Monthly Archives: November 2015

Review #3 BON cont’d

Three posts won’t be able to get all my thoughts and feelings about this book but I thought I would try. The last part of the book or major chapter of Aminata is so long and filled with more sorrow that I almost forgot Appleby because by that point he was so long into her past.

After Aminata has lost her baby, she has no will to live and she becomes sick. She is extremely fragile both in physical and mental state that Appleby sells her “stupid no-good Guinea wench” to Solomon Lindo the indigo inspector of the region. Actually, a few months earlier before she was introduced to Lindo and  other men who are part of the slave trade. One of the men tries to rape her but she is luckily saved when Lindo walks back into the room. For me Solomon Lindo is an interesting character because I do feel that he tries to be a good man and displays growth throughout the novel. I’m glad he is not part of her life and helps to at least wash away some of the pain she experienced with Appleby. She departs for her new life in Charles Town and Lindo promises her to treat her as a servant instead of a slave. Lindo does treat her with the kindness he promises by treating her with respect. She meets Dolly who is another servant at the Lindo household, despite the fact that she doesn’t become as close to her as she did with Georgia they become friends. Due to Aminata’s intelligence, Lindo decides to put her to better use and teachers her more reading and gives her books to practice. He then gets her to earn money by catching babies in the town. He says,” I knew you would catch on fast. I saw the intelligence in your eyes and I wanted to lift you up,” (pg 201). She even gets to catch Ms. Lindo’s baby and takes care of him. But unfortunately the pox kills a lot of the villagers including Ms. Lindo and her son, and Dolly. For me it was simply put very sad. Throughout the few chapters that Ms. Lindo was in Aminata’s life, she treated her like an equal and with true kindness. She gave her books for her service and always advocated for her when her husband would be strict. Even Aminata states, ” I had trusted her more than any other white person, and had come to care for her son David like a child of my own,” (215). In a way Ms. Lindo protected Aminata and there was a connection between them. After their deaths, Mr. Lindo changed drastically and his actions towards Aminata also change. He has no heart to care for her and Aminata realizes the truth that he was the one who arranged the transaction of selling her son. That is the moment when she disentangles herself from his life and she doesn’t want to hear his excuses. But when he leaves for New York City he takes her with him to start a new life and try to mend their relationship. However, riots break out in the city due to the American Revolutionary War and Aminata has the opportunity to escape while Lindo flees back to Carolina.

In New York, Aminata is again really quick to make friends and after the British surrender, they offer slaves who have worked for them asylum in Nova Scotia. I like this book because it easily threads different issues and pieces of history into a very interesting life. I learned a lot about the historical backdrop of the story as well as a personal account which is very fascinating due to the realism that peaks its way inside. The issues discussed parallel nicely with the themes. When the slaves are offered asylum, Aminata’s friends touch upon a wonderful point. They talk about trust and how can they ever trust people who treated the way that they did. I see validity in their arguments, but Aminata’s wisdom really reaches more than her age because in her mind she know’s there is no other choice but to keep fighting each day and the only way to survive is to trust the British because continually living in New York is more dangerous than handing herself back to those who captured her in the beginning. Her friend Sam whom she befriends helps her along the way and gives her the advice to keep moving when more terrible circumstances arise.

There are so many events that arise but I’ll briefly discuss three more major points that occur in the last book. One of the first is when Appleby finds her again and drags her to court to make her come back with him. When she declares that she is actually Lindo’s, not many believe her without her documents of proof. Luckily, Sam helps by finding Lindo and bringing him to court. It was like a breath of fresh air when he comes to let her go. At this point of time Aminata has another child with Chekura and when Lindo reads out the documents of truth (the slave trading of both her and her son Mamadu), she can’t help but dash out the door to save her child from hearing such poison. At that point in time she can’t yet forgive Lindo or thank him for giving back what had always been hers. She can’t hate him but she can’t forgive him either. When Lindo tries to make amends by talking to her, she can’t listen and leaves. That was the closing of the book about Lindo and Aminata. In a way, that scene made me depressed because Lindo really did mess up and Aminata deserves every right to not talk to him. But I do feel that Lindo is trying hard to make up the mistakes he made in the past.

The second point is that Aminata decides to go to Nova Scotia (hence the no choice but to trust in the British one more time). But her husband took the ship before her while she chose to stay a bit longer. She does hope to see him one day while in the meantime she works by entering the names of slaves who want asylum in the Book of Negroes. That book itself is a symbol for so many different things: suffering, sacrifice, and hope are just a few. The book though also represents broken promises because unfortunately the British lie to the slaves once again. The promises that good awaits them is quickly brushed away when Aminata finally arrives in Canada. Everything is the most difficult that Aminata has had in a while because surviving throughout the day is her priority. The regret Aminata describes makes me feel disappointed as well. Because I wonder what it must feel like to be fed so many lies all the time only to have it all come hurtling back on me and hurt me even more. After all these revelations, she doesn’t want to give the British ‘second’ chances because she has finally learned her mistakes.

A lot conspires between the major events I would like to discuss but because of the depth and complexity of the book there is simply too much to discuss. I will hopefully talk more about aspects not covered in my blogs during my presentation!

The third point is despite everything that has happened in Aminata’s life, she is incredibly lucky. She doesn’t know where her husband is, and her second child, May, is taken by the Witherspoons who she previously befriended. This is the third time that her heart is stabbed by an emotional infliction that will be very difficult to heal. When she learns of her husband’s death, she decided to make a journey back to her homeland. While various things happen when she is given the opportunity to go back to Sierra Leone (she learns that she is from Africa), she crosses paths with abolitionist Clarkson who wants to end the slave trade. Trying to immerse herself back within her country is very difficult because the villagers now there do not want her back. Realizing that she can never really return to her hometown, she heads back with Clarkson to join the other abolitionists to end slavery. This is where we are led back into present day! Her writing accounts of her experience with slavery and the amazing feat that she is still alive despite everything that has happened to her gives her a lot of attention in the newspapers. With this newfound coverage, it is then that her long lost daughter May finally finds her again. They embrace and in that moment I can’t but finally feel so happy and let out a breath I didn’t know I was holding. In the end, it seems that everything is worth it because while Aminata thought she lost everything, in the most unexpected times she found her everything again. At this point in time, Aminata is very old and she is soon going to die. Her daughter takes care of her and we are left with Aminata still striving to end slavery in Parliament.

Review #2: BON cont’d

Book 2 -3

The story picks up again in the present where Aminata is at the meeting with the abolitionists who work hard to abolish slavery. ” Even if you destroy every slave ship, I say, what remains of the men and women already in bondage?” This is a memorable quote that displays Aminata’s losing hope and I can’t but help agree with her. However, the bright side is that even if one slave ship is destroyed, hundreds of slaves would be set free. In modern day, the abolitionists seem to treat Aminata with respect but they do not fully welcome her. Aminata feels the same way when she states,”The abolitionists may well call me their equal, but their lips do not yet say my name and their ears do not yet hear my story. Not the way I want to tell it. ” So she picks up her quill and starts to recall her experiences after coming off the ship.

All the captives (slaves), are brought to an island off the coast of the toubabu’s land (Sullivan’s Island). They are all on the brink of dying and for me one of the saddest moments was when Aminata thought that she was burning from the smoke that came from her mouth. They were living in such horrible conditions and practically freezing to death yet Aminata had thought that someone lit her tongue on fire. Aminata’s innocence is heavily contrasted with the brutal conditions she is living in. This goes to say, how the mistreatment of children is even more wrong because children can feel terrible but they don’t know exactly what is happening to them. She is only able to keep herself from dying with the strong words of her friend Biton: ” Remember your mama and your papa, you carry them in your heart. Listen to them. They will tell you what to do.”

Another ship comes and they are again rounded up according to their medical conditions. At this point in the story, the inhumane treatment of these villagers from Animata’s community is unbelievable. It’s the second major point in the novel that I can feel my fingers tremble as I try to turn the pages because I can’t picture such cruel treatment of people. The toubabs seem to be doing the people a favour by examining their health conditions but the way they prod these people’s body’s like objects is disgusting. Not only are Aminata’s people publicly harassed in front of their community crowds but they also are publicly humiliated. If it isn’t enough pain to deal with the physical inflictions, the shame is something all the captives have to go through on a daily basis. Growing up in a progressive society that is more attentive to human rights leaves me baffled at all the horrific things people had to live through on a daily basis. Every page of this book was a new revelation to me. I love books because the difference from learning about the struggles of the past, with words and literature I can actually feel and live the things that the characters experience.

For Aminata as she recalls these experiences, she does not once complain or exclaim the unfairness. She simply lives through it and deals with the toubab head on. In a way, I can infer that even though Aminata is going through so much difficulty, she doesn’t fully comprehend all the things she’s going through. She only has her feelings to base her opinions but because her knowledge is not yet at her peak, she can’t make claims about the ill treatments she goes through.

After the voyages, a big part of Animata’s life is spent on Appleby’s Farm located in South Carolina. We learn that Appleby now owns Aminata and her friend Fomba who now are enslaved to his work due to the slave trade during the late 1700’s.  They work on the fields for harvesting but prominently for the indigo plantation where they work to make indigo hues for clothing specifically Appleby’s. At the time Aminata arrives to “Master” Appleby’s farm, she is on the brink of death and if it isn’t for Georgia, who is also works for Appleby and nurses Aminata back to the health, then Aminata would have died from dehydration, illness, and exhaustion. During the time on the farm, some notable events happen! Due to Aminata’s quick mind to learn skills, she is often praised by Appleby and his assistant (Mamed). Unexpectedly the very scary and serious Mamed has made an offer to secretly teach Aminata how to read. As time goes on, Aminata is able to read, speak, and write in English but in order not to infuriate her Master she must act stupidly and not raise his suspicions. Since Aminata is a strong worker, very bright, and also beautiful it isn’t long before Appleby notices her. At this point in time, Aminata is a young lady that has only recently starting to have her menstrual cycle which makes the climax of Book 2 even more drastic: Appleby rapes Aminata. He rapes her out of anger as Aminata is still seeing Chekura and there relationship is budding. With jealousy he takes something from her that she wanted to save for her loved one: Chekura. This was the first time I read about rape in the first person and I saw it coming but it was so quick. Within the span of a few minutes, her life isn’t the same. For me, after that moment Aminata is an adult. She isn’t the innocent child she was before who didn’t understand all the things happening around her. Now she knows a lot more and begins to actually see the toubab’s treatments for what they really are. His words still echo through my brain and that is the control he has over her being and her everything.

The next major thing I wanted to discuss that was again heartbreaking and disgusting was what Appleby did to Aminata. When Aminata begins to recover from being sexually assaulted and her strength again shines through, despite everything that happenes to her, Appleby rips her newfound happiness away from her multiple of times. The first is when Aminata begins to feel like a real woman when she secretly marries her lover, Chekura, and she is impregnated. After a months go by, she has also grown out her hair beautifully. But when Appleby learns of her lover from the fact that her stomach has grown huge, he humiliates her by asking her to come into the big circle where all the workers on the plantation gather around. He asks her to strip naked in front of everyone and throw her fires into the fire that was just made. Despite what he asks of her Aminata states,” I made a decision then. He would do whatever he wanted, anyway. I was from Bayo and i had a child growing inside me and I would stand proud,” (pg.176). After he makes her throw her clothes in the fire, he commands her to scrubs herself in a small tub where everyone is watching. He then pours buckets of water over her and asks her to bend over or sit down. He then mocks her by grabbing her hair and taunts her to call her own hair, ‘wool’ which is very dehumanizing. Robinson Appleby then begins to snip all her hair. Aminata’s hair in a way is a symbol of her own beauty and strength. It reminded her that despite everything that she was still standing and it was also what she tried to grow out despite being raped. When Appleby cuts her hair until she is bald, she can’t help but cry. Aminata rarely cries and that was a moment that we so painful because something broke within her. She even goes to beg him to stop which she rarely does. Even when she was being raped, she just choked down her cries and stopped begging. He tortures her further by forcing her to look in the mirror. And as the book quotes, ” I screamed as I have never screamed before. I didn’t recognize myself. I had no clothes, no hair, no beauty, no womanhood,” (pg 178). The worst thing that Appleby could do to Aminata was strip her of her inner self and that was exactly what he did. All the physical and emotional pain Aminata went through she could handle because she believed in herself and her strength. But the moment he destroys that, she can barely live with herself.

It was March of 1761, when Aminata conceived her baby and called her boy Mamadu after her father. And for me I thought finally Aminata can have something to hold onto that can give her strength again. But being too naive I forgot about Appleby too soon. He comes in again to destroy her life. I have no words to describe the actions he did so I can only bring in the excerpt of the story which is in Aminata’s perspective.

“When my son Mamadu was just ten months old, i woke up in the middle of the night to his bawling. I rolled over to bring him close, to relieve his cries… My hand brushed against the bed of woven grasses. The bed. The air. My own body. Nothing else. I opened my eyes…. I jumped up, dizzy, confused and full like an unmilked cow, and there I saw Robinson Appleby put my baby into a man’s arms up on a carriage,” (pg 183).

I had thought the previous events Appleby could never surpass the next actions he does, but each time he has proven me wrong. Appleby sells Aminata’s baby through the slave trade.

“Bring back by baby,” I shouted./ He laughed in my face,” (pg 184).

If I could slap and hit Appleby in that moment I would with all my being. I can’t describe all the horrible words I could use to describe him. He laughed in her face!

The agony with which Aminata crumples to the ground fully reveals her desperation. She says,” I had never before wanted to kill a man. But I would have killed Robinson Appleby then. My heart and my body were screaming for Mamadu. But my baby was gone. Sold, sold, sold. Appleby would not say where,” (pg 184). I think at that point I was crying so hard for her because I could try to imagine all the trouble to conceive a baby and have given birth to such a precious little being that was mine. I mostly imagined what it would be like for my mother, and when I saw her face morphed into Aminata’s it was so hard to bear because to see a mother in pain because of her child is mortifying. I really don’t know how Aminata continually gets up from the ground to only be pushed even further down. Her baby was her light, the one good thing in her life and now it’s finally gone.

Her husband stopped visiting her and she felt it was her fault. She not only had guilt because she thought it was her fault but she had not fight in her anymore.

Review #1: The Book of Negroes

It wouldn’t make a lot of sense if I didn’t quickly summarize the story’s events because there are so many things to experience! This novel follows the main character, Aminata, who is recounting her life in this book where the real book itself is like a memoir. The book is not only adept at making the character quickly draw upon the descriptions to craft their own experiences, but it is extremely realistic that I felt I was reading a real memoir! Aminata in the present, is an old woman living in 1802 London who constantly visits the public to tell her stories. She feels that it is her duty to share her story as she has survived through so many hardships. Since she feels that she has been so fortunate to have lived so long, she recounts fragments of her past life.

In the beginning, we are transported back to Aminata’s childhood in Bayo (1750’s) where her father is a jeweller and her mother is a midwife. Her mother teaches her the secrets to catching babies and right from the start, readers can sense something special with Aminata. Her parent’s different upbringing which focuses on the importance of education proves to be life saving in the future. Despite the villager’s lack of approval, she is taught how to write and speak various cultural languages. This important backdrop sets the tone for the story. The reminiscent and melancholy feel that comes with the novel allows all the experience’s of Animata to impact my heart. It’s hard not to feel empathetic because within a couple of pages, the beautiful childhood memories of Animata are destroyed when she and her mother are kidnapped.

The smooth transition between the change of events really allowed me to live through the eyes of Aminata which is a prominent reason for why her account is so believable. Her kidnapping and her witness of how her parent’s fought for their survival until they were killed by the robbers, rapidly starts Aminata’s exponential growth out of childhood. The innocent descriptions of her thoughts and the feeling of helplessness as she watches the two people that she loves so dearly is heartbreaking. I couldn’t help but feel angry and want to take revenge for her. As well, I also felt helplessness because in that moment she was vulnerable and I wished I could have comforted her. Even though, everything in that instant changed Aminata’s life forever, she is still able to push through. She is courageous even for such a young child! She knows that life must go on and so she accepts her fate but also hopes for the best.

As the story goes on, we learn that Aminata has been kidnapped by what she calls toubabu, which we learn later is a white man. The novel is not too graphic in manner, but the descriptions Aminata recalls of her treatment is heart wrenching. What’s more is that it isn’t so much the physical pain or torture that comes from these kidnappers, but the humiliation with which she is treated. She talks about her dignity and that these men have often tore piece and piece of her dignity away. Through the process of reading this story, it’s like plunging into something foreign and enigmatic. For me, I didn’t know exactly what was going on until I started looking in hindsight. It may be obvious for some, but Aminata was unfortunately kidnapped into the slave trade. They walk for many day and nights where time is interestingly recounted differently by her people. The book wonderfully brings in different cultural practices and the unbelief to our modern culture allows me to see how others feel when they view our Canadian/American cultures. For instance, she talks about time in regards to nature like three revolutions of the moon, fourteen rains, etc.

The novel set up of Aminata’s story is told through four books which marks four significant bundles of time in her life. Specifically in the first book, two characters Fomba and Fanta from her hometown provide her comfort as they have also been kidnapped into the slave coddle where they all wear yokes around their necks.

Fanta and Aminata are able to put away their past dislikes of each other to support one another. Aminata even helps Fanta catch her baby, Sanu. Fomba is also her friend and is a well known hunter in her village, but does not speak often. She is easily able to make friends with those around her, and she befriends a boy, Chekura, who is her captor at first but she realizes that they are on the same side.

After many revolutions of the moon, the villagers are sent onto a ship. Due to Aminata’s ability to speak various languages, she is of great help to the investigators or should I say interrogators on the ship. All the people that are meant to board the ship are inspected with at times humiliation. Once on the ship, the brutal living conditions lead to the death of many people. The crowded spaces, lack of food, and poor treatment of the people by the toubab are impossible to escape, but luckily Aminata, Chekura, Fanta, and Fomba are all able to survive. Unfortunately some of the people she meets in the coddle, have died. She is able to get onto the good side of the medicine man who is alos a toubab. And she uses this to her advantage to gain more medical resources and small snacks for her and her friends.

Time and time again, Fanta’s bold spirit defys these men and she tells Aminata to never trust the toubab. The villagers feel oppressed and mistreated, so after a few weeks, they go on a rampage that kill many of the toubab. Aminata soon loses her trust towards Fanta especially as she sees how Fanta is easily able to kill her own daughter and other humans. She understands that a baby is a burden especially on the process of survival but she cannot get over Fanta’s acts and distances herself. Even though Aminata dislikes the toubabu, she can never get over the murders of so many people on the ship.

All in all, as I recount the first book, I felt that in some ways this book is a symbol within itself. A symbol of courage and transparency that gives a taste of what many slaves went through.

I am very happy to have chosen this book because it has definitely opened my eyes to a personal recount of what it might have been like for those who were sold into the slave trade!

Who I am

If I don’t get to achieve my dreams or become the doctor I want to be, everything will be alright. For me, I can be very contradicting at times where one side of my is 110% and can’t stand not doing my very best at everything, but then the other side is when obstacles pop up or things don’t go planned, I’m quick to say that it’s okay if it isn’t perfect….

And right now, I have another one of these contradicting moments because I firmly believe that if I gave it my all at that point in time and there’s nothing else I could have done that would be better than that, then there’s no point in guilt tripping or second guessing myself. Who I am is a post not just about myself but about you.

I’m not sure who you are but I know at one time or another you were mad at yourself for being who you were. When I was kid, all I remember was hating myself when I got my parents angry because I thought it was all my fault. Even though I have grown up, those thoughts don’t go away because when certain events don’t happen the way I want to, I blame myself. I’ve realized that it’s just the way people like to feel at peace, they categorize or they like to target their emotions to a person or an object. But don’t ever beat yourself up because of who you are.

This post comes at a time where many senior students are finishing their applications and some perhaps are awaiting replies, but I just want to say for those high schooler’s out there, be who you are. The universities might say it and they might not accept you, and then we all get mad because some perfect kid gets in… and the list goes on. Maybe I shouldn’t have been myself? That would have definitely got me in.

Society can definitely be contradicting these days, be this but hey be yourself too. I want to tell you that for me personally, if I got into my dream university not being the person who I was, I would have felt cheated in a way. Because that’s not who I am! It’s like getting someone to fall in an idealized version of me but they don’t actually love the true me. Some might be able to live like that, but I can’t. I might at first, but once I’m alone, I’ll feel the truth and it won’t be able to stay hidden forever.

We are all unique and yes you might not have perfect grades, play sports, have a job, lead clubs, and so on but without your contributions in the things you do or don’t do the world would be different. So I’m saying, stay true to who you are because at the end of the day, isn’t the most important thing?

For me, I at first really regretted that I submitted who I am on my dream university’s application. I gave them the simplest me I could do and submitted it while I was the hospital. I waited my whole life up for that moment to be able to feel proud to submit my application but I didn’t. I felt that I hadn’t done my best… I only did the best I could do while I was at the hospital and that made me regret being who I was because my dreams clouded who I am. Who I am, is a person who stands by my values. I value in empowering others and helping others find out who they are and loving themselves. I simply could not be a hypocrite and not be proud of who I am when I submitted who I am.

So please if you’re out there and reading this, be who you are because there are people like me who appreciate you for doing that. It takes courage to stay true to who you are but I am so glad for all the people who do things from their heart because that’s what inspires me to keep going and fighting for a better world.

Movember

In light of mid November I wanted to share my essay on men’s health as my grandfather passed away last year from cancer. It definitely isn’t easy living with cancer and for those who know those who suffer from this terrible disease or fighting it, I am praying for you. You are strong and I hope this essay can shed some light on more of what I want to do and my experiences!

I can’t exactly describe it.  When I actually comprehended that things wouldn’t be the same. It was just like that moment back on my mom’s car when my dazed eyes quickly zoned in on the colourful headlights hidden among the fuzzy raindrops. In that fragment of time, what was unclear suddenly revealed itself to me. He died and he wasn’t coming back.

 

Cancer is the epitome of fear. It has always taken until it has nothing left to take. And that was what I hated and still hate about it. At first, it’s invisible and incapable of being felt yet at the same time, it’s invincible with the power to abolish everything and anything in its way.

 

But when I was a child, I was fearless. Simply put, cancer just wasn’t real to me. Instead, it seemed something like that of a fairy tale or a faraway fantasy that didn’t have the ability or need to materialize into my life.  So when it knocked unexpectedly at our doors, I wasn’t in a state of denial, I just didn’t believe in its existence. All I knew was that my grandparents were leaving for treatment back in our hometown.

 

Pain wasn’t tangible at that time because other then the doctor’s diagnosis, I couldn’t see any difference in my still fence climbing and fast running grandpa. So I still went about life with an innocent indifference that things were okay and would be okay. In hindsight, I really do wish with all my life that I could rewind those times because when time flies, it flies fast.

 

For the past decade of my life my grandfather lived and then eventually passed away from cancer. A cancer that at first was dormant and then quickly made itself known within the past few years when I saw his flesh unbelievably cave into his bones. From one hundred seventy pounds to one hundred ten pounds and then to just under one hundred when he passed away last year. How drastic is the exponential change of one’s body after such a long period of total normality! It’s truly disgusting to have to see the forced okays of a loved one trying to mask this incomprehensible pain that at the same time is being experienced by millions worldwide.  You see, after a few years of experiencing cancer within my family, I started opening my eyes and I literally began to feel just how many people were living or lived with cancer. I felt it in the hugs I gave to my friend who had lost her aunt to breast cancer or through the tear soaked shirt my church friend cried through when she lost her mother, or in the vibrations of shrieks I felt the nights I stayed at the hospital beside a too young girl going through treatment.  All these things over the years have amalgamated into a sorrow that stains my heart because it is a constant reminder that while I live there are those succumbing to an unwelcomed fate and have lost opportunities to chase their dreams.

 

I have always loved helping people either through service or small things, but a part of me has always yearned to work towards something bigger. I don’t know the exact details of what I want to do, but I know I want to do something. Something that will help eradicate this terrible disease, something that will alleviate the suffering of millions of people, something that will create a legacy in hearts emphasizing the possibility in the impossible. It is always possible and I truly believe that.

Accepting who you are

When I think of acceptance, I think of it in many forms! With others, with beliefs, with thoughts, and with myself. But often when I think of accepting, I think that I am pretty accepting and considerate of other’s beliefs and I must of course accept myself? However recently I began scrutinizing my life after a set of unfortunate circumstances popped into my life. I began to see that I was deluding myself into thinking that I accepted myself and lived a life worth living.

What I saw was disappointing because I wanted to see something different but it’s often during difficult times that reality pokes through. You see, I value myself for my results and I often take the saying anything is possible too far. For me, I didn’t mean to compare myself continually to others, but I thought heck if they could do it, so could I! So I pushed myself so hard, trying to do a lot of things. And I was rolling along not smoothly but I was getting by. But it wasn’t mental exhaustion that got to me this time but physical.

It is through difficult times that I had to learn once again to accept. To accept my own range of what I can do and what I can’t do. I learned what my personal threshold is and when I work to my maximum potential without burning out or falling dangerously low. And I must thank my mother and my Lululemon bag for these pieces of advice. A lot of what she says is reflected in my blog posts because I learn a lot from her! As for the Lululemon bag they couldn’t be more right.  I would like to share these quotes with you and let you ponder them without much personal analysis on my part.

  1. “I valued myself by my results. After my injury I made new rules: Enjoy what i do and the opportunities afforded me every day, never lose sleep over my sport, compete like I have everything to gain and nothing to lose.”- Billy Demong Nordic skier, Olympic champion
  2. “I realized at a young age that what I did today would affect my tomorrow on or off the mountain and I never saw those life-changing decisions as a sacrifice.”-Dominique Vallee snowboarder, World Cup medalist
  3. After breaking my back, three thoughts kept coming: everything happens for a reason, nothing happens we’re not strong enough to manage, everything in life has prepared me for this moment. Rather than dwelling on what once was, I embraced my new life. Moving forward liberated me to discover my true potential.”- Josh Dueck skier, silver medalist, Paralympic Games
  4. “Three years of rehab after breaking my feet was a daily process of letting go: of expectations ,of controlling the outcome, of knowing what will happen next.” – Emily Cook freestyle skier, World Cup Winner

The bag’s word : aparigraha ( finding freedom in letting go) is very essential in accepting who I was.

I learned to let go of certain expectations that weren’t healthy for me. I learned to value myself without results and as a genuine person. I learned to let go of having my results define who I am. Though results are important, I didn’t fixate on them. And you see after doing this, for the first time in THREE years, I finally smiled a real smile. That for me is real progress 🙂 For the first time in years, I finally felt rested and healthy. I felt content and not rushing the process of living. I felt relieved.

Before there I was not taking a break because I was busy prepping for tests during all the school breaks and holidays. I was losing my sleep to achieve results, and I was placing my EC’s and school life above my family and friends. I lost so many friendships this past year and it was very difficult for me to accept. But I’ve moved on from that stage in my life and more than anything I’ve learned that I wasn’t living a balanced life style at all. And by striving to do everything by overexerting myself I lost more in the long run. Now for me it’s about still having those big dreams but not hurting myself over it. So I’m working hard, but I’m also taking that much needed rest.

Friday the 13th, 2015

On Friday the 13th, I had though what a normal day it had been so far. Nothing bad had happened and I was just settling to rest on my bed to read and study for Chemistry. My WiFi wasn’t connecting and I was left in the blue of what was happening in the world because BBC wasn’t sending me any updates. My sixth sense is absolutely terrible and I thought heck it was a good Friday the 13th and I’m so glad nothing bad happened.

Waking up this morning and not having WiFi until tonight, social media and my news notifications were going off like crazy. In the span of 24 hours, I can’t believe all the emotions that ran through me and what has happened in the world. Update:

  • In Paris there were terrorist attacks
  • In Japan there was an earthquake
  • In Baghdad a funeral was bombed
  • In Beriut there was a suicidal bombing
  • In Mexico there was an earthquake

In the span of one day while I was going about life just like I usually would, the world lost hundreds of thousands lives.

Though many miles away, my heart goes out to all those people affected by these tragedies. I am so sorry for the losses our world had to go through and all the families affected. I don’t know how to feel right now because my mind is jumbled up with thoughts I have to get out on paper.

  1. Terrorist attacks are not okay and they fill me up with anger because I can never understand why. I understand that terrorist has no religion and I respect Muslims. And I think that it isn’t fair that a whole group of people are shamed or targeted for something a small group does. As a Christian, it’s hard to not feel angry when people target me personally for saying that I hate gays, when I absolutely don’t! Or when people sometimes right away start arguing with me when they haven’t heard my side of the story. Yes I admit that there are Christians who do bad things but please don’t let that affect your perception of what ALL Christians are like. In the same context, I have many Muslim friends who I respect for their faith and they shouldn’t be targeted because of these things.
  2. For a person like me though I need to know why, I can live without finding an answer but it doesn’t ever stop me from asking why? Why do things like these keep happening, and how can we stop it or at least prevent it?
  3. I’ve done my best to keep updated on the Syrian Crisis, ISIS, and all the conflict going on in the Middle East. And I do have my fears, my thoughts, and my opinions. I don’t know exactly what to think during a time like this and I’m conflicted when there are so many voices voicing their thoughts that I do agree with but I also don’t at the same time.
  4. I’ve changed my profile picture to red, blue, and white. I support Paris and they are in my prayers. At the same time however, there are so many lives that have been affected by tragedies at this time and those who are dying who go unnoticed everyday… And I completely agree that in a way, media is emphasizing certain lives over others which goes against every life is equal. So though I am not going to change my PP again at the time being, I know that in my heart I will work hard to value every life even more.
  5. Sudden events like these really add even more to life’s fragility. We don’t know what’s going to happen in the next day, or next minutes but one thing we can do is do the best with all the time we have now. Appreciate the small things, love those around you, and move on from the trivial things.
  6. If you’re reading now and you’ve been affected, know that though I can’t do anything physically to help right now, I am praying for you and continually thinking of you in my thoughts. I am so sorry beyond words to know that things like these have happened to you and they are completely unfair. But be strong because there are so many people around the world who love you and support you one hundred percent. We are there for you if you need help or emotional support at this time. At time like these, it’s hard to understand but keep fighting. Keeping going<3