Peace in silence and solitude

On one regular weekday morning, I headed to a cafe near my home for breakfast after yoga. I had contemplated popping into a coffee joint at the nearby mall but on a wimp disembarked the bus a couple of stops earlier and made my way to that cafe instead.

It’s probably also considered one of the “hip” cafes to visit hut amongst a list of more “hyped” ones in the same neighbourhood, there are actually times when this place offers a calmer and quieter environment in comparison.

Being a weekday when I surmise most have returned to work after the long weekend, it was almost empty save for two other patrons who sat outdoors. I vacillated between in or out but eventually opted for air-conditioning because I suspected it would get humid and muggy outside. It wasn’t extremely comfortable for me indoors due to my natural aversion to cold but it was such an experience I hadn’t had in a while – the stillness of the interior as I quietly chewed and enjoyed my hearty breakfast while… replying work emails on my phone. Reducing screen time is still something I’m working on, but it’s easier to eat and scroll on the phone as compared to eating and reading a book since I need both hands to handle the utensils while eating.

The absence of any background music that cafés usually play, or the whirring of the espresso machine or some other food prep sounds, gave the stillness an air of tranquility and enchantment. It almost felt as though time had come to a standstill and that I was the only person in the world. Of course the cafe staff were around but they were probably just minding their business and busy on their own phones, although I was slightly bemused they didn’t even bother playing any music until slightly later when I was done and about to leave.

Quietness, in our current society and world that’s constantly abuzz with activity and a flurry of noises that have become a default that we have come to accept perhaps, is something so rare and unique which I’m deeply appreciative of. It’s at times like these that maybe I can savour the moments like previous drops of water in a parched desert, and just truly be. Not worrying about tomorrow or the future, not fixating on the partiality of human behaviour or the injustice suffered, not caring about what the world thinks of me and what I’ve chosen for myself and my life.

Because even in the gloomiest of times, God is never far from us – it’s a believe and veracity I’ve to keep close to me in order for me to keep going. Until the time is right for Him to move me to the next chapter, the next step, the next leap. No matter what comes my way, the provision and grace will never stop.

connectedness of mind and body

The way that one’s thoughts in the mind are linked, or affect the ways our bodies behave in reaction, is indeed intriguing and amazing.

I don’t know if it’s the overall dark and negative nature of my depressive thoughts that has resulted in the increasingly poor fettle of my health, or my body is somehow just displaying signs of physical exhaustion arising from lack of proper sleep and rest? Or maybe even perhaps insufficient nutrition, or taking it even a step further, the reluctance to return to work?

I can’t recall that in the last few years of my life I’ve taken ill with such frequency like the past couple of years. I don’t keep track but I do remember several occasions before major events or meetings when I’ve actually succumbed to some sort of viral infection that had at that point in time caused a parched and painful throat complete with body aches, stuffed or leaky nose and the dreaded loss of voice. For someone as talkative as I am, it’s woeful to not be able to manage more than an awkward croak although probably many are glad to have their ears safe from my verbosity.

With my supposed not-so-unhealthy diet – I eat a fair bit of salad greens, veggies and fruits and of course bread but I do steer rather clear of “heaty” stuff – and the regular exercise, it’s strange that the number of times of such attacks have gone up. I don’t think I fell sick as often in the last or second last job? Don’t tell me it’s age, I don’t believe in that.

So… I’m not going to care now if taking two days’ off work to rest my body and mind right after a long weekend is going to raise eyebrows, I would but then it’s just me being sceptical as usual, though with the current scare of the coronavirus, most world probably not want to have a flu-ridden person sharing an air-conditioned breathing space with them.

When one’s mind is tired and depressed, I supposed it then causes the body’s immunity to falter. That’s why the human body works in such wondrous ways, nothing ever functions independently of the other parts.

Perspectives

How has Chinese New Year been so far? With the first day falling on a Saturday, it has brought about a long weekend because Monday also became a public holiday.

The festive period and the festive air was definitely much more pronounced many year ago when I was still a kid in school, always getting excited about the impending holidays because of the new clothes that were always uncomfortable to wear though, but the snacks that we got to indulge in during that time was a treat. Back in those days, especially because my family wasn’t well to do, such snacks weren’t everyday things we got to have like how kids have it these days.

Chinese New Year these days feel different. Many people choose to make use of the extended holidays to go away on vacation but I wouldn’t say the festive air is totally gone. Albeit weaker, there are still families who choose to stay and practise the traditions, partake in the new year bazaars and snap up new year goodies and decorations, and give themselves another excuse to buy new clothes. I stopped buying new clothes for a while because I stopped visiting but goodies I still buy, not just during this season now but I take this as a chance to buy those goodies as gifts for families and indulge in some goodies that tend to be available only during this time.

I didn’t do much. Increasingly it’s just become another public holiday to me other than there are some inconveniences because many malls and shops are closed for the two days so extra effort is needed to check which ones are open for me to pop into for food and coffee. Otherwise it’s kind of “business as usual” for me and I just take the chance to attend yoga classes like I normally would.

Yesterday I met a friend for a catch-up and at some point she remarked that I’m too hard on myself. Although she wasn’t the first to say that, I always thought I’ve been too indulgent, and as one other friend put it before – too self absorbed/obsessed. I’m not narcissistic but I focus a lot on myself and introspect too much, and I do think I give myself a great deal of leeway, simply judging by how many job changes I’ve gone through, all in the name of “searching for my purpose and looking for more meaning in a job”. Are those the real motivations, or do I really just not know what I want and get bored easily?

Sometimes I think I’m too selfish because I prioritize myself above all things and all beings. I feel bad at neglecting people like my parents, or choosing to spend copious amount of time on yoga and other fitness classes instead of engaging in something more productive. I don’t know the real reason for the excessiveness, because it isn’t just all about wanting to exercise to burn calories. I am not sure if they are just a substitute that I use for something else I’m lacking in life or that I’m trying to escape or distract myself from.

Is that the reason why my friend said I’m too hard on myself, that I subject myself to such rigorous physical activity or put myself at the mercy of how others treat me and therefore giving them the power to direct my emotional state?

Happiness is doubled when shared. Joy is engaging in heart to heart conversations over coffee and sweet treats.

Sometimes people talk about the joy of having me time. That, to me, is overhyped. For someone who has me time all the time, it’s hardly something I actually pay much attention to. I don’t not enjoy spending time by myself, in fact I do it a lot and I think I need it a lot. But I just don’t overthink it and celebrate it like others who are constantly surrounded by people such as their duties as wife and mother, perhaps.

The key, I suppose, is to enjoy and appreciate every moment, be it by ourselves or with others.

One of my favourite activities now involve watching the sky start to lighten up as the sun makes its gradual ascent from beneath the horizon, while the rest of the community is still generally still in slumber and the surroundings are quiet with the air of tranquility, with the chirping of birds that begin to break the silence of dawn and before the stirrings of other households signal the start of the day.

my very simplistic view of diet culture

Modern society truly ‘struggle’ with first world problems.

When there are pockets of the world still facing challenges of shortages of food and malnutrition for the people of those countries and societies, so-called first world countries and societies grapple with the problem of abundance of food and on top of that, excessiveness. Food waste is a real problem, created by the food & beverage industry that supports other sectors like hospitality and even MICE.

Those high level problems aside, on a more micro scale, people of such societies struggle with dieting and a warped diet culture. People live to eat and choose what they eat. Choice is good but it is not always good.

People are wasting good money buying food that is sometimes thrown away or left uneaten because it’s “too much”, “not nice”, or simply just because they feel that they should “eat less” because of the need to control their diet. Since when has the human race got to a stage where food isn’t something viewed as a necessity for survival but instead has morphed into an enjoyment or indulgence? I’m not saying that we should abhor progress or that we shouldn’t be enjoying what we eat because it’s so important that we savour the food we eat and its taste and be more mindful of what we eat.

It’s part of what I go through in my condition that I can’t tolerate seeing people wasting food even though it’s a double standard I apply because I do not always finish my food. But I do always try to ensure, as much as I can, to order and buy food that I know I’ll eat AND finish. It’s a symptom or result, of eating disorders but it’s something I’m trying to overcome, which I believe by the grace of God I will.

It doesn’t help though, that in the world that normal people live in now, everyone is always talking about dieting, exercising so that they can eat, needing to cut down on this or that, that they’re getting fat or whatsoever… it makes things hard for someone suffering from a disorder because while the person is trying hard to get back into a healthy relationship with food and eating, everyone around becomes a trigger. Of course it isn’t their responsibility to ensure they aren’t a trigger but nevertheless it’s an impediment to the recovery journey.

To everyone, they will never be too thin, too healthy, because they will always be needing to lose that extra kilogram, the growing belly/tummy, and the laundry list goes on. People in general are never happy with their own bodies and how they look I wonder if this is just a competition to see who can do more and lose more, or is it just a humble brag scenario where the person is trying to elicit positive comments that they don’t actually need to because they’re already looking fab, or perhaps it’s become an accepted situation where one is not supposed to appear as being body confident for fear that they’ll come across as proud? I don’t know how society and its denizens have developed thence and I don’t think there is a single answer that will accurately explain this.

Suffice to say that we’re all just flowing with how the masses are behaving and we all have our body insecurities and hangups we deal with. It’s a personal journey no doubt but in a world where we live in communities it’s hard to have a true individual journey. Our lives are too interconnected to allow us the luxury or ‘suffer the predicament’ of leading solo lives. We just have to be mindful of our thoughts and not let them run amok.

Not sure what this post was trying to achieve or where I’m going with it. So… maybe just.. happy lunar new year and may this be a good and healthful year for all.

The feasting continues.

motivations

I went for my first official coaching session recently, having decided to embark on this journey and gift myself the gift of coaching sessions after attending a “trial” with this coach whom a friend recommended. I don’t know if it’ll work but I thought there was no harm giving it a try since I’ve tried to no avail on my own in figuring things out, which sometimes, ruminating has only made me dwell incessantly on things and led me in circles or worse, downward spirals.

Money of course will always be a concern. But it isn’t like I’m stressing out over money issues as long as I have a job, even though I’m that close to resigning without anything in the wait. I would like to think, and trust, that whatever decision I made, whether it’s right or wrong, led by God or not (because I really can’t know and experience the kind of peace that other believers have shared with me about Christ-led decisions), at the end of the day, God will still provide for me and guide me to where He has planned for me to be.

In the session, at one point the subject of “motivations” came up when we were discussing aspects of my life and one of which was health. I indicated that where this was concerned I was probably ranked somewhere in the middle, neither too bad or good. I felt that physically I’m considered healthy, other than being underweight. But mentally I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. Despite that I exercise frequently and enjoy the classes and aches that new exercises introduce to the body, I wonder sometimes about the motivations for pushing myself. The reasons I make myself go for class after class, each and every single day, prioritising them above every other thing, is something I’m not sure if I’m doing right.

Still on that, I also came across Instagram postings of a yoga teacher whose class I attend and liked. Posts often show the teacher attending classes, be it yoga or some other intense gym workouts, accompanied by captions such as “working out so to eat” or stuff like that when the posts are followed by posts of foods often termed as “indulgent” or “sinful” by the masses. As a yoga teacher, I wonder about such posts and the kind of mentality the teacher had and was trying to impart. I know fitness coaches or my spin instructors always scream at the people attending class to push harder so they can go have a burger after class. That isn’t always the right reason to exercise but somehow exercise has been perverted to become like that. I always thought yoga belonged to a different level entirely when it comes to the meaning behind its practise. But then I guess it differs from teacher to teacher and not every yoga teacher will be that holistic guru who has the entire yogic alignment of mind and body rolled into one.

Some food for thought.

happiness can be simple

It may seem like the most complex concept yet simultaneously the way to it can be amazingly simple.

I understand that it is a state of mind that we have the ability to influence and change but far too often, we are given to a multitude of external factors that impair our perception of this and make us feel so worn and tired that it is far easier to succumb and submit ourselves to the defeat.

Happiness, joy or perhaps contentment – it is never a constant unwavering state, because even the Bible says that we will have trials and trouble. That is why we need our saviour. But it is also easy to speak thus while practising it is another totally different ballgame.

I cannot fathom and comprehend the unkindness that some people are capable of. The frequent alternating of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde treatments just leave me completely exhausted and taken by surprise. I cannot anticipate such situations and have zero defence against these that leave me bewildered, befuddled and fundamentally, hurt. Maybe it is part of my schema that I am wont to return to such unhealthy relationships/friendships, even though I know these people are just not good for me and they are not worth my time and effort. Yet time and again, I have let myself slide back into the comfort of their friendship when they are in a good mood or when I am in their good books. Then when they decide to cut me off one fine morning, I have to suck it up and deal with it.

I wrote this to myself and I hope it is something I can always remind myself of, like a permanent sticky to adhere to myself in my mind/chest/forehead:

“Dear self,

Do not let someone repeatedly make you feel like a worthless piece of shit. You are more than enough.

Once is enough so please, I beseech you, please learn. Do not keep committing the same mistakes and allowing these people to treat you so badly as they wish and fancy. You are not responsible for their mood swings and if they do not see and appreciate the value of your friendship, so be it. Do not grovel at their feet. Learn, please! They are just not worth it.

Ironically, it isn’t what people whom we frequently complain about (at the workplace) who make it hard for us to carry on. It is the people who we were supposed to be closer with, the ones we spend more hours and days commiserating about our woes and complains over lunch, who drive us to leave eventually because of the emotional abuse they subject us to, because of the callousness with how they treat us, because of the disregard they show when they take my heart of friendship and trample on it like it is dirt.

Love, Me”

what’s it about anyway

It was purely coincidental but maybe it isn’t after all. That I was prompted to apply for the afternoon off work because it being a Friday I thought of going out for a walk around since the Chinese New Year is just around the corner and I wanted to pop into town just to let myself soak in that air of festivity, even though I know at some point the crowds and how people usually don’t have the tendency to walk with measured directional focus, will annoy me and stir up my irritation.

So when an email announcement came from the boss with some news I wasn’t prepared for, I didn’t have to remain in office for the rest of the day. It affected me rather badly and I was on the verge of tears at that helplessness and injustice I felt. Although I was also annoyed that the news on the cusp of the weekend would have ruined and marred the weekend, the window of time away from the office and the people of the office not having to face them, is perhaps a blessing in disguise.

Impulsiveness sometimes reign in me and it would cause me to post things on social media that there are times I’ll regret for oversharing or reacting rashly. But nevertheless, a couple of my friends actually reached out (other than those I actually texted to air my frustrations) that touched me. One of my friends actually took pains to offer comfort. It may be validation or it may just be pure comfort, but the feeling of having been heard, listened to and understood, and not just being patronised or feeling like someone asked only out of curiosity…. those are the little things that are truly the great things I am grateful for.

I was hurt and am still hurting. I don’t know how long I’ll take to recover from this hurt and shame. But I have to trust God.

It is probably all just in my mind thinking that those whom got what I was passed over would be mocking me but this may be the lesson that He had deigned for me to learn – curb my ego. It’s never about how competent I am over someone else, or I’ve not reflected that it had always been the grace of God that had caused things I touch to be good. Nevertheless it’s a hard fall. An extremely painful lesson. Maybe a very humbling experience that I will commit to memory.

Right now, I’m lost. I’ve lost. I don’t know how I can walk into the office next week with my head held high ever again.