ShifaybdayRecently, I saw a funny cartoon entitled “The Seven Dwarves of Menopause” and they were duly named: Itchy, Bitchy, Sweaty, Sleepy, Bloated, Forgetful and Psycho!

Having experienced all these states, I’m either approaching early menopause, or it’s some deep seated anxiety about my birthday! This birthday I can’t say I’m in my early anything anymore. I think the old-fashioned, polite phrase would be to describe me as a woman of indeterminate age.

Okay, you can call me vain, but when the young man in the grocery store called me “Miss” instead of the usual “Ma’am,” I beamed at him. I think I really scared him! My children have learned that the revelation of age is Mommy’s prerogative. That Mommy being born in the 20th Century is not the same as when dinosaurs walked the earth!

Here’s my two seconds of moan time. Please indulge me because it is my birthday. My body is grappling with gravity and I wish I could plug myself into a power source to have one-tenth of my children’s energy. Be gone fatigue. Oh, dearest body, remember when you were a bendy pretzel, instead of peanut brittle? Okay, you can stop the moan clock now. No more moaning. Bendy pretzel is my ohm in yoga and my fabulous, older yoga teacher is my role model, along with the two 79 year olds in my yoga class, who could kick my butt in the bendy pretzel department. Ladies, you are truly my inspiration.

It’s truth time. I set out to teach my kids that life is the glass half-full variety, which means to embrace life and enjoy the present. I can’t in all conscience then be half-empty in my own approach.

My birthday wow is to welcome today and every day. And, instead of fear, I embrace and enjoy the wonders of my age and all the wisdom and experience it brings. As my children look forward to getting older, I need to remember that feeling of joy, too. Fully embracing the moment means I’m alive and living; each birthday is a celebration of my print on this earth.

So, if I don’t want to drink sour lemonade on my birthday, I need to embrace my lemon cheesecake moment instead. I chose lemon cheesecake!

Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at y2s2cheung@yahoo.com.


backpacks The kids are back in school, although I still can’t get my head around the fact that school starts in August here.

I behaved just like that daddy clown fish in the “First Day of School” scene from Disney-Pixar’s “Finding Nemo.” I think I was more excited and even more nervous than my two children. While I was flitting around trying to remember stuff, they took the first morning in their stride, getting up without my dragging them out of bed, donning their new clothes and backpacks, and even enduring, with much patience, my quest to take the “perfect” first day photograph.

As I was getting ready to walk my kids to their bus stop, it struck me how the first day of school is rather like a family reunion. I would hazard a guess that most people have gone to a family reunion of sorts at some point in their lives, so you know that a reunion is very much a ritual with history and group culture that people look forward to (and, maybe, dread, too!)

The first day of school is a ritual from the laying out of clothes the night before to entering your new classroom where you see the kids you know and look forward to seeing (like a favorite cousin), those you tolerate (like an eccentric uncle) and the unknown or new kids (like a new fiancé, who’s meeting your extended family for the first time).

Gauging what your family reunion will be like can be seen in the context of the new school year. Before you anticipate the class photo (family photo) next spring, be prepared for a whole lot of fun, plus a whole lot of learning; a whole lot of eating and a few outings; growth as a person and as a group, and, no doubt, some arguments, butting of heads and miscommunication in between.

Have a great year everyone!

Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at y2s2cheung@yahoo.com.


I surrender

I surrender

I’ve often felt a bit awkward about the July 4th holiday. You’ll understand my ambivalence when I say I was born and raised in England of Chinese parents, who immigrated to the United Kingdom from Hong Kong in the early 1960s. Love, marriage and a sense of adventure brought me to a new life in the United States. Having lived here for well over a decade, I still make a joke of the fact that I’m originally from the country of the losing side!

Joking aside, moving to a new place is a complex process and I can testify that it takes longer than the average of two years that the books say it takes to feel like you belong. It’s taken me nearly as long as the years I’ve lived here to feel and call the US my home.

I equate myself to being a pioneer here, just as my parents were in England. I’ve lived and learned new cultural norms, just as they did and, everyday, I feel the enormous weight of raising my children without extended family support, just as my parents did.

There are many practical considerations to making a new place feel like home. Oftentimes, you have to start from scratch with your networks, from finding doctors to babysitters, and there’s nothing more challenging than having difficult access to all that’s familiar.

But, underlying all the practical details are the emotional realities, like missing family and the loss of your previous worldview. It’s not for nothing that, sometimes, I gravitate to people who understand my love of Marmite, real fish and chips with malt vinegar, and authentic Cadbury’s chocolate!

With the birth of my two children, I understood why my parents instilled in me the mantra: “To know who you are, you need to know where you come from.” Knowing this, you then have a choice of what and where you call home.

Through my example, it’s my hope that my American-born children will carry forward a strong sense of their Chinese heritage and values (the respect for family and hard work, and love of good food), along with an open-minded attitude, and my British sense of humor. Ultimately, I want them to know they have my love, support and guidance, whatever they face on their life’s journey and wherever they chose to call home.

So where is home? I’m a citizen of the world, who chooses to make her home and raise her children in Franklin, TN.

Happy Independence Day!

Susan Shifay CheungSusan Shifay Cheung has turned her hand to many forms of writing in her various roles, over the years, as corporate trainer, management consultant, journalist and writer. You can contact her at y2s2cheung@yahoo.com.


I Will Love Cooking...again soon:)

I Will Love Cooking…again soon:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So I was perusing some of the Mommy blogs (there’s only about 5 million) and came across “Weekend Table” written by a mommy, lawyer, and self-proclaimed amateur cook from Connecticut. She loves to entertain in her free time and shares her recipes on her blog. The recipes are diverse-from main dishes to sides to desserts, etc. There’s even a gluten-free section of recipes.

I realized recently that I only have a handful of “go-to” favorites in my repertoire of personal creations and one of those is “mac-mac” (yea, I still say mac-mac rather than macaroni & cheese and my child is 8-I need to stop). I really need to broaden my culinary horizons and enjoy real homemade cooking again. I’m going to try one new recipe a week. Luckily our daughter will eat a big variety of foods so hopefully we will find some new fun recipes that she’ll love and that we can even make together.  Here’s a link to Weekend Table and a recipe I plan to try this week:)

Tomato and Basil Frittata on Weekend Table Blog

What are your favorite recipes or recipe blogs?


Triplets

So I was meeting with a couple other moms recently regarding our local Meet Up group…..our group is growing and we are planning some fun activities in the near future.  A local college (Anthem College) offered their facilities for us to have our upcoming meetings.  While brainstorming about types of speakers we’d enjoy for our group, potential outings, etc. we were wrangling children in a conference room.  One was a 17 month old little boy in addition to a set of 2 year old twin boys who enjoyed running laps around the large conference table.  I remarked that I was sure I could only have handled one child at that age (mine is now 8 years old).  The mom of twins has only known this double duty which I simply can’t imagine.  The other mom mentioned that she herself was actually a triplet!  She calls her mom often to just say “Thanks!”  and “How on Earth did you do it?”  She told a story of how her mom had actually been banned from a few places when they were small due to their……well, interesting behavior:)  At a McDonald’s, story has it that she and her two brothers decided to strip off all their clothes and run around naked much to the dismay of the McDonald’s manager who quickly asked her mom to take the kids, leave, and never return!  While, we enjoyed a compassionate laugh, many years later,  I can only imagine how her mom felt at that time.  Later , when we were leaving, one of the moms remembered to buckle everyone in but almost backed over her empty stroller.  I have done that – more than once!   Just another day in the lives of moms in action.  Being with other mommies-especially those with little ones-is always fun.  I never want to forget just how challenging (and rewarding) those early years are.