Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later

“What was the first book that has inspired you to read?”

Sweet Valley ConfidentialBecause March is a National Reading Month, let me feature the series of books that had first inspired me to read when I was thirteen as my blog this month. Who will ever forget the fictional identical twins who are radically different in terms of interest, character, and choice of fashion?  We followed them from their grammar school all through their high school and college years and we witnessed their heartbreaks, frustrations, happy times, and tears together with their friends. Aren’t we intrigued to know how they have fared ten years later? Who ended up with whom? Who got married? Who moved out? Who died? Well, who would have guessed that Jessica Wakefield ended up being married to Todd Wilkins, the long-time ex-boyfriend of her twin sister Elizabeth Wakefield? And who would have guessed that Elizabeth would end up with the guy she hated since she was a kid and whom Sweet Valley considered as The Bully and Snob: Bruce Patman! We all want Elizabeth and Todd forever, but a great story will always surprise us with the unexpected turn of events. Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later left me with a feeling in the doldrums thinking that I might not be able to hear from these characters again after reading this book. Francine Pascal was very successful to create characters that are realistic that you can’t stop thinking about them in your everyday life. I want more books from Sweet Valley even when the characters turn 40 and have kids of their own. Why Sweet Valley? Well, it came into my life naturally. We had plenty of this collection in our library in high school and since I couldn’t afford to buy my own book during those times, I had my alma mater to thank for. It seemed I grew up in Sweet Valley! How about you? What was the first book that has inspired you to read?

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The Secret

“The life you have today is a reflection of what you’ve been thinking from the past.”

The Secret

It was not so hard writing The Confessions of a Shy Girl for me, because it says a lot about my life during my teen years. To write something, you have to write what you know: This is the best way to write as a beginner novelist.

In my first novel, Sophia has a hard time blending in with the crowd, not because of a bully, but because of her lack of confidence in herself. She is so shy, she lacks self-esteem, and she does not believe in her capabilities, even if for others she is very artistic. Her mind is attracting every bully and embarrassing encounters in her life, but she has her Dad, the attention of her crush, and a new friend, so life is not that bad after all. The nature of life is good, and it’s meant to be enjoyed, but to be happy or sad, it depends upon our choice. Well, how? Our life depends upon the way we think: this is what the book The Secret is all about.

I was once like you: unconfident, incompetent, timid, taciturn, a wallflower. I did not believe that anybody likes me; thus I didn’t have many friends. Our poverty had caused me a lot of feelings of dejection that I believed if I have to share my life with anyone, he will never accept me for what I am and what I’ve got; thus I grew up even poorer and more miserable than I’ve thought. Though I was highly imaginative, I didn’t believe in dreams. I always thought that abundance belongs to a few, and I just wasn’t one among them because I wasn’t born rich. I used to believe that in life, somebody’s got to be rich, and somebody’s got to be poor. Or somebody’s got to be lonely while some have to be happy. When I read my diary when I was a teenager, I always encounter the statement: “I am a nobody.” “I have nothing.” “I’m just no good.” And it just wasn’t right.  Wallowing at the corner of your bedroom won’t send a signal up above that you are someone to pity at. It won’t send a signal to God that you’re in a dire need of help. Crying and feeling lonely is not a call saying, “Hey Master, you’ve forgotten that you have a child down here who‘s lonely.” How can God help you when he had already given you everything? He did not plan for you to be lonely and poor. It was your choice. Feeling sorry for yourself won’t do you any good, because nobody can help yourself better than you do. Help yourself by thinking good, feeling good, and behaving like your dreams are right in front of you now. Well, you might be asking, “How did being lonely become my choice?” “Did I choose my father to die?” “And how did I attract my failing mark in Algebra? I wanted nothing from all of those.” Well, this is a question that this book has to answer. My life has changed when I stumbled upon the greatest gift from a friend: it’s The Secret by Rhonda Byrne.

The secret is in the power of your thinking. If you believe that you’re a trash, and nobody likes you, then guess what, you become a trash. The secret is to practice positive vibes coming into your mind. The secret is to be thankful in everything you have right now. Try to see the world as a better place to live in and do not focus on your failures, mischief, and the things that others have that you don’t have. Start your day with a positive thinking that everything will be all right. Fill you mind with thoughts of affirmations and feel it as if it was your own. The life you have today is a reflection of what you’ve been thinking from the past. When I read about this book, I tried to reminisce what I was thinking from the past. I wanted to write. I wanted to have my own website someday. I wanted to live in one apartment independently. I wanted to work in an office of a big company. That’s all what I can recall. These are thoughts that I did not force to imbibe in my memory. I didn’t know about the secret back then. I know I just wanted them. I didn’t know it will come true, yet to my surprise, these are all what I have in my life right now. I also realized that never did I imagine myself being with a man that I loved, so I wasn’t in a relationship for a few years. I didn’t dream of having one big family, and now I’m happy being single. Have I known about the secret earlier, I should have thought big enough like: having my own condo, traveling to different countries, or having my soulmate. But it’s not yet too late, right? You can have it too. Whether you believe it or not, this book works wonders. It has changed the lives of so many and Rhonda Byrne has touched the hearts of so many. It is now a worldwide bestseller. Don’t be left behind. Change the way you think, change your life now.

The Longest Ride

“A love that continues to follow us in the longest ride we have called life.”

The Longest RideThe story follows the lives of two loving couples who stand by each other’s side through thick and thin and until death claims the life of the other. Ira Levinson is depressed to have lost his wife and lives to be a hermit in his remaining years. Luke Collins is a bullrider who is adamant to go on with his rodeo circuit despite being injured, to save the financial stability of his ranch. Without wanting to worry the love of his life Sophia Danko, he makes his concussion a secret but he later confesses to her the implications it might cost him to ride again. Sophia threatens to end their relationship if he insists on riding again and through the dilemma, Luke decides to quit riding. On one date, the couple finds a crashed car with Ira inside. They rescue him and Ira requested the couple to  keep his love letter to Ruth found in his car. When the couple visits Ira in the hospital to check his condition, Ira asks Sophia to read the love letter to him. Reading the letter, Luke and Sophia are moved to Ira’s undying love with his wife. The couple soon finds out in the news that Ira wasn’t able to make it in the hospital. After Ira’s death, an auction is held for all of Ira’s properties since he and Ruth didn’t have children who will inherit them. The priced properties mainly consist of the art collection of his wife Ruth and included in those collection is Ruth’s portrait, a gift from one of Ruth’s students who was once very special to her. Luke bids on this first item despite the apparent semblance that it was a work of an amateur and nobody in the room wants it. Luke considers the portrait to be very special since it was the painting that was very important to Ira and he thinks that it would connect them to his memory. After winning the bid, the will is revealed by Ira’s lawyer that whoever wins the portrait of Ruth will get all of the remaining collection. A story which reminds us once again that material things, no matter how precious it is to us, are nothing compared to the ageless love we have with our better half. A love that continues to follow us in the longest ride we have called life.

Fortune Telling

“It’s not the superstitious belief, the lucky gems, or the lines on the palm in our hand that creates our life. We create them through what we think, believe, and do with our lives.”

Fortune Telling It has been said that the new age phenomenon brings about changes in our luck of love, career, business, studies, and health. February 5 marks the 2019 Chinese New Year and just like any other, I couldn’t help but anticipate the auspicious wave of success, prosperity and growth that was certain to please almost everyone. I was born in the year of the horse and according to feng shui, a dragon tortoise on my work desk will enhance my career, wearing a jade cicada could help fend off unwanted office politics, 6 crystal balls will improve harmony at home, Chi Lin will enhance good study luck, lucky gemstones are red jasper, amethyst, rose quartz and jade, and displaying a horse figurine at the south area will activate the Golden Deity the horse-born people acquires (whatever!). So I have a problem to solve: where are north, east, west, and south located? I need to buy a compass to tell where on earth is south at home because it is the lucky direction for the horse-born.

Burn prosperity candles in different colors at 11:30pm and blow them off at exactly 12:00am. Whichever will be the smallest one will give you luck that candle brings for the whole-year round. Offer 12 different kinds of round-shaped fruit to attract prosperity and serve fish and dumplings to attract wealth and abundance at home. I was first interested in new age books when I played the tarot card one afternoon. I learned about the Celtic- Cross spread (though it was just a game, and I didn’t take it seriously) and my favorite major arcana card was The Star and The Wheel of Fortune. When these cards come up in a reading, I always asks myself “Is this true?” I’d like to believe it. When I was in Hong Kong, my mother took me to a fortune teller and had my face and palms read. The fortune teller told me that I have intellectual capabilities, but I get so weakly sentimental even on common tribulations. She said that I would travel to five different countries which statement, I believed was very ironic because I never had any plans to work abroad. She said that I would be lucky in business ventures, which was again very ironic because I didn’t even love talking to people, let alone had a flair on business ventures. She said that I would attract a married man, but I just laughed it off because I did not believe it. She said, I have simple dreams and wishes in life just like having my own small house and having a permanent job, but I would get almost all of the things that everybody dreams of. What was alarming was the fact that she told me I would never have true friends and the only best friends I would have would be my own family no matter how good and nice I am to people around me. Ouch that hurts a lot. It cuts me to the quick. Am I going to believe this? Why me? The secret was to concentrate on things other than love. But who will ever grow without any friendship?

When I was younger, I believed in the high power of dreams. It is how God communicates to us. We are warned by dreams and signs, and it is one way to develop our latent powers and intuition. One night, I dreamed that I was at my mother’s funeral. I kept asking my brothers how did she die? They told me she had a stroke. I woke up at 6 am. and called her up immediately. I did not tell her about the dream. I just asked her if she’s OK. Then she told me, “Jeng, I nearly died last night. I couldn’t breath, and I couldn’t move my fingers.” Then I told her, “Come home, and we’ll see a doctor.”

Still can’t get enough? Well try numerology. It’s 2019, and I’m in Cycle 4 as far as I know. How did I get it? September 29 is my birthday. Add the month and day of your birth and add it to the present year, then simplify it to a single digit. That’s 9 + 2 + 9 + 2 + 0 + 1 + 8 (I used the year 2018 because I did not have my birthday for 2019 yet). How are we in mathematics? Did you get 31? Then simplify, 3 + 1 = 4. I am in Cycle 4. Cycle 4 is the work and career cycle and I’ve just been hired as a government employee recently, at last after 6 years of not reporting to an office. This is the best busiest cycle and the best time of my career. Does that mean, I can pursue any long-term goals I had in mind for the past years? Well then again, I’d like to believe it, but before you call me lunatic, so far I haven’t yet tried the Yes/No oracle and the divination of apples on Halloween but I am interested in studies on necromancy, oneiromancy, pyromancy, tasseography, or the tablets of  fate. Join me in my study by reading The Little Giant Encyclopedia’s Fortune Telling by The Diagram Group. Let’s have fun!

 These have nothing to do in what I believe in science and technology, or the zodiacs, or the clairvoyance. I still believe that our deep faith in ourselves is what makes things happen. I believe that the law of attraction comes from the power of the mind. We attract to our life whatever we give our attention, energy and focus to, whether positive or negative. If we believe that something will happen, then we get more of it. But if not, then we get nothing. The universe responds to what we vibrate, so it’s not the superstitious belief, the lucky gems, or the lines on the palm in our hand that creates our life. We create them through what we think, believe, and do with our lives. Keep the fate.

Confessions Of A Shy Girl

“One of the best advice a writer could give to a beginner novelist is to write what she knows and to write what’s in her heart.”

Click to buy this book.
Click to buy this book.

Happy National Novel Writing Month! Today, I will feature the first book that I have written and was published in December 2013, the Confessions Of A Shy Girl. It is a coming-of-age novel about a new girl in town who struggles everyday life in her new school and environment trying to fit in and stand out. Like any young girl, she falls for a guy whom her bully is interested in. Her demeanor to be the class’s pushover brings her to face a challenge in a beauty and brain competition, one she has never done in her life before. But with all the courage she could muster, she accepts the challenge that unexpectedly unfolds her into a better woman that she is and luckily captivates the man of her dreams.

It was not hard for me to write my first novel because I had chosen a story that is closely related to what I had in my youth and a character similar to who I was when I was in high school. One of the best advice a writer could give to a beginner novelist is to write what she knows and to write what’s in her heart. This is what I know and this is what I feel. You have to put yourself in the shoes of the character you created, and that was just a cinch because I feel for the protagonist and I know the rest of my characters as well. As a writer, you don’t have to know everything. You just need to have that passion and discipline. Everybody has a story to tell. There’s always something inside us waiting to come out and feelings longing to be expressed. What is the first story that you have written in your life? It doesn’t have to be a book. It could be a composition you had as a sit work in your English class. It could be a term paper about your life ten years from now or a diary about your fears, feelings, and frustrations that you can’t tell your friends and parents because you’re afraid that they would reject you. Write something today. Write a page everyday. Write in your diary. Write a letter to your Mom expressing your love. Make someone happy by sending them a thank-you note or a get-well-soon note. Write about the weather. Write about your dreams. The book you have read is a must-read and the movie you have watched is spectacular. Why don’t you write something about it? Write and see where your imagination takes you. Who knows someday, you’ll become a writer? A new book among millions is dying to come out from inside of you. And wordsmith, I can’t wait for that best seller!

13 Going On 30

“Being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely, I can do my own thing without anybody snooping at me, I have all the freedom that a flying solo affords, and I finally have the opportunity to pursue more of my interests.”

13 Going On 30 For some, 13 feels like it’s just yesterday. Well for me, it is. In 1987, geeky 13-year old Jenna just wanted to be popular and so after her 13th birthday party went awry, she wished she could just be thirty instead. The novel 13 Going On 30 by Christa Roberts could contradict what I’m feeling right now. Who wants to turn thirty, flirty, and thriving but still feeling unfulfilled? There seems could be nothing hip in my teen years. My birthday parties were spent with my parents and brothers at home while watching T.V; I did not have my debut, did not attend the Prom night, didn’t get jaded on Friday nights and get sobered up early on Saturdays, I did not join the cheering squad and I wasn’t reprimanded for taking a risk in cutting classes, nor was I grounded for a week due to a few nights bonfire at the beach with a boyfriend. I was young, and the next minute, I was old. My life started when I was twenty. Being the late bloomer that I am, I have spent ten years backing up what I’ve missed for the past twenty years. At twenty, I grabbed a lousy job which didn’t promise career growth and character boost, but which served as a passport going to the city. A friend from high school saw me and agreed to share an apartment with me. It was then that I spent countless nights going to night bars and discos, playing billiards with all the dates they were trying to match-make on me and my first time to throw-up and have some late-night hangovers. We went to malls, and it was they who reminded me not to wear loose shirts and sneakers again because I looked better on skirt, strappy sandals and classic tops donned on.  At twenty-one, I quitted my job and spent my pay over books and piles of magazines. I wanted to become a novelist or a webpage designer – a job which is a public service, but requires working alone. But then, I lacked resources. I didn’t have a word processor and an internet connection, and I didn’t even have a place conducive to writing and reading. So if I wanted to write, I have to start honing my skills through books first. I sent out short stories to Publishing Firms, and I wasn’t able to concentrate on my current designation. I botched five jobs because I wasn’t happy, and I was exhausted after moving out from one apartment to another 6 times. Right then, I forgot about writing. When I started working in a telecommunications company, I was able to upgrade my PC and practice webpaging. It was fun, but my schedule became hectic and work was toxic, so I didn’t have time to continue pursuing it. I was propelled forward to a job I didn’t like, and I couldn’t stop imagining about my dream job but I couldn’t quit because I had to pay my bills and rent. I had my first boyfriend when I was twenty-two but later discovered that I was more in love with love than with the person himself, so I broke up with him, only to find out that the next relationship would all become a frustration. I fell in love with 3 different guys and was turned down through three similar incidents after slamming the phone down opposite to a sexy voice who happened to be their girlfriends. What was wrong with me? I tried to catapult on my couch every night to seize for the answer, but nothing came close except the doubt that I might be sending the vibe of an external-YES and internal-NO syndrome. A wise man once told me that a lesson is repeated until learned. Maybe, I should just try to stop the malady of thinking about them and start letting go. It was hard because my thoughts were contagious. I started enrolling in driving lesson, swimming lesson, guitar lesson, cooking, photography, and other short courses that could contribute on rediscovering myself to find out what makes me different from others. Time is running so fast. I didn’t realize there’s so much more to do under the sun that a lifetime is not enough for me to experience everything. I didn’t want to turn 30 that fast because I wasn’t done having fun. I was going crazy, so I dug out my old stuff and reduced four dressers to shambles. I think I still wanted to write. I’m gonna use all the pain and emotions I’ve got flowing in a piece of paper. So when somebody try to pressure me to settle down just because for them, I’m behind schedule (What is their problem?), I won’t be worried at all. I’m not yet ready! People have overlooked that I was in the middle of something  that was occupying all my time and attention. I am thirty, but everyone is on his own life path and timetable. Being alone doesn’t mean I’m lonely, I can do my own thing without anybody snooping at me, I have all the freedom that a flying solo affords, and I finally  have the opportunity to pursue more of my interests.

So when someone finally asks me how’s life treating me nowadays. I know just what to say, “I’m enjoying being single at 30, and loving it. “

 

 

In Her Shoes

“We might not be alike in so many ways, but we were kindred spirits emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually.”

In Her Shoes
Click to buy this book.

Reading the novel In Her Shoes by Jennifer Weiner reminds me of a bosom buddy I once had in my late 20s, except that we’re not biological sisters, neither of us is irresponsible, and neither of us had cheated on each other’s spouses. I can relate to this story in such a way that we’re radically different in so many ways, yet there’s only one thing that both of us have similarly — the size of shoes. We might not be alike in so many ways, but we were kindred spirits emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually. She fills the void to what is lacking in my soul and I also do the same to her, just like soul mates. This blog is dedicated to her.

When I was a kid, whenever somebody asked me how it felt like having no sister at all, I always told them that it never bothered me at all because I enjoy the full attention that my parents were giving me being the only daughter in the family. I didn’t want to share my clothes, shoes, my own room, and I even disliked being compared to others. So I couldn’t really imagine having my own sister. Or so I thought…..

I was already twenty-two when I met someone through my brother. She was a complete stranger, and my feelings for her were completely indifferent. We did not click with each other that easily enough maybe because of my hostile attitude, or was it because we’re just two different people? She was witty and smart, a people-person, outgoing, very active, career-aggressive, cheerful, and had the potential to relate well with others —- she was in short, my exact opposite. I think we started out being friends when my brother went away. I came to know how nice she was inside and out. This young lady had influenced my entire life like no one else did. She had taught me the power of positive thinking, in believing in myself, and how possible it is for everything to happen even to someone like me. She was the only one who believed in me; she was the only one who told me that I am somebody and she nagged at me every time I started becoming a worrywart and every time I degraded and debased myself too much. She was so excited when something good happened to me, and she felt bad whenever I was down. She hated those people who hated me, and she sometimes scrutinized those guys I was goony about. Her words were music to my soul and the best advice I could get usually came from her. She was the one who told me that when something worries me that much, I just have to close my eyes even when I’m working and shout in my mind “Lord, please let it stop”. We respect each other’s differences even if the only thing we have in common is the love for books or the size of shoes. She knew me better than anybody else— my own mother does not even know me well. I was emotionally detached for four years now, but I did not even feel the emptiness because I had her. I was with her during the difficult times of my life, and she was the one who brought me to the hospital when I was sick. Every little thing she did to me was something I did not get from my own siblings. I didn’t think that having a sister was something you should be proud of.

To you sister, everything that had happened years ago was something I did not foresee. If I had only known that everything would end just like that, then I should had asked you to go out every day and every night even when we had different work schedules, because right now I miss you already. I miss those late nights watching movies together, dinner, shopping, and coffee. I miss those times when we shift from one apartment to another. I miss your comforting words and brilliant advice. You’re everything I’ve got. I never wanted anything but to have a great sister, and now I have none. No matter how I wanted to help you in your times of grief, it pains me much that I can’t see you today because doing so will just aggravate the pain. I know that I don’t have the right to keep you because I did not invest too much in this friendship; you came to me as a blessing. In time, I wish you will soon heal. I still want you to be my sister. If you are ready to see me, I’m always here for you.

Sister, if you are reading this right now, I am so sorry for being so selfish. You were saying something to me. You felt this would happen all along, but I did not listen to you because I thought everything would be fine. I know the feeling now; your pain is bleeding me to death. I’m a bad, bad sister, and I don’t really deserve you. It’s not like someone else died, but I can’t really face the next few weeks without you. Everything would never be the same. I know you’ve got a lot of friends and your life won’t stop without me but as I pray for your recovery, please pray that I would still find someone like you. You are an inspiration to others and trust me when I say everything good that you have done to others will come back to you three-folds.

I love you Sister, and I always want all the best in life for you…..