Friday, 27 April 2012

Have You Ever Been of Service?

Accompanied by "Lean on Me" by Bill Withers. 

"Everybody can be great...because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."

~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Hi Everyone!!!

Hope you all are doing fabulous!!!!!! 2012 has certainly brought about some grand experiences as of late and I'm super excited to see what each day has to offer. I feel like there is so much promise, positive change and awareness occurring in people I've come into contact with which is pretty exciting. As life has continued on for me, I've started to realize more and more that what is missing in my life is the act of service. This is not to say I haven't helped people along my journey or have not been of service at all, I just feel I haven't done enough!! These past years I've been so concerned with improving my own well-being (which is of course important as well) that I have left limited time to extend a hand to others in need. I've truly become sick of myself! It's a win-win situation when you serve others. You are creating joy in the lives of other people while in turn also creating joy for yourself because you are helping others. Service enables you to experience connection with people on an individual or group basis, and has you step outside of yourself for once to think of someone else's well-being. As much as we think we are not affected by others, we are. It's a world of interconnection which is why it's important to live with joy, compassion and love in your heart so that that energy can spread from one person to the next. Service really is the key to happiness in my opinion. Happiness can be that simple people! Who knew?! Do you remember the feelings you got when you did something nice for someone "just because", with no expectations of anything in return? It's a great feeling right?? YES IT IS!!! I know I walk a little higher and with a spring in my step. These days we fill our lives up with material things, trips, alcohol, drugs, and sex to create the feelings of elation and joy that are naturally brought on by being of service. Volunteering, or random acts of kindness is a MUCH better feeling then buying that TV or the hangover you experience the day after a "great" night. It's also a lot better for your body and your bank account!! Service can be as simple as helping someone across the street or carrying their groceries into their car. It is also a commitment to someone else or an organization - making them a priority in your life. This is the part I need to work on. My life is all over the place so I have trouble committing to one thing for a long period of time. However that needs to change and will change gosh darnit!  I always enjoy seeing the smile on someone's face when you help them unexpectedly, or surprise them with a small gift. There are times though that you won't get any reaction at all and that is OK. The key to giving and service is to expect nothing in return. Many of us do things with good intentions in mind (myself included), but feel disappointed when recognition is not given or if that person doesn't return the favour down the road. Expectations of giving back is conditional giving which isn't truly giving of yourself. It's like love. Unconditional love is loving someone regardless of their flaws, with no expectations. If you are giving to get something in return (recognition from the public, praise, approval from someone), your heart will not be filled quite the same way. That giving is coming from a place of ego and is not centered in your heart. Just giving for the sake of giving is enough. Knowing you are making a difference in someone's life or the world by spreading love and kindness is enough. With this said, giving repeatedly to people that just take and take from you or drain your energy is not advised. There is a level of discernment and healthy boundaries that need to be put in place so that you aren't being taken advantage of constantly. This is something I need to learn!

There are many volunteer opportunities out there that allow for a more consistent involvement in one's own community or globally. I've volunteered in spurts with Easter Seal's, and Salvation Army, and spent a year volunteering as a coach for the Special Olympics at one of the community centre's in Toronto. Each volunteer opportunity was a blast. I love connecting with others and I feel like I'm living some sort of purpose knowing that I'm helping make a difference in someone's life. How does the world turn if we are only looking out for ourselves? It gets to be a pretty lonely, unfulfilling existence.

I'm going to end this blog with a few inspirational quotes. I love these :) Makes me remember why I'm in this world. I've been so focused on being somewhere else that I've lost sight of what truly makes me happy and that truly is the act of helping people.

Have a great weekend!!

Lovely Lianne xo

"We work on ourselves in order to help others but also we help others in order to work on ourselves."
~ Pema Chodron (reading one of her books right now - "The Places That Scare You"!)

"Service is the rent we pay for being. It is the very purpose of life, and not something you do in your spare time."
Marion Wright Edelman

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile."
~ Albert Einstein

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
~ Theodore Roosevelt

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Have You Ever Thought About Rules?

Accompanied by "Wake Up" by John Legend & The Roots (remake) and "Everyday People" by Sly & The Family Stone.

**Written a week ago...procrastination at its best**


So this morning I was chatting about the disqualification of the transgendered Miss Universe Canada pageant contestant with my mum. This contestant (Jenna Talackova) was disqualified for not being a "natural" born female which to me is ludicrous as she identifies her own self as being a woman and went through (at an early age I might add) the entire procedure to transform into the woman she has always identified being. She is also "legally" a female, with all personal documentation supporting that she is a female. It's discrimination at its best! When I asked my mum what she thought about the situation, she said "well there are rules." Ack!!! That word "rules". It makes me cringe and that statement made me rather angry. I instantly thought "rules can be changed!!! Especially ones that don't make sense!"  I read an article about this incident and it was mentioning the fact that "natural born females" in these pageants perform many other kinds of surgeries and procedures to alter their appearances - boob jobs, nose jobs, dying of hair.  Yes it's not changing an entire gender, but how is going under the knife to alter ones "natural" appearance, making that person any more of a natural born female than a transgendered person? Why is the rule so specific to "natural born females"? Why do transgendered pageants have to exist? Why can't there be one pageant and more acceptance? Clearly organizers thought she was female enough to have her go that far into the competition.

This whole situation got me thinking about the concept of rules. I understand there needs to be some boundaries and rules in our lives and in this world - rules to ensure there is safety, order, respect, and fairness. However, rules become outdated and some rules have been created based out of narrow-minded viewpoints of life or biased opinions and one's own value system! Society and the world is constantly evolving and is evolving even quicker it feels as of late. With this evolution and increased awareness within society, there are constant changes in viewpoints, ways of living, technology, consciousness, awareness, and acceptance. It would only be natural that with these changes rules also change - either dropped completely or revised to suit the times. If people don't challenge the existing rules that make NO sense any longer, change and evolution become stagnant until there is a revolt.  If rules weren't challenged, black people would still be sitting at the back of the bus or using "coloured" washrooms (although racism still does exist in many places). There would still be slaves. Smoking would still be in restaurants and bars and slowly killing children in cars!! Gay marriages would never have been legalized (a work in progress for sure, however some progress is better than no progress). I'm definitely not saying the examples above don't still happen in places around this world, however there have been major improvements in all these areas due to the challenge of rules and increased awareness of social injustice and inequality. This pageant situation was an opportunity to progress as an organization and become an example of acceptance (and make themselves look a little less superficial!). I suppose the organizers aren't quite ready for change and are more concerned about keeping up with their image and keeping the peace between other contestants that perhaps feel threatened by the transgendered contestant. Perhaps the contestant could have been upfront about their gender change, however if she is a legal female in all regards and has felt she was a female all her life, why does she have to justify her identity to anyone?

Anyways...this is only my own opinion and an oversimplified one at that. At least if anything, this pageant controversy has gotten people thinking, so that in itself is progression. Hopefully when things die down it is not forgotten.

UPDATE: Jenna is now allowed back in the competition, however she needs to meet the "gender recognition requirements of Canada, and the standards established by other international competitions." Ok. Clearly she did or, again, how did she get put through in the first place!!!!?! Ugh.

Lovely Lianne XOX