No English? No Problem!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

My Blog is a Tween! + Was I ever that young?

I recently wrote a small piece on my other blog comparing how I was as a fresh grad and the changes I had observed after 10 years in the industry. After writing that, I became curious about this blog and searched through the dusty blog archives for the very first entry I did.

Lo, I realized that this blog was born on 16th October, 2003. It turns 13 this year! It's a tweenager! 

Even when I read the words from that first entry, I felt old! The style of writing seemed so immature and full of teenage spunk. [I don't want to elaborate on what that shows of me from my writing now...] They seemed to come from someone else entirely and if it wasn't for the fact that I remember typing them down in the university computer lab, I might have never recognized them as my own.

Anyway, here they are, with my older, wiser *ahem* thoughts in between:


Out of curiosity, and the plain fact that I do not want to start working on any of my schoolwork anytime soon, I've decided to start this blog. If nothing, it'll save me from writing all those lengthy emails to pple ( when I actually do it, that is ) and give my friends the option of choosing to read my crap or not. What a nice person I am. :p

Nowadays, with FB, my friends have no option but to read the crap I post. Sorry, guys.

Anyway, quick intro: 22 year old *still* student at NUS, fac of bizad, school of management, 

Damn! Was I ever 22??? I can hardly remember what that feels like!]

or [my favourite] School of Biz [SOB. who the heck was the one who thought that up??] 

And now my employer shares the same acronym as the bartender from the Simpsons. Who was the one who thought that one up?

I'm graduating in Dec, so will officially join the ranks of the unemployed on Jan 2004, wondering exactly what it is I paid NUS so much for. Will become wandering spirit by that time, the Fool of the Tarot, going where the wind blows me to and hopin' I don end up in some rubbish heap.

Thankfully, not still unemployed. Honestly, in retrospect, that was a pretty uncertain time, living literally paycheck to paycheck teaching tuition. I wouldn't have done [or bought] most of the things I have now with that lifestyle and I do have some gratitude for the paycheck I earn now. Yet, I can't deny there are aspects about it that still appeal to me and I do still have a longing to become that Fool of the Tarot.

My big dream is to strike 1st prize in 4D one day, become disgustingly, filthily, rich and live off the proceeds for the rest of my life without having to work.

Obviously, this still has not happened.

Since the chances of that happening is [nil], I would also like to work in the creative arts industry in some way. If I ever get my Illustrator down, I'd like to become a freelance graphic designer. Until then, I'd be teaching tuition for a living, until the day I die of a heart attack in a pool of my own blood in some kid's house.

Oh, this is one of the parts I miss so much about being in university. The thought that the world was still open to you and your dreams and you could still be anything you wanted to be. Instead, I'm still in danger of dying of a heart attack in a pool of my own blood in school. 

How does this happen to us? How do we lose our dreams and the capacity to dream somewhere in those 10 years?

Ok, too much info for now. Me gotta go do some actual work, you know, the kind that justifies your place in society and that most parental and educational units look favourable upon. See ya.

Yes, I did manage to find some actual work to justify my place in society and be looked favourably upon by parental and educational units. I'm still deciding whether that's a good thing or not.


Seeing my 22-year old thoughts and my 36-year-old ones together brought home the idea of aging far more vividly than I thought. My 22-year-old self sounded a lot spunkier than I remember at the time and more sarcastic as well. Yet, I can't deny that my older self has some wisdom *ahem* that my 22-year-old one did not have and that certainly, I wouldn't have wanted to live with the salary that I was earning as a tuition teacher for the rest of my life. 

Maybe the key here is to be aware of and grateful for what age can bring you. My 22-year-old self would not have been able to travel to the number of countries that I did in my 30s. My 22-year-old self would have still been sharing the family computer and living with her parents, instead of typing these words in her own study in her own house. My 22-year-old self was very much single with no hope of getting attached. So indeed my older self has a lot more that my 22-year-old self would have looked enviously at.

Still, you do have to raise a toast to younger days. To dreams unfulfilled and dreams yet to be.

Do a Little Every Day To Inch Towards a Better Tomorrow

Here is me, trying to inch my way towards meeting my writing goal this month! Whee...

Since the start of this year, I've been trying to achieve various personal creative goals. I've had varying amounts of success with them. There are some days I don't feel like doing anything productive at all, and there are some days I wonder how I managed to get so much done.

Take today, for instance. There were 3 tasks from work I had to do, 2 of them involving marking. Somehow, between the lessons and the various meetings, I managed to finish all 3 at the end of the day. After that, I practised an hour of piano before going for dinner and then went for an hour-long walk around my estate as an excuse for exercise. I'm back home, having bathed (yet still feeling hot, why???) and I'm typing a new blog entry.

This is not the first. I've had other days too when I look back and I wonder how did I do all that, when I initially thought I'd fail or end up pushing it to the next day. But actually, on reflection, I realised there were 3 principles I'd been following, that I had read from various books and FB sources.

1. Multitasking really does not work.
The research has proven it over and over again and I've discovered it for myself through real-life experience. It does not work and in fact you can be more productive if you concentrated on just one task at a time. 
Take a typical day at work. Once I start marking some worksheets, I get into a kind of groove. I can spot the mistakes and take note of common errors more easily. Then someone comes around and asks to discuss about something. My attention turns to that person and even if it is just for 5 minutes, I find my groove totally lost when I turn back to the worksheets.
It's not that I'm easily distracted (well, maybe that too) but there's tons of research done to show that what happened to me is more common than you think. Yet there are still tons of workers who think they are being productive by being able to handle all those distractors at the same time. Well, you might be one of the lucky few, but I will gratefully concede that I am not and in fact, I really did accomplish more work and marking when I just ignored the people around.

2. Even a Little Bit Helps
Remember that proverb about moving a mountain rock by rock? It turns out there's more than a pebble of truth in that after all. A more consistent practice bit by bit helps to build up huge results. $2 saved a day will earn you $60 richer in a month, and $720 richer in a year. If you think that's not much, maybe you are one of the top 1%. This does not apply just to money, but to other things as well. 10 minutes of instrument practice builds up skill. 20 minutes of brisk walking burns more calories than sitting in front of the TV. 10 minutes of blogging builds up too. I just counted the number of blog entries for April and I did 18 entries. That's an average of a post every 2 days!
So that small bit of effort doesn't seem like much to show at first, but keep it consistent and eventually it all builds up.

However, building it up leads us to the last point, which is....

3. Remember the End Goal
I learnt this from 7 Habits and it has stayed with me. Whatever you are trying to achieve, you have to keep in mind what end result you want for yourself. Then with the time remaining to yourself, you decide whether what you do leads you to that end goal.
In my case, that meant I gave up a lot of TV. I'm a total idiot when it comes to TV dramas of any kind and I only know of some vaguely because of my 8 Days habit. When I wrote down all the things I wanted to achieve, I became a bit guilty every time I sat in front of the TV. I could have been writing, I could have been reading or doing some art instead. Since TV did not feature in any of my end goals, I gave it up with no regrets. I do forget and binge watch at times and I still like to watch my crime dramas while eating but other than that, most of the time I rather do something else. 

Why do I put all this down on my blog? First, to fulfil my writing goal of course, and secondly, because actually writing down (or typing) them does help to etch them in my mind. These are principles I feel are easy enough for me to follow and can reap big rewards later on in life. I'm not sure if one day I will be a world-famous artist or a millionaire blogger by doing so but I do know that for me, it beats TV and FB and that it's good to see some of the results, no matter how small.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Planner Art

From this blog, you can see that I'm interested in a lot of things. (Curiosity could kill the cat indeed) I get interested in a lot but I don't always have the commitment to brush my knowledge up to a level that I want. For eg, the violin. I like the challenge of playing it, despite how bad I am, but I don't feel I practise enough to reach a level that I am satisfied with. Why don't I do so? Numerous distractions abound, but Facebook and TV spring to mind first... 

This year, I pledged to achieve more of my personal goals instead of just letting them languish holiday after holiday. I've used this blog as a way to keep myself accountable to me and to my friends, but I cannot use it on a daily basis. I don't like looking at screens all the time, my battery will run flat several times a day and more importantly, I can do more pretty things on paper than on the phone, heh. 

So I've been keeping an informal planner to help me keep track of my personal goals and to help me plan my week and this is the planner page I've done for the week 18-24 April:

There's very little content because I never meant it to be a daily diary, just a simple one to note when I did something relating to my personal goals. I do keep one thing constant though, which is to note Gratitude, Focus and Goals.

For Gratitude, I note one thing in the day I'm grateful for. This reminds me that life is not all bad, even on its worst days and reminds me to see the good as well. Sometimes there's one big thing I'm grateful for, sometimes it's small, like a quiet cup of tea. It all works to the same effect.

For Focus, I note what I did to achieve my Focus for the month. This month, my focus is on Writing, so I might note whether I blogged in this blog, or others. 

For Goals, I note which of my other goals I managed to achieved, like practising the piano or exercising. Again, the success of this varies. Some days I did it, some days, I rediscover the joys of TV...... 

Why do I have two separate yet alike sounding themes like Focus and Goals? There is a slight difference for me. Because there's so much stuff that catches my attention, I want to focus on one a month and take that month to go more indepth into the subject. So for my Focus on writing, I might read up more on writing skills and techniques and (try to) blog more frequently. Hopefully, after the month of focus is up, some habits and knowledge become more ingrained.

However, other than writing, there are other stuff I like to do and I feel are important enough to continue doing. Exercise is one, so it becomes a goal. I continue doing it but I don't bring all my focus onto it and exercise 5 days a week at the gym. That for me is the difference.

It's not a perfect system of course, and I'm not all that disciplined in carrying out all my goals, but I do feel that there's a difference when things are jotted down on paper. You feel that much accountable to yourself and I also make more of an effort to reach them. Even if I don't reach all my goals, it feels good to know there is some progress still, better than nothing. 

And of course it always feels good as well to look at a pretty planner page, haha...

So I'm going to continue with this habit for a while. It's a simple way to exercise creativity in both art and writing and also to keep track of my goals. At the same time, I can also exercise mindfulness and gratitude for the little blessings that make my life a bit easier. It requires little effort, does no harm and I end up with a pretty little page at the end. Why not?

I've been featured!

After hanging up the lenses for a while, suddenly two of my photos got featured in public arenas! I'm alternating between feeling happy and feeling some slight panic of the impostor-syndrome kind: What if I can't live up to the online fame? What if this is the best I'll ever do? What if I never take good photos again?

What if I just get on with my life, eh? 

It does make me feel slightly wistful though, looking back at the album. The last photo I posted on my Lomohome was in March. After that I was busy at work in April, I was also trying to concentrate on my writing and somehow the film got neglected. It's nice to have been featured but at the same time I know my skill is nowhere near some others I know. There have also been tricks of the trade I've been thinking of trying but they have still remained as ideas in my journal.

Hm, is it time for a monthly focus on photography?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Staycation! Hotel Intercontinental, April 2016

Almost at the last minute, the hub decided to book a staycation at a hotel I'd been eyeing for a staycation. (I think he's been too stressed) So just this last weekend, we spent the night at the Hotel Intercontinental at Bugis.

I wasn't sure why I was thinking of the Intercon in particular but when we went into the hotel, that much became clear. For one, consider too that the hotel is right next to Bugis Junction, which makes it very convenient for dinner. You don't have to feel stuck in the hotel, unlike Shangri-La. We were able to walk to Suntec to shop at the Public Garden flea market, have dinner at Marina Square, and then walk back.

Next, is the decor. The feel is that of the British colonial era, peppered with Asian influences in the painting and the furniture. 

Despite being right next to the mall, the lounge area is very quiet and on Saturday night, there was a lady singing Jazz classics. Bring out the cheongsams and the embroidered fans already! I really want to have high tea there one day, cheongsam not necessary.

One unexpected perk, they upgraded our room to a Heritage room! The room is bigger in size and also comes with TWG tea and a Nespresso machine. The decor is also nicer, following the theme of the hotel.

How do hotels always keep their beds so soft and fluffy?? I badly want this bed in my own bedroom! 

Koolpoof and I agree, the bathroom with its double vanity and wide showerhead is a pretty shiok place to hang out in. Where too can I get a shower gel that smells as heavenly as their lemon verbena one?

Another weakness of mine: Hotel breakfasts. I love them. 

2 things I learned from their breakfast buffet: Warm maple syrup is tons better than room temperature, and honeydew-rockmelon juice is great when squeezed from a slow juicer!

I left the room with a sigh, thinking of that bed and I definitely won't mind coming here for another staycation! Till then, it's back to making my own bed......