Sunday, 15 April 2018

I Was A Victim Of A Holy Man Scam

You Have A Lucky Face

It all started like this.

I took a walk out of the office in the afternoon, as I often do, and was on the way to get some lunch when a tall, heavily-built Indian man approached me along the street.  He had a kind face, a warm smile, and looked indeed like a holy man as he wore a string of prayer beads around his neck, and talked to me softly with his hands clasped together at his heart centre as if in prayer.

He started the conversation by greeting me then proceeded to tell me, “Sister, you have lucky face.  I can see from your forehead, you lead long life. When you grow old, you die, no pain, no sickness. You die peacefully.  Your life is quite spiritual. Always trying to help others. You always wear happy face.  Outward happy.  But inside always think too much. You worry about many people.”  My eyes lit up a bit because he touched on something close to my heart.  So I whispered a word of thanks and was about to continue on my journey.  However, he stopped me in my tracks when he held me back with even more insights.  “Another thing sister, you have a very bad habit.  Very hard to change.  But you must. Your bad habit cause you plenty problems.”  That was interesting, I thought.  I did not gamble, I did not smoke, I was not an alcoholic, ok, I was obsessed with Pizza, but that I was sure would not constitute a bad habit unless it was the perspective of my personal trainer.  So what bad habits could I have?  I asked him of course to qualify what he had just said.  He replied, “ You speak from the heart.  You are too straight.  You do not know what to say when. You are over-honest.  When you tell people everything from your heart openly, others can use it to hurt you.”  Bingo.  That was really spot on.  Throughout my life, that had been one of my biggest issues leading to misunderstandings, miscommunications, lost opportunities, and lost friendships. Mom often chided me for not having a filter between my brain and my mouth.  So when he revealed this about me, my guard came down abit more. 

He then proceeded to ask if I could spare him some money “for my travels”.  I was about to reach into my purse to get him a $50 note but he said, “If you small wealthy, you give $100.  If you medium wealthy, you give $200.  If you many wealthy, you give $300. Sister, I think you medium wealthy.  You be bless if you give me money for my travels from your medium wealthy.”  So I did.

I saw that as $200 gone to helping someone who might truly need it.  So I tried very hard not to think too much about it and decided to proceed on my journey to get myself a cheaper lunch instead.

However, this Indian man gently pulled me back and said, “You have a lot in mind.  Because someone close to you trouble you. That person plenty negative.  No good for you. Talk behind your back.”  I laughed at that and told him many people both close and not close to me troubled me. So he pulled out a red wallet from his pocket and took out a small, square bit of blank paper, wrote something on it, crumpled it into a ball, whispered an unintelligible prayer and gave that tiny crumpled ball of paper to me.    He asked me to name the name of the person who most troubled me.  I need not have a second thought to that.  So I gave him the first name of that person who had been on my mind lately.  He then asked me to open that crumpled ball of paper and read what was written on it.  To my horror, I found the person’s name in that paper.  My first thoughts were, “What sorcery is this? I was highly intuitive and even I did not have that gift!”

Do Not Worry I Meditate For You

He patted my trembling hands lightly and said, “Do not worry.  I meditate 7 days and 7 nights for you so that you do not need to be troubled by negativity.  But I need $35 a day for each day of meditation to buy prayer things like candles and coconut, and incense..etc.”  I was not sure what possessed me to be that compliant, but I dug into my purse for the last $250 that I had which I  had originally allocated for the week and gave it to him.  

He gave me a little gem stone and instructed me to buy 2 fish to release them into a river as a gesture to release all that negative thoughts that was plaguing me.  I said my thanks and we parted ways, hopefully never to meet again. Of course, I never released 2 fish in the river over the weekend either.  David said that was the stupidest idea ever, allowing the poor fish to be bird food at that storm drain,  just near our home.

As I arrived at my lunch venue, I was quite shaken by what had taken place.  Obviously, I had woken up from my temporary slumber.  I always pride myself for being quite smart.  How did I fall into that trap of allowing someone to take advantage of my vulnerability when I was consumed with so much thoughts and an immensely busy schedule to manipulate my mind into parting with my money?

I called David immediately to relate what had happened to me.  He was beyond furious, and was about to take the cab down to where I was to start a man-hunt for “that charlatan so that we could stop him from tricking other unsuspecting people with his hocus-pocus nonsense.”  I stopped him of course.  I only had myself to blame.

A Victim Of My Own Vulnerability

You see, I had a very bad week.  It was a week filled with misunderstanding, miscommunication, arguments and unnecessary negativity.  I was usually one that let it all go and never took anything like these to heart.  However, at that moment, fresh off managing these negative issues, my emotions clouded my judgement and I made that irrational decision to place my trust on a mere stranger who was quick and intuitive enough to sense that I was so preoccupied with my thoughts, and that within my eyes, I was looking for quick answers and sheer hope.  He played on that moment when I gave my emotions away.

Losing that $450 was not that painful.  It was money I could earn again through hard work.  However what hurt most, was that his tactics and unsavoury intentions to earn a quick buck from someone in a vulnerable state, had cast a shadow on people like myself, who did do intuitive work with the intent of genuinely helping others. 

I can now fully appreciate how some people, who had been taken advantage of before, would have such little trust in me when I tried to support them with my passion as a Tarot reader and Numerologist.  And why shouldn’t they be more careful, right?   That is why, I abhor Tarot readers and numerologists who call themselves fortune-tellers.  How could anyone erroneously put false hopes in someone’s head by promising to tell someone’s fortunes?  Even I cannot predict the future and tell someone’s future with whatever metaphysical tools I used.  I have always stuck to the belief that one is a master of one’s own destiny. The only thing I could do as an intuitive consultant was to  use our tools to provide the advice with which one could choose to use to influence his or her own outcome.  Damn it, that was how I would always preface my reading with a client so that he or she would not get false hopes.   Besides, I am a marketing professional.  I made a living from marketing solutions that I truly believed in. My experience and knowledge gained over the years, have made me discerning enough to weed the crap marketed to me from solutions that genuinely added value to consumers.  How could I have not picked up that what he sold me, was just sheer crap?

When I was talking to that “holy man”, why did these values, this train of thought, not kicked in to warn me to back off? 

I was vulnerable.  I allowed my own negative thoughts to expose my vulnerability.  Over the weekend, I related this experience to Mom and Joel as well.  More than anything, I wanted to warn them so that they would not get cheated the way I did.  By then, David had soften his stance about wanting to find the “holy man” to beat the shit out of him.  I learnt a valuable lesson that cost me $450.  It was a lesson in never allowing myself to wallow in negativity, to the point that I would be sold false hopes by dishonest people.

I connected with a few people who were victims of the same scam before.  If you are interested to read their experience, it had been detailed succinctly, in exactly the same way as I had experienced, within this blog post written by Adrian Hon.

 The kindest thing you can do for others, would be to share my post with others, warning them to always be vigilant.


About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  She is a passionate observer of life bent on inspiring others to live life positively through her writing by combing through moments worth celebrating every day.   Due to her ardent love for sports especially boxing and MMA, she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing articles to several sports media when time permits.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She enjoys Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

Monday, 9 April 2018

Writing From The Heart

Writing From The Heart

It had been almost a year that I had made that conscious choice to stop writing for a while.  All these years, every word written for my blog was done out of my hope to share a point of view that I felt strongly about.

Increasingly, I found this difficult to do as I tried very hard to juggle writing about what was truly authentic to me, with managing the sensitivities of others.  “Was that post about me?”, seemed to be the  frequent text message I woke up to in the morning.

I even had my husband once told me to “take down that blog post because while you don’t have to deal with them, I do.”  That became the cause of our regular rows where he maintained that I needed to have more tact while I insisted that the world needed to be aware of the difference between what was true and the pre-engineered fizzy koolaid that they had been sold.  My father had always taught me to be true to myself under any circumstance, and he brought me up in an environment where he encouraged me to fully express myself.  I found it hard to come to terms with having my voice stifled because I had to be mindful of what others thought.

When I had to start thinking about being sensitive to the feelings of others, taking into account the ramifications my writing might potentially cause with every word I wrote in my blog, and every post I published across my social media platforms, I decided that I could no longer pen another word in my blog.  I also decided to veer towards neutral topics across my social media platforms, sticking to the regular fitness and food posts.  But I became more disillusioned as months and days passed by, simply because I lost my sense of self.  I was no longer writing or speaking from my heart.

When I cut out the writing out of my life for a while, and made myself devoid of that only channel for self-expression that I was most familiar with, I was forced to deal with my emotions on my own by internalizing them.  I  withdrew into myself and walked through an introspective journey for a year.

The past year had been a year of deep learning for me about myself.  I learnt to accept my vulnerability – it was okay to feel that deep sense of hurt and disappointment, nurse it, then move on.  I learnt the importance of drawing the line between interpersonal relationships – friends, colleagues, staff, clients, family, and acquaintances, each of them had a role to play in my life and I should not be setting almost equal expectations on them.  I learnt that no matter how much I could do to pull family members, a team, a situation, a crisis, together and lead from the front, the honest truth, was that I had to stop being the school principal all the time, trying to get everyone to play on equal footing at the playground.  I learnt that when someone has a problem, it was not my problem.  I could not keep taking on that responsibility to try to solve it for him or her.   I learnt to make peace with my inner child – a traumatic past in my childhood need no longer bind me in fear, anger and hatred.  I learnt the value of forgiveness – more than anything else, letting go of hurt and anger was not about acknowledging that a dishonest, hurtful situation did not take place.  It was just my way of giving myself peace of mind.

So if I had to fill the pages of my blog with every incident that described this path of learning, I would not have enough pages left.   I was determined not to let my hurt and disappointment experienced, cast a shadow of doubt on the people I had invested time and energy over the years as  I tried to lift and inspire them with positivity. 

I felt that if I could no longer fill the pages of my blog with authenticity, then I could no longer write that blog. 

This point of view also took a toll on my passion for freelance writing for sports events.    I was disillusioned when I was delivered key messages about athletes during interviews, that had been “massaged” by their PR teams, painting them to be “inspirers of community with a personality governed by humility and a great work ethic..” then see a couple of them behave like depraved thugs.  How could I bring myself to share an article with the public with the objective of convincing them about how wonderful an athlete might be when he clearly was not?  Strangely enough, the current environment was one where many took a dig at fake news.   I was not going to be a perpetrator of fake news.

The start of my recuperation from all of last year’s “bullshit” came in the form of a family trip back to the UK.  I stopped writing.  I just took lots of photos.  Writing could hide my disillusionment. Photos could not. When I had to be present to my family for 3 weeks in the UK, I spent less time on emails as well as reading through all the social media news.  I just made time for self and I had meaningful conversations with my family.  I had no contact with drama, toxicity, inauthenticity and anything that drained me.  And most importantly, I came out of that trip making a pact with myself, that I would always choose to walk away from any form of drama and never allow anyone or anything to invade my peace. I would never allow anyone to feed me with untruths and expect me to sell otherwise.  I would never allow anyone to tell me to stop writing or saying something, just because it would “open a can of worms” and not aligned to what was written on that label pasted on that pre-engineered fizzy koolaid. If I was forced to do anything, or say anything  outside of my values, I would rather not have anything to do with it. 

I am starting to write again.  Slowly just getting back into it. I remain adamant about walking in the light of what is true, never writing or saying something unless it came from the heart.


About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  She is a passionate observer of life bent on inspiring others to live life positively through her writing by combing through moments worth celebrating every day.   Due to her ardent love for sports especially boxing and MMA, she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing articles to several sports media when time permits.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She enjoys Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

Friday, 14 April 2017

Artbox Singapore Shines A Torch On Social Entrepreneurs

A Marketplace Of Passionate Craftsmen
If you had been to the original Artbox, the biggest hipster creative market in Bangkok, and spent hours trawling through fascinating finds created by home-grown designers filled with passion for their craft, you will be pleased to know that Artbox Singapore has made its debut this weekend here at Marina Bayfront and would take place from 14-16 April and 21-23 April.   The event, sponsored by DBS Bank, features 300 international creative entrepreneurs selling items from handcrafted bags, handmade cards, jewelry, organic cosmetics, kitchenware, one-of-a-kind decorative items, plants, food and more.  

If you were visiting Artbox Singapore with the intent of taking a stroll through a “glorified pasar malam peddling over-priced ‘toot’” just to kill time before heading to your over-priced dinner somewhere else, you would  not be embracing Artbox Singapore in the right spirit.   First and foremost, do take a step back and remember why Artbox in Bangkok was created in the first place.  It was set up as a market place for talented souls to express their creativity.  Artbox in Singapore would be no different.  The passionate vibes of these creative souls were wafting through the event.  To top it all off, there were several social enterprises participating at Artbox Singapore who braved the torrential rains to showcase how creativity and social entrepreneurship came together to create a more inclusive society.  So please visit Artbox Singapore with an open heart and mind.

When Joel and I decided to pay Artbox Singapore a visit during its opening day, it was raining so heavily and the crowds were dashing across the aisles like ‘Whacky Races’, into the vendors’ tentages to get shelter.  Some of the vendors’ displays were drenched by the rain, and some experienced ponding within their booth space.  However, their spirits were not dampened at all.  I was impressed.  So many I spoke to, were enthusiastically explaining their respective stories behind their craft.

Anything that was handmade and locally designed by homegrown creative talents always got me really excited.  So let me introduce you to some of my favourite participating entrepreneurs 

Flora Woods

How would you like to come  to work each day to a touch of nature on your desk that could add a spark of positivity throughout the entire day as you navigated back to back calls, meetings and a heavy workload?  Isabel Bei of Flora Woods could customize little table gardens in a tin for you that sprinkled so much seeds of positivity.  Her stall was one of the prettiest.  I would be biased because I love nature and greenery.  You could choose your tin colour, choose a plant (she would pick the right one for you if you were unsure), then choose your own little accessories to dress up your table garden.  More positively green ideas can be found at @florawoods



Ummu Nabilah from Ummuramics has the magical hands behind her one-of-a-kind ceramic wares.  I loved that these ceramic pieces were unique, raw and edgy. They did not look too off-the-department-store polished at all.  Do check out more of her work at @ummuramics

Troops On Print
These bags have been brandished with whimsical prints that were hand-painted. Within their range of hand-painted accessories, are cards, iron-on patches, pin and more.  Do check out more pretty designs at @troopsonprint

Chou Chou Handcraft
Who could resist these cute handmade hats from Chou a Chou Handcraft?  These hats shout "I am fabulously cute!"  Best part about them was that these hats came in different sizes, suitable for both kids and adults.  Some of my friends with young kids who enjoy 'twinning' their clothes with their little ones should not walk past this stall without getting a couple of hats. I made a mental note to alert Susan from @ajugglingmom who might be able to find a couple of hats just right for herself and her little Sophie.  More hat designs can be found at @chouchouhandcraft

Wow! I was blown away by Olivia from OCD who described herself as the "Comics Destroyer".  All her accessories were made by cut-outs from old comic books.  I could hear the painful groans of some of my friends who collected comics, read them from cover to cover since they were young and preserved them in a pristine state throughout their adulthood.  If I might offer a perspective to my comics-obsessed friends, Olivia, the Comic Destroyer did not quite destroy comics really. She preserved them in a different way by repurposing them into handmade jewelry like rings, pendants, earrings and cufflinks.  The Goddess in me was about to snap up all her Wonder Woman accessories.   Do follow Olivia at @madebyocd

 Red Dot Crafts
Ching from Red Dot Crafts stopped me in my tracks as I was strolling down past her booth.  She pointed out to my hand-sewn patchwork bag which I was carrying then and asked if I loved handcrafted accessories.  Of course I did! She said that her accessories from pouches, purses, satchels, and totes were all handmade, and she ensured that they were made with good, durable materials. I bought a quilted tote which was perfect for carrying my lunch in at work everyday.  More of Ching's beautiful handiwork can be found at @reddotcrafts


Candescent Box
Who could resist the delicious scent of  hand-poured candles made from soy wax? I knew avocado had a taste but never knew avocado had a scent suitable to be made into candles!  Do visit aspiring artisan Amira and her Mom at @candescentbox

Social Entrepreneurs
Yes, I loved anything and everything handmade, locally designed and even better if they served a social good.  I met a few social entrepreneurs selling a range of handcrafted accessories that supported a variety of causes.  I would urge you to have a chat with them about what drove that passion behind their respective efforts towards these causes.

 Indie Mama
Li Ying (I hope I got her name right) left an advertising job to pursue her venture, Indie Mama which teaches people from low income families to sew and create these beautiful statement accessories. These skills ensure that they have a sustainable way of making a living and lead productive lives.

Remember these Good Morning hand towels from the days of old which were used in granny's kitchen or at hair salons? Some of these were cleverly used to make clutches, pouches and purses. Vibrant batik material were magically turned into rice dumpling-shaped purses and cushions. Crochet bags and Jewelry that she sold were so unique and vintage-looking, almost like right out of granny's closet.  You can check out more pieces of hand-sewn accessories at @indie_mamashop

 Teddy Thotz
I stopped by Teddy Thotz to hug these Happy Bears, handmade from material with  vibrantly coloured prints and played with some of these cute Amigurumi toys.  I managed to have a chat with socialpreneur George who told me that everything at Teddy Thotz was made by the elderly, the poor and disadvantaged, single women, and indie designers.  He believed that Teddy Thotz was a place where creativity and social enterprise merged to create handmade and homemade quality stuff that represented the true creative passions of the crafter while being socially beneficial. 
More handmade fun and whimsical toys and accessories from Teddy Thotz can be found at


Center Pottery
Besides shopping and eating anything fun, creative and hip at the Artbox Singapore, you could also sign up for a pottery workshop with Center Pottery and know that part proceeds would go to helping mental health patients who had been taking up pottery classes as a form of therapy. Former national sailor Joan Huang founded Center Pottery, which worked with psychologists to combine the science of modern psychology with clay art to create a structured therapeutic curriculum for the general public and mental health patients. More information about these workshops could be found at @centerpottery

 There were a lot more social enterprises at the Artbox Singapore but I was not able to visit every one of them.  I would however encourage you to visit some of these social enterprises and support their respective causes because their efforts have contributed to the creation of a more inclusive society by offering commercially sustainable solutions to social issues.  This would ensure that those at society's margins could lead productive and rewarding lives. These social enterprises were championed by DBS Foundation.
*Artbox Singapore would be delighting an expected crowd of 400,000 people with so much creative vibe, at Marina Bayfront, across 2 weekends, between 14-16 April and 21-23 April.  

About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  She is a passionate observer of life bent on inspiring others to live life positively through her writing as she pays tribute to moments worth celebrating every day.   Due to her ardent love for sports especially boxing and MMA, she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing articles to several sports media when time permits.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She enjoys Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

The Widow Of A Sports Photographer

The Widow of a Sports Photographer

Most weekends when major sports events were happening in Singapore or around Asia, almost always, you would find David unleashing his sports photography magic as Singaporemaven.  Yes, I often felt like a widow during these weekends.  So, I thought it was time for me to recognize the talent and dedication behind the lens within my blog.

Camera First Wife Second

When David found his passion in photography, I was resigned to playing second fiddle to his massive collection of photography equipment and paraphernalia at home.

When the delivery men carted a few “wine fridges” home one day, I was jumping up and down with glee, ecstatic that my man had such a big heart enough to acknowledge my love for red wine and wanted to turn a little corner at home into my personal wine haven by stocking these “wine fridges” with crates of Amarone and Barolo.  I was horrified when he carefully placed all his camera lenses in my wine fridges and learnt then that these boxes were not wine fridges after all.  They were in fact, Dry Cabinets to keep moisture out of his gear.

When we went out for long walks exploring secluded trails and heritage buildings, he would ask me to pose for photos, sometimes against the wall, sometimes under a tree, sometimes by the river.  My heart would swell with pride thinking that my man just wanted to take lots of photos of his beautiful bride, only to feel deflated when he said, “Just testing the light.”

When we traveled on our vacations, he would brandish a few extra bags. That seemed quite thoughtful of him as I often needed extra baggage space to store all that shopping.  However, these extra bags were instead used for different type of camera equipment which he claimed he needed for different type of shots he wanted to capture during our vacation.

It took me years to accept that his love for photography would always come first.  Secretly, I was even proud of him for honing his skills throughout the years to be one of the best in sports photography.  I could not argue with a man with a mission to make the most ordinary looking scenario, like a woman on a running track, into a most extraordinary picture of an athlete’s grit and passion as she crossed the finishing line.

Behind The Photography Work

David had often been jokingly described as the busiest photographer in Asia. Most weekends would be spent covering sports events like MMA events, Track competitions, Swimming meets, Soccer tournaments, and Rugby matches. He enjoyed rubbing shoulders with world class athletes and inspiring men and women who dedicated their lives to sports.  Sometimes, I wished they would rub off their commitment to a life of fitness, on him, so that he would visit the gym more regularly. 

He loved capturing unique shots at these events.  He told me he was not interested in just shooting the athlete performing at the event.  He said, “Anyone with a mobile phone could do that.”  He wanted to capture their emotions. Through his lens, he wanted to interpret their pain, their joy of winning, their sorrow of losing, their anxiety as they waited for the moment they had to “win or die fighting”.   I often looked forward to him coming home to edit his photos so that I could get first glimpse of wonderful shots he had captured.

As his wife, I was proud of him.  It took years of lonely weekends, but I finally understood why he was completely finicky about angles, composition, lighting and anything I would not give a toss about when I used my IPhone to take a photo of a favorite rugby player waving a V sign as he posed for a photo for me.

While many people might have spotted him walking pitch side during various games, what they might not realize was the work that went on after the hours spent on that pitch under the blazing sun or pouring rain. 

Beyond the photography work, he often spent hours at home combing through the thousands of photos taken and editing them.  His editing work might take an entire night, and he would sometimes only get to bed at 5am upon completing the edits.

I remembered how he was the only photographer who waited for hours, for a rugby team to arrive at a hotel as they were preparing for a big match in Singapore that weekend.  I wondered then, if it was because of the lack of patience that the younger or less experienced photographers were not there waiting alongside with him that night.  The rugby team did finally arrive at 1am. After covering that meet and greet session, he then hopped back home and went straight into his photo-editing work till wee hours of the morning.

Maybe, it was not patience. Perhaps it was grit and endurance. I remembered how he covered an MMA event in Bangkok till late Saturday night last week, completed the editing work at 2 am in the morning, slept for 2 hours, showered and prepared to leave for the airport at 5am so that he could catch the 7am flight to arrive back in Singapore at 11am on Sunday.  From the airport, he went straight to  the OCBC Arena to cover a Swimming competition. 

 I was in awe with that energy.  This energy could only be driven by one who had an immense passion for his craft.

As his wife, I was often anxious about whether he was getting enough rest although he told me he was not tired.  However, I finally understood what kept him going, pushing through his exhaustion was his love and pride for his photography work.

There was once, he came back to Singapore with bruises and a swollen knee after covering an MMA event over that weekend.  Apparently, before the stage was lit up in preparation for the fighters to walk out, the entire event venue was pitch black.  In order to get to his position to prepare to capture great shots of the fighters, he missed a step and fell.  When I questioned him about his bruises and swollen knee, he just brushed it away and told me it was nothing.

However, as his wife, I felt the pain, but I knew that that was his style.  His photography work came first.  Nothing else mattered. 

I also remembered him ranting one day about losing a contract for a weekend of sports photography work.  He mentioned that someone in an organization had decided to not hire professional photographers like him, and instead, had made the decision to invite a group of young amateur photographers to take photos for free. He had no issues with that as he too was once an amateur photographer hungry for the opportunity to better his skills and garner experience. 

What annoyed him was the decision of these officials and event organizers to use those photos taken by amateur photographers in subsequent marketing promotions, effectively getting free content to sell multi-million dollar events a few months later.  I was actually flabbergasted by that decision, not because I was his wife.

As a PR professional, I would never allow my team to submit to the press, lesser quality photographic work that had not been professionally taken as it would have been disastrous to my efforts in telling my company’s brand story.   For David, the principle was simple.  That decision, did so much injustice to the sports and the sportsmen and women in that game.

Another pet peeve that made me raving mad as I fiercely guarded the integrity of my husband's photography work was when I might come across social media posts, and press clippings featuring his photos without according him a credit.  

As his wife, I found myself gnashing my teeth and clenching my fists as I  sat behind my PC screen after every sports event, scanning through the web and social media platforms like a hawk, looking for those  who might creatively crop out David's watermark off his photos and post them on their social media feeds or publish them in the press without crediting him.

The wife, PR professional and Team Ash’s unofficial Intellectual Property lawyer and policewoman in me would gamely send messages to these people to take down the photos or face an angry wife’s wrath.

The Photographer’s Wife

I am proud to be a photographer’s wife.  To me, my husband is an artist and a writer too.  He does not just take a photograph of a sportsperson.  With his camera, the Singaporemaven paints a picture and writes his or her story in a way that inspires the rest of us to live our lives to be the best that we can be, the way these sportspeople do.

So when you do meet David with his camera in his hands, do ask for a shot by the Singaporemaven.  That photo of you, would be taken by not just the busiest photographer in Asia, but to me, also the best.

*The sports photography work featured in this blog post have been provided by Singaporemaven Photography.  For more details on his work, please visit and follow him on Singaporemaven’s Facebook page and Instagram @singaporemaven


About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media when time permits.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She is passionate about Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.  

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Home Is Where The Heart Is

Coming Home To Family


In 2016, I made a conscious effort to stick to my resolution of putting more time aside for family.  That meant that I learnt to prioritize my time, cut down on the number of social engagements and dedicated my weekends and spare time to the family.  It was a year where I spent hours deliberating over conflicting appointments, cancelling and filling entries in my diary just so I could be there for the family


Time For Mom


I spent a lot of time with Mom, and this was so because Dad had passed on only barely a year ago then.  I shared the pain of her bereavement and wanted to help her create an independent and active life particularly when all she had ever known was a life dedicated to taking care of Dad, my brother and I.  Every phone call we had, and time spent with her at our weekly visit to Mom’s were precious moments worth celebrating.  This culminated in a vacation with her in November when we went for a week-long cruise together, followed by a trip to Hanoi where we spent our time gallivanting along the small alleys looking for good bargains and street food.  We both had fun. 


Mom, throughout the year, had made an effort to keep herself busy and moved on with her life without Dad.   I enjoyed watching Mom as she kept herself busy with the things she loved to do.  She loved cooking.  So whenever we went out for a meal, she would come home to experiment in the kitchen, then whip up her own version of it.  My brother, sister-in-law, David, Joel and I became unwitting guinea pigs of her version of the Korean Army Pot, and Vietnamese Banh Mi and Vietnamese Pho.  I made a mental note to not take her to anywhere exotic for the year end vacation in case she whipped up Fish Balls Stewed In Yak’s Milk or something similar. 


I also noticed that she made it a point to not revolve her life around my brother and I.  Often, I found myself calling her at home, only to discover that she had been traipsing across town with friends, transporting containers of food that she had cooked to Granny’s, working her magic hands across the mahjong table and generally making friends and influencing people across Singapore.  I was glad because I realized that quality time, and being present had very little to do with being physically there beside her.  She certainly could hold her own.  What was most important was that she knew that I always had her in my heart and mind and would do anything to make her happy.  Even a 2 minute phone call to ask if she had eaten her lunch was enough to fill her with joy.  


I only see Mom for lunch every Sunday afternoon and I used to feel guilty about that very little time we had together.  However, coming home, for me, was remembering that the both of us as mother and daughter, had ridden the good times and bad enough to know that we had each other’s back no matter what happened.


Time For Joel


I also spent a lot of time with Joel, trying to rebuild a mother-son relationship that had been lost to 3 years of misunderstandings, miscommunication, my initial non-acceptance of his girlfriend and all the rough patches that came with a generational divide. In our separate ways, we both grew up together, learning to accept our differences and converging when and where we could to bring back peace and harmony into our home.  At this time, we have never been closer than we are now.


In the past year, Joel has been enjoying his national service stint.  I enjoyed listening to the stories he brandished about his time spent outfield and often annoyed him with the question, “So how many plasters and panadols have you dished out this week, medic?” He took his duties in the army very seriously and would get really annoyed when I poked fun at his efforts.  Just barely a year before, we would not even have a proper conversation because Joel would spend his time out of the house just to avoid having a conversation with me.  In the past, any mention of his girlfriend would have erupted into a huge quarrel. In the last 6 months, we even had meaningful discussions about his relationship.  This opened the doors to more opened communication between us.  And whether or not he was home, out on dates, or back in his army camp, it did not matter to me because I knew I was always in his heart. Our whatsapp messages which were once peppered with caustic remarks were now filled with messages from him like, “Have you had dinner?”, “Where is Pops, is he with you?”, and “What are you doing this weekend?”


I only see Joel for a few hours over the weekends and I used to feel guilty about using those few hours to nag him about his army fatigues left on the floor around the laundry basket, the unequal amount of time spent between our home and his girlfriend’s home, and his awful diet of biscuits and crisps.  However, coming home, for me, was the knowledge that Joel knew what family values meant, his proactive attempts to bring laughter and harmony into our home, and his awareness that this bond between mother and son was unbreakable.


Time For David


I spent a lot of time with David too, traveling with him whenever I could when he had a photography assignment overseas.  When we were not traveling, we took to spending our weekends on activities we found a lot of enjoyment doing together, instead of leading our separate lives like we had done before.


This was our version of separate lives – he would crash out on the sofa on weekends with the TV blasting and remote control gripped tightly in his hand, while he snored, and I would be playing with my Tarot cards in the room.   Recently, we found a lot of fun in painting together. They called it art-jamming, but the only jamming we were familiar with was either Robertson’s Lemon Curd or plucking the life out of his old guitar with his ex-band mates. This version of jamming did not involve calories, or noise, and was filled with so much more fun and laughter between us.  It was hilarious when I thought about how I used to fail at Art during my school days.  One of my paintings now sit proudly at Mom’s home while David prepares to make a case for a potential lawsuit against him from Kellogg’s for  stealing their brand image of a white chicken.


Making time for each other was a huge effort, given his travels, and my multiple commitments.  However, coming home, for me, was knowing that every now and then, when we had time to connect, David and I could always find fun and passion between us, no matter how busy we were and how different our interests could be.  We really need not be in each other’s faces every day.


Coming Home To Scotland


My 2016 resolution propelled my decision to make a trip back to the UK to visit with David’s family last November too.   We had not been back for almost 10 years, often citing the lack of time.  How could we have let 10 years pass by without setting foot in David’s hometown?  How could we have not found time to connect with his family?  Our conversations were reduced to Facebook comments, an annual phone call and a Christmas card. 


So, together with the family, we set out to create memorable moments with each other within the very short time we had together.


One of his sisters put together a collage of old family photos during dinner and it drew much laughter and banter as stories of days past were exchanged.  Time seemed to have stood still then. That collage of photos closed the gap of 10 years and that geographical barrier between Singapore and Scotland because the entire family had so much to share about the good old days.   These were memorable moments that David and I cherished.  They were more important than attempting to squeeze time for a quick phone call and a trip to visit the family.


On a Sunday morning, I took a walk with his sister around her estate in Dundee before having brunch with the family. We attempted to look for squirrels, and slid across the frosty pathways to much laughter between us.  About 17 years ago, before David and I got married, this was the sister I had a fight with over something silly and unimportant.  Over the years, I have not had time to talk to her apart from the day we got married, and during the couple of  times when David and I visited Scotland after.   That Sunday morning, I felt that my sister-in-law and I had closed that gap once and for all.  We had so much to chat about, and we had fun in each other’s company. It was special for me because we made an effort to make that morning a memorable moment for us as a family.


Also, David had the opportunity to rekindle childhood memories as we walked through the town park and attempted to climb Falkland Hill in -2 degrees temperature.  While I felt the wintry cold, my heart was warmed by the many stories that David had shared about his Mom and Dad, his school days, and his sisters. 


Another thing that made this trip to Scotland so special was because David secretly arranged for a Minister to preside over the renewal of our marriage vows at the Greyfriars Kirk in Edinburgh.  When the effort came from someone who could not even match his socks each morning, it was truly special.  Coming home for me, was the realization that my husband made efforts throughout our marriage to create memorable moments with me.  The much talked about “together time” which most people insisted, made a solid marriage, was really overrated. 


Throughout our 2-weeks spent in UK, we did not want to just play tourist and create photographs.  We wanted to create special moments that would be etched in our memories for a very long time, and we did.


Home Is Where The Heart Is


So yes, in 2016, I did make time for my family. I learnt to prioritize and was adept at juggling my commitments, feverishly filling in or cancelling appointments in my calendar so that I could “be present” to my loved ones.


As the year 2017 crept by furiously, and a month had already come and gone, I was reminded that coming home, was not about my physical presence at home with the family.  It was the commitment of knowing who and what mattered most. When I know who and what mattered most, my relationship with them would not be defined by my time or physical presence. 


My relationship with those who mattered most to me would be defined by :


·      My conscious effort to be kind to them instead of brushing their grief, anger, sadness, angst or frustrations off as their “having one of those moments”.


·      My needing to listen more with empathy, instead of with the intent to respond.


·      The energy I put into having meaningful conversations with them, instead of scrolling my Facebook feeds whilst chatting with them.


·      My attempts to strike a compromise and have opened discussions when we have conflicting opinions.


·      My effort to not just be present but to create memorable moments with my loved ones


This would be a great example to illustrate my point.  This Lunar New Year, my Uncle and Aunt as well as my cousin returned from Canada and Australia respectively to spend some time with Granny.  It was really not about the sacrifice of time and money made to make this trip home happen.  They did not inform anyone of their impending visit.  Instead, they delighted the entire family when they turned up at the annual reunion dinner at Mom’s, and took us by surprise.  Mom was literally in tears and Granny was extremely happy. 


Now, that was a memorable moment and definitely, the best way to Come Home.


About The Writer

The writer of this blog post is a Marketing and PR professional for over 20 years.  Due to her love for Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), she is also a freelance sports writer on the side, contributing MMA-related articles to several sports media.  She works in partnership with her husband, David Ash, who is an avid sports photographer from  She is passionate about Boxing and nurtures a dream to fight competitively one day when her coach stops making fun of her.  She is also a psychic intuitive by birth and runs a consultancy that does tarot and numerology readings under her brand, Sun Goddess Tarot.  This blog is affectionately called "The Crazy AngMo" as she is married to one, although she has not yet explained to THE Ang Mo that when translated, he has been labeled  “the bloke with ginger hair”.