Sunday, May 07, 2017

Of dreams, desires and happiness

I'll never be able to master calligraphy. The art form is too exquisite, requires a lot of patience, practice and effort. However, I've always loved watching people demonstrate calligraphy. There is a balance of strength, poise and calmness in every stroke.

Today, I was required to choose a character. What came to my mind first was to have dreams and desires, but my mum preferred happiness and luck. I suppose that at the base of everything, whether it is one's pursuit of dreams, hopes, desires or a certain career - there must be happiness derived from the bits and pieces. After all, the road to pursuing excellence in one's career option is never easy. But, happiness is the driving force in preventing one from giving up. Of course, luck is always more than welcome because I'm not sure if even the most dedicated will be able to persevere if the journey is filled with countless mishaps.

Monday, April 03, 2017

9375 miles

9375 miles away from home, I was glad to feel the warmth and hospitality which kept me from feeling lonely. The past 7 days have been wonderful. Work wise, I am not sure if I learnt as much as I ought to as the issues and struggles faced by those in the profession sounded uncanningly similar.

I felt that almost everyone wore the badge of the profession with a lot of pride, and tried to do the best for everyone regardless of the resources and circumstances afforded by their institutions. 

At this point, I am unsure of where I will be professionally, and how will I develop in areas where I am currently incompetent. There are certainly many areas where I lack competence, and I am unsure of whether I will even be able to become moderately competent. This is not intended to sound pessimistic. It is just that I am highly aware of the fact that the world is developing at a rapid rate and skills of today are highly likely to become obsolete at some point in the future. But, what individuals require is the mindset where resilience and hardwork will be key to surviving. 

I am fortunate to have struck conversations with those who came from afar and learnt quite a bit from the exchanges. As someone severely lacking in cultural knowledge, I was enlightened by cab and shuttle bus drivers about the state of education, cost of living and life in general. What was most touching for me was to know the extent to which parents (regardless of ethicity, nationality and financial means) went for their children just so that they can have a better shot in life. 

Perhaps I had become jaded with my job and grown fixated with seemingly minor issues to realise the impact of education. The topic of education as a key in empowering individuals to be the best of their eventual selves was something which I learnt from the drivers. 

This is something which I learnt, appreciated and was deeply moved about. I think that it was from these interactions which happened by chance that allowed me to become a (hopefully) better person. Where the conference lacked in providing insights, I was able to learn from real-world experiences which people from various walks of life were willing to share with me.

Beyond these, I also made a few new friends, visited an American home and had dinner at an Irish pub. These were things which I wouldn't have dreamed about being able to experience.

I am highly fortunate that many helped made this trip possible, where colleagues and ex-colleagues checked in with me constantly despite differing timezones and the fact that this was not part of their job. From the planning of food places in the vicinity, lending me of things to bring along to giving me a scarf to keep me from the cold, I was able to experience warmth in my heart. Friends and neighbours also lent me all sorts of travel provisions. I was also highly appreciative of the masseuse and his giving all his effort in helping me temporarily fix my sore back despite a packed day's schedule. He had probably exerted however much effort and strength he could muster judging by the bits of perspiration dripping along his face after the 30 minute session. The abdominal binder was also very useful in maintaining whatever was left of my back. So, I think that it was the sincerity of everyone which helped me endure the pain on top of the painkillers.

It is these little things in life which make me feel that I am truly blessed. These are experiences which I will look back on years from now and remember for a long time.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Grateful for the kindness of others

Today, I experienced the first anxiety attack in my life. I didn't occur to me that I was under any form of distress, except for the incapacitating back ache. It was only after my boss told me that I was probably experiencing some form of tension resulting in anxiety induced back pain that I thought that that was a plausible option.

After all, my leg muscles were awfully taut and my back was almost rigid. Even the slightest movement sent waves of pain through my spine and I could barely it it through the 10 minute walk to the mall to grab last minute goods for the trip.

Perhaps it was irrationality (or stress) which drove me to visit the Emergency department of the nearest hospital, but my mother rationalized that that was not a very wise move. The ranting over the phone and lack of physical company drove me to tears in the middle of the hospital.

Thankfully, the lady who was sat opposite me came to ask how I was. It is surprising how simple gestures of kindness of strangers make the world feel a whole lot better. Her husband also helped to push me in the wheelchair to the toilet because of my sheer lack of hand coordination.

I was fortunate to experience the kindness of strangers and it improved my state of mind by heaps. The staff were also professional and I was able to see how they paid careful attention to the words which they spoke. So I guess, I've experienced empathy in real life prior to tomorrow's team building session where I was supposed to learn about empathy.

It was from this experience that I believe that our society needs more kind souls to consider the nursing profession. Maybe the greatest lessons in life are only learnt through hard knocks (or in my case, hard knots in my back).

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Growing up (or trying to)

I am more or less ready to go for the trip at the end of this month. 2 more weeks to go and I would like to think that I've covered most of what I need. I don't know how it will go but I will try my best to do the best I can. It is touching how some still remembers to ask about my trip when lying on the hospital bed, and I am truly appreciative of how everyone around me has given me support in some form.

Maybe it is time for me to grow up but I am not sure if this sudden realization marks the onset of mid-life crisis. I was very, very happy to meet old friends who have visited Singapore before and decided to see me (and others who are more normal than me). I have decided that I will spend some money and embark on a trip to a foreign land and visit these friends. I had decided to do this sometime last year but then work got too hectic. I'm not sure if I am finally trying to establish some sense of work-life balance, but I have decided to travel after mustering up some courage. I don't know how it will all out work, but I guess that I ought to try this before I turn 30.

Turning 30 makes me feel like an oldie. I will not turn 30 until a couple of years later, but even just the thought of it makes me feel weird. After all, I think that I possess a mind of a typical teenager even though I may look like someone on the cusp of middle age. 

Middle age is dependent on how one defines it. Maybe it will be a moving target. 

I have decided that I shall go and see the world especially after the courageous act of a dear former colleague. Maybe one goes through different stages in life and begins to think different about things. I guess I shall just try to live as courageously as I can. (Even though I am extremely timid.) 

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Preparing for next month

I woke up today and starting counting the number of things to be added to the To-do list. Funny how I've finally come around to dragging my lazy rear around and sorting things out for next month's trip. Maybe as the date draws nearer, plans look more settled and I'm becoming mentally prepared to be on my own for a week or so.

Technological and communication advancements are truly a godsend. I wonder if whoever came up with communication apps was inspired because he/ she was someone who had to endure the pain of being incommunicable?

After a days' worth of uneasiness and irritation (and of course, a few mishaps on my part - all unintended where I caused a few others to feel less than their optimal, comfortable selves), I've finally thought of a minor step to help me get things done without having to trouble others. It helped that I had a good night's sleep which made me feel better than I would have otherwise felt while wide awake.

Amazing what a good night's sleep does.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Giving up the things that matter to get better

After a terribly painful time, I decided to take some corrective measures to cope with the pain late last year. It has been a few months, and I think that my back is slowly on the mend. But, I'll probably have to get used to a different lifestyle. I've decided that in order to get better, I'll have to give up some of the things I love. There are trade-offs in life, so I may as well chin up and deal with it.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A year in summary

Christmas has come and gone. Amidst the gloomy economy, sales are almost everywhere - but shoppers seem to be spending with more restraint than previous years. Even though I've tried to control my spending in monetary terms, I think that I've spread the expenditure over many items and opting to gift more people. Perhaps one might think that it is quantity over quality, but I think that with age, I have come to believe that the monetary worth of things isn't what matters but the thought and gesture of the giver. Hopefully I've managed to bring more joy to more and brought to smile to more faces.

This year has been kind to me, and I would like to thank everyone for being good and showing kindness to me. Their gestures are varied, but each have expressed their care and concern through various ways, from making a drink for me when I'm coughing to helping me mend my dress when the thread has come loose. It is these little gestures which warm my soul and enable me to persevere through those weary nights. I would like to think that I've worked hard for everyone, so that we can collectively celebrate a greater cause together. Maybe this is what family is.

Thank you for being a family to me during those hours when I'm away from my family.