goes for motherhood. Mothers are the ultimate source of new life. They have a hand in turning the life cycle of the world. A woman has a child. A woman adopts a child. A woman loves a child. A mother is born. A child is born. A bond is created. A child grows up to become a mother and the cycle begins again.

mothers day

If love was like DNA, motherhood would be the bonds that connected its counterparts like fatherhood, friendship, passion, humility, etc. These are all equally important in the makeup of love but they need something to hold them together. Now, I am not saying a father cannot raise a child and have just as special a bond with them as a mother does. Fathers are part of the creation too. But motherhood is something above gender. It can only be found in the soul. Although it is not present in all people, the potential for it is. Everyone holds inside of them a source of life. It is up to them to turn it into the special bond that is motherhood. We have so much to learn from that. So much to thank our mothers and mother-figures for. Which brings me to share the poem below:

Lessons Mother Taught Us

She planted dill for swallow-tails
and milkweed where monarchs would lay
their caterpillar offspring round
the grass green meadows of May.

The migrants returned then as always;
how quickly her crops were consumed!
but countless chrysalides dotted the dell
tucked inside their golden cocoons.

Then early one morning she beckoned
us watch the mystery unfold;
the metamorphosis almost complete
translucent shells gave up their gold.

Wet wings greeted the rising sun
and the warmth of a soft summer breeze,
soon butterflies coloured meadow and wood
floating gracefully throughout the trees.

She told us of unseen transcendings
as we watched the born-agains soar;
so certain were we then of heaven
as if we had been there before.

J.D. Deutschendorf

every ending is a new beginning

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers, mothers-to-be, mothers-in-training, mothers at heart, mothers in heaven, and mothers of angels. We have you to thank for all the butterflies in our world and know that you are our only window through which to peek into heaven.

To my mother, I love you. You are my lighthouse and my sail. With you I can see through the darkest nights and soar across endless seas. Happy Mother’s Day to the best mom in the whole wide world. Without you, I would not be me.

mom and i

P.S. Thanks for dressing me like Little Miss Muffet.

Pearls of Wisdom

pearls

Oysters create pearls by swallowing something hard. True beauty is born from perseverance and how you decide to act in the face of adversity. So really, the phrase, “pearls of wisdom” makes sense. Wisdom is arguably one of the most coveted beauties in the world and you can’t become wise without facing difficult experiences. That is what creates wisdom. That and the ability to recognize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

By watching the short clip below you can see the process. A grain of sand or parasite lodges itself into the oyster, causing discomfort. To protect itself, the oyster then envelopes this “intruder” with layer after layer of nacre. After a few years, this original source of irritation has become a smooth and illustrious pearl. This process is one of nature’s most prized secrets and even with all of our technology, we are still not able to reproduce it outside of an oyster.

The same goes for wisdom. You can read book after book, philosophize and analyze and dismantle our world, but the only place you can truly find wisdom is within yourself. The capacity to protect yourself from uncomfortable situations is innate in all of us, but it is only when you figure out how to turn your obstacles into things to be learned from that will you begin to form pearls.

can't teach wisdom

When you think of wisdom you probably think of someone really old, someone who has lived a long life and learned a lot from it. But do you know who the first person I thought of when trying to figure out who has bestowed upon me and the world innumerable pearls of wisdom? A 15-year old. Anne Frank.

photo (8)

“I don’t want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful and bring enjoyment to all people, even those I’ve never met. I want to go on living even after my death.”

And that she did. Pearls are said to be timeless. Her pearls are timeless. You can never go wrong by throwing on a pearl necklace and you can never go wrong by listening to the words of Anne Frank.

Here are some of my favorites:

give something kindness

This is what all1story is all about. We can all make a difference. Anne did so through her writing. Although she did not know at the time, her story has touched the lives of generations of people. We all have a little bit of Anne’s ink on our pages. It’s up to us to use it to form our own words which will hopefully slowly turn into wisdom.

its up to you

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

Have you ever felt bad after helping someone? Do you sit up at night regretting the decision to donate money to a charity you follow? Has this ever led to your demise? No. And it never will. Prioritize your time, your money, your heart. Figure out where it really needs to be and then you will become the richest person in the world.

Giving-Quotes-What-I-spent-I-had-what-I-saved-I-lost-what-I-gave-I-have

“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”

If everyone was dark and evil, would their character still be considered darkness? It takes an opposition: light, to define darkness. And at the same time this is also what defies it. Again, oppositions defy us, but we must instead use them to define us as something good. Let evil in the world be a source of bringing out the goodness in others, proving that it does exist, and again, swallowing the oppositions that challenge us in order to come out a beautiful pearl.

light-in-darkness

“How noble and good everyone could be if every evening before falling asleep, they were to recall to their minds the events of the whole day and consider exactly what has been good and bad. Then without realizing it, you try to improve yourself at the start of each new day.”

I love this one. What a simple and yet wonderful idea. Last year for Mother’s Day I bought two of those “One Line a Day” journals (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/p/home-gift-one-line-a-day-a-five-year-memory-book/23135046) and said to my mom that each night we should write down something that day that made us happy and then we would go over it together each year to help us realize that it’s usually the little things in life that mean the most to us. But now I’m thinking that I may change it to writing one thing down that made me happy and one thing I could improve on. It could be as simple as, my friend was telling me a story and I didn’t give her my full attention because I was distracted by something. That way, the next day I can reach out to that friend and ask them about what it was they were trying to tell me to let them know that I do actually care and want to be there for them. And it wouldn’t be a time to bereave myself for bad behavior. It’s not about sitting up at night analyzing every little thing I did wrong during the day, but rather simply acknowledging the events that happened and waking up with a will to change myself just a little bit each day. Balancing this with something that made me happy that day will truly make for a wonderful catalyst for healthy growth as an individual and a better outlook on life. And to Anne I say: Challenge accepted.

one a day book

“Human greatness does not lie in wealth or power, but in character and goodness.”

This can apply to so many things and as you know I believe that many of the substantial pillars of our lives are connected. For example, if you enter a relationship because of money, you will end up unhappy. The same goes for a job. Sure, the pay may seem wonderful in the beginning but if the job doesn’t make you feel good and it doesn’t fuel your passion then there is no way of ever achieving happiness in it. A promotion won’t do that. The same way a new diamond necklace won’t make you any more satisfied in a relationship with someone who doesn’t have the same character and values as you. So believe in your passion and follow your heart. In our society today, that may be the path less travelled by, but nonetheless it is the one the leads to happiness. And as Anne says, “We all live with the objective of being happy; our lives are all different and yet the same.”

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“I believe that even bad people are truly good at heart.”

It’s funny how much optimism is present in the minds of the young. Preteen Anne had faith in the goodness of everyone around her despite the horrific things that were happening in the world at the time. If one person deserved to be bitter about mankind, I think she would have been it. But, instead she said things like this. Young minds have a way of doing that. When I was younger I made up a prayer to say every night which included blessing all my family members (I listed them out individually…God bless my mother for listening to it) and things I was thankful for and at the end I said, “And make all the bad guys good.” So at five, I may not have been quite as wise as Anne; but it’s funny to think about how children’s minds work. I didn’t say “Get rid of all the bad guys,” but instead wanted them to become good people. This is something we should take from children: their ability to see the good in everything. And their ability to believe that anything is possible.

john-lennon-quote-happy-children

Don’t become too jaded that you forget that you too once saw the world through the innocent eyes of a child. Wisdom is not saved for our elders years. It is an ongoing process that takes years to craft. Just like the formation of a pearl.

So, thanks Anne. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. The world wouldn’t be the same without it.

Netherlands Anne Frank

The text translates to: “This is a photo taken as I would wish myself to look all the time. Then I would maybe have a chance to come to Hollywood.”
What she Anne didn’t know at the time of creating this caption was that she would one day become more cherished and famous than any Hollywood actress of her time….and she’d also be dripping in pearls.