Category Archives: Hobbies/Pasttimes

No Matter How Hard It Got, He Still Made His Art, a Student with Cerebral Palsy: I Found My Wings, in My Art

A story of inspiration here, to all, from the Newspapers, translated…

A severely handicapped third-year student with cerebral palsy, who is in the Public He-Mei Experimental School, in the art departments, He enjoyed going to school a lot, and, loved art more, but, his limbs are slowly, becoming more and more stiff by the day, he couldn’t draw or paint on his own, gladly, with the help of his physical therapist and art instructor, they’d made instruments to help him draw and paint, he had the chance, of developing his art skills further, and was able to, knock on the doors of related majors of the varied universities.

He lives in Nantou, in the past twelve years’ time, his mother, Ke would drive him to and from school, and help him to study in the arts.  Ke said, He loved going to school, and, even when he’d fallen ill, he still refused to take a leave of absence, several times that he was kept at home to rest up, he’d started getting upset, and her and her husband had lifted up the white flags toward their son’s requests, and, allowed her child, to “play video games to his heart’s desires, and eat whatever he wanted to,” to stop him from objecting on not being in school.

“I’d made new discoveries at school every single day!”, said He, the teacher taught him to draw, taught him how to use the computer programs to create art, although he was immobilized, his heart soared in the creations freely, he’d hoped, to be like the main character of the latest Miyazaki animated feature, to fly with the wind, to never give up, until he’d achieved his own dreams too.

Every time before he’d started creating his art, He would put on the special wrist support created for him by his art teacher, Lin, and others, and he’d used a sponge, to help him hold on to the pen that he was drawing with, dipped the brush, into the specialized foam cup, and worked hard, to “dip” onto the drawing papers, the multiple dots had formed a picture, like the Western Impressionist artworks.

He’s handicaps exacerbated by the days, and, he’d needed six to eight times more the time that regular students would take, to finish a painting, he’d taken an entire semester, to finish the watercolor piece, “Autumn”, he’d used bright colors, it was breathtaking, and he was invited to put on an art exhibition with the He-Mei Art School.

The principal, Lee, from He-Mei Art School said, that He is of normal intelligence, and knew well, that he is slowly, losing control of his own body, and, the angle to which his wrists and arms are able to move is being reduced by the day, and so, he’d started, planning his studies after he gets admitted into university, and, his spirits are moving, and he is, a role model for his peers.

And so, this high school aged kid didn’t let his handicap stop him from doing what he enjoys, and, with the accommodations made by his teachers and school, as well as with the support from his parents, he was able, to live his dreams.

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Filed under Because of Love, Children with Rare Conditions & Special Needs, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Lessons, Life, Observations, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Reality Clashes with Dreams, Self-Images, Story-Telling, The Education of Children

The Coming of the Empty Nest

How to occupy your time, after the kids are all grown, translated…

The friends around me all slowly, marched into the empty nest stage of their lives.

A said, that her daughter went abroad to study for a little over two years now, her son is about to follow his sister’s footstep soon, it’d caused her and her husband to lose the focus of their lives all of a sudden.  B said, that her two daughters went to the southern tip of the island to look for work and to live, another child will be sent off to work, the workplace is too far from home, and he can only stay in the dormitory of the company.  C said lightly, since her child grew up, he’d told her he was going to volunteer abroad, to work-vacate, he’d rarely stayed put in Taiwan during the summers or the winter breaks, and right after her son graduated, he’d immediately gotten accepted to a grad school abroad, went abroad to pursue his studies.  D’s daughter went to work for a foreign airline, and barely made it back to Taiwan in a couple of months, and her son works in Thailand, from before, she’d focused her entire attention on her children, and now, she doesn’t know how she’s going to pass the time.

And my good friend, E had been planning this day for a very long time, before she retired, she’d taken up calligraphy and drawing, fitting to her interests, and she’d trained as a volunteer at the museum district, to work as a guide.  With her children growing up, leaving the nest, getting married, her husband followed her, other than taking classes to enrich himself, he’d also done tai chi at the park, exercised regularly, and gone on tours, and from time to time, they’d taken cruises too, or gone on self-help trips with a couple of good friends, they didn’t seem to be impacted by the empty nest at all, they’d even shared with the younger generations their travels using LINE.  The two of them are at home anywhere they are, as for the home that’s here, they’d filled it up with happiness, and they don’t feel that void.

This still just shows, how important it is, to plan out the times after your retirement, because there WILL be a shift in focus of your lives, with your children all grown up, flying out, if you can’t find things, hobbies, to occupy your time, you will surely feel that wave of emptiness attacking you, but, like this couple who’d jam-packed their schedules, that, is a great way of dealing with the empty nest.

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Filed under Empty Nest, Expectations, Family Matters, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Life, Perspectives, Properties of Life, Socialization

Happiness Comes from Within, on Music & Life

The impact of music on life, translated…

Piano is music, that, was the simplistic impressions I’d held during the childhood years, because growing up in Hong Kong, I’d only come in contact with music from my teacher’s accompaniment in piano class.

I’d always imagined myself in front of the piano, my fingers glided across the keyboard, with the melodies in my head, ups and downs, slow, or fast; as my hands stopped, so had the performance.  And this music was, saved, only, for my ears.

One day in fifth grade, my mother told me to come see her after school, after she’s off work, she took me to the dentist.  My mother worked at Central in Hong Kong, it’s the business center of Hong Kong, other than the jungle of tall office buildings, there are also, a ton of high end shops, in the time of waiting for my mother, I’d wandered into a high-end piano shop, and, I’d held down my unsettled mind, fearing, that I might damage the instruments—every piano there, was so expensive!

“Hey, how come there’s such a tiny piano?”, I’d walked closer to it, it was, a miniature classic toy piano that’s with European style and dark brown color.  Although it was only a toy, but you can touch every single key on it, and can hear its sounds.  That day after I got home, I’d quickly counted the bills and the coins in my turtle piggy bank, and stashed the amount, in my shoes, I’ll bring it home this weekend.

Every day after school, I’d sit, in front of the small electric piano.  And, as my fingers pressed down on the keys, my musical journey began, up and down, quick, or slow.  I’m the only one who gets the melodies I played.

Because I’d gone to play it every single day, my piano and I developed this connection with one another, it’d sang out the songs that’s kept, at the bottom of my heart.  And still, in just two short years, its time is up, and slowly, “walked” off the stage.  Even back then, I’d felt the nostalgia of “the love will always be here”.

When the Listener and Singer Combined into One

The most expensive thing we have in the house, was what my father called, “Our four girls”, so, there wasn’t any budgeting for any of us to take the talent classes, I’d never mentioned of wanting to take up piano lessons.  Second year in middle school, the nuns at my school held a free course, Cantonese songs.  The free was tempting to me, I’d signed up immediately.

We’d first started with the conversations, without the male/female specifications, later on, we’d learned to sing the tunes, counted out the beats, as we sang along.  It’s a different kind of music, truly, turns out, there are other forms of music outside to piano!  Every day I’d hid out on the back lanai to practice, normally, it would be after nine in the evening, after I’m done with my homework, and the chores around the house, I’d started singing, “I’m alone, holding on to the lute………”, but, my hard practices had gotten the complaints from the neighbors, and so, ended, my dreams of singing Cantonese tunes as a teenager.

Later on, going to school, starting a career, getting married, having children, it’d filled up my itinerary, and, taking up music lessons is still, an extravagance, and I can only, hope.  Until one day, as I was doing the dishes, I’d hummed the small tunes, and, penned the lyrics into the songs, using what’s in my heart, and, the dish dryer in front of me became a P.A., for every line I’d sung, the voice rang around the room, and my heart replied too.  Although, this, is still, the music, that only I know of, but I was moved, without knowing why, it’d made me realized, that without the notes on the sheet music, I can still, sing out the happiness inside my heart.

Turns out, so long as your heart’s still there, the music will also be, when the singer and the listener became one, everything will fall into its rightful places.  This, is the most, intoxicating music.

And so, this woman’s love of music is amazing, although she was bombarded by the realities of her own life, her household economics wouldn’t allow her to take up music, and yet, she’d still carried the music loving heart, and that, is the importance, of having a hobby, because you don’t need to entertain anybody else, you just entertain yourselves.

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Filed under Cost of Living, Expectations, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Life, Properties of Life

Outside the Lines of the Sheet Music Pages

How music had had an impact on someone’s life, translated…

The year I turned nineteen, I’d conquered the musical notes, with the strength of conquering Mt. Everest, because of my older cousin who was studying in N.T.U., I’d had another level of understanding of it…

The Musical Adventures of My Childhood Years

At age six, the group of us in kindergarten hopped scotch, but instead, I’d stayed indoors, and treated the black and white keys, as well as the lined sheet music as my toys instead.

With the years of taking lessons increased, I’m like a young calf, no longer just satisfied by the pastures I was grazing on anymore, wanted to run even farther off, to find another possibility for myself.  And so, other than the practice classical pieces that my instructor had assigned to me, I’d started trying out those more upbeat music, started with the sonatas to new classics, and the pieces played by Richard Clayderman, all became my practice pieces.

And still, the result of my childish adventures are half and half.  What I gained the most about this period of experimentation was, that I’d opened up a door for myself toward popular music, when I was in the fourth grade, the Chinese romance writer’s books were televised into primetime soap operas, I’d hummed the theme song, and written down the notes of the music, and a lot of my classmates had asked me for the copies of the sheet music I’d written out, and I’d met more good friends.  What was worse, was that I’d gotten too intrigued by the flowery ways of playing the music, it’d made my hand a bit deformed, I now have, a pair of large hands that weren’t in the right ratio with my body, and, my classmates always joked on how I got a pair of farmer’s hands.

On the year I’d turned nineteen, my understanding of music was taken to a brand new level, because of my older cousin who studied in N.T.U.

My cousin is the only son, from an all-star middle school, to the most famous, all-boys high school, all the way to National Taiwan University, he’d had a smooth ride to the top academically, plus my uncle and aunt are both in high-up positions in their work, he’d had a good life.  But, when he was in his last year of high school, my uncle died by accident, and when he was a sophomore in university, my aunt was diagnosed with cancer, and she’d passed away too, in just no more than two short years, he’d lost both his parents, it was hitting him even harder, made him, who wasn’t at all, that social, even MORE isolated.  At which time, I was just, coming up north for school, I was just one year younger than he was, and, in the urging and begging of my relatives, I’d become, his roommate.

We’d taken up tennis lessons together, learned to ride motorcycles, and, go to church every once in a while, because his professor and his wife knew what had happened in the family, hoped that he could get involved, and become more social again, in order to show gratitude toward his professor, whenever we got the time, we’d gone to the church activities.  Naturally it wasn’t, at all, always smooth going, as his roommate either, for instance, if I’d not placed something in its rightful place, he’d started lecturing me, and, I’d rebutted, by cranking up the music even louder.

Writing the Emotions that Nobody Knows About Using the Notes

After a semester, my cousin went from locking his bedroom doors completely to having his doors half-opened.  One night, I’d carried some midnight snacks home, he, who was somewhat anal asked me, “Do you want to come into my room to hear some music?”, that’s real odd, the room that the cleaning lady couldn’t even enter into, I’d get an invitation?  Without a second word, I’d carried the stewed meats in one hand, drinks in the other, ran into his room, found me a seat, and started, chowing down.

As we’d eaten, and talked, I’d realized, that the radio was playing the same song over and over, the singer had a full voice, and her tone’s quality made the melody feel even lonelier.  “What’s this song called?  Nobody Knows?”  “You’ve heard it?  The singer, Tony Rich………”, my cousin hollered, he couldn’t believe, that his younger girl cousin who’s somewhat a hillbilly, who’s totally careless, can have the same tastes in music as he.  I’d told him, because there’s high repetition in the lyrics, it would be hard, to not remember.  He’d nodded, hinting, that I’d guessed it right, then, he’d continued, “you know what, if you keep your heart in a diary, then, someone will peek into it for sure, but, writing your emotions with music, there’s no way of losing, only you alone will know it.”

Wow!  So, music can manage to continue oneself from the present to the past too, that is something I’d never considered, I’d given him a thumbs up, “You are, an engineer!”  Other than my curiousness, I’d started listening to the lyrics, “I pretend that I’m glad you went away/These four walls closing more every day/And I’m dying inside/And nobody knows it but me.”

Looking at my cousin, sitting with his back towards me, I’d felt this sourness, rushing up from my heart, my dearest cousin, you still had a ton of things left unsaid to auntie, don’t you?

In not knowing, I’d taken after my older cousin’s ways, of recording my life down with the songs: Hsin-Jie Lee’s “Freedom” expressed this false sense of freedom I’d felt when I broke up; Je-Ching Chu’s “Sister’s Drum” roused up this uneasiness that I’d felt, as I was about to graduate, and enter into the workforce, turned me into a backpacker, to Tibet, leading me to believe, that that, was the exit to my own life; CNBLUE’s “Try Again, Smile Again”, helped me through the tortured darkness of the game of money and power at work. And, Huei Jiang’s “Asking the Gods” helped me express the difficulties of choosing between my own parents, and my career…

The candles on the cake is closing in, to forty, and now, I’d played the pianos, not for the sake of conquering anything, and, played the music, not for the purpose of getting the lost memories back again, I’d just, enjoyed the simple notes that were connected.

And so, you can see the maturation process of this woman, of how the purpose of music had changed, as she matured, became of age, and, how music played a vital role for her and someone she loved and cared about, and that, is the power of music, you don’t necessarily need to understand the words, but, just listen to the melodies…

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Filed under Because of Love, Being Alone, Connections, Coping Mechanisms, Cost of Living, Expectations, Family Matters, Healing Process, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Interpersonal Relations, Letting Go, Life, Loneliness/Solitude, Loss, Observations

Beautifying the Parks, Everybody Chips in

It’s a collective effort, because we share this common hang-out environment, translated…

Since was younger, I’d been a green thumb, I’d planted various kinds of flowers and grasses, bonsais, and I’d even set up a small pond, to keep the fishes.  I’d made the entry to my house into a small garden, placed a few pottery there, with the Japanese vine climbing all over, the multicolor flowers bloomed at the same time, it look so lively, and it’d lightened my mood.

After I’d started leading the way, my neighbors followed my footsteps, and, our whole alley now whiffed of floral aromas, and looked very much alive.

Many years ago when I retired, I didn’t want to stay at home, other than volunteering, and taking enrichment courses, I’d also entered into the training for beautifying the environment of our neighborhoods, and received the beginners’ and progressive level certifications. And took what I learned, applied it to my life.

I saw how the park in our community, because it’d not been fixed up, had lost its original appeal, plus the equipments are getting old, and, was in desperate need of being remodeled, and I’d gotten the thought of “why not beautify it?”

In order to get the cohesiveness of the community going, the community had a naming contest, after we’d set up the names for the park, the small hill, the resting place, we’d taken ideas from everybody, started planting the flowers, the grasses, and, set up a windmill too, to make a logo, to show the difference of our community compared to the rest of other communities.

Then, every member of the community chipped in, first, they’d worked together, to clean up the mess, then, the fixer-upper.  The paints on the slides, along with other children’s play equipment are peeling off, we’d repainted the items, and had the art experts, to make cartoon prints; the seating of the small shack was broken, we’d upped the foundation, to make sure, that it was safe for people to rest there.

It was, in the dead of summer that we’d all started working on it, our sweats fell like the rain, but, none of us complained of how hard the work was, or how tired we were getting.  After a few month’s time, the park regained its shiny colors, the floor was cleaned, the equipments, fixed up property, and, we’d finally seen the sweet fruits of our labor.  Seeing how the residents would come when they have time, strolling, the parents, with the children to play, it’d made all the hard work, the sweats, more than worthwhile.

The day that the remodeling was finished, we’d even held a concert under the trees, had the school band come to perform, and treated the residents to free coffee and snacks, to enjoy the music.  At which time, the gentle breezes came, with the music, sounding so softly in our ears, feels like heaven on earth!

Because you saw the need, and, started taking the initiative to make the improvements, and, people were infected by your passion, your zest, your drive, and they started working alongside you too, and, because you all worked together, that, was why this “collective effort” felt fruitful, it’d brought the community closer together, and, it’d beautified the environment too.

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Filed under Cause & Effect, Connections, Expectations, Friendships, Helping Behaviors, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Interactions Shared with the World, Interpersonal Relations, Life, Observations, Perspectives, Philosophies of Life, Properties of Life, Socialization, Story-Telling, Translated Work

Finding the Gem After Losing My Job

Coping with one’s empty nest effectively, and now, hobbies fill up the busyness of her days, translated…

Last August, my junior in college was accepted as a foreign exchange student to the Netherlands; in September, my son left Taipei, went to Chiayi for college.  My husband left early and came home late for work, and I’d become, seemingly “unemployed” as a housewife!

Every morning when I woke, I’d not wondered about what I’ll be cooking for supper, but instead, wheeling that dehumidifier to my son and daughter’s rooms.  How, do I pass this sparing time of my day?

My friends told me to get a dog, but without knowing, that I was, afraid of dogs, when I saw strays or someone walking their dogs, I’d stepped off to the sides, until they passed.  So, keeping a dog is not the way to make my life busy at all.

I’d gotten too bored, as I wandered into my daughter’s room, saw how her electric piano was sitting there, by the corner, so lonely, I’d allowed my fingers to glide across the keyboard, and I’d recalled my childhood too………

It was, about 1966, when my father went to the American consulting group and bought a pre-owned bicycle, gave it to my seven-year-old older brother as a present.  I saw a big black box, asked my father what it was?  Dad told me, “It’s an accordion that someone didn’t want anymore.”  Opened up the box, I’d touched the keyboard, and I’d played a familiar tune, “Funeral March”.  Later I’d found out that it was the theme song from Waterloo Bridge, that was often used, in times of goodbye.

The piano from my childhood days, in order to play, I’d have to step on the pedals.  I’d slanted my body, with my hands and my legs too, with the memories I’d carried, of the tunes I’d heard before, played the songs with one hand, one right after the last.

Since my son went to college, my husband became passionate about the saxophone, and I’d used my daughter’s electronic piano, to recall back the days of my childhood years, and I’d signed up for class.

The courses, from beginning to Christmas lasted ten sessions, and so, the instructor taught me “Silent Night”.  And, as she’d taught me, she’d commented, “You’re a quick study, other people had to practice the melodies, then the harmonies, and you can play both together!”  I’d smiled, and I owed my abilities to the funeral marchers who’d passed by my house, who became a sort of an introductory teacher.

During the time that my kids weren’t around, I’d changed the dishes that my kids enjoyed into the songs.  This accidental talent had, enriched my life, and, I was able to, change my sentiments of missing my kids into melodies, and I no longer felt sad anymore.

So, finding a hobby is still the BEST way to help one passes one’s empty nest, isn’t it?  And, this woman made the adjustments of roles from focusing on her family, to shifting the focus, BACK to herself, and now that her kids are all grown up, she can have the time, to pick up whatever hobbies she’s interested in but never had the time to pursue when her kids were still quite young.

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Filed under Coping Mechanisms, Empty Nest, Expectations, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Life, Properties of Life, Socialization, Story-Telling

Insisted on Getting Addicted, We’re All Coffee Addicts

My FAVORITE!!!  Coffee, that is…translated…

In the Coffee Tree Research Lab, everybody is very ecstatic, as they’d chit-chatted on the subject of coffee.  It’s hard to imagine, that the founder of “FIKA FIKA”, Chen was a student of broadcasting, and the man in charge of “Simple Kaffa”, Wu, was a straight-A student from the NTU’s electronics majors, and, the man who brought this group together, “Uncle Coffee”, Hsu, was a student of the forestry majors, and, none of their areas of expertise has any relations to coffee at all, just the person, Lin, who’d provided the space for the shops, who’d majored in horticulture is the closest.  This interesting finding reminded me of how under the reports of how Wu won the 2013 Barista competition, there was a message that said, “It’s such a shame, that with a degree from NTU, he’d ended up being a barista.”

“Such a shame?  Why?  I know, to the coffee fanatics who are here today, giving up the pursue of finding great coffees, that, would truly be a shame!

As we’d chatted, tabloids are a must topic, but, the tabloids still circled around the subject of coffee, someone couldn’t help but complain, “in the five-star hotels here, we’d had five-star servings of food, but the coffee is very low in quality…the words had touched everybody who was there.  This sort of a trend, IS truly a shame.

Knowing One’s Own Capabilities

The writer today was only HALF of an announcer, as a coffee observer, for me, it isn’t hard, to find the background stories of these coffee masters, but, to understand these experts in coffee, and, with the knowledge of the area, we’d still needed “Uncle Coffee” to input, and help us, “translate”:  Mr. Clever is drip coffee system, because I’m a fool, so I call it clever; AeroPress is like the espresso machines when you’d pressed a button, and, it’d make the kind of coffees you wanted it to, and it only takes just one minute.

And so, this, is a group people with a love of coffee, that were originally strangers, but, because of this shared interest, they’d become friends, and that just shows, how easy it is, to connect with others, just find something you have in common, and go from there, like this group of strangers who’d met, for the very first time, for the coffee forums.

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Filed under Connections, Expectations, Friendships, Hobbies/Pasttimes, Life, Story-Telling