Post-Tribute to my Father

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Last Sunday was Father’s Day. I must admit, I didn’t get anything for my Dad. I live in Oregon, he lives in Hawaii. He misses me terribly and I try to do my best to call him a few times a week and despite his ongoing arthritis, he still manages to mail me handwritten letters. I feel like a failure at times not to keep in touch as often as I should

have done. I called him to see how he was doing, Given the three hour time difference, he was having lunch while I was finishing up my shift working remotely from home. He began to describe to me what he was having for lunch: kalua pig, sweet potato, fresh pineapple, sari sari (Filipino soup) and veggies and char siu. My mouth watered after pineapple if I’m being truthful. I was born a foodie and miss all the foods so much more readily available there in Hawaii that I can’t find here in rural Oregon.

However, conversation was pulled into other topics like weather, health, how everyone else’s health is and of course, I shared with him my new job opportunity. He was happy to hear I was getting into something new but always the main thing he told me was he just wanted to be happy.

Most parents want their kids to be happy and successful, whatever that means. My Dad knows I have a loving husband, the security of home and full time employment and that my health is good. I think that’s the basic, fundamental core essentials that most parents want for their kids.

Both my parents view happiness differently given their opposite personalities. I blogged here last month about my Mom. She adored the article and even left positive comments. As for my Dad, I don’t think he’ll even get a chance to read this article or write comments because he has never used a computer.

Yes, let me repeat myself: My Dad has never used a computer.

I created an e-mail address for him; my older brother and I have TRIED to show him how to use it. He said he doesn’t want to think that hard about writing. If he is going to write to me, he will hand-write letters and mail it out to me via snail mail. He has no concept of e-mail. It blows his mind every time I try to explain it.

I am just glad he knows how to use the ATM, OK? I give him “A” for effort.

Despite my Dad’s disinterest in computers, he is like a typical man: he loves the remote control and t.v. He enjoys watching the news every night and of course, his favorite Korean drama shows. Hawaii residents seem to have an addiction to those shows. One night while visiting my family a few years ago, I asked him what the big hub-bub was about these shows. He explained they weren’t the typical “Hollywood” shows with fast cars, wild women, steamy sex and bad language. They had a plot.

Now I “gently” argued with him that not all Hollywood shows were in that general category he talked about; yes, a lot of them were like that but not all. Many were award-winning movies and films. But he encouraged me to watch one of the shows with him, a historical drama about court intrigue such as the one titled “Empress Ki” in which a young woman is sent to the Yuan Empire in China (one founded by Genghis Khan) and eventually becomes Empress.

Damn. I ended up watching the entire episode and wrote down the schedule of WHEN it would be on; then of course, I told my Dad I could probably buy the entire DVD set once it becomes available for purchase on Amazon. He looked at me as if I spoke a Biblical verse in fluent Hawaiian. “You mean, you can buy that kind of stuff on there, Babe?”

I had to laugh. My father is from a generation that isn’t always up to speed in the latest of what is available online. OK, he has never BOUGHT or ORDERED anything online. But I told him I will keep an eye out and make sure when it is available, I will get him the entire set.

But that means I’ll need to get him a DVD player. That means I’ll have to teach him how to use it.

That immediately got tossed out of my memory window. My Dad would be happy just going out for a half-day with him walking around downtown Chinatown in Honolulu, eating Chinese food and bringing home fresh vegetables and fruits from the market stands.

He is a simple man with simple tastes. In his days of leisure now because he is retired, he is content to just be with his family, go to church, walk downtown to exercise his arthritic legs and once in a while, savor a roast duck with hot rice.

I find the older I get, the more I am after relishing simple pleasures like that and isn’t that what life really is about? Spending time with the ones you love and if you live at a distance, keep in touch with him as often as possible.

I told you that my Dad doesn’t use the computer, so he has never learned to type. He recently sent me a hand-written letter thanking me for sending him a letter (of about 5 pages) which he received the day after Father’s Day.

I didn’t want to tell him I couldn’t afford to send him a Father’s Day gift this year; money was tight and honestly, I hadn’t planned anything for Father’s Day. I felt like a rotten, unappreciative daughter. So I decided if I wrote to him to let him know what’s going in my life lately, I think he would be okay with that.

When I got his letter the other day, he wrote his usual greetings about remembering the good Lord and all He does, remember how much he (my Dad) loves and misses me very much. Then he went on to say that he was so overjoyed at getting my letter that it was the best Father’s Day gift he could have this year short of my actual flying back to Hawaii to be with him.

The little girl in me started to cry, I felt a knot in my stomach and my eyes started watering just like they are now thinking about it. He asks for so little. A 5-page letter meant more to him than any Father’s Day gift I could have planned to have sent him. OK, maybe the roast duck would give me heavy competition.

I didn’t realize until that moment how much my Dad thought of me, How much he REALLY loved me. It’s just paper and words but to him, my words were gold. My letting him know I was doing fine (short of my bitching about my current job frustrations) were dear to him because his “baby girl” was living, thriving, loved and cherished and well taken care of by a wonderful husband.

What more could a father want more for his only daughter?

Saying “I love you, Dad” will probably never be enough even if I were to write it in this article. But my heart is full knowing that I have the best father in the world. He always worked so hard to provide for us. I was never without and I always had his love.

We may have had our differences, very few and far in between. So with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and contentment that I will always be his “baby girl” no matter if I’m 51 or 101.

Belated Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Even if you never read this blog, I want everyone else who gets to read this article know that I will love you forever. Oh and one more thing:

Save me some roast duck and dim sum next time I fly back to Honolulu, OK? Love ya lots!

 

Ghosting: The Good, The Bad and The Takeaway

When you think of the word ‘ghost’ we usually associate it with something scary, creepy or downright hilarious; maybe even sometimes cute. But the social lingo for the term ‘ghosting’ has a very negative, uncomfortable, angry or even painful connotation, especially if you were on the receiving end.

To put it plainly, if you have been one of the many countless people who have made friends online, dated a bunch or even interacted and made virtual friendships part of your social media life, you know that anytime you do not get a reply back from someone you like or really like chatting with after a period of time leaves you wondering what the hell happened?

Granted, its very possible the person might’ve gotten the flu and too weak to bother checking the endless text messages or e-mails. Eventually, if the person cares enough about the friendship, your feelings and has proper social etiquette, he or she will respond. It is one thing to not hear from someone for a while due to illness or injury. It is entirely different when you meet someone online and feel a ‘connection and start a daily rapport of communication only to suddenly have that person disappear, worse, block you access to send a message to them or worse, delete you off their friend list and in essence, disappear. Just like a ghost. Hence, the term ‘ghosting.’

I recently had my share of being ghosted with a new acquaintance I met on Instagram.   After what I felt was a ‘slight’ disapgreement, we ended our chat a bit abruptly.  Now I hate having things left unresolved in person or online and I a a huge communicator in mending fences and starting over. Life is just too short for letting things go unresolved.

A few days later, I sent out a greeting and wished him a great upcoming week. No response all day. I took it as he was busy with work and left it at that. The weekend arrived and still no reply back so I sent him another message asking if he was still upset about our last chat and if he wanted to talk about it. No reply. The irritating thing was that I could see on Hangouts that he was online. I didn’t know if he was just ignoring me or upset with me. I simply dismissed it and went about my business.

After a few more days of no response to my greetings or inquiries if he is doing OK, I had enough of what I perceived to be immature on his part. I simply archived the conversation and closed out the Hangouts app. I figured he knows where to find me and if he wants to chat, great. If not, no big deal. Life is full of immature, childish adults.

I think because I am now entering my fifties, I am at an age where time is no longer a luxury for me, online friendships that are long-lasting and genuine are rare pearls of great price. Gone are the days where I lamented over hurting someone’s feelings or anguish over the person not liking me as much as I liked them. It is a time-waster, and I have standards I hold high regarding mutual respect in a friendship, online or offline.

Needless to say, while most articles I have read about people going through experiences of being ‘ghosted’ by someone they like or admitting they ‘ghosted’ because it was easier to do than confront and go thru pain, awkwardness or online conflict, ghosting actually can be beneficial.

The Good side of Ghosting

It is an experience that might be awkward, painful or create anxiety and embarrassment if you are on the receiving end, but frankly, it also rids you of a possible time-wasting relationship that would’ve ended up nowhere and cost you a lot more grief and heartache had you invested more time in the long run. It also can provide insight as to what you DO NOT want in a long-term relationship, friendship or social media connection.

I am a firm believer in lists. I even created a list about the kind of husband I wanted to have back in my early 20s though I married much later in life.  Lists help you determine (2) categories: what is negotiable and non-negotiable in your life.  Simply put: what you are willing to put up with in a relationship of any kind and what you are not willing to compromise on.

Creating a list for the kind of social connections you want to have online is entirely up to you. But there is something to be said about being selective with the type of association you allow into your online world. Even once in a while when you think a new friendship is blossoming (platonic or romantic), it can unexpectedly turn sour or certain events may occur which result in your newfound friendship going awry and your online pal disappearing from your virtual presence altogether.

It is still a benefit because you learn from it and realize that it has nothing to do with you. How the other person chooses to behave by cutting off communication through non-response is basically lacking consideration and social etiquette.

The Bad side of Ghosting

It’s just rude, let’s be honest. It’s just damn rude to totally practice silent treatment via the internet by ignoring someone after they reach out and send messages asking how you are doing or simply saying ‘hello.’ Even if you know the connection is not what you are seeking, or the communication becomes an all-out online disagreement on a particular subject or you saw his or her picture and thought “meh…not my type” – it is still bad manners to just disappear without having the decency to attempt to end things diplomatically.

On the other side of this though, you may be attempting to communicate politely and nicely to say you appreciate their response and extension of friendship (like becoming pen pals, for example) but they refuse to catch the hint that you are not interested in pursuing an ongoing connection. When you try to be a little more blunt, they may even send you negative comments or call you names.

I mean, if you made the attempt in a nice way but the other person simply won’t leave you alone or somehow always pops in and starts sending you harassing messages because they figured out you are online, then just do the good old-fashioned ‘block’ and ‘delete’ tactics which will remove the negativity from your life so you can breathe again.

This has worked for me a lot on Instagram since my account is private. I have had many requests from others who wish to follow, but many are either ones I am not interested in or they are more interested in marketing me services or products that I find unappealing.

Other accounts are those that they simply want to follow someone and add someone to their follow list for the sake of following or being followed. What the HELL is that all about? Social media can be used effectively and enhance social connections if it is done with a purpose to do good, serve others and spread compassion and harmony.

Sometimes, however, drastic measures need to be taken and ‘ghosting’ someone unfortunately is sometimes the only alternative to avoid psycho-stalkers, online predators or trolls as they call them. Remember, there are always two sides to the coin: good and bad. Depending on your situation, sometimes you need to make a decision to ‘ghost’ someone to avoid a bad outcome that may have far more serious consequences.

The Takeaway about Ghosting

Ghosting is never a pleasant experience for anyone no matter how you see it. Whether you are the recipient or you find yourself needing to ‘ghost’ someone to avoid internet stalkers or cyberbullies disguised as negative, unhappy people – nobody likes to be ghosted but it is a very common trend these days and will probably not diffuse out anytime soon.

The best thing to do is learn from your experiences. Be very selective and cautious. Not everyone appears to be who they say they are so be vigilant who you allow into your virtual world. Social connection should always be a positive impact in your life and in return, your presence should reflect the same in the other person’s life. So practice savvy, friendship acumen while you are online because sooner or later, you may come face to face with a possible ghosting experience.

Whatever you do, always make a decision to do the right thing because life has a way of repaying in kind.

To My Mom with Love

“All that I am or hope to be, I owe to my mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

When I was growing up and experienced illness or stress (which was a lot), I would cherish the times my Mom would come into my room and check on me. Sometimes she had soup with her, sometimes some fruit and crackers, sometimes a glass of homemade lemonade or a bowl of strawberry ice cream. Also she spent time talking to me or she would give me my all-time favorite relaxation activity: the tickie.

The tickie is something my Mom did to me from a before I could remember as a way to soothe and calm me down. I had bronchitis a lot when I was much younger and asthma. Basically, it was my Mom using her hands to gently “tickle” my arms back and forth. It was soooo soothing to me. It was better than a massage (but nowadays, a foot massage or hand massage from my husband is very welcoming as well when I’m tired or stressed out).

Even when I go back and visit my folks in Hawaii, sometimes my Mom and I would be sitting on the couch and I’d extend my forearm towards her. We wouldn’t have to say anything but she smiled and would tickie my arm while we chatted about anything that came to mind.

It’s funny how a parent can influence a child to mimic gestures of love and affection on others. We had dogs in a previous life and each one loved when I’d gently massage their back side or their chest or under-belly. They knew how to relax! So it was when I used to baby-sit occasionally and the baby didn’t want to nap. I would just sit and give a tickie. At first, it was playful but the longer I sat and gave the tickie, the eyelids would start to droop and soon enough, the baby would drift off to sleep.

So it was the same for me when my Mom would tickie me. Ironically, as I got older, she taught me how to tickie her and we would take turns giving tickies, listening to Chopin or I would read to her about my latest adventure in Greek mythology, Agatha Christie mystery or my own made-up stories.

Initially, I used to be hurt while I was reading to her and giving her a tickie and next thing I knew she’d fallen asleep! I would wake her up as she dozed and she’d smile and murmur, “Keep going, Sweetie. I’m listening. Don’t forget to tickie me.” I would later complain she often fell asleep numerous times so she wouldn’t get to hear me reading about my stories and she’d say, “Baby doll, I do hear them. And I remember them in my dreams.”

“But why can’t you stay awake?” I’d grumpily ask her. “I stay awake when you tickie me!” and she’d laugh and say, “You fall asleep just like me, Babe. Tickies are meant to relax and soothe. It was a way I could calm you down, get you to stop coughing when you were sick or make you feel better when you had an ow-wee or if one of your playmates didn’t want to play with you anymore and hurt your feelings. Tickies make you feel better.”

Mothers just instinctively know what makes us feel better. At least, my Mom did. She did it so well that to this day, I would still ask her to tickie me on my yearly visits at least once or twice. It just brings back such a wonderful memory of being close to her, being with her, talking to her and just having her presence with me.

I live in Oregon and my folks live in Hawaii. We communicate most of the time by phone. We tried Skype, she does have e-mail but doesn’t check it often. My folks don’t believe in text. They are old school and proud of it. They will keep up with the times only to the extent they have to and at least have cell phones. Of course, it doesn’t mean they leave them on or check them or answer them. But they have them.

My Mom was a firm believer in face-to-face communication and my Dad also prefers this method. My Mom often told me that the best way to get to know someone is to spend time with them in person, not just by phone, not just by letter or e-mail or Skype or other “technological” method.

“A conversation between two people is best conducted facing each other. Eye contact. Nodding in acknowledgment. Even disagreements can be resolved face-to-face. It is so much better in person.”

And i have to agree. That’s why tickies cannot be done online. Tickies are not virtual. Tickies happen with physical contact. Closeness. Intimacy. Bonding.

Tickies happen with love. My Mom demonstrated that to me from a very young age and I have never forgotten that memory. Mothers instill many memories in us that influence us for better or worse. Their love spans the globe even from a distance, at least mine does. Her little care packages, her little funny notes and sayings. All done with care and thought. Her timing may not always be there but I know it’s always the thought that counts.

I used to say I was the “forgotten child” because my older brother was the pride and joy on her side of the family. He was the first-born grandson, shared the same birthday as her father and was named after his great-grandfather and grandfather plus has a Hawaiian middle name.

Me? Well, my Mom didn’t know she was pregnant with me until almost 6 months. She was busy working, playing volleyball at church camp, taking care of my active, older brother and had to be told by her doctor the reason for her recent tiredness and skipping periods was because she was expecting me in a few months. HELLO? WOMAN?! Smart as you are, can you not see the signs from your body?

Years ago, I used to resent it. I used to feel ignored and thought, ‘Meh, I’m a girl. My Asian culture thrives on boys. Family name and all that bullshit.” So I just accepted it. And one day a few years ago while visiting my folks, my Mom actually passed me in the parking garage not even recognizing me (I had lost quite a bit of weight, had new hairstyle, so well…sometimes these things happen).

I stopped and turned around and said “Mom! It’s me!”

She turned around and then her eyes got big. “Oh, Sharon! (she doesn’t use my nickname) gosh, Babe! I didn’t even know it was you. You’ve changed–you’re smaller…you look great. Oh, hug your Momma!” and I did, rather fiercely. She is a little shorter than me now. Has salt and pepper hair. Prefers to wear flat shoes or slippers and voluminous, flowery dresses (in Hawaii, we call them mu’umu’u). Also, she ALWAYS with a couple plastic bags and a rolling cart. ALWAYS.

She also did it when I visited her classroom one day and asked if I was lost.

I told her, “No, I”m just your forgotten child.”

Now, I meant it in jest (sort of) but I had to admit, why was my Mom not recognizing me? I didn’t drastically lose weight. I might’ve cut my hair but I was still the same person. Same voice. What was different?

She later told me one late evening when I had come over to sample some of my Dad’s home-cooked meals.

“You’ve changed, Sash (another nickname). You seem to exude more confidence, more…maturity….and you grow lovelier every time I see you. I’m so proud of you, Baby doll!” (another nickname, but never ‘Shalei’).

So really, my Mom never “forgot” me, she said I just hardly ever gave her a reason to worry. Only when I got really sick (chronic leukemia diagnosis). But I bounced back from that eventually with lots of prayers, a health organic diet and TONS of positive thoughts I gorged on to my own body. Anything is possible. So is recovering from what could have been a fatal disease.

She knew I had a good head on my shoulders. I could be relied upon. I was responsible. I stayed out of trouble and never skirted with the law. I didn’t have bad associates. I made my share of blunders and mistakes, but nothing that I couldn’t learn from and improve upon.

My Mom brought me up right. She taught me many important lessons about being persistent. Taking action instead of just dreaming about something. Standing up for something I believed in regardless if I was in the minority. Being popular is overrated. Never too old to dream and want more. Always be open to learning and be willing to change restricted thinking. Embrace fear and feed faith. Love more to receive more.

So on the eve of the traditional Mother’s Day celebration, I wanted to thank my Mom for all she has done to help mold me into becoming the woman I am today.

And especially, for all the tickies she gave me because the best thing about that was I got to spend time with her.

I love you, Mom. Have a wonderful Happy Mother’s Day.

Online Dating After 50: Is It Worth It?

Online dating can be pretty scary the older you get and after age 50 is no exception. I want to share with you some of my experiences I went through in the online dating world and how you can discover it is not as daunting as it may seem.

Tip 1: Online Dating Sites Vary

I was raised in a household to believe in the concept of family, hard work and being kind to your fellow man. When it came to dating, that social scene was usually tied in with either going on a blind date from someone who knew the family, a friend of a friend of a friend or online dating sites. As a late bloomer, I didn’t start online dating until well into my 30s. I was curious about how that all worked out and came across a few early sites like LAVALIFE, e-HARMONY and MATCH. While they all had the common thread of providing potential matches based on profile preferences, each site has various options.

Online dating sites will feature a specific feature to target different audiences. When I first started creating a profile, I found that it can be exhausting trying to make your profile attractive and it was very tempting to create a totally different persona than what I was but that was wrong. It was also misleading.

So I viewed other profiles and finally decided it was just best to be honest, sincere and stick to what I liked in hobbies, a little bit about myself as far as background and even a bit about my career. One of the great things about online dating sites is you could also select what age range you are looking for, gender, and even criteria like location (local, regional, overseas).

You also need to be aware that these sites have rules and don’t allow certain kind of photographs that may depict sexually explicit themes, violence or visual content that are not appropriate or in alignment to the site’s privacy policy and guidelines. So be sensible. Select a photo of yourself or an image that you can identify with so that others can view what you’re all about. You can have a fun, catchy title such as MusicLoverofthe80s or something as corny but romantic like JulietSeeksRomeo. But stay light-hearted and don’t take online dating so seriously. The important thing is to have fun, connect with some great like-minded individuals and also learn more about yourself from how others perceive you.

Tip 2: Read profiles carefully!

Keep in mind that creating a list of traits or attributes on the kind of person you may find of interest actually helps you determine which profiles are closer in alignment to your values, likes, hobbies, dislikes, etc. But you can’t just have expectations of the other person. You also need to be honest about who you are and not start creating a fantasy depiction.

It’s important to take a honest, self-assessment of your own profile. The last thing you want to do is exaggerate about your age, for example. Women and men alike are sensitive about their age but I found it more common among women, even those younger than me. Do not be ashamed of your age, especially if you are older. Part of the delight of learning about oneself is to be at ease with your own identity and be confident in the life experiences you have attained throughout the years.

It took me a few decades to become comfortable with who I was, what I looked like, what I could change about myself and what I couldn’t. I had to also learn to be assertive and stand firm on what I valued and what i wouldn’t compromise on no matter how tempting it was to slack off and take the easy road.

Your self-worth and integrity is important and it is important other people see that as well, especially at online dating sites. Your credability and reputation is important. Respecting yourself will clue people in based on what you write in your profile – so be honest! You don’t have to write your life story – you share that over time with those that you want to meet and feel comfortable with, but don’t lie in your profile. Be clear, concise and considerate. Sooner or later, there will be individuals who will seek you out because your profile will reflect what they are seeking in a person.

At the same time, profiles you find of interest should be scrutinized and reviewed carefully! If the profile sounds too good to be true, and maybe the picture of the person doesn’t look their real age, keep that in mind. Also be aware that you will get silly, sleazy and stupid (yes, stupid) replies at times, often people trying to figure out if your worth scamming. I hate these internet vultures. It takes the fun out of the experience for people who genuinely try to seek friends and it happened a lot to me.

Be vigilant and be smart. Do not respond to those who ask for money, or send obvious photo-shop images of exotic looking beauties or hunks wanting you because they think you are the perfect object of desire. Avoid the bullshit, basically – and hit that DELETE button or see if you can BLOCK them. D&B became my favorite buttons while navlgating thru those sites and they can be yours as well, so use them wisely to filter out the fake profiles.

Tip 3: Understand the Law of Attraction

Simply put: you attract what you focus on. One of my favorite book series was “Chicken Soup For The Soul” by Jack Canfield. He also had put out other books about maximizing one’s potential, motivation for success and many others that more or less use that law of attraction.

If you want to attract success, you focus on things that reflect success. You take action to work on a plan for success. You talk to others who have reached the success you want. Everyone’s definition of success is different but it is the same application when wanting a successful dating relationship.

We all want to be loved, found attractive, admired and respected. Online dating sites are just tools to help you achieve your goal in finding the right person, or seeking a fun dating partner or establishing a new friendship. Whatever the motivation is, you want to focus on having an image, a character and a lifestyle that mirrors what you seek in a mate, partner, spouse and best friend.

Having healthy hygiene habits will definitely help. Being well-groomed, sporting a positive attitude, being open to try different things and having a plan for success in every aspect of one’s life will definitely turn heads your way. This falls in alignment with being self-confident, not being afraid to ask for help or be mentored, not compromising your values and self-worth and being around like-minded people who are success-oriented and share similar life philosophies.

Is online dating worth venturing into? Millions of people have done it as well as myself. Many have had successful and meaningful marriages or long-term relationships established.  I had several dating experiences with various men from various backgrounds.Most were engaging, some more fun than others and others…well, let’s just say after one date, I already knew they were not what I was looking for; and of course, I eventually met the man who I would end up marrying for nearly 10 years. Although the marriage ended, that didn’t sway me from dumping romance altogether. I still believe in happily-ever-after!

Life is meant to be enjoyed – whether you are single or attached. The point is this: give yourself time to develop connections that truly count and will add meaning to your life. Online dating is just one experience and it can certainly add value to your life that can be shared with others seeking the same thing: to love and be loved.