Fresh Fridays: What Really Scares Us

“Are you John?” I asked, walking into the room.

“Nope. Wrong patient, that’s not me,” he wore a dull, flat expression.

I hesitated.

The corners of his mouth crept upwards into a sheepish grin. His gray hair peeked out from his US Army Veteran cap. Continue reading

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The Secret

September 12, 2012

“Once you decide on your occupation…you must immerse yourself in your work.

You have to fall in love with your work. Never complain about your job.

You must dedicate your life to mastering your skill.

That’s the secret of success… and is the key to being regarded honorably.”

– Jiro Ono

The greatest sushi chef in the world, Jiro, in Jiro Dreams of Sushi, works relentlessly to master his skill.  Everyday, for the past 70 years, he has committed to making sushi that tastes better than the sushi he made the day before.

How much of my own life have I dedicated to mastering my skill?

For 12 years, I played piano.  Continue reading

Six Precious Words

you never know what comes through that door... (photo from Italy, 2014)

you never know what will come through that door…
(photo from Italy, 2014)

A knock on the door interrupted my lunch.

“Soapie? They’re calling downstairs. Someone can’t breathe.”

Standing up, I swallowed my last bite then flew down the stairs.

Sweat dripped down his pale face. His chest heaved up and down, as if he were struggling to carry a boulder in his arms. Continue reading

The Definition of Home

the definition of home

my students leaping with joy

Waiting at the gate to board, I searched for my boarding pass. My hand brushed against a Ziploc bag.

Fresh coconut slices.

I held the bag in my hands. It was a bit of a nuisance; if the juice leaked from the bag, it would soak my journal, laptop, chargers, and travel pillow. My backpack was already cramped.

But Ba had insisted.

~ ~ ~

Before coming to the airport, Ba stood in the kitchen, holding a fresh coconut.

“We have fresh coconuts?!” I asked, a bit bewildered.

“It’s for you, កូន (daughter), drink the juice,” Ba grabbed a mini axe, the size of a butcher knife, then hacked away at the head of coconut. He flipped the coconut upside down and drained the clear coconut juice into a tall glass. He carved the pearly, white flesh out into thin slivers, and packed them into a ziploc.

“Drink.” He pointed to the glass. “For the plane ride.” He handed me the bag.

It was a short trip home, and I didn’t get to spend as much time with my parents as I had wanted. Actually, I spent the least time with Ba. It was the weekend before Father’s Day, and I was not able to stay another week to celebrate Father’s Day with him either.

Yet he continued to care for me, in the best way he knew how.

Food. Continue reading

Healing Scars

Growing up in America,
oblivious, naive I was…
The Killing Fields
it’s just a movie, right?

So I imagined.

Grueling 16 hour workdays,
daunting ESL classes,
who has time to grieve?
Oh, the plight of my refugee parents…!

So I ached for them.

Starving in a labor camp,
crying in upset skies, and
imprisoned by the Khmer Rouge,
my parent’s memories, too horrific… Continue reading

I slept and dreamt… (2014, in Review)

2014collage_2
This past year, I surrendered the reigns of control over my time.

Through the long nights, aching arms, tired feet, weary but hopeful faces of my dance students and my patients, there I truly begin to understand…

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. 
I awoke and saw that life was service. 
I acted and behold, service was joy.”
-Tagore

My top 3 nursing stories:

3. Sun, Moon, and Stars – on illiteracy

2. Exposed Ankles – on an immigrant’s struggle

1. Keep on Dancin’ – on perspectives and purpose

Honorable mention: Highfives and Heartache– on sacrifice and ebola

Top 3 characteristics I learned about God
3. God sustains.
January 18, 2014:
“Life is a complete mess right now; I feel as though I’m walking in a storm. Lord, the winds have whipped me back and forth, it is cold, feeling like I will go numb from the bitterness of others who tear me down. Lord, save me! I will say though, that God You remain wonderful and it’s truly evident that You are real and at work in my life.”

2. God protects; He is sovereign.
March 11, 2014:
“Ba called me. He said, ‘My ICD [defibrillator/pacemaker] shocked me.’ Ba described how he went for a jog and fell on the ground. 

The whole event, Ba being alone while jogging, him calling me first instead of 911, the burden of not being there during a medical emergency… it’s frightening. Horribly frightening.I was so relieved Ba was discharged from the hospital, but it doesn’t change his prognosis. I must and need to accept that, the uncertainty of our future here on earth. God help me to trust in You no matter how gray or uncertain the future.”

1. God has a vision, a plan for me.
August 23, 214:
“You can see far greater than my eyes can see- You have big dreams for me; I’ve been challenged in so many ways recently…”

Random 3 photos of treasured memories: Continue reading