Saturday, December 13, 2014

All things Jamberry

       As of last week Wednesday (December 3) I am now an official Jamberry Nails Independent Consultant.  I find that it will not only potentially help with finances but is a good way for me to be more confident in who I am and take better care of myself.  Only one sale so far (to my mom) but I am enjoying being a part of an exciting group and looking at the potential for success.  Still learning how to apply the nails so they last and looking forward to finally having my backordered mini-heater today.  Abby is also getting into it and hoping we can finally get the stickers to stay on her nails.
       My mom and dad arrive from Hawaii next Saturday for a 19-day visit to the East Coast for the holidays.  We hope to make a trip to New York between Christmas and New Year's.

                                     Holiday Blessings,
                               Jennifer Liang

Inspirational Challenge

Small Acts, Big Differences

            “But, Lord, I will freeze while walking to my apartment.” “But, Lord, I don’t have easy access to my wallet.  Won’t they steal from me if I take it out?” “But, Lord I don’t even have that denomination of cash in my wallet.” 
            In my life I often come up with excuses as to why I don’t want to do what the gently nudge is asking me to do.  However, I have found that I am the one missing out when I don’t obey.  I don’t know how many times I have I have chosen to walk away instead of blessing someone but it seems like more often than I choose the right way.  I tell myself I will do better next time but then the opportunity arises and I still fail. 
            One encouraging example of what walking in obedience can do happened when my mentor listened to the call to support me financially in a venture she knew to be divine.  She anonymously deposited money in my bank account to buy tickets for a student trip to China.  Only later did I confirm that it was her. 
            That trip to China opened up many doors that otherwise would have

            “No way! Are you sure?  Can you please check again?  I have how much in my account?”  I asked the teller incredulously after a routine balance check.
            “It’s true.  The numbers are not lying.  That is your bank balance.  If you want I can put a hold on the funds while we check what is going on.”
            “Yes, please do.  I don’t want to be spending money that is not mine.  Thank you” I replied to the generous offer.
            “I will ask the teller who processed the transaction.  Just hold on a moment.”  With that she disappeared only to reappear a few moments later with the answer to my unusual inquiry. 
            “Yes.  The teller said that a woman stopped by earlier today and was talking about you going to China.”
            “So, that is what I am supposed to use this money for?  Thank you God for your provision.”
            Ten days later I was on my way to China for a student trip.  While there I fell in love with the culture, food, and people and felt my calling.  Returning home I tailored the rest of my university education to learn as much as I could about the fascinating country (including the language) and found a job teaching English right after graduation.  I spent more than five wonderful years there in two different cities and had many wonderful experiences.  I even met and married a Chinese doctor!  So, you can say that China is in my blood or at least it is literally in my children’s blood. 

            Too many times I find excuses for not following the gentle nudge asking me to bless someone and I am the one that misses out.  When I fail, I try to remind myself of my mentor and the small act of obedience she made that made a big difference in my life.  It changed my course! Why do I sometimes choose to walk away?  I can choose either way and the results are always better when I follow. 

Coming of Age Challenge - Memories of the Heart

I love the holidays and always have.  Thanksgiving in my family has, for as long as I can remember, been the most traditional with our crazy family gathered together celebrating in our own special way.  Relatives we rarely see gather at our huge home and divide into groups that are not always clear-cut.  Lots of racket tumbles out from the recreation room where the men have assembled to watch football.  The womenfolk chat together in the kitchen as they assemble the feast we will gorge ourselves on in a few hours.  The children always find a way to entertain themselves with only the occasional mishap or need for discipline. 
            The fall of my 16th year however was not so happy.  Having graduated high school early, during the summer I had convinced my parents and myself that I needed the independence and time to understand myself.  Living with my cousins in London seemed like the perfect solution.  I could be independent but still have the family connection to fall back on when I needed help.  It was perfect that is, until November 1st rolled around and I found my thoughts increasingly headed for home.  At first I politely ignored the path and tried to distract myself with more exciting activities I could not afford myself in America.  Those diversions only worked as long as I kept myself busy.  When I tried to fall asleep at night the memories would come crawling back becoming my constant companion as they settled on my pillow. 
Around the middle of the month I finally acclimated to the disruption of the ideally planned life I had created for myself and eventually the perpetual sobbing ceased.  Yes, I was homesick and no, I was not going to be home for Thanksgiving or the Christmas holidays for the first time in my life.  I would have to settle for video chats and connections through social media with those I loved across the Atlantic Ocean.  I was comforted by the revelation that although English people did not celebrate Thanksgiving, Christmas was a universal holiday.   My energy could now be focused on making my first independent Christmas the best one ever and you know what?  Once I adjusted my attitude it was the best holiday season ever as I celebrated with my cousins and newfound friends.  We shared family traditions and started new ones together.    I had survived without my family and I was better for it. 

“So, now you understand why I get so crazy about the holidays Jack.  Family is important but so are the lessons I learned that season.  It was a season of maturity,” Laura stated matter-of-factly.

“Wow.  That’s beautiful Laura.  Thanks for sharing.  Now I’m ready to start on that famous cranberry-nut stuffing of yours so we can finish it before your parents arrive. Pass me the breadcrumbs please.”

“That’s a good idea.  I am sure they will love you just like I do.” Laura aimed the bowl of breadcrumbs to slide right into Jack’s waiting hands.  Jack not realizing her intention lifted his hands and the bowl slid right off the slick table and with a crash, landed on the floor.

Jack cried out with surprise.  “Oh honey, I am so sorry.  That was your special bowl you made when you were younger.”

“That’s okay Jack.  I also learned that November that memories come from the heart and not from material things.  Let’s clean it up and make some new memories together!”

“Yes. My first Thanksgiving will be special because I get to celebrate with you.” Jack arose from the floor, put the glass pieces on the table and took Laura in his arms to kiss her soundly. 

“Ahem,” Peter Dickenson’s patient voice interrupted the couple from the open doorway.  “Next time you want a romantic moment don’t forget to lock your door,” Laura’s father teased. 

An embarrassed Laura made the introductions.  “Dad and Mom, this is Jack Peters, my fiancĂ©. Jack these are my parents, Peter and Lorraine Dickenson.”

“Nice to meet you son.  Welcome to the family.” Peter extended his hand for a handshake. 

“Thank you.  The pleasure is all mine Mr. Dickenson,” Jack responded, grasping his future father-in-law’s hand firmly. 


Twinkles and Dimples in Paradise

            The plane skidded to a stop abruptly jolting Cynthia awake.  Could she really be there already?  Not wanting to lose any time she jumped up to claim her bag, knocking her elbow into her neighbor’s nose.  “Ouch,” he said, “Please be more careful lady.”
            “Sorry.  I need to catch my next flight” Cynthia spoke over her shoulder as she jostled to be first in line off the plane.
            Finally reaching the terminal she raced to the transfer desk only to find that it was empty and she had no knowledge of her assigned gate for the connecting flight.  Turning around she spotted a display announcing arrivals and departures. Reading the list out loud to herself she eventually came to her destination city and discovered that her connecting flight was delayed 55 minutes and the gate was just around the corner.  What a relief.  What was a 30-minute layover was now over an hour.  
            With time to spare she ordered her favorite coffee at the nearest coffee shop and settled into a chair facing her gate. 
“Final boarding call for Expedite Airlines flight 55 with service to Honolulu, boarding at gate number five.  Passengers who still need to board please come to the gate immediately.  Thank you.”
            “I believe that is you miss,” a friendly voice interrupted Cynthia’s daydreaming thoughts of Hawaii.
            “What? How do you know?” a frightened Cynthia shouted at her stalker. 
            “Your ticket is open as a bookmark” the barista apologized a little too sweetly.
 “Oh! I suppose it is. Thank you.”  Cynthia gathered her belongings and once again sprinted to the rapidly closing gate and handed her ticket to the agent.  Once aboard she collapsed in her seat exhausted from the effort of traveling alone. 
“Miss, you are going to have to gate-check your bag.”
“I can’t do that.  Is there any other way?” Cynthia pleaded with the flight attendant.
“I’m sorry but this is a full flight.  No more room in the overhead bins” he replied. 
“She can have my space.  Here is my bag,” a man interrupted handing the flight attendant his bag.

“Why thank you sir. “ Cynthia whipped around and found herself staring at the man she had elbowed in the nose.  His eyes twinkled and his mouth curved upward in such a way as to reveal the cutest dimples.  If he were willing to forgive her rudeness maybe this would not be such a bad trip to paradise after all. 

Travelogue: Brisbane, Australia

Koalas, Kangaroos and CityCats, O my!

            The gusty wind tore at the snaps surrounding my ponytail, threatening to break the hat free from the tangles of my blond hair.  Stray strands of hair whipped my face from my eyes to my neck. Although assaulted by sprays of salt-water I was having the time of my life as I stood at the front of the CityCat embracing the bumpy ride along the Brisbane River.  I had been living away from the water’s edge for far too long. 
            All too soon it was over and we disembarked from the boat after an exhilarating ride.  No wonder it is the preferred method of travel for everyone, both tourists and locals alike! *
            A visit to Australia is not complete without seeing animals exclusively found Down Under and what better place to see them then the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary?  We spent a wonderful afternoon gawking at kangaroos, emus and other wildlife and enjoyed the Bird of Prey Free Flight Show **. The time sped by until the moment we entered the line for the koala photo-op. My husband insisted that it was too risky for his pregnant wife to cuddle a koala.   At his revelation all time seemed to stop.  
 I stood on the sidelines shocked that his archaic manner prevented me from savoring the most unique of Australian experiences.  I wanted to be able to share the experience with our child someday.  Instead, that would be left for him to describe.  Furthermore, a more heavily pregnant woman in front of us didn’t have to succumb to the same treatment.  Life is unfair I pouted for most of the rest of the afternoon.  The picture turned out great but I didn’t care. 
            Luckily, my woeful state did not last long and I bounced back in enough time to appreciate the long walks through the suburbs of charming Brisbane as we compared our quiet, contemplative, time there (at a spiritual retreat center) to the perpetual busyness of the bustling Chinese city of our residence.  I treasured the gorgeous late summer surroundings of the retreat center and could never forget the plumeria trees reminding me at every turn of my roots in Hawaii.  An international vacation I will never fail to remember. 



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Contemporary Fiction Entry - No Time for Coffee

No Time For Coffee

Clementine swung open the door to the coffee shop and stood against it while a woman carrying a small baby exited first.  When her eyes finally adjusted to the lighting inside she recognized a familiar face from the conference but just couldn’t remember his name.  Was it Jeff or Jackie?  Whoever he was she had already decided that he was a nice enough guy and not too shabby. A little taller than normal with straight brown hair almost into his eyes his demeanor told her he was someone she could trust.  Some women might even call him handsome.
            She sauntered up to the bar stool adjacent to him and casually perched herself on the cracked red leather seat being extra careful not to disturb him in his conversation.  A few moments later he turned in her direction and immediately sent her a smile that lit up his entire face and made Clementine’s heart skip a beat. His piercing green eyes were gorgeous! 
            “Hi. I’m Jeffrey Lopez,” the man said extending his hand for a handshake.
             Returning his handshake Clementine said in a voice so timid she hardly recognized it as her own, “Clementine Johnson.”
            “So Clementine, why are you not out taking a tour of the city?” Jeffrey asked sweeping and pointing his hand towards the outside in one smooth motion.
            “I’m supposed to meet someone. And you?” Clementine asked gaining her confidence.
            “I saw it all two years ago.” Jeffrey replied indifferently.
            “Well, I haven’t but this was the only time I could feasibly slip away.”
            “Sounds like an important meeting.”
            “It is.”
            “Do you want to tell me about it?”
            In response to the not so subtle question from Jeffrey, Clementine looked down at her watch giving herself a few seconds to gauge how much she should tell him and to see how much time she had left before Mr. Applegate would be entering the coffee shop.  Realizing she could spare a few minutes she raised her head again and flashing him one of her radiant smiles Clementine said, “Okay.  I am here to meet a lawyer named Mr. Applegate.  He is interested in meeting my best friend.”
            Now leaning towards Clementine with both elbows on the table and his hands clasped together under his chin Jeffrey looked straight at Clementine and said, “Does she know you are meeting him first?”
            “Not yet.”
Cutting her off, Jeffrey as calmly as possible whispered, “Don’t look now but he may have just entered.”
            Clementine’s head whipped around and in that instant she knew not only was he Mr. Applegate but also that she couldn’t trust him.  He was too old for Shelley!
Breaking into her thoughts Jeffrey whispered, “Does he know who he is looking for?”
            “Only a woman with a red scarf.”
            “Well then, why don’t you remove it before he sees you.”
            Clementine stuffed it into her purse at the same moment the man looked their direction.  She chose to ignore the pleading look in the man’s eyes as if he knew she was the one he came to meet.
            Rising to leave, Clementine grabbed Jeffrey’s elbow and said a little forcefully, “Come on Jeffrey.  Let’s get out of here.  Can we please find another place to chat and eat lunch?”
            “But you didn’t have a cup of coffee yet!”
            Jerking her head in the man’s direction twice Clementine replied, “That doesn’t matter.  I need to get out of here. NOW.”

   “Ok. Ok.  You are in luck.  I know just the place.”  At that, both Clementine and Jeffrey gathered their belongings before exiting together, sidestepping around the man distracted with ordering his decaf vanilla latte with soy.