Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Look

Monday, December 24, 2012

God With Us

One of the toughest struggles for a Christian is that God can seem absent in the darkest of moments. Or we feel His presence but our cries for help go unanswered and our pains don't go away.

Does God care, does God know what I'm going through, we wonder.

Best we remember moments when He impresses a word, a verse or a thought upon us. Because that's what sustains us. That's what gives hope and assurance.

I choose to remain hopeful and to remind myself that He is Immanuel "God with us".

And in spite of what I've gone through in the past one & a half years, I choose to be thankful for things worth thanking God for.

Life is a journey, a friend reminded recently during a conversation. Which direction are we heading? Where do we want to go? And who's going along with us?

Go in the direction of your heart. Find your focus and be established in fruitful living where daily joys keep you going.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I wanna go to Marz

Marz by John Grant

One two three four...

Bittersweet strawberry marshmallow butterscotch
Polarbear cashew dixieland phosphate chocolate
My tutti frutti special raspberry, leave it to me
Three grace scotch lassie cherry smash lemon free

I wanna go to Marz
Where green rivers flow
And your sweet sixteen is waiting for you after the show
I wanna go to Mraz
We'll meet the gold dust twins tonight
You'll get your heart's desire, I will meet you under the lights

Golden champagne juicy grapefruit lucky monday
High school footall hot fudge buffalo tulip sundae
Almond caramel frappe pineapple rootbeer
Black and white pennyapple henry ford sweetheart maple tea

I wanna go to Marz
Where green rivers flow
And your sweet sixteen is waiting for you after the show
I wanna go to Mraz
We'll meet the gold dust twins tonight
You'll get your heart's desire, I will meet you under the lights

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Shape Your Habits, Direct Your Life



Reading Charles Duhigg's The Power Of Habit really enlightened me and encouraged me on how one's personal habits can be changed and even harnessed for greater effectiveness in life.

We all know that everyone struggles with habits in various areas of our lives--that is, bad habits that call out to be managed and good habits that we always struggle to keep. Think new year resolutions.

First the bad news: habits, once formed, can't be gotten rid of because neural pathways are formed in our brains and even when we stop practising the habit, the pathways are still there, waiting to be activated.

The good news is that bad habits can be changed! And once we understand the anatomy of a habit, we can learn to form good habits! And it is through our daily habits that we can begin to build the life we desire.

So what's a habit? A habit is made of a loop which is first triggered by a cue such as mid-afternoon when you start to feel peckish. Once triggered, you begin to feel a craving and desire that begs to be satisfied. That's how we get into a habitual routine which serves to achieve a desired reward (e.g. hunger is satiated, feel good from endorphins etc.). And all this can happen without much forethought because our brains have been programmed through repeated habit cycles. This latter point can work both for us and against us.



Two examples:
- Cue: running shoes left next to the bed. Routine: run first thing in the morning. Reward: endorphine rush and a healthy breakfast.
- Cue: feeling sad. Routine: drink. Reward: forget the troubles.

Grasp this: The key ingredients to building instilling good habits are:
  • Belief - Whatever your habit is, if you believe that your habit can be changed, it makes a critical difference whether you can sustain and follow through your habit change. Whether your belief is based upon spirituality or otherwise, Duhigg cites research such as recovering alcoholics that demonstrates how crucial belief is.
  • Willpower - Don't give up! As we say in my church, keep on keeping on! Your breakthrough is round the corner! Another advice given to me by someone who recovered from depression by forcing himself to do what seemed really difficult, be ruthless. That said, willpower is like a muscle that can tire, such as after a long day of meetings and important decision making. That's why often we find it hard to kick ourselves to go for a run at the end of a tiring work day.
  • Identify keystone habits - A keystone habit is one that causes shifts in other areas of your life and other good habits begin to fall in place. Such as regular exercise which usually leads one to eat more healthily, smoke less and sleep more. Interestingly, this habit might not even seem related to what you're trying to achieve. Duhigg reported about the power of visualization through how Michael Phelps' coach got him to repeatedly watch a video tape of a perfect swim every night and every morning.
  • Understand moments of immense stress can trigger old habits - Duhigg mentions about people who do recover from alcoholism or drugs, but when a serious, personal crisis hits, these people lapse back into their destructive habits.

I simplify the practical habit-changing steps offered by Duhigg:

1) Identify the triggering habit cues. Think along five areas: time, location, emotional state, other people & the immediately preceding action.

2) Experiment with rewards to identify what is the gratification you're really after. It might not actually be the food you take during a tea break, but it could be company and a reprieve from work.

3) Think of a plan to change your routine according to the identified cue and reward. This step is essentially because otherwise you will feel compelled to lapse into your old habit. Separately, I've heard Dr. Robi Sonderegger explain that a temptation lasts about 7 minutes and that your planned distraction or new habit has to engage you emotionally if it is to be adopted effectively.

Read how Duhigg explains these steps.



And I'm absolutely inspired! I hope to apply this newfound wisdom not only to physical habits, but also to financial habits and mental habits. I also recognize that this is a journey and positive change won't take place place overnight. But bit by bit, if we keep at it, doing the right things and picking our bruised selves up when we do stumble, we can direct and transform our lives towards where we want to go.

Final note: Duhigg actually studies not just the habits of individuals but also in organizations and he goes into the realm of marketing strategies, corporate culture and practices. So you'll definitely find this book enlightening in many ways.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Why Question

Who hasn't wondered if God is real, and if He is, then why does He allow distress, troubles and even calamities and crises in our lives?

God has never really answered my "why" questions. It's left me wondering, searching and even bereft at one time.

At some point, I believe my purpose--His purpose for my life--will be understood.

For now, it takes trust. That is, trusting that God will move and act in His time to bring about the best outcome and path for me.

How will things turn out in future, we wonder? For good, I believe. I'm learning that one's past does not determine one's future.

Can you believe that positive change and progress will come in your life?

Move from Why to Yes. Your life depends on it.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Friday, October 26, 2012

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life



Pointers gleaned from John C Maxwell's book - How Successful People Think.

1. Cultivate Big Picture Thinking
- What are the needs? And their causes?
- Who are the stakeholders? What are they thinking or doing with respect to the needs?

2. Engage in Focused Thinking
- What goals can be identified?
- How to achieve them?

3. Harness Creative Thinking
- How can we see/do things better?
- Who can we learn from?

4. Employ Realistic Thinking
- Face the facts
- Identify the pros, cons, worst case & resources needed

5. Utilize Strategic Thinking
- What's your plan?
- Who are you teaming with?

6. Explore Possibility Thinking
- Dream bigger & more fantastically
- Learn from achievers

7. Learn from Reflective Thinking
- Spend time reflecting
- Reflect in terms of what matters to you
- Make real changes

8. Question Popular Thinking
- Think for yourself
- Do things differently
- Do new things

9. Benefit from Shared Thinking
- Value others & enjoy interaction
- Plan for meetings: What's your agenda? Invite those who can contribute.

10. Practice Unselfish Thinking
- Give to benefit others
- Give anonymously if possible
- Check your motives

11. Rely on Bottom-Line Thinking
- What are your purpose and goal?
- How's your daily progress?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Changing The World

Two books have been on my desk: How To Change The World: Social Entrepreneurs And The Power Of New Ideas and Half The Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide.

They report numerous accounts of individuals (from the past and more recent) who aren't famous but yet are worthy of remembering because of how they worked against immense opposition and deep-rooted resistance to, well, change their world. They've effected changes that remove or reduce discrimination against groups of people like women and disabled people, that provide them the means to survive, that bring a sense of near-normalcy and deliverance to places of oppression and helplessness.

Change starts with...not so much the idea, but with men and women who dare to envision a different, better circumstance. Social change, business change, culture change...whatever it is, they see it and actually live it.

What gives courage to pursue change and to keep pursuing it through one's life? The deep burden to see the lives of loved ones, fellow ones removed from suffering? Anger at the ineffectual institutions that don't seem to care enough to bother? The will to believe that things can get and will get better?

It doesn't have to require a noble, grand cause and a huge effort to get started. Just meet one need at a time, around you and me. Little needs, not-so-little needs... And don't do it for recognition or affirmation, but do it simply knowing that you tried to make a difference.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hanoi Trip (Oct 2012)

The Sound Of Two Songs (by Mark Power)

The Sound Of Two Songs is a photo-project by Mark Power spanning 2004 to 2009. He documents and presents his take on Poland, its landscape and people.


...instigated by Magnum Photos to document countries joining the European Union that year. Despite having no familial ties to the country, he soon became fascinated by Poland. Over the next five years he made a further twenty visits, often accompanied by Polish photographer Konrad Pustola who generously shared his knowledge of his native land. Over time Power’s focus shifted from an investigation into the effects of EU membership into a more subjective, poetic and autobiographical response to a country he grew to love...

Power’s images exemplify his belief that ‘ugliness can be profoundly beautiful’. They present Poland as a land ‘bursting with visual contradictions… like listening to several melodies at once to the point where it’s difficult to hear anything clearly’, a notion which inspired the title of the exhibition. It is a place seen by a foreigner, an outsider; a position Power has resolutely maintained throughout. A highly personal body of work, The Sound of Two Songs nonetheless remains an important historical document of this fascinating period in Poland’s history.




Thai Photography Of The Past



74-year-old Pornsak Sakdaenprai talks about his photography work half a century ago in a small Isan town. Video courtesy of Bangkok Post. In Thai with English subtitles.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Thinking About Consumption



Caught DIVE! a documentary by Jeremy Seifert on America's food waste problem. Proving that dumpster food can be safe for consumption, he along with others rifle through dumpsters regularly--not compelled by poverty but by a reluctance to see valuable food go to waste.

Seifert reports that America dumps 96 billion pounds of consumable food every year, which takes up 20% of landfills. Key fact to remember: there is a cost, i.e. resources, that's expended to produce food, although it's not visible to the consumer. So throwing away a single pound of food means we actually waste all the resources that went into putting it on our dinner table.

It's not just a film that aims to change consumer behaviour, but more than that, to highlight how food companies have a crucial role to play in deciding how to manage excess/expended food.

Something to seriously think about as we bite into our foods, not just our favourite but also those that we don't fancy and would feel nothing about letting it go to waste.

Which leads me to...



In Must-Have: The Hidden Instincts Behind Everything We Buy, Geoffrey Miller breaks down how consumers' display of their lifestyles, through the cars, music, clothes, books, foods, life partners, opinions etc. are all driven by innate evolutionary desires to appear more attractive and therefore better able to mate and find success.

Miller offers many ideas and explanations for our consumer behaviour--he can be tongue-in-cheek at times--including "Central Six" attributes and not demographics that can fairly accurately predict behaviour. He concludes with suggestions to change social norms such as imposing extra retail taxes on brand new products to curb consumption, raising the prices of products with intangible costs (e.g. social costs such as ammo for guns).

The main takeaway: Consider and weigh our own motivations for lifestyle choices.

Food for thought: What motivates people to give or get involved in charity? If it's sympathy-inducing situations coupled with latent desire to do good without being too inconvenienced...why do most of us brush aside people who beg on the streets? Do givers/carers need to have positive giving experiences in order to encourage them to continue giving/caring?



e² design by PBS features inspiring projects and architects/designer who have consciously implemented designs that are--here comes the E word--environmentally conscious.

Key points: Good design requires forethought and consideration of context and culture. Implementation of bold ideas requires willingness and flexibility to try. See the larger picture in order to appreciate various factors at work.

It's not about tree-hugging sentiments, but actually about practical concerns such as how to save costs in the long run, how to reduce energy usage, how to create a conducive, comfortable and culturally-relevant social space etc. If only we can just stop and ask ourselves them questions.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Rethinking & Reusing

A house that took just 3 days to lay its two-ton concrete slabs and structural steel beams that were disposed from Boston's Big Dig.





Reusing something that's trashed--disposed highway parts in this case--to build your own house, is seldom the first thought that comes to mind to most of us. How do you incorporate such materials with a design that fits its neighbourhood and surroundings?

This project was featured in e2, PBS' documentary series on green architecture design. You can read more about its development here.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Rediscovery & Remaking



I just finished reading India Calling by Anand Giridharadas, an Indian native who as a youth moves to America with his parents and later decides to relocate back to his homeland, I suppose, to rediscover his roots. He writes about India's transformation in its social castes & the relationships in-between and its values towards success in life, towards family & marriage. It depicts each new definition through various characters he recalls through his family lineage such as his parents and their parents as well as those he encounters who each represent the old and the new India and the tensions therein.

You can read a review as well as an excerpt of this book here by NPR--it also includes an interview with the author as he talks about changes he witnessed.

And now I'm thinking about my own place in my country: a dwelling place where social ties and fond memories reside, a marketplace of making a living and pursuing aspirations, and a place of belonging where my loyalty is demanded.

One can lament some things, yet one can also be grateful--for those same things and also for others. Perhaps the crux of our identity lies in how we choose to make a place: Do you choose to belong and to contribute to shaping it? And if you do nothing, you either shape the status quo or you allow others to shape it along with you in it.

Questions that are being asked today: Where do we want to head and at what cost? Who should bear responsibility for each aspect of the systems we're building? Should we allow age-old institutions to adapt to modern lifestyles?

As a friend recently responded to my suggestion for him to join the national conversation even while he's abroad, how can I who am currently out of the system voice out for a matter which the local actors have the say and probably already had theirs?

In short: First, choose to be a stakeholder. Then, choose how you want to remake your place.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Awareness



Half The Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn is an immensely sobering and absorbing read because it puts the spotlight on the gritty issue of the sex trafficking of women. I'm a quarter through it...

Heavy and stirring it is. Its real life accounts of women coerced and trapped in prostitution illuminates the complexities involved in efforts to liberate these poor women. It also inspires how women, whether victims themselves and/or community heroes, are trying to help others.

Awareness is the first step. I'm not sure what's next...because I'm just learning about a whole lot of world issues demanding our attention.

Stay tuned and continue this journey.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Selecting

When deciding on a major decision and direction to pursue, you have to weigh what matters to you. Not pragmatically or directed by other's expectations, but being true to yourself.

Perhaps look at the examples of those around you. Are they doing what you wish you were? Can you see yourselves in their shoes?

Sometimes you hit a bump and you gotta make a change to find that breakthrough you been dreaming about. And sometimes no one can really help you; they might give you advice but you're the only one who can try it for yourself.

Keep looking forward, pressing on. Only you can forge the future you want.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Making Room

Been clearing my room progressively. All useless things of no sentimental value must go.

Photos & journal entries hark back to days long past. Of earlier thoughts, events and seasons.

Oh how we move on...

We all have memories we want to discard. We thought we already did, but they bubble up, sometimes unexpectedly, from the recesses within. Perhaps memories are as powerful as you ascribe them to be.

Whatever's happened in the past, don't be beholden to it. It doesn't determine your future. Today's choices do--unless you choose to do nothing.

How do you know you've room for new things in your life? It's certainly not just about diving headlong into them and expecting instant adaptation. It's not about juggling more and more things together, because some will quickly fall from the lack of focus. So what is it?

Accomodating through space and behavior seems to be it.

Without the new, the mundane & routine dominate.

Make a choice.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mentalist



Homeland - Putting your finger on suspicions

Though a drama, yet the terror radicalist situation it depicts feels real and quite believable. Because the issues are close to its nation's heart: of war veterans and their psychological wounds and of a war that is ongoing as shown by recent events.

What captivates must be its 2 central characters: an CIA agent battling externally through rogue means and also battling internally as well to keep herself together and functioning; and a soldier recovering from terrors of war whose malintent is played out gradually and whose tortured mind is revealed through flitting memories and demons.

What gives us tenacity to cling on to a mission of eradicating an elusive enemy through all possible means? Is it loyalty to a cause and to one's country? Is it to vindicate one's hunches and actions?

Stay tuned as more is revealed next.

Breaking Bad - What your gut is capable of

Pressed by circumstances in life, it seems everyone and anyone can turn to the latent dark side. Life can be tough and cruel. It's all about how we choose to respond, isn't it?

Unmet needs feed our addictions which some try to hide and deny when confronted. The need to be accepted, affirmed and loved. The need to do something purposeful in life employing your abilities. The need to fight on when your survival is threatened.

The line on morality is drawn into question: How far would you go to save yourself and to give up what you've tried to hold on to?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Plans

Change comes about when you take action. Progressive change is when the action is according to the plan you have determined.

What's your goal? Are you convicted that it's a worthy one and your motivation is right for you?

Have a plan of action.

If it's a problem to be solved, you need a plan.

If it's to enhance your quality of life, get a plan.

Even if it's to discover something completely novel and untrodden, I'm pretty certain a plan is still essential.

Plan practical steps to break routines, change ways of thought, learn new ones, form new connections, explore new places...

You'll get there. You only simply have to get started.

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Change



(chānj)
• To undergo transformation or transition.
• To go from one phase to another, as the moon or the seasons.
(Courtesy of www.tfd.com)

If we want to move into a house that is bigger, better & more posh than the previous one, I guess we'd better leave our baggage and old keepsakes behind. Wouldn't want the clutter of old to come along with you, would you?

With each change in life, there are uncomfortable moments of uncertainty and perhaps anxiety. But better to be drawn and motivated by new opportunities than to dwell on the past. It's not easy to unshackle mindsets and familiar ways of rationalizing and doing things--sometimes it takes another to point it out--but if we don't try...what if we end up like the frog in the slow-boiling pot, or worse, flash-fried frog! 反求诸己 or self-awareness and self-checking is definitely a good thing to have.

I recently read Entrepreneurship: From Idea To Success by Farhad Foroutan-Esfahani. An anecdote about seeking answers in the proverbial "Book of Answers" struck me. Its moral summarized: The learning and discovery is in the journey--no one can tell you the answers from the onset.

With our each moving on from one [blank] to another (replace [blank] with job, life stage, marital status, social group etc), uncertainty is always present. Hopefully it is the new pasture that's beckoning. Or if you can't see it, then start taking steps to find it. At least I know I will--gonna take 1 step, and another, and another. And if I take the wrong step, God help me.

It is better to finish a matter than to begin one... For now, all I can simply do now is to close the previous chapter, however it happened, and move on. Self-berating helps no one, I've found, and least of all, yourself.

Look ahead. Look up. Look far! The rest of the journey's just begun!

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Life Mission


Why would a man risk his own life just to capture tumultuous events on film?

Watched a documentary on photojournalist, Philip Blenkinsop, and was struck by his lack of fear and trepidation. What drives him?

"It can be depressing. You spend time with people under constant threat, but once you've actually spent time with these people, and you have put the pictures out on the world stage through magazines, and you have actually arranged to draw attention to these people and bring them to the politicians who you think it should matter to, and make a difference, you realize it doesn't change a damn thing." ~ Taken from here

See his work here and here (warning: disturbing graphic images)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Reel Ideas



1. 那些年,我們一起追的女孩

Romance and aspirations of your youth, remember them? Of doing silly things that you don't really regret?

Feels like a while back.

One character in the show said, "我想成为一个很厉害的人,因为有了我,让这个世界,而有一点点的不一样..."

Whatever life throws at you, just hold on. Does your heart bury one thing while in pursuit of another?

Well, gotta realize what matters to you. Else regret is inevitable.



2. The Amazing Spiderman

Having already decided to take a beginning leap of faith towards a mission to save the world (literally), things can line up in your favor to aid you along. And if you don't take that step, you won't even know this and experience this.

Perhaps lack of success and even failure can happen. But in the eyes of others and especially the One, we want to see you keep on going. Our hearts are sustaining you.

Well, there are heroes in this world. There are also hero-supporters and enablers in this world.

Take a leap...at the right moment.



3. Bernie

Do many good deeds negate a wrong? Does it matter how a person lives his/her private life if many people around are being helped?

For sure, what takes place in the dark eventually comes to the light. Fully revealed, do you even like what you see?

Live a life that is true to yourself and to the right values.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Consumption

Finished reading "Freedom", a novel by Jonathan Franzen. Meet 3 characters who fell for each other in their own way and even as they grew older, they never saw what it was that truly brought them joy and acceptance. It's a book about, well without saying enough, finding love, parenting, holding on to ideals, self-discovery... These folks never quite gave up their pursuit of that thing till resolution does come many years later. The amazing scene for me was when P made a desperate attempt to get back together with W and they finally saw eye-to-eye with each other. Everybody makes mistakes in life, but it's how you learn and move on from them that matters.

Also read "How Starbucks Saved My Life", a short autobiography by Michael Gates Gill. Was touched when Mike persisted in calling his doctor to help his boss's uncle who was having heart difficulties. I think meaning and purpose really do come from everyday moments where actions meet needs. I'm not writing book reviews here. That said, if you need a jolt on which direction to pursue in life, you should pick this book up.

Watched "Cool It", a video about Bjorn Lomborg, a gutsy yet sounds-sensible environmentalist cum professor who is controversial for disputing with recognized bodies on the cause and seriousness of global warming. What seems most sensible in the video is simply that we should put things in perspective: For the solutions that we want everyone to implement, what are really the benefits and necessary costs, and could we better invest these resources elsewhere? And go back to your motivations: Are they more fear and emotion-driven than being rational to examine other possible causes?

Monday, June 04, 2012

Moving On

It's less about the passing of time but about taking responsibility, being positive and shaking the dirt off one's feet.

In the face of uncertainty, the risk of failure is...there. Don't want to regret, don't want to worry, but to plan ahead and then to let go.

Joy rekindled is what I need.

Silence

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Onward

Hands that are used to washing & wringing clothes over decades continue to do so.

Memories of past decades, earlier times & deeds (& misdeeds) etched but slowly fade.

How much can one go through in a lifetime--life, death, loss & joys? How much can one eat & enjoy?

Surely onward we continue, upward we aspire. A better new day of happiness & fulfillment we hope of.

Don't give up, most of all, on yourself.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Sense & Sensibleness


Cousin's wife passed away on Saturday morning. She's 36yo, chirpy personality and, as my uncle describes, a brave person who endured braved a 2-year battle with breast cancer. And none of us knew of this.

We sat with my uncle, Uncle Jack, at the wake and though his eyes were a little red, he was upbeat and talked on and on. Cousin looked worn. He was occupied with other well-meaning visitors.

My uncle said some things which I want to remember:

#1 - Whenever Ah Gong (grandpa) calls him and asks him for something, Uncle Jack would agree even before Ah Gong completes the sentence. My grandpa is 95yo, practically blind and his hearing isn't good. So, as uncle put it, he has to deal with B-O-R-E-D-O-M as he can't watch TV or listen to the radio. Most of all, Uncle Jack says, do what you can now--don't regret on the day Ah Gong passes away.

#2 - "I'm an adventurous person. I've tried MANY things." Even as he related how he used to be a "tang kee" (spirit medium), he thinks it was all hypnotic trance-inducing hocus-pocus. Man of little fear he is.

It's not for me to compare my uncle with myself or my own dad. But there is much good sense to be caught for one's own life, wouldn't you say?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kishi Bashi: NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert



Kishi Bashi is the pseudonym of singer, multi-instrumentalist, and songwriter K Ishibashi (born November 4, 1975). Born in Seattle, Washington, but growing up predominantly on the east coast, Ishibashi has recorded with and toured internationally as a violinist with such diverse artists such as Regina Spektor, Sondre Lerche, and most recently, the Athens, Georgia based indie rock group of Montreal, of which he is currently a member. Ishibashi is also the singer and founding member of the New York synth rock outfit, Jupiter One. In 2011, he started to record and perform as a solo artist, opening for Sondre Lerche, Alexi Murdoch, and of Montreal. He will support of Montreal on their upcoming spring 2012 tour. Ishibashi has a side project called Cop Gravy, he plans on releasing his first EP under this moniker on the Joyful Noise label in late 2012, it has the tentative title "I Lost My Wrestling Match To Davey Pierce On The Big Black Bus".

Read more on Wiki...

Monday, May 07, 2012

Positive Change

Truer than true, youer than you. Don't want to regret at the end of your life?

Could I have worked harder? Nah... Smarter? Oh yeah.

Spent more time with friends? Definitely.

Watched Coldplay's tribute to Adam Yauch and the lyrics went, you've gotta fight for your right to party.

Be remembered for what matters to you. Imagine your eulogy.

Live with joy, purpose &...gratitude.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Restitution

When you done wrong
when you took too long
Guilt lingers.
Where does closure come?

Expect scolding
Wrath
Words that...

Goodness me, what am I to do??

Forgiveness we all seek
Restitution I guess we should make.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Weekend in revue

This weekend marked the 10th anniversary of Sun's crossover project. We ended by singing the song, 愿意为你. Amazed I was by all that was shared. But most of all, what touched me was the love that Pastor has for Jesus. The willingness to obey, no matter how trying it can be.

You can't say, "Having done all" unless you've truly done & been through it all. And that will be the real test of your temerity & willingness.

Awoke to the same haunting chinese lyrics.

Caught Trainstopping: 2011 The Year In Review. Hilarious, well-delivered yet also suitably poignant in its recall of infamous events & phrases. A great beginning for this brand new company.

Now taking the train home as I type this. Public transport, essential, experienced everyday, taken for granted most of the time.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Real Life

Man approaches to ask for money - $1.50 - for supposed bus fare. I think he's begging to feed something else & I decline. He walks away & I notice he's got a decent looking watch on. He turns the corner & turns again onto the pavement in front. I look at him, he looks back & I look away. Suddenly I wonder about my safety and Singapore's supposed surreal safety.

Boy breaks loose from grandpa who's still holding his older sister's hand. He dashes a little onto the road while grandpa yells. Grandpa lurches forward, grabs him roughly & scolds him. All this while there's no traffic on the road. Sister's silent. I carry on walking.

Dad scrubs sweet potatoes with kitchen sponge. I think about the germs on the sponge. Now what would you do next?
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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Identity

The way we talk, dress, move... The things we value, activities we do, the people we associate with... Our attitudes and perspective...

Alone or together, you see it.

The person you want to be. Who you see yourself as. What you want to embrace and pursue. Who you allow to speak into you and challenge you to transform your ways?

Get out of your own skin, yet be true to who you are--do you know who you are?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

End Goal

Instead of asking what outcome is defined for one, how about asking what we want to see achieved?

The word's been given, hasn't it? Glimpses of the future are caught...

Should we quit asking what's next, but start planning what's next? Realisation, as long as you can still do something, didn't come too late.

What kind of change, movement, shift do you want to see? Don't stop there. See it? Outline it.

Follow your heart and you shouldn't go wrong. Divine correction brings you back on course if you veer off. Peer support makes it easier to get through. But you--you're the driver. Or co-driver, should I say?

Active is a state of keeping balance by moving forward--like unicycling, a friend recently shared. Forward, back, forward, side, forward for sure. Thoughts might be raw, views inchoate, but in time, character and conviction and right daily choices will see you to the end.

Monday, March 05, 2012

Polarizing

Why is it wrong to use public funds to profit a private entity even when it is expected to lead to public good? Why is it lamentable that the powers that be aren't doing enough to redistribute wealth to help the underprivileged? Why is it sad that iconic buildings that encapsulate memory and meaning are torn down to make way for new progressive developments?

Issues, problems that we tangle with daily, they demand solutions that are effective, sustainable and some would say, equitable. Whatever their interests, we elect leaders to lead us in the future. Yet no man-made governance is perfect, no man-leader is faultless.

I would say, collectively, intelligently, creatively, we together gotta each make a difference.

From awareness to being equipped to acting out your conviction to fine-tuning and constant innovation, positive change comes through...well, the heart, really.

What provokes you, stirs you, impassions you to action?

Value the good values that will ensure posterity.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Swift

Wine skin. Paradigm. Heart. Epoch. Underwear.

Figured the common denominator?

When the rules of the game gotta--What's the game anyway?

For profit? For social benefit? For staying above the water?

Beyond the novelty, what keeps one coming back for more? With many mouths & hearts to feed, who do you target?

Listen and feel the wind. What's rising? What's falling?

Learn to surf and ride the tide. Away the rip that pulls you under. New lands, new shores, new heights to conquer.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

No music, did you realise?

Power is the capacity to apply your strengths as needed--or not needed.

At what point does a tortured soul turn maniacal? Tortured by others yet not seen by others. Without an other, what grinds and tests one's reasoning and maturity?

We don't always have an answer. We don't always need to know.

If I could fly...soar...speed...thrust through the air...can I escape gravity? Reality?

Morality, what a word. We don't need to philosophize, but what is good? Okay, too big a question. To what extent is it okay to expend or hurt something that seems trashy for the sake of getting and saving another of importance to you?

Moving through the day, activity, tasks, completion, progress...What gives one sufficient vision to realize where you actually are?

Awareness illuminates. Reach out with unseen hands and fix the pieces of your future. Muscles unused don't grow. Unused muscles will feel raw, weak, but given exercise AND nourishment, they grow.

Strength to strength, you can do more. Do what, you ask?

Liberty given, liberty lived. Don't be captive to the chains and weights that can be easily broken. Easily is not an easy word.

Turn on the music. Life should be enjoyable, fruitful and legacy-building.

Monday, January 30, 2012

King of the Lane

Come to terms with (fill in the blank). When a disruptive event occurs and you realize something precious to you is lost, the correct thing to do is to change, to adapt and to make reparations.

What if you can't?

What if, at that point, you start to see yourself for who you are, and the other in more clarity?

Then the ground gets pulled from under you...

Life is brief. Read Psalm 90.

Serving the needs and expectations of superiors and others is important, isn't it? When one's attitude is apparent for one to see...can't close eyes and shake it off...

Worthy of pursuit is--not activities with temporary gain--the realising of deep-seated purpose. Like rain reaching through the ground and meeting the water table.

Find that purposeful living and make it yours.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

****prints in the sand

One night I had a wondrous dream.
One set of footprints there was seen,
the footprints of my precious Lord,
but mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared
and I asked the Lord, "What have we here?
Those prints are large and round and neat,
but, Lord, they are too large for feet."

"My child," he said in sober tones,
"For miles I carried you alone.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
but you refused and made me wait.

"You disobeyed, you would not grow.
The walk of faith you would not know.
So I got tired, I got fed up,
and there I dropped you on your butt.

"Because in life there comes a time
when one must fight and one must climb,
when one must rise and take a stand
or leave their butt prints in the sand."

Writer unknown

An Animated History of Human Communication

1965 Educational Film about the Telephone

People

This week, two people in the pool caught my eye as I lapped past them. One was a paraplegic with shrivelled legs who was swimming front crawl in an effortful manner. Maybe he's used to people staring, well, it takes some degree to guts and self-acceptance to bare himself like that.

The other man whom I didn't notice at first had a three-lined scar centred on his chest. I imagined the doctor cutting through below the rib cage and then snapping through the sternum. Explains why he was swimming slowly I guess. Perhaps recovering post-op.

Whatever that brought us to where we are, are we letting it have a stranglehold? A baggage that's familiarly heavy? A wound that we keep picking?

Maybe someone else is looking at you and wondering how you came to be. Maybe the scars or limitations aren't obvious... Are we living like they're there?

Live strong, I say.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Holstee Manifesto

Thoughts of Artistry

It's about working with the gifting that we have, I told a friend yesterday over coffee.

Was Van Gogh's life a tragedy? Or more accurately, a tragic life that left a deep legacy that will continue to affect thousands? Plagued--yes, constantly wracked and worn--by insanity, talented before his time, loved and supported by his loved one to pursue his art... Makes you wonder what's the best way to leave this world? ...and the best way to live in this world?

Dare we pursue what we're created for? What if there's no promise of success and prosperity and all the comfortable markers of making it in society?

Reading T.L. Friedman's books and watching programmes which lay out the case against rampant globalization, ravaging of the natural environment, nature ravaging us in turn, the ill-privileged poor, it really makes one wonder what one is doing to tackle or at least acknowledge social problems around us?

If I want to leave a legacy that ripples and that future artists can leverage, what must I do?

Find a cause--or let it find you. Gather up courage. Stir up creativity within, sometimes without. Then carry on!

Thing is, we are who we are. Like Elphaba, green as can be, yet finding home and ease in a city as green as she. Each needs acceptance, to be hugged and embraced by people. Finding our place, no matter how quirky or unique we think we are.

And remember this, the human spirit is indefatigable, even in death--that is, if he or she so chooses. What makes one give up? What makes another persist?

Rise above your feelings, rally up your daily passion, and be the artist you were meant to be!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Let Go

By Jess Penner

are we or are we not hanging like icicles from the rooftops we are growing in the cold taking shape and taking hold because this is our time now

I know that things are so different than you imagined but you imagined so donʼt stop now because weʻre gonna see the dream before we drop drop drop drop down drop drop drop drop down oh oh

let go let go let go itʼs gonna be ok ok I know weʼre gonna fall fast yeah but then real slow youʼre gonna find your wings have finally grown (let go let go let go)

I swear I swear sometimes youʼre just so serious itʼs like youʼd crack your face with a smile If you forget yourself for a while the world might crumble in

let go let go let go itʼs gonna be ok ok I know weʼre gonna fall fast yeah but then real slow youʼre gonna find your wings have finally grown (let go let go let go)

are we or are we not hanging like icicles from the rooftops we are growing in the cold taking shape and taking hold because this is our time now

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Tell Me A Tale

By Michael Kiwanuka

Tell me a tale that always was,
Sing me a song that I'll always be in,
Tell me a story that I can read,
Tell me a story that I believe.

Paint me a picture that I can see,
Give me a touch that I can feel,
Turn me around so I can be,
Everything I was meant to be.

Lord I need loving,
Lord I need good, good loving.
Lord I need good, good loving.

Show me some strength that I can use,
Give me a sound that I won't refuse,
Tell me story that I can read,
Tell me a story that I can believe

Tell me a tale that always was,
Sing me a song that I'll always be in,
Turn me around so I can be,
Everything I was meant to be.

Lord I need loving,
Lord I need good, good loving.
Lord I need good, good loving.
Lord I need good, good loving.
Lord I need good, good loving.

Swimming Through Life

The same medium, all human, but each goes a different stroke, a different goal & a different pace.

Is the aim to be the fastest? The least splash? Or the longest influencing ripples??

Maybe we look at another and think we know better, we can do better. Seriously, not everyone wants to be coached.

The odd is, when others start to leave, the awkward competition stops and you want to get out too.

Stick it till you complete your laps. Routine but surely there's an end in mind, no?

Liminality by Obsquare

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Where are the courageous men?

We choose. To act. Not to act. To accept ourselves and the choices we already made.

Good or bad, it's sealed. Now what matters is how you're responding to it.

Equipped with more knowledge & experience, we should be making better choices. But often we go back to the same. Because "that's who I am"..."That's how I've been feeling"..."I don't like to..."

If you don't know what to say, don't say anything--that's something I often hear internally.

If the situation arises and your precious is threatened, courage will arise. If the cause manifests itself, courage will arise.

Ask yourself what kind of person you want to be, what would you do differently if the same thing happens? Perhaps that will help guide our choices.

Life should be pursuing what matters. We know this but not always what matters. That's why clarity and confirmation matter.

Foster the right thoughts that'll help you make right choices.