In memory of Mena
It has definitely taken me longer to transition into 2014, than it has any of the (many) previous years. A great deal of ideas, projects and happenings in 2013 all seemed to bottle neck towards the end.
That said, I’m not one to execute my list of resolutions at the stroke of midnight. I don’t want to set myself up to fail, and be disappointed. This Ontario girl has done a few polar dips. Enough to have learned that I’m a ‘dip the big toe first’ kind of person (and in much warmer weather, thank you).
I used to look forward to going out to celebrate the New Year. I would dress up and go out with friends, ‘tying one on’ for the last time that year. I would, of course partake of champagne at midnight vowing however to ‘go dry, eat healthy and workout ‘starting tomorrow’. Within the first week of the new year I would update my resume, find my dream job and start out ‘gung ho’ to lose X amount of pounds before shorts season. This would be the year. Then, inevitably, there were distractions and all good intentions dissolved.
Nowadays, my priorities and the time in which it takes to accomplish a task, has changed. I still have hopes and dreams, however I am more realistic and choose a more general approach to achieving them; I will continue to make healthy choices – I would like to try to incorporate more ‘raw’ dishes into my diet each week, I will add an extra weight training day to my workout schedule (somewhere in the week), and I will make more time for my hobbies – balance between work and personal life if balanced, is often precarious. It is important to consider what is done with that time and the quality of time; do I feel I’ve done something because it ‘had to be done’, and do I feel better after it is done? Sometimes it’s best to focus on something else entirely; read, go for a walk or play fetch with the dogs for an hour. Resolutions or daily tasks – I don’t want to just cross things off a list, I want them to matter. What I do, I do with ‘intention’.
On September 11th, 2001, the world watched in absolute horror and disbelief when two planes, filled with passengers struck one each of the two World Trade Centre towers. Most of us remember exactly where we were – standing helpless as both planes disappeared into the buildings which collapsed to the ground. In the days, weeks, and months to follow, we watched a nation pick itself up, support its fellow citizens and share miraculous tales of hope and survival, amid heartache. Movies such as ‘Reign Over Me’ (Adam Sandler, 2007), ‘Not Since You’ (2009), and of course ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ (Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock, 2011) to name only a few, have referred to this event; the experience having life altering effects on at least one of the characters – who, ultimately go through a spiritual awakening and in the process, learn a valuable lesson.
My point is this; why does it take such tragedy to create perspective? Perhaps the families who lost friends and loved ones to tragic circumstances will find a small amount of comfort, in knowing that we have not forgotten, and although there is evil in this world, we are reminded there is also much good. The events of that day, and countless other seemingly pointless tragedies stay with me. I try not to take for granted the opportunity I have to make a difference; somewhere, somehow regardless of the degree. ‘A little at a time, however possible’.
In 2014, I learned of Christine B. and her blog projectlighttolife.com. I was inspired by Christina and her many acts of kindness – ideas that, at the very least make people smile. I haven’t created my bucket list yet. I decided to start with a ‘sand pail’.
‘A single grain of sand is barely visible to the human eye – buckets full will build castles’.
Sand Pail List
Donate time, supplies and/or financial support to a local shelter(s):
-Think of fun ways to ‘fundraise’; bake cupcakes or cookies to sell at the office, knit toys and blankets, sew blankets and jackets. Are you, or do you know anyone who is a consultant for Scentsy, Pampered Chef, Lia Sophia, Stella & Dot etc.? If not perhaps you could host a party and raise some money for much needed items. Most shelters and rescue organizations will have a wish list posted on their site.
–Cat cuddling; some shelters are full of residents, and the attendants don’t have the extra time for more than a quick pat on the head or stroke under the chin. Cat cuddlers provide socialization, stimulation and much needed love required. Why not go the extra mile and offer to brush some coats and trim nails. Some cats are lucky to have play areas with scratch posts – most are not.
–Dog walking; This could mean the difference between a dog being adopted or overlooked due to having ‘too much energy’ for a family. Often, it’s very hard during meet and greets for families to properly determine if a dog will be a good fit because they have not had as much exercise as a dog their size requires. That extra half an hour you can spare could make such a difference. It also helps socialize the dogs.
–Taking photos; again due to time restrictions, the photos you see on such search engines are often ‘quick snaps’ taken by shelter staff, in an effort to put a tail to a name. If you have a camera, and are able to spend some time with the animals, you can help them relax and take a photo capturing their true beauty.
–Sponsorship; a number of rescue organizations are raising funds to cover medical bills for animals in their care, or simply to pay for food and basic costs of living.
–Transport; organizations such as Pilots N Paws (Canada and U.S.) organize the transport of animals in order to keep them safe and find permanent homes for them. As well as individuals qualified to fly aircraft, ground transport is also required. Even offering to take an animal from a local shelter to a veterinarian appointment would be helpful.
–Foster; unfortunately not all shelters are ‘no kill’, and offering to care for an animal until a permanent loving home can be found, may be the difference between life and death for that animal or another. It’s not always easy to see them go, but in my opinion, it’s much easier than considering the alternative.
–Support a Cause; unless you are part of the rescue community, there are MANY issues and concerns that are not generally discussed, and most people are completely unaware of. For example; the laws and restrictions regarding Pitbulls and other breeds in different Provinces and States, Puppy Mills and sales of pets in pet stores, Over-population – in part due to ignorance about the importance of ‘spay/neuter,’ different organizations that are desperately trying to number inline, and how they hope to do so. Embrace the opportunity to learn something that will benefit the community and share the information. Some things are difficult to hear but again if you don’t know you can’t help. Then….
–Talk it up; Share the information you learned with others. SHARE THIS POST! Also, keep an eye out for ads posted online or posters regarding lost pets or others looking for a new home. Recommend visiting a shelter or rescue organization. You would be surprised at how love connections are made.
Someone read somewhere that this dog needed a home and then heard from someone that ‘so and so’ was ready to adopt a new dog…….
–Be Vigilant/Take Responsibility; Please don’t ignore a situation if you have a feeling something isn’t right. Any cruelty and neglect isn’t always obvious. Do we not have a moral obligation to report it? Control Officers would rather check something out and find it to be nothing rather than arrive too late to a situation. Do you have a neighbor that seems to always be giving away free kittens, or selling litter after litter of puppies? Be aware of stray cats and contact your local shelter for information about Feral Support. Unaltered pets contributing to over-population is a huge concern leading to the large number of shelter animals being euthanized because homes can’t be found for them. What about a dog that appears to be injured and/or covered in cuts. Please don’t look away. Make a difference.
Building sand castles is more fun when working together with friends; on a sunny day at the beach, the sound of waves and seagulls (they can be a good thing), laughing and working together to create something magical. Who will join me in this challenge? I have chosen ideas based on ‘Animal Welfare’. Feel free to grab a spade and scoop some goodness into this pail (cross one or two items off the list if you aren’t up to the entire challenge), or start your own for any other cause. I’d love to hear about your experiences or ideas to add to the list.
New Year’s resolve, to me is about evolution; strengthening values, learning and developing. I contemplate what has transpired in the previous years. I take time to consider what I would like to accomplish over the course of the next few. What can I do this year that will somehow make a difference? When I’m ready, I take the first step – with a new-year state of mind.
Best wishes for the New Year!
Thank you Matt Long for permission to use images:
Lara Elmayan @ untapped cities photographed the lower manhattan sandcastle:
and last but not least thank you Heather for sharing your photo of Willamena: