Yesterday, May 18, which was a Saturday morning. I should have been very energetic and happy to begin my first day of a long weekend. The weather was great; I could feel the warm sunshine through the window when I was driving to the Skytrain station.

It is a special weekend when I have lots of precious and uncommon free time since on Friday morning John left for Ottawa on a 5-day tour with the school. That means – No housework obligation, no childcare obligation, everything is all about me, for a temporary 5 days. Yay!!! I am very excited about having the 5 days for myself.

However, the Saturday morning did not start well. I had a workshop to attend in downtown Vancouver with my friend. We arrived a bit late; then we could not find a good spot in the giant thousand-people conference. When I sat down, I couldn’t see the screen as the person in the audience in front of me was too tall, so he blocked my view. Then I decided to sit separately from my friend so each of us could have a closer seat. Plus, I did not dress appropriately and not warm, plus I was feeling a bit cold.

The workshop was for parents and students who are closer to apply for US university. Although John is in Grade 8 and my friend’s sons are younger, there is no harm to learn earlier. While I was very focused on listening and taking notes during the workshop, I received a phone call from John, and he said he was not feeling well. He wanted to go back to the hotel. He must have caught a cold plus he ate something, not right. I asked him if he could talk to the school teacher directly. He said he did, but it seemed the teacher was busy and then John said that he was feeling very sick and wanted to throw up.

After I hung up the phone, I was worried, but I could not be of any help. The thought of John’s being sick on the first day of the trip made me down. I have told him lots of time to dress warm and eat healthy when he’s out, but he never listens. I understand it, he is still a child and is still developing.

After the workshop finished around noon, I went back by skytrain as I had a gym lesson at 1:30pm.

On the way to the gym, I felt sick, I had a headache and lacked energy. I was wondering what my 1-hour gym lesson would look like since I was not feeling well but I didn’t want to cancel.

I changed into my sportswear reluctantly. Then I saw my best friend, Vanessa, smiling at me, which made me feel warm. I thought I wouldn’t do well since I was not focused and was still thinking of John.

“You are doing very well, and you seem to have improved a lot on using your leg strength.” the coach, Edison, said.

Was I hearing correctly? I thought my whole day was a bit messy and at an unusually low level; plus I was not in a good state as I felt I had caught a cold. Edison told me lots of times to focus on using my leg strength, but I didn’t know what to do about it.

I challenged all the female gym mates to do arm wrestling, and I was the worst. I could only use a 5-pound weight-lift in the gym. I swam less than 500 meters in 30 minutes. I knew I had below-average strength. I knew I was not good at squat downs, and my posture was not always correct in gym class. I told my good friends Vanessa and Diana that I was not taking gym lessons seriously due to lack of some genes in sports. I almost gave up on myself in sport.

But, Edison said I had improved a lot! Was he serious? Vanessa also smiled at me and nodded.

Miraculously I felt my energy was back. I did lots of other bending and stretching, which are some of my worst areas and I could do them all! Vanessa assured me that if I persisted, I could do very well at the gym, just like I do in my other achievements.

At that moment, I realized it was the power of encouragement. However, I did not know that it worked so well.

After the gym lesson, I started my reflection process.

When I was down in the first years in Canada as an immigrant, my mentor, Bev, never stopped encouraging me. She has always assured me that I am a wonderful young woman since 2012; she has always assured me I am doing all the right things and making the right choices; she always said if someone did not trust my ability, it’s their loss….she never stopped encouraging me! That’s how I built my confidence level day after day.

My husband and I used to not make a compliment to each other. According to his , and later it became my philosophy: family needs to be more straightforward with each other, no need to recognize each other as we are close enough to know each other’s strength. However, it’s not true! Then we realized the mistake and we can now talk nicely to each other; I can feel the difference, support, and love.

I reflected on my conversations with John, being a strict parent, I don’t always praise him but tell him what he can do better. My husband and I thought we were good parents and good students. We both graduated with good grades from graduate schools, so our son should do better than us since we are providing him better opportunities. However, praise should be an excellent way to assure his ability and improvement.

There was one time I praised him sincerely; then John smiled and went to bed happily. Why, as parents, can’t we encourage our son enough?

I learned the “sandwich” model from Toastmasters a few years ago. It’s the model of “Praise positively + suggestions for better + Praise and recognizes positively.” It really worked well when I used it to communicate with peers.

How did I almost forget about using it in my family?

I know it’s the Chinese way to be reserved and save our encouragements and praise in a family. Starting from today, I told my husband we shall remind each other, to sincerely recognize and praise each other more each day.