Paralanguage is one of those fascinating fields of study. I have always found it interesting to not only pick up but also identify the different nuances behind phrases and what they might mean. Webster has done a good job of defining a lot of words but even in those definitions meaning can be misconstrued, lost or mistaken. Take the word “fine” for instance. Webster states that “fine” is first the potential size of particles, but secondly is something satisfactory or pleasing. Now imagine I wrote the word “fine!” Even in type, the italics change the meaning to make both options less likely and a third definition necessary. So how do we know what someone is actually saying and what he or she truly means especially when it comes to matters of the heart?
Probably one of my favorite movies of all times is “Princess Bride.” This is not just because I am a hopeless romantic (even after a broken heart a part of me still remains this way), but it is because the phrase that is used to say “I love you.” Often, it’s hard sometimes for people to truly come out and say what they mean to say. John Mayer can write songs all day long about how we should just “Say” what we mean, but more often than not meaning is misconstrued. Wesley decided to show the Princess he loved by doing anything she asked him to do. For men, love is defined by the desire to provide, protect and profess their love. Wesley provided what he could as she needed it, he ended up protecting her throughout the movie, and it was in those things he professed his love for her which was continuously echoed in the now cliché phrase “As you wish.”
How can we weed through the grey in our communication and find out what people are truly saying? It’s a combination of what is said and what is done to determine meaning. I don’t know about the girls reading this post, but I have always longed to find someone who would readily say “as you wish” for the rest of my life; especially because their wish, in turn, would happily be my command. Disney always said “one day your prince will come” but I’m not sure that is true for all of us. I think Disney did a lot to shatter the truth about love for those of us who grew up in the 80′s but I truly believe there are still a few Wesley’s out there.
Fighting for Joy in a Jaded World
I am fairly certain if you had told my parents when I was a small child that I would end up leaving Canada to pursue a degree in the US and not come back…(yet)…they would have been skeptical at best and saddened either way. As I have grown, I have watched my friend raise children and see the desire for them to have something more than they did, but also the keen interest in keeping them relatively close to “home.” For that, I apologize to my father, because I am certain my living in the US has not always been easy on him, but I thank him for never making me feel badly for leaving.
I am sure some people’s “stars” are clearly outline in their own skies. There is a solid path that they are meant to follow, almost from birth, and many of them (at least eventually) do. My path seemed as concrete growing up, until I hit a tailspin at the end of high school which had me reevaluating life, the meaning of, and the purpose of mine probably at far too young of an age. The ultimate conclusion from all that pondering was this: life is too short to waste a single minute of it.
I have regularly been accused of processing and in some cases over-processing, but it is something I learned to do at 17 and cannot find the off switch to save my life. My journey to the US has taken me places I couldn’t have dreamed of if I’d stayed in Canada. I’ve met people whose paths I never imagined crossing, and have gotten to know people that will likely be with me till my last breath. For all those things, I am so thankful. It has been the conquering of fear that has allowed me to experience even a minute of these things.
Fear usually cripples change. The fear of the unknown, a world that we are not familiar with, and experiences we have no reference point for. I teach a public speaking class at Randolph College, and my students this past week all gave mini-speeches on a topic of their choosing. A number of them, by coincidence, spoke of fear. In their own self-reflection, there were key moments in their life where they stood staring fear in the face, and instead of succumbing to its crippling effects they choose to embrace their fear and step into the unknown. In each student’s case, that leap of faith ended up being the greatest hurdle in their lives but it produced the greatest rewards.
We all face fear each day to some degree. In some cases, fear is catalyst to life-changing events and in others, it’s the fear of the moment. Regardless, it is our choice whether or not to succumb to our fear and allow it to prevent us from experiences in life. I encourage any who read this to stare fear in the face and embrace the opportunity to change your stars.
As a Facebook status recently quoted Anthony Robbins words (what does it mean that I’m actually quoting Facebook now? :): ” If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.” If you don’t like what you have, it’s time to change.
I have recently had to bid adieu to a tradition of mine that stretches back as far as my master’s program in 2005 when Lynchburg opened it’s first Starbucks. I think I might have spent a few months wages over this near decade supporting our local Starbucks and last week that all came to an end. My dairy allergy, and vanilla allergy, do not allow me to drink any of the milk or milk alternatives Starbucks provides. For the last two years they have graciously carried almond milk for me, but new healthcode and healthcode enforcers have forced the kindness of Lynchburg’s Starbuck’s manager to abruptly halt.
The conclusion of this morning ritual got me thinking about the habits we form as humans and how they become something we need to do to validate some part of our existence in any given day. Whether it be to wake us up, calm us down, sooth anxiety, alleviate a mood, try and keep our sanity or any other reason, there is always something that we participate in that becomes part of our weekly existence and inevitably a part of what defines us.
Somewhere in undergrad I decided that since the human core was comprised of roughly 60% water, it was necessary for me to continue to replenish my system by toting around an Aquafina bottle so I could calculate the three liters of water I hoped to consume in any given day. I became identified by the Aquafina bottle in my hand and still drink that same water to this date. There are things I have had to adjust in my life which have made me realize how conditioned I was to certain behaviors and lifestyles but also realize how change isn’t bad. In fact, without change we can become stagnant, under productive, and complacent in our lives.
There will be another coffee venture ahead for me that might not be so corporate and so rigid. Given the track record of change in my life, these things always end up working out for the best.
What habits do you have that have had to change?
Unless it’s a Comcast technician here in VA and we are approaching a weekend.
I recently moved into a brand new building. I know what you’re thinking, new buildings always come with unwanted hurdles. I thought mine would be the need for Comcast to actually finish the wiring job in my apartment for cable and internet and the hurdle would be located somewhere in there. Instead, after two and a half hours of waiting within my two hour window, I not only had a no-show but there was no communication from anyone in Comcast regarding the oversight.
Adding insult to injury, when I called yesterday (twice) I was told that my order had been escalated and I would hear from someone about coming out the following day to do the job that I needlessly waited yesterday to have done. But instead, I woke up this morning with no phone call, no voicemail, and when I called Comcast, their automated message informed me that they had set up a new appointment for Tuesday from 1-3pm. I’m FURIOUS. The next human I get on the line this morning at 7:30am is a sweet little girl from Spain who had to endure my North American wrath over poor customer service and an incomplete job. In her broken English, she said I needed to wait until 8am to speak to someone in the US. Outsourcing at its finest, I call back at 8:05am to a friendly American accent who immediately understands my plight.
I work online for a living. I NEED internet. Not only that, I gave two and a half hours of my life to the window Comcast demands of its customers only to be jilted and pushed off to the following week. My rage had subsided some time between talking to Spain and my US connection, so I was able to better articulate my demands. I complied with their requirements, I articulated, so now they were going to comply with mine. I didn’t care how long someone had to work today, somebody needs to come to my apartment before days end and make this right. Evidently the poor soul who thought he could just brush off another future customer was tasked to return to my apartment today to do the job he never did. Of course I’m preparing myself to be gracious to this little Comcast worker in hopes of him completing the job thoroughly but I am definitely getting HBO or some equivalent from the hours I’ve wasted these last two days. I’m also preparing myself for a subsequent disappointment…
Apparently no-show Comcast technicians is an epidemic here in VA, almost as if all the workers are a little too high to have the sense of urgency needed to get a days work done. Makes me wonder, is it that VA is overworking and underpaying Comcast technicians or have they fallen victim to the same disease that I sometimes thinks plagues all vocations to some degree in the US: sheer laziness.
Regardless, my happy Comcast guy better show up today or I will be one unhappy Canadian!
Today I began training with Ben Crosswhite. He’s probably one of the most down to earth, clean-living human beings I’ve encountered in a long time and he’s going to help put me back together; and I can’t wait!
It was actually two years ago (sorry Ben, I thought it was three) that I was so severely sick I was on my way to UVA because my immune system stopped functioning properly. The next year was a blur of exhaustion, pain and prayer for a life I’d once known.
Now, here I sit, at Barnes and Noble pondering Ben’s question from the fitness intake, “How old are you?” and the fact that I struggled to spit out thirty-five. My very next statement was, “when did that happen?” I had thought I would have done so many other things by now, and would be doing something completely different than I am by now but the drive from the gym to Barnes and Noble left me thinking about what I did instead and how grateful I am first and foremost to even BE on planet earth, and thankful for what I have gotten to experience and the life that I currently lead.
I don’t know what my life would have looked like if I had taken different paths over the years. We are products of our past decisions and our future is shaped by the ones we make today. Some of those are out of our control, and others are very much our decision to make. The decision to return to fitness is something I’ve longed to have the energy to do and today I’m thankful that not only is it physically possible but I have a fantastic trainer to help me get there.
Today I am reminded once again: “I am one lucky girl.”
I used to love Pokemon. It was something else I could do to procrastinate in collage and I loved playing Pikachu. That little yellow fur ball had the cutest voice and the best catch phrase:
This animated character had something to say about life that extended further than just game propaganda. American culture has shifted in the last few decades from something that was more deliberate and decisive to casual and haphazard. People have become “disposable,” including significant others and, sadly for some, children. That wasn’t how we were designed. God created us to love and be loved the way He loved the Church; no light calling.
While the US, in many instances, would still claim to be “one nation under God,” a larger part of this culture would not necessarily live their life in that way. Religious landscape survey’s would find the US to be 78% Christian, but “Christianity” has become an abstract rather than concrete term. Christian, by Biblical definition, is someone who is working to be “Christ-like;” a decision you have to make on a daily basis. This is not our natural inclination, which makes loving those in our life the way Christ loved the Church a daily decision as well. There are days the people you love are going to let you down, disappoint, and discourage, which is why Gary Smalley was correct in penning an entire text on why “Love is a decision.” When you find the right person though, it is one of the easiest decisions to make and worth the work it takes to walk through the good, the bad and the ugly.
Our culture in the West has made it hard at times to believe in the idea of “love” and that something can last beyond the moment. With the looming fear of being another divorce statistic it can seem hopeless but then God brings someone into your life that shows you what He created love for, how it was meant to be, and brings to life these lyrics:
“There was a time when I would have believed them
If they told me you could not come true, just loves illusion.
Then you found me, and everything changed
And I believe in something again.”
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