Our Next-Door Neighbor

Heartwarming stories from “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books are considered timeless literature for me. I can pick any story from any of these series at any time in my life and feel wonderful and uplifted. There’s a quote that reminds me of an event that happened during Christmas time many years ago.

We once had a neighbor who moved from New York into the house next to ours. She was a friendly and attractive lady who my siblings and I always waved to her and wished her a good morning. At the time, my siblings and I were all young children.

She had some mannerisms that were unfamiliar to us in the suburbs. She also had a habit of gardening in the front yard in her bathing suit catching the attention of any males who happened to walk their dogs into our cul-de-sac. My visiting cousins made fun of her, but I came to her defense saying that she never caused us any harm and looked out for us. I suspected that even if she heard my cousins speaking behind her back, she wouldn’t have cared what they thought because she was confident in who she was.

One Christmas day, we heard our doorbell ring. My siblings and I ran to the front door and looked outside the window. There was a wrapped package outside our door. I saw the back of a blond woman’s head and she herself was dressed in a lush red Christmas coat like Mrs. Clause. It was our neighbor, but she didn’t stay to chat probably due to any language barriers.

During a time when we didn’t have to be weary of potential bomb packages outside residential homes, we naturally brought the box inside and opened it since it was from our non-malicious neighbor. Inside our neighbor packed all sorts of goodies for us. We were amazed all all the snacks, toys, and refrigerator holiday magnets she packed for us.

I think back on this memory and feel that it’s a special moment when a neighbor wants to keep the spirit of Christmas alive in spite of the increasing cynicism and all things that go on in the world. I’m grateful that we had such a great neighbor while growing up!

In response to :

Freedom of Expression – Father!

Richa’s prompt – Father!

This is one story of an incredible man who I have admired ever since I was a young girl!

Image Credit: Pixabay

“I’m finished!” Dad exclaimed as he completed the final touches of the sand castle. The seagulls in the brilliant blue skies flew above us as mom threw bread pieces in the air.

I looked up after admiring some seashells in the sand by my feet. I gasped at dad’s sculpted masterpiece. He didn’t use any sand buckets or shovels. He created several large sculptures shaped by his hands utilizing a drip technique mixing sand and water. Always an engineer even when he’s on vacation! He is always passionate about building things. I remembered browsing through his box of college textbooks, and seeing his thoughts written in the margins of the pages.

Dad came from a rural area of Vietnam and had humble beginnings. Adventurous and full of mischief, he loved telling jokes as a kid and still does today. Although, he came from an impoverished neighborhood, he didn’t let it stop him from dreaming amazing big dreams and plans to make everyone in his life as happy as they can be. He pursued a different path than his brothers and sisters who were monks, fishermen, and painters, yet he gleaned from the lessons learned from his siblings. Intense, hardworking, and a determined go-getter, he took quite a few risks to reach some meaningful goals in life.

Image Credit Pixabay

Walking away from battles that don’t matter is not weak; that takes a strong person. That’s a mark of honor. Fall seven times, stand up eight.

– Japanese Proverb 

He was a strong soldier, but he didn’t want hurt anyone if there was no reason for it. Deep down, Dad is a gentle soul who doesn’t like confrontation, and yet I’ll never forget the day when he went to a peaceful protest to show his support for Vietnam’s fight for independence from the communist grip. Dad’s quiet presence was in solidarity with the activists. He showed me to fight for what is important.

When I encounter the world around me and see much suffering, I realize that he has given me so much and how blessed I am. Growing up, I felt liked I lived a life of royalty. Dad treated me and my sister like princesses, my brothers as princes, his wife, a queen. I will always say I had idyllic childhood and he played an instrumental part in that!

I remembered when dad would faithfully drop us off at the library every Saturday to explore the wisdom of others for the day. It was my safe haven and my second home.

His worst nightmare is when he sees me in pain. He comforted me when I had my own nightmares. He taught me there’s harm in hanging on to things that have hurt you.

Dad, you are so generous and forgiving. You bring joy to your friends’ lives by helping them laugh and see a different point of view. You’ve instilled a love of music for us by giving us a karaoke set so we can sing the night away and giving us a piano as a way to express our emotions and feelings.

I hope you know how much I love you. You’ve given me your very best, and I never want to let you down. I know you would never share any of this as you are such a humble man, but I want you to know how extraordinary you are.

Happy Belated Father’s Day Dad!
You are a light in the darkness
From Daddy’s Little Girl
Image Credit: Pixabay

A-to-Z Challenge: Synergy

Synergy between thoughts and feelings reads the universe like an opened book.

― Toba Beta, My Ancestor Was an Ancient Astronaut
Image Credit: Pixabay


One day, I was going shopping with my mom and we headed out to the Mexican store to get groceries for the week. When we arrived, I was surprised to see that the store merged together with the local Korean market that was once down the street. It was fascinating seeing the two formally separate business working together side by side to share resources and learn from each other.

Last year, I attended this professional workshop at school related to the Stephen Covey’s book “7 habits of Highly Effective People”. I had a small goal of envisioning more smoother team project dynamics. Yeah…still a work in progress! 😉 As I was studying along with the instructor, I came across this cool term for the first time: synergy.

Etymology Origins

Image Credit: Pixabay

Curious about the sound of the word, I looked its roots in the dictionary and this is what popped up!

1650s, “cooperation,” from Modern Latin synergia, from Greek synergia “joint work, a working together, cooperation; assistance, help,” from synergos “working together,” related to synergein “work together, help another in work,” from syn- “together” (see syn-) + ergon “work” (from PIE root *werg- “to do”). Meaning “combined activities of a group” is from 1847; sense of “advanced effectiveness as a result of cooperation” is from 1957.

Online Etymology Dictionary

What is it?

Bruce Mayhew describes the definition in his post “7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Habit 6: Synergize“:

Synergy is what happens when two or more forces choose to work together with open, trusting intention to embrace each others differences and to overcome the challenges that will inevitably arise.  The benefit of synergy is that the end result will be something that is far superior to anything that could exist without the cooperation and sharing of the forces.

Bruce Mayhew

He goes on to discuss the general requirements for the highest level of communication to help form new ideas. Synergy is a concept that would definitely affect business negotiations and partnerships developments!

  • Have one common vision – one common goal
  • Be different
  • Have a sense of self
  • Stay open to differences and new ideas – stay authentic
  • Embrace trust
  • Accept the better way will likely not be their way…100%
  • Offer respect to everyone – everything
  • Be able to apologize and forgive
  • Practice mindful listening (listen with empathy)
  • Maintain an open desire to understand
  • Control negative judgment
  • Stay with Win / Win (not Negative synergy Win/Lose or Lose)

Previous Posts in 2019 A to Z Challenge 

In response to:

30-Day Song Challenge: Day 29

Today’s challenge is a song that reminds you of your childhood. I think of a lot of kid films, musicals, and sing-a-longs. 🙂

The music from the “Sound of Music” was a staple in my childhood. Edelweiss, sang by Christopher Plummer, is very touching. I played this on the piano often.

I sang a lot of Vietnamese karaoke songs for kids. My dad bought us a set of discs with karaoke tracks for us to sing along. It was my favorite stuff to sing on the weekends with my siblings. One of the lines is loosely translated, “Open the doors and let the sunshine in so we can dance and play.”

Sang “Tomorrow” from Annie for a school play when I was a child.

Really loved Disney’s Anastasia’s “Once Upon a December” and still enjoy it.

I sang Zippety Doo Dah for another school play when I was 8 years old.

30-Day Song Challenge: Day 21

The song, “Stacie’s Mom”, was very popular during the time I was in high school. It’s about a young boy’s infatuation with his girlfriend’s mother which obviously isn’t going anywhere. I first heard of the song on a Dr.Pepper commercial. A few of my friends would create parodies of the song when someone’s mom does something awesome like “Colin’s Mom”.

Here is the funny Dr.Pepper commercial with the incredible soccer mom and her mini-van! 🙂

Calculus took up a chunk of my high school life! It’s where most of us learned the various types of infinity and its uses in limits and continuity. The Mathematics Stack Exchange explores more about infinity in its forums. When most of us were struggling with the process of learning calculus, our mothers intervened and offered support. Some of the moms got together and baked cookies for our weekend group studies so that we would pass our tests. 😀

The original video is meant for mature audiences. 😉

In response to:

The Transfer Student

A sonorous gong echoes throughout the room calling attention to the students. The music instructor begins the lesson by showing us how to sing the song “Fifty Nifty United States” which will help us remember the names for our upcoming geography test. We laughed at this catchy tune and started talking among ourselves which prompted another mallet to the gong from the instructor. “Time to learn a few notes on the recorder!” the elderly man with ruddy cheeks enthusiastically yelled out.

It was fifth grade, and I was ten years old. One of the results of redistricting of the city was that my brother and I had to transfer to another school at the beginning of the year. We were both very sad. My brother had say good bye to one of his Korean friends which he attempted to keep up with as a pen pal. My class wrote me a series of creative letters on construction paper (which I still have till this day) wishing me good luck at my new school.

It’s not always easy being the “new kid” on the block, but I looked at my new surroundings impressed by the indoor fountain and a grassy field that was at least four times larger than the one at my old elementary school. I thought to myself, “Maybe this isn’t going to be so bad.”

The reading teacher, a prim, gentle woman with straight hair properly trimmed right past her shoulders, let us out for recess. While the other kids grabbed the balls to play four square and basketball, I decided to sit underneath a tree at the bottom of the hill. There was another girl a few yards away nearby staring off at the clouds in the sky.

Suddenly, a crew of four girls showed up and the ring leader called out, “Hey! Come here! I got a surprise for you!” I walked up to her, and she handed me a series of soft round brown balls. “It’s chocolate! I want you to eat it!”

I walked back to my seat as the girls ran off to play four square. I looked at the balls suspiciously, “What is it?” The girl who was once a few yards away staring at the clouds was now sitting next to me on the bench underneath the tree.

The girl quietly laughed, “It’s dirt molded by water or spit.” I dropped the balls as she introduced herself, “Hey, my name is Cassandra.” She had short black hair, and a look of pure determination. She told me she wanted to be a nun someday.

I stuck really close by her for the rest of the year figuring it was smart to create an alliance with someone who knew her way around the place. That made my transition a little bit easier, and we became good friends as we continued talking about how our days went in the shade underneath that glorious tree.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

A Continuation from The Renowned Duo

The tension that Eliza felt earlier didn’t compare to the electrifying shock she was feeling now. The hairs on the back of Eliza’s neck raised. She looked down at the crystal ball. The burning bridge was gone. She abruptly pushed her chair back and glanced back up at Aileen’s now green eyes who were gazing back at her.

Ciaran attempted to lighten the stifling atmosphere and shrugged, “Well, we all got relationship issues, don’t we?” Aileen began to speak, “Eliza….” Eliza cut her off and politely gave her farewell. “Nice to meet you Ciaran and thank you very much Aileen! I….I gotta go check up on my booth. ” Eliza was shaken as she pulled back the curtains and hurried out of there before they could respond.

black and pink
Eliza thought to herself as she ran back and stumbled into her booth. She felt beguiled going in there to be entertained thinking that it was just going to be some vague fortune. Instead, she’s got a starter prompt for Instagram hashtag trend #FlashbackFriday. “What the hell was that? A relationship in my life I need to mend? A way to critique it without being hostile? …. BUSINESS PARTNER??”

320px-Statue_Kateri_TekakwithaShe breathed in deeply trying to catch her breath. Her anxiety simmered down as she she rubbed the pink and black beads on rosary necklace her grandmother gave her. “God, I miss her.”  Eliza’s memories wandered off to the days that she spent with her grandmother during the summer months as she gazed at the beautiful statue of Saint Kateri Tekakwitha protectively peering over the courtyard in a state of bliss.

Eliza quietly thought to herself about her origins, where she came from, and pondered on her past relationships. “I feel no shame. I’m proud of where I came from. I was born and raised in the boondocks. It’s where I learned about livin’. Its where I learned about love. Its where I learned about working hard, And having a little was just enough. It’s where I learned about Jesus.

Before Eliza’s parents moved the family out to LA, Eliza formally lived in the boondocks of Maine. Miles of lush wood lands surrounded her and her neighbors’ cabins. She enjoyed playing hide and go seek with her friends. When the weather got foggy, she felt like she was in a mystical wonderland, a woodland fairy fluttering about from tree to tree. As she got older, she enjoyed going out on dates gazing at the constellations of all the stars in the dark sky while afterward making out with the handsome boys in the shadows of the trees. I can hear that lullaby of the midnight train….


“Eliza, be a dear! You get a line. I’ll get a pole. We’ll go fishin’ in the crawfish hole. ” Grandma Gigi loudly called out from the kitchen as the train passed by. Eliza loved night-time fishing with Grandma Gigi. She would share all sorts of hilarious stories as they munched on some s’mores by the fire next to the crawfish hole. Camping with her was a blast. Her grandmother taught her many skills to survive in the wild as they sucked on honeysuckle blooms while avoiding its poisonous berries. “I can taste that honeysuckle. And it’s still so sweet when it grows wild.”

She was the proud owner of Corlanke’s Bar and Grille where her team eagerly served many types of margaritas, beers, and wine, fresh sirloin steaks, whiskey BBQ pork, deep fried clams and shrimp, salmon, tilapia, swordfish, pasta, salads with a healthy palette of vegetables and fruits from the local market, apple crisps, cheese cakes, and delectable pies (mmm…. Grandma Gigi’s specialty). Satisfied customers left for the night. The waiters and waitresses were busy closing down for the night counting change from the tills, washing dishes, and sweeping the cherry wood stained floors. Eliza occasionally helped out by wiping down the glasses or wrapping silverware in napkins after school.

Eliza opened her eyes and woke up from her flashback. “One thing I know. No matter where I go, I keep my heart and soul in the boondocks. It’s why I’m back in town. I knew that I’d eventually come back.”