It’s who you are.

It’s getting colder every day, and I am surprised about how well I have known this place.

I moved here a year ago, in tears. I wasn’t happy about this change, because I went to a good high school in Vietnam where I met all the soulmates I had ever wished for. And leaving all those memories behind was as hard as getting a cold shower on a cold day. I could do that, it was just too hard and not worth it. Jet lags, moving in, friendship, family, etc. all those things kept me from being happy. I cried a lot, and it was hard to find friends also because most of the people I know did not have the same interest as I had (indeed not many people like the same things I do). Those first days, months, and years were the transition. I told my mom I would not want my sister to leave the family at the age of sixteen, just simply because these changes would be too sensitive and she wouldn’t even an adult yet.

I thought about all those external forces that kept me from happiness.

Until I understood it who I am that makes the difference.

I was that student who went to school and went back home right after my last classes. I went home early and rested, while my housemate always took the late bus home. I supposed I was taking care of myself by sleeping a decent amount of sleep, but after a while I realized I could have done more than that.

I could have stayed after class for a while to talk to my friends. I could have played Frisbee and at the same time get to know other people. I just didn’t do that, because I didn’t have the gut to step out of my comfort zone and look around. I have missed so many, so many things before I realize they won’t last forever.

I didn’t know I was better than what I thought about myself. I wasn’t just a nerd, or just an introvert. I was someone who understand greater things other than textbooks – people, and I was someone who know deeper feelings other than just her own. I got involved more in clubs and classes. I talked more and noticed more. Instead of staying in the library doing home work while having lunch, I would sit in the dining hall so that others would see me and talk to me. These little changes that I made for myself worked and led me to have closer friends who know me on a deeper level and whom I shared more of myself.

My current school would have been different. I wouldn’t feel the joy of going to school if it is not a community that embraces me whenever I am there. But this joy is what I seek, because I challenge myself a little every day to step out of my comfort zone, to stop reading books (although I still) and start reading people.

I see great stories in people’s eyes, and I know this is a great choice.

No matter where I would end up being, I have earned great experiences that I would want to make the community I am going to a home.

Lịch trình

Theo thói quen thì sáng mình sẽ dậy sớm và nằm nướng trên giường. Nghịch điện thoại nhưng cũng cố trở nên có ích bằng cách mở outlook calendar ra rồi nghĩ xem mỗi ngày mình sẽ làm gì, hôm đó có môn nào phải nộp bài. Hôm nay là Chúa Nhật, ngày mai là thứ hai và mình được nghỉ. Nên thay vì chạy deadlines như mọi hôm thì mình dành hẳn một buổi sáng để nói chuyện với bạn, một buổi trưa ở nhà thờ, và một buổi chiều chỉ để dọn dẹp nhà cửa và nấu ăn. Một ngày hoàn toàn để xõa, dù trong lòng vẫn rạo rực, “Trời ơi sắp biết điểm ACT rồi,” hay, “Trời ơi 2 ngày nữa phải nộp research paper rồi mà tui còn ngồi loay hoay giặt đồ vậy nè.” Nhưng dù sao vậy cũng cần thiết. Vậy mới biết có cái phòng gọn gàng sẽ làm tâm trạng thoải mái đến dường nào. Vậy mới biết có một bữa tối ngon ngon dù loay hoay vật vã với 3 cái bếp bật cùng một lúc như thế nào.

Hôm nay mình làm theo đúng lịch. Dù hơi xê dịch một xíu, một xíu thôi vì mình nấu ăn lâu hơn ngày thường, phòng mình dơ hơn dự tính. Một xíu thôi nhưng vẫn làm mình vui vẻ đến lạ kỳ. Cũng chẳng biết lượng bài mình học vào hôm nay có bổ ích gì không, vì chưa gì mà mình đã thấy Toán phần Arrangements – Permutation và Combination khó quá chừng. Chưa gì đã thấy Science bị chị dạy kèm bỏ rơi. Chưa gì đã thấy ACT Writing của mình còn chưng hửng quá. Psychology thì lạng quạng, không biết viết research paper sao cho ra hồn. Nghĩ hết cái này tới cái kia, rồi nghĩ qua cái túi tiền cạn kiệt của mình, sao mà chật vật quá.

Ừa nhưng phần hay nhất hôm nay là đây nè.

Hôm nay được nói chuyện với chị cùng nhà nhiều thêm một xíu nữa.

Giữa một ngày tưởng chừng như cực kỳ hiệu quả, mình bỗng dành ra nửa tiếng để lướt xem có cái áo khoác nào xinh xinh xịn xịn mặc qua mùa đông không. Cũng chợt nhớ ra chị cùng nhà học Fashion Business, nên hỏi chỉ thử xem áo nào màu nào thì được. Chỉ chỉ mấy cái mình cũng không ngờ tới – không định sẽ mua, nhưng vì ừa con mắt thẩm mỹ của mình tệ hại vô cùng nên cũng chịu nghe lời chỉ. Dù sao mấy cái áo cũng xinh xắn mà. Chọn lựa một hồi thì chỉ bảo ê chỉ cũng muốn có một cái áo khoác vì áo mình chọn trông ấm áp quá, vậy là hai đứa mua cùng loại luôn xịn xịn ghê chưa. Bỗng dưng mình thấy sao hên quá vì được ở chung với toàn những người yêu thương và hay giúp đỡ mình nhiều lắm.

Dọn phòng sạch sẽ cả rồi, nhưng hôm nay sẽ không ngủ trong phòng. Chị cùng nhà rủ ra sofa ngủ vì hồi đó mình bảo chỉ sofa ấm áp lắm. Bây giờ là mùa thu, và mình mong chờ mùa dông, mùa xuân, và cả mùa hè, vì mình biết dù mình ở đâu, cũng có những người mình yêu thương yêu thương lại mình.

Lâu lắm rồi mới lại viết bằng tiếng Việt. Lâu lắm rồi mới lại dùng từ ngữ cho đúng câu đúng chỗ, chứ không phải ngẫu nhiên như lúc chat với bạn nữa. Mình nhớ tiếng Việt, nhưng vì mình đang ở xa, nên mình sẽ dùng tiếng Anh hoài hoài. Vì mình biết tiếng Việt sẽ vẫn mãi ở đó, vì mình luôn yêu thương nó mà.

Tới giờ ngủ rồi,

Ngủ thôi.

 

Lynden, WA 98264, November 11, 2018

Mini cocoa mug

It is beautiful the way it is.

Saturday’s afternoon – a day for relaxation, a day for friendships to grow.

But when it comes to art, music, or knowledge, I often spend time on my own. I want to step out of the crowd to enjoy them myself.

We went to CreativiTea in Fair Heaven, and together each of us decorated a pottery cup. My very first idea was to draw the universe, for I love the Sun, the planets and stars so much. I painted it half black and half white, but it did not turn out the way I wanted it to be. I looked around and saw how my friends had creative ideas, and their mugs are cute with pandas, cactus, or roses. Others chose to make things simple like writing their names. All are cure. Except mine.

I struggled for more than 2 hours. I couldn’t draw details because I couldn’t control the amount of paint on my mug. So I put layers on top of each other – black, white, and black and white. In my mind, I would have to use this mug for maybe the rest of my life, so I want it to be cute so that whenever I see it, I’m happy that I have made one. Therefore, I aimed for perfection. And I felt jealous about people around me.

At the end, my name appeared on the mug without any universe. It is actually how I wanted it to be at last. However, the main purpose of going to CreativiTea – to hang out with friends – I did not achieve. I should have talked to my friends more. I should have complimented them with their artsy mugs, because it showed their beautiful souls, rather than focusing on my own. At the end of the day, it’s not the physical works that make me feel happy about my day, but it’s the spiritual relationship that I was supposed to tighten with my people.

“It’s beautiful the way it is.”

That was what my friend told me when I complained about my own mini cocoa mug. It’s beautiful because we have been there together, not because we made something perfect.

I should have understood it sooner. The moment I walked into CreativiTea.

Apart but together

CCF – Campus Christian Fellowship, also my family.

Fridays are CCF days, because the coolest people in CCF will go to club meeting, and I get to see and talk to all of them. It is a community where I can find myself being a really different person, but also still a real me.

Today I thought about how I and many of my friends would move to different places in the US for high school, as well as going back to their home countries. It is sad, when I got to meet all these amazing people and at last have to say good-bye to all of them. There might be a chance we would never meet each other. Social media is a great way to keep in touch, but that real relationship when we see each other everyday will be gone forever.

But the good news is…

I will meet many, many new friends from different places, as long as I also go different places. Since I was little, I usually changed schools to a new place where I don’t know anybody at all. My friends stay in groups at school because they have known each other for years, and all I could do was to start a whole new journey. I have done that so many times that now I only feel excited about colleges. Where would I end up going? Who would be my friends and who would be my adviser that help me with everything? I wonder.

Again, we would all fly away, because we are birds from different flocks. But there is this truth: we are those birds that want freedom and knowledge. We are those that want to fly and enjoy flying. Not because we are skillful at doing that. We are scared when joining a new flock where we don’t know anyone else, but we are excited about the treasure those new places bring forth.

Hey all my friends, you are from Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the United States, Canada, Ireland, Venezuela, Vietnam, etc. I love how we have all been together at one place – CCF and classes. I love how you teach me to do things – play Frisbee, get involved in group activities, enjoy sport, and appreciate cultures. I also love how you teach me to love myself – I became aware of who I am and what I love. Reading is not what you all would do with me, but I know you all support me when I do it. If we have to say good-bye, please remember this is not an end.

In the mean time, I would try to make the most of the time we are still together. Thank you y’all!

AC – hot & cold

29°C, 30°C

or

4°C, 15°C

Which one is colder than which?

I don’t know.

The gym, Nov 07, 2018. 4°C. I close my eyes because I wanted the sun to shine on me.

We look at things from different perspectives, and sometimes it also means that what we think does not necessarily what others think. Standing inside of a glass building, I would say it looks so nice outside, but when actually walking under the cold, I understand how harsh it is. Putting oneself in others’ shoes is what needed.

In Vietnam, the normal temperature was about 28°C ~ 30°C. My family, we barely use the AC, because we don’t want to pay too much for the bill, and because AC is not that good for our health as well as the environment’s “health”. That’s been my habit for years – not staying inside for so long. I prefer nature. I prefer the wind, the warmness, the sun.

And I went to the United States for one year, experiencing the climate of the Pacific Northwest. Cold, windy, snowy, and rainy. Everywhere is so cold that I for a year I could not be free without my sweatshirt. I complained all the time, to be honest. I never know I have got used to this weather.

I came back to Vietnam over the summer. For two weeks, I couldn’t do anything without the AC. I often imagined that I was putting my house in the fridge, because compared to the outside, it was fresher and more comfortable. But I know I should not keep doing that for a long time, because to me, not using the AC has always been considered a good way of living. Therefore, everyday for two weeks, I would try to tolerate the hotness for one or two hours longer than the day before, until finally I got used to it. At first, the weather bothered me so much that I even wanted to go back to the US or posted a status on my social account (which I rarely do), yet later my effort paid off that I could freely do everything without air conditioning. Even 25°C seemed to be too cold.

I am usually amazed of how fast I am in adjusting to where I live. What could I do if I kept complaining about the weather? Where could I go when in fact everywhere was like in a big oven? Could I keep posting on my Facebook and Instagram account about how harsh it was in Vietnam? I wouldn’t do that. I wouldn’t let the weather be a big matter to my daily activities.

I haven’t done a good job stop complaining when I went to the US. Partly because I didn’t have enough warm clothe. Everywhere I go, the uneasiness of this temperature discourages me from doing what I want. I am trying, though.

When I say, “I am cold,” not everybody would understand. Many of my friends have been living in the Northwest or other temperate places for most of their lives, so they just never can tell if there’s any significant differences. Or many of friends who come from countries near the equator and use AC all the time, they never understand how a girl who has tried not to use AC feels about the weather. Nobody will ever know.

Focus on your breath only

That was my assignment today.

You are to focus on your breath only. For five minutes. Again, doing only that, and not falling asleep.

So I did. In the midst of school and work, this seems to me like a waste of time. Sitting there and just breathing?! But because it was a part of my homework, so I did it anyway, and after all I realize how many things I have missed just because I focus on “checking off my to-do list” rather than “living the moment”. I closed my eyes for five minutes:

  • Hmm… I still have too many assignments due today.
  • Hmm… I want to have more time to read.
  • I will workout everyday this week. My body is exhausted.
  • I want to improve my writing and spend more time on coding.
  • Why 5 minutes seem so longggg???

My mind wandered everywhere, being buried because of my stresses. However, at the same time I also realized:

  • I can do everything in 5 minutes, but I can also do nothing.

So why don’t just sit back and relax. Sit back and have a look at what I have done, rather than being panic about what I have not done YET. Focus on this moment only.

Focus on how many people I have talked to this week that I have never talked to before. Isn’t it true that only when I set my businesses aside, I have time to share with others about my days? Focus on how many places I have always wanted to go to? Isn’t it true that only when I stop thinking about my school, work, and extracurricular activities that I have time to go? So what is the purpose of worrying, of not living this moment?

The sun is up there, even though it is cold, but it is a great day. A great day because I woke up early to see sunrise, because I went to the gym and ran half an hour, because I called my parents after a long busy week, and because I focus on my breath instead of following my crazy mind.

It is this moment that I should praise the Lord for giving me another breath-in second, for letting me living this life.

Sick or homesick

I haven’t been sick for the past two years. People said I have dealt with many different types of sickness that there are no common germs that can have a big impact on me any more. But now I am having a cold, cannot do anything. Mid-terms are coming, and I’m laying on my bed.

I’m tired and confused because this is my very first time having a cold at a different place other than my parents’ house. Even though I know exactly what to do – how many hours I should sleep, what I should eat, and what I should prevent doing and eating – it is still hard because I miss the way people care for me when I did not feel well.

Mom usually doesn’t care too much. She would be the very last person who asks if I was not feeling well. But she cooks all the good food in this world, so I was blessed. Dad paid attention to every small details. Every morning before going to work, he would go to my room and talk to me for a bit, as well as checking if I look good or have a fever. Many times I used to think this was overprotective and annoying, but because I am homesick, I miss it anyway.

My sister was eight when I left her to study abroad. To Dad, she was the warmest and most light-hearted person he had never seen, compared to me. I was more an introvert and have a richer inner life, while my sister was the opposite. I was a perfectionist while my sister loved making mistakes. We have never been a good match. However, she cared anyways. She would notice every details, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she actually said what she was thinking. I might not as caring to others as her, though. I miss her right now, because she was such a blessing and a cute little girl.

I barely call them, these days. We all are really busy. I told them I am sick, and on the phone I know they care. But it’s solely a cold. Not anything huge to specifically care about. I would try not to have any serious types of sickness, because that would be a disaster.

I need a good night sleep tonight, although that might be hard because I have been sleeping a lot the last two days. I have a psychology mid-term coming up, and it is truly hard. I don’t really know how to deal with it. I would try again today, and again tomorrow. It will be due tomorrow. And there will be another exam coming up next Wednesday. I can do this. I would be patient. I would try my best and wait for the result.

I would have a good night of sleep.

praise the Lord for another living day.