Monthly Archives: March 2013

Rediscovering my Humanity

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I had the wonderful privilege of witnessing up close, a masterful and caring psychotherapist (Dr Richard Erskine) in action for 3 days over the recent weekend, and now, am finally coming up for a long breath of cleansing air…

There were many Aha! moments, to be sure, during those few days packed with insights from someone who has lived and breathed a life of helping people work through issues and crises. And in those moments I feel most humble, human and alive. One such illuminating moment was when we discussed about the dominant, universal needs people have that cut across boundaries of age, race, gender, geography, sexual orientation, et cetera. I guess most of us in our personal moments of discovery, know that we are unique yet we share many aspects of our humanity and needs with our fellow earthlings. Same same but different, I think you know what I mean.

The eight dominant ones we talked about were the universal needs for security (to feel safe), validation (our thoughts and feelings matter), protection from a wiser, older presence, to rely on someone, for shared experiences (to help us feel connected and understood), self definition (not about being labelled by others, but being aware of our own personhood), for agency and efficacy (to be able to impact and influence), to have someone else be the initiator (need to feel someone else reaching out to us) and…before the 8th need was talked about, I thought I knew the answer to that one!

Surely we all have a need to be loved right? It was just too obvious.

Devoted to honouring me.

Devoted to honouring me.

Then when Dr Erskine said, “And finally, we all need to express love…”.

It took me a few seconds to check that I heard right. Express love, not get love?

He talked about a real need we each possess to be thankful, show appreciation to others, God and the Universe, and this can only happen when most of our psychological needs are met and we feel abundant inside, and hence, able to express and give genuine love.

I finally understood. The Aha landed. If the first 7 needs are pretty much taken care of, then we will already feel love. There will be no need to go around seeking love separately as if it were hanging around as an ingredient to be plucked from somewhere mysterious, in order to complete us. “Did I not receive the memo when it was sent out and missed out on getting some love? Shit.”

When we howl and cry for love in our loneliest, deepest, darkest moments, aren’t we really crying out to feel safe, validated, heard, to be understood, to matter, to be protected and not simply loved? When someone says I love you – what does he/she mean? What do you expect that love to mean? And, what are we prepared to give and show to those we love so that they can rely on us, feel validated, secure, listened to, connected and whole, not simply loved?

Isn’t life a wonderful journey and aren’t we fascinating?

Stay in awe.

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What Have We Done? What today’s teens grapple with…

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I think we adults – I am referring to the baby boomers and Gen Xers here – really have to step up now and admit we are responsible. I read an article last night which was probably not the best one to read while trying to relax on a Sunday night! The raw messages from the teenage girls interviewed and opinions from the psych experts really disturbed me.

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In today’s world where the external and material define most of us, how are we as adults taking responsibility for role-modelling for the younger generation? We started it – the unrelenting pursuit of material wealth and status, the explosion of cyberspace and its trappings, the obsession to have an interesting alternate life on screens everywhere, the myriad of digital toys and faux friends… We continue to perpetuate the problems when we don’t live authentic lives we are proud of, nor make genuine connections that enrich us and then choose to participate in the same games and illusions, and judge ourselves against the worldly ideals we think ‘society’ holds for us. Most role models teenagers have today are no longer from worthy novels or real world history but the media-exposed celebrities and criminals.

Teenagers now feel huge pressures to conform, outperform, have perfect social-media selves, be thin, dress right, and are increasing sexualised at younger ages, girls and boys alike. Reading firsthand accounts of how these girls cope made me realise how we adults really have to do some serious soul-searching and resolve to stop judging ourselves by the wrong standards, so that we don’t do the same to the younger generation (they will do what we do, unfortunately!).

I have read a couple of Steve Biddulph’s books (they are really insightful) and he is quoted in this article as saying:

“The danger time usually starts around 14; typically, a girl vulnerable to these pressures has a dad who is critical or cold; a mum who is stressed and busy; has had fairly unlimited exposure to TV (such as in her bedroom) from early childhood, and now digital media — texting, Facebook — with no time restrictions.

Special attention is needed from ten to 14, when a girl starts to become her own person. She needs adults who have soul, who ask her about her beliefs, values and what she stands for, what she wants her life to be about. She needs to develop an interest or an activity that really makes her feel alive.”

Let’s consciously look at what personal values we hold and maybe decide to drop those we know deep in our hearts, are not going to serve us well as genuine well-adjusted human beings (with soul) who understand self-worth, enriching relationships and open hearts.

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Wisdom for the Week from an old Chinese fable:

“There is an old farmer in a poor country village who is considered well-off because he owns a horse. One day the horse runs away. The neighbours sympathise, saying how terrible this is, but the farmer simply replies, “Maybe”.  A few days later, the horse returns, bringing with it some wild horses. The neighbours rejoice, but the farmer simply says, “Maybe”. The next day, the farmer’s son tries to ride one of the wild horses, but is thrown back and breaks his leg. When the neighbours come to offer their sympathies, again the farmer just says, “Maybe”. The following week, military officials come to the village to draft young men to serve in the army but the farmer’s son is rejected because of his broken leg. The neighbours congratulate the farmer, saying how lucky he was to not lose his son, but he simply replies, “Maybe”.

Take events and moments as they come…Acknowledge and feel them but we really don’t know how the stories will unfold, do we?

It matters not if this truth scares or excites me, I feel it ultimately frees me.

Wisdom of the Ages

Cat Chronicles Part 2

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Call it synchronicity, but right after I posted Cat Chronicles Part 1 just hours ago, I read about Bisou the Cat from Cairo who had jumped into its owner’s luggage bag (without her knowing!) while she was packing, and survived the 3400-mile trip in the cargo hold all the way to London! Way to go, I say!

If you are interested, I found a Youtube clip about Bisou’s adventure, you can see what a really jetlagged cat looks like by clicking on this image of another cat I know – Kitsu, who even though she was really young then, was teaching herself about camouflage!

Klever Kitsu in Hiding...

Klever Kitsu in Hiding…

Cat Chronicles Part 1

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Max asserting his feline right to stay in the bag!

Max asserting his feline right to stay in the bag!

Don’t let the Cat out of the Bag, they say –

And this Cat is doing nothin’ but Obey.

 We don’t know why It picked this One,

Perhaps the Scent of its Owner is Home.

Let GM salmon swim through red tape…REALLY?

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There are not many news articles in my local papers that solicit as visceral a reaction as this one did from me recently. The title leapt at me – this nearly full-page, basically one-sided argument (the link here takes you to the article reproduced on the AsiaOne site) to suggest that we should allow genetically engineered salmon into our food supply and that it’s ‘safe’. Really? On which planet?

Upon reading the entire piece on Feb 24th, I felt rather enraged and sat down to write my response to this. I emailed it straightaway that morning (hey, I gave up my usual Sunday morning run for this!), hoping that if I met the 12noon deadline, it may get published the next day. Alas, not. New budget news were announced last week…which got everyone worried about cost of cars and wage credits. So, I have been biding my time since then (a 5-day moratorium is what the Straits Times asked for before I can publish this anywhere else).

So here it is, my Response to the Sunday Times about this issue.  This is the full, unedited version. And you know what’s worrying? When I googled this morning to find a link I could use on this post about the original article, there were already about 6 other news and health websites which have regurgitated this article for their readers!

Don't think any fish would wish to be genetically altered...

Don’t think any fish would wish to be genetically altered…

(Sorry, I don’t have any images of salmon in my personal library – so here’s one of some happy koi
from the pond where I live…it will have to do for now!)

The FDA was expected to rule on this issue last week but I have not been able to find any news updates about it yet, so maybe there’s been a delay. Do comment and let me know if you stumble upon an update about this. I will continue tracking.

I want to know where my food comes from, don’t you? We need to keep asking and pushing for transparency from the authorities, and be the consumer who cares!