Monthly Archives: January 2012

No Texts = No One Loves Me!

Have you ever checked your cell phone after a long period of time, seen that you have no text messages, and then thought to yourself, “Nobody loves me”?

I’d say you probably have (and if you haven’t, you’ve either got really great self-esteem or just get texts nonstop and have no reason to think these thoughts). Why is that? I never thought that before I got a cell phone, but now that I have one, every once in a while the thought does cross my mind: “Why is no one texting me? Does no one want to talk to me? What’s wrong with me?” Of course, the thought never crosses my mind that I should text someone else, so I’m basically doing the same thing that everyone else is doing.

So, why do we go through these moments of feeling like no one loves us? I think technology has made communication so readily available to us that a lack of it seems odd, and as a result we feel disconnected if we’re not always ‘plugged in.’

Whenever I start thinking about the impact technology has on our present society (yes, I am using the generic ‘society’ even though every social/english teacher always said not to use the word in writing because it’s not specific enough), I think back to my summers working at the Ukrainian Village and how simple life seemed to me in those moments. We, the historical interpreters, were thrust back into early, 20th century East-Central Alberta, back when most people in the area lived on farms or small towns and didn’t have electricity or telephones, unless you were very lucky or the main business in town. If you wanted to talk to someone, you had to literally go and visit them. And it happened pretty often. In fact, if you never visited anyone, people probably would start talking about you and say were stingy or had a disease or something like that.

It seems to me a shame that we depend so much on instant communication to build relationships. It seems like it hardly takes any effort at all to text someone or message them through Facebook, or even Skype them. Now, don’t get me wrong. I definitely use all these forms of communication and by this point I am probably addicted to this kind of technology. However, by being so reliant on technology, I think we’re losing the value of older types of communication, such as letters, such as visits. I mean, come on, when do people ever have spontaneous visits anymore? We’re so busy with our ‘go-go-go’ lives that we need to plan to spend time with people weeks or months in advance.¬†Granted, I think part of that lies in allowing stores to be open on Sundays instead of having it a day off for everyone and giving them the opportunity to maybe take the day as a visiting day as it once was. But, I digress.

I was going to say that I think letters should be used more frequently. When was the last time you looked in your mailbox on a regular day (and not during Christmas or Easter or other big holiday) and saw a letter from one of your friends or a member of your family? It’s probably been a long time, if ever. Letters are solid proof that effort went into the communication because the person sending the letter actually wrote it by hand (I’m talking before the computer age). When someone writes a letter, they showcase their personality in the way they dot their ‘i’s and cross their ‘t’s, and it shows they trust you enough with what’s going on in their life and they want you to be a part of it. Whenever I think of letters, I think of my Baba and Dido on my mom’s side. They wrote letters to each other for two years and then one day, my Dido showed up on my Baba’s doorstep and proposed marriage. They were married the next weekend and stayed married for 54 years until my Dido passed away.

I think here lies another point to older forms of communication. I’m not sure how much my Baba and Dido saw each other while they were writing letters, but I’m thinking it wasn’t very much, yet when they got married, it lasted. I think older forms of communication needed a lot of faith to really work, faith that the letters would get there or that someone was home. Now, however, I feel that everyone is so grounded in certainty and faith is thought not to be necessary, when I actually think we need to embrace faith now more than ever. Because we’re always ‘plugged in,’ we have access to a wide range of information, and a lot of that information is not pretty. I read a quote not too long ago that said, “Newscasters always start by saying, ‘Good evening,’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.” It’s not that the world is so much worse than it was in the past; it’s that now we know just how bad the world is as it’s happening, whereas in the past, maybe we wouldn’t find out bad things until weeks or months later and by that point it would be history. Because we know about bad things in our world as they happen, we question the existence of goodness and we’re losing the faith that good things still happen. It’s just that good stories don’t sell as well as bad ones.

I find that to be a huge shame. Do we really want to be scared and angry and depressed all the time? I’m pretty sure the answer is no, but we buy into it day in and day out. So, I guess my challenge is this: if we have all this technology readily available to us, why don’t we use it to our advantage and spread the good things that happen in our lives? Take the time to actually stop and look around you and I’ll bet you can find something to smile about. And maybe in that instant you’ll realize you are loved, and no lack of text messages can take that away from you if you don’t let it.

Phew. Longer than I expected.

Joyanne ūüėÄ

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No, I’m Not Perfect, But I Am Worth It

Let me tell you a story.

This morning I had 2 major goals: one, to get out of my meeting on time (11:30am) so that I could catch the train to the university and meet one of my friends to exchange some money for dance tickets; two, make the exchange and catch the 12:00pm bus to take me back home so I have time to get to my orthodontist appointment at 1pm.

Let’s see how things panned out:

The meeting didn’t actually end until about 11:39am, therefore making me 9 minutes late already. I quickly threw on my coat, grabbed my bags, and flew down the stairs to the train. Upon entering the station, I noticed a throng of people coming towards me. Oh, shit, was my thought. Yup. It seems I had missed the train by about 30 seconds. Lovely. And the next train wasn’t due to come for another 10 minutes. But, it’s only 11:42am, which means in 10 minutes it’ll be 11:52am, and the ride from this station to the university takes about 5 minutes (according to the schedule), which means it’ll only be 11:58am, which means I will still have 2 minutes to get upstairs, find my friend, make the transaction, and catch the 12:00pm bus.

I’m losing my breath just writing this.

Finally the train came, if memory serves me correctly… at about 11:55am! Oh, God, pleeeeeeaaaaasssssseeeeee¬†let me catch the bus. I swear, I’ll be really good. Please, please, please let me get there on time! Shit, shit, shit, I knew¬†I should’ve just left when the clock struck 11:30am. Then I wouldn’t be having this problem. Stupid, stupid, stupid….

And on, and on, and on. And the minutes kept ticking: 11:56am, 11:57am, 11:58am… 11:59am! One minute!

As soon as that train stopped and the doors opened, I was The Flash. I ran up the escalators (one of which was not working… You kidding me, God?) and then I turned towards the stairs, my cell phone in hand ready to call my friend saying, “I’m here!” I looked up… and there he was, waiting for me. Oh, sweet Jesus. I breathlessly ran/walked up those stairs, handed him the cheque as he passed the tickets to me, and stumbled out the door and onto the bus. I MADE IT!¬†I sat down in a seat by myself, struggling to catch my breath (holy crap, do I ever need to get back into shape), a headache forming, and feeling slightly nauseated.

Now, the question presents itself: was it worth it?

I guess to answer the question, I have to look at why I needed to make this transaction, why I needed to do it today, why I’d feel like an awful failure if I didn’t get it done.

To put it simply, I was doing a favour for a couple of friends and because I had a work meeting today, I was off super early and had some time to get things done. Also, the dance is tomorrow night and since I’ve got a cold, who knows if I’m even going. So, I needed to get it done today and I wanted to get it done before my appointment because I didn’t want to have to go back into the city after I’d already gone home. Nope. I’d do it in between the meeting and the appointment and it would all be perfect.

Oh, that word: perfect. If I’m being completely honest with myself (I almost said perfectly¬†honest… seriously), I am a perfectionist and I somehow equate my worth with how ‘perfectly’ I can do things.

THIS IS BAD! Nobody’s perfect. It’s a completely unrealistic goal, but I still feel like if I just work hard enough I could possibly scratch it. NOPE! I wrote about Dr. Bren√© Brown last time and this is a huge theme in her book. One of the things she says in¬†The Gifts of Imperfection¬†really struck me when I read it: Perfectionism is¬†not self-improvement. Perfectionism is, at its core, about trying to earn approval and acceptance” (p. 56).

Well… that’s just great. So, this whole time that I’ve been trying to “get it right,” I’ve been getting it wrong¬†because all of those ‘right’ things were basically done just so people would like me, accept me, and approve the things I’ve done. Wow, talk about not being authentic. This whole time I’ve been measuring my worth by the things I can do ‘right’ according to other people’s expectations.

I am now realizing how similar this sound to the last post I wrote about being authentic and doing things for me¬†because I believe they are important, rather than worrying about what other people would think if I couldn’t get the job done ‘as planned’. I guess these situations will just keep coming my way until it actually sinks in.

I will mark one triumph, however. As I was sitting on the bus, feeling nauseated and gross, I stumbled across this thought, that maybe trying so hard to please the others in this situation wasn’t really worth the stress I felt (and the nausea). Instead of continuing to beat myself up, I breathed slowly and deeply focusing on these thoughts: “Nobody’s perfect,” “You are worthy,” “Everyone makes mistakes,” “Nobody’s perfect,” “You are worthy,” “Everyone makes mistakes,” and eventually, I calmed down and a sense of peace settled over me. I still had a headache and felt slightly nauseated, but the cynical thoughts swirling around my head quieted down.

And, so, to end this not-so-fairy tale, the bus got me back to the parkade where I parked my car, and I got to my appointment by 12:55pm. Would it have been so bad to be late? Well, now that I know that the orthodontist didn’t see me until 1:15pm, no, it probably wouldn’t have been. In fact, I probably still¬†would have been early.

Oh well.

Joyanne ūüėÄ

P.s. It’s my cousin Michael’s 24 birthday today. Happy Birthday, Mike!

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Going With It and What It Really Means

“Going with it.” We hear this saying quite often, or we hear the synonymous phrase, “go with the flow.”

I am not a spontaneous person. I’d like to be, I think, because for some reason I deem ‘spontaneous’ to be synonymous with ‘fun,’ and I’m afraid a lot of the time that people will think I’m not a fun person. Ah, and there it is… “that people will think…”.

One of my biggest resolutions for this year is to be the most authentic version of myself that I can be. At least, that’s the resolution I came up with after reading Bren√© Brown’s book, The Gifts of Imperfection. The tagline is “Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” Within the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to, if not live, then be aware of what she says in her book and how I face the obstacles she names within my own life. Well, I thought I was doing well, but within the last week I’ve had some large obstacles. Well, mainly one. I won’t get into details because I don’t think it’s necessary, but the situation I was suddenly thrust in had my mind spinning. I was feeling nauseated, I was feeling hot and cold at the same time, my stomach would churn, I was exhausted, and, basically, not ready to function in my normal day-to-day life. I was thinking about all the options presented before me, “what would happen if I did this versus that,” which option feels better to me,” “what would people think if I chose this over that…”

“What would people think if I chose this¬†over that?” More importantly, “what would this specific person think if I chose this¬†over that?”

I base a lot of my decisions on what other people think, mostly because I can think and think and think and come up with several pros and cons to various ideas; I basically think myself silly and end up right back where I started. I would talk to several people who would also¬†have various opinions in hopes of clarifying my own, but in truth, I would just be more confused than ever. Brown touches on this in “Guidepost #5: Cultivating Intuition and Trusting Faith.” She says,” When we start polling people, it’s often because we don’t trust our own knowing […] We want assurances and folks with whom we can share the blame if things don’t pan out” (p. 88). This was news to me: realizing that the reason I’ve been sharing all my thoughts and feelings with other people in an attempt to clarify my own feelings and hopefully make a decision because I don’t trust myself to make the right one.

It’s so funny because I pride myself on being an intelligent and independent woman, but obviously I haven’t been exercising my intelligence or independence as much as I thought I was. After reading this specific Guidepost in Brown’s book, I was determined to start anew and try and make my own decisions and then, and only then, would I share my findings with people:¬†after¬†I was resolved with my decision.

But, of course, I find that I have failed once again. This situation I was in this past week threw me and I was back to my usual devices, talking to people to get their advice (though I will say that I only spoke to about 2 people instead of 5 or 7, although I really¬†wanted to talk to more). But I somehow managed to make up my mind with what I wanted to say and proceeded to have a conversation with the person this situation involved. And I made the mistake of not speaking first and therefore ended up not saying what I wanted. Foiled again by my own doing! I was so confused after that conversation that I didn’t know what to do with myself. But, the next morning, I decided I wasn’t yet resolved and needed to say what I wanted to in the first place. But before I did, you know what message I got? “Last time I was decisive and you went with it, you know what happened.”

BOOM. There it was: “You went with it.” And it was like a light went off in my head. I MADE THE DECISION DUE TO WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WOULD THINK. Shit. And at the rate I was going, I was liable to do that again. And all of a sudden, what I had wanted to say didn’t seem so important anymore. But I said it anyway and, thankfully, the response made what I had just discovered all the more clear.

So, what have I discovered? I have discovered “go with it,” and it’s not the same as “go with the flow.” “Go with the flow,” implies going with what other people are doing, go with the majority, go with what’s popular, what’s expected. “Go with it” means follow your intuition because 11 times out of 10 it’s what’s right for you¬†and that’s all that matters.

I just want to throw in Brown’s definition of ‘intuition’ because I think it’s a good one, though maybe different than what most of us think the word means: “Intuition is not a single way of knowing‚Äďit’s our ability to hold space for uncertainty and our willingness to trust the many ways we’ve developed knowledge and insight, including instinct, experience, faith, and reason” (p. 89)

So, here I am on the other side, trying to trust my intuition, going with it instead of with the flow, and continuing to cultivate my sense of authenticity. Here goes nothing! No, wait… here goes everything!

Joyanne ūüėÄ

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If At First You Don’t Feel a Punch in the Gut, Try, Try Again.

I often hear the phrase, “Go with your gut instinct.” What if I don’t have a gut instinct? I mean, I’m sure I have one because I have felt it before, but a lot of the times I can’t recognize the gut instinct until it’s at its boiling point. Why? Simple: I think too much.

Throughout my Drama degree, I have been bombarded with the act of recognizing one’s impulses and listening to them. It is so hard! Honestly, I don’t think I grasped the concept until my third year and still I find myself grappling with it. Let me try and explain how this works:

We all have impulses going through our system all the time. ¬†They are the feelings we get that tell us we’re hungry or that someone is standing too close to us, so we go to the fridge or we move back to create more space (impulses do much more than that, but there are two examples). Now,¬†I don’t know the scientific evidence that explains how this happens (probably something to do with synapses and neurons; I did Drama for a reason), but I know that is does happen. I know because after my years of study I have seen this happen. Actually, what I see more often is when people don’t¬†listen to their impulses and try to ignore them.

Wow… this really doesn’t make any sense. Hmm. Let me try to illustrate how impulses work with a story (this is where that flashback music starts and the screen gets all pixelated and refocuses on something new):

I was in my first year and I was sitting at a table reading a book for one of my upcoming exams. I had just finished my Spanish final and was basically resting until I had to go do whatever it was I was supposed to be doing next. All of a sudden, one of the guys from my Spanish class stopped by and we started chatting about the final exam, how we thought it went, how long it took, etc, etc. Now, here is the example of impulses at work. I said that he had just stopped by, so I was sitting at the table and he was standing and this is how we were talking. But¬†I noticed this tiny, little, movement in his body that kind of made him sway towards the seat across from me, and then he was standing still again. That¬†was an impulse. That teeny, tiny movement in his body that basically said, “I feel like sitting down.” And I¬†picked up on it! (Honestly, it was the coolest thing, being able to actually see something that I had been taught about in class, and see it in normal life.) So, what did I do? I asked him if he would like to sit down, since, you know, we’d been chatting for about five minutes or so and that seemed like a perfectly logical thing to do. He declined, saying he really had to go and do some work. But he stood there for probably another five minutes, just talking away, and guess what happened… I saw that tiny impulse again! Well, of course I said, “Are you sure you don’t want to sit down?” And he said, no, he really did need to go. And off he went.

It’s a pretty long story for something that happened so quickly and really wasn’t that significant. But the fact that I still remember this story and do tell it on occasion proves that something happened that day worth mentioning.

I’d never been good at reading the signs, but I feel like it was obvious he wanted to sit and take a load off. And it’s a shame he didn’t follow through with what he wanted. And I know I do exactly the same thing. We all do. In this day and age we grow up with so many expectations: we’re supposed to be sleek, polished, professional, well-mannered, perfect. But what if I just want to jump in a puddle or feel like dancing in the street, or sit down and have a good conversation with a perfect stranger? We’re all so focused on doing our job and getting that degree and getting that raise and finding that perfect person that we don’t know how to have fun anymore. And when I say fun, I mean like a kid has fun: making up stories and games, using our imaginations to make that refrigerator box a house or a spaceship or a castle.

Wow, this post took a turn I didn’t expect. I thought I was talking about gut instincts and here I am talking about using our imagination. But, you know what? I don’t care. All that stuff I learned in school about staying on topic and making your point as succinctly as possible… well, I won’t say it isn’t useful, because it is. But sometimes we need to get off track to say what we really want to say, whether we know it or not, it seems.

I guess I’m just tired of seeing people lose their ability to create and imagine and play. I look at some of my friends, even, and it makes me sad to see them lose that creativity. Worse, that that creativity is somehow childish and we shouldn’t employ it. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of them for going to school and learning, and finding somewhere in the workplace to call home, but I wish they could see how useful it is to play like a child does.

There are so many times when I wish I could go back to being a kid. It sounds totally clich√©, but it’s true. Some of the best times I’ve had in my life were not when I got an A on a paper or got hired for a job I really wanted (although those are great things too); they were playing hide-and-go-seek-homefree-in-the-dark with the kids in my neighbourhood; they were playing library or laboratory or carriage or house or Sailor Moon or dogs; they were writing the beginnings to countless stories that I never finished writing.

And that brings me back full circle, because here I sit and once again I’m writing, not because I have to, but for fun. Except, now, instead of writing about toys coming to life, or fairies, or princesses, I’m writing about experience and observation and thoughts and feelings. And that makes me think: what if this is what I’m meant to do? And the tears in my eyes and runny nose prove that maybe this is true.

Once again, I didn’t feel the gut until it boiled over. Well, at least I’m listening (and I’ll try not to think about how¬†in the¬†hell¬†is that¬†going to work).

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A Look in the Eye = Connection

All we need to do is look at people. When you meet another person’s eyes, there’s an instant connection. Whether or not that connection affects us is up to us. However, sometimes other circumstances make that connection affect us whether we like it or not.

Today was one of those¬†days. I didn’t sleep well last night (note to self: do not¬†have long, curve ball-type conversations right before bed), I could’ve slept in an extra half hour, and work was hugely uneventful. However, I did my best to smile to all that passed my desk and chat animatedly, and finally, I was free at 5:00pm… well, not quite…

Because I still had a meeting to go to and pick up my script before I could go home. BAH! Would this day never end?

I made my way down the pedway that connects my work to the mall in order to get some supper. On the way, a lady was playing the guitar and singing, trying to make some extra cash with her art. This walkway, in fact, always has people singing or playing some sort of instrument. I often wonder if they have some sort of schedule. They must; there are a lot of them.

But I’ve seen this lady before. By the time I was walking back, she wasn’t playing anymore; she instead was looking at the people passing by without so much as giving her a glance. Because I try my best to support art wherever it’s being shared, I reached into my pocket and pulled out the twooney that was there. I dropped it into her case and then I looked up at her and said, “Thank you.” She just kind of giggled. And as I walked away, I choked up.

Now, maybe my reaction had something to do with all the other stuff going on in my head and the fact that I was tired, but maybe not. Little things like that tend to get me welled up. Why? Well, because I guess at that moment I allowed myself to say exactly what I was thinking in this moment to a stranger and let them know that their gift is important and that I appreciate not only their gift, but their courage in sharing it with others, even though so many people will just pass them by. That’s huge for me.

So, here I sit, and I wonder, what will I remember about this day? I could remember how anxious and jumpy I felt all day, how bored I was at work, how I didn’t feel at peace; or I could choose to remember that in the midst of all the crap, there was one moment where all it took to connect to someone was a simple look in the eye and a thank you. And maybe then, the day wasn’t as bad as it seemed; it was quite nice, in fact.

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Stranger on the Bus and the Vulnerabilities of Clowning

I keep being reminded how the simplest encounters can sometimes be the most profound. I was sitting on the bus yesterday, waiting to go to work, when a young man stepped in. Immediately he had my attention. I don’t know why, but I’m sure you know that moment when someone completely random just grabs your focus. He proceeded to connect with a guy sitting in front of me and eventually sat down next to me. I really wasn’t thinking too much at this point, just kind of listening to their conversation. At some point, however, it stopped and I looked over at the guy next to me and saw him pull out a book from his bag. Well, from the super-thin pages, I could tell it was the Bible and when I surreptitiously focused on the script, my thoughts were confirmed. All of a sudden I had this voice inside my head saying, “You need to talk to this guy. Come on… he’s reading the Bible. When do you ever see someone read the Bible in public? Go on!”

Well, I tried not to listen to the voice because it’s so uncomfortable to just strike up conversation with someone I don’t know because the moment I do, I’m presenting my vulnerability on a plate. Then I start thinking, “Oh man. This could go really wrong…”

But… I recently read a book my good friend Erinn recommended to me called The Gifts of Imperfection¬†by Dr. Bren√© Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W. The tagline reads: “Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.” Now, this might not seem like it has anything to do with the above anecdote, but it does. This book talks about having the courage to embrace your vulnerability and risk showing it to those around you without worrying about what they might think of you because no matter what, you’re worth it and your thoughts and feelings are valid. Believe me, I think this book had opened my eyes quite a bit, so now, in addition to the list of resolutions I made for this year, my big one is to be the most authentic version of myself I can possibly be. And with that comes the truth of wanting to talk to this man about the Bible.

So, after hemming and hawing and taking a deep breath (and waiting until he put the Bible back into his bag), I said, “Have you read the whole thing?”

I think he was a tad shocked.

But he did answer me and we were able to have a conversation about religion. Religion! Talk about a taboo topic; honestly, I don’t know how many times I’ve decided not to talk about my faith for fear that someone was not going to accept me or that I wouldn’t fit in. But I did it this time and through this teeny-tiny conversation I was able to learn two things: first, that maybe I should read the Bible (yes, I confess, I haven’t read it all yet…); and second, that even though the two of us are from two different faiths (kind of; both Christian but I’m Ukrainian Catholic and he’s Baptist), we can respect each others’ ideas and reasons for doing the things we do.

Which brings me to topic numero dos.

It amazes me that I could have a conversation with a complete stranger of a different faith and feel heard and respected, but when it comes to friends of mine of the same faith, I don’t always feel that way. In fact, sometimes I feel quite judged and ignored. I know you’re probably wondering how clowning fits into this, so I’ll tell you. Last night I had an epiphany about why it hurts me so much when people say they don’t like clowns. Before I quite get into that, I want to explain a couple things about clowning.

The clown is quite an iconic figure in our society. We know they wear red noses, have white faces and big, painted red mouths, wear goofy clothing and oversized shoes, and are supposed to be funny.

Well, what if I told you that if my clown wore oversized shoes, she’d probably trip and fall; and if she sees herself with a white face she gets scared because she thinks she looks like a ghost; and her makeup is pretty minimal (probably because she actually thinks she’s super hot and that all the boys love her just as she is); and she thinks her clothes are not funny but just perfect.

At this point you’re either probably thinking, “I’m not reading this anymore” or “This is stupid” or “I don’t get it” or “Why is she talking about the clown as if she’s another person?”

To address the last question, I talk about my clown, Dot, as if she is another person because she is. My clown is made up of the most vulnerable parts of me all rolled into one; she actually reminds me of myself when I was around 7 or 8: not shy, would speak my mind, loved being silly, super emotional. So, even though my body is the vehicle for my clown to act within, I’m not me at that point. It’s almost like acting, except I’m taking all the extreme emotions I feel as I feel them and make them larger-than-life.

The most important thing is that all the feelings I feel when I’m in clown are true. They’re not made up or put on; it’s how I actually feel at that moment. So, if we back up to people saying they don’t like clowns, well then, they might as well say they don’t like the most vulnerable parts of me, the things I hold most dear to my heart.

That sucks, when you feel like the things you’re most passionate about or your feelings aren’t seen as valid.

Now, I don’t expect everyone to suddenly like clowns and I’m not saying I’m perfect either; God knows how I struggle not to judge or demean other peoples’ passions too (especially sports). I’m just saying that we should all strive to learn about each other and support each other. We don’t have to agree, but we do all deserve respect and to feel like we are worthy and the gifts we have are worthy too.

Maybe by writing this I’ll remember and hold myself accountable. Hopefully you can too.

Peace,

Joyanne

P.S. My little cousin is in the hospital, so if you could please pray for her, that would be wonderful. Thanks ūüėÄ

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Itching and don’t know how to fix it.

Okay, so I now realize the title might be a bit confusing and/or suggestive and I am sorry (but seriously people, clean thoughts). No, I’m itching to write something and I’m not sure what to write about. I did have this one thought, and maybe that’s what I should go off of:

Music. Big subject. My biggest problem when it comes to writing is narrowing down my thoughts; all of my profs in school would hound me about being specific and choosing smaller subjects. Well, obviously I say HA to that because here I am talking about large subjects like guilt and music. Oh well. This is my blog and I’ll do what I like!

Right, so music. Music is a huge part of my life. I’ve been singing since I was three, dancing since I was 4, and playing piano since I was 7. Both my parents are musical (mom sings and plays the accordion, dad can play piano and the hammered dulcimer AKA tsymbaly), not to mention our Church is filled with music as a form of worship. So, it’s safe to say I’ve been surrounded by music since I was probably still in the womb and as a result I can’t stand silence. As I’m writing right now, I’m hooked into YouTube, listening to various songs continuously so there’s no silence as I write. And it is as I’m writing that I wonder why I need music in the background.

I think music is a very profound art form. I don’t know how many times I have sat in my room listening to a song, crying because of its beauty. I’m not just talking about song lyrics, I’m talking about the notes themselves, the way they ebb and flow from one chord to the next creating colourful pictures with their harmonies. Music has the power to take me out of my head and allow me to just feel what I need to feel, whether or not I know that’s what I need to be feeling. When I listen to music, I am at peace and I can much better focus on what I need to be doing. In fact, after trying to write my final Honours paper in silence (which was not working), I switched to listening to song after song on my iPod as I wrote. My paper got written much faster and with better concentration.

I also learn many of my life lessons as I listen to music. It usually happens when I’m feeling very low or extremely bombarded by the thoughts in my brain. I’ll turn on the radio or one of my favourite songs and the answer for me will be in the song. Amazing! But it can be crappy when the answer I get, though right, is not the one that I want. Nevertheless, we get answers that we don’t want all the time and we can either ignore them and move backwards, or accept them and move forward.

As I write about music and the wonder that it brings me, I am reminded by something that (I think) a priest said to me once. And it is here that as I’m trying to think of the circumstance I’m trying to relate that I turn off the music… interesting. Why? Because sometimes in the silence you find your answer. Sometimes, the silence can be more profound than the music because when you are silent then you allow someone else to give you the answer. When the priest said it, he said that God would answer in the silence. The problem is that our daily lives are filled with so much noise that we don’t give ourselves the time to be silent and receive the answers coming forth to us. We talk and talk and then we’re done and we don’t listen to the other side. Me, me, me. I am most certainly guilty of this; I happen to love attention. But I’m learning that I can feel just as good when I’m giving someone else the attention I crave, not easily to be sure and not always. But it is possible.

And so, I realize as always… I digress. But that’s how thought works. It ebbs and flows just like the music I was speaking of before. Maybe that’s why I like music so much: because it has the ability to shift and change as easily as our thought processes. Whatever my reason for loving music, I know I would feel empty without it. But I know I would feel awful if there wasn’t silence as well. Music and silence work together to create yet another ebb and flow, the experience of communication.

Communication. I think I may have found my point. Music is not only art or noise or vibrations; it is the communication of ideas between various parties. If a song is popular, just think how many people are listening to one message and responding to it. That is the power of music (and many other art forms that I am sure I will write about as the time comes), the power to communicate ideas to people around the world, maybe to the extent that it changes someone’s life. I know music changes my life every day. That’s one.

I’m sure there’s more I could say, but I can’t think of anything else and this is probably confusing enough as it is. It’ll be interesting to read this over and I’m sure I’ll think, “Holy crap, what¬†am I even saying?”

Oh well. Such is the nature of the beast.

Joyanne ūüėÄ

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