The Younger Guy

But it seems that the more you try to fit in, the more you feel like an outsider, watching the ‘normal people’ as they go about their automatic existences. For every time you say club passwords like “Have a nice day” and “Weather’s awful today, eh?”, you yearn inside to say forbidden things like “Tell me something that makes you cry” or “What do you think deja vu is for?”. Face it, you even want to talk to that girl in the elevator and the balding man who walks past your cubicle at work are thinking the same thing? Who knows what you might learn from taking a chance on conversation with a stranger? Everyone carries a piece of the puzzle. Nobody comes into your life by mere coincidence. Trust your instincts. Do the unexpected. Find the others.  – Timothy Leary.

All my past relationships are of the same age except for my ex husband who was two years younger than me. Older guys somehow eluded me, no matter how hard I’ve tried to seek them out. My friends and I seem to have this common notion that older guys will take care of their younger partners. After going through relationships where I was the main caretaker and them the giver, I was curious how it would feel like to be switch roles for once. And my prayers are answered when I met that French guy. Partially.

I had just returned to Turkey from my father’s funeral and was not in the mood for a real relationship when the French guy entered. At that time, I was in between jobs and had time to kill, he came into Istanbul for some business trip and he wanted to meet me after chatting with me for some time online. I had him interested enough to know that I am intelligent enough to hold a deep conversation with him, therefore he wanted to meet me when he first arrived Istanbul. He was one year older than me, but because I look way younger than my usual age, he couldn’t believe our age difference was only by a year. And he looked at least 10 years older than me. But we clicked.

On our first meeting, I had made it clear that I wasn’t looking for anything long term. I was still at a grieving stage and would give anything to make me feel again. I had him interested enough for him to keep asking me out. Every day. So interested that he cancelled his appointment with his other potential date (and pissed her off permenantly but that’s not my problem). After a week, he went back home and I went back to my normal life and started my new job. Three months later, he came back to Turkey to look for me again.

In my head, I always assumed it was just a summer fling. Having a fling. It was one of those bucket list of things I have always wanted to experience so that at the end of my life, I could look back and said to myself, I have truly lived a rich life. I definitely did not factor him in coming back to visit again so soon. Being the nice asian girl I was brought up to be, I couldn’t say no and let him stay over at my house. But it was dreadful. And yet I kept up my cheerful self, playing the part of a geisha the whole time, while racking my brains trying to figure out what does he want from me. He had made it very clear that he is not looking for a relationship but I have no idea why he came. This dragged on for one year. Until one day he made a request: come to Paris and spend a few days with him. The catch? I have to leave my son behind in Turkey. Arrange someone to take care of him, he said. I never responded. To my relief, he never came looking for me again. That was the only experience I have with an older guy.

During that time, I met a younger guy. We have a 10-year gap between. And yet, we connected like no other guy I have ever met before. It was only much later I realized I had met my soulmate. But we were never romantically involved, mainly because I was not emotionally ready to accept anyone, and partly because he was way too young for me. But his mannerisms speaks of an old soul, someone way mature beyond his years. I was impressed with his intelligence and wit. He could get my dark humour and I could understand his quirks. We were fast friends. Until the day when he thought I haboured a crush on him and threatened me and my son with harm if I ever stalk him. But I didn’t even thought of or wanted to stalk him. It is not my character.

Evetually he did came around and sort of apologized for his harsh words, only to rub mud into my face by telling me I should be ashamed of myself for falling for someone so much younger than me. I wasn’t even that interested in him in dreaming of having any romantic relationship with this guy, in addition, I was busy getting stability into my life after being estranged from my biological family followed by my grief for my late father. Relationship was the last thing I was looking for. I lost all respect for this young chap that moment, so much so I needed to get away from him as fast as possible. By breaking all contact, I thought I could save some dignity of being insulted by this younger guy. But the weight of the shame when he threw those words at me haunted me for the next two years. I needed time to lick my pride and process those disgust swelling from my stomach pit. I swore to God I will never date any man younger than me by even a day. Perhaps, that’s why I am still single.

That is until recently, I saw this news on my Facebook feed last week.

“The next French President is 39 years old. But that is not the news.
He is married to a 64-year-old, that is still not the news. His wife was his class teacher 24 years ago…..not still the news.
His then class teacher had a daughter who was his classmate….everybody including his parents thought this teacher’s daughter was his girlfriend….nope they were wrong. He fell in love with his class teacher when he was 15….she was ‘happily married’ with 3 kids….now the ‘happily married’ is relative in this context.
At 17, he promised to marry her. She was at the time 42 years. They got married in 2007 with our man now 30…. well she was almost 55.
Next month he is going to be sworn-in as the President of France 6 months to his 40th birthday while his lovely wife who has 3 adult kids and 7 grandchildren (her first child is two years older than her husband while her second child, the former classmate/sweetheart is the same age as him).
His name is Emmanuel Macron (39) and he is the next President of France.

So if you’re single, relax. He is not born yet.”

As of yesterday, he was formally elected as the President of France. That’s when it hit me: Love is not a number. It’s a respect you have for the other person, no matter which age you are in. It is maturity, respect, sincerity and take tons of guts to go for smeone who is not of society standard of beauty and relationships. This story reminded me of a young man I met 14 years ago. He was telling me of his foreign girlfriend who had to return to her home country, and what he was attending the course I was attending in order to move to her country to be with her. And she was the older one. I encouraged him to go for it. I was moved by his certainty that she was the one for him. “Love is not a number”, I encouraged. He left soon after.

Two years have passed and the sting of those careless words now weigh less. After knowing the French President’s love story and getting to know a friend who is now dating a man younger than her by 15 years (and they are still going together after 8 years), it gave me new respect for the men who dare to break societal conventions and go after what they truly want. And set new standards for the next guy I want to be with: maturity and respect. They spell true maturity beyond their years.

Besides, my life is anything but normal. I take pride in being an independent single mother and am now more emotionally well-balanced. That in itself is already a success story. Perhaps it’s time for me to accept other unconventional experience if they come. Perhaps I should also follow my own advice, “Love is not a number”. So now I take comfort in these words – “So if you’re still single, relax. He is not born yet.” Maybe he is still in school. I can wait. I am not in a rush anyway.


Why Are There No Tiny Bears? (Humour)

Clear Sky, 19°C

Suadiye Mahallesi

There goes this legend of how the three tiny bears got extinct: one day, a famine descended onto their land and wiped out all the fishes in the sea. And so the three tiny bears came together in front of God and prayed to him. The first bear (on the right) had no clue what was going on around him and was happy being the ignorant one, so he didn’t pray to God for fishes. The middle bear saw some pretty girls from afar, and was so busy staring at them, he had totally forgotten about God standing in front of him. The last bear (on the left) threw up his arms in exasperation and cried to God, “Why God, am I stuck with these morons?!?” 😂😂

*The bears are designed and handmade by myself,using acrylic yarns. Please let me know if you need more information or use the designs.*

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Your Life Will Not Change Until You Start Taking Action

People who are in love behave similarly to people suffering from mental disorders. – unknown psychological facts.

I have this colleague who has been telling me he wishes to marry and start a family for the longest time I had known him. After hearing him griped on his still single status for almost two years, he suddenly made this startling proposal last week: what if we, you and I, just simply get married to each other? To which, I  simply replied, “whaaaaaaaaaat!?” and shot him a horrified and shocked look, signalling: out of question! That was the easiest rejection I have ever made.

After my initial shock subsided, I am geniunely surprised at him even considering me as potantial partner because I have always been bullying him at workplace: I have lost count how many times I rolled my eyes at him, openly chided him for being incompetent and ocassionally threw sarcastic remarks at him (yes, I can be mean and love to keep people at a distance with my sarcasm. I am simply not known to be a warm person). But I am not cynical about love. I have friends who are in love with their partners and I am perfectly fine with that. After a failed marriage, my idea of love has changed. Life is too short to settle. I would like a passionate affair with the one whom I feel deserves my attention, to be with the one who makes me feel passion for life, the one supports me in every way, including my unexplainable urge to keep my 8-year-old cat pillow in my bed at all times. In fact, I have no intention to get married. Ever. Because I do not wish to be distracted, get drunk on love and become mentally impaired like those suffering from mental disorders. Most importantly, I put my career first. I love my life even more when I have reasons to wake up in the morning, which translates to work that fulfills my hunger for my purpose. And being in tourism or in love with anyone who couldn’t support my love for creating arts, couldn’t entice me to jump out of my warm toasty bed in the mornings nor keep myself up late into the nights. That’s when I realized one truth: your life won’t change until you take action. Action is the foundational key to all success. Knowing is NOT doing.

Like my friend who griped on and on of his single status, I have been telling anyone who have ears in the past two years of my wish to change career. Be your own boss and start bullying others, said my best friend, who often poked fun of my strong character in pushing people to get what I want. She reasoned that since I can’t change myself to be submissive and be the perfect employee (even though I’ve gotten romantically dumped once for not being docile enough and yet, I still couldn’t will myself to be less strong-willed), I should perhaps simply work for myself. But to become what? Since I couldn’t make up my mind, I have been stuck in tourism, running in circles for the past two years without any significant change. Neither did I see any growth, career wise or financially. It was starting to take a toll onto me. So when the tourism crisis hit Turkey the past year, I consider it a blessing in disguise, because only then it forces me to think more creatively. And I picked up my first love once again: arts.

Start by building. Pick one project and do whatever you have to do to ship it out. If you want to write a book, start by writing a post at least once a week, (I have been writing for the past six years, so now I have tons of materials to pick and compile into a book). If you want to become an artist, start by creating drawings and pick up that paint brush, (I went a step further by sharing my paintings on all my social media and created a public instagram which created awareness for my works. I have improved a lot since). If you want to be known for your handicrafts, start by getting those yarns and crochet something, anything that catches your eye. (I picked up my needles again to create handmade toys and bags because I was too broke to buy presents for all the birthdays my son had to attend every week). Anyone can do it. The best part is, it created a lot of attention and generated even more social invites for my son from mothers who wish to get my handmade gifts for their children. With each birthday party my son attended, I walked out with more projects that could keep me busy this summer.

Deep in thoughts, Mr. Bear? #crochet #bag #gift #birthday #children

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A gift for a friend's newborn baby #illustration #cartoonart #drawing #cartoon #decor

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Once you start building and launching your projects, you won’t be able to stop. It is that addictive. Soon, building will become part of your identity. Even if your project fails, you will still keep at it. (I have created a partial colouring book which I had sent out to publishers but have yet to received news. Despite that failure to gain publication, I kept moving on and have already started painting projects for my friends’ bedrooms, at their requests). The steps that you take today will compound over time. All I did was picking up my pencils and started drawing again (and of course, posting up on social media helps a lot) three years ago. It helped that my efforts was met with praises and encouragement along the way. Friends and acquaintances chipped in their two-cents worth advice on how should I go on. And today I’ve gotten my first order to design and make a small gift for an upcoming birthday party for 30 children.

Build and launch your projects. Use this process to hone your craft or expand to other areas, so that when opportunity knocks, you’re ready to take full advantage of it.

Luck always favors the prepared.

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I am coming, Olie!

I am coming, Olie!

Painting on a white 230g, 270x195mm watercolour paper. Been trying my hands on watercolour and acrylic painting lately.

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As One Door Closes, Another Will Open: The Beauty of Letting Go

And so we enter our lives as Fools – untapped potential, unaware of what we are stepping into.
We forge our identities as individuals from The Magician to The Hierophant. With The Lovers, we see ourselves for the first time in the mirror of another.
We move out into the world with this new knowledge and we attempt to balance what we now hold (The Chariot and The Strength).
We take what we have gathered and we move within to integrate it (The Hermit) , while preparing ourselves for change that comes on integration’s heels (The Wheel of Fortune).
We meet with reckoning (Justice), we sacrifice, or are sacrificed, for the decisions we make (The Hanged Man); we die to ourselves in order to be born again (Death).
We are given the opportunity to understand what it is to walk between spiritual and physical, sacred and profane (Temperance), before descending into the shadows to bring our darkness into the light (The Devil).
Through this experience structure, that can no longer support us are destroyed (The Tower); we re-connect with something greater than ourselves (The Star), and we learn to hear the shadowy whisperings of the soul (The Moon).
Through illumination (The Sun), disowned, disembodied parts of our psyche are reunited (Judgement); and as one door closes, so another opens.
It is at this juncture of closing-opening that we embody The World.
(From The World – A Door Closes; A Door Opens)

I have just recently inherited a deck of Archetype cards. I was visiting my friend back in Singapore when she opened up her storage room. There it was, the red box, sitting pretty on her almost empty shelves in that dark storage room. And it was calling me to pick it up. Even though I had picked up a bit of tarot reading when I was still in high school, these Archetype cards are very different from what I was used to. I was bewildered when I opened it to find there was very little instructions on how to do a reading, much less on how to use the cards. Still, I was intrigued by what I felt when I picked up the cards.

Rocking on the rocking chair, chatting with my friend, she was recounting her recent encounter with a friend of hers and it was apparent she was having some difficulties with her friend but she could not comprehend nor articulate exactly what was the problem. It was then I picked out cards one by one and explained her situation in context with the cards. It was as if the spotlight had shone unto her, illuminating her path. She was blown away by how precise and accurate the cards have displayed her situation. At the same time, I was fascinated by the cards, but also by myself.

I have always been interested in the supernatural stuff. My cousin too. I used to go to his house every week and read up on werewolves, vampires, ghosts but what intrigued me most was the topic on ESP (Extra Sensory Perception). That was the reason why I picked up tarot cards from a bookstore one day. As I was fumbling through the cards, I couldn’t undertsand what I was reading nor could I connect with the cards. Perhaps I was too young to understand or knew what I was doing. I threw away the cards when I found out they would inevitably absorb my own energy and I was spooked by what I read, and so into the trashcan they went. I wanted to have nothing to do with the non physical world. I thought that was the end of it.

Or so I thought. Until a few years ago.

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The friend who gave me the deck of cards knew of my prophetic dreams. I would dream of things that would come to pass – starting from my going to a particular high school; how I would end my relationships with all my ex-boyfriends, even before we started dating; my moving overseas to Turkey and marrying into a Turkish family; my own divorce before I even gotten married. It was as if my future life was being played out right in my dreams. And yet, I have a difficult time accepting this. My friend pointed it out it happened too many times to be considered a coincidence. But still part of me refused to accept it. My father used to say, “It’s all a coincidence.” I clung unto his words fiercely as they put me at ease. My father cannot be wrong, he is my father, I had tried to convince myself otherwise and ignored the signs. But they never stop coming.

After my father died, I returned to Turkey shortly after and started my new job in a new company. I was looking for a fresh start. Barely 6 months into my company, I saw him. I didn’t get to see his face, but I remembered clearly his back as he walked past my window. I looked up from my desk, my eyes glued onto his back. He seemed familiar, I knew him somewhere, but I couldn’t recall where I had met him. Somehow, deep inside, I knew he would play an important role in my life.

We became close friends very fast. In fact, too close. Some people have warned that maybe he could be interested in me and that I should stay away. In private, I could not deny the magnetic pull he had on me. I refused to accept I may could have habour a crush but I simply couldn’t figure out why. He is too young. I was horrified.

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The end of our friendship came the day when he told me he shouldn’t hang out with me anymore, simply because I don’t belong to his social class. In fact, I could sense his disgust at me. How could I fall for someone so much younger? He posed that question at me. I avoided him that day on.

I guessed he took pity on me or maybe he felt we should keep a cordial relationship since we were both working in the same company then. He was going to be the future boss afterall, so maybe he figured he should get along with everyone in the company. I couldn’t get past the humiliation of being told I was too low to be his friend, and so I quit soon after. I thought I could put all that behind me. But I was so wrong.

In the next two years, he kept appearing in my dreams: I saw him and his girlfriend in my dreams (a long haired, tall brunette girl); when the company got folded, I saw his despair in my dreams; I could feel his presence when he was in the country or his absence when he went overses. In fact, he kept appearing in my dreams every few months, as if trying to share his happiness, joy, sadness, despair with me. Telepathically. I almost went insane trying to get him out of my dreams. I simply wanted the messages to stop. But it continued for the next two years.

He is your twin flame. My friend tried to explain the concept to me. But I was too distraught to get it through my head. And so I kept running away, not realizing that I was in fact just running on the spot. I kept asking why I kept seeing him in my dreams. And it was starting to get exhausting.

Not every person we meet is ready to commit to us.

Each one of us is an irreplaceable, unique, complex creature, embarking on our own soul journey, born with different thoughts, feelings, beliefs, motivations, intentions, desires and needs. We may place unrealistic conditions and expectations on this person, and when they can’t or won’t meet them, we take it personally and are left feeling dejected or worse, unwanted. And we start to question if there was ever a connection in the first place.

In reality, we may not be compatible at the period in time. It is usually no one’s fault and for some unknown reasons, often hidden, something is causing relationship dysfunction and disarray, and the connections simply won’t flow. The only option left is to take a huge leap of faith and calmly let it go.

Yes, it is essential to work out how to release our grip and surrender so that whatever is meant to be can truly become, without us pressuring it to be something different. Sometimes, the bravest and most courageours thing we can do is to resist the temptation to cling and gently let all our attachments to this person go. Surrender.

By surrendering and letting go, we are replaced with an immense belief and faith in ourselves and also the person we are choosing to let go of. We are sending out a strong spiritual signal to the universe that we trust in our own ability to deal with what is and what isn’t meant for us – most importantly, trust the other person to make choices that align fully with what they want for their lives as well.

As we open up this channel and sweep clean of the old energy, fresh new energy flushes in. With it arrives opportunities and possibilties that we wouldn’t have noticed before. All our energy was so caught up in holding onto the past, that it was blocking us from any new beginnings in the future. In a way, it is like sweeping out the negative energy so that positive energy can flow in. And it takes a huge leap of faith. But it is worth it.

I always believe that each and every significant others, be it friendship, lover or family, has a soul contract with one another. As soon as I gave in and surrender, he stopped visiting my dreams. I had stopped asking why I found him so familiar in the first place, I had stopped asking how we were related in our past lives, I simply accepted that I recognized him on my soul level.

As I shuffled my newly inherited cards, and pulled out the Lover and Liberator cards, I knew then his role is to awaken my senses so that I can accept my gifts. Just like my father passed and was swept away physically from my life, my letting go ushered in new positive energy and new understanding of myself in place of the vacuum in my heart.

Letting go brings in fresh energy and revitalises stagnant relationships by allowing others to grow. Surrendering shows us the beauty that can be found in the present moment when it is not pushed, pulled or twisted due to our fear of the future or oppressed due to our regrets from our past.

When a door closes, another will inevitably open. We just have to keep our hearts open.

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What Is Your Life Purpose?

 Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life…..Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And, most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. – Steve Jobs, 2005

What is success? I have been asked this question a couple of years back by my therapist.

Back in the university days, my friends envied me; I knew what I wanted to be – a criminal psychologist. And I worked hard towards that goal. After one lecture, I approached my professor to take me under his wing for my assignment and driven myself hard to enter the prestigious honours program, just because one of the modules offered was law and criminal psychology. Needless to say, I was one of the 38 out of 200 students who got in. Guess what? I hated it. After that, I was clueless what I want to do with my life. I graduated with honours and became a clinical psychologist at a local hospital in the neurology department (not exactly my choice but I will try anything I got my chance on). Testing elderly patients day after day, preparing reports to confirm their dementia and presented their cases every Tuesday during department meetings, where basically one psychologist (I am not spared) would get targeted and humiliated real bad by one of the Neurologists (my boss), are very far off from what I really want from my life. That’s where I learned to grow my elephant hide to hide my true emotions. I got buried deep inside myself in order not to feel. And I got lost.

I never showed my true feelings so nobody could tell I was deeply disturbed working for that sadistic boss. So it was a surprise (to everyone but not to me) when I decided not to renew my contract and left the hospital and subsequently, my birth country soon after. I moved overseas to become a tour agent instead. And since I have been dictated by the events in my life: marriage, birth of my son, divorce, being a single parent. I stopped asking myself what I truly want in my life since coming to Istanbul. All I can think of what is going to happen tomorrow. I would take whatever was offered to me. It was until recently, I was offered to relocate to Israel to be a translator and a tour agent. Again. But this time, I paused to think. Frankly speaking, I had lost passion for my work. I truly hated my job with my heart and soul. Even worse, I am starting to hate my life. I am nowhere near answering this question: what is success? I felt like a total failure and a big fraud all this time. But then, this is the same struggle almost every adult goes through (so I am not alone afterall): “What do I want to do with my life?” “What am I passionate about?” “What do I not suck at?”

There are scores of online tests out there in the internet world, trying to find your “life mission”. Just type in “life purpose test”, and you’ll get a whole bunch of online tests, helping to figure out what to do with yourself. The idea is born out of a belief that each and every one of us is born for some higher purpose and it’s our cosmic mission to try to find it. Some lucky ones may simply stumble upon it, but the majority of us (the unfortunate ones including myself) have to go through crisis after crisis to find it. Why not simply click a few buttons, and viola, the internet will figure it all out for you. Isn’t internet perfect and wonderful? It saves time too!

Uh-uh, life doesn’t work that way. Trust me, I have been down that rabbit hole and I’ve gotten even more confused. “You are always so busy! Stay still, otherwise they (the cosmic universe) won’t be able to download information into your head, and you will go running for nothing again.” My friend chided and offered me a zen approach to life – do mediation and yoga. She flew half a world across to cheer me up at my lowest point in time. The problem is, I don’t know how to chill. And so I tried to drown myself down with half a tub of ice cream in the cold weather of Istanbul and came down with a cold so bad I was forced to hole up at home. And so my time for reading and reflection begins.

The truth is this: we exist on earth for a predetermined period of time.During that time, we do things. Things that are important and things that are unimportant. Those important things give our lives meaning and happiness. And the unimportant ones basically are created to pass time. So when people ask, “what should I do with my life?”, basically they are asking “what can I do with my time that is important?” Which adds meaning and happiness to our being. Probably we can start asking ourselves (and myself) these questions.

1. What shit sandwich are you willing to eat?

Here’s another life truth: everything involves sacrifice.

Everything comes with some sort of cost. Nothing is pleasurable all the time. It’s impossible. So the question you should be looking is: what struggle or sacrifice are you willing to tolerate? Ultimately, what determines our success is our ability to stick with something we care about that we are willing to endure the rough patches and ride out the awful days.

G.Richard Shell listed out a six lives exrecise in his book, Success, Your Way: Do What You’re Meant To Do, in which you are asked to rank the order in your preference: a successful teacher but her daughter ran away and refused contact with any of her family; a rich, accomplished banker who runs a charity work but is a single parent by choice; a wealthy investor who holds parties all the time but never marries; a stone mason who is not rich but he lives near and close to all his children; a tennis pro who adopts her children but never has enough time to spend with her children; and a nonprofit executive who quits his high paying job when he decided to “heed God’s call”, and plans to move his family, despite strong protests from his children, to rural Africa for his volunteer work. There are two sides to success: inner harmony and outer accomplishment.

In each of these six lives, something is missing, either family harmony or outward achievements, and we live our lives trying to balance between the two. It is worth noting which parts of your life – your hobbies, your career, your passion, your interests, your volunteer work or your family – speaks out to you more. If one of these lives speak much more clearly to you, then it may be telling you something about the direction you want your life to take.

What unpleasant experiences are you able to handle? What shit sandwich do you want to eat? Because we all get served one eventually. Might as well pick one with that fat tomato.

2. What is true about you today that would make your 10-year-old self cry?

When I was a child, I loved to draw. My first cartoon I imitated was Snoopy. Then I graduated to Garfield and his sidekick, Odie. I loved to collect Garfield comic books so that I can draw the parts I love about him – his food. I would draw for the sheer joy of it and gave away whatever I drew. And people loved it.

For some reason, I stopped. The major reason being my parents opposed to me taking my drawing further. Being the typical Chinese family, drawing or cartooning is deemed a dead-end career. My father would shut the topic down by asking a rhetorical question: have you ever seen a cartoonist becoming rich? (Of course, one of them is Jim Davis, creator of Garfield. He has a net worth of $800 million! Oh why didn’t we have internet when my father asked me that idiotic question). But I didn’t know much then. Out of soul-crushing disappointment, I tore up all my work  and threw them away, determined to wipe away all traces of memory of how much I loved drawing. When I became an adult much later, I am amazed to find out my friends actually kept my drawings. It never occurred to me how much my drawings meant to them or how much they loved them.

We have a tendency to lose touch with what we loved as a child. Social pressure, familial pressure and professional pressure squeezes the passion out of us. We are taught that the only reason to do something is if we’re somehow rewarded for it.

It wasn’t until recently I rediscovered my love in drawing. At first, my friends mocked at my immature cartoon when I first posted up on my Facebook: I can draw better than that when I was 10!  Did your son drew that? That was the encouragement I’ve gotten. But it didn’t deterred me. I kept drawing and painting, and posting them shamelessly up my social media. Until one day, some people left messages to say they look forward to my cartoons and encouraged me to try publication. I am still sitting on it.I never believe my works until my friend and I stumbled on an Arts gallery. Upon looking at one of the canvas, she remarked to me, “If this (bad quality) can make it into a gallery, you totally can make it.” It gave me hope that day.

If my 10-year-old self were to ask my 39-year-old self, “Why don’t you draw anymore?”, and I would reply, “Because I am not good at it”, “Because I didn’t go to school for it”, “Because nobody would buy my works”, or “Because you can’t make money out of drawing”, I think my 10-year-old would probably cry.

3. How can you better embarrass yourself?

Before you are able to be good at something, you must first suck at it and have no clue what you are doing. And in order to suck at something, you must embarrass yourself in some shape or form, often repeatedly. That’s where most people fail to progress – they try to avoid embarrassing themselves, precisely because it sucks. If you avoid doing anything that could potentially embarrass you, then you will never end up doing something that feels important.

Right now, there’s something you want to do, something you have been thinking of doing, something you fantasized about doing, and yet you don’t do it. Reasons? “My friends would make fun of me”, “If I fail, I would look like an idiot” or “I am not good enough”, then chances are you are avoiding something you truly care about because caring about it scares the shit out of you.

Great things are usually unique and unconventional. Therefore to achieve them, we must go against the herd mentality. And to do that in itself is scary.

Embrace embarrassment. Being foolish is part of the path to achieving something of great importance. The more a major decision scares you, chances are you need to take the action and go for it.

Which means I need to get my shit together and send in my publication. Which coincidentally my friend did on my behalf. I simply sent him my works and he did the introduction. Screw looking stupid.

4. How are you going to save the world?

The world always has a few problems. If you see the news, the “few problems” usually means “everything in this world is fucked up and we are all heading towards annihilation.”

So pick a problem and start saving the world. There are plenty to choose from. Education, economic development, domestic violence, mental health care, government corruption, racism, terrorism, civilization displacement. Find a problem you care about and start solving it. Obviously, you are not going to fix the world’s problems by yourself. But you can contribute and make a difference. And that feeling of making a difference is ultimately what’s most important for your own happiness and fulfillment.

In fact, it can start as simply as at home. For starters, me refusing to bow down to my ex husband’s violence is a major step for me. Subsequently, my challenge broadens to keeping my son in a good reputable school he enjoys. Every night, as I lay my head onto my pillow, I am contented to know I am making a difference in my, and my son’s life.

5. If you had to leave house all day, every day, where would you go and what would you do?

Complacency is our biggest enemy. We get into our routines. We distract ourselves. Nothing new happens. We don’t sit and think what we want. Until some crisis strike.

What most people don’t understand is that passion is the result of action, not the cause of it.

Discovering what you are passionate about requires a full time trail-and-error process. It is like a full-contact sport, none of us knew exactly how we feel about an activity until we actually do the activity. That’s how I know I could not make it in criminal psychology. I hated the lessons. And now I’ve lost my passion in tourism. But hey, at least I gave it a shot.

So where would you go and what would you do? Whatever strikes your fancy, write down a few answers and then go out and actually do them. Dance class? Chess class? Drawing class? Get another degree? Learn to parachute? Take the advice from Nike – Just do it.

6. Imagine you have a kid, what would you be to become a hero in his/her eyes?

My son loves to buy his favourite chicken rice from a particular store. One day, the owner, trying to strike a conversation with him, asked: what would you like to be when you grow up? My son’s ambitions vary greatly, like the unpredictable weather of Istanbul. One day he wanted to be a footballer; the next he would fancy himself to be an artist/painter; for a period of time, he wanted to become a dinosaur archaeologist; and once, he actually wanted to be a vase maker, just because a beautiful vase can fetch an indecent amount of money (whoever gave him that idea?). So that day, he aimed to be an artist again. Why? He reasoned his mother is an artist (why would he assume that?) so he aspires to be an artist (like his mom) one day.

What is your legacy going to be? What are the stories people are going to tell behind your back? How would you want to be remembered? How can you start working towards that today?

When people feel like they have no sense of direction, no purpose in their life, it’s because they don’t know what’s important to them and they don’t know what their values are.

And when you don’t know what your values are, then you will take on other people’s values and live their priorities instead of your own. This is a one-way ticket to unhealthy relationships and misery island.

Discovering one’s “life purpose” boils down to finding those one or two things that are biggest than yourself, and bigger than those around you. To find them, you need to get out of that door and explore, take the time to think beyond yourself, to think greater than yourself, and think what makes you a hero in the eyes of your 10-year-old self.

Because your life is constantly a work in progress. We will be constantly working on the art of our lives, until the day we die.


The Three Loves To Discover My Purpose

There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change others.  – unknown.

It’s been said that we only fall in love with three people on our lifetime. And yet, it is believed that we need each of these loves for a different reason.

The first love – The love that looks right

The first love begins when we were young. It’s the kind of idealistic love – the one that seems like fairy tales.

This type of love appeals to what we should be seen with, what we should be doing for society’s sake, and probably for our families too. We tend to enter it with the belief that this will be our only love. It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t feel right, we change ourselves, just so to suit the person we think is the “right one” for us. Because deep down, we believe this is what love is supposed to be. In this type of love, how others view us is more important than how we actually feel.

This is the love that looks right.

My first love started at age 12. He was the boy who sat opposite me in class. We were seated in such a way that we had to face each other everyday. Every. Single. School. Day.

I never really notice him. Until the day he made me cry.

We were checking answers over an assignment we had just completed and he caught me changing my answer. I figured since our teacher had not gone over the question I had changed my answer to and the boy sitting next to me just warned me of my mistakes, I changed it without thinking much. But the boy sitting opposite me caught me, proceed to accuse me of cheating and sharply reprimanded me. Being the quiet me who bottled her feelings inside, I simply hung my head. It was only the boy sitting next to me noticed my bowed head that he realized I was silently weeping and reprimanded the boy sitting opposite me. He bit his tongue and kept quiet for the rest of the day.

The next day, he tried to crack jokes for me. His lame jokes combined with his constipated face, managed to elicit a smile on my face that day. He then sighed a relief, believing the transgression from yesterday had been forgiven and forgotten. It was a moment of tenderness. Subsequently, he was often teased for making a huge effort in towards me – sharing his potato carving for our potato print lessons, sharing his pencils and sang a couple of songs to entertain me. He was known to be quite selfish with his possessions and affections. But he never confessed his feelings for me. The whole class teased us but we pretended nothing happened.

Until 10 years later, where he confessed his feelings in private at a gathering my friends and I organized. That was how we started dating for the next three years.

He broke up with me after struggling internally for 3 years, simply because I didn’t look right in the eyes of his church. He decided that I didn’t fit into the criteria set by the church of being the holy wife for him. Our love just doesn’t look right to him and his social circle. Ashamed and broken, I left the country permanently to start a new life.

The second love – The love we wished was right

The second love is supposed to be our hard love – the one that teaches us lessons about who we are, what we want in life and how we need to be loved. It is the love that forces us to discover who we are. The kind of love that hurts, whether through lies, pain or manipulation.

At times, you’ll think you are both fated to be together forever. At other times, you wish to bite each other’s head off.

It’s passionate. It’s heart-wrenching. You might break-up, patch up and break up again. Each time realizing it’s just not meant to be. Sometimes it’s unhealthy, unbalanced or even narcissistic. There may be emotional, mental or even physical abuse or manipulation. Most likely there will be high level of drama too. This is exactly what is addictive – the emotional roller-coaster of extreme highs and lows. Like a junkie getting a fix, we stick through the lows with the expectation of the high.

We think we are making different choices than our first, but in reality we are making choices out of our need to learn the lessons. Our second love can become a cycle, often repeating it because we somehow think this time, the ending will be different than before. Yet, each time we try, it somehow ends worse than before.

With this kind of love, trying to make it work becomes more important than whether it actually should.

It’s the love that we wished was right.

I chose and married my now ex-husband, who was totally different from my first love, emotionally, physically and even mentally. I entered marriage, believing that all it takes is willpower and determination to make it through, hoping that it will somehow last forever. Who doesn’t believe that? And so the emotional drama, the extreme highs and crashing lows started, and the cycle of abuse set in. I was spat at, slapped, stolen money from me, awoken from deep sleep, picked up and thrown across a room, and had a toaster oven thrown at me. Furniture broke. The house almost torn down. I had lost count the number of times police came. And each time, he came begging for forgiveness. I had very much wanted our marriage to work and so each time, I gave in. I had never wanted to accept that I had made a wrong decision.

Until the day the barrel of water narrowly missed hitting my then two-year old son. I will never forgive him nor myself if he were to die from his father’s abuse. I made the hard decision to go to my neighbours to beg for help that day he threw me out of the house. I waited for the police to pick him up, packed our luggage and fled together with my son. The last I heard from him was he remarried and moved to Japan. My son believed he was dead since he had not seen his father for more than 5 years. That was the love I had wished it was right.

The third love – The love that feels right

This is the love we never see coming. The one that looks all wrong for us and destroys any lingering ideals we clung to about what love is supposed to be. It’s the kind of connection that can’t be explained and knocks us off our feet because we never planned for it.

Perhaps you are not looking for love, or you think that your personalities would clash. But the connection is unmistakable.  This is the love where we come together and it just fits. We are simply accepted for who we are – and it shakes us to the core.

It isn’t what we envisioned our love would look like, nor does it abide by the rules that we had hoped to play it safe by. It shatters our preconceived notions about love and shows us that love doesn’t have to be how we thought in order to be true.

It’s the love that just feels right.

I will never forget that day. He walked past my cubicle but I only managed to see the back of his head. Yet somehow, I already knew he would play an important role in my life, as if I had known him many past lifetimes before. It was as if this was the person I was waiting for.

We were introduced by our colleague and we instantly clicked. It was as if I had found the other part of my soul. We had similar personalities and we gel very well. People started coming up to me asking if we were dating. Our connections were that pure and strong. People noticed. But this connection seems all wrong – he was way younger than I am. So, I had to leave and disappear. It looked so wrong. But it felt so right it broke my heart completely.

I was very good at hiding away from people and becoming a hermit. And yet, I saw him in my dreams – him returning home from overseas, before he told me of his intentions; when he started dating someone else, I dreamt of him and his girlfriend; his despair and disappointments communicated through my dreams. And yet, I continued to hide away from our circle of friends. I simply don’t know what to do or how to react. 

My friend sat me down today and asked, “What is it do I really want in life?” Exactly the same question my father asked four years ago. And yet, today I am nowhere closer to discovering what I want or who I am. Perhaps my journey is not about love, maybe it’s about purpose. Maybe it’s about finding my passion and following it. Or maybe it’s about roaming and travelling the world until I find meaning in life or until I figure out what exactly I am born to do.

Maybe it’s about inspiration. Maybe it’s about meeting a bunch of people who inspire me to live better, to be better, to learn something or maybe these people will enlighten me with their wisdom, with their stories and the moments that changed their lives. I love listening to people’s stories, perhaps I had hoped to find my meaning among their stories of hope, courage, enlightenment and love. Maybe it’s about doing something solo so I can truly listen to my thoughts, so that I can truly make decisions not influenced by anyone. Maybe it’s about being inspired by myself, to understand my strength, my abilities, my battles and my stories. Maybe my journey is about changing my own life.

Looking earnestly at my friend, I could picture myself drawing and painting in that desk I had imagined myself many times to sit behind. It was a long forgotten dream I had years before these three loves entered my life.

Perhaps my journey is not about finding love, maybe it’s about loving myself. Maybe it’s about rebuilding myself. To become a better person, in turn, help others find meaning, hope and courage. Perhaps that’s what life journey is all about – to lift each other up. And it took three loves to make me realize this.