Scary times

0d51dc44c86d71d9f36825ab93896576“Have you ever been in love? Horrible isn’t it? It makes you so vulnerable. It opens your chest and it opens up your heart and it means that someone can get inside you and mess you up. You build up all these defenses, you build up a whole suit of armor, so that nothing can hurt you, then one stupid person, no different from any other stupid person, wanders into your stupid life…You give them a piece of you. They didn’t ask for it. They did something dumb one day, like kiss you or smile at you, and then your life isn’t your own anymore. Love takes hostages. It gets inside you. It eats you out and leaves you crying in the darkness, so simple a phrase like ‘maybe we should be just friends’ turns into a glass splinter working its way into your heart. It hurts. Not just in the imagination. Not just in the mind. It’s a soul-hurt, a real gets-inside-you-and-rips-you-apart pain. I hate love.”

Neil Gaiman, The Sandman, Vol. 9: The Kindly Ones

Scary right? that feeling of falling for someone, the uncertainty, the what if and how about that?, the unknown… It has taken me a long time to heal and for a while I felt amazing, really top, king, no worries, no stress, do what I want, when I want and then, as it says above, one foolish moment and I was hooked and addicted.

My fear is what IF the phrase “maybe we should just be friends” comes up.  I am hurting just thinking about it.  My many months and years of putting up guards were to stop this pain and yet it happens before the phrase is even said.

What I fear the most though is not allowing us to have the opportunity to even try.  To allow an opportunity where true love can thrive, develop and grow is truly beautiful and the hurt from not even allowing a chance where there could be a slim possibility of this phrase ever being said far far far worse than ever letting ourselves love at all.

I am learning and growing and practising being in the moment.  Not worrying too much about what may happen and enjoying what is right now, but we all need to know there is potential for it to be more than friends and a chance to grow in to the beautiful love that it could and should be.  It takes work, a lot of work, but rewards always feel much better when they have been earned.

Keep believing, hoping, loving, talking and living.  Be you, be human, stay blessed.

Singapore – one nation, many people.

I have been fortunate to have lived in not just one, not two, but four continents of the world.  I am now in what I affectionately call a tropical island – it IS a tropical island, although the sandy beaches are almost all covered in a jungle of concrete and the sun reflects off modern glass panels rather than the ocean seas, although it is an island none the less.  

In each country I have lived in, there comes a different culture.  Each country is diverse in it's own right, however Singapore – the Lion City is the most diverse country I have lived in so far – according to cultures.  The population is made up of three major ethnic groups; Chinese, Malay and Indian with many others in between.  These different ethnic groups, undoubtedly come with their different respective religions and customs/celebrations and festivities   It is therefore interesting to see how this is handled.

Each major represented religion or traditional practice in Singapore is given an equal share of public holidays to ensure equality and racial harmony amongst the different citizens.  Hari Raja for the Malays, Deepavali for the Indians, Chinese New Year for the Chinese, Christmas Day for the Christians, National Day as a day of united gathering for all.  This year, as Deppavali came upon us, I too was able to celebrate this occasion – the festival of lights: the New Year for Hindus and a celebration for Sikhs.  I am none of these, however living in this multi-cultural society,

I am privileged to be able to take part in these festivities.  The symbolic wearing of new clothes to start anew and the lighting of candles and fires to symbolise triumphing good over evil can be shared by all.  In Britain, the closeness of Guy Fawkes' night enables the two non-correlating festivals to be celebrated in unison, a harmonious relationship where differences are put aside and things are shared.  Christians, although not a symbolic day according to calendar, can use this occasion to highlight their saviour; the light to the world, non-believers can celebrate all that is good and overcoming the struggles they may have had, looking to the light for hope in the future and Buddhists a chance to celebrate a time of enlightenment.  Deepavali is a festival for everyone wherever they may be.

I am not saying that people are to take up a new religion or to pray to Gods they do not believe in; however to use these shared public holidays to take time remembering what they do; a chance to share a moment with loved ones; to take stock of where they are; to find out what they need, and to be thankful for what they have.  The holidays are things to be shared, the cause may be different for each religion, however the same tools and days can almost certainly be used according to each sect for the common good.

I am pleased to live in a country that has this equality in religion in this aspect and I hope this will continue; allowing those who have faith to continue and those who do not to find it: this shared unity is an little piece of heaven on Earth – shared love; shared resources; shared understanding: many beliefs, many cultures, many individuals, one country.

Keep believing, keep going, be human and stay blessed.

living in eternal sunshine

I was told that Singapore is a tropical island – the land of eternal sunshine.  A place I expected for me to always carry my own beam of sunshine – eternally, constantly, consistently, however just like the weather's constant direct hot sun turning to monsoon season, my warm smile soon turned to salt filled reservoirs of tears.  Feelings of tingling warmth and joy as rays of sunshine touch your face turned into shivers and a coldness inside.  

The rain of course in Singapore soon subsides, the sky may still be grey, the clouds still looming, but the cool, warm air is pleasant despite the bleak outlook of the overcast skies.  The water evaporates and the only trace of rain is the living green of the plants having been given new life.  There is hope, hope for the sun again, hope to continue.  These plants are not struggling or surviving but living and taking everything in there stride. 

In our times of darkness where we are raining in our sadness, there is always hope.  After the showers, each time we feel more comforted, the clouds still hover closely above us, our troubles do not go away, but as our eyes are wiped dry, just like the cool, warm breeze we feel in the weather, there is hope in the future, hope not seeing the tears any more and that this warm sunbeam of a smile will reappear on our faces.  

Singapore may not be the land of the eternal sun, but it is a land where there is always hope, there is always warmth, there is always the promise of better things to come.  Our lives must be lived where we do not just live with a cloud above our heads, but to see the cloud and dance even though it is raining, knowing that soon we will be dry and happy we continued to be who we are and want to be.

Stay blessed.

All I want for Christmas is…….

It is that time of year again when every shopping mall, restaurant, cafe, hotel, and bar start playing garish renditions of carols, one hit wonders from bygone years, "do they know it's Christmas time?", "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" and of cause the all time favourite quasi-romantic, sing-along, sway-inducing, foot-tapping,  "All I want fro Christmas is you".

All over the world, places play these tunes (well where I have been to anyway…) and although I'm sure I have said it before "I'm dreaming of a white Christmas" really is and can only be a dream for a country that is a tropical island!   The lights still go up though, the Christmas trees erected and decorated, Santa Clause hats worn, sleigh bells rung and snowflake and reindeer shaped lights adorn the streets.  Commercially, whether widely celebrated or not, Christmas is recognised worldwide in some way or another… but is there always a feel of Christmas?..

Putting the hot weather I am in aside which to someone from a cold country, always associates this holiday with coldness, there is always a feel to Christmas.  Christmas has a sort of magic to it that only happens during this festive time.  For one person I know, I am sure that magical feeling of Christmas came, despite spending it alone and without his children, when he volunteered at an open-house for all.  The homeless, the poor, the needy, the drug-fuelled and the alcohol addicted all converged to celebrate a day together.  I know from being told how rooms were set aside for drug-users to do their thing, alcoholics given their way and everyone given their freedom to be who they are; problems, issues, vices, sins and all without judgement, but the gracious gift of support, a listening ear, a helping hand and a safe venue with a hot meal and a drink where each one could feel human – this experience is where my friend felt first hand the magic of Christmas.  This may not have been how he planned it, but he certainly experienced something un-regrettable, unforgettable and certainly something that will be repeated.  I sincerely admire the people for being the loving caring people they are.

My Christmas felt "like Christmas" when after walking through one of the many shopping malls in Singapore, I stumbled upon a mass carol singing event on the 23rd December.  I was handed an artificial electronic candle and a carol book and sang along to the huge choir and mixed crowd gathered to do just one thing: celebrate Christmas and soak up that magic in the air.  The music helped of course, but it was the sense of community: the communal singing – everyone regardless of age, sex, race gathered together united.  The choir's obvious toil to ensure that the notes were correct and the volunteers enthusiastic attitude, showed they clearly cared – they wanted everyone to be who they were.  I previously may have had tears hearing the song "All I want for Christmas is you" knowing my one Christmas wish would not be granted, however I was smiling as I stood there amongst these people, changing the words and singing aloud in my terrible voice, "All I want for Christmas is me".

I may not have got my Christmas wish, but the magical moment of shared community allowed me to be me -my awful out of tune notes sliding up and down different octaves to make a full set, and the invite to a family meal gave me this magic – the magic of graciousness that Christmas is all about.

My constant prayer right now, which I know is slowly being fulfilled is for me to be me.  I will be singing "All I want for Christmas is me" into the new year, knowing that by the time Christmas comes next year, I will have got it, and instead of ruining the singing for others, with my voice, just smile and listen, knowing that I have already got my wish.  Two experiences, both enabling each individual to be themselves, each allowing a Christmas magi, a feel of Christmas to two people who thought they may never have had felt it.

What was your Christmas wish? What will be your life resolutions starting from 1st January 2012?

Stay blessed.

not MORE socks!

Every year men young and old open parcels wrapped in festive-themed paper to find yet another pair of socks: sarcastically ;"Thank you…. I will add it to the many other pairs I have received over the last 10 years!" comes the reply as the third person to hand them a small package smiles knowing one can never have too many socks! 

This year, a year when I received no presents bar a box of chocolates from the child Itutor, I would have glady opened a package containing another pair of plain, black, boring, practical socks, ready for the job ahead.  Alas, I now have to for the first time uin years go and buy some myself.

Gentleman, next time you open another pair of cotton made toe foot covers from whoever it may be, be glad that one of the most boring items to go and buy yourself has already been done.  Ladies, before you buy anyone more socks, ask yourself this: "How many novelty socks can a man wear in his lifetime?" and "Is Bug's Bunny something he will really wear every day?".

Make use of whatever you have, be grateful for every opportunity life throws at you, don't take for granted the things we already do have – show someone you care – say thank you for your socks, metaphorical or otherwise and mean it.

Enjoy the moment.

Stay blessed.

Home made noodles

It is a cold rainy day in Singapore: 24C, no sun, just a constant drizzle of rain, pierced with sudden down-pours that produce instant lakes your feet dance around to avoid swimming in.  The usual “shiny white Singapore” is turned into a grey.  Life easing to a slow tempo, people more relaxed and subdued and the hustle and bustle confined to over-crowding under the covered walk-ways with a multitude of umbrellas in an array of various colours and sizes.  It is the perfect day for a bowl of the best home-made noodles in Singapore.

 

I order my bowl of very simple hand made noodle soup; a rustically prepared thick slice of noodle dough ripped at the edges in a super fragrant broth with sliced white fish, caix xye, minced pork balls and dried anchovies, served in the classic melamine soup bow with plastic soup spoon and chopsticks.

 

The restaurant is a hole in the wall; exam style tables flank either side of the brown tiled covered walk-way with small plastic stools as grey as the clouds in the sky at each place setting it is so simple, serving 6 or 7 varieties of noodles, in dry or soup form with different ingredients and sauces.  It is somewhere that could quite easily be dismissed, but this place is a gem!

 

When my bowl arrives, i smile instantly at the aroma, deeply pleased with my choice.  I have not been here in over a month, and today is perfect for a bowl!  The liquor is of course far too hot.  I smile as I burn my tongue remembering a good friend of mine told me how Singapore is the only place in the world where they can boil water and serve it at over 100 degrees C!  The chilli padi give it a warm spicy heat, the dried anchovy a crunch, the fish a delicate texture, the noodles a soft pleasing substance, the caix xye a freshness and colour and the liquid a satisfying warm feeling and flavour that pulls everything together perfectly – this is true comfort food.

 

This was the first place I came to in Singapore for lunch when I came here to live; somewhere i was excited to come to having heard of how great it is.  now I am back.  It is odd how places and things bring back memories, and the emotions that come from those memories.  I wanted to come here again for the food – for that comforting feeling, especially on this cold day, as I consumed that first mouthful.  However the memories come back to me.  I felt the same warmth from that first mouthful as I did before, I am looking back fondly with affection for what I had and continuing to enjoy it.  I have the feeling that I have moved on, knowing I will never forget, but live continually in the present.  I feel have achieved something, looking back on something which I want to continue to enjoy, and did enjoy – not looking at the past with a longing for it, but a fondness for the memory and happiness I have experienced what I have.

 

I am looking forward to more hand-made noodle moments – not to reminisce, but to enjoy.

 

Where is your noodle place?

 

keep smiling, keep eating, keep enjoying, keep living.

 

Stay blessed.