"In community people care for each other and not just for the community in the abstract, as a whole, as an institution or as an ideal way of life. It is people that matter; to love and care for the people that are there, just as they are. It is to care for them in such a way that they may grow according to the plan of God and thus give much life. And it is not just caring in a passing way, but in a permanent way. Because people are bonded one to another, they make up one family, one people, one flock. And this people has been called together to be a sign and a witness, to accomplish a particular mission wish is their charism, their gift.
Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p. 20
“Some days it's easier to say thank you world, thank you! Some days it's easier to look in the mirror than others. Some days it's easier to laugh at everything and feel the pure happiness of life. Some days it's easier to walk in your shoes and understand how you feel.”
Life & Art -- Misty Mawn.
Let’s face it, some days it is easier to look in the mirror than others. But, as the author pointed out in What Came Down Today,
“Joy is not something that you get handed, you have to seek it out. Today, in the midst of work and appointments and bill paying, and the general lub-lub of Monday, do like me and seek out something joyful.”
Or, to put it another way: "I chose joy rather than overwhelm and it changed everything," as Aprille Janes said in her blog post, "Choose Joy."
In a previous post, “Choose Joy”, my daughter wrote about the power of choice. One person who embodies joy, for her, is Robert Hajjar, Founding Director of IDEAL-WAY.ca. "Rob, who has Down syndrome, constantly exudes happiness and warmth. He doesn't waste time with negativity, but chooses, instead, to revel in life's gifts.” After making “a few small changes”, she was able to “experience what Rob must feel every day: a sense of contentment and appreciation for life.”
So, in a nutshell, what is Rob’s secret? To give you a clue, on the Sept. 12th - 13th weekend, in Hamilton, Ontario, Robert Hajjar was the featured keynote speaker at the Best Buddies National Leadership Conference.
After hearing Robert's inspiring words, Zack Langille, a 15-yr-old student, and a buddy, said, "I had a great time and learned a lot, but I was really inspired and moved by a man named Rob Hajjar. Rob Hajjar has founded an organization called IDEAL.WAY.ca. He travels to conferences, schools and such to teach people about others with intellectual disabilities. And to believe a man can do all of this, even having Down syndrome himself. It is amazing how much one person can change your life, and it is truly inspiring to know that anyone can.”
(In fact, Zack was so moved by Robert’s words that he created a group on Facebook: “Get Rob Hajjar on Ellen!” "Rob's dream is to one day be on the Ellen Degeneres Show, and I am trying to help him reach that goal. All I am asking is to click on the link, and apply him on the "how to be on the show" section of Ellen's website.”)
After hearing Robert’s inspiring words, what do I see when I look in the mirror? I see ability: the ability to choose joy every single day, rather than 'some days.' I also see a slew of post-it notes, with Robert Hajjar quotes emblazoned all over them.
“I do not let the negative into my life, only the positive.”
“Leadership is attitude.”
“I am proud of who I am, and what I’ve done.”
“Yes, I have a disability, but I ask you to see my ‘ability’.”
“Never let anyone tell you that you can’t do something.”
“I want to inspire you to follow your dreams.”
Photo credit: Mark Ferguson. Photo taken at Robert's presentation, at the Community Living Georgina AGM