Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Following your dreams, even if no one else understands

This afternoon, my mom and I went to a newly opened dim sum restaurant in Johnson City. My parents' friend from church is the owner/chef so we decided to show our support with our stomachs. It's a very cute and cozy space on Main Street across from BAE, which of course is the largest source of business in that area. The main dishes offered are different varieties of noodles, fried rice, and dim sum "appetizers" such as fried green scallion pancake or red bean buns.

Apparently, this very kind-hearted woman has been wanting to open a restaurant for a long time. When the opportunity arose, she seized the opportunity with little prior experience, but with a great deal of enthusiasm and determination. Maybe the location isn't the best, but after speaking with her and her husband this afternoon, it seems like the main challenge will be figuring out how to attract BAE employees who only have 30 minutes for lunch with a limited staff (only one person cooking, and one waiter). Granted, there are only four tables which could probably seat at most 20-25 people. But, if all of the orders come within a short period, trying to prepare that much food on a conventional home sized stove is very challenging.

My mom and I enjoyed the noodles and dim sum QinTian pancake (fried dough with pork, tastes better than it sounds). While we ate, we tried to offer suggestions on how to maximize the 30 minutes of peak demand (12:30-1pm); perhaps try different menu options, sandwiches are quick and easy to make, offer a pre-made lunch special, encourage people to call ahead and place their orders. When we finished eating, the owner wasn't going to let us pay since we were friends and that's part of Chinese culture. We tried to pay and sneak out the door, but she caught us on our way out, and made us take half of the money back. Ai yah... still, it was a very nice gesture.

I am a big supporter of local family owned businesses that are quaint and personal. I know it's not going to be easy for this family to establish a strong reputation, build a loyal clientele, and to figure out the "perfect" menu. But, it's nice to see people taking risks to follow a long-cherished dream. I really hope and pray for their success. It's an inspiration for me, since I'm not exactly following a typically prescribed path, and many people might even suggest that I'm making a poorly informed decision, but if it's what you've dreamed and prayed about, why can't people just be happy and supportive? By the way, those noodles were quite tasty so spread the word.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

One of those weeks

It's been one of those weeks, where it seems like things are finally coming together. I finished working on the garden see: Summer Terraced Garden Project. And, I heard back from the admissions office from the program I've been trying to get into for four months!

I recognize that God has blessed me in so many ways, and not just during weeks like these. But sometimes I am so easily discouraged. Whenever that persistent nagging voice in my head makes me feel afraid to hope for the best, I will try to keep these words in my mind:

“Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?'” (Luke 12:22-26, NIV)

Sometimes we need to recognize that we are not in control, and really, worrying never helped anyone.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Inaction Frustrations

I'll make this brief, but I think one of my biggest frustrations in life is inaction. Especially, when something very small can make a huge difference in someone's life. I won't go into details into my specific case, but I think many people have probably experienced similar frustrations.

I'm all for procrastination when it affects only ME. But, if my inaction, i.e. procrastination begins to have an effect on someone else, then it's time to do something!

Okay, enough of complaining for now. Back to working on the garden rain or shine!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Just Common Sense?

A memo to myself and anyone else who ever happens to stumble across this:

I had something akin to, but just short of an ephiphany this week. In the US, and other countries I am sure, we spend so much time obsessing about our appearance and weight. One way in which our obsession is manifested is through gym membership. These memberships can range from an inexpensive local community center fee to the all inclusive, personal trainer, spring water from the fountain fitness center experience. Now, I am all for fitness, health and well-being. However, what if we turned some of our energy toward community service and various forms of social activism? The emphasis is on the active part.

For example, instead of running on a treadmill at the gym, what if we saved some of that money, trained outside, and entered one of those charitable fundraising sporting events that are so popular these days? Eg. Blue Planet Run events, MS Walk, Relay for Life, etc.

Or, I've discovered through my gardening project that lifting rocks all day and digging trenches will indeed develop back, shoulder, and arm muscles (and soreness). How about helping out with a river clean up or community gardening project?

Try volunteering as a coach for the Boys and Girls club and giving everyone on your team a piggy back ride, another great work out. Although, for me that was limited to the 6and under crowd, since I'm only marginally taller than said children.

If you ever find yourself DRIVING to the gym and hopping on a stationary bicycle to pedal away for an hour, please try and do this outside on a moving bicycle if at all possible and skip the drive. If you walk door to door canvassing for a worthy cause, that's a great workout too. Yes, I know sometimes it's cold outside and/or that trainer is really cute and keeps you motivated, but there are so many creative ways to exercise and to help make the world a little better. The possibilities are endless once you start thinking about it.

I hereby pledge to make my "workouts" count for something beyond my own personal gain as often as possible. A vague promise, but it's a start.