Thursday, July 5, 2012


Growing up as a Chinese kid in rural Guelph and Ottawa, and being a woman in the fire business,  it seems as if I have, for the majority of my life, been on the periphery of things. I've always been a bit of a misfit.  I knew I didn't fit into the standard 'mould' or perfect Norman Rockwell painting. And for the most part, once I outgrew that horrible period of childhood taunting, i learned being different wasn't so bad. My parents were key in all of this. As barely-english speaking newlyweds, they came  to this country in 1967,  and fully immersed themselves and forged ahead, creating a new way of living from scratch. Despite the racism they endured, they still embraced the opportunities they had and made inroads despite their apparent differences with the rest of rural Ontario. They  were modern pioneers of their time so to speak.   My father became a PHD in biochemistry (he had to quickly learn how to speak in English to do so!) .  My mother was unwavering and steadfast and worked three jobs to put him through school.   Because of her commitment and support, my father is now a name in the science 'history' books for some of the breakthroughs he made in medicine.   They were, and still are a team. Through and through.  That is not to say they didn't have their ups and downs like any couple, but they had a common bond, and they endured.  Even though they are very much a traditional Chinese couple, they are at the same time very modern and Canadian in their thinking. Many Chinese households tend to be autocratic. But my childhood wasn't. I was never told what I could or could not do. I wasn't pushed into any career path.  I was only told that if I chose to do something it was my decision alone to make and to take full responsibility regardless of the outcome. They taught me how to stand on my own two feet and not to judge, or take credit, or give blame. My father lives by example.... he is the happiest man I know. I have never ( and I truly mean never) heard him criticize or gossip about anyone. My mother, for all the normal growing pains that we endured together during my teenage years, has one of the biggest hearts I know. She loves in a quiet way that is steady, and unconditional.  Small in stature, I often wonder if she knows how strong a woman she actually is... so grounded in such a quiet, determined manner.  She is the one who taught me that love is beyond words and descriptions and is as vast and as powerful as the universe we live in.   It is because I was allowed to grow up in a household where I could make my own mistakes, I quickly learned from them.  I was taught that as long as I wasn't hurting anyone along the way, I could become anything I wanted to be.   It took me awhile to figure out who I was. But the journey getting here has been rich with experience and lessons... some painful, some amazing... all of them good.   And here I am today, flabbergasted at how my life has been filled with so many blessings... I am incredibly grateful.  If being different, marching to the beat of your own drum, swimming upstream when everyone else is taking the smoother ride down, makes me a misfit, well then, that is a title I will proudly wear.  Living on the periphery let's you see the world at a different angle, and standing on the edge, is where I feel I most rather be. xo

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