The Mindset behind Creating a Healthier Planet: Routes of Change

Routes of Change

“I’d like to see our species come together and use our amazing potential to live in harmony with all life on this planet. If I had to leave an impression, I’d like it to be a smile.”

 – Markus Pukonen, Founder of Routes of Change

On 3rd Ave. and Main St. Vancouver B.C. is where I last saw Markus Pukonen; a man on a mission to “circumnavigate the planet without a motor.”Markus Pukonen

Founder of Routes of Change; a registered non-profit organization, with the intention of raising support for organizations that are creating a healthier planet, Markus began his adventure around the world on foot. Since then, he has already hiked, skipped and danced his way through the first few kilometres and according to his live, online GPS, he currently appears to be canoeing down Lake Ontario towards Prince Edward, ON.

I first got introduced to Markus when I gate-crashed his fundraiser during my recent visit to Tofino, BC. An intimate event, I spoke to several people who knew Markus personally and from what I had learnt, I was eager to understand the mindset of this man with an ambitious goal, derived from noble motives.

Markus loves our planet and “all of the beings on it.” He found himself burdened by the unfortunate state of our planet six years ago, when he lost his beloved father to Leukemia. Around the same time, his sister was pregnant with his niece. This cycle of death and new life caused Markus to wonder what type of future his niece would have, if we continue to pollute and ruin our planet. It also caused him to question the legacy he’d leave behind, if he were to face the same fate as his father. “It was time for change” and it was during this poignant time in Markus’ life, which jolted him to act upon one of his ultimate aspirations.

Over the last six years, Markus has been carefully planning, fundraising and generating awareness and support for his organization. Now that ‘Routes of Change’ has officially launched, he’s beginning to feel both the positive and negative impacts of this mission.  The pressure is definitely on and as deadlines loom, the reality of his aspiration is settling in.

To keep himself motivated and focused, Markus doesn’t overlook his emotions. He realizes that they are a key component towards navigating himself towards success. He also practises communicating openly for others to understand him better, especially during moments of high stress and anxiety.

“I’m planning on dancing every day to make things happy and positive and keep the silliness of everything in focus. I practice belly breathing, moving meditation, and yoga as well.”

Also, Markus occasionally finds himself “nervous and stressed.” On top of raising funds to support himself throughout this 5 year mission, he’s set himself a “huge goal” of raising 10 million dollars towards supporting positive change. So naturally, he’s finding himself questioning how it’ll all “come together.” Furthermore, Markus has been pretty independent his entire life and for the first time, he’s asked for support from his community in a “big way,” causing further thoughts of concern and uncertainty as he doesn’t want to let anyone down.

“I overcome these concerns and doubts by focusing on the positive, on the fact that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing. I know that things have a way of working themselves out if you move confidently in the direction of your dreams.”

Markus has also become mindful of the fact that not everyone understands his mission, nor can everyone empathise with his passion. He’s learnt that staying true to himself and standing by his own identity, will guide him towards the success and fulfillment he desires. He adds:

“I also remind myself that I was willing to do this trip without any money.”

His strength and encouragement also comes from gratitude, he genuinely values community, oneness and family. Even though he’ll be without his nearest and dearest for some time, he only has to think about them to trigger motivation.

“I think about the love they have for me. I think about doing my best in order to make them proud. I don’t focus on the fact that they aren’t with me, I focus on the fact that they ARE with me. I feel their love and support and I gain inspiration and strength from it. I focus on that overwhelming feeling of gratitude.”

Markus sets a great example of how to use your identity towards bigger aspirations. He’s combined what he loves to do (his passion), with what he has to do (his purpose) and as a result, he’s well on his way towards reaching levels of self-actualization.

There are many lessons to be learnt from Markus and I’m thankful to have had the opportunity to meet with him. He’s confirmed that staying true to our own identities, engaging in what we’re passionate about and maintaining gratitude for the very things many of us take for granted, will steer us towards a life of bliss and fulfillment.

Have a great time Markus and thank you for raising awareness to make our home a better place to live.

To learn more about Markus Pukonen and ‘Routes of Change’ check-out Routesofchange.org. You can also support Markus along the way, by sponsoring a ‘penny per kilometer’, joining him during a leg of his trip or simply by offering him words of encouragement, advice and support.

Routes of Change

VanCity

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100 Blog Posts: 100 Reflections to Self Respect

100

I was always taught that whenever I stayed over at a friend’s house, I was to ensure I respected my hosts and to leave their home having left a positive impact. After hitting this milestone of 100 blog posts, I finally understood what this lesson instilled in me. It was a lesson of self-respect.

We never grew up with much, well compared to my elder siblings I probably had a lot more, but we never had the material luxuries our friends or cousins had. It annoyed me and I used to resent my parents for always helping other people with their needs, because I felt we never really had the means to actually help others.

“I mean come on mum and dad, what’s the point in helping others if we don’t have a nice Benz to roll around in.” Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, it’s kind of my point. It’s this cancerous way of thinking that’s causing us to disrespect the world we live in, and leaving a thoughtless trail of negativity for others to adopt. We all do it without even realizing it, we want without purpose and desire without cause. Many of us just aim to obtain the best lifestyle possible, never thinking about building the best life possible.

We can easily and casually overlook self-respect and our duty to pay it forward, so long as we have enough shiny distractions. I reckon it’s a reason why there is so much injustice and inequality in the world. It’s why many of us fail to reach true and lasting fulfillment, we have no idea why we want the things we want, we’re simply encouraged to want them.

I think about the struggles people go through. No doubt, life is difficult. I mean on top of keeping a roof over our heads and food on our tables, we ALL want freedom, we ALL want more bliss, and we ALL want to live in a more positive, more equal and more just world. So why is it so difficult to help each other out?

100 reflections later and I’ve learnt more about myself and life as I know it. I stress the importance of living by your own identity because it causes you to face and overcome your demons, and enables you to share your life with the world you live in. The more comfortable you are with yourself, the more honest you can be and the more positive you become.  You’ll learn to understand why you want the things you want and even alter those desires when you realize what it is your truly in search of.

It took me quite a while to completely let go of any agendas that held me back from being myself completely. The more I held onto the idea of fitting in, I filled my life with empty fulfillment. When I broke free from that, I began identifying how much was enough to feel safe and secure. Once I helped myself, I was able to help others and pay it forward.

Over two years ago I started The Lion’s Life. It started out as a way to develop an online profile so that I could say in an interview “I have a blog.” 100 reflections later, I’m turning down promotions and certain job offers because the money no longer motivates me. The life that I want to build does.

“I love this, it’s an inspiration to all!!! Retweeting this!!!”

The day I received my first positive comment was from a supportive friend. I felt something powerful that I had never felt before, it was genuine self-respect. I had inspired someone to do something positive and I felt more rewarded than any possession I had earned.

I stuck to it and then these comments followed:

“We love this blog! …Be Yourself… Everyone Else Is Taken”

 “Thank you, through selfless sharing of ideas, thoughts and experiences that will make our world a better place to live.“

Great post for a week I was feeling a little gloomy! Thanks for the inadvertent boost.”

“What a blog! Thank you for sharing. This is something I definitely needed to read :)”

Love this! I found the same thing, magical things happen when you have the confidence to pursue your dreams!”

Beautiful! Thank you for writing this and sharing.”

So often matters are centric to awareness. Your words are grounding and worthy of reading/heeding.”

When the blog transitioned into a vice that offered support and inspiration to others, I learned that respecting the world we live in (this includes the people in it) and ensuring that we impact it positively, is more important than working to climb any sort of social ladder on my own. They say misery needs company, well the same is true for happiness.

Mum and dad must have known all of this for years, despite anything they went through financially, mum’s smile and heart is still contagious, and dad’s soul still beams bright and full of energy. The lesson they taught me (the one I mentioned at the beginning of this post) is much bigger than I initially thought.

What if every person just aimed to live on this planet, respecting it and leaving a positive impact as they depart.

Just think if we all just graced every single day with optimism, hope and helped each other out. We wouldn’t even need to debate if God exists or not, because God would no longer matter.

I guess the message in my 100th blog post is as follows:

Stay humble and remain honest as you help yourself, help another and help the world.

Vancouver Relationship and Life Coach