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Writer's Block

The USA is the place I was born. Canada is the place I was raised. Taiwan is the place in my heart.

Updated: 2014-10-06T23:20:18.546-04:00




How did we ever get so far away from that place of pure love and joy?
Where our relationship began
Where a relationship should be
Or return to... when we've lost our way

The reason that commands you to write


Find out the reason that commands you to write;
see whether it has spread its roots into the very depth of your heart;
confess to yourself you would have to die if you were forbidden to write.

--Rainer Maria Rilke

There is only one of you in all time


There is a vitality, a life force, an energy...
that is translated through you into action,
and because there is only one of you in all time,
this expression is unique. And if you block it,
it will never exist through any other medium and
it will be lost. The worlds will not have it.

--Martha Graham

Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail


I've recently weathered some setbacks, and stormy times, but today I was reminded by someone that Thomas Edison made more than 10, 000 different attempts before he was able to create the incandescent light bulb.Now how many people would have given up after 100 tries, 50 tries or even 10 tries?Over the years it is this sense of "faith" or "determination" that has made me refuse to give up and throw in the towel. I am referring to my current writing project which I started in 2004. The actual writing did not start until a few years ago after interviews and translation had been done. Today I also picked up Think and Grow Rich and as I flipped through it, I found some inspiring quotes, like this one:"Faith is the only known antidote for failure."I hate to admit this, but lately I have gone from energized and engaged to exhausted and overwhelmed. I am most definitely not giving up, but I have been forced to reflect and take a hard look at where I am now, how I got here, and where I want to go. I have realized that I need to focus on where I want to be in clear detail, and to stay on track to achieve it. The question is, how do I get back to being energized and engaged?In answering this question I've thought about how I became exhausted and overwhelmed. Indeed, it has already been a very long journey (I started working on this project idea in 2004). I've been working on writing a biography and so first few years of the project involved interviewing the subject of this particular book. Once most of the data was collected, I ended up translating the interviews (which were done in Taiwanese). I choose to do the translation primarily myself with the help of others, rather than paying a translator. I did this because I felt that working on the translation myself was part of the writing process. After all I was the one who had conducted the interviews and knew the line of reasoning behind the questions asked in the interviews. Translation can be very arduous and it is certainly NOT my forte since my Taiwanese is not all that strong. I almost always had a native Taiwanese speaker with me at each interview. Going through the translation and transcription process felt mind numbing to me, and definitely does not seem to stimulate my creativity. While in that process, I found myself nit picking about word choice and wrestling between literal translations, ones that flowed better or those that captured the essence of what the speaker said. In going through all of this I think what happened is that I moved away from the joy of telling the story. I had become exhausted by all of the translation work. There is less of that now, so I need to shift my mindset to focusing on enjoying the process of making this personal story come to life. This is where the creativity happens, though with works of nonfiction, there are of course certain parameters to be respected.I've also realized that negative thoughts and a sense of defeat- from my inner critic and others- have influenced me and more specifically my state of mind. I had gotten stuck in the cycle of Automatic Negative Thoughts (aka ANTs). It's only human. I suppose to some extent most of us are susceptible to the influences around us good or bad. What's important is to recognize that if this happens, you can decide how to react to them and to not focus on them. I'm working to challenge these ANTs by asking myself where they are coming from, what they mean and whether or not they are actually true. Here's another quote from Think and Grow Rich that speaks to this:"The subconscious mind will translate into reality a thought driven by FEAR just as readily as it will translate into reality a thought driven by COURAGE or FAITH."So one thing is clear, I can and should choose what to focus on. I may not have control over a lot of things in life, but I do have control over one thing, that is my thoughts, perceptions and reactions.I will end with this final quote and thought:"Just keep in mind, and remember when you[...]

Does Facebook yield measurable results?


I'll admit it, I'm a social media seminar junkie. In the past month I've attended a record number of expos/conferences/conventions, call them what you will. The first was the NYXPO in early May, then it was the Small Business Expo, the Book Expo, and finally Word Camp this past weekend. My favorite workshops are always the social media ones. I feel that there's always so much to learn about the ins and out of each platform- Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest- what strategies will grow your following, what are the effective ways to use and manage social media, how to understand analytics and what works in terms of monetization.After hearing what all of these experts have to say, I've noticed a recurring theme, which is that Facebook does not really seem to yield reliable, measurable results. True, it's not clear how to measure the return on investment (ROI) for most social media platforms. One of the speakers who has successfully used Twitter for her business shared what happened when she promoted one of her  networking events by inviting people to a Facebook event she had created. Hundreds of people RSVPed, but less than ten people actually showed up to the event.I have to say that I've had a similar experience. I recently promoted an event on Facebook by inviting people from different Facebook groups to attend. Since more than one group was involved, I had to create identical Facebook events had to be created, one for each group. Plenty of people RSVPed, to the various Facebook event pages. But even with more than one Facebook event page, not even half of the people who responded actually ended up coming to the event.For some reason, people's RSVPs on Facebook are not always reliable. I think there are a number of reasons for that. For one thing Facebook's  event page format has changed. It used to be that you could message your invited guests to give them reminder or a special message. But you can no longer to that. Now you can only write on your event's wall with special information or updates for your invited guests.Also, perhaps people simply respond "yes" and "maybe" to event before actually deciding or checking their calendars to make sure if they will be able to make it. And so these events never actually make it onto people's personal calendars. I also find that there is this phenomena of people responding yes or maybe simply "in the spirit of" supporting you. Consequently people forget about the Facebook events that they've been invited to, or maybe they just don't login to Facebook frequently enought or check their Facebook events.  For some reason, people's responses on Facebook are just not that "sticky."I recently gave it a second try. This time, in addition to setting up a Facebook page, I personally invited people via email and e-invitations. I made sure that I frequently posted messages to the Facebook event wall requesting firm RSVPs, reminding people that the event was coming up and enticing people to come early by letting them know that the venue would be offering complimentary drinks and appetizers for early birds.  In addition to this I used an e-invitation and emails to send additional information about the event and reminders. This method seemed to work much better. I had quite a respectable turn out and I'd say that 70-80% of the people who RSVPed did in fact show up at the event. Perhaps it was because this time I was constantly in contact with people and personally checking to see who was coming to the event. So it seems there is nothing that can quite replace the "personal touch," which I don't think people get from being simply invited to a Facebook event.I think a lot of what I've described above is also because everything on Facebook happens so real time, and in the immediacy. There is a fleeting quality about the exchanges and interactions on Facebook. You can't write messages or schedule your status updates or any[...]

Umbrella Karma


As I braved through the raging rain today, I saw the old familiar sight of umbrella carnage out on the streets. The sidewalks were littered with abandoned, dismembered black umbrellas. I always seem to be in need of a sturdier umbrella that will stand up to the elements, but I'm always forever losing them or forgetting them somewhere, so why bother I think. I just need one to keep me dry as I go from point A to point B.

But this past spring when New York was having a particularly long stretch of rain, I actually went out and bought a nice full sized umbrella. As with most of my umbrellas I didn't manage to keep it within my possession for long.

Whatever happened to it I'll never know for sure. I had brought it with me to a networking event at an upscale restaurant bar in the Flatiron district of New York. At the end of the night, when I went to the umbrella bucket to retrieve it, it was no where to be found. The bucket previously crowded with umbrellas was now as empty as the restaurant. Upset to think that it had been nabbed from someone amongst the well dressed crowd of professionals that I'd just mingled with, I hastily grabbed another umbrella of approximately the same size for the walk home. Outside, I opened the clear plastic umbrella, but the spring was broken, so I had to hold my hand up to keep it open and the metal frame had rusted. It was falling apart, so I ended up throwing it away and grudgingly walking home in the drizzle.

I vowed to never buy another nice umbrella. What's the point? Worse than losing it, it had been stolen or taken!

So I went back to buying cheap, disposable, nondescript, black retractable umbrellas, the kind you'd pick up in a drugstore or from the guy out on the corner selling them for $5 a piece.

There would be no retribution for the disappearance of my umbrella, or so I thought.

Today, as I was leaving the yoga studio, I fished for my umbrella out of the communal umbrella bucket, but I couldn't find it. Oh sh-- someone had mistakenly grabbed my umbrella I thought! Assuming that someone had simply made an honest mistake by grabbing my nondescript, black umbrella by accident, I just grabbed another umbrella that looked approximately like mine. I knew I'd need an umbrella since it was still pouring outside.

Out in the rain, I pressed the umbrella's button to open it up and to my surprise it opened up to twice the size of what you'd expect for a retractable umbrella! This was a NICE umbrella with a sturdy metal frame, and it retracts to the same size as most retractables! This umbrella is even better than the one I "lost" in the spring. You bet I'll be hanging on to this one.

In fact, if I ever need to buy a new umbrella, I would definitely consider buying this one- the ShedRain umbrella.

Too bad for the owner of this umbrella, I certainly know how he/she probably feels.

Guess that's umbrella karma for you.

The Last Speakers


Just listened to this fascinating article (which appears on on NPR) about the extinction of language, "In The Search For 'Last Speakers,' A Great Discovery." In the article, linguist David Harrison is quoted as saying:

"People really do value their languages," he says. "And ... the decision to give up one language or to abandon a language is not usually a free decision. It's often coerced by politics, by market forces, by the educational system in a country, by a larger, more dominant group telling them that their language is backwards and obsolete and worthless."

This sounds very much like what's happened in Taiwan when the Kuomintang prohibited Taiwanese people from speaking their native Aborigine, Holo Taiwanese and Hakka languages.

Harrison also has some interesting, though not surprising things to say about how to save a language.

To read the entire article, click here.



What's great about New York is all of the resources and possibilities that this city has to offer, but I've been thinking that it is also so true that "if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere." New York can be a tough place if you don't have the means- the dough, the dinero, the moolah- you know, you get the picture. I have been feeling a lot like this lately as I hear people talking about rent increases, the cost of living, their job searches and struggles to make their dreams come true. Being on the job search again myself, I'm feeling the crunch. Since I have a bit more time on my hands these days, it was very timely when I learned that there was an opportunity for me to volunteer at the Social Ad Summit on Friday, and so I did. I've been wanting to attend a mediabistro event, and this was a golden opportunity to help out and to attend an event for free. Volunteering is such a great way to learn more about an organization and to attend conferences for free. It's a great way to network with people and there's always something to be learned and to "take away from the experience." This leads me to this little bit of unexpected wisdom that I came across and wanted to share. My job as a volunteer at the Social Ad Summit was to work with the event's photographer. After he snapped photos of people, my job was to ask them their name, company and title, which I recorded for the photo captions. After the last picture of the day was snapped, one of the men in the photo handed me his business card before dashing off. It had his blog on it: When I checked out his blog today, I came across this little bit of wisdom written by Cherie Carter-Scott from her book If Life is a Game, These are the Rules:The 10 Rules for Being Human1. You will receive a body.You may like it or hate it, but it’s the only thing you are sure to keep for the rest of your life. So take care of it. You’re not getting another.2. You will learn lessons.You are enrolled in a full-time informal school called “Life.” Each day in this school, you will have the opportunity to learn lessons. You may like the lessons or hate them, but you have designed them as part of your curriculum.3. There are no mistakes, only lessons.Growth is a process of experimentation, a series of trials, errors and occasional victories. The failed experiments are as much as a part of the process as the experiments that work.4. A lesson is repeated until learned.Lessons will be repeated by you in various forms until you have learned them. When you have learned them, you can go on to the next lesson.5. Learning lessons does not end.There is no part of life that does not contain lessons. If you are alive, there are lessons to be learned.6. “There” is no better than “here”.When your “there” has become “here,” you will simply obtain another “there” that will look better to you than “here.”7. Others are only mirrors of you.You cannot love or hate something about another unless it reflects something you love or hate about yourself.8. What you make of your life is up to you.You have all the tools and resources you need to succeed. What you do with them is up to you.9. Your answers lie inside you.The answers to Life’s questions lie inside you. All you need to do is look, listen, and trust.10. You will forget all this.You can remember any time you wish. ---------------------------------------------Definitely rules to live by, and ones I can truly identify with. To me life is all about lessons and constant improvement. I don't necessarily believe that "everything happens for a reason" but rather that we can find lessons in the things that happen to us or in life, and hopefully grow from what we've been through for the better.[...]



Believe in your dreams. If you don't who, who will?

The Creative Life


To me, the creative life is about challenge. It is a challenge that I must meet every day, as I renew my commitment to “doing my art” or that I face when I encounter all of the “elements” that life throws my way. This I find exciting. Maybe that is why these days, I essentially like feeling restless.

To Love


Is to be strong enough
to surrender to overwhelming feelings, allowing them to engulf you
to feel scared and exposed, when everything is laid bare
to be vulnerable
to let go

To Love

Is not about me
Is not about you

To Love

Is about

To Love

Is putting aside your needs and expectations
to nurture and support your loved one's goals

To Love

Is about growth, the growth of both individuals
Is about endless possibility



Today I read an article in which defined adventure as:

A willingness to commit to an uncertain outcome with an open heart and an open mind.

As I read further, the author also talked about how adventure is about taking a leap into the unknown- which does not necessarily have to mean engaging in dangerous, death-defying feats, like scaling mountains, but how it is about feeling comfortable with the unknown, the uncertain.

Opportunities for adventure are around us every day- by making a change to one's routine, doing something completely differently, or learning something new.

This really resonated with me because I'd like to think that I take an adventurous approach to life- at least I try. I also find myself inspired by people who have an adventurous spirit.

Uncertainty is the gift of possibility. I have always tried to face challenges with confidence and this year I feel it is especially important to do so with a sense of purpose and mindfulness.



I love fashion and I love the New York Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week- the glamor, the lights, and the music and energy of live runway shows at the Bryant Park tent. Yes, I've been fortunate enough to see some live runway shows and yes, the models are impossibly rail thin and there are so many posers in this scene, but I take it all with a grain of salt and just enjoy it, and see it for what it all is.

On Saturday I went to an off-site show where a new designer was debuting. It was a much more intimate setting with the theme of a "tea party." Alongside the runway there were small round white table-clothed tables for guests to sit as they sipped tea and sampled finger foods from a long table of mini-food stations.

The show started without the usual fanfare of loud, pulsing music, but with a pianist seated at a grand piano playing familiar sounding jazz tunes.

The models walked out in elegant silk crepe creations- there were billowing blouses, flowing dresses and sumptuous gowns. One by one they came down the runway, and then a second time- this time pausing at three points on the runway for guests to take a closer look, and then a third- pausing again at the same three points on the runway, and again... I stared at their expressionless faces. As the piano music paused and continued, they walked on like droids pausing at their preassigned intervals, as if on an assembly line in an seemingly endless loop. I started to have an unsettling feeling.



When I was younger things came more easily, especially love. I questioned less. I'd fall first and then I'd eventually see the reality more clearly and then have to deal with the other person's faults and shortcomings. Problem is that by then I'd already be in a relationship.

Now I do fall, but but perhaps more slowly and with a critical mind and awareness of the other person's faults. No one is perfect, least of all me. There's always a need to elucidate was is and isn't working for me in these situations. I guess it is a matter of me putting me first and thinking about whether or not I can deal with the particulars of a situation. Or is it?

Sometimes we don't have all the answers to make a decisive decision, so how about just working through it, approaching it like a koan. Maybe there is some learning here as we break out of old patterns, drop the baggage, deal with things differently, let go and maybe we can even grow from the experience.



Life should be lived intensely and without regret.

But sometimes that makes it hard to recover.

Misunderstanding and Miscommunication


The gap between the way one person expresses him/herself and how the other perceives it.



I was focused on what I did not see.
If I did not see it or experience it in the form I expected, it did not exist.
I did not realize it was there right before my eyes all along...
Until I heard it, or rather saw it written in black and white.



With so many things in life I just go with the flow and follow my intuition. But, at the same time, I also know how to make things happen. I like making things happen- this is what inspires and empowers me.

But lately I've been struggling with my feelings and what it would take to make a certain situation work. Maybe it's time to stop working so hard to make it happen, and to let it go.



Lately I feel as though my heart is on hold.



When we find what we are passionate about in life, it may consume us, we may become consumed by it, but there's a fine line to tread- we've got to keep things in check- so that it does not become what we are defined by, what solely defines us, or stops us from living life.



It's always nice to be noticed for one's beauty, especially at the most unsuspecting times... like tonight as I walked out of the subway casually dressed, with no makeup on, bundled up in a thick sweater jacket, in my rubber rain boots. I turned as I heard someone say "Sweetie, you're gorgeous"- in a simple sincere way. I smiled and told him that he just made my day.

Just as much as that made me feel good, I also realize that it is what it is. A passing acknowledgment... for what? I relish these moments, but also know that one day I will "loose my looks", age and such sweet comments will become less and less frequent. But what value is there really in them? I'd rather be admired for my accomplishments, achievements or contributions.

I try not to take it too seriously, or let it go to my head.

What am I waiting for?


That one true thing
something worth fighting for
perfect in its imperfection

Second chances?


Do we get second chances at love?

As a love optimist I want to believe that this is possible. That as they say, there will be a second chance for people who are "meant to be together."

Well before there can even be a second chance with a good chance of success for a couple, I think a few things need to happen:

Sufficient time needs to have passed so that each person has completely let go of the relationship and any hopes or expectations attached to the relationship. And, that in that time each person has to have been able to work on him/herself- understanding and dealing with his/her own issues, and focusing on improving him/herself. I think that the odds would also be better if the first split was relatively amicable i.e. there were no lingering misunderstandings or hurt feelings. And of course, hopefully both sides would be ready and want the same things in the relationship the second time around.

Love Optimist


I guess I'm what you could call a "love optimist." I really, truly want to believe that if there is love, real love, that you can overcome everything, but as the saying goes... it takes two to tango. And there are so many things that go into a successful love equation- having the same priorities, ambition, values, lifestyle, goals, the right timing.

What happens if having love, being in love with each other was just not enough? If you love each other, but... compromises that must be made can't happen immediately, if one of the partners has issues that require a tremendous amount of work to work through , if a person knows that he/she is loved, but doesn't feel loved in the way her or she would like to be by the other...

When this happens it is always difficult and perplexing. You love each other but...

In my younger days, I was so idealistic about love, believing that if I loved someone enough and was committed enough to making it work, working through things- that it could work. Question is, is the situation _really_ a workable situation and is the other person just as committed, willing and/or able to do his part?

Know When To Quit


I've been thinking about this article that I recently read about knowing when to quit. The author gives some compelling reasons and benefits to being a quitter.

The article starts off:

Want to be one of life's winners? Stop trying! You'll be a lot healthier, maybe wealthier, and altogether happier.

And continues by stating:

Recently, psychologists Gregory Miller and Carsten Wrosch set out to investigate the mental and physical health of people who resist quitting, and of those who throw in the towel when facing unattainable goals. The second group—the quitters—were healthier than their persistent peers on almost every variable. They suffered fewer health problems, from digestive trouble to rashes, and showed fewer signs of psychological stress.

Despite the sensibility in this, I refuse to accept this. I am so NOT a quitter to a fault- with most things in life, especially relationships. And I'm not about to change! I really don't like closing the door. With most things in life, I believe more in keeping things open and even putting something on the back burner if the time is not right, and saving it or waiting for the right time. But with relationships it's a different ballgame. There there are certainly times that one must move on for your own sanity and health. But for me that is not an easy thing to do. I am just wired that way, as one of my friends put it, wired "to go to the ends of the earth and back to make a relationship work."

I took an abridged version of the Myers Briggs test recently, which revealed these very accurate things about my personality:

Tends to stick to things until they are done.
Well-respected for their perseverence in doing the right thing.
Likely to seek out and promote relationships that are intense and meaningful.
Tends to be perfectionists, and are always striving for the Ultimate Relationship.
Have very high expectations for themselves and others (both a strength
and weakness).
Natural nurturer; patient, devoted and protective.
Holds a special place in the heart of people who they are close to, who are able to see their special gifts and depth of caring.
Have difficulty leaving a bad relationship.

If you're curious about the article I'm referring to, you can read it here in its entirety.