How My Family and I Experienced Tet, Our Most Important Holiday, by Tieu, Linh, our Teen Journalist from Hai Phong, Vietnam

How My Family and I Experienced Tet, Our Most Important Holiday“Wake up, Mi * !! It’s high time you got up and enjoyed Tết !”

(Tet is the most important national celebration in Vietnam. The full name is Tet Nguyen Dan, which means “Feast of the First Morning of the First Day’. Our Tet has the same objective as the Western World’s New Year. It is a chance to welcome and celebrate the new year and hope for health, luck, happiness and achievements.) And now on to more of my story:

Hearing my dad’s voice, I opened my lazy eyes and tried to drag my body out of the bed. The day was so special. Instead of seeing clunky clouds in the sky and thinking about how to confront another ordinary day, I could feel the sunshine already and see the bright blue sky.

“Well, Tết is here. Light the flame inside you, Linh !”, I whispered to myself.

After having got through all the household chores and getting ready, we left home and got into the green taxi, which had been waiting for a few minutes. At first, we visited pagodas that we knew were where our ancestors are worshipped. Then, we were in the intimidating crowd at Nghe Temple, trying, along with everyone else, to express our respect for General Le Chan, who had founded Haiphong City with the original name “An Bien”.

I gazed at the map of Nghe Temple and made efforts to find out something interesting to meditate upon, although that was not the first time I visited this remarkable temple. Leaving there I was still excited as the day was just beginning to unfold. A wonderful journey was still waiting for us. “Heading your way !!”, I playfully thought.

omnoIt took us about one hour to reach Hai Duong Province. My mother had suggested that we should visit An Phu Temple, or Cao Temple, where Prince Yên Sinh – the first emperor of Trần Dynasty’s elder brother – is worshipped. It was quite hot, different from the usual rainy and wet weather of Tet in Vietnam. Hot, and tiring. The temple is located right on top of the mountain, so we had to climb – to be more exact, walk many steps – to eyewitness the ancient beauty of An Phu Temple.

We took numerous photos, and I followed my parents to explore the structure of Cao Temple.  I smelled the ancient, orthodox scent of incense sticks visitors had burnt. Not very sweet-  smelling, but it reminded me of the solemn atmosphere at a sacred place.

I memorized some historical events that had happened to Prince Yên Sinh, shaking my head as  I realized the irony of what he had been compelled to suffer.

Saying goodbye to An Phu Temple, we left Hai Duong Province for Haiphong City again. But, we stopped at Do Son District to visit Ba De Temple, which is situated near the sea. “Up to the forest, down to the sea”, this is the saying that most depicted our travels. Ba De Temple is associated with a love story between a powerful king and a beautiful and glamorous commoner, who ended up suffering.

After finishing all the holy procedures, we went down to the sea and felt extremely refreshed to take photos, draw on the sand and join in some activities which were kinds of horseplay. I constantly had a bee in my bonnet about the unlucky fate of the beautiful commoner and I could understand how painful women’s lives were and are when they had and have to live amongst male chauvinists.How My Family and I Experienced Tet, Our Most Important Holiday

I’m still lucky, and I think I ought to look up to my life better. And that’s the truth.

PS *: () Mi is the name that my intimates call me at home.

What is a special trip you have taken with friends or family? Share with us. We want to share meaningful experiences that girls have from around the world. Send your e-mail to drbarbara@enchantedself.com

Linh is The Truth for Girls first international young journalist. From Vietnam, she was given a copy of The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) by her mom, translated into Vietnamese. She loved the story and found my e-mail address at the back of the book. She wrote to me and I answered. That was the beginning of a three year correspondence. As I realized how perceptive Linh is and how versatile her Englih is, I invited her to write articles for other girls around the globe who follow The Truth! We hope you enjoy her article about New Year’s in Vietnam that follows. And remember The Truth is always ready for more young girls from around the world to be journalists. If you are interested write to me, Dr. Barbara at drbarbara@enchantedself.com .

‘Getting our Tweens and Teens’ Can We Do a Better Job in How We Communicate?

growingupOne thing I find over and over again is that Parents don’t seem to “get” their teens and tweens, and vice versa. There seems to be miscommunication going on. A teen or tween misbehaves and doesn’t understand why the parent is upset, while the parent doesn’t understand why their teen/tween can’t follow direction after being told several times. Often it’s not because the child in question wants to misbehave, and it’s not because the Parent is a ” bad” parent.

It’s the approach. We as Parents and caregivers need to take the negativity out of it when we talk to our children, even when disciplining. For example, try the sandwich method: First give some positive feedback: “I was so proud of you when you got that 100 on your spelling test a few weeks ago. Second give the bad news: If you can’t seem to find time to do your homework and your marks keep reflecting that, we will have to limit your time on playing video games. Now the rest of the sandwich: We really believe you can make better use of your time and get back on track to get good marks on your homework. If you need our help, just ask. We are here for you!

Here’s another of my thoughts on this:

It is so important to be a role model to your teen! It is not only what we say and how well we listen, but how we live our own lives. That means it does matter how gracious we are, how kind we are, whether we are generous of spirit and eager to not hold grudges or be petty. It does matter what we say, but often it matters just as much on how we say it. Can we cushion a criticism with some sweet honey? Can we wait until the right moment to say something personal when no one else is listening? It all matters!

Yes, all of the above does take practice. Learning to control our rage, our disappointment, our anger and instead finding ways to speak to our kids at the right moment, with supportive yet realistic reactions to their behaviors is almost an art form. But then again, helping a kid grow up successfully is like being a great artist. Every remark, every activity we do with them, every hug we give them are all the next tiny strokes in turning out a marvelous human being! Isn’t the time and effort worth it?

Valentine’s Day For Divorced Women – Positive Psychologist Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Offers Tips

Valentine”s Day For Divorced Women – Positive Psychologist Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Offers Tips – http://ow.ly/tpQOM

Positive Psychologist And Author Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Offers 8 Tips To Overcome Holiday Blues

Positive Psychologist And Author Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein Offers 8 Tips To Overcome Holiday Blues – http://bit.ly/1hPeTji

Bullies, Yes They Are Out There

http://dailyconnections.ebru.tv/en/Segments/family/398.html

This short interview of me on Ebru television is filled with my suggetions as a positive psychologist and educator in how to stay alert for bullies.

Bullies are scary. We have to stay alert as parents. Watch for certain signs. If your child’s marks are falling down, she cries easily, she just seems different, talk to her. Stay alert. You have every right to be an alert parent. You can always call the guidance counselor or the teacher and see if anything is going on in school.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to be a listening mother, who is aware of your child. Lecturing is not what it is all about.

In The Truth (I’m I girl, I’m smart and I know everything) the girl shares how terrible she feels when her mother walks away from her when she is trying to talk to her. She wants to know from her own mother when she needs a bra. She really doesn’t want to ask someone else’s mother!

Don’t forget, mom, put down the cell phone when your daughter is checking in!

Also, more advice: be a good role model for your kids. They do model off of you and they want to be proud of you.

What I am saying can’t guarantee that your child won’t be bullied, but the more full your home life is, the happier the home is with you staying in charge as the ‘parent,’ the more you will be on top of any changes and be able to help your daughter.

Lucille Ball Mentored Me When I Was a Child

As adults we forget how important mentors are to kids. A mentor can be a family dog that shares endless love, a teacher who never forgets to recognize and praise successes, a tree that teaches the comforts of just relaxing in the shade or even a television personality who is always there for a child to come home to. For me, one of my favorite mentors was Lucille Ball.

Oh, what ecstasy in my childhood to finish a dreary Monday by watching Lucy come to grips with her life in hysterical ways! She gave me courage to believe as a little girl that one could overcome adversity, have a life worth living, fill that life with positive emotions and fun, and stay happy even when faced with momentary distress. No one in the world could eat as many chocolates as fast as Lucy, working on an assembly line, bake a loaf of bread so large it overtook the kitchen, or carry a smelly cheese onto an international flight, wrapped up as baby! No one could make me laugh so hard!

Lucy has held the key to my humor heart at any time of day or night! Ah, I wish I could find her any time I need her — after a bad day, after bad news, after too big a dinner — after almost any occasion that could be buffered by a good laugh, and a comforting sense of the familiar.

What was her magic? How has she managed to take me to my Enchanted Self since I was a 10-year-old child, watching her in Fairfield, Connecticut on Monday nights? How has she engendered positive states of being again and again?

First of all, for most of us over 25, Lucy has become part of our history. She was always there, on a snow day, a day of illness, a late night when one couldn’t sleep. If you were lucky and flicked enough stations, there she was. Her smile was infectious, and her ineptness made us all feel comfortable. It was as if she revealed our most embarrassing moments for us. We never had to feel the shame or humiliation of tripping down the stairs with a giant showgirl hat on our heads or try to catch up with the real superman on the ledge to our apartment! Lucy did it for us. Yet, inside of each of us was the youngster that would have given anything to be in a show or looking for superman!

Secondly, she gave us the ‘real’ family that had a lot going for it, which not all of us had. They really seemed to love each other, they had good friends, they always made up when they fought, and nothing happened that was truly devastating. Silly mistakes were just that, and grudges were not held! They got to travel and meet famous people and eat in fancy restaurants! And, they had a baby and everyone was happy and loved the baby and no one was jealous. Lastly, they got to move up in life when they finally moved to the suburbs into a big house with lots of land and funny happenings. They even raised chickens!

What a beautiful world Lucy and her gang recreated for us. It was our country, our way of life, but on top of the familiar were humor, love, and always recovery from problems or embarrassments. In her own way she created positive psychology, before it had a name, for kids, tweens and teens.

In essence, she made the familiar the best it could be! She helped us live in our imaginations for a while, yet kept us earthbound at the same time. Yes, we were in states of well being, again and again — which is what THE ENCHANTED SELF is all about.

I realize now that she was one of my most important mentors. She was as important as Laura in Little House on The Prairie, one of the best books for girls that I ever read. Laura came to like in her books. Lucy came to life on our black and while tv screen. Thanks, Lucy! I hope I see you stuffing chocolates into your mouth again soon, so I can feel good about my silly moments and have another wonderful belly laugh!

Two Ways to Begin to Save the World, Wise Words Written by Linh, age 13

It still puts me in awe to realize that because I wrote The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) I have had the privelege of writing back and forth now for over two years to Linh, from Vietnam. As she has grown and matured into being a young teenager, her insights about the world and being a girl continue to fascinate me. I hope her dedication to trying to help the world solve its many problems will move you and hopefully influence all of us for the good! Here are her first two suggestions:
The world is regarded as our mutual home. We enjoy building and decorating our house as beautifully as possible, so why don’t we take notice of our bigger home as well ?

Here are the first two solutions that I think are possible to make our world a better place) by Linh Tieu

Environment – Start with children :

The more technologically advanced we are, the more we do great harm to the environment. Emissions transportation, such as automobiles or buses; smog from industrial factories; pollutants found in rivers…I’m not sure if adults are going to put forward any solutions to this problem, but from my perspective, cutting-edge technology or facilities aren’t guilty. The major dilemma is that we don’t find saving the environment important encough and inevitable. The first step is to educate kids as soon as possible. Dr. Dorris Allen – a psychologist – has proven that people tend to have behaviors based on what they experienced during childhood, so assuming we want our children to value the environment and wish to save it, we should start with them.

Schools should require students to learn a subject called “environment”. Teachers should give kids lessons about the importance of environment in our life, and methods to keep the environment clean and how to love the environment as you love yourselves and your relatives. By doing this, I’m inclined to believe that soon environmental problems will get better and we will have less urgent problems that become almost unsolvable.

Peace – All of us desperate for peace :

I’m living in a peaceful country, no wars and no conflicts. But I can hear the news on tv about wars in other nations. I just think that wars happen because people need more lands for their nations and they want to extend the sizes of their countries. But, why do they fancy having wars like that ?! They probably aren’t aware of the consequences to people, property and nature, but they ought to take notice of the children.

The kids are too innocent to know why what is occurring everyday in their homelands is happining; in other words, they deserve to live in happiness instead of panic. For centuries, people have fought for peace. Everyone needs peace for better lives, so why not make wars vanish permanently ?

I think, in this situation, the “Actions speak louder than words” is applicable. We hope that, adults can spend just a little of their time thinking for the Earth, or the world – our great home. Imagine someday wars disappear forever, people will find their relatives everywhere without any difficulty, and unity will become one of the most important elements which link people together.

The Truth for Girls Understands How A Child’s Mind Works

As a psychologist and an educator I’ve spent many years helping children be better understood and to better understand themselves. One thing I emphasize is that children learn over many years not only how to express themselves but what they are allowed to express.

Recently, I learned all of this anew by finding in my attic my old diaries from the 4th, 5th and sixth grades. Page by page I detailed my life from what I ate for breakfast, to the weather, to playing with a friend, studying for a test, going to visit my relatives, moving to a new town, etc. But what I didn’t include in these diaries were my feelings, secrets worries or questions about life.

I wouldn’t have dared to put into print any of the above. Not because I was afraid someone would read my diary, I really wasn’t afraid and anyway it had a lock on it. I just couldn’t even imagine saying certain things out loud. Merely verbalizing my fear of dying, or my run-in with a neighbor who was inappropriate to me, was beyond the scope of permission I would give myself to speak aloud in any form. Writing the diary was good as it gave me practice in writing, but sharing my feelings would take more than writing practice.

Now as I read the pages of going iceskating and receiving a dollar from my cousin Eleanor, I realize so clearly what was missing. And it is okay that some things are not expressed aloud by kids. But what is not okay, is not giving kids help in expressing themselves.

How do we do this as parents? By talking to them and listening to them. We need to share enough of our memories of growing up, including the feelings and anxieties as to open the door for permission for them to share back. We need to listen for the obvious cues of the crying behind a closed door, but also to the silent cues, when a kid is just not sharing enough.

I’m glad my diaries are with me. The child in me is still able to remind me, and so I remind you. Never forget that children need our permission and help to learn what is okay to talk about and share.

The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) can be a great place to start. As the girl in the diary does share her feelings and fears as well as her hopes and dreams. I wrote the book that way so you can use it as a spring board to talk to your daughter or granddaughter. The girl gets us started on a wonderful road to sharing.

Chinese Version of The Truth Handles Girl’s Anxiety Issues

I think it is interesting to share with you some of The Girl’s entries into her diary that are not in the American version of The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything). Two of her entries are about an anxiety dream she has several weeks before she starts the seventh grade in a new school, in a new town. Read on to find out what the dream was like, how her mother helped her handle the dream and what she learned about her parent.

* * *

Only three more weeks until we go back to school. I had a nightmare last night that I couldn’t find my new classrooms and I ended up back in the hallway that has the first, second and third grade classrooms. My heart was pounding in the dream and I was sweating. I kept running up and down the hallway but I couldn’t find any older kids, only babies, six, seven and eight. I knew I would be the last one to get to my new homeroom and I would look like a fool on the first day of school. No one comes in late on the first day!

Then I finally saw the hallway that goes to the seventh and eighth grade classrooms. But when I tried to reach it, it was like I could hardly move. I just couldn’t get there. I felt myself pulling on my body to move but nothing happened.

Then I woke up. I went in to my mother and father’s room and lay down on the floor with a blanket from my bed. They didn’t even know I was there. I just couldn’t be alone after that dream. I hate dreams like that and that’s the truth.

___________

My mother said I had an anxiety dream and a lot of people do before they have to do something new. I’m glad she told me that. I hope I don’t have anymore anxiety dreams.

She told me a lot of other stuff today. I guess ‘cause I’m getting older. My mother really knows a lot. She should have been a doctor or a teacher. She never went to college but wants me to go.

She told me that she had a choice of being a secretary or working in my Uncle Dan’s clothing store when she finished high school. She chose to become a secretary because my Grandfather said he would pay for her to go to secretarial school.

I asked her if she wanted to go to college. She said that she never thought about it because none of the girls in her family had ever gone to college.

She told me that once her brother said to her, “Edith, you are dumb but beautiful. Don’t worry. That’s ok. It is better than being dumb and not pretty.”

My mother promised herself when I was born that I would get more education than she had. She told me that she has been putting ten dollars a week away since I was born for my college education.

I hope I can really make her proud of me. I know that I’m smart. I hope that I’m pretty. I’m still scared and that really is the truth.

The Summer is a Great Time To Spread Your Wings, Even in the Water!

It is wonderful to have a junior journalist to help me write articles for this blog. Who can express what it feels like to be a young girl better than a young girl? I’m so happy to have Linh, my first assistant journalist, from Vietnam, joining me again. You may remember that her mother brought home The Truth in Vietenemese for Linh, when she was 10 and after she read the book she wrote to me. This started a correspondence and friendship. I know feel I know her family and hope someday we will all meet in person.

Linh’s article this time is about swimming. It is her experiences swimming recently, as told to her diary, and I think any girl around the ages of 9-13 can really relate to what she is sharing. She really spreads her wings in the water. Here’s the article:

Dear Diary,
Today is just another regular day. Nothing new. Nothing strange. But I like it more than any other days ! If you wonder why, then read on!
I was taken to the swimming pool on Lach Tray Street by motorbike. My relatives who decided to go out with me that day began jogging as well as taking photos. As for me, Dear Diary, as I am the leading lady of this diary, I came into the bathroom of the swimming pool and changed into my bathing suit. After warming up, I went into the water.
Being underwater during hot days is NOT A BAD IDEA. At first, I felt a little cold, but then I started to feel good enough to go on swimming. But moving in the pool by combining your arms, your legs and breathing is not easy. I was tired after each lap and asked myself how professional swimmers can suffer from swimming so long, without feeling too exhausted to continue.
I stopped to relax by playing with the water. Suddenly, I heard: “Sister Mimi !”. So familiar ! Then I realized the voice came from my little brother. He was standing beside my mother who was using her camera to take photos of mine. I love to take photos and to be in photos, so I was glad to perform my swimming actions for the camera. Then, when I arrived home, all of my family members gathered in the living room to see my pictures and videos at the swimming pool. Yeah, I swam just like a frog and I was proud of being able to struggle with water so successfully. Actually, to swim when a person is trying to record your movements is very interesting !
I’m sleepy now. I’m sure that so are you. Good night and sweet dreams, my beloved Diary.

I hope you enjoyed Linh’s diary entry. Keeping a diary is a very special way to communicate with ourselves at all stages of life. It not only is a means of recording events but it is a special place to share feelings and even to ask questions. It is a kind of sanctuary. Have you kept a diary? Of course the girl in The Truth (I’m a girl, I’m smart and I know everything) keeps one and it becomes critical for her as she shares all of her secrets there.

Thanks to Linh for this article! Make sure you also spread your wings in many fun ways this summer!