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By Katherine Kiang
KaTsZoNe Newsletters > KaTsZoNe - Issue 14 - The Gift of Lessons

1 Jan 2006

It's been quite a year and time seems to have passed so swiftly.  It feels like we have travelled to Narnia and so much has happened, except that we can never go back through the wardrobe. 

As I look back on 2005, I ask myself, what have I learned or re-learned?  After all the Christmas gifts have been exchanged, I thought about gifts which I received, in the form of five lessons. 

1.  Give with a purpose.

On December 26, 2004, and earthquake with a magnitude of approximately 9.0 (the strongest in 40 years) struck the Indian Ocean off the western coast of Sumatra causing tsunamis to hit coastal regions of Thailand, Sri Lanka, the Maldives, India, Bangladesh, Burma, Indonesia and Malaysia were effected.  This natural disaster took approximately 216,000 lives. 

Many people around the world gave whatever they could to help victims of the Indian Ocean earthquake, the various hurricane victims in the U.S., as well as other natural disasters around the world.  And, most may not hear or receive a thank you from victims, and, I believe they did not give to strangers, and expect any acknowledgement or applause.  These generous donors had hopes that money, supplies and people could reach places which they could not attend themselves, in order to save human lives, reunite families and to restore cities and villages.

We are all limited in monetary resources, some more than others - okay, we are not all millionaires.  My mother would say, "Do you think I can just shake a money tree?"  We could then have whatever we want.  Well, we know, it's not possible.  So, for those who may have either given for the first or second time, or the thousandth time, each individual needs to start with a purpose for giving.  It's not likely a good idea to start running 10 kilometers when you have never run before in your life.  I look at giving in the same way.  If you are not able to give $5.00, then it will not be easy to give $50.00.  And, even when you do become a millionaire, if you were not able to give $50.00, could you give $50,000 real quick?

I would like to continue focussing my gifts on education (i.e. scholarships) and health charities (i.e. research, education).  But, as some of you may know, I can be a sucker for your children's school fundraising campaigns -- hey, it's not likely I'll be spending thousands of dollars on chocolate now, right?  (I'm wondering why I have an annual book budget, but, I don't seem to have a chocolate budget .... hmmm.....)

One last thing about giving, do your homework on the organization(s) or individual(s) you are giving to.  Be aware of possible charity scams which are in the top 10 list of current scams.  So, check the organization's status and accountability of how donors' monies are spent. 

2.  Attitude, not aptitude, gives you altitude.

When I first started my job as a clerk at Toronto Police back in the early 1990s, the head of HR gave new employees a "pep talk".  He used a phrase which I have never forgotten, "It's your attitude, not your aptitude, which will give you altitude."  I have met many people around the world - the educated, uneducated, entrepreneurs, lawyers, secretaries, salespeople, cleaning ladies/men, students, professors, bank managers, doctors, beggars, dock workers, seamen, flight attendants and lots more - as some of you may have also encountered.  No matter what their social status, income level, race, religion, or gender preference, if their attitude came out as being selfish, cocky, condescending and racist, I backed away and wanted nothing to do with them.  We are all a little selfish, a little proud, sometimes even racist (particularly when it comes to who you prefer to marry) - but, I'm talking to the extreme. 

If I had only looked at the exterior (i.e. incomes, aptitudes, job position), and overlooked attitude, I would not have had the opportunity to work with, play with, and become friends with some incredible individuals from whom I continually learn from.  {Gosh...feel like a group hug coming on.....}

3.  We must make time for peace.

Okay, okay, this is not my attempt to resolve all the conflicts in the Middle East [talk about STRESS].  Wish I can offer some Lindt chocolates and cake to everyone, and there will be no more wars, disease, domestic violence, famine, gang fights, etc.  Does this sound a bit like the song, "This is my grown-up Christmas List" minus the chocolates and cake? 

Lots of people are under stress.  We have been told that people can die from stress.  You may wonder, isn't the title about "peace"?  I think we are stressed because we do not make time for peace in our lives.  Peace (which some people call "quiet time") is not a priority for many.  It takes too long to take a bubble bath and relax...it takes a while to meditate while there's tons of laundry and dishes to do...and, other than going to church once week, it's just lots of running around on the wheel from Monday to Sunday -- and then, you realize, you can't get off the spinning wheel!!!  Aw, rats!  So, I think we need to learn to get off the wheel regularly.  Part of my naturopathic treatment includes 30 minutes, every night, with me on my back and a castor oil pack over my liver -- well, hey, after taking many deep breaths and relaxing like that, anything works!  

So, I can offer you some Lindt chocolates and cake still, if you'd like.  You know what they say, "STRESSED spelled backwards is DESSERTS".

4.  "...he who has hope has everything"

An Arabian proverb says, "He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything."  It does not matter what difficult circumstances you find yourself in or the challenging goals you may have in your life -- it may be trying to improve your health, improve your finances, resolve family disputes, make career plans, finding your "soul mate" (spouse) or just trying to find purpose in life -- but, if you lack hope, it is impossible to carry on.

The longer you've been alive, the more experience you have had with tough times, disappointments, and grief.  Even as adults, there are times we just want to hide under our blankets and wish for all the "bad stuff" to disappear.  Eventually, it could be a doctor, a friend, a pastor, a co-worker, a neighbour or even a store clerk who may say or do something to inspire and encourage you.  Books, film and music can also inspire, but remember, there is always a person (i.e. author, creator) behind those things, so in fact, it is a person who may have inspired you and instilled hope.  All this to say, I think it's important to allow people to come into your life.  Being locked up in your house is more likely to give you phobias than hope.   

5.  Read the labels carefully, but, also learn to trust your instincts or intuition.

So, if you saw a dog who's growling and showing his teeth eyeing your every move -- hope you will not go near it.  Actually, hopefully, it's on the other side of a tall fence!  When it comes to buying groceries, playing the stock market, buying a car or just about anything else, you will be faced with labels (of ingredients), written contracts or verbal instructions.

Since I started my naturopathic treatments, I have had to constantly read labels of ingredients on packaged foods, ask my naturopathic doctor lots of questions, ask questions from restaurant servers, and read up on articles on the internet.  How many years have I been eating soya sauce (a very common ingredient in Chinese cooking) and yet, I never knew there was wheat in it! 

We are bombarded with tons of information, but, we ought to also trust our instincts.  If I drank some milk and afterwards, I got a big tummy ache, well, maybe, I need to cut out MILK!  I hate to be hard on medical doctors, but, most of them could not help me with psoriasis except with more drugs.  Each time I went to see my dermatologist, it was to get prescription for more drugs!  All it did was make me feel worse.  And, I had never read that people with psoriasis ought to avoid wheat, dairy, caffeine, as well as nightshades like bell peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant (which cause inflammation).  In the back of my mind, I knew that foods must play a major part in a problem such as psoriasis.  If my intuition was more fine tuned (and if I was less stubborn), I would have gone to a nutritionist (or naturopathic doctor who is also trained in nutrition) a long time ago!  Sometimes, if you're just addicted to Starbucks' caramel macchiator, it's hard to give it up...not to mention pasta with lots of tomato sauce...and fries ... and so on....and so on.

I hope these four lessons I have learned this past year have been somewhat enlightening to most, if not all, of you.  I'm sure there are more lessons to be learned this coming year.

I wish you all a safe, healthy, happy and extremely blessed year!

E-mail:  katszone@gmail.com

P.S. I invite you to check out my homepage at http://www.katszone.citymax.com from time to time where updates of each section are marked.  These updates are made throughout the month, whenever some ideas hit me, or whenever I decide to get adventurous!