Meet Maysa Peterson

Maysa and me.

Editor’s note: I suggested to Maysa that she sit for an interview for this blog. She is a remarkable person, as you will soon see.

Whether you know her as a friend, as an employer, or as a client for her exceptional consulting services, you will reap the rewards.

Dan: You have three sons, a daughter, and three college degrees. That speaks to me of a great deal of enthusiasm. Tell me about how this came to yo

Maysa: I’ve always been an upbeat person, enthusiasm and motivation have always been elements of my personality. People used to call me a Pollyanna type because I was always optimistic, and being a problem solver I thought that I would always be able to solve whatever complex problems came before me, so I was enthusiastic. I enjoyed solving problems.

As for having four children and three degrees a lot of it was personal desire to strive for something. I have always wanted to have a big family. People have often asked me how I deal with it. For me, that’s all that I know. Having four children is just part of what I do. It is part of who I am. It doesn’t feel like a giant hurdle. I’m very family centric.

wecanThe degrees came out of a desire to excel personally. These degrees also came out of a stubbornness. People told me I couldn’t do it. They wanted me to go to a technical school. I went to graduate school after my first marriage fell apart. Working two jobs, going to graduate school, and taking care of four kids was difficult, but I did it out of a need, and also because of this stubbornness I have already mentioned.

I also used to be a marathon runner. I got injured after an 18 mile run.  People said I wouldn’t ever be able to run a marathon. That just made me dig in my heels more and say no, I’m going to do it, and I did it a dozen times.

In terms of enthusiasm, I was always able to find something beautiful to inspire me. Enthusiasm is one of my strengths, and when I over use it can be interpreted as being opinionated. That is the weakness associated with it. I enjoy healthy debate and I like to invite people to compare their point of view with mine as we search for the best interpretation or outcome to plot a path forward.

Dan: What are your areas of study for your college degrees?

Maysa: I have a BA in economics and a BS in computer science, and a MS in software engineering.

Dan: Sometimes technical concentrations like that narrow a person’s perspective. People get stuck in their own groove, and they can’t see the context around them. I have noticed the opposite about you. You are very considerate of other disciplines and points of view. How do you manage that? Is it something you work at?

Maysa: I think it’s a natural inquisitiveness in a variety of areas. I’m interested in learning about things beyond the scope of my formal education. I seek out those new ideas and experiences as a way of challenging myself. I also seek out people who have skills, knowledge, or intellectual reach that I lack. For example, so you are a mechanical engineer. I want to learn how things work in your domain. It’s beyond the realm of software engineering but it’s interesting, and I can use my own background as a kind of loose framework for understanding other domains of knowledge.

Dan: Let’s switch gears to something more personal. I know that you had an encounter with breast cancer and surgery, and all of the follow-up treatments. Can you say something about your experience from the aspect of how you found the courage in yourself to deal with something that severe, and which dragged out for so long?


Maysa: When I was first diagnosed it was a shock. I was in disbelief. You think to yourself that you somehow always knew something was not right, but you are kind of numb. I think your body and your mind numb you. So I put my head down and asked what do I have to do. Because my ex is from the medical world I knew the questions to ask and who to ask.

The shocker really happens afterward when you wake up after the surgery. You see the extent of the surgery, then you realize that just cutting it out doesn’t mean that it’s over. You get mammograms, and everything looks clear, but you have to take medicine that makes you forgetful, and fatigued, and breathless. You get night sweats, and you are irritable, and you learn that you have to take this medicine for the next five years. You are ‘on call’. It’s always a little thing that you carry with you.

It does help you to have empathy for other people going through similar situations, and it doesn’t even have to be cancer. I find that I can see the frailty of others more clearly, and I try to honor that.

Dan: That leads me to our next topic. You launched a project called Everyday Heroes in which you interview people who have taken on difficult and challenging tasks that might or might not be related to a health problem. It could be any major kind of life challenge. What drew you to start this project?

Maysa: I read some of the work of Joseph Campbell about the hero’s journey and I could see it being reflected in my own life in the challenges that I faced. I could see the pattern, and I could see the pattern in others. I felt that there are many celebrities out there who have their own challenges and issues, and these people are publicized, and paid, and I think their burdens are reduced because they can pull in a lot of support from their fan base or their network.

But, there are a lot of heroes out their who are just Joe on the street, and I want to hear and honor Joe’s story. Joe is important too. Everyone can learn from Joe, or Sally. You might even know that person, or say, hey, I didn’t know that about Sally. It brings people together, and it honors and celebrates the courage of others, and their resiliency.

Dan: I would like to say on a personal note that it is very easy to be your friend because you are courteous, consistent, thoughtful and very sensitive to what is going on in the lives of other people around you. Did you get this from your parents?

Maysa: First of all, thank you. I think it was the way I was raised. I’m the oldest of five children. My mom is a Brazilian-American, and she arrived as a foreigner in this country. At first she felt like she was a guest, and she wanted to raise her children to be respectful of connections and relationships.

These values are instilled in me and all my siblings. I’m very close to my mother. I talk to her every day. I’m close to my sisters and my brothers. I look to try to find that piece of the divine in everybody, and that is the level at which you can connect with them.

I believe in the Platinum Rule: treat everyone as they would like to be treated.

Dan: You posed for me in my series of Rosie the Riveter portraits. I will comment as a photographer that you are one of the most convincing Rosies in the series with you standing under that big speech bubble announcing “We can do it!”

I think that really characterizes who you are and what I know about you.

Maysa: When things get scary, and things always get scary, courage does not mean there is no fear, it means to move through it. You say hello to it, or as you would say, Dan, smile at it.

Dan: Thank you, Maysa.

Maysa: Thank you, Dan.

REPOSTED From:  This Just In

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You Matter and What to Do About it

Reposted from This Just In!
by Daniel Wilson

We are born with a joy of being. Children show us what that looks like.

The joy does not always last. A lot of people work hard to discourage us as we grow up, and it intensifies when we get a job.

We receive little or no instruction on celebrating our own significance. We may forget that we matter, and if we remember we might not know what to do about it.

I use the word matter to mean that we have a place in the natural order of things. We have virtues that we do not recognize because they are obscured by fear, or guilt or a combination of the two. Our role emerges over time as we continue our practice of exploring the true nature of things.

The first thing to do to honor our significance is to take a careful inventory of who we think we are. Chögyam Trungpa tells us not to judge what we see, but simply to notice it. Many people blame themselves for who they think they are. Blame does not lead to freedom, we are told.

The next thing to do is give up the quest for security and safety. This effort is merely a distraction. Life happens. Our lack of control does not indicate that we do not matter.

Then we go on to practicing love and affection. The Sanskrit word for this is maitri. Trungpa’s book title is Smile at Fear. I think what he is telling us in the book is to smile at everything, including our notion of self.

Smiling at everything, we are told, invites the universe to dance with us. Good fortune emerges out of thin air. Smiling also creates a shift in us that awakens our enjoyment of dancing.

I have published about 30 books for myself and as gifts to friends. My friends matter to me.

I am not in this wondrous state of being. I still think of mundane things to do. I practice simple things such as photographing people. I maintain this blog. These acts are expressions of myself consistent with how I see myself at this stage of understanding. I recommend being real as you understand the term.

I recommend shrugging off the morality of the crowd. I read a quote today that said the body is not a temple, it is an amusement park.

I like to keep track of what I have done, and celebrate it. I publish books to satisfy that intention. I encourage people to express themselves, and to take notes in some form. Notes demonstrate respect for our experience.

Finally, don’t indulge those people who don’t recognize that you matter. Hang out with people who appreciate you. You deserve it.

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“To Be or Not To Be”

When Hamlet speaks these words, he was considering life or death – the little sleep.  But what about “to be”, being in daily life and the courage to truly in yourself and love yourself for who you are?  Some hero’s journeys start when a person steps into their true nature, passion, or calling.  Authenticity, especially in the work force of some major corporations, is not often appreciated.  Surely they speak of diversity but when it’s dancing in front of them, they won’t join in the dance. You can “Think Different” but not too different, not too authentic.  Even the Harvard Business Review speaks to corporate executives of the paradox of authenticity.  But perhaps they don’t understand the definition.

Merriam Webster defines it as, “real or genuine, not copied or false, true and accurate.” That sounds good to me,  something or someone you can trust and not a Photoshop image of what someone else believes things should be.  It doesn’t imply you that you “exercise no control over the expression of their authentic selves.”  Even truth if presented for the wrong reason is really nothing but cruelty.  Yoda said, “Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.” So being authentic doesn’t equate to speaking, or displaying your truth all the time as is implied in HBR.  But hopefully, when called upon, what you encounter is real, genuine, and true.

We will be presenting some heroes here who had the courage to present themselves and their values authentically to the world and the journey and adventures they encountered.

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New Song for Heroes Project


simple dressings
an empty space
drying roses
bolts of lace
purple moments
words clash again
the door is closing
count to ten

now heaven’s
just six
feet beyond
your reach

tears remember
wind burned cheeks
mottled windows
stained streaks
leaning the willow
arresting thoughts
something stirring
memory caught
now heaven’s
just six
feet beyond
your reach
now heaven’s
just six
feet beyond
your reach.


Music by Sean Schnell of The Day We Met
Lyrics by Maysa Peterson
Composition posted:  SOON
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You are too.

Dan and MaysaPeople are hesitant to call themselves, “heroes.” It seems there is some common perception that by doing so, you are vain, bragging, not humble.  Nothing of this is the case. Everyone is a hero in their own life.  Everyone needs to celebrate the hero within them.  Together we form the collective unconscious and interconnect to build upon ourselves. Real change in the world toward empathy, safety, peace, love and joy can only come from each person’s hero’s journey, shared.  The ground will swell as people step up to proclaim their vitalness to community / society.

“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” – Joseph Campbell

Campbell explores the theory of heroes that emerges from  important myths  around the world. These myths have survived thousands of years and they all share a fundamental structure, which Campbell called the monomyth. We see this in in film and movies all the time. In a well-known quote from the introduction to The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell summarized the monomyth:

“A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.”

Ultimately, it is your personal journey to find your way back to you self and your divinity so that you may assign meaning to your life;  follow your bliss. Campbell has suggested that even in the act of birthing , that child is already expressing them self as a hero.  Hero’s experiences range from deeply personal or spiritual quests, to open displays of self-sacrifice for others. In sharing the stories, everyone gains.  Thus the Everyday Heroes Book Project was born….  to share the wonder and marvel of you. Join us.

Everyday Heroes Final



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Learning from Pain

Debbie and Maysa

Maysa and Debbie

Maysa and I are interviewing people who have faced big challenges in life and who have decided to forge ahead in spite of them. We will use the material we gather to write a book. Here she is with Debby McClintick.

Debby is a cancer survivor with seven years of success to her credit. Maysa is currently being treated for cancer. Debby is a delightful, spirited, generous human being. I knew the encounter would be good for Maysa and for me, and it was. Her advice on facing trouble is direct and simple.

She says, “Don’t let it win.” She shared that she had three pity parties when she was first diagnosed, and right after that she decided courage was the best strategy. She wanted to be around to enjoy her grandchildren. There is abundant pain of all kinds in the world. We are called to be gentle with people including ourselves. I marvel at the political arena where smugness prevails and people who are in pain are told they brought it on themselves. I am getting a life lesson in pain and in courage.

I have Maysa to thank for that, and I also thank the wonderful people who share their stories with us. One of them happens to be her sister, Francesca. Oddly, this inquiry into pain brings with it a deeper appreciation of courage, kindness, and generosity. Again, thanks, Maysa.

-Reposted from This Just In
Daniel Wilson

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New Look

Everyday Heroes Final

We’ve been working with some artists to come up with banners and logos for our project.  This is the final choice that we decided upon.  The spiral has special significance as it is seen in petroglyphs over the ages.  Here is our everyday hero with a spiral.



“The Spiral, which is the oldest symbol known to be used in spiritual practices, reflects the universal pattern of growth and evolution. The spiral represents the goddess, the womb, fertility and life force energy. Reflected in the natural world, the Spiral is found in human physiology, plants, minerals, animals, energy patterns, weather, growth and death. The Spiral is a sacred symbol that reminds us of our evolving journey in life. When used as a personal talisman, the Spiral helps consciousness to accept the turnings and changes of life as it evolves. The acceptance of change is one of the greatest freedoms a human can experience, putting consciousness in the present moment where the power of creation is condensed. On a larger scale, using this symbol assures all beings are reminded of their inward and outward evolution, a balanced and centered state of mind. On water, it carries the power to flow and change.”


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The Neverending Story



For most of her adult life Francesca enjoyed good health and physical strength, cycling and running, while always maintaining a healthy diet until… she became pregnant in her late thirties and underwent elective heart surgery. That surgery went terribly wrong.

Afterwards she found that she was quite alone in her circumstances and fight to regain a healthy life. Struggling with loss, her hero’s journey was forced upon her. Francesca’s adventure is about redefining herself, perseverance when faced with adversity, and choosing the manner in which you want to live your life.

Francesca has amazing courage. She was first interviewed several weeks ago and shared with us her hero’s journey. At the time, she still struggled with the meaning behind everything. It seemed to her that she was still on the road of trials, still looking for Excalibur. It was clear that she had discovered several truths that she was bringing back to the world to share but she sensed something was incomplete.

“People say that what we’re all seeking is a meaning for life. I don’t think that’s what we’re really seeking. I think that what we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”
― Joseph Campbell

The rapture of being alive is the essence of Francesca. Interesting how the Universe will provide you answers, once you are awakened and questioning. After returning to San Diego, she was unexpectedly presented with a gift and a way to complete her journey. Her interview continues. You’ll get to read her story in Everyday Heroes, see what a small world it is, and how we are all interconnected.

Crossing the Threshold

Crossing the Threshold

“We’re not on our journey to save the world but to save ourselves. But in doing that you save the world. The influence of a vital person vitalizes.”
― Joseph Campbell

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Sharing values

Jennie“When you stand and share your story in an empowering way, your story will heal you and your story will heal somebody else.”
― Iyanla Vanzant

Today’s interview and photo shoot with Jennie Campos bloomed into so much more than these words can describe. Hearing her story, seeing the depth in which she was willing to share was humbling. Laughing, joking, we also discussed some real issues and concerns about relationships and the different perspectives between men and women, as well as women here at home and internationally in developing countries. It is interesting to see the ways in which conflict and strife can shape a person, a community, a culture. Jenny spoke about values and staying true to your values, surrounding yourself with those who share the same.

In my studies, and my journey, I value compassion among other principles. Staying wide awake in my life and being skilled at moderating my responses with compassion, being mindful is my work. Today, Jennie reminded me of that in our discussion on values. These are the people you want to gather and keep close around you; those that support you in your life’s work.   Thank you, Jennie. You’ll be able to read Jennie’s story in the book. She shares an amazing adventure.


“The course of conflict isn’t determined by the person who initiates it but by the person who responds.”
― Mozart in the Jungle

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Hero’s Journey: Telling the Stories



Creating this book in an element of my own hero’s journey. You will learn more about that along the way. But, the book is the magic elixir to bring back from the Special World.  I’ve been reading much of Joseph Campbell’s work, along with Alan Watts, Lao Tzu, Thich Hnat Hanh, Rumi, Dyer, and others in order to make sense of my own journey.  In the course of research, I found a book titled The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler.  It’s an excellent book for writing and provides us with the basic framework for telling the stories of the heroes we will present in our book, including our own stories.  In doing this work, I’ve found my bliss quite unexpectedly.

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
― Joseph Campbell

What a joy!  Almost everyday now I am able to place another joy in my Joy Jar, another moment or item to be grateful for and also find peace.  Working with Dan has been such a healing experience.  It’s hard to share your struggles and harder still to ask for help.  It’s hard to hear others’ stories and capture them with sensitivity. Together this book will speak for itself and the beautiful, fragile, exquisite humanity that we are privileged to share with you.

This, for your information, composes the basic layout of a hero’s journey story that we will be using as a framework for each chapter/story from Vogler’s book.

  1. Heroes are introduced in the ORDINARY WORLD, where
  2. they receive the CALL TO ADVENTURE. They may not hear it at first. They will continue to be tapped on the shoulder to acknowledge The Call.
  3. They are RELUCTANT at first or REFUSE THE CALL, but
  4. are encouraged by a MENTOR or wizard, something magical or mystical, to
  5. CROSS THE FIRST THRESHOLD and enter the Special World, where their journey begins as
  6. they encounter TESTS, ALLIES, AND ENEMIES along the way.
  7. They APPROACH THE INMOST CAVE, crossing a second threshold
  8. where they endure the ORDEAL that unfolds for them. Victorious in their quest or journey,
  9. they take possession of their REWARD and
  10. are pursued on THE ROAD BACK to the Ordinary World.
  11. They cross the third threshold for the final test that they learned, experience another death and RESURRECTION, and are transformed by the experience.
  12. They RETURN WITH THE ELIXIR, a boon or treasure, insight, love, freedom, peace, or wisdom to bring back some benefit to the Ordinary World.


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