Tuesday, December 22, 2015

“I stayed in an abusive relationship for too long because I didn’t think I deserved any better. I finally ended it, but afterward I started second guessing myself. I began to feel lonely and I thought: ‘As bad as it was, at least you weren’t alone.’  big challenge has been learning to be OK with being by myself. One day I may meet someone else, but in the meantime it’s just me, so I’ve got to do what’s best for me.
I decided that if there’s something I want to do, and I can’t find anyone to come with me,
I’m going to do it anyway. Tonight I’m going to see a bagpipe concert at Madison Presbyterian Church.
I’ve even been on several vacations by myself. I went to Miami recently. It’s fun during the day because you can lie on the beach and you’re surrounded by people.
But at night it’s a little tougher because it’s quieter and darker. And without all the noise around you, you sort of realize it’s just you.”
Humans of New York

Monday, December 21, 2015

Written by April via bphope
Dear depressed April,

I know you are in pain. I know this is more than you want to handle right now and I know you’re exhausted. It’s not fair that you have to keep going through these extreme moods. I know your moods often last for months at a time and it can seem like there is no end in sight. Depression is the feeling that you will never experience joy or peace again. It is the feeling of deepest, darkest despair, clawing at your insides to destroy you.

Well I’m here to tell you that nothing, not even depression, lasts forever. I know from a stable viewpoint that your mania will not last forever either. You may or may not like that fact, but it is helpful to remember because it means that the depression will not last either. Keep going. The light at the end of the tunnel is not a train coming to run you over, it’s a train coming to rescue you. I know you don’t believe that right now but believe this: your mind is not working properly and these dark thoughts are not reality. Emotions and feelings are not always reliable and you have to remember who you really are.

You are a woman who loves music, who loves to write, dance, and sing. You love to laugh and make jokes and watch movies and hike in the woods. You even loved running at one point. You love good food and comforting things like candles and cuddling on the couch with your husband and dog. You are intelligent and kind and caring and you love God.

So remember these things, and hold fast to them.
The depression can be strong but you, and ultimately God, are stronger.

Love, the real April

Monday, December 14, 2015

I have always wanted to buy flowers for myself. Great way to start the day

Monday, December 07, 2015

The results of a test of how my interpretation of some pictures shown indicates my character.

You have a uniquely creative personality!

The main things in life for you are your intuition, wisdom, joy, satisfaction and curiosity. The world for you is full of mystery, and is made up of so many different things, situations and people which are all constantly stimulating your imagination. Your life is painted in a multitude of beautiful colours, and you're always looking at it through the prism of creativity. You can turn anything that happens to you into something positive, and you never look for simple answers to life's questions.

You live your life in constant anticipation of experiencing something new and wonderful. However, at the moment you feel a lot of aggression inside. It's possible that recently you've been experiencing a lot of negative emotions and have the desire to finally resolve something that's been bugging you for a long time. You need to calm down and relax. The time has come to do something new. You have the ability to draw a huge amount of strength from yourself, whilst at the same time remaining a tender and loving person.
There's something therapeutic about watching clothes being washed in the machine or being hung to dry...
It's like washing away our troubles for the day and letting nature or the higher being take care of the rest.

This photo was taken in front of the bookstore- this is a popular place for the homeless to hang their clothes to dry.

There once was a woman who had a pet snake that she loved very much. The snake was about 7 feet long and one day it just stopped eating. After several weeks of trying everything she could to get the snake to eat, the woman took it to the vet.
The woman explained the situation to the vet and he asked her, “Has your snake been sleeping with you at night or snuggling really close and stretching himself out?”
The woman replied, “Yes he’s been doing it everyday and it makes me so sad that I can’t help him feel better.”
The vet says “Ma’am your snake is not sick, he has been preparing to eat you. He’s been sizing you up everyday so he knows how big he has to be, and not eating so he has enough room to digest you.

Moral of the story: You’ve gotta recognise the snakes out there. Just because they seem close to you and sleep in your bed, it doesn’t mean their intentions are good.

************************ wow, what a story...............................

Sunday, December 06, 2015

I went swimming yesterday.
I'm still very wobbly but at least I'm moving in the waters.
Suddenly, I recalled the time when I first started testing the waters - literally.

Indeed, I've come far.
I will continue moving forward.

Monday, November 30, 2015

By Rachel Griffin
I used to feel ashamed of my mental health condition, but now I refuse to let stigma and stereotypes dictate how I feel about myself. If you stigmatize me, that's your ignorance, not my truth. Cool people, who are educated about mental illness and confident in their own mental health, don't stigmatize. Stigma is dated, cruel and just plain wrong. Get educated about mental illness and come over to the cool side.

People with mental illnesses are not less-than. They are not damaged. They are not what you see on TV, the news or in movies. They are people; brothers, mothers, fathers, daughters... People. They are valuable, vibrant, brilliant members of your community. They are 1 in 4 people, not some freaky monster you've never met.

I have an awesome, successful, happy life... and a mental health condition. Big deal. Get over it. Just because I'm different, doesn't mean I'm broken. In fact, I like being different.  

Shame is toxic to the human spirit. I've let it go and replaced it with pride and acceptance. You can shame me all you want and have a big ol' shame party, but it's my choice whether I attend or not. (I'm always busy with better, more important things to do than sit with shame.) Shaming yourself and others are both exhausting, heavy, soul-energy-sucking things to do. I'll be by the pool with joy and acceptance if you want to join us.

I hope you'll also let shame go and move forward with pride. Here are 5 reasons why I'm not ashamed anymore: 

1. It's not my fault. 

I didn't choose this. It's genetics. It's not a character flaw or a negative personality trait. I'm not guilty of something. I don't have a mental health condition because I'm weak, don't try hard enough to change, don't have enough willpower, eat too many donuts, like the attention, or haven't read enough Oprah. It's my brain being my brain. (For the record, though, I eat healthy and I've read a lot of Oprah. I'm eating cucumbers and having an aha-moment right. now.)

Depression is extremely different from normal sadness. Anxiety is not "just worrying." People who have mental health conditions can't just snap out of it. Know the facts. 

2. My brain is actually awesome, and I'm in good company.

I've grown to love my brain. Ya, I have anxiety, I'm a human sponge for everyone's feelings, and I'm so sensitive I'll cry at a cheerios commercial, but the ability to feel so much is also gift. I have an extraordinary amount of empathy. My brain is out to lunch in some areas but it has extra mojo in other areas like creativity and imagination. I am an award-winning composer (writing a mental health musical!) music teacher, Dramatists Guild Fellow, and a published writer. My imagination may take me places I'm not so fond of (but I'm used to that by now) and it's worth it for the beautiful places I can travel to. I'd rather trudge through mud and then dance in seas of glittery stars then walk on flat, easy plain all the time. It's who I am and I'm also learning to appreciate the mud.. Hey, mud-pies! Mud-facials! Mud-baths!  

People with mental health conditions are not doomed. Their future isn't bleak and miserable. With treatment, they can live normal, wonderful lives and have happy, successful relationships!

People with mental health conditions are in good company! Think about all the people who made unbelievable contributions to the world who also struggled with mental health conditions! (Lincoln, Beethoven, Mozart, Tolstoy, Michelangelo... the lists goes on and on)

3. We all have weird minds.

Um... everyone's mind is a little wonky. No one is thinking about unicorns skipping on rainbows (while it rains candy) all day. People with mental health conditions are not super strange aliens from a far off galaxy. (We are more like super heroes from a far off galaxy) We all have problems and struggles in life. No one is perfect. No one has a unicorn mind all the time. 

4. I'm proud of how far I've coming and how I've helped/am helping others. 

It takes a lot of bravery to get help for a mental health condition and stick with treatment. It takes a lot strength to tell your story for the millionth time, advocate for yourself when your care is crappy, try a bunch of medicines until you find the right one (while the cray-cray list of side effects on the commercials plays in your mind) put up with everyone telling you what you should do to get better when they aren't qualified to do so, have your claims denied by rich insurance companies when you can't pay your bills, and be treated like a child and talked to in an odd condescending tone when you have a masters degree.

People say hope is right in front of you, but depression is a blindfold. It takes so much strength to keep searching in the dark. 

Recovery is sort of like making an huge collage. You are always looking, finding, and pasting things that help you. Your your own work of art, a constant project. It takes a lot of energy and willpower. It takes being bad-ass. I'm proud that I am speaking out (not an easy decision) and trying to help others. 

5.  My pain has become my power. 

I'm not ashamed of my pain. I think it's made me a more compassionate person. I think it's given me wisdom and inspiration. I believe pain can be like a question mark, asking us, "What will you do with me? Destruct or create?" It's energy we can transform and put to use. I believe that our struggle and pain softens when we use it to create, and then with our art/work/writing we are able to soften pain living in others.  It becomes our power. It becomes our flashlight to hand to others who are still tripping in the darkness like we once were. I believe when we break down and lose everything, often we rebuild a stronger, wiser, more beautiful version of ourselves. I believe pain can be an asset. High-five, illness! 

What are you proud of? I challenge you to #letshamego You have nothing to be ashamed of! You're amazing.

Friday, November 27, 2015

am liking this art piece....
Stranded Paris commuters ditched their headphones and got a live performance when a quirky train driver started belting out his own rendition of a Rihanna song.
When a train on line six of the Parisian subway stopped, the driver flicked on the intercom loudspeakers for an important announcement.

In the video, the 38-year-old driver known only as “Ramzi” starts to softly serenade the commuters with his version of Diamonds.
When the high-pitched verse kicks in, a person filming on their mobile phone breaks into laughter and at one point even joins in.

The other passengers are in fits of giggles as the driver helps brighten up their trip home.
Ramzi is well known by regular commuters for breaking into song during rush hour.
His dulcet tones started featuring on Parisians playlists when he was a bus driver caught in a traffic jam on Christmas Eve.

"We were stuck on l’avenue d’Italie because of the traffic. And to help the passengers relax, I began to sing," he said.
"Some years later, I became a metro driver on line 6. And once again, as chance would have it, since there was a problem on the line, I cheered up my passengers a bit by singing a few verses to them."

Read more at 9news.com.au
In the busy streets, shoppers and workers rush by the homeless little boy with a flute -- some dropping change, but most ignoring him.
Sitting on the sidewalk in Istanbul, Turkey, his head is barely above knee height of the adults around him. But he plays on -- for hours, knowing that each coin or note can help his family survive another day.
The flute is a cheap one, but it is key to their struggle. The money he makes -- usually about $10 a day -- will help feed his mom and four siblings.

The family escaped the horrors of war in Aleppo, Syria, and he says they now live in a park. He does not say which park or if they have a tent for shelter at night.

The boy says he has been in Turkey for about a year.
He plays falteringly and his young face looks innocent, but he knows the cruelty of war. He says his dad died in Aleppo, which has seen some of the fiercest fighting in Syria and is a rebel stronghold that President Bashar al-Assad's army has attacked.

The boy, who says he is 6, complains that his head hurts and talks of the guns back in Aleppo.
As he plays on, he is relying on the kindness of strangers and watching for police patrols, as begging on the streets is illegal.
When police do see him -- this time as he walks back to his makeshift home -- an officer confiscates his flute.
But he cannot be kept down. A new flute is $5 -- half is daily profit -- but if he is to play on, if he is to help feed his family, if they are to have some hope, it's a small expense.

And tomorrow, he will play again.

A little Syrian girl sells tissues on the streets of Turkey to help her family.
She was absolutely shaken when she sees a man in uniform (police) approaching her. 
So much that she grabs on to a passer by for dear life. 
Despite the officer's attempt to calm her down, she repeatedly begs to be let go and promises to not do it again, She makes the emphatic promise gesture used by some Arabs by kissing her own hand and placing her finger on her forehead, which is the practice of asking for forgiveness.

Taken from www.zeethiop.com.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Local TV series teen actor Tang Yi (汤昱) is believed to have committed suicide on Tuesday, 24 November due to stress after being unable to answer Additional Mathematic questions for his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).

The 17-year-old student told his teacher the he could not answer the questions so he requested to go home, but the teacher advised him to stay. He didn’t listen to the teacher and went home anyway,
When Tang Yi didn’t turn up for the second paper in the afternoon, the teacher became concerned and called the boy’s mother who then called the aunt and asked her to check up on him.
The aunt then found out that Tang Yi had committed suicide with his necktie, which was wrapped around his neck and was tied to a window frame in his room at Taman Jinjang.

Tang Yi has acted in several local Chinese-language TV series including the Malaysian version of “Justice Bao Jr” (少年包青天) where he played the role of Zhao Hu (赵虎).
He has been described as a “bright student” by his teachers, and had previously obtained all As on his PMR (Penilaian Menengah Rendah) and 9As 1B for his SPM trial exam.

However, Tang Yi confessed to his family that he is frustrated that he couldn’t get all As for his SPM trial. Thus, it is believed that the huge exam pressure had caused the young actor to take his own life.

Taken fromwww.thehive.asia

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

I've got work to do but I really must type this down before I lose any of its inspiration.
My boss, the historian-author, took me and another staff out for lunch with her family.
Their family lineage is somewhat elite, hence communication was somewhat classy too.
You know, where the spoken English is the type you can put into writing.
It's like having a meal with modern day Malaysian Crawley family of Downton Abbey.

I really love the way her family interacted with each other.
So... harmoniously.
Yes, of course people tend to behave differently when there are outsiders, but some gestures of affection just can't be acted out.
Like all families, there were some quirks, disagreements and idiosyncrasies.
But they evaporated very quickly because their love and respect for each other was more potent.
And the children.
Wow, they exude confidence, spoke so eloquently and yet so patient and gentle with their grandma.
Epitome of an educated Asian family.

With my contrary upbringing, to witness this is so...precious.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

My birthday.
A friend asked, "How are you celebrating?"
I answered, "At this age, ain't much of a celebration."

When I was little, I had always looked forward to this date.
Because I had always believed it was my special day.
That special and better things were on my way.
And most amazingly, I had believed that I was deserving of them.
A feeling that was so long ago, so distantly far away.
Another fairy tale story that I used to believe in my childhood.

Today, I bought myself a set of colour pencils as my birthday gift.
To remind myself of my childhood imaginations.
Perhaps, I would learn to believe in them again.
By Arthur Chatora 
Haben Girma was born deaf-blind but she had access to opportunities afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Girma is Harvard Law School’s first deaf-blind graduate and her academic achievements have catapulted her advocacy career, fighting for the rights of people with disabilities

Using a digital device that displays Braille characters, Haben Girma talks with President Obama at a White House ceremony marking the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Her success has been shared and appreciated by many including her grandmother back in Eritrea. During her introductory remarks at the White House, Girma noted that in Eritrea, “there was simply no chance,” for deaf-blind children to go to school.  Her grandmother had difficulties finding a school in Eritrea for Haben’s older brother, also born deaf-blind.

Girma’s family moved to the United States, where Haben was born deaf-blind but she had access to opportunities afforded by the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The 27 year-old has achieved a lot despite her disability, “For my grandmother back in Africa, my success in law school seemed like magic,” she says.
Her academic achievements, a “J.D. in 2013 from Harvard, and her B.A., magna cum laude, in 2010 from Lewis & Clark College” have indeed catapulted her advocacy career which have seen her fighting for the rights of people with disabilities.

The Eritrean-American was born in California after her mother escaped Eritrea in the early 1980s. Today, Girma is a successful attorney who advocates for civil rights of people with disabilities, reported the Diplomat News Network. She says that she is proof that if you believe that you can achieve a goal, then you will.

Monday, November 23, 2015

There was a very haughty middle-aged man asking me many peculiar questions.
I thought he was rude.
After his purchase, as he walked away he said, "Sorry if I made you uncomfortable. I'm sick."
I didn't say anything but smiled.
I wondered...

Sunday, November 22, 2015

My friend Mn came to visit.
My room is too small to accommodate her, so she had to put up in a homestay and invited me to spend the night with her before she proceed to her next stop.

It was very good to see her.
She brought me my pre-birthday present.
The present suits me so much that I will write another post about it.

She was among the many who supported my decision to move here.
"You have been here for over a year, you've done it'', she smiled approvingly.
I smiled back sheepishly.
"I'm on my way...I may not be there yet, but I know at least I'm no longer heading the wrong direction. I'm walking a path with big potential."

"Yes, you are."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A young child's struggle to understand the violence wrought by terrorists in Paris — and his father's teaching that humanity prevails — is shining light into a world overcome by grief and fear in the days since 129 were killed and 352 wounded in France's capital city.
The exchange, captured on camera by French media outlet Le Petit Journal, unfolded amid a growing memorial outside the Bataclan, where 89 people were massacred while attending a rock concert Friday night.

"Do you understand what happened?" the television reporter asks a small boy propped on his father's knee, in French.
Yes, the boy says, he does.
"They're really, really mean. Bad guys are not very nice."
The child says he fears his family now will have to "change houses" and flee, but his father reassures him they won't have to move.
"France is our home," he explains.
"But Daddy," the boy persists, "there's bad guys."
His father, softly, tells him "there's bad guys everywhere."
"They might have guns, but we have flowers," he says.
Flowers — the boy furrows his brow, confused. "But flowers don't do anything..."
"Of course they do," his father explains. "Look, everyone is putting flowers. It's to fight against guns."
"To protect?" the boy asks.
"Exactly," his father says.
"And the candles too?"
"It's to remember the people who are gone yesterday."
The father's words seem to bring comfort. His son smiles and looks toward the Bataclan memorial, where mourners gather to remember.
He turns back to the reporter.
"The flowers and the candles are here to protect us," he asserts.

The reporter, now a quiet observer, asks the boy if he feels better.
Yes, he says, he does.
Taken from www.nbcnewyork.com

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

On preface of The Garden of Evening Mists book,

“There is a goddess of Memory, Mnemosyne; but none of Forgetting.
Yet there should be, as they are twin sisters, twin powers, and walk on either side of us, disputing for sovereignty over us and who we are, all the way until death.”
― Richard Holmes

Monday, November 16, 2015

Emotional Hygiene

Below is the excerpt from the TED presentation by Guy Winch
I recently was at a friend's house, and their five-year-old was getting ready for bed. He was standing on a stool by the sink brushing his teeth, when he slipped, and scratched his leg on the stool when he fell. He cried for a minute, but then he got back up, got back on the stool, and reached out for a box of Band-Aids to put one on his cut.
 Now, this kid could barely tie his shoelaces, but he knew you have to cover a cut, so it doesn't become infected, and you have to care for your teeth by brushing twice a day. We all know how to maintain our physical health and how to practice dental hygiene, right? We've known it since we were five years old. But what do we know about maintaining our psychological health? Well, nothing. What do we teach our children about emotional hygiene? Nothing. How is it that we spend more time taking care of our teeth than we do our minds. Why is it that our physical health is so much more important to us than our psychological health?
We sustain psychological injuries even more often than we do physical ones, injuries like failure or rejection or loneliness. And they can also get worse if we ignore them, and they can impact our lives in dramatic ways. And yet, even though there are scientifically proven techniques we could use to treat these kinds of psychological injuries, we don't. It doesn't even occur to us that we should. "Oh, you're feeling depressed? Just shake it off; it's all in your head."Can you imagine saying that to somebody with a broken leg: "Oh, just walk it off; it's all in your leg." It is time we closed the gap between our physical and our psychological health.
Our mind is hard to change once we become convinced. So it might be very natural to feel demoralized and defeated after you fail. But you cannot allow yourself to become convinced you can't succeed. You have to fight feelings of helplessness. You have to gain control over the situation. And you have to break this kind of negative cycle before it begins.
 Our minds and our feelings, they're not the trustworthy friends we thought they were. They are more like a really moody friend, who can be totally supportive one minute, and really unpleasant the next. I once worked with this woman who after 20 years marriage and an extremely ugly divorce, was finally ready for her first date. She had met this guy online, and he seemed nice and he seemed successful, and most importantly, he seemed really into her. So she was very excited, she bought a new dress, and they met at an upscale New York City bar for a drink. Ten minutes into the date, the man stands up and says, "I'm not interested," and walks out.
Rejection is extremely painful. The woman was so hurt she couldn't move. All she could do was call a friend. Here's what the friend said: "Well, what do you expect? You have big hips, you have nothing interesting to say, why would a handsome, successful man like that ever go out with a loser like you?"
Shocking, right, that a friend could be so cruel? But it would be much less shocking if I told you it wasn't the friend who said that. It's what the woman said to herself. And that's something we all do, especially after a rejection. We all start thinking of all our faults and all our shortcomings, what we wish we were, what we wish we weren't, we call ourselves names. Maybe not as harshly, but we all do it. And it's interesting that we do, because our self-esteem is already hurting. Why would we want to go and damage it even further? We wouldn't make a physical injury worse on purpose. You wouldn't get a cut on your arm and decide, "Oh, I know! I'm going to take a knife and see how much deeper I can make it.
But we do that with psychological injuries all the time. Why? Because of poor emotional hygiene. Because we don't prioritize our psychological health. We know from dozens of studies that when your self-esteem is lower, you are more vulnerable to stress and to anxiety, that failures and rejections hurt more and it takes longer to recover from them. So when you get rejected, the first thing you should be doing is to revive your self-esteem, not join Fight Club and beat it into a pulp. When you're in emotional pain, treat yourself with the same compassion you would expect from a truly good friend. We have to catch our unhealthy psychological habits and change them.
One of unhealthiest and most common is called rumination. To ruminate means to chew over. It's when your boss yells at you, or your professor makes you feel stupid in class, or you have big fight with a friend and you just can't stop replaying the scene in your head for days, sometimes for weeks on end. Ruminating about upsetting events in this way can easily become a habit, and it's a very costly one. Because by spending so much time focused on upsetting and negative thoughts, you are actually putting yourself at significant risk for developing clinical depression, alcoholism, eating disorders, and even cardiovascular disease.
By taking action when you're lonely, by changing your responses to failure, by protecting your self-esteem, by battling negative thinking, you won't just heal your psychological wounds, you will build emotional resilience, you will thrive. A hundred years ago, people began practicing personal hygiene, and life expectancy rates rose by over 50 percent in just a matter of decades. I believe our quality of life could rise just as dramatically if we all began practicing emotional hygiene.

Can you imagine what the world would be like if everyone was psychologically healthier? If there were less loneliness and less depression? If people knew how to overcome failure? If they felt better about themselves and more empowered? If they were happier and more fulfilled? I can, because that's the world I want to live in, and that's the world my brother wants to live in as well. And if you just become informed and change a few simple habits, well, that's the world we can all live in.

Friday, November 13, 2015

I love this game called , "The Werewolves".
On the Diwali holiday, I played this with my church friends and I got the 'Guard' card.
My role was to choose a person to protect each night round.
My choice is purely random as I wouldn't know who is chosen victim by the Werewolves.

First night, I protected myself.
When day time came, true enough no one died.
Second night, I protected the lady who is known to have the strongest intuition in this game.
Her intuition is so accurate that she always 'killed' first by the werewolves every time we play.

As the game continued, I kept 'guarding' people whom I thought to have power cards, or 'stronger' players.
I mistakenly neglected the villagers.
It is very silly of me because we can only win if the villagers outlive the werewolves.
Players with power cards, - witch, prophet, guard, cupid, elder don't count.
However, power card players have better chances in identifying the werewolves.

I had busied myself strategising that many of the villagers in the game had been killed by the werewolves.
Thankfully, there was one villager left before we finally snuffed out the last remaining werewolf.
When the game ended, I reflected on myself.
I held on to my biased opinion too strongly, and had talked too much.
I became emotional when people didn't agree with me.
I didn't listen and observe.

Had I been more still, I would have picked up more clues and detected more lies.
So metaphorically applying this to my life, I focus so much trying to figure things out, that I neglect the simplest and most important aspect.

I need to
Be Still.

Monday, November 09, 2015

I am insecure.
Very insecure.
I seek validation all the time.
There is an elder in church whom I respect very much.
Her opinion means a lot to me.
But my perception of her is changing.

Case One.
Someone was sharing a story about a youth who ran away from home.
Before we could even get to the details of her family, the elder quickly pointed out,
"The girl must be problematic."
I was stunned.
She didn't even consider a possibility of abuse?

Case Two.
During a sharing, she said,
"You know why the patients at the mental ward can't stop moving about? It is the sin that is making them restless."
My facial expression was enough for her intuitive husband to signal her not to continue with that opinion.

It is time I trust myself.
It is time I validate myself.

Thursday, November 05, 2015

4 days after my interview, blood-red fingernailed HR lady called me.
I was required to go for a pre-employment medical check up.
This is good news.
It isn't a job offer, but it certainly sounds promising enough.

As I walked into the doctor's room, I had a sudden prompting.
I wanted to tell the truth.
And so I did.

Unsurprisingly, HR lady called the next day.
I was to give a detailed doctor's report.
Off I went to the hospital to see the psychiatrist.
I was very lucky to see two conscientious doctors.
The first, gave me a number (one can't see a doctor without prior appointment),
the second, advocated for me to his superior that he can write a note that states my current stable state.
Though he couldn't convince his superior to turn a blind eye from the tiresome bureaucratic wait of 1-2 months for the official letter, I am very grateful to him.

What's left to do?
I wrote a letter attaching all supportive documents to prove my efforts to the HR.
2 days later, she called to ask me to go back to the initial doctor whom I went to for the pre-employment check up.
" I think they don't know what to do, so they just pass the bucket to me," said the sympathetic doctor.
In the end, he called the HR and wrote me a note to pass to them.
I don't know what had transpired nor what he wrote.

During this entire journey, I have been asking myself, "What am I doing?"
"Do I really want this?"
"Why did I tell the truth, when the stigma is still so strong?"

When I sat at the doctor's bench waiting, I prayed.
"Dear Lord, I don't know what I want. I don't know what I can handle.
I ask that I face whatever that presented to me with serenity.
I ask for nothing else.
Serenity is my only greatest wish."

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Chong Sing Woh probably swears by the oft-said adage, 'Seek Knowledge from the Cradle to the Grave'.
Otherwise, how else can one explain his dogged determination to sit for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination for the sixth time - after five failed attempts earlier.

Chong is a retiree from the private sector and is 60 years of age. He is among 2,667 private candidates sitting for the SPM this year.

"I want to prove to people my age that it is not a barrier for an individual to succeed and cross the many hurdles in life," he told reporters after finishing the Bahasa Melayu 1 paper at the Secondary School (SMK) Seri Ampang here Monday.

“If possible, I want to keep going until I am no longer able," he said. He also said that he "studied for knowledge" and wants "to improve" himself and "serve the country and its people"
He said he used to revise his lessons for two hours every day and intended to pursue a diploma in sports science.

"If I fail in this attempt, too, I will try again next year...until I pass," said the father of a teenager.

Chong has taken the subjects, Bahasa Melayu, English, Moral Education, Science, Mathematics and History.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

On my first week of work, my ex-colleagues came by to say hi at the bookstore, I was really touched.
I was feeling a bit awkward at that time because I was surprised by this kind gesture.
I think my eyes reddened a bit when I waved goodbye because I thought our relationship was mundanely professional and I had never expected such sentimental and thoughtful gesture by them.
I think they might have detected my eyes.

A few weeks later, they came again.
This time, I was already used to their gestures hence, atmosphere was more jovial.
When we said our goodbyes, one of them hugged me and encouraged me with the common Chinese phrase,
"Jiayou 加油"
This time, it was her eyes which had reddened.

I meant to write this post right after the incident with the classy bookstore owner. (The bookstore being classy, not the owner)
These incidents made me wonder, is my current position so depressing that people feel sorry for me?
Perhaps from an outsider's perspective.

What I know now is, the darkness hasn't visited me since I've worked here.
Not once.
Occasionally faint shadows, but that has always been around.
Believe me, that is pure bliss.
I was granted a job interview last month, for the Reporter post in the nation's leading English paper.
When I was preparing myself for the appointment, I can't help but be reminded that I'm 10 years late.
Had things been normal for me, I would have gone for a similar interview,...10 years ago.
Before I sunk deeper into self-pity, I got physically ill just a day before interview.
I suspected it was food-poisoning, with Dengue-fever like symptoms.
I called and email-ed and even forwarded a notice from my doctor.
When I didn't receive any reply, I thought that the door was closed on me.
Although I wasn't harping too much hope on the job, I can't help but feel disappointed that I had missed out such an important appointment.

3 days ago, the HR emailed me, informing me about a slot available as their MD wish to meet me.
Immediately I agreed.
And immediately I questioned myself, "What am I doing? Am I up for it? How can I hold a stressful job of a reporter? I need to sleep on time everyday as part of my self-care. But I need a job with more income..etc.."
After a series of shit happening, good news seem so unfamiliar.
I tried not to think about it.
Not thinking also meant that I didn't prepare for it.

The interview was yesterday.
The HR manager was really unfriendly.
Her blood-red long fingernails alone were intimidating enough.
She questioned my incomplete and not updated application.
Big companies are very thoroughly detail-oriented, of course.
Yikes, she's right. What am I doing?
Am I self-sabotaging again?

So, I entered the room for my 3.5 hours exam.
It was a very nostalgic experience.
It has been more than 10 years since I've taken exams that exceeded 2 hours.
The format of the exam is very similar to the ones during my Sixth Form.

I scored above average , y'all !!
I can't remember the last time when I had been associated with anything 'above average' !
I'm so happy !

I shared the news with my old colleagues.
They're happy for me, but also like myself, wondered how am I going to cope with the lifestyle.
Honestly, my self-sabatoging negative self hopes that the HR don't contact me anymore.

Let my story being interviewed for a job at the paper end here.
Let my story end with me scoring well on the test-paper.
Above average well.
The end.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

This quote is amazing,

"The old world is dying; the new world struggles to be born,
 and during this *chiaroscuro, merge monsters." 
Antonio Gramsci

*an effect of contrasted light and shadow created by light falling unevenly or from a particular direction on something

taken from Malacca Style by Tham Ze Hoe and Serge Jardin

Simon Sturdee| Agence France Presse
VIENNA: It’s miserable and raining outside as a few hundred tired migrants mill around a damp underpass at Vienna’s main train station waiting to continue their long journey to northern Europe.
Suddenly, a man wearing a red nose, tartan plus-fours and a brown leather aviator’s cap enters, leading a noisy procession of three clowns – all with a silly but also serious mission.

They are from “Red Noses Emergency Smile Austria,” a project using 66 clowns to spread some cheer among the thousands of migrants still arriving Austria daily, particularly the children.
“You don’t need to know the language, you just laugh and you feel a connection,” Simone Mang, a spokeswoman for the organizers, told AFP.

“Children need to have a little time to themselves, and play and laugh and forget about the circumstances,” she said.
At first there is a stunned silence as the clowns – professional actors who underwent special training – stomp in, playing an accordion and rattling tambourines.

But as the trio engage in a slapstick routine, the ice breaks. Laughter, clapping and cheering erupts as people gather round, carrying children on their shoulders and filming the scene on their phones.
Then there is a dancing session just for the children, who are given tambourines, ribbons and little pots of bubble-blowing solution.
Afterward they are led away, giggling, to a special play room where they can draw, paint and interact with the clowns.

“They are happy, at least we find peace,” said Hossam, a Palestinian, as he watched his four young children play, blowing bubbles and leaping onto a blue crash mat.
“I escaped from my country for them ... For their future, to have good education, to have a good life, if God is willing.”
“The [reaction] is amazing. So many eyes, so many beautiful eyes. Such beautiful colors, so clear and so direct,” one of the clowns, Marie Miklau, 37, told AFP.

“But at the same time we had very sensitive moments to look behind the party to see the more silent people, the humans inside. You see also the journey they had, and also the suffering,” she said.
The project came from Red Nose Clowndoctors, a charity sending clowns into Austrian hospitals to cheer up patients since 1994 and now active in 10 countries.
It is part of an immense voluntary effort that has sprung up since migrants began flooding into Austria in large numbers in September – mostly on their way elsewhere – and who keep coming every day.

“Train of Hope,” for example, a private initiative coordinating the volunteer effort, has 3,500 helpers who have put in a total of 300,000 man-hours in the past five weeks, its spokesman Benjamin Fritz told AFP on a tour.
“It began with a couple of tables and some bottles of water,” the 26-year-old explains on a tour of tents and containers around the back of the station, a hive of activity. “Now it’s like a small town.”

Organized largely on social media, the initiative provides everything from hot food and medical help – they even have an electrocardiogram machine with doctors on hand – to clothing and hygiene articles.There are also interpreters, psychologists and a missing persons point that posts pictures on Facebook and shares information with other organizations abroad.

The project has been so successful that organizers have asked people to stop donating certain items such as crayons for kids, toilet paper, tampons and even wheelchairs.
They still need many things, however, like formula milk, cereal bars and razors. And with winter fast approaching, the Facebook page now calls for warm coats, thick socks, hats and gloves.

More and more of the new arrivals are becoming sick because of the weather. And at the same time, there has been a noticeable drop in donations and volunteer numbers, Fritz said.
“If it snowed tomorrow, then we would clearly have a problem. But we have had countless problems every day over the past five weeks and we solved them. We will manage somehow,” he said.

“We will keep doing this until there are no more migrants here.”

Thursday, October 22, 2015

"... I have found the real me," said Elyas Yunoos, the barber.

“My squatter friends and children never asked for anything. I love these people, both here and in London, who ask for so little – to be allowed to squat or sit in a small space since they have nowhere else to go,”  -Nirmala Dutt
If you are willing to look at another person’s behavior toward you
as a reflection of the state of their relationship with themselves
rather than a statement about your value as a person,
then you will, over a period of time cease to react at all."
~ Yogi Bhajan

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

from Streets of George Town Penang by Khoo Su Nin,

"Penang was much more than a port. The colony which Light created offered a liberal haven where each settler could establish the foundation for the next generations. This was true for the Malays escaping the Siamese in Kedah, the Eurasians fleeing religious persecution in South Thailand, the Chinese rejecting Manchu oppression to make their fortunes in the Nanyang and the South Indian leaving behind poverty and strife in the subcontinent."

When I read the above, I fervently hope Penang can liberate me while I am on her soil.
And this is funny.

"If spiritualism can be so easily traded for crass commercialism, under the watchful eyes of enlightened buddhas, then human beings are pretty much in the same predicament as the tortoises in the Kek Lok Si's 'liberation pond'."
I've been thinking about the incident where I was disturbed with the word 'desperate' being used on me.
More often than not, people say mean things to me.
So why am I only uncomfortable with it now?

I am all too familiar with this word.
It's a situation I often found myself in.

I can only conclude that I was irked that such educated owner of a classy bookstore speaks like that.
He spoiled the whole fairytale fantasy of all things literary.

I left KL for Penang because I was desperate.
I am now in this bookstore because I have relented.
I have to manage this illness.
What's next, teasips?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Look what I found Gombang reading at his security booth?
I'm so ... impressed ! And humbled !
He is studying English.
The medium of instruction is Nepalese and I had just learnt that Nepalese and Hindi shares similar foundation.
That's why he can communicate with the locals in Hindi.

Come on Teasips !
Learn something already !
Love this artwork by bibichun.
Title : Never liked chess anyway.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Homeless Artist Was So Talented That They Gave Her A Solo Exhibit- And it sold out.

Taken from http://www.abs-cbnnews.com
MANILA - All was lost for Jhalanie Matuan who ended up alone and unnoticed, begging on the streets of the metro, digging up piles of trash for food or anything of value.
Jhalanie dug hard -- day after day, night after night, garbage after garbage, until she found used pencils and coloring materials, and then herself.
Those pencils and coloring materials, worthless for those who used to own them, reminded her of a dream she once dreamed back when she was young and hopeful, years before all the misfortune rained upon her like an angry monsoon downpour -- a dream of holding her own simple art exhibit.

Like all broken dreams on the verge of reconstruction, it was all sketchy at first for Jhalanie, especially on the weary metro streets she once referred to as "bagsik ng Maynila."
But stroke by careful stroke, she drew and painted -- improvised -- with all the materials she'd pick up on trash.
Until the dream came into form, little by little, and people began to notice.

Back in April, Mae Katibog was so moved by a street artist in Manila, the capital of the Phillipines, that she had to make a Facebook post about it. "I had a rare encounter with this incredible artist along Buendia Avenue," she wrote.
##Today, I had a rare encounter with this incredible artist along Buendia Avenue. 
I have actually been noticing her for a week now, it's just that I am always in a hurry every morning that I couldn't get a chance to stop and see for myself what she's doing. 
Last week I promised my self that I will go early in the morning to stop by her. 
However two consecutive mornings I didn't see her on the same spot and I was sort of disappointed on myself. 
This afternoon though on my way home, I saw her and without second thoughts decided to stop. She really is incredible, I sat beside her and just looked on while she sketches. 
Shortly, two foreigners (Indonesian tourists, Zee and Derran) stopped by and curiously looked on like me. We all just sat by in awe and silence. 
Some while more and people started to crowd in. I said to her, I am buying the one she's sketching, only to find out the Indonesians wanted it too (lucky me I asked first haha!).
 They just asked me to tell her to make two more of the same so they can buy also. She sells her works for Php50.00 each. I had an urge to pay more (especially that according to her poster she is raising funds for her kidney problems). 
However, I also did not want to ruin the dignity she puts on her works (which by the way conceptually and visually are incredible). She can't speak, she only writes what she wants to say. One of my choices (An image of a nude woman on a dirty sidewalk) she said won her an award in Macau, she also said that she has had many awards for her works. This of course, I cannot verify but I told the same to my new-found Indonesian friends. 
It was actually funny how our conversation has gone. Ate will write, I will translate for Zee in English and she will translate in Bahasa for Derran. Anyway, her works exude deep meanings and one can draw out many interpretations. I am glad I stopped by. I brought home with me two incredible works by this wise woman on the streets. 
Poignant and respectable. She doesn't beg. She draws what she sees - both by the naked and the eyes within. She is Jhalanie Matuan (as how she wrote on paper). ##
And now, as if all the universe conspired with her, the dream is finally a few days away from actuality.
"It's happening!" artist Coco Torre announced on his Facebook account, talking about Jhalanie's solo art exhibit happening Friday, August 28, at A Space Manila gallery in Makati.

After chasing her down on the street, Torre asked her if she'd be interested in holding an exhibit at A Space Manila gallery. "Jhalanie was the happiest human being at that moment," the local news said.
But that wasn't everything the art gallery had in store.
Firstly, Matuan would be getting 100 percent of the proceeds made off the exhibit. For a woman living on the streets, that was great news. But even better was what the art gallery announced just hours ago on their Facebook page.
Not only did Matuan's 31 pieces sell out, people waited in long lines simply to converse with the artist herself.
Surely, this day will be one that Jhalanie never forgets, and hopefully, it is just the beginning of a long career for her as a paid artist.

Monday, October 12, 2015

I went to a public talk.
I am still feeling quite smitten over the Academician-Lawyer-Activist speaker.

His books were on sale.
I bumped into the bookstore owner who had organized the talk.
I have never liked him.
His personality is too flamboyant and pungent for my nerves.
I don't think I'm in his good books either.
He had this to say when he found out that I'm working in another bookstore.
"If you were that desperate, you should have come to work for me !"

Coming from a former academician in Political Science and a current active editor, and a classy bookstore owner, I would have expected more elegance in the choice of words.
Sarcasm, insensitivity, I can take.
I guess I had an unrealistic view of a local bookstore owner.

The bookstore however, IS very classy.
I absolutely love it.
It really does have a personality.
Good thing it wasn't the owner's.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Saturday, October 03, 2015

I went to the Big Bad Wolf warehouse sale.
Saw a lot of books.
Some books which I have read.
They reminded me of my past

My memory has deteriorated since my treatment.
I can't differentiate between a memory or a dream.
It's so unreachably faraway.

As I browsed the titles, shadow pieces of memory drew a picture in my head.
A little picture of my past.
A glimpse of who I was.
A silhouette of my old thoughts and ambitions.
A whisper of my own unadulterated voice.

A soft but determined voice that says

"I am still here."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Gombang is one of the two Nepalese security guards in the building.
I often hear his name being summoned loudly.
He would respond quickly, "Yes, sir!" and run to the direction of the voice immediately.
I have always admired Gombang for his enthusiasm at work.

I had always wondered who his superior was.
Who is this person who would feel so comfortable giving commands like that?
Today, I found out.
He is merely his colleague, judging from their identical uniform.
Today, I saw this security guard who suffers from delusional superiority complex, commanding Gombang to carry heavy items under the sun, while he just observe.
And Gombang did as instructed dutifully.

It was easy to see that this deluded security guard was bullying him.
I don't see him acting superior with any other guards.
Perhaps, he thought that nationality plays a hierarchal value.

In my books, Gombang is far more superior that him, in ways that he can't even begin to gauge.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

“I’m a rare book librarian. I get to touch books every single day. 
 My colleague and I have a joke that we are Defenders of Wonder. 
 A physical book assigns a sense of reverence to the content inside. 
 It’s the same feeling you get when you look at a painting or hear a piece of music. And I think that’s something worth defending.
  And just like a book gives reverence to its content, I think the library gives reverence to books. The building itself is a masterpiece. 
 So many famous thinkers have come here to study and write. Just being here connects you to that lineage.”

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Taken from Lockdream

Me : I was expecting a spectrum of feelings to be exhibited, but I guess the artist only wanted to concentrate on joy. Is it weird that I was looking for darker emotions?
Lj : Ah, some thoughts to ponder !
Me : Well, I must say I was disappointed.
Lj : As the title goes, 'believe in what you feel'.
Me : Haha

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Believe in what you feel - Wang Te-Yu

"Different people react to my works in different ways.Once you go inside, you can feel the spaces shifting as you interact with them.
It helps one understand the essence of space via manipulation of air,” - Wang Te-yu.