New Year Resolutions — 2017

This is the first draft.

New Year Resolution 2017

Rules for myself:
1. Get up no later than 6:30 in the morning
2. Use Timer as soon as I sit down either reading or writing or on the computer
3. Socializing only on weekend (email, facebook, LinkedIn, wechat)
4. Watch my time, avoid spending too much time on something meaningless.
5. Do not purchase anything other than edibles without the absolute need for it.

Must do daily:
1. Read one joke per day
2. Stretch/swing 5 minutes each morning
3. Walk at least 30 minutes
4. Formulate one exercise and do it once a day

Must do this year:
1. Learn one German song per month
2. Read at least one book per month
3. Memorize one poem per month
4. Write at least one article per month
5. Fasting for one day per week, each Monday.
6. Volunteer maximum two hours per day
7. Learn a new skill, e.g. drawing

Personal Improvement:
1. Hear other people out without interrupting and without jumping to conclusion
2. Try not to raise my voice no matter how upset I might be

To be continued…

You first need to please one person — YOU

I wrote this great piece today. Please go to LinkedIn to leave your comments.

About two weeks ago, we learned that our manager’s husband is very ill. I know her parents have passed away and she doesn’t have any children of her own. So when I think of the coming holiday season, the time of family gathering, I feel like reaching out to her and letting her know that we care, even though she is a rather private person. I shared the idea with a colleague of mine and went out to get her a blank thinking-of-you card.

After I got the card, I typed these words on a piece of paper, printed and pasted it on the card– “… hopefully, knowing that someone cares will help you going through the difficult time in your life….” Both of my colleague and I signed on the card, then I emailed to a colleague at another location, asking her if anyone wanted to sign the card.

This week that colleague of mine wrote to the whole team, “I was wondering what (if anything) the … staff has done for [our manager] in the past around the holidays?” The ideas of sending the boss this or that gift rushed in.

Giving the manager a holiday gift? We have never done anything like this before. I feel uncomfortable doing it simply because she is the boss. No one ever gives me, a rank and file employee, anything on holiday, even though I have more than once gone out of my way to help. It disturbed me even more when I thought of the fact that the team had done nothing when another colleague’s mother passed away. Not that they didn’t know. The double practice brings to my mind words like curry favor with, ingratiating, efforts to please the superior.

Make no mistake that we all start our lives trying to please others like our parents so that we can be taken good care of when we are too small to survive on our own. I remember clearly that I was so eager to make my parents happy by trying to do well at school, even though I seldom did well there. Also years ago when I got back from office, the first words that my son shouted out to me through the door were like this, “Mom, I got another 100!” I was very pleased that he cared so much to please me. But still I keep telling my children that I am pleased as long as they are pleased with themselves.

As we grow into adulthood, we realize that we have our own journey to cover, and our own dreams and passion to fulfill and to follow. Pleasing others is no longer the priority because we no longer latch on other’s pleasure for our happiness. We create our own happiness through our own accomplishments and attainments. In adulthood, it is crucial that we understand that we need to please ourselves first if we want to please others. If you are not happy with yourself, it is difficult to make others happy.

Of course, I am not naive to the point of not knowing modern day politicians. Pleasing voters at any cost is just the means to their end. Their end is winning the election. Winning makes them happy. Perhaps, gift-giving to one’s boss alone is also a means to an end, ulterior or not.

Doing what you preach: teaching local Chinese kids, making Xmas ornaments…

I went to Blue Valley library today to teach a group of Chinese kids making Christmas ornaments, like the ones I posted on 11/17/2016. I remember the words that I kept telling my children when they were small, if you are smart and want to mean something to others, do one thing — help others. Whatever you know, whatever you have means nothing to others, if you don’t share with others, if you are selfish… I am glad that I have lived up to what I once preached, exemplify the virtue that I want my children to possess.

I only hope the children were teenagers or little ones with their parents around helping them. It took too long to get anything across with the little ones. I don’t think I have achieved what I had planned. I wish I have the virtue of patience. I’d like to work with teenagers, sharing with them both skills and ideas. But I guess by teenage years, kids feel like above doing things like this. They might not like listening to adults at all. That’s life.

Christmas for the needy families

Our clinic participates in adopting a needy family during this holiday season. Below are the items that they need. It gives me a sad feeling when I go through the list. I think of my children and miserable I would be if I wasn’t able to provide them with what they needed when they were small.

Mom Age 32
· Wears size M Shirt
· Wears 12/13 Pants
· Wears Shoes size 9
· Coat Size Large
daughter Age 12
· Wears size L Shirt
· Wears 14 youth pants
· Wears Shoes size 9
· Favorite Color RED
daughter Age 2
· Wears size 4-5t Shirt
· Wears size 4-5t Pants
· Wears Shoes size 10 Toddlers
· Loves Disney Princesses, Peppa Pig & Mickey Mouse
· Favorite Colors PINK & PURPLE

Items that are needed/requested:
1. Coats
2. Gloves
3. Toddler Bedding
4. Twin Bedding
5. King Bedding (Earth tones/Black/White/Grey Preferred)
6. Sweatpants
7. Underwear (Size 7)
8. Shirts
9. Pants
10. Gift Cards for the Teenager (Target/Walmart/etc.)
11. Toys/Dolls for Toddler (Disney princess preferred)

The season of giving … share the joy of origami with patients, colleagues and all….

I made over 50 of origami ornaments and donated them to our clinic. These will be sold at $4 each and the proceeds from the sale will go to benefit some needy families during the holiday season. I felt like breathing a sigh of relief when I finally handed them over. It’s a few months in the making. I have realized that it takes more time on my part than simply handing out some cash. It’s not that I have more time than money but the fact that I wish to share with people the joy of origami. I am sure the joyful color will bring festivity to the season.

This is one of the reasons that I’d like to involve in teaching teenagers. As the saying goes, many hands make light work. No fear of spoiling the soup.

Happy New Year, 2016! New Year, new you really.

No, I have not forgotten this occasion and the New Year Resolution that we are all supposed to think about.

My son came back on 12/18 and left for NYC on 12/29. As always I had a wonderful time at home spending time with him. We drove to New Orleans on 12/20 and back on 12/24, 5 days and 4 nights. We spent most of the time on the way driving there. Back to Kansas, we took a detour visiting Houston to meet my sister’s son. From there, we drove north, stopped at Dallas.

When my son was home, I mentioned New Year Resolution. Both of my children were a bit skeptical about it, saying we made it and broke it every year. There was really no point of doing it again. I said break resolution does not mean resolution-making itself is a bad thing to do. It only means we have not dutifully followed up with the implement of our resolution. Once again, I believe having a resolution is always better than without.

My New Year Resolution consists of the following sections:
(1) For physical health
(2) For mental health
(3) For career advance
(4) For personal improvement

So, it is time to look back and look forward for a better tomorrow.

New Year Resolution 2015

Since I wrote something about New Year Resolutions, some friends asked if I still write stuff like this, as if we were too old for that trick. I told them, “I do. Every year.” Here’s mine for this year. Good things never retire with age.

1. For brain health: Gain a rudimentary mastery of a new musical instrument–ukulele, one song per month, practice at least one hour per day
2. For finance, start an Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs) trading account in the first month
3. Professionally, publish at least one article in a professional journal
4. Time management, limit online social media time to at most one hour per day on the average to keep in touch with friends.
5. Physically, (a) walk at least 45 minutes every day when weather permits. (b) strength training for at least 30 minutes every day

NOTE: Use timer on number 1 and 4

I cannot guarantee that I will stick to the end my resolutions. But I think it always beneficial to have some goal and some expectations of yourself over time. So far, I am on track for my goal. I will constantly come back to this throughout the year just to check myself. When nobody watches me, I have to rely on self-watching.

New Year Resolution: jump over habits

As I was cleaning last year’s calendar, I bumped into this — “Are you able to actually jump over habits? Are you able to actually work on a bigger scale than you normally think and feel that things seems to be impossible are actually possible?”

I forgot where I got it, but I thought it fit the occasion perfectly, when I was working on New Year Resolution with my daughter and also on my own.

Indeed, jumping over habits is what we need if we want to carry out our resolution for this brand new year.

Why people fail in keeping their New Year’s Resolutions

Here’s another one on New Year Resolution. Here are parts of the article.

Even though “People make resolutions as a way of motivating themselves, … people aren’t ready to change their habits, particularly bad habits, and that accounts for the high failure rate. Another reason is “that people set unrealistic goals and expectations in their resolutions,” which is also called “false hope syndrome.”

“Making resolutions work involves changing behaviors—and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain).”

Finally, the author offers some tips for keeping resolutions.

1. Focus on one resolution, rather several and set realistic, specific goals. Losing weight is not a specific goal. Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be;
2. Don’t wait till New Year’s eve to make resolutions. Make it a year long process, every day;
3. Take small steps. Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too much effort and action all at once;
4. Have an accountability buddy, someone close to you to whom you have to report;
5. Celebrate your success between milestones. Don’t wait the goal to be finally completed;
6. Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns. You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits;
7. Focus on the present. What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal?
8. Be mindful. Become physically, emotionally and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future.

Happy New Year 2015, another year, another new beginning

Happy New Year to all who visit this site today!

I sent my son to the airport yesterday, the New Year’s Eve and today sent my sister’s son back to Houston. Good days passed so fast. It seems really like yesterday when we went to the airport to fetch them back, now to airport again. Of course, I miss them. But I don’t have any complaints, as long as they are good and healthy, no matter where they are.

Now back to what I have in mind during this time of the year: New Year Resolution — something I have never missed so far.

There are many writings on this topic lately. Here’s one. I am surprised to learn that 45 percent of people make New Year’s resolutions every year, and out of them only “8 percent stick with them.” The author offers 5 tips to stick with your resolutions:
(1) FOCUS on one goal at a time
(2) Know what makes it important
(3) Make it tangible avoid sweeping statements
(4) Think BIG but act small (this is an example of sweeping statement)
(5) Never go “off purpose” two days in a row

Good luck!

2014 Holiday season starts here

Ever since my son left for college, it has become the tradition in our household here, that is, the highest point in a year in our family is when children come back home. This moment has come this year.

It starts with my sister’s son’s arrival yesterday, followed by my son’s homecoming today, and my daughter’s tomorrow.

I will stay home with all of them till after New Year. My son will leave at the end of the year. The other boy on New Year. My daughter will stay till the mid January. I am immensely happy.

What a heavenly delight!

Happy Chinese New Year, the year of horse, celebrate Spring Festival all over the world!

Yes, it is today, the beginning of Chinese lunar year, the year of horse.

My son called home to say happy spring festival. My daughter texted it to me. It gives me a warm feeling when the children think of you on occasions like this. Of course, I have received many good wishes from friends all over the states. They are another source of great joys in my life. Now I feel warm in my heart even in this freezing weather.

Like most of Chinese here in America, I work today as it is not an official holiday here. Nothing much to say for that now.

Happy New Year once more…

Happy New Year to all!

The New Year’s Day of 2014 falls on Wednesday, giving me a nice break in the middle of the week. Still I don’t feel as joyful as I should be for this occasion. My head is still full of the sounds and faces of last week.

It seems like yesterday when my house was alive with people and now just three of us. I told my daughter, “How strange it’s like old times before you left for college, just three of us.” Meanwhile, I know clearly it is also very temporary. She will be leaving before I prepare for it.

My daughter has been working on her New Year Resolutions. We have exchanged some ideas on what we will put in our resolutions. I told her exercise was still on top of the list. I am going to add two new items this year. That is, (1) learning something new everyday, be it new words, new skills or a fraction of a new skill, anything that is new to me; (2) challenge myself to see and think differently from myself.

For now, enjoy the snow.

The end of the week, the year, and the beginning of another one…

It is Saturday, 12/28/2013, near the end of the holiday week, the end of my vacation week, and also the end of the year.

The week went by with some parties, gathering with friends and, most of all, time spent with the children.

Now the children are leaving one after another, with one already left on the day after Christmas, one leaving tomorrow, one next Tuesday, and the last one still having two weeks before leaving.

I am so grateful that they all have come and have filled my days with joys and laughter that no occasion can replicate. I am so happy to see them happy and having a good time here.

I have learned to enjoy and appreciate the good times that I spend with the children because I know too well that good times are never long enough and are gone too fast. And all that’s left is the memories of the good times. In fact, I have already started relishing the jokes they cracked at each other. And instead of laughing with them, now I laugh alone.

Now, no more jokes. Get serious, get ready for another new year and another beginning!

Winter is the best season for me…

I often hear people talking about winter gloom or seasonal affective disorder (SAD), that is, when winter brings the blues, with the dark affecting their moods as well as their days.

According to Harvard Medical School newsletter, SAD is one form of depression affecting about 1% to 2% of the population with more women than men being that impacted and more young folks are more than older ones.

There is legitimate reason for people suffering SAD when the days get shorter and we stay indoors and are not exposed to daylight as much as we do during summer season. This lack of sun and light, of course, causes changes in the chemical makeup in our bodies.

The symptoms include “lethargy, loss of interest in once-pleasurable activities, interpersonal problems, irritability, inability to concentrate, and changes in sleeping patterns, appetite, or both.”

For me, on the contrary, winter is the best season. For one thing, nothing stops me from venturing out. For another, as the year end draws near, the climax of the year is coming.

It is the season of joy and festival, all because of the children’s homecoming.

Friday the 13th, can’t wait for the weekend…

I was at the office today, Friday the 13th, supposedly working on something that was piling on my desk. But I kept thinking what I would need to buy after work and what I needed to do this weekend, the last weekend before the children get back home.

I left office at 3 pm today and headed for Costco directly. The store was not as crowded as I expected. I guess not many people are expecting four grown-up children like I am. Good for me!

I brought back some junk foods, nuts and cakes, chips and dips, and some frozen dessert kind of foods. I remember my son and his girlfriend go to bed late, which means they will need to have some snacks late at night.

While I was shopping at the store, for some reason, scenes from my childhood came back, scenes when we were busy preparing for Spring Festival, Chinese guo-nian, the busy atmosphere when my grandmother and my mother were busy with cooking. Of course, shopping was never part of this.

I know this is the meaning of guo-nian for me. This is the eve of my festival when I am expecting and getting ready for the children’s homecoming.

The festival is coming…

Other people call December holiday season. I call it a festival in line with what Chinese people call jie or festival.

I have been in a festive mood ever since I learn of the exact dates when my children will be back. My daughter will be home next Tuesday, my son and his girlfriend next Thursday. My sister’s son will visit us next week, too. The four children will certainly bring home lively laughter and immense amount of joy, boosting the festive mood to the highest level of the year!

I was happily cleaning the rooms, towels and sheets, preparing for their arrival. This weekend I will do some shopping, making sure there are plenty foods and snacks around the house.

Excited and looking forward… I told my son, “I can’t wait…”

Holiday is the homecoming season…

Yesterday, my son emailed me his itinerary for the incoming holiday. I was delighted to learn that he will be home from 12/19 to 12/29/2013, 10 days in all. Last year he came back for 6 days, 12/20-26/2012. My daughter will arrive two days before him.

This year more than any time in the past, I am eagerly looking forward to the joyful holiday season when both of my children will be home and when my house is once again filled with lively laughter. My heart already jumps with warmth and excitement at the thought. My sister’s son will come over, too.

Busy as I am right now as I am getting ready for next Friday’s exam, I still find time thinking and planning for their homecoming.
More later.

Mother’s Day, one of the less expensive holidays

This is what I read a month ago on Mother’s Day. I know it is already one month after that day. Still, I find it interesting to share this one here.

These are the numbers behind Mother’s Day:
–$20.7 billion: The amount Americans will spend this Mother’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation’s Mother’s Day spending survey
–85.4 million: number of Moms in the U.S., according to the latest stats from the United States Census Bureau
–$168.94: The average amount American consumers will spend on mom for Mother’s Day 2013
–$152.52: The average spending last year. This year’s figure is an 11 percent increase.
–3: Mother’s Day’s ranking, after Christmas and Valentine’s Day, in terms of the amount of money spent by U.S. consumers
–14.1: Percent of buyers who plan to purchase electronics as Mother’s Day gifts — the highest percentage in history
–$2.3 billion: Amount expected to be spent on electronics for Mother’s Day, up from last year’s $1.6 billion
–$2.3 billion: Amount expected to be spent on flowers this Mother’s Day
–16,182: Florist establishments nationwide in 2010, according to New York Citizen One
–70,575: Employees at floral shops across the U.S
–28.5: Percent of Americans who will buy their gifts online this year
–25.6: Percent of Americans who bought Mother’s Day gifts online last year
–29.1: Percent of shoppers who will buy Mother’s Day gifts at discount stores
–36: Percent of moms who would prefer to receive something homemade
–24: Percent of daughters who plan to give something homemade
–17: Percent of sons who plan to give something homemade

By the way, my son called on the morning of 5/12, wishing me happy Mother’s Day. This is enough to make my day.

Happy Chinese New Year, the Year of Snake

Happy Chinese New Year Feb 10 2013

2013 New Year Greetings from a friend of mine

2013 New Year greetings
I would not let the first month of the new year runs out without posting this one. The main ideas of the greeting include:

Do whatever good you can, depending on your ability;
Do more charity if you have money, do household work if you don’t;
We may not be corret all the time, but try to avoid being silly. Absolutely do no evil.
Life has its limitation. Enjoy your life within these limitations.

An outline of a New Year Resolution 2013

Before the first month of the new year rolls out, here’s one new year resolution.

(1) Writing:
Publish two articles on professional journals
Keep contributing to the three existing sites
Keep searching for more opportunities

(2) Learn something new
Learn to sing 6 new songs and 12 new poems
I am learning German, so keep doing it
Start a new project, don’t have an idea yet

(3) Health: exercise daily; keep eating healthy food.

(4) No computer for one day in a week, either Saturday or Sunday, except using it for writing. Instead, spend time reading and exercise.

(5) House cleaning once a week.

(6) Get involved in at least one volunteer organization.

Print and hang it up in a visible place. Do a monthly review.
Well, it may look more like a to-do list than a resolution. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. What matters is the will and the determination to complete these tasks.

New Year Resolution: believe it can be done

After I checked with some people, I have learned that top New Year Resolutions include the following.

(1) Healthy lifestyle–exercise and healthy food
(2) Give up bad habit like smoking or drinking
(3) Learn something new
(4) Spend more time with the family
(5) Manage finance
(6) Get organized
(7) Control temper
(8) No more procrastination

My advice to my children:

(1) Never start a new year without setting goals and new standards.
(2) Never give yourself up to cynicism. Nib it in the bud when doubt and cynicism steal in.
(3) Firmly believe that it can be done.
(4) Be realistic in your resolution.
(5) Come back to your resolution at least once a month throughout the year.
(6) Reward yourself for keeping up with it. Otherwise, double your effort in implementing it.

One last thing on this: it is okay to recycle your resolution in its large picture but make sure to add some unique specifics.

Happy New Year 2013!

Happy new calendar year, the first day of the year 2013!

Even though I tend to get into reflective mood, thinking of so many similar dates that I had in the past, I am determined to enjoy this new day, to start the day right and make it a good beginning for the rest of the year.

I know it is not going to be an easy year for me as my daughter is getting ready to leave for college. I know I still have a great deal to do to get her ready for her life away from home.

I know I have my own new year plan to follow. I know there are many things that demand my time and attention.

Therefore, enjoy the first day and get ready for the many days ahead.

Last day of the year 2012

The end of year 2012.
For some reason, I tend to have bad associations with ending. As far as I can remember, it all started when I was in elementary school. I always felt sad at the end of a semester when we were supposed to leave school and go home.

Perhaps it was because I grew up spending more time outside home than inside. I started with a boarding daycare, followed by a boarding school, where we stayed for 6 days every week.

Until now, the end always brings back that part of memory. Well, I hope my readers have some good associations with the end of the year. At least, the end is always followed by the new.

I hope for all of us, the turn of the year is a moment of reflection — pause for a second, look back, then look forward with a renew energy.

Rejoice as the next day is the New Year.

New year resolution, part II

New Year Resolution of 2013

I am still working on this right now, as this is not the last day of the year yet. As always, my resolution will consists of at least three aspect:

(1) My career/hobby/achievement — I am not going to look around for internal transfer anymore. Instead, I am going to exploit deeply any writing opportunities in my current position. This is going to be my priority. In my spare time, I will continue contributing to both KCStar and PolicyMic.

(2) Exercise.
(3) Something else, like identifying and limiting the time lost on my guilty pleasures, parenting, volunteering, more reaching out, etc.

Things I am not going to include in my resolution:
(1) Lose weight as it is hard to lose it without losing something else.

(2) Learning a new foreign language. I have included it many times before and seldom kept it, so it has become an empty promise. This does not mean I am not going to keep my language learning.

(3) Be nice to this or that. I have made constant efforts trying to be a better me, even though I know it is getting more and more difficult to change oneself as one gets in age. The fact that I am going to leave it out does not mean I will stop trying. It is just something that we all try to do all the time throughout our lives.

New year resolution, part I

Yes, once again, it is this time of the year when the turning of the year forces us to both look back and look forward.

Some people hate to look back as they feel they have not accomplished anything worth a second look.

Some people look back with a feeling of immense pride. Some are filled with a deep regret. Of course, some end up with a mixed feeling.

I never feel completely great when I look back as I always find something missing. I always feel that I could have done this or that or I could make a better use of my time during the past year.

I think no matter how much I have accomplished, I will always feel this way as it might be ingrained in my nature.

For the coming new year resolution, I will add one thing to my list — when I look back at the end of year 2013, I will have something that really makes me proud of myself.

Wish we can be together all the time

Yesterday after we sent my son and his girlfriend to the airport, my daughter and I exchanged very few words as we tried to bear the weight of an unspeakable sadness over his leaving.

I did go to office and she did go to Barnes & Noble’s trying to get something done. On the way back from bookstore in the evening, we talked about her brother and how much we missed him.

I told my daughter that there is a Chinese saying, which goes like this, turning sadness into strength. She certainly understands what it means. This might be the only thing that we can do at this moment.

wish we can be together all the time


End of holiday, back to work, everybody

Alas, good time always rushes by faster than we wish. I still remember how I looked forward to my son’s homecoming and how we drove to the City Market to get his girlfriend back. Now both of them are back to their work in New York. And I, back to my office, after sending them to the airport this morning.

We got up around 4:30 AM this morning, trying to leave the house at 5. We actually left the house at 5:15 and still had enough time to get to the airport. My daughter went back to sleep after we got home and I went to the office.

The year 2012 is also coming to an end in less than a week. I talked to my children about the coming year and their plan the day before, and of course their New Year Resolution, just to keep the house tradition. They all agree it is a good one and should be kept.


Happy holiday season…for all

Today is Christmas. I know I should say “Merry Christmas.” Instead, I am sending out holiday greeting. You never know who is or who is not celebrating Christmas.

It is a happy day for me because my son and his girlfriend are home and I stay home with them. Of course, I stay home because the office closes today.

A friend family invited us to her house. So we plan to go there, even though I have told her that my son will leave early next morning to catch 6 AM flight back to New York and we cannot stay there for long.

I am going to enjoy my good time while the time is great.

Sending holiday greetings to two of my colleagues

On Monday I sent Christmas greetings to two of my colleagues at another site. To one of them I owed her an answer. To another, I owed her a thankyou letter.

One of them once asked me over the phone what I ate to keep myself in shape. She is one of my favorite colleagues, so I promised her that I would write to you in detail. That was about two months ago. I kept postponing writing to her, though I have not forgot my promise and have been thinking of this. Of course, now is the good time to both keep my promise and send my holiday greetings.

I wrote on my holiday card to her some steps that she can take in order to lose weight and how she should make a feasible plan, say losing one pound per week, and follow it through for a year. She was thrilled when she received my card.

Another colleague is a very nice and helpful one. I never hesitate to contact her if I have a question. She is so nice that I wish there is a medal for her. Of course, she was surprised when she received my thankyou+holiday greeting card.

I know holiday is for family reunion. As I look forward to my son’s homecoming, I thought I could add a little joy to someone nice, someone whom we are lucky enough to have met on our life journey.

Before Thanksgiving, office chat about Black Friday shopping

Normally I don’t get involved in conversation about shopping, but not this time. As my desktop pc is broken and my son is not home to fix it, and my 13 inch screen laptop seems too small for my eye, I am considering a large screen laptop.

I would like to have an 18.4 inch laptop, but the price is too formidable, around $2000. So I decided to go for the next biggest screen, 17.3 inch, under $500 Black Friday price. The reason I give myself for this expense is I will do more writing from now on. And I will do so at home instead of using office computer.

My colleague bought a MacBook Pro laptop for herself not long ago. She suggested that I go for a Mac. I told her I also bought a 13-inch Mac Air for my daughter because her Mac was broken, but I was not going to buy one for me. The 17-inch MacBook is also around $2000. I don’t have a good excuse for this luxury for myself.

With this new large screen laptop, I must work hard to make it worthwhile.

Black Friday, crazy shopping season started

Back to work today after four days Thanksgiving break.

Yesterday evening we watched evening news over dinner table. Holiday shopping frenzy has been top news for the past few days. We watched people crowded in the store with cartload of goods as if things were given out free. It is so crazy.

I don’t understand why people have to shop so much for the holiday. Do people need all these stuffs? For the record, Christmas present exchange is not a tradition in my household.

I stand firm against this materialistic part of American culture. There are too many wants in people’s life. Most people here shop not because they need but because of their endless wants.

Day after Thanksgiving see the holiday season shopping and giving…

Time to go home on September 9th

The song expresses the feeling of those who venture out of their hometown, seeking fortunes or a better life and how they miss their home and loved ones, especially on 9/9. Today people are supposed to get together with their relatives at home, yet they are still on the road…

Both of my children have a full taste of the song via me. Poor kids. The first time I heard this song was in Fairfax, Virginia in 1997 when we attended a huge Chinese gathering. I am wondering how I can remember the song so clearly.

Happy 4th of July, celebrating a day off

It is Wednesday and it is a day off work because it is 4th of July. A few days ago, a friend of mine asked us to go to her house today, but I called her yesterday to cancel it as it is terribly hot today.

My sister’s son in Houston told me last week that those Chinese who had been in the country for a long time had still not assimilated into the mainstream American culture. He went to some gatherings there and found no Americans in these Chinese gatherings.

He said he cared about being accepted by others and by the society. I didn’t try to persuade or argue with him. I think it takes time for him to be mature enough not to care how others think about him or whether or not he is being accepted by American society when he should concentrate on following his own path regardless of what others think. One can argue that the whole purpose of coming to America is the freedom to follow your own path, regardless of the environment.

For me, I am going to enjoy my day off today. I am happy as long as I accept myself.

Celebrating International Children’s Day

I have so many fond memories associated with this holiday — childhood, carefree, roaming around in summer. They come back every year on this date. The above song is one of them. This was during my elementary school years, we sang this song on June first International Children’s Day.  And we sang it while we were in a boat! I don’t remember the detail, but I do miss the complete joy that I had at that time. Alas, it’s been half a century since then.

Happy International Children’s Day to all children!

Celebrating International Women’s Day, A Long Way to Go

The recent national debate on contraceptive and the ranting with extreme language by Rush Limbaugh against Sandra Fluke, a student representative serve to remind us that women still have a long way to go before achieving full equal treatment.

Whether it is contraception or abortion, the burden always rests on women, as if there were consequence only for women and nothing at all for men, as if only women need to act responsibly but not men. That partially explains why there are so many single-parent families headed by women, and so many of this type living in poverty.

The assumption behind this belief is erroneous at best, pernicious at worst. It calls for awakening of more women and their continuing fight for more gender equality.

A New Year Resolution from Office

On 1/10/2012, I saw this New Year Resolution at our clinic. I thought it funny, though it suffers from lack of specification. I add my comments in brackets.

(1) Lose weight (how many pounds)
(2) Exercise more (how much more, 3 times per week?)
(3) Drink more water (how many cups?)
(4) Quit smoking
(5) Go to bed earlier (how earlier?)
(6) Pay off credit cards
(7) Phone mom (how frequent)
(8) Remember birthdays (nice thought)

Happy Chinese New Year, the Year of Dragon

Yesterday was the first day of the dragon year. I went to work as usual without expecting anything out of ordinary. We had a site initiation meeting at another location. So I didn’t get to my office until 10 AM.

The first email came from a friend of mine from another clinic, wishing me happy new year and asking me how I would celebrate it. It simply warmed my heart when I heard from a friend whom I have not contacted for a long time. I also felt guilty when I thought how often I fail to remember friends especially during holidays. We had a few email exchanges like old friends, though it has been a long time since our last exchange.

In the evening, two friends called, making the day more like a festival. I let myself indulged in a chatting mood. Later, a friend came over for the same purpose, with some gifts. I was simply speechless, feeling even more unworthy.

Now, I truly feel that no festival is complete without a bunch of friends, who are thinking of you and sending you good wishes, just as a good friend of mine said “Good friends are like stars. You don’t always see them, but you know they are always there.”

When the Children Come Back Home…

This is from a friend of mine back in Ohio years. Here’s my translation.
“My heart is filled with joy when the festival is drawing near and the days are full of parties, with year end bonus, colorful gift box, and the children coming home. I feel nothing but content and grateful when we all sit around for family dinner, when we play ping-pong or games, when I hear children’s footsteps going up and down the stairs or their laughter in their chasing around…, even though everything is pretty much the same as last year.”

Now when my son and his girl friend came back, I feel exactly the same simple content and pure gratitude that she feels over her children’s return.

New Year, New You and Me

Another New Year kicks in with another new resolution, nothing dramatic any more. Yes, we have this brand new resolution because we always want to be a better person today than we were yesterday, last year, last decade, which is only yesterday.

I keep New Year Resolution short and lean not because it is not important but because it comes so quickly that I feel it happened only yesterday when I wrote one for last year and the year before last.

Still, I try to treat it as an epoch-making event at least in my life for this time of the year, the time point to reflect upon the road thus covered and the path ahead. I know it is important as long as I treat it as such and will act upon it.

Both of my children have worked out their resolutions for the new year. Instead of going through the motion of writing, I have noticed that it has become a thought-provoking process for them as they become mature. I have no doubt that they will greatly benefit from it after they have learned to be responsible for the promises they make to themselves.

Count Our Blessings Today and Always

Be Thankful: The Week Before Thanksgiving

On 11/17/2010, last Wednesday, nearly one week before Thanksgiving, I started the day at SW clinic at 6:30 AM and ended at SM one. I had to stay late in the office trying to wrap up many things as I would not go back to SM until after Thanksgiving week. I needed to go to our west clinic on Thursday and SW clinic on Friday and off the whole Thanksgiving week. Anyway, the day seemed long and tiresome. I had to drag my feet out of the office.

When I drove back home, an uncomfortable feeling crept up as it was gloomily dark and cold and wet with rain. The thought of a warmly-lit home was very attractive. On the way back I noticed some construction workers still hard at work on the highway, under this weather condition.

The sight of these people brought immediate relief to whatever uncomfortable feeling that I might have at the moment. I bet they would rather be in my shoes in this early winter evening. I remember a Chinese couple living 5 blocks from our house don’t return home until after 10 PM everyday for over a decade, the husband working at a Chinese restaurant and the wife at a grocery store. Sometimes, it takes some comparison to be thankful and to realize how blessed we are.

Ten Things We Are Thankful on this Thanksgiving Day

I sent this picture to a colleague of mine, challenging her to come up with 10 things that she is thankful. She is a cheerful soul, a joy to be around. I wanted to know how she can keep her cheerful mood all the time. She replied, “Yes, I can think of more than ten — My family, Freedom, Home, Food, Car, Job, Health, Co-workers, Friends, Clean water to drink, Paved roads, Air we breath, Electricity, Gas, Oil, Schools, Electronics, Astronauts, Military”

I am so glad I have asked. So I learn her ingredients of being happy and cheerful. Indeed, there are so many things that we take for granted in our daily life and seldom count our blessings for their presence.

A friend of mine at work sent me this list, “Family, Friends, Communication, Laughter, Memory, my home, animals, technology, transportation, love.” Here are mine, “family, friends, my health, wisdom, maturity, intellectual power, and ability to articulate intelligently, ability to lift up spirit for others when needed, and the mood and ability to appreciate the beauty of this world.” In fact, we will have a gathering with a family friend this weekend.

Thanksgiving allows us the time to stop, reflect and be grateful for all that we have. Hopefully, we can do this exercise more often so that we will be more content with what we have instead of longing for more and more, especially in the month following Thanksgiving.

PS. I am thankful for my daughter. Very often, when everybody, except me, is at the table over some delicious food, my daughter always calls out, “Mom, come and eat.”

Mid-Autumn Festival in America

This is the 25th moon cake festival that I spent in America, of course away from my family in Beijing. There are tens of thousands of Chinese here in America, who are like me, doing whatever entertaining for ourselves on this day. Good thing the festival of this year falls on a weekend.

We have invited a Chinese family, whom we have known back in Ohio in 1993, for a dumpling get-together. They bring moon cakes and we prepare some dishes; their eldest one is the same age as my youngest one. Both of them go to volunteer at the same community service center on Saturday morning. My friend in New York told me they would have a little party today with the girl that both of us know of.

My daughter called her brother, giving him good wishes on moon cake day. He was in a meeting.

I am sure most of us once in a while feel the same way as the poem very well describes. Yet, as thousands of our country folks here, we are so resilient and we can always create a home away from home and enjoy each other’s company on occasions like this.

Happy 2009 Chinese New Year — the Year of Ox

Today is Chinese New Year. The little nephew asked me to do something special on this day. He must be thinking of the Spring Festival in China. “Not a holiday not in US. We only have day off on holidays defined here, like Thanksgiving, Xmas, US Labor Day, US National Day, etc. We have to do in Rome as Romans do.” I explained to him. My children all grew up here without experiencing any Spring Festival celebrations, a part of Chinese culture that they had missed.

In fact, the bi-cultural children miss more than this. We do not celebrate the traditional holidays that average Americans entertain, like Thanksgiving and Xmas, even though we have day off on these occasions. Yet we cannot celebrate Chinese holidays when we have to work and kids have to go to school. On the invite-grandparent-to-school day, my children could only see other people’s grandparents but never their own. My daughter used to ask me for grandparents. “They are all in China, if they are still alive.” Yes, they grew up with only two parents and no aunts and uncles and grands, so much deprived in term of relatives.

After my son left for college, he made friends with some Asian students there and started enjoying those Chinese holidays there with these friends, having much more fun there than at home. I am glad he is bilingual in term of speaking and listening, which facilitate his interactions with other Chinese at school. It would comfort me a lot if this might compensate to some extent for whatever missed in his childhood at home.

Christmas Gift Suggestions

Call me hopelessly optimistic or idealistic if you will.  How I hate myself for sounding so corny.  Besides, my memory might fail me occasionally when I quote from that part of my brain.  Still, I cannot help sharing this Christmas gift suggestions with the readers. 
To your enemy, your forgiveness.
To an opponent, your tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, your service.
To all, your charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect. 
             -Oren Arnold

To my readers, much more than the sum of all the above…

Holiday Season and Expression of Good Wish

It is holiday season now with talks about presents and shopping all the time in the office. Although I do not go with the flow, I am not a party-pooper either.  Plus, I would not want to miss this chance to express good wishes.

Therefore, I gave some Xmas colors self-made origami products to some people in other department whom I see on daily basis. I distributed a bottle of chocolate candies to those whom I have contact with, not a regular chocolates but a rather deluxe ones.  Not too much but a little gesture.

I have found this practice of giving away a little something since I came to this company. People never give anything big or expensive.  It would make your look like a fool if you give lavishly.

I gave one colleague a Xmas card with a cloisonne-lid mirror, although I doubt if she understands what art it is involved in the making.  I feel like “Do in Rome as Romans do,” on the surface, though.

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