Tag Archives: good life

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

One step at a time

I’ve discovered a peace in my life lately that has settled into my soul.

Unshakeable, unbreakable, yet fragile and vulnerable. That’s how I feel.

I can look back on my life and see moment after moment of brokenness, but moment after moment after moment of the light breaking into that dark brokenness. I want to be real. I want to be genuine. I want people to know that they are loved; That I love them; That the love that pours out of me is an outpouring of the love I’ve been given.

How much do I share from my heart? How much of my soul do I bare? Somedays, the darkness is unbearable and all I can do is cry out one single word. “Jesus!” He just knows. I know that some of you who may read this don’t share my beliefs. I don’t care, because I’ll love you just the same. But if I could only express the comfort in knowing in those dark, dark moments that He knows and loves me despite my shortcomings.. Oh.. if I could only share that with the world.

Dead leaves

Dead Leaves

I wrote this sometime in the fall, and didn’t post it then for some reason. However, it was a good reminder for me today in the midst of the bitter cold.

Dead leaves always remind me of my life.

I have learned that life is a series of cycles.

I’m sad because the trees that were once vibrant with colour and life have lost their covering and are now standing naked and vulnerable. I can relate to that. I think back to Spring in my life, times where I sat in the presence of God, soaking in His goodness and life was good.

Yet it doesn’t last,  crap happens, and all of a sudden the cold and dreary take over my heart and suddenly I find myself reflecting upon mere remembrances of the vibrance and beauty.

I don’t want to acknowledge it.  If I rake up the leaves, that means that snow is coming. Winter is hard. There is so much to persevere in winter. Cold, dark mornings. Struggling to get out of bed. Struggling into and out of winter clothing. Shovelling. I don’t hate winter, but I think we would all agree that waking up in the summer to a bright, shining sun and 20+ weather is less of a struggle.

I know that it has to be done. But I’m stubborn. I want to rake the leaves myself.  I’ve had several people knock on the door to ask if they could rake the leaves for me. No, I want to do it myself. I need to do it myself.

I know that if I can make it through the Winter, Spring will soon return and suddenly, I will not be naked and exposed, but stronger for having braved the cold, bitter elements

the change in my life

Over the past couple of years, my life has consisted of so much change. Since I graduated from high school, I’ve moved 9 times. My heart has gone on more rollercoasters than I would care to admit. I’ve gone to school, then not gone to school, then back to school more times than I want to even figure out.  These are all things I’ve chosen to pursue.

It’s taken me THIS long to realize that I’ve had the wrong perspective. I’ve been praying about everything the wrong way.

Every time something changed, every time my heart broke and the ground fell out from underneath me, I clung to this:

I trusted that God had a plan.

I prayed for my circumstances to change and come into alignment with that plan; That something crazy would happen so that I would know with absolute certainty what the future held.

But that’s not really what needed to change. My Heart needed to change.

I’m not saying that it’s bad to pray for a change in circumstances, but I don’t want that to be the first priority. Now, I’m trying to pray for my heart to come into alignment with His regardless of my circumstances.  Why not declare the things that are known to be true over the uncertainties that give me anxiety? No matter how I feel, even if the numbness has overtaken me, I will declare His truth.

Life is uncertain and full of change, I don’t know what’s next.

He is unchanging, forever the same and one thing that I do know is that He is good.

I stumbled upon this song today accidentally, but it totally expressed what I’ve been feeling in my heart. This song is a declaration of the truths that God has been revealing to me lately. I’m overwhelmed with the ways that He continues to remind me every day about how much He knows my heart and cares about me.

His light shines and my heart glows.

Comparison Game Over

There is a certain type of question that I hear almost daily, and I have decided to divert conversations, politely decline to answer or, in extreme cases, simply walk away if asked.

“What did you get on that test/assignment?”

When someone asks the question I mentioned above, someone always loses. It’s a seemingly harmless question, but one that can take a person’s confidence and shatter it into pieces.

It’s the comparison game. We all play it. Who’s prettier? Who’s stronger? Who’s smarter? Who’s uglier? Who’s weakest? Who’s stupid? Usually we ask the positive ones: “Who’s prettier?” But in doing so, we also answer “Who’s uglier?” Why in the world are we doing this to ourselves? To each other?

When I’ve been asked about my marks in the past, I’ve felt either one of two ways in the end: Pleased with myself or completely dejected. The reality is that I don’t really want to know what you got on your midterm. I do want to know how you felt about it, but please don’t tell me your mark. One of us will be suddenly filled with a sense of relief and victory whilst the other is suddenly thrown into a pit of self-loathing and a sense of hopeless stupidity. I’m tired of it. I don’t want to feel either way. Either way, no one wins.

I purposely stopped weighing myself a couple of years ago because I don’t want to know what I weigh.  What I do want to know is that I’m healthy. How do I measure that? Not by numbers, but by my lifestyle. Am I staying active? Am I eating well? Do I feel happy, well-rested and healthy?I don’t want to compare myself to someone else’s numbers. I don’t ask another person how much they weigh.
Because one of us, regardless of how content we may have been before the question, will undoubtedly leave with a mountain of new questions. “Why don’t I weigh the same? Does that mean I’m fat? Does that mean I’m ugly?”

The comparison game is the same with school. I don’t want to measure my intelligence by comparing it with yours. I want to learn all that I can, and measure my intelligence by my pursuit of knowledge. I want to compare myself with myself. I want to compete with myself, to be the best that I can be. The only academic standard that I need to meet is my own. You should meet yours. We can study together to help each other learn more, to grow more and to be all that we can be. But let’s learn and grow together so that we can learn to be better versions of ourselves, not better than each other because then no one grows.

“Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.”
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity