life

ON BEING ASIAN AMERICAN

There has been so much discussion about race in America. I’m not going to make any comments on what I think is right or wrong. I just want to share my experience as an Asian-American. There is an interesting intersection as an Asian in America – first generation Chinese-American, to be more specific. Even though we, generally, do better for minorities, we are often seen as foreigners. Smart. But nonetheless, we are seen as “others.” We are seen as exotic, foreign, even oriental (like a rug…). Growing up, my family was isolated. My parents didn’t know English very well, so they stayed within their own bubble. After my dad immigrated here, he slowly brought family members over, one by one. I can’t imagine how lonely it was when he was here by himself...

FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE: THREE WAYS I’VE CHANGED SINCE MOVING ABROAD

  After moving to Stockholm this past spring, I’ve tried my hardest to dive right into the Swedish lifestyle. I haven’t exactly bought myself a Volvo yet (the beauty of living in a city with public transport!!) but I’ve definitely become more “Swedish” than I had realized. As a dual citizen (thankful an American met a Swede in the 90s, and I now have two passports) I’ve lived in the US for 15+ years and visited Sweden annually, so I’d always seen myself as something of a mix between the two. While in the States for a few weeks in July, it struck me that my thoughts, opinions and actions on certain things have done a complete 180- simply by osmosis is in my newfound home. Some of them I’d say are pretty positive, while others show me how great aspects of American life can be. Here are ...

HOW TO OVERCOME THE FEAR OF JUDGEMENT

Every painting session for me is a life lesson. It’s my subconscious guiding me towards what it wants me to change in my world view. This particular watercolor sketch, created while sitting on a windowsill in Paris, amidst a heat wave, was a huge breakthrough. Perhaps it’s a realization, to which all almost 40-year-olds arrive. It’s quite amazing, however, to witness it manifest itself while painting. I guess I call it “letting go.” I tried so hard to measure out axis and relational positioning. I was mindful of perspective and the direction of all lines. Yet, there’s always room for human error. Your hand wants to keep going, not constantly stop for the math to catch up. Therefore, there were tons of mishaps, tons of re-dos and not having an eraser drove me insane. I gue...

LULLABY FOR MOM

When did you first feel like a grown-up? When you graduated college? When you got married? Bought a house? Had a baby? Not me. Adulthood sucker-punched me at age 53, when I had to make decisions about my elderly mom. Mom was a formidable woman. She came from a poor Cuban family of 11 children, the middle child in a family where the four girls were significantly less important than the seven boys. It’s sobering to be faced with the raw realization that you are a witness to your parent’s entire life. No, you weren’t there for all of it, but you heard the stories about her youth, how she was teased by her siblings, how she had to walk for miles to get to school in shoes resoled with cardboard, the heartbreaks that defined her. You begin to uncover the mystery that is the most influential pers...

CONSTANT SEEKER: LEARNING TO NAVIGATE YOUR LIFE

What to do if you are never satisfied with yourself and what you do. You think that giving up is an option? I tried, believe me. I was not satisfied with it either. I was at my five-to-nine day job, next to the copy machine working constantly because tomorrow was a deadline for everything. I felt the heat of the machine and even an open window could not hold the hot air around me. It was my fourth job I had changed in five years. I thought I would go crazy. Since the moment I graduated from school, the constant seeker in me had woken up. I picked up my first job in children’s library and attended classes at University. That was my life. It might have been very satisfying, but it was not. When half of a year past I started questioning what I am going to do next, what my next steps are...

WAVES OF WANDERING FEET

Riding in the back of a truck where gypsy music soothes in the background Wind blows strings of hair across my face covering my sight and so I close my eyes as I feel the breeze smell the scents of grassy roots hear the Sea, waves crashing Carried by blistered feet due to two days of barefoot walks across the land town, garden, lava, pavement, tile and wooden floors I wait for the strengthened callouses to form   The soles of my feet have wandered streets homes of magical Spirits   We arrive to the sweet wooden Medicine cabin where air flows smoothly through our lungs At night, the lights around the bed light our dreamy state oh and when we wake, it is to the morning rays shining through the leaves of the fruity trees or to the raining sky pouring love onto the land!   Autho...

DEFINING YOUR HAPPINESS

Do you remember having to look up vocabulary words in English class? For me, it involved the use of a large hardcover dictionary; for some of you Dictionary.com or a similar website may have been your source. No matter what source was used, you found that most words were not limited to one definition, but often there were multiple meanings. Happiness is a trending term. It is a broad word that many try to define narrowly. Many self-help books have been written on it, public speakers hold seminars and conferences about it, life coaches offer their services to help guide you to it…. What does it mean? Just like many other words, happiness has more than one definition. Dictionary.com gives two: the quality or state of being happy is the first and most basic meaning, and the second is good for...

THE DEATH OF HARAMBE DEMONSTRATES AMERICA’S ENGRAINED HYPOCRISY

Last year, the country broke out in rage when the 17-year-old silverback gorilla, Harambe, was killed. Cincinnati zoo officials were forced to make the difficult decision to kill Harambe after a 3-year-old boy crawled into the enclosure and fell into a 12-foot-long moat. Harambe drug the boy through the moat and inadvertently risked ending the boy’s life. The encounter lasted 10 minutes before the decision was made to kill Harambe and save the little boy. This incident obviously shows a severe lack of responsibility of the zoo and a degree of negligence of the parents, but more importantly, it shows the extreme hypocrisy of the American people. First of all, many people responded to this violent tragedy and parent’s reckless behavior with violent and thoughtless remarks. There ...

I’M FINE

I’m fine as I keep on saying When I know for sure that’s a lie I smile and continue on with that mentality of “Smile! Stay Positive!” When down inside, this numb feeling of lost and confusion that I can’t still seem to figure out To know that I still loved you Even with the shit that you said Or the actions that were poorly portrayed When people didn’t even have the time or decency to get to know who you were on the inside and out When I saw potential in you and that I still see you have potential to this day As a person who cares I do hope your life is going well and for you to be successful I might be doing lit but there’s always obstacles that come into the way It’s not like I’ve come to the realization that I’m a sexual object...

23. MASTER’S STUDENT. UNEMPLOYED.

I cannot adult today. That phrase has turned into my new motto lately. I don’t know what it is but it holds so much truth in it. Maybe it’s all my responsibilities or maybe I don’t have enough things to do. Maybe it’s my lack of early 20’s success or maybe everything is just simply overrated. Everyone on social media seems to have their life figured out and know what their purpose is right out of college. (I’m not jealous or envious, I can only admire and congratulate them with sincere joy.) But, how do people do it? I have no answer for that question at all. I can tell you one thing for sure is that I am working on it. I am currently a Master’s student, trying to further my education and chances of getting a “good” job. Though, I am unemployed because I quit my old...

A POEM SERIES: TEN MINUTES, MY FATHER’S SON, MAUD

Ten Minutes In the next ten minutes I have to go, and you can’t let me just walk out of your life again.   Can’t let you! Can’t stop you, I said, and I won’t try, won’t try. How can I? What should I do? Follow you from place to place? Sit outside your house and chance being turned away, by someone? I don’t know where it is, in any case and I don’t want to know.   So what’s it to be? A thread? An occasional e-mail to keep in touch? I don’t think so! Our lives are so distant in every way, how to join them up?   The trick would be to store the memories and leave behind the sense of loss. Ditch the sadness. But we’ve tried before. And failed. And we’re running out of years. If we meet a next time, the chances are we’ll be too old to care.   We need to achieve a modus vivend...

WHAT DID I LEARN ABOUT MYSELF IN 30 YEARS

If you look back over the past 10 years and you recap all your desires, lists, prayers, dreams on sheets of paper and whispered plans just for the heart to hear, what would they say about you? This week I met an old friend, she was my first manager in the financial services industry. I haven’t seen her in almost 7 years. She decided to move to Brussels, but we kept in touch. Meeting her, I realized how much I changed since I met her 10 years ago. That’s what I learned about life. Coincidentally, yesterday – I read again about an old article about Victoria Beckham. Vogue Magazine had challenged her to write a letter to the 18-year-old Victoria, telling her everything she wanted to know about life in general and about things going on. It’s a great read that touches your sou...

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