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How to stay thankful when the world hits back

With all the stress, disaster, and hurt happening in the world, it may be hard to realize that each day is an opportunity to start fresh. As many people in the Caribbean are dealing with the catastrophic effects of natural disasters, there are many things that people around the owrld should be thankful and grateful for in this life. It’s a difficult feeling to know that you can only do so much for those in need. It also doesn’t need to be Thanksgiving for you to remember what it means to be thankful. Little steps and tips daily can help you to become a more grateful person despite the chaos around you.

Keep it classic

Remember when people would actually speak to each other face to face and over the phone and not just over instant message or email? Sometimes the smallest things can make the world of difference to someone’s day. Maybe it’s a quick phone call to a distant friend or a written and mailed thank you note or letter. These little gems have become so unexpected that they are now moments to cherish. When you take the time to do these things, you are expressing more gratitude than just a “thx” in an email.

Remember to speak

Sometimes people get frustrated and that is understandable; however, it is unacceptable to take it out on complete strangers. Just yesterday, I was in line at Subway and there was one man serving approximately four customers. The man in front of me was visibly upset for having to wait an extra four minutes to get his sandwich. When his order was finally complete, he threw the money at the server and left the restaurant without a ‘thank you.’ The man behind the counter was visibly upset and he told me that sometimes people get the treatment they deserve in life. As a new immigrant to Toronto, from the UK, the employee told me that despite being a multicultural city, Toronto still feels cold to him in part to people like that. Nobody deserves to have money thrown at them, no matter the day you’re having. The best thing you can do is always remember to say ‘Thank you.’

Keep it on record

Many people get into the habit of expressing their emotions thorough journals and this is a good way to show emotional control and to keep track of your thoughts. Even if you are not into the routine of journaling, there are small exercises you can do daily to keep gratitude in perspective. Every morning or every evening, list five things that you are grateful for. Try not to stick to the broad and basic stuff like ‘my family’ and ‘my home,’ but instead think about your day to day experiences and the people you cross paths with in life. Be thankful for the stranger that held the door open for you this morning or be thankful for the feeling of sunshine in a balmy September.

Be Positive

Telling someone to be positive when everything is going wrong around them can sometimes feel like a slap to the face. Instead, make it your duty to reflect the best version of yourself to those around you. You have to be the one to make the decisions that will impact your life. Practice more self awareness and don’t bury your face in a phone while communicating with someone. Or even practice breathing and mediation in order to calm yourself and improve your mood.

Only one version of you

The most powerful thing you have over someone else is that you are unique. There is nobody else like you in this world. Some may have similar characteristics and traits, but you are in control of your life and the best thing you can do is be thankful to your body. Eat, sleep, exercise, and have fun. The moments may pass us by quickly and you don’t want to leave your life with regrets. The best thing you can do is make yourself happy because sometime happiness can be the most difficult thing to achieve

“The Two of Us” and the importance of an unfinished ending

The connection between two people can be confirmed in a variety of relationships; mother and daughter, lovers, or a boss and employee. The dialogues and stories that result from the bonds people experience are individualistic and universal at the same time. The Two of Us by Kathy Page is a compilation of short stories that made the longlist for the Giller Prize. This set of stories reflects the commonality of all face-to-face relations between two people, and yet how astoundingly different the partnerships are depending on the role each individual plays in the given scenario.

Initially, it is difficult to find a common association between each of the stories and it appears they are inextricably disconnected.  After meditating on the various stories that Page writes, there is a theme that arises between the tales. Each of the stories is written in intense and vivid detail that hooks the reader in and then concludes before the climax of the story is revealed. “Pigs” is about a husband and wife and ends with the woman thinking about killing her husband, but we never find out what happens next. The setting of the story is carefully laid out and the characters are so well described they feel real, and yet the reader never finds out the concluding element in each of the relationships in the set of short stories.

The lack of a conclusion in the stories is initially maddening, but as they continue it becomes apparent how much these awkward in-between moments reflect reality. Oftentimes in the set-up of a story, it has a distinct beginning, middle and end — it is clear-cut. Life does not work like this, and abandoning the traditional set up of a story gives it more authenticity. My discomfort as a reader reflects my desire for the perfect ending. Instead, abandoning my longing for perfection to embrace the rhythm of Page’s set of stories deepens my acceptance of the never-finished stories in real life.

“The right thing to say” follows a couple who live in Canmore, AB, that are trying to have a baby. The mom-to-be is pregnant and they are having testing done to find out if the child has a genetic defect that would affect the health of the baby. This story hits close to home, and the descriptions of the setting are incredibly vivid. It almost feels as if the reader is sitting next to the worried couple in the hospital. This story reflects the various settings that Page uses, switching between England and Canada. It is interesting because Page is a British author who has resided on Vancouver Island for several years. The stories reflect her intimate familiarity with the two settings and helps the reader to really have confidence in in what is being described.

There is a futuristic element to a few of the stories as well. In “It is July Now”, the tale focuses on a character named Piret who is from Sweden and lives in a socialist society where almost nothing is owned privately. A middle-aged American woman comes to intern at the school and attempts to befriend Piret several times, though it is mostly unsuccessful. There is a stark contrast between the strict and stringent lifestyle of Piret and the American woman who is happier and more free with her money. The story between the two characters ends off without a distinct conclusion and it leaves the reader wondering whether the two women become better friends.

The concluding story of the anthology brings the set of stories together in a fascinating way. “Open Water” features a swim coach named Mitch and one of his swimmers, Tara who lives in Vancouver.  Mitch works with Tara for years on her swimming and when she has the opportunity to go to the Olympics, what happens next will leave the reader shocked.

Page does a very subtle and determined job at showing the reader that life is awkward and the unexpected happens, yet it becomes almost soothing in this series of stories. In one of the stories mentioned, the reader will find intimate commonality with their own life in The Two of Us, and walk away with a stronger understanding of the complexities of the unfinished ending in real life. The anthology comes highly recommended, and definitely a study of the most detailed and intimate way to describe a person and their life through the written word without giving everything away.