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The "Wu Word" Blog

December 2018

Give

It was one of those days.  Those bad days.  Very bad day.  Everything was going wrong. 
 
It started when I arrived at work and realized that I had forgotten my book bag where I carry everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING…my whole life is pretty much stuffed into that black bag) at home.  I rushed back home, grabbed my book bag, and then returned back at work only for me to find out that my wallet, cell phone, and my notebook that I carry religiously around with me was missing.  I literally stopped breathing and then oxygen came back when I remembered that I left all these items in my other bag at home (of course!).  After much mental debate, I decided to drive back home yet again to get my wallet and cell phone because I knew I was not going to be back home until much later at night due to a craft activity I was going to that evening.   The day progressively worsened.  I spilled hot scalding hot tea on myself.  I rushed to the gym for a quick swim before the craft event to try to recover and get a bit of better back or bare minimum of good in my bad day only for my ear plugs to break.  I was rushed and late for the craft event to the point that I missed out on the beginning instructions.  I could finally feel myself relaxing in the craft class.  My tense shoulders were loosening up.  My anxiety level was decreasing.  I breathed a sigh of relief when I brought my completed crafted candle into my car to get home for a piping hot dinner and kitty cat Ricky to warm up my lap and spirits. 
 
Finally, this day was going to end on a good note.  I blasted Christmas music and bopped my head to the happy tunes in my car with a relieving thought that, FINALLY, this bad day was not going to get any worse.  That was pretty much the last words I thought to myself when the luminous wide eyes of a deer was suddenly staring straight into my eyes only inches from my car.  I screamed: “Nooooo!!!” as I  slammed on the brakes as hard as I could only to feel the crashing impact of the car and deer colliding.  It was happening too fast, yet in slow motion.   I was numb.  I was shocked.  I was shaking all over.  I was breathing, but I was not.  That did not just happen.  That could not have just happened.
 
The jolly Christmas music was still playing.  My car was still drivable.   This had to be a dream.  No, this had to be a living nightmare.  I pulled over.  Even with the slight sliver of the moon in the sky above, I could see that the front of my car had been badly damaged.  I could not even think straight.  Do I go home?  Do I call the police?  What happened to the deer?  Is the deer alive?  Was anyone hurt?  Or killed?  Was I okay?  I did not even know.  My mind was racing a mile a minute.  I was going to just explode right then and there.  I slowly drove my car out.  Not a car on the dimly lit road.  I looked for the carcass of the deer, but there was nothing to be found.  I quickly decided to go home.  After all, I was only five minutes away.   As soon as I shakily stepped foot into my apartment, I decided to do the first logical thing: Call my car insurance.  I could barely manage to speak on the phone.  I was trembling all over.  I was talking, but my mind was in a fog when I was on the phone.  Then, when I finally spoke with my neighbor to ask her for help to get a ride with her the next day to work, I burst into sobbing tears to her.  I was hungry and drained but forced myself to go out into the dark cold to clean out my car for the towing company to take my car the next morning.  My other neighbor who just arrived home asked in the dark: “Mary?  Is that you?  What are you doing out here in the cold so late at night?”  I burst into tears all over again.  She wrapped me in her arms to hug and comfort me.  She helped me carry my stuff to my apartment.   
 
I could barely talk and said through my choking tears with a croaky voice, “You are always helping me.   How can I ever repay you?  What can I give to you?” 
 
“Mary, you do not have to give me anything.  You do not owe people anything.  Helping you helps me.  Giving to you gives to me.” 
 
All of a sudden, I felt so small and tiny.  Like a little girl trapped in my adult body.  I just wanted to be swaddled and cradled close.  I wanted to feel safe again.  Slow and steady tears wet my face.  I was starting to calm down, but I was completely numb and in shock.  I spoke with my Dad, but, again, my mouth was moving to talk, but my mind was not present.  It was then I did what I had not done in the longest time: I reached out to friends I had isolated myself from in the past year or so.  I had always put a façade of having ‘my s*it together’ and to be the one to give and help others.   I had always felt responsible for others.  It was hard for me to ask for help.  It was even harder for me to show my vulnerabilities and weaknesses.  Call it pride.  Call it stupidity.  Call it just me being me.  Call it everything and anything.  I think all these tears I was crying was an extremely delayed reaction of everything that had built up in these last couple of years and not just on this bad day that had taken a turn for the worst.  I suddenly did not care if people saw the worst side of me that needed help and needed taking just as much as I had given and could give from me.  I had a strong urge that I needed comfort, care, warmth, safety, and sanity.  Immediately, one of my friends called me up to check on me.  Within the next couple of weeks, friends offered and took up driving me around because they knew how scared and leery I was to drive at night in a huge rental car that I was unfamiliar with and after the deer accident that clearly shook me up to the absolute core of me. People called to check in on me, fearing that I was battling yet another health challenge.  My family and particularly my father consistently reminded me to take it slow and pace myself better.  I also contacted a deer refuge/sanctuary to donate money to the deer to try to alleviate my profound and unexplainable guilt and horror.   I know it seemed like overboard to do this, but this car incident with the deer really brought me a place of deep contemplation and a new understanding.  I will never know if this deer lived or died, but I do know that this deer taught me some of life’s greatest lessons: Slow down, Pace yourself, Give to and Help myself in order to give to and help others, and Sharing and Showing the worst part of ourselves to become better and stronger together in a collective means not just an individualistic and island means because, indeed, we are not floating islands.  I am still working on this.  We are, as I always say, works in progress.
 
I am learning that the great gifts our vulnerabilities and weaknesses give is to give to and help others.  I always felt and still do feel like I ‘owe’ others and that nothing is for free.  There are no free rides.  It has been thrown in my face when a person has given to me only to have high expectations that I cannot meet.  I am learning and seeing that when there is love and someone genuinely love and cares for another then there is giving without owing, expectations, explanations, and guarantees of returns.  My father always said that there are ‘givers’ and ‘takers’ in this life.    I hope to do and be good.  I hope to give.  I hope to help.  I hope just be okay with others and myself for deep peace within ourselves and around us.

  Are you a giver or are you a taker?  When did you with expectations for returns and only to be left disappointed?  When have you shown your worst and most vulnerable sides for people to try to pick you up?  What is the greatest 2018 lesson you have learned? 

A most peaceful, joyous, and healthy new year to all. 
 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-) 

Space

Space
 
I could tell you sweet lies
To your face
I could hide the truth
Behind your back
I see but I won’t say
I honestly know
But I will not go
No matter how much you may
Push me away
Walk the other way
I will still be here
I will still care
Only for now
I’ll stand on the sidelines
All in due time
This is your place
This is mine
You need your space
So do I
 
I get it, I get you
It was too good to be true
I knew that you would break
It was too much to take
All you are going through
Your living hell
You will live to tell
You will not share
You act like you do not care
Yes, that’s right, life is not fair
Yes, that’s right, it’s always a fight
You do not believe me
When I tell you this is only a little while
Can you give me your smile? 
Can you give me your hand?
Can I keep you warm in my arms?
I’ll hold on tight for you to understand
I will give you all I can
To make it better again
 
You will not be here forever
Please remember
This too shall pass
You will put it together
You got your doubts
I promise you it will work out
These are tests
We are all a mess
So I confess
That this place you are in
You will lose, You will win
You try, You cry
You dream, You scream
You sink, You swim
You live, you learn
So this is your place
And this is my place
Let live, Just give
Each other, Everyone
Space

 

Personal

In my mid-20’s, I believed I had achieved the ultimate goal of obtaining a job at a hospital.  Ever since my second kidney transplant, I wanted a job at a hospital where I worked directly with patients and had that feel-good feeling that I was helping others and maybe, just maybe, even making a positive and happy difference in someone’s day or even life (I strive high!).  I was bright-eyed, innocent, and eager to learn and do and not just stand idle on the sidelines.   The mandatory and months-long training required a mentor who would show me the work, make me do the work, and assess and report back to our supervisor how I was coming along and when I was at a place of independence.  My mentor was a tall, lean, and cheerful guy with a big infectious smile.  I immediately felt at ease and set the bar high for myself (as I always do) to do the best job ever.
 
I quickly caught the mentality of healthcare and working in a hospital that ‘everything should have been done yesterday,’ ‘patients come first’ ( I knew this as a patient myself), and, most of all, the very first work and life lesson that was told to me in my face at work was ‘do not take anyone or anything personal.’
 
I was a naturally friendly and chatty person that eventually warmed up all my colleagues, but there was one colleague who I could not warm up at all.  She was like iceberg lettuce.  She barely looked at me and, when she did, her blue eyes were icy and seemed to say “you are really stupid and I can’t believe I am giving you the time of day.”  I was terrified to ask her questions, but I did not want to make mistakes.  Unfortunately, the roles we were in required me to have to ask questions at times.  One time, she finally lost her temper with me and snapped at me in front of all of our colleagues.  I was visibly shaken and upset and my mentor who I was still training with and who saw my crushed and confused expression said softly, “Hey, Mary, you cannot take her or anyone or anything personally in this life.  The thing in life is you never know what people are going through.  Some people will say and share everything with you and you still won’t know what to say or do.  Some people will share nothing with you and you do not know what to say or do.  You can never really win, but you just keep on trying and going.  You develop a thick skin.  People are just people and you have to take them as they come or go.”
 
As time went on and particularly when I finally understood my work and was even mentoring and training others, this colleague finally warmed up to me.  She even smiled, laughed, and joked around with me.  I would not say she became my best friend, but she did teach me a very important lesson that people are not what or who they seem in the beginning and our situations and environments have a huge impact on how we behave.   I have been thinking about this colleague and what my mentor said to me over a decade ago.  I think about the person I was back then and still am that I have always been a highly sensitive person that takes anyone and anything personally.  That is not to say that I do not have a thick skin.  That is to say that I am careful and try to be as cognizant as possible with what I say or do not say and how I say it and with the ultimate acceptance that timing is just about everything with everyone and in life.  I suppose what I have been ‘guilty’ of my whole life is that I care, and I HATE to care and especially for people who do not care about me or who care less about me as I care about him or her.  Sure thing that I know no relationship is completely mutual or equal, but I also know myself that I walk a fine tightrope of caring and giving just enough so as to protect myself.  I have been on the receiving end of hurt and pain from caring too much.  It hurts to care and even more to love because the truth is that everyone ends up leaving anyhow.  No one and nothing is permanent.  Only temporary.  Only for rent.  No one and nothing is ever for ownership.  Too many times, people told me that it is better to have love than lost to never have loved at all, but no one can take away that hurt or pain when the love or the person you care for is gone.  Too many people have seemed to put it upon me that it is bad to care or bad to take anyone or anything personally.  I’ve developed my thicker skin teetering on a hard shell as I’ve aged alongside a surprising pride that I do care because if we did not take anyone or anything personally then how would we gain our sense of compassion or care for others?  And, isn’t compassion and care elements that we need more in this world? 
 
One of my very good friends absolutely cannot stand it when someone says to her: “Do not take it personally,” because she sees it as the person saying this as lacking awareness and responsibility for how they treat others of just being ‘ok’ with making others feel awful.  When it comes to caring and being personal, I have always tried to abide by what Papa Wu has said to me: “Never be afraid to be personal and to share, show, or say to someone that he or she is special to you or that you care about him or her or appreciate him or her because life is short and everyone wants to feel like he or she is special and remember his/her purpose in this world.”  So, to those who have told me “Do not take it personally,” I say “I will take it personally and I will be proud of it.” 
 
I am known to take people, situations, and just about everything and anything too personally.  Do you take everything and anything personally?  Have people told you that you take things too personally?  How does it make you feel?   When have you cared more for someone else than the other has cared for you?  When have you taken it so personal to the point that it hurts you?  I am sensitive and emotional and why do I have to apologize for it?  Why should I have to apologize for caring?  I guess it comes down to this: It’s personal.
 
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-) 
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