Happy New Year! Stay the Course in 2014.

The old has gone, the new is here!  Indeed, today is the first day of a brand new year, 2014.

Six practices that will help me stay the course this year:

1.  Practice my faith.  Listening to Charlton Heston reading the Bible is a great way of reminding myself of God’s words.  The Word lives!  Pray when I need guidance, courage and encouragement.  The Holy Spirit understands.  I praise for who God is and for God’s deliverance.  Worship God whenever and wherever I can.  Participate in the collective worship and fellowship of believers.  My faith sustains me. 

2.  Practice the spirit of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer.  Accept the things that cannot be changed.  Have courage to change the things which should be changed and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.  Living one day at a time…accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, trusting that God will make all things right.  Truly, when I let go of my expectations of how things/people should be, and trust my God for all things, I seem to have more peace and contentment, and at times even more fun of living my own life.   

3.  Practice living one day at a time.  Life is full of joy and sorrows.  With this skill of focusing on the here and now, I am able to experience both without feeling overwhelmed.  When I was going through several rounds of chemo a while ago, each time I only focused on the one that I was about to do, then on the recovery.  One by one I completed the task and recovered.  The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu’s thought that “Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small.  A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” is one of the most practical advice that carried me through the dark time. 

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Lao Tzu

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/laotzu398196.html#ETUb74Hdp4r8XF1M.99

Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small. A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.

Lao Tzu

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/l/laotzu398196.html#ETUb74Hdp4r8XF1M.99

4. Practice enjoying the present moment whenever I will.  Here, I want to emphasize on the joy of living or on “taking in the good” (Rick Hanson’s, Ph.D. expression).  Make the good feelings last by savoring the positive experience.  Every morning, I take time to smell the aroma of freshly brewed coffee then drink it with abandonment.  I also indulge myself with a rich chocolate croissant every now and then.  I make time to spend with my loved ones and friends and catch up on their latest.  When I choose to be there for them, I wholeheartedly enjoy their presence. 

5. Practice getting out of my house.  When I am in the great outdoor, nature has a way of cheering me on and reminding me of the wonders of this physical world…that’s earthy and real.  I walk, run, hike, snowshoe, kayak and maybe even bike.  I have never regretted the time I spent outside. Fresh air has always done me well and exercise is the key to not only physical health but emotional and spiritual as well. 

6. Practice hobbies. I love to write, paint and play a little bit of piano.  My hobbies keep me interested in my life and the lives of others. They also challenge me to grow.  I find great joy in learning and mastering new tasks.  They also define some parts of who I am.  Hobbies that arouse my curiosity, activate my brain, and enhance my senses are worth of my lifelong pursuit.

Have a blessed New Year and may you live long and thrive!





Fuji and Persimmons

This is my latest painting to celebrate the autumn season. Hope you like it.

Grand Fazioli

I was totally smitten when I first saw this Italian 9-foot-2-inch beauty at a classical concert this year. I marveled at the fine craftsmanship, both sight and sound. It was truly a work of art!

You Can Actually Enjoy Public Speaking!

Jelly Fish Group

Really? Public speaking is no easy task. Over the years, I have found ways to master it with some ease. Lately I can even say that I enjoy it tremendously. Here are some of my “secrets”:

1. Choose a subject you feel passionate about and study up ahead of time. I think presenting something you care about is like meeting your beloved after a long absence. You would show lots of care and attention, and most of all, passion! No audience wants to hear something boring, blah and loveless. If you don’t have any emotional connection with the subject matter, why should they?

2. Practice talking about it every opportunity you get. Professionally, I study and facilitate therapeutic groups day in and out. Before I’m asked to speak on any given subject, I have had hundreds if not thousands of practice time talking and working through the material. By the time I step on the podium, I have gathered much data on what works and what doesn’t. This makes me feel confident as a subject matter expert and it shows when I present.

3. Take several deep breaths to center yourself. When you take deep breaths, you oxygenate the whole body. As a result, you will be in a calmer state of mind, and put your body more at ease, and feel less anxious. I can’t tell you how many times when my mind starts to race before public speaking, this simple step helps me slow down and live in the present moment.

4. Stay in the present moment. As I mentioned before, our mind usually gets ahead of our senses, and it causes unnecessary anxiety. In the therapeutic language, we call it “future-tripping”. One way to stay in the here and now is to focus on the breath. Feel the breath in and out of your body. Another way is to just focus on the task at hand, no more no less. When your mind wanders, you simply acknowledge it and bring it back to the present moment.

5. Use an appropriate quote or tell a relevant story to capture the essence of the topic. Often time either the quote or the story adds so much human interest to the topic. Don’t know about you, I enjoy a good quote or story anytime of the day. Somehow it makes any serious topic more relatable and bring it closer to home.

6. Make interpersonal connections. When speaking, be aware of your audience and mindful of their presence. Are they energetic or tired, curious or closed? Make conscious efforts to empathize and connect. Your audience will respect that and give you the attention you need to make meaningful connections.

When everything works well, public speaking is rather rewarding. Usually when I am finished, I feel that my audience and I once again chose to connect, learn and grow together. I truly believe that part of my humanity is forever enriched because of the experience!

The Colors and Moods of Autumn

We had a gorgeous Indian Summer this year. I captured a bit of its glory during my walk this week.