Being Productive

Been thinking about putting down my schedule on a spreadsheet as I felt like I’ve been running around for very little productivity. With my constant schedule change, it’s difficult to keep up with everything. Sat down this afternoon, jotted down a To-Do list and started checking off the items. It’s a much clearer view of what a week looks like in my life when I put it on paper. Embarrassing thing is, I’ve been teaching goal setting and time management to my students lately and I haven’t been the best example. Have you ever felt that you don’t have enough time, or are not making progress on achieving your goal because you are not there yet? Besides my weekly planner, I also spent some time going over my financial details since my return home the last year. Before I visualized the numbers, I always thought I’m about to go bankrupt because I’m not saving up to my goal due to constant employment changes. Though the numbers are not pleasing yet, it does show a gradual climb. With a new contract in hand, I’m expecting a more steady earning for the next year.

Ever since I made up my mind on heading towards my country dream, many ideas and doubts came up. Patting on my back that I’m still emotionally enthusiastic about my plan and taking small steps every day towards it. My new challenge is to define daily goals to achieve. Throughout my experience, big pictures are easy to form. However, not being able to figure out what to do every day to get there has always been my weakness. Another important activity is to maintain a progress report or a checklist. What I learned today is that progress is hard to notice as small steps are oftentimes neglected during the journey. Don’t forget to take some time to look at what you’ve come to so far in order to appreciate the effort being put in. Think of it as a weight loss report. Set realistic goals and stay nice and steady on taking all the necessary actions every day. Then celebrate the little progress every other month or so.

Like what I told one of my teenage students who’s struggling to save money, “save $20 every day and you’ll reach your target in 4 months!” His face lit up when I broke down the steps to reach his goal. I guess he never thought it could be that easy. But hey, this is how we live life. One day at a time.

Lost and Found

Found something from my cabinet today that brought me back in time. An assignment for my high school history class on Titanic! Not to directly reveal my age, haha, let’s just say the movie just came out during that year. Like many girls, I was crazy about the story and everything Titanic. One thing you must know about Taiwanese education is that there was no paper writing assignment at school, at least during my time. All we had were endless exams. So when my history teacher asked us to write a paper about a historical event of our choice, my brain could not stop popping out ideas on how I would construct my first and ever portfolio. Note that history was my least favorite subject and I always failed it. For me, history is just a bunch of ancient dramas people put out in the past. And I had no interest in memorizing all the where, when and who. It was just not a subject I learned to master. Yet when I found this portfolio I put together back in the .com era, I couldn’t stop smiling at my first masterpiece.

This find got me thinking: if I could put so much effort to create something only to share my passion regardless of the result it would bring, I can do anything. I remember sitting at the computer in dial-up connection for hours each day for at least a week, researching and translating the information I found online and on the newspaper. There was nothing else I wanted to do but to work on this project and share the mind blowing behind-the-scene stories of Titanic. As you can see, I received a high score. In fact, I received the highest score for this assignment. My teacher commented that my report was an interesting and fulfilling read, and that she really appreciated my going above and beyond in completing this assignment. 

Maybe the universe is telling me something by leading me to this old school project at this time of my life when I struggle to believe in my dream. The energy and motivation I had while working on this assignment all came back to me when I re-visit this childhood production of mine. This project was not built for fortune, reputation or a higher rank in class. The score did not even count towards my history class. Nevertheless, it was a story I loved and an activity I enjoyed. It almost felt like being in love, in love with the process of sharing my passion and constructing a vision.  Isn’t that what life is all about?

This is a story I found on China Times some Sunday. When I saw the boy, I was immediately captured by his disappointed, helpless and hopeless look. Tears welled up in my eyes and my heart was filled with sorrow. So, I decided to share this in my portfolio. I hope everyone in the world will contribute a little of what they have to save our less fortunate human fellows from their sufferings. May all citizens on Earth would one day live a happy, peaceful and abundant life.

Kid suffering in Rwanda
Compared to the less fortunate, I’m blessed with more than I need.
I included this column at the end of my portfolio because I was deeply drawn to the helplessness in his eyes. How can I complain when someone is out there fighting for their lives?

Right at the Doorstep

Couldn’t decide whether to head to the pool or do Yoga at home, so I went on a bike ride. ;P Ever since I found the photo in one of my previous posts, Freedom, I’ve been dreaming about traveling along the woods. Memories of past road trips abroad kept flashing back. Coincidentally, the reservoir in my neighborhood shares a similar scenery and is a popular bike riding route in town. When I entered the “bushy” hiking area, the road almost resembled the place on that photo. A smile came to my face while I pedaled hard over the hills. Then a sudden revelation hit me. Right here at my doorstep is the kind of place of my dream, and I’ve never noticed its beauty. No, it’s not a different country, but it’s a similar terrain.

Must it be somewhere far away for you to get the satisfaction of traveling? Must travelers go somewhere far to gain insights about life?  If we look closer, maybe what we’re looking for has always been right here at our doorstep.


I believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so you can learn to let go. Things go wrong so you can appreciate them when they’re right. You believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself. And sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.

~Marilyn Monroe


The past couple of years have been an important lesson for me to reexamine my attitude towards life and everything I do. I remember having this enormous will to land myself a job back in the states when I graduated from grad school. There were many bumps and I went through a lot of emotional struggles, but it still happened at the end. I will never forget the thrill and fulfillment that came over me when I held the offer letter in my hands. I did it! For the first few years in my new employment, I busted my ass. I was so grateful for the opportunity that I cherished every moment and always performed above and beyond. It was a great achievement for me at that point of my life. And I was living my dream of living and working overseas at an international corporation.

Little by little, can’t remember when, my attitude towards the job and the company started to change. After all, it’s not easy to stay positive when everyone else around me had negative opinions about the company. So, I started to blame the firm, like everyone else, for not being accepted for other positions I applied for. It’s all other people’s fault. At the final year of my work visa, I had to make a decision on whether to stay or leave. Being so full of hate and complaints, I decided to go backpacking in Australia. After all, it was once in a lifetime opportunity for me back then, as I was turning 30 and approaching the age limit for a Working Holiday Visa. I thought, if the US doesn’t want me, maybe Australia has something better to offer.

Initially, I planning to stay in Australia for at least 2 years by undertaking the kind of employment to make myself eligible for a second visa. I thought if I had more time, there may be a greater possibility for me to find something permanent. Well, my trip ended in less a year. And I have no one else to blame but my own attitude of thinking I’m better than other fellow backpackers because of my background in the states.

Another country did not excite me very much at the time because I’ve lived and worked outside of my home country for many years at that point. Therefore, I did not relate to other young backpackers who were intrigued by every little thing happening around us just because it happened in a different country. Employment wise, I focused on applying for full-time jobs in the hope of elevating my immigration status. After all, I’ve done that before so why can’t I now, right? Well, an important thing I forgot is that I was not in the same country I had been. Therefore, trying to apply the same strategies in a different environment simply did not work, no matter how similar the situation may be. Then, I failed to keep myself on a farm job, which was the requirement for the second visa I wanted. Working on the farm was not at all something I wanted to do, but something I “had to” if I want to move to the next level. Now that I look back, I guess I just didn’t want to stay in Australia that bad. Plus, I spent most the time comparing it to the states and complaining about everything I didn’t get. Was there anything my heart desires? After a traveling spree around the country and another part-time job that I wasn’t really into, I packed up and left for home. 

First year at home, I kept the same arrogance thinking I deserved better, jumping from one job to another. A year later, after many other life events, I finally have the revelation that I need to stop repeating a mentality that clearly doesn’t work. Just over the weekend, I was offered a part-time job opportunity that I would usually consider beneath me. After weighing between where I want to go next and what I need to do now to get there, I decided to accept the offer with appreciation.

Many of my good friends told me that I am terrible at hiding my emotions, as they clearly show on my face. Hence, when I don’t enjoy what I do, it’s not surprising that I fail to do a good job. Having been through these life experiences and ended up where I still don’t want to be, I forced myself to take a closer look at myself. What do I really want? Where do I really want to go? Turns out my heart has always known the answer to these questions but my brain simply wants to argue for argument’s sake.

Having a goal is a powerful thing. It helps develop determination and motivation. Maybe that’s why traveling has always been therapeutic to me. Despite any physical discomfort during the journey, I can always find ways to indulge my mind and soul. And when I know where I’m heading, I learn to appreciate whatever comes in between. Trying to find that goal has made me feel lost and helpless. But I believe everyone has something deep inside that burns. However mild the spark may be, don’t let it die. One breath at a time, and you can bring it back to life. Make sure to appreciate everyone and everything that gives you a leaf, a stick or a branch to grow that fire.

LIVE life and never stop chasing passion!

Little Ray of Sunshine

I’ve had a delightfully lazy morning today. It doesn’t happen as often as I’d like, but I spent the first part of the day still in my PJs, reading mags, having my coffee, an impromptu cup of tea with my beautiful Mum (inside the house…I don’t tend to venture outside the house in my nightie!) and I stumbled across an article in the August edition of Good Health magazine which has had me thinking all day.

It was about regrets of the dying, based on Bronnie Ware’s experience as a palliative care nurse and her book Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departed. Death is a funny thing, isn’t it? We’re all going to have to face up to it one day, yet we spend our lives trying to brush it under the carpet as if it’s some kind of taboo subject…

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Keep the Faith

When life strikes me down, Michael Jackson’s songs always have a way to lift me up. Gotta keep the faith and put my heart on the line!

Lyrics from Keep the Faith:

The Power’s In Believing
So Give Yourself A Chance
‘Cause You Can
Climb The Highest Mountain
Swim The Deepest Sea
All You Need Is The Will To Want It


Just Keep Your Eyes On The Prize
And Your Feet Flat On The Ground
Keep The Faith, Baby
Because It’s Just A Matter Of Time
Before Your Confidence Will Win Out
Lift Up Your Mind
Before Your Mind Gets Blown
Some Things In Life
You Best Just Leave Them Alone
Go For What You Want
Don’t Let It Get In Your Way
You Can Make It Happen
But Ya Got Ta Keep The Faith
Gon’ Keep It Brother
You Got To Keep The Faith
Yeah Keep The Faith
Gon’ Keep It Sister
You Got To Keep The Faith

Lyrics from On the Line:

Nothing good ever comes easy
All good things come in due time
Yes it does
You gotta have something to believe in
I’m telling you to open mind

Gotta put your heart on the line
If you wanna make it right
You’ve got to reach out and try
Gotta put your heart on the line
If you wanna make it right
Gotta put it all on the line

Never Give Up!


For some reason, driving gives me a sense of freedom. It’s been about 2 years since I was behind the wheel. Yet, the moment I sat in the driver’s seat, it all came back to me. Due to a recent employment change, I have to commute to a nearby city. To many westerners, a 30-50 minute commute on the train or by car may be every day life. However, for this small city on this little island, 10 minutes on a scooter can feel like a lifetime.

Good that I used to commute at least one hour to and fro in LA traffic. Therefore, 30 minutes is like driving to a neighboring community. Luckily, traffic does not exist in the part of Taiwan I live and work in. And I hope it stays that way…(knocking on wood) The moment I got on the open highway, it just felt like the world is under my control. And being on the road is probably the only stress-free moment I have in this country I call home but don’t really feel at home. Images of open country roads constantly fly by my mind. I could almost breathe the fresh air, smell the scent of the woods and see that endless road ahead of me. That “anything can happen” anticipation is what I really miss and love about traveling. Today’s first commute finally awoke that energy buried deep down in me since my return a year ago. It shouldn’t be long before I put myself on the road again, as history has proven it unlikely that I surpress my calling. And maybe this time, I’ll let it all in.

There Shall be a Way, If There is a Will.

This is so far the real-life cottage most similar to the cottage of my dream. Browsing photos of country scenes and cottages never fails to calm me down. As I proceed with the development of country tour packages, many regulatory concerns are brought up. And the practical sides of business have been the excuses I backed down from many other opportunities before.  It just seems to me that building a small business should not be that difficult. After all, isn’t that how blogging started? j/k

Through chatting with friends, I discovered an unpleasant revelation. My passion towards life was somehow lost during my “soul searching” journeys. Nothing could excite me or interest me anymore. Traveling became part of the routine, too. I picked up some ideas here and there, and taught myself some technical skills like creating a simple logo and building a website on CMS. The learning process was fun and frustrating at the same time. Hence, I have not been able to carry out anything I started before. And that’s all because I wasn’t that into those ideas. 

With the shocking realization that I might be stuck where I am for the rest of my life, I started  browsing photos of the beautiful nature to generate some peace of mind. And that was when the longings for a country lifestyle in a cottage started to become clear. With a sense of self discipline to not quit half way this time, I examine my heart’s desire every day with the reminder in the title.

Everything we see now used to just be a thought. There shall be a way, if there’s a will.

What Does Traveling Mean to You?

When it comes to traveling, what is the first image that comes to your mind? Skyscrapers, exotic food, foreign people, language barrier and cultural shock? I’ve always been curious about why I’m so hooked on traveling. When managing a country cottage B&B became a vision for my future, I started to realize the part about traveling that I love the most is the People. Whether they are random local people on the streets, accommodation hosts, or fellow travelers, meeting people is always the part of the journey that gets embedded in my memory.

Good hosts give warm welcomes and make us feel at home. Adventurous travel companions share their stories and open our minds. Locals show us hidden spots and unknown history of the area. In my opinion, traveling wouldn’t be fun without making a few acquaintances from all over the world. What do you think?