I wish you courage

One of the hardest things about my job is explaining to people why the world is turning their back on them. Why is it that people dislike them so much without having even met them? “It is not personal” I say “ I am sorry that you have been caught in the politics”. Not surprisingly, nothing I say makes them feel better. All they know is that one day a member of their family was murdered before their very eyes, or their house got bombed, or their neighbours were killed, or they were sold for marriage and subject to violence and abuse, or they were beaten up and incarcerated for having different beliefs, or they could just not continue living in the fear of a coming death and a diminishing future. Yes, these are the kinds of things that force them to leave their home, and try to seek protection in other places. But instead of feeling welcomed and comforted by those of us in better circumstances, they are being punished. Punished for having hope, for wanting a better future, an education for their children, for not being able to continue living in fear.

Caught between war and the politics of fear, they feel without value. The logic of deterrence is simple: we will make your life so much more miserable that you will wish you never left. Some logic, huh? And it works. They are not treated as people, but as burdens on society, thanks to misinformation and toxic political narratives that objectify human beings whose humanity has been reduced to an adjective: refugee or asylum-seeker. The adjective, that politicians want us to associate with hate and mistrust, creeps into their identity until they stop seeing themselves. Thousands, millions are trapped in a futureless vacuum, unable to dream or escape. Youth commit suicide, elderly live out their last days removed from their families and loved ones in a foreign land that rejects them, disease takes hold of their minds and bodies.

For those of us witnesses to the dehumanisation of millions of people, it is also painful. We like to think that we are making a difference, and we probably are, but the sense of impotence and feeling of frustration begin to make their way to our hearts. Sometimes it is difficult to get up in the mornings. Most nights it is difficult to sleep. These people have names and faces, Murtaza, Nahid, Qasem, Nazanin, Shafie, Abdi Fatah, Marwan, Rodan, Maryam, Nada, Zahra, Sharifah, Shomaila. If only some of them got angry at me for this gross injustice, it would help to see some anger, I would understand their anger. Instead I hear their hearts break a little more, I watch the pain in their eyes, “It’s ok” they tell me when I say they will probably never be resettled and the miserable life they are leading has no end “I understand. It’s not your fault”.

No. It is not my fault. Neither is it theirs. And still, we are caught up in this senseless cycle of pain and darkness, of injustice and unjustified hate for a socially constructed and politically charged ‘problem’ that remains largely unknown, foreign and distant only because we let it so. “It is not my problem” I hear you say “why should I worry about others when I have my own problems to worry about?”

Because when you fail to realise that your indifference contributes to the spreading of darkness, that your inaction validates injustice and hatred, you are setting the conditions for the future your children and my children will inherit. A future devoid of love and kindness, and filled instead with ignorance and hatred. You become a threat to all of our futures.

Because whether you like it or not, our lives are linked, and our futures are connected. We live in a globalised world in which your decisions today can have an immense impact on people you may never meet, but who are not different from you or me. Because even if you want to think about it selfishly, you want to contribute to a world where your own future generations can live in safety and dignity. Your apathy is not isolated from the development of societal values.

I invite you to see what I see, to share my joy and my frustration. And I wish you courage, for you will need it.

Look Beyond Borders

The DNA Journey

What happens when we stop putting people in boxes?

I Hear You

Through Refugee Eyes

Picture credit: 3dman_eu /Pixabay

The Lost Food Project

Finding Food A Home. This was the objective of a dream that turned into a movement improving the lives of many in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A dream that started with a few trolley loads of food destined for the rubbish.

In September, 2015, the then UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon highlighted that “More than a third of all the food produced worldwide – over one billion tonnes of edible food each year – goes to waste. That is shameful when so many people suffer from hunger”. This is particularly true in Malaysia, where roughly around 3,000 tonnes of edible food is wasted every day. This is enough food to feed half a million people, in a country where many go hungry.

If that wasn’t bad enough, food waste also happens to be the largest contributor to solid waste in Malaysia and the greatest source of harmful greenhouse gases in the country.

My friend, Suzanne, a determined British expat living in the same condominium as me in Kuala Lumpur, is the person behind the dream, the movement, and today, the reason why many vulnerable people are able to receive food regularly. By bringing together a team of passionate volunteers, Suzanne’s Lost Food Project is collecting enough food for thousands of meals every week.

Her amazing drive to make a difference meant that the children and youth I was working with at a local NGO were able to eat healthily, thanks to The Lost Food Project’s weekly deliveries. In turn, we were able to allocate our scarce financial resources to other priorities such as health and education. Every week, carloads of food would be brought by volunteers, and every week our school children could have fresh fruit and vegetables otherwise not available to them. The food was also allowing these children to be able to focus and perform better at school than they could on empty stomachs.

In less than a year of operations, The Lost Food Project keeps growing and Suzanne keeps coming up with innovative ways to raise awareness and advocate for policy change (watch this space!). Today the Lost Food Project comprises a huge team made up of conscientious supermarket owners, policy makers willing to think of alternative ways to deal with society’s problems, and an incredible pool of talented and skilled volunteers from all corners of the world who help make Suzanne’s dream happen in Kuala Lumpur. Everybody working together, every week making a difference. As always, I am humbled by the impact of our efforts when we come together, our determination to share and improve the conditions of those less fortunate than us, and the different ways that we can help preserve our beautiful planet.

If this is something that resonates with you and you would like to learn more about the work that The Lost Food Project is doing in Malaysia, head to their website www.thelostfoodproject.org or find them on Facebook (@thelostfoodproject). They have opportunities for people to volunteer and ways that you can help them continue growing! Donations can be made via Simply Giving – www.simplygiving.com/Social/thelostfoodproject

Don’t fight fire with fire

“Treat people how you want to be treated”, is drilled into us when we are young. This is easier said than done when things get a little heated or when someone rubs you the wrong way. It is our default nature as human beings to be kind and compassionate, but what happens when we come up against that rude person who cuts in front of us in a line, or that colleague who talks about us behind our backs or worse still, someone who perceives to threatens our very own safety?

During these testing times, it is far easier to slip into combative mode. To return the hostility, rather than to take a deep breath and come at the situation with warmth and a desire to understand where the other person is coming from, or what they may be going through. Coming at a hostile situation with empathy and warmth, has the power to stop a person in their tracks. This unexpected, and perhaps unnatural reaction has been scientifically proven to diffuse hostility and hate in the most precarious of situations.

This way of behaving, where instead of mirroring a person’s behaviour you attempt to do the opposite, has been termed non-complementary behaviour. The instinctual way of responding to someone who is kind, is to show kindness in return, and when someone is hostile or rude, generally we mirror this behaviour back as well.

The podcast Invisibilia highlighted three scenarios where non-complementary behaviour was used to ‘flip the script.’ One of the most remarkable stories came from a young boy who had been accused of being a terrorist from a young age in Denmark, and had reached a point where he thought “they called me a terrorist. I would give them a terrorist.” This is the most dangerous form of complementary behaviour, when we are labelling, or projecting our fears onto, others and they then become what we fear. It was through the actions of a thoughtful policeman who realised that if something was not done, many more young boys would be lost to fanaticism and started, although unknowingly, using non-complementary behaviour to bring the boys back from fanaticism. This action, which was at odds with the rest of Europe’s response, managed to save hundreds of boys and girls from being recruited to join the fight in Syria.

Just recently I travelled in Central and South America as an independent traveller. As a woman there are certain dangers we face more than men, especially when travelling, and in some of the countries I visited, the risks are heightened. I was warned by many people to reconsider visiting some places or to be weary of every person I made contact with. Admittedly, I was often concerned, but every time I was in a taxi by myself or feeling insecure, I would talk to the person that I was projecting my fears onto and every time, over and over again, I was shown a beautiful soul who was just going about their daily life. They were simply going about their routine, trying to earn a living, providing for their family and within that routine, were willing to show me kindness and respect when I showed it to them. Obviously, I took precautions and would never walk alone at night, or in areas that I had been warned against going to by locals, and I mostly travelled by day, but the overwhelmingly positive experiences I had were not down to luck. I treated people with compassion and empathy. I didn’t behave like they were trying to rip me off, attack me or were someone to be fearful of.

Before I made my mind up about what type of person I thought they were, I let them show themselves to me. I was curious and open. I made sure my behaviour and response was based on facts, rather than speculation. I am by no means suggesting that there are not people to be weary of or avoid, or that there are not times that you should stand up for yourself. What I am suggesting, however, is that when your mind is racing about what might be, take a breath and see what your gut is telling you. Is this person really someone to be weary of, or hostile to? Or, can you go against the grain, and muster up some empathy to come at the situation with a different response than the one you are instinctually programmed to have, and see what may happen as a result?

Always being in a state of empathy and compassion is difficult. But when we are able to come at an aggressive or hostile person with anything but what they are showing, we have the power to change the script.

In these times, more than ever, there are difficult conversations being had around the dinner table or at the water cooler. People we hold dear may have completely different views from us on how the world should be responding to changes in the environment, the refugees crisis, challenges to women’s rights, the economy… the list goes on. Do we want to have hostility beget hostility, or do we want to give people the benefit of a doubt? Can we choose to respond differently, give the other person a chance to calm down and see how they respond to non-complementary behaviour?

Being kind in the face of rudeness, loving in the face of hatred, isn’t easy. But who said anything worthwhile comes easy? A more loving, accepting and compassionate world is one I want to live in. So even if I have to go against my instincts to ensure this and be kind, when I would normally see red, I’m willing. Are you?

By Sherona Parkinson ♥

 

Teach Love. Teach Kindness.

 

I teach, which in essence means I am amongst those who will one day inherit all we say and do today. I feel the immense power of my words and actions every single day and I am constantly reminded how simple acts of kindness can truly change lives.

With Valentines Day around the corner, I thought about how I could uniquely impact on the teaching staff at my school this year. Teachers give so much and I wanted to thank them for the roles they play, but also allow them to witness how easily love and kindness spreads when you take a moment to really feel the love around you. Sometimes we forget in our busy days how very beautiful an environment we work in.

The 14 days of love and kindness campaign was born. An anonymous campaign using simple tools: a chalkboard and chalk in the corner of our staffroom. Each day a new message on the chalkboard would greet the staff as they gathered for the morning meeting. Each day the message was accompanied by something special on a small table (marshmallows for a ‘mallow weekend’, recycled jars with flowers to take home and filter coffee) and each day I felt my heart grow in love as I saw the impact such simple actions were having on the morale of our staff.

One of the best moments was when another teacher approached me asking how she could get on board the campaign! She teamed up with two other teachers to make notes and attach sweets for each teachers’ pigeonhole.

The love began spreading!

This is what some teachers had to say when asked how the campaign had impacted them:

Grade 1 teacher: ‘I felt inspired to be more thoughtful of others.’

Grade 4 teacher: ‘It created a greater awareness of each other and promoted acts of kindness towards each other. The corner added warmth to the staff room and one was curious to know what the next day’s display/saying/call to action would be.’

Grade 12 teacher: ‘It meant a great deal to me to see a little message of encouragement every day-filled up my love tank!’

Grade 8 teacher: ‘THAT corner … made me think twice about why I felt mad about certain situations and individuals and made me realise it’s so easy to feel anger and hold grudges… however, it’s such a gift to move past that and offer kindness instead.’

At the end of the 14 days I felt hopeful. I felt the weight of the current political climate lift off my shoulders. It is possible that a heart full of love is stronger than all the hate. It is not impossible that we are able to change lives by simply being kind.

If this is the impact one simple campaign had on a room full of teachers, imagine what we can do to make this world a better place!

We are the future and it looks bright because we Just Love!

By Chay B.

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The flowers and the candles will protect us.

You have probably seen this before, but watch it again, through the eyes of today, and then we’ll talk about it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xkM-SDNoI_8

Do you know why he’s right? Why this father is in no way lying to his child to protect him?

Because the flowers and the candles are love and community materialized, and if he wants his son to be safe, if we want all of our children to be safe, love and community are the only things that can ever do that. Fear and hate will try to convince you that they are the ones for the job, but in addition to making you feel awful, they’re also not useful.

Granted, fear might be handy in getting you to jump out of the way of a speeding car or such, but hate is just utterly useless, and neither will do you any good at all in analyzing the more complex parts of the world around you, which is what is needed to truly protect you. Your intellect will always do a much better job at that.

Importantly, choosing love and understanding over fear and hate does not mean to abstain from opposing threats to your existence, it means to oppose those threats without fear and hate, and thereby having a much greater chance of succeeding, as you are fighting more level headed. And also, if you fight in hate, you leave a trail of hate behind, this time directed at you, and then you never won at all, you were only buying time.

February 14th is a day of love in many parts of the world, and while it might feel mediocre to buy flowers, send cards, and have candle light dinners when the world seems to be on fire, it’s not. Love is not mediocre, and hence acts of love, whatever shape or form they might take, are not either. Actually, we need to love and take care of each other now more than ever, because to choose love, and fight for love, in the times we are facing, takes brave and strong souls, and it’s exhausting.

Fill up. Refuel. Love and be loved, and then keep on not hating, not fearing, and thereby keeping us safe.

We have the flowers and the candles, and we have each other.

No ignorance, no fear, just love

“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, 
and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they 
lack understanding” – Albert Camus

Ignorance is truly evil. It allows people to believe in myths and legends. It leads to the construction of narratives that serve to divide, to fear and disrespect all that is unknown. It makes us dehumanize those that we perceive as too different, or too distant. It turns lies into “common knowledge”.

Ignorance makes for bad and dangerous decisions, and helps to perpetuate oppression and justify power politics that serve to exclude and divide societies and families. Ignorance feeds fear, and fear feeds ignorance.

This is why we must take action to protect our civil rights. These rights, won on the back of great suffering, protect us from ignorance. These rights encourage us to love others as they are, to put aside socially constructed barriers, and to be kind to those we might perceive as different to us. These rights also place upon us all the responsibility to fight ignorance and seek understanding. Without these rights we are all poorer, weaker, more isolated, divided. The right to life, the right to equality, the right to non-discrimination, the right to health and the right to protection. Freedom of speech, religion and political affiliation. The right to vote and the right to be heard. The right to protest and the right to hold our leaders accountable. Everywhere we look, from the US to Europe to Australia, ignorance has been taking over, feeding fear, giving way to an erosion of our civil rights.

We live in a time in which we need inspiration, to keep going, not to give up, to reach out to others and not take things for granted, to be more tolerant, to fight for a better future for ourselves and those that will follow. We have become perhaps complacent and comfortable, believing our rights can never be taken from us, and desensitised to the suffering of others, thinking we don’t have to fight for others to have the rights others fought for us to have. And who can blame us, with all the crises going on in the world? How easy is it to change the channel in the face of constant bad news? But we can’t change channels now. The future is in our hands. We tend to excuse our complacency by telling ourselves that “we are just one person, what can we do?” And we forget how effective and powerful we can become when we unite, when we work together, when we try to understand each other. We have to push forward, keep going. We have to. Why?

Because I don’t want to live in fear because of my ideas, or my gender. I don’t want anybody to live in fear because of his or her sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or the colour of their skin. I don’t want people to have to risk their life when pursing their dreams, whatever that may be. I want to be happy and, I want you to be happy, to reach your full potential, to enjoy your life to the fullest and be able to overcome your difficulties. Because when you don’t, we are all worse off. We are all in this together.

Don’t let ignorance, your own or others’, spread evil, promote misunderstanding and divide us. And let’s not teach our kids that when things get tough, we give up and wait it out, until things change on their own. We can’t afford to do that.

Let’s act.

♥      Let’s speak up, and reach out.

♥      Let’s be mindful of what we put out into the world, making sure that any news we share, or bring up in discussions, are valid. It doesn’t matter which side of the political spectrum you are on, ignorance is evil regardless.

♥       Let’s report any news that we see and perceive as untrue. This can easily be done on most social media outlets, and those reports are being seen and actions are taken, so this is an easy way for you to make a big difference.

♥       Let’s allow ourselves to hear things that might make us a little uncomfortable but open our eyes and our hearts. Let’s talk to people who don’t agree with us.

♥       Let’s educate ourselves, allow ourselves to learn from others, to embrace diversity, to allow differences to enrich our existence.

♥       Let’s put ourselves in others’ shoes, and respect their experiences of life.

♥       Let’s agree to disagree, be humble and learn that when we work together, and hold each other up, nobody falls. This means someone will have your back when you need it, too.

♥       Let’s not sit and wait for better news. It doesn’t matter how big or small your actions might feel, how insignificant or irrelevant. Everything counts, you count.

Let’s stand up to the evil that is ignorance, and fight for love, truth and justice for all. What you do, matters.

No ignorance, no fear, just love ♥

 

 

Our human spirit

If there is one thing I have learnt in my years working in the humanitarian sector it is the amazingness of the human spirit: our ability to get back up when knocked down, our determination to improve on ourselves and the world around us, our resilience, our desire to help each other, our will to resist and our ability to dream.

I have seen it over and over again in my work. Amazing stories of survival, of determination, of solidarity, of companionship, of struggle. When we decide to come together for one another there is nothing that we cannot do. We are creative, innovative, resourceful. We feed off each other and prop each other up. We can be a force to be reckoned with.

Refugees and asylum seekers have taught me not to take anything for granted. Nothing. Things can change quickly, beyond your control, dramatically, dangerously. And you have to run. It is a basic human instinct, to survive, to connect and to re-build. Any of us could find ourselves in their shoes. And we, of course, would try everything possible to get ourselves, and our families, to safety, we would try to ensure that we can access opportunities so that we can continue contributing to the societies we live in, to live with dignity. It’s in our nature.

To those of you out there feeling helpless, frustrated, angry, paralysed, depressed: we’ve got this. We are going to come together and we will do what we do best: survive, connect and re-build. In the last 24 hours we have seen an enormous outpouring of love and resolve, and it keeps growing. There are many initiatives around the world being put together, and they are going to be awesome. Because that is one thing we as humans do remarkably well: when times get rough, we don’t give up. The most beautiful and powerful stories, the ones that we love to watch at the movies, read in books, the ones that serve to inspire, are those of strength in the face of adversity, of love, of unity, of humanity above all else. The ones where we celebrate our human spirit.

To help you out, we will work to provide you with insights into different ways that we can all help spread love and fight hatred and injustice. Opportunities to learn from each other and to come together. Ways to channel our anger and feelings of hopelessness, and to advocate for our common human spirit.

 For now, here are some examples and we would love to hear of any other that you may have come across:

  • Together Rising – an initiative to support families with nowhere else to go

There will be a lot of refugees that will be stuck in their transit countries (countries where they have first arrived and where they register with UNHCR or where they are detained) unable to be resettled. It will be hard to improve their conditions as they are often not allowed to work legally or attend schools. To protect them from poverty, there are important initiatives focusing especially on community-based organisations:

The Refugee Learning Centre (Indonesia)

The Refugee Learning Nest (Indonesia)

Urban Refugees have Incubation projects that support refugee community-based organizations in transition countries. Disclaimer: they are currently running Incubations in Malaysia and I work for them, which of course means that I am biased, but it also means I have insight into their work and know it to be worthy of supporting.

The Pollination Project, provides seed funding to worthwhile initiatives and are based in the US.

The Fabric Social is a very worthwhile social enterprise in Australia. Social enterprises are generally a very good way to help communities as they offer opportunities for income generating activities that fall within legal frameworks. They promote dignity, independence and sustainability.

The Refugee Council of Australia are helping to set up a Refugee Youth Network in Malaysia, and APRRN are this year starting to support other refugee-led youth networks in the Asia Pacific Region. Your support and contribution would be very much appreciated. Connecting youth of refugee background that are disempowered, in limbo, unable to access counseling services, higher education, traineeships, is incredibly important if we want to see future generations rebuilding their countries and to avoid the risk of radicalization. There are thousands, and thousands of youth cut off from services in transition and destination countries, disconnected and feeling hopeless about their future. They are the future, and we need to invest our efforts in them. There are refugee youth networks in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Pakistan, the UK, Denmark, etc. Given the opportunity, many youth welcome being part of initiatives that foster unity, understanding and love. They need your help, to navigate this complex world that we live in, and we must listen to them.

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement also have a history of setting up community initiatives that support refugees and asylum-seekers in almost all countries in the world. Look up your national society and find out what needs they have and opportunities they might offer. Check out their work and see if it fits with what you might be interested in.

Are you aware of any initiatives or opportunities that you want to promote? Do you have any new ideas? Are you feeling a bit down and wanting to connect? Contact us and we will help making connections where we can. We are in this together.

Meet the Neighbors: Fern Lee

Welcome to planet Earth, a most wonderful neighborhood! Yes, it’s kind of small, compared to the Universe at large, but it boasts perfectly balanced air to breath, you can grow a vegetable garden like NOWHERE else, and there is even fresh water!

Another lovely feature is that the neighborhood is fairly diverse. I say fairly, because even though there are a great variety of races within the animal kingdom at large, the dominant species – humanity – only consists of one race, which has very little internal variation. Appearances do differ somewhat, but that’s it. Underneath their layers of culture and religious beliefs, human beings all function the same, and at the most basic level, they all strive for the same thing – a world where their children can be safe, fed and free (even though they regrettably fight terribly about how to work towards a future where that ideal can materialize).

My suggesting for you, as a member of this flourishing, albeit somewhat unstable, community, is to make sure you get to know your neighbors. This is a good idea for a multitude of reasons: First, it’s fun. Second, since your neighbors might not look like you, possibly will cook things that smell weird to you, or talk in a language you don’t understand, they might make you feel insecure, or uncomfortable, or worse. This HAS to be remedied, and the cure is, of course, to get to know them, so that instead of having someone unknown and scary next door, you have a friend. Third, I have no other ideas on how to bring about world peace. And I really, really want world peace.

With this in mind, please allow us to introduce you to your neighbors from around the world, a whole bunch of people who are pretty much exactly like you. We’ll start with Fern Lee, a Singaporean Lawyer, married to a British man, raising her family in California. She kindly offered to share her family traditions for Chinese New Year with us. It looks a lot like Christmas, the main family celebration where I come from. Families coming together, eating, caring for each other, remembering those we lost. Yup, we’re all the same.

 

Heralding in a New Year with food (and love)!

by Fern Lee

This year, Chinese New Year comes early, on 28th January. This year, we celebrate Chinese New Year in a different country. New culture, new people, new life.

But Chinese New Year isn’t the main event for me. I always enjoyed Reunion Dinner best, the night before Chinese New Year where the whole family come together to sit down for one last meal before the new year starts, to remember the year that has gone by. The house will have been swept clean, decorated with brightly coloured items for good luck, and flowers, red packets (ang pows) and oranges filling up every corner, ready for guests. Foods that signify luck and unity will be eaten that night, and cooked lovingly.

This year, I am cooking up a storm. I message my parents pestering them for recipes that are too hard to cook, too soon forgotten. Mine is a Peranakan family, from the Straits of Malacca, or Straits-born Chinese as we are called. The recipes are complicated, dishes often taking days to make, but the food is delicious. I feel very privileged to have these recipes. I have tried these dishes in the rare restaurant I’ve managed to find them in, in Malaysia and Singapore, and my mother’s, aunt’s and grandmother’s recipes are still the best, improved and tweaked with each generation. They are the ties that bind because the love that goes into cooking these dishes is unbelievable. You have to love the ones you cook for to cook these dishes! They link me to family and friends – living and dead. They, for me, hold the key to life and memories. And love.

This year, I am a jumble of emotions. I have lived away from my family now for 12 years but have always returned to Singapore to visit during this time. Having recently moved to the Bay Area, I do not have the flexibility to return easily. So this year, I will be away from them.

2016 has also been filled with a number of deaths – we’ve lost many close relatives and friends. It seems a good time to remember them, as Chinese New Year (and the Reunion Dinner) draws close. This year, we remember Third Uncle, First Eldest Cousin, Po Po, and George our beloved dog. In a way, Reunion Dinner is, for me, a time of mourning too, as we remember those who have passed and the absence they leave in our lives.

So Reunion Dinner this year is poignant – lots of changes, lots of lessons to be learnt. A time of reflection for the year that will be gone, and further planning for the year ahead.

This year I am cooking up a storm because I remember the ones who have died, how much I miss them and what foods they loved to eat. I am cooking up a storm because I too remember the living, what foods they like to eat, what they will be doing in preparation for the coming year. My link to my loved ones is through their stomachs and taste buds and preferences. The daily search for the best foods, best meals, best restaurants is for me a never-ending quest of love and camaraderie amongst loved ones, near and far.

I am privileged and very, very blessed to have so many people in my life, people whom I love and who love me. This year, I have new friends coming for Reunion Dinner and I am cooking up a storm.

Happy Year of the Rooster! Wishing everyone good health for the coming year.

Fern Lee

Fern is a writer, speaker, legal consultant, mother, wife, traveller, supporter of animal and human rights and observer of cultures. She writes about her observations of the different cultures she has lived in and the quirks she notices. Originally from Singapore, Fern has lived in Britain and now California. She has written a number of blogs about her travels, her most recent being From London to Californiahttp://fromlondontocalifornialive.blogspot.com/. She hopes to return to legal consultancy work soon.

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Brainstorming

I think you are reading this blog because you have concerns about where the world is heading. I also think there is a voice inside you saying that you need to take action, that you are needed for something, but perhaps you are not sure what to do next?

To help you get going, may I suggest a brainstorm? To be honest, I think your mind is probably storming a bit already, so why not make use of it? Harness the energy of the storm, if you will?

The idea of brainstorming is to let your mind speak its piece with as little interference from the outside world as possible, and without judgment. You do this by writing a keyword in a circle in the middle of a paper, and then you let your mind wander free, and write whatever associations to the key word that you come up with in smaller circles, branching out from the big one. After a while, you have a mindmap – an idea of what your own thoughts on a certain subject are. You then clean this map up into clearer areas of interest, or questions, and you make a plan.

Your center circle might be Love, Our future, What can I do?, or whatever you want, really. Then try to let go, and just let your pen follow your mind. You might be surprised. You might have expected to write about women’s rights, but end up focusing on the environment, or vice versa. You might end up with ideas that are on a smaller scale, or a larger scale, than you thought you would, or it might even turn out exactly as you expected. But the point is, if you try to relax and go with the flow, you might find out what your true calling is, and that is immensely important.

Why? Because for you to be passionate, and brave, and persistent, this needs to be about YOUR questions, YOUR answers, and a path that YOU truly believe in, and while you always need to be on love’s side, you can’t fight ALL the battles. You need to feel focused, empowered and energized, not shattered and desperate, because we have a long way to go.

Focusing your energy and talent will not only help save the world, it can also save your sanity. When frustration, fear or even desperation set in, instead of being overwhelmed by the struggle to solve all the issues at hand simultaneously, you need to have your mission clear, so that you can focus that energy and get to work.

So get pen and paper, sit down, and decide what will be your battleground.

Love will win, but she needs you in her army.