Eye-Opening Moments are real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. In this episode you will hear about How to Stop Crying When It's Over and Discovering A Passion.
Comments or questions are welcomed on Twitter @emilykaytan OR on https://inspiremereads.com.
Hello and welcome to episode #64 of Eye-Opening Moments where you’ll hear real-life stories of adversity, encounters, and perspectives intertwined. They are moments that can lift your spirits, give you some food for thought, or move you. For the introspective mind that likes to reflect, discover, and find solutions or meaning in a complex life, this is for you. I’m your host Emily Kay Tan. In this episode, you will hear about How to Stop Crying When It is Over and Discovering A Passion.
How to Stop Crying When It’s Over
“Don’t cry because it is over; smile because it happened,” said Dr. Seuss.
Falling in love for the first time is fantastic. Feeling giddy and tickled brings smiles to my face even decades later. Remembering romantic phone calls and the whispers of sweet words warm my heart. Having your first love be your best friend and soulmate is heartfelt. To have someone who understands you even when you say nothing or senses how you feel by merely looking at your eyes or tone of voice is precious. To have someone who encourages you, gives you the strength to meet challenges, and helps you solve many problems is priceless.
He wrote a letter to me. I didn’t pay much attention to it, but he wrote to me repeatedly, and then I took notice. Keith was my pen pal who found me in a magazine where I listed myself as a pen pal. He came into my life when I was an unhappy and lonely teenager. I had lived with my grandparents for ten years before being thrust back into living with my parents as a teenager. The values and lifestyles of my mother and grandmother were vastly different, so it was not an easy adjustment to live with my parents.
Further, I felt like I didn’t belong in a family that was my biological family. Keith would write to me asking me all kinds of questions about myself, and I’d write back answering them and asking him questions about him. Our only way of communication was by letter for a year. Having someone to share things with and know that he read my words was comforting. Through writing, we learned much about each other. It was like having a friend to talk with about anything, and he was full of questions. He was the first person in my life who ever asked about me as a human being. He made me feel important when I never felt important to anybody. This is how he came to be my best friend and soulmate.
After a year, I was back to living with my grandparents at my request. The relationship with Keith continued, but this time we were on the phone talking to each other. I lived on the east coast, and he was on the west coast. Our phone conversations became romantic. He started flirting with me, and I was giddy as any teenager would be. He was seven years older than me and seemed to understand the world better. With all my internal troubles, he gave me good advice, encouraged me, and comforted me. He helped boost my confidence and gave me the strength to deal with difficulties. How could I not fall in love with him?
After one year of writing and one year of conversing on the phone, Keith finally came to visit me from California to Massachusetts. It was like love at first sight; we felt like we already knew each other. He could tell my mood or what I was thinking with one look at me. We had previously spoken so much by writing and talking. Now that we were together in person, there were fewer words and more glances, touches, and smiles. We were madly in love, and he soon asked me to marry him!
I said I was going to college in two weeks, and marriage would have to wait. Keith said he’d wait. As much as I was in love and floating in the clouds, I was most excited to go to college and begin a new life. I was more focused on what I needed to do for college. Still, Keith continued our relationship by calling me long-distance weekly while I was in Connecticut for two years. During those weekly calls, he frequently told me to move to California. I was happy with my college life and was not eager to leave. However, after two years of his pestering and persuading me, I finally transferred schools and moved to California. I flew all the way there in the name of love.
Upon arrival, Keith told me to focus on my studies, and I didn’t hear from him anymore. It seemed like we broke up, I don’t even know! I knew my focusing on my studies was important to him. Because he didn’t have a college degree, he cared that I would get one. I was too busy adjusting to a new school and a new environment. I had school and work; life was too busy for me to fret over where our relationship stood.
In a blink of an eye, two years passed by quickly, and I was soon graduating from college. One Saturday morning, one of my roommates woke me up and told me I had a phone call. I was shocked and surprised to hear it was Keith on the other end of the line. How did he find me? I never gave him my phone number since I arrived in California. This was before cell phones became popular, and I made sure my phone number was not listed in any school directory for the public to see. How did he ever find me? I asked, and he wouldn’t tell me.
Though two years passed with zero communication, I was nervous and giddy like no time had ever elapsed. Keith asked me to move to his city. I found a job and moved to a nearby town. And just like that, we were back together again. He asked me to marry him again. This time, I said I needed to focus on my job and get a handle on it. A few years later, he asked again, and I said I was going to grad school while maintaining my career and that it wasn’t a good time. For some reason, I had it in my head that if I got married, I needed to have kids, and I was not ready for that. My avoidance was having kids and not the getting married part. The relationship came to be an on-again-off-again kind of relationship. As much as I loved him, there were things about him that bothered me. I have loved him more than anyone in my life, but I couldn’t find myself marrying him. I have no regrets about that decision, but I do feel sad every so often because it was not happily ever after.
Remembering those bygone days of long ago brings sadness and agony of those days that cannot be rekindled because so much has happened since, and we have grown and changed.
Of course, we can only be sad when we have had its opposite. No doubt, nothing stays the same. Even if the world didn’t change, we age and change. Even if we didn’t change, our surroundings would change. Landforms and plants change through time. Buildings, houses, and other places get demolished or built anew. Nothing is stagnant. If it were, we’d probably get bored. There is no need to feel sad when things change or when the good times are over. The mixture of sadness and smiles adds to the spice of life. But I still want more smiles.
How do you stop crying when it’s over? I beam with joy because I had a soulmate, best friend, and lover early on. I am full of delight because I had the experience and am grateful to have experienced them. I find solace in Dr. Seuss’ words: “Don’t cry because it is over; smile because it happened.”
Discovering a Passion
Disillusioned with a career I once enjoyed for over twenty years, I no longer wanted to teach children. This was alarming because it just sneaked up on me; I didn’t see it coming. It could have been because I was in the same profession for a long time and was weary of it. That was what I told others, but the truth was it was something else. Whatever the reason, it was good that it happened because it gave me an opportunity to discover a new and exciting passion.
After some years of working abroad, I returned to the USA. I also returned to teaching full-time in the classroom. When this happened, an uneasy feeling came over me. I was disturbed; I felt like I had regressed instead of progressed. I became unmotivated and no longer enjoyed the career I once loved. The adventure abroad had felt like an advancement from just being a teacher, so when I returned to the USA and dropped myself back into teaching, my heart also dropped.
My footsteps seemed to walk backward, and that was not progressing. After a year, the troubled feeling was still there, and I wondered what to do instead of teaching. Another year passed by teaching a drastically different subject and age group, but it didn’t relieve the uneasy feeling. I wanted to do something exciting and challenging as I did abroad. Though teaching was always a challenge because of a different set of students each year, it was a familiar challenge with known remedies.
Before leaving America, I had been teaching for many years. Upon arriving in a foreign land, I started teaching but quickly shifted into management. It was exciting and challenging, with many different tasks. It stimulated my creative and problem-solving skills, and I enjoyed the variety of work. Each day brought new surprises and different interactions. Work required me to deal with the unfamiliar and step outside my comfort zone. I grew and thrived in the environment. Doing something new felt like progress. Going back to doing something old felt like a regression. It was like something that once tasted delicious no longer tasted good. Worse, it left a sour taste on the tastebuds.
The unexpected alarm went off, and I instinctively wanted to shut it off. In a panic, a million questions and ideas rushed through my mind. What could I do besides teaching? Wasn’t I too old to start a new career? What did my first career mean if I were to make a change? My teaching career was meaningful; how did its value now escape me? Could it be because of the students or a new generation of kids who could care less about learning? Struggling for answers, I had more questions than answers. And I wanted answers.
With an empty slate before me, my mind drew a blank. The emptiness was discomforting. Without answers, meaning and purpose in life seemed to diminish. Though I was unclear about what to do, I was clear that I didn’t want to teach, so I quit. I gave up a job that, with my experience, paid well. Many teachers complain about low pay and disrespect, but I felt I had respect and was paid well.
Jobless and with nothing to do, I knew I had to do something to bring meaning to this life. I signed up for some classes like calligraphy, martial arts, and writing. I spent time doing the things I enjoyed, like learning new things and engaging in hobbies. Singing, writing, and exploring tugged and pulled on me more as they helped me let out more self-expression.
Writing was on the back burner for over ten years. However, as I began taking writing classes online and in person, they gradually moved to the front burners. They moved to the front, and the flames turned on and progressively grew bigger and brighter.
One of my classes required students to read their writing pieces aloud to the class. Responses to my stories were gasps, surprises, or smiles. My instructor even asked if I had ever published. My immediate internal response was, why would I ever publish anything? I have nothing! Strangely, after he asked it, I also considered the idea a possibility. And then I dismissed it or forgot about it. I soon learned that the idea to one day write a book was a common thought for many people, but many did not follow through.
Before long, I discovered why people entertained the idea of writing a book, or I thought I knew. Their desire was like mine. They wanted to express themselves. Whether it was expressing their imagination through fiction or expressing themselves through their knowledge or stories, they were all a form of self-expression. For me, it was that I could better express my inner feelings and thoughts through writing than speaking. My inner thoughts and feelings seemed to emerge into grabbable visible written words. It made my inside world come out in reality. That in and of itself was incredible. I began to hunger to learn more about writing and engage in the act of writing.
The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. The more I wrote, the more I had to say. And the birth of a podcast came to life. It was as if so much life was bottled up inside, and now it had places to unleash itself. The stories could be released, and I discovered lessons and insights. They became eye-opening moments. The moments of adversity, encounters, and perspectives combined make for a meaningful life.
As I shared more stories and listened to comments, I realized I was not alone in my thoughts and feelings. I thought I was alone, different, and an outcast. After all, I began life in a family that threw me away. To my surprise, readers and listeners let me know they could identify with my experiences even though they didn’t have the same experiences. I wasn’t alone with heartbreaks, struggles, betrayals, hatred, fear, distress, challenges, pain, and more. Suddenly, I connected with acquaintances and strangers. And I became closer to the people in my life. Aha! I am part of the human race with many similar thoughts and feelings, no matter the specific individual experiences. I am not an alien on Earth!
I write and speak with a voice from within. I located a new passion and developed an appreciation for my life. Now a published writer and podcaster, I celebrate and rejoice for a passion discovered and one that could make a difference for others.
Key Takeaways: Though I am no longer with my first boyfriend, best friend, and soulmate, I can smile that I had such an experience.
Though I no longer love my career as I did before, I discovered a new passion that fulfills me.
Next week, you will hear two new real-life stories called Speak and Be Heard and Just Like Miss Rumphius. If you enjoyed this episode of Eye-Opening Moments, please share it with others, subscribe, 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!