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.

Bullet Journaling : Building good habits

When I look at what people do with their journals…with all the fancy drawings, different types of pens, etc…I feel intimidated. This is why I often start and fail my journaling project, even thou I work in the creative field, I can barely write recognisable letters. Kind of like doctor’s handwritings, maybe even worse.

I got the idea of bullet journaling through James Clear’s book  “Atomic Habits”. The idea seem simple enough, you list a list of things you want to work on, you just cross them off daily, no fancy drawings needed. Then I went online and saw what people do with their bullet journals..and again, I was flabbergasted at first. There are some fancy people out there, doing very fancy things with their journals, but I realise I don’t have to be fancy, as long as it serves its purpose. After some browsing, I settled on making my list on a google spreadsheet. Printed and taped on my bedroom’s wall.

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It is the first thing I see when I wake up, and the last thing I see when I get into bed. A daily reminder or some sort. After a few weeks of experimenting, I can finally share some thoughts about my experience.

Does it work ? It’s a complicated question for me. I have listed 14 habits I want to build on my spreadsheet, and I rarely ever get the perfect score. Some examples on the list included : daily walks, daily meditation, reading, no spending, limited screen time, no junk food, no eating out…just to name a few. My average score is mostly between 11-12. Do I see it as a failure? Not really.

Perfection was never my goal, I wanted to be aware of my habits, and I want to put in conscious effort daily to build the habits I want to acquire. A life not examined is not a life worth living, here I am, examining my life and try to make improvements daily.

I am definitely so much more aware of my habits once I started doing this, and just before I wrote this blog post, I’ve just renewed my list, seeing how certain habits are now cemented (meditation, screen time, daily walks, reading), and I want to hone in on certain habits I have yet to build.

 

 

Digital Minimalism : More brain, less google

I try to do this very discreetly, but once or twice a week, I go into the bookshop, pick up the same book, read a chapter or two, put it back and walk away. I’m about 50% into finishing the book. I don’t want to deprive myself the joy of buying books, but seeing how I still have pile of books to go through at home, I just have to dial back at the moment.

There was a line that I came across, written in Chinese “勇气就是优雅的面对压力“。 A translation from Hemingway’s “Courage is grace under pressure.” How I love that quote in Chinese. Instinctively, I wanted to grab my phone, and snap a photo of that page, so I can write it into my notebook later. And then I stopped myself…wait, you can memorise that line, can’t you? So I closed my eyes and read that line in my head for a few times, I wanted to exercise my brain.

Later that day, I took out my notebook to write that quote, I was pretty proud of myself for remembering that quote at that point. Midway through writing the sentence, I suddenly forgot how to write the word “优“ (part of grace, in Chinese) . Again, the impulse to refer to my phone was strong…one tap, and I’d know how to write that word. I refrained again, I was thinking to myself…it’s in there somewhere, you just have to think really hard. I thought and I thought and I just couldn’t remember it at the time, so I wrote the sentence, with a small blank spot in the middle of it, so I can come back to it later.

As I was drifting to sleep that same night…suddenly, the word appeared. Sucker. I filled in the blank spot the next morning.

This is no small feat to me personally…and I really need to practice more handwriting in Chinese.

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There’s a ghost in our house

This post is dedicated to my lovely partner, Andrew

I have long suspected there’s a ghost in our house. As I do most of the cleaning and tidying up, I noticed things are still always being misplaced.

So one day…I told him

“I suspect there’s a ghost in our house…”

He looked at me shockingly, ghost is not a subject to be joked about with him, he is rather scared of ghosts…I can never convince him to watch a ghost movie.

“Why did you say that?”

“Well you know how I always put the comb back to where it’s supposed to be…but everyday when I wake up, it’s always either on the floor, or the couch, or the dining table…or the coffee table, if it isn’t ghost, I don’t know what is it.”

He laughed sheepishly.

He doesn’t do it with just things. He’d leave cupboard and wardrobe doors open, clothes and socks on the floor..etc.

Authoritatively, I always tell them to put things away.

“Anya, what do you put on a dining table?” I asked

“Hmm…food?”

“Correct…now why are there toys on our dining table?” I’d sneered at my husband.

The key thing to being organized is quite simple really, you simply need to put things back where they are, a trait my husband never learns. 15 years is a long long time…no matter how many times I’ve told him, he remains unchanged.

I remember once, I picked up a book at the airport by Dalai Lama. He mentions how if certain things bothers us, we need to change it ourselves. Simply put, if things are being misplaced and it bothers me, not him, I should be the one to put things back.

Now Dalai Lama, I respect you and I agree with you on many things…not this one.

Men are such a peculiar creature that I’ll never be able to figure out. I am certain the makeup of their brain is entirely different compared to women’s brain.

I did some diggings…purely for entertainment. This point resonate with me alot, I suspect he simply doesn’t hear me

The male ear is weaker than the female counterpart. That is why women can hear subtle intonations and men – not always. Also, in terms of tactile perception, men lose.

 

 

Head under water

I put my head underwater,
I held my breath until it passed
Crossed my fingers and concentrated
I closed my eyes and I was free at last – Jenny Lewis 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a fear of being under water. I had a near drown experience in my life, and after that, I never had the courage to learn how to swim : not anymore.

They say when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. This is exactly what happened to me. The public pool is just minutes away from my house, and I bumped into a gym friend during one of my daily early morning walks. Casually, I told her I don’t know how to swim because of my fear of water. Long story short, she introduced me to a swim coach who works at the pool.

Years of irrational fear of water, dissipated after my first lesson with Connie, my swim coach. She was urging me on :”Come on, Simmy, you can do it, you can.” There was hesitation, I couldn’t do it in the beginning. I would breath, and exhaled, breathed, and exhaled, repetitively. Untill finally, I dived in.

As soon as I put my head under water, I knew the hardest part is over, I thought to myself instantly, “You got this in a bag.” I’ve crossed the biggest hurdle, the rest will be a piece of cake.

I was elated. Beyond elated. Like a baby first learnt how to crawl.

I can’t believe I am deprived of this for years : The experience of being under water. Everything feels so calming and serene under water, even in a dirty kids pool, possibly filled with urines and snorts. Nothing matters as soon as I get under water. I love everything about swimming, I love how you can’t float if you’re not relax, I love how so much concentration is needed, to the point that I cannot be distracted by other things anymore.

It is meditative.

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