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2 powerful herbs for vitality



In most Asian households, meals are often prepared with herbal ingredients that have long been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Mine was no different – while as a kid I used to hate the weird dates, the black chicken essence and all those bitter roots in soups she prepares, I eventually learned to love them since I started cooking. This soup was one example, but there are many more herbs in the Materia Medica that I now ingest regularly. The following are just the 2 I try to take everyday.

Continue reading 2 powerful herbs for vitality

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Me + 10…

From Josey O’Neal.

I am 32 years old.

I am married. I have all the children I want to have for the rest of my life.

My children are cute, smart, nimble, and independent. I play the piano to them, the guitar to them, sing for them, dance for them, draw for them, read and write for them, pour tea for them, cook for them, bake for them, and let them see all the possible things they can do in the world. The way I raise my kids is to let them know I am there whenever they need me, but they are encouraged to do whatever they want to do with their lives. I will never force them to do anything they do not wish to do, or fulfill some unfinished business in my own life, or become someone else they’re not.

I have a loving husband. I trust him. He is my partner for life – the one person I primp up for, dress up for, be good, look good and do good for, and smile to every morning and night.

We (our family) own a big dog. I wrestle with it whenever I’m down. We play with it, and jog or run together on Sunday mornings.

We might have a pygmy pig too, whose name is Bobo. The pig likes to sleep and loves to be loved.

I have a steady job: I own a sole proprietorship company. I run my schedule everyday based on demands. It’s a satisfying, rewarding, and fulfilling full-time job where I can juggle my time to take care of the kids, make love to my husband, have my own space and time alone, and maintain good health.

I make sure my husband and my children enjoy good nutrition and good sleep every single day. Healthy brains mean wealthy lives.

At 32, I’m working on writing my own book.

By 32, my writing has appeared on at least 7 different publications.

By 32, my art has been sold to 9 people.

By 32, my craft is to integrate art with text to best illustrate the stories of others, to others, and for others. Stories bring people together. My family sticks together as one no matter what happens, not only because my job is to show and tell stories, but also because we know we are a family and that we will always have each other.

By 32, I have ran both the half-marathon and marathon. They are two biggest achievements of my personal life.

By 32, I would have made an impact on at least 100 people’s lives, one way or another

By 32, I am no longer a girl nor a lady. I am a thirty, happy, and thriving woman.

Now I’ll handover the million-dollar question to you: Think of your life ten years from today. What’s different?



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February 2012

I was cleaning up my Facebook Notes, which I rarely do but occasionally I do. It’s too bad Facebook isn’t promoting the Notes app as much as they used to anymore. You might’ve noticed some of the notes I already reposted here on this blog. This is one of the entries I found worth reposting here, and here’s the original link. This note was posted on my Facebook on 3 August 2009. For better reading purposes, I edited a little bit here.


Here’s another new note that I came to notice I update monthly.

I came across the word ‘perfectionist’ again today after a looong time and discussed it with a few close peeps around me. It’s just hard; it makes you picky, it makes you indecisive, it makes your ego go sky high… Oh well, I’ll remember a quote in my online world literature class that really applies to how human beings work: “It’s never done; it’s only due.” We’re constantly changing ourselves, aren’t we? We are human, we make mistakes, and those mistakes are so generously forgiven by Jesus, and then we make those mistakes again, don’t you think we’re a bunch of idiots? At least that’s what a perfectionist would think…

During my summer stay here this year (in Jakarta), I’ve learned more than I have ever did than the previous years. After all, it’s a matter of fixing your attitude, isn’t it? You can learn a lot if you want, and be ignorant and refuse to learn new things. Because you always have a choice. And when you don’t, there’s always one thing that you can change, which is your attitude.

I realized that next year my age will start with the digit ‘2’, which means I’ve went through more than a quarter (or hopefully just a quarter) of my life, and big decisions are coming my way to move on to the next chapter of my life. I went to a 3 full-day seminar by Mr. Tung Desem Waringin, a man who’s very happy, energetic, lively, successful, and loves God as he loves his family and his colleagues. I reckoned his spirits with mine during those 3 days, and I’ve made life-long decisions on my life following those seminars about my life, financially… Promises that I know I have to fulfill, because if not, I’m going to disappoint the people I love in the future. After all, who doesn’t want to be rich? Because, as Mr. Tung have mentioned, “Money = idea.” Money is not the root of all evil, neither can it buy you everything you want, it’s neutral. Just like water. But we’ll get on to that later.

Earning money is not as hard as people always think. It’s all about creativity, it’s just that, among all the seven deadly sins, greed is what people have and they think of earning money quick and big, when actually it’s all about tweaking little everyday habits and saving a couple of pennies, and sometimes, being creative can get you lucky. And what about water? Health professionals have bombarded the importance about drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day, but researchers have found that it’s not actually a requirement, because there is no more benefit than filling you up and knowing you’re not hungry but just thirsty, and because there is no less benefit than keeping you hydrated, with 0 calories. It doesn’t help you remove toxins, improve skin tone, lose your persistent weight, nor ward off your headaches. Drinking less than that? No problem. You’ve got your fruits and veggies, don’t you? Because water is neutral. But after a day of perspiring in the sun and sprinting my ass ’til I sweat like a man, water tastes like heaven to me. (Oh and btw, I can now sprint 13.2km/h for 4 minutes! Thanks to chugging water) Just like money. After finishing a great project that I’ve loved doing and get a reasonable pay, that reward seems like the little moment in life where I can thank God that I’m alive. It’s neutral, you know? From there I keep the pennies, and I’ve been saving up till an amount where I deposited and changed the number of digits of the amount I have in the bank. Just because of this small habit. And chugging down water like a gentong? It made me feel so energetic that I just have to move all day and do things I love, without the emotional eating.

Last month, I also did my mid-term paper entitled “The Blue In Black And White“, in which I decided to write anyway because I want to and not because I remind myself that I’m doing a paper. For the love of God I got an A, and my instructor is one that rarely gives anything above an A- as she mentioned it herself. It’s an imitation paper, where I have to imitate anything I want; either the style, the subject matter, or the tone, ANYTHING, of any author I want to imitate. I chose Franz Kafka. Yeah. The most complex guy of the modern day, besides Haruki Murakami, of both I can relate to so much of being a misfit in practically everything. Kafka, being a German-speaking Jewish, social atheist, and family disoriented, is a man who has onlooking eyes to the days of World War I, and the complexities of any modern men today. I felt the same way, almost all the time. There isn’t any real fit in this world except with God and the people I love, and my jeans and my T-shirts, but other than that? There’s a whole conventional current that people rode off on the mainstream, water rushing like a blue streak, claiming that they’re happy in this over-scrutinized, over-publicized, and constantly trying to please everyone except themselves in this life, but if they’re so happy, why do they have the blues all the time? Oh well, I’ll upload my paper after the jump.

For God’s sake I have many, many independent dreams that I want to make in this life alone, and that happiness I would share with the people I truly love, because sometimes I get too tired of the surroundings that I have to be in and pretensions I have to put up. In any way, connecting with all different kinds of people in this world is a great thing, you know? It teaches you how to be a man (as in human…), constantly changing yourself and tweaking little things about yourself to make things work, to make YOU work to be worthy of the love from your Father. And there’s actually nothing wrong about being picky, as long as you don’t lie to yourself about having something with a heart of 50% and enduring the feeling for the rest of your life, knowing that there’s something else out there, and instead fly solo and be everything you want to be and live the life you already have to the fullest! Because being picky always bring the best (and worst) out of ya…





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Things I learn at 21


February 2012



Today is an ordinary day, TGIF. Today is also my birthday. Technically, my birthday is almost over. It’s 11 at night right now in Jakarta.

I’m turning 22. Big deal. 21 was a big deal, they kept telling me. At 21, you get the license to drink. At 21, you are welcomed in the club. At 21, you’re “officially” an adult. It’ll be a turning point. It’s going to be phenomenal. Do I agree with these statements? No.

I got my driver’s license last year. That’s pretty much what I fulfilled about society’s expectations on this turning point of an ordinary citizen’s life. Because I disobeyed society – I first experienced a hangover about 4 years ago in a house party over at my friend’s. I first got in to the club with my friend’s ID, and the following times I kept using other people’s ID and use tons of makeup to get in. I first drank alcohol when I ate chocolates shaped in tiny bottles with wine and champagne in it when I was 8, and we all ate them as a family. My parents bought the collection as a gift for no reason. They like buying gifts for us children, with or without reason.

Same thing with family days on Sundays. My brothers and my parents would say, it’s up to me where I want to eat, and we’ll go there to eat. We’ll stay over the weekend at whichever hotel I want to stay at. Yes, I’m a really lucky girl, one of those princesses in the family who gets everything she wants.

I am sitting here in my lifeless apartment room in San Francisco, thinking about the princess castles and polly pockets back at my room at home, way across the Pacific Ocean. There’s also a huge Barbie summer house and tons of pretty jigsaw puzzles too. They’re all gifts for me scoring perfect grades in elementary school. Ever since I can remember, every year, what I wanted for my birthday has been one of these toys. Then it becomes electronics or books. Then maybe a dress or an accessory. When I turned 16 and from then on, I didn’t know what to ask for anymore. I think I had enough and I want to become successful. I want to impress others. I want to impress my family. Buying and getting stuff doesn’t impress people.

I never receive  presents since I was 16 anymore. The most I did was save up some money from my dad and purchase a luxury bag as a present for myself. Before I knew it, I adopted this habit of wanting something and never asking for it in the first place. How would you know? Because it’s always been like that for me: Ask, and it shall be given to you.

For almost 2 years, I never visited Jakarta anymore. I thought I can intern or work here for the time being so that I’ll get some experience before I graduate and find a job. So I did. Then I couldn’t keep up with school because the moment I searched outside-school activities and explore the real world, I realized that drawing is not for me. It’s somebody else’s dream and that I don’t belong here. My passion is in the romance of words, the wordplays, the literature and the classics. The national paper and also the fiction section over at the bookstore.

Actually, I’ve been denying it. I had a passion for words since I can remember.

At 21, I came to a point in my life where I wanted to give it all up. I thought really hard about dropping out school, thought really hard about accepting myself being single forever, and thought really hard about suicide. Nope, it’s not the alcohol or the parties. I never went to parties anymore since I was 20, and never drank for once since I was 19. If I didn’t ask for what I wanted, I wouldn’t have gotten the driver’s license anyway.

The first half of last year, I had no hopes in my future. I refused to take phone calls from my family because I’m embarrassed. I don’t know what to say. Somewhere along the line I just don’t like to admit that I want some things. I need some things. I don’t like letting people see me at my weakest. I don’t enjoy asking for help. It’s best not to bug anybody, because I dislike being bugged too.

But this is different. This is family. You never realize until you stop and think, for all your life, your parents give you everything they can give. Their time, energy, love and care – everything – just so you become happy, and that makes them very proud parents. I just never ask for it anymore, and kept rejecting these invisible gifts – and I let negative feelings takeover me. So there’s the depression.

This stubborn face is too proud to admit she needs love and care during the first half of last year. Then, at one point, when I was in the shower, breaking myself into tears as those waterfalls run down my saddened face, I thought, heck, I can’t stay like this forever. If I want to commit suicide, I might as well do it like a real woman. If somebody were to write my biography, it would not be “She died of taking pills” or “She died of shooting her head”. It would be “She left the world with a legacy” or “She lighted up the world before she left us”. I received a call from my mother that night. Finally, I picked it up.

“We love you and miss you so much, darling!” She said. She offered me to come back Jakarta during the summer. Of course I said yes, yes, YES, I miss you guys so much. I can’t live without the love and care I can give and receive. Being nurtured, growing fruitfully, and living in a place of love. I can’t stay here in America anymore. That’s when I decided I no longer want to be here. My soul is not here. It doesn’t belong here. You actually have to fight for it if you want to feel belonged in America.

The day I came back to Jakarta, I remember I had a very small baggage with a very saggy face. I’ve habituated myself with this countenance – I see that face everyday in the city. People go to work and their faces expressionless – tired, stressed, solitary, individualistic America. I’ve mirrored it. I’ve left behind the place of love and care and didn’t realized it. I know I want it, but didn’t ask for it. It’s like I know I wanted a boyfriend and eventually husband someday, I worked for it, but I didn’t ask for it. For no practical reason at all, I turn down dates and didn’t give a chance for second dates. I’m not meant to be, I’m not worthy. I was lost.

When I came out of the airport, I saw my brother and my mom, the brightest faces I’ve seen in 2 years. I silently cried throughout our ride home. We all talked. I talked about how I wanted to kill myself and quit school and get a job to earn money so I could support myself. Then maybe give up myself to do volunteer work so that I actually do something meaningful to the society, rather than continuing school in a field that I don’t have passions about. I don’t care about anything anymore.

Then she said to me, each one of us is a little candlelight that makes up one bright world. Once you lose a light, the surrounding lights get dimmer. The point is, you can’t make others happy without making yourself happy. Without making yourself happy you can’t make the people around you happy. The people who are with you are the candles that matter. The people across lands and seas who don’t know a thing about you, you don’t have to worry about them. It’s not for you to feel responsible about. You’re not God, for Christ’s sake.

Yes, I tell myself: You still got a lot to learn ahead – things like how to give love freely, how to be a better friend and a good life partner, and the greatest daughter in the world for your parents. Most importantly, to enjoy life and embrace downturns.

Before I knew it, that summer holiday last year changed my life so much. I met my current boyfriend, who is a lot like the ideal boyfriend in my head, had a great time with my friends over those past 3 and a half months, and nothing else matter as long as my family and friends stick close together throughout the rest of our lives. We’re very bright, and none of us are solitary. We’re collectively bright and color-full of lights. And that’s much more meaningful to me than anything else.

What is pleasure? What is pain?

A luxury bag, or a car. A pair of designer shoes, or a designer dress. Takes a painful amount of money to get that dress, but is it the money or is it just me?

Does it really matter? Does all these stuff really matter? Right now? 5 years from now? 20 years from now? 50 years from now?

Then, if today is the last day of your life, and the only thing that mattered was the quality of your life, as opposed to the number of years you’ve lived, have you truly lived?

Yes, the Jakartans and for most part of Asia value fresh graduates from overseas. They’re viewed as more prestigious and worldly. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to get out of Jakarta once I graduated from high school. Both my elder brothers and cousins studied overseas too. Most of my friends got out of Indonesia to further their studies too. I suck at math, I don’t enjoy science enough, and I don’t see the point in studying English language further at that moment, until now I realized that it’s the only subject I can and I want to learn to excel at. When you intrinsically desire to master something, a skill set or an activity, you don’t really care much about the external drives like how you’re going to be viewed and why are people’s opinions different than yours about it. I had always drawn as a kid because I was practicing my observant eye. Isn’t that why I kept choosing descriptive and argumentative essays during English exams? I was never the narrative type. Illustration is essentially narrating.

I take it that for the mean time, what I’m doing here until graduation is a test of patience. Patience to work for the life that I want, to impress myself – not others. That’s true success. I know I’m going to die through shining a brighter light to an already bright world. The most important thing is to shine the brightest light to the people who matters most to me – surround them – so that their days are as bright as I can be – so much for the saggy face.

I realized I look healthier whenever I’m in Jakarta, even though I eat healthier in the States.

And indeed, my 21th year on earth, for just 3 months of summer, I changed my life from a complete hopeless to a hopeful one, looking forward to getting through another day.

“The best way out is always through,” as famed writer Robert Frost once said. As cliched as it may seems, in the end, it’s the process that matters.
We get wiser by trusting our instincts, be proud of the things you value, and become truly successful in our own standards. Not in the eyes of others.

What you learned in art school: It is a creative process. You learn the art of patience, perseverance, constant practice in developing relentless energy, nurturing the never-give-up spirit, and satisfying the unstoppable thirst for living well. This is my statement of purpose, coming out of my long-overdue educated life that will soon end, preparing a stronger me for a brighter world.

I’m now officially 22. I had a great year being 21. And the great lesson here is this: Life goes on, so get over it, move on, and follow through.





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30-Day Blogging Challenge, Day 21: A photo of something that makes you happy.


February 2012






Would you consider yourself stressed?

No, I’m not stressed. I’m… busy. Plenty of people are busy. I have a high-powered job, my career is important to me, and I enjoy it. OK. So sometimes I do feel a bit tense. But I’m a lawyer in the City, for God’s sake. What do you expect?


The moment I read that little Q&A on the first page, I grab the book immediately and couldn’t stop reading it.

Nothing feels better than a good chick-lit. Cheesy, I admit, but it’s addictive once you’re hooked. Like a good Korean drama.

Well, that’s the voice of the protagonist, Samantha Sweeting, who needs to be on-call every minute of her life. Thank God she loved her job, so she works so hard.

At times when I receive writing assignments from other, paid or unpaid, sometimes I stick myself to the assignment so hard that I couldn’t sleep or think very well in other aspects of my life. I can hide it, but in my mind I keep wondering, what better ways I can change to make the point clearer? Then I’ll log on to my Google Docs account and revise the piece. I’m lucky that I’ve always been working with generous editors, but for copywriting jobs, you’re the editor and the scribe at the same time. More often than not, they only want results but they don’t provide you guidelines to improve your writing better.

Well, what can I say, I’m still 21 and I still have yet more experiences to, well, experience.

Along with the novel I had my cravings satisfied for the week with that daifuku. I really satisfy my cravings every now and then because I can’t leave things alone when it’s not going out of my head.

But these aren’t complete without true satisfaction. These are satisfaction for the moment. These are little pleasures – a good novel and some sweets.

True happiness is beyond satisfaction. It requires no external motivation for you to giddy up. It needs self-control, playing up your skills, and having a greater purpose than yourself.





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30-Day Blogging Challenge, Day 15: Something you don’t leave the house without.


February 2012


Halfway through the challenge, now! When will February finally end??? I know time goes by so fast when you’re really in a hurry, but I have a special countdown board on my wall counting the weeks and days till the end of the term, till the end of summer intersession, and till the end of summer semester. I’m crazy, I know. Everyday, when I go online, I torture myself by looking up future jobs I want to work for in Jakarta, Indonesia. I’m already dreaming of all that. It keeps me going throughout my breaks away from homework.

There are quite a few things I don’t leave the house without. My UV-ray protected mineral foundation by Bare Escentuals, UV-ray protected lip balm in strawberry, obviously my purse and my BB, my tiny notebook and a Signo pen, and definitely, most importantly, last but not least – my one-liter water bottle.

For those who know me in real life, you know that I drink water like an elephant. I even dedicated a special page just to show how much water I drink (I update the page about once a month).

Believe me, without water, nobody can live for up to a day. People can go a day without food, but not water. It’s like the essence of life itself, because your body is composed about 70 to 80% of water.

I know this is kind of pseudoscience, but the much respected water researcher Masaru Emoto, the New York Times Bestseller of the book “The Hidden Messages in Water”, has proven that water crystals actively respond to various types of energy differently. For example, if we tend to think negatively about something, we say bad things like, “You’re ugly,” or something else you don’t mean. When exposed to such negative vibrations, water crystals become disoriented. Otherwise, if you let water sit for a while and you go play a beautiful classical music, the crystals become lovely. Check out this comprehensive interview with Dr. Emoto:



So, the message here is: If you are largely composed of water, and if you let yourself be exposed in lively and wonderful surroundings, you become a beautiful person.

Then again, most experts still think this is pseudoscience. Check him out anyway.





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A quarter-life review before death



Of course I thought about death. I thought a lot about death. I’ve lived as if I’m dying everyday for a year. I’ve thought about killing myself, how did I not think of death?



– Image courtesy of weheartit

However, turning my life around it and recovering the emotional damage I’ve caused myself, I found that you come back stronger as a person. I once tell myself stupidly that how I should plot my suicide is: “to leave a legacy, then naturally die.” If I don’t have a legacy yet, I’ll keep delaying my death. That’s why I exercise a lot and eat healthy.

Yet Jane E. Brody, a science journalist who share a similar goal with me (but from the opposite, undoubtedly more optimistic perspective) has the following goal: “to die without regrets.”

She’s recently published an article on New York Times about  important life lessons she learned from the elderly, who’ve dedicated their wise opinions to the Cornell Legacy Project. I feel like I was reading Tuesdays with Morrie all over again, just that at a still-innocent age of 21 (soon-to-be 22), I can still change a lot of things about living a successful and satisfying life that’s personally meaningful.

You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.

I can still remember the time when I was about to have my IGCSE in secondary school. I was thinking about leaving Jakarta for furthering my education, only that I was so determined to major in drawing, art, and the like. My family encouraged me to take that major because ever since I was little I have been drawing a lot of stuff anywhere you can possibly imagine. Ever since I return to Jakarta to finish my secondary school, unfortunately, my school did not set the subject Art as a requirement for their curriculum. I did not draw for some time – I just doodle out my teachers’ faces and some of my friends, but that’s it.

The amazing thing was I started to focus my creative powers into another subject area that equally gives me the freedom to express my thoughts – English. I write a lot. I was a perfectionist about it. I don’t think it’s very difficult – and that I enjoyed writing a lot.

But I took a different path for my college major – I chose Art. None of my teachers knew I had the ability to draw, although most of them knew I have an observant eye because I always choose the descriptive essay as my mightiest sword. Brody wrote on her article: “… many talented young people have denied their true passions, choosing instead to pursue careers that promise fast and big monetary gains.” It struck me. I’ve been so lost for the past couple of years about my school and future career and all that. I knew I’ve made the wrong decision by not listening to my own heart but to my own brain. During my freshman year, I thought working hard was the priority. But now I know that your passion is your biggest priority.

Drawing has always been difficult for me. It requires a lot of research about the human body and the natural proportions of some human poses (and other animals). I think it’s tedious, it takes a lot of physical energy to absorb these things, but I’ve always known that I can do it. I can do it. I’m the youngest in the family and the only girl in the house – my parents don’t exactly trust me for most things out there, especially about taking good care of myself. I spent most of my childhood doing everything that can prove I can do it. I can do it.

But after a while, it gets tiring. I learned that it’s better to put down that pride and let these people who love you take good care of you. There are not many people in this world who genuinely cares about you, not even your friends who you thought would always look out for you no matter what.

I never wholly gave up writing. All schools have fundamental writing classes everyone’s required to take, and I always do my best in these writing classes. I never really knew why.

As I grow up, I try to find all the reasons why I can’t write. Because I’m in an Art Major. Conde Nast won’t want me. I have no professional experience going out and trying it in the media biz. All sorts excuses I tell myself everyday, up till now. I have a newfound habit of sweating the small stuff, until I reconnected with one of my best friends. “It’s not like you to give up,” he said. And finally, I’ve accepted the fact that even though I’m a feminist, a girl has her own physical and emotional limitations. Too much of a burden and you can self-destruct. While thinking about that I immediately back out of my grand plan after college, making my own biz and all, and decided to go freelance for the long run.

It takes a whole lot of willpower, and an extra mile that sets me apart from other accomplished Journalism students, but I think I’m ready just as well. College life spent in America only brings me back home to Jakarta. Because I know I won’t be able to do anything without my loved ones around me.

Conservative, you may say, but I was born and raised in cultures valuing collectivism, even though I learned the value of that independent streak the Western culture has taught me.

This is only a finishing chapter of an aspect of my life. It may not be a small stuff, but there are bigger stuff to sweat for, to run for, to die for.

Like love.

For 3 to 4 years running, I’ve never fallen for a decent guy. Or any guy. Throughout my life in San Francisco, I’ve always been single (except for my first semester being in a long-distance relationship). I’ve always put my love life behind and my own future first. Although deep down I know that I’m not that emotionally fit, and that means when I’m having a heartbreak I know I can’t do anything else (thank God drawing does not require much of your left brain so you don’t have to think too much analytically). However, last summer I turned my love life around by, finally, giving boys a chance. I’ve never been the one who responds to all the guys whenever they text or call. When I’m bored I always find stuff to do. But after a long talk with my mother, she demands me to open my heart. How long am I going to keep my heart closed? Even if I know I will die soon?

So, out of nowhere, I have all the great candidates I started to talk with. But there’s one guy out of all who’s really consistent, super persistent, and still keeps in touch with me every single day. And that’s my current boyfriend, who loves and worships God more than me (to that I’m most thankful of ). I’ve always been afraid to seriously date a guy because I don’t want to be the one who nurture him, nags him, tells him to do this and that, but if a guy is obedient with God, then I know I won’t have to worry anything. Of course there are plenty of wonderful guys out there whom I’ve rejected, whom I thought of the relationship will be like if I did respond and accept to them. Then again, there are other things outside my love life that I have passions about. Those who know me well can relate to the word I’m going to say next: Sexcited.

Here’s a handful list of lessons Brody provided from the Cornell Legacy Project:


ON MARRIAGE A satisfying marriage that lasts a lifetime is more likely to result when partners are fundamentally similar and share the same basic values and goals. Although romantic love initially brings most couples together, what keeps them together is an abiding friendship, an ability to communicate, a willingness to give and take, and a commitment to the institution of marriage as well as to each other.

An 89-year-old woman who was glad she stayed in her marriage even though her young husband’s behavior was adversely affected by his military service said, “Too many young people now are giving up too early, too soon.”


ON CAREERS Not one person in a thousand said that happiness accrued from working as hard as you can to make money to buy whatever you want. Rather, the near-universal view was summed up by an 83-year-old former athlete who worked for decades as an athletic coach and recruiter: “The most important thing is to be involved in a profession that you absolutely love, and that you look forward to going to work to every day.”

Although it can take a while to land that ideal job, you should not give up looking for one that makes you happy. Meanwhile, if you’re stuck in a bad job, try to make the most of it until you can move on. and keep in mind that a promotion may be flattering and lucrative but not worth it if it takes you away from what you most enjoy doing.


ON PARENTING The demands of modern life often have a negative effect on family life, especially when economic pursuits limit the time parents spend with their children. Most important, the elders said, is to spend more time with your children, even if you must sacrifice to do so.

Share in their activities, and do things with them that interest them. Time spent together enables parents to detect budding problems and instill important values.

While it’s normal to prefer one child over others, it is critical not to make comparisons and show favoritism. Discipline is important when needed, but physical punishment is rarely effective and can result in children who are aggressive and antisocial.


ON AGING “Embrace it. Don’t fight it. Growing older is both an attitude and a process,” an 80-year-old man said. The experts’ advice to the young: “Don’t waste your time worrying about getting old.”

Most found that old age vastly exceeded their expectations. Even those with serious chronic illnesses enjoyed a sense of calm and contentment. A 92-year-old who can no longer do many of the things she once enjoyed said: “I think I’m happier now than I’ve ever been in my life. Things that were important to me are no longer important, or not as important.”

Another said, “Each decade, each age, has opportunities that weren’t actually there in the previous time.”

Maintain social contacts. Avoid becoming isolated. When an invitation is issued, say yes. Take steps to stay engaged, and take advantage of opportunities to learn new things. Although many were initially reluctant, those who moved to a senior living community found more freedom to enjoy activities and relationships than they had before.

To those who worry about dying, these men and women said the best antidote is to plan for it: Get things organized, let others know your wishes, tidy up to minimize the burden on your heirs.


ON REGRETS “Always be honest” was the elders’ advice to avoid late-in-life remorse. Take advantage of opportunities and embrace new challenges. and travel more when you’re younger rather than wait until the children are grown or you are retired.

As Dr. Pillemer summarized the elders’ view, “Travel is so rewarding that it should take precedence over other things younger people spend money on.” Create a bucket list now and start whittling it down.


ON HAPPINESS Almost to a person, the elders viewed happiness as a choice, not the result of how life treats you.

A 75-year-old man said, “You are not responsible for all the things that happen to you, but you are completely in control of your attitude and your reactions to them.” An 84-year-old said, “Adopt a policy of being joyful.”

The 90-year-old daughter of divorced parents who had lived a hardscrabble life said, “I learned to be grateful for what I have, and no longer bemoan what I don’t have or can’t do.”

Even if their lives were nine decades long, the elders saw life as too short to waste on pessimism, boredom and disillusionment.

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