Water off a duck’s back

This was a mantra I had heard repeatedly in RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 5 by the winner Jinkx Monsoon every time she had to stand in front of the judges for their critics. I was a little slow to understand why she kept saying that. But the moment I had the literal visualisation of those words in my head, I cannot get it out. It’s as if I could see the criticisms, the insults, the negative voices splash up from everywhere and slide off the duck’s tail. It is a pretty mental image. My duck is green with a little bit of white.

In work or life, it is inevitable that we hear others say or do things to us that are meaningless, unhelpful or even hurtful. We get affected, we want to react, but where is the end to that? More often than not, our inner critic could also be the one that is hardest on us. Can we let it go? Can we forgive ourselves? How do we embrace who we are completely without being overly critical or self-absorbed?

Surely it’s not as easy as water off a duck’s back?

But we have to start somewhere.

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Credits for gif to http://nakamorijuan.tumblr.com

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A Daily Choice for Self-Love

To say my new full-time job has kept me from writing in recent months is an excuse I probably should spare me. I had chosen this path of employment. And now I choose to do my best and be responsible for the work that has been entrusted to me. The adjustment to a new workplace environment is not easy (especially as one gets older), but I believe I am slowly finding my place of balance and belonging. I have discovered that sense of ‘belonging’ comes a lot from within, and being able to own oneself was a critical step in feeling belonged without the need for anyone else’s acceptance to affirm my being or becoming. This inner work will and must continue, because the struggle to fit in no matter how old or where we are is real.

I shall confess I also have had other distractions of late, like sex and dating. I was curious about how sex and self-love related to each other. I wondered if two people could have sex without any emotional strings attached. I wanted to learn how to communicate my feelings, my needs and my desires, in a way that I have never dared to vocalise before. I wanted to do things differently because my history of failed relationships must meant that something did not work. (Was it me?) But as I dug a little deeper, I saw there is still a part of me needing affirmations from others to feel okay about being me. The awareness is building up slowly and that’s great, but it certainly does not take away the self-doubt overnight. The unknown still scares me crazy, but I want to stay open and vulnerable.

This morning, I stood behind my door and took a moment to pause at my Vision Board. I read out to myself each post-it with my heart’s desires written from a few months ago but some of them no longer tugged at my heart’s strings in the same way as when it was first written. So I gave myself the permission to make changes to the Vision Board to make it as true and relevant to what I truly want in this present moment. I also made a mental note to myself that Self-Love is still a priority in my life and I am going to stop apologising or feeling bad for it. There is nothing wrong with choosing exercise over work, to be in my own recluse or even spending my time on what seems like frivolous activities like watching drama series even if it might seem irrational to someone else. All of us have different priorities in life, but we make a choice of how we spend our time every day. At the end of the day, we simply live with the decisions we have made or the consequences if any.

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Self-Love takes courage, to not conform.

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Resolutions and Becomings

I wanted to do an annual review for 2015 like Chris Guillebeau or Scott & Chelsea Dinsmore, but I am still sitting my ass on it till today. And it is now day 6 of 2016. I am becoming convinced it is not quite my style to go into such directive reflections of what went well and what did not. It is what it is, no? I do care about how I feel right now, and what I am becoming. So if part of that becoming requires me to dig deeper to challenge the old stories that I have entrenched in who I am today, then I must do the necessary work the best way I know how. That is why I am determined that my 2016 will be a year of self-love like never before. I want to focus on me. I want to do the things that make me happy. I want to have a more intimate relationship with me. I want to live bravely. I want to surprise myself. I want to feel alive. Right now, these are the experiences I seek and my resolutions for the year:

  1. Complete Brené Brown’s COURAGEworks Living Brave Semester online course (To get 20% discount off, enter the online code BRAVE2016 at checkout)
  2. Continue to see a therapist to work on personal issues
  3. Continue to practise gratitude every day and give thanks for the little things
  4. Continue to practise self-care in areas of health, sleep, diet and exercise
  5. Journal or write down a few lines of reflections every day
  6. Take up one or two classes/workshops in writing and filmmaking (For Singaporeans, do explore how you can use your SkillsFuture Credits to explore your interests)
  7. Learn to ride a bike and get a license
  8. Kickstart a new initiative or project at work
  9. Travel solo to Nepal for a self-love retreat
  10. Publish my first book 
  11. Get really scared doing public speaking and do it over and over again.
  12. Have a better financial plan in place and a substantial savings plan by the end of the year.
  13. Be open to new experiences and make as many mistakes as possible.

“I want this to be about living, about changing the way we show up every day in our lives.”

Whether you decide to have any resolutions or not, follow your heart and do what works best for you. Most importantly, live bravely.

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Make it a Compassionate Christmas

With a full-time day job recently in place, it has become more tricky to manage everything that I had initially planned to do. One of these included writing in this blog twice a week. However, I clearly need to readjust my own expectations, so I don’t beat myself up for failing to keep up. It means a lot just having one or two persons stumbling onto my blog every day even when I did not write, and I just wanted to take this time to say I appreciate you, whoever you are and wherever you may be, for being here even if for a moment. Life is more than coincidences, and we are probably not very different in our own pursuits and struggles, no matter where we are in our journey with ourselves. So thank you, for encouraging me to keep on writing just by being here with me.

With all the mindful habits I have been trying to practise over the past few months, it now becomes a real test as I find myself increasingly being surrounded by a lot of negative energy or thoughts of this world. It amazes me how natural it has become for some of us to be that voice of negativity, skepticism or cynicism for others, and trust me I do have my moments of lapses too. But we definitely need to be aware of it before we can fully own it or learn to filter out what we hear or say, otherwise it can be so easy to join in the negative talks or be affected by negative perceptions. We live in a world of many ‘should haves’ and ‘should nots’, expectations and boundaries that hold us back from becoming who we really are or can be. And that is why, when someone recently told me I can be anything I want to be and that I can do whatever I want to do, it actually touches my heart to receive these words of affirmation. The world needs more people with such compassion and eyes to see the positives in others so that we can help to support and encourage one another along the way, not step over each other to feel better about ourselves. So this Christmas, believe and receive with an open heart when someone says something kind to you, no matter how much resistance or doubt you might feel at the same time. When we learn to receive, we will find that we are capable of giving more than we ever imagined possible.

More than anything, be kind and gentle to yourself. And I do this by being mindful of the positives happening around me as well. I remind myself that there are things I still manage to do even with my day job, like keeping my exercise regime and making time for people in my life. I try to stay with moments of vulnerability or discomfort, and then give myself a pat on the back for braving through them. I also choose to take risks in different ways to learn and understand myself better than ever before. It is perfectly okay to feel afraid or alone sometimes. You are good, and believe me, you will only get better.

I wish you a Compassionate Christmas!

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The Challenge of Self-Love at Work

Today at my new workplace, my team decided to play a ‘game’ to get to know each other better. Everyone was allowed to ask anyone else in the room a question from a pile of cards given to them. Being the newest addition to the team, I had a couple of questions thrown my way which I did try to answer candidly until this: What are you most afraid of?

I replied instinctively, “Myself.”

I could have said “failure” or “public speaking”, but I had always known that my main stumbling block was Self-Doubt and it resided at the very core of who I am. And immediately after my response, I sensed there was an awkward silence and heard whispers that it was a “deep” answer. So one of them tried to probe for a more tangible fear and I decided to say “cockroach” this time around, knowing that it would be a much more socially acceptable response.

I was being honest with myself in that moment, but the fact that others might not have been so comfortable with my disclosure only made me felt more vulnerable in that moment. I felt Self-Doubt awakened and I regretted my response in that instance. I might have appeared too intense. I should have just said something lame and funny. Everyone would probably prefer a good laugh. It is probably all in my head, but I could not help wondering: Could I be my authentic self here and fit in snuggly even though I might stick out like a sore thumb as the girl who doesn’t drink alcohol, the girl who is health-conscious and doesn’t take much sugar or snacks, the girl with tattoos and a history of drug overdose (which was apparently necessary to declare during my pre-employment medical check up), the girl who is sometimes introverted and enjoys being alone as much as in the company of others, and the girl who is learning to say “no” more out of self-love than resistance?

More importantly, could I accept the girl that I know better now, even if no one else could?

First week in, it is already taking a lot out of me to step out of my shell to assimilate into a dynamic, outgoing work environment as I try to embrace FOMO for my own well-being. But I am also learning that I need to be extra mindful that there is a time and place to lay out vulnerabilities, and the meeting table was definitely not one for that. Not everyone may be keen or receptive to knowing too much or too deeply about a colleague or another person as a matter of fact too, and at least not the kind of details that may evoke certain uncomfortable emotions without a beer. So let’s pace it and take it slow. Let’s take the time to focus on getting to know my work, and do the work that matters most. It is after all just the third day of work and there will be many opportunities to build relationships at the workplace, even if I were to unintentionally miss out or intentionally choose to prioritise self-care (and being with loved ones) over bonding time with colleagues within or outside working hours today any other day.

The real test of self-love begins when you are amongst people you do not really know well (yet).

Stay brave and embrace the challenge!

Credits for gif to http://giphy.com

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