Saturday, November 29, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Traditional Buddhist Blessing and Healing Chant
Just as the soft rains fill the streams, pour into the rivers and join together in the oceans,
so may the power of every moment of your goodness flow forth to awaken and heal all beings--
those here now, those gone before, those yet to come.
Thursday, November 27, 2008
- Our attitude! I am so proud of my kids and myself for having such a positive attitude about moving to another country. Another country whose language we don't speak or understand. There were some rough patches--like people making fun of us or staring at the kids for being mixed race. Strange, unfamiliar things often appeared on our plates or unwanted at our table. But we made our way through it all...and mostly with big smiles.
- Our created communities! The kids made so many good friends in China...as did I. The people here--both locals and expats--have been nothing but wonderful and welcoming and so incredibly interesting. I am personally thankful for all the good people who have taken care of us--from Stacey and Richard (Seattle buds) to Emily Minor (wonderful blogger) to Yucca to my college BFF Shelli to my neighbors Barbara and Pam to Zhang Shifu and Sue Ayi. To new friends like Meg and John who remembered a story I was telling them weeks ago about a real Chinese cutting board...and then sourced one for me!!!! I am especially grateful to awesome kids with enormous heroic hearts who befriended my kiddos: Sophie, Martha, Olivia, Colleen, Matthew, Orion, and Mason.
- Our sense of adventure! We might not have known more than a handful of words to start, but the kids and I ventured all around Shanghai together--from ancient water towns to city parks to neighborhoods. We ordered local food at dives. We negotiated like pros at underground markets. We rode the subway. Heck, we rode camels on the sand dunes in the outermost reaches of China!
And people say that the Chinese eat weird stuff? Please. This marshmallow topped sweet potato casserole of American mystery somehow qualified as a VEGETABLE dish at our school potluck.
Today I am thankful for my sense of ADVENTURE. And for my peeps who share the same interest in life.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
And then as yet another present, Alvina sent me the first teen reviews for my book. Reading each review really felt like opening gift after gift. Here's one of my favorites:
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Mops? I thought. You've got to be kidding.
But as I looked more closely at the fabric-strung mops, I realized there really was something to her idea. Suddenly, I saw the grand ubiquity of mops everywhere in Shanghai: propped against windows, doors, trees. On sidewalks. Inside homes. Alongside shopfronts. And I noticed the grace of their bedraggled Medusan hair. And I saw a story unfold...Wallflowers pretending to take a much-needed respite...
And looking pensively out the window for her prince to come...
Monday, November 24, 2008
One of the most amusing parts of living in China has got to be finding Chinglish signs. Here's one we spotted at the Shanghai Wild Animal Park. Note: the Fried chicken flesh lump was remarkably tasty.
Today I am thankful for all things funny that make me giggle.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Where else can you see a baby elephant sneaking in snacks while the zoo keeper is gazing off in the distance?
Where else can you see bears and monkeys riding bikes? (I have to say, the bear on a bike was disturbing and wrong in a way that a sea lion performing stunts does not bother me.)
But the best moment of all was convincing my spouse's driver to play hooky with me and the kiddos. We cajoled Zhang Shiful into the park with us. His joy at watching the animals was a highlight only seconded at his joy at spoiling my kids with lunch at the park.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Aladdin couldn't have seen more gems than I did at that showroom, tucked in the industrial Free Trade part of Pudong.
Friday, November 21, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
A Chinese hair wash?
She nodded. Brought me to the her favorite hair washing salon in the French Concession where we were immediately shown to swivel chairs. I knew I was going to like this new experience when the hair wash started with a 20 minute shoulder and neck rub. Nice!
Afterward, my masseuse-slash-hairdresser approached with a bottle of liquid something-or-other that she squirted directly onto my dry hair...which somewhat alarmingly began to suds up in a way I've never experienced in the shower.
After much scalp massaging and scratching, a pompadeur of clouds appeared on top of my head. (Note to any reader who happens to be doing a book report on one of my novels: you do NOT have permission to include the pictures from this particular blog in said report. Do you hear me?)
After our hair was hosed down, scalps massaged again, we ended back in our swivel chairs for a blowdry.
And finally, shiny hair and all, we were ready to hit the town at M1nt, a private club that just opened officially 3 days ago.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Today I am thankful for the sheer joy of SERENDIPITY. It completely floors me that out of all the millions and million and millions of people in Shanghai, I actually bumped into ONE person I know. I love that. It makes me feel as though I have established a community of my own in this big huge city, so far from home.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Since I haven't been able to write for the last several weeks, one of my writer-buddies, Dia Calhoun, suggested that I do whatever last research I can do for my next novel while I was still in Shanghai. Brilliant!
So I hauled myself over to People's Square in Shanghai where I had heard there was a marvelous Costume Museum on the 5th floor of Metersbonwe. Think of the clothing store as the Gap of China, the leading casual wear company with something like 5,000 stores.
The museum is FREE and open to the public. The collection of clothes was absolutely breathtaking. Had I more time in Shanghai, I would call the curator and ask for a private tour. Apparently, the museum has amassed some 10,000 items. Only a small portion is on display. How cool would it be to see more of the collection--and get the inside scoop on each of the displayed items: where they were acquired, what each symbol meant...
On the hunt for my daughter's PANDA PAJAMA PARTY, I decided: decorate with bamboo! This led me back to my local flower market--that huge warehouse with vendor after vendor of all matters flora and fauna.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Today I am thankful for all things Cute that make me smile.
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Use what your intelligence says is right and discount the rest. Rely on only what you know is absolute fact. Listen to what you know is true in the deepest part of your heart. Be careful of what lies on the surface of your heart as it may be misleading. The fewer people you talk with the better. Express your feelings with only one or two people who you know extremely well and you have had long, trusting relationships with. Use them as sounding boards only. Do not talk to others who you do not have this type of relationship with as they don't know you well. Do not make any rash decisions that might be difficult or impossible to undo. Remember time is on your side. Evaluate your investments carefully before you decide what you are to do with them. Before you say or do anything imagine what consequence that word or action might have on any and all possible decisions you might make in the furture. Do not become a recluse but free yourself of anything that you do not have to do. Take short vacations from you worries so you can periodically un-clutter your mind and think more clearly. Take the very best care of yourself physically. Take time to pray and meditate.
Today I am thankful for Wise Women who guide gently yet firmly.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I've been asking my kiddos what last adventures they want to take with me in Shanghai before we leave for home: visiting the Science & Technology Museum? Touring the historic Jewish neighborhood? Shopping in the Underground markets? Geocaching?
As for me, my biggest regret isn't what I didn't see or do in Shanghai. It's not having the time to turn acquaintances into True Friends. Like with Margaret, my dear buddy Shelli's friend.
From Malaysia, Margaret's half-Pakistani, half Malay with the most extraordinary childhood story. She is a walking novel. Just look at her! She's one of the most beautiful and sexy women I've ever met.
Today I'm thankful to have met marvelous people throughout my travels in Shanghai. However abbreviated this time in China was, I have been blessed with interesting mentors and fierce protectors along the way.
Monday, November 10, 2008
"Let yourself begin anew. Pack your bags. Choose carefully what you bring, because packing is an important ritual. Take along some humility and lessons from the past. Toss in some curiousity and excitement about what you haven't learned. Say your good byes to those you're leaving behind. Don't worry who you will meet or where you will go. The way has been prepared. The people you are to meet will be expecting you. A new journey has begun. Let it be magical. Let it unfold."
--Journey to the Heart Daily Meditations
So today I will journal about what I will bring on this next journey: humility will need its own enormous duffle bag. And the lessons? Whoo boy, I will need an entire cargo container for all the lessons I've learned in the last two weeks. All the things I wish I could redo, rephrase, rethink.
Today I am thankful for the Right Words that people are feeding me. Thank you so much for your loving support.
Sunday, November 09, 2008
(Note to my germ-phobic sister who just finished a microbes class in nursing school: the bucket was lined with plastic. I am assuming--HOPING--that the plastic liner is changed with every client. So far, no weird fungal action on my footsie tootsies, thank you.)
I mistakenly thought foot massage = foot massage. But no! My back was tended to first. Thank goodness. My shoulder muscles were so tight that the woman leaned her scant weight into me.
For tiny little women, these masseuses had surprisingly STRONG hands as they pressed and pummelled and slapped (yes! slapped!) my calves, heels, and toes.
Bottom line: painful, but oddly therapeutic and weirdly pleasant. Better than a full-body massage in the states, for sure. And for less than $10 an hour, I can see why people get addicted to these.
Two thumbs up. (Or should I say, two big toes up?)
Today I am thankful for the kindness of girlfriends and strangers who have been taking such exquisite care of me.
Friday, November 07, 2008
Hip down to the dog's four-sneakered paws.
Fashionable or questionable?
Today I am thankful for all things ludicrous that make me laugh.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Today I am thankful for girlfriends who know how to divert me and force me out of my big, must-be-packed-soon house...even if it is with shopping.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
So in the midst of sorrow, I am trying to find some things (anything!) to be thankful for. Here's what I came up with:
- My family. From my parents who said, "Come Home." To my in-laws who echoed, "You are always welcome here." To my sister who stands tall next to me no matter what. And especially my kiddos who are Pure Love and Light itself. For all of them, I am thankful.
- My friends. No one has better, more loyal, more loving friends than I do. No one. I am truly the most blessed person. Who else has friends who meet them at the airport...with presents for the kiddos? Who has friends who don't take no for an answer and show up on my doorstep anyway? Who has friends who are housesitting, yet say, "You need to move back? No problem!" For all of my buddies, I am thankful.
- My readers. On the darkest of all days, a teen reader emailed me, telling me that my forthcoming book changed her perception about herself. And then she quoted me back to myself. As odd as that experience was, those words were actually the right message at the right time: "To dream, you must starve doubt. Feed hope." For all the authors who write so that we can find solace in story--and the readers of this work, I am thankful!
- And today...after returning to Shanghai and having to visit the Police Station to register myself yet again, I am counting myself as very THANKFUL not to have to stand in that endless line, serviced by one lone man, ever ever again. As an addendum, I am also thankful not to have to return to the Public Security Bureau in Shanghai. Honestly.
4. By the time I return to the states, there will be a NEW president. And for THAT, I am exceedingly thankful.
So my project in the next three weeks is to continue adding to my Thankful List. I will be feasting on hope. Will you?