Jeni Stepanek, aka Mama Peace, has a daily alarm on her calendar, reminding her to pause, raise a glass or grateful hands, and “toast to someone, to something, and to somehow.” She does this because no matter what she’s going through on any day, it puts her in a position of gratitude for people and things and realities – it grounds her in connecting with something outside of “self.”
Jeni states that “toasting” dates back centuries, even millennia, and is rooted in many traditions — from offering gratitude to heavenly beings, to making bitter realities more palatable, to celebrating a local or global neighbor with a hearty #Huzzah! (a wonderful expression of “wow! & hooray!”).
Proudly being of Scotch-Irish heritage, Jeni says that a particularly meaningful toasting tradition for her is one that is rooted in “trust.” Legend has it that to commit to an agreement in those long ago days before contractual documents were the norm of legal bonds, her Celtic ancestors would clink glasses as a form of signing on the dotted line. Folks would clink their glasses heartily enough that some of the liquid from each person’s glass sloshed into the other person’s glass. This was a clever way to ensure that one person wasn’t trying to poison the other — and to connect with purpose, and trust.
Mattie’s Foundation believes that #PeaceMatters, and that trust is an essential part of the #Pathways2Peace. The messages that Mattie shared encourage us to “get to know our neighbors, around the block and around the world” and to “connect with purpose — for peace.”
We began hosting #Toast2Peace events several years ago, with pop-up or planned porch and park and pub gatherings around local neighborhoods and across the country. As social distancing became the need and norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, we transitioned our #T2P gatherings to virtual connections — including a few pop-up toasts, as well as planned monthly conversations with Mama Peace.
Our online #T2P events often have a specific theme or explore a Mattie poem or peace message. We also invite featured guest toastmasters to join us as we gather for conversation and celebration, and we “Raise a glass or grateful hands, and connect with purpose — for peace!”
Our “30 folks for $30” small size gatherings make conversation and Q&A easier for participants, and also support the mission and work of Mattie’s Foundation. Coming soon, we will also be hosting larger “Pop-up” Facebook Live events that will enable folks to learn more about what we are doing to #MakePeaceTheNews.
Pausing for peace matters. And, in the many traditions of toasting, we still (and always) — need to connect, with trust. Jeni likes to say “Mama wants to hear the clink!” That audible, tangible clink reinforces that we are, indeed, “connecting with purpose” in that moment, and that purpose can be rooted in contentment and gratitude, and hope and celebration, and yes — peace.
We hope (and trust) that you will join us for a #Toast2Peace event soon! #Huzzah!
Join us for our free end of year #Toast2Peace on Sunday, December 27, 2020!
Jackie Zamora will shake things up as our October Featured Toastmaster. Jackie is the Founder of ZamDance, a high-impact dance program for children and adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.
Our Featured Toastmaster for September 12 is Sylver Logan Sharp – an accomplished solo artist, host of #FeelBetterFriday, and former lead vocalist for Chic & Nile Rodgers.