Laura Peterson, the wickedly funny and compassionate founder of Hand to Hearts International, a serial leaper, super seamstress, and one of the Dalai Lama’s chosen Unsung Heroes (whoa).
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
When I see something entirely new, a brand new perspective that I’d never considered before, or seeing someone else have one of those “ah-ha moments.” That moment, that mini slice of time, is sheer magic! And, a girls’ night with my overly-amazing friends, always makes me happy!
What is your greatest fear?
That I’ll submit to the little trolls on my shoulder that tell me to live small, that I don’t matter, that I am just a collection of my sniveling, whining, bitching list of complaints, fears and neuroses. And spiders, spiders scare the hell out of me!
What has been your greatest life lesson?
To not give myself too much credit when things go well and to not take it too personally when it all falls apart.
What talent would you most like to have?
I wish I could dance. I want to twirl, spin, dip, and leap into the air with grace, power and ease, gliding back to earth as if the rules of gravity didn’t apply to me.
What is the trait you are most grateful for in yourself?
I’m willing to take risks. I’m willing to risk falling, failing and floundering, and because of this, sometimes I reach some completely new height, place, creation that I’d only dreamed about before. Sometimes I fail miserably, but every now and again, I succeed, and the joy in that is immeasurable.
What is the trait you most cherish in others?
A sense of humor, it’s vital. The difference between a disaster and an adventure is often only in our perspective, in the story we tell about it. Someone who can see the funny-side of situation is always welcome in my day.
What breaks your heart?
Apathy. Cruelty. Hatred.
What is your most treasured possession?
What is your current state of mind?
A constant state of low to moderate anxiety. Moments of excitement, wonder, curiosity. Flashes of fear, panic, confusion and exhaustion.
What is your most marked characteristic?
If you died and came back as a person or thing what/who would it be?
My dog. Not just any dog, but my dog. No creature on earth gets spoiled like my dog! Otherwise, I’d like to be a dolphin. I love to swim, I feel free, weightless and graceful in the water, and I love being with my tribe/pack/herd (whatever you call a posse of dolphins).
When and where are you most inspired?
When I’m talking with/listening to friends and women of action, blessed with smarts, sass and passion.
If you could inspire one change in yourself, what would it be?
If you could inspire one change in the world, what would it be?
That we could all see that we are interconnected. What happens “over there” has an impact “right here” on me, on you, on all of us.
Which historical figures have inspired you?
You may be giving me greater intellectual credit than I deserve with this one….
Who are your living muses?
Jensine Larson, founder/editor of World Pulse and Pulse Wire
Amy Sacks, founder/director of Pixie Project
Amanda Stuermer, founder/goddess, World Muse
Michelle Obama, all around genius, goddess, mother, badass
Where do you look for inspiration in your daily life?
Listening, reading, talking to people. There are tidbits of information that I collect, sometimes finding new ways to organize them into something that hasn’t existed before. That was how HHI was founded and how I came to design a custom little dinosaur jacket to keep my adopted Chihuahua warm. (Sewing is one of my secret superpowers!)
What is your motto?
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back– Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.” – Goethe
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Creating Hands to Hearts International (HHI), it has become its own force of goodness, touching almost 200,000 moms, dads, and children, and has led to more love, less violence, improved health, and overall better lives.
What do you want to be remembered for?
See above. And, maybe also for being a good partner and friend; having a wicked sense of humor, being a compassionate listener, and someone who didn’t sit on the sidelines of life.
When have you taken a leap?
Too many times to count, I’m a serial leaper! I’ve moved to 5 different states, never knowing a soul on arrival, following my passions. I’ve taken jobs with titles such as “wrangler”, “camp jack” (aka, “mule tamer”), “wilderness therapist” and the craziest of all “founder and executive director”. At some point when I was young, I decided I wasn’t the smartest, or the prettiest, so I chose to be adventurous. That’s led me to backpack solo for 4.5 months around SE Asia, climbing to Everest Base Camp (sans Sherpa), diving with sharks, racing camels, and all sorts of incredible adventures large and small. My threshold for risk is quite high, while my threshold for boredom is likely too low.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Laura Peterson is founder and executive director of Hands to Hearts International (HHI) a non-profit dedicated to improving the health and overall development of vulnerable children (ages 0-3) globally. Laura has led HHI’s efforts in India, Uganda and Swaziland, where 42,000+ moms, dads, health workers, orphanage staff and other caregivers have participated in HHI’s training on early childhood development and nurturing parenting skills. The outcomes are as dramatic as babies stop dying! In Uganda, where more than 15,000 adults have participated in HHI’s program, the sustainable results not only include bettering child health and development, but included the cessation of corporal punishment and domestic violence – both deeply embedded, endemic problems in the region. Laura’s work has benefited more than 136,000 vulnerable children and has been recognized and awarded by the Dalai Lama, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Fetzer Institute, UNESCO Asia and others.