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Being Chinese Self-Help

It’s Not Easy Eating Green

Fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables. As a physician, I have recommended “fruits and vegetables” to a gazillion patients. “Mike, your cholesterol is too high. Eat more fruits and vegetables.” “You want to lose weight, Carol? Fruits and vegetables.” “Callie, you’ll lower your blood sugar eating fewer refined carbs and more fruits and vegetables.” In […]

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Self-Help

Gonzo Mindfulness Meditation: What I learned when I explored my brain

In this time of “social distancing,” my friends are knitting, sewing, quilting, gluing and painting every sort of art project. They have assembled umpteen jigsaw puzzles and gotten Zoom drunk with friends.  They’ve elevated binge-watching to an art form. They’re reading books, baking bread, deep-cleaning their homes, and posting on Facebook dozens of times daily. […]

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Classics Self-Help

Flattening the Curve: The Plague and COVID-19

“Should we go see the grandkids in Virginia?” We have the plane tickets. We’ve reserved the hotel and the rental car. And I would love to luxuriate in the embrace and enthusiasm of my young grandsons. But COVID-19 casts a pall. Maybe we should drive. Less proximity to potentially-infected fellow passengers. Except neither of us […]

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Self-Help

I’m Dead. Now What?

My mother left me some exquisite Chinese dresses. They are called qi pao. Below a high collar, the dress sinuously hugs the body. I have one in silk, one in wool with embroidered trim and a lacy one. They fit me, which is amazing, as they were tailored to my mom’s measurements. I wear them […]

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Being Chinese Self-Help

“I Love You, Mom and Dad”

“Ming zaw way,” in the Shanghai dialect means, “See you in the morning.” This was how our family bade each other good night. For my entire life, these were the last words I would say to my parents before we headed to bed. To me, their “ming zaw way” meant “Good night, sleep tight.” They, […]

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Non-Fiction Self-Help

The Body Keeps Score

I flagged so many pages of Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps Score that it became kind of ridiculous. But it is that important. Van der Kolk is a psychiatrist who has spent over thirty years working with trauma survivors. He has worked with patients with PTSD, victims of natural and man-made disasters, and people […]

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Self-Help

Tennis, Everyone!

I am tired. I am tired of losing. I am tired of losing tennis matches. I am tired of losing tennis matches to people who don’t play as well as I. I am tired of losing tennis matches to people who don’t play as well as I despite having taken tennis lessons for years. So, […]

Categories
Picture Books Self-Help

Guardians of Being

I can’t say if April really is the cruelest month. From my position here throughout April and into May, it feels pretty shitty. I am a cheerful person — some friends might say, relentlessly cheerful — yet, I feel edgy, unsettled, depressed. My next book review was going to be the redacted Mueller Report. But, […]

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Self-Help

Help Me, Marie Kondo!

Marie Kondo is an international phenomenon. She is the Dalai Lama of decluttering, the Dr. Ruth of neatness, the Oprah of organizing. In her 2014 book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and on her new Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, this young, petite Japanese woman gives tips on organizing every item in […]

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Being Chinese Self-Help

The Joyce Chen Cook Book or Mom, Tofu and Crappies

To us Chinese, there are only two kinds of food: good Chinese food and bad Chinese food. When I was a kid, wherever our family went — Chicago, New York, DC — we always ate at Chinese restaurants. Only after I grew up and realized that I wanted to try local food – BBQ in […]

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Self-Help

Of Moms and Money

“Don’t we have any money?” This plaintive question came out of the mouth of then three-year old grandson Edin, his face at once forlorn and beseeching. We had reached the wall of the Charlottesville Alakazam toy store where the heavy machinery lived: bulldozers and excavators and dump trucks and backhoes. Edin had his eye on […]

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Self-Help

Deep Breaths, Everyone

Me, a yoga instructor? What could go wrong? Quite a lot, according to William J. Broad in The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards. The chapter called “Risk of Injury” talks about strokes from extreme neck contortion, disk ruptures in the neck and back, ribs popping out, rotator cuff tears, torn Achilles tendons […]

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Self-Help

Shake It Off: How to Escape From Your Pain-Body

“You are going to tell me that you didn’t say anything, but I can tell what you’re thinking,” I say through gritted teeth. “I’m sorry,” is my husband’s reply, but his face shows puzzlement and the resentment of the wrongly accused, not contrition or concern. He does his curious head-turning move, which is a full […]

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Self-Help

Geezer Sex

“Couldn’t those stiletto heels really hurt someone?” “Doesn’t it hurt her neck to lean so far back?” “How is he balancing?” Bill and I are watching a porno movie on our 52” Sony TV in our family room. I ask the questions in rapid succession, as if the subject matter was usual for us. Bill […]