Who Am I?

Our definition changes according to the stages in our lives.

The first moment I was defined was at my birth. I became a daughter. A daughter of two proud parents. Even now, a mother myself, I am linked to their names: I am the daughter of David and Liz. My definition changed during childhood from toddler, to pre-teen, to adolescent. My parents helped to shape me as did those I came into contact with at school. The years on a university campus helped cement my ideals and moved me towards my first full-time employment as a teacher working with disadvantaged children.

Since then I have become wife, mother, immigrant. My changing roles and environment have helped define my strengths. A constant, however, has been my beliefs. My faith has been tested on many occasions in my life and yet now, as I reflect on who I am, I know that my belief has not swayed. I believe in a greater Being who watches over the world. And I believe that this Being will get me through difficulties. Always.

So who am I? At this moment in time I am a woman, a daughter, a wife, a mother, a teacher, a believer in the goodness of humanity and in God. I am a South African and a Canadian. I am the sum of all my experiences.

I am me.

Who are you?

Five-Minute-Friday-badge© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: define)

Is It Safe?

Is it safe?

One thing I noticed when I arrived in Toronto was that Canadians are extremely concerned about safety. A saying is often bandied about, “Safety First”, by the people I have come into contact with since my arrival in this city.

But is it always a good thing to be overly cautious about safety?

I remember when my girls were younger and lifting my eyebrows at some of the parents’ reactions to their kids playing in the playground. I come from a country where children get dirty and play in the sand and mud. If they get worms, we treat it. I come from a country where children can run, and climb, and experience the play structures. If they break an arm, we take them to the hospital. I used to shake my head at the moms who used to hover over their children while I was watching mine. “Let them breathe,” I used to think. “Let them be.”

Surely it is not always good to be so cautious.

The extreme concern for safety leads to, I believe, missing out on some experiences. Yes, be aware of danger and put into place options that will prevent harm. But foregoing an experience will hinder living life to the full. It is through experiencing life that we get to know who we are, what we enjoy doing, and what we are good at.

There are times when answering the question “Is it safe?” does help you make a decision that will prevent harm (for example: driving with a drunk driver, walking on slippery roads, eating old food). But there are times when you need to trust that the people in charge of a project know what they are doing and have put constraints into place that will prevent harm (for example: bungee jumping, construction at your workplace, a food display at the supermarket).

Is it safe? Not always, but most times. So take that leap of faith.

Do safety concerns prevent you from doing an activity?

Five-Minute-Friday-badge© Colline Kook-Chun, 2017

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: safe)

This Time of Year

This time of the year, I crave rest. I crave those moments when I can let my mind be and not think of deadlines and all I am expected to do.

This time of year, I feel emptied and long for time during which I can recharge. I know that Christmas is near and that the preparations for this celebration are often exhausting. And yet I look forward to getting ready for this day. My preparations are simple and centre around my family. For me, this day is one of togetherness and rest.

This time of year, I look forward to the break from work. I look forward to the time when I am not preparing lessons, juggling my work obligations and my home obligations, thinking of my students’ needs. I find that I need the 2 week break to gain my energy once again for the next stretch.

This time of year, I crave rest. And am now counting the days until I am able to do so.

Do you crave rest at this time of year?

Five-Minute-Friday-badge© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: surrender)

Surrender Yourself

Surrender yourself to the moment:

To the textures, the sights, the sounds.

Surrender yourself to the moment:

To the emotions, the pain, the joy, the sorrow.

Surrender yourself to the moment

And live the life you have been given

To the fullest.

Experience every

Nuance,

Smile,

Heartache,

Obstacle,

Moment of achievement.

Surrender yourself to the moment

And your life will be one with no regrets.

Surrender yourself.

Do you find it easy to surrender yourself to life?

Five-Minute-Friday-badge© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: surrender)

Enjoying Life

Do you enjoy life? Do you look in the mirror every morning in anticipation of your day? Or do you groan as you force yourself out of bed, bleary-eyed and weary before the day begins?

The secret, I believe, to enjoying life is to appreciate each moment as it happens. Remember that phrase “stop and smell the roses”? Take it upon yourself to do so. When walking, take note of what is happening around you. As you wait for a friend at a coffee shop, look around you and people watch. When you eat a meal, savour the flavours of every bite. Enjoy the sensation of the sun on your face, revel in the hugs of your child, admire the beauty of the environment you find yourself in.

It is the small moments that make up our lives. And if we pay attention to these moments and embrace them, we begin to enjoy them. We begin to stop hankering for a past that no longer exists. We cease to wish the moments away for a future we hope to come true.

Today I got out of bed feeling positive. I have my goals and plans for the day. I know that I will enjoy the smiles of my students, the chuckle with a colleague, quiet time  at lunch, and the sight of the trees on my way home from work. I know I will enjoy the warm cup of tea I shall drink as I put up my feet after a day of standing and working with my students. I will enjoy the moments with my family as we eat dinner and chat around the table. And yes, tonight I will enjoy watching an episode of something on Netflix.

This day I will feel alive. And I will enjoy the life I have and the living of it.

Will you?

Five-Minute-Friday-badge© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: enjoy)

Five Days

Five-Minute-Friday-badgeI am with them for five days of the week. I work with them. I laugh with them. I share with them. I learn with them. I get to know them. I get to teach them.

For five days a week, I am with a group of children whose ages range from 5 to 7. I enjoy their individual personalities as they learn to work independently in a classroom situation. My days are busy and filled with movement. I see children learn to read, write independently, gain self confidence, and thrive in the learning environment that I have created.

The five days a week that I am with the children in my class can be tiring, stressful at times, satisfying … and fun. I walk to work with a bounce in my step and unlock the classroom door with pleasure. I am thankful everyday that my path has led me to to a place which not only allows me to help others, but also gives me much fulfilment.

How do you spend five days of the week?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: listen)

Learning to Listen

Five-Minute-Friday-badge

In order to learn, we need to listen. Each day I have in front of me a few children who are learning to listen. Learning to listen on the carpet during a lesson. Learning to listen to instructions. Learning to listen to their friends and classmates during worktime and playtime. Take  peek into classrooms at the beginning of the school year and you will see teachers, no matter what grade, emphasize the importance of listening. The long summer holidays have encouraged the children not only to forget their Math and French, but also the skill of listening.

But teachers persevere. And children remember – or learn. After a few months, listening attitudes have improved in the classroom and instructions are followed more carefully. My colleagues and I use the phrase “Il n’ecoute pas!” less often and are content instead when classes run with less interruptions.

Yes, listening is important to learn. And I look forward to the day when all of the members of my new class realise this.

When have you had to listen to learn?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: listen)

Difficult Becomes Easy

Five-Minute-Friday-badgeIt is never easy to start something new – to flounder in the unknown and the uncertainty of the future. Obstacles are imagined and magnified in the mind. The end goal seems far and unattainable. There are moments when you wish to give up, to change the path you have chosen (or has been chosen for you). And yet you plod on, taking one day at a time.

I reflect on September last year and the beginning of the new school year. Teaching a combined class of grade 1s and 2s was a challenge I had not yet experienced. The grade 2 curriculum was unknown to me; and I had worked through the grade 1 expectations two years previously. I was willing to take on the challenge and began the year with enthusiasm. There were times, though, when I felt overwhelmed and when I questioned my offer to take on the challenge. I have spent many hours after school and over weekends planning my activities, creating the games and worksheets to offer the children I teach. Now in the last months of the school year, I feel more confident and at ease with working in a combined class.

Difficult became easy. The unknown became known. Next year I will be teaching the grade 1s and 2s again – and the second time around it will be easier. I will improve on what I have done this year; changing what didn’t work and extending the activities that did.  In addition, I will have two other teachers working with a grade 1/2 combined class. I will guide them through their experience so that their expectations of an difficult experience will change to that of an easy task. And hopefully, with collaboration, I will improve the aspects of my programme that did not address certain ccurriculum expectations in a creative way.

Which of your experiences have changed from difficult to easy?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: easy)

A Wholesome Breakfast

I wish to go back to the diet I followed before I had my children. My diet at this time consisted of whole foods and a minimum amount of bread, meat and diary products. Getting back to work after being a stay-at-home mom has slowly moved me towards the easier options of eating bread for lunch and snacking on sugar-laden and factory-made treats. The result has been weight gain and a feeling of fatigue I believe is not only a result of my work, but also a result of what I am putting in my mouth. Getting back into the correct way of eating does take time and it is something that is to be done in stages. My first step is to eat fruit only for breakfast. This is no hardship for me as I love the juicy, sweet taste of this food.

Every morning I now eat a bowl filled to the brim with fuit. I eat until I am full. I eat until I no longer feel the pangs of hunger. My body is still adjusting to this meal in the morning (instead of cereal or porridge) but I know that there will be a time when this bowl will be enough until it is time for me to eat lunch. I now eat a snack at first recess (around 10am) when the children do and it consists of a fruit: a banana, an apple, or even a pear. The drawers in my desk are now empty of granola bars and I plan to keep them that way.

What do you eat for breakfast?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post is linked to Five Minute Friday. The prompt this week is: Whole)

Five Minute Friday: Alive

Five-Minute-Friday-badgeThere are times when it feels good to be alive. You are reminded of this during the moments you stroll outside and the cool air brushes gently against your face. Today I think of a man who walked outside thinking not of his life, but of his death. I imagine the pain he must have felt, the physical and emotional agony he experienced as he walked down the streets literally bearing his cross. At that moment in his lfe, he would not have lifted his face to see the sun, or breathed in deeply to smell the scent of nature. Instead his thoughts would have turned inward, he would have wished for the moment to end, for the pain and humiliation to be over. And yet even though he experienced pain and physical death, his spirituality remained alive. He still called out to God with his last breath.

Centuries later, this man’s experience is remembered and kept alive in the hearts of many who believe that his death was a sacrifice for their spititual closeness with God. Unlike his birth, this man’s physical death was the event that shaped the lives of many who lived after him. For the Church, and the many Catholics who follow its doctrines, the Crucifiction is the event which shapes their lives, their beliefs, and often their actions. Today we reflect on what Jesus did for us: the sacrifices he made, the pain he experienced. He was a man who stayed true to what he believed even though he knew his actions would end in death.

To all those of you who believe as I do in the Crucifiction of Jesus Chist, I wish you a positive day of reflection. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2016

(This post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt: alive)