Sunday, 28 July 2013

On Racism

In The Footsteps Of our Race

I was watching CNN the other day and the topic was about racial prejudices and the plight of blacks and other minority races.  As a Ukrainian growing up in the forties, I can almost empathize with those who are on the receiving end of racial prejudice.  Mind you, I grew up on a farm in a very rural setting and was surrounded by other Ukrainians so I was not subjected to the painful bigotry and racial slurs that my father spoke about.  When he came to Canada, Ukrainians were ostracized and ridiculed. They were the “Bohunks”,  the “Galicians”, and whatever other derogatory term the superior English cared to label the poor peasant immigrants and  that came to Canada at the turn of the century. 

I did not hear those terms myself but I do remember being strapped for saying even a single Ukrainian word while I was on the school grounds.  Use of Ukrainian was cause for corporal punishment. In fact when I started school, because I knew no English, I was relegated to be a total mute for months, until I became proficient in the English language.  When we moved to the village for my grade nine, I was often teased for my Ukrainian accent.  (I still have it, I think, but in today’s multicultural society, I don’t think people notice it - or care anymore.) I do know that I have always felt that I needed to work harder than other folks to overcome the stigma of inferiority. I am still super-sensitive to those jokes and songs that depict Ukrainians as being dim-witted, slovenly, whiskey-swilling drunks in dirty coveralls and babushkas that are the source of “stupid” jokes in more sagacious society.

The way I see it, I don’t think any race, black, white or purple, has a monopoly on smart or stupid, good or bad, neat or slovenly, compassionate or mean, superior or inferior. Every race has its share of the good and the bad.  Every now and then, some person will rise out of the populace and leave some indelible imprint of him/herself that we find  fantastically great and admirable or absolutely terrible and atrocious.  The rest of us are then left to either try to bask in their shadow or to forever try hide from it. Both are difficult.

Would not life be wonderful if each and every one of us was judged solely on our own merits rather than on those of someone else - a single person or a whole race?  

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Life Lessons

I just finished  reading - actually LISTENING (due to poor vision, I only do audio books), to Debbie Macomber's  book "God's Guest List" and  I just  realized how my last post " I'm a Wannabe" must look and sound. I am afraid that, in that post, I must sound extremely self-centered and egotistical.  I give no credit to the many "enablers" that have helped me to get to where I now am.  I did not get there under just only my own steam, though I must admit  to a somewhat monomaniacal personality.  My excuse for that is: now that I am retired, I can afford monomania.

 But getting back to to the subject I was talking about.  I realize that to some readers the very title of that book would be a turn-off!  Many people just cringe at the thought of being preached to. They do not wish to hear  bible passages or religious sermons and the like. But  the title  "God's Guest List" in this case is rather misleading.  Although the author does quote bible passages and she does relate the passages to her subject, this book is really not a "religious" book as per say.  The whole book is simply a philosophical approach to life in general.  Yes, it fits a religious theme, but that same approach can fit into an atheist's lifestyle or the lifestyle of any other religion (though I have to confess to ignorance of specifics of  religions other than Christianity).  Still, I am confident that other religions all share the same basic concept of "decency and common sense". What this book promotes is not "Christian religion"!  It advocates a common sense philosophy of life: "Strive to do your best and take advantage of each and every opportunity that presents itself along your path. Cash in on the lessons of your mistakes and the difficulties that you encounter along the way toward the achievement of your goals.

A couple of years ago, I blogged a short poem here entitled "The Value of a Mistake" (October 27, 2011), and that theme fits in with the suggestions that this book advocates.  Religion or philosophy, this book makes total sense for just plain LIVING and getting the most out of  life!  

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

I'm A Wannabe

I'm a Wannabe

 Since I read my first "book" (The Boxcar Children) so many, many , many years ago, I have dreamed of someday writing a book.  It would be so easy, I thought. I had dozens of ideas floating inside my head and I was convinced they were all fantastic!  (Youthful ignorance and unrealistic optimism, you know.)

From the perspective of youth, almost all things are possible.  Without the sobering influence of past failures and bitter experiences to hamper or reign us in, it is easy to dream big - even unrealistically big.  Which is a good thing.  Youthful optimism takes us onto uncharted pathways that can lead to major breakthroughs in many different fields of endeavour.   Great discoveries and monumental accomplishments have been realized because somebody "dreamed the impossible dream".  Nothing ventured,- nothing gained still holds true, no matter what age.  The optimism of youth is the power behind our countless successful ventures.

If we want something badly enough, we make it happen.  It may not be the ultimate dream of our family, our friends or even the average Joe on the street, but if it is OUR dream, it is worth striving for, worth OUR sacrifices and trials and even bitter disappointments.  Each mistake is a lesson we can capitalize on and utilize to our advantage.  It promotes advancement toward maturity and ultimate wisdom .  We all need to get there. Some get there sooner and others later but success in achieving our dream is everybody's goal.

I may never be someone else's idea of a successful writer, but I have achieved my ultimate goal.  What I aimed for and dreamed about, I have achieved. I still have alot farther to go and I may never really get all the way there, but I am on the road.  To me that is success!  

What are you dreaming about?????  Aim high!

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Canada Day Poem (Late)

I am late with this poem.  I wrote it 3 years ago for our Tenant Association July newsletter. When my old computer crashed this spring, I lost several files that I had not backed up onto a memory stick.   I thought I had lost this poem forever but the editor had a copy in her files and kindly retrieved it for me.  It is still July and hopefully, Canada Day is still not totally forgotten. Forgive this less than timely publication. Regardless of the date, it still applies.

What is Freedom?

Freedom is a priceless endowment Canadians take for granted
Without rancour or apology – or gratitude
It’s “our right” our inheritance – our very own treasure
No one may trample it, question it, or disown it
Take it away, disclaim it or even earn it.
It is there, it is ours – free for the taking
Even if we fail to recognize or appreciate it
Even when we challenge, dispute, distort, or abuse it
It remains with us still
Unworthy, ungrateful, though we may be
The ever-loving puppy at our feet
Forever faithful, always patient, all forgiving, never judging
Though we be prone to such disdain.

In Canada, freedom is not an elusive, impossible dream
It is not a sad lament, not even a fantasy
Uttered with apprehension or dread
Lest we be overheard.

Freedom is not a nebulous vision on a misty horizon
A vague and hopeless delusion, unfruitful, barren
A beautiful mirage of an unattainable aspiration
A wistful thought, unrealized, in fear unspoken
A child not ever-yet to be conceived.

What have I done to be so privileged to posses it?
Worthy and deserving of this incalculable liberty?
I was born in Canada!

As for the suffering million poor of this world – there, but for the grace of God, go I!!!

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Regaining Perspective

 New Perspectives

I have been feeling rather drained of ideas and energy since my bout with some ill health lately.  Because of it I had started to question my future in the writing field.  There is nothing worse than losing your drive and your hopes and dreams, even if they are merely a hobby and not "your life's work".  That can be a very a  lonely and unproductive state, a state of self-deprivation which is most definitely self-perpetuating.

Hobbies are important. They provide us with purpose,  something to strive for.  We all need that.  I was browsing the Internet and I ran across Kristen Lamb's Blog on I had seen it before but it had never impacted me as strongly as it did this time.  It was as if she was speaking  directly to me, telling me to hang in there, not to give up, to keep pushing ahead against the hopelessness and the lethargy and the indifference.  It made perfect sense and it hit home with tremendous force.

We Ukrainians have a saying that translates "Not wanting to do something is far worse than being UNABLE to do it".  That is so, so true.  Determination to do something can overcome many disabilities.  So I am through bemoaning my fate! Self-pity BEGONE!!!! I am going to complete that novel that has been sitting half-finished on my computer for months.  Look out folks!  It's on its way!!!!  Thanks, Kristen.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Demise of A Computer

 My Computer Lost its Hard Drive 

I used t'be full of ideas,
For subjects to write about
But something wiped my hard drive
I just have lost my clout!

My personal computer
That ran my brain before
Has been cleaned out of memory
It won't compute no more

I sit forlornly at my chair
My whole body in a hush
I try to jiggle that old brain
But it has turned to mush

When I lost my old computer
My old hard drive it did die
Now I just feel so empty
Cause my new hard drive is dry.

I have to to find some software
And reprogram this old brain
To work with Windows Seven
So I can work again.

I thought I could escape it
By avoiding Windows Eight
But all this new technology
Has altered my brain's fate.

I guess I'll have to just adapt
And join this new rat race
Or otherwise I'll keep losing ground
And admit to losing face.