(2) The Peace Generation — LOVE OR FEAR

(2) There are ALWAYS two choices: love or fear. If you want peace then CHOOSE LOVE.

sleepy gosling lake2Love leads to peace. So how do you know you’ve chosen love rather than fear? Its easy — you will be at peace with the decision. There may seem to be chaos for a time around your decision. But you will be at peace. So what good is fear? Fear shows us the boundaries we should establish so that we can love freely without being hurt or surrendering our right to a peaceful existence.

Image5coyoteVery young children don’t need to be taught this. They know who they want to hug or play with. We as adults sometimes teach them otherwise. If a child’s instinct said love this coyote from a distance — would we as adults insist the child hug the coyote? Hopefully not. If a child’s instinct said to love one of our friends or relatives from a distance — would we as adults insist the child hug that adult ? It happens.

Canada Geese Goslings Lake NeatahwantaImagine a family gathering and a great-aunt or uncle opens their arms for a three-year old to run over and give them a big hug. The child backs up into the parent’s legs. What does the parent do? Decide the child needs to show the relative love and literally nudge them toward the relative to give the unwanted hug?

The nudging parent acted out of fear. The child acted out of self-love and chose peace. Pushing the child away and toward what or whom they feared vetoed the child’s instinct. Why the nudge? The parent wasn’t AT peace with the situation but rather trying to KEEP the peace. A few moments of chaos might ensue because of the child’s decision but the child would have been at peace. It may never come to light why the child backed away. Maybe the relative is intrinsically not a nice person or maybe the relative had a spider dangling over their head. Either way is the child being taught to associate love with fear rather than love with peace? I think so.

Image3catsIf we push a child toward what they fear enough times we shouldn’t be surprised when we sit down to teach them about peace if they put in the ear buds and crank the volume on their music. We teach what we know. So if we want to teach our children peace — first we have to know it ourselves.

So in writing all of this I would add to what I would tell a child:

TRUST YOURSELF to know the difference between love and fear. Don’t fear fear. If it pops up — use FEAR as a guide toward PeACE and the knowledge of what boundaries need to be erected to be at peace and then let the fear go.

What would you teach a child about peace?




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(1) The Peace Generation — THERE’S A PURPOSE JUST FOR YOU

not dead zone trees Great Bear The Artists4Peace site asked for a list of 5 things that one would teach to a child about peace. This request coincided with my getting a lot of nudges from my inner guidance system to teach children spiritual stuff. It has taken me a few days to put the two together. I have continued to say to myself, But I don’t have any children in my life. What kid do you want me to teach? I’ve always preferred science to math but I finally added the two ideas together for my ah-ha moment. I don’t know what five ideas to list so I decided to start with one at a time. If you would like to read what others have listed on the Artists4Peace post click here. So to myself and all other “adults” out there wishing to have the next generation be THE PEACE GENERATION — here starts my first suggestion of what I would say to a child about peace. (please share yours in the comments).


path Great BearThere would be a lot more peace on this planet if each child was taught that it is okay for them to follow their own path. Imagine what the square peg feels like as someone tries to ram it into the round hole. Each child we try to force to conform to a purpose that is not their’s — they know the pain and futility of being the square peg. As parents/teachers/adults it might help if we fired ourselves from being the bosses of our children and instead became their tour guides. As a tour guide, we wouldn’t tell them exactly where to go or what to do when they get to their destination. We would open up the vast possibilities of the world to our children and let them decide if they want to go to Paris Texas or Paris France? If they want to get there by sitting in coach seating or by flying the plane themselves? If they love football — do they want to be the quarterback or the cheerleader or the coach or a spectator?

Ice Guardian Photo FAA Art ShowLots of times as adults we think because a child is talented at something — they win trophies or get “A’s” — that that must be their purpose and we MUST as adults do what ever it takes to ensure they advance along that path. Before you decide what path your child should pursue — ask them to talk about what you’ve chosen for them — does their face light up or do they withdraw? Do they want to tell you everything about “it” or do they change the subject? Are they waiting at the door to go to the lesson or is there a “battle” every time to get them to put their shoes on?

I got “A’s” in chemistry — but I HATE it with all my being. I was divorced and broke and needing money and I was offered a job teaching chemistry. I almost took it. I declined for myself and the children I would have taught. Those kids deserved to have a teacher who was passionate about the subject. And I deserved to fulfill my purpose. (Because I turned down that job, I was free to accept the one I wanted a short time later.)

Our children and our world will be a much more peaceful place if each and every child was told today — YOU HAVE A PURPOSE — EMBRACE IT.


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My Peace Heroes

51+ Million Trees Later

Image25treesWangari Maathai is one of my peace heroes. Like most successful peace activist, she started with making change on a small-scale. She planted trees in her rural area so that poor women and starving children could have a healthier more sustainable life. Professor Maathai was founder of the The Green Belt Movement and winner of the Noble Peace Prize.


Image4tree0086Quote: “For me, one of the major reasons to move beyond just the planting of trees was that I have a tendency to look at the causes of a problem. We often occupy ourselves with the symptoms, whereas if we went to the root cause of the problems, we would be able to overcome the problems once and for all.”


me at Sterling Nature CenterI would challenge that anyone who is not at peace in their life it is because they are failing to examine and address the root cause of their distress. A new spouse isn’t going to make you happy after you’ve left the old one if you don’t know why the relationship failed. Being thinner, prettier, wealthier isn’t going to make one happy if the inner voice keeps repeating, “You’re never going to be good enough.” Turning up the air conditioning won’t solve the reason your area is on day 20 or 100 of record heat.

tree roots North BayOne of the best descriptions of anger I was ever given for a child was: the branches that we see on a tree represent the anger a child displays — go to the roots of the tree and there you’ll find sadness — find out why the child is sad and the anger will go away. Or to say it another way — as Professor Maathai believes go to the cause or the root of the matter to solve the problem and find peace.

It may seem strange to list myself as one of my own peace heroes and a few years ago I certainly would not have done so. It is not with pride or arrogance that I do so now. It is with the knowledge that we recognize in others what we know to be true about ourselves. For me to be able to see the peace hero in others there must be at least a bit of that in me. If you are able to admire peace in others than it resides in you — you and I don’t need Noble Peace Prizes or international accolades to be a peace hero. Sometimes being a peace hero is as simple as being aware an “attack” from another is fear and a cry for help. This is the moment to be aware that they need love rather than condemnation. Love will bring the peace — even if it must be given from a safe distance. I am most imperfect with my peace actions but I am willing to continue striving every day to seek peace and love.

No Bullets Fired — Four years without war

(former) President Jimmy Carter like all great peace activist has held true to his beliefs throughout his presidency and well beyond. For four short years, we had a president who knew the balance between the yin and yang. He sought peaceful resolutions — moved sustainable energy to the forefront and supported the notion that the poor are not helpless to be given handouts rather than a hand up. Through his work with Habitat for Humanity he has supported people assisting in the building of their own homes and then others as well. He has been awarded the Noble Peace Prize and if you listen to his TED talk you will get an inkling as to why he received this honor.

There is a reason we feel more peaceful in nature

When I’ve seen to too much news about wars and other human atrocities. When I’ve listened to too much gossip and bickering from those around me. When I’ve breathed in too many toxic chemicals that are supposed to improve my life. When my body feels the anger and discord that so often vibrates around me. I go walk among my peace heroes and absorb their peaceful intent.

painted turtle and snapping turtle Sterling Nature Center

black-backed gull Canada goose river Fulton


Canada Geese Great Blue Heron Glimmerglass Lagoonpeace to each of you — you are all peace heroes or you would not have taken the time to have read this post!



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What Does Peace Look Like?

What does peace look like? This is a question posed by Artists 4 Peace. So what do you think peace looks like?

mallards bathing North Bay2Which duck is the more peaceful? Is it the one calmly bobbing up and down giving no resistance to where the waves take him? Or the contortionist, who was twisting and turning and splashing and at times flipping upside down? If one believes that peace is a passive thing then I suspect you chose the duck in the foreground. If you view peace as that inner joie de vivre then I suspect you chose the duck in the background.

flying Canada goose North Bay

Is this goose at peace? Who wouldn’t be at peace — flying over calm waters on a sunny day? Moments before this photo was captured the goose was floating near shore seeming to be at peace with my standing there snapping photos of him. And then a group or is that a gaggle of geese came honking and flying by and got all the other geese seemingly riled up.

flying Canada geese North Bay

The thing about a moment of angst in the animal world is just that — A MOMENT. The geese didn’t attack me. The geese didn’t try to get every goose on the lake to hate or despise me because I’m different from them. The geese didn’t have to tell everyone they knew about their moment of fear thus reliving it hundreds of times. They flew a few yards away and forgot all about that one moment of fear and went back to living in the moment of swimming on a beautiful lake on a sunny day.

Canada Geese Lake Neatahwanta

Is this pretty Yellow Warbler at peace? It seems to be in this photo. I feel at peace looking at it. I love birds and my favorite color is yellow and I still remember the songs of many birds surrounding me as I took this shot.

yellow warbler RHLAnd yet, I would believe that this warbler was NOT at peace. In fact, he was quite agitated. I was way too close to this…

yellow warbler nest North Bay

He tried to draw me away from this nest. He hopped and flitted and tweeted. Is it possible to glimpse a moment in time and know what is in someone else’s heart? How often do we as humans for a fleeting moment see a glimpse of someone’s exterior and decide we know all there is to know? How often do we believe that everything is just fine because that is what we want to see?

Canada Geese Goslings Lake Neatahwanta

The gosling all snuggled against his father’s breast — is he at peace? Indeed, moments before there was chaos and I think I can go as far as to say terror. I stood on the shore deciding whether to take two steps around a fallen tree to get a clear shot or wait for the geese to swim by. Suddenly, the geese were panicked. They frantically tried to reverse direction. The goslings were getting tossed about in their parents’ wakes. As I had walked though the woods, I had inadvertently scared a Great Blue Heron who flew directly over the geese within inches of their heads. I was so stunned I missed the shot. the gosling all snuggled up against his parent is there because the fear of his parents created a ripple effect in the water and it swept him away until he collided with his parent.

Goslings North Bay

If I had to pick a photo that shows what peace looks like it is this one. At first, when I walked by the new goslings, the parents swam away and non-parental geese joined around them. I stood there peacefully at distance. And then a day or two later, the geese were content to swim by me. I stood there peacefully snapping my photos. In another couple of days, the geese allowed their babies to be on shore near me BUT with the parents looking very attentively at my every move. If I sensed them tense, I moved further away. The lake has a 10 mile circumference and yet one day — the parents turned and swam straight toward me as I stood near the shore. While the parents hung back in the water — the babies walked up onto shore. It was a phenomenal gift of peace and love and respect.

goslings and Great Blue Heron Lake NeatahwantaIn truth, I cannot tell you what peace looks like. I can, however, tell you that when you feel it there will be no doubt that you will ever want to feel anything else ever again.  I took this photo yesterday. If the heron and geese can forgive and live in peace — maybe there is hope for us humans too.




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Daily Peace

How does one find peace in daily life?

lokidecksnow3The short answer would be it is the only place one can find peace. We can’t live in the future or relive the past so there is only this one moment to decide if we want to be at peace. This of course is easy to write about but not so easy to live. If it was easy we would all live in peace. So what do I do to find peace?

frostedwaterfowloswegoDetermine where and when I am living at this moment.

My body may be “living” at this moment on the couch or on a walk in the woods. But I have found my daily peace does not depend on where my body is but rather where my mind exists. Having been disabled with MCS (multiple chemical sensitivities) a few years back — I rarely leave my house. The exposure to the toxic chemicals in synthetic fragrances makes me extremely ill. In our society there is virtually no where that I can go without being exposed.

Image8lokiMy body resides in virtually the same place every day therefore my level of peace should be the same every day. And yet, it is not, because my thoughts determine my level of peace.  It took me more than a half century to get this. For most of my life I focused on my body: height, weight, blood sugar levels, vitamins, vaccines, exercise, amount of sleep, clothes I wore, hair cuts, makeup, jewelry, level of body odor, tans, injuries, illnesses …. I spent very little time on my emotional or psychological well-being. Twisted ankles, flu, or concussions — I went to a doctor. OCD, panic attacks, or depression — I kept it to myself.


sunset5This doesn’t mean to ignore my physical well-being. What I’ve found is if I shift the primary focus of my attention to my mind health then my body health improves as well. If I go for a walk to get in better physical shape then I tend to power though the walk so I get physical benefits but my mind is still tangled up over the trials of the day. If I go for a walk to clear my head then I find myself in a more peaceful state plus my blood pressure is down and I’ve built stronger muscles and I’m more energetic.


Image7noxREAD aka A MIND and BODY VACATION — I read for curiosity and knowledge and humor and peace. Reading allows me to suspend the normal reality of bills and work and toxic chemicals and international strife. When I read I mentally, emotionally and physically become part of the story. I find peace in being able to imagine that I can go anywhere and be anyone I want.

Image7woodsMEDITATE — When I meditate it is pure peace. If I’m successful at meditating and I’m not always successful — all thoughts cease. There are no thoughts of rejection or humiliation or judgment or hostility or loneliness. There is just a peaceful silence.

dragontreeHOBBY (PHOTOGRAPHY) — For me the definition of a hobby is to do something that one loves for no other reason than it is a joyful thing to do.

Image2whitetaileddeerWALK WITH NATURE — I deliberately did not say “walk in nature”. If you’re walking with nature then you have become one with your environment. The other living creatures will calmly welcome you into their space. It is difficult to be filled with anxiety when one is breathing in fresh air, listening to leaves rustle in the wind or watching birds flit about.

Image4momCONNECT — Loneliness is a destroyer of peace. Family, friends, strangers… I find I am much more peaceful if I reach out and connect with others.

questionmarklitterLET GO OF MY JUDGMENTS — I have found the quickest way to obliterate my peace is to judge others. This butterfly made no judgment against the fishermen that left this cup that had held worms laying on the ground.



These are some of the things I do to find peace each day. What brings you peace?




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Animals: Their Gift of Peace and Harmony

When we feel downtrodden …

turkeyvultureAnimals remind us to soar.

When we become numb to the world around us…


Animals demonstrate that fun is a moment away.

When the world seems bleak …

Animals reveal the world is a vibrant place.

When people seek to mark their surroundings so that future generations will know they were here and what they accomplished…

Animals remind us that leaving the world as beautiful and pristine as when we arrived is the more noble gift.

When humans focus on differences and getting ahead…

Animals spend most of their days in peace and harmony.

May you be surrounded by the peace and harmony of animals today.



Day 328 In the Pursuit of Love (World Peace)

World peace starts with my own inner peace. If I haven’t done my own forgiveness work how can I expect someone else to do theirs. Lessons I’ve learned about peace:












What have you learned about your own inner peace? What would you be willing to change for world peace?





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Day 11 In Pursuit of Love

My parent's tree


“… I love you, much much,” by Don O’Brien Sr.

This quote is the last line from a saying my dad said to me every night until he died December 25, 1966. I was six. Fast forward about 40 years, I stood  in a hospital cafeteria on Christmas morning. My mom had been raced into surgery for her heart — unfortunately another surgery in a string of surgeries. Things didn’t look good. But I have low blood sugar and skipping breakfast would mean passing out. So that is how my (step) dad and I ended up the cafeteria to be able to tell this story of altruism. (Thankfully, my mom survived.)

The first altruistic act was from the server to me. He heard me tell my dad of my blood sugar issues and piled my plate very high with eggs. It was the only way this stranger could help me and I still remember his thoughtfulness.

christamasThe second was from me to two other men. As I paid for our food — a much older man and a much younger man got in line to pay for their food. I told the cashier to put their orders on my bill. The younger man looked surprised but thanked me and moved on. The older gentlemen — well let’s say the conversation went something like this: “What? What do you mean? Who did that? Why would someone do that?” I smiled at the gentlemen and said, “Because it’s Christmas.” He got very quiet for a moment, “It’s Christmas? It is. It’s Christmas.” I replied, “Yeah and we’re here instead of home. So this is the only gift I have to give on Christmas morning.” The man teared-up, thanked me and went and sat down.

I chose this story because my act of altruism started with the young man serving me which reminded me to serve others. I also chose it so that I would remember not all people are able to receive love in the same way, but that doesn’t mean I should stop giving it.



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Day 279 In the Pursuit of Love (Against Violence — Part 2)

In Post 260, I said I didn’t really want to write about being against violence — I wanted to write about being for peace. And then Sarah on AngloSaxonCeltCreates wrote her piece Against Violence — and stirred up the hornets’ nest in my head.


As long as there is fear and as long as there are inequities in the world then there will be violence. But preventing violence needs to start from where we are. It is much easier to prevent violence if issues are addressed before there is an inciting incidence. When I was a teacher, I was informed there was going to be a fight when one of my kids left my room. I kept that child with me – wow was she mad — and when the halls cleared I took her to guidance. The two kids ultimately were able to talk it out.

There is always a ripple effect. The peace keeper student who told me of the problem started the ripple. I then was then next ripple of peace and then the guidance councilor and ultimately the two girls who were going to fight found a peaceful solution.

The ripple effect could have gone the other way. The peace keeping girl could have been too afraid to tell me. I would have not intervened. The girls would have fought. In all likelihood their friends would have started to argue about whose side to take. The kids would have been punished by the administrators and then parents would have to choose sides….ripple after ripple.


The first conversation starts in your head. The story you tell will determine a peaceful or violent end. A person cut me off on the highway. That is a fact. If I leave it alone and don’t add a story to the fact — it will merely be forgotten.

If I add a story that I am the luckiest person because the person having the bad day missed me. I feel great because I was so lucky and acknowledged there was nothing personal about the incident. There is a peaceful ending for both of us.

If I  add a story that the other driver should have seen me — therefore he is an incompetent driver and should be punished — and in fact he probably did it on purpose — and he needs to be shown a lesson — so I go after him to cut him off so that he’ll know what it felt like — we now have a case of road rage. There is a violent ending for both of us.


Before a big war breaks out there are usually some smaller skirmishes — disagreements — wrangling for power. There are usually many opportunities to stop the violence before it rages out of control. Just as it takes practice to be an effective peacekeeper — it takes practice to be an effective bully. Whether we are a country sending troops to battle or we’re dragging our spouse to court — there were probably many opportunities for the two sides to make peace.

We need to start looking for those opportunities if we want peace rather than violence. Before the big war we need to see our “enemy’s” fear and rather than capitalize on it for our own gain — we need to find a way to be present in the moment so that we can find a way to disperse the fear and open a space for peaceful conversation.

What do you think?



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Day 260 In the Pursuit of Love (Against Violence)

A few months ago, a couple of wonderful bloggers decided to start a blog dedicated to the expression of peace through art. To me peace and love are symbiotic. Besides daily posts, they accept posts for a special category that are all blogged on the 15th of the month. Artists4Peace chose Friendship for August and Living in Harmony with Nature for September — in my opinion — easy topics to showcase my writing and photographic art. The upcoming category — Against Violence — I am having a bit of a tussle with.

I really wanted to submit a post for each month. I feel VERY strongly that this blog can change the world. At first, I was just going to change the topic — but then I realized I would be just running from the issue. So these are the reasons I feel that I would be out of alignment if I wrote a post — Against Violence — since for many reasons, I feel it is more important to speak of what I am for — which is peace.

Knowing what you are AGAINST is not knowing what you are FOR.

If I say, I am against pickles. I am left with the question — WHAT AM I FOR?

WHAT am I actually against?

You might say, That is easy. Obviously, I am against war and genocide and rape and assault…

But I am personally “assaulted” whenever I leave my home and if the wind is blowing just right inside as well. With MCS — if someone is doing laundry with scented soap — this is an assault on my body. When someone walks by me wearing perfume — this is an act of violence against me. I can’t breathe just as if I had been choked. My body hurts as if I had been hit repeatedly. My head hurts and I am dizzy as if I had been punched in the head.

If you say, I am AGAINST violence — will you stop wearing “fragrances” of any kind?

Are you only against physical violence?

Do you consider calling someone a jerk an act of violence? Is it still violence if they weren’t there to hear it?

I stood in a doorway — unnoticed by a person speaking — and heard myself referred to as a Nazi. I felt like I had been punched in the stomach.

Gossip causes pain — so is that violence as well?

Wars start by two sides disagreeing on an issue resulting in a power struggle. Isn’t gossip a form of war? If you tell me all the nasties that a co-worker did — what now? If I agree with what you said and then spread my form of the truth to more and more people now we have formed an army against this co-worker who may be the nicest person in the world.

Will you stop the violence against yourself?

There is a reason the saying “Don’t BEAT yourself up about that,” includes the word “BEAT”.

Some people physically abuse themselves with drugs and cutting and eating disorders. Most people endure verbal abuse on a daily basis. NOT from a friend or lover but from OURSELVES. How many horrible thoughts do you have about yourself in a day?

I’m stupid. I’m fat. No one will ever love me. I wish I could be talented like….


The Law of Attraction is a law of the universe the same as gravity or centripetal force — not to be confused with the spiritual Law of Manifesting. Basically stated whatever you focus your thoughts and emotions on — you will attract to yourself. Here is the kicker…the word not or against has no meaning when applying this law. Take a thought and pull out the subject of that thought — THAT — is what you are attracting to yourself.

In the sentence, I am against violence of all types — what I am really focusing and attracting to myself is the subject of the sentence — which would be — VIOLENCE OF ALL TYPES.

So Now What? 

Knowing what you DON’T want is a place to start. But it is just that — a starting line. It is not an action. If you are going to run a race and you stay at the starting line — you have taken no action and you have certainly lost the race.

If you truly are against violence the next thought needs, in my opinion, to be SO NOW WHAT? Now that you know “fragrances” assault others — are you going to stop? You know that gossip hurts when it is about you — are you going to stop gossiping about others? Are you going to find peace in yourself so that your anger at yourself does not encourage the loss of peace in someone else.

What does the sentence, I’m against violence mean to you? Do you think going to an anti-war rally is the same thing as going to a pro-peace rally?



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