2018 Looking back

In the first quarter of 2018, I bought Shawn Blanc’s Plan Your Year and used it to set my priorities for the year. Work and Health.

1. Getting fit and Stacked at WorkLiftBalance

Witj health a priority, I researched exercise classes to attend. Thanks to a natural tendency of committing to and trying out various exercise organisations for over 10 years, I had a fairly clear list of “wants”.

  • Convenient location from home
  • Committed and strict instructors
  • Welcoming environment
  • No shoes needed (preferably)
  • Small group classes
  • Fits the budget

WorkLiftBalance has 3-monthly packages that allow a maximum of 3 group classes a week, which suit me just fine as I was trying to exercise a minimum of 3 times a week. I also believe in trying new exercise places over a few months to build chemistry with instructors and better understand the exercises.

Almost a year later, I am fitter, way stronger, have more energy, have minimal pain and am in the process of adapting to better sitting and walking postures.

2. Reuniting with a New Family

You know how life is unplanned. Yup. This.

For various reasons, I had yet to meet the Other Half’s grandparents and their children. This year, we decided to visit them (they live in another country). It was so nice to see the joy in their faces and our hearts felt so so full. We have made a few more trips since – for both grandparents birthdays, which enabled us to meet the aunts, uncles and their children.

The initial trip led to more trips and we managed to reconnect before it was too late. Grandpa passed away in the third quarter of 2018. He was stubborn, witty and had the Other Half’s sense of humour (it’s genetic). Truly great fun.

Funerals bring everyone together. We met the whole extended family.

No words can express the amount of love I felt.

3. Work-Life

2018 didn’t result in much career progression on paper. However, the time, space and opportunities afforded allowed me to figure out the next steps.

Grateful for the close friends, experienced adults and the Other Half for shining pools of light whilst I reflected and questioned myself.

 


 

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

– A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh

 

So long 2018.

Cleaning old RSS feeds

Since Google Reader was discontinued, I switched to Feed Wrangler, a subscription-based service.

This has allowed me to test various RSS apps, before settling on Reeder for MacOS and iOS. Feed Wrangler’s cloud sync has kept read, unread and starred articles in-sync across both platforms and more if needed.

In the spirit of spring cleaning, also a Chinese New Year tradition, I have been culling old RSS feeds. Down by one third and feeling a lot lighter.

Loss and grief

Within a span of 2 weeks, 2 deaths occurred.

A human and an animal. Both received tears.

But the grieving had started earlier. When the probable signs showed.

Being Buddhist, I understood death to be a part of life.

The Other Half and I had discussed it when we dated. Facing the statistic that females tended to live longer than males, and that we were the same age, there was a high chance that I would eventually be without him. With that in mind, and because we enjoy each other’s company, it is with great sincerity that I tell others, “I won’t be attending your event as I prefer to spend time with the Other Half”.

Death reminds me that our time is finite, and that the less time spent arguing, the more time we have to enjoy the time together.

An old woman once told me that wisdom and compassion are not given to us; they can only be discovered. The experience of discovery means letting go of what we know. When we move through the terrible transformation of the elements of loss and grief, we may discover the truth of the impermanence of everything in our life, and of course, of this very life itself.

In this way, grief and sorrow may teach us gratitude for what we have been given, even the gift of suffering. From her we learn to swim in the stream of universal sorrow. And in that stream, we may even find joy. For this Buddhist, this is the essence of a liberative practice.

A Buddhist Perspective on Grieving” by Roshi Joan Halifax
ᔥ PBS.org

During the funeral, I wondered if I should be crying a lot more, like others, and since I wasn’t, did it mean that I wasn’t as upset?

Then again, as an introvert, I realised that my most private emotions, like grief, happen internally, away from everyone. Writing it here, in a public space, is my form of dealing with the grief.

Of looking at it, understanding it, putting it away and finding peace.

Every now and then, my peace comes from sending metta to them.

Everything takes time

“Go big or go home” is the Other Half’s and my maxim for life.

With that maxim, we say no a lot.

No to many social events – e.g. dinners, weddings, parties etc.

No to consistent gaming – e.g. intensive mobile and computer games

We set up routines and shared calendars, reducing the need to constantly communicate and chances of miscommunication.

This allows us to focus on the things that we want to do.

Spend time with each other, close friends, family and health.

I used to say yes a lot. To be pulled in all directions, get stressed, not deliver well.

We are not perfect. But we encourage each other and work at it.

Everything takes time.

Choose what you want and do it well.

Reducing Life

The move to Vancouver, Canada was immense. The Other Half and I planned to live there for 5 years, as he planned to do a PhD, and did not know if we would return to Singapore.

So we packed everything (almost). I knew that I had a lot of clothes, but until one has to pack them up, then you realise the sheer quantity of it all. “Like Narnia in my closet”, I joked. The clothes coming out seemed never-ending.

Followed by books and sentimental items. They were all eventually shipped up by sea.

From shopping every month, I soon got used to only buying necessities (e.g. groceries) or winter clothes, which I had none.

Even after moving back to Singapore, I still did not shop for “aesthetic reasons”, as the Other Half calls it. It would be 4 years later before restarting the purchase of clothes – aka wedding dress.

Now, I have became quite adept at saying no to purchasing. Meaning, there is less of a “oh looks nice I want to buy” and more of “nope, no use for it, so no point buying”.

I tell friends to please do not buy things for me or food if they really must buy something.

That Narnia of a wardrobe? It has since been massively reduced, but still contains a heap lot of items. The goal is by mid 2019, to reduce it by half.

To work towards it, I have practiced the Marie Kondo method on Sentimental Items, Books and Komono (miscellaneous). I am reading The Curated Closet by Anuschka Rees in order to decisively and intentionally pare down the wardrobe.

The goal will be reached. Hopefully sooner rather than later so the fruits of labour can be enjoyed!

Oh hey

Just like the title, this blog has been “reborn”. Impermanence. Changing. Shifting.

Back to the WordPress CMS that I first cut my coding teeth on many many many years ago. Was trying the Ghost CMS for awhile. Really loved the simplicity, but the latest upgrade was just a bit too problematic to handle, coupled with changing hosting vendors.

I could have probably gritted my teeth and pushed through, but I decided that the goal was really to just blog more. Share more information. Keep the flow going. Not mucking around backend.

And just in time for WordPress 5.0. Feels a lot like Squarespace hey?