ups and downs

I gingerly but boldly stepped into 2020, as I recalled how on the very first day of the new year of the new decade, I told myself I wanted to be rid of certain thought patterns and behaviours, and proceeded to order brunch that included creamy scrambled eggs and smashed avocado on toast. Despite that it appeared in a rather disappointing fashion, I think taste-wise, it was still rather delicious. In the not so distant past, scrambled eggs, connoting cream and lots of eggs, maybe even sugar, were something I would have never allowed myself to eat. It was a sad sight, thinking back, even if I have yet to fully let go and not even coming anywhere close to that, of how I really scrape at the food that I eat. Thinly-spread peanut butter on a single slice of multigrain/wholemeal/whole wheat/whatever-grain bread, never any of those fancy (and yes pricey) bakery buns that contain anything remotely described as custard/cheese/cream… you get the drift.

Eating wise, it definitely is a long and arduous journey, not unlike that of a roller-coaster ride, which I have never been fond of and do not imagine that I ever will be. It is just like any other forms of recovery that involve the psychological state isn’t it?

Myself aside, the year in itself, almost 3 months and a quarter that has just sped past, we have witnessed so many occurrences in the world in such a short span of time it seemed like history has been compressed in this period. Curve balls have been thrown left, right and centre, impacting on practically every single part of our lives and every nook and cranny of the world.

The week that passed has also thrown me into a state of disarray and heightened anxiety and stress levels. I thought I had settled into a fairly comfortable routine, ever since mid-February when there were some adjustments in the work schedule due to the virus situation. But what transpired in the week definitely was not within expectation (yet again demonstrating how unpredictable and sudden things can happen and change) and once more everything was tossed up into the air like a pile of dried leaves being ruffled by a strong gust of wind.

It was extremely challenging and stressful trying to navigate the changes, and try to once again put some order into creating a routine for myself to draw comfort from and restore a bit of sanity that I so badly need. I need control, which explains the situation(s) that I have gotten into, and this is definitely not good where control is concerned.

It is easy for someone to tell me to let go, let God, because He is in control. I know that too, but head knowledge vs heart knowledge – we know which usually emerges triumphant. It shows that my heart is not fully immersed and in belief of His provision, and it is hard. It would take a massive amount of trust and faith to really commit one’s whole life into His hands. My mind is crowded with a million darting thoughts and progressively it is getting noisier; this week was exceptionally bad, which probably also explained why I had been quiet here, because I didn’t have the headspace to put into words what had been darting through and around my mind, even though journalling is meant to help. I just did not have the energy to sit down quietly and write.

It is a Saturday morning. I am allowing myself to breathe a little as I try to think about how to readjust my weekly schedule, both weekdays and weekends. We may not need to control our lives so much, but some form of routine is always helpful to keep us sane and grounded. Particularly in times when we really are being forced to live day-to-day and planning has almost become irrelevant.

Instagram has always been lauded as being toxic but it probably also takes conscious curation to maintain that hygiene over who we follow and what content we allow ourselves to feed on. I’ve spent hours mindlessly scrolling through it and I wouldn’t say it’s the best but sometimes we do find gems.

No man is ever an island.

In the sense that we are community creatures and in this world today in which we are highly interconnected and especially in a city state like Singapore where we live densely and within close proximity with family and friends, we can’t really be hermits and not communicate with people on a regular basis.

This is particularly true for people who tend to be more verbose, like me. As much as I can and do spend a lot of time by myself, and need to in fact, I cannot thrive and survive when I go for long periods without social interaction that involve people beyond acquaintances. Sure, I can make small talk with random people such as food stall vendors or cafe service staff, but these are just not enough. Not for a protracted period of time anyway.

I always hold the belief that a person has a quota of words each day or week to use up in conversation that goes past the superficial “Hi”, “How are you?”, “The weather is crazy these days, isn’t it?” and the likes. I enjoy heartfelt, deep conversations with some friends that although can get quite uncomfortable and push all the wrong buttons in me, they provoke a certain level of further rumination on my part thereafter that sometimes can help me in my personal growth and development.

A friend of mine is progressing in her certification as a coach and I have always appreciated her perspectives that help me to get a more balanced view of areas that I may have been blinded to. Of course, some other friends have also offered up fresh insights for me to mull over, ALTHOUGH I must qualify that my initial reaction is always to turn up my defences and resist whatever new ideas they are throwing my way.

Sometimes, we just want the other party to commiserate and sooth our egos and emotions, but these pity parties aren’t helpful eventually even if there are times when they are sorely needed.

So… I do crave interaction with human beings who are my friends or family. Being unable to get sufficient amount of such interaction can get a little trying on my mental health, so I really need to think of how I can ‘schedule in’ such interactions on a regular-enough basis.

Also, even though I kept reminding myself I have also been ill-disciplined in staying on track in my original conclusion, preferring to give them the benefit of doubt. However, over the last few weeks, I have decided that my current colleagues are simply such – colleagues. I do not find any friend in any of them and do not think I ever will. Becoming friends with colleagues is not an impossibility. I have found close friends for certain seasons who were my colleagues, but in the office I work in now, I just feel that interaction is superficial at best and most people are either self-centred or selfish. I am also one of them, I figure.

detachment

I have always struggled with investing too much of myself emotionally to people and perhaps even things.

The latter is a problem only to the extent that it has made decluttering difficult because throwing things away is made tougher, exacerbated by the other issue of a tendency to be lazy in efforts to re-home these items that I no longer need/use.

Attachment to people is a way bigger hurdle that I need to constantly remind myself to learn my lessons, and let go of putting myself too much into interpersonal relationships. It is actually fine and nothing wrong in being authentic and giving my all in friendships (beyond acquaintances or colleagues), but I need to learn about managing expectations or not becoming overly-expectant of what “should” the connection be like.

Frequently, a point-in-time closeness has sometimes made me forget the pain and heartache experienced in past experiences where I have let myself go too deep into expecting how the relationship should be, and ended up burnt and getting myself hurt. Sure, it really is a case of me asking for it, but how is this balancing act going to be maneuvered in a way that I don’t hold back in authenticity, while being able to accept that things aren’t going to be how I wish for them to be all the time? I cannot expect that the other party, whose actions and thoughts I have zero control over and not absolute awareness of, would always behave in a way that I would have in the same situation. Different people hold different values and they may not always be considerate of the other person, or they could be dealing with some shit that has resulted in them behaving in a capricious manner that inadvertently and unconsciously hurt someone else, i.e. me.

It will always be a work in progress that I have to keep posting these mental ‘post-it’ notes to myself. It is tiring indeed, but I believe that in the longer run, being able to manage this well would contribute greatly to my overall mental health and well-being.

sweets to sweeten up days

I never really knew I had a sweet tooth until recently. Or I just did not realise the intensity of it. It could also be catalysed by lifestyle changes. There was a time I restricted these indulgences to the weekends and try as much as possible, to eat more healthily during the week. But more so, these days, there is a blurring of the timing. I eat cakes even on weekdays. And as I read Mind Your Body yesterday, I was suddenly arrested by a page that talks about how bad pastries and cakes are, as well as biscuits, which tend to be replete with transfat and all sorts of unhealthy stuff. It isn’t the calorie count that matters, but rather what goes into my body that will probably wreak havoc that I would suffer for in later years to come.

For me, it is hard to make the change to steer away from these (used-to-be) weekend treats but I guess we all have to start somewhere. Recently, I still had a slice of cake. Ok, I haven’t stopped, I just had cake on a couple of days this week too. ._.

20140522-133119.jpgI really like this carrot cake at Spinelli because it gives me a false sense of healthiness in eating it. As compared to other carrot cakes maybe it really fares better because they isn’t as much cake in comparison to carrot. For most commercially-available carrot cake, it is pretty much a cake with cream cheese frosting, sometimes topped with walnut bits, like the one at Cedele which I also love lots. But this one has so much carrot strips, just check it out in the picture below.

20140522-133127.jpgAnd it comes in a size that is rather friendly, because I finished it and didn’t feel like a bloated balloon fall of cake and oil. So probably I will still keep this on the list for the occasional treat.

Pastries and my unfathomable love of it. Yet these are again packed with too much bad stuff. Why oh why are nice things always bad? Ok maybe not all nice things, for instance, things like yogurt and fruits are generally healthy and I love them too!

20140522-133134.jpgI have a strong craving to indulge in these sweets now, especially that I have been sick for the past few days. It seems like a long time ago since I last fell ill, but each time it happens it will be something really major and serious. And the sucky thing is that because there are meetings every day, I can’t just go on medical leave, wonder if I call myself responsible or acting tough. I just cannot make myself call in sick and cancel all the meetings that I am supposed to attend, even if my throat is parched and each cough brings forth chest pains, my head throbs and feels like it’s on fire yet my body experiences chills even with layers of clothes piled on. I believe I will recover well as soon as possible!

more soup!

Due to the cool weather that actually left me freezing in air-conditioned places especially the office, I thought it would be a great idea to have soup for dinner yesterday. So I popped into Soup Spoon for a dash of their soupy goodness. My usual order at Soup Spoon is Meatless Minestrone, which I really enjoy because it’s like vegetable soup with lots of ingredients, the beans and potatoes that I like so much. It’s perfectly ok that there is no meat, and the bonus factor is it is pretty low-caloried, if what is indicated on the menu is correct. That is without the bun of course, but these days I noticed that the buns I have been getting when I buy a soup is not the usual white bread roll but some perhaps wholemeal variety? It doesn’t look like normal/plain white bread, if you get what I mean, so besides giving me the feeling that it might be healthier (who knows if it really is or not), it adds some texture to the bread so that even if you decide not to dunk it into the soup, it can be eaten on its own.

I didn’t remember to take any pictures of the soup that I bought so I nicked this picture off Soup Spoon’s website, where you can find out more about the nutritional value of the soup. Oh, last night I decided on a change and ordered Tokyo Chicken Stew. I think this is the first time I’m trying this and I wonder why I haven’t done so yet because it’s so delicious! tokyochickenstew_ss

I used to think that this soup, with a clear broth, is an oddity among the rest of the soup choices in the menu because for such soups it feels weird to dunk bread into it. Most of the soup choices are creamy or with some degree of viscosity, besides alluding to being more “western-style”. Even by its name alone, it stands out as different. But yet I’m really glad they have something like this because all the ingredients are so tasty and the aroma when I uncovered the lid of the styrofoam take-out container which permeates the room had everyone else salivating for it. That explained why I had no time to take any pictures because one of my classmates was openly and unabashedly staring at my bowl of soup and asking me to share it with him so I had to quickly finish it. 

The only downside is that the soups don’t come cheap. A regular bowl of this costs S$7.50, which is also the average price of the rest of the soups. At Cedele, the small soup (which should measure less than this) costs S$5.80, with all-you-can-eat bread at the bread bar. Perhaps it is time to pick up cooking and in future, when I finally have my own kitchen, I can start experimenting with soups!

Healthy beginnings

One morning after a scheduled health screening, I was starving and in search of food. I had been fasting, except for water that I drank to try to keep myself from feeling too much hunger pangs, for more than 10 hours and usually I don’t go that long without food.

As usual, I mulled over the limited choices of cafes but as it was a weekday morning, I didn’t have problems with seats; it was more a choice of which cafe I would want to go to. Finally I decided on Spinelli and they have this on the menu as a breakfast option, muesli with yogurt!

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I know some would blanche at this choice of breakfast, as it is something that I can easily make on my own at home, at a much lower cost, but I didn’t really want to have a muffin or cake or sandwich, so I ordered this. It was a really huge bowl of muesli, much more than what I’d usually take, and the serving of yogurt atop it was not enough for me to mix it up with, so I ended up having to take the remaining muesli “dry”. I know I could have just left the rest there, since I am not exactly the biggest proponent of not wasting food, but I’m selective. When it comes to food I like I try not to waste. Haha. Double standards, yes. 20130726-090006.jpg

Breakfast is a great way to start the morning, and because I enjoy breakfast so much, it is usually not a problem to wake up early each day as I have something to look forward to! It helps that some of my favourite breakfast choices are healthy options that I won’t feel too guilty for indulging in on a daily basis! At least for this part of the morning, I can feel happy and chew on the food with a smile on my face.

good morning!

I used to be someone who could literally sleep till the sun sets. When I was a student, my mum was always complaining that I am a late-riser, because I go to sleep late at night, and I could spend the whole morning and even afternoon still asleep, then wake up maybe just before dinner. Of course this doesn’t happen all the time but it was something I was completely capable of. Now, this is totally unimaginable for me; maybe not impossible but perhaps as the years go by and as much as I guess one needs less sleep as one grows older, I find time to be too precious to be spent sleeping. I know sleep is important, and I try to keep a certain numbers of slumber hours each night too, unsuccessfully, but then I try not to spend too much time sleeping.

And it isn’t difficult for me to wake up early in the mornings either. It used to be hard, but these days it has become a habit to rise early. Even on vacations I don’t really sleep in because I want to make the best of my time, especially since I don’t keep late nights (anymore, usually), my days have become more regular. Generally, I wake up at about the same time each day, regardless if it’s weekday or weekend, and I always wake up looking forward to breakfast.

My breakfast isn’t an elaborate affair, and to some people it is even boring and unthinkable, but it is what gets me motivated every morning. It is also a part of the travelling that I enjoy, because during those trips I fully indulge in breakfast, much more than when I am at home, and let myself eat more. Haha.

Sometime ago, I got to know about a way of having breakfast that I totally enjoy now. Typically, I have yogurt with cereals or fruits, but what I came across was based on oats. I used to make quick oats, mixing oatmeal with hot water and adding in some fresh or dried fruits to flavour, but then because it was hot, I didn’t enjoy it as much because it made me perspire thereafter. This way that I came to know about through a friend’s postings online makes cold oats, which is a great idea for me.

I went online to find out more about it and modified the ingredients a little, until now the main things that go into my breakfast oats are yogurt, flaxseeds, old fashioned rolled oats and fruits. I pre-mix the items and keep them in the fridge overnight so that the oats could be soaked up in the yogurt and soften, and in the mornings, add in the fruits. I used to also add in milk or soya milk but it made the texture of the oats a little too watery if I didn’t put in enough yogurt, so I decided to cut the milk and stick to just yogurt since that is my preference over milk anyhow.

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This doesn’t look very palatable, especially to some of my friends who think I am eating baby food but it is something I really love and look forward to each morning! It is only on rare occasions when I bring this to office that I cut the fruits and put them into the jar, otherwise everything is in a bowl that I eat out of at home.

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It is a generally healthy way of having cold breakfasts, and I’m glad I got to know about this! My mum has her theory of cold breakfasts being not so good for the body, maybe she has a point there too because some of my friends can’t take cold stuff for breakfasts, but so far I think it is still ok for me. As I was rummaging through for used plastic bags to put the jar into one morning, I found this.20130704-074247.jpg

Helps to make the morning even better, doesn’t it? Have a good Friday and great weekend coming up!