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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The brave women who were part of the Suffrage Movement were treated in cruel and terrible ways. Alice Paul was one of these incredible women. She dedicated her life to getting women the vote. At one point she (along with other women) was arrested and placed into a damp and filthy prison cell where, after going on a hunger strike, Miss Paul was strapped to a chair and force fed, day after day. She never wavered in her belief that women deserved the right to be heard. All of the women were abused and mistreated.

I am grateful to these wonderful women for their courage and unwavering dedication. All of the jailed women suffered, chained to the bars of their cells, denied their medication, forced to live in truly unhealthy conditions, because they wanted women to have the same right to vote as men. They are my Sheroes…but Alice Paul captured my attention and my heart. I hold her in the highest esteem. I hope that if she were alive today she would smile at me and be happy for the years of work I have put into the Woman’s Movement because of her. I never take my rights for granted because I know the terrible price my foremothers paid so that I could enjoy the things available to me because of each and everyone of them. I’m grateful. Sheroes, each and every one.

by hitandrun1964

Harmony Begins With Me

Travel-wormhole“Peace begins not with countries, not with nations, and not with governments. Peace begins with you. Peace begins with me. Peace begins with each of us. It is within us.” ~ Prem Rawat


Wandering foreign back roads

Sans news bombarding me from every angle

Away from depressing snippets and soundbites

Construed to perpetuate division and unrest

I’m blissfully off the grid!

Society’s maladies forgotten

Replaced by a celebration of shared commonalities

Soaking up universal love

Strangers morphing into new friends

Eager to share stories of their homelands

Time condenses

A single afternoon reshaping my heart

Strolling enchanting cobblestone streets

Swapping mutually respectful gazes

Studying exotic features

Stunningly unique

Appreciating cultural nuances

Savoring the international pulse

Rather than having it interpreted for me

I’m reminded

Peace is not something wished for from a distance

But rather an empowering choice made with each encounter

Whether thousands of miles from home

Or in my own backyard

I must give my best

While seeking the same in others

Or risk living a sad life

Where I’m continuously offended

Immediately jumping to conclusions

Making examples out of every deemed wrongdoer

Leaving a dense cloud of negativity in my wake

Dearest Universe

Please draw me upward

Whenever I’m tempted to fly so low

Please open my eyes to just how rewarding life can be

When I remember

I’m obligated to find peace within my own heart

Because harmony begins with me…



**photo from our recent Balkans adventure: Sibiu, Romania

Luggage Lady




There are no walls in the forest

Where eagles rise with the tailwinds

And chlorophyll canopies shadow dance

Over moss carpet floors


Morning glory knows no barriers

Roots of the gnarled oak

Venture out in every direction

Baring their bones to the sun


Willows welcome the lark’s sweet song

Arms reach out without thought

Embracing those that walk peaceful paths

Embracing those that do not



Compassionately Converging


“Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends.” – Maya Angelou

♥ ♥ ♥

In my dreams

Humanity doesn’t just bustle by one another

We initiate inspiriting impressions

Sans preoccupation or fear of repudiation

Greeting one another joyfully

Sharing a smile

A funny tale

Or maybe even swapping life stories

Commonalities dissolving differences

Respectful minds OPEN



Approachable hearts expanding

Celebrating varying viewpoints and insightful interpretations

No matter how contrasting

Laughter and tears uniting

Difficult situations drawing us closer

Providing opportunity to stand in each other’s shoes

Appreciating the pain

While boldly rebuffing the destructive “us versus them” mentality

Bridging every gap in our power

Mindful we’re in this together

Spreading kindness rather than antagonism

Compassionately converging

♥ ♥ ♥

(Photo from my latest travels: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, Northern Ireland)

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Luggage Lady

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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