Living a Quality Life – #3

Reunited with my former colleague, Mr. Lee.

Among the many people I had a chance to reconnect with while in Korea was a former co-worker of mine, Mr. Lee. I know Mr. Lee from my days working for the Busan-Jinhae governments where we were both part of the Singapore, New York, and Dubai delegations. It was wonderful to have the chance to catch up with him after all these years. Like me, a lot has happened in his life and career since we last saw one another. Continue reading

Breaking Down and Floating Up


It’s been a tough week. Actually, it’s been a tough month. So tough that to my horror, I found myself silently in tears on the bus ride to work Thursday morning. It came out of nowhere, and I was horrified when I realized what was happening. It’s not like I was sobbing in a fit of hysteria, but there were definitely quiet tears streaming down my face. I did what I could to pull it together. Act like an adult, I told myself. Grow some thicker skin. Don’t be such a child, and pull yourself together. And while that sort of worked, it wasn’t what I needed to truly get back on track; it was only a temporary fix that was just long enough to stop the tears. The stress, frustration and disappointment continued to hound me throughout the week. Continue reading

In a Life Full of Routine, How to Rediscover Joy


Years ago I picked up the hobby of card-making. I basically taught myself all I knew, which wasn’t much, but enough to keep me entertained. I would spend hours making (and eventually using) my own creations, experimenting with different patterns, cardstock, papers, and embellishments such as ribbons, stickers, and stamps. It was great fun and provided me with hours of creativity.

But after a while it started to fall by the wayside. Continue reading

Four Lessons I’ve Learned from a Week with the Flu

It really did take me by surprise. I knew I was going at an accelerated pace since the start of the new year, but it wasn’t non-stop like it was before. There was that nice long break between Christmas Eve and the first working day of the new year; there was the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday and the day off for the presidential inauguration. So when I came down with a horrendous cough, sore throat, laryngitis and complete exhaustion, frustration was the first thing I felt.

I was frustrated that my ridiculous pace of life had been interrupted. I was frustrated by the fact that I didn’t recover after one day of working from home and even more frustrated when there was little improvement after a day working from home and a day at home not working and resting. Why wasn’t I getting better?

The fact of the matter was, one does not get better by simply working from home versus working in the office (because at the end of the day, work is work and your body is pretty much put through the same washer cycle no matter where your office is), nor is one day of complete rest enough to recover from the flu, even if you did get your flu shot. It finally hit me today, on Day 3 of Being Sick, that recovery requires complete dedication of the mind and body, in order to occur.

So as I have been confined to the bed with little energy to do more than watch BBC nature documentaries and nap, I have also learned four valuable lessons that I should transfer to my daily life, even during my healthy days: Continue reading

The Value of Long-Term Projects


In the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom, the musician Sting comments on today’s trend of achieving instant fame through reality TV shows like “American Idol.” He says he feels that those who have reached stardom through such shows miss out on the spiritual journey artists from his generation and before had to experience on their road to fame and fortune. It’s not that it’s a bad thing, but perhaps a sad thing: a rite of passage and a period of personal growth seems to have been lost as many of today’s celebrities don’t get to experience that journey.  Continue reading

Learning How to Say “No”

I have come to the belief that there are not many times in life when we can say the word “no.” Whether out of obligation, respect, hierarchy or moral values, saying “yes” is often the right thing to do. But there are instances when saying “no” is not only the best thing to do, but also necessary, especially for one’s health.

The struggle between complying with requests and taking care of oneself is all the more highlighted during the holiday season. At this time of year, social invitations, charitable donation solicitations, and everyday holiday requests come flooding at us like an avalanche with the hopeful (and sometimes expected) anticipation that we will say “yes” to it all.

But the reality is we can’t and we shouldn’t. There are few people in the world who have the time and finances to do it all. The majority of us must pick and choose wisely. But this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Obligation and feelings of guilt can be the biggest drivers to forcing us to do something we don’t feel comfortable doing.

Here are a few guidelines I have found helpful toward helping me say “no” without guilt:

  1. Forgive yourself. Do this first, right now in fact, before you turn down any request. If you can’t forgive yourself now, you will have a harder time saying “no” and end up saying “yes” to something you wish you hadn’t when the request arises. So don’t beat yourself up. You can’t be your best if you aren’t first taking care of yourself.
  2. Consider your own, unique reality and know your limits. We all have different realities when it comes to finances, time, energy levels and obligations. What is possible for your best friend may not be possible for you, and this is completely okay. Realize this. Remember this. Consider this when making a decision. If a request comes your way and your ability to fulfill it will result in even more stress and regret, politely decline and move on. Know your limits, and stand firm.
  3. Find creative alternatives. Sometimes, saying “no” might simply mean “not right now.” It doesn’t have to be finite. For example, a charity with a cause that is important to you may hit you up for a donation during the holiday season. This may force you to look at your other financial obligations and simply fail to see a way how you can make a meaningful contribution to what you believe is a deserving charity. In this case, saying “no” now does not mean saying “no” forever. First, forgive yourself, then politely decline, but make a note to send your donation another time when finances are not so tight. Then stick to that promise as best as you can. You will find immense satisfaction in being able to do this according to your own timeline.
  4. Remember your values. This is a difficult one, but in times when a decision about saying “yes” or “no” is not so clear cut, remembering your values can sometimes be a deciding factor in how you respond to a request or invitation. Ask yourself how responding “yes” or “no” to a specific request aligns with your personal values, then act accordingly.
  5. Don’t dwell on your decision. Once you make a decision, don’t dwell on it. Move on. You know you made the best decision for yourself at this particular time under these particular circumstances, and you know any other response would not have left you feeling comfortable or good about yourself. If you are dealing with decent people, there will be no ramifications for your decision. And if you find there are negative outcomes to your response, put them aside for a time when you have the energy to address these issues properly. In order to be an effective, contributing person to our jobs, families, friends, and society as a whole, we first need to take care of ourselves. Only then can we be the best that we can be.

Reads to Get You Through the Week

Even if it is a short holiday week for most of us in the United States, it is still a “week to get through” in more than ways than one. Here are a few good reads to get you to the finish line (aka The Weekend) in a balanced state of mind. Read them all in one sitting with a cup of your favorite warm beverage, read one a day for a dose of daily mindfulness or pick and choose which articles speak to you. I found value in all of these, and I hope you do too:

And in honor of the Thanksgiving holiday this weekend, I am grateful for all the readers who take the time to visit this blog. Although in its infancy, this blog has become a refuge for me from the daily grind of life that tries its best to wear me down. Knowing others find some value in my thoughts makes the journey much less lonely. Thank you.