Self Improvement

Chinese New Year 农历新年

Chinese new year (CNY) is always a great time of reunion.

农历新年是团圆的好时光!

CNY 2015 Reunion Dinner
CNY 2015 Reunion Dinner

Many of us may be working far away from home town, busy schedule prevents us to visit our parents and relatives often. CNY is one of those beautiful moments you can share with them.

常在远远外地工作的游子,繁忙的作息无法让我们常常回乡探望父母和亲友。农历新年往往就是你可以与他们共享美好相聚时光的好机会。

2nd Day of CNY at Concorde Hotel

2nd Day of CNY at Concorde Hotel

I heard young people telling me that CNY is such a waste of time. Big groups of family friends gather together doing “aimless” activities like gambling, chatting (or gossiping), cooking and washing. CNY is no longer treasured by our younger generations. Why? I can think of a few reasons for this phenomenon.

 

我常听年轻朋友说,农历新年是最浪费时间的节日。一大群的亲戚朋友聚在一起做些毫无意义的活动,例如赌博,讲闲话,烹饪和洗刷。我们年轻的孩子已经不珍惜农历新年的日子了,为什么?我可以想到几个原因。

  1. Nuclear family structure becoming a norm – How do we define a family now? The first thing comes into our mind is “husband, wife and children”, right? This is our society’s “normal” family structure. We do not encourage living with our parents because they tend to interfere our family affairs. There are many good points to live as a nuclear family – the couple can learn to cope with life independently and therefore develop maturity in their characters. The downside of this is that these children grow up without interacting with grandparents very much. Grandpa and gandma are guests who come to visit them once in a blue moon – and their visits often create arguments between their parents. The antidote is to increase the opportunities for the children to interact with extended family members like going outings, travelling, shopping or having meals together. Do not make CNY is the only time the children meeting their uncles, aunties, cousins and nephews.
  2. 核心家庭成为常态 – 现在我们如何给“家庭”定义呢?第一个进入脑袋的应该是“丈夫,妻子和他们的孩子们”,对吗?这种“核心家庭”是我们社会所谓正常的家庭结构。我们不再鼓励跟父母同住,因为他们会越权干涉我们的家务事。当然,核心家庭有它可取之处 – 夫妻俩可以学习如何独立处理他们的生活,从而帮助发展他们更成熟的品格。可惜的是这样的家庭结构让剥夺了孩子跟祖父母交流相处的机会。爷爷奶奶,公公婆婆是偶尔在他们家中出现的客人 – 儿往往他们的造访成为父母争吵的原因。处理的方式是让孩子有更多的机会跟延伸家庭成员有更多交流的机会,譬如一起去郊游,野餐,购物或共餐。别让农历新年成为孩子遇见伯伯,叔叔,姑姑,舅舅,姨妈,堂兄弟姐妹,表兄弟姐妹的唯一时间。
  3. Parents’ hypocrisy – When we are not with the extended family, our children hear complaints and gossips about grandparents, uncles, aunties, cousins and nephews. The words are filled with anger, jealousy and sarcasm. During CNY, they see parents’ facial expressions change and sweetest words come out “naturally”  from the lips – they are seeing the hypocrisy and they hate it. What the parents ignore or despise, the children reject. The antidote is to be REAL. We live a life which always give honest credit and praise to our extended family members, stop all the striving and jealousy among siblings but be thankful for each one of them.
  4. 父母虚伪的品格 – 当我们的延伸家庭成员不在身边的时候,孩子听见的都是一些对他们不满的埋怨和闲话。话语中充满着愤怒,妒忌和讥讽。农历新年一到,他们看见父母马上换了另一副嘴脸,好听的话很“自然”挂在嘴边 – 孩子看到的是虚伪,他们讨厌这种嘴脸。父母所忽视和轻视的,孩子就会拒绝。解决的方法就是活得真实。我们愿意常常衷心赞美延伸家庭成员的好,停止所有的彼此争竞和妒忌,也为他们来感恩。
  5. The influence of Western individualistic culture – The Western education and culture is mostly based on a self-centred operational mode. When parents are not placing importance to the value of community (which is one of the core value of Chinese or oriental culture), mutual love and generosity of blessing others, we should not be surprised by our children’s inclination of living a life looking at their own interest only. They will abhor any inconvenience arising from interacting with extended family which does not bring “benefits” to them. The small amount of money inside the red packets does not worth their effort to endure the inconveniences. The antidote is to teach community and oriental value by living examples. We practice generosity by giving to family and friends’ needs, encourage to live inconveniently for the sake of others, constantly remind our children of the positive value and root of the oriental culture and not idolising the Western culture and value (though they do have many good parts for us to learn from)
  6. 西方个人主义的影响 – 西方的教育和文化常常以自我为出发点。当父母不再把社群价值观(它是中国和东方文化的核心价值),彼此相爱和慷慨祝福他人的美好品格视为重要,我们不能责怪孩子活出处处只为自己的自私。他们会鄙视任何毫无利益且又带来不方便的相处时间,就算是新年红包里少许的金钱也不足以让他们去承受那么一点点的不便。解决的方式是以身作则,教导他们东方传承的社群文化。我们慷慨解囊帮助有需要的亲戚和朋友,鼓励他们愿意为了别人的好处而忍受一点不方便,不断提醒孩子外国的月亮不比本地的更圆更亮 (虽然西方文化也有值得我们学习的),东方文化和我们的根里面有许多值得我们去学习和传承的正面价值。

Of course there are many more reasons and ways of helping our children to appreciate CNY and the cultural value therein. You are welcome to give your suggestions via the comment in this post.

Our CNY tradition - Dim Sum brunch

Our CNY tradition – Dim Sum brunch

Above all, LOVE is the main reason for us to celebrate CNY. We want to share our love with our extended family members. We want to full heartedly wish them goodwill and blessings.

诚然,我们有很多其他的方法来帮助我们年轻的孩子去欣赏农历新年和这个节日所包含的精华。我欢迎你们在这篇贴子下留言提供你们宝贵的意见。

最重要的是:爱是我们欢庆农历新年的原因。我们愿意跟家人亲戚和朋友分享爱,衷心祝福他们。

A Christian friend share this CNY song with me via his FB. It was composed by his church friends. I love it – CNY is a time we recount God’s grace and blessings and be thankful in our hearts. CNY is also a time we want to share with our extended family members, relatives and friends the love of Jesus as we experience it daily.

一个基督徒朋友在面子书分享了这首他教会会友所编写的贺岁歌曲。我很喜欢 – 农历新年是我们回想神的恩典和祝福,且怀感恩的心来赞美他。农历新年,我们也要跟亲朋戚友分享耶稣的爱 – 因为我们每天都经历耶稣的爱!

I hope you enjoy this new CNY song – 蒙福

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Love with actions 有行动的爱

This mother who had no experience of taking a flight, could not speak English or any other foreign language……..and yet she could overcome all obstacles – just to bring some Chinese herbs for her daughter who has just given birth to a baby.

What has motivated this mother to do this? LOVE!

Love has been degraded so much nowadays that we can say it easily……but true love takes courage and action.

The bible encourages us love not by mere words but by action.

Thank God that He is a loving God with action – He sacrificed His only Son for love for men.

I hope you enjoy this Chinese video……. and remember to take courage and love in action.

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Photography as a hobby – anyone?

I have been trying to learn photography, not so much I want to take professional-looking photos to impress others, it’s more that I want to take reasonably good pictures family activities, church events and my holidays. However, I always find it hard to pick up my camera. Time is such a scarce resource that I hardly find enough of it to rest, not to mention the luxury of taking a few hours strolling around with camera.

Someone told me when you have a will there is a way. I admit I don’t have enough passion for photography to sacrifice my other activities. However, there are specific times when we go for holidays. I would surely not miss the opportunity to experiment and try taking reasonable shots. If you are like me, hard to find time in your normal busy schedule to play with your camera set, don’t have enough passion to sacrifice others for this hobby – don’t loose heart, just learn the skills naturally when you are away from your normal routines – holidays and traveling. I am yet to form the habit to bring my camera along in my normal days.

I find the blog post below good for inspiration and motivation that we should not give up the hobby. You can find the original post here: http://digital-photography-school.com/3-tips-on-how-to-approach-photography-as-a-hobby/

One day we will be surprised that we can actually take good pictures that even amaze us.

Happy photographing! Continue reading

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Life is like coffee

What do you value the most in life?

I received this inspirational video from Pastor Inky – and I like it!

It spells of wisdom from the professor and it highlights the main issues facing us today:

We chase after the unimportant things and forget about what is the most valuable.

What is valuable can be very different to different people. To me a simple test is this:

What money can buy cannot be most valuable;

I am looking for things which matter most in life – relationships.

Continue reading

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A Great Article on Photography

Looking with a Creative Mind

I came across this excellent article by Digital Photography School (Click here to go to the site),  which I just copy and paste into this blog. This is a resource site that you may want to spend time reading it. The “Tips and Tutorial” section contains thousands of gems. This article is just one of the many good ones, it is very well written and it really helps me to understand the importance of perspective and positioning of the photographer to take a creative and great photo. I hope this is helpful for all of you.

How to take extra-ordinary photos by thinking creatively – By Digital Photography School

A Guest Post by Piper Mackay from www.pipermackayphotography.com.

The creativity in your photographs is what will make your imagery stand out. Most of us, if we commit the time, can technically master the craft of photography. Capturing a compelling image can be much more difficult especially when you are excited, experiencing something for the first time, and are visually overloaded.

You begin pointing and shooting at everything you see. You arrive home, look at your photographs, and see that you have captured extraordinary subjects or a beautiful location, but the images are somewhat mediocre. Taking an extraordinary photograph of and extraordinary subject is what you want to strive for.

I want to share with you a few tips that can quickly help elevate the creativity in your photography and help you to focus on the artistic side of photography; without the creative process, you are really only turning dials and pushing buttons.

Portraits

Thinking creativelyThe eyes are the windows to the soul. If you are going to place your subject in the center, get close, fill the frame and deeply connect with your subject.
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Thinking creatively 1

A more interesting portrait composition is to place your subject off center, looking into the frame at a slight angle, with a blurred out or clean background.

Thinking creatively 2

Now up your game and add layers of impact by adding a simple, but beautiful background.

Thinking creatively 3

Take it one step further by adding a second person to draw the viewer more deeply into the frame.

Drawing the Eye

Thinking creatively 4

One of the basic rules of composition is leading lines, but if there is more than one, it can be more effective in keeping the viewer in the photograph longer. In this image there is a leading line from the bottom right to the top left and another one that leads the viewer back across the photograph.

Thinking creatively 5

Using layers of impact makes for a very powerful image. When photographing people I love to use a wide-angle lens, getting up close to my main subject with something interesting in the background to draw the view into the photograph. Here my main subjects are interesting, positioned in front of a beautiful background along the Omo River that curves and leads to the women in the distance, creating layers of impact and depth in the image.

Thinking creatively 6

I love using selective focus to draw the viewer’s eye exactly were I want it. This usually works best with repeating patterns and groups of items such as: spices or vegetables, crafts at a local market, flowers in a field or a herd of animals, as a few examples.

Change your Perspective

Thinking creatively 7

Being at eye level with your subject makes for a more dynamic image. So, if your subject is down on the ground, hit the dirt and get dirty. Picture in your mind how this photograph would look if you stood and shot down on these subjects. This angle makes the viewer feel as though they are there.

Thinking creatively 8

Most people would have just taken this photograph from the shore with a zoom lens but I wanted something more powerful. I planned to be in this area during the dry season, suffering in 110+ heat when the river would be at its lowest. I got into the river with my wide-angle lens and photographed this at eye level with the canoe. There were a lot of challenges, watching out for crocs was one of them, and although I did not get the photograph I had envisioned, I knew I and a unique perspective.

Thinking creatively 9

Shoot from a different angle. Getting lower than your subject adds drama and power. The opposite can work as well—get above your subject and shoot down on them.

Most importantly, it does not have to be new; it has to be you. We all see things differently and express them differently. This is the reason many of us picked up the camera, to seek out places for ourselves that we have already viewed through someone else’s eyes. We want to experience it for ourselves, capturing our own vision. The way you express your unique view through the lens is what makes it new and interesting.

Piper Mackay is a professional travel and wildlife photographer whose work is heavily based in Eastern Africa. She is currently leading both wildlife and cultural safaris in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia. Her work is represented by Getty images and she is and instructor for the Travel and Editorial track at Calumet. View her work at www.pipermackayphotography.com.

– See more at: http://digital-photography-school.com/how-to-take-extraordinary-photos-by-thinking-creatively#sthash.GODybyTm.dpuf

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Be Creative In Travel Photography

TravelTraveling is my hobby

I love traveling.

Travel around the world, learning about different cultures, enjoying the beautiful scenic places, seeing the majestic creation of God – that is what I would like to do when I am much older and I am free from financial obligations to my children.

Invariably I will bring my camera along when I travel. Taking pictures I have no problem but taking great photos is really not something that I dare to dream about.. Those of you who know me well, you know me as a person of order and discipline. Creativity is far removed from my traits.

A Great Photography Workshop

In this year’s church family camp, I attended Continue reading

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Say these words for a blissful marriage

Henry & Julia

Do you speak these words to your spouse?

word powerI cannot emphasize enough the importance of communication in a marriage relationship. I have shared before about learning the love languages of your spouse so that you can generously lavish the right kind of “love” upon him / her (click here to read of my book review), there are some words that are ever green and effective no matter what love languages you speak.

Of course there are many words words that could help improve your married life and make it a blissful one. Some of them are “may I help”, “I I love uam sorry” or the commonly used phrase, “I love you”. There are other words to show you care and truly love the one you are with and perhaps the two most important words/phrases are shown below.

Children have been thought to speak kind words to each other as they grow up. Simple words, Continue reading

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Are you Fearful speaking in Public?

Public SpeakingPublic Speaking can be learned

Today, I am going to change my topic slightly. Instead of focusing on family issues, I would like to deviate a little bit to share a skill which is important and we bound to face it one day – public speaking.

I am not an excellent public speaker although I speak regularly in church meetings. Over the years, well intended friends and family members have been giving me feedback and critics about my public speaking, I really appreciate their honest opinions.

I know, there are some people who are born with the talent of public speaking. As soon as you give them the stage, they have no problem delivering an interesting speech that intrigues many. I am not sure about you. I, like most people, don’t possess such gift naturally; I used to struggle a lot when I need to make a public speech. It varies from small jobs like making announcement in class, laying down rules of games to big and important tasks to make a convincing presentation in attracting investors or customers to sign on the dotted line. The fact remains, Continue reading

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How to manage household finances without emotional stress and arguments?

Household budgetHousehold Financial Management – What’s the Big Deal?

Before Julia and I walked down the aisle, many friends told us from their experiences that one of the toughest challenges in marriage is to agree on the ways to manage household finances.

“Believe me, Henry, you are going to have heated arguments on how to spend money.” Sincere and loving friends “warned” me in advance with well intention.Arguing

Due to different family background and the way that our parents brought us up, we have different attitudes and habits on spending and saving. We cannot expect a couple to have the same priorities in managing finances. Compromises and mutual respect are keys to work out an agreeable pattern together.

After nearly 30 years of marriage, we must say household finance has not been a great issue for us. Why? Besides the fact that both of us share the same trait of being thrifty, we also established 2 basic principles and stick to them religiously.

1)     Find your comfort level with merging your finances.

Continue reading

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How to deal with two most common fears in life?

Child fearTake Away My Fear

Have you ever worried about your family member’s safety? How about really concerned for your children’s education? Or may be anxious about a sick and elderly parent? Chances are you do face some form of fear, anxiety and worrisome. Yes. You’re right. Having fears is a natural part of life. Fear enables us to be careful and not subject ourselves to danger. However, fear turns out to be unhealthy and undesirable when you allow it to take control of the way you live your life or relate to others. In fact I have seen many cases where fear has so gripped the person’s life and emotions that he is totally “paralyzed”, it means his mind goes completely blank and he cannot make any normal decision in that situation.

I would like to share with you two very common fears happen in families. From the examples you could chose to react to your fear positively or the other way. Are you ready to look at them?

Fear No. 1: The Straying Partner

Continue reading

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Build your child’s self-esteem – Video Version

Thank youThank you for your encouragement.

I am so happy to receive much encouragement from many who have read my blog yesterday on “Build your child’s self-esteem is your responsibility”. (Click here for the full article). With your support and cheers, I shall work harder to provide good tips in “building your family with love and confidence“. (Do you realize that this is our blog’s tag line? 🙂 )

I can see that many of us parents have the same problem of trying to build our children’s confidence which will benefit them for their whole life. The article contains only some practical pointers for us to work on. Do not expect immediate miracles. It’s worth our investment to continue nurturing our children’s future. They are our loved ones and will become the future generation of our family, nation and the whole world.

One of my friends who have read the article suggested that I should post a summary video of this article. Being new to blogging, I am not familiar with how this can be done. He taught me the easiest way to make Powerpoint slides, save them using Windows Live Movie Maker program and then convert it into Media Audio/ Video file. I managed to do just that. I also figure out how to add a piece of nice music to go along with the video.

Yes. Nothing is too difficult if you are humble enough to ask and learn. I know you are probably laughing, this video is really an amateur’s work. However, this is an important first step that I have taken. I am sure I will become better each time I try again. So……friends, the worst enemy we have is to stand still, procrastinate (read my other article on “6 ways of getting rid of procrastination” here) and not to take any action. Success will never come to you if you don’t even start trying.

Let us encourage one another to initiate and move on. 🙂

Here is my first VIDEO on “Build your child’s self-esteem”, hope you enjoy it.

Please give me some feedback and comments. I shall improve further with your encouragement. Thanks again.

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Build your child’s self-esteem

Child 1Build Your Child’s Self Esteem is your responsibility

Do you ever wonder why the child next door is full of joy and courage? He seems to take initiative to do things and speak his minds without feeling intimidated. When you turn around and look at your child at home. He seems not interested in anything. He does not ask questions like most children do. You are puzzled and think of what you have done wrong or what your neighbor has done right to raise two children with such different characters.

It’s important that a child is brought up with positive self image and self value. A child brought up in that way shall have the necessary confidence to face their adulthood. But how and where would your child learn self esteem and self worth? In my previous article “Parenting tips”, you would have learned that your child imitate you. Therefore, the most obvious place for them to build self esteem is at home and from you. When your child is young, you are the person who spends the longest hours with them. Your influence in your child’s life can never be underestimated.

Continue reading

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I enjoy sharing my joy with others.

Jump for joyJoy unspeakable

Joy is independent of circumstances and environment. It springs from the inner most being a deep sense of security and fulfillment. The very source of my joy comes from knowing the Creator God, enjoying His abiding presence and trusting in His grace and faithfulness. My circumstances may not be enviable, I have my share of difficulties and sorrowful moments. However, the very presence of God helps me to focus on His greatness and provides me the sufficient grace and strength. What I am going through seems small compares to the glorious moments with Him.

I have so much joy in my life that I want to ensure others have joy as well. I like to share my happiness with the people around me. So much in life is wonderful, and I appreciate all the little things that make me happy, bring on laughter, or give me peace and tranquility.

Joy is contagious.

I smile at people when I see them, so they know I appreciate them. I thank others for doing kind things for me. I help people when I see that they are down, so they can find more joy in their lives.

Continue reading

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6 Ways to get rid of procrastination

Procrastination

Say “No” to procrastination

A week ago, my colleague Gary was in great distress. “I was supposed to enroll in the part-time MBA course at XXX University College a year ago. But I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t. Time just flew away without me realizing it. My girl friend is angry with me. She looks at me as though I am such a laid back person, without any ambition to achieve anything in life.” He said.

Do you have similar experiences? I am sure you do. Why? You probably know very well that you need to make certain decision and take some actions to achieve greater success in life. For some strange reasons, you didn’t move at all. You have been telling yourself, “No problem. I can always do it tomorrow.” The problem is that “tomorrow” never comes.

Yes. The name of the game is procrastination. What is procrastination? It is simply a habit of putting off until later what you can quickly handle it now. Procrastination kills your productivity and it destroys your chances of success by delaying decisions and actions. Continue reading

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