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Condensation and Precipitation

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Life has been a whirlwind. It throws surprises, curve balls of all sorts my way. Sometimes these are unpleasant, sometimes, bittersweet and sometimes fantastic. Two Fridays before Thanksgiving, my mom called to tell me she wouldn’t be home for Thanksgiving. She had just purchased an airline ticket to her hometown in China. The next morning, I purchased my own tickets. Why not? I had Thanksgiving week off.

I spent the next four days working on obtaining a last minute visa to China. I looked up how to do it on Saturday, but the time I was done and ready to leave the house, all of the travel agencies were closed. The next day was Sunday. I had planned a hike with a friend. He picked me up before sunrise. We hiked for a short time in the redwoods and then went to a travel agency. The agency said that they could not obtain the visa in so short a time and advised me to do it myself, so I went to my friend’s house and printed out the application, which I spent hours filling out. I took Monday off and went to the Chinese Consulate in San Francisco with my application. I paid an extra $20 to have it rushed Express. Then, I dropped off my receipt with a different travel agency and paid them to pick it up for me in San Francisco so that I would not have to take the following day off. If you’re interested, I learned that visa photos can be obtained at the consulate office for $10. They have two booths there but it’s an amusement park-sized line…. Ok, maybe not that long, but it’s a wait. I got mine at CVS for $16 where there was no line. A clerk who said his parents were also from China but he had never been there helped me. He said he had to work on Thanksgiving. They would be busy because Obama was speaking in San Francisco that week.  I found out from other people also waiting in the DMV line-sized- consulate- line, that at Costco, visa photos can be printed for $9. Spending Monday and Tuesday in traffic to get the application in and then to pick up the visa from the travel agency was worth every minute and every dime because I spent a most unusual spontaneous Thanksgiving vacation meeting up with my brother and mother in China, which we traveled together for the week.

During this last week, I have been thankful for the time with my family. Relatives picked us up from the airport, which was an adventure in itself because the two elderly people could not recall where they had parked their car!

We attended a symposium in honor of Grandfather, the man who taught me how to tie my shoes. There, we learned my aunt and uncle treated us to tour tickets for Xiangxi, Hunan, which we took a train to the following day.

We saw many sights over the week:

Walking on…

  • glass

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  • on ice… I slipped and fell….

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  •  on the world’s first natural bridge

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We walked behind waterfalls..

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and met many robbers

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We saw my mom’s pre-school and elementary school. We met her childhood friends….

  • Saw an exhibit with photos of my grandfather and his manuscripts encased in glass with letters between my grandparents… Heard a concert with music written by Grandfather.IMG_20191129_100548.jpg

 

  • tossed chrysanthemum petals into the Yangtze to honor the spirits of my grandparents whose ashes were scattered in the river. My brother says, “Peace out” as he tosses the petals in his hands. My mother’s cousin, Mom and I kowtow three times.IMG_1873.JPG

 

In the evenings during the week, I found myself thinking about John:

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A friend who passed away in September due to complications from cancer. John wrote and spoke about choice and circumstance. He taught people that we could not control our circumstances but we could control our choices. He said it much more eloquently than I can recall right now. Thinking about John who would talk with me (and many others, as he had a way making people feel special by giving them his precious time) for hours about so many dreams and plans and thinking about my grandfather who is being honored on what would have been his 100th birthday, I wonder to myself if I am playing it small. I check my email and find that one of my co-workers has put in 2-week’s notice and find myself a little envious, but I also know it’s not time for me to move on yet.

The rainfall tonight is like loud rhythmic music on the tin roof of my silver cottage tonight but it isn’t loud enough to drown out so many thoughts about John, my ancestors, family, friends, the future and so many hopes and dreams.

In the evening of our last night in China, my mom rifled through cabinets and found an undiscovered book of manuscripts from my grandfather. The next morning, we ran into the former president of the music conservatory my grandfather helped establish and my mom handed him the notebook to submit to the school.

I think to myself: When was the last time I set time aside from work to work on my own thoughts/ ideas/ creative endeavors? 

When I go shopping for something in mind, I am not usually quickly to grab what I need and go. Instead, I meander and look at different aisles on the way, but maybe it’s okay to be a slow shopper: to buy fifteen items instead of one. Procrastination can be as delightful as reaching the end goal…Can’t it??? The only thing that bothers me is that I forget what I’m shopping for…. What was I doing again? Where are we going again? But aren’t some of the best experiences unplanned?

The sounds of rain is fading a little now. I’ve returned from my trip but I never will quite return.

What did you guys do for your Thanksgiving???

 

Grateful for Drowsy Dreamy Weather

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Today was maybe the third day in a row when Morning shrouded my part of the world in a thick calm  sluggish fog. I felt happy to walk amongst old oaks and mists. I move slow like the crawling mists these days and like the fog, I am gone by noon. Ready to curl up and slumber. I wish I had more energy, but as it is, I am thankful for a hopefully lackadaisical long weekend. Where the fog will lead me this weekend is a mystery, but I am content to loiter and deliberate each imperceptible movement. 

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Happy Veteran’s Day!

A Different Type of Airstream Restoration

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I can’t believe my last post was in June, almost five months ago.

About an hour ago, my cousins arrived to visit me in my latest home. They saw my charming tiny house and said, “You should start a blog!” For the last few months, I’ve been buried in work and drudgery. Their comment was a reminder of the various nicer reasons I moved here.

On that note, maybe I will start a vlog….

It might keep my mind off of work and career goals for a few minutes per day. I had the idea to start one when I first moved here but sort of forgot the idea when I got buried by work. It’s actually made me feel rather down: like life is meaningless and I am a robot just working. Someone from work actually called me last night to say I looked depressed! I had actually been working on my laptop at home on paperwork and did not even remember feeling depressed and told her I was fine. I have been sick lately… Clearly not a robot…. Or maybe I am a robot with a virus. Haha.

So my thought when I first moved here before the s*&% hit the fan, was that I would start a vlog on with daily yoga sequences in my silver cottage I am renting. I even googled “Yoga in an Airstream” to see if anyone had done it yet. There are one or two others who had the idea before me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do a vlog too. My cyber yoga studio…. What will I call it?

Finally! Something exciting to focus on outside of work!

Vlog Name Ideas:

-Silver Cottage Samadhi

-Silver Santosa

-Silver Satya

-Silver Cottage Contentment

-Silver Cottage Connection

-Tiny House Yoga

-Land Yacht Yoga… I think I like this one: The Land Yacht Yoga Studio. I don’t know how long it will last but the uncertainty is part of the phone. Enjoy it for now…the moment.airstream book

I am looking forward to reclaiming my time/ life/ mind a few minutes at a time each day.

What are you looking forward to today?

 

Anticipatory Joy

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According to this video, we’re happiest when we have something to look forward to each day:  whether it be a vacation or a new exercise class you’re trying with a friend…

What do you look forward to today?

Tomorrow?

For me, after spending hours of what seemed like days on the internet looking for places to live (within my limited budget) by the latest job I’ve chosen, Sunday was such a day of anticipated joy.

Sunday came around and I found myself driving through the winding countryside past many parked cars by cherry farms where the city people had come for the weekend to pick the cherries. I was surprised by the crowd the day of sunlight in the cherry farms brought.

But I wasn’t headed to a cherry farm. I was headed to a mini yoga-meditation retreat at a therapeutic horse ranch!  I spent the day with almost a dozen horses and at least twenty fellow yogis/ horse lovers. We watched in awe as the owner of the ranch struck her meditation bowl and it chimed to signal for the horses to join us.

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They heard the chime and they came ambling and running down a hill into the arena where they basked in the attention of their adoring fans. We spent about an hour in the arena as the horses, yoga instructor and the shade of the trees competed for our attention. Then we had breakfast and gathered in a white tent sitting on cushions where we were led in Kundalini meditation with the horses  making horse sounds outside of the tent. Afterwards, we were carted, walked or drove up a hill past a broken windmill and through the gates of a lovely hammock and garden. We gathered in a small studio to be immersed in an hour of a live sound bath of poetic summer solstice themed mantra, crystal singing bowls, gongs, triangles, didgeridoo, rain stick, ocean drum and so many instruments and sounds! Then, it was back down the hill for a catered luncheon with the horses.

For me aside from watching the birds and horses interact, and listening to the talented hosts of the event, one of the most memorable things were the stories and conversations with people. We were informed that these horses were trained therapy horses, so I took notice when the horses wandered to a mother in mourning for her only child. There were many people there in the fields of education, social work and therapy, which I found interesting. I listened raptly at the story of the birth of the last foal on the ranch. There was also the story of a group of former human traffic victims whom had camped and saw life outside a city with the horses for the first time. And the story of how the owners of the ranch had been told they would never be sold the property and then the serendipitous meeting of a stranger at a yard sale who offered them $400,000 for another property nearby so that they could offer their landlord the money to buy the ranch. There were so many friends and strangers whom I met that day out in the countryside… I returned refreshed ready for bends in my road because they remind me of that time in the countryside.

 

Gratitude for Silence, Work, Life, Rhythms and Reading

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It’s Tuesday sitting in a house devoid of human voices. There’s only the sound of ticking clocks in various room and humming appliances in the kitchen. I hear my coffee maker. A single drip of coffee and then silence again. I hear the sound of chirping birds and a passing airplane coming from the outside. It’s the first time I’ve heard these sounds in days even though I’ve been sitting here at this computer typing away at my ambitions all of this time for what seems like days.

Yesterday, I told a friend of mine about one of my latest ambitions. He said, “I’m sorry to say it’s not going to work out.”

I was shocked to hear the words come from the mouth of a friend rather than a parent. To me, it’s a parent’s “job” to be discouraging of ambition because they want you to be safe, but I see no place for a friend to do this. Friends are your peers and they cheer you on. Yes, both generalizations, I know. So, as I do when things bother me, I began to read the research to satisfy my curiosity. How was it that this friend was so lucky as to have a more limited ambitious nature than I do? To be still and content and the same age as me?

This Time article theorizes that perhaps ambition is a genetic trait. It also theorizes that ambition is cultural and driven by anxiety. It provides the example of students in the US with competitive behaviors; and thus, more ambitious than non-competing students in Papua New Guinea where it is necessary to work as a team on the farm. It goes on to generalize that many people living in lower socioeconomic status feel hopeless whereas the wealthy are living in luxury, so it is generally the middle class citizens whom tend to be ambitious because they work to earn more and keep from losing their status.

My conclusion? Here is a house of silent rhythms. Everyone is off to work. Ambition or no ambition, life is still work, but only a few have the privilege to be able to hear (or feel…as some people are deaf) the silent rhythms… The occasional drip from the faucet of the kitchen sink… The passing vehicles on the road outside. Even one’s own breath. The pigeon nesting in the northern tree… The raven’s call from the southwestern rooftop. Whatever valley or mountain we stand on, work and sleep on… Life is passing. Energy comes and goes. Enjoy it as you are. Let it lift the corners of your mouth. Let it moisten your eyes and expand your ribs as your ribs rise and fall with the rhythm.

I hope you will take the time each day to feel and be grateful for little things even if you have a long list of to-do’s. If you’re even more fortunate, I hope you find the time to get some reading done and recommend some books to me. One of the latest books I’ve enjoyed is:

04cc3eca8b2a9c2831ff755129df0124fdf93b17  Reading about happiness and the happiest place on earth makes one feel their happiness! I highly recommend the audio version if you want to hear the charming way all of the Danish words are pronounced, but the print version has a lot of interesting infographics on random things like how many fireplaces Danish homes have in comparison to the UK and how many times in Denmark has been voted “happiest country”.

I could go on with listing excellent books, but the time has come for me to attend to tasks on the outside of the house. I must remember to stop and feel the energy and listen to it today because I am grateful for those moments of silence and wish you many such moments!

 

 

 

On Time

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Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it.

M. Scott Peck

I first heard it would be Qingming Jie (清明节) this week  through various online pen pals in Taiwan. I was grateful to be reminded of the upcoming holiday because holidays are a great “excuse” to connect with family. Yesterday, April 5th, 2019, I spent the entire day with my father. We met up with his siblings (my uncles and aunts) at Memory Slope in the Forest Lawn Cemetery where my grandparents are buried. I looked around at the almost endless hills of gravestones. Most of them had no flowers or any sign that anyone had come to visit for many years. Seeing this, I understood why the Chinese have the tradition to visit their ancestors once a year on this day. I saw the names of the eternal neighbors of my grandparents. A woman named Daisy Abbas was buried on their right and a man named John Murray was buried on their left. Neither of them had been visited in a long time. It appeared that Mr. Murray had no children. His marker proclaimed he was a beloved uncle. Ms. Abbas had children, but there was no sign of them any where. We needed help with picking up a flower mount that was stuck in the mud where my grandfather is buried because we wanted to place flowers in it and after what seemed like an eternity of trying to pull it up, my aunt asked a maintenance worker nearby for some help. The maintenance worker, a Latino man with hair white from age, had a long tool designed to extract flower mounts from mud and completed the task very quickly. He then got a bottle of oil which he used to shine the gravestones of my grandparents. As he polished their gravestones, my family pulled out cash from their wallets to tip the man and joked in Chinese that we should ask him why he didn’t also polish the gravestones of the neighbors, Mr. Murray and Ms. Abbas.

Do you seize opportunities to spend time with people you care about but don’t see often? Or do you work through the holidays, weddings, birthdays, funerals and other occasions? The gravestones neglected by the families who paid so much to have them engraved and placed over the graves of their departed remind me of all of the elderly people whom never or rarely have visitors. Some of them live in homes we call: nursing homes, hospice, convalescence, retirement community…. Some of them live alone while others live with their family but may or may not be appreciated or “seen.” I hope you find the time to visit your loved ones when they are alive because we never know which day is our last. I saw so many gravestones yesterday. Each person died at a different age.

Did you know that the most common day of the week to commit suicide is Monday and the most common day and time of the week to die from a car crash or heart attack is on Monday at 9AM? I attended a speech contest last Saturday and the first place winner asked the audience why people die on the way to jobs they hate when the most common deathbed regret is to have worked so hard and noted that people don’t die on vacation or  while doing things they love nearly as often in his speech entitled Follow Your Yellow Brick Road. 

On February 14, 2017, my mother found out she had breast cancer. The time I took off from work to spend with her during her treatments were some of the best times I had with her because it is rare that I see her set aside her work. She’s now completed her treatments and working harder than ever and never takes a day off. Gone are the days when we would spend time just me and her enjoying a garden, walking the piers or breathing  in on a mountain hike. Am I really saying I liked it when my mother was sick because I got to spend time with her? Does that seem selfish?

That same month my mother was diagnosed with cancer, I left my last teaching job. I wish I had really taken in every moment on the job and cherished it instead of stressing out over mindless tasks because I really loved that job and never thought I would be away from teaching for so long. I’ve been toying with the idea of returning to teaching lately, but I know it will never be same. I finally had a boss who treated me so kindly from 2015 to 2016. Then, he left and was replaced by a woman who as of November, is in jail for the murder of a young woman. I was telling a friend of mine, another teacher, about this recent development: this principal incarcerated for drinking and driving. My former coworkers tell me she had been coming to work under the influence. They tell me how lucky I am to have left. I can’t help but notice that most of them are still working there even as they tell me this as if to live vicariously through me.  If people had reported her behavior, would her family and the family of the woman who was killed in the car accident have been spared of pain? “That explains a lot,” I say to my friend about my boss coming to work under the influence, though I wasn’t sure if it really explained anything. “It’s the norm,” he replies as he appropriates his usual advice to me to avoid “rocking the boat” …. to not say anything if I see anything inappropriate at any new jobs I obtain. Everything in my heart screams at me not to listen to him, though I know what he’s saying is somewhat true and it’s how people keep their jobs. If that’s “the norm” and playing the politics and working in the system means I have to give up my ethics, maybe I don’t want to work for anyone else any more.

I’m at a cross road. I’ve been interviewing for upcoming teaching positions because I want to go back and pay off my student loans quickly. I think I am a terrible liar and interviewees can see right through me. My best friend, my work out buddy and my boyfriend all ascribe to the “follow your passion” school of thought and think I should just work on my projects instead of returning to teaching. I wonder if I aligned my life with these three people with this philosophy consciously or subconsciously. My parents think the idea is foolish and that I need to “grow up” and go back to teaching full time.

One of the letters of recommendation I am currently using in my job hunt states, “I can safely say Ms. *&^% is one of the most dedicated teachers I’ve ever met. I can’t count how many times I’ve stayed late after school working, went to the staff lounge around 5’o clock to make copies, and ran into Ms. *&^% there doing the same thing. ” The letter goes on to describe various projects I worked on. Even though it was very kind of my colleague to write such a descriptive letter to support me, part of me doesn’t want anyone to know I did these things because I don’t want that to be me any more. I don’t want to stay at work all day and night. I used to think that if I won the super lotto that I never play, I’d stay in teaching but lately, I don’t feel this way at all.

If I had resources-time and money in the world, what would I do? What would you do???? Have you ever let yourself fantasize? I have read that even wealthy people do not think they are enough or that they have enough. Few people believe they have enough to just start enjoying life. People want to make enough to feel secure. We’re seeking security externally. Shouldn’t that feeling of equanimity come from within?

Currently, my plan is to work and pay off loans before or while I build at least one social enterprise. I  have a deep desire to create and to solve problems. However, in the many friends whom I’ve come to know who are already in the position to make money by taking care of others while self-employed, I see that even when we have creativity and autonomy, we don’t always take care of ourselves or appreciate spending time with our loved ones. In fact, one of the main women who inspired and encouraged my current journey into social enterprise gave up her incredible non-profit housing and serving transitional foster youth because it was too much stress.

When I look at the lifestyles of the wonderful people who share my dream, I know the truth. Society is obsessed with money, even when it’s people who want to make money to take care of others. The motivation is different, but the end result is still the same. We aren’t taking care of ourselves. From childhood to adulthood, we’re taught to pursue money, whether it be for stability or for passion. We’re taught to study hard in school and then go to work. I think it’s all wrong. The first thing we learn shouldn’t be academics and then jump into work. I think the foundation is actually basic self-care: cooking, learning, eating healthy, exercise and meditation.

If I won the lotto, I’d become more familiar with self-care techniques for my own use and to teach others. Or, so I would like to think… But the truth is, my heroes are less people like this and are more people like this.  Somehow, I will merge these differing parts of me and still pay the bills.

Packing Day

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Today is packing day. It was supposed to be yesterday, but I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to. I started my day off with yoga. And then I did some laundry: two large loads. Yes, packing isn’t the only thing I procrastinate on. Laundry is as well.

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I also spent quite a lot of time yesterday looking up sleep treatments for people with mental illness. I can not tell you the number of students I’ve had over the years as well as people in my personal life whom have sleep issues which are clearly linked to other diagnoses, yet I never see medical professionals addressing this problem. I would think that treating the sleep issues would resolve a lot of other symptoms. I read a lot of research articles when I am  stressed. The Known/ Science makes me feel better. It’s a habit I have had for many years. When I went through divorce in 2008 (Wow! Was that a whole decade ago?!), I would ditch my university classes to read what science thought the meaning of love was at the library. I sent the articles on sleep out to people who would find them relative to their lives and was rewarded with praise and adoration, which caused a little shame in the back of my mind because I was thinking, “I don’t know how much more stress I can take. Maybe it’s better to be single.” And today is a new day… I’ve just returned from my sister’s and now my thoughts are, “Maybe my life isn’t so stressful.” Haha! Perspective is everything.

I am packing for a three month trip. I have always wanted to know what it’s like to live in another country. A few weeks ago, I was at work and thought to myself, “It’s almost my birthday. The thought of spending my birthday here is just too depressing to bear!” So I got myself a nice airline ticket for my birthday and announced to everyone I know that I was going on a trip and would be gone for several months! I truly believe that I am going in the right direction with my life! All of the people we meet and the events that happen lead us to here and now. I am expecting to have time to do things like journal/ blog since I won’t be working. The day after I left my job, I was already quickly meeting people from whom I’ve already learned so much and so many doors have opened! I know people often question what I’m doing with my life, but I haven’t a doubt in my mind. This relationship I am in is the most stable relationship I’ve ever had. I cherish the time I spent with family (wish there was more of this), friends and strangers since I left my work place at the lab! At the lab, everything was so dark. Now, I see everyone basked in sunshine and outdoors again! I’ve been invited to stay with various wonderful peoples just by simply announcing my travel intentions! This time tomorrow, I’ll be boarding a plane and crossing the oceans!

Santosha

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salzberg quote self love

Catching Up

Hello! Any cyber world friends left out there? I know it’s been a while since I wrote. So, here’s a little catching up in a nutshell:

I’ve been learning to swim…trying to…  I have been teaching a lot of yoga in my spare time and enjoying every second. I have extensive international trips coming up in 2019. I am looking forward to working on my foreign language skills. I am opening up my own business in 2019. I have done many different businesses in the past, but I am super excited about my newest venture. I’ve been enjoying life with my boyfriend. He inspires me to follow my heart despite naysayers by inventing and walking his own path.

 

Accepting My Life as Unconventional

I feel like I am always saying “Good bye” and moving on from places and people. Whereas other people stay in one job for years and years, I am always trying something new. Yes, I’m leaving yet another job. It was a pleasure to work with the many brilliant people in the aerospace industry, but I feel compelled to return to my true passions: education and travel. This makes me sad (to say “good byes”) and excited (to try and learn new things every day). Though I live an unconventional life of my own choosing, I hope that I will become successful at least one area of my life while parents are alive.

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Like a child, I yearn for everyone’s approval: friends, family, co-workers, past and present…I know self-acceptance and self-love are more important. With self-care and time, confidence, self-love and self-acceptance grow stronger. I am ever so grateful to always be learning something new! It keeps life interesting.

If you can take away one thing from this blog post, let it be that: Life is short. Select what experiences you may carefully! 

I’ve shared this song video before, but it’s worth sharing again:

 

 

 

Quote challenge

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I was nominated by the very talented Blue Velvet Jacket to do this challenge.

The rules of the challenge are as follows:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you.
  2. Post a quote each day for three consecutive days. (Pretty sure I won’t have time to do this as Monday night is one of the few nights I am home but I participated for a day at least).
  3. Nominate three bloggers each day to do the same.

Thank you, Blue Velvet Jacket! My apologies for being so late to the party!

Today, I have a poem from Thich Nhat Hahn titled Call Me By My True Names who wrote this poem after news of a 12 year-old who committed suicide after rape:

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
to be a bud on a spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
in order to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river,
and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time
to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond,
and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence,
feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate,
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands,
and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart can be left open,
the door of compassion.

What does this poem mean to you?

Today’s nominations are:

  1. Murisopsis
  2. Harotian Essentials
  3. Buddy71

I find this poem fascinating because in it, there is empathy for all living beings; yet monks (and psychopaths) are known for detachment. Detachment is much more difficult when one can empathize, an ability I believe would bring much compassion, if not love, to the world if we could all be in touch with it.