“Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.” ~ Mother Teresa
As a human being, with the unique opportunity of spending time on this small, spinning planet, I feel a deep desire to be of service while I am here. I want to leave things better than when I arrived. This is a tall order to fill and it can often leave me feeling lost and unsure about where to start. How do I, as a lone person, help to influence meaningful, positive change?
This quote from Mother Teresa is often a touchstone for me. Although it can be overwhelming to pinpoint how to make a momentous difference, it is relatively simple to identify small, daily acts of kindness and courage. These tiny acts often have an unexpected impact and cumulatively add up into something much bigger.
Today, I am showing up by voting. In April of 1917, B.C. became the fourth province in Canada to grant women the right to vote in provincial elections and to run for provincial office. The following year, the federal government in Ottawa passed similar legislation, enabling women to vote in federal elections and be elected to the Canadian House of Commons. It is a great privilege to have this right. It is one that many women fought for and I have a duty to exercise it.
Although it can sometimes feel like one vote is insignificant in the greater scheme of things, it is not. It is a powerful tool to wield. All of our voices count in a democracy. We decide who represents our values and our families. The government in charge does this through passing policy and law; they spend the tax dollars that we pay into the system to deliver the services we count upon every day. If we do not show up, we are effectively silenced. When we place our vote, it is like adding a single drop of water into a collective wave. Before we know it, it transforms into a tsunami of change. We can do great things together, one small act at a time.
I love fall; the hues of red, orange and yellow leaves: the crisp air and re-emergence of warm jackets and woolen hats. I enjoy the playfulness of Halloween and the quick ball change into holiday sparkle: colourful lights illuminating dark neighborhoods and parkways.
I look forward to the month of December: making cookies and crafts; festive gatherings; meals shared with friends and family; the winter fair at school; decorating the tree; and singing carols. I deeply value the opportunity to spend quality time with the people I love and with my community: making memories together. For me, it is a season to foster connection and friendship, and to express gratitude.
To keep closer to this intention, I made the decision to move away from gift giving for the adults in my life a few years ago. I now choose two causes close to my heart and I donate the money that I would normally spend on gifts, in their names. I ask them to do the same for me. This year I chose the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust and the Environmental Working Group.
For the kids in my family, I like to buy hand-made gifts created close to home. We are really lucky to have some fantastic local fairs that run at this time of year in Victoria. One of my favourites is the Owl Fair. It is a carefully curated gathering of Etsy artisans who make beautiful and unique things. When I pick up each piece, I can feel the love and care that has gone into its making. I had a great time exploring the tables today; and I came away with a bag full of treasures for all of the little ones in my life. Each gift makes me smile and I am excited to give them.
Another highlight for me at this time of year is the celebration the Winter Solstice. This is the shortest day and longest night of the year. It also officially marks the beginning of winter. I like to spend some time reflecting on the year that has passed and the seeds of intention that I would like to plant for the year ahead. It helps to create clarity and focus; and I like the idea of acknowledging the changing of the seasons with this small tradition.
What are your traditions at this time of year? How do you like to make memories with those you love?