Beyond Sameness

“…and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” ~Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

It’s very easy to get stuck in a rut, in the monotony of an everyday routine.  Most of us have to spend the bulk of our waking hours working at a job that pays our bills or keeps our households coordinated.  Often our work has not fulfilled the dreams we started out with. The need to survive replaces the drive to accomplish earlier aspirations.

I’ve heard it said that poverty is marked by a lack of choices, by sameness.  I find this true for both financial poverty and for poverty of spirit. The same routines and the same options day in and day out can lead to a life of rote actions. Walking through the same motions over and over may cause a heart to grow callous.

We need to intentionally soften our hearts and allow them to feel joy for small goodnesses and beauty that pierce through the ordinary.  Most of us will not win the lottery, invent something or become famous.  Even if we did, we might find that those things alone do not guarantee a rich and vibrant life.

Our escape from sameness does not need to come from any grand, miraculous happening.  It comes from a mind that finds the extraordinary within the ordinary.  It’s in eyes that see the picturesque in the mundane.  It’s in a heart that finds gratitude for small gifts.

So in the midst of the daily grind, take note of the things that make you smile or stir your heart.  Savor those moments.  Dwell on the goodness that can be found rather than the desires that cannot.  Enrich your life with small pleasures and reach beyond sameness.

Tapitas para Soñar

My instructional assistant at work recently introduced me to “Tapitas para Soñar.” ( I believe that translates:  Lids for Dreams.)  She  is originally from Colombia, so it only makes sense that her highschoolers’ service project would be Colombia based.  She and her sons recently gave every classroom on my campus a basket in which to collect tapitas, lids from containers of water, soda, juice or milk. When they go “home” for the holidays, she and the boys will bring the lids to a collection site in Colombia.

tapitas

 

“Tapitas para Soñar” uses these usually discarded pieces of plastic to raise money for children in Colombia who have cancer.  The organization makes crafts, such as tote bags and wind chimes, from these lids. They also raise money by recycling the excess.  They are hoping to open a facility similar to a Ronald McDonald House, where families of sick children can stay while their children receive treatment.

I love the idea of turning garbage into something that will help fund medical assistance for sick children. In my city, I don’t think these lids even recycle. On campus, they litter the ground everywhere. Although at first I didn’t think I’d have that many lids to contribute, I’ve been surprised by how quickly my little basket has filled.

Collecting tapitas has helped more than just the intended Colombian children. A secondary benefit of this project has been that our campus has been a little cleaner. Now that these lids have a purpose and a place to go, they no longer litter the grounds.  They’ve become a desired commodity.

In an age filled with violence and despair, I have found joy in the stewardship and compassion of this project, Tapitas par Soñar.