All Things Have Value

As the people of Fort McMurray fled wildfires, individuals across Canada asked themselves, “How can I help?”

Donating money was the easiest option for those who had it. Volunteer time seemed most precious and challenging to offer, especially for those who lived outside a reasonable distance from where all hands-on-deck were needed.

Most people (myself included) found they had plenty in their homes that was not being used: clothing, linens, utensils. A desire to help motivated us to pack all of those gifts and give from the heart, to those who had lost so much.

I am pleased when effort is made to organize things, and a list is put out to detail what is required. I find it disturbing when ‘experts’ decide these items have no value, because they are difficult to sort through. If it’s too much work for charitable organizations to deal with, then leave out the middle man and let the people in need pick through it themselves. Only they know what they can or cannot use.

There have been times in my life when I had nothing; when used clothes or even an old lawn chair would have been so graciously received. People who are used to owning many things have no idea how the offer of one humble item can give hope and brighten the world of an individual who can make worthwhile use of it.

All things have value to someone.

I donated clothes with the labels still on, shoes I never wore, blankets I never used – I hate to think they may have been destroyed. I keep reminding myself to trust they will make their way to those who will value them.

We should not let the blindness of those that get in the way by judging things unusable, to stop us from giving.

Meanwhile, let’s vow to be more discerning in what we acquire and accumulate; to ensure that all things we have, we value; and going forward, that the value is preserved for others to enjoy after us.

All Things Have Value © May 14, 2016 | Annie Zalezsak

Life Priorities

Photo: Nikolay MossolaynenWhen people move on from their physical life, we don’t remember their possessions: the things they had and owned.

We remember who they were; what they gave to us and others in terms of an uplifted feeling. It may have come through the vibrancy of their character, or the quality of their talent.

It is the person we love and hold eternally in our hearts, not their stuff.

Yet in our own lives, we obsess over gaining material wealth. We convince ourselves we ‘need’ far more than we actually do.

It is all so transient, anyway. It occurs to me that the people we love and admire, whose inspiring words we quote and deeds we desire to emulate, are often the people who own(ed) next to nothing. They were valued for their spirit and their actions.

These are our mentors, our role models, our most beloved and respected. It makes sense to shift our own personal focus from chasing money, cars, big houses and fashion statements – to being the full-on amazing person we truly are at our core.

Let’s present this Self up front and foremost.

Setting this as our top priority makes us truly rich. This is the way a single individual can illuminate the whole world.

Life Priorities © November 22, 2015 | Annie Zalezsak

Ubuntu: I am, because you are

Photo: Sasin Tipchai | 123rf.com

Ubuntu is a South African idea about the connectedness of humanity.

“We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.”
— Desmond Tutu

Our human nature yearns for a community where we co-exist harmoniously with mutual respect and equal value for each person’s life.

Instead of leaders and followers, let us embrace all as equals: elders and children; all genders, orientations and ages; people of wisdom and skills of varied abilities; protectors and visionaries; caregivers and artists.

Every human has a place among the needs of a collective humanity. No individual is more or less important than another.

In karmic principles, the idea of “what goes around, comes around” is often seen in terms of negative consequences to evil actions.

Ubuntu focuses on the goodness of mankind. All the wonderful things we desire for ourselves, are also desired and shared with all human beings.

With Ubuntu, there is peace, love, kindness and freedom for all.

Ubuntu: I am, because you are © November 21, 2015 | Annie Zalezsak

Borders and Beliefs

I am a first generation Canadian, a daughter of European immigrants after World War II.

I am also a nomad by nature. I believe that as long as I’m a good person and comply with local law, I should have the right to live anywhere I choose.

As the world debates, should we, shouldn’t we, for and against taking in refugees, let’s remember that this earth belongs to us all.

Remember, remember always, that all of us, and you and I especially, are descended from immigrants and revolutionists.

Every human being born on the planet has a right to a place to exist peacefully and harmoniously. Those blessed with such an existence have the capacity to share it. What decent human being would not share their bounty with someone suffering and in need?

“There but for the grace of God, go I.”

I understand fear and mistrust. The fact is, there is sickness among us. We can take all the precautions we want; it may still slip through. Do we turn our backs on tens of thousands, for fear there may be an evil thought among them?

Well, lock yourself up, and live nothing of a life, if you require that protection. Life is risk. All life is always at risk.

But life also has power and strength. It prevails. It goes on. Fruitfully.

Let’s focus on doing what is right for the human race. Instead of shutting people out, let’s unite and embrace and uplift.

Let’s give those that have made no mistakes, a chance at survival. They may actually bring us all a whole lot of good.

“So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments,” said the Dalai Lama. “The problems that we are facing today are the result of superficial differences over religious faiths and nationalities. We are one people.”

Borders and Beliefs © November 18, 2015 | Annie Zalezsak

Acts of Peace

France’s president, François Hollande, called the November 13, 2015 attack on Paris an “act of war”. The Mirror states France dropped over 20 bombs on Raqqa, Syria.

“Anti-ISIS activists in Syria claim a stadium, a museum, medical clinics and a political building have been hit after France launched airstrikes in retaliation for the Paris terror attack.”

I am bewildered.

Amid Paris peace-symbols, candle-lit prayers, and civilians everywhere expressing compassion for humanity, politicians are taking actions that not only impact the bad, but escalates harm on the good.

Pockets of evil may be taken out, but at what risk to rights, freedoms – and lives – of those who have been at peace? What good is it, if for every bad guy, a hundred good ones are also taken out?

Hate has caused a lot of problems in this world, but it has not solved one yet.

Humanity hasn’t yet achieved perfect loving consciousness. Evil-doers live everywhere. We’ve seen how a new terrorist group shows up just when we thought we got rid of the previous one. Let’s not perpetuate evil.

There has to be a better response. I don’t know what that is. But what I do know, is that the vast majority of people are good, kind and want peace. We don’t want to live in fear, or be at war. Peace begets peace. Love begets love. This is the inherent nature of a newborn baby, untainted by the mental illness that drives hate and war.

This is a call for all to forgive acts of war.

Let us move forward in Acts of Peace!

Acts of Peace © November 16, 2015 | Annie Zalezsak

Value of a Smile

Photo credit: Kirk Johnson | Dreamstime.com

Smiling costs nothing; but it’s value is enormous. Scientifically, it releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin. It can lower heart rate and blood pressure.

Smiling makes us feel better emotionally. It elevates mood, uplifts our perspective, and invites the return of a smile from another. A smile can be a gateway to connection with anyone who sees our smile.

When you smile at someone, you acknowledge and validate their presence. This is a powerful feeling for participants in a smile-exchange. A shared smile expresses kindness, empathy, gratitude, and love.

It feels good to smile and there is evidence to support it offers benefits to health and longevity. Even if someone doesn’t notice you’re smiling at them, on some level, they’re receiving that smile-blessing.

Smile often. It’s good for the world!

Value of a Smile © November 11, 2015 | Annie Zalezsak

Life is About Creating Yourself

Are we all born as a blank canvas?

It doesn’t matter. We create and re-create ourselves over and over as we go through life. I know that I have wanted to, on many occasions, re-invent myself, change my life, write a new story.

I am a work in progress. I have no idea what it will look like in the end, but I am intending it to be a masterpiece. My life may be like an abstract painting that causes viewers to raise an eyebrow or screw up their face in confusion or shake their head in disbelief.

But it’s my palette, my choice of media, my relevant colours.

I assert my right to splash and splatter the paint in any fashion that feels most ‘me’. I will not be to everyone’s taste and that’s okay. It’s more than okay. It demonstrates my unique, one-of-a-kind-ness. I do not want my life to be a carbon copy of another’s. I do not want to be remembered by my photographs alone. I want to create an impact, a movement that will spiral upward and beyond my earth years.

Creation is an immense power we humans have. I intend to use mine fully, daily, in every way I possibly can.

How about you?

Life is About Creating Yourself © March 3, 2014 | Annie Zalezsak