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.

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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.”

 

 

 

 

You ARE enough!

Watch the video before reading further.

That man, to this day, has been unidentified. He was likely killed. He was also an everyday man. There was likely nothing special about him, until he stepped in front of that long line of tanks (it was Quite long!). I meant to write this post last month but I’ve noticed something in the meantime, that I hadn’t noticed 1 1/2 months ago….

It seems to be much easier for us to idolize people we don’t know, to put strangers up on a pedestal. We don’t seem to think too highly of people we’re familiar with – an extension of our view of ourselves  – compared to the accolades we’ll give to those unknown to us. Please ponder this before you trash my theory. As I said I only made this realization recently. I became a certified life coach yet have had no one come forward and let me coach them, despite the good advice I give out when asked – though never followed. Only ONE person who knows me has read this blog. Only one. Because they know me they must figure ‘What could she possibly know? How smart could she possibly be?’. It seems no one is impressed with engineering these days ;-) I get underestimated ALL THE TIME. Perhaps you do too?

Perhaps you underestimate yourself? I can guarantee that’s a given.

the-dalai-lama-4

Everyone knows this man; the 14th Dalai Lama. But until he was discovered at 2 years old he was just little Lhamo Thondup. A simple test determined his fate; to remain Lhamo Thondup or become the next Dalai Lama. If he hadn’t picked the correct toys we would be bowing to another as the Dalai Lama. Does he feel he’s special? No, he describes himself as no different from you or I.

Irena-Sendler-inmemoriam

The face of an angel masquerading as a social worker during WWII in Warsaw, Poland. She saved the lives of over 2500 Jewish children, smuggling them out of the Nazi controlled territory. She did what she felt she had to; she wasn’t looking to be labelled a hero. In fact I believe we only know about her and her heroic acts because of a student’s school report. She’s just one person who realized what power she had at a time when power meant the difference between life and death.

Luckily we don’t live in those harsh conditions, at least not here in North America, but we all have the capabilities and power to still be heroes in our own rights. The history books are full of people who have done Wondrous things. The history books are also NOT full of many wondrous people and their deeds; the work of many courageous individuals go unreported and unknown.

We are ALL capable of so much more than we realize. We can do SO much more than we realize.

If Irena hadn’t been a social worker in Warsaw during WWII would she have been less of a hero? No. She was the person she was. Period. Whether she made it into the history books or not she would have still been great. Tank Man wasn’t planning on pulling his death defying stunt; he was carrying shopping bags for heavens sake!
Why do we expect so little of ourselves, see so little greatness there, yet put others up on a pedestal? Only once they’ve proven their right to be there, of course.

We are ALL enough. We are ALL freaking awesome. We are ALL heroes. We need to stop short-changing ourselves! :-D

LesBrown

And Mother Teresa? She was just a nun. Who cared. A lot! :-D