Laura Hartema

LoveThisDay…seeking inspiration, beauty and humor in each day.

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More Coffee. Less Conflict.


A neighborhood friend of mine called the other morning and said, “Hey, wanna latte? I’m in line at the coffee shop.” My reply came in one exhale, “Let-me-think-about-it-yes-extra-hot-with-hazelnut, please!”

Later, as the cup of java warmed my hands and my soul on a rainy morning, he brings up the election. He fires off, “I’d never vote for a woman. Women are crazy.”

voter-pamphletWhoa. Whoa. Whoa. First, I wanted to pour the double, hot latte on him, not because of his political party, but because of his choice based on gender. Then, I wanted to go off on how he doesn’t see women as equals and he is awful to think like a caveman. But I paused. This is the same guy who rescues me in a crisis when I need major help.

Too, he brings me hot, yummy coffee.

Just because.

And we disagree. Often. This could’ve turned into an ugly, heated debate. Pick two people with similar goals but with different life histories and perceptions, and there’s likely to be opposition. However, if you try to see the other person’s reality and you approach your thoughts as if you’re on the same team in this thing called life, conflict lessens.


Here are a five ideas to get you through the election and other difficult discussions.

  1. Speak your opinions and beliefs in love, as an edification, not in anger or hate. Do you think a verbal lashing will help someone change their mind to align with yours? No conversation ends well at the end of a dark tailspin.
  2. You may want to change minds, and you may, but instead respect and love them and try to understand other’s viewpoints. We don’t have to convince them “we are right” and they need to think like us.
  3. Many people react and make choices based on fear. The person across from you has fears and though they may seem illogical, they’re real. Sometimes fears paralyze them from making a good choice, or any choice at all. For instance, this friend’s mom had a drug problem, and for that he doubted and never trusted her. I can’t say for sure, but because of his experience it’s plausible he projects his mistrust on the 2016 Democratic candidate—a woman.
  4. Challenge yourself to remove people from check-box categories: gender, race, religion, political party, class, and other subcategories. Any time you think “those people” you are unfairly categorizing. Erase the boxes in which you’ve placed people in and view each person and action separately.
  5. Choose to perceive life around you as positive and hopeful. Head towards the light. Be the light.

I challenge each of you to allow differences of opinion without the unnecessary conflict. The world is a big, beautiful place with a variety of people with rich life stories from which we can all learn something beneficial. Let’s look at each individual with new eyes and willful understanding. Put love first at the root of all our conversations, thoughts and choices. Allow a safe environment for people to discuss and even disagree with you. Bring someone with a different opinion than yours a hot coffee. Just because.



  1. Thank you Laura, for your presence in our sometimes maddening world. You bring us inspiration and enlightenment for the many intent on saving our earth’s natural beauty and environment- magnificent! For example, I have never used chemicals on my lawn- all birds and animals come for the smorgasbord! It’s been entertaining and heartwarming. You are the same for us. Keep the positive thoughts going- 🌻

  2. Lilli Zeeberg

    Dearest Laura, you are so right on❤️ Be positive and nonjudgmental.focus on love. Especially now after this dramatic and scary election result.

  3. Laura Peterson

    Nicely said, Laura. Thanks for the inspiration.

  4. Tracy Groot

    Love it!!!! Well said, my friend!!!

    • Laura Hartema

      Thanks Tracy, you have the gift of words, so I appreciate your comment.

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Volunteer this Earth Day

Whenever I meet travelers from other countries I ask, “What do you love most about the United States?” One of the top answers is: “You have beautiful natural areas.”  Thankfully, as an Ecologist, I restore habitat daily. At the root of it, are plants. Big leaf maple

Plants represent life, always reaching and growing in an open embrace toward the sun each day. In their variety of native landscapes, plants fill this world with beauty—equal to sunsets that can only be admired and never possessed. What if we stop caring about them?

Imagine a desert void of vibrant springtime petals among prickly cactus. cactus flower Grand Canyon

Or the rain-and-sun-quenched diversity of the tropics near the equator stripped bare to the ground. Amazon, Peru

Or what if the tundra’s micro-survivors, living close together and to the surface, with their tiny roots trying to push through permafrost, were pushed out all together? Sadly, picture windswept shorelines without erosion controlling plants, hardened by stagnant walls of rock and concrete, our creeks contained by a network of flumes and pipes. Not pretty.

What vision do you have for your own little corner of the earth?Enchanted Valley elk

You can begin by appreciating the benefits of native vegetation. To be surrounded by beauty of diverse, healthy habitats is a privilege; to steward them is our responsibility.

wheelbarrow and maddox

Below are a few reasons to care about trees and plants:

  1. It takes one acre of trees (100% canopy) to provide enough oxygen for eight people (International Society of Arboriculture, 2007).
  2. Trees absorb excessive carbon dioxide (gas most responsible for global warming, in addition to methane and nitrous oxide) in the atmosphere and store it over their lifetimes. Longer lived trees release it back into the environment more slowly.
  3. Trees can remove trace hazardous chemicals from our environment and improve air quality.
  4. Plant roots bind soil, reduce erosion, and filter and take up common pollutants, thereby improving water quality.
  5. Trees provide shade to reduce ultraviolet radiation and lower air temperatures.
  6. Trees shield wind.
  7. A variety of native trees, shrubs and herbaceous plants provide food sources and habitat to many types of wildlife. Remove and replace invasives with beneficial native plants.
  8. Mature trees increase property values.
  9. Trees and native landscapes inspire creativity, poetry, even love, and have a positive effect on health.
  10. Plants are cool and make people happy.

trees in fog

The benefits of trees and other plants are clear, but we must each contribute. The cliché, “hug a tree,” means so much more when you attach their value. Look past the commonly held view of “It’s my land; I’ll do what I want with it.” Your postage stamp property and everyone else’s combined  holds much significance as a whole to this earth. How you manage your property does affect us all.

Plant, preserve and protect.

I am thankful for President Teddy Roosevelt, who in the early 1900’s had the foresight to preserve national forests and parks. It is in some of those parks where I hike today, where I often meet people from other states and far away countries, in awe of a beauty that can’t be possessed. There, too, out my window and in my community, I’m reminded of what grand and beautiful landscapes are beyond it and how each of us has a responsibility to care for them.Mount Dickerman

Please volunteer on Earth Day in April to celebrate, cherish, and steward this planet we call home.

Love this day!


  1. Sue Clarke

    Lovingly written. And wonderful pictures. I will be at your Earth day event if I’m in town.

    • Laura Hartema

      Yay, Sue. It’ll be great to see you again, especially if you’ll conquer ivy with me.

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