Sunday, January 18, 2009

The spot marked "X"

It was evening, around 7pm and all three of us were sitting in the living room, watching a Disney cartoon, The Lady and The Tramp on DVD. DH looked out of the window and saw this interesting cloud formation. It looked like a big “X”.

At first, we thought it was a natural creation as we didn’t hear any planes fly overhead. However, as you can see in the last photo at the bottom, there is a small plane in the air. Still, I think the shots that DH took were pretty cool.

So, how do I link these photos to what I’m about to write? Bear with me as I go on to tell you what happened to Osh Osh today.

After church and lunch, I was getting Osh Osh ready for his afternoon nap. He usually drinks a bottle of milk before he sleeps. I had some free milk samples which I decided to give Osh Osh a try since he’s been drinking the same type of milk formula ever since he was born.

He said he didn’t like it but he drank three quarters of it. We read some books together. In not more than 15 minutes since he drank the milk, he started to cough. It was quite a chesty cough and he couldn’t stop. Then, he kept rubbing his eyes as they were watery and itchy and they eventually swelled up. His nose was blocked with mucus too. What scared me the most was that he was coughing so much; it appeared he couldn’t breather properly.

DH was very calm and he listened to Osh Osh’s chest. Osh Osh is quite prone to allergic reactions but it’s normally triggered by dust. This is the first time it’s triggered by a liquid intake.

We gave him two dosage of his allergy medicine (thank God we have a bottle handy at home at all times). We prayed over him. He then coughed for another half hour (DH later told me that if Osh Osh didn’t stop coughing after that, he would have called for an ambulance) but the cough slowly subsided.

Osh Osh eventually fell asleep. The poor kid must have been so tired from all that coughing and difficulty in breathing. This Mummy felt guilty as hell as she nearly “poisoned” her own son!

When he awoke 2 hours later, he was back to his usual happy self, all except that his left eye is still puffy and slightly swollen.

I’m so grateful he’s ok. It was really nerve wrecking for all of us. It also made us more “sensitive” to God. DH actually thought it was a sign of God when he saw the “X” in the sky. When I saw the “X”, I thought of the “spot marked X”, akin the ones we often see on a much sought after treasure map in those Hollywood pirate movies.

Although the streaks of white in the sky were man made, to me, it’s a good reminder that we have already arrived at the “X”. What we really need to be happy is right here in front of us – our health, our family and friends and all that God is giving to us today, right now. We don’t need to go on a wild treasure hunt to find happiness, to find the elusive “spot marked X”. It’s in front of our very eyes all this time.

I’m going to go check on Osh Osh now as he sleeps. The very fact that he’s breathing normally right now is enough to give me all the happiness I need.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Self promotion

I've just finished drafting my personal assessment of my work performance for 2008. It's an annual year end appraisal exercise. I will need to send my personal appraisal to my manager, have a conversation with her and then she will take it to the management with a grade for my performance. This grade will determine how big/small a bonus I am entitled to! So, it's essential I "win" her over in order for her to agree with me that I am a valuable asset to the company.

I've been working on this draft since Monday and had to put it off as work demands increased. I worked on it all of this morning from about 7am till an hour ago (of course, stopping every now and again to get some work done!). It's an uphill task for me. As you can guess, I'm not good at "selling" myself. Some folks do it naturally, being able to sing their own praises and blow their own trumpets triumphantly - toot…toot…toot.

When I was younger, Mum used to tell me that if I work hard, people will recognise that and will reward/appreciate me accordingly. I have lived by this belief for as long as I can remember. As much as I love Mum, this advice hasn't served me well in my own career path. In the corporate world, you are not judged by the work you do but by how well you packaged yourself. I believe that this isn't just a unique feature of the company I work for but is prevalent everywhere.

As I was busy trying to "package" myself by using sentences such as "I have successfully done that…", "I enabled this to happen…", "Given my expertise, I built upon…", etc., I hear this voice in my head and it sounds very familiar. It's the voice of a difficult superior I deal with on a daily basis (he's a manager from another department). I hear his voice challenging every positive thing I write. "No, you didn't do that", "No, you weren't proactive enough", "No, it was you who caused the delay" and the tiresome voice just goes on and on!

I had to take a breather and call DH at work. DH took 15 minutes out of his busy work schedule to reassure me of my strong points and gave me pointers to refocus my thoughts.

It worked and I managed to silence that voice. This whole incident made me think about another voice which is always in my head and this time, it's a feminine voice. It's my own inner voice. My own inner voice of negativity, of low self esteem, of self pity.

I've often let this voice sabotage my own happiness and skew my perception of my self worth. I've recently made a decision not to let this inner voice get the better of me. I intentionally "switch on" and tune in to a more positive mode of living. Like switching on a light switch, I switch into a positive mode whenever I am faced with a difficult, stressful, annoying and frustrating situation or person. It's not easy but instead of getting all uptight and wound up or starting to blame myself or others or losing my temper or wallowing in self pity, I stop and ask myself some questions.

"Is it worth it for me to get so upset?"

"Will being negative solve anything?"

"Will this matter to me 1 year from now, 5 years from now?"

I don't have a standard set of questions but as soon as I am able to switch into this mode, my outlook changes. It's akin taking a step back and reevaluating it from a more objective perspective.

I'm not saying that I have this act nailed but I am determined to continue practising it. It's definitely better than giving up and listening to my negative inner voice.

Now, I've got to draft the email to send off my personal appraisal to my manager…I am woman, hear me roar…heh heh…in a quiet confident manner, of course! ;)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Shared visions

It's been draining for me these past two days. I'm feeling under the weather but have to drag myself in to work. DH and I inevitably got into a big fight with each other on Monday night and it hit me really hard. I was hoping that we wouldn't go back to our old ways of fighting so often, it being the new year and all. Every time we fight, the old hurts, anger, resentment and frustrations resurface, making the present fight worse than it really is. It's like a quicksand. I just feel that the harder we try to break free of this rut of fighting with each other, the easier it is for us to sink back into our vicious angry fights.

Last night, we had another serious discussion on finances and future plans. Looking back, it wasn't the best time to do so as I wasn't feeling well, both physically and emotionally and DH was tired from work and drained as well. However, our discussion last night was calmer and it didn't escalate into a fight. We ended it with both of us sharing our vision of what we picture our ideal lives to be, taking away the impossibilities, the negatives and the "I can't"s.

To my surprise, DH's vision has changed from when we last shared about this and that was a good few years ago. His vision of his career plans have changed. I've also learnt what hobbies he wanted to take up if he had the time and I would have never guessed some of the things he mentioned.

My vision has also changed as well. Gone are the high flying career oriented goals. In its place, a more family oriented vision of children (I pray I can have more) and a better quality of life. Comparing both our visions, it is hopeful that both of us share commonality and purpose. All is not lost.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A pensive start to the New Year

I had started my New Year's eve feeling excited, thinking that DH was off and we could have a nice family day on New Year's Day. However, later yesterday evening, when DH received his duty roster, we discovered that he was on shift duty the whole of today. I was very disappointed and nearly cried.

It's nothing new with DH having to work on public holidays and weekends but somehow, having him work on New Year's Day seemed like such a big blow to me. Maybe I'm just being emotional, it being the end of another year.
We've had a rough year as individuals, as a couple, as parents. I've been melancholy over the last few days of 2008 due to some work situations. It may not be logical but I figured that if we started the New Year together as a family and have a happy day, it will make 2009 a better year, kind of like a sign of things to come.

Therefore, when I realised we won't be having a family day today, it made me worry if this is a sign...does this mean that 2009 will also be another difficult year for us? Having to struggle to find family time together? Having to steal time here and there to reconnect as a couple? Being short tempered and taking out on Osh Osh because we are so stretched ourselves? I really dread the events of 2008 repeating themselves this year.

I know that I shouldn't rely on feelings and emotions, more so when I am low. I also know that I shouldn't interpret DH's absence today as a sign of bad things to come. Yes, it seems very illogical that I should be thinking this way. However, as you can guess, I can't seem to shrug off these negative feelings.

Last night, although DH was tired, we spent some time talking and reflecting on the past year and prayed for the year ahead. DH said, "New Year's Day is just another day, one day out of 365 days. Don't read too much into it".

I hope so. We really need a change for the better this year. I told DH it's so hard to keep feeling beaten and defeated in so many ways, every single day. After our prayer last night, I asked DH to go to sleep first because he looked really tired and I was still quite wound up and couldn't sleep yet. I spent some time checking my email messages. In my inbox was one of the daily Christian devotional messages I subscribed to. It was titled "The Night I Lost All Hope". I sat up straight. It was as though that article was written especially for me.

Here's the final two paragraphs of that devotional written by a mother of a wayward son whom she was praying for. She wanted him to get help and attend a weekly support group meeting in hope that he will turn over a new leaf. That was her hope. He didn't show up for the meeting. She was devastated but here's what she wrote:

"The hope (she's referring to her own hope that her son will change once he attends the meeting) I had lost -- that 1% I'd been clinging to -- was human hope. That kind of hope is in limited quantity, and when it runs out, you are left drained, discouraged, disappointed and ...hopeless! Oh, it may masquerade as "hope," but it is completely different from the hope that God provides. God's hope renews and refreshes. It empowers, uplifts, and strengthens. God's hope does not disappoint! There is an unlimited supply of God's hope.

God knew I had been clinging to human hope, and He knew that last 1% of weak, feeble hope would run out. He wanted me to cling to Him, the God of true, lasting, unlimited hope. So, as I wiped my tears, I waited as the winds of God's hope blew my way. My circumstances were still the same, but my heart was now filled with the hope that only God can provide."

I'm not there yet where this mother has arrived but I pray that somehow I will get there. I have to believe there is hope...