How do I feel? Free, Satisfied and A Little Lonely

24 years old and it’s the first time I spend a national holiday alone. I’m not alone literally as I’m staying with my sister but she went out with her friends and I’m at home all by myself, eating leftover food my sister brought home last night for lunch while jotting down these words. Let’s me get this clear first. My sister is a wonderful and caring person! She let me stay for free in her rented room for the last two months and take care of me. Though it’s widely known that family ties are closer in Eastern countries, we all know that she doesn’t have to that, right. So, please don’t misunderstand my sister and feel sorry for me. I’m not!

I’ve just moved to the city for almost two months and still looking for a job. During the time, I’m blessed enough to be able to stay at my sister’s room and enjoy my life. I’m grateful and thank her for it.

Today is the first day of a 5-day-national holiday and outside it’s raining lightly. I’m sitting on the floor facing a big window typing these lines and wondering what my parents are doing back home. I texted my mom but she hasn’t replied yet.

I had been living with my parents for 23 years straight before moving to this city. I love my parents and we have no significant family issues (of course we do have small arguments, yelling and disagreements on this or that like any other family). My reason for moving out is because I want to live on my own, to practice independence and to have new experiences. I want to step out of the safe nest that my parents had built up and the comfort zone that I’m so used to and see life at different angles. Finally, I believe a distance enables me to see clearly and be thankful for what I have and to figure out how long it takes me to miss home (this idea comes from one of my favorite books). It’s definitely easier said than done and I have been reminded me of these goals daily.

So, how do I feel spending a national holiday on my own for the first time? I feel free, satisfied and a little lonely.

I’m free and satisfied because it’s something I always wanted to experience and I did it. Though I don’t have my close friends by my side or a big meal to come home to, I enjoy the lovely feelings of drinking a cup of hot tea while reading my newly bought book and writing a few paragraphs for my blog. The surrounding is quiet, peacefully quiet. And even I’m not free of worries and problems (no one ever will), I allow myself to enjoy the moment, by myself, on my own. And a bit of loneliness? It’s because I miss my parents. And my mom still doesn’t reply my text yet (==!)

 How do you feel spending a special occasion on your own, my friends? I’m curious to hear your story. 

Overall, I’m a happy and positive self

Overall, I’m a happy and positive self.

No, I don’t feel that way about myself all the time. I have self-doubts. I envy people. I cry over past pains. I fear that the future will go wrong. Indeed, I do these a lot.

My life is not just about joys and happy moments (I wouldn’t define living such a life as “happy” either). I had experienced some hardships in my childhood. They were really painful. Though I had stopped questioning “why did this happen to me” and accepted the fact, their impacts are still visible in my thoughts and emotions. I also encountered personal failures which made me think that I’m useless.


The morning I woke up and heard my auntie telling me in her broken voice that: “Your dad’s gone”, my mind went blank. Everything became blurred in front of my eyes, yet I didn’t cry. I went upstairs to tell my sister and she replied: “You’re kidding me, right?” Lying next to her on the bed was a photo of my dad and I on the beach. I was hugging it to sleep the night before and prayed that my dad, who was in the hospital, would be well soon and come home to us. We had to go to my dad’s hometown on that day, to my grandfather’s funeral actually. I was ten years old and the second semester of the fifth grade was coming. I lost my grandfather and my dad in just three days. My house was in construction and my mom couldn’t stop crying. I don’t know whether you have experienced something similar to this or not. I hope you don’t have to. Seeing your mom couldn’t stop crying was truly an agonizing experience.

The days after were days of sorrow, of grievances, of resentment. My mom woke up in the middle of her sleep, hugged my dad’s coat and cried every night. I was lying next to her, pretended to sleep and tried not to let my mom know that I was crying too. Sometimes, I misthought that my dad went into a long business trip and he’s about to come home, to us; then I painfully realized that he would never come home again. He would never pick us at school again. He would never treat us to the ice-cream shop near his office again. I would never see him in person again.

My family was full of laughs and joys. Now, it’s a house without the roof (Vietnamese idiom).

Three years later, when the “bad luck”** of my family just ended, my uncle (my mom’s younger brother) passed away because of a serious illness. My family was tortured once again. The sorrow of losing my dad was still there and now it was doubled.


When I was eighteen, I failed my university entrance exam. It was completely my mistake as I didn’t focus on studying and revising for the test during my years in high school. After receiving the result, I saw no future for myself. I thought to me that it was the end. My life was screwed and I wouldn’t be able to learn anything, to graduate, to land a job and take care of my life; that I would ended up at the market selling stuff to live. Sitting here typing these words down, I can see how innocent and overreacted I was, but at that time those emotions were really overwhelming to me. I was so disappointed with myself that I hide in my house and refused to meet my best friend thinking we’re not at the same standards (she passed the test) anymore.


So, what did I do to say that I’m a happy and positive person now?

I changed.

At first, I changed my thinking and then, my actions.

Let’s come back to when I was a 10 year-old girl. I don’t remember the exact starting date or duration but I remember what happened. Seeing my mom cried a lot had unconsciously built up a protective mindset inside my brain. Even I was small, I was aware that I need to be strong, to protect my mom and my sister just like my dad would do if he’s still here (I later learned that this is exactly what my sister and my mom thought – we’re really a strong team).  I also promised my dad that I will go to new places that he didn’t have chance to visit and will eat food that he didn’t have chance to try. I will live twice happy and enjoy life twice deeply as my dad always wants this for me. I knew that he wouldn’t want me to lose my smile, to lose my faith, or to stop trying. I knew that he would want to see us living happily and strongly, with or without him. Of course this knowing didn’t come to me so clearly all at once, but it became stronger and clearer gradually as I grew up. And I’m still living with the promise in mind.

My mom also bought some books, which I believed had contributed significantly as guidelines in changing my thoughts and shaping a positive mindset, titled Being Happy”, “Happiness in a Nutshell” and “Follow your heart”. I remember reading the books, laughing at the simple yet amusing illustrations (the laugh that I didn’t have in a long time because I misthought that if I laugh or feeling happy, it would mean that I didn’t love my dad enough. Of course I was wrong) and thinking that maybe it’s not over yet. I can be happy and deserve to be happy again. I want to make my dad proud.

As time went by, things seemed to fall into their places. It didn’t mean that we had overcome the loss or we didn’t feel the absence of my dad in our lives at that point. It means that we continued to live with that sorrow and tried to accept the truth little by little, day by day as we all know that my dad would definitely want that for us. My sister and I went back to school and my mom went back to her job. It took many years later and a great deal of efforts for us to overcome this trauma. No one can come over this kind of pain without conscious efforts, I believe. And thirteen years later, today, I can look up the sky and tell my dad that he can stop worry about us and that we’re living happily and healthily, like we promised him.


Failing the entrance test was an alarming call for me. I learned that last minute efforts are not enough and it’s awful and terrified feeling disappointed about oneself. I can be disappointed by things or people but shouldn’t be disappointed about myself! That’s when I got the second chance. My parents (oh, I forgot to mention that my mom met a man, who loves her and truly cares about us, and got married to him after eight years and now I have a daring step-father :). People say “Happy goes Lucky” 🙂 ) discussed and agreed that they would trust me once more time and paid for my university tuition fee.*** I felt like I was re-born when I got the news. I’m so grateful for the chance and I promised that I wouldn’t disappoint my family and myself this time. I kept my promise and graduated with Distinction in the year 2012.

The point I want to make here is that I had a purpose in mind and I fought to achieve it. It all started with a thought and by repeating it again and again, the thought transformed into actions and actions led to results. Thus, in order to have the expected results, a positive starting thought or purpose is pre-requisite. Personally, if I get my expected results, I’m happy. If I don’t get them, I’m happy because I know it would be better-than-expected ones (Hmhm, I’m just trying to sound cool here). If I don’t get my expected results, I’m happy because at least I had tried.

So overall, I’m a happy and positive self 🙂

**: in Vietnamese culture, a family that has a member passed away is considered having “bad luck” or “grey-shirt fate” (word-by-word translation) for three years after the person’s death. During these years, family members won’t come to other people’s houses in special occasions (says Tet holiday) to avoid spreading the “bad luck”. Weddings of family members are also prohibited from happening. 

***: the one that I took the entrance test was a public local university, therefore a lot cheaper than the one I’m later going which is a private international university.

One Photo A Day For 30 Days Challenge

Recently, I’m easily bored so I set this photo challenge for myself to have some fun during the day

            ♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠ Challenge name: One photo a day ♠♠♠♠♠♠♠♠

            What: take one photo of one thing that you’re grateful for having + 1-line description

            When: April 8, 2014 – May 8, 2014 (30 days)

            Where: doesn’t matter

            Reward upon completion: 30 photos, increase in gratitude sense, ability to see how my life goes


My Power-Up Button

This morning I came across this interesting and creative idea about “A Power-Up Button”.

In short, a “Power-Up Button” is a shape that you draw/tattoo somewhere on your body that you can easily see and you use as a reminder of something you want to attain.

Since I read “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, I’m really impressed by the idea of living fully in the present to become happier, more creative and joyful. To achieve that, I need to focus all of my energy and attention to what is happening rather than letting my mind wandering in the past or in the future. However, like many other people trying to escape from their thoughts to find inner peace, I encountered a number of triggers when I’m practicing this mindset. Too oftenly, I was overwhelmed by my thoughts and found myself going back to unhappy moments in the past or get caught in worries about future uncertainties. I feel angry with myself because of my inability to control my attention every time this happenes.

But thank to the author, I now have a new tool to help me overcome my habitual thinking and work towards the change I want to make. Coincedently, I have a small Om symbol tattooed on the inner part of my left wrist – which from today I will refer to as my Power-Now Button :D. I modifies the name a bit so it directly relates to my goal.

From this moment, every time I find my mind wandering in the past or the future (except for when I intentionally do it in reflection or planning), I will touch my Power-Now Button and direct my attention back to my breathing to be back to the present moment. It will take some time before I can tell you how it works but I’m really excited about this experiment. 


That’s all for now. I wish you all a happy day!

Challenge #159

Like Ellen Degeneres says: “Be kind to one another” as everybody is already fighting a battle, either loudly or silently

A Daily Challenge

I wrote this speech last semester for a public speaking class. I think the challenge is relatively obvious:

Today I want to talk about silent battles. Some are small—when you’ve crawled into bed only to realize you forgot to turn the light off, when your hand won’t fit into the Pringles can, when you’re in the shower and realize that you’ve forgotten a towel.  And some silent battles are big, like depression, loneliness, fear

I want to tell you a story about the struggles of a man that I know well. When this man was young, he had everything going for him. He was extremely intelligent; he was funny; he was attractive and well-liked. He was educated—on his way to a doctorate degree. He married a beautiful woman and had two beautiful children. Put simply, he had a charming life and what looked like a successful future ahead of him…

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Set the Scene with a Three-Picture Story

I love this idea and save it to try it later. Very creative and smart way to learn observation, I think

The Daily Post

I upload sets of photos to my photoblog and use images to liven up posts here all the time, but until this year I never thought much about the overarching stories my choices of images tell. I used images as decoration and illustration, not as real elements of my content.

That is, until I spent a morning last fall exploring a sunrise market in Hanoi with photographer Colm Pierce, learning to improve my photography and how I present it. Introducing: the three-picture story.

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Just create this blog to save and share my thoughts as a 20-something in a hectic world.

My goals in creating this blog are to improve my writing and deepen my thinking.

Some first few words and I’m off for running now 😀

See you soon!