Volunteering and the Calgary Folk Festival

CFMFIn my experience, I find that volunteering has always been an incredibly rewarding gift of one’s time. Unfailingly, an adventure with unexpected rewards far greater than ever imagined. Such was the case of my weekend on ‘plate recycling’ duty at the Calgary Folk Festival. Although I tweaked my back in lifting and counting the mountain of buckets thrown our way both mornings, I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend of musical delight and celebration on downtown Calgary’s Prince’s Island Park.

So many wonderful musicians were heard, a few of my favourites being: Rufus Wainwright; Neko Case; City And Colour; Crooked Jades; John Boutte; Ollabelle; Oh Susanna; The Sadies; Good Brothers; Jamaica to Toronto (and these were only the artists that I experienced … many more were not heard, unfortunately!).

PS The food was AMAZING!!!!

Volunteering locally is always a pleasure, but sometimes when one is looking for more adventure in distant lands, the opportunities abound, and finding the right organization can be a bit of a challenge. However, having worked, lived and volunteered abroad, I can tell you that with all of the trials and difficulties encountered along my journey came life-changing experiences and memories that will last several lifetimes!

Here’s an article with organizations and volunteer listings from the Green Guide to help get you started in an unforgettable journey of volunteer work beyond the borders of your current reality:

crossculturalsolutions.org: Offers volunteer programs in 12 countries, including Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania and Thailand.

i-to-i.com: Work to conserve Madagascar’s lemurs, care for endangered wallabies in Australia or help maintain biodiversity with indigenous peoples in Costa Rica.

idealist.org: An extensive volunteer database with environmental listings, connections to local nonprofits, financial aid information, internships and a kids and teens page. Current opportunities include teaching environmental awareness to Nepalese villagers and developing a fruit-drying program for Ghanan villagers, among many others.

maasaicentre.org: The Maasai Centre for Field Studies still takes volunteers as well as school and university groups. For details, contact Dr. Chris Southgate or Dr. Mark Toogood via the Web site.

volunteerabroad.com: Listings include opportunities to protect Australia’s environment and conservation projects in Costa Rica.

volunteerinternational.org: Conservation programs in Thailand, creating a Holocaust Memorial Park in Poland and making eco-friendly soap with disabled persons in Japan are just three of the unique opportunities you’ll find on this site.

Tip of the day for volunteering overseas:

Handling the Expenses
Costs can be a major drawback to volunteering overseas. Travelers with specific experience or academic expertise may be able to find an organization willing to pay their expenses and even provide a stipend. In most cases, however, volunteers will be responsible for air fare, in-country travel and living expenses. And some popular organizations charge added fees.

Yet there are options for the dedicated. If the main purpose of your visit is to volunteer, airlines may provide free or heavily discounted flights—albeit often on standby. Call the carrier and let them know you’re interested in a sponsorship for volunteer work. They may ask to see your volunteer visa or a letter from your volunteer organization.

Believing in Oneself

Sometimes a bit of doubt creeps in as to my core value and the possibilities of what I can achieve in life. But with that bit of doubt, comes the knowledge that anyone who regards themselves as worthy, despite any setbacks and downfalls, can achieve greatness. Look at these wonderful men who accomplished greatness in life …

Albert Einstein could not talk before the age of four
Isaac Newton was a ‘bad’ student
Beethoven‘s music teacher told him he would never be a composer
Thomas Edison‘s teacher told him that he was too stupid to learn anything
Walt Disney was fired as a reporter, because he wasn’t creative enough
Winston Churchill had to repeat a school year

All of these worthies were successful for one main reason: they believed in themselves!
What an enlightening lesson 🙂

Planting HAPPiness: feeding my souL

soil LoveIt’s been an amazingly hectic few weeks (and yes, I will eventually get my vacation blog up-to-date WITH pictures, promise!) with our jam-packed (literally! Mom gifted slaDE with 8 jars of strawberry freshness) vacation back to Ontario, a family wedding and a full-on Stampede with fireworks every night to keep us bright-eyed and awake into the wee hours. I’ve been feeling a bit frazzled and have needed some down-time. So I invested my energy into an evening of repotting our African Violet plants, which haven’t been doing so well of lately. Some strange mold has festered at the fringes of their pots and I thought it best to give new life to the wilting leaves and flowers, as my off-coloured thumb has been negligent of the babies, to say the least!

The night outside was sickly thick with stagnant mugginess, so what better place to hang out than the rooftop of our building! Here I made a right mess, soiling the boards with love and carefree abandon. It was revitalizing to craft a new nest for my lovelies, although my clumsy ineptness will define the life of their new home. Regardless, these plants were gifted to us and they offer much joy in return. Fingers crossed that their roots will take on a new lease!

Planting the happiness in our lives has much to do with “accepting the fact that our life gardens will produce exactly what we plant“, and how we maintain the life in the earthloam (making time for nourishing the earthiness that is at our core) will determine the outward leaves that reflect who we are.

This quote is a great analogy to how I’m feeling at the moment: “if I plant happiness in my daily life, low and behold, I will find joy in everything I do. If I plant negative thoughts inside my heart, I will only grow more discontented with each passing day. Whatever is planted inside my heart will grow. If we plant seeds of hope, we can expect miracles. Are you planting seeds of happiness in the hearts of those you love?”

I also ask: am I nourishing the happiness within by taking the time to cultivate a sturdy and solid home for everything in my life, of importance, including myself?

It feels as if, of late, I’ve been extending myself beyond the boundaries of my necessity and it’s time to step-back into a bit of solitude and quiet. Find the time to journal, be cre8tive and just bE. Ohmmmmmmm …..

Winding down, winding up

Why is it that whenever I go on vacation (a time of supposed relaxation and stress-relief), I usually end up needing a vacation afterwards to unwind from a fast-paced hectic schedule far busier than my everyday life!

The eve before a trip, for both slaDE~ and myself, is typically an evening of last-minute packing and little, if no, sleep. Such was the case last night. Nada sleep. Zippo. Zillch. Makes for a tired girl …. but happy. Actually I’m really excited, to be going home. slaDE~s in the same predicament. No snoozin for uS! We have such huge plans with much to accomplish. Fitting it (and family / friends) all in will be a hectic but enjoyable experience.

Our friend Robin was extremely kind to offer us a ride to the airport. On time, relaxed and adrenalized, we encountered an interesting scenario at check-in. At first, the gate attendant gave us an absolute NO to bringing slaDE~s parachute along on the flight, whether it be carry-on or otherwise. Armed with a Vigil xray card, we spent an animated 15 minutes speaking with his supervisor before getting the a-ok to carry the rig on board. yipPEE! That was a HUGE accomplishment, and slaDE~ was visibly relieved.

With a 1.5 hour delay on our Westjet flight, I was able to catch a lovely little cat-naP in the lounge waiting area. I’ve had the good-fortune of napping in different terminals, and Calgary is one of the comfy ones, indeed!

After a spectacular visibly beautiful flight we landed uneventfully at Waterloo-Wellington International airport. What a pleasure! Small airport, no lines, quick baggage capture. Can’t beat that, especially when the family only lives a 10 minute drive away.

A relatively quiet night for me. I was pooped!