Sunday, January 27, 2013

Nudge or Judge

Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I hate it when something happens and old feelings are resurrected from what I thought were long buried.

The recent death of William Yau sent everyone reeling.  

Parents felt the sharp pangs of fear gripping them.  Brothers/sisters everywhere imagine or try to imagine what losing a sibling feels like.  People sob, cry, rant and rave.

Then the unbelievable happens (at least for me).  People start blaming the parents.

Why does it always have to be this way?

Don't they know that the parents are already going through hell?  

Finding William dead doesn't bring closure in any form.  It heralds a beginning of millions of seconds thinking, re-thinking about that day.  It is the start of living, re-living the events of that fatal day.

Even if any child died of natural causes, the parent still goes through the trauma of that day.  Each painful memory runs through the mind at the speed of light.  These thoughts criss-cross and overlap until sometimes one cannot know what is real anymore.  It is unimaginable unless you have lost a child.

William's parents are grieving.  

Why don't people just give them a nudge and say "take care"? 

The excruciating pain of losing a child is enough, if you want to judge them.

So will you nudge or judge?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Happy Anniversary! Also my 100th post on this blog.

Pic from Pinterest

No, it's not an actual Anniversary!  It's just one that exists inside my head.  21 January 1984 is a date that I can't forget.  It's a date that I don't want to forget.  I have no reason to want to do that.

Without sounding too dramatic, here's some background.  I was married before.  On this date, I tied the knot with a man that I had known since I was fourteen years old.  When he died, my whole life changed.  It was sudden.  It was painful.

While the picture above is true for how I've always felt, it's not always how it turns out to be.  We don't always get to fulfill what we set out to do.  We don't always get that chance.  While we are at it, we should make each day count.  If you think that there is always a tomorrow, you're wrong.  It's today that counts.  It's NOW that matters.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones or blessed, if you prefer this word.  While I was afraid that I would never know happiness again, I did find it.
Pic from FB

It's not easy to push aside the old feelings.  It is never fun to return to a place in our past and reach for those moments.  It isn't a bad thing to do this, once in a while. Like it is, today, for me.  But I'll not let it suck me in.  I know that today is a good day to remember.  It's also a good day to be grateful for what was and, more importantly, what is.

Happy Anniversary, Doug!  It would have been 29 years today for us.  While I am not silly enough to feel sad, I am going to be silly enough to remember all the fun times we shared.   Your legacy of love lives on in the people who knew you.  This warms my heart and I am grateful that you were a huge part of my life.

I have someone new to annoy now.  I think I'm doing a good job!  Somehow I know that you are happy for me.  Somehow it is enough.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

To spank or not to spank!

Pic from FB

There's a short but healthy debate about discipline after I shared this picture on Facebook.  I respect that everyone has an opinion and it's always good to read and know how others think.  Either it adds to our thought patterns or it changes how we look at things.

I believe that discipline is good in whatever form you think is right for your family.  It is not something you choose to do but more likely that you need to do.

I've seen parents being emotionally blackmailed by their children.  

I've seen parents sitting helplessly at dinners while their children misbehave.

I've seen parents allowing their children to throw fruits at guests.

How did it get to this?

On Facebook, I mentioned that I was never spanked.  Actually, the more accurate thing would have been to say that I was never spanked by my Dad.  

My parents played the good cop/bad cop game with us.  Hahahaha

BUT nearly an hour later, I suddenly remembered that my Mom did spank me. I must have been 8 or 9 years old.  I vaguely recall that it was for not cleaning a room.  Mom allowed us to make a mess provided we clean it up.  We made the mess and then ran off to play outside.  When we got home, she smacked us.  

Truthfully, I can barely remember being smacked.  But the shame of being punished for not doing something I was supposed to do stayed with me.  It taught me that I should never make a promise and not keep it. 

It wasn't the spanking that hurt.  It was that I had let my Mom down.  She had trusted us to play until the room was a complete mess.  She had trusted us to clean up after that.  We didn't.

I learnt from that.  Maybe I could also have learnt if she had 'talked' to us instead of spanking us.  I don't know.  I only know that the spanking didn't hurt me.  Not in the way that people say they are scarred for life when their parents hit them.

I believe in spanking, when it is necessary.  I think that a little spanking is good for the child's growth.

"To each his own", I believe.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Logically speaking

Pic from Facebook.
Living in Singapore, I've found that people are generally mindful of the type of property you own. While I find it amusing that it is a much sought-after status quo, I do not think that it is a healthy one.  

The picture above does capture what I feel.  One can own a bungalow or condominium but it's not a guarantee that happiness is in equal proportion to the cost of your home.

We live in a small place.  People have asked Stephen where he is staying.  He always says that we live in Toa Payoh.  Usually, it is disbelief that they show when he says that our apartment consists of one bedroom, one kitchen, one bathroom/toilet, one hall/dining area.  In return, they will proudly inform that they live in apartments that have four or five bedrooms.  

He's been through this conversation before and he usually goes on with something along these lines:

Stephen:  There are only two of us and one bedroom is just nice.
Friend:  But it's so small!
Stephen:  How many bedrooms are there in your place?
Friend:  We have four bedrooms!  
Stephen:  How many people stay there?
Friend:  Oh, there are eight of us.  (Parents and 3 married children)
Stephen:  So two to a room.
Friend:  Yes, four couples so four bedrooms.
Stephen:  How many bathrooms?
Friend:  Two.
Stephen:  For eight people!

By now they are getting it!  The scenario is not as cosy as they thought it was.  They were under the impression that they had a nicer life because they had a bigger home.

Logically speaking, we have a better situation.   

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What do I do?

Pic from FB

My Uncle Ralph asked me this question just a day ago.  What do I do?  The actual question was, "What do you do with yourself now that you are no longer working?"

The reality is that many people wonder about how I'm adjusting to this life without work.  I take this word "work" to mean being employed and receiving a salary.  So I told him this in my email, "I work at being happy".  

I think that too many people don't work at it and expect happiness to fall in their laps.  It can happen, of course.  But how often would that occur?  Wouldn't it be better to work at being happy and achieving it as often as is possible?

Somehow there wasn't any real adjustment necessary for me when I stopped working for a living.  The whole idea of retiring was always so tempting that I finally gave in to it.  I haven't ever felt any sadness at leaving that behind.  Maybe I will admit that I miss my salary.  Apart from that, I don't miss anything else.  It has been so liberating to have given it up. In any case, Stephen takes care of me now so I don't have to worry about anything.

So what do I do?  I do what makes my heart happy.  

I do whatever good I can for those around me.  I may not do more but I surely won't do less.  Besides, it's easy to be good if you are inherently a good person.

I do what makes me feel good.  Why not?  It's the everyday things that make me happy.  

Sipping my coffee in the morning, unhurried.

Checking Facebook and mails.

Eating breakfast at 11 am or lunch at 3 pm.

Watching TV till 4 am.

Reading till my back aches.

Snoozing when my eyes are tired.

Walking around in shorts and tee shirts.  

Looking at the sky.

Taking a bus ride.

Walking around the malls.

Yes, just everyday stuff that I don't take for granted.  And because I don't take it for granted, I enjoy them even more.

Pic from FB

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Adding Extra to Ordinary.

Pic from FB

I met up with two dear Malaysian friends who came for a visit.    They are on a two-week driving holiday, in a car that is forty-seven years old. 

VOLVO 122 

The coastal drive will take them along the Peninsular starting out from Petaling Jaya, Selangor.  At the end of the holiday, they would have covered Port Dickson, Kukup, Tg. Piai, Singapore (where I am), Desaru, Cherating, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Bharu, Pulau Banding, Songkhla, Hatyai, Kangar, Penang, Lumut, Teluk Intan and then back home.  I understand that it's one of the things on their bucket list.  

Both of them are now retired, have known each other for about 40 years and will be celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary this August.  

Two days ago, we spent a few hours together , squeezing in the latest updates about our families.  The good thing about old friends is that it never gets old.  The friendship stays where it was and we just pick up from there.

Anyway, being with them reminded me of how wonderful it can be to live a simple and ordinary life, if you are with the right person.

Theirs is a story of an extraordinary love.  Their lives are a beacon of hope, for the people who are newly married, that love can last.

I can't help but to wonder, if only for a moment, about how my life veered off to another path.

They asked me if I was happy.  I didn't hesitate.  Yes, I am deliriously happy.  It's not something I've thought about but their question made me realise that I am.  I know it made them happy to hear my reply.

People always wait until it's too late to say what they feel.  I've made an effort never to be that way.  I always tell people when I love them.

Thank you, David and Shashi Netto.  Thank you for the love through the years.  Thank you for everything.  I love both of you very much.

Monday, January 07, 2013

"S" for SMILE

Pic from Pinterest

Last year, my DC (Daily Challenge) Buddy, Darrell challenged me to put this on my FB wall:

I was given the letter "S". Please describe me using one word that starts with "S" and I will give you a letter in return! :) No naughty words please! I am friends with young peeps as well!!!

Being a spoilsport (also starts with 'S'), I didn't want to do it but he called me a coward!  Usually I don't bite that kind of bait but I decided to give in to the temptation.

Imagine my surprise when I saw all these adjectives!  I have removed all the names to maintain the privacy of all those who commented.   If they read this, they will know who they are!




Supercalifrailisticexpialidocious ... you all things rolled into one





I wanted to say Super Sweet but that's 2 words. So take your pick.


Sensation, Simple, Solemn

Strong! And I don't mean, physically.

Wanted to put SKINNY! HEHEHE!

Stephen ! that's your other half too, right ?


'Sunshine' the sunshine of my life...Stevie Wonder.

Seductive and Selfless.

Swee+ness ....

the list of your traits which I collected from the writings of Joseph Conrad...Seductive, Selfless, Self-Aware, Self-Confident, Self-Disciplined, Sensitive, Serene, Sexy, Sharp, Simple, Sincere, Sizzling, Skilled, Smart, Smooth, Soft, Special, Spectacular, Spiritual, Splendid, Spontaneous, Stable, Steadfast, Strategic, Stunning, Strong, Strongwilled, Stylish, Successful, Supportive, Supreme and Sympathetic.


Simply spectacular!








Sophisticated... and of course, Sage.
(Couldn't resist, had to provide 2 words )

sweet??? heheh

40 comments and more than 50 descriptive adjectives and all of them have missed this one that is so obvious ... I can't believe it ... "Sensitive" as in empathic. 

What did I learn from this fun exercise?  I learnt that I am surrounded by such good people who take time out to make someone smile.  These are the people who fill my Facebook days with love and laughter.  I feel very blessed and any time that I feel down, I'm going to look at this again.  It's a great pick-me-up. 

Plus, it makes me SMILE!!!!!

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Real Happiness

Pic from FB

Shopping used to be fun.  I would buy anything that caught my fancy.  I thought that when I retired and had more time plus being in Singapore, I could spend hours doing what used to give me endless pleasure.

This did not happen.  My life changed and I no longer felt the need to go on a shopping spree.

Stephen used to shake his head at the amount of clothes I had.  He said that I could wear a different outfit over a year without having to repeat a look.  Well, yes, it was true.  

One cupboard of 84 blouses

At the end of my working era, I believe I had over 200 blouses, 8 black pairs of pants and almost all the basic colours of slacks.  Add to this, my skirts (long and short), plus the jackets and formal attire.  Since I stopped work, I've given away some of my clothes.  Maybe I have about 50 per cent now of what I used to have.

I also certainly amassed a huge collection of costume and real jewellery.  These were bought over the years or gifts I received.  At that time, it was never enough and whenever there was a 'good' buy, I'd buy it. I went through phases of pearls, crosses, Peruvian jewellery, precious and semi-precious stones.

A small portion of my stuff

Now, despite giving away quite a bit, I'm still left with so much and yet I only use the same favourites over and over again.

This is precisely why the picture on FB struck a chord in me.  It captured how I feel today.  All the things I bought only brought me temporary happiness.  I used to think that real happiness came from being able to buy anything you see.  I was wrong.

The real happiness comes from time spent with family and friends and doing what I love.

These days I'm doing what I love and it is a good feeling to have worked hard all those years, to have gone through all that and to be where and who I am now.

Yes, it is as simple as that, if you are looking for real happiness.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Bubur Cha Cha

Pic from FB

There are days when I long to have a small bowl of bubur cha cha.  Thankfully, I've found some places to get my fix.  

Strangely, it isn't a very common dessert here in Singapore and, in some places, it's served cold!  How do you eat it cold????  I usually make a face when they say that they only have cold bubur cha cha. Someone has to protest!!!

Most of the other local desserts are found easily.  Tempting as it might be to experiment and make my own, I don't need to do so.  

For me, it's just a bus ride away for a bowl to satisfy my craving.

Pic from here 
I found this site where the author gives instructions and if you are interested, you can give it a go.  

Friday, January 04, 2013

What Would You Do?

Pic from FB


For the longest time, I had always thought that I would give $10,000 to one of my friends if I ever won the lottery.  She doesn't know this and I never told her.  I just thought that it would be such a surprise for her to know that I had felt this way since the mid 80s and that I didn't ever mention it because I didn't want her to think that she would have to reciprocate.  It was just a silent wish in my heart.

Recently, I felt that maybe giving one person $10,000 isn't as good an idea as, maybe, giving 10 people $1,000.  I don't know.

If you won the lottery, what would your preference be?  Surprise one person or help ten of them.  

In today's world $1,000 isn't much but it would be a windfall by any standards.

Now that I am not working, these are some of the things that Stephen and  I talk about.  It turned out to be a lively conversation and one that hasn't yet ended.  

I'm not revealing who the friend is!  What would be the fun in that? All I can say is that she wouldn't expect it at all.  It's precisely why I would want to give it to her.  

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Debt-Free World

When I started working some 30 years ago, there used to be a weekly free talk during the lunch break.  I attended most of them but only remember two: Time Management and Money Management.

The one on Money Management was good because it gave me a mantra to recite whenever I was tempted to splurge.  The picture above shows what I used to say in my head. I didn't always follow it (life has to be lived on the edge, sometimes) but, basically, it has helped me to stay out of financial woes.

On the last day of 2012, Stephen went out to pay all the utility bills.  When he came home, I had a feeling of euphoria because this meant that we would start 2013 completely debt-free!  Stephen does it more out of habit than anything else.  He hates owing money and pays for everything with cash.  The only time he will use his credit card is, if he has to book a flight.  Then, he will settle it as soon as he can via an online transfer.

So we start 2013 owing nothing to anybody!

As you start this year, this is a good one to memorise and to practise.  

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

It's back to the ironing board for me!

Pic from Photobucket

Of all the chores at home, I love ironing the most.  There's something about it that gives me instant gratification.  As the creases disappear,  I get a feeling of making something crumpled into an 'almost' perfect piece of art.  Okay, I'm exaggerating!

Stephen loves to iron as well.  Maybe that's not 100% truth but he is fussy about his work shirts and pants.  He likes to have the lines seen and pressed well.  It's ingrained in him to have crease-free uniforms since his army days.  For this reason, he always wants to do it himself.  

I had to twist his arm to let me iron his work clothes.  He's so particular about them.  After letting me audition and allowing me to take over, he's not complained once. 

This makes me happy.  I know it's nothing to shout about.  But it's these small things in our lives that make it different and unique.  

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A whole new start!

So it's a brand new slate: for you and for me.  Everybody likes a fresh beginning.  It's good to be able to look back with satisfaction at all the things one has completed.  

Two highlights of 2012 for me:

1.  SFGEMS:  I created this new blog when I lost all the images in the old one.  Learnt from that mistake. However, I seem to be doing well with this one.  My stats are not impressive by any standard but in my world, it's still something to be proud of.  Especially since it's less than a year old.  Thankfully, blogspot keeps a record of everything and if I have nothing to do, I can have a look and feel a sense of satisfaction that there are people who visit.

Needless to say, even if there was no visitor to my blog, I'd still write.  It's what I like to do.  Besides, often when I look back at the old entries, I am amazed that I had forgotten about what I wrote.  

2.  PROJECT 366:  I challenged myself to take a photo a day and there were days when I drove Stephen crazy because I wanted to stop and take pictures.  Now when we look back at the 366 photos of 2012, it seems like only yesterday when I started with the first one.  If you are interested, I can send you a link!  We just browsed through them all and feel glad that some memories had been recorded and remembered.

Pic from FB
And so a new chapter for 2013 starts.  I plan to continue with SFGEMS and hope that Stephen will contribute since he is 50% of the blog name. 

I also intend to start Project 52.  I will take a picture or a collage for the next 52 weeks.  It's not so challenging as a picture a day and it will serve as a nice virtual and nostalgic trip at the end of the year.

Once more, I'd like to wish you, my dear visitor, a wonderful year ahead.


to make your memories brighter...

to make your heart at rest...

to make your celebration wonderful
and really blessed.

A New Year for Everybody!

This picture was taken in July when we were at Marina Bay. The lights and fountain seem to depict a bird in flight.  I like that very much.

As we take off on another year, I'm hoping that it will be a better one for all those whom I know and love.

Life doesn't always give us the things we want, but it always teaches us something.  For this, we should be grateful.

As I continue my journey with Stephen in Singapore, I am very thankful that he has taken care of all my needs.  I don't want to ever take this for granted.  In return, he tells me he has forgotten how to wash or iron his clothes.  He doesn't even worry that he can't find anything.  He only has to ask me.  I think he's great and he thinks I'm great.  Now there's a recipe for a happy union.

We begin 2013 with hope in our hearts that our family will grow in love and strength.  Our son's December engagement is a turning point for all of us.  We have something to look forward to in the near future.  This is the cycle of life.

So goodbye 2012, you've been great.  There have been countless  memories to cherish and we feel quite blessed.

Hello 2013, we look forward to another 365 days of love and laughter.