Top 3 things our younger siblings taught us

Now that my little sister has headed off to college, the home isn’t a home until all the members are…home.  There are now silent nights where my sister and I used to fight for our privacy in our shared bathroom.  There are now spoiled bananas, clementines, and pineapples because the fruit monkey used to eat them whenever our mom buys the fruits for sacred offerings.  There is now peace in the house that at times it’s hard to get used to.  Now I think of it, there are more than 3 things my sister taught me, but I hope these make you think of your siblings as well.

1. Try new things

My little sister is a fearless little thing, she would be willing to travel to places that she has never been.  She’s always been open to going to new places, meeting new people, and eating new foods.  Watching her, I used to fear for her.  No, she doesn’t do anything dangerous, but I fear because I myself would not be courageous enough to travel to Ohio for chorus concerts, or cheerlead for the school football team every freezing, cold, fall nights.  From watching her, I learned to slowly ease myself into doing new things.  From watching her, I was brave enough to travel to 2,000 miles away from home for work, enjoy the amazing taste of sushi, and going to live concerts.

2. Being a better friend

I am an introvert who loves quiet places, I paint, I bake, I like scenic places.  My sister is completely opposite.  She’s an extrovert, she socializes, she volunteers, she likes meeting new people.  If we were to ever met as complete strangers, we both agreed that we would never see things eye to eye.  Being sisters, I learned to see things that are different from my own perspectives.  As an artist and a pastry chef in training, I would offer her fashion advices and teach her how to bake cakes and cheesecake pies that she likes.  As a people person, she taught me to be assertive when someone steps over the line, to be confident in front of people, and how handle my awkwardness in a social setting.  Fate and our blood lines tied us together and we learned as we grow up, to respect and support each other.  She doesn’t just teach me to be a better sister, she taught me to be a better person.

3. A better listener

While growing up, we all had to go pass stages where we see there’s more beyond ourselves.  The world doesn’t revolve around us, it’s only a matter of perspective.  Whenever my sister would tell me stories, I tend to interject with my thoughts and opinions.  She would tell me to “stop talking, and listen to my whole story first!”  We would often share our stories of our high school and college crushes, broken heart stories, and fun things we did with our friends.  One time when I was upset about one sided relationship with a friend that didn’t treat me with respect, my sister would listen quietly and offered supportive advices to me.  For someone who’s younger, she is more mature than she looks.  Whenever I feel the urge to interject my thoughts, I would remember her telling me to stop and to actually listen.  In some ways, I supposed I listen better now…I’ll find out what she thinks when she comes back to visit for spring break.

Siblings pick up on each other’s quirks and behaviors.  They are almost mirrors of ourselves.  Without my sister, I would not be the person I am today.  So, despite the times where we fight for bathroom, food, and family dog’s attention, I’m grateful my parents gave me a little sister.

The Art of Asking for Help – Who knows what?!?

I used to feel extremely humiliated when I have to ask for help.  What’s worse was when I had to reach over to my (secret) arch-enemy in 9th grade Algebra Trigonometry class to ask him for help.  Oh! The humiliation!  He was always happy to help me, but it was because of my inflated ego that ballooned way too big, making it very, very difficult for me to be humble enough to seek for assistance.  I would be extremely frustrated with myself and imagined my arch enemy sneering at me as I struggled to untangle this monstrous math equation.  That’s how I lived through middle school and high school, I always had this foolish idea that I’m smarter than everyone else and no one could possibly be smart enough to be of any help to me.  Boy, was I wrong!  There’s that one day when I got stuck on a math problem that even I can not solve.  I could not even match up to my own standards!  How embarrassing was that?!

I have to admit, it was the first time I had to deflate my ego and muster what self-respect I had left to admit to myself that I didn’t understand the problem.  The next step was to ask my classmate for help.  Thinking back on my school days, I was just being silly.  However, these experiences helped me come up with these 6 steps for how to ask effectively.

Please keep in mind that asking for help is a two-way street!  Here’s how you start!

1. Identify the problem 

The only way to solve a problem is to know what is the problem.  If you can not pinpoint what’s the problem, then it will be difficult to find the best fitting solution.  While asking your “expert,” always keep the problem in mind.

2. Acknowledge you don’t know the subject.

It sounds easy but it is not at all.  When I had my inflated ego, it made me less receptive to new ideas and ignorant of the problem.  My mind would find ways to deny that I don’t know about the subject and would make up things for what it’s lacking.  Don’t you find yourself making up weird explanations when you can’t answer a question?  Exactly.  If you can catch yourself before your mind makes up excuses or explanations for you, you find out what you don’t know.  As a result, you will be more open to novel ideas from others.

3. Be curious

Once you know the problem, and be open to new ideas from other people, you should definitely crank up your curiosity.  Think like a kid, question things that your mind draws blank lines to which you can’t answer.  Once the first few questions pop up in your mind, several more will surely follow, I promise.  😀  As your “expert” answers your questions, create different paths with the stones given to you.  By doing so, your creativity will help you find the best solution to your problem.

4.  Know your “expert”   

Definition: “expert” – The person who may or may not have all the answers. Be nice to him/her

Hmmm, how many times have we been frustrated or confused when our teachers gave us the wrong answer or pointless answers to our questions?  Many times!  If you know your “expert,” you should definitely phrase your questions in a way that he or she can understand what you are asking.  If the person does not understand your questions, it will be difficult to get anywhere with the information given to you.  Be flexible, rephrase questions for when the questions are not clear or concise enough.  I find that if the questions are not clear, I give examples and definitions to give alternative ways to help the “expert” understand my problem.

5. Be patient and grateful

Being patient with your “expert” is very important.  If it takes you a while to understand your problem and phrasing your questions, it does take the person you are asking, some time to be in the same context as you.  Being patient is beneficial for both people because there’s less stress between you two, therefore, he or she will likely be able to think and answer your questions precisely.  Think about it, if I rudely ask you a question and I ask you to give me the answer QUICK! You may end up ignoring me!  I will be even more stressed and annoyed!  Don’t forget to be grateful that he or she is taking time out of his or her busy or not-so-busy schedule to help you.  Regardless whether the information he or she provides is useful to you or not, always thank him or her. Don’t burn bridges by insulting him or her if your “expert” is not useful to you…yet!

6. Return the favor

Most of the time, people do not expect you to return the favor when they helped you out.  However, helping the other person is a mutual relationship.  Although you are not of any help to your “expert” now, later on, he or she can ask for that favor from you.  I always try to return the favor as soon as possible because that way, I don’t forget, and it shows that I’m eager to help, when I can.

These six steps have helped me many times and I believe I no longer have that silly inflated ego anymore (hopefully.)  I’m more humble because I can readily admit I do not know certain subjects and I’m not afraid to ask.  I make sure there’s always a reason to my questions, and I try to make good use of the answers given to me.  Most of the time, I guide my “expert” with my questions, this allows me to keep the goal in sight.  I hope this is helpful to you!

***Side story:  What’s sweet was that my arch enemy had a crush on me so he was always happy to help me.  He asked me out one time and I didn’t really understand what “going out” was, so I told him I had to work on math homework.  What’s sour was that my house got egged later that week.  You do the math.

Forgotten passions

Forgotten passions

Lately, my life has been busy but wonderful, nonetheless.  I have many, many exciting moments of joy, laughter, love, and awkwardness.  My career has been going well; my persistence and efforts paid off.  I got the opportunities to obtain more time sensitive tasks and attention from my upper management.  It’s amazing to know that I’m no longer a forgotten, working gear that’s creaking quietly in a corner.  Now, I’m being dusted off and shined!  Maybe I’m doing something right, I should definitely continue to put out 110% effort in my career.  Some nights, I’m tired, but still overwhelmed with happiness.

For the past month or so, I spent some quality time my little sister, who was home for the winter break.  We talked about money, school, friends, and boys.  I’m kinda sad to see that my sister is no longer a little 7 year-old girl who readily believed in my fantastic ventriloquism.  I have to admit, I was a superb ventriloquist.  I made her childhood a living nightmare that was filled with tears and nonsensical conflicts caused by her favorite bossy and annoying stuffed Labrador Retriever, Fifi.  Of course, now she tortures me with her endless teasing and puppy faces that I can’t resist.  Many times I caved in to her invitations to eat out, going to spa, and shopping, it’s breaking my bank!  (Gosh, I need to figure out how to resist this…cute devil!)

When Christmas passed, “he” came, nah let’s say stumbled…rolled…uhm ok, walked into my life.  There were definitely LOTS of awkward moments.  It was full of silly jokes, laughters, and of course, countless mini heart palpitations.  We went on an explosive number of date nights consisting of ice skating, movies, drinks, and eating out.   While I was trying to juggle work life, family life, and personal life, “he” made everything around me feel so effortless and worthwhile.  I’m very grateful that someone as wonderful as him exists.  “He” is the best fitting lid to my pan so far! 😀

Today, my cousin, who I considered as my older brother, spent some time with me to catch up on things since we haven’t seen each other in a month.  He is awesome.  My cousin is always supportive and he never fails to give me his male perspectives on life.  I really enjoy being with him because he tolerates (hehe) my quirky comments and spontaneous spurs to do things that are definitely out of his comfort zone (i.e. going to shooting range.)

Usually when I write, I want to share meaningful advices or things that brighten everyone’s days.  However, on this post, I want to be selfish and talk about my passions for my career, and loved ones.  I called this title “Forgotten Passions,” not because I forgot.  I want to remind everyone that when you start to forget your passion, you forget how amazing it makes you feel.  Just remember that those moments you share with the people around you or you doing something you enjoy, you can never get them back.  So, if you are passionate about something, cherish them, or if you are like me, share them to the world!

“Improving oneself”

“Improving oneself”

There are many things I want to change about myself…

THINGS I want to improve that I have procrastinated for so long.

I tell my friends, and family about these visions of my self-improvements

BUT these changes have not become actions yet.

If I say it enough times, I start to believe in these words…

and soon enough they become self-fulfilling prophecies.

“Believing that you can change yourself is half the battle.”

“Why frown when you can SMILE?”

Here’s loads of quotes that will convince you why you should smile!

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness ” ― William Arthur Ward

“It takes a lot of energy to be negative. You have to work at it. But smiling is painless. I’d rather spend my energy smiling” ― Eric Davis (former MLB star and cancer survivor)

Smile, it’s the key that fits the lock on everyone’s hearts.

“When I look out at the people and they look at me and they’re smiling, then I know that I’m loved. That is the time when I have no worries, no problems.” ― Etta James

“People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.” ― Abraham Lincoln

“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” ― Mother Teresa

“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.” ― Dalai Lama

“I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.” ― Leonardo da Vinci

“I was smiling yesterday, I am smiling today and I will smile tomorrow. Simply because life is too short to cry for anything.”
― Santosh Kalwar, Quote Me Everyday

“Anyone who has a continuous smile on his face conceals a toughness that is almost frightening.”
― Greta Garbo

“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.”
― Charles Chaplin

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
― Dr. Seuss

Smile photo link: http://finkorswim.com/2012/01/06/smile-a-guest-post/

“The things that I like”

Things that I like

random cloud shapes

sunny side up eggs

my dog’s smile

scarves!

fields and fields of dandelions, sunflowers, and tulips

leaves!                        yellow, orange and red leaves in the fall                    leaves!

snore!!!                        the sound of my                     dog’s snores                            snore!!!

the smell of watermelon on summer’s day

pitter-pattering sounds of rain against my window

the sweet, and airy taste of chocolate croissants

and finally, that certain person’s smile…

he’s smiling

back

at me.

What do you like?

Gestures of love

“Each person’s way of expressing their love is different. Mine is not like yours.”

Hot tears of disappointment roll down my cheeks as I slowly struggle to sound out my words,

“Mom, I love you.  Each person’s way of expressing their love is different.  Mine is not like yours.”

Touched, my mom quickly reaches her arms out and embraces me tightly as we both cry our eyes out.

“Shhh, ssh, I know.  I know now.” she whispers.

I learn that in life, there are millions of ways to express love, whether it is the love for your family members, your friends, your partner, or yourself.  The problem arises when you misunderstand the other person’s intentions…arguments often follow.

Recently, our family’s car insurance policy suddenly is cancelled by our agent.  We do not know the reason why he cut us but now my mom is forced to find a new insurance company.

Because my mom loves me, she does not want to burden me with family troubles so she tries to take care of it by herself.  She attempts to call other insurance companies and compare prices on her own.  I assume (ASSUME!) everything is swell until she asks me to print the forms out so she can sign and return the papers to the new insurance company.  I tell her I will do that, but I want to sit her down and read through the policy with her to make sure we know what we are paying for.

My mom gets really upset and accuses me of implying that her English is not fluent and that I make it extremely difficult for her to ask any favors from me.  She walks to the kitchen and starts to marinate the pork meat noisily.  The clattering noises she makes while she angrily cooks in the kitchen, warned and threatened both my dad and me to stay out of her way.  Shocked and confused, I slump on the couch in the living and tries to make sense of it all.   I don’t understand.  Why does she think that way?

I do not want to let this misunderstanding get worse so I decide to confront her.  I softly say, “Mom, I just want to help you.  I know you have been fine all these years with buying insurance, but I was just looking out for you.”

“I don’t want to burden you because you are so busy all the time.” my mom replies.

“But mom, don’t worry about that, if I’m busy and I can’t help you, I will let you know.  But if you need help but you don’t let me know, how can I help you?”

By then, my mom and I were both crying our eyes out.  I think what I did broke through her invisible walls.  She tends to put up the entire act because she is trying to hide her vulnerability.  She is trying to act strong for me, for the whole family to go about with our lives without feeling the weight she has been carrying.  I call my mom’s gesture of love as the “unobservable gestures of love.”  Some of the unobservable actions she has done often go unnoticed by my sister and me but you can definitely feel the effects of her anger and frustrations when she can no longer handle the burden she carries on her shoulders each day.  When things crumble out of my beloved mom’s hands, you will finally learn what made her act angry, distant and childish.  This, is one of those moments.

Thanks to my mom, I have been living happily, oblivious to the burdens she has to carry. However, now that I can help the family, it is really hard to help my mom without making her feel threatened or powerless.  For me, my way of showing I care is by assisting when I’m asked to help, and looking out for my parents in situations when I’m asked to be involved.  I do not want to be nosy and bug them about little things because my dad’s and my ways of showing we care are by resolving the problem together, and acting happy and unaffected by mom’s little thunderstorms in order to keep the artificial peace in the house.  My dad and I try to make big problems turn into small, we dissect things and we solve it together as a family.  My dad and my way of showing love is what I call, “observable gestures of love.”  Unfortunately, my poor mom tends to contain the problems to herself and unintentionally grow them bigger than they should be.  Our ways of showing we care often get twisted through words and actions that had only one goal, to express our love for each other.

From tonight’s experience, I can sum up to you the 5 gestures of love that exist in my family.  I’m sure everyone has various ways that they express their love.  My mom’s way is unobservable, while my dad and I are observable.  The other 3 categories for gestures of love are verbal, physical, and selflessness. Verbal gestures of love is when I tell my mom that I love her, and physical gestures of love is when my mom hugs and pats me on my head after she finally understands my intentions.  Lastly, the selflessness gesture of love is when you look beyond all the pain and disappointments your loved one inflicted on you and you forgive.  I forgive the things my mom says to me because I love her.

Each person’s way of expressing their love is different.  What are your gestures of love?