Rooting for Truth – A sojourner returns to the family villages

For two years, I looked forward to taking my sister Florence to our family’s villages. After much planning, we finally arrived in early November 2018. I remembered the way after studying my notes from the trip in 2016 and Google and Baidu maps on-line. However, as we drove to San Duo village, road construction blocked our path. In just two years, the expansion of S273 meant that the rickety signage to San Duo was torn down and the entrance closed. No matter, we headed to Hong May village and the timing was perfect. san duo (4)

I wondered if the girl who was getting married in 2016 moved to her husband’s village and if I’d see any of the ladies who shared goodies they had made for the wedding. I hoped to reconnect with the village chief but learned that he was in the hospital. After touring the usual spots in China, here we were in a small village in the Taishan District of Guangdong. The village where our great grandfather Louie Fat was born. We walked down the narrow path to the plot of land where his house once stood. Someone had erected a make-shift brick wall to circle a patch of green onions. Jiegua/zitgwaa節瓜(fuzzy squash) still grew on the south side of the plot.

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With the help of a village lady, I paid respects to our ancestors by burning incense. Maybe because of the brick circular wall in the middle of the plot, I did not feel my ancestors’ presence this time the way I had in 2016. What a powerful moment that was for me. One that had affected others in my Rooting group almost as much as it did me.

This time I walked around the village taking it all in because it was surreal for me in 2016. This time I wanted to smell the earth, touch the grey brick walls that had stood for over a hundred and fifty years, and imagine what it was like walking through the narrow alleyways from house to house, house to field, village to village.

img_4072I met several elders who welcomed me even though we could not speak the same language. Did they sense that I “belonged” here? Their smiles and gentle hands held me with delight. I wanted to know their stories too. Did they or their parents know my great grandfather and grandfather? Whatever they experienced in their eighty-ninety years of life in Hong May, in this moment they were radiant. I watched as their children came to their home to prepare their meal with simple yet elegant filial piety.

You can imagine my surprise when a man came up to us and said in perfect English, “Hey. Where are you from?” After we recovered from our shock, we asked him where he was from. Peter Louie said, “I was born here, but I live in San Francisco now. I come back to visit my relatives every year.” Was he like our ancestors who came to San Francisco to create businesses and sent money back to their relatives in the village? Observing him with his family at the village and later at the restaurant where we went for lunch helped me envision what “homecomings” must have been like for Louie Fat in the late 1800s.

hong may collage

As we drove out, I noticed the banyan tree and an altar at the front of the village. We stopped and got yet another perspective of the village. Even though my great grandfather’s house was torn down for reasons unknown to me so far, the people of the village and the new buildings speak to the vitality and prosperity that has returned to Hong May.

After our lunch, we headed back to S273 to figure out how to get around the construction at San Duo village. Thankfully, we were able to jump the ditch and left the driver who found another entrance.

I wondered if the lady with the pink chair was still there and was delightfully surprised to find her. She was shy at first and she probably did not remember me, but after a few explanations from a young man, she perked up; and when I gave her the photograph of her from 2016, she smiled ear-to-ear. 30878114637_25ab16fa1b_zShe’s ninety now and still spry and still has her pink chair. I wonder if she will be there on my next trip back to the village and if she is, next time, I will ask her name, but she will always be the “lady with the pink chair” to me.

This time, I followed the directions on my map that I’d created from the notes I made from the files at the National Archives. This time, the village chief was there to open the door to my grandfather’s (Louie Mow) house. This time, I climbed the rickety wooden ladder up to the altar where tablets for the twentieth and nineteenth generation still stood. san duo (9)

Too excited, I didn’t move the incense bowl to get a better photograph, one that I could use to translate their names to add to my genealogy records and I forgot to pay respects with incense and paper money much less firecrackers. Somehow, I know my ancestors understood. Instead, I took in the view of the doorways below as I climbed down the stairs. I noted the sophistication of the designs even if not well made. Even though there was little furniture in the room and the house was obviously used for storage rather than for living accommodations, I knew back-in-the-day it must have hummed with activity when my father and his two brothers lived there.

san duo collage

As we left San Duo, I noticed what must have been the old entrance. A factory invades the space now, but as I looked back toward the village and noticed the rice drying where two years ago construction equipment was strewn about and the renovated community building, I knew that I’d be back again to learn more about the people, my people and the stories of their lives, reflections of my ancestors.

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Rooting for Truth – A Legacy Lives On

Rooting for truth has taken a new dimension for me. Two years ago, I found a nugget that turned out to be a gold vein. The veins grew and grew until I traveled to Beijing in October where I was able to meet Lei Zhangbao and his family. He is a direct descendant of Yangshi Lei, eight generations of architects for the last eight emperors.

Thanks to Liu Hao from MyChinaRoots for helping me with the research, setting up and translating for me at our meeting, and 20181028_132338-1helping me at the Tsinghua University Library.

You can imagine how excited we were to visit the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, and the Summer Palace, places that Yangshi Lei designed and built. I can hardly wait to write a book about this branch of the family tree who is listed in UNESCO’s Memory of the World Registry. You’ll have to read my book to find out why.

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Next, back to Taishan and what we discovered at the villages.

The Cosmic 2 x 4

As anyone who has had an “awakening experience” can tell you, the cosmic 2 x 4 is tailor-made to get your attention. It comes in all shapes and sizes. In fact, I believe that where you put your attention is where the Universe will plop the thing in your lap. I also believe it comes as a cosmic 2 x 4 because we missed the hints, nudges and even potholes along the way. Rarely do we miss the big one.

Such was the case for Eben Alexander, M.D., a successful neurosurgeon who suffered a week long coma and near death experience that rocked his world. His left-brained scientific background studying the brain did not prepare him for other worldly connections that forced him to think about the nature of consciousness in a very different way. His journey to understand the ramifications of his experience unfolds in his latest book, Living in a Mindful Universe. Thankfully, during his explorations he discovered that one does not have to have a near death experience to tap into ones higher consciousness. Enter Karen Newell, co-founder of Sacred Acoustics. Her innovative work in brainwave entrainment audio meditations not only mirrors Alexander’s experience on the other side but also demonstrates key practices of consciousness exploration: heart awareness, intention, and more.

If you have become aware of the hints, nudges, and potholes dancing around in your life, you will not want to miss the two-day event with Alexander and Newell: Living in a Mindful Universe/Into the Heart of Consciousness. I hope you will join us.

Even if you are not able to join us, be mindful of those hints in your life that call to you to “Wake up.”

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Celebrating Love

I want to take a moment to thank my very dear friends for asking me to talk to their son, who passed over this week. Talking with him was a reminder to me that there is perfection even where our ordinary consciousness sees imperfection and all the opportunities we have to love unconditionally.

It will take me a while to put into words all that he is showing me, but I wanted to share the music I hear surrounding this beautiful old soul, welcoming him to the other side.

 

I love the words from this poem by Mary Elizabeth Frye.

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there; I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow,
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sun on ripened grain,
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

It is part of the human experience to feel all kinds of emotions when a loved one passes. Honor those feelings and know that love does not die. Love is eternal.

 

What does spiritual prosperity mean?

What if amid the turmoil we see going on in our world we could create a beautiful life? What if despite the negative reports of economic downturn we could live in a prosperous world? What if we could live in a peaceful place when all around us there is chaos? In other words, what does it truly mean to be spiritually prosperous?

Those are some of the what ifs we will explore in the Spiritual Prosperity Consciousness workshop. Sign up here.

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Divine Discontent can lead to Bliss

Many people search for purpose in their life. Others plow through life as if driven by the challenge to “grab the brass ring,” and then there are those folks who have accomplished much – success, fortune, recognition, and power – but feel as if something is missing. To make matters worse, they do not know what’s missing; just that there is a void in their lives that success and money cannot fill.

I call this “divine discontent.” Divine because I believe it is one’s Soul tugging at one’s conscious awareness as if to say, “Is that all there is? Surely, there’s more to life, but what?”

I believe it is the first call to awaken to one’s  true self. In other words, to listen to the still small voice within, the Soul’s voice, because we are more than mere mortals, mere physical beings. However, just as physical beings must crawl before they walk, I believe one must attain a certain level of evolution before awareness of one’s Soul occurs. Just as crawling/walking/running is a process, so too is awakening to Self/Soul. Just as many other experiences are possible when we learn to walk, so too when we accept that we are more than physical beings. And then, Divine Discontent leads us to our true purpose, the reason why we chose this incarnation.
For me, the path from Divine Discontent to understanding my life’s purpose also means understanding my life’s purpose for many lives, to witness lesson learned in one life or not learned in another. I can no longer look at my current life from a one life perspective because I see the connections that show me clearly how impossible it would be to fulfill one’s life purpose in one incarnation. By understanding that there is a bigger picture, even if I do not yet see it completely, I now feel the excitement of anticipation about where Divine Discontent will lead me.

open-door-blue-sky1I now know to push through the divine discontent like pushing through a door to a room I never saw before. I know that something awaits me on the other side of that door. I shall embrace it with all my heart and soul as a child cherishes a new toy, or a scientist stands in awe of a new discovery, or an artist beholds his creation and wonders “Did I do that?”
I now know that my life can be magical as I accept my purpose as a Soul who chose this body, this incarnation and I am divinely content.

Rooting for Truth – patience and persistence pays off!

Another day at NARA (National Archives) and digging through more files, I hit pay dirt. The ratio of Chinese women to men in the early days of Chinese Sojourners to the Gold Mountain (U.S.) was very small. So, I cannot help wonder what motivated my grand-uncle to bring his young wife, Toy Shee, to San Francisco in 1928. I cannot help wondering what she must have felt as she birthed three children in this strange land. However, I have a feeling that my uncle Don (Louie Hung Don) would have cherished that young family as much as he loved spending time with me and my siblings in the 40’s and 50’s because he was one of the “bachelors” (the thousands of men alone).

What a difference it was reading Toy Shee’s interrogation versus her husband’s! And what a treasure trove of information painting a picture of her life in China. She must have come from a family of substance because ten servants accompanied her as she rode a sedan chair to her wedding. No doubt they were loaded down with gifts for the Louie family as well as all her worldly possessions. She proffered her husband (my paternal grand-uncle), a man she had never met, a cup of wine and paid respects to his ancestors at the family altar. Then, he went to the men’s celebration while she stayed at her new home with the women. A home she’d share with her in-laws and their servant, a young girl who fetched water from a river a few blocks from the house.

How did she feel when her husband returned to the Gold Mountain before their first child was born? How did she feel when he returned, decided to take her back with him but left their first-born with his parents?

A note to fellow genealogy researchers who are new to the Chinese traditions: Toy Shee means that she was from the Toy clan. I do not know what her birth name was. I do not know if a woman took a “married name” as her husband (Louie Kaow/Louie Qiao Wei) did. Her confident gaze speaks volumes to me even though she could not write or even sign her name.

I hope her spirit and/or the children’s will tell me more. Until then, I will enjoy MY grand-nieces and the memories of the day we shared exploring the Korean Market, snacked on fermented blue crabs, baby crabs, ramen, glass noodles and more. I’ll enjoy my extended family (new ‘cousins’ I met while doing research at NARA) as we dig through the documents, the Jiapu, and of course more food.

“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It.”

In memory of my father – Louie Hung On, my grandfather – Louie Mow, and my great-grandfather – Louie Fat. As merchants, they were more fortunate than many Chinese who came to America. However, when I read the documents from the National Archives, I witness how they were treated. One hundred thirty-six years after my great-grandfather came to this country, I remember.
 
Now, I understand why my father was so secretive about his journey from China to the United States. In part, it had to do with the Chinese Exclusion Act, passed on May 6, 1882. Today is a day of remembrance, lest we forget.
 
I stand on the shoulders of my ancestors and all of the Chinese who came to America and claimed their rights for freedom and justice. They helped make this country what it is and the United States is better for their contributions.
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Apology for the Chinese Exclusion Act

On June 18, 2012, the United States House of Representatives passed a resolution, introduced by Congresswoman Chu, that formally expresses the regret of the House of Representatives for the Chinese Exclusion Act, which imposed almost total restrictions on Chinese immigration and naturalization and denied Chinese-Americans basic freedoms because of their ethnicity. This was only the fourth time that the U.S. Congress issued an apology to a group of people.

Rep Judy Chu

“Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It.” George Santayana

Join me on the Jamie Dawn Show – 12Radio – May 3rd @ 11:00 a.m.

I’m looking forward to joining my friend, Professional Psychic and Intuitive Life Coach Jamie Dawn on her 12Radio Show on May 3rd.    It reminds of the time I was on an NPR show where my host introduced me as “an interior designer who has designs on your interior,” and the woman who called in to say that reincarnation was nonsense. I’ve had to deal with worse, so I told her that this was my experience and I did not expect anyone to believe it or not.
I’ve come a long way since then. I finally finished the book I’ve been working on for so many years and understand why it took so long to write it. I understand that the woman who called the NPR show is on her path and I am on mine as we all are; I understand that everything is in Divine Order and it’s all about love.
I’ll share stories from the book, Conversations with a Hungry Ghost: Memoir of a Reluctant Medium, and about the process of writing and publishing it, about the spiritual journey that began when I accepted my gift as a medium.
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I hope you will join Jamie and me live and call in with your questions. It’s always fun when we get together. You never know who (from the other side) is going to show up.  Just in case you cannot make the live show, it will be recorded and both Jamie and I will share it on our websites.