Author Archives: Valerie Leung

About Valerie Leung

I ♥ Sydney Swans. Square-eyed from too much television. I don't read enough. You can find me blogging at, writing about TV, films and books at and occasionally traveloguing at I have been known to write fanfic at ( and you can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @valshopaholic.

The Present: a Short Story

On the eve of Mother’s Day, I thought of two little girls in Adelaide who lost their mother to cancer seven years ago.  I remembered finding out about Mary’s cancer, her pregnancy and reconnecting with her as adults, chatting about our lives in the intervening years since we first met in high school.

This post is my first attempt at a short story and it was a no-brainer that it would be a dedication to my friend, taken from us too soon.

For Mary

“Hey darl, you want me to pick up some bread and milk on my way home?” Kyle asked over a crackling line.


“Mila?” Kyle asked, concerned. “You there? Can you hear me? Hello?”

“I’m here,” Mila replied. Her voice was barely audible. “Just come straight home, darl.”

“Is everything all right? I’m sorry I couldn’t come with you for the scan today. Bruno’s got me by the nuts at the minute. It’s just…”

“Just come home,” Mila cut him off mid-sentence.

“Okay, I’m about half an hour away if there’s no traffic.”


“Love you,” Kyle said but Mila had already hung up.


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Feel Good February 2018

Random acts of kindness, by definition, are meant to be random and unexpected. Whether it be a pleasant smile to a perfect straIMG-20180204-WA0003.jpgnger, or helping someone heavily-laden with shopping bags carry something to their cars, these are simple things we are all capable of doing (Just don’t be creepy about it!)

Last year, I participated in the inaugural “Feel Good February Create Date” and spent a fun afternoon getting crafty with friends (and in the process, made some new friends). We made a variety of gifts, based on our individual talents and interests, that were then left in public places for strangers to find and keep, or to pass on and shared with others.


Founded in Sydney in 2015 by my friend, Linda Lokhee Pang, Feel Good Feb‘s mission statement is simple: “to encourage and inspire people to initiate random acts of kindness for their fellow community members.” This should be as basic as breathing.

That is why it is wonderful to be reminded, just as we are all settling into our annual new year’s resolutions, to not just focus on our physical health (logging more hours at the gym so far, anyone?), but on our mental and emotional health as well. After all, “feeling good” comes from within, and helping others feel good will also make you feel good, I guarantee it!


Like last year’s Create Date, the 2018 event was attended by friends, families and complete strangers who just wanted to participate in helping others feel good. As we sat around the table being all crafty, my friend Danielle commented, on more than one occasion, how therapeutic and fun the whole experience was. In fact, she had such a lovely time she is planning another Create Date later this month to spread the word.

If you are interested in finding out more about Feel Good February, its founder or other suggestions for random acts of kindness, visit their website, follow them on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. And if you’re keen to know more about Linda, who also happens to be a teacher and children’s book author, you can check out her website.

Don’t forget, #BeKind and #FeelGoodFeb always.

Friendliness To Strangers Is Not A Crime

“Mornin’!” How often do you, if ever, pass by someone on the street, look them in the eye, smile and offer a friendly greeting? It seems lately that we are spending more time with our eyes cast downward as we walk than looking up at what’s in front of us.

All around us, politicians, lobbyists, protestors, and the news, are all-too-eager to point out our differences instead of our commonalities. Suddenly, we are all strangers deserving to be looked upon with suspicion. We don’t like looking someone in the eye anymore, just in case we see something we might not agree with. It may be true, or it may just be in our imagination, but by giving credence to those fears, we start making them true.

I was a volunteer at the Sydney Writers’ Festival earlier this year. During one of my shifts, I was sent down to the shuttle bus stop to assist festival-goers with bus tickets or act as a walking information booth. While I was standing alone at that cold bus stop, I would greet passersby with a smile and a friendly “good morning”. On many occasions, people were caught by surprise that a complete stranger would talk to them. Sometimes, they would return my smile and continue on their merry way. Other times, they would just look annoyingly back at me, as if I dared to interrupt whatever they were daydreaming of.

Well, I think we all need to take some time to look up at the big, wide world ahead of us. Make eye contact. Say “hello” or “good morning” to all the strangers you pass by in the morning on the way to work. Maybe give you bus driver a smile next time you get on, instead of just rushing on. Believe me, if your cheeks start to hurt from too much smiling, it is a good thing. Give it a try. Because friendliness to strangers is not a crime. Don’t let it become one.

It’s OK to not be OK

IMG_20170511_182157_524You cry for no reason. You feel sad, more often than you show. You can’t get out of bed. You feel like the world is against you or that nothing is going your way. You feel like nobody would notice if you weren’t there. You feel anxious about the smallest things.

Have you ever felt like this, or something similar? I have. I know several people who have or are going through these feelings right now. I bet if you’re reading this that you have, too. Furthermore, I bet you know someone who has felt like this. They might even be sitting right next to you or in front of you right now, with smiles on their faces, chatting away breezily, and you’d never know anything was wrong.

20170209_120150It’s nice to see a lot more open discussions about mental health in recent years, but the stigma attached to mental illness is still strong. I’m not saying that having a bad day here and there means you are mentally ill. In fact, I think it’s perfectly normal to have a bad moment or a bad day now and then. Nobody’s life is perfect. I would tend to think there’s something missing in your synapses if you were just happy all the time.

I’m not an expert on mental health so I am not going to be prescribing any miracle cures here and I won’t be dishing out any medical advice*. A close friend of mine is currently undergoing chemotherapy to treat Stage 2 breast cancer. I have accompanied her on several occasions to her treatments. After her first treatment, she gave me a flyer prepared by the Breast Cancer Network Australia titled “Helping a friend or colleague with breast cancer”. In it, they suggest things like making a meal or baking a cake, or driving her to her medical appointments, helping her with her shopping or just a simple visit.

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Checking In

140611-ybb-check-in-app-banner-1170x315pBelieve it or not, we are already past a third of 2017. Yes, it is true! At the start of the year, I set a few simple goals for myself that I had hoped would become a lifelong habit rather than just the usual “New Year’s resolutions” that are usually discarded and forgotten soon after they are made. Well, to recap, here are those goals:

  • Worry less, especially over things I have no control over
  • Write more, starting with #PostAWeek2017
  • Explore a place or experience something I have not done before at least once a month

So, how am I doing so far?

On the “worry less” front, I am not doing so well. I would say this is a big “F”. Sadly, “adulting” is difficult. There are endless bills to pay, decisions to be made, and the realities of life (sickness and death) to deal with. At times, the temptation to stick my head in the sand like an ostrich is too great and I retreat into my imaginary life. But then the alarm goes off and I know it’s time to get up and remind myself that there is still a world of endless possibilities. I just have to focus on those instead.18209003_10155404189741454_3576625733858078065_o Continue reading