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In front of me is the ocean  – only the sounds of the wind, the waves (Oh! my happy place).  Behind me are the buildings, the cities, and people.

Pueblo Bonito – the Pacifica Resort

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its an honor

Tomorrow is big sister’s big day – her wedding reception.  It has been a long road for them… and finally, she is now married, to her man/best friend.  My oldest sis, the first to wed. I am truly happy for her.  Now as a maid of honor, I have to make a little speech.  Wow, time runs short on me.   It is an honor in deed.  At the same time it’s a big responsibility – representing the bride’s family.   I am behind, and now running on my neck.  Something to be remembered for her wedding day and will be addressed to both the bride and groom but has to be pleasant to the elders’ ears.  Let put these all together in writing.  The worst scenario is just being spontaneous.

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Rippling effects…

A lot of us come across this image at many places, but how  many   have really put some thoughts or got the full meaning behind it. I like symbolic meanings.

There is a quote (Buddha’s quote, I think) saying, “Even drops of water can make an ocean; dust particles a mountain”.  This refers to the Law of Cause and Effect.  All actions have their own effects.  Our apparently insignificant action become causes for great effects.  The Zen thought of this law is also summarized in a similar “tiny garden” called the Eastern-Water Drop-Pot.

The garden is completely enclosed by raised paths and grooves, but the garden itself has no roof.  This allows the rain to drop into the “pot”.  There may be a reference here to the Buddha’s words: “Drop by drop is the water pot filled.  Likewise, the wise man, gathering it little by little, fills himself with good.”

Further, the stones and gravels are used to express water.  The grooves or circles are the waves.  The act of raking the gravel into a pattern recalling waves or rippling water has an aesthetic function. Zen priests practice this raking also to help their concentration. Achieving perfection of lines is not easy.   The rocks sometimes represent a frog jumping into the pond; other times refer to a boat, a person, or a mountain.  It is said the effect of the jump is a wave that goes out and, if strong enough, the wave will come back to push the frog out of the water again.  This is used as a metaphor for our intentional actions.  If we act strongly, with a heart that bears no selfish desires or anger, our actions create far more powerful effects that will eventually return to support us.  I always love Japanese and Zen gardens for their serenity and inner peace-feeling.  It can be both helpful for concentration and also thought provoking.  They are simple but delicate, and serve a deep meaning and sincerity of purpose – a very powerful message.

From an enlightened master’s point of view, we are as stupid as the creature, constantly making incorrect assumptions about the world because of our limited system of thought.

Visiting a garden with a few rocks in it gives our mind just enough information to feel comfortable.  Here we can train our mind to stop jumping about from one unrelated subject to another.    In this way, it is similar to the breath counting meditation.  Calming the mind, like calming water, allows the dirt to settle, and the water to clear.

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Oh, the List(s)…

Last day before my 12-day Thanksgiving break.   It’s a break from work, yes.  It’s time of the year to make plan for vacation and use up remaining vacation days/holidays, to get personal to-do’s done, to shop and prep for the holidays.  As usual, I am checking off my work accomplishments before I can go on vacay.  What’s pending and what’s to follow-up, what can be delegated…   Turn my Email and Voicemail ‘s “Out of Office” option ON.   Voila.  Clear the desk and I am out of office.

And then I move on to my personal to-do’s list, in chronological order.   Remember to pick up the T-shirt for Thanksgiving morning race.  I am going to come out and trot, to support the Sheltering Arms Senior Services.  Then, have to remember to check out for any fun, musical shows for kids, my favorite little buddies.  Andy has a new interest – theater arts/acting, so he wanted to go see some Broadway and musical shows.   I gave him a list from The Nutcracker, to Riverdance,…  Cirque du Soleil.  I had in mind the Siberia orchestra – not sure if it fits his style or age.  Never underestimate a kid, huh?  How about “Disney On Ice: Dare to Dream”?  It must be good for his younger brother.  “My Fair Lady” sounds like the best choice.   A few medical/dental appointments are in line – checked.  This reminds me of one pending issue from the Flex Spending account.   The Made Ya Smile dental office has not done me any help.  I requested a statement to accompany the receipt of my copay for FSA, and what they sent me was an Account Ledger.  Bummer!   What a horrible decline of customer service!   With the sisters in town and some guests on Thanksgiving, I will be busy with cooking, prepping the houses for the holidays.  What else? Oh, it’s about time for car maintenance service.  Shop for my next car? I have been thinking about this (sport vehicle – a Jeep Wrangler describes me best), but I’d put a low priority on it, must be after my next property.  Then I will have a few days for resting, for pampering, for a bunch of meetups and holiday events, and there will be plenty of time for gym.  I probably won’t be able to get out of town until hopefully later this year…

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Sustainable habit

October is over.  November is here.  It’s the month of light saving , of light transitioning from north to south.  There will be more colder, rainy days, and absolutely windy days of falling leaves…   Such are nature’s laws.   Speaking of laws, I have been sticking on my principles of living until… recently I have a new habit.  Drinking coffee – is it a bad habit?   I used to think so.  No smoking, no liquor, no coffee, no soft drinks – strictly for my healthy living.   I love the aroma of coffee – no doubt about it.   I passed by the coffee aisle at Kroger’s this weekend and could not resist checking out the Organic Columbia coffee beans.   Suprisingly, drinking coffee does not make me go to sleep as it used to.  I am more alert during daytime, and have slept much better at night.  That is a good sign.  So I am now into it – the freshly roasted and recently grinded.  It’s ok to drink coffee from time to time, as suggested by Mary Jane (my asthetician).  It all started with her; oh and the irrestible  “Keurig” coffee maker at the training class last week.   On the side note, Kroger’s was said in an GCImagazine article soon to become a hypermarket not only for groceries but also for private label health and beauty products.   I read that coffee helps with reducing pigmentation;  also read that it can make skin worse.  One thing I know is, I am drinking more water.  Coffee does dehydrate your body/skin.  Just like wine, there are so many controversies of coffee/wine intake.  Some coworkers I know have been drinking coffee all their lives and look really older than their ages.  I am setting the weekly limit: 1- 2 coffees only, no sugar added.   Keep in mind anything over-consumed is not healthy for your body.  Sustain it!

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Today, I read a story of Brady Quinn, the Broncos’ back-up quarterback,  who left his team behind to fly half way around the world to be by his girlfriend during her surgery.  How sweet is he! Men like that are rare, and admirable.  I can be skeptical saying that he is getting attention at the same time.   Fame and fortune simply make these athletes more of what they already are.  I looked up on Wikipedia for his background and his zodiac sign.  A Scorpio.  I am not 100% into astrology, but believe in some generalized traits or characters.   He is a bright star, indeed and so well-brought up.   I am impressed he graduated from Notre Dame with dual degree in Finance and Political Science.  But I believe more in his inner character.   However competitive he is on the football field, he knows how to treat his woman right.  He is not selfish or egocentric in the relationship field.   It is not just because he could afford the charter to Japan, but because he seems to “just do it” while he can.   The future is hard to tell, but I wish them happiness as they are seen now.

While (insecure and emotionally unavailable) guys nowadays have excuses, can come up with all reasons, I am comforted there are good guys like him out there.   There are other clowns  in the circus; so keep my eyes open and avoid drama boys.

 Do not share your life with someone who does not agree with these three attributes of relationships. Commitment, Affection, and Communication. When both parties have these three down all the rest are either attributed to them or linked to them. Love, sex, trust, time, common interests, money and resolution of arguments. Embrace your partner. Remember they think you are very special and you them. Never forget when you first met.

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Friday jeans

OK. The United Way campaign season is here. There are “Big Loser” contests, donations, auctions,… going on. And the Friday jeans are here. Buy a green wristband for $25 i can wear jeans on 5 working Fridays. I miss casual fridays with jeans. So I emailed the HR to “count me as one”, and got a reply “sorry they’re sold out”, but we can get some more later this week. Bummer! All sold within half day of the email? So, I am counting my hope on the green wristband…

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