Dear Little Ones (Some Aren’t So Little Anymore)

Once covid wrapped up, I thought life would resume back to normal and one of the “normal” was hanging out with the kids in my life. With a compromised immune system, I wasn’t seeing anyone much less the kids who everyone kept reminding me are germ infested on the best of days. Left to video calls and texts, the kids were constantly reminding me that they were all rooting for me.

I officially became an aunt 20 years ago when my cousin and my best friend had their sons. Along the way, I was very blessed with more and more kids coming into my life. There are a couple more due this year too. So from 20 year olds to new borns, I’m grateful my family and friends trust me to hang out with their little ones and hopefully become the favourite aunt 😉 Today one of the these kids, my 17 year old goddaughter got on a plane for Canada to start her next stage of school; and this week’s life lesson is going to come in a form of a letter to these kids in my life. They’ve all heard/read me say this to them in one way or another but the last year crystallised this hope I have for them – Believe in yourself.

Dear Little Ones,

You all came into my life in so many different ways and I’m so very grateful that you all did. In many more ways, you’ve all taught me a lot of things too and in the last year, I’ve been so touched by all your love and support through one of the craziest years of my life. Your texts, calls, cards, letters made feeling sick easier and reminded me how blessed I am with the village that continues to raise me.

As you all grow, you’ll come to this realisation yourselves. Like me, you’re all blessed with great villages that love, support and believe in you. And for all of you I hope this life lesson comes to you sooner rather than later – Believe in yourself.

The world we live in is a crazy one. Social media makes it even harder. There are going to be dark days, tough ones when you feel completely alone, in spite of the village. That’s when this life lesson kicked in for me. In the darkest of moments, when you are left on your own, you slowly learn and in my case with the grace of God, to believe in yourself.

As different as all of you are from each other, I know this is the same – each of you have a unique ability that makes you YOU and when you discover that about yourself, you will be stronger than you ever thought about yourself.

So go forth believe in yourself, trust yourself, find your voice and tell your story. When you’re ready, I’ll be right here ready to listen.

With So Much Love,

Coco/Yiyi/Godma/Aunty Carlene

Everything Fades and Nothing Lasts

I love satires. How they make you laugh out loud and ponder life’s mysteries at the same time. It takes a certain sort of talent to do this well so I was enamoured, to say the least when I binged on Beef this week. Sharp writing coupled with considered direction and palpable performance, this series ended nearly perfectly for me. I don’t even need another season. It was also another timely reminder of one of the key lessons cancer brought – everything fades and nothing lasts.

I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the themes from last year that really resonates with me is transience. Beef was like a poke from the universe as I find myself rushing to get back to who I was pre-chemo. It really isn’t easy to change, to push out of our comfort zone and grow. It’s like I need to tattoo it to my arm “everything fades, slow down and savour” Packing my days, rushing and like my mother likes to say bouncing off the walls seems to my default. No surprises here that the week after my last treatment, I’m still getting annoyed when I get tired and irritated that I can’t do what I use to do without a nap. I have a hunch this growing is going to take more time and constants reminders … also why I’m blogging. Part of the whole process of keeping myself honest and savouring it all because nothing lasts, which is why I had many mental pictures from this week too.

My Meimei’s were home and we had quite a number of moments that will have me chuckling out loud as I ponder on life’s great mysterious – like a good satire.

Happy Hoppity Hallelujah

I love Easter. It is my favourite time on the Catholic calendar. I also mentioned in an earlier post how I’ve split my life to BC (Before Cancer) and AD (After the Death of 47 year old me) so it’s seems pretty timely that I sat for the last infusion of my cancer treatment in time to celebrate Easter.

My last session was boring and uneventful. 6 years ago when one of my bestie had her own fight against breast cancer, I prayed for boring and uneventful infusions. Last year, when it came to my turn, I was reminded how boring is so underrated. Coupled with crossing the mid life crisis season, I have very little patience for drama which is a tad funny considering my line of work but I digress.

Back to my last infusion, I took the boredom of routine all in and tried to remember everything. Waiting for my turn, getting my stats checked, blood drawn, getting ready in my favourite chair, chatting with Dr. Chan and joking with the nurses. I even got to sit next to an old friend who is starting her treatment … yes, it is that small of a world. And got to see a friend I made through chemo and manage to get to say goodbye. All in all a boring and uneventful session where the people I love are going about their day and the people who love me had nothing to worry about.

Cancer and the drama it brought showed me that when I have nothing to do, cherish it and savour the moment. Look out far away, day dream, imagine and fantasize. Take deep breaths and slow down. The world and society have expectations and a way of how things are done, I can do things differently, it isn’t always intuitive but embracing boredom is 48 year old me trying to get off the hamster wheel and learning to listen to myself.

Superpower of Smell

Chemo is tough on your digestive system and there are so many reactions. Some are in pain and nauseous all the time. Others have no reaction at all. I was somewhere in between. My tummy was not happy and was in a constant state of indigestion most of 2022. I stopped getting hungry and lost nearly all of my tastebuds, all except sour and thankfully, I could still smell. In fact, I think my sense of smell become more acute too! Like a new superpower, I knew every time my Dad bought his favourite Hokkien Mee from Circuit Road Market home.

I learnt that without tastebuds it is very easy to eat healthier. Didn’t matter what you put in front of me, I could put it in my mouth, chew and swallow; up to the point where the state of indigestion would protest. This meant I didn’t eat much and was on a schedule like a baby, every couple of hours, my wonderful family would put a little bowl of something for me to eat.

I always knew my Mom and sister were excellent chefs but they really outdid themselves to entice me to eat more. My sister played with textures and aromas. My Mom modified old favourites with more tart and no sugar. Even my SIL, Jenna got into it and made this amazing dish that smelled wonderful and had so much texture, it was so fun to eat. This reminds me, I have to get her to recreate this when my tastebuds are back.

And nope, my tastebuds aren’t back yet. It’s been about a year of quite a surreal experience. When I tell people I’ve lost my tastebuds, they screw their face up and look at me sympathetically. I totally get it but after the year, I can honestly say it isn’t as bad as I always thought it would be to have no taste. I learnt smells are about 80% of taste and I’ve developed a way of eating where you chew and take deep breaths at the same time. The next time we’re having a meal and I look weird, it means my tastebuds aren’t back and I’m tasting my food! I also realised textures are very important to eating too and I love chewy textures. Bread, rice, al dente pasta and noodles. Like with my Mom’s Nasi Ulam, it was my go to and one of my favourite to have. The blend of spices, rice and veggies gave me a complete experience when it comes to eating on chemo.

Chemo tummy made me slow down when I was eating. Something I never did before cancer, I was the shovel food as quickly as you can type of eater. Slow down, please is what I remind myself when I’m eating now. I take a breath as I chew and appreciate all the parts of the meal. Now I have to practice that with everything else in life. Slow down and do one thing at a time. I’m not quite sure if I can check this lesson off quite yet. I have a hunch I need to practice slowing down ALOT more.

From Michonne to Okoye

Michonne was my favourite character from the moment I saw her with her pet zombies in The Walking Dead which I re-binged during my treatment. When she yielded her samurai sword, I was reminded how I was completely sold on her. And recently I finally caught up with Wakanda Forever and Okoye intrigued me in a similar way. There is something about independent women in stories that I’ve always been drawn to. Post chemo treatment though, it was all about hair and the lack of.

Watching Okoye made me miss my bald head. I surprised even myself how comfortable I got with my bald head and learnt that push come to shove, I will pick function over design. After the second chemo session, my hair started falling out; in a male balding pattern kinda of way … maybe that’s how all heads bald. 5 days after the second session which works out to be about a year ago give or take a week, my husband pulled out his shaver, hoped it would work on my head and I sat in the middle of the kitchen as he started shaving my head.

It wasn’t perfect but I remember feeling very free. Since the shaver couldn’t get a close clean shave, my Dad took me to our friendly neighbourhood barber to get it cleaned up.

And my Dad got his head shaved too! Here we are as twins! All I need is a moustache and a goatee 😉 Being bald was very easy. When I came back from the barber and jumped in the shower, I wiped my head dry and that was it. I laid down for a nap, instinctively thought my head would be too damp and touched my pillow which was of course, bone dry. When you have no energy from chemo, having no hair was one less thing to worry about and that’s what I loved about being bald. It was so so easy. Although, I had to find ways to cover my head to keep it warm. I got cold quick with a bald head.

There are a number of things I learnt from being bald. The first is that life can surprise you in ways you least expect it to. If someone told me last year that I would have enjoyed being bald, I would think they would be off their rockers but I did. This reminded me of the Buddhist parable where he turned arrows aimed at him into flowers and how things may seemingly be bad but doesn’t have to be. That’s my life lesson from being bald. While my hair is growing back, my Dad is keeping his bald. It’s a good look on him too, if I don’t say so myself. I’m keeping an even more open mind about life experiences which brings me back to Michonne. Should I add “getting dreadlocks” to my bucket list?

It’s Been a Year

It’s time for infusion #15 out of 17 and it’s been a year since I started. 14th February 2022 was when I had my first chemotherapy infusion. I remember that Valentine’s day quite clearly, the emotions more than anything else. Everyone who love me was worried. I could feel it with every call and text which had my bravado shell switched on. Also, it’s the perennial “you don’t know what you don’t know”, right? I had some idea that it could get very bad but honestly, I didn’t have much idea what to expect so I was quite relaxed that day.

14 February 2022
14 February 2022

Chemo turned out to be very trying. Some days physically and other days much more mental. Now that the worst of it is over and I’m looking at the last stretch of the infusion treatment, I can say it could have been worse, much much worse. Definitely not interested in finding out how much more but stories from other #cancerwarriors reminded me of yet another #lifelesson I have yet to perfect – be grateful.

Friends know I always say “it could be worse.” I do believe it but it wasn’t until going through cancer treatment , did I realise how much worse things can be. Of course on the flip side, it can be better but hey, common sense, keeping up with the Joneses never made anyone happy. We know better and it’s all about perspective.

Not a new lesson, as 5 years ago there was this Now, it’s just cemented by the experience of fighting cancer. So today as I woke up from my usual infusion nap, I am grateful, very grateful for so many blessings. Top of my list would be the people in my life. From my family near and far to friends, even those who I haven’t heard from in years reaching out to give comfort. It is always the people in our lives who make it all worth it.

August in Perth

This is rather late, since I was in Perth from August 1-11 and I’m playing catch up with my blog.  Trust me there’s lots to say but there’s been a lot to do at work and when I’m not working, the TV has been sucking up most of my time :p  I can write posts upon posts of what I’ve let myself be distracted with but this post is about Perth.  A place I call home too 🙂

I really do enjoy Australia and the country will always have a special place in my heart.  Of course, it helps that my parents live there right now 🙂

It was good to hang out with my parents, banter with them about this and that as well as get work done too.  I do have a pretty cool job that allows me to visit my parents and get work done at the same time.  My Mum commented how work culture has changed in the 21st century, it wasn’t like that at all when she was working in Singapore.  It works for some and for others, it still doesn’t.  For me, I love it!!  Simply because, the job treats me like an adult who takes pride in what she does and is responsible 🙂  No standard hours are a perk that works for my personality.

Back to Perth.  Despite having lived in Perth before, this trip had a few firsts for me.

I’ve never had to take a bus ride in Perth before.  This trip, my husband and I took a bus to go meet my parents, who had a meeting in the city 🙂  It wasn’t a cheap ride but it was efficient.  I could even get use to it.

Then I checked out Kalamunda markets, it only happens once a month, every first Saturday.  So it was timely that our trip coincided with it 🙂  the last time my sister went, she bought an emu egg.  I found a really great range of skincare while I was there, Xquisit.  I’m using their eye cream and it is absolutely delightful.  I love love love it!!  My eyes are especially sensitive and the eye cream is working beautifully on the skin around my eyes.  I can’t wait to the rest of my skincare products to run out so I can try the other products.  Thank goodness for online shopping 🙂

I also celebrated Singapore’s National Day in Perth.  Isn’t quite the first as I’ve had to do that when I studying there.  It was, however, the first time I was with my Singaporean parents and Canadian husband in Australia celebrating it 🙂 It was a gorgeous day, even though it was winter.  In fact, it was a really nice winter the entire time I was there.  This coming from a tropical girl who does not like winter, I actually enjoyed season!!

And another first was going to Yanchep with my parents and my husband.  They have never been before.  I use to live rather close to the National Park and it was one of my more favourite places to hang out in.  We saw Koalas, Kangaroos and checked out limestone caves.  It was a simple day out.  One that we probably wouldn’t do in Singapore because it would be too hot :p

I realise what I took for granted while I was in Perth.  The amount of space.  when I get pockets of it in Singapore, I remember why I love Perth.  There’s something to be had about being the only person on an open field, beach, park.  Very very rarely does it happen to Singapore.  In Perth, a short drive from around the corner of my parents’ and I’m at the doorstep of a National Park.  A little bit further and I’m by the beach, a quiet one at that.

Note to self: Make visiting Perth more often than not.

Being 30something


Between my sister and me, I was always the more cautious one. At the playground, she’ll jump the monkey bars, do crazy stunts while I planted hands and feet steadily on the ladder before climbing up the slide for simple thrills. By the time I was 21, I thought, “Hey if it’s anytime to be less cautious it should be now!” Although I can hear my sister laughing at my version of jumping-two-feet-in, it was probably the most flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants time.

By the time I turned 30, it turned out to be a bigger thing for me than I had realised at the time which is 2 years ago now. It was a wonderful birthday, one that family and friends help make a big deal of, enough that I’ll never forget … till I have my 40th, I reckon :)

What I didn’t realise then was that my life was literally moving into a different stage. It was no conscious move on my part but just like with everything else in my life, it kinda just happened. I left a start-up that was a major part of my being, I moved out of my parents for real (my Mum packed ALL my stuff and had them transported to my place) and found out real adult friendships will last a lifetime.

So the thing I have to say about being 30something is that I’m A LOT more comfortable in my skin now. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my 20s. It was a crazy time and I was the fortunate few whose parents didn’t mind that my first job in theatre paid me SGD1000 a month no CPF, no benefits. My Dad drove me to work and picked me up at crazy hours after rehearsals too. My Mum made sure I was fed well and enjoying myself. My sis was just sure she wasn’t going to take the path I was treading :) Partied hard with friends when I had the time, dated all the wrong people and learned enough to find the right guy to marry. Most of my 20s was spent working though, 20hour days either creating, writing, producing, directing and selling documentaries, drama, children’s TV, animation i.e. I had a ball :) There were really tough days but I’m so grateful for them because I don’t think I could have travelled as much with any other job or be given opportunities to make deals that most people only get to do in their late 30s or 40s. Granted most people thought I was kidding at the start of the meetings but we did pretty good, even if I have to say so myself ;)

So unlike my parents who married and started young, I’m only beginning to ’settle down’ in my 30s. And all I can say is that my 20s happened so that I could enjoy my 30s, I started understanding more clearly that parents do know better but we have to live our mistakes only to learn from them (it ain’t going to happen any other way and am thankful my parents gave me the safety net to make them all :P ). And I’m hoping my 30s is as enlightening as my 20s so that my 40s would get even better but in a nutshell here’s life lessons from being 20something to enjoy 30something:-

  1. Toxic friends do exist, dump them … life’s too short
  2. Balance is key … absolutes are unnecessary
  3. All relationships (with family, friends, work, play even God) take time and the other party is always giving even/especially when we don’t see it
  4. The small stuff really don’t matter, no one remembers and if they do, go back to point 1
  5. It’s all about perspective, my favourite Persian proverb (probably the only one I know) – I complained about not having new shoes until I saw a man with no feet.
  6. So be grateful, everything can always be worse.

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Overdue: The Wedding

Not as late as the Hong Kong posts but it has been about 3 and a half weeks since I officially became A Wife :P  Still not use to it but I'm so very grateful to my parents for letting me have the wedding I wanted to have.  Yep, I was never the little girl who imagined a GRAND wedding, in my head it was a lot simpler too but I have to say the whole event went better than I could have imagined it.  A homely ceremony with my dearest family and friends there to share it – warm, loving, fun and very very special.  Thank you, Daddy and Mummy for being the cool, fantastic and young (that's what all my friends said) parents who made it all possible.

*psst don't tell anyone, but it's my sister who keeps my parents cool and fantastic (the young bit … they do that very well by themselves) so kudos goes out to my Charlie too!!!*

And thank you my dear dear friends who woke up early on a Saturday morning, answered silly questions, ate cupcakes, drank Snapple and most of all fill the day with so much love.  Thank you.

And for those who weren't there, this was the song my Dad and I walked down the aisle with.  Technically, A. and I don't have a song … does that make it our song now?  Anyway, we chose it mostly because it was one of the first few songs we both like and it was a song A. has serenaded to me once … yeah, he gets a little silly sometimes and when the mood hits him, he'll sing :)  He's done musicals before so I don't know why I'm surprised every time he sings.

Unknown to A. though, I actually watched Moulin Rouge in Banff when I first met him.  I thought it was a real kick ass romantic movie and it was the same trip, I told myself that I'll return to Banff for my honeymoon too.  So maybe some things are meant to be 🙂

P/S: Still waiting for the professional pictures so will update as soon as I get them 😉

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Overdue: Hong Kong day02 …

… the Filmart was pretty quiet and I think it's because we got there on the 3rd day … so not sure if we'll be coming again next year.  Besides the ferry, this trip was a real treat for me coz A. (then boyfriend and now husband) decided to come to Hong Kong for a short break too. 


It was a real treat because when we go away, it's usually back to Canada to visit his family or to Australia to visit mine.  So we completely lapped up the whole experience … we're not sure if we'll be back to Hong Kong any time soon though … shopping and desserts aside, the pollution made the whole experience very very undesirable except when I was on the ferry (yeah, I really liked it)

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