EY Connect Day – Part III

Time flies and it is our firm’s annual day of service to the community again! Since I had such a great experience last year, I chose to go back to the same nursing home to volunteer on September 30th. Here are the stories from a year ago: Part I; Part II.

We divided up into three groups for the morning session: group 1 to play Jeopardy and volleyball with the residents; group 2 to do gardening in the yard; and group 3 to paint walls of a hallway in the building. I participated the group 1 activities last year (see my previous posts) and had no green fingers whatsoever, so I joined the wall-painting group.

The tasks gave me a sense of accomplishment as the light green walls gradually disappeared under a new white coat. And I interacted with two residents. One was half sitting and half lying on a bed in his room, facing the door that was open to the hallway where we were painting. I said hi the first time I saw him, and he said it was really nice of us to do this. He watched us with interest and had a big smile on his face all the time. The other was a woman ‘walking’ her wheelchair – tapping her feet on the floor to move the wheelchair with her. She said “good job” the first time she passed through us, then she kept circling back, at least 5 times. I suspect she was walking laps as her morning exercises.

I went to the activity room where the volleyball game was taking place. I was so happy to see Edith and Jenny were still playing, at age 102 and 100 respectively. I didn’t see Ruth at first, then she came in just when I was asking about her. A few of us had a good chat. I asked “what book are you reading now?” She immediately reached behind her wheelchair and pulled out Dead Wake by Eric Larson. The staff there told me that Ruth is a World War II veteran, spoke five languages, and admired by grateful scientists and writers from Isaac Asimov to Carl Sagan during her years at Library of Congress. I was deeply awed once again.

After lunch, we cut colorful papers into flower/leave/pumpkin shapes for their holiday decorations. Some of my colleagues did more gardening, a few of them went around the hallways to update the bulletin boards, several girls did manicure for residents. Edith was very happy with her bright red nails. A lady with India origin got pink ones. She was okay at first but suddenly went into distress, mumbling in her native language. Luckily one of our volunteers knew the language and was able to speak with her and calmed her down. Good to have a diverse team!

It was a wonderful day. We interacted with residents and brought energy and fun into their lives; we got some tasks done that otherwise would have fallen on the shoulders of the staff; and we networked among ourselves, who are in various groups from different offices. EY Connect Day is such an inspiring event and I am proud to be part of it. Last year more than 16,600 EY volunteers logged over 105,000 hours across the Americas on this day, let’s see what the numbers are for this year!

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Together

I don’t take photos of people much, but here are a few that really touch me. Hope you like them as much as I do.

The first one is from a hiking trip on Old Rag Mountain in Virginia. The trail is about 7 miles round-trip with elevation of 2,200 ft. There is 1 mile of rock scramble near the peak and that is where this photo was taken.img_2330They are my friends and they are happy. I believe they will share the burdens of daily life together, with cheerfulness in their hearts and smiles on their faces…

I have been to Chicago twice and found myself in heavy rain both times. They are my friends as well, walking ahead of me in the stormy downtown.yellowstone_0530-003Yes, hold each other and hold tight, never let go. Walk together, step by step, through the calm, through the storm…

This next one was from Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. It is where Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia meet. It is also the intersection of Potomac River and Shenandoah River, a beautiful place.img_1094I like the color of this photo, as well as the lyrics of a Chinese song that always comes to my mind when I see it. “Growing old together is the most romantic thing that I can think of”. Two hearts become harmonious after so many years together – they can communicate without saying a word. Just sit in a park, on a beach, or in rocking chairs at their front porch, feel and enjoy…

I like trees, and I like these two standing in Stanley Park of Vancouver, BC, Canada. img_3658It is beautiful (maybe a little sad) to stay like this. Always together, forever apart…

[Daily Post – Together]

 

R U Smiling?

Many people told me that they liked the “ru.smiln” that I used as my email account, various IDs, and the blog URL here. Since my first name is Ru and last name initial is S, they thought it was quite clever as well. Actually I didn’t come up with it myself. It found me.

It was in the winter of 2005, my mood was very low those days – stressful work, hopeless dissertation, failed marriage, seriously sick father. Everyday was a struggle. One morning, I woke up and saw a grayish overcast sky, I was immediately filled with despair and didn’t want to go to work at all. But I did anyway because it was the right thing to do. I drove out and stopped at the first traffic light, and the plate of the car in front of me was ‘RU SMILN’. My heart was struck to the core and tears rolled down my face at once, even before my brain got a chance to react. I knew clearly it was God speaking to me, “smile, my child, just because you are mine”. If it were simply ‘SMILN’, I wouldn’t feel much, but my name was there staring at me! God came to cheer me up even without my praying for it. His eyes were upon me and knew how I felt. I cried all the way in the car that morning, and smiled through my tears at the same time. I made up my mind to let God see my smile no matter what happens, because I am an obedient child and I trust Him; I will also show my smile to the enemies – my God loves me so much, what can you do to defeat me?

Not until months later did I realize the car plate actually was ‘are you smiling’, not really my name RU. God worked in amazing ways to get His personal message across. And I started to use “ru.smiln” as a constant reminder of His love for me.

God carried me through that darkest period of my life and kept blessing me in many ways since then. As time went by, I gradually became content and proud. I took things for granted and didn’t put Him front and center in my life anymore, but His love never left me. My heart started to turn toward Him again recently. I was listening to old worship songs while driving last night, darkness all around me. As I prayed and sang to God, many scenes in the past flashed through my mind. His peace and love once again filled me. Fear not, for the joy of the Lord is my strength. In a world of uncertainty, God and His love alone is everlasting.

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Crisis, and Chinese Wisdom

jfk-crisis-danger-and-opportunityThe Chinese word for “crisis” is 危机. It consists of two characters: 危 (danger); and 机 (opportunity). Ancient Chinese already knew that there was an opportunity in every crisis, no matter how dangerous it seemed at first. Great wisdom.

Interestingly, I first learned about this awesome insight regarding “crisis” in Chinese from a British woman several years ago, who was our facilitator at a team training session. After she mentioned how Chinese interpreted crisis, I frowned my eyebrows and tried to retrieve the word – as I never heard of this saying before. Then it dawned on me that they were indeed the meanings of the two separate characters, and I was amazed. Later she asked me to write down the Chinese characters for her repertoire, and told me that she got really nervous when she saw the doubt on my face, thinking “OMG, here is someone who knows Chinese, hope I didn’t get it wrong!”

When crisis comes, let’s remind ourselves – there is an opportunity behind the danger, don’t miss it!

[Daily Post – Crisis]

Trip Brief – Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia

It has been a week since I returned from a wonderful 12-day trip in Europe:

Amsterdam, Netherlands -> Belgrade, Serbia -> Montenegro -> Dubrovnik, Croatia -> Frankfurt, Germany

The trip included five flight segments from four airlines, train, bus, ferry, and lots of walking (average 15,000 steps a day). It was a nice combination of city and nature. As usual, there are too many pictures to go through and too much fun to put into words – highlights for now and details in the future.

Amsterdam:

Belgrade:

(Reception at the Royal Palace – our small tour group with Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia)

Montenegro (Kotor, Lovcen National Park, Sveti Stefan):

Dubrovnik (climbed the city walls):

Frankfurt:

In addition to enjoying the breath-taking views, we also appreciated Van Gogh’s masterpieces, drank Rakija and local beers, tasted wines, ate lots of meat (in Serbia) and fish (in Montenegro and Croatia), met wonderful people everywhere, and added precious moments to our memories… More details to come.

 

Books read in 2016 Q2

I can’t believe it is already time to post the second book report of the year. I finished 15 books in Q2, which makes a total of 28 books this year, ahead of schedule to reach the goal of 50. Well done so far. 🙂

Here are the books I finished in the past three months:

  1. The Snowman by Jo Nesbo
  2. Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
  3. The Reversal by Michael Connelly
  4. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
  5. The Nightmare by Lars Kepler
  6. The Mysterious Mr. Quin: A Harley Quin Collection by Agatha Christie
  7. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  8. Gathering Prey by John Sandford
  9. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
  10. The Man Who Loved China: The Fantastic Story of the Eccentric Scientist Who Unlocked the Mysteries of the Middle Kingdom by Simon Winchester
  11. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
  12. Leading Change by John Kotter
  13. North Korea Undercover: Inside the World’s Most Secret State by John Sweeney
  14. Van Gogh by Ingo Walther
  15. Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior by Leonard Mlodinow

There seemed to be a shift from fictions to non-fictions during this time period. Most of the books on this list were enjoyable – the only books that I didn’t like much were #5 and #13. I am about to start a trip with Amsterdam as the first stop, and Van Gogh museum would be a must-see now that I read #14!

No telling what books will end up in my list for the next report, just keep reading!

Books 2016Q2

The Southernmost Place I Have Ever Visited

That would be the Perito Moreno Glacier in Argentina that I visited in February 2014. It is still a few hundred miles north of Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, but it is already “more South” than the tip of South Africa and New Zealand.

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A detailed post with beautiful photos and more information about this amazing Glacier can be found here.

This is what I wrote right after returning from the trips two years ago… It was an exciting experience. How time flies! Looking forward to returning to South America in the near future.

[Daily Post – South]