December 2015

December is finally here.  I’ve been waiting for you since May.  Why?   Because it means 2015 will finally come to an end and so will my bad luck streak. In the past year I have experienced multiple deaths in the family, a breakup, car trouble, work trouble and etc.  Life comes in waves but when the waves get bigger without any clear sign of going back up, it starts to erode your mind.  You start to wonder if it’s the universe’s way of balancing fortune and misfortune.  In reality it is a test of truth.  Who’s to be by your side, who’s to be a part of your journey in life.  What your purpose is in life.  Whatever the case may be, I am ready to to tackle the next challenge. In reality, there is not much more to lose (knock on wood).  Hopefully the stormy year will calm by 2016.

It’s Timing

The universe has a way of making it up to you and things happen in chronological order to get you where you need to be.  After dinner with a college friend, who I have not seen since college, I decided to return to the UW library to resume my studies.  It was a combination of a number of things that made me miss the exit but kept on driving until reaching my grandma’s house. Unbeknown to me, Aunt T, the mother of my childhood friend Tu, was there.  I couldn’t believe it.  It has been 18 years since I have lost track of Tu and the family.

I immediately sent Tu a text.  Given the recent passing of a close friend, there could not be better timing.  Tu and I immediately picked up where we left off, which was somewhere between the 4th and 5th grade. It was like picking up a fragment of your childhood memories.  A very pleasant experience.

We spent a split second lamenting about the roughness of life.  How I am bald,has a girlfriend who I care about a lot but she is all the way in Korea and how I am 32 but still unsure about work and life.  Tu is married with three kids and running a nail business.  Needless to say we mostly recounted memories of running around the neighborhood creating havoc and buying candy from Safeway.  I said I remember it was more of us stealing candy.  We joked about using the whistle to call for help in case we got jumped by the ghetto kids living in the neighborhood.  We laughed and agreed it was tough growing up poor.

Our parents were good friends and our families vacationed together.  Tu naturally became family.  He was a brother, we hung out at church and school.  Then we lost touch after elementary.  He had a tough time at Jason Lee Middle School and was allegedly involved in some sort of gang.   His mom sent him to New York to stay with his father.  I found out through my mom a few years after his departure.  I guess it was natural that I never got a call. I found out he came back in the 10th grade and tried to look for me but our path didn’t cross.  We could get contact information through our parents but somehow we didn’t.  I am not sure what happened.  Maybe the timing was off.

My other friend Rebecca shared her pearls of wisdom on timing.  Rebecca noted her time in London being drunk on most nights.  On a particular night, she was knocked unconscious and woke up to find she was in the hospital with missing front teeth and unable to recall what happened the previous night.  Had an extension on her graduate coursework, got married to someone in Turkey and moved back to America to begin life.  The marriage ended in divorce which was followed by a serious brain tumor that was viciously spreading.  Following a successful surgery is a few more accidents that needed surgery.  Other life mishaps continued.  It is not until now, at age 37, that cosmic lined up to work in her favor.  Rebecca, an overly competent LSE graduate is finally employed in a job she enjoys, happily remarried, 18 months pregnant and recently bought a condo for a fraction of market price.  All happened at once.

What I have learned is that you can’t rush life.  It’s all about timing.

In Loving Memory of My Friend J.A.

wpid-20150913_164129.jpgThis is one of the few posts that I will quickly write and publish in order to capture my true reaction. Earlier today I received a message from a mutual friend who texted to let me know that my friend, J.A., suddenly passed.  JA was a member of the US Army Special Forces.  He had an accident during air drop training.  The incident happened at noon  on Friday, September 11, 2015.  A civilian reported seeing his body hanging from a tree.

I was in disbelief.  It was hard to accept.  I don’t think there is ever a right time for this kind of news, however it was especially hard this time around because my grandpa died a few days earlier on Tuesday around 1:30pm.

J.A. was the closest I have to a best friend, or the closest friend I have at the moment.  He was generous with his time and money.  He knew what he wanted in life.   He had a giant heart and wore it on his sleeve.  He loved God and spent his life creating memories.  Everyone who knew him, loved him.  He was someone to look up to.  He had many sides, as we all do, and I was glad to have been invited inside the circle of trust.

JA is the best friend a guy could ask for.  He was there when I went through major life changing events and needed a friend for support.  JA made time for me.  A friend in need is a friend in deed.

May 2015, I moved to Everett and JA was gone for training. We gradually lost contact.  March was the last time I saw him.  Thinking back, I should have put in more effort.

I am disappointed with myself.  I went about four to five months without seeing my closest friend and now he is gone.  I can easily say he is gone now because I have not exactly processed his passing.  I still see him lounging at the bars in Seattle, or just hanging out at church.

The fact is he is gone.  Who will I sit with at church now?  Who will I will go on crazy rendezvous with?  I wonder if I’ll ever get over that fact.

This is the first time dealing with the passing of a close friend. I think about all the past memories and I am sad that I won’t be able to make more.  I miss eating at Denny’s at 2am after leaving the casino, partying in Seattle or just having lunch at a Korean restaurant to catch up.  JA was a real blessing.

I encourage everyone to call their close friend to tell them how much they cherish the friendship.  How important they are.  Say good things.   One of the most touching things my close friend said to me was how grateful it was to just hang out with me.  I never had a chance to say nice things to JA.  I regret not being with him before he passed.  He was there for me but I was not.

The road is much lonelier without you my friend.  But I know that sometime God sends a close friend in time of need.  Other time he may recall them for the service of his Kingdom.  RIP J.A.

Israel

Source: Israel

Folks spend hard-earned money on vacation hot spots like Hawaii, Cancun or Boracay.  The trip to Israel was a spiritual vacation for my soul and a chance to see historical cities in real life.  It also helped put into perspective the issue of Israel as it relates to U.S. foreign policy.  Click on the link above for some representative photos of Israel.

Non Profit Work

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I know what I am about to say may be a complete generalization as I have only worked for one non-profit.  Maybe, folks could help validate or correct with their own experience.

My first week of work I was asked to go for a day of training to determine my color type.   Green represents the critical thinkers, yellow are the organizers, orange are the adventurous type and blue are those with good people skills.

It came with no surprise that I was a yellow in the sea of blues.  As the quiz pointed out, blues think with their heart.  Their non-confrontational nature make them a good companion.  However, their nonchalant and care-free attitude make them difficult to work with.  I stored what I heard away, thinking how could we just generalize people into a simple quadrant like this.

To my horror, the training was really a beware. Only a few days into work, I discovered some of the folks I work with have trouble with follow-up, can’t handle structure and have a tendency to use their people skills to ease around responsibility.   That means they would cancel on an appointment without the professional courtesy of informing you.  They go on vacation during peak season and you are left to handle all the work from scratch.

We are all colorful people, but I think there is something to be said about an ability to control how we display our colors.  Right now it means how to suppress a steamy hot face.

Advice for My Younger Self

Most people go for the 10-year mark, but I will do 5.  I say you don’t want to deal with too many disappointments all at once. If time travel works, here is what I would say.

1.  Look after yourself.

HairLoss-BrushingHair7

If you see more skin on your head after you shower.  You are going bald.  If there is a lot hair on the bed sheets in the morning when you wake up.  You are going bald.  If your friends tell you to get rogaine and you become bitter.  You are going bald.  The fact is 2/3 of men go bald between age 30-35, much earlier in my case.  Pathetic gene, F&*&*Do something about it.  Don’t wait for all your hair to fallout to start treatment.  Try Rogaine.  Try hair thickening products like Nioxin and Lemon Sage.

2.  Collect friends at work.

alcohol-492871_1280Most will shift focus to career building, but you will, at some point, switch career and need the connection.  Not that you make friends with that intention but relationship is important.  Hang out.  Have fun.  Be with positive and fun loving people.

3.  Do yoga, meditation, tai chi or any natural healing exercises to strengthen your mind and immune system.

winner

Most cells in your body will change after some period.  You change every 7 years (0-7 Years, 7-14 Years, 14-21 Years, 21-28 Years, 28-35 Years, 35-42 Years, 42-49 Years, 49-56 Years,56-63 Years, 63-70 Years, 70-77 Years, 70-77 Years, 77-84 Years).  Your hair will start to thin at age 26 and will regrow in unwanted places. Nature can be so cruel.You will lose physical strength, the digestive system will start to have malfunction and you will get sick more often.

4.  Attend big events.

BEIJING, CHINA - MAY 5: (CHINA OUT) A newlywed couple, the groom from France and bride from China, attend their Chinese style wedding ceremony at the Grand Sight Garden on May 5, 2007 in Beijing, China. Chinese people are celebrating the week-long May Day holiday, known as one of the three
(Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)

Even if  the airplane ticket ends up costing you thousand of dollars – fly back.  Be with people on their wedding day.  It is more important than you think.  The amount of love you give is the amount of love you get. That is the downside to the Foreign Service.

5.  Plan ahead

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If you work for the federal government, a tentative offer is not a job offer. Make sure you get a firm  handshake before resigning.  A lot of things could go wrong in between. Sometime it is beyond your control, but for the things within your control, make doubly sure that they are well taken care of.  ShitThings happen, move on.

6.  Don’t be so critical.

tough love

Tough love is not necessary good.  People don’t respond well to it.  It’s better to mind your business.  People won’t thank you for your constructive criticism.  Leave them the heck alone.  Take off the maturity hat.  Focus on yourself.  Laugh more.

7.  Read more.

reading-april-2

Read at least one book a month.  Take more photos.  Start an online journal/website. Enjoy your travels more.  Reading will enrich your personal and professional life.

8.  Join Toastmaster.

McCallsMagAugust1964-6

Don’t underestimate the power of public speaking, especially in your line of work. There is room for improvement, actually quite a lot, and Toastmaster helps.

There are no more nugget of wisdom, except it becomes acceptable to talk about yoga and hair care with your guy friends.  Five years from now, you and your bald friends may even exchange text messages about the latest hair care products and think nothing of it.  That is something you get to look forward to.  Enjoy your life, man!

What Do You Think?


nothing_to_envy_0Long distance relationship is hard.  Special days and events make it even harder.  The reason is because you can’t be there and that makes you feel guilty.  Gift giving becomes a way to compensate.

My girlfriend’s birthday was 8/22.  I gave it some thought, decided against jewelry for two books (one for her and one for me). The book is entitled “Nothing to Envy” and it captures the normal lives of North Koreans as told by the defectors themselves. It also highlight well the social cultural norms of family and government ties to give us a good insight on the minds of those who have gone though famine and persecution.  I also pressed rose petals between the pages so that she could use them as bookmark.

People think history is a bad choice because it sounds boring and unromantic, but I disagree.   You can use history to analyze the past to predict the future.  That way there is no need to repeat the same mistake.  I hope I am right. (biting nails)

The Solar Body

(Courtesy of prayersandapples.com)
(Courtesy of prayersandapples.com)

Something happened today that made me act like a mad man.  I was pounding my chest, fist-jabbing my gut and slapping and tapping my body from shoulder to toe as hard as I could.  It was bizarre.  Yet, for a good 45 minutes I kept pounding and jabbing away.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said “all disease begins with the gut”.  The Greek physician said this 2,000 years ago but modern medicine is just now beginning to understand how right he is.  That was what the yoga instructor told us while we were jabbing our stomach to exercise the intestine.

At this point, you are probably thinking what kind of yoga teaches people to punch themselves in the gut.  According to the founder of “The Solar Body,” trees, birds and fish rely on their inborn ability to sustain life naturally.  You and I, as human beings, are an intrinsic part of nature.  Like all life on earth, we were born with a built-in system to create health and happiness.  Inside us, there is an infinite source of energy and boundless vitality.  However, we work our bodies to the point we feel fatigue and stress. We seek help, but unfortunately modern medicine treat the symptoms but not the cause of the problem.  We all know it is better to heal from the source.

The Solar Body yoga teaches simple exercises that raise your body temperature, breathing, and observation of your mind to sustain abundant health.  The exercises will help boost your immune system in the most natural way.  In fact, the most unnatural thing about it might be the way you look while doing it.  See below.

  • Gut jabbing (2 inches below belly button, in yoga is one of the seven main chakras, or wheels of energy throughout the body)
  • Breath in and suck in gut at same time, then breath out releasing it.  This is intestinal exercise
  • Walk in sunlight, starting with 100 steps and then increase it to 10,000 steps per day
  • Tap and vibrate your body, go from the shoulders down
  • Laugh with the whole body for 10 minutes
  • Open arms, relax and breath and release your chest
  • Knock feet together to move blood from upper body to lower body (this is particularly helpful for insomnia and fatigue)
  • Jabbing stomach with a fist while simultaneously turn head to the left and the right will help reduce stress

Exercising using the solar body method for about 30 minutes a day will help revitalize the body from the inside out.  You also want to maintain a vitamin rich diet.  These are your colorful vegetables and fruits like tomato, spinach and bell pepper.  Getting enough sleep is also key.

Remember the gut is the base camp of the immune system.  Doing these exercises, you will feel a warm flow of energy going through the entire body.  If not, then you need to beat yourself harder, haha.  The instructor, also a medical doctor, assured improvement in overall health after about 100 days of continuous practice.

I found a helpful link on Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kjSnzdbmys4

My First Toastmaster Speech

(Courtesty of gingerpublicspeaking.com)
(Courtesty of gingerpublicspeaking.com)

I went to a toastmaster meeting today and delivered my first ever toastmaster speech.  The topic of the speech was “How to Deal with Disappointment.”  It was not a compete disaster, I think.

According to my critic, my first speech was difficult to follow.  I talked a lot about a number of things but did not tie it all together.  He was on point.  I actually went home and added another paragraph to what I wrote a few days earlier on disappointment.

The first speech was a real eye-opener for me.  I discovered that I am not that great at public speaking.  It’s similar to recording yourself singing and then feeling uncomfortable as you hear your nervous self struggle to speak for the first time.  I also learned that no one is born a public speaker.  It is a skill that you perfect with practice.

The Million Dollar Dream

lemonade_stand_signMy dream of becoming a millionaire by age 40 started May 18, 2012, the day Facebook (FB) became a publicly traded company. I poured all my life savings into the FB tickler thinking it would be the next Google, which was trading at an all-time high at about $700 per share that year. My first trading experience was a complete disaster.

May 18, 2012 – I was in Texas with my friend D.W., but spent half of the day on the internet trying to make a purchase. I was unequivocally convinced that FB would be a huge success that I had a purchase order set at market price the morning before. This means that my order could execute at any market price depending on where I was on the queue. I found out about 12 hours later that I had an execution, which is a huge delay for a transaction that should be instantaneous.

FB’s first day of trading was marred by technical glitches that prevented orders from execution. However, I thought it was a positive sign.  I thought, FB is so wildly popular that all that unanticipated orders probably jammed up internet traffic leading to a system crash.  The reality could not have been harsher. The social media giant ended its first week of trading at $31.91 and then dipped lower into the late-teen range; forcing underwriters to buy back shares to support the price. FB  received so much bad press that the verb “faceplant” to describe FB’s performance actually went viral!  And in the midst of a highly publicized and troubling IPO opening, Zuckerberg left with his new bride to some mysterious far-away place for their honeymoon.

I was quite bitter with the situation and felt betrayed. Months leading to the big day there were press events and substantial media coverage and lots of communication directly from the source. There was radio silence by the end of the first week and many weeks after that.  It was not a pleasant feeling watching a quarter of your lifetime savings disappear in less than a week.

What was more disheartening was facing my family members whom I had convinced into buying FB. I feel as if I have let them down. Despite all the bad press, I held on to my millionaire dream, believed in the company and bought a little more of what little money I had left at $32.  Also because I was pot committed.  It was an intense couple of months.

Fast forward to summer of 2014, I sold all of FB at high 70s and used all that gains to purchase a single-family home for rent. I have 8 years left to make $85,000, which is about$ 106,000 a year. This is  a little challenging now living off of a $994 monthly stipend I receive from the federal government in exchange for my service as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer.

The moral of the story is, obstacles and challenges make victory that much sweeter. Set big goals and think about ways to achieve them.