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What do you give with passion without expecting anything in return?

What do you give? Do you do it with passion?

We live in a world that is always looking for something. When I lived in New York City, the joke always was that you are always doing at least one of three things in the city that never sleeps. Sometimes, even all at the same time.

The three things are:
#1 You are looking for your next apartment.
#2 You are looking for your next job.
#3 You are looking for true love.

It is always something isn’t it?

Every day we work to “get” paid. We “get” in our cars to “get” to work. Let’s not forget the networking event to “get” noticed. After we “get” noticed perhaps we will “get” that promotion. After we leave work we “get” groceries or “get” take-out.

Let’s shift that thought for a second. What do you give? What is it about you that you are freely sharing with this world? What is it about you that brings something valuable to the world? Do you volunteer for a cause you are passionate about? Do you paint because it brings you joy and happiness? Do you write? Do you sing? Do you dance?

Recently, I was in Paris over the Thanksgiving holiday and I did a walking tour of Montmartre. During this tour, a sentence that the tour guide said caught my attention as if he was yelling it to my spirit. “Van Gogh did not see his success. He died before he became an International well-known painter.” After researching his life, I learned that while he was alive he only sold one painting. One. That’s it. The painting is now at the Pushkin Museum in Moscow and it’s called “Red Vineyard at Arles.” His other paintings that are well over 900 were not made famous until after his death. I am so happy that Van Gogh didn’t say, “I should really make some money and stop painting. Maybe I should go get a real job.” Imagine, what a loss that would have been to our world.

What does this teach us? While Van Gogh was a gifted artist, there is something special in everyone. There is a gift we can GIVE to the world. What are you giving without expectation? The Van Gogh story is not just about achievement, success, and the millions of dollars that his art is worth after his death. After all, in life Van Gogh died broke and without an ear. If we look a little closer, the message behind this story was that he HAD to paint. He did it freely with no expectations because he just couldn’t stop painting. What inside of you HAS to happen? What do you HAVE to give? Inside of you there is a Van Gogh.

Let’s change the conversation from what can we “get” out of this situation to what can we give. Our world would definitely be a happier and more peaceful place if we share what we MUST without any expectation of money, fame, or recognition.

In the words of Vincent Van Gogh: “Your profession is not what brings home your paycheck. Your profession is what you were put on Earth to do with such passion and such intensity that it becomes spiritual in calling.” What do you do/give with passion?

Elaine Mercedes Mendoza is a writer, speaker, traveler and foodie who uplifts our world one word at a time. She is passionate about travel and shares her experiences on www.finallyelaine.com. You can also follow her along on Facebook.

Elaine Mercedes Mendoza

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Love the earth and your community

Planet Earth – A Love Story

Abundance, beauty, sustenance, and life – our planet is a miracle. Each year we celebrate Earth Day as a reminder that our home is in our care. There’s a delicate balance to the systems and there’s a limited supply of many resources yet we continue to deplete and destroy rather than treasure her.. It would take a lot to accomplish the reversal of all the damage done to our planet, but if we begin in our own community and establish new practices we can truly make a difference. We can show the planet some love.

Earth Lovers

People who are passionate about the environment are often referred to as tree-huggers. They love nature, and honestly, what’s not to love? I’d rather hug a tree than a barren patch of ground. It’s definitely a challenge to feel that your small efforts could help make the planet healthy, but there’s no risk in trying. We all know the sentiment that if everyone did a little, it would add up to a lot. Cliché? Maybe. True? Definitely.

Basic Commitment

We don’t want to throw anyone into chaining themselves to a tree in a standoff with a bulldozer if that’s not your level of commitment, but you can still accomplish a lot in your own community by taking small steps. Walk or take public transportation, carry reusable bags to the store, and re-purpose items as often as possible. Recycle electronics and use water efficiently. Consume products that are healthy and aren’t loaded with chemicals. You may have heard calls to action on most of these items over and over again, but do you make the effort to incorporate them as regular practices? These are what I consider the ‘beginner level’ of Earth-friendly practices that anyone can achieve.

Becoming an Activist

Then there’s the community-activist level, where deeper change can be accomplished. Learn about various legislation that seeks to undermine environmental protections and then work to oppose it. Boycott companies that repeatedly violate existing laws designed to protect the environment. Start programs in your community aimed at educating your neighbors about earth-friendly practices and promote acting on them.

Educating

In this world of quick “news” aimed at entertaining us it’s hard to encourage people to research what’s happening to the ecosystems on this planet or uncover the real impact of the chemicals we eat and breathe. But if we want to keep both ourselves and our planet healthy so that it can continue to provide for us, something must be done. We must dig deeper. Our planet is a treasure and we should treat it as such.

Taking Responsibility

I know I could do a better job of personally following these principles. It’s tough to step out of a warm shower in winter, or to turn off the water as you brush your teeth, wash dishes, or clean your body. If you live in an area where everything is a car ride away, walking isn’t an option. But turning a faucet off or combining trips and creating errand carpools with a friend is a small price to pay for a healthy planet.

A community that engages in these practices will accomplish something. People who engage in a higher level of commitment will accomplish more. It’s your choice. But remember, Earth is a giver, shouldn’t we start giving back before there’s nothing left? Shouldn’t we treasure her and show her some love?

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Selfie sticks

The Sharks Won’t Bite if You Don’t Take a Selfie

You have probably heard this question – “What killed more people than shark attacks last year?” I laughed heartily when I heard the the answer: selfie-sticks. Yes, apparently more people died snapping a photo of themselves than were eaten by Jaws. That got me thinking about how much of our experiences are lived through a lens and how much of our time is spent with our faces in our phones. Wouldn’t we have a more complete experience if we weren’t in a hurry to take pictures of everything rather than let our curious eyes and minds soak in what’s around us? We would apparently be safer as well.

I am all in favor of capturing life’s special moments in photos to be enjoyed at a later time – reliving rich experiences is enjoyable. But it seems as though many people are snapping selfies to show everyone where they’ve been without really discovering what the place is all about. They click and move on in a hurry. Selfies have their place – they can be fun. But honestly, do we really need to memorialize the moment we ran into a friend in the restroom of some unexpected place?

Living Through a Lens

Countless times I have been enjoying a glorious view or listening to the ambient sounds at a destination only to look around at others who have their faces in their phones eagerly awaiting the likes, comments, and retweets of the selfies they just posted. Are we really so obsessed with impressing others that we prefer to live our lives through a lens rather than our own curious eyes? This “hey, look at me” type of attitude is prevalent and, in some ways, is killing the experience. Can we simply taste the food, enjoy the view, learn the history, or listen to the music without having to capture it all in a series of shots and videos to post on social media?

Yes, it’s a sign of the times, it’s what people do. But in the midst of living our lives through a lens and feeling special because people respond to our parade of check-ins and posts, isn’t there something more? Is it possible to set the screen aside and see what’s really in front of us?

How to Enjoy

It’s simple. Learn about the places you visit, explore all aspects, and take a moment to make a mental and visual note of what you’re seeing. Pause and think about where you are. Memories of these things will come flooding back when you want them. Desire a photo of you in front of a special site? Ask someone to do it for you so you can actually capture the view, not just your face.

Living a Fantasy

When the obsession to capture ourselves in a photo includes rude or inappropriate behavior, then it really has gone wrong. When visiting New York City last year I spent some time at the 9/11 memorial. It was a place that inspired a serene and thoughtful demeanor in nearly all of the visitors. But in the midst of this somber moment there was a group of young girls giggling and snapping sassy selfies in front of the reflection pools. Had I not cared about the consequences of my actions, I would have liked to give them a shove. I could envision their duck pouts turning to looks of astonishment as they, as well as their phone and selfie stick, tumbled slowly into the water below. If only there were sharks in the pools it would have made my fantasy a more complete experience.