Posts tagged inspiration
43 year old Italian artist, Stefano Furlani, creates amazing characters and scenes with stones carefully selected for their color, shape, and size, found by him and his son on the beaches of the Italian town of Fano. It all started with an amusing game of finding stones with unusual shapes and geometries, but then they began to start putting them together, assembling more and more detailed and elaborate compositions. But their pieces built during the day were destroyed by the evening. So Stefano got the idea to paste them on a wooden base to cherish their little artworks for life. The designs range from animals, to famous music and movie stars, and to underwater scenes.
Furlani’s work has been acclaimed in Italy, written about in London, and a new show will be appearing in Germany this fall. His efforts began as a way to entertain his young son Davide on the beach in their town. Now he takes his skills to school in Italy where he helps young disabled children create their own work of sea–stone art. In July, he will be coming to Massachusetts For his first exhibition in the U.S. How I wish I could go to see his marvelous stone arts. The following are some of his creations.
One day I received a text message from my acting agent informing me that there was an audition in Santa Monica for someone who knew Tai Chi. Being Chinese, Tai chi was a part of my ancestry; I felt its calming powers flow though my veins. The only problem was that I had never actually learned how to do it. So, naturally I did what anyone else in my position would have done: I consulted the oracle (YouTube). Full of confidence the next morning after having spent hours studying Tai chi videos, I thought I would ace the audition. But when I went in, I was shocked to see at least eight other decision-makers in the room – from casting directors to product representatives and more.
When the cameraperson asked me if I knew Tai chi, I knew I couldn’t say I didn’t know. My acting coach taught me that once I showed up to an audition, I couldn’t reveal any problems with anything they asked me to do. But deep inside, I knew that I was in trouble. Despite the fact that none of them were Asian, I suspected that at least one or two of them were skilled Tai chi practitioners.
During the audition, I tried to recreate what I had seen on YouTube but feelings of remorse for being dishonest about my skill level dominated my performance. They thanked me for my appearance, but I still left in embarrassment. I decided that night that I needed to learn Tai chi. I went to the park the next morning, where I knew I would find at least one group of people practicing. Ready to learn, I joined the first group I saw and began to imitate their movements. Luckily, a master teacher who would visit from time to time frequented the group I picked. We all benefited greatly from her teachings. Because of my strong desire to learn, I went there every day, seven days a week. I would never be ashamed of myself again for misrepresenting the truth. The only way I could fix things this time was to truly learn Tai chi. Over the last two years, not only have I practiced diligently, I’ve also learned many different styles.
What I learned through this experience is that life can be full of unpleasant circumstances. Yet, we have the ability to transform these small, otherwise insignificant moments of discomfort into large and lasting opportunities of personal growth. If I hadn’t been open to receiving the motivation that transpired from my own shame I probably would have never learned the many different styles of Tai chi. Now, it is one of my favorite activities. It has not only helped to improve my overall health, but it has also helped me learn how to relax and calm myself down. The benefits of mastering Tai chi are simply too numerous to count.
I enjoy acting so much, and it has provided me with a plethora of opportunities to step outside of my comfort zone and learn new things. Without acting, I never would have had such a desire to master Tai chi. But, acting has just been one of many a catalysts for growth and exploration in my life. Our environment constantly calls for us to learn new things all the time – we are simply tasked with recognizing these opportunities and welcoming them with open minds and hearts. Once we are able to do this, then we will be blessed with broadened perspective and endless miracles in our lives.
Here is the Yang Style 24 Forms beautifully executed.
The form was the result of an effort by the Chinese Sports Committee, which, in 1956, brought together by four t’ai chi teachers – to create a simplified form of t’ai chi as exercise for the masses. The creators truncated the traditional family style t’ai chi forms to 24 postures; taking about six minutes to perform and to give the beginner an introduction to the essential elements of t’ai chi ch’uan, yet retain the traditional flavor of traditional longer hand forms (in general, 88-108 postures). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24-form_tai_chi_chuan
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I met my friend Shaoting when I first began my career in marketing. She was the manager of a doctor’s office I went to in order to solicit home health services for a company I was working with. The more we saw of each other, the more we discovered we had in common. Soon we found ourselves in a friendship that felt as though it had been there since childhood.
Like friends often do, Shaoting and I shared with each other our wishes and dreams in life. From the moment I told her about my desire to one day write a book that would uplift people and encourage them to seek spiritual enlightenment, she proved to be one of my biggest supporters.
I remember the day so vividly. It was July 31, 2009 and we met at a restaurant to have dinner together. As I shared more of my life’s stories with her, she again suggested it would be good for me to start a blog so I’d have a place where I could write down all of my thoughts and memories. She reassured me that I didn’t have to share the posts publically until I was ready.
Shaoting had set up a blog for herself two and half years earlier. She enjoyed sharing bits of her life in Irvine with people outside of the US and thought I may enjoy taking a similar approach if and when I was ready to publish my blog entries. She had mentioned her idea several times, but until that day I never really took her idea seriously.
We had spent nearly three hours together that night before she hopped in her car to make the 45-minute drive home. When she got home, I received a call from her at about 12:00am saying that she was going to set up my blog for me. Shaoting was a very busy woman who barely had enough time to post her own blogs, so I was very touched to learn that my stories moved her so much that she took matters into her own hands and with such urgency to set up the blog for me that very night.
As we talked on the phone so late in the evening and into the wee hours of the morning, I knew that God was working through her to get me to start sharing my stories with the world. That whole day and night I felt His presence, and I knew that, although she had always been a wonderful friend on her own, her actions that night were really guided by Him.
When I first started the blog in July 2009, my intent was just to write and store articles in English to refer to later on down the road when I was ready to begin writing my book. Since you’re reading my publish postings now, it is probably clear to you that I somehow managed to abandon my original intent with the blog of using it just as storage. The story of why I decided to publish my posts begins with an explanation of my Chinese blog’s name, Zero Limits….
I was first introduced to the book, Zero Limits, by Dr. Lan, in a May, 2009 Book Club meeting – just a few short months before I started my blog. The book reveals the simple, yet life-transforming power of four phrases: I love you, thank you, I am sorry and please forgive me. It’s all based in on the power of love, written by an author attempting to spread love. I was fascinated by the ideas behind the story, so I immediately located a bookstore that had the book in stock.
The most intriguing phenomena occurred on my way to pick up a copy of the book. I was driving on Highway 60 heading towards East Los Angeles towards the bookstore. About ten minutes into my journey on the Freeway, I noticed that there were at least a dozen or more pure white doves flying next to me on the right side of my car. They kept following my car, flying so low that I worried they would get hit by another car, so I yelled out “fly higher!” By some miracle, it seemed that they could understand me and the urgency of my message, so they immediately flew higher and out of my sight. I never saw so many doves before.
I saw a white dove once; it walked back and forth outside of the window of my husband’s hospital bed a couple days before his passing. White doves represent the Holy Spirit in the Bible, so as the doves flew next to my car on the freeway that day, I knew in my heart that the book I was on my way to get, Zero Limits, was destined by the powers above to be something very special. Sure enough, the name Zero Limits, and the message of love that it conveys, popped up in my mind when Shaoting asked me what I wanted to call my Chinese blog.
After seeing a video about Dr. Lan’s book, Zero Limits in September, 2009, I was motivated to translate it into Chinese. Although I am from Taiwan, I pursued my Graduate degree in the United States where I have lived ever since. Over time, I gained far more experience writing in English than Chinese. In fact, at the time I decided to translate Dr. Lan’s article I did not even know how to type in Chinese. However, with a little hard work and determination I soon taught myself how.
The motivation that moved me to translate the article was unlike the typical kind that usually pushes me to accomplish something. Instead, it was as though this motivation was breathed into me by a higher power. It was as though I stood outside myself, watching as I worked through the translation. There was a divine purpose behind the translation, however I wasn’t sure what that was quite yet.
Once I finished the translation, I heard a voice that told me to publish it rather than store it on my blog. I did not want to publish anything, so I ignored the voice and subsequently suffered through three consecutive sleepless nights. On the fourth night I gave into the voice’s suggestions and published my very first article on September 18, 2009. After that day I could miraculously fall asleep with ease once again. He wouldn’t let me rest until I completed His work.
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Years ago, I encountered one of the most difficult and devastating times in my life. I lost my father and my husband within one month of each other. At the time of my father’s passing in Taiwan, I was pregnant with my son in the United States. Because of my delicate condition and the fact that I already had to come to terms of the reality of my husband’s worsening condition, my friends here and family in Taiwan decided not to share the news of my father’s passing until after my son was born. In the meantime, I was forced to try to survive in a new country, the United States, where I was used to being taken care of by my husband.
As his condition worsened, I battled my own fears and anxieties of learning to do things on my own in a foreign country. Then, a ray of hope entered our lives on the day that my son was born. The light only lasted twelve days before my husband passed away, and I entered into a period of unimaginable darkness. Things only grew worse by the news of my father’s passing. I felt like I was living in the dark, cold, underground subway station, completely deprived of light. As I tried to navigate my way through this all-consuming darkness of loss on my own, my professor and colleagues advised me to see a psychiatrist to help me confront my fears, stress and emotions revolving around this loss, so I did.
I started to see a professional psychiatrist. I visited him in his office a few times, and before I knew it, he had changed the location of our meetings to a restaurant. I began to feel that his feelings were impure. It was as if he was transforming our meetings, meant to help provide support as I grieved substantial loss, into dates. He acted jealous if I told him of any other men in my life, immediately telling me that they were bad news. Although he never tried to turn our relationship into anything physical, he started to treat me like a girlfriend seeming to forget that I was instead his patient, there to seek his help, not his courtship. He became obsessed, bringing his wife to the flea market where I sold Chinese food so he could secretly watch me from afar. Had his wife known of his deceitful agenda, it would have caused her pain and potentially harmed their children as well.
Although he had many professional psychiatric certifications hanging on his office walls, his motivations for seeing me as a patient were impure and completely unprofessional. He was supposed to show care for me as his patient, but could not provide me with this service to which I was entitled. Instead, his selfishness came out and turned him into a predator. Any love that may have been there within his true self had been suffocated by his desire for me, causing me to lose trust in him. I stopped seeing him as a result of this misguided trust.
It was regretful that his impure motivations, conjured up by his ego, caused him to fail in carrying out his mission as a psychiatrist. In his case, true love lost in a battle against the ego, therefore preventing me from ever getting to see or know his true self. Had his intentions been pure, guided only by true love, he would have been able to fulfill his duty to me, his patient. Instead, he was blinded by lust and possession and guided by his false self, his ego.
As we can tell by the movement of a watch whether or not it is real or fake, we too can tell by the movement of people as to whether or not their love is pure. In order to do this, we simply look to see if they’re acting in the best interest of those they come in contact with, or if they are instead acting from a place directed by personal wants and desires. Knowing that this psychiatrist was being guided by lust and not true love, I knew it was time for me to move on.
I wouldn’t allow this negative experience to bring an end to my quest for help, so I decided to seek the advice and assistance of a social worker. This social worker was a 34-year-old woman. After entering her office, she invited me to explain all that had transpired in my life. There was honesty in her voice that triggered emotion in me that was completely freeing. I began to weep uncontrollably as I described to her the loss of my two loved ones. As I wiped away my tears, I thought she was going to give me words of consultation. Strangely, I did not hear any sound. When I looked up, I saw that she was silently sobbing, with a river of tears streaming down her cheeks. I couldn’t believe it – she was crying with me.
At that moment, I recognized that this woman was showing me her true self. I felt nothing but love coming from her. This love touched me and warmed me and seamlessly melted away my sorrows. She filled me with the healing energy of love. As I left her office that day, I felt lightness conquer the dark shadows that had been cast upon me ever since I found out my husband was sick. For the first time in a long time, I finally felt that the warmth of the sunshine. I felt loved, and I was comforted. What a wonderful feeling of being loved again. The love she gave to me that the day is with me still as true love is never-ending.
As I decipher between the real and the fake selves that I have encountered in recent years and in recalling the periods of darkness and light in my own life, I now know that our genuine selves are always there – they just get silenced by selfishness or other ego-driven ills at times. Having been a beneficiary of true love, given selflessly to me by this social worker, I am now aware of this power and potential each of us have within. This love, in its purest form, has provided me with immense healing in my own life and I am forever grateful to the woman who gave this gift to me. Her love bathed me in light during one of the darkest periods of my life. In turn, I have gained intimate knowledge of the greatness we can contribute to the world when we share the true love that’s in our hearts.
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I feel fortunate to have gotten to spend this Thanksgiving together with my family at my youngest daughter’s house. All of my children were there, with the exception of my oldest daughter who lives in Hawaii. I was hoping to carry on a new tradition that we began as a family during last year’s Thanksgiving celebration, which was to have everyone say a prayer of gratitude and share what they were thankful for in their lives. To me, gratitude is just as important as love in this life. Unfortunately, my son had to leave early to go to work, so we were unable to go around the room and pray one by one. Missing out on sharing these special reflections of thanks made me feel like the day was left incomplete.
The day after Thanksgiving I went to visit my husband’s grave. It was his birthday. I thought that visiting my husband would help to resolve the feeling that Thanksgiving had left me with by completing whatever was missing within my heart. Yet sadly my emotions still got the best of me.
I knelt down in the grass next to Ming’s grave and tears began to fall like rain. With each drop that fell to the ground, I felt more and more hopeless and helpless. It had been 17 years since he left us, yet the pain of his loss hurt just as much as the moment he passed. I missed his hugs. I missed his kisses. I missed his smile. I missed his love…
As I sat there next to him, I let go of all self-control and let my emotions run free. I didn’t need to pretend I was strong, I just needed at that moment to feel weak, to feel vulnerable and to surrender to the feeling of loss. I let the feeling of my husband’s loss consume every inch of my very being. All I wanted was to be his wife again. I wanted him to take care of me and to be by my side once again. I wanted his strong arms wrapped around me to shelter me from the lonely life that I was forced to endure without him.
Seventeen years without him and all of a sudden the loneliness seemed too much to take. I quickly and impulsively jumped up to escape the sadness that had taken over me in the cemetery. I got into my car, turned on the ignition and gently stepped on the gas pedal to head home. I rolled about a foot before the sudden sound of loud, vibrant music brought my car and me to a screeching halt. The music was full of joy and energy, as it slowly breathed life into the stillness of the cemetery. Before I knew it, I was out of my car and walking in the direction of those sounds.
As I drew nearer, I could tell that it was coming from what appeared to be a Hispanic family. They were all wearing smiles as they sang and danced around a grave covered in brightly colored flowers and festive birthday balloons. A four-man band provided the soundtrack to this joyous occasion – a stark contrast to the nearby graves attended by mourners in black.
Here I was – too preoccupied by the sadness of my husband’s loss to celebrate his life on his birthday, of all days. The family in front of me was instead celebrating the life of their loved one on their birthday, and feeling grateful for the memories and times they shared together. From this new vantage point, life was so much more beautiful – in fact, its beauty moved me to tears. In that moment, I realized that the only way I could be liberated from my sorrows was to transform them into gratitude.
If I could share this life lesson with my daughter, perhaps she could find joy in celebrating her own birthday again. You see, she and my late husband both share the same birthday, November 28. Since his passing, their birthday has only caused my daughter pain, as it has served as a reminder that he is no longer with us. I never knew how to make the situation better for her. I couldn’t go back in time and change her birthday, nor could I find a way to encourage her to celebrate this day as she once did. Cutting the birthday cake used to bring smiles, and now, even 17 years after his death, it only brings my daughter tears.
As I continued to watch the birthday celebration taking place in the cemetery, I decided I would share my experience with my daughter. I’d tell her that while its okay to feel saddened by loss, eventually we must learn to fill the void in our hearts with gratitude for all that was gained by having known our departed loved one. And, while people may leave this world before we’re ready to say good-bye, it doesn’t mean they are gone forever: their memory, their smile and the essence of their very being, remains alive and everlasting in our hearts. They deserve to be celebrated, not mourned.
I decided that this was the last Thanksgiving I would ever choose to spend in a state of sadness and sorrow. This experience, catalyzed by these incredible people celebrating before me, provided me with more than just a deeper understanding of gratitude – it also caused me to actually feel gratitude. I felt it seep through my skin, enter my bloodstream and pump into my heart. It made my body feel warm and my mind become crystal clear. All I wanted to do then was scream out: “God, I can not thank you enough! Thank you, thank you, thank you!” I was consumed by my gratitude.
Sometimes when we choose to live with an open and gracious heart instead of one that is unreceptive and closed, God provides us with endless possibilities, opportunities, people and things to be thankful for. The day after Thanksgiving, I learned that someone ( Joe Lee) who I had met recently through an acquaintance had shared a beautiful posts on Facebook, introducing me to his readers and recommending the read both of my English blog-LoveNeverending and my Chinese Blog- 零極限Zero Limits. This was not only a much appreciated gesture, but I considered it to be one of the greatest compliments I could receive, coming from a successful news reporter who used to work for The China Post and the Chinese World Journal who had also done some translation work for a recently published book by Pang Jiaoming, “The Orphans of Shao.”
I guess this is the power of gratitude, of appreciation. Being thankful should not be a fleeting, momentary thing – it should be a constant state of mind and being. It is true that bad things happen to good people all the time, however, if we invite greatness into every moment, we will learn to live with a gracious heart – not just on Thanksgiving, but every single day.
The following are the posts which Joe Lee shared with friends on his Facebook.
With respect, I recommend this very inspiring website written by Alice Lin, who turns darkness into light, agony to joy, hatred to love, helplessness into hope. Alice graduated from the top university in Taiwan (National Taiwan University), studied in MIT…I don’t have to say she is very talented because you will discover it yourself. Good literary works don’t need a lot of good words. Enjoy her website and enlightened thoughts!
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偶然得知台灣大學畢業的鍾馨儀寫了很多非常感人的文章。我看了這些文章後，有 感這些文章引人戰勝黑暗，鼓舞人心，賺人熱淚。很多人被她的真誠助人的文章感 動。她的文章不但發人深省，啟迪靈性，也鼓勵人們超越困難，迎向幸福的人生！你會喜歡她的故事！11/28 /2014
在這段時間不斷的煎熬、掙扎一直落在我身上。它讓我想起聖經上的約伯, 他是一位非常正直, 敬畏神, 遠離惡事的義人。上帝允許撒旦折磨測試他的忠誠, 因而有許多悲劇臨到約伯。可憐的約伯甚至失去一切變得一無…