Category Archives: Making a Difference

Having Purpose – Can it Bring You Good Health?

In a conversation with Jonathan Fields on his Good Life Project podcast, Dr. Frank Lipman shared stories that showed how our health can be greatly improved when we find a sense of purpose.  Jonathan agreed, adding that many of the things we’re afflicted with simply fall away when we find that purpose.

So what does finding purpose look like? It can be working at a job that is meaningful to us. It can be participating in our community on a project of common interest or joining a non-profit to work for something that feels important. Volunteering for an organization whose values match our own can provide deep meaning. Setting personal goals and meeting them also works.

Writing gave my life purpose for a long time, and it still does in many ways. Being supportive of  my grown children also gives me purpose as does participating in my community through friendship and activities. But recently I felt that there was room for more and through a couple serendipitous meetings with old acquaintances I found my way back to a local Unitarian fellowship whose mission is to ’empower people to live with greater depth, meaning and purpose.’ Simply being among other people with these shared values makes me feel that a door is opening, inviting me to live with that greater depth.

It’s not easy to discover what our purpose is and it changes throughout our lives.  We can go for long periods of time feeling restless, but I believe if we consciously open our minds for opportunities to live more intentionally those opportunities to live with greater depth and purpose will appear.

And if you like podcasts, be sure to check out Good Life Project with Jonathan Fields.

It All Matters

Today would have been my mom’s 98th birthday.  Her last few years were spent in a care home and the care providers were truly angels on earth. Being a care provider for the  frail is not a ‘sexy’ job. It’s hard, sometimes dirty, often thankless work, and fortunately there are people who are willing to do it, caring for those in our communities that are the most vulnerable.

This passage from “We Are Called to Rise” by Laura McBride makes me think of those wonderful  care providers.

It all matters.

That someone turns out the lamp, picks up the windblown wrapper, says hello to the invalid, pays at the unattended lot, listens to the repeated tale, folds the abandoned laundry, plays the game fairly, tells the story honestly, acknowledges help, gives credit, says good night, resists temptation, wipes the counter, waits at the yellow, makes the bed, tips the maid, remembers the illness, congratulates the victor, accepts the consequences, takes a stand, steps up, offers a hand, goes first, goes last, chooses the small portion, teaches the child, tends to the dying, comforts the grieving, removes the splinter, wipes the tear, directs the lost, touches the lonely, is the whole thing.

What is most beautiful is least acknowledged. What is worth dying for is barely noticed.”

So I’m thinking of my mom today, and I’m thinking of those angels who cared for her at the end of her life. Through them I learned that ‘it all matters’ and it matters a lot. I’m trying to be that person who does those small, seemingly unimportant tasks, those little things that matter as much as anything else. I fail every day, I’m so far from perfect, but I will keep on trying.

  • Angel craft by artist Carole Burdett

Be Imperfectly Sustainable

I love this. It’s about awareness.

Could I use a reusable container to pack the leftovers instead of plastic wrap?

Can I find a similar product (for purchase) that’s not sold in single-use plastic?

Could I  eat a few more vegetarian/vegan meals this week?

Could I walk/cycle to my destination instead of drive?

Small conscious changes, yes, which become habit forming and make us strive to do even better.

 

 

 

 

 

Candle Season (or how to spread kindness)

As we light candles to add a soft glow to our homes during these long, dark nights of winter, let’s think of the flame as a way of spreading kindness.

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.” (Buddha)

“So spread your light through love and kindness to the people around you and let the ‘giving spirit’ you initiate spread like a virus, infinitely touching the lives of people you may never meet, across boundaries you may never cross, in ways you may never have thought possible. That is the power of our love and kindness, and it’s your ticket to making the world a happier place.” (author unknown)

I remember the day a total stranger pulled over to the side of a busy and narrow highway to help me change a flat tire. It was dangerous work with huge trucks barreling past, threatening to drag us along in their undertow. I asked for the stranger’s name, wanted to buy him lunch, something, but he simply asked me to do a good deed for someone else. I was  touched by his kindness. I do try to practise kindness in my life, but need to make a greater effort to practise random acts of kindness for strangers each and every day. It may not be a  something big, like changing a tire, some days it may only be a sincere compliment, but who knows where it may lead? Hopefully the gesture will ‘spread like a virus.’

Flushing Away Our Forests: The Issue With Tissue

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“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”

–Cree Indian Proverb

So many of our shopping choices are ones we make by habit. We continue to buy the same products simply because they’re the ones we’ve always bought, or because they’re on sale. We don’t stop to consider whether we could be making better choices.

Take something as simple and common as toilet paper. Did you know the average American (and probably Canadian) uses almost three rolls of toilet paper per week? According to the Vancouver Sun (February 26, 2019) the majority of toilet paper (and tissue and paper towel) comes from virgin fibre pulp from Canada’s old boreal forests. This is to meet the demand of us consumers who want the softest, most absorbent tissue we can get. (A number of really cute commercials spring to mind.) These manufacturers do not use recycled materials or alternative fibres and this comes at the expense of our forests

There are, in fact, less well known tissue manufacturers that use recycled materials or sustainable bamboo and sugarcane instead of pulp from trees

Bamboo tissue (with sugarcane fibres) are 100% free of all wood fibre. They are biodegradable. And they are soft.

Trees are essential to our existence. They  provide oxygen and clean air for us to breathe and help moderate our climate.  When trees are re-planted it can take several decades  to reach full maturity. Bamboo, on the other hand, grows quickly and produces 35% more oxygen than trees. 

Switching to a different paper product is just one small change we can all make to ensure the survival of our forests.

Look ma, no tailpipe!

It’s 2019 and I’ve turned over a ‘blue Leaf’.  Nissan Leaf that is. I’ve made the leap to electric. Zero emissions. The electricians are in the garage right now, installing the correct hardware (220 volts.)  The car salesperson assured me that the “range anxiety” new electric car owners experience would dissipate in just 24 hours. It will take some time to get used to plugging it in each day, but I won’t be watching  gas prices anymore. What will take the most getting used to is the larger sized body. My little red Smart car (Ladybug) was so easy to parallel park and maneuver in tight spaces. Suddenly I feel like I’m driving a mini van again. But it drives so smoothly, so quietly. So far I’m loving everything about it, especially the no emissions part.

I think I’ll name it ‘Dragonfly’ as they symbolizes change, transformation, and adaptability.

Fitting, no?

Little Free Library

“Take a book, share a book.”

I remember the day I stumbled across this Little Free Library. It was the first one I’d ever seen. It stands in a yard a few neighbourhoods away from my own, but one that I can easily walk to. I thought it was absolutely charming although, perhaps, poorly named. (Aren’t all libraries free?) Anyway, I immediately began ‘taking and sharing’. Often I leave copies of my own titles.

I learned this week that Todd Bol – founder of Little Free Library – has passed away. He started the trend in 2009 with the first Little Free Library in his own front yard. Before his death  last week there were 75,000 Little Free Libraries worldwide. I expect this number is modest as people are creating their own designs, with wonderful results.

Before his death, Bol said, “If I may be so bold, I’m the most successful person I know because I stimulate 54 million books to be read and neighbours to talk to each other. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the very definition of success.”

I absolutely agree!