Tag Archives: Writer

Psst, I published a book!

To be precise, I self-published an e-book! And within a few days, there will be a paperback version, too!

Those familiar with my writing on education already know that peacebuilding is really important to me. It is the way I believe we will be able to make the world a better place. I’ve written extensively about how this can be done in classrooms with students, but I’ve also realized that much of my writing on acceptance, forgiveness, and understanding oneself relates to peacebuilding, as well. We must live peacefully if we want to build a world that is peaceful.

In the book, I explain my own journey to understand what peace means and what it means to live peacefully. Then, I outline how peacebuilding can become a focal point of the work we do with young people. Though I focus on education that takes place in schools, this discussion is by no means restricted to formal schooling and can easily be applied to parenting and informal educational environments.

If we want to make the world a better place, we need to start with peace. Peace begins in our beliefs, attitudes, and identities, which influence the way we approach others. Acting peacefully, towards others and ourselves, is essential to develop a world that is better than the one we have today.

Please click here to find this e-book (and soon-to-be paperback) on Amazon. As always, I welcome any and all feedback. Thank you so much for your support!

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An Open Letter to New York City: Part II

Dear New York City,

When it’s a sunny day and I’m sitting outside in a park, it’s hard to hate you. And the truth is, it’s hard to hate you at all now that I’ve been here long enough. You’ve taken me in and somehow made yourself a home in me. You’re in the feet that have traversed your streets, the legs that have climbed the stairs of your subways, the chest that has felt the vibrations of your buses, trains, and street music, the hands that have opened countless doors, the eyes that have seen people from all walks of life, and the mind that decided to give you a chance.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t know that we’re best friends. Some days, I think you’re shunning me altogether. Those are the days where I can’t find what I’m looking for, when I take a wrong turn, when I miss the early Metro-North train, when I have to go to three grocery stores and the streetcar man to find one item. Those are the days when no one looks up, no one smiles, and no one seems to care whether the people around them are there at all.

Those are the days, New York, when you tire me.

But more often, now that I’ve met you where you are, more often you’re a delight. Your sights, sounds, smells, and tastes tickle the senses in ways both good and bad but always alive. You’re demanding because your offers never end. There’s culture, food, and experience on literally every block. You’re always awake, always ready, always open to take in the next weary traveler. But you’re tough, too. You don’t give in without a fight and I’ve certainly never seen you give up.

New York people have stories and you feature prominently in all of them. New York people are here for a reason, hustling for a reason, and all attribute their actions to the energy, drive, and culture that you’ve cultivated. You create spaces for people who don’t have patience for you, waiting just outside until they peek out. For them, for me, you have quiet little cafés, parks and river paths, libraries and independent bookstores. You reserve places for the people who are afraid to find them on their own. And when they’re ready, you open the doors to everything else that is out there, the glitz, glamour, grittiness, and attitude of the greatest city in the world.

And of course, you have community neighborhoods that all feel different. That’s my favorite part about you – you take all these people, you watch as they split themselves into group after group, and you let them develop into a patchwork of lives, a quilt of everything that makes you who you are. You cross rivers. You encompass islands. You’re connected by bridges and tunnels, by the people who cross them and by the people whose lives are crossed by them. You’re a story of who we are and how we got here. You’re a story of the people who flock to you and will continue to come.

Without a doubt, you’ve changed me. You’ve made me more curious about people but less likely to voice my curiosity. You’ve made me warier but more willing to test the waters. Because of you, I’m more confident but much quieter. I’ve asked more questions, read more books, found more answers, wiped away more tears. You’ve forced me to embody resilience, to learn from experience, to solve problems I never expected to have. You’ve taught me to ask for help and to accept it when it comes. You showed me people who struggle and promised a path forward. I followed you and found it.

Once upon a time, you scared me a little. You were too big, too loud, and too fast. You were full of people who knew you and loved you. I didn’t know you. I didn’t love you. Some days, all I want is to love you. Other days, I catch myself doing just that. I’m ready to say goodbye to you only because you’ve left me wanting more. You’re not going anywhere and I’m sure I’ll be back one day. There’s no place like you, New York City, and I’m grateful I’ve had a chance to call you my home. See you soon.

Love always,

Rebecca Michelle

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PS You can read my first open letter to NYC here.

An Open Letter to New York City

Dear New York City,

Most days, I hate you.

I spend a great deal of time startled by your noise, crammed into your trains, waiting in your lines, trying to get around leisurely walkers on your streets and sidewalks, and stunned at your prices. Most days, frankly, you are anything but serene with your noise pollution, skyscrapers, and frenetic pace of existence. Stop and smell the roses doesn’t exist here, so much so that there aren’t even any roses.

But when I stop to think for a moment, you do continue to leave me in awe. How have you built skyscrapers so tall and so wedged together that they often eliminate the need for sunglasses? How have you constructed a mass transit system that allows me to go anywhere (except, regrettably, work) without the need of a vehicle? How have you managed to welcome people from all corners of the sky and unite them in the common desire of finding the best bagel or slice of pizza?

Your shops, subway notices, and countless agencies and organizations operate in languages I’ve never heard of and can’t recognize. You have a sense of style and flavor influenced by all those who dream of you, flock to you, gaze around in anticipation.

You have an energy that is unmatched. You are always ready for the next innovation, and not just because you’ve anticipated what it is. People write songs, poems, and stories about you. You are the cool kid on the playground, the teacher’s pet, the current big thing and the next big thing. You are, by millions, loved.

And like anything loved, you are often trying. You are an exhausting place to be at the end of the day when all I want is a carton of milk at the grocery store. You make it hard to manage a budget – so much to do and it all costs so much money! But you give a little, too. You build parks, organize parades, and sponsor cultural events. You know you’re expensive, and sometimes you apologize and provide a free night at a museum, knowing you’ll be forgiven.

As hard as I try to understand you, you remain a mystery. Your abundance of options and activities has me perpetually concerned that I’m missing something. As I cope with feeling left behind, I gravitate towards the places I’ve come to feel comfortable and at home. They know me at a coffee shop now. Isn’t that enough? Must I continue to seek out yet another? Goodness knows you have them! And that’s precisely the problem – you have everything and it’s left up to your residents to find it.

In a lot of ways, you’re a playground bully. You taunt and yell, urging more and faster. And then when someone looks up, you are contrite. You open a door to somewhere quiet. You wink and slip away for a while.

It’s been an adventure getting to know you. You’re like a best friend – present, patient,  accepting, full of adventure and excitement – and also like a worst enemy – loud, invasive, taunting, difficult to shake. Some days we get along pretty well. Other days, I want nothing to do with you and it seems like you want nothing to do with me. We have a love-hate relationship, you might say. Or, more accurately, a like-hate relationship.

Getting to know me as I relate to you has been a different adventure entirely, one that is very much a work in progress. You’ve brought out things in me I don’t like – a tendency to walk with my head down, a reluctance to speak to strangers, a sense of urgency even when I’m not going anywhere, a feeling of hopelessness, anxiety, isolation, and frustration at the poverty you’ve permitted, the children you’ve let down, and the inequality that you allow to persist.

But I have to thank you, too. You constantly remind me that there’s work to be done to improve the world. You force me out of my comfort zone every minute of every day. You’ve emboldened me to read, write, and think about the choices I’ve made and the choices I will make in the future. Whatever doesn’t kill me will, in the end, make me stronger.

You’re unlike any other, New York. And though there are many, many days when I want to give it all up, throw in the towel, and call it quits . . . I’m not quite through with you.

Love always,

Rebecca Michelle

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