Kabbalah Love (Class Four)

Our last class took place in Brookline instead of Cambridge, and it was a video recording, as the instructor was away. He spoke to us from the screen:

How to connect to love? Major problem with love for many is: it doesn’t stay the same as in the beginning. After initial excitement, you do the same stuff, love is fading away, and things deteriorate.

“I think I love the person, but there is no spark?” Look at the job, there used to be a spark, but with time we lost excitement. But if we understand the essence of a relationship, it has to grow. We need to maintain and grow love. Think about your soul mate, a friend, a parent or someone close to you. Does it bother you that he/she doesn’t do something for you, that you don’t receive enough? We expect to receive from others. We start to take relationships for granted.

There is only one source of energy, joy, health, prosperity and pleasure. In the moment we think that something or someone belong to us, we take them for granted. We forget the original meaning of a relationship. It is not a tool to serve my needs, but to grow. Everything around us is a gift. When we take our health for granted, we disconnect from the source, from the light. Everything including our health, finances, etc. nourishes from the light. We use gifts and don’t get connected.

A person in the relationship becomes part of the furniture in the house. I don’t see how special he or she is, I forget. I am not there to invest the energy anymore. It is not existence. How do you remove this ownership? Consciousness is against our nature. Togetherness, bonding and unity are not natural. They require work.

The worst thing you can do to romance is to get married. “What am I doing with this person? I lost that magic power”. When you get married, you feel like you got there, achieved it. You don’t need to invest anymore. And you will lose it, there will be nothing there. There is never a vacation in a relationship. Relationship is a constant every day work. You need to see other person and communicate, it is not only about you. But people still ask: what have you done for me lately? It’s not comfort zone, but a tool to help each other grow. Push each other. And it is not supposed to be easy.

One of the biggest blockages in relationships: expectations. “Do dishes, make me dinner, give flowers”. Expectations and conditions destroy relationships. Only thing to expect is human dignity, respect and listening.

Communicate what you want but if it still doesn’t happen, let go. Or it will create a bigger space between two of you. Don’t judge the other person, do what you need to do. Help each other grow.

Love will work only when we give 100% to make it work. The right way is to confront, challenge and take responsibility in proactive way. “He is wrong, he needs to come to me”. Instead we need to make it happen. If the person is not a good partner, he will evaporate and the other person will come.

Another blockage is entitlement. “He needs to change his attitude”. The other person is a channel from another universe. I do and I care. When I’m going to change, he is going to change.

Be a giver without expectations and don’t constantly judge the other person. It is impossible to do without being conscious. We need a place to awake a power. Other people may be doing same old: “I want to do what I do, receive what I receive”. If you want love, do hard work inside, otherwise it will happen outside – divorce, issues, pain. You need spiritual home, support. It doesn’t stay the same because love constantly needs to be nourished.

What helps in love is higher cost or higher purpose. We have the power to make a difference. When we contribute to something that is bigger than me and you, we find higher purpose for our togetherness. The instructors’ parents came from different backgrounds, but together they brought the wisdom of Kabbalah to their students.

Love all with no calculation. Love is not to study but practice. Love yourself, make yourself better and connect to everything through love. It will impact love and positivity all around us and everywhere around the world.

Check out “The Power of Kabbalah” and “The Power to Change Everything” books.

Kabbalah Love (Class Three)

Love is work. Our responsibility is to create love in our relationship, to create it in everything we do. Love your neighbor like yourself. But how can you give it, if you don’t have it? If you don’t love yourself, fake it, extend to love thyself.

Accept yourself the way you are. Accept the package you come with. “I’m special but not perfect. I need to work on it. I have to be at peace with myself. Only then I’ll be able to love others”.

People ask: “Where can I get love, to cure my loneliness?” It comes from inside. Just love yourself and them first. Don’t wait for anything.

Everything is available for me to learn, to grow, to become better. I only need to ask a question and learn. There is not always a direct connection between what is happening around and self-improvement. Take notice of judgement. If it upsets us, there is a lesson for us (need to accept).

Do you want to have a soul mate? If yes, then you need to go deeper in your relationships.

The instructor told us a story about a man, who was ugly outside, but as soon as he started to speak to the woman he liked, she noticed how beautiful he was from inside and she agreed to marry him. Don’t judge things with your 5 senses only, go deeper. There is no relationship until we are there 100%.

A soul mate will not usually be your type, but a vessel to help you grow. We need to see what is right for us, not think what is right.

Why do we have trust issues?

We don’t’ trust because we look at the person as a source of energy.

No human being is a reliable source of energy. There has to be something bigger. You need:

  1. To learn how it all works, what is God
  2. Learn tools to grow

Relationships are not the source of energy. Don’t count on the energy to come from another person. Come as a giver, not a taker. You can’t rely on people to react. You need to find your strength, energy. Be the creator.

Can you genuinely generate love for someone?

The Instructor gave us an exercise to find someone in the room that we don’t think we can ever love and talk to them. I personally didn’t move but some people switched places and moved around the room. How crazy is that, to tell someone you can’t ever learn to love them?

At the end the instructor commented: “You broke embarrassment. You started talking, then you made connection. During that connection, you break barriers. Then there is light, judgment is curtains. Break your judgment”.

If there is someone you don’t like, there is potential for energy, for growth. The opposite happens if you are indifferent about someone. Relationship with your soul mate will have room for growth, if not, you can just be friends.

Then we were told to go and say something nice to three people in the room. Participants introduced themselves, exchanged compliments and engaged in small talk.

At the end the instructor corrected us saying that no one asked the most important question: “Can I do something for you?” It would mean that we really care about the person, but it is not our nature to do it yet. To learn something new, you need to directly learn it from the person, no matter what it is. Learn from the person; overcome the difficulties of the relationship.

Love is care. If you want a better connection, you need to give, to serve first. We all agreed that sometimes we can’t resist love. “She felt the love and she couldn’t not love him back”.

Love is the ultimate weapon. When we came to this life, we had everything, but were not able to be the creators of love. Now we know we can.

You can generate love for anyone on the planet.

Kabbalah Love (Class Two)

Last week was my second class. The instructor opened it with the following saying: “People believe in three rings – engagement, marriage and suffering. Instead what we are really doing is trying to be as close to the creator as possible.”

We all like falling in love, feeling oneness, but spark can be developed between 2 people. Battle means work. Kabbalists don’t believe in love from first sight, there could be some connection when you meet a person, but real love comes later, when you learn the other person more. You can create love.

Why were we created yearning for love? To make us feel complete?

All the qualities to be there for other people needed to work with light, all those qualities are already within us. They were created within us.

Because this work is so out of reach all qualities within us will start develop through relationships with other people.

The Universe is created for me and by me. All work with people is a tool to get closer to God, to understand the Creator only through relationships.

It is hard to love those who we resent, but it is about giving and sharing.

We don’t get appreciation so we don’t like them.

In our opinion “Show appreciation and then I’ll like you”, but it is the other way around in Kabbalistic view: You can’t give what you don’t have. You have to appreciate first. You need to love yourself. How do I know that I love myself? You appreciate yourself?

Less I’m reactive the more I love myself. Less possessions, less emptiness within, less I want to determine whether I’m treated well from outside (criticism from other people). Then you will be able to be out there for other person, and not afraid of any losses.

I want to be perfect, to have an ability to know my true power, soul, to know my own baggage (my bad traits).

We are too focused on ourselves, so that we can’t be there for anybody.

What do you judge people for?

The answers were of full range, the majority was about mothers, selves, co-workers, relatives, or other people who judge us. Judgment is a reflection of something that I don’t’ accept within myself. I don’t recognize it.

To become more perfected, more aware, how do we start? Imagine I’m in my own movie, I’m the creator. Learn and improve through experiences every day.

The whole world was created for me. Everything is happening between me and other person – to help me become more powerful. To become more perfect, more loving. Allow me to meet someone who is honest. It is a tool to help me grow and become stronger.

Kabbalah Love (Class One)

Several weeks ago when I was in LA, I went to the introduction lecture on Kabbalah. When I returned to Boston, they emailed me about an upcoming 4-week course that takes place in Cambridge. I decided to enroll to get more familiar with this school of thought. What I liked the most about it is that it is open to all no matter what race, religion or gender. I also like the concept of giving before you are able to receive, which totally resonates with me. So I signed up for the course in Cambridge called “To Love – an in-depth look at the Nature of Love Itself”.

The course description said: “Kabbalah does not just contain the secrets to love. Kabbalah IS love. Take a 360 degree turn in your understanding of Light, life and love – and uncover the true purpose of love. This is more than “how to find your soul-mate” class. It is a journey into the essence of what it means to have a soul, why relationships exist, and how to open your heart to greater love and a deeper connection to people and the Creator”.

10 days ago I attended the first session with about 30 people. I was told there are about 300 people who are on the Kabbalah mailing list in Boston area. The session began.

Love One Care. These words represent number 13. Which is a special number meaning going beyond your traditional “package” of qualities, like the ones associated with 12 horoscope star signs, to love is to go beyond your normal description. Then the instructor asked us to write down qualities of people whom we love. It became apparent that these people show some affection toward us and support us in a certain way. We normally love because we receive love from those people. I wrote down the following: similar caring spirit, humor, intelligent. We were told that we often confuse love and need, but first thing to do in love is to give (yes, unconditionally).

Love is an outcome, never a cause of something. We see reflection of ourselves in other people or we look for and see something we are missing in ourselves and want to have. There is nobody else there, because we are in a relationship with ourselves. Is this love unconditional or does it depends on something? How do you recognize true love? If you plant a seed of love and it was a need , lack or co-dependency, it vanishes… it was not true.

There is no love at first sight, because we don’t know the person yet. We all have lacks, issues, judgements, who doesn’t? Love is not about fear of losing. We need to work on ourselves first: to separate our needs from love for other person.

Relationship definition: Expression of the yearning of the soul to join forces in the battle to promote our spiritual understanding and help each other to pay the cosmic debt (tikkun).

Relationships are about growing and transforming, the feeling of yearning and connection with this person. It can help me grow but I don’t know why. It has to help me grow and transform. Am I better with them or without them? Love is made of 2 different forces : give and take. Opposites attract, but in differences there must be something that unites us both. We got our life for free with no effort. But later in life you have to work for things to pay your cosmic debt/baggage to transform it (from past life or childhood).

Relationship: They should challenge us, help us grow. We like the idea of love but do we want to work for it. Whatever you want to get you need to give first. How does it make me feel? Do we give love anytime? (to whoever is in front of us?) No, we are busy. Usually we only love when we have time and in good mood or to those whom we like or those who like us. It is rare that people just give us, without wanting to get anything from us. We need to give love as a tool, example, to like all babies, not just cute babies. We need to be there for the person in front of us, we need to exercise love every day. And see what happens. That is our homework.

The Power of Virtual Self-Expression

Yesterday I stumbled on this letter in my inbox from … 11 years ago. I never met this dude, so I’ll never know what was really true or not, but he clearly expressed himself through Love@AOL:

“If you haven’t seen “Shallow Hal”, you must certainly have seen the preview…let’s be honest, it would be great if we could all just see the “Inner Beauty” in one another but the cold hard reality is that Men AND Women want that animal attraction. Body/face and looks are key. The cool thing about chicks is they tend to be a little more forgiving, which is great because I weigh 17000LBS and have a thumb growing out of my eyebrow! No, in all seriousness I am an average looking guy, in decent enough shape but I also know what women CLAIM to be looking for and what the REALLY want are often 2 different things, so let me clear up the facts first: I am average looking, not too bad as I said, 31 years old, I am 6′ tall, 205lbs, blue eyes, auburn hair, smell good, like to keep clean (Bonus, eh?), get along with Mom & Pop, shower daily, don’t sell crack to kids, have not been in prison, enjoy all movies, have cried at some but I’m not a tree hugging sappy whiner either.

I am not an overly aggressive person but I won’t back down from a fight, especially if it’s to protect my lady. I love most sports, but I am not a “junkie”. I am fairly funny but not intimidated by a woman who is also. I make great money and will spend it on the significant other but I WON’T pay your cell phone bill and buy your groceries just because you have a great ass(unless it’s REALLY great). I have been told I have a great smile, I think I can be quite a charmer, I like to make people laugh but I’m not an obnoxious pick on everyone type. I drink socially from time to time but I am not an alki and I don’t plan on becoming one. I like outdoor activities and beaches and all that summer fun stuff but I tan only mildly so if you’re like leatherface you better find a guido stud instead of me sweetie.

I think kissing is the best one to express emotion between two lovers and I could kiss for 9 hours with the right woman. I love reading, I CAN read which is always good and I love to cook as well. However, this last statement doesn’t make me gay and although I find nothing wrong with that and love to watch “Will & Grace”, I am 100% into women, although not many at the moment or I wouldn’t be typing this letter at 12:21am in my underwear with my dog staring at me with a “Please take me out you loser” look on his face. Finally, I am only sending this letter to about 4-5 people I think sound cool so don’t assume this went out to every woman with a pulse in NY, it didn’t. Should you be flattered I sent you one? Hell no, I’m not that great, but hey, I do have a BMW, a job and a clean close shave! Anyway, hope to hear from you, and have a good nite- Steve”

Will I be able to publish this in different times?

Hello, I’m Happiness

If you read this letter – it means I have come to you. And now I’ll start to grumble, because there is something to grumble about! It hurts, you see:

I am ancient – I do not even remember how old I am. I guess I always was. Therefore, I have accumulated a lot of observations of mankind. Have you ever tried to put yourself in my shoes? No? Too bad! It would be very useful and informative:

That’s all they say: “happiness, happiness is”. Rushing about, looking for, dreaming about me. While I, by the way, didn’t leave or hide! And I do not run! I am always near and waiting to get noticed. But how do I get noticed, if the majority does not know what I look like? That’s funny: they look, not knowing what for!

Most often, I do not get noticed because everyone has his own idea of me. For someone I am a chocolate cake, for other – spending time in nature, for another – world fame, and to someone happiness is another person’s disaster. Believe it or not!

Incidentally, I’m homeless and I wander around the world, seeking shelter. I would be glad to stay with someone, I knock on all doors, but people don’t always let me in. Unhappiness is all at once recognized, but I’m not – for some reason!

I know that many are also looking for me, sometimes just to bump up my nose, but most usually pass me by without noticing. Or not recognizing? Or maybe just looking for me in wrong places. For example, many are looking for happiness in marriage. Or at work. Or in children. Of course, I am also side by side with you there! But then it turns out that if marriage or work, or children are taken away from you, I disappear with them. And you will be miserable: And this is wrong! Happiness is the natural human state, so that you know.

Many like to look back: “Then, they say, were the happy days!”. But if you recall how they behaved back then, it is a lie! They even in those happy times were dissatisfied with something, something was missing. Only over the years have they realized that I was there! But only it is too late: now they sit and indulge in memories.

But others are dreaming of what they do not have to be happy. One – apartment, another – car, someone else – a million dollars or the ideal love. Well, I can tell you that there is always something missing to a man. Give him all at once what he was asking and he will be glad for a week or two, and then get used again and starts to wish for something else for full happiness.

Oh, it’s hard for me with you, folks! How much nonsense you piled up around me! “Happiness is to be useful to others”. Beautifully said, but it is not totally correct. To be useful to people: and yourself? Give yourself away grain by grain, but will not know happiness: It is good to care about others but do not forget about yourself! When you are happy, then happiness light spreads around you! How much of me will you share??

Or here: “My happiness is in children”. Grown children have their own families, their nests, but mother still climbs to them, intervenes, and is offended that she is sidelined. Why? Because with her children and I left, as she originally lodged me in them. And what about her now, without happiness? So I say – you should have your own happiness, independent.

And then they say about misfortune: “Would not it be a blessing in disguise” (There will not be happiness unless misfortune helps). What are you people, crazy? Why do you definitely need to get hit with a brick on your head to understand that happiness was always here but you just didn’t notice it?

Do not be offended by my grumbling, I warned you that it hurts me: You better listen to me, your happiness, see what is useful and take notice.
If you only knew how often I stood at the bedside when a person really goes away, tears welling, and It is only then he realizes that it was happiness, but was so overlooked, could not see it, did not notice!

Here is a man climbs a mountain to the summit, climbing, panting, throws his fingers into the blood. And all for what? To get on top and feel the happiness! Well, me, that is. Happy moment! Flight of the soul! But then, he would still have to go further. Descend to climb again. The eternal pursuit of happiness: And you do not realize, people, that as long as you getting somewhere, I’m behind you, sit in a backpack. Or pocket. Or just fly near, whispering: “Stop, my friend! Look around! I am here, it is your happiness!”. But very few people can hear.

I’ll reveal my main secret: I am linked to time. I am not in the past – this is just the happy picture. I am not in the future – it’s just sweet dreams. I’m always in the present! Heard the song – “There is only a moment for you to keep”. Here, it’s just me! Each of your moment – is happiness. Of course, if you are at this moment not fallen in the past or future. You usually regret about the past, and worry about the future. And where regret or anxiety, I do not live – we are not compatible, what can you do?

I’ll tell you what! If you’re reading this letter – it means that you have eyes and they see it. Is this not happiness? If you are blind and someone reads the letter aloud – but you have a friend! What a joy! Breathe, walk, love, look, touch and smell – it’s all happiness! Yellow leaves flew – the beauty and happiness! Snow fell to the ground – light, clean and happy!
Streams began to flow, grass breaks – is not happiness? And when the season for berries and mushrooms comes and you can swim in the river – pure excitement!

I ask you one thing, people: do not hold me! Don’t catch my wings! Because I am mobile, I like to fly! If I lose my flight, then I’ll turn into a memory. Like the dried leaf, that your grandmother brought from Evpatoria in 1968. It, of course, pleases the soul, but it was when X?! You better remember: “Happy people don’t count time”. And why not? Because their every moment is happiness, why look at the clock? They have neither past nor future, but only a present moment!

In general, I appeal to you, people! Let me in: I am tired of wandering through the world without shelter. Let us live by the law: “man is the master of his happiness!” Well I just dream about it – to come to somebody and make him happy for life. Just stop for a moment, stop your eternal race, look around – and you will see me.
If you read this Happiness letter, send it to your friends! Those who are especially dear to you. Let them hear my desperate cry! You will do good work, and they will be happy. And who knows, maybe they will look closely and listen, and I finally get noticed. And all of us will be happy.

Written by Anonymous, Translated from Russian by Google Translate with my help

QS LA Confidential (Part Two)

M: I guess the topic of health is universal and more straightforward: you need to get rid of pain by eating healthy, working out more, taking your meds or improving your sleep. Health is more common to track nowadays (my mom has high blood pressure, so she checks it at least twice a day and writes down results in her paper notebook).
Eric: Tracking your health and body metrics is an interesting topic. At the QS conference in May, David Asprey (biohacker and author of Bullet Proof Executive – http://www.bulletproofexec.com/) gave a great talk on self tracking and lab testing. People are starting to go to independent labs directly for tests they would normally have done through a doctor. These labs will take blood samples, check for vitamin deficiencies, and even design special diets based on what you need. Another interesting company is 23andMe (http://23andme.com). It does personal genome sequencing by taking a saliva sample and gives a detailed diagnosis on health risks and genetic traits.
M: Why don’t doctors do that during annual physicals? Don’t people trust their doctors or can’t afford medical services and hence prefer a DIY version?
Eric: Some doctors are more progressive and open to sharing more data with their patients, and other more traditional ones aren’t there yet. People are definitely taking power into their own hands in terms of health and well being. As costs come down and people become more interested in taking charge of their own health I think the DIY trend will continue.
M: But self-tracking is more health focused than other things. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a comprehensive app that tells it all…
Eric: Many self trackers focus on monitoring health, mood and stress. But there are even gadgets (NeuroSky) and apps that can track your brainwave activity when you meditate (checking for focus levels and beta, alpha, theta and delta activity). This isn’t something I regularly track, but is more of an experiment at the moment.
Personally, I’ve tracked a lot of areas in my life, not just health related things. Years ago I started off with my personal memex project to build a single app that tracked all aspects of my life: a place to write down memories and help with recall, my travel journal, research notes, and eventually made it a place to track my workouts. I still use it quite a bit, but I it required a lot of manual data entry. For me the appeal of Quantified Self and the new health-related gadgets is the tracking is mostly transparent and data capture is done for you automatically.
M: So what do you work on now?
Eric: I’ve been focused on consolidating and analyzing my self-tracking data from a number of gadgets (Fitbit, Zeo, Withings, Garmin, etc.). The challenge with many of the vendors is that data is usually transferred to their own site, but they don’t always allow you to easily get access for your own analysis. You’re locked in to the reports and graphs they provide and sometimes have a limited view of historical data (Fitbit only shows 30-days of past data). Some companies have created APIs to get data, but it can be difficult to consolidate all of this to a central pIace. I found it very helpful to analyze data (sleep, activity, gps/location etc.) from all of these sources and create my own customized reports and charts that have really helped with discovering patterns and staying active. This project is called TRAQS (Tools for Reporting & Analysis of the Quantified Self – http://traqs.me). My plan is to make the app available to the general public very soon.
M: Why do you think QS is so crazy popular on the West Coast?
Eric: Well, it originated in San Francisco which is both very tech and health-centric. When I went to QS Conference, there seemed to be a lot of health/personal development enthusiasts. I think the appeal of QS is the combination of technology, health, personal development, and the DIY vibe appeals to many hackers.
M: It feels that people bring their personal discoveries to another level by sharing and creating social good. Thank you, Eric, for your time and this great information on QS!
PS I checked out Eric’s blog and was very impressed with his post 5 years ago on mind mapping and goal setting.

See Eric’s other Presentations on Location Tracking and QS Device Show and Tell
The last LA QS event’s list of some of the medtech/QS sites: Cakehealth, Healthcare, Avado_Individuals, HealthVault, Medikeeper; Financial: Mint, Indinero.

QS LA Confidential (Part One)

Two weeks ago while in LA, I met with Eric Blue, co-organizer of LA Quantified Self (QS) Meetup Community.
M: How did you get involved in QS?
Eric: I’ve been interested in self-tracking for several years now and started off by doing my own experiments. A major motivator was monitoring my lower back pain that started about 2 1/2 years ago. Self tracking helped me to become more conscious of my physical activity. Around this time I read a book “Total Recall: How the E-Memory Revolution Will Change Everything” by Gordon Bell. Gordon had been working for 15 years at Microsoft in research and development and developed his project MyLifeBits (the ultimate self-tracking project). I decided to check out Gordon’s work in depth and discovered the Quantified Self community through one of his blog posts. In May 2011 I went to the 1st QS Conference, which was attended by about 450 people. That’s where I connected with John Amschler, who originally started the LA QS Meetup and also co-founded the San Diego Meetup. Since then I help organize the LA Meetup events (every 4-6 weeks).
M: Tell me more about popular QS gadgets and projects on the West Coast.
Eric: Fitbit is popular now as it saves time on manual data entry. It counts steps, distance, calories burned, quality of sleep, etc. Jawbone recently came out with the Up product (wrist band and iPhone app) that tracks your daily activity and inspires you to live healthier (Read Eric’s post about it). And, Zeo measures brainwave activity in order to detect when you’re asleep and what stage of sleep you’re in (light, deep, REM, etc.).
M: So what kind of self- tracking do you do?
Eric: I started doing different things, like capturing photos and memories from great trips (part of my Personsal Memex project, similar to MyLifeBits). I also would manually track my workouts. I was measuring my caloric intake and physical activity which could then be graphed over time. This helped with analysis of my own activity patterns. I’d also set goals like walking 5 miles a day and even wrote a program that would automatically send me text messages as reminders when I needed to go on walks. I eventually moved away from manual data entry to using different gadgets that automatically capture health-related data (Fitbit, Zeo, Withings, UP, etc.)

M: Why do you think people do self-tracking?
Eric: Mainly to help with motivation and making change happen. If you raise awareness and bring visibility, then people can focus on what’s important. Mint.com is a great example of this model. With the combination of nice graphs and budget reminders, it really helps people pay attention to their spending habits.
M: It helps you track but it doesn’t really tell you yet what goals to set, so they could be very subjective. The app will help achieve goals when you know what you need to work on…
Eric: Some gadgets have software that helps set goals. For example, with Fitbit, you buy the device for $100 then you can sign up for a premium subscription that lets you create goals. It takes into account your age, sex, height (BMI formula). Based on your recent activity it tells you how active you currently are: sedentary, lightly active, active… So it helps set goals… in terms of how many calories you need to burn. Over a 12-week period it will set a reasonable goal to gradually increase your overall activity level by the end of the program.
M: Tell me about some interesting QS projects in the LA area.
Eric: We had a great presentation at the last Meetup event here at LA QS by Bryan Dorsey – WorkFoodOut, who lost over 55 pounds by calorie counting. He eventually turned his calorie counting system into a web application that can be used by other people.
M: It is great that he was so determined and disciplined too. Usually there are so many “nice to haves”, but when do people actually say: “enough is enough, it has to be done now”? When do you decide to finally do what you want to do?
Eric: I think people can reach a tipping point, or a point of no return. Or when there is enough peer pressure or other motivating factors. Say, if you realize that the benefit of doing something is bigger than not doing it, or when the current loss/penalty is way too high… Years ago I participated in a kind of “new year resolution weight loss competition” at work with my buddies. I had to lose 6% of body weight – 13 pounds and it had to be done in 6 weeks; starting after the New Year and completed by Feb 14. Money was involved, and I did it.
Another time, with a similar competition, I did an overly aggressive diet because the penalty was too high: if you didn’t lose weight then you had to pay $100 for every pound that was not lost… To lose 1 pound a week is healthy, but taking onlye 1,000 calories a day is super aggressive (and not recommended at all). But I did it. Peer pressure and a financial penalty really motivate. Since then I’ve learned the secret to setting and reaching realistic goals is moderation.
M: I’m sure peer pressure helps motivation but an accountability partner or mentor would be good too, as long as you are not on your own… But definitely the process is about awareness, benefits/penalties and other motivation.

Lunar Tet Holiday for Poor Children

The Lunar New Year is nearly upon us and the 2012 Tết Holiday in Vietnam is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever before. Here at Volunteers for Peace Vietnam Saigon Branch we are just as excited as everyone else and we want to use this year’s Tết as an opportunity to extend our outreach in Vietnam.

Project Overview

For a new year coming, Tet 2012, we would like to organize a voluntary trip to K’rông Pa, a small village in the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai. We want to try and make a difference to this community (especially for children) in a variety of ways over a 2-3 day trip. Villages like K’rông Pa are often forgotten in popular society and rarely receive voluntary aid; and the local people have a very poor living condition at the moment. We are looking to raise funds to help us make a positive impact in K’rông Pa, hopefully leading to continued efforts in similar communities in the future.

There will be 3 main aspects to the trip:

  • Gift and everyday necessities donation
  • Organisation of traditional games of Tet for children
  • Personal Hygiene guidance

Gifts: We would like to give presents to the local children in celebration of Tết. Ideally we are looking for direct donations of everyday necessities such as food, blankets, clothes, in particular socks and underwear, as well as important items like new mosquito nets and any other items you may feel are relevant to the living conditions. We understand this is not always possible and will also look to raise funds in order to purchase gifts ourselves. Everything will be spread out equally and we hope for every child to receive the same or similar gifts which emphasizes the importance of these donations. This is a great chance to enhance the living standards of these children but also the families who may be too poor to afford these crucial items.

Activities and Games: With 2 or 3 days in Buon Phum, we plan to arrange many activities for the children especially but we would like to involve as many people as possible. We will play traditional Tết games and arrange performances by the VPV volunteers involved in the project and stories around the fire etc. The most special event will be the making of ‘Bánh Chưng’. It is perhaps the most famous food associated with Tết, It is a rice cake with a square shape to represent the earth. The outer layer wraps in green banana leaves. In the middle is pork meat and mung bean to represent animals and plants on earth. It’s a special tradition and will be lots of fun for everyone involved. This will also be a great opportunity for volunteers and local people to share both experiences of living in such contrasting environments and also local customs that either group of people may find interesting.

Personal Hygiene Guidance: Perhaps the most important aspect of the trip will be a Personal Hygiene guidance for villagers to learn more about improving their cleanliness and personal health. It is so important as we hope to develop simple but crucial life skills that will benefit the children especially in later life. If we can get them to understand the significance of brushing your teeth or the most effective way to keep warm in the cooler mountain weather they will be able to avoid simple but devastating health problems that can arise as they get older. As part of the guidance we would like to offer free toiletries, like toothbrushes and toothpaste, soap, toilet paper and other important accessories in hygiene. We need to raise funds in order to create pamphlets that can be distributed amongst locals as well as the amenities mentioned earlier to give out so that we can put the message into practical use for the foreseeable future.

Resources – Available and Required


  • VPV Staff
  • Local Volunteers


As a non-profit organization it is difficult to arrange a project like this which is unrelated to everyday work and provide sufficient funds from within the organization. The fundraising efforts break down into two main areas:

Donations either in actual physical objects, gifts or items for workshop or funds which can be used by VPV to purchase these items. Donors will be made aware of the use of their contributions.

  1. Transportation costs: – there will be around 20 – 30 volunteers taking part in the project. Most are students and will have difficulty in covering transportation costs. The maximum will be 30 and the price per person is estimated around 500,000VND per person. The target transport budget will be 15m VND which will cover the maximum number of volunteers but if we do not reach capacity can be used in the same way as funds donated towards the gift giving or workshop.
  2. Ways of donation: directly at VPV office (88/1B Đào Duy Anh, ward 9, Phu Nhuan district, HCMC) from Monday to Saturday (7:00 am – 9:00 pm) (for local volunteers)
  3. Through Western Union Service / Transfer from Visa card / Pay pal /….. (for international volunteers)

Information of person in charge of fund raising and received your support:

Name: Don Hong Minh

Phone number: +84(915 767 897)

Email: saigon@vpv.vn

ID card number: 111583231

ID card day of issue: Jan 10th 2011

Bank Account: 102 2526 9503 017


Any amount of donation will be highly appreciated (5usd, 10usd,…)

VPV is a trustable organization I volunteered for in 2010. I donated money for this project two years ago and wrote in a blog post about this annual initiative of bringing food to children in the Highlands of Vietnam for Tet. If you feel like making someone happy, it is a good cause. These children live in real poverty, and your presents will brighten their lives!

Re-posted from SaigonOLPC http://wp.me/pKpna-1ik

Hello Handsome My Name is Rose

The first day of school our professor introduced himself and challenged us to get to know someone we didn’t already know. I stood up to look around when a gentle hand touched my shoulder.

I turned around to find a wrinkled, little old lady beaming up at me with a smile that lit up her entire being..

She said, ‘Hi handsome. My name is Rose. I’m eighty-seven years old. Can I give you a hug?’

I laughed and enthusiastically responded, ‘Of course you may!’ and she gave me a giant squeeze..

‘Why are you in college at such a young, innocent age?’ I asked.

She jokingly replied, ‘I’m here to meet a rich husband, get married, and have a couple of kids….’

‘No seriously,’ I asked. I was curious what may have motivated her to be taking on this challenge at her age.

‘I always dreamed of having a college education and now I’m getting one!’ she told me.

After class we walked to the student union building and shared a chocolate milkshake.

We became instant friends. Every day for the next three months we would leave class together and talk nonstop. I was always mesmerized listening to this ‘time machine’ as she shared her wisdom and experience with me..

Over the course of the year, Rose became a campus icon and she easily made friends wherever she went. She loved to dress up and she reveled in the attention bestowed upon her from the other students. She was living it up.

At the end of the semester we invited Rose to speak at our football banquet I’ll never forget what she taught us. She was introduced and stepped up to the podium. As she began to deliver her prepared speech, she dropped her three by five cards on the floor.

Frustrated and a little embarrassed she leaned into the microphone and simply said, ‘I’m sorry I’m so jittery. I gave up beer for Lent and this whiskey is killing me! I’ll never get my speech back in order so let me just tell you what I know.’

As we laughed she cleared her throat and began, ‘ We do not stop playing because we are old; we grow old because we stop playing.

There are only four secrets to staying young, being happy, and achieving success. You have to laugh and find humor every day. You’ve got to have a dream. When you lose your dreams, you die.

We have so many people walking around who are dead and don’t even know it!

There is a huge difference between growing older and growing up.

If you are nineteen years old and lie in bed for one full year and don’t do one productive thing, you will turn twenty years old. If I am eighty-seven years old and stay in bed for a year and never do anything I will turn eighty-eight.

Anybody! Can grow older. That doesn’t take any talent or ability. The idea is to grow up by always finding opportunity in change. Have no regrets.

The elderly usually don’t have regrets for what we did, but rather for things we did not do. The only people who fear death are those with regrets..’

She concluded her speech by courageously singing ‘The Rose.’

She challenged each of us to study the lyrics and live them out in our daily lives. At the year’s end Rose finished the college degree she had begun all those months ago.

One week after graduation Rose died peacefully in her sleep.

Over two thousand college students attended her funeral in tribute to the wonderful woman who taught by example that it’s never too late to be all you can possibly be.

REMEMBER, GROWING OLDER IS MANDATORY. GROWING UP IS OPTIONAL.. We make a Living by what we get. We make a Life by what we give.

This story was forwarded to me by a friend from Canada

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