Category Archives: Me, Myself & I

. 2016: A Year of Adventure .

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do. With your one wild and precious time?”
– Mary Oliver

I had one goal at the start of the year, and that was not to put off living to the unforeseeable future, not next year, not next month, not next week, not tomorrow.

2015 was the year that I kinda broke free from the toxic chains of procrastination, and started converting some of my plans into actions. Setting the things in motion that ultimately culminated in 2016. It’s the best year, really… One that has exceeded my wildest dreams and any expectations. What started as a 10 weeks career break to travel a bit, eventually lead to an amazing journey of exploration and adventure that span over a period of 6 months.

It wasn’t all just about having fun though; It was a time of personal growth. Getting comfortable with uncertainty/ constant changes, adapting to less-than-ideal environments and living a more minimalistic lifestyle. I’ve said this many times, like a broken recorder, but I’m super thankful to have a very cool Mum, a supportive Dad who never fails to ensure that everything was running fine back home (all the bill payments, checking of mails, mundane but important stuff), a lil’ sis who became the default “Mum” to the 3 boys, and a loving boyfriend who encourages me to embark on this trip of a lifetime.

Life is never always smooth-sailing, and there were, of course, moments that scared the wits out of me. My broken neck became cranky and I feared that I had to undergo an invasive surgery to correct the unstable injury. Luckily, it turned out to be a false alarm but all that worrying lead to another bald spot (a result of alopecia) and more tears.  But, I’ll be strong!

The highlights of 2016:

Quit my job and traveled to 16 countries over a span of 6 months
This is probably, by far, one of the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I dare say, leaving the comfort of my relatively stable and promising e-commerce job to pursue an airy dream of “travelling around the globe”, even beats the momentary fear of sky-diving and base-jumping! Many friends prefer to leave such extravagant plans for retirement, when they have more time and money. Yet, time waits for no one, especially in a society where there is an increasing number of people getting cancer, heart attack or kidney failure at an alarming rate. I knew, deep in my heart, that I would be full of regret and resentment, if I were to give up this rare opportunity to fulfill a life-long dream (10 years in the making!) while I’m still young and able, just so that I can fit the bill of a perfect employee.

Was also pleasantly surprised when my dearest Mum offered to join me on our first backpacking trip across Europe and Asia. Many people thought she was nuts to travel “longer than the usual 2-3 weeks holidays” at her age, and assumed that she would be a “liability or burden”. That couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s true that we had our frustrating moments, I do think that we turned out to be the best travel partners for each other (having lived together for 29 years, and supported each other through tumultuous periods of our lives). 6 months on-the-road served as a great bonding time for the both of us, and I’m truly grateful that it was with my Mum that I shared this amazing journey with, because frankly, I’m not sure when is the next time that I’ll get to travel for an extended period of time with my parents. 

✔ A train journey on the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway
✔ Living with the nomads in the plains of Mongolia

✔ Learning to ride a motorbike all by myself in Pai, Thailand
✔ Watching the hot air balloons take off in the mystical land of Bagan, Myanmar

✔ Visited my sponsored kid, Pelsil, in Cambodia

Redecorated my cozy little room
Another activity that has been pending on my “To-Do” list for the longest time. I used to joke that I had to share half the room (the other half was used to house our family’s bookshelves, aka mini-library) with the boyfriend, 3 dogs and 1 fish. Now that we have finally moved the bookshelves to the storeroom, there’s ample of space for me to re-decorate my room and fill it with inspiring quotes and pictures with loved ones! ❤ A living space that I can finally call as my own. 

Pursuit of Other Interest
✔ Take up horse-riding lessons at Amigos, JB
✔ Improve my swimming skills
✔ Re-ignite my passion for reading

Volunteer & Give Back
✔ Organised several micro-volunteer activities as a Chapter Lead for Cause Corps
✔ Stop procrastinating and donated blood

Thank you for a fantastic 2016!

. 2015: Reflections .

While 2014 was a year of unexpected changes which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, 2015 has been a year of putting my plans into action. Procrastination is no longer a friend as I broke free of its toxic chains. It is definitely rewarding to be able to fulfill some of my goals that have been left on the back-burner for ages. One of my proudest achievement for the year is to finally get my driving license (at first try!), something which I have put off for close to a decade. I might have received my license 10 years later than the average SG driver but knowing that I have beat this long-held procrastination and am now a certified driver is extremely gratifying.

Introspection, 2015 has provided me with many opportunities – both professional and personal – to challenge myself, grow and develop a stronger self-identity. I’m more capable of accepting myself for who I really am and being comfortable in my own skin. No longer do I feel the pressure to constantly appear as “perfect” for others and thus, I’m less afraid to say “NO” to people or situations that do not resonate with my core values/ beliefs. They say that 30s is one of the best decades in one’s life and while I’m not hitting the big 3 (YET), I can see why life gets richer in many ways as we grow older and collect more years of meaningful life experiences under our belt.

Thank you, 2015 – You have been great to me! 

Highlights of 2015: 

  • Starting 2015 with a bang – Getting drunk and having an elderly lady flashed her boobs @ me during my 1st solo trip 
  • Leaving the comfort of my first job and taking on a much more challenging role in the highly competitive e-commerce industry
  • Passing the driving test on my first attempt, after 9 long years of procrastination
  • Conquered Macau’s highest summit at 338m tall (Macau Tower Climb)!  
  • A year of adventure: Getting my Sports Climb and Abseiling Level 1 licenses & embarking on various kayaking, trekking and water caving expeditions
  • An amateur designer in the works: Having my handmade leather wallet being displayed at the SG Design Week 
  • Being selected as an Enable-A-Family volunteer, working alongside with children under the care of MSF
  • Most importantly, receiving the love and support from a particular Mr. M

 < CAREER >

The last few months at my previous company has been nothing short of a massive Taiwanese drama. My ex-boss tendered and I was running a one-man show, handling multiple big projects, for a couple of months. Those days were definitely not easy – Tight timelines, long hours, last minute changes. And it didn’t help that I suddenly found myself embroiled in a messy situation with a particular trouble-maker who played politics and tried making life super difficult for me. Thankfully, with the support from my ex-colleagues (especially XL and Joel), I survived those challenging times and became even more resilient. Presenting my “baby project” – FairPrice’s involvement in SEA Games 2015!

In my new role in Z, I’ve learnt a great deal about the ever evolving e-commerce & start-up landscape, collaborated with partners from all industries to come up with marketing campaigns and taking on ownership of  multiple projects. In a short span of 10 months, I’ve spear-headed no less than 30 campaigns, was part of a team that created 2 gamification contests from scratch,  participated in the Singapore Fashion Week 2015, mentored 4 interns and flew to Manila for an offsite meeting. The greatest job satisfaction? Achieving 8 x  the average transactions and 73% growth for a recent campaign that I’ve worked my ass off for! 🙂 But, of course, every job does come with its downsides. For many months, I felt as if I was swimming against the currents – 12 hours work shift is a norm, my health took a beating and frustration has become my frequent companion at the workplace. Was I a happy camper? Well, the answer is obvious. Nonetheless, I have no regrets with my decision and if anything, my stint has made me realised what I truly look for in a job. 

20150530_180743

PhotoGrid_1451488046598

< FAMILY & LOVE LIFE >

I’m extremely blessed to have a loving family who stands by me, regardless of the shitty situations that I get myself into at times. Thank you Pop Daddy, Mummy, Popo, Ginette, Amanda, Ah Boh and Ah Mai for your unconditional love and support. Let’s also not forget the 3 rascals in my life – Archie, Frosty and Simba!  🙂

2015 also saw me bidding farewell to a happy singlehood as I jumped on-board the “Puma” bandwagon (a younger version of cougar) and started dating Mr. M who is 3 years younger than me. Cougar-in-training, lol. Being single had served me well – Living a commitment-free life, freedom to date guys who probably ain’t my type, rediscover my creativity and pick up new hobbies – and I’m thankful for the chance to be alone and re-connect with myself.  But being able to find someone whom you have great chemistry with is a rare find and despite the naysayers’ take on how a younger man will be too immature for the older lady, I found myself falling hard for Mr. M. Sure, we may have our differences but more importantly, we bond over our quest for adventures and meaningful life experiences, love for our family and dogs and shared moments of joy and pain. 

For the first time, I also feel a sense of belonging and connection with his close-knitted family … Something which was lacking in my previous relationships. I used to think that the significant other’s family doesn’t play a pivotal role as long as both parties love each other but now that I’m accepted as a part of his family, it’s amazing and takes our relationship to greater heights. PS: We suspect that my granny loves him more than she loves us (the grandchildren)!

PhotoGrid_1446357353444
PhotoGrid_1437148476967
PhotoGrid_1443923890028


< HOBBIES & ADVENTURE >


I might have had a broken neck but that doesn’t hold me back from embarking on a series of adventures. If anything, I’m probably more active now than I ever was. Carpe Diem. Rock climb, kayak, waterfall trek,  tree-climb, abseiling … You name it, chances are I’ve probably given it a shot. Somewhere along the way, I’ve also befriended many like-minded people who share the same excitement to travel to every nook & cranny in search for a bigger adventure. Always more fun to do things we love with good company!

In spite of the busyness of life, I always try to squeeze in the time to make these matchbox cards for my Carousell giveaways. Crafting allows me to unleash my creative juices and get in touch with the inner wannabe artist in me. Plus, it’s heart-warming to receive comments from the other Carousell members on how my sharing of life stories has inspired them to a small extent.

PhotoGrid_1451488788630

PhotoGrid_1451488815671
PhotoGrid_1436104685933

< TRAVEL >

Bali: Casting my initial apprehension aside, I confronted my fears and made the decision to go on a solo New Year celebratory trip to Bali. In my own version of “Eat, Pray, Love”, I found myself getting drunk on NYE, celebrating countdown with a room of lively expats and locals and having a too-close-for-comfort goodbye hug with the local waiter. Definitely, one of my most unforgettable New Year’s Eve Countdown.

Hong Kong: 48 Hours. First couchsurf with my very cool Mum (perhaps, the 1st couchsurfing of its kind). Walk on the wild side of the Macau Tower at 233m high. Scaled the world’s highest urban climb at 338m. Mad? Maybe.

Manila: I was there for work so my trip pretty much revolve around travelling from hotel to the office. Repeat that routine for 3 full days. Nevertheless, I had a blast meeting the Partnerships teams from the other 7 countries and bonding over a competitive game of laser-tag and finger-lickin’ fried food.

Hokkaido: Many Firsts – My First White Christmas. First time on snow-mobile and feeling like a pseudo F1 driver on snow. First time dog-sledding. First time trying whale meat (also, the last time due to the effects of whaling).  Feeling like a kid again in Tokyo DisneySea. Failed attempt at skiing. Pigging out on fresh seafood, sashimi, sushi, beef and ramen. The most expensive breakfast ever – $600 on seafood and Hokkaido Snow Crab. Making more memories with my beloved family. 🙂


PhotoGrid_1451490866243
PhotoGrid_1451488738048
PhotoGrid_1451488763831
PhotoGrid_1451487516202
PhotoGrid_1450402721599
PhotoGrid_1450587991547
PhotoGrid_1450615255670PhotoGrid_1451486987229PhotoGrid_1450788024976

. the independent traveler: flying solo for the first time .

WOW. Where do I even begin?

As everyone would have known by now, 2014 has been an extremely dramatic and life-changing year  for me. The perfect life? It was far from it. Throwing caution to the wind, I decided to celebrate the end of the year by doing something courageous that I have always wanted to do for the longest time. Yet, fear has been the one main factor that prevented me from accomplishing that goal.

With a new-found sense of courage, I decided to embark on my first ever solo trip and usher into the new year alone. Like most people, I was afraid of taking that step out of the well-trodden path but once I did, there was no turning back. It is often said that solo travel allows one to enjoy a country on his or her own terms and through that exhilarating journey, they might learn to re-discover parts of themselves that they never knew existed. For me, I went for this solo trip, expecting to spend the bulk of my time alone. Frankly, I was perfectly fine with doing most things alone because I have always had that independent streak in me and my personal belief is that life waits for no one. Waiting might simply translate to missed opportunities. What I found out, at the end of the trip, was that travelling solo brings forth way more interaction and socializing than one could get, if they were to travel with their family or friends.

During my 4 days stay in Bali, I had serendipitous encounters with people from all walks of life – Locals from the tourism industry, artists, medicine woman, primary school kids, and travelers from other parts of the world. Surprisingly, not only did I managed to gain cultural insights from my conversations with them, but I was also very lucky to foster deep and meaningful connections with some of these people. In fact, 2 months down the road, I am still in touch with some of the people whom I have met during my trip.

My first trip might be short but it wasn’t one without an adventure of a lifetime. On the eve of New Year, I drank a little too much (and that’s because I’m a terrible drinker), got drunk and my vision literally went blank while I was dining alone. Horrors of horrors. Had I been in a shady area, I could have been robbed, raped or kidnapped. Lady luck must have been on my side because the drunk episode turned out to be a blessing in disguise as I ended up meeting the Prince of Ubud, spending the rest of the night with the lovely marketing manager (who is now, a friend of mine) before celebrating the NYE countdown in style with the restaurant crew! Serendipity? You bet. Along the way, I also cooked a Balinese meal with a local family in their home compound, met my own version of Ketut Liyer (for those of you who read ‘Eat, Pray, Love’, you would know what I’m talking about) – an old lady who flashed her boobs at me, had an unexpected lunch with an American who turned out to be working in Singapore,  and played ‘Santa’ to a group of kids in a local primary school.

My decision to start 2015 with a solo trip was one of the best choices of my life. All it takes is 1 moment of insane courage. But a lifetime of unforgettable memories and experiences. And trust me, once you start travelling alone, chances are that you will become addicted to it because it is so much more rewarding and enriching. Now, just remember that life waits for no one … So, take that leap of faith and give solo travel a try! 🙂 

***
title for solo trip 1 PhotoGrid_1423391017138
title for solo trip 2 PhotoGrid_1423391417737
title for solo trip 7PhotoGrid_1423392036846
title for solo trip 3PhotoGrid_1423392589865
title for solo trip 4 PhotoGrid_1423392772152
title for solo trip 5PhotoGrid_1423393232018
title for solo trip 6 PhotoGrid_1423393494594
What does solo travel means to me? 

Freedom. Fulfillment. Self-confidence. Excitement. Being in control – not needing to be accountable to others. Spontaneity. Serendipitous experiences. And more important, a journey to explore more about myself and grow in ways that I can never learn from my school or workplace.

20150102_135140

. 2014: my most dramatic yet blessed year .

2014 has come and gone in the blink of an eye. Needless to say, on paper, 2014 has certainly been the most dreadful year for me. A close shave with death and paralysis. An extremely dramatic breakup with the boy after 6 years of relationship. Finding out that I have been diagnosed with alopecia areata after suffering from a sudden hair loss. Basically, putting my life plans on hold for the majority of the year. As with most people, I started last year with big plans for changes and change, I did get … Just not the way that I had expected it. Then again, no one could have expected such a turn of events.

Yet, despite the pain and struggles, I’m very thankful to have lived and survived through traumatic events and am still able to continue writing my life’s journey. Like I have said multiple times in previous entries, I know that my injury could have been worse and there was a high possibility that I could have lost the ability to even breathe without a ventilator or write this blog post. What matters most is that I’m healthy and mobile now; Life has pretty much returned to normal for me and I’m living it with a brand new perspective. I refused to let these negative experiences define me as a helpless victim. Introspect, 2014 has been my luckiest year and I’m grateful to have been given this opportunity to gather strength and become more resilient to the difficult changes that life may bring forth.

Surviving The Fight Against Adversity

PhotoGrid_1420363121684

Strength From My Loved Ones
I wouldn’t have had a full recovery, had it not been for the support and encouragement of my family and loved ones. At the lowest period of my life, I was going through sporadic episodes of depression and lost all determination to persevere and fight on. All I wanted to do was to wallow in self-pity and spend my days mopping around in bed. Yet, knowing that my family and loved ones have always got my back made realised I wasn’t going through this shit alone. Through my injury and heartache, I have also learnt that people usually have more to give than what it seems. Relatives and casual friends whom I have never bothered to establish close bonds with, reached out to me and helped get me back to my feet.

Life is never a bed of roses. Even now, I still struggle with making some important decisions in life but I know that as long as I have love and support, I will get through it somehow. Thank you. Especially to Pop Daddy, Mum, Popo, Ah Boh, Ginette and Amanda. 🙂

PhotoGrid_1420362572437

Turning My Experience into Positive Changes
There are only 2 types of outcomes to setbacks in life – You either swim or sink. I chose the former. Driven by the purpose to re-commit myself to life, I decided to adopt a positive attitude and fully utilise the 5 months recovery period. Very often, when you go through life-changing experiences, it makes you stop procrastinating (although it’s still a weakness of mine) and make things happen. Well, it happened to me.

Finances: I’ve talked about investing since I first entered the workforce but my super low risk attitude towards investment meant that I have been procrastinating for 5 long years. After my accident, I decided to take a leap of faith, and did my research on the various investment tools. Having said that, I’m not out to make big bucks through investment as I prefer to adopt the buy-and-hold approach and make my money work harder. Am pretty pleased that I’ve finally taken baby steps in building my financial portfolio and am getting passive income through my investment in bonds and equity unit trusts.

Becoming a student again: Well, I’m not returning to school anytime soon but I have picked up new skills such as baking, silkscreen printing and leather crafting during my recovery period. Oh, the joys of learning something new! 🙂

Blogging: Writing about my experiences on the blog has always serve as a very important outlet for me to express my thoughts and feelings. I never blog with the intention of getting my 15 seconds of fame or freebies, but along the way, I have been lucky to be given mini opportunities for blog advertorials and collaborations. 2014 saw this blog collaborating with ZALORA, Tirisula Yoga, iPrice, RWS, The Entertainer and it was really an icing on the cake to be nominated for the running of OMY Best Lifestyle Blog Awards.

More importantly, I’m so thankful for the chance to connect with several readers who are currently in a halo vest and share with them my experiences of life in that horrible metal device. To be able to share my life experiences and hopefully inspire others, is more important than any other commercial benefits that one can get out from blogging.

Joining Couchsurfing: Yet another thing on my TO-DO list for the longest time! What’s a girl gonna do if she cannot travel often but would still want to experience a taste of other countries’ culture and interact with people from around the globe? Well, join Couchsurfing! Being a typical Asian, I’m still living with my family (and loving it) so it is impossible for me to host any travelers at my place. However, I had a ball of fun playing host to Matiz (Greece), Prashant (India), Mike (USA), Ines (Germany), Martin (Austria) by bringing them around Singapore! 🙂

#inspirekindness through match-minis: The accident has taught me the importance of surrounding myself with affirmations and I truly believe that a little dose of positivity goes a long way. I was making inspirational matchbox cards one day when suddenly, an idea popped into my head. Why not pay it forward by giving away these cute handmade matchbox cards (which I affectionately term as “match-mini”)? Just a tiny gesture on my part to help spread the joy and brighten someone’s day!

The first 2 giveaways received pretty good reception and I’m humbled to see so many people giving encouraging comments about this little project.

PhotoGrid_1420361606448PhotoGrid_1420362090889
PhotoGrid_1420363995359
Many people often complain about how terrible their year was and how they wish for that particular year to be over. However if you were to think about it, each year simply marks 365 days in calendar terms but one shouldn’t have to officially wait for that year to be over in order to make changes or resolutions. Time and tide wait for no man. Procrastination is still one of my weaknesses but I’m working hard on making some of my goals and plans work.

With the coming year, I do hope to follow my heart and set out to make decisions that should have been made ages ago. To listen to the inner voice and not allow the situation to define who I am. La Vita E Bella. 

PhotoGrid_1420363306443
#goodbye2014 #hello2015

. adventure through the lens: Bryan Smith .

thefrozentitans_cr_reelwaterproductionssource

Being a typical Sagittarius, I’m an adventurer at heart and lust after new experiences and discoveries. Being easily bored and restless is one of my weakness, so I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting activities or events to be engaged in. Looking back, I must admit that I was nowhere as outgoing or adventurous in the past. In fact, I was a very studious and introverted girl during my secondary school and junior college years – Think neatly tucked-in uniform, thick glasses, someone who spends most of her time at home instead of hitting town when the rest of the student population are out shopping, well … you get the drift. It is only through the process of growing up and gaining life experiences that I slowly began to develop my own identity, build my self-confidence and foster this spirit of adventure.

So, where does this brings me to? While I’m trapped behind the safe confines of my cubicle at work, I pretty much contented to have the weekends free to embark on my little adventure on our tiny red dot. However, more than anything, I live my life vicariously through adventurers and explorers who have taken a step off the well-trodden path and pushed the boundaries. It’s simply a breath of fresh air. And so, I attended the recent National Geographic LIVE talk show featuring adventure filmmaker, Bryan Smith. Are you fascinated by the jaw-dropping footage of extreme adventurers performing awe-inspiring stunts such as highlining between cliffs, ice mountain climbing, venturing into a volcano? Well, you will need someone behind-the-scenes to capture such breath-taking footage and this responsibility lies in the filmmaker whose fearless and adventuresome attitude brings them to some of the world’s most challenging environments.

Through Bryan’s storytelling and video snippets, I managed to get a glimpse of the life and work of an extreme adventurer behind the lens. From filming ice-climbing in -35 degrees temperature to trekking in the Grizzly bear-laden wilderness of Kamchatka in Russia, Bryan has done it all. While most people would probably gasp in fear about visiting such treacherous locations for work, it is exactly this type of stuff that makes him alive. Fear, according to Bryan, is inevitable but it is also his best asset because it drives him to fully focus on what he has to do at present. Fear is a double-edged sword. A good amount of rational fear keeps you on your toes and allows you to take calculated risk; Having too much fear within, however, can keep you from trying out new things in life and stick to the routine. Personally, I have been on both sides of the equation. Overcoming some of my fears such as trying out new things alone (like how I attended this talk show by myself) or swimming in the open sea are some of the best things I have done for myself because such spontaneity brings forth very unique and unforgettable moments in our lives. Yet, my fear of befriending uncertainty in some aspects have left me opting for the safer option, which isn’t too bad a thing but it allows a load of excuses to own me. In other words, there is a part of me that looks forward to changes and challenges but when that time approaches, I can practically come up with a list of excuses not to go forward with it. To cut the long story short, this is why I admire the people who are continuously pushing their limits, leaving no chance for regrets.

Looking forward to next year’s installment of the National Geographic LIVE talk show events where I can continue to live off these extraordinary adventures! 🙂 

dean potter moonwalksource

NatGeoLive-QTPContestBSsource

bryan-smith-climbing-rock-face_cr-mikey-schaefer-copysource

. get a megawatt smile with express braces .

They say a smile is worth a thousand words. Too often, we underestimate the power of a smile – A simple action that could brighten our day and the lives of others. When I was a little girl, I had a pretty bad case of crowded and protruded teeth and was never proud to flaunt a smile. In fact, I had to wear braces for 5 whole years! For those of you who had undergone orthodontic treatment, you will understand the discomfort and pain caused by these braces. There is the constant ulcers and blisters, tightening of teeth, impairment of speech and of course, the reduced self-esteem. Imagine my excitement when my dentist finally gave the green-light to remove my braces at the end of my Secondary school years. Yet, I underestimated the need to wear retainers for life and over the next decade, my teeth shifted which resulted in a slight misalignment of my teeth.

My advice to those who had worn braces before? Don’t be lazy and wear your retainers every night, else don’t regret once your teeth have shifted.

BEFORE: Slight “bucks bunny” front teeth 
PhotoGrid_1406916436083
Needless to say, I miss my ‘close to perfect’ straight teeth. 2 years and over a thousand dollars later, I had tried different dental treatments, ranging from the good old retainer and clear aligners, to correct my misalignment. Both didn’t work. 😦 I was about to give up when I came across this new treatment offered at my dental clinic, Victoria Dental Care, appropriately termed as ‘Express Braces’. Frankly, I was not too keen about having a ‘metal mouth’ again but when I heard that ‘Express Braces’ offers straight teeth in less time and using clear discreet braces, I was sold. Sort-of instant gratification and I can still look presentable with the clear braces. Only downside? The price tag. It doesn’t come cheap.

express braces title
– Time: An average of 4- 9 months treatment time
– Discreet: Clear brackets and tooth-coloured wire that blend into your natural teeth
– Ideal for those who want a smile makeover without a long treatment time/ unnecessary removal tooth structure


AFTER: To correct the alignment of the front 2 teeth and push the bottom teeth inwards to have a better bite alignment.
Straight teeth 🙂

PhotoGrid_1406916492050
I was in braces for about 5 months, out of which 3.5 months were spent while I was in my halo vest/neck collar. In other words, on top of my metal contraption screwed to my head, I also had a mouth full of metal. Trust me, it was extremely uncomfortable to deal with both devices. The dental treatment itself didn’t cause much pain after the first  2 months (probably because most changes were made within the first couple of months) as the forces used were gentler than traditional braces. Dr. Mak is a very friendly and amicable dentist who never fails to puts me at ease so no worries about nasty dental stories/ experiences!

I’m glad I persevered, for now I’m happy to be able to flaunt my straight teeth! 🙂

Victoria Dental Care
Marina Square Link, #B1-11
Dentist: Dr Sue-Min Mak

PhotoGrid_1405420168907
* This is not an advertorial. Treatment cost was totally borne by me.

. around the world in 24 hours .

29.07.2014. Possibly the happiest day in my life for this year. The day when I received news from my spinal surgeon that my neck fracture has healed completely and I’m ready to start living my life without the neck collar (at home, for now) and move my neck again! 🙂 However, there’s a joint between the C1 and C2 bones that didn’t fuse properly so surgery is not exactly out of the picture yet. Nonetheless, there is simply no words to describe the joy I feel to know that I can regain some sort of normalcy again. Finally, after an awfully long 4 months wait, things are slowly but surely getting back in shape – My fracture is healing well, hair is growing back in my bald spot, completed an express course of orthodontic treatment and am now proud to flaunt my straight teeth and finally, I underwent a cosmetic surgery to revise the depressed scars (aka halo vest scars) on my forehead.

The journey to recovery has been one hell of a ride, with way too many emotional outbursts than I could possibly handle. Some days, I mopped around in bed, constantly living off negative energy and wishing for the days to zoom to the time, when I can proudly proclaimed that everything has fallen back in place. Yet, by doing so, I realised that I was rushing through life just trying to reach to the destination. My goal when I can “get back to my old life”.  Joel Osteen mentioned in his book ‘Every Day A Friday’ that “Many people only live for the mountaintops.” This basically means that most of us are constantly so focused on big-ticket events, such as a job promotion, wedding and vacations/travels, that we put our lives on hold until those things happen. I’m very sure that many of us are guilty of that, aren’t we? Likewise, at the lowest points of my recovery, I was hoping and praying so hard to speed forward in time so that I can be normal again. Because I thought normal will bring me happiness. Yet, there was no denying that I felt even more demoralised whenever I spend a day idling around and doing nothing productive. So, I tried to make the best of each day while waiting longingly for that big day to come. Most of the time, I think I did pretty well for someone who had a broken neck. I have had strangers who came up to me and praised me for having the courage to embark on workshops or island-hopping trips despite my lack of tip-top condition. Looking back, it is the days where I filled my time with meaningful activities that made me smile with glee … And not the days, where I sulked in misery, in my bed.

I guess, what I want to share is that no matter how bleak you might think your situation is, always have faith and believe that it will always get better at the end of the day. It’s perfectly normal to moan and get upset because we need an outlet to release our emotions and feelings but don’t waste too much time wallowing in that dark corner. Attempt to enjoy each day as it comes because when you look back, you will realise that it is a pity to let those days go by without making it productive. And of course, always surround yourself with your support system because they will be the ones who will help get you to your destination eventually. 🙂

Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning how to dance in the rain.

disneyworld bdae title

On the many occasions when I’m feeling utterly depressed or paranoid, he never fails to remind me to think of the happy moments in my life. Because these unforgettable memories will be the catalyst to trigger happiness and positivism within me. And I did. While I’m not one who fuss around big birthday celebrations, I have been lucky to celebrate many birthdays aboard. Last year, I had my best birthday celebration (so far) at the happiest place on Earth, with the company of those dearest to me. It was that special day at Epcot, Disneyworld that I often thought of whenever I needed a morale booster. After all, I got to ‘travel’ to 11 countries in 24 hours! Pretty awesome huh! 🙂

 Canada: Learning about O’ Canada at Chateau Laurier and taking a stroll at the Canadian Rookies and Butchart Gardens
PhotoGrid_1406635365682
United Kingdom:
Taking in the sights of the quaint cobble-stoned streets, quintessential English buildings and cottages and of course, not forgetting the world-famous red phone booths!
PhotoGrid_1406635304381
France: Bon Appetit at Les Chefs de France restaurant, followed by a walk at the Seine waterfront and ending with a photo op at the romantic Pont des Arts bridge.
PhotoGrid_1406635211743

Norway: A ride on the viking boat at the Maelstrom attraction and we also saw why the film-makers were inspired by this beautiful country to produce the movie, Frozen.
PhotoGrid_1406635131942

United States of America: New York City. Boston. Philadelphia. Newark. San Francisco. Los Angeles. Anaheim. Buffalo. Orlando. I’ll be back for more.
PhotoGrid_1406634802314
Morocco: The Jewel of North Africa, the most exotic country in the world showcase in Epcot. Soaking in the ambiance of the bustling bazaar and intricately designed courtyard.
PhotoGrid_1406634650869

Italy: People-watching at St Mark’s Square and the Venetian bridges of Venice. Looks almost as real as the originals in Italy!
PhotoGrid_1406634925896
Germany: I’m not a beer person or any alcohol for that matter but when you are in Germany, you gotta do what the locals love! 
PhotoGrid_1406634979998
China:  Back to our roots. Checked out the Temple of Heaven in Beijing and the Terracotta Army in Xi’an.
PhotoGrid_1406635057222
Japan: The most popular and crowded country in the world showcase! Everyone seems to be so excited purchasing all sorts of knick knacks from the Mitsukoshi department store, from Hello Kitty merchandise to anime action figures to katana, to name a few. For me? I’m happy to satisfy my cravings for Japanese instant noodles!
PhotoGrid_1406634723874
Mexico: We joined Donald Duck and friends on a delightful musical journey through Mexico, passing by Chichen Itza, Mexico City and Acapulco! Love the lively energy and colours of the Mexico pavilion! 
PhotoGrid_1406634517561

. finding strength in hard times .

look 1
Now that I’m finally off the halo vest, I guess one can only imagine that life would be a lot sweeter and smooth-sailing for me. Physically, my neck seems to be on the right track to recovery as the last CT scan revealed a good reduction of the cervical fracture. And yes, I’m truly ecstatic to be freed of the vest and regain some of my sought-after freedom. Yet, I am still trapped in a dark place – emotionally and mentally. The past 2 weeks have been a real roller-coaster ride of emotions, knocking me down and off course for many days. Days living with the Aspen neck collar is a lot better than my days in the halo but there are still many restrictions. I’m a true blood Sagittarius, which means I love my freedom and independence and it is even more stifling now that I’m technically more mobile but am still not able to do much. My sense of self-esteem and confidence have plunged to an all-time down as I have to let go of the once adventurous lifestyle that I grew to love, continue living with this uncomfortable neck collar for the months to come and face up to the 2 depressed scars (pin sites) imprinted on my forehead every single day.

I know that the road to recovery is going to be one hell of a ride but the reality is  that it is so much tougher and harder than I ever thought it would be. I pride my strength and optimism for getting me through the hardest 6 months of my life but these days, my spirit and soul are falling apart. It’s getting challenging to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Trust me, I know that time is of the essence and one has to be patient for everything to fall into place, eventually. However, to have patience in a world where we crave for instant gratification, is simply torturing. It doesn’t help that an idle mind is the devil’s playground … It creates endless opportunities for me to mull and dwell over negative thoughts. Really bad for the soul. While I usually hate to wallow in self-pity, I find it increasingly easy to have regrets about my decision to attempt the flip on the trampoline. You know how it goes … had I not attempt it, this would not have happened and I would not be in this state.

But I have survived this traumatic experience. Other than the broken neck, I’m in a relatively good shape and health. My family loves me dearly and have been a pillar of strength for me throughout this journey. I was blessed with visits from relatives and friends every day when I was glued to my back on the hospital bed for 2 weeks. And, now that I cannot be too active for a period of time, it is the chance to pick up new skills and hobbies (am already at it). At the end of the day, everyone has to deal with their own fair share of hardships in life; but the difference is that each of us have a choice to make. Either to sit in that very dark corner and waste energy dwelling on the past, or to view the experience as an enlightening opportunity to re-discover life. As tough as I might be, I’m no robot and am only human. I’ll mourn over my loss of many things but I’ll also get right back up, press on and slowly rebuild my life. The end is a new beginning.

thumb

i love you

Now, there are so many people who I would like to thank for being there for me over the few months. Truth to be told, I never expected to receive such an overwhelming amount of love and support from so many people and it has truly been a humbling experience. Sometimes, I wonder to myself, what did I do to deserve such an out-pour of love from each and every one of you. When I was at the lowest point in my life, it was you guys who gave me the encouragement and motivation to develop the strength and press forward. Thank you. 🙂  Pls bear with me as it is a pretty long list but I wouldn’t want to miss out on anyone.

PhotoGrid_1404745335836


Dad
, for dropping everything and keeping me accompanied throughout my 2 weeks stay in the hospital. You have no idea how much it means to me to have someone close by my side every time I open my eyes in the hospital. Closer to home, you are my inspiration – You have never once allowed your handicap to get the better of you. If anything, you have always live life to your fullest and taught us so much about living vicariously. Mum, for being my sole care-giver – It is the hardest job in the world! Thank you for bathing me, feeding me, listening to my rants and wails, giving me advice and encouragement, the list goes on. You have been there for me 100% and I honestly wouldn’t know what I would have done, without you. You are my rock! Grandma, for feeding me with nourishing food that aided in my fast recovery. Ginette, I know that it sucks that your older sister had to get herself into trouble when you are back for a visit and you had to spend your vacation time in the hospital with me. Thank you for easing my anxieties whenever I had a mental breakdown. Amanda, for holding the family together after Mum’s car accident and sacrificing your personal time to care for me. And of course, for teaching me how to bake a loaf of bread! :p 

Aunty Jo, Ah Bo, Ah Bo Lina and Uncle Anthony, Aunty Alice, Aunty Angie, Aunty Cindy – Words cannot even begin to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you for the tremendous amount of physical and emotional support that you have showered me with. While I must admit that some of us had been on relatively distant terms, this accident has, ironically, brought us closer together. I really appreciate that some of you (you know who you are) have opened yourselves up and shared with me stories of your own struggles and difficulties in life that had certainly served as an inspiration. Thank you.

MK – Things are no longer the same for us but thank you for being there when I needed someone the most. For accompanying me at the hospital every single night without fail, introducing me to many sitcoms that I have, now, come to love, challenging me at QuizUp and reassuring me that things will eventually fall into place whenever I have my multiple meltdowns.

PhotoGrid_1404748465389
Sara – We might be living at the extreme ends of the world but this does not mean that I have received any less loving encouragement from you. Thank you for sending me so many inspirational verses from the Bible, songs and messages to keep me going when I’m feeling the blues. Together with Imogen, you girls gave me 1 of the sweetest gift that I could ever ask for when you got together your girlfriends from church to write me a super motivational card. Pls help me to thank each and every one of the girls for reaching out to me even though we don’t know one another.

Claire –  Thank you for always entertaining my messages (the serious and nonsensical), even though you have your own set of concerns as a soon-to-be-mummy! You have no idea how much your messages help to keep my mind occupied and sane! :p

Soy and Shermin – I love you girls. I might be terrible with dates but please know that it doesn’t mean I care for you any lesser. Thank you for visiting me so many times, satisfying my craving for Korean cuisine and being playmates to both Frosty and Simba!

Christine – You are amazing, do you know that? Thank you for your weekly visits to my house, updating me with the latest office happenings, being my personal mailman to HR, and keeping my spirit up when I’m down.

Chern Chieh – It touches me that you have made the time and effort to visit me even though work has kept you pretty hectic and busy. Thank you for always being such a supportive confidante and personal cheerleader!

Kristin – Thank you babe for rushing down to visit me on the day that I was hospitalized, and also for squeezing time between your hectic schedule to have dinner with me at my place. The lavender diffuser plant helps keep me calm at night!

Swiss – It’s funny how our friendship has evolved, from acquaintances who barely knew each other to good friends who can talk about anything under the sun. Thank you for visiting me at the hospital even though we were still strangers at that point of time; your actions have proven to me that there are people who come and never leave your side. Really appreciate your endless stream of gifts and messages that kept coming!

Eileen, Jia Zhen, Christine, Elisabeth, Loisa, Cherie, Jane, Jocelyn – Eil and JZ, thank you for being there for me when I broke my neck at the trampoline park and of course, for giving me the teddy bear that accompanied me through my hosp stay and the endless support through our special chat group. To the rest of the girls, thank you for springing a surprise visit on that faithful night when I was already tucked in bed, ready to call it a night and for all your prayers. Jane, for sending me the smiley face bouquet of flowers that certainly brought a smile to my face!

Wendy, Rachel, Eveline, Daphne, Maylyn, Linda, Shu Ling, Candy – Thank you for dropping by my place and being my guardians-cum-bodyguards at Wendy’s wedding reception!

Serene, Jingwei, Zhennan, Wai Mun, Victor – I’m so blessed to have you guys at my fellow MT friends! Thank you for your various visits to me at both the hospital and my place, and gifts of all sorts – From baby food to vitamin C to face masks to a colourful garden windmill. And how can I ever forget the afternoon of fun, food and games – Saboteur! Thank you for going the extra mile for me, guys!

Amanda, Jasmine, Shi Hui, Xin Yi – Thank you for putting together one of the most lovely package – doggy toy, balloons, flowers, and cards! Your gifts definitely brightened up the otherwise dull hospital room, even the doctors and nurses were singing praises about it. Amanda, I cannot thank you enough for helping to cover the bulk of my workload in my absence and Jasmine, for being a listening ear whenever I needed to share something.

Jessy, Cheryl, Kenny, Junie, June, Janet, Wei Sing, Vince, Kailing – Your visit had certainly cheered up a girl who was utterly depressed over her bald spot the day prior to your visit. Thank you for convincing me that I shouldn’t go down the route of moping over my hair loss and that it was way better for you guys to come and entertain me ! And of course, for sharing part of my workload while I’m on leave.

Daniel, Say Inn, Aaron, Ka Chun, Jia Yan, Sharon, Wei Shi, Joseph – Thank you for taking the time out to visit me at the hospital and your follow-up messages to make sure that I’m doing fine!

Kenston – I cannot thank you enough for offering to cut and wash my hair over the 10 weeks that I was in a halo vest. I know that it was a nightmare for you to wash my hair in that device but you did it. Also, thank you for always counting down with me to the day of the halo vest removal! 🙂

Wei Ping – Just a week prior to my accident, you advised me against from embarking on too many adventures. Well, I should have listened to you! :p Anyhow, thank you for making a special home visit to adjust my new pair of spectacles and also for the box of chicken essence and witty card!

Havas Worldwide and Havas Media – Thank you for sending over the baskets of flowers and fruits. It was truly a delightful surprise!

Phew. But I’m not done yet! There are still many others who have sent me countless of messages  and words of encouragement via Whatsapp, FB and my blog to spur me on. It was through every one of you and your actions, thoughts and prayers that I was (and still am) able to find the strength to fight on in hard times. Thank you.

look

. the key to everything is patience .

As with any life-threatening experience, there is always much to be reflected on and learnt. I have always known that patience is not my strongest trait. In fact, if anything, I am relatively impatient and like to see the fruits of my labour almost immediately. Yes, just one of those city dwellers who like to get things done fast in order to see the results. However, since my accident, I’m beginning to understand and internalize the phrase that good things come to those who wait and be patient about everything.

Patience is the key to a lot of things in my life at the moment. The long recovery time needed for my neck fracture to heal properly and completely. As much as I would like to return to a productive life as soon as possible, this injury is definitely not something that can be rushed, for the slightest mistake can result in paralysis or even death. That aside, I’ll also have to wait for the hair to re-grow, scars at pin sites to fade after removal of halo vest, teeth to be straightened while on braces, amongst many other things that I hope to expedite. Oh boy, for an impatient and fiery-tempered person like me, having to wait patiently for things to happen is akin to harvesting rice in a drought!

Come Tuesday, it will mark the 9th week that I have been trapped in a walking prison of my own (aka halo vest). Yes, 9 whole weeks! At times, it’s excruciatingly frustrating when everyone surrounding me are making exciting plans but I have to put a temporary halt to my life. 2014 was meant to be  a year of exciting changes for me … I wanted to set greater heights for myself in yoga and aerial arts, embark on adventure trips with YMCA outdoor activities group to go kayaking, caving, trek mountains and travel. In reality, I found myself being home-bound to give my body the much needed time to recuperate. Hence, it’s disheartening to make plans to take 1 step forward in life; yet take 2 steps backwards at this point of time. When all is said and done, I’m proud that I have dealt extremely well with living with a halo vest for the past 2.5 months. If I can survive this, I sure can beat against other odds that life might bring forth. If all goes well, freedom beckons in 24 hours’ time and I hope to walk away from the clinic halo-free tomorrow! 🙂 With the big day just less than a day away, I must confess that I’m a mixed bag of emotions … Full of anticipation to be freed and be a step closer to being productive, but also full of nervousness because the halo vest has been my safety net for the longest time and I have absolutely no idea how my neck will hold out on its own. Will I be like 1 of those bobber head dolls? Will my neck crack with the slightest movement? Will I ever be able to move my neck without having to turn my torso? The list of question is endless!

Physically,  my neck should be ready for the next phase of recovery but mentally, I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to take the plunge. There’s an overwhelming sense of anxiety within me and this psychological barrier is what that prevents me from stepping back into the “big and unknown world”. Figuratively, of course. On a good note, I will be on a cervical collar for awhile so we will be taking gradual steps to re-introduce strength  and mobility to my neck . Once again, having patience is essential in the course of this journey. Patience, a crucial life skill that I have picked up from my experience and I hope to carry forward post-injury. 

24 hours or 1440 minutes or 86 400 seconds left to go till the big removal. Let’s hope that my neck has healed and I would finally be halo-free tomorrow! Keeping my fingers crossed for the best piece of news, for I’ve been a good girl. :p

PhotoGrid_1402921197538

. amy purdy: my inspiration .

These days, in between finding random activities to occupy my time and having a lot of rest, I’ve also been inspired by many who have overcame personal obstacles in their life and go beyond their limits.

One of whom is Amy Purdy, a double amputee who had lost both of her legs below her knees at 19 yrs old to bacterial meningitis. At that time, she was given less than a 2% chance of survival with respiratory and multiple organ failure. In addition to losing her legs, she also lost her spleen and received a kidney transplant, donated by her father, when she was only 21. Honestly, that’s a lot of hardship for someone so young to go through.

Nonetheless, this determined and spirited lady not only triumphed over adversity but also began to live life with a renewed intensity. Despite the challenges, she went on to win a Bronze medal in the first ever para-snowboarding competition at Sochi Paralympic Winter Games 2014, danced her way to the finale of ‘Dancing With the Stars’ season 18 and even participated in the hit reality series, ‘The Amazing Race’! Wow, impressive! 🙂 Inspired to use her story and life experiences to drive a greater purpose, Amy went on to start Adaptive Action Sports, a nonprofit organization to provide a range of action-sport development programs for people with physical disabilities. This gave the disabled community an opportunity for a new lease of life in the sporting industry. A true example of someone who has fought against life struggles through sheer tenacity and perseverance and inspire millions to live an amazing life beyond limitations.

amy-purdy-snowboardsource

Of course, if given the chance, I would have reversed the situation and never wish for a broken neck. But you know, this is life … Things change, accidents happen. Two weeks into my neck injury, I suddenly lost a small chunk of my hair; The chunk of hair practically fell out from my head overnight! A visit to the dermatologist confirmed that it was a case of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease where one’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy hair follicles for no reason. I confess, that was also the only time I cried out loud, Why me? As if it wasn’t already tough dealing with a broken neck, I had to be confronted with the fact that I might possibly suffer from more hair loss and be bald! All of a sudden, I lost the will to fight this battle momentarily and allowed myself to wallow in self-pity. Losing hair was a tough pill to swallow – As superficial as it might sound, most females take pride in our lovely locks and to have that taken away from us, it’s utterly depressing and such a blow to our self-esteem. Honestly, at that point of time, I didn’t think that I would be able to find anyone who will love me anymore because of this bald patch.

Yet, as Amy Purdy said in her TEDx speech, “Our borders and our obstacles can only do two things: (1) stop us in our tracks, or (2) force us to get creative“, I knew that these challenges will not bring me down. Compared to so many others, my problems are just a scratch on the knee. If someone like Amy is able to push through the seemingly impossible and live such a fulfilling life that continues to inspire millions, I shouldn’t let such obstacles stop me in my tracks. If anything,
I’m even more determined to grow from this experience and re-live life with vigor and zest. Two months into the injury, I’m glad to say that my neck has been healing well and surgery is most likely out of the picture. The hair condition has been under control (aka no more new hair loss, yay!) and I’m just waiting, patiently, for the hair to re-grow. Patience, what a hard virtue. There are the good days; and there are the bad days but life’s quite good.

If you have not heard about Amy Purdy, please find some time to watch the video of her motivational speech below. I hope you are as inspired by her as I am. 🙂

amy purdy dancing with starssource

“My legs haven’t disabled me; If anything, they have enabled me. They have forced me to rely on my imagination and to believe in the possibilities”
– Amy Purdy