We Are Active Participants

“When it comes down to it, it’s pretty simple. Adventure is what you make it. And whether it’s the travel, the discovery, or just the feeling of letting go, the only way we will ever find out is to get out there and do it. Enjoy the ride.” – Travis Rice

7 days from now, I’ll be boarding an airplane and heading to Madagascar, and I’m reminded of how quickly time does indeed fly. This trip is something that as been on my heart for 3 years, always rolling in the back of my head. It seems like just yesterday when I shared with the world my decision to head to the opposite side of the world to do volunteer work there that means a lot to me, and my need for support in order to get there.

These last few months have been some of the most humbling, heart opening, and also celebratory months of my life. Witnessing just how much we are all part of a global community, and we want to see nothing but the best for one another and that the experiences we all have are affecting those that bear witness to them. It’s the reason we become so upset by death, destruction, famine or injustice but it’s also the reason we smile with playful children, cheer for an athlete and watch uplifting videos and photos shared through social media. We see a little bit of our own personalities, relationships and experiences in the faces and lives of other people (and animals/environment) and it’s what makes us all interconnected.

When I started fundraising for my trip to Madagascar, I had to move through many feelings of guilt. Why would people want to donate money so I can head to the other side of the world? The answer, I thought, was that I simply need to provide them with value so it becomes worth what they donate, so I came up with as many “rewards” for donating as possible. I felt this was the best way to create value that was budgetable for me in exchange for money. These rewards are fun and many people were excited about them, but i learned something else through this process…..

I was able to learn exactly what was valuable to people. By speaking what was on my heart about this trip, the work I wanted to do and why this was so important to me…..people wanted to show support regardless. I found 2 important lessons for myself through this experience. One, that we are supported. Each one of us has support systems in our lives (whether we are aware of it or not) that see the best in us and want to help support us to see the best in ourselves. The second is that everything we do and say has an affect, and it’s up to us to choose the type of affect we wish to have on the world.

The Most Astounding Fact.....

The Most Astounding Fact…..

We are all members of a global community and what we put in is what we get out. This is karma. Many treat the idea of karma as a points system rather than the enlightenment that an individual knows what they contribute has an effect, and that effect can come full circle. This is one of the reasons that the work that I do with my Mom’s workshops, because it teaches us that we all have a role to play in this world and no matter how big or small that role is, it is important to the successes of the globe as a whole and it doesn’t matter if it’s scrubbing toilets, making airplanes, painting or passing bills.

Through this knowledge, I feel as if I have found new value in the experiences I’ll be having and it makes me all the more excited to share those experiences with all of you through photography and through this blog.

The next time you’ll hear from me I may be in a different country, experiencing new sights, sounds and people but it will still feel like home…I’ve simply entered a new room…..I’ll be back for dinner. 😛

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Until one is committed, there is hesitancy….

“But when I said that nothing had been done I erred in one important matter. We had definitely committed ourselves and were halfway out of our ruts. We had put down our passage money–booked a sailing to Bombay. This may sound too simple, but is great in consequence. Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, the providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”

W. H. Murray – The Scottish Himalaya Expedition, 1951

I lived a life without commitment for many years. I loved this life, because without commitment I had complete freedom, right? Nothing to bind me down. I was in control of everything that headed my way. I was also depressed. Why would freedom leave me depressed? That’s because I was ALIVE but had nothing to LIVE FOR.

Commitments allow us the opportunity to focus our energies and effectively create. They also allow us the opportunity to expand our comfort zones, forcing the trust that “I may not know exactly how this is going to play out but by committing to this goal I trust that the right opportunities will show up and I will take the initiative to seize those opportunities”

In Fact, the title of a book by Grace Cirocco comes to mind “Take The Step, The Bridge Will Be There.”

This blog is a commitment that I made. To effectively share the thoughts, insights and knowledge important to my life, with all of you. I made the commitment to myself that this would be something that I would update on at the very least, a weekly basis but my last update was over 2 weeks ago. Dos this means I’ve failed? No, I simply acknowledge it and step forward. Sometimes it’s about getting back on track with commitments, sometimes it’s about readjusting commitments so they better resonate and sometimes it’s about decommitting entirely because the commitment no longer holds relevance or has been completely lost sight of.

Ironically enough, the last post I did make on here that I mentioned above, was a post about fear.

Fear is probably one of the biggest things to prevent people from commitment. Fear for personal security, fear of lack of money, fear of a lack of control, the fear of failure and finally, the fear of the unknown. Fear is a great paralyzer, preventing people from doing things before they can get their feet on the ground. Think of a time when fear prevented you from pursuing something you were passionate about. It’s an experience many of us can relate to.

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Take the time to see where commitment has shown up in your life, and what a game changer it was.

It’s also one of the biggest pieces of advice I give to people who come to me about relationship issues. Mutual commitment. Sometimes it looks like marriage, sometimes it looks like babies, sometimes it’s a pet, a shared living situation or sometimes it can be as simple as a vacation or the time you plan with one another. By creating a shared mutual commitment, it gives people in a relationship something they can work on together and bond over. It’s those shared experiences of building a life with one another that really create the relationship.

Same goes for individual experiences. Feeling uninspired and depressed? Think of one, just one thing that you have always wanted to do. Doesn’t have to be big, doesn’t have to change the world. It simply needs to be important to you and just big enough to put you out of your comfort zone for the purposes of expanding that comfort zone a bit more.

The reason I speak so heavily of commitment today, is because of a commitment I made a few months ago to head to Madagascar and volunteer with an amazing organization called Reef Doctor. Many of you know about this already, for those that don’t, check out my fundraising page, which talks about it a lot more in depth. This is an opportunity that I have been thinking about doing for almost 2 years, but always talked myself out of for a variety of reasons from financial ones, to personal health & security, to simply not thinking that I was worth this kind of experience. This was all stuff I had to work on with myself and take baby steps to work up to where I am now.

And where am I now? Well, this trip turn a major step last night when I made the big commitment of booking my flights. The reason this is a major step is for a few reasons. I haven’t reached my fundraising goal yet, which means I’m still short what I will need to afford other things for the trip, including the fee I have to pay to volunteer with reef doctor, vaccinations, visas and dive equipment. By making this commitment yesterday means there is no turning back now, it’s full steam ahead for the next month. A few years ago I may have been paralyzed with anxiety and fear stepping into this and although I am still a little uncomfortable now with how they next month may or may not look, I’m mostly excited about that discomfort and all the learning opportunities this whole experience will give me.

In fact, despite all I’ve talked about here, I think the great Jimmy Cliff said it best.

Much love,

-Drew

“Be Careful.”

It’s a familiar warning, heeded by those wanting to ensure that loved ones don’t place themselves in a situation that could potentially be hazardous, harmful, unsafe, uncomfortable, or DANGEROUS. This warning is one that travelers hear most frequently.

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The biggest draw of travelling is that thrill of not knowing what experiences await you, but understanding that those experiences will be the ones you remember.

We often hear many warning calls about the big scary world out there. As someone who will be traveling in 2 months time, I’ve definitely had my share of concerns and suprisingly, it’s those very concerns that are making this pre-journey experience so exciting.

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For some, the financial fear is enough to cripple them from global exploration. This was particularly true for myself. Due to poor financial choices I made many years ago, my credit is pretty much non-existent. That paired with my “less than lucrative” employment history always gave me excuses to never spread my wings. I’m certain many people can relate to this, with the economy being what it was and the cost of flights it all can seem very overwhelming.

I always blamed money as the reason I wasn’t able to travel, then I had a realization. It wasn’t money I was making that was preventing me from travel, it was the money I was making that was keeping me where I was. I was working full time hours so I could continue to afford working full time hours. That being said I am aware that I need to have money to afford to live (and travel!!), but I am finally open to alternate streams of income that don’t involve me dedicating myself 40+ hours a week to somebody else. I’m not sure what those look like

It’s also one of the reasons I’m fundraising for my trip to Madagascar. I’m aware that While there I will be dedicating myself to working full time to support a cause very dear to my heart. As the first real fundraising I’ve ever done, this has been eye opening experience and I’ve remained as open and grateful as my heart will allow for the streams of support that have come my way.

McGruffs Travel Safety Tips

The other, and probably the bigger argument, is personal health, safety and security. The world is a big scary place with a lot of unknowns. Microorganisms set to ravage one’s body, Political and social unrest and general cultural differences are just some of the things that can make people uneasy in travel.

I like to think that the enlightened traveler is someone who can not only understand these elements, but effectively use them to enhance their experience, rather than diminish those experiences.

Imagine the thrill of joining a political or social demonstration in a country on the verge of change, the fulfillment of working with HIV infected families to enhance their quality of life, or simply the ability to have open and unbiased conversations and participate in rituals and traditions that others would normally miss out on.

One of the best examples of this that I’ve seen is on the tv show Departures. If you are unfamiliar with this program, do check it out. 3 Canadian friends embark on a journey of the globe and all of the experiences that come with it. They explore all the elements of land and culture that would normally go unnoticed at a resort or with a tour company, with amazing enthusiasm. Worth every moment of watching.

Long story short, despite all of the elements in play on a trip as large as the one I will be taking to Madagascar at the end of next month, I am thrilled to be able to experience them. The financial challenges (and triumphs!), cultural differences and social uncertainty are what will make this journey one worth remembering for the rest of my life. That being said, this is only MY experience.

“The words printed here are concepts. You must go through the experiences.” Saint Augustine

Your mountain is waiting……Bon Voyage!

– D

The Game of Gratitude

if-the-only-prayer-you-said-in-your-whole-life-was-thank-you-that-would-suffice-400x400

Today’s blog entry is going to be a bit different than the last couple, as I enjoy writing for 2 reasons. I love being able to take knowledge and share it with the world, but even more I love to be able to empower people through my own words and experiences.

Philosophical discussion especially is one that always brings me joy because with so many perspectives in the world, these conversations provide such a wonderful platform to receive so many “big picture” moments. There are a variety of lessons I’ve picked up through these conversations, but one of the biggest game changers for me was the understanding that gratefulness is the key to abundance. I have always thought that the only difference between being spoiled and being abundant is my gratefulness for what shows up. If we are not grateful for what we have how can we possibly attract more into our lives?

This week my heart has become especially open with gratitude for the people that have shown up in my life. As many of you know, I have been spending a lot of time working on fundraising for a voluntouring trip to Madagascar, (check out the fundraising link below,) and the people that have shown up to support has inspired me to write.

I dozed off last night while planning this post and how I would execute it, I had a dream. It was my birthday party (which I’ll actually be celebrating tomorrow) and the party in my dream turned into an episode of “This Is Your Life.” Now, I should preface this with the fact that I have a large family and still keep in touch with many friends from high school, previous jobs, volunteering, spiritual retreats & workshops and my circle of bar buddies (to name a few.) This dream was full of faces, old and new, that have peppered my life over the years with laugh, love and support. It reminded me of just how much joy these people have brought me. So this post is to say THANK YOU. THANK YOU for being a part of my life, THANK YOU for showing unbelievable support and THANK YOU for simply being you. I have acquired to many wonderful relationships over the years that have shaped me into the individual I am today.

Immediately after waking up from my 1 1/2 hour long cat nap, I received a message from a very good friend of mine.

In honour of your awesome and inspirational self I have decided to donate all the tips I earn the night of your birthday! Your birthday is supposed to be a lucky day for you AND as I find the universe often works in amazing ways when it comes to financial support and serving…who knows what will happen 🙂

This is an example of the kind words and support that have been showing up.

Why am I sharing all of this?

I can sometimes not say “Thank You” enough. It’s easy for me to become caught up in my day to day life and forget how important it is to stop and let people know how much I appreciate them. Since the people that are a part of my life are the reason I am who I am today, It’s important to me that they know how much I appreciate their presence in my life and that I also understand that I am fully grateful to have them in my life.

Tomorrow, when I celebrate my birthday, my celebrations will be dedicated to the people, past an present, that have shaped my life. Those I have laughed with, cried with and most importantly, those I have danced with.

Much love,

-Drew

Drew Mac’s Madagascar Mission to Support Reef Restoration.

You know, the deadly ones

In my last post I made reference to seven elements evident in our lives that define the world we live in. Those of you that know the bible or Kevin Spacey filmography are probably familiar with the things I’m talking about.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I’m no more a Christian than I am a Buddhist, but more than that, I’m someone who has a deep passion to understand who we are how the things we do affect the world around us. I find a lot of knowledge in ancient wisdom, and feel that it is that wisdom that has been disconnected from us as a whole for some time and is only now resurgent.

The seven deadly sins are such teachings, because they help to illustrate decisions we make that stem from negative emotions. My goal is to break them down and show how these seven things show up in day to day life in the smallest and largest of issues and maybe allow space to let in a different headspace.

Those of you that know the bible also know that the catholic church has 7 counteractive virtues to combat these urges, but I shy away from them due to the fact that the “sins” come from an emotional place and the virtues imply action to counter them. I’m a firm believer that emotion cannot be countered by action because then the emotions become internalized and return later on stronger than before.

This process of countering emotion with action is a big reason why we see such a huge disconnect between some people who are avid religious followers and their actions that might contradict the teachings they follow.

Example – The catholic church teaches that we should avoid lustful behavior, but instead of teaching it from the standpoint of respecting others and not dehumanizing them to the point of thinking of them as an object of sexual pleasure, the church simply teaches “no sex until marriage.” which is an umbrella rule that implies action (or lack of it) as a cure for emotions. Then we have teen moms and pedophile priests, and people seem surprised.

People seem outraged by the state of the planet, flabbergasted that injustices, poverty and ecological devastation are happening, yet many of those that are outraged don’t make the effort to change their own perceptions because they think that the problems of the world are separate from them.

I’ll let you in on two secrets:
1) Everything you DO and THINK matters.
2) You can’t keep doing an thinking the same things and get different results.

The posts (or maybe it’ll simply be one) that follow, are meant to break down some of that emotional detachment and allow one to take ownership of what they think. These “sins” are great representatives of that emotional detachment.

Until then much love,
-Drew

How connected am I?

It has been a while since my last post. I had been going through a patch in life that I can only refer to as “walking through mud.” Everything felt slow and arduous like I wasn’t getting anywhere at all. I really needed to reconnect myself, but to what exactly.

As someone who is comfortable speaking very candidly on the topic of Spirituality and Philosophy, I’m often asked what “God” means to me. For those not wishing to do much reading today, here’s my short definition.

“God is the interconnectedness of all things.”

Now, I’m not referring to God as the omnipotent being playing puppetmaster to the relationships between things, I’m simply referring to the way that we are connected with each other and every living and non living thing on the planet. At this point I’m going to suggest to people that keep reading that you may wish to drop your definition of God for a few minutes of you keep reading.

This leads me to my next statement.

Everything you do and how you do it, matters.

If we are all connected on this planet then obviously the decisions we make must have an impact somewhere else. Synchronicity is a beautiful thing but in order for things to be in synchronization, then we have to each play our roles assigned to us. How do we know what our role is? It is the thin that tugs at our heart strings nor matter how little or large.

How many of you have walked past a piece of garbage on the ground, only to look at it and say, “ugh what a planet full of disgusting pigs we live on,” as you shuffle past. Ever stopped to consider that maybe YOU noticed that piece of trash because YOU could have done something about it?
Lands hard when it hits right? It’s not pleasant to think of oneself as someone who would rather piss and moan than actively DO something to proactively fix the problem. Good news is once the realization sets in, it cannot be undone. You’ll forever be picking up trash off the sidewalks, haha.
This concept isn’t limited to small acts. Think larger, in terms of protests. Years ago, I used to attend peace marches, as I felt it was my duty as a citizen of the planet. As I said above, we each have a duty to better our planet, but I soon realized that a peace march wasn’t it. It all seemed so misguided. There was more anger expressed in that mass of people than love. Hate for politicians, hate for the military, hate for the religious right, hate. Imagine the ridiculousness in people rallying together to protest people littering. Signs marching up an down the street calling litterbugs “filthy pigs” and “banes to society and the environment.” Rather than simply working together happily to clean the planet. The only way to connect the disconnected is to be connected to them.
Imagine a peace rally where the word war was never brought up, where we aren’t shown pictures of war crimes but rather we celebrate peace with one another. My ideal peace rally would invoke loud music and people dancing and singing and enjoying one another’s company with hugs and high fives. Lead by example, even if it’s on an individual level.

Now how does one feel connected and impactful on an individual level? It’s all a matter of how we perceive ourselves. If God is the interconnectedness of all things, then that would make us God. If we’re God than why aren’t we treating ourselves as such, let alone how we treat each others. It like when you’re on a plane, what’s the first rule when the oxygen masks drop down? Put yours on first. Same goes with life. How can someone be expected to care for the earth and life on it if people aren’t caring for themselves. How we treat ourselves is usually a mirror for how we are going to treat others.

By treating yourself, I’m referring to how you talk about yourself, how you relax, things that EXCITE you. If you understand how it feels to be God then you will understand how to treat the rest of the world the same way. Sometimes this looks like shopping with some friends, a nice brunch, a vacation on a beach or my personal favorite, going for a drive for a few hours with the windows down and the music up.

One of the best quotes I heard, is from Carolyn Myss and she said:

You have to do one action on behalf of the whole, and one for the self…….You are an active participant.

Consider this the next time you treat yourself to that shopping spree, that swanky dinner, that new tv. What could you then do to pay your joy forward?

I was at a workshop once, listening to Wayne Dyer deliver a talk on a few fascinating topics, but there was something he talked about that resonated deeply with me. That was that the most profound two words in the English language are “I AM”

This, of course is because of all the things listed above. Imagine my joy to recently come across a movie titled “I AM.” A documentary written by the same gentleman who also directed movies like Ace Ventura, Liar liar and Evan Almighty. He went on a journey talking to people well known in the environmental, social, scientific and spiritual communities to ask the question, “What’s wrong with the world an how can we fix it?” and he ends up discovering everything that is right with the world instead, and the important role we all play. The movie can also be streamed right off of YouTube in 3 parts and I will link it at he end of this post, however I do encourage people to head to the movie website and support its vision. I AM Documentary

Kinda feels like I’ve put a lot on your plate? Well we aren’t expected to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders either. It’s impossible to solve any problem from a place of guilt or anger or any other negative emotion.

In the upcoming posts I’ll be talking about seven different roots to most of our problems at an individual level, how they look in our lives and how to make them points of growth. It’s important to understand why we do things and how to grow from them, it gives us a basis for learning and understanding not only of ourselves but the actions of others too.

Until then, live well, take care of yourselves and take care o each other. Oh, and check out the movie I mentioned.

Much love,
Drew