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New Year, New Start

photo 2 The snow that comes with the arrival of the New Year in Chicago added “color” and excitement for the new start.

There is a saying in Chinese, “瑞雪兆丰年,”meaning propitious snow will bring an abundant year in harvest. Hope it also means a year of good health, happiness and efficiency.

I have sensed a level of excitement in anticipation of the immediate projects I need to work on with the start of the new year: teaching another course on China, making a 15-min documentary for the 10th anniversary of an institution in Chicago, and taking upon more consulting business related to China. Of course, with Lisa moving to work in Frankfurt, Germany in March, I have begun thinking of plans to visit her a couple of times during the year, and while there, taking the opportunity to tour more Eastern and Northern European countries as well.

photo 1On New Year’s Day, thanks to technology, I had a video conference with my mother and sisters in two cities in China, my brother in Rochester, New York, and me, here in Chicago. It is wonderful to see my 85-year-old mother on the screen and hear the voices of my siblings, as if they were sitting beside me. I feel very grateful that two of my older sisters live close to my mother and spend a lot of time with her, including playing mahjong, her favorite game, with her every week. My mother’s smiles and talk brought

so much comfort and warmth to me. My brother and I immediately talked about scheduling a time when we can visit her at the same time so our entire family can have a “complete” gathering, “团圆”in Chinese. I look forward to that. With a bit of luck, I may be able to stay a little longer this year.

I read a column by Mary Schmich marveling at the existence of live on the Chicago Tribune, speaking aloud to herself “I’ve alive,” and expressing gratitude about it. I feel the same—so lucky to be alive, be connected with my loved ones, and do things I value and enjoy.

Another year has already on its way, and I bet that it will pass quickly, more so than we would like to see. A few things that I would love to do more in the new year include playing more table tennis, my favorite sports; swimming more in Lake Michigan during the summer, doing more reading and writing, and spending more time with family and friends.

A friend of mine recently told me an effective way to manage time is to block out hours for designated tasks. I will try to do that and be more efficient and disciplined.  Certainly want to live a more balanced and full life. I shall have to see what the new year brings and whether my resolve holds!

Jian Ping, author of Mulberry Child: A Memoir of China, which has been developed into an award-winning documentary movie by Susan Morgan Cooper and is narrated by Jacqueline Bisset. Visit for more information.


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