In loving memory of my grandmother

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My grandmother just passed away at age 88 this past Monday, May 13th at 4:45am in the morning. She is survived by her daughter, son-in-law, three granddaughters and five grandchildren.

It has been a while since I last posted, so long that I actually forgot my login password for a bit. On top of regular life (work, kids, chores), I have extremely busy with the 42-day challenge that I joined at Anytime Fitness (3 times a week workouts), working on my novel, and most recently, going to see my grandmother in Montreal.

If you believe in fate

As fate would have it, I had planned a trip to see my grandma on May 18th. I ended up cancelling my trip because my kids were very busy that weekend. Then I got a text message from my sister, letting me know that she got a call from my grandma’s nursing home. Apparently my grandma had a fever for a couple of weeks but was stable. The issue was the she stopped eating and she was unresponsive. I re-booked my trip, and took off by bus the next day.

Childhood

My grandmother raised us when we were children, while our parents went to work. Yet, I cannot say that we were very close (probably due to language problems (we spoke mainly English while she spoke Cantonese) and the conflict between our mother and grandma). She lived in a nursing home in Montreal for at least five years, so us grandchildren tried out best to visit her as often as we could.

Her last two days

It’s really hard to write this post without tears. I have been crying at random times this whole week since her passing. When I remember how truly lucky I am that I spent the last one and a half days of her life with her. On top of that the last day was Mother’s Day.

The first day, she was totally unresponsive. She could barely open her eyes. She could no longer speak and I had trouble to make her laugh using my ‘techniques’ that would have worked the last time I saw her.

On Mother’s Day, she opened her eyes and stayed awake and was super-aware the whole day. She even ate the full bowl of soup and peach fruit puree! She was able to follow a stuffed animal with her eyes, and she watched me the whole day.

After the nurses helped to change her clothes, I saw she wore a nice pink flowery shirt. I told her that she looked so beautiful and she smiled the biggest smile that you could ever imagine.

I told her that we all cared about her a lot, that she didn’t need to worry about us, and that she could ‘sleep’ if she was tired.

My novel

My grandma was the first person (other than myself) to hear my manuscript. I am about half-way through the manuscript. I told her I loved to write and hoped to finish my book this year. Even though she doesn’t really understand English, she listened and watched me the whole time. She showed no sign of tiredness at all. My novel is essentially a fictional story but based on her life. I believe in my heart that this was her bedtime story, because the next morning she left the earth.

My final thoughts

My grandma passed peacefully in her sleep. With her passing, I experienced a flood of emotions: sadness, happiness, regret and guilt to name a few. Sad that I will never see her physical person again in my life; happy that she was not in pain when she passed; regretful that I didn’t get to see her more often; and guilty that I didn’t really get a chance to know her.

In this thing called life…

  1. Grab life by the horns. Don’t let the moments pass by.
  2. If you want something – GO FOR IT!
  3. Treat every day like your last – live with no regrets.
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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Life, Uncategorized
image of two hearts
Love is in the air?

For those of you celebrating Valentine’s Day today…

Whether you are celebrating the day with a new or old partner – remember that sometimes, it is just the little things (like a nice gesture: scraping off the snow on your car windshield) that make you feel special and cared for. Sure, flowers may be REALLY nice…hint, hint!

Anyway, still busy putting the final touches on my book…

Wishing you renewed love and friendship!

Life’s too short

Life, Uncategorized

From egg to flying bird in just a few weeks

As I get older, I really appreciate that our time on earth is limited. This time is further limited because of disease, environmental toxins, work-related accidents, road accidents, etc.

The lifespan of birds is generally shorter, but nature has a way to speed up development for survival. For example, the beautiful blue robin egg and baby birds (pictured above). The eggs hatched and within a few weeks, the baby birds learned to fly. The robin built this beautiful nest in my blue spruce tree in my backyard last summer. Just a peer between the branches and we could capture one of mother nature’s most beautiful creations.

I reflect on life every day and have compiled a list of top 6 actionable things (some of them may seem similar, but it is the philosophy/attitude behind each one that makes them different)

Top 6

  1. Live every day like it’s your last.
  2. Live with no regrets. If there is something you want to do, just do it.
  3. Don’t think. Just DO!
  4. Carpe Diem (my fav latin phrase) – Seize the day!
  5. Don’t make yourself an overwhelming list of to-dos. Just complete one thing at a time so you feel like you have accomplished something.
  6. Do something that inspires you.

In this thing called life, time does not go backward, so make every second count.

In search of plant-based restaurants: Wutai Vegetarian Restaurant review (Dim sum review)

Uncategorized, Vegetarian/Vegan Resto Reviews

Wutai Vegetarian Restaurant located at 8425 Woodbine Avenue, Markham, Ontario. As I mentioned before, it is not a vegan restaurant but does have a wide selection of vegetarian dishes without any meat or meat by-products. It is a good idea to quickly double-check the ingredients with the waiter/waitress before ordering.

Overall rating:

Food: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Price: $$$-$$$$ out of $$$$$ (depends what you order)

Ambience/decor: 3 out of 5 stars

My fav dish: Everything that we ordered. But I especially enjoyed the Fried Tofu Skin Roll with Homemade Sauce (although I didn’t eat the sauce, because not sure what it was made of); and the Singapore Style Sauteed Turnip Cakes.

I mentioned in a previous blog that I would try out the dim sum (served 10:30am-3:30pm). What a treasure! We enjoyed a wonderful dim sum lunch with my dad yesterday.

How does dim sum pricing work?

If you haven’t had dim sum before, you normally pay by the size of the dish. So for example at Wutai, an “S” would be a small dish ($3.19), an “M” a medium dish ($4.19), an “L” a large ($5.19) and “EX” and extra-large ($6.19), plus they have additional chef’s specials with the price indicated next to the dish.

Discount

However, Monday to Friday (if you pay by cash) (excluding Chinese and Canadian holidays) if you order before 12pm, you can have a S, M, L for the price of a small ($3.19).

Chinese food

The restaurant has a great variety of dim sum menu items. Very beautiful dish presentation as well (for example the cute pear dish pictured above). Everything you could eat at a ‘regular’ dim sum, you can enjoy without the meat here.

Other products

Dinner is a la carte regular dishes only.

Loyalty rewards

None here.

No surprise that I over-ate. The food was so wonderful. My dad said their fried vegetarian noodle (called Lo Han Vegetarian Fried Noodles on the menu) was the best fried noodle dish that he EVER had! That is quite hard to believe, as he has eaten noodles for probably 50-60 years!

BTW – I didn’t eat the fried noodle because it was probably an egg noodle.

Defininitely worth checking out!


Garden worm (poem)

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What has thou in thy tiny hand?

Black earth uncovered.
A worm wiggles.
A cautious giggle.
A curious stare.
A touch if you dare.


A tip of your hand.
A return to the land.

-Monica

I was suddenly thinking of my son’s first discovery of a worm. He was not so interested in touching the worm, but I held the worm in my hand (of course, I am wearing garden gloves!) to show him. He was very curious about the worm and wanted to observe as he carried the worm around the backyard in a shovel.

As I wrote the poem, I could picture us in the backyard on a warm summer evening – myself digging in the garden with my son next to me. It is so calming and enjoyable being outdoors.

Through this poem, I wanted to capture the innocence of children when they discover everything new about the world.

In this thing called life, you just gotta take the time to enjoy the little things.

Darkness (a poem)

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Darkness

Darkness is closing in around me.
I am scared.
Angry.
Born with the gift of vision.
Reluctantly have to give it away.
Vessels burst. Degeneration fast.

I saw you not long ago.
An image of you I must now recall.

Please hold my hand as my vision fades away to 
black...
-Monica

I wrote the poem above hoping to bring awareness to diabetes and eye health. It is so important not to ignore. Seek advice and/or treatment as soon as possible before it’s too late. Type-2 diabetes IS preventable.

Type-2 diabetes

Type-2 diabetes is one of the modern-day major diseases known to mankind. You are not born with this type of diabetes (versus Type-1), but rather develop it from poor health and diet. I have first-hand experience with the disease because of my mother. She had diabetes for at least a couple of decades but it was left untreated until about 5 years ago. After she retired at a young age of 52, she sat on the couch and watched TV and ate unhealthy restaurant food. She is now on pills for the rest of her life because she does not want to change her eating (high carb diet) and physical lifestyle (ugh, sitting on the couch).

When she moved to Toronto, I ‘forced’ my mom to undergo a series of medical testing (including a head scan, despite her telling me she doesn’t need it). Even after her mini-stroke, she did not get any treatment so our family didn’t really know what had happened to her when chatterbox mom suddenly stopped talking completely one day.

Well, at her visit to the optometrist, she was told that diabetes had gotten “into her eyes”. This means that many blood vessels had burst in her eye, causing loss of vision (at that time, going blind in her left eye). The whole time, my mom thought it was just a bad eyeglass prescription needing a change. OMG!

She was referred to a retina specialist and was told she had major damage causing blindness and if left untreated would ultimately lead to blindness in both eyes. Her eye blood vessels were highly inflamed, so the course of treatment was some sort of anti-inflammatory needle in the eyeball. My dad broke into tears and sobbed deep from his gut watching a needle being inserted into her eye. It had gotten so bad. Without this treatment, I believe things would be way worse today. For now, she can still see the TV. But who knows for how long without any treatment?

Needless to say, after one round of treatment (she is supposed to do follow-up every year), she has not seen the optometrist in years. She refuses this along with just following up with blood work at her doctor’s office. She even wrote a note to the doctor! Telling him that she is not agreeable to do blood work more than once a year.

My mother is not alone

I also know others with this condition as well and it is frightening – diabetes is not just in our heads. It is in our blood and out to get us – our eyes, our feet, etc.

What is diabetes?

Diabetes is basically when your “pancreas cannot produce enough insulin or your body does not properly use the insulin it makes” (www.diabetes.ca). So basically, your body cannot properly breakdown sugar in your blood, so your blood sugar levels become very high. Diabetes first attacks the smallest vessels in your body first – so your eyes. I also read about blood circulation issues in the feet. My mom’s feet are icy cold, so I am very scared for her. Those are the most common areas that are affected. You have probably heard of people needing amputation of their feet because the blood circulation becomes so limited and the body part is not receiving sufficient oxygen.

Prevention

Prevention is so important. Go see your doctor and optometrist. Don’t ignore. I never really thought about it before, but there are advantages of wearing prescription glasses – you are more likely to visit the optometrist frequently.

I share the story of my mother because it is real. The damage caused by diabetes is REAL. A good friend of mine did not know she was diabetic until it was too late – she now needs frequent follow-up with her specialist for her eyes.

Resources

The answer to our problems is not always medication. You have probably heard stories of ‘recovery’ from conditions (such as diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.) after people began to watch what they ate.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend THE MAGIC PILL film (on Netflix and probably other media) and Diabetes Canada website:

www.diabetes.ca


In this thing called life, we need to look after ourselves first.

On getting my act together

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caterpillar
Time is ticking…gotta makes some moves – Monica

While I usually like to complete tasks basically right away, I also have what I call my “two-week turnaround” time. There are those things that you just don’t feel like doing, like re-caulking the bathroom shower tiles or cleaning out the garage. Or making that phone call to have the furnace fixed or schedule dentist appointments, etc.

Struggle to get moving

Currently, I am struggling with focusing on writing, illustrating and finishing up my third book. Arrggh! There is no absolute deadline, but aiming for sometime this year. There is so little time. So, I am definitely not on a roll. However, it’s super easy once I am on a roll. The ideas for illustration come at super-speed. But sadly, the only time I have to work on my book is before and after office hours at my regular day job. I drop off my kids at school then rush to the office and load up my Adobe Illustrator. So basically, I can work from 9:15am to 10am, then again from 5pm to 5:30pm. Then gotta rush off to make dinner at home.

When I was down to the wire for time for Winter Moose visits Montreal (www.CanadianAdventureBooksbyMonica.com), I had to go into the office at 4am on Saturday and Sunday mornings (before my kids got up) to finalize. No choice when you have the printer pushing for submission.

So you wonder how I have time to blog. Well, again, passion is a driver. It does not take me very long and I love getting things off my chest (like self-therapy) and inspiring/helping people.

Adobe Illustrator

I have mentioned before, but I absolutely love Adobe Illustrator. www.adobe.com. It is so flexible and non-abstract. I am working on a tutorial for beginners to learn some basic techniques in Illustrator. So look out for this incoming posts. I plan to give a demo as I work on my own illustrations for the book. So you will be able to see how I have created my illustrations (almost live).

In thing this called life, we need to figure out how to best manage your time to make every minute count. Food for thought: Time is one thing that we cannot get back. Make the most out of every minute. Cheers!

It’s time to let go (poem)

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illustration of galaxy dancer
Dance with the stars
It's time to let go,
Of the fear that paralyzes you.

Stretch high above the trees.
Above the sky.
Even the universe.
Let your hands swish through the stars,
as you twirl around in dance.

Keep only your feet on the ground.
And know that you have accomplished.   

- Monica

I write this poem because I believe fear of the unknown is often what keeps people from accomplishing what they dream of achieving. In this thing called life, it’s time to let go. Be brave and just give it a try. Again, 2019 is what I coin to be the YEAR OF NO EXCUSES.

A whisper (poem)

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This poem is dedicated to Narendra Nayak, a fellow blogger (asliveroflife.wordpress.com), whose insight into our lives as humans and our existence are much in line with mine. I have been rather uninspired lately to write poetry, but after enjoying his photography and writing, I wrote up the poem below last night before sleeping.

word whispers

A whisper

whisper in my ear
what you want me to tell you
for I don't know what you want to hear.

time is like the steam rushing to escape the kettle
only to be left with none.

will you love me forever?
touch my hand so I know everything will be ok?

just one glance and I fall all over again
before I say goodbye.

In this thing called life, we need to take some time to ponder. It allows us to gain insight into ourselves and those around us.