Mini Moments Ho!

It’s a brand new segment! Well, it’s not that new, since I’ve been thinking about creating this segment for about a year. The new part is valid, though,  because I’m actually doing it. Near the end of my stay in Dublin, I found myself being caught up in what I have come to call “Mini Moments,” i.e. those moments that you would share on Twitter or Facebook and have a number of people knowing exactly how you felt in that moment. I began writing them down while I was at work (very productive, I know) and now I find I want to share them, plus all the moments that I find myself experiencing every day. I’m hoping this will be an exercise to get me writing again, just a little bit every day (though I actually am writing quite a lot; studying theology does that to a person).

Okay, and it’s also an exercise in procrastination…

*Cracks knuckles* Back to work!

Joyanne :D

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#LikeALayWoman

“We’re so excited to have you here!”

“Thank you!”

“Yes, it’s always great to have more lay women here with us.”

I am a lay woman. That is my label. I’ve never really thought about it before, but as of yesterday I’ve been called that twice. Not only that, but I’ve been heartily welcomed into my Eastern Christian Theological classes because of that. Not because of my personality, or my obvious thirst for knowledge and a deepening of my faith, but because of my gender and vocational orientation.*

This would never happen to a man. There is no such thing as “Men’s Studies.” Whether due to historical tradition or patriarchal hierarchies, a man** is always the default setting, the norm, and anything outside that (i.e. a woman) is abnormal and therefore solicited. In this case, I am praised for having chosen to study a subject that, like many, is chalk-full of the male perspective, no doubt so I can chime in with my (supposedly) opposite, female perspective.

This begs the question, “What if my views aren’t any different from a man’s?” Does that all of a sudden make my opinion any less female and relevant? Of course not! Because my opinion comes from me, it is automatically a female perspective (see Always’ “#LikeAGirl” video to see what I mean).

That seems like a lot of pressure, to be welcomed into an area of study because of one’s gender and vocational orientation, almost as if one is a mythical creature. Because the truth is, I am just like any man, lay or otherwise, who comes to study the same subject. We all come because of an itch, of that thirst to know more, to have a deeper understanding of things we can never fully know. Yes, the product of our studies may be different, but our faith and scholastic journeys are the same. We’re all going to the same place, whether we’re female, male, religious, or lay. So why does the distinction need to be made here and now if in the end it doesn’t really matter?

Food for thought. Your turn.

Joyanne :D

*Not true for all of my classes, but I’m simply making a point.

**If I’m being completely accurate, I should say a white, straight man is the default setting, but since I’m only discussing gender, I thought I’d stick just with men in general.

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A Sea of Calm is Not So Calm For Me

Well, I’ve done it: I’ve moved to Ottawa. And that’s really all I have to say about that because right now I’m in this place of calm that I really don’t care for. Not calm, as in I feel calm, but calm as in being smack dab in the middle of stillness; of not moving; of stagnant, stifling serenity. I’m simply… waiting, and I hate waiting. What am I waiting for? I’m waiting for life to begin again and that means waiting for school to start. I mean, it’s true that I’ve been doing things and seeing people almost from the moment I got here, but I don’t feel like I’ve done anything yet and that’s what’s bothering me. I know, I know, I’ve only been here 4 days, but knowing that doesn’t change the fact that I feel stuck.

Yes, stuck is the word I’m going to stick with right now, the epitome of feeling like you’re wading through peanut butter. No, even the term ‘wading’ is far too mobile. More like… standing stoically. The thing about standing stoically in peanut butter is that on the outside you seem perfectly okay, calm, serene, and though people may notice you’re in peanut butter, you yourself look fine, so they shrug and move on. However, on the inside you’re screaming, wanting to move, to stop being a statue, to break those frozen limbs because even if your arms are broken, at least they’d be swaying. Alas, it’s your own, damn fault the stoic statue is you and that you fell in the peanut butter in the first place because you saw the sign, the one that says, “Caution: Peanut Butter Straight Ahead.” Or maybe people keep saying you saw it and you start to believe that they’re right even though you’re sure you don’t know how you ended up here in the first place.

Yes, I’ve decided to be a sad, cynical girl this evening, mostly because I’m not tired yet and need to do something, anything to feel like I’m getting something done. Of course, I’m not doing anything productive at all like working on my résumé or writing my book or practising for my audition (although I have been doing a lot of that) or embroidering or stretching or doing the dishes. Nope, all that is far too much work, so I just spiral further and further down the snake tail, winding up at number 4 when I was at 52 previously.

I will say one thing: I’m loving my imagery right now.

That is all.

Joyanne

 

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Looking 25 in the Face

I sit on my couch on the eve of my 25th birthday, not wanting to go to sleep, but not having any reason to stay awake either. So, here I come to my trusty blog to write nonsense and… nothing at all, really. It feels weird to know that tomorrow at 7:31am I will be a quarter century old. Doesn’t that just sound old? Granted, I’ve been working up to saying that I’m 25 by telling people I’m “almost 25,” so simply saying the phrase “twenty-five” isn’t the weird thing. It’s that I used to think that 25 was so old, mature, and professional, and I feel anything but. I used to think that by the time I was 25 I’d be an established professional, no doubt working as an actress in the Edmonton theatre community. I used to think that by 25 I would perhaps be in a steady relationship on its way to marriage. I used to think that I would know what I’d want.

But now that I’m looking 25 in the face, I see the truth, and the truth is that I still don’t know what I’m doing. I’m not an established, professional actress, and I don’t know that I want to be one anymore. I’m certainly no closer to marriage than I was 10 years ago, and it may take several more years before I feel like I’m ready for such a commitment. Instead I find myself three years out of university preparing to go back to university for schooling that won’t get me a job any easier than my first degree.

Sometimes I really wonder what in the world I’m thinking.

It all comes down to discernment. I read an article late last year about that very subject. See, the gentleman who wrote it spoke about discernment coming after making a decision, not before, and that completely blew my mind! It’s what spurred me to finally bite the bullet and decide to study Eastern Christian Theology at the Sheptytsky Institute in Ottawa. The closer I come to actually leaving Edmonton again, however, the more I wonder if my decision was a good one. Obviously I don’t know anything yet because I haven’t started my studies, but still the thought resides. I think it’s mostly just anticipation for a new life once again and being anxious for change. Another thing I learn by the time I’m 25: I’m not as rooted as I thought I was.

Hmm… this makes me think about other things that I’ve learned over the past 25 years, things like
1. Don’t touch a hot stove (Age 2)
2. Being called a crybaby only makes you cry harder (Age 6)
3. If you hit your brother and then scream that he hit you, he will get in trouble, not you (Age 10)
4.  A diary always helps you feel better (Age 12)
5. The world sucks, but you have to keep going (also Age 12)
6. Skid row actually isn’t so bad, though the nearest bathrooms totally are (Age 16)
7. You’re never going to get a man by standing aside and doing nothing (In theory–Age 19; in practise–have yet to learn)
8. You actually are pretty cool (Age 22)
9. So are your parents (Age 24)

Above all else, I’ve learned that I am actually a pretty resilient person, much braver than I thought I was, and capable of loving deeply. Though I have all this uncertainty in my life, let me consider this a blessing and just another example of the adventure I have invited into my life. No, I have no idea where I’m going and what the next 25 years will bring. But I do know hope, and looking forward, that hope shines like a beacon. Now, only to remember it in my old age.

Peace!

Joyanne <:D

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Writing In My Own Time

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Ever since I was a young girl, I’d dream of having my name in print, my ideas published and shared amongst thousands of people around the world. I would set up my ‘desk’ on the side table in the living room closest to the grandfather clock, and I would sit there and write my stories. And draw my pictures, of course, for I was to be a famous author-illustrator of children’s books. After several ideas only came to fruition halfway, however (my story about Princess Monaca still resides somewhere in my mother’s collection of childhood memories, the picture of Princess Monaca waiting to be rescued only half drawn and coloured), I decided I would try something different, something I was by now learning in school: short stories.

No pictures needed, this was a new art form and I really enjoyed it. Even better, I thought I was pretty good at it. Again, I had loads of ideas, all about fairies and private eyes, and I would work diligently to get those stories written (most likely because they were for actual school projects). Nonetheless, having those two stories written really put a bee in my bonnet, and I’m still quite proud of those stories, though I don’t look at them quite as often as I should.

In the eight grade, the author-illustrator dream had a chance to come true again when our English teacher assigned us the task of creating our very own storybooks. In pairs. Believing by this point that my ideas were fantastic (and not wanting anyone else to have a handle on the story), I told my partner that, in an effort to divvy up the workload, I would write the story and she could put together the illustrations. My enthusiasm carried me from start to finish, but in the end I had to help my partner put together the book itself, much to my chagrin. Looking back now, I really did give her the short end of the stick. But I was just so darn excited about the prospect of writing, of painting pictures with my words, that I hogged all the story creating to myself. I still have the book we made (even though I swore up and down that we’d give it to the teacher to keep after class was done…I must say that though a part of me is sorry, most of me isn’t. Lord forgive me in my humanity).

Now, after spending years writing essays and papers and blogging for about 2.5 years, the time had come, the walrus said, for me to write a novel. I wrote last time about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and expressed how I’d like to give it a try someday. Well, my friends, that someday is now. Not only does NaNoWriMo happen every year, but the lovely organizers also host Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July. When I figured out such a thing existed, I thought to myself, “Joyanne, here’s your chance! Do it!” So, I cracked my knuckles, opened a brand new Word document, and enlisted some of my coworkers to do the same. Plus, since you can set your word goal to whatever you like, I set mine 15,000 words below the usual 50,000, for  a 1130 word goal per day. It seemed reasonable enough and I thought I’d get through it, no problem.

Well, internet addicts, it is now day 14 and I am dying. Never, never, never have I hated writing as much as I do now (and yes, I am fully aware of what I’m doing in this instant and the fact that as of right now I’ve written 609 words that could’ve gone towards my story, now 618).  Never did I know that writing was SO HARD! Seriously, writing academic papers was a breeze compared to the novel. Probably because I’m the kind of person that likes to get all my research done first and then sit and write the blasted thing the night before it’s due, or even day of, whereas this time I’m flying completely by the seat of my pants, the NaNoWriMo mantra of “Just keep writing” constantly in the background. It’s honestly driving me mad. Within the third day I was behind and now, even after spending several hours over the weekend just sitting and writing, I’m a lofty 3991 words behind. The website tally tells me that at this rate I will finish on August 11, 11 days after the deadline.

I can’t stand it! I’m not sleeping well, I’ve had a headache every day since Friday, and my shame cycle is just getting deeper and deeper and deeper. “You suck!” the evil gremlins yell from their dark and sinister corners. “You’ll never be a great writer,” “You’re a failure,” You’re nothing!” Honestly, being inside my head is not so pretty these days. And for  what? A chance to prove that I can write fiction, like the many beloved novelists I adore. A chance to be able to say, “I’ve written a novel, I’ve done it, I’ve nailed my dream!” (just the writing part, mind you; the whole editing/getting published thing is entirely another story). A chance to feel great.

Hold up, Joyanne. Are you honestly saying that if you don’t finish this novel “on time,” so to speak, that you won’t feel great, that there isn’t anything else that will make you feel great? What about being outside in the sunshine, just chilling with friends at the Legislature grounds, or going for drinks, or partaking in a light sabre class (seriously, so fun!)? Are those things not important? And what is “great” anyway? Why does everything have to be “great”? Why isn’t “good enough” good enough?

All excellent questions and if I had a therapist we probably could work through and get to the bottom of them all. Since I don’t, however, I’ll try to do my own digging:

I think for me the novel represents the idea of “making it,” of finding a place in the world, of being recognized for something that people deem worthy. Ah, there it is: that idea of worthiness and caring what people think, that ultimate life-sucker that drains the soul. You know, I kind of thought I was past all this. I thought I was doing well, that I was happy. But now again I find a way to undermine myself with these ugly thoughts instead of focusing on the wonderful things in my life, my family, my friends, new opportunities and adventures. Just a couple weeks ago, in fact, I was at a picnic with a couple of my friends, eating snacks and blowing bubbles at cool gangstas (who totally smiled), and the question came up, “Do we really need anything more in this moment?” Well, Fred Astaire wouldn’t have hurt, but the answer was no, we don’t. And it was beautiful.

I want more of those moments in my life because I’m realizing how important they truly are, and what I’m beginning to realize is that, unfortunately, sitting on my arse and writing isn’t going to help me live life to the fullest. Sure, I still want to write my novel, and I do enjoy blogging, but I need to stop beating myself up every time I decide to go and do something else. I know it’s going to take me time to get used to the idea and be okay with it, but (whoa, head spin… I’m alright, really) I know I must, and I’ll keep trying to overcome this hurdle, this shame spiral, and be a good friend to myself, whether that means pushing myself to write or acknowledging that I need a break.

Ah, another ramble. So, is this post particularly philosophical? Not really, but I don’t quite care so much. It’s just another day in the life of a woman who’s trying to figure life out, by living it.

Peace,

Joyanne <3

P.s. 1319 words.

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Freedom!!!

Welcome to Sunday, a day that no longer is my day of rest (until the beginning of July, that is). Today is a busier day than usual because in addition to singing at the 10:30am Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica, I was also scheduled to work my box office job today as well. 10.5 hours of work, most of it sitting at a computer waiting for the phone to ring.
After spending a few hours reading a book I found on my bookshelf and surfing the net, I was getting a little bit crazy twiddling my thumbs. In a moment of random inspiration born from a desire to find a specific online reading website (which I still can’t remember), I decided to check out what’s happening at NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. During NaNoWriMo people from all over the world crack their knuckles and hunker down to write a novel during the month of November. I first heard about it from a friend in Dublin who’d done it before and it seemed like such a great idea. Alas, what with traveling throughout the month of November, I didn’t get to it last year. This year, though, even though I’m sure I’ll be ridiculously busy with school and papers and the like, I really want to give it a shot. So, to begin boosting myself, I decided to check out some pep talks on the NaNoWriMo website, to see what published authors had to say about writing a novel.
The advice? Write every day, even if you don’t feel ‘inspired.’ Don’t feel like writing? Write anyway! What you’re writing is crap? Write anyway! Want to check email and Facebook and Pinterest and Twitter? Write instead!
This last one is really tricky for me, and author Malinda Lo is on the same page (ha, pun). In her Pep Talk, she mentions a program called Freedom that locks her out of the online world, thereby forcing her to get her work done.
Wait, what? A program called Freedom that shuts you out of your internet? I had to know more, so I clicked on the hyperlink and was redirected to Freedom’s sales page which markets the program as “the best 10 dollars you’ll ever spend.”  I could not believe what I was seeing. People pay $10 for a program that shuts them out of their internet for a specified amount of time because “online distractions kill […] productivity”? Why can’t people just turn off their internet for a specified amount of time?
The answer? We’re addicted. I look at my life now and I am amazed by how much time I actually spend on the internet (this very moment totally being included). If I’m not on the internet I sometimes feel a bit out of control and anxious that I’m not keeping up with what’s going on in the world. But am I really keeping up with anything important? Nope. I’m scrolling through various Buzzfeed quizzes like “What kind of junk food are you?” and endless Ryan Gosling memes. It’s nonsense, but I still do it. And when I realize just how silly life on the internet can be, I concede that Freedom is aptly named because right in this moment, life without internet would be freedom. And when I think about it further I’m not sure that just shutting off my internet manually would be enough.
That’s really eye-opening. And it’s slightly worrying. If I do not have the self-discipline to keep myself away from the internet, what else do I not have the self-discipline to keep myself away from (which may be even more dangerous)?
So, with this new-found knowledge, I make a pledge to limit my internet intake and turn that time into something useful. Maybe I’ll work with my flowers. Maybe I’ll take a walk. Maybe I’ll strum my good ol’ uke, Henry. Or maybe I’ll finally set aside that time to write just a little bit every day, completely free at last.
Peace,
Joyanne <3

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Flip a Coin; It’s All the Same

Note: SPOILER ALERT FOR THOSE WHO HAVEN’T SEEN WAR HORSE (the play, not the movie).

You know, it’s hard to believe that I actually enjoyed Monday today. But it’s true. I did. Not only did we get a refreshing breather at work today, but I also decided to go to a spur-of-the-moment live streaming of The National Theatre’s War Horse at Cineplex Odeon. A friend of mine had an extra ticket, so I took it. Man, what a show. As much as I love theatre and think everyone should indulge in it, I understand that not everyone loves theatre and I respect the decision to stay away… except with this show. War Horse is definitely a show everyone should see. Pour quoi, you ask? Well, because of the ‘universal themes,’ as its author, Michael Morpurgo, said during the intermission talk-back. Not only is this show about war, but it is about reconciliation and the ‘desire for peace.’ Not to mention the puppetry is stunning and that goose is a hoot! Well, more like a ‘honk,’ I suppose… *slaps knee*

Along the lines of the puppetry, as I was driving home with another friend of mine, she mentioned how she liked that at some points more than the three designated puppeteers would aid in moving Joey, the title war horse. When I thought about it, what struck me is that Joey had more people operating him at two main points: when he was galloping or jumping, and when he was in pain. To summarize, when he was most powerful and when he was most vulnerable. And when I thought about it again, I realized how true that is for me as a person. The more powerful and confident I feel, the more people I seem to draw in. Conversely, when I am feeling my worst, those are the moments when I find I have a lot of support from those around me. Funny that being both strong and vulnerable draws in people power.

This is super interesting because whenever I used to think of vulnerability, I used to think of weakness. I hated being vulnerable (and still find it challenging) because I felt that being so made me weak, made me less of a person for giving into what I was feeling and perhaps even breaking down. Several times, actually. What I’ve come to learn, however, is that our most vulnerable parts are actually what drive us and where we get our strength. For example, showing others I love them is a hugely vulnerable thing for me to do, yet when I do just that my power grows and suddenly I am strong for having owned what I was feeling and sharing it with others. Albert is the same when he decides to go to war to search for Joey; his love for his horse propels him through thick and thin until they are reunited.

That’s what those moments in War Horse made me think of, how strength and vulnerability are one and the same, not opposites like we may think. So, go ahead and watch a live streaming of War Horse. Better yet, see the show in London! At the very least you’ll get a quack out of that goose! Oh, puns…

Peace and Christ is Risen!

Joyanne :D

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