one woman's quest to live the life she's imagined all while daring you to do the same

Haters Gonna Hate: That’s their job — yours … don’t listen

Wangari Maathai, an environmental and peace activist, Nobel Prize recipient, and founder of, gave this change-the-world commencement speech at Connecticut College in 2006.

She closed with a great story. And since I’m obsessed with with all things hummingbirds, hero’s journey and underdogs, I had to share:

The Hummingbird Perseveres

I want to tell you a story because it is a story of “never give up.” It is a story of a forest that went on fire, a huge forest that suddenly was on fire. There was a big fire raging. All the animals came out of the forest. As they came to the edge of the forest and they started watching the fire, feeling very discouraged, feeling very disempowered. Every one of them did not think there was anything they could do about the fire except a little hummingbird. The little hummingbird said, “I can do something about this fire. I’m not going on the side to watch the forest burn.”

So the little hummingbird ran toward the nearest stream. (This is not my story. I got it from somebody else. It is a story from a professor who got it from America, so it has made a full circle!) The little hummingbird took a drop of water, and put it on the raging fire. Then back again and brought another drop and kept running up and down. In the meantime, the other animals are discouraging [the hummingbird]. They are telling it, “Don’t bother, it is too much, you are too little, your wings will burn, your beak is too little, you can’t do much about this fire.” Some of these animals that were discouraging it had big beak that could have brought more water than the hummingbird. But they weren’t. They were very busy discouraging.

The hummingbird decided not to be discouraged. It kept going up and down to get the water and put it on the burning forest. And as the animals were discouraging it, without wasting its time, the bird looked back to these other animals and saw how desperate, discouraged and persuaded they were to stay on the sidelines and not get involved. One animal said, “What do you think you are doing?” And the hummingbird, without wasting time, looked back and said, “I’m doing the best I can.”

And isn’t that all we can ever truly ask of ourselves? Our best?

I leave you with this: There will always be haters. Naysayers have their job too. They’re part of the challenge. Our journey is to do it anyway. Whatever it is for you. Be bold. Be authentic. Be your best.


Much Love,



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