2017

Happy 2017. Although it’s already the third week of the new year.

Philippians 3:13-14 says:

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind me and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

In this brand new year, I should learn to look forward and not into the past; that whatever has passed is past and put them behind me. It is ok to reminisce but to live in past memories only serve to make us get stuck in a time warp, unable to progress forward.

Well, I don’t know if there is anything that I am hanging on or holding on to in the past that is rendering me unable to look forward or move forward, but I know that action is important. We can have the best-laid plans but if no action is taken then there will never be any breakthrough. I hope that this can be the year of change for me, in all aspects of the word, that I can persevere in making the kind of changes that I want to see in my life.

Being financially-bound by commitments, the biggest of which is the housing loan that I should stop harbouring resentment towards but be filled with gratitude and gladness that I now have a roof over my head and place to sort of call “my own”, add on the various other necessary payments such as taxes and insurance premiums the latter of which medical-related ones are on the uptrend, I may be constrained with pushing forward with my initial plans to action.

That said, I still want to believe that this is going to be the year of change. Changes can come in small steps, but I need to take one step forward to make things happen.

Food for (my) thoughts

Came across a website earlier on, and read some articles that could be useful for me. One of them talks about addiction to food, which more aptly, the article states, could be “eating addiction”. There’s even a slideshow that was created to discuss it, along with groups at risk, prevention and so on.

As I clicked on the various links that expounded further on the topic of binge eating (disorder), a lot about the behaviour and feelings described resonated with me. I wonder if it could also be a case of a self-fulfilling prophecy as I try to draw myself into the box of people who may fall under the diagnosis of BED.

Looking back on 2016, so many things have happened this year that has physically and mentally worn me out. I hope I have made good progress on some fronts in terms of breaking through on some thoughts and ideas that have ceaselessly spun themselves in a spiral within the small compound of my mind. In the coming new year, I also hope that there can be real tangible progress that will move me forward, even if it is just for an inch. It certainly beats staying in the same spot, pondering the next move but never making it.

Merry (belated) Christmas!

So anyway, Christmas has come and gone. So fast. Too fast. I thought it was just November? Good times never seem to last, but that is how things work. Good times are enjoyable and so they appear to pass faster. The reverse is, of course, true as well.

So how did you spend your Christmas? I hope it was all good for everyone out there who happens to come to read this post. Merry Christmas to you, albeit a belated one, although it is technically still Christmas since there are supposed to be 12 days’ of Christmas right? This would make today the 4th day.

Came across an article shared by someone on LinkedIn that talks about complaining, and I would raise both hands sheepishly to admit that I am someone guilty of being a chronic complainer. I know all along it isn’t healthy, even though there are times when there is a need to just ‘vent it out’ and not keep it bottled inside because it is healthier? I don’t know, I guess there are different schools of thought on that, but the article is against complaining. More specifically, it is against complaining without a purpose – it is okay to complain if it leads to a desired outcome, say you are complaining about bad service but with an aim towards hoping there can be an improvement to it (an example in the article). But most of the times, we, or rather I, complain for the sake of it.

It isn’t just a bad habit that should be kicked for good, having it out of our lives actually helps promote better health, maybe better relationships and overall a better quality of life. I think this would be something for me to work on in 2017, and hopefully the tips offered by the article will help me move in the right direction!

a Christmas that doesn’t feel like Christmas at all

I can’t believe it has been so long since I last posted anything. It’s getting increasingly challenging to post on WordPress, metaphorically. There really isn’t much to write about and I just do not have the inclination to write. It’s easier on other platforms perhaps, to share, words or pictures.

That said, as I checked out the blog’s page, I realised that the drifting snowflakes are back! Obviously I haven’t activated that this year, so I guess it is a feature that has carried over from the year before. Looking at the snowflakes, I can’t help but feel the sharp contrast to what we are experiencing this year in Singapore; the weather has been nothing short of scorching, warm and humid, save for a few bouts of slightly gloomier, cooler and wetter moments that offer some kind of respite from the heat that is so uncharacteristic of this time of the year. Indeed, if these are the effects of global warming, I really shudder to think of what could lie ahead.

Such weather pushes any thoughts of Christmas far away from my mind, which automatically links the heat to ‘summer’ season. On the other hand, the shopping belt and malls have started pretty early in ramping up the festive vibe, with the decor and then when they began playing Yuletide tunes that kind of sets the tone to get people into the spirit. I didn’t want to, and seldom buy many gifts for Christmas in the first place but as I bought one, the others somehow just seem to follow. It is always a blessing to give than to receive, although I wouldn’t of course refuse presents that come my way!

Going through a period of simplifying my life and hopefully eschew the more material parts of life that I used to (and probably sometimes still do) hanker after. After all, we all come into this world with nothing and will leave with nothing, why should we indulge in material items that don’t do much other than to artificially inflate our egos? It’s something I try to convince myself, that material things don’t make or define a person, definitely not me. I don’t become a “better” person just by carrying an expensive bag, or wearing expensive clothes or shoes. What matters more and most is what is inside of me, which are not what so-called branded items can define.

Anyway, before the year runs out… we have another 10 days or so before 2017 arrives, if I don’t come back here to do another post, Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Friendship at work?

I wonder if that is fact or myth.

I would like to believe that it is possible to form friendships at work, because most of the friends who I have now with whom I contact often and meet up with, are from work. There are just a few who have remained friends after we stepped out of the schools’ gates, whether by choice or by circumstance. But the ones I count as close friends now are mainly from my past jobs.

The thing is, we didn’t become friends or grow closer after we leave the companies that we worked together in. Which is why I have this faith in friendships formed at work. Yet, it is with examples that I also start to lose the faith with it.

It does seem now, that developing friendships is becoming an almost impossible feat. People seem to be guarded with information they divulge about themselves, and they seem to not be totally forthcoming in conversations, whether it’s about work or play. I know that we ought to be mindful of what we say, especially when we are still working in the same company, but shouldn’t friendship be characterised by trust? I don’t sense that feeling of trust here somewhat, and there is a lack of candidness. There is still that overall civility that is proof that we are still on ‘colleague’ terms, not friends.

There is certainly no need to feel sad or aggrieved at this, but I just find it strange. Having people at work whom you can talk to without that barrier helps to make an otherwise dreary job more bearable. Perhaps I just tend to trust people too easily, despite my professional background where I was meant to exercise scepticism in my line of work. But yet that is not to be.

right believing leads to right living

This is something that my pastor usually talks about. I’m not about to go into my belief, which I think is something personal and I don’t need to share it publicly. But rather I thought this is a very apt phrase – “Right believing leads to right living”. Simply put, it just means that believing in the right thing(s) will cause you to lead a life that is.. right and good. What is right and good, is of course debatable and subjective depending on person. But it generally corresponds to something like, not doing the wrong/illegal things, and also perhaps in terms of mind set, not thinking the ‘wrong’ things?

I don’t know if I were a born pessimist. But I would admit that for the most part of my life so far, I have become sort of a pessimistic person. It is not chronic, for I still do see the good in some situations and I am not constantly in a state of depression as there are still bursts of optimism, hope and sunshine in my life. It’s just that, my life and my emotions often go through a crazy roller coaster ride, which can happen many times a day. It is tiring, to say the least, but whatever option it is that I am going for, whether it is believing in God for everything and letting God chart my life, or seeking tangible professional help, at the end of the day, it is still my mind that needs to be controlled. My mind needs to see the hope, believe in the hope that God has a great plan for me in life and that whatever it is that I am going through now, it is a way for me to grow, to learn whatever I need to that I am currently lacking in, to be protected from a path that I would otherwise have taken that might have put me in harm’s way.

I am trying very hard. With His grace, I want to believe that this is possible and every single hurdle that looms up in front will be cleared and overcome, and I will come out stronger and better.

As I was going through some files, I saw a lot of my travel photos from the past, when I was in my previous job. I remembered complaining about the fatigue from travelling to places far away, not the glitzy, glamourous cities that we associate with business travel. I remembered complaining about the lost weekends and personal time because of the need to start the business trip before the work week begins, and after it has ended. The discomfort of not being able to get proper and quality sleep due to the different time zones, being stuck in cattle class, the need to take red-eye flights, suffering from jet lag.

But I also remembered and reminisced the peaceful and happy moments when I managed to squeeze in some form of sightseeing in those nondescript places that these trips led me to, enjoying the wonderful cuisines of these countries and marvelling at the magnificent sights that Mother Nature had created there. The euphoria of heading home after a trip and the real feeling of ‘being home’ when the flight touches down in Changi. The anticipation of seeing my family again, of being able to feel the familiarity of Singapore and having my favourite local food, being dressed comfortably in our national ‘costume’ of shorts and T-shirt, not needing to be all wrapped up for the cold, wintry climates overseas.

Was that meant to be just a phase of my life that has passed and become another chapter of my life’s history? I don’t know. I do miss travelling, but I don’t know if it is not God’s plan for me to continue a life of frequent jet-setting. I can still travel leisurely, and it definitely beats business travelling. But there is always a difference, because I can’t afford to travel as often on my own expense, and I won’t be going to some places that I won’t travel on my own.

My last business trip was to Shanghai.

shanghai_nov2013

I am thankful that I didn’t have bad memories of Shanghai. In total, I think I have been there 4 times, and they were all business trips, and always in times of generally fine weather, either March or November. I didn’t have to go through the nastiness of summer in Shanghai, and on several of those past trips, I had the opportunity to meet up with friends or family who work/live there. It had been kind to me, and on that last trip, it was good as well. I was even given a farewell gift by my German colleague, which although small, was a really nice gesture that touched me, despite that we were not exactly that close since I only meet her when I go on business trips. She knows how much I visit Starbucks, which we usually also do when we travel, so this was what she gave me.

shanghai_nov2013_1

Happy Friday!

I really wish to rediscover my love for and interest in writing. I feel sad when I visit the blog sometimes and after logging in, just proceed to log out because I just don’t feel the inclination to write and I am just not inspired to write anything. Writing used to feel so easy and effortless and nowadays it seems to be one of the furthest things from my mind. Focus is hard to grasp with apparent brain fog most of the times, and I just feel that whatever is typed out is somehow just meaningless banter.

But still, it is a Friday after all! Best day of the week because there is no work tomorrow. Isn’t it sad when on a day-to-day basis, the only thing worth looking forward to is the lunch break and end-of-workday, and then to Friday? When Friday comes around, there is already that impending dread that the weekend, though here, is too short and Monday already seems to loom around the corner. Well, I know this is all negative talk that I should refrain from and instead learn to ‘live in the moment’, enjoy each day for what it is rather than look ahead to something that we can’t control, or that only seem to make us feel bad. There really isn’t a point to be at this moment now, harbouring regrets about yesterday and worrying about tomorrow. And ok, I know that most people would say that everyone is exactly the same, in looking ahead to the meal breaks and then the going home part. We are all alike in that aspect but we all react and respond differently because of how differently we are wired internally. It’s just like how eating a humongous sandwich can make me experience heavenly bliss but to another it is just… food.

So anyway… with 8 months of 2016 gone and the last third of the year to go, I was thinking if I should, scratch that, I was thinking of where else I should visit. The last few years have seen me taking quite a number of vacations in the span of a year, at least 4 or more. This year, I have been on just 2 holidays.

In May, I visited my favourite city, Tokyo, once again. I already lost count of the number of times I have been there but yet there is always that desire to visit. There never really is an itinerary or reason for visiting each time but somehow I just look forward to going there. This time, I revisited Gotemba Premium Outlets. It’s the second time I’m going there and it’s so different from the first. Weather-wise it definitely felt different and also in terms of the crowd. It was so empty when I first went in 2009 and freezing cold. This time, it still wasn’t too hot because the seasons were changing, but the crowd size was visibly larger. Also, the people I went with on this trip, to Gotemba at least, were avid shopaholics.

tokyo_may2016

This was the situation at Gotemba, where we were crossing from one part to the other, after having a very un-Thai version of basil chicken rice at the food court. Personally, as I don’t shop as much these days, I only bought some casual clothing from GAP (the typical go-to shop for most people at these outlets I think). My Gotemba companions scored big though, with one of the most value-for-money buys from Loewe for most of them.

Just recently at the end of July, I took a short trip to nearby Hong Kong, another of my favourite cities, but which is starting to lose its shine somewhat. I still enjoy it for its familiarity and proximity to Singapore that is such a boon in terms of the relatively short flight time, but circumstances seem to have began to cast shadows on these. Nevertheless, I tried something new this time! Craved for char siew and my friend brought me to this Michelin-starred eatery. We actually queued (albeit a short while) to enter even though it was past lunch hour. Verdict? I think it’s ok, not bad but not fantastic that I would want to queue for again. It’s the same as Tin Ho Wan, not bad but not worth the kinds of queue that we see.
hongkong_aug2016

Other than this, the only other local thing I had on this trip was a small cup of Hong Kong milk tea from Tsui Wah that I ordered at the airport while waiting for my flight that was delayed for a couple of hours due to the the typhoon that set off the island on a Signal 8 Typhoon alert the night before I was due to depart. I also chanced upon a Gerard Dubois patisserie in Causeway Bay and tried the lemon curd tart that was pretty nice and zesty!

passion_lemon_tart_aug2016

There were so many things there that I would have liked to order to try but I could only choose one because I think that’s the maximum sugar load I could take at any one time. Or so I would like to trick myself into believing.

So if I take Hong Kong and Tokyo out of the equation, what are the other plausible choices? Should I venture a revisit of either?