Category Archives: Growth

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


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


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!





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!

A Chemo Girl

Life's Moments 2008 -- 2009 026

October is the breast cancer awareness month.  Here is my survivor poem written in-between chemo sessions several years ago.  The care of my family and friends, and a bit of dark humor helped me deal with the pain/suffering at the time.  To all the cancer survivors, may we live long and thrive!

A Chemo Girl

Blurry vision, constipation.
You ask how my body functions?
Neuropathy, mouth sores and hair loss.
Dizzy, fatigued–that’s what I’m feeling.

You say to look at the bright side:
This girl is put on the chemo diet.
Drops down a few dress sizes.
You don’t think I will ever miss it.

But surely I am now a skinny girl
Who can still tread some serious miles.
Wearing my batik turban wrap,
Off on the suburban streets I roll.


“Gratitude is Happiness Doubled by Wonder.” G.K. Chesterton

What I am grateful for this week:

1. A cup of pumpkin spice coffee prepared by a colleague
2. A delicious Gyudon (beef bowl) from a local food cart
3. Occasional sun-breaks to brighten the grey rainy days
4. Beautiful autumn foliage to please the eyes
5. Many meditative walks throughout
6. Refreshing misty air in the morning and early evening
7. A deep tissue massage to ease the body tension
8. The calming effect of an epsom salt bath
9. Reflective conversations with family and friends
10. The jazzy number “Maceo” by Patrick Lamb

Autumn Leaves

My Weekend

Nourish my identity with food, senses, intention and consciousness;
Feed the soul with Bartok, Haydn, Beethoven and Strauss;
Immerse in rain, spirituality, and artists’ creative processes.

Have conversations of the heart–light and heavy.
Joy and sorrows pass on by like clouds in the sky.
It’s a rich and beautiful weekend–all in all.


Six Ways to Become Unpopular on Facebook or Anywhere Else in the Cyberspace

Readers beware: my dark side is writing this post tonight and be ready for some unpleasant emotions if it speaks to you, or not.

I had an interesting discussion with my colleagues this week regarding the on-line community.  There are at least 6 ways to become unpopular on Facebook or anywhere else in the cyberspace:

1. Keep posting mundane updates like: “I am bored.” “I just had a cup of coffee.” Please respect your friends’ time and make their reading your posts worthwhile.  If you want to keep a log of your daily activities by the hour, have your privacy setting to “only me”.

2. Keep posting comments that need decoding. Not sure about you but for me anything that requires a great deal of guesswork makes caring for/paying attention to you that much harder.

3. Bombard your friends with your rants whether they are political, religious, professional or psychological.  If you need a special place to air out your convictions, consider creating a fan page for your followers.

4. Be passive-aggressive with your comments on-line because you don’t have the guts to talk to your friend(s) and sort out the differences in person.  Passive-aggressiveness is really a form of aggression and there is nothing healthy or helpful about it.

5. Lurk but rarely participate in the on-line community. I totally get some people setting up an account to update themselves on the status of their loved ones once a while.  However, if you read your friends’ posts regularly, would it kill you to click on “like” or comment once a while so we know you are alive and well and have an opinion.

6. Post comments that are insensitive and/or offensive. You may enjoy your jokes but maybe not all your friends find them funny, especially when they have to do with people’s age, gender, race/ethnicity, weight/height, sexual orientation, religion, politics…Equal opportunity offenders are not an excuse for being mindless.

Time to stop here and it’s okay that you decide to dislike or even unfriend me after reading this post.  After all, this is a post about how to be unpopular.


Not to Grow Up

Not to Grow Up

Not to grow up to be an uptight girl:
Forgetting how to truly laugh,
Acting like she is really tough.

Not to grow up to be a bitter girl:
Thinking life is passing her by,
Blaming everyone else but would never try.

The Girl Says:
Have fun,
Play with friends,
Run towards the Sun.

The Girl