[Opinion]: Marriage’s Spider Web

When I was young, I pictured a marriage life was like living in a castle with your prince who will pamper you with golds and jewelries. Well, this perception was changed when I was twelve years old and since then, I learned how complicated and tiring a marriage life could be. Lots of contempt, harsh words, and perhaps infidelity that happened between a husband and a wife in a marriage relationship. So, I said to myself, “Uhmm… are you sure you want to get married one day??”

With that change of mindset, I embarked on a faraway journey. I pursued a degree in a faraway land in hoping that maybe I was wrong and maybe I got something out of this decision. The reality was that I got sort of “unique packages” from my trip to a faraway land. Studying and working abroad definitely taught me many good things, but at the same time my view in marriage has not changed even though I removed myself from the “hot” zone. What more interesting was that I ended up working in a field that required me to observe and interact with married couples. I personally found this fact amusing because I didn’t specifically asked for it, but it was part of my job descriptions. I often wonder if perhaps this is God’s will or something.

Thanks to my job that I slowly was able to make lists of the tricks that could be implemented by anyone who is in the marriage relationship to maintain a healthy marriage life. These 10 tricks can help couples to clean up their marriage’s spider web. We know how tangled and yucky a spider web is, and unhealthy marriage life looks like that spider web.

Trick number 1 is both sides must have equally genuine effort to maintain healthy and loving marriage life. If there’s no effort then it will be quick to see a rupture in a marriage relationship. The key is both you and your spouse must exercise equal effort. Two are better and stronger than one.

Trick number 2 is stable income. Having a stable income in a marriage life is very important especially when children are present in the family. Strictly no gambling! Gambling not only affects your income, but also damages your marriage.

Trick number 3 is to have one same faith in a family. This is a sensitive topic, but if it is possible for a husband and a wife to have a same faith then please do it. This should be your priority when you plan to get married, what if he/she wants to practice a different belief, can I handle it? This type of talk is more important than talking about how much dress you need to spend on your wedding day. There are plenty of good reasons why couples who plan to get married must take a pre-marital class through their religions/beliefs. So, don’t skip the class!

Trick number 4 is to share similar goals. Leading a marriage life but you and your spouse have different goals will look like a plane whose pilot and a co-pilot argue about which destinations they should be heading to. Can you imagine what will happen with the plane? It can fall and threaten those who are on the plane because the pilots do not share same final destination in their minds.

Trick number 5 is to be realistic. This means getting real. Face the issues, find the solutions, and solve the issues. Don’t dwell on too much “what if” and “he/she should have known.”

Trick number 6 is to avoid infidelity at any cost. Engaging in this type of activity means you hurt yourself and those who live with you. This includes do not watch porn movies!

Trick number 7 is to learn to forgive and let go of grudges. This is hard but one must keep learning to forgive and to not hold grudges if you want your marriage lasts longer and also to keep your sanity.

Trick number 8 is to keep the love sparkling. Just remember the old time when you tried to win his/her heart. Do the same thing like you did in the past to cheer him/her.

Trick number 9 is to share responsibility in a household. Make a list of chores for you and another list for your spouse. If you have kids, share the chores with them, too.

Trick number 10 is to have a flexibility. Cannot be too rigid. Sometimes, it’s ok to go with the flow or do something outside the daily ritual.

Those are 10 tricks that could straighten and hopefully clear the spider web out from your marriage life. It takes effort and that’s why both sides must show efforts and do it with full and open heart.

[Fictional Story] Susan and Her Choices

This is the second series of “The Return of Hans.” All the names and characters in this story are fictive. “The Return of Hans” could be accessed on this page, too.

Susan indeed is a busy lady. She still works even on the day before Christmas while everybody in her office is out for a vacation. Susan lately has been into a social mission in which she hopes to build a non-profit organization for families of children with Autism. This is a tough project for her, and she needs an affluent person to help her. The person who has been on her mind is a techpreneur who also cares for the children welfare. His name is James, and everybody knows about him because of his recent nomination as the Man of the Year 2019. Susan knows that this would be difficult to get in touch with him, but it did not stop her from reaching out to James. She tried to contact James from LinkedIn all the way to Instagram. Nothing works until one day, Susan gets an idea. James is doing a live video on his Instagram, and you could type a question for him in which he will randomly select and answer the questions. That day is Susan’s luckiest day because James finally replies her message.

I need a person to sit on the board for my upcoming non-profit organization. The organization is to provide respite services for families of children with Autism. I know you care for children’s health and education. Can I send a proposal for you to take a look?” Susan exhales after clicking the send button. She has been monitoring James’s Instagram for hours. She wants to make sure that she is among the first five followers who types the questions to James. When James responds to her questions privately via Direct Message, Susan jumps out from her chair and does a little dancing.

Although work life has been good to her, personal life is rocky. Susan argues a lot with her mother. She has to face her cousins who look at her and ask why she is not married. All of her cousins are married with kids already. Susan, at the age of 34, is still single and doesn’t show any signs to be in a relationship. Hans is still waiting for her, but this will not last, too. Susan comforts herself in her work. She wants to create a non-profit organization for families of children with Autism because she knows how hard it is to raise a child with Autism. Getting a respite even only for one hour is very helpful.

James has caught Susan’s attention after she watched James’s presentation on YouTube. James is a younger guy, 30 years old, who has a lot of followers and many women want to date him. He is a type of person who basically every in-law wants. He has a smiley face, good stable job, and what even nice is that he is graduated from Harvard. Well, Susan is not interested in dating him. She knows that James is too young, out of reach, and what more important is that James has different religion from Susan. Growing up in a Catholic family makes Susan think that it is better to live with someone who has a same faith with her. Someone who can accompany her to go to church every Saturday night and celebrate Christmas Eve together. What Susan does not know is that her path is about to twist after her meeting with James.

Susan is scheduled to meet up with James’s secretary on Wednesday morning. Susan has 30 minutes to explain why she needs James to sit on the board and what James could do in the long run. The secretary escorts her out to the main lobby, and Susan will not get the results until two weeks later.

As Susan walks out of the door, her phone beeps.

Hey, Susan. This is Hans. Merry Christmas. I am back in town. Can I pick you up for dinner tonight?

Susan rolls her eyes as she reads Hans’s message.

Fine. Do you want to hang out in my apartment? I will order pizza. There’s a lot of traffic jam...”

Anything you want. I bring nice gift to you. 😊”

Okkk…”

Susan hurries to come home. She needs to clean up her living room. She uses her living room as an office, and she doesn’t expect that Hans will come.

Hans looks tired and old. He has this shy eye when he looks up to Susan. Every time Susan looks at Hans she always feels guilty. She feels bad because she cannot reply his love to her. They sit at the table and eat pizza. Hans pulls out a square box from his pocket. It’s a Tiffany box.

I spy your Instagram. I know that you are a fan of Tiffany.

Mhmm…

So, here’s your Christmas gift to you. It’s not a proposal, so don’t give me that pale-looking face.

Thanks, but I don’t wear jewelry.”

Can you open it first?

Susan unwraps the gift box, and she sees a Tiffany key pendant with yellow and white diamonds. It’s pretty but she is unsure if she could accept this gift.

Hans, this is pretty but I cannot take it. I don’t deserve it. I ..

Hans interrupts and says “You want to say that you cannot reply my love? 10 years of my love and admiration to you.”

Susan cries and Hans hugs her.

I don’t like to force you, Susan. There’s no other women whom I like except you. Just please take that gift. Do you want me to put it on for you?

Hans insists to put the necklace on Susan’s neck. They both sitting on the balcony and watch the streets from up there.

Hans cannot stay in town too long. He has to go back to the States. Susan drives him to the airport.

Don’t you want to back to the States with me?

I miss the States, but I don’t think I can back to the States now.”

Okay, Susan. Thank you for your time! It’s nice to see you. I am very grateful. Pass my greetings to your parents, ok?

Ok! Safe flight!

Susan has nowhere to go after that. She decides to go back to her apartment, but suddenly her phone is ringing.

Hello?

Is this Susan?

Yes, who is this?

Hi, I know this is a holiday, but I am James. I am reviewing your proposal.”

Susan cannot believe that James calls her.

Yes, what do you think? Can you do it?”

Uhm, we need to meet in person before I make a decision. Are you available tomorrow morning at 8 o’clock?

Sure! Thank you.”

Susan drives home with a big smile on her face.

Susan waits for James in the lobby. She feels nervous. This non-profit organization is something she wants to do after she is retired from her job at the hospital. Thus far, she has recruited three board members, two are from media industry and one is from business sector. With James on board, she believes that this organization will be launched soon.

Good morning, Miss Susan.” James’s secretary greets her.

Hi, good morning! Good to see you again.”

Please follow me. Mr. James has been waiting for you.

Susan enters a meeting room that could fit up to 16 people. The meeting room has huge window facing tall buildings and high ways. James sits at the table and greets Susan. “Good morning, Susan!”

Good morning, Mr. James!”

Ah, please call me James. Have a seat.

Thank you.

So, I look up your proposal. I want to know why this has to do with autism? And why me? You know I am not in the medical field.”

I am a child and family director in the hospital. Every day I meet with parents of children with developmental disabilities especially Autism. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder and it affects the brain, speech, social and motor skills. Parents whose kids are diagnosed with Autism live twice harder than parents of typically developed children. Having a respite is very helpful for them.”

As for you, I have been observing your journey in the startup business including your education platform. It has a long term value and it appears to me from your profile, you care for children’s health. Thus, being a board member in this organization could fulfill your mission.”

Wow! You are very thorough. I am quite impressed. I am very busy this year and I don’t think I can commit in this role. However, could you send me the draft on how you are going to budget this respite service. I assume this is free?

Well, Yes, I could prepare that draft. How soon do you need the draft?

Can you give it to me next month?

Ok

Is there a number to reach you?

Yes, here’s my business card.”

What degree are you graduated from?

Social Work.

I see. It’s a good field. I am impressed with your passion in this field.”

Thank you.”

Susan feels relieved. Now, she has to get the draft ready. Meanwhile, she gets a message from Hans.

Hey, I am in Hong Kong already. The 18hours flight is about to start. Aha! Talk to you soon. Don’t work so hard!”

Susan types back “ok. Safe flight!

One month later…

Hi Susan, this is James. I am in your hospital. Can I have a tour in your department? Is that possible?

Right now? Just the tour ok? It’s not allowed to observe parent session without consent form. Sorry.

That’s fine.”

Susan gives James a tour facility. James looks impressed and shows interest in getting to know how this project will go further.

Uhm, Susan, are you free next Thursday. I am invited to this non profit event. I wonder if you are interested in accompanying me. Plus, you could recruit more board members. What do you think?”

“I have a meeting until 7 PM. Not sure I could make it there.”

“Don’t worry, cause I will be late, too. Just call me when you are there.”

“Alright then.”

Susan arrives at the ballroom where that event is held. The event is to collect donation to support bone marrow research. Susan calls James as she is not sure where he is. Suddenly, she hears someone calls her name.

Susan, here!” James yells at her.

She sees him and walks toward him. Right that moment, she secretly acknowledge how handsome James is. No wonder so many girls chase after him.

Susan sits next to James. James introduce her as a good friend of him who works with families and children. Susan suddenly feels small in that event because she doesn’t know anyone in that room. They all are famous and do important things like James. It looks like that James recognizes her feeling. He taps Susan’s shoulder and says “let’s get out from here.

What? But it’s not yet finished.

Don’t worry.

James holds her hand and they walk to the main lobby. “Let’s eat dinner. Ah, leave your car here. Give me your car’s key and my driver will send it back to your apartment.”

“Waiiiit… no, no, I can go home directly.”

“Come on, I will be out for business trip for two weeks. I don’t understand with what you wrote in the proposal.”

“What?”

“My car is here. Hop on.”

“How do you get volunteers?”

“Well, that’s the part where I need you to be on board. You have this edu-tech platform right? You could advertise this on your platform, and from there I could select a pool of volunteers.”

“Who will train them and do the match-making?”

“Me.”

“Who is going to make sure that the volunteers do no harm to the kids?”

“I have a board member who has a legal team who will look over that part.”

“Aha. So why don’t you launch?”

“I need more funding that’s another reason I look for you.”

“Now I know… Why are you so enthusiastic about this?? Do you have a family with Autism?”

“No, I don’t. I do a lot of home visits and meet lots of parents. Life is stressful for them, because some of these kids need your full attention.”

“Are you married?”

“No.”

“Are you dating?”

“No.”

“How old are you again?”

“Thirty four. And why you ask personal question?”

“Because you are weird. I mean you are interested in unusual stuff.”

So, are you going to be on board??”

“You are a straight forward lady, aren’t you??”

“Please answer.”

“Yes, I will be on board. Madam. Happy??”

“Thank you. I am leaving.”

“No, the food is not here.”

“I am not hungry.”

“Are you mad? I am sorry.”

“I don’t like a personal question. Plus, I don’t know about you.”

I’m sorry. People usually ask so many questions from personal to business to me.

Two weeks later…

Susan, this is James. Can we meet? I need you to sign the contract.”

Okay.”

Hans is in town. He insists to drop Susan to James’s office.

Hans, is that you?

Hans turns his body and is surprised to see James.

Hey, Buddy! What’s up?

They both hug each other and give a pat on the back.

Susan looks blank. Not sure what to say.

What are you doing here? I heard you moved out to Bay area?”

“Yes, I did. I got a job over there after finishing my contract in Harvard.”

“I hear you are popular, too.”

“So, what brought you here in my building?”

“Aaw…this is your building? Cool! I just drop my friend, Susan. She is right there.”

“Susan?? You know her?”

“Of course! You know her, too?”

“I am going to meet her. That’s why I wait for her here.”

Hans frowns as he hears this.

I don’t know that you both know each other.” Said Susan

Hans and James look at each other. James says, “We are in the same university. Hans is my senior back then.”

Hans let Susan talks with James. He waits in the lobby.

Susan, how do you know Hans?”

“We have known each other for a long time.”

“Are you by the chance the girl who has made Hans single all these years??”

“What are you talking?”

“There was a rumor back when I was in Harvard that Hans liked a girl who was also a student in the States but different cities. Hans liked that girl but she rejected him. Eventually Hans could not forget about her.”

Susan doesn’t know what to say.

“It must be you. We guys know when another guy looks at a woman with that kind of eye that means he likes her. I see that in Hans’s eyes.”

“Ok, I am leaving.”

“Susan, you are hilarious! I wish I could talk to you more, but I have another meeting. Tell Hans to catch up with me later.”

“Why didn’t you tell me that James is the person whom you will meet?”

“I told you. He is a famous techpreneur in this country..”

“You did not tell me his name.”

“Do I have to report everything to you?”

“You could have told me his name.”

“Err, I don’t think that’s necessary. Plus, you always show up whenever you like.”

“Of course that’s necessary.”

“Ehm…. we are not dating.”

“Susan?!”

“That’s true. If you think by giving me this necklace implies that we are dating you are wrong! I am not comfortable with your possessive attitude.

Susan what are you talking?”

“You know what I am talking. You try to monitor with whom I meet and go. Here’s your necklace. I don’t need it. Bye!” Susan leaves Hans.

Hans returns to the States the next day without leaving any messages to Susan. He sent the necklace to Susan’s mom. Susan and her mom have a mouth fight after that.

Aren’t you crazy rejecting Hans?

Yes, I am crazy.”

“He is a good guy. He waits for you for a long time.

No, I don’t like him. Plus I have an issue with his possessive attitude.”

Susan is leaving her home and when she is about to turn on her car’s engine, James calls her.

Yes?”

“Madam, you sound strict.”

“I am busy right now. What do you want?”

“I have to entertain kids in orphanage. Can you help me?”

“Where’s your secretary?”

“Don’t you know that she is off for a week?”

“When?”

“Err, right now..”

“Madam, you look awful. Kids will be scared of you.”

“Can you please shut up?!?”

“Fine. Help me. I never talked to children.”

“What do you mean with never??”

“I don’t do this type of work. I deal with adults, investors, interns and accountant, ok?”

Susan helps James to run the event. The organization that owns this orphanage has a business relationship with James’s office.

Can I treat you for a meal?”

“No need. I want to go home.”

“Well, can I go to your home?”

“Nooo.. I don’t think it’s appropriate.”

“So, let’s eat McD with me.”

You are really annoying.”

“And, I like to annoy you.”

“You sound not in the good mood.”

Mm-hmm”

“Do you have a fight with Hans? Is he the one who gives you a key pendant?”

“What??”

“It’s hard to not stare at that pretty pendant. Everyone knows that pendant must be expensive. The other day my sister sets me on a blind date. Guess what? She shows me this jewelry website and asks me to buy that pendant. The one you wear.”

“She is brave…”

“I left the restaurant and yelled at my sister on the phone.”

“Hans and I are not dating. The pendant is from him. It is a Christmas gift.”

“I know. Because you are special to him. I don’t mind give an expensive gift to my loved one. But this girl whom I just met asked for it. That was ridiculous!”

“I got it.

“Susan, can I go with you when you are visiting an orphanage as part of your job?”

“Yes… I just need you to sign a consent form.”

“Thank you. Also, can we also meet more often?”

“Why?”

“Because I want to.”

“What if I don’t want?”

“I will keep nagging like a kid.”

“Hah? Are you crazy?”

“So, I want to confess. The first time you reached out to me through LinkedIn, I actually read your message. I looked up your profile and read your blog. I enjoyed reading your blog. I did not randomly select your question on Instagram. Instead I purposely chose you. I thought heaven must be on my side because you were watching my live video.”

Susan is speechless.

“I know right now is not the best time to talk about it. But, I am so busy and I don’t want to miss this important talk.”

“James, is this a prank?”

“No, Susan. This is not a prank. I want to know more about you.”

“Get to know as if a man and a woman?”

“Yes.”

“But, I am 34 and you are 30. We have a different religious belief.”

“You don’t look like an old lady. As for religious, if it is meant to be together. I don’t mind to change but this will take a long time.”

“James. I am not ready.”

“I will make you ready.”

“James, this is not a game.”

“Do I look like someone who is playing a game?”

“You are crazy.”

“One must be crazy enough to ask someone like you to go on a date.”

“I don’t know what to say.”

“No need to say. Just stay beside me.”

**to be continued…**

The Return of Hans

**All names and characters in this story are fictive.**

The last time Susan spoke with Hans was on Christmas day, 5 years ago. Hans is neither her best friend nor her special friend. He is simply a mutual friend, but he has been around her for 8 years. Susan doesn’t say much to him because she thinks if she has no special interest toward him, she should not try to get his attention. On the other hand, Hans occasionally sends a random message on important events, like birthday and Christmas. Not every year, it’s only when he feels he wants it.

Susan has been keeping herself busy with her job as a hospital director. Seeking a love mate is not her priority. She thinks getting married is a hassle and even if she decides to get married, finding the right guy seems a hard task for her, perhaps even harder than running a hospital. She fell in love twice in her life, but Cupid was not on her side. She had a nice guy back when she was in school, but she decided to let him go because she thought it was too early for her to commit in a romantic relationship. Hans was among the guys whom she was introduced with when she was in a college. Hans was a serious guy at that time, and perhaps still, and this somewhat scared Susan. A friend asked her why she did not want to date Hans, and Susan said Hans was too serious and appeared to be rigid. She disliked that kind of feeling. Too much expectation. Susan left every possible romantic relationship up in the air with any guys who is fond of her. This becomes her expertise. Love life is just not her thing, and she can’t explain why.

After so long not talking each other, Susan was surprised to hear news from Hans. Their conversation was about holiday activities, and as usual, Susan kept it short and simple. Two weeks after their first phone talk, Hans sent him a message. This time he said, “Hey, I will be back home for a vacation. A short visit, a week. Would it be okay if I visit your workplace when I am in town?” Susan kept that message, not sure what she would say. This morning, Susan replied. “Ok. Come to my workplace. I’ll send you the address.”

Three weeks later…

Hi, I’ve just arrived this morning. Are you busy this afternoon? Can I stop by?

Susan replies immediately. “Sure, How about 1 o’clock?” I have free time about an hour and after that I’ve got to see a client at 2.”

Yes. That sounds good to me! I will visit my sister after that.”

Hans’s little sister is married already, and she has three kids. Her little sister is a chatty person. Her personality is the opposite of Hans’s personality.

Beep..beep…

Yes.”

Maam, your guest is here. His name is Hans. Should I let him in?

Yes.”

Hey, Susan! Long time no see! You are looking great as always and doesn’t change that much since the last time I saw you.”

Hahaha.. how are you Hans? How’s life on the other side of the earth?

Both Susan and Hans are studying in the United States. They both worked in the States, but in different cities. Susan left home for good, while Hans remained in the States.

So, this is your office. Looking nice and you have a nice view from here.

Thank you! So, what’s up?”

” Nothing new. I saw your travel pictures on Instagram. It looked like you traveled to different places. Meanwhile, I worked like a hell. Your last picture on Instagram made me to come home.

What???

“Yes, I’ve always read your captions. The last picture made me booked a ticket. It’s last minute. But, it feels good to be back home.”

How long are you going to be in town?

A week. I have a few important meetings next week, so I must return to work next week.”

I see.”

Hm, are you dating anyone right now?

Nope.”

Why? You are not young anymore, you know?

Yes, I am aware of that, but I like to live this kind of life.

Are you serious??

Susan doesn’t know what to say. She smiles. She wonders why this guy is here and asks such a direct question.

Susan, I am here because I have been thinking of you all these years. The last time you rejected me was my devastating moment. I was mad at you, so I didn’t look for you for a while.”

“I see. I am sorry.”

However, you are always on my mind. I even remember your birthday. So, I still text you even if your answer is short.”

“I know. I am sorry again for giving you a hard time.”

“No, you don’t have to feel sorry. So, this is the reason I am coming home. I want to ask you to go on a date with me. What do you think?”

“Susan, listen to me. We both are not young anymore. You have impressed me so much years ago and still. Don’t you think we should try?”

“Hans, thank you for expressing your feeling. Can we talk about this another time?”

“Susan, what are you waiting for?”

“I just need more time. You come home and suddenly ask this type of question. I am not ready to answer.”

“Sigh. Fine, Susan. Let’s talk about it later. I’ve got to go. Let’s meet again before I fly back to the States.”

“Sure.”

Hans is still a guy with straight forward personality. Susan, again, feels the pressure. The same kind of pressure that Hans asked him years ago.

Susan remains quiet. She meets Hans one last time before he returns back to the States. They eat together and spend hours talking about almost anything. Hans could date another girl, but he insists on dating with her. Susan doesn’t get it, but Hans is a good guy. Even if she doesn’t end up with Hans or when he is giving up on her, Susan hopes that he will find a nice girl who will treat him like a king and treasure him like a diamond.

Should she accept him? Should she say no? Susan does not know when it is the right time to say “yes.” Her mouth is just so hard to say it.

Should?

Should a woman marry someone?

Should a guy marry someone?

Should we marry someone just because others think we should get married?

Should we worry with what others say to us?

Shouldn’t we choose the life we want to be?

Shouldn’t be okay if solitude life is good for now?

Shouldn’t be fine if marriage life with kids are not our priorities?

Should or should not is our choice. We should be able to decide our lives, what we want to do, with whom we want to live with, and more.

Sip It Like You Drink Your Coffee

Our lifestyles resemble coffee brands.

Our life issues remind us of the sizes of coffee cup that we choose when we drink coffee.

The way we handle the issues is similar to how we drink our coffee. Some like to sip it while it is still hot, fresh brewed. Some like to wait for a few minutes. Others like to drink it cold.

Eventually, each of us will sip and finish drinking our coffee. Life issues may not all gone completely, but it will slowly dissipate just like when we drink our coffee. It takes time.

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.

33 Things You Want and/or Wish to Achieve in Your Life.

What would be on your lists if I were to ask you to write 33 things you wish you were doing it, or you have accomplished?

It took me a few weeks to compile, but here’s my 33 things:

#1. Study abroad

It was a privilege to be able to study abroad. On another note, it took courage, support (moral and financial), and perseverance to make it successful. If you are given an opportunity to study abroad, I suggest you to go for it.

#2. Go outside the comfort zone.

No one likes uncertainty, and so do I. It triggers anxiety, but doing something new could also benefit you. I experienced this moment when I had to move back to my hometown. The process of leaving the comfort zone was hard, but I actually was proud of myself once I passed the “storm.”

#3. The act of proving.

The decision whether to prove something to someone or not is solely based on individual’s personalities. I chose to prove because of numerous personal reasons. I continuously show to my loved ones that the work that I do is worthy and the life value that I have been holding on is not completely wrong.

#4. Travel more

I’ve always believe that traveling opens our minds and expand our knowledge. I think whenever possible, we should travel more to see what’s going on outside our communities. This is definitely something that I want to do more in the coming years.

#5. Wisdom

Getting older doesn’t guarantee us to be wise. It has to do with one’s ability to acknowledge both strengths and weaknesses, and to take criticism without judging. Practice, practice, and practice.

#6. Letting go

Keep the good and supportive ones and throw the bad ones. The rule applies to all segments in our lives.

#7. Become a philanthropist.

Ever since I learned about the meaning of the word “philantropist,” I have been dreaming to become a philanthropist one day. I have not accomplish this goal yet. It may take xx years to achieve this particular goal. But, who knows I could be a philanthropist?

#8. Passion

This is something that I am proud of myself. It took me 4 years to find my true passion. The searching process was unique and meaningful.

I am a forefront believer that when the work that we do is aligned with our passion, we are likely to give our best performance in the job and to the people with whom we work.

#9. Listen to and respect your parents.

It’s so easy for us to forget that we cannot be the person we are now without our parents’ guidance. Similarly, we tend to dismiss our parents’ advices just because we think we have higher education than our parents are. Little do we know that our parents know the dynamic of life better than we do, so they actually have wiser advices than what we think they are.

#10. Understand and accept that nothing in this world is eternal.

Something happened to our family 3 years ago. That event has taught me very valuable lesson.

I would say that this is an ongoing progress, too. I am learning to accept that one day my loved ones including me have to depart from this world. I am learning to accept that our loved ones cannot physically accompany us forever. This is a tough topic, but I am trying.

#11. Tell me about your first love.

First love, perhaps, is something that I cannot describe very well. Love is a broad term and everyone has his/her own unique love stories. Mine is dated back some years ago when I was still in a college. What bothered me so much at that time (and still, by the way), is to decide which one is better, to be loved or to love? I had beautiful two years love and friendship experience. Knowing that someone loved you that much was priceless and unimaginable. We know that what we want do not mean we could end up having it. This concept applied to my first college love story.

#12. Friends come and go.

Moving several times cost me a lot in terms of friendship. There’s always lose and gain. Keep the positive thinking.

#13. Explore hobbies.

Writing and blogging were among a few things I were interested in, but I did not have time to make them happened. The blogging started because I missed someone so badly, and the way to cure that feeling was to write.

#14. Patience

Most people were quick to think that I must be a patient person due to my job. The truth is that my patience is derived from years of practice and training. But, no, I am still far from perfect. Therefore, I need to practice more.

#15. Cooking

You could call me an eater rather than a cook. I would consider myself a decent cook, but I am just not really interested in expanding my skills. I cooked a lot in the past to push down the expenses. Now, I am not cooking as often as I used to do in the past.

#16. Act of kindness

Being a responsible citizen is not sufficient. One must exercise the act of kindness to others even to your enemies (if you have one) without asking to get paid in return.

This part is an ongoing process. Like wisdom and patience, the act of kindness requires positive attitudes and unselfishness. Now that’s hard.

#17. Relax and breathe

Work and house chores are exhausted but still bearable. Work, house chores and family matter are emotionally exhausted and could be unbearable. Practicing to simply relax and go with the flow is tough, but possible. Life goes on.

#18. Accounting skills.

This skill is highly important. Now that I have a big responsibility to run a place, I realize that I need to learn more and seek advices to ensure I have the money to manage the place and support myself.

#19. Sleep more

Oh, well! I need those quality sleeping time.

#20. Stay young!

…and be responsible. Aging is unavoidable, but having a spirit like young people do, added with tons of responsibility is a must. This spirit will keep us to move forward and do daily things on our own without bothering people.

#21. Healthy lifestyle

Busy life should not stop us from practicing healthy lifestyle. Cutting the consumption of unhealthy food and beverages and practicing positive thinking together with moderate exercise should be incorporated in our daily routine.

In the past, I could drink approximately 4 cups of coffee (grande-size cup) in one day. I reduced my portion to 2 small cups since 2 years ago.

#22. more action less unnecessary talking.

Speak concisely is one of the few things I have been practicing for sometimes. I like the idea because it allows me and the other conversation partners to have productive meeting.

#23. read more books.

I used to read more books when I was in a college. Barnes and Noble is my fave bookstore. I read less fiction and non-fiction books as my working hours are getting longer. I bought lots of books, but those books are for my students.

#24. Personal Robot

I wish I could have a robot that could help me running the household. This means I don’t need to deal with the household tasks and when I get home from work, dinner is ready and the house is clean.

#25. More money

Back when I was in school, I look forward on entering the days when I could earn my own money and had a privilege to spend+open my own saving account. I remembered vividly how good it felt on me to be able to buy things without relying on my parents’ money.

However, as I am getting older, I have to ensure that I earn more than enough, so that at the end of the days, I still have money left to put in a saving account. Adult’s life is complicated.

#26. Pray more

I pray everyday, but I still think I don’t pray harder.

Saying thank you is counted as prayer, but I need to do more than saying thank you.

When life turbulence keeps hitting from all directions, prayers need to go harder.

#27. Doing greater things

Make positive impacts in community has been my indirect goals for the past four years. I would like to broaden this impact so that many families in the community could receive more helps.

#28. Meeting fantastic people.

My definition of fantastic people is anyone who has brought tremendous impacts locally and globally. Anyone who is humble, yet so charismatic and could bring inspiration to anyone who hears and talks to him/her.

#29. Build a family.

This is either yay or nay. You have to put lots of efforts added with extra patience, support and love to build and maintain a family. So??

#30. Laugh more

Laugh is a medicine to wrinkle and depression and sickness. Therefore, as much as we frown a lot, we need to laugh more.

#31. Dare to acknowledge mistake and apologize.

This is very crucial both in work and personal-related matters.

#32. Make use of talent to the fullest.

God gives us talents. We need to use and cultivate those talents to help others and make our world healthier.

#33. Hakuna matata.

Don’t worry be happy.

Take the day one at a time.

Always believe that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

You are Still My Home

This the final chapter of the love story between Gray Cloud and Sonny Sunshine. The three other previous stories could be assessed in this blog with the title “2gether is Better Than One,” “You are My Home,” and “On My Way to London.

London has been good to Gray. She loves the city and her new job. Gray admitted that it was not easy for her to interview parents about their journeys raising children with medical illnesses. She often had to hide her tears as she was listening to their stories. The editorial team at work has been helpful to her, and this has made Gray felt relieved. She kept herself busy and often forgot to call Sonny. She used to think about Sonny day and night, but now, she likes her solitude life here in London.

“Hey, Gray ! Your friend is here. He has been waiting for you all day long,” said Cassie, Gray’s housemate.

“What?? Who? I don’t expect any guests…”

“Well, he’s sitting on the couch and reading a book. Go see him.”

Gray enters the room and sees Sonny sitting in the living room. She is speechless.

“Hey, Gray! Long time no see you! No food in London?? You are super skinny!!” said Sonny as he walking toward Gray. He then hugged her tight and kissed her forehead. His heart feel warm and happy.

“What?!? You don’t say anything to me? Like how handsome I am now??” said Sonny. “Ha ha ha ha.”

“Why are you here?” asked Gray.

“Of course, I am here to visit you. I am jealous that you could fly to England meanwhile I am stuck at work.”

“But, you love your job.”

“Hahahaha, well, I love you more than my job.” replied Sonny.

Gray rolled her eyes as she heard this.

They both went out for dinner after that. Gray couldn’t believe that Sonny flew all the way from Singapore to London to see her. Sonny hasn’t changed that much. He is still a man with countless jokes, though he is completely a different person when he is on the job. She could tell how happy Sonny is from the look on his face and eyes.

Sonny, indeed, is a very happy guy at this moment. He just cannot hide his excitement from Gray. He doesn’t want to let go Gray’s hand from his hand. Occasionally, he pulls Gray closer and kisses her cheek. This sounds childish, but he is a happy guy. As he holds her hand, he is thinking, he doesn’t want to return to Singapore alone. He wants Gray to come back to Singapore with him. He just have to find the right time to convince Gray.

Sonny doesn’t have to wait because Gray actually senses that Sonny is hiding something from her, and she wants to know the truth now.

“Tell me again why you are here?”

“Hahahaha. I told you the reason.”

“No, it has to be something else.. do you get into a trouble back home??”

“Nooo!!! Hahaha” Sonny continues to laugh and shakes his head.

“You want the truth?” said Sonny

“Yes, please.”

“I am here to convince you to come home with me. I mean, I want us to live and build a family together.”

“You know I am sick right?” asked Gray

“Yes, I know, I am the one who has always been there for you. I still want to live with you.”

“What if I am too sick and cannot have kids?”

“Gray, I don’t care. We could buy a dog.”

“Now, what if I die?”

“Come on, Gray! You will not die. If you die, I still want to live with you before you die.”

“I don’t want to leave London.”

“I figure you will say this. I will still wait for you. I have to go back to S’pore this Friday, but I will visit you again soon. The point is I want you and I live together. Remember what I said in the past? Two is better than one. So, you can’t live here alone because I won’t let you live alone.”

Sonny hugs Gray and whispers, “Now, will you dance with me? Because I am tired arguing with you.”

They dance without a background music in the bedroom.

Sonny suddenly pulls out a Tiffany’s box and asks Gray to open it.

Inside the box, Gray sees a ring covered with diamonds.

“Because you are way too precious for me, so this ring represents how I feel about you and our journey. You could keep it, and please wear the ring on your way back home.”

“You are still and always be my home, Gray. Come home with me, because I am your home. You have to admit it.”

Thanksgiving: Past, Present, and Gear up for 2018

Thanksgiving, which marks the beginning of the holiday season, always leave me with mixed feeling. This particular mixed feeling has been remained the same from time to time. It’s always the combination of happy because Christmas holiday is approaching and sad because this season reminds me of someone and something I have been wanting so much. Although the memories of past hope and love stay intact, time heals the wounds and disappointments. 

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for the courage and mercy that God has been given to me. I surely could not make it this far without His kindness. It took a big courage to go back on track and build a strong foundation of a new life. I’ve learned that there is a beauty in every imperfect situation. This realization could and will happen when we acknowledge our weaknesses, ask for His guidance, and move forward. Once we move forward, we cannot look back on our past too often because we could forget what our goals are. 

We could look back on our past once we achieve at least 80% of our life goals. When we reach that point, we could compare and contrast, and then redefine our life purposes. 
Happy Thanksgiving!
Keep spreading the love because our world will remain and stay healthy when each of us share love with others

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?