We blinked our eyes once and it’s already the LAST day of this decade.
This is a snowy and beautiful day in Toronto. I sat down at our dining table with a cup of pomegranate green tea in one hand, and a piece of home-made shortbread cookie in the other hand, asking myself a serious question to end the year:
“How can I summarize my last 10 years with 10 emojis?”
Don’t laugh at me… but I’m a serious person, seriously.
Voilà… there you go, the first emoji!
Lesson #1 – No, I do not take myself seriously. I’ve accomplished something that I’m proud of in my life, but that doesn’t make me a better person. Therefore, it’s okay to be occasionally teased at, or to have the courage to fail. The majority of us are ordinary human beings. We do our best to be the best version of ourselves. Some may have bigger impact than others to the community and society because of the resources, talents, power and abilities that they possess, but by no means we can say one is better than the other because it’s impossible to define the “better-ness”. Instead of thinking too highly of ourselves (a.k.a., taking ourselves seriously), we should DO more and DO better. Action leads to results, neither thoughts nor words.
Talking about doing things, I did do one thing over and over again which is to call my family whenever I can and wherever I am. I know you do that too because:
#Lesson 2 – Always remember: family gives you strength. Growing up I have a fairly small family – mom, dad, sister and me. We are a very tight unit. We did not have lots of money but we always had conversations, books, education, values, hopes, and of course noodles and dumplings. Over the past decade, I changed jobs, moved to a different country, got married, decided not to have kids, decided to move again, but no matter which route I’m taking and how scared I’m at time, my family is always there to give me love and strength. Family is at the heart of everything.
On the family note, there is one person that plays a critical role in shaping me to become who I am today. He is my husband.
Lesson #3 – Marriage is about understanding and celebrating each other’s difference. P.S., I love you. At the first glance, my husband and I have nothing in common. He is Caucasian and I’m Asian; he is a musician and I cannot even sing Happy Birthday very well; he is in the high technology industry all his life and I’ve been into words and picture since I was little; he has a laid back personality and I’m the most reckless person I’ve known; he is the man’s man and I’m the girl’s girl, but guess what?! we are celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2020. At the beginning of 2010, we moved to China together; and in Jan 2020 we are getting on the plane and moving to France. Marriage is about recognizing and celebrating the differences, and the foundation is love.
Lesson #4 – Take risks. You won’t regret. Life is a fun journey. Treat it as an adventure, or maybe the roller coaster ride in Canada Wonderland. Have fun, take risks, laugh, cry, fail, excel, explore… do what your heart desires, and do it with courage. Why not? We only live once. Don’t settle in and be content with the status quo. Only if you try, will you know if you win. If you do not win, at least you learn.
Lesson #5 – Let it out. Stay true to yourself. When you feel sad, shed some tears. When you are happy, laugh out loud until your belly hurts. Opening up instead of closing off, because you can be yourself only when you stay true to yourself. I never liked a wishy-washy personality. To me, having an opinion (even a negative one) is better than having no opinion at all.
Lesson #6 – Listen up. Shhhh… stop talking, just listen. When you listen, you are taking in other people’s knowledge and insight. It’s free of charge. All you need to to do is to open up your ears, and close your mouth. Talking about listening, I’m a crazy fan of audio books. Two reasons, 1) I’m terribly near-sighted and reading a book sometimes presents challenges to me 2) I can use fragmented time to finish an entire audio book within a week. I do it when driving my car, combing my hair, walking the dog, running errands and shopping in the mall.
Lesson #7 -Speak up. This is not necessarily a valued quality in the Eastern culture. In school, we are told not to speak until you are asked. At work, we are told to respect hierarchy instead of challenging the authority. It’s not right or wrong but just different. Having lived in Canada for more than a decade, I learned to appreciate the value of speaking up, leaning in and having a voice at the table. Stand up, ladies, and speak up!
Lesson #8 – Carve out time to read, think and reflect. That’s why I started my blog two years ago today. It allows me to stop and think, and realize how much I don’t know what I don’t know. Many time, you think you have some insight to offer, but when you put the thoughts on paper or in the blog, you suddenly realize how shallow you are and how daring you are to even write and share something. That serves as a great reminder for one to continue carving out time to read and to think.
Lesson #9 – Let it go. Yes, we have been doing everything we can to reach to the next level, from all aspects, but sometimes no matter how hard we try, we still cannot get it and win it. Then, what we do?! My advice: let it go, let it be. Unlearning and un-doing is as equally important as learning and doing. The key is to know thyself.
Lesson #10 – Happiness comes from within and if you are happy, don’t forget to SMILE.
Have a wonderful end of the year, my friends.
I wish you nothing but happiness, health and success for the next decade.
See you in 2020!