Cherry blossoms and tulips in Brooklyn Botanic Garden

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Forces of Nature.”

Spring is my favorite season. And this calls to mind blooming flowers and life coming back to the city after a harsh and long winter. I always look forward to going to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to go see the cherry blossoms and tulips. They have free admission (or donate-as-you-wish) on Saturdays from 10-12PM. However, if you have an NYC ID (which is free, by the way, and it’s a nice picture ID), you can get free one-year memberships to city museums, BBG included. Even though the city’s museums are mostly non-profit, which means that you can really donate and pay-as-you-wish (instead of paying the stated admission price), having this NYC ID perk is a great addition.

Here are some pictures I’ve taken today!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Companionable

photo (4)Hope.

Hope has always been my companion.

It’s funny how life sometimes throws you in situations that leave you no choice but to grow. You will reach new inflection points that cause you to question your previously-held beliefs. You will, as I’ve mentioned to my office mate, “be so frustrated that all you can do is to smile, think happy thoughts, and do better than your best”.

Note that while others would view this as a sign of resignation and weakness, keep faith that this is a source of strength.

Quite the contrary, you may say. But in that moment of resignation, immerse yourself fully and observe how every bone, how every muscle in your body reacts to the situation. Then take a deep breath – you know in yourself that in that moment, there is really nothing you can do. Acceptance is the first step of growing up. Wallow in your sadness and bitter tears – but keep it short.

Then take action. Find comfort in the thought that the best is yet to come, that this is yet another challenge that you should overcome.

I sincerely believe that in the future, as I look back at this particular inflection point, I’d smile and be thankful that I’ve been through it.

Come on Life, bring it on.

 

Here’s to growing up

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One of the 12,000 tulips on display at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden!

Three things I learned today:

(1) Bates and Anthony won the Amazing Race (I was rooting for the roller derby moms!). Didn’t know that MLK had his “I have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. I should seriously study the map more and show more interest in geography (and maybe brush up on American history?);

(2) “Face time” means “time spent at one’s place of employment especially beyond normal working hours” (Merriam-Webster dictionary). Note to self: there’s life outside the workplace; refrain from staying in the office til 8PM, dude!; and,

(3) I FOUND MY FIRST WHITE HAIR.

When I was younger, I had the impression that not having a single white hair yet was something to be proud of. Seeing my first white hair terrified me and it dawned on me that I’m getting old. Questions such as the following flooded my thoughts while I stroke the strand of hair:

(1) Just a few more months before I leave the 18-24 age range. What have I accomplished so far? The clock is ticking, Annie.

(2) Have you been living under your means? Must. Start. Saving.

(3) What are you really passionate about? (Yes, I haven’t figured that out yet.)

Reading Susan Cain’s Quiet helped me zone in and focus on the more important things. I’ve come up with a few “core personal projects” such as speaking my mind out and contributing more insights at work (my office mates had to give me an intervention about being too passive), leveraging my strengths (i.e., I’m more of a thinker than a talker – how do I take advantage of that?), and doing something that I’m afraid of.

Like what they say, growing old is inevitable but growing up is a choice; that growth comes when you are comfortable with being uncomfortable. It is my hope that in the next few days, I’ll be much more comfortable with the art of making conversations (keep in mind Tina Fey’s advice on improv: agree then add something), write that essay I’ve been meaning to work on, submit that volunteer application for MoMath, start investing thru Citisec, and join Toastmasters (aka “Annie’s ultimate challenge”).

Here’s to being open to challenges that’ll make me question my beliefs and take me out of my passive, comfort zone. Who knows, maybe my first white hair would give me good luck?

After the storm

Hurricane Sandy has taken its toll on New Yorkers and it was just yesterday that MTA restored train service between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Yesterday, I decided to visit the Brooklyn Botanic Garden – I haven’t had the time to go there this fall. Some trees in the garden were uprooted and only limited sections were open for the day. Good thing none of the garden’s prized cherry trees were harmed.

Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden

Perfect setting for a romantic scene in a Koreanovela

Japan? Nah. This is the beautiful Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which offers free admission during Tuesdays. I love, love, love this place! Let me share the photos I took last Spring:

Torii, a traditional Japanese gate which marks a Shinto shrine

Japanese maple tree

Brooklyn Botanic Garden – 1000 Washington Ave  Brooklyn, New York 11225

For more information, visit http://www.bbg.org/.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Growth

Acer Palmatum, Japanese maple tree (“Shishio improved”)

Bonsai trees represent the three virtues of truth, goodness, and beauty according to Japanese tradition.

There is a fine balance that exists between allowing growth and restricting it at the same time. This is an art in itself – a skilled bonsai artist strives to keep this balance in check. While bonsai need to be pruned on a regular basis in order to keep their diminutive size, these trees must also be allowed to grow new roots and branches so they remain healthy and attain perfect silhouette.

I find that this metaphor also applies to real life. While we need unrestricted growth to realize our own potential, certain things do happen that may not fit perfectly to the Great plan that we had in mind. We might not know it at the time (nor have the ability to recognize it), but challenges only make us stronger. Scarred for life, but we become better.

Whatever you’re going through, I believe that there’s a master bonsai artist that continually finds this balance between pruning and growth. Keep smiling – C’est la Vie!