Monday, May 28, 2012

African Themed Dinner Party

We were going to have friends over for the first time since we were back from South Africa to share some of the pictures and stories of the trip.  So I thought to cook some African dishes.  The gathering coincided with A's 6th birthday so we made it a celebratory African themed dinner party: I put the African table runner I had bought from a lady in the market in Cape Town and the matching napkins on the dinner table; Changed the covers of the pillows on the sofa to the covers I had bought from another lady in Cape Town; used my African teapot cover in making the tea; and served the nachos in the ebony bowl I had bought from a local lady at The Cape of Penguins.  It was fun!

It felt very exiting looking for different African recipes to make; there were ingredients I didn't have like Madras Curry Paste and there were some I didn't even know what they were like Cloves. From a week before I selected a few dishes; then a day prior spent four hours shopping for my parties (A had another birthday party on Sunday geared toward the kids) including from International Food Bazaar for the different ingredients needed.

On Saturday, the day of the party, I started working on my dishes. It was indeed fun to make all the dishes for the first time. All the new smells in the house and the new textures in my pots.  I thought to continue trying new themes for future gatherings too. Thankfully, based on the feedbacks all, the dishes turned out deliciously.

Below are the African Recipes I tried:
Avocado Peach Salad


Bobotie SA traditional dish

African Chicken

African Desert

Friday, May 25, 2012

Simply Significant

It was at the end of a long long day.  The day had started as early as 6:50 AM with work meetings starting at 7AM. Then meetings with unclear messaging, meetings with argumentative colleagues, meetings with inefficient managements, meetings with disturbing side discussions, delayed meetings, long distance conference calls with unclear voice qualities, promised phone meetings that never happened, and yet another meeting rehashing already decided upon subjects.  I felt exhausted at past 4:40PM; yet I knew that the actual works for the day was just going to begin, to execute my deliverables and respond to compiled emails and manage my work.
I started walking toward the farther break room to grab some water when a colleague raised his head from his work station and asked how my day was going. I just sighed with a tired smile.  He asked "busy?". "Busy cannot describe it!" I replied. He said "there is lots going on young lady! (what he always calls me, young lady) I know what's going on.". Still tiredly I said "yeah, I know, there is really a lot going on!".  At which point he said "and all good stuff, thanks to you, young lady!" and clapped his hands quietly a couple times.
It was a trigger for a big smile: yeah, you are right I said. "All good stuff! That's exactly what I needed to hear at this moment! Thank you!". He nodded with a smile and turned to work. I turned away toward water fountain, feeling appreciated. As simple as that!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Snail Story

At the last retreat, Cemalnur Sargut told us the story of Moses when he invited God to his place and God agreed.  He cleaned the house and prepared meals and waited but all that showed up at his door was nothing but only a dog.  At night he complained to God why he didn't show up.  God said He did, and asked if Moses met the dog!
So, after that, I tried to pay attention to what showed up at my door.  It was April time and the raining season.  So our front yard and the walk way leading to our door was filled with snails.  They usually left a mark of their path while crawling on the ground, so you could trace their path back.  I usually didn't like seeing them on the path, I wanted them in the yard and not on the path.   After this story I tried to like the snails even on the path.  Every morning I opened the door and there were at least a couple snails at the door.  I would say "hello snails" and smile and walk carefully around them.
One morning, after it had rained, I opened the door and voila, there was a snail at the door.  But this was no ordinary incident.  This time, he had traced an almost complete heart for me!  I smiled cheerfully and said "I love you too Snail! :)" and walked around him.
I wish I had a photo of the snail and his mark to share with you!
I met with D.D. today very briefly and our conversations reminded me of that day.
My exercise: to see God in people too.  I know it is a difficult practice.  But I like challenges!
Yaa Hu

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Secretly Happy

If feeling secretly happy is an accomplishment, I feel a great deal of accomplishment today.
Yesterday, while waiting for my flight in the San Jose airport, I bought the SUCCESS (June 2012) magazine for the first time.  Motivation why?  It had a picture of Scarlett Johansson on it.
I remember when I watched Lost in Translation (2003) back in the time I thought if I were an actress I wantedto be like her.  My impressions of her: she is the most confident and content young lady I have seen on TV and on the red carpet.  She doesn’t have this perfect cliché body or even face but she has this utmost sensual air about her; it seems as if she feels calm and sexy.  That is what I admire about her.
Now, her interview with SUCCESS magazine just validated my impression of her.  Her words resonated with me when she said “Doing something that feels impossible makes me feel incredibly happy.” I know what she means!  “I’ve never done a project where I wasn’t sure it would make me secretly happy.” Hah!  Love it.
I really enjoyed my spent on the magazine in the end.  Reading through different articles I kept highlighting here and there and scribbling my thoughts on the side of the pages.
It is amazing how when you really seek something, it seems as if the universe just unveils the means you need to achieve it in front of your eyes.
I feel determined to execute a successful tasks in the near future.  It will be my first project of the kind, but I know I want it to be successful. It is already “emotionally draining”, “exhausting” at times.  Because  it seems impossible.  But achieving it, when the time comes and God willing, is going to make me feel secretly but incredibly happy. Exactly how Scarlett worded it.

Today I had a field ride with our territory manager, M.K. in Peoria, IL.  He picked me up this morning seeming to know exactly what he wanted to accomplish with my presence.  And what was amazing about it, was that he seemed to be certain that I could carry on to his goal.  I felt confident in me too.
We ended up having a couple good meetings and I was very pleased with the feedback I received.  M.K. seemed to be pleased too.  I felt once again how much I liked what I was doing, how secretly scared I was in my first field rides and how confident I felt today. How impossible such day seemed once and how secretly happy I felt today.

And things got even more fascinating; we had a three hour ride to St Louis, MO. We chat, the whole ride.  And granted that is nothing unique because if I find ears who are interested to listen, talking is no trouble.  But this was not me talking the whole ride, this was a reciprocating conversation.  A real nice conversation and above that, fascinating.  We chat about business a ton but we also chat about movies, and books, and religion, and people, and thoughts, and achievements, and striving in being a better person, and meditation, and spirituality.  It was so refreshing and nice being in the field and have the opportunity to carry real conversations.

M.K. has been a former Marine, and he seems proud of it.  It was very easy to talk to him about it.  I had met former marines before but never talked to them about it.  I revealed my take from it, which has been mainly through books and movies and NPR programs.  He was open to listen and to discuss it.  I was impressed by his openness about it.

Today was one of those projects that made me feel accomplished, connected with the universe, grateful, and secretly happy.

PS: Today was my 2nd anniversary in Marketing!  I survived! ;)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

I Love My Mom Because

A's school had a celebratory program for mom's yesterday.  All 25 kids and all 25 moms attended the one hour program.  The kids sang to us and performed for us and sang some more. Then, the kids one by one, showed us a drawing they had made of their mothers, and read a sentence: "I love my mom because ..." and the endings of the sentences were mostly in the line of "she takes me to places", "she watches TV with me", "she plays with me", ... all endearing and pure from their little hearts.  I found these all a reciprocating love: I love "her", because she "does" something specific "for me".
A was one of the last ones to read his sentence: "I love my mom because she is very cute". Ah!  All the moms aah-ed and ooh-ed and turned toward me.  I felt sheepish and yet my eyes welled with tears.
I realized later that there were three kids who loved their moms because of who they "were": "funny", "generous", "very cute".
This was the best mother's day present ever!  I really am thankful to Ms P, A's teacher, for all the work she had put in it.
I love my mom because she is very wise!  And, she is very cute too! ;)
Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Unreachable Memories

After dinner I suggested us to step into the backyard. The weather was pleasantly warm. The sprinklers were on which added a clean fresh moist to the early evening cool breeze.
Three hummingbirds dived toward the spraying water and two flew away at once. But one of them, which seemed both thirsty and brave, hung around flapping his wings. He just moved briskly between the drops of the water spray, bathing under the fading sun.
A was standing on the other side of the lawn. Staring at the water sprays, he suddenly darted into the lawn, laughing innocently at his getting wet, running his way across the lawn, making it to the other side soaked.
I told M how this very scene was the reason I wanted a backyard. For A to recall, one day, the adventures of  his warm weather nights...  Like many childhood memories of my summer nights growing up, the smell of the wet lawn, the fresh umbrellas of the trimmed black berries bushes, the cool breeze of the night. My parents and siblings and once in a while a visiting guest, a dish full of summer fruits, the very ripe nectarines, apricots, cherries; the offerings of the night on the high deck after dinner; Everything that was so ordinary at the time... Unreachable memories of the grown years.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chocolate Memory

Like a delicious after taste. You already had the smooth creamy velvety chocolate. It's gone.  Now licking your lips may bring back some faint memories; but the memory never equates the reality of what it was.
So is some of the experiences in life. At the time they were sweet, desired, happy, wanted. But the experience was time-bound despite your ignorance.
Now, all remained from it is the memories. Some make you smile. Some make you sigh. Some make you shiver.
There is no such thing as everlasting chocolate.