Children Are Better Than the Parents, Sometimes


There are so many things that we can learn from our children. We just need to listen with our conscience and open minds. Today, when a handicapped person came along on a wheelchair, my daughter told me not to stare at that person because it was not polite. Yesterday at skating place I kept making comments on some skaters. My daughter kept reminding me, “Please, don’t be so judgemental.”

I only made comments not judgement, thought I. Yet, to her, they must sound so much not like comments. To be sure, I did not make favorable comments. And those unfavorable ones must sound raspy to the ear if not to the nerves. At least, they were not fairly made. How comes I am not aware of it and she is sensitive about it? Have I become so callous and careless about throwing around unfair comments?

Once again, I realize that we adults are too full of prejudices to be even kind and fair in our comments. Time to rejuvenize our mind and learn something good from our youngsters.



Your Multiple Degrees, Gift of Mind, and Miracle


I received this commercial message email from Nightingale,
“—
No matter if you have multiple degrees lining your office walls or if you have none … you have a gift. It’s the gift of a mind that is capable of truly remarkable endeavors. Miraculous even.

You see, your IQ doesn’t define you. Your salary doesn’t define you. Likewise, your level of fitness, your current career position, and your number of friends don’t define who you are either.

Rather, greatness does exist within you. Incredible ability is there, just waiting to be tapped. You’re on the cusp of realizing fantastic achievements. And it’s all within your mind … and it’s all within your reach!

So the question has never been ‘Do you have the skills, the talent, and the ability to be great?’ The question is … ‘How will you begin to reveal your greatness RIGHT NOW?’
— ”

What followed is asking you to buy something from them. What interests me is “multiple degrees lining your office walls.” It brings up what I often see in doctor’s office. Very often, I ask myself, “Why do you hang them up there? Just for people to see how old you are when they see your college graduation year is 1969 or how young and inexperienced you are when your date is 2009? We all know that degrees mean no more than your past effort and your major. It is our daily behavior and interactions with people that most thoroughly reveal us.

I learn that health care is one of the most undefined hierarchical fields all because of “multiple degrees lining your office walls,” with doctors’ parading most — four-year college degree, four-year medical school degree, three-year resident certificate, three-year fellowship certificate, board exam certification, and so on… A person with a RN title can act like 100% snobby highbrow. I have some RN being kind enough to enlighten me with a high-pitch voice, “Education is very important. You should at least have high school degree.” Indeed, without bragging around, I am considered a high school dropout. Worse than this, that person’s behavior betrays her as even less schooled than a middle-schooler.

Health care field is also the place where passive-aggressiveness is most practiced. Being there and having experienced it, now I know why. What’s my point of knowing it all? Forget your environment if it is negative, find the gift and the greatness within you, without spending a dime if you can. Enjoy this last beautiful May Saturday.



Different Communication Style from Different Personality


It is our leadership workshop again, once every other week. I always walk out of the room feeling wiser than before. A big accomplishment. Prior to our leadership workshop yesterday afternoon, we were given a communication style inventory survey to reveal the style with which we communicate with others. During the workshop we talked about what the result meant. There are O.C.D.I styles based on 18 questions. Here are my score:
Open = 1
Close = 8
Direct = 2
Indirect = 7

Here’s their meaning — the different combination yields different communication style:
C + D = controller and director
• Commander
• Values getting the job done
• Decisive risk taker
• Good at delegating work to others
• Not shy but private about personal matters; comes on strong in conversation
• Likes to be where the action is
• Take charge, enterprising, competitive, efficient approach
• Fearless; no obstacle is too big to tackle
• Results Oriented

O + D = promoter and socializer
• Entertainer
• Values enjoyment and helping others with the same
• Full of ideas and impulsive in trying them
• Wants to work to be fun for everyone
• Talkative and open about self; asks others’ opinions; loves to brainstorm
• Flexible; easily bored with routine
• Intuitive, creative, spontaneous, flamboyant approach
• Optimist; nothing is beyond hope
• Celebration Oriented

O + I = supporter and relator
• Harmonizer
• Values acceptance and stability in circumstances
• Slow with big decisions; dislikes change
• Builds networks of friends to help do work
• Good listener; timid about voicing contrary opinions; concerned for others’ feelings
• Easy-going; likes slow, steady pace
• Friendly & sensitive; no person in unlovable
• Relationship Oriented

C + I = analyzer and thinker
• Assessor
• Values accuracy in details & being right
• Plans thoroughly before deciding to act
• Prefers to work alone
• Introverted; quick to think and slow to speak; closed about personal matters
• Highly organized; even plans spontaneity!
• Cautious, logical, thrifty approach
• Thoughtful; no problem is too big to ponder
• Idea Oriented

Obviously, I fall in the C + I combination. Not a lightyear away from the truth. Isn’t it nice to know that you are not a Commander, an Entertainer, a Harmonizer and have to be limited to being an Assessor? Not. I am more interested in learning how people with different styles interact or communicate with each other. How can close-indirect person interact with open-direct ones? Fight? Passive-aggressiveness? I learned that passive-aggressiveness is most practiced in health care field, with doctors being extremely o-d and others being the other end of the spectrum. I can already smell the gun powder at our work place. As far as I can see, Commander always rule over the rest of the world, not peacefully though. Fun to learn and to understand both ourselves and others.



Fear Not When You are Young, Regret Not When You are Old


I talked to one of my relatives in China on Monday about which direction her grown-up child should take upon college graduation. To be sure, as parents, we all have endless worries about the wellbeing of the children, which is inevitable and is okay as long as we keep them to ourselves and not let it mess up with children’s decision.

I remember a story in which an elderly in a tribe tells the young people the wisdom in life consists of six words. He gives them the first three words before they venture out for a distant land — do not fear. “After you get back from your adventure, I will give you the last three words.” When these people come back for these words, they are no longer young, having covered large part of their life’s journey. Some have been successful in the world, becoming rich and famous, some being the opposite. The last three words given to them are — do not regret.

I was going to share this wisdom with my relative, then again I held myself back. We all have our shares of worries, concerns and anxiety. It is never easy if we could put ourselves in other’s position. Today I talked to my son over the phone and learned that he seemed to be going farther and farther from the road that I have expected him to go. On the one hand, you expect young people to venture out of school, fear not and be independent, on the other hand, you expect them to come back when the break is over and not to be too independent. He might fear nothing, but I have the fear that the company might keep him longer than the summer. What about his school? I told him, “You got to go back to school and get your degree or you will regret if you don’t.” How about the elderly’s six-word wisdom — do not fear, do not regret?



A Wonderful Father and the Son Relationship


I have been lately reading a book, One in Three: a son’s journey into the science and history of cancer by Adam Wishart, 2007. The author is a London-based documentary filmmaker. The title of the book implies cancer is the disease that touches the lives of one person in three. Not pleasant to know. Forget this.

The author interweaves memories of his father and the story of his father’s cancer treatment with the western medical history of this disease. To be sure, the book is very informative on the one hand, making us appreciate the advances in science and technology in medicine. On the other hand, to me, the book is more like a celebration of a wonderful relationship between a father and his son. I am touched by the growing up experience of the author and his father, a very loving, caring and positive one!

The author recalled his childhood moments with his dad, his dad’s unremitting quest to educate him; the story of Dr. John Snow’s discovery, the first piece of work on epidemiology, the story of cholear epidemic of 1854, how the father and the teenage son went to movie together, so many such intimate moments of father and son … The readers can see the definit imprint of his father’s caring work in him.

The author fondly recalled, Dad “was always telling me stories about scientists, mathematicians, and revolutionaries … From my adolescence it was our habit to stay up late and, with Mum in bed, to sit talking about these things in the kitchen table. For two men who never spoke about their feelings, our intimacy consisted in sharing our interests in politics, history, or the progress of science. If I knew history, he thought, then I might be better able to navigate through my life, because he always used the past as a way to understand his place in the world.” p. 2

“When I was a child and Dad was in his early forties, he regularly carried me up the Lakeland fells so that I might see the English landscape laid out below.” p. 215 The book abounds with anecdotes like this.

Such a beautiful picture of father and son! Such a wonderful father! There are so many things that a father and his son can do together and so many chances for them to form a loving and meaningful relationship, yet some choose doing nothing at all or abandon these chances to live a richer life. How I wish most of the dad were like the dad of this author! Dreaming again, I know. Guess what? I just discover dreaming is the most harmless activity that one can engage, only on the verge of being useless.



Epochmaking Event for Hispanic Female


Hurah for Sonia Sotomayor! So inspiring!
It is Tuesday morning, though felt like Monday morning since we had yesterday off. The U.S. President, first African-American to be in this place, will nominate today Sonia Sotomayor, the first Hispanic female, to serve on the Supreme Court.

With this president, we are expecting epochmaking event everyday, not exactly. Physics Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu, an Asian American, the first of its kind for this position, was confirmed as his energy secretary early this year.

If the president looks for the really brilliant with empathy, look for them among Asian Americans. I know many Asian Americans go into law practice. The day will not be far away when the first Asian American will get nominated for the highest court of the land. How exciting, well, the thought of it!



Frost’s Poem, Promise to Keep, Miles to Go


I was on the verge of disliking Robert Frost’s poems when I first encountered them during my younger days, too serene and reflective, always carrying a sad taste, enough to spoil any of your good mood. But, strange enough, as those younger days are here no more, some of his poems keep re-surfacing in my memory. Amazing I have such a good memory for useless stuffs.

When I learned a friend of mine was leaving for China early this morning, I wanted very much to go, too. I even had dreams in which I was happily among my family folks, so real in my dream. But the line “But I have promises to keep, miles to go before I sleep” came up when I thought of my daughter’s summer school and my son’s summer job and my job responsibility.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
by Robert Frost

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of the easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

True, we all have promises and responsibilities to take care of before our eternal sleep under the long green grass. Still, I don’t think I can bring myself to like this poem. The poem makes promise-keeping as something that prevents us from enjoying the nature and whatever we want to enjoy. What a party-pooper. Now I hate this poem even more than before. So gloomy and unpleasant!



Parent Likes to Criticize Children — Old Habit Dies Hard


We were invited to a friend’s house today, a pleasant occasion or should be one. But, as it happened before, the other adult in our household made efforts to dampen any pleasantness the occasion was expected to bring. How? By making unfavorable comparison between our child and that of the host’s this way — “See other child is so good. You should be like her. …”

This is an ancient problem with this adult. To be sure, each child is unique and they all need to be treated with due respect and be accepted as what they are instead of telling them to be what they are not. Making unfavorable comparison tends to make the child feel less worthy than others. Even worse is doing it in front of everybody as if the child had no self-respect. Sometimes, when the other adult is hooked in a criticizing mood, nothing can stop him from condemning his own child. A damaging and perverted parenting, which some Chinese parents are so good at. It is not funny when you have made efforts to build up a child’s self-esteem and self-respect, someone comes along to destruct them.

A promise will have to be extracted from this adult before any future gatherings. Good luck to all.
P.S. I have talked with the other adult on this issue and have reached an agreement not to let it happen again.



Fun Ways to Enjoy Your Saturday As a Parent


There are so many fun ways to pass a relaxing Saturday — either stay home, doing nothing but lying lazily somewhere and reading a book for my entertainment or commitment or go to a bookstore and find a comfortable corner with a book in hand, nice and cool, no cooking no cleaning, no back-breaking or leg-hurting.

But I chose to do something else — doing laundry first thing in the morning, then to art class, two of them, till 1 PM; then to Toon Shop to find a violin teacher for my daughter, then to her friend, cleaning the house, grocery shopping, attending garden need. Away from my comfortable couch for the whole not-so-relaxing day, still I am happy to be able to spend the day this way.

While driving my daughter around the town, I thought of two of my friends who have four children. One of them, being close to my house, has three girls and a boy. She takes her first two girls to their violin and piano lessons, figure-skating and tennis practice. As it is with one child, I already feel a bit overwhelmed with her activities. I cannot see myself taking care of the needs of four children. It takes tremendous courage to take on such huge responsibilities. I reserve the highest compliments for these mothers. I have zero complaints when I think of these great mothers. Thus happily ended an exhausted Saturday.



Graduation, Work, Initiative, and College Debts


May is the wonderful month of graduation — wonderful that is when you are able to move from deep-in-debt college life to a paid employment one. With economy being so sour today, how many college graduates can land on one that enables them to start making payment for their college loans?

That’s why I advise my son to seek a summer internship with some big company, accumulating experience, building up connections, network and everything needed for his big day in May of 2011. He has opportunities to work for others, but he chooses to go on his own –his more risky startup venture.

I talked to him yesterday evening and learned that everybody was excited about the company, including the sponsor who not only provides funding but also tons of legal, financial and professional advice. Also, there is already a preliminary division of labor among the four founding boys. Kind of funny. Everybody wants to make it work, especially the sponsor and two Ph.D elders whose age are 1.5 times that of his. It is so interesting to hear him talk about his activities.

On second thought, one step back, if it did not work out, this summer venture will be at least a good learning experience for my son. It is also inspiring and encouraging to my daughter, who always looks up to her big brother. Plus, being young, one can always afford to venture; if lose, come back, strong and experienced, hopefully.

While I look for security, he for risk. Make sense considering our age difference. It would be really scary if he was out for safety net and I for adventure.



Venture, Startup, Summer Job and Beyond


My son’s summer job involves his newly-incorporated startup with an MIT Ph.D holder, an MIT Ph.D candidate, and his high school friend. He is the youngest of the four. They were strong enough to get funding for the summer. Right now everything is just an idea, without any product and nothing being able to bring in revenue.

Being initially his idea, my son has always wanted to have his own company. He worked on something during high school years. For this one, he has worked very hard and was excited when it got funding. I don’t know anything about starting up your own company and I do hope they are keenly aware of the fact that they need to generate something so that they can go beyond this summer. There are so many tons of things that they urgently need to take care of this summer in order to keep the startup afloat for the long, long time to come.

Now my mind is jammed with too many what-ifs, self-invited headache, and I can do nothing but wishing everything goes well with it. What a good feeling!



China, Inc. A Must for Anyone who Looks for a Future, Part 2


I talked to my son about book China, Inc. He promised he would read it when he got a moment. I hope he had more moments for books.

There is one small section on “Reverse Colonialism: How Sweet It Is.” To be sure, the author talks about intellectual property piracy, with a rare understanding and sympathy.

“China’s vast counterfeiting schemes act on the rest of the world the way colonial armies once did, invading deep into the economies of their victims, expropriating their most valued assets, and in so doing, undermining their victims’ ability to counter.”

“But should China be blamed for behavior that robs the rest of the world of wealth it has spent generations accumulating? Perhaps. Yet perhaps the rest of the world also needs to examine itself. China is merely acting as other nations do when presented with the chance to increase their wealth and power.” p. 252

Indeed, when western invaders had their wild and profitable way in China back a century ago, observing no rule of fairness and justice, now China returns by the same no-rule-observing practice, defying any rule set for them by their former invaders, returning honey with honey when opportunity is given. Nothing is sweeter than this.

Now, understand, with sympathy?



College Major and Deviation from Traditional Concept


Yesterday morning my son left home with his high school friend, driving their big vehicle. My worrying mind has followed them all the way to Atlanta, Georgia. Thank God they reached there in the evening, safe and sound.

During evening walk with my daughter, she said she missed her brother but she chose not to think about it. I told her the only thing she could do was to do something that could make her brother smile, like getting good grades and some other achievements. For some reason, she plans to take private violin lessons. Fine as long as she practises it.

While my son was home, short as it was, we had no time going out for a walk as we did before but we did talk about many things. I am always amazed by how young people think these days and how they are different from the way people of our generation do.

When we talked about college majors, I thought it very good to go into healthcare, as there was a perceived demand for such job and it promises high job security. But my son said it had very limited pay potential, even if you were a doctor. Indeed, it is true a MD has little chance of ever breaking its ceiling to reach even half a million. He would not get into any profession with a limited income. I never thought it this way.

Every time I talk to him about his occupation, he always gives me the feeling that life is so exciting and full of opportunities, with the sky being the limit. There is always something new and fresh, out-of-box thinking, vastly different from the way I think. He must be characteristic of his generation and I of my generation. We are intriguely different from each other. Because of educational background or cultural difference or different parenting? It is too interesting to be dwelled upon in detail now, something for me to think about later when I have more time.



Work and Sanity — Try Not to be Funny in a Nasty Way


I am not sure if I have written anything regarding this experience, but something happened last Thursday reminded me of this experience again and I felt a strong urge to possibly re-write it, even if I might have written on this before.

The monitor wanted to see a document which was requested over two years ago, even before I came into the team and I had no idea if that document was ready for monitoring. Plus patient’s record was not immediately available since patient expired two years ago and her records was sent to storage.

So I went to ask the person who should be responsible for this patient. That person, immediately sensing something went wrong, yelled at me for not having patient’s record ready for the monitor, her eyes like a pair of daggers out of a honey jar. I did not utter a sound. I just shut my eyes for I saw what I had witnessed during Halloween night when I suddenly opened the door and in rushed a vampire with bloody distorted vampire fangs, sweet and threatening, ready for action. I felt strongly about knocking out that fang pair. To be sure, she did much more than what I describe here. She also called the project manager spitting out more words unsuitable for any gentle ears. How I wish I could erase this miserable experience from my memory!

Number one, the monitor did not request this patient’s record in her pre-visit letter. I normally do not request chart to be retrieved from storage if monitors do not request it as it cost something extra for the retrieval.

Number two, this is not my patient and I have no idea what have been done in this regard. Remember I was not even there during her last visit 2 years ago.

Number three, I dislike strongly to be yelled at, just as an innocent baby hates to be inhumanely treated or being unreasonably kicked. One thing I find it extremely hard to stand is hearing f word throwing in the air all the time. I just take for granted that I work with an extremely mentally and psychologically perverted patient everyday. No other explanations. Honestly, I avoid this person as much as I can. Not that I am afraid of anyone, but that I value myself too much to allow my mind and spirit to be polluted by such a unworthy patient.

I used to think there is inconsistency in some people’s behavior — nice some day and nasty some other days, probably influenced by the hormone fluctuation, beyond personal control. Now, I announce that consistency does exist, that is, consistently mean and nasty, obnoxious and hostile, as if a lethal fluid running non-stop in that person’s blood. Yes, have you heard of non-stop infusion? Here it is.

Shut your eyes and imagine how it is felt to be biten by a mad dog. It is okay to be thus biten, considering it is of a different species, but the sad part is we humans never bite back in the same manner, do we? One has to remain funny in a mean way, if necessary, just to stay sane and sound, and not away from one’s principles. Honest, it is hard to be around such species everyday! Had I have a choice, I would stay away from mad dogs. I simply want to avoid being bitten by a dog. Blame me for being too civilized.

Yes, you can see I am not in a good mood when I think of this event. Hopefully I can forget it after this posting and start enjoy this sunny day.

PS. 5/19, I couldn’t believe I was in such a mean spirit. Well, if it is how I felt at that moment, as always, let truth stands as it is.



Another Busy Weekend Rushed by


This is an unusually busy weekend for all of us. My daughter only went to the art class on Saturday morning and did not go to skating lesson in the afternoon because she wanted to go to the airport to meet her brother. My son came back yesterday afternoon, around 1 PM. His big cousin came back from China last weekend. The other adult in the house went to get him back from his school.

While he was at school, my son was always busy. Now that he is home, we got a lot to catch up, bombarding him with all sorts of questions on his summer job, his friends, his school work, and his life at school. We went to China Buffet for dinner, five of us. After that, my son went out for a movie with a few boys from his former high school. That was yesterday.

Today he went to lunch with a few girls that he used to hang out with. The other adult sent the cousin back to central missu. Meanwhile, I took my daughter to skate. After that, I started packing for son, getting ready for his trip tomorrow. I prepared some carrots, celeries, and other fruits so that they will not feel sleepy on the way. He will drive to Atlanta, Georgia early tomorrow with his friend, where they will start their summer job. My daughter and her brother watched a movie together till late at night, way after I have gone to bed.

So glad to see him back, even if only for one and a half day. Man got to do what he got to do, regardless of what.



Reading, Writing, Gardening, Fun Activities Everyday


Last Friday evening my daughter skated till 10 PM, starting 5 PM. I was waiting outside the rink, feeling very cold. I had a very interesting conversation with a Chinese mom there. We found that our educational and career backgrounds were very much similar – both have had PhD, then switched to computer programming, then to something else – a full testimonial to the same degree of diligence that we both share.

She also has two children, older one being younger than my younger one, raised all by herself. She asked me what I did for fun everyday. Good question. My mind ran like a crazy rabbit, searching through my daily activities for anything that can be considered fun. I mentioned reading, writing, and gardening, which, I am sure, don’t seem like fun to her, since she is a very sociable person and likes to be around people. Also, my kind of fun seems so fruitless. I just realize that things that brings me joy really do not involved any real human beings.

This ties back to the distinction between introvert and extrovert persons and also to the value of reading and writing. Reading and writing are activities of mind, really with no practical value. But for those who care about their minds, reading enriches it and writing keeps it sharp and active. As a mode of communication, writing also relates ourselves to others, engaging dialogues, imaginative or intellectual, with readers.

Of course, writings also serve as an apology, as I am doing it now for my fun activity.



Assumption, Perception, Prejudice and Authenticity


We had a very interesting workshop on leadership yesterday afternoon. During our last meeting, we were given 5 leadership ability pre-assessment forms. I gave one to my manager and three to co-workers, keeping one for my self-assessment. It is supposed to be anonymous. They sent the completed forms directly to XYZ, the person in charge of the workshop.

To my surprise, XYZ gave back to us the results together with the complete forms. I could tell who did what even if their names were absent, their handwritings easily betrayed them. Some people stared at the results, utterly speechless. The discrepancy between their own and those of others must be shockingly and disturbingly huge.

The assessment rating goes from 1 to 4, with 1 being very weak and 4 the other extreme. I ranked my leadership ability mostly 4 and 3, very few 2s, and never weak on anything. Big ego, right?

But the one with whom I work closely everyday gave me either 1 or 2, mostly 1, absolutely no 3 and 4, which means, I am weak on almost everything and strong on nothing. I feel like out and out happy-go-around good-for-nothing. A blissfully happy idiot.

I shared it with my daughter, who said it was insulting to give this rating. To be sure, none of these assessments are free from bias, including that of my own. They are all rather subjective . There is no point to argue about the truth or authenticity. The amusing part is seeing the vast difference between perception of mine and that of this co-worker, though I don’t care even to know why they are so different in their perception of me.

If anything, it is a very good exercise. I hope my children could take this type of attitude if, in the future, they faced similar situation. Remain undisturbed no matter what is said of you. What others think of you is not as important as what you actually do. Do the right thing, always.

For me, I am more amused than anything else, least disturbed. I wonder if they would give the same assessment if they knew the results would come back to me with their true identity fully revealed. LOL. Another exercise for your imagination.

Happy Friday!
By the way, we have a lucky day today — month 5 times 3 = day 15 and weekday is also 5. What a fun!



My Great American Experience


I was once asked if I owned or worked at a Chinese restaurant. The assumption behind is all Chinese are related to Chinese restaurant. The person who asked this question has never been to college and thus has no way of knowing Asians are over-represented in higher education teaching position. She has not been to any college labs where Asians are the majorities.

When I first arrived in America, Waco, TX to be exact, a kind-hearted Christian lady tried to show me how to eat apples. Indeed, people from Beijing have no idea how to eat apples. Trust me some readers truly believe it. She was such a darling.

Also in Waco, Texas, I had to call a manager to get a meager service from two southern girls. They always made me think of Gone with the Wind. Everything, brain and bread, seems to be gone except their southern pride.

Once I had an interesting conversation with an extremely nice American lady. After that, she thought I was hugely “complimented” when she told me, “You are so Americanized” without asking me if I ever wanted to be Americanized. Nice people like her simply take for granted that every foreigner wants to be Americanized or consider it a bliss to be Americanized. Such assumption is like a sweet dream in a wrong time or rubbing my back where it does not need rubbing.

To be sure, I have been so much blessed by ever meeting people of great heart and kind intention, filling my heart with fuzzy warmth. Still, I would think it takes some intelligence to recognize the intelligence in people. And this intelligence is so sorely missing.



Blessings, Bliss, Joy and Happiness with what You Have


“How are your kids?” a doctor at our clinic asked. “They drive me crazy. How are your boys?” I asked. “They are pain, real pain.” All this reminds me of another co-worker who referred to her children as “headache.” So much for our sweeties! I am sure we parents all have occasions like those. Still, we love our youngsters. Don’t forget to count your blessings for their presence.

Ignorance is bliss. My daughter and I walked yesterday evening and talked about a fictional case, in which a wife is heavily depended on her husband for everything, so much so that the husband is crushed beneath the burden. In case like this, ignorance is a real bliss. Otherwise, the wife will be haunted with a feeling of guilt of her role in his expiration. As the saying goes, where ignorance is bliss, folly is wise. It is indeed a wise saying as long as we are not one of the folly.

My daughter and I often meet one of our neighbors on our evening walk. This neighbor, a stay-home-mom, has three children, the oldest being younger than my son and the youngest older than my daughter, two boys and one girl. The strange thing is she is always seen walking alone. I have never seen any of her children walk with her. “She must be a real loner,” I said to my daughter because she never talks to us even though she is our neighbor. Indeed, no wonder she is never seen together with her children. A light joy.

I became acquainted with a delightful young folk working at Sears electronics department three years ago. He went to Central Missouri for his bachelor degree in mass communication. At that time he told me his job at Sears was a temporary one, that is, before he landed on one that utilized his college education. Now he told me it was rather pathetic that his temporary job became sort of permanent. Then again, he is happy because at least he still has his job when so many people are without.

Indeed, there are so many ways to count our blessings — our health, family, ability to laugh out loud and humor it over, and least of all our job.



One Year Anniversary of Earthquake in Sichuan China


Exactly a year ago today, on May 12, 2008, a spectacularly cataclysmal earthquake hit Beichuan county, Sichuan province, China, dispatching from the earth about 69K lives and devastating thousands of families whose loved ones are here no more. The great number of school children thus passed tragically testified the sad reality of the poor condition of school buildings in that area. To these departed children, this posting is dedicated.
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Mother’s Day Celebrated, Marked and Observed


Yesterday was Mother’s Day. So darling that a day is reserved for mothers! I should be touched. Indeed, I shall be. I called my mother in China only to find her having left home 10 minutes ago to a tourist spot out of town.

My son called just to say Happy Mother’s Day. He will come home next Saturday and leave for Georgia next Sunday, where he will start his summer intern job. The fact he remembers the day is the gift in itself. My daughter gave me two back massages, instead of none, as a special treat on Mother’s Day. What a sweet present. They know the best gift to a mom is to do the right thing, which is enough to make their mom happy.

I spent some time on my plants corner in the house. I had to stop in the middle of it. Too much stress on my back. The rest of the day was spent on some “good-for-nothing” books. I was determined to do less household work in order to observe Mother’s Day.

I wish everyday could be Mother’s Day. I guess fathers would wish everyday be Father’s Day and children wish everyday be children’s day. We should be better than being so self-centered. How about not?



Poems Learned in College


Dedicate to the children and their parents from first generation immigrants.

My heart leaps up
By William Wordsworth

My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky:
So was it when my life began,
So is it now I am a man,
So be it when I shall grow old
Or let me die!

The Child is father of the Man:
And I could wish my days to be
Bound each to each by natural piety.

Dreams
By Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.
Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow.

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.



Explore. Dream. Discover. Children from First Generation Family


About a decade ago, a Chinese colleague of mine told me that his son was at Washington University in St Louis, MO, a very bright boy. The boy wanted to go for biology, but was asked to study computer science. So he did. He moved back to Kansas City upon graduation and got a consultant job as a programmer, and then lived happily ever after.

I had another Chinese colleague back at Sprint whose son graduated from Michigan University in Ann Arbor and back to the beloved Kansas hometown after graduation.

I can understand their need to live closer to their parents and former friends. Yet, still this is quite beyond my humble comprehension when I think of the fact that their parents travelled far away from their homeland, leaving behind their families in China and everything they have grown up with, so dear and familiar, to come to this land separated by more than thousands of miles, so that their children would have a better chance in life and could live to their fullest potential. Now these children chose to hover close by instead of soaring far and high. Well, I might be wrong. They might have found their dream best realized in Kansas. No judgment. Just a bit surprised. Well, also a bit guilty for choosing this topic. After all, live and let live.

Mark Twain once said, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” So inspiring! Did he miss his parents? Just wondering. Enjoy this Spring Saturday, double joy.



Progress in Human Civilization, Tolerance, Acceptance and Co-existence


We know early February of this year Iceland Prime Minister, the 66-year-old Johanna Sigurdardottir, is the first openly lesbian head of government in modern history. Before that, no gay man or woman prime ministers have ever come out of closet, hence the world has no idea if there were any of them.

Who could expect Iowa becomes the first Midwestern state and the third state to legalize same-sex marriage, after two New England states? This is surprising when you expect coastal states to be the bellwether or less provincial to first legalize gay marriage. Or, if it ever happens, it should be one of the more advanced European countries.

What difference does it make to both sides? I am not sure as I have not done any reading on it. Yet, I know it will certainly have impact on the children living in such a household. A lesbian couple gave an account of their effort to find a daycare for their child. I don’t remember where the child came from, though. I only remember when the daycare teacher was asked something like this — suppose the children were asked to talk about his or her family in a group, would you allow my child talk about his family? — the answer is no. “Your child will not join the group. He will sit by himself.” Because legally this child does not have a family defined by law and thus is not allowed to talk nonsense. Talk about discrimination! So fair to the child. This happened in Iowa.

Now, the teacher cannot exclude this child from talking about his version of family, recognized by law at least. Hurray for tolerating diversity. Well, what will happen in reality? I don’t know. And no one can guarantee there will not be another Matthew Shepard or another hate crime. So much for the progress in human civilization, tolerance, mutual acceptance and peaceful co-existence. Dream on.



Random Thoughts on Seeking and Giving Helps


To be sure, we do need some help occasionally at work, but whom to go for help is an art in itself and that gives me some thought about parenting and about how we give help. You got to know the person really well before venturing out. Not fun to figure that out, but a necessary evil.

There are two co-workers that I have heard of. People normally go to one and only one if people have any questions and avoid the other one as best as they can. The other one will surely chew you thoroughly out as soon as you approach her with some questions. Very touchy, irritating, cantankerous, any unpleasant term that you can dig out. You can feel she jumps over you simply at the thought of going to her. The worst part is you never know what she will do next, just to make sure you are having a hell of time.

The puzzle is she is totally unaware of how much she tortures others this way. Her attitude serves as a never-failed mirror, showing people how not to behave like this when we give out help as parents or co-workers. Sometimes, I feel a strong urge to reveal this baby-simple truth to this co-worker — each of us is extremely limited in our ability to help and to make difference in brief span of time on this hugely polluted planet. But I prefer to keep it to myself.

For my children, embrace each opportunity to reach out and help. Well, make sure not to over-reach any boundary that you might bump into.



China, Inc. A Must for Anyone who Looks for a Future


I am recently reading a book called China, Inc.: How the Rise of the Next Superpower Challenges America and the World, by Ted C. Fishman, 2005. The book is about 350 pages long, an international best-seller, informative and entertaining, having been translated into 25 languages. I would think it a must for anyone who is interested in China and wants to know the various factors in the making of China’s rise in economic power, and for people like me who have been aways living outside China and have been out of touch with this land of vastness and light-speed change. In fact, I am going to order an copy for my son.

The author observed China with an eye like a microscope. He often presents the topics by dissecting the changes and evolution of individual cities and companies both in China and in America. His decription of China — her culture, politics, pollution, her huge need for energy and food, daily life, health, and Chinese people — is rendered with detailed facts, warmth, and understanding, of course, never free from bias. I have not done an equally thorough research to verify the facts presented in the book. I am sure there are places where he has over-generalized a particular case.

The author Ted C. Fishman, a graduate of Princeton University, is a veteran journalist and former commodities trader, a leading expert on China and its development as a world power. I am sure there are much more people who are, like this author, very rich in experience with China. Yet, it takes much more to write about your observation and experience. First and foremost, the author is an excellent observer, researcher, and writer.

More on this book later.



Notes on Extrovert or Introvert


During our first leadership workshop last week, we had a fun time talking about different personality type and their characteristics at work. I think it amazingly accurate. Here are some key features.

We were told of four pairs of them:
extravert vs introvert;
sensing vs intuitive;
thinking vs feeling;
judging vs perceiving.

We also read a little of Myers-Briggs type indicator:
People of extrovert type:
tend to talk first;
have many close friends;
don’t read much;
approachable;
enjoy going to meetings or parties;
finding listening more difficult than talking;
need affirmation from co-worker or boss about who you are and how you look.

Introvert type persons:
rehearse first;
enjoy peace and quiet and being alone;
great listener;
being called shy;
like to share;
wish you could get your ideas out more forcefully;
was told to go out more by your parents;
believe talk is cheap.

Extraverts get energy from outside, make decision mainly based on reactions of others while introverts are the opposite. I have a sense that introverts are described as a bit selfish or self-centered, which is so unfair. It is extremely hard to resist the temptation of finding ourselves among these descriptions and then live accordingly.



New Definition of Beauty: Everything True Is Beautiful


The statement came from a high school friend of mine, well, to be exact, from his recent email.
Here’s a true story of love and out-of-love with a fictional name for privacy protection. Beverly and her ex broke for some times, then her ex came back and begged her to go back to The Way We Were like in 1973. Beverly, being a real kind-hearted but dead honest girl, kept saying, “I don’t have it [love] in me. I can’t [go back]. Yes, I loved you, but I don’t have it in me any more. I don’t feel the same. I cannot go back to the way we were. I can’t lie to you about how I feel.” In the end, she remained firm in her stand regardless of the dogged pursuit of her ex. I would appreciate Beverly’s honesty, which is beauty in itself.

I told my daughter to go back to her elementary school, doing volunteer work as the way to give back. It would surely make your old teachers smile. she said, “I’d rather volunteer with Humane Society or Wayward Shelter for lost animals, work with cats and dogs. I don’t work well with little kids.” Surely, they won’t smile back no matter how much you work with them. Still, I let her be. True to herself. A new version of beauty.

All this reminds me of the words of my long-time friend — everything true is beautiful. In other words, untrue = ugly, not exact though. In relationship, friendship, devotion, religious affiliation, communications, the key is true to yourself. Then you are a happy pretty true flower.



A Drinking Mom Has Recovered from Her Drinking Problems


As luck would have it, I found the same Parents magazine 9/2005 issue yesterday while waiting for my daughter. There is an article which is in a way related to Girls’ Night Fun article. It is the story written by a drinking mom about her drinking problem. We all drink, like tea or coffee. Don’t get me wrong. This mom drinks alcohol. Here’s the confession from this loving mom. “I started drinking when I was in high school. Growing up in a tiny rural Iowa, teenagers didn’t have much to do except drive around and guzzle beer … and the highlight of our social life was keg parties. I realized now that’s when my drinking problem began.” She and her husband were hard partiers when they were young. She was smashed thoroughly every night. p. 198

Here are some sober facts:
–24% of American kids live in a home where a parent or another adult is a heavy drinker, in other word, not sober;
–An estimate 5.3 million women in the U.S. drink so much that they put their health, safety, and well-being– and that of their children–at high risk;
–9% of young women, age 18 – 29 drink so much that they are considered alcohol-dependent.
–Women get drunk more quickly than men, nice.
–Even a moderate amount of alcohol has greater health consequence for women than for men;
–If the drinker is a mom, the consequences are even more far-reaching.

One lesson: parents watch out for those girls’ parties and alcohol drinking in the youngsters. A teenager drinking problem can easily carry into her adulthood.

Good news: women tend to be very successful in recovery. This is why her story has a happy ending, that is, she became a new person after going through some programs.



Puff the Magic Dragon and Their Childhood Episodes


Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called honah lee,

Little jackie paper loved that rascal puff,
And brought him strings and sealing wax and other fancy stuff. oh

Together they would travel on a boat with billowed sail
Jackie kept a lookout perched on puffs gigantic tail,

Noble kings and princes would bow wheneer they came,
Pirate ships would lower their flag when puff roared out his name. oh!

A dragon lives forever but not so little boys
Painted wings and giant rings make way for other toys.

One grey night it happened, jackie paper came no more
And puff that mighty dragon, he ceased his fearless roar.

His head was bent in sorrow, green scales fell like rain,
Puff no longer went to play along the cherry lane.

Without his life-long friend, puff could not be brave,
So puff that mighty dragon sadly slipped into his cave. oh!

Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called honah lee.

My son did not want me to sing this song. He said, “I don’t like this song. It makes me sad.” Once we saw an old person, he asked me, 
“What happened to him?” 
“Nothing, he is just old,” said I.
“Why does he get old?” asked he.
“No why. Everybody will get old, someday, if they can live that long,” I explained.
For some time he did not say anything, then he started crying, “I don’t want mommy getting old. I don’t want to get old.”

That was 16 years ago. And I still remember the tears on his fat baby cheeks. I was worried that he was to grow into a very sensitive boy. But then, flashing back to his high school years, I remember he often walked around with a couldn’t-care-less air, without any appearance of that sensitivity. Today, the scene of a group of high school seniors ready for their prom took me back to my son’s graduation party about 2 years ago. I guess when push comes to shove, we all can play tough.

I love telling my daughter this piece of history. On the way from Fort Wayne, Indiana to McLean, Virginia in January 1997, I was driving in a snowy weather, with one arm on the steering wheel, and my daughter, less than 2 years old, grabbed my other arm and laid her head on it, falling asleep, so content and peaceful. I must be really tough at that time, driving all the way like this. Can you imagine that?

Yesterday evening, right after work, I picked up my daughter, got home, grabbed some food, headed for skating place for her 5 PM lesson and did not get home until after 10 PM. Today, we left home for her art lesson, then for skating lesson, got back around 4 PM. In the evening we were off to skate again for the 9 – 11 PM session. I was singing Puff the Magic Dragon on the road to skating. We got to be tough with busy schedule like this.



A Friend of Long Ago and the Underprivileged Children


Not long ago I received, to my pleasant surprise, an email from a friend of mine back to the time when we were in our 20s. We have been separated by vast distance in time and space. Many people come and go in my life, but not this one. It is not only because we used to have a lot in common; more importantly, with the vicissitudes of life, she remains pure as a newborn in her heart, her kind nature only being reinforced with the passing of time.

Though we have embarked on a different path with her devoting herself full-time to the service of God, helping the unfortunates with all her mights and me with this earthly occupation, we have remained unchanged in our own way. The memory of her always reminds me of the pure land of youth and ideals, unburdened with wear and tear, of what we once were, untarnished by any selfish motives.

I shared with my children the photos she sent to remind them of their duty and responsibilities to those underprivileged children.  I am hoping that children growing up here could be aware of other kind of life.  Click the photo nail to view, then click back button to go back.


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