Why I Gratitude

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?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This post is linked to the Ragtag Daily Prompt. Today the topic is Gratitude.)

A Thanksgiving Reflection

Today it is Thanksgiving in Canada – a day that has been set aside to give thanks. Originally this day was set aside for Canadians to give thanks for the harvest and for all the blessings the people in the country had experienced during the past year. Now, as I celebrate the holiday with so many other fellow Canadians, I reflect on what I personally have to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving is not a holiday I grew up with; instead it is one I adopted when moving to this country so far north from where I was born. I like that it is a reflective one that encourages people to spend time with family and close friends. For me, it has also come to mean a time when Fall truly begins and people’s attention is focused on certain celebrations (Thanksgiving, Halloween, Christmas). It is the beginning of a time of year, and of a season, that I particularly enjoy.

When I reflect on what I am thankful for I always think of my needs and the fact that I have a place to call my home, that I am never hungry, and that I have a loving and caring family. I am always grateful, as well, for my own health and the health of my family. Each day as I walk to work, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work at the school that I do, and to have the chance to work with a wonderful group of children. I am really lucky to work where I do at a school that is so close to home.

This year I am also grateful for the fact that I have made a connection with the people at the Harper Collins Canada Publishing House. Through them, I have been able to attend author events, and have been introduced to so many authors – many of them Canadian. As I am reading the books that I do, I am grateful to the authors that write their stories and bring me so much joy. I do prefer reading the hard copies of books, and am thankful that the digital versions have not swept away the bookstores and the feel of turning over a physical page of a novel.

As I sit here typing my post, I feel contented with what I have and experience in my life. There may be more for me around the corner and in the upcoming year but, for now, I am thankful for where I am.

If, like me, you live in Canada, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. May your celebrations warm you from within. 

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

Share Your World: Relaxation and Music

What’s your go-to for unwinding after a stressful event or day?

Each day that  I arrive home from work, I do the same thing: put on the kettle and grab my favourite read. My day is filled with the noise of chattering young children and when I get home I crave silence and some alone time. My own children know this and only ask me for help after I have relaxed for 30 minutes. I put my feet up on my bed and read while drinking a warm cup of tea. This has come to be one of my favourite times of the day. Twice a week I cook dinner early for my family and I head off to Zumba. Dancing is a great way to release the frustrations of the day and I wish that I could attend classes every day.

The plane you’re flying in is going to crash, no survivors.  If you had one song you could listen to before it happens, what would it be? 

This question is a difficult one as I love so many songs! Would I choose an old French classic (La Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf)?

Or another classic that I have always enjoyed dancing to (In the Mood by Glen Miller)?

Or a more modern classic (Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen)?

I guess it would depend on my mood. Or I would cheat and wish for a remix including all three songs 😀

What is one thing you’re really, really good at and not ashamed to admit it?  I worded that deliberately because aren’t we taught to be humble and not pushy about our achievements?  Celebrate your ability!

I know that I am good at my job. I have helped so many children, adolescents and young, come to enjoy their learning and celebrate their successes. I have come to realise – with the subtle help of my former principal – that I am especially good at helping young children who have no confidence in themselves and who have had difficulty in the past adjusting to the expectations of children in a structured school setting.

Would you rather lose all of your money and valuables or all of the pictures you have ever taken?

Memories are better than pictures, I have found. In the digital age we take so many pictures – and how often do we actually go and look at them? Money, on the other hand, is a necessary evil in our society. We need it to pay for our accommodation, to buy food and clothing, to purchase the things needed for our children. As for the valuables – those can easily be replaced.

What were you grateful for or something that made you smile during the past month?

This week I am definitely grateful for my shelter. We are onto our forth day of rain and wet and I joyfully enter my home at the end of every day.

NEWSYWbannerWhat would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Sparks, the new host of Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge).

Share Your World: Passion and Equality

NEWSYWbannerAre You A Better Listener or Speaker?

I am definitely a better listener – so much so that I have encountered strangers who felt they could unburden their worries with me. However as I have grown older, I have become better at speaking, especially in front of an audience of more than a couple of people. Speaking in front of people is still not easy and it is not something that I seek out.

If You Were Asked To Design A Warning Label That Would Be Tattooed On Your Skin, What Would It Say? 

Caution! Mature woman at work.

What Are You Passionate About?

The first thing that comes to mind is education. Teaching our younger generations is an important task which includes not only reading, writing and arithmetic but also the socialisation aspect, how to work with others, and how to think critically. Children who have been educated are able to participate in society and feel their worth. There are those in the world who believe that the work of educators can be done by anyone; people who disregard the worth of the lessons learned when younger. To them I say: come do my job for a week; and remember that you would not be in your high paying job today if it were not for the work that educators had in preparing you for your position.

If You Could Change One Thing About Your World, What Would It Be?

That women, as a gender, are treated with respect by all men. They say we have equality, and yet women are paid less than men for doing the same work. They say we have equality, and yet women are expected to work harder at their job to earn the same respect a man has when doing less. They say we have equality, and yet women are the ones who do more in the home. They say we have equality, and yet women are still often treated as second class citizens by some salesmen (yes, men). Yes, there are men out there who treat women with respect – yet there are still those who continue to treat women as the inferior sex.

What Gave You A Reason To Smile This Past Week?

I am relieved that the temperatures have dropped (though I wasn’t too enamoured with the continuous rain yesterday). I no longer have heat rash and I am sleeping much better. This past Summer was brutal weather-wise and I look forward to enjoying the milder Fall temperatures.

What would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Sparks, the new host of Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge).

Share Your World: Yes To Nuts, No To Peanut Butter

041514 sywbannerDo you prefer eating foods with nuts or no nuts?

I am okay with nuts in my food – though I am not too keen on peanut butter. Lately my daughter and I have taken to putting nuts in our salad. The salad is crunchy and more filling – and it is a perfect way to get more protein into our diet (we eat a largely plant-based diet). In addition to the nuts, we add seeds and raisins and/or cranberries.

Do you sleep with your closet doors open or closed?

The closet doors need to be closed – if they were open it would annoy me so much I wouldn’t be able to sleep! Open closet doors do not seem to worry the other members in our household so I am always closing them – in the bedrooms, in the hallway, in the kitchen.

Are you usually late, early, or right on time?

I abhor being late and, as a result, I often arrive at meetings, workshops, or social events ahead of time. I always factor in unexpected delays in my travel time and leave home before I should so as not to be late. I do not like to rush so I make sure that I have enough time. I have noticed my younger daughter is a lot like me. She will wake up a little earlier, get ready at a leisurely pace, and leave home so that she can be a little earlier than needed at her destination. The  rest of the family is “rush, rush, rush” – and they always arrive a little late!

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? 

Yesterday I saw the friend of mine who lives a distance away for one last time before the end of the summer break. I enjoyed the time with her, chatting about things that are happening in our lives and things we would like to do in our futures. We both savoured the time together as we knew it would be a long while until we would see one another again.

What would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge).

Share Your World: A Disney Nickname

What was or is your favorite cartoon?

Max and Goofy at the Powerline concert in Los ...

When growing up, I used to love watching the Mickey Mouse cartoons – especially the ones featuring Goofy. The reason may be that I had been nicknamed Goofy by my mom because I was as clumsy as he was portrayed to be. I have never minded my nickname – I accepted my clumsiness and I liked this Disney character. Thankfully I have grown out of my clumsiness. I am still called ‘Goof” by a select few – and, yes, I do answer to the name 🙂

Now I love any Disney animation. The Lion King. Brave. Aladdin. Not only do I enjoy the storyline, but I admire the time taken and technique used to create such magical films.

Which cooking utensil (other than the usual pots and pans etc) would you miss the most?

Inexpensive electric rice cooker containing co...

The cooking utensil I find most useful is the rice cooker. I am able to cook rice without it – but it is so much easier to use this tool! I measure the rice, wash it, add the required amount of water, and then switch it on. The rice comes out perfectly every time – and I do not need to watch it.

Would you dare to sleep in haunted house overnight?

A haunted house? Not if it is like the houses portrayed in horror films. My heart would not be able to take it! If, however, the ghost does not harm people I might consider it. But it may take a bit of convincing!

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  

I appreciated the long weekend that we just had. School was out for 4 days (Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday). I enjoyed the extra time off and had the opportunity to read and relax. I am now ready to move forward with the upcoming lessons, deadlines, and activities with my students.

041514 sywbannerWhat would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge). 

Share Your World: Memories

Cee has a couple of searching questions this week. Thinking about the answers to these questions, I realise that it is important that we know ourselves.

What is your earliest memory?

Image result for koo mixed fruit jamThe first thing that comes to my mind when I think far back to the past are snapshots of myself and the people that were in my life at that time. Memories are hampered by the photographs we have looked at repeatedly, aren’t they? One true memory, which I know was never photographed, is when I was about 6 years old. I remember being at school in grade 1 and sitting alone in the huge concrete pipes that were in the school playground. Going to school was new to me (I stayed home with my mom until then), and so was making friends (I was used to playing with my sisters and cousins). I remember as well eating my lunch – a sandwich of white bread spread with mixed fruit jam. I remember eating many such sandwiches – so many that I cannot stomach eating mixed fruit jam on my bread to this day.

Which way does the toilet paper roll go? Over or under?

Definitely over! Whenever someone in my family places it the other way, I change it!

What makes you feel grounded?

What grounds me has depended on what stage of my life I am in. When we first moved to Toronto, it was my little family (husband and children) who kept me centred. Because of their love, I was able to move through painful homesickness and sadness. Right now, my family continue to ground me and they are a major reason for my day to day contentment. I take pride in seeing my children grow – not only physically but in other ways as well. I am happy to have married someone with whom I can still spend time after 19 years together. My family is the reason I do many of the things that I do.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week? 

Last Saturday, we decided to eat dinner at a restaurant instead of cooking at home. My husband chose a restaurant in Chinatown that he had previously enjoyed. The food was delicious! Now that my girls are older, we can eat more adventurously and no longer need to settle for plain dishes.

I smile when my husband says we should eat there more often. I think we will – but it may have to wait until Summer once the girls get too busy at school.

041514 sywbannerWhat would you answer to any of these questions?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2018

(This post is linked to Cee’s Share Your World weekly challenge).