Minimalist’s Charming Gift

Nathan Writing Here… In our journey into minimalism we have found out a lot about ourselves that we never thought would be possible if we had not taken this journey. Before minimalism I always looked at giving gifts as a way to demonstrate ones worth towards another individual. With so much commercialism today we are […]

via The Worth of a Gift —


I Only Know Contentment

May I offer you a contentment pictogram coin and a scoop of clear, sweet water from the contentment well in the shape of coin for the Year of Monkey in 2016! Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Contentment well.jpg

Today we have two more days of the Year of Lamb. This morning there was a terrible earthquake in Southern Taiwan, buidlings collapsed and many were affected. On average every Taiwanese investor lost about USD20,000 in the Year of Lamb.

2015 had been a very difficult year for Taiwan corporations and retail investors. Exports tumbled for months, stock prices of some many decades old blue-chip companies plunged because of a new pension law requiring them to set aside huge amount for pension of employees (these companies have many retired or about to retire babyboomers) and yesterday the most profitable financial conglomerate announced their investment disputes with Delta Lloyd, a Dutch insurance company, that has lost about 60% of its market value this year. Not to mention China’s stock market phenomenal rallies, junk bond and foreign currency depreciation problems (70% of Taiwanese fund investors bought junk bond funds, in particular pensioners were advised to buy junk bonds in South African Rand  to jack up their fixed income with 13% annual payouts.The rand has been plummeting drasticly with recent changes of finance ministers.)

People in US may have very different stories and probably have reaped lots of profits from stock markets and the most thriving economy around the world.
All the emerging markets in Asia, South America, Africa , Russia and even rich Arab countries are in dire conditions. Europe and Japan may be hopeful, but who knows? Anything can happen any time to turn things around.

Though I try very hard to keep up with world business news on the internet or with Barron’s, Bloomberg and even DW TV, not to mention BBC or CNN, Financial Times or Wall Street Journal, it is not much use because all news are outdated when compared to market changing from moment to moment. Many countries in Europe have negative interest rates. I have thrown up my hands on what to do on my finance and tell myself I have enough as long as my spending is within my means.The best personal finance condition is to have just enough to live and not to have to wring the brain to decide about investments with markets going up and down.

For almost a whole year my electric bill was zero because I used less than last year and the drop of oil prices, now I pay US$2-3 a month.My water bill is about US$5 monthly because any water used for washing would be used to flush the toilet  etc. My grocery and transportation expenses run around US$75 to 120 per month. That is minimalist living but still a very good life compared to many living below One US dollar a day.

The library is my office for writing, research and other work. I use their computers and databases for free, the MIS department and young librarians help me resolve any computer glitches. I managed to self-publish two ebooks at Amazon around Thanksgiving and hoped to donate all revenues to  a French father’s nursing home project for the aging mentally challenged in East Taiwan. I am ashamed to say that I have not donated a single penny yet because of my unsuccessful marketing efforts or  maybe the lack of interests on the subject matter, my writing is just not good enough or it just takes time. If anyone would care to share or comment about how I can improve, I would be most grateful.I have never done any facebook or twitter until this Thanksgiving.

Kazuo Inaomori, the Japanese billionaire priest, is my hero and model. I have read all his books that I can get hold of and try to live by his advice to recognize when one has received enough and to do the right thing. I feel very blessed that I have received enough and really enjoy learning so much every day from all the resources and help I have received around me.

I Only Know Enough


(more on pictograms of “I only know enough”)

I hope I am doing the right thing sharing in writing what I have learnt about Chuang Tzu’s wisdom on conflicts and loss and Su Shih’s contentment and happy life despite his poverty and loss of loved ones in exile due to injustice. My new year resolution is to learn how to  share more effectively with those interested or have the need to know about how to be free and easy amidst conflicts, loss, stress or dislocation.

Happy New Year! May you have true wisdom to do the right thing in 2016. Freeasy Peace to you!







Calligraphy East and West

When Isabelle brilliantly combined traditional Chinese and English in her calligraphy drafts, Thich Nhat Hahn’s English calligraphy immediately came to mind. View a video on his calligraphy meditation.

Compare the renowned Cold Meal Scroll in semi-cursive script by Su Shih (1037-1101) with his friend’s cursive calligraphy . The cursive style can be wild and illegible, but this one is more restrained.

Cold Meal Scroll  Cursive Calligraphy

Isabelle’s calligraphy is mostly semi-cursive and cursive scripts. “Running script” is the semi-cursive form and “grass script” is the cursive. The running aspect of this script has more to do with the formation and connectedness of strokes within an individual character.

After working  at the Science and Technology Division at Taipei Representative Office in Europe and UK  for many years, Isabelle Chen Chia Yu pursues her passion in Calligraphy and  Chinese painting of flowers and birds after retirement.

Isabelle and Calligraphy  Isabelle and Calligraphy 1 Isabelle's long calligraphy 1

Isabelle's long calligraphy 2

Many thanks for her support in donating six works on favorite quotes of Chuang Tzu and Su Shih for promoting their thoughts and way of life with the ebooks Free Easy Mind and Millennium Charm on Amazon for the cause of Anders Home.

We worked under the same boss many years ago when she was a librarian and myself a science editor at National Science Council in Taiwan. Ten years later we were colleagues again for a couple years when she was working on international science cooperation and myself on science policy research after a switch to marketing. It is inconceivable that our path would cross again decades later on calligraphy and writing on ancient Chinese wisdom and way of life to bridge East and West for peace.


A Home for the Angry & Hopeless

The San Bernardino shooting was a big shock to everyone. I went to graduate school at one of the UC campuses nearby many, many years ago. It was a desolate place for someone growing up in the hustle-bustle of Asian cities. Who could imagine a terrorist attack would be initiated by someone with a good paying respectable job, a newborn infant and a comfortable home? Unemployed young Muslim chaps in France or Belgium radicalized by ISIS might be easier to understand.

It reminds me of Japan with some horrible stories of killing by the most unexpected people and even junior high students from time to time. I read an article in Huffington Post about Richard Gere’s Homeless movie, the author condemned Americans averting from losers and failures. She did  mention homeless is a problem in all countries. Images of a documentary on how mentally ill people in Africa were chained to trees came to my mind and then a pastor who was once one of them resurrected many with his born again mission and charity  for the mentally ill.

For months, I walked home at night in fear because there was a homeless man who would breakdown in horrifying tantrums once in a while outside a MRT station where he slept and kept all his belongings on a wheeled office chair and a bike. Sometimes he would hang his laundry on the raincoat rack outside the National Library nearby. There are many homeless and mentally unstable people in that library. The kind librarians are human punchbags for them to lash out their anger ignited by the most trivial and unreas0nable matters.Sometimes they would pick a fight with other readers. Policemen stationed at the library would not appear even the frantic librarians paged them nonstop. When they finally came, they would just take the exploded human bomb outside and let them lash out in screams and shouts for an hour or more. Sometimes they would call their families who would say there was nothing more anyone could do or they were abandoned and estranged.

Once it was reported in the news a homeless nun had a PhD. degree.There is a homeless woman who reads Jane’s Defense Journal in English. She had an episode in the library once, she shouted,”Shameless Taiwanese!” She was right, after reading the billionaire acquitted for selling adulterated cooking oil or owner of the water park that had a fire killing fifteen people so far and injuring hundreds, the park was untouched by prosecution but the event entrepreneur was sentenced for five years in jail.

Another elderly lady lives alone would lie down in the library senior center when she had been sick for days even though she owns a few expensive properties. The librarian called the ambulance, the paramedics checked her vitals or blood sample and took her home when she refused to be sent to the hospital.

The compassion of the librarians is admirable. I must admit the library offered me a real home for free bibliotherapy (reading and writing) when I was hopeless with grief in a home without a family.

Though the National Library is for research, it has become a home for the homeless, helpless or hopeless when there are very few if any proper shelters in Taiwan, functional care programs for elderly living alone or families who have given up on the mentally ill. Yet the angry can be human time tombs that may explode even though guns are hard to come by and ISIS is not yet in Taiwan. Mass or individual killings with knives for cutting watermelon or fruits are always in the news.

The family or neighbors of the San Bernardino shooter did not spot any abnormal sign of the shooting couple.Obviously there was not a real home to vent out their anger or despair.

My adorable late husband once missed dinner and came home very late one night. He listened to an angry wife badmouthing her husband (his staff) for six hours. I asked him why didn’t he take her out for dinner. He said she would not stop talking if she was not hungry.

No matter how evil or heartless it may seem, everyone has a story behind the actions, if only someone cared to listen and understand.

Doing Good & Disenfranchised Youth

Some years ago I took a job at a Christian Youth Nonprofit to address unemployment issues of the young disenfranchised who were school dropouts, street gangs or addicts in and out of correctional facilities in Taiwan. It was very difficult to get traditional employers to hire them and even they did the quit rates were high within days or weeks. The kids found those jobs boring and unbearable but they loved computers. INTEL had funded a computer center at a youth center and the kids there even won INTEL’s global youth art contest. I worked out with the social workers and computer director at the center to start a photo digitization service business targeting churches, in particular seniors who have the money, time and desire to preserve their fading photos in albums. We all thought the idea was very  promising. My superior insisted our role was in securing government funding for the centers, the social workers or computer director wanted me to lead the project and insisted on their professional expertise is not running a  youth business. But graffiti contests were  on my superior’s top agenda.

I had a similar experience working on a project on ethnic care giving in US. Transportation and bilingual ethnic caregiver referral service were crucial unfulfilled needs from my research findings but my superior wanted to shoot a video to show caregivers how to push wheelchairs properly.

This Danish movie about  a boy and his family harassed by an abusive principal is difficult to imagine in a more developed country even a few decades ago. The boy’s aspiration of Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” also surprised me. I remembered a Norwegian in his late teens  at a Thai Forest Monastery in England. He told me he was an addict in street gangs before he started reading Lao Tzu and then went onto Buddhist soul searching. It humbled me because I did not really understand Lao Tzu’s teachings then.

Youth and ethnic communities are difficult to work with. They may have become disenfranchised by injustice and discrimination. The anger, hatred and despair or their nature are often ignored when administrators have their own agendas.

To do good we cannot force our good on others but we need to feel good about what we want to do as well. Bring out the good and charm of the disenfranchised youth!

“Forcing things to happen will lead to danger” (Chuang Tzu)




Free from Conflicts and Loss with 8 Steps of “Do Without” Charm

Conflicts arise when people have different views and then we are trapped in a tug of war. We are trapped in loss when we attach, would not let go or associate with whatever or whoever we are dealing with.

The meaning of Hanji or Chinese Characters of “Danshari” is detach, let go and dissociate.(Some parts are similar to Chuang Tzu’s teachings and Zen).

Problem at Hand : (e.g.Conflicts and Loss)

Free Easy Ways of Danshari

  1. What am I determined to do?
  2. Identify problem, understand cause and nature of things? 
    Problem: Conflicts and Loss
    Cause and Nature of Conflict: (Zen and Chuang Tzu)
    Cause and Nature of Loss:
  3. What cannot be changed?
    Identify. Accept. (Chuang Tzu) Detach, let go and dissociate .
  4. Rise beyond and view from above.
    (Chuang Tzu. Also remember “See one and not the loss”)
  5. What can be done?
  6. How to innovate unique interpretation?
    New Unique Interpretation:
    Need (Is there a real need?)
    Fit (Does it fit?)
    Comfortable (Do you feel at ease with it? Chuang Tzu)
  7. Self-reliant, free and easy (Chuang Tzu)
  8. Love and affirm