Thursday, June 25, 2015


I just finished a great book by Joshua Becker called Clutterfree with Kids.  Here are my favorite thoughts...

"Since deciding to live with less, I have less clutter in my home, less stress in my life, more time for my family, more generosity in my spending, more energy for my passions, more contentment in my heart, more gratitude in my soul, and far more opportunity to pursue things of greater worth...

Why would I want what everyone else has when they all want what I already possess?"

Also, a couple of people he quotes in the book:

"Comparison is the thief of joy."  - Theodore Roosevelt

"Simplicity, clarity, singleness:  These are the attributes that give our lives power and vividness and joy."   -Richard Holloway

I don't feel like I have any thoughts of my own to add that could contribute much to that.  SO well said already.  Plus it's late and I'm tired :)

Saturday, June 20, 2015


I'm re-reading The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck.  It's a book I read when I got home from my mission.  I was facing hard times and stress and insecurity like I never had before.

This time around I'm getting something totally different from it.  I love books that offer new insights every time I read them.  Here is what struck me a few weeks ago...

"To be organized and efficient, to live wisely, we must daily delay gratification and keep an eye on the future; yet to live joyously we must also possess the capacity, when it is not destructive, to live in the present and act spontaneously."

Nothing magnifies the difficulty of living this way like the first months of new motherhood.  Which I am staring down right now.  My kitchen is a mess.  My to do list is dusty.  I am carrying around 15 extra pounds.  There are moments that living joyfully seems like a joke!  I am trying to master keeping an eye on the future (and the glorious, glorious hours of sleep it holds) and living in the present.  It is such an impossible task.  But sometimes, when I'm sitting in a quiet room, holding this little guy...I close my eyes and take some slow breaths...and it seems possible for just a moment.  This is, after all, what I've been praying for and crying over for the last two years...

Monday, March 23, 2015

More on Gratitude

I read this in a book called The Crucible of Doubt a few months ago and have been wanting to share it ever since...

"My grateful mental state lets in a different view of reality than is otherwise possible...And when I am thus conscious of my life and the world as a gift, I am less preoccupied with self.  My attention focuses elsewhere.  I am more alert to other people's needs and virtues.  I find my wonder awakened by just about everything:  the engineering behind the physique of a a cricket or a fly, for instance, or the beauty in even a pebble.  In other words, when I am grateful, I tend toward a higher mental (and spiritual) state.  I take things - people, order, air, roundness, everything - less for granted.  Hence I notice things otherwise invisible to me.  It is as if I have a sixth sense, taking in more context, more reality.  If my temporary taste of gratitude becomes a disciplined habit, an ongoing attitude and state of mind, I am 'smarter,' more aware, than if this were not so.  To the extent that I become a habitually grateful person, I engage a different and richer reality than the 'me' who is less grateful."

-Philip Barlow

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I'm not dead.  I've just been slacking big time.

Here's a good quote from the book Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer:

"A challenge in which a successful outcome is assured isn't a challenge at all."

That's all I've got for tonight, but at least it's something!  I'm rededicating myself to blogging...soon.  I'll be back...

Saturday, September 20, 2014


I was thinking about this essay today.  It's something I read years back in a book called This I Believe II (the first book, This I Believe, is also really awesome).  

I believe in using the turbulence in my life. I learned this studying fish.
My mother and father emigrated from Taiwan to New York City to raise a family. They bussed tables at a Chinese restaurant and worked double shifts for years. On Sundays, my father and I would go out with our fishing rods. I was two years old when I caught my first fish in Prospect Park with my dad. No water was off limits: golf ponds, marble quarries, private estates. We packed a lunch and we took off. Sometimes we got in trouble, and laughed about it later when we told the stories. Our best times together were spent trying to catch a fish.
But there was another side to my father. He had a temper, and sometimes he got angry and would hit me. In those moments of uncontrolled rage he could only see things his way; he would never let me win an argument. I was held under his will, unable to break out. When I challenged him, he struck me in the face. It didn’t break me, but it left me petrified, powerless, and resentful. Just the same, come Sunday, regardless of what happened that week, we would fish together.
Years later, I followed my interest in fish to graduate school in biology. I was always a good student, but was often wracked with insecurity. I didn’t have much confidence. I felt it was beaten out of me. I tried to find my direction but just ended up spinning around and dissipating my energy. Then one night something wonderful happened. I was researching how fish swim in turbulent flow and discovered that they could surf on swirling eddies without using much muscle. What I suddenly realized was that obstacles could actually help you struggle less. That was what I’d needed to know for a long time.
I dove into my experiments and published them quickly, culminating in an article that made the cover of Science magazine, and I received my Ph.D. from Harvard in 2004. My parents took a rare day off from the restaurant and were by my side holding my hand when I stood to receive my diploma on a cloudy afternoon in June.
I believe I can get around the obstacles in my life not by fighting them, but by yielding to them and pushing off from them. It is what Taoists call Wu Wei, literally to go with the flow. Now I could take the energy of my father’s violence and move through it, to surge past that turbulence. I could let my father be himself without giving up on myself. This is different from forgiveness. It’s the way I choose to define the events in my life — by my response to them.
There are natural streamlines in our lives. I find by letting go I can harness the complex currents of my life to propel me forward. It was the fish my dad introduced me to that finally taught me this.

What should I do with the obstacles in my life?  Fight them?  Give in to them?  Distract myself?  Lose faith?  Self medicate in one way or another?  Numb myself and try not to feel?  
While I love the message in this essay by Jimmy Liao, I don't relate to the abusive father he grew up with.  I was fortunate enough to be raised by a very patient and compassionate dad.  However, I can still relate to him.  Probably anyone could.  Sometimes I feel like LIFE can be abusive.  I'm not exactly sure what it means to yield to obstacles or let go, but I love the thought and I'd like to try it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cloud Cult

I've been in such a rut with my blog.  And in my life.

After I started writing and found that it was therapeutic for me, I couldn't stop.  Some weeks I was posting 3 times.  I had so much to say and I was elated to have an outlet.  I realized that I have a continual stream of thoughts in my head.  In fact, blogging has revealed to me just how much I live inside my head.  I feel things deeply.  I analyze stuff I'm not sure most other people have ever considered.  I ask questions maybe I shouldn't ask.  I doubt things that have been an integral part of who I am since I can remember.  So blogging was awesome at first.  It was a healthy channel for at least SOME of what swims around in my head.

But I have felt afraid to be totally honest.  I've been scared to talk about who I really am and what I truly think.  I wonder...who is reading this?  What will they think of me?  What do THEY want to hear?  Am I boring everyone who started reading?  Is this another failure of mine?  Does it even matter if people are reading this or what they think of me?  Who is this FOR anyway?

I went to a concert with my husband a few days ago.  The band is called Cloud Cult.  I was moved.  I realize how extremely trite this will sound, but that concert changed me.  Or at least it has given me a renewed desire to share what is in my heart.  Who I am.  What I think about.  How I deal with my struggles and joys.  The lead singer/songwriter of this band has a way with words that gets straight to the raw emotions I have felt as a human being trying to survive just the day to day living of life.  I've always enjoyed his songs and lyrics, but being in the small venue where they played, 15 feet away from him and his guitar, watching his face, feeling the words...I sound crazy, I know, but it moved me.  I cried.  I feel like a crazy person.  It's because he was staying stuff like this:

If you pray to God for rain, 
don't you complain about the lightning. 
If you're asking for directions, 
don't you moan about the distance. 
Must you lose it, lose it all? 
To find your appreciation. 

If you rid of all your baggage you will likely float away. 
But you can't know beauty if you don't know pain 
Gotta feel it, feel it all. 
There's your medication 

You know you are as small as the things you let annoy you. 
And you know you are gigantic as the things that you adore. 
Some days you give thanks. 
Some days you give the finger. 
It's a complicated creation. 

And this:

You don't hear your intuition, cuz it says you ain't no follower. 
And it says you ain't no yellow belly. 
And it says you ain't no broken horse. 
And it says you are here to take the punches, in one by one. 
You're here to learn your lessons one by one. 
You're here to peel your layers off one by one 
by one by one by one by one. 

You don't hear your intuition, cuz it says you were blessed with sensitivity. 
But it says you can't fly with such a heavy heart. 
So it says you gotta do what must be done, so learn to do it with some levity, levity. 

You are here to let the cards fall one by one. 
You're here to let your walls down one by one. 
You're here to peel the layers off one by one by one by one by one by one. 

If you keep trying to fill your holes with the next best thing 
well, then the next best thing will give you more and more holes.

And this:

Life is a playground, but it takes a lot work. 
You better learn to love, or it'll tear you apart, 
cuz in the end, we are measured by the size of our heart, 
and we can't do this alone. 

Some of us are laughing, while some of us are choking 
Some of us can't change til every bone has been broken. 
All the while the maker just sits there joking, "You never really were alone." 

All I need is a good good friend 
To get me through this. 
All I need is a good good friend 
To help me out 
When I'm burning down 
When I'm all stressed out 
Thank you for being around.

And this:

It takes a lot of going nowhere, until you find it's not about the place. 
It takes a lot of being no one, until you find it's not about the face. 

It takes a lot of birth and death, until you ask who's really in control. 
It takes a lot of love and pain, until you learn the art of letting go. 
Let go go go go. 

It takes a lot of hurtful thoughts, until you tame the jerk inside your head. 
It takes a lot of feeling lost, until you find you're always where you're led. 

It takes a lot of broken heart to wonder why we get what we've got. 
But we get what we've got and when it comes to Heart, my friend, you've got a lot.

There are moments and events and people we (or at least I) encounter that make us rethink how we are living and how we want to be remembered and what is important.  This concert was one of those events for me.  It was good for my heart.  I have found myself listening to his words over and over again and thinking I want to be myself.  I want people to feel comfortable around they can be themselves because I am comfortable in my skin and that's contagious.  I want to take moments with my son to watch him grow and discover and live.  I want to be present and open.  I want to have faith in things I don't understand, but hope for.  I want to be a hopeful, joyful person.  I want to contribute something to this life.

This feels like a huge emotional barf.  I don't know where exactly I'm going with it or what it might mean to anyone else, but it's been inside about to explode, and this is as good an outlet as I have.  Maybe someone out there has felt the same thing and now you don't feel as alone.  Or maybe I really am just a crazy person.

p.s. if you want to be introduced to cloud cult here is their website

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Another way to live with less...

I'm reading a book about meditation (I'm getting into this meditation thing...) called Real Happiness by Sharon Salzberg.  I read this today:

"When my friend's daughter Willa, then seven, heard about the London subway bombing in July 2005, she was deeply saddened.  Her eyes filled with tears and she said, 'Mom, we should say a prayer.'  As she and her mother held hands, Willa asked to go first.  Her mother was stunned to hear Willa begin with, 'May the bad guys remember the love in their hearts.'"

First of all, kids are always blowing my mind with the stuff they say.  Most of the time it's hilarious and unexpected, but sometimes, like with this little girl, it is so deeply inspiring.  I never once thought of the bad guys.  Much less their hearts and the love that might be buried somewhere inside.

I was recently hurt by someone I considered to be a good friend.  I felt that I reached out in a time of crisis with love and understanding.  I withheld judgement.  I opened myself up and shared stuff I don't usually share.  Then I was unexpectedly shut out and un-friended (not in the facebook sense...this was just the first phrase that came to mind - evidence that I am a product of my generation).  I've been feeling hurt and confused.  I'm having a hard time letting go.

This is most definitely a case where I need to heed my own advice that I can live with less and have more.  I can live with less emotional baggage and grudges.  I can live with less anxiety.  Less reliving of scenarios from the past.  And therefore automatically create more love, peace, compassion, and brain power to think about stuff that will actually get me somewhere.  It's so hard for me to do.

This all reminds me of something else I read a few months ago in Return From Tomorrow by George C. Ritchie.  He was quoting someone he nicknamed Wild Bill Cody - a man who was familiar with pain I have never known:

"He paused, perhaps seeing again his wife and 5 children.  'I had to decide right then,' he continued, 'whether to let myself hate the soldiers who had done this.  It was an easy decision, really.  I was a lawyer.  In my practice I had seen too often what hate could do to people's minds and bodies.  Hate had just killed the six people who mattered most to me in the world.  I decided then that I would spend the rest of my life - whether it was a few days or many years - loving every person I came in contact with.'"

Wow.  I certainly have a REALLY long way to go.

I know I run the risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant here...pledging to work toward world peace...but seriously what would the world, my neighborhood, my family be like if I was more like Willa and Wild Bill Cody?  Just something to think about tonight.