23 April, 2018

Time - Zones, Travel, Lack Thereof

First off, I live in a country with no concept of time zones. China - yes, enormous China, roughly the size and dimensions of the US - is all one time zone.

I recently had to help a Chinese friend figure out when she was to check in to a webinar. It was listed as "[time]PDT", as well as "[time]GMT-8". She was baffled. I didn't even notice the two times. Clearly, it was coming from a PDT location, so I translated the time into China time for her, and then she asked what the GMT-8 thing meant. It hadn't dawned on me that a third of the world's population has absolutely no understanding of time zones. I still don't think she believes me that they are both the same time!

Sunday, April 22nd was my niece's 6th birthday. On the morning of April 22nd, I called to say happy birthday. That was at 9pm on the 21st, for her. When I told her it was already her birthday in China, I could hear her brain explode. "WHaHaAt?!" with a little giggle somewhere in the middle of the "what".  

I time-travel regularly when I talk with family or friends.

As I mentioned in my Lagging Behind post, I'm actually ahead of the AtoZ challenge, time-wise. This is both good and bad. It means that I'm finishing my daily post early, and usually, I'm fairly early in the link-up, too. Good! But bad, because a lot of the blogs that I found early and enjoy are not linked up at the time I'm linking, so I miss them as I click on the ones in the link-up list. Once or twice I've just gone to the master list to try to catch up, but then that takes extra time, and time is precious, is it not?

Everyone complains of lack of time, yet we all have the same amount of it. The best wisdom I've been given was from an older lady I worked with early after college. She was trying to get me to join a ladies church group, and I said I don't have time. She countered with.
"You have time for what you make time for."
That has stuck with me for my whole life. I wish I could tell her the impact her words had on me. I no longer use the excuse "I don't have time." If I don't want to do something, I will usually explain in all honesty why not. If I simply don't want to, the inviter can't counter with anything of value! Of course, sometimes we have to be kind and make an excuse.

Do you have enough time? I feel I'm pretty good at time management, but I'd love to hear your time management tips in the comments.

(If you're visiting from A to Z, please include the name of your blog as it is on the Master List so I can return the favor!)

21 April, 2018

Snobbery of all Kinds

Snobbery. I'm a snob. We all are in some ways, aren't we?

Oops. Wrong picture. :-)
 I'm a bit of a coffee snob, but I'm currently living on instant, because I broke my French Press and can't see buying a new one right before a move. So I'm not an extreme snob. (I once went to a friend's house, who calls herself a coffee snob... because she will only drink Dunkin Donuts coffee. To each, her own snobbery.)
Here it is. Coffee. A good cup.

Maybe Snobbery isn't about wanting the best; it's about wanting what you want. Because who decides what's best?

Grammatically, I'm such a snob that I often ignore Grammarly's suggestions. I'll punctuate how I want, thank you very much! Regarding this A-to-Z challenge, my grammar snobbishness keeps me away from some blogs.

I don't flatly refuse to read blogs with grammatical errors. There are some blogs I enjoy that clearly are not proofread before posting. My attraction to a writing style or voice, interesting characters - things like that are more important to me. I understand some spelling errors slip through because of homophones.

It just seems that, with all the grammar checking apps and tools out there, why would any writer choose not to check their writing?

I guess this post isn't about Life Wisdom, although there may be some discussion about when snobbery is good vs. bad. Classist? Racist? Bad. Desiring of the best for yourself? I'd say good, as long as you understand not everyone feels the same.

Oh, and more Life Wisdom: PROOFREAD YOUR WRITING!
(I make my living writing for businesses, so it's a hot button.)

Are you a snob? What are you snobbish about, that you feel is a good snobbery?

(If you're visiting from A to Z, please include the name of your blog as it is on the Master List so I can return the favor!)

20 April, 2018

Reality Check

During these challenges, I tend to get lost in the blogosphere, so this reality check is for me, but will hopefully serve as a reminder for others of you who are equally foggy-headed!

I've been writing Life Wisdom this month, such as it is, but not every part of life is wise. Yes, I meditate every day, do yoga, read my Bible, tell my husband I love him, and I believe that for my life these are wise things to do. But reality is also mundane. Or chaotic. Or overwhelming.

For me, this is reality:

As I write this, I am sitting at a small desk in our small apartment in Beijing, China. The window by my desk looks out from 11 stories up, over the main entrance to our building, where several bikes and motorbikes are parked. If I stand up and look down, I can see a few of the older residents sitting on benches. There is a street with some small shops and a hotel, many trees, and beyond the trees, other tall buildings. Through them, I can see how very smoggy it is today. It doesn't look smoggy if you just look below. 

As I write this, Doctor Zhivago is playing on the TV. This is one of those movies that I know well enough that it's not distracting to me, but if I take a break from writing, I enjoy it. It's just so beautiful! This movie makes winter look pretty. I don't only watch old classics, though: yesterday was Guardians of the Galaxy. Do you write with any noise around you, or do you need silence?

Reality is: I struggle with depression. It comes out of nowhere and goes away after a while. Sometimes I can recognize it coming - if I don't want to sing along to my music, if I don't want to leave the house, these are road signs that I need to take care of my internal self.

Reality is: We are preparing to move again. We started looking at apartments during the winter, postponed it due to major holidays impacting our finances, and when we re-commenced looking, had completely different goals. We do not have an apartment lined up yet, but the whole house has to be packed, so that occupies much of my mind.

Reality often gets in the way of being calm, centered, and wise in all moments of life, don't you think? How are you staying grounded in the real world during this challenge?

(If you're visiting from A to Z, please include the name of your blog as it is on the Master List so I can return the favor!)

19 April, 2018

Qin Dynasty

Bear with me. This one requires a bit of an intro.
Where I live. Why I learn Mandarin.

In learning Mandarin, the first thing they teach is how to read pinyin, which is the way they spell out character pronunciations using Latin letters. But most of them aren't "right" for an English speaker! I'm lucky to have a linguist for a husband, who reminded me early on that a lot of languages utilizing the Latin alphabet pronounce things their own way. In German, J has a Y sound. In Spanish, J is more like H.

In Chinese pinyin, Q is sort of like ch, but with a bit of a TS to it.

The Qin Dynasty was the first unified dynasty, and maybe that's why we call this country China now? I'm not trying to do research on this right now, although I would be very interested to study Chinese history.

I'm not really writing about the Qin Dynasty, but the use of "Q" in pinyin is part of my everyday life. I've had to open my mind to the fact that pronunciation of ANY symbol - Latin or otherwise - is arbitrary. Since this culture calls Q "ch", that is the correct pronunciation ... here. 
I go to Visual Mandarin (dot-com) to look up stroke order when practicing my characters.

There are a LOT of Q words. Except they aren't Q words. They are distinct characters that may have a meaning alone, but also have several meanings when coupled with other characters. It's a paradigm shift. 

Which brings me around to a sort of vague connection to Life Wisdom: If something as simple as letters can be so very different from a different perspective in a different culture, what else do we look at as black and white that may be completely different from a different view? Have you ever had a basic premise contradicted in your life?

(If you're visiting from A to Z, please include the name of your blog as it is on the Master List so I can return the favor!)

18 April, 2018

The Puzzle of LIfe

Life is like a puzzle. You just have to take the time to figure out where all the pieces fit.

Think about that a minute. Most of us start with the outer edges, the things that will help build a framework, the necessities. Some people start solving their puzzle in the middle: whatever pieces clearly go together.

I love this analogy, especially as it fits with moving. For me, it means sorting out the pieces of how a new country or culture will work for my life, but even when I just moved to a new state, town, or job, same thing. I had to make the puzzle pieces fit.

At first with any change, everything is chaotic. The pieces are all in a pile on the table in front of you. You smooth them out so you can see them, then start matching up the corners, the edges. First things first. Sometimes bits in the middle might clarify themselves before all the foundations are done.

Maybe, the piece you keep looking for was still flipped over so you couldn't even see it. 
Maybe you were looking straight at it, but not from the right angle to recognize it.
Maybe it was misconnected to a different puzzle piece.
Maybe you - or someone close to you - saw that it was the piece you needed, but you had to finish a different section before you could take the time to focus on it.

This analogy just goes on and on.

I must confess, I didn't think of this analogy. A friend of mine, who is a corporate trainer of some sort (I can't get a clear line on her job) came up with it for a webinar she did recently. But as I begin struggling with some big new changes in my life, the concept really is helpful to me. 

What about you? Does this help you? What other aspects of the analogy do you see? How far can we take it?

(If you're visiting from A to Z, please include the name of your blog as it is on the Master List so I can return the favor!)

17 April, 2018

What's your Opus?

(First, I realized that not only did I not link up N yesterday, I also had scheduled it for the wrong date. Grr... in case you are interested, here is a link to Never Settle.")

What's your Opus?
Historically, a Magnum Opus was an artist's greatest work, or at least, most well-known.
mag·num o·pus
ˌmaɡnəm ˈōpəs/
noun: magnum opus; plural noun: magnum opuses; plural noun: magna opera
  1. a large and important work of art, music, or literature, especially one regarded as the most important work of an artist or writer.

  1. Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, for example. He was a prolific artist, but that is the only one of his that I can name off the top of my head. 
  2. Beethoven's 5th Symphony. Everyone knows "Da-da-da-DUM" even if you've never heard the whole symphony. 
  3. Romeo and Juliet. Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets. Many of us know several of these, but Romeo and Juliet - whether you had to read it Freshman year or not - is so well-known that it is commonly referenced in all kinds of pop culture.

What will be your Magnum Opus?
Most of us will not Opus on the Magnitude of Beethoven and Da Vinci, but what do you hope to be known for? Can you guess? Do you have a clear goal?

Let's change the question: What's your Opus?
What do you do in the world?

I recently realized that my greatest spiritual gift is that of encouraging. I have been busily lifting the spirits of two different friends as they looked for jobs. I'm not about solving their problems - how can I? - but I can offer a kind word, and a reminder that they are cared for. I know it's not a Magnum Opus - it's neither "A" work, nor well-known - but it is, perhaps, an opus!

In a book I read decades ago about life overseas, the author mentioned that she was so busy searching for her purpose while her husband did his work, that it took her a long time to realize that simply offering water and a smile to villagers might be the greatest thing she did there.

People do great things on a small scale every day. What comes to your mind?

(If you're visiting from A to Z, please include the name of your blog as it is on the Master List so I can return the favor!)

16 April, 2018

Never Settle!

Are you playing the dating game? 
Do your friends tell you that you're too picky?
Maybe this "okay" guy/girl is "good enough"?

I was single for a very long time. I know something about this. Do NOT settle for less than you are worth. 

Ladies first: If you date a guy who bosses you around or tries to control what you are doing - watch out for that. Avoid it. Break it off with him at the first sign. It will not change.

Guys: Please do us all the favor of finding the right person, instead of taking the relationship to the next level "because it's that time." Breaks up are hard, but better than a lifetime of complaining! 

Guys and Girls: Does your date talk down to you? Do you always feel judged? Get out now. The pompous jerk/witch isn't worth your time and energy. YOU matter. You are valid. You deserve respect.

If you prefer playing the field and are not at a point of looking for any serious, long-term commitment, this may sound like it doesn't apply, but I still caution you to beware. If not, next thing you know, you have accidentally slid into a steady relationship with someone you don't really want to be with! So watch out.

If you are getting serious with someone, then any time you find yourself annoyed with him or her, consider if you can live with whatever it was that triggered the annoyance - FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE! For me, chewing with his mouth open is a deal breaker. I could never cope with that habit forever. It sounds petty, but when you see someone all the time, a repeated minor annoyance can become major. And don't plan on bad habits changing. I mean, they might, but don't bank your happiness on the hope that they will!

I've known many - MANY - women who tend to be attracted to men who "need fixing". I've seen it so very, very, very, very often. "He'd be perfect if he wouldn't..." "If only he would ... this would be a great relationship." Stop it! You cannot change anyone except yourself, and the sooner you recognize this, the happier you will be.

(If you're visiting from A to Z, please include the name of your blog as it is on the Master List so I can return the favor!)