You are always a valuable human being

Do you like to take note when you study, travel, attend an event (talk / conference / party) or after meeting people?

Bill Clinton is known to note down the details of his classmates, professors, political organizers and other acquaintances in index cards, so that he could revise them in the years to come. The index cards contain important interchanges Clinton had had with the person. His diligent and indefatigable habit of taking notes and revising them, has contributed to his charm and charisma, mixing glamour and compassion (in the words of Bel Mooney).

The Renaissance most famous polymath, Leonardo da Vinci, wrote everyday, about his studies, observations, discoveries, inventions, comments, and plans. For his entire life time, Leonardo produced around 13,000 pages of work. A left-handed, Leonardo uniquely wrote, drew, sketched in mirror script. A systematic and an artistic creator of notebooks and journals, Leonardo used notes to link art, science, and engineering, synthesizing novel things such as the Vitruvian Man.

Taking notes can also be a form of journaling, one of the five recommended happiness-generating actions by Shawn Achor. Writing more positive emotion words enhances relationships (PubMed 16913946). I find that writing nourish and heal our soul, mind and body.

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In my early days living in Cambridge, England, UK, I was given a Bible of New Testament and Psalms. I did not know the giver personally, but the Bible was printed by the Gideons International.

Founded in 1899, the story of the Gideons International began when a boy named John H. Nicholson, promised his dying mother that he would read from the Bible every day for the rest of his life. He kept his word. One night in the autumn of 1898, when staying in the crowded Central Hotel at Boscobel, Wisconsin, John agreed to share a room with Samuel E. Hill. Both Christian men became friends and developed the idea for the future Gideons International to furnish a Bible for each bedroom of the hotels in the United States. Today, copies of the New Testament and Psalms published by the Gideons International are given to people in workplaces, schools and universities. I am grateful that an idea conceived over a century ago, was so powerful that it has benefited me and many other people.

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There are many breathtakingly beautiful churches in England and Europe. It is indeed a blessing to be able to visit a number of them. Since the Gideon Bible is small and of pocket-size, I could easily carry it while traveling to understand more about Christianity. Sometimes, I just note down interesting inspirations.

Last night, I flipped over my Gideon Bible and re-discovered what I wrote some years ago. The words are very comforting especially if you have been living a compulsively achieving life in the competitive world.

You are always a valuable, worthwhile human being,
not because anybody say so,
not because you’re successful,
not because you make a lot of money,
but because you believe it and for no other reason.

Then, I learn today that the quote is attributed to Dr Wayne Walter Dyer the author of Your Erroneous Zones. Thank you!

There is always be someone better and poorer than us, so stop comparing ourselves to other people. Live in the present moment and focus on using whatever talents and gifts that Allah has given us to serve other people. As long as you are doing better than your previous self, you have fulfilled your responsibility. Surrender your fear, worry, and insecurity to God.

You are always a valuable human being servicefromheart panda singapore river safari
A photograph courtesy of Ren’s paternal grandfather.

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The words of the re-discovered note also remind me on the movie Lan / 我们天上见 directed by  Jiang Wenli 蒋雯丽.

Since Lan was 3 years old, she was raised by her maternal grandfather Tang. Lan was often mocked by her schoolmates for sharing a surname as Chiang Kai-Shek, a national enemy in China. Lan often felt worthless, and would hide inside the cupboard eating candies.

She discovered hope from the world-champion gymnast, who also shared her surname Jiang. In a hope that she would not be sent to a countryside for tough labor, her grandfather encouraged her to start practicing gymnastics. Her grandfather also lovingly sewed a gymnastic suit and made a practice bar for Lan. However, the teacher thought that Lan was too weak for gymnastic and did not bother to teach her. Other gymnastic students also looked down of her, calling her ‘the amateur’. All these experiences worsened her self-confidence until she stopped going to the gymnasium.

However, Lan later proved to be a precious and valuable human being, especially when her grandfather fell ill. She started to care for him, from cooking meals, bathing him, making funny faces to make him laugh, to  painting their home with plants. Yes, plants are soothing.

An important lesson we can learn from Lan is not to link our self-worth to our achievement, but to link our self-worth to internal security. Always remember that you are a valuable human being.

With love,


Overcome the shame of imperfection

Have anyone said “shame on you” to you before?

It does not feel good being reproved, even if you have done something wrong.

When we were younger, that someone can be a person of authority, such as parents, teachers, religious leaders or peers. Their words might made a permanent imprint in our mind.

As a grown-up, that someone can also be your inner judge, whom you may NOT aware well. The judge learn the laws through your years of experiences and past interactions with others.

To overcome shame, we must first understand shame and its relationship with guilt.

Could you please tell me the difference between shame and guilt?

In shame, we feel that we are bad.

In guilt, we feel that we have done something bad.

In my perspective, if a child makes a mistake, it is better for him to feel sorry for his inappropriate action than to feel ashamed of himself. What’s your view?

In Spiritual Capital, Danah Zohar rated both shame and guilt -7 in a scale of motivation from -8 to +8, which corresponds to negative and positive motivations, emotions and drives that propel our lives and actions.

She defines shame as having no right to be here.

For individuals, both shame and guilt are more discouraging than fear (-4), craving / greed (-3), and anger (-2).

When we experience shame and guilt, it is extremely hard to listen to our inner voices, to be creative and create something out of passion.

There are many forms of shame. An extreme one is the shame of existing. Other forms include the shame of addiction, shame of illness such as cancers and diabetes.

The Confucian virtues include shame. While other Confucian virtues of loyalty, filial piety, benevolence, love, harmony, courtesy and integrity appear to be positive motivators, the (lost-in-translation) shame that Confucius referred to is the judgement and the sense of right and wrong.

Sadly, many times we feel ashamed because we are not good enough in our life, work, study, look, sport, and the list goes on. We need more courage to ignore this form of shame — the shame of imperfection.

To overcome fear (-4) or a sense of being threatened or too vulnerable, one has to first overcome shame and guilt (-7).

“We all have shame. We all have good and bad, dark and light, inside of us. But if we don’t come to terms with our shame, our struggles, we start believing that there’s something wrong with us — that we’re bad, flawed, not good enough — and even worse, we start acting on those beliefs. If we want to be fully engaged, to be connected, we have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, we need to develop resilience to shame.” ~ Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown of University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work

Sometimes, we may experience shame because we do not fit in. We do not always fit in to the ideals expected and determined by others (parents, teachers, bosses, society or media).

The good news is we can learn to be aware of the difference between fitting in and belonging, both concepts are often thought as being synonymous but they can be quite different and have significant influences on our choices, emotions and well-beings. Having such an awareness helps us to develop resilience to shame.

Could you please tell me the difference between fitting in and belonging?

To fit in, one assesses a situation and changes to be accepted (by others).

To belong means just be yourself, accept yourself and you will be accepted (by others who really care about you).

The shaming culture we live in makes it harder than ever to show courage and be vulnerable” but if a person starts overcoming shame, he or she can have a viral effect to people whom he or she influences.

For example, as a big sister I would like my sister to love her healthy body (she used to idealize the very slim figures of models) and as an aunt I would love my niece Michelle to love her hair (ignore some people who said she has too little hair to grow long hair).

Instead of telling them or nagging to love their bodies and looks – the gifts that God and nature have bestowed to them, I choose to be a positive role model, a servant leader by loving my body, look, style and appearance. I am grateful for every cell, organ, part and feature of my face and body.

Let us learn from the nature. The clouds are not perfect yet they are beautiful. It is perfectly okay to be imperfect. No more shame, but more courage to be imperfect.

ServicefromHeart overcome shame of imperfection

With love,

Thank you post to Jen

Dear Jen

I hope you are doing very well.

This week, I attended a talk by a charming professor from Korea, who looks like a slender Korean pop star. She is 45 years old but appears as youthful as 30s.

Professor Ham immediately reminded me on you, Jen! Both Professor Ham and you are highly enthusiastic, confident and knowledgeable.

ServicefromHeart Thank you post to Jen be like water

I would also not forget how Sir went an extra mile to dim the projector by climbing onto the table.  It is an inspiration for delivering service from our most sincere hearts.

Both you and Professor Ham are interested in the molecular mechanism of amyloid-beta in the Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

Sadly, most people will develop Alzheimer’s, if they live long enough.  But again, this experience beats the other alternative – dying young.

Of course, everyone wants to delay the onset of Alzheimer’s.  Recently, I learned that just by inheriting a copy of APOE4 allele (alternative form of the gene) on chromosome 19, increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.  About a quarter of people carry an APOE4 allele, that codes for the ApoE4 protein.

The ApoE4 protein strongly promotes the deposition of amyloid-beta in the brain, and ApoE are made by neurons under stress. No matter what happens, let us calm down and be stress-free. Choose and decide on happiness.

In the middle of Professor Ham’s talk, she gave us a quiz. Simply put, she asked a question to reinforce the concepts that she was sharing.

While a student, I have been trained rigorously to find patterns (including similarities) in my study projects. I could not help noticing that both Prof Ham and you have beautiful eyes and long delicate fingers with a ring and polished nails, that both of you use aptly to explain some (difficult) concepts.

Recalling how we met, it was a serendipitous one for me at the staircase outside the CyberCafe that encircles the pyramid. Thank you for offering your help in the technical details of my projects. You were a God-sent angel to me, then a struggling student.

I must also credit you for introducing me to Andy, from whom I get to know other awesome mentors.

Herein, I express how much I am thankful for your early guidance in my formative years in Cambridge.

Many thanks

gratitude soup stock recipe 感恩高汤

Soup stock is not only tasty and nutritious to cook / boil soup, but also versatile to prepare other dishes, from stews, savory steamed rice, stir-fried / sauteed vegetables to noodle meals.

gratitude soup stock recipe by ServicefromHeart

I call this soup stock gratitude soup stock (感恩高汤) because it is supposed to contain rich nutrients from the sky, the land and the sea. We are grateful for all goodness that are bestowed to us.


♥ 2 kg bones (骨头) and meat (肉), washed & cut into pieces

♥ 200g dried mushroom (干香菇), washed, soaked, drained

♥ 120g red dates (红枣), pitted & soaked

♥ 5 honey dates (蜜枣), washed (optional)

♥ 50g dried scallops (干贝), soaked

♥ 2 tbsp anchovies, washed

♥ 5 cloves garlic (大蒜)

♥ 1/2 small knob (10g) ginger (姜)

♥ 1 tsp white pepper powder (白胡椒粉)

♥ 2 liters water (过滤水), filtered if possible


1. Blanch bones and meats in boiling water for ~5 minutes. Drain and wash.

2. Boil 2 liters water in a big pot / slow cooker. Add all ingredients. Boil for a minimum of 5 hours using low heat.

3. Remove oil on the surface of the stock using a ladle (optional)*.

4. Sieve the stock from the ingredients. Pour stock into freezable containers**. Use some immediately, they are the freshest!

5. Store in a freezer after the stock cool down to room temperature.
* If you choose to keep the fat, it will float to the top layer in a
refrigerator / freezer. An option is to use the fat for stir-frying.

I am going to store the soup stock, I am not using other ingredients
that also make soups delicious, such as onion, green onion / spring onion / scallion, carrot, celery, pumpkin,
sweet potato.

** I use Avent breast milk containers that fit into baby bottles warmer. The small cups are ideal for me because I am cooking in relatively small portions. Faster to thaw!

Alternatively to store stock in a freezer, Zhen suggests to use Zebra stainless steel tingkat / rantang / dabbas / safartas (tiffin carriers) that are commonly used as lunch boxes. You can reheat food in tiffin on the stove top or using an open flame.

Important note: Do not put your tiffin in a microwave because metal should not be microwaved.

♥ If you like salty taste in your soup, add salt only at later stage of boiling soup so that nutrients can dissolve in the soup faster at early stage.


♥ While boiling soup or soup stock, do not keep opening the cover of pot. This is to ensure that heat, fragrance and aroma stay and circulate well in the pot.


♥ While boiling soup or soup stock, do not add room-temperature water. This is to prevent the nutrients (e.g. proteins) of the meat from solidifying.


♥ Consume also the edible ingredients used for boiling soup. This is because not all nutrients of the ingredients will be dissolved completely in the soup regardless of the hours of boiling soups.

♥ Use frozen soup stock by 1 week to ensure freshness.

Other post that I love:

♥ Lesh Karan’s amaranth vegetable soup recipe @ The Mindful Foodie

♥ Shu Han Lee’s Vietnamese fish stock @ Mummy I can cook

♥ Kathleen’s chicken stock recipe @ Providence Farms

Tiffin Time! Classic Stacked Lunch-Pails by Shahan Cheong

Check also our other #5minutemeal recipes.

With love,

Imagine simple happiness

Imagine … waking up to gaze on beautiful blue sky
admiring the dancing leaves that gently moves by the wind
seeing sunset from your window
watching a loving couple chatting
dancing kite with red, green, blue, and white light on the twilight sky

holding a baby sleeping calmly on your arm
gazing at his little lips and long eyelashes
simple bliss of life!

Today, I had them all and feel very blessed.
How I wish I could share all these with you!