Lessons of 2015


Here we are at another year’s end, saying goodbye to 2015 when it feels like yesterday we were saying hello. Did I accomplish everything I set out to? I did not set any concrete resolutions as I do not believe we can hold tightly to them, I do not like putting weight on my shoulders that is not necessary. “Goals” shouldn’t be a pedestal.

I now sit with a cup of cocoa, reflecting on the past year and pondering the future. I managed to sneak two tropical vacations into this year, a few thrifting trips to Ottawa, a trip to the bead stores in Toronto once or twice. I added a full time yoga routine into the mix as well as a second job increasing my work days to 12 hours.

I discovered a great array of new wardrobe pieces this year, found the perfect pair of gladiator sandals at the beginning of the year – only to abandon them by the end, but thats the way life goes. We give and take, we change, we grow. I read a few blog posts today about donating your excess, how you feel better when you declutter… Seeing how much excess people have in their homes. I saw a tragic photo of an op shop in the US that people had stacked the entire front of the building with bags of donations (after closing time) only to have more people come and rip them open over night. The employees arrived to a mess of clothing all over the parking lot.

What is a convenience to you can be making another person’s life very difficult. Such as my job, they think dumping off a garbage of clothing is helping the store – its actually creating a huge pile of pointless work for me, not to mention exhausting and in the end for nothing 9 times out of 10. I see how I’m treated, I see how people treat each other and its very sad. If I have learned nothing else this year its that the world must be kind, to each other and to our Mother Earth herself.

Humans are now a source of hatred and kindness is considered rare. I escaped for a few days before Christmas to Santa Maria, Cuba just myself for the very first time and the one thing that stands out above all – is kindness. Heartfelt, genuine kindness from every employee I came across. Out of respect the gardeners pause to say “Hola, Good Morning!” as I pass by. After leaving gifts for my Camerera (chambermaid) she would approach me in the hallway to thank me personally as well as leave me hand written notes of thanks.

As I enter the buffet I smile and greet the attendants, only to be interrupted by a fellow guest arguing and attacking a chef and a member of staff. It is from these instances that I become a nicer person and do even more to show my appreciation. A repeated phrase on the tip of my tongue this month has been “Those who have nothing give everything and those who have everything give nothing.” It confronts me every day of my life. If these cruel individuals looked at the money in my pocket they would be shocked at how I can survive on so little, but when I pass the Salvation Army Santa I give him the coin I have, I thank my servers and give them the proper percentage and I offer to help friends who might be struggling. Then you have my grandmother who could provide food for thousands upon thousands of starving people, instead chooses to have a teenager fired for charging her the 10 cents she was rightfully supposed to pay for her coffee.

This year I bought a surprise bag from TenTree, a company that plants ten trees per every item sold as a way of giving back to the planet. I gave gifts and pesos as a way of thanks for every kindness I received while in Cuba, a peso being equivalent to more than most of them make in a day. Perhaps its my way of being a good person, but my day is made bright by all the good steps I take. It will never overshadow the negative a Scrooge creates, but it does give hope that others like myself can hang on to. I give what little I have to spare to make someone else’s day a little easier. If we can all do this our world would be a better place.

In 2016 I will hang on to the values 2015 has taught me, the lessons of my 30th year very clear in my mind. Understanding that I am not perfect, the photoshopped celebrities on Instagram do not hold all the happiness in the world, and there is no such thing as perfection. My father once said we do not need religion but to believe in something greater than ourselves and to be a good person. Through our small acts of kindness I feel we can all be good to each other, create a stronger sense of happiness in the world and see a lot more smiles.

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