Thursday, May 23, 2013

Are You Actually Dreaming Big?

Have you ever thought you were dreaming big only to find out you actually weren't?
It's shocking, it's exciting, and it kinda weirds you out a bit.
Welcome to my current state.

Recently I took the plunge and have been sharing my ideas, visions, and goals with individuals I find to be worthy of such personal and important information. These spectacular individuals are those in mentor-like positions in my life. The select comrades vary from one who has literally mentored or supervised me during times of immense professional and personal growth, to one who has my faith life as one of the main filters our conversation passes through. It's a small, well rounded crew of individuals who really do have my best interest in mind-- which is exactly the environment you want when you are getting all personal!

While sharing ideas and discussing what I see as the big, main, end vision, something strange happened. The feedback from the other end came out not as the expected reaction to what they heard (positive and/or negative feedback), but more so as a growth response-- here's what happens after the perceived end vision can be enjoyed in brick and mortar.

Things come after this?
Where do these 'after' ideas come from?
How did you just think of all these epic things that I could be part of?

All of these questions raced through my mind as discussions swirled around the ideas of what 'Love Inspires Change' means, how it can relate to people, how it can be a movement, how people can be involved, how it could be a collective force of positive change like nothing I had ever thought or imagined it could be.

Suddenly my list of discussion points touching on URL, logo design and branding-- while still valid-- seemed a whole lot less important when faced with the grand scale ideas that were being being brought to life right in front of me.

I didn't ask the above questions out loud. I took in the moment. I soaked in the ideas, the possibilities, the fresh and exciting new adventures that I could also embark on and only spent alone time after conversations shocked at what was said, pondering the above questions and more...
Was I selling myself short?
Was I allowing one goal to be the end when the end isn't even something that should exist?
Am I not allowing God to be bigger than the original thought he shared with me months ago?
Was I too focused on the immediate next steps to not allow some fun in imagining all the great, amazing, possibilities that could really come?

Image from Facebook.
Artwork available
I was inspired. I honestly couldn't remember the last time I was this inspired to really pursue the even bigger picture-- and not even really pursue, but to simply start to dream or pray about what things could really be on the grander scale.

I want to challenge you.
Next time you are thinking about the big picture, take a moment and allow yourself to entertain the even bigger picture. Think big. God didn't give you passions, strengths, gifts, and talents for no reason. He has the biggest picture in mind for your life. He wants you to be more than you thought possible. Allow yourself to be inspired.

It's through inspiration we can put to action what it takes to be a positive change in the world-- and it's love that will keep us moving forward. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Challenge: Clothing with a Conscious

Spring Fever.
I have it.
I don't know if it is highly contagious, if I caught it from someone-- but I have a firm belief I can almost 100% back up with proof that it is brought on by the weather. This fever will only break once temperatures warm up outside. Symptoms can be treated by sitting by windows so you can be all 'cat-like' and bathe in the sun (something I am known for doing anyways), drinking smoothies and eating salad reminiscent of summer-time picnics and gatherings, and by shopping-- preparing yourself for when the fever breaks.

As I sit in my wonderful husbands coffee shop, at the long wooden coffee bar that could be a picnic table-esque, drinking my Mango green tea and basking in the sun streaming in warmth from the large window in front of me, I think of a few things:
1- Sunshine is awesome and I'm glad I have my SPF100 as tattoo protection in my bag-- sun even from a window still requires the appropriate safety precautions!
2- Oh how I want new spring clothes
3- That article

When I reference "that article" I am talking about an article I recently read that was posted in the Winnipeg Free Press titled "Looking for ethically made clothes? Hard to prove workers weren't harmed  making T-shirts". While the beginning of the article states things that are nothing new to me-- that ethically made clothes are hard to find and supply chains are easily riddled with so many hands it can be almost impossible for companies to track, there was one hard hitting section that left an impact on me...

America's Research Group, which interviews 10,000 to 15,000 consumers a week mostly on behalf of retailers, says that even in the aftermath of two deadly tragedies in Bangladesh, shoppers seem more concerned with fit and price than whether their clothes were made in factories where workers are safe and make reasonable wages.C. Britt Beemer, chairman of the firm, says when he polls shoppers about their biggest concerns, they rarely mention "where something is made" or "abuses" in the factories in other countries."We have seen no consumer reaction to any charges about harmful working conditions," he says.Tom Burson, 49, certainly is focused more on price and quality when he's shopping. Burson says that if someone told him that a brand of jeans is made in "sweatshops by 8-year-olds," he wouldn't buy it. But he says, overall, there is no practical way for him to trace where his pants were made."I am looking for value," says Burson, a management consultant who lives in Ashburn, Va. "I am not callous and not unconcerned about the conditions of the workers. It's just that when I am standing in a clothing store and am comparing two pairs of pants, there's nothing I can do about it. I need the pants." -- Bold added by me for emphasis.

Does any of this shock you?
Does it not baffle you to think that deadly fires due to unsafe working conditions doesn't factor into how consumers are shopping, and doesn't make them second guess what they are planning on purchasing?
Does it not surprise you to hear that there has been no consumer reactions to any charges about harmful working conditions?

I wonder how this exploitation can provoke sadness and a pursuit of compassionate justice in myself, and how the exact same information can provoke nothing from another.

What is sad is the lack of education of the general public. An article like this, while wonderful at showcasing the efforts of a couple doing their best to be conscious consumers, still highlights the fact that a consumer actually thinks that while they are at a store comparing pants (or any other garment they are debating of lining their probably already full closest with), they don't have an option to be a person purchasing for freedom of those being exploited.

How do you not have an option? Does the average individual not have the ability to have intelligent conversation, to "google it", to seek out options? The reality is we do have those options. Resources, like my personal favourite and constant source of information Free2Work, exist to educate you and aid you in your choices. We, as consumers, have the power with our purchase to encourage companies to not allow more tragic deaths because we want cheap shirts.
 We can clothe ourselves with compassionate justice, with conscious consumerism, with choices that inspire conversation! To every person who compliments an article we are wearing that we can say 'Thanks-- It's awesome AND I'm trying my best with my purchases to not exploit others!' When it comes down to it, doing our best-- and encouraging and setting an example for others to do the same-- is what will make the biggest difference. Be a person who shops for value and price-- value for the people involved in bringing what you wear to existence and knowing the price you pay is the price you put on someones life.

Found on Pinterest

When I take the necessary steps to aid my Spring Fever symptoms, and go shopping for some spring clothes, I'll go to the store with Free2Work ratings in hand and be smart with my decisions. I'll shop at a thrift store where the money goes to a good cause, I'll upcycle my current wardrobe to be more trendy.  I'll do what I can to be sure that articles like this are no longer the norm in how fashion and humanity collide-- but so they reunite in more responsible and innovative ways.

I challenge you to freshen up your spring and summer wardrobe ethically!
1- Take a look at what is already in your closet- can you upcycle?
2- Hit the thrift store!
3- Research companies before you go out. Know which stores you feel comfortable shopping at and only go into those stores.
4- Use Free2Work. Get distracted by something shiny in a store you didn't originally want to go to? Check out the company on Free2Work and see where they grade.

How do you ensure you are making conscious clothing choices when you shop? How have you set an example to others with conscious consumerism choices?