Friday, November 5, 2010

Stepping out into Stillness

It's a public holiday here today but I was at work this morning.  Trying to clear as much work in order that I may have a less harrowing BLUE MONDAY.  I missed lunch and left the office at 2pm. My tummy was calling out "Feed Me, Feed ME!"

But it was so eerie as I left the building. The usual busy street in front was empty and silent.  Not a soul ... not a car was stirring.  Perhaps it was a holiday thus not much traffic, but it was the significant quietness, a full 30sec of silence. It felt like nothing stirred not even the air. It looked picturesque.  Then I heard the roar of an engine and I was pacified. Phew! it was not a dream.

I called Sage to tell him to remember to bring his jacket and phone when he leaves for his movie with his pal.  My mum answered and informed me that he had already left.  I was surprised, as it was only 2pm. He told me earlier they would pick him up at 2.30pm.  My mum exclaimed that it was "2.30pm".  I looked at my watch, it showed 2pm... I looked at my mobile and it read 14.28.

Wow I guess my watch stopped ... time did stand still. I was not imagining it. :)

What was the significance of this whole event.  

Let's wind the clock back to an hour before I left the office.  I was sharing with my colleague a conversation I had with my dad.  It started with something trivial ... happenings in Sage's school.  Then my dad blurted "Life has no meaning!" My dad worries about almost everything, prepares for everything... has no social life and tells us not to trust anyone.  He goes to church every Sunday yet life has no meaning.  I was frustrated. Such a statement from a man in his 70's.  How do I teach my son to find meaning in life when his own grandpa is unable to. 

I mentioned to my colleague that perhaps my dad should try meditation. At that point, I was not sure why I said that... how would meditation help my dad find meaning?.  Frankly I did not connect any of the dots.  But I believed that meditation allows one to open a spiritual channel to GOD, and his words would be crystal clear.

And now this... the silence, time standing still.  Is God telling me that we should find him in the stillness? ... That we will be able to find meaning which had evaded my dad? 

How do you see meaning in your own life?  

I want to live well ( at least for the next 10 or 20years if I am lucky) and die well too.   I want to leave this world with no regrets.  I want to be blissfully happy.  

Still searching...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

It's a no-win situation!

My Grandma passed away mid of this year... she was 97, solid as a rock.  God took her away quickly, her pain was short lived.

Her daughter-in-law on the other hand had been plagued with illness for such a long time.  Every ailment you could think of, she has it.  She could not even walk without help ... and lately she needed 2 helpers to lift her almost lifeless body around. Carrying her weight was exhausting for my cousin and her maid.

My aunt worries about my cousin who is single... who is going to look after her (what an irony) , who is going to be there for her.  My cousin it seems had no luck with men and through her adult life, she somehow took on the burden alone to care for her then ailing dad, grandma and now mum.  She had no social life. she found a job that allows her to stay home most of the time to be with the elderly.  She could not even go to the supermarket without them wondering what time she will get home.

What struck me and made my heart hurt was when my cousin said ... "when my mum dies, my mission in life would be over".  She cared for the 3 elderly and one by one they left her.  All 3 loved her an awful lot.  I felt so sorry for her when she uttered those words. She had siblings, but  I just realized how alone she was!

I have a brother, but his thoughtlessness made me see red.  He had never bothered to visit my parents, nor check up on them.  I thought I was alone!  There are so many others out there, who are burdened, elderly whose children does not care a hoot if they lived or died.... like my mum said, " Don't cry at my funeral".  

Now back to my aunt. She was tested 2 days ago on a blockage in her colon.  Now they have been told she might have to remove her colon and uterus.  How long can that weak body sustain such abuse?  Leave the problem and she might suffer from internal bleeding ... take it out it will only weaken her body substantially.

Fear of death consumes her ... her fear of leaving her beloved daughter cuts like a knife into her sad heart.  

What do we say to her that could appease her?  Where is God for her? 

"What is the unity of the mystic? That he be as a lifeless body
in front of God ... in a state of annihilation from his self and
from people's expectations ..., devoid of sense-perception and 
bodily movement, so that Truth may fulfil what It had willed 
for him, namely: that his end will return to his beginning, and 
that he be as he was before he was... Unity means to come out
of the confinement of temporality into the spaciousness and the
expanses of timelessness."                                            

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cry Baby Cry!!!

The movie staring Kevin Bacon "Taking Chance" has such an unassuming title. And here I thought it was a movie about  taking chances in life.  I was so wrong.  Adapted from a true story, it relates the events after the death of Chance Russell Phelps.  He died in the Iraq war and he was only 20.

It showed how his body was being transported home and treated with great respect on his journey home ...  frpm the persons at the morgue to the undertakers, the  service staff at the airports, to the man who delivered his body home to his parents. 

Along the way people reacted with sadness and prayers for someone they did not know. 

I cried for the boy who lost his young life ... I cried watching the love and warmth being shared ... I cried when the family had to endure the loss. Sage was sitting next to me and he had never seen me cry this much... he passed me the box of tissues.  He was curious what other movies could make me cry this much.  I just could not remember, but I do remember crying alot.

That night he asked why am I so sensivtive, but I replied that he too was sensitive.  But her corrected me, he said  he was sensitive to what people said about him, whilst I was sensitive to feelings of others.  Oh so that was it.. really I never gave it much thought.  

I do not cry at funerals, but I would break down when I see loved ones and friends hooked up to machines or in great pain.  I would cry when I see others crying.  But not when they are laid to rest ... its a celebration of their life eternal, but when all that is passed, I would miss them dearly and I would cry some more.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Was the sacrifice worth it?

Can you tell what was hanging from that tree?  Sorry I did not get a better shot ... the winds were too strong, I  simply could not take aim.  Well it seems to be one side of a lost flip flop tied to a string.

I knew exactly why it was hanging over the branches. I had the lucky experience of  some stranger rescuing my kite from the tree.  They would tie something heavy to one end and toss it into the branches, knocking off the kite.  At times they would use fishing weights ... but I guess an inexpensive flip flop would do the trick too!

Had it been a flip flop you needed to wear to get home, wouldn't it be a grave sacrifice.  Or if it had been one of those expensive brands ... wouldn't it be a waste of money. The chances of what you are tossing up into those branches, there is a likelyhood that it might not come back down.   Once again ... was the sacrifice worth it?

That led me to thinking if the sacrifices we made for our families ... was it worth it.   I wonder if I had sacrificed enough ... had I perservered would my life take a different route?  Would I still want to be married?

Well that's me, a complicated situation, which sometimes I wish I could have lost my memory of the unhappy times, yet within them, it was a period of growth, strength and gratefulness that there were loving family and friends surrounding me... including my dog. 

Yet pondering frequently now and then ... and wishing if I had more control of my life then and had been more assertive by setting my boundaries, there was a chance I need not have wasted 20 years of my marriage?


Ok but this post is not about me.  It has to do with a remarkable woman, who had sacrificed much of her herself, for the man she loved and believed in.

That's a picture of Mr Lee Kuan Yew (Minister Mentor of Singapore) and his 'rock' Mdm Kwa Geok Choo when they were in Cambridge. (his wife died just a few weeks ago and age 89)

The stories surrounding her death, filled the pages of the dailies, mainly about her loyalty and faithfulness to her husband of 63 years. They replayed how much she had sacrificed her career in Law to be home taking care of her 3 children.  To be there with a listening ear to the problems her husband is facing running the country. 

It does seem like any other marriage ... the kind of sacrifices a wife would make to allow her husband to build his career.  She continued to do so for 63 years, even the 2 years she laid in bed unable to move or talk.  She listened as her husband returns home each night to read her favorite poems, books and tell her of his day.

Was this sacrifice worth it?  She gave so much of herself and the praises from people who knew her, and eulogies from family all spoke of her love and tireless devotion.  There was so much about her, but I felt they had forgotten one important detail.  The man who loved, cherished and respected her ... made her who she was. 

If without the kind devotion from a man who respected what she had to say, who depended on her and yet was not ashamed to say so.  This gave her strength to carry on... yes she was indeed a woman of great intelligence and fortitude, and with the 'greatest love of all' the man whom she too respected ... she shone! 

When a man loves a woman that much and shows it ... there is nothing a woman will not do.

Mr Lee had even written a letter of advise to his son on his wedding day and it read  "...we have never allowed the other to feel abandoned and alone in any moment of crisis. Quite the contrary, we have faced all major crises in our lives together, sharing our fears and hopes, and our subsequent grief and exultation.  These moments of crisis have bonded us together. With the years, the number of special ties which we two have shared have increased.  Some of them we share with the children."

So in this case, her sacrifice was indeed worth it. They were as loving as ever, and it made many wish they could have had a love like this ... perhaps it woud have been worth our time on earth.

Some humble quotes :
Mr Lee Kuan Yew, on how he was a "kept man" during Parliament in 1985:"Over the years, I've been a kept man. My wife keeps the family."

Mr Lee on her character:
"She's a very caring person, very staid, very caring; she's not frivolous and does not like to socialise, which saves a lot of time".

When asked if she (Mrs Lee) ever had disagreements with Mr Lee in email interviews, she replied:
" Would you believe me if I say we never disagree or quarrel? Fortunately, these are over little matters. Kuan Yew leaves household decisions to me. Family matters have not been a problem."

When asked by an interviewer about the changes in her relationship with Mr Lee over the years in an interview with Radio Telveision Hong Kong in 2002:
Mrs Lee: "The only change is that we've grown older."
Interviewer: "Black hair to white hair."
Mrs Lee: "Black hair to no hair."

Then United States President Richard Nixon's compliment to her devotion and loyalty to her husband in 1973:
President Nixon: "Mrs Lee, tell me, is it true that you were No. 1 in the class at Cambridge Law School and your husband was No. 2?
Mrs Lee: "Mr President, do you think he would have married me if that were the case?"  (I believe she was indeed No.1)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Nature vs Nurture

"As Confucius said, if you think in terms of a year, plant a seed, if you think in terms of 10 years, plant trees, If you think in terms of 100 years, educate the people"

Running a country is not an easy task, nor being a parent. You need the basic attitude, humour, aptitude, tolerance and foresight. A nation made up of interesting characters, hard to control ones too. Leaving a nation to nature, it would probably be able to survive on basic instincts. You catch a fish, plant a seed you would be able to feed yourself and live.

But for a nation to grow as a people, you need to nurture. There are nations which have taught their people to be clean, polite, socially responsible. It is hard to change old habits. But change it must.

Simple habits like washing your hands often, cover your mouth when you sneeze. Opening a door for others, standing in queues if required sound so innate yet it needed to be taught. Creating a religious tolerant society needs nurturing too , it does not happen overnight. What it amounts to is education. For change to come, we need to educate and it will take a while.

What's more with children. Bad habits, lack of self esteem, rude, poor analytical and social skills are but some of problems children face. We cannot and must not give up, because they are our children. Who will nurture them if not us.

My dearest wish is that my boy will turn out to be a kind, generous, responsible, compassionate man. That would have been my gift to society. We all strive to reach a stage of enlightenment, but as parents we ourselves are not perfect with faults aplenty. What kind of example do we set then?

Confessing my inadequacies will allow my boy to understand there is a right path and that I am only human. Yet we continue to strive. Perhaps it will take yet another generation before we get there.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Happy Weekend Everyone!

Post-It Notes are such an important tool in my home especially during the weekend.
There is much to do.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  
Weekend is a time for rest, a time to put up your feet lie back and do nothing.
A time to detox your body and mind.
Thus you can understand why it is so tough to get moving, yet things need to get done.
Now with my 2GB memory space, I 'll need list and more list.
If the list is lost, I will resort to retrieving them via 
my External Hard Disk named Sage.

So much to do, so little time. Problem is I need to get housework done and
 yet able to spend quality time with Sage.
Finding ways to do more by doing less! Is this ever possible?

Friday, October 8, 2010

It's like saying a cow moos!

You never win!

Conversations with Sage are somewhat intellectual, filled with high emotion quotient and humour.  I   enjoy our little banters they simply spice up our day.  It's times like these I feel such pride that my Sage is growing up and making so much sense. :)

Just yesterday, he told me that he completed his English paper and had an hour to spare.  I was concerned that he was rushing through the paper without giving it much thought.

He stared at me and said "mum, its like saying a cow moos!"

Well the reason he said it was ... when in the world did he ever take that long to complete his assignments.  NEVER!  He has a  knack of finishing his assignments of say 50 questions in 15 minutes, and it does feel like he had not been studying at all.  It's just too fast!

Well at least he spent that hour checking his answers for the 5th time.

Monday, October 4, 2010

I'm not stressing so he will not!

The final exams are due next week.  Sage's 12 and this is an important year.  This will determine 'his future' in a good, reputable high school and in turn determine (that is if he studies) what he will major in the University and and secure a good job that pays well.

Apparently he is getting tired of hearing this.  He gets it from his grandpa, his teachers, his principal and our friendly shop vendors near home. They meant well.  It is true to some extent that having a good education can not only meet your basic needs, enhance your self esteem and the much needed roof over your head. And with extra income you can lead a slightly more lavish lifestyle.

But to a child these mean nothing, they cannot see how that could affect the rest of their lives. It's just too distant into the future.  It's similar to my earlier post about brushing their teeth.  No amount of evidence, can convince them that not brushing their teeth will affect their lives until they have friends laughing at them for having yellow teeth!  Or someone comes up to you and say 'Hey you stink' before you will be willing to clean more thoroughly during bath times. Perhaps then some action will be taken!!!

Or those packs of cigarettes with those horrendous images of cancer plagued lungs , yet  many would still continue to buy and smoke their lungs out.  WHY wouldn't anyone listen until it's too late! I can understand that teens might find it hard to give it up due to peer pressure then again they do not know any better ... blame it on adolescence.  

But stressing children at this age that their future will be ruined if they did not do well in their exams is simply uncalled for.  They are just 12!  Some are simply later bloomers, or have not yet found their forte.  But when they do find their passion, they will SHINE.

And does it mean that if they do well in these exams, they will do well in the later part of their lives?  Every stage of our lives, there are influences and some we as parents are not able to control.  Choice of friends, influence of mentors and teachers, technological influences (creating more distractions), falling in love ...
Any one of these could distract a well-balanced child with great aspirations to stray.

I did not dare to place too much emphasis on Sage at this young age.  But I wish for him to gather as much experiences as he could.  Be it in sports, public speaking, volunteer work, dabbling in culinary skills, improving in his social skills.  I believe a more rounded education will provide him a more steadfast foundation for his future.  

My wish for Sage is to enjoy and hopefully have more happy memories of his school days.  I pray that he will not look back and say it was the most unhappy and stressful times in his life, because there will be more of that as an adult.  

But the constant reminder that not doing well in the exams will ruin your future is simply too heavy a burden to place on a young child's shoulders. 

Let him rise at his pace and maturity.  Let him love life to enjoy life.
This is my wish for Sage.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The First in Biological Warfare

I just wonder what's with kids these days, they would avoid brushing their teeth or bathing if they could.  I had a friend whose 16 year daughter who unashamedly asked her mother if she could skip bathing one day.   She just spent a whole day in school and was sweaty and stinky.  What's more... she's a girl!

My Sage would cheat and not brush his teeth in the morning, then again not sure if he does brush his teeth in the evening when I told him so.  He said what's the point when you are going to dirty it by eating anyway!!!   

One time I caught him .. he said he had brushed but his toothbrush was dry.  Another time, he simply showered his toothbrush as evidence that he had brushed.  Third world nations are not so lucky, they do not even have enough water to drink or wash themselves.  Here we have the luxury of water and soap gels ... why have we taken hygiene for granted?

I asked if he knew how much bacteria would accumulate in his mouth and body if he does not maintain Basic Hygiene.  One should ask the Tyrannosaurus Rex that lived millions of years ago!  They were the first creatures to develop biological warfare... one bite and you're dead from the infection of that bite.  The bacteria in their mouth was so potent.

Was he trying to recreate that long lost weaponry!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Chewing has become a chore!

I wrote a post last year about my amazing strong mum.  But this year her health took a turn.  She had this cough for months, seems to be getting better, yet it just lingers.  She is unable to chew and refuses to eat much.  Well that was also one of the critical reasons why I made a choice to cook.  I had to be sure all dishes are boiled or stewed to a mush.  At least she is willing to eat a fistful of mush ... that's better than nothing.  

What's with mums too, she has been taking care of me all my life and here I am providing my 2 cents worth of advice and she refuses to listen.  Now I can understand my cousin's frustration with her sick ailing mum. They just don't listen to their children ... why???   But they will listen to their friends, what's with that.  I've always thought blood was thicker than water!!!

I read in the papers just a week ago, that the elderly are not getting enough nutrition and are not eating enough.  So I will now need to take into consideration her inability to chew into my meal plans (basic balanced meal) and yet cook food she might like to eat (but in mush form ... creative thinking needed here). 

They do get real fussy as they age, wonder what kind of old woman will I turn out to be?  


For a 77 year, she's awfully energetic. She does the  laundry with her bare hands.
Don't know why, we do have this wonderful invention called the 'washing machine' that will get the job done in a spiffy.  And here she is laboring over Delicates AND Non-Delicates.  I could never understand but she claims that machine wash will ruin our clothes.  Colors will run and material will look worn out.

But there is a control button,  'WOOL'??? for Ultra Delicates, isn't there?

I do appreciate her concern to keep our clothes looking NEW, but  hand wash would simply WEAR HER OUT instead.  And NO she does not do my laundry haha, she does my boy's.  She refuses to allow me to wash his tees and shorts, because she knows I would simply dump them into the washer.

My success rate of washing boy's clothes in the machine is 7 times a year, when she's on vacation ... pant pant pant ... and  the rush to get them all washed and ironed before she returns.

Her other form of exercise is walking, not by the beach mind you.  She makes her rounds at the malls, and she could spend hours walking. She is definitely fitter than I'll ever be.

She is enjoying life now, I am glad.  I am grateful to GOD for his blessings of good health.

My mum has cared for us the best way she knew how.  When we were younger, I remember her slaving over the hot stove, laundry for a family of  7(including my aunts and uncle).  There was no washing machine then, you can imagine how exhausting it was.  I started helping with the housework at an early age. Washing the dishes, sweeping and mopping, ironing,  gardening etc.  It helped lessen her burden.

She slogged , slaved for both my brother and I.  She stuck around for us even when her marriage fell apart.

Our needs came first, and HER LIFE took a back seat.

All 50+ years, a future which looked quite bleak.  My mum made a decision, to carve out a life for herself.
Taking it one day at a time, she found new passion in sport(bowling), travels and friends. She made many new friends, and I could not be happier for her.

Are you holding back?  Are you putting your life in the back set for your husband, children, parents, job!!!
Will it be too late when you realize there is more to life and you just ran out of time?

Shall we not make that change and learn to 'LIVE' one day at a time for OURSELVES.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

When basic courtesy took a wrong turn!

This is a sight I would quiver to! Each time I see it I would remind my Sage to never do it.


Ok, in this world of equality you would say what is the big deal!

Maybe I am old fashioned at heart. I would still like to have men (or Sage) help carry my groceries  or anything that looks remotely heavy for a lady like myself.
Open the door and not let it slam back into my face or bring me a cup of tea when I feel flustered, or catch me when I veer off the pavement (In this instance I am walking).


Whatever happened to the Gary Cooper's. Jimmy Stewart's , Errol Flynn's (when men were real men... except for Rock Hudson, he was my fave till he blurted that he was gay.

The times long ago when boys were young gentlemen, strong, decent, clean cut, polite and chivalrous. Now practically everywhere I  turn, the guys are so waif-like, not an ounce of muscle. What's more I could not tell if they were guys or gals from the back, sloppy, with poor language skills and crude at most times!

But then again, girls have become a fearsome lot. Feminism getting out of control ... even Sage is afraid of the girls in his class. Crude, rude with high physical dexterity (they'll give you a whack on the head if you ever stepped on their toes).

Though I am game for equality of the sexes ... to be accepted and respected for our place on earth, yet I long for chivalry to live forever. When men would give up their seats in the bus for a lady or elderly or at best not rush with me for the bus.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why back to basics?

You must be wondering why "Back to basics".  Well due to my financial state, I have been educating Sage on accepting and living a "basic" and "simple" life. 

I am making budgeting a priority, though in the past I have had the luxury to pay for cab fares, eat at restaurants, splash on handbags and toys for my boy.  I was making a good living then, with bonuses at the end of the year.  Unfortunately, running my little business, thriftiness is essential. 

I would still love to pamper Sage, yet I had to be selective in where my monies are being spent ... more so on basic necessities.

With age catching up, the second important buy after food is skincare.  Can you believe for the past 40 years I had not used any form of skincare except for a solid bar soap from Sheishido, the cheapest only $15 per bar. Well I am living to regret it now.  Sagging dry skin, eye bags and the list goes on... the basic problems faced by ageing women. 

Meal consumption has been very much reduced to my cooking. It's cheaper that way.  Though a little bland, but perhaps healthier and in larger quantities.  It not worth getting takeouts anymore, as vendors are either reducing quality or quantity. At the end of the day what you paid for is not going to fill your tum tum.  The good thing is ... I am getting into the cook mode and quite thrilled with these basic attempts to feed my boy.

Many have noticed Sage's slimmer silhouette ... he has either sprouted or eating less now!!!!

SO MUCH MORE TO DO!  Thinking and planning to lead a simple life.
Back to basics, back to nature, back to family and loved ones.

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