Life is confusing; It is intriguing. It is beautiful.

Life has a strange rhythm; It has the oddest concoctions that stayed as a mystery waiting to be solved. In the most amazing way, if we were ever present enough to realize, we find interesting potions of happiness mixed with anxiety, sadness stirred in hope, and exhilaration that ends with emptiness. Once in a while, coincidences that happen amazes us, or fate that entwines some people together surprises us. In many whiles, lessons are taught in the most unexpected situations, battles are won with the greatest loss, and in despair, we find the side we never thought we have in us to fight on. At every turn, we are presented with a whole new side of the world, sights we never knew existed. But it has the strangest rhythm, you’d never anticipate things that’ll come next. Not entirely. 

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. It throws you off track, invites you to get grumpy over foiled plans, but also provide an alternative of unexpected scenic views and an adventurous ride – only if you look up. Maybe sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow. Or maybe not but that is up to you. Riding the waves can be fun, but so can running against the wind. Sugar can get you adrenaline rush, but the bitterness of the coffee can equally perk you up. While new purchases can bring you excitement, the old stuff can give you solace. While you can party whole night and jump with the crowd, you can also bask in the moonlight and enjoy the serenity it encompasses. Really, it’s all about what makes you feel alive and doing exactly so.

Life’s very much like a picture; Just sometimes you get a better picture if you stay out of the picture. Sometimes the more you try to squeeze yourself into the frame that is already full, you get caught in the commotion and miss the opportunity to flash your greatest smile. But if the picture’s a little empty, fill it with your presence and make sure it comes out great!

Life’s more like fiction than a non-fiction book. Non-fiction books go chapter to chapter discussing different topics; There is no rule that says you must read in order. It gets brutal sometimes. You can be told in chapter 2 that if you’re not doing this then you’re failing in life. In chapter 20, it’ll still be the same: You fail if you’re not this or that. In fiction books it’s different. It is all about the characters we are introduced in chapter one, the invitation to venture along with them and see how they’ll come to rise above setbacks. It is all about story progression and lessons learned out of it. Reading and delving into the book like we are part of the story, it gets personal. And in chapter 2 even if we fail, it doesn’t matter. If it does, it brings the strength in us to fight harder and become who we will be in chapter 20. It is always about progression and the journey in and of it itself. 

Life is more than what we see. However high the man-made buildings are, the sky’s higher. However wide our visions are, the horizon’s wider. However deep we fall into the depths of despair, the sea’s deeper. In times of need, nature will always a good reminder of what life is, of the time we have, of the scale we are. Seek opportunities to view the sky, find time to soak in the midst of nature, search for joy and gratitude from within. 

It’s about being present. It’s the first step toward everything else. And when we do, when we get present in the present, when we finally open our eyes to the world, there are many things that could turn bad days around. These are some of those I’ve slowly learned to be grateful for:

Sometimes its the traffic that flows in my favor, the train that arrives in the platform right on time.
Sometimes it’s the 5% battery life that amazingly lasted me through the journey back home.
Sometimes it’s the ‘Thank you’ that I say to people that garnered simple replies like ‘You’re Welcome’.
Sometimes it’s the rain that stops so I could then go through with my plan to go jogging.
Sometimes it’s the last bowl of noodle that they have and that I’ve bought. 
Sometimes it’s the song that played over the radio.
Sometimes it’s the peaceful night after a hectic day. 
Many times, it’s nothing fanciful; it’s simple. 
Many times, life can be simple. 

Life is confusing, mysterious, and intriguing. 
Life is sometimes also brutal, tough, and ridiculously unreasonable.
Life is sometimes also scenic, peaceful, and beautiful.
Life is beating on an erratic heartbeat. 
But always know that it’s beating for you. 

Coincidences in Life.

This happened a year ago, my journalling app reminded me.

As I was scrolling through the entries I’ve written a year ago, something caught my eye. I did a double take, and I shuddered at it for the second time in my life. Maybe it was nothing much, or maybe it was something I’ve been oblivious about, but I was then convinced that coincidences are a real thing – incidences like these made me think about them seriously.

On this day, a year ago, I went to a public library, unplanned. I browsed through the shelves and casually decided on a book to bring it home. At night, as I flipped through the pages, on the introduction section, I was shocked. It was today’s date imprinted on it, just 36 years ago.

There it wrote, ” On January 13, 1982, a tragedy occurred just outside Washington, D.C. More than six inches of snow fell at Ronald Reagan International. The airport was closed for most of the morning and reopened at noon. Air Florida Flight 90 had already been severely delayed when the captain had to make a choice about whether or not to take off… “. It was about the tragedy where the airplane crashed into the 14th Street Bridge across the Potomac River in Washington, immediately after takeoff in a severe snowstorm.

It obviously got to me; I was a little creeped out, but then I was amazed. Had a hard time deciding on how I was feeling about this coincidence, and then I settled for the latter: amazement. It still amazes me today, how out of all the books, and out of all the days in a year, it happened just right on this day, exactly 36 years ago.

I didn’t take note of the title of the book (still new to journalling at that time), nor could I remember whether I’ve finished reading that book. What stayed with me was the date of the tragedy that struck Washington 37 years ago and took 78 lives with it and the coincidence that happened a year ago.

Maybe coincidences are meant to be reminders in life, a little nudge to attract our attention to somewhere it needs to be, a remembrance of the past, an indication of the future. Or it might be nothing at all.

Tonight we grieve for those who lost their lives to this unfortunate tragedy. It’s the only thing that we could do: to remember.

Setting Up Resolutions, 2019.

This is about searching back youth, building confidence and have trust in the future. This is a map drawn into the future, paving ways towards what we hope to achieve this year and the years that follow. This is about not giving up on dreams and making sure that we live each day, purposefully and excitingly. This is me trying.

The first week of the year, it is a good time to lay down the ground rules and goals.

(A) On Work.

It takes conscious effort to stay committed to finding thrill in every working day, every ounce of energy to make sure things get done the way it should, aiming for something close to perfection, putting your heart and soul into becoming better today than yesterday, and this year than the year before.

Leaving excuses behind, however easily we lament about ‘Oh, this is nothing like my dream job!’, or ‘This was a job I held on because I had no choice to’, or ‘I had never wanted to walk down this path’, we leave it behind.

Here we are, for the days forward that we’ll have to face, at least let yourself be on your side, invite excitement in and chase boredom out. You might find new emotions associated with working (or improving at what you do).

” Do what you have to until you can do whatever you want to do.” – Oprah Winfrey

And before you can do whatever you want to, knowing that you have to do what you have to do, might as well, take in the scenery and enjoy the ride.

(B) Hobby and Passion.

This is tricky. A few years ago, I had no hobby to call my own, no dreamy passion to chase after, and I was ‘happy’ adopting a passive attitude and let the free time just breeze by. I didn’t particularly enjoy doing anything, and searching for one that is was hard. So i let it slide.

Today I have a full list of hobbies I’d like to venture, passions that I’d like to pursue. Yet it could come as overwhelming, given time as a constraint and energy as a limited resource. Maximizing the output (your happiness and achieving some form of success set by yourself) will be the goal. So i had it filtered down to a few.

  1. Journalling and Writing.

    When I write, it feels like I am in another world. I enjoy the peace and serenity that comes along with penning down fleeting thoughts and keeping a record on my life. Because of writing, I had started living more consciously, feeling emotions a little deeper, and seeing things that I’ve never noticed before. So I’ll keep writing, and this year, I’ll want to work on improving my language ability and writing skills. Complete a course on writing, read more books, write more stuff and enjoy!

  2. Photography.

    This is something new to me. A rather reckless decision to splurge on a camera, I’d want to make sure I am getting money worth out of this by learning how to use it and using it well. I have no idea what the best combination of iso-shutterspeed-aperture is for every situation, or how the pictures will come out when I take them, or whether I’d lose the moment in between while I change the settings and adopting the trial-and-error method, but I think it doesn’t matter just yet. I’ll go in as a beginner, take lots of shots, wreck up the settings, and then learn from there. Anyhow, I reckon it’ll be so much fun!

  3. Health and fitness.

    This is not so much a passion, but rather, an intentional act of treating myself better so i can feel better at any moment. Exercising sufficiently and eating healthier options (most of the time) to keep the mind sharp, the health in mint condition, and keeping sickness at bay to have more time for enjoyment. This is for the others.

  4. Reading.

    Last year, I fell short of this goal. This year, I’m setting the same benchmark, 40 books for a year, averaging 3.33 books a month. It’ll be challenging (my best record was 28), but then heck excuses. I’m determined to start with the right mindset- by believing that I can do it.  And I’ve already started on my first book, so yes let’s keep the momentum going!

  5. Blogging.

    Last year, somehow I’ve started this blog. It was something that I had always wanted to do but then procrastinated for later (which the later didn’t come until October last year). I gave a lot of thoughts into how I want my first post to look like, pouring in hours to just write sentences and then delete it after, and also choosing a fancy picture so it’ll feel, well fancy. The thrill was definitely there – the first post, and then the second and then the third and all that follows. It feels like I have something to call my own. And then somewhere along the path, I thought it’ll be so much more meaningful if I’ll put in pictures that I’ve taken myself (however unfanciful it is). I’ve done that ever since the fourth post and I’ll want it to continue. My direction to take? It’ll be a writing journey, sprinkled with a whole lot of sincerity.

This is me trying. To wake up with excitement every day, to work hard on dreams and make them come true, to stay true to myself along the ups and downs, and to fight hard, stand tall and never give up hope.

Life’s an interesting journey, only for those who try. More than just resolutions, they are now our pathways onto chasing dreams and hunting down passions. This year will be good to us, it’ll be fun, so hop on the ride! Thank you for reading! 🙂

Wrapping Up, The Best Stuff.

A few hours before the new year, I thought it’ll be meaningful to conclude this chapter with all the best stuff. Like the glamorous award ceremonies that’ll happen at the end of the year to reward those who’ve invested a huge amount of hours and effort to produce great quality work, it’s some kind of closure to applaud the attempt, honor the commitment, and stroll down the red carpet all dandy and dazzling.

My best personal experiences in 2018, just for fun – the biggest and the greatest stuff.

Biggest Change This Year: Adulthood, work essentially.

Biggest Achievement: Exactly 1000 days of daily journalling on 22 Dec 18.

Biggest Splurge: On a camera.

Best Move I’ve Made: Writing a few lines each day about everything and anything (sometimes nonsensical even) in the morning. It was extremely fun writing them and then going back a few weeks later and go “wow!” or “huhh?”. Oh and starting a blog☺️.

Best Movie: Avengers: Infinity War. Hands down. 2019, I’m coming for you. We’re in the endgame now.

Best Television Series: Stranger Things Season 1 & 2. While the first episode premiered in 2016, I started watching only in November this year, after my friend urged me to. Though late to the party, I was incredibly impressed with the writing and the directing. Especially the writing of the storyline and the characters, and in particular for the ending to both seasons. Small or big, everyone has a role to play in defeating the darker side. It’s always about teamwork, family, friends, and love. Everyone kicked ass!

Best Book (Fiction): The Seven Death of Evelyn Hardcastle, Stuart Turton. This one… I lack the ability with words to describe just how good it is, none sufficient to bring justice to it. And so I’d better quote:

“A brilliantly original high concept murder mystery from a fantastic new talent: Gosford Park meets Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express

‘Somebody’s going to be murdered at the ball tonight. It won’t appear to be a murder and so the murderer won’t be caught. Rectify that injustice and I’ll show you the way out.’

It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. 

The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him from ever escaping Blackheath…”

– harpercollins.ca

This book kept me up for several nights; I simply had to know what is going to happen next. It was one rare book that had me entertained and engaged page after page. You just have to read this!

Best Book (Nonfiction): Tuesday With Morrie, Mitch Albom. A precious book written about life lessons, about priorities, about love. In the face of impending death, he spent his remaining days spreading important meanings about life and making a difference while he could. Honestly, I still have the last chapter to go. I’ve procrastinated for a few months because we all know how it’s going to end. However natural death should be to life, saying goodbye will always be extremely tough. I hadn’t found the courage and a good day to sit through the last chapter and cry my eyes out. Beautifully written.

“Forgive others and forgive yourself, because when you’re at the stage where i am, it don’t matter.” – Tuesday With Morrie

Greatest Mistake: Going too easy on time management. Before, I used “study” as an excuse, and then I settled for “work” as an excuse. Truth is, no one is too busy for anything. It always has been about priorities. Passion won’t come by itself, hobbies won’t develop by itself and life won’t happen by itself. So, it’s a choice we have to make if it is important enough. (In the coming year, I’ll want to work on it. First the stones, then the pebbles, then the sand.)

Greatest Lesson: Never give up on hope. Just because it isn’t happening now doesn’t mean it won’t. I grew up not understanding much about myself; I simply followed behind a crowd thinking it’ll be safe but then somewhere, somehow, I felt lost and alone. And then, alone as I walked, somehow, somewhere, I found bits and pieces of myself. Always, always have hope within because it’ll bring you somewhere you wouldn’t have known otherwise.

“Sometimes you find yourself in the middle of nowhere, and sometimes in the middle of nowhere, you’ll find yourself.”

Most Memorable Moment: Christmas celebrations, lots of them actually. Not sure if it was the food or the presents, or because it just happened a few days ago.

Best Quote Of The Year: “Remember, amateurs built the ark. Professionals built the Titanic. Never be afraid to try something new.”

Remembering the struggles and celebrating the journey, together we’ll close this chapter and invite the next. Hope you’ve had a fantastic year. Now, we’ll sit back and welcome 2019 with open arms. Cheers to everyone, and thank you for reading. (:

Re-assessing My Resolutions, For 2018.

We start every year with a blueprint in hand, resolutions we drafted out hoping that a year later, we’ll be exactly that, scoring high on achievements and ticking bucket list items off the list. Truthfully, resolutions often fail – mine does. It might be because we focused on starting the year right more so than ending it right. Or maybe whatever motivation and drive we had at the start was depleted along the way, leaving none to boost the final lap of the run. Or maybe we doze off in the middle of the long year marathon, waking up near the finishing line and then realizing we don’t have time to achieve all that, and then leaving those goals from the previous year for the next year to come (If we remember what they were). Recycling goals, another way to put it.

Nonetheless, writing down resolutions does come useful, I often believe so. Coming up with resolutions and writing them down increases the probability of actually doing them. We are more likely to attempt to achieve goals when we put them down to pen and paper, in black and white. I found that reviewing goals at the end of the year is particularly helpful going forward. From where you had started, to where you were at the end of the year, towards where you want to be, keeping track of all of them will give you a better idea on the pace you’re going at, and the amount of effort you’re putting in. It is perfectly okay to abandon a goal if you no longer feel excited about it, however long you had worked on it. The kind of goals you’re setting for yourself, you want those that will keep you up at night and pull you off the bed in the morning. Those that will constantly take your breath away, fill your heart with nervousness and excitement just thinking about doing them, and finally feeling so much alive when doing them. It doesn’t matter even if they don’t stay the same.

I had a list written and chucked somewhere titled ‘Resolutions of 2018’, once written with exhilaration, now looking torn and tattered like it had been through tough times. Tough times, this year, yeah totally I get you.

The first line reads: “If you stand for nothing, then what do you fall for?”

And then the words ‘Resolutions for 2018’ stood larger and bolder than all others. And the short list starts:

  1. Get a real job after graduation. *****
  2. Journalling (To maintain a daily journal, into the third year. Best decision to start in 2016, not stopping any sooner!)
  3. Work out consistently, at least 3 days per week.
  4. Complete and obtain the certificate for the course I’m working on.
  5. Read 40 books

Overall, I had an eventful year, accomplishing most of those written down. In particular, I had a taste of ‘adulthood’, finally obtaining an official job and coming home exhausted every day after. A far cry from expectations I’ve now realized. Still, because of this opportunity, it opened up my world to so much more – new friends and colleagues, fresh challenges, hands-on experiences, and the kind of knowledge that textbooks never could have taught.

I had so much fun with journalling and writing down life’s journey. From one journal, I expanded to a number of them, specializing in different areas of my life. ‘Posts’ for pictures; ‘Books’, on a list of books to read, and also those already read; ‘Workout Journal’ to track exercises, ‘Quotes’ for saving up a library of motivating thoughts and sayings, and also ‘The Daily Archive’ for daily journaling. I have a few other journals as well, mostly for the likes of mine but nonetheless redundant, I keep all of them updated mostly in the mornings while commuting, and also at nights just moments before I sleep. (I use Day One App for all that.)

Listening to my body, I consistently clocked in workouts depending on how I was feeling on that day. Sometimes I’m running, sometimes I’m hula hooping, other times I’m enjoying a short session of relaxing yoga. It was much easier getting workouts done this way. Not every session needs to be tough and sweaty, and not every session needs to get you muscle ache the next day. You do it, for your body, your way.

I’ve completed the foundations of the course I’ve started, thereby receiving the certificate but that was just the beginning steps. Going forward, there’ll be more papers to clear, more to learn, more to delve deeper into. That’ll be built upon in the coming years.

Reading 40 books within this year was a goal that was thinly stretched. Last year, i barely hovered at 20. I was overly ambitious setting this goal, and actually starting out really well in the first month, but then the numbers dwindled especially after i started working. I failed miserably on this resolution this year, somehow aiming for the moon and not landing amongst the stars, but that won’t be the last of it. I’ll try again next year.

“For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

That was my resolution of 2018 and what I’ve come to accomplished. How was your year and what will you want to achieve in 2019?

Thank you for reading. (:

Merry Christmas, 2018.

It is the best time of the year. Christmas trees assembled up on the first week of December, on the streets and in the malls. We build up excitement towards today, prepping up for the jingle and the party. A month of celebration, we gather with our friends and family to have some fun. Together we count our blessings, have a cup of hot cocoa in hand, and enjoy the holiday ambiance.

It is my favorite time of the year. We wake up knowing it is the most beautiful day of the year. Once the clock chimes at twelve, through the night and into the early morning, we fill our hearts with love and express our gratitude with smiles and words that resemblances ‘I Love You’ and ‘Thank You’. We wear happiness on our sleeves, eat to our heart’s content, and settle with a good cup of hot coffee. This is Christmas and it certainly feel so. Bells jingles, Christmas hits playing over the stereo, hands trembling out of excitement over the presents we have received. Oh, Santa has finally arrived in the town. (Just for a day!)

The table decorated with various kinds of food and desserts – sausages and pizzas, turkey and ham, tossed salad and sushi, champagnes and wines. We always leave the Christmas log cake for the end. We’ll enjoy the food, talk and laugh out loud, appreciate the hanging decorations and the Christmas tree that stood in the corner with presents loaded underneath, and then stuffing ourselves for the second round. Maybe there’ll be a third and fourth. Sometimes this ends up as a punishment, to finish up the remaining scraps of food. Not participating isn’t an option.

In the evening, the room was dimly lit with warm lights, purposefully so to grant the spotlight to the humbly decorated Christmas tree that’ll show itself only in December. Settling down on the comfy bed, we chose a movie on Netflix that revolves around a Christmas theme (The Princess Switch). Because it’ll never be a white Christmas where I’m at, it was an added bonus whenever snowy landscapes flashes on the screen. It was a heartwarming film filled with romance and fantasy, and also a hint of comedy. A happy ending, for a happy occasion.

And when the night comes, we know it’ll soon come to an end. The wait till the next Santa’s visit will be long. It’s hard to say goodbye to this day, but we know there’ll be a next time. So till then, and till the next meeting, we’ll fight the days in between, with the warmth that we have felt, with the memories that we have come to share, and for the love we have been gracefully blessed with.

That was my Christmas. How was yours like?

Thank you for reading. Merry Christmas!

Learning The Beauty of Action Over Perfection.

On some days when we wake, we know the day’s going to be great. We stretch long, on our bed with pillows and plushies that were messily tossed around on the sides. Our eyes squint when we find our first sight to the morning sun light. The traffic flows for us, the lift waits for us, the coffee pot brewing and calling for us. We know it’ll be a beautiful day right from the start.

On other days, we barely forced ourselves off the bed. Skipping the stretches and hardly noticing the clear beautiful sky, we throw on random pieces of clothing that was causally laid around, rushing out of our home praying we didn’t miss anything when we left. We knew it’ll be hard right from the start.

On some days we set to strive; On others, we try to put one foot in front of the other, one step at a time. But that was part of deal we’ve made with life, we knew it since day one. We knew we won’t be getting just only the good stuffs and we knew perfection don’t exist since day one. But of course, that didn’t stop us from trying to achieve the impossible. After all, we were taught, in this era that nothing is impossible. There’s a charm to that, so we did what we had to: we tried, aiming for perfection each and every time, on good and bad days. We pretend sometimes, unknowingly falling deeper into the realms of despair, and then hating ourselves for it. All in the name of perfection that doesn’t exist – in people, in nature, in universe.

It’s a tricky thing actually. Pursuing perfection on great days, brought me further than i could normally have gone. It propelled me forward with a destination to arrive, within a time limit and a mission to accomplish. On days like that, it stood on my side. On others, i feared it. Having an image of perfection stopped me in my tracks, made me procrastinate, and then ended up barely a few inches forward from where i’ve started. Days like that, it stood against me and it got to me. It was most probably accurate that actions beat perfection, whether it is about making plans for the future, or working on a project, or writing per say.

It might be tough, especially to convince the stubborn parts of us, but maybe on days when we find it hard to bring close replicas of perfection onto the table, settling for ‘giving your best to the day’ and accepting for good enough, is the best approach that we can embrace.

Remember, it was the part of the deal we made with life. In response, we could smile big and embrace the imperfections, bring our versions of magnificence upon the existing flaws of life. Maybe we’ll live a life fuller, breathe a little deeper and appreciate the world a little better.

For the new week, you’ve got this! Good and bad days, we’ll get better at it. Thank you for reading!