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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Soon (and very soon) it will be Christmas Day! Tuesday's Truths WK 106

The truth for this Tuesday is that in one week's time, it will be Christmas; and as I look at the photo atop this entry of me from many bygone years, I wonder, what did I ask Santa for?

This year has been a rough one health-wise and I am in deep trouble but am trying to remain positive, and I probably should ask Santa for some help.

On another note, I'm very grateful to have received a heartfelt letter of recommendation from the coordinator of "Speaking of Science" at The New York Society for Ethical Culture (NYSEC) where I did my presentation on 11-26-2018.

Hopefully this letter (which may be hard to read here so I've typed it out and if you'd like you can read it at the end of this entry) will help get people interested in hiring me to speak at various events as well as educational institutions; so Jolly Ol' Saint Nicholas, lean your ear my way...

December 8, 2018 New York City, NY

Re: Patricia Youngquist is an excellent public speaker 
To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing to encourage you to do yourself a favor by inviting Patricia Youngquist to speak about her love and passion: birds.

Patricia is a writer, photographer, and blogger with a great sense of kinship and empathy for these often undervalued winged companions in our daily life. I had the pleasure of hearing her talk, “Words in Our Beak” (as the title of her book series) on November 26/ 2018 as part of the Speaking of Sciences series of the New York Society for Ethical Culture (NYSEC); see youngquist-words-our-beak-2018-11-26-233000-2018-11-27-010000.

At this event, which was organized by me, Patricia delivered a wonderful talk, which was illustrated with her own sincere portraits of the birds that visit her garden throughout the year. She spoke about the deeply personal reasons why she began to photograph birds (quite a feat considering that she is visually challenged) and how this act transformed and healed her. Her words weaved a touching tapestry of personal anecdotes, memorable facts about the birds around us, poetry quotes and her own life experiences and reflections. Moreover, her talk was not a monologue. We were free to ask questions and comments, which made our experience uniquely intimate and a fountain for shared reflection.

With her as a guide, we took a journey through the meaning of the fleeting moments when we see ourselves in the other. For example, she mentioned that one of the birds that frequented her garden often tapped on a window in her courtyard, which puzzled her. Finally, she realized that the confused bird was battling his own reflection like we do when we struggle to accept ourselves and when we put a barrier to keep others at bay, not realizing that in doing so we isolate ourselves. Another memorable example for me was her experience of seeing a mourning dove with missing toes that made her reflect about the frailties in our bodies.

Patricia’s words provided a gentle guide for reflecting about ourselves and about how we relate to others and invite us to be aware of all the life and beauty that surrounds us. Patricia’s words offer much to everyone, no matter their age.

Jesús Torres-Vázquez, Ph.D.
NYSEC member and co-organizer of the Speaking of Science series

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