Don’t Panic!

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Hello, Bonjour,

Something I’ve been saying a lot the last few hours as I try to get adjusted to the cultural and language difference here in Madagascar. I use the word “try” because it has definitely felt like work for me.

Air travel by myself was the easy pert, very little language barrier anywhere, excellent hospitality and even better, a ton of room on the flights. Upon my arrival in Antananarivo, however, I had an astonishing realization. This was the first time in my life where I have really felt alone. I have no one travelling with me (yet) and I have a bit of a language barrier, not to mention how overwhelmingly different life is here.

I’ve watched documentaries and television programs about parts of the world similar to this, but have only ever traveled in “first world” nations. Once the initial uneasiness wears off I’m excited to explore some of the many tastes and sights of this country but for now I can’t help but miss home a little bit.

After spending the last few months with intense support and love shown to me by so many amazing people in my efforts to make this journey to Madagascar possible, I’m now on the opposite corner of the world feeling very opposite emotions. I’ve been in this country less than 12 hours and I already miss my family, miss Eric, miss my friends and wish my goodbye hugs were longer

The good news is, this will pass, not the missing of people, but the feeling of loneliness. It’s been a big realization for me how much I depend on my relationships with people, but maybe took that dependence for granted more than I thought. I may be in Madagascar away from everything I know but I am so very excited about the opportunity to keep in touch with all of you via my updates.

One of my good friends said to me before I left, “You get the opportunity to head on a journey that many of us won’t often get the opportunity to do, but it feels like we all get the chance to go with you.” This is something i remind myself of constantly, thinking of all of you alongside me. The picture at the top of the post was taken in the Johannesburg airport and I thought it’s words fit perfectly with the sentiment of this post.

I feel as though I’m in process similar to those at one of the personal development workshops or camps I frequently volunteer at. Being put in a place of emotional and physical vulnerability to be able to release stuff I’ve been holding on to, and rebuild. I guess this is necessary work if I plan to be fully present for the next 2 months of being here.

Sending a TON of love and gratitude your way and I’m looking forward to the next update!!

(Update: I went into the city today to explore for a few hours on my own. The taxi driver I was with decided to put on music, and I smiled, was thrilled, and put to ease as one of my favorite songs came on, putting to music exactly what I needed to hear. See Below. )

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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. 😛

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.