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The Perfect New Year’s Resolution

Photo by Andrea D'Aquino
Editor’s Note

I am honored to introduce you to a new member of our TSN team, Cat Li Stevenson.  Cat is an exceptional writer - transparent, authentic, and self-reflective.  This is an extraordinary piece from her as a gift to us for the New Year.  I loved and savored every word.  I hope it will inspire you to reflect and contemplate your truth in welcoming a new marvelous year.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. ~Lao Tzu

As we bring a close to 2010, I decided to take a new approach to how I’d invite the New Year into my life. In prior years, I would laundry list every over-achieving goal that would bring me closer to the perception of “perfect.” In reflecting on check marks next to certain goals of the past, I honestly cannot attach a purpose behind what that particular accomplishment did to truly serve me. Once I removed the glitz of the curtain—the appearance of the goal—behind it was nothing more than the yearning of fulfillment I had began with.

What I thought I knew was—that with each accomplishment—this would bring me closer to the perfection theme I sought out in my career, physical appearance, friendships, bank account, family, and spirituality. I practiced this redundancy for the past several years without realizing that this “perfect” I pursued was never defined by the reality of my own authenticity.

Being Present

Editor’s Note

This article was extracted from the daily emails.

Monday, last week was a crazy ride of a day. First, it was my son’s one year old birthday, and we were planning a big party – 24 adults and 8 babies. Second, we were notified that we’d won the Good Mood Gig contest!

The day consisted of a lot of running around, last minute shopping, cooking for over twenty people, writing the announcement blog post, and taking part in the excitement on facebook. I don’t think I ate anything all day until 9pm.

The party was a success, people looked like they had a good time. We had loads of food, helium balloons, and a lot of red wine to keep many of the adults happy. Ryan was properly dressed in a suit vest with a red tie, and brown dress pants.

I ran around, making sure the food was all laid out, that people got drinks, and that everyone had their photo taken in our makeshift portrait studio we had temporarily setup in the garage (Photos from the party can be seen here).

A Letter of Gratitude + Good Mood Update

A year ago today, I was lying in a hospital bed, scared for my baby’s future, and struggling with a lot of pain that my mind had convinced me to be true. The following 6 months proceeded to be the darkest emotional period of my life.

Looking back, it all seems so far away. A blurry memory from the past.

I am a believer that things happen to us for a reason, and that reason is a gift –often disguised as challenges- that helps us grow and to fully experience the beautiful subtleties of Life. If nothing else, at least to remind us to appreciate the good in our lives, which we often take for granted.

Today, our 4lb preemie baby is a healthy, happy, active, and very curious little boy. Ryan now has 8 teeth, is in the 90th percentile for height, can stand on his own, and can crawl faster than I can catch him.

When Couples Fight

Photo by Erik Clausen (His Blog, Flickr)
Editor’s Note

This article applies also to those not currently in a relationship.

My husband and I had a fight over the weekend – on our date night, of all nights. We rarely fight, so when emotions escalated to shouting, I knew something had to change. I had to change. There was something to be learned here.

The thing about when couples bicker is that both people feel that they are right. Both people feel that their point of view is rightfully justified. So we try to make the other person understand. When we are arguing, what we are essentially trying to do is to show the other person our side – to show them that we are right (and they are wrong).

After all was said and done, underneath the problem on the surface, what we were really fighting for was to feel appreciated and validated. We, each in our own indirect way, were trying to let the other person acknowledge us, and to value what we contribute. But sometimes, we can be so stubborn.

If you dissect all the fights we’ve had in the past with our significant others, and through observing our friends, I think the desire to feel appreciated and recognized is a common theme.

What’s interesting is that in the heat of “battle”, when we are so consumed with wanting the other person to see our side, we become blind to recognizing the other person’s point of view – which is equally valid and understandable. It’s like trying to put out fire with more fire, you will just end up with a bigger fire.

Finding Miracles

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. ~Charles R. Swindoll

Three days ago our family dog Blackie went missing (pictured on the right in photo above, taken in 2008).

It’s not the first time our dogs have gotten out from the yard – it happens from time to time. Each time it has happened in the past, someone would call and return him to our home – after all, we live in a safe, family-centric neighborhood. This time, someone did call, but they never returned him home.

We tried phoning back the person who called us, but each time, the person would either hang up on us, or not pick up the phone.

If you’ve been following our journey over the past few years, you may remember Blackie as the puppy we found on the streets of Beijing, China from 2008, whom we later immigrated to the USA. His story is a heartwarming one. We love him, and we miss his little black-and-white butt.

You may not be a dog person, but you can probably relate with the feeling of losing something or someone, and the frustration that arises with that.

The Cab Ride I’ll Never Forget

Photo by Mike Bailey Gates (Talented 17 year old rising star in photography)
Editor’s Note

I have got an extraordinary gift for you today - in the form of a story written by the awe-inspiring Kent Nerburn. Enjoy and share it with others if the story touched your heart like it did mine.

We may not all live holy lives, but we live in a world alive with holy moments. ~Kent Nerburn

Twenty years ago, I drove a cab for a living.

It was a cowboy’s life, a life for someone who wanted no boss.

What I didn’t realize was that it was also a ministry.

Because I drove the night shift, my cab became a moving confessional. Passengers climbed in, sat behind me in total anonymity, and told me about their lives. I encountered people whose lives amazed me, ennobled me, and made me laugh and weep.

But none touched me more than a woman I picked up late one August night. I was responding to a call from a small brick fourplex in a quiet part of town. I assumed I was being sent to pick up some partyers, or someone who had just had a fight with a lover, or a worker heading to an early shift at some factory for the industrial part of town.

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