The Told or Untold: First Meetings (Part I)

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There are many first meetings in this world, some funny, some painful, some profound, and some changed the world.

The first moment that the sun meets the horizon, a day begins.

The first time a man meets a woman. Life is created.

The first time you went to kindergarten. The little girl that sat beside you ended up becoming your best friend for the next 30 years.

This is the beginning of the series #ToldOrUntold, where Huesthatgirl and I will share a few told or untold stories revolving around a theme. Some of these stories are from our lives and some are from those who are kind enough to let us in on theirs. Today’s theme is “first meeting”.

I was shocked. It was the first time I realized that not everyone had the same things that I had.”

When the first KFC opened in my hometown in China, I was five years old.

KFC in China

My parents took me there for the first time to check out the novelty. The three of us ordered some hamburger and fries, which were strange yet delicious, unlike anything I had before. Even today, I can still taste the crispiness of the chicken, smell the aroma of the fries, and how the sweet-and-sour taste of the ketchup complemented them perfectly. As my family was munching away, another family of three sat down at the next table. It was a little boy around my age with his parents. However, different from us, this family only ordered one hamburger. The parents opened the paper box containing burger and passed it to the little boy, who excitedly took a big bite. As the little boy ate, the parents simply watched. A few minutes passed.  “Is it good?” The mom asked. The little boy nodded with his mouth full. The mom smiled brightly. Not long after, the little boy finished his hamburger and the family got up and left.  Their table was clean and strangely bare, a uncomfortable contrast against the mess on our table made up of empty hamburger boxes and cups half full with coke. I blurted out the question that was lingering on my mind, “Why didn’t the boy’s parents eat?” Dad explained that not everyone could afford to eat at KFC. Some families didn’t have 3 meals a day like us. I was shocked. It was the first time I realized that not everyone had the same things that I had. Not all parents were able to provide for their kids the same way that my parents provided for me. It was my “first meeting” with the concept of appreciating what I had and not taking things for granted. A big lesson for a little kid, but it really made an impact on me.

– J.L.

 

 “Jumanji 2 just came out in theatres recently and I prepared myself for the sequel to the movie that haunted my childhood. The entire movie turned out to be a comedy…”

I first met Jumanji in 1995. For those unfamiliar with the movie, it was about a board game called Jumanji that came to life.  It spewed vile creatures, could create mini-disasters (such as an animal stampede), and could even trap you physically in the game for an indefinite amount of time.  There were only two movies that scared me and gave me nightmares when I was a child; Jumanji was one of them.  I was scared of Jumanji’s monsters and disasters, scared of the unpredictability of each dice roll, but most of all I was scared when a kid got trapped in the Jumanji game for 26 years (only to be released by another kid playing the game 26 years later).  As a 6 year old child, 26 years was a long time and contributed to the ensuing nightmares after I watched the movie.

 As you may know, Jumanji 2 just came out in theatres recently and I prepared myself for the sequel to the movie that haunted my childhood.  The entire movie turned out to be a comedy and I walked out of the movie theatre disappointed that there was not a single frightening scene.  jumanji-show-detail
Slightly confused, I did some research on my old nemesis, the original Jumanji, to see for myself what was so scary about the original movie.  I started to re-watch, and I soon came to realize that the original Jumanji was also a comedy (it starred Robin Williams, how could it not!).  Looking back, it doesn’t actually shock me that a child would be scared of the original Jumanji.  Only a child could relate to another child’s anxiety of scary monsters in board games that might come to life.  But throughout the years, I grew up.  I understood that monsters could not in fact appear from board games and the likelihood of an invention of such a thing in the near future is quite minimal.  But I did lose something. I lost the ability to “perceive” as a child perceives.

I realized that things in life need to be re-evaluated from time to time. I realized that sometimes I need to take a different perspective on things such as the people I dislike, the embarrassing moments, and my fears.  I need to re-evaluate them not because they have changed, but because I have changed.  I also realized that I should minimize my judgement of others, as there is no way that I’d be able to fully understand what caused them to feel or be a certain way. When others are sharing with me their feelings, I should give them the attention that they deserve

-Anonymous

 

See more #ToldOrUntold stories collected by Huesthatgirl.

What told or untold “first meeting” stories would you like to share? Feel free to share your stories by commenting below with the hashtag #ToldOrUntold or email me directly at li.joanna.mx@gmail.com. With your permission, I’ll be sharing your stories in the next post – The Told or Untold: First Meetings (Part II).

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Meeting My Captain

 

 

I’ve been part of a course hosted by CTI (Coach Training Institute) on my journey to become a professional coach. This past weekend, I met my Captain.

What is the Captain?

Everyone has a Captain inside them, but many may not be aware of its existence.

“The Captain is your internal leader, your Inner Authority, a visionary who is in command and leads all parts of yourself towards the fullest expression of your Life Purpose…The key attributes of your Captain are: Wisdom, Compassion, Courage, Clarity and Certainty.

The Captain has access to all the wisdom that ever was, has been there and back, and knows that ultimately everything turns out just fine. Your captain loves you completely and unconditionally and no matter what happens, holds you tenderly with gentleness, infinite compassion, and heart. Your Captain believes in you completely and without question, is grounded and can see quickly what is needed and how best to move forward. Your Captain is fearless and relentless in pursuit of the very best for you. Your Captain’s will is unshakable, dedicated and unwavering.”   CTI

If life is a river, and I’m on a ship, I’ll need a Captain to navigate through the river. Too often, negative inner voices (ie. saboteurs – read my post on combating saboteurs), like pirates, would attempt to hijack my ship. The even scarier thing is that oftentimes, I didn’t even know my ship was hijacked. Thinking back, every time I experience the Imposter Syndrome or when I “bombed” something, the saboteurs would appear left and right like a game of Wack-A-Mole. This is when I’ll need to call out to my Captain to save my ship.

First Meeting

I met my Captain from a visualization exercise I did as part of the course.

I was on a beautiful field, overlooking an entire city and a palace. Wait, I’ve been here before! It was during one of my trips when I was on exchange in Europe in 2012. I was standing at the top of the hill, taking it all in…

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Schönbrunn Palace of Vienna (Dec 2012)

My Captain appeared from below the hill. It was steep, but it seemed effortless for him. He walked towards me, with grace and quiet strength. He was in all black, cape billowing behind. He was strong and steady, yet humble. He was calm and compassionate, yet fearless. Everywhere he walked, people felt his presence.  Every life he touched, he made a difference.

Batman

Wait…isn’t that Batman? LOL.  Did I tell you that I’m not at all jazzed about superhero movies? I was slightly amused.

Batman continued to walk towards me and he stood in front of me. We looked at each other eye to eye. It’s like one of the movie scenes, where everything around us started to spin, but the only things that remained stable were him and I. As seconds passed by, I felt stronger and more alive, as if Batman was transferring his power to me. No words were exchanged, yet I felt we knew each other like old friends (maybe I should consider give Batman a watch after all).

When I opened my eyes, I felt more connected to something that’s deep down in my heart, more clarity, and more groundedness. In that moment, I knew that everything was going to be alright.

A Life of Fulfillment

Before the course, there was a nagging voice inside my head, telling me that there was moooooooore out there. The voice was scary, because it was filled with unknown as I wasn’t sure what that “mooooooore” meant. It was faint and indiscernible, like a whisper. Thanks to Batman, this voice has become loud and clear this past weekend. The “mooooooooore” is to lead a life of fulfillment, which is to be the “Batman” that inspires those around me. But instead of saving their lives, I’ll help them find their inner Captains and save their ships, as a coach, as a mentor, as a writer or as a _______ (to be filled).

 

Ship

 

 

 

 

Oranges or congee?

One cold winter’s night, I was at D’s sister-in-law’s place for dinner to celebrate her birthday. It was my favourite cuisine – Malaysian; we had homemade Laska – noodles in curry coconut milk. Yum. After stuffing myself silly, I sat there massaging my protruding stomach, satisfied.

We were separated into 2 tables as usual (the “kids” table vs. the parents’ table). A full platter of orange slices was passed to the kids’ table. D’s brother took some and jokingly said, “We better take some more because once this lands on our parents’ table, it will be gone.”

orange slices

Ding ding ding. A bell rang in my head and opened a floodgate of memories…

D lunged towards the fruit bowl at home despite having had a large dinner, emerging with a humongous orange and prying it open with his bare hands, plunging himself onto the couch and happily popping each slice into his mouth, refusing to share.

D orangeIt dawned on me. This image was all too familiar through our 8 years together.

A fit of laughter broke out. It snapped me back to my sister-in-law’s house. I stared at that platter of oranges.

Was this where this D’s habits of eating oranges after dinner came from? It was not out of nowhere. Here were my in-laws – all the more crazy about oranges after dinner.

Interesting how some of us have certain eating habits that may seem bizarre to others.

Mine is having plain congee after dinner. With nothing else added other than rice, you could really taste its natural aroma. I find it incredibly comforting to have a bowl after a meal. D, however, finds it repulsive. To him, it’s bland and flavourless – only something he’d have when he is sick. Poor guy has to endure my parents’ persistent offering for plain congee whenever we have dinner at my parents’, until I have to, rather firmly, interject in Mandarin, “妈,他不喜欢喝稀饭!” (“Mom, he doesn’t like plain congee!”). At the same time, I’d scurry over to scoop myself a large bowl, smirking, “all the more for me hehe.”porridge

Yes, I got my palate from my parents too. Now coming to think of it, my grandparents also enjoyed a bowl of plain congee after dinner. When D visited my grandparents in China, he actually followed suit with the rest of the family when we all had some. How could you say no to my 88-year-old grandma who, shuffling towards you, eagerly presented you with a precious bowl of congee?

So, why is it that we all default to certain eating habits from our childhood? The habit produces something that makes us come back to it again and again. That something, I realize, is the feeling of comfort.

A bit of googling showed that dietary habits instilled in us while we were children hardly change as we get old. That’s why you may have a soft spot for your grandma’s pumpkin pie, your aunt’s curry, or in the case of plain congee for me and orange for D. We don’t always have to have it, but certain scenarios will trigger us to seek this comfort.

Now…imagine if you feed your kids ice creams after dinner instead of oranges or congee. They may likely default to ice cream for comfort, without thinking twice about it. The continuous need for this feeling of comfort may make the eating habit incredibly difficult to kick once they get older. It may take more than a lifetime. Some food for thought.

How about you? What is that one eating habit that you default to for comfort?

我的爷爷

爷爷享年91岁。我听到消息时,爷爷已经即将要被火化 。我第一次经历至亲去世,心里空落得疼。一个无比丰富的灵魂,一个历经种种的人,就这样蒸发了。那些欢乐与悲伤, 也就这样随风而去了。

爷爷出生于天津, 在一个大家庭里长大,排行老二, 是个二少爷。

爷爷从小在天主教小学上学,很早就学习英文。也许是那时,爷爷开始了他对于英文的一辈子的钟爱。 爷爷后来成为了一名优秀的英文教师,桃李满天下。直到一年前,爷爷90 岁高龄,依然在家里教学。有趣的是,因为我先生只会讲英语,去年当我带他回国时,除了我的姐夫,爷爷竟是唯一一个可以和我先生流利对话的人。

想起来愧疚,我来加拿大以后,爷爷让我给他写英文信, 我中学时还经常写,但上了大学以后,就越来越少了。记得有次爷爷兴奋的告诉我 “潇潇,我从你这学了个新词 ‘kind of’ ,中文翻译是‘有一点’。我教了几十年英语,第一次听到这种用法。还是你的英语正宗.” 那时我别提有多自豪了。如果时光倒流,真希望当时多花点时间给爷爷写英文信。

和爷爷奶奶打电话时,也是主要跟奶奶说话,因为爷爷耳背,在加上长途电话信号不好,所以时常听到爷爷在后面叮嘱奶奶给我传话, 却没能和爷爷多说几句。偶尔爷爷接了电话,爷爷一听到是我,第一句话总是“哎呀潇潇,好想你啊!”每一次听到都会有些心酸和愧疚。我天天只知道去忙工作,忙社交,忙恋爱,我不知道我是否曾像爷爷想我那样想念着他。

爷爷酷爱京剧,尤其是张君秋的春秋亭。 据说爷爷在中国银行上班时, 张君秋曾来访。爷爷还给张先生表演了一段,张先生还给他鼓了掌,爷爷一直 为此引以为豪。在我14岁时,爷爷奶奶来到加拿大探亲,爷爷把这经典的段子教给了我,因此我也爱上了京剧,使我在迷茫的中学时光里, 让我能以次抚慰我孤独的心灵。

爷爷一辈子做事认真,一丝不苟。记得爷爷给我和爸爸妈妈写信时,总是会在白纸上划好线,一笔一划的写上漂亮的楷书。可惜的是,我没能够继承爷爷这一手字。

爷爷走了,但是他留给了我们儿孙好多礼物,他做事认真,为人厚道,对知识永无止境的追求都渗透了我们的思想,体验于我们的教养中。这是爷爷传承于我们最好的礼物。希望爷爷能够在天堂安息,劳累了一辈子,该好好休息了。

 

I Am the One and Only

The only way to experience the deepest inner peace is to know and embrace who you are and your place in the world.

I used to want to be good at everything and I’d be really hard on myself if I wasn’t. I disliked math when I was a kid, but I made sure that I was one of the top students. If I didn’t get an A+ on a test, I’d beat myself up and work my butt off to get the next A+. Looking back, I realized that I should have cut myself some slack. Math wasn’t where my natural inclination lay, and that is alright.

I used to dislike doing things that I wasn’t good at, because I thought they exposed my vulnerabilities. I did not like playing the board game Settlers of Catan because I never managed to win the game.  Looking back, I realized that I should have simply laughed and admitted to myself that I wasn’t good at the game. Not being good at the game is alright.

I used to feel guilty when someone of a similar background was noticeably better than me at something. For example, if someone around the same age at work did an amazing presentation, a voice inside my head would ask myself why I couldn’t be just as good at presenting. I’d then blame myself for not having worked hard enough to perfect this skill. Looking back, I’ve realized that someone would always be better than me at something, and that is alright.

Last week, I was playing a board game that required quite a bit of strategizing, similar to the Settlers of Catan. I clearly wasn’t having the upper hand. Usually I’d be quite frustrated at myself, but this time, I found myself actually enjoying the game despite that I wasn’t winning.  After the night ended, I was reflecting upon why I didn’t feel a sense of resentfulness as I used to feel. It dawned on me that:

I’ve finally learned to accept my whole self, just the way I am.

I’ve learned that it’s alright not to be good at something. I’ve learned to be happy for someone else when s/he is great at something. I’ve learned to appreciate my unique strengths, even though they may not be so apparent, because I’m the one and only.

 

run

The First Blog Post

I used to describe myself as an aspiring blogger. Today I will cross off the word “aspiring”.

But why today – the Christmas Day of 2016?

Because I accepted my friend Felix’s challenge to publish my first blog post before 2017 and my pride is at stake.

Ok on a more serious note, below are some reasons as to why I want to start a blog today. It’s not for money or fame – it’s just because I want to start prioritizing things I love, rather than putting them off for things that others think I should be doing.

It’s my passion

Do you ever feel that time stops when you do something you love? It does for me when I read or write.

I’ve always wanted to leave the world with pieces of my writing ever since I was a little girl. I used to pour hours and hours writing poetry and stories. I wrote a knockoff story on Harry Potter. I made up a dynasty that had only female rulers and every one of them was a Kung Fu master. I wrote a novel about power struggles amongst a bunch of 10-year-old girls leading a cult…

You get the idea.

There is never going to be a good time

Starting a blog has been part of my new year resolutions for the past x number of years. It never happened. Why? Because I never had “free time”.

I could never find a big chunk of my day to sit down and let my mind wonder into the great beyond. I’d keep telling myself that I’d get started as soon as I find a job, as soon as I get married, as soon as I finish furnishing my new place, and as soon as  (you fill in the blank)the-happiness-project…Bottom line – my passions have never been a priority, because I did not consider them to be “legit”things I should be doing.

Then I stumbled upon The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. On a rainy afternoon on her usual commute, Gretchen decided that she wasn’t as happy as she could be and she wanted to start a “happiness project” once she has some free time. It dawned on her (as it did on me) that there is never going to be a good time to do so. If she wants this project to happen, it has to be done “here and now”. Life takes its ordinary course day after day and it does not stop for anyone.

This book has inspired me to find my voice, seize the day and make time for things I love, even if there is no apparent or immediate benefit.

What is the blog going to be about? 

It will be about everything that interests me- psychology, culture, happiness, love, and fashion, etc. I’ll be sharing my reveries from a kaleidoscope of life experiences that I’ve had and stories that I’ve read…

This will be my haven amidst all the hustling and bustling in my everyday existence.

Thank you for reading.

Santorini, Greece                                                                                     Photo credit: Studio Phosart