Dear Peiling:

I am writing to report back to you my two-day excursion in Memphis – Tupulo.

Truth to be told, I had more curiosity than anticipation before the trip. After all, Elvis seems to be for a completely different generation. I had marginal interest for the city of Memphis. Though packed with history, it is no New York.

We (my mother, Zoe, Beth my classmate, and me) started our day on Beal street. It was Thursday early afternoon and the street was nearly empty. We had lunch at King’s Palace Cafe. Though it is a typical touristy destination, the service was genuine and food great. With great courage I had gumbo combo. I love the red walls and oil paintings depicting Elvis and other performing artists.

We went across the street to A.Schwab, the famous general store. Zoe got a Raggedy Andy (I did not know there is an Ann version until later) after nagging long enough. The whole space was giant. What intrigued me was the Ice Cream parlor with its long, worn, wooden bar and a seating area that did not seem to have changed for the past 50 years.

We then headed to Graceland. The area did not look convincing. It took us several U-turns to realize that parking and everything were across the street from the mansion. The home, though a landmark, was humble enough that it did not stand out immediately if it were not for the “sheet music” front gate.

I must say it is so gratifying to witness a true mid-century American home such tastefully decorated. The hint of luxury and privilege were present but not overwhelming. Each room has its personality. The living room is spirited and elegant. The entertainment room is sharp and futuristic. The pool room, with beautiful fabric lining, is full of imagination. The home mixes the traditional and the modern perfectly. I wish I could have a cup of tea there.

Maybe it’s because of the grave, or the fountain, the meditation garden felt a bit sentimental to me. I can imagine the intensity of emotion it must have been for you to experience. The resting place of the King of Pop is an intimate water garden. No more and no less. In the picture below Zoe was befriending 8-year-old Hayden, an Elvis fan.

Believe or not, we knocked on the window of the radio station you told me about and got interviewed by Big Jim. My classmate Beth talked about our class at Hopkins on air! Big Jim was kind enough to burn a copy of the CD for us to take back.

Tupelo was a pleasant surprise. I imagined taking a picture of the shotgun house after a 90-mile drive and turning right back. The actual experience was so rich, contextual and fun! We enjoyed the short movie about Elvis’ childhood, reading Elvis’s stories told my families and friends, listening to his music in the beautiful chapel, and laying on the grass under the blossoming trees. We even stopped by the hardware store where Elvis got his first guitar, and chatted with the owner of Johnny’s drive-in. In Tupelo I became more aware of the unique soil and nutrients that bred Elvis the musician, the man, and the revolutionizer. Had he been born in Connecticut there would not be an Elvis as we know today. The aura of the American South, a blend of warm hospitality, spirituality, and melancholy gave Elvis’s music a soul that could not have formed elsewhere.

Peiling, I enjoyed my trip very much. It is not possible to have gone through this experience without being changed in someway. I am not sure what, but I know as we study a life we often learn about ourselves.

I hope you are doing wonderful. Thank you again for all the pointers you provided!



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Here is a laundry list of miles stones big and small.

Zoe became a toddler. She turned 1-year old on July 18th, 2013. She learned to walk at her 15th month (during a trip in LA), though later than most. She traveled with us to Chicago twice, LA four times and Southeast Asia. She went to Toronto with us in a 10-hour car ride. She is an official world traveler at age 1.5. She had several colds with fevers, and the sixth disease after returning from Asia. She recovered rather quickly each time. Zoe is very bold in public. She walks around and explores new faces with keen curiosity. She gives out kisses generously. She stares. Zoe turns on the CD player herself in the morning. She dances to hip-pop club music with a great sense of rhythm. She has an intense interest in watching dance performance on Youtube with her Grandma. She claps at the end of the performance. She learned to discard her dirty diaper in the Diaper Champ (she claps and smiles when mission is accomplished). She loves to play with iPad and iPhone. She has been a challenging sleeper since very little. After returning from Southeast Asia, we spent months to help her get back to a normal sleeping routine. At about 16 months, she can consistently sleep through the night for between 9-11 hours. This is the result of multiple attempts of sleep training. She is still nursing once in the morning, around 6:00am. She would be picked up from the crib and crawled towards me.  She can say “Baba, Mama, Popo, bye-bye, Mei….”. In 2014, we hope that Zoe continue to grow in all areas, make more friends that she can play with regularly. We hope to take Zoe to see more beautiful mountains, oceans, world-class cities, and dear families and friends.

We made many trips this year. The biggest and most effortful one was to the Southeast Asia. We flew for 20 hours, transited in Singapore (which was awesome with the help of Jimmy), and arrived in congested Jarkata late at night. Singapore airline made this strenuous trip so pleasant and comfortable. We had some fun time with Henry’s childhood friends and Zoe got to spend time with her grandparents. We enjoyed great Indonesian traditional cuisine together. I grew addicted to Bakmi Ayam (Chicken Noodle) after three consecutive days of breakfast noodle hunt. We got to spend 5 days in beautiful Bali — though our stay was rather touristy, we had a great time! The diversity of the terrain was surprising. The lodging and food was fantastic for the most part. We hope to return to Bali and truly experience the essence of the local culture with slow pace next time. Jakarta is an overwhelming city, but interesting. We took a weekend trip to Pucan, a small satellite city in the mountain with lower temperature and calmer atmosphere. Traveling with a group has its challenges, especially for a free spirit like me. I did not find much time and space to spend alone, which was important for me to fully assimilate an experience and feel centered during a trip. I did however, get to know Henry’s parents much better as hardworking people who always do the best with what God gives to them. We went through their wedding albums one night in the dark with a flash light and I found my parents in law to be very attractive people at that age. Their wedding seemed to be quite elaborating. All in all, it was a truly meaningful trip. Not perfect, but memorable indeed.

Four of us visited Jonathan, Vivian and Kailey in Markham, ON in August. We connected through conversations that lasted late into the night. We had wonderful Chinese food. We even went to the petting zoo, which I enjoyed myself much more than I expected. We had coffee with Eileen Terry and Michelle. We look forward to going there again.

Henry his green card approved January in Chicago. Three of us went together and it was really really cold. It was also Zoe’s first flying experience. Very fun. She was such a great little traveler.

Our second trip to Chicago was for cousin Daphne’s (whom I’ve never met) wedding. We worried about the trip in the beginning because of the complex dynamic, webs of intricate relationships, and unsaid rituals of the Hao family. Yes all of the above were present during the wedding. Yet we had a wonderful time dancing till 11:00pm. Zoe was up and dancing with us the whole time! She also met with her cousin Nikki and Aunt YuanYuan. We experienced Lake Michigan at her best on a perfect sunny day as well.

I was accepted by Johns Hopkins MLA program and started in the Fall. I went through a fabulous reading list and a number of challenging writing assignments. I learned to use my time wisely and take advantage of small segment of uninterrupted time in the morning to work on my final paper, which I received an A on. The journey opened me up to the beauty of  fiction, when the complexity, absurdity and messiness of life cannot always be analyzed. I read Freud, Jung, Fromm, Marx, Kafka, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, and Saul Bellow. Seize the day, Sula! She sure does.

I returned to work in January and negotiated a “no-overnight-travel” pact with my supervisor. it worked briefly. I traveled to California four times for week-long meetings. Nancy and her parents took care of Zoe. Henry and my Mom traveled with me for the same purposes. The trips all worked out well at the end, though with much work and planning. In our spare time we enjoyed Malibu and ate at Lucky Duck for their world class roast duck. We dined with Feifei and Xing. We laughed with Yuyu and Antia. Nadege and I even had a chance to plan for a Field HR conference focused on Strategy. It was a great learning experience. Strategy was no longer a big fancy word. It simply means a game plan to achieve a goal. It requires us to do all the necessary mundane things to get there. It takes vision as well as discipline. In the middle of the year I took on a third region, which was unthinkable considering that I was supposed to be gone by March with my unavailability to travel overnight. This year at work I was more focused and proactive overall, with the help of weekly/daily planning and more time in the field. I met a HR executive during a HR business partner course who encouraged me to explore career opportunities in other fields. Right now I’m in a dilemma — home office has its advantage an vices. Travel schedule can be very challenging with a young child. I’m unsure what should I do next. Or have I ever been sure for the past five years? Am I supposed to be sure? In 2014 what I need is God-given Mojo to jump high and/or into something fabulous. Seriously. Into the creative unknown. Awesomeness. Coolness. Aliveness. Damn good stuff. Abundance. Let’s have a drink, dear.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I have thought about this for a while. How have I dealt with work since the baby?

My work life, for as much as I could remember, has been marked with extensive travel, long hours, and endless challenges. I have participated in or even led numerous enlivening classroom training sessions, meetings and discussions. I have found ways to mitigate puzzling or overwhelming situations. I have also suffered through soul-killing conversations that went nowhere, valueless administration work that none cares, dreadful trips out of obligations, and stupid hours-long conference calls for things that could be communicated in a simple e-mail.

I stopped flying when I was 7-month pregnant. Zoe marks a turning point in my life, as well as so many other aspects in life, including, work.

Little did I know, constraint and added responsibility are sometimes best teachers of discernment and propellers of growth.  When flying was not an option anymore, it forced me to nurture relationship, build trust, and influence decision remotely.  When caring for a young child takes out a chunk of my time, my work load remains the same.  Obviouly, I need to change the way I spend time.  Therefore, I started engaging in daily conversations with myself: if I only have time and energy for X things today, what would I choose to do that can make a difference?

This one single question makes a world of difference.  I learned over time that the quality of my work depends on the quality of my thought process, which determines the quality of conversations and decisions.  Mindfulness, presence, and focus — all these essential ingredients that dictate quality, do not co-exist with a scattered and stressed-out brain. Simply put, when I am indiscriminately busy, I do not do great work. I might get things done, but that is about it. The result is mediocrity, disintegration, and unhappiness. On the other hand, when I have clear focus on a few mission critical matters, I can engage with them using my full and best self, and the result is progress, and more energy returned to me. I am engaged with my work at a whole new level – by doing less.

Another practice is a concept that I have held dear but never seem to truly grasp. It is the art of pause and then respond. It is learning to observe my emotional reaction, instead of acting it out. Be with a sensation long enough to create a mental space, within which I could choose. Maybe it has been long enough that this practice finally takes root in me; or maybe I am so much more purposeful in my work, which automatically created more mental capacity to be spared when challenges do arise. I feel more centered, powerful and peaceful.

Less is more. Pause and then respond. Know my energy, and my limit. Be present. I credit my baby for turning these concepts into real practice for me.




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Happy Spring

We had a long winter. Cherry tree finally started blossoming when the Cherry Blossom festival is about to end. After a week of 40-degree weather, we are at 85 today.

We officially inaugurated Spring last weekend with a wedding!

Dyvia is one of two lovely daughters of our dear Indian uncle next door. We like her because we love Uncle Thomas. Plus – she’s funny and cool, instead of studious and nervous like her father’s generation. Uncle Thomas and Auntie Mercy came personally to deliver the invitation months ago and it was a big deal. We know that Indian weddings could take up to 7 days, and going to one is an experience of a life time.

The wedding ceremony was of Orthodox Christian style. We stood for more than an hour during the 2-hour ceremony. Scripture was sang beautifully instead of read, in Sanskrit and English. The groom is from San Francisco, a robust, funny and smart young man. He brought a fleet of exuberant friends who yawned during the ceremony.

The reception blew our mind. Hosted at Hilton’s massive banquet hall, with open bar and neon-colored lighting showing the whole venue, the evening started with the wedding party each entering in hip pop move. We stood up at the smile and stare of our more mature neighbors, clapping and dancing with them. It was a great time! Food wasn’t impressive, but the mood was enchanting.

Uncle Thomas was beaming with joy. He is of short statue but his presence always commands attention. He’s a honorable man who does an excellent job loving his wife and raising his daughters. We are blessed to be his neighbor.



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 10-year Anniversary of Working

I graduated in December 2001, worked an unpaid internship and several part-time jobs in 2002 and became a full-time employee in 2003. It has been 10 years since then.

In the context of my one and precious life, a decade is a long time. After all, a 24-year old is fundamentally different from a 34-year old.

Did I live my dream? Not exactly. I was fueled by undefined enthusiasm and ambition to achieve and grow. I didn’t have a strategy, and the only thing I did know was to press on. For years I was consumed by my work and how others evaluate me. And I did grow, made decent money and some recognition. Along the way by pure luck I met some awesome, unconventional and wise people, without whom my journey would be barren. They shaped, inspired and supported me. Some will be friends for a life time. I have gone a long way. As I  pause, turn around, over the peaks and valleys, I see that place from which I started and a lovely stranger that I miss.

What do I want to tell that stranger?

I learn busy-ness is an addiction. It could ridiculously boosts someone’s ego and sap her juice. Chronic busy-ness is laziness.

I learn to value mine and other’s time. After all, it is the most precious resource that we have. Do give my time to what truly matters, and treat other’s time like mine.

I learn to do less, and do them well.

I learn to listen, to empathize, and to be vulnerable.

I learn to say no, and to honor my essence.

I learn that growth is best done organically, and I need to trust life’s own intelligence. She knows where she is going.

I learn that it is OK to do what you dream doing. At the end, nothing beats this. Go to Paris for short-term language courses, visit Canne or Venice for film festivals, go to Joe Hasaishi and Yoyo Ma’s concerts; go study in Stanford, read and write,  make a documentary.

Happy Anniversary. Indeed.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


今天Zoe滿十七天了。那是沒日沒夜的十一天,所以感覺已經很久了。Zoe從一個不知所措五海六踵的小烘山芋, 慢慢變成一個香噴噴的小嬰兒 - 啼哭, 吃奶, 拉屎,撒尿,睡覺 - 週而復始。

她睡的時候, 我常會回放在產房里的那些天 - 那是生命里最重要的轉折和過渡。進去出來之間,我的世界發生了本質的變化。

7/17我睡的很不踏實, 多次起床尿尿。凌晨被出血的感覺驚醒, 之後就隱隱腹痛。 我本能地覺得大幕即將拉開,但理智不停地說服自己不會這麼早。 前一天剛做得產檢, 一指都沒有開到,連她入盆沒有都不確定。最重要的,就是我還沒有做好心理準備。

凌晨4點多我回到床上, 假裝鎮定。Henry睡得稀裡糊塗的問我怎樣, 我說有點動靜。誰知道動靜越來越明顯了,就是來月經的感覺。產前課上學過算數宮縮,我決定要自己很有把握後再給醫生打電話,說到底,還是在逃避。Henry很快清醒了,拿出iPad, 迅速地找了一個算宮縮的app. 我認真地數了整整一個小時後,終於拿起了電話。


放下電話,已經6點了。我決定等到9點打電話去診所做個labor check. Henry忙著交接當天的工作,我則躺在床上,不知道想甚麼好。怎麼這麼快!?

去診所的路上明顯的感到痛感加強了, 到了醫生一看,開了三zhi…..


我坐著輪椅到了產婦病房。我的第一位護士叫Kathleen, 圍產醫生是Dr. Sara Rankin — 一位修長且aloof的美人。

Dr.Rankin 看了我之後建議我到病房外走動兩個小時,加快宮縮。She’s not convinced yet that I was uncomfortable enough to be kept in the hospital! Henry帶著我,緩慢的移動者,感覺越來越痛,像最糟糕的痛經。老公好心拼命鼓勵,我卻已經眼冒金星 - After only 30 minutes. 回到病房,我縮在沙發上,連叫的力氣都沒有,只能默默的掉眼淚,真是說不出的難受呀。Dr. Rankin看到我的模樣,決定把我留下. 謝天謝地。

在我的Epidural team準備開工之前,Zoe讓我把早上匆忙吃的東西全都吐了出來。Better now than later.

上了Epidural, 我就必須留在床上了。然而慢慢遠去的痛感讓我平靜下來。終於,我又能夠思考,能夠正常地說話了。於是就正式開始了等待的過程。

Epidural的缺點之一就是麻醉效果的不均衡。我的右側身體沒有絲毫痛感,但左邊仍然又中度痛經的感覺。技師和醫生來看了我好幾次,調整針頭的位置,試圖尋找其他可能的原因。最後稍有好轉,我們決定leave it as it is.


下午就在等待中過去了。媽媽和Henry吃了晚飯(McDonald Fish N Filet and Chinese Takeout) 我則拼命喝水。好渴呀。

可能在6點左右,Kathleen帶著Pitocin來了。據說我的宮縮強度不夠,所以醫生決定給一點催產素。生孩子之前我看了不少書和紀錄片,對美國的育嬰文化有了一些認識。Pitocin 和Epidural都是被綠色人士批判的東西。Epidrual slows down labor and so Pitocin was given to speed it up--都是artificial process, 且都會有副作用(生完孩子後才意識到後果-三度撕傷,尿路感染,等等。但是我還是會選擇Epidural. 至少那天的疼痛我無法忍受。)我有些無奈,無痛是要付出代價的。

七點換班,來了一位新護士,Jodi. 我至今都時常會想起她。她和我們遇到的所有工作人員一樣友好認真,但她多了一份親切感。她經驗非常豐富,讓人信任。



一點多的時候我覺得胃酸不停的向上湧,Jodi來一看,宣佈:I think you’re ready to push. 媽媽和Henry如驚弓之鳥一下睡意全無。

我的床被搖平,Jodi指導Henry和我媽一人抱一條腿, Dr. Rankin在床尾坐著。頭頂上的手術燈一下子亮了,氣氛緊張了,大幕即將拉開。

Jodi像將軍一樣大聲地叫著口令,從一數到十:hold your breath, push like you are really constipated. 我很努力地想照辦,可是下面毫無感覺。也許我面目猙獰,Jodi說:“Don’t push on your face only.”

于是乎,我继续用力着,但一点把握都没有。只有通过大家的”good job”了解进度,心里又怀疑大家说好听的安慰我。又不知过了多久,医生说了句ok ok, stop…….

模糊间只见一个红通通的小东西被拉了出来,哇哇大叫。it’s a little girl…….太好了,我疲惫的大脑说。滑溜溜Zoe从护士的手里到了我的胸前趴着,我还是抱着她哭了。我妈外发的email中说我是激动的哭了。其实并不确切。我觉得自己更多的是松了一口气,又有些一惊一咋。感激自己生了一个有胳臂有腿声音洪亮的小娃,总之算相安无事。Jodi很快让小人趴着吸奶头,她竟然很熟练地招办。一下子,产房从紧张到了平静有序地清理阶段。


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


雖然孕晚期有多種不便 - 老想尿尿,睡覺容易醒,走路不穩,胡思亂想,許多媽媽都急切地想把寶寶生下來。可當我看著自己的大肚子, 竟有點不捨 - 這好像已經成為自己的一部份-my proud extension:)

九個月來, 我是個袋鼠。走到哪裡,小人就得一起去。摸摸肚子就能逗逗她;還能感覺到她在肚子里做遊戲。天天在鏡子里看到圓滾滾的自己,滑稽得很 - 人竟然能變成這個模樣!Henry說:I think you will miss being pregnant.  是呀。不僅僅我miss, 他也一定miss. 除了前三個月折騰,我的脾氣可好了。有耐心,又會撒嬌, 溫柔體貼,像換了一個人一樣。


接下來的日子會是漫長的學習過程吧! 即要無比的虛心,又要很又信心。會很累並掙扎,但也會無比的快樂。

親愛的即將出世的小朋友,祝你的旅途順利。進入一個全新的環境,一定不要怕。等待你的是精彩美麗的人生。你的爸媽會興致勃勃地為你做導遊,他倆雖然沒有甚麼經驗,也一定會犯錯誤,但是熱情高漲,請你多多包涵。 媽媽送你一篇文章,作為你出生前的賀禮。

好拉 - 好好休息,見面再聊:)


写给孩子的一封信(转) 孩子,我首先希望你自始至终都是一个理想主义者。你可以是农民,可以是工程师,可以是演员,可以是流浪汉,但你必须是个理想主义者。当你童年,我们讲英雄的故事给你听,并不是要你一定成为英雄,而是希望你具有纯正的品格;当你少年,我们让你接触诗歌、绘画、音乐,是为了让你的心灵填满高尚的情趣。这些高尚的情趣会支撑你的一生,使你在最严酷的冬天也不会忘记玫瑰的芳香。 理想会使人出众。  孩子,不要为自己的外形担忧。理想纯洁你的气质,而最美貌的女人也会因为庸俗而令人生厌。通向理想的道路往往不尽如人意,而你亦会为此受尽磨难。但是,孩子,你尽管去争取,理想主义者的结局悲壮而决不可怜。在那貌似坎坷的人生中,你会结识到许多智者和君子,你会见到许多旁人无法遇到的风景和奇迹。选择平庸虽稳妥,但绝无色彩。不要为蝇头小利放弃自己的理想,不要为某种潮流而放弃自己的信念。物质世界的外表太过复杂,你要懂得如何去拒绝虚荣的诱惑。理想不是实惠的东西,它往往无法带给你尘世的享受。因此你必须习惯无人欣赏你,学会精神享受,学会与他人不同。 其次,孩子,我希望你是个踏实的人。 人生太过短促,而虚的东西又太多,你很容易眼花缭乱,最终一事无成。如果你是个美貌的女孩子,年轻的时候会有许多男性宠你,你得到的东西过于容易,这会使你流于浅薄和虚伪;如果你是一个极聪明的男孩,又会以为自己能够成就许多大事而流于轻佻。记住,每个人的能力有限,我们活在世上能做好一件事足矣。写好一本书,做好一个主妇……不要轻视平凡的人,不要投机取巧,不要攻击自己做不到的事。你长大后会知道,做好一件好事太难,但决不要放弃。 你要懂得和珍惜感情。 不管男人女人,不管墙内墙外,相交一场实在不容易。交友的过程会有误会和摩擦,但你想一想,偌大世界,能有缘结伴而行的又有几人?你要明白朋友终会离去,生活中能有人伴在你身边,听你倾谈,倾谈给你听,你就应该感激。要爱自己和爱他人,要懂自己和懂他人。你的心要如溪水般柔软,你的眼波要像春天一样妩媚。你要会流泪,会孤身一人坐在黑暗中听伤感的音乐。你要懂得欣赏悲剧,悲剧能丰富你的心灵。 希望你不要媚俗。 你是个独立的人,无人能抹杀你的独立性,除非你向世俗妥协。要学会欣赏真,要在重重面具下看到真。世上圆滑标准的人很多,但出类拔萃的人极少。而往往出类拔萃又隐藏在卑琐狂浪之下。在形式上,我们无法与既定的世俗争斗,而在内心,我们都是自己的国王。如果你的脸上出现谄媚的笑容,我将会羞愧地掩面而去。世俗许多东西虽耀眼却无价值,不要把自己置于“众口”的天平上,你会因此无所适从,人云亦云。  在具体的做人上,我希望你不要打断别人的谈话,不要娇气十足。你每天至少要拿出两小时来读书,要回信给写信给你的朋友。不要老是想着别人应该为你做些什么,而要想着怎么去帮助他人。借他人的东西要还,不要随便接收别人的恩惠。要记住,别人的东西,再好也是别人的,自己的东西,再差也是自己的。 还有一件事,虽然做起来很难,但相当重要,这就是要有勇气正视自己的缺点。你会一年年地长大,你渐渐会遇到比你强,比你优秀的人,你会发现自己身上有许多你所厌恶的缺点。这会使你沮丧和自卑。但你一定要正视它,不要躲避,要一点一点地加以改正。战胜自己比征服他人还要艰巨和有意义。 不管世界潮流如何变化,但人的优秀品质却是永恒的:正直、勇敢、独立。我希望你是一个优秀的人。

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment