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Monday, March 23, 2009

City Girl

Once the clock strikes midnight I may not turn into a pumpkin but I will be on a plane headed back east to stay on a farm in Western Massachusetts (Petersham) for a week. My flight leaves at 11:30 pm April 15th and I will be off to live a simpler life, even if it is only for a week.

Now, the image of me on a farm even boggles my mind, that I’m sure my loyal followers can’t even imagine. But I love it. This is why I had to laugh when I saw this story today. This is what I think me as a farmer could POSSIBLY look like:

This commentary is better:

It's like looking in the mirror. You can take the girl out of the city but you can’t take the city out of the girl.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Challenge 2009: Biel Body

In 3 months I will be the maid of honor in my Best Friend’s wedding. In exactly 3 months I need to have the body that rivals Jessica Biel. Here’s how I ended up participating in a wager that could be make this the longest 3 months of my life.

Thursday night I enjoyed an amazing dinner that easily doubled the recommended daily caloric intake. Friday morning I woke up feeling giant as a house. So I made a new commitment to my personal health and fitness level. I turned over a new health leaf, packed my gym clothes and packed a healthy lunch. When I got to work, a colleague jokingly sent me an email asking if I brought my stuff for the gym. I respond with an affirmative, to which he replied, “Ut oh, what happened?” as if the only thing that would get me to the gym would be some sort of emotional/self-esteem crisis (which could very well be true). To which he responded with, “Let’s have competition!” I took the bait and here I am now. I have 3 months to be in the best shape of my life. The loser buys the other person dim sum for the rest of the year. There is a panel comprised of 5 judges who will determine the winner. Those are all the details we’ve worked out so far. At the end of this all….if I win I will post the before and after pictures.

Seven Reasons Why I’ll Win:
  1. If I know I CAN win as something I WILL…I am fiercely competitive when it comes to things I can control and have extraordinary will-power. C’mon, I’m a Virgo.
  2. I think people think that I’m not at fit as I actually am because I still wear clothes that I wore when I was 30 lbs heavier so I look larger than I actually am. I certainly have a ways to go but not an unrealistic amount.
  3. He is cocky and has no fear of the underdog. That is motivation enough…call it the Rudy-syndrome.
  4. I think it’s easier to tone up and lose weight than it is to muscularly lean down, which is what he has to do.
  5. My eating habits are way better than his. My natural food allergies and abstaining from alcohol gives me a leg up.
  6. I really want to look slammin’ for Melissa’s wedding. I’m training for the Seattle Half Marathon in June and the Seattle-to-Portland in July. Besides my vanity, the reason for doing this is also so that I survive both events.
  7. Aristotle said, “Probable impossibilities are to be preferred to improbable possibilities.” It is a probable impossibility that I could actually pull this off.

So, Biel-body, here I come. Judgment day is June 12. All encouragement and prayers are needed and welcome.

On that note: I had a really tough workout yesterday and can hardly raise my hands above my head. This makes getting dressed and sneezing very painful. Today was a day of rest and tomorrow is cardio and a short strength circuit. I will do my best to keep you posted, oh devoted readers.

Stay tuned.

The Sabbath

It’s Sunday. Three things I love about Sunday: 1.) waking up, turning on 103.7 The Mountain Sunday Brunch Broadcast and enjoying a breakfast at my own pace; 2.) Church – the opportunity for fellowship, worship, centering myself, practicing perspective, gratitude, reverence, humility, etc; 3.) Sunday nights with friends and watching Big Love.

I woke this morning to snow, giant snow flakes falling. My heart sung because I thought it would be the perfect excuse not to go to church. Bad, I know. My feelings about the church in general are for completely different post. I had spent the morning with pops and really had no reason not to go. Even though I really didn’t want to go but I found myself getting ready and thinking to myself that if I went for the first hour I could always leave.

I wanted to participate in the Sacrament which is really my favorite part of church. The sacrament centers me and allows me the uninterrupted opportunity to express my gratitude for all things I have been blessed with. I pray for many things, all things from the farm, my family and friends, complete strangers, guidance for myself, the world, and alike.

In Relief Society, a girl introduced herself to me which isn’t unusual, they are a very friendly bunch. Her name was Hope. There was something about her presence and energy that embodied the very definition of her name. We got to talking she shared that she is a nurse having worked at the UW hospital, Children’s, and now at a nursing home. She spoke with a gentle kindness and brightness that was so sincere it wasn’t unnerving like nice people usually make me feel.

“You cannot be too good. Patience is heavenly, obedience is noble, forgiveness is merciful, and exaltation is godly,”…we read this today and it really resonated. I hope I can take this to heart this week.

For some time I’ve had a really hard time forgiving someone. I’ve been harboring hurtful feeling towards someone who I felt had done me wrong. As I have been working on forgiveness, we read a scripture that I think speaks towards how to forgive. It reads, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one anoth. But this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if you have love one another.” - John 13:34-35. I’m still working on it.

I’m glad I made it to church today. It wasn’t overly “church-y” but it was very fulfilling and calming. There was Hope, there was love, there was beauty.

I close on this Sabbath day with this prayer: Dear Lord, I pray that we might be a light in a very dark world, that we may open our hearts and respond to those in need of compassion, a gentle smile or an extended hand. I pray for eyes to see and ears to hear the opportunities You give us to be better people. I pray for my family, friends, and those around the world who are restless, hurting or afraid. May they find some peace tonight. Amen.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Family Ties

On June 6, 1976, a family from China immigrated to the US with hope of opportunity and a better life. Shan and Choi Wong, along with their three daughters, Joanne, Joyce, and Jennifer touched down in the land of opportunity. Shan Wong is the son of my grandfather, Gar Wong, Sr. My grandfather had two families, one family through an arranged marriage in China of which he had two sons. (Believe you me, the ironic reality that my grandfather may have been a polygimist is not lost on me.) He had "traditional" American family here in the states. And by traditional, he had 4 kids in 5 years with my grandmother and then the divorced after the youngest (my mom) over unknown reasons (perhaps the other wife and kids back in China had something to do with it).

My grandparent's courtship was somewhat unusual given the circumstances. Grandma was a mere 18 years old (had already been married and annuled once, so the story goes). Gar was in his early 30s. The Japanese had bombed Peal Harbor, and in the minds of American, anything that looked Japanese was Japanese. At a dance hall one night, my grandma and good friend of hers went out in the international district (the story goes that they were the only white women there). Gar approached grandma, asked her to dance and she swept her off her feet.

Meanwhile, while my grandfather and grandma were busy having a family here in the US, the Wong family back in China was being raised by a single mother. Gar Sr.'s lives were literally worlds apart.

Over 57 years later, the results of their actions gathered around a table enjoying dim sum, sharing stories and reminicing of times gone by. I sat around the table watching the definition of family evolve. I watched as generations tried to piece together what happened, what were the motivations, how difficult it was to leave Hong Kong, listen to stories of growing up very different lives.

Our family history on the Wong side is something out of The Joy Luck Club, maybe even more salacious and titilating. I think about opportunity, pioneering, and the American dream as all members are citizens raising families and living generously here in the states. I think about the struggles they faced, lives they have built for their families and the opportunities On all sides of the family there as been a violation of probably every one of the 10 Commandents handed down to Moses, some of them multiple times. But I can't help but believe that they did the best they knew how.

These past few months have been very extendend family-intentsive. With two deaths in very large extended families, and the reunion of the other families, I can't help but think about the definition of family. In chinese culture the definition and provisional responsibility is very much based on blood lineage. In Western culture its very much based on a neat nuclear concept. But, as we attempt to define what is family in modern Americam and who belongs to whose family, I look at my extended family, and sit in awe and amazement. We are separated by culture, age and even language, but the familial energy and the eagerness by every to learn about each other was amazing to witness and be a part of.

We live in a culture that wants to define the family as a man and a woman, who have children, raise them, who then grow up to be coupled and procreate. Repeat. Perhaps, the Western definition of family is what complicates our relationships and prevents us from reaching out a helping hand, or begin a healing process, or establishing new families when our blood ones deteriorate. It permiates our legal system, our religious structures, our commercial structure, all the while, including and excluding people from belonging. Once we define boundaries of who and who does not belong in a family, people allow themselve the excuse of, "oh, that's not my responsibility, that's someone else's kid," further removing ourselves from each other and pushing more toward insular, small lives. There is a larger social issue at hand in the last statement that is much larger than this space, but I hope that acknowledging that the nuclear family in today's American society is at the very least a partial contributor to the status of our nation's swelling numbers of foster children, broken homes, single parents left to fend for themselves and depend on government assistance, etc, helps to identify where we can start to solve problems.

Don't get me wrong here, I love the notion of the nuclear family and when it works it works really well. I have been blessed with goodly parents who have loved, raised and provided for me well. I hope to have one of my own one day. But when it doesn't work for some people, the definition of the family excludes those whose nuclear family has failed them. I have no solution but merely wanted to acknowledge that beyond family, I believe we have a responsibility to one another that crosses blood and familial lines. I believe we are called to care for one another, provide for one another, give to one another, and learn from one another and forgive one another as families do. I can't help but think that my family, with all its excentricies, would not be what it is if it weren't for people who openned their hearts and homes and accepted them as family.

There are countless stories of generosity that have ensured my family's survival and success. To all those who reached out and provided, I thank you.