suddenly

Addiction. | alltheamusement.com

This week, a woman lost her life. She was only 25 years old, and had been struggling for years with addiction, abuse, and homelessness.

Although this is about one woman, it is the story of many in our community and beyond. Those who’ve fallen through the cracks; those who have been ravaged by abuse, torment, and mental illness; those who have tried to find ways to cope and whose control has been lost to those efforts.

Her obituary read that she she died “suddenly.” This has been stirring in my head and my heart the past few days. So here I am, compelled to write a post about when “suddenly” isn’t so sudden.  Continue reading “suddenly”

Comfort Zones

the shelter | alltheamusement.com

Comfort Zones: we all have them, and often I feel like we’re conditioned to do everything in our power to not to step out of them. It takes a conscious effort, courage, and usually a great deal of time convincing others that what you’re doing is worth it. That it’s important. That it’s something you feel compelled to do.

For years I have had the desire to contribute to the community in a meaningful way and find a way to help others. And for years I have made every excuse to not act on that desire. “I have a full-time job,” “Maybe when life settles down,” “I’m already too busy and tired”… the list goes on. I think the real reason was this: I was scared.

Not only was I scared because I am an introvert, so the thought alone of building new relationships makes me feel anxious and drained, but I was also scared because I have spent my entire life trying to ignore social inequalities. I know they’re there, but I just didn’t want to truly see them.

Sure, when I was in highschool I would send money every month to a sponsor child in Africa, and I would donate my used clothes to the Good Neighbour Store and make monthly donations to United Way, with hopes that it would help make a difference. But I would also walk quickly by someone pan-handling. I’d park strategically as to not have to walk by them at all. I would try my hardest not to make eye contact, and if I did, I would smile, say, “No, sorry,” and turn my gaze back to the ground.

One of the most confusing things for me is that I can’t even explain this behaviour. Am I scared of them? Am I scared of the feelings they may insight: pity, anger, sadness, hopelessness? Did society condition me to be this way? And I think, most importantly, is how do I stop this and ensure that when I have kids, they have an open compassion and love for everyone, despite their life circumstances and challenges?

So I made the first step – I challenged my comfort zone. Last night was my first night volunteering at the Warming Room. Today, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on my experience. I would be a liar if I said it was easy. It wasn’t. I experienced fear and frustration. There was a moment that I thought I had made a mistake and was going to go home – to safety and comfort – with the reality and challenges of this ignored and marginalized population left behind me. Let me tell you, I am so glad I didn’t.

I saw companionship, gratitude, and hope. I saw dreams come to life on paper, heard laughter, and felt humbled from being a part of this space that provides safety and warmth to those who otherwise would not have that. Yes, there were times I had to remind myself of Rev. Christian Harvey’s words, “What can I do to show this person love?” but then there were the other times – like gathering around the table playing cards, or watching the guests and volunteers take pencil to paper and create beauty – that made me so grateful. I was even fortunate enough to be gifted an amazing sketched portrait that a talented guest did for me, which is now proudly displayed right next to me as I write this.

comfort zone | alltheamusement.com

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. ”

Lao Tzu

Take the leap and do something that is out of your comfort zone this week. The world will be a better place because of it.

xo Marie