A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

You Give, I Give, We All Give!

"Your life is all variables and no constants," a friend said to me today, appealing to the math major in me. Except for the lovely people in my life and idealistic area of work I am passionate about and determined to somehow earn a living doing, there are no constants here, it's true. I am very excited to be starting to use my brain productively, though! It's a bit hard to believe it took this long to even find suitable volunteer work. Oh, Australia and your delightfully slow pace. I'm beginning work on two projects this week, in talks for a few more after Christmas, and have my name on a temp agency list just in case. Money will follow, I have faith, and in the meantime I am blessed by Aussie generosity with free places to stay, and even some food and keys to local dumpsters, and positive sentiment, as in, "Wow, that's your line of work? Boy, the world really loses out when you're between jobs." (Photo: handmade chocolate-y window display)

Project #1 involves stopping child sex trafficking on the demand-side, through a documentary about the approximately 2 million children trafficked for sex work every year, mostly through Southeast Asia and Australia. The Advocate to Eliminate Team is producing & distributing Corridors of Children, watch the trailer here. I'm working to develop a training strategy and materials for educating the public and spreading the word through the tourism/hospitality industry, the legal/government prosecution/enforcement side, and critical mass/university/public forums angle. We are looking for 30,000 adult names to match the 30,000 child sex workers in the Thailand alone. Please add yourself to the list, take a stand & pass it on!

Project #2 involves advocacy work with In Good Faith, for victims abused by priests in the Melbourne diocese, where the church is not appropriately, nor legally, responding to perpetrators and compensating victims. Example: 300 substantiated allegations of sexual abuse since 1996, and only 1 defrocking. Stories of burning evidence, advising victims they don't need lawyers and forcing small settlements, not reporting crimes to police--in a word, appalling.

In sum, Australia, I really appreciate the hospitality and optimism about paid work opportunities, I appreciate the warm weather even though it doesn't feel to me like Christmas at 26C/80F, I appreciate the bike paths and lanes and lack of rain when pedaling around in a suit, I appreciate the hidden high-quality $5 lunch venues, and I appreciate all the kind people who meet with and call me offering an ear, share stories of their inspiring careers, as well as advice and contacts. I am not exaggerating when I say I have met roughly 100 people and emailed easily 300 in the month I've been here. "No one can say you're not enthusiastic," said one friend. "Do you go out at all?" asked another. No one can, and yes, I do a lot, though I can't be bothered to cycle half an hour away to first start salsa dance at 10 pm on a weeknight. Start something earlier, Melbourne, por favor. I am a healthier, happier me when I exercise a couple hours of cardio a day, do yoga regularly (slipping the past few days due to excess cycling, sorry shoulders!), and sleep with the sun. (Photo: street art attitude I'm aspiring not to have)

Sometimes one has to shift some of the variables into constants to promote stability and sanity, for reasons both sensible and silly, and even random. I've been asked so many times what I'm doing for Christmas, when I was concerned instead with sorting out where I would be sleeping the next night. Enjoying the journey, grasping at dreams, giving and humbly getting, and thankful for the ride. As Bette Davis said, "Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night." Yee-haw! (Photo credits to sneaky friend)

Posted byValerie at 1:45 PM 0 comments  

Patience, Ladybug

Wow, what a great CV/story. We're doing xyz. We wish we could use your skills, and have no openings at the moment. Abc would be a great person for you to meet.
The current chorus, followed by:
You'll find a job after the holidays, in
Jan or Feb for sure. The country shuts down now, everyone heads to the beach for Christmas and school holiday, and picks back up in mid- to late Jan.
I've just about met nearly everyone remotely in my field in Melbourne, and it's to the point that I'm starting to be referred in circles. Few new avenues left to explore without expanding out into other lines of work. Looking into volunteering in work I'm interested in part-time to start using my brain and get experience, and temping part-time in order to eat.
Now enter a potential job in US next fall, worth an interview for sure, since visa runs out next November anyway. (Photo: namesake Collingwood Cafe)
And then:
We have a job opening immediately that you'd be a great fit for. Interested?
In Washington DC, human right's work, opportunity to move up and run projects abroad in the future.
Result: Confusion.
My meditation today discussed the rocking chair test, thinking with your head or heart:
Imagine following a path your whole life, and sitting on a rocking chair in your old age, reflecting. Are you happy with the decision?
Is it a decision unveiling your highest possible destiny, or an easy, comfortable solution that fits into your outer life?
Someone said I'm juggling so many maybe-balls in the air, one's bound to hit me in the head. Sounds potentially painful, yet I'm sure the sentiment of whatever happens will be great, whether it's a US yes or maybe's here congealing into a yes. And "helpful" stories of someone taking 6 months to find volunteer work an hour outside the city are as helpful as a cancer patient being told, I knew someone with cancer, and he died.

Speaking of meditation, I've been yoga-ing and meditating mostly daily, which in addition to cycling is such a lovely mind and body-detox. I can't repeat enough how much I love non-driving cities. This year instead of a list of new years' resolutions, I'm compiling an annual (and even farther back perhaps) list of accomplishments, and a list of what I will let go and what I will call into my life. As my favorite healer said, What we seek seeks us, so your job is waiting. (Photo: surreal city art & architecture)

I'm keeping a gratitude journal and sending out notes, thoughts and energy of thankfulness. I can't afford to send bought presents, and this, at least, is personal. Last weekend I went on a (free!) meditation/yoga/qi gong/vegetarian/etc retreat for a day in the countryside. It was nice to escape the city, tree-ful as it is, to a place people grow their own vegetables again. Even getting dried spices (unground) from an Indian or Asian spice shop instead of the standard grocery store makes a huge difference in taste. Fresh food is more satisfying. I reckon (Australia speak) you eat less because it's so sumptuous & scrumptious you savor the splendid flavors. The meditation took up about half the day, maybe even 4 hours, and was not quiet contemplation but group Hare Krishna guitar-led chanting. I'm used to kinesiology, quiet contemplation, mindful yoga, and this was very different. Not quite my scene, though interesting.

I've been trying to meet a friend's sister since I arrived, and she wants to catch up Sunday next (2 Sundays from now). People ask what I'm doing to celebrate Christmas. I didn't even celebrate Hanukkah. I meant to go to an evening candle-lighting ceremony while it was monsooning (the 13-year drought is so over), and would've been stuck in the city waiting around for hours til then, so I went home and helped my hosts pack instead; they're moving house. Here's to being unable to plan, instead meditating in the moment.

What are you grateful for? (Photo: amusing & popular food shop at Melbourne Central Mall)

Posted byValerie at 7:37 PM 2 comments