Couple’s Therapy

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I love Casey Neistat, who doesn’t, right? He has a podcast with his wife Candice called Couple’s Therapy, I am hooked on the podcasts. Although Candice is often being criticized as not being “friendly” on camera, that she’s a spoiled brat with a rich father and a rich husband. (Casey’s net worth is at $12 million as of 2019) Personally, I find her “IDGAF” attitude super attractive and alluring.

Her personality really shines through in their podcasts. It surprises me how honest and open they are with each other on the podcast. I want to talk about this particular episode because it highlights the constant battle between men and women, and I can definitely relate to Candice in this episode.

Candice wanted to start a YouTube channel for her jewellery brand, Billy. Since Casey is the youtube star, it was only natural for Candice to request her husband to create the channel for her, makes sense, right?

Casey has a different plan thou, he thinks she should go through the whole process of learning from scratch, and the videos will be more authentic if she makes the vlogs herself. No one understands her better than herself, and the skill she learnt will become part of her capital.

From Casey’s perspective, it’s definitely a more pragmatic and rational approach. But he forgot women are anything but rational. Candice was put off by her husband unwillingness to help, she was mad.

I can definitely relate to Candice because I thought about a million similar episodes between my husband and myself. I am anything but a weak woman that wants to rely on her husband to do things for her. I don’t need to, but it’s nice to be taken care of occasionally, and men don’t understand that.We definitely struggle a lot in this area, my husband once expressed that he likes me because of how independent I am. He is put off by “needy” women, he’d say. What he fail to realize is that wanting him to do certain things for me doesn’t take my identity away, I am still an independent woman, strip away our biological differences, as regular human beings, it feels nice to do nice things for each other once in a while.

These days society demands women to fit into a certain frame : we must be capable of doing everything for ourselves. As a woman, we may find ourselves constantly battling our natural instinct to be nurtured (like a delicate daisy 😂) , or to take charge and “wear the pants” in the family. I think we can find a balance and be both instead of choosing one or the other. If only our male counterparts can understand that.

Candice later proposed that Casey find someone for her, which is a reasonable request. But Casey insisted she ought to learn it herself 😂 A perfect solution would be, Casey hire someone to teach Candice film making and editing, problem solved !

It’s not me…it’s you

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Me with Claudia, (right) and Dorothy (left)

There’s a Chinese idiom that says “出淤泥而不染”, loosely translated, it means “The lotus remains pure and untainted growing out of the mud”, but we are human, not lotuses, we are as easily tainted as a drop of ink on a pure white blouse. (In my case, it’s more like a drop of chocolate sauce)

We are protective of our body, we don’t allow people harass us physically, what about our minds ? We should protect our mind just like how we protect our physical self. I always think about this passage from the book “The Monk who sold his Ferrari”, it says, “To live life to the fullest, you must stand guard at the gate of your garden and let only the very best information enter. You truly cannot afford the luxury of a negative thought – not even one.” If certain individuals elicits negative feelings and emotions in you, limit as much contacts as you can with these individuals.

It often surprises me whenever people tell me “I don’t like so-and-so…all so-and-so does is gossip or trigger me…” As you can imagine, there are many other scenarios…but the solution is often simple : Stop hanging out with so-and-so. It’s more complicated If it’s a family member that you simply cannot live without, then it’s best to have a sit down conversation with them, tell them what they say or do that trigger the negative emotions in you, as it will deplete you eventually.

It is a constant struggle for me. As a people pleaser, it’s hard for me to let people go and I invest extra effort and time to cultivate a relationship. As I age, I simply realize instead of trying to be nice and personable to everyone around me, I need to be selective with who I allow into my life.

You’re the average of the 5 people you hangout with.

I dislike myself, atleast not yet. I am a constant work in progress, but at the same time, I have no choice, as I need to be with myself. I seek to improve myself because I like to become the person I like to hang out with. They say you’re the average of the 5 people you hangout with, the people we connect with plays a part in shaping our characteristics, and this is why we need to be selective.

It’s not technology that’s scary, it’s what it does to human relations. – Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance 

Being a millennial, this means not only I have to be mindful of the type of individuals I choose to socialize with physically, it also includes online interactions, who I follow on social media, etc. Technology is valuable to me because my best friend, Dorothy, lives away from me and we rarely get to hang out physically, however, we send each other letter format texts (I know…we are ancient) and I’m very aware of keeping in touch with her because i feed off of her energy, she reminds me of the type of person I want to be become: empathetic, patient, kind….I can go on and on about her.

Cultivating a relationship takes time and effort, and you want to be selective with who you want to invest your time and energy in. As an emotional person who tends to follow her intuition all the time, I realize my intuition is often wrong, I realize I cannot be a dumpster, there’s a limit to my mental capacity and I cannot afford to keep investing time in people who are on a completely different orbit than mine. The more energy I invested in the wrong people, the less reserve I have for the right people.

And when you find someone worthwhile, someone who influences you to be a better person : go above and beyond to nurture the relationship..whether it’s a friend, a mentor, a colleague, a boss..whoever that maybe. Your investment (time and effort) will pay off eventually, it is an incredible blessing to have people who pushes you to become a better self.

Being a motherless Mother

It was just a regular day, I always make sure I get a good meal in me before I pick her up from nursery (which is her teacher’s house), I’d put on a podcast and enjoy the 15 minutes ride (perks of living in Sibu, 20 minutes drive is considered a long drive for us local folks)

Her teacher is chatty, even thou most days I am exhausted and running low on patience, I try to linger and talk to her, mostly about Anya. Obviously, she can tell I am one of those parents that spoil their children (an obvious sign would be carrying her bags for her). Her teacher has been telling me it will be a difficult transition for her as she move on to primary school, she will need to be more independent and learn to take care of herself instead of me babying her all the time.

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Just the other day, my husband sent me a photo of parents waiting outside of a primary school, fetching lunch boxes over the school fence during their lunch break. I joked and told him that pretty soon I’ll join their ranks, too, just waiting outside with her lunch box, probably dapau from somewhere since she never likes the meals I prepare for her.

I understand alot of my behaviour stems from not having a mother growing up, it’s almost like I am trying to compensate because I was so deprived of the nurturing from a mother when I was a child myself. I go out of my way to take care of her and babying her, even thou I know the consequences it may causes. Unlike her, I had to learn to grow up very quickly. Now that I’m well into my adulthood, I came to appreciate how it has shaped my character, having to fend for myself from young age, I know she’s not going to have the same experience, being in a protected environment all the time.

When I was in primary school, (that was over 20 years ago) I remember I had a classmate, his mom always visits him during recess with a lunch box, day after day without fail. The image of them sitting side by side in the cafeteria, enjoying their meal together, is still very vivid in my mind. Although we used to joke about him being a “mommy’s boy” , but I was envious of him. Every Mother’s Day was painful for me, we were often instructed to make a special craft for our mothers, and I didn’t have a mother. I can still feel the sadness even after all these years, they never go away.

Being a mother has been very healing for me, it is through motherhood that I understand, a mother’s love never really go away. I know now even thou she’s not physically with me, her love is always here. I can feel it when I’m with her, the love I have for her, reminds me of the love my mother has for me.

All I need to do is to find a balance, because I don’t want her to be an annoying little spoiled brat.

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Animal Instincts

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I rarely watch movies these days, a while ago, I took netflix off because I find it was too addictive, I would much rather spend the extra time I have by reading or writing. If I decide I want to indulge in a movie, I either get pirated DVD locally (which you can still get in Sibu), or purchase from Itunes.

I watched “The Professor” last night, I was both amused and enlightened by it at the same time. It was a simple and short movie, and as always it’s delightful to watch Johnny Depp act, I thought he portrayed the character splendidly.

After learning he has six months to live, a college lecturer transforms into a rebellious party animal. To the shock of his wife and school chancellor — and to the delight of his students — he leads a crusade against authority and hypocrisy. “

It’s a very simple movie, after getting diagnosed with cancer, he decided to just “live life”. Where he took drugs, indulged in drinking, had affairs, (and even experimented with having sex with a man) , it was both hilarious but sad at the same time.
I get a completely different message out of it. I was reading “Socrates in Love” by Christopher Phillips, and I came upon this passage, in relations to Eros (The Greek, meaning “desire,” comes from “to desire, love”, of uncertain etymology)

“Eros is knowing what you should desire, and acting in such a way that you overcome all those other desires of yours that conflict with it, so you can come closer to realizing your “higher desire” 

Think about this, if we give into our impulses all the time, is it truly “living the life we want?” Is that the kind of life we aspire to have ? What sets humans apart from animals is we have higher thinking and we are better at controlling our impulses. It does get significantly harder these days, as we are constantly bombarded with stimuli and temptations.

Daily stoic

“A mind that isn’t in control of itself, that doesn’t understand it’s power of regulate itself, will be jerked around by external events and unquestioned impulses.”

“The most powerful control we can ever attain, is to be in control of ourselves.”

Prep Journal : 13 weeks out : Me and my canned tunas

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I have put off with writing my prep journal as I’ve been on a “struggle” bus lately. After a brief communication with Twain (my coach) this morning, it was decided that I need to start tracking food right away.

I want this journal to be a very honest account on my journey, by writing down my thoughts and struggles, I am able to self reflect and it brings a sense of mental clarity to me.

I am certainly no stranger to tracking food, with a macro based approach, I relied heavily on tracking to lose weight repetitively in the past. Since it has worked so well, why was I against using it this time around? I assumed I had enough experience to not use it this time around, turns out, it’s harder than I thought.

Fat loss is stressful, mentally and physically. Initially, I thought of tracking as an additional stressor, and the novelty of it, not tracking and still being able to lose weight, that’ll be a great achievement. Kind of idiotic if you think about it, what I hadn’t take into factor is the deadlines of a competition. As days goes by and weight is not moving on the trajectory that we had in mind (0.5kg per week, currently, it’s at 0.3) , it was causing me even more anxiety and stress.

So today’s the day, and I need to pick up my pace.

Aside from that, things have been pretty stagnant, I try to take it meal by meal, day by day, then reflect back on my week. If I have a particularly good day, I try to replicate it the next day. Days are harder during menstruation, thou taking progesterone has eased some of my PMS symptoms ; mood, appetite and cravings seems to fluctuate alot in the days leading up to my cycle. I have instructions to take a “deload” on those days, trainings remains the same with less weight to mitigate some of the fatigue I feel during the period, still, I’ve had some sub-optimal training session.

The other day, I was having a discussion with my husband, we were talking about how others always want to discuss nutrition with me, most of the time, I feel there is simply no way to simplify the topic. My husband then said to me :”You should tell them you bring canned tuna and squid with you when you travel, that’ll amuse them.”

Perhaps I took it the wrong way, maybe he didn’t mean what he said, but I took it as a mockery. I refrained from saying anything, because I knew it would blow up into a huge fight, which often leads to me dragging other topics into the “discussion”.  I let it slip, but my feelings were hurt.

I cannot expect him to understand since he isn’t in the realm of bodybuilding, I cannot take it personally, but I did take a mental note on my heightened sensitivity level, I noted that I am usually not this easily provoked.

I had this written in my notebook, dated 6th of May, 2019

If you are pained by an external thing, It is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it, and it is your power to wipe out this judgement now.

If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation. Which is why it is essential that we do not respond impulsively to impression ; take a moment before reacting, and you will find it easier to maintain control. 

To end my blog post,  I do admit I am a protein snob and I don’t agree with most forms of protein powders, in true meathead fashion, I personally prefer to bring canned tuna and canned squid with me, as I find it easier to hit my protein macros with them, and not to mention, they’re cheap and more satiating than powders.

I know meatheads would agree with me.

 

 

Becoming a mother

Every mother’s day is tough for me, not that I resent being a mother (Anya has been particularly difficult today…which made me nearly tear all my hair out) Jokes aside, whenever mother’s day rolls around, I think about my mother alot.

My mother died of cancer when I was merely 4 years old. Once, a family friend told me, how she was still crying for me during those last few days of her life. Over the years, I hear similar stories from different relatives and although I have no recollection of her, it paints a very painful picture in my head. It created an illusion that I was in the room, watching her, crying and trying to reach for me, and I just stood there, watching her die, without any emotion.  ‘Till this day, I carry alot of the emotional traumas from the loss of a parent at young age, which has never healed..the idiocy of some of my actions and behaviour may correlates with that.

My sister took  it the hardest. Being slightly older than me, she remembers her passing vividly. She dropped out of school, repeatedly got herself involved in gangsterism when she was a teenager, constantly running away from home…her journey was tough, but she eventually turned her life around. We never really got along untill I moved away, then our relationship got better. It’s the same with my dad, I’ve learnt that my dad did the best he could as a young widower of 2 daughters.

During my early days of motherhood, I often felt resentful towards my mom. Sounds funny, I know, she didn’t have a choice, but I resented her for not being there for me. I still can’t listen to the song, “世上只有妈妈好” (A very famous Chinese song, Mom is the best in the world.” ) It brought me back to my childhood, where my classmates were making cards for their moms, and I had no mom to give the card to. As a kid, I didn’t want people to know I didn’t have a mom, I often felt embarrassed and shamed, although I had no reason to be.

It is only after I became a mother I realise my mother’s love for me has never left me. I know she would cringe at the way I parent…and disapprove of many things I do, but I know she loves me. I’ve thought about a million times of how if I leave this world, my love for Anya will remain eternally, it’s then I know, she loves me. I don’t have much of her, except a few of her photos, but I have her love.

Happy Mother’s Day, mom. I will eventually meet you someday.

 

 

Mara : Feeding your demon

Illustrations by Carole Hénaff.

I’ve began to take more walks without my phone these days, just me and my thoughts, no distraction. And I thought alot about my struggles with my inner Mara on my morning walk this morning.

What is Mara?

Mara is the demon that tempted Prince Siddhartha (Gautama Buddha) by trying to seduce him with the vision of beautiful women who, in various legends, are often said to be Mara’s daughters. In Buddhist cosmology, Mara is associated with death, rebirth and desire. Nyanaponika Thera has described Mara as “the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment.” 

“the personification of the forces antagonistic to enlightenment.” 

We all have them, Mara, morph into different forms, trying to distract us from what we want to accomplish. I have been working on fighting one particular Mara that is draining my mental energy, my efforts seem futile, there are times I thought I’ve made good progress, then I relapsed, then I feel so guilty and bad about myself. The more frequent my determination is threatened by the Mara, the weaker I become to resist the temptation.

I feel sick.

Then I came across this article, and I thought, perhaps I’ve got it all wrong.

Feeding our demons rather than fighting them contradicts the conventional approach of fighting against whatever assails us. But it turns out to be a remarkably effective path to inner integration.

Demons (maras in Sanskrit) are not bloodthirsty ghouls waiting for us in dark corners. Demons are within us. They are energies we experience every day, such as fear, illness, depression, anxiety, trauma, relationship difficulties, and addiction.

Anything that drains our energy and blocks us from being completely awake is a demon. The approach of giving form to these inner forces and feeding them, rather than struggling against them, was originally articulated by an eleventh-century female Tibetan Buddhist teacher named Machig Labdrön (1055–1145). The spiritual practice she developed was called Chöd, and it generated such amazing results that it became very popular, spreading widely throughout Tibet and beyond.

The article entails methods to use meditation to “feed our demons” instead of fighting them. Which I found highly enlightening. Since I practice meditation every morning, I will give this a go and see how it goes.

Water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend. Bruce Lee