Important Life Lessons From Kindergarten

‘Tis the season for mixed emotions! The exhilaration of school ending … the fear of a non-scheduled summer vacation … and the bittersweetness of graduation.

The last emotion was what I felt yesterday as I helped C into a¬†frilly and sparkly dress and tied the gold ribbon behind her back. It was with pride that I watched her enter the auditorium with a blue cap balanced on her head. And it was with a twinge of sadness that I hugged her after the ceremony and said, “Good job, baby!”, to which she promptly replied, “I’m not a baby!”

But she’ll always be my baby, even though she is now a kindergarten graduate. ūüôā

I am so thankful for all the teachers out there who invest their time and hearts into making a difference in the world – one child at a time. I am especially thankful for C’s kindergarten teacher (who had been¬†E’s, too) who helped me see a different side of my munchkin. During the graduation, Mrs. C handed out a certificate to each student¬†with a character trait that she thought represented them the best. I had been looking forward to this part of the ceremony and hearing C’s personalized trait. Would it be helpfulness or kindness? Or maybe joyfulness?

Nope.

Mrs. C chose gentleness.

*Insert open-mouthed expression here.*

Haha. In all honesty, the trait of gentleness had never crossed my mind. The C I know and love is spunky with a capital S. She sets her mind to do something and¬†doesn’t let anything stop her. She is expressive and loud like a firecracker. Mild and meek, she is not.

But Mrs. C mentioned that C treats the other kids in her class with gentleness.¬†And that when it is her turn to be the “calendar person” and she pokes her in the arm with the stick that she is supposed to be using to point at the date on the wall, she does it gently. LOL. (And yes, she is the only kid who has ever dared to poke Mrs. C – I tell ya, she’s spunky!)

My gentle, spunky munchkin!

My gentle, spunky munchkin!

Mrs. C also shared the following poem with all the parents: “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum. It’s a sweet reminder of what’s important in life.

Most of what I really need
To know about how to live
And what to do and how to be
I learned in kindergarten.
Wisdom was not at the top
Of the graduate school mountain,
But there in the sandpile at Sunday school.

These are the things I learned:

Share everything.
Play fair.
Don’t hit people.
Put things back where you found them.
Clean up your own mess.
Don’t take things that aren’t yours.
Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody.
Wash your hands before you eat.
Flush.
Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you.
Live a balanced life –
Learn some and think some
And draw and paint and sing and dance
And play and work everyday some.
Take a nap every afternoon.
When you go out into the world,
Watch out for traffic,
Hold hands and stick together.
Be aware of wonder.

May we all strive to live out these lessons from kindergarten. ūüôā

Check out this¬†new song by Jessie J., “Flashlight”, that has a graduation feel to it. Hope you have a wonderful time celebrating the graduates in your lives!

What life skill from the kindergarten poem do you want to incorporate into your life?

What the Avengers Taught Me About Marriage

Here’s the question of the day: Who is your favorite superhero?

Wonder Woman? The Flash? Black Widow? Batman? Who would you pick?

I have a theory about how people answer this question. I think you’re most likely to choose the¬†superhero that you identify with.

So if you asked my hubby who his favorite one is, he’d automatically say Iron Man.

Me? I’d go with Captain America.

Image courtesy of flickr

Image courtesy of flickr

Which totally explains all the conflict that we have in our marriage. ūüėČ

Watching the recent Avengers movie confirmed this. Every time Captain America reminded someone to watch their language, I smiled (and cheered). And every time Iron Man made fun of him for doing that, I rolled my eyes. It was like watching the dynamics of our marriage played out on the big screen, except with a lot more explosions and fancy special effects.

If you know anything about the characters from the comics or movies, you’ll know that these two superheroes are fairly different. Okay, they’re more like night and day, complete opposites. We’re talking about Mr. No-Holds-Barred vs. Ms. Goody-2-Shoes.¬†And while you might think one guy¬†is the tougher/smarter/cooler/nobler one, the truth is that they’re both superheroes in their own right.

That’s the marriage lesson I came away with after watching Avengers: Age of Ultron. All the superheroes have their own unique personalities and backstories (which the movie did a good job of going into this time). They all have their own strengths and weaknesses. By themselves, they would¬†never¬†be able to defeat the bad guy. But together, they were able to¬†save the world from destruction – and provide a lot of entertaining moments¬†along the way.

Just like me and hubby … except without the high tech gadgets and evil robot.

Now excuse me while I go hang up my cape. ūüôā

Hehehe

Hehehe! A funny left over from a few weeks ago.

I heard¬†Peter Frampton’s “Baby, I Love Your Way” on the radio the other day and thought it’d be a good song for¬†this post. Even though hubby and I have different ways of doing things, I’m learning to appreciate his way and hopefully, vice versa. ūüôā

Who is your favorite superhero?

The Power of the (Toilet) Plunger and the Pen

Have you ever witnessed¬†a backed-up toilet explode? Let me tell you, it’s not a pretty sight (or smell!).

During my last two years of college, I had the pleasure of living with three girlfriends. We shared a lot of things in that two bedroom apartment Рmeals, laughter, tears and, of course, a bathroom. And it was in that tiny bathroom that I got the shock of my life one spring afternoon when I pushed down the lever to flush.

Sputter. Gurgle. WHOOSH.

Before I could blink, the water in the bowl had risen¬†to the rim and began rushing over the edge like a mini Niagara Falls. I jumped back¬†as far as I could as the contents of the toilet¬†seeped onto¬†the linoleum and threatened to touch my bare feet. Half holding my breath and half praying, I considered my options: A) Run and hide! or B) Unclog the toilet. No matter how much I wanted to go with the first option, I knew I’d have to deal with¬†the mess¬†sooner or later. The only problem was that none of us girls had thought to buy a toilet plunger.

Oops.

Thankfully, the landlord lived upstairs, and after explaining the situation to him, he ventured into the toxic waste zone known as our bathroom and restored the porcelain throne to working condition. After thanking him profusely, I cleaned up the floor, disinfected my hands and said a prayer of thanks for whoever invented the plunger. (The fact that I used three forms of the word thanks in two sentences should tell you how thankful I was!)

Image courtesy of Mister GC/freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of Mister GC/freedigitalphotos.net

Who knew a¬†simple rubber device like a plunger could be so powerful? ūüôā

I think the same can be said of the pen.

You’ve probably heard the quote “The pen is mightier than the sword”. Have you ever thought about why that’s true?

As someone who writes every day, I can testify to how amazing words are. They have the influence to make or break a person, the force to change a situation and the power to evoke laughter or tears. Most importantly, I believe words have the power to heal.

How do words heal? By taking the unspoken and unsettled things in our hearts¬†and bringing¬†them to the forefront. By pinpointing the reasons behind¬†our emotions – our joy and sadness and¬†fear – and¬†making¬†us reflect on them. Taking the time to put¬†our thoughts and feelings into words forces us to stop … to feel … and to be.

We spend so much of our days doing and fighting and stuffing and, basically, hiding away the experiences we go through. This is especially true of the negative situations we face. It’s so much safer to push the bad memories and emotions down and not deal with them. But the truth is that sooner or later, all the gunk and refuse¬†and waste we hide away¬†gets¬†backed-up in the recesses of our¬†hearts. And it cuts off¬†the life that should be flowing through¬†it. And as we learned¬†from my bathroom story, a clogged toilet – or heart – is not a pretty sight.

I recently read some old essays that I wrote a few years ago. These pieces were penned when I first began my writing journey and was still processing through a lot of “life stuff” from the past. As expected, the words I jotted down were a little on the emo side and even a little dark. Reading those essays probably should have brought me down, but they didn’t. I felt nothing but relief and freedom.

It was through the power of the pen (or in my case, the computer keyboard) that I was able to dig through the stuff that I had hidden away. When I formed those experiences and emotions into words, I began the process of unclogging my heart.

Writing is seriously one of the best (and¬†cheapest) forms of therapy. You can do it anytime and anywhere, as long as you have a pen and a piece of paper. So, take some time to listen to your heart and write down what it’s telling you.

Also, take a listen to Rachel Platten’s song, “Fight Song”. I hope it will inspire you to fight for your freedom from¬†the¬†stuff that’s clogging up your heart.

What experiences or emotions are clogging your heart? Write about them today.

Conversations with a 6 Year Old about Relationships

C was in the middle of her bedtime routine when she asked me, “Do you love Po Po (maternal Grandma) and Gong Gong (maternal Grandpa) more or Bob (aka. Baba) more?”

In the mirror I saw her head tilt up as she looked at me, the top of her three foot frame nearly reaching my shoulders thanks to the stool she stood on. Her big brown eyes sparkled with intensity, waiting for an answer.

Hm? What was she getting at? And why do I always get asked the strange/deep/unanswerable questions?

Humph. But as any parent (and¬†therapist) knows, when you don’t have an answer to a question, you keep your cool and do the ‘ole switcheroo. So I asked the¬†question back, “Who do you think I love more?”

She¬†replied¬†without hesitation (because as usual¬†C already had it all figured out and was just testing me!), “Bob, of course. Because without Bob, you wouldn’t have me and E.”

Hee hee. Of course. ūüôā

Although her 6 year old logic had some flaws, she was right about one thing. Life is all about relationships.

No matter who we are, where we come from or where we’re going, we are all connected to other people. Our parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, children, neighbors, classmates, coworkers, friends, enemies, strangers … the list goes on and on, especially if you include social networking.

My conversation with C got me thinking that as much as I’m an introvert and prefer to be alone, I am a better person because of the relationships I have. (I may have groaned as I typed that last sentence.)

The hardest things I have had to learn¬†have happened because of other people’s presence and influence on my life. I’m talking about the processes of acceptance, forgiveness and trust. There’s also¬†the acts of sharing, cooperation and encouragement. To put it simply, it’s the lessons of learning how to get along¬†that have built my character. (Okay, I did groan this time, haha.)

As complicated and messy and tiring as relationships can be, we would not be who we are without them. And I firmly believe the people we have in our lives are there for a reason.

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What’s that reason? It’s the¬†four letter word that seems to weave itself through all of our relationships: LOVE.

It’s a sense of belonging that we all want and need. It’s the idea that C has that she and E¬†are important to me, which is why I should¬†love their Baba¬†more than their¬†grandparents. I didn’t mention¬†to her that without my parents, I wouldn’t be around to have kids, but that’s beside the point. What I did say to her at the end of our conversation was this: “I love God the most¬†because He gave all of you¬†to me.”

And maybe that was a cop-out answer or the most brilliant answer I could have given, but it is what I know to be true. I am thankful for all the people that God has brought to cross my path. I may not always act like it (especially when I just want some peace and quiet!), but my world is so much richer because of all the relationships Рclose and far, in person and online Рthat I have had the privilege of meeting and doing life with.

So, here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend of being with the people you love, especially the¬†moms in your life¬†this Sunday. ūüôā

And here’s a fun parody of the song “American Boy” by Only Won & Larissa Lam called “Cantonese Boy”. I picked it in light of C’s answer to her own question (that I should love hubby more) and also because I just celebrated 14 years of marriage with my own Cantonese boy. ūüôā

Who are the people in your life that you are sure crossed your path for a reason? 

True To You: Cover Reveal & Book Release Day!

Penny pinchers and tofu and arranged marriages – OH MY!

Welcome to Melanie Koo’s world, as revealed in my second novella¬†True To You.¬†If you read my first book Straight To You, you’ll remember Melanie¬†as Ashlynn’s sister-in-law. I loved her character and that of Ben Peters so much that I wanted to tell their story, too. But as most romances go, there are some hurdles Mel and Ben have to overcome first in order to find their “happily-ever-after” (aka. one traditional five foot one Chinese¬†mother).

I had such fun writing this book and incorporating parts of my culture into it. As expected, it includes some classic Chinese stereotypes that will make you say aiya!, as well as some sibling rivalry scenarios that will make you laugh and want to go call your sister or brother.

I hope you all enjoy reading this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Without further ado, here’s the cover reveal! (A special thanks goes to Deborah Bradseth of Tugboat Design¬†for her fabulous work. The original picture had the girl wearing shorts, but Deborah did her magic and turned it into a skirt!)

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True To You

Wanted: A man with the four C’s (Chinese, Christian, Cash and Career). Ability to cure hives a definite plus.

Melanie Koo may be a physician skilled in helping others, but the one thing she can’t fix is her own love life. That’s why her mother comes up with the perfect remedy-an arranged marriage. Being the dutiful daughter that she is, she agrees to this loveless match … until a chance meeting leads her straight to the cure for her hopeless heart.

Ben Peters is everything Melanie was not looking for in a guy, but she can’t help but be drawn to his passionate and kind nature and, not to mention, those adorable dimples. For once in her life, she considers breaking parental expectations to go after what she wants. The only thing standing in her way is a five foot one traditional Chinese mother and her scheming ways.

Now Melanie has to make the biggest decision of her life. Will she stay true to her family or will she choose to believe that true love can be colorblind?

The book is now available in both paperback and Kindle formats on Amazon.com. If you have Amazon Prime, you can borrow it for free. For a sneak peek of the first chapter, check out my True To You page on this blog (click here).

So treat yourself and grab a copy to read¬†this weekend!¬†And I’d appreciate you leaving¬†a review on Amazon when you’re done to help spread the word. Thanks!!

Now available on Amazon.com: Paperback or Kindle

P.S. Both Straight To You and True To You are part of the Taking Chances Series, but each book can be read as a standalone. In case you haven’t read Straight To You, you’ll have a chance to get the Kindle version¬†on Amazon.com for FREE (I love that word!) on May 5 – May 6, 2015 in celebration of my and hubby’s 14th anniversary (and also Cinco de Mayo)! ūüôā So remember to grab your free copy on those two days and feel free to let your friends know, too. Click here¬†for the link to Straight To You!