Loading...
Browsing Category

Personal Devleopment

Personal Development — lifestyle

Immigration And What It Means To Become A Canadian Citizen

Irish people have been leaving our island for hundreds of years, with millions having fled, starving from the famine in the 1800s.

Some, myself included, credit Saint Brendan the Navigator with discovering the New World a few hundred years before the vikings landed in Canada in the 11th century.

In the mid 2000s Ireland was booming and the Celtic Tiger was alive and well, devouring the housing market and everything else it could get its hands on. The city-scape of Dublin boasted tower cranes everywhere reaching to the sky like the nation itself reaching for heights it had never seen before.

Then sadly, it all fell apart. Leaving the country was necessary for me, as there was no work to be found in construction at the time. Many stayed and found jobs but many like me left.

On October 31, 2010 Theresa and I said goodbye to my cousin Wilim at Dublin airport and boarded a flight to Vancouver, Canada, not realizing that it would be two years before we saw family again.

The change was though, Vancouver is an expensive City and with no jobs we were running out of money fast but we both managed to find work and eventually, after literally years, began to establish ourselves.

Little did we know when we set foot in that first short term rental apartment on Victoria Drive that nine years later we would still be here, Canadian citizens with a Canadian baby.

Naoise is every bit as Irish as myself or Theresa, there is no changing blood and the blood that runs in her veins is Irish but I am also very proud of the fact that as much as she is Irish, she is equally Canadian, being born in British Columbia. She is a symbol of a new life and of new beginnings for many Irish families who are now raising young children in Vancouver. I know of at least three other young Irish parents in Kitsilano alone who are settled here and starting to raise a family.

It goes without saying that the most difficult part of living in a different country is not seeing your family. Naoise was lucky enough to meet her Granny (Theresa’s mother) when she visited and she will meet her Grandads, Uncles, Aunts and cousins when we visit home at Christmas but she never met my mother, which makes me sad. That is not a factor of immigration, simply timing.

I remember the only Christmas I visited home, at the end of the holiday, Theresa and I left my house to travel back. My mother could not get out of bed to say good bye. We did not know she was dying but we both felt something, a deep sense of loss as we walked out the door. She died within three weeks and we were lucky enough to make it back for the last week.

We have, as Irish people been immigrating for centuries and I was humbled during the swearing in ceremony to be among 76 people from 28 different countries. It was an emotional day for us but we cannot understand the hardship some people have had to endure to come to a moment like this and we must be forever grateful for the rewards this great nation has given us.

Having visited Ireland Park in Toronto and seen the haunted faced of the statues representing the people who stepped off the coffin ships it truly hits home how lucky we are to be here and to have had such an easy journey to this point.

For a long time I wrestled with the notion of swearing an oath of allegiance to the English Monarch. Please do not be offended, I simply want to state that it was something I had to deeply consider. It went against my history and heritage but I decided that Citizenship was more important that past transgressions.

On further consideration I realized the importance of committing to the oath I would swear and taking it with meaning and intention. It would be an insult to the Monarch, the country, the ceremony and to the other people who were there that day not to give my full commitment.

I affirmed my allegiance and meant every word. From that day on I will respect and love the Monarch I am sworn to and if that makes me any less Irish than so be it but I do not believe so. We live in different times now and we must embrace one-another as friends or we cannot move forward as a nation, English, Irish or Canadian or as a race for that matter.

Becoming a Canadian Citizen is among the four most important milestones of my life. I am humbled by the friends both Canadian and fellow immigrants that we have made here and that have strengthened us over the years through difficult times.

I am proud that my family can stand with two great nations, Ireland and Canada.

Thank you for reading.

George

Worry – Is Your Free Time Being Hijacked?

Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night thinking of something you should have done at work or something you missed? It’s human nature, it’s just a pity these damn thoughts pop unto our heads when we’re trying to have a good night’s sleep or enjoy our weekend.

I will often be at home, on a hiking trail or in a yoga class and an unwanted thought rudely invades my headspace. It could be work, it could be something else. It lurks around in the back of my mind, waiting for a time to pounce, just before I get too comfortable, then it jumps out and starts demanding my attention.

Obligingly, I take the bait and start worrying as I am expected to. There is so much out of our control, or more accurately out of our control at this time, right now. If we cannot deal with the issue that’s taken up residence in our headspace there and then, we can kindly ask it to leave.

Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow, it only saps today of its joy.

We can catch these thoughts and save them for later. If its work related I generally send myself an email, so there is a reminder sitting waiting for me when I get in. Otherwise, I make a note or if I’m driving, I ask Siri to set a reminder or send an email.

Unwanted thoughts don’t have to hijack our headspace. We can save them for a suitable time and place to deal with them. When you are in a position that you will not forget what has come up it is easier to stop worrying about it.

It can be tricky to catch these thoughts, it comes with practice. Daily meditation is so important. Start small and build up but be consistent, even if it is only a few minutes a day, eventually, you will become more aware of your thoughts and your state of mind when you’re not at ease. (See the end of the page for some of our previous blogs on meditation)

Meditation and concentration are the way to a life of serenity.

What if it doesn’t go away? When you affirm something, your brain listens to you. I often tell myself, “I don’t need to think about that right now.” My brain listens to me and I can dismiss the thought. It may keep popping back into my mind, especially if it is something troubling but repeat, repeat, repeat.

Your unconsciousness is not the one in charge, you are. You do not have to take all the suggestions the unconscious mind throws at you.

Beware of the procrastination bug also, you can only tell yourself “I don’t need to think about that right now,” so many times before it’s effectiveness will fadeThe defences against worry and preoccupation breakdown. Acknowledge whatever it is that’s bothering you and set aside dedicated time in the future to think about it. If you can do something about it there and then, it is best to act rather than defer but it depends on the situation. If a professional item pops up when you’re in the middle of family time you’re not going to drop everything.

If you can’t act on it or chose not to for a good reason, set something in place to remind yourself and tell yourself that you do not need to think about that right now. After time and practice, you will start to catch your uninvited worries sooner and more often.

The future can be a source of anxiety and stress and it is something we must think about and make decisions about but I believe in deliberate thought rather than background worry which in the long run will only add wrinkles to your face and grey to your hair. Allow yourself to set the worries aside for the right time.

Peace,

George

Further Reading:

Meditation Challenge: 40 Day Sadhana “Your Habits Define You”

A Daily Meditation Practice: Make It Work For You

Meditation: It Takes Two Minutes

Hindsight – Sometimes The Past Comes Back Unexpectedly

I like to think of myself as a good person. I try to be mindful of other people’s feelings and I try, both professionally and personally to always do the right thing. I have intervened when I have seen drug addicts harassing old men, I have stopped to check if people lying on the ground by the side of the road were ok when everybody else passed by.

Why is it then that this same person, is hit out of nowhere by hindsight? Years after I realize that I had been hurtful, immature and selfish in certain situations. Back then I was foolish and everything was a joke, even if it was at another person’s expense. I had a mean streak and never even knew it until ten years after.

Why did it come back to me and why did it come back to me at that time?

Where was this insight when I needed it? Where was the foresight or even the present sight when I needed it? I was a different person back then and I was not open to this insight. My hindsight changed over time as my personality changed.

What use is it to us if we can’t change what we have done? What use is it to us if it comes years after?

It is a teacher. Sometimes we are not ready for the lesson, sometimes we are not ready to listen or we cannot even hear. Then one day our eyes are open. The lesson was always there. I just couldn’t see it. Maybe in some cases we never will.

We change gradually in most cases as we are shaped and sculpted through the process of life. I am not the person I was ten years ago. That was a different time and that was a different George, shaped since then by so many things; immigration, marriage, death, loss, separation.

I have not grown wiser; I have just changed. I like to think that this change is for the better but that remains to be seen.

As I go through the next chapter of life I will continue to change and my perspective will adjust with me and with that hindsight may creep up on me again unexpectedly.

Taking a look at the opposite perspective, nostalgia is a form of hindsight.

These are the good old times, right now. Wherever you are, reading this, who are you with? What are your plans for the rest of the day and who will you spend that time with?

Don’t spoil it.

Be there and live it because hindsight will come back to you in years to come and question you. It will bring a longing or regret that you can catch, right here, right now.

You can be here now and stay here. Be present and be with whoever it is you are with, giving them your full undivided attention.

The past will always resurface over time but hopefully, by being present and thoughtful we can let it come back to us with good feelings.

 

Responsibility – Passing The Torch To Future Generations

I am about to become a father. My life is about to change in less than three weeks and it will never be the same again. I will think and behave differently. I will be reborn a new person and my life’s purpose will have changed forever. Everything I do will be for my family.

What is our ultimate goal as a parent? Is it to give our children the best life we can possibly give them? To prepare them for the long road of life ahead? To be there for them and care for them all along the way? All of the above, and much more I believe, but how does that translate on a global scale as a race?

We must leave the next generation in a better position. That is not to say that we give them materialistic wealth, but it is our responsibility to pass on knowledge, kindness and responsibility through example.

I believe it is our purpose in life to wake up, not as individuals, but as a race. This may not happen for a long time but it is in progress and we must work together to guide both those around us and those who will come after us to find our strength and our kindness.

The individual must act as part of the collective and the collective must embody the individual.

We will never lose our individuality, but as individuals working together, we make a strong collective.

We have seen great leaders in the past who have shone like beacons to guide us and future generations – Jesus, the Buddha, Mohammad, more recently, Mahatma Ghandi, Mother Theresa and Nelson Mandela.

There are those who are in positions of power today who are using that power to move us in the right direction.

They may not necessarily be enlightened but they are in a position to guide others and inspire future generations through example and guidance.

I believe that we have passed from the collective childlike state as a species in the last few generations and that we are ready to follow a path of change, care and responsibility.

We have leaders everywhere. Look around you now and you will see people leading by example. The woman who picks up the trash she did not drop. The man who smiles and acknowledges the homeless person.

We need to look up and become aware of the example around us that can help us reach our goals as a race, and in turn we can become those leaders and role models we need to be by working together through kindness. We can spread our example throughout our peers and instil it in the next generation.

As a species we have gone through life in a slumber. We were too immature to notice our actions towards each other and towards our surroundings.

We were children but now we are growing up. An awakening has started and we are ready to take on the responsibility of care, which is ours by default due to our intelligence. If we do not act, then who will?

We must take up the mantle of responsibility and kindness and share it among ourselves until it spreads like a spark in dry brush. We must pass it onto the next generation.

George Bernard Shaw said that “Life is no brief candle for me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”

Reality is in our grasp. It is there for us to see, beyond this screen. It is in front of us, we just need to look up and see it.

That is the first step.

Look up and meet someone else’s eyes. They are the leaders of the new world and you are their teacher. And Vice Versa. Together we are wakening up, to spread kindness and integrity and wield it like a shield to protect all life.

This is our responsibility as we are the most intelligent form of life that we know of. We are the only ones that have the power to come together to make all the difference. We have the power and it is our responsibility to use it wisely for the sake of our home and as Shaw says, pass the splendid torch onto future generations.

Who Do You Believe Is In Control Of Your Destiny?

What is your dream and how will you get there?

Do you dream big or do you settle for what you have?

You may already have everything you want but that doesn’t mean you don’t stop reaching. It doesn’t mean you stop searching.

If you have every step of your path laid out before you, then you know which direction to turn in your search when you are lost. Maybe you feel that you have already arrived at your destination. Ask yourself – have you? The journey doesn’t end so therefore the search doesn’t end.

Who do you believe is in charge of you and your destiny?

Is it the system?

Is it the beurocrats, the politicians, the government, your boss, your wages, your talents? No. These are all just aspects of your life.

I feel that the key word here is believe. Who do you BELIEVE is in charge or your destiny? It’s not society, it’s not the people who wronged you, forget them.

YOU ARE IN CHARGE, whether you believe that or not.

There’s that word again. That belief is what is important. That belief is what makes or breaks you. That belief defines you and shapes you into the person you will become.

If you don’t believe, then you will not change. Stand up, raise your chin, pull your shoulders back and declare to all in a strong voice “I am in charge of my own destiny.” Grab the bull the horns and get out there into the storm of a world we have to weather and take what is yours.

Take your destiny.

I speak metaphorically here, but the power is there, all you have to do is take charge. You have the power to get out of bed and go for a run before work. You have the power to spend one hour less watching Netflix and read a book from the library. You have the power to chose a salad or a pizza.

You are in charge of your destiny and don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.

Who do you think was in charge of Christopher Reeves destiny? Or Stephen Hawking? Or Viktor Frankl? Was it the horse that threw superman to the ground and broke his back? Motor neurone disease which slowed the world renowned physicist down to a physical stop but did it take charge of his life? The Nazis took everythign from Frankl but they did not best him.

Paralyzing injuries, debilitating sickness and an army of evil could not overpower these people.

They had the drive to keep going, to push through the hardest, life ending moments, to crawl through a river of shit and come out clean on the other side just like Andy Defresne in The Shawshank Redemption.

Forget about the privelaged folk who have everything, forget about the people you think you need to compare yourself to – they are not in charge of your destiny.

They do not care about your destiny. It is in your hands and you are in charge.

Take a pause and look around. Where are you? What are you going to do next? What did you eat today? Did you exercise? What did you learn? If you dont like the answer to any of these questions, remember that the rest of your life starts now and you are in control.

You have the power to change and shape your destiny as you chose. Not as someone else choses but as you chose.

Get up, look up, get out there and do what it is that makes you feel strong and powerful and keep on doing it. Keep on looking up.

You have the power to do what you want.

Peace,

George

If you liked this blog please share it.