Birthday Eve: Sporadic Thoughts

On the eve of my birthday, I sit here feeling simultaneously stressed out, worried, confused, elated, happy, et. al. It has been ten days since the inauguration of our country’s new leadership: ten days of angst across the country, as I obsessively scroll down my social media news feeds, consuming all the information that has come through and observing everyone’s terrified reactions.

I have been trying to figure out what I can do amidst all this confusion and anger felt around me, which is why I have been mostly silent about current events. Part of me feels like there must be more that I can do and say. Part of me feels guilty for solely focusing on my work even when I see how much anguish people are feeling around me. I was very vocal after the election, and many friends from different walks of life reached out to me because of how I expressed myself through Facebook live videos; yet, I also felt exhausted after I put myself out there.

There’s that part of me that wants to focus on the happier things in life: my birthday is tomorrow and I want to spend the day in celebration. It is hard for me to believe that it’s been seven years since my near-death experience, and how much I have grown personally and professionally since then.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year on Saturday.
Celebrating the Lunar New Year on Saturday.

Saturday marked the start of the Year of the Rooster in the lunar calendar: this year was the first time in my whole life where I paid special attention to the pre-Lunar New Year rituals and made sure to follow all of them before midnight on January 28th. Celebrating my ancestral heritage, primarily by consuming delicious foods that remind me of home: dumplings, roasted duck, noodles, etc. Gung Hey Fat Choi!

There is happiness, and there is sadness. Perhaps I am not alone in how to feel–because yes, if we all turn a blind eye from all that is coming out of our leadership, then we’ll bury ourselves alive. Yet, must we not also cherish the happier moments in our lives and be grateful for what we do have in the present? Isn’t there still good in this world?

 

 

Respecting Time & Relationships

If you're not following through with your commitments to others, how does that reflect on your character?

Throughout my life, I feel like I have mostly been respectful of others’ time, making sure I arrive early to meetings/work/etc. In this day and age, it’s easy to alert the other party if I *am* running late, but I try my best not to do so. I’m human–so I don’t have a perfect track record–and I don’t enjoy the look on the other person’s face when I see that I am so terribly late and essentially disrespectful of their time. I feel a great sense of shame when this happens to me and remind myself to not do this again next time.

Understandably, not everyone operates the same way and everyone has different values. Over the course of only the past couple of months, I have realized that I need to distance myself from those who don’t respect time: those who are consistently late to meetings/events/etc. and those who cancel last minute. I understand that life comes up, and things DO happen, but still–it reflects badly on the person when they cancel last minute. I have heard many kinds of excuses: didn’t know where to meet (it was in the Google Calendar invitation….), traffic, something happened at the business, etc. Time is valuable, and that time reserved for the canceled individual could have been allotted towards something/someone else.

In the end, these individuals do me a favor and remind me of why I shouldn’t do business/be friends with them: if they don’t respect my time, then they clearly don’t respect me (even if they wouldn’t admit this fact to my face). As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

 

Pick up the phone!

When was the last time you made a phone call to your loved ones?
When was the last time you made a phone call to your loved ones?

This post has been incubating in my mind the past month: lately I’ve found myself seeking to reconnect with some friends I had lost touch with over the past year. Messages via text or social media can only go so far: I’ve decided to pick up the phone and call these friends to catch up on how their lives are. I met up with a few of them last month and I thought to myself, Gee, why don’t I do this more often?

In this day and age of technology, we feel like we’re so much better connected yet it also pushes us further apart. This cultural shift has been around for the past several years, but of course, people are also noticing the effects technology has on the whole human experience (as you can see in the video above). We think that it’s just *so* easy to just text someone, email someone, send them a tweet or post on their Facebook profile these days.

Have we forgotten how to pick up the phone and call that friend? That loved one? Just hearing a human voice…then we start connecting again. We realize how much we miss out on when we reconnect: I know that with most of my friends, they’re not avid social media users. Heck, some of my family members aren’t even ON social media. So what can I do to be more connected with them?

Just pick up the phone and call.

The Facade of Social Media

Do you really know me?
Do you really know me?

I go through periods of time where I am highly selective about the people I “friend”/connect with via Facebook and LinkedIn. Sometimes I don’t want to add people whom I only “know” through a Facebook Group or other forum; however, I feel like the worst people to add as Facebook friends are those who are friends of IRL friends.

Because that’s when people begin to feel like, “Oh, I know you because I know your friend.”

Frankly, no, no you don’t. You don’t know me and you shouldn’t act like you know me.

Which brings me to the main point of this post: we think we know these people we are all supposedly friends with on social media, but we really don’t. I know I had talked about this in a previous post of the whole comparison syndrome, and that things are never as they seem on social media. But this post is pointing out another aspect of that thought: when an acquaintance shares a piece of personal news (perhaps on the ‘bad news’ side of the spectrum), you may think you know how to react and how to respond to that person, but do you really think you do?

I am one of those people who just pops in and out of Facebook, not really staying consistent on the types of posts I share, so people who are “friends” with me there don’t get the full picture of what I’m going through (to get more of a full picture, they would also need to follow me on Twitter). Only if they’ve seen me recently in-person do they really know who I am or what’s been happening. If the last time they saw me was awhile ago, well then…they really should not assume they know all that has happened in my life, just like I try not to act knowledgeable on their lives.

This is the downside of technology: in the past, when we knew of friends of friends, they would just stay that way: distant connections. But in this modern age, we suddenly feel like we’re closer to friends of friends than we really are. It’s a delicate balance to maintain, and I feel like, if you’re not going to actively seek a more direct friendship/connection with the “friend of a friend”, then why even add them on Facebook?

I don’t think highly of people who think they can just sit there and lurk on acquaintances’ profiles, just waiting for that moment to pounce in and show “I REALLY KNOW YOU.”

Because really, NO. You really DON’T. 

Fleeting Moments

Cozy fireplace at Beaver Creek.
Cozy fireplace at Beaver Creek.

 

My parents visited Colorado from March 21st to the 30th; during that time, we ate out at the few good Chinese restaurants, visited my dad’s old friend in Greeley, and spent time with the rest of our family (my siblings, their spouses and kids) in Beaver Creek.

During my parents’ visit, the topic of death came up several times: my dad’s friend’s wife passed away from cancer last year. Now, my dad’s friend lives alone in his house with his daughter visiting weekly since she lives nearby; his son is out of state, though. My dad and his friend sat and chatted for a bit about other friends passing away and how my parents have even ‘joked’ with one another about what would happen if one of them passed away before the other.

Another mention of death was when I asked my brother-in-law about their one surviving dog (used to have two: the older dog was put to sleep a couple years ago), and he told me that Mike had passed away only a couple weeks ago. The last time I saw Mike the lab, he was already wheezing with a strange cough, but he held on for the past year and a half. My brother-in-law said Mike passed away in the middle of the night and they buried him along with their other dog and cats that had passed away beforehand.

Death is an uncomfortable topic, but it is inevitable. How do we know we’ll see our loved ones the next day? During my parents’ visit, I found myself frustrated quite a few times with their lectures and their nagging at me, but then I also felt guilty feeling that way. After all, my parents aren’t getting any younger; their health seems fine for now, but our family medical history isn’t exactly too stellar. I remind myself to cherish every moment with my parents, both good and bad.

Our time on earth is ephemeral so we must be thankful for each moment spent with one another.