The Ability to Give

Over the Chinese New Year weekend, my dear friend , Claire and her family didn’t think twice to help a couple who needed it.  In their own words, Claire shares how each of us in our own ways can change the world we live in.

Yesterday evening while we were on our way for a CNY visit, we saw this old couple stuck by the side of Opera Estate along Siglap road. For those of you who know the area, the roads are very slopey and not at all conducive for pushing a wheelchair. We quickly stopped our car and Pann got out to help the uncle. The wheelchair was in a bad condition and was unable to be maneuvered properly. Eventually the tire gave way and Pann had to call a taxi to send the couple home. We could not stop thinking about them the whole night.

Today, we spoke to Renn and Aira and we decided to use all our Ang Pow money to buy the old couple a new wheelchair. We knew the block they were staying at but had no idea which floor nor unit. We were very lucky to be able to locate the old auntie and eventually got to the uncle. And we realised they had no relatives keeping in touch with them in their one room flat.

They were so happy and surprise to receive the present along with some Ang Pows.

This got to be one of the best days knowing that the kids were very passionate about helping others because Chinese New Year is not about receiving Ang Pows but sharing with others.

I was fortunate to be part of the CNY visit that very night and they shared the story with us before it went viral online.  We got the low down scoop on how their giving led to others giving too.  The cab driver that took Pann and the couple back didn’t charge them for the ride either.  The story even gather enough interest to be picked up by the local publications 🙂

For me, I love the fact that a simple story about giving and sharing love made its way around.  I love that it isn’t just depressing or hateful stories that run amok online.  I love that I’m blessed enough to have friends who remind me that living is about sharing, giving and filling it with moments of love.  I also love how the Year of the Horse is starting off in my world.

Mr and Mrs Woon

6 months ago, a little kitten was led out of the wedding bag.  This was the day we were preparing for.  It went by quick like with all happy occasions and here’s my recap of the day.  It started early for the most of the wedding party, getting into peak hour traffic to get to church on time.  I’m happy to report no one hit any major snags and we were there all ready to get the day going.  The groomsmen had the ever gorgeous bridesmaid, Nis looking over them and were all working hard when I got there 2 minutes after 9.  We settled in and of course, I started taking pictures.

From the top left hand corner, that’s Michelle and Nis getting the front table ready.  Then me and Bernie taking a pause for a picture.  Next up, Michelle and Nis when I said, “Look here girls!!”  At the bottom left, that’s Perry in between Nis and me.  I’d say, he’s in awe of how beautiful Nis looks but that’s just me 🙂  Then it’s me and Cheryl, director extraordinaire.  One of my favourite part of weddings is watching the nervous groom before the bride arrives.  Mat was playing the part well 🙂  He was well supported by his boys but the nervous buzz coupled with unbridled happiness was clear on his face that morning.

You can tell from the picture I made him take with me.  He must have been thinking,”Crazy bridesmaid Carlene, I have better things to do than take a picture with you.” but yesiree, I document almost everything.  So there’s me with the happy groom and if you didn’t think he could be happier, he did get very much more happy when his bride arrived.  I wish I had a camera while I was walking down the aisle but I didn’t and remembered looking at Mat, the smile he had when Gen walked in with her Dad.  He even teared up a little and melted my heart.

The wedding mass went smoothly and beautifully without a hitch and as simple as that Gen and Mat became Mr and Mrs Woon.  Up next was the party bit and once the photo taking in church was done, it was wrapping up and moving to our next location, Food for Thought at the Botanic Gardens.

When we got there the wedding decorators were already going to town with the place.  We helped out and arranged the other odds and ends with about 45minutes to spare.  The guests started arriving and we pinged the newly weds that the anticipation for their arrival was steadily growing.

I managed to catch a shot with the bride just before her walk in and the party started.  With loving speeches, dancing, cheers, laughter and lots of chattering, it was a room full of love and warm wishes for the newly minted Mr and Mrs Woon.  I couldn’t be happier for my dear friend, Gen.  Mat is a sweet sweet guy and perfect for her.  For Mat, Gen’s big heart is all he is going to need for the rest of his life.  I can’t wait for their little ones who I know will have all they need in their parents to face this crazy world we live in 🙂

Freak Accidents

I don’t like them but every once in a while they happen.  Earlier this week, one of my Goddaughters, Nicole had a very strange one happen to her and I’m so grateful she wasn’t badly hurt.  Actually in the bigger scheme of things, she was ok 🙂

Here’s what happened, some how, no one knows exactly how but her earring got pulled into her ear lobe!!  Yes, where the stud/stone usually is, the front portion of the earring, it was pulled back into her ear lobe.  So much so her parents thought the stud/stone had broken off because you could still see the back of the earring coming from the back of her ear.  It wasn’t until the x-ray revealed this:-

That’s the stud of her earring actually intact and in her ear lobe!!  According to her doctor, this isn’t common but it’s happened before O_o  Makes me rethink this ear piercing business.  I still remember getting my ears pierced and I was only 3 at that time … that’s for a whole other post.  Back to Nicole who was as brave as one can be with an earring stuck in your ear lobe, which made me realise how much she’s grown since I first started getting to know her.

That little precocious toddler has given way to a considerate little girl.  There are still a couple of days when that spunky toddler appears especially when she feels she’s had made one too many sacrifices for her little sister.  Those days are rare, especially with me as she’s growing to be quite the kind and compassionate girl 🙂

As tween-dom beckons, the challenges of this new stage are slowly showing.  I’ve started to notice the insecurities, I remember so clearly in my own growing pains, appearing as she starts to navigate the world of friends and people outside your comfort zone.  Dealing with people who may or may not like you, trying to understand where people are coming from, developing empathy … these aren’t things that can be taught.  You learn them watching the people around you, parents, grandparents, teachers and other children around you.  It’s exciting and scary at the same time.  As a Godmother, I must admit, I do get nervous watching these little ones enter this new stage of their lives, only because I remember the complex terrain of it.

As they grow, I’ve to remind myself to give them space to find themselves.  I’m pretty sure I’ll keep trying to be that cool Godma/Aunt … at least from my perspective :p  I’m going to be right there holding their growing hands through this stage as I did when they were little toddlers needing help climbing stairs, going down slides or just walking along.

It’s when they go into teen-dom that I’ll really start to worry 🙂

2 Nieces and 2 Nephews

That’ll be the new count for me come May 18th this year 🙂  That’s only 3 months away!!  My little cousin, Valerie who really isn’t so little anymore, is going to be a Mummy!!  Technically she already is one and I can’t wait to cuddle the latest addition to my munchkins.

I still remember my aunt being pregnant with my cousin and going to the hospital the day she was born.  I was only 9 and the bassinet she was in came up to my eye level.  I looked straight at her and I could have sworn she smiled at me 🙂 Yes yes yes, it was probably gas and what not but the 9 year old me was sure, my latest cousin had picked her favourite one, me.  So I can’t wait to meet little Baby 陈 where 38 year old me is anxious to share the same moment with him!!  Yah, don’t tell the rest of his 陈 aunts and there’s 7 of us in total, 2 from Daddy and 5 from Mummy but I think I’m going to be his favourite :p

Truly, I didn’t know I’d enjoy being an aunt as much as I do.  It is a privilege I remind myself constantly not to take for granted.  Having little people want to hang out with you not because they have to but because they want to and much more than that, seeing the world again through their eyes.  As life gets in the way, it’s so easy to forget the little miracles and when the little people in your life discover them, you’re reminded how precious life really is.

I’m looking forward to Baby 陈 showing me, his favourite aunt 😉 the world again.  Can’t wait little one!!



inertness, especially with regard to effort, motion, action, and the like; inactivity; sluggishness.

Sometimes I feel, despite the progress we’ve made on so many things, we’re still stuck on just as many other things.  What am I talking about?

This post is exactly 2 weeks old today.  Simply because I had a lot of thoughts when I first read it and like my previous post on Equality, I gave myself some time to ponder and reflect.

In the new year of the Snake, we can agree to disagree and keep this old law in our current legal system but here’s my proposal, let’s bring back an even older law that both the straight and gay communities would have no problems to – outlaw adultery.  It’s been a really long long time since it was a criminal offence.  At some point, even the most conservative thought it was ok that it no longer be considered a crime or that they were so small a voice, the rest of society thought it was ridiculous to criminalise it.  If our conservative roots reckon that being gay breaks down the family unit, yadda yadda yadda, they have to agree with me that adultery has a more extensive impact on society.  Case in point, Singapore’s sex scandals in the year of the Dragon, it affected not only families but also whole constituencies.  Make adultery a crime and maybe the breaking down of family units that we are so worried about will come to a grinding halt.

Sounds ridiculous?

So does saying that keeping 377A will uphold values that is important to the Singaporean core, even if it is only the conservative core.  Ok, I’m exaggerating and that’s not exactly what the government or PM is saying but keeping this old law in our current legal system is like saying yes, it’s ok to treat people who are different from us as criminals.  That is no hyperbole.  This is what keeping 377A means.

Being gay is no different from being a single parent, from being a adopted, from being schizophrenic, from being a woman, from being Chinese.  People don’t choose to be these ways and when there is a perception of choice involved, it really isn’t a choice.  To make that a crime goes against the grain of everything I hope for Singapore – a considerate and empathetic society that can overcome any storm, in spite of our differences.

Conservative or otherwise, I don’t think anyone will disagree with me that treating someone as a criminal for just being different is a very heavy thing to do.  If I haven’t been clear, I am not really suggesting we make it illegal to cheat though I don’t think I’ll  have any problems garnering support for that.  My point is this, society, especially the conservative roots does a good enough job on shaking their heads to adultery and it isn’t something any of us, progressive,conservative, straight or gay, want to happen to our families.  Sure, mistakes happen but it isn’t a crime. So why should 377A still exist? Even with criminal mistake, we all understand and forgive.

To be very clear, this is what I’m trying to say, being gay is not a mistake.  It is being different and it isn’t about forgiveness, it’s about acceptance and exactly why 377A has no place in our home today.

In 6 Months

I know exactly where I’ll be on 19th July 2012 🙂  Mat and Gen are going to say ‘I do’.

I’ve been really blessed with some really wonderful friendships.  One of them is with Gen who I met some 12 years ago when we produced a children’s series for Channel 8.  Yes, you’re reading it right, it was Channel 8.  I bet her Chinese teacher and mine are laughing their heads off at that fact but yes, we, 2 convent girls, did produce a Channel 8 program a long time ago.  Through the years we’ve seen each other through tough times and shared many joyful moments with never ending bantering and laughter.  Like a little sister, Gen and I share parallel experiences that’s quite uncanny.  She gets me and I can always count on her to be honest with me when I need it most.  So I was extremely honoured when she asked if I’ll be one of her bridesmaids and I replied, of course 🙂

I couldn’t be happier that she’s found Mat.  A sweet chef who’s been a hoot to get to know.  He’s perfect for Gen and grounds her like no one I’ve known to be able to do before 🙂  Besides their wedding, I can’t wait for the beautiful babies they’re going to make :p

It’s going to be a fun 6months coming up!!  Stay tune for wedding progress.

Parenting is Tough

I was reminded again when I read this article, which I’ve replicated here:-

We all want our kids to have a better life than we did. These days, that’s more challenging than ever before. You’re overwhelmed, your kids are distracted, and schools don’t do a very good job of preparing them for the real working world.

You need to be involved in their education, make sure they get good grades, and send them to a decent college, but that’s all more or less a given. The most important factor in how successful your kids are in their careers comes down to what they learn from you.

Some of it comes from lessons you intentionally teach them, but even more comes from observing what you do. Your behavior may very well have more to do with how well your kids do in the real world than anything else. Here’s what you can do to give them the best chance of making it on their own:

Support what they love to do; don’t push them to do what you want them to do. It’s a common refrain from parents: “I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I made growing up.” Well, you can’t fix your mistakes through them. You’ll only succeed in screwing up their lives as well. Success comes from doing what you love to do, what you’re passionate about, not what you’re forced to do or pushed into doing.

Teach them to take risks. If they succeed it’ll give them confidence, but if they fail they’ll learn even more. Let them make their own mistakes and learn to take responsibility for the outcome. I know it’s hard to watch them try new things and fall on their faces, but to be honest, it’s really important that they get used to that. Don’t coddle them. Hold them accountable. And let them see you do the same. Let them see you as you are: Human, genuine, flawed. (emphasis is mine)

Teach them about the value of money and financial responsibility. If they see you treat money like it grows on trees, they’ll emulate that behavior. If on the other hand you teach them self-reliance, not to expect handouts from anyone, that’ll pay off in the long run. They need to know that their success and happiness depends solely on them.

Let them be kids. Social skills aren’t just important for kids to be kids; they’re critical for adults to be successful in the business world, as well. Sports, friends, relationships, parties, being out and about, it’s all good. Sure, they’ll have accidents, get into fights, and do things you wish they wouldn’t, but if you’re open and encourage them to come to you with their problems, then you can mentor them on how to get along and learn from their mistakes.

Treat them like adults. When children are little, they have giant egos. Growing up is all about learning that the world doesn’t actually revolve around them. For that transition to work, they need to feel safe and confident enough to take chances. You can help that along by giving them information and encouraging them to make their own decisions. Treat them as much like adults as they can handle and makes sense at the time — people don’t learn lessons from hearing them, they learn from living them. (again, emphasis is all mine)

Teach them about competition and team play. One of the great dichotomies in life is that success is very much about competing and winning, which by nature means others have to lose. That said, there are times when an individual is competing and times when it’s a team effort. Knowing the difference is important in the real world, but it’s a nuanced lesson, that’s for sure.

Encourage their natural curiosity. Children have a natural thirst for knowledge and understanding of how things work. Encourage them to seek that out in books, games, puzzles, whatever interests them. But here’s the thing: The modern world of ready-made toys and electronic gadgets is too easy, too spoon-fed, if you will. They’ll learn more by creating and using their imagination.

Teach them self-reliance. The sense of entitlement that’s becoming a national epidemic is success limiting and a career killer. The real business world doesn’t work that way, and the sooner kids learn that, the better. Sure, life is too short not to have fun, but you can’t let them take things for granted, either. Their drive to work hard and succeed has to come from them, and the only way that’s going to happen is if they learn it from you. (one last emphasis)

It’s hard enough to make sure the logistics of managing a family is running smoothly but we do want our children to not only have better lives but be better people than we are.  So when it’s my turn, I’ll try and remember all this.  Meanwhile, my munchkins nephew and nieces will get the brunt of my love 🙂

You so gotta love that cheeky little face of Rachael 🙂

Birthday Girls

July 17 is particularly special for me because of two little girls.  They were born on the exact same day, in the same hospital just a couple of hours apart.  One is my niece, Mabel and the other, Aira is the sweet daughter of dear dear friend, Claire.

Both have older brothers that are the same age and the both of them have made me give horoscopes a second chance.  I’m essentially a non-believer.  How can so many people all over the world born on the same day have the same personality, much less fate same in life?  However, the similarities between the girls can be ever so slightly uncanny.  Sure, they are also two distinct individuals but they have very similar reactions when their respective brothers bug them, they have a silly sense of humour that I find unique to the two of them and they have temperaments that seem a tad more matured than their 5 years of age.  Sure sure sure, sounds like I’m describing any other 5 year girl and I don’t deny that but when I watch the two of them, I do see some similarities that other 5 year old girls don’t share with them and I guess no one can second my opinion since I’m the only one that sees the both of them :p  Notice the string of pearls both of them picked out to wear for their birthday celebrations.  The other 5 year old girls in my life don’t quite have a inclination for pearls.

Whatever the case may be, I’m just glad that the two of them are more reasons in my life to celebrate birthdays.  Nothing like a preschool birthday party to remind you what’s important in life 🙂

To Mabes and Aira, Happy Birthday sweeties!!!  God bless you both and may your life be filled with as much joy and love as your birthday celebrations were 🙂

Why Alternative Voices Are So Important?

What happens when you fall asleep while you’re driving and someone slaps you awake?  You wake up and say sorry.

Would the government apologise if these questions weren’t raised over the last few days?

If you think about, they have been raised before but never addressed.  Not until yesterday.

Why?  I reckon it’s because the force behind the questioning only existed over the last few days.  A couple of alternative voices in parliament doesn’t quite carry the same weight.  The PAP has just shown why it is important to have more alternative voices in parliament.

Not you.  Not me.  Not the opposition.  The PAP.  They have shown that only with emphatic fervour will they start to address the concerns of the people.

This is why we cannot allow ourselves to be complacent.  No one is perfect and no system is but let’s not hide behind the usual “that’s how it is and nothing really is wrong” position, because one day when things do go wrong, we won’t have anyone else who can possibly right the wrongs.

An American friend told me yesterday, compared to most places in the world, even in the US, we have a great government.  Things work in Singapore and the majority have basic needs met.  I don’t disagree at all and everyday I am very grateful for it.

In my books though, things can always get better.  I want a home where things work, basic needs are met, people dream, innovate, create and treat each other with empathy and compassion.  Nothing is perfect but we sure as hell can try 🙂

Season for Change

It’s been a while since I started a new job and this week I did.  There’s a lot I’m not sure about the change and at the same time, it’s exciting to have the opportunity to build something from scratch.  Lots to look forward to, it’s going to be exciting but … I am going to miss my cosy desk.

I really like what I did everyday for the last 4 years and 8 months, trying to make what little improvement I could to the industry that is close to my heart.  I will miss that.  More than that, I’ll miss my friends.  I know we’ll all keep in touch but there’s something different about seeing them nearly everyday.

Like Isaac Asimov said, “The only constant is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today.”  I don’t know when he said that but it still rings true today.  So it isn’t coincidence that as I’m experiencing a major personal change so is the country I call home.

This Saturday, which is also my Popo’s birthday, an approximately 2.2million Singaporeans will have the opportunity to vote.  To many in the world it isn’t anything but to Singaporeans, many are doing so for the first time in their lives.  For the first time in our lives 94% of the seats in our parliament is being contested before.

So I urge all Singaporeans to understand the gravity of the situation and make your vote count.  It doesn’t matter if you choose to vote the PAP, WP, SDP, SPP, NSP, SDA, RP or an independent candidate.  All I ask is for every Singaporean to think about the kind of home you want to have, how can we get there and who can bring us there.

Each vote is significant.

If you are happy with the incumbents, vote for them and let them know.  If you are not, change is in your hands.  For everyone who is wavering because the alternatives aren’t ready.  My humble thoughts are if we never give them the opportunity to learn, they will never be ready.  Do we really want to wait till everything goes awfully wrong before we vote in a bunch of inexperienced alternatives who aren’t ready for cabinet positions?

Either way make your vote count.