Tag Archives: encouragement

Why I was ashamed to be a Canadian

I think the best way to begin this is by telling you about my family history.
My father arrived to this beautiful country all by himself as a teenager. After finishing high school in Manitoba, he came to study at the University of Saskatchewan where he met my mother, received his two degrees and proceeded to work there for another two decades.

Over my entire lifetime, I have had to learn about ignorance because it wasn’t something that even existed to cross my mind as a child. My household was a literal example of cross-cultural acceptance.  I simply thought it was normal that people had different backgrounds and cultures. I learnt about Norwegian customs: we celebrated Christmas eve with Yule Bread, the Nativity scene, and lefse. I learnt about Chinese New Year: All of the superstitions, what the big meal meant, and how to get that red envelope from my elders 😉 Two of my great aunts spent several decades overseas, one in India and the other in Ethiopia, so we heard all kinds of stories about life across the globe and how differently people lived, yet how similarly we all love.

Most importantly, I learnt about how crucial it is to embrace people and make them feel like they are home. My mom has taught English as an Additional Language to immigrants, and my dad worked as a researcher out of the University for years. Through their jobs, we met several different people from all over the globe.  Over the years, on holidays and for different family events, we welcomed foreign students, new immigrants and some people who just couldn’t get all the way home for special holidays. I remember my dad once telling me that it was important to him to do so because so many people welcomed him and made him feel at home when he came to Canada. It never really was a question, if we knew someone would be alone for a holiday, they were to be invited to the Chan household.

Tonight I sat in shock as he recounted the following story to me. He has an assigned parking spot at the location where he has been working. When he came to park in that spot, he was surprised to find someone sitting in the spot. After pointing to indicate that it was his spot, the driver refused to move for him. After a bit of a standoff, he had to go back to work, so he got out of his car and asked the lady to move out of his parking spot. Her response still confuses me. “You’re trouble. You immigrants are the problem.” She then threatened to call the police and told him he was in trouble.

Ok, let me just stop there. I’m very confused by this statement. So, his immigration to Canada over 4 decades ago somehow relates to YOU parking in HIS spot HOW? This person repeated this phrase and sentences similar to it over and over again, somehow insulted by his simple request to park in the spot that he was entitled to.

In light of recent events around the world, the issue of immigration/refugees has garnered quite a lot of spotlight. Ignorant, rude, racist statements have been exchanged over social media and fear has somehow overtaken this once open-hearted nation. My father, who always seems to find a way to make new friends laugh, yet possesses a quiet, strong way of taking in the world around him has never been one to “cause trouble” because he believes it wouldn’t change anything. Perhaps he is right. I’m sure there are people who will always harbour this kind of fear, anger, hatred and ignorance in their hearts. But I have to believe that the more we talk about how wrong these kinds of occurrences are, the less it will happen.  My heart is broken, and it took me a while to figure out why.

My heart is broken, because I realized that it had nothing to do with my father being an immigrant, and everything to do with the fact that he wasn’t white. And some white person somehow believed that she was more entitled to a parking spot for that simple fact. Here’s a thought: Unless you can trace your ancestry back and are 100% native to this land, all of us have been immigrants, or come from people who immigrated at some point.  And, not only have we broken the hearts of those who cared for and loved this land before we set foot on it, but have flourished simply from being here, instead of somewhere else.  How does that entitle any of us to anything more than another? This kind of hatred and ignorance is something that I had believed in my heart of hearts wasn’t part of Canada. I don’t know that I could say that I’ve ever felt ashamed of being a Canadian until tonight. Because tonight, I am ashamed of sharing citizenship with someone who could be so wrong.

But then, I think of others who have immigrated to this country. And it makes me proud to share citizenship with someone who could be so right. And this is what being a Canadian is truly about. My father has taught me a lot of things about being a Canadian: do not create conflict- but stand up for yourself and what is right, respect your government, seek peace,  care for your neighbours and your neighbours’ neighbours, always do what is right-even when no one is watching, work hard, do your best, be proud of who you are, show grace and forgiveness even if it is unsolicited and probably undeserved.  I suppose I have a lot to learn from my father, who it seems, has grasped the true nature of being Canadian better than some who were born on this soil.

Initially I was angry, and wanted to post an image of that person, but I knew it would only create more anger and backlash for that person. I guess you could say that I then became ashamed of my own anger and hateful attitude.  Plus, I just don’t believe this kind of hurtful behaviour really deserves specific attention. Despite my own initial anger, I know this is not the Canadian way.

In conclusion, I’m not ashamed of our country at all and I’m sorry if the title threw you off. I’m ashamed that we still have people like this here. Because I do believe that we are a nation that stands for multiculturalism and tolerance and peace. None of these attributes were represented in this woman’s actions, but I believe that my dad did stand for these things in his response. Initially what I wrote began as an angry outlet, which I didn’t necessarily intend to share, given the amount of anger already floating around on the Internet. It soon became my attempt to write a different sort of post- one that doesn’t just stand by and let this kind of behavior simply happen without note, but brings to light a more positive outlook instead of feeding the monster I call the angry Internet troll. Peace, love, grace and patriotism do prevail- I LOVE being Canadian. It’s true: pride ourselves on being kind, polite, and welcoming, and we do love beer, maple syrup and hockey (along with apologizing too much, eh?).

But let’s not fool ourselves, we still have much work to do. Above all my patriotism lies with the human race and all of the people fighting to let love win. Far too often, people stand on two sides of an issue and fire different kinds of hatred at each other. I’m hoping this encourages people to stand for justice while keeping in mind that love and kindness go a long way.

My dearest Canadians and fellow citizens of this beautiful planet, let us open up our hearts again. Fight hate and fear with love, grace and forgiveness.

xoxo

love ehjae

 

Chan

 

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An Open letter to the Brokenhearted

I’m sorry. Those are words that you need to hear, but you may not have heard them yet. So, I am sorry that you are hurting.

You are hurt and confused.  You thought this relationship was the end of the games, the confusion and the hurt. You’ve thought, “Given the pain I’ve been through, there can’t be more.” Yet here you are again, alone with the pieces of your fragmented heart, wondering how it could happen again. After all of the time that you spent rebuilding and learning to trust again, how are you sitting in your room, crying over someone?

It will be your first inclination to close off that wonderful heart of yours. You are thinking, “That’s it. I’m not doing this again.  I don’t ever want to hurt like this ever again.” Please don’t hide that light from the world.  Not everyone will speak lies.  Not everyone will betray you.  Not everyone will hurt you in your weakest moments.  But everyone DOES see that glittering light that shines from your soul, and they are drawn to your love and joy. Don’t let him/her steal that from you on top of everything else.

You are asking yourself, “How will I ever trust anyone again? How will I ever trust myself again?” You will.  Not today, and probably not tomorrow; but you will. How do I know? Because that’s what makes you you.  Your resilient heart, your enduring optimism, and the light that you see in every other person. You have your own beautifully unique way of reaching others. Only you can love people the way that you do. Don’t let anyone put out your light.

Don’t run away from those wonderful friends and family in your life; those people who see your worth and never capitalize on your love.  They will endure with you, encourage you, and speak truth to you. (Even when you don’t want to hear the truth).  They will listen with love and care for you in the ways that you need.

Do listen to your feelings.  Do feel. Do process with your closest people. Do trust again, it will be worth it. The right person will never let you feel like this. The right person will never let you question your worth. The right person will see you, all of your darkness and scarring, and they will still choose you.  The right person will make you feel like you are the only person in the world that they could possibly love. The right person will be the one who makes you feel alive again.

For now, let that person be you.  Love You with all that you have.  You are worth loving.  Your heart is worth protecting.  Your mind is worth knowing.  Your soul is worth celebrating.

You will wake up one morning and the ache will be a memory; you will breathe deeply into your soul and celebrate the new adventures you are about to embark on. When that day comes, I hope I can join you on that journey.

 

love ehjae

Moment

Life is full of moments.

Moments that stand still

Moments that fly by, where you soar high

Moments when you can’t see and you can’t breathe

and you begin to wonder if you’ve ceased to be

       Anything

Worth loving

——-

NO

——–

We

need

to see

that this is not who we’re meant to be

That life is full of these moments

So that we know what it means to be free

A new year doesn’t mean no tears

Happy New Year.

I wish I could sit here and fill your hearts with inspiration, but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.  I spent the New Year surrounded by people, yet feeling completely alone. In truth, I’m writing this post half out of desperation to escape the tears I’ve been crying in the darkness of my house, and partially to reach out to those of you who are in the same place as me.  You are not alone.

2014 has been a year full of milestones for me.  My business has been flourishing, doors have opened, and I’ve had recognition in ways I could never have imagined. The opportunities are endless.  However, the past year has also been full of heartache, depression, anxiety, and loneliness.

There have been days when the darkness suffocated me, and I hid my tears and anxiety under the covers of my bed.  I know people don’t understand because I can be laughing and having fun, but they don’t see the emptiness I can be feeling in the midst of my laughter.   While it’s true that I’m having fun in those moments, nothing can fill the skeleton that has overtaken my soul.

While Jesus remains the hope I cling to, somedays it just doesn’t feel like He is enough. My one saving grace has been expressing these emotions through my art and poetry.  I’ve also begun to speak to someone who has professional insight into the biology behind the darkness I live within. I highly recommend it.

While everyone else has been excitedly writing new resolutions and plans for their futures, I’m barely holding on while the thoughts are crashing in: another year may bring many more sleepless nights and this overwhelming sense of despair will come back to steal more of my joy.

My New Years resolution is nothing new at all. If anything it is a revolution against painted smiles and being shamed into silence.  I desire to be transparent with my emotions, find strength in my weaknesses, to speak truth into darkness and shed light onto desperately lonely places. So this is to my dear ones who have stumbled upon this blog, desperate to know they are not alone in this world, seeking a place to be heard:

You are not alone in your sadness.  You are not alone in your despair.  The darkness will NOT overcome you. Stay strong, beautiful ones. You are stronger than you know.

love ehjae

 

 

http://www.helpguide.org/articles/depression/depression-signs-and-symptoms.htm

http://depressionhurts.ca/

http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/understanding-mental-illness/depression/

http://www.camh.ca/en/hospital/health_information/a_z_mental_health_and_addiction_information/depression/Pages/default.aspx

3 Mistakes I’ve made as a Wedding Photographer

I’ve been a part-time photographer for 7 years now, and in the full-time biz for a year. In that short time, I’ve already made more mistakes than I care to count. In sharing a few of them with you, I hope that you can avoid them!

1. Not having a system.
I am a typical artist. Un-organized, scatterbrained, and a little bit forgetful. (where are my keys?) So often, my editing process would double and sometimes triple in time because I couldn’t remember which photos had been culled, or what I had promised to one client in our discussions. Charge the same amount for everyone, have a set rule for what each client receives, and for the love of your poor soul- get someone to help you figure out a system. Ex. Import photos AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME, have a backup system (I have an external harddrive, as well as online backup. https://www.backblaze.com/).

2. Not Knowing My Value
Do you believe your work holds value? Do you believe that you have something to offer that no one else does? You should. Because you do. You are the only version of you in existence.  Only you can see the world as you do.  Only you can inspire people’s souls as you do.  I have often allowed others to devalue me.  Not necessarily always by word, but also in deed.  When someone has tried to discredit my value by telling me that I am “too expensive” in the past, I have often tried to meet them by offering a discount. DO NOT DO THAT. Am I saying that you should never cut someone a deal? Absolutely not.  But I am saying that if someone devalues you from the start, they are not the person you want to work with. No $$ value is going to make them see your worth. In agreeing with them and lowering your cost, you are telling them that they are correct: “You aren’t worth what you are asking. ” Please, Please, PLEASE! Remember that this costs you more than money. Your life holds significant value, what time is spent on these clients is time never gotten back. It IS NEVER WORTH investing your time and heart and soul and sacrificing them for people who don’t love what you do.

(Need to hear more about your worth? Read a previous post about “Knowing Your Worth“)

3. Viewing Everyone as Competition
This ties into #2. Technically, where I live is an incredibly oversaturated photography market. We all do. With the growing accessibility to nice cameras, everyone and their dog has opened photography “businesses.” While it has been incredibly tempting to judge and hold resentment on those who drive the industry pricing downwards without offering much to the industry itself, I have learnt that this is a harmful mindset.  All of us begin somewhere.  Remember that every person has intrinsic value. All of us have been touched by art in some form or another to have picked up a camera. To view them as competition is to view them as an object, an obstacle: Something to crush or jump over. Instead, view your fellow photographers as companions: together you are inspiring the world with beauty. Someone inspired us to pursue our passions. We are all People first. Artists second. Businesses last.

I hope that you have found something in this list to guide you away from a few of the mistakes I’ve made. Any thing to add, or do you have any questions? I’d love to hear from you!

love ehjae

STUPID

I’ve cried after every single one of the tests I’ve written this year in school so far.

(Yes. I am a sensitive person. Perhaps overly sensitive.)

After every one of these exams, the greatest lie that I’ve had to battle is this one:

“I AM STUPID.”

Of course to which, all of my lovely friends (when I’ve expressed this struggle) have lovingly responded, “You’re not stupid.”  But of course, I don’t believe that. It’s because I’ve stubbornly chosen to dictate my worth through these numbers

What I’m realizing is that it comes down to this silly fact that in our society, we base our identities on numbers.

Weight

Calories

Facebook friends/likes

How much money we make

How many relationships we have or haven’t had

How much square footage in our houses

How old we are

How many countries we’ve visited

GRADES

There are so many other numbers that we use to dictate our worth.

WHY do we do that?!

I’ve chosen to believe that all there is to me is what you see,

what can be measured by a one or a three, but really- in reality

if my worth was completely based on something created,

then I am flawed like a Picasso

out of key like an old piano

swept

     aside

But what if my worth was based on a perfect love? A perfect creator?

Someone who sees me, who loves me, and adores me and tells me my purpose is for something greater?

What if I saw myself the way that He sees me?

Then the numbers would fall away

I would see the beauty and  the design of my brokenness,

masterpiece created by a Master Artist

I could hear that perfect pitch, my verse in harmony

  just a small piece of the Great Symphony

Swept

up

by the gust of great love,
a fierce wind that shatters the prison of numbers

I could be free, if I would only believe that He is the only number that matters. He’s the ONE who cares for me. He’s the ONE who created me.  He’s the ONE who died for me.

I am not stupid. I am not dumb. I am blessed to go to school, and to learn, but more than that: I am blessed to be known, loved and called worthy by a perfect Creator who loves with His perfect, unconditional love.