Monday, August 30, 2010

Mom's Words

I'm remembering things that my Mom used to teach me. Call it reminiscing, call it sappy, but her words and upbringing brought warmth to me even when I'm remembering them. And of course, I'm translating them as I go; she'd have told me in Mandarin or Indonesian. So here are the 50 things that I can think of:

1. Women have our own appeal, use it wisely, and don't abuse it.
2. It's better to find a husband who loves you more than you love him.
3. When you pick something up from the floor or when you wear your shoes, always bend your knees and not your waist, so you're not showing off your butt to others.
4. Never forget someone's kindness, and never remember your own kind acts.
5. When you give respect and toast your cup, always place your cup lower than the other person's. And never, ever, play with your chopsticks or stick it in the rice bowl.
6. Don't make noise when you eat, always finish your food, but if you can't eat something, don't refuse the offer, just put it aside.
7. When someone criticizes you, even when they are wrong, just listen until s/he finishes, then you clear it up when s/he is more calm.
8. Always give up your best for the guests.
9. You don't need to learn to live a wealthy lifestyle, but you need to learn to live a poor lifestyle.
10. Never say bad things about others.
11. 大人不记小人过 - I can't translate this, it's something like, be widehearted to those who hurt you.
12. Try not to include money in your friendship, money can ruin your best friendship.
13. Always wait till the other side hang up the phone before you hang up.
14. Don't start eating until your guest, or the eldest at the table, starts.
15. You have to adapt to the society, not vice versa.
16. In the end, only your family will be with you.
17. When you laugh, do it in front of people, but if you want to cry, do it where nobody sees you.
18. Buy the best thing, rather than hundreds of mediocre things.
19. 天下不会掉馅饼 - something like, there is nothing free in this world, you have to work for it.
20. 提得上就要放得下 - something like, if you can start something, you need to be able to let it go.
21. When people ask you something that you are not comfortable answering, smile.
22. Always take off your shoes when entering anyone's house.
23. Clean up after yourself when a friend invites you to dinner.
24. Patience is virtue, learn to swallow your anger.
25. Learn to endure, and take sufferings with a grain of salt.
26. Treat people the way you want to be treated.
27. Always have breakfast - if you have to miss it, drink a glass of water, or milk.
28. In the end, life is a lonely road; don't be afraid of that power you have in making decisions.
29. Always respond when someone calls you, even if you are in the middle of something.
30. Always pay for your own food when you go out with a boy, even when he offers to pay (to boys: always pay for the girl(s)' food when you go out with her/them, especially when you are the only boy in the crowd)
31. Treat everyone equally, your enemy today may become your friend tomorrow, and vice versa.
32. To spend money, you have to earn them first. Spend 30% of what you earn and save the rest.
33. Money doesn't come from saving, you need to spend in order to earn.
34. Don't be calculative with your friends over small amount of money, but there is a difference between what is borrowed and needs to be returned, and what is insignificant.
35. Your confidence should not come from how wealthy you are, and other status-related factors; it is in your accomplishments, values, and principles in life.
36. Don't be afraid of the challenges ahead, your family will be with you.
37. Girls need to be modest; carry yourself well. Always have a smile on your face, even when you are ill.
38. A tainted reputation is hard to clean up.
39. Marry someone who can complement your talents, and vice versa.
40. When someone says you aren't good enough to achieve something, do it to prove him/her and yourself otherwise.
41. Give yourself to your husband and in-laws because you have become their daughter; your biological family will always be here, while they may require more from you.
42. You only have one brother, take care of each other because he's all you have.
43. Don't be stubborn and let your intelligence get the better of you. Be humble and hide your intelligence, it's better when people think that you have no skills, so you don't become a threat.
44. Do everything backstage, people in the limelight gets the kick first.
45. It's best to be wealthy and nameless; you get to enjoy while not getting any threats.
46. Remember to brush your teeth every night.
47. If you have done your best, that's good enough.
48. Never give up and keep trying, but know when to stop.
49. Don't be a sore loser. Congratulate the winner, and keep polishing your skills.
50. You don't have to try to be the best, you already are in my eyes.

Obviously, I haven't been very good on many of the things on the list. Oh, Mom, I love you :)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Can't Dump 'Em

I'm a shoe whore, forgive my language, but that means 1) when I see a pair that I like, I can never walk away without making a purchase unless it costs over $1000 and I shall think about Africa, and 2) I can never throw them out even when they have been well worn.

I realized my inability to dump them out after people in my life started pointing out my tattered shoes. Some of the comments and jokes I have received: "Whose are those? Throw 'em out!", "C'mon, you're not that poor", "Seriously? It's time for a shoe shopping spree".

It is difficult for me to throw them out because each has its function, and each has its story. Similarly, so many of us have difficulties letting go of certain baggage in our lives, because of the memories or functions they have, whether to soothe our guilt, calm our anxiety, or deny our responsibility, etc. And perhaps there are many people in our lives who have been attempting to tell us, "Throw them out! You deserve better!", but we have become so attached to the baggage that it is easier to tune our their voices.

I am going to start dumping out my torn shoes, so I can make space for other things in my closet; I am going to start letting go of my baggage, so I can start creating more beautiful memories in my life.

What about you?

Monday, August 9, 2010


How big the value of US$10 is when brought to church as an offering; but how small is its value when brought to the mall to be spent!
How long it is to serve God for an hour; but how short it is if we watch a movie.
How hard it is to find words to pray spontaneously; but how easy it is to chat and gossip with friends.
How hard it is to read a pericope of the Bible; but how easy it is to read 100 pages of the best-selling novels.
How exciting it is to sit on the front row of a game or concert; but how we prefer to sit in the back pew of a church.
How difficult it is to learn a simple chapter of the Bible to be shared with others; but how easy it is to keep repeating the same gossips to others.
How easy it is for us to believe the newspapers; but how we doubt what the Bible says.

Day 15, Monday, Aug 9, 2010 40 Days of Praying and Fasting

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Thrown Away

Let me share one of my fears that I have discovered lately (I really wonder how it has gone unnoticed for so long!). This is one of the fears that has driven me to do everything that I have done till this point.

When I was really little, I won a first place in my first competition in poetry reading - gold trophy that I prided myself in, especially because I used to have a really bad stage fright. I put in so much effort and courage into winning the contest. It is one of the few things that I want to keep till the rest of my life, to remind me of my perseverance. It is my one prided trophy - and I mean it, because I'm a trophy collector. I have perhaps won about 20 up to the end of my high school years, and I think it's explained below by my need for over-achievement.

Years later, while moving house (we have moved a lot in the past, so it's while moving to one of the houses), the trophy broke by accident. Rather than getting it fixed, my Mom dumped it out. Imagine my anger and hurt when I found out - because I could not find it, not even because she told me after she threw it out. Yet I could not be angry, because after all, it's my beloved mother.

From then onwards, that is my goal - to never get broken so I'm never thrown out - because there's never a chance to be fixed. How do I do this? Achieve, achieve, achieve. Achieve so that it will never be broken, achieve so Mom will appreciate and acknowledge my hard work, achieve so that I will not get thrown away. Cover up all the weaknesses and defects, so people cannot look at me to find any emotional vulnerability. I need to be the best, to be perfect, to cover up the shame that perhaps, I am unknowingly broken inside. Straight A student, well-rounded, object of envy - yet none of these satisfy my need to achieve even more.

To face this fear is to be experiencing the anger, pain, and hurt once again. I need God to help me release those emotions so I am no longer bound by this fear of not achieving.

I know I'm not alone in this. You too, perhaps are bound by something in the past that you may not even notice anymore. Seek God and ask Him to reveal those things to you, so you can make corrective experience from the distorted past experience and not let it hinder you from living the fullest. For one, I now know that my decisions have been driven by a lot of shame in the past and I am willing to work on it one by one, though it is a painful revisitation to memories that I don't want to remember.

I no longer want my obsession to achieve to be the driving force of making important decisions in life. What about you?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Love Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you with knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.