Perseverance

7 Dec

Perseverance has been a theme in my life this fall, as I began the second year of my PhD studies. As I embarked on my self-imposed, crazy deadlines in order to finish my comps and proposal (successfully defended 🙂 Nov. 26 on the five year anniversary of our move to China) and submit my ethics application by the end of November so that I could (hopefully) begin data collection in Jan/Feb (to be able to be in classes at least 5 months before moving to China for the next phase), I felt overwhelmed many times. One example: 16 consent forms to write and then translate into Chinese – yikes!

Two things kept me going. One was to take a deep breath and just do it, one tiny step at a time, to try not to think about the amount ahead of me. The second was the amazing help I got from friends: friends who helped me translate and those who gave me feedback on things I was struggling with, like my research questions – without you, I would not be where I am – thank you, you know who you are! There was also the encouragement. We all go through times when we lose all form of self-confidence! That’s when a friend can do wonders reminding you of what you already knew – that you are capable, that you can do it! And then a few days it’s your turn to help her. It works great that way 🙂

Roya doing "tawaza" (sp?)

Roya doing “tawaza” (sp?)

As is often the case, when we struggle with something our children do so as well. So my daughter, Roya, who has been doing karate since August 2012 (along with her brother) with relative ease, reached the point where was trying to pass a belt to reach intermediate level. Suddenly things became a challenge and her first instinct was to think about quitting. We met with her teachers at Intention Martial Arts and had a LONG talk about perseverance and how when things get hard is the time to really learn perseverance. From the beginning, I’ve been impressed with how the teachers at this dojo focus on teaching virtues along with the physical aspects. The talk really made an impact on Roya, who restarted with renewed energy and dedication. At the end of the three months when it was time for her belt test, she and a friend were both awarded two belts higher because of the amazing progress they had made. It was a very proud moment and a reminder that we accomplish amazing things when we choose to persevere.

Roya at her belt test

Roya at her belt test

My final reminder about perseverance came from Joyce, a Japanese-Canadian lady who had been interned as a child during World War II. We had taken our Rits-UBC exchange students on a field trip to the Nikkei Museum so they could learn about Japanese internment for our class about social exclusion in Canada. Joyce’s most difficult time was when she was a teenager, after the end of internment but before her family was allowed to return to the West Coast, when they lived on the prairies. She had to spend long days toiling on sugar beet farms to help her family make ends meet. She said this was when she learned perseverance. She felt that this made her the person she became even though she would not wish it on anyone. When her own children were teenagers they decided to pick berries as a summer job. Joyce told them if they decided to do it, they would have to persevere and do it until the end of summer. After a few days they were ready to quit but they didn’t. Joyce was proud that her children had learned perseverance. I couldn’t agree more – teaching my children perseverance is also my goal and it is great when others are able to help with this process. Perseverance is an important lesson for all of us and one that we will continue to learn as we face harder and harder challenges in life.

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