Monday, 27 August 2012

Reflecting On Our PM's National Day Rally Speech

Our Prime Minister’s National Day Rally speech over the weekend, had provided much fodder for reflection.  He had appealed to Singaporeans to write the next chapter of the Singapore story with him, through the ideals of looking forward to brighter hopes, having a bigger heart, and building a better home.

Hope, Heart and Home

Having lived through a very different Singapore years ago when Dad was incarcerated for having a different perspective, this theme of “Hope, Heart, and Home” reminded me to leave the past with its bitter-sweet memories behind and look forward to a future that will belong to Joel and his generation.  When Joel go out into the world as an adult, I want him to govern his life with an aim to always have brighter hopes, and govern his actions with a bigger heart, so that he can do his part to build a better home, a better Singapore.  That’s the only way I can attempt to explain the crux of that speech to Joel.   

Bigger Hearts

I told Joel that Singaporeans do have a bigger heart. We have seen so many caring Singaporeans putting in their efforts to save stray dogs and volunteer their time at charity homes.  I just can’t explain the time when our bigger heart failed us as David had occasionally become a victim of verbal racial abuse or subjected to xenophobic neighbors living in the same block of flats who would push a lift button feverishly to close the elevator doors on him.  I think Joel is mature enough to realize that while he governed his life with an aspiration, he had to acknowledge that there were those who wouldn’t.  That, I guess, made my country an even more interesting place to live in, because of the different stories we could tell with our experiences.  Today, David, Joel and I can laugh at these antics.  They added color to our lives.

Better Home

I also told Joel that we must always be loyal to our home, Singapore, and do everything we could to make it a better home.  When David had decided to get his permanent residency status here and is looking forward to someday obtaining his citizenship in Singapore whilst giving up his British passport, we realized that home wasn’t about a tiny red dot on the map.  Home was instead where our family and our happiness were.  That in itself was worth protecting and investing in.

Brighter Hopes

Singapore has built itself into a city promising brighter hopes.  How many countries can boast of abundant opportunities nurtured by a society of ambitious and educated people who worked very hard to live their fullest potential? 
As a mother, I had spent angst-filled years with Joel helping him through his school work, watching him juggle his time between school, tuition classes and sports, grieving with the boy when he failed his examinations and was forced to stay back at the same level in one of his secondary years and comforting him through the time he thought he was not normal when he was allocated into a 5-year normal stream in secondary school.  I held his hand through those angst-filled years in the hope that he would have a brighter future some day.  My goal for Joel was very simple. I just wanted him to be happy and to work towards a career path that would enable him to capitalize on his great communication and interpersonal skills to add value to the people he will touch along the way and provide him with a lot of fulfillment.  

When his GCE O’ Level results dictated that he had to take up nursing at the polytechnic instead of mass communications which he was more enthusiastic about, his world shattered before him because he was determined not to be termed “Gaylord Focker” by friends and spend the rest of his life staring into a patient’s bed pan each day.  However my advice to Joel at that time was to embrace the challenge wholeheartedly because with his great communication and interpersonal skills most needed in nursing, perhaps he might find that the universe was guiding him towards that path.  If he didn’t try it out, he would never know.  Joel took that advice and he had been putting his heart and soul into learning as much as he could in the nursing faculty.
Last night, we met a bunch of Singaporean students who were either members of the alumni of Scottish universities or are heading to these universities for their undergraduate studies in the coming months.  Joel whispered to me “I feel so ashamed that I can’t be as good as they are to be at these universities.”  I assured Joel that each of us was meant to carve our different paths according to our different strengths and none of these paths make any of us lesser than the other. 

Brighter Hopes Can Only Be Determined By You

However, I couldn’t help but feel the negative impact of societal norms and pressures that held people to the belief that the right and best path is to follow the clinical route.  This is the expected route of getting from a reputable primary school to an express stream in a reputable secondary school, to a reputable junior college and then to a top university, followed by getting a fantastic high-paying job, and then get married as early as possible so that you can get a government-subsidized flat at a reputable estate, and have at least 2 kids who will start the cycle of going to a reputable primary school. 
Joel felt left out of that cycle and I wished he didn’t feel that way because I was almost in the throes of that cycle until I forced myself out of it after obtaining a divorce, and started carving my own path through the unbeaten track.  And frankly, I am still doing it because I believe my true education is gained from the experiences learnt in the University of Life.  I wanted Joel to not be a follower, but be a leader.  Being one of the few blokes in a nursing faculty, I wanted him to feel proud that he was breaking through the barriers of prejudice to stand out from the sea of nursing students. Given that Singapore has an ageing population with growing healthcare talent shortage, his skills were going to be useful in filling the gap.  And frankly, if you know Joel for his “can-do” attitude, his courage, his infectious enthusiasm, his great communication and interpersonal skills, I would say that, true to our Prime Minister’s expectations, Joel is already heading towards building a brighter future for himself and for the industry.

Our Prime Minster has requested that we write the next chapter of the Singapore story with him.  That next chapter belongs to Joel.  I hope that the continuous learning he had gleaned from David and me and the experiences that he will be garnering along the way, helps him write an even more colorful chapter of the Singapore story, without fear of being different and without the pressure and expectations of being “boxed” into preconceived notions of success.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Working Together Was Good Fun

Last week, a friend hired David and I to help out at his company's first year anniversary party. David was hired as official photographer for the event and I was hired to entertain guests with my tarot reading.

I am not sure who had more of a blast. My friend, David or me. It was our first experience of working together at an event, and we had so much fun doing it because we were both always looking out for each other.

David and I often get invited to help out at projects like these, but we have never been invited as a couple on the same project. He would get invited for photography shoots at rock concerts, company events, personal profile shots of friends and their families and I often get invited to read my tarot cards at birthday and hen parties, company events as well as charity events. And strangely, we had never thought to go into projects together. So this experience was an eye opener.

For my friend's event, we had already visited the event venue a few days prior to establish the setting and environment we were going to be at. This allowed David to plan the type of equipment he was going to be bringing along with the right camera he was using. It also allowed me to "feel" the space and make a mental note of where my querants could get the appropriate privacy to get a reading with as little interference as possible while allowing me ease of managing a queue. David and I also had a discussion about the lighting and it's impact on our respective areas of work.

I have to say, David's dedication was amazing. He had spent an entire day before rushing through back to back meetings in Kuala Lumpur and had just arrived a couple of hours before the event to check out the venue again and sort out his equipment in preparation for the event.

At the event, as the crowds streamed in and we were both just consumed with taking the photos and doing the readings, we often checked on each other. I was worried that the venue's dim lighting will affect the quality of the photos whereas he was worried that I wouldn't be able to cope with the crowd as the queue list at the tarot table was very long.

Joel did his bit as well. He was our "roadie". He helped to carry, my easel, my Sun Goddess Tarot poster, and the camera equipment. He also helped managed the queue at the photography wall and in between that, he came over to check on me and got me a drink to salve my parched lips.

It was an extremely busy night for the both of us but we enjoyed it tremendously because it gave us the opportunity to watch out for each other and we were probably each other's best critique. He reminded me in between readings to take a 5 minute breather to do a "download"( it was essential for me to do a grounding meditation for a few minutes in between client readings to dispel residual negative energies before I start reading for a new batch of clients) and I reminded him to create different and more interesting angles for the shots at the photography wall. Even after the event, I played Art Director to his digital imaging work on the photos....sometimes to his annoyance.

David and I are proof that working on a project together as a couple is extremely fulfilling. That may have given us a vision for our retirement years and it certainly looks promising.

About The Writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 43 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketeer at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 19 year old son.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Being Happy With What I Have

Over the weekend, a friend had asked me why I had stopped blogging at I assured her that I had not, but was consumed with such a busy schedule that I haven't had much time to even log on to Blogger. I checked myself at that point and logged on to Blogger to view my activity profile. I haven't been blogging everyday, but I have been moderately active with my blog entries, particularly at lately. I have been running 2 blogs, the first is which was set up for the purpose of detailing my family's quirky exploits. The second is which was set up this year, when I built an ardent passion for the art of tarot reading and became a certified professional tarot reader. The latter was a platform I used to detail my exciting journey with tarot.

Bouncing between the 2 blogs was easy initially because the 2 most important areas of my life, family/work and tarot had for a long time sat in separate realms, with the latter forced in its space by the skepticism of family and friends, conjoined only by the jubilation brought by sporadic demonstrations of acceptance from my husband. Lately however, it has become just a little bit more difficult to separate the 2 areas of my life because the "crazy angmo", the not so angry wife, her "Addams' family" and some of her loonie friends have finally come to accept that like my playing the piano, my interest in "non-mainstream" classical music ( specifically Bela Bartok and Smetana), and my love for the "game of the Gods", rugby ( still in love with the game though age and fitness prevents me from continuing to play the game), the tarot has become a key driver of my happiness. So honestly, I shouldn't be afraid of mentioning anything about my world of tarot in my first blog.

A-ha! There you go, I just admitted it unwittingly. I was quite afraid to mention anything about tarot in my blog I have been keeping the subject matters within both blogs quite separate. And you know, I am tired from using my "non-accepting friends and family" as a convenient excuse. In truth, I am still a spectator to an internal war being waged between my rational mind and my intuitive skills. I have detailed some of these challenges in my tarot blog recently. I have been managing this war by wading through my mood swings, hurling into a hermit-like world of expansive studying of more esoteric works and constantly questioning concepts and ideas in my head, with only my fellow tarot-reading friends and mentors within the international tarot community and in Singapore, holding my hand through it all.

I forgot however, that I have got very special people in my life, formerly parked in the "crazyangmo..." world, who have equally, been holding my hand, in their individual ways, throughout this battle within me. Numerologically, my life path number is a 7. I am naturally deign to constantly questioning and seeking truths, discovering new ideas and learning new things. My birthday number of 1, governs my egoistic personality who tend to tread the barren path alone without asking for help. Therefore, as I deal with my growing intuitive skills, the turmoil in my head sends me into a spiral that buries me deep within the cave for fear of being laughed at, for fear of being questioned, for fear of making a mistake on any of my consultations with any of my clients, for fear of generally mixing my "irrational" intuitive skills with my "rational" skills as a marketeer, wife and mother.

Lately, I have begun noticing that my intuitive skills are growing even more such that often when a client presents me a question, a vision forms in my head about his/her story without me shuffling the cards. When I draw the tarot cards, they only serve to validate that vision in my head. My clients always affirms the facts of these stories in my head. That was when I started panicking because I didn't "sign up for this". When I studied tarot and numerology, nothing in the books or in the courses I took talked about getting visions which tell my clients' respective stories. However, I can't stop these visions, when I get a question. True to my life path number 7, I started reading up about this and asking as many questions as I could about this "new party trick". I haven't gotten a satisfying answer till today.

I shuffled my new deck, the Wizards Tarot deck in a bid to do a general read for myself last night with a 3-card spread (image below). And I got the 10 of Cups, the King of Wands, and the 4 of Wands Reversed. These were read in an integrated fashion with no fixed positions. Afterwhich, I pulled the 9 of Cups which formed an advice to my spread. Now, I have been doing tarot readings for numerous clients with ease, but this spread threw me off completely. I wasn't sure what to make of the great 10 of Cups and 9 of Cups cards ( which symbolize fulfilment) juxtaposed with the not so fantastic 4 of Wands Reversed which symbolized instability and uncertainties. And I felt like the King of Wands trying to juggle these extremes with as much "balls" as he can master!

I bounced that spread off to one my mentors Brigit, who very kindly helped me by offering her perspective on it. I think I finally see the light.

In her interpretation, she said that the cards were telling me that I was looking at how I could integrate my personal values and beliefs (10 of Cups) into my longer term vision ( King of Wands). That is true. I have been constantly questioning my intuitive skills, managing the tug-of-war between my rational mind and my intuitive skills, managing my career goals vs my passion and trying to build a long term plan with an end vision of capturing all my passions and my goals all at once, in mind. This period is transitory for me, hence I picked the 4 of Wands Reversed, which suggested that I have been unsettled by this period of transition. Most importantly, I picked the 9 of Cups as my advice. Now, note that earlier, I had picked the 9 of Cups as my card du jour and posted my take on it, on my Sun Goddess Tarot facebook page. So to see the 9 of Cups as an advice to this spread was a bit of a surprise for me. Brigit summed that advice as "Be happy with what you have, and see every moment as a blessing. This will make the 4 of Wands Reversed easier to deal with".

Brigit was brilliant. How could I have not seen that coming? You see, one never stops learning. I can be armed with every tarot and numerology book, every professional tarot reading certificate in the world, set up a successful tarot consultancy, Sun Goddess Tarot, and balance all that with managing a marketing career and running a family. Yet, it all boiled down to my needing to be happy with what I had, and to feel blessed with the skills I got and remain open to the universe to guide me along the way.

About The Writer:

The writer of this blog post is a 43 year old mother of one, who spreads her time between her day job as a marketeer at a financial institution, her hobby as a certified professional tarot reader and numerologist, and her family which includes a 19 year old son.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Another Nurse In The Family

Some years ago, when Dad had decided to retire and spend his days surfing the tv channels, I thought that was the worst decision he had made because Dad seemed so mentally active and still had a lot of energy to continue working at the law firm. However, Mum recounted that Dad made that decision shortly after having a bad fall while crossing the road. It seemed odd at that time to me, that Dad would make a major life-changing decision based on a reason that is as frivolous as having a fall while walking. It took me awhile to realize that that fall was the symptom of something more sinister - the onset of a silent stroke.

Stroke and high blood pressure runs through my family, so it wasn't a surprise to me that he'd suffer from it. However, what surprised me was the rapid rate at which Dad's legs gradually lost the strength to walk. His gait turned from a quick shuffle, almost like a dance, to one at glacial pace with him holding the wall, table, chair and anything he could grab onto to steady himself.

And today, Dad's condition obviously deteriorated with age and he needs far more assistance, particularly when he goes into momentary confusion from what I suspect is an onset of Alzheimer's. The critical point where we had decided to quickly hire a helper for Dad, was when he fell at home while gliding at glacial pace from table to wall a few weeks ago. Thank goodness, apart from a couple of bruises, Dad couldn't remember that he fell, just barely a couple of hours later. So that was our warning sign that the next time if he should fall again, the situation could be worse.

Funnily enough, while Dad sometimes don't remember what he had eaten for lunch, he could remember the promises I made to him to buy him a Japanese Teppanyaki meal which he thoroughly enjoys. He could even remember laughable moments with my dog Bailey, and his old jokes from possibly the pre-war days which he repeats to me quite frequently.

One day, he sat at the living room with his pajamas on, and it was only 4.15pm in the afternoon. So I asked him to read the time on the clock which was a fair distance from where he was sitting. Now this old clock had roman numbers and the hands on the clock were quite thin. From a distance, I wouldn't have been able to see what time it was. However Dad could tell me the time so I knew deep in my heart, he was still pretty lucid, just confused sometimes.

So with Dad getting weaker with age and Mom not coping very well looking after him on her own, we had decided to get Dad a nursing-trained helper.

Miraculously, as if the universe heard my prayers, we found Marites through Evelyn. Marites is Evelyn's cousin who incidentally had arrived in Singapore to work for a family barely 3 months ago but that didn't work out, hence she was looking for a new employer. And because Evelyn has worked for my family for the last 6 years, I knew I could trust her instincts in introducing Marites to Mom.

Marites joined the family today. I am so relieved that Dad can now be under constant care, and she will also help ease the pressure off Mom. Though Marites is very young, at 24, her pleasant disposition, her willingness to work hard and learn new things as well as her nursing qualifications will all go to helping bring some light back into Mom and Dad's home.

I used to think the cause of Dad's frustrations, isn't that he is partially disabled, but rather, he has to face that nagging fruit bat of a wife day in, and day out. And the cause of Mom's frustrations, isn't that Dad is partially disabled, but rather, she has to face his often cranky and stubborn disposition as well as his unreasonable demands. Perhaps, with Marites, they both have someone else they can each use as sounding board from time to time, and provide yet another much needed conversational partner at home.

I felt a lot more peace when I managed to find Dad a helper. At least, when Mom goes to the market, runs her errands or even just decide to have some "me" time, I can have peace of mind that Marites is taking good care of Dad.

We often take our helpers for granted. In running our home like the quintessential Chief Operations Officer, I sometimes forget how much peace of mind Evelyn had given me so that I could fully focus on my work and have a quality family life at the same time. Truly blessed.