Today, Thursday the 24th is Thanksgiving in America. I would like to write about a couple I feel deep gratitude towards, Dawn Engle and Ivan Suvanjieff. Dawn is a beautiful and brilliant woman who is love in action and comes from a place of deep authenticity and integrity. Ivan is a real seer and free spirit, deeply talented and committed to peace and truth and such a fun and alive being! Together they are unstoppable!

A few weeks ago I flew to Denver to spend a three day weekend with Dawn and her incredible husband and co-founder of PeaceJam, Ivan Suvanjieff. What a joy it was to connect with both of them in their home, the place they call their “cabin”, nestled along a stream and close to Red Rocks. Dawn told me when Mayan Elders were visiting them from Guatemala they told her they didn’t need to do purification rituals on their home and land as they were already sacred and pure. I could feel that sacredness being there.

Governor Bill Ritter congratulates PeaceJam founders Ivan Suvanjieff, middle, and Dawn Engle before announcing their nomination for the 2008 Nobel Peace Prize.

Having the gift of spending time together enabled us to have intimate conversations. It was such a joy to be able to say anything and to share deeply with each other. I asked Dawn “What cracked you open to living a life of your most authentic self?” She said it was actually her biggest nightmare. Her husband in her first marriage had gotten involved with drugs, unbeknownst to her. She was working on Capitol Hill and they had two small sons. He was arrested. It was on television, in the newspapers everywhere. There was nowhere to hide this painful truth. Often, if something terrible comes up in our lives we find ways to hide it. But for Dawn, there was no hiding. Her life, her beliefs, everything got cracked wide open.

I also asked her what was the defining moment that changed the course of her life forever. She said it occurred shortly after the incident with her husband. She met the Dalai Lama. She was use to the people she worked with on Capitol Hill, “they had two faces” she said. “One for the cameras and what was shown to the public. The other for behind closed doors. There was hypocrisy.” When she met the Dalai Lama she met someone that was the same all the way through. He was the same talking to a beggar on the street or a President. He touched her life in a way that she would never be the same ever again. She said at that moment she saw what was possible for humanity.

Between her first marriage and the marriage now to Ivan she had a short-lived second marriage. She realized the second marriage had been more about finding a father for her sons than about her needs. She witnessed herself becoming shut down and frozen and not wanting to live life that way and she left the marriage. This created an incredible opening in her life for her deepest love and soul partner, Ivan, to come in. They met at Naropa University. They were both hired, separately, for six months to help Naropa put on a literary conference, called ‘Beats and Other Rebel Angels: A Tribute to Alan Ginsberg’. Ivan was bright, handsome and creative. He had been in the Ramrods a hot Detroit band in the late 70’s, that is still revered there today! He is an artist and a writer having worked with Alan Ginsberg and Ken Kesey. As fate would have it they were both born in the same year and grew up in Detroit not that far from each other.

Ivan had sworn off women when he met Dawn, said he was tired of them using his heart as an ashtray. She was just finishing her second marriage and starting to thaw out all that was frozen within her. They were immediately attracted to each other. But decided to take it extremely slow. They both saw that this had the possibility of being the most incredible thing they had ever witnessed or experienced and they vowed not to blow it. I must say being in the presence of that kind of love and total acceptance and adoration they share after 17 years of being together is breath taking. It is possible! They both said if everything else went away if they had each other they would have everything and could do anything from that place.

In 1994 Ivan had the idea of creating PeaceJam to bring peace to the youth in a cool way through music and art and the wisdom of having over 10 Nobel Peace Laureates part of it. The Dalai Lama helped them start it.

Taken from their website: “Before long, the PeaceJam program was launched, and to date over 600,000 young people have participated in the USA and around the world. PeaceJammers have created almost one million service projects designed to address problems in their own schools and communities. One person really can make a difference, and PeaceJam has proven it repeatedly by empowering young people to become agents of change, all over the world.”

“The mission of the PeaceJam Foundation is to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody.”

For more information on PeaceJam or to learn how to bring PeaceJam to your school go to www.peacejam.org

In 2001 Desmond Tutu married Dawn and Ivan in South Africa. They live together, they love together, they create together. Last year they made a movie called “2012: The Real Mayan Prophecy”. PBS will be airing it. They have now started a series of films featuring the Nobel Peace Laureates they work with. The first of the series is “Mayan Renaissance”. This film will portray who the Mayan truly are and what they have brought to our world. It will share the wisdom and messages they are holding for us at this time. I have become involved in this film. I dedicated Guiding Signs 101 cards to the indigenous people of our planet and the wisdom they have been holding and keeping safe for us for this moment in time. I am so thankful for Dawn and Ivan and the amazing beings they are and their commitment to truth and to creating a world that works for all life. It is such a joy to have our hearts and our passions so deeply connected.

It is with such deep gratitude I bow to Dawn and Ivan and the huge difference they are making on our planet. They have been nominated for the Nobel Peace award so many times. With or without the award – the work they do, the love that radiates from them and infuses all they touch, their commitment and integrity is creating the changes deeply needed on our planet. Thank you dear Dawn and Ivan!!