Ergonomic (adjective)– having design characteristics that are easy and safe for users; intended to provide optimum comfort and to avoid stress or injury

When I was growing up, my mum did not mess around with three aspects of raising me and my younger sister: problem-solving toys, organic food, and ergonomic furniture. In several ways, she was forward-thinking and ahead of her time.

Mastermind was one of my favorite two-player board games to bring when traveling. First, a person picks out four pegs without repeating colors from a selection of six colors. The goal of the other player is to guess not only the right combination of colors but also in the correct order (permutation). To provide feedback to the guesser, the first player selects a white peg for each color that is present on the board but in an incorrect position or a red peg for each correct color in the correct position. Mastermind has helped kill time on the road and probably prevented sibling fights caused by boredom.

For as long as I can remember, my mum has been buying organic food and subscribing to Community Supported Agriculture. We ate and got accustomed to “cute” rice, a nickname for a mixture of brown, purple, and multi-grain rice that my mum coined to appeal to us kids. Back then I considered it a luxury to have white rice when I went to a friend’s house for dinner. My mother and a few of our neighbors purchased organic bulk items via mail order from Taipei because the organization she bought from, Homemakers Union Consumers Co-op (HUCC), has yet to own a physical store in southern Taiwan. We watched HUCC expanded their retail stores as they grew over the years with 56 locations currently throughout Taiwan. With food safety frequently ranks as a top concern for the Taiwanese people, HUCC membership continues to grow exponentially.

Last but not least were the ergonomic writing furniture that accompanied my education from elementary school through high school. The desks didn’t have drawers, which I found strange at first. The height of the desk, the height of the seat, and the back support of the chair were all adjustable. The desk was set at the level where my elbows naturally rested, and I didn’t tiptoe or over bend my knees. At the beginning of each school year, my sister and I would silently compete who’s grown more and move each component up an inch or two accordingly.

Now flying to spend quality time with my family in Hawaii, I realized as much as I wish the airline served “cute” rice and had ergonomic seats on the plane, I am tremendously grateful for the thoughtfulness my mum put into our upbringing. I can’t wait to thank and her her in person!


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