Magens Bay --San Thomas

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Journey to the Heart of Spain...

We left Rome to Madrid by plane. It was such a ashamed that we used Madrid as our hop between Greece and Italy. Definitely must come back to this beautiful city. Meanwhile, due to the limited time that we had on hands, we managed to take a bus from Hotel to the downtown. Our luck was with us, when we walked into one of the local restaurant and it turned out to be a blast! After lunch, we walked all the way to visit the Plaza de Mayor and Royal Palace of Madrid. It was very tiring at the end but we were so happy to find a local Kentucky Fried Chicken. They tasted so good! :-)

And here some photos for your amusement!

Downtown Madrid

Plaza de la Cibeles
Considered by many to be the most pleasing of Madrid's plazas, it features a well known statue of the Goddess Cibeles. The plaza sits amidst many of the city's most noteworthy buildings, including the ostentatious Spanish Royal Mail Office.
Plaza Mayor, located in the heart of Old Town Madrid, is the grand square of the city. The buildings around the Plaza have burned several times, the last time in 1790. Although known for its architecture and vast expanse, the Plaza is best known as one of the city's most popular meeting places. During summer evenings, it is filled with tourists and Madrileños (Madrid natives), who gather to enjoy the company, dance, eat, sing and watch performers.

Local fish market
Royal Palace of Madrid

 Almudena Cathedral
Hope you enjoyed this journey with me visiting Madrid in few minutes :-)

Have a nice weekend!

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

The Next Must Learn Language...

I remember awhile back when Japanese translator were desperate needed. Pretty much all of the software that were written would be localized to Japanese. Japanese translator, teacher and engineers were definite on demand. I even managed to learn Japanese but sadly I have given them back to my teacher and friends. But now …

With China has captured majority of the market shares, what do you think the next must language would be? What would us, the parents, do to prepare our next generation for this new wave? 
You have probably guessed it by now ...
In fact, ,I just read an article on The Wall Street Journal—“To improve Kids’ Chinese, parents Head to Asia.” And we are talking about Western parents with no Chinese ancestors in their bloodline—Chinese has becoming a MUST learn language!

Property of
Able to speak Chinese would give one an ability to communicate with roughly 14-15 percents of the world population. And from the economic stand point, it would definitely enable someone's wing to spread much wider than you could imagine --think 1.3 billion!

An immersion Mandarin language has been slowly capturing parents in the US --and we are talking about Chinese parents and beyond. I personally have met many non Chinese descendants kids and adults who are pretty fluent with Chinese and they are amazingly good!

Chinese language is definitely a different animal to tackle, with its thousands of characters to learn and not to mention its five tones that one has to master. According to The Wall Street Journal, "But this time, after-school classes aren't enough for some people. Families are enrolling their children in Mandarin-immersion programs that are springing up from California to Maine. They are hiring tutors, Skyping with teachers in Beijing and recruiting Chinese-speaking nannies. Some are stocking their playrooms with Disney videos in Mandarin—not to mention the iPhone apps aimed at making kids into Mandarin speakers."

Now the question is Are you keeping up with the wave yet? 
Be thinking about that question and I hope you enjoy this little journey with me visiting the "Next Must Learn Language!"

Until next stop,

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Relationship Knot …

Months ago, we went to see an exhibit of Britain in Victorian days and at one of the stop, my girls were shown on how to tie a knot on a rope. There are many ways to tie a knot. Some ways turn out to be beautiful and some-- practical. Some knots can be sturdy and some can be loose --depending on how we tie them.

Properties of
Just like the knot that we tie on a rope, in a relationship, we often end up tying a knot together by walking down the aisle. If we look back and think how we tie our knot have everything to do with how we may end up today. Some knots were tied in such a rush and over time, they get looser and looser. Some knots were tied in such caution and they last-for some time, perhaps forever at the least until their last breaths. Just like the rope, some relationships that were tied without much given time, eventually will come loose. But, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be fixed. All it take are constant check points and perhaps time to tighten them or perhaps re-tying them.

Even those ropes that were tied strongly and perhaps with much needed time, if they are not taken care of, would eventually dried up and perhaps break apart when time come. Just like in a relationship, those knots that we tied strong, still need constant care and perhaps re-check point to ensure that we can withstand whatever come to our ways.Only then, 'till death do us apart will truly stand.

I hope you enjoy this little piece of my writing-- visiting the relationship knot.

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Not bad! Not bad!

The other day my older one was reading my younger one’s essay that she wrote for her literature class. I loved it so much that I have encouraged her to enter into Sandra’s writing workshop and Writing prompt of the week. (

After reading it, her only comment was “Not bad!”
I can't help myself but asking, “I don’t get it why do we use double negative words?”
“Mommy, double negative means positive!”
“Very true! But, there are so many positive words out there. Why would you want to illustrate something you like with double negative words.”
I went on, “To me, those words are used because we don’t feel like we want to acknowledge how good the other person’s creation that we tend to use double negative words.”

I guess my point was we don’t have to exaggerate the admiration or encouragement but we could truly pick something we like and elaborate on that. It is more meaningful than a generic word, “Good job!”
My girls know when I praise them …l always try to praise them on what I truly believe is good. If I have nothing better to say … I would try to keep it to myself unless my constructive feedback are meaningful for them to advance themselves, otherwise—keeping my mouth shut.

After couple minutes, she came back and told her younger sister, “You know what I like about your writing, it is the part where the conversation took place between the main character and the teacher.” Then she went on, “I also really like your endings and it reminded me of a movie where that monk spoke about…”
As you can tell, a very simple but truthful comments have sent the whole conversation into a very positive direction where they both chatted for a little bit more about the writing and the monk.

If you have a choice using a positive word versus double negative word, what would you choose?
I hope you enjoy this little visit on “Double negative words,” as much as I enjoyed writing it and experienced it thru my own life.

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Somebody That I used to Know …

[Disclaimer: Sandra has a blog hop for writers’ workshop that I am participating in ( and the following is the second fiction that I have ever written so far. If you have missed my very fist one, co-authored with my girl, check that out!  Of course, if for whatever reasons, the characters/settings… are similar to the any fiction out there, it is definitely  pure coincidence. So, sit back and enjoy!]

Not sure how many times have I stood in front of this mirror ... Funny is, I can’t see myself very well! All I am seeing is the crack in the heart of the mirror. Yes! There is a crack--No, there was a crack and it doesn't matter how many time I tried to fix it … I can see it clearly while others may not be able to. It looks just fine from outside.

“Let’s just be friends.”
“Friends… I see …That kiss didn’t mean anything to you?”
“That was friendship kiss!”
“I see … Friendship kiss … Yeah … sure. Of course”
“I ...never mind! I just read you wrong” –I murmured softly and walked away …

That was the last time I saw him. I packed my feeling and went away. Never looked back! The truth is it hurt and still hurts … At the same time, I was grateful. Thankful to him for ending my misery. We shouldn’t have met at the beginning anyway. It wasn’t meant to be. Those words just ended everything. Ended my confusion, ended my misery, and ended some dreams of mine.  Funny thing was …I didn’t cry nor did I argue further... 

1.5 years ago ….

“I am so sorry …Let me help you.”
“That is okay .. I should have watched where I gone”
“It was my fault.”
Then there was a moment of silence as we locked our gazes.
“Um … I am late for the meeting.” –I broke the silence
“Here .. your papers and I am Alex”
“Um … I am Crystal”
“I will see you around …”

Months went by and I was busy with my work and planning for our upcoming vacation, my fiancée, Phillip,  and I. Yes, I was engaged to Phillip that I have known for ages. In fact he was the first guy who stole my ‘first kiss’ from me. We both had been busy with our works and barely had time for each time so the vacation was a way for us to indulge and spending time together. Smiling to myself while thinking about how romantic the trip was going to be for us.

“That was such a sweet smile …” –Suddenly a voice broke the silence and brought me back from my fantasy.
I looked up and there he was … that guy!
“How have you been? You look so happy… must be thinking about your boy friend?”
“Fiancée  ..”
“Ah … “
“Is your Fiancée as busy as you are too?”
“Yeah … busy is good”
“Is that LV?” –pointing at my Louis Vuitton bag

I looked at him and ignored his question. But, he went on …
“What were you thinking?”
“Oh .. that. Thinking about our upcoming trip.”
“Where are you going?”
“We are going to Europe.”
“Where in Europe?”
I felt queasy because I thought this guy is a bit nosy. But, I forced myself to answer anyway …”France”
“Sound fun”
“Yeah … it should be!”
Then I said “Good bye” and walked to my car.

Strange guy, I thought to myself. Anyway … I was so happy and couldn’t wait to go home. My mom had cooked my favorite dish today –Spicy shrimp. As I started to move my car, I saw him at the exit way and we looked at each other again. He smiled and gave the way. Then he followed me to the freeway. I didn’t think much of him …but felt a bit strange.

“You are so tall and you look like a model!”
“Um …”
“When are you going on vacation?”
“ In eight months.”
As we sat down on the break room drinking our tea, we chatted for little longer and if it wasn’t for a meeting, we could have chatted some more. Very often we would bump into each other unexpectedly and ended up in the break room and little bit by a little bit ….

“Hey Alex, let’s go for lunch!”
“Let’s go!”
“And you are driving?”
“Do I have a choice?”
“Nope!” –I gave out one of my sweetest smiles
He raised his eye brow and looked at me. I was wearing his favorite skin-tight Jeans and light jacket. At least that was what he said. He told me that I look good in jeans and he liked the color on that jacket. He said since I am tall, and slim, they just fit me. Before I could look away, he leaned forward and whispered, "You have hair on your pants." And he lifted it and I felt like my body was trembling and I looked away and felt uncomfortable. All of the sudden … I felt like the rest of the group were staring at us.
That was one of many lunches that we shared. And every time we chatted, we seemed to share many things in common. He would always drive whole bunch of us to lunch and sat next to me. He also would eat something off my plate and sometimes I would take some food from him. Laughing voices always echoed among us.

“Do you have time to talk about the project?”
“Sure, now?”
“Let’s go!”
We walked in to a conference room and I started to talk and explain in detailed. As I explained further and stood in the front, I noticed that he was staring at me and smiling.
“Are you listening to what I am saying?”
“Yes. I am. You were saying …”
I blushed and moved on. He was staring at me and I kept on talking. Not sure how much he got from what I presented but I didn’t care …

I saw a shadow standing on the side of the cube peeking thru my cube, as I looked up …
“Are you going home?”
“Um …”
Then I walked to the bathroom and I saw him having a cup of water on his hands. “I thought you were going home.”  He smiled and didn't answer me but instead he changed subject so smoothly. And I had forgotten what I said and before I knew it, we both walked out with our belongings and headed to our cars. That was one of the many times and probably countless number of times that we walked together to the cars.

“You have betrayed me!”
“I told you what I knew and you told David.”
I was so pissed at Alex for passing the information that I had told him. I stopped talking to him and he kept coming back to my cube and wanted to talk to me but I refused. Until …
“Let’s talk!” – I walked to his cube and he was in the middle of the lunch and he said, “Okay," attempting to put away his lunch.
“Please finish your lunch then come by my cube.”

I heard the knocking sound on the metal between the sheet of material that covered my cubicle. I didn’t say anything but started walking to a conference room. After a lot of back and forth and finally he said …
“I needed to let David know so he could be aware of whatever that was going on.”
“You know that ...”
 I started to pay attention on what he was saying and finally understood why he told David the secret that I have told him.

Later that afternoon he gave me an apple. Yes, an apple. That was the beginning of how we shared many things. Sometimes he would cut an apple into two halves and gave one of them to me and other times, he would share his lunches with me. We often ate lunches together. Then we would chat about life and so many things … 
"Are you ready for the company picnic tomorrow?"
"Oh .. yeah .. the company picnic!"
"Such an airhead! Don't forget we have a company meeting before hand."
"That too. Okay, see you at the company meeting!"
"See ya ..."

Finally the meeting was over. It lasted 3 hours and I saw him on the way out and he asked me if I would want to carpool with him. I nodded since my fiancee dropped me off this morning as my car was in the shop. As I sat next to him, he turned on the radio and said, "That is your favorite station!" And it was playing the music ... "I need you now" by Lady Antebellum .. Without realizing we both were singing in tune ...
And I wonder if I ever cross your mind
For me it happens all the time

We were a bit early for the picnic, so we decided to take a walk and chatted away. As we walked, we stopped at one odd looking tree. He pointed and said, "Look at the ants! They are all over the tree, so the leaves must be sweet."
I pricked one and handed over him and said jokingly, "Go ahead and try ..." 
And he put it in his mouth ... and I gasped .."Hey ...what if they are poisonous!"
He ignored me and tasted it and said, "It doesn't taste good."
"Let me see the leaf." and he didn't want to give it to me ... I didn't know how it happened, he was holding one of my hands while I was trying to reach the leaf using my other hand. 

It had been a year since I first bumped into him. As our friendships grew…my heart was leaving me bit by bit. And my vacation grew closer and closer and …
“I don’t feel like going on vacation?”
“I dunno” -- My voice was trembling
He leaned over and stroke my hair and said, "Vacation is good for you."
I was quiet ... then I said ...
“Yeah … But, somehow, I felt like I am missing something. “
“You are?”
“Yeah …”

Before we knew it, I ended up in his embrace. He struggled to keep me close as he hold me tighter and tighter and a kiss landed on my forehead before we parted.

I did go to the long-awaited vacation with my fiancee, Phillip, . however, something felt strange and I felt a bit of guilt mixed with sadness. I was with the man that I have loved all my life but yet I felt something was missing. I didn’t know what and I didn’t understand …

I took a deep breath and somehow when I looked again ... I am still standing in front of the mirror. Looking at my own reflection and noting... I am about 5.8 feet tall with size two body, brown eyes, tall nose, eyes that used to shimmer like the stars in the sky but now look weary and puffy. The shoulder length hair seem to be frizzy from lacking attention. All of the sudden, I let out a huge sigh and murmured, "It is over ..." Now all I have is nothing but bitter-sweet memories. I felt like my heart was bleeding but yet it was covered with soft cotton. Cotton as soft as cloud as if they are trying to wrap my heart and providing as much cushion for me ... as if they are trying to heal it ...

Five months later ...

“You look so beautiful in your wedding gown”
“I am?”
“Let’s go!”
As I give out my sweetest smile, I walk across the plaza to the Church. All of sudden, a body passed by me and I feel my heart is beating so hard as he looks at me. I look at him from the corner of my eyes … I see a man, around six feet tall, pale skin, tall nose, with medium size ear-lobes and he is wearing a pair of square glasses in his late twentieth. His eyes are widen and he drops his lower jaw as he sees me. But, for whatever reason may be, I decide to look away ...

And somehow this song started to play in my ears... "Somebody that I used to know ..." -- as written by Walter Andre De Backer

Now and then I think of when we were together
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die
Told myself that you were right for me
But felt so lonely in your company
But that was love and it's an ache I still remember

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness
Like resignation to the end, always the end
So when we found that we could not make sense
Well you said that we would still be friends
But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over

The End

Copyright Journey of Life

Friday, June 22, 2012

Our four days tour beyond Athens ...

We started off our trip by embarking on a flight from our hometown to Madrid. One might ask, why on earth do you need to go thru Madrid to reach Athens? Well .. now that you have asked me! Let me explain further. We were supposed to spend our vacation in Spain then off to Italy. However, as I did more research, I found out that during the month of July and August, Madrid can be hot like in the hundredth degrees. Boy! We changed our plan as quick as wink! That means .. I needed a way to reach Athens from Madrid. After doing all of the wonderful calculation, I have decided to skip Madrid at all and catch it at the end of our trip! We took three legs of flight to reach Athens. Here is what my girl had told me, “Mom, would you please next time, don’t put us in 3 flights to reach our destination? Two is the most!” OK! :-:)

I have prearranged with a travel agency to have a taxi driver to pick us up from the Athens airport. He was a young man, in his twenties, and he spoke decent English. He even tried to explain to us some of the archaeology sites that we passed by on our way to our Hotel, Intercontinental Hotel, a five star hotel!

Then off we went on our adventure by joining a four days classical tour started on our 2nd day at Athens. We left by the coastal road to the Corinth Canal.
The famous Corinth Canal, which separates the Peloponnese from mainland Greece, connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf. The Corinth Canal, though only completed in the late 19th century, was an idea and dream that’s dates back over 2000 thousand years

Then the tour took us to visit the Theatre of Epidauros, famous for its remarkable acoustics. 

Theatre of Epidauros, famous for its remarkable acoustics

Afterward, we proceeded to the town of Naupilon and visited Mycenae’s archaeological site and the Tomb of Agamemnon as well as the archaeological Site with the Sanctuary of Olympian Zeus, the Ancient Stadium and the Archaeological Museum. 

the Archaeological Site at Mycenae

Great scenery of Mycenae's Archaeological Site

The ceiling of the Tomb of Agamemnon

Then we drove through the plains of Eliad and Achaia until we reached the magnificent bridge which is crossing the Corinthian Bay from Rion to Antirion. 

Magnificent bridge which is crossing the Corinthian Bay from Rion to Antirion

We also passed by the picturesque towns of Nafpactos and Itea, before we arrived at Delphi. 

Picturesque towns of Nafpactos (Lepanto)

picturesque towns of Nafpactos (Lepanto)

At Delphi, we visited the Archaeological Site and the Museum. The whole site was an awe inspiring site! We had to climb quite a height before we could reach the top of the site, where the Ancient Stadium of Delphi lays. 

Delphi's Archaeological Site

Archaeological Site of Delphi

Before we reached Meteora, we stopped at a factory where they made icons. They showed us how an icon is made. It was fantastic. When I was looking for one to buy, I immediately fell in love with one of them. It was made with fresh paint on a nice wood and decorated with pure silver. It was a bit pricey. I managed to talk them down to about 110 Euro so, which is about 165 USD at that time.

Last but not the least, we visited the Meteora, it was the striking scenery, perched on top of huge rocks which seemed to be suspended in mid-air. From far one could eye the monasteries—sitting majestically on top of spectacular natural sandstone pinnacles located in the central Greece, Meteora. Currently there are only six magnificent monasteries left and they are now part of UNESCO World Heritage.

Getting there not only took a lot of miles from Athens but also a lot of footsteps. It was said that hermit monks constructed the first monastery before the nuns decided to follow the lead. Then we were there to enjoy the whole creations ….

Meteora, among striking scenery, perched o­n top of huge rocks which seem to be suspended in mid-air, stand ageless Monasteries, where you can see exquisite specimens of Byzantine art.
We went inside the Monastery and one of the walls was filled with fresco paintings. There are no words that I can use to describe the beauty of the painting. Then we moved on to visit another nearby monastery. It was definitely an awesome site! 

When I went to the gift shop, I couldn’t believe my eyes! They sold one of the pieces, exactly the same with the one that I bought for ONLY 75 Euro. I felt cheated! Bah! Oh ... well!

Did I tell you that after trying so hard to avoid the three digits degree from Spain, we hit it here, right in our four days tour? It was hot! Hot! And hot! We were “very lucky” to bump into the so called “Heat Wave!” Wooala!

Nevertheless, we had so much fun and I hope you enjoy this journey with me and have a great weekend!

Until next stop,
 Journey of Life

Thursday, June 21, 2012

How does a cooking bug skip a generation …

Yeah ..Yeah … I don’t like cooking nor do I like baking. In fact, I am quite lucky! When I grew up , food were just on the table for what I knew. All I needed to do was to show up at the dining table and woala … foods were ready and time for me to chow down. Then I was sent to college where I was on my own, far away from home and I was living in a housing where it didn’t come with food. Scratching my head and found myself at the Kentucky Fried Chicken with a brand-new rice cooker. Cooking rice was a challenge … The rice was either over-cooked or under-cooker—Take a pick!

Gradually … I managed to learn how to cook. Yeah … cooking for survival! Before I knew it, I was cooking for some years until my first daughter was born and then I was excused—Yes! You heard me right … ever since she was born I have never been back to the kitchen except for getting some food. Foods just magically appeared and they are good :-) –Can’t complain here …

Then my younger one was taking art-n-cooking class from her school and (you guessed it) she made pretzel for me on Mother’s Day and for her dad on Father’s Day –Cinnamon Rolls! Alright—she definitely carved out the biggest smile out of her dad. And I think it was more like feeling proud and touched :-)

Here are some photos for your amusement ...

Hope you enjoy this little cooking bug’s creations! --The biggest cinnamon rolls that I ever tasted and they were DE-li-ci-ous!!!

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mirror…Mirror…on the Wall...

“Who is the fairest of them all?” --Nay!
“Mirror…Mirror…on the Wall … Would you reflect on my behavior today?”
“Yes, my lady!” “Today … you have been doing good especially that time when you have given in … And that time when you helped out that person.”
“Thank you, Mirror!”

Don’t we wish we have that mirror?
Before we drop our knees and beg for the miracles, let’s ask ourselves, “what is the whole idea of the mirror?” –Right! A reflection.
I wonder if each of us is taking time to reflect upon ourselves, do you think that the world would be a better place?
A healthy social life is found only, when in the mirror of each soul the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the whole community the virtue of each one is living.--Rudolf Steiner

Instead of asking the mirror … perhaps we could ask ourselves, ask our hearts and take some time to reflect upon what we have done…

Images from

Have you taken time to reflect on yourself lately? I hope you would find this 'journey of reflection' a trigger or perhaps an inspiration for you to reflect ...

Until next stop, 
Journey of Life

Monday, June 18, 2012

Until Next Life …

“Remember to lock your door before going to bed!”
“Will do, dad!”
“Be careful and take care of yourself. You know what I mean, right?”
“Yes, dad”
That was his attempt to warn me about the intruders/strangers and perhaps boys :-) I nodded rapidly so that he would stop talking about it. I guessed being fourteen and sort, that kind of conversation just seemed too cumbersome especially coming from my dad.

It was our first time traveling together, in fact several thousand miles away from home, to drop me off for a high school. My brother always wanted to study in that town and I didn’t mind following his footsteps. That was the town where my father spent his teenage year when he first migrated from China. He lived with his aunt and her family. My father grew up in the small village in Tao Yen Village in China. He spent most of his childhood with his grandma and when the time came, he immigrated and decided to live with his aunt.

Even though, he grew up without much love from his parents, my father was known by his kindness and warm personality. His attentiveness and wisdom somehow still echoes in my heart. His endless love has shaped who I am today. He was always there to listen to us and stood  behind what we had decided even though he might not agree with our decisions.

“There is nothing that I can give you but knowledge.”
“I know ...”
“Study well and once you can stand on your own feet, please lend your hands to your own brothers and sisters.”
“I will …” –That was my promise to him before he passed away …And I was eighteen years old.

Years later, I stood in front of his photo, I still could vividly recall all of the moments that I have shared with him. Even in that photo, his smile seemed so tender and his eyes were still so loving.
“Dad, I have taken care of my siblings and I have delivered my promised to you.”
Shedding between tears, “Aren’t you proud of me?”
“And someday … we shall meet again and I want to be your daughter again.”

I hope you enjoy this journey visiting my father—a loving man that will forever lodge in my heart. He may be somewhere in heavens but his memories will forever carved in my heart.

Happy Father’s Day,
Journey of Life

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Guardian Angels …

I was drown literally in stress and on the verge of crying. Every corner I turned to, it seemed to have reached a dead end. I was pressed for time, and it didn’t matter what I did that day, everything went wrong and the last straw?—exit to my office building was blocked.

Yes, how could that happen? I swapped interview time with one of my coworkers and I was supposed to go at 1:30 pm instead of 2:30 pm. And the time drew closer and closer and I almost made it after sitting on a traffic and the exit to my office was closed. How could that be? An exit was closed out of nowhere?  Yes. it was wide opened in the morning but not at the time when I needed the most. I almost burst out in tears …

But then, something strange happened, thing just worked out and no-one even noticed that I was missing for 1:30 pm interview slot. My name was listed for 2;30 pm. Isn’t this strange? Somehow someone just managed to cover it up for me.  And this was not the first time. Each time, when the door closes on me, somehow a window opens somewhere …. Do you believe an guardian angel is somewhere watching over me?

Image copied from

I always managed to get out of trouble no matter what happened to me and those moments when I was virtually taken over by frustration and hope… somehow things would just worked out the way it should be? –Could that be coincidence?

I dunno. The question is … Do you believe in guardian angels?

Hope you enjoy this journey of mine visiting guardian angels—my story about my guardian angel.

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Good Grade Pill …

Call it anything you want—be Good Grade Pill or most commonly known as Study Drugs among kids. Yes. we are no longer talking about illegal drugs, we are talking about stimulant drugs that can help the A.D.H.D kids to concentrate. But, who do you think are taking these drugs nowadays? –Now you are seeing the picture that I am painting. Yes. They are those students who want to do better at school –in fact they are those who are A or B students.

Let’s take a step back, why are they here today? What made these kids taking prescription drugs? Yes, the parents, and the society. We have high expectation on our kids. Some of us are sending the messages that Ivy League schools are THE schools. And they need good grades and high SAT tests. Where are we when they are struggling to keep up with the peer pressure? –Are we there to be with them or we are merely pushing and giving them pressures?

Do we want our kids to do well so badly that we merely closing our eyes and don’t see anything? Let’s take a dive into the so call Good Grade Pill aka Study Drugs. According to the article “Risky Rise of the Good-Grade Pill” by Alan Schwarz, “The number of prescriptions for A.D.H.D. medications dispensed for young people ages 10 to 19 has risen 26 percent since 2007, to almost 21 million yearly, according to IMS Health, a health care information company — a number that experts estimate corresponds to more than two million individuals.”

“The boy exhaled. Before opening the car door, he recalled recently, he twisted open a capsule of orange powder and arranged it in a neat line on the armrest. He leaned over, closed one nostril and snorted it. Throughout the parking lot, he said, eight of his friends did the same thing.” In fact, ““Everyone in school either has a prescription or has a friend who does,” the boy said.” – I am dumbfounded!

Courtesy of

Don’t mind them, they got the prescriptions either thru their own doctors or thru friends who have prescriptions and decided to either sell them or share with their friends. And how? you ask…--“Christine, a junior sitting nearby, said she followed the well-known lines to get her drugs directly and legally, a script for scripts. “I’m not able to focus on schoolwork,” she said in a mockingly anxious voice. “I’m constantly looking out the window.” –Yes, that is all needed, some of the kids mentioned in the article said, some of the doctors didn’t even finish listening and the prescription was already written.

I am not sure what else to say … I hope you would find this blog as a reminder to all of us, parents, to look beyond grade, work with our children and perhaps stop and listening to them before they are tempted to turn themselves to the “Study Drugs” for help.

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Summer …

My mind is always wondering where to go and it is hard for me to be confined and write based on writing prompt. But I did it once on Sandra’s post and I supposed it wasn’t so bad at all … in fact, it let me explore and now I am responding to Jenn’s post –Summer.

Closing my eyes with my arms wide open—this is how  I would  embrace Summer each time. Perhaps it is the time for me to travel. For those who know me personally or thru my writings—travel is me, travel is my favorite thing on earth.

In fact, during my weekend away with hubby , we have come across this subject, --what is the one thing that I must do that I can’t live without. After thinking for awhile, I said, “I don’t really care much about materials, be jewelry or huge house. I always get what I want, in fact there is not a thing that I want that I don’t have. Note this, I never wish for anything beyond our buying power. I am pretty realistic person. I do dream but still I don’t dream about material. There are two things that I would cry for if I can’t have them. First one is my career. I love my career –tho I am not having the best career at this point of my life but I still can live with it. Another one is traveling.”

Traveling means Summer (and Winter) in our family. Ever since when I was in College, I can’t wait for Summer (and Winter) to come then I can stretch my legs and start walking and exploring to the unfamiliar places (or perhaps some familiar ones with our kids) but still with the same curious eyes. These curious eyes of mine have traveled far and beyond and still find each unique (even it is not famous) place quite fascinating.

I love Summer –perhaps its warm weather. I always dislike the cold even though Winter has given me a different kind of warm feeling.  Speaking of Winter –our traveling seems to end up in warm places like Caribbean, Mexico or Florida where sunshine seems to monopolize regardless of season.

Perhaps Summer brings back the feeling of mine that I was once a June bride or perhaps those fond memories we have during our camping trips to nearby national parks or perhaps those fireworks that sparkles the whole sky or perhaps the smell of the barbeque in the neighborhood.—Whatever it is! It spells Summer.

Summer, here I come and each year my journey always seems to cross path with you. Today, I am taking my friends, my readers with me for a little visit and perhaps they would share with us—what does Summer mean to them

So, What does Summer mean to you?

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sealed with a kiss …

Sitting here on the bed,  I looked at him from the back, his back always gives me the feeling of comfort—shields me from all the trouble. He was too busy to notice me --trying to get the fire started for the fireplace in our room –at Sonoma Coast Villa and Spa. The heat from the fireplace started to warm up as if trying to catch up with my heart –He and the fire place both have given me the warm and fuzzy feeling. 

That was the last night we were at the villa. The villa is tucked within the hill at Bodega, very tranquil setting in a sixty acre land which provides horse-back riding, golfing, meadow and the wilderness. The place is big enough to house a crowd but small enough to feel like it belongs to only two of us. The smell of the air is so fresh and flowery—gave us the much needed relaxation. And our room, the room is very cozy with the king size bed and a sitting area with two arm chairs facing the fireplace. A table with two seats facing the garden that filled with green and colorful flowers.

We started our morning with a breakfast then strolled around the property taking mental pictures of the surrounding before we traveled to Bodega Bay, Santa Rosa and Sausalito  where we had marvelous time dining at the local restaurant, The Fish. The garlicky pasta with salmon, barbeque oysters, white clam chowder and crab roll were exquisite. –every bite was as delicious as they look. Then we spent some time leisurely walking along the shops and the bay.

As his hands clasped tight with mine –my mind traveled back in time—back in college years when he first took my hands. Little did I knew he would hold my hands and led me into the wedding aisle.

Many years have passed and as we celebrate each anniversary, he would always seal it with a kiss. In fact, that was how it all started, with a simple, innocent, first kiss on the Haunted House ride in the Disney land –a kiss that lasts a lifetime. He started it that way and he would always end our anniversary celebration –sealed with a kiss.

A kiss that has traveled thru time and would be resealed in each anniversary...

Sealed With A Kiss
Author Rachel

The soft summer breeze
Whispers in our ears
The weakness hit our knees
As that special moments nears

The closer you come
The tighter you hold me
My body becomes numb
Like it was always meant to be

As you come near
There’s a smile on my face
I know there is nothing to fear
When my heart begins to race

The sounds become unheard
A feeling I’ve had never
You say that special word
That lasts in my heart forever

Our breathe slows down
We’re now face to face
Our love is renown
As our lips willingly embrace

Thank you for journeying with me on this special day...

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Journey to Athens …

There is one thing that comes to mind when remembering Greece. Hot! Hot! Hot! Underneath the hot weather, lays the magnificent archeology sites, an awesome civilization and unforgettable vacation.
Today I am taking you all to visit the Syntagma station, Acropolis, New Acropolis Museum,and Temple of Zeus …

Syntagma station
The station itself is an archaeology site. Inside the station, the walls reveal many archaeology remains. and they are concealed inside thick glass. One of the walls exposes a human skeleton which my younger girl thought it was quite fascinating. Our first archeology encountered in Athens--Can you spot it?

We spent a great deal of time enjoying our time at the Acropolis. Below the Acropolis is the theater of Herod Atticus built by the Romans in 161 AD and still used today for classical concerts, ballet, performances of high cultural value. Further on is the Theater of Dionysious the first stone theater and it was rebuilt around 342 BC by Lykourgos and then enlarged by the Romans to be used for gladiator fights.

New Acropolis Museum 
The most incredible museum that I have ever encountered in my whole life! Oh .. my gosh! The museum itself is an archaeology site. It was so innovative the way the Greek built the museum. They put up a thick glass floor where one could walk on it, but yet able to disclose the fossil, archaeology remains that were left by the Greek thousands years ago. In fact before you enter museum, you are welcomed by what I called “underground- archaeology site.” And inside, the first floor was filled with yet another “underground-archaeology site.” It was indescribable! Definitely worth a visit! The most notable part, it only cost us 1 Euro per person! --Who says you got what you paid for? We definitely received more than 1 Euro!

Courtesy of

Courtesy of

Temple of Zeus from Athens
The sun set on the Temple of Zeus ruin was a marvelous scene! Unfortunately only 15 columns remain standing today, originally 104 columns...BTW., Those columns in your back yard, are they by any chance... um...the 89 that were missing?

Hope you find this 10 minutes journey worth your time and would last you for the weekend ...

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Old shoes …

The comfortable feeling of wearing old shoes is definitely indescribable—just because. I remember one time, I had a pair of old shoes that I loved so much and they are soles-less on the heels. I still found myself wearing them until someone had noticed the clucking sounds and said, “Why your shoes sounded so different? They have the echo sound.” –Well, what do you expect from heels without their soles :-)

Some of us don’t have the hearts to throw them away even they are no longer serving their purpose. Some even go as far as keeping them to collect dust. While the old shoes are collecting dust, the new shoes are doing their jobs. The owner love the new shoes but still feel uncomfortable. The feeling is not there yet –sound familiar?

Shoes are like jobs in some way. Old jobs are so familiar and we feel so comfy. Some of us stick around for years even tho the jobs have no longer providing the same excitement or purpose in our lives. The familiar voices, and surroundings have given us the same soothing feeling as the old shoes. Just like the old shoes, sometimes we choose to wing it out and refuse to leave …

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As some of you may remember that I was feeling the *old shoes* syndrome back in October when I started my new job, (Was it meant to be?) hesitating to leave my old job. In fact, I was struggling a bit and tell you the truth, I still don’t know if this new job was the best move for me but nevertheless I am sticking it out. I am starting to gain the sense of belonging. Just like new shoes, my feet starting to get at ease in fact, I no longer feel the stiffness and  the edges of the shoes are no longer hurting. It is starting to feel like my old shoes—my old job.

Sometimes in life, some of us are feeling attached to certain things or surroundings –just because they look familiar. They give us the calm and collected feeling. Somehow, we feel like they are there--and we can rely on them without having to try. We can walk comfortably  as if they are part of us. --part of our feet. The same old familiar feeling may be there just like our old jobs—our old shoes, only if we give them a try --give them the much needed time.

Hope you enjoy this journey with me visiting the *old shoes* --new shoes. Now the question is, how are your old shoes doing lately?

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

I believe that if we meet once, we are fated to meet again …

[Disclaimer: Sandra has a blog hop for writers’ workshop that I am participating in ( and the following is the first fiction that I have ever written in my life. If, for any reason, the characters/settings/… are similar to the any fiction out there, it is definitely  pure coincidence. So, sit back and enjoy!]

It was in the winter, as I recall vividly.—A winter that I will never forget in my life... 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Device Under Our Skin

Do you remember Bionics Women TV series around 2007? It was a story about a woman who is saved from death after receiving experimental a medical implant. Well, it is no longer a fiction. In fact, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Bionic Brains and Beyond by Daniel H. Wilson, a recently 8 year has won The National Spelling Bee, only half way she was discovered to have received a new experimental neural implant to prevent her from her seizures and helped her focus. The bonus point –make her a phenomenon at memorization.

Amazing! As Wilson said in his article, “We are fast approaching a milestone in the eons-long relationship between human beings and their technology. Families once gathered around the radio like it was a warm fireplace. Then boom boxes leapt onto our shoulders. The Sony Walkman climbed into our pockets and sank its black foam tentacles into our ears. The newest tools are creeping still closer: They will soon come inside and make themselves at home under our skin—some already have.”

Medical devices were invented to help the unfortunates to re-gain their abilities they once had – be running, walking, reaching, or even to prevent epileptic seizures by implanting a medical device that can be trained to recognize when epileptic seizures are about to occur and then deliver stimulation to the brain to stop the incipient frenzy of brain activity. –Isn’t this impressive?  The article mentioned that over 200,000 people are using the so called, cochlear implants, that can treat people with Parkinson’s disease. –“Cochlear implants can deliver sound collected from an external microphone directly to the auditory nerve and into the brain.”

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Neural implants, aka brain implants, are medical devices designed to placed under the skull, on the surface of the brain. It could be as small as an aspirin –but powerful enough to listen to our brain activities and then communicate directly to our brains. It was said in the article that that the procedure to do the implant is easier than one may think—the most it needs is an overnight stay, often an outpatient suffice.

The future of the technology may bring back the seniors who are over the age of 65 and those some 40 million people who have lost their physical and mental abilities through the natural again process--disabled and elderly would words in the past.

Here some of the questions the author has asked toward his conclusion, “  The sudden appearance of "super-abled" people could put new and unforeseen strains on our society. For example, what happens when mentally sharp, physically capable retirees return to the workforce by the millions? When your child is the only kid in her class without an implant and she has the lowest test scores to prove it, will you agree to put her under the knife? Will professional sports teams let superabled people play, or is that cheating? Would you hire one over a "regular" person? Should a person be required to reveal the presence of an implant? Or will that just open the door for discrimination?”

Any thoughts? Hope you would find this article amusing and meanwhile be thinking about his questions...

Until next stop,
Journey of Life

Friday, June 1, 2012

Welcome to the Rome’s Ancient Catacombs!

Last Friday, I took you on a journey to visit the CapuchinCrypt and today, I am taking you all on a journey to visit the catacombs. So, what is a catacomb? Catacomb is an underground burial chamber for Christians and Jews communities in Rome. 

Have you watched the Indiana and the Last Crusade? Well, as much as I enjoyed the movie –Harrison Ford is one of my favorite actors and our family is all about adventure, so two words, Love him! Last crusade is a movie about finding the Holy Grail in the land of romance, Venice. Now come to think about it, the whole Venice is surrounded by salt water. How do the catacombs exist there? Right! –They do not. In fact, “There are no catacombs in Venice, as the town rises on wood piles in the middle of the saltwater Venetian Lagoon. There is no room for underground chambers or passages, and only a few buildings have a basement," says Luigi Fozzati, head of the Archaeological Superintendence of Veneto.” –Cited from

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If there are not any in Venice, where can we find one? Hold tight! We are going there, well, through my writings—through this virtual world. There are tons of catacombs in the Rome, Italy. But, we are going to zeroing to both Catacomb of Callisto and Catacomb of Domitilla –for no particular reasons, just because I had been there in person and hope it may bring back some fond memories--and perhaps yours as well.

Catacomb of San Callisto is one of the largest and most famous of the Roman catacombs. It contains about half-million tombs in an area as large as 15 hectares. The name of the catacomb was named after Pope St. Callixtus, who oversaw the expansion and administration of this catacomb, ironically he was not buried here. Later on Pope Damasus took over and he expanded the catacomb by building underground basilicas to provide access to martyrs’ shrines and places of worship for pilgrims. This catacomb was later abandoned when Pope Paschal decided to transfer the saints and martyrs’s relics to churches then it was long forgotten until they were rediscovered by Giovanni Battista de Rossi in 1849. 

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Things worth taking home about is the Crypt of Popes, with an inscription by Pope Damasus and early Christian graffiti. And not to mention its humongous chambers –No wonder there were rumors that catacombs were also ones of the places that served as hiding places for Christians during prosecutions, which were confirmed to be not true by the historians. –It was nothing but burial tunnels.

Another catacomb that is nearby, within walking distance, is the Catacomb of Domitilla. Unlike the Catacomb of Callisto, this catacomb was in use until the early 9th century and later rediscovered in 1873. 

Image from : We sat here while awaiting for our tour guide to narrate us thru the catacomb
 In here, we can find a fresco that is the earliest known depiction of Christ as the Good Shepherd

Image cited from
Other worth mentioned artworks include a late 4th-century relief of the martyrdom of St. Archilleus, and a 4th-centrury fresco of a deceased woman, Veneranda,  being led into Paradise St. Petronilla. 

Mosaics are rarely found inside a catacomb, however, in here not only one could find one but also the most fascinating one,  the Raising of Lazarus, the Three Hebrews in the Furnace, and Christ Enthroned between Sts. Peter and Paul. It contains the inscription accompanied by the portrait of Christ: "You who are called the Son are found to be also the Father."This may reflect the sect (later declared a heresy) called Modalism, which explains that God is one being who variously expresses himself as Father, Son and Spirit.

Impressed? I hope so! I was and enjoyed it as much as in person and in this virtual world with you. Thanks again for accompanying me on this journey to visit the Rome’s Ancient Catacombs. 

Until next stop,
Journey of Life