My Retrospection on New Year’s Eve

Wonderful Nature - www.alignwnature.com2015 is ending soon. The past year has been a real toughie but boy oh boy! What a wonderful year of accelerated growth and healing.

At the cusp of the transition from 2015 to 2016, I feel more like an observer watching the river go by. There is no distinct point that separates the two years. 2015 has been a continuation of my spiritual journey that started several years ago. My quest to live an authentic life seems to have come to fruition during the past year. I managed to shed my “masks” while taking the bold steps to move toward things and people that I am genuinely drawn to, and move away from those that didn’t match up with my authentic self. Hence I quit my cushy job and moved away from a workplace where I wasn’t doing what my heart truly wanted, and where the boss espoused the kind of leadership that I despised. So I moved on and became an entrepreneur.

Being my own boss gave me a lot of surprises and tons and tons of hard work, soul searching and headaches, not to mention near bankruptcy, but my heart rejoices for following its calling.

I also found myself attracting numerous quality friendships over the past year—some of whom I can relate to on a very deep level. I have a sense that they are going to be wonderful blessings in my life going forward. I also have reconnected and strengthened my friendship with some of my long-standing friends. Their selfless support in my darkest moments really touched me, giving me wings when I was about to plunge down the cliff of abyss.

Looking back, there is this one accomplishment that I would call a major milestone in my life: I have finally figured out the main contributor of my depression, which was latent in my teen years, became full blown “clinical” in my late 20s, and then kept on visiting me in the next two decades. Well, it was a moment of epiphany when I realized that the feeling of inadequacy about myself has led to all this (see the story here). Strange enough, after having found this kernel of truth, which dispelled the “myth” that I had conjured for myself all these years, I have been feeling marvelous, despite having encountered seemingly insurmountable challenges since. As a bonus, I suddenly found my previous need to prove myself to feed my ego melting away.

At the same time, I stopped worrying about how others see me or what they think of me, which had been a source of unhappiness in the past. I started to follow my heart and listen to my guts instead of motivating my actions based on what would please others or get me approvals. I found that utterly liberating.

I am looking on at 2016 with courage and hope. To those of you who are also seeking personal growth, may our lives continue to be blessed with more healing and fulfillment.

My Breakthrough in My Relationship with Money


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Money money money -

Recently my economic situation is at the verge of turning into a crisis, as my original business plan for my start-up is not panning out. It sent me into a panic mode, as the savings won’t be lasting much longer.

Faced with such anxiety, I started to do some soul searching to try and find out why money always seems to evade me throughout my life. There seems to be something in my subconsciousness that pushes money away.

So I searched in my memory for the earliest emotional connection with money. One story stood out: My parents were always quarreling over money. In my innocent mind, money was that evil thing that caused disharmony at home. I hated it to my guts. I remember feeling terrible every time my parents had a fight. Then afterwards, I had to play the role of being my mom’s counselor, consoling her broken soul while facing an emotionally inaccessible father, who, like so many men, just resorted to “stonewalling” when he could not deal with all the emotional spillovers.

In my simple way of looking at the world, money was something that brought unhappiness. I remember my mom even threatened divorce one time. Such dramas sent shocks down my spine, making me fear that the solid home I had relied on for everything would soon fall apart!

What I remember most from my parents’ quarrels was this complaint from my mom: “We don’t have enough money. Why can’t you make more money?”

I could not understand why she would keep on complaining, as I sensed that we had enough to live a comfortable life. “Why do we constantly need more?” I thought. A comfortable life, to me, was what we already were having, although it wasn’t terribly comfortable by the society’s standard. Our family never ate out in restaurants nor did we travel at all. But such things were not that common—at least not in our social class—when I was a child, so I didn’t feel anything lacking. Having a big enough apartment and three good meals a day was already “a good life” in my book. As time went by, I started to regard my mom as the greedy one, who seemed to have an insatiable appetite for money.

Perhaps as a result of this experience, I’ve always injected an uneasy sort of energy into the concept of money. I would feel guilty about receiving too much money for my service. I would feel I don’t deserve it, despite the fact that whatever I do to earn it really represents excellence in quality and conscientious service.

Also, my upbringing colored my lenses when I see businessmen. Perhaps I had not encountered a “good” one, so I developed a sort of contempt for capitalists who try to extract as many resources from society and from people as possible. I wouldn’t touch “business” in my choice for a career.

This year, I quit my job because I could not stand the behavior of my then boss—a bureaucrat who is so inflexible that he was unwilling to bend any rules for the sake of the employees’ health and well-being. I realized that bureaucrats could be equally “evil,” and that becoming my own boss was really what I had always wanted.

But being my own boss means starting a business. Despite the fact that I have been writing articles about business for almost two decades, I did not have much hands-on experience doing it. I am now on a very steep learning curve.

One thing I realized recently is that there has been this tiny voice in my head nudging me, “Keep this business to a small scale so you won’t have to deal with all the troubles that come along with a big business. You are just one person.”

This voice is so tiny but it seems to be constantly there, putting a narrow box around my ambitions. Perhaps my negative feeling about money is preventing me from actually getting more, not that I am even close to breaking even.

Living at the edge has given me a light-bulb moment when it comes to how I felt about my mother when I was young. Like her, I now wish I had a bigger margin, or safety net, so that I don’t have to constantly worry about whether I’ll have a place to stay or enough money for food the next month. It then became clear to me that mom wanted “more” money so that she would feel secure enough to provide for the family. I had totally misinterpreted her words!

This epiphany opened up my mind about money in a brand new way. Now I can rewrite that story based on a false belief, so that the negative connotation about money would not influence my life anymore. I am now taking away the stigma that I’ve attached to money, and feel liberated to summon money into my life, may it be through business or other means.

A couple of days ago, I told this to my mom on the phone in an unusually calm manner. Suddenly, the emotional charge that I attached to money and to my contempt for my mother’s approach to money was dropped. It was simple but amazing. Simply amazing. All those decades of misunderstanding was resolved. I expressed my “forgiveness” to my mom, who was more than relieved to hear that. She even expressed how glad she was to see an “elevation” in my thinking (her choice of word in Chinese for “raised consciousness”).

This was probably the biggest Christmas present I ever gave her, and her, me.

Now that I have decided to have a “normal’ relationship with money, I am eager to learn how to improve my business and am getting excited about making money from it—lots of it ;-)

Discovering My Own Extraordinariness, for the Very First Time


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Sunset in Stockholm © Photo by Louisa Hansen

For the first time in my life, I am truly appreciating the extraordinariness of myself. I’m appreciating me for real.

All the past affirmations saying that “I love myself” pale in the face of this revelation.

I finally see the extraordinary qualities in me—including that of being extremely intuitive—and don’t give a hoot about whether anybody else sees that or even understand what that means. I used to be frustrated because I just couldn’t get other people to appreciate me for who I really am. Or more likely, I refused to completely give in to any of the compliments showered on me—because I simply did not believe, in my heart of hearts, that I deserved them. I didn’t believe I was truly that great. There was a tiny little voice that kept on nagging in the back of my mind, “No, you’re not that great. Don’t get carried away.”

Little did I know, that this tiny voice has its origin in my mother. When I was young, I was a straight-A student. She was perhaps not unlike what is known today as a “tiger mom.” What characterized her interactions with me was, even though she was elated and proud of me each time I got a top score in my test or exam at school, she would immediately put a damper on my happiness by saying, “Don’t be proud. Work harder next time.”

I got a boxful of pencils, each representing a 100% score in a test. This box was lost after I moved to the United States and studied for my college degree. Why or how was it lost? Nobody in our constantly moving family knows, but it might have been a subconscious abandonment of the past achievements, each of which had been marred by a prerogative remark by my mother, who, out of her limited wisdom, merely wanted me to aim at ever-higher goals in life so that one day, I will become extraordinary—in her eyes.

But her eyes are constantly shifting to higher and higher goals, so in order to please her, I am on a tread mill that exhausts me to no end. Her love is based on extrinsic conditions. She never showed me that she would love me no…matter…what!

So I learned to become a human “doing.” I tried to constantly outdo myself, in the quest of becoming more and more perfect in whatever I did—to fulfill this perfectionist mom’s desires. I even continued long after I left the nest 20-some years ago. That little voice of hers has apparently rented the most precious space in my mind.

Now it has just dawned on me, that all the frustrations I have felt toward the world—the frustrations that nobody understands or appreciates me fully, comes from that negative little voice. It has prevented me from seeing the full glory of my “self.” It is like a blinder that limits my vision—inward.

Today is the day I finally took off the blinder and see myself clearly, for the first time.

No, it’s not a dramatic scene like the sky opened up with sun rays shining down. The revelation came bit by bit, while I was doing chores in the kitchen, waiting for the bus, falling half asleep during my commute. I am left gasping for air trying to fathom the vastness of this revelation. Yet the effect is already palpable. I no longer feel the desperate need to seek outward recognition. There is such a tremendous sense of contentment and inner peace. To write this all down and to share with you is not an attempt to get some “likes.” My fingers are dancing on the keyboard, urging me to spill it out and share it with the world: This is the day to celebrate myself!

And from now on, every single day will be a celebration!

Finally, Something My Father Would’ve been Proud of, and it’s not What You Think


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Yesterday I had the chance to listen to a Chinese-American lady, B, tell a personal story of how she grew up feeling inadequate because of a simple sentence her father said to her: “You have not done anything that makes me proud yet.” She said she had never managed to stop crying every time that sentence was repeated in her mind. As well, her mother always conveyed the message that nothing she has ever done is “good enough.”

Two things flashed across my mind when I listened to her story. “Joy Luck Club” and myself. Just like the protagonist in the movie and B, nothing I’ve ever done has made my parents proud — yet. And no matter how much I strive, nothing I ever do is “good enough” in my mother’s eyes.

B went to one of the Top 20 universities in the United States. Her father would’ve been proud of her — except that she did not choose an “Asian subject,” such as engineering or architecture. Instead, she chose art and design. Today, she works as a graphic designer for a children’s theater group. And that’s not good enough for her mother. “You should’ve gone to work for Disney or Pixar,” she was told.

In most cases, parents do not mean to hurt their kids, but Chinese parents have this habit or tradition of not showering their kids with praise — lest they become too proud and stop to make improvements. This is exactly the environment in which I grew up. Even though I was always the top student in my class, eventually becoming one of only eight students in a city of 6 million to receive a government scholarship to study in America, I was still “not good enough.” I never heard my parents say “I’m so proud of you, daughter.” Nope. I should’ve chosen an “Asian subject,” I should’ve married a rich guy, bought a house and invited them to live with me. Then my life would have been a great “success,” and their lives would have been “complete.” All these conditions for their love and approval have left me feeling burdened, depressed and defeated.

I actually did compromise by not choosing to study art. Still, journalism wasn’t “Asian” enough, if you know what I mean. Being a writer would never bring in as much money as being a banker would, for example. But I realize that even this compromise was a big mistake as I didn’t follow my heart. I would probably have been so much happier and more successful in pursuing an art-related career. Regardless, my whole life has turned into a big disappointment for my parents, and I have lived under this shadow for too long.

B finally made a breakthrough this past weekend. She was finally able to see the blockages and blinders in her life and remove them. She told a most recent happening in which she managed to redo all the design work she had lost after a computer crash, and managed to print brochures just in time for her clients. Her clients are very happy and she is finally able to see how awesome she really is. She doesn’t have to work for Disney or Pixar in order to feel a sense of achievement. Rather, she celebrates this triumph instead of giving in to that “little voice” in her mind, which previously kept on putting herself down.

I was so touched by her story, that I went up to her and told her how our stories are alike, and how she is lucky that she has resolved this issue in her heart — while her father is still alive. For me, my father has already passed on, and I would never be able to hear him say, “I’m so proud of you, daughter.” All I can remember was that at his death bed, he uttered to me, “Go and do something unique, something that is representative of you in your life.” In the face of this perfect stranger, tears poured out of my eyes.

Rain was pouring down heavily this morning. I went up to my roof and tended my newly built vegetable garden. After some hard work, I was able to sit down and enjoy the presence of the greens. I looked at them with great joy, spending a good amount of time in silence. For those of you who have pets, it is the same feeling of happiness to be surrounded by beings that you love, except that in my case, it is a less “dynamic” kind of happiness. Suddenly, a voice in my head told me, “Dad would be so proud of you for all this!”

Really? Yes, really! Dad is the one who gave me the gift of love for plants. He had a small flower garden outside the windows of our apartment when we were kids. I must have inherited his tender feelings toward plants. Another thing I have inherited from him is the love for beauty and for art, expressed in photography and paintings. This was a moment of epiphany. Yes, why wouldn’t dad be proud of this seemingly minute thing that no one would even put a label of “success” on? He would be so happy to sit there with me in my tiny garden and enjoyed a cup of coffee.

It dawned on me that it doesn’t take a huge external event in our lives to transform how we feel about ourselves. All it takes is a shift in how we see ourselves, and a simple action of dropping the tainted glasses we have been wearing all our lives — for good.

A Tiny Ant Crawls in My Soul


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Looking for that ray of sun
That flicker of light
A flash
In the corner of the eye

Oh why, oh why?

Dream, a world apart
So close
Yet so far

That caress
Down my spine
In the middle of the night
Of thunder
Am I awake
Is it a lie?

A tiny ant
In my soul
A hair
Stuck in my throat

Don’t ask me why
Don’t tell me why.
A little bird told me:
You’ll never know
Until you die.

Yours truly,
Louisa Hansen


“The Ants” by Salvador Dali

Musings on Bullshit


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“I don’t have a short temper. I just have a quick reaction to bullshit.”

Recently, I have had to activate this reflex quite often. Lots of bullshit flying around and thrown at me in my work and living spheres. But I do apologize to the real bullshit… Piles of it decorate the paths in my village quite often and I just love the unmistakable smell of grass in the manure, not to mention the wonderful sights of the cow family: Cow-Family-2

Forest Gump has said, “Life is like a box of chocolate. You never know what you’re going to get.” Well, having lived quite a good number of years now, I can say that below that layer of chocolate is often a hidden layer of shit! But what you’re going to do with it will determine what kind of person you will turn out to be.

I like what Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of “Eat Pray Love,” has said: “The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it. Those women are my superheroes.”

Female Heroes

I admire this no-frills and honest way of looking at life. Some people choose to look at life through rose-colored glasses. They choose to focus on the roses and ignore the existence of the thorns. Well, they may not see the thorns but the danger of being pricked remains. Does the shift of focus reduce the chance of being pricked? I don’t think so. The beauty of roses are accentuated by the perils they are born with. Likewise, life is exciting and worth living not only because it is filled with endless diversities of wonders but also because it contains an equal number of challenges that allow us to appreciate the beauty of the opposite spectrum in a much deeper way.

So the recent sleuth of shit I have stumbled on has helped me stretch my mental and emotional muscles. Hopefully the “grace” part that Gilbert mentioned will follow.

Never Give up Dreaming!


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Don't Give Up on Your Dreams

I love this post by fellow meditator Brian B Baker so much. It comes at exactly the perfect timing. I have just quit my job without another “real job” lined up. I am done being deluded by society’s ploy to lure us into slavery. I have been lied to by my parents since I was a teenager, that I should not pursue my dream of becoming an artist, because being an artist would not bring me food and shelter.

Yes, I am angry. Not just angry at being lied to, but most angry at myself that I wasn’t stronger to believe in my own dreams.

“I am so angry with myself because I cannot do what I should like to do,” Van Gogh wrote in a letter as he tussled with mental illness. While he started his career as a painter quite “late” in life, he did make a career out of it (regardless of whether he made any money from it or not—the sole standard by which today’s folks judge a person’s success).

After decades of working at jobs that didn’t speak to my soul and fulfill my heart’s desires, I have been burnt out multiple times and feeling under-appreciated and unfulfilled, not to mention having millions of my cells killed by obnoxious and stupid bosses and toxic work environments.

Now I have decided to take a leap in the dark with a kind of “blind faith” for my own dreams. Yes, I do have my dreams alive and burning. I have so many creative ideas and desire to fulfill each one of them.

I appreciate the extra nudge given to me in Brian’s post—it is a reminder that we alone and our dreams are enough, because there is nothing more real that this.

“We must walk consciously only part way toward our goal, and then leap in the dark to our success.”
~Henry David Thoreau

Cited article:

The Lie of Chasing Your Dreams


What Children and Nature Teach us about Optimism


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A lot of what we believe to be a misfortune actually is a result not of our own doing but of our own thinking. Take a rainy day for example. Years of experience of inconvenience, discomfort and even sickness resulting from being exposed to the rain has ingrained in our minds that it is something to dread or dislike.

But look at a preschooler. She would feel so excited about it because she can finally have a chance to put on her rain boots and play with the rain, enjoying the wonderful splashes she creates by stepping hard into the puddles! Rain is just another occasion for play! When you look at how inventive a child’s reactions to life’s predicaments can be, maybe you’ll think differently about your own problems in life.

“Kayden + Rain,” video by from Nicole Byon
In this video, the toddler experiences rain for the first time in her life. To her, rain is not a “problem” but something marvelous—nothing short of a miracle!

Yes, much of what makes us unhappy or pessimistic, is indeed caused by how we approach a problem—based on our unpleasant or painful memories from the past. This subconscious “mental programming” is built into our survival instinct so that we don’t repeat the same mistakes over and over, such as touching something burning hot. However, the working of this subconscious mechanism—a kind of mental deductionism, when used in a conscious way to predict or judge a situation, may or may not serve us every single time. In a positive way, we call what we have distilled from past experiences “wisdom.” In a negative way, the feeling of “once bitten, twice shy” sometimes overshadows the opportunities that actually exist out there.

Our process of growing up and social conditioning very often takes the sap out of our natural-born optimism. And when we let the habit of concluding that something “is always like that” obscure our creative problem-solving instinct, we start to attract more and more bad luck, because that is exactly what we expect to see and nothing else. Many of you have heard of the Law of Attraction. Well, this is one way to explain how it works.

It’s sad that both our collective and individual conditioning has taken away our natural gifts—the gift to see miracles in the mundane, to find a solution to each and every situation. It is sad indeed, that we have simply stopped to believe… in ourselves. To put a spark back into our lives, to find courage again when we face seemingly insurmountable problems, we need to unlearn all of the conditioning that we are somehow stuck with our obstacles.

Take a look at what Nature does. A tree, being bound by a hard wall or concrete around its roots, would continue to grow anyhow, extending its roots farther and deeper and sometimes resulting in a truly ingenious work of art! Amassing resources no matter how impossible the situation is—that is something that all of us have the ability to do. But we also need to have faith that it can be done—just as trees do—and give it time to work. This is what “trusting the process” really means. “Miracles” do not always happen as soon as you swipe the magic wand! Of course, if helps if you have access to such a wand ;-)

Photo taken by question_ev3rything on reddit Spotted in Guangzhou, China

Photo taken by question_ev3rything on reddit
Spotted in Guangzhou, China

Recently I have watched quite a few Shirley Temple clips. Hers is an amazing spirit that has given hope to so many souls during one of the most difficult periods of human history (the Great Depression and WW2), and continues to do so even today. In one of her many television interviews, she talked about the reason why she had stopped making movies—that she had had enough of the “make-believe” world. But I don’t think we, as the audience, can ever be tired of such a world. The world of art and beauty serves to inspire us to the idealism of life. True, such a world may not exist in the lives of most of us, but it inspires us of what is possible, and it puts us in a good mood, which in turn attracts joyfulness and—miracles.

Let me end this post with a delightful song by Shirley Temple, “Be Optimistic.” Enjoy!

2014 in Review

2014 is a watershed in my life on so many fronts. Not counting the sudden increase of the silver strands of wisdom on my head, the surgery I had to remove uterine fibroids was a major event that served to awaken me spiritually. Several of my blogs in the past year were devoted to what I had learned through the ordeal—which, in hindsight, was a blessing in disguise. The article, “The Spiritual Lesson My Illness Gave Me,” turns out to the most popular one, and I’m so glad I wrote it, as it serves as a wonderful reminder of the journey I have gone through and what it has meant and will continue to mean to me. I have explored several subjects related to pain, both physical and emotional, and haven’t put down all my insights due to the lack of time. I should say that so far, my experience of extreme physical and emotional pain has led me to ways out of this pain—not through escape but through going through and transcending it. And the journey itself, though unpleasant, was worth it. It was worth it because it was a most human experience. It humbled me. It made me feel that I was, after all, alive. And though a cliché now, I must say that I agree totally with Nietzsche’s statement: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for my blog. Here are the stats. Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,400 times in 2014. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Don’t Give Up!

I have seen this image on Facebook and loved it… now I’ve found it again on a blog, so I decided to reblog it and share it with you and use it as a reminder for myself. The message can’t be better illustrated. Just when you’re about to give up, that’s when you need to make the effort to walk—or dig—the last mile!

The Journal

Blogging, writing, entrepreneur-ing, parenting, studying, hoping.
never give up

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