Monthly Archives: September 2012

Leave the Seat Open!

I work downtown and because parking and gas is ridiculously expensive, I spend a lot of time on the bus. Two buses to work, and two buses home, which amounts to a minimum of an hour and a half spent on the bus each day. And now that I do that math, it really doesn’t seem like a significant period of time, but it does give me time to think, which is what I was doing this morning on my way to work.

I was sitting there, just minding my own business, when my eyes lighted on my bag, parked on the seat next to me. Now, I know there are courtesy rules( http://www.smartwaybus.com/riding.htm) that instruct you to keep all your belongings off the seats next to you so that other people can sit down, but I know for a fact that the bus I take leaves after rush hour, so it’s relatively empty. That being said, today when I looked at my bag riding there next to me, I thought to myself, “Why do we do that?” and as soon as I asked the question, I got the answer, “We don’t want anyone to sit next to us.”

Oh.

And it’s true. Whenever I get on the bus and someone has their bag on the seat next to them, that’s a signal for me to move on and find an open seat (unless there’s nowhere else to sit; then it’s okay to ask the person to move their stuff). I’ve always accepted this unspoken bus passenger code, but now I started to question it. “What are we so afraid of?”, was my third question.

The answer? People. More specifically, we’re afraid someone will try to talk to us.

“But we talk to people all the time, don’t we?”

Yes, we do, but in safe environments. Allow me to explain what I mean. When I am with good friends, or at work, or meeting someone that one of my friends or family members has introduced me to, I can be quite a chatterbox (doesn’t surprise you, eh?). What may surprise those of you that know me, is that I can actually be quite shy as well, espeically when I’m somewhere alone and don’t know anyone (exhibit A: solitary bus ride). When we’re alone without anyone we know, we become vulnerable. How many times have you heard your parents say to you when you were a kid, “Make sure you take your sister/brother/best friendwith you when you go to the park/convenience store/mall/etc.”? They knew that being alone means being vulnerable to the forces around you, including ‘strangers.’ That’s the kind of mentality many of us have grown up with, that there is safety in numbers, and that has carried into our adult lives. That’s why when we sit on the bus and have the luxury of having an open seat next to us, we plop our belongings down next to us to create a safety barrier.

This is my interpretation anyways. I know there are many other reasons we put our belongings on the seat next to us (they’re heavy, it’s winter and the floor is wet, etc), but I think maybe subconsciously we are trying to separate ourselves from others too.

Needless to say, once I’d thought everything through, I moved my bag onto my lap.

Have a great day!

Joyanne 😀
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Perfect Timing = Timeless Joy

You know the feeling when a song you really enjoy but haven’t heard in a while comes on the radio? The feeling of pure joy that instills itself in your heart and has you melting into the song? And somehow that song is exactly what you needed in that moment? I just had that feeling when “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt came on.
I just wanted to share that with you and wish you a blessed day, full of the joy that an unexpected, beloved song can create!
Peace,
Joyanne 😀

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The Prideful Church is a Sinful One

SPOILER: This post has to do with church, so if you really don’t want to read it or think that you will have a negative response, don’t read it; there’s no point in anyone getting angry. If, however, you are able to keep an open mind, please read on. The following is just something I’ve been thinking about for a while… who knows? Maybe you’ll find something to agree with. Or not. Doesn’t matter.

Many of you have heard about sinning, regardless of whether you believe in it or not. A sin is an action (voluntary or involuntary) that basically hurts either you or other people. I’d say sin is the opposite of love. According to the church there are seven main sins that are considered ‘deadly’: pride, greed, envy, anger, lust, gluttony, and sloth (check out this website for more in-depth definitions). Today, I will be writing about pride:

I keep hearing all sorts of generalizations about Christianity and how those of us who have faith in the Christian church (no matter what denomination) are Bible-thumping prudes that are out of touch with the ‘real world.’ And what can I say? Yes, I am Ukrainian Catholic and my views on life tend to be more traditional, but that does not mean I am out of touch with the real world. I live in it, don’t I? I am somehow able to function in a world where my views are not the most popular. But the more I think about why many people I meet are against the church (or any kind of dogma, religion, faith, whatever you want to call it), the more I find myself looking at the church through their eyes, in order to help me understand better. And at this point, I feel like I might have found a beginning to an answer that at least makes sense to me: I keep seeing members of the church that are very proud of their faith and as a result they tend to judge others very harshly instead of responding with love and acceptance. I keep seeing examples of people saying things like, “You’re going to go to hell for this” and I find myself thinking, “How do you know?”

I want to share a story about a very remarkable man I met a little over a year ago. I was in Winnipeg doing a two-week program called Serve at The Welcome Home, a mission of St. Alphonsus Liguori that seeks to serve the less fortunate in the community. During my stay, we participants were required to volunteer at a nearby drop-in center. We did things like serve breakfast, clean up dishes, and run activities such as bingo. This one particular day, I was working the floor, chatting with some people that were waiting for the breakfast lines to open. I was just about to get up from my seat when a man plopped in a chair across from me and promptly began talking. This man’s name is Brian. Brian struggles with alcoholism and at the time of our meeting, he was doing pretty well. He had finally gotten himself a place to live and, I believe, was in search of work. However, he was still struggling with alcoholism and sometimes found himself in relapse of his old habits. Nevertheless, this man’s faith was so strong (“I was saved in ’82,” he kept saying) and he told me, “I know I’m not perfect, but I know that Jesus forgives me and loves me no matter what I do, and I just keep trying to get better.”

We are taught to be humble in our faith and many of us (me included) aren’t. We are proud that we have values, we are proud that we don’t get ‘sucked into sex and drugs.’ And it’s time this kind of pride stopped. In that moment, when I met Brian, I was so humbled and in awe of this man who many would consider to be a waste of space, who some might say is “going to hell” because he gets sucked into alcohol. He is the reason I try so hard not to pride myself on my faith because my faith is so little compared to his, and that’s nothing to be proud of.

So, again, I issue a challenge. Tomorrow is Monday, the start of a brand new week. Take this week to look at your life and monitor your pride. This applies to all people, not just those of faith, because I also know plenty of people who pride themselves on the fact that they do not follow a specific religion. While you’re checking out your pride-o-meters, also take the chance to give the other person the benefit of the doubt when you meet them; you never know how they can change your life if you only humble yourself enough in their presence.

Peace,

Joyanne 😀

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Reflecting on The Five Love Languages

Well, I’ve finished another book. I feel like every time I find that I have something to say, it’s usually because of something I’ve recently read. I suppose that isn’t a bad thing; it’s just a pattern I’ve been noticing.

Anyway, The Five Love Languages: singles edition by Gary Chapman is the book I’ve just finished reading and (as I tend to find with several inspirational books) I feel like this is another one everyone should read. Why? Because it just makes sense. What Chapman argues in his book is that the number one thing every human being craves is feeling loved. I feel like that’s quite accurate; I know I want to feel loved. However, we are not always in ‘loving’ moods, so how can we make sure that everyone feels loved all the time? Well, Chapman also argues, “Love is not a feeling; it is a way of behaving” (p. 212). We have to consciously decide to love people, whether it’s a significant other, a family member, or a coworker. There are five main ways to show love: Words of Affirmation, Gifts, Acts of Service, Quality Time, Physical Touch. What Chapman theorizes is that every person has their own primary ‘love language’ (one of the five) that they most like receiving (though receiving all five is important). The challenge with this is that what one person really responds to might not be very comfortable for another person to offer. But if you truly want to make the other person feel as though they’re loved by you, then you make the effort to ‘speak their language,’ no matter how difficult it may be for you at first. As Chapman says, “‘After you [try speaking their love language] the first time, it will be easier to repeat it the second time and the third'” (p.44).

What a concept. In order to love someone, you have to think about what would make them feel loved, not how you are comfortable with showing love (and when I say ‘love’ I also mean respect, appreciation, etc, depending on the type of relationship and what’s appropriate: all things inside Chapman’s book). The more I observe the way people communicate in today’s day and age (myself included) the more strongly I come to feel that no one really knows how to communicate anymore, even though we have the most advanced communication tools of the day with internet, mobile phones, and social media. What I have come to believe is that having all this access to instantaneous communication has actually made us lazy and selfish. I remember someone saying that we don’t even have to talk to anyone anymore to find out things about people’s lives; all we have to do is creep them on Facebook or Twitter and we’re caught up. It’s not about the other person anymore; it’s about ourselves and this illusion of ‘staying in the loop.’

Doesn’t anyone want to have meaningful relationships anymore? I hope the answer is a resounding ‘YES!’ because so do I. I’m sick of pretending like I care. I want to care, even if it’s difficult, and I truly believe this concept of the five love languages can really help take the focus off myself and make me more receptive to the needs of others. At the end of the day, it could help one become a more perceptive person, one who is able to relate better with those around them.

So, I challenge you to pick up this small, white book, and give it a read (check out the website too, for videos and more links). See if it can’t help you enhance the relationships in your life.

Good luck!

Peace,

Joyanne 😀

P.s. Thanks to Erin for lending me her copy of The Five Love Languages: singles edition; you may have created a monster!

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