A Month is Over, A New One Begins

In the past month, I have challenged myself to a monthly challenge so to speak with the aim of forming useful habits and motivating myself into achieving short-term goals that would play a huge part in the long-term. Now, as we draw close to the end of the 1st Monthly Challenge, I would like to take the time to evaluate my successes and failure and to also plan the next monthly challenge.

Previously the goals for the month of May was to:

  1. Complete the Bar Brothers’ Requirements:
    a) 7 Muscle Ups
    b) 25 Parallel Bar Dips
    c) 10 Wide Grip Pull Ups
    d) 20 Pistol Squats
    e) 10 Full Leg Lifts
    f) 7 Muscle Ups
  2. Read:
    a) The Alloy of Law by Brandon Sanderson
    b) The Shadows of Self by Brandon Sanderson
  3. Produce three videos
  4. Post an article/blog post a day

So, I achieved most of the goals that I have set for the month except for the Bar Brothers’ Requirements as I am still trying to do a muscle up. I have actually expected this to happen as training for a muscle up would take a lot of time for the first one. However, eventually, once I am able to do the first one, it would be easier to progress from there.

For my reading goal, I was actually very much surprised at my ability to read those two books in the span of 5 days. I actually felt that I underestimated myself. I would take that into account for my next monthly challenge.

To boost my creativity and skills, I had decided to produce three videos and write an article every single day and I am proud to say that I managed to achieve both! Producing those three videos was a pretty exciting project. I was completely engrossed in making them and had fun too. One of the videos was about opening up ourselves to the criticisms of others and I have to say that that project allowed me to see myself in the perspectives of others. Apart from that, I have uploaded vlogs and even making them were exciting to me and I really want to captivate the viewers by making aesthetically-pleasing vlogs.

By posting regularly on my blog, it has helped me to think more creatively about the world and to question so many things. Ideas churn out from my brain smoothly and I believe that that would be a crucial skill in life. Furthermore, I can say that my writing has improved and hopefully, the improvements will continue. With the combination of frequent reading and writing the past month, I feel myself drawn to the wonders of creative writing or fiction. I am drawn to the beauty of how fiction authors write their stories along with the way they are able to describe a scenario so vividly, like that of a kiss or an argument. So, I have started writing mini stories on my Instagram testing out my abilities.

To be honest, the past month has been a month of creativity and self-awareness. A month where I discovered myself loving creating in the forms of writing and video, a month where I seem to be progressing in my journey to be self-aware and a month that I felt that actually mattered.

The lessons that I have learned are valuable ones that cannot be taught, they are lessons that can only be gained through experience. I hope for more valuable months ahead.

In the next month, from 1st June – 1st July, I hope to push myself:

  1. Fitness:
    a) Bar Brothers’ Requirements
    b) Deadlift 140kg X 5
  2. Read:
    a) Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
    b) Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk
    c) The Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson
    d) Landline by Rainbow Rowell
  3. Produce eight videos
  4. Take a photograph and post a mini story on Instagram every day

This is the tentative list, it might change by tomorrow. 🙂

 

 

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I Am Starting to Feel Regret

Three months had passed since my stint in the Singapore Civil Defence Force ended. Three months in of my 5-month break before university begins. Three months of seemingly rotting at home.

I am starting to feel regret for the way I used my time during these three months.

I should have worked, I should have signed up for classes, I should have eaten better, I should have learned new skills and I should have done so much more… but I didn’t.

I sat at home, I procrastinated, I ate horribly and I did not pick up any new skills. I was a mess.

However, even though I seemingly ‘waste’ a lot of time, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the free time I had to pursue creativity, to read and to write. I enjoyed the free time I had to pursue anything that was in my immediate interest. I enjoyed the free time to ponder and think, to contemplate and dream, to envision and predict. I enjoyed every moment of it. I was a mess but in those three months, I managed to ‘Know Thyself’ and I am confident enough to say that I am self-aware.

I was a mess but in those three months, I managed to ‘Know Thyself’ and I am confident enough to say that I am self-aware.

To others, it might seem that I am wasting my time and I should have instead applied for a part-time job. They argue that it is better to use my time to generate money than seemingly rotting at home, I disagree. I needed the time to think, to compose and to understand myself.

Three months to think?!

Knowing Thyself is not an easy task and it never will be. It takes time to understand your habits, experimenting with different techniques and structuring different programmes and I am sure that putting in the time would be a good investment for my future.

Staying Curious

Most of us might be trapped in a bubble called Busyness. Even though we feel the effects of it every single day, we continue pursuing Busyness thinking that because we are busy, we are actually being productive.

The instant regret that comes right after making a decision, the difficulty in coming up with ideas and the constant feeling of weights on the shoulders… Those are pretty clear signs that you are trapped in that Busyness bubble.

I believe that the most important skill that goes away quite quickly when we spent too long in Busyness is the skill of being curious. I am sure you have seen babies wide-eyed as they look at their surroundings seemingly devouring every single information from the leaves of the nearby palm tree to the lapping of the waves on the beach. Babies also seem to want to touch everything that interests them and sometimes, they would even repeat a movement over and over again such as that of the door, analysing and trying to understand how it works. Babies are innately curious of their surroundings and it is they thrive in information-rich environments.

However, unfortunately, as we grow up, we become less curious, keeping our thoughts to ourselves and asking fewer and fewer questions. Do you remember the last time you asked a question out of pure curiosity? Precisely…

We might not want to ask many questions as adults because we might be afraid that we seemed ignorant and even uneducated. We might even be afraid of asking the wrong questions so we put it off altogether. However, I honestly believe that it is because of society’s obsession with expecting someone to know in-depth about particular topics that make us so afraid.

As we suppress our child-like urge to ask questions as we age, we are also unconsciously suppressing our inner curiosity and creativity. We no longer wonder about how things work and why some things happen. We just… let them be because it is what it is…

Curiosity is important and it can play a huge role in our lives no matter how old we are. Curiosity is not just about asking questions for the sake of asking questions but instead, it is about learning and discovering, it is about feeding that child inside all of us.

Curiosity is discovering or re-discovering the world through the eyes of a child.

One by One, They All Die

The atmosphere was filled with grief and sadness. When you listened closely, you could hear people holding back tears while others were quietly crying into a handkerchief. You stood there, head down as if in prayer as a sign of respect to the deceased. You recognised this atmosphere all too well, it is after all the 10th funeral that you have attended in the past year. The deceased was a close friend of yours, one that you had spent countless hours, night after night, talking and laughing about life and the past. You had known the deceased for almost 40 years now and to find out that he is finally gone had broken your heart… well… should have…

You seemed to have gotten used to it. Used to the deaths of your loved ones and dying in general. You know that you should feel heartbroken and destroyed but… you just don’t seem to be. Maybe, you finally realised the futility of it all. People die and it is only a matter of time. Furthermore, you thought that it might be better to die in these golden years.

You had lived your life. You had achieved all the dreams that you wanted, each period of your life represented by a ticking off of the bucket list. You had seen the world, met countless types of people from various backgrounds and ethnicities. You have heard stories and told them too, sharing and exchanging knowledge. You have visited the edges of the world and done some incredibly crazy things but most importantly, the biggest goal of all, you were married to a wonderful person and had grown old together.

Slowly, the body was lowered into the ground, prayers were quietly said beneath breaths and soil was carefully placed onto the body, bit by bit filling up the grave. A final good-bye was said and the crowd of dark and grieving colours dispersed. You knelt down silent, one hand on the grave, listening to the cool breeze against the grass and taking in the flowery scent emanating from the air.

“This is it, is it?”, you spoke, talking to no one.

You closed your eyes trying to stop the tears that were threatening to roll down. You breathed in deep, forcing back the tears but… to no avail. Your mind wandered about your own mortality and how one day you would find yourself on your deathbed, clinging to life, how one day you will be 6 feet under too. You cried, tears streaming down your cheeks as you thought about how your memories, experiences and the life that you had lived will all disappear. You thought about the amount of time you had left… Your days are numbered.

However, after all of that, you began to realise that you are grateful. You are grateful for being life to enjoy this world. You are grateful to being able to meet everyone that you had learned to love. You are grateful for being able to live such a long and beautiful life…

After wiping the tears away, you stood up and walked away. As you walked away, you wondered about when will you come back to the cemetery again and in what state, in a coffin or in a crowd? Whatever it is, your mind is clear and you accept whatever comes your way, it would be selfish to want to live forever wouldn’t it?

 

Stories

Stories. They can make the heart yearn, eyes tear and lungs to spill out laughter.

Everyone loves a good story. From the moment we are born, we have always been fascinated by the sound and the intonation of the voices of our mothers as they read to us stories. As a baby, with eyes wide, we look at our mother’s lips moving as stories come flowing out. We are amazed especially by stories with heroes and mythical beings like dragons and flying horses. Soon, we aspire to be like such heroes, to be strong and skilled like Hercules or as bad-ass as Batman. As we grow up, our fascination for stories did not wane. We watch movies, read thick novels and even create stories of our own. We are basically obsessed.

I believe we are drawn into stories because of several things, the hero, the climax and a happy ending. The hero represents someone that we envisioned to become, someone that is brave and strong and maybe intelligent but being a hero, he has to have a minor flaw be it physically or emotionally. Next is the climax, the part where a problem is delivered to the hero and thus, the hero has to solve it despite his/her flaw. The struggle for the hero to overcome this adversity is fascinating to us as it reflects our own troubles in real life. It reminds us that even though the hero is almost perfect, he/she still has that flaw that makes them human or just like us. It allows for relatability and connection between the audience and the characters in the story. Finally, the ending. Most stories end on a happy note such as a Prince saved the Princess and they get married happily ever after or the hero finally managed to overcome such horrible adversity and brought the villain to justice. It reminds us that good will always prevail and that whatever adversity we face, it is still within our power to find a solution to it.

Next is the climax, the part where a problem is delivered to the hero and thus, the hero has to solve it despite his/her flaw. The struggle for the hero to overcome this adversity is fascinating to us as it reflects our own troubles in real life. It reminds us that even though the hero is almost perfect, he/she still has that flaw that makes them human or just like us. It allows for relatability and connection between the audience and the characters in the story. Finally, the ending. Most stories end on a happy note such as a Prince saved the Princess and they get married happily ever after or the hero finally managed to overcome such horrible adversity and brought the villain to justice. It reminds us that good will always prevail and that whatever adversity we face, it is still within our power to find a solution to it.

Finally, the ending. Most stories end on a happy note such as a Prince saved the Princess and they get married happily ever after or the hero finally managed to overcome such horrible adversity and brought the villain to justice. It reminds us that good will always prevail and that whatever adversity we face, it is still within our power to find a solution to it.

As we dwell into this topic of stories, maybe I should also remind all of us that everyone also have a story, a story that they might want to share. Sometimes, it could be a story of adversity, trials and tribulations such as a death of a loved one or the events leading to a divorce. It could also be a story of happiness such as the moment their baby was born or when they fell in love for the first time. Good or bad, happy or sad, all of us have a story to tell. It is up to us whether we want to listen to them.

Stories are fascinating and it is especially fascinating to me. It does not matter whether it is a story from a book or in real life, stories are stories and I believe that if we listen closely and analyse the stories being told, we can learn a great deal from it.

Maybe I should document more stories.

It’s One of Those Days

Demotivated, crushed and self-doubt creeping in slowly… such are the signs of one of ‘Those’ days.

You might be practising gratitude and a 20-minute meditation as you usually do every morning but on one of those days, you just feel different. Your mind is all clogged up, you cannot think straight, you feel completely unmotivated and lazy, and your whole body is just telling you to stop doing anything.

No matter what you try to do to solve it and start the day afresh, it always turns out to be futile. You tried taking a shower, eating a full meal, exercise and even a nap but you just get that feeling of dread and tiredness.

Unfortunately, I have no solution that I can share with you but I am pretty sure such days come in cycles. Sadly for me, today was such a day. I woke up feeling bloated and tired, I tried eating proper but that did not help, that too with drinking lots of water. My head feels like it is being pounded continuously and the back of my eyes hurt when I look at the screens of my devices. I decided to then take a break from electronic devices and started reading a book. It felt a wee bit better but not as much as I hoped for. My stomach still feels bloated even as I am writing this article.

I hate such days because I can never put my mind to do what I have to do.

Well… that is all that I can say and I hope that this feeling will come to pass.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

The Beauty of a Smile

A smile can brighten up the life of anyone.

I have always been amazed by the power and beauty of a smile. The angle of the eyes, the fluttering of the eyelashes, the wrinkling of the nose and the curve of the lips. A powerful expression, an expression that can be defined as so many emotions. A smile can show happiness, worry, nervousness, sadness, sarcasm and even anger, with just the change in the angle of the eyes or maybe the number of teeth shown.

A smile can be genuine like the smile someone uses when he is talking to his crush or when someone is ecstatic to meet her idol. However, a smile can also be a front. A front to cover a person’s true emotions inside such is a smile that hides the pain of a loss.

Thus, I admire the way a writer is able to capture a smile and put them in words, describing each aspect in vivid detail. They are able to describe the subtle differences between the smile exchanged between two lovers and the smile expressed by an elderly man. For a majority of us, we would keep it simple, describing a smile as just a smile unable to capture the true quality and emotion of it. I believe that we might want to know how to accurately describe a smile because it might teach us to truly appreciate it when someone smiles at us.

With a multitude of different ways one can express it, a smile is powerful. It can cause a person’s heart of flutter in delight or another to feel accepted. It can change the way we interact with people when smiles are used correctly.

Now, I hope that I can capture as many smiles as possible. 🙂

“Her easy smile could stop a man’s heart. Her lips were red. Not the garish painted red so many women believe makes them desirable. Her lips were always red, morning and night. As if minutes before you saw her, she had been eating sweet berries, or drinking heart’s blood. No matter where she stood, she was in the center of the room.”

— Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind