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The "Wu Word" Blog

October 2015

The Student

In a closed classroom, there sat roughly fifteen students circled around a mammoth-sized conference table.  Nearly all of them were in their mid-twenties.  Hands folded neatly in a studious and almost prayer-like pose.  Eager eyes.  Shining smiles.  Cutthroat and competitive attitudes simmering deep inside only to bubble over when the time came in this ‘rat race’ world we lived in.  Wide open minds to be fed with factual knowledge by teachers—approximately two teachers who were just as excited to share their wealth of knowledge in this mandatory training program. 
I was one out of these students in title, but not feeling it by any means in role fulfillment.  For one thing, I was feeling quite confined, claustrophobic, and caged in this small room with strangers.  Many do not believe me when I confess that I am shy and even quite awkward in and with a big group of strangers, all dependent, of course, on who is in the group and what led us to our encounter.  The overstimulation is too much for the observation quality that is naturally ignited me me with so many (too many) in one room.  A group or power in numbers, completely takes the upper hand and over the sincerity of a person.  I am much better in and prefer individual encounters that are a true gift to me to get to know a person in his/her real essence. 
Thankfully, the teachers were probably aware of someone like me when they proposed the next activity;  Each of us to announce and share three interesting qualities about ourselves.  “Ooohs…” and “Aahhhs…” and raised eyebrows were most of the responses to the qualities.  However, there were the select few that received an enthusiastic round of applause.
The receivers of the round of applause were the climbers up the “success” ladder with obtaining yet another degree to add to their Bachelors Degree that just was not enough and did not cut it in this competitive, corporate, and high strung society. 
Masters in Healthcare Policy.  Masters of Public Health.  Masters in Communication.
I’ve been wondering if there was or ever could be a Masters Degree in Life.   Was there a degree I could get to master myself and life? 
In the classroom with all these students, I was the student that contemplated deeply if these degrees made them any more smarter, wiser, and capable to handle this life that did not come with any set of instructions, maps and compasses of directions, or clear-cut answers to the questions that we had and would continually have as we aged that could not and would not be answered in a classroom setting at a drop of a wish and dime?  They knew how to read the books, study until the crack of dawn, guzzle down caffeine to stay awake for yet another project or paper, and listen to the lectures, but did they know about LIFE? Yes, LIFE that required budgeting finances, making split-second or long-term decisions, compromising versus standing up to values and principles, communicating with people and adjusting to their personalities, giving to and respecting others, handling pressure and stress with grace rather than giving up or grunting, and that the easy way was not always the best way to taste the sweetness of victory that only came with the hard ways. 
So many ‘masters’ in degrees and the names and numbers of advanced degrees keep on increasing, but did these degrees develop and even achieve anything more and even to ‘master’ life? Did those who clapped their hands in a round of applause even know why they were clapping?  Because, unlike the others who clapped for the climbers and receives who beamed with pride, I was the one who cringed with a dull and lackluster touch, rather than clap, of my hands.   
We believe and perceive that more degrees get us the better job, more money, and bring out the better us, but what is really ‘better’ and is that truly found in classes and lectures?  I am all for education and the classroom setting (especially if you knew since you were a tiny tyke what you wanted to be when you grew up), but not to the point of hindering on life-experiencing. If you obtained an advanced degree(s), did it bring what you expected or even more in life that you foresaw?  With more degrees, were your intended goals met and even closer to ‘mastering’ life?    
 Being a ‘student’ again has made me realize just how much I am NOT a student who is able to sit idle in the classroom to listen to lectures.  Rather, I am a student of life to experience everything hands-on.  I am the kind of student of life to live it and do it.  Actually, when I look back on my life, I question if I went to college because I had to and because that is what we do rather than because I really wanted to go to college.   Some of the smartest and wisest people I have ever met are high-school educated who have maneuvered through life because they had to survive rather than masters or doctorates, but there is also vice versa.  It is all how we get through and learn from life.
Another round of applause.  The clap of hands in the small classroom with nearly fifteen students echoes in my ears.  I am only one student who is getting through and trying to listen and learn from life as my greatest teacher. My ‘role’ as a student will forever evolve, progress, and change because of what life will teach me at different stages and ages. We are all students of life to learn, observe, develop, decide, and live with consequences from the choices we made and that life laid out for us.    
No round of applause.  No one needs to put their hands together to clap for me, as I feel that am in a humble position to learn as the student and will never be the master of life when life is the greatest teacher of all.

So, what kind of 'student' are you?  What is your education of degrees versus education of life?  

Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-) 

Hello, Goodbye

I was starting to get creeped out. 
There I was all alone and minding my own business as I ate my lunch and reading the print version of “Reader’s Digest” when the hairs on my skin started to stand up with the strongest sensations that I was being watched.  When I looked up, a pair of intrigued brown eyes were staring at me across the rather roomy cafeteria that overlooked the New York City Chrysler building. 
There was something familiar about him.  But, I did not know what.  I knew that I knew him.  I just did not know from what part in my life I had known him, because, you know, life has many parts with every intention to make the whole.  Then again, there were people that we met for the first time that we somehow had the feeling that we had known in a past life.  Maybe I had known him in that previous life.  You ever get that feeling?  Someone you saw for the first time, only to feel that you have known that someone forever or some other life or time. 
Before I knew what was happening, the guy with the brown eyes walked up to me, and asked, “Mary?  Is that you?”
That is when it hit me.  This was a guy I had worked indirectly with nearly three years ago.  I had not recognized him with a grown beard that had added age and maturity to him.   Since seeing him yet again after three years, I have bumped into him at least two more times.  When we knew each other then, we barely muttered two words to one another, but now we conversed about the future rather freely and for lengthy durations rather than any kind of chit-chat about the past. 
He is not the only unexpected one from my past who has eerily returned. 
In these past two weeks of mandatory Manhattan ventures, people from 9 years ago when I first started working at one of the hospital’s Manhattan locations have returned with an intensity that cannot be fully described or digested immediately.  The nurses and colleagues are stunned to see me again and wrap me up in tight hugs, exclaiming: “Mary!  What are you doing here?  Oh, my God!  How long has it been?” 
There was my favorite red-haired colleague with piercing blue eyes who had introduced me to the night life of NYC who I saw again.  He is the only direct colleague that still remains from when I started.  He looked exactly the same from when I first said “Hello.”  He was one of the few people who I was fearless to say “Hello” to because of his radiating aura and energy.
When the people from my past ask me what I am doing here in Manhattan now and what has happened in my life in almost ten years, I find that it is a verbal struggle to share all that has brought me here today.  We can speak rather easily of how we encountered or ended a ‘relationship’ with someone, but how easy is it to share and verbalize everything (memories, moments, experiences) that happened in between?  And, yet, it is everything of the good, bad, and in between that are sandwiched in “Hello” and “Goodbye” with people that are the most meaningful to and in life.
My mind ends up rewinding to the memories of 9 years ago when I began, 7 years ago when I relocated to one of the suburban/regional sites of the hospital, and the mere 2 weeks ago that I was last in my comfort and content zone with the colleagues at that suburban/regional site.  It was only 2 weeks ago that my suburban site colleagues went all out with red and white balloons, goodie bags of teas galore, and a personalized cake topped with inch thick saccharine frosting and a photo copy of my face on it. 
How did all this time go by that leaves me at a loss of words of all that has occurred between my “Hellos” and “Goodbyes” to so many people who have impacted and enhanced my life?  How could I possibly describe and explain all the amazing, extraordinary, and remarkable that manifested in my life, personally and professionally?  How is it that I am meeting new people and will meet new people at a job that awaits me only for unrest ghosts and people from my past who I was sure I closed the door to are back to open the door and pop in with this new part of my life?  I am left with such an immense sense of loss and confusion, and this dull ache that I miss the past and savor and remember the memories that brought me so much to where I am here and now. 
I have always been quite scared of “Hellos,” because it was the very beginning where first impressions determined if the seedling of a potential relationship would take roots and blossom.  I have never been afraid of “Goodbyes,” because “Goodbye” was my closure, acknowledgement, and honor to the unique relationship with that certain person where memories formed from our experiences together.   But, now, I wonder about “Goodbye,” and if there is ever really a final farewell?  After all, these people from my past who I said “Goodbye” to are now people I am saying “Hello” to yet again alongside the new people I say “Hello” to.
All this time, I believed I had at least a little control of my “Hello” and “Goodbye” encounters.  If I was curious about someone and getting to know them, I initiated to meet.  If I was hurt by someone where trust was broken in the worst case scenario, it was my intent to leave if needed.  But, in this transitional period I am experiencing that wavers of leaving behind and going forward without any backward glances or regrets, I am contemplating that the people who revisit still have a purpose in my life that has not been completely met.  Until the purpose is met, I will keep meeting them again.  And, so the “Hello” and “Goodbye” cycle continues on. 
The “Hellos” and “Goodbyes” are the beginnings and endings to the many spans, or parts, within the greater and grander journey of life. I have always believed in the fate or kismet that we are meant to meet certain people, but I question if we are meant to see people again whether we like to or not?   
Who have you said “Hello” and “Goodbye” to with the set belief, intent, and wish to never see a person again, only for that person to come back?   Or, vice versa?  And, if you had the power to see that special someone again who you believed the “Hello” would last forever without ever saying “Goodbye,” who would that person be? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary :-) 


Poem Zone: "Until We Meet Again"

Until We Meet Again
Hello, Goodbye my new old friend
Start, Finish to break my heart
Mend, Tear these pieces apart
Truth, Lies as this is our end
Until we meet again
Memories of you
Linger in my mind
Wish they go blind
When will I see you next?
I am restless
The emotions are endless
Such deep darkness
Until we meet again
Dreams of you
Vivacious, Vicious, and Vivid
Shatter, Shine, and Sublime
The wounds are fresh
I am such a mess
I am always your second best
How will I last?
Until we meet again
Conversations with you
Words spoken
Promises broken
Goodbye, Hello my old new friend
Finish, Start to break my heart
Tear, Mend these pieces apart
Lies, Truth as this is our end
Until we meet again

Poem Zone: "Love Enough"

Love Enough

My love will always be enough for you
Where else would I be but here with you? 
It does not matter where we are going 
It does not matter what we are doing
As long as we are together
Side by side 
Step by step
This is all that matters
My love will be enough
To weather the worst of storms
Even when you bleed from life’s thorns
Even when your world falls apart
I will place all your pulverized parts
It does not matter what went right or wrong
It does not matter if our time was short or long
As long as we foresee forever
Past and Future
Here and There
Then and Now
I will love you enough
To keep you warm
Even when you are tattered and torn
Even when you are broken and blue
I will be the glue to the entire you
My love is all I have to give to you
But I will never know if your feelings cut as deep as mine do
If you ever loved me enough as I love you
If my love was ever good enough for you
If my love was even enough for you
It hurts too much to be with you
It hurts too much to be without you
I love you enough to love you from a distance
I love myself enough to walk away without any backward glances
I love enough to breakdown my defenses and take future chances
My love was never enough for you
Where else would I be but to finally leave you?

Dream Job

Ten years ago, I was 23-years-old with a head full of dreams that I was determined 
to make into realities.    
I was fresh out of college, bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, and full of fearlessness that I would find and take a job that met my major studies of psychology, 
communications, and sociology.  I wholeheartedly believed in my teachers and education, achieving the best grades, and all my hard work that caused me to miss 
out on college parties to enjoy the college life and early 20’s just a little bit more would get me where I would need to—my dream job.   
I would have a dream job that I loved.  I did not know exactly what my dream job 
was, but I knew it would not be the type where I sat behind the desk to push paper.  Rather, it would be a job where I would be the change that I wished so badly to see 
in this broken world.  Surely, I would not become one of those people who loathed 
where I went to and worked at for at least 7 hours a day.  I would get along with all 
my colleagues.  My boss would be a stellar role model who epitomized leadership.  Many dream jobs played in my mind like a song that beckoned to be sung 
repeatedly.  A social worker.  A therapist.  A government job where I would make executive decisions to change the world and make a most positive difference.  
Maybe a PeaceCorps position to gallivant the globe where I would see and heal the sadness and the suffering.
Of course, my dream job had to be in the pulse of New York City—breathing in and living the life of bright and blinding lights, restaurants galore, and endless cultural 
and fun activities that I would traipse to so I could meet people and my future 
husband that I would marry by the time I was 24-years-old. 
These were all my dreams.  Nothing and no one would stop me from living them.  
Well, except for reality—of course. 
Reality that my parents, nothing, and no one lasted forever for me to depend on 
for money to pay and figure out the piling bills, live on my own, and handle the 
daily and sporadic household needs (grocery shopping, preparing/cooking my meals, housecleaning, laundry, ant infestation, and the plumbing and electrical issues) 
that arose.  Reality about responsibilities.  Reality for the hundreds of thousands 
who had to take a disliked job in order to make ends meet to feed a family.  And, 
the ultimate reality of all: Independence and freedom came at literal and metaphorical costs. 
Fast forward to now.  Just about ten years later and I am back in New York City 
once again for job training before I begin my new job that I am more filled with ambivalence about rather than excitement. And, I hate it—‘it’ referring to the city 
and not the training.  I hate it with an intensity that leaves me in shocking 
disbelief that I ever dreamed to live and work in New York City.   The chaos, the 
cost, the crowds are way too much for my body and mind to even try to manage.  I have lost at least two hours every single day for this month-long training because 
of a commute that requires me to wake up before dawn breaks and return as the 
sun sets.  Now in my 30’s, time and freedom has become more vital to me than ever before, for time is borrowed without any returns. Most of all, my 
observations of the exhaustion, anxiety, and worrisome expressions on the herds of commuters and New Yorkers all around me at extreme stimulation leave me questioning how many of them are actually living and working their dream job?  
How many people can say that they are living their dreams? 
These latest ventures back in New York City has made my mind rewind to the time of my 20’s when I had so many dreams about a job that I would love only 
to now see the reality that we often do not and maybe never even live out the dreams we dreamed  and the dream job because of the life realities and circumstances of needing money and healthcare benefits to fulfill daily responsibilities for ourselves and our loved ones.   It has also made me reflect 
on myself with blunt truth that this is the very first time in my life that I am taking 
a job because I really needed this job, and not because I really wanted the job.  
This is a job that entails everything that goes against all my dreams right out of college: It is a paper pushing job of fighting with and dealing with insurance 
companies to get medical services approved. 
I have worked for over a decade in various jobs: A personal assistant to a dragon 
lady who breathed fire in my face over minute details, a receptionist at a tennis 
club with posh individuals who seemed to have everything on the outside and nothing on the inside, and a Medicaid Service Coordinator/Case Worker for 22-25 families 
with children with serious medical needs.  Although all these jobs varied in responsibilities at hand and people I worked with and for, the core commonality quality they all had was helping people in real-time where I could actually see the results from the people I helped face-to-face.  Now, with this job that awaits me in about a month, I cannot help but feel deep betrayal on my part.  Like,  I have 
betrayed my dreams.  Like, I have betrayed myself. 
Dreams are funny and quirky, beating to their own rhythm, because they are 
played out and ultimately planned out in our heads.  Realities beat to their own rhythms by going and moving on with unforeseen life circumstances that ultimately
tell us that we cannot plan anything because there are never any guarantees in 
life.  Somehow, dreams and realities are hand in hand and forever connected that make and mold our lives to live it without any life instruction manual to read from 
and really understand. 
What is your dream job?  Did you ever even have a dream job, for there are some people who do not necessarily know what they want to do with their lives and are always hoping for and searching for a purpose? 
At what point did reality set in for you that you could not necessarily do what 
you wanted and dreamed to do, but did what you had to do to survive for yourself/your loved ones or because life circumstances steered you in a 
different direction?
Or, are you one of the few people who I see, who actually got the chance to live 
out your dreams and dream job? 
So many dreams that I had with starry eyes and sweet innocence.  When I look 
back, the early 20’s was a magical time that possessed boldness, discovery, 
naivety, and factual knowledge that eventually manifests into life knowledge as 
the years go by and growing up turns into growing old.  So many dreams that still 
play on and live in my head to hold on to with every hope to make into my 
realities.  When I look at now in my 30’s, I am still seeing sparks of magic in forms 
of acceptance, openness, growth, and understanding of realities based on life and whatever it brings in all its changing and moving ways.
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary ;-) 

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