Refuse to be Passive

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page

Fascinating People

In Uncategorized on January 31, 2011 at 6:09 pm

Some people are just truly fascinating. They have a “je ne sais quois”, a quiet confidence you can’t quite put your finger on. Is it because they withhold information from you? Or is it simply because they know how to listen intently, therefore, by making you feel important, your estimation of them increases? In a friend’s word, when asked on this, “Yes.”
Apparently it’s a little of column A and a little of column B. I wonder if I am that fascinating person to anyone? I’d wager not, as I’m horrible at keeping my mouth shut. It often takes all I have no to interrupt or run away with the conversation.
Some of them will be fascinating for the stories they tell, that is true. However, have you noticed that people who constantly tell stories quickly fall from fascinating to annoying, as they plague you with yet another tale of another adventure that you secretly wish you’d partook of? Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself in a social situation is to keep your words few and your ears open. Then you to may be the fascinating person.

Good Writing

In Uncategorized on January 29, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Today I was reminded of how much I appreciate good writing. I’m doing research for a paper on post-secondary student career indecision and came across an article with such a well written prelude, that I was enthralled, and continued to be enthralled until the article ended. To find that in a piece of writing when researching a paper is rare. To be honest, finding writing that good is rare in almost all aspects of life.
This reminds me of a former co-worker who could write beautifully. It wasn’t the slow, steady, well thought out and edited writing that you see so often. Eloquence flowed from his pen. Words were always in the right place, and the right word was always chosen. My boss, knowing that I had taken an English degree, had shown me his cover letter before she’d hired him. I was floored. I’d never read a cover letter that effective before. I told her then and there that if the tone and form of that cover letter was duplicated in the interview, she’d be nuts not to hire him. He got the job. He was as well spoken as he was written. People like that are fare to rare, and so when I come across one, I’m truly thankful for their abilities. I’m also truly envious as I admire the talent and skills that have developed there.
I could say that a good writer is like a breath of fresh air, but that would be a little cliche, now wouldn’t it? Therefore I will say that there is nothing I enjoy more than a well crafted paragraph that sparks my interest and envelops me in a story– whether that story be a classic novel, or research on career development theory and post-secondary students.

Nudity and Art

In Art, Life in General on January 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Is there a place for nudity in art? It’s a question I’ve been contemplating after chatting with a friend who, after seeing the Mattise exhibit at the local art gallery, felt uncomfortable even talking about it. Maybe it’s because I’m female, or maybe it’s because I’ve done some studies in art, but I felt awed by the exhibit and the skill with which Mattise took female form and made it beautiful. Although he wasn’t religious, I think he captured the feminine grace that all women, regardless of form, have been endowed with by God. He saw beauty in the lines of a thigh, the shadow on a stomach, or a glint of mischief in the eye. In some ways, it’s as though Matisse was taking nudity– an often abused, skewed, and misused truth– and making it whole again. He made it beautiful. It is renewal of form through art. This is why I love art, it has the ability to reach deeper than the day to day of life, reaching past cultural norms, assumptions, media influence, and ignorance to reveal something real, something of what life is supposed to be like. Nudity in it’s proper form is something beautiful, and Matisse captured that well.

Is there gratuitous nudity in art? As with any aspect of life, art has been twisted from it’s proper form in the hands of some. But does that mean that all nudity in art is bad? Not at all! In fact, the gratuitous nudity we see all around us in our culture, from art, to TV, to movies, and magazines, should make us approach nudity in it’s proper form and place with even greater awe and wonder. I am not condoning gratuitous nudity. I am not condoning the perversion of what we as humans were meant to be. What I do recognize is that art has the ability to enlighten, provoke thought, repulse and delight, and reach into the true heart of what it means to be truly human.

Mattise through his work, captured a raw beauty in women and form that has made him famous throughout the world and time. What an amazing gift God has provided artists with to create a lasting impact. It is the blessing and burden of the artist to bring something good from their gifts– to enrich the lives of others through their work.

The Cheesecake Dilemma

In Food, Life in General, Uncategorized on January 25, 2011 at 2:25 pm

A sad smile crosses my face as I look out my office window and into the reception area. Someone has dropped off a cheesecake at the front desk. Although I enjoy cheesecake as much as the next person, I am choosing not to partake. My sad smile isn’t for me though. There’s a woman helping herself to cheesecake who has been struggling with wanting to lose weight for the past two and a half years, and yet she only ever gains. It is her that the sad smile is for. Every time there is some high sugar, high fat goodie at the front desk, she’s one of the first ones there. She claims that she wants to be healthy, but all she’s really looking for it seems, is someone to support her in her failure. It may sound harsh, but I was with her in a weight loss support group for a year, and every week she came forward with a new excuse. I must admit, most of that group was about supporting each other in failure. I think it’s part of the reason it fell apart. No one was making any progress, including me. Now that I’ve adopted a healthy lifestyle, I feel sorry for those still stuck in the emotional eating cycle. I’m not saying that I don’t have off days, but my days of overeating have become an exception, rather than the rule. When I do overindulge, rather than berating myself, I try to take it in stride. There’s a certain amount of empowerment felt when you can control your eating tendencies—when you can enjoy food but not let it control you. I wish it was something I could pass on to my friend grabbing the cheesecake, but she’ll have to come to terms with it and embrace the realities of weight loss and healthy living on her own.

Deleting Facebook ( or at least my account)

In Life in General on January 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm

A few months ago I brought up the concept of deleting my Facebook account when chatting with a friend. He told me he’d also toyed with the idea, so we agreed that we’d delete our profiles in the new year. This has turned into a full blown event with food and guests– the whole gambit. He’s even going to make purple Kool-Aid in honour of the occasion.
The closer this event comes (it’s a week from tomorrow), the more nervous I become. There’s potential to loose touch with people I consider friends, even if I don’t talk to them all that often as it is. For example, I saw an acquaintance today for the first time in half a year and we discussed getting together and doing something, so he said he’d send me a message on Facebook. In a week that will no longer be an option.
That being said, I’m kind of looking forward to the liberation from status updates, ads, friend invites from people I don’t know, and Facebook stalking. It’ll be nice. Kind of like dropping off the face of the earth, but still being here.
We’ll be using the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine, which erases your profile from places like Facebook. You can also use it for LinkedIn, Twitter, and MySpace.
Yes, I’ll still have e-mail and my cell phone, but I will quickly find who my real friends are by if they extend communication outside of the Facebook realm. This is going to be an experience! I’m already prepping myself mentally.

A Forgotten Love- Skating

In Life in General on January 22, 2011 at 2:44 pm

The snow is falling in big flakes from a black sky. Tonight I rediscover my love for skating. The rink is white, lights illuminating the ice and surrounding trees. It’s the perfect temperature for outdoor skating, and the location couldn’t be better. I love the grounds at the Legislature.

It’s been so long since I last put on a pair of skates and headed out on the ice. My legs shake and ankles wobble my first few laps around the rink. A plethora of deep grooves are carved into the ice, speaking to the many pairs of skates that have crossed this surface before me. Speaking of  laughter, fun, cold, pain, falling, and all manner of emotions experienced. I slowly gain momentum and confidence, testing cross-overs, skating backwards, spins, balancing on one leg. Each time I fall I put my gloved hands to the ice, my mittens sticking momentarily to the shiny frozen surface as I break contact and get up again. I slide over the ice, reveling in the wind brushing my face, thankful for the fact that it’s not giving me frostbite. It’s a cool respite after the sweat I’ve started to work up. I know I need to stop soon. So many falls are bound to turn into bruises in a few days time. My muscles will be hard knots come morning. I’m going to need a massage. I skate towards the heated trailer where my bag and boots are stashed. While I’m loathe to go, I know there will be other days. I will remember my love for blades on ice. I will return. Soon.

The road to hell…

In Uncategorized on January 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Anyone who has lived life knows how that phrase ends. The road to hell is paved with good intentions! I have great intentions much of the time, but have issues with follow-through. I intend to get my course work done on time; I intend to write a letter to my grandparents; I intend to send a cheque to a friend that I owe $13 to, but as of yet haven’t gotten around to it; I intend to maintain my friendships.
It’s the last one that’s really got me going today. I’m actually pretty good at maintaining friendships with those who live in the same city as me. Long distance is another story. Not only is it another story, but it’s another story for another post. This post is about a friend in my city.
I have a tendency of meeting really cool people, becoming friends with them, and then having the rest of the world discover how great they are. From that point forward, my friends have little time for me. This is true for all but a select few of my friends and I’ve come to conclude that it’s just part of life.
Although it’s part of life, another thing I dread is when my single friends start dating. This isn’t so much because I feel like a failure because they have a significant other and I don’t (although sometimes, maybe), rather it’s the fact that you go from seeing them once or twice a week to once or twice a month. That I resent. Maybe I’m failing to be gracious and just need to give the novelty time to wear off, but until that happens it’s annoying.
Along the same lines, people should never say stuff like, “We’ll never stop hanging out” or “You’ll never loose me as a friend.” It is a select few that we will keep as lifelong friends. Some will be a flash in the pan, some a few years, others decades, and then, the limited few and true lifelong friends. Life changes, embrace it. I suppose I just need to recognize that there are many fantastic people in the world– if I lose one I can pick up another.

A TV Fast

In Life in General, Movies with a bit of TV on January 18, 2011 at 9:45 am

I kind of despise TV. Don’t get me wrong, I still watch it. Maybe a more accurate statement is, I despise how watching too much TV makes me feel. When I watch too much TV I feel sluggish and lethargic. I also feel slightly pathetic, like I don’t have much of a life compared to the people on the screen. But then I have to remember, it’s all make believe. My life would be entertaining to if you chose only to show the exciting parts of my week and only had to look at my typing on a computer at work for 5 seconds before switching to another event. Also, I tend to get sucked into TV shows and develop relationships with the characters in the program. I feel bad for them, am happy with them, often empathize with them, and on occasion have to thank them for a revelation. That’s why it’s hard for me to sit down and watch just one episode if I have an entire season at my finger tips. And if I watch the entire season, I’ve lost a weekend I’ll never get back. Because of this, I am, once again, going on a TV fast– including TV watched over the internet. I’ll be more productive in everyday life, and probably feel better about myself in general. It should be delightful.

 

Nice Guys Finish Last

In Life in General on January 15, 2011 at 7:50 pm

I hate that statement. I have heard it come out of the mouths of so many males, that I”m beginning to wonder how broad the definition for nice guy is. I can’t count the number of guy friends who have grumbled to me about the girl they like and the jerk she’s dating. Many make a statement like, “She doesn’t even know I exist!” or ” Why do nice girls like the bad boys?” You know what? I think I might have the answer.  Girls go for the wrong guys all the time, sure. But here’s the kicker: Guys, yes, you nice guys, ever think you’re salivating over the wrong girl?

Some girls seem to have no shortage of prospects, while other girls date so seldom that they have an inkling that there might be something wrong with them. When I look around my workplace, there are no shortage of phenomenal single women. I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of them rarely get asked out.  I would wager that the things that drive women to bad men is similar to what drives men to salivate over unobtainable women. Looks, including weight, play a definite role. Let’s not deny it. If someone doesn’t look interesting to you, you’re probably not going to choose to invest a lot of time in getting to know that person.

One of my best friends, we’ll call her Norah, has about the sweetest disposition in the world. She’s not drop dead gorgeous, but she is pretty. She’s carrying a few extra pounds, but dresses well and takes care of herself. In all the time I’ve known her, I’ve never heard her talk of going on a date. I know that she wants to get married someday and is waiting for the right guy to come along, but if she never dates, she’s probably not going to be getting married. That seems to be the way of things.

So nice guys, if you want a nice girl, check out Norah, or whoever that quiet person is that many people seem know as a nice person, but few people truly appreciate. Try taking time to step away from your requirements and looking around at the amazing potential there is. Most girls aren’t going to chase you, at least not the quality kind you claim to be looking for, so put in a bit of effort. You never know where things could lead.

Oh, and I suppose if I’m not using a friend as an example, I might as well present myself. Over the past five years I can count on one hand how many dates I’ve been on.  I’m a very social person and attend a wide variety of events. I’m hardly a recluseand as far as I know I am not socially awkward, and yet, I never get asked out, I just become the friend. Are you sure it’s only nice guys who finish last? What about the nice girls?

Have a Little Class

In Life in General on January 14, 2011 at 10:45 am

“I want the last word on this,” the woman in her late 60’s said. ” It’s not right, and I’m really mad about it. I want the last word.” She pulled out a sign she had hastily scribbled in marker on a piece of cardboard that had at one time been the bottom of a flat containing soup cans. “I’m a pensioner and I work hard for my money.” She grabbed a roll of packing tape and ripped off a long strip and taped the sign up in a prominent place in the swimming pool change room. The sign read:

On Friday while I was in the

pool 8-9. Someone stole (scribbled out letter) my special

BLACK RUNNERS & BLUE SOCKS.

GOD must be very proud of you.

I hope you can sleep at night.

This sad excuse for a sign got me thinking. Elders often complain about “young people these days,” but the attitude put forward by this elder of  “I deserve what I have” also suggested a sense of entitlement. Maybe it’s not young people only who are failing to be gracious. In fact, I know many teens and young adults who are very gracious. Maybe it’s more about the person and less about the age group.

Beyond that, I would like to ask this woman if she really wants to bring God into this entire situation, seeing as her response was less than stellar. I can understand her being frustrated, but she has ranted and steamed for days. If she’s never screwed up, go ahead and make a sarcastic statement like that. But, if, as her actions suggest, she too is merely human, how is it her place to pass vindictive judgment? Part of me hopes the next time she makes a bad decision that someone rubs her face in it. I know, it’s not my place to judge. Amazing how hard that is, and how ironic in many cases. But still, at least have a little class when handling a situation like this!