Travelling + Perspective = Gratitude

YES two words can be altered by math and turned into one = GRATITUDE.  Here’s an explanation on how I did that!

Travelling is not just about food, wine and amazing landmark Selfies despite that being a huge part of our postings on Facebook. What I have not been sharing is our education & understanding of historical facts as shared by locals…. here’s my story today….

<DISCLAIMER – THIS IS MY OPINION SHARED SOLEY FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN READING AN OPINION>

I am watching North America – American and Canadian citizens react to a man who used to be called Mr. Trump and now has the glorious title “Mr. President”.   I have been watching this process on Facebook, the newspapers, TV whilst my feet are standing on ‘European’ soil.   I am appalled by various terms and references made to this new American President and comparisons made – mostly to one insane man.   Now here’s a few things for consideration, since my feet on on Europe soil….

  • Communism
  • Dictatorships
  • Sovereign Debt
  • Higher Taxes
  • Famines
  • Religion
  • Unemployment

As a Canadian, I have been blessed, growing up with 50 years of peace.  I was not born in Poland, during Communism and so I had shoes purchased for me when I needed them, not because suddenly the store had shoes.  I did not have to hold my sister’s hand, stand in line for milk, only to find we were two people behind the last to get it.   I was not born in Portugal, during a time of Dictatorship and my family was so poor that we were starving that my father had to take us from our Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and settle us into a new country called Canada, where I did not know how to speak English.

I have enjoyed freedom of speech, religion and relatively “acceptable taxes** for services” (** note this is changing and what my children and grandchildren will NOT experience).   I lived simply and obliviously.   I took for granted going to the store to find an abundance of food and had money for it.  Growing up as a teenager, listening to any and all types of music, I had nothing censored.  Arguing with my father that yes, my jeans were too tight, but of course I had a choice in jobs to earn the money to buy those extremely tight jeans, just to have that argument.  My bicycle was for fun, to take me to play with my friends after school.  It was not a luxury item nor a form of transportation.  My parents could travel to work using their car that they purchased fuel for anytime.

I’m sure you understand by now that I did not have a full understanding of what and how life was like for anyone growing up in the 1960’s, 1970’s and really 1980’s for many people in European countries (see the above considerations).

Sitting in Porto, Portugal, a placed that was ruled by a Dictatorship government for over 40 years until 1974, I am writing this blog.  Travelling here and in Poland, Germany, Italy etc has given me perspective to write this.  It has also given me perspective….

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I appreciate that some of my friends opinions on social media are screaming outrage over the new American President, which by the way as Canadian’s we had NO say in.  AND I ask, why should Canadians HAVE a say in who the American people silently chose as their President?  Would we appreciate Italians, Belgians or Malaysians telling us who we should have as our Prime Minister and then protesting our choice after we failed to vote in someone they liked?

Why are Canadian’s protesting against a USA President?  Why are we not protesting Brussels’ austerity measures against Greece?  The wars that caused ALL the immigrant refugees? Our own government’s irresponsible spending?  Higher taxes?

OK so some people from specific countries are not allowed into the USA because of a travel ban and people are being deported out of the USA because they are illegal immigrants.  Do you think as a Canadian we can travel freely to any country, simply cross any border into any country and decide to stay for as long as we want? Work there, get free medical, take jobs from a local and live there, not paying taxes?  Try going to UK, Germany, Singapore, Japan, Greece, Poland.  You would get deported as an illegal also.

I see young people protesting, taking a day off classes and having issues with not having” Safe spaces”.  Imagine yourself standing in a train station in Napoli, a pick-pocket who is ethnically, culturally and religiously different from you (and probably has opinions you don’t agree with);  they reach into your backpack and you yell for a Safe Space?

I acknowledge it’s ok to protest and stand up for immigrant refugees but what happens when that person expresses a different opinion? Or culturally treats you in a way you do not like?  Do you demand your right for a safe space?  The safe space concept is such a “Western” concept that it does NOT exist outside of Canada, USA and UK.  I do not see how this concept allows others freedom of expression?  What will happen when the person so use to a “safe space” leaves this, or the government no longer provides it, allows it?

Millennials are demanding affordable city centre living accommodations, high paying jobs, guaranteed wage-health benefits & pensions.  I can share with you a Millennial in Europe, holding a double masters in Physics and Chemistry, with the ability to build a bomb but instead working at the car rental counter at the airport in Madeira.  Her parents grew up under a Dictatorship and they have suffered from the economic meltdown of 2008, lack of jobs.  They are not counting on affordable city centre living or even having the government pension when they retire.  The sense of entitlement and even trust in the Government often does not exist.  It is a generational thing here –  2, 3 and 4 generations have not experienced the freedoms I grew up with.

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Perspective…. something garnered along this Grant-adventure.

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Gratitude…. yes I’m grateful I grew up Canadian.  I learned the art of leisure.  I was never hungry nor worried about food or shelter as a child.  I am grateful to know freedom of religion, have free speech and there is freedom in love.

There is gratitude that I grew up in a Democratic country and was able to choose education and use the education for a good paying job.  That I have friends who have freedom in who they love.  In Canada, I have friends and family that can share their differing opinions and I am grateful we have a relationship that allows such.  I’m grateful to raise children in a country that gave them freedom to travel and a Canadian passport to do this.   I am grateful my children are open minded and when they leave Canada can explore the world, other people’s different cultures and yes, different opinions based upon different perspective.

I am grateful to the people we have met and to those that we will meet along the way.  Their history, culture and differences are giving me a new perspective on being Canadian and most certainly a humble Gratitude for such.

A Polish Winter December 2016 & January 2017

After my lapse in blogs, for those wanting to know what we have been doing…. here’s our two Months in the Polish winter.

The Christmas season was, of course, Robert’s 1st Christmas.  I’m sure it was just another day but with some ‘new toys’ thrown in and a lot of ‘playtime’.  Being ONE of the 4 Grandparents, I loved it and was happy to share our time in one place as we got the Polish Christmas Eve at Kasia’s parents and then Christmas day at Tony & Kasia’s and her family joined for that dinner. Breaking bread and eating – we Grants do that well!  And for you, dear reader, a couple of “My First Christmas” moments of this wonderful boy:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had 6-Grant moments in Greece, which by the way was THE coldest in the last 50 years – they had snow?!  Who knew that when it was planned, thinking 15+ degrees, would turn out closer to 1 degree.   No matter, we loved dinner of the best lamb that Kasia and I made in the oven on NYE with lovely wine and ringing in the New Year together.  (Sidebar – there was a bit of Metaxa involved for Two male Grants and a fire extinguisher but I think that was closer to 5 am on NY Day).

With all 6-Grants together, Lara was “Auntie, Daughter and Sister” in the 3 weeks she spent with us.  There is nothing better than being able to hug your sweet child that you are watching mature and come into her own away from you at University.   She is still our happy, bright, beautiful self:

There are things that you learn when you travel and set up a place that will be a ‘2nd home’ (with beds owned in both countries as the definition of ‘home’)

For my fellow Canadian family and friends reading this, a few interesting bits of life in Poland:

  • You are not in line if you are not physically touching the person in front of you or behind you – to which I heard it said but experienced this in the grocery store, Biedronka and the woman behind me had a nagging cough.
  • If someone doesn’t have their headlights on you flash yours at them. We seem to have an ‘auto’ button on our cars in Canada – not so much here.  We have been ‘flashed’ more times than we care to admit – now we are the flashers!
  • We no longer think it is strange that beer and water are the same price – this is NOT a complaint – just saying!
  • As a passenger – when stepping out of the car – you open the door, look down for dog shit and if all clear – step out.
  • You cannot go to the store and buy rice crackers or chocolate chips.
  • Coal is sold in hardware stores – so much for all of us in Canada trying to be environmentally conservative – they have to heat their homes with coal and wood here.
  • Please don’t say “pierogies’.  Pierogi is already the pluralized form of the singular “pierog’.

Lastly, we have not experienced the ‘snowy’ cold winter we thought we would get.  It’s dry and cold and we are looking forward to a February and March in all parts of Portugal.  Increasing the ‘weather’ by an extra 15 degrees – I shall have warmer feet!!!

Off we go…. road tripping via planes, trains and automobiles and a bit of our own two feet….