Friday, January 15, 2010

Happy Birthday America!

Happy Birthday...but whose birthday is it really? The United States' Birthday falls one day before the day I decided to join my family on a small island in the Pacific. I was several weeks late, the local islanders took matters into their own hands, offering my mother some special beans---which at best probably harked back to the infamous Boston baked bean. I am not certain if it was the sound of fireworks or her intestinal pains that might have followed after she ate a big bowl of beans but I finally popped into the world on the fifth of July. With a birthday right after our countries, I have always been able to insure I can celebrate for at least the entire month of July. However, in recent years my birthday has been a time of reflection and giving thanks. In many parts of the world, it is a tradition to give to others on your birthday not receive.

I have adopted this tradition and really ask that no gifts are given to me.  Which leads me to my initial question, who's birthday is it really? Is it my birthday? Is it our countries? I think all of those who have grown up in America have something to give thanks for; however, what was really birthed on my birthday or our countries started long before the date we stamped it as the first moment I gasped for air or our country claimed this land to be our own.

What was birthed on our birthday's, we label as our own and was magical, signifies the birth of something new. A moment in time, where a mother whispers thank you when she stares at her child for the first time. A moment when our countrymen, gave thanks for embarking on a new life and founding the birth of the land of opportunity. While, my birth and our nation's takes place years apart plus 1 day, I always carry in my heart the energy of something new being born. I remember the possibilities that were offered and will be continued be offered as we continue to change shift and grow. While, what we coined as opportunity still rings true throughout the world and has become our nation's motto.

The land of opportunity, this year I want to give thanks not for our Fore Fathers but for our Native Fathers and Mothers who preserved and protected this land. The very same way a mother protects her child and how selflessly our native people taught us about working and living with the land. We have made some mistakes along they way like any young child might as they experiment with what is not known. However, I think this year I encourage all of you to not only give thanks for the land of opportunity but for our native fathers and mothers that offered us the greatest opportunity we might have ever been given---a chance for freedom. Instead of toasting our nation, raise a glass to our ancestors who paved a road and sacrificed their freedom for our sweet land of liberty.

Happy Birthday, America.....with deep gratitude to the Native Americans. May we someday return to you all that you have given our Nation!

In Service with Love, Peace and Laughter, 


Crowded Room

I walked into a crowded room
Consumed by your eyes and deep stare
Oblivious...remembrance loomed
Engaging me...whispers of a dare

Daring me to remember you
Lives we shared centuries ago
The music played from me to you
Dancing till dawn, where did we go?

To a place we all remember,
Where oh where did we go?
To a place we all remember
Where oh where did we go?

An endless river leading home
Overflowing history banks
Where flowers never stand alone
The sun always sets with deep thanks

Where our dreams merge and never fade
Always rising at dawn in your arms
And our hearts never become jade
Where you seduce me with your charm

To a place we all remember,
Where oh where did we go?
To a place we all remember
Where oh where did we go?

To the depths of the ocean floor
Where the shadows of our darkness
Are consumed by the open doors
 Mirroring forgotten likeness

Is it you or is it me?
our forgotten melody rings
I am not sure we can still see
The place that still makes our hearts sing

Where oh where did we go?
To a place we all remember
Where oh where did we go?
To a place we all remember

Let me take you,
please remember
The place you know
And we use to go.


Authenticity . . . living at your highest truth

Authenticity . . . living at your highest truth

In the past few years, I have been on a journey which I am certain to many family and friends has seemed unexplainable. Many friends and family have created their own opinions and stories around my choices and my life.  Acknowledging that, my journey is not anymore important than the next persons on this planet; however, I believe this journey has delivered me to a place of truth and understanding of where I want to reside. You might ask, “So, what does this have to do with me?” I will reply, “A lot! I believe there is value in me sharing the many lessons I have learned thus far and you will find the intrinsic value in your life.”

Recently, I have been travel the world and I have seen many reflections of myself and our society all bundled into each location. I have witnessed cultures becoming extinct, societies crumbling and people loosing hope. On some level, I have watched over the past two years cultures metaphorically transition from one humanity and seeds being planted for a new societies to be born. Each of these experiences has lead me to a place of surrender and letting go of what I think I might know.

Most of our global community has become paralyzed by fear and uncertainty. I could and have chosen fear and paralysis many times in the past few years. However, in those moments when I felt the fear consume me; I decided I did not want to stay there. It would not serve me or anyone around me. Rather than allow the fear to consume me, I used its momentum to propel me forward. Which ultimately has landed me in a place of complete understanding of where I want to stand.  I can finally state that I want to stand in authenticity. I have observed many faces of authenticity or lack there of.  We all will ultimately have many different faces of truth. However, I have yet to find many people authentically standing in their truth. It is a tall order to live the life that makes us feel the most peaceful; especially, in times when there are so many uncertainties presented to us everyday. Uncertainty invites us to take make extreme choices and over indulge which might serve us in moderation. These layers of authenticity have made me question my own codes of conduct. While still traversing through what feels natural and what I use to help me personally cope and avoid walking in my truth.  I have made me want to commit to my highest truth. Rather than get on a soap box and orate all that rings true for me. I just want to embody and integrate all that I know to be my truth in this moment. I want to fully acknowledge that my truth will evolve and change. In case some of you are thinking, “When is she going to start wearing the flowing white robes?”

I share this with all of you to challenge you to examine your HIGHEST truth. Where are you being authentic in your life and where are you continually lead astray? Start by acknowledging what needs to be removed or accepted. It does not mean we all need to be means we might just want to embrace all aspects of SELF and embody it. Embrace the light and dark side of yourself...walk in GRACE!


"It" will not disappear until you surrender to the thought that 
"It" might be with you always!

"It" will not appear until you surrender to the idea
 "It" will never arrive.

You may not find what you are looking for
Until you embrace that which is placed in front of you.

You may wander lost until you remember
You know exactly where you are.

You may not think you can live until
your feeling whole and you will not live
Until you remember you are not broken.

You might drive yourself towards sanity
To avoid your madness.

Ultimately, you will not find resolve with
these thoughts, words, or deeds...Until you surrender!


Just Trust!

What lies between two shores?
An exploration of an uncharted sea
A story no longer influenced by history’s past
A story which unfolds at the dawn of each new day
The cravings have subsided and the desires sent astray
Asking of you to come dance on my shore
And I will dance on yours
Exploring the rapture in the uncertainty
                Uncovering our laughter
Which feeds heaven’s doors
                With no attachment only
Wonderment for what lies
                Beneath these once troubled waters
Ready to immerse myself in what has been
                Placed in front of us with great serendipity
Rather than run as we have in our Ancient pasts
                I stand before you offering you my truth
And giving you my hands with trust and certainty
I ask you to stay awhile
Or as long as our flame continues to burn
Place your shield and staff on the floor
And trust something greater than all our wisdoms
Leading each other with a soft gaze and a full heart
Penetrating each day with a new story…yet to be told
                Just Trust that which is to unfold

Hidden Treasure

Soft threads wrapping
around a shell.

 A precious stone
buried beneath
 the tongue of many
forgotten stories.

  Curves with brilliance
in conjecture.

  An outlandish,
  from the cockles
of the connect.

 Chortles rattle
off the hard walls.
  Softening the
interior with
   each impression.

 The mouth opens
revealing truth...
in the belly
 of laughter.


$1000 gift paying it forward again and again--- Celebrating the abundant nature of the universe!

Last year, I received a satchel full of money on the front steps at my home. When that money arrived, I actually was out of town but my son called me and said “There was a lot of money left at the front door with a note.”  When, I returned home I was touched by the note, which read, "Thank you for all you do for the world." I immediately placed all of this money into my sacred fun, which is used for those in need or service projects. I continue to replenish this fund with gifts from my sacred work-- when it brings gifts of monetary value the money immediately goes into a fund. This has enabled me to grow the initial gift from the universe of $1000, since then, I have attracted and given back at least two to three times this. The abundance just keeps going out to the world and keeps coming back to me. Which, I keep the abundance flowing and continue to pay-it-forward again and again. The actual amount is irrelevant to me---it is more important for me to keep the cycle going.  
Initially, I quickly distributed some of the funds to a local charity, passing it on to kids selling candy, I put $200 dollars under a sleeping homeless person's head, I bought a friend a necklace that she could not afford and gifted it to her anonymously, paid for a group of ten do-gooders dinner, paid for a friends plan ticket to Los Angeles and gifted for some friends to enjoy some activities while we were on vacation. Then, a few weeks ago, my friend's boyfriend had an invitation to have dinner with an accomplished photographer and new he would need at least 100 dollars to dine with him. He did not want to spend the money but I knew it was important for him to go out with this photographer to connect and receive information and ideas from him. So, I gifted him the money asking him to pay-it-forward. The lesson for him was really about learning to receive because he did not want a hand out. After giving to him, I decided to pay attention and acknowledge what was sent back to me. I really wanted to recognize the abundance as it appeared in all shapes and sizes. 
The next day, I was heading to Italy and upon my arrival, I had to jump on a train to Rome, I had this yoga bag filled with 3 mats and my flute, a hand carved Native American flute, I use it to bring people out of meditation. It has a very special place in my heart and was made with a lot of love. I had secured it to my luggage and left it parked by other bags on the train. Now, everyone has warned me of the thieves on the trains but I really do not like to feed into that negative energy. I always trust that which I am supposed to have with me will stay with me. After a wonderful talk with a young girl from China, we arrived in Rome, as I was leaving I noticed my bag had been moved and the yoga bag was no longer attached to the bag. My friends were relying on those mats for the next week during our yoga retreat. I knew I could do without and I realized that the universe had given me my wish, I had wished my  load was going to be lighter while I traveled through Italy. I was actually already feeling too weighted down by that extra bag. I also knew that my flute which had to be the draw not three used yoga mats would soon find it self in someone's hands who would make beautiful melodies with it. As for person that took the bag must have needed some money and hopefully they would make the money they needed by selling my stuff or better yet start practicing yoga. Right there I noticed I had received the first gift of a lighter load which would help me shortly after departing the train. 

As soon as I exited the hustling terminal, I was greeted by a bright eyed cab driver. The cab driver told me that I would not be able to walk to the hostel where I was going to meet my friend. Acknowledging that the streets filled with Italian chaos, I decided to trust and jumped into the taxi. I was very grateful as I quickly remembered how busy the streets of Rome are. Second gift--received a ride from a kind Italian man, he saved me a lot of potential frustration. Next, upon arrival to the hostel, Krista informed me that we were being moved across town back where I had come from to another hostel.  I was really thankful I had one less thing to carry since we had to climb many flights of stairs. At the second hostel, they told us they were full. We were waiting with another gentleman who was experiencing the same situation as we were. He was given the last room but we decided to wait in hopes that something would turn up. After waiting for about 15 minutes the gentleman said, "We are going to move you across the street. I will help you with your bag." Third and fourth gift, a room across the street and a man willing to lug my big bag for me.  I was feeling very abundant and we were graciously put into a room with three other people. We quickly deposited our goods and headed out for dinner. Krista and I found this amazing Italian cafĂ© and indulged in our first Italian meal together in Rome with a charming waiter at our service. He was so sweet to drive Krista and I back to our hostel that night. Fifth gift, free cab ride!
Finally, I must acknowledge the gifts kept coming during my entire trip in Italy, down to the universe creating enough space and time for me to leave my hotel in Rome at 8.20 am to make a flight at 9.40 am at an airport that is a 40-50 minute drive outside the city. I even had to check my heavy bag and go through customs. They also should have charged me for my heavy bag but since I was late she said there was no time for me to pay. Sixth and Seventh gift---made my flight and saved 50 Euro. All of these gifts do not have a specific value but if I put a value on any of them they would far exceed the 100 dollars I had given away. These gifts did not appear in an obvious manner; however, I recognized them every step of the way. When I returned from Italy, I received more money which has been added to my secret fund and I am ready to continue paying it forward. The saga continues as free economy continues to flourish in my little abode near the shore of Long Beach.

May you all continue to recognize how abundant the universe is and continue to PAY IT FORWARD!

Written by Suzanne Schafer

Full Circle with and Pearl S. Buck

Full Circle
All things are possible until they are proved impossible - and even the impossible may only be so, as of now. -Pearl S. Buck
Pearl S. Buck had a dream to create a bridge between the East and West---a desire to give children a better life, an opportunity to connect indirectly back to part of their lineage and a chance for many countries around the world to help out children in need. Allan Pineda, also known as Apl de Ap of the Black Eyed Peas, journeyed from the Philippines to the United States to fulfill a similar dream for his family and for his future. He has always held a deep desire to give back to children that have similar stories like his from his homeland and throughout Asia. His vision echoes Pearl’s foresight and is simply stated through the actions of giving and reminding oneself and the world that there is no separation between race, class or gender. Ultimately, Allan reminds others, as did Pearl S. Buck, that all children deserve a home, food, education and healthcare. With this sentiment that Allan wears as a badge of conviction, I will share with you his story and the impact that the Pearl S. Buck Foundation had on his life and bring it full circle back to all of those whom have been touched by Allan’s life and Pearl S. Buck’s legacy.

Allan’s Story
Allan and I did not realize when we first met that he was potentially a degree of separation closer to his birth father than he had ever been or might ever be. Similarly, we both are offspring of fathers in the United States Air Force-my father was stationed in Hawaii when I was born and my childhood friend’s father was stationed in the Philippines when she was born. My connection to the Philippines started as soon as I met my friend, Tiffany. Both of our fathers were in the Air Force during the same time Allan’s father was stationed in the Philippines, and both of our fathers possibly knew Allan’s father. Even though our stories and backgrounds are different, there is a bridge connecting the East and West between us. We realized that there was a connection between an impoverished island nation, America, the US military and a desire to give back to those who continue to suffer and struggle.  That bridge continues to connect us and many others with the mutual desire to give back to the suffering children, especially ones from Asia and other small communities around the world.  During the course of our friendship, Allan has shared his life story with me and educated me on how the great work of the Pearl S. Buck Foundation has provided to him, and many other children with similar stories as his, support and opportunities to live a life they had never imagined.

Allan is an Amerasian and from birth, he was immediately considered as a minority within his own homeland and family. He was a reminder to all of his community of the impact the United States Armed Forces had on their homeland. Despite the teasing he might have endured because he did not look like rest of the children, he actually was more impacted by the obstacle of his poor eyesight. Allan is legally blind and from a very young age he was presented with the question, “What are you going to be when you grow up if you can not even see the chalkboard?” It was actually his impaired vision that impeded his self-confidence not his race, and caused him to turn inward as a child. It is also his vision that caught his sponsor, Joe Ben Hudgens’ attention and inspired him to come and meet Allan in the Philippines. Allan did not realize as a child that his poor eyesight was a gift that would, in the end, sharpen his other senses and gifts that would ultimately lead him to his destiny and passion-music in America. He would often recollect his teacher’s words, putting him down for his inability to see and now realizes how his own professor did not believe that all is possible and consequently, Allan felt as if his dreams were some how raped from his spirit when he was told he would never amount to anything. 

After Joe first traveled to the Philippines, he arranged for Allan to come visit him in America, where Allan would have his initial taste of America, the land of opportunity. Like any young child, he was filled with the excitement and the hope which is infused in America’s spirit. During this time, Allan and his mother started to discuss the possibility of adoption. Joe wanted to bring Allan to America to help him with his eye sight, provide him with a better education and more options for his future. His single mother was faced with a difficult and emotional decision about giving her son up for adoption. She wanted to send her child over seas with the hope that he could create a brighter future for himself and his brothers and sisters. His mother, Cristina Pineda, was already grateful for all the services and financial support she had received from the Pearl S. Buck Foundation and now she understood, although faced with a difficult choice, this would be Allan’s opportunity for a better life.
Finally, after several years of working with the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, Joe, Allan and Cristina were able to proceed with the adoption. At the age of fourteen, Allan was sent to America to live with his new father.  Once again, Allan was being placed in a community where he would potentially be perceived as a social outcast and would be alienated from his homeland and his new community. Upon his arrival to America, he did not speak English, and the excitement of America did not seem to fill the sadness and longing he had for his family. He even asked his new father if he could take him home and was unfortunately faced with the harsh reality that he had to stay in the United States. He was now in his new home. Over the course of his life Allan is repeatedly placed in a position to move beyond the “impossible” and set the stage for what is “possible”.  The concept of the “possible” is deeply infused in the sentiments of Pearl’s writings and her foundation.

Allan kept this sentiment of the possible in his heart; shortly after arriving to the United States he met William Adams, whom would become a life long friend and band mate. Allan and Will effortlessly created symbiotic rhythms and beats which quickly lead them to rapping and performing around town. He always kept a knowing in his heart, which suppressed any doubt he placed on himself as a young boy. During the earlier years of his music career, he would always hold onto the vision of success when they encountered road blocks along the way. The death of friend, Eazy-E, and owner of the record label to launch their album---coupled with their debut album Grass Roots never being released for reasons related to the social content of their music which would reduce the marketability to their audience. Only motivated Allan and Will to change directions and the name of their group to the Black Eyed Peas; it was this change just like the one Allan had endured years prior when he came to America that led them to their success.

Allan’s musical success has provided him with a sense of accomplishment and the financial means to finally give back to his family. In 1998, Allan finally traveled back to the Philippines’ and reunited with his mother. He was confronted with a flood of memories and a reminder of the loneliness that always occupies his heart and simultaneously filled with gratitude for the opportunity to maintain a relationship with his entire family. Something, most of the children that are adopted are never afforded. Acknowledging he missed his homeland and embracing his deep desire to give back to the Philippines’, Allan made a commitment to himself to assist other children in the future. The underlying desire inspired him to start by giving back to the organization that made it possible for him to come to the United States; he was indebted to the Pearl S. Buck Foundation. The feeling and sense of possibility encroached Allan’s being once more---inspiring him now to give by sharing his music, raising awareness and funds to support and inspire other children in the same situation he was in over twenty years ago. Now, he has come full circle with his music in hand and a mission to remind all the children of the world to never stop dreaming and as Pearl said herself, “All things are possible until they are proved impossible - and even the impossible may only be so, as of now.”  Allan shares this conviction with others and reminds them of the abundant fortune that lies in the simplicity of life. The bridge Pearl dreamed of creating between the East and West, ultimately, is now extended out to the entire world and will continue to connect all of these global communities. Allan continues to support Pearl’s mission and the bridge she created by continuing the dialogue as he shares his story to raise awareness and support for these children.

Full Circle
With my indirect connection to an impoverished island nation, a direct connection to America, and a deep desire to give back and inspire those who continue to suffer and struggle. I, too, intend to support Pearl’s work by supporting a similar dialogue within Allan’s communities and inspiring change within the communities that have not taken full responsibility for the footprint they left behind and continue to leave in many countries throughout Asia. 

Pearl was ahead of her time and her fore thought inspires me on a personal level and as a visionary to continue to provide for the children and inspire the third world to embrace their great fortune which sometimes presents itself in hardship or in the beautiful face of a child with simple needs---love, food and shelter.  Ultimately, the impossible will metamorphous into the possible as the stories continue to unfold for these children and the countries supporting their future. The full circle encompasses a giant web of children and adults that are connected directly and indirectly which intertwines the East and West with the dreams and the sea of possibilities---a circle created by Pearl’s knowing and vision that all is possible.