Tuesday, December 21, 2010


(the story below was a comment in “The fisherman and the businessman” by Benseddik. I liked it so much that I decided to post it)

A man came home from work late again, tired and irritated, to find his 5-year-old son waiting for him at the door.
“Daddy, may I ask you a question?”
“Yeah, sure, what is it?” replied the man.
“Daddy, how much money do you make an hour?
“That’s none of your business! What makes you ask such a thing?” the man said angrily.

“I just want to know. Please tell me, how much do you make an hour?” pleaded the little boy.
“If you must know, I make $20.00 an hour.”
“Oh,” the little boy replied, head bowed. Looking up, he said, “Daddy, may I borrow $10.00 please?”

The father was furious. “If the only reason you wanted to know how much money I make is just so you can borrow some to buy a silly toy or some other nonsense, then you march yourself straight to your room and go to bed. I work long, hard hours everyday and don’t have time for such childish games.”
The little boy quietly went to his room and shut the door. The man sat down and started to get even madder about the little boy’s questioning. How dare he ask such questions only to get some money?

After an hour or so, the man had calmed down, and started to think he may have been a little hard on his son. Maybe there was something he really needed to buy with that $10.00, and he really didn’t ask for money very often. The man went to the door of the little boy’s room and opened the door.
“Are you asleep son?” he asked.
“No daddy, I’m awake,” replied the boy.

“I’ve been thinking, maybe I was too hard on you earlier,” said the man. “It’s been a long day and I took my aggravation out on you. Here’s that $10.00 you asked for.”
The little boy sat straight up, beaming. “Oh, thank you daddy!” he yelled. Then, reaching under his pillow, he pulled out some more crumpled up bills.
The man, seeing that the boy already had money, started to get angry again. The little boy slowly counted out his money, then looked up at the man.

“Why did you want more money if you already had some?” the father grumbled.
“Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do,” the little boy replied.

“Daddy, I have $20.00 now. Can I buy an hour of your time?”

Monday, November 1, 2010

Stepping Back

Life is busy for most people these days. It's easy to get your nose stuck to the ground and only pay attention to what's directly in front of you. I find this especially true when the world is making hundreds of demands on me and there is no time to stop and assess where I'm going with all this rushing and doing. It's times like these when I find it especially important to STOP and STEP BACK!

The delusions of urgency that grip so many humans can prevent us from looking forward, from taking a moment to breathe, and to look into the future and consider the consequences of our present decisions and actions. Yes, I believe like many of you, we only can live in the "now", in the present moment; and yes, it is good to live in the present, yet at the same time it can be equally important to see what lies ahead and set your sights accordingly.

My good friend in Santa Barbara, Renee, once told me, "Put your hands up in front of your face. What do you see?"

"My hands," I replied.

"Ok, now move your hands 6 inches away from your face and tell me what you see," Renee said.

"Well, I can see a little bit of the room, especially in my peripheral vision," I said.

Renee said, "Good, now move your hands out as far away from your body as possible. What do you see now?"

I replied, "I see the wall, the door, couch, painting on the wall, my dog, and you."

With this simple exercise she showed me I was too focused on the problem and perhaps I needed to step back away from the 'thing' I was looking at in order to see the bigger picture. She taught me that if my focus was directly on the 'issue at hand' and not on the whole story, I might miss the opportunity to see what was right in front of me. I've repeatedly found this to be true.

Although few of us can predict the future with any absolute certainty, we can see with greater clarity what lies ahead. I recommend taking a few moments everyday to pause, with intention, and step back a bit and look forward. It's only when we stop and look beyond what is directly in front of us that we can get a glimpse of what's to come. Then we can set our intentions and organize our plans in accordance with what is ahead.

May we all have clearer vision!


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Falling In Place

Things falling apart was the beginning...of them falling together. For me, at least. Out of a desperate place in which I could not breathe, I realized that breathing was all I could do. Only that. It was not "one day at a time," it was one breath at a time. The pain was so great that I could not bear it, so I stopped trying to. It was in this place that I found peace. Not in knowing what to do, but in not knowing.

A learned man came to a wise master and said, "I think I have a handle on most things, but someone suggested you might add to my knowledge, so what can you teach me?" The wise man said nothing as he began to pour tea into the man's cup. He poured until the cup was full and continued as it overflowed onto the floor. The man said, "Stop! My cup is too full!" At which point the master smiled, and said, "That is right. Like your cup, your mind is too full. Empty your cup, then come back for the teaching."

In "Who Dies," Stephen Levine writes, "Out of the desperation of 'what do I do now?' may come the answer. Because, perhaps, for once there is no quick resolution. At last we don't know. We've known so much for so long that the space in which the truth might spontaneously arise has become too full. There is little room for our true nature...It is in this open, choice-less investigation of the truth that reality presents itself."

I am so relieved that, once again in my life, I don't know. The truth is right in front of me, and it does not consist of a litany of mental processes leading to hard and fast conclusions, opinions, and preferences. The truth is that the truth is not one way or another. I struggle now, but not to get (or to keep) things together. Instead, having allowed things to fall apart, I struggle not to try and get them together again. Trusting they will come, or fall, where they are supposed to… either fall together, or fall apart.

© Cynthia Stewart

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Story of Mother... from a son

Like No Other
Originally uploaded by CiCi Stewart
A Story of Mother... from a son
After 21 years of marriage, I discovered a new way of keeping alive the spark of love. A little while ago I had started to go out with another woman. It was really my wife's idea. "I know that you love her," she said one day, taking me by surprise. "But I love YOU," I protested. "I know, but you also love her."

The other woman that my wife wanted me to visit was my mother, who has been a widow for 19 years, but the demands of my work and my three children had made it possible to visit her only occasionally. That night I called to invite her to go out for dinner and a movie.

"What's wrong, are you well," she asked? My mother is the type of woman who suspects that a late night call or a surprise invitation is a sign of bad news.

"I thought that it would be pleasant to pass some time with you," I responded "Just the two of us." She thought about it for a moment, and then said, "I would like that very much." That Friday after work, as I drove over to pick her up I was a bit nervous. When I arrived at her house, I noticed that she, too, seemed to be nervous about our date. She waited in the door with her coat on. She had curled her hair and was wearing the dress that she had worn to celebrate her last wedding anniversary.

She smiled from a face that was as radiant as an angel's. "I told my friends that I was going to go out with my son, and they were impressed," she said, as she got into the car. "They can't wait to hear about our meeting". We went to a restaurant that, although not elegant, was very nice and cozy. My mother took my arm as if she were the First Lady. After we sat down, I had to read the menu. Her eyes could only read large print. Half way through the entrees, I lifted my eyes and saw Mom sitting there staring at me. A nostalgic smile was on her lips.

"It was I who used to have to read the menu when you were small," she
said. "Then it's time that you relax and let me return the favor," I responded. During the dinner we had an agreeable conversation –nothing extraordinary - but catching up on recent events of each others life. We talked so much that we missed the movie. As we arrived at her house later, she said, "I'll go out with you again, but only if you let me invite you". I agreed.

"How was your dinner date?" asked my wife when I got home. "Very nice. Much more so than I could have imagined," I answered. A few days later my mother died of a massive heart attack. It happened so suddenly that I didn't have a chance to do anything for her.

Some time later I received an envelope with a copy of a restaurant receipt from the same place mother and I had dined. An attached note said: "I paid this bill in advance. I was almost sure that I couldn't be there but, nevertheless I paid for two plates – one for you and the other for your wife. You will never know what that night meant for me. I love you."

At that moment I understood the importance of saying, in time: "I LOVE YOU" and to give our loved ones the time that they deserve. Nothing in life is more important than God and your family. Give them the time they deserve, because these things cannot be put off till "some other time".

Somebody said it takes about six weeks to get back to normal after you've had a baby ...somebody doesn't know that once you're a mother, "normal", is history.

Somebody said you learn how to be a mother by instinct ...somebody never took a three-year-old shopping.

Somebody said being a mother is boring… somebody never rode in a car driven by a teenager with a driver's permit.

Somebody said if you're a "good" mother, your child will "turn out good"...somebody thinks a child comes with directions and a guarantee.

Somebody said "good" mothers never raise their voices… somebody never came out the back door just in time to see her child hit a golf ball through the neighbor's kitchen window.

Somebody said you don't need an education to be a mother ...somebody never helped a fourth grader with his math.

Somebody said you can't love the fifth child as much as you love the first ...somebody doesn't have five children.

Somebody said a mother can find all the answers to her child-rearing questions in the books ...somebody never had a child stuff beans up his nose or in his ears.

Somebody said the hardest part of being a mother is labor and delivery ...somebody never watched her "baby" get on the bus for the first day of kindergarten ... or on a plane headed for military "boot camp"

Somebody said a mother can do her job with her eyes closed and one hand tied behind her back ...somebody never organized seven giggling Brownies to sell cookies.

Somebody said a mother can stop worrying after her child gets married ...somebody doesn't know that marriage adds a new son or daughter-in-law to a mother's heartstrings.

Somebody said a mother's job is done when her last child leaves home ...somebody never had grandchildren.

Somebody said your mother knows you love her, so you don't need to tell her ....somebody isn't a mother.

Pass this along to all the "mothers" in your life.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Where Is Heaven?

Conversations Near Midnight

“Grandma, where is grandpa?

“Honey, he died.”

“Where is he?”

“I’m not sure but I think he’s probably in heaven.”

“Yeah, that sounds right.”

“Grandma, where is heaven?”

“Honey, I don’t know for sure.”

“It must be really far.”

The wisdom of a three-year-old.

Friday, February 19, 2010



My "starting over" time was in January--a perfect time for new beginnings don't you agree? A time when most of us start new diets, join the gym, write a new goal list, and so on. New beginnings, fresh, exciting—a great time to begin again. I spent this past New Year’s Day in my new (old) home which sits on its own little perch in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. I just moved home after I lost it to a fire almost 2 1/2 years ago; but that is a story for another time... Today I'd like to talk about starting over and jumping off places. This part of my journey began in 2001 and it has been quite a ride! I found Nevada county early that spring and in spite of driving home on Hwy 49 in a rain storm that rendered me almost blind behind the wheel I couldn't wait to get back up here!! I spent that spring finding any excuse to return and would often drive up alone just to sit by the Yuba and dream... But I couldn't quite imagine how people lived up here. I was completely rooted in my life down the hill. Great job with PBS television, third book just hitting the bookshelves, 18 years of community involvement and relationships. Yet, something in the deepest (and unexplainable) part of my soul kept pulling me up the hill. There just had to be a way for me...

I spent the rest of that spring dreaming about it and the entire summer looking for a place that made sense with my list of requirements. I'd been raising my 5 children alone since my husband's death in 1995 and I still had two young children at home. They were my priority and of course, one of them didn't want to leave their friends. I knew my window for making this move was a small one. If I waited another year or two my son would be in high school, making a move much more difficult. So I spent the summer with a nice realtor looking, and looking, and looking. We never found anything that seemed 'right' and it was getting late in summer and I was getting burned out. Preparations for school were coming up and in light of months trying to make this move work, I decided the message was this - it's not yet time.

So I let it go and got busy preparing for fall and all that comes with it. It was a very early phone call that started me up again. I was half asleep, wrestling with myself to wake up and get moving when the phone rang. The voice on the other end was indecipherable. "Turn on your television!" it said. "What? Why? Who is this,” I asked as I rubbed my sleepy eyes trying to come into full consciousness. It's Susan, "Turn on your television now," she sobbed. "What channel," I asked. "ANY CHANNEL," she said.

My girlfriend had been watching television when the first plane hit the towers and as I turned on my TV and tried to wrap my head around the pictures I was seeing, the second plane hit tower two. I must have yelled out because both my children were in my lap before I knew it and we all were spellbound to that television we seldom ever turned on. Well, you know the rest of that story and each of you probably has your own to tell. This one is mine. That moment, or rather that day, I turned a corner in my life. I realized I had been living in fear--afraid to move, afraid to change, afraid to let go of what I saw as security in my life--but suddenly, watching those towers collapse and people soaring from windows it occurred to me there is no security in this life. Nothing solid. Everything moves. Everything changes.

I'd married my husband twenty years earlier because I loved him and he was my dearest and closest friend... but I also married him because I trusted him. I knew he'd make a great father because he already was one. I knew he adored me because he showed me every single day for two years prior. I knew he'd never hurt me, cheat on me, or leave me. He knew the same of me. What neither of us bargained for is that he would die.

By this time in my life story he'd been gone six years. I'd rebuilt a new life, new career, new friends, etc. And it was good. Why would I leave all of the things I'd worked so hard to establish? To move to the mountains? Alone? It didn't make sense logically, but the pull on my heart was not to be shushed and continued to whisper to me when I was still enough to listen. And then that fateful day, September 11, 2001 and I woke up to the understanding that there was nothing to fear. Nothing to hold on to, nothing to grasp, nothing solid. No reason to fear.

Within two weeks of that day a person crossed my path and led me directly to the house I now live in. Effortless. Easy. Perfect. It was in December, about a decade ago when I packed up my family, my personal belongings, and my pets and moved from our familiar and long-time residence, saying good-bye to wonderful friends, dear family members, and successful business relationships. Leaving a comfort zone I’d lived in for the past 15 years. Why, you may wonder? Because it was time—a time to move forward—a time for change. It was a time for starting over.

Starting over can be scary. Have you ever lost a job, or moved across the country, or ended a relationship? Yes, starting over can be hard and can even be frightening, and even sometimes painful, but it can be the best time of your life. The key is your attitude. While change can be sometimes difficult, change can also be beneficial. New opportunities will be presented for your personal growth and development. It is a wonderful time to re-examine other areas in your life. What other changes might you need to make to live a healthier, happier, and more satisfying life?

Starting over can be exciting! You don’t have to move, leave your job, dump your partner, or change your career to gain the benefits of starting over. You can start over today, right where you are, and begin to create the life you dream of living. When we really understand our ability to direct our lives where we want it to go it’s pretty empowering!

If you are anything like me, you might have postponed making some changes you need to make in your life. What have you put off because you are afraid, have been discouraged by others, or have failed at in the past? Examples might include pursuing an acting career, starting a catering business, or even getting married again. Get up close to your fear and examine it in detail. What is at the root of your fear of pursuing an acting career, for example? Is it your high- school drama teacher's criticism of your acting technique that has stuck with you all these years? Get a different perspective. That was only one person's opinion. Perhaps he/she was having a bad day when they lashed out at you and your work. If necessary, take more acting classes until you feel more confident in your ability.

Honor your dreams. Begin by taking a deep breath and resolving to see it through once and for all. This requires a shift in attitude of course. Act as if your happiness (and your life) depends on it. It does, doesn't it? Promise yourself that you will do whatever it takes to change the things that make you feel like you aren't living up to your dreams, up to your potential to live a joyful, fulfilling life. Do it so that you can look at yourself in a new way - with pride and respect. Prove to yourself that you are not a quitter and that you are capable of creating your own happiness.


Sometimes starting over can mean letting go of old ideas, negative thinking, or bad habits. And sometimes that may mean you have to reach out to others for help. The first step in any change is admitting you have a habit or problem in your life that is neither healthy nor conducive to real happiness is, as you well know, the first step to positive change. Whether the habit is smoking, drug or alcohol addiction, or overeating, you may need to get help overcoming it. Physical and/or emotional abuse, while not physical addictions per se, can however be seen as emotional habits which may need outside intervention in order for you to get out of and avoid future abusive relationships.

The second hardest step is asking for help because pride, ego, shame, embarrassment, etc. can keep you trapped in your harmful habits. Someone I know recently said, “My pride and ego are killing me.” And in this case, no truer words were ever spoken. To reach out and ask for help, to admit to others that you can’t overcome whatever it is that stands between you and your happiness or peace of mind can be hard. You need to be very strongly motivated. One way to do this is to keep your focus on the benefits of giving up your habit, of not having to smoke, drink, gamble, or do drugs. Focus on the freedom from your habit. What will you be free to do? Exercise, get out of debt, or pursue a new career?

Your life is up to you. Prove it by kicking that bad habit once and for all. How many of your decisions in the past were made based on whether or not you could smoke, where you could smoke, and how often you could smoke, for example? How much of your life is determined by a habit (or habits) that is keeping you stuck and unhappy? That is even killing you?


It is true that life can throw us curves and it seems that how quickly we can "recover" can often be the difference between crashing and staying the course. I don't know much about racecar driving, but I did once know a driver. He told me that one of the first things they teach you is how to "look forward" and instead of concentrating on the trouble you may find yourself in, look up the road, ahead, to the place you want to go. I have tried to live with a similar philosophy. Not trying to live in the future, but being present in the moment with a vision looking just ahead. Where will I put my next step?

While many people have told me I am strong, I often felt like a coward, without the courage to "live in the moment" when the moment seemed too tragic. I got pretty good at looking at the road ahead. While it served its purpose during those times in my life, those habits or beliefs later created problems for me. I would not describe myself so much as strong as I would brave. Today I too am trying to live in the moment. To look neither too far ahead, nor back, but to sit still in what is… and that is the now. It is a different take on life for me and has required some intentional practice on my part. Old habits can be challenging to break however sometimes the tougher the challenge, the greater the benefit!

My mentor, Arlene, once told me I could start my day over at anytime. Today, if I catch myself ‘acting out’ in an old behavior or bad habit, I can stop and start over right that minute and I must tell you that there have been days I have started over several times!

What about you? If you could create the life you’ve always dreamed of, where would you start? What changes would be necessary to make those dreams come true? What steps would you need to start with? What can you do today? How would you feel at this very moment if you were living that life? Would the effort to make the changes be worth the result?


1. How do you feel about starting over? Do you see it as a wonderful second or third chance to make your dreams come true? Or do you see it as just another attempt that is doomed to fail? Check your attitude and get to the root of your fears. Your success depends on it.

2. What dream do you want to pursue but have given up on? Why? Be honest with yourself. Do you still want to pursue this dream or will it no longer contribute to your happiness? If not, let it go. But if it will make you happier, resolving to go for it can inject purpose and enthusiasm into your life.

3. What is keeping you from asking for help? Is it pride? Are you ashamed? Are you afraid? Whatever you are feeling use it to jump-start yourself into asking for the help anyway. In other words, instead of feeling ashamed, take pride in knowing that you are taking control of your life.

While you may have once thought that starting over can be hard or even frightening, you will find that the benefits far outweigh the challenges and that starting over can be a new beginning for your new life.

Why not start today?


© Cynthia Stewart


Cynthia "CiCi" Stewart is an international speaker, author, promoter, and literary agent. She has spent the past twenty years developing a writing career and business' that span the globe. Cynthia is a fiction and non-fiction writer and author of several books including Dream BIG! A Woman’s Book of Network Marketing, and Creating Wealth on the Web. Her short stories have been published in New York Times best-selling books, which include Chicken Soup for the College Soul, Christmas Miracles, Stories For a Grad’s Heart, and Heart Touchers. Her books have been translated into 15 languages and read worldwide. Cynthia writes for popular magazines, websites, and various editorials. She has been a guest on numerous radio and television shows including popular morning show, The View, hosted by Barbara Walters. In addition, Cynthia produced a nationally broadcast weekly show for PBS. With over thirty years in marketing, production, and special events Cynthia has created a way to merge all previous business into a creative and highly successful production company. As co-founder of Sierra Mountain Productions, Cynthia is Director of Production and Development.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

New Storm Warning from NASA

Hi Friends,
Ok, maybe the photo is a little dramatic, but we are about to be hit with a big one according to my pals at NASA. Normally I wouldn't post a blog like this, but considering the content, you may understand why I am making this exception. I just got an email from a friend who works with these folks and kids, this is the real deal. They are saying most of us who live in these mountains have never see or experienced the likes of the storm that is coming our way.


Stay safe and warm. My thoughts are with you all!


I am forwarding a weather forecast from NASA regarding storms
projected to hit California and the Sierras. The NASA forecast appears
much more severe than the weather updates received from your office.
Although your information is focused on our region, I thought you
might want to take a look at this.
Edward D Atwell
Emergency Management Coordinator
University of Nevada, Reno
Police Services
1664 North Virginia St. M/S 0250
Reno, Nevada 89557-0250
(775) 682-7247
"Community First"

Get ready. This is what the emergency response community is saying:

Currently, the strong El Nino is reaching its peak in the Eastern
Pacific, and now finally appears to be exerting an influence on our
weather. The strong jet has been apparent for quite some time out over
the open water, but the persistent block had prevented it from
reaching the coast. Now that the block has dissolved completely, a
200+ kt jet is barreling towards us. Multiple large and powerful storm
systems are expected to slam into CA from the west and northwest over
the coming two weeks, all riding this extremely powerful jet stream
directly into the state. The jet will itself provide tremendous
dynamic lift, in addition to directing numerous disturbances right at
the state and supplying them with an ample oceanic moisture source.
The jet will be at quite a low latitude over much of the Pacific, so
these storms will be quite cold, at least initially. Very heavy
rainfall and strong to potentially very strong winds will impact the
lower elevations beginning late Sunday and continuing through at least
the following Sunday. This will be the case for the entire state, from
(and south of) the Mexican border all the way up to Oregon. Above
3000-4000 feet, precipitation will be all snow, and since temperatures
will be unusually cold for a precipitation event of this magnitude, a
truly prodigious amount of snowfall is likely to occur in the
mountains, possibly measured in the tens of feet in the Sierra after
it's all said and done. But there's a big and rather threatening
caveat to that (discussed below).Individual storm events are going to
be hard to time for at least few more days, since this jet is just
about as powerful as they come (on this planet, anyway). Between this
Sunday and the following Sunday, I expect categorical statewide
rainfall totals in excess of 3-4 inches. That is likely to be a huge
underestimate for most areas. Much of NorCal is likely to see 5-10
inches in the lowlands, with 10-20 inches in orographically-favored
areas. Most of SoCal will see 3-6 inches at lower elevations, with
perhaps triple that amount in favored areas.
This is where things get even more interesting, though. The models are
virtually unanimous in "reloading" the powerful jet stream and forming
an additional persistent kink 2000-3000 miles to our southwest after
next Sunday. This is a truly ominous pattern, because it implies the
potential for a strong Pineapple-type connection to develop. Indeed,
the 12z GFS now shows copious warm rains falling between days 12 and
16 across the entire state. Normally, such as scenario out beyond day
seven would be dubious at best. Since the models are in such truly
remarkable agreement, however, and because of the extremely high
potential impact of such an event, it's worth mentioning now. Since
there will be a massive volume of freshly-fallen snow (even at
relatively low elevations between 3000-5000 feet), even a moderately
warm storm event would cause very serious flooding. This situation
will have to monitored closely. Even if the tropical connection does
not develop, expected rains in the coming 7-10 days will likely be
sufficient to cause flooding in and of themselves (even in spite of
dry antecedent conditions).

In addition to very heavy precipitation, powerful winds may result
from very steep pressure gradients associated with the large and deep
low pressure centers expect ed to begin approaching the coast by early
next week. Though it's not clear at the moment just how powerful these
winds may be, there is certainly the potential for a widespread
damaging wind event at some point, and the high Sierra peaks are
likely to see gusts in the 100-200 mph range (since the 200kt jet at
200-300 mb will essentially run directly into the mountains at some
point). The details of this will have to be hashed out as the event(s)
draw closer.
In short, the next 2-3 weeks (at least) are likely to be more active
across California than any other 2-3 week period in recent memory. The
potential exists for a dangerous flood scenario to arise at some point
during this interval, especially with the possibility of a heavy
rain-on-snow event during late week 2. In some parts of Southern
California, a whole season's worth of rain could fall over the course
of 5-10 days. This is likely to be a rather memorable event. Stay tuned.

Alexandra Pitts, Assistant Regional Director External Affairs
Pacific Southwest Region
(w) 916 414 6619
(c) 916 804 4967

Monday, January 18, 2010

I Have A Dream!

As Americans, we celebrate Martin Luther King Day each year. A day to honor, not only Martin Luther King Jr., but to honor his commitment to stand for justice, to have his voice heard, to bring hope and light to a people who were in darkness. Mr. King fought his battles to the death, in a non-violent manner, to end segregation and racial discrimination. He was assassinated for standing up and doing so. This year, the day holds even more meaning for me.

This past year I've been victimized, abused, cheated, lied to, taken advantage of, and discriminated against. I've seen first hand what it is like to feel completely helpless against other people, their actions, ideals, and beliefs. I've felt the frustration and pain of feeling pressed against a wall against my will (figuratively speaking) and I've witnessed abuse at it ugliest, abuse of the soul and mind.

And what I've learned, among other things, is non-resistance is powerful. That hate can't take the heat of love.

That forgiveness brings peace to one's soul.

And that nothing lasts forever.

The old cliché' "We've Come A Long Way Baby," may be true, however in many ways we are still standing, over forty years later, in the same darkness that Martin Luther King Jr. was trying to shine a light on. He was an incredible man, an incredible change agent for social justice.

If you haven't ever read it, or if it has been awhile since you have, I recommend reading, "I Have a Dream."

I will include in this post a video of his famous speech.


You likely will recognized that the changes he was asking for then, in 1963, are still problems we face today. Yes, we've come a long way in some areas, however I've also had the opportunity to watch my oldest daughter, Rachel, teach children who have been terribly abused. She works in a special school just for children who have been so abused they can't manage in life outside this confined, controlled environment. I've also had the opportunity to know those (personally) who work in urban middle schools, where they still see great segregation and poverty.

The difficulties these kids face everyday would be haunting for most of us. Life for them is one of survival. Even here in the mountains I call home I see the children in the public school system. Some of them… lots of them come to school hungry, dirty, sleepy, and scared. Their parents drug abuse, or mental/emotional problems have driven them to live in such a way that is unimaginable to most of us. Some live in cars, some on the streets, and most are just trying to make ends meet. They're doing what they need to do to provide for their families. For some students, school is the only place they will eat or feel safe that day. The playing ground is so very, very far from being equal.

Here are some of Dr. King's words, expressed over forty-four years ago in his "I Have a Dream" speech:

"Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity.

Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children."

As I watched Martin Luther King Jr. deliver his speech, "I Have A Dream" I cried, again. Though I've seen it and read it for decades now it still touches my heart. Sadly much of what Mr. King fought for and died for has yet to become reality. But the hope remains… in me.

As we celebrate Dr. Kings birthday, let us not forget what he stood for, what he asked for, and what he died for, and do our part in each of our lives to bring his dream into reality. May we all begin today.

Change begins with me!
And the world wins!

Peace and love,

© Cynthia Stewart is a literary agent, an international speaker, author, and promoter.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What Would YOU Do?

A friend asked me to tell him what I would do if money were no object. That one question opened a whole door of possibilities and I've spent a fair amount of time writing a list, which continues to change. So I thought, before I rewrite it yet another time, I'd post a blog about today... what would I do today if money were no object in my life?

Today I'd send airplanes and ships full of supplies, food, etc. to those in Haiti who are suffering from the earthquake that hit them this week. I'd go there myself and help them pull their fathers and children from the rubble. I'd volunteer to help however I possibly could. If you are reading this, I'd encourage you to send what you can too. You might be surprised at how a small thing can mean so much. I lost my house to fire a few years back and I can't tell you how much it meant to me for my friends to pull together things for me. Especially my friend Lori. Her gestures of kindness pulled me through when I am not sure I could have done it alone. But that is a story for another time...

After helping in Haiti, I'd buy a spot of land with tall cedars and a view. A year round stream/river running through the property. I want to see water… love water. I'd build a house on the big flat spot at the crest of the knoll. It would be a smart house. Creative. Artsy. Warm. I’d spend mornings writing the best-selling American novel. The afternoons would be spent entertaining friends, neighbors, family and doing community volunteer. I’d travel. A month at a time with no deadlines or demands to return or be here or there at a specific time. I’d look for the miracles. I’d be a part of them as often as the universe will allow.

I’d play the piano everyday. Take salsa lessons. Paint. I’d have a killer garden with roses dripping off the fence and a harvest that would feed all the neighbors. I’d make love to my man everyday. More than once if time and circumstance permitted. I’d turn my novel into a screen play, perhaps direct or co-produce the movie. A hit of course. I’d make a difference in the world for good. A positive influence of a profound nature. I’d remain as anonymous as possible, perhaps write with a pen name. It’s the message, not the messenger that most counts.

Now, having written this, I wonder what you would do if money were no object and you believed in the possibilities. I hope you'll take to heart this idea and write a list of your own. For you see, I believe we create the world we live in by the words we speak and the person we are being at every moment in time. The human experience is incredible, what a gift. And it's really all about the giving and not the getting anyway.

I am a creator and I strive to create a world of beauty and bounty for all that are in it.

Dream BIG!
© Cynthia Stewart

Saturday, January 2, 2010

One smile can brighten a day. One kind gesture can lighten a burden. One kind word can change a heart. One noble intention can move the earth. One sincere effort can change the world. One step towards peace and prosperity can usher a positive change and make world an amazing place to live. A great welcome to the year 2010 and a big hello to each of you!

Wouldn’t it be great if each one of us shared that one thing they would remember the most about 2009. One thing that really brought a positive change in your approach towards managing your personal or professional life. One thing that made you a better human being and contributor to our society. One thing that you achieved or something that happened that you will cherish for whole lifetime. If you can share that one experience of yours and how you learned from it, I am sure it would be great for all of us to read.

Lot’s of folks have a sort of tradition of setting certain goals at the beginning of New Year. Have you done so? I hope you will let us know what your New Year’s resolution is. What is that one thing you intend to achieve? What is that one thing you would want to contribute that can make this world better? 

For me personally, 2009 was a very challenging year. While the first part of the year went to wrapping up a two and a half year building project and moving for the fifth time in that period, the second half went into launching a production company in Nevada County; www.SierraMountainProductions.com

It’s been a really a satisfying experience to see so many community members offering their support, encouragement, and help as we start this new project. My business partners, Roy Rogers www.roy-rogers.com and his brilliant wife, Gaynell www.pressandrelease.net and I have been touched by the kindness of our community. We anticipate this effort will not only bring positive enriching art and music to our home town, opportunities to those in and around our community, but also a positive way to increase tourism, increase outside income into the community, increase jobs, and increase the budget for our communities schools, education, music, and more. In addition Sierra Mountain Productions will donate a percentage of profit to local charities or organizations in need.

While working hard for the year to start such a business I’ve had the privilege of meeting even more wonderful folks from this community who are serious about making a positive difference here in 2010 and beyond. All this made my belief in human spirit and its desire to succeed and overcome all challenges even stronger. If life throws you a lemon - make lemonade, someone said so rightly.

As for 2010, my resolution is to partner with like-minded individuals who are each making an effort to improve world conditions and awareness starting right here at home. I’d also like to start a nonprofit organization for the cause of literacy and the arts. I will be pleased if any of you have any ideas to share for the same.

It’s over to you now. Let everyone know about one thing you have learned or achieved in 2009 and what your resolution is for 2010. Send me your lists and I’ll post on our website! That way we’ll all be supporting you in your goals for this new year.

Have a great - great year ahead!

Blessings to all,

CiCi Stewart