What are the three best decisions you’ve ever made?

I keep dwelling on decisions I regret so I am keen to do this more positive exercise instead. In real time. That is, whatever I type right now will be published unedited.

1. Immediately I think of travel. There is no trip I regret. Even the worst one shaped me in some way. I love learning about new cultures and it’s just refreshing to have brand new surroundings especially if it includes communing with nature, including flora and fauna.

2. To always say yes to any chance to spend time with my loved ones. I only regret moments when I said no for some reason or other. Usually I was miserable if I couldn’t make it. Especially pertaining to the littlest ones as time flies and children grow up faster than you know.

3. To study and that includes reading on my own. I can never get enough of learning. I hunger for it.

I could expand on this post, but I wanted to record my immediate thoughts first.

Asking my mum the same question:

1. Learn to drive

2. Did things independently – learnt to cook from scratch without any help, also doing marketing and grocery shopping for necessities on my own.

3. Looking after my own children without any help. They were obedient and easy to look after. Taught my children up to primary 6 and happy they got into a good girls’ school that I hoped for. They were happy to study, spell, do homework and read books. Went together to the library to chose books.

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I Don’t Like the Saying ‘New Normal’.

This term seems to have emerged during the pandemic, but a search on Wikipedia shows that it first appeared as far back as 1918.

I don’t like it at all, as I don’t like most business jargon and also because it indicates that the change (always bad) is now to be permanent.

I really don’t like how we get used to the new state of affairs with time. We almost forget how good we used to have it. But I guess that is the way we cope. I couldn’t image that wearing masks indoors would last this long in Singapore that it almost seems like a permanent thing. With Singapore being so densely packed, it just might be.

Previously before September the 11th, travel was much easier. Now there are stringent checks and restrictions. As time goes, there are more and more restrictions, but all needed in the name of safety.

With the pandemic, flying has become even more of an ordeal. I never liked it in the first place even though I love and yearn to travel to new places.

So I really hope most of this can be temporary measures rather than a permanent thing. For a while I experienced a bit of freedom in Perth where we didn’t need to wear mask indoors. I almost forgot that this was life prior to 2020.

I feel old as I am constantly longing for my carefree past.

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Was the Pre-Smart Phone & Pre-Globalisation Era Truly Superior?

I tend to wax nostalgic, wistful for the bygone era – the nineties. I’ll admit bias, as it also happened to be the most carefree, healthiest and happiest time of my life. So I automatically connect, no smartphone and connectivity, to a superior life. But was it really?

People definitely couldn’t work from home then if they were not connected through technology. But I am truly nostalgic for my 90’s workplace. We actually liked each other and were passionate about our vocation. There was more interaction and talking face to face, in person. Much less chance of misunderstanding and a greater chance of making new friends. Seems rare to me now. Post millennial years were filled with toxic work places for me. So I can’t help but make that connection that the internet spoilt relationships. Perhaps I was just unlucky or in the wrong field.

I used to love working in a hospital, but now I’m terrified of the increased risk of contracting covid or monkeypox or whatever new pandemic strikes us. I can’t help but think, if not for globalisation and the sharp population rise, there wouldn’t be pandemics. There is always a trade off for everything. Globalisation brought a lot of amazing things too. Including precious humans in my life.

I used to have to plough through a thick dictionary to find the meaning of a word. But ironically it still didn’t stop or distract me from completing my book, the way the smartphone does. I search for a word and then, because it’s available, illustrations and it leads me off a tangent. Do I have superior knowledge now or just a case of knowing more, but actually nothing. Is it also making skills we used to have weaken? It’s rare that we actually try to remember and think when Google is a click away.

Quick information is great, but it’s hard for human beings not to be distracted by just the sheer amount of information, relevant, factual or otherwise. Most of it are the opinions of ordinary people and less likely to be verified, like say something that goes through a publishing house. Well, in a way it’s good thing as newspapers are mostly filled with propaganda and a fixed narrative. It’s important to have other voices.

The youngest generation is horrified at the thought of a world without iPads or streaming like Netflix. They have no concept of the patience needed with dictionaries, pay phones or recording your favourite TV show and the last bit getting cut off. But I miss that slow pace of life. It just seemed less rushed and ironically less isolating. Somehow texts can lead to anxiety and misunderstandings as we all know too well.

But then again now that we have it, I can’t imagine not being able to connect with family in another country for free or being connected when we are travelling. And I really feel sad that I don’t have videos of my childhood and especially of those close to my heart like my dad. And the photos I have of him and with him, seem just too few compared to what we are able to secure now.

And how could I not mention the ability to blog. It’s been magical for me since I started on blogspot in 2005. And no matter how social media sucks us in I appreciate the human connection. Ironically it makes me feel less lonely as I connect less with humans in real life as I don’t want to trouble them. And then I got used to the loneliness. It has also led me to being more introverted and needing alone time to wind down. The sad thing is I notice this in very young children when for me it only started in my fourties. Makes me wonder if future generations will be super individualistic and introverted. Probably an unfounded fear, as humans are social creatures. Well maybe we’ll have robots for companions.

I’ll just conclude that we all miss what we actually experienced (nostalgia), but of course progress is great. I wouldn’t want to go back in time where life might have been even more relaxing, with better weather (before global warming), cleaner air (less burning on plantations) and less crowds (before globalisation took off).

But if you offered me to go back to my grandparents’ era, when there was no sanitation. No thanks. I’m happy with progress in this regard.

After all that rambling, if you gave me the option of the smart phone never being invented I would be ok with that. I tried to resist getting a smartphone for years, but when everyone has it it just becomes to hard to be the odd one out. As we all know, sad as it may be, society doesn’t except those on the fringes.

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For Those Who Grieve? The Unbearable Pain Does Diminish

1. Don’t suppress your emotions. Being “strong” will damage you mentally. Get professional help like counselling early. Do everything in your own time and don’t be rushed or pressured. This is not the best time to make decisions. (I regret not slowly going through and keeping more of my Papa’s things, especially handwritten things.)

2. You will slowly adapt to your new reality. Pain does diminish (for me, after a decade at least). You will feel guilty about this and feel sad about forgetting how you interacted with your loved one especially if you lack enough photos or videos (how I wish I had a video of my Papa- he had the best laugh and I just miss his voice and whole being).

3. The saddest part is that as days fade so does your pain. The brain protects you by forgetting. The comforts of that time slowly become blurry as you adjust to the new normal. You never thought you’d make it here, but somehow you just do.

4. You may feel guilt over this, but you will find new joys. They won’t replace the old, but you’ll be so thankful and feel blessed.

5. You will have deep empathy for the grief of others and be more sensitive towards them. Because you know how the worst day of someone’s life can feel.

6. You will be utterly grateful for all the love you were showered with. And all you want to do is honour your beloved one. All you want is to make them proud.

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Being Human

The inadequacy I feel is crushing.

I can’t believe I am here.

How did I even get here?

I know the various traumas. I feel like a broken recorder. No one likes to hear complaints. Well perhaps you won’t mind if this life experience resonates.

Part of me can’t except it.

Part of me can’t believe it.

I used to be happy with myself. There was a time, dare I say, when I was even proud of some of my abilities.

The part that hurts the most is that I used to work so hard. I still do, but there is only one type of measure in the eyes of society that relates to GDP. Even on a country level we don’t care about happiness. Just how much money we can produce.

I can’t dissociate myself from the bombardment of propaganda. What I feel is what they want me to feel. Shame. But because I’m aware I feel frustration too. Of course there are pockets of pure joy, but outside of that bliss, the overriding feeling is fear if I think beyond this moment. You see, I have already experienced how everything can be shattered in an instant.

I keep going. The thought that this all ends one day, for sure, keeps me going. Yes it’s bleak, but it is a coping device.

Might as well enjoy it and take it day by day and ignore the naysayers. At least my partner thinks so. He has a hard time convicting me to live for the day. But I truly appreciate that he’s actually worried my cancer will recur. I’ve pushed that out of my mind. I want to be an ostrich now.

In a way I would love a definite deadline and then I would live without a care in the world. I guess we all would.

Such is the burden of consciousness. And no wonder they say ignorance is bliss.

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Why I Always Reach For Food

Wish I didn’t succumb to this, but I do, I always do. The lure of tasty food. I eat especially when I’m upset or often when I’m bored. Always for a celebration. Food makes me so happy and it’s what I look forward to for the day. This just sounds so terrible, but it’s true.

It’s pure addiction – especially to junk food. Salty, sweet, buttery melted cheese, spicy, curry, it’s all enticing to me. Why can’t something like carrots draw me in the same way instead. I say carrots, because it’s my favourite vegetable.

Food delivery makes it too easy to get what you crave. I need to ban it from my life. This was especially so during lockdown when boredom and just feeling trapped, made me turn even more to food for comfort.

Tv is a major trigger. I think I’ve always connected it with the comfort of childhood. My childhood was filled with F&N Sarsi & Cherry (fizzy drinks/ sodas), smarties and ice cream. In school we had loads of unhealthy food too, but what a delight. The happiest memories always featured food.

My parents and grandmother, came from a good place. Because they endured actual hunger due to poverty, they were keen to provide us with enough sustenance, but it kind of went the other way. I still crave for my grandmother and mother’s cooking.

And no one had any nutritional knowledge then. My sister and I used to just eat steamed rice with tomato ketchup and we loved it. We also had a lot of bread with Nutella.

Once the weight is on, it is so hard to get off especially when hormones wreak havoc. I had no clue that Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) would cause weight gain. And the steroids I was wrongly prescribed as a teenager, even more.

The only time I don’t feel like eating is when I’m with loved ones and am fully absorbed in the light of their company. It’s like they fill me up with their loveliness and as a result I have zero hunger.

Another thing I am grateful for is that my family never fat shamed me. So proud of them for that because that was highly evolved of them considering there was no awareness of how detrimental this could be. In fact they did the opposite and actually made me feel beautiful. Unfortunately others outside of this protective sphere did. Namely some abusive primary school teachers, the principal and nurses. Later on it was some people at work. I probably could write a whole post on this.

Social eating is a whole other thing though. It gives me pressure. I really hate force feeding. I recall my cousin force feeding me and I just wanted to throw up. And the force feeding was attached to love “if you don’t eat this it means you don’t love me” “if you don’t eat this I’ll go home”. She was a kid too, so it’s just learnt behaviour. She was definitely force fed as well. I don’t blame her and so yeah it was a vicious cycle.

I prefer to eat alone with no one watching, because there’s a shame attached to my eating or should I say bingeing. It’s been a coping mechanism for me since I was a child and nothing else works better as a form of comfort. And somehow healthy food like fruit doesn’t do it at all for me. I wish it did but it doesn’t in the least. No better mood lifter than junk food.

And without fail, there is intense regret and shame after I mindlessly succumb to yet another binge.

And why did I need comfort as a child? Just some deep trauma and abuse for years by someone my parents trusted who turned out to be a pedophile. I hate going into it as it just makes me so filled with rage and ashamed that I didn’t report it back then. I feel like if I did I would not have ended up as a victim in other situations and have such low self esteem. But then again, the system then, would have probably messed me up more. And I couldn’t imagine putting my parents through that. Or that person’s innocent children.

There was not much protection for children and a child didn’t have as much rights back in the 80’s. Many adults got away with abuse. Even now, there should be far more protection for children. Like a sex offenders registry. It’s shocking when I read of children falling victim to criminals who have offended before. So I think it’s high time.

If only a multiverse existed when I could have a choice to warn my parents beforehand and eliminate this person from ever existing in my life and destroying it. My deepest fear and shame is that there were other victims too and due to my cowardice, maybe some could have been prevented. But it’s been decades. I often wonder if they exist and if their lives have been uprooted too.

Every week back then, I could tell no one, and I told no one for years. I took comfort in food and sometimes I banged my head against the wall (think I was trying to erase the rage, disgust and intense stress I felt and couldn’t express. How I wish I could go back in time to protect that kid). It makes me angry to think I had to go through this. That rage has nowhere to go so I write.

Now I have to distract myself to gain control of my constant cravings. Something that works for me is computer games. This is so bad, but it’s the best distraction. I try to pick games that teach you something, so that it’s not time wasted.

Another thing that seems to have actually worked for me is intermittent fasting. This to me is not a diet as people have fasted for spiritual reasons too since ancient times.

I have zero hunger the three hours upon waking, and eating breakfast just triggers intense cravings and setting me up for failure for the day. So working with my natural hunger cues actually works really well. That and going to bed early, so that I don’t eat at night.

Movement helps a lot too (I refuse to call it exercise). The best kind of movement is playing with babies and little kids. I wish I had more stamina when one of my little nephews asked me to play tag. Told him I’m just too old. I really should make more of an effort next time. It’s such a blessing that he actually asked. And that in his mind perhaps I’m not that old and decrepit.

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Internal Life

I wonder if everyone’s internal life is as vocal or non stop like mine. The internal voice of your consciousness. I suppose it’s this way for most introverts who need and enjoy introspective time to unwind. It’s why I write. You can be satisfy both aspects of you. The part that needs to go within and process your thoughts, and the part that enjoys an audience and needs to be seen. Well perhaps a tad narcissistic as well.

I know people who are extroverts and need friends around them constantly or they feel lost. I’m not that type of extrovert anymore. Maybe I’ve been jaded after being too trusting with some toxic people thinking they were friends, but turned out to be self serving mere acquaintances.

One thing I cannot abide by is lack of ethics, and worst of all is lying, so I have severed ties due to that. I can still never understand how someone can truly be a sociopath, ok with sadistically bullying others with less power than themselves or even cheating on their partners with zero remorse. Yes I wish I wasn’t, but I’m still bitter. I wish I could be more forgiving, but unfortunately I’m a Scorpio although I present like a golden retriever.

Also life happened and circumstances changed (didn’t want to trouble my real friends who were busy with their growing kids, now teenagers), but I used to be more like that in my twenties.

Now I’m adapted to be more comfortable alone or with very few close ones, my relatives and my partner. I’ve realised how short life is and I want to spend it with those who truly matter to me. The loss of my father made that crystal clear and cancer made me value the closest loved ones even more.

I am a low maintenance friend and still do keep in touch with my old true friends from school and my first job (who supported me when we were younger and when I had cancer) So low maintenance that we don’t see each other physically for more than two years, but yet the conversation flows non stop once we’re together. But I’m lucky, as I have my cousins and very young aunties and they are my friends too. In fact the best built in friends who have known me the longest and actually care.

After the pandemic this feeling of enjoying the company of a few instead of many has intensified. I developed social anxiety with unfamiliar people in the past decade or so. Once the social anxiety was so tense I actually threw up after the gathering. Been avoiding them since.

As we got used to our own company during lockdown I’m sure it’s been hard to get used to large groups again. The real reason? I don’t feel confident with new people who ask questions. I’d rather be with those who know me well and are sensitive enough that they always spare me the interrogation about my life choices and not fitting into the norm.

Alone with my partner just feels so easy. We don’t even have to articulate much, as it is known to us. There’s that comfort and ease that I used to have with my friends as a kid (twenty something is basically a kid). Your partner kinda becomes your best friend. It’s hard to imagine that we’ve known each other for 25 years. That’s more than half my life.

Time passes in dizzying speeds and I want it to slow down. It’s also heartbreaking to think that my Papa knew me for 31 years 9 months (the last 2 weeks I can’t count as we were separated by an ocean) and it didn’t feel enough. I was so immature then. Feels like just a drop of water in the ocean and I yearn for more. But I am grateful that he conveyed to me an ocean of love in that time. I’m writing about it to solidify it and feel it all again.

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