At this time of year, we stop as a family to take part in Remembrance Day services to give thanks and absorb the sacrifices that were made on our behalf. It s humbling to consider what was done for us, and sad that in our remorse and commitment to never repeat the damage, we find the world in deeper turmoil than it s ever been. The ongoing wars, slaughter and famine overwhelm me to such a point that I have a hard time watching the news. The way I see it, we have two choices: bury our heads in the sand and declare (with a mouthful of sand), Whew. Thankfully, that s not my problem. Or, we can commit to each doing our part, in any way that we can; start each day bent on slaying the world with random, and perhaps senseless, acts of kindness.
So what do I do? A portion of proceeds from the sale of my book goes to World Vision to help those less fortunate. (Cue shameless promotion on my part and senseless act of kindness on yours& to order my book, visit my website at www.janita.ca.) I truly believe that the lineup of people willing to help should always be longer than the lineup of those in need. Wouldn t it be cool to go on a site like World Vision and see snapshots of people eager, ready and willing to help rather than photo upon photo of people who need a helping hand? I d like to see that change in my lifetime.
Whether it s helping those in need of life s basic necessities, or those battling a ghastly disease, I look for ways to be of assistance, often going to extremes. In case you haven t noticed, I m not one to hold back when it comes to sharing my thoughts, loosely translated in my case to Running of the Mouth. Three years ago, in an effort to help raise money for cancer research through the Terry Fox Foundation, I agreed to have my head shaved as part of The Great Canadian Head Shave. In all started with a little wager. A group of people at work were looking for volunteers, as they needed five employees to participate in order to qualify for our corporation donation match. There was only a week left until the big event so I told them if they could raise $10,000 over the course of the following five days, then my straw bale would hit the floor. Knowing this was a stretch goal, and also knowing there was enough people who would love to see me bald, I laid out this proposal fully aware of the inevitable outcome. I was also painfully aware of the following:
I would not look like Demi Moore.
I would bear a striking resemblance to Beaker from the Muppet Show. That, or the Swedish Chef; neither instilled a great sense of confidence.
In the end, I d rather have my friends and family than my hair, so ultimately the decision was an easy one.
In the end, through very generous donations from the extraordinary people I work with, our small group raised over $17,000 in one week, which amounted to over half of what was raised in the entire city of Regina for this event. Do you ever feel like selfless acts are actually quite selfish in nature because you feel so darn good after helping out? Friends, I was flying. I was also looking like Beaker. So I guess I was a flying Beaker.
With that said, could I be doing more? Yes. I need to teach my children about the true freedom that comes with giving. I need them to understand the difference between a need and a want and ensure that I m instilling these values at a very early age, so that it becomes a foundation to their character. And most importantly, I need them to know that itallstarts with them. When it comes to something as important as the state in which we leave the world, there s no passing the buck. My parents have taught me that giving back to others is one of the greatest legacies we can leave. They ve taught me that life is one big board game in that you get your chips, play a good game and pass it on. Never take more than you give and in comparison to the rest of the world, we ve been given so much.
I ll leave you with this quote, which was inscribed at the tomb of an Anglican bishop at Westminster Abbey:
When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world; as I grew older and wiser I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change my country, but it too seemed immovable. As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me. But alas, they would have none of it! And now I realize as I lie on my deathbed, if I had only changed myself first, then, by example, I might have changed my family. From their aspirations and encouragement I would have then been able to better my country, and who knows, I might have even changed the world.
Kind of makes you want to take a crack at playing a better game, doesn t it?
JanitaVandeVeldegrewuponafarmnearMariapolis,Man.SheholdsabachelorofsciencedegreeinagriculturaleconomicsfromtheUniversityofManitoba,andhasworkedforafinancialinstitutionsincegraduating.ShelivesinRegina,Sask.,withherhusbandRoddyandtheirchildrenJack,IslaandJames.Herfirstnovel,PostcardsNeverWritten,wastherecipientoftheSaskatchewanReader sChoiceAwardandalsolistedbyCBCasoneofthetopfunnybooksin2009.ShedonatesaportionofproceedsfromthesaleofherbooktoWorldVisiontohelpthoselessfortunate.Formoreinformation,ortoorderherbook,visitherwebsiteat www.janita.ca