End-of-year Personal Reflection

Wow! There have been so many wonderful events happening in the past weeks, that I have not had the time (and sometimes, energy) to update this blog and do the many things that I want to do!

Some of these events have been really impactful, and I would like to share them here in this blog space.

Hanzhong (my boyfriend) and I went to a half day personal retreat at Kallang CC yesterday to reflect on how we did over the year, and what we do like to focus in the coming year. Teck Kwang (HZ’s friend) had kindly organised the event for free, and had opened the invitation to anyone who was ready to do some quiet end-of-year reflection.

After a round of introductions, we were asked to remove the table-cloths, and unreveal the treasures underneath – rice. We were encouraged to feel the individual rice grains, and play with them. This was our rice mandala, we were told. Each rice had gone a very tedious process to be what it is today, and each grain represents a moment of our lives. Play with the rice, we were told. Meld them into images that are meaningful for you, that represent your current state, and where you want to be in the future. The rice mandalas reminded me of the infinite possibilities of what we can do, and how nothing is permanent – what looks perfect in the mandala will soon disappear in the next instant.

Rice mandala

Later, we were given large pieces of paper and coloured pens. Go – draw your timeline for the year, we were told. As I sat in a corner and started drawing, it became very obvious to me that there has been many impactful moments throughout the year. As the major events were laid out on the paper, the adhoc occasion that nevertheless mattered so much to me, came to my mind like sparkling jewels waiting to be discovered, felt and treasured.

The moments below may sound really small to you, but they are really BIG in my opinion. And I am proud of them! :)

  • Coming to terms with who I am – the good, the bad, everything – and accepting myself unconditionally for who I am today.
  • Being present to each moment. Feeling, seeing, hearing, touching. See things with a new perspective.
  • Learning not to judge myself or others. For none of us want or deserve to be judged.
  • Learning to love again. In all aspects of the word :)
  • Being able to mentally step back, and take control of situations with clarity and quiet confidence.
  • Being able to have all my cousins gathered together for lunch. It sounds really ordinary (it’s just lunch), but because we never ever do anything like that (and at most, usually have polite catch ups at house visits during the Chinese New Year), you have no idea what this means to me! And it led on to more things… we now have our very own cousins Whatsapp channel. :)

Cousins' lunch

  • Going on a reverse bungee with 2 friends. Survived. Hey, it wasn’t so bad! Then, went on the swing. Oh my god…
  • Busking at Clarke Quay. I’m no musician, but I love to share my filipino bandurria with others. Played for some couples and an enthusiastic group.
  • Conducted walks at a historically important place, Bukit Brown, for friends and members of the public. I love telling stories and sharing “hidden” places like Bukit Brown, but speaking to a crowd really scares me. So, I’m really glad I did it!
  • Learning about the heritage of local pioneers buried at Bukit Brown with fellow Brownies. It gave me a sense of rootedness to the place, and inspired me to want to learn more about my roots. Where did my great-grandparents come from, and how did they lived?
  • Making Google maps of Bukit Brown with fellow Brownies. Received data from individuals I hardly know & lots of goodwill.
  • Making a San-Zar cake with my mum. Or rather, 4-5 cakes! Such a joy as I seldom get to share the kitchen with my mum, and I was very glad when she agreed to bake the cake that I loved as a child! Our first try was quite a failure as the cake could hardly stand… our second and third tries were good but couldn’t come out from the baking tray, such is our inexperience with baking! But it was so much fun, I want to do it all over again :)

san zar cake

  • Roller blading! Laugh if you want to, but it’s one of the many things I had not tried before! Roller bladed 3 times with various friends, so thankful for them! Most of them were blading for the first time or have not done so for years, so we encouraged and laughed with one another. Fell so many times, and made myself a sight of amusement for the park visitors walking by – but it was SO much fun!
  • Travelling to the U.S. for a huge GIS (work-related) conference. I know, it’s just conference(!), and U.S. is just a flight away. It was a huge adventure for me. I had practically no management support, but lots of goodwill from kind colleagues (some of whom I have never met!). The conference was at San Diego, but if you ask me – I don’t quite know what San Diego has to offer, such busy time I had spending time with new friends I met on flights, at the conference, and just walking down the road! I thoroughly enjoyed being able to start conversations on a flight and keep my fellow passengers happily talking throughout (and reluctantly say our goodbyes when the plane lands!) In the midst of 15,000+ people, I met with a kind soul, Gabriel, who agreed to be my mentor. I’m so, so glad :)
  • Organising & hosting a 2-day knowledge sharing event for my GIS-responsible colleagues, from various office around the globe. It was a dream I shared with some colleagues for 2+ years, and having to make it real really scared me! Not least because, I wanted to make it an unconference event, and didn’t have the event planning skills to do so! It was also an event where I had very little official support, but the kind support of individual colleagues (and useful advice from my mentor and a GIS unconference organiser) kept me going. I was so excited when various colleagues told me that they changed their flight plans just to contribute to the conference! Two colleagues even participated from Denmark via a video conference.

knowledge sharing for gis-responsible colleagues across the group

I can go on and on – but back to the event. :)

We were told to graph our effort / energy with wellbeing. It was clear to me that the more energy / effort put in, the better the well-being after the event! It is a reminder that as much as I’m enjoying the outcome of this year’s events – I cannot rest on my laurels. Because to grow as a person, I need to constantly push outside my comfort zone, and be challenged to do more than what I think is my “best”. I do not need validation from others in this, because what I gain from overcoming my own limits is worth so much more than words of praise from other people.

After all that, we ‘played’ with rice again! This time, we were given strips of paper, rectangular vase, and mounds of rice. Write a note to encourage your future self, we were told. We buried our written strips in the vase with rice. It was our rice time-capsule to take home! What a lovely take-home gift!

Rice time-capsules

The event closed with group sharing of the reflection process and what we felt about the event.

A wonderful event indeed. I would love to go again, and invite more friends to the event.


One thought on “End-of-year Personal Reflection

  1. Hi Cui Fen,
    Glad to meet up with you,
    and also reconnect with Hanzhong at the event. :-)
    Thanks for sharing, and enjoyed the talk with you.
    Lets keep in touch and wishing you an even better year ahead in 2013!


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