Open Letter to Refugees, Immigrants and New Canadians

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Welcome to Canada! Let me tell you a few things about this country you now call home, and offer some advice.

This land was originally inhabited by aboriginal peoples, long before the French, English and Scottish came here to make their homes. We call them First Nations, and when you meet a First Nations person, show them respect. They may not always respect themselves, but you should show respect just the same.

In fact, you will do well in Canada if you respect everyone you meet, as soon as you meet them. They might turn out to be a jerk – we have our share of those – but wait for them to show you that themselves. Don’t assume they are one. Be polite to strangers and friends alike. That might be a big difference from the country you came from.

I don’t know what it was like in your home country, but I can imagine that you didn’t have the well-stocked grocery stores we have, the good road system, the excellent hospitals, and, to a large degree, kind people everywhere you go. There are charitable organizations to help needy people, people having cancer treatments, and a thousand other things. We like to take care of each other here. We like to look out for one another, and although we aren’t perfect at this, it’s something we do as a whole.

It might be because our founding religions were Christian. We do hold quite a few of those values in our society, and you’ll see them in our laws and policies, if you know how to look for them. Not everyone is kind and considerate, but you will do well to practice kindness as much as possible. Non-Christians are welcome here, but I wanted to mention that about our origins. Not everyone is religious, but almost everyone is kind. You are welcome to bring your religion and practice it here, but if your religion is not kind, it will not fit in here. It could, in an extreme case, even make you unwelcome.

Remember that for all the hospitals, roads, bridges, and other amenities you enjoy, someone had to pay for those. People who were born here, and who moved here long before you, did that so that you can benefit from them. You can enjoy moving about this country freely because of others who worked hard, paid their taxes, and because they cared enough to contribute. They contributed by having jobs, by joining service groups, by volunteering and by helping their neighbours with everything from babysitting to snow shoveling. Look for ways to contribute to all sorts of Canadians. Make sure you mix with other cultures and don’t just stick to your own.

We are not perfect but we generally obey the laws and conform to our social norms. You would do well to do the same. We do not consider our laws to apply to some and not to others; they apply to everyone equally, and they are enforced. If you bend them, they will snap back. If you disregard them, you won’t be able to stay here, or you’ll be put in jail – you’ll lose your freedom. One of the reasons Canada is Canada is because we had law enforcement early on; while the US had the wild west, we had the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and they still keep the order today. Respect them.

Our laws say that women have all the same rights as men; if you do not agree with this, you should look for somewhere else to live and move there as soon as you can. If moving is not an option for you, you will do well to learn to keep your opinions very, very hidden. This equality is fundamental to who we are, and you will NOT be able to change it.

Actually, don’t try to change anything about Canada. We are who we are and we’ve been this way a long time. Any of your behaviour that differs too much from the social norm will not make a change; it will only alienate you. Do not blame Canadians for alienating you. You always do that to yourself. We are quite welcoming to those who want to live here, follow our laws, contribute to our society and be like us.

We have our quirks – we love our quirks. You do not have to be a cookie-cutter Canadian. Just take some time to watch those around you and see how they act. Although we value our freedom and independence greatly, we are also more conforming than you may realize. This will be your challenge while you are new here! You will have to learn to put aside your ideas from your home country and adopt ours.

I don’t want to overwhelm you with advice. You have probably been through a lot to get here. Let me summarize.
Show respect to everyone.
Respect the laws, and follow them.
Be grateful for what you have, where you are, and those who made it possible for you to be here.
And yes, be kind and polite!

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Lemonade Time!

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So I have a cold, again. I used to be so healthy, but the other day I caught another nasty cold. I’ve had 3 in 3 months! I got one while in Beijing (with a fever and everything) and then another one just before New Years. I spent New Year’s Eve at a friend’s cabin, had a great time, but could barely talk. When I felt like saying something, which was approximately every 20 seconds, I had to think really hard to decide if I really needed to say it. It’s a good exercise… most of the time I had to conclude that my clever quip could go un-said. I have less timeless wisdom than I thought! Anyways, it was fun, and in about 6 days I had pretty much kicked that cold to the curb. So, a few weeks ago, we went to Las Vegas, and California, and except for an occasional cough, I felt great. We got back to Alberta, and Darren and I took my niece and nephew to the waterpark at West Edmonton Mall, which was a hoot! We rode the waves in the pool and did some slides, too. I forgot how much fun those slides could be!  🙂 I swallowed a little water — got hit by a wave I wasn’t ready for. Afterwards, we got drawn in to the candy store (if you know West Ed, you know the one) and bought some Jelly Belly jelly beans. They are my favourite! We started munching them immediately — we were so hungry from all the swimming! — and I kept munching them on and off until bed time. I know, not good for me, but they are so flavourful! Fake, artificial flavours, I know, but anyways…

The next day, I woke up with a nasty head-stuffing cold! Man! Initially, I blamed the swimming, and germs from snotty-nosed kids in the pool. Well, I’m the snotty-nosed one now, and I actually want to blame the jelly beans! But, if they are to blame, then I must have been pretty low-immune system/toxic already. Isn’t it amazing how “toxic” we feel when we’re sick?

Darren and I stopped at an organic grocery store and while there, he found a booklet on “The Master Cleanser” by Stanley Burroughs. Besides describing how the combination of lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne makes a good cleanse, Burroughs talks about germs and viruses in a completely different way. He says that they are always present in our bodies and we should be grateful for them because they help us clear toxins from our bodies (he talks  a lot about toxins), such as when we get a cold and our body produces a great deal of mucous to get rid of toxins. Interesting idea… I don’t know if it’s entirely true, but it’s something to think about! This line of thinking helped me be less resentful of the cold, seeing it more as my friend, and made me think about the timing of my last 3 colds — after being in Beijing, eating all sots of strange food (not always fresh, food with lots of sauces), after Christmas (which involved a few sweets and goodies, and although I didn’t majorly pig out, it’s more food colouring and sugar than I’m used to), and after Las Vegas. What do you think? Any chance it’s related to toxins… and more than a co-incidence?

And then there’s a whole other idea: that disease is caused by disharmony in our spirits. Now, I’ve meditated and thought about this, and I’m afraid to say that my colds might be related to unkind words. I admit that around those times I may have said some unkind words to Darren — not in arguments exactly, just bits of sarcasm or, well, unkindness. So, while I am doing this cleanse to help my body clean out toxins, I am also going to clean out the last bits of sarcasm, sharpness, or even wittiness that isn’t completely innocent and building others up. I think this will have a wonderful, positive effect on my spirit, much moreso than any dietary change! Think about it — beautiful, uplifting words to make a perfect, healthy throat and lungs. Makes sense to me!

For now, I’m finishing day 2 of the master cleanse, and day 1 of my kind-words-only policy. I’ll keep you posted on how I’m feeling!

In other news, progress continues of my book. The artist, Biliana Savova is working hard on the illustrations, which should be complete next week! This is all so exciting! I am going to be approaching a few people to read it and provide an endorsement for the back cover — a nice little quote on the back to say how great my book is! I need to work on the website… I’ll let you know when it’s ready so you can all go run and check it out! Take care everybody!

I am a Pipe

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It just hit me one day, not long ago — I am a pipe! I’m not a valve or a pump, I’m just a simple conduit!

I don’t need to work really hard, or pray really fervently (pump). It’s not up to me to decide who will receive a blessing today (turn on or off like a valve). I am just a pipe — always in the right place at the right time to do exactly whatever is in front of me, whatever will bless or encourage or lift up someone around me. There’s no struggling, no  thinking “oh, I’ve got to try really hard to be God’s special servant today;” I am not a pump for Spirit.water-pipe There’s no deciding who to be kind to, and no “turning on the power;” I am not a valve. I am a conduit and all I have to do is be wherever I am, be conscious and alert. I suppose I wouldn’t be any good if I got clogged, or sprung a leak… “Getting clogged” would be trying to keep God’s blessings all to myself, as if there aren’t enough to go around. “Springing a leak” would be letting Spirit, or blessings, go in a direction other than the one I’m pointed in… like trying to be somewhere I’m not, wishing I were somewhere else right now (we all do that sometimes, don’t we?). But it’s not a serious problem because it’s not like I’m going to waste blessings — there’s always plenty more where that came from!

And the other cool thing: everything is a blessing! It’s not like “being a blessing to someone” is hard! It’s just being a little caring, kind, or thoughtful. Smiling when someone says good morning, and even letting someone be kind to me, or compliment me, graciously accepting it and absorbing it. Have you ever tried to give someone a gift who refuses to accept it? Not much fun in that, is there?

And believing that I am always in the right place at the right time takes so much pressure off! I don’t need to rush to be here or there, I am already exactly where I am supposed to be!

So that’s all! In the beautiful fountain of life, I am a pipe, not a pump or a valve. I simply conduct the good that the Universe wants to pour out on everyone!

Simple like borcht.  🙂

Promoting Kindness Towards Computers

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It occurred to me the other day, I wonder what would happen if we extended the same kindness to computers that we do to people? Would it make a difference in how they operate? Now, you might be wonderingmotherboard-fire whatever caused me to think that, but I’ve noticed that some people who have trouble with mechanical or electronic devices are rough or angry with them and always expect them to break down. These people sport a “what trouble are you going to give me today, you bucket-o-bolts?” attitude. And so what do they get? Trouble. Things malfunctioning, constantly. It looks like they are getting what they expect!

As for me, I talk to my car. (I know, I’m a little strange… but just pleasantly so!) I tell it that it’s a good little car, it works so well, and I coax it a little when it’s cold out and no one wants to go anywhere, including my reliable, 9-year-old car. Does that make it work any better? Well, let the evidence speak for itself: aside from replacing the brakes, which I gather is pretty normal for a car its age and with its mileage, I have had to do very little work on it. It’s a Japanese car, so it’s no lemon to start with, but I have to think that my sweet-talking is helping it work smoothly! I could try an experiment where I yell at and belittle my car, but I just don’t want to do that! I am afraid of what stretch of remote highway I might get abandoned on!

There’s another reason I don’t want to try that experiment. I believe that what you put “out there” is what you get back. It doesn’t matter whether it’s people or electronics we are talking about. It’s how you treat the universe, so to speak, that matters, and it responds accordingly. At times, it might even be easier to be understanding with a device than a person, depending on how much emotional baggage you have with that person. I am not saying that objects have feelings and actually care about how they are treated, but the general attitude that you approach life with will show in your surroundings. If you have a lot of trouble with electronics/computers, check your attitude and see what you are projecting. Some people have interpersonal troubles because of how they treat others… could you be having electronics troubles because of how you treat them? I don’t know, I’m just saying it’s a possibility!

handsandcomputersAlso, does it strike you as being two-faced to be sweet and kind to the dog, for example, but then yelling at the computer? It’s like being nice to your neighbour on one side and positively acidic to the one on the other! Not a very consistent way to live. Why not treat everything/everyone with basic respect and kindness (although you don’t have to be everyone’s best friend or necessarily love your computer).

Let me know what you think of this — am I totally out to lunch or do you get what I’m saying? Try an experiment with kindness versus anger towards objects and let me know how it goes (but make sure no one gets hurt in the process)!

Cancer – It’s Not Your Fault

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Have you noticed? People are universally sympathetic when they hear you have a loved one with cancer. They may or may not ask questions about it, depending on how well they know you and the vibes you are giving off – vibes of whether or not you want to talk about it. People will readily say “oh, that’s too bad” or “how is treatment going” or other such sympathetic phrases. They are genuinely caring and even heroic – shaving their heads, and doing all sorts of things to fundraise. As cancer seems to be becoming more common, people will often share their own story as a way to encourage you.

And why is that, do you think? People aren’t nearly as sympathetic towards other problems – divorce, abuse, unemployment, problems with children, bankruptcy, etc. So why are people so incredibly nice when cancer’s involved? I think it’s because we all believe that cancer is not your fault. Cancer is seen as an illness that strikes randomly, making everyone a possible target – anyone could get it at any time. So we are sympathetic, cooing words of comfort at the drop of the C-word. Why can’t we encourage people for any problem they have? Even if we don’t have any of our own stories to share, we could still say “hang in there! Teenagers grow up eventually” or “hope your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.” Aaaah, but it’s hard to have compassion when you’ve already thought somewhere deep down that it’s their fault this happened to them.

What if suddenly we stopped seeing cancer as random and instead learned that it was a direct result of diet or environment, for example? Would our compassion dissolve in the wind? Instead of kind words of encouragement, we’d hear “well, he did it to himself, eating that way all those years” or “she should have worked somewhere else.” Think about it – off all the cancers, people are least sympathetic about lung cancer, because the cause is pretty clearly understood (and we can be quick to judge smokers). So I am glad that no researcher has conclusively found the cause for all cancer,* because not knowing makes us more caring, strange as that may sound. Information is supposed to decrease ignorance, but in this case, I don’t think it would help.

So let’s be a little more compassionate when we hear of someone’s trouble, even if we think they may have gotten themselves into it. So what? We all get ourselves into messes sometimes – pretty regularly, in fact! Kindness has more power than unkindness, so let’s tap into it!

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*I just realized, cancer research always focuses on finding the cure, not the cause. I guess that’s an indication of how our medical system works – fix the problem after it’s happened, don’t try to prevent it. Or maybe people just don’t want to hear about looking for a cause, because that would make them examine their own life. Or am I just being skeptical? Ack, we’d better stick to thinking it’s completely random! Forget I said anything about causes!