“Be Grateful or Be Stressful: It’s a choice”

My Ponderings on the Above

The past 10 months I’ve been “stuck” here in the States have been a challenge.

The early months had me waiting anxiously for the ban in China to lift. I was optimistic of a quick return. I rejoiced in the extra time I was spending with my mom, a time which I had often longed for but never thought could possibly happen due to the position I held as an Amity Foundation teacher in China. Those first few months were a treasure with much-needed rest and trips down memory lane as I packed up my childhood and young adult belongings to be moved to my mom’s new house.

Ah! As Sreejith comments: The taste of that first apple (here being a much-longed-for extended family time) was wonderful!

But then came the second apple, and the third, and the 5th with all those special moments I had once loved suddenly becoming mundane and unwelcome. That feeling of thankfulness began to waiver as the summer came and went, and Fall now upon us with a Midwestern winter at my fingertips. My China home feels seemingly unattainable as the Covid ban continues and our US Covid cases explode.

I remember one particularly tough morning in late August where I completely broke down in tears. The school year was about to begin. Reports of students returning from their summer holidays filled my WeChat messages. Other foreigners teaching at overseas international schools in China had permission to return but not yet for me, an Amity Foundation teacher employed by a small 3-year Chinese college in a small city. So unfair!

I sat at the kitchen counter, my spirits lower than ever before, when the morning sun came streaming in. The crystal prism my mom had dangling in the window sent waves of sparkling rainbows sprinting across the cherry-floral wallpaper. A hummingbird, his vibrant greens and reds glistening in the rays, energetically began enjoying our homemade nectar from the feeder positioned at the window.

The realization came: I can either be grateful for every moment I am here or mope about, stressing and fretting about things I have no control over.

Isn’t it better to count my blessings?

Zoom meet-ups with United Methodist groups, church meetings, participating in worship services with my mom (duets every first Sunday of the month), making mini teaching videos for my English Education majors to watch, moving and settling into my mom’s new home, plus completely enjoying the beauty of an Illinois autumn.

And how grateful I am for our modern technology that unites me with “my” China: WeChat messages and notices on my cellphone come from China on a regular basis: the Luzhou church choir rehearsals in full swing for Christmas; Chinese Bible verses to study from my Luzhou church scripture leader; my English Daily Prayer postings to be read; Notes from students exclaiming “Connie, we miss you!”; a video of my empty apartment and scraggly plants which my downstairs’ teaching colleague, “Bruce” Li, is watering; photos of spoiled, happy rescue kitty Ping-ping, sent by former church choir director Zheng who adopted her last summer.

I have so much to be joyful about.

With Thanksgiving Day approaching, the first one I’ve had in America in almost 30 years, I am truly thankful.

So I say, “Bring on that 10th apple!” I’m now willing, ready and able to take a big bite of gratitude for all that I have.

Here’s wishing you 平安 (Ping An, Peace) for your upcoming weekend and hoping your 10th apple is just as sweet as mine.

About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 30 years as an English language teacher. 28 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my 13th year in Luzhou Vocational and Technical College. The college is located in Luzhou city (loo-joe), Sichuan Province, a metropolis of 5 million people located next to the Yangtze River .
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1 Response to “Be Grateful or Be Stressful: It’s a choice”

  1. Kate says:

    Connie, the photos are beautiful. I had never heard of the The 10th Apple Effect….thank you for sharing. I’m glad to hear you have this at this time…..Kate

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