Outside one’s window
Is something that can give one
A reason to smile.
Have a lovely week! ♥️
Have a lovely week! ♥️
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.
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.
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.
May you find something to make you smile today!
Have a wonderful week!
Recently I was told by someone they couldn’t believe I am friends with one of my best friends when we are so different from each other. What did we talk about?
I wasn’t able to give an answer that satisfied them (they have asked me this at least twice), so I got to thinking , why indeed?
The answer really is, we have known each other for years, and in those years we have talked a lot about everything — politics, religion, philosophy, music, movies, our families, our work, our worries and fears, things and people we love and hate — I can’t think of anything we have not talked about.
Isn’t that how friendships are formed?
We become friends with people who may seem different from us at first, but when we spend time to get to know them and for them to know us, we find that underneath the unimportant differences, we have more in common in our hopes and dreams, joys and sadness — in our humanity.
All it takes is listening: we listen to them, and they listen to us.
“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” — Aristotle
My three best friends and I may have very different temperaments, and we disagree with each other on so many things — but we respect each other’s views and accept each other as a friend with different views on things.
“A wise man gets more use from his enemies than a fool from his friends.” — Baltasar Gracian
What I am most grateful for in my friendship with my 3 best friends is that they all have taught me, at different periods in my life, something that I find valuable, useful.
Apart from my son, these three have helped shape me into the person that I am now — one that is still not perfect but one that I like and respect.
Wouldn’t you feel blessed to have such friends?
Have a peaceful weekend!
May you find yourself a happy home. 💕
I love looking up at the sky, whether in the day time or at night. I often wonder what it’s like up there looking down, (which is why I follow NASA and the International Space Station on social media.)
To me the sky or whatever is up (or out) there is magical.
Sometimes when I am going through a difficult time, I only have to go to a quiet place — by the lake, on a quiet beach, or my balcony and look up at the sky and remind myself of the vastness of the universe and the minuteness of my life and worries.
Now isn’t that cure magical? 😉
Have a lovely week!
Three years ago this month, I lost my mother. And every year this month, I buy flowers (pictured below) that I put next to her photograph. Every year in March, as I look at both flowers and my mom’s photograph, I am reminded of the uncertainty of life, of its ephemerality and the sadness that comes with being left behind by those who go before us.
This month my musing on the transiency of life is made even sadder by the thought of 2 of my best friends facing serious illnesses. My 3 best friends, unlike me who wanted to die at 20, have always wanted to live long, happy, healthy lives.
For the lovers of life, I hope you never lose that WILL to live even when doctors give you that diagnosis that sounds like a death sentence. I hope in your heart will burn that desire to prove the doctors wrong and that you “RAGE against the dying of the light.” ♥️
by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Yesterday I saw a video called “Life Lessons from 100-Year-Olds,” and it brought tears to my eyes. If you have time, watch it. I’m sure everyone can learn a thing or two from these centenarians.
I think it was fortuitous to have seen that video on the last day of the year, as it reminded me to look back at my own life during the past year (well, I am always looking back, lol) and to count my blessings and be grateful even though 2018 saw me inwardly distraught about a number of things that I could not talk about with loved ones, as I do not want to spread negative vibes.
Today is the first day of 2019. I will try my very best to continue to be grateful and to believe that everything will be all right.
I hope you do as well.
Happy New Year!🎉💕
Taiwushan Cemetery, Kinmen, Taiwan
In general, there are two kinds of people according to how they view their life: those who continually search for meaning and purpose in life, and those who don’t. These two kinds of people come to the same end, however. They die. We die. But that time just before death is where the dying differ. Those who believe (even without any real proof) that they have found meaning and fulfilled their purpose in life, pass confidently though sadly, and those who feel they have unfulfilled promises or dreams or tasks left undone, leave bitterly.
In my lifetime, I have seen enough number of dying people to see this. It is always sad as I know it is the fate of each and every one of us.
Ishiguro’s “Never Let Me Go” reminds me of that sadness I feel when pondering on the fate of human beings. At first I found this novel disturbing and then extremely sad; and only today, two days after I finished reading the novel, did I finally realize what I found so sad about it.
It is not that the “students” unquestioningly accept their fate of dying young because they are mere clones, created to become organ donors.
It is not that despite their being more humane than the humans who created and raised them, the latter are repulsed by them.
Rather it is that human beings despite their being “superior” to the clones, are ignorant of the real meaning and purpose of their existence, while the clones aren’t. Hence, the former can face death which they aptly call “completing” without fear or regret, albeit with a little sadness. Ishiguro found the perfect word to call death in this novel. When the clones die from having donated their organs, it is because they have accomplished or “completed” the purpose of their existence.
There are people who are convinced that they know their purpose for being in this world – they have faith or they make up their own purpose, but is it really the real purpose for our existence? How will we know for sure?
This is why I envy the clones in the novel, at least there is no doubt in their heads why they exist. For somebody outside looking in, it is a very sad existence, but the “students” in Hailsham had a happy childhood, lots of fun memories, and there was no question in their head as to what was going to happen to them, how their lives would end. As for us, humans, though we know our time is limited, and we attach all kinds of meaning or purpose for our lives, in the end we are all Jon Snow.
We know nothing.
Last month, my son, E. had a two-week vacation in China with us. Before we enrolled him in a school for special needs in the Philippines, he spent most of the first 5 years of his young life in China and probably considers it his real home. This vacation was going to be different from last year’s because this time he would see his nainai (paternal grandmother) again after two years.
My husband had thought E. would not recognize her anymore, yet when I told E. that his nainai had arrived, he rushed to the door and had the sweetest smile on his face when he saw her. He reached out his little arms to her, and when she didn’t pick him up, he held her hand and led her to sit on the couch and kissed her. He kissed her cheeks several times.
There were no words between them, as what little Shandong dialect he picked up from her a few years ago had all been forgotten, and the less than 5 English words she picked up from him had all been forgotten as well. But this did not stop them from communicating in their own unique way. They came up with a clapping game that kept him entertained for the next 6 days.
When the time came to say goodbye, E. did not realize he would not see his nainai the next day or the day after that. As he likes airports, he was just happy to run around in the airport and get on the plane. But hours later, when he got out of the car and realized he was back in his other home (in another country) without his father and his nainai, he became very quiet and in the late afternoon he said to me, crying, “Let’s go.”
So we went out with my sisters and my nephew (who have been his companions for the last two years.) I was hoping he just wanted to get out of the house for a while, but when he realized we were still going back to the same house, he cried. That’s when it dawned on me that he wanted to go back to China. The second night after we arrived, he was still unhappy and cried again, so I finally asked him, “ Do you want to see daddy?” He didn’t say anything. “Do you want to see nainai?” He wailed and said, “Nainai!”
I right away made a video call to my husband and asked him to give the phone to his mom. When E. heard her voice, he grabbed the phone from me and looked at his grandma and cried and kissed the phone. It was the most touching thing I have ever seen my son do. He didn’t give the phone back to me for a long time. He just wanted to watch them.
On the third day, he probably realized that he could not really be with his nainai, and that a video call is not the same as being with her, that he did not want to look at her anymore. I don’t know if he feels betrayed by his grandma; I hope he doesn’t because she loves him just as much as he misses her.
We have been home in the Philippines for almost two weeks now, and he’s back to his happy self. E. is such a sweet 7-year -old boy that I keep telling him I love him just as often as he tells people, no matter family, friend or stranger, “I love you” right after greeting them “Hi” or “Good morning” or “Goodbye.”
I dread the day, less than a couple of weeks from now, when I have to say goodbye to him again. But I know he has his way of coping — we’ve been through this before and it’s usually I who take a week to recover.
For an autistic 7-year old who is minimally verbal, E. knows how to communicate his love for the people who love him and has an amazing strength to bear the pain of missing them. I am learning so much from my son.
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” — Friedrich Nietzsche
I saw this tree trunk from a distance and thought it looked interesting. You might say there’s nothing interesting about this trunk, that it’s even ugly. And you might be right.
I wish I had taken a photo of the whole tree — its leaves were quite green. This tree survived a super typhoon in 2016. The tree itself looked ordinary, but it’s the trunk that captured my attention. This weathered trunk to me stands for strength — something that I feel I have and should not lose in these very busy and stressful time in my life.
What do you see when you look at this trunk?
“The universe is transformation; life is opinion.” — Marcus Aurelius
Weekly Photo Challenge:
As pure as a flower
Growing naturally, artlessly?
Why do we have to pretend
To care when we don’t,
To feel when our hearts are empty,
To believe when we’re full of doubts,
To love when there’s only contempt?
They say if you live in society,
You need to socialize,
Be friendly, smile.
But what if society’s superficiality
Is killing you?
And you’re dying a slow, painful death
With your fake smile, and your fake laugh
And your equally fake concern
For your fake friends.
Perhaps this is part of living.
Perhaps life itself is superficial.
March 3, 2016
In this life I think we all have good years and bad years. Sometimes when we are having a good year, we ask (like I often do), “Do I really deserve this? Have I been really that good to deserve all these wonderful things?” And when we are having a bad year, we ask (like I ALWAYS do), “Seriously. What have I done to deserve this?”
And I’m having a bad year. It has gotten so bad that now I could laugh at an unfortunate incident my husband and I found ourselves in yesterday. It struck me that my life these past few months has been a black comedy.
The other day while I was doing the dishes, I thought of Job and how his faith was tested. I hope this is just a test as well, and that my husband and I will pass this test with flying colors. And that we will be laughing a real laugh, not the one tinged with pain.
I have always believed, and I know from experience that it’s true that “this too shall pass.”
There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. 🙂
“There is always something ridiculous about the emotions of people whom we ceased to love.” (Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
The words above quoted from Wilde’s novel were spoken by my favorite character in that novel, Lord Henry Wotton
At my age, I find it nothing but mere melodramatics when people say they cannot live without a particular person in their lives.
Of course I have been in that situation myself when I thought my world had ended because a particular person who I had made responsible for my happiness (and consequently, unhappiness) left me.
There is something inherently wrong in the belief that one cannot live without a particular person in their lives. First is that another person can be responsible for one’s happiness. Second, that one’s world would end when that person is gone.
No one else is responsible for our happiness except ourselves, and the world can and will really continue to exist with our without a particular person in our lives. If you tell a jerk (because even a jerk can fool somebody into loving him) that he is your life, your world and that both would come to an end if he leaves you, then you are giving him enormous amount of control over your life. Not smart. And if you tell an honest and responsible man the same, then you are giving him undue pressure and undeserved feelings of guilt whenever you are unhappy (which may be your aim, and that makes you the jerk.)
When you are truly, madly, deeply in love you seldom think clearly, logically. But when that period comes to an end, then it is like you have just recovered from a psychological cataract, and you see, if you’re lucky, the purity and selflessness of your love, or if you’re unfortunate, the silliness of your thoughts and actions.
When you fall out of love, you become this person that is able to distance yourself from the relationship and see yourself and the former object of your affection and the dynamics between the two of you, like the two of you are characters in a movie or in novel whose plot not only you can relate to, but also you can analyze and comment on objectively.
At first you may feel pity for the spurned person, especially if you have “lost that lovin’ feeling,'” but they haven’t. You may feel dislike or disgust for them, especially if they had betrayed you. Or you just may find them irritating when they cannot let go and keep trying to win back your love.
I think most people have experienced breaking up with someone or being let go by someone. If you broke up with someone that you ceased to love, then whatever they say becomes mere hollow sounds to you. If you’re polite, you will pretend to listen and do a mental eye-rolling when they tell you those saccharine words that you used to love to hear them say to you:
You are my world.
I can’t live without you.
You complete me.
For those who cling to a lost love:
The pain of unrequited love is real. But you have to move on because:
1. It’s not the end of the world. Really.
2. You are responsible for your own happiness. No need to pass that responsibility on to somebody else
3. You CAN move on.
4. You WILL move on.
Let go but don’t let yourself go.
“I grow old… I grow old… I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.”
I have a lot on my plate lately, and don’t have the time to be quiet nor to have a good conversation with people I can really talk with, so yesterday as I sat down to rest for a few minutes I thought about how many strands of white hair could be growing out of my head. I decided to just laugh about life instead of worrying about it. I’m not ready to dye my hair.
With every misfortune,
And every disappointment,
And angry and hurtful words,
With every neglect
And every apathy
And unwelcome silence,
I can feel white hair
Growing out of my scalp.
I swear I can hear each strand
As it wriggles its way out.
And I look at myself in the mirror
And I look for those strands of white
There’s one close to the right ear
And another one by the hairline,
And then there’s none.
Perhaps those two came out
Because I worried
That because I worried,
I would grow old.
Rain falls on the yellow gladiolus.
Like gentle kisses on its petals,
Glistening in the light,
Droplets of rain
Draw its beauty out.
Alone among the reeds,
It blooms and opens
And looks up to the sky
And welcomes the rain
That gives it beauty, life.
There’s a white gladiolus
But for now, alone among the reeds,
The yellow gladiolus is happy to be yellow
And to be kissed by the rain.
It was drizzling when I walked to work today. I stopped by the wooden bridge to have a closer look at this yellow gladiolus that stood alone among the reeds by the lake. Beautiful. I thought it looked even more beautiful with the raindrops on its petals.
It rained the other day, and I unhappily walked to work. The sky was gray, the roads were wet, and it was a little chilly. Then I saw the plants and how green they seemed in the rain, and I stopped to look at one tiny plant with droplets of rain on its leaves. It was beautiful. I took a picture of it, and later showed it to a friend who reminded me that without water there’d be no life or growth.
Though I agree with it, I still find walking in the rain in the morning depressing. Somehow it’s different from walking in the rain at night when you don’t really see anything but just hear the sound of the rain on your umbrella, and the smell of dry earth as the rain touches it. And that’s nice.
Looking at the picture of that tiny plant I saw yesterday, these lines came to mind:
“Into each life some rain must fall,/ Some days must be dark and dreary.”
Who wants sadness? “Normal” people will say nobody. But some people actually like sadness as it brings them closer to themselves, makes them see the world and its people from a different perspective, and consequently helps them gain confidence in themselves.
The Chinese often wish their friends “happy everyday”. I would like to be happy everyday, but I am all too aware that it is impossible; so, my awareness of its impossibility makes me savor every second of that moment of happiness when it comes. Its ephemerality is what actually makes it worth experiencing.
Imagine if you were happy everyday: you do whatever you like, and nobody makes you feel guilty for doing so; no one that you dislike bothers you; no one upsets you (especially your boss or spouse or boss/spouse); everyday you have only happiness. I’m almost certain you will get bored with happiness, and you will say to yourself, “There must be more to this life than just being happy.”
We appreciate the sunshine more after the rain. And we appreciate the rain after the drought.
When I look back at my life, I find that all those times I suffered, wept, and felt like it was better to put an end to my life were the times I came to know myself better and to love myself a little more, and it gave me the confidence that I could survive whatever came my way.
Without water there would be no growth. Without rain in our lives, without sad and dreary days, we would never grow stronger, never learn to cherish the little happiness we experience every now and then.
Thank God for the rain (but not for the typhoon!)
I am a morning person. I get up at 4:30 in the morning most days and do my ritual of making coffee, reading the news, mopping the floor, doing a 20-minute workout, grabbing a bite, then taking a shower. If I miss one of those in the list, I get a little disoriented.
These days the morning air is so cool that when I open the kitchen window and hear the rustling of the leaves and the merry chirping of the birds, and feel the cool touch of the breeze on my face, I am reminded of two poems: one by Wordsworth and the other by Hopkins. (I’m serious. If you have ever been taught Poetry by a professor as poetic and romantic as Dr. Anthony L. Tan, and lived in a convent — trying to become a nun– for a few months, then you’ll understand my way of thinking.)
By William Wordsworth
Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth like a garment wear
The beauty of the morning: silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour valley, rock, or hill;
Ne’er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
Gerard Manley Hopkins
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
Even though I am no longer so certain about the existence of God, the beauty of the morning somehow brings back my sense of gratitude to the creator of such beauty, and since in my simple brain, there are no other candidates for that position, then let it be God for now.
Early morning, I find, is much more beautiful than night time. (Or is it just that I am getting old and can no longer appreciate the beauty of darkness where sweet words are whispered and gentle touches are felt?)
When I take an early morning walk, and see the dew on the leaves and feel the damp earth, and hear the birds sing, and smell the grass, I am always filled with that kind of bliss that makes one want to love the world and to desire to be a better person deserving of such wonder. For someone who has been waiting for death since she was 20, this is one of the very rare moments when I am actually happy about life, one of my Sisyphus-reaching-the-top-of-the-hill moments.
The awareness of the ephemerality of these moments is probably what makes people, like me, appreciate them more.
Like everything else in this world, they come to an end, sometimes too soon, when I start hearing the honking of vehicles and seeing people push and shove each other to get on the bus to get to work.
But this is life. I am just grateful to know that there is time, when I need it, for nature to refresh me and make me ponder on how good it is to be alive.
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