Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. In this episode, you will hear about a moment of adversity called Grandma Chores, a moment of an encounter called A Friend to Treasure, and a moment of a perspective called Secret Sagittarian.
Comments or questions are welcomed on Twitter @emilykaytan OR on my website.
Hello and welcome to Episode #34 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives. These are real-life stories that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. I am Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about Grandma Chores, A Friend To Treasure, and Secret Sagittarian.
A moment of an adversity called: Grandma Chores
Growing up, I always had to help Grandma with the chores. I had uncles and aunties around, and they didn’t help her do any tasks.
Sure, they had work or other things to do but couldn’t they contribute a bit to this household of eight people in it? Why was I the only one doing all the housework with Grandma?
Grandma would say, “Get up; we need to go to the laundromat.” I hated that she woke me up at seven in the morning on a Sunday while everyone else was asleep. She wheeled a cartload of dirty clothes while I carried another bag of laundry to walk about ten minutes to the laundromat.
We’d sit there waiting for the clothes to wash and then dry. Grandma would give me a lecture about how to be a good little girl while I watched the clothes spinning around and around and wishing Grandma would stop nagging. Now that I am much older, I suppose she needed some company and some help, but I didn’t realize or appreciate it. I just wanted to crawl back into bed like the rest of the family, who would still be sleeping when we got home.
Getting home would not be the end of chores. Grandma had me wipe countertops, sweep the floor, mop the floor, and put things away. Soon it would be lunchtime, and Grandma would have me wash the vegetables and dishes used to prepare food. She didn’t let me chop anything for my safety, but I saw her doing it. Grandma would tell me what spices to shake into the meat while she used her hand to mix spices to marinate meat dishes. I’d see Grandma cook; she didn’t let me cook but kept me around to clean utensils and plates as she cooked. All the work took longer than eating. The family seemed to devour the meal so fast, and then it was time for me to clean more dishes, wipe the dining table and kitchen counter, and put everything away.
Every week it was me helping Grandma with laundry, cooking, and cleaning. Maybe I didn’t have anything else to do, but I hated doing it. What made it so unenjoyable was that while I was doing all the chores with Grandma, she constantly reminded me how to be a good girl. She was relentlessly repeating the same story to me about how Mom sacrificed herself so the whole family could come to America. She continued to tell me to love my Mom, who was not raising me. Her nagging, repetitive words were most annoying, and it made me hate spending time with her to do the chores.
I was most happy to go off to college. No more nagging. I didn’t have to hear the same stories about Mom anymore. Free at last!
When I graduated from college and got an apartment of my own, I realized what I learned from Grandma. I learned to cook, clean, and do household chores from her. These were necessary skills to have as I had a place of my own.
When friends visited me, some would ask how I knew how to cook. Some would ask how I got so organized and clean. I replied, “I guess I learned it from my grandmother.” As the years passed and I lived in different homes, I still had people say, “How’d you learn to cook this?” More, friends would say, “Teach me how you keep your place so organized and clean.” Many are amazed at my upkeep of cleanliness and organization to this day. I have to give part of the credit to Grandma.
Another explanation I often give people is that my mind is cluttered with many complexities or difficulties. I need to keep my outer world uncluttered to balance it all out! I notice that when I clean my house, I feel clean. I note that when my external world is tidied and cleansed, my inner world feels less cluttered and messy, so I have come to enjoy doing chores!!! Doing chores declutters my mind and leaves room for me to be more productive instead of being lost or drowning in my thoughts! If you don’t like to do chores, consider it as an activity to declutter and cleanse the mind. And while you’re doing it, you are also cleaning up your outside world.
A moment of an encounter called: A Friend to Treasure
Leisurely sitting at a Thai restaurant and having dinner with my friend, Eva, we talked about friendships. I said I didn't have many friends in quantity, but I had a lot of quality friends. Eva said the same was true for her. We proceeded to describe the quality of friendships we had. When I shared some, they stopped her in her tracks, as if in competition in comparison of stories; Eva said, "Well, I never had a friend like that. I never had a friend that helped me that much." Feeling proud, I continued to share details about a kind, generous, and compassionate friend I have in Selina.
When I was on the brink of losing my house, my business, and my boyfriend, I asked Selina to take a trip with me to Taiwan to drown my sorrows. Though she could not go with me, she voluntarily made arrangements for me to stay with one set of her relatives each week. She told me I would experience how each group lived: the poor, the rich, and the middle class. That would be interesting, I thought. Most importantly, I was down and out of luck, love, and money. Not only did Selina make these arrangements, but it was all free for me. I got to learn how each class of people lived there. I couldn't be more grateful to have someone do this for me in such a time of need. What an incredible friend I have in Selina. I came back to the USA ready to rejoin the living and move forward in life.
In another instance, my grandmother, who had a significant influence on my life, passed away. It was unexpected news for me, but worse was I was not told about it and only accidentally found out about it when one of my sisters only mentioned it in passing while conversing on the phone. Desperate to go but fearful of going because I was not "invited" created a dilemma. I called Selina, a family-oriented person, to ask what I should do. She told me to go and that she would go with me. Because Selina was willing to go with me, I found comfort facing my family. Because I also needed a place to stay before the funeral, I called another friend, Sonny, for help. To my surprise, he was also willing to help. Suddenly what was going to be a heart-wrenching trip flying from the west coast to the east coast became an exciting trip to look forward to in a matter of a few days because I would have two great friends by my side to support me. Though I knew I had two exceptional friends in Sonny and Selina, I was still astonished by what they did for me.
I have shared these two stories many times, and to each listener, none could top these friendship stories of mine. But Selina's thoughtfulness didn't stop there. Always thinking of my well-being and looking out for me like a big sister does or the sister I never had, Selina even found three boyfriends for me "off the street." Though I already had a boyfriend at the time, I didn't see marriage in sight with him, so Selina proceeded to "search" for a new boyfriend for me. Like a mother, she wanted to marry me off! And she is only a year and a half older than me. As it turned out, two of the three boyfriends proposed marriage to me. Though none of them turned out, I thought Selina was a successful matchmaker because she probably said good things to these strangers about me that led all three guys to want my number and date me. I had a lot of fun, too!
There was more to come in Selina's kindness. Knowing that I was fearful of long drives and needed to drive 6 hours to move from one city to another city, she volunteered to help me with the drive. While the drive may not seem like a big deal to many, it was to me. When another friend found out about it, she asked Selina how she had the time to help me and why she bothered to help me on such a long drive! The help alleviated a lot of anxiety and helped me solve my problem. I thanked Selina many times for all her assistance. She would often say it was unnecessary and that she was just doing what was needed.
As if all that she did for me wasn't enough already, she shared more of her generosity with me. I am a person who hates to ask for help and will usually only ask when I find no other options. Thankfully, when I ask Selina for help, she is there for me.
It was the year 2020 when the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic hit. I had already been unemployed for eight months and hanging in there for three more months before moving abroad. Unexpectedly, travel bans ensued, and I could not leave as planned. This situation caused enormous stress as my savings were rapidly depleting. More, nearly all my belongings had shipped overseas, and if a representative from the USA or I didn't go to sign off for the arrival of my possessions, they would auction off my belongings!
The pandemic created three monstrous problems I did not anticipate encountering. How do I sign off on my belongings when there is a travel ban? How would I continue to afford rent while waiting for the ban to lift, which was unpredictable and could be indefinite? Three, with the restrictions on travel, how could I travel within the limitations?
I tried everything I knew to do and finally asked Selina for help. I was reluctant because I still didn't like to ask anyone for help. Anyway, she helped me solve all three colossal problems! One, she traveled in my place to sign off for my possessions because she had citizenship in that country; I couldn't because I was not a citizen there, and the travel ban did not allow noncitizens to enter. She flew there and had to endure two weeks of quarantine that she said was not enjoyable. I felt awful for her but knew no other way of saving nearly all my life possessions. Two, Selina welcomed me to stay at her house rent-free until the travel ban lifted or until I could find a way to get through with the limitations of the travel ban. No one knew how long the crisis would last. My stay would be indefinite. Luckily, Selina helped me successfully solve the third problem two months later. I had tried different ways to apply for entry without success. Finally, Selina had an idea, all legitimate, and I proceeded with paperwork. It worked! I was traveling to my destination where I had a job waiting!
Faced with many challenges throughout life, Selina was there for me on some occasions. Graduate school graduation, marriage, moving abroad for the first time, moving abroad for the second time, she was there for all those significant occasions. You may say I am lucky to have such a friend, and I probably am, but should you have the great fortune of knowing Selina, you will find that she is even greater than what I could put into words. Consider this, all her life, it seems, she has had to take care of a disabled sister, then a mother with cancer until she died, and then an elderly father until he died. All the while, she had two careers, a husband and a daughter to care for too. I don't know how she juggled it all and where she even has the energy to care about me.
Indeed, I am most fortunate to have met Selina. I treasure this friend and want her to know what a treasure she is; I only hope to be a better friend, a kinder friend, a more generous friend, and a more compassionate friend like her. There are still good people in this world, and I am lucky to know one like Selina.
A moment of a perspective called: Secret Sagittarian
I am only a secret Sagittarian if you do not know me. While I am not all the traits of a Sagittarian, I am an adventurer at heart. When set free from constraints, I am a globetrotting wanderer. In one year, I could travel to up to six countries.
One year, I heard that Bhutan was one of the happiest countries on Earth, so I set off to Bhutan by myself. I got a tour guide and a driver. While I would have no transportation problems and find my way around with them, there was a slight fear of being alone with two male strangers in a foreign country. But there I was, I arrived and got in the car with them. As driving to places often involved driving around and around and through mountains, we had to stop somewhere on a mountainside for lunch. So, the two men got out the food they had packed and had a big picnic cloth. They laid out the big cloth and set out the food from stacked stainless steel containers for the three of us. I thought, here I am in the mountains with no one else around but the three of us. Nothing was around but bumpy gravel roads and rocky mountains for circular miles on end. The unpaved paths were narrow where one wrong swerve could easily have you tumbling down to rock beds, weeds, and gravel. Not one other human life was around for hours on end. You could only hear our voices. If anything wrong were to happen, there would be no one or nothing around to help me save my life.
I just had to believe that I would be okay while in a Buddhist country, a land of happiness. Not only was I safe, but a sense of joy came over me; how could I not be happy with two men serving me at my beck and call?! I never felt so peaceful in my life as when I was in Bhutan.
On another occasion, I got myself in the same situation, just me, a driver, and a tour guide. This time it was in the Gobi desert, on endless open fields, and on bumpy roads where there are more animals than humans - Mongolia. The tour guide said we needed to stop for a tea break one time. I thought I did not see any place in sight for hours where we could stop for tea, so did he have teacups and tea in the trunk?! To my surprise, he meant we needed to stop for a bathroom break. The men went their way to do their thing facing open fields. There were hardly any bushes, and none of them were high enough to hide me. I had no choice but to quickly do what I needed to do and hope they weren’t looking. A horrible thought ran across my mind; what if the men left me and drove off? I would have no idea which direction I would go, and I would have no one around to ask. I wondered how long it would take before I saw another human being. I told my tour guide this, and he said it might take me two years. I thought I might as well die! I asked him how long it would take before he saw another human being. He said maybe two hours. I said, how is that possible? He said he would see some animals and follow them to lead him to their owner.
When you are clear that your life has an expiration date and it could end at any time, you know you must live life fully. We must experience the things we want, and it is in adventures that we can grow, learn, and experience life. No doubt, the more I share, the more unconstrained I am, and the more I am not a secret Sagittarian.
Key Takeaways: Though I had to do all the chores for the family with Grandma as a kid, I learned to take care of all household chores, which is helpful as an adult.
Though I have had some colossal challenges in life, I was most fortunate to have Selina as one of my lifelines.
Though I may appear shy, reserved, and conservative, I am an adventurer at heart.
Next week, you will hear three new real-life stories called The Flood, Know Someone Fast, and Don’t Judge. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe or click like on Youtube, support the show by clicking on the link in the description, or go to www.inspiremereads.com and leave a message. Thank you for listening!.