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Text and Image by Dick Simon
Morning Light

This post is about Gratitude – to so many for so much!

First and foremost is to Patty. During this period we celebrated 30 years of an amazingly wonderful marriage and life together. Yes we milked it for all we could – sort of considering the entire time our Anniversary, with myriad celebrations, cakes, ‘special dinners’, what a life! I could not have ever asked for a more supportive, loving and wise partner. Over these two months as we have shared many learnings and experiences so intensely. The ongoing evolution of working and thinking together, and balancing, continues. I love you and am so grateful to be sharing our lives!

To my children, who are always teaching me life lessons, offering wise counsel far beyond their years, inspiring me and bringing such joy and richness to my life. They graciously live with my absences, sensing, I think, the importance of that to my life purpose.

To my parents, who instilled this passion for making a difference in the world through their work on civil rights and social justice, and are so supportive of all I do, even if they sometimes think we are crazy in our travels, worry about some of the places we go and have never been geographic travelers themselves.

To my friends, who often inspire me, help sort out life issues, mean so much to me and continue to be there and remain my close friends, even through my frequent physical absences.

To Bobby, whose genius inspired and grew PAN and is always my role model in energy, out of the box creativity and believing everything is possible (and making it so!), generously sharing his time, relationships and resources to enrich the lives of so many throughout the world.

To YPOers who I work together with and those who, in all of the places we visit, who open their homes and hearts, helping us to better understand very complex issues, learn from their insights, and better navigate and experience their wonderful countries and cultures.

To all those who work with us – It clearly takes a village to live this amazing life and create the impact we seek, (listed alphabetically as everyone on this list is incredibly helpful and important):

Ann, who allows me to continue doing these travels and largely live a remote control financial existence with her calm, integrity and competence creating complete faith and confidence.

Caleb, for creating this website, editing tens of thousands of images and posting, submitting, printing and adding his amazing aesthetic sense to all my photographic endeavors. I know that I wouldn’t be anywhere near the photographer I am without his help! (and know there is still plenty of room for improvement!)

Catie, who enables me to leverage on all of my projects, including taking charge of a fantastic program to develop parallel narrative textbooks, initially of North Korea-“The West” and Cuba-US to see ‘in the other’s shoes’, launching a social media noTHEM initiative and overall inspiring with boundless energy, enthusiasm and talent.

Elaine, who tirelessly makes everything happen, from managing the house to paying bills to ordering what we need, shipping to us – even helping me pack – with total flexibility and how can I help! Elaine absolutely runs my life and has for the past 14 years!

Julie, who tirelessly and patiently figures out and deals with our travel logistics, optimizing time, cost, flexibility and our ridiculously frequent making and changing reservations and plans, as well as coordinating all the database and email outreach.

Leigh, who has enabled the vision of YPO/WPO Peace Action Network (PAN) to flourish as Project Director and helped create life changing Experiences in North Korea, Cuba and Iran, as well as raising awareness of how business leaders in YPO can get involved in making a difference in areas of conflict and need.

To those who open their homes and hearts including new friends like JP in Rwanda who shared so openly his horrific personal genocide trauma, the woman we met in a Free the Children village in Rajasthan who taught us how to make chapattis (or tried to) and said she hoped we didn’t just see her as a poor person and everyone who shares a smile.

To those who I may not know personally, but serve as major inspirations and act as beacons– incredible individuals who have changed the world including Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and His Holiness The Dalai Lama

To The Universe, Moses, Mohammed, Christ, Shiva, Buddha or who- or whatever- is ‘In Charge’ (I actually experience it as the Sprit within me) for all of these gifts!

With Gratitude.

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