It’s that easy?

LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)-performs.jpgSome people say that in order to get over the past, you have to leave it behind. At this moment, I don’t want to get over the past few months of my life. Since September, I have experienced moments that I hope to never forget .. there were also a select few that I may be traumatized by forever. :)I have the honor of co-leading one of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s road teams – Team #1 (The A-Team) to be exact, with Kent. I started training for this position in November 2006, and may I just say that at times, no amount of “training” could have ever prepared me for everything that you encounter on the road. Experience is your best teacher, however, I like to be prepared as much as possible and always know what’s going on – some may even call me a control freak at times. Being on the road has calmed me down some, but I will be the first to admit that I have much to learn!For the 2007/2008 Fall semester of touring, The A-Team was comprised of the band ‘Hundredfold’ from Winnipeg, Manitoba and three of our School of Leadership students (Ali, Erika & Kimmie) as well as Kent and I. This was the very first year that I shared my story consistently in our presentation, and this allowed for a lot more opportunity to talk to students – which, the entire team would agree, is the best part of the road experience! As crazy and fun-filled as the road is, parts of it can become monotonous. After sitting backstage for 3 months, I can pretty much repeat word for word the entire show – and, after sharing my personal story almost every day, I begin to wonder if it has any affect on the people hearing it. I talk about my family’s struggle with Depression and suicide and how it affected my life and the choices I’ve made.However, something amazing started to happen, right at the beginning of the year. Students would start to come up to me after the show and share their past or present struggles. Why is this amazing, you ask? Because it showed me that it doesn’t matter our race, religion, or region, we share the same struggles. It showed me that we ARE able to rise above our present circumstances, to push past lies and walls that people build around us. We may slip up and make mistakes, but strength and courage is found in getting up and not allowing self pity to hold us down. You may be thinking “blah blah blah, I’ve heard this all before .. ” but there’s something powerful about sitting down with someone you’ve never met before and feeling their pain as they pour their heart out – it changes you. I have been changed and beyond that, challenged. Challenged to not look back, to never give up. So thank you to all of the students and teachers that found me after our presentation or sent emails. Your courage was not lost!In September, a student gave me a poem that she had written for a friend, and I’d like to share it with you.Throughout the ages, life’s been roughBut for teens, it’s just too toughThinking you found love, when it’s only hateTrying to fix it, when it’s just too lateFeeling like you only bring people painFeeling like you’re the only one to blameDepression grows, and gets too strongAnd suicide’s been on your mind too longSeeing the hurt in your friend’s eyesOnly opinion, feels like suicide.I try showing you that I careAnd that I’ll always be thereBut your mind is already madeAnd from this life, you just want to fade.Fade out of memories and out of lifeYou take one last look at the knife. Maybe if you heard what I wanted to sayIt wouldn’t have had to end that wayFor the next month, all I do is cryAnd ask why you committed suicide.Now a couple years have gone and pastBut your memory will always last.-poem written by Brittini Christine OgdenThis poem ends on a sad note, however, I am happy to report that this poem, written by a student getting her feelings out on paper to a friend going through troubled times, helped revive a friendship and possibly save a life. A great example of how simple it is to change a life. -Tinafaye

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: January 2nd, 2008

Boxing Week “Blow-Out”!

christal-christmas-blog.jpgWell, while many of you fought the crowds in the malls all over Canada, we were in the middle of a crazy crowd of our own, here in Dominican Republic. That is about where the similarities end! Today, six Canadians, one Italian, and one Dominican Santa Claus showed up in my one of my favorite places on earth: a small village in Dominican Republic where many of my friends currently live. They are all desperately poor and hungry, and today, for a little while at least, we were able to bring some cheer to their world. We brought 300 gift bags with awesome toys, as well as 150 bags of groceries, supplied by a few amazing Canadian sponsors. We threw a bit of a ‘party’ and handed out the goods.
As I stood at the steps of the community church that we were using for our base with the supplies, I looked out at the crowd: mothers desperately pushing their kids through to the front, children pulling on my arm, hoping that they won’t be forgotten, and babies either laughing or crying in the midst of the chaos…It was a dream come true! Santa set up inside the building, and we let the children in one by one, and as they got their bag of toys and candy, the looks on some of their faces was priceless! Some of them laughed with joy when they got the toys and some jumped up and down; some started to cry because they were scared of this big man sweating and laughing in a funny red suit (did I mention it was 32 degrees Celsius today?), and some reached out and hugged us in excitement when they got the bag. It was the best Christmas of my life! Standing on that step, I was thinking about how many years of my life that Christmas has revolved around me: what I can get, what I want, what I come away with. Today, life was made beautiful, yet again, as I saw lives that were touched by simple kindness. This is what purpose feels like and this is what we were created for. Mother Theresa once said, I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. This is what I found today. My heart is so in love with these people because their struggles and successes are really my own too; we are together in this.

I don’t know what it is like to have to wonder which one of my children I will feed, or if I will be safe today, or if there will be food for tomorrow. I have lived a life of luxury where my wish was Santa’s command, and where ‘nothing to eat’ really just meant ‘nothing I was interested in’. This was the best Christmas ever because I have realized something that has kind of left me speechless: yet again, I walk away from this experience having received something. I am the proud new owner of a fresh passion for these people and the countless millions around the world just like them. These are my Peeps, and this is my Hood, even though it was a 4 hour plane ride and 4 days of lost luggage later, and because of that, we need to continue to love, continue to give, and continue to live each moment to make it count…Happy Holidays!

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: January 1st, 2008