On Tuesday I posted my book review of The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton across all of my social media including Goodreads. The historical novel, which is coming out 10 September, is unreservedly a 5 star read for me and I stated my reasons why in my review. When I got home yesterday, I saw that the author herself had responded to my words.
I could not help but smile when I saw that she had taken the time to read my words and respond to them.
On Monday, people all over Canada celebrated Canada Day, a public holiday created to commemorate the unification of the country. This year I wanted to do something we had never done before – stand in line to receive a free meal at the Mandarin restaurant, an eatery that offers an eclectic buffet.
I left home on the morning of the public holiday before the rest of my family to get into the lineup. I was ready before everyone else and was worried that the line would already be long. I was glad I made this decision as when I arrived at the venue at 9:20am, the queue for lunch was already quite long. I had come prepared, however, and settled in with my current read.
While waiting in the line, we were offered water by the managers of the restaurant. After a 2 hour wait, the owner organised a cookie for every person in the queue. He also walked down the line and chatted with people – which was really nice. You are probably wondering why he gives a free meal to Canadians every five years: as an immigrant himself, he wants to give back to the community and this is the way in which he does it.
At 12 noon, the line began to move as they began letting people in. The restaurant is quite large and we were able to get into the first sitting. We moved out of the midday sun into the air-conditioned space of the restaurant with a sense of relief. The first thing I noticed upon entering was the way the place had been decorated. I loved the Canadian flags all over!
Once in the restaurant, we waited a little while to be seated. We did not mind waiting – after all, this was part of the experience that we had signed up for! The Canadians around us were all smiling – and looking forward to the meal that we were to receive.
The owner had assured us that the meal would be exactly what we are offered when we pay to dine there. My husband and I were convinced that the more expensive dishes (such as the prawns) would be cut from the menu and we were pleasantly surprised to see that all our favourites were available – with some Canadian dishes thrown in.
The meal was delicious and we enjoyed every bite. What pleased us especially is that we were not rushed – even though there was a long line of people waiting outside to get into the restaurant. We could savour our choices and enjoy our family time eating together.
We left the restaurant very full – as I always do when eating at a buffet. There are just too many dishes to try out! I was thankful that my family had agreed to stand in the line with me as it was a wonderful experience for Canada Day.
This week I am grateful to the Mandarin chain of restaurants for opening up their spaces and offering a free meal to Canadian citizens. Not only did I get a free meal, but I also added another experience to those of previous celebrations on 1 July.
Yesterday I received a beautiful gift of flowers from the parents as a thank you for the work I have done with the children during the year. As I looked at the predominantly purple flowers (my student knows me well!), I could not help but smile at the beauty of the bouquet.
While I spent time arranging the flowers in vases yesterday afternoon, I could not help but be grateful for the gift. Not only do the flowers brighten up my living room, they are also a reminder to me that the parents appreciate the work that I have done with their children.
My friend texted me yesterday morning and asked whether I would have time in the evening to meet up for a quick coffee. As she lives quite a distance from me, I grabbed the opportunity to see her even for a short while.
We went to a coffee shop in my neighbourhood and enjoyed a frappuccino on the outside patio. We managed to speak about our buddy read, Women Talking by Mirian Toews, but were sidetracked by the novel we are currently reading together. As with all good books, we were able to link the issues in the novels with our own life experience. I love how books not only widen the mind, but also help you think about your own life experience.
This week I am grateful for the unexpected opportunity to meet my best friend, drink iced coffee with her, and talk bookish things.
This week I got together with a friend of mine who lives quite a distance from me and who was prepared to drive down to the city to attend a bookish event with me. I had told her about my experiences and she was keen to join me. On Wednesday, the book launch of debut author Roselle Lim, writer of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune, became the reason we chose to meet up and spend an evening away from home.
The event was held at an independent bookstore that I had never before visited, so I was curious to see the venue. I loved the sign placed outside the store front and felt welcomed before I had even entered the shop.
A number of people had already arrived and soon the bookstore was buzzing with even more patrons. Roselle Lim was nervous, as any debut writer would be, but she smiled graciously as she welcomed those who were there to support her.
She read an extract from her novel and I wish she could have spoken a bit about her writing experience and the inspiration for her story. First time nerves maybe?
Anyway, my friend and I enjoyed the outing together. We sipped a glass of wine, chatted a little, and enjoyed the ambience of the environment. This week I am grateful for the excuse of a book event to meet up with my close friend. Together we will now read the novel we had signed by the author – which will lead to a number of texts flying between us, I am sure.
Tonight is the school concert and it is happening in a couple of hours. When my class is not performing their song, I am expected to supervise them in my classroom while the parents watch the show. The day of the concert is a long one; especially when it is filled with excited children. I am hoping that tonight they will be a little calmer than during the day; and that they will bring something interesting with them to keep themselves occupied.
This week I am grateful that for the few moments of quiet that I will have in my classroom before it is filled again with twittering children.
Gratitude refers to an attitude of thankfulness and a desire to show appreciation for an action or event. Taken a step further, gratitude refers to an appreciation of what you have in your life – no matter how small. It is an appreciation of small kindnesses that are offered to us in our daily lives. It is only recently that showing gratitude has become vogue – and yet it is an attitude that should be an important part of our daily lives and thoughts.
Showing gratitude is not a habit followed by those who participate in the fast-paced modern world. Instead, daily actions are taken for granted and circumstances are expected as a right. Many people I come into contact with in my daily life look no further than the people in their immediate circle, comparing their lives with those they meet. The broader experience of others in the world is often ignored, or pushed to the back of their minds.
I have noticed a few people have taken up the banner of gratitude in the western world and, in doing so, are moving towards feeling more in tune with themselves and the world they inhabit. Gratitude does help us to experience positive emotions (optimism, enthusiasm, love, joy, happiness) while it moves us away from experiencing destructive emotions (envy, greed, bitterness, resentment). An attitude of gratitude helps us to find contentment within ourselves and the environment in which we live.
So what can we be grateful for? Firstly for ourselves: for our health, our inner strength, our ability to adapt and learn. It may even be something as small as being able to get up everyday and make ourselves our own breakfast, breakfast that we have the money to buy. The trick is to finding the positive in ourselves and to focus on that instead of what we can find wrong in our lives.
Secondly, we can be grateful for the things in our environment: our home, the people who love us, our workplace, something positive about our work colleagues. It is so easy to focus on the negative; so easy to gossip about things that are not done to our satisfaction. Do you not feel lighter and more content when you focus on the positive and what you are grateful for in a conversation? I know I do.
Thirdly we can be grateful for the small kindnesses that are done to us: a cup of tea that is made without request, a colleague dropping by and bringing us the mail, an unexpected visit by a close friend, a hug by someone you know because they see that you need it. Noticing these small things is what makes me content with my life. I have no need to wish for what others have when I notice that what I have suits me and makes me happy.
Since July 2014, I have been writing Gratitude posts on my blog (you can read the posts here). Writing these posts have helped me to focus on the varied things in my life that I have to be grateful for. It is so easy to focus on one thing but, in order to make my posts varied, my reflections have led me to write on a variety of topics each week. Every week I invite readers to share what they are grateful for in the comments or a post of their own. Reading other people’s thoughts encourages me to realise even more things that I have to be grateful for in my life.
Will you join me in reflecting on what you are grateful for?
Yesterday I attended the Pembroke Publishers Showcase. This is an event organised by the Pembroke publishing house for interested teachers to attend. At the showcase, authors speak for 20 minutes about their recent publication and while speaking, give us an insight into what the book covers. While listening, I am often inspired and think about ways in which I can improve my teaching practice.
This is the second year that I have attended the event and returned to the workshop as I find it inspiring. I also enjoy the day as I get to spend some time away from the classroom with other teachers. As a result of the day, I now have a teacher book that I want to read to add an extra layer to the literacy component in my classroom.
This week I am grateful that I had the opportunity to attend the Pembroke Publishing Showcase. The day was interesting and inspiring – and I look forward to next year’s event.
Saturday morning dawned with grey skies and the promise of a wet day. The gloomy morning, however, did not dampen my spirits as I was to see my best friend. We had connected on the first day I took my daughter to school soon after we had landed in Toronto. We had bonded while our children played in the park. Now those children are finished high school and we still meet to share our thoughts and experiences.
We decided to take ourselves out for brunch and went to a restaurant that serves all day breakfasts. The meal we chose was delicious, the eggs cooked to perfection. Time was of no consequence as we chatted about our daily lives, what we had read, and what we hoped to do in the near future. I savoured the moment as I knew the next time I would see her would be in a few months time.
After eating, the rain prevented us from taking a walk so we went into Starbucks to continue our conversation. Eventually the time came when we had to return home and to our familial responsibilities. Meeting up with my friend was definitely a treat. I am grateful that she took the time to come down and spend a day with me.
Our son has flown into the city for a few days to work and was able to spend some time with us on Saturday. The four of us were excited to see him and could not wait to catch up. We decided to meet him for dinner and take him out to a new Chinese restaurant in our neighbourhood. We all enjoy eating Dim Sum because of the variety of choice and, of course, the chance to eat family style.
We spent the evening catching up on one another’s stories, chatting about the future, and reminiscing on the past. If we could have, we would have extended the moment but alas, we had to sleep!
What are you grateful for this week? And what has made you smile?