the year that was… 2014

Compared to the upwards trend of the past few years, 2014 was a bit rougher on me in terms of personal development. It certainly did feel like a rocky road all the way. If anything, the theme of the year would be ‘just keep swimming (or you’ll drown)’. So, the year of staying afloat it is.

Work was not a smooth sailing boat this year – way too many things happened that were out of my control and it led to a very stressful period of time where nothing seemed to be right. From the start of the year right up to year-end it was just one incident after another and there were numerous times when I was sorely tempted to just give up. And I did, in a way. Something had to give under the enormous pressures and that was mostly my inner self and personal life.

And yes, after nearly 4 years, I’m still nowhere closer to being permanently settled here. There is a certain routine and comfort derived from that routine, but I’m still hesitant to totally commit to being here in Singapore. Somehow, even though it seems like the practical choice to make, I don’t have that ‘feel’. This still seems like a transitionary phase for me – whatever it is, I know deep down inside of me that this is not where I’ll end up eventually. Call it intuition, call it a feeling of fate or whatever you may, but my instinct has not led me wrong before.

I certainly did slack off in quite a number of areas this year – things that I’m not proud of but at the time seemed like the only option. I let go of a lot of things that I just couldn’t find the energy to do or care about including my health, control on finances and relationships. Time to get back in the saddle next year! (That’s what I say every year, so we’ll see…) On a plus point, I’m hoping to end the year on a high note for my health (skin-wise) and I didn’t fall sick with any flu germs this year *fingers crossed*.

Lots of shows and outings in 2014 but even then I think I did cut back slightly when compared to 2013’s bumper list:

  • January – Notre Dame de Paris, Flying Bach
  • February – My Fair Lady, Ice Art, Dinosaurs – Dawn to Extinction
  • March – Singapore Dance Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet
  • April – Grease
  • June – Lord of the Rings The Two Towers with the Metropolitan Orchestra
  • July – Whose Line Is It Anyway, Jurong Bird Park, Nanta Cookin’
  • August – The Sound of Music, Rock of Ages, Cavalia
  • October – Matthew Bourne’s Swan Lake, Priscilla – Queen of the Desert, Stuttgart Ballet’s Onegin
  • November – Mamma Mia!
  • December – Singapore Dance Theatre’s Don Quixote

Travel made me very happy in 2014 though, starting with my memorable birthday solo trip to Korea in January. It was something that I felt strongly I just had to do and I’m glad I did. I returned to Korea again in May with my parents for our longest yet family holiday for 11 days! I managed to visit Hong Kong twice for work, and one trip to Jakarta. The parents came down to Singapore for their annual visit and they’ll be coming again in January. And finally, I’m rounding off the year in Bangkok – it’s the first time we’ll be celebrating the New Year overseas.

Seems like there’s nothing much to write about 2014 even though it felt at times like I was being put through the wringer at work. I looked back at my previous posts and it really feels like the person who wrote those posts is someone else, not me. Have I really changed that much in just 4 short years?

the year that was…2013

Time flies! At first I didn’t want to do a round-up of 2013 but I reckon it’s best to do so, especially after reading my 2012, 2011 and 2010 round-ups. I need to keep this snapshot of myself at this point in time so that I can remember what happened and who I was at that point in time.

2012 was a year of expanding new horizons. 2013 was an upward trend mostly and also of stabilization in some areas of life. I guess I’ll call 2013 my year of upward mobility. 😛

I had a promotion at work this year. Granted that it was only a promotion in title (and pay!) since I’ve held the responsibilities since mid-2011. Nevertheless, the expectations are still there and I will need to step it up in 2014, as I’ve been told numerous times by my boss. I’m still undecided and unconvinced that this is a place that I want to stay at permanently. One day at a time is still good enough for me and unless anything happens to change my mind, this is how I’ll play it out. No permanent commitment for me because I don’t feel the conviction to do so.

It was nice to have an increase in earning power and also being able to enjoy more little luxuries in life in 2013. There was a reality check though at the end of the year – everything back home is increasing in price and although I’ve been somewhat insulated by a stronger currency, it’s troubling nonetheless to know that if I didn’t have my current job, I would be in a worse-off state. Lesson learnt – I should not take it for granted and I will appreciate what I have now.

On a plus point, my health seems to have stabilized especially over the last quarter of the year. I think much of it comes from having settled myself emotionally. Trying very hard to stress less and accept things more. I’m not ignoring anything, but just trusting that it will all work out. If it doesn’t happen perfectly, what the hey, I’m not fussed about it. On the other hand, oh my! the weight gain! *hides from mirror* Time to seriously do something about it.

I kinda went on an event/ performance spree in 2013. Oops! Heheh. At first it was because Beetrice was leaving the country in July so we were really packing it into our schedule. Then it continued on cos there were too many shows that I didn’t want to miss out on.

  • January – Incanto, Jersey Boys
  • March – Coppelia by Singapore Dance Theatre, Le Noir
  • April – Savour 2013, Art of the Brick
  • May – Iron Man 3 movie night, meet-up with my old blogging pal the Simple American, Dirty Dancing, Singapore Dance Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Gala
  • June – Lord of the Rings with the Metropolitan Orchestra, STOMP Singapore 2013
  • July – Addams Family the musical, An Evening with Nederlands Dans Theatre, Phantom of the Opera with the parents for their anniversary!
  • August – Whose Line Is It Anyway, Beetrice’s hens night
  • September – #kbbw, Baby K’s 1st Birthday Party, Hairspray the musical
  • October – Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap, Company CSR event at the Singapore River Safari
  • November – Hunger Games: Catching Fire opening night, Swan Lake by the Bolshoi Ballet
  • December – Company annual Christmas dinner, Starlight Express, The Nutcracker by Singapore Dance Theatre, Chanel’s Little Black Jacket exhibition, Ice Art exhibition

There was also lots of travel in 2013… Bangkok (three times! work, play, work + play), parents’ trip to Singapore, Jakarta (work) and our big family holiday for 2013 in Hong Kong and Macau. psst… 2014 will be even better!

I’ve come to realize that as I age, my immediate family (presently still only my parents) mean the most to me. As they should be. While I can’t be there all the time physically and practically, I need to do my best to be there in all other senses. That meant spending all of my free time with my parents, doing things that we never got to do previously. I can’t express what joy it brings me to be able to give my parents – especially my mother, the best of what I can provide for her and how much I want to give her so much more. No matter how much I give back, it will never outweigh the many sacrifices she went through for me in my growing years. Even more so it is urgent for me to be able to spend more time with my parents and do more things with them as life is fleeting and we never know what will happen next.

This is my here, and my now.

the year that was…2012

I called 2011 my year of recovery. Looking at what I have at the end of 2012, I think it was a year of expanding new horizons.

2012 marked a whole year (2011 was just 9 months) of living away from my parents. I reckon I’ve gotten more independent in certain ways but I still miss them very much. I’ll always be attached to them in ways that only an only child will understand.

Work carried on as usual, and I adjusted to managing my own work portfolio along with little or no guidance from my boss. I learned to make judgment calls and also manage a staff under me. This was definitely a learning curve as besides these challenges, I also had to take on more new projects and reviews that I had not done before. It made me realize that although I’d had a fair bit of work experience previously, there’s a lot of things I have yet to learn – especially in playing the political game. I don’t like it and I don’t intend to play the game, but I want to stay alive in the workplace so I need to keep my eyes open. No promotion even though the responsibilities tripled. Earning power is still good though, as the currency strengthened quite a lot. I’m still undecided if this is where I want to be and I’m not committing to anything at this present moment. I’ve learned my lesson from previously jumping in head first into situations where I’ve had to dig my way out and ended up with battle scars. On the other hand, even though I’m comfortable, I’m also not entirely convinced that this is a place that I want to invest in. I’m just taking it one day at a time until I find what I truly want to do. Until then, learning new things doesn’t hurt.

Finances were much improved thanks to the earning power in 2012. I wouldn’t say that I’m there yet (far from it) but it was good to not feel uber-stressed about money for the first time in a long while. Although my housing loan will be there for many years to come unless I have some sudden windfall.

Health was a very mixed bag. Probably more downs than ups. Stress from work and too much travel made my skin go crazy! I think I’ve never had so many severe flare-ups in a year before. Last time it used to be once a year. In 2012, I was flaring up nearly every month and there were times I really wished I could hide in a cave and not come out until I was fully healed. I’ve decided that I’m not going to shirk it in 2013 and I will learn to manage and deal with my health better. My health and me should be my first priority in life. Other than the skin woes, I didn’t fall sick as often so I guess my immune system has adapted to all the bugs going around. No more weight-loss occurred this year and I think I’ve gained all the weight back. I want my slim self back! 🙁 That was a plus point of heartbreak.

No development on the relationship front. Part of me doesn’t want to have anything to do with the other gender while the other part of me longs for a family. I guess it boils down to the fact that I’m not willing to settle for what the world deems as acceptable.

I’ve also come to realize (and accept) that the kind of close friendships I had with people previously are not going to be replicated. New friendships have been forged but they just don’t seem to hit the kind of highs or closeness that I once had with others. Maybe I’ve closed myself off from that to avoid being hurt again. But I don’t feel the same way I once did.

I watched so many live performances in 2012 that I can’t remember them all. Lady Gaga’s concert and Annie! the musical for the parents’ 30th anniversary were definite highlights. I also caught a number of ballet performances – Les Trockaderos were in town and I also watched the Singapore Dance Theatre’s Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty. I also watched Ballet Revolucion and Burn The Floor. There was a local production of La Cage Aux Folles and Comedy Masala night. I think that’s all. Oh, I almost forgot the Air Show at Changi and the Singapore F1 Grand Prix.

Edit (8/1/13): Beetrice just reminded me that we also went for Avenue Q in 2012!
Edit (9/1/13): More additions after reading Beetrice’s 2012 round-up post that reminded me that we also went for the iLight show at Marina Bay, Savour 2012 and the World Gourmet Summit!

Most travelling ever in 2012. Family holiday to Hong Kong in March. Company retreat to Macau in November. Work-related trips to Indonesia (September) and Thailand (October). Attended a seminar in Hong Kong in November. Family holidays in Singapore – twice, once in July and for Christmas in December – and Penang (August). Towards the end of 2012, I was packing my suitcase and heading to the airport nearly every 2 – 3 weeks. Highlights were definitely being able to visit Jakarta, Bangkok and Macau for the first time in my life. New horizons, baby!

the year that was…2011

At first I wanted to do a short point-form review of 2011 like I did for 2010, but then I changed my mind and decided to do a longer one. 😛

If 2010 was my “annus horribilus” then 2011 was my year of recovery.

After a really bumpy start right from day one, things slowly but gradually improved.

In March, I started a new chapter in my life when I got a job in another country and left my home to stay on my own for the first time in my life.

Work-wise it was good to get back into an industry that I am familiar with and work that I am good at. I’m still not sure where this will take me career-wise, but for now, I’m content to be where I am and to make this job mine until circumstances change. Having better earning power in a stronger currency helps as well. 😉

Family-wise I miss home a lot. Living two lives is hard, especially so when you’re alone in a foreign country with few friends and no family. But on the upside, I’m glad that my relationship with my parents has become so much better than I’d ever thought it would be. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Health-wise I’m not sure if the frequent travelling is a contributor, but the weight-loss continued for the first half of the year and I still fell sick a lot with coughs and colds that just wouldn’t go away. Allergy/eczema attacks also cropped up more often than in past years and took longer to heal. My resolution for 2012 is to get healthier!

This was also the year I watched the most live performance shows ever (all in Singapore though) – Cirque Eloize ID, Voyage de la Vie and my first Broadway musical, Wicked. I loved every single moment of it all and I want to keep on doing it this year.

Not only that, I also did the most travelling ever in my life by airplane. Trips between Malaysia and Singapore aside, I took my longest plane ride yet to Hong Kong for work (and extended my trip for play). For those who travel and holiday a lot, Hong Kong may seem like nothing but it was the furthest I’d been from home. I’ll be heading back that way again in March 2012. 😀

It was also a year of family holidays – church camp to Kampar, quickie getaway to Cherating, church leadership retreat in Port Dickson and my parents came down to visit me in Singapore. It was the most number of times that my family had ever gone holiday-ing in a single year and the Singapore holiday was also the most luxe yet as we stayed at really nice hotels in Marina Bay and Sentosa.

Time and distance played a big factor in my friendships. Close friends have become distant, some are no more a part of my life. Other friends have stepped up to take their place but I still feel the loss keenly. Friends and acquaintances I have many. Someone special I have not.

Looking back at 2011, I can only say that I’ve been truly blessed.

two lives

Working and living in Singapore feels a bit like I’m living two separate and different lives at the same time.

I guess a lot of it has to do with the fact that I travel back and forth between Singapore and my home in Malaysia, often on an almost weekly basis. It means that I rarely go more than 2 weeks straight before there’s a break in the routine.

I get reminded of this separation in my life every day when I open my purse. I have a two compartment purse with different currencies and different cards representing my different identities. Because I can’t possibly carry all the usual stuff that I normally carry around in Malaysia, I have to pare down all my discount cards and whatnots. But I’ve found that as if to replace whatever I’ve left behind, my Singapore loyalty cards are slowly creeping up and taking over the space in my purse. Naturally, I need to have bank accounts in both countries and my expenses have doubled as well, having to support myself in a new country but still having to fulfill the obligations of the old country.

I now have two wardrobes – which is both a blessing and a curse. I have to figure out which item of clothing goes where (admittedly it’s a bit easier when I know that my entire working wear wardrobe evidently has to be in Singapore) but sometimes I find myself wondering if I need to take my favorites back to Malaysia to wear over the weekend and if I’ll want to bring it back to Singapore again. Sometimes I wish I could replicate my entire wardrobe and just eliminate the hassle but that would be too much of a costly outlay and double the maintenance, not to mention that I might get bored of my outfits (highly unlikely. hah!). I have less trouble deciding about my clothes as much as I waffle over my beloved accessories (my huge collection of earrings and bracelets) and my shoes. I really miss accessorizing my work outfits with my jewellery and shoes and oh, my bags too. But I’ve determined that simplicity is the key and I will not overflow my small single wardrobe. That thought has also curbed most of my shopping urges (whatever remains that the currency exchange has not killed).

Not only do I have to separate my money and my wardrobe, I have to split my skincare, haircare and makeup between the two countries as well. After 9 months, I’m still trying to figure out how to decant some of my stuff so that I can duplicate my usual skincare and haircare routines in Singapore without having to buy duplicates of everything.

Now I also understand how Beetrice feels when she mentioned that she tries to cram a whole week or even more of activities into those few short hours when she’s back in Malaysia. I do the same thing too. It’s like living your life on fast forward or x2.

When I travel in the bus, the long journey makes me feel that I’m caught in a limbo for those few hours – that leaving Malaysia starts the moment the bus moves off and I wave goodbye to my parents. In the same manner, I eagerly look forward to the moment that the bus starts its journey back to Malaysia from Singapore.

some days

You know how some days things just don’t go your way?

Yeah, today was one of those days.

I forgot to bring my medicine to work today.

I forgot to bring a new box of tissues to work as well. (Bad when you have a runny nose.)

Some legacy issues at work got dumped into my lap.

Some other personal stuff also cropped up that I don’t want to have to deal with.

Life isn’t simple when human beings are involved.

I just want to crawl under my blanket and hide until all of this mess goes away.

But I can’t, because superwoman has got to fix it for everyone.

But, when is someone going to fix superwoman when things go wrong for her? 🙁

do you judge a blogger by their writing?

I heard an interesting statement over the weekend. This person said :

“I don’t like to read blogs (or Facebook notes) because then I will know too much about the blogger and this in turn leads me to start judging the blogger about the things s/he writes about.”

It got me thinking.

It’s pretty true that what you blog about and how you blog is essentially an expression of the type of person you are. And no matter how well you blog, there will be people who like or dislike you for it. You just can’t win the world over.

I have personally found that yes, reading a person’s blog can make me either like the person more or want to get to know them better. (In the viewpoint of the person above, I am judging others based on the strength and feel of their writing.) But isn’t this true of even real-life physical interaction? We are all judging and critique-ing others all the time. Not just on what they say but from the very moment you meet a new person or even a stranger on the street, you judge their appearance in a split-second.

fiction vs non-fiction
Image credit

I have found blogs of people who share common interests with me and they have become more than just online acquaintances, some of them are friends now. On the flip side, there are also blogs of people whom I wish I had never met and did not know they blog for the negative impressions they give me. There are also bloggers whom I eventually stopped following because I just did not sync with what they wrote about or the character of the blogger that comes thru in their writing.

But in the end, I appreciate blogs and bloggers. It allows me to get to know these people better, to hear what they are really trying to say, without the confusion that sometimes creeps in during a conversation and when you are distracted by your own response or are not really listening to what the other person is saying because of your own thoughts. Or maybe that’s just me. 😛

What about you?

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