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The "Wu Word" Blog

January 2020


I fell in love with games and gambling at around 10-years-old. 
Card games: War, UNO, Poker, and Spit.  Board games: Monopoly and Outburst.  But, the game I loved the absolute most was Mahjong.   My grandfather and cousin taught me how to play the game.  We used to gamble with pennies and food.   The clickety black of the shiny ivory blocks as they smacked against each other and as we stacked them and then flipped each block out to play our hand was adrenaline-rushing and thrilling.  Bamboos.  Circles. Chinese numbers.  Take up a block.  Give up a block.   Someone could take or ignore your block.  Poker faces.  Match.  Strategize.  Think hard.  Maybe a little luck if you are lucky enough.  Until you got your way.  Until you win.  Win big. 
In my immediate family, I was the only one who like to gamble and play games.  Outside of my immediate family and among all my relatives, just about everyone loved and did play a good and rousing game of mahjong except for my aunt.  I thought this was odd, though, because my aunt was somehow always gambling or bargaining in life.  I still remember us snaking our way in the overly crowded and steamy streets of Hong Kong with my aunt and another aunt (in Chinese, or maybe it is in my family, we call just about everyone aunt) haggling with the store owners and store keepers to try to talk down prices of items that they really wanted to buy.  I’d watch my aunts completely mesmerized and confused with this one question blinking brightly in my mind over and over: “If they really want it, then why don’t they just buy it at the set price instead of fight it?”
As I got older and particularly on a trip to China, I turned red in the face with embarrassment when my aunt was snapping at this storeowner to talk down a price on this pink hat that I really wanted.  She turned her back. grabbed my arm to drag me away, and said in a clipped and no-nonsense voice: “Now, we walk away.”
I hissed, “But why are we walking away when I really want it?  Why is it always a fight and bargaining?  Why can’t you just accept it as the price it is?”
“Wanting it and meant to have it are two separate things.  You have to be willing to walk away and lose.   Wait and watch.  Listen and learn,” she whispered back.
Moments later, the store owner threw up his arms and spat off that he agreed to the price that my aunt agreed to.  I got my pretty pink hat that people shower me with praise that I look that like a happy strawberry shortcake when I wear it.  I could not believe that my aunt had talked down the price to that low.  I could not believe that she had gotten her way.  I could not believe how much I loved this pink swirled hat from China.  I was curious and utterly fascinated.   I was speechless.
I opened my mouth to ask my aunt how she did that.  Her painted red lips curled upwards in a smile.  Her eyes sparkled.  She nodded.  I paused.  Without her saying anything, I think I understood: “Wait and Watch.  Listen and Learn.”  I pondered about my family upbringing with mahjong as a staple game that we played out of family fun and my aunts who did not always accept what was told to them and they, instead, told others how it is to be.  In each of these ‘games,’ you had to learn to lose AND be completely fearless to lose.  You had to be unafraid to walk away and leave if the terms that you put out there were unaccepted for what you deemed as worthwhile.  You had to put yourself out there and make your terms known and clear without budging, but bend if needed.  Think carefully and strategize without over analyzing.  Trust in yourself and in the wise risks and stakes and take ownership for the winning and the losing.  Walk away when it was at the best peak and when timing was just right to be satisfied, but not and never greedy, with the winnings rather than the losings.   The name of the game: To win AND win big, you had to be willing to lose AND lose big.  Maybe the key to winning is the acceptance of losing that brings out our humility, humbleness, and abilities to keep on trying and going without losing our tenacity.
Losing holds just as importance than winning.    When have you lost?  Are you a risktaker?  Do you bargain and try to negotiate to get your way?  Is what you deemed as losing REALLY a loss?      
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-) 

Breaking Bad

Years ago, I befriended a young lady who was fresh out of college.  She seemed timid, uncertain, and eager to please anyone and everyone.   In many ways, I felt like a big sister or mentor to her more than anything else.  Around this time I befriended her, I told her about my newest and latest project called “Live List.”

“Oh, bucket list?” she asked.

I paused.  “Hmm…I guess you could call and consider it a bucket list, but I do not like to think of myself doing these things because I am afraid of death.  I like to think I am doing these things to embrace life and to be and live in all these great and amazing moments in life.”

I then began to run through the list with her: “Go on a hot air balloon ride.  Go to an opera.  Go to a baseball game.  Travel the world.  Learn to ride a bicycle.  Fall in love.”

She paused and then said, “I think you suffer from FOMO.”
I was intrigued.  I never heard the acronym ‘FOMO.’ I was usually the acronym creator, but here there was this young person (at least ten years younger than me) giving me a lesson in acronyms.

“What’s FOMO?” I asked.

“Fear of Missing Out.” 

I thought about this acronym and then asked: “Is that a bad thing?”

She shrugged, “No, I guess it isn’t.  But, isn’t fear of anything a bad thing?”

I thought about this ‘FOMO’ acronym.  I thought about fear.  I was all too familiar with fear.  Probably my greatest fears being that I did not do what I wanted to do and I did not live my life the way I was meant to live it before I died.    Yes, I certainly do know it seems odd for someone of 37-years-old or even younger at that time of creating my ‘Live List’ to think of ‘before I died,’ but the truth is that the only way you come to appreciate the value and the gift of life is when you are on the brink of death yourself or when everyone around you ends up in the clutches of death.  I know that sounds dismal and depressing, but I like to think of knowing about the reality of death forcing us to live life as light to the darkness and life and death being in each other’s company kind of cool with each other. Over the years, I had went on to fulfill as many of my ‘Live List’ items as possible.   To fulfill these items, I had often run myself ragged until I burnt out.  Often, I would spend so much time planning and preparing for one of my ‘Live List’ items that I ended up stressed.  I also did not know my boundaries and limitations because of FOMO.  No matter how many people would like to say that we are limitless and can do anything and everything, I have to come to realize that this is NOT true as we get older.  We all have our boundaries and limitations, and that is just as important as knowing to push the boundaries and limitations without detriment to ourselves.  It is a fine line.  I do not know how to sit still.  I do not know how to relax.  I do not know how to do nothing.   

Then, it dawned on me that, yes, that young lady from so many years ago was right.  There is a downfall to FOMO.  There is a negative twist to FOMO.  You will plot, plan, and do everything intended for a single FOMO moment that you are living for or that you make out to take your breath away that you are missing on all the seemingly simple ordinary minutes and moments that can mean the most and bring the greatest treasures and pleasures.  Worst of all to FOMO is not being present.  I have now realized that there are many moments that I may have missed out on all because I was hung up and giving in to FOMO- Fear of Missing Out.  This realization is HUGE to me.  I have spent the vast majority of my life trying to “seize the day” and “live in the moment” only to see a different side that maybe I have not been doing this.  People have said to me time and time again that I need to slow down, take it easy, pause, and be present.  Heck, I have even said this to myself.  But, now it is REALLY time to ‘break bad.’  I need to.  I have to.  Or I will burn out and run out as a result.  This has then made me contemplate about our ‘bad’ habits and ways, imperfections, resolutions, and actively trying to change or tweak ourselves to be better.

January is almost over with.  We are well into the 2020 year.  I have asked many people about what their resolutions are.  Many have said to me that they do not make any because they cannot keep them.  I think the greater question and quandary is if people realize what their weaknesses and ‘bad’ are to try to overcome and ‘bread bad.’  We are creatures of habits.  We get so wrapped up in our days and ways that it may reach a point that we break and have to, in turn, break these bad habits.  I cannot say that I am making a resolution.  I can say that I am trying to be better and the only way for me to be better is awareness of my ‘bad’ to then try to ‘break bad.’ I can say that I am now very well aware of my imperfections and flaws that can be hurtful to me and to others that I have to try to change for the better. It does not have to be in big ways.  If anything, what I have learned in life is it is always the little ways and little things that lead to the most. 
We are creatures of habit and flawed humans with bad habits that need to be broken.  What bad patterns, vicious cycles, or bad habits do you have?  Were you aware of how debilitating they were so that you had to change?  What did you do or are doing to make a conscientious effort to change?  

Keep smilin’ until we meet again,

Mary ;-)
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