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.

 

Family May Not Be Blood Relatives

We are often let down by the most trusted person and loved by the most unexpected ones. Some make us cry for things that we haven’t done, while others ignore our faults and just see our smile. Some leave us when we need them the most, while some stay with us even when we ask them to leave. The world is a mixture of people. We just need to know which hand to shake and which hand to hold. After all, that’s life, learning to hold on and learning to let go. – unknown.

I have heard that life starts at 40. But I think life truly starts when you knew how hard life can knock you down and at the same time, put the broken things back together to form a new life form. It starts the day you know how to enjoy, glide, sync, dance with the flow and rejoice in every diversity life that could bring you.

I have lived through days so dark, I could not even get up from bed at all. There are days that you are just having a hard time to grasp the reality of your life and accept that there is always a tomorrow. But remember this: tomorrow always come brand new.

Anger, pain, disappointments, doubts, grief, failures rob us from happiness and enjoying the life laid bare in front of us. This is natural. And it is okay to feel like the bottom of the food chain. There is always a first time and no one can judge you for feeling the way you felt. But life should not stop there.

I took my father’s death the hardest. It was four years ago. He came to visit me in Turkey just three months before he passed on. In his words, he relished with pride he had fulfilled his duties as a father by fully paying for my brother’s and my sister’s masters education in Australia, and for helping my brother start out his life by paying for the downpayment of his current home. Then he turned to me and asked, “what do you really want?” He promised it’s my turn that he would start giving me the attention I deserved. But he died before he could fulfill his promise. With his death, there laid not only the ashes of my father, who encouraged me along this journey of life, but also the graveyard of my two cherished wishes: to further my studies and a house to my name.

After his funeral, I uncovered a can of worms. With an email full of hatred from my sister, I discovered that my mother had been lying about me and that she had been poisoning whatever relationships I have with my blood family. And so I was forced to make Turkey my home since life is simply to hostile for me to live under one roof with my family. With that determination, I set roots onto Turkey with a heavy heart.

In the next three years, my mother had been trying to make amendments by being nice and supportive of me living abroad as a single mother by sending me financial support in order to send my son to a private school. With that promise, I enrolled my son to a private school. Until last year.

My mother started dropping hints that she will have to cut the payment to my son’s education because she might not be able to get tenant to her private apartment. Subsequently she made it known that I would be cut from my father’s inheritance simply because I don’t live in the same country as her so she decided that I do not deserve anything from my father, despite I had the rights to his inheritance. I was livid.

The last straw came when an old schoolmate started dropping cryptic messages on my Facebook about the “pitiful” plight of my mother. It was after talking to her that I realized my mother had started her lies again. This time, it didn’t just stop at my immediate family members. Her lies started to spread to my circle of friends and acquaintances. And it was getting difficult to maintain any friendly relationships with my circle of friends and acquaintances. I was getting paranoid at how low she would get. And so I hit back with the only fear I knew she had: my father’s inheritance. With a verbal threat of hiring a lawyer, which of course, I didn’t hire as I could hardly afford it. Then her lawyer replied and named a price.

In my mother’s heart, I was worth only 1% of my family’s value. ¬†Her bitching, her mudslinging, her sarcasm, her curses towards me is only valued at 1%. With that 1%, she wanted me to shut up forever. And she had specifically told me I would “not get a single cent from her after her passing”. What hurt me was not the money but the wording the lawyer chose as it was written my mother had decided to part the money “out of her goodwill”. Out of “goodwill”? Whatever that means. I stored that email away and deleted her and the rest of my family members’ numbers. I never hear from her again.

There is a reason why people call those system “roots”. To have your roots fully pulled out and have your whole childhood (mostly bad actually) wiped out is not an easy feat. Festive seasons are always the hardest to endure since I live alone with my son. And so I sank down deeper into depression. I had lost all hopes of a tomorrow. I even started to let my son know of the organisation that looks after orphan children should anything happen to me. I was that depressed. I had completely lost all my confidence and self-worth. But neither my Facebook nor Instagram betrayed any of my dark thoughts. So all my friends didn’t notice anything odd with me.

Then an old friend decided to pay me an unexpected visit.

If you have an old school friend who “gets” you in every way, you are considered extremely lucky. This is the very friend, whom I had known for 22 years, whom I can talk anything, including spiritual stuffs. Along the journey of life, we have encouraged and helped each other grow, mentally, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually. I have come to recognize her as part of my soul family since we would inevitably experience the same challenges and growth in almost similar time of our lives. Most importantly, you know they would always get your back. Despite our falling outs and we had once stopped talking to each other for 7 years, we would resumed our friendship just like where we had left, minus the negative emotions from our last fallout. (With me often the one to run away from people and relationships and they, being the initiator and patch up our friendships.) I had learnt the lesson of truly forgive AND forget. And it seemed my soul had been calling out to her, that’s why she had the sudden urge to fly half the world to see me. She helped me reconciled my grief for my father, my grief for the loss of my roots, and most importantly, my grief for the loss of myself and self-worth.

Sometimes these dark things were allowed to happen for us to experience life. For us to appreciate the nothingness and abundance. To love, to patiently wait and to give. It is for your gain. It is for your betterment.

If you lost something or someone, you feel like a failure, you feel disappointed, or even disillusioned, just always remember that these things happened on time, and for a reason. It is allowed to happen because there is a new that will replace the old, to discover who are really cheering on your side. Your family may not even be your blood family. Your real family are your soul family, encouraging you every step of your way.

 

 

 

What is the use of regret?

I left him in the past, but he is still present in my heart. – unknown.

If I live every moment
Won’t change any moment
Still a part of me and you
I will never regret you
Still the memory of you
Marks everything I do  – Jordin Sparks, Tattoo

Recently I read a post, when your parents choose their religion over you, somehow the descriptions eerily reminded me of a distance past life I was desperately trying to erase. In that post, the author described how he was forced to leave his entire social network, support system and his identity when he decided to leave a strict religious group. Religion is a topic I would avoid like plague. Whenever people asked about my faith, I would give such vague answers, I believe they will start to wonder about my mental instability. Not once I gave a straight answer. In fact, I surprised a friend who had known me for a number of years when she found out that I do sometimes go church. On my own time. Without the congregation. Even fewer people knew I was baptized in the year 2002. My closest friend doesn’t even know this.

My ex boyfriend brought me to a church that considered itself as “non-denominational” or “fundamentalist”. It was cult-like. Even though the congregation was small, the church’s seating would be clearly divided into half: the men would sit on the left while the women would sit on the right. Sundays would mean I had to wear skirts. Pants were frown upon. So it was a struggle for me to switch to wearing skirts since I am always the pants person. My family had been trying to get me to parade in skirts with hilarious results. No amount of praise or flattery could get me to wear skirts. I could tell my family were edgy, worrying needlessly over whether was I a lesbian, or worse, a butch. It all changed when I met my ex. Let’s assume it’s the power of love. Come Sunday, I would dutifully donned on a skirt and go for my Sunday service. I was a changed person. It was a miracle.

I was considered a controversy. Simply because I was brought to church by my ex. So they questioned my sincerity in coming before Christ. I would occasionally be grilled over my knowledge in Christianity by my cell leader. It came to a point whereby it felt that they were trapping me with their bible knowledge to “prove” that I was a fake. A wolf in sheep’s clothing, frolicking among the sheeps of the feeble young minds, the offsprings of the seasoned true Christians who fought their right to believe in Jesus. Sometimes it felt like they were afraid I would poisoning the young ones with my worldly ways. I was a fucking target board. Did I forget to mention that I was trained professionally as a psychologist? And according to them, the study of psychology is against the word of God (Oh please!). Let’s assume it’s the power of love on my ex part to continue his relationship with me. I was afterall, a perfect walking, breathing live target board and by miracles, we went on for the next three years.

Towards the end of our three years, my ex received a brochure from a sister church in Malaysia entitled, “How to find a godly wife”. It listed a list of criteria that signified that God showing which kind  of woman should be chosen as a brother’s future wife. And one of the criteria stated that the woman and man should meet while in the service of God. The problem was my ex and I met while we were in school at the age of 12. It took us 10 years to muster the courage to confess our crush with each other then. So we didn’t meet while in the service of God, or rather we met while in the throbs of getting our education. Subsequently he developed nightmares of being locked out of heaven and being left behind on Judgement Day. So he dropped the bomb and told me I am definitely not a choice by God (according to that stupid booklet he received). That was the end of us.

But that’s not the end of the story. I was harrassed by my congregation. I was constantly accused of having committed a great sin, so much so God is punishing me simply because the guy DUMPED me. They urged me with terrifying fervency to come to God and confess my sins. Repent, girl, repent. Ask for God’s forgiveness. Wash your sins with His blood.  I was even accused of being the evil one, simply because my mother rejected me. What the hell! My mother has always preferred my siblings simply because I was born a girl and I am the eldest. My paternal family made sure my mother remembered her shame of producing the first born GIRL, by sending me away to be taken care of by my maternal grandmother. But what the hell did I do? The guy dumped me over a booklet of some random criteria thought up by men. Simple as that. Finally I was asked to go away to another church because, in their words, I was an embarrassment to the church. That was the only church I knew, the only social support I had because in the three years, my ex had successfully isolated me from my friends, my social life and my greatest love of my life, ballet (because he sees ballet as a sin and I should stay away from sinners, that means, all my friends). I had simply dropped out of Earth.

Things weren’t easy at home. My mother, convinced that I must had transgressed with so much sins from my past life, that I am paying my karma in this life. My parents were convinced something is seriously wrong with me for the guy to dump me at the age of 25. I was considered beyond hopes of ever getting married in this life. It was like a funeral had taken place at home. Permanently. The atmosphere was dark and heavy. With everything in my life falling apart, I was seriously suicidal. It took a close friend who visited me everyday and kicked me out of my house, to get me to my senses.

One night this friend brought me out to the nearby park late after midnight. I lie awake on top of the playground, with the dark sky enveloping us and the stars scattered above, it was that moment I began to have a spark of hope. To harvest a dream. To explore this world. To discover if God exist. To finally understand we are all connected. It started with a butterfly in my heart and grew rapidly into a phoenix. Within a year, I moved out to Turkey to explore my destiny.

*******
Seven years, a divorce and a funeral later, I returned to Turkey and started work at a new company. Soon after, a tall young chap walked into the company. My first instinct was, this guy is familiar. It’s like I had knew him before but I was sure then we were total strangers. I didn’t know why but I just knew then I had to know his name and that he would play an important role in my life.

I got introduced by a colleague and we became fast friends. We clicked instantly. We could talk hours and hours. It’s like time had became water. He could read me and I could read him. Looking into his eyes, it was as if I was looking at my own soul. He confessed that he was surprised at the ease of our conversations. He could confide his deepest secrets to me. He doesn’t know he also held some of my deepest secrets, despite we had known each other for only a few months.

I had made the mistake of telling him of my blog. He knew I would reveal more when I write rather than when I talk. So he checked in with my blog. And he was pissed over one of my posts (which I later removed). And so he threatened me. Threatened to harm me and my son. Accused me of being a spy, prying him out of his deepest secrets. I was so traumatized by his threats, I lost sleep, I wept daily, and I was exhausted from “running”. And so I entered therapy. He didn’t know he was the catalyst for my healing.

He made sure I knew I belonged to a lower statue than he. That remark slapped me hard in my face. I didn’t recover from that shock. Not ever. I shot him a random message and proceed to resign from his company. I packed up and left. I don’t know why I had to go. But I left.

As I lie awake on my bed, waiting for the gods of sleep to descend upon me, I mulled over my past mistakes, trying to make sense of my recklessness. What’s the use of regret? Did I ever regret anything? I don’t regret opportunities taken; they were the catalysts forcing me in a new direction. The only regrets I had were the one I had never done: I didn’t stay to work out my problems with that guy. I didn’t finish my masters. I didn’t take up my father’s offer to enroll part-time in an arts school. All the what-ifs creeped from underneath me, sat on my chest, squeezed the air out of me and clouded my mind with the sour acid of regret.

Then what?

Is this what the church meant by dropping down on my knees and pray? To ask for forgiveness? Kierkegaard once wrote, “The self is a relation that related itself to itself.” We are all given the task of relating ourselves to our past and to our future. Days passed are not an issue here but to interpret major missteps in the past might prompt a person to lose faith in himself. That is the challenge that shapes who we will become.

Kierkegaard observed that you don’t change God when you pray, you change yourself. Perhaps that is the function of regret. I can’t retract my past actions but I definitely can change who I am in my act of remorse. Henry David Thoreau put it well: “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

To live afresh is to be born again. I can’t erase regret but at least I can admit I do miss people.