Archive for December, 2010


Day 30 of the Reverb 10 Challenge:


Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What’s the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

This year I vowed to live more aware and therefore every moment and every thing was like a gift. That I could open my eyes every morning and start a new day, and try what I could not do the the previous day. That I could do again what I had enjoyed. That I could enjoy my family’s and friend’s presence. That people are kind to me. The friendships in my life. The simple act of having water at the turn of a faucet and a cozy shelter when it is cold and wet outside. We have our worries but it is not about not having food on the table or not being able to pay the bills. That is a big, big gift. Everything, all of these and more, tied with a big red bow. I am thankful.

Emotionally, I was able to sit with my friend K as and when and after her mother died. I was able to understand her better, and support her better. That was the gift from having my son died. So I could open my heart wider and listen to her better and hold her space better. I was honored that she shared many intimate thoughts and moments with me, that she allowed me to hold her grief. I am glad she felt safe to shed tears with me. I am really honored that she gave me a compilation of her mother’s favorite recipes. K gave me the gift of trust and friendship when she allowed me to honor her other with her. And I know too, that I was able to hold her space well because my son died and I know how it is like to be alone and grieving.


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It rained almost the whole day yesterday. I love the rain, but it also made me melancholic.

And then, during the night, the wind picked up. It blew and howled all night long. I could hear and feel, our bedroom window rattling, I could feel muscles in the wind, how it was trying to bend trees and test strengths and push limits. How it felt like it had teeth and claws and what a savage animal it could be. It reminded me of typhoon season in Hong Kong, when the rain will pour down in merciless buckets and the sky will literally turn black and the winds will take out everything in its path, a dangerous time indeed.

As I laid and listened, I felt the howling, pressing wind was like a metaphor for how grief can be like. Powerful and relentless. How it can break you. How it rattles, how it can take you by the knees and whip you and shatter you.

I also thought how the volcanic mountains can also be a metaphor for grief. How it explodes, and smother for days and days on end. How it may go to sleep for a time, and then erupt all over again, with added fervor. How, even when it goes dormant, is still a volcanic mountain. And you never can tell if it ever becomes active again, and when.

When I got up this morning, the sky was light and bright. I did not see any damages in our yard and I was a little surprised. Everything was rather still and quiet, and calm. The sun was out, but it is going to be windy today.

I am still melancholic. I miss my son.

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defining moment

counting down… third last post for the Reverb 10 challenge:

Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year.

I am indecisive and so it is always difficult for me to make a choice. The only exception is chocolates- dark only, please!

Thinking back, a lot of wonderful moments occur when we spent time in nature. I loved when we stood still on the hiking trails and just breathed deeply and looked out, looked up, looked around. When we saw the life, decay and death and goes on around us, wherever we go.

Moments in nature humble me and soothe me. Sometimes they hurt a little too, these constant and ubiquitous reminders that I have to let go and let be, that the Universe has a mysterious rhythm of its own and that I can try my best and still not get what I want.

There are also many moments too, through this year, when I found it was so much better to just let go and surrender. When I did not have to insist on being right and superior and the I-know-it-all mom. When I admit to mistakes and errors and bad choices.

In other words, when I allow myself to be human and humble, I feel I get better. I am not there yet, but I am trying.

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Achieve. (sigh)

Day 28 and three more posts to go!!

Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

It is probably just me but prompts like this makes me tired. It is because I am a sloth. Such get-up-and-move-your-ass-conquer-the-world-and-do-some-good energy sometimes make me want to dive lumber under the covers with a big box of truffles and just hide.

Not that I do not have a list, mind you, I am a list-maker! But there is no big it out there. I do have some things I would like to achieve but they are more inner work. Finding a way to be doing something I am passionate about and not having to go hungry because of that. Re-gaining my health and posture. Being more gentle with myself, being kinder to others. As a family we would love to serve in a soup kitchen, travel to a new place, and try something new as a family, like horse-trekking, or spending a night up in a tree-house.  In essence, live more fully and gently.

I imagine when I can achieve those tings I will feel very blissful indeed.

I think to achieve the above, I will need to:

  1. Be more aware of how I spend my time
  2. Spend less time on the computer
  3. Find out where to get yoga teacher certification
  4. streamline all housework
  5. Make regular visits to my chiro
  6. Find a soup kitchen we would like to serve for
  7. Decide on where we would like to visit
  8. Find out about family horse-trekking/ treehouse options
  9. Save money!
  10. Smile.


So, yes, I think this is one of the lamer posts in this series. Hope it’s not downhill all the way from here!

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ordinary joy

Day 27 of the Reverb 10 Challenge:


Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Indeed, I think the highest joy is the ones you find in the most mundane moments. It is not that one kiss atop the Eiffel Tower or winning the lottery. It is being alive and joyful when you get to do the mundane things and get to enjoy it.

I love all the mundane moments when I feel warm laundry in my hands, when salt releases from between my fingers as I sprinkle them over fresh cooked green beans, or the sensuous joy of skin-to-skin contact when Lyra sits on my lap, asking to be read to, and I can smell her sweet breath. It is the kind smiles, eyes that lit up when I see a friend. It is the quiet in the morning before chaos explodes. It is the light dancing in our backyard and the dark and quiet when I sometimes open my eyes in the middle of the night.

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soul food

Six more posts and the Reverb 10 Challenge ends! Thank you for reading along and your kind comments!

Day 26:

Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

Well, well.

I ate some good food this year. Nothing that gets fireworks and bursting stars and exploding cartwheels, but I have been blessed to be able to afford and eat good food. It was not organic and gourmet every day, but there have been exceptionally delicious days. And you know what, being able to share a meal with my  family and friends is really something I treasure deeply and greatly. And sometimes it is just the simplest food. The first night my FIL arrived I made a few simple Chinese dishes and told him, “This is just simple, humble everyday food.” And he smiled and replied, “That’s how I like it best.”

And what was best was enjoying the food in a warm home, sheltered and safe, with appreciation and gratitude.

I always think of my family when I eat, which makes it often the time when I think of and miss Ferdinand.

Three things that really stood out this year:

1. The Thanksgiving/birthday dinner. I got to take a nice break from cooking, and I was really grateful for that. The dinner was delicious, and the best part was not having to deal with dirty dishes after.

2. The Scandinavian salmon stew I made for our Solstice dinner. Rich and nourishing, it was food for the soul. It was also a dish I made together with R, side by side. I love cooking together.

3. The spoon cookies I finally made after having read about them five years ago. It sounded pretty involved and it was. I made the first part together with Sophia’s help, I really enjoy how she is curious about cooking and helping me out in the kitchen. The second part of shaping I did with Lyra sleeping on my back. It was a long, meditative process, but very satisfying. Then there was the waiting. Oh, sweet torture. They do taste very, very good indeed, such deep flavors and beautiful taste that came out from a few simple ingredients.

I think the story that was shared behind the cookies added to the cookie’s flavor- of how the author would slave for nights to make these wonderful cookies, and each friend only getting a couple, packaged in a small ziploc, with a small piece of paper in it, pleading that they please love the cookie that took her life to make. It heightened my awareness of the process, and how the flavors came together, how everything took time and patience, and heart. I think it will be many more years before I will find that time and energy to make enough to share with all my friends, and I hope by then I can still find the soul in me to make it and that whoever gets the cookie will be warmed and pleased by these tiny but gorgeous cookies.

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Reverb 10 Challenge continues. Day 25:

Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.

I really hated to have pictures of myself taken after Ferdinand died. I could not stand the sight of myself, if not because I do look aged, haggard and pathetic. Especially when I saw younger, happy carefree pictures of myself, the contrast became so jarring it hurt.

So, for a long time, I simply hid behind the camera.

But this year, I tried hard to have some pictures taken with the girls. I was afraid if I suddenly died they may forget how I looked, or that they may grow up and wonder why I did not ever want to be photographed with them. I tried to let go, relax, enjoy and smile instead of focusing on sucking in my belly.

So, I did not have a lot of pictures of myself this year. I found this one, taken around Halloween, with Lyra:

I needed a profile picture for FB, and was not ready to show my face, so I put on a mask that I loved.

But perhaps the photo most relevant to this prompt will be the one below, taken on my birthday:


It was a cool afternoon and I was able to escape outside to enjoy the fresh, crisp autumn air, and the beautiful fall colors in our yard. I love nature at this time of year, so this picture really speaks of me. I felt pretty relaxed, even if a bit melancholic. R took the picture for me and he thought I had a quiet strength and confidence within me, that he sensed. Maybe it was my birthday and I felt grown, ha.

I am not sure that is the picture but it is what I could cull from this year’s photos. I think if there is a picture that will say me, it will be one of me doing yoga out in a forest or on a mountain top. Maybe next year, maybe.

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