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Monday, March 13, 2017

Living Loving and Learning the Meaning of "Honour"

Every yr i choose a word that i want to mark that particular yr with. Last yr my word was "fortification" and i made a focus to fortify myself in every aspect of life e.g. relationships, spiritually, mentally, emotionally

So after prayerful consideration, the word for to mark this yr is "honour". And i want to make the goal of this year to not only honour everyone and everything that has been placed in my world but to learn what it means to honour.

According to the merriam webster dictionary, the definition of honour is this:

  1. 1a :  to regard or treat (someone) with admiration and respect :  to regard or treat with honorb :  to give special recognition to :  to confer honor on
  2. 2a :  to live up to or fulfill the terms of <honor a commitment>

We can bring honour into every area of our lives. For the purposes of this blog I'm gonna focus on bringing honour to relationships and what that looks like from a practical standpoint. It became my hearts quest to bring this very definition of honour into my dearest relationships. To regard and treat my loved ones with admiration, respect and give special recognition. Also to become a person who lives up to and fulfills my words and commitment to them.

The idea seems to be embraced by a majority of cultures in the world except the western culture where it is all about my rights and my mood and what i feel. In the middle east both ancient and modern times now they honour a guest by taking the fattened calf and using it for their meal. This would have been the calf they have been putting all their time, money and resources into. So in a sense by giving it to the guest as a meal they are in many ways giving this person a good chunk of their income.  The same concept plays itself out in many cultures where one is expected to give the best of yourself.

So how does honour play out in my relationships in a modern day culture? I obviously don't own livestock that I've been fattening up to make for dinner when my friend comes over. The good news is that one doesn't need a fattened calf to show honour.....PHEW.

Making Love to Montreals Tango Scene

Montreal seduced me....she had me eating out of the palm of her hand the moment i touched down in Trudeau international airport. Not only did she seduce into the kitchen of Robin des Bois peeling potatoes as a volunteer, she seduced, me onto her beautiful wooden dance floors. It was on those floors that i began making love to Montreals tango scene.

Deep down in my heart i knew that a return to Canada would also mean a return to tango. It also made me abit nervous because breaking into a tango community can be extremely difficult. Locals who have been dancing with each other for yrs may prefer to dance with their buddies that they are comfortable and familiar with. It can result in a new comer sitting on the sidelines all night watching everyone else on the dance floor.

But nevertheless i decided to be brave and see where things would take me so i found a reputable tango school nearby and showed up at a practica on a snowy Sunday afternoon. I had no idea if anyone would talk to me or dance with me. What wound up happening no one could have predicted.

After sitting around for abit and watching others dance, i decided to chat with the people that run the studio. They welcomed me warmly and gave me info on their classes and events. They even told me about a promotional deal that was running on Tuango where i could get a card for 10 lessons for the price of 24 dollars. 84% discount off the price of normal classes.

At that moment i was thinking how wonderful it was that even if nobody dances with me at least i got a nice chat and info about a deal on lessons. Little did i know that by the end of the practica i would not only get asked to be danced with but i would also end up leading as well. My level of tango is just enough that I'm getting to the point of being the leader and not just the follower.

Chinese new yr good fortune must have smiled on me because shortly after someone looked at me and asked to get on the dance floor. I enthusiastically accepted and we ended up dancing very well together. Not long after that a girl who was new to tango chatted me up and i ended up being a lead for her on the dance floor and giving her practice in tango basics.

Little did i know that my beloved tango skills would crossover and be a great asset when i dove headfirst into the world of salsa for the first time. My 10 class pass i bought also applied to drop in classes of salsa run by the same school. I found that from dancing tango i have a natural ability to read a dance partner and be able to anticipate and flow with whatever move is coming next.

When Montreal is making love to me tango style it is reflective and about intimacy and connectivity. When the city makes love to me salsa style it is rhythmic and high energy. But either way my love making with the city never ends.....


***out of respect and gratitude to all the places I've danced at in Vancouver, Victoria, and Montreal....I've put their links below FYI  (vancouver) (Montréal) (victoria)

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Weaving Hope and Prosperity One Basket at a Time in the Artesanal Market of Chino

Of all the many excursions available to visitors of Tahuayo lodge, there is one that has a deeper more meaningful history behind it......the Artesanal Market.  Here you can buy handmade crafts from the women of Chino village. During my stay at Tahuayo there was a journalist there who went to the village with Dolly Beaver interviewing these women and getting their stories.

In order to launch the artesan market these women had to learn how to make crafts and take lessons.  They would return late to their homes after taking these classes and their husbands thought they must be prostituting themselves and would beat their wives, not believing that she was simply taking a class.  Many of these women would show up at classes with bruises and strikes on their bodies.

It is also important to understand that in this culture women did not have alot of opportunity career wise. I found out that it wasn't uncommon in previous generations for girls to become pregnant at 13 yrs old simply because there was no other life for her other than to have babies. My heart breathed a sigh of relief when i looked into the faces of my students and none of them had signs of pregnancy.

So for these women, selling their crafts was the first kind of financial freedom they have ever had. Pretty soon as they began making money from their crafts their husbands would ask for money to drink to which they said NO.  Finally they were able to take control of things and draw a line in the sand with just a little bit of economic prosperity.

Perhaps the most enduring symbol of womens empowerment is the Artesan Centre that stands in Chino village. On my first trip at my visit to the market it was housed in an old run down house made of wooden planks. However when i returned as a volunteer the Artesan Centre had been launched. They now had a beautiful housing just for the market for tourist to come buy handicrafts.

From what i was told Angels of the Amazon donated some money and each of the women contributed abit from their earnings and now the women have a place of their own where they can sell their handicrafts with pride. Basket by basket they began weaving hope and prosperity for their families.

Each one of these women were born to a generation where women were only good for making babies.  They endured beatings, bruising, and jeering from their husbands to break a cultural stronghold and belief that women had no power. And in the end they became the breadwinners and set an example to the next generation of what being a woman meant. These are the thoughts that echo through my mind as everytime i gently caress the image of a toucan that has been handcrafted with love onto a gourd bought from one of these amazing women of Chino village.....

Monday, February 27, 2017

Noshes of Philatrophy and Nibbles of Charity at Robin des Bois

RIDDLE: How do you learn french for free while making a difference at the same time in an atmosphere surrounded by delicious food?

ANSWER: by volunteering at non-profit farm to table restaurant Robin des Bois

My descent into this magical world where food and philatrophy began when i was in a little cafe doing research on where to find my next foodgasm. I happened to do a particular search for "farm to table" restaurants and Robin des Bois came up top of the list. Further research would reveal that there was something even tastier than just the food itself.

Robin des Bois combines food and philatrophy in a mouthwatering manner. Founded in 2006 it was the first of its kind in the world. The majority of the staff in both back room and front of the house are volunteers. 100% of all profits go to 4 different charities in the Montreal area helping with a range of things from providing free nutritious meals to needy, womens shelter, young homeless men etc.  I knew in a heartbeat that i was meant to sign up. They have a lovely system where you can go online and sign up for whatever available shifts on the calendar. 

***interestingly enough "Robin des Bois" means "Robin Hood" in english. This non profit restaurant was named after a heroic fictional figure that robbed the rich to feed the poor.

At my first shift in the back of the house of the restaurant, the staff couldn't have been more welcoming to someone who spoke little french and had never worked in a kitchen before. Whether i was slicing potatoes, peeling carrots, or weighing gorgeous chunks of poutine cheese  (I'll admit some of those chunks ended up in my mouth), they always took time to make sure i felt comfortable in whatever task i was doing. 

Working in the back kitchen also impacted me personally. I have always been empathetic to people in the service industry because i know they work hard. However the experience of being in the backroom doing prep watching the cook as well as doing the prep work myself deepened my level of empathy towards service industry people. As a result of this experience, the next time i go out to any place I'll want to tip more.

One morning as i was preparing to do a waitressing shift at the restaurant, i happened to check my phone and it had opened up notes of a sermon i had jotted down from my time in hillsong LA. Those words ran a sword thru the very core of my heart....

Do more than you are paid to do

Do more than you want to

Consume less than you desire to

Help more than you need to

Waste less time 

God time more than you are used to

-Brian Houston (global senior pastor of hillsong)

Amorous Alpacas

Amorous Alpacas