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

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“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.

travel-money-banner

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

Play Your Part

service

I love helping people and for the next week I’ll be “off the grid” so to speak. One of the reasons I feel driven to head to Madagascar is because I feel that one of the best ways to explore the world is through being in service to the cultures you visit.

There are many other ways to volunteer though from social work, to research and conservation to education. I’ll be spending the next week volunteering my time and energy with a personal development camp. A wonderful opportunity for 400 adults to come together in the wildnerness and learn a little more about harnessing their power and use it to create the lives they want. Why is this important work for me? Well it helped me. Those that knew me 5-6 years ago know that I was an angry, depressed, unmotivated, smoking, drinking mess. Those that know me today know me to be quite a different person and one of the biggest shifts for me was through meeting the wonderful people and being inspired by some of the perspectives at one of these events. I owe much of who I am now to those volunteers 4 years ago that helped support me through my shifts. I’m now a new man that wishes to spend his time supporting others to reach a similar place of self love and empowerment if it’s something they choose.

    The quickest route to happiness is to help others. ~Mingyur Rinpoche~

Some people see volunteering as working without getting paid, others know that it means taking responsibility to show up and do the work that would otherwise not get done. It’s being an active participant of this planet to support it’s healing.

I will end this short post with a question. How do you volunteer? How do you contribute? Where do you show up and what do you do? Honestly, please share here. It’s an opportunity to celebrate yourself for showing up and playing your part.

Much love,

-Drew

Drew Mac’s Madagascar Mission to Support Reef Restoration

P.S. – Remember, Play Your Part

Food for thought.

Life on the water

Some of you may be familiar with the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.” This statement is accurate for Malagasy life in Southwestern Madagascar. In my previous post, Oh The PLaces You’ll Go!, I discussed what “Voluntouring” was, why it’s important and some of the “Voluntouring” I will be participating in with in a few months time, supporting the reefs off the coast and the Vezo people who depend on them for survival. I’d like to take an opportunity to introduce you to this Malagasy tribe and show you what makes them such a beautiful and inspiring culture.

    Who Are Vezo?

The term Vezo is defined as, “the people who fish.” It’s the term used to describe the semi-nomadic people of Southwestern Madagascar that have adapted to a life of depending on the sea for food. It’s also important to note that the term Vezo is not intended to identify an ethnicity, but rather a way of life. The ocean is important to their survival. Since they are less an ethnicity and more of a culture, it’s impossible to know their numbers and so their populations are estimated by the number of dugout canoes found along the shorelines.

Family and tradition are both important to Vezo culture. Typically they depend on the strong and healthy to take care of the old, sick and dying. Family is important because it’s how Vezo pass on knowledge of fishing areas, access to resources and equipment. Ancestry is also important to their livelihood, as it is ancestors whom are responsible for the success and failure of obtaining a good catch so it’s very important to give appropriate thanks through ceremony when a catch has been particularly favorable, especially when catching rare species like shark, dolphin or whale.

Vezo not only depend on the ocean for food, but as means for sale and trade. Typically the men will spend their time on the water in search of fish and the women will harvest the sand flats for invertebrates as well as sell or trade the catches the men have brought to them.

    Why do Vezo need support?

Over fishing is something that affects all of the world’s oceans. Regulation is hard to enforce around the world and although many first world countries have developed fishing regulations, Madagascar is still developing as a nation and doesn’t have many similar regulations and rarely enforces them.

Vezo have been the main navigators of the channel that separates mainland Africa from Madagascar, but currently more and more commercial boats are showing up to reap the benefits of these waters that are home to a diverse collection of marine life. As such, Vezo have had to adapt their fishing methods to better compete. Sometimes these methods can deteriorate the family and community culture as many Vezo will to isolate themselves & families to find fishing space not dominated by commercial fisheries or other locals. Sometimes these fishing practices are unsustainable.

Unsustainable fishing means fishing practices that will be unable to sustain themselves if they continue moving forward the same way they have been practiced. Currently unsustainable fishing practices, local and commercial, are having an affect to the marine life in Southwestern Madagascar. These negative affects are seen in the devastation of coral reef systems, the platform of which entire ecosystems are based. The negative effects are also seen in the dwindling numbers of species that have a hard time repopulating themselves. Species like Sea Turtles, Sharks, fish and even invertebrates.

Enjoy this video of an interview with a local Vezo talking about why marine conservation is important to him. Videos like this provide great perspective, which is important because with perspective we provide a basis of fair and balanced judgement. Not judgement of others but judgement of our actions and how we can best serve these world cultures, the lifestyles that sustain them and the ecosystems that sustain us and them.

    How can I support Vezo and the ecosystems they depend on?

ReefDoctor is a non-profit organization in Madagascar that is working to educate Vezo on sustainable fishing methods and how to respect the populations of these species so they can continue to provide food for their communities. Through conducting water quality and fish population research as well as cutting edge artificial reef restoration techniques and their education efforts, Reef Doctor is a major contributor to the marine conservation of the area while still preserving the culture of the people who live there.

You can support ReefDoctor through the support of those that wish to volunteer their time and energy on these initiatives. One of the reasons I will be heading there is that I know my volunteer fee will support the operation costs of their organization and the work I will do with them will compliment these costs. Please take the time to head to my fundraising page below and check out what I am fundraising for and some of the rewards granted to those supporters. Or you can simply share this blog or my fundraising page in your circle of influence if this is work that you feel passionate about supporting.

Drew Mac’s Madagascar Mission To Support Reef Restoration

Another way you can support Vezo and their food sources from another corner of the world, is through sustainable seafood choices. For example, the Vancouver Aquarium is another non-profit organization that started a program in Canada and the surrounding United States called Oceanwise Through labeling menu and marketplace seafood items with it’s logo, diner’s know that what they are choosing to eat is seafood that was caught sustainably. It also provides a cohesive list of seafood choices on it’s website and Apple App that lets browsers know what seafood species are sustainable or not, empowering people with the knowledge to support marine conservation and still enjoy the food they love.

Life on this planet starts and ends with the world’s oceans and the better we take care of those oceans the better we can preserve the life that lives in them and the life that depends on it for survival, which includes us.

-Drew