There aren't just two roads, nor three
There are as many as the people who trod them.
No matter which one we take,
We'll get to where we are meant to be
Easier for some, harder for others.
But nothing should be a surprise
To one who believes
Everything happens for a reason.
And the discerning mind
Will comprehend that reason
And journey on,
By words we learn thoughts, and by thoughts we learn life.”
—Jean Baptiste Girard
Today I went to Sunday Mass for the first time in years. In his homily the priest talked about how in the past, Christians recited the Psalms as they went about their work. For those who have not read the Psalms, these are songs that either thank or praise God, or ask for God’s mercy and protection.
The priest said the recitation of the Psalms set the tone for the Christians’ day — their faith gave them strength to continue working, gave them joy to work on their tasks. It would have been so different had they started their day by complaining as soon as they woke up, “Time to work again!”
And I quite agree.
I am a morning person, and when I see the beauty of a quiet morning, I feel so grateful for the day, and this feeling of joy and gratitude sets the tone for my day.
My day may not be perfect, and some things may annoy me, but I can always call to mind the things that I’m grateful for, and my day still ends with thanksgiving.
I know this may sound easier said than done to some people, but it is possible to be optimistic first thing in the morning and to keep that optimism at the end of the day.
Count your blessings. There’s lots of them.
I hope you find many things to be grateful for this week! 🙏
Sky, ocean touching
In the horizon, meeting.
Sky and ocean blue.
“Living well is the best revenge.” — George Herbert
I feel very fortunate to have come across this aphorism when I was relatively young. I think it was from an episode of Seinfeld that I heard it, and it was the first time it made sense to me because at that time I was rejected by someone I was madly in love with, and he had already moved on.
When I heard Seinfeld say, “The best revenge is living well,” it was like figurative scales came off my eyes, and I thought, “Why do I cry my eyes out when he is having a good time? Why do I let him know that I’m suffering when he is happy with his life? Why do I think he’ll be unhappy if I tell him I’m unhappy? He won’t! Because he doesn’t care!”
It’s amazing how an episode of a sitcom can change one’s life, but that’s what an episode of Seinfeld did for me. It made me realize that I lose if I let the one who broke my heart know that I’d become hopeless without him. I decided I was going to get my revenge by becoming a better version of myself.
A quick summary: I got over him; I’m happily married NOT to him; he and I have become best friends, me becoming his confidante for years now.
This is a lesson I always share with young friends who tell me about being betrayed or dumped by a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend, or adults who, sadly, have hatred for other people.
Harboring anger or hatred towards people is really exhausting because it takes a lot of energy which could be spent on something more productive.
Instead of spending time and energy badmouthing the person you hate or are angry with, use that time and energy trying to feel better, to look better, or to do something that will benefit you — start a hobby or a project, read that book you’ve been putting off reading for years, visit an elderly member of your family, do some gardening, exercise and lose weight and feel and look better. There are so many things worth spending your time and energy on rather than feeling angry with a person who most likely is not spending a single minute thinking of you.
In other words, LIVE WELL. Once you focus on trying to live well, one day you’ll realize that you really don’t care what the other person thinks anymore. And that is going to be such a relief.
I’ve heard angry people say they want the ones who hurt them to suffer. Anyone who was hurt has the right to feel anger, but it is also important to be aware that wishing for others to suffer simply proves that you, yourself, are suffering. Misery loves company after all.
If you let the other person know you are suffering, you lose. He wins.
Don’t let him win.
Live well. And win.
Snapped this photo earlier from behind the old wet market in my city. I make it a point to stop by this spot whenever I go there either in the early morning or late afternoon. The view never disappoints..
When burdened with life's
Unending demands, the soul
I’ve been so busy multi-tasking. Once again, I’m a full-time student and on top of that, a full-time teacher.
It’s hard to find time to be quiet when now the only reason I wake up early is to work on projects my professors have asked the class to do. Though I enjoy being a student again, I miss having some quiet time. I miss going up to my property to do gardening or just raking fallen leaves which was what kept me contentedly busy last year.
I do enjoy being busy — I feel I am learning so much from the tasks the professors assign the class; I feel productive making lessons for my own classes in the university; it makes me happy spending time with my son….
Perhaps it’s time I practice being quiet for reflection while busy working or studying. I’d probably end up more productive.
Time is precious. The earlier a person realizes that, the more certain he will be he won’t regret its passing.
How are you spending your time?
Happy Weekend! 🌹💕
Do you remember how we spent hours
Talking about everything
And laughing about nothing?
Do you remember how we walked for hours
Not really knowing where we're going
But kept walking anyway?
Do you remember walking in the rain
On a rainy April day?
Sadly, you don't.
But I do.
And it's sad when you're alone
In remembering happy times
You spent with those
Who have forgotten.
Yesterday I texted with a former co-worker who was once mistaken for my mother when she brought me to her husband’s workplace. We had not seen each other for years, and I was happy catching up with her.
When I reminded her of that time when she brought me to her husband’s workplace and the trip that we took after that which was full of hilarity, she said she had forgotten all that. And it truly made me sad, not just because she had forgotten but also because, I know, one day I will also forget.
A day will come when all those crazy things that made me laugh will be as if they never happened. My friends and I are all getting close to that time when our memories will cease to be memories. No one will remember.
The practical side of me says, “Would it matter that no one remembers when you’re already dead?” No, it wouldn’t matter when I’m dead, but right now when I’m still alive and capable of remembering, I cannot help feeling sad knowing that some of the best times I’ve had with people I care most about have been forgotten by them. Not because they don’t care but because those memories have been buried underneath newer memories and retrieving them is not as easy as it used to be when they were younger.
I, too, am guilty of forgetting many things, and I know one day I will forget walking hand in hand at the park with my husband, reading books with my son, laughing with my family, driving around the city with my best friend, having coffee with my other best friend…
These are all memories which, at the moment, I am still capable of recreating and remembering, but inevitably I will forget. C’est la vie.
When I was three and twenty
I thought I knew everything that mattered
It didn't matter that I could not find
"The value of x in an angle,"
As long as I knew who mattered in a love-triangle.
Friends came to me for advice,
I listened; I counseled
And thought I was wiser than my folks,
Who could not understand how young people thought and loved.
A score and more have passed,
And now I can find
The value of x in an angle, even in a circle!
I have learned more about the world than I did
When I was three and twenty.
But then I have also found
How cocky I was at twenty-three
Giving advice that now seem silly,
Thinking I knew better than the elderly
Whose wisdom I now think to be sound.
When you reach a certain age,
You tend to look back at your life
The same way you look down
At the view from your window seat
Thirty thousand feet above the ground.
You see the blueness of the ocean
The greeness of the mountains
And you marvel at the beauty
And feel peace emanating from within you
But then as your plane nears the city
You see the unsightly smog hovering over it,
The gray waters that surround it
Then you get a sinking feeling as the plane descends.
Memories give us the same sense --
Of happiness when we think of the good times,
Of loss and sadness when we think of the bad ones.
But we can choose to look at the amazing view from our window seat
And fasten our seat belt and look straight ahead
When the view only brings sadness.
Taking this trip feels like
Going to a battle
With only courage
As your fuel
For which you have a full tank;
Experience and knowledge --
Your only ammunition
Of which you have barely enough.
Yet you go on, you fight
On a suicide mission
For the future,
For the ones you love,
For love. For life
This latest chapter
In what has been a dull life --
Full of adventures.
In dreary darkness,
Your tender light warmly shines —
This eager soul thrives.
Different colors —
Red, yellow, green together —
Beautiful as one.
Have a beautiful weekend!
Pure and quiet air,
Water droplet on a leaf —
A blessed morning.
When your weariness
Of this long, exhausting life
Is strong — be stronger.
Others’ pain and suffering,
One shows compassion.
A blessed weekend🙏
A new day, new life
The old, pain-filled year has passed.
This new one brings hope.
I had a very busy November and December, and this busy-ness is not ending with the end of 2020. Yet, I am very grateful for so many things, and I’m sure we all can find things to be grateful for even though we may have suffered some.
But life has always been like that, hasn’t it? We win some; we lose some. We can acknowledge the pain, but we shouldn’t let it stop us from living because life isn’t all pain. There are joys, too. We just have to open our eyes and hearts to them.
Thank you for visiting my blog. I wish you and those you hold dear all the best for 2021. May we all find more reasons to be grateful in this new year. 🙏🙏🙏🙏
To keep believing
Even when things seem hopeless —
It’s faith; it’s courage.
No one goes hungry,
No one feels he’s left out —
Your soul’s true beauty
In this world is unnoticed.
But I, I see you.
No need to look far.
Just outside this old window —
The sky’s gray again.
Yellow — your brightness gladdens
A dull, lonely heart.
Outside one’s window
Is something that can give one
A reason to smile.
Have a lovely week! ♥️
I caught this caterpillar feeding and quenching its thirst this morning. It was a treat to see this.
Have a lovely week!
I took these photos the morning after an evening of heavy rain that nearly got our house flooded.
I think it’s important to find something to be grateful for and happy about after a stressful time. And the flowers in my garden give me just what I need.
Have a lovely day/evening!
Rushing like they’re in a race,
One needs to unwind.
I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to write or read (except for the news and short FB posts.)
I need to unwind, but….
This is a photo of a flower in my garden. I don’t even know what it’s called. I have to look it up. If you know its name, please let me know. 🙏
Have a great week!
This life may be hard,
But with you, this daily toil
May your days be happily spent with the ones you love. ♥️
When you love the thing
That you daily do — who says
You’re at work? Life’s fun.
Have a lovely week!
Always something new
A new leaf or a flower —
My little garden.
My mornings begin with a visit to my garden, and each time, a new bud makes me smile. How can I possibly have a bad day when my garden always gives me a reason to smile?
May our mornings always begin with a smile. ♥️
Winter’s gone for now
Once again the world is filled
With colors of life.
There’s no need to yell
I can hear you well, so well
Just please be gentle.
When I just started gardening, my aunt said to me I should talk to my plants like my late mother did. We both remember very well how my mother talked loudly to her plants — loud enough for my two then-young and naughty boy cousins who had fun “hurting” my mom’s plants. My mom would “talk” to her plants and say, “What was that? A little boy hurt you? And you’re upset?”
Now I don’t worry about kids “hurting” my plants, and I don’t talk to my plants. But recently I planted a couple of cutttings of flowering plants and I’ve been waiting to see them grow and for leaves to come out. Two days ago, I jokingly “said” to the cuttings that if they didn’t show me any sign of growing, I’d just get rid of them. The next day I saw the tiniest green thingy on the one stem, and I had to laugh. It may all be coincidence, but I was just so happy to see it.
Like I’ve written in another post, gardening takes a lot of patience, but it can also give one happiness, no matter how simple it is.
My mornings begin with a visit to my garden, and each visit is an exercise in patience and a gift of simple joy.
Your passionate love
Which you proudly say is true,
Without faith — fragile.
Strength, wisdom, kindness —
They can only come to one
Who knows quietude.
Now that I’m back home in the house where I grew up, and living with my two sisters and a nephew and my son, it is not very often that I get to find some quiet time.
I am way busier now working from home compared to working full time in China during the last 17 years, which makes me treasure more those years of solitude and reflection.
Thankfully there’s gardening and visiting my tiny garden in the morning allows me some much needed quiet moments.
After having my flight cancelled five times in the last 5 months, I decided I would not think about when I can actually go back to China and just live my life as if I’m never leaving home again. This decision led me to pick up gardening as a hobby.
Thankfully my sister had postponed throwing away our late mother’s flower pots and plants that badly needed some tending.
And tending I did!
At first my sister was doubtful about my resolve to take over our mother’s garden, but it didn’t take long for her to realize I was serious about it!
Now my morning routine has changed a little: instead of reading the news while having my morning coffee, I now visit my little garden and water some of the plants while having my morning coffee. I get to enjoy a quiet and cool morning seeing green plants (not many flowers yet), and blue sky and also hearing birds chirping.
Tending to the garden is quite relaxing and rewarding. I especially like seeing new leaves come out.
Though I miss my quiet life in China, I’m beginning to readjust to living at home again — I’m slowly finding ways to have some quiet, “me” time despite being busy every day. (I’m typing this at close to midnight.)
Gardening reminds me of the need to be patient — some plants take longer than others to grow, but they will grow if you take good care of them. And when they do, you’ll feel a certain kind of joy that those who have never planted a thing could never understand.
Just as I have to be patient with the plants growing, this pandemic has taught me and a lot of other people, I’m sure, to be more patient as well. These days there’s so much uncertainty, and things change so quickly sometimes and sometimes they don’t. All we can do to stay sane is to let things be when there’s nothing we can do about them, and to always do the best we can with those we have control over.
This is one reason I like gardening. I can plant when I want and feel I have accomplished something when the plants grow. I have control.
I hope you find something to make you feel good about yourself every single day. 🙏
When kids your age were running,
You were just learning to walk.
When kids your age were talking,
You just uttered your first word.
When kids your age could bounce a ball
You just learned how to throw.
Don’t worry, son.
Life is a game
Not just for the fastest,
The strongest, or the smartest
But for the ones with the most patience as well.
And we have a lot of that stuff.
We’ll get there.
Days after he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, Albert Camus wrote a letter to his elementary school teacher to thank him for the kindness shown him as a pupil. I was reminded of this letter today when I read this article. (Link opens another tab.)
The letter in turn reminded me of one kind deed that my late aunt (my late uncle’s wife) showed me on my birthday when I was still 9 or 10 years old. I have many memories of my childhood, both sad and happy ones, but the memory of my aunt giving me money and kissing me on the cheek on my birthday because she said I looked so sad (and I was because my parents had nothing special to give me then!) is still as vivid in my mind as on the day it happened.
It seems to me a kindness shown a child remains in their memory long after they grow up and become adults themselves.
Camus’ gratitude, my own experience of remembering my aunt’s kindness and also reading the testimony of Dr. Herzenstube’s at the trial in The Brothers Karamazov, when he recounted how Dmitry as a grown man had stopped by his office to thank him for giving him (Dmitry), a pound of nuts when he was only a kid – these convince me that when you show a child kindness, they will never forget it and will remain grateful for it for the rest of their lives.
Some may say, this world can show many adults who had received kindness from their parents yet are ungrateful to them. Perhaps so, but the kindness or love from parents are to be expected because the parents had brought their children to this world. It is when the kindness is unexpected that the impact is stronger and therefore unforgettable.
Camus’ teacher was not family; Dr. Herzenstube was not family to Dmitry; my aunt was family, but not my parent, and she had her own 7 children! They did not have to do what they did; but they did it, and that’s what made the children who were recipient of their kindness, remember them well for, into their adult lives.
A child never forgets an unexpected act of kindness. Be kind to a child when you see one. You’ll never know when this child will show you his gratitude.
Here is Camus’ letter to his elementary school teacher:
Dear Monsieur Germain,
I let the commotion around me these days subside a bit before speaking to you from the bottom of my heart. I have just been given far too great an honor, one I neither sought nor solicited. But when I heard the news, my first thought, after my mother, was of you. Without you, without the affectionate hand you extended to the small poor child that I was, without your teaching and example, none of all this would have happened. I don’t make too much of this sort of honor. But at least it gives me the opportunity to tell you what you have been and still are for me, and to assure you that your efforts, your work, and the generous heart you put into it still live in one of your little schoolboys who, despite the years, has never stopped being your grateful pupil. I embrace you with all my heart.
You’re not the kindest,
Nor the sweetest, gentlest one —
But you’re you — perfect!
Locked in by someone,
One desires freedom; locking
Oneself in — tragic.
Early morning rain
Kissing away last night’s sins —
Blessing this new day.
Unreachable — but this soul
In this deep darkness
Is hope and faith that I’ll find
You — my light, my guide.
This week Patti challenges us to show how we crop pictures we took, and for people like me who don’t know much about photography, the explanation/reason she gives for cropping her photos, are really helpful.
Before the crop:
As I am not quite good at focus, almost all pictures I take get cropped!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!🌹
Those delightful words
That escape your teasing lips —
Unhealthily sweet. 😛
Not a soul in sight,
No water to quench the thirst,
A bird sings — comfort!
A subtle, gentle touch,
A softly whispered secret —
A memory kept.
Stretching, bending lines,
Curves, graceful and lithe those limbs —
Quiet dance with time.
Your sweet smile, laughter —
Who knows why? I hope to see
What you see — someday.
My son has a very infectious smile and laughter. Most of the time though, we don’t know what makes him smile or laugh. We are just happy to see him happy.
Sometimes he makes me say, “dinosaur” and then, “roar!” And that’s enough to make him smile as he walks away from me.
If only our joys could be as simple.
The other day, I got a message from Ahmed asking if I could help promote the comic book he created which features a superhero with Autism. This project aims to spread awareness about Autism. It’s called The Epics of Enkidu. You can click the link to learn more about the project.
Like these solid blocks,
Colorful — the life you’ve lived.
Yet it was all a game.
Heart pounding, pounding
Wishing it had not ended,
That sweetest of dreams.
This year is the 14th year my husband and I have been married. It may not be that long for those who have been married for at least two decades, but I am grateful we have come this far and are as committed to each other as we were on our wedding day.
As I reflect on my marriage, I feel so grateful that my husband still has the patience to stay married to me. I joked about it with my Facebook friends, but in all honesty, I really am grateful. I am not a very easy person to live with — I can be really mean to my husband, but we do find more reasons to laugh about with each other than reasons for meanness.
I don’t think there’s really any special secret to a lasting marriage — friendship and commitment are all that’s needed.
One wilting in thirst.
Early morning touch
Of the rain on soft petals —
Reminder of a kiss.
If I lose you now,
I’d rather have memories
Of you all erased.
Though I prefer to remember everything I’ve ever gone through — even embarrassing, painful ones, I can understand those who would rather forget.
This week Tina’s challenge is to post “wet images.” I don’t have a lot of those, except for the ones below taken on a rainy day.
“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
“And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.” — Gilbert K. Chesterton
“One can find so many pains when the rain is falling.” — John Steinbeck
A tiny detail
Often unnoticed, sometimes
Makes a thing complete.
Supple body, mind
These ephemeral presents —
Quickly lost in time.
Distance hardens not
The hearts that hear each other’s
Beating though apart.
May your love grow strong though this pandemic keeps you physically apart. ♥️🙏
One tries to be strong,
Facing this frightening storm —
Fearlessness is strength.
May you find the strength to face the storms in your life. 🙏🌹♥️
For this life, for love,
For the pain and the lessons —
This heart is grateful.
May your soul find peace,
May your memories of love
Come back, make you smile.
A flower, a book,
A walk by the lake, a look —
Memories — a list.
I’ve been long at sea,
Tossed by indifferent waves,
Then I see you — hope!
Oh how I long to be
Above you again, looking
Down. Proud. In rapture.
Storms have come and gone,
Yet you and I,here, still stand
Always one — a team.
Brazen you, you try
To open what’s long been shut —
The secret, hidden.
Not a boring sight,
No silly words. Everything
With you, is magic.
Not just this bleeding
Heart or this aching body —
Me. All of me — yours.
This week Amy challenges us to post pictures of home.
For years after my father died, my mother was the core of our home — everything planned or decided depended on what was good for her. This was especially true in her last years. Because I worked away from home and only came to visit twice a year, home was my mother.
Though she has passed on, we still keep some of the stuff that was part of her daily routine — such as her rosary beads which she prayed daily, twice a day.
Now that she’s gone, the attention has shifted to the young ones — my son and my nephews.
Where home in the past was the sight of my mother praying and the sound of her voice directing the cleaning of the house, these days it’s the sound of my son’s endless chatter and the banging on (not really playing) the (not computer) keyboard, ukulele and of course the sound of my voice constantly reminding him to quiet down.
Our home is probably the noisiest in our community (thankfully we are all relatives — all first cousins who understand– living in separate detached houses), but for as long as my son is happily noisy making what he thinks is music, I’m fine with it.
A once selfish soul
Wished death. But you came — your life,
This love — elixir!
I played a love song —
Melancholic melody —
Hoping your heart hears.
Simple scribbled word
On unpretentious paper —
A note makes one’s day.
It does not take much to put a smile on someone’s face — a very simple gesture of kindness or thoughtfulness can do that. A text message asking how somebody’s day went can make that person feel that someone cares. A flower picked from the garden to give a family member one is stuck at home with, can most likely brighten that person’s day.
We do not need to do something “big” to prove we care and make someone happy.
Sometimes a simple note on a Post-It can do the trick.
This music of us has risen
To a crescendo.
So deftly played by your hands —
Makes music of love.
In this unfriendly
And chaotic world of mine,
Your calm voice — music.
When love unites two,
In time Two won’t be enough.
Then there will be three.
Leaving or moving —
A new place, different faces —
One remains the same.
In the distance — sounds carried
By the morning breeze.
Thank you, Ann-Christine, for this week’s theme for the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge.
Have a lovely weekend!
Not the thousand miles
Between us dividing us —
Pride in a sad soul.
Though painfully slow
Almighty Time seems to pass,
You’ll surely get there.
Whether we like it or not, time goes by. And we’ll get to where we are supposed to be whether we like it or not.
We can’t stop Almighty Time from passing.
Discover Prompts, Day 16
A walk down the shore,
Cool breeze blowing — ocean scent
Leads to thoughts of you.—–
Discover Prompts, Day 15
Overtakes the weary soul,
Be still — till strength comes.
Have a lovely week !
I did not participate in the LAPC Challenge for months because of my very busy schedule, but today I am able to squeeze in some time to write a post and John’s chosen theme is something that most of us, I’m sure, can easily find photos for as there are many places we would like to revisit or imagine revisiting at this time when we cannot travel to any place outside our home cities.
The first place I would really go to again as soon as travel bans are lifted is Jimei, where my husband has been living all alone for three months now after my son and I left. Jimei has been my second home for over 17 years, and this is the longest I’ve been away.
Last year, I was so lucky I got to see the U.S. of A. for the first time, and before the virus broke out. I got to see New York and Boston and enjoyed every minute of it. I was looking forward to seeing Washington, DC and Maryland in June this year, but I guess it’s not meant to be.
The one other place I would really love to visit again is South Korea, not just for the place but to see my best friend again.
I hope we all get to travel again soon, and have the chance to revisit places we love and create new memories.
Have a lovely week!
Songs that made cry,
They remind me of the pain.
The heart hurts no more.
Leaves one wondering, waiting.
Slow or quick — time flies.
No ships, buses, trains;
Planes stop flying — quiet reigns.
A blessed Good Friday to all.
These thoughts, these wishes —
Unspoken yet deeply felt,
Towards you, they fly.
My last post wasn’t very optimistic, so despite my busy schedule, I am determined to write another one just to do my share of encouraging anyone who reads this, to have hope and to always look forward to seeing the light at the end of the tunnel; and more importantly, to cherish this time when you CAN stay at home and prepare your meals and/or sleep in instead of rushing to work without breakfast.
I, too, cherish this time when I can be with my son for a much longer time — we’ve been together since December 23rd when I came home, and then we left for China and stayed there for a little over 2 weeks, and then came back home on the 11th of January. My flight was cancelled three times; I rebooked 3 times. Finally a couple of days ago, I just asked for a refund.
With the “community quarantine” order in our city, classes have been cancelled; malls have been closed; public transportation, suspended. Thankfully, being at home all day has not really affected my 9-year old son that much. He has not gone to school or to his occupational and speech therapies for almost a month now, but simply having all of us at home — me, my two sisters and my 17-year-old nephew — is enough to make him happy. He does speaking, reading and writing activities with my sister, and PE activities with my nephew. Having my sisters and nephew at home allows me to do my online teaching for the university. Though I am way busier now than if I were back in China teaching in a classroom, I am grateful for the time I get to spend with my son and be able to contribute to the progress he makes by reading to him, talking and playing with him.
This is not the first pandemic the world has seen, and it probably wouldn’t be the last. But humanity survived previous pandemics when they did not have as much means to fight the enemy as we do now with advances in science and technology; when they did not have as easy a means to share information as we do now. I don’t think it is a false hope that we will overcome this one.
So believe that things will be better because they will. And in the meantime, focus on the many things you can do while stuck at home — because if you really look, you’ll find there are many tasks just waiting to be done that you have not been able to do because you had to go to work. Now is the time.
May you always find a reason to be hopeful and grateful.
This photo was taken exactly a month ago when my family went to a park. Back then we never thought it would be sometime before we could go out for a stroll again. Our city has been under a “community quarantine” for almost three weeks now. My sister, my nephew and my son have not left our house for almost a month now. I get to go out for essentials.
The streets are eerily quiet; most businesses are closed. The streets and the air are much cleaner, but somehow it is not easy to enjoy the quiet and the clean air when you are very much aware of how people who have lost their jobs are suffering and fearing for their future.
These are very uncertain times.
When I left China in early January, I thought I would be back in two weeks. Now, it’s almost three months that I have not seen my husband, and we still do not have any idea when we will see each other again, or when he will see our son again. Sure, technology allows us to talk with each other everyday, but we all know the limits of technology.
Perhaps it will be sometime before our world goes back to normal. Even then, it will probably be a different normal.
The only certainty is: life goes on. Sadly not for everyone; but for humanity as a whole, it goes on and will continue to go on.
Wishing you a peaceful weekend.
My son was only 5 months old when we took a 1-hour and 20-minute flight to Manila and then a 2-hour international flight. I don’t remember him ever crying on the plane.
For the next five years, we flew an average of 8 flights a year, and though there were a couple of times he did not want to sit during takeoff or landing, most of the time he behaved himself well. The bigger he is getting though, the more worried I become about travelling with him because of how he behaves, not in the plane, but in the airport where he loves running around. But so far, for the past 9 years, I have always been grateful at the end of each trip that both of us made it to our destination safe and sound.
Going through security check
I can’t remember what year the pat down at the airport that we often go through started, but when it did my son who, back then (ages 4-7) was easily scared by strangers who tried to touch him, would scream and try to run when an officer approached him. A couple of times, a supervising officer yelled at me to hold my son and calm him down even after I explained that he was autistic. That was 4 or 5 years ago, and the officers doing the security check have since become more understanding and crouch down to my son’s eye level and do the check while I rhythmically say “pat, pat, pat, pat” with him. Whew.
In December last year, we took a train to another city and also took the subway several times which meant going through security checks several times. By the time we had to take a flight home, he had gotten so used to the pat down that it didn’t bother him anymore.
Practice makes perfect.
Gadgets and toys
Unless he is very sleepy or very tired, my son would never sleep while traveling. He likes being in a car, train, bus or plane and look outside the window, singing. But if there is nothing interesting to see, then that’s when he asks for the iPad. I always make sure the gadgets are fully charged whenever we travel because some planes still do not have power outlets/USB ports in the seats.
My son always needs to have something in his hands to play with and always wants to be chewing or biting something. He started biting his hands and fingers about a year ago, so we bought him chewy tubes which have been a blessing. Fidget spinners have also been a huge help in keeping his hands busy.
These three things I never forget to bring when I travel with my son: iPad, fidget spinner and Chewy Tubes.
Each child on the spectrum has his/her own specific needs, and perhaps your child does not need a fidget spinner or a chewy tube, but the point is, apart from packing food, always remember to pack something to keep your child occupied. Traveling with a child on the spectrum does not have to be stressful, and it is good to let them experience traveling as often as possible so they will get used to it. The only way they will learn to cope with the difficulties of traveling is by actually doing it. It may be stressful for the family at first, but in time, the child will learn. It needs a lot of patience, but things will be better.
Experience is key.
Keeping the child at home to avoid embarrassment is not helping anyone, especially the child with special needs.
This is my son’s latest “abstract painting.” When I woke up the morning after he painted this, I thought it looked like a forest is burning, so now I call it “Burning Forest.”
I honestly don’t think he had a forest in mind. As usual he was just playing with the brush. But my husband and I were quite happy with the result and now it’s hanging on our wall.
I had planned to let my son stay with us in China for a month in January but disappointed by my husband’s busy schedule at work, I decided to bring my son home after two weeks. Looking back, I think it was one of the best decisions I have ever made in my life — a blessing in disguise. I don’t know how I would have handled the situation if I and my 9-year-old son with ASD were stranded in China or quarantined!
As it is, we have a longer break from work which means longer time spent with my son, but my husband is all alone in our apartment back in China. I try not to worry but can’t help when I read the news or hear about what’s happening from people who are in the country.
Still I’m optimistic that there’s an end to this, and it will end soon.
I am hoping and praying for it, especially because the people I am praying for do not believe in a power stronger than they are.
So much has happened in the weeks I have not posted on my blog, some I am so eager to share but can’t find time to write as I am busy being a full-time mom. I look forward to writing again and also reading posts from blogs I follow, but right now it is so difficult to find time when I’m home and fulfilling my roles as mother, sister and aunt. As always, family comes first.
I hope you are doing well. Thanks for visiting my blog.
I’ve been busy flying and being a full-time mom since Christmas. Hopefully I’ll have some time to write when I fly home again later this week.
I wish you all the most peaceful and fulfilling 2020! 🙏🏽🎉
Come, you’ll find shelter
And warmth in my loving arms.
Here with me, you’re safe.
Fine purple petals
Gracefully fall from their tree
Masking homely earth.
In the midst of all
This life’s hustle and bustle —
Silence from within.
After spending a couple of hours marking papers in McDonald’s (I can’t work at home as I’m always tempted to do something else like doing laundry instead of marking papers!) I went to my favorite noodles shop which was noisy as it was lunch time. Traditional Chinese music blaring from the speakers, a group of young women at a table behind me talking loudly, buses, cars and motorcycles driving past, some honking — so much activity and noise, loud noise.
But as soon as I started thinking of the issue that I’ve spent months thinking about — all those sounds went away. My eyes were only perceiving the movements not quite different from a boring, black-and-white silent movie.
I was figuratively alone in a figuratively quiet but in reality very noisy place.
This made me think of most people’s capacity to tune out noise or to tolerate minor irritants if they truly want to and try. I am saying most people because I believe most of us actually have this capacity to do so, but perhaps there are many who just refuse to even try. And of course there are those who have some sensory or emotion regulation problems who literally cannot stand certain irritants (like my autistic son who does not mind loud music but cries and gets angry when he hears other children crying!)
I have heard and read numerous accounts of people complaining about babies crying during a flight, especially a long haul one. Some reactions and suggestions offered I find quite unhelpful and extremely unsympathetic. I understand that there are parents (or grandparents!) accompanying children on a flight who may not be bothered by the child’s crying and do not care that other passengers are bothered by it. I honestly think these people are in the minority though. Most parents or caregivers on the flights I’ve been on (and I fly several times a year) do try to get the child to be quiet. But yes, there are those who don’t, and their indifference is more annoying than the child’s behavior.
As I said, I have read reactions and comments that are quite unhelpful or are extremely unsympathetic to parents who do try their best to calm down their child (and I believe they do because, let’s be honest, no sane parent loves to hear his/her child cry or be noisy.) Some people said: babies should not be allowed on a flight. This is very unhelpful because these people who complain do not know why the family are traveling. One never knows unless one asks why somebody is traveling — maybe for a holiday, or maybe to see a doctor. But one doesn’t even have to know — everyone has the right to fly and they are paying for it like everyone else.
I have taken several flights with my son, and thankfully he has always behaved himself (we have 2 flights coming I hope I don’t jinx them!) Even as a baby (at 5 months was when he had his first flight), he never cried. But also as a parent, I have always prepared for our flights — toys and gadgets to keep him occupied (I am also lucky that my flights with him are no longer than 2 hours.) However there are babies and young children who are really bothered by ear pressure during flight and parents who do not know how to deal with it. (click here for Tips) When I travel domestically, I usually say something to the parents (fellow Filipinos), “Maybe baby needs his bottle or pacifier?” but in international flights, I tend to keep quiet as the culture is, “Mind your own business.”
There are misbehaving children with parents who let them be and there are babies who cry whose parents just let them be. But there are lots of good parents who do try their best and babies who, for whatever reason, just cry! I hope we can be more sympathetic. We were all babies once — were we always so angelic?
So going back to my main idea — we are capable of tuning out noise or tolerating minor irritants. We surely can if we truly want to and just try. We do not even need noise-cancelling headsets to do this. To prove this, pay attention to how you sometimes tune out your best friend when he’s going on and on about something you’ve already heard a thousand times. That easy.
These — our memories
Are all that’s left of the past.
No, we can’t go back.
“THE WORDS THAT NEVER GET SPOKEN to a loved one will remain inside of you always. They become part of your inner dialog, emerging periodically to your consciousness like buried treasure, whenever you think of that person who is no longer in your life.”
These lines from moviejoltz’s review of Ad Astra made me want to watch the movie, and I did. When I first heard of this Brad Pitt movie, I was not keen on watching it because I am not a Brad Pitt fan. But after watching this movie, I can honestly say I like how Brad Pitt played his character, Roy McBride, so well that I forgot him as an actor and just saw Roy the cold and lonely astronaut.
All throughout the movie, the character’s isolation, loneliness is apparent even in his smile, in his politeness and composure, and that isolation/loneliness has been brought on by the uncertainty of the fate of his father who had left earth and never came back.
There are three themes that made me like this movie: one-sided devotion, stubborn pursuit of a dream, and attitudes toward failure and success.
How many of us, in our youth, have experienced being devoted to somebody — spending day and night thinking about that person, wondering what they were doing that very minute and if they were thinking about us too. Then we find out that that somebody has been living their life and has not had time to think about us. Roy, in his 40’s, had not been able to fully live his life as the pain of losing his father in his youth had somehow made him build an emotional fortress around himself making him stoic in the face of many challenges. Then when he finally saw his father again, he realized how all these years when he thought his father was dead without being able to say goodbye, his father was alive and consumed by his dream of finding intelligent life in another planet, with not much room in his mind for his only child. Yet Roy as a grown man, only remembered his father’s words, “I love you, son” and told his father, “I still love you, dad.”‘ He was a young man when his father left him, and his heart remained a young man when he saw his father again, still filled with love for the father who had abandoned him.
Clifford McBride’s stubbornness in pursuing his dream of finding intelligent life in another planet even though it was already clear that there was none, is no different from the many different people’s insistence on finding something that is not there or achieving something that is obviously unachievable. Where some people easily give up on their dreams, others, for whatever reason, will fight to the end achieving that dream even if it meant leaving everything else that used to mean something to them — even family. And Clifford McBride did just that, in the end he lost everything but the love of his son, which would have been enough but sadly, it wasn’t for him.
One of my favorite scenes in the movie is the conversation between Roy and his father when his father finally admitted to Roy that he had failed in finding intelligent life in Neptune, to which Roy answered: “You didn’t. We’re all we’ve got.” And this shows a very clear contrast in the way the two men viewed failure and success. The father viewed “not finding” a failure. He could not see that the proof that there’s none is a form of success. But his son did. (If you’ve ever read my Not About Me page, this is exactly how I view my “failures” in life.)
After watching this movie I said to my husband, this story would still be good if it were set on earth, and not in space. Instead of flying from earth to the moon, from the moon to Mars, then Neptune, Roy could have traveled from California to Maryland, or from Kansas to Uganda. But then the title wouldn’t be AD ASTRA which is Latin for “To the stars,” from the expression “Ad astra per aspera” (literally, to the stars through difficulties.) Roy literally went to the stars through numerous difficulties which he all amazingly overcame. But then again, because it is set in outer space which involves a lot of science stuff, I simply focused on the drama part of the story and was not concerned about whether the science of it was right or wrong.
This is the first Brad Pitt movie that I have watched and truly liked, and one I don’t mind watching again.
Life wouldn’t be life
Without smiles that often come
After bitter tears.
Your sweet love is sweet
Sweet as the sweets that one chews
Til it’s sweet no more.
In response to Amy’s challenge this week, I am using photos I’ve taken in our local supermarket. Two of my favorite fruits are in this collection — mangoes and durian! Yes, durian! I know, for sure, most people dislike the smell of durian, but let me tell you, I love it! And the smell of it makes my mouth water. Lol.
Durian ice cream, durian smoothie, durian cheesecake….
I love durian.
So for this photo challenge, I am also challenging you to be brave and give durian a try! 😉
Arise! The sun is up.
Come and see what daylight brings.
Come! Beauty awaits.
I am a morning person, but my husband isn’t. But once in a while I can get him to go out for a walk with me early in the morning.
This morning we had beautiful weather at 15C (59F) and walking past the lake I spied an egret (one of the few who haven’t migrated south). To me it was a beautiful sight, and made me smile. (I know I sound like a drama queen, but it is that easy to make me feel happy!)
And it came to me that there’s so much beauty to see early in the morning that people fail to see because they are still in bed. I feel lucky to be able to see and be touched by such a simple sight.
I hope you find something to make you smile today.
Be still, remember —
Though this life’s rough winds shake you
This storm shall pass.
Soft and mellow light
Shines gently on this lonely,
If I could I would,
Paint the best picture of how
I remember you.
Leaving the office today, I looked up at the sky and saw the clouds. I wanted to capture the image of the tree with the clouds as the background, and the result is, to me, much nicer than I imagined. To me, it looks like something I would really like to paint, if only I could!
Everything’s the same
The view, the sounds and the breeze —
But now there’s just me.
A humble haiku version of one of my favorite poems, Absence by Elizabeth Jennings.
Last night, for the first time in a long, long time, my husband and I went out to attend a party. This time it was at the Kempinski Hotel. It felt good to go out again and relive those evenings many years ago when we used to go out with friends more often without worrying about adult stuff.
But those night outs aren’t what I’m nostalgic about.
It’s Christmas. Kempinski had nice Christmas trees both in the lobby and outside the hotel, and I felt like a kid again excited about Christmas!
And Christmas always brings me back to my childhood when our Christmas tree was small and simple and the Christmas presents we got from our parents were not expensive, but we had the tradition of getting up at dawn to go to Mass at 4:30 in the morning (Misa de Gallo, literally Rooster’s Mass). Yes, you read that right. 4:30 in the morning which meant waking up an hour earlier before that to wash up and have something hot to drink!
You would think we were unhappy to be woken up that early, but we were actually pretty excited to hear our mother whispering our names to wake us up.
We then walked to church (a 10-minute walk from our house) and would see other churchgoers walking. During Mass, my sisters and I often dozed off especially during homily, but would once again perk up just before the singing of the Lord’s Prayer as it meant close to Communion and the end of the Mass.
After Mass, we would walk to the bakery and buy pan de sal for breakfast.
Life was so simple yet we were happy.
If only I could be a child again, and have my parents worry about things that only adults worry about.
Tiny Christmas tree in my apartment in Xiamen
Weary from this world
Where no one can give comfort,
One sits in a tree.
As a child, I loved climbing trees. There used to be guava trees in front of our house before my uncle built his house there and a java apple fruit tree behind one of my aunts’ house, which is behind our house. My grandfather made sure all his 8 children lived in the same place, so where I grew up there are 7 detached houses where my mother and her siblings had built their homes.)
My sisters, cousins and I used to climb the trees in the afternoons and sit on the branches (we were all young and thin!) and pick fruits. We were all pretty good at climbing back then. (I can probably still climb but I don’t think any of my sisters or cousins will dare! Lol!)
So whenever I see a tree, I judge it as being climbable or not. Part of me really wants to climb when I see street trees (here they are mango trees) , but living in the city, I don’t want to embarrass myself. A couple of years ago, I went to visit my former professor and he had a very climbable tree in his yard, so I asked if I could climb and sit in it. Being eccentric himself, he said, “Why not?” So, I did!
Sitting in a tree gives me a wonderful feeling of being safe and worry-free, especially when I hear the rustle of the leaves when the wind blows.
At my age now, I see a lot of trees that were I ten years younger, I would consider climbable, but can only look at with a sigh. I wish I could teach my son to climb a tree. That would probably need hundreds more of occupational therapy sessions, but who knows.
Today I read a passage about following rules to show one’s faith or having passion about your faith. The writer didn’t like the idea that rules, after being observed mechanically “can be followed with minimal effort and almost no thought.” Passion is deemed more important.
This made me think about how people often prefer the definition of love as an emotion, particularly passion, rather than as commitment, especially in marriage.
Emotions are unreliable.
You cannot force yourself to be passionate about something. You cannot will passion. But you can will yourself to do something even if you have no passion for it.
Marriage is not for grown ups who think like kids. They are not for people who think of their partners as toys they can get rid of once they lose interest in it and find it boring.
Growing up with a mother who had no qualms talking about her problems with her then young daughters, I knew from a young age that marriage had its ups and downs (especially because my mother was such a drama queen and I say that with no disrespect but with a fondness for her whom I miss every day still, even years after she passed on.) There were days when she and my father were this sweet couple, slow dancing to a Nat King Cole song. And there were days she did not speak to him at all
Had my parents given up on each other after their first or hundredth fight, I wouldn’t have been here in this world. And my mother wouldn’t have been there holding my father’s hand on the night he died.
They were married 35 years and were each other’s best friend. I know there were times they both felt they could no longer stand each other, probably questioned whether they still loved each other whenever they had a fight, but as devout Catholics in a country with no divorce laws, they remained committed to staying together, if not for themselves, then for their daughters. And it was the right decision to stay together as they became even closer after my father was diagnosed with a heart disease. My mother took very good care of my father in the last few years of his life, and mourned him for a long time after he died. Even though she complained about my father so many times whenever they fought, when he died, she just remembered how good my father was to her.
If we only rely on our emotions, none of our relationships will be safe from falling apart. Rules may be rigid, but they can help us from going astray. Passions will fade, but if two people in a relationship are both committed to each other, then they will work to keep that relationship strong.
“Into each life, some rain must fall.– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
It’s that time of year again — cold and raining. And the thoughts that crossed my mind last year, surfaced again this year as I walked by the lake and felt the cold wind on my skin.
Funny how such ordinary things as the rustling of leaves, the breeze on one’s skin, the chirping of birds can bring back a flood of memories — all those feelings from years ago come back and seem so fresh. Yet, you are brought back to reality as soon as you tell yourself, “That was then, this is now. And now you are wasting time and energy thinking about it.”
My best friend has told me many times I think too much of the past, that the future is more important. Maybe so.
But one has no control over what comes to mind, or does one? I can shake off thoughts that come to mind, but there is no way I can stop these thoughts from entering my mind. Even saying, “I will not think about it,” is proof that I AM thinking about it.
Walking in the winter rain does this to me all the time — full of drama in the head. But this too shall pass.
Hope you have a lovelier weather than what I have in my neck of the woods.
Day and night she spins,
Weaving an intricate design
Borne of human pride.
I don’t have a picture of a spider or a spider’s web, so this handwoven straw fan would have to do. It probably wasn’t human pride that led the maker of this fan to become a weaver, and no Athena to punish her, but like Arachne, he/she has to work hard.
For a long time I had insomnia. Even though I was physically exhausted, I couldn’t sleep and kept tossing and turning in bed. When sleep finally came to me, there was probably only an hour before the alarm had to go off.
Family and friends told me to stop drinking coffee, but I wouldn’t hear of it — how could I function without my morning coffee?
But then it got to a point that I was so desperate for sleep that I finally decided to switch to decaf in the morning. Surprisingly, I was fine! I didn’t feel any different; I’m a morning person and even without my regular blend, I went to work full of energy. And I had a really good sleep that night as well.
That’s how I was convinced to make the switch to decaf.
However, what I want to understand is why did my body all of a sudden become overly sensitive to my beloved coffee?
Is it because I have changed my diet? I seldom eat red meat or drink soda or sugary drinks now. I haven’t had red meat in almost a year, soda in over a year!
Is it because of age?
I am still searching for the answer but grateful that now I can sleep again.
If you’re reading this because you have trouble sleeping, perhaps you can try changing something in your diet. Or habit.😉
Something, someone new
Means a chance for excitement
To once lonely hearts.
Patti’s chosen theme this week is “Abstract.” And I’m taking that literally by posting pictures of my then 7-year old autistic son’s watercolor “painting.”
I have no idea what he was thinking about when he played with the brush, but I treasure these literally abstract exercises of my minimally verbal son.
The one above just got a title, “Raining Down.” Thanks to Ann-Christine at Leya. 😁
Yes, you have moved on —
Grateful for every minute
Your poor heart forgets.
A flower loses
A pretty, tiny petal —
With a grateful heart
The soul can find more blessings,
Joys more than sorrows.
Passions in people,
But as flowers — wilt.
As the sun sets down
Below the horizon again,
The yearning begins.
The roughness of scars
Those deep, painful wounds have left —
Enough proof of strength.