Category Archives: energy


(Intern’s note: This is the third interview in our ‘Possibilities’ series here on the thinkpeace blog.  We believe it is just as important to share our own stories as it is to hear about other powerful women who are living into their own greatness. They show us that no matter our age, financial situation, location, abilities, or stage of life, you can create possibility for your life. In my life, ceramics teachers have been the people who most encourage me to change or put a spark in me to live bigger. My current ceramics teacher, Akemi, has done exactly that. I’ve made work this semester that I could never have dreamed possible. And on a side note, I have to say that Akemi has the coolest sense of style of almost anyone I’ve ever met!)

Meet PowerGirl Akemi Maegawa

The Interview:



Nickname in Middle School or High School?


What did you want to be when you were growing up?

International traveler

What do you want to be now/what are you doing?

I do what I like to do now.

Flavor of Ice Cream that most describes you (not your favorite… the one that describes you)


How would you describe yourself in one word?


If you could flashback to your high school self would you tell her anything? If so, what?

Keep on going. You are doing great.

What do you love most about yourself?

That I have empathy.

Which one person has changed the course of your life? And why?

My husband. He saved me from my worst physical and psychological condition from my previous life and walked with me all the way to find myself again.

How do you motivate yourself?

I listen to my body and mind; eat well and sleep well.

How do you live into your full potential? How do you go after what you still want to be?

I try to fully appreciate what I have now and show my appreciation to the people around me. I do believe in the synergy effect and I believe an immeasurable happiness can be achieved only by sharing with others, not by keeping things or ability for myself. I want to find out how happy and excited we can be as human beings.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing girls in the world? How can we change the course of this?

The world is so big and girls live differently in different countries and different cultures. In some countries girls do not have basic human rights and they are treated like slaves or family commodities. That has to be stopped. Education is the only way to change this.

What’s next in your life for you? What is the next big action in your life? Change? A plan or goal that’s big?

I do not have any big plan or goal. I live one day at a time and try to do right things every day. One step is a small step but I think everything starts from the one step. When I have a chance to do something positive, I try to take an action instead of just thinking or talking. Moving one step further everyday towards the direction I want to go with all my friends and families will eventually lead to a big happy society and the world. To die in a better society is my goal.

let the gratitude flow

In Alaska this past summer (at the summer camp for girls I was working at), we talked about gratitude every single day, often multiple times a day; we read books about it, made up phrases about it, and shared it every single night at dinner. In the simplest way I understand it, gratitude is a specific and life changing action, thought, verbal or non-verbal communication and the subsequent acknowledgement. It is however, different from thankfulness. Thankfulness is often associated with exchange of goods or services, gratitude is something that penetrates your soul. As we head into this Thanksgiving week (or as my community of people call it the “Collective Feast of Liberation”) I think it is more imperative than ever that we think about the places we are grateful and where our gratitude flows out of us.

“Sarah. SARAH. Have you seen Taylor??? TAYLOR. WHERE IS HE???”

“Um… I don’t know. He was just here.”

“Samantha. Have you seen Samantha?”


My mom walked towards the foyer of our old Victorian-era house and I watched as I saw her heart literally drop in her chest. The door was wide open and Taylor was gone.

Due to the side effects of the drugs I am taking for my Lyme disease, most of my memory has been temporarily lost. There are a few events, people, and moments I haven’t forgotten. One of them is as clear in my mind as the day it happened; the day Taylor, my Autistic brother, wandered out of our inner city house and went missing.


As we ran down the stairs we saw our crazy neighbor Margaret holding our then new kitten, Samantha, in her arms. I don’t think mom said anything to Margaret, she just started running. Running through the traffic-filled streets, screaming and looking for Taylor. I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever felt my heart pump so fast since that day.

Last week’s New York Times Op-ed highlights this issue. (  The journal Pediatrics estimates that nearly 49% of people with Autism are prone to wander. With the rate of Autism now being 1 in 88, that’s a large number of people with Autism who are out in the world wandering.

Fortunately, we found Taylor that day. He was being carried by a man around the park near our house. I don’t ever want to think about the idea that we could have not found him that day. I’m not sure I would have been able to continue functioning if that was the case. However, not all parents and siblings are as lucky as we were. The case for a 14 year old Queens, NY boy is still active and while he is the most recent case, unfortunately he’s not the only one.

For many years after, I blamed myself for the fact that Taylor wandered out of our house– and yet I know that it wasn’t my fault. We had more locks on the doors in that house than a maximum security prison. Taylor is smart and can undo locks better than most locksmiths I know. He has wandered out of our current house many times even with deadbolts, spring locks, key locks, click locks, chains, and push and twist locks. He is just a smart kid with the desire to roam. And yet I worry, it wakes me up sometimes in the middle of the night. I never want to discover that my little brother is missing ever again.

Every morning that I wake and see him cuddled up and fast asleep in his bed, as I will this week when I head home, my body breathes relief. That sense of relief I feel is my gratitude– gratitude that we all made it through the night safe. Gratitude that I get another day to see his bright shining, smiley, loving face. And gratitude for myself that I have done my job as his sister to keep him safe.  In turn, my gratitude has a transference of energy, love. I love on that kid so much more, more kisses, hugs, fist bumps, late night drives through the country listening to Taylor Swift, hikes, and more “YES’s” than “No’s” come out of my mouth. Love that so greatly permeates time and space, love that goes deep-  as deep as the canyons and as high as the moon. Love that begins and ends with gratitude.

And so I challenge you PowerGirl, to truly dive deep this week into your soul and find the places where gratitude flows out of you.


(Intern’s note: This is the second interview in our ‘Possibilities’ series here on the thinkpeace blog.  We believe it is just as important to share our own stories as it is to hear about other powerful women who are living into their own greatness. They show us that no matter our age, financial situation, location, abilities, or stage of life, you can create possibility for your life. I met Jessie late in the summer of 2011. I was immediately captivated by her warmth and love– and the fact that we attended the same high school. She was a vital player in my coming out as queer. I can honestly say with my whole heart that she meets people where they are, holds space for who they are and want to grow into, and genuinely cares for humanity.  She has been and continues to be one of the most influential people in my life.)


JJ teaching GARMIN to chop wood, PowerGirl style!

Meet PowerGirl Jessie Justin

The Interview:



Nickname in Middle School or High School?

Sometimes people called me by my last name “Justin”, or “J”.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

Someone who could help people. Counselor or therapist…

What do you want to be now/what are you doing?

I want to be an art therapist in a school or private setting, with individuals and groups. Or/and, a facilitator for workshops/groups about social justice, white privilege, race, etc. Or, combine all of the above.  I am currently working as a mental health clinician visiting families in their homes, helping folks manage the stresses in their lives and navigate the federal and state programs that are in place to help support families in need.

Flavor of Ice Cream that most describes you (not your favorite… the one that describes you)?

Oreo is my favorite and probably best describes me. Sometimes it’s just a vanilla base, but often the cookie crumbles get pretty mixed up in there so it’s not as basic as it’s often described. The Oreo is sometimes crunchy, sometimes soft and mushy — I am sometimes hard shelled, but sometimes rather vulnerable. Sometimes when you bite in you get a chunk, a good chewy experience. Other times you can just ease right on through, simple as that. I can be both intense and easy going. There are lots of different types of Oreo ice cream… Each brand is different.

How would you describe yourself in one word?


If you could flashback to your high school self would you tell her anything? If so, what?

I would probably tell myself that it gets better — every year gets better and better (but I don’t know how I would have believed that when I was younger).  I was told something in high school by someone I respected, it shifted my world: Stand up straight, take your hands out of your pockets and put one foot in front of the other.

What do you love most about yourself?

My ability to be a witness. Sometimes to be a bridge.

Which one person has changed the course of your life? And why?

My mom. She’s my mom. She was one of the coolest people I’ve ever met, and a really good friend. She was a do-er. She was a change maker. She was someone who would love me, and someone who would challenge me. She helped me grow and be aware of the world around me.

How do you motivate yourself?

Good question. I try to check in with my feelings, my desires, my needs — combine them and head in a direction that seems like it will help me participate as a whole human being.

On the blog and in staff meetings we have been talking about being a “YES!” to our lives… what does this mean to you?

Being a YES, not just saying yes: positive attitude, hope, setting self up for successful steps.

What do you think is the biggest issue facing girls in the world? How can we change the course of this?

Very big question.  Ultimately, to narrow it down to “the” issue — sexism. What falls under this topic: internalized sexism, identity, sexuality, social equity, financial equality, all the oppressions, rights, etc…

What’s your next bold move?

To live my life through love and freedom. Make positive change for myself and others, while not oppressing others or myself in the process.


for the women: YOU ARE IMPORTANT!

So, why are we having a  thinkpeace workshop for women?

It has been a funky few weeks. Some people have said that Mercury is in retrograde. Others have said that humanity is slipping into an abyss and that there’s nothing that can be done about it. What I have seen and felt is that there’s a real negative energy vibe going on… and I think there is a way to break that and cultivate positivity in our own lives and that of others. Liz and I have frequently been asked to do a thinkpeace workshop for women. The time has arrived! Recently we’ve had conversations with some of our teen thinkpeace girls about issues they’re facing and have realized that we continue to deal with similar ones as adult women. This tells us that there are tools that we need to learn and utilize as adult women so that when we encounter road blocks on our life paths, we have the inner resources to face them. We believe that women continuously struggle with the idea that we are not enough. Because of that, we all too often cut each other down as a means of building our selves up. The simple truth is that YOU are important! Now, how can you get to a place of believing that truth?

Have you ever felt that if you put anything ‘out there’ that wasn’t facebook perfect, people would judge you?  So many of us are afraid to share our deepest selves. What if you had a place where you could be completely open with yourself, a place to shine light into the cracks of you? At the thinkpeace womens weekend workshop you’ll express yourself and let all those inner truths out through art and writing, sharing and movement. We’ll explore some Yin– a single still yoga posture which becomes a time of inner reflection, meditation and, hopefully, peace. The nervous system is calmed, the mind stilled, and in this state the body returns to its natural healthy rhythm. This type of yoga is how we will start our day, and close it. We’ll take this time to focus on breathwork, and self-compassion.  We will create vision boards and guidebooks– works of art that express what we hope to manifest in our lives. Sharing these ideas with other dynamic women will crack us open and inspire us to go deeper. Have you ever had moments where your mind just seems to spin around and never quiet down? Has this kept you from feeling capable and worthy and falling into the belief that that there is this magic something that you have to do or be before you can feel at peace? Yin and art expression will start you on a journey…

Welcome to thinkpeace workshop for women. The truth is EVERYONE IS VALUABLE; EVERYONE IS IMPORTANT. It is not a competition and you don’t get more points by dissing someone else.  What if we behaved as if we were as valuable as we think others are? What if we all treated each other with great respect? At our weekend workshop you will be met with kindness and the community of women around you will share of themselves and be curious about you. Through one-on-one sharing and small group interaction, we will break down the barriers that women inevitably put up. We will create an environment of trust and support as lifetime friendships are created.  Thinkpeace workshop for women is a place to allow yourself to be vulnerable, feel deeply, share and support in safety, and learn to trust yourself and others.

We are meant to feel peace. We are meant for joy, creativity and life… not the kind of life that you merely endure each day– the kind of life that makes you shine! If you are having difficulty finding ease in your life, and knowing how to provide it for yourself, it is time to hit the reset button!  Peace and ease aren’t found in the validation or acceptance of others, they aren’t found in acquiring things, and they aren’t found in breaking the glass ceiling or in the adoration of our children and their successes. It won’t be found after you have proven your worthiness in some way, or after you have given enough or worked enough or dieted enough or swallowed your own voice often enough. It is not found after you have been accepted into some social circle or relationship. We have created art projects for this workshop that will help us get our hearts and souls focused on things that are beautiful and light, colorful and deep. They will help us figure out what really is true for each of us and how to hold onto that when the going gets rough. The reality is that soul-deep peace is found in your very own truth… the real stuff. The stuff that we tend to keep in a closet because of fear– fear of acceptance, fear of rejection, fear of being seen as not being enough. It’s time to let it out and be who we are meant to be: joyful, creative sparks!

The truth is, you are important and are a gift to the world. When you hold your head up high, and walk through life knowing your truth, you give others hope and that they can do the same. We will share that strength with women around the world through our work on The Pad Project. It’s the thinkpeace philosophy: that our connection with ourselves makes us better equipped to reach out and give to others. Our common experience as women with cycles connects us and yet, women in developing countries are not as fortunate with sanitary options to protect their bodies and ensure opportunities for education and employment because of their periods. We will create reusable pads that will give them the freedom to pursue their hopes, needs, and dreams. You really can and will make a difference.

What if you could do the things that open your heart to the kind of woman you want to be,  the kind of person that you admire and respect and have an opportunity to support women less fortunate than you? What if you could think peace for a weekend that you then carry within you for a lifetime… Open your heart to it. Step into it. Hold hands with it. Dance with it. Sing out loud about it. You, yes you, are important! Bring your vulnerable, unsure, hurt, curious, brave, noble, unselfish, complicated self to thinkpeace workshop for women. Think it. Create it. Share it. Grow with us– the best is yet to be. Imagine!

living into “YES!”

(Hi friends I have yet to meet. My name is GARMIN and I am thinkpeace’s newest intern. My bio can be found on the “about us” page. I’d love to hear from you– email me at

“All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.”

Last week, in one of my grad education classes, the teacher asked the class to journal about the following question: “How do you motivate yourself?” A seemingly daunting question with the potential to add a lot of educational jargon, I dove right in. If there is one thing I’m really good at, it’s motivating- both myself and others.

I wish I had a fun, silly, engaging story to tell you about how I learned to motivate myself and others… alas, I don’t. I have a series of small events where people consistently told me “No”. And I told them, “YES! Just watch me!”

The first doctor I visited after I received my diagnosis of a herniated disk in my back told me I would never be able to walk again if I had surgery. 6 months after surgery (from a different doctor) I ran my first ½ marathon. 1 year after that I ran my first marathon. Guess what I said when the first doctor told me I would never walk again? “Just watch me.” During my time at Emma Willard School many people doubted I would ever graduate from high school or go to a good college. “Just watch me,” I said. Now graduated and in one of the best art schools in the country, I think I won that battle. My gym teacher in high school said I would never be fit. “Just watch me” followed that conversation; here I am 100 pounds lighter. Two falls ago, the head of the “academic” department in my school told me that I couldn’t possibly handle a 4000 level class as a second year. Again, “just watch me.” I got my advisor to sign off on an alternate path for my degree, and here I am, the only person in the entire class who received an A. After my car accident last January the police officer that arrived on the scene told me I should be dead. I’m here, happily alive.

You see, we wake up every morning and we have a choice: to live in possibility and say “yes, bring it on” or to let it defeat us. We must take care of ourselves first in order to be the best global change maker girls we can possibly be. We need to show up to ourselves and our lives with enthusiasm and zest. And personally, I think living in possibility and the YES! is way more fun.

And so I present GARMIN’S tips to motivating yourself and living in possibility.

1. Make your bed each morning.
I know. I know. Who wants to make their bed??? Nobody. Let me tell you, coming home to a freshly made bed to climb into at night makes all your hard work during the day so much more rewarding because you don’t have to fight with covers.

2. Find ritual and sacred space.
For me it is my morning routine. God help you if you interrupt me while I’m drinking my first cup of coffee. And it is my Sunday night paint-your-toes-and-watch-a-chick-flick mojo builder. Find your sacred spaces– those places that help ground you and keep you moving in an upward unrelenting forward motion. It could be a physical place, or an emotional space. Maybe it’s your morning run or your yoga practice or journaling or even reading a good book.

3. Sing.
No. Really go sing. Sing in the shower. Sing when you’re making your breakfast, running, walking to class, lying in bed, driving in the car or on the bus, and when you are adventuring. Just sing. My therapist friend says that singing actually stimulates our memory and it releases the good chemicals that make you happy. Below is one of my PowerGirl playlists. Consider making your own!

live into the “YES!” PowerGirl from sarah.gettman on 8tracks Radio.

4. Sort out your priorities.
Is it really that important that you wear matching clothes? I don’t know what the things you struggle with in your life are, but try bringing ease to them. Ask yourself if they are that important… let the things that you dream about come to the top of your priorities list.

5. Finally, if all else fails, watch youtube videos of other people living into their own possibility.

It’s really that simple. Change is choice. Your choices lead to possibility and could make your every step more monumental. So go forth PowerGirl– live in possibility!!!

on being a thinkpeace boy

After watching “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” last spring I found myself feeling a lot of bitterness towards men. Over and over again I was being bombarded by stories of men at war, men in power struggles, men inflicting violence against women, men denying basic human rights to girls, men unwilling to sit at the peace table.  I was beginning to wonder… what would it take for a feminine wave to crash over the world, turning centuries of patriarchal ways upside down… and out?  The answer came to me from a boy child.  A boy saying loud and clear: “I want to be a part of the solution too. See the future in me!”  And, with that, I was on a mission to find some role models for my son, dudes who were, as photographer and GirlUp activist Nigel Barker would say, truly “manning up” for girls and women.  “Girls, girls, girls… that’s all you ever talk about.”  “What about boys?”  We hear this kind of thing a lot at thinkpeace workshop for girls.  Some people blatantly roll their eyes.  Some say, “A girl in this country is lucky. She can do anything.”  Some say, “Boys have it harder.”  We say,  FACT:  worldwide, historically and currently, girls’ voices are not heard.  Girls are not given the same opportunities as boys.  Girls are too often the casualties and victims of male-created wars. We say, IT’S TIME:  for a new way of thinking, a new way of understanding, a new way of communicating, and new way of sharing. We say, JOIN US.

In late Spring my son decided that he wanted his 10th birthday party to be a benefit for GirlUp, a United Nations Foundation campaign which raises awareness and funds for programs that help some of the world’s hardest-to-reach adolescent girls.  With the help of his sisters and their friends, he threw an amazing party where 30 kids traveled around the world, learning about the issues facing girls in developing countries. After the party one friend wrote a blog post about it.  His is a voice of hope for the future: 

“The party was a lot of fun and it felt good to learn new things and also be part of the solution. This party really made me think and thinking is the start.

I like the vision of Girl Up . . .

Girl Up envisions a world where all girls around the world, have the opportunity to become educated, healthy, safe, counted and positioned to be the next generation of leaders.

I am glad I “Boy’d Up” for Girl Up and I would love to see all children of this world have the same basic opportunities.  Thanks B for opening my eyes!”

Hm, I thought… boys care. But who, besides the obvious (Desmond Tutu, Bono, George Clooney) can show my son and his friends that caring about girls and women is not only important, but also kinda cool?  Enter Justin Reeves, Director of NGO Partnerships,

Justin’s experience working in development in Latin America has been refined working as a journalist and humanitarian throughout Ecuador, Argentina and Chile. Most recently, he has focused his humanitarian work on women and children living with HIV/AIDS and his production work on women marginalized by mental illness in Chile. Joining forces with 10×10 aligns with his vision that empowering and educating girls and women is the key to a more harmonious world. 

Justin and I met at a GirlUp event in NYC last year and I immediately knew that he was one of the good guys.  As he slipped a ring on my finger and asked me to say “I do… take a stand against child marriage” I smiled.  There really are incredible men out there standing up for women and girls.  Regular men.  Not just actors, activists, and politicians.  Justin is a really cool dude with compassion flowing through his veins.  I asked him for advice on educating boys and I can’t wait to go there with a posse of young hopefuls! Justin is an amazing role model for boys!

While I was flying high from connecting with Justin, another hero came along.  Meet Gavin Weston, author of the book, Harmattan.  Gavin and I quickly became “twitter friends” with like-minded goals, especially for ending the practice of child marriage.  I asked him to share his journey with me and my son:

“As a former aid worker (with Africare) I have had a strong interest in humanitarian issues for as long as I can remember, particularly in relation to Niger. When my children were very young it struck me that ‘sponsoring’ a child through an NGO would be an effective way of both doing something constructive and ensuring that my children gained some understanding of the huge disparities that life can throw up.

Over the next few years we communicated regularly with my ‘sponsored daughter’ (as six year-old Ramatou referred to herself) and, perhaps naively, I assumed that we would maintain contact. It was, then, a great shock – especially to my daughter – when we discovered that Ramatou had been married off by her family, just before her twelfth birthday. We never heard from her again. My daughter had just turned thirteen and was particularly upset by the development. I suggested that she write about it for a school project, little realising quite how much it was niggling away inside me too.

One evening (at a meeting of my Writer’s Club) an American writer made the sweeping statement, ‘men can’t write as women’. I disagreed with her strongly and soon afterwards sat down to attempt to write something from a solely female perspective, initially perhaps just to prove her wrong. When I read out what became the prologue to ‘Harmattan’, and listened to people’s responses, I soon realised that I had started something that had to be completed. I realised that writing a novel from a first person perspective might be an opportunity to ‘give voice’ to the millions of underage girls who are married off every year, a problem that many people find just too difficult to read about in fact sheets or newspapers. I was well aware that this might be perceived as arrogance, on several levels, (not least in terms of culture, race and gender). How could a middle-aged European man express the feelings and experiences of a twelve year-old West African girl? To achieve any kind of success I knew that I had to really try to ‘inhabit’ my character, Haoua. Hardly surprising, then, that over the next five years I frequently dreamt about both her and her family as if they were real people whom I actually knew.

When I began my research in earnest there was not a lot of information readily available on child marriage. However, thankfully there are now quite a few organisations and individuals working diligently to bring about an end to this disturbing practice. I am bolstered to hear Archbishop Desmond Tutu declaring that ‘We can end child marriage now!’ and that addressing the issue is as important to him as apartheid was. However, I think that there is a long way to go before we can convince not just governments, but village elders and even women (in some areas) that education for girls is much more beneficial than early marriage and servitude.

So far, I have been surprised at how positively my book has been received, although by its nature there is still resistance to it. (It is not a ‘sexy’ topic and ‘Harmattan’ is clearly neither easy reading or a coffee table book.) I am discovering that most men simply don’t wish to acknowledge the subject. Many of my male friends have been supportive in terms of buying the book and slapping me on the back for my achievement, but few are willing to actually engage in an in depth conversation about how we can bring about real change on a global and societal scale. This saddens me, because although I can write and articulate certain aspects of these horrors, I am lacking in other skills (political, business skills etc.) that are, I feel, essential in terms of mustering a global ‘movement’ that dovetails with what other organisations are doing. I intend to continue campaigning to end child marriage in whatever way I can.”

I encourage you all to read this book and join us on our mission to end the practice of child marriage. 

So now my son had a couple of heros to look up to who were ‘manning up’ for women and girls.  He was feeling empowered.  He realized that there was a community of males out there wanting to be a part of the solution too.  Go ahead, ask him to tell you about a young man named Andrew.  Pull up a chair…


“Andrew is proof that guys know why Girl Up matters.  At a health clinic in Blantyre, Malawi, 21-year-old Andrew is a volunteer youth health counselor. He’s got a busy schedule because he’s the only youth counselor at the clinic. The clinic helps hundreds of girls get the information they need for all of their general health needs.

It’s his passion for helping others that brings Andrew to the clinic in his spare time. Andrew feels a responsibility to his community and an interest in promoting good health, especially for young people. As the only youth counselor — and a young man — it took some time for Andrew to gain the trust of the girls coming to the clinic. But as he has guided the girls over time, they have in turn spread the word that Andrew is trustworthy and that he can help them live healthier lives. Now he has many clients — both girls and boys — and there are more that need help.

Andrew thinks his respect for girls is due to having a strong mother who raised him and his sister by herself. He sees that he can support girls by speaking honestly with them about their health, showing them that they have great potential, and talking to his friends about how they deal with their girl peers. Andrew is inspirational — he demonstrates how boys are girl champions, too. His mother must be very proud!”

Glimmers of hope abound!  This summer my son and I watched some of the Democratic National Convention together.  There was someone I wanted him to hear. Thinkpeace co-director Liz had met him this summer at the marriage of her close friends Corey and Jason.  Corey Smith, by the way, just happens to be a great role model for boys and men as well!  Afterall, he chose a WOMAN (Liz) to stand up with him as his Best Person! He’s also Senior Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at Best Buy and a Board Member of the Human Rights Campaign.  When I asked Corey what makes him do what he does, he responded with:

“Personally, my driving force is knowing one day everyone will be considered equal, not the same, but equal. In my work at Best Buy and with the Human Rights Campaign, my constant goal is to create relevant ways for people to learn how to move toward acceptance of others.”

He also consciously connects with people, creating a circle of friends who propel him on his journey.  Among them, Zach Wahls.  Zach spoke at the DNC and left me and my son feeling like standing up for equality is a pretty cool thing.

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I can’t wait to collaborate with Mark Bertrand, founder of The Giving Circle, Inc. His organization “celebrates community and the concept of one person, one community reaching out to another in a cycle of giving. Through interconnectedness, interdependence, and the expanded power and possibility created by love, support, compassion, and cooperation, they make a difference in the quality of people’s lives.”  The Giving Circle was initially founded in response to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and has since expanded its efforts working locally with the underserved in New York.  The rehabilitation efforts in the Gulf Coast continue and internationally (in partnership with a team of Ugandans) The Giving Circle Africa ( NGO) has built an orphanage  and school in Wairaka, Uganda.  It’s an all volunteer non-profit organization with a mission to connect communities in need with those with the resources to help.  Mark actively encourages youth involvement.  He’s a total dude with a supersensitive heart. “It’s not about giving a hand out; it’s about providing a hand up.”   To him that means rolling up the sleeves and placing your hand in the dirt right alongside someone in need.  Awesome! What a role model for boys!

Two men I know are bringing their visions into schools and teaching boys (and girls) that the bottom line is respect and tolerance.  Coach Rich Johns started a program in New York called, Act With Respect Always.

The purpose of Act With Respect Always! is to spread the importance of respect in athletics, academics, and daily life. Through “ambassadors” of respect, person to person, team to team, school to school, and to the community at large–students and athletes will be empowered to be good citizens in all walks of life.  Act With Respect Always gives everyone the opportunity to make the most important statement in today’s society.”

Coach Johns is out there every day, talking to kids from elementary school through college about living life practicing respect towards all.  Important stuff!  And then there is Hiroshi Imase,  co-founder of Feelosopher’s Path, an afterschool enrichment program for kids.  Sensei Hiroshi describes himself with this word:  虚心坦懐(Kyoshintankai).  Kyoshin: Open mind, empty mind, no prejudgement, ready to accept as is.  Tankai: Calmness.  I feel better about humanity just thinking about Kyoshintankai!  Hiroshi believes that the world will live in peace when we use our emotional intelligence for the good of all.  Recently he left his position as Dean of Students and teacher at a middle school for gifted children to start Feelosopher’s Path.  It’s an amazing concept. 

What is a Feelosopher?  A Feelosopher is someone who knows him or herself well enough to connect positively with others. Feelosophers enjoy everyone’s similarities and celebrate everyone’s differences. A Feelosopher focuses on “feeling successful” instead of just “being a success.” Feelosophers are excited for the future, find their passions and explore the unknown with friends.

Hiroshi’s feelosophers value relationships, communicate with others, enjoy diversity, feel compassion, and practice kindness.  They think globally and act positively.  They feel and they think… and they act.  I want to be a feelosopher, and so does my son.  It’s all coming together, do you see it?

It’s taken me all summer to swim around in a pool of positive, forward-thinking, concerned, respectful men and boys to see that we’re on this journey together, not separately.  Yes, girls need lots of encouragement and training to use their voices for change.  They need to be convinced that they will be heard, valued and safe.  Boys and men need to step up to the plate and hit a home run for the girls and women in their lives.  As they round the bases, they need to embrace their abilities to listen, empathize and stand in solidarity with their sisters, mothers and wives. I want to believe we can truly win the World Series, with boys and girls on the same team, humanity’s team.  And men and women in the stands, supporting, nurturing and cheering them on to greatness!   At thinkpeace we often say, “we are all in this together.” It really is “wonderful to walk with arms wide open to catch the wonderful” as Sarah Kay says.  Happily what my son and I have caught is a bunch of involved, passionate, nurturing, dynamic, warrior boys and men who want to join with us on this journey to heal the world and make it a better place for girls, women, boys and men. Thank you to all the boys and men out there helping us hold up our half of the sky.  Through peace, love and understanding, we will get there together.  As together we will think it, create it, and share it. 



on tolerance

Oh… I started to write a long post about anger management and tolerance but then I realized something:  I have to stop!  I’ve been holding on to some pretty negative feelings for a couple of days and it’s time to just stop!  That doesn’t mean that I’m not still upset or that I’m not going to do something about it!  It just means that, POOF! like that, I am sending the negative energy away!

What a relief.  Now I can deal with what made me angry in the first place.  I feel so much more in control and can now be productive.  Ah, I’m breathing!

This morning I had a note from the Universe:

“Guidance, attention, help, maybe.  Love, always.  Criticism, never.                                           What to give others.”