Monday, December 22, 2014

The NYPD are my brothers, and YOURS too...

I hesitate posting political or controversial issues on my blog because, unlike my Facebook page, for the most part this place has become a channel for parents and teachers to come who support mindful parenting and education.  People who are frankly many of my clients.  People I respect and value and hope not to offend.  

But, this blog has also always been a place for me to share my life and post about my family.

And the NYPD is *MY* family.

I come from a long, proud line of NYPD officers.  My grandfather came to New York from Ireland and became a police officer supporting his two boys, his niece and his wife by risking his life each day as a cop.  When my father and my uncle grew up, they too became part of the NYPD.  My dad put 27 years in protecting the citizens of New York City.  It took its toll on many aspects of his life but he loved his job and was damn good at it.

I too took the NYPD test when I was 17.  And when I was 21, I got called to duty.  At that time, I was a single mother and while the idea of continuing my family legacy and having a good job with wonderful benefits was tempting, I was not willing to risk my life each day for others - leaving my little girl with no mother so I declined.

I was not as brave as the men and women who walk those streets each day for you and I.

Now my two little brothers are both NYPD police officers.  I do not see them as much as I wish I did but my heart is with them every day that they go into work during this very difficult and dangerous time.  A time when officers are being spit upon, mocked and disrespected all over the internet and in on the streets.

What happened to the days that we would "thank an officer"?  How must it feel to give so much of yourself and be smacked in the face with such disrespect?

I remember as a little girl holding my dad's hand while he was in uniform filled with pride that *MY* daddy was a hero who was brave and protected others from harm.  He wore that badge with pride and got up every day and went into work knowing at any moment he could be killed protecting people he didn't even know.

People like you.

When my mom was pregnant with me and he was off-duty, they went for an ice cream at a local Carvel down the road from my grandmother's house.  He was so skilled at scoping out his environment and so mindful of what was going on around him that he noticed through the glass window, before they even went into the ice cream shop, that a burglary was taking place with two masked gunman.  My father, with a pregnant wife and newborn baby on the way... ran AFTER... not away from those two gunmen - off-duty. Capturing one and leading to another's arrest.

What decision would you make off-duty with your family in a situation like that?

He didn't blink.   He didn't have TIME to think about what color they were, where they came from or what their story was.  He had to act... fast.

One second can determine whether or not a police officer lives or dies.  One second.  More importantly, one second of non-action can determine if a pedestrian lives or dies.

There is no way to know what goes through someone's mind when they perceive that they may be in a life or death situation.  There is no way to know if the person they are arresting is just a petty theft or someone who is willing to shoot them point blank in the head in a second flat like the two officers we just lost sitting in their patrol car in New York.

And like the rest of the population, there are good cops and there are bad cops.  They are people and some people suck and some people are awesome.  There will be cops that deserve promotions and some that deserve ramifications.  But, MOST of the NYPD that gets up every day and goes to work protecting our communities are GOOD men and women doing their very best.

AND THEY DESERVE RESPECT.

Something that is the most confusing to me during all of this is this vibe being sent around of "Cops verses Black America"... what the hell is this?  The NYPD is as diverse as New York City itself!

(2010 Data) of officers on patrol:

53% Black, Latino (of any race), or Asian or Asian-American
47% Non-Hispanic white. 

You see, cops are not the opposite of African Americans.  They come in all colors, from all classes (many from the very areas they are protecting) and from different religions and sexual orientations. 

And THIS is the whole problem with the negativity that has been slewed all over our television sets, radios and Facebook pages.

Whether or not Eric Garner's death is something that you feel was not addressed with justice, you are being mislead.

You want racial equality and social justice?  So do I.  I want it for all of my girls, not just my biracial daughter.  I want them all to live in a world where we see one another for who we are not the color of our skin, who we date, what we believe or where we live.

You want measures in place to make sure officers do not harm the public intentionally?  I do too.  I support that and I want to be sure if I am ever arrested I am not harmed intentionally...but I also think in the line of work these men and women are in, we need to be realistic.  They are fighting real and dangerous battles and sometimes bad things will happen.

How do YOU know that officer was a racist?  And, if he was... don't let it taint the images of the rest of the NYPD that protect you each day - remember 9-11?


The thing you are not realizing is that you were mislead.  Mislead with your good intentions hoping to change the world for the better.  Even some of my closest loved ones were misled without realizing one very important fact:

The NYPD are YOUR brothers too.  Not just mine.

They are from your churches, your neighborhoods, your streets, your race.  They are your sisters, fathers, brothers, cousins, wives and daughters.  They are all of us.

Just like our country is not perfect, neither is the NYPD.  To create a feeling of distrust and hate for the very men and women who get up each day, risking their lives for YOU not knowing if they will come home safely is unacceptable.

Help create change without creating hate.  Look at where it got us this week.

You see, it is easy to jump on a bandwagon when you want to use it as a way to change the world.  I want that too.  But be careful what bandwagon you jump on...

because you may just be turning your back on your own brothers.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

It's the Winter Solstice!

Deep peace of the winter solstice to you.
Deep peace of the falling snow to you.
Deep peace of the love of friends to you.
Deep peace of the gentle deer to you.
Deep peace of the moon and stars to you.
—Author Unknown 

Today is the Winter Solstice and we had a little flurry of snow this morning to help us get into the spirit.  Christmas is only four days away and I've been busy trying to get the house in order and wrap presents.  I did what I said I would and went much lighter on gifts this year compared to years before but I think I could have even done less and the girls would have had plenty.  It's a work in progress toward true simplicity, I guess.

Over the next six months, the sun will climb higher and higher into the sky, gradually stretching our days longer and warming our earth. This winter solstice, you can enjoy simple acknowledgments of this special time by creating a winter nature table filled with objects that remind you of this time of year, crafting and making winter works of art (we have so many beautiful crafts in our Winter Festivals E-Book if you need inspiration) and making the decision to slow down and be mindful of what is going on both inside and outside of you right now.

A really simple activity to do with children of all ages is stringing berries and popcorn to make garland.  Today or tomorrow would be a perfect time to do this as it will stay fresh toward Christmas day.  You can place this garland as a treat for the birds outside or decorate your indoor tree with them.  All you need is popcorn, cranberries, a needle and thread.  Children will work for hours on this and it is a wonderful way to practice fine motor skills for little ones.  Just keep an eye on the needle but you will be surprised how careful, gentle and capable our children are when given tasks that require their attention like this.


As I go back to my preparations, I leave you with this sweet reminder of why the work we do as parents and caregivers is so important in our hope to one day see peace in our world.  Something that seems so unattainable lately but I still believe change can happen:

If there is light in the soul,
there will be beauty in the person.
If there is beauty in the person,
there will be harmony in the house.
If there is harmony in the house,
there will be order in the nation.
If there is order in the nation,
there will be peace in the world.
—Chinese Proverb 

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Winter Festivals E-Book Winner!

Congratulations to Hillary Brestar for winning a FREE copy of our Winter Festivals E-Book!  (Hillary please contact us at info (at) littleacornlearning.com to claim your prize!)

Today I will be working hard to not stress while I finish up preparing for Christmas.  Going slow, allowing myself enough time and stopping to be mindful of the beauty of the season around me.  It may take a few pauses but I am determined  :)

xoxo

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Less Things, More Experiences (and a Winter Festivals Giveaway!)

It's the crazy holiday season again and I know we all struggle with keeping things magical, yet simple.  I continue to do my best to not let this time of year pull me into the hype of being overwhelmed and over-budget but it's never easy.  And, it's not just the gift-giving and the busyness of the holidays.  There is something else that takes place this time of year, something deeper that still requires me to hold on tight to those things that I should remain grounded to without floating away.

I have to remind myself to slow down, regroup and simplify.  It is not easy for someone like me.  My mind works in creative circles and while fun, it can also be exhausting.  I've been struggling in a lot of areas lately trying to figure out where I am going and what I am doing.  I have to make a conscious decision to stop and determine what I want to do with my time as there is just not enough of it and also where I want to put my energy, paying close attention to where I may be sending it that it not able to take flight.

Redirect.  Refocus.  Over and over again.


My business, my writing, my artwork and my bucket list really need more of my attention and maybe even a reevaluation.  And throw in trying to prepare for Christmas and it is all very overwhelming.  This year the girls left Santa a note asking him to give them less so he could give to others who need it more (my sweeties).  So Santa responded that he would give each girl:

One thing they want
One thing they need
Something to wear
and something to read

Oh how I've always wanted to do this.  I've heard it many times and love it so much.  But, it's sure not as easy as it sounds.  I keep looking at my stash and fighting back the feeling of "this isn't enough".  I even have a few extras that I bought that weren't planned so it adds to the pile.

Of course, I know it *is* enough but even those of us who try to be more mindful can be so conditioned to think they do not have enough.

I wrote this article two years ago and I pull it out each year near Christmas time to remind me to heed my own advice.  Only a few things should lead this holiday season and none of them should be things.

Kindness
Traditions
Family
Love

Brianna found a Ben's Bells in front of our local middle school yesterday.
Her class has been learning about them and she actually came home the other day saying how she wishes one day she will find one herself but she "knows she never will".  She was beyond excited when we did find one and this morning she jumped out of bed SO excited to show her teacher and class.

When you find a Ben's Bells, it is a reminder to practice small acts of kindness and you are able to keep it.  A day after the anniversary of Sandy Hook, it was such a sweet reminder to me and the girls to stay focused on what matters most.  And I like to believe it wasn't a coincidence that Brianna found one.  She's grown so much this past year in so many ways and little joys and successes like this just build upon her journey.

How do you stay grounded during the holidays and throughout the year?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments section and we will gift one lucky reader a free Winter Festivals E-Book randomly by tomorrow night, 12/17.  It is full of fun crafts, recipes and ways that you can celebrate this busy time of year without shopping and racking up debt!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Happy St. Nicholas Eve!

Tonight St. Nicholas comes to many households and leaves small tokens and goodies in children's shoes that are left out.  Sometimes he leaves candies that look like gold coins, gum or apples and fruit.  Simple little things.  Nothing that requires much planning.

Will your children be leaving their shoes out for St. Nicholas tonight?  Is he the same man as Santa Claus in your home?

In addition to our Advent and St. Nicholas Festival E-Book, The Saint Nicholas Center is a beautiful website FILLED with ideas, stories, games and history on St. Nicholas to help you bring this beautiful tradition into your home and fill it with the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season.

And, as a special treat to you for today only:

Happy St. Nicholas Eve! 
What will St. Nicholas leave in your shoe?

Here's a little gift from Little Acorn Learning to YOU!

ONE DAY SALE - 50% OFF our Advent and St. Nicholas Festival E-Book

Get this amazing e-book for only $9.99 to help you celebrate this special evening and 
Advent all month and for years to come!

Act FAST - Sale is for today, December 5th ONLY! 



Wishing you a BEAUTIFUL ST. Nicholas Weekend filled with family, love and peace.  We would love to hear about how you celebrate this beautiful ancient festival day.
xoxo