It’s an Aluminium Anniversary

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 10th anniversary. Yep, the big 10 … ok, in the larger scheme of things 10 isn’t much, particularly compared to my parents’ 43 and they haven’t killed each other yet :p It’s true! Marriage is tough. My husband really doesn’t like it when I say that because it makes it sound like our marriage is especially difficult. Let me be honest here, I don’t think we’re special and our marriage isn’t especially difficult, just like my parents’ isn’t either. I think it’s a same everywhere – making a marriage work takes a lot of effort. It isn’t easy and very rarely it is.

It can be for some people and when they are, I do want to pick their brains and hearts and find out how they do it. For the rest of us mere mortals, it does take work but doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. Not at all, in fact, IMHO, it’s a positive thing that I’m working at it at least it shows I’m still interested, engaged and committed. My husband should really worry when I want to stop working at it 😉

That said, marriage like any relationship, even the seemingly simple ones take some level of effort. It should too because when it’s worth it, you want to work at it. Just don’t lose yourself. that’s the part that gets the best and the worst of us. On the flip side, don’t take the other half of the relationship for granted. Again it’s happened to all of us. So that’s me in the last 10 years of my marriage, sliding from one end of the spectrum to the other while trying to keep balance. It makes it worth while (even though some times it doesn’t feel like it particularly when my hormones go on a rampage) because my husband is riding the spectrum too! That’s my marriage in a nutshell, two individuals trying to keep a teeter-totter (that’s Canadian for a see saw) in balance 🙂

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P/S: That pretty much sums up all the dances that I do with my Mummy, Daddy, baby sister, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, cousins, aunts, uncles, best-est of friends … yah, every relationship in my life. Except maybe God who I know definitely takes the brunt of the weight!

What Kind of Mother Would I Have Been?

Growing up I always thought I’d have kids, at least two of them and if wishes came true, five or more! LOL I always did want loads of children but as life would have it, it doesn’t usually go according to plan and my maternal role is played out with my nephews, nieces, god kids and little friends.

Mothers. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Some women are a natural at it and make mothering look so easy. Yet there are some who abandoned their roles and leave vacuums to be filled by others who take up the challenge. In my lifetime, I’ve been blessed to have the former but I’ve also seen how the latter leaves permanent impact for better or worse. It’s not something I can understand, not having a mother be there for me and yet, I’ve had some friends tell me that they rather not have a mother at all than their abusive selfish mothers.

Like everything else in life, there isn’t a perfect mother and if I had a chance of being one, I would like to think I learnt from my own Mother, my Mama (paternal grandma) and my Popo (maternal grandma) and simply just love my children with all my heart. Sure, it isn’t quite as simple as that, children can drive you crazy. From my own childhood and now watching my little ones grow up, children can really test you! I hope I would have had the patience to listen, to support and to encourage.

I also hope I won’t forget to be a good wife because I think most mothers do, even fathers forget how to be good husbands. Children can take over our lives. I hope I would have remembered that it’s about being a family and not just a mother.

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I may never have any kids on my own but I definitely have kids whom I mother with all my heart; where the definition of family is much larger and Mother’s Day is just as special.

It took a couple of years but I’ve learnt sometimes life doesn’t turn out like you planned but that’s because your plan wasn’t right to begin with 🙂

Earth Day

I wonder if anyone pays attention to Earth Day anymore or if they ever did. I remember when recycling was the thing to do and now everyone talks about upcycling. For me, it’s all about trying to simplify. It wasn’t always like that. I’m as much a consumer as anyone else and I’m not sure when but one day I did realise there are a lot of things I have that I don’t really need. Just a lot of things I want. Then came the harsh realisation that if I didn’t buy all the things I wanted … I could probably have had a down payment for my dream car.

It was about 5 years or so ago when I was walking around Beijing with my then boss and asked him if he wanted to buy his wife something. He began to tell me how he and his wife have come to an agreement that they only bought things they needed and if they came home with a purchase of something they already had, they had to get rid of the old item that needed to be replaced by the new purchase. Like a light bulb that went off in my head, I thought to myself I like that and I’ll try it out.

Fast forward to 2017 and I’ve mostly stuck to that rule. Couple of things I’ve learnt:-

  1. I never ever have to buy bags. My family and friends always seem to get me bags and I never run out of them.
  2. White pieces of clothes are the ones I replace the most. Maybe I should invest in a bib. Everything else seem to last. Again family and friends have me covered on that front too.
  3. I don’t ever buy pyjamas anymore because I just recycle/upcycle older clothes to chic sleepwear 🙂
  4. I spend a lot of money on FOOD. Being vegetarian is not the most cost efficient. Add organic and that’s the bulk of my budget.
  5. I like spending money on people I love. I don’t consume much for myself anymore but I do like buying things or experiences (especially when it’s shared with me) for my family and friends.

So I haven’t quite saved enough for my dream car but I’ve figured out that I don’t really need it anyway. On this Earth Day like every other one, I smile a little, give thanks that I’m blessed with amazing people in my life. We’re not perfect but we’re there for each other. I couldn’t ask for more and this week, my theme is more of the same – remind the people I love that I love them!

The Art of Being an Adult Child

This weekly post is a day late because I’m sitting in the Bali airport waiting for my flight to go back home to Singapore. It was the first solo weekend getaway with my Mum, it was also her first time to Bali. And it was a success, imho 🙂

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I’ve managed to make my Mum fall in love with Bali as much as I do. Honestly, before I wasn’t sure because there’s certain things my Mum doesn’t like … messy developing states and humid weather, just to name a couple but she does LIKE Bali, its massages and chilling by the villa!! That’s what I like being an adult child, being the one who opens our parents mind to something different, something new, something they would never do on their own. They did it for us while we were growing up and now as they are learning to get use to the next phase of their life -their silver years. They have to get use to us, the adult child being the ones who do the parenting.

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It’s so easy to see the stuff our parents do that drive us crazy, you know the stuff we complain about and eventually become 😉 Yah, those parts. For better or worse, I’m grateful I like my parents and if I’m eventually going to be like them, it isn’t going to be that bad. For me at least, not sure about my husband 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, they aren’t perfect … far from it but they’ve who I got and they made me. You’ve heard the saying, ” Karma’s a bitch.” I’m my parents karma despite their pretty easy going ways raising me, I’m not an easy going adult child. I’m not quite sure why, I’m just not. I yell, I’m bossy and I’m controlling as hell but I’m learning trying to figure out life, being an adult, being me and when it comes to my parents, being an adult child.

I read a good advice somewhere once about how to be a good parent. It was simple. Just show up, be present and be there. It’s true, it really is quite that simple. You can’t always be there, can’t always be present and other times you simply can’t show up. Things happen, they do but you try your darn-est. Kids will get it. Me and my sister do.

So that’s what I’m learning about being an adult child, just try my best to show up, be present and be there. Next, to show up and be present while trying to open my parents’ mind to Google Drive and Dropbox 🙂

Kit Kats and the Afterlife

Today is my Grandfather’s birthday. He would have been 88 so I’ll say a little prayer, have a Kit Kat and remember that all my fiesty-ness comes from him. My Kongkong loved Kit Kat. When he was in his wheelchair and barely had any teeth left, he’d still smack his jaws together and ate Kit Kat. It’s been more than a decade since he called heaven home, I still can’t see a bar of Kit Kat, not think of my Kongkong and wonder what happens in the afterlife.

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I grew up Catholic and for all intent and purpose, I suppose I’m still a practicing Catholic but as I venture into my 40s, I have a more complete understanding of spirituality. No one can actually tell you what happens after you die. Some have tried and whether you believe them or not comes down to faith. My faith was built on Christianity but my unspoken understanding of what happens when we die comes from somewhere much less structurally cognisant.  Not something I can articulate clearly but death always gave me some kind of comfort. Sad for sure, only because I’ve lost the physical form of someone I love. For whatever reason, it wasn’t a fearful concept and when my first grandparent passed away, I was even more certain when it’s my turn, they will be on the other side and I have absolutely nothing to worry about. Just lots of catching up to look forward to 🙂

Does it come from my Catholic faith? I don’t think so. Is it past lives? Catholics don’t believe in past lives and that’s a concept I can’t quite get my head around. That’s a whole other post I can write about. Back to afterlife, I don’t have a logical explanation but I always seem to innately know there is life after death. It was never a question for me. Life just continues, keeps going, I don’t know how but something in me just knows it does. I’m definitely not saying I’m right, I could totally totally be wrong. Who knows? If there’s any way I can come back and let you know, I will.

Meanwhile, this 40 something tries to take in each moment and remember in the scheme of eternity this moment is literally a blink of an eye. With that, in this sliver of time called today, I’ll throw a little caution to the wind and have myself a Kit Kat 🙂

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39 and a Half Years Old

6 months more to go and I’ll be yelling, “Hello 40!!”  Still a work-in-progress and with half of the year gone, it’s clearer today that honestly all you need to get through mistakes you’ve made is a sense of humour and time.  I always say this that I’m really lucky with my family and friends.  At this stage in life, I’ve come to realise there are toxic friends and in some sad cases, there are toxic family too.  You owe it to yourself to rid all toxic relationships.  It’s hard, very hard but filling our life with love and positive support gets you through any problem.  Lucky me, all the love I’ve surrounded myself with over the last 39 and a half year has reaffirmed how a sense of humour is the key to getting over suffering.  Also why I married my husband because he can make me laugh.

6 more months before I turn 40 and to usher that in, I’m off to Bali with my wonderful friends who’ve shared their love, laughter and pain.  All of whom will turn 40 before me and showed me that age is truly just a number and laughing over spilled milk is the best way to get over it.

 

Feeding My Soul

By most standards, I’m really really blessed.  Sure, I don’t get everything I want and that I believe keeps me humble and grateful.  For the most part, I’ve been given gifts that I don’t even realise I need.  One such gift is having 2 others places to call home in Perth and Vancouver.  2 beautiful cities in the world where I get to soak up all the nature I never knew I needed … even craved.

Our annual jaunt back to Vancouver saw me jump in a lake for the first time in my life and LOVING it.  It was like I could swim forever and not come up.

Evans Lake where my brother-in-law had a lovely forest wedding was also where I became a lake swimming virgin no more 🙂  The cold of the lake surprised me more than I expected but much more than that was how I felt like I could just go on swimming and swimming and swimming.  The water felt crystal clean.  I could never touch the bottom of the lake no matter how long I tried to hold my breath.  If not, for the wedding happening in the afternoon, I don’t think I would have left.  Yes, it did cross my mind to ask them to move the wedding party to the dock by the lake.  That was early in my trip and I hadn’t really thought much about how much stronger I felt leaving the lake than jumping into it.

Whyte Lake was the second lake I went swimming in.  My brother-in-law couldn’t believe that I’ve never swam in a lake before his wedding, he kinda made it his mission to expand my lake swimming repertoire.  So we did the Whtye Lake trail which leads you to the lake where you’re rewarded with a swim 🙂  This little hike and swim made me realised how much my body sucks up the energy from nature.  I felt winded doing the trail to the lake but after being among the amazing Douglas Fir trees and the swim, I had an unusual second wind.  It was like my body was fed and ready to go.  I started being aware of my surroundings and how it affected me.  Particularly how light I feel after being out in nature.

Growing up in Singapore, we aren’t naturally inclined to the outdoors.  It’s hot and humid most days and nature isn’t quite like it is in these other countries.  So we actually don’t know how much we get from nature, we simply never had the opportunity to find out.

And here’s the point of this post, growing up the concept of soul was a religious one.  On the way to the mid point of my life, I’ve learnt to read my soul better, to know it’s the source of why I can do good and be better.  When my soul is weak, temptations are easier to fall into, vices appear normal and I don’t yearn to try as hard to be the best version of me.  When my soul is fed, I am lighter even when things don’t go my way, when I don’t get what I want and the most negative of energies comes across like an annoying mosquito.  The question now is how do I keep feeding my soul in this concrete jungle of a home?

Rachael Turns 5

5 years ago today, after work I rushed to Gleneagles Hospital to meet my first little Goddaughter except she was in NICU and had to be there for about 48hours.  It was a little worrying at first but now that’s all in the past and she turns 5 this year.

Time seems to be flying us by and to be perfectly honest I’m not quite prepared for her turn 5.  Here’s how much I’m not.  When I was wrapping her present and her sister’s belated one, I wrote the right age for her sister, 8 and I know jolly well she’s only 3 years younger than her sister which makes her 5 but I wrote “Happy 4th Birthday”. When I collected her cake, I told the bakery I only needed 4 candles.  During the party and the girls were opening their presents I realised the mistake I did.  Yet when we were putting her candles on, I was going to put only 4 again till her 8 year old sister asked if I was alright and gave me a quizzical look like I’m losing my mind.

Yes, my baby Rachael, I’m not quite ready for you to grow up but grow up you so shall be doing.  One day, you’ll be 12, then 18, 21 and heaven forbid 30 and I’ll still treat you like my little one 🙂  Meanwhile, I’m enjoying 5 year old you.  You have this sense of humour that is pretty much like your Godpa.  You’re still super shy outside the house with strangers but a bundle of laughs when you’re all comfortable.  With your little Godsister, Caitlin, you’re the wonderful Cheachea (big sister).  I’m loving the connection we have and want to stretch your creative capabilities.  Thank you for always sharing how you see the world with me.  I live for your hugs and laughter that seem to make the world’s problems disappear.  Love you SO MUCH!!

My Niece Turns 8

Today my first niece in my life turns 8 years old.  While I’m in Vancouver and she’s in Singapore but I’ll never let her forget how important she is in my life.  In her I see bits of her Mum, her Godma, her aunts and definitely bits of me.  I’m always so grateful for her life and how she lets me into it.  So this year on her 8th birthday, here’s my wish for her.

Dearest Mabel,

I say this every year, I can’t quite believe you’re 8 already.  You were just about 20months old at my wedding.  You’re such a tween already and in your ways I remember the growing pains of getting comfortable in your own skin.  Something I only learnt when I was in my 30s.  I’m hoping that lesson doesn’t elude you quite as long.  In the meantime, here’s Meryl Streep’s take on beauty:-

He would never imagine a blonde person could speak Italian – Meryl Streep

It’s always nice and a lot of fun to look pretty and yes, the world will always judge you by how you look.  Just remember though, it isn’t what the world thinks of you that is important.  It’s what you think of yourself and who you want to become.  Always stay true to the very best version of you.  It may take you a while to figure out who that is and when it gets tough, just remember you will figure it out one day.  Meanwhile, enjoy the ride and know we love you HEAPS!!!

XOXOXOXO

Coco Carlene

 

My Swiss Goddaughter

5 is a sweet number and if I started earlier, I would love to have had 5 children so as of today, it’s official, I’ve got 5 godkids 🙂  God works in mysterious ways and even though it’s not how you exactly pictured it, He’ll give you what you wish for.

That’s me and Caitlin as she officially becomes Catholic.  With Pope Francis and this nun:-

I couldn’t think of a better time to be part of the Catholic family. Especially since I’m no longer a Godma virgin, I actually have a better idea of what Godparenting entails now.

So to my dearest Caitlin,

You’re in much better hands than your Godcheachea who was my very first Goddaughter.  I’ve learnt a lot through her and so will you.

I love watching how she fusses over you, can’t wait for you guys to grow up together and have as much fun as we did growing up.  Meanwhile, little one, I couldn’t be more proud to be your Godma.  The world will get a little crazy and sometimes it seems hard to understand why God lets things happen the way they do but I’ll let you in on what I found out. His will is the best for us.  It may not always feel like it and that’s where we’ll learn what faith means.  I have a hunch you’ll get there a lot sooner than I will.  Yes, like your Godsiblings, I’m pretty sure you’ll be teaching me more than I will you.

I love you to bits and though a continent and then some keeps us physically apart most of the time, you’re always in my prayers and thought.

With lots of love, hugs and kisses,

Godma

P/S: With a 4 year old, 1 year old and a 1 month old, I say this is a pretty good picture 🙂