Wednesday, October 6

Quote of the day (QOTD)

“… personal happiness lies in knowing that life is not a check-list of acquisition or achievement. Your qualifications, your CV, are not your life, though you will meet many people of my age and older who confuse the two. Life is difficult, and complicated, and beyond anyone’s total control, and the humility to know that will enable you to survive its vicissitudes.” J.K. Rowling

Thursday, September 23

How to...

start your day right?

One of the easiest ways to start your day right is have a good breakfast. Despite its importance, many still neglect the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast not only aids in weight management, it fuels the body to help provide energy, better concentration and problem-solving ability throughout the day, according to the food and nutrition experts at the American Dietetic Association.

This is what I had for breakfast today. It's easy to prepare and so rich in nutrients. Milk, GoLean Crunch from Kashi, strawberries and blueberries. The latter is a superfood so you can't go wrong with that. I know my body will thank me for treating her right :)

Remember, don't miss your breakfast no matter how busy you are.

Monday, September 6

Quote of the day (QOTD)

“I don't have to be perfect. All I have to do is show up and enjoy the messy, imperfect and beautiful journey of my life. It's a trip more wonderful than I could have imagined.”
— Kerry Washington

Don't we all need this reminder?

Tuesday, August 31

Quote of the day (QOTD)

"Let a joy keep you. Reach out your hands and take it when it runs by."
– Carl Sandburg

This space is neglected because my mum underwent back operation and I am back in SG to help care for her. I will return in 2 weeks time and regular programming will resume.

Monday, August 16

Quote of the day (QOTD)

"Heroes didn't leap tall buildings or stop bullets with an out-stretched hand; they didn't wear boots and capes. They bled, and they bruised, and their superpowers were as simple as listening, or loving. Heroes were ordinary people who knew that even if their own lives were impossibly knotted, they could untangle someone else's..."
~A character in Second Glance.

Jodi Picoult is one of my favourite authors. I love that she explores difficult and relevant issues that face us in a way that is thoughtful and sensitive.

Sunday, August 15

Picture of the Week (POTW)

Picture taken at Avenue of the Giants, Eureka CA. (July 2010)

I totally love the natural lighting. Awesome!

Thursday, August 12

Word of God: Jeremiah 31:3

The other day I was feeling overwhelmed and confused. It is one of those days when I feel extra small, uncertain of my future and doubtful of my abilities. I turned to the meditation of the day from The Word Among Us, more out of habit rather faith that God would speak to me. Somehow God didn't care about my motivation as I was brought to tears. The verse that stared back at me was this:

“With age-old love, I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Couldn't He be louder?

Years ago I attended a very special love retreat and this same verse was chosen to help us meditate on God's steadfast love for us. Amazing things happened that day and I experienced the love of God in a tangible and unforgettable way. I realised that God was indeed speaking to me that day when I was feeling down. He reminded me that He has loved me and will continue to do so. Past participle tense because that action has been completed through His death on the cross. No matter how troubled or lost I feel He loves and cares for me. I need not fear because I am not walking alone.

Wednesday, August 11

Movie: The faulty yellow bus

I love Little Miss Sunshine. It is a show that strikes a deep cord and brings to foreground what is easily forgotten; that every person is unique, important and special.

Two quotes that I wanna remember from the film:

..all those years he suffered, those were the best of his life 'cause they made him who he was. All the years he was happy? Total waste. He didn't learn anything...

...Y'know what a loser is? A real loser is somebody who's so afraid of not winning, they don't even try.

Interestingly, these nuggets of wisdom were dished out by the supposed losers. First was by Uncle Frank - the guy who was sacked from his job, whose gay boyfriend deserted him and eventually he attempted suicide. Even then he failed his attempt. What could be more loserly than that? Yet, he had the wisdom and strength within him and when situation presented itself he rose to the occasion and provided the support and encouragement that his nephew needed.

Second quote was by the grandfather, a drug addict who was kicked out of the home because he was foulmouthed and often behaved inappropriately. Yet he loved his family. Olive, the granddaughter was afraid to be a loser and that was what her grandfather shared with her.

What i love about the show is how everyone came together and how much they loved the family despite their dysfunctions. From the perspective of the society they do fit the loser definition and yet they are winners in so many ways.

I feel that each of us has our own dysfunction. With that we also have our strength and wisdom. No one is perfect and it's so just tiring to chase after perfection. I always believe that no one is too rich to receive and too impoverished to give. And i don't mean it just materially. I've learned so much from patients whom I've worked with. One may ask since their lives are in such a mess, what can they offer me that I don't already know? Well, plenty. For one I'm amazed at how they struggle to pick up their lives, how brave they are in trying to make amends to those whom they have hurt, how they try to lift their heads up again to a society that doesn't quite understand and trust them. That's tough.

I've always been fortunate with my lot. I've received a good education, smart enough, people are okay with me and some are even fond of me. I'm not rich but i don't have to worry about not having enough. I was not the most popular in school but i wasn't the one who got bullied either. I have enough friends whom i know will be there for me. My family is far from perfect but I still have them and their love and support. Sometimes it's hard for me to imagine how it's like to be the marginalised and the outcast. From my patients' experiences i learned how blessed I am to not have to go through those feelings.

I love movies, books and plays that make me think; that provide me with snapshots of what i don't experience in my own life. Stories that are not perfect yet reflective of life. Stories that provide hope for the losers, the odd one out, the too late too little. Little Miss Sunshine certainly does all that for me.

Go watch it if you need a great dose of laughter and tears.

Monday, August 9

Picture of the Week (POTW)

Picture taken at Hakone Gardens, Saratoga CA. (Aug 2010)

Quote of the day (QOTD)

If my aim is to prove I am "enough", the project goes on to infinity - because the battle was already lost on the day I conceded the issue was debatable. ~ Nathanael Branden

Wednesday, August 4

The Remains of the Day

Don't keep looking back all the time, you're bound to get depressed....We've all got to put our feet up at some point. Look at me. I've been happy as a lark since the day I retired. All right, so neither of us are exactly in our first flush of youth, but you've got to keep looking forward....You've got to enjoy yourself. The evening's the best part of the day. You've done your day's work. Now you can put your feet up and enjoy it....

This para struck me quite a bit. Personally I'd consider the early morning as the best part of the day. Main reason is the fact that I have the chance to restart the day. A new day is a fresh start, an opportunity to experience and discover new things as well as to make amends for mistakes of the past. Anyway, I find the above para making a lot of sense; about why the evening's the best part of the day. After a hard day of work, the evening is the time to chill and appreciate what has happened. A time to sit back, relax and be grateful. To truly enjoy the evening of one's day or life, I assume one must live in the present and live life to the full. I'd imagine that the evening can be depressing if one feels that one hasn't achieved much or there are still unfinished tasks. This is a great reminder for myself that with each passing day, I'm getting closer to the evening of my day. I must cherish the present, look forward to the future and stop spending too much time looking back.

Another lovely para:
After all, there's no turning back the clock now. One can't be forever dwelling on what might have been. One should realized one has as good as most, perhaps better, and be grateful.


Monday, August 2

Quote of the day (QOTD)

“The knowledge that you have emerged wiser and stronger from setbacks means that you are secure in your ability to survive. You will never truly know yourself, or the strength of your relationships, until both have been tested by adversity”.
 ~ J.K. Rowling.

Friday, July 30

Word of God: God is my light

...that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
1 John 1:5

Light provides life, luminance, clearer vision and direction.
Light directs and leads.
God is light.
God is the one who provides direction in my life and give me the luminance so that I can have better vision.
God is the light which enables me to see the beauty in His creation and the goodness in people. God is the light that shows me my flaws and weaknesses and drive all my fear away.
In God, there is no darkness.
Darkness implies uncertainty; one has to grope and feel around in order to walk or move forward. Darkness could also mean blindness to God's beautiful creation.
But in God there is no darkness at all.
I can see clearly the beauty that God has placed in me and others.
The light of God is my hope and my strength.

Thanks be to God.

Thursday, July 29

Cooking Therapy

As a young child I used to watch and eventually assist my mom when she cooked. She would let me do the stirring/frying of the vegetables and I guess that's where my skill in frying vegetables perfectly comes from. I started cooking more seriously when I fell ill in 2004 and since then I have not stopped. In fact my love for cooking deepens ever since we relocated to the States because cooking becomes a daily affair. When the "experiment" is successful I feel a great sense of achievement and joy. When others (especially the husband) enjoy my food my heart does a little skip and dance. Here my creativity surfaces and takes a life of its own. It's fun and therapeutic! I also love reading cook books and translate them into delicious dishes. Most importantly, my husband and I eat more healthily because we know exactly what goes into the making of our meals. It's been a great journey.

I know that not everyone enjoys cooking. Some might even be intimidated by it. Others may not have the time. Hence I decided to share some of the recipes that I have tried and I promise you this - there are not only simple to make but healthy and delicious too. There is a saying in Mandarin that says,"Health is wealth." I could not have agreed more. The first step that anyone can take towards improving one's health is by eating better. Take that first little step today.

To kick this off, let me introduce you to the World’s Best Braised Cabbage. I was most amused when I saw the title and was keen to give it a shot. It's really easy to prepare. What you need is time because it takes about 2 hours ++ to cook. It is an excellent dish - the sweetness of the cabbage, onions and carrot is enhanced through slow cooking. A perfect example where yummy food is also healthy. Try it and let me know if you like it :)

I paired the braised cabbage with pork loin and croquette. It was a lovely meal.

Picture of the Week (POTW)

Picture taken at Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park, CA (May 10)

Tuesday, July 27

Quote of the day (QOTD)

Time spent attempting to change others affords little time for personal change. --Georgette Vickstrom

One of the challenges I struggled a lot in my early years of marriage is that of changing my husband.  Not only do I expect myself to grow and change, I wanted him to do the same. Yes, I fell into the trap magnificently. Needless to say it was a losing and painful battle. I learn it the hard way that I need to let him (and others) be who they are, regardless of who I want them to be. Acceptance of the others is the best gift we can offer to those we love.

Thursday, July 22

Word of God: Keeping in touch with God

Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you. For everyone who asks will receive, and he who seeks will find and the door will be open to anyone who knocks.
Luke 11:9-10
How much more enduring are our security, peace and joy when we walk daily with God in prayer. How much more tender and loving is the touch of God when we turn away from the busyness of daily life to experience the presence of God in quiet prayer!

To want to prayer is an expression of our yearning for God. Prayer is a profound experience of the abiding presence of God in our lives. It deepens our awareness and appreciation of God's love, mercy and goodness and in increasing our enthusiasm for him.

To pray is to let go of ourselves and let God come and take over our lives. It is saying that we are entirely dependent on God and are willing to submit our will to His. To pray calls for faith and trust in God's love, wisdom, abundance and providence. St Therese of Lisieux described prayer as letting God be Father and friend to us.

God the Father loves us very much and if we are open, sincere, trusting and persevering in our prayer, He will draw us even closer to himself.

In life's situations, there are times when we are pushed to the brink, with our back against the wall..right up to our neck. Bless and thank God for all these occasions for it is only in these dark, crushing moments that we really crack open and recognise that God is there with us all the time.
Crises bruise and crush and in crushing our self-centeredness, they often refine and purify. And prayer does the teaching, the listening, the learning in God. Constant prayer means keeping in contact with God, and as God is the source of all life, we live and grow in Him.

Never too old

I found out recently that 2 of the choir members in my group will be celebrating their 95th birthday in the coming weeks. Wow! Even though they are clearly senior citizen they certainly did not look 95 to me. I am inspired that at this age, they are still active and contributing to the community in their own way. I learn that one of them is hard of hearing while the other uses a magnifying glass to read. The fact that they are undeterred is inspiring. It goes to show that you're never too old and as long as you embrace the right attitude, life can be that much more meaningful and fulfilling. Even at an older age.

Wednesday, July 21

Picture of the Week (POTW)

Picture taken at Half Moon Bay, CA (May 10)

I always have a thing for birds that are flying so freely in the sky. Somehow when I look at them, I feel happy and free.

"That little bird has chosen his shelter. Above it are the stars and the deep heaven of worlds. Yet he is rocking himself to sleep without caring for tomorrow's lodging, calmly clinging to his little twig, and leaving God to think for him." - Martin Luther

P.S. I'm not sure who is still reading since it's been a while since I updated it. It is my desire to do a better job and if you're reading this thank you for not giving up on me :)

Sunday, March 21

Quote of the day (QOTD)

"Could we change our attitude, we should not only see life differently, but life itself would come to be different."
– Katherine Mansfield

Saturday, March 13

Quote of the day (QOTD)

"To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult."
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Friday, March 12

Wednesday, March 10

Tuesday, March 9

Becoming aware

One of my favourite pastimes is to walk. Near our apartment there is a large waterfront and that really make my walk a lot more interesting. I usually have the company of the birds and ducks and looking at the animals and flowers relax me. I have been down with a slight cold and thus been cooped up at home. Today the weather was too beautiful to pass up so I laced my trusty shoes and went out. The warmth of the sun ray felt so wonderful. There was soft breeze and I could hear the sound of the vehicles in the distance.

As I walked, I sharpened my senses and became acutely aware of my body movement as well as my breath. I am grateful that all my senses are intact, that I am able to walk and see all that nature has to offer. I stopped to look at the flowers that were in bloom. There are so pretty!

I took a quick break and decided to stretch out in order absorb the sun. I closed my eyes and imagine the ray strengthening my body. Like the plant, I drew energy from the sun. As I took deep breaths I felt immensely grateful to be alive.

Try this exercise when you're feeling tired and depleted.

Stand in the sun and stretch out your hands. Tilt your head up and absorb the energy from the sun. Take deep and slow breaths. Slow down. Look at the scenery like it is the first time you're seeing it. Be grateful that you are alive.

Wednesday, March 3

Lessons from Cirque Du Soleil

I am a huge fan of Cirque Du Soleil. My very first experience with Cirque was via Quidam back in 2005. I was totally blown away and mesmerized by the mind-blowing performances. Since then my husband and I make it a point to watch Cirque's production whenever the opportunity presents itself. Our all-time favourite is KA :)

We went for our most recent adventure with Cirque via Ovo and once again I was reminded of why I love their performances so much. Other than the jaw-dropping acrobatics and outrageously beautiful costumes and sets, I draw great lessons and inspiration from the show. It is incredible how the performers use their bodies to sculpts stories, to carve ideas out of thin air in order to evoke the audience's emotions. Simply astounding.

When I shared my thoughts with my husband, he told me about Cirque du Soleil: The Spark - Igniting the Creative Fire that Lives within Us All. The next day, I was thrilled to find the book on the shelf waiting for me to devour it. Devoured it I did, most definitely. It was written in a form of a story to demonstrate the work ethics and passion of all those who are involved in the production of Cirque's performances. Engaging and inspiring, I managed to pick up important life lessons from the book.

  • Passion is the key to everything we do.
  • Learn to take the right risks that will allow you to fulfill your vision.
  • Our fears hold us back, make us fall short of our goals. Only by taking risks can we hope to accomplish the extraordinary.
  • You are never trapped in life. When you realize that, you find you're free to accomplish incredible things.
  • You have to be confident enough to let your imagination spin off in all kinds of directions. And if you really want to make things happen, you have to be willing to crash.
  • Risk-taking is inevitable in life – not just the big risks but the small chances you take every day that give your life a sense of excitement, of possibility.
  • It is never my failures that I regret, it's the things I pass up because I am too scared, too safe.
  • If you want to live fully, you have to trust.

After reading the book, I am even more in awe and inspired by the incredible work that they do in igniting that "spark" that we all need in our lives.
"This is what Cirque is about. We transform the dull and ordinary into something special and memorable, something that touches people's lives. All of us have that power no matter what we do."

Great stuff! I highly recommend the book especially if you are a fan of Cirque.

Monday, March 1

Introducing Fitbit

After been through challenging health crises in the last few years, I fully appreciate the importance of good health. Keeping fit and healthy requires commitment and discipline. Like many it is way to easy for me to slide and slacken. The intention remains just that - an intention. Thus, whatever help that one can receive makes a great difference.

Thankfully I have a tech savvy guy for a husband and whenever possible he will try to convert his wife into one. I was gifted Fitbit at the start of new year. This small and wearable gadget is big in its uses. Firstly it serves as a pedometer to track the number of steps you take each day. In addition, it tracks the amount of calories that you burn and if you're diligent enough to input the foods that you consume it can track that too. In addition, it tracks your sleep quality. For that to happen, you must remember to hold the button till it says "start" and "stop" it when you wake. I tend to forget to do this most of the time!

Here it is!

I've been using it for 2 months and it has been useful. It makes me feel motivated when I see the chart going up in terms of activity and of course when the weight goes down I'm even more delighted. All you have to do it to wear it (it's very light) all the time and you're good to go. What is wonderful about it is that you can sync the data unto your computer. If you are anal about keeping records, this is simply perfect! What is not so perfect is that because it is so tiny it tends to come off easily and unfortunately I have dropped it once too often :( Otherwise, it is a good investment.

More reviews here and here.

Quote of the day (QOTD)

"Life is not the way it's supposed to be. It's the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference."
– Virginia Satir

Wednesday, January 20

Thursday, January 14

10 Lessons to transform your marriage

Marriage is a lot of hard work. In all the fairy tales, the ending is always so sweet and happy. One can't help but wish that her own marriage is like a fairy tale too. Alas that is not the case for many. Thankfully there are plenty of books written for this important topic. Recently I was fortunate enough to attend a conference where John and Julie Gottman from the Gottman Institute were speaking. Impressed with their workshops, I decided to get the book.

The book was well-written and easy to read. The 10 lessons come in 10 case studies where details of the couples and their communication patterns were documented and subsequently corrected by the expert. Hence, for every couple 2 dialogues are presented; one that took place before they were counseled and one that happened after they have heard the advice. Plenty of suggestions and explanations were given as to why certain behaviours and/or communication pattern could be harmful to the relationship.

A host of problems common to marriage were addressed. These are:
1. the stress of caring for a new baby
2. exhaustion from working too hard
3. loss of interest in sex and romance
4. health problems
5. recovering from extramarital affair
6. struggles with depression
7. arguments over housework and finances
8. changes that come with retirement
9. the loss of a job, identity, or a lifelong dream.

What I like about the book is that it is pragmatic and at the end of each chapter there are exercises that one can do to enhance the learning experience. These exercises provide the starting point for couples to dialogue and discover more about each other.

Tuesday, January 12

Picture of the Week (POTW)

Picture taken at Magic Kingdom Disney World, Orlando. (Nov 09)

Sunday, January 3

Happy New Year

Wow, looks like this space has been neglected once again. The new year is here and I like to take this opportunity to wish you, dear readers a very blessed and happy new year. I always feel hopeful during this period of time because I feel like I have been given the chance to start over.

2009 is behind us and I feel excited about the year ahead. One of my resolutions is to keep this blog alive with more frequent updates. I find joy in sharing my experiences and knowledge through writing. I am thankful for your readership and your feedback is always appreciated.

Something meaningful that I found on the net.

I enter the new year with the understanding that I am making a fresh start. I begin by discarding thoughts, attitudes, and habits that are not compatible with an excellent life. I let go of whatever caused past discouragement, disappointment, or disagreement. I know that seemingly negative outcomes are desires or goals that are yet to be fulfilled. I am open and receptive to new ideas, activities and relationships.

Each day, I can follow a fresh plan of fulfillment. I act on divine ideas that I receive in moments of prayer and inspiration. These ideas flow through wholesome, positive thoughts. As I use creative thinking to build upon divine ideas, my activities become more dynamic and my abilities are enhanced. Therefore, I enter this new year with optimism, joy and enthusiasm.