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 🙂

Shoes and Feet

Earlier this week, I left the house early for a 10am meeting. Feeling pretty chuffed that I was going to have time to settle down at my desk, make my favourite tea and get in the right frame of mind for my pitch meeting. Then I turn onto the major road about a minute from my home and BAM I was in a massive jam. Usually it can get a little crazy because of the transit construction that’s going in and around where I live but this was unusually slow … as in N.O.T.  M.O.V.I.N.G.  A.T.  A.L.L. It rarely gets that bad in Singapore but sometime it does.

I started complaining, mostly to myself since there wasn’t anyone else in the car with me. Complaining about the rain that always slows things down, about the construction which changes the roads over night and drivers not being fully awake for the first day of the work week … complain, complain and complain. The stretch of road which normally takes me 5mins to cover and say maybe 8mins with traffic light stops took me an hour that morning!! From being early for my meeting to being late! I was getting very impatient. Then I had front row seats to why traffic was so horrid that morning.

It wasn’t the rain, it wasn’t the construction and it wasn’t sleepy drivers. It was a very bad accident that cost someone’s life. I was stopped at the traffic light junction right in front of the accident scene. Like God heard me complain loud and clear (like a brat) and knew I needed a reminder (hard knock in the head). The scene hit me hard. The raining was pouring, police men standing in the rain controlling traffic, one was standing by the blue tent covering the accident victim and vehicles (buses, construction trucks, delivery lorries, motorcycles and cars) from three lanes had to be slowly squeezed into one lane. There I sat, in my car at the red lights with nowhere else to go or to look and I heard my favourite Persian proverb, “I cried that I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”

I woke up that morning not thinking twice about the day ahead of me and complained non-stop about how I just wasted an hour in the car when somewhere out there a family’s life is completely overturned and it will never be the same again.

I cried that I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.

I couldn’t stop thinking about that family and pray that they find strength in each other as they go through this difficult time. You’d think being in your 40s would give you some humility and maturity not to sweat the small stuff, I obviously still have a lot to learn.

This week (like every other week … wasn’t it suppose to get easier when you get older?), I’ll try harder to be kinder, to be grateful and less judgemental because you never know what someone else is going through.

What has May Day got to do with Trust?

I never really understood what May Day or Labour Day was all about. Some say it’s about  the arrival of spring. In Singapore, I’ve learnt it’s more attuned to International Workers’ Day where it’s for the celebration of the working class, which I most definitely fall into – being an adult and finding the way to be independently sustainable. So I take heart and am grateful for a break, from the grind that keeps me busy on a 9-5 daily basis.

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In the last year, I’ve learnt a critical life lesson about the grind that keeps me busy. I’m not sure how long more I have of my working life but my plan is honestly to keep working till I drop dead, mostly because I do like the grind I get to be a part of. However, the critical lesson is this – I know now I want and have to work with good people of the same values but vastly different perspectives whom I can implicitly trust. Trust. It’s the thing that no money can buy. It comes from sharing experiences … maybe even having betrayed that trust and building it up again. How ever you come by it, particularly in a person who has the same kind of values but sees the world from the other end of the room, I say hold on to that person. That’s what I’ve learnt will make a good team.

In the last, almost 2 decades of my working life, I have been fortunate to have had worked with a couple of people like that. I’m hoping that one day I can bring my A Team together. What will we do? I kinda have some idea but with my A Team I believe we can do pretty much everything.

Is it possible to trust someone who is inherently different from you? Yes, I believe so. The key is to be focused on what you have that is in common. In my experience, it’s kindness, compassion, believing in delivering the best product or service for the target audience and doing the hard work to get there. It’s not easy to find at all but that’s what I’m focused on looking for and putting together now. In the meantime, in honour of May Day I’ll be taking the break, kicking back and chilling with some Netflix.

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!

Meant To Be

Do you believe in fate? That things are meant to be? Couple of weeks ago, I gave up my Coldplay ticket in Singapore to a friend. No fuss, I did want to go but he wanted it more for someone else and asked. I said ok and I was actually ok. Though I do like Coldplay and would have liked to go and see them. Fast forward to April 7, I arrive in Bangkok for a weekend getaway with a couple of friends and guess what I find out? Coldplay is playing in Bangkok on April 7! So I went, if we could find reasonable tickets, we’ll go and we did!

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After a crazy ordeal of collecting our tickets, which we weren’t sure were legit or not till we were seated in the stadium, and navigating to the venue on foot, we got there just in time for them to come on stage and start the show. I’m definitely a fan of the earlier albums, the first one in particular but it was still a very enjoyable show with the band coming across sincere and like they were genuinely having fun. More than that, I got to share the concert with one of my dearest mates who isn’t my typical concert buddy but I think that will change now. So do you believe that some things are just #meanttobe? I’m already sold on the concept … though a very logical part of me fights it a lot. Getting to watch Coldplay in Bangkok with Resh was just meant to be.

Honestly, I couldn’t imagine going through the ordeal of navigating traffic, taking trains when there’s no cabs, walking and walking and walking, waiting an hour for a cab that on the app said was only 9mins away with someone who wouldn’t call it quits and brought out the best in me despite the highly stressful situation. It open a side of each other we already knew but I guess with this experience solidified the fact that we do complement each other in the way lifetime friendships are built. That’s why I had to give up my Singapore ticket and come to Bangkok to watch Coldplay instead.

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In the greater scheme of things, there is a plan, reasons for why things happen or who comes into your life. Even the bad stuff, there is a reason. Someone out there makes it all happen, someone bigger, someone who knows more, someone who has a plan. My role is to surrender and trust. To be grateful. To keep an open mind. I don’t have to understand when it happens but it’ll eventually be made clear. Like with the Coldplay concert, I get why I had to give up my Singapore ticket so easily. I was meant to go, just in a different city with a different friend 🙂 And possibly start a new tradition!

Here’s to things that are meant to be! Just let go and trust is my theme for the week.

 

Plenty of Bunnies who are Jerks too

The other day, I was talking to a friend about Zootopia. He didn’t like it. I was like WHAT?!?!? In fact, he said it was a story that has been told time and time again and it was boring. BORING?!?! The proverbial tale that we’re all different yet the same, that there’s always more than meets the eye and change starts with me – the individual.

Ok, I do agree with that. It isn’t a new story and you do have to be careful of the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Except in Zootopia it’s the harmless cute sheep you have to keep an eye on. Yet it is a tale as achingly relevant in our 21st century as it was a hundred years, heck a thousand years ago. Kinda like how To Kill a Mockingbird can’t go out of style.

In a Trump Presidency world where fear led by ignorance creeps into every facet of our lives, I take heart that in a seemingly children’s tale like Zootopia we needed the effervescent bunny, Judy Hopps to remind us that someone can be ” a jerk who happened to be a fox. I know plenty of bunnies who are jerks.” In my last 42 years of my life, I’ve learnt that no one race, religion, gender, sexuality or age has dips on being a douche. Everyone can be a douche and if you take the time to have an open dialogue, get to know the person, you or at least I’ve come to realise that they can be as big a douchebag as I can be and in the greater scheme of things, they are capable of being kind, honest and supportive as I try to be everyday.

So I remind myself as much as I don’t like having to share this world with rude self-serving douchebags, the rest of us decent functional beings have to make the best of what we’ve got. The alternative reminds me of a sad tribe in the last season of The Walking Dead – hiding, pretending that we don’t exist as the douchebags try and take over the world. We just can’t have that and with more meaningful words of Judy Hopps,

“Real life is a little bit more complicated than a slogan on a bumper sticker. Real life is messy. We all have limitations. We all make mistakes. Which means―hey, glass half full!―we all have a lot in common. And the more we try to understand one another, the more exceptional each of us will be. But we have to try. So no matter what type of animal you are, from the biggest elephant to our first fox, I implore you: Try. Try to make the world a better place. Look inside yourself and recognize that change starts with you. It starts with me. It starts with all of us.”

That’s my theme for this week – how can I make it start with me?

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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?