Cleaning and Clamming!

Ended up being a beautiful day for the first day of the shack week. They dropped their stuff off at the shack first thing this morning, walked their kids to school and then came back to the Big House to do some work. They washed windows inside and out, cleaned the patio (which was disgusting after all the rain washed the dirt off the roof), washed all the dishes and organized the cupboards and started sweeping the driveway.



Matt, Em and Shane disappeared while they were supposed to be sweeping. Turns out that they went back to the shack to change into shorts. No one was impressed when I docked their days earning 10 pesos each for the three people that left the work site without the permission of the boss.

After a lunch break we headed off to meet the clamming crew. After a few hours we had a total of 43 clams that were big enough to keep for a total income of 120 pesos. Nicest possible day for us to do the clamming after a couple days of rain.



It took them a while to get organized when they got back from the store with their groceries. They were pleasantly surprised at what they were able to get with their money and still have leftovers. David and Maggie came by to check on them and gave them a hand with some plastic David got from the ranch he works at, helped them get a fire going and showed them how to clean up the few clams the guy let us take home. They were in good spirits most of the day. In the evening Angelina taught me how to make tortillas and then she insisted on taking some fresh ones with butter over to the students. They are definitely being spoiled by their friends/neighbours. But it seems like that’s what people do for each other here.

Tomorrow it’s off to work in the tomato fields.

Rose, School of Leadership Mexico Facilitator

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 21st, 2010

Just a Saturday in Calgary…

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 13th, 2010

Anna Ciarallo

n629115404_5660891_6932.jpgAnna Ciarallo has been a wife and mother for “many” years and she has three amazing chldren and five grandchildren. Anna’s daughter, Diane, has been a part of LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute) for over seven years, and over that time, Anna has consistently supported us and believed in all that we have set out to accomplish together.


Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 5th, 2010

Without Fail

Consistency is sometimes a value that is lost in our society. I think it could be better referred to as “keeping your word”. We make promises very lightly: we say we will get together with an old friend when we may not actually intend to, we say we will show up at an event just to be polite, we even disregard bill notices sometimes out of our own convenience. Have you ever wondered what life would be like if we all decided that our word was our commitment and that our life was built upon the strategy of putting relationships first, rather than second, or even further down the list?without-fail.jpgOne of the advantages I have realized that I have had in life is that I have been able to encounter many different cultures. I have been in many homes, sat at many tables, and had many deep conversations with the people around the world that we have been privileged to work alongside. It’s easy to appreciate the shiny layer of another culture when we are just visiting their hotels, beaches or shopping markets – but it is a rich gift to be able to listen to their heart and see their world through their eyes. Sometimes what we see there would surprise even the greatest skeptic or critic – because once you understand someone, the veil of judgment is lifted off. When you gain insight into what motivates them, you gain insight into yourself.There is a little known area about four hours south of Tijuana, Mexico. The road to get there winds around mountains, passes many open spaces filled with cacti, and passes through many dusty, “one horse” towns along the way. Once you get there, it is at first very underwhelming. Back in off the beaches, there is little to see in the way of tourism and even less to see in the way of population. But that first impression may not be accurate. Down those winding dirt roads off the highways are endless stories behind faces that hold many memories, both good and bad, and many of those stories tell of struggles, hardships, and the power of hope.without-fail-2.jpgHe is one of those stories. Every day that he can, he is out in the tomato fields surrounding the community. On the days that there is work, it takes him over 12 hours to pick 80 pails of tomatoes. Those pails will earn him 180 pesos for the day. However, like the rest of the migrant workers in the area, work is hard to come by and the pressure to just be able to eat and find shelter can prove to be nearly impossible at times. But there is something different about him – something you would never expect from someone in his circumstances. Every time that we are building a house in his community, he manages to find time to show up and help our teams out – no matter what.There are no email notifications, no phone calls to remind him to show up, not even someone running around trying to find him to let him know we are back in the community. He just finds us. And after he finds us, he insists on grabbing a shovel and helping. He is always there, armed with his infectious smile and eager willingness to help – without fail. He is always the first to offer to do the back breaking labour, fighting through the sandy earth to help dig the most non-glamorous portion of the house build: the hole for the outhouse. His only motivation is to help because he sees the bigger picture. Revolutionary, I know.without-fail-3.jpgHe helps us to understand something: that no matter who you are or where you are in life, being a part of something bigger than yourself is the best gift you could give and receive. It’s what we were created for. His name is Pedro. He will probably never read this, but this goes out to him – for all that he does, and for all that we are confident he will continue to do. He is a silent hero, who always steps up, without fail.LiveDifferent (formerly Absolute)’s Hero Holiday program works in Mexico throughout the year – and you can join us. To find out more about our Hero Holiday programs, check out

Author: LiveDifferent


Always Have A Home With Them

With house dedication day came lots and lots of rain…and you know what they say about rain in the Baja…nothing much because it doesn’t really happen (but of course, if any group could bring it to town it would be us) but never to worry, we’re always up for the challenge. 


Our morning started by getting ready to present the house in what all of us could only imagine as “The Ultimate Christmas.” But as we strolled around the mercado (store) we couldn’t help but think how these basic items we have at our disposal at all times could be such a gift? It was a realization to all of us. It was so easy to talk the talk about knowing the difference between a “want” and a “need”? But do we really grasp the concept in our everyday North American lifestyle based on consumerism and greed? How do we define a want and a need? How could it be that two cultures have such different ideas and concepts of these two simple words? It is unimaginable. How does this family wake up everyday with a smile on their faces, barely able to provide the basic necessities for their children, when we wake up everyday feeling as though our day is “ruined” when the internet isn’t connecting.




To watch the father and mother with pride swelling in their eyes, with the sheer knowledge that we could provide them with something they’ve worked everyday to obtain as a lifetime goal, was a feeling so rare and fulfilling. It is a change of heart; it is a feeling of ultimate compassion and love. As you walk away at the end of a week, there is not a day that a piece of you isn’t with that family and most of all, a piece of them is within your heart. I believe the most rewarding gift at the end of this week was to hear the words they spoke to us – no matter where life takes us we always have a home with them. We will always be a part of their family, and a part of a new life they have the opportunity to build on for a better tomorrow.


They taught me that no matter what the circumstances, no matter where life has taken you in the past or plans to take you in the future, just remember there is always a better tomorrow.


If you have passion for change, then you have passion for action.

If you are capable of giving love, there will be love to receive. 

Keep your hearts and minds always open and there is always opportunity for a new beginning. 




Emily, a School of Leadership Student living in Mexico

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 4th, 2010

A Family’s Life Changed Forever!

On Tuesday, September 21st we got the opportunity to tell a family that they will be getting a new house built for them. As we walked up to their home I really had no idea what to expect. We formed a semi-circle around the family and Andrew asked them if they would let us build them a new house, starting tomorrow! At first their faces were blank, but soon filled with emotion. This brought many smiles to our faces of course, and the feeling I had really can’t be explained. As I scanned the families’ faces once again I stopped and watched the grandma. Her face showed the most emotion. Her eyes slowly began to fill with tears and the smile on her face grew. As I stood there watching her I began to tear up and thought that in such a short time, this family’s life has changed forever – and we were there to tell them.

The next day we came back bright and early and began to get the cement platform ready to be poured. The family greeted us, once again with huge smiles. We were all very excited to get building! The mom jumped right in and helped us! Once the cement was poured we let it dry until Monday morning.63359_434612335325_95760375325_5331222_3648915_n.jpgAs we pulled up to the families’ home that Monday morning, we noticed that they had taken the time to set us up a nice `cozy` area for our breaks. They had taken their couches and set them out; they also put a tarp up to create shade and cardboard to block the dust. Just by doing this and how they expressed their emotions, we knew how much we were appreciated. From Monday to Wednesday we painted panels, created walls, put on the roof panels and stood the house up! It was a great week!61617_436662020325_95760375325_5370934_2159420_n.jpgAs we drove home every day after working – I tried to imagine the thoughts that were running through all of their minds and how they must be feeling. I can never even come close to imagining the emotions they probably had after having their lives changed within 72 hours. I looked forward to working along side the family for the rest of the week and getting them into their new house by the weekend!Jessica, a School of Leadership student living in Mexico

Author: LiveDifferent

Date: October 1st, 2010