All posts filed under: Personal Development

Bouquet of Pink and white flowers against light grey background

Grace at the Oyster Bar

It wasn’t until a chance encounter at City ‘super that I felt the power of grace. Standing at the long metallic bench table by the oyster bar, I was having a salad – chopsticks in hand, Japanese style. A man who probably works in the office towers above walked over with his food and stood diagonally across me a feet or so away unpacking it. Out of the blue, I felt a sudden wave of energy emanating from him. I glanced over – I saw him holding quietly still, hands folded in front of the Japanese hamburger patty he had just unpacked. He said Grace. Standing a couple feet away, I felt it the energy of his prayer. He must have said grace so heart-fully that the energy radiated strongly, and across the bar table, my salad probably got some of the blessings too! Saying grace and having a thankful heart, it changes the vibration of the person taking the food that naturally the food is in sync with the person.  Karen, Where My Heart …

Triangle |Where my heart leads

Mystery Triangles

You’d be surprised to find TOTO toilets in wooden shacks. TOTO toilets are swanky Japanese toilets complete with customisable bidet functions and most appreciated of all – the perennially warm seat. Waarmnesss… The wooden shacks ain’t just any ordinary wooden shacks either. They were out in the boonies in Japan at a Vipassana meditation camp. Naked incandescent light bulbs lit each wooden stall. For 10 days, men and women stay at the camp to learn and practice Vipassana meditation.  The Considerati Since Literati describes those who are learned, the “Considerati” would then describe those who are considerate.   The Japanese are culturally courteous and considerate. I remember removing my shoes before entering the chado (Tea ceremony) mizuya (tea prep area) and upon exiting found my shoes and those of others mysteriously arranged right way up for those leaving so we can put on our shoes more easily. It felt very attentive and welcoming. (細心 – heart into the details) At the Vipassana camp, I noticed mystery triangles surfacing in the wooden shacks every now and …

Two heads of giraffes looking opposite directions | Where My Heart Leads

Focus Which Way

My friend Karen went to a retreat in Bali to learn surfing. She was very annoyed that the random people bobbing about in the water were checking out how she gets on the board. Her coach reminded her, “If you focus on those people, you’ll crash into them. However, if you focus on that opening between them, you’ll get past them and be riding the wave.”  It’s a excellent reminder on life too. Do we let distractions, like other people and what they do pull us off course, or are we intently focused on that gap/that way forward? People say focus is important Yet what we focus on has just as much importance.  An owner I know runs an education business that touches many lives. Undoubtedly, the owner pours her heart and soul her business. She offers music, education, and parenting of high quality. For a long time though, she was so focused on fixing the parts in her business that didn’t work. Her focus on fixing had her believe her business wasn’t working until someone …

Small light box on desk saying YOU GOT THIS | Where My Heart Leads

Fortune Telling

As fresh twenty-somethings out of college having studied overseas, my friends and I went for fortune telling sessions. We’d ask: how is the job, how’s the love life, health, family – the usual.  Despite being a cosmopolitan, financial centre, fortune telling and feng shui practice is entrenched in the fabric of Hong Kong. Even Pritzker Prize-winning architect IM Pei designed Hong Kong’s iconic Bank of China tower with Feng Shui principles in mind. Its triangular forms make swords that cut through and deflect any bad energies directed from surrounding neighbors.  It is not uncommon for business magnates as well as office workers to turn to feng shui and fortune telling to get some bearing on their life. The one my friends and I visited frequented was a legally blind man who would tell our fortunes. He had a sense of humor and would share a life lesson or two here and there during our chat. I’ve also been to ones who had a whole joss stick-burning ritual before sitting down to flip through a book …

Secret Santa: Blood donor confessions

I still remember how gentle, kind and upbeat she was, giving me two thumbs up. And how nonchalantly he put on the Cartoon channel for me. Secret Santas in action. First time donor When it comes to blood and needles – I am a wuss. The idea of extracting a Vitasoy pack-equivalent of my blood from my body is scary. The attendant who led me to the cushy armchair became on the receiving end of a chain of my questions, all of which in the hopes of finding something that reassures – “It it going to hurt?” “No, no. Just relax and watch TV.” He says casually.  The screens broadcasted the tired police press conference, so I asked if I could watch something else. “What would you want to watch?” “Cartoons.” I replied and he put on Cartoons for the screen in front of me. Some staff walked by and did a double-take at the cartoons. The guy didn’t make a fuss out of it and so neither did the others. The trainee Santa The …

Beauty Pageant Q&A twenty-five years later

Beauty pageants was a thing in the days of television. It was fun to watch: the song and dance, ball gown and swimsuit parades, and the Q&A the pageants have to go through. One question stuck for over 25 years, “As a Miss Hong Kong, you need good manners and deportment going about your day. When you are at the ladies, do you need good manners and deportment also?” The contestant fumbled for an answer. What probably was going through her mind and what was going through mine at the time was, “How does one go to the loo with (ahem) deportment?”  Let me fill you in on background. In the heyday of beauty pageantry, TV stations had big budgets to spend hiring experts to teach contestants how to walk, how to carry themselves, how to adhere to certain protocols. Perhaps not unlike what Kate Middleton or Meghan Markle would go through to adhere to – in their case –  royal protocols. After weeks of such training, the contestant’s probably thinking – yes, I need …

Products of different systems

Imagine Us owning up to our differences

The massive vat of stir-fry appeared circa October 2018 at one of the Vipassana meditation camps in Japan. It was a slop of gooey soy-sauced corn-starch jumble of vegetables. I took a teeny bit and mostly filled my bowl with rice, and a massive serving of miso soup. On the last day of the 10-day silent Vipassana camp, silence was lifted and we got chatting. On food, a friend excitedly exclaimed, “The stir-fry was SOOOO good. I had extra helpings of it.” I thought, “You serious!? That was the most disgusting stir-fry I’ve ever seen.” She continued, “I loved the sauce.” “What!? The sauce was practically cornstarch goop.” I thought to myself. I saw a couple other Japanese nodding in agreement to my friend’s positive appraisal of the stir–fry. Thinking difference During the meals when I was thinking how horrible the meal was; there were people who really enjoyed it. The gooey sauce was a hit for Japanese taste-buds. I could see how it had resemblance to Japanese curry sauce or the demi-glace gravy-like sauce …

Because she did drugs, I told the teacher

Boarding school at age 13, 14 was very much a culture shock. Not just the language, the food, most of all how people think and the way things are done. I was assigned to a large girl’s dorm my first year, sharing a large double room with a girl from NYC. You can easily tell which side of the room was hers and which was mine. We had totally different modes of life.  Cultural Contrasts My roommate sets her alarm for 6am (Classes start at 8, mind you). The loud beeping radio alarm types that I don’t get why people use waking up to scratchy, annoying noise. My roommate takes her morning shower and spends the next hour or so putting together her outfit and makeup (something I didn’t even own.) I – rolled out of bed 15 minutes before the class bell rung. Brushed my teeth, went to the loo, threw on dress code-abiding clothes got there just at 8. If breakfast was had, I’d get up an extra 15 minutes earlier for a …

Longevity Reed | Where My Heart Leads

Secret to Longevity (That Everyone Has)

Prologue A wave of confusion swept over me when the female lead came on stage. Obviously she was a foreigner, so how in the world did she learn, or why did she even learn to sing old-school Cantonese Opera of all things? From the looks of it: back a little stooped and her small shuffling footsteps, she was probably in her 70s or 80s even? Soon after, the ‘male’ lead comes on stage – with a crutch in her right hand!  I was at the Hong Kong Arts Festival, at one of its Cantonese Opera evenings entitled, “Global Traces, Local Stages.”  What started it all Pre-show, a friend and I got dinner at the quintessential old-school diner Mido Cafe. Over Hong Kong curry rice, I was venting (just ever-so slightly) about the challenges of starting and running my business.  My friend generously shared her experience twenty years ago helping set up her husband’s business. It wasn’t all smooth sailing, but twenty years later, her husband now jokes, “Would you still have wanted me to have taken …

Folding clothes in the Marie Kondo way | Where my heart leads

Is emotionally-charged decluttering healthy?

Marie-Kondo–ing has taken off. Like Googling has become a verb, Kondo-ing has become a verb to mean purging things that do not spark joy. Netflix even aired a Marie Kondo show early this year. In the trailer, you see people distraught as they part with their belongings, as if they’re parting with a loved one. Their emotional responses – their red, crying faces made me wonder, is there something amiss in the approach? The KonMari method theoretically The idea The idea is – by purging all that doesn’t spark joy, you’ll be living surrounded by only belongings and relationships that spark joy in you. Theoretically by doing so, you’ll be more joyful, fulfilled, happy. The method The Konmari method is easy to follow. First, you decide what to keep and what to discard. Then with the things you decide to keep, you organise them so each has a place in your home. As an early adopter of the ‘Kon-marie‘ method after reading Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, I felt I found …