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The "Wu Word" Blog

March 2017

Perry & Rosie

Perry came into my life at a major and purposeful time.  It was 2003 when I made the major and purposeful decision to no longer live on the college campus and commute for the last year and a half to save money, but, most of all, to break away from the old and comforting and welcome the new and exhilarating.  I was in the outside observer mode examining my life and coming to grips that an ending was coming and slipping and sliding into a new beginning. 
Let’s be clear that Perry is a car.  He started out as my sister’s car in 1998.  I became the sole driver of Perry when I began my college commute.   Perry was the car I learned how to drive in and actually drove in when I became a licensed driver.  Together, Perry and I cruised underneath starry night skies, full moons, twinkling stars, and blinding bright sunlight.  He listened to my bad singing, enveloped me in his familiar and plush interior, and tried to protect me by going strong when I experienced fender benders and even my first major car accident when a truck slammed into Perry’s headlights.  Perry loved my family and friends as he openly welcomed and took us on road trips to New Jersey, Connecticut, and Long Island.  He was even there when one of my closest friends threw up in a plastic bag in Perry’s purple-shelled protection.  Perry was there when I laughed aloud, cried uncontrollably, and wallowed in loneliness.  He was the ultimate listener to talks to myself and talks and even squabbles with my loved ones. Perry is the prime example of how we get attached to inanimate objects through materialized and moving memories that grow in our mind, fill up our hearts, and make up our lives. It is NOT things we get attached to, but it is the memories and people attached to these things.
For nearly 20 years, I have driven Perry.  He is the only car that I ever drove.  I named him to take ownership and responsibility of him.  I have had to bring Perry to the mechanic more in the last few years than in the very beginning as Perry also shows that as we get older, we need more care and consideration.  As my mechanic said whenever I got anxious about any sound effect that Perry made from getting older, “Perry is never going to die.  He just keeps on going.”
About 4 years ago, I knew that Perry’s time was coming to an end when I made the plunge and forked over the money to buy him a new used engine that cost more than his worth in physical and function when the memories with him are priceless.  He spent days in the garage to receive his new engine, or ‘heart.’  In those days without him, I started to toy with the fact that I would have to get a new car or used car.  I couldn’t imagine parting with Perry, but the thought was starting to seep in my brain for me to soak up: “Well, when would be the right time for a new car and to say good-bye to Perry?”  
Well, I got my answer right at the start of the 2017 year.  I was driving along as carefully and slowly as possible on a rainy day when Perry was hit badly.  It was a hit and run, meaning the the culprit who hit me never stopped to check if I was even alive or okay or if my car was okay.  I could not stop looking at the dent only to be left with a wave of sadness at poor yet strong as steel Perry. 
My Dad said that we had to get a bumper sticker band-aid to cover it up so I would not look at it and repetitively said, “Stop looking at the dent!  You are getting obsessed!”
My friend said, “Just pretend it’s a dimple.”
As all my loved ones said to try to comfort me, “Mary, it’s a car.  The dent isn’t that bad.  A car can be replaced.  You can’t.”
Yes, I thought, you know what else is irreplaceable are all the made memories that happened with Perry with all the people I love.  Yes, this latest hit had to be Perry’s last hit.  It was time for a new car.    
While researching cars, time rewound for me to back to 2003 when I first was introduced to Perry that here I was now in 2017 looking on the outside of my life and knowing that an ending was coming and I was slipping and sliding into a new beginning.  With a new car.  How funny life is that time keeps on going, but sometimes it feels like it never went by. 
My new car is now Rosie.  A red car that I always wanted and dreamed of.  She is an all-wheel drive that has a loud purr and roar when I merely tap on the gas medal.  She has all these buttons and features that I am still trying to figure out, including a hatchback that is too high for me and makes me stretch on my tiptoes to maybe grow an inch taller and a rearview camera screen.  She is a smooth ride.  She has come into my life during a major and purposeful time in my life now when I am the outside observer examining my life to break away from and re-prioritize certain people and situations in my life for new beginnings.  With her, I am making new memories
We all have experienced reaching an inevitable ending to what was once a beginning that will lead to another beginning. There are times when we must flow with ‘out with the old and in with the new,’ and not that ‘old’ or bad or ‘new’ is good, but that life is made of a series of points and timings that call for finishes and starts.   Have you ever been attached to an inanimate object that created memories and experiences for you that you had to let go of?  Have you ever reached a point or time in your life that you knew was an end and there was a new beginning?  Have you ever really examined your life as the outside observer to execute changes that you knew timing was calling you to finally make? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary ;-)


The Golden Rule

I will never forget when I received my first paycheck from my very first job back in 2004.  That mere piece of paper seemed to represent all my years of childhood fading fast into adulthood.  I wanted to frame it. I wanted to spend it.  I wanted to save it.  I wanted to savor it.
Alas, before I could keep this very first paycheck in my pocket, it had to leave my pocket to others first.    
The first was to my family.  In my family, there is an unspoken tradition that you treat your family in some way with your very first paycheck.
According to my father who was separated from all his siblings and parents, pinched for pennies, and made ends meet all on his own in the U.S.A., “Most of the money went to your grandmother—my mother.  She was in need of it more than me.  I lived my life on Wonder bread and peanut butter as my meals.” 
According to my stepmother who also made it on her own in good old U.S.A., “My money went to my parents in Taiwan.  I treated them to a meal.  There is nothing like making and especially earning your first paycheck.  Knowing that you worked for it to reap the rewards and that you do not have to go to your parents anymore as a bank, but they cannot be a bank forever as their funds deplete as parents get older.  It is hard to make and earn your own money, but it is worth it.  Nothing easy without effort is really worth it.”
With my very first paycheck, I treated my father and stepmother to dinner.  I was giddy with a gap-toothed grin when I said to the waiter, “Check please.  You can give it to me!”  

There was nothing more satisfying and joyous to me to see my parents basking in a delicious meal that I had worked for to treat them in a very minuscule way and in comparison to all my Dad and Stepmother had done for and still do for me.  It was the first time that I understood that parents will do anything for their children and will always see their children as children to take care of them, but there comes a time parents grow old and children grow up for adult children to take care of elderly parents.  I think parents want their children to be healthy, happy, and independent to manage and take on whatever bumps are faced and bridges are crossed in life.  I think one of the greatest forms of love is to let go to see that person fly and soar on their own rather than stuck and unmoving dependent on others.   
My aunt once said to me: “Life is measured in 50.  First 50 years of a parents’ life is to take care of children.  Last 50 years of life is for adult children to take care of old parents.  Parents wish for their children to be independent and strong to stand on their own two feet and walk forward rather than crawl on the ground.  50 and 50 makes for 100 years of live and living.” 
After my first paycheck, I quickly learned that most of my money that I earned went more so to others than to myself—mainly bills and more bills.  Bills for my very own apartment.  Bills for my health.  Personal bills for my enjoyment and entertainment—did I really NEED this as opposed to WANT this? 
Budgeting and responsibilities came on sudden with my father at the forefront teaching me that money is meant to be saved for the long-term, and spent and enjoyed as we want to and given to others in need from how hard we worked and earned.  Over 10 years of working taught me that it takes much longer and is much harder to make money than to spend money and it is easy to spend money (if you have it) than it is to ever get that money back. Long-term of saving money grows with time and is not measured in the moment as compared to the short-term of enjoyment where money goes fast.  Whenever I griped or complained about work, my father reminded me to be thankful that I can work and said: “Remember ‘The Golden Rule.’ The person who makes the gold makes the rules—hence your employment making rules over you and hence you in charge of your own money that you must take responsibility and ownership of.”
If I were to ask my father for money now, he would give it to me.  However, my pride would never allow me to even ask.  I suppose I inherited this from my father, as I have never been one to be a charity case and I do not like anyone paying my way as I always feel indebted to them.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I went to Papa Wu Bank, and I like to think he likes not being a human ATM machine and is proud of me being the ruler of my gold that includes me spending my gold on those I love and care about in the smallest ways that mean the most that cannot be fully measured money-wise. 
Indeed, here is the “Golden Rule” that the person who makes the gold will make the rules.  Just as the person who can feed you from their hand can also withdraw their hand just as fast as they fed you from that hand.   Gold is about power and control, but it is, ultimately, about independence.  We have had Golden Rulers throughout our lives starting from our parents who cared for us and gave us allowance that we had to work for through chores or employment/employers that made the rules for us to follow to receive yet another paycheck to save and spend as we desire.  The greatest Golden Ruler is I or You.  As much as it sounds nice to have someone pay your way, it is very nice on the surface and in the short-term.  Though it is beyond challenging to make, save, and spend money, it is YOURS and FREELY YOURS without anyone making the rules of your own gold.  

Were you given an allowance as a child and how did you have to work for it?  When did you start to budget?   Were you actively taught budgeting or did you learn as you go?  D you remember your first paycheck?  What did you do with it?  re you the ruler of your own gold with saving or spending or, hopefully, a balance of both? 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-) 

My All

I spent a good portion of my life with the problem saying “NO.”  I was a people pleaser, fearful of confrontation and conflict.  I also think it is because most of my life experiences were “NO” from others and certain obstacles that stood in my way that I made it a point to turn all these “NOs” into my “YES”-es.   In my 20’s and in my early 30’s, I suffered from “FOMO”- “FEAR OF MISSING OUT,” resulting in busy days of going out, basking in freedom, cramming my ink-filled calendar with one activity after another.  I was never popular in high school, so if I could be popular now in my 20’s and 30’s, then why not?? 
I did not think or care about the later costs of me feeling drained out, exhausted, and my sleep patterns all messed up, but as my parents and only one friend would question out of care for me: “Are you pacing yourself? You are the one who will suffer the consequences and not others.  Slow down.  Be selective.”  I ignored them.  I just wanted to “Live it Up” rather than “Slow it Down.”  So, I gave.  I gave my all.   To everyone and anyone that I often forgot that I am only human with tremendous flaws, imperfections, and limitations. I failed to find balance in the bonkers or calm in the chaos.  I was always the cheerleader with the pom poms, the side kick, the supporting cast/supporter, and the one with the biggest smile and loudest claps for others. I am the friendly one and friends with everyone with the purpose to make a positive difference and leave them laughing and happy with a smile on their face and imprinted in their spirit. 
Now in my mid-30’s, things are changing and I am changing to break patterns and habits.  The truth is that when the crowds fade and the clamors quiet, I am left alone and by myself with thoughts: Well, who will be there for me?  Who appreciates and acknowledges me?  Do people even really know me well enough to help and support what I need?  Who knows me well enough to know what I need?  Who cares about me?  Who would, maybe, just maybe, go the extra for me? Who REALLY knows me better than I know myself?  And, how can I take care of and help others in the best of ways when I may not be taking care of myself?
Have you ever questioned all this?  Can you honestly say you know anyone OUTSIDE of family who will be there for you when you are REALLY in an emergency or need?  Are you taking care of yourself? 
All these questions and quandaries sound resentful and petty.  In fact, it also teeters on expectations of people when the reality is that we can only hope and cannot expect anything from anyone.  People disappoint.  People get disappointed. 
I’ve come to understand that you can be friendly with everyone, but you cannot REALLY be friends with everyone. True friends outside of family who can and do help you out are rare and priceless gifts.  I find that most people want to help, but are limited.  I’ve come to depend fiercely on myself after only family came through for me and, perhaps, no more than three-five friends.  It is natural to reach a point where boundaries are made, lines are drawn, and invisible walls are put up after being on your own to fend for yourself and being burnt before being toasted and trying to ward off being completely charcoaled.  There comes a point where we become increasingly selective with who we spend our time with, who we give to, who we go to for help as each person has individual gifts to give when called upon, and letting the ‘all’ we can give and have given become the ‘some.’  The greatest gift and especially necessity of giving ‘some’ rather than ‘all’ is to take care of you in the long haul.  You cannot pour from an empty cup.
We think we are invincible and do it all and give it our all.  We eventually understand that we are limited in our own means and in time, resulting in becoming much more selective with the dawning realization of how precious time of how we spend our time and especially with who whether it is to give or to receive.  We are unaware of the importance of taking care of ourselves to help others and how we all wish to be acknowledged and appreciated.  It is not about being selfish.  It is about being honest with yourself and with others.  We do not stop to recognize, acknowledge, and admit our limitations and end up slamming our brakes until it is too late rather than slowing down. 
Are you selective with who you help and give to and who you spend your time with?  Do you tend to give your all? I’m learning to take care of myself, pace myself, be selective, and reserve ‘my all’ in parts and pieces for the greater picture and for endurance rather than sprinting.  I am learning to say “No” while embracing flexibility and wiggle room as life calls for all of this.   Are you? Do not let your 'all' become your 'none.' 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,
Mary ;-)

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