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Being self-employed has both its advantages and short-comings. When choosing to be a freelance consultant, I am fully aware that my income is not stable and no one is depositing a regular paycheck into my bank account. Contrary, there may not be a paycheck at all during a famine season! I remember when I first started out as a counsellor, my schedule was only 20% full. Creating multiple income streams which include speaking engagements, training gigs, and selling books help augment the unpredictable nature of my business. On the positive note, I enjoy more flexibility of when, where, and how much I work. Though taking time-off means a loss in income, I made it a priority to leave behind the cold and snowy Toronto and visit somewhere warm.
I am among one of the 1.5 million Canadian tourists who visited Mexico in 2014. Counting myself lucky, I am pleased to have made the decision to stay here for one week. I am having a great time here with my husband and two daughters. We are staying at Club Intrawest in Zihuatanejo. The mile-long La Ropa Beach is covered by silvery fine sand. Among the sounds of the glassy sea, splashing 1- to 3-foot waves, and seagull-screams, I can also hear children’s laughter and giggles from the young-at-heart while writing this article at the beach-view balcony. I feel blissful!
Both the local Mexicans and the tourists, young and old, enjoy the beach. When you are in the water, life gets real simple. Just you and your bathing suit, whether is a Gucci bikini, or a hand-me-down one-piece, you are entitled to float, swim, or trod freely in the salty sea. It doesn’t matter if you are rich, poor, optimistic, sad, cheerful, moody, strong, weak, big, or small, the gentle breezes and crashing waves welcome everyone and leave out no one. You just need to show up and the ocean embraces all of you.
“It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.” ~Charles Spurgeon
Surgeon got it right! We cannot find happiness by owning stuff, or buying this, or selling that. Happiness has to do with our ability to fully grasp and appreciate what is happening in this present moment. For me, I am thankful to be alive having my dear family around, accepting who I am, and allowing my loved ones to be all that they are without the desires to change what they have to offer this world.
No more, no less. No pretense, no hide-out. Just as you are!
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” ~Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi’s quote reminded me once again about the importance of cultivating harmony in:
2014 is filled with meaningful memories and lessons. I do hope to return to colorful Zihuatanejo and soak in another glorious Mexican sunset by La Ropa Beach in 2015!
Life is filled with precious moments. I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2015 with many meaningful moments!! Love to hear your comments below 🙂
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding.” ~Khalil Gibran
I suffered from severe pain related to a bad tooth for more than three days. Earlier today, the 3-part procedure to treat my toothache finally started. Part one involves a root canal treatment; part two requires building a crown to protect the partial decayed tooth; part three has to do with treating my gum disease. I expect the procedures to complete in two to three weeks with multiple visits to different specialists.
Pain is our body’s signal to alert us that something is wrong. It needs our attention.
In my case, the inflammation in my tooth needs work. The work of repairing the decayed tooth costs me downtime from work, long hours on the dentist chair and dental bills in the thousands.
Are there benefits from pain?
I am not saying to look for pain because of the inherent benefits. But knowing that pain in life is inevitable, at least four benefits came to mind:
Pain gets our attention real quick. Pain urges me to take action. In my case, the pain alerts me to do something about my decayed tooth. If I don’t deal with it, the inflammation will worsen. In some severe cases, oral infection can be fatal if the infection spreads to the brain.
Pain drives me to seek changes. I love eating peanuts, especially when I am reading. Just like eating potato chips, it’s hard to stop. Chewing on a bag of shelled peanuts causes a lot of wear and tear on my teeth. Knowing my teeth are not in good condition, I have been thinking about quitting the habit of eating peanuts every week. Now, I really need to change and I will. My Dietician daughter promised to make me fresh peanut butter using her new electric mixer. Yummy!
Pain helps me to empathize with others who are hurting. I am mere human who are subject to pain, suffering and even death. As a counsellor, many clients come to see me because they have pain: chronic physical pain, emotional pain, or stress-induced ailments. Pain hurts. Next time when I’m with someone who are hurting because of long-term illness, chronic pain, emotional anguish, etc., I can relate to their pain because I’ve been there. My recent agony connects me with other human beings who are in pain.
Pain reminds me to take better care of myself. Pain humbles me to accept my limitations and mortality. Nature has endowed me with gifts, health, relationships, and resources. My responsibility is to take care of my body, belongings, and resources, and to nurture my relationships by treasuring the people around me.
I hope you are living free from pain now.
However, if you are suffering from pain, take action, seek help, and have faith that you will find the appropriate remedy. The pain can be physical, emotional or spiritual. Through enduring and seeking healing from your pain, you will gain deeper perspectives of life that leads to understanding.
My girlfriend was diagnosed with breast cancer and had surgery six years ago. Doctors were satisfied with her treatments and gave her a positive prognosis. Yesterday, my girlfriend spoke to me after dinner. Her teary eyes gave away what she was going to tell me. She just found out that her cancer is back, with full force, spreading to her bones, liver, and lung.
What can one say to comfort a forty-eight-year-old mother and wife?
Words escaped me. But not for long. I committed to lift her up in prayers.
Today, as I reflect on my own mortality, Dr. Paul Wong‘s teaching comes in handy. No matter how unwelcome the subject of “death” is, it is part of the human reality. Dying is part of living. Instead of avoiding the topic, I’ve learned to adopt an attitude of acceptance to my own demise. Knowing the final curtain call is inevitable, why not live each moment fully with intention and vigor?
Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
NO. There is a better approach. Dr. Paul Wong’s Five Pathways to Death Acceptance provides a framework for easing the agony of our final exit. This framework also speak to my strategy for living life to the full. (To learn more about What Makes Life Worth Living, consider joining the Meaning Conference in Vancouver July 24 to 27, 2014) Here is what I’ve learned from Dr. Wong:
I am put to this world to experience humanity, enjoy the abundance that life has to offer, as well as to fulfill my responsibilities. Instead of focusing my energy in seeking merely personal gains, comfort, pleasure, etc., I choose to worship my Creator and strive to fulfill my purpose on this earth by enriching other people’s lives.
Life is a mystery. There are things that cannot be explained to my satisfaction and comprehension. I need to have faith that in the bigger scheme somewhere in the unknown, order exists in spite of apparent chaos, righteousness prevails in spite of seeming injustice. Being human has inherent value. The sanctity of life in each person is a meaningful gift awaiting full exploration.
Imagine going into a deserted house packed with unopened gifts. If I were the owner of the house, I would feel remorse not enjoying those gifts while I lived there. How does it feel like to see a pile of unfinished business at the end of our life journey? The unfinished business can be our unrealized dreams, unaccomplished goals, unspoken ambitions, and under-utilized talents. I made my decision to follow my passion and pursue things that matter to me the most. My action starts today, not tomorrow.
We are relational beings; we have the need to love and be loved. A sense of community, security and connectedness emerges when surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. I treasure those moments. I set aside time, put away distractions, enjoy their presence while with them.
Depending on our belief system, death can mean the end of doom, the pit of nothingness, the rise of avatar, or the beginning of heaven. I believe in heaven where there is no pain, suffering, or sorrow. Death marks the end of my physical existence on earth; my soul lives on. I will be among the angels singing praises day and night, in eternity.
Let’s fast forward to 2050. The ninety-year-old Joyce is lying peacefully in her deathbed. Breathing in and out reviewing every frame of her long memory strip with delight:
She did the best with the gifts that the Creator has generously endowed her with.
She experienced love as a daughter, a sister, a wife, a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother.
She worked in professions that contributed to individual and organizational growth.
She lived her childhood dream and had the opportunity to stitch new dreams and fulfill them one by one.
Now, taking in her last breath, she says goodbye to her loved ones around her, blesses them, and steps gracefully into eternity uniting with her heavenly Father.
Years ago, I envied the life of a travelling trainer. To them, learn, work, fun is all-in-one. I thought that could be the best job in the world. One gets to travel, explore, learn from teaching, and earn money while doing that.
After my un-retirement from my corporate job 15 months ago, I happen to experience the joy of being a travelling speaker/trainer. Invitations start to come in slowly but steadily. This is indeed another dream came true. I may get bored of doing this eventually, but for now, I’m having a blast.
Before showing you today’s pictures, I need to tell you how thankful I feel about my assignment. This is what I’ve learned about living one’s dreams:
For me, I aspire to be an international speaker/trainer. The prospect of visiting places, sharing knowledge, and engaging with an audience brings me pleasure. The picture of a travelling trainer motivates me to keep trying to be one. That has become one of my life goals.
Many people set goals, even plan to make them happen. But, they are not able to reach their goals. There are many reasons. Among the common ones are: lack of action, lack of skills, or they don’t have the expertise to overcome the obstacles of reaching the goals. Get the necessary training, prepare for success, and keep at it. There is no other way.
We can only control our effort, attitude, etc. There are predicaments and circumstances that are out of our control. Sadly, there are times when opportunities do not knock on our doors. But if it does, or when it does, we need to be ready and be fully equipped to respond. Self-doubts, fear of taking risks, fear of the unknown, fear of failure, unwillingness to get away from our comfort zones… are dream busters. Take courage. Dream big. Dare to say “yes”.
Now, enjoy the pictures from day zero of my week-long teaching assignment in Whitehorse, Yukon: