Sunday, April 24, 2016

6 Tips for an Ethical Spring Wardrobe

I don’t want to jinx it but I think spring might actually be here...
We haven’t had snow in over a week, the daily temperature highs are consistently above zero, and the world of Instagram is gushing over fresh greenery and little flower blossoms. Could it be we have officially survived another Winnipeg winter?

One trademark notification the nicer weather is here is how suddenly we all want to be outdoors! The only catch is, it isn’t really THAT nice outside yet, so what are we to do? We could layer up and hit the pavements, venturing into our dull and drab, dirty, and still dead looking city. However, a more common answer is go shopping! Spring weather brings out the "I have nothing to wear" mentality, which leads to the coveted ‘spring wardrobe’. After a winter of hiding indoors nothing says ‘welcome spring’ like new clothing-- and this new clothing often screams 'summer is coming!' while it adorns your 'summer has been gone waaay too long' pasty body.

The first signs of spring often leave us wanting to reinvent ourselves to reflect the rejuvenation that comes with budding leaves and rain showers. We are given a time in life where anything seems possible, where we can be anyone, where the winter melts away to reveal the new person we have become.

The 'spring wardrobe' often reflects the change of self. For us humans, a heavy sense of pride is put on our outward appearance—it’s the most basic way we represent ourselves to those we haven’t been able to communicate with. The classic 'first impression' is simply the outward reflection out of our heart in a way the world can see. We are beautiful and unique, and it’s at the break of spring when shake the dust off of colours, patterns, and our sense of who we are, and bring it to new life.

This whole ‘new spring wardrobe’ thing is something we will never get rid of so we need to find a way to make it ethical and sustainable.

First off, when you get the jitters in the warmer weather to go into all the cute stores selling spring radiance and summer whimsy of memories to come, take a moment and remember; you are a strong person who values human lives and believes every person should be treated fairly. 

Now, let's take a deep breath, remember spring has existed before, and let's go over my 6 tips for an ethical spring wardrobe.
.. And trust me, tip number 6 is super fun!

  • Tip One: Go through your closet and see what you already have that works for spring.

This step comes with a warning! Do not perform step one if you are currently feeling all sorts of lustful towards the latest prints, silhouettes, and trends. Doing so will just make you want to toss everything in sight and start over. 
One day, as you are casually folding laundry, decide to open up the closet and asses all the items available to you. Chances are, most of your wardrobe is spring appropriate. It is in this years hottest colour or fad silhouette? Maybe not. Is it still wearable? Probably—especially if it is still in your closet.  Chances are many of your items will still work if paired with different accessories or other complimentary items (which we will address soon! Keep reading!)

  • Tip Two: Make a list of anything you actually need.

The truth is, there may be an item or two you actually need. A light-weight jacket? A pair of casual runners? Currently, I am without a pair of flats. The pair I currently own are from years ago and are without support (which my feet can’t take these days) and are getting pretty tattered. My closet currently contains boots and heels—no sort of generic flat footwear for daytime strolls or hitting up festivals (or hot dog carts). It’s understandable to need a few items—clothing worn for years wears out or ends up not fitting quite right. Asses what you actually need and make a list! 

  • Tip Three: Source out what you need and purchase.

I use the phrase ‘source out’ because I don’t want you to go into the mall and grab whatever strikes your fancy of the latest trends. I want you to do a quick google search of “ethical and sustainable ________”. You fill in the blank of what you are looking to purchase. Options will pop up that will be good for your wardrobe and those making the item. 
*A little note, these items may be a little more pricey—which means you will want to make a smart decision when purchasing. Choose silhouettes, colours and styles that will last past this spring and summer. You want timeless, not on-trend-for-the-next-10-minutes.
*Another great place to source clothing from are second hand stores, a local shop that sells locally made garments, or even a friends closet!

  • Tip Four: Play Dress Up!

Take everything out of your closet and start playing around with what you own! If you’re like most people (myself, included), we are creatures of habit and tend to pair together the same ensembles time after time. Try on a skirt with your favourite top instead of jeans, wear a dress but throw a cardigan over top, play with accessories like hats and jewelry. Even something as simple as tucking in a shirt can add a whole new, more trendy look, to an outfit that may already be a staple in your closet. Playing around with what you have will help you realize your closet full of clothing is still wearable and still relevant.

  • Tip Five: Remember Summer is around the corner!

Before you go crazy buying ‘SPRING’ items, remember that in a couple months, summer will be hitting the shelves and you’ll find your closet lacking in the wardrobe department once again. Take this opportunity to find pieces that will work for both seasons! Tank tops can be paired with lighter weight cardigans, jeans can roll up, and booties work with just about any outfit.

  • EXTRA FUN PRO TIP 6!  Have a clothing swap!

If you have a number of friends all feeling the spring wardrobe craze, set a date for a clothing swap! Grab some wine and snacks, and invite your friends to come over, telling them to bring anything they’d want to get rid of! Shut the drapes, set out all the clothing, and shop through what everyone else wants to get rid of! You might find some amazing things you’ve been meaning to buy, and you’ll get try on fun silhouettes and prints with the help of friends who are honest with you-- not sales staff looking for commission. Donate any left over clothing to a women’s shelter or second hand store. I went to a clothing swap a few years back and left with an awesome maxi dress I still have!

I know I say it often but it’s so important—we vote with our dollars for the world we want to see! If you want to see a world where no one is a victim, where those making your clothing (and food, and electronics, and any other item you use) are treated fairly throughout the process, and where companies place more value on humans than on profits, shop smart! Shop ethical companies with standards in place so you know you're being an advocate for change with your hard earned dollars, shop second hand, shop local, shop your friends closets!

And with the money you save from completely re-buying your entire wardrobe, use that cash to buy a stranger a coffee, donate some cash to a local animal shelter, or buy some plants for your living space. Spring brings about that feeling of unstoppable reinvention; a desire to create love and light, breathe in the enchantment of fresh air, and feel unstoppable —be that love and light and spread it wherever you go. You’ll feel happier than any brand new spring wardrobe could ever bring!

For more info on creating an ethical wardrobe—




Sunday, March 20, 2016

Ethical Easter

"Hundreds of thousands of children labour in the West Coast of Africa to produce cocoa, the main ingredient in chocolate. Specifically, over 40% of the global supply originates in the Ivory Coast, where the US Department of State reports that over 109,000 children work under the worst forms of child labour. Of these 10,000 are victims of human trafficking or enslavement. Children working in cocoa production labour long hours and are often required to use dangerous tools. They are frequently exposed to toxic pesticides in the fields that create health issues and are forced to walk long distances in extreme heat. Furthermore, because these children work long hours they are denied access to an education." -- From Free2Work.org 
It may have been a few years since working with Not For Sale in the seemingly always foggy and slightly chilly Half Moon Bay, but the knowledge I learned while memorizing statistics and information from presentations for the Not For Sale Tour will pop up in my head from time to time. These fleeting moments of information overload present themselves at the most inconvenient of times…often when I don’t have the power to change anything, even when I wish I could.

These moments occur most often at work.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with where I work, I work at an adorable boutique bakery whose delicious treats are absolutely incredible, and whose instagram feed, social media marketing, and overall aesthetic is unparalleled by any other bakery. Sticking to brand name products ensures we provide the best of the best to our customers, who come in knowing an Oreo does actually taste different from ‘cookies and cream’ knock-off cookies.

It’s actually very interesting when you think about it—an entire culture where we’ve been sold the ideal that brand names mean better quality and a better product. Where even the name of a product alluring to a brand more commonly known is what customers will buy. They don’t want something that’s just chocolate peanut butter—they want something chocolate peanut butter cup (which is a whole blog post all on it’s own!).

This brings me to where my heart aches at a busy time such as Easter.
As someone who is continually striving in my personal and outside-of-my-day-job-professional life to not give in to the societal claims of excellence from brand names and their fa├žade of high end living, but am trying to live in an authentic way which showcases an alternative life of ethical purchasing and living, it can be hard to work where Mini Egg everything is a necessity.

So where does that leave me?
First off, it leaves me to admit that I do enjoy sneaking a mini egg (or five) when they are sitting in the kitchen. They are so darn delicious!
But more importantly, it leaves me exactly where it leaves you—looking for other ethical options for my upcoming Easter celebrations because there will always be situations in life we can’t control—which means we need to appreciate the extreme value in situations we can control, and not squander them when they reveal themselves.

SHARE this image and show you plan to have
an Ethical Easter!
This Easter I want to encourage you to make a stand for the rights of human beings around the globe in going above the cute packaging, clever marketing, and adorable egg and bunny shapes that overtake your senses in stores. I want you to commit to purchasing ethically made chocolate and candy.

While a task like this does get easier every year, it is still a leap away from being as easy as it is to head into your local super retailer, and buy some cheap priced chocolate from the shelves while also purchasing your vegetables and cat food. As you swim through an ocean of rich, milky, indulgences in Superstore, Walmart, Shoppers Drugmart, etc. do you see a Fair Trade option? And I mean a real fair trade option—none  of this Cadbury-providing-Dairy Milk-as-their-ONLY-Fair-trade option? Do you see chocolate eggs in festive packaging made by a company that is dedicated to caring about those that work to get the cocoa from the field to the production line? Chances are, in your average retail store in Canada, these particular items are not lining the shelves in mass quantities.

It's going to take time, effort, and research to find chocolate and candy options that care about those individuals making the treat first, and profits second. You'll have to venture into stores you might not normally take a look in (Ten Thousand Villages, or even some health food stores), and you may even have to order goodies online. My hope is you will realize how often we contribute to the continuation and expansion of slavery around the world. One place I’ve found recently is Bulk Barn. Surprisingly enough, they provide a decent selection of fairtrade products. Another great option are the ‘healthy/organic’ aisles of Superstore. While you might not find fairtrade adorable eggs stocked in bulk like mini eggs, an ethical chocolate bar wrapped in DIY Easter packaging can be festive enough to have someone forget they aren’t getting chocolate in an egg shape.

While the general idea behind this post is to have an Ethical Easter, I think the real challenge is accepting, acknowledging and allowing this challenge to resonate in your day-to-day life. Our day-to-day lives are tainted with slavery. Valuable and worthy human lives are often exploited in making our worthless products.  The people making the items we treat as so disposable are being disposed of themselves by our blatant disregard for their existence. Documentaries like The Dark Side of Chocolate, and The True Cost, are showcasing the direct impact our consumerism has on the lives of those creating the products we purchase often without much thought (except to our bank accounts).
The window of knowledge has been slowly opening to shine bright light into the dark room of slavery, and those who peer through the window are actively trying to do something.

People are starting to notice.
People are starting to care.
A movement is happening.

Be someone who makes decisions to pursue ideals that would make your grandma proud—choose to be a smart consumer, choose to acknowledge the lives of people making your chocolate as valuable and worthy of the same basic rights as you are, be someone who doesn’t give into the craze of mini eggs and fight back with your purchasing power. And, most importantly, allow this mentality to radiate into your everyday life.

Will you have an Ethical Easter?


FAQ's:
Will Fair Trade or Ethical chocolate be more expensive?
Yes, it will be. With good reason-- caring about everyone in the supply chain! From those farming to those working in the factories, the people in the supply chain are treated fairly. It's worth it to spend a little more to know that people are being treated right!

So the chocolate is more expensive, which means I can't buy as much. What about the traditions of my friends/family/children/co-workers/neighbours/general human beings I am in contact with have? 
I understand that your family tradition is to hid a bazillion chocolate eggs all around the house and do a massive hunt on Easter Sunday. Traditions can be adjusted! Instead of hiding a bazillion eggs, hide clues that lead to a basket of treats! It's still a hunt and still awesome! Maybe you could splurge and hide a bazillion fair trade eggs!

How can I explain to my youth group/family/co-workers why they aren't receiving the generic chocolate they expect and love, without making it seem like I am being a jerk?
No one wants to make someone feel bad. Explain to them that you have been learning about what happens with the production of chocolate, and that you are using your purchasing power to make a difference. We've all been the person who had no idea this was happening. Take this opportunity to share with them the excitement you have about being a conscious consumer! Maybe you'll get them in on the movement! Even kids can find a connection. Does your kid love to go to school? Does your kid love to play sports, or dance, etc. Connecting the dots of "You get to do this, but not all kids get to. Some kids have to work all day long." can make a huge impact!

RESOURCES:
Here is some information I have found to be helpful in both learning about the topic and having information to share!
My Favourite Easter Candy Doesn't Exist (one of my favourites since they broke down the only ethical alternatives to the delicious mini egg!)
Also, feel free to google "Ethical Easter Chocolate" and see what comes up! Countless articles of people expressing information on how slavery goes into our festivities is available for your viewing. 


Sunday, March 6, 2016

Love is in the Air

Ahh yes... Love.
Valentine's Day recently passed, celebrating our love for our significant others.
Easter is on its way, celebrating the love of God so great and unimaginably full of grace.
And then, to those in any industry involving flowers, sweet treats and planning, wedding season begins.

I love weddings. I didn't have a wedding.
Those two statement tend to look quite funny standing side by side. One would assume if you love weddings, you would have a wedding, and put all your heart and soul into it and it would be the 'most amazing day of your entire life'. I love weddings-- but my husband doesn't (he also doesn't like engagements, or really anything traditional) so we compromised. The deal was as follows:
1 - He had to propose.
2 - Then we could sign the marriage license papers anytime, anywhere. This was risky on my end because the example he most often gave when alluding to it's romantic spontaneity was signing papers in a butcher shop... not really the thought I had in mind...
3 - At a later date we would have a party with family and friends to celebrate the marriage.

This worked wonderfully for us, and while I love weddings and everything to do with them, I have not once regretted the decision we made to skip out... And really, having the party later on (which we did as a masquerade theme) gave me all the 'wedding' type fun I wanted!

What makes one love weddings?
I love Love. I love how weddings are an expression of each person as an individual, as well as their lives as one unified front. The meaning behind the event is even more enchanting than the glitz and glamour showcased to the loving guests throughout the celebration. Let's be honest though, I also do love that glitz and glamour. The flowers, the dresses, the delicious food and sweet treats... pretty colour palettes and signature styling woven into the littlest detail from the guest book, to the name cards, favours and centerpieces... it's all just so lovely. How can one not be completely enthralled with the love put into the smallest of details?

This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to create wedding cakes for two unique and lovely weddings. This was also the first time I have ever made a wedding cake and it was such a great experience! Meeting with excited brides, chatting in cute spaces over delicious drinks about their upcoming celebration made their enthusiasm contagious! Ideas being bounced back and forth, the endless combinations of flavours and styles being discussed and crossed off lists until settling on the perfect compliment to the wedding being planned-- it's wondrous. The sky's the limit, and it's amazing to see what each bride is looking for. With each unique wedding comes a unique palette of preferences, colours and creative freedom, which makes my job so much fun and very rewarding.

The two wedding cakes I created for two lovely brides may look quite similar, but each one was unique to the couple it was created for.

The first cake (being my first wedding cake ever!) was created for a bride whose rustic charm wedding was full of handmade touches, vintage books, paper hearts, and a down-to-earth feeling of warmth and love. This two tier cake started with an incredible chocolate base-- it's actually the same recipe I use for cupcakes and is my amazing go to recipe! The layers of cake were filled with espresso cream cheese frosting and homemade salted caramel! Since making cupcakes with this flavour combination over 6 years ago, it has become one my signature flavour offerings. Covered in a simple vanilla butter cream and laced with fresh eucalyptus greens, the romantic garden roses were added at the venue from the garden of a relative of the bride. One of my favourite parts of this cake was the burlap used to hide the cake board. It created such a cohesive look to the entire wedding.

Next up was a cake for an elegant black and white theme wedding. This wedding was show stopping-- all guests dressed like they were heading to the Oscars, chandeliers above the dance floor, it was truly immaculate. This cake had a flavour combination that spoke to my soul-- the cake had a chocolate base and was filled with marshmallow flavoured butter cream AND homemade marshmallow fluff! Chocolate and marshmallow together is an amazing marriage of flavours. The live floral accents were added at the venue and were of the brides flower choices complimented throughout her other floral touches.

The second wedding also included a dessert bar of 200 mini cupcakes and 100 cookie sandwiches! All of these tied in with the black and white theme-- the cookie sandwiches were filled with vanilla butter cream, black chocolate drizzle and cookies & cream sprinkles on top. The mini cupcakes were a variety of flavours including chocolate Oreo, chocolate Nutella, vanilla mixed berry, and vanilla cookie dough.

There are really no words to describe the honour I felt being asked to create a delicious detail of these two weddings. Just being part of something so special is truly a gift, and allows me to express my love of weddings to those who appreciate it-- the excited individuals coming together in the name of love for the rest of their lives. Here's to more weddings in the future, and more delicious details to celebrate exciting milestones in the lives of those we love.

Do you love weddings? What is your favourite part?


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Soul Searching

Lately I've been doing some "soul searching", as they say. 
Thinking about what it is that brings me joy and passion, and where I feel my life's purpose is going to take me. 

The following deep thoughts were spurred on one night as I was laying in bed; with the scent of lavender guiding me to dream land, I was contemplating how I've come to find truth in the power of aromatherapy, yet I question other things people find truth and healing in like crystals... then the thought of crystal reminded me of sand and being warm on a beach... which then reminded me how, in the past 12 months, I haven't left the country. I've only left the province twice-- once to get a package across the US border, once barely into Ontario to assist a friend with a wedding she was shooting. I realized it's been so long since I've travelled I don't even know where my passport it. I realized the stagnant life of not travelling, and not doing trips to help others, has been a drain on my life force. This is the longest length of time in the past 7 years I haven't travelled with the purpose of humanitarian aid (my main reason for travel). Which leads to the obvious question...

"What am I doing with my life?!"


As a white girl in Canada, who bakes for a living and can afford a yoga membership, I have the ridiculously unfair privilege to contemplate such things. Ahh yes, the searching heart of the restless millennial. 


My foundational purpose of always to try to be more Christ-like and show love to others, had also been found in the dedication to provide education and be an activist to see human trafficking come to an end. It was woven in the fibre of my being, and helping abroad enabled me to live that out in ways I loved. The passion of seeing the injustice of human trafficking come to an end, while still there on an internalized level of putting my preaching into action of making conscious consumer choices and knowing facts to share, isn't as bold as it once was. It doesn't fuel my life. It doesn't leave me searching for more ways to help like it once did-- especially when the romanticized notion of leaving to help across the world has become more of a daydream then something so easily tangible... oh, being an adult with work and other life commitments has it's lacklustre moments.


Where does my passion now spark from?


At the root I can believe it is an encompassing ideal of wanting to inspire individuals to create, and encourage others to create, positive world change. But, c'mon, we all know I chose the word "encompassing" because it sounded fancier than broad-- which can also be a fancy way of hiding the fact it's currently a really huge grey area with no specific focus or goal. 


God created each one of us uniquely so it matters what we do. It matters what we do and how we do it. It also matters if we live our unique lives to honour Him, or without giving Him a thought. The same goal attempted to be reached without God will land you in a different place than the same goal reached with God as a guide. Heck, with God as your guide, you'll probably surpass your goal and end up somewhere so different and amazing you had no idea it was even possible.




So what do we do? If God made us unique, and gave us passions and personalities and characteristics and an immense joy in following him, what's our next step?


As a society we've become so caught up in the ideal of passion and destination and purpose as a trifecta of perfection. W
hen you reach that amazing point in your life, all your dreams will come true, you feel invincible, everything finally adds up, your heart and life are so full you can't handle it! You shout with joy from the rooftops, live in a nice house, have a great car, go out to eat at fancy restaurants, and have overall 'made it'. This often gets tied up along with the idea the trifecta of perfectness will be found in our career. 

This is pretty inaccurate. If life has taught us anything, it's that the best laid plans will fail, your dreams and goals change over time, and 'working your way to the top' doesn't guarantee fulfillment when you arrive. We know this isn't right-- we've seen it fail time and time again. I guess the simple next step is "ask God". He knows. Read your bible, read a devotion, talk to people about faith and listen to God in quiet moments of meditation (or as you're trying to sleep with lavender softly filling the air around you). Even if you don't get an answer right away, knowing the path you're on is one of knowledge and honesty and grace is enough. 

So, where does that leave us? If relentless faith and an endless desire for God is our main goal, what does the rest matter? 

I wish I could tell you the concrete answers to these 'soul searching' questions. Honestly, I know God being our main focus and living a life rooted in love is a great place to start. 

I may not know what's next, and may not know where my passport is, but I know when I find it, the next time I use it will be for a purpose God has control over-- and along the way to my destination I'll be inspiring people to make a difference where they are at.


Monday, February 15, 2016

Human Rights

Surprises are the best!

One of my best friends, Kim, lives in Hamilton, Ontario. On an adventure to Hamilton to do some house searching many, many moons ago, Kim and I were introduced and basically became instant best friends. She shared her life story, while I listened and played with our mutual friend Cory’s cat. It really was the beginning of an awesome friendship-- from that day I knew that when my wonderful husband and I finally moved to Hamilton, there was one person I could rely on for a hangout, an errand run, and other general fun.

Fast forward to the end of 2015 and Kim and I hadn’t seen each other in 11 months. We skyped and texted to remain in contact, but my move to Winnipeg left us thousands of miles apart. While the length of time between visits wasn’t supposed to be this long, surprise visit after re-scheduled surprise visit never ended up working out. Until Christmas…

Kim’s boyfriend bought her a surprise trip to Winnipeg for her holiday time off work. She found out on Christmas eve and arrived in Winterpeg on Christmas day! It was fun to hangout and do life together again—spending hours on the couch watching movies, colouring, drinking peach cosmo’s and obviously Taylor Swift in the form of music and concert (on apple music, haha) was involved. As much as we could jam pack our days lingering in the warmth of the apartment, I knew I would need to plan a few things to do together. One of the scheduled outings was to the Human Rights Museum.

Kim and I after our museum adventure.
Even after hearing mixed reviews about the museum, I knew Kim and I would both enjoy our time taking in all the information and exhibits the museum had to offer. We arrived on a chilly Sunday morning eager to use our expired student ID’s and learn more about human rights.

The museum was rich with information on a global history of how human rights have been denied to many people—from the holocaust, to the residential school system where aboriginal children were removed from their homes and placed elsewhere; from those with disabilities being looked at as a sub-human, to rights of freedom of speech, hate speech and other discriminatory issues. It was eye opening to learn so many unknown facets behind common events. While some historical atrocities are known to most people, it’s amazing how many have happened that we had no idea about—and how many are still happening that no one speaks of.

One display in particular which really resonated with me was on how our consumerism affects human rights around the world. The display was made up of solid white replicas of common items we use—canola oil, cell phones, makeup, etc. You would stand where one item was on display, touch the screen in front of you, and see the information which shows how we, as Canadians and as members of modern society, are negatively impacting those around us. From information about minerals being mined for our cell phones, to children picking cotton for our clothing, it was a display I hope people take to heart when they visit.

The ‘inspiring change’ area was obviously my favourite part of the museum. As you journey from the first floor up to the seventh, you learn about both the forward strides and pitfalls of human rights around the world. It's easy to be discouraged, but it's also be a great time to reflect on what we can do to make a difference.  Reflection is encouraged and a space is provided for you reflect, write and share your thoughts on a card to be displayed. Each card begins with a prompt which vary from “I Imagine…” to “I am inspired by…”, “I believe…”, “Reconciliation is…”, “Inclusion is…” and more.

As someone who is aware of some of the issues where human rights are denied in the areas of human trafficking, there were so many things I wanted to write on all of the various cards.
“I imagine a world where humans are treated as people with hearts and minds, and not as property to be bought and sold.”
“I believe a world with less greed will be a world where human rights problems are solved.”
“I am inspired by the stories of human trafficking survivors who teach us to never give up hope, to fight for what is right, and who encourage us that one person speaking up for the voiceless can make a real difference.”

While all these thoughts came to mind I was drawn to the “Respect is…” card.
Respect is something we give out like currency based on the actions of those around us. Say something I don’t agree with that is perhaps slanderous to another person? You loose some respect. Stand up for someone? You gain respect. Make a poor business decision? Respect is lost. Make financially sound decisions? You are respected...

This becomes tricky. Handing out respect like currency is like handing out joy, freedom, honesty, and even hate, jealousy and anger with price tags attached—each one providing you with value, each one making you either a better person or a worse person. What’s more, is we openly share our personal views of other people to reflect their ‘value’ in our eyes. ‘That person is weird’, ‘That person did xyz so I don’t respect them’, ‘This person is arrogant’. It’s a vicious cycle of negativity stemming from one person thinking their opinion of another is the most important, and their experience dictates what another person should or shouldn’t believe.

“Respect is… understanding acceptance doesn’t mean agreement. You can love + respect those with different ideals while holding onto your own.”

Our job isn’t to judge, it’s to love and listen and discuss and accept people regardless of what they do or what they think. You can disagree with someone’s choices in life or opinions on things without negatively dragging them down or saying they are wrong. To them, they are right.

While this doesn’t work in all extreme cases (murdering someone doesn’t gain a ‘you be you’ response), in the case of accepting and loving our neighbors, co-workers, bank tellers, waiters, sales associates, and ‘friends of a friend’, it makes a big difference.

Respect is required.  I can respect you and disagree with your choices. I can love you as a human being even if I don’t want to live a life like you do. The concept isn’t hard to understand—let’s make living it out that easy too!