Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction 

Walking around a park or any place where I can appreciate the beauty of nature gives me satisfaction. These past couple of days I’ve seen so much beauty in Canada. So much beauty gives one so much satisfaction. 😊

I hope you enjoy the photos. 💕
T. 




Weekly Photo Challenge: Satisfaction 

Beautiful Weather in Vancouver 

Beautiful weather welcomed me today in Vancouver. So even if I had no sleep for over 24 hours, I was eager to see the city during a 17-hour layover. My first impression is there are so many Asians. I only got to walk around the University of British Columbia where I met with a former student (Chinese) who is doing a summer program there. I met her classmates who are also Chinese, and everywhere I went I heard Mandarin. It really felt like I was just in China, except that everyone can speak English. 

I didn’t get to take as many pictures as I wanted to as I wasn’t feeling well. But I’ll definitely do that when I come back to Vancouver next week. For now, I’ll sing with Neil Young…”Think I’ll go out to Alberta…🎶🎵.”

I hope you enjoy the photos. 

Have a lovely week! 💕
T. 


Daily Post: Disastrous 


This is the trunk of one of the many mango tress that line the roads of our campus. It seems this mango tree is dying even though its leaves are still very green.  I don’t know if this has anything to do with the disastrous super typhoon that struck the city last year, or that this tree is very old. 


I took this photo a week before I left Xiamen. Perhaps by the time I get back weeks from now, this tree shall have been replaced by a healthier-looking one. Like everything in China, old stuff can easily be replaced. Even trees. 
Daily Prompt: Disastrous 

Daily Prompt: Savor

Here’s a collage of photos of tropical fruits in a supermarket here in Xiamen. They are all imported from Southeast Asia; the bananas are from the Philippines.

I’ll be home soon. Then I can savor the taste of these luscious tropical fruits at a much cheaper price! Yay!

Have a great week ahead!

 

T.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Collage 

Daily Prompt: Savor 

Daily Prompt: Roxy’s Moxie


Roxy lived

Hiding in her shell,

Afraid of showing

Her true, bright  self.

Then she met him

Who showed her the world

And how to survive in it.

Though now he’s gone,

She still remembers

How she finally got the moxie

From him whose name is Rocky.😜

On Autism, Motherhood and Tolerance

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Three years ago, when I told friends about my son’s diagnosis, a few of them told me about the movie “Temple Grandin.” I kept putting off watching it because I knew I would just cry, and I was tired of crying. I did read her book , Thinking in Pictures after a friend sent me a copy, and it was moving and eye-opening and encouraged me to help my son and believe he will be able to cope eventually.

My husband still has not watched the film and won’t. Like me, he thinks it will just be a painful experience. It was painful when I finally decided to watch it yesterday. It’s perhaps the only movie that had me crying from beginning to end, NOT because it was sentimental – far from being sentimental, I think the writers and director and Claire Dane’s portrayal of Ms. Grandin, achieved  a kind of objectivity in the story-telling – but because there are many details that I could relate to as a mother of an autistic child and as a person who self-identifies as autistic.

One of the most painful scenes for me was the mother’s conversation with the doctor who diagnosed Temple with autism. When the mother asked about the cause of autism, the doctor hesitantly answered it was a form of schizophrenia brought about by a lack of maternal affection. (This was in the 1950’s, and we can understand that back then not much was known about autism.) Temple’s mother cried saying her baby was born normal, and that Temple later changed; that she wanted to hug her, but Temple didn’t like to be hugged.

(I am just grateful that my son is very affectionate. That would’ve really made it worse for me if my son didn’t like to be hugged.)

The doctor also recommended that Temple be institutionalized, which her mother refused to do.

Temple is so blessed (lucky, if you don’t like the word “blessed”) that she had a mother who pushed her to do things that might have been uncomfortable for her but truly helped her to live independently. Had her mother let her be, she would have remained alone in her own world.

So many times I’ve read articles written by supposedly high functioning autistic people diagnosed in their adulthood, decrying the treatment they received from their parents or other carers  or teachers, when, as a child, they were forced to do things that they were uncomfortable with. And now as adults, they just want to be able to do whatever they want; they don’t care what others think about them; and they expect people to accept their autism (unusual behaviors, meltdowns, etc.). They expect, demand tolerance.

To me this is very unrealistic. You live in a society. You may not like the idea, but the truth is – you cannot live entirely on your own. You need people. You need society. Unless you go hide in a cave and live with the bats.

Temple’s mother knew this. Her science teacher, Mr. Carlock, knew this. Temple realized this later on — she had to change; she had to learn to adapt to society.

The world does not revolve around you. You are not special (though you may be to your parents). You are just one of the 7.5 billion people on this planet. Each person has his/her own personality, issues, problems. You cannot demand tolerance for your behavior when you are intolerant of their own. In this world, in our reality, you will meet all kinds of people – not everyone will accept you for who you are, yet you may have to sit next to them in class or at the cafeteria; work in the same office as them; serve them their coffee. You can’t just run away or be angry with these kind of people every time you have to deal them. You have to learn to adjust to different kinds of people because they too have to learn to adjust to people like you.

And this is one thing I hope my son will learn – how to live in society.

Perhaps I am like most parents of autistic children, I worry about how my son will live without me. I cannot watch over him forever. I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thinking what if somebody hurts him at school, and he can’t tell anybody about it? What if as an adult, he will be taken advantage of, and he wouldn’t even know it?

Temple did not begin talking until she was 4, but her mother did not give up on trying to get her to speak. She did not want to go to college to talk with people, but her mother pushed her to do so, and she went on to pursue a Masters and a PhD.

There is only admiration on my part for Temple’s mom, her aunt and her science teacher – people who saw her potential, believed in her and pushed her to be the best she could be.

Not everyone has the financial capability that Temple’s family had, but I think every child can have at least one person who will not give up on them, who will not leave them to live in their own world, and push them to live more meaningful lives.

I have never been very ambitious. My best friend used to tell me I have a small brain because I want so little in this life. As a mother, I do not want much for my son either. I just want him to be able to live independently and be happy. And that’s my only goal.

That’s the only item on my bucket list that truly matters.

 

WPC: Purple Collage

 

 

For this week’s  photo challenge, I made a collage of all the purple/purplish flowers I used on this blog. Why flowers? Because I love flowers. Why purple? Because…why not purple? Lol. I realized I have several purple flowers in my folder.

Have a lovely day!

 

T.💕

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Collage

Daily Prompt: Grit 


By understanding the enemy and yourself, you can engage in a hundred battles without ever being in danger.”   Sun Zi 孙子

This is good advice not only for those who have enemies but also those who battle challenges, temptations. Some of us don’t have enemies, but on a daily basis we are confronted with situations that test the firmness of our character, our grit.

As important as knowing what we are up against is knowing what we are and what we are not capable of doing. We need an honest assessment of ourselves and work from there. If we truly understand who or what we are up against, and we truly understand our strengths and weaknesses, we can be confident of not being defeated.

You can play with fire with the confidence that you won’t get burned. 😁
T.
(I’ve been rereading Sun Zi’s Art of War. It’s always an interesting read.)

Torment

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The savage in you

Like to tickle me

To death – you

Relish seeing me squirm

When your hands start sneaking slowly

D

O

W

N

My arms, my waist

Then up the sides of my breasts

Where your fingers deftly move

Like a pianist’s hands on the keys

Or a wolf’s claws on its prey.

 

July 5, 2000

(Written 17 years ago when love meant something totally different. Sigh.) 

 

Daily Prompt: Savage 

Daily Prompt: Savage 


Your roots savagely grow down 

From you, growing faster and stronger 

As they reach the ground 

And later strangle you. 

You from whom they came from. 

If you could stop them, 

Would you? 


(Banyan trees are also known as “strangler figs” for their “strangling” growth  habit. The roots descend from the branches and grow a pseudotrunk that makes it look like it’s strangling the main trunk. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of a pseudotrunk although I’ve seen so many here in Xiamen. I chose these two photos for the way the roots seem to grow savagely from the branches.) 

May you have a CALM week, not a savage one. 💕😁
T. 

Images of a Jimei Evening

This year Xiamen hosts the 9th BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit from September 3 to 5. The city has been preparing for the summit for some time, and this is the reason the whole city, not only Xiamen island, but its district on the mainland as well, has seen so many changes — all to make Xiamen more attractive. 

Right after super typhoon Meranti struck Xiamen last year, Jimei looked so dark at night viewed from the plane. It was such a sad sight 

But these days, Jimei is all lit up, and I enjoy walking around the campus in the early evening when the lights are on. 


Have a lovely weekend!💕
T. 

On Mistakes, Memories and Introversion  

One of the lines that struck me from the season finale of Westworld, was spoken by Bernard to Maeve: “How can you learn from your mistakes, if you don’t remember them?

Though some memories are better totally forgotten, these actually have contributed to our present selves. The “we” that we know is a product of all the experiences we have been through and our memories of them.

I think I have an earlier post on a similar theme, but I like musing on this idea: that awareness and understanding and acceptance of our past – all the good and the bad – help us deal with our present selves. I had some very sad experiences as a child, and even sadder and painful experiences as an adult, but I acknowledge that those same experiences have helped shape a more confident, wiser and stronger ME.

In my early twenties, I was made aware of certain patterns in my behavior towards certain people and circumstances. I would have the same problems, dilemmas over and over again. Same story, different people that I was unhappy with  and different settings. It took me a while to see that I was following a pattern. Thankfully I was patient enough with myself and had the enthusiasm to write in my journal my thoughts and feelings during this very confusing period of my life. My journals have been a great help in my journey through self-awareness and self-acceptance. My memories have taught me how to handle my emotions better, and how to prevent myself from getting into an unhealthy pattern of behavior of unnecessarily feeling hurt by other people who may or may not have the intention to hurt me.

My memories have helped me narrow down my list of trusted friends. My memories remind me of the kind of people and situations I have to avoid to have some peace within, because it is true –one can be kind to everybody, but one can’t possibly have everyone as a friend. It may sound like I have built a wall around me, and that it’s not a good thing. I beg to differ though. I think we need walls to protect ourselves, but the walls have to have a door where we can let certain people in; and certainly with age, I feel this works for me. I do not feel the need to meet with so many people and have more “friends”. I do not get energized going to parties and making small talk with people who, just like me, are merely being polite. It’s exhausting. (But yes, once in a while, necessary which is why I socialize once or twice a month.)

However I enjoy being among my family and a handful of people I call friends, with whom I don’t have to be merely polite, but be able to show not only the loving and caring me, but also the silly, goofy me. Then I can laugh. And the laughter is real.

I recognize the changes I have gone through from being introverted as a child, extroverted as a teenager and twenty-something, and introverted again as an adult. This is quite common, I guess, as a number of people online have asked if people become more introverted with age.

The shift to introversion may be a result of the experiences older people have had and their memories of them. The mistakes they made in their lives somehow make them build a wall around themselves, not to hide themselves, but to let only a few people in – the ones they think are worth keeping. And with the wall too, they get to have more time for themselves and introspect and assess their lives.

I agree with Bernard, we should remember our mistakes. We should have memories. And we should be mindful of them. Learn from them. Or we risk making the same mistakes we did in our youth,trapped in a looped narrative and not even knowing it. That is just sad.

 

I wrote this in December 2016. I don’t remember why I didn’t post this though. Perhaps later I will re-read this and realize why I didn’t and then take it down. Lol. I’m looking forward to the next season of WW. But first, Game of Thrones! 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge 


This new bridge  over Yinjiang Road is an overpass for pedestrians. It’s not as yet operational as the workers have not finished painting. It’s just one of the many things to see in China. Here, there’s construction going on everywhere you go. 


Jimei Bridge, completed in  2008, has a total length of 10 km. It connects Xiamen Island to the mainland at Jimei District. 

This is one of my favorite photos and also the one that received the most likes in this blog so far. I took this photo as the plane from the Philippines was about to land. I left home to come to my second home. And this bridge will get me there. 
T. 💕
Weekly Photo Challenge: Bridge

Daily Prompt: Sail

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Northern Mindanao, Philippines

The last time I traveled by boat was in 2002 from Bohol, Philippines to my hometown. I was with a new friend then. We were just getting to know each other, and he was really nice. So even if it was very dark, star-less night at midnight as we hung out on the stern of the ship, and all I could see was the white foam on the big waves, I didn’t want the evening to end. (I always find it interesting looking back how when I was younger, I was not easily scared by dangerous situations — bombings, typhoons, big waves — for as long as I was with a guy I liked! How silly was that?!)

These days I would rather travel by plane than be on a ship, especially if I have to travel in the evening. I don’t care if Bradley Cooper is on the same ship, I would never travel by boat at night.

sail

Northern Mindanao, Philippines

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Don’t get me wrong. I love the sea, the ocean. See, I made this watercolor because I really like this view of a boat sailing on the sea. When I made this, I was imagining myself being on that boat watching the horizon. But now several months have passed, and I look at this again, I’m thinking that can’t be me. I’d never get on a boat alone.

 

Daily Prompt: Sail 

“Too much love will kill you” 

The title of this post is in quotation marks because it’s a reference to Queen’s song of the same title.  I was reminded of this song after I finished reading Balzac’s Father Goriot, which is such a tragic novel about a man who had spoiled his beautiful daughters, sacrificed himself for them but whom he didn’t get to even see before he died.

M. Goriot’s mistake was loving his daughters too much that he forgot to teach them what they needed to learn to be able to live independently. Perhaps his spoiling them was his way of making himself feel needed by his children for the rest of his life. And that he surely got from them — they needed and got his money until he was left with nothing except for the rags he was wearing.

One of his daughter’s, Anastasie, also made the same mistake in loving a man (not her husband) who made her happy but who was only using her to support his gambling. She gave up everything — husband, children, father, her reputation for this lover who only loved her for her money.

In a lecture by the neuroscientist, Vilayanur Ramachandran, he talks about a hypothetical situation where he, in his capacity as a neuroscientist, shows a woman the brain scan of a man who is supposed to be in love with her and which parts of the brain are activated. The woman says, “My God! Is that all? It’s all a bunch of chemicals?” Ramanchadran advises the young man to say, “My dear, this proves it’s all real. I really am in love with you. I’m not faking it….” 

Now that we know that “love” is all a bunch of chemicals, we ought to be more careful about how it controls us.

If we are aware of how our bodies are reacting to the presence of another person, and we think it is “love,” we ought to ask ourselves if this “love” is right or wrong for us and the person we “love.” If it’s only “good” for our bodies, I don’t think it’s wise to simply give in. (My friend would say, “Jeez, just don’t think!” But I say, YOU HAVE TO THINK!) 

Be it romantic love or fraternal love or paternal love, our actions should be guided by reason not just by what our bodies tell us. I know sometimes it’s easier said than done, but at least we can try.

Don’t let love kill you.😇
T. 💕

Unhappy? 


Happiness may be momentary, but then so is unhappiness. One can’t be happy every second. It’s just not possible. I’m sure even the happiest person in this world has had his/her share of heartaches.  And one can’t possibly be unhappy every second. Even the most depressed person can find something to smile about, no matter how fleeting that moment may be.

I’ve been reading Balzac’s Father Goriot, and in this novel the titular character, M. Goriot devotes his life to making his two beautiful daughters happy even if they do not really care about him. His young neighbor, Eugene, asks him why he does everything for his daughters and even live so poorly when his daughters live such extravagant lives in their luxurious homes. M. Goriot replies, “Some day you will find out that there is far more happiness in another’s happiness than in your own.”

When we truly love someone — our spouses, children, siblings, parents, friends — it makes us happy to see them happy especially if we are responsible for that happiness. It does not even matter if they consciously do something to make us happy or not, just seeing the happiness reflected in their eyes is enough.

And this is proven to me every time my son laughs or smiles at something I say or do. That look on his face and the sound of his laughter give me joy that last as long as I can recall them.

It is easy to be happy: make someone happy. 💕

Have a lovely week!

T.

Daily Prompt: Passenger

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I can see the island from here,

A part of me is eager to see

What it has to offer,

What kind of people I’ll meet.

But a voice inside me tells me,

“This island won’t be any different

From the one you just left. 

The stories you will see 

Unfold before you,

Will have the same plot,

Different characters,

But the same endings

Because you are the same you. 

Wherever you go.

Your story never changes.” 

T.

 

Daily Prompt: Passenger

Changes, Transitions and the Passing of Time

JMU at 6A.M.

Yesterday I went out for a walk at about 5:15 in the morning. These days sunrise is usually around 5:30. As most of the students have already left for the summer, the campus was blissfully quiet when I walked around.

Jimei at 6:30 P.M.

In the evening, I went out again after spending the whole day working on the computer. This time I went out of the campus. I took a picture of this new bridge that will replace the rickety temporary one that they put up after closing the old underpass, which I kind of miss because of the memory I have of the people who were always there during my first year here: the friendly fruit lady, and the old man who played the erhu, the melody of which echoed around the walls of the underpass and even above ground.

Jimei at 7:15 P.M.

Getting back to the campus, I walked towards the west side. I  took a photo of these new apartment buildings situated in what I used to think was a swamp. A taxi driver whom I’ve known for as long as I’ve been here once told us that they used to take a boat from their home on the southern part of the district to this place where these buildings are now.

For me, Jimei  has changed so much in just over a decade. For the quinquagenarians and older, even more so.

Everything changes. Everyone changes. 

All one can do is move on.

Have a lovely weekend!💕
T.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Delta