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Don’t Get Trapped

Life has a way of putting people into boxes. Whatever you do, don’t get trapped. I’ve met a lot of people in the past year who are brilliant and capable individuals. Because of their education and current life commitments (family, mortgage, etc) they aren’t in a position to better their situation. In most cases these individuals are comfortable. Lots of people in general aren’t looking for greener pastures, they’re just trying to hold onto what they have.

“Knowing there’s a trap is the first step in evading it” – Leto, Children of Dune

I’m speaking directly to my generation right now. I’m not saying don’t buy a house, eventually. What I’m saying is that if your options are to live a life of certainty with predictable outcomes or do something unknown or uncertain, always choose uncertainty. If you ever need a reminder of why, you don’t have to look too hard to find someone who given the opportunity and support would live a completely different life. Actively engage these individuals in a conversation, they will likely tell you of some of their regrets as well as some of their hopes and dreams. Don’t let your fear paralyze you into inaction.

Remember, “mediocrity gets you pears” – Against Me!

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Daily Prompt: West End Girls | The Politics of Starving

Photo © USDAgov

Cities are often plagued with assumptions. Some of these assumptions are that cities have a mix of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. It’s a clear divide of rich and poor. Upper and lower class. The lower class encompass the working poor and homeless. Poverty exists, but the divide isn’t as clear cut as people may think, especially in a city like Toronto.

There’s a ton of pull factors for a lower class individual to choose an urban surrounding to live in as opposed to an suburban community. Some of these reasons include better outreach, services geared towards low income earners, and access to treatment and government centres. The other is rapid, cheap, and accessible transit. A monthly Metropass in Toronto is roughly $122 a month.

Being able to get around easily increases a person’s odds of locating and maintaining employment.

A friend of mine just found a bachelor apartment near Pape Subway Station in downtown Toronto for $600 a month (all inclusive). I make no claim that their place is the Taj Mahal. Though, it isn’t a Rat Den either. The location isn’t necessarily “downtown”, but it’s within walking distance of a Subway. This allows that individual to be anywhere in the “core” within a short period of time.

I’ve lived the majority of my life in the suburbs. I have seen policies, governments, and individuals have a false idea that the majority of people who live in the suburbs are well off – or to some extent not in need of assistance or support. The current need does not adequately match the services, programming, or supports in place.

When I work with students the first question I ask in the morning is, “have you eaten today?” followed by “do you have a lunch?”. The suburbs aren’t devoid of the same economic and social problems the urban communities have. The urban communities have a better time recognizing, helping, and supporting these individuals. The urban communities have a long history of tracking and responding to these problems as opposed to the various suburban communities. I’m not trying to downplay the services being created or the ones already in existence, but it’s clear that it’s not enough.

What I’m asking isn’t for people to give more generously, or to change their political affiliation. These are personal decisions. What I am asking for, and what I truly want is people to look past a person’s residency when determining the financial needs of individuals and families. Before money, supports, and services are increased we as a community have to first recognize the problem. The process is long and tedious. It may take many years, but these are the type of conversations we need to be having right now.

One day I hope that my first question and concern won’t be trying to figure out whether a child has gone without food or not.

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College and Predatory Statistics: How Students Are Being Exploited

Life is difficult. There’s plenty of directions our lives can take. It’s a daunting task, that isn’t always clear. I’ve tried things that didn’t necessarily work out. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten better at trying to direct myself down roads I think I can be successful in. I’ve been able to accomplish this task largely in part to me figuring out who I am as a person.

I know my strengths, as well as my weaknesses. A student fresh out of high-school doesn’t always know this. When I was a teenager I was vulnerable and susceptible to the opinions of others. Regardless of how strong willed any teenager is, they are all impressionable. Going to school and getting an education is important. I would say that this isn’t the route that everyone should or has to take. However, I will always advocate the importance of higher-education.

For many we see it as the logical next step when transitioning from high-school to the real world. Gearing our passions and dreams into our work allows us to take ideas and concepts and evolve them. I once read an article that made the point that many architects have one thing in common – they all played LEGO as a child. Our interests grow over time and change, just as we do.

Youth are vulnerable at this time in their lives. What I wanted when I was navigating my life through the treacherous waters of career planning was cold hard facts. I wanted it straight up, not watered down. I wanted to know what my Return on Investment was if I spent x amount of years and dollars in a program. I wanted to know what my job prospects were. I wanted statistics.

I wound up getting statistics, just extremely biased ones. I was told about a Key Performance Indicator or KPI Study Sheridan College does every year. The study is completed by recent graduates. The KPI chart includes the pool from which the statistics were drawn, or the number of students who completed the survey. The following columns are for employment rate and satisfaction rate. I was lead to believe that the industry I was pursuing was one of growth and prosperity. Of course there is some fault I will take as an individual, but I didn’t really understand post-secondary education at the time. Like many students you don’t fully understand that it’s more of a business than an educational institution until they’ve got your money.

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The picture above is an ad campaign used at George Brown College in Toronto. The ad promises that grads get “the job” within 6 months of graduation. It doesn’t specify what that job exactly is.

I received a call a couple months after graduation from Sheridan College asking me to answer a survey. I was asked once I graduated if I had a job, which I did. Like most of my peers I was gainfully underemployed. I wasn’t asked if I had found work in my chosen field of study. All they wanted to know was whether I had a job or not. The majority of my peers all went back to working the same jobs they had before they entered College. The program was obviously not overly successful at helping students find employment. I’d put the numbers at under 20% for the amount of students who found jobs related to Journalism, and that number is being generous. Though if you read the KPI you wouldn’t know that.

At the time it stated that the program had an 88% Graduate Employment Rate. Currently the program has an 80% Graduate Employment Rate. For any prospective student looking at this information the logical conclusion is that their future job prospects look rather good. These studies are disingenuous and harmful to students. They paint a false picture of the labour market. In many ways these statistics attempt to exploit and manipulate students. This is not a one College problem. Many educational institutions are guilty of this.

There will always be people who have a passion to do something, and will want to go to school for it. They are the people who will fight against all odds to do what they want to do in life. They are the people who will see the Graduate Employment Rate at 20% and say, “I’ll be part of that minority”. I believe that the majority of people aren’t like this, and those are the ones who suffer.

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We Need to Talk

I know you’re really worried for me, but you don’t need to be. Everything is going to be okay. Actually, everything has been okay for awhile now. I know you’ve heard me use the words suicide and depression. This kind of talk scares you. My intent was never to scare you.

I just wanted to let you know that it’s important to talk about these things. There was a time in my life when I was afraid to talk about them. Being able to express my thoughts and feelings saved my life. I often worry about others who can’t find the courage to talk about how they’re feeling.

I know you think that my colleagues, my friends, and family will look at me weird. I’m not afraid. I have nothing to be ashamed of. My experiences have given me the gift of empathy. It has helped me to help others. Everything is okay, and if it’s not I’ll let you know.

Love,

Ryan

The Top 5 Things Not to Do While Watching a Movie in Public

Photo © Alex

I love going to watch movies. It’s something I look forward to each and every week. I’ve had a bad string of luck recently. Every movie has been plagued with people who don’t understand what is and isn’t socially appropriate to do while watching a movie in public. I constructed this list based on my past experiences.

1) Talking

Talking is the most annoying and obvious thing you shouldn’t do while in a theatre. If you want to talk, go to Starbucks. Everyone paid to see the movie, they didn’t pay to listen to you talk about yourself or problems.

2) Going to a Movie While You’re Sick

If you’re sick, don’t go to the theatre. The last thing people want to do is hear you cough or sniff for two hours. You’re subconsciously telling everyone else in the theatre that your enjoyment is more important than the other 200 people in the auditorium. A person can ask another person to put their phone away, or stop talking – but how do you tell a sick person to not be sick? You can’t. Telling someone they shouldn’t be at a theatre is A LOT different than telling them to please be quiet.

If you’re the type of person who goes to movies while sick, you probably also park in front of stores and block traffic. If you’ve ever called someone out for this, they will likely tell you that they only have to run into the store to grab a couple things. I almost feel like saying to these people, “So does everyone else. Now go park your car”.

3) Checking Your Phone

If you need to check your phone or send a text, leave the theatre. In a dark theatre your phone is pretty much a flashlight. Placing your phone below your seat or covering it with your body does not work. People can still see it.

4) Adding Your Own Commentary

Save the insights and remarks till the end of the film. If you think you’re adding to others enjoyment, you’re not. If your goal was to draw attention to yourself and away from the film, then congratulations you succeeded. Don’t spoil my movie because you feel the need to validate yourself in public.

5) Excessive Eating

I’ll eat food while watching movies. I will however not eat an entire meal. If you’re hungry enough to go to a buffet, then go to a buffet. Don’t bring the buffet into the theatre. If All I hear from you is munch, munch, munch or crunch, crunch, crunch you successfully ruined my movie.

The 15 Best Romantic Indie Films to Watch While in a Relationship

Photo © Ania Mar

  • Serendipity
  • High Fidelity
  • The F Word
  • The Silver Linings Playbook
  • 500 Days of Summer
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • Away We Go
  • Celeste and Jesse Forever
  • Ruby Sparks
  • Beginners
  • Lars and the Real Girl
  • Cyrus
  • The Art of Getting By
  • Chasing Amy
  • Moonrise Kingdom

All of these films have helped me to understand the intricacies of relationships. Here’s a couple of those lessons;

High Fidelity taught me to not take your partner for granted. Don’t get lazy. Just because you have someone’s love and affection, does not mean that you always will.

The F Word taught me that douchebag boyfriend campers exist, and sometimes they’re not horrible people. What they do however is pretty shallow. In this movie’s case so was the actions of the female. If a girl recognizes she is developing feelings towards someone, and still continues to pursue a friendship with that individual she is compromising herself and her relationship. It might not be physical cheating, but it’s definitely emotional. I don’t consider one worse than the other. Physical cheating is usually the result of the individual’s inability to make mature and logical decisions. It shows character flaws in the cheater, not the person who got cheated on. On the flip side emotional cheating is usually the result of an unhealthy or unstable relationship. The causes usually stem from one person’s unhappiness or one person being unfulfilled. Emotional cheating is pre-meditated, where as physical cheating most times is random and spontaneous. People are afraid to lose what they have for the unknown. Friend Dating, as I like to call it is a way of seeing what’s out there without giving up what you have.

Chasing Amy taught me that your own insecurities can ruin your relationship. People have pasts, and sometimes they aren’t as sparkly clean as you want them to be. People are human, we’ve all made mistakes in our life. Wear your mistakes like a badge, don’t let others shame you. If someone can’t accept you, you’re better off without them.

Cyrus taught me what I already knew, which is kids and relationships can get pretty dodgy. Coming from a family whose parents split up when I was 11 years old, I know how complicated it can be having children and a girlfriend or boyfriend. Set boundaries, and also take into account your children’s age and their emotional development. Common sense should always be the rule of thumb here. In doubt, talk to professionals. Too often parents split up and jump into living situations with their new partner. Besides potentially causing further emotional damage to your children, you’re also being extremely selfish.

Away We Go taught me that home is what you make it. Sometimes fitting in isn’t easy. If you you’re not happy, keep searching. Home is not a particular building, or place. It’s the people you surround yourself with. When you become a family, you’re making a commitment not only to others but yourself.

An Open Letter to Every Angry Twenty Plus Year Old Male

Photo © of Ekkehard Streit

If you’re angry, so angry that you want to lay your hands on another human being – please avoid the following;

 Going to a bar and Drinking alcohol.

Besides the fact that there is far better ways to deal with your anger, you make yourself look like an idiot. You also perpetuate negative stereotypes about others your age. If you enjoy fighting, then please learn how to do it in an appropriate environment. Two in the morning in front of a bar while others are hailing down cabs is not appropriate place to start a fight. Punching someone does not prove superiority. It does not make you look attractive to others. Catching an assault charge, and potentially losing your job is just a few of your future consequences. Stop being a scum bag and grow up.

Sincerely,

Ryan

Some lessons were definitely learned tonight. I witnessed a guy lay a right hook into another male who dropped to his knees, the man then proceeded the kick the guy on his knees in the teeth. One person watching tried to stop the fight, which lead to that individual catching a random punch in the face.

I helped carry the guy who got kicked in the face back into the bar. I told the owner that, “you fed this guy too much alcohol, and that he’s now your problem.” I then asked a bartender for a clean rag, which I took outside and handed to the guy who caught the random punch. His eye was cut up pretty bad, he was going to need some stitches. I offered the guy with the cut up eye a ride to the hospital, but his friend showed up and told me he was the guys designated driver.

I’ve decided that I’m done with sticking around till last call. At about 1:30 I’m going home. At about 2:00 o’clock is when the bars turn their problems out onto the streets for the general public to deal with. I might be a person of good conscience, but I am not a security guard, a cop, a paramedic, or a mediator. Too often good people get caught playing these roles.

Understanding Different Personality Styles: Navigating the Personal and Professional World

I recently attended a workshop under the direction of TEDx speaker, Drew Dudley. Drew introduced my group to the four personality styles, which are 1) Analytical 2) Driver 3) Amiable and 4) Expressive. Essentially working in team requires people to work with a diverse number of people. This is common, however I started to think about how these personality types translate into peer relationships, and more importantly personal relationships. I’ve included a link to an article that is entitled, How to Negotiate with the 4 Personality Styles – and let’s be honest anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows that negotiation is pivotal to maintaining a relationship that is prosperous, but also harmonious.

We often consider the notion that it is important to understand the personality styles of those we work with, as our purpose is to create an effective team. Although we forget about friendships and personal relationships, as if they require less understanding or tact. I started to think about my conceptions of people, or rather misconceptions. I started to begin to realize that conflict or a preconceived notion that there was in fact a conflict may be based off our interpretation of other people’s personality. Meaning that I assumed there is a conflict in which I did something to offend or upset someone.

For example, a person who is analytical can come across as cold or ineffectual. That might not be the case, as an analytical person is self controlled and serious. They take time to develop established relationships, which is confusing to Expressive person as we see an Analytical person as possibly disliking us. In that sense it is very hard for an analytical person to develop new relationships, as being reserved sends an Expressive person mixed signals – we assume that the individual doesn’t want anything to do with us simply because they are unwilling to immediately open up to us, which is ridiculous to assume someone would. I can identify where some of my analytical friends struggle to develop new relationships, outside of their pre-existing ones. In fact, I can remember how long it took for me to develop friendships with these individuals to a level where they felt comfortable enough to involve me in the intricate parts of their lives. I’m grateful that this happened, regardless of the time it took for it to happen as I consider some of my analytical friends some of the best friends I have.

Another personality trait is Amiable, which is classified as being the Supporter. A person who is an Amiable is not assertive, but responsive. They are the soft-hearted person who wants to be everyone’s friend. They tend to be over-sensitive and their good nature can easily be taken advantage of. Amiable’s make great friends, however one must be careful not to influence their beliefs or decisions as an Amiable is easily persuaded. Drivers are another great example of someone who is often “misunderstood”. Drivers are often called the doers or implementers. Drivers are focused on getting things done. Drivers are time oriented, as opposed to Expressive’s who are people oriented. Drivers are firm, and controlled. Drivers do enjoy relationships, and are often confused as being Analytic’s. However, this is untrue as a Driver prefers to get to know someone before determining whether they are interested in developing a relationship with that person. It’s almost like a screening process that goes on to determine whether they will open up to you or not.

“We dislike people, because we see character traits in others that we dislike in ourselves” (Drew Dudley)

An example of this is that I’m often annoyed when an Expressive person constantly raises their hand to ask questions, or enjoys over involving themselves in group discussions or lectures. Why do I dislike when people do this? Because I myself do this! It’s important to understand your personality style and fulfil your personal needs, such as my need to be expressive – but to do it in a format that does not dominate the conversation or alienate myself from the team or group. It’s about knowing yourself, and controlling yourself.

At the same time, a person who is analytical could benefit from being openly more expressive as to help foster and promote new relationships. Obviously, people don’t fit perfectly into four categories as many people have traits that translate into various quadrants.

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