Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ready for lovin'?

As I was giving my daughter a bit of love & snuggles yesterday, she suddenly broke away and said “That’s enough loving for today”. Not long after that, I was bent over looking at something and suddenly SHE is back on me, smothering me in love so I said “Hey, I thought you said you had enough loving for today!” She giggled of course, and then kept right on loving me.

I cherish these moments and this was one of those that I just never want to forget. (Makes up for all the other moments that this same daughter may have me ready to pull out my hair!!) My kids are 3, 5 & 8 and the 2 younger ones are fast approaching their next birthdays. Come to think of it, the next big birthday is MINE! & I am definitely feeling my age!! Sleep deprivation is so ironic in that you WANT to remember all the wonderful moments, but you are so tired and in the grand scheme of things, really remember very little. My kids aren’t up most nights anymore, but some mornings I am really dragging.

My sister & her family slept over last night. They live about 3 hours away so, while we don’t see them ultra frequently, we see them way more than we used to so I’m pleased! Between us, there were 7 kids on residence. 1,2,3,4,5,8 & 8. It was only a little loud & chaotic!!! Actually, it was wonderful!

We always want to do what’s best for our kids and I know it is often a big mystery as to the best way to respond to various things and that definitely cornered a bit of the adult conversation.

When my first big boy was born, I had read all the books, had all the “NEED” equipment and he was cared for in a text book fashion. I found with my middle man, it was largely the same, but since I had to accommodate a bigger boy’s needs at the same time, I had to show a little more flex. And the pattern continued even MORE for my 3rd. It was for her that I discovered all the COOL things. Like cloth diapering, baby wearing and nursing long enough to make others raise their eyebrows (I’ve always been one to push people’s comfort a bit, so there I go!) I was way more relaxed!

I won’t get into the nitty, gritty details of each of their birth stories, but suffice it to say, they each got here in their own way. Each of their care has come from my heart and while the process had definitely relaxed by the time we had 3, I came to realize what was really important. I stopped stressing about what the books said and took to paying more attention to my individual kids NEEDS.

I did say NEEDS, not WANTS. Ooooh, I wanted all the great baby stuff!!! While I have trouble shopping for myself, give me kids things and a need I can semi-justify!! Really? It’s just stuff. The car seat is a NEED and a few other things from a safety (legal) standpoint, but so much of it is just frill.

In developing countries, our want lists would raise a few eyebrows. Wants? What the heck are those? Excuse me, I don’t have access to clean water and thus struggle to produce milk and therefore my child is dying because I don’t have the ability to meet his NEEDS. Time for a gander down the road of “let’s rethink this”.

After a pleasant outing with all the cousins (in which I got in some extra special snuggle time with a precious 2yo niece), we all went to the restaurant of choice (majority ruled and 7 kids age 8 and under picked McD’s – any surprise?). So, of course the kids have to check out what the current toy is and decide which one they really NEED (yes, I’m aware we have work to do in this department).

Once the food was in front of us we noticed one of my sister’s boys was disappointed that the other 3 boys all got a different toy than him and so one of the adults was about to go to the counter to request a trade when MY middle man offered to trade with him! Well, everyone is happy and once more eating our high calorie meal when we realize my middle nephew is once again sad. What happened was MY middle man decided to renege on the trade and had carried out the swap. This was highly uncool of course, so we enforced that our middle man must stick with his earlier decision. Well! I will tell you that when my middle man decides to wail, it is like a fog horn. Embarrassingly, I wish I were exaggerating, but I am not.

I commented to my sister about the young couple sitting at a nearby table. I figured this will certainly scare them off from ever having children. She laughed and said yeah, they’re likely figuring their kids will NEVER behave like this.

So, nearby diner’s lunch was somewhat disrupted (although really, what do you expect if you are dining at McDonalds?)

As we were leaving (because really, it was just time), a McDonalds employee steps out from behind the counter and hands my son another toy. GRRRR. Um, thank you for that moment of undermining the parent McDonalds!

We still had a serious discussion with our son though about integrity and sticking by what you said. (We likely used more 5yo type words, but that was the general idea). And then 2 minutes later, he was asleep (likely partially a contributor to the lack of good judgement).

Kids NEED what we teach them. Love, empathy & respect for others and a full sense of character. The stuff is just stuff.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Charities Tapping Into Social Networks For Support - Family News Story - WSB Atlanta

Charities Tapping Into Social Networks For Support - Family News Story - WSB Atlanta

That’s a good Joe!

My daughter picked this line up from a cartoon movie – Monsters vs. Aliens, I think. She’ll sit with her water or milk at the table and say “That’s a good joe”. She knows she’ll get a laugh every time.

When I’m making coffee at home, I do offer it to my kids – partially to be polite, but also because I know they’ll laugh & remind me that coffee is an adult drink. I DO enjoy my coffee.

Coffee is one of those things that is under fire by me, mentally. It is one of these necessary evils. Evil in all the bad things it does to me, necessary in that it does lots of good for me as well. I LOVE coffee.

However, I KNOW (as do I think most coffee drinkers somewhere in a recess of their minds) that coffee is one of those products that while benefiting US, is quite disturbing in its production process. We’re talking child labor, wages well below legal standards, a work day extending well beyond legal standards, unsafe use of machinery & pesticides etc etc. Check it!

And at this point in time, the coffee WE purchase at our local store is at a nice low price that doesn’t even cover the farmer’s expenses – this leads to a debt cycle that is very dangerous and just adds to the above mentioned issues. But I REALLY love my coffee!!

Bring in Fair Trade! WHAT does fair trade even mean? It means all the above concerns are monitored & taken into account before the coffee reaches consumers. To receive a fair trade label, all these issues must be resolved.

YES, it costs more. A comment was made to me a few days ago as I was having this discussion with someone. This person said if they felt bad about buying regular coffee, they’d put a few extra bucks towards another group in the area trying to help out. *I shake my head*. I posted a link a few days ago about Nestle trying to justify child labor “As long as the kids have access to proper schooling”. Excuse me? So, you’re saying I can work my kids 12+ hours in the day, exposing them to unsafe conditions and various abuses, but so long as I get them some education in there, somehow that’s okay?? So, if I buy my lesser expensive coffee from Kenya (where 60% of the coffee laborers are children), but I pay for a well in a neighbouring African country, I’m justified! - ???

I don’t like it.

Rather than continue to buy lesser expensive coffee, if more people would accept the reality about where their coffee comes from and start supporting labels that show the fair trade logo, much of these issues would really just go away. If the farmer was paid something above, rather than below the cost of production, they may actually hire real laborers rather than enslave children. In Guatemala, the average female worker makes $0.87 -$1.30 for a 10-12 hour day rather than the legal $2.60 for a maximum 8 hour day. It is a bit of a cycle and the only one benefiting here is US.

Things HAVE been improving though, consumers ARE starting to realize this and major chains ARE making fair trade products more readily accessible. In 1998, more than 21,500 kg of fair trade coffee was sold in Canada. By 2004, Canadians were buying more than 940,000 kg. That’s a huge jump!! In Europe, sales of fair trade products are increasing at a rate of 20% per year. People ARE noticing and demanding change and the industry has had to follow suit. Yay!!

So, a week ago while shopping in Costo, I was purchasing more coffee (because I love it so!) I looked at the big tub for one price, then the slightly smaller container for more than a slightly higher price and I went with the fair trade option.

Why put a band aid on your knee if the cut is on your elbow?

For the record, Starbucks and other large deluxe mega coffee companies have already gone fair trade.

Like it? Please share it!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Social Justice Club??

I’ve been checking out high schools in my area as of late. Not that I think my kids are going to jump a few grades, but more so because I am a high school science teacher and I’m hoping to familiarize myself with the nearby schools in the hopes that one day I might find myself once again employed.

As I looked through the many activities and extra curricular groups each school offered, I was pleasantly surprised to see that some actually have a Social Justice Club! Wow! How great is that?

Empathy breeds a desire to change. Who else is as idealistic as an enthusiastic, energetic high school student!

Our local paper has at times mentioned various school groups doing something for the greater good and I’m always so impressed. Sure, for lots of kids, getting involved raising funds for something or rallying for something might just be something they are doing as part of a peer group. However, many of these kids will be taking something truly to heart and be truly moved to continue what they’ve started.

When I was in high school, there was no social justice group, I don’t think I would have had a clue what social justice even was. No one was raising funds for any grand cause beyond safe grad. Perhaps other schools were a little more involved here, but mine was not. I was happily one of the music geeks and was content in my little world. I guess they’re now called gleeks? (Although the glee kids make it look so much cooler than I remember ever being).

The paper this week and last week ran an article and editorial on Eva Olsson. A lady in her late 80’s who is a holocaust survivor. She has written a book (which I’ve requested our library to consider obtaining) and goes around the country giving talks on her experiences. She talks about bullying and the damage caused by bigotry and hatred. Adolf Hitler being the ultimate bully.

Our world is full of bullies. Not just the school ones, but everywhere you look someone is being squashed down by someone bigger, stronger or with more money. Africa’s conflicts are full of bullies, but North America has so many too.

I am so impressed with these schools that have groups dedicated to raising awareness & empathy. Teens are the perfect advocates as many of their views have not been tainted by the harsh realities of life. Idealism sets the perfect stage for empathy.

Friday, March 25, 2011

The Princess Bride

The Princess Bride – Fave movie of all time. I definitely have enjoyed some others along the way and LOVE a few even, but Princess Bride has an untouchable place with me, up with the original Star Wars trilogy and a few other untouchables. I am eager to watch it one day with my kids, but a few parts make me think I’ll wait just a bit longer.

This week, for me, made me feel like I was living on the Cliffs of Insanity. You know, the ones they have to climb that are a sheer drop going high into the clouds that you have to be absolutely insane to consider climbing? Those ones. Nothing drastic happened (and nothing especially that could compare to a friend’s week – she told me about it last night and I chose to shut up at that point about my own).

I’m grouchy. Really, I kid you not. I am a perpetual grouch, it is my normal countenance. Ask my poor kids & hubby. I like my ducks lined up and my house clutter free. With 3 kids and a fabulous husband, that is near impossible and it delves me right down into the pit of despair (another classic scene from the film). Man! I’m a grouch! I do hide it well though and only those who know me super well have caught a glimpse. I would be curious to know what went on in their head at that moment that my real self surfaced!!

This week, I did not get much for “me” time and I felt it. My yoga class on Tuesday was pre-empted for an interview – which was actually a great thing!! I just really missed my down time. And Thursday morning, I was the “Duty Parent” at my daughter’s preschool. So, my only 2 slots of true alone time were gone. Woe is me.

As I was driving to my French class last night, I was reflecting on that book I mentioned I’ve been reading “An Imperfect Offering”. I am just over and over blown away at these people that are constantly putting themselves in full on danger to help people they don’t know, in a country that is not their own. Wow!! I admire that more than I can express. People standing up for people – as it should be. In fact, Doctors Without Borders started b/c some of the doctors with the Red Cross & other NGO’s did not like the stance those organizations took to stay so impartial. It’s a give/take I suppose. Their impartiality at times is what enables them to be allowed into certain areas, but at other times, these doctors felt that if they had stood up, something could have happened to CHANGE things for the better and prevent future strife.

This book is kicking me in the sense that I have always been so clueless!! I would watch those World Vision infomercials and be almost able to block it out. I wondered why on earth don’t those people in Africa just get a clue? Send them some seeds and a hoe! Really! How ignorant am I?? Completely naïve. I think World Vision does a disservice by broadcasting in that way. Why don’t they actually explain WHAT is going on? Starving people is a HUGE deal, but it has not been their own choices or lack of knowledge that has brought them there. This is NOT an ignorant culture. Mass starvation has been a result of the many conflicts that have existed for so many years. I had NO CLUE!

Sometimes I wish I had just stayed in my hole of ignorance. Why do I want to know all this? I really have no answer except that I know as someone who claims to have a faith and follows someone who has set the prime example of standing up and caring for people, this knowledge bugs me. It REALLY bugs me.

I hold to the belief that maybe most people just really don’t know much about what is going on. Because really, if they DID know, wouldn’t it bug them too??

Princess Bride has the mystery and intrigue of starting wars & pinning it on others, kidnapping & romance. When I am in my own pit of despair, I really need to suck it up, because in reality, I have it SO good. I need to keep my focus in perspective. Be thankful & humbled for what I have and work hard not to take that for granted.

Elections are coming up!! I don’t expect Canada to break into civil war over who wins & loses, but I will be paying a bit more attention this year regarding some of the platforms. Surely our government has more of a clue of what’s going on then I did. I know they have OUR country to run, but I’m just a little bit curious to know if this all bugs any of them and what they think we could be doing to stop the insanity.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

I need to check back with my extremely savvy blogger friends on how to add a picture for wordless Wednesday! LoL! SO! I'll instead, leave you with a brief statistical point to mull over.

Consider this:

Records state that transatlantic slavery brought 10,148,525 people from their homeland over into slavery from the year 1514 to the last "legal" voyage in 1866.

Feel free to check it out at Voyages - The Trans Atlantic Slave Trade Database.

That was over a span of 352 years.

CURRENTLY at any given moment, in this "age of civility" where anyone with any gamete of conscience is anti slavery, our world has over 27,000,000 people held in slavery against their will. This is not a span of hundreds of years, this is NOW.

Feel free to check it out at Matador Network

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

In the presense of plastic

I was on the clean up crew at my daughter's pre-school this evening. All I can say is that was a lot of plastic.

Plastic scares me a bit. From the knowledge that every bit of plastic made from chemicals by people will be forever on our planet. It may be melted down & changed into some other form, but it will always be there. The footprint of plastic is massive.

That really doesn't sit fab with me.

Let’s Save the Planet

- A plug for harmony

My favourite colour is green. Always has been. I think that started b/c my Grandma once told me HER favourite colour was green, but then as I aged, I came to recognize my love for nature and all growing things and green just fit.

I grew up and followed one career path which led me to pursue a degree in Agroecology. Basically an Agriculture degree with an Environmental twist. It seemed to fit who I was. Unfortunately it did not fit where the world was at. Being part of an inaugural class for a new degree program had its drawbacks. None of us could get a job at the end of it!! We were a hybrid of 2 industries that often turn up their nose at each other. The ag-industries tend to promote chemical use for fertilizer & yield – THEY did not want an environmentalist on staff. The Environmental companies wondered why on Earth we would choose to support the Ag industry and they felt we were a little too UNgreen for them. So, of the 16 of us that graduated that year, a few got their Master’s degree (along a more straight agricultural path), some became teachers and I think there are a few pharmacists even! I don’t know anyone who has succeeded as an agroecologist and I don’t even know if the program still exists.

The powers that be shook their heads at this result and figured this degree was perhaps ahead of its time. They saw the positives in a merge of these 2 very different (yet in many ways very similar) areas. But the industries themselves were not willing to consider a compromise.

On a more grandiose scale, I look at our planet. We have people trying to save it from an environmental perspective, and we have people trying to save it from a humanitarian perspective. 2 seemingly different campaigns, yet with a surprising amount of overlap.

In Africa, much of the slave trade revolves around people wanting to harvest mass quantities of natural mineral resources. Lives are being destroyed as the planet is being destroyed.

I’ve taken to scrolling various blogs on the matter and so many exist! You see the word GREEN all over! What does this word mean to you? How committed are people to saving the planet? There is a whole industry devoted to GREEN. From toilet cleaners to environmental air fresheners and detergents. Really, I don’t think stuff like that is making much of a difference – give me straight up baking soda & vinegar.

What if things were brought into balance?? Is such a thing even possible? If people weren’t so keen on living with such excess, how different would things look?

The current slave trade is alive & well because the demand is there. It is there for diamonds, other precious metals, coffee and others. If the demand didn’t exist, neither would slavery. The human trafficking of children for the sex industry would not exist either. It all comes down to demand.

Caring for our planet is a wonderful thing and I will be the first to celebrate someone’s efforts, no matter how small. But the people of our planet are also in need of care and I don’t just mean putting in a tin of something from your cupboard that you don’t think you’ll ever eat into the harvest bin. Think bigger!!

Demand creates a need for supply.

We continue to demand from our planet and from the people who inhabit it. These people don’t have a face we may recognize, but we do need to recognize that they are the ones providing the supply for our demand.

Support the companies that truly have our planet and her people in their best interest. Sometimes you have to look for them. They are there and they will continue to get stronger if people continue to demand for them! Slowly, slowly, requests for change ARE happening. It’s not time to kick our feet up and rest just yet, but it is cause to celebrate!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Diversity Conversation: Lisa Shannon and Kathleen Owens



Khadarlis-change: Water is life...

Khadarlis-change: Water is life...: "Could you imagine if you had to walk 6 miles just to get clean water --- water to drink, cook, do laundry, clean your home, or take a show..."

Brain Cloud

I have a hard time with contentment. I think in part it has something to do with the fact my mind is always whirring and I want to be involved & participating and feeling like I am REALLY contributing.

I have 2 university degrees and years of experience putting on events, organizing groups and rallying people. At the moment, I stay at home with my kids. Yup, that’s pretty much what I do. I feel like my brain has atrophied.

Now, as many people remind me (a bit too often in my opinion) “You are doing the most important job there is” (ie, taking care of my kids) and while I agree, I still say my mind is restless.

I really don’t want to turn this into a gripe about “a day in the life of me” b/c really, how boring is that! But I’ll tell you this; I think my kids are winning!

So I think it is safe to admit, that not only do I at times feel I am not using my mind, I also fear I may be losing it!!

I feel a little trapped with my desire to be contributing to global struggles. I sit here, read the odd book, try to follow discussions and news releases online to keep myself informed. However, that voice inside of me (the evil one that I work hard to suppress most of the time) wants to ask what the point is.

The groups I see hard at work are so far away. I feel like Kevin Costner in Dances with Wolves when he is put in an outpost and finds himself all alone. At first, he keeps a tight fort, presses his uniform and polishes his shoes, always keeping himself ready for what he has been called to do. Eventually, he realizes that he is all alone and no one is coming and he starts slacking.

I find it hard to maintain a healthy level of self worth when I feel I am not contributing in a way that feels tangible to me. I am a teacher in a community that has too many teachers, hence I am unemployed because since we just moved here, I have no foothold in the hierarchy of things. So, my paperwork is all submitted and I must continue to wait until my file makes its way to the surface.

My Congolese sister is so far away and I need to remind myself that what I do, I do for her and others like her. It is not about MY search for significance or MY self worth. How North American of me, to think this journey is about ME!

There is something called Run for Congo. it was created by the author of “A Thousand Sisters” – Lisa Shannon. When she didn’t know how else to help, she started to run and eventually hosted a run to raise funds to support more sisters through Women for Women International.

Anyone want to run with me? I think my next book might be “Couch to 5K” at least if my brain atrophies, my legs won’t!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

10x10 - Educate Girls. Change the World

blackpurl's knitpickings... an expat journal: Lessons from Saint Patrick

blackpurl's knitpickings... an expat journal: Lessons from Saint Patrick: "I taught religion class this morning at Evergreen and introduced them to St. Patrick. As you can imagine there are not many Irish people her..."

Luck 'O the Irish

Today is a day for celebration! For those who are Irish, and even for those who are not – St. Paddy’s day fills the pubs with those looking for a pint. Even better that many pubs will serve ‘em up green!

I am part Irish and while I have no intentions of going out for a pint (I have my French class this evening), I am celebrating by wearing a green shirt and I’m taking a break from my French homework (actually, I’m stumped for the moment, so this was a good excuse to do something else for awhile).

When I was little, I recall being very confused about my heritage although I knew it was something very important. I owned a Ukrainian looking shirt – therefore I figured I must be part Ukrainian. I had a kilt and my Aunt had married a Scotsman, therefore I figured I must be Scottish as well. It took me awhile to figure it all out. I am actually mostly British with one Irish grandparent.

My kids have it worse when they are trying to know who they are. My hubby brings a different mix to the table. French & Aboriginal (no, he is not Metis, that is a whole different culture group). I try to tell my oldest that he is Canadian and just leave it at that, but knowing his roots seems just as important to him as I recall it being to me and he's not satisfied with the simple answer.

One funny slightly digressive story; I have features that at times have caused people to guess various ethnic backgrounds for me far apart from what they actually are. I have (*ahem* okay, HAD) very dark hair and I have very green eyes. Many years ago when I worked in a retail store, I had a bit of a stalker who was an older gentleman who wore a turban. He continued to insist I was a good Indian girl who must be willing to marry his son. Okay, THAT was a bit extreme and I really don’t think I look THAT unlike who I say I am. It’s just a funny story now and I hope he found a good wife for his son!

If you are Irish, today I lift a hypothetical pint in your direction! If you are in Ireland, enjoy the festivities!! I’m already seeing circulating photos of the parties & parades.

And here is a bit of history about the term “Luck of the Irish”. It NOW has a connection to good luck – hence the charms & clovers & pot of gold, but in the beginning, it was not so good. It was a bit of a put down.

When Irish people came to America, they were not treated well (what was that movie a few years ago – Gangs of New York? – it showed many of the various immigrant groups struggling along, trying to survive) Anyway, they had it rough. When Irish people then had any sort of success, others would chalk it up to luck because they figured the Irish people couldn’t be capable of such success on their own – so that is where the term came from! Now you know!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mandatory Fun

It was suggested that some of my posts are somewhat intense and that I should take a moment to lighten up! So, here is a momentary intermission from the seriousness of life. That’s okay actually, I’m still feeling the effects of time change and my mind is somewhat foggy these days and the serious stuff is a bit weighty on a befuddled brain.

While I find myself a highly funny person who loves to laugh, this does sound a bit like mandatory fun. Like you know when you go to some event or group and they make you play a warm up game or “Ice Breaker”. Really, I think people bond over the dumbness of it all. Maybe that’s the idea.

For my kids, mandatory fun is the name of the game and this game is played from morning until night and they work hard at it. Drives me a bit nutty actually. For my middle man especially, life is a laugh and we think he enjoys nothing more than making himself laugh – even better if someone else joins in, but if he’s on his own laughing hysterically, he’s good with that. The catch phrase for him that gets him going every time is “BUTT”. I kid you not. Did I mention he’s 5?

Okay, so right now I’m picturing my husband reading this and guffawing that I am NOT funny. Let’s just say deep down I do have a sense of humour. Is that fair? I think my standards are just really high and something must be quite funny in order for me to laugh.

Hmmm, maybe I am a bit stuck in the mud.

Okay, self awareness is always healthy. Working on it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Salt & Pepper

Some things just naturally go together. A few examples come to mind; sweet & sour, peanut butter & jelly, bagel & cream cheese. Yummy!!

Salt & pepper also came to mind. These 2 are so inseparable that there is a whole industry of shakers supporting their union!

What about Justice & Mercy?

Definitions of justice on the Web:
• the quality of being just or fair
• judgment involved in the determination of rights and the assignment of rewards and punishments

Definitions of mercy on the Web:
• mercifulness: the feeling that motivates compassion
• alleviation of distress; showing great kindness toward the distressed

These seemingly 2 opposite sides of a coin work best when aligned. I once asked, is it better to fight against the never ending conflict that exists or to focus our energy in responding to the aftermath? In this sense, my question was trying to determine if we should place one ahead of the other. While a multitude of opinions exist and many valid arguments, I just keep coming back to the perspective that you cannot have one without the other.

I have started to read another book – one I hope to report more on here in a few days. At this point, I’ve only just made it through the introduction. That in itself offered so much food for thought. The book is called “An Imperfect Offering” by James Orbinski, M.D. Dr. Orbinski was with the organization Doctors Without Borders and this book is a collection of stories he has been in and lived through over the last 20 years.

The introduction is heady, Dr. O describes one question that he says has preoccupied him for much of his life “How am I to be, how are we to be in the relation to the suffering of others?” I would think this is the deep rooted question for all of us who see the suffering and want to help. It also leaves me a bit confused along the way about how others can see the same suffering, but yet be quite satisfied to turn an apathetic head.

A quote from page 6 (you can see why this read is going so slow!!!) “When I began working with MSF (Medecins Sans Frontieres), I naively accepted the cloak of the apolitical doctor. I believed humanitarianism – with its principles of neutrality, impartiality and independence – to be outside of politics, in some ways even superior to it, and a way of avoiding its messy business. But I would come to see humanitarianism not as separate from politics but in relation to it, and as a challenge to political choices that too often kill or allow others to be killed.”

So while the side of justice is so important to CHANGE things and requires political knowledge, ability and authority, mercy is necessary to show CARE and COMPASSION to those who are affected by the things that NEED to change.

A third side to Justice & Mercy is Apathy. A humanitarian tries to turn apathy to empathy.

One final quote “Humanitarianism involves an insistence that international humanitarian law be applied and a call to others to act as citizens to demand that governments respect basic human dignity.”…. “Humanitarianism is about the struggle to create the space to become fully human”

You may be stronger towards the justice side of things, or perhaps your heart beats more for mercy. If you find however, that you are apathetic, please work to turn that to empathy. If most of the world just doesn’t care, then how will anything change?? Think about if WE were the ones in need of justice & mercy. If was us and our loved ones, and we were at the mercy of others being willing to get involved, wouldn’t you hope someone would want to do this for you? I would want someone to believe I am worth it!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Imagine That!

I was lucky last night to have been able to attend a fantastic cultural event. Which culture, you may ask?? Mine actually!!

Living in Canada, I’m surrounded by a vast array of cultural diversity. I LOVE it! I WANT my kids to look around and be part of a mixture of colours of skin, styles of clothes and so many beautiful languages! Canada celebrates that and as a Canadian, I celebrate that too!

The concert last night, was with Steve Bell. I found it highly cool that my husband managed to snag tickets pour gratuit – this fellow is from the same home town as us and we share many mutual friends. He is a hugely talented singer/songwriter/musician and it was a delight to be able to see him in such a regal venue as the one we were in last night.

People in Canada celebrate music, dramatical performances, symphonies, art shows and a multitude of other incredible cultural events. We have beautiful buildings dedicated to the display of this talent and while tickets are often way beyond what I can generally afford, I find even just living nearby, there are times (like last night) that tickets just find their way to you and the opportunity to enjoy is yours for the taking! What luxury! What freedom!

I love watching reality shows such as The Amazing Race and Survivor. Part of what I love is that they are in all these amazing different countries and at times, you get a glimpse of the culture. Dances, costumes, it is all so beautiful!

When I was younger and I would think about Africa, apart from the safari of animals that would come to mind, I would envision people in fantastically coloured clothing, amazing dancing & incredible music.

I recently had a thought, and it went like this; imagine if there was no conflict or civil war or oppression of any kind in the DRC. Imagine if men & women could go and farm the rich soils of their land and reap the harvest without fearing someone would come and take it – or worse, take their dignity or their life? What if some of them could go to work – even in the mines, but for fair pay, being allowed to return home to their family each night? Working for a business that trades on legal grounds with the rest of the world – and the rest of the world was OKAY with this set up. What if???

A dear lady sent me a blog post a few days ago. It was also encouraging people to imagine. The author was talking about a particular tragedy, but she commented that imagining is not limited to that situation alone – she suggested we DO try to imagine someone else’s hardship rather than just saying we CAN’T imagine.

Rather than leaving the tragedies and atrocities at arms length and just relishing in the peace we have to be able to celebrate our own culture, let’s imagine for a moment what it would be like if we couldn’t.

Imagine your children are hungry – and while the richness of the land has the ability to sustain them, you are helpless to do anything but watch them suffer.

Imagine you have been raped and your husband has abandoned you or been killed.

Imagine the fear that your 9 year old child will be stolen away and forced to join a militia or become a slave labourer in the mines that supply the rest of the world with diamonds and electronic dependent coltan.


As this post was coming together in my mind, John Lennon’s song kept popping in - couldn't help it! An excerpt of the lyrics;

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will be as one

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world

Imagine a culture set free from oppression. Imagine the beauty these people possess being set free to soar.

Imagine if more people would be willing to imagine!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Rockin' to a different beat

When I was little, I think I may have stood out as a bit odd. I don’t know this for sure, but I think about how I perceive things now and what I recall about my perceptions then and I have a feeling I may have raised a few eyebrows. Not necessarily in a bad way, but I think I was pretty independent and I remember thinking the adults with various activities I was involved with were fairly irrelevant and I just did my own thing anyway. I always loved to somehow be distinct. Puh-lease do not lump me in as just another kid!!

At school, in Kindergarten, I recall wanting to be friends with everyone – even the kids that stuck out as being different. A little girl who wore a patch on her eye, another one who smelled bad b/c of an incontinence issue – I had no social clue that I wasn’t supposed to befriend these people. I stuck up for them when others would push them down. I later learned better. As I went through school, I quickly realized if you befriend the kids that others have decided should remain friendless, you too won’t have much going for you socially.

I eventually learned the system and worked to keep my mouth shut and cheer on the cool kids though I don’t know if I ever reached the status of cool for myself.

What is it that is inside a kid SO STRONG that they FIGHT to be different – to somehow stand out from the crowd, then what is it again, that this same child a few years later will then FIGHT to blend in. PUH-LEASE let me blend in!!!

I fought this all through school and even into adult-hood. I recall being with groups of young ladies who knew the hair to have, where to buy their jeans and all about Doc Martens. I don’t know what part of my genetic make-up made it so difficult for me to follow these conversations. They just did not come naturally.

Obviously now, many years later, I’m generally okay in my skin. The insecurities are not non-existent, but I realize the things that make me unique are not necessarily bad. I have also realized that all those people who seemed to have all their ducks lined in a certain direction that I didn’t quite understand – may also not have understood it all either. They are also unique. Some just manage to hide it better than others!!

Why do we want to hide our uniqueness? Why do we desperately want to blend? I guess for many it feels safe. I knew if I was on the side of the bigger, stronger person socially, I likely wouldn’t be on the other end – getting the brunt of their own insecurities needing to pick on someone else. That approach is not fool proof however; I was on that receiving end plenty!

I look at my own kids! They each have a fire burning so bright!! I WANT them to be unique and I want them to CELEBRATE that!!! I celebrate that WITH them! I hope they never give up sticking up for the underdog like I unfortunately did. But I also do understand the realities of life and know they may also end up playing both sides of that coin.

When I got engaged, 13 years ago, an uncle commented to me “Well, you always did march to the beat of your own drummer”. I didn’t realize getting engaged was so out there! I’m still amused by that comment b/c almost 13 years later; I have no complaints & no regrets. I still wonder why he thought it was so out there???

When I tell people I am interested in speaking up for those who have no voice, I get differing reactions. So many are positive!!! But so many are not – sticking up for the underdog is not generally the cool thing to do.

I have a feeling I’m marching to my own drummer again!! I’m actually pretty okay with that this time. But what I’m coming to notice is that the rhythm is actually pretty strong. I look around and see what others are doing, and I see so many admirable people ALSO fighting this same fight.

I don’t really feel like an odd kid anymore. And even if I did, does it really matter?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Did you see the news?

I didn't, but a good friend sent me this link.

Please watch the 3 videos at this link.

In the second video, Ben is asked, "Why should people watch you talk about this?" Ben's answer "Because people are dying, REALLY dying, and have been for a long time.... I don't know that I can make any better of an argument why people should pay attention to this."

I love it when people in power use their power for something sooooo positive.

I read the comments attached to this story - at the time there were 21 of them. I think for every positive one, there were 3 negative ones. Largely focusing on Ben & Cindy's hypocrisy to help people in a different country while their own country has needs. The response was largely that the USA is broke, therefore they can't afford to help. How sad.

I watched those videos and I was moved. I was silently cheering for Ben & Cindy. We share the same heart, but while a hundred or so people may read my posts here, their impact has the ability to stretch hugely far!!! Therefore I guess it stands to reason that for every negative, unsupportive comment I get (and there have been a few - I need a thicker skin!)Their aid is witnessed by thousands, if not more - so a few more negative comments for them.

I'm not saying we should ignore the hurt in our own country. Poverty rears it's ugly head absolutely everywhere. My husband goes to work everyday here and works right in the midst of poverty in our city. I am so proud of him. The life stories he hears and the struggles he witnesses are hugely devastating. He is someone who works to bring hope & healing. It is his heart's passion and caring comes naturally to him.

I share that passion, but my humanitarian heart is in Africa. However - I also care for local people, how can I hear about my husband's day at work and NOT care?

I'm glad one commenter on that site was able to set the record straight and inform the others of all the fabulous things Ben IS doing on home soil. This guy is not just looking overseas and ignoring what's close at hand. The criticism for his large house & fancy toys was in turn, hypocritical. If he gives up a portion of his salary to humanitarian efforts, he still has some left over (being that his salary is larger than the average person's, it may still seem like he's holding onto so much), but in perspective, what if WE were to give up the same percentage of our own incomes? Not saying we should and not pestering anyone to do this, just for argument's sake. These people who are critical have every option to do that, but do they? Proportionally, Ben gets more attention. He makes more, therefore he can give more. But before these critics get too comfy on their high horse, perhaps they should consider if THEY could give more & be doing more.

Too many people think b/c they are not in a position of power or make so much money that they have nothing to contribute, so they just don't. It's not all about money. Time is huge! If people in your city are in need, dig around and find out what you can do.

In that book I just read "Half the Sky", someone the authors interview said that they would much prefer someone spending the money to physically COME see what they are doing, over just sending a cheque. They said the dividend of someone knowing first hand what is going on has WAY more overall impact.

Ben & Cindy go. They go often and they don't go empty handed. Can anyone really criticize that? They looked around, saw organizations that were working hard, doing great things and they came alongside, rolled up their sleeves and said put us to work.

I can't ignore that.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Would you shave your head for something you believed in?

Crazy question! But I’m serious. Help me figure this out.

When I first read Lisa Shannon’s book, I was struck by the ways I could help – listed in the ACT section of the “A Thousand Sister’s” website. One way listed was to support a woman (or more) through Women for Women International. Check that off – done! Another way is to sponsor a run with “Run for Congo Women”. Eek! I’m not a runner, but the thought has now crossed my mind – I’ll come back to that.

Another way was to purchase the video “The Greatest Silence” and host informational screenings. The purpose here is to increase awareness. If after seeing the video, someone is moved to sponsoring their own sister – Great! If they can just donate to the cause or join with someone else to share a sister – Fantastic! If they just walk away, knowing more about the struggles of African women and their heart is just a little bit changed – Super! Every little bit of support & awareness goes a long way here. The silence is just too much; I really just want to help people know what’s up.

In honesty, I’ve prolonged the purchase of the video. It was in the back of my brain “Okay, $29.95, I MUST purchase that!!” But in reality, I’ve been a bit chicken. Putting myself out there besides for a (sort of) anonymous blog, doing something real – is scary. I don’t want to offend people, I don’t want to make them uncomfortable, but I do want people to know the realities of what is going on in Africa. I believe most, like me, have some idea, but no real comprehension of the scope of what is going on – nor the avenues that exist to help.

As I mentioned earlier, I have connected with a fellow here who was born in Nigeria and is now committed to helping African women get a hand up. My conversation with him was inspiring and I shared with him how I came to be interested in this humanitarian effort. He was not familiar with Lisa Shannon and as I explained to him what HER role has been, he said “Hey, let’s get her up here!” I thought FANTASTIC! And I proceeded to investigate what that would all entail.

So, I finally hooked up this morning with the agency that sets up Lisa’s speaking engagements. Phew! She does not come cheap!!! Now, in her defense, the cost likely;
A) Weeds out less than serious inquiries
B) Pays the salary of herself & other employees with her organization (Humanitarian efforts don’t pay the dividend that someone has the heart to give)

The fellow I chatted with said we’d also need to cover her travel expenses, but then he did add that she travels economy fare. I think I like this lady! She keeps it real.

The guy also said that this would be Lisa’s first Canadian speaking engagement and that Canada definitely is quieter on the African humanitarian front. That Canadians just don’t seem to have the interest in getting involved that our southern neighbours do. Hmmm. In defense of Canadians, it made me wonder how much many of them really KNOW about the issues. I am CERTAIN that if more knowledge was out there, the apathy he suggested exists would not be such a reality.

I figured, okay, enough is enough. Time to get off my BUTT and order that video and spread the word. I had ideas of contacting churches, colleges, anyone that would allow me to screen the video and do a short presentation. The word WOULD get out.

So, I went to the website to order my copy of the video this morning and wouldn’t you know. The video itself is $29.95, but shipping to Canada is $40. AND if I have any intention of showing it in a venue larger than a home, I need to purchase the $295 version. Sigh.

That felt defeating. Back to the drawing board. *Think * think* think*

In comes my hair.

I am what you would call low maintenance. Really, I just can’t be bothered, and really, who can afford to dress all nifty all the time anyways? But I did do a little splurge in early Feb. I got my hair all chopped off (I think the lady took off about 14 inches!) and I got some schmancy highlights. I gulped at the cost, but my hubby and I had discussed it. We had also discussed maintenance costs. Naturally, I’m going a bit grey – the tradeoff for having such dark hair – grey shows up earlier than on my blondie, older sister!!

But now I’m thinking, if I didn’t have my hair, there’s nothing to maintain!! Extreme? Perhaps, but the cost of maintaining my highlights for a few months covers the cost of the pricey video package.

I balk though b/c as I’ve said; this blog can go a little bit under the radar. I don’t tell everyone I’m doing it (although my fb friends will see the occasional link whenever I put up a new post). A baldy head is a little more difficult to hide. Will likely start a few conversations (likely me reassuring people I do not have cancer). But maybe new conversations would be a good thing?

I’m never sure how people will react when I say I’m interested in supporting the African Humanitarian efforts. Lots of people get a very blank look on their face and opt to change the subject. So, do I risk making such a bold statement? I’m still thinking on it. Innately, I am a bit of a chicken. I kid you not. Class 1 wimp here!!!

So, if you’ve been reading, I DO want your comments to this post. Am I being a little ridiculous?? What would you do?


After receiving some feedback in my inbox, I'm editing this post to add that I think I communicated somewhat poorly (to a point) in my post. The shaving head thing is more about making a conscientious decision to prioritize what I feel is important. $300 extra did not find it's way into our account this week, and things are tight, yet somehow I can justify getting my hair done. My brain is working to hash this out.

I don't want to do it to start conversations, more to symbolically (for me) take it out of the equation. But I do know walking around with a bald (then extremely short hair) head for a time would garner some attention I'm not sure I am ready for.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Report – Half The Sky

By Nicholas D. Kristof and Cheryl Wudunn

I spent most of this weekend at the hospital. Not because I was sick, but b/c I was volunteering for research. Sound ick? It was a bit actually. I spent 3 days giving blood, doing breathing tests (I’m asthmatic, that was what the study was about) and doing a bunch of other tests. The middle day had loads of wait time. I had to inhale something that would trigger an attack, then wait various intervals of time for them to gauge my lung capacity and breath force. Towards the end of the day, I was giving one big lungful of breath through a tube, then having to wait an hour to do it over again. So! I read a whole book!

If I am recalling it accurately, I do believe I first learned of this book off the “A Thousand Sister’s” fb page. It was touted as a must read, so I reserved it at the library and had it in my hands a week later. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. (I’m the type who will rent movies or get books based on recommendations – I tend not to watch previews. Thus, I am often very surprised by content – both good and sometimes not so great)

The sub title on the front cover is “Turning oppression into opportunity for Women worldwide”. It covers many extremely difficult topics. Some I was vaguely familiar with, others I had heard about, but didn’t really know what was involved and then others that I was actually surprised about – b/c I had no clue the issue existed.

Consider the cost of allowing half a country’s human resources to go untapped. An African proverb states – “If you teach a boy, you educate an individual; if you teach a girl, you educate a community” The issues discussed in this book have for too long been just referred to as “Women’s Issues”. However, they do not only affect women. There are entire cultures that are involved in the imbalanced view that women are somehow less valuable than men. Weren’t we all created equal? A Chinese proverb states that women hold up half the sky.

This book covers issues such as child trafficking for the sex industry, rape, honour killings, Female genital cutting, beatings, child marriage, maternal mortality and others. Tying in with psychologist findings stating that people will have a greater capacity to care when they are introduced to individuals, the authors pull in story after story accompanied by photos of the girls & women we are told about. The stories are disturbing and this is not a light hearted read by any extent. The conditions described are beyond sad. However, there is light.

This book is also full of HOPE! While so many of the stories of these individuals do not suggest anything good may exist in the midst, it really does. For each of these oppressive journeys, we are also meeting so people who have come along side them. Many of these people are exactly like you and me. They read something, or saw something that moved them to action. Many of these things started small, but gradually grew. Mahatma Gandi was quoted “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

There are men & women who have dedicated themselves to freeing women in this world. Change is slow – especially when entire cultures are involved, but baby steps are worth celebrating. And, for the women who have been helped, their lives are forever changed for the better.

Women are being empowered to stand up for themselves, learn their rights and a skill. Countries that have embraced this are thriving.

This book explains approaches that have been effective, and reflects upon those that have not been so much. Simple things such as iodizing salt and providing de-worming for school children results in increasing IQs by 10 points! Providing school uniforms seems to result in girls staying in school at least a year longer. All of these things have a positive ripple effect in a community.

I really wish I could paraphrase the whole book. Sadly, I can’t do that. I do strongly urge you to look for it though. I snagged this copy from the library, but I do intend to purchase my own copy. There were bits I wanted to underline & write margin notes on. Libraries frown on that.

The book concludes with so much information on how to get involved. There are websites for each of the groups mentioned. I am in the process of exploring these groups. Again, as I said in a previous post, I know I cannot give to them all. I must pick, but educating myself can go a long way too.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

TIA - This is Africa

There is a saying in Africa – you say “TIA” - it means “This is Africa”. It is a phrase intended to supposedly help you adjust your expectations. Basically nothing works, and anything goes. Government is corrupt and if you’ve got monetary resources, you can swing the powers that be your way. It is a vicious cycle, so how does one help? Do you work to help fight against the conflict? Or do you join to help pick up the pieces of the aftermath – all the devastation that corruption has left in its wake?

I just got off the phone with a gentleman who is Nigerian born, yet came to Canada 37 years ago – at age 19. We were connected when I contacted his organization here in Edmonton. It was a conversation that left me WOWed! There is SO MUCH I just do not know.

Africa We Care is a group that is striving to empower women by creating opportunity. I was asked to consider the lack of gainful economic activity in Africa. Truly, I think most things in my house were made in China or perhaps India. Come to think of it, apart from ethnic soap stone carvings or other Ten Thousand Villages type wares, have I ever seen things in the stores with a little sticker claiming “Made in Africa”? Hmmm, I don’t think I ever have.

I have previously mentioned the irony regarding the richness of Africa, yet the economics don’t reflect this richness. Consider the following;

Africa has some of the world’s greatest natural resources, but no industry to process these resources. They are sent out of the country to be processed elsewhere. You’d think that doesn’t sound so bad, right? It really wouldn’t be, except that Africans receive no benefit to this export effort.

The government that should be in place to protect the people does quite the opposite. The highest offer will allow a particular big company to come in and take resources from the land. What it also takes is opportunity for local individuals to benefit in any way as these companies will bring their own workers. Individuals from China, India and other countries will come into Africa and work positions that should be available to local people. So, the government benefits, the big company benefits, the cheap foreign labour benefits, but the African people do not.

Consider chocolate! Yummy! West & Central Africa account for 70% of the world’s cocoa supply! While existing groups are working hard to ensure chocolate is not farmed & processed by child & forced adult laborers again, as with diamonds, it is very difficult to monitor & control. Governments may not always have their people’s interest at the forefront of their minds. Makes me wonder a bit more about the history of the chocolate I will so readily consume! I love European chocolate, but none of the cocoa was grown in Europe, although the packaging may say that is where it is from.

So, back to my conversation. The poverty continues and empowering people and giving them economic fortitude may just work its way to resolving part of the major root issue.

Talking to this gentleman, he suggested that part of the Congo’s struggles may be that it is a country that is just not governable. The rest of the world looks on and fishes from the troubled waters of the DRC. If the conflict were to be resolved, who would benefit? Not the African governments, not our own big wig industrial mega-factories, oh yeah, I guess it could benefit the locals…. Oh, but they’re so far away so why should we bother?

Stop the world, I want to get off

Cliché! We’ve all heard this phrase and been amused at the obvious fun intended as the world isn’t going to stop spinning any time soon. We’re all pretty much stuck here!

My kids have never left this country, let alone seen the world. (Okay, not entirely true, I think my biggest boy went with his dad south of the border for an afternoon to check out some mega-hunting store, but he was 2 so does that count?) Their concept of the size of our Earth is so limited and while we try to explain and show pictures & maps, it is just too abstract at this point.

I am part of a fantastic group of friends that met online. The very cool thing is, between us, we represent at least 7 countries over 4 continents. While I have only had the pleasure of meeting a few of these friends who live a bit closer to me, I count these people among my dearest friends. The internet has allowed this.

As I look at the stats of this baby blog I’ve been working on, I’m seeing reader representation from 10 different countries!! People as far as the Middle East & Vietnam have been checking it out. While I know nothing about these people, who they are or how they came across this bit of writing, I find it highly cool that they did. And the world seems just a bit smaller as I feel I am sharing my thoughts with people who are physically so very far away.

Years ago, it was okay to plead ignorance at various goings on in the world. When the holocaust was occurring in Europe during WWII, people in North America for the large part didn’t know what was happening. People right IN Europe – who even lived in villages not far from these camps often didn’t know what was happening. A media block was so much more effective when media tools were so limited.

Now, all I have to do is ask google anything, and I have a wealth of information suddenly available to me. (My children once asked me who is google – because my answer to anything they ask that I don’t know is generally “Well, let’s ask google”). My kids don’t know what it is like to not be able to learn the answer to virtually any question they might have.

The world has shrunk in recent years. I am part of the generation that has witnessed this. I recall getting my first email account and thinking the internet was dumb as doing a search would produce nothing useful – very few companies had websites then. NOW, I cannot imagine a world without internet! I may still have read Lisa Shannon’s book (I read it the old fashioned way – a BOOK), but my knowledge may well have ended there. The media shows so little of what is going on in Africa and, admittedly, I generally don’t watch the news. But google knew full on what was going on and a few very simple searches produced so much.

I have now watched videos, read reports, seen documentaries & statistics – everything is so accessible. I am reading about the work various organizations have been doing and that has led me to read MORE books and think even harder on the topic at hand.

So, HELLO across the world! I’m so glad you are reading! I hope we share some of the same thoughts & views regarding the issues of hurt our planetary neighbours are facing. The world feels so much smaller when there are people who think the same no matter what continent they are on.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Seat of Power

I must first take a moment of brutal honesty. As I was thinking through this post and ruminating that title around in my brain, my mind kept reverting to a Robin Williams – Genie voice. You know the part when he’s talking about “Infinite Cosmic Power – itty bitty living space”. Anyway, I thought I’d share – perhaps TMI?

In Lisa Shannon’s book, she refers to a couple of the big name actors who have been working hard with DRC issues. Ben Affleck & Charlize Theron. Both of whom are fantastically talented and I’ve enjoyed many movies featuring each of them. Ben has started a group called the Eastern Congo Initiative and Charlize has been working with V-day – City of Joy

Each of these individuals has used their position, influence and frankly financial resources to help draw attention to what is going on in the heart of Africa.

Most of us follow Hollywood stars – to some degree. While I can honestly say I don’t follow any tabloid media and didn’t even watch the Oscars, it is next to impossible for me to say I don’t know anything about what some of them are up to. I am not someone who gets star struck and would not be in line screaming if some major star was to drive by – I more so try to just consider them as any other person (with a career that puts them heavily into the public eye). Each of them is just a person – highs, lows and everything in between. Unfortunately, they garner millions of opinions on how they choose to live and be “just people”.

Some seem to struggle with fame. They are catapulted into the limelight and suddenly have money and attention. Unfortunately, the world watches as they abuse this power. (Maybe they just really didn’t know what to do with it). DUIs, drug charges, abuse. It is all blown massively huge when it involves people we all like to watch on the big screen.

Then, there are those that take their position and use it in such a positive way that you can’t help but admire them. As critical as we all can be about these stars, I LOVE reading the articles that place these big names getting down & dirty in a 3rd world orphanage or in a war torn part of the world. These people that desperately need help likely have never seen a Hollywood movie. I don’t think they would be impressed, let alone star struck to have Ben or Charlize give them a hug or a hand.

So, now to us – the little people (uh oh, again my mind wants to dramatize this) Say “the little people” in your mind as if giving an acceptance speech and doing a little queen wave. Thanks!

We may not exactly sit in the same seat of power as these Hollywood do gooders, but consider this; did you eat breakfast today? If not, could you have if you chose? Did you pour water from a tap & flush your toilet? It really doesn’t matter who we are, what our income is or how well known we are (really as fantastic as my opinionated self is, I will never have the same following as Charlize – just reality – I’m okay with that). But even just the fact that I can sit here & type thoughts without being frightened that someone with a machete may pop up behind me at any moment, puts ME in a seat of power.

I have the power to do what I can, or I have the power to forget all about it and do nothing. The people I may choose to help have no power. They are powerLESS to change anything for themselves.

I guess this is the moment in a post that I should have some mega amazing closing statement. Hmmm, sounds cheesy so I think I’ll just leave these thoughts with you and sign off. If you have anything to add, I’d really love to hear it.