Posted in fiction

Once Upon a Time…

Once upon a time, there was a royal newlywed who lived in a castle nestled in the forest nearby a glistening lake. The beloved couple ruled over the kingdom to the best of their ability honoring the previous leaders who recently passed away. The king and queen were deeply in love, but for reasons unexplained, they had difficulty bearing children.

Image Credit: Pixabay

They decided to visit a village of fairies who lived within a grove of jacaranda trees near a majestic waterfall. There was one famed fairy, in particular, who could help them with their barrenness, and her name was Florence.

The royal couple packed for food and supplies for a day’s trek, saddled their horses, and ventured out into the forest. The cool breeze whipped around them as their steeds galloped onto the soft ground. They smiled at each other the moment they listened to the resounding sound of the waterfall swishing on the boulders.

The jacaranda trees were a sight to behold! Lavender blossoms gently fell about them as the fairies warmly greeted the king and queen. One of the fairies welcomed the couple into her home, and put on the tea kettle. “How can we help you?”

Blessed by her hospitality, the queen smiled. “We’re looking for a fairy named Florence. My husband and I are in need of her assistance.” The fairy gazed at the queen thoughtfully for the briefest of moments before she left to fetch Florence.

The king clasped the queen’s clammy hands as they waited, “We will be fine, I’m sure.” The queen gazed at his hazelnut eyes warmed by the twinkle in his eyes and his reassurance.

“NOW…. who is need of my assistance?”

The queen was startled by a loud, sing-song voice. The couple turned around taking in the sight of Florence. Her hair was a brilliant shade of ultraviolet which framed a lovely heart-shaped face. Her crooked nose was accompanied by a gleaming broad smile.

Breaking out of a trance, the king introduced themselves. “My wife and I are having difficulty bearing children, but we would love to raise a family someday.” Florence nodded in understanding, “You came to the right fairy. I can help you with that!”

In her satchel, she took out some magical blackberries she harvested while searching for various herbs. She mashed them in a bowl and poured special nectar on them to mix. She gave the concoction to the king and queen, “Here you go! Drink this, and it will grant your dreams.”

The couple was willing to be open to various possibilities, and obediently they drank the delicious drink excited by what will unfold in the coming months.

Posted in Concepts, Dreams, Quotes

10 of My Favorite Feelings

“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart”

Helen Keller

I love that when I come back to WordPress after my journey in the world, I feel enveloped by the comfort of the community. Chocoviv invited me to this fun tag, and I can’t help but join her! You’re welcome to join!

Posted in Nature, poetry

#OctPoWriMo10 – Feeling a Feathery Rainbow

If I ever had the chance to feel the feathers of a…

….Dove, will I get to touch purity?

PURE
Pristine
Purified
Everlasting peace
Virtuous perfection
Immaculate cleanliness
“calming influence on the mind”

…Cardinal, will I get to touch courage?

BRAVE
Backbone
Enterprise
Determination
Valor, Grit, Heart, Boldness
Mental fortitude takes guts
“tenacity, resoluteness”

...Parrot, will I get to touch excitement?

BUZZ
Briskness
Energy
Enthusiasm
Buoyant exuberance
Lively effervescence
“animated vivacity”

…Chick, will I get to touch adorableness?

CUTE
Charming
Delightful
Approachable fluff
Lovable, cherubical
“stopping everyone in its tracks”

…Peacock, will I get to touch benevolence?

KIND
Blessing
Selflessness
Friendliness, good will
Relief, advocacy
Granting magnanimous
“generosity, compassion”

…Bluejay, will I get to touch devotion?

CARE
Faithful
Reverent
Warm, affectionate
Steadfast, consecration
Sentimental romantic
“conscientiousness assurance”

…Hummingbird, will I get to touch joy?

BLISS
Cheerful
Paradise
Glee, Encouragement
Solace in hopefulness
Triumphant beatitude
“felicity, euphoria”

Transience of beauty flies together

Day 10 – Touch-Clarity Pyramid
Images credit: Pixabay
Posted in flashback, Quotes

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
Posted in Books, Culture, fiction, flashback, Quotes, Volunteer Experiences

A-to-Z Challenge: Volunteer

“There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children who have not found the right book.”

Frank Serafini

Fueling the Desire to Rise Up to the Challenge

This past school year I have been volunteering with a local youth literacy group helping improve the reading levels of two second graders. It all started when I was listening to a young girl I encountered while helping sell books and other types of media at a local flea market with my friends. She told me she hated reading and as a teacher’s pet, she only reads during school.

I have to admit that her statement stung a bit. The love of reading has been instilled in me ever since I was a young girl. The library is my second home and it was where I felt the mental freedom to explore. Even if it wasn’t hers, there are so many stories out there that I think she would enjoy!

At my school, there was a research symposium at my school where I read the poster about literacy research. According to its community profile, San Antonio has the 2nd highest illiteracy rate in Texas. According to the US Census 2005, even though it ranks 7th among US cities in population, it is 60th in literacy. (Source: City of San Antonio Planning and Development Services Department. Statistics and Map Book. Rev. February, 2010. )

After catching up with a former colleague who is now the youngest state representative in our state legislature and listening to his teaching experiences, I felt inspired and decided to sign up to be a volunteer to understand the common problems that these kids were facing.

Reading Buddy Experience

“Whenever you read a good book, somewhere in the world a door opens to allow in more light.” 

Vera Nazarian

I was pretty excited to learn more about the two students I was assigned to. I enjoyed learning about the boys’ families and friends, what they love, and what they want to be when they grow up. It was difficult at first because they didn’t like the books that the program had selected. So I invited the boys to browse the shelves for a book they would like. They introduced me to the world of Mo Willems. Apparently, they already treasured the adventures in any book written by Mo Willems.

“If you would tell me the heart of a man, tell me not what he reads, but what he rereads.”

Francois Mauriac
The adventures of Piggie, Gerald and friends

I showed them an atlas, and they seemed really excited to learn that there was a world outside their bubble. They enjoyed following along the words of my origami book. I read them stories from RL Stine and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I really enjoyed this experience, and come to deeply care about these kids.

“Fairy tales in childhood are stepping stones throughout life, leading the way through trouble and trial. The value of fairy tales lies not in a brief literary escape from reality, but in the gift of hope that goodness truly is more powerful than evil and that even the darkest reality can lead to a Happily Ever After. Do not take that gift of hope lightly. It has the power to conquer despair in the midst of sorrow, to light the darkness in the valleys of life, to whisper “One more time” in the face of failure. Hope is what gives life to dreams, making the fairy tale the reality.” 

L.R. Knost

Previous Posts in 2019 A to Z Challenge 
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Posted in awareness, Books, Culture, Events, Quotes, Social Justice

A-to-Z Challenge: Becoming

“My hope is that this book will inspire everyone to tap into their own journeys of becoming and to share those stories with one another.”

Michelle Obama

Who will you become? I recently finished Michelle Obama’s fascinating book, “Becoming”, for our alumni book club. The Washington Post does a good job covering key scenes in her memoir in their article, “For eight years, Michelle Obama watched every word. In her memoir, she’s done with that.” For me, the title “becoming” reflects a desire to constantly grow, evolve, and learn . She urges all of us to take action on our “becoming” by concluding:

There’s power in allowing yourself to be known and heard, in owning your unique story, in using your authentic voice. And there is grace in being willing to know and hear others. This, for me, is how we become.

CHICAGO, IL – NOVEMBER 13: ” Becoming”, a book by former first lady Michelle Obama, is displayed at the 57th Street Books bookstore on November 13, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. In the book, which went on sale today, Obama describes her journey from Chicago’s South Side to the White House. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

I want to share a few quotes by Michelle with you and reflect on them because they really hit home. It’s going to get a bit “real” as her penetrating stories have got me riled about one story in particular…

A few days ago, I was upset as I was listening to my coworker’s story. She had severe bruises on her arm. Her boyfriend was drunk one night and punched her to demonstrate just how strong he was. He said some of the most awful things to put her down. Marriage is definitely off the table and she moved back home with her mom. Through her tears, she tried to reassure me that she was alright. I gently hugged her.

My hands involuntarily clenched into a fist as I was doing my best to control my anger. I absolutely don’t condone this violence towards her. I ponder on the sort of culture we currently live in for her to tell me she’s alright. Her tears tell me, “No, I’m miserable. Help me.” It was very difficult for me to find a shred of sympathy for this weak, insecure guy. I knew he was going through his own problems. His parents divorced and he felt trapped in his life, so he took it out on her. No excuse. I wonder if he will feel any regret for what he has done, but I feel like he’s desensitized to many things.

It is so important to find people to lift you up, who believe in you, and who will support you. As I read her book, I felt inspired by how she defined what power meant.

After my previous post, I thought these quote resonated with me. The “what-ifs” could stop you from taking action and making any sort of progress. There will always be people who don’t know anything about you who will say all sorts of things.

Previous Posts in 2019 A to Z Challenge
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In response to:

  • Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: Condone
Posted in Events, flashback, Quotes

3.2.1. Quote Me – Hope

Rory has tagged me for me for his challenge 3.2.1 Quote Me about hope this time around. If there has been anyone that has taught me about hope, it’s my parents. They braved a perilous journey across torrential seas because they knew there was a better life elsewhere, and they were willing to sacrifice literally everything to get there.

Hope has a cost. Hope is not comfortable or easy. Hope requires personal risk. It is not about the right attitude. Hope is not about peace of mind. Hope is action. Hope is doing something. The more futile, the more useless, the more irrelevant and incomprehensible an act of rebellion is, the vaster and more potent hope becomes.

Chris Hedges
Posted in Culture, Dance, Events, Food/Recipes

Lunar New Year

Chinese American artist Kam Mak created the new Forever stamp
Photo Credit: latimes.com

#haiku – A Prosperous Wish

Radiant blossoms
Joy overflowing within
Life begins anew

Hello everyone! Just want to let you know that I’ll be gone for the first week of February celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) with my family. In the mean time, I would like to share a few fun facts about the celebration and a hope for a better 2019 year for all of you! There are several countries throughout South, East, and West Asia that celebrate the new year based on the lunar and solar cycle as well.

Lunar New Year is coordinated by the phases of the moon and based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. So every year the lunar new year falls on a different day. The recent lunar eclipse was fascinating, wasn’t it?

Photo Credit: express.co.uk – Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse

Tet celebrates the arrival of spring. It’s an occasion to forget the troubles of the past and hope for a better new year. Typically there is a spring festival called Hoi Xuan. There’s lion dances and festivities in oriental market squares. Some churches celebrate by lighting up Chinese lanterns at night, organize a carnival, play some games, and host entertainment.

Chinese musicians and dancers perform a lion dance under red lantern decorations during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth in Beijing February 2, 2011. Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is China’s biggest holiday, giving migrant workers their only chance of returning to their home provinces with gifts and money for the family. It represents the world’s biggest annual mass migration of humans. UPI/Stephen Shaver
Photo Credit: inkxlenses.tumblr.com

Families typically prepare by cleaning up their homes and creating or buying special holiday food such as banh chung, banh tet bamboo soup, sticky rice, sweet coconut/ginger/sesame peanut brittle candies.

New year greetings are typically shared along with giving lucky money to children or elderly in bright red and gold envelopes called “Li Xi”

Photo Credit: Beth Williams

There are variations on how Vietnamese families pay their respects to ancestors that have passed away and invite their spirits to celebrate with them. In my family, we typically set up and decorate an altar like in the picture below.

Photo Credit: waittravel.com

Many women and girls of all ages enjoy wearing colorful and elegant ao dai dresses to celebrate the occasion.

Miss Vietnam 2010 photo shoots with children during Tet season
Photo Credit: english.vov.vn
Photo Credit: news.zing.vn

If you guys are more curious about the language, here are some common Vietnamese Lunar New Year phrases and vocabulary. Pronunciation is another story! 🙂 (Credit: Tumblr.com)

Phrases

  • Chúc Mừng Năm Mới: Happy New Year
  • Cung Chúc Tân Xuân: Gracious wishes of the new spring
    Sống lâu trăm tuổi:  Long life of 100 years (said by children to elders in exchange for lucky money)
  • An khang thịnh vượng: Security, good health, and prosperity
  • Vạn sự như ý: May myriad things go according to your will
  • Sức khỏe dồi dào: Plenty of health
  • Cung hỉ phát tài: Congratulations and be prosperous
  • Năm mới dồi dào sức khỏe: I wish you a healthy new year 
  • Năm mới tấn tài tấn lộc: I wish you a wealthy new year 
  • Năm mới toàn gia bình an: I wish that the new year will bring health to all your family 
  • Vạn sự như ý: All wishes come true 

Vocabulary

  • Tết Nguyên Đán: Vietnamese New Year Lunar Festival
  • Nhận tiền lì xì: to receive “lucky money”
  • Lì xì / tiền mừng tuổi: “lucky money”   
  • đi chùa để cầu …: Go to pagoda to pray for…
  • gói Bánh chưng: Make Chung cake
  • trang trí nhà cửa: Decorate the house
  • Đi chợ hoa: Go to flower market
  • Thăm bà con bạn bè: Visit relatives and friends
  • Xem pháo hoa: Watch fireworks
  • Đường phố được trang trí với những dây đèn đầy màu sắc: streets are decorated with lines of colorful lights
  • Hoa đào: peach blossom
  • Hoa mai: apricot blossom
  • Cây quất: The kumquat tree
  • Gạo nếp: Sticky rice
  • Đậu xanh: Green beans 
  • Mỡ lợn: Fatty pork
  • Chúc Tết nhau: exchange New Year’s wishes  
  • Bao lì xì: red envelope
  • Ăn diện: dress up
  • Đánh bài: play cards
  • Dưa hấu; watermelon 
  • Dừa: coconut
  • Xoài: mango
  • Đu đủ: papaya
  • nhang: incense
  • Bàn thờ: altar
  • Mê tín: superstitious 
  • Điều cấm kỵ: taboo
  • Quét nhà: sweep the floor
  • Vào ngày mùng một Tết: on the first day of Tet 
  • Đưa ông bà: Bid their ancestor farewell