A long distance reminder

Yesterday I reconnected with a dear friend in Italy.

We met when we were very young, in a magical castle in Wales.

Now we are mothers, entrepreneurs, businesswomen and still great friends.

She reminded me of why and how I started this blog and these drawings.

I am not only thankful for her friendship, but also for her reminder that our small actions may have great impact on others.

This post is for you Laura, thank you. 

Not So Little Things…(with a longish story attached)

Last week I was thankful for tiny little things like jalapeños.

This week I’d like to appreciate my washing machine.

Not just for washing my clothes, but for reminding me to “do all things with love”.

There’s a story behind this.

There was a time when I was one miserable human being who felt that she had no purpose in life.

I was always tired and had very little motivation to do anything at all.

And like a lot of lost souls, I tried to find solace in whatever was available.

Books, books and more books.

Then I became desperate, realising that I was not getting any answers out of books.

One day a friend suggested that I go and check out a “Wellness Centre” that had everything from yoga, tarot cards to spiritual healing. I was willing to give anything a try, even Ouja Boards if they had some. Problem was, I didn’t have any spare cash to spend on something I considered “frivoulous”.

I went anyway. There were different people who had set up different stalls and corners offering art therapy and various types of readings. I kept a distance, close enough to be nosey and far enough that I did not make eye contact with anyone.

“Hello!”

The voice and tone sounded so warm and familiar that it made me stop and turn around.

It was an older lady behind a table covered with dozens of small vials of what I could only describe as coloured liquid. The moment I turned around she handed me a small basket and said, “Pick three!”

“I can’t afford this.”

“It’s OK, you need this. It’s free.” 

My logical mind was convinced that this sweet older lady with a German accent wanted to swindle me, but my emotional mind was so sad and desperate that when she said “you need this” I agreed wholeheartedly.

I don’t remember what bottles I chose and what their meanings were, but I just remember the lady telling me that I had one purpose here on earth – to learn to love. 

It scared me that she told me something that I had been struggling to figure out, but my logical mind of course wanted to challenge that.

“And how do I that?”

“Simple. Do all things with love. For example, when you do the laundry, do it with love. Fold your child’s clothes with love and appreciate how lovely it is to have a small child and to be able to give her clean clothes to wear.”

“I appreciate having a washing machine too, I don’t need to wash everything by hand.”

“Exactly! Just do this, and watch how everything changes. Your happiness will come when you learn to love.”

I went home that day and did what she suggested. It was not an instant fix. I am still learning to “do all things with love” and there are days when I have doubts, but I know that happiness is no longer elusive and my happiest moments are always the ones when I am doing things with love.

And that is why, I appreciate my washing machine. 

  
P.S. I never got a chance to thank this older lady for what she has given me. A chance and a way to find happiness. So every chance I have to share this with someone who’d listen, I see it as a way to pay her back for all the happiness that has come my way.

Thank you.

Small Things

It’s a good day to be thankful for those small things in life.

I am not talking about a tiny wild flower, or a smile from a child.

I’d like to be thankful for jalapeños.

Those tiny green spicy bombs that make your mouth explode and your eyes cry.

How do you like your jalapeños?

Do you like them at all? 

 

Do nothing.

Discombobulated.

I bought a book on my recent trip to New Zealand. “500 Words You Should Know” by Caroline Taggart.

The first word my daughter pointed out was “discombobulated”.

And it’s the perfect word to describe how I have been feeling these past few months.

According to this book, discombulated is “a jokey word meaning exactly what it sounds as if it means: confused, disconcerted, ‘thrown’ in a big way. You might be discombobulated by an interrruption or by the appearance of an unexpected guest; on a bad day you could be generally discombobulated, not with it and unable to cope with the many questions that life throws at you.”

Life has been throwing many questions at me and I have not been able to cope.

And in my quest to find some solace in this rather noisy and upset world, I came across the “art of doing nothing” – 無為 (pronounced WU WEI or oooo-way) – a Chinese concept from Lao Tsu. It literally means “no trying” or “no doing”, but it is not about doing nothing. It is rather a state of mind where one is in his/ her most natural state, in harmony with one’s surroundings/ situation. And also a state of “effortless action”.

Seems to make so much sense and no sense whatsoever to me at the same time.

And in exploring this concept, I have somewhat already found some peace and answers.

Isn’t that the Art of Doing Nothing?

From being/ feeling discombulated, not in harmony with myself and the world around me, what I seek is the state of 無為 – through effortless inaction. To just be.

The past few months has been a state of frantic action, goal oriented planning and doing which has thrown me off balance. So much so that I no longer enjoyed the things I once loved.

So I decided that I will do nothing.

Till balance is restored, or at least till I am combobulated. (If there is such a word…)

img_1315

Tired – Day 98 – September 25, 2014

6:00 wake up
6:45 breakfast
7:30 preparation
8:00 workshop starts
17:00 workshop ends
17:30 dinner
18:20 headache sets in
19:00 depart hotel
20:30 train delayed
22:00 train leaves Guangzhou (finally)
24:00 arrive Hong Kong (finally)
00:30 shower, painkillers
00:50 bed, half dead

I was grateful for the amazing workshop though.
A powerful storytelling circle.
A group of genuine young people.
A transformative experience.

That’s why I was so tired.

IMG_1163.PNG

Your #1 Fan

I remember reading somewhere that the ratio of positive to negative comments/ feedback/ interactions should be 5:1.
This is the secret to happy relationships, more effective teams and personal development.

So, here is positive feedback #1 from me to you.

20140409-000656.jpg

Simple pleasures.

It was strange flying today.
People at the airport were either talking about or reading about the missing Malaysian Airline flight.
I did have a few morbid thoughts along the way but I have too much to live for and eventually my thoughts went back to how grateful I am to be here, on my way to do work that I love.

I am thankful for…
1. Arriving safely in Taipei.
2. A nice taxi driver who stayed awake! (He did scare me a bit when he started to drift and swerve…)
3. Being alive. (Please refer to no.2)
4. The nice and clean hotel that I stay in whenever I come to Taipei.
5. Dedicated artists who create beautiful work, from handmade soaps to delicate jewelry.
6. Yummy night market food!
7. Refreshing green tea with a dash of fresh grapefruit.
8. Finding a Mother’s Day present.
9. Hot baths.
10. Writing.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted my doodles.
I’m back in the mood to draw again!

20140312-221319.jpg

Happiness is… Team work

I am so happy, grateful and honored to work with like minded people.
It makes work fun.
It makes us forget time when we are in the flow.

We not only work well together, we are very appreciative of each others’ contributions, talents and positive attitude.
And we make a real effort to let each other know.

When was the last time you told someone that you appreciate what they do as part of your team?
It might be the smallest thing but sometimes it is what makes a difference.

Scroll down past my drawing for a condensed gratitude list from the weekend and today!

20140113-233017.jpg

I am thankful for…

1. An amazing time at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, giving a talk on career planning.

2. The great crowd at Chinese University – over 100 people!

3. My team mate Beatrice – your enthusiasm, your tenacity and your happy face.

4. My good health.

5. My puppy Pepper for her constant companionship and general silliness.

6. My mum feeling better after a bout of the common cold.

7. Learning more about the psyche, the brain and the body.

8. Getting a clear sign of what to do next.

9. Having a kitchen to cook home food.

10. Having amazing life partners who share my love, my woes and my hopes.

Happiness is… watching TV movies with someone you love

During my Christmas holiday, my mum and I would stay up late to watch TV movies.
Mostly European films, which are either slightly bizarre, exceptionally wonderful or strangely realistic.

Apart from the fun of watching some great movies, the best part was just sitting with my mum.
Since we do not live in the same country, we don’t have the chance to do this often.
And I found it very comforting to have my mother right next to me.

Now that I am back in HK, watching films on my own at home is a different sort of enjoyment.
I do miss having my mum next to me.

On a side note, I have also missed making my gratitude list.
So here’s one for today.

I am thankful for…

1. Waking up feeling well enough to go to work.

2. Having enough energy to last the entire day!

3. Having lovely people to support me in my workshop.

4. Having a group of enthusiastic participants in my workshop today.

5. Seeing my puppy go crazy with happiness when I come home.

6. Coming home to a clean and tidy house.

7. Knowing I will have family visiting me in the coming weeks.

8. Having a thermos of hot water to soothe my illness.

9. Having aspirin to ease my fever.

10. Doing work that I love and enjoy.

20140107-203640.jpg