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. )

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. 😛

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

Play Your Part

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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

The Game of Gratitude

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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.