Monday, April 27, 2015

Dr. Alice Howland:
Good morning. It's an honor to be here.
The poet Elizabeth Bishoponce wrote: 'the Art of Losing isn't hard to master: so many things seem filled with the intent to be lost that their loss is no disaster.' 
I'm not a poet, I am a person living with Early Onset Alzheimer's, and as that person I find myself learning the art of losing every day.
Losing my bearings, losing objects, losing sleep, but mostly losing memories...

All my life I've accumulated memories - they've become, in a way, my most precious possessions. The night I met my husband, the first time I held my textbook in my hands. Having children, making friends, traveling the world. 
Everything I accumulated in life, everything I've worked so hard for - now all that is being ripped away. As you can imagine, or as you know, this is hell. But it gets worse. 
Who can take us seriously when we are so far from who we once were? 
Our strange behavior and fumbled sentences change other's perception of us and our perception of ourselves. We become ridiculous, incapable, comic. 
But this is not who we are, this is our disease. And like any disease it has a cause, it has a progression, and it could have a cure. 
My greatest wish is that my children, our children - the next generation - do not have to face what I am facing. 
But for the time being, I'm still alive. I know I'm alive. I have people I love dearly. I have things I want to do with my life. I rail against myself for not being able to remember things - but I still have moments in the day of pure happiness and joy. 
And please do not think that I am suffering. I am not suffering. I am struggling. Struggling to be part of things, to stay connected to whom I was once. 
So, 'live in the moment' I tell myself. It's really all I can do, live in the moment. And not beat myself up too much... and not beat myself up too much for mastering the art of losing. 
One thing I will try to hold onto though is the memory of speaking here today. It will go, I know it will. It may be gone by tomorrow. 
But it means so much to be talking here, today, like my old ambitious self who was so fascinated by communication. Thank you for this opportunity. It means the world to me. Thank you.
GEORGE TOWN: While many would indulge themselves on their birthdays, Sukhveer Kaur chose to celebrate her 50th birthday in the streets with the homeless, trishaw riders and passers-by.

Sukhveer and her husband Daljit Singh, who are both cancer survivors, threw a simple yet meaningful tea party in Penang Road on Thursday, the day she turned 50.

Although the weather was quite gloomy after heavy rain, some 60 people from around the area turned up for the party.

Sukhveer, who is a motivational speaker as well as a volunteer at various charitable bodies, treated guests to cakes and drinks.

“I spent my day in the simplest way. I had a simple lunch with my husband and received birthday wishes from my nephews and nieces. The highlight of my day is this meaningful birthday tea party,” she said at the event.

“I always wanted this birthday to be unique. As I like diving and parasailing, I earlier thought of giving myself such a treat.

“But after deeper thought, I didn’t want my birthday to be spent on an expensive meal or to be exclusive. I’d rather have it with the marginalised group,” she said.

“I know many of them (the homeless and trishaw riders) have not celebrated their birthdays for years. I asked them along for the cake-cutting because this is not only my birthday party but theirs as well,” said Sukhveer.

As a cancer survivor who had her stomach removed about seven years ago, Sukhveer treasures every moment of her life. Her husband, Daljit, is also a cancer survivor who had his left kidney removed three years ago.

“Fifty years of life is a blessing to me and I would love to contribute more to the community, especially those living in poverty, and terminally-ill children.”

Friday, April 24, 2015

Because I made it to the door, I get to...

For the 60-something Teng Jiazhi, as for many of us, his first selfie was the most memorable. Teng told the Shenyang Evening News that it was a freezing cold day in China's northeastern Liaoning Province more than 10 years ago. He picked up a couple that had been standing on the side of the road shivering for over an hour. They were so grateful that they offered to pay him some extra money. He refused, so they opted for a souvenir photo with them instead.

Teng says he was inspired by that encounter and in 2011 he set up a camera in his cab to take pictures together with his customers and help to brighten up their day. On average he picks up eighty passengers a day and around twenty of them agree to snap a selfie with him (Why would you ever turn him down?). In four years, he has built up a collection of 30,000 selfies with thousands of smiling passengers.

Later, he posts the selfies onto his Weibo account, where he has gained more than 100,000 followers. It's the perfect place for those looking for some pure positive energy in a sea of snark. His fans lovingly call him "Uncle Teng" or "Brother Smile." He adds captions to his selfies like "a smile is the best language in the world." It's literally nothing but smiles.

"I try my best to help my passengers with their troubles. All it takes is just a little chat, song or joke to make them happy again."
He recalls one instance when an young women looking rather upset got in his taxi and refused his selfie request. To see what was wrong, he started talking to her. "I found out that she had just had a big fight with her mom, so I sang her an old song about how mothers always can't help but worry." Teng remembered. "She started crying when I finished my song and immediately called her mom to tell her she was sorry."
Of course, she also then agreed to take a smiling selfie with Uncle Teng. This man is a miracle worker.

Taken entirely from Shanghaiist

Monday, April 20, 2015

"Feeling sad is part of life. Feelings come and go.
They are a result of the way you view the various situations in your life.
Problems come and go, too.
Life is all about overcoming adversities, and emerging stronger.
It will take a while, but it will work out."

excerpts from a newspaper advice column, Dear Thelma.
 In 1985, Huang Funeng suffered a serious eye disease which gradually made him totally blind. Since then, his loving wife has guided his every move, leading him through life with a bamboo rod, in spite of her own physical affliction, osteoporosis, which causes her hunched posture.
The couple never had children, but managed to still find joy in each other's company for 55 years as they lived a simple existence farming chickens and ducks.

Taken entirely from
CNN : Middle school student Vidal Chastanet was simply stating his truth about the school principal who inspires him in his rough Brooklyn neighborhood.

Featured in the wildly popular "Humans of New York" photo series in January, a picture of Chastanet along with his sentiments went viral, and a subsequent fundraiser pulled in more than $1 million for his school.

That's how Chastanet, 13, ended up at the White House on Thursday.

The young man; his inspirational principal, Nadia Lopez; and "Humans of New York" creator Brandon Stanton all got the chance to meet Obama. (That's Chastanet in Obama's seat in the Oval Office.)

"You don't do things alone," Obama told Chastanet, according to Stanton's blog. "Nobody does things alone. Everybody always needs support.

"For a young man like you, you should never be too afraid or too shy to look for people who can encourage you or mentor you," Obama said. "There are a lot of people out there who want to provide advice and support to people who are trying to do the right thing. So you'll have a lot of people helping you. Just always remember to be open to help. Never think that you know everything. And always be ready to listen."

 "Who's influenced you the most in your life?"
"My principal, Ms. Lopez."
"How has she influenced you?"
"When we get in trouble, she doesn't suspend us. She calls us to her office and explains to us how society was built down around us. And she tells us that each time somebody fails out of school, a new jail cell gets built. And one time she made every student stand up, one at a time, and she told each one of us that we matter."
"This is a neighborhood that doesn't necessarily expect much from our children, so at Mott Hall Bridges Academy we set our expectations very high. We don't call the children 'students,' we call them 'scholars.' Our color is purple. Our scholars wear purple, and so do our staff," Lopez told Stanton, who featured her picture on "Humans of New York."

"Because purple is the color of royalty. I want my scholars to know that even if they live in a housing project, they are part of a royal lineage going back to great African kings and queens. They belong to a group of individuals who invented astronomy and math. And they belong to a group of individuals who have endured so much history and still overcome. When you tell people you're from Brownsville, their face cringes up. But there are children here that need to know that they are expected to succeed."

Friday, April 17, 2015

*In the consultation room with the psychiatrist. We are meeting for the first time.

"I don't feel 'anything' with this ___ medicine . Nor with ___ ."

She looked at me expressionless.
"What do you expect to 'feel' after taking the medication?"

I detected a scent of annoyance and arrogance.

I looked at her desperately.

"To feel like...

I inhaled.

 ...'not wanting to die'"

I explained to her my medication history. How some had worked and some didn't.
Luckily, she agreed to change my medication.
I'm very grateful that she was willing to try out a new prescription with me.
An unprecedented decision that has ever been made for me, since 2008.

A week has passed.
I'm feeling ... not wanting to die.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

"A fault-finding mind gives you work to do.
A grateful mind gives you peace."

~ Ajahn Brahm

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Currently on my playlist....

Ordinary Miracle - Sarah McLachlan
It's not that unusual
When everything is beautiful
It's just another ordinary miracle today

The sky knows when it's time to snow
Don't need to teach a seed to grow
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Life is like a gift they say
Wrapped up for you everyday
Open up and find a way
To give some of your own

Isn't it remarkable
Like every time a raindrop falls
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Birds in winter have their fling
Will always make it home by spring
It's just another ordinary miracle today

When you wake up everyday
Please don't throw your dreams away
Hold them close to your heart
'Cause we're all a part of the ordinary miracle

Ordinary miracle
Do you want to see a miracle?

It seems so exceptional
The things just work out after all
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Sun comes up and shines so bright
And disappears again at night
It's just another ordinary miracle today

Monday, April 13, 2015

Last Friday, it was raining cats and dogs.
I witnessed an amazing act of love.
An obese man was running without his shirt.
He was carrying a toddler whom he had covered with his own shirt to protect him from the rain.
Many eyes were upon him.
Mostly because a half-naked obese man is quite a sight.
I think he must have been quite conscious about it too.

Once the toddler was in the car, he wore the shirt back, albeit it wet.
There were many other ladies who were running behind them too.
They went into the car and drove off without the obese man.
I deduced that he isn't the father of that child.

It was a privilege to witness such selfless act of love.

Monday, April 06, 2015

I watched this Korean movie, Suicide Forecast despite feeling very sleepy.
Yup, it was the title which intrigued me.
Turned out to be 'not bad'.

Basically, my take away from watching this is...

"Shit happens, but instead of thinking ways to kill ourselves, let us focus on the solutions that are available."
"... life-affirming reminder that life is hard on so many,but if we hold on for just a little longer, we just might be okay."

"Hope is free anyway ! Why can't you try hoping?!" said the frustrated Byeong-Wu.

The ending ?
Everyone chose to live...
because I chose to live...

And to think I almost didn't make it to the door.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Harrowing: Taken at the Atmen refugee camp on Syria's border with Turkey, the image shows four-year-old Adi Hudea frozen in fear with her arms raised and her lips tightly pursed

This is the heartbreaking moment a four-year-old Syrian girl 'surrendered' to a photographer when she mistook the man's camera for a gun.
Taken at the Atmen refugee camp on Syria's border with Turkey last December, the image shows the young girl frozen in fear with her arms raised and her lips tightly pursed.
The child has been identified as Adi Hudea, whose father died in the 2012 Hama massacre and who has been living with her traumatised mother and three siblings at Camp Atmen ever since.

The image was taken by Turkish photojournalist Osman Sagirli but went viral earlier this week when it was shared on social media.
Palestine-based photojournalist Nadia Abu Shaban tweeted the image along with the caption: 'Thought he has a weapon not a camera so she gave up'.

Taken entirely from
On my way home from gym, I saw the old uncle again.
He gave a friendly smile.
"Hi, how are you doing ?" I asked in Hokkien, while glancing at the big towel I gave him which he used as blanket.
"Thank you, thank you" he answered.

I walked away with a bigger 'Thank you' in me.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

I dropped my hairpin.
I kneel ed down to look for it.
My colleague helped.
"Ah, it's ok. It's just some worthless old thing."
"No, don't say that. Everything is worth something" she said in her most soothing voice.

A very appropriate comment for a very depressed person.
I'm typing this at my work desk.
I almost didn't come to work today.

Today is Thursday.
I have been struggling every morning since Monday.
How am I going to make this work for me?
I skipped two days of gym this week because I was just too (emotionally?) tired after work.

I just don't see a way out of this.
I'm just so tired of this.

Meds, doctors, spirituality, exercise, friends, therapy, what have I not tried?
I'm so tired of myself.
The self-sabotaging thought that the "The world would be better off without me" keeps playing.
The fight has been going on too long.
I'm tired.