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Figuring out what's next, I need help.

We finally made it to the end of the week. Barely. Nevermind. It’s now the end of the weekend. I started this post on Friday and figured I should finish it now before I head into another long workweek. It may be confusing to read since the weekend is over.


One stressful thing about working in an IT management role is that taking a day off doesn't really help because the work doesn't go away, it just piles up. I know I know, work never ends and I should have healthy boundaries with work and try not to work all weekend, just like I tell all of you. If I was a better manager, this wouldn't be the case. But I'll get there, I hope. It was a very long last few days. I'm thankful the weekend is finally here. Aren't you??


Since my last post, I had a handful of people reach out to me that I heard from in decades. Friends I was so close to at one point. One of them was from elementary school and left me a really thoughtful voice memo that they are here for me in case I need to talk. It really made me smile listening to it. I guess some didn't even know that Teri passed away. Perhaps they missed the first Facebook post a year ago. Not sure. Regardless, I'm thankful to always feel loved. Unfortunately, I haven't really gotten back to most of them. Why? I still feel anxious and overwhelmed with trying to process everything that's been happening with me lately and don't have the energy to catch people up in detail since I last saw them decades ago. Things are complicated. What do I mean? I guess in summary, I've been all over the place and struggle with even talking about it in a productive manner with friends and even my therapist. I’m a mess. But it doesn’t seem that way when we hang out since I’m usually fine when I’m with someone or busy with work.


What's most complicated these days is really figuring out my new "purpose" and what actually excites me these days, besides the idea of writing a book. I don't even get excited about doing triathlons anymore and now think, what in the world was I doing when I used to compete in 20+ races per year?? I then thought, why is it so difficult these days for me to figure this out? I literally help so many people and colleagues come up with plans on how to take an idea or a vision and make it reality. I can plan a birthday conference for almost 200 people and give direction on how to manage IT projects and set department goals/KPIs for a company that generates 3 billion dollars a year, but for myself…forget about it. I guess my problem is that I'm lacking a clear vision of what I want to do with my life now that Teri isn't coming back.


Speaking of my favorite person Teri, I've been thinking about some of the lessons learned from our Relationship Lifeline seminar that we attended in late 2018. One powerful exercise was having to make a tombstone on some poster board. It helped us get a better understanding of the vision in life we had for ourselves. Here’s what we came up with:

Thank God I took photos of everything :)


Let's talk about Teri's first, since it will make me feel better:

A loving, kind, generous, courageous, spiritual adventurous wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend. She loved to include others and marvel in God's creation on Earth.

Nothing to argue about "loving, kind, generous, courageous, spiritual, and adventurous." Many of you can share stories about Teri for hours about these attributes. Teri also always bragged about how she was an includer. I would tell her that I'm an excluder. This led to a lot of arguments since I don't like hanging out in big groups (E40 doesn't count). Doing double dates was my threshold, anything more was usually because Teri wanted as many people as possible and didn’t see a need to exclude anyone when we had a get together.


People won't believe me when I say this, but I actually wanted a small wedding. I really just wanted to go to the courthouse since that's efficient and the “E” in Erwin always stood for efficient. I will always remember the courthouse wedding of Arian and Gilberto and having a nice intimate reception at Tap's afterwards. That was one of the most memorable weddings! I said to Teri that we should do the exact same thing. Instead, we ended up with close to 300 people at the Diamond Bar Center. She wanted everyone there. Looking back, I'm sure glad we had a big wedding and many of you reading were able to make it. We also lucked out that most of my brilliant ideas for the wedding got vetoed. Everything really worked out that day.

9-8-19

I’ve looked at the wedding photos so many times. It was a really special day for us.


Mayo is working around the clock


Lots of walks around the lake on Saturday

I've also been thinking about not just the loss of Teri, but how coincidentally, several of my close friends have entered into new life stages (relationships or moving away). I'm the only single one in my friend circles and in the Orora IT management team (I spend a lot of time with these guys). It feels a bit awkward now, since everyone is very nice to me and tries really hard to make me feel included, just like Teri would. I'm pretty happy for everyone, and understand that just like Teri passing away, there is a time and place for every relationship on this earth.


Last small group hangout with Les and Nga. Thankful they visit us in a few weeks!

The whole idea of "marvel in God's creation on Earth" is a good idea I should consider. Even though I spend a lot of time outdoors, I rarely think about God's creations. Sometimes I'll take a picture of the sunset or actually pay attention to nature during my bike rides and runs. Usually my mind is just thinking about other stuff I need to do later that day, or "why am I here" if we are doing a bike ride or run that's going a lot longer than planned.

Took a photo yesterday while walking Mayo

My Tombstone


I have one thing to smile about. It’s the last line I wrote:

Left his wife and family in a good place

This week had a lot of ups and downs. When I feel the most sad about Teri, I have to remind myself about what her our friend Lori said to me on Tuesday that I’ll never forget. “Teri was at the peak of her spiritual life and she was truly ready to meet Jesus.” When I really think of that truth, I can’t help but smile that I had a front row seat in seeing God beautifully work in her life up until she took that last breath at 1:30am on 4/2/23. It really is a miracle when I think about all of this. It’s a miracle since we went through some major ups and downs. Some I’ve shared about here, some I’ll share in the book.


Wanting to meet new people


Dog Park that’s by my old job

All this alone time isn’t that easy. I spend almost my free afternoons at the dog park or in the Woodbridge plaza eating a meal by myself. Let’s be real, it’s not for Mayo and wanting to win the “Dog dad of the Year” award, it’s so I can hopefully meet someone. After ~6 attempts in the past 2 weeks, I finally had a meaningful conversation with a nice young woman named Lexi at the dog park. She was extremely friendly to me and everyone that wanted to greet her dog. I awkwardly sat next to her even though there was several empty benches around us. We talked for about an hour, on and off, with lots of interruptions when one of our dogs had to poop or other dogs took away our attention. We talked about grief since she saw that I was reading a book on grief and she asked about it. How thoughtful to ask about what book I was reading. She lost her best friend a year ago and gave me lots of advice she’s learned about the grieving process. She asked about Teri and how she passed away. She must have been in her late 20s, but was so mature and curious. I could have talked to her for much longer. She reminded me of Teri.


Before I could tell her that grieving is a part time job for me and all my ideas, it was time to go. We walked out together. Then we talked a bit more, and then someone came to talk to her about her dog, so I just got in my car and drove off. It was nice knowing that there’s strangers out there like Lexi that I can connect with in a very short amount of time.


No, we did not exchange contact info. She has a boyfriend. But I do hope I’ll see her again.



Now for a brief commercial break. The shop has new merchandise! Check out this super cute knitted Mayo:


Okay the truth is, I only have one of them and probably won’t plan on mass producing these since it takes a lot of time to make. It does play a fun distraction when I make a big deal about all this Mayo merchandise. Maybe one day something will go viral?


So what help do you need?


Well if I had to write another tombstone now, I’m not sure what to write. I get sad thinking about all of this. What comes to mind is along the lines of wanting to help my close friends and family in their relationships not through giving advice or lecturing, but by just sharing my story. I am less interested in being a triathlete and using fitness to connect with people. Or an IT professional, although AI really fascinates me. Or even serving at church. Those are still important, but not as much as they were to me when I wrote the tombstone when I was with Teri.


Bedtime


Okay it’s getting late. I guess my encouragement to all of you is to spend a minute thinking about your own tombstone and what you would write on it. I’ll try to do the same. Why wait to spend thousands of dollars on a 4 day intensive relationship seminar when you can just do it now. Then you can share it with me so we can talk about it. Better we talk about this stuff than me go to the dog park.


Thanks for reading and your continued prayers and support.


Have a great week,

Erwin




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My tombstone would probably read, “Mayo’s favorite Aunt and Professional Petting Zoo keeper “😊 thanks for sharing Erwin. I feel like a mess sometimes, too. I feel I’m all over the place and wish I could be more focused. One day at a time, right? Hope you have a good week

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Your honesty about the messiness of grief is all too real. Thank you. Seeing this tombstone exercise gave me pause, Erwin... I think it will take some guts to do it. And woah, 2018. How is the book (The Deepest Place)?

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It’s a fantastic book, one of my favorite books on grief (and I’ve read many). Simple and lots of good quotes I’ve been meaning to share here.


Thanks for reading and being intentional yesterday at church to say hi and give me a hug while I was in the back!

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Take your time processing. Grief is hard enough (aka part time job). Those that love you want you to do what you need to do to heal. Catching up will come naturally. And even if it doesn’t, it’s nice to know that your friends care. I pray God guides you towards your new purpose. 🙏

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Jeena Livience Lim

1977–20XX Her contentment and greatest joy was Jesus Christ, who made Matthew 19:29 her reality on earth.


"And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life."


Very interesting exercise.


Praying that the Lord grants you clarity and direction (even if it's just to wait in Him).

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Thank you Jeena for always inspiring me from afar and making an effort to see me when you’re in town. It’s a privilege to get to support you from here and hope to visit CZ again one of these days!

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