Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I started spotting this morning. Once this happens, it's without a doubt that I will have my period in a few days time. I'm not pregnant again. I tell myself, "It's ok. There's always hope for better news next month." As some of you know, we've been trying to conceive a second child for over a year now. Some months, I cope better. Some months, I'm a wreck.
Today, I was filled with sadness, as expected. I tried to keep myself busy. I decided to change Osh Osh's bedsheets before I leave for work (DH had taken Osh Osh to school earlier as I'm going to the office later than usual today). He had an "accident" last night, probably because he was coughing a lot and couldn't control his bladder.
As I changed his sheets, I couldn't stop my tears from flowing. I sat there on the floor amidst the soiled sheets, hugging his little pillow and sobbing. I tried to pray but I couldn't articulate. I just sobbed.
Finally after 5 minutes or so, I picked myself up and completed the task. I went out to the balcony to check on Osh Osh's plant. There are 2 young shoots now and they seemed to be growing well. Looking at the plant gave me some comfort. While I will allow myself some time to grieve, I will not wallow in self pity. There is always hope for new life.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Two green leaves

I got excited over 2 green leaves today. As I wrote in my last post, Osh Osh had a field trip to a garden/farm-like place last Friday. Each child was given a small pot with soil in it to take home. Osh Osh told me that he had personally planted some sunflower seeds in it.

Osh Osh has been diligently watering the pot every morning after waking up. He's also very confident that the seeds he planted will grow into a beautiful sunflower plant.

This evening, when we got home, I went to check the pot. To my excitement, there were two tiny green leaves sprouting out from the soil. After DH finished showering Osh Osh, I told them the good news. To be honest, I was the only one who had difficulty containing my excitement. Osh Osh merely smiled calmly and said, "Seed grow sunflower."

It appeared that he's more confident of his ability to grow things than I am. I had doubted that the seeds he planted could grow because I wasn't sure if he planted them deep enough for them to survive. I've never been good with plants. My Mum is a talented gardener. Everything she planted flourished. In my case, I couldn't even keep a cactus alive! DH and I had bought a little cactus plant (smaller than the palm of your hand) when we first got married. We named him Ernie as he looked like Ernie of Sesame Street becasue it was small and round with short cute spiky thorns. Guess what? He died a few months later and until this day, I don't know what I did wrong. Perhaps, I loved it too much?

Anyway, who knows? Maybe Osh Osh has the green thumb which he inherited from my Mum. It seemed to have bypassed me completely and Ernie was the ill-fated casualty who lived a very short but hopefully, happy life. I pray that Mr. Sunflower lives a richer and longer life!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

A 34 hour day?

I often wondered if life would be easier if we had more hours to our day. Maybe a 34 hour day would cure all the ills of our modern life. Ten extra hours to do all the things we never have the time for or to rest and rejuvenate ourselves. We would be more relaxed when we are with our spouse and children as we're not watching the clock, thinking of the next thing we have to do. We would have more time to pursue our hopes and dreams and actually live, rather than just exist.

Would having more hours to the day really make a difference? I'm skeptical. We would probably still complain that there isn't enough time to finish all the things we need to do in one day. We would still be as tired and stressed as ever, perhaps even more so, as longer hours inevitably mean more things to do!

What brought about this train of thought? Yes, you guessed it. I felt that we didn't have enough time this week! We have just been so busy. DH had 2 night duties at work together with weekend duties. He had an evening revision tutorial to attend earlier in the week. I had an obligatory office function to attend on Thursday night. Osh Osh had a field trip to a garden-cum-farm exhibition centre. The shower in the bathroom needs fixing, the ceiling paint is peeling, there is so much clutter in the house to clear and ... and... and... I just feel so muddled and overwhelmed!!!!

It's times like these when I start comparing my life to others. I know that once I start doing that, I'm digging a big depressing hole that will just swallow me up and I wouldn't be able to climb out of it. I've fallen into this hole too many times in my life. Hopefully, the awful reminder of what it feels like to be at the bottom of this black pit will be enough motivation for me not to lose my footing!

On a lighter note, Osh Osh's "thank you, God" prayer tonight made me think. He thanked God for his dinner (he must have really enjoyed it!), for his grandfather (my father in law came over to help out and play with Osh Osh for a few hours), for his night light (it's his source of comfort each night) and for his curtains (Mum made them. They are bright blue with "Nemo-coloured fishes- very cheerful!).

It was so easy for him to say his prayer whereas it was such a challenge for me this week to think of positive things to write in my gratitude diary.

I seriously need to take a step back and refocus my thoughts. Things can't be that bad. Osh Osh always asks me to hold his hand for a few minutes after I tuck him in. Once I hold his hand, he breathes easier and finds peace. Can someone hold my hand now?

Monday, February 16, 2009

The challenge - being kind!

Kindness - we all like to think we're kind people. No one really wants to admit that we are selfish in nature. Lately, I've been feeling that I'm not living in a very kind environment. The people in this country are just downright rude and aggressively defending their own interests to the detriment of others. DH said that this category of people is a large minority of the citizens in this country. The large majority are passive and apathetic. There is, however, a tiny minority of folks who are genuinely kind and nice. DH and I think that sadly there are not enough of these people to go around to make this country a nicer place. Everyone is just so caught up with themselves, rushing around in the never ending chase for wealth and material goods. The success of individuals here are determined by just that. This country is not a place for individuals who just want to be happy with a simple life filled with good values and morals.

I find it very difficult to live here and emulate kindness when I am "slapped" by unkindness and rudeness on a daily basis.

An example of this: On Saturday, I took Osh Osh out for lunch as DH is on a two day revision course for his exams and couldn't be with us. I had planned for it to be a nice happy day. We were in the train station and I realised that I needed to top up the money in my train card. I went to an automated top up station and was about to insert my card into it. I was distracted for a second when Osh Osh asked me something. Suddenly, a middle aged woman dashed in front of me and quickly inserted her card into the machine. I was stunned! My train card was still in my outstretched hand. She was standing so close to me that I could see the strands of grey hair in her head. No sane minded person would have mistaken me for not wanting to use the machine. The woman was just downright rude. I wanted to yell at her and tell her off but Osh Osh was there with me. He was repeating his question about something he saw on one of the billboards. I couldn't get angry in front of him as that would have confused him. Still, I felt so angry. The lady eventually walked away without even looking at me. This is just one of the many examples of the daily rudeness I experience in this country. Sadly, as much as I didn't want this experience to taint my afternoon with Osh Osh, I ended up being distracted and was short tempered with Osh Osh when he fussed later that afternoon.

By coincidence, I had borrowed a book from the library titled "Love as a Way of Life: Seven Keys to Transforming Every Aspect of Your Life" by Gary Chapman. I really enjoyed reading his book on the five love languages which was why I decided to pick this up for a read. The book explores living your life daily filled with an "attitude of love". It doesn't mean feeling lovey dovey about everyone you meet and hugging every stranger on the street. From the two chapters I've read this morning, it entails a lot of hard work and perseverance to live your life with an "attitude of love". The writer writes that you would have succeeded in doing so if you practice the following seven attributes consistently: kindness, patience, forgiveness, courtesy, humility, generosity, and honesty.

I finished reading the chapter on kindness. I was torn between crying while reading in the train or laughing aloud. The writer suggests that we practise kindness irrespective of the responses we receive from the people we are kind to. We are to practise kindness even on difficult days, when we don't feel like doing it. The benefits we reap are not from the grateful "thank you"s from the recipients or even from the "feel good" factor within you. It's from knowing that you have contributed in some way to make someone else's life a little more pleasant. In a small way, you have emulated the character of our Lord Jesus Christ.

At this point in my life, I find it very difficult to really buy into this. I prayed, after reading that chapter. I asked God to give me a different perspective of my life in this country. So far, nothing's changed. Don't give up hope…that's what I'm telling myself. I pray God hasn't given up on me either.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Letting go and starting a new adventure

The decision to let go of something that's been with you for a long time (in this instance, 5 years) is never an easy one to make. You started the relationship, developed and nurtured it to its optimal potential and then painfully watch it deteriorate despite your efforts of keeping it alive. It breaks your heart to the point that you have to get a firm grip of yourself and say enough is enough. You just have to be resolute to make the decision to end it and move on.

Before I am flooded by email messages and phone calls from concerned friends, I'm not referring to my marriage with DH! Now, everyone, pause for a sigh of relief. I'm referring to an online business venture which I started 5 years ago. I was excited about its potential and eagerly worked on it with all my heart and soul. The business never brought me a steady income but I kept telling myself to keep it running, in hope that things will turn around. For the past year and a half, there were virtually no customers but I still incurred the cost of keeping the venture alive.

So, after having a long chat with a friend/adviser on Tuesday night, about the pros and cons of maintaining the business or ceasing its operations, I've made the decision to end it. It's painful but it's better to let it go, both for my financial and mental health. Otherwise, it will be a constant reminder of how I've failed and a stumbling block preventing me from moving on.

On that night itself, I've also made a decision to start something new. It's not a rebound, like when you start a relationship with a new person after you've ended a painful one with your existing partner, in order to replace the comfort and warmth that you miss so much. You close your eyes and persuade yourself to believe this time, it will work even though you know the new person is not the right fit for you. No, this is something I've always wanted to do but haven't got the guts or confidence to take the first step to embark on it. DH is fully supportive of this. He's the one who found the ad in the newspaper last month and has been encouraging me since; to just sign on and get started.

You would have laughed at me if you knew how many times I took the credit card out from my wallet and put it back in! I walked to and fro in the room, struggling internally to make up my mind. Deep down inside, I know this is what I want to do, something that excites me but I have this fear that I will not be able to see it through given how stretched I am with my job and family commitments. In a moment of clarity, I realised that my only obstacle is my own self doubt. If I don't give myself a chance to see where this will take me, who would??

I finally made the payment at around 11pm in the quiet of the night, as though I needed to do this in the privacy of my room without any prying eyes! I signed up for an online writing course. It's flexible distance learning and the course fees are very reasonable. I'm allowed 4 years to complete the course of 30 modules and if I don't earn the course fee back during that time, I get a full refund (there are conditions, of course! The primary one is that I submit my writing to legitimate publications and provide evidence that the works were rejected despite my efforts to get published). I'm not concerned about earning back my course fees or even getting published. I just want to have a personal breakthrough and put my best foot forward on this endeavour. It would definitely be exciting and challenging and I'm sure there will be moments of heartache and frustration just like any meaningful path in life that you fully commit yourself to.

The end result, my goal? I want to look at myself in the mirror at the end of this course and say, "I'm proud of you. You worked hard and now, you've proven to yourself that you are a writer." It would be nice to be able to earn a living from it too but that is an added blessing and not my motivation for this life adventure of mine.

PS: I have started reading Modules 1 and 2 of the course in the train on my way to work today.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Year of the Ox

It's that time of the year again...Happy Chinese New Year to everyone who celebrates it! The zodiac animal for this Chinese New Year is the Year of the Ox - my year. The Ox is known for its hard working nature and its resilience towards hardship - sounds apt for the current times. Although I don't really subscribe to the Chinese horoscope, I've read (and have been informed by friends and colleagues) that this year is a tough year for the Ox. No surprises there. Given how 2008 ended for all of us and for me personally, it doesn't seem like the hardships will let up this year.

We have spent a week at my parents' home. It's good to take time off from work but work doesn't seem to want to take any time off from me. I got a call from a colleague at work on Wednesday to tend to an urgent matter. I don't have any internet connection at my parents' place but I brought my work laptop with me. So, we headed to the nearest hotel and used their wireless internet facility at its lobby, by paying a small fee, of course. DH came with me and as he has his books with him, he studied while I worked. We have been doing this for 3 days out of the week that we've been here. In a way, working while I'm on leave has its benefits. When we return home tomorrow, I have the peace of mind that I have cleared all pending work.
Still, it doesn't feel that I've rested much. Osh Osh had a cough before we left and he's still having a bad cough now. His sleep is interrupted at nights which affects all of us as well. I've not been feeling all that well either. DH and I also had a bad argument during the second night of our stay here. Overall, it seems like what I experienced in 2008 is repeating itself - it's like a bad rut I can't seem to get out off.

I guess all of us do take a few steps back after we have made some progress. I know I shouldn't be so hard on myself. DH reminded me 2 days ago that we have real blessings in life to be grateful for. He told me that despite everything, we still have each other and we have Osh Osh. We shouldn't lose sight of that.

On a lighter note, if I do indeed have the characteristics of the Ox, I should be able to withstand whatever challenges this year throws at me since the Ox is a practical work animal which is stable and dependable. It is also quite a simplistic animal in that it is happy just to be able to graze green grass in wide open spaces.

I just hope that when we return home and hit the ground running with our daily routines and busyness, there will be moments where we can "graze in the green pastures" to regain our strength to face what lies ahead.