Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What Do You See When You Look in the Mirror?

"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



a buddy said...

Rob Hajjar delivers his important message from the heart, and he is as good a showman as some (mainstream) professionals! PLUS, he's a great dancer!

Rob really rocks!

Maureen Lee said...

Thanks for visiting our blog! You're right: Robert is a great showman, plus a nifty dancer. And as one life coach said, "He would make a wonderful life coach!"

Rob really does rock, doesn't he? Everything he says comes from his heart, which is part of the reason his words resonate with people.

Anonymous said...

I am so impressed with everything that is going on. Today we focus on teens as not being what they should be. Then we have Zack, and everyone who is supportive of Robert's dream.

Congraulations to IdealWay and all those connected.

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. ~Margaret Mead

Anonymous said...

Absolutely amazing. Everyone in our office loved the video. Robert is inspiring indeed!

Maureen Lee said...

Thanks for your feedback - I love that particular Margaret Mead quote, and it's so fitting. Without the help of young people, IDEAL-WAY wouldn't be where it is now. Maybe the media should focus on teens who are making a difference in our world!

I'm glad that everyone in your office loved the video - Robert is very inspiring!

Cynthia, Oshawa said...

Maureen, you never cease to amaze me! Where did you hear about Robert and the Ideal-Way organization? He was absolutely fantastic to watch and truly a born speaker! Can't wait to see him dance with Ellen!! How wonderful that he can lend his voice to those who have none. Please keep up your terrific blog ... you certainly have a way with words!

Maureen Lee said...

Thank you for your kind words, Cynthia. Actually, I found out about the IDEAL-WAY organization through a good friend, Addie Daabous. I had already been introduced to Robert, who is Addie's nephew.

When Addie told me that she, and Don Yeo (CEO), had created an organization for special needs persons - at the behest of her nephew! - I was immediately intrigued. I couldn't stop thinking about this wonderful organization, and felt blessed, and honoured, when they asked me to be a board member.

If you would like to read about how it all got started, check out www.ideal-way.ca, under "The Beginning".

I agree: How wonderful it is that Rob has a passion to lend his voice to those who have none.

Lance Boldt said...

Robert - what a life you are living. Thank you for all you do to make everyone's life better especially those with disabilities.

Some thoughts on being part of the Down syndrome community (lots of dancing and music) and missing out because our boys with Down syndrome have passed away.


Maureen Lee said...

Lance, your blog touched my heart. Yes, your blog "lifted my spirits, deepened my compassion, validated my own trials and continued the blessing that Josh and Ben have been in your lives". Through your blog, Josh and Ben will continue to touch our lives with their loving spirits - and I thank you for sharing their stories with us.

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