defragment.me

Thin line between delusion & faith

I've been regularly labelled as being delusional, an escapist or simply naive. I don't get upset anymore, am rather used to it actually.

Guess what? If I never had my ideals and succumbed to people's version of cold reality, I wouldn't be having the liberty to work wherever I want while not having to answer a single phone-call while finding the person I want to spend the rest of my life with. I'll be working somewhere comfortable and would probably be with someone 'comfortable' as well.

This is another point of my life when I'm pulled into drawing strength from my inner-reserves again. This time around, the stakes are higher. I'll be lying if I tell you I am not paranoid nor insecure. Which is a contradiction because I believe that security is an illusion and therefore insecurity shouldn't exist. But try telling that to my human mind. ;p

People tell me that I am lucky or they wish they can be as gutsy as me. I go through the same paranoia process and indecision like anybody, in fact it may be more (ask my partner if you don't believe, I wake her up in the middle of the night all the time to *repeat* my paranoia to her all the time). What could be the difference is that I am not willing to live a mundane life. No matter how insecure, paranoid, down-in-the-dumps, upset, depressed, angry, in-confident, weak I can be, I am never willing to wake up, go to work, get paid, buy some stuff to comfort myself, grow old, get sick, be happy because I have money to treat my medical conditions, wait to die. Sorry, that sort of safe existence makes me not want to exist at all.

Plenty of times undesirable circumstances are there to push you out of your comfort zone for your necessary growth. I have spent the first half of the year fretting about the uncertainty I was about to face, but right now, I cannot help but feel totally grateful for it has given me the opportunity to go through a renewal process that was very much needed. One door closes and another opens.

I have a friend who keeps making ridiculous (even to me) decisions in his new venture but through his bold decision-making, his venture is experiencing tremendous growth. If you do not know him personally you may misunderstand his attitude on being borderline flippant. What most people do not know is that he has gone through a personal tragedy and it has allowed him to have very different perspectives while making decisions. When you have personally come across the face of death, what used to be important no longer becomes so and vice versa.

I have not experienced that sort of personal tragedy but have come close to it by being the creator of my own tragedy. I have been to that point where I have lost all love and enthusiasm for life. I was decaying.

Nothing can be worse than losing the desire to live, not even poverty or sickness. This period of healing has allowed me to recover my enthusiasm and that is very precious, the desire to look forward to another day. We can either be fearful or excited about the unknown, that is the beauty of our free will.

I choose to have faith, I keep having the choices presented to me and I still choose to have faith. I have faith that as long as I try my best and lead my life in the most meaningful manner, to the best of my capacity, the Universe will provide for me. It has never failed me so far, I have always been given what I have desired, as long as I was not afraid to take the plunge.

I do not know if I am deluding myself or if I am biting off more than I can chew, but who is to determine what are we truly capable of? It is only but ourselves who have limiting beliefs. How many of us in history had accomplished seemingly impossible feats precisely because of great ideals?

I have made the leap, and the height of that leap has increased since I last wrote, but I have always been an all or nothing person. It is either I do something with my best effort, or I don't do it, rather than trying to go the 'safe' route. What is the worst that can happen? That my partner end me end up having to sweep floors? That we can do, as long as we're in it together, united in the same direction, it doesn't matter if we really end up falling flat our faces. At the very least, we have tried our best.

Giant leap of faith

If you really know me well, you will know that I am a pretty extreme person. I swing between extremes. My mind is the eternal pessimist, prepare yourself for the worst, because then you'll never be disappointed, while my heart is the eternal optimist, if you never try you will never know.

My life has existed in cycles, whereby I swing between trying to listen to my heart and getting derided by my mind. Often the mind wins, because the mind is logical and rational. It convinces me in eloquent arguments while the heart just goes I don't know why but this is how I feel, so trust it anyway.

I attribute my depressive cycles to this, when the curve swings upwards it is usually because I am functioning well, trusting my intuition, following my heart. When it swings downwards the mind goes, there I told you so in an infinite loop. The mind mocks at the heart for being naive, the heart crumbles and breaks. I gradually lose the trust I have in myself, if any at all. My heart just wants to believe in the good, yet it gets repeatedly stepped upon because it wants to believe.

The past two decades, I have lost the ability to really, truly, trust myself. I want to trust everybody and everything but just not myself. Why would I trust myself when it seems like I have been the one making all the poor decisions rendering me in heart-breaking circumstances?

Perhaps I have never truly trusted myself. If I did, I would never have felt any fear, and even if things go wrong it wouldn't scare me, because I will always be there for myself, to pick myself up. But I don't trust myself to pick myself up. I would only envision myself being broken again, some part of me would die, and that process would be irreversible. I would never be whole again. I am weak, else why would I always feel so broken each time something goes wrong?

Somehow there is this tiny part of me that never dies. After all the tears, there is always this tiny part that wants to believe. I have no idea why. I have no idea why time and time again, I still remain hopeful. Why I repeatedly allow myself to be broken again and again, yet I still believe in ideals. In hope. In faith.

Is that the infinite part of my soul? Why do I believe in God (the non-religious version, thank you)? I cannot explain it in words, but there is this part of me that knows, that knowing cannot be refuted, it cannot disintegrate, it will always be there. It can be hidden or lost, but it will always be there. I think it is like a paradox. It is because it is so unexplainable, illogical, yet so true, thus the belief to begin with.

Our minds only wants to believe in the proven. My mind wants me to be the logical person I cannot be. I got depressed because I know I can never be the person my mind or society or even my loved ones want me to be.

That tiny voice in me has gotten louder in the past few years. Ironically, the more I fell, the louder it got. It keeps telling me, if only you have listened to me in the first place. The more I realised I cannot depend on outer reality, the more I drew strength from inwards. I started to see that I cannot ask for external motivation if I do not possess it internally. I cannot ask for people to believe in me when I don't even trust myself.

That tiny voice tells me to keep the faith. There are no walls of security that I can lean on, no calculated risks I can take, but it keeps telling to take that leap. That giant leap of faith.

Do I trust myself? After all those times that I have trusted and yet got broken? I realised I have never fully trusted myself, many times I have taken the step to trust my inner voice, only to sell out to the ever-persuasive mind. Eg. I took the leap to going solo because I trust my inner voice, but I ended up being persuaded by the fearful mind to take on projects that was not necessarily beneficial for me because I was insecure. Or those times that I mistakenly thought I was making decisions for the better, but only to realise now that I was trying to preserve my comfort zone. Being comfortable does not equate to being better.

Have you ever really analysed why you keep getting into undesirable situations? Or simply blame it on your own 'luck'? I was one of those who believed I was destined to live a wretched life, because I keep trying and yet I keep getting into 'unlucky' situations. I now have the benefit of hindsight. The 'unlucky' situations always have a reason. Eg. I was in a totally monotonous job for six months that did nothing for my portfolio, but it was there that I met the friend who would play such a vital role in my growth in the past decade.

So, I am gonna take a giant leap of faith. I am going to listen to that tiny but growing voice. I may fall flat on my face but I will gain the experience of trying, rather than to live with another 'what if' in my life.

I cannot take that lying down and that is perhaps the strength I possess. I am tired of living with the constant fear of lack. From now on, I just want to live in a life that is full of abundance.

"If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway."

Mother Theresa, via fastcompany.com

...any technology sufficiently advanced beyond our understanding seems indistinguishable from magic.

Arthur C. Clarke, quoted from 'Lost' Series Finale Theories

Travelling solo, finally

Almost 3 years after I set out to fulfill my dreams of travelling around the world, I finally booked a one-way ticket to Phuket after procrastinating at the booking screen for a few days suffering from decision paralysis.

So Phuket is not 'the world', but it would be a start, and I am rather comfortable in Thailand. I hope to be starting off at Phuket but venturing to places I have never been to before, like Khao Lak & the Khao Sok National Park. Transportation around these places is not as straightforward as I'll like it to be, but I'll just see what happens along the way. I just hope I don't cop out and stay the entire time in Phuket.

So what's the big deal

I've always been afraid of sleeping in the dark, I feel afraid even when there's people in the room with me, but over the past couple of years I've slowly begun to overcome that. Still, it is a big step for me to actually try being alone in the dark in a foreign country or in the middle of the jungle (photo credit):

Khao Sok Accomodation

And this is the first time I'm truly travelling alone to a destination where I have no family or friends. Without my partner to fuss over me, without someone as a security blanket, without someone to discuss with when I suffer from decision paralysis.

Which is why I must do this.

I really believe people must get out of their comfort zones in order to grow and going on solo travel is definitely going to take me out of my comfort zone. I think I've been hiding too long, trying very hard to feel safe and secure, and relying on external circumstances or people to make decisions for me. Okay, that's a bit harsh since I've worked very hard and gave up a lot in order to be a solo worker, but it still doesn't take away the fact – I am afraid to be alone.

Not because I need company, but because I don't trust myself.

Do I have lots of money stashed away

Nope I don't. That's why I've delayed doing this for ages, because I wanted to be financially secure before attempting to do something like this. However, this year has taught me that health is much more a priority than money and I realise I cannot take my life or health for granted.

I will be bringing some outstanding work to work on the go, but I will be hoping to tie up all of my projects within this month or the next, and spend another month or so work-free (and stress free).

I am not sure if I will have enough to last that long, but I am going to try anyway. Worst-case scenario is to come back and wait on tables. I can live with that. Though when the time calls for it, I'll probably take on some small-scale projects to get by.

Why I want to travel

I've always wanted to travel. It is like a lifetime calling. I am not sure why, but I am sure there is a reason why I feel so strongly about it. Which I'll probably find out on the way I guess.

I've also been feeling really drained and I am hoping that being closer to nature will recharge me. Spending time in solitude has never failed to bring me opportunities for new perspectives and ideas.

I actually like to travel with people (the right company, of course) because they would amplify the joys of travelling. New sights to share, delicious food to salivate over together. I've always thought I wanted to do this together with my partner, but circumstances made it impossible and on hindsight, perhaps I am meant to do this alone.

Additionally, I want to see if I actually feel different in a different geographical location. Eckhart Tolle packed up and moved across seas to write "The Power of Now" because his inner-voice told him he would have a much easier time writing the book at a different location. That was an interesting idea when I first came across it. I am not implying that moving locations *is* the solution, but no harm trying it out. I believe different locations have different energies and everybody will react differently to different places. Or maybe it is not so hard to believe that staying closer to nature will be more inspiring that living in a concrete jungle full of stressed out people.

I know many people love Singapore for all the comforts that it brings and perhaps I will learn that I prefer this side of the grass after being at other patches, but I'll only truly get to know, only if I venture out of it. I definitely know of people who are really happier staying elsewhere (yes, I am looking at you, Adri ;p).

A start to something bigger

I chose Phuket because it is one of the cheapest destinations to fly to and I really want to be near an ocean (& anytime I can simply fly back if I chicken out lol). Hopefully the familiarity with ease me into getting used to the whole idea.

This is just for me to make a start and I want to be travelling further and doing some serious country-hopping before 2010 ends.

I have been to many different places but I never really had the chance to really settle down in one place and experience their local culture for what it truly is. Ideally, I will like to spend about 1-3 months in a single place, live there for a bit, work for a bit, get to know the locals and not so much of being a tourist.

Whatever happens, it will definitely be an interesting experience. Wish me luck. :)

Living life without limits

"Now is the time to integrate with kindred spirits while continuing to leave internal and external limiting factors behind."

Quoted from The Aquarius-Leo Full Moon of January 2010 - Creativity Crystallizing in Forms of Power by Robert Wilkinson.

Astrology works in funny ways (No it is really not the monthly column you read in newspapers). I was just having this whole thought process about the limiting beliefs I have in my life for the past few days, and this article cropped up in my feed. Regardless of whether the astrological transits influenced me or not, I thought the above quote aptly summed up what I feel now, and will probably be the theme for my 2010.

Moving forward

I wanted to write my customary New Year's resolutions post quite a while ago, but I did not really have any specific resolutions. Not because there wasn't anything to improve on, quite the opposite actually. I think I am on the brink of a crucial transition phase in my life, and mere words will not be enough to express how I feel.

The great fear of moving backwards always seem to stop me from moving forward. I cannot help but feeling that the best solution is not to move, stay in limbo, until I know the best way to move forward. But there's no "best way to move forward".  How do we determine what is the "best"? By basing on experiences of others?

I've always believed, from a young tender age, that the best way to live life is to live it spontaneously. Yet how many of us can truly be spontaneous? Not worry about bills? Even if we don't care about our own survival, what about our loved ones and whether we would be able to afford medical care for them if necessary?

Bad news can be catalysts for growth

A while ago I had some news which threatened my financial stability. All the plans that I've made for this coming year either has to be shelved, or I have to find some miraculous way of pulling it all together. Perhaps if it was in the past, I would have been crippled by the news. Devastated, and think that nothing in my life goes according to plan. The reality is, even the best laid plans can be thwarted. A dip in the economy, a war in some country, a natural disaster, tons of things can happen. We can only try our best.

I could have continued moping about my situation, which I did, for a short while – I think sometimes we have to reach the bottom in order to rise up. Problems can be solved by money are not problems. I sound frivolous by saying this, but look at little Charmaine, whose banner I put up on the right sidebar of this blog. We can garner all the donations for her expensive treatments, but her life is still in the hands of fate. We can only hope and pray for the best. Money cannot solve her problem, neither can money really solve Haiti's problems. Can money bring peace and stability to a nation? But that doesn't mean we stop giving or trying, because trying our best is better than not trying at all, isn't it?

We all have choices

Some of us are trying their best to deny this, but we all have choices. I used to hold a deterministic view of life, I believed that everything was pre-destined and we don't have a choice if we're destined to suffer. Somehow I was blessed because a series of events changed my views. I can choose to mope, or I can choose to be hopeful. If someone without limbs can lead such an inspiring life, why the rest of us who can walk, talk and eat, feel so aggrieved?

I have realised it is all about being able to exert control over your mind. Most of us allow the mind to rule us, to tell us we have to be richer, to do better, to be slimmer, whatever. I am blessed to know a few people who are not bounded by the restrictions of the mind or society, and these people are truly exceptional. They take risks, live life to the max, and are truly happy. You don't even need to know them to know they are happy. They exude happiness from their very core.

Wiring & beliefs

Being raised in a materialistic society in Singapore, (and it didn't help having a very critical mother), add my natural melancholic self to the equation, I seem to be wired to believe that I was destined to fail. I worry about anything and everything, and I worry what will happen in 50 years time. I worry about the future and problems that doesn't even exist. I think of the worst case scenario in every situation. It can be a good trait. It is always good to be prepared for the worst consequences, but not when you actually believe that the worst consequences are likely to happen all the time. Sometimes I think I actually will my problems into existence. Isn't this what they call a self-fulfilling prophecy?

So when I received the news that could threaten my financial stability, I went through the entire process of 'shit, I am never going to make it'.

This time, a switched flipped in my mind. If there's a 50/50 chance of failure and success, why do I seem to think that failure is the higher possibility? Why do I subscribe to the notion that I was not capable of rising up to the new occasion, that my situation will improve instead?

As I allowed myself to conjure hundreds of solutions to my problem, I realised that a solution was not impossible. It was just how much I was willing to do it. A difficult solution does not mean impossible.

Removing limits

Now, I am in the process of removing all my limiting beliefs. Whatever that held me back in the past. It is not easy, and some mornings I still wake up with slight panic attacks over what I am going to do about my problem, some nights I still get dreams of being late for exams. I seem to dream a lot of the past and it gives an accurate picture of my whole psyche. I am still wired to the past, still haunted by it. In reality my life is getting better every day but there is still this part of me that thinks that this is all too good to be true, and that it will end soon. I am like ending my own happiness even before even any sign of trouble. I am already planning for doomsday.

Nobody is threatening my happiness except myself. I cannot change external circumstances but I can learn how to cope with it positively. I wouldn't be in my 3rd year of my solo career now if I didn't choose to let go my fears. I would never have imagined having the life I have now when I was still working long hours under employment. Back then, I only wanted my life to improve slightly, to stop working nightmarish hours and I was even prepared to suffer and earn less money in exchange for having a life back. Now, I am almost living the life I have always dreamed of, I still have to work long hours and suffer the stress every now and then, but I have the freedom (to travel, to sleep in, to choose clients, etc), and that is most important to me.

Instead of fretting over the possible problems in the future, I rather spend my energy being the architect of my ideals. I want to dream of an improved life, not plan for the worse. Because even if unfortunate incidents do happen, there's usually nothing much you can do. Probably the very most, is to be properly insured and have some emergency funds. Even the deepest emergency fund you have in the world will not help much if life really decides to throw you a curveball.

Grateful for the unexpected

Now, looking back at the news I'd received, I am amazingly grateful for it. Like truly. I was in some form of a comfort zone and I needed it to push me out of it. If this did not happen, I would not have been spurred on to be creative about the ways I can change my lifestyle. Something that I thought that required a financial miracle is turning out to be seemingly possible – all because the situation called for extreme solutions, and one of the solutions do not seem so extreme after all...In fact, based on the current situation it is quite do-able within my means, and who is to say my means will not improve? At the very least, it is worth trying and hoping for.

If this did not happen, I would not even contemplate this particular solution (sorry for being ambiguous but it is too early to write about it), because my own limiting beliefs thought it was impossible.

Just trust

Some time last year, I was in a very bad shape and I let go. I let go of my worries, my fears, and any attachment to any outcomes. I told myself to trust the Universe and see what happens. It was very scary, but looking back now, whatever followed up actually turned out much, much, better than I could ever have imagined or expected.

This time, and for the rest of my life, I want to do the same. Just trust. Implicitly. As long as I can eat, talk and walk, whatever that comes along is a bonus and a blessing.

It will not be easy, but I really do want to stop being so affected by my past, whether is it memories, phobias, conditionings.

I want to re-wire myself.

I want to live my life without my self-imposed or society's limits.

"Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they would get. But if you work really hard and are kind, amazing things will happen." – Conan O'Brien

Looking back at 2009

2009 has been a tough year for me, personally. It wasn't because of the economy. Reading my previous year's 'looking back' post, I remember that I had ended the year with lots of optimism and hopes. It wasn't to be as I endured a difficult time mentally and emotionally as I struggled to balance all aspects of my life, but I remain grateful – for no matter how difficult it was, I am still able to remain relatively healthy and my loved ones are all well. That to me, is already a blessing I am happy to be able to count, because I know for a fact that many people are not aware of how blessed they are on an everyday basis.

What I could have done better

1. Managing self-expectations

I wanted to title this as time-management, but I have gradually grown to realise that the root of the problem is not that I don't know how to manage my time properly or that I am not disciplined enough. For almost all my life I have pointed the finger at myself for being a procrastinator and that led to feelings of self-guilt and undermining my own value. I had almost come to accept the fact that I simply cannot manage time.

The problem was never the management of time, but the expectations I have laid upon myself. It is ironic because I have a relatively low self-esteem but somehow I have sky-high expectations of myself. I have this super-woman mentality that I can manage a few major processes going on at the same time and come out fine. It is one thing to have a survivor's mentality but another thing to put myself through all the unnecessary stress. I had overestimated my ability to multi-task and the time it takes to accomplish things. I always seem to think that I can be fast (very Aries of me).

If I had set reasonable expectations for myself, I would have met them well and would not have put myself in the stressful situation of being in danger of not meeting deadlines, or trying to manage multiple timelines at one go. I have learnt time management is all about setting small, achievable targets – I mean, if I expect myself to be superwoman (which I am not, or else I wouldn't even be writing this), obviously I wouldn't be able to fulfill the tasks I have set up for myself.

At one stage in 2009, I was in the middle of a huge residential move, taking on a new spiritual course, plus juggling about 5 major work projects, taking care of a dog with behavioral problems; all at the same time. It did not come as a surprise when I was on the verge of a breakdown, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. If this was to happen a couple of years earlier, I would be blaming my luck or whatever else I could blame upon. However, I took this setback very personally, it took me a long time to stop blaming myself for it.

I fell out of love with my work, my work which I so preciously hold dear to my heart. I tie my self-identity to my work and the work I create, when things do not go well with my work, I crumble. It is hard not to fall out of love with it when I am just so burnt out. Not to mention my living quarters had more than 50 huge un-packed boxes. And a dog who refused to stop barking.

I was lost. But I took responsibility for it, I sent apologies to all parties involved and decided that the only thing I could do, is just to put in my best. I stopped accepting new work apart from those I was sure that I could manage. I took myself apart to rebuild my self again.

And I think I am still in the midst of rebuilding it. Right now, I am careful with every decision I make, especially with work. I cannot help but feel apprehensive because I have this phobia of repeating the same mistake. However, I know I cannot be over-protective or I will just miss out on plenty opportunities. I can only put in my best and hope for the best.

2. Loving myself

This past year, I've been putting in a lot of effort into loving myself more. I know this sounds egoistic, but I haven't been loving myself for most of my life. Like honestly. I don't give myself enough credit and I beat myself up hopelessly when things go wrong. This whole self-image thing is central to the many other issues that is going on in my life and to the previous point as well. When things did not go well, all I could do was to lament how incapable I was instead of encouraging myself to do better the next time.

If I had loved myself more, I would have allowed myself more time to play and rest instead of working all day long, I would have valued myself more and not under-charge for my work, which would allow me to take in less work. See how this self-image thing affects me in and out? It creates a whole vicious cycle:

Lack of self love -> Under-value self -> Under charge -> Takes in lots of work to survive -> Lots of stress generated -> Procrastinate because of stress -> Unable to manage timelines properly -> Creativity takes a hit -> Start blaming myself for being unable to create to my own expectations -> Self-hatred begins.

Sidenote: I have seldom missed a deadline in the past year regardless of all my issues. I would rather slave-drive myself than to disappoint my clients. Unless I fell physically sick, which I took full responsibility for.

3. Achieving balance

Work and other personal responsibilities took over my life for the past year, I think I could have read a bit more, played a bit more, watched a few more movies, relaxed a bit more, exercised a lot more.

I tend to swing from extreme to extreme so it is important for me to learn how to go in-between.

What I can be proud of

1. Bringing myself out of the hermit-hole

Being energetically sensitive (okay stop rolling your eyes now ;p), I sort of stopped going out to meet people since 2006. It makes me feel drained and I take quite a while to recover from it. It was a good and much needed break, but I forgone plenty of opportunities in doing that. Everything exists in duality, in avoiding negativity and I had to avoid positivity as well.

Plus, I had self-image issues so I have a phobia of meeting strangers.

It all started from the AWARE incident which made me realise that I need to know like-minded people to achieve any cause. That it can actually be empowering instead of disempowering.

From coming out of my self-created hermit hole, I managed to meet tons of great people who have in turned brought tons of great relationships and opportunities.

2. Going to Tokyo and Hongkong

Amidst all the mess going on, I am glad that I managed to squeeze the time and resources to visit Julia, my spiritual mother in Tokyo, which whetted my appetite for more. Each time I travel out of Singapore I feel a sense of liberation and joy I cannot simply explain in words. I am proud that I did not allow my financial insecurity to stop me from travelling. It was a priceless experience.

An ex-client from Hongkong I worked remotely and briefly with, popped by Singapore and bought me tickets to watch Denise Ho's concert after I casually mentioned it to her. I haven't even met her prior to this and she graciously bought the tickets for me, and invited me over to stay at her place during my two-week trip. I could have burgled her house for god's sake but she trusted me unconditionally; I was almost a stranger to her. Thank you, Belle. I appreciate all of these from the bottom of my heart. This happened at a time when things was not going well for me and it re-affirmed my faith in people and the Universe. If not for my earlier decision to reverse my hermit-dom, I wouldn't have accepted the invitation to meet up and I would have missed this learning experience.

The Hongkong trip was significant to me because it was the first time I sort of travelled alone (my partner left for Singapore after one week). I am the sort of person who is afraid of being alone in the dark and this was a major step out for me. It gave me the confidence to do this traveling thing alone. Apart from that, I had the chance to catch one of the greatest concerts I've ever watched and the concert inspired me very much, both on a professional and personal level. Again, I put aside my financial insecurity to make this trip and it was very, very much worth it.

3. Finding my voice

This is again, tied to my self-image and I have been afraid to voice my true feelings and opinions because I was worried about how people would take them. Will they see me as some weirdo? Or will my clients get upset if I tell them what I truly feel? Can I stand up for myself against nasty clients?

As I grew in self-confidence after I re-valued myself (like some property, haha), I decided that it was very important to me that I find my voice back. I used to be totally self-confident and vocal when I was a kid and I lost that part of me when my life turned up-side down during my teenage years.

I needed to be true, true to myself, and to people. Finding my voice was triggered by the AWARE incident as I struggled whether to air my potentially radical views publicly or not. I finally came to the conclusion that I am my Self and I need to stay true to that self. I put my true self out there and it is up to people whether they want to accept me for me or not. Those who can't, will not be a good fit for me anyway. It will only be tiresome and will not be of any value to both parties if we all have to put on fake fronts and hypocritical smiles.

4. Realising my greatest enemy is – myself

This was a major epiphany for me.

For realising it was never about the luck, the environment, the people, the circumstances. It is all about how I choose to perceive and believe. Everything, everything can be good or bad, it is how one looks at it.

The difference between success and failure is the ability to control the mind. To train the mind and not let the mind train you. The mind is truly powerful, it can sabotage or it can empower. It just takes a flip of a mind-switch to make a radical difference but the difficulty is to convince oneself to flip that switch.

If I truly want something, I have to make that effort, no matter how great it is. It is entirely up to me whether I want to put in that extra inch or mile. Everyone has the power to will themselves into doing anything. "Cannot help it" is a bad excuse. The circumstances can be bad, people can be critical, but if you don't believe in yourself at the very least, or make the effort to go that extra mile, who's going to do it for you?

Nobody. So I have to do it for myself. And if I don't have the will to do it for myself, then who else but myself is the greatest enemy?

Nobody has the ability to create that negative situation or that bleak outlook apart from oneself. If there are people who can make the best out of crappy situations (Stephen Hawking, for example, has lost the use of his limbs but he is still contributing to the world, or Avram Grant's dad who had to bury his parents and siblings during world war II and still feel positive about life), then it is up to us to determine how negative or positive a situation can be. It is all relative.

Gratitude time for the ones who made a significant difference

  • Julia, as always. I do not know how would I have survived without you
  • My partner, for her unwavering support and love
  • Belle, for her invitation to Hong Kong
  • Andy & Jussi, for taking that effort to convince me that meeting strangers can be a pleasant experience
  • Adrianna, for being that inspiring example
  • Danny, for your moral support
  • All the great friends I have made during #barcamp
  • All my clients, especially Kevin, who has not only been a great client but a business mentor to me. The rest, I won't mention all the names because all of you have been great. Thank you for your support and understanding
  • All the Stevens (two, actually) that I know, for they see in me what I cannot seem to see for myself
  • Twitter and my twitter friends, for being my source of comfort when the going gets tough. Not sure what I'll do without the internet, seriously. I wouldn't even have a career! Can't imagine if I was born a century earlier.
  • Those of you who believe in the magic of the universe, thank you for making me feel sane.

Here's to a great 2010!

Because not all of us are blessed with comfort & health

In spite of feeling as though my body's going to break apart anytime and that there's a mountain load of work waiting for me, I had to take time off to write this post.

Amidst the fatigue and stress due to having to juggle relocating my residence and work deadlines (I scheduled my relocation week to be free of work actually, but alas, schedules seem to have a life of their own), I was on the way of my usual pattern of wondering why am I always caught in such a situation – until two events made me realise how insignificant my worries and troubles seem to be.

1) The Iranian election.

2) 4 yr old Charmaine, who is battling 4th stage cancer.

I cannot do much for 1) except the pray for those who fight for truth and hope for the best. However for 2) I hope to be able to do whatever that is within my own means to help.

And that means writing this post to spread the message, even though I know the readership of the blog is not really worth mentioning anyway. However, if I can just convince one of you, just one, to lend a hand to this little girl, it will be enough for me.

Charmaine

I do not know Charmaine, but I am deeply affected by her strength. That she was still smiling in her pictures – even though not much of her hair is left, that she has to undergo chemo at the tender age of 4. Here I am, complaining about the aches acquired from painting a few walls.

The last blog post I read, she has the urge to pee every 10 minutes and she cries each time she pees because it is just so painful. May I ask if any of you, would have similar courage to smile if you have to go through the same ordeal?

She needs 350k USD to have a 40% - 50% chance of survival as she needs to go to New York to get some special (read: expensive) antibody. If she stays in Singapore, her chance of survival is only at maximum 20%, though realistically, 10%.

Okay, the first reaction most of you is going to have is to look at the 350k and think you are never going to make a difference. But, every effort counts. Even if not monetary, spreading the message is very much helpful as well. Charmaine and her family will need every ounce of effort from us.

Charmaine's mother is a mother who singlehandedly brought up her two kids and she is facing this battle alone because Charmaine's dad left them when she was not even born. Can you imagine how Charmaine's mother felt, when told of her daughter's condition and the amount of money needed for treatment? I would have crumbled in despair, honestly.

So, she may not survive even if she's able to raise that amount. At least we can answer to ourselves – that we have tried our best. That is what Charmaine's mother is asking of herself, she has wondered through the same process, that half a million SGD can help many starving children in third world countries. Yet this is her own precious daughter, even 1% of a chance is still a chance, I know I would do the same if I were to be in the same shoes.

3 steps forward

Am always at a constant battle within myself. My astrological birth chart expresses my personality perfectly. The Aries (sun/ego, mars/action & venus/love) in me yearns for excitement and new ventures, whereas the Taurean (moon/emotions) is constantly pleading for material security, in order to feel emotional security. The Piscean (mercury/communications) gets confused trying to make head or tail of the whole situation while the battle rages. Eventually the Scorpion (ascendant/too complicated for a simple explanation) will win them all, because it is all about 'transforming or die'.

Sidenote: Many astrological texts will point to the ascendant/rising sign as the 'outer personna' or the 'mask', but the more I examine charts and people, the more I am convinced the the ascendant represents a complex concept that I would find it hard to describe in words. The ascendant determines the 12 houses of the chart (which will determine how you express your planets' energy and in which areas of your life) and in traditional astrology the ascendant's ruling planet will be considered as the entire chart's ruler. Liz Greene describes it as "a very complex and profound point in the chart and is directly concerned with what we call 'destiny'", Howard Sasporas said it took him "15 years to grasp the significance of the ascendant'.

Sidenote II: Yes, astrology is not just about the silly sun sign column you read in the papers.

The 'excitement vs security' struggle, followed by the confusion of thoughts, but nevertheless resulting in change – this process is prominent throughout my tender life of 28 years. Be it making the decision to have a good meal at a restaurant, quitting a job, making purchases or major life decisions.

I went through a few such processes recently:

1. Finally decided to sign up for the Soul Realignment™ course after humming and hawing for almost a year.

2. Booked air tickets to visit my 'mother in spirit' Julia in Tokyo.

3. Had a couple of coffee/co-working sessions with lovely Andy Croll and Jussi Edlund.

Okay, on the surface, it is not so much a big deal to sign up for a course, book air tickets to somewhere and have a few cups of coffee with people while trying to work at the same time. However, personally for me, it carries a huge amount of significance towards my effort to make steps forward.

The step towards spiritual development & contribution

The spiritual side of me has been growing exponentially. The depth of interest and passion I have for spirituality cannot be described in mere words. There were several factors inhibiting me from moving forward. Financially, it is not taken to be lightly if I really want to spend the time and effort acquiring the knowledge plus experience. It also may mean much less income as I need to put aside more billing time for study.

This is a commitment, not only to one course, but to my entire intention of moving seriously forward along this path. It is something that needs a significant amount of time dedicated to it, not to mention sheer hard work. Trying to improve one's intuitive abilities (at least mine) needs a lot of practice and patience. Imagine trying to listen to your own mind for 15 minutes a day and nothing seems to respond. Of course, patience is not one of my virtues and I require additional effort on my part just to sit still.

By signing up for the course, I am making known my intentions to take a big step forward into what I have been wanting to do for the past couple of years. This is no longer just one of the side-interests I have whereby I buy plenty of books and wonder aloud to myself as I read them.

Another major reason why I had been reluctant to take this step was because I did not believe I could do it. Me? Having intuitive abilities? Okay, everyone has them actually, but to which extent and I did not think I would ever be someone using this for a serious purpose. The irony is I have actually been relying a lot on my gut feel and instincts all my life. If I ever let my logical brain lead me I would never have come this far, never ever.

Somewhere in my heart, in this little corner, I somehow know, that my intuition has always been there for me. Not only there, but rather loud. I know it is very much a part of me, it has been defining my life path all this while. If this is such a big part of me, shouldn't I work at it to bring it out in the open?

I do not want to continue to be my own wet blanket any much longer. I have had and will have plenty of such people around me, so it will be nice if I take myself out as one of them. For once, I want to believe in myself and what my heart is telling me.

The step towards travelling around the world

I am not sure why I simply love to travel, but I know that it is part of my destiny. Sounds corny but I feel it in the core of my soul. Perhaps I have been a nomad in one of my past lives, who knows?

I have never really travelled far. The furthest I have been was a 10-day trip to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. Tokyo is on par with that part of Australia in terms of flight-time, but it has always been like a place I can go only if I have lots of money (haha).

I took weeks to finally purchase my tickets to Tokyo. It was on sale, for S$598 on Singapore Airlines. I bought it 10 minutes before the sale ended. Yes, I suffer from decision paralysis. Even though I knew I must buy because SQ will probably not have such a sale in the near future, it still took me weeks.

I do not have lots of money, but I have Julia who will provide me some floor space to sleep on. Visiting her has been on my wishlist ever since she left for Tokyo to live out her dream...*ahem* two years back.

I was aware of having some form of a shift in me after pressing the 'confirm' button on the SQ website. I felt really, really happy and good about buying the tickets. It was like somewhere in my mind, somebody was rejoicing and proclaiming, 'Finally!'. I thought I would feel the pain of having to part with very hard-earned (especially for the past few months) sum of money, but instead I was really happy that I did it.

Tokyo will just be the first leg in my travel itinerary for at least the coming two years. I believe once I start on my first leg, I will overcome the resistance eventually for the journey ahead.

The step towards overcoming my social reclusion

I have been a social recluse ever since I made the decision to work solo. I generally have people phobia. Perhaps partially I am becoming aware that I am an emotional sponge and I absorb energy from people unknowingly, partially I find it difficult to communicate with people who are not true – which basically means the majority of society. I have hidden myself as I do not like facing confrontations, unpleasant situations, people who are flaky and plastic. It drains me.

Secondly, I have difficulty expressing myself verbally which I would relate it to my people phobia. I would also associate a deeper significance to this issue – basically I am just reluctant to express myself, be it out of fear or out of dislike.

I thought people would not appreciate what I have to say, or be interested in, or even understand. I have self-confidence issues, not surprising after being criticized by my own family for all my life (sorry, I do not possess that much mental strength to preserve my confidence despite the criticism, especially from my own mother, but I am currently learning to). There was this point in my life when I decided to simply switch off. Since people would not understand anyway, I should not even bother.

In the recent one year, I am being sort of forced (not that I really minded) into changing my mindset. The major trigger was the AWARE incident. I gradually realised that staying in the social closet will inhibit me in moving forward along my goals. I cannot do much for the causes I believe in alone, I need people and they need me. Attending the AWARE EGM made me realise that people with positive intentions and like-minded souls do exist in numbers, but I have been so holed up in my self-built shelter that I assumed they did not.

I had also realised my lack of self-belief has cast a shadow on everything, including my own work, progress and even external situations. The disbelief in myself spilled outwards to the general disbelief in society. My mindset used to be, 'I don't care what everyone else do since they are just too concerned about their own egos, I just want to do my part', which the basic intention is not wrong, but now I realise it can be 'I should be detached with people who exhibit negativity but I should align myself with positive-minded ones so that we can find strength and dynamism in numbers and do our part contributing to the greater whole'.

Going for coffee with online people you have never met before would seem trivial to many, but for me it really needed a lot of internal persuasion. I have never met a single online twitter friend or client in the past 2 years I have been working solo.

Everything exists in duality and coming out of the social closet means having to deal with people who causes headaches as much as the people who brings joy. I know it is something I will eventually learn to deal with, if only I would start in the first place.

It was a positive experience having my first 'meetup' coffee with Jussi and Andy which preceded a productive #jellysg co-working session with 5 others. I was glad I took this step out and am already looking forward to getting to know more like-minded people, be it spiritually or other geeks like me.

Guts & luck

People look at my decisions (i.e. coming out to parents, self-employment, etc) and describe me as 'gutsy' or 'lucky'. I especially dislike the 'lucky' comment, because it took me a lot of effort just to be here. They see the end result of my decisions and they think I am happy-go-lucky/impulsive. I am anything but. They do not see the antagonizing process whereby I mentally/emotionally torture myself (sometimes for years) before coming to a decision/conclusion. Now you see where my insomnia comes from.