Life

Xiao Ni is becoming more and more adorable!

Our puppy Xiao Ni is growing! These pictures are captured from the videos my mom sent to me. I apologize for their low quality.😨 It’s difficult for me to capture the moments because the live wire is always moving quickly… I’m just clumsy…

It has been one month since he joined my family! And he grows so fast. It seems his eyes are bigger and brighter than before. What is the most obvious change is his ears. I noticed that these “high-profile” ears were big in the past. Now they become even bigger and stand up just like rabits’ in the cartoons~ Funny and adorable!

To make a comparison, here are some photos taken a month before.

Yes, this puppy likes shoes as his pillows. He is a massive fan of shoes!

I’ve tried many times to capture this one from a video I took before. But it is still blurry. At the same time, I just find one of my favourite videos was deleted mistakenly by me!

A happy puppy playing on the yard!

Below is a photo from a video shot recently. Time is the most extraordinary magician!

Around his neck is a little bell.

Sit down, naughty boy! Good job!

I can’t wait to go back home to cuddle and hang out with him!

Thanks for your reading! Have a fantastic November!

Vera from China

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Life

Kitty and Fall :)

I ran into a loveable kitty on my way to collecting my parcel at dusk.

It was walking in the grass (I don’t know whether it is a boy or a girl), miaowing at me when I noticed it.

It walked sliently, finally sitting under the camphor tree which is green of all time.

It is slender and Its fur is colorful. Yellow, brown, black and white… It seems as if it is dressed in camouflage. Perfect for the grass and leaves in Fall!

Hi, kitten! You elfin of Fall! Nice to meet you:) Don’t look away from my camera. I’m always a pushover to little animals!

Best wishes for your November!

Vera from China

Book reviews

Book review: Oh! Father by Isaka Kotaro

photo of father and daughter running at the park
Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

Oh my goodness!

This was the first sentence that came to my mind when I stumbled into this book.

Can you imagine a family with one mother, one son, and Four Fathers?!
Anyway, I myself can’t imagine it. But it actually exists in the book Oh! Father written by Isaka Kotaro, a Japanese writer who is famous for warm, cozy and imaginative whodunits.

Well, let me introduce this irregular family to you all.

In this family, there is one mother who is an attractive woman and used to have relationships with four men at the same time. When the lady told the four men that she was pregnant, none of them agreed to do a paternity test. So they get married and live together happily… Go figure! She is the head honcho in the family, but seldom appears in the novel.

Here come the fathers! They’re quite different. Since I read the Chinese version, I don’t know their names in English. Let me simply call them A, B, C and D.

A is a university professor. He is very intelligent, knowledgeable and rational. Answering the questions on TV is a cinch for him.

B is a teacher at a high school. He teaches PE. The naughty students are really pain in his neck!

C runs a bar. He is stunningly good-looking, gentle and charming. But he is a little bit shallow. What he really cares about is women. He is an expert in dealing with different kinds of women. He can even easily memorize all those ladies’ phone numbers. No matter how cheesy and corny the pickup lines are, they become very natural and touching when C says them.

D is crazy about gambling and he is quite good at it! Believe it or not, his instinct is unbelievable. Almost everything impossible sounds kind of possible as long as it is said by D!

So no wonder that Yukio, the son of them, excels in study, sports, getting along with girls and…maybe guessing and predicting. That figures. Because he has four fathers who are good at four different fields! However, as an adolescent, Yukio tried to get rid of the effects of his fathers. This novel revolves around the everyday life of Yukio and his fathers, as well as a conspiracy they accidentally get involved in.

For me, it is more of a warm comedy about family. Reading this novel is just like reading a comic. The interaction between Yukio and fathers is quite fun! Yukio is too mature for his age, like an adult! By contrast, his fathers are so cute and kind of childish! Four big boys! Each of them tries to capture any clues that Yukio resembles himself and then becomes really proud of the resemblance. Yes, It is a hot-button issue who is Yukio’s real father, but actually none of fathers really care about it. They love Yukio and their family. That’s enough.

I like the ending very much! It is exciting, thrilling and touching. When Yukio is kidnapped, Fathers come to their son’s rescue in their own way. Each of them makes a contribution to the rescue with his own talent! They take risks just to regain Yukio’s trust in fathers. Yukio feels very grateful. It’s not bad to have four fathers because you can feel four times warmer than others. At the same time, he finds that his fathers are getting old. Meanwhile it comes to his mind that the loneliness will be four times deeper than others when fathers leave. However, No matter what happens, fathers are always by their son’s side.

However, I have to point out some flaws of this book.

In my opinion, it is not beautifully written. Most of this novel is made up of dialogues, just as I say, this novel feels like a comic. We can’t expect many beautiful sentences or descriptions in it. Some accounts, from my point of view, are unnecessary. They don’t work for the plot at all, on the contrary, only to make the novel loose at the first 1/2 part.

Anyway, I think the main aim of this book is to entertain, not to provoke thoughts. It is a relaxing, fun read. If you are looking for some entertaining reads, you can check it out! Read it when you commute. Or pick a beautiful afternoon when you are free, prepare some drink and munchies you like and enjoy this novel which may crack you up and remind you of your dear father!

Have you ever read this book or heard of it? What do you think about it? Have you read novels written by Isaka Kotaro? How do you like them? Share your thoughts in the comment!
Thank you for reading! Have a great day!
Vera from China

Life

Welcome to our family, little dog!

Yes, a little dog becomes a member of my family!

My mother and I found him yesterday. We took a walk after dinner. On our way home, We heard some sound, like a puppy whimpering.

It was totally dark at that time. I turned on the flashlight on the smart phone and discovered the little dog. At first, he was scared, running away and hiding under a car nearby. But when we squated, he started to get close to us!

Then I decided to take him home. The fluffy boy was really energetic, running around the house, jumping up and down and playing with us. A live wire!

My mother recalled that there was a dog in a carton box the day before yesterday, alone in the vegetable market. But She didn’t pay much attention to it.

Then my grandma was back. She mentioned that in fact, there were initially four little dogs in the box when she went to the vegetable market. It had been almost three days. Someone whose dog gave birth to these little dogs left them in the box, hoping that other people would keep them.

In the countryside where I live, it’s a common way to deal with the puppies that the owner fails to give away. Lucky ones will be adopted by others while other unlucky ones will become stray dogs that struggle to live. Usually they can’t live long. They die of starving, car accidents, or the kill by a secret group of people who illegally sell dog meat(I hate them. As long as there’s a dog, these people kill it.They also kill the dogs that have owners!)

Life is so tough.

When my mother and I found this dog, there was no box, just a lonely puppy wandering around the dark market. I guess this one might be the least good-looking among him and his siblings… But I think he is so cute!

Welcome to my family, little dog! May you be healthy and happy!

Notes

How to turn your new behavior into a habit

alphabet blur books close up
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Hi! I’m Vera from China. How are you doing? This is the fifth article in the series about self-development. Today I’m going to share a tip on getting into a good habit. For starters, let me give props to Mr Chen Haixian. This article is based on his course named the Psychology of Self-development.

The principle of the environmental field

In the last article (click here), we have known it is of great significance to take the first small step. However, most of us usually give up halfway. Sticking to new behavior is far from a cinch. As we all know, the journey of improving ourselves is not smooth sailing at all.

To begin with, let me tell you something about China. As far as I know, nowadays in China, where everything is developing so fast, hundreds of thousands of people are striving to study something new, in order to catch up with the cut-throat society. We have many apps about study. We have plenty of premium courses online and we pay for them. We are so desperate to study that some people think we are living in a society filled with anxiety about knowledge.

It is a typical situation. A Chinese person, maybe a student or a commuter, finally get home and can enjoy some leisure time. He or she decides to watch TV during dinner, and then to hunker down for new knowledge or skills. But usually he or she ends up in binge-watching TV series or getting hooked on the smart phone. Then it’s time for bed. It always happens. Do you have the same experience?

That goes for me as well. It’s a terrible experience to fail to control myself every day. I’m not satisfied with what I do. Sometimes I even blame myself. But how come we can’t stop doing like this?

Mr Chen distinguishes two kinds of happiness.

One is called the happiness of consumption, like going shopping, playing video games, watching TV, playing on the smart phone, etc. During the process of consuming, we’re consuming something that other people create. It gives us sensuous comforts and our inner elephant likes it the most!

The other is called the happiness of creation, like studying, writing, working, etc. During the process of creating, we’re immersed in a sense of accomplishment, as well as a feeling of becoming a better self. It’s definitely our rational inner rider’s favourite!

The happiness of consumption is easy to get, but it’s easy to disappear too, just like a fair-weather friend. The other, on the contrary, is harder to achieve but lasts longer. It’s like a mentor. Both of them are necessary. However, because the elephant usually beats the rider, the two kinds of happiness are not in proportion.

What can we do to pursue the happiness of creation? It’s helpful to know the principle of the environmental field! (I hope the translation is OK)

The environmental field includes a lot of clues for actions. These clues will stimulate you to do something specific. For example, a study room includes books, spotless desks, stationery, bright light, quite atmosphere and other people who are studying together. In a study room, it’s easier for you to get started.

This theory can explain the typical situation we have mentioned above.

In our house, clues about entertainment, rest, study and work always mix up together. When we are having meals, taking a break, ready to go to bed, there may be something like books and papers beside that remind us of unfinished work and study. When we are trying to concentrate on our missions and assignments, perhaps there are always smart phones, video games, snacks, soft sofa around us, which create a cozy environment. It’s quite difficult for us to resist these temptations with willpower alone. We are distracted all the time.

In a nutshell, the environmental field is our assumption about what a certain space is for. Our inner elephant, as the emotional part of ourselves, is quite sensitive to the environment.

To get into a good habit, let’s start from creating the environmental field!

adult back view blur book
Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

How to keep an environmental field for yourself

The wonderful power of the environmental field has two sources!

One is the other people’s behavior in a certain space.

Where there are lot of people doing the same kind of things, there is always a strong atmosphere that has great influence on us. We raise the roof at a party or in a rock music concert. We keep quiet and focus on books in the library. It’s easy to understand why most of Chinese students say that it’s the three years of senior high school when we’re the most diligent!

The other is what you used to do in a certain space.

However, it’s not realistic to look for a place filled with hardworking people every time we want to be focused. In this case, why not create and keep a specific space for ourselves?

If we do the same thing in a certain space on purpose, this space will have its memory! Yes! The purer the thing we do is, the longer we do in the area, the stronger the power of the environmental field is! And it’s easier for us to reinforce our new behavior and then get into a new habit!

To create our own space, remember, be specific and keep practicing.

Be specific. If you want to create a space for study, you need to offer your inner elephants as much specific clues as possible. Make your desk spick and span. Only keep the books related to your study on the desk. No snacks next to you. Keep away from your smart phone. Some inspiring sentences on the sticky notes would be better!

Keep practicing in this space. Keep doing the same kind of things in this space. The more you do, the more likely for you to get into a habit! Gradually, one day you will find you can make it automatically in this space, without strong willpower!

The theory of environmental field can be applied to any other aspects of our life! For example, an environmental field just for sleep, an environmental field for a couple to frankly communicate with each other and all that jazz.

Create our own space and stick to it! Maybe one day it will work wonders! Now it’s high time we took the first small step!

That’s it for today! I have recommended this tip to two of my friends, and they find it very useful. By the way, I’m also trying to put it into practice, getting into a new habit I’m longing for! To have a good night’s sleep and get up early, I don’t put my phones or tablet on the bed. Now my bed is only for sleep. Yeah, it’s a small change, but it works for me. Give it a shot!

What habit do you want to get into? What are you going to do to create a specific space for it? Leave a comment down below!

Thanks for reading! If you are interested in this series about self-development, follow my blog to get more information! Best wishes!

Vera from China

Notes

Get up and get going!

person writing on white book
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Hi, everyone! I’m Vera from China, ready to share another useful tip with you on how to make positive changes. For starters, let me give props to Mr Chen Haixian, a great Chinese psychological counselor teaching the course named the Psychology of Self-development. This article is a note based on the course.

This how-to article will give you a practical tip on how to take action.

Miracle questions: What if our dreams come true

As we all know, it’s important to break big goals down into small chunks. But in my experience, taking action——even a small step—— is a pain in the neck. There’re two parts inside myself. One is a strong elephant, representing the emotional part. The other is a rider, standing for the rational part. The rider is always trying to persuade the elephant to work hard and do something meaningful. But the emotional elephant sometimes doesn’t take the advice, and even in turn tells the rider into giving up. Though we rationally vote for the rider, we usually end up surrendering to the elephant!

It happens. So don’t label yourself lazy, inclined to be tempted or something else. With miracle questions, it will be easier to make our strong elephant step out of the comfort zone!

Yes, ask ourselves: What would it be like if our dreams came true?

This tip seems unbelievably simple, but it has been proved to be effective in psychological counselling.

To protect itself from failure as well as disappointment, the elephant tend to refuse to leave the comfort zone, and even refuse to imagine how wonderful it will be if we really attain our goals. It’s a defense mechanism. One of the examples Mr Chen mentions will explain how miracle question work.

This visitor was a college student. He had to finish four courses before graduating, otherwise he would end up as a dropout. But he indulged himself playing online games all day long, never going out.

In the small village where he grew up, He was the first college student admitted to a prestigious university. People there usually took him as a good example to encourage their children. His graduation, as well as a decent job, would mean a lot to his family. Under high pressure, he was too stressed to be focused.

He said he didn’t care about graduation. The worst consequence would be doing manual jobs, and at least he would get by. What he said was not real, it was because the inner elephant lost confidence and got cold feet due to high pressure.

One day, Mr Chen asked him: ‘ If the miracle appeared and you successfully graduated, what would happen?’

He shook his head and said he didn’t want to think of those meaningless thing. As what we mentioned before. It is a defense mechanism to avoid disappointment.

But Mr Chen insisted: ‘It doesn’t matter. Just imagine. ’

He started to think. He said he would find a job in the capital city of his home town. If he didn’t make it, he would teach in his high school. When he talked about this, there was a sparkle in the eyes.

Mr Chen continued to ask: ‘Now think, If you finally make it, reflecting on the process, what is the first step you take that leads to the success?’

He said:‘At least a regular routine, just like going to the dining hall on time, is necessary in the first place.’

Then Mr Chen asked: ‘OK, are you able to do it?’

This is what a wonder question is. How does it work? Our mind is magical. If we look forward, we tend to see the obstacles. If we look back, we tend to see methods and ways. That is the subtle difference. When we imagine that something good has happened and then we look back, we actually make a detour and avoid the defense mechanism. The inner elephant won’t think about how difficult to achieve our goals, instead, it begins to think how the success happens.

During the psychological counseling, they didn’t talk about how to study and pass the exams. These tasks would scare the elephant away. Instead, they just talked about going to the dining hall on time. This was a small change that student could do and have confidence to do.

Small changes work wonders. When we take the first small step, we gain a new experience, our mental immune system start to change a little and most often more small changes will ensue.

Bear it in mind, don’t fight with your inner elephant face to face. We need to make a detour and avoid the defense mechanism instead.

To be in the moment

But, what if we take the first step and then we fail?

In Mr Chen’s opinion, the aim of taking small steps is not to achieve success, instead, it is to get going. It is what we can do at present that matters.
If we’re unwilling to take action without the promise of ultimate success, changes will never happen. So don’t let ourselves stuck in this fixed mode of thinking.

Let’s just take a small step first. Concentrate on what we can do at the moment. We can’t control whether the outcome is good or not , so we don’t need to care about it.

Just get up and get going. Starting is half the battle!

That’s it for today! Now let me ask you a miracle question! Imagine that you have achieved your goal, when you reflect on the process, what was the first step you took? Leave a comment down below!

Thank you for reading all the way through! I’m so glad!

By the way, this article is one of the lecture notes about self-development. If you are interested in it, check out the others!

Click here to know the essence of making a change.

Click here to know what our comfort zone is.

Click here to know some useful tips on how to overcome fears!

Warm wishes!

Vera from China