No, I have not forgotten this site. It is not that I don’t have anything to write about, but I simply don’t have the time to put them out.
Yesterday at office, I was listening to something while working on something else. I caught this part,
“Men do not quit playing because they grow old. They grow old because they quit playing.”
It is Friday again. I can’t believe a whole week is passing since my visit to my daughter’s college last Friday. It all seems literally like yesterday! I am not going to sigh and whine about the passing of time. On the contrary, I am so grateful that I had this visit.
Ever since we left my daughter on 8/29/2013, I was occasionally wondering if she ever felt lonely, when she was suddenly separated from the people and place that she has lived with. When I was at her school during this parent weekend, I asked her if she ever for a moment felt bad, lonely or homesick. “No, I miss you but I know why I am here and I’ve been busy with stuffs here.”
I felt a lot better after hearing this. Indeed, in less than two months after she started school here, she has become a lot mature, independent, and are better at self-management. I am not sure if she could have experienced so much change if she stayed close-by, like in our state university.
We also talked a lot of college transfer. She wants to go for something better than her current school. I admire her courage to move out of her new-found comfort zone and get into an entirely unfamiliar environment. If she is so determined to challenge herself, I am totally behind her.
To my delight and comfort, she remains the same sweet little girl. That has not changed.
We did many things on Saturday, had lunch at my daughter’s school, dinner at a Japanese restaurant outside school, played a game of chess at the common room in her dorm, talked about school work, etc. My daughter had some pre-arranged activity at 3 PM. I tried to take a nap at her room while she was at this activity.
My flight back home was at 5:45 AM on Sunday. I needed to head out really early that morning, giving me enough time to cover the long distance drive, to recover in case I got lost on the way, to fill up gas and to return rental car, etc.
So I didn’t book a hotel for Saturday evening. Instead, I spent that part of evening at my daughter’s dorm. She set alarm at 3 AM and planned to go out to my car and watch me drive away. I wasn’t able to really fall asleep. So I got up at 2, got things ready, and planned to leave at 2:30.
She woke up at the noise. I told her I was leaving and she’d better not get up and see me off. She wanted to get up but I insisted on her stay in bed. She gave me a big hug and would not let me go, saying “Mommy, be safe, love you.”
Quietly, I left her dorm and went to the car. As I drove in dark at this early dark hours, I was overwhelmed by an unspeakable feeling of sadness, totally different from the way I felt when I drove to her school on Friday. I tried hard to focus on driving, still rather disturbed by this sad feeling. I still feel sad when I think of that early morning. I wish I could stay longer at my daughter’s place, but I know she still has work to do and she can get more things done this way.
By the time I reached the rental car return gate, it was 3:40 AM. The place did not open until 4 AM.
I left KS on Friday morning at 6 AM, 10/8/2013, made a transfer at Cleveland, Ohio, arrived in Hartford, CT at 3 PM, picked up a rental car and drove for my daughter’s college. It was nearly 4 PM when I finally made it there.
Both of us were excited and very delighted. She took me to her dorm, where we sat and chatted and put things in places. Then we drove to the mall to do some shopping and to have dinner. She had a work schedule on Friday evening. At first I didn’t ask her to find a substitute for that shift. I thought I could sit around and wait for her. Later we thought it better that she found a substitute that evening. Luckily she found one at the last moment when we were at the mall. Still we needed to get back to her school to complete a form.
By the time we decided to head for the hotel from her school, it was nearly 10 PM. I got lost driving in dark and in a strange town. I was not scared because my daughter was with me. We tried to find a convenience store where we could ask for directions.
Finally, we found one but the guy there was no help at all. As luck would have it, there was a kind-hearted customer who offered to help us. He drove slowly and we followed his truck. After a few twists and turns, he led us to the front of the hotel. We offered to pay for his service, he would not accept.
Both of us were tired and had no other thought than heading for the bed. It was a long and exciting day for me.
Thought of the day.
When you are waiting for something to happen, you practically pin your hope on the whims of others, like job hunting which depends on the hiring manager who will turn you down simply because she doesn’t like you.
Having others control your life is too risky and unreliable.
Try to have some control over your own life, and try not to subject your happiness to the whims of others.
Most importantly, don’t wait for things to happen. Make it happen.
Severe sleep deprivation kills. On 8/21/2013, I read a sad piece of news about the death of a 21-year-old intern. Bank intern’s death spotlights workaholic culture. I personally know some people working at the IBD of a top investment bank. They throw in more than two third of the day to their work. This is definitely not life but torture or even suicide.
“The 21-year-old German intern allegedly worked for 72 hours without sleep for the Bank of America’s investment banking division in London before he was found dead.
Moritz Erhardt, 21, who died while working as an intern for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s investment bank division in London.
LONDON — The death of an intern working at the London offices of Bank of America Merrill Lynch has prompted calls for city firms to take more responsibility for the ambitious graduates who push themselves to the limit to secure jobs at the world’s top banks.
Attracted to the glass towers of finance in London, New York and Singapore by the prospect of securing a full-time job and hefty wage, future “masters of the universe” often face 20-hour days in some of the most adrenaline-soaked offices on Earth.
Weekends at work and meals in the office are par for the course with anecdotal reports of the “magic roundabout” where interns get a taxi home after dawn and leave it waiting while they have a quick shower and then return to work.”
A young relative of mine told me a few weeks ago that his girl friend jilted him when she found another one. To say he was upset is too much an understatement. I know whatever I say would not alleviate the pain that he has to endure.
With experience like this, people are very much tempted to have negative thoughts toward the other party or even toward people in general.
I am sure there are mountains of writings on this subject. After covering over a half century’s life journey, I have come to terms with some of realities in life that are beyond my control.
First of all, sometimes people make decisions based on their feelings, sometimes on other matters. No matter what justification that they can think out, it’s their decision. Live and let live.
Secondly, you are judged not by how other people treat you but how you treat others. Be kind, always.
I read this article —A Question That Can Change Your Life by Peter Bregman — on August 12, 2013. Again, I was thinking of sharing it here but didn’t have the time. Wait. I might have posted it but I forgot. Still, here it is.
“So here’s the question I’d like to propose you ask yourself throughout your day: What can I do, right now, that would be the most powerful use of this moment? What can I say? What action can I take? What question can I ask? What issue can I bring up? What decision can I make that would have the greatest impact?
Asking these questions — and answering them honestly — is the path to choosing new actions that could bring better outcomes. The hard part is following through on the answers and taking the risks to reap the full benefits of each moment. That takes courage. But it’s also what brings the payoff.”
Woody Allen famously said that 80% of success is showing up. Maybe that’s true. But, if it is, then I’d say the other 20% is the most important. Simply showing up and watching TV on a treadmill — that’s not enough. Your greatest opportunity is to use your time in a way that will garner the most productive return. To take risks that will shake things up.
What can you do, right now, that would be the most powerful use of this moment?“
During last weekend, I bumped into an article that discusses the good and bad of various master degrees. This reminds me of the question that many of my friends asked, “Is your son going to graduate school?” I believe you have to have some good reasons to invest another two years and plenty of money for that gain. I am glad to read this part below.
“Bardaro says there are three good reasons to obtain a master’s degree (not including those required for a given career path).
One is the desire to increase your knowledge in a given field, which includes obtaining new skills not taught in many undergraduate educations;
the second is to make valuable alumni connections that can prove useful in today’s tough job market;
and third, to set yourself apart from those with only a bachelor’s degree.
‘However, more education can sometimes hinder you more than help you with certain job openings. In lean economic times, some companies may prefer the less educated cheaper employee than the more educated more expensive one.'”
Last weekend I spent most of the time preparing for the exam that I am so eager to pass. I set a rule for myself when I am reading or writing at home. I know my energy will be at a low ebb and I will be less efficient if I keep reading for hours without a break. So I use a timer to give myself a 10-minute-break after 30 minutes. By alternating between reading and other activities, I find myself more focused.
Of course, during breaks, I continue the endless task of room cleaning. Last weekend, at one point, I was holding another reading note, taken in 6/2010. It is from Psychology Today. I am not sure if I have ever written anything on this. Here’s a bit of it.
“In the brain, pleasure areas are intimately linked with social areas.”
“Giving others gives us pleasure because it involves in paying attention to the thoughts and emotions of other people.”
Yesterday, my daughter texted me “Mom, I want to start piano lessons again.” I was delighted to hear that.
I told her “It gives me great pleasure to know this. Music gives so much joy to one’s life. I can’t imagine life without it. You know I sing all the time, but not after you left, because it always reminds me of you and that makes me feel sad.”
I remember how in the past she always asked me to sing a song when I was driving or when we were together and how she always praised my singing, which encouraged me to sing more, even though I truly believe it is mostly daughterly bias. The joy of singing has never come back since she left.
Yesterday my son called home, which is always a very delightful event in my life. I learned that he has made some real progress in his start-up project.
I told him, “At this time of my life, my greatest hope is both of you reach your goals… Of course, my greatest joy is to hear good new from you. There is not much for me to achieve, as I am getting old.”
He strongly disagrees. “Don’t say this, mom,” he said. “You can always work and accomplish something. It doesn’t matter how old you are.”
It is so heartening to hear his encouraging words. I need this encouragement as I have heard so many negative feedback so far.
I read this one during this past summer when my daughter was home and I tried to spend some quality time with her while she was home. It was written by Shane Snow, Chief Creative Officer of his company.
1) Systematizing Repeat Tasks –Entrepreneurship, by definition, is the art of creating systems that generate more value for less effort. Startups realize that the opportunity cost of doing mundane tasks adds up quickly, preventing them from doing the high-impact work they have set out to do.
2) Great Storytelling –Those who tell the stories rule the world.”
3) Carving Out “Heads Down” Time — Interruptions eat up a huge amount of the average person’s work time. Great startups have the habit of finding ways to protect their people from needless distractions. And smart managers block off swaths of their calendars for “productivity time.”
4) Split Testing And Iterating — A hallmark of the Lean Startup movement, entrepreneurs are wont to constantly pit two or more approaches against one another and let data inform their decisions. What should the home page call-to-action say? Split test two different sentences and see which gets more clicks. How do I get more people to respond to my emails? Test different subject lines, lengths, and endings like “Thanks for your help in advance” versus “Warm regards.” What kind of outfit makes me look more professional? Try two different styles and keep track of the compliments.
5) Looking For 80/20s — There’s a strange phenomenon in work that almost always holds true: if you examine your life, you’ll often see that only 20% of the things you do account for 80% of the results you get. Being productive and being busy are two different things. If you want to quadruple your productivity, focus on the 20% first, and if you can, cut the other 80% that just makes you busy.
6) Rather Than Planning, Doing — Too many of us have meetings about meetings, and end meetings with lists of follow-up conversations to be had later. But startups, for which every second counts, have a habit of taking on-the-spot action. Instead of promising to email an introduction for you, a startup founder will pull out her phone and write the email while you sit there. Then the issue doesn’t have to take up future brain- or calendar-space.
7) Ditching Meetings… But Taking Every Networking Meeting —Most meetings are worthless. They usually have too many people, who feel obligated to talk because they are there, and they’re almost always too long.
8) Asking “Why” Like A Five-Year-Old –Entrepreneurs aren’t satisfied with the status quo. They ask “why” over and over again until they get to the bottom of things, rather than ascribing superficial blame on people, or worst of all, accepting the explanation, “That’s just the way it is.”
9) Seeing Every “It Can’t Be Done” As An Opportunity–This is the mindset from which innovation springs. To an entrepreneur, convention means average, and impossible means profit potential. People who see the opportunities in the can’ts in their work—and seize them—create positive change, get promoted, and work happier.
When I cleaned my old documents lately, I dug out an email that I sent to a friend of mine on 3/11/1999. I remember she just gave up her teaching job in order to join her husband. She was feeling rather depressed when she couldn’t find another teaching job in her new home. Here’s part of what I wrote to her,
“Glad to talk to you yesterday, though we didn’t finish what we were talking about…
I feel deeply that it’s difficult for us Chinese in America to be happy. We work extremely hard and we are not afraid of hardships. We live comfortably, yet, we are not as happy as we should be and we feel depressed easily. Why? …
1. We never have a sense of home here. It seems any place can be home for us, but we cannot form emotional attachments to any place, no matter how long we live there… People call it ‘sense of rootlessness.’
2. We are cut off from our family, the one we were born into, where we are related by blood and, cut off from an important source of social and emotional support…
3. Because of this, we rely heavily on our small family, the one formed by marriage. This form of family is the weakest one in a sense, the most easily broken one, considering one in two marriages in America ends up in divorce, and thus the least reliable one. We expect greatly from this small family. Yet, no matter how much we try, we still don’t feel happy.
4. Perhaps we can never feel as happy as we wish just from our small family. Perhaps it is still not enough to make us happy when we are so isolated socially and sometimes emotionally… Or perhaps the real happiness is found within each of us, no matter where we are, … and we shouldn’t expect it from outside…”
This friend of mine doesn’t have children. I further told her that “I have two lovely children who are very much attached to me and are the greatest sources of happiness. So I feel completely blessed and happy when I’m with my little ones… I’m not thinking of anything else, just enjoy what I have now. Let future takes care of itself.” I probably shouldn’t tell her this when I already knew how much she longed to have a child.
I ended the email with these words for her–
–We come to this earth to enjoy, not to suffer.
–Enjoy to the fullest what we have today, because we only have one life to live.
–Life is so short that we don’t even have enough time to enjoy. Why waste time feeling depressed.”
I can’t believe I wrote this 14 years ago and I still need to be reminded of these words today! Also, I have found how true these words are from my experience with other Chinese living in America.