life, love, Uncategorized

An open letter to my Lover

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Hello to this (super overdue) first post of 2017! I swear I had the intention of writing sometime early in January, but I guess the intention wasn’t strong enough (hah) and I ended up delaying this entry till now, when a quarter of the year is nearly gone… where did all our time go?

For a quick location update, greetings from Birmingham, the UK! It’s Spring here. But in all honesty, it feels more like perpetual Winter if not for the occasional sightings of yellow Daffodils and hearing the sweet songs of birds every morning. The local shops have started selling gardening essentials for the upcoming planting period – strawberry (which we intend to buy this weekend), blueberry, raspberry and cherry tomato plants are out in full force. Clearly, it’s a beautiful time of rebirth and growth – the season for creation and beginnings has come.

A few months back, I was back in Asia but I was hardly stationary anywhere.

Out of the 6 months I was there, I was only back in my homeland, Singapore, for less than half the time. I spent close to a month in Bali, before travelling frequently to various cities in China doing my personal development training and coaching work. As the year ended, I spent my last day of 2016 counting down to the New Year in Birmingham, the UK. Upon my return to Singapore end January, I busied myself conducting leadership seminars for SIM University, revamping my business and creating new ideas.

As you can tell, it was all action and no rest back in Asia. And I loved it – it’s a privilege to be doing what I love doing the most and getting paid for it. It makes me feel alive, it leaves me wanting more. I could do this forever.

Now I am back in Birmingham, a place I never imagined spending parts of my 2017 in. Other than spending all April in California next month, it seems like I will be spending most of my Spring and Summer here. Ask me a few months back, and I would have absolutely no idea that this was in the plans.

Whatever made me leave the sunny tropical weather (which I obviously love) to spend time in the (not enticing at all) chilly cold must have been very, very compelling.

To cut to the chase and spare everyone the mushy details, I fell in love. Totally cheesy, but yes! This is what it is 🙂

You guys know me by now – whatever I do is always driven by Love. The Love for life, the Love to be free, the Love to be who I choose to be, the Love for my dreams. But moving to a new city for romantic Love is something new altogether. Foreign, exciting, but at the same time, very scary.

Just like many other things, there is no security blanket in taking this leap of faith. There is no guarantee because things and people are always fluid and changing. Thus, pressing the restart button to find a possible partnership with someone else is nothing less than daunting.

It stirs my heart with a weird concoction of joy and trepidation. Being vulnerable has always been a scary thing to me, and this time it’s no different.

For a start, let me introduce you to the protagonist of this story. His name is Balint 🙂

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too cold brrrrrrrrrrrr

The beginning of this union sounds unbelievably like a scripted romantic movie plot (think Before Sunrise, since there was a train involved and we sorta only spent 24 hours together). I was on a train from Serbia to Hungary one afternoon. Halfway through the journey while engrossed in my Kindle reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, a towering, handsome bloke broke my concentration when he asked if the seat opposite mine was taken. We started chatting for the rest of the remaining 3 hours journey, about everything and nothing (topics I remembered were feminism, something we both are passionate about, the galaxies, parallel universe(s) and a handful of other whimsical topics). We arrived in Budapest and he invited me to dinner. I declined, since I was rushing to meet some friends from the Nomad Cruise at a bar. Instead, I invited him to my gathering. We ended up hanging out for the next 20 hours (despite being severely sleep deprived and hungover at some point) before he took off to Birmingham where he is residing now and I left for Milan the day after. Truth be told, I never had any expectations of meeting this man again, nor was I looking for more as I was going through the phase of learning to love myself (as opposed to someone else). But he wrote me every single day even after I came back to Asia, we started talking regularly, and I eventually flew to Birmingham to visit him over the New Year. The rest is history.

I guess there is only one word to describe this entire episode and it is Serendipity. We don’t decide when Love comes and we can’t look for Love. Love looks for us.

These days, I haven’t felt a day less blessed. I am truly grateful and thankful for having this wonderful man in my life, someone who is incredibly patient with me, makes me laugh (when he’s not annoying me), and most importantly, makes everything feel like this is meant to be the way it is.

However, I’m not going to sugar-coat my words and say that everything has been a walk in the park. Funnily, relationships always bring the best and worst out of us. In fact, this union reminds me time and again how relationships take an incredible amount of effort to grow as a unit. I had spent the last few years learning to love and live with myself and the idea of being in a partnership and living with someone else again has become a distant concept. It’s no longer just about my existence, but our existence.

Things get a little more complicated when two strong-headed (aka stubborn) people meet – we both stand firm by our beliefs and don’t back down easily.

But day after day, I am learning.

To start, I’m learning a great deal about what respect and compromises are. To really see and understand another’s viewpoints and stands, even though I may personally disagree with them. To not get personal with things. To learn about agreeing to disagree. To learn about cultural differences and ways of doing things. To learn about fighting fair. To learn to constantly open my heart and trust that we both have our best intentions at heart. I learn his ways. He learns mine. We learn to be rock solid, strong and unshakable.

Moving to another city for another is no easy feat (Felicia, your courage still awes me day after day). On the superficial level, it looks like you simply choose to pack your bags and go. Yay to new adventures! However on a more realistic level, it also means the willingness to forego whatever that was working for you back where you were residing and going somewhere to create something new all over again. Opportunities, family, friends, work, a life. Yes, pressing the restart button all over again, but this time around without entertaining the thought of leaving on a whim, unlike how I could in the past since I was globetrotting all by myself. Someone else’s feelings, life and dreams are parts of the stakes now.

If we think learning how to love ourselves is magical, wait until we learn how to love someone else. There’s so much humility, grace and gentleness in it. It’s beautiful, really beautiful.

To my hunny bunny, thank you for teaching me so much about Love. That Love is patient and Love is kind. Love is compromise. Love is letting the small things go. Love is forgiving each other. Love is watching each other’s back. Love is picking battles. Love is having absolute faith and trust in each other. Love is letting go of control. Love is thinking not just for me, but us. Love is treating each other as equals. Love is unconditional. Love is supporting each other to our wildest dreams. Love is always choosing to believe in each other. Love is giving each other the benefit of the doubt. Love is always encouraging each other despite calling each other’s bluff. Love is being honest without the intention to hurt. Love is hugs and kisses. Love is the vulnerable intimacy that some of us have forgotten about. Love is being free with each other. Love is adventures. Love is conquering our joint worlds together. Love is creating the space for each of us to be the best individual we can be. Love is being independent. Love is unleashing our own powers so that we can support each other. Love is flying high and free in each other’s arms.

I love how you always make your stands and never give in to mine without a good fight. I love how you give us space for things to tide over by themselves. I love how you teach me how to fight fair. I love how you embrace the strong, ambitious and independent woman I am, always supporting me to be the best I can be. I love how you handle my occasional idiosyncrasies by making fun of me (in a dangerously skilful way…). I love how you are always so giving and thoughtful, and how your little gestures always make me joyfully teary. I love how you always make me feel like I’m yours. I love how you always stand by my side. I love how you always crack me up. Geez, I love hanging out with you so much because it can be SO, SO FUN (when you’re…I mean we’re not grumpy hahaha).

Like I’ve mentioned, there is really no guarantee to anything in the world, and I’ll be lying to you if I told you I haven’t asked myself if all that we are doing is worth it at all. But I had a moment, a defining one that made me comprehend that this is well worth my gamble and risk. Ironically, it came when we had a squabble. After the hurricane passed, I remembered lamenting to you about our differences. But you looked at me and simply said, “well, we will learn the ways of each other then”. And that’s it. We kissed and made up (out). And then made dinner or something. We moved up and on.

That incident reminded me that I have so much to learn about compromising, respecting and listening better. Also, instead of seeking differences, we should be seeking commonalities – it’s all a matter of perspectives. It’s not that hard if we choose to see them, and your statement reminded me that we will be doing that together. Just like many things in life, if we keep focusing on the scarcity between us, we will never see the abundance and magic we can create.

That was monumental to me.

I am writing this open letter to you because I am, in a way, fighting my own fears of being vulnerable. Baring my heart to another person has always been an inner tug-of-war but I’ve also learnt that we should always walk towards what scares us the most and take risks in life. I cannot think of a better way to express my gratitude of having you in my life now, and it is something that I do want the whole wide world to know 🙂

So thank you, my hunny bunny, for the amazing times we are having. We learn, discover, grow and play together. I am learning to love both you and myself wholly and fully, because the only way to unconditionally love someone else is to first love ourselves unconditionally and knowing we will always be in abundance to give. I know I have been guilty of focusing on the things I have missed out by being here, but it is really my own perspective and I should be celebrating this opportunity (hello London?!) more than anything else. You have always been patient with me and I can’t be more thankful of your love and affections.

Thank you for being you, I love you so much for you being you. I looked back on this entry I had written while still living in Argentina and it makes me all teary eyed sensing that you are part of the reason I am on this journey. Here’s to our many more adventures to come. All my love, hugs and kisses ❤

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inspiration, life, love, motivation, travel, Uncategorized

The long journey back home

 

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Nothing is closer to my heart than dancing Tango. This is my favourite milonga I’ve gone to so far – the open air milonga right in the middle of the mountains in Kolasin, Montenegro during the Montenegro Summer Tango Camp. We danced in the rain and then in the setting sun, perhaps the most romantic and beautiful experience anyone could ask for

Hello there my dear,

Has it been almost 5 months since I’ve written here? Wow, time flies. It’s almost half a year since I left Buenos Aires to continue trotting around the globe in my sporadic, nomadic fashion. And the paths of fate have brought me to Milan, the city I am in now. It’s so funny I tell you; yesterday, I was still living in Budapest, nestled in a wonderful loft apartment which I would love to call my own. And the next moment, I feel like I’ve been teleported to another place altogether. That’s essentially how my life in the last 20 months has been – unpredictable, a teeny weeny bit crazy and nothing really fixed at all. If there’s one thing that can disarm the super planner in me to be more embracing of uncertainties, this journey of fluidity has been nothing short of exhilarating and rewarding.

At this moment, my brain is bursting with loads of radical, new and intriguing thoughts. At the same time, my heart is filled with a zillion and one emotions, because it seems like I am going to be heading back to Asian soil soon for a bit.

It has been almost 2 years since I embarked on this journey, driven by dreams of freedom, creation and euphoria. Metaphorically speaking, I am going to be home soon. To be in the continent where my roots and cultures are, to be near my family, to be close in physical distance to my supposed nearest and dearest.

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Sharing some of my favourite European Tango moments captured in stills. Dancing in Lisbon, Portugal

It is also funny how we tend to be contemplative when we head back to somewhere familiar after being away from it for a bit. How we place the idea of home in our heads, how we wonder if we can fit into a place we used to live in again.

Am I excited to be on home ground again? Oh hell yeahhh. I can’t wait to see my hunny bunnies, to be engulfed in familiar, heartfelt conversations and laughter. Where I can sprout the infamous Singaporean English aka Singlish flawlessly, and be understood everywhere I go. And the GLORIOUS (OMG) FOOD!! Damn, I’m all prepared to put on a few kilos with all the feasting that will surely ensue *giggles*

However, the interesting thing I’ve realised in this journey is that home is really not home.

Home is not a place, because the latter is merely an illusion of comfort and stability. On the contrary, home can be anywhere. Home to me at this point is the world, simply because the world has become my playground.

It doesn’t matter where I am, as long as I feel secured within me. It doesn’t matter if the environments are unfamiliar, as long as I feel connections. And connections are not as rare as I initially thought them to be – I’ve met incredible people, some whom I’ve formed unexpected bonds with, others whom have deeply enriched my life. Almost each and every person I’ve met has taught me a lesson or two about life, lessons that I am deeply appreciative for. To all the wanderers, lovers, friends, acquaintances and naysayers I’ve met, I only have gratitude that our paths have crossed at some point in our lives.

I’ve learnt that home has always been with me, inside of me. Home has always been about accepting and loving people for who they are. Home has always been about loving and trusting myself enough to know that I know the best for myself. Home is not about unnecessary fretting, but taking things easy, trusting that it will all turn out good and having fun on the ride. Home is realising that I don’t need to seek anything else to complete me.

Home is realising that I am complete.

I have always had the travelling bug in me since forever. After completing university barely a couple of years after teenhood, I took all my money in my bank account, had a backpack and headed off to Europe with no return ticket, coming home only when I was penniless, scrawny like crazy but way happier. I continued exploring the world as a flight attendant for almost half a decade. After flirting with the corporate world for a number of years, I left again and continue my journey of exploration, combing new places and finding new inspirations.

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I had the privilege to have my first Tango performance on the Nomad Cruise right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean!! A truly unconventional venue indeed 😉

As much as I didn’t want to admit, perhaps, a large part of me travelled so much because I was looking for a place to fit in. A place where I feel complete. A place where I could be me. A place I could call home.

After trotting 50 countries, I realise such a place does not exist.

I should be devastated, but I am not. Because I’ve finally learnt that home has always been with me.

Before that, I looked for places where I felt accepted and not judged. But the thing is, I probably judged others to feel that. Home is how I accept the present, people and things for who and what they are.

I looked for places where people could love the true me. But people can only love the true me when I embrace all of myself – the good, the bad, the happy and sad. Home is where I love me for all that I am.

I looked for places where people and societies fit my expectations – but expectations are ironically there to make this conquest impossible to achieve. The more I have expectations, the more nothing fits. Home is loving people, places and things for all that they are.

I searched for cities where my opinions were valued and heard, that I could be the strong woman I am and not feel guilty about it. That place doesn’t exist. Home is accepting and making choices for myself to be this woman I am, to be true and authentic in my own skin, regardless of what everything else tells me. Home is being comfortable and happy being me.

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More dancing photos! On the Nomad Cruise in the Atlantic Ocean

Home is accepting me for who I am. Home is bringing inner peace to every moment I spend. Home is feeling the raw excitement when I do something I am passionate about. Home is advocating causes true to my heart without feeling conflicted. Home is trusting that I know that I can trust myself.

We all have our demons in our closets, and they have been with us in our journeys of life for many years. And the demons will always be there. I know my demons will not disappear; they will always be a part of me. A lot of who I am today, my beliefs and my reactions are largely results of what I had experienced earlier in my years, and these demons are part of who I am.

But that doesn’t mean I give in to them all the time. Hell no. These days, I have firm conversations with them, telling them to stay where they are in the closet while I go out, have fun and pursue the life I want. Stay where you are hunnies, you aren’t gonna control me anymore.

When we choose not to focus on past pains and fears, we can truly live and experience the present. And suddenly we realise that life has so much to offer. In fact, there is abundance in every day. And there is nothing, absolutely nothing to lose, but only more love, compassion and connection to give.

These days, I have been writing lots of articles and embarking on projects revolving around the topic of facing fears. In fact, I’ve started my own life coaching and personal development training business (visit http://www.janetan.net !). And whilst I’m still waddling and figuring my way in this entrepreneurial journey, I have come to recognise how often I have allowed fear to drive me in my daily life.

Fear of getting hurt. Fear of being undervalued. Fear of abandonment. Fear of not being loved. Fear of being incomplete. Fear of not being accepted. Fear that I’m not good enough.

Such a shame to live life this way.

Home is when I let myself live life through the eyes of abundance – that I will always have love to give, always have love to receive, that I am complete in my being, that I do not need more.

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Another quiet moment dancing in Lisbon, Portugal

Home is coming home to me. And coming home to me, allows me to come home to so many people important in my life. My dearest family, my closest friends, the random strangers I meet.

Home is a place filled with love and comfort. And home is not an inch further from where I am now. I just keep practising going home to myself every day, and the journey is beautifully liberating and fulfilling.

I’ve met many people who have asked me the same questions, “Jane, when are you going to be done with travelling? Why are you travelling so much? When are you going to stop and settle?”

These days, I just smile and giggle, because I have nothing to reply. The thing is, I don’t have a destination. This is a continuous journey.

It all started when I was an idealistic (still am), bright-eyed 18 year-old girl who dreamt of creating a global village somewhere out there in the world. You see, I’ve always had this humongous dream of a world thriving on love, acceptance, mutual respect and freedom, where conflicts don’t exist (except for maybe the cute, harmless squabbles that are resolved in a moment or two) and people live together in collaborative and supportive systems, backing each other’s versions of their dreams. I remembered sharing this dream with some of my friends back then, and all I got was, “wow, you are way too idealistic, girl.”

But it is this vision that propels me to do what I do even till today. I travel to understand how universal human beings are. I explore to encourage, support, love and cheer others to do what resonate in their hearts. Sometimes I can be overly emotional and impatient, thus coming across as pushy and maybe, scary (heheheeheee). I can be overly direct and morph into an absolutely painful, stubborn mule. But I do it because I love deeply and fiercely. It can be very painful and hurtful to be misunderstood, but I keep letting my vision guide me towards my dreams of love.

We just let the negativities go, laugh over them and keep focusing on what we want to create. And trust that the good things will come.

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Dancing in the rain…it was such an amazing experience! In Montenegro

The truth is, the travelling is not actually my primary goal. It is a by-product of this bigger dream I have – to empower the people I’ve come into contact with know that they are accepted for who they are and are worthy of the dreams they have. And that’s why I do what I do. The travelling is just part of the process that brings me closer to my dream.

Will I stop travelling one day? Maybe, I’ve absolutely no idea. I am at the disposal of my vision. If my vision requires me to stop, then I will stop. I will go anywhere that my vision takes me to.

However, to all you dream seekers, soul searchers, freedom fighters and the works, keep your beautiful dreams going. And don’t let anyone tell you that you cannot get there. You are worthy of the best life possible, so don’t let anything or anyone bring it down for you.

This is just another pit-stop, just another location. Home is where the heart lives. The journey continues.

Meanwhile, watch me as I fatten myself up in the lovely South East Asia. Damn, I can’t wait to be back to my 2nd home soon 🙂

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all my love, hugs and kisses xoxooo

 

 

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inspiration, life, motivation, Uncategorized

The beauty of a pause

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Starting a series of Tango-related photos with one at the opening night of the new milonga, La Veraniega. Nothing is more beautiful than dancing under the open sky with a generous amount of wind on an unpretentious basketball court, with familiar Tango melodies playing off vinyl records

Happy first post of 2016! I hope the first month of the year has been fantastic for you so far. Summer is getting really hot and humid here in Buenos Aires (hello mosquitoes, mehhhh) but I’m always more of a sunshine girl so I’m not complaining 🙂

Last year this time, I just arrived in Rosario, Argentina for barely a week. It has been a year since I embarked on this new journey and new way of living. It is surreal, thinking back to the courage and conviction I had then to drop everything for this gravity defying move.

One year down the road, I’m still in the same country, albeit a different city. I’m currently nestled in one of my favourite cafes here in Buenos Aires, writing this entry that I would have never imagined penning. I thought I would have visited and stayed in at least 3 countries as I had planned, have exhausted my entire travelling kitty fund and might have moved back to Singapore to embark on a new career. I might have gone back to my banking job. I might have started a new way of working given my normadic lifestyle. I might even have eloped with a man for love ;p I thought I would have gained endless amount of wisdom and happiness. I thought, and I thought, and I thought.

It had been a fanatical year, and a big, grand one indeed. When they say life always works in opposition, it’s absolutely true – we can never predict or control what life throws at us next. It is also true how powerful yet powerless we human beings are – there are so many great things we can do, but also so many things that we cannot control.

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One of my favourite milongas, the unpretentious and hippie Cafe Vinilo, has re-opened its doors again! (credits to the person who took this lovely shot)

When I first got back to Buenos Aires from Singapore, I was desperately searching for my purpose of being here. I had no frigging idea, except knowing that I wasn’t ready to be back in Singapore. I felt the compelling need to define myself. It sucked feeling like a useless bum who was “floating around”, “wasting” money day after day instead of doing something constructive that was “value-adding” to a supposedly fruitful and productive life. Never mind that I was learning Spanish from zero, never mind that I was learning to dance Tango from scratch, never mind that I was learning new things about myself. I just could not see concrete contributions and it was pulling me down.

Perhaps, I saw how my friends were progressing materially when I was briefly back in Singapore and got terrified. They had achieved so much socially in less than a year, but time seemed to have stood still for me. Plus the guilt I felt towards my family. Then I met people whom I had held in high regards disagreeing with my way of life. In some sense, I was seeking for approval but didn’t get any. Truth be told, I felt unsupported. I felt alone. I felt inferior. I felt scared, small and stupid. Really stupid. And in a bid to protect myself, my defence mechanism was triggered and I desperately wanted control of the situation. I tried “forcing” a meaning to the path I was taking.

The need for security, albeit a false sense of it, was taking over me.

Obviously, anything that goes by force will never be sustainable. For the last couple of months, I subconsciously sold myself back to my fear of things. Fear of being useless. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of the unknown. Fear of being stupid. Fear of being judged. Fear of loneliness. Fear that I will never be loved. Fear of the other zillion and one things the universe threw at me. And the scariest part of it all was that I didn’t realise I was fearing so much because it was so easy to be eaten up by it.

Unconsciously, I got myself stuck in a pathetic, miserable rut. I probably had the label “Miss Grumpy” plastered all over my face and “Grouch” was definitely suitable as my middle name.

I got increasingly fed up with things and myself. My attempts at finding answers were really not working and the frustration escalated at an alarming rate.

It sucked. Really sucked.

I was desperate. And annoyed. AND PISSED LIKE HELL.

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Caught in action, looking *very* serious

But here’s the irony. A fiery and wild heart sometimes brings miracles. *sheepish grin*

It was the same frustration that ousted me out of my self-imposed prison. I remember waking up one morning severely in need of fresh air and new space in my head. And because I felt so trapped and sick in the guts, I recklessly stuck my head out of the rut and gasped my first breath of oxygen in a long time.

AND DAMN, IT FELT SO GOOD.

At that very same moment, I realised how thick-headed I had been. I didn’t want to torture myself anymore; I needed a break from all these heavy duty stuff. I wanted to go with my heart and have fun again.

Comedic as it may sound, the solutions presented themselves right up my alley the moment I stopped trying to find them. When I decided to embrace the uncertainty and let go. It was akin to a fog clearing since the paths had been there all along. I just never realised that they were there.

That’s when I learnt that a moment of stillness is not necessarily a bad thing after all.

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Dancing with a great lead at De Querusa

And of course, I found another teacher in the dance, Tango. It has also played a big part in teaching me appreciate the beauty of a pause, allowing me to learn that I do not need answers to everything. At least not now.

It is a paradox since I had earlier intentionally wanted to move away from Tango. I had a ton of sentiments associated with it that I wanted to erase from my memory. But as the old wise saying goes, what you resist always persists ;p

What can a girl do when the fight is futile? I decided to let go and let it be. I stopped resisting and controlling how I was supposed to feel, and faced the feelings that I had been avoiding squarely instead. I know it sounds scary, but guess what? I not only found the beauty of the dance again, but also got reminded of why I fell in love with it in the first place. Perhaps this is what Love is – to keep trusting what we believe about someone or something, and to keep letting the negative associations go.

I’ve allowed vulnerability to take over me again as I danced. I started going with the flow of things. I used to fear the suspense of a pause, the discomforting moment when I felt helpless because I had absolutely no clue to what the next move would be.

Now, I am learning to embrace the suspense. When my partner stops, I stop with him. When he pauses, I give him that extra second more to communicate with me. When he builds the suspense, I build it up with him. When he does something to surprise me, I create the space and allow him to deliver the magic.

It all happens in split seconds. And it has been incredibly funnn 🙂

I found myself enjoying the dance so much more. So playful, endearing, fluid and intensely exciting. I especially love it when the moves are firm yet gentle, definite yet light-hearted. Oh, and the magical embrace and connection. I feel like I am having an exclusive conversation with my partner, and that beauty is priceless.

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At La Bicicleta

Embracing the pause has also taught me to hold and occupy my space. In the course of it, I have inevitably learnt to trust myself, that I will know what to do when the next moment comes.

The idea of letting go, and of giving space to allow things to enter, are invaluable gems that I’ve gained these days.

It’s ironic, it really is. More often than not, we keep our hearts closed, especially when we are hurt to prevent ourselves from getting marred further. Letting go and being vulnerable sound like the dumbest things to do. But when I threw myself out into the open again, it has, on the contrary, given me a new sense of strength, courage, and liberation. And having new-found space has allowed me to create new things and to see unbiased, unadulterated answers. It has given me new energies.

Where did I find all that courage and strength? I have no idea. It just came.

Where did the hurt go?  I have no idea. It just disappeared. Maybe, I allowed myself to be open and started seeing people for who they are again. When we focus outwards to others and recognise that life doesn’t just revolve around ourselves, the negativities often melt away.

So many times, things happen to make us doubt our visions. We start questioning our beliefs and in ourselves. We wonder if trusting the good is stupid. If being open, vulnerable and loving are just naïve and foolish concepts that hopeless idealists believe. That goodness is overrated and we need to guard our possessions and our forts.

That we need to be selfish.

I probably lived the last couple of months in this manner. And I was absolutely miserable.

Because deep down, I know this is not what I wanted and believed. To me, a life and world filled with generosity, love, compassion and passion is so much more worth living.

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A world-renowned milonga that I have come to love, Salon Canning

In the last few months, I’ve learnt to live so much with myself, for myself and by myself. I’ve had miserable times with myself. I’ve had fights with myself. I’ve also had beautiful moments with myself. I’ve literally, been in a relationship with myself and the journey of accepting me for who I am has been a rocky road well-travelled. The good and the bad, the naughty and the nice.

And now that I have once again chosen to embrace my life and open my heart to everything again, I know that I’ve made this choice despite everything I’ve experienced. There’s no need for external validation, there’s no need for others to tell me whether it is right or wrong. Because it’s simple; nothing, absolutely nothing, can destroy my vision of how a beautiful life should be.

It has given me the excitement, motivation and desire to believe in all the things I had lost sight in for a while.

I couldn’t have seen all these if I hadn’t allowed myself that break and appreciate the beauty of a subtle pause. A moment to breath, a moment of respite, a moment of silence from the deafening crowd.

The same pause has allowed me to reconnect with the present and see the answers I have been seeking all along.

I now remember why I made my bold move to embark on this journey in my quest for autonomy and freedom – time to be back in action.

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My latest favourite workplace, Libros del Pasaje in Palermo. Plus a douse of gorgeous sun 

P.S. I love summer, I really do. It’s now 8pm and I’m still shrouded in sunlight. Life is good 🙂

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Becoming me

punta del este 1.jpgsunny skies, packed beaches and lovely summer in Punta del Este!

Hola a todos desde Uruguay! I’m in Punta del Este now, a beautiful (but expensive, urghs) coastal beach resort with the most azure skies ever. I love beaches!! I’m a certified sunshine girl 😀

It has been a while since I wrote. With the festive spirit in the December air and the joys of summer infecting Buenos Aires, I have been out more than ever – cafe hopping, restaurant searching, milonga raiding, bar exploring. Also, my laptop has recently started making this weird, annoying whizzing sound (IT experts, it is going to explode soon?) and it makes contemplative writing really unconducive. Hopefully, blasting some upbeat Hot Chip/Gorgon City/Calvin Harris over my speakers now can assist me in crafting out possibly the last entry of this eventful year.

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the famous La Mano by Chilean artist Mario Irarrázabal

I’m actually at a loss to how I should start this entry. Words are currently in a tangled mess, all jumbled up in my brain. My thoughts are aplenty but they are dashing through my mind faster than I can crystalise them.

I don’t even know where and how I should begin sharing the experiences I had rode through this year.

It has been a series of conundrums, all back-to-back, side-by-side. And I can’t believe it all happened in just a year – I was just telling my friends yesterday that I felt like I’ve lived 3 years, minimum. I have had such a compact accumulation of experiences.

I had been happy, really happy. I had been sad too, really sad. I had experienced pure excitement, with fireworks exploding in my eyes. I also had my fire extinguished, was shrouded in temporal darkness while I desperately sought my way. I had found love, I had experienced bliss. I had lost love, and had experienced grief. I had found new beginnings. I had experienced heart-wrenching endings. I had gained freedom. I had lost certainty.

Time and again, I am reminded how almost all things in life are impermanent. Experiences come and go, emotions form and disperse. Nothing really stays, and letting go is almost an absolute necessity.

There’s something really simple in the theme for this entry – becoming ourselves, becoming me. It’s about going back to basics, going back to the beginning of things. The funny irony is, we all know that the simplest of concepts are often the toughest to grasp and the hardest to understand 🙂

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gorgeous sunset with the most brilliant of colours

Life in Buenos Aires has gone back to the comfortable drone that I love. Calm, quiet, sometimes contemplative, but often exciting. There’s something new to discover and learn every day. I’ve made a concerted effort to get involved in activities other than those Tango-related. Feeling determined to learn my Spanish well, going for other artsy events, visiting cafes and bars which I absolutely dig, meeting interesting people (some of whom have become great friends), conversing feebly in my broken Spanish (which often end up in a terrible mess after a couple of drinks since my brain can’t function while I’m slightly tipsy). Going with the flow of things, listening to my instincts, without any expectations of what’s right or wrong, logical or otherwise.

It’s fascinating how far I’ve come, considering the fact that I took the plane to Buenos Aires two months back with a really heavy heart. A mish-mash of guilt, uncertainty, melancholia, sadness – it was largely a bag of negative emotions. I left Singapore not because I didn’t love her or enjoy my life there, but I knew I wasn’t ready to be home. Maybe it was the hope of going back to the life I loved in Buenos Aires, one that was easily the best I had experienced in a while before I left unexpectedly. Maybe it was the hope of having the same magic recreated again. But as life turns out to be time and again, nothing ever goes as predicted. I came back here realising how everything is still the same but totally different. I came back learning that I am truly on my own, starting from stretch all over again.

I couldn’t help but feel overwhelming sadness, guilt, even stupidity. I went through this whole phase of seriously doubting my decision of quitting my job and coming back here to “just live for a while doing alternative activities”. I mean, often, that equates to being an idealistic bum with no concrete goals in life. Or rather, from the part of the world that I am from, this is the associated connotation.

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what I am doing everyday for this week…I can totally get used to this 😉

I had beaten myself up, asking myself why I gave up my life of comfort back home when there was, in reality, nothing waiting for me at this side of the world. It was part of my illusion, a big one on hand.

And all the things I had to handle back home.

Disappointed parents. Concerned sibling, relatives and friends. A series of expectations, perhaps some of them self-imposed. I was trying to find the balance between being responsible and being selfish.

I had been stressed. Really stressed. Because for most meetups I had with various people back home, I armed myself with a series of intelligently planned answers to justify why I was coming back here. To justify that I knew what I was doing.

To justify my life.

But I hated it. I hate trying to find a purpose when I can’t see it. In fact, I hate the need to be answerable to anyone else for my life. I know I sound like an ungrateful daughter, I know everyone back home loves me and is concerned for me, but it was just too tiring.

I didn’t feel good about myself. I felt silly and stupid. At some point, I lost trust in myself.

But knowing how stubborn and thoroughly unreasonable I am, I went with my gut. I packed my bags and left. And no, I still have no concrete plans. I know I said I had, I know I had started a training consultancy company. But you know what? I did all that to placate the alter ego in me that was freaking out. I had to pacify my logical mind telling her that I have great things coming.

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Punta del Este mildly reminds me of Honolulu, Hawaii

In reality, I want to do none of those. At least not now.

I’m so over trying to over-analyse everything.

One day while sitting at the balcony of my friend’s apartment here in Buenos Aires, I got really tired. I felt battered. I felt exhausted.

And at the same time, I got really pissed with myself for putting myself through all these silly examinations. If I had passed or failed. If I had been too selfish. If I had hurt the feelings of the ones I loved by doing what I wanted.

It was absolutely crazy. And I got so angry with myself. I really did.

We are all our own biggest critics. We ought to be kinder to ourselves.

For one, I’m so over trying to be the lacklustre domesticated doormat that I was not made to be, thinking that was what the world desired of me instead of my radical feisty, passionate self. Thinking that it was the way that I could finally find worth and love, and be accepted for who I was.

What was I thinking and why was I rejecting me?

I’m not perfect. And I don’t intend to be anymore.

I’ll rather be real and authentic. I’ll rather be human.

And the interesting thing is, I’m certain I’m not the only one in this journey of “becoming” a better person. To be kinder. To be more understanding. To be more philanthropic. Yader yader. We all go through that at some points in our lives – it’s universal.

I’m not saying those things are bad; they are in fact, great. Just that, when did we stop trusting ourselves that we have been that all along?

When did we stop trusting the person we have been all this while?

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the mandatory tourist shot 😉

We, human beings, are a funny bunch. We often see our negative traits, and we always forget to acknowledge ourselves for our unique, special and irreplaceable sides.

We are so much more beautiful than we think ourselves to be.

Recently, I’ve also been reminded of the wise words my grandmamma used to tell me all the time – be content and be happy. And no one can make us upset if we choose to be happy.

I think I am finally beginning to understand what she means.

How I feel day after day, is all a matter of choice and perspective. I can wake up and thank the fact that I’m breathing and alive. I am grateful for the sun. I am grateful for being here, doing what I truly want. I am grateful for my freedom. I don’t have to focus on what I lack but be grateful for what I have.

And it is absolutely true that no one can make us happy but ourselves. Happiness doesn’t lie in what others do to us – happiness is found within. It is only when we are truly happy and comfortable with ourselves, can we find the courage, kindness, compassion and empathy to fully connect vulnerably with another.

It is about embracing ALL of ourselves – the good, the bad, the ugly and the kind. Even the parts where we are embarrassed about – perhaps it’s time we learn how to laugh at ourselves 😉

For example, I pretended that I didn’t need to look fancy at some point in time. I pretended that I was happy living off 2 dresses. Truth be told, I DREADED IT. But why did I do that? Perhaps, I thought that was what was expected of me, this other image that I had created and felt the need to conform to. Yes, the simplicity of the idea was nice and all, but I am honestly too vain to not miss my fabulous hair, occasional beauty treats and my variety of pretty clothes. I miss my wide array of killer heels and fancy bags. Guilty as charged. But that is me, I love it and so it shall be 🙂

I finally feel confident and vulnerable enough to embrace the unreasonable, uncompromising and unrelenting side of me. And trust the woman I am.

Life is really simple and uncomplicated if we keep trusting our hearts and going for what we want. And geez, I am excited about what new experiences that will come knocking along my way.

For now, I’m (still) the city girl roaming off the beaten paths of the world, because the world is my oyster. And I’m gonna do it simply because I can.

And that’s what I wish for all of you too. For nothing but gorgeous days, and hearts full of love and courage to live the lives we have been blessed with. To keep loving, giving, being kind, compassionate and vulnerable. To keep being strong and brave. And most importantly, to keep embracing ourselves in all of its entirety.

Here’s sending you all my love, hugs and kisses, along with some sunny rays and fine white sand from the lovely Punta del Este.

Happy 2016 my dearies!

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Welcome to my unreasonably real life

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A photo of my current unreasonably real life… it’s Spring in the city! ❤

Saludos de Argentina! Time flies and it has been a week back in Buenos Aires. I love Spring! Hello sunny days and the cool, gentle breeze 🙂

It has been a whirlwind since my return. Travelling for 2 days across 3 planes from Singapore to Argentina (I know, ouch), scouting for apartments that I like (I’ve found a lovely apartment in the bohemian/Tango barrio of Almagro, yay!) , throwing myself back into the Tango scene, researching (feebly) on Spanish classes I can take again, thinking about my pitch for my new training consultancy company (yes, I’ve started my own thing!!), a few to mention.

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My wonderful new neighbourhood of Almagro, home to many tango maestros and bohemian bars

Unknown to many, I left Singapore this time round with a lot more trepidation and uncertainty. And an even larger, bottomless pit of FEAR. Simply because things are different this time round; I am no longer going on a long, adventurous and spontaneous South American holiday where I had a time frame of a year to spare. I am no longer leaving home with the cushion of having a job to fall back on in a year’s time when I am done with my wilful, free-spirited travelling. In layman’s terms, I have more stakes on hand by making the choice to return to the city I am in today. And because these seemingly “life-changing” decisions can only be made by myself, they become a lot more real, stark and heavy.

In addition to that, I have left home again despite disapproval from my conservative but well-meaning Chinese parents. Good job Jane.

I have left my familiar and comfortable life back in Singapore to come start anew, where people don’t speak my language and in some sense, I have become a minority. Good job Jane.

I have conveniently pressed the perilous red “restart” button when my peers are progressing steadily and have conventionally achieved way beyond me. Good job Jane.

To summarise, I have succumbed to my massive mid-life crisis. Great, fantastic job done Jane. *un fuerte aplauso*

I have left home failing to justify to my family and friends what exactly I am going to be doing here – I have an idea, just not a clear, concrete master plan yet. Not that I believe in hardcore planning anymore – I know, a massive WOW for this checklist girl and hardcore planner that I used to be. But I’ve learnt that over-planning doesn’t actually give us the security we desire. Honestly, how many times have life really panned out in the exact way we plotted for it to? Case in point, it’s not worth losing sleep over.

I have packed my bags to return here despite all pragmatic odds against me. Logically, it doesn’t make sense and I acknowledge that.

However, the heart (once again) was in a crazy diva mood. She was kicking up such a big fuss of not wanting to be caged in a life driven by the expectations of others anymore. And I knew that if I were to ignore her, she would throw a mighty fit that I may not live to survive (LOL).

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Heaven sometimes comes in the form of a bookstore 🙂 The famous El Ateneo Grand Splendid

I know it doesn’t sound logical, and it’s hard to explain.

I can’t think of a better analogy than falling in love.

When is falling in love ever logical? But when has the occasional results, more often than not, proven to us that logic does not always transcend in this unexplainable world? I have yet met a couple still happily united in love who hasn’t gone through a rough patch in their journey (for that, you have to read this lovely entry by my beautifully talented and inspiring friend, Felicia, who moved halfway across the world for love).

I believe in the deepest of my heart that a worthy relationship isn’t supposed to be always all rosy and nice – we aspire for and work towards that, but to think that all great relationships have zero roadblocks is the biggest of delusions. When shit hits the fan, we persevere, steadfastly honour the faith and ride through the storm together. That’s a love worth keeping, and look at the many wondrous results it has created. And even if it doesn’t pan out in the way we desire, no one lives with regrets. We can still hold our heads up in a dignified high and know that we had loved well with all our hearts.

Similarly, that’s how I see living life as. While the things we desire to pursue may not always seem logical, deep down in us, we sense, or intuit, that they might be well worth it. I know I’ve said it one too many times, but that little voice in us always has the answers (even if it doesn’t, this classic by Mark Manson might get us started on something fun).

I still remembered scrutinising the world atlas when I was still in university, and my curious-Bambi-eyes landed on South America. Nope, not just South America, but particularly Buenos Aires, Argentina. I’d heard wondrous stories about the city, culture, vibe, music, arts, romance, people – and all of that resonated with the then juvenile, naïve and impressionistic me. A friend of mine had also just returned from a visit to Buenos Aires and said that she could see me fitting snugly into the city. And that was kind of it for me. I remembered guilelessly telling myself then, “wow, I want to live there one day.”

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Colourful walls of houses in La Boca

Time passed and we forgot our dreams. We went on to live the so-called real life that everyone else told us to – get a great university degree or two, study even more to be more qualified on paper, get a job with a big conglomerate so that we can have a borrowed sense of worth from these big names, keep acquiring things so that we can prove to societies that we have reached their approved levels of affluence.

I went with that for the longest time. True that I had done some alternative stuff like trotting the globe on a backpack right after graduation and extending my wanderlust fantasy by joining the aviation industry, but I also very quickly allowed myself to get suckered into the automated thread-mill of life and work. I too, carelessly forgot about the rapid passing of time. Jumping on the bandwagon makes all things easy, but it also blinds us to the things we desired to do when we were much younger, with bigger and clearer dreams in us.

When I was back in Singapore, almost everyone I had spoken to kind of insinuated me to get real with life. Of course they didn’t mention it literally that way, because it would have been rude and hostile. However, the idea had always been there.

“You left your job? Why? Didn’t you have a year’s break? So what are you going to do now? What’s your plan? What are you going to do in Buenos Aires? What, dancing everyday? What about your career? How are you going to survive? You’re young but not that young, so how are you planning for your future? Your retirement? How long do you want to do this? Do you want a family? How can you have one when you are moving around? Are you sure about this? I think it’s time to stop being so idealistic and moderate a little? Maybe it’s time to start getting real?”

And so on and so forth.

Before I go on, I understand everyone’s good intentions. I’m grateful that they care, and I always will be. I know that being real, being ruled by money, is how our modern day society requires us to be. I’ve never fought against the importance of money – it’s honestly silly to do that. I’ll rather work with money in tandem; I just don’t want my life to be bought over by it anymore. After all, I’ve lived at least the last 8 years of my life being a full-fledged corporate slave after clipping my wings with the airlines, and I’ve seen the beautifully savvy life money can buy us. So yes, I see how vital money is for survival in today’s world.

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Beautiful artefacts on graves at the famous Cementerio de la Recoleta, where the iconic Eva Perón was set to rest

Looking back on retrospect, did I like my corporate days? I did to some extent. I loved the sense of achievement. I loved it when I got tons of recognition. And of course, the ability to purchase and splurge made me feel semi-invincible.

Did I hate it? Oh, hell yeah too. I’d become another woman altogether. I was direct, often blunt and painfully quick to judge. I could make decisions in a second by switching off my emotions so that I didn’t have to look back on them and feel bad about it.

Did I like the person I have become? Hell no. I’d become so guarded and suspicious of everyone. I’d almost become cold and uncaring. Unfortunately, the corporate world often requires professionals to be street-savvy and put tangible gains and power as the top prizes for the game. So watching our backs, being judgmental and shrewd became vital skills for every corporate junkie to master.

Unfortunately, that’s a far cry from how I want to live my life. I value compassion, empathy, kindness, love and authenticity way more. I want to surround myself with nurturing people who love with big, generous hearts.

My deep desires just don’t happen to fall into the paths of what everyone else is doing.

Taking the chance has allowed me to be where I am today, living in the city where I had naively chosen when I was still a wide-eyed innocent girl brimming with dreams. Honestly, who could have imagined that one day, I would land myself here despite it being unthinkable and seemingly improbable? But that’s the amazing part and it’s amazing only because of one reason – I chose this despite all odds.

I chose this despite it being really unreasonable and nonsensical.

And here I am, holding my own life by its horns, honouring my own words and promises. And it feels really, really sweet 🙂

My real life could have been very different. It could have been defined by what the society and others expected of me. But I now wake up every morning knowing that this is my chosen life, and the sense of empowerment and ownership makes me grateful to be alive every single day.

When people tell me to get real, I’ve stopped being defensive. I’ve realised there is nothing to defend for, or fight against. By the end of the day, the only thing that is important is that I am living the life I want. And as long as I don’t have to beg, borrow or steal, and can still live and support the life I have as part of my bigger vision, nothing else matters.

However when the next person tells me that this is not a real life and is merely an illusion, I might possibly (and politely, if I can help it) reply, “what are the reasons that made you conclude that this is a dream, and isn’t real life? What was it defined by, and by who? So how did you decide to choose your path?”

What exactly is real to you?

By the end of the day, there’s honestly no one we are accountable to for our lives, but ourselves. I’ll rather make a grand stand for mine, make it really real and live a damn good one.

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This is my real life now. My unreasonable, unthinkable, real life. And I can’t get enough of Malbec wines. I really can’t.

Sending all my love, hugs and kisses from Buenos Aires xoxoooo

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Living more with less

The past 5 weeks back home in Singapore has been a roller-coaster ride of sorts. Figuring out my next courses of action for my life (I know it sounds serious, but it’s really not as serious as it sounds :)), trying to re-understand love and lost love, re-adjusting to the ways of life in this tiny, power-packed country state, a few to name. Analysing what are the right things to do.

Perhaps, I am a chronic over-thinker. Perhaps, I have too much time on my hands. Whatever the case is, I believe it’s a blessing, a huge blessing. To be able to have this privilege to sit back, undistracted by novelties of life (à la South America) or energies expelled doing work that I know do not make me happier or more fulfilled (à la Singapore). To be able to have the space to gain clarities of sights.

I’ve come home the same yet different. Same in terms of my character, my temperaments, same in terms of who I am deep in me. I am the same granddaughter to my grandmamma, the same daughter to my parents, the same sister to my brother. The same friend I have always been to my closest of friends.

Yet I’m different. Different in terms of desires, different in terms of reactions to things around me. In my course of work inculcating Emotional Intelligence to my ex-colleagues, I’ve always advocated that behaviours change with beliefs. But nothing truly prepares us for the moment we see these intellectual theories live in action, right down our own alleys. And wow, it is honestly, pretty magical 🙂

For one, I’ve learnt to live with a lot less. Maybe a part of it is by circumstances, since I am not having a regular income anymore, but a big part of it is definitely by choice. I realised I really do not need that many material possessions to make me happier.

10 months ago, I took a leap of faith by leaving my job (and ended up with a counter-offer of a year-long sabbatical from work) and choosing a path of so-called instability by not having a regular income. At that point of time, my life was really cushy. I’d always had good paying jobs because money gave me incredible comfort and security. You see, I grew up in a very humble home, living in a tiny governmental apartment where my parents worked really, really hard to provide for my brother and me to the best of their abilities. Because my Dad is Malaysian and owned businesses in Malaysia, things got really challenging when the Singapore dollar rose quickly and steadily against the Malaysian riggit. Regardless, they kept going. My parents never once fought over money even though I knew we did face challenging times for extended periods of time. Though largely unexpressed verbally, their love for my brother and I is bottomless. I am a very lucky girl.

However, I also went to schools where many of my peers were staying in luxurious condominiums and big landed properties. They had the niftiest toys and gadgets. They had the most beautiful bedrooms and houses. They had the coolest birthday parties ever. And that greedy little girl I was then, also wanted all of that.

As such, money had always been a theme of my life since I was young. And the fears were real. I still remembered my Mom telling me, probably out of genuine desperation to get my grades better, “this is all that we have. If you can’t graduate from school, you will have to work.” And I remembered being scared shitless at the prospect.

And that sealed the decisions I took in my life thereafter – going to business school even though my heart had always been in social sciences and the arts, studying enough so that I know I will do well enough for bursaries and grants, working while I was studying so that I can have more pocket money, taking well-paying jobs after that because it really didn’t make sense to make any less.

Subconsciously, I gravitated towards jobs that could fuel that glamorous lifestyle I wanted. I excelled in jobs that paid commissions, I went on to the jet-setting life of a flight attendant with our national carrier, taking the role of the enigmatic Singapore Girl by donning the gorgeous sarong kebaya and leading a truly materialism driven life. I travelled in style. I stayed in luxurious hotels around the world. I partied hard. I dined and drank well. I had surreal, some dreamy encounters. I started my collection of excessive designer bags, leather goods and watches. I became a trainer with the airline and business travels were luxurious in First or Business Classes. I eventually wormed myself into the banking industry, because I knew that the banks will be great paymasters given the skills that I excel in.

The strategist in me had it all planned out.

However, the strategist in me failed to recognise that life works in strange ways. She failed to realise that as much as she has everything planned, there will come a day where the true desires of the heart will always win.

So much for being a hardcore planner.

The then-me would be horrified to know that I have chosen to be income-less for the last year, because that was an unthinkable thought and definitely unacceptable.  I would have thought that I was crazy and I needed to get real. Love does not pay bills.

But guess what? I did it anyway. I was so sick of leading a compromised life. I don’t want to sell my soul to anything that doesn’t matter anymore.

After taking the stash of money I had initially saved for a condominium to take off to Argentina last January, my life has not stopped blossoming.

In the past 8 months, I lived on nothing but 2 dresses, 3 skirts, 3 pairs of shoes, a handful of pants and some tops. Totally unthinkable, for someone as vain as me.

But I’ve never been happier.

I’ve immersed myself in my love for cooking, for dancing, for reading, for music, for being out on a clear Autumn day enjoying the beauties Mother Nature bestowed on me.

More importantly, I’ve gained incredible insights to what truly makes me happy. Not a swanky new car, not the trendiest restaurant, not that expensive apartment in the middle of the coolest street. The trees swaying their leaves in the wind, the clear blue skies, the gorgeous sunset over the horizon, the seaside, the beautiful mountains, the laughter of children, home-made food, beautiful conversations and moments, and the precious relationships with people – those matter so much more.

When I first came home 5 weeks back and looked at my bedroom stashed with my material possessions, the first thought that came to my mind was, “wow, imagine the amount of experiences I could have gained if I had used the money different instead”.

Am I ready to be a tree hugging hippie? Hell, NO. Hahahaa.  Like I’ve said, I’m too vain. I still love my dresses and I still love looking pretty 🙂

But I’ve learnt that it doesn’t have to be that extreme. We can still be who we want to be by owning less and living more. Expensive clothes or accessories don’t make me prettier. A nice design, a free spirit and a big heart do.

Last Monday, I’ve taken another plunge – I had informed my boss that I will not return to my job in November and had officially tendered my resignation. Yes my friends, I am officially jobless 😛

I have decided to return to the city that I am not done with yet, the lovely Buenos Aires. I’m going to learn my Spanish properly (I will get there!!), dance Tango like there’s no tomorrow and keep plotting to make my dream of being a global employee work.

Money is still important, because it fuels dreams. But the distinction is this – it shouldn’t run our lives. It is just another tool, and we should technically be using it to fuel whatever that is in our heart’s desire.

Is it a big leap of faith? HELL YEAH. Because I’ve decided to use whatever that’s left in my kitty fund to go make this happen. That is crazy scary.

I was out for dinner with two ex-colleagues of mine last night, and we were fussing over my friend’s new purchase of a gorgeous green Bottega Veneta bag. And at some point, my other friend said, “wow, look at what you’ve gotten there” and I replied, “thank gawd for my material past” before we all broke out in peels of laughter.

Whatever choices that we had made in the past, will never be wrong choices. I’ve come to see that there is no right or wrong choice. There is only the choice that resonates with us now, and it is never too late to start on a clean slate. Life is always in transition and is a journey of creation anyway.

For me, simplicity and simplification matter the most now. My desire to work with people with the vision to make lives better, my desire to engulf in my passions of dance and the arts, my desire to form the strongest, most solid relationships ever. My desires to live simply with a family I’ve created and my desire to be with a man who fully embraces me for who I am. Life doesn’t have to be so hard. We just have to keep the focus, drop the things that aren’t value-adding, and keep going for what matters.

Because we all deserve a life well lived. Not just me, but you and I.

I’ve stumbled upon this brilliant article written 2 years back in The New York Times. It is an oldie but still a goldie. It validates my belief that I’m not the only one seeking liberation, and most of us are perhaps (as unbelievable as it sounds) going through the same journey. Maybe, this article will provide some good insights for all of us 🙂

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/03/10/opinion/sunday/living-with-less-a-lot-less.html?mwrsm=Facebook&referer=&_r=0

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Love is all we need

Unexpectedly, my stay back home in the last month has been nothing but trying. Yes I’ve had wonderful, magical times, I’ve had the most beautiful conversations with those near and dear.

At the same time, it has been incredibly difficult.

Perhaps, it is because I have come to the point where I have to make concrete choices in my life, the pressures of surviving in the uber materialistic Singapore setting in from the very moment I stepped foot into my homeland. I still love Singapore like crazy, she is after all, my mother land. I am still incredibly proud of her success and achievements, and I love how incredibly diverse our cultures are. I totally LOVE Singaporean food. My family whom I adore so much is here. My friends from childhood are here. In my truest of heart, I will always be a true-blue Singaporean.

Just that this re-visit back home reminded me why I wanted to explore out of my comfort zone at this same time last year.

Singapore is beautiful, but I miss clear sunny skies. It doesn’t help that I haven’t seen the sun for a single day here because of the haze from Indonesia. Singapore is beautiful, but the hordes of skyscrapers and increasing massive crowds make me lost in the sea of people. I miss wide spaces, I miss being in nature and staring up at the blue, fluffy skies. Singapore is beautiful, but the socio-political situation here dulls my heart at times (granted, it is the idealist in me talking. Singapore is doing fantastic in comparison to many nations, just that my dream is for her to move towards a more feminine, forgiving and all-embracing society). Singapore is beautiful, because everything works to a perfect T, but we can get so incredibly demanding and impatient sometimes.

Singapore is beautiful because she never stops trying. At the same time, it makes me incredibly tired, because everyone is on a roll sometimes. Everything is about efficiency and speed. I feel that as much as many of us deny, we are a judgemental society, and we can get incredibly defensive too. Maybe it is our survival instinct, maybe it is the way we are hard-wired to be. We have a long way to go before becoming more accepting and gracious of what others think us to be.

As a result, I think I became another person here altogether. This may sound silly, but I have my grouch mood on more often than ever these days, haha.

First up, an update on my super grandmamma. She is like I’ve mentioned, super. She is recovering the best that she could, and I cannot be more proud of her. Her strength and determination inspire me. She is my number one love and will always be. At the same time, I’ve witnessed from this seemingly unfortunate episode that I have an incredibly supportive, loving and strong family. I’m incredibly blessed, I really am. And I can’t be more grateful.

As most of you have already known, I was very generously given a year off from work by my compassionate boss when I decided to tender my resignation last year, worn out by the drudgery of corporate life. And because I am due to return to work in November, the thing hanging above my head all September, is if I should go back to my well-paying banking job, the same one that gave me my material freedom and sassy life I had.

I’ve been very blessed to have opinions from many concerned family and friends, sharing their opinions with me. I know they shared because they love me.

Maybe it seemed simple. I’ve taken the first step to venture out. Why come back? Or maybe I’ve taken a year off. Why don’t I go back to reality and start balancing life out a little? Or maybe I’m not in a good frame of mind to make choices because I am clouded by emotions. I should just stay home, chill out a little more, before making my next big move.

The pressures are real. Especially when I am back here, all the material stresses come back revisiting, and I often ask myself if I had made a really silly choice by embracing my inner child, the same playful, dreamy girl who wants to make her life an incredible one. In this journey, there are still days when I question myself about the choices I have taken in this unconventional journey. Self-doubts still do set in.

What’s my dream, you may ask? Some people ask me if I am trying to change the world, and I can’t control my tickled laughter. Of course not my dears, I wish I was bigger than that. To me, the world will always be the world. It’s not about changing the world, but loving the world as it is.

My dream is perhaps as simple as yours, as pure and true as it is. My biggest dream, is to have my own family, the most beautiful one that I can ever imagine. My soulmate, my children, my dogs and cats. But what I want different is the kind of home I can create, the kind of wife and mother I can be for them, and the kind of environment for them to nurture and grow in. I want to be there with my kids when they grow up, I don’t want the Singaporean way where I only see them at night when they are off to bed just because I am slogging my day away at work. I want them to grow up free and happy, not burdened by extra curriculums and tuitions because everyone else is doing them. I want them to play outdoors in the gardens, by the beach, be laughing and playful every day. I want to be a supportive wife to my man of the house. Some feminists may think this is incredibly unambitious, but this is what makes me truly happy.

I want to dance Tango, because it gives me the simplest of joys. The connection, the comfort, the playfulness, the romance.

And I still want to do my training and coaching consultancy work, because I know I am good at it and it has given me incredible joy working with people and seeing their lives move to the positive spectrum.

To top it all up, I will love to be a global employee having the liberty to work remotely from anywhere in the world. I don’t like the idea of being tied to a spot. I want to be free.

That’s about as simple as it is.

I’ve also learnt that love is all we need. Because love drives us to our goals, to our dreams, to our actions. And loving without expecting returns, is truly the most beautiful thing on earth.

At the same time, I know I have gained my strength (and stubbornness) in this journey because of the love I have received from my nearest and dearest. My parents, whom I know still think I am crazy doing what I am doing, my incredibly loving and supportive big brother whom has always been that pillar of strength and knight in shining armour all through my life (I love you, kor kor, thank you for unconditionally loving this bratty sister you have :)), my innermost circle of friends whom I have loved and pissed off more times than ever, you did what you did for me because you love me and you have no idea how much it has given me courage and strength while I wild through this journey. Thank you for accepting me even though you may not understand, thank you for standing by me through rain or shine, thick and thin. And I know because of you, nothing, absolutely nothing, can ever get me down.

So for every chance I take and decision I make, I thank you.

And most importantly, the biggest love I have learnt to accept, is to embrace, love and trust myself.

If I don’t believe in myself, who will? If I am not convinced by my dreams, who can?

I don’t have to try so hard to be different. I don’t have to try so hard to fit in. Social expectations, whatever expectations, they are all the same.

I am who I am now, and whatever I do now, is the best that I can do. And my dreams, are my reality. The only way for me, is to love even harder, to be even vulnerable and to keep trusting myself.

The journey continues, and I will embrace it with my fullest heart.

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