Daily Expectations

expectWhat does one expect when waking up? A good day? Or a bad one? When alarm clocks ring shrilly in the early hours of the morning, silent (and not so silent) groans fill the silent hour. Getting ready to join the daily rat race is not always an easy thing to do.

Unlike young children, many of us do not jump out of bed with a bounce in our step. Oftentimes I move through my morning routine with a type of numbness. I need the early morning moments to prepare myself mentally for the day. Silence, routine, and the mental check of what I am to do for the day help me to prepare myself for what I need to do.

My morning routine and alone-time prepares me for a positive day. It helps that I have nothing that worries me incessantly and that I enjoy what I am currently doing at work. If I have had a good night’s sleep, it is a bonus for a positive mood. As I close the door when leaving my home to go to work, I often look forward to my day.

And do I have a good day? Most times, yes. A day that begins with positive expectation and ends with quiet reflection.

How do you begin your day?

(This post was written as a response to the Five Minute Friday prompt expect)

Mom

You carried me for 9 months,

Protected me from harm.

You cradled me in infancy,

Gave me your love, warmth, being.

You picked me up when I fell,

Encouraged me to explore and meet those moments that

Amazed me,

Grew me,

Became a part of who I am.

You celebrated my joys,

Cried with me,

Comforted me,

Wished me well.

You gave me your love with no conditions and no paybacks.

You are the embodiment of Love.

You are Mom,

And I love you.

I wish all fantastic Mother’s a Happy Mother’s Day this Sunday. Especially my mom who lives so far away and whom I miss everyday. 

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

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

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)