Out n’ About in ZZ

Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.
~ Marcus Aurelius

My fourth week here in Zhengzhou, China has been full and beautiful and falling into a simple and every day routine of discovery!  I have felt the support and interest and love from my new community and from friends back home as I got over the creepy crud… I’ve begun to get the process at my school and teaching the students… I’ve made some connections outside of my school colleagues… and I realize I’m enjoying the heck out of this new experience here in ZZ!

I’d been dealing with tummy troubles for a couple of weeks and then I was also hit with a respiratory ailment as well.  None of this is unusual as my mom reminded me, my whole body and person is adjusting to everything new!  I also learned that this time here in ZZ is a cold and flu season with the change in the weather, etc., it is common this time of year for people to suffer these flu-like symptoms (I am becoming apart of the whole here in ZZ). My colleague Crystal’s uncle, lovingly made me a special tea that included Eucalyptus which as an expectorant helped to clear-up my respitory grumblings and the antibacterial benefits positively helped my belly, along with the ginger/cinnamon/honey tea I also drank.  The uglies ran their course and I have now rejoined the land of the living!

During these two weeks I realized eating fresh veg/no oil/no salt was a good thing for my belly and my pocket-book! I’ve had two daughters telling me this for years and they’re right!  I’m blessed to live in a city with a fresh produce market on literally every corner.  The choices of fruit and veg are astounding, from the familiar to the totally-and-completely-what-the-heck-is-that?!  I can stop each night at the market pick-up the most interesting and freshest vegetables along with my yogurt and sparkling water and prepare it in my cozy kitchen with the view of the city through that big picture window of mine!

I also enjoyed the generosity of a couple of local people showing me a bit of ZZ.  I was hosted for a morning at the Henan Provincial Museum!  The main museum/observatory is closed for renovations, so we were only able to visit the Annex.  The entrance is free by showing your identification/passport.  The museum has docents with bluetooth devices for groups to hear details about the exhibits. And the relics, in a word, WOW!  One cannot imagine the detail of the bronze and copper metal works on display!  The exhibited works were displayed by dynasty which in itself was an interesting history lesson!  The artisans of the time did such intricate and detailed work, I was blown away!  Beside a very large metal vessel, was a video depicting how the detailed designs were created… the designs were created in stone, the shape of the vessel and the scrolling and creation of the dragons and other motifs, and then a mold of sorts was fashioned with the molten metal then being poured in between the stone mold.  The intricate design work meant that the stone carving, etching, etc., was quite detailed.  I also believe that each mold could be used just once! In the Annex there were just two musical instruments, one was a flute made from the femur of a Crane!  And a hanging assortment of bells that was used for specific rituals.  There weren’t any textiles displayed at this time at the Annex.  I am excited and anxious to visit the completed main museum, which I’m told should re-open sometime in 2017.

I visited the Flower/Antique/Pet Mart in the northern part of ZZ.  I’d been wanting to visit here and plan to return to purchase a few plants for my flat!  I was amazed at the number of citrus trees there are available for rooftop or patio gardening here in the City!  The sheer variety of plants was astounding, any sort of palm one could imagine, to vines, to cacti and succulents, to bamboo, and amazing trees.  Pots and baskets galore and I didn’t even make it to the cut flower area!  The pet area showed dogs, cats, birds, mice, hamsters, nearly every sort of pet imaginable for sale.  The breeders did keep the larger breeders in cages, which was heart breaking to see.  I do have to say, I haven’t seen stray cats or dogs on the streets only pampered pets being carted around and catered to. The Mart also had a large area for calligraphy art and included matting and framing shops with other various medium for sale, too.

On the same morning I visited the Mart, I also was introduced to the second-hand store here in ZZ which is really a place to commission a savvy techy to make the computer of your dreams!  There is a plethora of computer hardware and plenty of stalls of techs to hobble together any sort of PC you can imagine!  I’m a Mac user, and though I didn’t see used Macs for sale, I did see plenty of Apple accessories available, new and used.  The six-story building also played host to electric bicycle stalls, jewelry (jade and gold) stalls, camping/picnicking/hiking stalls (picnicing is huge here in China), there were stringed intruments stalls, and various clothing stalls, as well.  It was an interesting place and I saved its location and the Mart’s to my favorites so I could return.



As I made my way on my e-bike to connect with my hosts for these outings, I explored a bit on my own.  I found the over one hundred year old campus of Henan University.  The entrance is grand and brings on into an open quad shaded by beautiful trees.  The hustle and bustle was the same as any university campus in the States.  I’d like to visit the campus and attend some talks or the like, I’m looking into some possibilities here.  I also visited a boarding school for high schoolers.  Boarding school for middle and high school is common here in ZZ.  This particular campus was quite large and at first I thought it was a university.

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I keep making my way round the city and my circle of familiarity with streets and buildings, etc., is improving the more I get out n’ about.  I continue to be amazed at the way the people move on the streets and in traffic together… it is an organized chaos that inevitable works pretty successfully every day. I think it’s a testament to matter-of-factly moving about one’s business everyday with the intent of arriving safely and successfully, and so this ripples out to everyone, all intent on the same keeping each other whole as well.

Broadening my connections and interests here in ZZ, I’ll be joining an international public speaking group, I’ll begin a fitness and mediation routine, and I’ll begin exchange English language tutoring for Chinese language tutoring! I have always been intrigued by the formality of presentation and the art of public speaking so I thought I would explore Toastmasters here in ZZ.  Low and behold there are like over half a dozen clubs throughout the city!  I made the connection with Alice at a local club which meets on one of my off days, so I will begin attending these meetings.  I also have had an interest in Tai Chi and I have found a connection to a group that meets in the park each morning from nine to eleven… so I’m totally going to explore the Ying version of Tai Chi beginning this week!

Life is beginning in earnest for me here in Zhengzhou! Stay tuned…

The dreaded belly ache…


“There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before. ” ~ Henry David Thoreau

Photo courtesy of the web and Master120

I’m know I’m not that unique, really more usual than anything, and well I’ve been visited by the dreaded Travelers Diarrhea!  Not to share too much information, but it is a very real experience for many and I’ll share my experience in overcoming this dreaded visitor! Anyone traveling should be prepared for the occasional bout by bringing remedies from home, though one should never let it disrupt our joy of discovering all a place has to offer!

I’ve been as careful as can be, using the Grayl water bottle filter, drinking boiled water, or filtered water, and also being very aware of what I am eating of the local faire.  Truly knowing a place is eating the local food and there are so many options here in ZZ!  The symptoms have come from I think ice cubes in a cocktail at an expat watering hole!  I did read the good advice that bottled beverages (beer) are advisable for drinking when ones out-n-about to avoid the happenstance of tap water ice cubes, but I forgot as the fun evening got away from me!

So what to do now with these horrible symptoms?

I did pack my over-the-counter medications like Immodium AD and Pepto Bismol as advised for these sorts of problems, but their effectiveness is waning.  And besides, because I will be here for a long duration, it is best to find a natural remedy so as to not mess up my body’s healthy functioning! The symptoms of diarrhea are due to any number of things, and oft-times medicine can abate the symptoms though further aid an imbalance in the gut; this is why I normally opt for a natural remedy and I’m blessed with the ingredients for these with fresh food markets at every corner in my city!

I took the OTC medicine for a bit over a week and the symptoms kept recurring, so drastic measures were called for!  Just twenty-four hours on the BRAT diet and with the tea and water, I am already feeling better!  I’m a believer in more natural, homeopathic ways of treating things, so this is ideal for me!  I’ve also reached out through chat groups and with the locals I have met, to find a Accupuncturist and herbalist as I believe that will be the best answer for this imbalance in my body.

First off, I am limiting my food intake to the BRAT diet naturally bland, binding foods (Bananas, Chicken Broth, Rice, Applesauce,Toast).  I am also introducing a yoghurt as a natural probiotic and I am drinking a Ginger/Cinnamon/Honey Tea concoction along with plenty of water.  There are also remedies that call for lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar, and many more… you’ll find which works best for you.

These sorts of symptoms are common when traveling, visiting new areas anywhere, and trying new foods or even just over-indulging!  The natural remedies offer a gentle and effective solution, while also balancing the body’s functions, and they can be used anywhere, anytime!

I hope this helps you… I’m feeling better by the minute!






Jingle Bells, every day in ZZ…


As a regular occurence, several times throughout the day, the street cleaner drives through my neighborhood (which is also near my work), and as the streets are washed the driver has the song Jingle Bells blaring out over loud-speaker!  Now mind you it has been over 32°C with humidity close to ninety percent and it is late third quarter of the year… Christmas is over four months away and this is an atheist country anyway! When I hear this happy, familiar tune, I smile and then giggle, sometimes outwardly, but mostly inside at the quirky, craziness of it all!

That’s how life is here in China, pleasantly quirky and crazy at the same time!

As I drive home down a wide, one-way boulevard, there is construction of high-rise apartments on either side as the city prepares for exponential growth in the next few years.  Automobiles must travel one directions, though the e-bikers and pedestrians are walking willy-nilly either direction and often times in the middle of the street.  There are also a myriad of restaurants and markets, and retailers.  One market owner places a loud-speaker on a chair on the very wide sidewalk and passersby can hear him calling out prices on produce and other such sundry items he has in his market. This market is always packed,too, by the way!

Amid the hustle and bustle on the street are many city dwellers walking their dogs!  There are so many pets here in my city, I am wowed! It’s akin to my beloved San Francisco where all the city dwellers have pets and there’s a pet park within every four block area or so.  I don’t know enough of the ZZ city to know if there are dog parks here, but I’m anxious to know!  It is clearly evident that these people love their pets, and I see dogs of all types, big small, Golden Retrievers, Standard and small Poodles, Bichon, and Cairn Terrier’s, too!  I’m amazed, just last evening arriving home outside my apartment building was a gent with two small, longhaired white pups at his feet on his e-bike! Much like home, just quirkier and a bit crazier!

There seems to be a specialty hospital or car facility, and a school, placed a mid these many retailers, restaurants, and apartments.  So among the pedestrians and e-bikers there are people pushing wheel chairs and baby carriages, and families packed by fours on two-wheeled e-bikes, and delivery men with packages piled high on e-bikes (two, sometimes three wheelers).  The cacophony of sound coupled with the brightly colored attire of the citizenry, and the brightly colored business lighting and signage, against the city-dinginess of the scene, and the overhead pollution, just adds to the quirky, crazy vibe of the city here.

Mid last week, I was in the market at the base of my apartment building, getting familiar with the wares in this market and picking up a few staples for my apartment.  Ohmygoodness, I was perspiring so badly as it must have been ten degrees warmer in the cramped market. I’d taken a tissue from my handbag and was dabbing my temples, and face… let’s face it, I was mopping up my face and neck from the dripping sweat!  Well, tissue here in China is quite thin and as I wiped and dabbed my face and neck, small pieces of the tissue were left behind.  Everywhere I go, people notice me because I’m tall and blonde, fair-skinned and blue-eyed and they often stare.  It was no different here in the market, but what I didn’t know was that I had tissue all over my face!  I learned finally because a very kind lady, nudged me and pointed at my cheek, where I promptly found the remnants of the tissue!  These people probably thought me quirky and crazy!

From my writing desk I peer out over the rooftops of several buildings.  I can see window boxes of vegetables and herbs and boxes and trellis atop of buildings with the promise of budding veg and fruit.  Many of the fenced communities that I pass on my way to work, have vines of squash over growing metal fences into public streets, and fig trees providing shade for the bright orange Trumpet Vine.  Accompanying this scene is the pleasant-faced, humming and oft whistling street sweeping man or woman donning a bright reflective orange vest, with a huge natural bristled broom, sweeping and cleaning the street for a four or five block stretch.  People in taxis, and cars, and e-bikes whizz by seemingly unawares of the goings on around them; life is quirky and crazy and even a beautiful here in my new home.

I’ve been waking just before sunrise and arriving home just about sunset.  I have found a sweet spot just a door from my apartment, on the outside staircase of my building.  I sit there, on the stairs and watch as the sky lights up for the day or as the day closes and the colorful sky fades to black.  It’s here that I reflect on what the day will bring or how the day is ending.  It is here, that I have been meditating in thanks and gratitude for all the blessings I have in life ~ the love of friends new and old, courage and the heart to try new things and to take risks… And ah, I here that jingle coming hither again as it blasts from the street cleaner… My heart is full, in this new and beautifully quirky and slightly crazy new place I’m calling home.

Life is right in any case…

IMG_2461 (Priime Zion)

“Knowing love I allow all things to come and go, to be as supple as the wind, and to take everything that comes with great courage, love, kindness, goodness, and patience. Life is right in any case. My heart is open as the sky.” ~Kama Sutra: A love story


Three weeks today, since I arrived in China, in my new city ZZ (Zhengzhou) and began my new job!  It’s been an incredibly positive experience meeting new people, facing new situations, and circumstances in a totally new world, a place where I knew no one, and whose customs and culture I knew nothing about!

I’m finding I like it here in this new place!  I’m enjoying the people and the scenery.  I’ve written previously about how I’d had a desire to live in the heart of a city, to be able to walk for coffee, and to the market, and to the hardware store… and here I am literally living a dream, here in China I’m doing what I’d dreamed! So much has happened in such a short time!

I’m settling into my work here. The environment is akin to my children’s schools when they were wee ones in primary and middle school days – it’s a school.  The children, though Chinese, are similar in many ways, though I have to say these Chinese youngsters seem predominantly happier than most American children at the same age.  When asked, “How are you today?”, inevitably the answer is, “I am happy!”, accompanied by a huge toothy smile (or toothless as it may be)! I’m adjusting to the rhythm of the work, which is after school hours, so late afternoon and evening, and all day Saturday and Sunday’s.  And I’m adjusting to the workplace culture as it is mixed with Chinese locals and English-speaking foreigners from around the world! Already I can see myself comfortably in this role for three years or more.  This, too, this living and working in another culture, has been a dream of mine as well… so, thus far I am doubly blessed!

Recently I’ve enjoyed engaging in conversation with the foreign teachers and the subject of moving in and out, the transient life-style, the very transient nature of this work (teaching English as a foreign language) has come up as a topic of discussion.  A couple of the foreigners related the sense of starting over, more than beginning again, rather a leaving a life behind, was what this job has offered them. I found the idea new and the thought intriguing.  These foreigners, one mid twenty something and the other possibly early forties or so, both here more than two years in the same role.  They shared that this work was far from their minds when they accepted the positions.  That further they found that since working and being in China, they had changed in a myriad of ways, bettering themselves by working with children for one thing, and then the whole expat experience of relying upon others and supporting other foreigners as they have come and gone.  It boiled down to relationships and how they have learned to relate better to others, and to come to accept that their people are now here in China.

Though I could understand this way of thinking, this startling idea of leaving relationships and another life behind, it is different for me. I have such ties back home.  I have desires to see more of the world and to live in other places, with other people, and in other cultures, though I’ve not thought of leaving anyone or anything behind… though I suppose in reality that is what physically happens.

Going into my second week here in China, there was a serious change of circumstances in my family back home.  These changes impacted family, two people I care greatly about, and one of them is my daughter.  Upon her return home from traveling for a couple of months herself, she returned to be abruptly asked to leave where she lived and to leave within a couple of days.  She had been traveling for over thirty hours, returned on a Friday and would begin work on the following Monday.  Her phone was disconnected and her SIM card from her travels didn’t work in the US, and she also has a dog and the house was full of my furnishings that were hers now.

Well the expectation for a physical move of this magnitude in a bit more than twenty-four hours, wasn’t possible, establishing new cell service and simply finding temporary housing for her and for her dog, was the priority. Thank heavens for friends and family, at a nearer distance than me, to help and lend verbal support. There is a mixture of being hugely let down, one of severe disappointment and betrayal, all coupled with the overwhelmingly good feelings knowing of the support of my daughter’s friends and their families, and of some of my extended family have been, as well.

Also, my cousin’s son is getting married today!  Theirs’s has been a long-time, long distance relationship, and they’re finally getting married.  The family is gathering to be present for this great celebration and fun time!  Having so many of us together in one place is a cause for celebration in itself, and I long to be there with everyone!

All of these things have impacted my mother of nearly eighty.  The swing of emotions, the feelings of surprise and disappointment at someone dearly close to her and their recent poor behavior, her deep concern for them, and their lack of connectivity, her other daughter living some six thousand miles away in a new city, and her concern for her grandaughter… then there’s the excitement and planning for this upcoming wedding celebration and seeing family and friends.  It’s just a whole lot for anyone.

My point is this, for me, life back home didn’t just stop for me.  I don’t know quite how to extricate myself from people I love; relationships are key for me – period, full-stop.  The notion of leaving a life behind, just isn’t possible for me.  It isn’t possible for me on any level to be indifferent to people and circumstances, even at a distance.

I further recognize the great ripple of energy, even across oceans and continents from one of us to another.  The choices we make, on every level in our lives, impacts others.  Empathy and compassion, and time are good things.  Pausing and responding rather than reacting to things is eminently a best choice, because those ripples of energy are far-reaching.  We, all of us (me, too), have great impact on those people around us with the choices we make, with our words, our actions, and even our thoughts.

So for me, I’m settling quickly, adapting beautifully to my new job and new digs and new city, and ok, also to my new life in China, and loving every minute of it all… but, I am deeply rooted back home with my people, my family, my friends… I’m not indifferent to the hard decisions, the difficult choices, the pain, and also the goodness, the celebrations, the accomplishments, that occur there where I used to reside.

I’m reflecting this morning on this contrary thought of leaving a life behind and my deeply felt connection with my life back home…  My daughter has been blessed with the goodness of her girlfriends with a place to stay.  Another sister of mine has been able to dog sit for a time.  The wedding celebration is in full swing right now at this writing.  I received a couple of nudges from friends back home this super early this morning through Facebook (thank heaven for VPN) and had some good heartfelt connections.  A new local friend visited a temple yesterday and brought me a gift from her temple visit, which touches my heart to be thought of and remembered by a new friend here in China.  There are still details to be worked out though – a place for my daughter to live needs to be found, a home or a plane ride to China for our dog, and repair of broken relations.

At this moment, I am sitting at my writing desk, looking out of the big picture window of my apartment, and feeling many things. Mostly feeling blessed for the realization of choice and the power of empathy and compassion. Feeling the love and support of people back home and here in my new home.   Feeling vulnerable at a distance and learning to let go and allow people to help, back home and here in China. Feeling the power of connection with my people, back home and here with new friends!  I recognize that all things, even abrupt change that is thrust upon us, work out for the best. Life is right in any case…