poem: heart crafting

At the end of the why’s,
How could you’s, and
How did it’s, and
How did I’s

You know you’ve reached
the end because your heart is still
there on the floor
with your dream,
in a thousand pieces, and none
of the questions or answers
have put them
back together.

Finally it’s morning,
A foggy one, perfect
for some quiet crying
And crafting.
Scoop up all the pieces,
Dunk them into the beakers of
Tears you’ve cried over
The years. Watch the dust
Separate and sparkle against
The sun. Why not add some
Real glitter for fun,
Or pour it all into a bigger
Vessel, decorated with
Stickers and ribbons.

I could put it all back together
like a puzzle. But I might just
Let it live in a swirl.

POEM: A bath for your past

POEM: A bath for your past

Bring your bleeding heart
and your tainted past
for a bath at the park.

Run it under the breeze,
Sink into the quiet
whispers of the trees,
Let the birdsong lather
up the crusted mind,
Soak in the sunshine
to wash away
your fossilized tears.

See the purity in the eyes
Of the squirrel passing by?
You
are part of that reflection.

(does this sound familiar? I re-worked it from a previous post!)

you were born a star

706834main_20121113-solareclipse_full
Image: Total Eclipse Australia | NASA

(This came out when I was in need of some mental pampering…writing therapy for self.)

You were born a star, like the sun. Growing up and learning to be good and normal was a path to the total eclipse you’re in now.

But you see, no celestial body could block out all of your light. Your light is spilling out from behind the edges, unmistakably, defiantly, undeniably.

Your brightness is undeniable.

Your true being is unconcealable.

You were always on a natural course to be fully seen again.

Lavishly,
Love x

an introvert who won’t stop talking

Talking, if you ask me, may look like a function of being human, but it is like trying to cross four lanes of two way traffic in China where there isn’t a crosswalk for another mile. I’ve spent most of my life standing on the edge assessing the traffic of conversation, only to keep missing my chances. Sometimes I puff up and take a step, only to be a millisecond too slow for the appropriate lapse between comments, and I’m ran over by someone coming faster and louder.

It had costed me everything from face-burning shame and haunting regrets, to stomach-knotting anguish and heart-stabbing pain, that many a night I swore into my tear-soaked pillow that I shall never, ever, utter another word except “Yes”, “OK” and “Thank you”. Even “Hi” must be taken off the table.

Social media has provided a crosswalk where there was none. I will no longer miss my turn, I will no longer be talked over. I can even start my own conversation and go at my own pace! I was crippled, and now I walk. A beating heart being brave and talking to the world.

Until nobody likes.
And all you hear back is crickets.

I sat in the dark clutching my phone and swear that I will never, ever, spend another second writing another stupid post about my stupid thoughts and feelings that nobody cares to know.

I sink into the dark ocean of loneliness.
No more pain.
No more noise.
The world does not need me.

Even though the world does not need me, when morning comes and I see people and evidence of love and solidarity, I yearn. I yearn for connection, I yearn to be seen. I yearn to be seen like I never was. If the world does not care, then the world does not care what I say and how much I post.

I’m conservative in looks, but I’m a rebel in my bone marrow. I croaked my first “Hi” at the boys standing in the lunch line. Even flashed them a smile and took them by surprise. I shouted one of their names across the gym like I was a cheerleader. It worked for him, though I’d never felt so much shame for a success. I have the strength and determination to make myself speak against my nature, I can make myself say things that are waiting to burst forth like fireworks.

I won’t let it go unsaid that sometimes I do get likes and comments that lift me up into the clouds where all the angels live. They’ve shown me the way home. But all the likes and comments and love shown are not a solid enough ground to stand on. The antidote to this dangerous sport is, perhaps, to learn from the local Chinese gliding through the four lanes of two way traffic, undaunted by provoking an occasional held-down honk: Knowing that you are entitled to the road as much as the cars and other people.

 

the least grateful mantra

One night as my blood boiled at 12am from experiencing all the unfairness, weaknesses, mess-ups and stuck-ness of life and myself, I searched in the dark for that miracle creature that’s supposed to make even the most miserable people happy: Gratitude.

I have not done my gratitude practice for months because: 1) The day is obviously 30 seconds too short for anyone to have time for deciding and writing down the happiest moment of their day. 2) There are a couple things that I wish to/should/must be grateful for, but I can’t feel it. And that’s where my mind likes to get hung up on. It gets too busy feeling a lack of gratefulness to notice the little things like friendship, husband, health, stability, etc.

In my dark hell of a mind I would not have found anything to be grateful for. But I breathed out and felt “Hmmm it feels so good to finally lie down on the bed.”

Finally, the tail of Gratitude brushes past my fingertips. I held on. Actually it might just be its toe nails. But I saw it as a miracle nonetheless. I recited silently “I’m grateful I get to lie down now. I’m grateful I get to lie down now in a very comfortable bed. (body sinking a little deeper into the mattress). A very comfortable bed indeed with pillows and covers…”

It’s like drinking milk after you’ve eaten some hot jalapenos. Then I drift off to sleep as if I have not had a bad day at all.

my inner Shrek

For the first time in eleven months, my friends, who kindly read my blog, I got tired of believing that Everyone is Beautiful the way they are, with all their perfect imperfections etc. No I haven’t met anybody who’s making me think that, not anyone new anyway. Just myself, my good old self. And my feet’s love for tennis shoes. Let me tell you.

Last week I had my first business meeting. There was a fair bit of walking to get there so I wore my tennis shoes and carried my heels in my purse. After the meeting on my hike back to my office I realized: I was still in my tennis shoes.

I told it as a joke later but at that moment I realized just how far away I am from the woman I tried to be. The Professional Woman who not only does good work, but who looks Pretty and Polished and ideally Charming, Friendly and Memorable. 

The other joke is that out of that list of Professional Woman qualities I can ever only meet the first one. With the looks thing I can keep trying but as my feet tell you, it’s not in my biology. And the personality thing, well, my inner voice is saying “Oh honey, you know you’re not that person…”

With my big wide sweaty feet in my tennis shoes, I called myself a rather harsh name I would never call anyone. Unless you’re Shrek. You’d think I was being a bully to myself but actually it was liberating. Compared to the part of me who tries to convince me that I’m Beautiful, who pretends not to notice my aesthetic shortcomings, the name-caller is at least looking and acknowledging every part of me.

And my inner Shrek, whose Shrek-ness is only relative to the Professional Woman ideal, says “You may pretend not to see me, but it’s not like you can get rid of me. Might as well come up with a new plan that includes me so I don’t show up as a surprise to you!”

your door, my door

Just like a lot of you, I live with people, and I find living with people is hard. One day I was really brooding over a certain bedroom door, wishing it was a wall, and blaming it for just about every problem I have. Because when you get upset over people, you tend to think the people are causing you upset.

And then the door talked back,

“There’s no way you can keep me closed, because I serve only the people who live behind me. We are of no real threat to you but you think we’re an intruder. And sadly, when you keep your eyes fixed on me, you nail your heart with fear.

But look, and remember, I have a twin just across the hall. Her name is Your Door. You are free to open and close it whenever you need, whenever you want. That’s the boundary that you can control.

We all live together, I know you wish things were different. But you’re OK, because you have a door. You don’t have to let anyone or anything in that you didn’t want, even if they ask. And you are free to let anyone or anything out. You didn’t know you could, did you? You thought it would be rude, and that’s kind of why you thought you have intruders in the house.

So now I’d like to ask you to stop giving me your evil look and angry vibes, and just see and trust that you have a door, your own boundary, and it’s been here all along for you to use and control.”

And then.

A few days after that door talked to me, I’m standing at its threshold. I’m being greeted at the door to hand over something I’m bringing. When I did, I had a flashback. I saw myself barging in very self-righteously. I can understand it but I am sorry now to recall that I had stood in the middle of that room that isn’t mine, and thought that being asked to leave my thing at the door, as opposed to bringing it into the room, was a violation of my boundaries.

life in a cupboard

My daughter points to the corner of an apron trapped by the closed door. The apron is one of the few items that belong to me in that pantry cupboard that is packed from ceiling to floor. This cupboard is the magic on the fingertips of my mother-in-law. Mysterious and potent herbs casually filling up jars with their now lying mayonnaise or mustard labels. Jars of calories that I had bought, I noted, now seem to mock me with their bellyful of healthful ingredients that I’ll never know the names and uses of. They stand there unassumingly as a symbol of a traditional Chinese mother’s cooking, a feminine power far superior than my tinned tomatoes, brownie mixes and that still-brand-new, full-color hardback Chinese cookbook written by a Chinese-American I bought a couple years back, which I’d started to pretend isn’t even mine.

The other half of the cupboard is the hospice for empty jars and boxes. My father-in-law likes clear surfaces, but won’t leave storage spaces as spaces. For him, filling spaces with something, anything with an illusion of being useful such as the worry that we’ll need a seventeenth plastic yoghurt tub, is better. As if junk is harmless.

I thought this was the battleground I lost because I neither have a lot of cooking ingredients, nor a habit to hoard. When I open the door to tuck the apron back, my daughter goes in and start moving things to the floor, doing whatever pleases her toddler’s heart. She is the person with no cooking skill and who takes up the least physical space. Yet, she is at home and I’m not. Now I see that even though none of the jars, cans, boxes or cookbooks belong to her, and maybe because none of the values, habits and traditions are weighing on her, she’s having fun. That fun is hers. That freedom is hers. Now I know that I’ve had my head stuck in a narrow cupboard that has little to do with me, and now I can stop trying to squeeze myself inside it. Because there’s a whole lot more space and a whole lot other things that I can get myself into. Or not. It will be my choice. It will be how I make myself at home.

see the beauty of who we truly are

It’s a great power to see the beauty of who we truly are.

We can be outspoken, soft-spoken, passionate, calm, spontaneous, reserved, calculated, flexible, principled, talkative, cerebral, fun-loving, challenge-loving, ambitious, go-with-the-flow, musical, mathematical, creative, dependable, practical, abstract… There are as many people as there are types of people. But people really advocate for only some of these traits, leaving those who are opposites feeling a bit disadvantaged, or worse, defective.

The truth is, the person with ideas, strategies, a voice and a will to lead people can make no progress if there are no people willing to cooperate, collaborate and accommodate, and make things happen. People who don’t just think of themselves, people who trust and do the hard work.

It’s a great power to see the beauty of who we truly are, because then we unshackle ourselves from the generic voice in the media or in society. The beauty of being quiet. The beauty of being the calm one. The beauty in using your voice. The beauty in silent actions. The beauty of being more rational than emotional. The beauty of being more emotional than rational. The beauty of the strength to bite the bullet. The beauty of the strength in being honest and expressing feelings.

 

it’s all in your head: an example

What’s causing you pain and suffering is all in your head. That’s one of the main teachings from The Power of Now. I had a very vivid experience of this recently.

Our Little Precious The Most Beloved woke up crying in the middle of the night. I dragged my body out of bed to soothe her and even enjoyed cuddling her for the first few minutes. It’s always when your expectation sets in and your child is happily dancing far away from it that even a great patient mom like me begins to lose it. It did not help that husband GRUNTED and turned in the bed, as if he was having a hard time.

Part of me was feeling okay, but another part has woken up now and tapping me on my shoulder. She seemed very desperate, very concerned and very scared for me that I wasn’t doing a good job. She says, “Hey you need to shush your baby and put her to sleep.” I told her it’s fine, this isn’t so bad, I’m losing some sleep that’s all it is. But she kept going. “No you should have been able to make her sleep by now. And a decent mom and wife would have taken the baby with her somewhere, so that her husband doesn’t get woken up.”

“It’s not my fault!” I blurted out loud and blamed my husband’s grunting for it.

Finally baby was back in her crib, I went to the bathroom and next thing I know my head was in my hands and tears are dripping from my face.

What?

The desperate woman’s voice was still here. There’s no baby to distract me now and in the silent of the night, she’s screaming in my head “You’re such a bad mom Oh my gosh what have you done You’re just hopeless You’re the worst mom and wife ever”.

What?

See, up until this point, I had been tired and frustrated but not that upset that I would cry. The baby waking up did not do it to me. My husband’s grunting did not do it to me. I was sailing along. It’s that critical, mean voice in my head that did it.

It’s that voice in my head, not my baby or my husband, that I battled with.
It’s that voice in my head that made me feel so worthless and upset that I cried actual tears.

It’s not the outward circumstances that upset me that night. It’s my internal thoughts that crushed me.

What is that voice? There are many names. Call it Thought. Call it the Shame Gremlin. Call it a Deceptive Brain Message. Call it an Old Tape. Call it Negative Self Talk. The one thing people who have identified and studied it agree upon is that We Don’t Need to Listen To It. And most of the time, It’s Not True.

xxx

If you want to know more, here’s an interview of Eckert Tolle, the author of The Power of Now. If anything, just listen to his voice and the voice of the interviewer. Both are so soothing they gave me goosebumps on my head.