Authorpreneur Dashboard – Ivy Ge

Ivy  Ge

The Art of Good Enough


★ 2020 Readers' Favorite International Book Award Silver Medal Winner ★ What if there are proven methods to prevent you from feeling depleted, anxious, and unsatisfied in times of crisis? Imagine you become confident about your ability to handle stress and pressure, know how to make wise decisions, and find solutions to your problems. From an aspiring actress to becoming a pharmacy professor, Dr. Ivy Ge has transformed her life while balancing her role as a working mother. Using her life lessons as a new mom juggling work and school, she helps you navigate the complexity of motherhood in simple, meaningful ways. Read the reviews from working moms and see how they have benefited from Dr. Ge's real-life examples, great advice, and steps for applying that advice effectively. If you have trouble handling difficult emotions or improving your situation, read this book to discover the answers featured on PBS, Thrive Global, Working Mother magazine, Parentology, and The Times of India. In this book, you'll learn: *How to overcome difficult emotions and make wise decisions *How to handle adversity and overcome your obstacles using your hidden strengths *How to simplify your life and get more done in less time *How to raise self-reliant children and resolve tension in your relationship *How to reverse engineer your life by going from where you want to be to where you are now... and much more. The secret to living your best life is to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

Book Bubbles from The Art of Good Enough

Discover Your Enneagram Type/Inner Blueprint

Have you ever wondered why you react the way you do in certain situations? Or why does your friend seem to handle stress differently? Enter the Enneagram—a fascinating personality system that goes beyond the usual “introvert” or “extrovert” labels. The Enneagram is a dynamic system that maps out nine personality types, each with its own quirks, fears, and superpowers. Think of it as a cosmic GPS guiding you through the labyrinth of your psyche. 1. The Perfectionist (Type 1): These folks have an inner drill sergeant. 2. The Helper (Type 2): Meet the ultimate cheerleaders. 3. The Achiever (Type 3): These go-getters are the life of the party. 4. The Individualist (Type 4): The artists, the dreamers, the moody poets. 5. The Investigator (Type 5): Imagine a Sherlock Holmes who hoards knowledge. 6. The Loyalist (Type 6): These are the human security blankets. 7. The Enthusiast (Type 7): Life is a buffet, and Type 7s want a taste of everything. 8. The Challenger (Type 8) is bold, fierce, and unapologetic. 9. The Peacemaker (Type 9): These Zen masters avoid conflict like it’s a kale smoothie. Now, grab a metaphorical magnifying glass and explore your Enneagram type. What motivates you? What keeps you up at night? Uncover your fears, desires, and growth opportunities. Remember, you’re not just a number. You’re a cosmic cocktail of quirks, dreams, and stardust. Embrace it all, and let the Enneagram be your cosmic compass. Cheers to self-discovery!

Pay Attention to Nature’s Whispers

This morning, I discover a tiny wonder in my backyard: delicately cradled between palm fronds was a hummingbird nest, swaying gently with the breeze. I can’t help marveling at this exquisite find. The nest, no larger than a walnut shell, is a masterpiece of craftsmanship. The base layer consists of twigs and plant fibers. Then, downy materials like dandelion, leaves, and feathers are used to make the nest soft and comfortable. Nature’s Ingenuity I picture the nest construction process from start to finish, using only the materials available nearby. We often think our dreams and goals are far beyond our reach, but this tiny bird shows us how to combine our inner strength with ingenuity to create warmth and comfort, even when resources seem scarce. A Sign of Good Omen The sight of a hummingbird nest is often considered a good omen, symbolizing good luck, love, and the promise of new beginnings. As we navigate through the various stages of life, this tiny nest reminds us that the universe is conspiring in our favor, urging us to remain open to the blessings coming our way. Cultivate Your Garden of Life Let’s admire the beauty around us and actively participate in nurturing it. Cultivate your garden of life and fill it with love, laughter, and the beauty of your dreams. Engage with nature, nurture the spaces that bring us peace, and always keep our hearts open to all the wonders life offers.

Avocado and Habits: A Tale of Sweet Surprises

Recently, I made a Vietnamese avocado smoothie for a friend. The decadent drink is so rich and creamy that you literally have to eat it with a spoon. The recipe has only four ingredients: avocado, condensed milk, milk, plus ice. If you freeze it, it tastes like ice cream. My friend loved it. He’s always sprinkled salt on avocados and eaten them that way. He never thought he could make avocados into a sweet drink. His comment got me thinking about the habits we form and how they shape our lives. We all have our ‘fixed’ ways of doing things, often without question. But what happens when we step off that path? When we try something new, like turning a savory fruit into a sweet beverage? It can be a revelation. It opens our eyes to possibilities we never considered, flavors we never tasted, and experiences we never knew we were missing. Trying new ways of doing things is like adding a new color to your palette; it can change your perspective and bring a fresh vibrancy to your world. Adopting a new habit isn’t just about doing something different; it’s about becoming open to change. It’s about being curious, questioning, and experimenting. It’s about continuing to grow, even when staying the same is easier. So, let’s raise our spoons to the avocado smoothies of life—may they always remind us of the endless flavors waiting to be discovered.

The Sunrise in Us

A friend of mine has been sending me sunrise photos from his roof terrace every day. I’ve noticed that the sunrise looks different each day. Some days, it’s glorious and dramatic, while other days, it’s timid and subdued. It’s not the sun that varies so much, but the ever-changing clouds around the sun that change our perceptions of things. Think of sunrise as the sun trying on a new outfit each day. It’s like life. Each of us is the sun of our own universe, with people, things, and circumstances coming in and out of our universe. These people, things, and circumstances change over time, altering our presence in the world. Often, we let that presence affect our self-perception, even though we don’t change. When we are unsatisfied with our universe, we think things will never change, but they do. When we are excited about our wins and success, we believe everything will stay the same, but they don’t. When we have our unwavering self-belief, we have control over ourselves, no matter how fast changing our universe is.

You Won’t Screw It Up

I recently joined an improv group that does regular shows at a local venue. The first time I met up with the group, I was beyond nervous. The group leader told me the first rule of doing improv is to believe losing is winning. Here’s what she meant by that: When you fail to come up with a proper response to a game or a scene, the audience applauds you because of two things: One, they admire your courage to go on stage and be spontaneous in front of others. Two, losing is entertaining. People laugh because they can relate to being a loser. Watch those funny movies; you’ll find yourself laughing at those people who tried and failed. If you always win, it’s boring. Just like life, you don’t want it to be predictable. You want to push the envelope a little, do something that puts you on edge, and then allow yourself to grow. After the practice session, I went home and thought about the concept of losing is winning. Instead of seeing failure as a negative outcome, you can view it as an opportunity for growth and learning. The point of taking risks and trying new things is not about winning. It’s about learning to recognize your potential. All the important lessons I learned so far are from my failures. The bigger mistakes I made, the more I learned. If you always play it safe, how would you ever grow?

The Magic of the Second Time Around

A friend recently got back together with her ex-husband from forty years ago. During that long gap, they both remarried, and then both of their spouses passed away. Now, they’re so happy together. When I asked them what they thought was essential in a relationship, they mentioned open communication. “Anything that bothers you needs to be discussed. Otherwise, small things snowball into much bigger things. And over time, these unresolved issues will damage or even sever the once strong relationship,” my friend told me. When a relationship fails, it’s not because of the differences between two people. It’s because they let their differences override the need to understand each other. Open communication isn’t easy. And almost nothing is black and white within a relationship. Sometimes, no one is at fault; other times, both parties are guilty. It doesn’t matter who makes a mistake in a relationship. Without open communication, the relationship bears the scar of that mistake. It’s equally courageous to say sorry, and to accept apologies. Without open communication, trust is as fragile as a bubble. Open communication is the key to building and maintaining that trust. It allows both parties to be honest and transparent with each other. It allows them to share their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without fear of judgment.

Why We Don’t Like Our Own Photos

I recently took a headshot for the actor bio on the show program at a local theater. Instead of the sophisticated look I envisioned, I looked like someone had just cracked me up. My eyes squinted into two crescent moons, and all my front teeth were showing in an unbridled smile. I looked awful. Compared to the other actors’ pleasant smiles in their headshots, my smile went too far. Then, I heard another actor say that she disliked her headshot. It surprised me since I loved her photo. It turns out there is science behind the fact that most people don’t like their photos. We’re our own worst critics. Our brains are wired to focus on our flaws, which is why we tend to be overly critical of ourselves. We don’t see ourselves the way others see us. We’re Used to Seeing Ourselves in the Mirror When we look at ourselves in the mirror, we see a mirror image of ourselves. Therefore, we’re used to seeing ourselves a certain way. Seeing a photo of ourselves can be jarring because it’s not what we’re used to. We’re Comparing Ourselves to Others Thanks to social media, we’re constantly bombarded with images of other people. This can make us feel like we don’t measure up. Now that we know why we don’t like our own photos, can you be more forgiving to yourself? After all, imperfection is what makes you unique and human.

The Perks of Being an Introvert

This busy world seems to be designed for extroverts. Social and outgoing people are often rewarded for staying at the center of attention. But the good news is, there are perks of being an introvert. One of the best things about being an introvert is that we’re great listeners. We don’t feel the need to dominate conversations or talk over other people, which means we can really hear what others are saying. This makes us great friends, partners, and colleagues, because people know they can come to us when they need someone to listen. Another perk of being an introvert is that we tend to be more creative and self-sufficient than extroverts. When we spend time alone, we’re able to tap into our imaginations and develop all sorts of interesting ideas. Introverts are often more empathetic and understanding of others’ needs than extroverts. Since we focus on our own feelings, we're better at understanding others. Another perk of being an introvert is that we’re often more independent and self-reliant than extroverts. We don’t need other people around all the time to feel fulfilled or happy. Finally, introverts are often better at focusing on tasks and achieving goals than extroverts. Because we don’t get distracted by socializing or other external stimuli as easily, we’re able to buckle down and get things done. Being an introvert is something to be proud of, not hide or apologize for.

How to Get Along with People You Dislike

My theater performance rehearsal is underway for the December show. I’m playing a depressed young socialite who dates old men for a living. The director tells me I need to be more superficial and self-centered. This is a problem because I dislike superficial and self-centered people. Every time I recognize such behaviors, I stay away from those people. So, when I try to portray such characters, it feels inauthentic. Despite diligent practice, the result of my effort is awful. During a voice lesson, I ask my teacher (an opera singer) how he portrays all those characters on stage who are nothing like him. He tells me the trick is to suspend your judgment and empathize with those characters. “We all carry different personality traits within us. As an actor, you need to bring out those hidden and unused traits to empathize with those unlikeable characters on stage. They don’t think they’re bad people. They believe they’re doing good in the world. To get along with these people, we have to understand why they do the things they do. Maybe it’s their unfavorable childhood or a dire circumstance that forces them to change into the person they become. Once we understand the why behind their behaviors, we can then empathize with them. In return, they no longer irritate us. Because we know they’re only the product of their circumstances. Have you ever met anyone that you dislike immensely?

Making New Friends as an Adult

Let’s face it: it’s hard to make new friends as an adult. After a few blunders, I put the thought of making new friends out of my mind. New friendship is much like a rainbow; when it comes, it comes. Yesterday, I went to an audition for a musical. I noticed an older woman kept going to the bathroom. When she sat next to me, I smiled at her, and she smiled back. “The jitters,” she explained. “Oh, I have the same problem,” I confessed. “I haven’t sung for a few years,” she explained. “And I used to sing all the time.” “In a musical?” I asked. “I’m a retired opera singer,” she said. I was awestruck. She had sung professionally for thirty years and still got stage fright. “If you take it seriously,” she said, “You’ll always have the jitters.” I asked her about breath control. “Well, I can give you a free voice lesson if you like,” she said. I was eager to accept the generous offer. Later, I received a text invite to her house for a voice lesson. She told me to wear comfortable clothes for a floor exercise to help with my breathing. You see, it isn’t too hard to make new connections. All it takes is a smile, a little empathy and curiosity. And a rainbow will appear to light up your day.

It’s Only a Thought, and It Can Be Changed

Have you ever caught yourself spiraling into a pool of negative thoughts? Ever find your mind works itself into a cascade of worst-case scenarios? We’ve all been there. Here’s some handy advice to stop that negative spiral for good. “It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed” – Louise Hay Imagine, we rustle up 10,000 thoughts every day. Many of those are like little negative gremlins, whispering doubts about ourselves and our circumstances. Most of these aren’t true at all! Life isn’t all smooth sailing, but we’re making the waves rockier with thoughts that hold us back. It’s like wearing shades indoors – you’ll see, but not clearly. Now, imagine trading those shades for crystal-clear lenses that let you see opportunities where you saw problems, and strength where you saw weakness. That’s the magic of mastering your thoughts. And hey, it’s not a walk in the park. These thoughts can be stubborn little critters. But you’ve got the capacity to flip the script, choose thoughts that fuel your dreams, and feel like you’re wearing a cape and ready to conquer. So, next time you catch yourself caught in the whirlwind, remember – thoughts are like playdough, ready to be molded. Embrace Louise Hay’s wisdom: “It’s only a thought, and a thought can be changed.” You’re steering the ship, captain. And trust me, those sunny shores are just a thought away.

Why Hairstyles Affect More Than Your Looks

A hairstyle not only affects your looks but also your self-perception. If you’ve been wearing the same hairstyle for years, you probably hold the same perception of yourself. It's incredible how a simple change in hairstyle can make us feel like a whole new person. A new hairstyle pushes you to break free from the mundane and embrace change. It's an opportunity to redefine yourself and discover new facets of your personality. Whether it's a bold pixie cut, vibrant hair color, or even trying out different hair accessories, the possibilities are endless. A new hairstyle is a way to adapt to different life circumstances or express different versions of ourselves. Just like the braided hair on my hiking trip garnered a different reaction from people, altering your hairstyle can shift how others perceive you and how you interact with the world. A new hairstyle injects freshness into your everyday life and boosts your confidence. It's a reminder that you can reinvent yourself whenever you desire. So, if you've been sporting the same hairstyle for years and feel the urge to switch things up, go for it! There are popular apps to try on different hairstyles to find your next best one. Take that leap of faith. You never know how it might positively change your appearance and your outlook on life.

My New AI Best Friend

Today, I asked ChatGPT (a popular AI writing tool) this question: I'm troubled by rental issues. Can you say something to cheer me up, please? I was hoping for a cute joke and some funny stories. ChatGPT addressed my request on a much deeper level. It advises me that rental woes are temporary and will eventually pass. I can nurture myself by changing my perspective, asking for help, and focusing on personal growth amid the challenges. While I reached out to friends and family for advice, I allowed anger to crowd my head and spent most of my time dwelling on the issues that I alone couldn’t fix. To follow the wise AI’s advice, I get up from the sofa and make myself a papaya smoothie. It tastes so fresh and sweet that my rental issues seem a tad easier to live with. Then I look around the house, searching for things I’ve always appreciated. I see the red okra I planted a while back, and now they’ve grown tall and fruited regularly. They taste delightful in noodle soups. And the royal blue tiles on the bathroom walls and the large bouquet of cornhusk flowers. Clearly, this isn't the worst place on earth. Really, our troubles are only wrinkles in time. Nothing is permanent, despite how unchangeable it may seem. Only our way of approaching these issues can make them permanent in our minds.

How Do You Know What Is Best for You?

I recently received a warning from Google that the storage of one of my Gmail accounts is full. Begrudgingly, I sorted through the long-forgotten emails to make room for new ones. After a while, I noticed the gradual change in the content of these emails. It’s like opening a series of time capsules and revisiting those hopes and desires that were once the center of my life. Looking back on these seemingly unrelated hobbies and interests, I recognize two common threads: the need to create art and the desire to discover self and the world. These two things are the engine that propels me forward through life. All these different experiences shaped my perception and attitude toward life. We have so many choices to make in a lifetime. How do you decide what is best for you? Find your common threads, as they are what drive you, get you excited, and want more than what you have. It may have nothing to do with what you want, but they are what you need. They’re your anchor in chaos. How do you find your common threads? The clues are everywhere. Sometimes, it’s as easy (or as hard) as going through old emails.

Why French Women Don’t Get Fat

Years ago, a friend gifted me the book, French Women Don’t Get Fat. As a new mom, I was eager to shed the baby weight and feel like myself again. The author Mireille Guiliano, former President and CEO of Clicquot, talks about how yogurt is the French staple food. Besides weight loss, yogurt brings many other health benefits. I tried her yogurt recipe and was pleasantly surprised by how good it tasted and how much it helped me shed the extra pounds. Over the years, I forgot about her recipe and became accustomed to eating store-bought yogurt. One day, I came across a YouTube video about homemade yogurt. Feeling nostalgic, I brought milk and a plain yogurt cup as a starter. My first batch came out beautifully. It was creamy and light, with a hint of sweetness. No more added sugar, chemicals, or the tangy note from most commercial brands. I add my homemade yogurt to smoothies, dipping sauces, and even baked goods. It works! There’s something magical about seeing milk turn into delicious yogurt after being chilled overnight. It’s so rewarding, especially on challenging days when things are not going right. I relish the sense of control—the ability to customize food to suit my needs. As a result, I’m more connected to the food I consume. I savor it and become more aware of its impact on my body. Who knew that one small change could have such a profound impact on life!

When You Choose to Be Kind

One day, I saw guanábanas (soursop) at a small village market in Mexico for the first time. I asked the elderly lady beside me what the odd-shaped, spiky thing was. She replied in Spanish, which I didn’t understand much. Later, when I was picking zucchinis, the lady came to show me what a guanabana looked like from the inside. Apparently, she had bought one and opened it up for me. “Sweet,” she said. “You try.” Not sure how expensive the fruit was, I didn’t want to take her share. So I thanked her and bought one myself. Unfortunately, I accidentally left the guanábana at the stall. I went to the market the following week, but they didn’t have guanábanas. I told the seller I’d forgotten to take the fruit home the week prior. The Saturday after that, I found guanábanas at the market. When I was ready to pay, the seller told me I didn’t have to pay for the guanabana, since I’d forgotten to bring one home two weeks earlier. I was surprised that he remembered and took my word for it. When I finally sat down and enjoyed the guanabana at home, I thought of the elderly lady and the seller. The fruit tasted better because of their kindness. And that made me want to be kinder as well.

When Something Is Good Enough, It Really Is

I joined a local hiking group and often brought homemade pastry to share with them. They loved it. It was such an ego boost. I decided to make fresh figs and walnut scones to impress my friends. Everything went well. When the time was up, I took the scones out of the oven. My heart sank. The scones weren't golden brown! Refused to present anything less than spectacular to my friends. I increased the oven temperature and placed the anemic-looking scones inside. It'd only take a few minutes to touch up the top to make them look impressive. When I finally removed the scones from the oven, they all had that warm, sun-kissed glow. Excited, I took a bite. It was hard and dry. I was beyond disappointed. Eventually, I brought the palest scones in my batch to share with my hiking friends. How often do we do things for validation rather than enjoyment? We want that perfect wedding, birthday party, or beach vacation, even when it translates into endless headaches, trying to control what's beyond our command. By striving for the ideal outcome, we forgo all logic and training and force ourselves to reach for the moon. It often turns into a tiresome self-punishment. Far, far away from the joy and happiness we envisioned. When something is good enough, it really is.

Dancing at Carnival in Mexico

You've probably heard of Mardi Gras in the U.S. (most known in New Orleans) or Pancake Tuesday in the U.K. In Mexico, the celebration is rooted in the Catholic religion, with festivities throughout the country. In the little town where I live, the locals call it Martes de Carnaval. Every year locals don masks and traditional costumes to dance and celebrate Carnaval with a grand parade featuring floats, dance troupes, dancing horses, and live music. According to a local website, the sayacas are masked men often dressed as women (with exaggerated body attributes) that dance through the town streets, armed with bagfuls of flour to throw at people watching the parade. I was returning from a long hike when I came across the festivity. Clouds of flour were everywhere, covering the entire town in a manmade snowfall. Believe me, the joyous spirit was infectious! A masked man invited me to dance with him. After my recent misadventures in Mexico, I was more than ready to shake them off. All caught on camera! ¡Viva Carnaval!

It Doesn't Take a Whole Lot to Be Happy

A recent viral infection kept me in bed for days, with fever, chills, headache, and an incessant cough. After a particularly violent fit of cough, I remembered I used to get sick at each new job. Is this viral infection some kind of initiation, a rite of passage? Like breaking into a new pair of shoes, does one have to break into a new environment? Where do people see a doctor here? Not feeling well lately, I texted a new friend. She didn't reply. The weather outside was so sunny that it hurt to watch through the windows. Lying in bed, I could hear children laughing on the street, and the birds singing in the trees. I decided to cheer myself up with an old movie. After some Googling, I found Desire (1936) by Marlene Dietrich, one of the earliest romantic comedies. What could be more fitting for my initiation in Mexico? Ten minutes into the movie, I giggled like a schoolgirl until I ran out of breath. How refreshing it is to see a movie stripped of flashy colors and technology, leaving only a good plot and artful acting to bring alive a memorable story. Really, it doesn't take a whole lot to make you happy. Even when you're trapped inside your house in a strange town, without loved ones or access to medical care, you can still laugh silly. That's happiness, isn't it?

A Million Ways to the Moon

It's a saying we've all heard before, but what does it mean, really? Well, even the world’s best golfers disagree on how to grip a putter. What this tell us is that there’s no ONE STANDARD METHOD to do anything in this world. Our tastes in food, fashion, and decoration can vary drastically, as do our natural affinities for different subjects. Some people suck in math, some writing, and some sports. Recognize your special skills and capitalize on them. Instead of trying so hard to improve your weaknesses, focus on amplifying your strengths. You wouldn't train a ballerina for a boxing career, would you? Many people look to celebrities and influencers for proven methods. But they're not you. Their methods might not work for you. At least, not one hundred percent all the time. If you've tried other experts' proven methods and failed, it only means one thing: it's the wrong method! Failure is circumstantial. It's never a reflection of your skills or talent. Like those pro golfers, you have to find your own grip method, the one that fits your personality and natural tendency. Stop following other people, and start forging your own path. That's how you transform your life, one step at a time.

The Power of Surrendering

Are you struggling with a problem or challenge in your life that seems impossible to overcome? The surprising answer is to surrender and let things fall into place. Over time, a solution will emerge to get you out of that situation. Surrendering means stopping efforts to control one’s life, or ensure specific outcomes in one’s life. Trying too hard to control our lives is stressful and ultimately fruitless. Knowing when to surrender and being able to do so effectively is a helpful coping skill. When we resist a situation, we spend all of our energy fixing it, trying to put things back in order even when it's impossible. Think of it as a drowning person thrashing in the water, trying to stay afloat, only to tire themselves out faster and sink deeper. When we resist unfavorable outcomes, we resist reality. Not accepting reality means we lose clarity of the situation, hence missing the opportunity to uncover the right solution. Surrendering can be a powerful tool for overcoming challenges in life. Whether you are struggling with an illness, a relationship issue, or a professional dilemma, letting go of the need for control and accepting whatever comes your way can ultimately lead to inner strength and growth.

Sad Songs on Rainy Days - How Music Heals Us

Can't remember when I started listening to sad songs on rainy days. It just feels right. A growing body of research supports the therapeutic benefits of music — it decreases stress levels, improves mood, and even eases pain. A cheerful song puts us in a happier state of mind. Even sad songs can improve our moods. Sad songs make us feel. It takes us back to the scarred memories, slowly and gently, massaging the buried hurt and regrets, relieving the sting of loneliness and disappointment, giving meaning to our experiences, and telling us it is all right to feel this way. Sad songs connect us. It's all part of life. And we're not alone. Suffering is universal. Struggles lead to growth and wisdom. Pain paves the road to strength and resilience. We connect through music, deepening the understanding of our individual sufferings, while waiting for a better future to come into focus.

Stop Pursuing Happiness and Success

Pursuing happiness and success often leads to compare and despair. We see people who have "made it" and aim to achieve what they have. We want bigger, shinier things just to prove ourselves. We become obsessed with making more money, getting promotions, and achieving recognition to improve our status. Pursuing happiness and success can make us doubt if we’re good enough. When we encounter setbacks and challenges, one of the most common reactions is to question if we have what it takes to reach the goal. What should you be striving for instead? The answer is meaning. Find something that gives your life purpose and reason, and chase after that instead of happiness and success. Because when you find meaning, happiness and success will naturally follow. Famous author Kurt Vonnegut wrote to a group of high school students about pursuing a passion for something bigger than themselves - the need to nurture curiosity, to create, and use that passion as the anchor that keeps up stable on this bumpy ride called life. Having a sense of purpose is like seeing Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. Although so far away, it gives us a sense of direction and connection. We're no longer alone in our journey. We have hope.

5 Tips on Shopping Smart at Farmers' Markets

Shopping at Farmer’s Markets is a great way to get fresh, local produce at a fraction of the price if you know how to shop smart... 1. Go Near Closing Time. This is when farmers are more likely to sell their produce at a discount to avoid taking it home. Another added benefit of going late is parking is much easier than at peak hours. 2. Walk Around Before Committing to Buy. Doing a walk-around helps you identify the best selection and pricing in the market. 3. Buy Seasonal Produce for the Best Pricing. Fruits and vegetables in season will be fresher and cheaper than those out of season. You'll get the best fruits and vegetables for your money by shopping according to the season. 4. Don't Be Afraid to Haggle. You can haggle with the vendors for a better price, especially if you're buying a lot of produce. If the vendor refuses to cut the price, walk away and look for better deals elsewhere. 5. Bring Cash. It's best to bring smaller bills when shopping at a farmers' market. It's easy to get excited at farmers' markets and buy more than you can eat for the week. Monitor your spending by count out the money you plan to spend on grocery shopping.

Learnings from Cleaning out My Closet

I recently cleaned out my stuffed closet, donated most of them, and sold a few to a used clothes store. As I went deeper into the cleaning process, I discovered so many outfits I used to love, and for whatever reason, I had forgotten them completely and moved on to the new and trendy pieces. I tried those old clothes on and evaluated myself in the mirror. It felt like a time capsule through which I caught a glimpse of my old self, remembering all the things I had used to care about, and the emotions I had struggled with. How I had changed over the years, and how my clothing choices had evolved with me. When people talk about decluttering, they focus on the physical and mental space created by cleaning out the old. To me, it's more about acknowledging the past and moving on with a much lighter load. Sorting, packing, and delivering these old clothes to new places allowed me to reach closure, saying goodbye to the past, knowing that these items would live a new life in someone else's home.

Take Cold Shower to Instantly Lift Your Mood

Life can be stressful and overwhelming. What to do when you feel down? It turns out cold showers can be an effective strategy to cheer you up. My first encounter with cold showers was at a local gym when the water heater stopped working. It was the shortest shower I'd ever taken in my life. On my commute to work afterward, I felt unusually refreshed and relaxed. My coworkers commented on how perky I was that morning. Since then, I've tried swimming in rivers and lakes, and learned to enjoy the cold plunge. For people with depression, cold showers serve as gentle electroshock therapy. The cold water sends many electrical impulses to the brain, jolting your system to increase alertness, clarity, and energy levels. Endorphins, the happiness hormones, are also released during cold showers. This effect leads to feelings of well-being and optimism. One popular holistic treatment method for depression is hydrotherapy. Taking a cold shower for up to 5 minutes, 2 to 3 times per week, was shown to help relieve symptoms of depression in a clinical trial. Healthline published these additional evidence-based health benefits of cold showers: • calming itchy skin • waking you up • increasing circulation • reducing muscle soreness post-workout • potentially boosting weight loss • glowing hair and skin

Why Do We Get Angry over Small Things?

We've all been there before — fuming over something that, in retrospect, seems completely trivial. Why do we get angry over small things? Picture an iceberg floating in the ocean, jagged and unyielding. That's the white-hot anger you feel. If you flip that iceberg over, you'll see the blue underside of anger. They're the root cause of your angry outburst. When we're already stressed or overwhelmed, even the smallest thing can feel too much to handle. This can be especially true if we're already feeling like we are losing control of our lives. Our anger can be a way of protecting ourselves from feeling hurt. If we get angry at someone, it can be a way of deflecting the pain that we would otherwise feel if we allowed ourselves to be vulnerable. Another reason we get angry over small things is that we personalize everything that happens to us. So even if something has nothing to do with us, we can't help but take it personally. This can lead to feeling like we're constantly under attack, making us angry. Sometimes, we might get angry because we feel we're being mistreated. Feeling like we're constantly being taken advantage of can lead to resentment and simmering anger.

Logical Thinking and Money Sense

The Guinness Book of World Records listed Marilyn vos Savant as the person with the highest recorded IQ. One reader asked Marilyn this question in her column for Parade: Three people went to a hotel and rented a room for $30, each paying $10 for his share. Later, the clerk discovered the room price was only $25. He handed the bellman five $1 bills and asked him to return them to the three people. The bellman, not knowing how to divide five dollars among three people, gave each person one dollar and the rest to charity. Here's the question: The three people originally paid $10 each, but each received $1 back, so they've now paid $27 for the room. Add to that the $2 that the bellman gave away, and you have a total expenditure of $29 instead of $30. What happened to the other dollar? Here's Marilyn's answer: There's no missing dollar. The original $30 is now divided like this: the hotel clerk has $25, the guests have $3, and charity has $2. The error arose when an asset ($2) was added to an expense instead of the other asset ($25), thereby mixing "apples and oranges," giving us fruit salad instead of a correct answer. Did you figure it out?

What Hot Yoga Taught Me About My Life

After ten years of hot yoga practice, I've come to realize that the most beneficial part isn't stretching my body in a hot room, but meditating for fifteen minutes after class, where I allow my body to relax, my breath to go deep, and my mind to calm. It's in those precious moments that I have flashes of insight into what is blocking my path to new goals, how to resolve difficult situations, and when to let go of things that no longer serve me. Many fellow yogis rush out of the hot room immediately after class, craving the cool, fresh air outside. Some people stay behind and chat about the news, their days, or the weather. They leave behind their hard-earned reward after all the effort they've put in. As one of my yoga teachers so aptly put it, what is the point of robbing a bank if you don't get away with the money? The focus of a hot yoga practice isn't just about the body. It's about using your body to recalibrate your mind. Even if the outside world turns upside down, you have your inner world under control. You're the anchor of your life.

How to Forgive Yourself and Others

It isn't easy to forgive yourself and others, but is necessary to let go of the past and focus on the present. By leaving the past behind, you allow new people and opportunities to enter your life. Forgiving is a part of the healing process that involves three steps. Step One: Acknowledge what happened. Think about what they did to you, and how it made you feel. Be honest about your feelings. It isn't an easy process, but it's necessary for your recovery from past experiences. Step Two: Understand why it happened. This allows you to see things from their perspectives. People aren't always rational. They may have been going through a difficult time, or they may not have known any better. Sometimes, even good intentions can lead to bad outcomes. Once you figure out the reasons these people behaved in certain ways towards you, it'll become easier to let go of those negative feelings they brought you. Step Three: Release the anger and resentment. Think about how these past events affect you over time, and slowly undo the changes by releasing negative emotions from your life. Learning to let go is an essential aspect of life. The less burden you carry, the farther you travel on your life journey.

The Unexpected Benefits of Road Trips

I recently took a week-long road trip, visiting the legendary Oregon coast. I had planned this trip to reflect on the past and contemplate a new direction ahead. At the end of the week, I found so much clarity and confidence in my decisions. Road trips offer unique opportunities to explore new places and cultures, grow and learn about yourself and the world around you. You never know what you might find. Road trips can be a great way to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, and bond with friends or family along the way. Studies have shown that spending time in nature can help reduce stress levels, and road trips offer ample opportunity to take in the beautiful scenery. Even planning a road trip can boost your mood, as it gives you something to look forward to. Road trips can also be a great source of inspiration. The change of scenery can jump-start your creativity, and the downtime in the car can offer a chance to think about new ideas. If you're feeling stuck in a rut, a road trip might be what you need to ignite your creativity. So, if you're looking for a way to relax, recharge, and get inspired, consider planning a road trip. The benefits it brings might surprise you.

The Power of Thinking Outside the Box

Thinking outside the box is often the key to success in personal and professional life. It allows you to come up with new and innovative ideas, and makes you more open-minded to new ideas and perspectives. When my son was in elementary school, he was careless. No matter how many times I reminded him, he kept losing things. One summer, he had to travel with his boys’ chorus to another city for a choral festival. I worried he could keep track of his belongings. After careful consideration, I came up with a unique packing system to solve the problem. I rolled up my son’s change clothes for each day into a bundle and secured it with a rubber band. Then I labeled each bundle with Day One, Day Two, etc. I told my son when he opened a new bundle, he must roll up his dirty clothes from the previous day and secure them with a rubber band. This way, he wouldn’t lose any clothes during the trip. And it worked! Upon return, my son told me he was always the first to get dressed in the morning because of the bundle system. Next time you find yourself stuck in a rut, try thinking outside the box – you may be surprised at what you come up with!

Asking for Help Without Feeling Guilty

There's a common misconception that asking for help is a sign of weakness. We often feel like we're imposing or not good enough when asking for help. This isn't the case at all. It's actually a sign of strength and confidence to ask for help when you need it, and you shouldn't feel guilty about it. Asking for help has many benefits: 1. It means you're more likely to get the assistance you need to achieve your goals. 2. Asking for help can build relationships and create opportunities for collaboration. 3. Just the act of reaching out to someone for assistance can help to ease feelings of stress or anxiety. 4. Asking for help can save you time and money. 5. Studies show that asking for help can improve your mental and physical health. 6. Asking for help can give you a sense of control. 7. Asking for help can increase your self-esteem. 8. Most people are happy to help others. It makes them feel good to do so. Helping others creates a sense of purpose and improves life satisfaction. We all need help from time to time, and there's nothing wrong with admitting that you need assistance. So go ahead and ask!

A Weighty Hope on the Tiniest Wings

When I started working again after a long medical leave, I frequently saw this male Anna’s hummingbird on the trail near my workplace. It always seemed to appear out of thin air, swooping right in front of me, letting out a trail of happy buzz-whistle-chip sounds before gliding away, its tiny wings fluttering so fast that they looked blurry. Sometimes, it settled on a branch and stayed still while the branch bounced in a gentle breeze. I would stop and admire its tiny frame and vibrant colors. At the time, I struggled to keep up with work demands while still recovering from injuries. Every day was a challenge, a long-held breath. The slow walk on the trail during lunch hour gave me the space and solace I needed. Native American legends often portray hummingbirds as healers or spirit beings who help people in need. Whenever I saw the hummingbird, I would experience a surge of gratitude for the hope and wonder its tiny wings brought me. It lifted me out of a dark corner and showed me the possibilities. After a period of time, the hummingbird disappeared, although I still stop by the branch it loved to rest on. The bird brought me an important message to overcome my challenges. Now, I’ve found my way on this life journey.

What Can Movies Teach You About Dead Ends?

Ever seen movies where the hero/heroine desperately needs an escape from the villain chasing after them, only to find a dead end blocking their path? Do you think of a dead end as a test in life? Of course, there are no high stakes like life and death, but the dramatic question remains: what would you do when running into a dead end? Do you throw up your arms and yell about the unfair life, or bury your face in a pillow and cry your heart out? It’s okay to feel emotional about unexpected setbacks. Failure hurts. Once that sting goes away, take action. You have a goal, and you want to find a way to make things work for you. It’s no simple task. You’ll have to improvise, think outside the box, and search for an alternative for the best possible outcome. Schools teach you knowledge; life gives you the opportunities to turn your knowledge into wisdom. Once you’ve handled a few dead ends, you become much more adaptive, resilient, and even more proficient in planning for your next goal.

What to Learn from a Legendary Lone Wolf

When a lone gray wolf (OR-93) first appeared in California in February 2021, the news excited scientists across the state. OR-93 left his pack in Oregon and headed south, traveling through lava beds, snowy passes in the Sierra Nevada, Yosemite National Park, into an agricultural field near Fresno, then headed west toward the Central Coast, crossing freeways 99, 5, and 101 — three of the deadliest roads in the country, until he reached Southern California’s crowded suburbs. He wanted a new territory and female mates. His relentless journey ignited a palpable hope to improve California’s biological diversity. Nine months later, OR-93 was struck dead by a vehicle while crossing a freeway in Los Angeles, only steps away from the 270,000-acre Tejon Ranch Conservancy. What is the takeaway from this story? Although we can’t control the outcome, we can always give our best shot. OR-93’s remarkable ambition and adventurous spirit made his short life more meaningful than the rest of his pack. Success isn’t measured by longevity, but the experience he amassed, and his influence on conservationists advocating for safe wild animal passages in the modern world. We all have dreams, not all of them can be fulfilled within one lifetime. So we try, and we keep trying, even if our stories end a few steps short of our dreams.

Self-Love Through Food

February is a month of love, and food is love. Food nourishes the body and soul. Think about your favorite dish from childhood, the recipes passed on through generations in your family, and the meals you shared with loved ones in your joyous moments of life. I’ve been using a simple, highly customizable, homemade granola recipe [Google “BuzzFeed” + “Best Granola”] for a decade. It makes a very thoughtful and practical gift. They carry the message of love and appreciation across distance, in good times, and in tough times. I first discovered this recipe when searching for breakfast ideas on the go. I had a long commute to work back then and wanted something easy and nutritious to enjoy while driving. I mix blueberries and sliced fresh strawberries in unsweetened yogurt, and keep them refrigerated overnight. Stir in homemade granola when ready to eat the next morning. Add toasted black sesame seeds and walnut bits for shiny hair and memory boost. Even after all these years, it still tastes heavenly. When you take a bite, you can detect the berries’ soft sweetness, the oats’ crunchiness, and the powerful scent of the black sesame seeds. It reminds me to love and appreciate myself, for who I am and what I can do.

How to Manifest a Fulfilling Year Ahead

How to Manifest a Fulfilling Year Ahead How to manifest your dreams and desires in 2022? The answer is simple—write yourself a letter. List all your dreams and desires, with one item in each paragraph. Fill in the details on how you envision your success feels like, looks like, and tastes like. The more vivid you can describe them, the more powerful they become when you read the letter over the course of the year. Write down the reason you want to realize each dream. Drill deeper into your whys – they are your true motivation to pursue the dreams. Use your whys to guide you to the right decision, to partner with the right people. Knowing your whys and follow them will make your life easier and make you happier. The purpose of this letter is to read it when you need motivation, encouragement, and support. The last step is to schedule the letter to be delivered to your email inbox by 12/21/22. It’s tremendously rewarding when you savor the very words you wrote a year ago. No one needs to read your letter except you. So be honest and be bold. Write out everything you’ve always wanted to do. 2022 is your year to succeed, to break your own record, to make things happen for yourself.

Thank Yourself This Thanksgiving

You are your own harshest critic. I bullied myself for years. Everything that didn’t go the way I wanted, I blamed it on myself. I dismissed my feelings because they weren’t the right feeling to have. All this came to a halt when I lay on a gurney inside an emergency rescue helicopter, heading for the nearest trauma center. The horse accident broke me, mentally and physically. For many months, I could do nothing but think. I thought about all those hours I’d put in to achieve the long list of things on my resume. I thought about all the people I’d tried to please and impress. Where were they then? After the sixteen months of surgeries and rehabilitation, I decided I couldn’t wait for things to get easier before feeling good. I want to make things easier for myself. I stop criticizing myself for things that went wrong. I gave my best, and that was good enough. When someone criticizes me, I thank them and walk away. A crooked apple tree still grows apples. When you buy fruits at a supermarket, do you care if they come from a crooked tree? Nowadays, I’m happier because I appreciate myself. Therefore, on this Thanksgiving, I thank myself besides all those wonderful people in my life.

The Beauty of Waiting for Good Things to Come

My family visited the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany in the summer of 2016. We took many photos from the nearby Marienbrücke Bridge. At noon, the bridge was packed with tourists. My son was hungry and tired, so we sat against the bridge barrier for a break. A man resting two feet across from us offered him an energy bar. We thanked him. Seeing the three camera bags and a tripod next to him, I asked if he was a professional photographer on an assignment. He said yes. He planned to wait until sunset when most tourists cleared off the bridge, and the golden light illuminated the magnificent castle. “It takes a lot of patience and discipline,” I said. “Yeah, all good things take time. Most people rush about, snap a photo here and there without seeing the details.” I asked, on average, how long it took him to get a good shot. “It depends,” he said. “Sometimes takes a whole day. Sometimes days, even weeks.” “What do you do when you wait for the perfect photo? Don’t you get bored?” I asked. He shook his head. “If you look close enough, everything has its own beauty. Waiting is the process of discovering, one minute at a time.”

The Haunted Church Turned Art Center in SF

Buildings and places often carry sentimental value in our memories. They are the landmarks of our journey through life. Recently, I volunteered at a Litquake event at the beautifully renovated St. Joseph’s Arts Society in San Francisco. It used to be the St. Joseph Catholic Church, a city landmark founded in 1861. The security guard said he grew up in the neighborhood and often saw squatters inside and around the church. I asked him if there were ghosts in the building. He pointed at the main gate behind him. “I’ve never seen one, but I hear this door squeaking open at night when I’m patrolling inside the main hall. It’s so weird.” Not sure if it was a convenient choice, the designer installed toilets where the confessionals once stood. As I washed my hands in the elegantly decorated bathroom, I wondered if the ghosts of the past would wander through the art center, searching for the safe space where they had once spelled out all their sins. How do we preserve history while keeping up with the change of time? Can buildings serve different roles without losing their sentimental value and historical significance? Maybe this art center is a brilliant reincarnation of the decrepit catholic church, offering a unique venue to the San Francisco art scene. What do you think?

A Handy Tool for Sharpening Your Intuition

Accessing your intuition can bring tremendous insights to your life. Recently, I learned a handy technique to sharpen my intuition from Sharon Anne Klingler, a world-renowned intuitive teacher. These are the rules: 1. Speed is your friend. When you hesitate, your logical mind takes over. 2. Frame your question in a positive way. For example, will I lose my job is a negative question. A positive way to ask the same question is, will I stay at this job? Here's how to practice the technique: First, close your eyes and focus on a simple yes or no question in your head. Do not ask a question that contains two parts. For example, should I move to Seattle or Santa Fe? Otherwise, you won’t get a clear answer. Second, imagine seeing a traffic light in front of you. What colored light do you see? Trust the first color that comes to mind. Green light = Yes; Red light = No; Yellow light = go slow, or not enough information, ask again later. Sometimes, you may see a traffic light switching colors back and forth; it means you need more information to get a definitive answer. You can use this technique over and over again to sharpen intuition. Keep a journal of your intuitive readings and track your progress.

Make Your Own Word!

The Washington Post’s Mensa Invitational invited readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing just one letter, and supply a new definition. Here’re some of the winning entries: Cashtration: The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it. Decafhalon: The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly. Caterpallor: The color you turn when you discover half a worm in the fruit you’re eating. Now that you've seen the examples, can you come up with a new word that's rich in double meaning?

Say Yes to the Power of Serendipity

Life is full of serendipity. Put in the work. Seeds often grow in unexpectedly rewarding ways. Michael Cunningham wrote his best work, The Hours, a 1998 novel about three generations of women affected by Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. The book won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was made into an Oscar-winning 2002 film of the same name, starring Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, and Julianne Moore. Michael said, “he was an average American teenager until, at the age of 15, he sought to impress a girl who was reading Virginia Woolf, so he read Virginia Woolf in order to … talk to her – and suddenly realized … there was something beyond bowling alleys.” Years ago, I was assigned to the Neurosurgery rotation in pharmacy school. Fascinated by the brain, I loved every bit of that training, familiarizing myself with various procedures, asking the surgical residents questions, and research articles for them. After graduating, I couldn’t find a hospital pharmacist position. Frustrated, I posted my resume online and took a position at a retail pharmacy. A few months later, I received a call for an interview at a neurosurgical center. The pharmacy director said she was so impressed by my resume that she decided to interview me. A week later, she hired me out of a large pool of candidates.

The Joy Guide from the Happiest Poor People

Happiness isn’t about having everything you want, but everything you need. Why Are Nepalis So Happy? Nepal is a South Asian country with high unemployment rates, poor health care and education. Yet the World Happiness Report 2021 ranked Nepal as the happiest country in South Asia. What makes these poor people so happy? On March 20, 2015, the International Day of Happiness, NPR interviewed a few Nepalis about the meaning of happiness. “Woeser Choeden, 90, has no formal education. In 1960, she fled Tibet to Nepal on foot with her two oldest daughters. Two yaks carried the family food, as well as her two youngest daughters. She has 20 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren." “‘Happiness for me is about contentment, not about extremes of happiness or sadness. I tell my children to embrace the suffering and hardship that comes through hard work. Only then can one truly understand happiness.’"

The Beauty of Keeping Everything the Same

The new sounds so much more exciting than the old. We can’t help ourselves. Life is short, and we want it all. What is the merit in keeping the old? The old furniture, clothes, routine, or tradition? YouTube and TikTok videos offer endless entertainment to keep us riding the new wave. Someone somewhere is always doing the things we haven’t tried before. How thrilling. Everything becomes necessary, so we feel stressed. We keep buying more new things to deal with the stress. Maybe it’s time to simplify our lives. Get rid of the excess and live with the basics. When we stop buying new things, we appreciate more of the old. We learn to fix things, rather than replacing them. We notice beauty in those tiny wildflowers, and find pleasure in small things. I came across this article about a farm who ate the same dinner every day. He says, “People might think I’m not experiencing new things, but I think the secret to a good life is to enjoy your work… If someone offered me [2 million pounds] to move, I would tell them to keep it. Most evenings I walk right up to the top of the valley. I look down and everything looks small and far away. And I feel like I’m on top of the world.”

No Deal Is Better Than a Bad Deal

When you're too close to something, it's impossible to see the big picture. Think of those aerial images—how different everything looks when seeing them from high above. Put distance between you and the problem. Give a couple of days or weeks to think over. Take a trip somewhere, and the new environment can prompt you a new perspective. Or, speak to someone you rarely consult with. The fresh points they make might surprise you. Mistakes are often made in haste, especially when you want something so bad. The idea of getting that very thing overpowers all reasons. Change the scenery, put some time and distance between that thing you desperately want and your best options, the right decision will emerge. Another thing to remember is, no deal is better than a bad deal. Sometimes, walk away can be your best option.

How to Make a Change When Change Is So Hard?

Our current keyboard arrangement remains the same as the original typewriter, where letters are arranged in a way to slow you down by 75%. It was because if you typed too fast on an old-fashioned typewriter, the keys would get stuck. So, the next time you want your loved ones to change their behaviors, think about the outdated, cumbersome keyboard arrangement you’ve grown so used to. Knowing something is good for you doesn’t mean you’ll do it. All smokers know nicotine is bad, but they like how cigarettes make them feel. To make changes stick, you have to do two things at the same time: 1. Make good habits easier to implement Think of breaking the change down into tiny steps. My son has been doing three hundred push-ups a day for a few years. He started with only one push-up a day. By making a goal ridiculously easy to obtain, you build up confidence and tolerance over time. 2. Make bad habits harder to sustain Research finds simply moving your favorite junk food a few feet away helps curb the urge to snack. Want to eat more vegetables? Fill up your plate with the greens first. When you’re half full, move on to the foods you like.

Lessons from Being the Worst Runner in a Race

When I was in eighth grade, our class chose me to be one of the two students running an 800-meter race. The race took place during our school annual Field Day, the biggest event of the year. When the signal gun went off, all the participants dashed forward, except me. I was so nervous; I forgot to run. Someone yelled, “Go!” and I took off. All the runners ahead of me looked like the real deal—they were fast and furious. Immediately, I was intimidated. I tried to run as fast as I could until I tired myself out. Trailing behind everyone, I thought about sneaking off the track and regretted having promised to finish the race and earn that pathetic point for the class. At some point, people clapped, sparsely at first, then more energetically. By then, I realized I was the only one left in the race. My face burned, my legs burned, and my ego was torched. All I thought about was my promise. I crossed the finish line. That was the only time I ever competed in a race, and it was the longest 800 meters in my life. Looking back, I’m proud that I kept my promise, no matter how bad it made me feel.

The Singing Remedy for Pain and Suffering

In the summer of 2020, I had a horseback riding accident, leading to a series of complications and chronic pain. During these long months of recovery, I often felt I couldn’t go on. I had no control of anything. I was miserable. One day, I decided to stop feeling like a victim and began trying out things not limited by my physical condition. One thing I did was to enroll in an online singing class at a community college. The unexpected benefit of singing on Zoom is the students are required to mute themselves. Because everyone’s internet connection speed varies, it’s impossible for the entire class to sing harmoniously together. I sang as passionately or silly as I wanted. No one could hear me. I bobbed my head, exaggerated my cheek and jaw movements on the camera, as the professor led us through lip buzzing, tongue trills, and staircase warmups. By the end of the semester, I not only cured my habitual shortness of breath, but built the confidence to sing in front of an audience. I felt stronger, in voice and spirit. Here’s the music professor’s remark on my performance—Good work, Ivy. You have a pretty, light voice. Your song is very well learned, and your JOY is very apparent. Congratulations!

Advice to Your Younger Self

Last week, I gave a talk on successful strategies to a group of pharmacy students. One exercise we did was to share answers to these two questions: 1. What advice would your 80-year-old self give to your present self? 2. What advice would your present self give to your 15-year-old self? Here’s what I told my group of students: 1. My 80-year-old self will tell my present self to try everything I ever wanted to do. Life is too short to dwell on uncertainties. The worst-case scenario is that you fail. So what? People will forget your failure and move on, and so should you. If people ignore you, that’s okay, too. You don’t have to win every hand you try, as long as you try as many of them as possible. 2. My present self will tell my 15-year-old self not to waste time worrying if everyone else likes me. Learn to love myself instead. Looking back, I wasted all those precious teenage years, worrying about everything that was out of my control. I wished someone had told me then to love and invest in myself. As I got older, I learned to be patient and gentle to myself, look past what I can’t do, and focus on what I still can.

Life Lessons in a Mirror

If you put truth in front of a mirror, is what you see in the mirror still true? In an article titled Why Selfies Sometimes Look Weird to Their Subjects, Nolan Feeney explained that “Don’t blame your face. Blame your brain instead. Selfies sometimes look strange to their subjects because of how we see ourselves in the mirror, (and) how we perceive our own attractiveness.” Aesthetics aside, our fixation on mirror reflections shapes how we perceive ourselves. Whenever things happen to us, good and bad, we etch them deeper into the lines and curves of those perceptions. We believe what we see is who we are. Is the image we see our true self? What we see in the mirror is the reverse of who we are, while our photos are how others see us. Since we're talking about mirror images, how about mirrored experiences? Consider this quote: “Good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.” ― Rita Mae Brown, Alma Mater Read it a few more times and let the meaning sink in. The underlining message is a bad thing can turn into a good thing (reversed) if you put that bad experience into good use. Plenty of bad things happened during the last year. How many of them have you turned into wisdom?

The Cost of What-Ifs

The Psychology of Money is one of the best books I’ve read on how to get out of the what-if trap. It shows you new ways to look at risks, odds, and the return on investment. Here are a few valuable things I learned from the book: 1. You can be wrong half of the time and still make a fortune. 99% of an art dealer’s collections can be of little value, but it doesn’t matter if the other 1% turned out to be the work of someone like Picasso. 2. All you have to do is to sit tight. “The S&P 500 increased 119-fold in the 50 years ending 2018. All you had to do was sit back and let your money compound. But of course, successful investing looks easy when you’re not the one doing it.” “Endurance is key.” 3. The change factor in long-term financial planning a) Leave room for changes. b) “Accept the reality of change and move on as soon as possible. Don’t make (your) future self prisoners to (your) past, different self.” You won’t know what the right action is until you try it out first. The important thing is to course correct when you fail and keep you going if you get it right.

What I Learned from Keeping a Vicious Pet

Our pet fish died. He's been with us since my son was in elementary school. My son named him Bob. Bob was an African convict cichlid with zebra stripes across his body. Years ago, we brought a large fish tank and dozens of beautiful tiny pet fish. Bob was one of them. In a crowd of bright-colored fellows, he looked suspicious and cunning. My son said Bob looked like a bad guy. He was right. Within a month, Bob killed off all the other fish, leaving a trail of mutilated bodies behind. He became the only resident in our large tank for the next six years. Sometimes, I sat on the sofa, watching him patrol around the well-lit tank. He must be lonely, I thought. One day I leaned against the tank to retrieve something behind it, Bob charged at me with such a vengeance that he startled me. Two weeks ago, my son told me that Bob died. He was sad. And the strange thing was, I felt sad, too. We buried Bob in the backyard with a tombstone that my son made. Now, our large fish tank sat empty in the living room, dark without its heater light on. Bob was a vicious fish, and he stayed true to his nature to the very end.

I Got a Pie for My Birthday

It was my birthday, and I got a pie for the occasion. All these years, I've been going back and forth between ice cream cakes and fruit cakes. After a tremendous last year, I wanted something new for my birthday. So, I got a bourbon pecan pie from Three Babes Bakeshop in San Francisco. It was as delicious as it looked. You can taste the brown sugar and a healthy splash of bourbon. I tried topping my slice with ice cream, but it was better without the addition. Less is more; I should have known. My husband and I watched a movie at home while enjoying the pie. Halfway through the movie, I thought I liked the idea of change already. There is no need to make the change so big and so hard. Build your way up there slowly. Start with something as insignificant as a bourbon pecan pie for your birthday. Surprise yourself with the unexpected delights. It’s freeing to be curious, to do things just for fun, to say ‘yes’ without playing all the worst-case scenarios in your head. The pie made me think of the life I hadn’t lived. All those choices I’d made set me off in a domino effect. Maybe I can start another chain of events, starting with a pie for my birthday.

New Year Resolution Experiment & Super Hack

Do you know January 19 is the “Quitters Day”? That is the day most people likely give up their New Year’s resolutions. Barely two weeks in, I already broke two resolutions I’d planned. One was to practice diaphragmatic breathing every day; the other one was to quit eating so much cheerio. Scientists find bad habits are much easier to follow and give us instant rewards than good habits. To save my failing resolutions, I decided to trick my brain into treating my good habits as those ultra-satisfying bad ones. Diaphragmatic Breathing: Instead of 15-minute practice a day, I only aimed to take one proper deep breath. On day one, I took three such breaths, and I count the extras toward my rewards. As the days went by, I kept earning more bonus points. Stop Eating Cheerios: Instead of quitting Cheerios entirely, I counted out 50 cheerios each day. I ate them one by one, savoring the texture and taste in my mouth. Interestingly enough, I no longer craved for more, and even had leftovers at the end of the day. My Reward: For every 100 bonus points, I earn $10 to spend on myself. Now, at the end of my two-week experiment, I’ve made over $15. There are so many little gadgets I want to buy!

The Stupidest Things People Say to You

Recently I had a phone conversation with a friend who is a breast cancer survivor. I talked about my experience recovering from a spinal cord injury after a horse accident. We laughed about how illness is the best friendship detector—how some friends couldn’t run away fast enough, while others stuck around, even though we didn’t expect them to do so. We talked about how hard it was to find people who would listen without judgment. Pain is a dark and lonely place. We don’t expect you to bring a cure or solution; we just need your presence, so we don’t feel alone in that dark and lonely place. I posted this question to my Facebook group, and here are some of my favorite answers: What are the stupidest things people have said to you when you’re sick or going through tough times? • “You don’t look sick. (I have stage 4 cancer).” • “When I was going through chemotherapy, I had one person say, "you know you could have used shark cartilage or peach pits." • “My mom passed when I was 17. I was having a tough time, and a 'friend' said, ‘Will you just get over it?’" • “It’s all in your head.” • “God won’t ever give you more than you can bear!” • “Have you googled that?” • “OMG, that happened to me!”

How to Make Good Things Happen in 2021?

Whether you’re into astrology or reading Wall Street Journal’s financial forecast, you’re waiting for a better year to come. How to make good things happen to you? 1. Know what you want By knowing exactly what you want, you avoid wasting time on goals too small or too big for you. Make a habit of quantifying your wants can help you achieve goals. 2. Focus on what you have People often say, if I could have X, then everything will be okay. Instead, ask yourself, what if I could never have X, what can I do then, and go from there. What you have is enough to get started toward something remarkable. 3. Care less about what they think Most of our stress comes from doing the things others want us to do. We aren’t in harmony with our natural self, thus feel trapped and stressed. Do more for joy and less for obligations. 4. Break it down Never make a to-do list containing tasks that take hours to do. Break it down into 20-or 30-minute sessions. Otherwise, you’ll never get it done. 5. Change is letting go. Identify the expenses, people, or responsibilities that no longer serve you, and let them go. The less burden you carry, the easier it is to change. Letting go is the first step.

3 Simple Steps to Take Control of Your Fear

The first time I performed for a packed auditorium, I was three years old. I did my poetry recital, loud and proud, not scared at all. For the next twenty years, I was in various performances, from solo singing to choral performances to theater plays. It was clear to me that the older I grew, the more scared I became. My own exceptionally high expectations led to my inability to lose myself in performances. The more time you spend contemplating your own inadequacy, the harder it is to take action. Here are the three simple steps to take control of fear when you’re scared: 1. Focus on your purpose, not on yourself. Remind yourself why you wanted to do this thing in the first place. You will improve given time and practice. Focus on what drives you rather than how terrible you are. 2. Set a tiny goal as the first step. Break your ultimate goal into bite-size micro-goals. This will not only shorten the distance between you and your next goal, but also makes it easier to shift your strategies to accommodate unforeseen changes. 3. Learn from others. Look for people who have lived through the same situation and learn from their experiences. As you gather strategies and action plans for various challenges, you’ll feel more in control.

What to Do When You Can’t Stop Worrying?

Worries are the punishment delivered before a sentence. Once you get in the habit of worrying, you’ll live like a caged bird, flying only so far before the invisible string of worries pulls you back. Here is how you stop worrying: One, set a time to worry. Assign 15 minutes each day to worry. Anything about yourself, your family, job, car, house, you name it. Make a list. Next day, open your worry log and cross out those no longer concern you and record your new worries. This will help you identify a pattern of unnecessary worries you carry around. Two, do something about it. When you can’t stop worrying about something, try to identify one thing you can do to lessen that worry. For example, if you worry about the upcoming presentation, run it by someone you trust, and make it better. Three, have a Plan B. Having a Plan B can help prepare you for the unforeseeable future. When you weigh your situation and come up with a Plan B, you not only avoid making hasty mistakes, but also set up a safety net for yourself. Last, remember, you always find what you’re looking for. Focus on the thing you can do, rather than the thing you can’t, makes a big difference in the long run.

Prioritize When Everything Is Important

We all have so much to do and so little time! The golden rule is to eliminate, automate, and delegate. For the remaining tasks, use these steps to prioritize. Step 1: Which one of your tasks is the most urgent? Do it first. (Think of how the consequence of delaying can be severe, even irreversible) Step 2: Which one of your tasks is the most important for the day? Do it second. (Think of how the cost of incompletion can lead to serious consequence) Step 3. Which one of your tasks is important in the long run? Do it next, but in small doses. (Think of starting small, but do it daily. For example, you need to clean up the garage, instead of waiting until the last minute, set the goal of cleaning for 15 minutes a day only, and do it over the course of two weeks. Step 4. Rank the remaining tasks in terms of enjoyment. Rule No. 1 - Do fun tasks first in short spurts (set alarm for 15-20 minutes per task). Rule No. 2 - Insert a bit-size important task (from step 3) between two fun tasks to prevent stressing out. Rule No. 3 - For difficult tasks, think about them in the shower and watch good ideas pop up like wild mushrooms.

How to Attract Good Luck?

Research shows that being curious can maximize your opportunities and bring you more luck. In our culture, we elevate intelligence and think it’s so important. The reality is intelligence is incredibly overrated. Being curious means exposing yourself to ideas, to books, to places, and to people. Since childhood, the human brain had always fascinated me. When I had a neurosurgical rotation in pharmacy school, I asked a surgical resident to take me to watch an Awake Craniotomy, a procedure performed on the brain while patients are awake and alert. The surgery took eight hours. When the surgical residents went to have lunch, only the attending surgeon and I were left in the O.R room. He asked me to help position the microscope to identify the exact location of a brain tumor. After a while, he began explaining what he was doing, and how he decided where to cut. It was such a memorable experience. By the way, the human brain looks like Japanese tofu, and a tumor looks like spoiled tofu, in case you wonder. When I graduated, I got my first job at a neurosurgery medical center. Because I spent so much time with the surgical team, I learned valuable knowledge to stand out in the applicant pool. You see, just being curious can bring you good luck.

What to Do When Things Don’t Work Out?

Are you disappointed with how your life turned out? You’re tired, stressed, and anxious. What should you do when nothing seems to work out the way you want? First, acknowledge the fact this is not the time to aim for perfection. You can’t have everything, so focus on the most important things first. Once you get them under control, you can move on to other things. Second, try a new coping strategy. Your old defense mechanism isn’t working. It’s time to learn from others, either from someone you know or admire. If one strategy doesn’t work, try another. Adjust the ones that work to fit your unique situation. Third, make a plan. There’s no perfect plan when everything evolves so fast. Even an imperfect plan is better than no plan at all. Having a plan lowers your anxiety and motivates you to take action. You can always refine your plan as you go. The farther along you are, the clearer everything becomes.

How to Get Your Kids Excited to Learn?

Homeschooling has proven to be one of the most difficult things yet on our 2020 to-do list. Your kids sit in front of a computer with that glazed-over look, as if they had an out-of-body experience. You worry about their future, but nothing you say can motivate them to learn. Now, let’s take a step back and figure out why remote learning isn’t effective. The school's focus has been teaching kids knowledge—the 'what', not the 'why'—the importance of learning that knowledge, or the 'how'—ways to use it in real life. If you want to get kids excited to learn, they have to understand why they are learning it and how to apply it in real life. It doesn’t help just tell your kids they’ll end up living on the street if they don’t study well and go to college. Find a more pertinent way to show them the difference between an educated person and an uneducated one. If you teach them age-appropriate life skills, such as money management, cooking, cleaning, and folding laundries, they'll realize they can change the outcome if they put in the effort. They’ll become more confident in their abilities, and want to do better in other areas, such as learning at school.

The Silver lining in Everything

My son turned sixteen. For the first time, he celebrated his birthday without me. When he cut the birthday cake with my husband, I was a hundred miles away at a trauma center after being brought in by helicopter for multiple fractures and a gaping wound that wouldn’t stop bleeding. Between the debilitating pain and medication-induced mental fog and nausea, I thought about the future. How long would it take before I could be active again? Would I experience all the negative consequences of this injury the surgeon had told me about? With only one good arm, it was a tedious affair to peel and eat even half of a banana. Between each bite, I noted not just its smell and texture, but also the funny little things about banana that had happened to me in the distant past. Suddenly, all the unimportant things I had pushed aside during my busy career seemed so precious. I wondered how I could have lived this long without missing their presence. The nurse came in and asked how I was doing. I said, “I’m in pain, and it’s a good thing.”

The Pandemic First Aid to the Burnout Moms

If you’re a mom with school-aged children, you’re likely experiencing exhaustion daily. It’s both mental and physical. You feel powerless in this fight against an enemy you can’t even see. No one has answers for you. You have to search for solutions yourself. The thing is, you can’t use your old way of thinking to solve a new problem. Start with listing things you can still control, no matter how small they are. Use them as the backbone to build your new way of life. Move on to the things your partner and children can help you maintain control. Have a family meeting and talk about everyone’s responsibilities and expectations. Assign projects to your five-year-old, so he/she has a ‘job’ to do while you working on yours. Learning life skills and engaging in creative ‘project’ help prepare kids for real-life challenges later on. The more confident they’re of their abilities, the less dependent they’re on you, and the more motivated they’ll become to learn, even on Zoom. The last step is to dig deep into your strengths and think about a third option (that isn’t all or none) for the things you have no control. Take a walk, or a shower can usually get your creative juice flowing.

The Quickest Way to Beat Listlessness Now

Come on, you know what I’m talking about. Everyone feels it nowadays, even the littles ones. Everything we do seems pointless. Why bother keeping trying when nothing matters anymore? True, but not entirely. The coronavirus is a new threat. No one knows how long it will stay, how soon we can find a cure, and how fast we can rebuild what we lost. One thing we do know—is that we can’t use our old methods to tackle this new problem. We need a new strategy to get what we want. But how, you ask? Here’s a hint: study those people, businesses, or institutions that have changed their approach in getting what they want during the pandemic. Instead of swimming against the current, they pivot to go with it. I call this reverse engineering. Figure out their reposition strategies and apply them to your own problem. You’re listless because you don’t see a way out of the maze. Reverse engineer others’ successful strategies will point you in the direction out of the mess. Study, plan, and apply. This is how cars beat fast horses, and airplanes took the sky. The time is changing, and your coping strategies must change with it.

If Only This Happens, Life Will Be So Great

How often do you wish for something to happen, so that you can be smarter, stronger, happier, more successful, and attractive? If only this or that happens… The truth is, that thing will never happen unless you do something about it. “But it’s impossible! It’s too hard! I can’t do it! I don’t have the money, the willpower, or the stamina? I can’t!” Well, you can’t if you never try. Start with something very small that you can do right now for five seconds. For example, clean your room for just five seconds, or do one push-up. Do it every day. You’ll see a big result. It’s called the compound gain. A small thing can snowball into something huge. The key is consistency. As you get comfortable with that small effort, gradually scale up your commitment. That is how people accumulate assets, write their best-selling books, become professional athletes, and be the CEO of their own companies. What is that small thing you can do right now for five seconds?

Want to Be Good at Decision-Making? Read This

We make countless decisions every day. From what to eat for dinner to what show to watch on TV, we rely on our gut feeling to choose one option out of all the possibilities. When it comes to making critical decisions, however, we’re stuck. Questions like What career change should I make, or Should I move to another city can torment you for months without a clear decision in sight. Fearing for the worst outcome, our minds are tangled up with all the pros and cons, unable to decide what is our best option. Here are the seven secrets that can help you make better decisions in tough situations. 1. Identify the core problem you’re solving – eliminate unnecessary information. 2. Focus on gaining rather than losing – set your eyes on growth. 3. Know what is important to you – don’t be pressured to follow others’ advice. 4. Aim for good enough – learn to make decisions based on imperfect data. 5. Quantify the pros and cons – use standard criteria to weigh each option. 6. Consider the cascade of consequences – know what to expect from your decision. 7. Evaluate the outcome of your decisions – learn from your past. Check out the entire article at

Is Your Relationship Holding Up to the Test?

Use these two quick markers to gauge your relationship strength. One, how often do you talk to each other about your feelings? Two, how often do you express love and appreciation through intimacy? Too busy to talk to each other? Hmm, I wonder if you have set the right priority in life. If nothing else, this pandemic has shown us how much family and health mean to us. Always put people first, then things. Too stressed for intimacy? Are you aware of the happy hormones flooding your brain during and after sex? Welcome your partner’s inviting hands in bed and take the joy ride together. You’ll feel so much better afterward. If you’re stressed and worried, don’t hide in a corner and suffer alone. Give your partner a chance to show support even if he or she can’t solve the problem for you. Having a frank talk about your feelings builds the much-needed trust in your relationship. By discussing your problem with someone who loves you, you’ll feel less alone and more optimistic to tackle the challenge. In return, express your love and appreciation through intimacy, so he or she will love you more. Deep down, we’re all creatures of feelings. Touch each other’s heart and be touched.

What Is Your Forgotten Dream?

So far, I had made four career changes (Business -> Engineering -> Pharmacy -> Author), and now I'm working toward the fifth one. People ask me, how do you find time to learn new things? What if things don’t work out the way you want? Wouldn’t that be a waste of time and effort? Well, honestly, if something interests you, you’ll find the time. You’ll re-prioritize your life to nurture that interest. Because it makes you happy doing it; feel good about yourself when you get better at it. Will I succeed? I don’t know. It’s the same uncertainty I faced with all my previous changes. So far, my record is good, but it doesn’t mean I’ll succeed this time. I have muscle memories from countless trial and error. I learned to look for patterns, be flexible, kind, and open. We were born with nothing and will die with nothing. It’s the experience that counts. Give your grandchildren a reason to look up to you, round-eyed, in awe. Think of life as a train ride. We’re all heading for the same destination, but everyone sees a different view. Stop looking at life through others’ lenses. Find your own horizon. Make your ride the most splendid and memorable.

What Career Change Is Right for You?

Have you lost a job recently or have second thoughts about your current position? Are you too old to switch careers? Do you need another degree to move into a different industry? These are all valid questions. As someone who has made four career changes in different fields, I want to make the process easier for you by breaking it down into 8 steps. 1. Understand your strengths and transferable soft skills 2. Identify various industries that can use your strengths and skills. 3. Go to LinkedIn or social media groups to find people who are already in your desired positions. 4. Study their educational background, credentials, work experience, etc., to identify the easiest industry/position to break into. 5. Ask the insiders for 5 minutes of their time to answer your questions. Offer help and be courteous. At least one of them will help you out. 6. Take free online courses from top universities on sites like edX, Class Central, and Coursera, to boost industry-specific knowledge for a standout resume. 7. During interview, showcase your strengths and soft skills through storytelling. Be likeable. 8. Negotiate additional perks, even if salary is non-negotiable. That is the entire process. Need more motivation and details on the topic? Read my book!

How to Save Your Relationship at Home? (3/3)

How A Timer (Part) I), A Calendar (Part II), and A Trash Can (Part III) Boost Your Relationship During Quarantine? You’re feeling trapped, anxious, and lonely at home, next to your partner who is equally mad and sad. What if you can win back the love and passion that bought you together in the first place? Clean up the house together! Working with your hands eases mental stress. The process of going through old stuff helps bring back memories of the old times, reminding both parties why they were together in the first place. Deciding what to toss and what to save as a team unites the couple and confirms the common goal of the relationship. Once you clean up the house, you not only rekindle the love between you but also give yourself a peaceful environment to be productive at home.

How to Save Your Relationship at Home? (2/3)

How A Timer (Part) I), A Calendar (Part II), and A Trash Can (Part III) Boost Your Relationship During Quarantine? You’re feeling trapped, anxious, and lonely at home, next to your partner who is equally mad and sad. What if you can win back the love and passion that bought you together in the first place? Seeing each other 24/7 is way too much exposure. You’ve got to give each other the room to breathe. Divide up your living space into sections; each party takes a section as the home office. Decide on the time and duration of this NO CONTACT period, mark it on your calendar, and stick to it. This way, you both can have a life of your own at home. Next, divide up household chores based on each party’s preference and expertise. Write down who is going to do what, at what time, and keep your promises. If one party fails to do his or her share, there will be penalties - whether it’s a flat $10 each time, or an escalating scale. If you have children, let them be the judge. They’ll get the job done. This way, you are sharing the responsibilities together. Pick one day each week to switch office space and house chores, and appreciate each other’s effort.

How to Save Your Relationship at Home? (1/3)

How A Timer, A Calendar, and A Trash Can Boost Your Relationship During Quarantine? You’re feeling trapped, anxious, and lonely at home, next to your partner who is equally mad and sad. What if you can prevent your relationship from going bad to ugly during quarantine? What if you can win back the love and passion that bought you together in the first place? Discover how these three items can boost your relationship in this fun and informative three-part series. Set 15 minutes for face to face communication. Really sit together and look at each other. Each party gets 5 minutes to talk about whatever is on his or her mind. The other party can only listen, no comments. When the 5 minutes is up, switch to the other person. When both parties have a chance to speak, you spend the next 5 minutes talk about what each party can do for the other person based on what you just heard. Start small, be specific, if you don’t know where to start, focus on the things you can easily do but often forget. You do this every day, 15 minutes at a time. Within a week, you will begin to see each other in a new light. We all want respect and acknowledgment in a relationship.

It’s Time to Rethink the Meaning of Life

For a long time, we train our mind to get more from life—more money, better cars, bigger houses, and expensive schools for our children. We are what we have. That is how others see us. That’s how we prove it to ourselves. Now the quarantine takes away the value we give to these material things. We stopped commuting, and our children learn at home. No matter how much assets we own, our future is as uncertain as everyone else’s. How to find meaning in this new reality? It’s time to stop using material things to give meaning to our lives; instead, we seek meaning within ourselves, in our body and mind. What really makes us happy? What are the things we absolutely can’t live without? It’s time to re-prioritize things, and do the most important ones first, and always. We’re what we believe, what we do, and what we choose to keep in these crazy times. Take care and take it easy, my friends.

I'm Imperfect, So What?

Perfection is like infinity, a great concept but impossible to reach. Don't let imperfection stop you from living the life you want. Stop playing all the worst-case scenarios in your head. Start doing the things you always wanted to do. You don't need the entire map drawn out before taking the first step. It's like driving at night, you can only see as far as your headlights allow. as the road extends before you, you find your way to the destination. #artofgoodenough.

What Kids Need to Learn From This Crisis?

Kids need to learn and grow while schools are closed. However, academic learning is NOT the only thing kids need to learn in this crisis. Many of us are anxious and angry. There’re many things out of our control. How to process the negative emotions and still maintain our focus on what we can control? Explain to your kids how you are handling these negative feeling, so they learn to be strong and wise. Teach them how to cook simple meals, how to do laundry, and what is the best way of folding clothes. Encourage kids to be resourceful by thinking outside the box. Include them in the decision-making process on family matters. Listen to their points of view and explain to them why their opinions are sound or not. This crisis gives us the perfect opportunity to start those life lessons. If you're stressed by the economic crisis, include kids in the conversation. Explain to them the value of healthy spending, and calculation of return on investment. There are eBooks on money management for kids that you can check out from the local library to improve their financial literacy. There will be a time when they have to meet such challenges alone. These life skills and lessons are what benefit them in the long run, not algebra 2.

What We Need vs. What We Want

Do you ever wonder why we are getting more and more anxious and stressed out? Why do we do the things that don't matter to us, spend the money we don't have, buy the things we don't need, and impress the people we don't even like? Because we have been chasing after the things we want, instead of the things we need. Needs keep us in harmony with our nature; wants distract us, drive us away from our purpose. It's time to take an inventory of our needs and wants, shed the unnecessary weight, and live simply.

What Makes Us So Angry?

There is so much anger around us nowadays. The invisible and the unknown are changing the way we learn, work, travel, and communicate. We're forced to develop a new routine. We're angry because we lost the order that held our old lives together. We're angry because we have to process things differently when we are not ready. We're angry because we are scared. Fear is our enemy. Learn how to handle fear is the first step to take control of our situation.

Relationship Checker During Shelter-In-Place

With more and more people following shelter-in-place orders all around the world, couples are spending a record amount of time together--good news for some, unbearable for others. Love is a practice, a discipline to focus on the good, and work with the rest. Instead of reacting with anger out of frustration, find out why your partner suffers from extreme anxiety and stress. Talk about their childhood, any event happened in the remote past, unhealed, still haunting their memories. Give each other space to cool down and reflect. Ignore the imperfections. They're always there, you just haven't had the time to zoom in on them. For the sake of your relationship, learn to understand first before criticizing. It won't do anyone any good. Remember, you can't help someone if you don't understand them. So today, practice love with discipline.

Facing Imminent Danger, Real and Imagined

After working in hospitals for over a decade, I have witnessed the extremes of human emotions over deaths and second chances. Now the virus is testing everyone's ability to cope with the perceived pending doom, the gut-wrenching uncertainty, and powerlessness. Learn to process your emotions by writing it out. Let words bring clarity to your thoughts. Let constructive thoughts bring forth the actions you need and leave behind the destructive ones. We can't control everything, but we can control our own thoughts and actions. Do you have any destructive thought that serves you no good? Write it down to unload your burden, then toss it away, literally and figuratively.

What to Do When You Can't Stop Worrying

Most of our troubles are manmade, caused by worry, hurry, and curry. Anxiety turns us against ourselves, traps us in the imagined danger, confines us in the shadow of doom, forever tittering on the edge of control. When we can’t stop worrying, we stop living. Here’s what to do when you can’t stop worrying: the first is a temporary fix followed by a permanent solution.

The Mismatch Between Needs and Wants

Do you ever wonder why we are getting more and more anxious and stressed out? Why do we do the things that don't matter to us, spend the money we don't have, buy the things we don't need, and impress the people we don't even like? Because we have been chasing after the things we want, instead of the things we need. Needs keep us in harmony with our nature; wants distract us, drive us away from our purpose. It's time to take an inventory of our needs and wants, shed the unnecessary weight, and live simply.

Stop Taking Yourself So Seriously

Do you worry about making a fool of yourself while others look on? Have you ever stopped trying new things just to avoid judgment and embarrassment? Well, it's time to stop taking yourself so seriously. Who cares what random people think when they see you struggle with two screaming kids and a heavy bag of groceries. You do what is important to you. If they judge, they've forgotten their days wearing diapers. Use your strengths and values to anchor your life, not others' opinions.

The Fit Between Your Strengths and Your Life

Every one of us lives three lives simultaneously: public life, personal life, and private life. Your sense of happiness depends on the level of harmony among these lives. Take a moment to reflect on these three lives: which one of them makes you yearn for more?

Your Happiness: Pleasure or Pain?

There are only two types of goals in life: moving toward pleasure or moving away from pain. Those who move toward pleasure know what they want and make efforts to reach their rewards. When they encounter pain on their journey, they see it as necessary before their favorable outcomes. Those who move away from pain live their lives passively, letting fear guide their courses of action. Although they minimize the risk of failure, they’re far from success. Which one of these are you?

A Mother's Struggle

We have all faced the internal and external pressure to be perfect. The bar is set so high that it's impossible to reach. I advise new parents to focus on one thing at a time. When you become comfortable with that one thing, move on to the next. Celebrate your small wins. We’ll be parents for the rest of our lives. There’s no hurry to get everything done right this very moment. What matters is you love your children and communicate that love. They’ll love you back. Being a new parent is like learning to driving a car. You know all the rules, but there’s constant distractions - other cars zoom in and out of your line of sight, the pedestrians, the traffic lights, and the weather. You have to learn how not to freeze when something unexpected happens. That takes time and experience. Don’t beat yourself up for something you’ve no way of knowing.

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