Tag Archives: courage

Upside-Down?

Have you ever lain on your back and stared at the ceiling until everything that was upside-down looked right side up? Windows touch the floor and stucco becomes carpet, ceiling fans intricate tables that you could never eat off of, delicate and beautiful as they are…

Sometimes you need to see something from a different angle before you decide on your relationship with it.

❤ Joyanne

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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 😀

*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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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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Fly, A Musing

How did I let myself get to this place? I was so full of hope and dreams and I let them slip away, too afraid to really give myself the chance to live my dreams and hope for more. But by letting them go I lost myself and I’m back where I started and I might even have to go back even further, back to where I suffocated and almost died. How will I break free from this place of self-loathing and blame, this place of hopelessness and a cursed future? With a song? But the words dry up just as they’re formed in my mouth, a shadow of what once was. The music doesn’t flow, the fingers cramp, the thoughts cease. Empty. Just like my hands. The strings no longer caress my fingers, just sting them with the broken promises of yesterday’s forgotten dreams. A nail breaks, the string along with it, and I cry out, “Dear God, how can I fix this!” 

And that’s when He hands me a string, new, untouched, stronger than the one before. And the sound it makes is more beautiful than anything else I’ve ever heard before. And I think, “Maybe not all is lost after all.” The dream awakens anew like a phoenix after death, alive and ready to fly. So, I lift my voice and let it fly.

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What is Love?

That’s right: I pose the question to you.

You’re actually not the first I’ve asked this question to. A little over a year ago I was at the bar for a friend’s birthday and I was chatting to one of our mutual friends and the subject of “What is love?” came up. I dared him to go ask a random group of ladies, but he refused. In lieu of this, I decided I would ask a random group of guys this question (which my brother to this day says is really creepy, but I digress). I spotted the fateful group, strode over purposely, cleared my throat as I sidled up to these men, and said, “Excuse me gents, but I have a question for you: what is love?”

I think they were a tad shell-shocked. After their initial stupor, however, I managed to get some interesting answers out of them, such as “John 3:16,” and (my favourite), “When you can still stand the person after 10 years.” Since then, every once in a while I ponder the question anew, and once again I find myself in that same spot:

A couple days ago, I heard myself saying that I ‘love’ a pair of shoes (or it could have been a specific kind of sandwich; I really cannot remember), and it suddenly made me stop and think to myself, “Do I really ‘love’ that?” And then I began thinking about how many times a day I say I ‘love’ something, with that something being an inanimate object that may look nice or taste great, but really offers no companionship, respect, or love in return.

I know I’m not the only one who does this. We all at some point have said, “I loved that movie!” or “I love that dress!” or “I love spaghetti.” My question, however, is why? We don’t really love that movie or dress or spaghetti because (from what I understand, and I can’t remember where I got this from, so please forgive me!) “love is a decision, not a feeling,” and that decision has to be made between two people who commit to that decision. What we really mean when we talk about ‘loving’ inanimate objects is, “I really enjoyed that movie,” “This dress makes me look and feel great,” and “Spaghetti is my favourite food because I like how it tastes.”

So, why don’t we use those descriptions of our feelings rather than saying we ‘love’ all these things? I don’t know. It isn’t as if saying what we actually mean is any more difficult than saying we ‘love’ the movie, dress, and spaghetti. What I do know is that we’ve all gotten so used to using the word ‘love’ carelessly, me included. What we should do is focus on using the word ‘love’ as it was meant to be used: with people. But I have a feeling that the reason why we use the word ‘love’ when talking about inanimate objects as much as we do is because we’re afraid of using it with people. Saying we love something  does not put one in an uncomfortable, vulnerable place like saying we love someone can. So, really, we’re all just a bunch of cowards (again, me included).

That’s just really sad. Here we are, the most technologically advanced human beings that ever walked this earth, and we are all just a bunch of sissies. We are so afraid of opening ourselves up to making lasting connections with people that we turn to our material possessions for comfort and love, with which there is none!

So here is my challenge to you (and I will strive to follow it as well). The next time you catch yourself saying that you ‘love’ a piece of clothing or a type of food, correct yourself! We use too many words as it is, so they might as well be ones that truly and specifically convey our thoughts and emotions.

Good luck and happy enjoying!

Peace,

Joyanne 😀

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