Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Trusting in the Lord

My journey in Australia since arriving in Sydney about four years ago have taught me the biggest lesson, and that is to trust in the Lord's timing. In everything.

When I look back I cannot express enough my awe and gratitude when it comes to His provision and never-ending faithfulness to me as I slowly but surely worked my way to pay off my exorbitant school fees, rent and food. There are many times when, I have to admit, that He was cutting it a bit too close for my liking. Cut-off days for fees and nearly empty bank accounts were the bane of my life as a student. But looking back now, I understand that this was His way of showing that He will always provide and will never forsake me in times of desperate need. All I have to do is trust in His timing.

This week, both my housemates and I have lost our jobs. We weren't fired, exactly. The franchise that we were all working for got sold to a new owner who decided that he didn't need any of us anymore. And that was that.

So with my bank account dipping to yet another dangerous low, and with my Temporary Residency application needing hundreds of dollars to complete as well as the best friend's wedding coming up, I find myself facing desperate times again. Only this time, I am reminded by my church to keep trusting in His timing and to keep believing in miracles.

And that is why I still give with what little I have because I just know that when the time comes, the Lord will be behind me urging me on and giving me yet another open window of opportunities. :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Coping with the death of a loved one's loved one.

There are many articles teaching you how to deal with the death of a loved one, but what happens when a loved one of your loved one passes?

I have now gone through two such deaths and second time around, I still feel quite lost as to how I should be feeling. The fact that I am not personally acquainted to these people who mean so much to that someone close to heart means that I have a sort of detachment from them. And yet, I am somewhat related to them through my relationship with the person I care for.

The few lessons that I have learnt in coping with deaths of a loved one's loved one:

1. Don't use words like "I know how you feel".
Because let's face it, everyone deals with death differently. And it's worse still if you really don't know what it feels like and you're hoping to make them feel better by trying to empathise. You will never know what it's like to lose someone you hold dear in your heart until you actually do.

2. Listen or leave them be.
Coping mechanisms for different individuals differ. For me, I find that if I'm feeling sad I'd rather just be in the arms of someone close and bawl my eyes out. But for others, talking about it to a friend may work better. Or blasting loud music. Or eating a whole tub of ice-cream. So listen if they need listening or leave them alone if need be. Unless of course it involves drugs or excessive alcohol or suicide.

3. Just be normal.
I think the best way yet, is to go through life as normal. It is about the most helpful thing because it is offering the possibility and hope that life can go on like normal after the passing of a loved one. Of course it is inevitable for memories to linger and grief to set in once in awhile, but without disrupting the natural mourning period, the best support to give is to go on your usual business.

I'm not saying all these works for everyone. But these are some of the things that I have found to be quite useful in the situations that I have gone through. Sure, you'll never understand the degree of grief they're going through. Just be there for them when they need you to be and allow them to mourn their loss.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Well, hello again.

In the blink of an eye, almost a whole year has passed since my last post! It is already April which means a whole quarter of the year 2013 has gone by without my acknowledging (in this blog anyway) the new year creeping in.

Today, I am slightly different from the girl who wrote that last post about Mom. I come back here as an unemployed graduate who is still dreaming of traversing the world and looking for something to give meaning to the days of my life. This blog was initially written by a wide-eyed, naive girl (Yes, still naive at 22!) to 'find' herself and write about her pursuits of happiness and all things important! But fast-forward to the soon-to-be 24 year-old version, I find that I still haven't figured out that much about myself although I am a little happier and hopefully a little wiser.

BUT as Rowena Grant-Frost very wisely wrote in frankie #45, you never really know yourself completely. Not when you're 22 or 52, you just 'get a better sense of who you are, what you like and what you value as a stand-alone person'.

I have big plans for this year (as I always do!) but after years and years of making big plans, I have learnt to make smaller, simpler big plans. Like splurging on a nice brunch once a week and doing more travelling. Oh, and also find a job. Right now I want to journal my (hopefully) numbered days as a bum and maybe find myself just a little bit more.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

To celebrate mothers all around the world, the Australian Women's Weekly published a wonderful article (among many other wonderful articles) on 'the silliest advice she gave to you'.

As five local celebrities recount the silliest advice their mothers have given them (such as how Vegemite can cure a cold sore, toothpaste heals pimples, rubbing Vicks on your feet to rid colds), I just had to smile as I recall the silliest advice my mom has given me!

Silly advice no.1: If you want a sharp, pretty nose, pull it!
Everyday, as often as you can. I never was a believer of this, but looking at my younger sister's nose and remembering how often she would pinch at the bridge I think I'm beginning to see the effects. Japanese devices that claim to 'sharpen' the nose by gently squeezing it between two pads may have stemmed from this Asian belief. Whatever it is, I regret not trying this out because I've got my nose from my dad and let's just say I would have pulled and pinched if I thought it would make a difference!

Silly advice no.2: All you really need is one moisturiser.
Well, she doesn't explicitly say this but one dinner my elder sister and I were just examining her face, talking amongst ourselves how Mom never seems to age. At 54, she's got amazingly young skin while at 23 (in two weeks' time!) I'm using anti-aging facial wash, toner and moisturiser but still bemoaning the fine lines that seem to have cosily settled around my eyes. We ask her what's her secret and she shrugs and says 'Hazeline Snow!' I swear, it is the only product she ever uses! And even though she uses regular soap to wash her face (harsh effects and all!) her skin is tighter, fairer, and more smooth than either of my sisters! Well then, who needs Olay when you can achieve the same results with this cheap and simple product?

Silly advice no.3: Eat more ice-cream to get your calcium!
I have never liked milk except when it is used in desserts, or with my morning Coco Pops. So ever since I've started working in an ice-cream shop, my mom has told me to eat more ice-cream since it's got milk in it. While I readily took to this advice, it was my younger sister who rolled her eyes at Mom and highlighted that yes, it's got calcium but along with it are probably ten other things I don't need in my body! Two years on, I'm still eating an ice-cream every shift but I try to be more wary of other things I consume, too.

What's the weirdest advice your mom has given you?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Making the transition from long to short

I'm talking about hair length of course. :)

Whenever I look at ladies sporting short, funky hairstyles, I always thought 'Hmm I could be one of them too!'  And after years of deliberating and imagining what I would look like in a short 'do, I finally decided to snip off my long locks for a much shorter and lighter style. It wasn't easy, this transition. In fact, it was actually really quite daunting. You see, I have always worn my hair long and straight. Bad experience with shorter styles when I was younger had me avoid short hair like a plague. And you know what they say about your hair being your crowning glory and all.

My transition from long to short hair took about six months and six haircuts - my most recent hair cut being two weeks ago. And while I am still trying to accept looking like a prepubescent boy, I quite like my hair short because it's just so much easier to deal with and not to mention easier on the wallet as I don't have to keep restocking my shampoo anymore!

One of my university mates actually asked me when we all met in class after our summer breaks, 'Weren't you scared?' I just looked at her, laughed and answered 'As hell!'

Let me just paint a clearer picture for you - of ten years back when I had a big, fluffy bush for hair. Before I discovered the magical hair-tamer that is rebonding (a hair straightening technique that breaks up the bonds in the hair follicle and then iron them out to smooth each strand), my hair was constantly tied tightly in a (very messy) ponytail. I never let it down for fear of looking like a lion. Combing my hair was a painful task - literally - as the bristles in my brush get constantly tangled in my mane. 

This all changed when I finally decided to spend my savings on a much needed salon visit. My hair is so thick that right up till now, I would need two hair stylists to deal with each half of my head. My first rebonding session took about five hours and a very sore butt. I was amazed at what the iron can do! For the very first time I could run my fingers through my hair without getting caught in a tangled mess!

Since then it became an annual routine to get my hair straightened as I didn't want to have to deal with having a mop head anymore.

Last year, I finally got bored of having long, straight hair. I desperately wanted a drastic change. The decision was either to have it permed or to have it cut real short. No prize for guessing which I decided to go for.

The first cut I had, I decided to stay safe and went for a medium length. It was hilarious when my stylist held up my long ponytail. Hilarious and a bit frightening. I remember holding my breath as he made the first snip and then praying that it would turn out Okay. I kept that length for about three days and then I decided to go even shorter - this time my hair barely grazed my shoulders.

Going short is addictive, someone once told me. I can only be a testimonial to this statement. Six haircuts later, here I am. Hair shorter than that of the boyfriend, head light as a feather. Right now though, I'm looking to grow my hair out. Having short hair has been quite an experience and I have gotten so many compliments and also not-so-nice comments, but I'm glad to have gathered courage to go as short as this. All I can say is if you're thinking of getting your hair cut, make sure you go to a trusted salon. One with a stylist who knows what s/he's doing and listens to what you want. Oh, and bring lots of pictures of your preferred hair style, too. Otherwise you might step out of the salon wishing it's all just a painful nightmare.

Friday, April 13, 2012

In Search of Dreams

"Every second of the search is an encounter with God," the boy told his heart. "When I have been truly searching for my treasure, every day has been luminous, because I've known that every hour was a part of the dream that I would find it. When I have been truly searching for my treasure, I've discovered things along the way that I never would have seen had I not had the courage to try things that seemed impossible for a shepherd to achieve." - The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho

Monday, March 26, 2012

A little bit about women and PMS

From the U.S National Library of Medicine,

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a wide range of physical or emotional symptoms that typically occur about 5 to 11 days before a woman starts her monthly menstrual cycle.

The list of symptoms is about 20 point forms long and includes bloating, food cravings, headache, forgetfulness, mood swings, hostile or aggressive behaviour and even clumsiness. I am guilty as charged on all accounts and more. You might think it's unfair for a woman to use PMS as an excuse for every wrong that she makes during this time, but you know what PMS isn't exactly the excuse we want to use either.

So, the question is: How to deal with a woman during this tender time of the month?

Women at this point of time can be high-strung and worst of all, unreasonable. When she is in one of her moods, trying to reason with her is a bad idea - possibly one of the worst things you can think about doing. It might bruise your ego a bit (actually, it's best not to have such a big one anyway, for your own sake), but just admitting that she's right for awhile can make all the difference, especially towards how the rest of your day goes.

For me, I turn into quite a hungry cow and will have to be regularly fed, preferably at 1-hour intervals. This incessant hunger goes hand-in-hand with intense food cravings. My diet for the ten days leading up to my period consists of ridiculously high amounts of sugar and fat. When this happens, don't judge her as she reaches for her third chocolate bar. Instead, tell her she looks pretty even though she's put on period weight (YES there is such a thing! Or it could be water retention, either way who cares about technicalities! /fumes). In the past few days, I have craved for Skittles, carbonara, Nutella, orange juice, fried eggs, green tea, banana bread, vegetarian Peking duck etc., just to give you a vague idea of what to expect.

You will notice her getting bouts of self-doubt right around this time too. It's very unexplainable as to why this occurs, and most of the times this is uncalled for, but so is everything else about PMS. Medicine blames it on the level of hormones that changes as her body prepares to have a baby (basically) but this is yet to be proven as a fact. She will question the existence of her whole being but hopefully not to the morbid extent (If so, the Lifeline number to call is 13 11 14). She'll ask if you really love her or question why everyone else is happier than her etc. All you can do is to give her a big bear hug and let her know that she's the most important person in your life and that you'll do anything to make her happy. Also, she will constantly ask you if she looks fat in everything she wears. Correct answer: No.

Really, this is far from being an extensive list of PMS symptoms that a woman goes through each month. And even after this duration, the torture extends to when she's having her period. Cramps, backaches, lethargy... The best you can do is try to sympathise and be there for as much as she needs. The good news? After these two weeks, you get two weeks of chirpiness, do-anything-you-want-and-your-head-won't-get-bitten-off and you'll start to remember what she's like the first time you met her.

**Advice given is based on 10 years of experience in the PMS field, collected data and personal observations.

**Disclaimer: Not all of this will work on every woman. If you think your woman is the same, you better keep it to yourself because she'll ask you why you think she's not unique. If you find yourself in this sorry predicament, you're on your own, buddy.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

10 things I've learnt working in an ice-creamery

Having worked in an ice-cream store that allows customers to mix crushed nuts, Mars Bars, gummy bears and a whole list of other lollies and chocolates for a little over two years now, I’d say I’ve become quite the ice-cream-mixing connoisseur. And with the surprising amount of strength you need to serve each customer – what with all the scooping and bashing and smashing and mixing we do – I will never again look down on an ice-cream scooper!

Here are 10 things I’ve learnt working in an ice-cream store:

1. There is never such a thing as too hot or too cold or too wet Sydney weather to have a triple scoop sundae with a generous serve of whipped cream, chocolate sauce and nuts.

2. Kids, however tiny, can eat surprisingly large amounts of ice-cream that sends them bouncing off the walls after. Hah, good luck with that, Mom and Dad!

3. If you want to go on a diet, STAY AWAY FROM THE SORBETS. Crazy high amounts of sugar to make up for the low fat content. Let’s just say you’ve been warned.

4. Nice old women often like telling their stories to anyone who’s willing to listen.

5. On the other hand, cranky old women (who buy ice-cream for their dogs ‘in a bigger cup please! And no, he doesn’t need a spoon!’) are the absolute worst. They will complain about everything in your store. Well, how’s about you send a complaint straight to the owner as I don’t have the power to change the prices. Or the cup sizes. Or how many Maltesers that goes into a serving, for the millionth time!

6. Babies’ reactions to their first ice-creams are the best! Think scrunched up, wrinkled noses and frowny faces as they attempt to understand the cold explosion that is going on in their itty-bitty mouths.

7. It doesn’t matter that the doors are closed and the ‘Open’ sign is switched over. Or if the rock is being cleaned and the ice-cream cabinet lights have been switched off. These things don’t necessarily mean that we’re closed, oh no. To some, it means banging on the windows and begging us to let them in for ‘just one more ice-cream!’ while offering $50 if we open the doors for them.

8. Ice-cream addiction doesn’t just stop even after 2 years. Oh no, it doesn’t.

9. There isn’t a maximum amount of mix-ins that a customer can get in an ice-cream. Kiddies with 8 different things? Why not. All you have to do is be able to cough up the $20 for your tub of ice-cream and you’re good to go.

10. Young Australian boys are very amusing. They’ll practice pick-up lines like ‘Are you a butterfly? ‘cos you sure look like one!’ on you that you just HAVE to laugh and put in a few extra gummy bears for trying. Gasp, maybe I’ve just been cheated into giving the sneaky twit extra mix-ins! Why, that little…!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Write, write, write

It feels as if I have finally run out of things to say here!

School has been getting the better of me I swear! But it's also very exciting in that this year, I'm not only aiming high (as with previous years) but I'm pulling out all stops to actually achieve these goals. One of these goals is to write more and better and what better way to do that than to enrol in a course which forces you to read and write every week!

My Creative Writing tutor told the class one day that it is very important to write, write, write. Even if it's only for a few minutes a day, about something as mundane as the weather. And I think I'm going to try it! She suggests carrying a writing journal too, that you never know when you're going to come across an interesting character on the bus or see something that will go into your #AwesomeThings folder. I can testify that it's so true when it comes to finding random inspirations! You just never know when it's going to hit you!

So, here I am again! I'm building up a story for my creative writing workshop and I'm thinking that this blog will help me move it along. I'm so nervous about the workshop because this is when everyone reads your work and critiques your writing. My class had its first workshop just two days ago and I have to say, my classmates' got talent! Amazing writing and highly technical: Omniscient narrators and character developments and such!

2012 is about getting out of my comfort zone and doing things that will scare the heck out of me. I guess this workshop is one of them but it's going to be interesting because hopefully by the end of it, I will develop my skills as a writer and know where I stand in my writing! :)

I'll let you know if I come out alive.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

7 Reasons Not to Worry

From the book of Matthew:

The same God who created life in you can be trusted with details of your life. 6:25 Worry about the future hampers your efforts today. 6:26 Worry is more harmful than helpful. 6:27 God does not ignore those who depend on Him. 6:28-30 Worry shows a lack of faith and understanding of God. 6:31-32 There are real challenges God wants us to pursue and worrying keeps us from them. 6:33 Living one day at a time keeps us from being consumed with worry. 6:34