Celebrating the Best of Nature, and Humanity: 2017 Solar Eclipse Notes
Celebrating the Best of Nature…
2017 Solar Eclipse Notes
Thank you to all for sharing your lovely and inspirational thoughts in response to this month’s Washingtonian Magazine article about Mattie and me. In many ways, the piece is beautiful. But I do want to re-assure everyone that I am still defying all medical odds, and moving through each day with purpose and gratitude and a celebration of life.
I am working and playing and living and praying. Yes, I have many medical challenges and they can be life-threatening, and I rely on much medical support every day – from the ventilator and oxygen to the wheelchair and IV fluids to a pacemaker and more… but despite it all, I look good (yay) and I am doing quite well (super yay).
None of us knows how much time we really have on earth. I guess, like Mattie (and many others who have statistical odds stacked heavily against them due to multiple life-threatening conditions), I am keenly aware of the sacred gift of each moment. So – by choice – I endeavor to give depth to each of those moments, which somehow helps me focus less on length of living.
That said, I also am hoping to reach my goal: “When I grow up, I want to be 83, and a beach chair philosopher.”
I am ever-grateful for ongoing prayers, which I believe has much to do with how well I am doing at this time – despite everything I have been through and continue to go through medically and emotionally.
Today, and each tomorrow, I encourage each of you to take a deep breath, and with purpose, exhale with the words “wow!” (about something or someone in your life) and “thank you!” (about you and your gift of life, and the gift you can choose to be for others).
Moving forthward with hope and gratitude.
Jeni (Mattie’s mom / Mama Peace).
PS — this article should have had a word like “resilience” or “purpose” or “gratitude” or “forthward” or “hope” in the title, and a bit more balance in the text which seemed to highlight the burdens more than the blessings… missed opportunity by the editors, even though the overall piece offers inspiration.
Listen and laugh as this local DJ from the
Jack Diamond Morning Show keeps the
party moving with music & conversation
Enjoy Irish/Celtic music performed by
local judges and courthouse officials,
including King Farm neighbor — Michael Algeo
Be inspired by this local “UPstander” and
peace activist who is an award-winning rapper
Watch local youth and adults share their talent,
respect, and self-control through martial arts
—Click on image to enlarge…-
Birthday & Peace Day
with Mattie’s Foundation,
the City of Rockville and
King Farm Neighbors as we
“Make Peace the News!”
Mattie’s Foundation Treasurer
(Chris Dobbins) will serve as
“guest bartender” at
Signature drinks for the event:
Sunrise Sangria & Sunset Cerveza
(for the adults) and
Tie-Dye Peace Punch
(for both kids & adults).
These signature drinks are
celebrating Mattie’s and
his mom, Jeni’s, favorite colors
and symbols for hope & peace.
donating 15 percent of all
food and drink sales from 3 to 8 pm
to Mattie’s Foundation
to support the peace mission.
will also be celebrating
Peace Day and donating
15 percent of all 3 to 8 pm
food/drink sale proceeds to
will be offering three
“Peace Tea” beverage options
to celebrate the Peace Day Party,
and donating 15 percent of all
food/drink sales from 3-8 pm
to Mattie’s Foundation.
Join us on the KF Village Green
just across from
Botanero & Fontina & Coffee Republic
for FREE entertainment and peace activities,
including a moon bounce and face painting
and cake and conversation
with local leaders, politicians and
families, & neighbors of all ages,
hosted by Mattie’s Foundation,
the City of Rockville, MD and
the King Farm Citizen’s Assembly.
Pleasant Drive and the access road in front of
Botanero and Fontina restaurants
will be closed to accommodate
moon bounces and peace activity tents.
if you would like to be an event
Peace Guide Volunteer.
Mattie J.T. Stepanek created seven NY Times Bestselling books of Heartsongs poetry and Just Peace essays before dying due to neuromuscular disease just before his 14th birthday. He was an award-winning peace advocate and a frequent guest on shows like Oprah, Larry King Live, and Good Morning America. Since his death in 2004, the City of Rockville, Maryland (where Mattie lived during his final years) has proclaimed his birthday as a “Peace Day,” encouraging local citizens to embrace peace through education and celebration, and rooted in information and inspiration provided in Mattie’s messages and materials. His namesake Foundation has been campaigng for a National Peace Day since 2014, with the support of thousands of citizens, celebrities, and politicians — including a former president, senators, congressmen, mayors and other representatives. This party and the mission to bring a day for peace to this country will be featured in an upcomong feature article in the Washingtonian Magazine.
Learn more about Mattie here…-
Learn more about the
National Peace Day Campaign here…
ROWS 1 through 47.5 –
Photos by Event Photographer — Tom Robertson
ROWS 47.5 through end –
Photos posted on Facebook
— by Peace Guides & Peace Day Party participants
Stay up to date on
activities and information
that involve Mattie’s Foundation.
Current news items include:
– Nelson Mandela to be honored with Mattie Peacemaker Award
during We Are Family Foundation Gala, April 28, in New York City
– 30 new Global Teen Leaders take Mattie’s peace vision “forthward”
following the annual Three Dot Dash “Just Peace Summit”
– Mattie’s mom honored by DC Children’s Hospital
for decades of advocacy work on behalf of children & families
– and much much more…
NOTE: Yes — the annual birthday campaign is year round!
You will be celebrated on this page all year,
from January through December!
We HIGHLIGHT the campaign during the months of
Mattie’s anniversary (June 22)
and his birthday (July 17),
but we post supporters year-round!
Last year, more than $5,000 was raised for
Mattie’s Foundation during his
26th Birthday Campaign with 150+ gifts
from Birthday Peace Champions!
Because of these Champions,
we are able to continue sharing
many of our activities and programs
at no cost to global participants.
Let’s make the
2018 Birthday Campaign
amazingly successful, with
gifts that support his peace mission,
and our 2018 theme:
– Mattie J.T. Stepanek
Champions who donate $28 (or more)
to honor Mattie’s 27th birthday may also
offer a brief birthday/peace message
to be posted along with
on the Peace Champions page
You may share gifts as individuals,
as families and groups,
as businesses and organizations.
You may also mail donations to:
Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation
402 King Farm Blvd. #125
Rockville, MD 20850
(Please click on image to enlarge)
Copy & paste this link: http://www.mattieonline.com/?p=24328
“We” as a country, as a nation, are clearly divided, and angry, and hurt, and scared, and making statements – this way or that way – about the need for change. That is evident.
But “WE” – the people of hope and peace and justice and inclusion and celebration of humanity – need not be divided, or dismayed, or disenfranchised, simply because folks so desperate for change somehow were able to turn a blind eye to the intolerance and a deaf ear to the bullying that were such an inherent part of the presidential campaign – and spoke louder on a given day – albeit a given day that will impact years to come.
The election is done. But WE are not – regardless of how we “feel” about the results.
WE must not lose clarity, and we must not allow ourselves to be guided by or empowered by or paralyzed by emotion – whether satisfied with the vote results,or terrified of what is to come, or wondering what difference any one person can make as we move into the future.
WE must be united, more than ever, and seek peace, and make peace, and bring peace – and simply BE the source of hope and peace while we move through the next four years.
WE can choose to respond, not react, to the results of this election.
WE must tell our children, and each other, it will be okay, somehow. And WE must choose to make it okay, by being role models and good neighbors, and by refusing to allow or be blind or deaf to intolerance or bullying – in word or action, in our homes and schools and work places and communities – in any moment or in any space and for any person.
WE must do all we can, as individuals and as families and as communities to ensure that it IS okay – not just for ourselves, but also for our neighbors – of all races and religions and realities.
WE must rise above fear, and anger, and discouragement, and disagreements, and actively tend to hope and peace, and people – one by one and many by many – so that with or despite the voices that happen to have the elected-power to lead, WE are the voices and attitudes and actions that move time and humanity forthward – with hope and with peace, and with kindness, and with indivisibility, and with justice for all.
WE must each somehow, even in the midst of a swirl of emotions, commit to “good” in attitude and action – and not become victims of emotion.
In his book, “Just Peace: A Message of Hope,” Mattie J.T Stepanek writes that we, the people, are a mosaic of gifts, but that mosaic is being shattered and the pieces scattered, because of choices that we – even as good people – are making. But he implores us to not lose hope, or let go of the endeavor for peace. He encourages us to gather every mosaic piece – bright or broken, old or new, large or small – and tend to each one, and rebuild the mosaic – with balanced choices. And he even gives us a choice-by-choice guide for journeying along pathways to peace – if we make this our choice.
It is okay to be sad, or in shock, or scared, or to have any other feelings as a result of this election. It is not okay to get stuck in feeling hopeless, or helpless. We cannot choose our feelings, but we can choose the shape of our attitudes, which unfold into words and actions. We can process our feelings, and together, move forthward.
Hope and peace are not easy choices, but they are worthy choices – always, and for all people.
Despite the election results, and whichever side of the vote we identify with – this way or that way – we can each commit to creating the change we desperately need, without hurting others – in body or mind or spirit.
Hope is real. Believe it.
Peace is possible. Be it.
I Am. Together, We Are…
With prayers for our world,
Jeni (Mattie’s mom / Mama Peace).
Jeni Stepanek, PhD, is a Faculty Associate in Special Education at the University of Maryland, and serves as the Executive Director of the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation.
During the summer of 2013, residents, staff and community members gathered at Ingleside at King Farm for a peace picnic.
During the celebration, ideas were gathered and shared for a peace project that would move this retirement community in Rockville, Maryland towards a new goal — “Peace Certification” by the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation.
During fall, 2013, residents took a “Peace Walk” to the nearby Mattie J.T. Stepanek Park to further explore peace — for one’s self and for one’s world.
And across the next year, IKF residents gathered again — to listen to Mattie’s mom, Jeni Stepanek, share information and inspiration from Mattie’s peace messages and about his namesake Foundation’s Pathways to Peace Program – and to create “Peace Quilts” for their Peace Certification project.
But this was only the beginning of IKF’s commitment to moving from “attitude to action” with peace.
The peace quilt squares that make up six large wall hangings now are displayed in various areas of the IKF community, and they also travel to other communities where peace is being sought and planned.
In addition to the picnic, walk, quilt, and other peace gatherings, IKF residents decided to launch an annual event that would continue moving peace “forthward — with choice” as Mattie would say.
On October 2, 2016, IKF residents and members of the Rockville community (including the mayor and Mattie’s moms), gathered again in this Peace Certified Community for the inaugural Mattie J.T. Stepanek Peace Lecture.
The event speaker was Barbara Wien, a professor at American University in Washington, DC, and a well-respected global peace educator and activist.
During her presentation, Wien addressed (and agreed with) Mattie’s claim that “peace is possible” — sharing stories of peace journeys, and emphasizing the importance of infusing peace education programs in schools, of bringing peace information into mainstream media and news, and of creating more and more peace communities — parks and other planned areas that serve as buffers for bordering communities in potential or real conflict. Such peace places bring people together in shared responsibility, and enhances collaboration, and makes peace possible..
Rows 1-4 by Jeni Stepanek
Rows 5-6 by IKF’s Kate Kavitski
During August, two dozen community leaders gathered in Baltimore, Maryland to participate in the 2016 Pathways to Peace Train-the-Trainer Workshop. During the two-day weekend training opportunity, participants learned about the life and legacy of Mattie J.T. Stepanek, and about the Mattie J.T. Stepanek Foundation’s “P2P” peace education program, and created specific plans for bringing the P2P program into their communities.
Across the coming months, these amazing participants — now newly trained peace facilitators (aka “peace agents” as the participants dubbed themselves) — will be bringing the P2P program into their communities across the United States and Canada. In doing so, inspirational and informational content and educational and recreational activities will be introduced to youth and adults in a range of diverse settings, including schools and universities, hospitals and detention centers, places of worship and online anti-bullying forums, and homes, businesses, and other communities.
The Pathways to Peace (P2P) Program — part of the Peace Certification journey offered by Mattie’s Foundation — is an organized way of moving through information and inspiration while exploring key elements of Mattie’s message of hope and peace. Examples of these key elements include Heartsongs, purpose, hope, choice, balance, service, communication, kindness, anti-bullying, resilience, coping, motivation, spirituality, education, “mosaic of humanity,” moving “forthward,” and more.
The program is rooted in Mattie’s “Three Choices for Peace” concept, and supports participants of diverse ages, abilities, and aspirations in learning to “reflect on, respond to, and reach out with” the peace elements that are a part of the journey. As participants progress through each element and the program as a whole, they embrace the peace elements as attitudes and habits that in turn shape realities — so that they become “peace seekers, peace makers, and peace bringers.”
Planned and facilitated by Jeni Stepanek, PhD, (Mattie’s mom and Executive Director of the Mattie’s Foundation), the two-day workshop consisted of presentations, hands-on activities, group discussions, networking during meals, and specific site planning sessions — and a lot of bonding and good fun.
Three members of the Board of Directors for Mattie’s Foundation were among the participants:
The 2016 community leader participants include Nikki Akparewa, Nasreen Bahreman, Diana Baptiste, Kendra Cornwell, Rev. Jayne Feldman, Robert Galinsky, Reagan Leibowitz-Smith, Barry McConatha, Stacey McKinnon PhD, Christine McComas, Tilsim Newman, Barbara O’Connor, Chijioke Okeke-Ekpe, Rev. Faith Reid, Rev. Christian Savage, Terri Shannon, Rev. John Shearin, Andrea Smith, Jackie Stone, and Kim Talbot.
Unanimous feedback from the workshop participants rated the two-days of training as “excellent” and “life changing” — for themselves and for their communities.
Comments from participants include:
The 2016 Pathways to Peace Train-the-Trainer Workshop was made possible by a grant to Mattie’s Foundation by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The grant was secured to both disseminate and evaluate the Pathways to Peace program elements in diverse settings and with diverse populations. Some of the new facilitators will be implanting six to ten different “P2P peace element” sessions in their communities. Others will be implementing one specific P2P peace element to different individuals across time. And other facilitators will be adapting the P2P peace elements in a variety of ways and for differing time frames in their communities.
Information about changes in attitudes and beliefs, and in actions and practices related to peace and collaboration within and between individuals and communities will be gathered across time as the program unfolds in each community. Specific peace activities, events, lesson plans, and other information updates will be shared on Mattie’s website, with the hope that other community leaders may benefit and adapt the lessons for use in their own settings.
In addition to the grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the workshop was support with in-kind donations of materials, food, drink, support, and space by:
Mattie’s Foundation is grateful to know that peace matters to so many people and businesses who were a part of this important training opportunity.
Photos shared by
Andrea Smith, Christine McComas, Craig Lee,
Laura Bauer, Robert Galinsky, and Jeni Stepanek
Chris LeBelle — Oshkosh, WI — $101
Add YOUR NAME here…
- Mattie J.T. Stepanek