Female Power!!

When I see more and more women in power, I can only applaud it! I like to see more women in high position and have been reading Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg eagerly.

I must say that I am surprised to see that Chinese women can be very strong. When I see women here in Shenzhen and how they treat their boyfriend/husband, I am surprised to see how much power they yield over them. Men are usually seen carrying everything, even their spouse’s purse. This goes too far for me, as I still want to see a man as masculine and a man carrying a female purse looks strange.

The first and still only time that I went to Sichuan, my husband’s hometown, I was surprised at how strong the women are there. I couldn’t bear it as they were loud and I got a headache from just being around them.

But, now I know more about my husband’s character. I already saw his mother is very loud and rules in the household and his father is very quiet and never speaks up. I heard this is typical for Sichuan households, so my husband is also quiet and does a lot for me. Whenever I want something, he almost drops everything and helps me out.

We must find a balance where men and women are equal and I try to obtain that in my relationship. I want equal rights for both genders, as I know that there are still a lot of women in China that don’t have any rights yet. But, we also need to make sure that we don’t become too strong and make men too docile.

Anyway, I love the tendency where women have more leadership roles in business and government. Men and women have different thoughts and combined we can make businesses and countries more successful. It is never good to say that one is better than the other. We need both for balancing things. To follow the ancient Chinese philosophy of Yin Yang: one cannot be without the other. And both have something of the other in them. We are not totally female or male. Every woman has some degree of masculinity as every man has some degree of femininity in them.

I am really looking forward to the future and see how the world emerges with this balance of the sexes. I can only think that it will be a better world where women are respected and listened to and where men can also speak up and are not afraid to talk about their feelings.


Do you have your partner yet?

Chinese New Year has just been gone and it didn’t only bring holiday stress about the traveling, the money you have to give (the notorious ‘hongbao’) or the food that needs to be prepared. But, for many Chinese, it also brought the stress of having to have a boyfriend or girlfriend and if they have that, to get married and even then, to have a baby as soon as possible.

I am so happy to be a Western woman. Yes, my parents also wanted me to settle down with a man and have my 2.5 children in a house with a white fence, but if I said “no” they wouldn’t keep on pushing. They would know that it would not help anyway.

I got married to my Chinese husband quite quickly, but that was because we felt we were meant for each other as we share the same interests and view of life. I was also already 35 years old (and yes, my first marriage, so I think my parents partied many days when they heard I finally got married). For me, it was not important. I got a few relationships before and just living together was enough.

My Chinese husband got married when he was 28 years old and they had a baby soon after that all because of the pressure his parents were putting on him. No need to tell you that they also got divorced quite quickly after that. He told me that he didn’t love her, but he needed to do it as his parents were just putting too much pressure on him. If I would hear that, I would leave him too. Marriage supposed to be special and you should do it because you love and respect each other and want to show that to all the people you care.

It seems not here in China, because unfortunately, my husband’s parents hadn’t learned from the mistake they did with him. They were doing the same to his younger sister.
Already for a couple of years, her parents were anxious as she was getting closer and closer to 30 years old and still didn’t have anyone serious. They were organizing blind dates and were pushing her into a man’s arms. Last year, the year she turned 30, she finally met someone and she got married after only 2 months. Probably because of the pressure. My husband didn’t like it as he wants to prevent her from having the same troubles as he had. All we can hope for is that they truly love each other.

At the wedding, we were telling them that we can all travel to Europe together this year, but all of a sudden the mother was listening to that and she said that the daughter won’t be able to travel when she is pregnant. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. She finally got her parents’ wish: got married before she was considered ‘too old’ and now she has to produce a baby as soon as possible! In what a society are Chinese living? I pity them more and more. They don’t seem to have any freedom. Parents are behaving like monsters to their children. Is this the parental love that most Chinese are so proud to say that it is a cornerstone of their culture? Parental love should be unconditional, which means: you love your children no matter what they are doing.

When even basic needs are not met

I still remember those early days when I just moved to China. I lived in Yangshuo, a touristy little town in Guangxi province. There was luckily a decent expat community, so I still had Western conversations and didn’t have to speak Chinese.

But, soon I started to see that to be totally immersed in China was quite difficult. There were no Western products and I was surprised when I went from supermarket to local grocery shop to beauty shop to finally understand that Chinese don’t use deodorant. I was quite shocked as in the West, men and women use deodorant from when they are a teenager. I couldn’t understand and didn’t believe it at first.

Another most awkward and frustrating moment was to realize that Chinese women don’t use tampons. No way that I would go back to grandma’s sanitary pads!

So, I remember that I emailed my mother in exasperation to quickly send me deodorant and tampons (and while sending those anyway, some Belgian chocolate to comfort me. For us Belgians this is as much a basic need as these other two).

Flash forward 9 years later and married to a Chinese for almost 3 years now. He doesn’t understand the deodorant thing and another Western thing: shaving armpits and legs.

Last week, was the first time my husband ever used deodorant as he sees me doing it every day and doesn’t understand why. So, he finally had the courage to try it himself.

The other thing we even had some big discussions about was why I had to shave my armpits and legs. I told him that I feel like a man if I don’t and I want to feel like a woman. I don’t care that much about clothes or shoes, but there is no way I am going to let my hair grow in these places.

In the beginning of our relationship, we went trekking for at least 6 days by tent. We couldn’t shower during those 6 days and I felt an immense relief when I could finally shower, but the best part was, to be able to remove the hair from my legs. I felt civilized and clean again.

It’s interesting to see the differences in cultures and it doesn’t have to be the big things. It’s those little everyday things that make it interesting. I would never stop to think about using deodorant or shaving legs in the West and nobody would mention it as it is such a normal thing to do. But in China you see that it is not so common and that other people see it as something weird to do.

I can’t wait to take my husband back to Europe and see what he thinks of it. Now, he just went for 2 weeks on holiday, but that is not the same as living there and starting to miss those everyday little habits that you do! Although, I already got him hooked on drinking a cup of coffee every morning. He is slowly getting there.

About persistence and new habits…

Beep beep beep… The alarm goes off in the morning. Way too early, like everyday. What do you do? Do you hit snooze a few times before you finally stumble out of bed or do you jump out ready to start your day?

Your action has a lot to do with what you think. If you think about all the tasks that are waiting for you, or that annoying colleague that you have to face or that you have to leave your warm bed and are simply not ready to face the cold yet. Then, for sure you will hit snooze.
But… When you think about the things you are grateful for first thing you wake up, then you will feel more energetic and ready to start! You can be grateful for a lot of things, like being healthy, having a place to sleep, having enough food, etc. You get the picture!

There is another way to jump out of bed as soon as the alarm goes off. One that I apply and it really helps me to take immediate action. One of the new habits I wanted to create, was to start exercising in the morning. To be grateful was good to get me out of bed, but not to make me feel motivated to immediately start running or so.
So, now, whenever I want to hit the snooze button I remember the person that I was (and still am) and picture the person I want to become. I create a lot of pain in my mind, that is, I imagine that if I snooze, I will never realize my goals, will not be fit and be just the person I am today or even worse (getting fatter, getting lazier,…).
I, then, picture the joy I would have to get up, do a healthy morning routine of exercise and healthy breakfast that I just jump out of bed and have enough energy to run 10 km or practice Tai Chi or do any other kind of exercise.

That is how I believe we can achieve our goals faster and be more productive: link pain to your past behavior that didn’t serve you and link pleasure to habits that will help you become the person you want to be!

Check my website for more information about what I do:

Tai Chi as a lifestyle

What is Tai Chi?
When I ask people this question, they picture old Chinese people doing exercise in the park, so they see it mainly as a health exercise.

Did you ever think that Tai Chi could be like an iceberg? The top you see above the water is what you see people doing. The rest (most of the mountain) is hidden under water, like most of Tai Chi is hidden in our bodies and mind.

How to start Tai Chi practice?
Tai Chi starts with basic movements and meditation. For me, I also didn’t like meditation the first months of my Tai Chi practice. I found I didn’t want to waste time to just standing still. I wanted to learn the Tai Chi movements and focused on how to perform them well. It was only after I really put some effort in doing the meditation every day for 15 to 20 minutes that I felt a huge difference. I walked differently, like my feet were sucked to the ground with every step and my Tai Chi practice took a whole other level: I had better balance, better focus, better… just an overall huge improvement of my movements.

The basic movements in Tai Chi consist of the figure 8 movement to loosen your hips and to improve coordination with your legs and arms. Our hips are very stiff, because we always do exercise in a linear way: walk, run, cycle,… Our hips don’t loosen, on the contrary, they become more stiff. With Tai Chi you have to move your hips in a circular way, you will loosen your hips and release any blockages you have in any of your joints.

Further Tai Chi practice
With every Tai Chi movement, you focus on your Dantian, the energy center in your body, located just 2 fingers under your navel. From there the energy moves all over your body, to every limb and back to your center. When you feel uncomfortable in a certain area of your body, you have a blockage there. With continued practice and the flow of the movements and Qi (as your energy is called in Chinese), you will release this blockage.

Tai Chi is much more than just exercise, it works with your energy and enhances the natural healing process of your body.

I welcome everyone to my workshops to experience it for yourself. If you can’t attend, send me a private message and we can do an online session. I don’t like to make videos, because you need a teacher to correct your movements. If you do the movements wrong, you will hurt yourself.

Visit my website: http://www.bodymindchallenger.org

“Kathy De Leye. originally from Belgium, has been in China since 2008 where she has been studying Tai Chi ever since. In 2013, she won a gold and silver medal at an international competition in Henan, China. She received a high score in both the traditional and sword form at the Tai Chi World Championship in 2014, respectively 8.65 for her traditional form and 8.88 for her sword form.
Her aim is to let everyone know the benefits of Tai Chi.”

Communism and Capitalism

Last Saturday, we went to see the movie 芳华, Youth. It’s about young people growing up in the seventies in China. They are part of an arts group of the Communist army and they are singing and dancing to keep morale up for the soldiers and to promote the communist ideas of Mao.

I am fascinated about that time. How can millions of people be captured by the ideas of one leader and still until this day, Mao Zedong is revered by many Chinese as their Big Savior. When I lived in Yangshuo, I could still see his picture hanging in many houses and even though my husband doesn’t really care, he still knows all the songs and he is singing them with a big smile. So, even though he doesn’t want to admit it, but he has the communist ideas as it was still a big part of his childhood.

China is so different from the West in the sense that everyone is following what others are doing. I have difficulties with communicating with Chinese people as they don’t have creative thoughts and no imagination. When they have been more exposed to the West, I can see that they are thinking differently. So, even after decades that Mao has died, he still holds power over this nation. His ideas are still a big part of Chinese culture and many people are singing his songs with great fervor.

That same Saturday evening we went to a friend’s place and were playing monopoly, a capitalist game, although before I never thought about it that much. Eric, my husband never played it and I guess this is what is happening to China now: going from a very communist setting into an ultra-capitalist setting. We experienced all of it in one day.

It is going to be interesting how the future of China is going to look like, but I think it is already remarkable and something unique in history of what they are doing now. They are a capitalist society with a communist political system. The 2 ideologies that are totally opposite of each other, China knows how to combine. These opposites you see reflected everywhere: big neon signs, but then still older people dressed in Mao’s times clothes. Or, like the movie 芳华, shown in movie theaters and still preaching the communist ideology in Western looking malls. We have to cherish these unique Chinese quirks as they will disappear someday.

Also, because Chinese are getting a taste for the first time of their lives of what real capitalism is. That same day, we saw in front of a mall the newest Cadillac being advertised. It was sitting in a big aquarium with fish swimming around the car. That is some big extravagant exhibition and Westerners are amazed that this happens at such a level. We feel it is too over-the-top and we don’t agree with this kind of extravagance, but Chinese love it! They want the bling-bling.

Who can blame them? They have been denied their piece of the cake for a long time and now they are taking their part – big time!