You 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.
It’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.
Believe 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. Continue reading
I have a lot of pet peeves. I didn’t realise just how many things annoy me until I started to write them down.
What is up with this? They make a lot of noise. They blow leaves from one spot and scatter them to another. If Dyson can invert the technology they are most famous for from sucking up dirt into a bag to hand-dryers, hair-dryers and bladeless fans, why can’t whoever makes the leaf-blowers just suck up the leaves like vacuum cleaners? If they already exist, then why aren’t all gardeners using them already? (Do you hear me, neighbours?!)
Where did you get your license?
Poor driving is a very broad category so we could be here for a while. Let’s start with people who don’t understand the concept of signalling. Is it really that hard? You use that little indicator stick “thingy” in your steering wheel when you want to turn a corner or change lanes. Pretty obvious to me. Also, even if you have trouble telling the difference between your left and right, all you have to do is know which side you want to turn your car to and indicate in that direction. The number of times I have seen people indicate left and then turn right, or vice versa, is astonishingly high.
How about people who brake going uphill? You may think I am joking, but I assure you I am not. I can understand the need to brake and slow down when going downhill, especially if it is a steep decline, but the law of gravity generally means that, in order to progress up a hill, you need to accelerate to move upwards. This happened many years ago when I was a passenger in a car that was following one such driver. Whoever the instructor was who taught that driver was obviously asleep during the lesson.
And then there are the inconsiderate parkers. I’m talking about the people who take up two parking spaces by parking over their assigned space, those who park in disabled spots when they are not mobility-restricted, those who double park in driveways so that you can’t get out or those who park too close to your driver’s side door so that you can’t get back into your car. If you don’t have a sun roof, good luck getting in.
Tailgaters. Need I say more? Continue reading
Photo courtesy oscar.go.com
When I was a kid, I used to love watching the annual Academy Awards. Even if I was probably too young to have seen any of the nominated films, the family would gather to watch the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. Bob Hope was a family favourite. And then Billy Crystal became our new family favourite. His opening numbers set a new standard for all award shows. Jack Palance doing one-armed push-ups on stage to receive his Best Supporting Actor award at the age of 77 remains one of my favourite Oscar moments.
The 2017 Oscars are memorable, too. You don’t have to have been one of the millions of people who watched it live around the world to know this. I haven’t sat down to watch the Academy Awards broadcast for a few years now. The show seems to go painfully longer every year as each successive host tries to add more “fun” into the audience experience. Here’s how I envisage their production prep meetings went:
Producer: ” We need to keep the show to three hours.”
Host: “We need to do better than the last host.”
Director: “We need to give the audience something memorable, like a few big production numbers, and maybe a prank on someone.”
Producer: “Great. Now don’t forget we need to keep the show to three hours.”
Host: “Now, the nominees are nervous and anxious. Let’s do something funny to ease their anxiety.”
Director: “Great idea. How about we throw the spotlight on a few other people who got snubbed just to remind the nominees how lucky they are to have been nominated then they won’t feel so bad if they lose?”
Producer: “And let’s not forget, we need to keep the show to three hours.”
Show night. Four and a half hours later…zzzzzzzzzzzzz. Continue reading
During the 2016 US election, the now-President based his campaign on the promise to “Make America Great Again” and on inauguration day, the newly-minted 45th POTUS declared he would make “America First”.
In response to this promise, the Dutch news satire show, Zondag met Lubach, decided to make The Netherlands Second. For the geographically-challenged, their campaign highlights all the best things about the Netherlands. (Author update: unfortunately, due to copyright issues, this video has been removed from YouTube. Boo!)
Shortly after the Dutch video went viral, the bid to outdo them began. The Germans joined in with their version and before you know it, a string of other countries around the world began to vie for this “enviable” position of becoming second – Iran, Italy, Luxembourg, Denmark, Portugal, Austria and the list goes on. Even my own country, Australia, decided to join in following the controversial phone call between POTUS and our Prime Minister. However, we threw in a twist: our message was less about “Making Australia Second” and more about “bomb Australia last”.
Many years ago on Mother’s Day, I told my mother that she should be giving my sister and I presents instead of the other way around. My logic was simple: without us, she would not be a mother. Similarly, on my birthday, I should be giving her and Dad presents because I would not be here without them. After all, I had nothing to do with my being here. Of course, I was just being cheeky – we all know we should be celebrating our mothers every single day, am I right?
This year, Australia Day and Chinese (Lunar) New Year occur 2 days apart. Normally, my family follows the very Aussie tradition of doing a BBQ on Australia Day. If it is a hot day, we would jump in the pool, make up some ridiculous games that usually end up with someone (me) getting a cramp or pulling a muscle, but always laughing till our cheeks hurt. Chinese New Year is traditionally celebrated with family dinner on the night before the new year, a time for everyone to down-tools, put the past year behind us and start afresh.
Over the past several weeks, my family has experienced the loss, half a world away, of a close family friend and then a family member. Both took us a little by surprise. So we decided to keep our celebrations a little low-key this year. A friend asked me the other day how I was going to be celebrating this year. I replied: “Well, we are going to do the opposite of what everyone else is doing. We are going to a Chinese restaurant on Australia Day and then we’re going to a steak restaurant for Chinese New Year.”
Buck the trend. Dare to be different.
January 21, 2017.
I am not an activist. I never cared much for politics, politicians or the monotonous drivel they always tended to spout. I was never part of a student union while at university. I never joined any protests or rallies or attended any town hall meetings. In fact, I daresay decades of listening to people go on and on about things that neither affected me nor interested me made me into one of millions of apathetic people who inhabit this earth.
I never considered myself a feminist either. Not because I didn’t believe in women’s causes such as gender equality, anti-discrimination or planned parenthood. I just never felt personally impacted by these “issues”. When I was a kid, I climbed trees and my father taught me how to fly a kite. When my sister and I got our driver’s license, he taught us how to change a car tyre because you never know if you might get stranded in the middle of nowhere with nobody to help you (mind you, this pre-dated the arrival of mobile phones). Our parents taught us to be financially independent so that we never had to rely on “marrying rich”, or marrying at all.
Reflecting on these issues now, it occurs to me that the reason why I was so apathetic is because I have been blessed – though some might just want to call me lucky – or maybe I was just too blind to see all the discrimination and inequality happening around me. It never occurred to me that I might not have got a job because I am female or that I am an immigrant; or that perhaps I was getting paid less than a male counterpart. I am not homeless, nor do I live with any kind of physical or mental disability that might challenge my day-to-day existence. I don’t have any illness that requires costly medicine or treatments. I have never experienced domestic violence, sexual violence, or indeed, any act of “random” violence or acts of terrorism.
I am blessed and never before have I been made more acutely aware of just how blessed I am until recently.