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August 18th, 2016

06:50 am - Obsession with Results
"Our culture's fearful obsession with results has sometimes, ironically, led us to abandon great objectives and settle for trivial and mediocre ends. The reason is simple. As long as "effectiveness" is the ultimate standard by which we judge our actions, we will act only toward ends we are sure we can achieve. People who undertake projects of real breadth and depth are very unlikely to be "effective," since effectiveness is measured by short-term results (never mind the fact that such people may be creating cultural legacies by their "failures"). But people with small visions will win the effectiveness awards, since those projects are so insignificant that they can almost always "succeed" (never mind the fact that they contribute nothing of real merit to the commonweal)." (p. 75, Parker Palmer, The Active Life)

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August 16th, 2016

05:57 pm - Disillusionment as a gift
"When we live in illusion, denying reality, resisting the inevitable, we live in a tension that drains us of energy without our even knowing it. So if we try to gain life by denying death, the paradoxical result is that we become lifeless. This is why "disillusionment" is so important, for by losing our illusions we can tap the energy of the reality that lies beyond them. Once we are thoroughly disillusioned we can say, with Thoreau, "Reality is fabulous!" No matter how difficult reality may be, it contains more life than any illusion." (p. 155, Parker Palmer, The Active Life, 1990)

"Ultimately good acts are those that allow people the freedom to choose their own destinies; at least, that is how I understand the ultimate goodness of the God who created us to be free. This freedom includes the other person's freedom to choose hell in a handbasket, whether or not I approve. It does not include my imposition of my moral will in a way that imprisons my sister or brother." (p. 47, Parker Palmer, The Active Life, 1990)

Last year, I experienced what I call an existential crisis, whereby I felt my disillusionment was being undone. I pondered at the reality that faced me, missing the illusions that used to keep me safe and happy. It was the most disconcerting experience ever. But being brave enough to face reality, and to face controversy, and topics that had to be grappled me, also set me free to pursue truth for myself.

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August 13th, 2016

06:34 pm - Life
I had an enjoyable Saturday, taking my time to wake up, watching Schooling win his gold medal and Katie Ledecky break her world record. :) And doing some leisurely packing up, reading and work. I had a sense of gratefulness to be able to spend my time like this.

I thought it was even more significant that there were three silver medalist behind Schooling. It just showed how good and tight the competition was and how rightfully deserving Schooling was to beat them all. I loved how they congratulated him in a big brother way. It seemed so friendly this competition. So heartfully happy for one another's accomplishments.

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July 21st, 2016

09:45 am - Places of Horror
I visited NUS on Sunday to help my friends with some videoing for their wedding. I did not expect my presence in NUS to induce a lot of anxiety. Though I should have expected it. All the feelings of fear and worry, expectations and missing the mark, both in the classroom and in church settings returned to my consciousness. And I immediately had gastric upset. But I started deep breathing earlier, so the pains wasn't so bad and settled with some curly fries.

Now, I understand why places can induce such negative reactions in people. Places contain so much memories and experiences for an individual. If you had too many negative ones in a certain environment, your body associates that place with bad things. Is it no wonder that someone hates a certain place?

But for me, I want to rewire. I want to rewire my mind. I don't want to be restricted in this world, that there are some places I cannot go and still function normally. So one day, I must make sense of my experiences at NUS.

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July 20th, 2016

08:48 am - My Academic Journey
Two years ago, I was in Birmingham, England to give a presentation. During my time in Birmingham, I received feedback from the editor of an article I had submitted. Basically, they asked for major revisions. I was devastated by that email. Also during that trip, I spoke to an atheist who turned my beliefs upside down. So that was the beginning of a journey of rediscovery... It was rediscovering who I am and what I believe. It was the beginning of the most painful period of my life.

Fast forward, two years later, today. I am going to Birmingham next week. That presentation I gave two years ago had already resulted in another published article. I had also worked on those major revisions that caused me a lot of pain, and that also led to another article. And this time, I am invited to participate in a panel, and this time round, I feel like summing up my previously done work into that 3 minute speech. I am going to give another presentation on a topic of my interest, but not of my study, so I am struggling somewhat in the preparation stage, but this current topic brings together my first work at NIE, on assessment.

I feel like I have come full circle again... I am back to where I begin, but as a different person.

It's a nice and strange feeling to have gone through the worst and survive... So many formative experiences for me... It is true... It is by letting go... That you discover what is truly yours...

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July 18th, 2016

12:53 pm - Encouragement to myself
Shuyi, you are a brave and courageous one, aren't you? You are a tough cookie. So you were asked to do a 3 minute speech on a topic you did not really know a lot about... You were asked to attempt to give your views on an age long controversy. You quickly said yes, though you were afraid of public speaking. You saw it as an opportunity that has to be grasped. Well done! What courage, my dear girl. Most people shy away from such controversies and debates. Okay, I know you are afraid and all, but you have been putting in effort to learn as much as possible, combining it with your present research and study. I don't want you to worry excessively about it. No matter the outcome, whether people like your speech or not, think you are rubbish or not, I want you to remember that you have much to be proud of. That you were willing to take on this challenge in the first place, your heart is sincere and genuine, and you are willing to bring your contribution to this age-old problem and debate. No one loses by anything you will share. So go and prepare and do your best, and do not worry. You have my support. I will stand up for you and advocate for you, Shuyi.

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12:44 pm - My Christian journey
I was reading an old Catholic prayer guide with some apprehension. Now, whenever I read things about denying yourself, I get a bit scared. Because I had denied myself to a state of non-functionality previously in the way I practiced Christianity. So I am wary. I don't think full-fetch Christianity is for everyone. I think people who are trusting and non-skeptical, like me, can possibly be harmed by some of the beliefs of the church. For example, we might give away all our personhood, money, time and energy, and leave ourselves with nothing.

So that is my Christian journey that I am still trying to make sense of. Is there a misunderstanding that I have about how Jesus asked us to practice in the church and as Christians? How can pursuing a religion result in more harm than good in someone? Did I misinterpret and got it wrong in certain aspects, degree... I think I must have got some parts wrong...

I think mainstream Christianity is good for a certain sort of person. Maybe a bit stubborn, tough, prone to sin... So you need strong medication to "fix" them. But for soft, pure, humble people... mainstream Christianity perhaps can really do us some harm... So yes, I guess it's the case of one medicine cannot cure all disease, we got to adjust the practices of Christianity to fit the individual, instead of twisting the individual to fit the religion.

Difficult lesson to learn. Heavy price to pay.

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July 10th, 2016

12:58 pm - Journey
I have been on quite a journey.

You don't need a diagnosis to know that something is not quite right with your life, that you are unhappy, and find little meaning in life and what makes up life - those ordinary moments, the things you do, the people you meet.

You don't need a diagnosis to know that you are perpetually high-strung, and to realize eventually that you are more so than most people, and it affects your happiness, the quality of your life, and the dreams you pursue and achieve.

The best thing I have done for myself this year was to seek treatment for this severe anxiety and dysthimia. I admitted to myself that I know very little and perhaps I have been living my life wrongly in some aspects for the past 30 years, but, I don't have to continue on this way for the next 30 years. Though I really know not how much longer I can live.

God, if I am to come into the afterlife anytime soon, please remember me and receive me. I pray that I will have little regrets, and each and every day now, I am doing my best to truly and fully be the Shuyi you created me to be. I have put down the chains that held me back from emerging, I have started seeking out who I am, what makes me happy, what I truly believe in, and what I am willing to give up to achieve what I believe You have called me towards. With all the uncertainties of life... I think any moment could be my last. If I do go early, remind all who love me and all who I love and care about how grateful I am that for my brief 30 years on this earth, I got to know them as family and friends. I pray they will continue on strong and happy. I pray that God gives them strength to endure the sufferings of life. There's so much suffering in this world... Perhaps, the afterlife is really a better place.

Sorry, this is not a suicide note. This is just what I realized I have to process through when I realized that I am not guaranteed tomorrow. I need to buy some airplane tickets and I am just thinking to myself, is there anyway I can avoid buying a ticket to a plane that is going to crash? No... There is no way to totally predict and avoid a terrorist act or an act of crime... We can try our best to be prudent... But I think in the end, our lives are not totally in our hands. There's a limit to what we can do to minimize pain and suffering.

So... I just want to be ready when death happens.

Okay, back to the journey... I learn a lesson while paddle boarding yesterday. I learned that life doesn't have to be lived in an intense and painful manner. We can actually relax, find a sustainable and efficient pace of life, one that can last the long haul, and live that way. Live for the destination you want to arrive at, not just for the moment and just getting it right moment by moment. It's okay to go off track and then adjust slowly back to the destination, most importantly is that you last the long haul. Don't burn out before you reach the end. :) Thanks Kelvin for this lesson. And you gotta find your own way. Eventually we all gotta reach the end, and we must have different ways of getting there, gotta find your own way, because we all have different strengths and weaknesses... We cannot use the same way to get there.

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July 8th, 2016

02:17 pm
I hate what hierarchy does to people. It makes people afraid of power, those in power, protocols, powerful institutions, established places, big bosses.

Just hate it so much. It dehumanized people.

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09:36 am - Love that never lets me go
I've been learning that I'm worthwhile - worth the gamble, worth taking risks for, worth holding onto despite my imperfections, worth giving chances to make mistakes, worth more than all the money I can lose. I have been placing bets on myself to succeed in my endeavours. I have been trying to re-create myself, and re-create my identity. It has cost me quite a lot of money, but I think I am worth it. I think I am improving and gaining in confidence that the previous me who didn't dare bet on herself, who saw that she wasn't worth that investment, never saw.

God, thank You.

It was only when I was willing to test You, by running as far as I could, that I saw Your love is indeed for the prodigal and for the lost. When I slavishly held onto God, refusing to let go, afraid He might abandon me if I did so, I never saw the extent of His love, the love that covers the whole world, and never lets me go.

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