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September 27th, 2016

06:00 pm - Adopt a Park
Nature was my healer. In all my down moments, I escaped into the forest, into the parks, into the oceans. In nature, I did not have to explain myself, why was I there and not somewhere else? Why was I alone? Why was I crying? Why was I praying? Nature understood. She embraced and enchanted me. And I was healed.

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05:55 pm - Visit to the doctor last year
Last year at the endocrinologist's office:

Me: Doctor, I think there's something wrong with my thyroid hormones, I feel tired all the time.

Doctor: No, I don't know why you feel tired all the time, but it's definitely got nothing to do with your thyroid. It's functioning normally.

Me (in disbelief): Though the hormones are still in normal range, it does not mean that in the past it wasn't higher and now has reduced.

Doctor: Everyone's metabolism slows as they age. Have you considered whether you may have depression? Your lack of energy has definitely got nothing to do with your thyroid function.

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September 17th, 2016

02:15 pm - Random Musings
You know I find it true that funny coincidences happen quite often to me, and I am very often rescued out of perilous situations rather miraculously, and that people are generally kind and nice to me, even strangers. Do you feel that way about the world too?

I noticed indeed when I take care of myself the world takes care of itself. It's like I can project my emotions onto my environment. Also, people do pour out to me. That maybe I do have some healing ministry. And I do indeed have a very soft spot for "bad boys".

I feel I am only getting to know myself better lately. Who I am and who I think I am are two very different people. Who I am is really more special and gifted than who I think I am.

I will never forget what a friend from the gifted education programme told me when I was in secondary school, that all weird people are geniuses. He was trying to comfort me that I am a genius, being very weird myself. And I cannot forget that. I valued that affirmation so much. Being different in a world that appears to share so much in common apart from you, can be a very scary experience. It is so easy to be misunderstood, looked down upon, and sidelined.

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September 14th, 2016

07:03 am - Unexpected Pleasures
Sometimes what you want does not happen, but what you end up having is much better?

On Monday, I wanted to visit two exhibits, one on Hurricane Katrina and another on the history of New Orleans. But, it turned out that on Mondays, all museums are closed! So I ended up spending quite some time in the church gift shop, buying gifts, (I even got myself a bracelet! A rosary bracelet of sterling silver.), bought candles to pray for the world and my friends, visited Kurt E. Schon's private art collection, had a tarot card reading session, and then spent at extended period of time at a very very nice stationery shop selecting my first fountain pen, with the very kind help of the French owner. Gosh, none of these absolutely amazing experiences would have happened if the museums were opened!

And then... Today on the airport shuttle, I met two NGO workers and the driver, who is a really cool man from Dominican Republic. (I cannot helped but noticed the rosary hanging on his rear view mirror. It was just so un-American, and later on I got hold of more of the story.) I saw how our conversations progressed. So much so I learned about their work in Kenya, his father's schizophrenic plight after WW2, driver's compassion for students, not taking tips from them, because he used to hitchhike to school and had to work his way to college selling hot dogs very innovatively. I saw the conversations go from one topic to another, and I played a part in prompting and bridging (very honoured to do that). It was so beautiful, that time in that shuttle. It was unexpected and such a gift. I love to hear these touching life stories. And I was thinking to myself, my heart full of compassion for them, how lucky I was that I was much more better provided for financially. It was my parents who went through that phase of striving to survive, and I merely reaped the fruits of their labour.

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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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