Category Archives: From the Heart

Strangers

by Bob Vonderau

I used to feel so alone in the city. All those gazillions of people and then me, on the outside. Because how do you meet a new person? I was very stumped by this for many years. And then I realized, you just say “Hi.” They may ignore you. Or you may marry them. And that possibility is worth that one word.

The other day I read this quote by Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors, and I could not get over how powerful these words are, “They may ignore you. Or you may marry them.” Isn’t it interesting how much people seek acceptance and avoid ridicule? With regards to saying hi to a stranger, it’s so easy to say that we’ll never see that stranger again anyways, so why not try? The concept is very simple and if you take into account the potential to gain a lifelong relationship, romantic or otherwise, doesn’t it seem worth it? So why do we not try? Why is fear so strong that it can freeze us? Fear of a large animal is an animal instinct; but where does fear of social rejection come from?

When I think about how many times I didn’t try something because I was afraid of failure or rejection, it’s a pretty extensive list. I will probably never know how much I had to gain, but I can certainly name more than one instance where I know fear was my only obstacle from embracing the possibility. Then I think of all the things I did try and ended up loving… This list is also extensive, but much more transparent.

I think the biggest social fears revolve around the fear of rejection. This past year, I’ve taken a number of initiatives to grow as a leader and thus as a person. My first big initiative was to overcome my fear of speaking in front of groups of people. I overcame this in the most direct method possible: I applied for a job looking for people with public speaking skill, and I got it. Having no proper experience in any sort speech communication, I was thoroughly shocked and terrified when I saw the job offer in my email almost eight months ago. Apparently I really made up for my lack of experience during my interview, where I presented a five-minute speech on ‘how to engage an audience.’ I must have looked like I knew what I was doing.

Alas, this Sunday will be my last day of work. I cannot even comprehend how so much time has passed. On the other hand, if there is One thing I do understand it’s that I have grown in both experience and skill. Do i still get nervous when I approach a crowd to speak? Definitely. The fear hasn’t disappeared, but I don’t think that was the point of taking on this job. Fear will always be there in every aspect of my life. The important thing is to learn how to deal with that fear and turn it into motivation to reach a better result.

After all, when you ride a rollercoaster, it’s the fear of anticipation while ascending that steep climb that makes the descent truly exhilarating.

Just how much does fear control your life?

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Something I wish I could buy from vending machines

by laughlin

This post was in response to a prompt entitled  from Plinky.com. I discovered the site recently and decided to give it a try!

I wish vending machines offered advice. Can you imagine that? Going up to a complete stranger to whom you pay a dollar to listen to your problems and give his/her thoughts. Mind you, I can very well see the many ways this idea would go wrong.

They way I envision this would be similar to the carnival fortune-teller machines that you may have seen in television shows. An advice vending machine would look like a booth and have a person inside whom would just sit and listen to your problem then offer you some (hopefully) useful words of wisdom.

The first and biggest problem with this is that the advice-giver may not give the kind of advice you want. When people express their problems to others, they generally do so for one of two reasons: they have a lot of thoughts on their mind that they just want to say out loud or they have thought so hard/long they want someone else to help them come to a conclusion.

For me, receiving advice means getting a new perspective. I want a person to tell me not what I want to hear, but another way to interpret or understand my thoughts. I dislike it most when people just tell me what I should think, using phrases like “Well, it happens to everybody. Don’t worry about it.”

I believe the reason I felt compelled to suggest an advice dispenser in response to this prompt was because good advice doesn’t come easily. How great would it be to have the convenience of advice for your greatest worries and thoughts at the insertion of a few coins? Maybe this occurred to me because I have yet to find someone whom I think gives me really good advice (besides my mother). The people I choose to ask for advice from vary depending on the nature of the situation, but I think what I’m looking for is someone I can consult universally about anything that bothers me.

…Does such a person even exist?

Hmm. I need to give my mom a call tomorrow.

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Oh, you got sick during your vacation leave? Have another.

by Willem van de Kerkhof

The Court of Justice of the European Union made a decision this week that if you get sick during your guaranteed, annual, four to six weeks of paid vacation leave, you should get to have another. After all,

…the purpose of entitlement to paid annual leave is to enable the worker to rest and enjoy a period of relaxation and leisure. The purpose of entitlement to
sick leave is different, since it enables a worker to recover from an illness that has caused him to be unfit for work.

I thought this was a great ruling on the side of the European Union, particularly during a time when Europe is ” mired in recession, governments struggling to reduce budget deficits and officials trying to combat high unemployment.” In light of the economy, I’m sure this was a difficult decision to make. People are still people, and they deserve to live their lives well without working themselves to the bone. After reading about this ruling in the NY Times, I decided to research other countries’ vacation policies.

In doing so, I have learned that Canadian workers are entitled to two weeks of vacation leave per year, paid a minimum of 4% their regular wage.

In China, the number of days granted for paid leave increases with the time length of consecutive employment (this is not uncommon among countries). That is to say if you have worked under an employer for one to ten years, you are entitled 5 days of vacation leave with full pay; 10 to 20 grants you ten days; 20 and above grants you 15 days.

On the other hand,  Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) of the USA “does not require payment for time not worked, such as vacations, sick leave or holidays (federal or otherwise).” Although there is no legislated minimum, it has been estimated that average employers grant their employees 15 days of vacation. The USA is the only advanced country without a national vacation policy.

This information really made me think about the extent to which full-time employees (in the most generic sense) spend working. I can’t help but be reminded of the feelings I had when I wrote my previous blog post: What can I do with my life such that I will feel satisfied spending 8 hours a day doing my work? Will I really be able to find a career for which I will happily wake up at 7am every weekday? I’m not sure about my future, but for now I will concentrate on gaining experience and information about careers I can potentially pursue as I finish up my undergraduate degree.

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The Best Mother’s Day Gift Ever

by Eve Rivera


Mother’s Day is the day where mothers receive a card adorned with flowers from their children and flowers adorned with a card from their spouses. I know this day is not a very celebratory day for many individuals, but I hope that I can express the gratitude I have for my mother without irking too many people.

They say that when you are born, half of you comes from your father while the other half comes from your mother. That’s not entirely true. It is true for your genome, but there is so much more in the egg you inherit from your mother that people often take for granted (in terms of the common understanding of the biology of conception). A mother’s egg doesn’t just contain DNA, it also contains organelles and nutrients that go on to support the first cell divisions once egg and sperm combine. So technically, a mother contributes more than half of the necessary components for a potential child.

Should that child become a reality, every year on the day of its birth the child will receive a celebration of its life—a birthday celebration.

On a birthday, we typically get showered in congratulations from people wishing us another year of happiness (or a future one). Sometimes, I can’t help but wonder why we even celebrate birthdays. Of course, I’m a bit biased since it’s been a long time since I stopped looking forward to my birthday. (I’m getting to the best Mother’s Day gift so humour me for a moment.)It’s just another day of the yea

r for me. Don’t get me wrong, I have a wonderful family and group of friends with whom I’ve enjoyed great birthday celebrations. It’s not that I’ve never had the opportunity to celebrate my birthday, it’s more like I couldn’t understand the point of it.

Photo by life begins with 4t

I believe a birthday should be as much a celebration of the mother as the child.  I know this is probably something many people don’t have the privilege of doing… Not everyone has a mother in their life to celebrate (or wish to celebrate). I still can’t help but think that if you are reading this, that in itself is something you can still celebrate on Mother’s Day: you’re alive.

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