Comparing apples to oranges

applestooranges

(This post is from my Instagram account @taishka_lefler)

We seem to always be comparing ourselves to someone. We women compare ourselves to other women. Men compare themselves to other men.

But it’s truly comparing apples to oranges. These comparisons are shallow. Purely on the surface. We can never truly compare one person against another.
There’s a Carl Sagan joke: if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, first you have to create the universe.
Someone can only be compared to me if they have lived my life. Every second of it. But no one has. Not one out of 7.5 billion people has lived a life exactly like mine.

Looks are a culmination of DNA from 2 sources. But those 2 sources are a culmination of DNA from thousands of ancestors. What is the point in comparing looks unless we’re willing to compare ancestors? Just as skin colour is a direct correlation to sun exposure our ancestors experienced, features are a direct correlation to the elements.

We compare strength knowing nothing of the tools provided, or lacking, in that person’s upbringing or in their life.
We judge financial wealth, assuming others care about money the same way that we do.
We judge the looks of someone’s partner, assuming that person looks for the same things we do, knowing nothing of the character, sense of humour or compassion of that partner that drew the person in in the first place.
We compare clothes, accessories, cars…
Brand name clothes are still just clothes. A Gucci handbag is still just a handbag. A Lamborghini is still just a car. And money is merely a tool, only one of many that can usually get the job done.

You are not your things & neither am I. We are all so much more.
We bring so much to the table. We shouldn’t short change ourselves. We shouldn’t make baseless comparisons.
We can really only compare ourselves to… ourselves.

 

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Love ❤

Happy couple

When we think of love this is what we think of, this picture above. In English speaking culture the word “love” is first applied to romantic love, then secondly applied to platonic love. But mostly we delegate love as meaning romance.

This limited thinking creates many barriers. We go through life hesitant to express the platonic love we have for people because it’s just not done. As I get older I notice more and more how old customs and ways of doing things are damaging society and holding humanity back.

abstract-circle-design

We see barriers everywhere that do not exist. We limit friendship to people we already know. We’re slow to let new people in once we have a circle of friends. And we’ll only work on building that circle of friends while we feel we still need friends. Then once we’re content with our circle we just stop.  We just stop. I’ve seen this many times in my years of attending college and university.

A circle can look a bit like a round fence. Keeping people in and keeping others out. And we may have various circles due to our jobs, groups we belong to and relationships we’re in. And each person in our individual circles has their own set of circles, circles we’re not allowed into unless invited. So we can have an intricate pattern of circles, our own and ones we’ve been invited into. Yet each circle has its fence, keeping some people in and everyone else out.

Love, platonic love, is present in these circles but withheld from anyone not in these circles. Being in a circle is like being a member of a private club. Being a member is great! Being invited to events, having access to this whole network of people and their contacts, and basking in the friendship and platonic love that comes with membership. But all of this is only available to members.

We are willing to love people in our various circles but not those outside of our circles. This seems to defy logic. How does someone you know automatically become deserving of love while a stranger, merely for the sake of being a stranger, become undeserving of our love?

We decide they must earn our love by doing something to become our friend; likely by doing something nice for us. Possibly repeatedly. So to do something for them, to love them, they must first do something for us.

This circle is a fence that keeps love in but also keeps love out.

Love has absolutely no limit. We will never run out of love. Yet we get stingy with our love. We treat it like a precious commodity. Even though we expect others to be free and easy with their love towards us.

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Love cannot be fenced in. It cannot be withheld from people, merely because we do not yet know them. It cannot be treated as a reward for positive behaviour. It cannot be stifled. If love is not given room to grow it will wither and die.

After oxygen, water, food and shelter love is the next absolute necessity for survival. We use love to handle all of life’s hurdles. We use love to build confidence to do what we have to do in life and to make the decisions we have to make. We use love to rebuild our lives after we’ve suffered tragedies. We use love to empathize with others who are going through tragedy, to take action to help end that tragedy.

And we use love to say a few kinds words to someone that, unbeknownst to us, kept them from going home and committing suicide as they had planned.

As a fetus, before we have a brain we have a heart.

Love surpasses geography and time. Love is magical and everlasting. And there has yet to be a weapon designed that can conquer it.

What I’ve learned from being ‘homeless’

Sometimes the easiest way to handle things is to turn our emotions off, so that we’re only dealing with the situation at hand. I treated my impending homelessness like an event. It was going to happen anyway, there was nothing I could do to stop it, so I just planned for my eventual homelessness. I donated everything, only keeping my text books and clothes in a storage unit I rented. Damn was that storage unit a drain on my monthly welfare cheque! Now I know why people would actually consider living in their storage unit….because I sure did!

Because I rented a storage unit I’ve been asked why I didn’t just keep everything. I gave my stuff away because it felt like this was a learning lesson. Being homeless is a big fear. Losing our possessions is a big fear. I’d use this situation to confront both. And you know what? It’s not as scary as you think! It’s quite freeing actually. (Luckily I live in a socialist country that provides homeless shelters.)

After I became certified as a Life Coach in 2012 or 2013 I started paying attention to people and their behaviours, as well as my own. I wanted to have a better understanding of people and why we do what we do. This understanding included my shelter-mates. In them I was able to see behaviours that led to their living in such an environment. It doesn’t matter whether we have a roof over our head or not, many of us create our own problems. We do not take a lot of responsibility for our own actions, reactions, or decisions. If someone is raised or always around people who behave this way then they also learn to behave this way. Our society also has a lot of self-centeredness. This grows mainly out of fear. Fear of not having enough and fear of losing what we do have. We are also taught this fear. We get this from our caregivers who worry for us and who only want what’s best for us. They think instilling this fear in us will protect us from the big bad world. We also get this fear from all forms of media because it sells goods and services. Fear is a great motivator so the advertising and marketing industry milk it for all it’s worth.

Since my life has been pretty nomadic I wasn’t falling far by becoming homeless and possession-less (that was the 4th time I’d had to give up by belongings). But I did get to see things through new eyes; I got to see things through the eyes of others. I lost friends due to being homeless. Why? I imagine the fear it instilled in them was just too much, it made them too uncomfortable. Fear, even when it doesn’t directly impact someone, will still affect them and drive their actions. This thing, which only exists in our mind, becomes as real as anything we can touch.

FearAll BarkNo Bite

I was fed, clothed, given a roof over my head, a bed to sleep in, daily access to a shower, and provided with personal hygiene products. Yet all around me I saw people acting out of fear of lack. They did NOT lack anything essential yet the fear was all around me. The need for more, more, more. That tells you why so many people are so far in debt. They spend money they Do Not have on things they Do Not need. Will Farrell’s movie Everything Must Go is a serious look at a man who is forced to let go of his possessions. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1531663/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_31

What I learned:

  • We CAN get by on less and with less.
  • When you really need things: money, clothes, food, shelter they will become available. There are programs to help, though you may only find out about them when you need them. But trust me, they are there.
  • Possessions are just things. The world is full of things. THERE ARE MORE THINGS. Don’t live your life afraid of losing your things. Don’t make decisions solely to keep things in your life. The world has more houses, the world has more cars. On your deathbed you won’t be surrounded by your things, with them telling you what a great person you were and how they’ll miss you. Think about it.
  • What, and who, truly matter will never be impacted by where you live or anything else material. Aim for living a life that matters.
  • People will not usually take the first step to being kind, caring or thoughtful. YOU must take that first step. People are more willing to reciprocate than to initiate.
  • The world you live in is what you make it. This is not affected by material possessions or titles or anything fleeting. It is the way you see the world, your behaviour, your actions, your character. It is YOU. The world you live in is what YOU make it. It is all about you and only about you. Most people had no idea I lived in a shelter for that year. I didn’t tell people, act like it or look like it. Each day that I walked out those doors it ceased to be my reality.
  • We are too impressed by titles. The lowest segment of society is VERY impressed by titles. They actually see them as better than the rest of us, like a whole other breed of human. I have gotten to know people with titles, people with higher education. And you know what? They are just like the rest of us! They are just as fallible. They cheat, having drinking problems, have poor social skills, suffer depression, etc. They are no different from you or I and ARE NO BETTER. Please stop being impressed by titles. Please. There are so many amazing people we meet every day who get underestimated. People who Have done and Are doing amazing things.
Life path's tend to be more bumpy than smooth.

Life paths tend to be more bumpy than smooth.

I get underestimated by everyone, all the time. This pisses me off but doesn’t deter me. I answer only to me and I’m Very happy with who I am and what I’ve become. It’s been a rough ride but I’ve come out better and stronger than ever. Without every twist and turn and detour in my life I wouldn’t have become the person I am today. Don’t ever regret a single thing that has happened in your life. Years later you’ll be able to look back and see how each event helped you to become a better, stronger person. You’ll see how your own hardships gave you the strength to help others along the way.

We are all superheroes in the making, helping countless people along the way.

superman-clip-art-free-clip-arts-super-man-logo---clipart-best-pictures

I’ve learned that…‏

liveameaningfullifeblog

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it

seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that

you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things:

a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that

regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re

gone from your life. I’ve learned that making a living is not the same thing as

making a life. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both

hands; you need to be able to throw some things back. I’ve learned that whenever

I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve

learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to…

View original post 63 more words

How to Smile No Matter WHAT Life Throws at You! 😃

Update: I wrote this over a year ago. I’ve been out of the shelter system since March 2015. The 3 places I’ve lived since have actually been worse than living in the shelter. I was more upbeat, productive and treated better while living in the shelter. I never had to deal with being ignored (like I’d become Casper type of ignored), flooding, mold, my room smelling of drugs 24/7, blasting music, screaming matches….. We tend to see things from only one perspective, such as nothing could be as bad as living in a shelter, until we’ve arrived at that point. I honestly fear very little now. I’m actually living in a pretty negative environment right now (since July actually). It’s my fault I’m here and it’s my responsibility to get myself out. Freedom….. is within sight 😄

If you read my post https://taishka.com/2014/12/01/jesus-take-the-wheel/ you know that I’m currently living in a shelter and have been for almost a year. This is about to come to an end but in that year no one has had a clue that I live in a shelter. I don’t dress like it, I don’t act like it and I’m a pretty happy, grateful person despite my circumstances.

I have learned a LOT during this past year and I’m going to share it with you. Some good advice is courtesy of Sonia Ricotti http://www.leadoutloud.ca/index-1.html. In the shelter system I have learned, unequivocally, that we are responsible for MOST of our problems. No one is immune from this responsibility. I’ve been watching, listening and learning from the people around me, and in the past year my learning and self-growth has been speed up exponentially. I couldn’t put a price tag on the benefits of this experience. I also plan on never repeating it again 😉

We are indeed responsible for most of what happens to us. Not all, but most. In how we react, how we make decisions and live based on fear, how we communicate, how we don’t listen, how we assume, how we just don’t try hard enough or give up too quickly, etc. Almost everyone does these things to some degree. Feel bad? Don’t. Welcome to the human race.

I wake up every day in a shelter bed. How would you feel? What would you think if this were you? My days have many pros and very few cons.

Pros

  • I woke up
  • I was warm
  • Someone in another room was noisy and woke me up early. Was I angry? No, it was almost time to wake up anyway so I had a head start on my morning.
  • I was able to have breakfast and catch the morning news playing on the TV, even if it’s donuts. I have not gone hungry while living in the shelter. I’ve put on weight but have not gone hungry.
  • I had access to a shower. I’m able to bathe every day.
  • Meals can come with entertainment; the other residents usually do or say something that makes me LOL.

Cons

Cons are really just of my making. Things are only hard to deal with if I decide so. I don’t have to interact with my environment if I don’t like that environment, including people. As long as it’s not after curfew I can leave the shelter at any time for a break, go for a walk or hop on the subway. I also have library books I can escape into. I can listen to music. I can do things on my laptop. As Sonia says we have no worries “in this moment”. Right now, right this exact moment, we have Nothing to worry about. Getting myself out of the shelter is not a worry, it is just something to do, like a goal. Being in a shelter is not a problem, it’s merely my current situation. We live where we live. If we don’t like it we should work on finding better housing, but in the meantime we live where we live.

A place is only as good or as bad as we make it out to be. It’s all about perception.

I am currently housed, fed, and kept warm. I have access to donated clothing and government services. I live with some kooky characters who both frustrate me and make me laugh (that sounds a bit like family, doesn’t it?). I felt the need to give up almost everything I owned last March yet in the meantime I have been given…enough. When we have absolutely no money new money will come our way. When we have no possessions new possessions will come our way. Maybe not a lot but enough.

When I walk out of the shelter every day I hear beautiful birdsong, I appreciate the tea in my travel mug, and I’m happy for being able to afford a bus pass so that I can get to where I need to for the day. My mindset is of gratitude and it truly colours how I see the world and my situation at any given time. I have what I need, I have enough.

Our situation is just our situation.

Enough

Imagine if you felt that what you had was…enough.

Imagine if everyone you knew and loved felt that what they had in life was…enough.

Imagine if teenagers were content with the clothes their parents/guardians bought them. Imagine if they were content with the dwelling the family could afford. Imagine if they were ok with whatever vehicles their parents/guardians drove. Imagine teenagers that didn’t compare material possessions. Wouldn’t they be healthier, happier teenagers? Teenagers who were more likely to get involved in volunteering, in their community, in social or environmental causes, in starting their own business.

Imagine neighbours not comparing houses, cars, grass, lawn ornaments. Yes, seriously, lawn ornaments. Instead imagine happy, content neighbours who actually befriend each other. Entire neighbourhoods of people who help each other out, who actually care about each other. Just imagine….

Clothes

clothes

What we Need are clothes to keep our bodies covered and warm. What we’re Told we need are stylish clothes, any old clothes just won’t do! And of Course those styles change every year. Last year’s stylish clothes just won’t do this year. They just won’t do! What we Need are clothes that do the job that clothes are supposed to do and that are acceptable for our chosen career and industry. That should be enough.

P.S. clothes are marked up like 400%. You might want to consider used or outlet stores.

Cars (this one REALLY gets me!)

The Aston Martin V12 Vanquish as seen in the film Die Another Day.

What we Need is go get from point A to point B. Since public transportation tends to suck when compared to a car… we get a car. But we’re told any old car just won’t do! (Starting to see a pattern here?) It should be shiny. Rusty spots just won’t do! Does Joe Blow have rusty spots? Noooo. You don’t want Joe Blow to have a nicer car than you…do you? (Marketers just make you feel all warm and fuzzy, don’t they?) So to compete with Joe Blow you need a clean car (Oh dear God, don’t let your car get dirty! Anything but that!!), that’s shiny (because his is), that drives fast (because his does), that has pretty rims (because his does), that…… Jeez Louise! None of that actually matters. What’s going on under the hood is all that matters. If the engine works then the car moves, end of story. A moving car is better than public transit and that should be enough.

P.S. cars depreciate the second you drive them off the lot. They are nothing but a money suck, choose your money suck wisely.

Why this one “REALLY gets me“: What Should make a car is what’s under the hood. Since that’s meaningless to most people we’re impressed by the body. This car, an Aston Martin, has a different body shape from any other brand. But it’s just a brand! It’s just the body of the car! Why does it matter that much? Because the ‘brand’ of car lets us know how much someone spent on the car and hence how much $ they have (or how in debt they are) and how we should judge them. The fact that people are impressed by anyone’s NONRENEWABLE fossil fuel vehicle is beyond me. Electric cars have been around since the 1800’s http://energy.gov/articles/history-electric-car. Oil companies made them disappear for a century but they’re BACK, thank God. VERY LITTLE has changed about cars since Henry Ford started building them on his factory line. They really haven’t. That is not even remotely impressive. PLEASE stop being impressed by vehicles.

Dwelling

House-Design-100

Having protection from the elements and heat in the winter is what we Need. What we’re told we need is Big! Pretty! Modern! Filled with expensive furniture! Because Joe Blow’s house is big, pretty, modern and filled with expensive furniture. A dwelling that protects us from the elements and that provides heat in the winter should be enough. (My foster-father bought a picnic table for our living room when we moved into an apartment. It did the job and looked kinda cool. And was much cheaper than a regular dinning table. But main point; It. Did. The. Job.) Many people are moving into tiny houses, even building the houses themselves for fairly cheap, and really enjoy the minimalist living.

Vacations

Seychelles Stunning Beach

We Need time off of work – in North America we spend ENTIRELY too much time working – to relax, recharge, get refreshed and reboot. What we’re Told to do is buy prepackaged trips to resorts in exotic locales. And then maybe go on prepackaged excursions, basically with the same people who are staying at the resort. We’re told not to experience the land we’re visiting, the people who live there (like those who service the resorts and operate the excursions) or learn about their unique ways of life, cultures, customs, beliefs or language. You know…the stuff that makes us grow as a person, that we’re Supposed to get from travelling. We’re told Nooooo it’s too dangerous. Joe Blow isn’t dumb enough to risk his life exposing himself to all the crime and violence just awaiting him if he explores on his own. You’re not that dumb either…are you? (Again, making us feel all warm and fuzzy. God bless those marketers’ hearts.) To reiterate what we Need is to relax, recharge, get refreshed and reboot. It’s up to us to determine where in the world, and How, we are able to accomplish those vacation goals. Maybe it’s inexpensive camping, backpacking or voluntourism. Figure out what mode of vacation is enough for you. And do lots of it!! One thing you can never have enough of is travel.

P.S. meeting people around the globe, being exposed to different cultures, beliefs and ways of thinking is PRICELESS. Travelling will never be a waste of money. Travel, self-development and personal learning reap the most rewards for money spent.

Education

Smiling Graduate Holding up Diploma

After all of my years of being a student (I’ve taken much more than I mention in my about page) I’ve seen that formal education  is just a very expensive hoop to jump through to get a job. There is very little that we actually learn that we can’t learn on the job, and learn much faster. The problem becomes Getting the job. Our resumes get sorted into piles and we want our resume to be sorted into the good pile. Joe Blow got accepted into (insert your opinion of a top school) and whether you have his financial resources or not you feel the need to get into a similar school. Because it’s not about the level of education you’ll get but about the prestige of having a certain school on your resume. Of being an alumni of said Institution. Because you’re Told you’re competing with all the Joe Blow’s out there. That you don’t stand a Chance if you don’t attend the right school, if you don’t get the right education. Fact: Big name schools mean big name contacts in someone’s network, that’s all. Fact: People will pay a lot of money for an MBA purely for the contacts they make. It has been found (a study I read a couple of years ago) that an MBA really only benefits someone in getting that initial post-MBA job,  it doesn’t really benefit the jobs after that. Fact: You can get just about any job you want if you put the work into making good contacts. You can sell yourself better than any resume can. You are much more than a few bullet points. Let people meet YOU before they meet your resume, that’s the secret to getting great jobs and having a great career, not going to an expensive school. Many successful, well known people are university drop-outs (Harvard, Yale, MIT, etc).

Once you determine where you want to go in life the brain between your ears can decide what school is enough, what program is enough, what length of time to stay in school is enough. If you’re not sure what you want to do then you’re better off working and making money and gaining experience (the biggest hurdle to finding work) and skill, than spending money and not necessarily gaining any more insight. In many professions there are short certifications and workshops that are considered equivalent to courses offered at college and university, you’ll be able to learn what you need when you need it.

Once working many people get hired or promoted, based on their individual abilities, into roles that may have nothing to do with their education. People can go Very far based on Themselves, not based on where they went to school or what education they have. It’s all about getting your foot in the door, making a name for yourself and making contacts. The enough route will give you more time for this and less time wasted on chasing unnecessary paper. I actually created a Facebook page years ago due to classmates not knowing good job search tactics (the co-op department will teach you just enough to keep themselves in a job): https://www.facebook.com/JobSearchSkills/

Money

money

This one is the kicker. How much someone makes is no indication of how rich they are or how well they manage their own funds. If you compete with the Joe Blows you’ll never save enough. If you work too hard and too long to make partner, CEO or to get that corner office because Joe Blow has a corner office then you’ll likely lose your health. And then lose all your money trying to get your health back. Money is the absolute WORST enough. Having enough money actually has nothing to do with money. Money is a tool. Money is used to buy goods and services. We are taught we need more goods and services to be happy. We taught we can’t possibly be happy with what we have now, with where we are in life now. Joe Blow has more. Joe Blow gets more. And don’t we want to be more like Joe Blow?

Joe Blow

No! Here’s the thing about Joe Blow. Poor old Joe has serious health issues. His company isn’t doing so well. His job is unsteady. His marriage is rocky. His kids hate him. His family hates him. Even the dog hates him. He’s stressed. His hair is falling out. He’s growing pudgy from poor health, poor diet and all the stress. He’s in so much debt he’s one missed payment away from needing to declare bankruptcy. Again.

You do NOT want to be like Joe Blow.

We don’t need the goods and services we think we do. We don’t need anywhere as much as we think we do. (And ladies, we don’t need as much in our ever growing purses as we think we do.) There are a lot of things we can do ourselves. And a lot of things we can do without. What we have, right now, IS enough. What we make, right now, IS enough. What we drive IS enough (Though I don’t even drive, its public transit for me, which is enough), what we wear IS enough (Except for me, I walk the fashion faux-pas fine line. I need to up my game. So exception for me.), where we live IS enough (Though renting a room….I’d like to up that game too. So exception for everyone renting a room.)

There’s a big difference between the mindset of wanting more and the mindset of feeling that something is enough…for now. There’s still the drive for improvement, for advancement, but there’s also the appreciation for what is now, for what you have now. Appreciation is a magical thing. Suddenly it will seem like you have more money and that what money you have goes further. You will be able to do more with the money that you do have. Up until this line in this post the spotlight has been on the things that money can buy us, the things that money represents to us. That is how we’re taught to see the world. But once appreciation comes into the mix we add a much bigger element into our lives; the universe. Money is Nothing. It’s words and designs printed on paper (plastic in Canada) that’s a promissory note denoted a value, to be used as tender. You can use a $5 promissory note to buy something from someone, or you can do some work for that person in exchange for that same item; a barter. Your time, your work, your skill can also be used as ‘tender’. Money is just a tool. So is your time, your ability to work, and your skill set. You can also trade the things that you don’t really need for the things that you really want. Bartering takes the power away from money and lets you see all the things you can do without it.

We never really want money anyway, we want all the things we can Do with money. Money isn’t the only way.

Enough

You clothes, car and dwelling are a ball and chain. They cost time and money, taking away resources from other areas of your life. Right now stop, clear your head and imagine you’re on your death bed. Your life is done. Over. You’re looking back. What do you want to be remembered for? What do you want to have accomplished? What experiences do you want to have had? What influence do you want to have had on others? What do you want to be known and remembered for?

From this moment on base all of your decisions on those ‘What’s. Money will never be the cause of those what’s, nor the home you lived in, the car you drove or the clothes you wore. The naked body underneath; what’s in your heart, what’s in your head, that’s what will drive and deliver your ‘What’s. At all times make the best with what you have and always appreciate What you have. The universe will smile upon you, and bestow more upon you. And everyone likes a happy, appreciative person so your tribe of acquaintances, friends and connections will grow. Also your brain will become more creative in finding solutions to your problems, with the resources available to you.

Enough can get you very, very far.

Being-happy-doesn’t-mean-you-have-it-all-it-means-being-thankful-to-the-lord-for-all-you-have.

If ‘Lord’ offends just read as “It means being thankful for all you have.”