Do Your Best Because You Never Know How Short Life Could Be

Last month, I was shocked by the news of the sudden death of someone whom my family knew very well. He has always been a good person in my eyes, so I was completely surprised to learn that I would not be able to see him again. Thinking about his children even made me feeling sadder. I hoped his children could handle this situation well because I could imagine how scary it would be for them to continue their lives after their father’s death.

Four years ago, my Dad was hospitalized for a week, and throughout that week, I cried on and off. It never crossed my mind that my parents could leave me alone in this world permanently. That one time event has changed my point of view about life and specifically preparing life after someone’s death.

Events, such as serious illness and death are not the things that I specifically receive in school. Thanks to age and maturity, I learned to understand these events wisely. Out of the things that I read and heard from people, getting over the regret feeling is the hardest one. Too often, we do things without thinking of the consequences, only later we regret from not doing it the way we should be. I’ve heard so much from relatives how sorry they were from not taking time to listen and spend time with their loved ones while they were still alive.

This new understanding has then shaped the way I interact with my parents and do my everyday activities. I started to pay attention to my parents’ health and do extra miles in my own way to ease their burden. Of course, we still have disagreements here and there, but I have done at my best to make things better for them, as possible as I could. Likewise, in my own personal life, I learn to not take things too personally. I also learn to always think pros and cons before saying and explaining something to clients. Definitely, I have more things to do while I am still alive, and I try to do each of it with genuine heart. This is because I don’t want to feel bad later on. It is because I understand that life is precious and so I must use it wisely.

After 37 Years

May 3 marks my parents’ 37th wedding anniversary. 37 is a big number for them and for our entire family, because it takes so much love, pray, forgiveness and healthy mind to be able to lead a life as a husband and wife in today’s dynamic society.

I have learned from their marriage is that the continuity and strength of our family is built based on a teamwork between parents and children. This means that each of us has a responsibility to keep up with every tiny aspect in our family, whether it is a happy or sad moment and to try at our best to keep our family together.

I have also learned that the acts of verbally saying “I love you sweetheart” between married couple is not enough. They need to do more than that because the reality of marriage life involves acceptance, support, fidelity, forgiveness, finance, and the ability to move forward as a team of husband and wife. Putting this together, we could picture an image of husband and wife as ship’s captains with children as crews, together they sail and conquer the sea.

Now that 37 years have passed, my prayer to them and to our family is that we continue to support each other and lead a simple healthy life. I also pray that each of us continue to learn let go of grudges and forgive more and enjoy the moment.

Small Things Matter

There are times I feel tired and want to quit, but those tiny eyes that looked at me in awe, said something else. From the way they look at me, they want to say that I should not quit. Words may not come out from them, but eyes could talk.

I always believe that it is God’s grace that has made me doing things I have been doing all these years. I know it must be Him that brings me to this point. It is through the work that I do, that I learn to slow my pace and read the silent cue.

Thus, the moment I feel weak and tired, He constantly reminds me to keep moving forward. He does this through the children with whom I work. Small things matter. We celebrate small progress, because we hope to see more progress coming out from these children.

Be thankful for what you already have. Celebrate life because we do not know what is going to happen in the future. Appreciate those who have been with you through good and bad times. Pray hard whether you are happy or sad. Pray more when life storm hits you from all directions. Love your children regardless of their conditions. They know how you feel. They could feel whether you genuinely love them or not. Believe that nurture wins nature. If you have both, it’s good, but if nature isn’t that good, nurture them so that they could be useful when they are older.

Us and Kids, We are Family

Asking a child to choose a mom over a dad or vice versa is like asking someone whether he needs to breathe or not. The child may struggle to answer this type of question because he/she wants both. Similarly, parent could not tell the child something like, “You stay with Dad and I take your brother/sister,” because the child does not want to be separated from his/her siblings. It is understandable that parents face daily challenges, and there are times family life is just tough. Sometimes and perhaps often, children are suffered the most due to tough family life situations, such as divorce, infidelity, poverty, etc. However, it is unwise to put children in difficult position while you as a parent knows that the problem could be solved between husband and wife. 

Parenting and marriage are two different topics but are interconnected. When you decide to commit in a marriage, you should aim both for happy marriage and successful parenting. These two topics must be discussed seriously before you say “I do” and after you both say “I do.” It is also important to practice being unselfish because once the child is present in the family, roles and lifestyles need to be adjusted.  

I’ve always believed that it is a privilege to be a parent. If you are a parent, I want you to know how precious your job is. Not everyone could become a parent. Some people struggle to have children. Some people either too sick or too old to conceive a child. So, if you are a parent, I want you to treasure your journey. Raising children is exhausted, but it is rewarding. Your children will always remember the time you have spent together because memory is irreplaceable. Therefore, even if a family life is under “turbulence” tries at your best to control the situation in the peaceful way so that they will not get traumatized due to that event. Family is the first and foremost child’s life experience. It shapes child’s personalities which will continue to grow as the child gets older. Family life and every little experience in the family influence how the child sees the world and him/herself. All of these become a foundation in the child’s overall social and emotional development. When the foundation is healthy and solid, the child will grow healthy and thus could become a responsible citizen. 

Will you do it? 

The Complexity of Parents and Children Relationship 

Parents and children often think differently. What parents want from the child may not be the child’s preference. Likewise, culture also influences how parents raise their children and put expectation on them. All of these get tricky as the child gets older. It will even more challenging when the child grows up in a culture that is different from his/her original culture. Argument or clash could arise because the child has a different point of view from his/her parents. Both sides will argue that they are doing the right things. Both sides want to win. 

On another note, children still and should respect their parents even though they have disagreement over things. This is tough, but children must continue to exercise putting effort to adjust and negotiate with their parents in order to reduce argument. Family relationship is complicated and tough. It takes everyone’s effort to maintain equilibrium.

Life is good when one could manage both family and work life in the most neutral and healthy ways. Can you do it? 

Being a Woman 

Sometimes, being an adult and is happened to be a woman is a hard task. Regardless of culture, the image of a woman is often associated with caretaker, mother, and housewife. Though most women now could get education and participate in the work field, they are still challenged with the local norms in terms of what they should or should not do. It seems that women need to work twice harder than men to prove that they are smart, brave, and have important life goals, too.  

Single adult women who share a house with parents and jobless probably lives their lives hearing people telling them either to get a job or marry a husband. 

Life is still somewhat challenging for single women, who still live with parents, but have their own job because people including family members demand them to marry a guy. Traditional culture like Asian, still think that a healthy adult woman should marry a healthy adult man to lead a family life, raise kids. One same problem among these single-jobless women and single-career women is that they need to get married. Will a marriage promise a lifetime happiness and wealth to these women? Maybe, these women need more time, maybe they want to focus on something else. So long as their actions or presences do not bother us, we need to keep our mind and business to ourselves. 

How about married women? Do they free of life issues? No, not really. Adult-married women who have jobs, but childless also face issues because people including relatives asking them why they still do not have kids, yet. It would be nice for us to not ask this particular question because we don’t know what they have been through. It would be nice if we say hello and ask about their days in general instead of asking when they will have kids or why there is no kids after x years of marriage. 

Married women, no job, have kids have their sorrow, too. People would criticize how skinny/fat the kids are, why home is dirty while they actually don’t work outside home. People will question them why kids’ school grades are low. Again, it would be nice if we practice refrain from saying mean things without really looking into the problem. 

Married women with a job and have kids with special needs suffer emotionally and still have to deal with people who blame them for the things that happened to the kid. Instead of pointing on their flaws, we could offer assistance to these women who have kids with special needs. 

Big take home messages from all of these are that we need to respect anyone whom we meet, refrain ourselves from saying things that could hurt others, always think before speak, and last but not least, women and men should share same responsibilities and work together to make a world more livable. 

To all women, have faith, persevere, and even things seem going against you, do not quit. So long as what you do is right and have good purposes, God will make the way. It may not happen instantly, but it will be beautiful in its time. 

10 advices for couples and married couples: Steps to healthy relationships 

Advices for those who are currently in serious and/or marriage relationship :

1. Refrain yourself from getting into physical and emotional abuse. If you know that your fiancé has a temper issue or any mental health issues, think and plan carefully before getting married. If you are already in the marriage relationship, seek for professional help to treat the core issues, e.g., marital counseling, family therapy. 

2. At any point in your life, you should not commit adultery and/or engage in any unfaithful behaviors. Being faithful to your spouse is a good example for your children. It’s also good for your everyday relationship with your friends and coworkers. 

3. You must learn to forgive each other and commit to your words or vows. Hatred could damage your physical and emotional health. 

4. Before you declare a divorce or separation, think about the long term effects of getting divorce. Children? Relatives? Work? 

5. Don’t fight in front of your children. Don’t let your children watch or hear your fight because it could lead to mental trauma for them. Fighting or getting into argument sometimes is unavoidable, but it is best to not do it around children. Solve the problem immediately and move on. 

6. Whenever possible, try to have a family vacation once a year or on periodic. Get out of normal routine, relax and spend time with your spouse and children. 

7. No matter how busy you are, try to have at least one family dinner/breakfast together. It’s good for everyone especially for children. 

8. Say “no” to gambling, drugs, and excessive alcohols because all of these could affect your relationship with your family and cause damage to your family income. 

9. Ask for professional help e.g., psychologists, family social workers, pastors, or psychiatrists when you deal with serious mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety, caring for children with special needs. 

10. Meditate or have a quiet moment for reflection. Do it either in the morning or at night. Use this moment to think through and evaluate your behaviors or actions. Did I do well today? What am I going to do tomorrow? What are some other solutions for this matter? 

Our surroundings will be so much peaceful if each of us could practice these 10 advices. 


Money Saving Skills

How many of you are consistently  recording your daily expenses and then balancing the total expenses with the income at the end of the month? Do you know how important it is to keep track and manage our personal funds? There are multiple ways to keep track our expenses. Some people use a software, while others are doing it manually. Regardless, the purpose of this activity is to help us to control our budget and to ensure that we always have a surplus at the end of the month. 

I had a conversation with a lady who got married last year. I saw her pulling out papers and stack of receipts from her purse. She had a calculator next to her. I asked her what she was doing, and she told me she was calculating her monthly expenses. I admired her detailed-oriented behaviors because she organized her accounting book very neat. I also realized at that moment that our focus and responsibility are changed once we enter a marriage life. Perhaps, we could immediately buy a new pair of shoes or a gadget when we were still single; now we have to think about the family. The cost of a pair of shoes or a new gadget could be used to pay the housing loans or childcare expenses. 
This immediate thought not only reminded me of my very first money saving experiences, but also made me wondering if parents and school nowadays are teaching this money saving skills to children. 

I was in the primary school when our parents opened a saving account for each one of us. They explained to us the reason behind it. They even told us when we could buy new toys or clothes including the reasons why we could not have certain items that we wished we could have it. Sure I was angry when I received no as an answer. I didn’t realize until I was older that my parents taught me to differentiate need from want. I wanted a new stuffed animal , but at that time I did not really need the stuffed animal. I had plenty of them in my room. 
I learned about debit, credit, surplus, and deficit in the high school accounting class. Although I did not end up in the accounting field, I implemented the skills when I started to live independently (e.g., in a college, graduated from college and had my first job, etc). I started to have my simple accounting book in which in each page, it has 4 columns (date, note, debit and credit). I admit my book is not as good as the lady’s accounting book. I know I should learn more from her because she is doing it very well. The skills that I received from my parents help me to sort which items I really need when I am out for shopping. 

In summary, we need to act wise when it comes to spending money while we continue to work on generating more income. We also need to prioritize our needs from our wants. It’s okay to teach our children or students on money saving skills. Sooner is better.