Friday, April 29, 2011

Invisible Chains - Part 1

All that it takes for evil to prevail is for good people to do nothing
- Edmund Burke

I popped by the library today because one of my holds was ready for pick up. The entire first season of GLEE. I need to see what the big deal is!!

In the hold section, was another book I had requested. "Invisible Chains"

This was a book that had come up with a book club I'm trying to participate in. (I say trying because I've not successfully attended a meeting yet and this book was from last month, yet my library hold only surfaced today). I'm working on it.

I hope to read & comment here, much as I did with "Half the Sky".

Invisible Chains is a book about Canada's human trafficking issues. In Canada you ask? Um, sadly - yeah. It's kind of huge here. A country that prided itself as being a destination for freed & runaway slaves - a product of the underground railway of long ago, is now once again a destination. This time for traffickers.

My eyes are being opened and my heart saddened as this book describes places I'm familiar with; cities I've called home... Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax and numerous smaller cities and towns. The victims are foreign and Canadian citizens. This scares me.

The issue is so much closer to home than I could have ever imagined and until 2005, there was no Criminal Code offense of human trafficking. The book describes Canada's record in dealing with human trafficking as lethargic.

I hope to learn more.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Buzz Word

I have had a few interviews over the last few years. I joked to my husband that I am becoming a professional interviewee and while at times I know I am just a filler candidate (they already have someone else in mind prior to the interview, but must follow due process), I say I never mind the practice. It’s good experience.

One thing I’ve learned from this is that interviewers are looking for certain key words in your answers. Generally educators interviewing educators is going to make for a very lengthy interview – long winded meets long winded – the more concise I can make my point, using these words, the better.

The key words give an indication that I actually know what I’m talking about – or at least have done the right reading etc. These buzz words exists for most every topic and I use them myself to know where people’s interests and knowledge base lie.

I am in the process of needing a new cell phone (or cell phone plan anyway). We’ve been nearly 8 months in our new province and my out of province cell plan is finally expiring (there was no benefit to trying to cancel it). When I’m doing my shopping around, I am interested to know who may carry refurbished phones that do not involve supporting the continued retrieval of conflict minerals (yes, your sweet cell phone contains a triad of minerals that were undoubtedly retrieved through means that would make your heart sink). The key word here is conflict minerals – the 3 T’s – Tin, Tungsten and Tantalum. Did you know Tungsten is responsible for the vibrate feature on your phone??

These 3 minerals alone earn Congolese armed groups an estimated $95 million dollars per year through trade. Gold (for jewelry & other electronic components) adds $44-$88 million trade dollars all going to fuel a war that has killed millions, (estimates are as high as 45,000 people dying each month), seen thousands of women & girls violently raped, and children & grown adults kidnapped and forced to be a part of the armies or become slaves in the mining industry that provides these minerals to the massive companies that make cell phones & other electronic devices.

So, I am realistic and know we are not going to successfully ask everyone to give up their schmancy phones. In this society? Not going to happen. But it would be nice to be able to ask a phone distributor what they offer in terms of conflict free options and not get a blank stare. Most of them have no clue what the buzz word is here.

Sadly, I think change must come from our governments and that may not happen without pressure from the consumer. Environmental lobbyists worked hard to get attention. Now there are policies, bills and grave consequences for businesses that cannot meet environmental standards. New recycling options are becoming available all the time and making green choices is an acceptable (and desirable) practice.

We’ve made our government acknowledge that our planet is not sustainable unless we step up and create balanced limitations – hopefully it is not too little too late. Now, we need to speak up again.

If those who govern us would set up policy that these organizations must follow fair trade standards for all minerals acquired, the fuel for much of the DRC/Congo conflict would be nonexistent. I might pay more for my cell phone, but isn’t that worth it to know it didn’t involve someone else’s forced blood & tears?

A solicitor came by my house a few days ago trying to get me geared about the local politician he was representing. He asked if I had any questions for said candidate. I said, I’d like to know where he stands on social justice, foreign trade policy, fair trade agreements and human trafficking. BLANK STARE.

Next, I wanted to ask about the cell phone the candidate likely carried – however I didn’t, I felt my point was already made.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Kindred Sisters

This post will take a slightly different tone today as my heart is weighing heavy.

A dear friend’s little girl fell through some ice on Monday. CPR was done and after a time her heart started to beat again. She was rushed by air to the hospital where they are continuing to keep her body cool and monitor absolutely everything.

From the moment we got the call, my husband and I have been to the hospital many times and in constant prayer.

Joining us at the hospital were some other friends that we have known for so long and I realized I am part of something very special that I’m not sure if too many people can say they share.

There is a group of us. We grew up at the same camp, at the same youth events and many of us at the same church. There is a culture of community even though I can’t say honestly I have always been close to all of them; my friend whose daughter is tragically ill is likely my closest friend in the bunch. How wonderful to know each other’s children, when we know we played together at the same age as each of our oldests! (We roomed together at camp when we were 8).

This group of ladies is quite scattered now. We are in multiple provinces, many cities across those provinces, down into the USA and even as far as Barbados. Occasionally we all show back at the church we are connected to in Wpg and we marvel at each other’s kids, we hug and we catch up – often from where we left off the last time. Some of us have been in each other’s life 25 -30 years! You don’t just come by connections like that every day.

Even with the distance, there are many phone calls, emails, letters in the mail etc. I have kept cards of encouragement over the years from these ladies and in turn I have tried to bless them when I am able.

When a need arises (such as one of our own is facing now), I know this group is full of hearts that are breaking as mine is – they are rejoicing when there is news that is good and praying oh so hard! To have familiar faces in a hospital room; faces that have been familiar for such a long time, I hope is reassuring.

We cannot take the pain from our friend, we cannot take the fear, we cannot assure the unknown that we just do not know, but we can be there.

There are a few of us from that original group who live close. We have been able to help in the small ways, the practical ways. And we will continue to help – we just don’t know how long this journey will be or the extent of what it will entail.

This has made me think about this special group we are a part of. It is family really. We’ve had our differences over the years and our moments of hurt and celebration with each other and now with each other’s families. I am feeling so blessed to know each of these ladies and to know the love & support is there even from so far away.

Those of us who are close will do what we are able to do here, but knowing our sisters are praying and keeping our friend and her family tight in their hearts is such a comfort.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Be Kind

These 2 little words constitute so many foundational principles. I recall when our oldest was tiny; it was these words along with Be Careful that would be a precursor to nearly every outing.

I took this same boy (now so much bigger) to check out a new school recently. The administration looked at the eager faces of prospective students and said "We only have 1 rule in this school, it’s “Be Kind”". We heard this repeated a few times throughout the evening – to the point it got a little old and I realized essentially what they were saying was all the other rules still apply, we’ll just boil it down to how breaking any of those is somehow not being kind – therefore, don’t do it.

Having 3 small children, I try to interpret what an adult is saying to my child by way of considering what my child actually hears. At one point in the evening a staff person did not like my son and his friend play kicking at each other (as boys do – it was nothing extreme in any way). She said “Boys, don’t do that, one of you might get hurt, then it would no longer be kind. Our only rule here is to be kind – you can do anything else you want here as long as you are kind”.

My son of course heard “You can do anything you want as long as you are kind” So! He thought this was the school for him. He told me, he can run in the halls, he can be loud; he can do ANYTHING he wants because that is what he heard. I could totally envision him arguing that with teachers and any other staff who chose to challenge him. In the end, I don’t think this school is such a great fit.

We are all taught at an early age to “Be Kind”. It’s one of those golden preschool rules that should not lose its emphasis as we get older, yet somehow it does.

Easter is a significant season for those of many faiths. We believe that Christ showed the ultimate kindness (that word doesn’t do it justice nearly at all) through the crucifixion and resurrection.

I don’t know the history of the bunny or where it comes into play (I’m not going to research it here if that’s okay – too much of a digression, but if you know, leave a comment with a summary for me). Chocolate also is connected (again, I don’t know the significance, unless it is just a marketing thing in that chocolate works for any & every occasion).

So Easter is like playing a bit of duck, duck, goose – except lets call it Kind, Kind, UnKind.
Death & resurrection of Jesus – Ultimate Kind
Easter bunny & chocolate treats – Kind
Easter dresses, hats, flowers, traditional celebrations etc – Oh, most definitely kind!
Making those cute little chocolate bunnies & eggs – UNKIND

I’m sorry; there is nothing cute, cuddly, kind, fluffy, beautiful, kind, yummy, pleasant or kind about child labor. But that’s how we get our chocolate.

So, do we work to reflect kindness by our actions or our words? What if (like U-pick strawberry farms), we could go right to the source. Would you still buy that chocolate if you knew it came at a very high, very harmful cost to a child somewhere across the world? If your eyes saw and your ears heard, would that 1 pound bunny in your child’s eager hand Easter morning still hold the same appeal? Is it worth the money you paid for it?

Still don’t believe me? Google “chocolate child labor” and see what comes up.

This BBC article summarizes it well. The video version if you have a few minutes; part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5.

I will admit. I was in Wal-Mart a few weeks back and I purchased a small chocolate bunny & a few chocolate eggs for each of my kids. I really wish I hadn’t. I wish I had taken a few of my previous posts to heart and done my research first. I knew a bit, of course, but like I said in a post long ago, it’s like my fingers were still in my ears and I was humming a little bit too loud to really pay attention.

This is a complicated topic and one that will require lots of thought – and research. Fair trade IS increasing in accessibility, but there’s still a long way to go. We, the consumers, have the chance to really show kindness by letting the mass producers know we don’t like this. Supporting the fair trade businesses will show with our actions that we have a social responsibility to be kind. Even when we may never see who we are being kind to.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bottle Drive

I just got back from 5 hours of bottle driving with my kids. SMELLY! For international friends (or those from provinces that don’t do this), this is the ultimate fundraiser for groups. Recyclables that require a deposit are collected from the neighbourhood and cashed in, the money going towards the various recreational groups.

So, post bottle drive, until I managed to shower, all I could think was I SMELL! I’m showered now, but I STILL think I smell and I know my VAN most certainly smells. I need it to warm up so I can leave the windows open now to clear that.

It is not uncommon here in our city, to see people of all walks carting their deposit worthy recyclables to the depot for a few bucks in return. It honestly really does add up! Drive downtown and you’ll see homeless people loading up shopping carts, rooting through trash looking for that stray coke can or juice container that someone may have thrown away. For me, it’s a few extra bucks for something special with the family, for recreational groups it is something to lower the cost or increase the accessibility of a program, for someone who is homeless or otherwise in a lower income range, it may be the next meal.

Growing up in church, we would pray for the homeless, pray for those less fortunate and the needy. But truly, I always wondered what was up with that? It was kind of like reciting the Lord’s Prayer every morning in school (yeah, I know that totally doesn’t happen now, but it was the norm in public schools when I was little). You include it just because it is the thing to include. I don’t think in all that time I actually ever witnessed anything beyond prayer. NOT knocking the prayer, but why don’t people see themselves as the answer to those prayers when they are praying for those less fortunate?

In a town we once lived, there was a lady who lived up the street from us. A kind lady who doted on her little dog and was forever walking him around the block on his leash. If she happened to see me in my yard (or on the flip, if she was in her yard and I was walking by with the kids) she’d want to visit. I never had issue with this and enjoyed our visits – I think she may have had some sort of cognitive disability as her social interactions seemed a little askew. Being so friendly, she was always quite aware of anything going on in the neighbourhood and had earned the nickname “The Neighbourhood News.” She was older and lived with a brother & sister in the home they grew up in. There were other siblings apparently who had moved far away once they were old enough to do so.

I’m not quite sure how it came up, but another elderly, dear neighbour friend shared with me this woman’s story; her father was negligent (alcoholism was involved), her mother was unable to care for all the children. This other lady said it was the other neighbours that took it upon themselves and for years, blessed this family with groceries every week. This family was cared for and essentially survived only by the kindness & generosity of others. Poverty in a neighbourhood one would never suspect.

I have read a fantastically amazing book by Jeannette Walls called “The Glass Castle”. It is a look at poverty, homelessness and growing up in circumstances most of us wouldn’t have thought existed. As Jeanette put it in an interview I watched online “We grew up aspiring to become poor white trash”.

Homelessness is not a choice, circumstances may find someone in a situation well beyond their ability to comprehend, let alone change. Poverty is real. Our ability to help and make a real significant difference in someone else’s life is also real.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Never Again

This post has been a long time coming. It has been ruminating for awhile and I’m not sure I’ve got it all straight, but there’s only 1 way to really figure it out – write it down!

I was in Walmart recently and had a poor experience. The staff themselves were fantastic (I have an awesome favorite cashier guy that it would be total digression to go into detail about him now, but he makes my day!) It was all the customers! Wow! I walked into a store of very unhappy people. Grouchy faces, rudeness to others in line, people totally snarking at their kids in a way that made me wonder how they treat their kids when they are NOT in public. Stuff like that. I walked out wondering what manner of reason would cause a store full of people to be in such horribly foul moods.

I have referred to myself in the past here as a perpetual grump. NOT something I’m proud of. I’ve snarked more than a few times at unsuspecting store people. Meany that I am! I AM self aware though and this IS an area I do work hard at. I think sometimes I’m actually over friendly – likely freaks people out a bit. Oh well, a bit of friendly freak never hurt, right?

I recently watched a BBC documentary called “Worse than War”, featuring the book of the same title and its author - Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. It was an eye opening film exploring the phenomenon of genocide. Chilling. The author himself is of Jewish decent and his father’s personal story was shared of his own holocaust experience.

Things I didn’t know:

• Genocide has killed more than 100,000,000 people worldwide in the last 100 years and is actually considered one of the leading causes of death globally.
• There have been many genocides worldwide in the last 100 years (I think I only knew of Rwanda & the Holocaust).
• Genocide is defined as the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group.
• Genocide is a top down affair. People follow the cues of their leaders. People in power with a dislike, distrust or even hate of a group of people, have used their influence to encourage & foster prejudice

The film laid it out in such terms that would help one realize there is no simple solution. When there is crisis, the world turns to the United Nations for support. As well as the USA who are leaders in this sort of diplomacy. (As a Canadian, I need to put in a plug for us too – Canadians are right in there much of the time, but in terms of sheer numbers, the USA is a stronger force). However, the UN and other world leaders need to choose between morality & diplomacy.

Morality would state that if people are being harmed and we all know about it, there should be something in place that allows the world to jump in and put an immediate HALT to it.


Diplomacy is where we’re stuck. World leaders historically have not intervened until months and sometimes YEARS after the atrocities have begun. They must talk to the target country’s leaders, the neighbouring country’s leaders, etc etc. They must make every diplomatic effort to determine that what is happening is IN FACT genocide.

Convention on the
Prevention and Punishment
of the Crime of Genocide
Adopted by Resolution 260 (III) A of the United Nations General Assembly on 9 December 1948.

I don’t want to knock the UN – I don’t envy the leader’s their job AT ALL, but my heart breaks for those who are hated and discriminated against for something so inconsequential as skin color, ethnicity, tribal lines etc.

For the leaders who are establishing a need to eradicate another group of people, they weigh the cost vs. benefit. Obviously these political leaders feel there is benefit. They do not expect to be stopped or have outcry from the international community so there is no cost for them – no desire to stop

This film showed demonstrators picketing and protesting outside parliamentary buildings. Signs and voices together shouting “NEVER AGAIN”. The irony of that is that governments in hindsight will agree. The atrocities should never have happened and policy should be put in place so that it will never happen again.

Until the NEXT time. This is happening right now.

See a pattern?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Approaching Earth Day

Any big plans to save the planet this year? I maintain that it is the same posture to protect our planet as it is to protect her people. Doesn't it always seem to be that war, slavery & impoverishment seem to follow greed that is pulling natural resources out of the Earth with no regard to the long term impact? This often results in devastation being left behind. Both to the people and our planet.

Sustainability is pretty key. Sustain our planet by sustaining the environment and caring for its people.

Unknown to many (perhaps a bit of info that is in all other respects useless), I have a degree in Agro-Ecology. So, sustainability and protecting the planet from US is kind of a bit important to me.

I do my part, what I can, but it is a planetary epidemic. Caring for our planet; caring for her people. They DO go together.

April 22 - All Day! Is a day to celebrate our Earth! Where you might bring bottled water, bring a reusable bottle from home, a coffee on the go? Have you seen some of the fantastic travel mugs out there? That is thinking small of course, and also, keep in mind that the Earth needs our love and protection EVERY day!!

Did you know there are many groups dedicated to getting the word out? One of these such groups is called Environmental Booty I've been following this group for a short while now and appreciate their take on things. I like their dedication to getting the word out. Make sure you check out their totally fantastic Earth day related giveaway also! If environmental consciousness sounds painful, perhaps some of their great ideas will help you realize that every little bit helps.

Countdown is on, 10 days to go!! What will YOU do?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

Tomorrow is my birthday and I’ve been getting requests in my inbox to use my birthday to ask my friends for money for various causes. I’ll tell you right now, I don’t do that. I don’t hit people up for money; I don’t try to push people with what makes them uncomfortable, I’m not here to guilt. I’d like to say I’m here to educate.

If someone knows something they didn’t know before about worldwide conflict, poverty and strife, then I feel like I have been successful. If someone takes what they’ve learned and chooses to apply it in a way that benefits someone else? Even better! But I’m not ready to retire yet. I’m having too much fun!

I don’t say that it is fun learning about all of this. In fact, it is somewhat depressing most days. The shock & awe factor has worn off a bit. I mean, the shock I originally felt – and disbelief that people can be so evil towards each other. I’ve now read enough, seen enough, heard enough that while my heart is deeply saddened, that is the way of it. And so, it is up to the rest of us to fight even harder to bring a little more cheer! So, my mission of the moment is to continue to help people know what is going on and to celebrate those who have dedicated themselves to helping.

So, what is my birthday wish list?

A little bit of money to update the wardrobe – I don’t TRY to look like a dowdy mom most days! But that is my current default style. Although I tell myself that I possess the ability to make it look cool! (likely not, but whatever)

A netbook or otherwise portable device so that I can do various media related things other places rather than my office. When I’m watching a flick I’d like to comment on here, it’s annoying to keep pausing it to run to the computer to jot down thoughts – I guess a notepad & pen would work too…. And yes, I know electronics involve conflict minerals which I don’t want to purchase new into my home – a refurbished something would be great!

A yoga class. My current discounted yoga class is coming to an end. It has been the best thing for centering and giving me ME space! I do have some other discounted classes starting soon though… so I should be good for awhile.

Books! I would love to own my own copy of Half the Sky & A Thousand Sisters! But! I just got a belated Christmas gift of a Chapters gift card, so I’m going to be able to get one of those for sure!!

I’m having a party tomorrow evening. Just a few good friends and their kids (mostly for the benefit of MY kids who insist they need cake). We’ll go to supper at Humpty’s (kids eat free on Fridays!) (and it is the kids fave place), then back to our house for dessert. My middle man asked that if I get toys for my birthday, would I please share them with him.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Unknown Purpose

So, I’m noticing a distinct theme with my posts.

BE the change.

GET involved.

BELIEVE you can make a difference.

All of which is true, but man alive! I’m starting to sound like an infomercial for the Peace Corps! NOT what I’m going for.

When I did home party sales, I think I drove everyone just a little bit nutty. I really don’t want to do that to my family & friends. My sales person personality needs to give it a rest.

If you are reading this blog, I believe you are already someone who KNOWS everything I’m trying to say. You know how to make a difference and you CARE for people who don’t have it as great as many of us do – whether you know them personally or not.

So, what becomes interesting? What motivates anyone to help someone? Why do the people who care – do? On the flip side, how do the people who don’t – not?

So, what is the purpose? What is the point? I think I need a few days to mull.

However, in the next few days, if I have something to say, I will. Hashing out thoughts of my own is definitely part of the purpose.

A yoga class this morning caused me to be deeply reflective. I must continue to think long & hard on what is next to come.

Mush the Bag

How well do you follow instructions? Come on, be honest. If truth be told, I am a little bit bad at it!!! Mostly in the kitchen. Yet, I keep coming back for more. I love to bake, I’m just terrible at it and I think it is only a little bit funny that I can mess up even the simplest of recipes.

A nice lady whose son is in my middle man’s kindergarten class brought me a starter of Amish Bread the day before spring break started. She also gave me a loaf of already completed bread. Yummy! I wasn’t kidding about her being nice! I got home and the bread & starter sat – forgotten – on the counter for the next while. Later on, I walked by and thought shoot! Better do something with it. So, I tossed it in the fridge. The next day, I looked at it and read the instructions which clearly said DON’T refrigerate. Hmmm, didn’t take me long to mess that up! See? I’m a magnet!

Amish bread is a 10 day affair. For 8 of those 10 days, the instructions are; “Mush the Bag”. That’s it. So, I’ve been mushing. I’m not sure if I’ve already messed it up, but we’ll see. On day 5, I had to add a few things, and then the next day goes back to mushing etc. Pretty simple.

Apparently only the Amish know the starter recipe, so if I bung this up, I’m really hooped unless someone gives me more some day.

The magic ingredient here would be yeast. I can smell it and I can see its effects, so I know its there, even though I did not add it.

Funny thing - yeast. It continually grows as it feeds. If it has a steady food supply, it can just keep growing, even though the initial bit may have been soooo super tiny. I have no clue who may have originally started this mixture I was to mush daily, but that yeast has been on a journey. Little things that are properly nurtured will grow.

The movie Pay it Forward follows a kid who “Get’s it!” A little bit of the right stuff can go a long way.

Biblically speaking, Jesus left one of his disciples with a mandate “Feed my sheep”. So often in Christian circles, this is claimed to mean Christ followers are to go out and cover the spiritual needs of the world. Personally, I think that too many churches do just that. They focus on the spiritual, but forget about the physical. Really, couldn’t Jesus have actually SERIOUSLY meant to feed the sheep?

In terms of sheep, I think it is safe to assume Jesus is talking about people – the references to himself as the shepherd are frequent & clear.

I do find myself very frustrated that this little bit of instruction while seemingly so obvious, is often forgotten. Jesus realized he couldn’t teach spiritual things to those who were hungry. He managed to make a few loaves of bread & small fish spread to feed thousands!! Miraculous? Most definitely, but also worth noting is that he knew that physical needs must be met first in order for spiritual needs to be able to flourish.

A little bit goes a long way. The simple touch is often the best!

So, back to my instructions. I am off by one day on my bread mushing. I added the extra flour, sugar & milk a day late. I need to count where I’m at, but I think today I may need to actually do some final steps and then bake it.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Secret ingredient soup

I had one of those “Best Day Ever” sorts of days yesterday. It wasn’t anything too spectacular really; we just had lots of family time with no one needing to go anywhere like work, yoga or French classes. It was US, all day!!

We went to church together (many weeks, just a portion of our family is able to make it), stayed there for Soup Sunday. (A first Sunday of the month tradition. I think it may have always been soup at one point; this week however, it was tacos. Yummy!)

We went home and chilled for a bit (ie, someone fell asleep), then we all went swimming at the pool!!

This pool has a waterslide! Our kids had not been there before when it was functioning, so this was new for us. Middle man was quite excited and after a few test runs with Mom & Dad, he was up/down by himself continuously for the next couple hours. Little lady needed an escort and had no qualms about wanting it to be daddy each time. Whatever.

Big boy was 8 though and technically was not able to go down with a parent. He was terrified. He went up & down those steps so many times; getting so close, but not being able to follow through. We tried to tell him it was no big deal; he didn’t need to do this. But, he was determined. I have to say, it was one of the proudest moments for me to finally see him let go and go down. What a rush! After that, he was hooked! I am so happy that he worked through his fear to conquer something big!! He just had to believe he could and that it was worth it!

We came home and wanted to celebrate. Celebrate the last day of spring break, celebrate big boy’s success! (Really, it was just late and I wanted an excuse to order pizza). Pizza it was! AND we put on Kung Foo Panda!! Have you seen it??

An unlikely Panda named Po works for his dad in the noodle business. Through interesting (animated) circumstances, he gets selected as the Dragon Warrior. This legendary character that was foretold to be the only one who can defeat the very bad character (whose name I forgot). He seems very out of place, a real misfit amongst the “furious five” (the famed kung foo warriors). However at one point in the film, it suddenly becomes clear that he has his OWN set of skills that no one had even considered (a slightly predictable plot of course, I’m sure we’ve all seen one of these).

Finally Po is allowed to see the sacred dragon scroll. It is brought down from its high perch and Po opens it to discover it is blank! Shock!! This scroll was supposed to explain things, tell him how to defeat the bad guy and be completely incredible, right?

So, the town is being evacuated b/c the bad guy is coming and Po is helping his goose dad move the noodle cart. Finally his dad says he feels Po is old enough to be let in on an ancient family secret! The secret ingredient to Secret Ingredient Soup (this soup is mentioned at times throughout the movie). The secret ingredient is……. Nothing!!!!

Po suddenly clues in! It is the IDEA of believing that is what actually has the impact!!! He suddenly understands the secret of the Dragon Scroll!!! It is blank because he already HOLDS the power.

Anyway, a true feel good movie with enough varied styles of humour to keep us all entertained.

Do you ever feel like you just can’t do it? You look at something spectacular and you realize it is intended for someone else, not for you? For whatever reason.

A few years ago, my husband tried out to be an air force pilot. It was a long shot – we knew that. Many hundreds of people try out and very few actually get in. We always would word things in such a way so that our hopes weren’t raised and we didn’t expect much. I guess I could honestly say that I didn’t believe – the odds against him were just too great. A friend quickly put me in my place though when she turned to my husband and said “Well, why NOT you?” A very good question I realized!

After months of aptitude, medical & simulator testing, my husband DID get in and was offered a position in the air force! Unfortunately, this is the same time that he fell critically ill. Once they learned of his medical condition, the offer was withdrawn. Such is life! But, he can always say that he DID beat the odds and get in!

People who work hard doing the amazing things they do are just people. They were born, grew up through childhood with all its knocks & twists and went through their own journey to get where they are now. Activists, movie stars, doctors on extreme missions, you & me; we ALL started in the same place.

So, why NOT you? Why NOT me? The secret ingredient to change anything is all of us. Dorky analogy, I know, but do me a favour and think about it! Really!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Ultimate Blog Party!!

I live in a chilly part of Canada and am a stay at home mom to 3 busy kids. My career as a high school biology teacher is on hold - for just a little while.

After reading Lisa Shannon's book "A Thousand Sisters", I was inspired to search out how I could do more. As well as the sponsorship of my sister in the DRC, I have been writing down thoughts in my blog.

This blog has attracted much interest from both nearby and countries far away. It has triggered some pretty heavy discussion. I share thoughts about social justice issues and what I am learning through books and other social media.

People have contacted me to tell me that after reading what I have shared, they too have decided to sponsor a woman through Women for Women or look for other ways they also could be doing just a little bit more. Either far away, or focusing on one of the many needs nearby.

If I have managed to help a few more people become just a little more aware of the issues taking place in our world, I am happy.

Basketball, Books and a Future

I don't think I've posted this before, but I've shared the link prior to this. A very inspirational story worth sharing.

Basketball, Books and a Future: One Woman's Gift to Kenya's Slums

Hope out of Hell

I’m talking the tiny little plant on the big polluted Earth of Wall E or the flowers appearing all around the fairy in the final scene of Fern Gully. When things are supposedly at their bleakest, there is always a glimmer of hope to be found. Sometimes you just need to look for it. In the Lion King, Simba at first does not see it and he is told by Rafiki to “Look harder”. It was there!

When I first started looking into some of the social justice issues hitting our world – our brothers & sisters on this planet, I did not feel much hope. I felt overwhelmed & blown away by what people were capable of doing to one another.

I think it was the book “Half the Sky” that helped me realize how many people feel the same way I do. So many groups are in existence with the sole purpose of helping. How wonderful!

However, the book talks also about the groups that come in without really understanding what the situation is that they are entering into. They come with visions & ideas that are tainted by what they think might be the best way to help. Then, after they leave, nothing is in place to maintain or continue what they’ve started. Their heart was there, but they were set in the way they felt they should help – and that’s not always practical.

Not being one to reinvent the wheel, my husband carries a quote. It is “Find where God is at work in your context, and join up”. I’m possibly not quoting that with full accuracy, but the idea is there.

Now, for certain, not every group in these zones carries a religious connection and I’m not saying anything on that either way – that is just the quote.

There are so many ways to help and social media has helped take that to a whole new level!! Various humanitarian organizations are finding new ways to get the word out and they are being successful at drawing attention to where it needs to be – which supports my belief that people are inherently good – so many of them just didn’t know what was going on. Between the news, facebook, twitter, blogs and youtube, people can not only read about, they can join groups, follow progress and watch what’s going on just with a click!!!! With another click, they can donate in such a variety of ways too!

A fantastic blog I touched down on a few days ago is dedicated to the purpose of examining various humanitarian organizations and sharing what they do and how to help. It is a wealthy resource and I’ve been able to learn so much! Thank you Mango Muse!

I think every bit of assistance should be celebrated! Nothing is too small!!! One organization I connected briefly with came across hugely cynical. I was informed that too few people are willing to help and that so many people are just talk and nothing else. I think however, that this individual had a very specific idea of what help should look like.

We are all different. Our ideas of how to help may be as unique as we are and I’m not saying that everyone should take what I'm saying and rush to help overseas. There is need all around, just take a look. A new friend shared with me a few days ago that she feels a strong call to work with disabled adults in our city. It is something so near to her and who she is, but it may not have crossed my mind.

That’s the beauty of it!