‘Flying’ at Mid-Life


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As I embark on my “Mid-life” journey, uncertainty seems to be the norm, more so even than when I was a youngster embarking on adulthood. Mid-life is a sneaky thing. It became a part of me before I realized it. This blog, in part, was a search for answers and my true identity since questions of my quintessential existence surfaced a couple of years ago. Such questions filled my teenage years and subsided for a while, only to flood my life again at mid-life.

There is so much I haven’t been able to express openly but I do share them with those I trust. One day, perhaps I will have the courage to “bare it all” without feeling triggered by past traumas. In the meantime, I feel both fear and excitement as I greet every day of my Mid-life. I find the following description of my state of being quite accurate:

“I have a sneaking suspicion that the transition zone is the only real thing, and the bars are the illusions we dream up to not notice the void. Yes, with all the fear that can accompany transitions, they are still the most vibrant, growth-filled, passionate moments in our lives. And so transformation of fear may have nothing to do with making fear go away, but rather with giving ourselves permission to ‘hang out’ in the transition zone– between the trapeze bars – allowing ourselves to dwell in the only place where change really happens. It can be terrifying. It can also be enlightening. Hurtling through the void, we just may learn to fly.”

~Excerpted from Warriors of the Heart by Danaan Parry


Art Heals


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I have always enjoyed creating art. But I’ve never understood how it feels so good to create—to draw, to paint, to dance, to take photos, to make beautiful dishes.

Yesterday I sat by the Turtle Pond at Central Park and decided to sketch what I saw. I took out a tiny pad and started sketching. Suddenly, an hour passed, people came and went, the fiddlers came out to play and the sun started to set. And I finished my sketch. Through this time, I was 100 percent focused on what I saw and what I drew. I was devoted to each line and each stroke. All the while, my body was enjoying the warmth and the breeze of this perfect summer’s day.

It dawned on me, that when I sketched in Nature, I was totally present. The past didn’t exist, neither did the future. My mind was focused on the moment. Since anxiety is often induced by regrets of the past and worries about the future, it cannot exist when the mind is solely focused on the present. And that, my friend, was what I had experienced.

No wonder art heals. Art is the quintessential activity of the current moment. It is an existential gift—a present.

And, as Jim Carey said in his amazing new video about his art-creating process, “I Needed Color,” that there is nothing right or wrong about art, and nobody can tell you what you should or should not do. And that is LOVE. And that explains why I love art so much, and why I find it healing.

The Swing


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Ice-Cream-and-SwingsIt’s been an unseasonably warm day today and I got my butt in gear and went out for a walk in the sun after having locked myself in the room the last few days, working my ass off. It was an “uneventful” walk in my familiar neighborhood, nothing spectacular to see, but on my way back, I created an “extraordinary” experience by stopping in a children’s playground.

For quite a while, I had been eyeing the swings and wanting to go and sit on one. But I felt self-conscious. I could literally see the groups of kids starring at me like an alien intruder, pointing their fingers and laughing at me. So I waited until nobody was there. Thanks to the ice cream truck, all the kids were gathered around it and forgot about the swings. I got lucky. I hastened my pace and I took a seat and started swinging.

As I sat on the swing, my eyes caught the clear, blue sky and a little squirrel that ran on the thin edge of a metal fence. The melody of the ice cream truck repeated itself in the background. Suddenly, a boy came by, sat next to me and started to swing slowly while licking his ice cream cone. Then more kids came, and then some more, until one had to stand and wait for his turn. I found myself sitting among these innocent children, feeling like one of them myself, enjoying the motion, the music, and sunshine.

The self-consciousness disappeared. Why was I so afraid before? Why did I hesitate? Images of my first year in secondary school flashed across my mind. Vivid pictures of privileged kids ganging up on me came back. I have been working on my emotional charge related to this traumatic experience for a long time. Finally, I realized that the bullying has no more hold on me anymore.

I didn’t realize, until recently, that my experience was so traumatic and incomprehensible to others due to the fact that I am a Highly Sensitive Person. Being one, experiences that would normally not amount to “anything” would be felt strongly by me. This understanding has finally allowed me to put my fear of bullying to rest. Being called an “alien” because I came from another school and “stupid” because I couldn’t speak English very well–these were incidents had left a big scar in my psyche all these years. I was left to feel ashamed of myself and a “weakling” all these years, no matter how well I performed externally. It didn’t help that I have a mother with narcissistic tenancies and likes to put me down lest I become “arrogant” in my ways.

But everything changed when I took that step into the playground, returning to a simple childhood pleasure in all its innocence. Suddenly, I have overcome this self-consciousness when I found myself in the midst of a “gang.” In addition, I have put another “traumatic” experience–the 7-year-old little Loo jumping off a wooden swing and being hit in the back of my head by the swing when it swung back–behind me now that I have been on and off the swing safely.

It’s amazing how a tiny decision to do something out of the routine can help me conquer some decade-old fears. Thus I have accomplished this month’s exercise of living outside my comfort zone.

That Temporary Time


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A lot of the stresses and conflicts we experience in life, may it be at home, at the workplace, in business or in politics, have to do with time. Poor timing. Lack of time. Impatience. Not enough time has passed for the truth to come out. But what is time?

Time is a phenomenon in the relative world that we live in. In absolute reality, there is no time, and life is eternal. Therefore, we live in an illusion of urgency and distress that we impose on ourselves with the construct of time. The word for time–“temps” in French, “tempo” in Italian, etc… originates in the Latin word “tempus.” And the word “temporary” is derived from it.

As we live our day-to-day existence in this relative world where time seems to be linear, to go through life’s irritations, annoyances, obstacles, hardships, conflicts, trials and tribulations, give it time. We often hear the phrase, “Only time will tell.” Well, I’d say, time WILL tell if you listen to what your heart and soul say. So, give your heart and soul time, to tell you what you already know deep down. Don’t drown out that seemingly faint voice with the loud voices from the media, your friends or family. Just listen, in solitude, and you will sure have the answer.

Unleashing the Super Computer inside You


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Mindscape - www.bodytalksystem.com.hk

If I ask you which is more powerful: a super computer or the human brain, what would your answer be? Most people would say: “The super computer, of course!”

Apparently, that would be true—if you were to use only the “normal” capacity of your brain.

Albert Einstein once said that most of us are using only 5 percent of our brain power. What about the rest of it? The fact is that our educational system and society have trained us, from Day One, to focus on the development of our left brain—the part of the brain that handles rational thinking. The other side, the right brain, which is responsible for emotions, language, creativity, and most important of all, intuition, has largely been neglected. But it is here where original ideas flourish, where innovation takes place, where deep human connections happen.

When the whole brain is tapped into, the power and data comparable to a super computer—in fact, far more than that—would be available to you in an instant, and you don’t even have to be a genius to do that.

The myth has always been that geniuses are born. Either you have “it” or not. But what if I told you that you could actually have access to the same tool that geniuses such as Amadeus Mozart and Nikolai Tesla had, and expand the capacity of your brain power by a million times?

“The rational mind is the faithful servant and the intuitive mind is the sacred gift. We have created a society that honors the servant and forgotten the gift.” ~ Albert Einstein

To illustrate the power of the intuitive mind in action, let’s look at the example of the Russian athletes during the 1980 Olympics Games. The athletes were divided into three groups with varying degrees of physical vs. mental training. It turned out that the group that received 25 percent physical training and 75 percent mental training grabbed more gold metals than the group that received 75 percent physical training and 25 percent mental training. This is a telling example of how powerful the mind is when it comes to our external performance—even if it has to do with physical performance!

The idea of “work smart, not hard” cannot be more true in this example.

Mindscape: The Modern-day Tool to Tap into Your Innate Super Computer

To access the unlimited power of your mind and to tap into the knowledge of the entire universe, there is a tool called Mindscape, invented by Australian  Dr. John Veltheim. He is the originator of the non-intrusive healthcare system known as BodyTalk.  Dr. Veltheim invented Mindscape in his 20s. It is a mental technique that allows a people to manifest their dreams, visions and goals in reality. The goals are not limited to career success but all aspects of life, may it be academic studies, relationships, finance, family, health and much more.

Does it sound too good to be true? Well, I wanted to know too. So I went for a weekend seminar on Mindscape, conducted by Angie Tourani, the only Mindscape instructor in Hong Kong, and tested whether it works or not.

During the seminar, I learned how to get into the alpha state through constructing a workshop in my mind. The alpha state is when the mind is in a very relaxed state, similar to when you are daydreaming. You are aware and awake, but in this state, where the brain operates at the frequency between 9 and 14 Hz, the subconscious predominates.

I then learned to work on different aspects of my life, including rehearsing all the tasks on my to-do list, connecting with people whom I want to have deeper and authentic communications, inviting experts to help me with my problems, heal myself and others, exercise, meditate and more.

After the seminar, I was blown away by what manifested in my life as a result of the work in my mental workshop. First, there was instant healing of an ankle pain I had had for over four months. Then, tension in two interpersonal relationships suddenly eased up. Over the course of the next two months, I also experienced the excellent result of being able to slow down the passage of time and accomplish a large number of tasks every day, which initially seemed insurmountable.

To my delight, I have also been able to experience what the Olympics athletes achieved through mental training. Not getting gold medals, of course. But I had been inactive for over half a year and worried about not being able to return to my favorite activity—ballet—without suffering a great loss in technique and strength. However, Mindscape has allowed me to not only practice every day to brush up my skills, but also to invite the best ballerinas in the world to coach me—all within my mental space. When I returned to the dance studio, I found myself picking up the movements as if I never had a long break. Sure, my body was stiffer and weaker than before, but the fundamental skills such as balance and coordination are still there, and I know that as long as I keep on practicing, I will be able to improve and do well at it again.

How Mindscape Came to Hong Kong

As mentioned, Mindscape was created by Dr. John Veltheim and it spread from its American headquarters worldwide. How did it come to Hong Kong? Strangely, by way of South Africa. The one and only instructor of Mindscape in Hong Kong, Angie Tourani, stumbled upon it when she was training to become a certified BodyTalk practitioner while living in South Africa. Since Mindscape is under the same umbrella of the International BodyTalk Association, Angie got curious and learned the technique, too. Later on, she introduced it in Hong Kong after she moved here permanently.

“I came across BodyTalk when I was looking for alternative ways of healing for my children,” she recalls. “Then through BodyTalk I heard about Mindscape.”

Angie says that prior to learning Mindscape, she was a “left-brain, logical, black-and-white” person. But Mindscape has transformed each and every aspect of her life: “It has strengthened my creativity and intuition. I can say that it is one of the most beneficial tools I have acquired in my journey.”

How People Can Benefit from Mindscape

What are the main benefits of Mindscape? According to Angie, the first benefit is stress release. “When you are in a relaxed state of mind, free from stress and anxiety, you are able to function at the optimum level. Once you are in that zone, your creativity is heightened and you are able to find the answers and solutions to your problems. You connect to your core strength, your potentials and your environment better. A lot of times, the solutions and opportunities are all there but you can’t perceive them because the five senses are over-stimulated. Even if you have never meditated before, Mindscape can be a good start,” she explains.

Angie says some people find it difficult to meditate. But with Mindscape, they can get into the alpha state of mind through a simple, step-by-step process of visualization. In addition, one can stay in that state throughout the day instead of just during a short period of time as in meditation.

For comprehending and retaining information during one’s studies, Mindscape can be an extremely useful tool. Angie says when she was training to be a certified BodyTalk instructor, she had only one month’s time to study all the complex anatomical materials that would have required a full year’s study. “It was crazy, especially for someone without a scientific background. I missed 70 percent of the course but I wanted to take the exam anyway. With the help of Mindscape, I passed the exam with a high score. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without Mindscape.”

In addition to learning, Mindscape also helps one overcome personality traits that may get in the way of achieving one’s goals. Angie recalls: “I was extremely shy before, but to be an instructor, I had to stretch my boundary and get out there to teach. Mindscape helped me to manifest this goal.”

Mindscape may sound like a magic bullet for whatever you want to achieve. Or is it? Angie explains that not all goals will be manifested when you use Mindscape. “If something is not a priority, or if it’s not meant for you, then you will not manifest the goal. Usually, once you are in Mindscape, you will have clarity in your subconscious mind. Superficially, you may have a certain goal, but in Mindscape, it will be clear to you whether that goal aligns with your priority or higher self.”

Another significant benefit of Mindscape is that it can help us resolve relationship conflicts. How? “When you are talking to people, you are basically talking to different belief systems,” observes Angie. “You are talking to their ego and logical mind. You might get hurt. The conversation may never get to the essence of things. But once you are using the Mindscape tools, you bypass all these. You bypass the ego, the limiting belief systems, the expectations and so on. Instead, you are directly connected to the core of the person. And when you communicate at that level, miracles just happen. Finally you are talking from your essence, and you are being heard.”

Angie continues: “If I have a deep message, I would prefer to communicate through the Mindscape workshop rather than trying to resolve the conflict externally. My experience has been that every time I had a conflict situation, I would go into my Mindscape workshop and talk to that person from that space. And the conflict would resolve immediately. It’s not just about saying what you want to say, but also seeing the perspective from the other person. When you see the bigger picture, then your understanding increases and that’s how conflicts can be resolved.”

An example would be, if you are going to a meeting, you can talk to the person in your mind ahead of time as if you were rehearsing it. “Since you would have resolved any issues in Mindscape already, when you actually meet the person, the meeting will go smoothly. You can understand the person’s perspective and they can hear you.”

Angie has personally experienced this many times when she tried to sort out some differences with her husband and with her domestic helper without any direct confrontations. On the professional level, she has been able to connect with her clients on a deeper level. “Any professions that deal with people, such as therapists, human resources managers and trainers, will benefit greatly by using this tool to connect with their clients or colleagues.”

Does it mean that however you want to sway a relationship, it will go your way if you use Mindscape? Angie stresses that you cannot manipulate or control another person this way.

“The world is merely a reflection of your subconscious belief system, and other people are simply playing it out. When you are in the alpha state of mind, you can see clearly what your limiting belief system and emotional blockages are. These are what prevent you from seeing a person or a situation for what it is, instead of seeing it through your filters or experience all the time. Then and only then will you be able to see through where the conflicts and differences come from and be able to work things out. And once you have made the shift, everything around you will shift. You will see people changing along with you. It’s all about you, not the others.”

In other words, “blockages” are what prevent us from what we want to achieve. Will Mindscape automatically help clear them up? Angie’s answer is a reassuring “yes.” “Basically, limiting belief systems are what prevent us from reaching our full potentials. While using Mindscape, you are connected to your core and the subconscious mind, as well as your masculine and feminine aspects. You don’t have any filters there. So all those limiting blocks will dissolve, and finally you are able to fulfill all your potentials.

Who Should Learn Mindscape?

Anyone can benefit from this powerful mental technique. But Angie recommends it particularly to students, athletes, artists and the busy professionals. She observes that students in Hong Kong are under tremendous pressure to excel in order to get into the best schools. “With Mindscape, it will be a breeze to retain information and tap into their mind power.” For athletes or anyone who is into sports, Mindscape can help them rehearse their activities from the mental space so they can excel in their physical performance. Similarly, for artists, Mindscape will open the floodgate to inspirations.

“For anybody engaged in highly stressful professions, such as bankers and lawyers, you can put your stress aside and see your efficiency, decision making ability and finances shoot up the roof,” Angie says.

Last but not least, Mindscape can be an excellent tool for enhancing meditation and personal growth. As the Indian spiritual teacher Nisargadatta Maharaj has once said: “All you need is already within you,” Mindscape can literally help us get to what is already inside us in a systematic way.


Note: The next Mindscape seminar will be held on February 27-28 in Hong Kong. For more information, please visit www.bodytalksystem.com.hk or contact Angie Tourani at angie@bodytalksystem.com.hk

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 - www.alignwnature.com

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.

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.