defragment.me

Why I need to find myself

I remember this time around last year, I fell into a drain.

I remember laughing at myself, and I gave myself a promise that I will, finally commence on my journey.

A journey I’ve always felt compelled to make – a journey to find myself.

Somehow, the practicalities of life took over. I had to move residences, rush deadlines because of the interruptions faced while moving, and then cope with all the repercussions. The unsettled environment, the fatigue, the financial drain.

I should have gone anyway, and simply trust that everything will work out the way it is meant to be.

I didn’t. I couldn’t find the strength.

On the other hand, my work was slowly getting recognised, and I was worried if I didn’t build on it I would lose all the momentum I worked so hard to gain.

Somehow, I fell back into the usual pattern – trying to be happy living life like how others do – working all the time, trying to build some financial security that would make me feel safe enough to venture forward, some day.

I spent the entire second half of last year trying to re-settle, pad my finances again, thinking that this year, would be the year I would finally commence on my journey.

Crisis

Life almost never works according to plan (at least for mine), so it didn’t really surprise me when something happened at the turn of this year. I have to move again, out of a place I thought I would occupy for the next four years.

Faced with the prospect of moving in this property climate (read unaffordable rental), I was contemplating all sorts of ideas that I would never consider in the right frame of mind, stuff like going back into employment for a stable income.

At the same time, I was going through an emotional crisis (which I didn’t realise until a month passed by) because whatever that happened involved close family members and it brought back painful childhood memories that I thought I had gotten over for a long time.

Who would have thought that an adult almost reaching her thirties will still be so haunted by the past?

Denial

My career was going well and I was trying really hard to keep everything going. The truth was that I was so affected emotionally and stressed out with my financial situation that I felt like I was struggling to match the high expectations I have put in myself. It was like a vicious cycle, I needed my work to ease my financial worries, but I wasn’t producing the quality I wanted, that in turn gave me tremendous frustration and stress and I was just slowly drowning.

My soul was slowly dying. And I could feel it.

It took me a while to get out of denial. I kept telling myself that I will be okay, it was just temporary, I was going to get out of it. I had this opportunity to work with people I really respected and I was getting paid significantly well. With so much uncertainty financially, I did whatever I could to hang on.

You know how I got out of this self-denial?

I literally crumbled. Until I thought I was losing my self.

And it all led me to think. If I was going to lose myself, what would financial security mean to me? All the good work that I was doing would mean nothing, even if one day I could afford my own house to stay in would mean nothing. I was just in tears all the time, I could no longer pull myself up and I can no longer smile. I was a mess and my partner bore the brunt of it. I was getting very sick, physically. I could not get out of bed and I could not breathe.

Only then, I knew what was important to me.

My Self.

Why

Many people don’t understand why am I always seem to be in some form of self-torture, but that’s because they don’t understand what is going on in my mind or in my heart. I just don’t pursue the same things most people seem to enjoy pursuing. The money, the ambitions, the assets. Sometimes I wish that I was mercenary, at least life would be simpler in some ways, wouldn’t it?

I am constantly in search of answers. Why am I here? Who am I? I’ve been asking myself these questions ever since I was a toddler. Sometimes I wake up and I feel bemused to be here. I never felt like I belonged here. I never found the meaning in growing through childhood, scoring straight As, getting a good job, getting married, having children, growing old and dying. It was like, all these doesn’t interest me so I may as well skip everything and just go straight to my death.

Over the past few years I’ve been evolving spiritually, in my own ways, and that made me feel a lot better. It is a trial and error process but to me, at least I was trying.

I somehow stopped trying or remembering to try getting so caught up in the worries and practicalities of life. I was just working all the time, trying to rebuild my sense of security. I've lost sight if what I truly wanted to do.

On hindsight, whatever that happened at the turn of the year was needed to give me a huge shove out of my comfort zone and my delusion. I was caught up in the whole ‘wanting to build a comfortable life for myself and my partner’ thing.

Falling apart was the best thing that could ever have happened to me.

I was falling out of love with my work, I started to be resentful, I was falling sick. I couldn't even love my partner anymore. How could I when I couldn't even love myself?

I need to do what I had to do one year ago. Find myself. Follow my heart. Expose myself to different things. Learn. Be touched by people's lives. Find the opportunities to touch people's lives. Feel excitement again.

In short. Live.

I don’t know what I am going to do next, all I know is I need to tie up some loose ends in terms of work, and go on my journey. I don’t know what is going to happen, or if I am going to end up penniless, but I just know that this is what I have to do. I don’t have much of a choice because my soul would wither otherwise.

Travel

Travel, travel, travel, were all the words that were popping up in my mind. Go somewhere, find yourself, I hear my heart speaking.

So, when I visited a channeler (yes, go on, roll your eyes ;p) this morning, when I was barely into my first question and was just about to ask her about my intention to travel, she was already mid-way through her sentence about me needing to travel and rebuild my energy. I have grown out of this place she says. I will find what I am going to do next on my travels. (I may elaborate about my visit in another post, it was definitely interesting and positive.)

How come I’m not surprised. :)

And how come it took me so long.

I already knew, didn't I?

I am not going to let myself fall back into the same old pattern again. I am just going to go. I look back at my twenties and I'm thinking why did I not do much more when I had no financial commitments and less health problems?

In roughly a decade's time, when I am 40, I am going to look back at my thirties and be really proud of myself.

This is it: The genius who wanted to change the world but couldn’t save himself

*This post may contain spoilers if you didn't watch the movie.*

I just watched "This is it" at the movies. I was teary from the beginning, amazed during the middle and totally in tears at the end. I hope to pen down my thoughts about Michael Jackson and the movie when the after-thoughts are still fresh as there was many a time that I had very much wanted to write but just couldn't remember enough when I had time to do so. So, this may end up being totally unstructured but it is the thought that counts right?

My personal review

The movie was better than expected, though I did hope to see more of his personal side. You will see that undeniable brilliance of Michael Jackson. His genius. How he has that innate artistic ability to direct his crew at his concert. Little details like pauses longer here and there, requests for the musical beats to be simpler, how he always had to attain perfection on stage. I was blown away. Now we all know he was in such poor health and spirit, yet he was able to dance and sing for hours. He could have just gone through the motions, but no, he fussed over details, made sure his crew knew that he appreciated them, and gave them a chance to shine on stage.

I am very grateful for the chance to experience his genius by watching the movie. How he knew every inch and note of his music. How he could detect the slightest, most subtle change in the music arrangement or alter the entire effect of the choreography by moving a few seconds. How he showed his very generous and humane side by asking his female guitarist to make good use of her chance to display her own genius. He even knew how to direct in specifics for the videos to be shown during the concert. I just don't know how someone can be so extremely talented.

Watching the concert redefined the concept of "hard-work" for me. I feel sorry about all the times I complain about working hard when a quite literally broken man like MJ could work so hard.

Concert that was never to be, deserved to be shown live

I feel upset because the entire production deserved to be shown live. Seriously. To me, the world missed an amazing concert. The band and dancers were the cream of the crop, the stage production was just too good for words to describe, everyone was just putting in their best effort and talent on show. I felt very, very sorry for the crew, really. So much planning, hard work, anticipation that went into the preparation, that would never see the light of the day if not for the movie.

I don't care whether it is an attempt to cash-in on his death, it is just something that is very worth experiencing. The concert that never was did not belong to MJ alone, it is only fair that the amount of work and the come-together of all these talent get shown to the world. I really hope that many people will get to watch it, not only for the concert itself, but for all the messages MJ wanted to carry to us but never had the chance to. I cannot help the tears that come to my eyes each time I think how heartbroken and devastated the crew was because they clearly adore him and put in so much just to be able to share the stage with the great man.

On Michael's death

I actually penned half a post a few months ago after MJ passed away. To be really honest, I was never a huge fan of him and I thought he was just about snazzy dance moves and feel-good music. However, being the curious info-junkie I am, I read up quite a bit of him after his passing and was particularly moved by a tribute penned by Deepak Chopra. I was very much intrigued that the well-known spiritual teacher was a good friend of MJ and his intricate, expressive writing shed a lot of light on the sensitive, kind, soul that MJ had.

One thing led to another and before I knew it, I was re-listening to his music, pouring over his lyrics and reading up whatever that would give a little more information on the mystery of the greatly talented but visibly broken soul.

Then, I poured my thoughts and emotions into that post, but I never got to finishing it. It was too personally empathetic and I did not want anybody to perceive that I was comparing myself to the great man. I will never understand how much burden (neither will anyone else) it was to bear that sheer amount of talent but I can personally identify with the pain, self-torture and the isolation. Not to that extent of course, but that is precisely the point. What I feel on a personal level is already enough to drive me to the brink at times, what about the scale he had to endure?

A blessing & a curse

I have two theories on why so many talented artistes die young. One, is that there are not enough highly talented souls to go by on this earth so they will need to do short lifespans in order to reincarnate quickly enough to inspire generation after generation (yes I can picture you rolling your eyes now). Two, is that the burden of immense talent is just so difficult to bear that they either kill themselves (Leslie Cheung), or die of drug overdose in an attempt to nullify the pain (Heath Ledger, MJ).

I mean, can you imagine doing one mind-blowing hit or performance and the entire world expects you to churn that out on a regular basis? And if you don't, they automatically assume you're finished. The public is impatient, cruel and does not possess much empathy. Right now, I am just referring to expectations from people and I have not even started on self-expectations yet.

The one that makes you breaks you.

Apart from having to cope with the public glare, they have themselves to cope with. I am not sure which is worse. They expect themselves to out-do their previous efforts every single time. This is ironically what makes them great. The relentless pursuit of greater heights. It is also the same thing that breaks them.

It is a constant nightmare having to face the fears of regressing in terms of the quality of the work. The fear of having that sick feeling when they cannot produce something that at least matches their previous successes. Or the fear of never experiencing the feeling you get when you are at the brink of greatness, again. Or when the look of adulation and admiration in people's eyes become disappointment and distaste.

I can totally empathise why they may need substances to help them sleep or to numb their pain. I am not saying that it is the right thing to do, but I can feel why they will do anything just to shut that part of them out. That inner-critic that refuses to let go. Who repeatedly tells them that they're never good enough. The one who mocks them at being done.

I believe that artistes in general have a particularly strong sensitive nature to them and it enables them to infuse this sensitivity into their work. One who is able to be extra sensitive towards emotions, sounds, sights, sub-liminal stimulation, will be able to get inspired and project these during the creation process. I have learnt that everything is a double-edged sword. It is also the same sensitivity that makes these people prone to depression because they take everything (especially criticism or failure) personally and/or they cannot differentiate their own feelings from people's feelings.

He probably loved everything but himself

MJ was exceptionally sensitive and empathetic, you don't have to know him to know that because you can already feel it in his songs. He shows awareness singing "Man in the Mirror",  love penning the lyrics for "We are the World" and "Heal the World", sadness for the state of the world writing "Earth Song". I would feel that he is very much spiritually aware. In the movie you would see him telling his crew that "love is very important and you must love each other", and significantly, that "we are all one". Anyone with heart can feel that he genuinely cares and it is not some attempt at a publicity stunt.

It is extremely heartbreaking and ironic because he clearly felt that he had a mission to spread the message of loving the planet and people should love one another; but he couldn't love himself. He couldn't love himself enough to appreciate his natural good looks, he didn't love himself enough to overcome all the negative criticisms, he didn't love himself enough to tell himself that he was already perfect enough being himself and he didn't have to be better looking or to keep on achieving greater heights just to prove to himself and the world that – he deserved being loved.

It certainly didn't help that the world is particularly harsh and judgmental. He was different, he was an unique individual who was so severely misunderstood as being weird and he had to pay the price for it. He was meant to be nurtured and protected, but all we did was to expose it to abuse and judgment, like we tend to do to everything that does not feel similar or familiar to us.

Before anyone should want to criticise him, they should consider that they will never be able to understand the internal and external pressure he had to face; so what makes them feel that they will do better in his shoes?

Quantum Touched

It is funny how life turns out sometimes. It is just not easy to see the humour in it when you're going through the process yourself.

A lot of stuff has been going on since I've last written over here. Most of it has been internal – within me. My intention when I first started this blog was to share how I had gotten over the darkest periods of my life. I have honestly believed that I have left those days behind me.
On the front, it seems like I have almost all I've ever wanted. I have a fairly stable solo business that enables me the freedom to work from anywhere I want (technically), I have a partner who loves me to bits and shares the same life goals, family issues that have plagued me during my youth were no longer existent.

I was not earning big bucks or that I can afford to relax and be stress free, but come on, it is not as if I have some life-threatening situation or like I am working to cover a mountain of debt.

But I just was not happy.

And I simply grew increasingly unhappy. So unhappy that I kept having mental and emotional meltdowns on a frequent basis. The scary part was that I do not even know why exactly am I so unhappy.

I still feel blessed and grateful for all that I have, but somehow, something is just wrong somewhere. Perhaps I knew what was wrong, but I was just in denial. I had written about what could be wrong on this blog before, but somehow I thought that I may just fix it with sheer bull will.

Burning out for a reason

I wrote a post a while ago after falling into a drain, that I had felt strongly about pursuing 'the other path'. I remember back then that I decided that I should let my current work take a backseat and go all out to pursue what they call 'lightwork'.

That decision somehow fizzled out because I had to relocate my residence plus I went to Tokyo and all the expenses did not allow me to feel like I can simply stop working and just be a student.

Apart from financial reasons, I thought I may be burnt out due to other reasons: overworking myself, undercharging, taking the wrong mix of work, etc.

I just did not think I can simply say goodbye to a career and passion that my life has revolved around for the past decade.

Design was something that could make or break me.

I was slowly growing in realisation that it may not be simply due to fatigue. I was not working during the ten days I spent in Tokyo and it did not help a single bit. I no longer feel excited about my projects and I have been feeling this way for the past six months to a year? Our emotions are a good indicator of whether we are fulfilling our purposes or if we are on the paths intended for us. My increasing bouts of depression started from gentle reminders to rude alarm bells – I am not doing what I should be doing. Whatever that I am doing now is obviously not making me happy. And I may have exhausted my best effort.

I feel like I am wasting precious time on earth. Getting eaten up slowly everyday.

Maybe my thought process has been too extreme. I did not need to think that one has to go in order for one to come in. I just need to acknowledge the other is growing in strength and I no longer loved the original one as much as I did. If we should spend time on things in order of how much we feel towards them, then it is simply put out to me that I have to spend more time on my 'other path' and let design work take a backseat.

No matter how financially difficult it could be. No matter how difficult it is for me to admit that I no longer want to revolve my life around a passion that I have built my life around.

Remembering how passion feels like

I remember how it all used to be for me. The excitement of opening a design program, drawing pixels and letting everything fall into space intuitively. Now, in order to be the true professional I want to be, every design decision is thought through really hard – will this confuse users? Will something else work better? Am I breaking new ground here? I don't want this website to end up looking like the last one, or like other typical gradient-laden websites. Or the worst case scenario – will this look like crap in IE?

Sometimes I feel, the field of web design takes out the joy of creating. At least for me. It can be upsetting to realise that being good at something doesn't equate to liking that something.

I miss designing for the fun of it. Not for the client, not for the users, not for the money. Just for fun. It had been something difficult to do because I so much wanted to excel at it that the process has been over-rationalised. The beauty of the web is ironically what kills it for me – the transience, the dynamism, the technology.

I miss laying out words and pictures meant for paper. It is altogether a different set of problems for print. Is this legible? Will this look good in black and white? Can I use special inks or varnishes for this? How about different paper or cuts? They are problems that I miss. I miss seeing my work printed, I miss feeling my work in my hands.

Earlier today, or rather, yesterday evening, I caught a whiff of how it feels like to be passionate about something. I have long forgotten how it feels like until just now.

Serendipity

I enrolled in a course shortly after I moved residence in June. Despite feeling tired after the move, despite having tons of work to do, despite many other factors, I somehow signed up for it anyway. It was not something I looked for. Serendipity works in the most amazing ways. Do you know how it came about?

It came about because I was (along with some other volunteers) searching for a missing rescued dog some when in May. To be really honest, I did not even feel like it when the call came in on a lazy Sunday afternoon. I was looking forward to resting during the weekend and searching aimlessly under the hot sun was not my idea of rest. However, the rescued dog was deeply insecure and afraid of humans, it would require every effort to be found again for the sake of its own safety. The thought of it getting knocked down by cars during possible confusion, getting caught by the authorities, or getting cooked for a good meal by foreign workers, overcame any hesitation.

It turned out that the fosterer who was taking care of the dog is a dog trainer. We had a chance to converse when we were waiting to lure the dog out from some forest foliage. She, was one of the very few humans in Singapore, who did not stare at me with *that* look when I mentioned that I have taken a animal communication course before. In fact, her eyes lighted up and was very interested to find out more. Don't you think it is amazing how you somehow 'stumble' into people with similar 'out of this world' interests when you start pursuing them?

With the knowledge that my partner and I were both interested in animals and alternative modalities, she asked if we were interested to form a small group to learn Quantum Touch.

Keeping the faith

I have already went through an Angels Miracles workshop and also an animal communication workshop last year with very limited results on my side because despite my deep beliefs regarding the magic of the Universe, I have a rather rational side to me as well as a mind that doesn't really like to quieten down (a focused mind with good visualization powers is essential for most spiritual work).

Somehow, I just kept the faith. If I feel it in my heart that I want to do it, I may not get it for now but it will eventually come to me.

I thought it would be nice for our animal volunteer work if I could learn some healing modalities (and eventually learn how to talk to them). Our animal communication teacher told us that we may want to consider learning Reiki but which I did do some research into but it just did not fall into place or feel right. When the dog trainer brought up Quantum Touch, I was like, why not? The method or technique does not matter as long as allows the subject to feel better.

Energy works

And just now, I felt it with my own hands – Energy.

It was our first workshop and within a couple of hours, we were trying out on one another. I took it with a pinch of salt since the previous other workshops were not too successful for me. Yet, it was there for me to feel. Light pulses at my fingertips. My partner's backache went away after I tried it on her. I felt the accumulated pain due to sitting for long hours in my back seemingly lighten. I saw bones aligning in the training video, stuff that professional chiropractors deemed impossible.

I just knew it in my heart there and then. This is the work I truly want to do. Not just Quantum Touch, but I want to keep on learning, marry all the modalities and experiences I have accumulated and be able to touch people and animals in my own unique way.

I may not be successful at getting my dog to talk to me right now, but I believe once I get over the stage of taking control over my mind, it will come to me. I have to take care of a fearful, aggressive dog right now, and can you imagine what difference it will make to its life and its people if I am able to rehabilitate it?

Finding my way (repeatedly but consistently)

Just the thought of it makes me happy. And I hope I will be able to do it not only for mine, but for those poor rescued animals who had been traumatized in one way or another.

The added bonus is – my partner is on the same path as me (you have no idea how rare this can be). Apart from the mutual support (imagine a partner that goes, ya...right.), it is that synergy, the common beliefs and shared vision; and in future, the partnership. I feel that she is clairvoyant and clairaudient wheras I am more clairsentient and claircognizant, so we should make a good partnership.

At this point if you're not yet rolling your eyes, thank you. To my business associates and clients, no I am not giving up on my design work, I just need to recalibrate it a bit. I would like to be able to think of work as fun.

I just finished reading "Eat, Pray, Love" by Elizabeth Gilbert (will post a review soon) and she gave me a ray of hope in trying to get my mind to quieten. I never thought my mind would ever shut up, but after reading her experience (her mind sounds like mine), I have renewed hope for mine.

I plan to really cut down on design work (time to be really selective), pack up my new place (it has been 2 months and it still looks horrible because I am just either working or moping and my poor partner is doing it on her own), continue my Soul Realignment course (it has been put on hold because my place is in a mess and I can't be in a state of mind to do such work), try out Quantum Touch on myself and my immediate family (dogs and partner first), and see where it all brings me.

Getting the little aggressive dog in my household to calm down will be a good testimonial and start.

Let me have the strength to continue my journey with not too many detours. I know some are inevitable, so I am just asking for less. That is not too much to ask for, right? :)

I have been self-sabotaging my own decisions for quite a while now and I would like the courage to be able to stick to them.

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.

How the Universe worked its magic on me

I have been buried in work, which in turn makes me feel like crap because I can't seem to output anything that is of my own standards when there are deadlines everyday. I can point fingers at client-side delays inducing clashed schedules, unexpected events in my personal life (passing away of an uncle), bad luck (falling into a drain), but I won't.

Deep down in my heart, I know I can blame nobody but myself for the situation I was in.

Positive intentions, bad execution

The intention started out positively. All I wanted was to kick-start my travel plans, so I took in more work to steady myself financially, believing that I will have the strength to overcome tight schedules and an increase of workload with the bigger picture in sight. There were also a couple of local startups in need of design help, I have always been a supporter of local talents and I felt that it was something I could do to give back.

I ignored that little voice.

That little voice that tells me that I was risking over-extending myself, taking my energy for granted and that I should think carefully whether I was capable of survival myself before offering my help to anyone else.

On hindsight, perhaps I was meant to go through this period. It was the much needed splash of cold water on my face, telling me that I need to respect myself and my time more. That it is not to be taken for granted that I can work any piece of canvas into well-crafted websites. My own carelessness taught me a harsh lesson as I started to produce work that nauseated me.

Falling into that pit again, quite literally

I am not sure why, but I seem to be overly harsh to myself. Each stumble I made, I cruelly chastised myself for being inefficient, unproductive, incapable, ill-disciplined, whatever negative word I can think of to describe myself. The high expectations upon myself is a double-edged sword. I could feel the shadows of my depression overcoming me once again. I felt my life-force slowing draining away from me.

It is just work, right? I know. I just cannot tolerate myself for stepping into this vicious cycle, or ignoring my gut feel. I reminded myself repeatedly that my issues are non-issues compared to warring countries and starving children; I just can not help feeling as though I was sinking deeper and deeper into a bottomless pit.

When I fell into a drain amidst really tight deadlines for my work, I started laughing at myself. No, I was not going mental because of the unfortunate events, but rather I was getting amused. I looked up at the sky above and asked, "What else?". Amazingly, despite the really bad cuts on my leg and bruised ribs, I knew I was blessed. I knew I have been riding on my luck because I did not have any serious physical injuries since I was a kid. I knew the fall could have been worse, I could have ended up really badly injured rather than just cuts and bruises.

The magic begins

I had ordered a few books from Amazon.com a few days before and for unknown reasons, they shipped half of my order by UPS even though I did not pay for it. In this particular shipment there was a book by Michael Newton – "Destiny of Souls". I have read Newton's first book on past life regression and hypnotherapy many months back and was totally fascinated with it. I put his second book on my shopping list for a long while and have only decided to buy it after I needed to buy a few other design-related books as well.

Michael Newton holds a PhD. in Counseling Psychology and has been a professional hypnotherapist for years before accidentally regressing one of his cases to his past life. Since then he has handled thousands of cases, regressing them into their past lives and also in between lives. He was an atheist with a logical, scientifically trained mind and it took him quite a while to reconcile what he was experiencing.

This was mind-opening for me personally, because though I have always believed in higher powers, it is altogether different when a doctor writes a book detailing thousands of recorded cases. Thousands of people from different walks of life, many non-religious, but providing very similar information pointing to dimensions beyond us.

The Universe conspires

Due to my fall I was not able to work for a day as I was in considerable pain, forced to be bedridden. This is why I always say, we can all have the best laid plans but the Universe usually have other ideas for us. Co-incidentally (no, actually I don't believe in co-incidences anymore) the books arrived by UPS within a few days after the order! I have ordered books from Amazon many times before and this is the first time they despatched my order into two within the same day, to two different postal carriers. The usual wait is two weeks at least but this time I ordered on a Friday and received them on Monday morning. I had time to read the book because I cannot do much except to be in bed.

I finished the book while nursing my wounds, throughout the read I was constantly getting reminded what life is all about. The book was gradually pulling me out of my self-built pit and was somehow gently telling me that I have better things to do than mope (which I have already known but was too caught up with perceived practicalities of life).

Remembering

I was still contemplating about the contents of the book when I had to reply to an email by my spiritual mother (long story) and was halfway lamenting about my sorry situation before it dawned upon me that this is not the way I want to spend my life. Moping. I want to remember my life as a life I am proud of, not a life full of wallowing in self-pity.

I can be plagued by a series of unfortunate events but so what? There is no point in feeling 'unlucky'. It does not do anything to help the situation. When one stops fearing misfortune and the unknown, one achieves a sense of liberation. I have been blessed enough to be aware enough not to be tied down too much by the supposed practicalities of life and the reality set down upon me by others, but being human I kept losing my way. I accept this because this is part of the human experience. No matter how spiritually aware one can be, there is always bound to be ups and downs, greater challenges than the previous one. This is the point of life. To keep learning. I am grateful because somehow I am being guided back to the path intended for me. Silently and steadily.

When one stops fearing misfortune and the unknown, one achieves a sense of liberation.

I understand that I will need to learn how to cope with my overwhelming emotions and underwhelming self-image. It cannot be expected to be eradicated so soon after a lifetime of deep-routed programming and god knows how many past life-times.

My obsession with past-lives

My spiritual mother (yes this sounds funny but I cannot think of a better term), Julia, once commented I am the only person she knows that is so obsessed about past-lives. While signing up for the Soul Realignment course, Andrea Hess told me that I would not want to sign up if I am not able to do it. Thinking about this along the same line, perhaps there is a reason why I am obsessed and intrigued about past lives. There is a reason for every soul's desire, right?

So halfway typing the email to Julia (yes I have an issue with digression) I realised that this is what I really want to do and why not? What is stopping me? To be honest, I am afraid to cope financially. This a rational fear and I am sure many others while seeking their way to their goals feel the same as well. However, this time I am determined not to let it stop me. Pursuing my spiritual interests has been part of me for a long while now and why should I not? I can only get too impatient and eager to learn.

In denial

Perhaps I have been in denial about my work for a long time. Each time I think it is a passing phase caused by stress, but it has been a long time since I genuinely feel excited about a design project. The catch-22 situation here is, perhaps if I can find ways to diversify my income streams, I would not face so much pressure from my design work and that will enable me to produce work of a higher quality, and that will in turn allow me to work with better clients and budgets, which will also allow me to rediscover my love for design again. It is very much a part of me, so much a part of me that I am afraid to let go.

Yet I know I have to let it go first in order to find it back again. This applies to a lot in life isn't it?

Why spiritual therapy

I have had irrational fears, behaviors, reactions, inexplicable happenings. I had felt I do not belong to this world. There are just too many things in this world that cannot be explained by logic. When I was a child I never understood why I had to live, the thing is, people are so afraid of death right, most of them want to live. For me, everyday I wished for death. I did not know why. To be honest I never had a particularly harsh childhood, there was a lot of rejection and emotional pain but it was not as though I was made to beg on the streets.

Awakening spiritually was a life-turning point for me.I still don't quite get it why we have to progress spiritually in order to rejoin the Source one day, like why even start this process in the first place, or why was there even a Source in the beginning. However, it meant a lot to me that there are reasons why I have certain feelings.

I realise (thank god for the internet!) that there are many others like me. They are still in the minority, and there are many who did not have the luck or blessing to experience spiritual support (like I have Julia with me) or an awakening process. I know how it feels like to feel alienated and weird and I feel that I can learn to provide some form of support to these people.

I went through a Soul Realignment reading for myself and introduced Julia to it. We both found it really beneficial in different ways individually, it brought a lot of clarity to what we have been experiencing in the past.

Imagine being able to remember why you came into this life, why you have seemingly unresolvable issues with a parent, why you are afraid of heights or water, why you have an unexplainable pain in a certain part of your body. There is always the conflict of – perhaps we're not supposed to know that much, but I am slowly believing in 'when the student is ready, the teacher appears'. We're supposed to gain the information we are already meant to know.

I feel my empathy is gifted to me for a reason. This will not be my only stop. I have a deep-rooted interest to learn spiritual regression, animal communication, alternative healing, the list goes on. I am not sure when I will be equipped to actually provide any help, but I will know it when the time comes. I hope to blend whatever knowledge I will eventually acquire into some form of personalised support to people drawn to seek my help. I hope to be a conduit in some form because I had felt helpless before and I know how much difference it makes to have means of support and empathy.

This is what I desire, I do not know if I will eventually succeed or if I will lack the patience to persevere but at this very moment I will give it my best shot.

Stop feeding the fear mongers

They are not worth our precious time and energy.

Perhaps I was naive to think that things will settle down after the AWARE EGM – it has opened a can of worms that probably most of us would wish that it had remained closed, the Singapore government included.

I grew increasingly disturbed and worried as I chanced upon comment after comment that reeked of homophobia and narrow-mindedness. The news of MOE (Ministry of Education) suspending the sex education program made me start to seriously wonder what is going to come next. A witch-hunt?

Just when we think that the media censorship laws have gradually relaxed and the society seemed to be progressing, now it just seems like we are almost back to square one.

Many thoughts went through my mind as I came up with retort after retort, full of logic and reasoning, why people should stop being so near-sighted and judgmental. I was prepared to write a long post, making a clear argument on why all this paranoia is just plain ridiculous.

'The other side'

Until I came across a few blog entries and comments from 'the other side' – the side that believes that homosexuals are just headed for hell and that raising kids with 'the right values' is the apparent right thing to do. There were other people like me, who tried to reason their way through by making comments, and looking at the written exchange, I came to a realisation.

There is no point reasoning or arguing out with people who are just not willing to listen in the first place. Reading most of the conversations between the pro-gay and the anti-gay are like trying to understand a conversation between a chicken and a duck. One party can make a perfect argument but if the other party is not willing to see beyond his/her own viewpoint, they can go on forever and nothing will be concluded.

Alienation

Being marginalized personally for most of my life, I was actually almost immune to it. However, the scale of the matter this time caught me by surprise and I could not help but worry about the homophobia surfacing into the mainstream society. It is like the AWARE issue has forced many to take a stand and have a say, especially when their precious kids are concerned.

Prior to the AWARE hijacking, everybody went about their own business, the very most, conservatives would sometimes stare and mutter words of disgust to themselves. Now, the publicity and scale are somehow making many of the 'traditional' family-oriented people jump on the anti-gay bandwagon.

Ironically being gay is the least of what I have been marginalized for. I was made to feel like an alien because of my academic success (or the lack of it), my career path, my choice of hairstyle, a whole long list actually, and more recently, my spiritual beliefs.

People give me strange looks all the time, and that includes my very own relatives. Like the uncle who snorted when I told him I was running my own business. Friends roll their eyes when I talk about astrological charts and reincarnation. Strangers stare because of my spiky short hair (yes, girls must keep their hair long and flowy).

All these made me stronger, but not without much pain and tears. I have grown to be proud of my individuality and identity. What I have learnt through all these experiences is, there is only so much you can do to change a person's mind.

There are people who will listen, these are the ones who are not judgmental in the first place. Those who judge, are typically people who do not have it in them to open their minds to another viewpoint. The third category, are people who believe very strongly in their own beliefs, so firmly that nothing will change their mind unless they personally experience otherwise.

I generally do not have a problem who stick to their own belief systems, the issue only comes when there is a lack of respect in the belief systems of others. The extreme end of this spectrum, are people who deliberately incite fear and hatred.

Playing into their hands

It suddenly dawned upon me, by reacting negatively to these fear-mongers, I am simply playing into their hands. Negative feelings drain our energy. These people get a kick out of seeing us getting upset. The best way to deal with them, is either react positively, or choose to not react at all. It is just like dealing with people who are (consciously) abusive. They continue their abuse because the fear shown by their victims gives them a sense of power. The only way to dis-empower them is to stop the fear.

Having not much of a sex education in school did not make me less or more gay. Having a rigid education system depressed me more than it made me 'equipped' for society. Facing nay-sayers all my life did not dilute my individuality.

My take on the sex-ed program and 'concerned parents'

They can do whatever they want with the sex education program. I believe the targeted age group (12-18) will form their own judgments (or non-judgments) with or without a sex-ed program. The 'impressionable' ones, I am sorry to say, will still be impressionable by other sources even if the sex-ed program preaches all the 'right' values. Food for thought, would a 'concerned parent' be happier if their kid leads a double life in order to upkeep the 'right values'? It does not have to be an extreme case like a married man having a boyfriend on the side (though there are plenty of these around), there are plenty of people out there who are so internally conflicted that they cannot even bear to face themselves. Kids who live the 'right' way but end up extremely unhappy will make these parents happy and proud indeed (can't help the sarcasm, sorry).

Good will eventually prevail

I personally believe that whatever goes around comes around. I also believe in the good old fashioned 'good will prevail over evil'. Just as they would like to believe 'evil' gay people like us will be damned, I believe people who deny the minorities their rights and respect will have to bear the consequences one day. The government, for being overly conservative, will one day have to face repercussions (please stop complaining when there is a mass exodus of talent).

Nobody has the power to change my beliefs if I carry a strong conviction towards them, thus I understand that I do not have the power to change anybody else's.

However, I have the freedom and the right to express myself, that includes leading a fulfilling life and contributing to the causes I support. There will be people, however few, who will honestly question themselves, if I deserve to be in hell, simply by being in love with another girl.

Do not play in their hands any longer by feeling any ounce of anger, instead, focus on doing our own part (whether by setting a positive example or by positive advocacy, we just need to answer to ourselves.

I am not afraid to be judged if judgment day comes because I hold nothing but truth and love. On the contrary, am not so sure about the ones who incite fear and hatred. I therefore hope that one day love can open their eyes to God's unconditional and non-judgmental love.

Reasons for feeling insulted, disturbed & hurt by the new AWARE leadership

I have avoided writing about the anti-gay sentiments put out by the new AWARE executive committee (exco) because I feel that being in support of the old guard has nothing got to do about anti-gay vs pro-gay, but about women's rights in general. Till I got increasingly disturbed by their anti-gay statements, which I cannot put in words exactly how disturbed I feel to be reading the comments made by them.

They say we are very often abused by our fathers

This was one of the most disturbing ones:

"On a personal front, I've given ministered, I've counselled them. So you need to understand I'm not talking about... They are in pain. And very often...where you have abusive fathers, they do things with their daughters and the daughters revolt, rebel against society. We understand this is what it's all about." – Dr Thio Su Mien

Excuse me?! My father is one of the nicest men you will ever meet and he will feel very personally insulted and hurt to read this. I seriously do not think this self-proclaimed 'feminist mentor' should be even allowed to speak in public with all the insulting rubbish she is spouting.

I cannot decide whether I am petrified or amused that such narrow and un-evolved minds exist in women who had been highly educated and possess high-flying careers. These are the very same women who now want to fight for gender equality.

So, according to the new exco, led by 'feminist mentor' Thio Su Mien, me and my peace-loving, society-contributing gay community are criminals, abnormal, wicked, anti-family – basically in their eyes we do not seem to warrant a place in society, supposed to be abused and in pain.

The consequences & implications

Speaking from the bottom of my heart, I really wonder if they have considered all the implications and consequences before making such statements and having such beliefs? Is there even an absolute truth in anything? Did they even consider the feelings of people like us, or even the youth who are confused about their sexuality? To be marginalised and criminalised in this manner, to be made to feel as though as we do not belong anywhere, have they even stopped to think for a second if they may be causing a lot of hurt?

Supposing if they win the EOGM, and the possibility that the new sex education material is made to reflect homosexuality as a negative word, would there be a possibility that young, talented, confused minds will be driven to depression, or even suicide? What about influencing young minds into being homophobic individuals, subjecting their 'abnormal' peers to gay-bashing and discrimination?

Brainwash people to be gay?

I did not have an abusive father, sorry to disappoint Dr Thio, I do not remember having sex education in my school days, and homosexuality in my era was largely a taboo subject. There were no gay films, no gay propaganda, no media reporting on homosexuality, almost zilch.

Having no gay 'influence' when I was young did not stop me from falling in love with another girl. For me personally, for many of my gay friends, being gay has nothing much to do with preference for bedding the same sex. It is as simple as falling in love with another person. We just don't feel the same for the opposite sex, does that make us less of a human?

Why can't the new exco and paranoid parents simply realise that presenting homosexuality in a neutral perspective does not brainwash your precious kid into being gay? If your kid is gay, even if the poor kid is blocked off the entire media will do nothing much to change how he/she feels. You can probably threaten to disown the kid, make her/him marry someone, have kids, but do you even know how much more pain and suffering that causes for the person and the people involved? What about the marriage partner who was deceived into believing that their partner loves him/her?

The reverse is also true, if your kid is not gay, no amount of external influence can change that as well. I have plenty of straight friends who loves going to gay parties, watch gay films, hang out with gay people, but they would still rather be with the opposite sex. There is a healthy mutual respect, a mutual respect which would be in danger for the youth if the new exco manages to have their way.

Personally

I am proud to be who I am. I am in a committed relationship with a partner who loves me more than anything in this world, despite and in spite of my flaws; and I feel the same way for her. We are both doing our best for the causes we believe in – animal welfare and environmentalism. We like to give our time to stray animals whenever possible, she recycles everything that can possibly be recycled. We are not well off, but we are contented with what we have and are both working very hard to pursue our individual dreams. She has been my pillar of support, I would not be where I am today if not for her. Yet, according to Dr Thio, the new exco and their church, we should both seek cures (read an example of their supposed cure program). We have done nothing wrong except to love each other with our hearts, yet in the eyes of the new exco, we are dysfunctional and really need to repent.

I am lucky. My parents accept me for the person I am, we go out all together for family outings and occasions. My mom asks about my partner if she could not be present for some reason. I am out to everyone who knows me personally. I never had a friend who ended our friendship upon knowing I am gay. In fact, I never really had someone dear to me shake their heads in sadness and look at me with pity or distaste, but the harsh reality is, there are plenty of people who are subject to such discriminatory and hurting behavior.

Being in the minority has allowed me to be sensitive to other minorities. From my very own spiritual perspective, I see it as a blessing. I feel the pain and hurt when people exhibit discriminative behavior towards other minorities, be it the foreign workers, other races, etc. In fact, in many parts of the world, Asians are being discriminated upon as well. I do not feel it is fair to discriminate anybody if you do not want to be discriminated upon as well.

Mis-informed judgement

I deliberated for a very long time whether I should write this post. Like I mentioned previously, I am out to everyone who knows me personally, but I have never mentioned anything about my sexuality on my own websites, because the possibility of being judged by business associates and clients. I do not think that it is fair to be judged if people do not have the chance to get to know me personally first. That is the precise point I am trying to make. It is not fair to make a sweeping statement representative of gay people if you have not personally experienced their personal lives and relationships.

Yet I eventually decided to write this post, just like how I decided to out myself to everyone I know when I was in my youth, because I believe people will accept me for the person I am and not base it on my sexuality. People who make pre-judgments would not really appreciate me for me anyway.

Lack of empathy

I do not think the new AWARE exco has once stopped to put themselves in the shoes of gay people, or in the shoes of those parents who have gay children. They simply do not understand or empathise and is only concerned on their own selfish agenda of doing things THEIR right way.

Think about those teens who are already confused about their sexuality prior to this whole AWARE saga and take a moment to imagine how they would feel now. Take their adolescent sensitivity into consideration, their pain of not being accepted by society and the people they love, and being labelled as abnormal, disgusting, and other tons of negative words the new exco and their church have used.

Resetting my priorities and perspectives due to shame

The past few days, if not weeks, have been hugely reflective for me. It seems like a major conspiracy from the universe to wake me up from my deep slumber. I have been feeling quite disturbed for a long while now, it has been such a while that I do not even remember when did it all start.

The issue on the surface

I have always prided myself for loving what I do and being able to do what I love. This has not been entirely accurate lately and it has been bugging me from my deepest consciousness. It eats me up slowly.

Is it because:

  • I have overworked myself
  • I have taken up web projects because of the freedom it entails me and perhaps being a print designer at heart I am actually trying to condition myself into settling for less because it gives me more
  • The projects themselves are not interesting enough
  • It is not about the work but the issue is me

The deeper, actual issues

The above questions to myself may be the cause of my dissatisfaction partially, but my gut (or my higher self) tells me there is more to it.

I have been neglecting the bigger picture.

The bigger picture has never been the work itself. Would I be satisfied and truly happy if I am doing the best work or the most interesting projects? If I imagine myself as one of the best-recognised designers right now, will that take away all my dissatisfaction? If I had less work now and have the chance to rest, will that make me feel significantly better?

A couple of years ago I have realised that even if I was doing the best work, earning the best keep, I would not really be satisfied, I would not lie on my deathbed and smile, telling myself that I have lived a good life. What is the point of even if I were to be recognised as one of the best? It does nothing except to feed my ego and probably I can tell myself I have been one of the best designers – but what comes after that? This is not meant to be any disrespect to the best designers out there now, honestly, just that different factors make different people happy, and I would not say that being one of the best makes me truly happy. I love my work but it is just not what my life should revolve around.

The picture changes significantly when one is able to contribute to the greater good with the work. I have always been a fan of Stefan Sagmeister, not because of his creative, provocative work, but rather that the messages he carries by just being himself. The work he does encourages people to be themselves, not get sold into the whole materialistic lifestyle and most importantly, to pursue your dream. Or one of those industrial designers who designs something that enables handicapped people to move more freely, for example. Or the copywriter who conceptualises the ad that carries a life-changing message to the mass public.

Yet I asked myself honestly if I thought I would ever touch people in this manner and the answer was no. It is not because I am pouring cold water on myself, but a very honest assessment of my own self. I have been doing consistently good work, but it has never been in that league. I will not say never ever, but the possibility is really remote.

What truly makes me happy on my deathbed

One of my facebook contacts had linked an article that profiled a woman with the highest recorded IQ, and the article questioned if one was obligated to use his/her natural high intelligence to 'change the world'. I remember responding to it on facebook, commenting that not everybody has to be Obamas to contribute positively to the world. I really do believe in all of us having the ability to contribute in our own unique ways, however small or supposedly insignificant it may be. The point of it is to have the intention or desire. One small gesture may change someone else's life. I have had other people's small gestures that significantly changed mine.

I slowly came to the conclusion that I will be happy on my deathbed if I had the chance to contribute to the world in my own ways, and if I had the courage to do what my heart tells me to. I actually came to this conclusion quite a few years ago, but in the middle of all the work and worries about the practicalities of life, I have gotten lost. My work has taken up so much of my time that I no longer had time to do things that I deeply cared about or that I originally set out to accomplish.

Success in the typical sense will not feed the soul, because we will always want more. Creativity declines when the soul is not being fed. I guess this makes up a lot of the reason why I have been feeling like something is withering inside me.

I slowly came to the conclusion that I will be happy on my deathbed if I had the chance to contribute to the world in my own ways, and if I had the courage to do what my heart tells me to. I actually came to this conclusion quite a few years ago, but in the middle of all the work and worries about the practicalities of life, I have gotten lost.

The conspiracy that woke me up

As I mentioned earlier, I have been feeling disturbed but I only started an in-depth interrogation within myself only when I was clearing my Google Reader's feeds and discovered that quite a few  high-profile personalities in the web industry have written about their stress-levels, work-related depression and significant decisions to do something about it. One has called it quits to his freelance career and returned to employment, one has decided to halt his thriving small business, another has gone on to another level by revolutionizing his life.

I asked myself what was I going to do about mine. In order to know what I needed to do, I have to find out the root of the issue first. That started my whole self-analysis. That was not all.

Feeling ashamed

I was extremely ashamed, yes ashamed of my own lack of guts when I saw Susan Boyle's courage to take the stage despite the expected public ridicule of her age and looks, while I would not even go anywhere anything that resembles a stage. I was totally envious and ashamed again when fellow local blogger Adrianna, at the tender age of 24, escaped a suicide bomb blast in Yemen by a twist of fate, not because she was there for work, but she was touring the Middle East by herself because she wanted to. Like seriously? I have reservations touring just South-east Asia by myself and someone else is enjoying her life and death tour to the Middle East?

I can continue to cite many more examples that made me look at myself and shake my head. That I am sitting here, being troubled about my work and not having enough guts or determination to change the situation. That I am moping while someone almost lost his life when he offered himself to the pirates as a hostage in exchange for the release of his crew, women in South Africa are getting raped to 'correct' them of their homosexuality. I feel very ashamed to have allowed mundane issues to depress me, when there is actually much greater pain and suffering out there – not to mention that there are people who are doing actual meaningful work with their lives at risk, some without a penny to their name.

Rectifying the situation

I do not want too much more of my life to tick by and lessen the time to do whatever I need to do to make myself proud at my own deathbed. This has been an on-going merry-go-round for me because I have been aware and yet getting lost repeatedly. I want to share and set my intentions openly with all of you. I may not succeed at first try, but at the very least I want to try.

The list of intentions consists of things I would like to do that I feel will bring back my passion for my work, as well as actions I can initiate in order to aid my quest to lessen my stress levels and increase the quality of my life, plus some perspectives of life in general I should constantly remind myself of in order to be grateful and not wasteful (the rhyming is not intentional ;p). Lastly, I want to consciously increase the opportunities that will allow me to contribute positively in my own ways, within my own capacity, as much as possible.

  • I want to learn hand-lettering. Looking at type, especially hand-drawn type, makes my heart skip a beat. I did not think I would be good at it so I never really tried because I suck at drawing anything by hand, but I do believe that anyone can learn almost anything if they set their heart to it. If I start drawing circles now perhaps by the time I'm 40 I may be remotely good at it. I should stop having the mentality that I am too old to start learning how to draw. (stifles laughter at myself)
  • I should not give up on doing things I truly love because it seems difficult to.
  • I must try to find more me-time and time for non-commercial creative projects to feed myself creatively.
  • I really need to look into how I can gauge myself more accurately and stop overloading myself with work because it is my number one stress factor. I will consciously finish whatever I have to do on hand and re-look into the type of work I should be working on in order to create a better creative and time balance.
  • I will also need to look into diversifying my income streams, especially the passive ones, which I do not even have one yet.
  • I want to explore other avenues of interest apart from design. I have always been interested in spirituality topics - perhaps more workshops?
  • Travel plans are still in place and will take place soon. This is important because I feel called to do so. I have a feeling this will open up the doors to more avenues for contributions.
  • Find ways and time to contribute more to the causes I support. I have been neglecting to give to my causes because I have been so caught up in my own work.
  • Should really start meditating regularly and having proper exercise soon. The health needs to be taken care of in order to have the ability to accomplish more.
  • Constantly remind myself to be grateful and to be aware of the suffering of other beings. That I should focus my energy on meaningful matters than to get myself down over minuscule matters compared to people starving in third world countries and people dying in wars. This is extreme yes, but it is real. There are people and animals who are really suffering out there and I feel upset with myself for feeling like it is the end of the world when I encounter small setbacks.
  • To not let fear affect my life and my desire to be true.
  • Spend more time writing to share my experiences so that some souls may benefit from it.
  • Write more openly and honestly on this blog about myself, my fears and failures, not worry about what the negative reactions to my honesty, and instead focus on those who appreciates me for me.
  • Give my best in trying to do what I want to do, but try not to let myself get attached to the outcomes, and not let my desire for self-improvement become unrealistic self-expectations. It is the journey that counts, not the destination.
  • Understand that while it is nice to be doing great and interesting work, ultimately whatever work I do should enable me to live out my purpose and live my life the way I want. I should never give up on finding the best compromise though – between the quality of life and the quality of work.

I hope I have not bored all of you to tears with my list and it will also be nice if any of you can share some of yours with me. :)

My Feelings & thoughts – whom they belong

I've always somehow prided myself on my emotions and imagination, thoughts and ideas. I could write, and still can, time permitting, pages after pages of words. I was the kid who kept asking for additional paper during examinations, much to the suspicion of the examiners. They raised their eyebrows when I asked for not one, not two, but like five pieces of additional paper, and would frown with concern when I would fall asleep after 30 minutes of writing. "Are you not feeling well", they would ask, and then looked in disbelief when I would sleepily show them the pieces of paper, messily stapled, but written to the maximum, on both sides.

There was this part of my brain that would seem to effortlessly string up the words, formulate the ideas, structure the thought-forms. Being able to write was my pride and joy, and was my much needed comfort when I did miserably with my math and science.

I have kept a journal for the longest time. In my childhood it was the traditional type that had a tiny lock and key, and when the internet age caught up I maintained an online locked journal, documenting my darkest, deepest thoughts and feelings. At the lowest points of my life, I would remember pouring my heart and soul into words, and somehow, someway, the dark clouds in my mind would automatically lift mid way through my writing. My thoughts seemed to straighten themselves out through my own written words, pointing out the silver lining or the wider perspective that I never seemed to notice prior to journaling.

Journaling was therapeutic, which I attributed to writing being able to sort out my thoughts in a clear and structured manner.

Communication of another dimension

Erin Pavlina's blog was the first blog I read that focused on spirituality. I remember having read about spirit guides somewhere before, but Erin's blog was, and still is, one of the most comprehensive resource on spirituality and spirit guides. I began to wonder about the existence of my own guide/guides, and of course, I have an un-quenchable curiosity of the unknown. I think most people would want to know what their own guides have to say.

And so the quest began. I tried guided meditations and visualisations, went to an angels workshop, tried to learn how to communicate with animals at an animal communication workshop, and tried guided meditations again. My mind is over-active, to the point whereby I suffer from chronic insomnia because I have a problem trying to shut it off. I realised I was not really good at visualising because my mind does not seem to like holding any images for more than a few seconds, before getting interrupted by a random thought. My mind runs so fast that I suspect I myself cannot catch up most of the time.

I did not seem to be able to get much results trying to communicate telepathically, be it with my dogs or attempting to connect to my guides. Was it because of a noisy mind, or some self doubt, or there was really a psychic block? Perhaps a combination of the mentioned.

Perhaps the answer is...

My curiosity perpetually seems to get the better of me as I reckoned since I could not connect to my guides on my own, I would still want to know more about them. Thus, I went ahead to order a spirit guides profile reading, and at around the same time tried the free mini reading by Anna Conlan, whereby she would be able to tell people what are their primary intuitive vehicle – clairvoyance, clairaudience, clairsentience or claircognizance.

Interestingly, but not surprisingly, the reading from Anna tells me that my primary gift is clairsentience, followed by claircognizance. Basically I receive information through feelings, then through thoughts. The mini-reading re-affirmed my spirit guides reading (done by two separate lightworkers), which revealed that my primary guide works with my thoughts.

I cannot help but feel slightly amused, because all these while I have been expecting a vision or a voice in my head, when I should have just expected feelings and thoughts to come in.

Discernment

This is where the tricky part comes in. My primary guide has been with me all my life, I am so used to having wild, random or overactive thoughts in my head, I would not really know when is she dropping me hints. Yet I am certain of her presence, it is this sense of just knowing, because my intuition has always been my guiding light. I remember writing in a previous post, that somehow despite all those dark times, I have managed to be guided by some unknown source, there was always a flicker of hope and naive idealism, even at the lowest point of my life. All those times when I have been writing out my thoughts in my journal, have I been somewhat channeling someone else's thoughts?

Empathy – my gift or my curse

I can probably write a whole new post on the subject of empathy and how it influences my life. I used to believe that I am born a cry-baby. I cry a lot, I tear because I am touched to see old couples holding hands, I cry helplessly at poigant movies, I cry whenever I have to leave a stray dog or cat behind, sometimes I even have crying bouts for no reason, which I attributed to PMS.

My empathy has been a wonderful gift, I could totally understand and relate to what other people are going through when they are feeling down, I can feel what they feel. However, I did not think of it as a literal sense – literally feeling what others are feeling. I have attributed my empathy to the ability to perceive myself in people's shoes. That brings the understanding of people's situations, I thought I felt so much because I was just a natural emotional wreck. Wherever I went people just seem to enjoy confiding in me, and I seem to be able to provide fresh perspectives to their issues.

Yet it did not come without a price. I noticed myself feeling constantly drained, and I realised that I did not like to be in crowds. While people at my age enjoyed parties and social gatherings, I preferred to hole myself up at home, on the bed, and literally rest without moving an inch. This was way before my journey into spirituality and I had presumed that I was perhaps not a very sociable person.

Have I been unconsciously picking up thoughts and feelings of people? Is there a real reason why I seem to be constantly fatigued? Have I allowed people to freely feed on my energy?

Those times of depression, was I feeling down because of my own unhappiness, or have I just been soaking up people's feelings of unhappiness?

I do not have definite answers to these questions, not even after the psychic readings. However, I would definitely pay more attention to my thoughts and feelings from now on, that they may not truly belong to me, and I need to trust my intuition much more.

Next time I have this urge to do something, go to a bookstore to pick up a book, or to walk in a certain direction, I would probably heed it.

Gratitude

Though I am still hoping to see visions or hear voices in my head, I remain very thankful for my gifts, for they form the core of my being. I have been criticised as over-emotional, naive, delusional and illogical, but I would not have exchanged them for anything else. No amount of words can describe the feelings of joy when people tell me that I have been a comfort to them, or when I provide the unconventional perspective that perhaps they needed to see.

I look at where I am standing at my life now, none of these would have been possible if I had not been naive or over-emotional by most people's standards.

My hopes for 2009; the right time is now

The previous few years were major milestones of my life: in 2006 I met the person whom I think I am going to spend the rest of my life with, in 2007 I took the leap of faith into self-employment, and in 2008 spirituality took on a whole new meaning as I seeked for answers . All these events happened without any form of warning or planning, and therefore I have come to the conclusion that the best things in life happen when you're least expecting it.

I have no doubt that the sequence of events were intricately linked – the stability of my personal life allowed me to seek the instability of a solo career, while the freedom of being a solo designer allowed me to experiment with spirituality. I do not think I would think of attending workshops had I still been trapped in the body of an overworked designer. :)

Looking forward to 2009, I do not want to plan resolutions because I know life typically, at least for me, does not go according to plan. Instead, I hope to draft my hopes for this year, setting the intention, cross my fingers and hope for the best.

No more waiting

Near the very end of 2008, I came to the realisation that I cannot wait any longer put my dreams into action. I have spent most of my life waiting, waiting to grow up, waiting to start working, waiting to be financially secure. Yes, even for someone like me, financial security is important. I had wanted to wait till my income would be strong enough to support my conquer-the-world plans. However, a series of happenings opened my eyes to my own foolishness. Life is unpredictable, just like happy events occur when you're least expecting it, unfortunate ones happen without much warning too. What if financial security eventually arrives, and my health can no longer support my travel plans? Wouldn't that be the greatest irony?

I know I sound paranoid, but I sounded paranoid when I used to speak about banks collapsing and people losing money that were earned over a lifetime. This was before the economic crisis and it sounded unfathomable, yet am sure it does not really sound unrealistic now.

A friend of mine recently recounted how her cousin's husband passed away unexpectedly with a heart attack, at the age of 28. The age I would be turning in approximately four months time. I do not want to have the it-will-not-happen-to-me mentality, because I jolly well know anything can happen to anyone.

The right time is now

Thus, this year I intend to put my travel plans into action, no matter how much it disturbs me to see numbers in my bank account dwindling. Ironically, I never felt the pinch when I was younger and poorer, when I was living paycheck to paycheck and would be lucky not to incur any debt. People tend to fear losing when they have more to lose. The instability of freelancing have forced me into putting money away for the rainy day, but the more money I put away, the more I become attached to it. I am not saying that I want to go back living to paycheck to paycheck, but I do recognise the need to adjust my mentality.

The illusion of security

With the state of the economy, it seems like madness to want to be less attached to my money and initiate travel plans. These are times of uncertainty, I should be saving every single cent I can grab, right? Yes, there is also a possibility I may become the most successful money hoarder in 2009 and still get stricken down with illness, and I am not willing to risk that possibility. Times of uncertainty or not, life is still fragile.

To me, security is an illusion anyway. Times can be good, and no matter how secure or prepared anyone can be, everything can still be taken away from you in an instant.

Life should not come to a standstill in times of uncertainty. Fear breeds more fear. On the bright side, travel costs would probably be significantly lower. For example, it is a great time to visit the UK now, because right now it is 1 SGD to 2.1 pounds, whereas it used to be 1:3 in better times. Ditto for Australia, it is now 1:1 instead of 1 SGD for 1.3 AUD.

My immediate plans

I would probably try hopping across the Asian region first, before venturing further. Armed with my laptop, and designing websites from some remote guesthouse that provides a table and internet access.

I used to get raised eyebrows all the time when I tell people of my dream to travel and work from anywhere in the world, but it does not seem so far fetched anymore.

One big hope and a few small ones

This is my one single big hope for 2009, to finally be able to try traveling and working. Along the way, I would hope to:

  • find ways to diversify my income streams
  • contribute more to causes
  • connect to my spirit guides
  • meditate more
  • pick up yoga
  • stay healthy

Here's to a great 2009 to all of us.