Reflection & insights

The visual image I see in my head was a car. I was driving. Pass a series of junctions, into a long dark tunnel, and coming to a stop eventually. But what I actually went through is something far more mundane. And nothing to do with driving. I was working late, rushing out some map because I will be on leave the next day, and missed the chance of being present at an event I that wanted to go to. And as much as I want to say that stopping the car felt awesome (because that was what I focused on), it wasn’t. I emerged energy depleted, in need of rest, no longer capable of meeting the needs of my own, let alone others.

The week had started out quite differently. I had a few friends asking me if I was available to assist in some events, all focused in the areas of personal growth.

I promised a lady friend that I would support her in an event on Saturday afternoon. There was some mis-communication along the way, but I realised eventually that there would be a pre-event alignment meeting for the team on Thursday evening. The timing clashed with the other event I wanted to go support. I had volunteered to support in curating their future events, and really wanted to be there. I can’t really explain why but volunteering for this other event felt like a personal bucket list kind of thing. So, rather reluctantly, I said I couldn’t make it for the team meeting (and hence, couldn’t support the friend in her Saturday event also).

So, I had every intention to go for this other event. It starts 7pm and ends 10pm, or so I had registered it in my calendar.

There-in lies the first fault line – my thinking that since the event is 3hrs long, I can miss the first bit and still manage to attend a large portion of the event. My rationale was I was rushing to complete work and I could finish in the next 10-30 mins anyway. The rush was because the work needed to be done by Friday, and I took my Fridays off. I planned nothing concrete really for Friday but I was determined not to work on my off day (a side-effect of having worked without rest days for 3 weeks that did have a couple of public holidays in between).

There were bus shuttles from the office building till 7pm. I missed all of them. I saw my team mates leaving, but didn’t follow them.

A friend who was attending the event messaged me. She wanted to save me a seat. Within a few minutes, the seat was taken for she didn’t know when I would arrive.

By 8.30pm or earlier. I replied eventually. I was almost done! I knew I could make it.

9pm. Emails sent. Shutting down computers… The work was complete for the day even though it was not perfect. If I tried to perfect the results, it will be midnight before I left the office!

Then came a message from my friend. The event was over, and the crowd needed to clear out by 9.30pm.


I felt really deflated when I realised I missed the event I really wanted to go to. I was exhausted already from working and staring at the screen all day, but emotionally I was sinking too…

I saw how my choices, or rather the lack of making a self-empowering one, led to how things ended up. On the surface, I was delivering results on time, so that my colleagues can follow up on it when I am away. At a deeper level, I was neglecting accountability to myself. The things I feel are important fall alongside when work comes along – even though in the last couple of years, work is no longer the number 1 priority in my life. Or has it returned to what it was before? The state before I embarked on my personal growth journey?

The tunnel vision of simply seeing only 1 route ahead (completing work and then going to the event) meant that I didn’t stop to think clearly, and couldn’t see how else I could have delivered results at work, and still be able to attend 1 or both events that I felt are important to me.

I saw, only after all this, that I could have folded all 3 together.

  • take the 5.15pm bus shuttle
  • attend 1st event till 8.20pm latest
  • attend 2nd event till 10.20pm latest (this require some pre-planning, but can be done if I had a strong intention, and was really internally motivated with a strong belief that I could and want to do so)
  • wake up early on Friday
  • work for a couple of hours or even less
  • enjoy the rest of Friday!

I feel that I keep facing this dilemma on how to meet the demands of work, personal space and growth on a regular basis nowadays.

The experiences we have in life keep repeating itself in patterns – until we learn the lesson they bring, integrate it in who we are and what we do, and move on.

So, apparently I had not learnt the lesson well. Rather than to live in fear that the lesson will swing by again unannounced, here are some little reminders for myself and anyone interested:

– quiet space for clarity in thinking, and being open to possibilities (apart from what I already see as “truth”)
– pen down the list of things that are important to me
– how it is important to me that I focus time and energy on them?
– what are the potential conflicts that can come up in trying to focus on them at the same time?
– how can I create an environment that is conducive for meeting the needs of the top 3 items on my list?


the hug

While on the way home…

Noticed 2 individuals along the walkway. One a blind singer, the other a tissue seller with really thin legs. Gave some coins to the singer, and went over to pass a dollar to the tissue seller.

The tissue seller looked happy but indicated that the tissue packet was worth 2 dollars.

And I thought 1 dollar was quite a pricey sum already.

So I asked, “Can I give you the dollar? I don’t want the tissue.”

The tissue seller shook his head. He indicated for me to take the tissue, and took the dollar. He then opened his arms as if asking for a hug, and said, “bao bao”.

I wasn’t sure what to do next, but I trusted my instincts that he meant well. So I went just that bit closer, and he leaned over to give me a hug. It was really a strong one near the neck, and I couldn’t help panicking for a bit.

Within a few moments, the hug was done. I was free to leave with the tissue packet. As I type this down, I wonder what it meant, and hope all the best for him.

Apples and ideas

“If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange these apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas.” – George Bernard Shaw

Unconditional self esteem

“Researchers have shown that high esteem… is beneficial, but that even more desirable is unconditional self esteem: a solid core of belief in yourself, an abiding sense that you are competent & worthwhile – even when you fail or fall short.” – Alfie Kohn

the 4 mins speech

There was this ball. It was blue, red and a little soft. You know, the bean bag kind. The ball was thrown across the table to another student. He stood up, walked to the front of the room, said his 3 to 5 mins speech without any audio or visual aids. The speech was video-ed and he got immediate feedback from the class.

I sat uncomfortably in my seat, not wishing to speak. The ball looped over. It was my turn!

I walked to the front, plagued with self doubt. Not too sure if I knew what to say. The topic which I chose was something I feel keenly for, but do I know enough to captivate the audience for 5 mins? Without any aids?

As I took my position & felt the presence of a “stage”, the fear slipped away. A certain courage & strength took over. A voice rang clear and powerful – was it mine? For 4 mins, I shared stories that until now I felt no one understood. The room listened with apt attention, at times responding with laughter and nods.

As I returned to my seat after the speech, my heart danced. :)  There was this joy as I realised… I did my act of courage! I stood for something I believed in, and I stood up for myself. I am truly very thankful for the opportunity.


Appreciating  :)

appreciating nature, the comforting feeling of walking down a path next to a forest, hearing the calls, and watching a frog hop by. 

appreciating the neighbours who came together for a mini celebration yesterday, because we all believe in the value of a community garden even if we haven’t figured a clear path to walk forward together yet.

appreciating my team mates at work, for they are stars in their own right, allowing me to focus on things I need to work on

appreciating my friends who are there for me, listening to me whine at times about how hard things can be, not judging & encouraging me to keep going for what I believe in

appreciating my family who support me in their quiet way, actions speaking more than words

appreciating my cousins for continually posting on our Whatsapp channel. reminding me it’s time to re-connect, I have simply been too busy!

appreciating my partner, who supports, encourages, coaches me, does not judge & is there for me when I need him.

appreciate myself for despite feeling low & rather dejected in the last few weeks, for picking myself up again & being able to appreciate things as they are.

appreciate the frog that inspired this post! :) 

I’ve learnt that…

“I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life. I‘ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life”. I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one. I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn. I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou