2018 reflections, extended.

“just like how physical strength can be trained, so can mental strength be”.

a quote from my ig post, hence why I call this an extension… of my ig post. Before claiming that it’s from me, I quite honestly think it’s something I’ve heard/read somewhere through this year but can’t remember the exact source.

2018 has been the return of the mental game, with multiple flashbacks from 2012 and 2015, the years where I struggled enormously with my mental health. Now that I’ve physically written them down, it seems like a 3 year trend. 3 year trend because these years were the seasons where I was transitioning life-stages:
2012: VCE and recovering from ACL surgery
2015: Leaving BSc for LLB
2018: Trying to secure a clerkship that resulted with nothing.

The last few months of 2018 was spent applying for jobs/clerkships and receiving rejections. I’ve also switched casual jobs, from jewellery retail in a big brand with a predominantly Asian environment,  to apparel retail in a predominantly white environment. Today was the last work day of 2018 and it ended with a customer yelling at me and my colleague ratting me out for not following procedure (I’ve only been there 2 months, I thought what I was doing the right thing and no one called me out the last 2 months).

I started 2018 filled with hope, I envisioned ending 2018 with a secured clerkship in my dream firm with the promises of a grad program. That the London decision will boost my chances and that my sacrifice in 2015 would be proven fruitful, that I was meant to work in law and will work in law. No. Not a single law firm loved me. This is why 2015 flashback happened, I was so traumatised by it that I wondered and doubted the decisions I made, that maybe I should have gone back to Malaysia and did a Dental Degree to be a dentist and take over the family clinic. Future is failproof. I now ended it with my second shitty retail job with my manager giving me a warning and telling me she is giving me a talk the first thing in 2019.

Start of the year, I did a hike in Penang, over strained my knee and fell down. I survived a near death fall but I inflamed my previous old ACL injury. Going through the MRI once again gave me 2012 flashbacks of how I wrecked myself physically and the fears of going back into it again. I wondered if I didn’t wreck my ACL in the first place, not go on ski camp, not gain my extra 10kg, less depression, scored better in VCE because of less depression, maybe a better ATAR so I wouldn’t even be here.

Did you see that stupid causal chain of depresso I created in my head.

It was a mental game. All boiled down to the mental strength.

I didn’t know how to get back up. I was so welled up with them emotions.

2 weeks ago, I picked up the book Grit by Angela Duckworth. It was something I had been hoping to get my hands on and placed a reservation for the book, 7th in queue, in the local library. I finally got it and halfway through, Angela opened a whole new meaning into the game, grit. Life is a mental game, heck we gotta learn to play it to survive it.

Just like how people train hard for a soccer game, we had to train for these life games.

the most successful people are not the smartest, but the grittiest

I was one of the last kids in my ballet class to land that 180 degree split. It was weeks, months, years of stretching and splitting, every damn night. There were times I limped home after a stretching class, my teacher had stretched me too hard. 7 years after starting ballet at 3 years old, I finally got my ass on the ground at 10, pretty late for a ballerina. However it’s been 8 years since I’ve quit the sport, I still can split today. But I can’t go a month without pushing my legs and feeling that pain in my stretch to get my ass onto the ground.

Good things don’t come without pain. Reading the book brought back so much ballet memories, a sport so gruelling yet satisfying. The pain paid off till today, I was determined to get that split and I got it.

I may be the last to graduate among my friends, probably the last to secure a proper job too, just like how I was among the last to land that split. But I will get my ass on the ground, no matter how long it takes and how many pubic tendons I have to tear. The muscle can only build through tissue tears. If this is how God is going to tear me to make me stronger, I will tear and build for this race I was set to run.

I welcome 2019 with open arms, even if it is to come with pain, it will be turned into strength, tear by tear. In 2019 I will be building grit.

2018 didn’t end the way I wanted but it ended with a knowledge that I didn’t know I needed. Just like how a sports person needs a physiotherapist for injuries, we need psychologists for the mind.

Just like how physical injuries can be healed, so can mental injuries.

 

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London Thoughts 1

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It’s been almost 4 days here in London, the jet lag has been real but I’m adjusting slowly and eventually. The past few days I’ve been bolting up from bed at 3am thinking it was 7am, but really it’s just my body and my American neighbour making weird noises.

I remember having a slight panic attack at the gate in Singapore for my second leg flight to London from Melbourne. I mean it shouldn’t have happened, I am older than I was before when I was shipped abroad to boarding school at 16. Mid-rush packing prior to my flight back in Melbourne, I grabbed the smallest, lightest book I could find in my shelf that I could take on the flight, as seen above. I honestly did not expect much from it, as I knew it was deep and very wordy and not something that can be done in 20ish hours. Also inflight entertainment fam.

I still made the effort to read because, as much as I hate to admit, reading it good for the (my) soul. I’m not as dense as I perceive to be thanks. Timely much, just before the journey was about to end I hit this chapter:

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Challenge

The recent streaks of my anxiety and panics have risen out of my desire to remain comfortable. I was not the YOLO teen I used to be. I hate to always use this example, but it’s true, my enthusiasm for challenges has drastically changed since my ski accident. Everything had to be thought twice, I’d rather play everything safe. Shit should not go down without being consulted with people I trust or being done with people I trust. Besides the girl I knew from law school, London was a solo adventure.

Grit

You truly will never know the grit that exists within until you put yourself in a situation that brings it out of you.

First day of summer school classes the lecturer straight up tells us “Welcome to one of the hardest courses that we offer in summer school”. It didn’t take long for it to sink in when I realised some of my course mates were investment bankers, senior associates of global law firms, Masters students and a how did I end up here self. I don’t completely understand derivatives and here I am being taught how to regulate it??? God help.

Furthermore, I was ditched at the club on the first day of our classes, it was a welcome “party” organised by the student union. Never in my entire clubbing life had I entered a club sober and boy I hated it. I had never been so conscious of my surroundings and all I could think of was this is crap, why did I like this last time, was it always like this. Maybe it’s just London.

I was ditched because the friend that bought tickets (and made me go) decided that smoking up in an apartment was much more fun and left without telling me. I found myself walking back to my residential at 12.34am in the morning, alone, in the dark in London alleyways. Honey if I had not prayed, I would’ve cried. I’ll explain more on these thoughts in post 2.

Since the day at Changi, I have yet to experience an attack. I’ve been too busy trying to survive, hitting out all them challenges swinging my way. It’s like my body and soul is trying to tell the devil that I ain’t got time for that anxiety crap.

It’s not something I had asked for, but it’s something within my control and grasp. Challenges can be created and it is within our control, through our openness and willingness to go through them.

I did not come here just for fun. I came here to learn. About myself and International Financial Law. and get that credit point.

 

Slimming Adventures

Food. Food. Food.

The glut for the past 2 weeks has been very real, I had to take digestion pills during the weekend in Singapore due to consuming more food than I can digest. The torture I put myself through was crazy and I didn’t stop, I even bought myself a bottle of pills to prepare for the next bout of food.

I mean I flew 8 hours up here not for nothing.

I’m currently in Malaysia, the land I spent my childhood and early teens in. Compared to my many trips down in the past since moving to Melbourne, I was able to reconnect with my middle school friends and going to Singapore to meet with my high school friends.

It is no secret to those who knew me before Australia that I was a skinnier, much slimmer, much fitter girl. I had put on a total of 10kgs post-KL and I have been nowhere near to going back to the original 47kg self in 2010.

However, this holiday, the glut has been so real. The food has been amazing and the prices were so cheap and I couldn’t help myself. My middle school friend had just returned from her UK studies for good, so I spent the last few days just catching up with her and being the ultimate Groupon buddy (as well as luxury window shopping things I cannot afford).

She found a free slimming deal.

It’s freeeeee..she says, and she would do it with me. (She is 160cm, under 50kgs, clearly doing it for the fun of it).

I wouldn’t pay to do something like this, never. But I was always curious with what was involved. My mum mentioned to me that she tried it once post-pregnancy but it doesn’t work at all and is fully gimmicks. But I could try it out for myself if I wanted, it was free after all. Surrounded by blunt Asian family and friends, being told I am ‘much meatier’ than before can be over-bearing, this should be harmless.

So, I will now narrate this adventure.

Consultation
I knew that the slimming centres giving out free treatments was too good to be true, these places sell packages for thousands of bucks. “Proven results” banners are everywhere. It was cheap treatment and it wasn’t a 1 day job, people sign up packages for months.

The consultant gave me a horrified glare when I told her I was only here for 2 weeks in KL and that I was from Melbourne. She still tried to hard-sell me a RM4000 package, saying that I could “come in everyday and will go back to the pre-Melbourne weight” i call bullshit.

She asked me for my ‘target areas’. Tummy… only, I replied. She made me take off my top.

Oh my God, you’re very fat everywhere.. Your arms also very big.. aiyo tummy also very very big -squeezes my fats- ehh your thighs also got a lot of fat” – Malaysian accent emphasized (she was very aunty)

So this is how they hard sell and guilt trip fat people. I told you only tummy. Thanks for telling me I’m an all-around fatass.

I insisted that I will begin with the free 1st treatment first to decide. 1stly, I couldn’t afford (I didn’t tell her because I wanted my free session), 2ndly… what if it’s some stupid gimmick I would sell myself into.

Steam-Room
Was told it is meant to open up my body pores (what for). 

Firstly, I felt like dying. It’s like a sauna, much hotter, much stuffier. I felt like being dumped in a kettle. Next to my cubicle was a fat lady going through her paid package.

Secondly, I can’t breathe. My nostrils burned as I breathed, thank God they provided me a towel for me to breathe through or I would’ve died or be diagnosed with burnt nostrils for life.

Thirdly, I don’t see the purpose. It was a steam room, the lady told me I will sweat. I was wet all over 10 seconds into the 10 minutes I was in there, I swear 90% of moisture on me during the whole duration was the steam, 10% sweat (but I doubt it).

Suffocating Torture. Why fat ladies WHY.

Pictures
Made me strip and take photos of my fat self. (for before and after effects… they didn’t know I wasn’t coming back) While taking my photos and measuring the diameters of my fats, slimming lady discovers I could speak and understand Mandarin.. immediately stops bitching about my friend and I in Mandarin.

“I thought you guys were English educated….” she says. Well, you didn’t ask for my primary school did you ey?

Lavender Scrub
I feel no scrub. What scrub. Slimming lady just slathered 50% oil and 50% water misture on my body… “preparing for the next step” she says…”scrub is to remove dead skin”…

There was no scrub… so no dead skin was removed.

Hot Blanket
With 50% oil mixture still on me.. she made me lie on a sheet of plastic. Next thing I knew was  me being wrapped in plastic, a heavy blanket wrapped around me… I was marinated meat.

“20 minutes…” she said, and left me there to marinated.. in the room.. alone.

20 minutes felt like 20 hours. Worst 20 minutes of my life.

About 5 minutes in I felt like cooked meat. I felt the mixture and I swear by this moment, I confirmed that the mixture was probably 80% water, 20% oil and lavender smell was artificial as fart.

I was boiling meat.

At 12 minutes in, I knew I was dying. I don’t know why women put these people in business. oh my goodness it made me miss hot pilates…  A LOT.

God saved me, I discovered an emergency button. I managed to squirm my arms out of my boiling burrito sack of marination and press it. Slimming lady came it, told me “8 more minutes” (that’s how I knew I was 12 minutes in).. and ditched me again.

Was apparently not well cooked enough. (Purpose of that procedure was apparently to “increase blood circulation”.. more like “increase chances of death”)

Shower
To wash of my marinate

Fat Burner
HAHAHA I don’t know how to begin this.

Slimming lady lathered on and ampuole to help me “burn my fats”, she lathered them on my fat arms, fat thighs, fat tummy.

2 minutes later, I felt like they were on fire… “Oh they are burning your fat” she says… more like burning my body and the next day I will have no skin.

She then wrapped my fat parts with this wirey stuff that was hooked onto a ‘slimming machine’ that will give out the vibrations to “help stimulate and work your muscles”..

So this is how lazy people exercise… pay thousands of bucks to get their muscles vibrated. oh my goodness.

I slept throughout the vibration session. I don’t know if anything was activated. If anything, my muscles were relaxed and this was the best part of the session. I slept.

Conclusion

Please. Don’t. Go.

I don’t understand why women do it. Yea it may have worked if you attended 50 times of that, but it’s all a marketing business gimmick. Proven results can come after maybe 1 year and over thousands of dollars wasted. I recommend hot pilates.

The atrocious fact was they actually wanted my dangerously skinny friend to sign up so that she can ‘prevent herself from getting fatter’. Are you kidding, she needs to put on weight.

Yes. I know I do occasionally suffer from self-esteem body image issues especially  when being surrounded by old friends who remind me of my old shape. This time I took a step too far, but it was free.

I treated it as an adventure. Solely for the experience. But if I had really been engrossed in my body-image and if I really was my old self before Jesus, I probably would have signed up (and get scolded by my parents in the process). Honestly, it can be quite easy to fall-victim to these stuff, that’s why they’re still in business. (many ladies were going through their paid treatment while I was going through my free one).

Why? Because the outside world can be over-bearing. It will be a lie if I told you it never affected me. It would be a lie if I told you that I didn’t feel anything when the slimming centre told me I was too fat.

The commercial world is out there to really hard sell stuff to us based on our flaws. I swear I only read this on the media, but yesterday was my first-hand experience of being marketed based on my flaws.

I’m sorry but regardless of my weight. If I exercise and lose weight in the process, that is God’s blessing, if not, I’ll be the way God wants me to be. I don’t know why women would pay to go through semi-death, please invest them in a good body massage (much cheaper too) if you have that much money.

 

 

Decision making

Here’s the deal, I’m the worst at decision making. It makes me wonder sometimes why I got picked into being a leader, leader’s are meant to be the best at decision making. Being indecisive is the worst trait of a leader (well I get annoyed if my leaders can’t make a decision). Which brings me to this, I’m a current kids leader that’s being lead by a kids pastor but currently being offered a position to run the toddler section as a proper leader alongside the kids pastor. I can’t decide. omgosh i actually can’t decide.

A normal human being would have leapt on it. I’m the kind who weighs-in the pros and cons, it’s easy if one outweighs another but it’s the worst if they even out and the weight balance is straight. I mean, THAT’S NOT THE POINT OF THE WHOLE PROCESS. The more time I take to decide the more indecisive I get, it completely defeats the purpose of weighing out the issues.

I thought maybe because my brain can’t help itself and God wasn’t talking to me in booming voices, I should talk to people, people in church and the family (because God can speak to us through people, right?). The decision was divided and I’m back to square one. STILL UNDECIDED.

I decided to lay it off, since my senior pastor was away in America and he said he’ll discuss more about it with me regarding the position when I’m back. Besides, I had more pressing issues as a law student such as how to complete 2 law assignments due on the same day without head explosions. I’ve managed that well and better than the decisions I had to make, my head is still intact and it has to be as I have one more test due this Saturday on Constitutional Law.

Then the text came. My senior pastor (SP) is back from America. I have not made a decision. He wants to do an interview next week. 

Brain went on panic mode. The cool calm and collected manner I was planning to have for this Saturday’s test went off-course. SP even asked for my CV, like whuuut… I haven’t even drafted my Consti answers and my CV hasn’t been updated in months.

Times like these, a burning bush wouldn’t scare me. I’d rather a burning bush with God’s voice telling me to decide with A or B than walk around like and aimless drunk.

I’ve been listening to heaps of Chad Veach podcasts the past couple of weeks, many rechoing the main message that God has a plan and that if we stray, He’ll bring as back anyway.

Panic mode clearly didn’t help. I told myself that I should fast and pray on the matter but I didn’t. I ended up shoving it aside, convincing myself I had more priorities like my law assignments. I did not hand the issue to God, which I told my friends I would and that “He’ll help me decide” because I have other things to do. I deliberately dumped it in the corner. I thought I had 2 weeks on the matter but 2 weeks felt like 2 days and now SP is back and I need an answer.

Light Bulb moments

There is a significant difference with leaving the issue with God and dumping it aside and let it rot. God is not going to pick it up for use. He helps us when we are in need, yes, but we have to do the action, ourselves. As in we have to actively pray about it, it should not affect every minute of our lives but neither should be completely ignore it. We have to hand it to God with our own hands in complete surrender and ask for His guidance daily on the matter.

I did it all wrong.

But wrong doesn’t mean an automatic failure.

I have 1 more week. 1 more week to decide. It’s not too late.

One more week to Seek Him, Pray and ask the right help.

 

 

Singleness. Is it such a bad thing?

So just after a couple of days after writing my bottle opener revelation post (just before)… was stalking my cousin’s blog (just like what cousins do NBD) and found something complementing the topic! Too good to not share!

Too good to not share!

Fam, we think alike 😉

check him out too and give him a follow!!

Continually Convicted

There is this growing trend (actually maybe it was there all along but I never noticed it until recently) of our generation seeking relationships with urgency and viewing singleness (or a lack of experience with relationships) as sub-par or undesirable.

There is just SO much wrong with this mindset.

I could go on for years about how much I think this mindset is flawed but for the sake of attention span in reading I will try and summarise. Here goes:

Let me give you a scenario which is all too common for both guys and girls in our young adult stage of life. The situation is two friendship groups of people of the same age and mixed gender for both groups meet for the first time. For the next few hours to weeks, all everyone is thinking of is “who out of this group of people would be compatible with…

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Forgotten dreams through faith

So my blogspace has been pretty much the only online outlet where I overshare my life stories. Yesterday I leveled up and decided to share a bit on my Facebook with the hashtag #raremomentsioversharemylife. lol.

I spent a good 15 mins staring at the post and proof-reading before hitting ‘post’, stark differences to my wordpress behavior. I just click ‘publish’ without even proof-reading.

I did it because I felt like I needed to share that aspect of my life, also a sorta little thanks post to the people around me who helped got my dance project in church going.

However, my oversharing was only 50% of what really happened so here I am to ramble the full bits.

I remember the exact moment my parents told me that being a dance teacher as a profession was a terrible idea. We were in the car, in the shopping centre carpark basement in 1 Utama shopping centre, I was in the backseat, I had just finished my ballet class of the evening.

Ballet teachers don’t earn sufficient money. That was the main gist I got from the talk. I wasn’t a fantastic dancer anyway, my parents only sent me to ballet classes because they just wanted me to have exposure, a hobby, an experience, not a profession. They said there were far more better dancers than me in this world and I would never be able to reach that competitive environment, “our family isn’t made of athletes, there has been no family history of good athletes”. Basically, there has been no successes in that area, I shouldn’t try. Funny fact was that my dad’s elder sister was a part-time ballet teacher at the time but my dad dismissed it as being just a side hobby… again. They finally agreed that I can do it in the future after I get professional degree and get a professional job and just do it as a side hobby thing like my aunt.

I was hurt. But there was some truth in their message. I wasn’t the best in my class, my teachers would forever critique my technique instead of complimenting it. There were girls built with far better ballerina bodies than I did with the technique quality of pretty much close to principal dancer. I would fail to qualify even to audition for the Australian Ballet, okay maybe I would but I would be kicked out 1st round. Professional ballet training was out of the question.

Reality slowly crept in and I continued the ambition of being a dentist growing up. I then joined a new class where my new ballet teacher, who was an architect by day and ballerina by night, blew my mind. I told my mum, “I’m going to grow up and be like Ms Boon”. She was so boss as, she was the only teacher that saw the gift in me and when my mother wanted me to stop classes to concentrate on my academics, she persuaded my mum not to.

I got my ACL in my teens. Pursuing something of a dance nature was completely out of the question. My dual work-life dreams completely shattered. I took some casual classes in ballet later one but my knees never felt the same again and grand-jetes makes my knees cry instead of joy.

Then the church told me to make a dance group in sunday school. It was years after all those dreams and ambitions, I was over it and completely thrown them away to the extent I had forgotten about it. I was so hesitant at the offer but took it anyway. (mainly also because he announced to the parents that there was a dance group happening before I gave a proper ‘yes’).

Yesterday my girls performed during Sunday Service. The gush of joy I felt when I saw them nailed the moves. For weeks I did not know if it was even possible, 90% of them not from a dance background. Simple steps took them weeks to grasp, my co-leader and I were stressed to the core. But they nailed it on performance day and the feeling was so much better than receiving a distinction in my exam. No joke.

God made it happen.

He remembered that dream I had even when I tucked it away saying it wasn’t possible to reach it again. It wasn’t the professional teaching I had dreamt of but more. It was the sharing of His gift of dancing nonetheless and it made it so much more worth it because I witnessed the growth in every single girl over the weeks of practice. I was given the opportunity to be more than a dance teacher, I became a role model. I felt Gods work through every single moment of the process and it didn’t hit me until performance day, that this had been my dream as a little girl.

I was at the bottom of the stage smiling at the girls and telling them to smile back to the audience, the same way my teachers did when I was younger. “You don’t want the camera to take a sad pic of you dancing”. I realize that I was saying the phrases my teachers use to tell me, this time to the younger girl, my girls. I was living it, the dream of being a dance teacher one day and God made it possible because He knows the yearnings of our hearts. He gave me more than I imagined.

The world can say it’s not possible but if Jesus says yes, nobody can say no. He will make it happen in due course, no matter how long it takes. Have faith.

‘You don’t have enough faith,’ Jesus told them. ‘I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.’” Matthew 17:20

 

 

 

Beyond the cubicle

I’ve been wrestling with myself for the past few weeks if I should continue writing. There had been many occasions where I’ve entered the site with a blank page in focus, gazillions of ideas flow into my mind and I just don’t know where to start… in the end, I will close the page and tell myself to get going with life instead of lamenting on them.

It hasn’t really been intentional avoidance either, the past few weeks, despite being 3/4 of them holidays, I’ve been so occupied with church work and paid work and everything in general. God has provided me so much over the holidays with productivity, but for some reason, I feel like I’m not spending enough with Him. It’s not just that, it’s been the first holiday where I did not start a K-drama on (shockwaves everywhere).

Just this  weekend, I gave 2 Sunday School messages in 2 consecutive days in 2 churches. I’ve never done anything like this before, along with the added activity of cooking within the message (we were doing a kind of Masterchef series for the kids to be engaged with the message). I agreed to do the 1st one as a ‘rehearsal’ for the second day. Everything went as plan, my boss was happy with it and I received pretty good feedback. Mindset was feeling that I can bring on my A game the next day.

Sunday early morning, we got a text that my boss/leader had to go to the hospital for an existing health condition. My head swirled a bit as I hopped off my bed. I was the speaker today, my leader is not around, the utensils will be half gone, oh my…

I rushed my Sunday morning self-prep for church and dashed to the kitchen for all the pots and pans and ingredients for the lesson and message. Not to mention I also had a dance rehearsal before Sunday School with my girls dance group and my co-leader and I were meant to be doing their masks for the dance.

I could feel my heart rate pumping as I drove to church, I could feel the tears welling but I didn’t know why. My car was playing me Kpop songs about ‘happy endings’ that shouldn’t be playing, so irrelevant, but I couldn’t reach my iPod to change the playlist.

I kept repeating to myself that everything was fine, that I will be okay. I regretted the lack of devotions I should be doing during the holidays instead of burying myself in work. If only you did those, read the devotion books instead of the daily verses from the app. You wouldn’t feel this way.

I unloaded my pots and pans, got to my kids church area, I saw my friends. Everything will be okay. Then I realize I left my phone in the car and ran back to retrieve it.

On the way back, it came, I could not catch my breathe and I could my heart pounding. Not Good. fear fear fear and my anxiety attack was back. The toilet. It was the only place I knew that was safe since a child, these things can come and go there without anybody knowing it happened.

There have been occasions during these moments where once I’m in the toilet, I do not come out, it can be hours. It can’t happen, not this time.

Nobody ever knows about what happens to me during a nervous breakdown/crazy attack. It’s one of those terrible weaknesses I feel ashamed of, like I wasn’t strong enough to carry on and suck it up. Of all days, on the day I had to preach about the Holy Spirit, it comes.

I had to tell someone or else the day would be worse than expected. For the first time, I texted, I texted for help. Help came and help came with prayer and I felt God telling me that it’s okay to let it out beyond the toilet cubicle.

Yesterday I gave a message about the gift of the Holy Spirit and how it gave me courage. Yesterday it gave me the courage to step out of that toilet cubicle.

The Holy Spirit knows what to do. Trust. Faith. Guidance. He provides all that.

The cubicle is no longer my sanctuary.