Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Soul Searching

Lately I've been doing some "soul searching", as they say. 
Thinking about what it is that brings me joy and passion, and where I feel my life's purpose is going to take me. 

The following deep thoughts were spurred on one night as I was laying in bed; with the scent of lavender guiding me to dream land, I was contemplating how I've come to find truth in the power of aromatherapy, yet I question other things people find truth and healing in like crystals... then the thought of crystal reminded me of sand and being warm on a beach... which then reminded me how, in the past 12 months, I haven't left the country. I've only left the province twice-- once to get a package across the US border, once barely into Ontario to assist a friend with a wedding she was shooting. I realized it's been so long since I've travelled I don't even know where my passport it. I realized the stagnant life of not travelling, and not doing trips to help others, has been a drain on my life force. This is the longest length of time in the past 7 years I haven't travelled with the purpose of humanitarian aid (my main reason for travel). Which leads to the obvious question...

"What am I doing with my life?!"

As a white girl in Canada, who bakes for a living and can afford a yoga membership, I have the ridiculously unfair privilege to contemplate such things. Ahh yes, the searching heart of the restless millennial. 

My foundational purpose of always to try to be more Christ-like and show love to others, had also been found in the dedication to provide education and be an activist to see human trafficking come to an end. It was woven in the fibre of my being, and helping abroad enabled me to live that out in ways I loved. The passion of seeing the injustice of human trafficking come to an end, while still there on an internalized level of putting my preaching into action of making conscious consumer choices and knowing facts to share, isn't as bold as it once was. It doesn't fuel my life. It doesn't leave me searching for more ways to help like it once did-- especially when the romanticized notion of leaving to help across the world has become more of a daydream then something so easily tangible... oh, being an adult with work and other life commitments has it's lacklustre moments.

Where does my passion now spark from?

At the root I can believe it is an encompassing ideal of wanting to inspire individuals to create, and encourage others to create, positive world change. But, c'mon, we all know I chose the word "encompassing" because it sounded fancier than broad-- which can also be a fancy way of hiding the fact it's currently a really huge grey area with no specific focus or goal. 

God created each one of us uniquely so it matters what we do. It matters what we do and how we do it. It also matters if we live our unique lives to honour Him, or without giving Him a thought. The same goal attempted to be reached without God will land you in a different place than the same goal reached with God as a guide. Heck, with God as your guide, you'll probably surpass your goal and end up somewhere so different and amazing you had no idea it was even possible.

So what do we do? If God made us unique, and gave us passions and personalities and characteristics and an immense joy in following him, what's our next step?

As a society we've become so caught up in the ideal of passion and destination and purpose as a trifecta of perfection. W
hen you reach that amazing point in your life, all your dreams will come true, you feel invincible, everything finally adds up, your heart and life are so full you can't handle it! You shout with joy from the rooftops, live in a nice house, have a great car, go out to eat at fancy restaurants, and have overall 'made it'. This often gets tied up along with the idea the trifecta of perfectness will be found in our career. 

This is pretty inaccurate. If life has taught us anything, it's that the best laid plans will fail, your dreams and goals change over time, and 'working your way to the top' doesn't guarantee fulfillment when you arrive. We know this isn't right-- we've seen it fail time and time again. I guess the simple next step is "ask God". He knows. Read your bible, read a devotion, talk to people about faith and listen to God in quiet moments of meditation (or as you're trying to sleep with lavender softly filling the air around you). Even if you don't get an answer right away, knowing the path you're on is one of knowledge and honesty and grace is enough. 

So, where does that leave us? If relentless faith and an endless desire for God is our main goal, what does the rest matter? 

I wish I could tell you the concrete answers to these 'soul searching' questions. Honestly, I know God being our main focus and living a life rooted in love is a great place to start. 

I may not know what's next, and may not know where my passport is, but I know when I find it, the next time I use it will be for a purpose God has control over-- and along the way to my destination I'll be inspiring people to make a difference where they are at.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Human Rights

Surprises are the best!

One of my best friends, Kim, lives in Hamilton, Ontario. On an adventure to Hamilton to do some house searching many, many moons ago, Kim and I were introduced and basically became instant best friends. She shared her life story, while I listened and played with our mutual friend Cory’s cat. It really was the beginning of an awesome friendship-- from that day I knew that when my wonderful husband and I finally moved to Hamilton, there was one person I could rely on for a hangout, an errand run, and other general fun.

Fast forward to the end of 2015 and Kim and I hadn’t seen each other in 11 months. We skyped and texted to remain in contact, but my move to Winnipeg left us thousands of miles apart. While the length of time between visits wasn’t supposed to be this long, surprise visit after re-scheduled surprise visit never ended up working out. Until Christmas…

Kim’s boyfriend bought her a surprise trip to Winnipeg for her holiday time off work. She found out on Christmas eve and arrived in Winterpeg on Christmas day! It was fun to hangout and do life together again—spending hours on the couch watching movies, colouring, drinking peach cosmo’s and obviously Taylor Swift in the form of music and concert (on apple music, haha) was involved. As much as we could jam pack our days lingering in the warmth of the apartment, I knew I would need to plan a few things to do together. One of the scheduled outings was to the Human Rights Museum.

Kim and I after our museum adventure.
Even after hearing mixed reviews about the museum, I knew Kim and I would both enjoy our time taking in all the information and exhibits the museum had to offer. We arrived on a chilly Sunday morning eager to use our expired student ID’s and learn more about human rights.

The museum was rich with information on a global history of how human rights have been denied to many people—from the holocaust, to the residential school system where aboriginal children were removed from their homes and placed elsewhere; from those with disabilities being looked at as a sub-human, to rights of freedom of speech, hate speech and other discriminatory issues. It was eye opening to learn so many unknown facets behind common events. While some historical atrocities are known to most people, it’s amazing how many have happened that we had no idea about—and how many are still happening that no one speaks of.

One display in particular which really resonated with me was on how our consumerism affects human rights around the world. The display was made up of solid white replicas of common items we use—canola oil, cell phones, makeup, etc. You would stand where one item was on display, touch the screen in front of you, and see the information which shows how we, as Canadians and as members of modern society, are negatively impacting those around us. From information about minerals being mined for our cell phones, to children picking cotton for our clothing, it was a display I hope people take to heart when they visit.

The ‘inspiring change’ area was obviously my favourite part of the museum. As you journey from the first floor up to the seventh, you learn about both the forward strides and pitfalls of human rights around the world. It's easy to be discouraged, but it's also be a great time to reflect on what we can do to make a difference.  Reflection is encouraged and a space is provided for you reflect, write and share your thoughts on a card to be displayed. Each card begins with a prompt which vary from “I Imagine…” to “I am inspired by…”, “I believe…”, “Reconciliation is…”, “Inclusion is…” and more.

As someone who is aware of some of the issues where human rights are denied in the areas of human trafficking, there were so many things I wanted to write on all of the various cards.
“I imagine a world where humans are treated as people with hearts and minds, and not as property to be bought and sold.”
“I believe a world with less greed will be a world where human rights problems are solved.”
“I am inspired by the stories of human trafficking survivors who teach us to never give up hope, to fight for what is right, and who encourage us that one person speaking up for the voiceless can make a real difference.”

While all these thoughts came to mind I was drawn to the “Respect is…” card.
Respect is something we give out like currency based on the actions of those around us. Say something I don’t agree with that is perhaps slanderous to another person? You loose some respect. Stand up for someone? You gain respect. Make a poor business decision? Respect is lost. Make financially sound decisions? You are respected...

This becomes tricky. Handing out respect like currency is like handing out joy, freedom, honesty, and even hate, jealousy and anger with price tags attached—each one providing you with value, each one making you either a better person or a worse person. What’s more, is we openly share our personal views of other people to reflect their ‘value’ in our eyes. ‘That person is weird’, ‘That person did xyz so I don’t respect them’, ‘This person is arrogant’. It’s a vicious cycle of negativity stemming from one person thinking their opinion of another is the most important, and their experience dictates what another person should or shouldn’t believe.

“Respect is… understanding acceptance doesn’t mean agreement. You can love + respect those with different ideals while holding onto your own.”

Our job isn’t to judge, it’s to love and listen and discuss and accept people regardless of what they do or what they think. You can disagree with someone’s choices in life or opinions on things without negatively dragging them down or saying they are wrong. To them, they are right.

While this doesn’t work in all extreme cases (murdering someone doesn’t gain a ‘you be you’ response), in the case of accepting and loving our neighbors, co-workers, bank tellers, waiters, sales associates, and ‘friends of a friend’, it makes a big difference.

Respect is required.  I can respect you and disagree with your choices. I can love you as a human being even if I don’t want to live a life like you do. The concept isn’t hard to understand—let’s make living it out that easy too!