Sharing: After Learning My Flight Was Detained 4 hours

These days, I find motivation in the stories that my friends are sharing around. Every day, we are sharing someone else’s story that they heard from someone else. But it doesn’t matter whose story it is. What’s important is that the stories, when shared, lend strength, add motivation, inspires hope.

This is one of the beautiful stories I came across this morning… – “After Learning My Flight Was Detained for 4 Hours”

I thought:
We should live in a shared world. 
We should share Life. Not fears. 
Turn tears into laughter. Shared laughter. Shared lives. Shared world.

And today, I am inspired to go out and buy a plant, because I love what the tradition of old country traveling tradition symbolizes –  Always stay rooted to somewhere.

Thank you Nora Leah, for sharing this story.

The best thing to hold on to in life….

The day after the Boston attack, Baby Center posted this picture. I kept repeating these words famously minted by Audrey Hepburn in my head, and had to agree with the statement.

Three days on, and My mind still cannot reel in the reality of what happened. All I remembered was, sitting in the office and hearing about the news. We all froze in front of our computers and kept checking for news updates.

When I went home that evening, I gave my toddler sons extra hugs. Their little minds do not understand what was happening, and all they know was that Mommy was giving them some extra attention.

And that was enough.

Goddess. Out.

My nails are chipped. Cuticles rough and uncut. The hair has split ends. The face tired.

The goddess has left me.

But I’m happy. And satisfied.

I miss my weekend pampering treats where I’m fussed and groomed, and I can escape from the work week’s stress by tending to my tresses. But I’m happy.

This is what motherhood does to you. Especially since I have twin boys and my demanding four-month old babies are still on a very regular three/four-hour feeding schedule. Personal time is now an invalid entry in my dictionary.

Motherhood is not all bliss. Oh! I found out the hard way that there are A LOT that people don’t tell you about motherhood. Most probably because if too much of it is told, our species will end cos we women will not rationally go into the noble task of continuing the homo sapient genes. But that is the point: motherhood is not a rational decision; it is an emotional one. And hence, its benefits are equally emotional and sans rationale.

That is the only reason why I am in such an ungodly state and can still be happy.

I have willingly bequeath my “goddess” past to my little princes.

It is when I look into their angelic faces as they sleep, little hands clinging tight to me that I feel heavenly again.

My nails are chipped. Cuticles rough and uncut. The hair has split ends. The face tired. My heart is full.


Of bunnies and babies

This Chinese New Year was a strange one for me.

Everyday as I flipped through the newspapers, I get more and more confused.

It’s the Year of the Rabbit, and our PM urged Singaporeans to have more babies alongside wishing us a happy new year. I get the message. I am one of the many whom my nation will teasingly say that I do not fulfill my “national service” to bring up the country’s fertility rates. I read the low statistics of 1.16 fertility rate, and my intellectual rationale kicks in. Trust me, I get the message. The severity that this has on our social-economical equilibrium, and the threat it brings to our nation’s existence.

What I don’t get: why is everyone flogging this issue as if it is an intellectual one?

“It could have been because of the Year of the Tiger, or perhaps the economic uncertainties the year before, in 2009. Whatever the reasons, I hope more couples will start or add to their families in the Year of the Rabbit. Chinese New Year is the time for families to come together in celebration, and more babies can only mean more joy in the years to come,” said the Prime Minister as he wished all Singaporeans a very happy Year of the Rabbit. (Source: TODAY, Feb 02, 2011)

I understand that our leaders are trying their best to cajole the people into a very real societal challenge. However, I must confess that I find it disturbing that my decision to start a family (or not) is thought to be pinned upon a Chinese horoscope. Or, rising costs of living for that matter, as CNN reports it. Or, because of my tiertiary education, or my selfish needs of maintaining a “freedom” lifestyle, as our government’s survey results have released.

Every time the news outlets report about the nation’s fertility problem, and we are urged to have more babies, I’m made to feel very indignant.

Until I read Venessa Lee’s article in the weekend TODAY. She found the right angle to view the challenge at hand. She probably had given many of us, non-nation-serving Singaporean women a voice. The right voice.

I find it puzzling that for years and years, we are flogged this issue in our faces, blamed for not wanting family and attributed as selfish, offered cash bonuses and incentives accordingly to our fertility contribution. How was all these going to address a fundamentally EMOTIONAL and PERSONAL decision?

We do not have to look too deep into our intellect to be able to relate to the human stories of the challenge. Just tap into the pop culture available. E News anchor Giuliana and Bill Rancic share openly about their desire to have a family, and their arduous journey to do so. What started as a reality show episode became a widely followed topic for many couples, and eventually the Season 2 curtain raiser. Why does their story have such a draw? Because it’s a human one.

I feel indignant because nobody seems to care about the human stories behind the fertility issue.  Why are we so obsessed about the issue, and not willing to find the right solutions for it? Even if we are a nation of pragmatic people, our leaders ought to understand that this involves people, lives and many many couple’s arduous journeys.

I had tried to share this perspective to some people who are able to make the difference. To that point, their perspective was, “Oh our job is not to listen. That’s another department’s job.” End of discussion.

*dramatic pause* (I still cannot comprehend that answer, by the way. Flabbergasted.)

I am right smack in the target group who have contributed to the fertility problem by not having children (yet). So are many of my girlfriends. Ever since my indignant fury on the topic has been provoked, I have been reaching out to my friends and openly discussing what was – and still very much is – a taboo topic. We talked as woman to woman, wife to wife, and we talked with our maternity instincts intact. Yes, many of us are successful career women and happily married but we are not as selfish as reports make us out to be. Every single of us who have delayed our child-bearing decisions have our personal real-life challenges to deal with. These real-life challenges are not as simplified as “rising costs of living” or a “personal lifestyle choice”. These real-life challenges involved real-life families, loved ones, and problems that only we are left to deal with.

I wonder who has heard these stories?

Or more accurately, who has cared to ask the right questions?

My line of work involves communicating to the audience with the specific messages designed to resonate. Sometimes this means bringing societal taboo out in the open to be discussed and to be resolved, but in a relatable way. I have seen many corporate companies do this well and with huge success. Often it begins with listening. Listening to the audience, understanding them and then asking the right questions.

So, thank you Venessa Lee for writing your article and bringing out the success that Australia enjoys. Thank you for showing that the baby bonus is really not the point nor the solution, but there are other areas of needs that should be looked into.

I only hope this time, it will be heard.



4.30am in Singapore. I am awake.

Jet-lagged, I had done well on the first night back. One day in the office, and I am now sleepless. Awoken by the jet-lag, I was then kept awake with the one thousand and one work problems that had fallen back on my plate.

Comes with the territory, I know. Being a business leader does mean sleepless nights because the entire weight of the business falls on you.

Sitting in my living room, watching the night view of the sea, and enjoying the cool breeze that had befallen upon Singapore, I am missing my Vancouver vacation A LOT.

What Vancouver holds for me: it is a place of rest. It is where family is, where we come together to enjoy one another’s company. Doesn’t matter that the usual family drama does take place, because it is the love that is so apparent that binds us together.

It is where I get to experience Life beyond work. There is food to be cooked, meals to be shared, groceries to be bought, health to be planned, sports to be experienced, and many many places to be explored. Even better, it is where I find society embrace differences. It doesn’t put you in a box, and dictate to you what success needs to be. It allows you to define what YOUR life should be, and what YOU want to be in the centre of your universe.

The moment I touched down in Singapore, I feel the monotony as if a lid covers me. My soul overshadowed by what the life is here. And life primarily is about making do. Making do with the limited time that we have outside of work. Making do with always not having time for the family. Everyone is buzzing here, there and everyday. Busy but not happy.

2011. Once again we’re at the beginning of the year. Where you hope, and wish and resolve to lead a different life.

I really hope we can. We should. Living our lives should not be a luxury. It ought to be a natural human right.

Happy New Year in 2011!

What did you do for your 2011 New Year’s Day?

We snowboarded.

The entire day.

At Whistler, Vancouver.

We boarded to fine, powdery snow, blue skies and quiet slopes. Quiet because most of the skiers or boarders were still smashed from the partying the night before. We had enough space on the snowy runs mostly to ourselves.We could enjoy the exhilaration of the sport, while soaking in the still, quiet nature surrounding us.

Thankfully, it was a really clear day. The skies were clear, and we had the sun with us for the winter day. We took in the magnificent views that greeted us everywhere we went. We took chair after chair to reach higher and higher peaks because we wanted to take in the view from higher and higher grounds.

Amazingly, everything looks so peaceful and tranquil from thousands of feet above ground.You get addicted to the sense of peace. And you keep wanting more.

I could not wait for 2011 to start. Actually, it is more accurate to say that I could not wait for 2010 to be over. 2009 was not a good year, health-wise. 2010 was a good year for the business, but it took a major toil on me time-wise and I felt like I lost bits of my soul somehow.

Whistler was like my Disneyland. The call of the mountains drew me back and it is where I found my recalibration for the year. A week of snowboarding on the runs, and a week of such beautiful nature surrounding me every waking moment, I felt like my soul was nursed back to health.

New Year’s Day. We were determined to start it right. It seems the universe knew just what we needed. And we got sent a beautiful scene that we can keep in our minds as we head back to the grind in Singapore for the year.


Eat, Pray, Love

Hello blog. I missed you.

There are 365 days in a year. This year, I seemed to have spent 90% of it all working. Working = 16-hour work days, working weekends, crazy deadlines, non-stop fighting work fires, back-to-back schedules with no breather.No time to think, no time to sleep, no time to eat.

I have to fly all the way to BC Vancouver to zone out, cos back where I was, there was no me-time. Uh uh, zilch.

So here I am, 16 hours behind where I came from and I took the time to recuperate.

I call this my “Eat Pray Love” vacation.

“Eat” cos the food here is sooooooo good that I literally eat three times more than I do back home.I seem to be chowing every waking moment and this can happen even at 3am in the middle of the night!

(disclaimer: back home, where I am under a constant high level of stress, I just can’t seem to swallow food down and I’d lose 2 kilos in a matter of days. I know, sounds like a good problem to have? Nada, when you’re already 5 kg underweight!)

“Pray” cos I’ll be snowboarding most of the time here, and trust me I’d be praying all my way down the slopes!!

“Love” cos I’m spending time with loved ones. Family whom I’ve not seen or spent time with for three years. A lot has happened in the past three years, and we’d need all the time we have to catch up.

“Love” cos I’d want to do the things I love – resting, having the space to my own thoughts, taking time to think and ponder, watching the telly, reading a book, sipping the coffee, snowboarding, grocery shopping, laundry, strolling in the park.

When did what I love take a backseat?

When time became not enough.

Seriously, what I really need this vacation: time and space to my own thoughts. I look back at my posts for this year, and I realise I had no time to put down my thoughts in this cyber sanctuary of mine. Not that I have no pensive moments throughout the year. On the contrary, I had more of them when I’m in a state of constant stress. Sadly though being time-starved means the only little “non-scheduled” time that I have, I’d be resting my tired brain.

2010. It had passed by so quick that it’s scaring me. I could have worked the equivalent workload of three years’ work in this year alone. I’ve allowed work to creep in so insidiously that I have forgotten my basic human need – thoughts.

Aristotle: “I think, therefore I am.”

I have not spent time thinking, therefore I have not been. It had been the ghost of me going about daily business this year.

Next year, I need it to be different. Live life.

The operative word being “LIVE”.


Life Rebooted

Two days of not checking work emails felt like an eternity to me.

Hubs commented that it’s as if a load was lifted off me. I felt the lightness as soon as the words “Welcome to beautiful British Columbia” greeted me at the airport.

I was happy again.

Beautiful British Columbia…

The beautiful British Columbia view from our window

This is the view that greeted me as I woke up from my jet-lagged sleep. The familiar view of the mountains and crisp air. Cold as it may be, the beauty that surrounds me brought me smiles from the inside out.

The starved soul of mine needed to reconnect with human life experiences again. And this means being with family sans work stress. Whole-minded – body, mind, soul – living the moments that we are sharing together.

One of our three family cats, Bandit, slouching comfortably. Ah... this is life!

Simple joys excite me. Taking our dog out to the park to walk, playing with the three family cats as they roam about the house, making coffee in the morning with my sister-in-law, watching TV  by the fireplace, grocery shopping at Costco.

As I shut down my work mode, I feel the human mode in me rebooting.

Life is coming back to me, finally. 🙂

Last Working Day of the Year

It was a good feeling waving goodbye to the city where I work. Yes, Singapore is where I work, not live. I hardly have a life when I’m on this city island.

2010 had been a consuming year of work. Labor laws dictate that we work 40 hours a week, but in our hectic line of work, what is standard is usually 60-to-75-hour work weeks. Weekends included. Travel time for work trips not included.

Even vacations are spent with conference calls scheduled in between, and lots of BlackBerry email time while waiting for dinner to be served, during commercials while watching TV, or waiting in line for a theatre show.

2010 is the year that I feel more like a cylon than a human. That work overtook life. That I frequented the specialist doctors more than I did the supermarket.

Imagine that.

So here I am sitting in Hong Kong International Airport, and heading to Vancouver to spend Christmas with family and I am excited like a little girl in a pink candy store. I want my vacation, badly.

I want to put everything work-related behind, and enjoy some quality BlackBerry-free time with human beings again. Especially when the human beings are dear family members whom I have not seen in three years.

I’m putting work behind. Putting family first for the next three weeks.

Wish me luck.

Reality bites.

So I was really bugged.

I’d love to say I was cool about it, but I wasn’t.

There I was walking out of my hair salon, feeling tired from sitting down for three hours at the salon, but also feeling happy with my new hair color. Then presto! I bumped into an old friend. He’s one of the chummier guys in school, so I was genuinely happy to see him. He flashed his usual smiles, we caught up on mutual friends and each other’s lives, and he showed me his seven-month old baby boy’s picture.

I gushed. His baby boy is so adorable! And he has his father’s smile.

And then it came. My friend’s well-meaning advice: “Hey… what about you? If kids are in your plans, you’d better hurry. Time is running out, you know.”

If there could be a “pause” button in real-life moments, that would have been it.

I hit “pause” for a split second, then my PR second nature kicked in – I continued the conversation, I smiled, I bantered. All the while another conversation was going on in my head.

The fact that I have a high-powered and fast-paced job seems to box me into a stereotype that I do not want to start a family. Truth be told, I have been married for eight years, and I was ready for kids six years ago. I am the kind of gal who will not fret or worry even if I have to handle a room filled with 100 kids and only 10 helpers. I used to do that every weekend. Baby-sitting my friends’ kids is an easy feat. Why we did not plan for kids immediately then is another story altogether, but people have got to stop the blame game or the “DINKS” (double income no kids) stereotyping on married couples who do not have babies in tow.

Desires and reality do not match up all the time.

Very few of my friends can understand this stereotype struggle that I face. Only my closest friends and family know how deep my maternal instincts are, and only they know how demanding my work has been on my life.

My friends’ parting words to me, “If you’ve tried for a while and still no baby, you’ve gotta think about quitting your job.”

Another pause button. In reality, what he said may be very true. I know of many capable, talented women who quit their jobs to get pregnant, and then never come back to the workforce. I struggle with that concept. My government tells me that they’ve invested too much in educational dollars for us to do that, yet it seems the reality is so.

Work and family – is it really that dichotomical?

I guess when you have a bio-clock that is ticking away, and when you are battling against the probability of Life, it is.

Friends jumped in, and wrote on my Facebook wall to encourage me. Time is just a number. Don’t let other people’s words affect you. There is no such thing as limited time. Don’t get too stressed over this. I felt really supported but I also am aware that they do not face the intensity of the reality that I do. For me, this is what I have to live with EVERY DAY, on top of the high level of work stress.

But really, what gave me encouragement? Giuliana & Bill Rancic’s honest sharing about their stuggles with getting pregnant. I follow the reality series whenever I need to chill out at home, and I found myself relating to what Giuliana goes through in her journey to get pregnant. Cos Nik and I are in the exact same spot – I need to put on the extra pounds, and fertility doctors who have dished out our fertility chances on a numbers chart. Their diagnosis: ‘”You guys are mid- to late-thirties. Sorry.”

So I really appreciate the honesty that Bill and Giuliana demonstrated on The View interview. Everything she said, echoed my personal experiences.

Hope, now comes in the medical advancements. In-vitro treatments are easily available, and is an affordable means for us. Yet with that, it’s another round of biological statistics that we’ll be up against. Another period of emotional roller-coaster to ride through.

I’m starting to dread the statistics of my life.

But they are real. And they have real-life impact on our lives.

I just wish it’s easier to live with it.