ChaCha for Peace, llvl

It’s all about the little steps. But if you know me, you know little steps to Ann mean Chachaaaaaa!

It makes a difference if you decide to view the obstacles in your journey as the time you step back and take a good look at things. The side steps can be waiting until the time is right or a simple dance for joy.

Now it’s true you have to pay attention, you can wind up dancing the chacha in once place, but you can also cover a lot of ground if that’s what you decide what you’re going to do. You just need to watch where you’re going.

But the notion that your work is tiny steps, some of them to the side, and some, heaven forfend to the back, is a good one to carry with you. The thought that all that stepping can be a dance to enjoy… if Peace is just a plod, we’re never going to enjoy it. Self-righteousness is not enjoyment… (i may have tried this so I have some insight… ahem.)


Bits and Pieces of Peace, llvl

Noticing. We have to pay attention to what’s around us. If we don’t, we miss wonderful things. And not only big things, small wonderful things… As I say below, it’s finding that local shop that gives a good haircut or the place where they know how you like your sandwich fixed. It’s the little things that act as both a reminder and a goad. The reminder is that there are many things in life that are good and that those things add up to a good life. Then we can let those lovely little things act goads to preserve what is great and to make it better.

And the world needs little prompts so it continues to be wonderful, or maybe even starts being wonderful for everyone. Because let’s be clear, privilege makes things great for some, but not all of us. It’s up to those of us with privilege to keep widening the circle, inviting people in.

It’s easy, goodness knows, to whine about what’s wrong. We do that a lot. All of us. But if we put our minds — or is it our hearts — to it, it’s very easy to notice small things that make our lives lovely. It’s actually fairly easy to do little things to make it better. One of the things that makes life lovely for us is when it’s lovely for everyone.

That’s why a bunch of us are going out today to stand together and drink a little cider across the street from a group promoting a hateful point of view. We’re not protesting, we’re just witnessing to Peace and Community. A lot of us. Standing around. Chatting. Getting to know one another. Maybe even planning to do something more. Something that makes a bigger difference.

But if my friend Sonia and some of her friends who wear a headscarf feel better loved — and safer, let’s not forget safer — because we stood in the cold and the dark, then so much the better. Simply by being present, we’re working for Justice. If it’s this easy to do good, maybe we’ll do more…

If I want Peace, I have to be it. That simple. And I’ve got to invite other people along on the journey. Because Peace isn’t for the few.



Peace-colored Glasses, llvl

I’m wearing Peace-colored glasses, and I’m not taking them off.

I watch a lot of my people I know and respect tell me both about what’s wrong in the world (the big world) and what someone needs to do about it. I can only wrap my arms around what’s wrong in my world and what I can do about it and if you join me how much more we can do about it. It’s not that I don’t try to understand what’s going on out there, but I know it’s a lot more complicated than I know and that I am unclear what to do to help — and I’m not completely convinced that we’re in a position to make good decisions about the whole world. I see genocide happening, and I don’t have a clue what sort of intervention stops that.

The only intel I’m getting that I trust completely at the moment is from the teachers and parents who tell me how many children are hungry. I know it takes $10 a month to feed a child. I’m making Peace here. I believe in Peace here, all evidence to the contrary. I’m going to wear the glasses, I’m going to clap for Tinkerbelle and I’m going to keep taking your money to feed hungry children. I’m also going to shout out when I see injustice running over people in my neighborhood… however loosely defined that is. I’m going to celebrate when someone else leads. What do your Peace-colored glasses have in sight? Where are you making a difference for Peace? Deb Slade is taking pictures… If hers aren’t Peace-colored glasses, I don’t know whose are!


Food and Peace, llvl

It takes food to make Peace. Empty bellies make for empty futures and Peace is a future we must labor toward.

Feeding one another is a shared ministry. It doesn’t matter why the children are hungry, it only matters that they are. It matters that we have money to put toward the future of Peace, the Future and Peace.

$1.25 for a child to eat for a weekend in one district. $3.50 and going down in another. Peace. It’s for us to do. if you will, go to Love Flows and donate to the LOVE Project (Let Our Valley Eat.) You can donate on a monthly basis. $10 a month feeds a kid for a year. Or donate to a similar project near you. Gotta feed the kids if you’re serious about giving Peace a chance.


Collaborative Peace, llvl

Oh, man, working together. What a joy! What a gift! What a better product.

There is nothing sweeter than pushing around ideas and figuring out where they go on a (sometimes figurative, sometimes literal, sheet of paper.) Wow, this works with this. Gee, I never thought of that. Boy Howdy, this is fun!

I’m working on a presentation for a workshop. I’ve got notes about this dating back almost 10 years, and finally the right time came around. And now, suddenly, there are the right people to work on it with. Yesterday, I thought and took notes with one woman. Today, I have to write that up so I can think and write again. (and sometimes write and think, because as someone wise once said, how can I know what I think until I write it down?)

I really like what I’m working on and I love working on it with someone else(s). And working together is so much easier these days, because if you can’t be in the same room, you just sit down and skype. Technology does make my life better and sweeter.

I know some people are really solitary thinkers. I am not always that. Not on the big things. I like knowing how you think differently than I do so that the stew gets far more interesting. I started to take that analogy farther, but thought it might not further the argument. (I’ve never used further successfully in a sentence before. laughing.) It’s hard work. It demands both self-reflection and getting out of the way of the process.

So here’s to my collaborators, my co-workers and co-creationists. Here’s to a community of thought and progress, to doing good two by two or three by three, rather than one by one. Thanks, it’s swell. it feels like magic. And oh, btw, The work is so much stronger. I’ll take it. and rejoice. I have longed for this my whole life. It seems the little bit of Peace I can imagine gets larger every time we sit down to talk. Thank you, thank you, thank you. and oh, yes. Wahoo!




Co-conspirator Peace, llvl

Hey… Happy May Day. It’s going to be a gorgeous day here in the River Valley. Tisket a tasket it up! Lilies of the Valley are the Flower of the Day.

Take a moment to think about who you share your work with. Your Work. The stuff that makes your heart sing. The stuff that changes at least your world.

These are the people who ‘get’ you. Who understand. Who help you make a difference.

Love them. Get together with them. Change the world. Stop Hunger. Create Peace. You know the little stuff of life. And oh, give thanks daily that you have such partners to play with!


Catch and Release Peace, llvl

What do you think? Too corny? I confess I really like the notion.  Move toward Peace, enjoy the moment, let it go out into the world. Take the next step, repeat the process.

What would that mean? Well, some of it would mean filling up the airwaves and the electrons with good news about Peace.

I know a lot of people get nervous about about putting good deeds in the newspaper because they feel it’s self-aggrandizing. But the fact is, some place in our brain we’re monkey see, monkey do. We’re more generous when we see other people being generous.

So it makes sense to Catch and Release Peace. Make it. Love it. Proclaim it. Repeat. Fill up the newspapers with good news. Maybe we should have contests! Peace! (and look at Deb’s beautiful new Pic that inspired this! and look, it’s the 16th day of April in the 16th week of the year! and it’s still a palindrome: 4.16.14. Beautiful Happiness and goofy Happiness!)



Community Peace, llvl

We hear, we say, it takes a village. And it seems this is true. But what’s also true is that, with hard work and clear statement of the problem, there is a village. Community forms around causes. Communities are generous and like doing good.

Yesterday, sitting in the studio at WKOK, talking about the need for weekend backpack programs and my faith community’s decision to raise money for them. I was doing the ask. I asked for people to donate. And they did. I asked for people to provide a matching grant. And someone did. At the end of the day yesterday, $1,695 was in the bank. Since November 2013, with our push just starting, we’ve raised $15,000 (until yesterday, most of that came from within the congregation) If you figure it will take at least $250,000 to feed the elementary schools we’re 6 percent there. We may need to get to 20 percent before we get to writing a grant… and of course, and sadly, this isn’t a one time deal… this is an ongoing need.

What was clear at the end of the one-hour program was that people were willing to step up and support their village. You just have to ask. And when you do people respond. Do we need more people? Why, yes, we do. Do we believe that more people will participate? Why, yes, we do…

Am I overwhelmed, grateful, excited, bouncing off the moon? Why, yes, I am. Stepping up and working together is how we will make Peace in this place and make this a Valley Where No Child is Hungry. And that is a confirmation of what I’ve always believed. People want to help. You just have to show them how. And when you do, they break your heart open in joy. Oh, Hallelujah! If you want to donate, go to Love Flows: The LOVE Project (Let Our Valley Eat) and make a donation… or if you’d like to be a matching angel… write to me (find me at contact us). And in the meantime, thank you from the bottom of my heart. Let’s go! Kids need your help. You are the best!



Serendipitous Peace, llvl

What makes these things possible? Presence? Discipline? Sheer, unadulterated Luck? All of these? I don’t know.

I know I am humbled and grateful.

I would love to believe it’s my little village, but it’s not. Villages and Cities are filled with wonderful interesting people everywhere. It may be true that it’s easier to see one another in small towns… I can believe that. And I don’t know that it matters.

I’m here and for whatever reasons, I’m connected to amazing people. People who when we notice that children are hungry step up. I’m grateful every day for the team I get to work with. Caring people and very, very smart. And not just smart, but  ingenious. There we are… making things happen. Things that need to happen. Things that matter. You don’t have to be the best at what you are, what you dream… you do need to be disciplined and consistent. You do need to be, dare I say it, earnest about your dreams and your determination. Earnestness translates; it sells. And selling is what we’re doing.

No one is going to feed hungry children unless you offer them the opportunity and give them a place to pay. It’s that simple… I didn’t always understand that, but there it is.

I believe fervently that we can do work that makes our hearts explode in our chests wherever we are. Yes, sometimes it’s that overwhelming. Yesterday was one of them. I adore this artist. If you’ve followed my work, you’ve adored her as well… She’s the woman who did the Peace mandalas for last year’s musings. A wonderful artist. She lives here. We show up at the same events — last night at Steve’s Musical Mash-up. She’d been there last week and we’d talked about mandalas, about the LOVE project, about doing a project together. We brainstormed words and phrases (while listening to our neighbors play astonishing music).

And then this week she came back. She’d played with words and found three that work. She taught me how to look into her designs and then she told me how her designs move. In and out; around. The designs are gorgeous and her explanations completely germane to the work we are doing. And so we will go to work… And this will be one more way to step up, to be socially active, to feed children… and one more way to think about what matters. And for us, it will be one more way to use our arts… to explore them… to apply them… to collaborate… for good, for community, for Peace.

Oh may your lives be this joyous and filled with magic! I am awed and grateful that mine is.


No Peace in Hunger, llvl

Encountering the local hunger problem has been life-altering for me.

So often when we hear “poverty” we don’t understand the world or its grinding nature. Many of us talk easily about sources of poverty, but we overlook the daily realities of it.

In my region part of that ugly reality is hungry kids.

It took a “perfect storm” for me to see it. After Deb’s death I was so sad. When the house voted not to allow the SNAP subsidy to lapse, I was driven quite literally to my knees in my living room. Not believing people to be worth of food knocked my pins out from under me.

I turned to my thinking team at church. I didn’t have an idea in my head, just pain. Scott, our church treasurer, got the hunger statistics. The rest of us were stunned. The crowd that had driven the Staten Island project batted around ideas. Most of them were far too grandiose. We knew we wanted this year (we thought!)’s project to be local. And now we knew we wanted it to be food. Last year we’d raised funds for the local food pantry. We knew we could do that again, and did. We started talking to other churches, finding out what they were doing, making a list.

And then we heard about the back-pack program. They’re all over the country, Love help us, because there is child hunger everywhere. Turns out, our local school district had just started a program. We talked about it in church, there was a huge outpouring of money. We had our purpose. We just needed to figure out where to step up so that we could do the most good.

This has turned into a huge project with a lot of pieces, few of which are in place yet. But huge projects take time. You’ll hear more from me, about what we’re doing, but in the meantime, you can help if you want to. Go here to read about this and to donate. There’s more information that will show up on the website soon… that’s one of those projects currently underway, but it’s a start.

Sorry, I tried to write about St. Paddy’s day… but this got in the way… Feeding the hungry is concrete Peacemaking. Please join us.