The Fragrance of a Country

When I first came to Thailand, I fell in love with the Night Markets. I love strolling around the little unique food stalls and small businesses in the market. My friend once said we could learn about the famous places of a foreign country from books and photos. But books or photos could never capture the unique smell of a country. That’s why we have to travel. 

I feel bad that I cannot show you how good it smells here. I hope you could feel it in my photos.

   

  
    
 

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Getting Close to the Nature

I feel so excited to be so close to the seagulls today! I went to the Bang Pho National Park in Thailand with my fourth graders. We felt so hot, but it was all worth it. We felt amazed by how hungry the birds were. 

   
    
 

The Symbol of Peace – Thay Thich Nhat Hanh

I felt very peaceful this morning when I saw Thay Thich Nhat Hanh’s poster in the hallway. He was holding a bell with a smile just like the way he looked when I met him 5 years ago. 

I am a baptized Catholic Christian and my husband is a Buddhist. I wanted to learn more about his faith. My husband’s colleague is a dedicated member of the Plum Village group. She drove me to the south of Salabury in Thailand. There was a one day retreat in the temporary Plum Village centre. 

We arrived early in the morning. The place was on a mountain, beautiful scenery. The monks were walking slowly with a big smile on their face. Even the dogs looked very happy there. I felt the serenity among this community.

We sat down for a vegan breakfast. It was Thai tofu green curry with a lot of fresh green herbs. My friend told me that the Plum Village community were very active environmentalists. A young monk came to greet me and asked, “Hi Madam, what brought you here?” I answered sheepishly, “Uh.. I am actually a Christian. But I am curious about my husband’s faith.” He smiled, “It is a good thing to be a Christian.” I was surprised. I thought he would try to convert me to be a Buddhist. He said, “I feel happy to see you here. If you want to know about Buddhism, I got two books for you.” He went to his room and grab two books for me. Then He said, “Enjoy your day here.” He bowed to me and left. I really admire the space that he gave me to explore. I like his open and relaxed attitude. 

After that I saw a 50-year-old Asian man walking slowly with a big crowd following him. Later I learned that he was already 84 years old! I heard from my friend that Thich Nhat Hanh came from France, so I thought he was a westerner. He greeted the others and the children with high respect. We sat down and meditated for a while. I actually had no clue what meditation was at that time. 

During the dharma talk, Thich Nhan Hanh talked about his story of becoming a monk and his journey in developing engaged Buddhism. He said his vision was to promote world peace without boundaries. I met people from different backgrounds, like Muslims, Judhist, Catholics, Christians, etc. I can see that he was succeeding in doing it. 

After the retreat, I read many of his books and I have been practicing mindfulness since then. I feel a lot stronger and happier than before. I feel very grateful for his teachings. Thank you very much Thay! I wish you will recover soon. 

  

Cultivating Creativity

When I started this blog, I thought about what topic I felt compassionate about. I am various interests, like cooking, reading, cosmetics, parenting, and mindfulness practice. I was thinking if I should limit my blog to one topic only so that it will be more focused. 

But then all of these topics are very important in my life. So I decided to just use my blog to express myself. I am using it to express my feelings, my compassion in life and any ideas that I think may help the others. 

I also thought about who will be my possible readers. I am deeply connected with children and women. I feel happy to see them transform and evolve into their best selves. But then I also wish to learn from men who always see things from a different perspective and it seems exciting to connect with them. 

I feel more free and inspired once I opened up my options. Many ideas keep flowing in when I keep expressing my feelings and ideas about anything comes to my mind. I finally realize that I want to help myself and my readers to find an antidote to suffering. I wish to find a path, a lifestyle that is relaxing, fun, compassionate, and sustainable. I hope we will all embark on this journey because we are in the same boat together. 

What is your way of cultivating your creativity? Please share your ideas.

  
Reference of picture: indie flimsiness.com

Too Strict Vs Too Lenient 

My friend and I talked about parenting styles a few days ago.  We are both elementary school teachers and we’ve seen many kinds of parents. We were wondering how to be a good relationship with our children in a way that we are not being too strict or too lenient. 

He thinks when we constantly reject our children’s ideas, likes and dislikes, we are being too strict. Parents’ constant demand of doing things in their way and constant rejection will gradually build a wall between them and their children. Eventually, children will stop communicating with parents honestly. 

Then he said being too lenient is always trying to be the children’s buddies without setting boundaries. I totally agree with him.  I think to cultivate responsibility and self awareness in children, parents have to be clear about right and wrong. If children made a mistake, parents can point it out as a matter of fact without getting emotional. Children need to know the truth and they make mistakes because of ignorance, nothing else. After pointing out the mistake, we can have fun with them again and forget about it. If they make the same mistake again, just point it out again until the children form a good habit. 

That’s just what I have been doing as a teacher and it seems like my students like to relate to me in this way. I have to see if this parenting style works on Bella 😛

Below is a picture of Bella on a golden Reindeer. Christmas is coming! 

  

Gratitude Game 

Imagine if we can switch all of the regrets, the “if only” thoughts in our mind to grateful thoughts, we will feel so much about our lives. I invite you to play this game today.

For example…
“If only I got another degree, I will get a better job” to “I am grateful that I am educated and I got a job.”
“If only I am more beautiful, he will love me more” to ” I am grateful for being me and I have enough to be lovable.”
“If only I am richer, my life quality will be better” to “I am happy that I am alive and healthy.”
“If only I can be smarter, I will be more successful like…” to “I am grateful for being me. No one can do this job more successfully than I do.”
“I will be happy if only I got a boyfriend/ husband” to “I am grateful that I am single and my options are open.”
“If only he could change, our relationship would be much better” to “I am grateful that he is being true to himself.”
If only my kid just does what I ask him to do, my life will be easier” to “I am grateful that my kid can think for himself.”

After playing this game for a while, I feel that everything has a brighter side. 🙂

  
Reference of Picture: http://www.speculativefaith.com

Get back on Track

I feel a bit uncertain about my future lately. Maybe because of all of the changes happening in the school management. And maybe part of the uncertainty comes from my age. I feel like it is time for me to have a solid plan to reach my goal. 

I have been studying hard since I was young. But I always feel that I am not good enough and I have to study more. This makes me keep postponing my plan to carry out my goal.

My dream is to set up my own school to teach children how to develop their EQ through mindfulness. I have been doing research and publishing conference papers for four years. Lately I want to fulfill my dream so badly that I almost lose it. I feel like I can never get there and let my worries overwhelm me. 

Luckily my husband just reminded me to believe in myself and take baby step at a time. I just realize it is so easy for me to stray away from my goal when I lose patience. I feel grateful that I have someone who still believes in me and put me back on the right track. 🙂 

Keep your eye on your goal, everyone! Don’t stray from it no matter what. 

  

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