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WRITE TEAM: Breathe and appreciate today

It’s graduation time! Preschool, grade school, high school, college — it’s the time of year to celebrate academic accomplishments. Ending one chapter, beginning another; goodbye and hello; happy and bittersweet — it’s an emotional time.

It’s all about transition: leaving one thing behind and moving on to something else. Sometimes change is easy for us, and we look forward to what is coming next. Other times, the unknown can be scary. We want to make the right decisions.

We associate graduation with traditional ceremonies that formally recognize the rite of passage from one phase to another, but most people actually go through several forms of “graduation” throughout their lives.

There are many exciting times on the horizon for everyone: jobs, moves, relationships. No matter what our age, life is fluid and choices must be made.

Sometimes those decisions go as expected and other times our plans are interrupted by something else. Good and bad times come to everyone. Life may feel like a constant balancing act as we focus on doing what we hope is best.

Through all these changes, it can be difficult to maintain focus, to keep “you” in the forefront. We are good at caring for others, but we must listen to our own souls, too.

You can’t fill a glass with an empty pitcher.

Much wisdom can be found within the covers of a good book, and children’s books are often just as impactful for adults as for children. “I Am Peace” is a thoughtful book by Susan Verde and Peter Reynolds that reminds us all to slow down and be present in this moment.

It begins with a scene familiar to many people: “There are times when I worry about what might happen next and what happened before.”

We’ve all been there. You can’t turn your brain off. We replay an uncomfortable situation over and over again. We fuss over what may happen tomorrow.

“I give myself a moment. I take a breath. And then I tell myself: It’s alright.”

Simple, strong words that bear repeating: It’s alright.

“I feel the ground beneath my feet and steady myself and start to notice the HERE and the NOW. My thoughts begin to settle. My mind begins to clear. I am Peace.”

Slow down, stop obsessing, just be.

“I can watch my worries gently pop and disappear. I let things go. I know myself.”

Trust your instincts, all graduates, listen to what you know to be true, let hurt go. Believe.

“I can share kindness with others. I make a difference. I can feel my breath fill my whole body. I tune into me. I don’t need to worry about before or after. I am in THIS moment. I am peace.”

Yesterday and tomorrow are not the priority; breathe and appreciate today.

“Now I share my peace with others and hope that it is carried away to those who need it.”

For it’s only when we replenish ourselves that we have something to give to others. Fill that pitcher up so you have something to share. Being good to yourself allows you to be good to the world.

“And I dream…WE ARE PEACE.”

KAREN ROTH is a semi-retired librarian/educator living in Ottawa. To reach her, email

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