Thanks for the Hope!

The evidence that people have hope for a more peaceful and compassionate world can pop up at some unexpected moments. Our local independent bookstore, Bank Square Books, is offering an unusual window display as we make our way through the holidays. Rather than using precious window display space to tempt the passerby to buy beautiful books, they have created a tableau of hundreds of small, yellow post-it notes – each describing something the contributor is grateful for. From across the street, it looks like a constellation of tiny square stars.  Up close, it is a delightful collage of how people pay attention to goodness surrounding us. At the end of this unsettling and frightful year, this window is a small oasis in the middle of downtown for the community to eavesdrop  on a collective sprinkling of grateful moments, each just a few words. David Schiller says in The Little Zen Companion that words can never be a substitute for experience. “Reading about fruit just isn’t the same as biting into a warm peach. But give the words time to work, and you might find – not the truth, but a glimpse.” Many people are struggling to survive tragedies, abuse, precarious life situations, and how to understand what actually is true. What action can we participate in that will keep our sense of communal hope alive when one tragedy is followed by another and another? After the mass shooting of children and teachers in Newtown, Connecticut, Deepak Chopra offered some suggestions for behaviors that can give hope to those who are suffering and feeling hopeless. He suggests that we should pause over […]

In Celebration of Nurses.

  During National Nurses Week we acknowledge the excellence and dedication of those who choose the nursing profession. It begins each year on May 6th and ends on May 12th, Florence Nightingale’s birthday. I grew up surrounded by nurses in a nursing home that my family owned and operated from the mid 1940s until 1960. We lived in a rural area and my mother’s skills as a Registered Nurse also made her the go-to person for many emergencies around the village – cuts, burns, and even broken bones, head injuries and emotional problems. I can see my mother calmly cleaning and dressing a bloody wound after a neighbor fell from a ladder and, on another occasion, carefully positioning a child’s possibly broken leg after a fall from a tree. Eventually, a doctor might arrive. But watching my mother and her colleagues in action, day after day, offered me firsthand knowledge that nurses were unsung heroines who never hesitated to respond to an emergency. Nurses in war zones and military settings have done their job quietly and largely unnoticed as well, putting their lives in peril on the battlefield for centuries. Yet, little is known about their experiences in war or exactly how many participated. Appropriate financial remuneration in the nursing profession has also been meager and long in coming. Only at the end of the twentieth century did nurses’ pay, both in military and civilian life, begin to become commensurate with the risks and responsibilities of their jobs. Many women served as nurses during the Revolutionary War, but they are barely mentioned in history books. The Second Continental […]

The Noah Bean to David Bowie Transformation

  In the world of show business, there are many fables about how actors and musicians succeed. My son, Noah Bean, who has been a professional actor for almost twenty years, says that it takes at least ten years to become an overnight success – and even then you may have to start over the morning after. Noah graduated from Boston University with a BFA in Acting and attended the Royal Shakespeare Academy along the way, as well as the London Academy of Music and Drama. In other words, he was prepared, but his continued success – while sometimes resembling a roller-coaster ride – has been the result of staying in the ring in spite of long layoffs and tough choices. His recent portrayal of David Bowie is a tribute to Noah’s grace and humanity, and his desire to be generous towards others in a world that is highly competitive and ruthless. His generosity towards me is huge. Without his help I would never have achieved the writing of my memoir about my first husband who was killed in Vietnam. He encouraged me, read draft after draft, and created and narrated the book trailer. There are great humans in this world, and I’m proud that my son is one of them. I look forward to watching his career unfold, over and over, with more and more overnight success stories.

National Nurses Week 2015: Celebrating Those Who Care

  During National Nurses week 2015, from May 6 – 12,  we acknowledge and celebrate the excellence and dedication of those who choose the nursing profession. I grew up surrounded by nurses in a nursing home that my family owned and operated. The patients were mostly elderly people who had the usual physical and mental problems related to aging, but we lived in a rural area and my mother’s skills as a Registered Nurse also made her the go-to person for many emergencies around the village – cuts, burns and even broken bones, head injuries and emotional problems. I can see my mother calmly cleaning and dressing a bloody wound caused by broken glass and, on another occasion, carefully positioning a child’s possibly broken leg after a fall from a tree. Eventually, a doctor might become involved, but watching my mother and her colleagues in action day after day offered me firsthand knowledge that nurses, always women in those days, were unsung heroines. Nurses in war zones and military settings have done their job quietly and largely unnoticed as well, putting their lives in peril on the battlefield for centuries. Yet, little is known about their experiences in war or exactly how many participated. Even appropriate financial remuneration has been meager and long in coming. Only at the end of the twentieth century did nurses’ pay, both in military and civilian life, begin to become commensurate with the risks and responsibilities of their jobs. Many women served as nurses during the Revolutionary War, but they are barely mentioned in history books. The Second Continental Congress, heeding George Washington’s advice […]