the reason of missing yesterday’s post

I realized that when I was pushing my way through my novel, I forgot the most important thing. That is, I am writing this book for my own pleasure. If I’m only thinking about how to finish the book as fast as possible, or how many words I need to accomplish each day, it sort of defeats the purpose. God knows how envious I am of those people who could effortlessly write long blog posts. I’ve seen people describe their day in vivid details with two, three-thousand words easily. If it were me, with my snail-IMG_2236like speed, I would be writing whole day with no time for anything else. Besides, I found my mood could directly influence my protagonist’s behavior in my story – she had been a little too serious lately and she no longer seemed to be having fun. So I decided to take a breather on my writing.

Without the excuse of novel writing, I could no longer do these “super light” posts any more. Even though, to be entirely honest, I have not really been using the time saved from these simplified blog posts to write my book. My cat is biting his own tail at my feet, as if to say, “I’m bored of your excuses.” In my defense not all distractions were excuses. Skiing was fun and provided me with some much needed exercises; I spent a fun night at the musical for “book research”; I went to the museum this afternoon, though it has nothing to do with the book, at least no one can call it a “waste of time”.

I think my problem is that all my interests require time to cultivate, and I simply don’t have time to do all of them. I love too many things. I spread myself too thin.

And yesterday after dinner, I decided to read in bed, just for a little while, before getting up to work on whatever I need to work on. The bed was so soft and comfy, and before long I was completely gone. In my dream I was trying to wake myself up: “Get up, you need to pick up your husband at the airport. He is standing at the curb waiting for you. Get up. Get up now!”

You see, that’s my life. And now you know why I didn’t post anything yesterday.

did today happen?

IMG_1317Today is a holiday for me, but not for hubby. I took him to the airport at 9a and picked him up at 6:30p. The whole time he was away working, I was in bed reading another online novel. The day simply disappeared, and I was in another dimension altogether.

I’m grateful for having the luxury of making a whole day disappear in my life, but this is not going to get me anywhere. It is the quarter end. It is time to reflect on my progress.

Once upon a time my life view was such that as long as I experienced life to its fullest, there was no need to have a goal. I used to think of life as a sailboat in the ocean, and as long as the sail was full, I should not care where the boat was going. That life view had served me well for many years, until one day I looked back and found my boat was floating alone in the middle of the ocean and I was idly waiting for the wind.

That’s when I realized that I needed motivation. I know I can achieve anything I want, if I want it enough. But what is worth wanting? What kind of love and passion can guide me from daydreaming to action? I do not know.

I have been seeking the answers ever since. This blog was one of the outcomes of this pursuit. Strictly speaking, if I have to evaluate against progress towards goal, utilization of time, etc, today is a very bad day. But in truth, it was a good one for me.

So what if I spent another day waiting for the wind?

i’m back

IMG_1193Forgive me for not posting for the past n days. As you might have guessed, the great firewall had prevented me from accessing blogs, yours, mine and everybody else’s. After a couple of days of writing without posting, I stopped writing all together, so it might take me a few days to make up the missing posts. Bear with me.

The good thing about not writing everyday and not writing right away is that I have time to digest information for days without having to describe my murky thoughts. But even after I had the time to sort through the field of disarray of my mind, such as 10+ hours on an airplane, I still feel that I’m unable to articulate any of them well. Yet, I have a feeling that I am on the verge of discovering something very important.

What I do know is that my heart was awaken. I was enthused, again and again, by people’s intelligence, self awareness, motivation, deftness in social settings and most of all, their authenticity. Even though I was only there for a week, I had grown. My perspective of life was refined through some amazing life stories I learned on the trip. And I’m looking at the world now through new light.

Yet, I’m not sure how to share these discoveries. At least not all of them at the present time. But trust me if you will — I had an unforgettable trip.

to plan is to hope

While people may think that I have too many ideas, too many new plans, emphasize too much on painting a picture of where I want to be in the future, and not enough on execution in the present, I cherish every moment of planning. To plan is to hope. Do you have days and weeks that you are too busy with life’s daily demands that you don’t have time to think about planning at all? Conversely, do you have days and weeks that you are too unmotivated or depressed that you simply do not want to do or plan anything? I have both those days, alternating and frequent. Therefore, the days I plan are the days I’m not living in either extremes, and where my outlooks of the future are bright, and my perceptions of self are optimistic.

Yesterday was one of those days. And now I have a new plan for the rest of March. It is aggressive, but if I achieve 50% of the plan, I would still be better off than now. If you make a plan, be sure it is grandiose!

My March plan does not include trip planning to China, where I set to leave in 4 days. A year and half ago, I went on a trip where I did a lot of walking, sometimes 7, 8, 11 miles a day, and I was able to lose some weight. It all came back of course, creating not a V shape but a check-mark on the weight chart.  I hope I will do a lot of walking in China and reverse the weight trend…

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moonwalking with Einstein

_MG_1435I listened to the book Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer last year as one of my audible.com books. Ever since I read that book, I was more acutely aware of how little we “remember” things in this modern-day and age. For example, I’ve been doing yoga on and off for 15 years, and I have heard the Sanskrit names for the common yoga poses countless times. But if you ask me to repeat one? No, sorry, can’t do.

One of the things that I wanted to do was to be able to memorize more things: Sanskrit names, song lyrics, famous poems, a few new languages, et cetera, et cetera.

Of course, I haven’t done anything in particular in the area of memorization yet, but I did find some solace in the saying “knowing the problem is half the solution”.

One finds motivation in all weird places. When I had my hair done yesterday, I told my stylist that audible.com was really good in marketing to me and that I had bought so many audio books that I didn’t have time to listen to them all. One other hair stylists overheard our conversation and said, “Yes, that’s because they are an Amazon company, and Amazon makes me buy 3 books a week with their deals.” I looked over and saw the book Moonwalking with Einstein  on her workstation and took in the fact that books are universal gifts to humanity. She may not have gone to college, but she can be equally inspired by the thoughts and ideas in those books. Who knows? She might be a better implementor than I am, and might be able to recite the top 100 famous poems already for all I know.

In the book The Element that inspired me to write this blog, it described a conversation between the author and his brother Ian.

I said that I’d love to be able to play keyboards that well.

“No, you wouldn’t,” he responded.

Taken aback, I insisted that I really would.

“No,” he said. “You mean you like the idea of playing keyboards. If you’d love to play them, you’d be doing it.”

Yes, I like the idea of being able to remember names and phrases, being able to recite poetries and speeches and being able to speak multiple languages a lot. But only the idea, for I have not put any efforts in making any of these things happen.

When you have an idea in your mind, it is just an idea. Next minute, you think of something else, that idea disappears like a puff of air. Say you want to paint the glass on the table in front of you. Before your first paint stroke, there is nothing but a blank canvas. It is the act of painting that transforms an idea to a reality that can be seen by the world, including yourself. As you yourself cannot foresee each brush stroke at the idea stage. In other words, intention is vague and somewhat useless. The creation process is all about DOING. I’m not in any way implying that we should separate the act of thinking and the act of doing, because that would be simply ludicrous. When we do, we also think. I’m just saying that thinking-while-doing is much better than thinking-alone.

fire and rain

I worked for a straight 4-hours yesterday on producing a comprehensive 2012 spending report for one of my larger clients. As I worked, I didn’t notice time and the world around me, since I was completely in the zone. I love the feeling of being in the zone.

Before I started my endeavor of managing money, I spent some time thinking about what the ideal profession for me would likely to be. I thought, “I like money, I like counting money and I like to work on my own personal finances and investments. Why don’t I do it professionally? If that’s what I like to do, then it won’t feel like a job, it would be part of my life. And I can do it till my old age.” Here I am 6 years later. Sometimes I still feel the same way, such as a day like this; but sometimes I wonder where my passion has gone. If managing money is my true calling, I won’t be sitting here writing a blog about finding one’s passion and motivation. But worse still, my hubby had requested the same report (since last year this time) for our own finance, and I have not done so. In fact, I’m doing the very minimum of maintaining our own family finance, such as just getting the bills paid on-time. Even with my own 401K, after selecting the funds from 5000+ that were made available to us financial professionals two or three years ago, I have not gone back to review and re-evaluate them. I conduct reviews for my clients because it’s my job, but I’m not treating myself equally. This is like an aesthetician who doesn’t take care of her own face, or a fashion designer who does care about his or her own image. Why am I like this I don’t know. Do I need to rekindle my passion? But that would be wrong, because I still love many aspects of the job: I love the intellectual stimulation; I love the feeling of understanding the world through the real lives of the families I work with; and I love being the person others trust and rely on. Maybe I just don’t like to do the same thing at work and at home? No, that’s not right either. Maybe it’s just simple laziness.

If I’m really honest with myself, I have to say that there are two things about the job that irritate me, and from time to time they overshadow the love and passionate I felt about the job. There is however no point of changing professional field, as I know whatever intrigues me would at the same time has some qualities that would annoy me. So the real question becomes, “How to keep the fire burning when it is pouring rain?”

first post

I was going to write about my Imaginary Board of Advisors for my first post.  My initial intention was to write about daily inspirations and understandings as they come, but for the very first post I wanted to do something a bit special. My posts were going to be original ideas and thoughts.  What I didn’t want to do was to write: “I woke up depressed. What is the meaning of all these? Another day of boredom.” or something similar.  There are hundreds and thousands of blogs just like that, if not millions, and I can almost guarantee non-readership if I join the herd.

The first priority is to write and to write consistently. The second goal is to be true to myself in my writing.  If one was to write anonymously and still wearing a mask while writing, why bother to write at all? The third priority is to write well. My disadvantage here is that I write very slowly. After all, English is my second language. I admire people who could write eloquently and engagingly everyday.  In the financial world of my day job, I have the privilege of reading many reports each day from thought leaders in the industry.  Dennis Gartman’s daily Gartman Letter is usually 5-7 pages long.  Dave Rosenberg also has a daily letter about the same length.  Our FICC department used to send out beautifully written articles about the world FX markets daily. They had three people at the desk.  I liked one of the authors most and I could easily distinguish her writings from the other two authors.  Unfortunately, they no longer send those articles nowadays, presumably due to the pressure of selling structured products for the firm.  But that’s another story entirely.  And there is Art Cashin, whose daily publication is no more than 4 pages long, and it always starts with an “encore presentation” of a story from the past. His letter usually starts something like this: “On this day +1 in 1856, there was a certain gentleman in Virginia…”  I could mention more daily publications, but what’s the point?  There are many people who write regularly, frequently and well.  And I modeled my blog after these people.  Only if I could write better. These people write about topics in the world, past, present and future, that lead back to the financial market today. I will write about any topics in the world that has something to do with finding one’s passion and motivation. But I can’t start with 5000 words a day like some of my more prolific heroes, I don’t even want to set my initial goal at 500 words a day, for the fear of failing my first objective of writing daily. 300 words minimum should be acceptable, right?

What if I achieved my three priorities above but still have no readership? Well, then I will treat these posts as letters to my future self, the wiser and more capable version of me. So not all is lost.

Basically, all these rambling was my way of admitting that I almost failed my mission on the very first day, and that I had a very rocky start. After thought about the topic for this morning’s post, I went to bed just after 11 last night. But under the sigh of relief of the day’s accomplishments: obtained a blog name, set up the blog and wrote the About page, I picked up yet another Chinese online novel to read on my iPad. I was giggling in the darkness immersed in the story and was only able to turn it off when the clock hit 2:40 am. So this morning I woke up knowing the post would be late, and there was a real possibility of no post at all because my full busy day ahead at the office, and I felt a huge sense of failure. After all, this is my first post. How long can I last? Can I last at all?

I turned on the TV and Fox news says “If you just woke up it’s 7:46.  Good for you that you can wake up at 7:46 in the morning.”  These newscasters probably had to be up at 3 am.  And yes, for that I am grateful.