Learn a New Language … Now!

Le chat est noir et blanc!

This is a bit of a diversion from my usual dietary woes but I thought I’d share a little something that could have turned into an even bigger regret than it already was. About thirty odd years ago, I was paralysed by my inability to decide between learning French, Spanish, German, Japanese or Chinese. So I didn’t start learning any of them. Inertia is a powerful thing!

Since Canada is a bilingual country, & I already had the English bit, I thought I should probably try French. Finally! After all, it would be easier to find francophones to practice with. We have plenty of local language resources. And we have French TV channels & radio that I could learn from. Logical, eh!

After 30 years of deliberations, I then did what everyone with an engineering background does … I did another comparative evaluation exercise on which French language course might be more useful for me. I lost another year doing that. But I finally picked one & splashed the cash. It was my 2017 Christmas gift from me to myself!

I did the first lesson the day I purchased the course. And then I did nothing. Again!

It wasn’t ’til after a family trip to Québec that I was reminded of some things I’d forgotten. Seeing things through another’s eyes, those of my daughter, was an eye opener! She loved Montréal &, no surprise this, the stunning beauty of Québec City too. She began learning French. Towards the end of last year I blew the digital dust off off my French course & got stuck in. But this time, so far & fingers crossed that it continues, I’m staying the course.

I’m lucky enough to have to travel to the francophone regions of Canada for work &, finally, I overcame my reluctance to speak my first few words of French in public. In a restaurant, of course! I had diligently practiced my opening lines. Those that warn people that I’m just learning French & to please have patience with me! They worked. People took their time, they spoke slowly & clearly, & they helped me. And I managed to get breakfast to boot!

There is a quote, a touch inaccurately portrayed as something said by Nelson Mandela, that says … If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.

That is one of the true joys of speaking, no matter how poorly, another’s language. I am awed by the tolerance, the patience, & the kindness elicited by my early efforts to speak French. I hope that, one day, I’ll be able to make it sound like the beautiful language it is. Meantime, my fingers are hurting from being crossed so that I might sustain the effort.

You know that I like to beat up on myself from time to time, so I’m just a tad annoyed that I didn’t start sooner. But I’m also kinda quietly proud of my progress so far.

I wonder if I shouldn’t think about doing a little Spanish on the side too? I really like the food in all the Spanish speaking countries I’ve been to too. And, who knows, maybe it’s not too late to give up on the notion that I might aspire to, one day, play that old dusty guitar like Carlos Santana!

Hope you’re all having a great weekend! 😜😁

PS … If you’d like to try something a little different for your next vacation, I highly recommend a visit to Canada’s French-speaking regions. It’s like a little touch of Europe, right here in North America. And give it a try, test drive your few words of French! And wait ’til you try the food, I’m going to do a post later on the fast food in Québec. Mmmmm! ! 🤪

Weight Loss & Immigration Policy

Omelette

A friend of mine recently shared a post suggesting that we take care of our homeless & veterans before adding to the country’s immigrant burden. I had an immediate negative reaction to it. Of course, I would like our homeless & our veterans taken care of, but does that have to be at the expense of immigrants fleeing persecution & tyranny? Is it different if they are just fleeing from poverty? And even if not extreme poverty, is it okay to just want a better life for your family?

Both my friend & I are immigrants. We came to Canada under the Economic Class. In other words, we had a skill set that was in demand at the time of our application. People with money, business plans, & the gifted would all qualify in this category. What country wouldn’t want the rich & the extraordinary? But even those of us mere mortals who are simply capable of fitting in, & filling a skills shortage, were welcome. Most immigrants to Canada come in under this classification. The next largest group are those that qualify under the Family Reunification category. Here, we can sponsor a parent to come to Canada, for example. And there are financial obligations for the sponsor under this category, so it’s not a free for all. The final, & smallest, category are refugees & those accepted for humanitarian reasons.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no overt racial or religious biases in the system. Other than those bestowed on all of us, for good & bad, by accident of the place of our birth. While it’s easy for a white English speaking person to not see racism or bigotry in Canada, I’m still guessing that it’s not the worst place on earth for anyone to live, regardless of race & religion. Diversity does seem to have value in the psyche of most Canadians.

Comforting myself with all this Canadian niceness, it bothered me that my friend would think to share something contrary to my somewhat smug position. But I haven’t been able to stop thinking on the topic since. Does he have a point?

Who gets what benefit in this equation? For those who want to come here, & those who need to escape circumstances in their homeland, it’s of benefit to the immigrants. For companies in search of skilled workers, there are benefits to having an enlarged pool of talent. Indeed, there are advantages to some business sectors to have a larger, more affordable, unskilled labour pool. In theory, & in general, I’m of the belief that something that benefits business should benefit the country. And all of us living here. The goal is that everyone is better off in the long run.

That said, there are likely mathematical limits on this benefit equation. Is there such a thing as too many immigrants? The too many scenario has the potential to breed discontent. In today’s troubled world, we can see the rancour that is possible when people feel that these limits are being exceeded. Is my friend’s take on the situation an early warning sign that we are approaching those limits for some? Very often the counter to anyone expressing this argument is an emotional, rather than mathematical, one. It seems that there are some very bright people lending support to both sides of the equation & I am committed to trying to learn more. It doesn’t look like there is one, clear, definitive answer yet but, while I search for something approaching that, I should probably try to contain my gut reaction to such messages in future. Exploring both sides of these dilemmas, & asking more questions of those with opinions contrary to mine, would probably be a more useful approach for me.

Now what does all this have to do with weight loss?

There are an increasing number of societal challenges before us. The answers are not easy to come by. Could the worries generated by the political antics of our time be elevating our stress levels? Can we add those daily stresses to the weight gain challenges we already face?

I think it adds to my stress burden. And I probably do need to take a break from my news addiction. Maybe I need to listen to music more often. Perhaps an occasional run to lake for some water therapy would help. A morning walk through a morning misted forest? A glass of beer with friends might even be an acceptable dietary strategy in the modern world.

Okay, that’s pushing it … I’ll be good & just have a glass of red wine, or three, instead!

A Line in the Sand?

I thought “a line in the sand” was moveable, not immutable. You know: more like a line in wind-blown shifting sands. Or a line that is eradicated by the tides. One that must be redrawn to accommodate changing circumstances, that kind of thing. I always thought of a line in the sand being something that you could play with. Something you could shift around based on new information that might have you changing your mind. Or one that has you changing positions based on fear. Regardless of the circumstances that dictate the change, all you’d have to do is swish your foot over the line in the sand & it’s gone. Only to be redrawn elsewhere. To suit whatever today’s longings & limitations might be.

Flip Flopping

Now when my mother “drew the line”, I knew it wasn’t a line in the sand. It was a much firmer line. Possibly even a red line. And one that that were I to cross it, would have me in serious trouble. This is a whole different kind of line.

As it happens, when I looked it up, it turns out that the line in the sand is supposed to be more the kind of line my mother used to draw. But it’s treated more like what I believed it to be. Politicians, for example, are always drawing lines in the sand. But next day, they don’t only move the line, they move the whole beach.

The bottom line is that most lines aren’t worth the sand they’re drawn upon. Even my own. I often find myself flip-flopping on lines that I draw in this proverbial sand. It sometimes happens so quickly that I wonder why I bother drawing lines at all.

But I really wish I could draw a line on some of the crap I put in my mouth so I could lose some weight!!! 😊

PS … Happy Canada Day!!!