Author Archives: laurabuckley

Passion is what I have. Challenges are what I seek. Success is what I deliver

You must be the change you wish to see in the world

During this season, as we celebrate Christmas, we are inundated with requests for charity.

When I think of charity I have some rather deeply personal views on this topic.  I am challenged by what charity means to me and what I do or don’t do about it.  We all have our own motivations for being charitable.  These may range from religious or spiritual beliefs held dear and close to heart, a general sense of benevolence, or a desire to make a difference in this world.

Charitable actions come in many different shapes, forms and varieties.  To some charity is generous financial contributions to organizations undertaking charitable work.   Others contribute to the community by preparing nutritious meals for those facing hunger when they, themselves, are living with limited means.  It could be the gift of time teaching a class for students in need of additional tuition.  Then there is the senior citizen I know who sits all year knitting wool beanies, despite her arthritis, for orphans in need of winter woollies.

I am humbled by the many examples of charity around me that I encounter on a daily basis.  I am blessed and inspired by people in my life who, I believe, are the epitome of what it means to be charitable.  You don’t talk charity, you live it daily in your lives.  You seek nothing in return.  You do not look for your name on a plaque placed prominently on [insert any donated object here].  You do not go about selective charitable donations to get a tax refund.  Charity is not a once off event on your calendar.  When you feed a hungry family you do so without fuss and bother, without alerting the media to your efforts.  Day in and day out, 365 days a year, you are tirelessly and selflessly giving of yourselves to others.

Personally, I understand charity to being committed to the continuous giving of oneself, in a meaningful way, to aid and assist others without expecting anything in return.

Okay, great, so I have developed my own understanding.  But having such a noble and lofty understanding is worthless without my own, personal, call to action.  Words without action are a waste of breath.  Until I get up, out of my comfort zone, and actively do something about my personal call to action I am wasting my time writing this article, not to mention wasting your time reading this.

So, I ponder more on this topic, and think of the words of Mahatma Gandhi:  “You must be the change you wish to see in the world”.  It all starts with me.  If I don’t want to see hunger in the world, for example, why am I not making an extra sandwich, when preparing my daily lunch, for the hungry person I pass on my way to work each morning?  Small example, but food for thought [no pun intended].

As I write this I am reminded of the article I wrote – Just for Today.  As I continuously seek to be a lifelong learner I need to challenge how I choose to live my life in order to grow and move forward as an individual.  So I challenge my status quo.  I have now added charity to my “Just for today” daily motivational.  As I step out into this unchartered territory I do not yet quite know how this is going to play out.  I know this, without taking the first step I’m never going to get anywhere, never move forward, never make a difference, and most certainly will never contribute to the change I wish to see in the world.

I dedicate this article to all the wonderfully inspirational people in my life who, without knowing it, challenge me to my core on this rather personal, and for some, sensitive topic.


Be the change you wish to see in the world

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura

 

Am I Homesick?

Often, in recent months, I’ve been asked if I am homesick.  Eight months ago we relocated to a different country, in the opposite hemisphere.   New home, new job, new culture, new language, the list goes on.  So am I homesick?  This begs the question of what it means to be homesick.  What exactly am I meant to be missing?  Why are some people around me expecting me to be miserable?

So I enquired what they expect me to be missing so much I’d be miserable over it.  The most common answer is I’d be missing my former home.  I find this surprising.  Yes, I miss family and friends and have to mention my little kitty, but my former home?  This makes me ponder what I consider to be home.  A house is just the brick the mortar it is made of.  But, what makes it a home?

As I look back on my life I’ve lived in some curious places and called them home.  On two separate occasions, my home consisted of a converted garage.  Once my home was a single room.  I’ve had a few apartments and an excessively large, free-standing house.  Then there’s my last home in South Africa which was a beautiful duplex which was “home” for nearly eleven years.  They have varied significantly in size, fittings, location, etc.  But I considered each and every one of them my home.

Home to me is where I find my peace and sanctuary from the world.  Where I relax.  A place where I can truly just be myself, even if that means walking around in my pyjamas at 2:00 pm.   Home is a place of comfort, love, and security.  It is where I have that feeling of “belonging”.  Home is where I “find” myself.  It’s not about the material things we fill the brick and mortar with.  Home is a feeling, an emotion.  A feeling of being content and at peace.

There’s the saying “home is where the heart is”.  If home is where the heart is, then by its most literal definition, my home is wherever I am.  Very true for me.  Whenever I’ve moved into a new abode I’ve moved my heart there – never leaving it behind in a previous home.  I’ve made each new place into my sanctuary and been at peace with whatever the circumstances may be.  I make the conscious decision to live in the moment, with what I have, and be thankful.  So I carry my decision with me to each new place to be called home.

Don’t get me wrong, I do hold onto the happy and comforting memories of each and every home I’ve ever had.  They ground me.

My feeling of “home” is the love, peace, joy and comfort I fill my home with.  I am blessed with being able to do this and am blessed to have the most amazing partner to do it with.

So, do I miss home?  Simple answer… No!  I am at home.

 

I am not homesick

 

Yours in lifelong learning.

Laura

Getting out of the box

For a long time I’ve had the terrible habit of putting myself, and others, into boxes.  Not physical boxes, but mental boxes, boxes that carry labels.  Oh I’m just a techie.  Or, he’s just a teller at the checkout counter.  Perhaps you have done the same at some point or another in life and can relate.  Recently I became acutely aware of this rather disappointing habit.

What happens when we put ourselves, or others, into boxes?  I have come to understand that by labelling, by putting into boxes, we rob ourselves of the opportunity to get to know and understand each person, including ourselves, as individuals.  Each of us has hopes and dreams.  I believe we all have hidden and uncovered talents.  I believe that labelling ourselves, and others, puts us at a distinct disadvantage in our interpersonal relationships.  It doesn’t matter if we are applying this to the relationship we have with ourselves, or the casual encounter we have with the person at the checkout counter.

We can take this one step further.  Have you ever had somebody introduce themselves using this as the opening part of their introduction:  “I’m just a…..”  Now how’s that for a label?  “I’m just a….” do we even hear what comes next or do we subconsciously place that person into the insignificant or unimportant box?  Can we honestly say that we take the rest of the conversation with that person seriously, or do they remain in our mental box?

Perhaps it’s time we start dismantling the boxes, removing the labels along with their negative connotations, and get to know each other as people, as individuals, and see the incredible wealth of talent in each other.  We all bring something unique to the table.  I firmly believe that the only way to do this is by removing our own labels first.  To label is to hold onto pre-conceived ideas.

I recently victimised myself and sabotaged my own performance by placing myself in a box and assuming a label – I am a technical support engineer.  I fix technical issues, that’s what I do.  The challenge facing me was a training workshop for sales people.  I wore my label and lived in my box, subconsciously telling myself that I would not pass the final grading let alone excel at it.  I wore my label so stubbornly that other delegates put me into the same box with the same label.   To my surprise I got more than just a passing grade.  It surprised the course facilitators too as I had let them subconsciously accept the box I’d placed myself so firmly in.  What if I had kept a more open mind going into the workshop?  What if I had more readily embraced the opportunity to learn and grow in uncharted territory?  Instead I trapped myself and hampered my own growth.  All my own doing.

So this brings me full-circle in this article.  I start with myself.  I need to consciously step outside of any box I may want place myself in.  I need to break down those mental labels I apply to myself.  If I don’t do this I will forever hold myself back and hamper my own growth.  If I don’t stop labelling myself how can I expect others to stop?

Getting out of the box

Yours in lifelong learning,

Laura