It's 2 a.m. -- a time I've known well since we launched The Peace Project back in July 2010. Since then, as I've tried to juggle the demands of running TheWhole9.com (an online creative community) and an art gallery, ramp up this social movement that was founded to prove that great change can happen very quickly if people work together, and be a mother to a young daughter, I've often found myself awake in the middle of the night tapping away on the keyboard, trying to find words to share the story as it unfolds.
Although July 2010 was the launch of The Peace Project, when I think about when The Peace Project really started, I go back a little further -- at least to 2007. My relationship with my daughter's father had just ended badly -- the result of years of chaos that culminated with him having sex with another woman in my house and dozens of emails to my employees from this woman that included the lurid details. When painfully recounting this story to a dear friend, he said, "You just need to do a kumbaya and get over it." Getting over it might have been easier had I not found out I was pregnant during the ugly aftermath.
After a brief reconciliation with Willow's father, I ended the relationship permanently when she was about six months old. This is when my conscious quest for peace began.
The famed Peace Pilgrim is quoted as saying that "When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others." Personally, I've found this statement to be true and as I've systematically brought the pieces of my life together and began to heal myself, I've realized and seen my ability to be a catalyst for healing the world.
My daughter has also been instrumental in this process and as I always tell people -- Willow will teach me far more than I will ever teach her. Her greatest lesson may be her incredible capacity for joy -- often in the simplest things. A trait, I realized when writing this, that she probably picked up genetically from my biological mother.
You see, I grew up with a set of parents that adopted me as a baby. My youth always seemed difficult to me -- fraught with tough love from my father who didn't bring much joy to our family, but brought a strong set of values that are the foundation of my character. Oddly enough, when my father passed away shortly after we launched The Peace Project and I spent some time looking back at our life together, it looked much different than it had while growing up. And it was one of the traits I deplored most about my father -- his lack of generosity -- that gave me the inheritance that provided a substantial amount of the funding to implement Operation Rise, whereby The Peace Project distributed 10,000 pairs of crutches across the country of Sierra Leone on World Peace Day in what was one of the largest social efforts ever to take place in this country.
Our blessings come from the most unexpected places and as I sit here typing in the middle of the night on the eve of meeting my biological father for the first time, I'm thinking about blessings; I'm thinking about the first meeting with my birth mother; I'm thinking about the irony that she and my father met in San Francisco in the '60s during the peaceful revolution; I'm thinking about the healing that has occurred between the mother I grew up with and I; and I'm thinking about how Willow's father stepped up to lend a hand recently at a critical juncture of The Peace Project.
The Peace Project is not just a social movement currently doing work in Sierra Leone, Africa -- it's a very personal project and I've seen (and experienced) in the most tangible and fantastic ways, the power it has to transform lives starting with my own. I invite you to not only hear the story as it continues to unfold, but to be part of it and make it your own.
"Peace is not something you wish for, it is something you make, something you are, something you do, and something you give away." --Robert Fulghum
Follow Lisa Schultz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@PeaceRises