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Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

I spent last week on a beautiful cruise with my husband. We visited the islands of Haiti, Jamaica, and Mexico, on the biggest cruise ship of the world (the Harmony of the Seas, by Royal Caribbean). It was amazing, breathtaking, beautiful, and a blessed experience that I am truly grateful for.

All of these beautiful locations had one thing in common. Ok, they all had more than one thing in common; they all had breathtaking sights, beautiful & friendly people, and crystal blue water. But what they also had was an abundance of people on their cell phones.

Thanks to the miracle of technology, people can now take selfies anywhere. I. Mean. ANYWHERE. We spent seven days on a gazillion-ton boat (which we nicknamed Boaty McBoatface, of course), and we visited three breathtakingly beautiful islands. And there, in the middle of what should have been a once in a lifetime experience for most of the 6,000 + passengers aboard the boat, I found a sad (and surprisingly large) number of people more interested in searching Instagram and Facebook, and taking staged-to-look-spontaneous selfies to post for their followers on social media, than they were in just taking in the miracle around them.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for taking photos to remember where I have been and who I was with. I have a sketchy memory at best, and photos are the best way for me to make sure I have a record of the adventures of my life. But I don’t mean a selfie-photo-record with my hair just right, my clothes just so, and my makeup (what makeup?!) ready for prime-time. I mean photos of me and my husband neck deep in ocean water laughing so hard one eye is closed, or the hermit crab named Hermie that we spent some time with, or the waves crashing into the side of a spectacularly green island. A real photo record of what took place.

Has our society swung too far? In a world where likes mean more than interactions, and a perfect selfie is how we judge each other, what does it mean when a five year-old on a beach in Jamaica has a selfie stick and is more interested in that, than in building sandcastles with his parents (both of whom also look like they just got off a runway in Milan, and spend 45 minutes posing continually for their own selfies, with their own selfie sticks).

Let’s back up one step further. What does it mean when we now have a stick, yes, a STICK, named after an epidemic of needing-to-look-perfect-at-all-times people, whose goal in life seems to be to take and post a perfectly posed, perfectly rehearsed, not-at-all-spontaneous-but completely-staged-to-look-candid photo of oneself, just to see how many people will react to it? And if the reaction isn’t what we hoped for, we take it down and put up another one? What is going ON?

I believe this is a very sad statement. In a world so preoccupied with looking perfect for the next shot of self… we’re not only judging and shaming those around us who don’t look the way the media expects, but we are also completely missing the life that is going on around us. Reminder: we only get one shot at that life, whizzing by; seconds ticking as our cameras are clicking.  

As a passenger on the world’s biggest cruise ship, in the world’s bluest ocean, going to places and having experiences that only a tiny fraction of the world’s population will ever be lucky enough to experience, what I should be doing is stepping back, and breathing in the beauty.

But FIRST, let me take a selfie. 

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I love irony. I enjoy ironic situations just as much as the next person. And I find it hilarious when people behave ironically without even realizing it. I think that’s my favorite.

Wikipedia says ‘Ironic statements (verbal irony) often convey a meaning exactly opposite from their literal meaning‘. It also mentions that irony relates to someone who feigns ignorance, which in itself is ironic, because those who behave ironically are often very ignorant, whether intentionally or simply by nature.

Alanis Morissette says that irony is ‘a black fly in your Chardonnay’, or ‘a free ride when you’ve already paid’. So good.

In the last half of 2017, I noticed an increase in the irony around me, all layered with the pretense of honesty, integrity, and authenticity. Which, again, is ironic, because you might as well put some oil in a container of water and claim that it makes a perfect mix.

So what is it about the veil of irony that people feel they can use it to behave selfishly, poorly, and with hatred, ignorance, or judgement towards others?

Is it the blanket of security people use to shroud themselves in public with words like ‘trustworthy’, ‘authentic’, and ‘real as F&*$’, while in private they hang those blankets over their mirrors at night so they don’t have to look at themselves, and they can go to bed with a clean conscience?

Is it the peace in knowing that they told a good story, sold a great lie, or lived another falsehood in the name of being real to promote themselves ahead of the rest of the pack?

Is it the complexity of irony itself, that people believe they can play the role of a loyal and peaceful sheep, while wearing wolf’s clothing when things are more interesting on the other side of a fence?

I’m not sure. I don’t relate, so I can’t say I know the answer. But I do know one thing. A good acquaintance of mine said something to me the other day that really struck a chord…

  • If you are authentic, you don’t need to advertise. Just be.
  • If you are honest, you don’t need to promise. Just be.
  • If you are trustworthy, you don’t need to prove it. Just be.
  • And if you are real, you don’t need to explain. Just be.

Sometimes, the more people speak, the less they say rings true, and the less I want to hear. Sometimes a person’s silence speaks volumes.  And isn’t that… ironic.

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I am grateful, most days, for many things.  On the days I’m not, I’m grateful for those around me who remind me that I should be grateful. At the moment,  I’m especially grateful for one of my readers who inspired this post. She commented on Don’t Forget The Small Stuff: “Gratitude is an attitude worth cultivating”. I couldn’t agree more.

I like the word cultivating. It makes me think of spring and of plants. Plants are amazing and simple creatures. They have very little and require even less. And yet, they are so grateful. When they get what they need in terms of water and sunshine, to show their gratitude, they grow up, they grow green, and some of them produce beautiful colors.

So what about us? We spend so much time worried about what we don’t have, who we aren’t, and what we can’t do. What about all the things we have, that are right in front of us, for which we should be grateful? We all need to work on growing an attitude of gratitude and turning it into a way of life. Start every day by being grateful for who you are at that moment and where you are in your own life.

Consider this: those of us who are extremely fortunate (I consider myself to be a part of this group) get to wake up next to our best friend every morning, in a safe and warm house, and spend the day doing something we love. Small considerations, perhaps… even taken for granted on a regular basis. But there are so many who are not as fortunate.

Never mind that you don’t have the biggest house or the smallest waist line. Forget wishing for the fattest bank account or the skinniest jeans.  You are you. You have life. Live in the ‘present’ – that is a gift in itself.

Be grateful to have your life and to live your life, just as it is. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.

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The Olympics been in full swing now for a little over a week and I am as excited and proud as the next Canadian, watching events day after day thanks to the miracle of television.

This year, with the Olympics in Canada, it seems as though all you hear is the idea of Canada “Own(ing) the Podium”.  As a competitive athlete for many years, a coach for several years, and a sports enthusiast for my whole life, I wholeheartedly disagree. I understand that the Olympics are about competition and that of course, there can only be 3 champions in each event, on any given day. But what about the athletes who train their whole lives, go to the Olympics, and happen to have a bad day? They are still there, representing our country. We should be so proud of them – winners, personal best achievers, and competitors alike.

Case in point: Mellisa Hollingsworth.  After she lost a skeleton race in which she was expected be on the podium, the interviewer put her on national television, crying.  It was an embarrassment; to see the media almost berate her for her loss, asking her questions like: “How do you feel ?” Seriously. How do you THINK she feels?! Unbelievable. On behalf of media outlets everywhere, to Mellisa and all our Canadian athletes; I am sorry for our behavior towards you. We, the real Canadian fans, are proud of you. All of you.

At least our athletes are there. At least our athletes are representing our country honorably and elegantly. Let’s be proud of who we are and of what it means to be Canadian. Let’s celebrate the personal bests being achieved. Let’s celebrate the victories over injuries which have allowed the athletes just to compete. Let’s celebrate the stories of our athletes who are doing their best.  Let’s celebrate the families who have sacrificed and supported to get their sons/daughters there. Let’s celebrate the spirit of the games.

The Olympic spirit is best expressed in the Olympic Creed: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take part, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.

The Canadian media would do well to remember this.

Go Canada Go. I am, and will always be, proud.

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Why do people prefer to send text messages or emails, devoid of true emotion and connection? Have we become such a text-based culture that the words and symbols on-screen now mean more to us than words through a phone line?

Our past is littered with great orators, who moved people to tears or called them to action with only their voices.  I have my doubts of the effectiveness of Rev. Martin Luther King starting an email campaign, pleading for justice, or of Prime Minister Winston Churchill, sending the troops a text message urging them to fight for “victory — at all costs”.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan and user of text messages.  But nothing beats vocalization. There are no printed words or symbols that mean the same as someone’s voice saying “I love you”. I cannot imagine never exchanging another word with my friends or loved ones. The thought of it leaves me feeling empty and alone.

So next time you promise to TTYL – do it. Pick up the phone and make a real connection.  Just say.

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