Category Archives: Family

Let this New Year mean something…

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It’s now mid-February (and no, I can’t believe it either) and truth be told, I am already a bit exhausted from the festivities which started pre-Christmas (yes, these are happy events but they can be exhausting and you know it), and the attempts at cranking the engines on the work front now that I have clearer goals to shoot for.

However, in this moment of reflection, I realise much of the fatigue I am feeling is largely sadness… and about wishing the people I care about were not suffering. It’s uncanny and not funny at all, that in the recent weeks, four people I know well had been diagnosed with, or died because of, major and chronic illnesses. Sadly, this is four more on top of the others who are already ill from months past…

A relative has full blown Stage 4 cancer, my oldest friend from childhood has just been told she is in the early stages of breast cancer, another relative overseas was diagnosed with Bell’s Palsy two days ago, and I found out an ex-colleague is grieving from her husband’s sudden passing from a massive heart attack. No goodbyes were said of course, in this case, so you can well imagine the shock to the family.

illness and spiritual journey

I apologise if this post is a bit of a downer. For me, confronting realities and taking action while we can, making preventive decisions – and most certainly while we are ‘well’ is what it’s all about!

The reality is that today’s lifestyle of the ‘Wired and Tired’, ‘Overfed and Undernourished’ and ‘Stressed and Scared’ have wreaked havoc with our health and have distracted us from what’s important.

Most people take good health for granted, and actually think that if I am not ‘sick’, I am OK. The absence of disease doesn’t mean that you are healthy and living at your best. Adam Levine sang it best in his song Nothing Lasts Forever. There’s this line that has stuck in my head since I first heard it which applies to many things in life, and is certainly relevant when we think about our wellness: “… just because we haven’t hit the ground, doesn’t mean we’re still falling”.

Remember, great health is not something you wish for, it’s something you work for.

May this new year give you fresh impetus to work on your most Luxuriously Healthy Life. Your best health cannot wait.

Do reach out if you need help to get you going.

Sally
Wellness Whisperer

 

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National pride…and so much to be grateful for!

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Yes, we’re weird. We speak Singlish*. We are kiasu**. We queue up for the most inane things – fad foods (bubble tea, anyone?), Hello Kitty and Despicable Me toys (really!). We have a love-hate relationship with the debilitating heat we live in. We think 26 celsius is cold. We have parents who tutor their kids so they can get into brand-name tuition centres so they can get into brand-name schools. We pay through or noses for our cars. We eat to shop….

Yes, we admit to all of that and we’re still so proud to be uniquely Singaporean living on a little red dot of a country on the world map 🙂

Celebration time! Yeah!!

National Day

* Singlish = Singaporean form of monotonous, rapid fire English with generous sprinkles of Malay, Tamil and Chinese dialects thrown into the mix.

** Kiasu = Chinese dialect, meaning literally “scared of losing”.

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.

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.

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.

Knowing what you know now, what would you say to your younger self?

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I must admit to being big on “lists”…I have lists for many things. I have an IDEA book which contains some what-were-you-thinking-of! ideas and some, if I may say so myself, pretty awesome ones. I also keep a food diary listing every thing that goes into my digestive system more diligently now, as part of my nutrition training; a to-do list (urgent and important tasks), a books-to-read list (getting longer by the day!), and so forth.

Lurking around are 3 existential lists, if I can call them that – the Proust Questionnaire (Vanity Fair readers will know this well) which has been 80% complete since last November;  the next is “IF Questions for the Soul” where I randomly select questions from the book (by MacFarlane & Saywell) from time to time and force myself to answer them – some questions are really provocative (such as, “If you are God for a day, what would you do?”) and force you to confront yourself. Last, not least is the Letter to my Younger Self list where I started jotting down thoughts but have not quite penned the actual letter to my 29-year-old self yet. There’s a reason I chose the age 29, but it’s not something I am prepared to share on my blog now, sorry!

I was motivated to write to my younger self after reading a moving letter by Sally Brampton to her younger self. I know if I put my mind to it and do it honestly, the process will be cathartic at some level. I look at my mom now (she turned 78 yesterday) and imagine her as a 20 year old (pictured here):

Young Mom

and wonder what she would say to herself at that age about life, what to enjoy more of and what not to worry about (like her good daughter, for instance!).

What would you say to your younger self at a significant age (you get to pick an age) with all the wisdom and experience you have today? There’s even a website dedicated to this by author and coach, Ellyn Spragins who published a collection of letters from famous people to their younger selves. Yes, I have that book and read it too 🙂 Very inspiring, learnt lots!