Monthly Archives: September 2013

Revelations: Do What You Love

 

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I remember writing a month and a half ago about how I was dissatisfied with almost every aspect of my life and set out to make Changes. Shortly after making that post I heard from a friend who hadn’t spoken to me in about two years due to a falling out, it was such a nice surprise to hear from him. Not only was it nice to catch up after so long, but seeing and hearing about all that he’s done over the past couple years was very inspiring and motivating…

Speaking with someone who in comparison to myself has “got it all together” motivated me to really get on track. When I say “got it all together” I don’t mean they’re making crap loads of money, what I mean is they have discovered their passion in life and are living it fully. They are living a life that’s full of spontaneity and excitement, and earning their living at the same time. Ironically, seven years ago when we first met he was the one who would say “you’re beating me in life” cause I made more money than he did.

I used to think that I would have to make a choice in life and either work a job that pays well but brings me little fulfillment and have my passions just be hobbies or do what I’m passionate about full time and be broke cause it’s not a “real job” Seeing in black and white this way has been one of my weaknesses, even after going to Tanzania and meeting an amazing woman who lives her passion through her work and being inspired by her I ended up having difficulties seeing the same for myself. That recent re-connection with my friend has hurled me into action and it feels amazing. Work is going well, and although I know what I’m doing now isn’t my final destination, I’m building a financial foundation to do the things I want to and  am getting better at accepting this as one of the necessary steps in moving towards the future rather than whining about not being farther ahead. I actually just won an incentive trip to Cancun from my work for January! This gives me even more motivation to keep working out and taking care of myself. 

I know I had said I would work out in moderation, aiming for three times a week but something happened and I fell completely head over heels in love with it again. To the point that I can bolt out of bed at 5am to do it and I am NOT a morning person at all. Typically if anyone interrupts my sleep I will want to murder them, when it’s exercise that interrupts my sleep though, I am one real happy girl! Much of my spare time has been invested in preparing delicious healthy food, working out, learning more about nutrition and fitness and sharing what I know with others. With food my creativity is flourishing once again, when I feel a craving for something less than healthy come on, an idea for a healthy substitute usually comes to mind automatically and I’m lucky that in being a scientist by nature, I don’t need to follow recipes to cook.  Seems I’ve rediscovered something I’m passionate about and want to build a future around.

I mentioned before that I have a lot of great ideas, but have often lacked follow through. Surprisingly, (I know, it’s terrible for me to be surprised at my own forward momentum) things have been flowing at a nice pace.  I’m teaching friends how to eat, and how to work out, keeping them motivated and following their plans to a T. I even scoured my friends fridge in TO this weekend to make sure there wasn’t anything in there that shouldn’t be lol.  Once this becomes a set lifestyle for them, I’ll have some amazing people to vouch for me 🙂 

Another big thing is, I’ve stopped worrying and being critical of myself for not being farther ahead in life……I don’t know exactly how I accomplished that but taking action that is fueled by positive inspirations rather than that fueled by fear and anxieties about not being where I want to be in life is FAR more productive. Another positive source of inspiration in my life other than the friend who re-connected has been my father. It’s funny that it’s taken me 28 years to see him as a source of inspiration, but I suppose I had a few things to learn before I could see it. My father has so much passion for his work, he’s in his late 60’s and tried to retire at one point but he was bored and lacked energy. When he’s working he’s up before the sun every morning and drives over an hour to the site he’s working at.  When something gets you out of bed every morning and you don’t complain about it, that’s passion. When something draws you away a bit from other aspects of your life but not to your detriment, that’s passion. My dad built his business on a dream, and many people told him he was crazy to even try. He educated himself independently and started with trial and error, and almost twenty five years later he’s still going strong even though he’s had some major ups and downs.

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What I had to learn before I could see my dad as an inspiration is, life is hard, and the only way to be successful is hard work and dedication. It took me a while to catch onto that one, although my dad had to work really hard for everything he’s ever gotten in life, I just had everything handed to me. This gave me the idea that life was easy and success could happen overnight. Once life stopped giving me free rides, the realizations about how important strong work ethic is came along…..the realizations that if I didn’t work hard now I would not have the career I want by the time I’m in my early 30’s kicked in. I used to think I could sit around on my butt and do a bit of work here and there and the rest would take care of itself. This is why independent projects I’ve started working on the past have always come to a halt. In my actual jobs, I look back now and see that I mostly got by on my looks and charms, I once got an 11% raise within 5 months of starting a job for major reasons!

I’m not content with that though, sure it’s money and it can be sustained easily with looks and charm, but it’s not passion and (gasp!) what if my looks are gone someday? Now I don’t feel great unless what’s given to me is earned through hard work, even if it’s not one of my great life passions I’m working at, that sense of earning something really feels great. My overall approach to work has changed quite a bit, and this whole hard work thing that I wanted to avoid like the plague in the past is now proving to actually be pleasant and rewarding. I know it’s even more rewarding when that hard work is being put into something you’re really passionate about….now that I’ve found something that really makes me tick, and have discovered that genuine hard work is actually great, it is time to work at combining my two findings into something grand! 

I also realized that in addition to hard work, the path to success involves sacrifice and discipline. Through my twenties I spent most of my time frivolously on other people to the detriment of my own professional development. I mean, look back at some of my older articles and you will see that the bulk of them are about my dating life and the opposite sex. Not that there’s anything wrong with that lol, we all need some lovin’. The way I see things now is, that can wait. In my mind it’s easier to accept not being in a successful relationship until later on than it is to accept not having the career I want until later on and quite frankly, I think sustainable relationships are easier to cultivate later on anyhow, at least until you’ve gotten through the bulk of your  “know thyself” and “to thyself be true” lessons in life, I seem to have taken a long ass time with mine. I’m not saying that this is an absolute truth for everyone my age, I know plenty of people my age who seem perfectly on track, know exactly what their goals are and are in great relationships. The things I write about are a reflection of what I put my energy into and prioritize, for a little while I think I was doing things backwards if career and achieving personal goals are higher priorities for me than dating and relationships. 

That being said, I am looking forward to including more posts on this blog re: professional development, inspiration to achieve success, and strategies that have worked well for me. Life is definitely on an upswing at the moment 🙂 

 

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That’s Racist! part deux

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In much of he western world, we live in multicultural nations. Over the past decade this has been depicted more so through the media which includes more characters of ethic minorities who are not there to fulfill a stereotype. These characters are there to reflect actual demographics and break archetypes of the past . It is even apparent when watching the news, that anchors are from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds reflecting the society we live in.

What baffles me though, is, why are we still dealing with racist hate crimes and xenophobia in this day and age? and in particular, why does the US seem to have so many more issues with xenophobia than Canada? The topic of racism has sat in the back of my mind all day and was initially sparked when I saw a news report this morning about a girl of Indian decent winning the tittle of miss America. I didn’t see what the big deal was considering in nations where immigration has fueled the population growth, it’s not unusual to walk down the street and see people from every ethnic background who were born American, Canadian etc. I do realize that no matter how multicultural and advanced we become, there will always be xenophobes and people who make generalizations and place negative stereotypes on certain ethnic groups. Of course there are some stereotypes that are actually true, like Persians driving white bmw’s. This is a true statement as I lived in a building that was primarily Persian for a few years and they even influenced me to buy one and Persians wearing too much cologne, the hallways almost consistently smelled like it!

Another true stereotype is Asians cannot drive, just go drive around the Pacific mall parking lot and you will see what I’m talking about. Good thing I still remember how to swear in Cantonese

Sadly though, there are some other stereotypes out there that hold no truth whatsoever. For example, the way middle eastern people are conveyed by western media as violent terrorists. It’s ironic, that if you look at most large scale public attacks in North America that have happened over the past couple years, they have been carried out by Caucasians.  Prior to 9/11, the deadliest American terrorist attack on record was carried out by Timothy McVeigh, yet I don’t live in fear of Caucasians or stereotype them as aggressive, violent etc. So why then do we often see fear and hate towards people who are Islamic, or even just appear as if they may be Islamic? I believe it is because the qualities of aggressiveness and violence are the only qualities ever displayed in the media linked to people of middle eastern decent and it instills fear in those who are less than worldly. A lack of worldliness and relying on the most easily accessible forms of media to gain education about what’s going on around you without questioning is a dangerous practice.  Unfortunately for some people out there, they cannot do much better than this, just watch five minutes of here comes honey boo boo. They’re illiterate so where else can they get their information from than the tv? They’re getting pregnant at the age of 13 so there’s no time to focus on expanding education and questioning things. They are too busy shoveling their obese faces full of fried chicken to look at what they see on television objectively.

So then, is this mentality the fault of all the uneducated hicks? I wish it were as simple as pinning this all on them for not venturing outside their boxes, but how can one venture when they are not given the inspiration to do so?

This leads me to question why is it that in Canada we have towns where people are pregnant as teenagers, drop out of high school or barely make it through and have little interest in anything outside of that little bubble yet there is almost a complete lack of racism? I grew up in a small city called Brantford which although the population is about 100,000 it still carries a real small town mentality. They didn’t get their first Starbucks until just a few years ago, they don’t have normal ice cream shops, they’re all little shacks where you go get your ice cream at a window that are only open in summer. They have one of the highest teen pregnancy rates in Canada! In my elementary school I was always the only kid of minority or one of two and I never had any issues based on the colour of my skin. Sure there may have been a bit of ignorance about what my background was, but there was never any hate directed towards me based on me being a minority. I don’t ever have any good things to say about Brantford because it’s a shit hole, but if I had to state the one best quality of that city, it would be the acceptance of minorities despite the town having an overall hick mentality.

I believe this distinction between Canada and the US exists due to differing fundamental values. America is classified as a melting pot, and Canada a cultural mosaic. I feel it’s a lot easier to come up with a definition of “American” than it is for “Canadian” when speaking in terms of culture.  When you think of American, you think of Hollywood movies, celebrity, large chains which have gone global, a lifestyle of wanting the best of everything and not wanting to work very hard for it, buying everything on credit and an overall sense of having to conform to a certain  way of being to fit in and be accepted. On the other hand, Canada is a lot less defined in terms of what’s Canadian, we have very little of anything that has blown up globally and also very little established in terms of what a typical “Canadian” lifestyle is. Don’t get me wrong, I know that American’s lifestyles differ greatly from person to person, but there is still that “American Dream” mentality that exists causing many people to feel like they have to conform to specific ideals, resulting in the melting pot. In Canada, we don’t ascribe to beliefs in a “Canadian Dream”. Immigrants travelling to both nations often do so looking for better opportunities in life. However, when the whole “American Dream” concept is removed from the picture, they’re able to cultivate their new lives more organically while comfortably maintaining aspects of their culture. When people are given not only the legal freedom to live and express their own culture along with the psychological freedom to do so, underlying tensions based on race, ethnicity and religion are seldom. In a society where immigrants are granted legal liberties of living and expressing their culture yet are consistently fed messages of “the American Dream” subliminally, it creates a paradox in which citizens can express and practice their cultures freely, but only if they’re American enough. This results in many keeping their cultures behind closed doors and shared only with others of their same cultural background. In turn, this leaves their culture and people of their culture easily susceptible to unfair stereotyping based on whatever the media depicts because that culture lacks a solid foundation in the psyche of the general population.

There is no simple solution to this problem as I don’t see “the American Dream” as something that’s going to die anytime soon although everything that’s happened in terms of financial crisis proves that it should have died a long time ago. I feel that small steps taken by individuals and communities are going to be what lead to increased awareness and more objectivity in place of unfair judgement and xenophobia. It’s up to people who feel uncomfortable publicly  displaying their cultural traditions out of fear to step outside their comfort zone and share with their mail man and the clerk from the store the same joys of their culture they share with their families and other members of their cultural community. If those steps are not taken by the ones who belong to the ethnic backgrounds and cultures that are most often unfairly ridiculed by the media, nothing will change. There is a ton of stuff that can be done small scale to gradually increase awareness, celebrate your culture and not exclude but invite others to learn

– A festival with entertainment and most importantly food. Rather than throwing a party/festival in a private community location, open it up to anybody who’s interested, advertise it, make it in an outdoor location. The town I grew up in still has an annual cultural celebration called the international villages in which every night a different country sets up food and entertainment.

– If you’re an elementary school teacher, encourage more cultural activities with your class. Projects where the kids have to do a report and presentation on their country. Partnering up with another student to educate and share with each other their traditions. A class pot luck in which everyone has to bring in a national dish.

– free newspaper/news letter printed in both English and your native language

– fund raising event for a local cause. Pick a cause that everyone in town is going to want to support, have the entertainment and food at the event reflect your culture. You are showing you care about the rest of the community and at the same time potentially opening others to appreciating your culture.

I shared these suggestions because these were some of the efforts I saw in my town growing up that promoted multiculturalism even though the ethnic population was so small. When I hear about such unfairness in the news, or hear stories from friends who have encountered racism personally or seen it happening in towns on travels to the US it saddens me, but also makes me feel so fortunate to have grown up in a place that promoted diversity.

There may be some out there who will always be racist and full of hate towards minorities…..and to those people I ask you to answer these questions with a yes or no.

Was your cell phone manufactured by a Caucasian?

Was your television manufactured by a Caucasian?

Was your car manufactured by a Caucasian?

Does the label on your clothing say “Made in the United States of America?”

It’s most likely you answered no to at least one of these questions…surely that’s not a sign  that we should all be open to the various cultures and ethnicity’s around us and working together rather than against one another….*rolls eyes*