15 Things I will Do Differently in 2015

I don’t do resolutions.

I haven’t been much of a resolution setter or keeper the last 5 years, so this post is not so much of setting resolutions. Rather, it is to re-align the changes to reflect the values that matter most to me for my life. My attitude towards these changes that I am planning to take is not about doing things to justify my self-worth, to give myself significance or create a sense of security.

Instead, these changes that I am planning to make revolves around two keywords that God have highlighted to me for 2015.

LoveRTT

These two keywords of Love and Redeem the Time will be the ‘fuel’ for the things that I am planning to do differently this year:

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1. Meet an old or new friend at least once a month.

These old or new friends will not include those that I meet weekly.

You might wonder why this is a big deal for me. Many friends noticed that I retreated into my ‘cave’ for the whole of 2014, and wondered what happened to me. Well, I am back! But it’s not the same Rachel anymore. This Rachel is back with renewed vigor, enthusiasm and hope. If you feeling down in the dumps and need a boost, you know who to call to meet :P

 

2. Make a point to talk to my parents on regular basis, to continue to show them respect and care.

I stay with my mom on the weekdays, so its easy to sit down to have a chat with her. However, with my dad, (whom I am not living with), I have to make that call regularly to meet for a meal or for coffee, just to find out how are things with him. The first half of 2013, I did not call him or speak to him for 6 months, so this has to change!

 

3. Message hb more regularly

Having a spouse that works overseas is not the easiest for me to maintain regular contact with. I don’t like to do Skype or talk on the phone (see point 2). So using phone chat apps are the best thing to have to maintain communication. This might come natural to others, but I do need to make a mental note to message or communicate with hb daily. Weird I know, but I have always been very independent, and before I got married, rather introverted. Probably would have remained an ‘old maid’ if I didn’t get stuck with him in my late teens.

 

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The Christian life is ever changing. A Christian has to be ever willing to make improvements in their character and attitudes, but never compromise their convictions or character.

4. Be a good example.

Live a life like a true Christian and not like a hypocrite, to always practice what I preach.

 

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One of the best paths to making changes in life, I believe, is to focus on self. Don’t focus on thinking that I can change my parents, my friend who is full of trouble or even my hb. How about the naysayers who gossip about me or have nothing good to say? Forget about changing what people think of me. I will just focus on becoming a better person.

5. Lay aside all malice, hypocrisy, envy and gossip.

Watch what comes out from my mouth. I can make the choice to say encouraging things to build up, or condemning words to tear down. Only speak about others with truth and love. I can be a very straight-forward person and I am aware that truth can sometimes hurt, so I need to be gentler and more cautious with the words I use.

 

6. Don’t crave for what others have or own, either through experience or through possessions.

 

7. Be friendly and smile more!

I used to have this frown in my face as I am deep in thought most of the time, but have started making this effort to smile or have this somewhat ‘gentler’ expression. So if eye contact is made, with a stranger, more than 80% of the time, I get a smile back, while 20% of the time I get a quizzical expression :P

 

8. Be Giving.  

Not just with money or things, but give my time to anyone who needs a listening ear, some advice or just be a friend.

 

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9. Write More!

My focus this year is to write more, starting with this blog. Less haphazardly, but with more focused topics that are in line with the mission statement of this blog; ‘Living Life with Meaning and Inspiration.’

 

10. Craft More!

The second half of 2014, I started crafting again, from where I left off a few years ago. This year I will have more reasons to craft ;) It will not just be sewing craft, but fuse beads and paper craft .

 

11. Draw and paint

I took up some lessons on watercolor painting last year and stopped after 10 lessons, due to the lack of time. I don’t plan to continue the lessons but I will spend some time experimenting on my own. Been longingly looking at the jar of watercolor brushes on my desk the last 8 months, and even went to Artfriend last week to buy some new brushes.  So it is time that I do something about it.

 

12. Write some more!

Not just through emails, FB messages or the phone. I will be spending more time writing to friends through snail mail, but not in the penpal sort of way. Maybe the hb will also get some snail mail coming his way :P I will be sharing more on #InHisLoveMail initiative on this blog soon.

 

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13. To be more consistent, especially when it comes to guiding the little boy with his schoolwork

I was not the most effective mom last year when it comes to guiding K in his studies. By December, his assessment books were barely 1/4 completed, and he only managed to complete another 1/4 of the assessment books during the school holidays, and the books ended up being thrown down the rubbish chute.

 

14. To be more disciplined to continue my sessions with K for the Ancient History curriculum, and also start on Creative Writing with him at home.

 

15.  To finally update this blog with more of the Home-Learning articles that was written in 2011-2013 from the old Home-Learning website.

Myplayschool.net, which is now defunct, is a trove of Home-Learning articles accumulated from the 3 years of maintaining the site. There was so much time spent writing these timeless tutorials and ideas, which I believe will be very beneficial for moms who are looking out for Home-Learning ideas to coach their preschoolers.

 

It’s a good thing I place a cap on the number of things that I want to do differently this year, if not, I think I could probably squeeze in at least 10 more! There is so much to do this year, albeit differently from last year. So here’s to a productive, meaningful and inspirational 2015 ahead!

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Next on the ’15 Things I will Do Differently in 2015′ Blog Train will be Irene of Singapore Mom Blogs

IreneSMBA former Flight Attendant who swapped wings for kids. This skinny mom of 3 proudly declares her addiction for food and refuses rehabilitation. She loves taking photos of food and believes that good food are meant to be shared. Even with her wings clipped, and kids in tow, she travels and writes about her family travel adventures. Irene is a professionally trained make up and nail artist who loves sharing tips on how to be a sassy mom.

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Learning to Simplify Life

It’s been 4 months since K and I have been spending most of our weekends without dh. Do we miss not having dh around spending more family time together? For sure, but K and I are managing really well.

So what helped us?

Life can easily get cluttered living in fast-paced Singapore. Most of us tend to want buy more or just do more. Doing more makes us feel productive and ‘its always nice to own more.’ It gets even more challenging when friends seem to have the best lives, have nice things, are able to do plenty of exciting activities with the family, acquire good things for their children and are always planning for their next family vacation round the corner.

Surrounded by many friends who seemed to be living their best lives now, I wondered, is that all life is? It is all about what we have and what we seem to be striving for?

I took a step back to evaluate where we are now as a family and what we want out of life. And I decided that I wanted to live a simple, uncluttered life. This helped tremendously to manage the adjustments and to put things into perspective.

 

3 Steps that I took to simplify life: 

1. Get Rid of the Physical Clutter 

Screen Shot 2014 09 02 at 12 33 07 PMIt starts with clearing physical clutter of possessions. I have sold my home a while back and had to downsize my possessions to fit into a much smaller space. I gave/threw away more than 3/4 of what I possessed. Furnishings, clothing, books, toys, stuff. The things that I am left with now can be kept in 4 closets and some boxes in a storeroom.

I am now tempted to further downsize things in my storeroom. So I try not to visit this storeroom too often, as I will likely end up purging what I see and haven’t used for the past 1 year.

Only buy what you need. This also relates to your debt and finances too, don’t live beyond your means.

 

2. Spend Quiet time at Home

As a blogger, to get invites to experiences for my child is commonplace. It has been 1.5 years, and I have stopped accepting invitations to bring K along for a free ride, free meal or experience in exchange for a writeup on my blog. Besides wanting full control over what I share on this blog, I do not wish to be obligated to write.

Also I  prefer not to over-indulge K, who might start to develop expectations for things. Besides I want to avoid being burdened with the obligation of having to plan for some interesting activity every other weekend.

So exciting outings and activities are kept for the school holiday, and I prefer to plan and pay for my own way, thank you very much :P.

We spend the weekends relaxing and doing the things we enjoy at home, watching DVDs together or playing board games. K gets to scoot, while we run our errands around the neighborhood. Or he plays his video games for a couple of hours, while I catch up on my reading or listen to Christian sermons online while crafting.

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Once a month, we catch a movie together, or eat out in a nice place together, when hb comes back for the weekend.

Holidays are not on our top of our list, as I detest traveling. Travelling disrupts my routines, especially when it comes to my quiet time with God and puts me in a state of complacency spiritually, and I prefer to avoid that.

Having the discipline to set aside time to do this daily, means that it makes no difference when I don’t attend a physical church.

The last time K and I visited Manila for 2 weeks, I had to spend a few days getting used to doing my devotional time in the bathroom for 2 hours. So that’s why going on vacations do not appeal to me at all.

 

3. Don’t Schedule too many things

I made a deliberate effort to shift the focus from activity and accumulation, to just simply spending time together. It meant that I had to schedule less activities daily, have less extra classes to go to weekly. Already having to go for Chinese Enrichment, Judo and Art Class weekly keeps us rather busy on some days.

When I have less things planned mean that we will have less chances of wasting time commuting from place to place, also less probability of having to lose my cool when the boy takes his slow and leisure pace to get ready to leave the house.

 

Simplifying my life comes from my desire to live life from an uncluttered heart and it stems from my hope to align my life to what God wants for me.

It calls for a radical change in lifestyle from what most of us are used to, it is more than just eliminating things from your life that you don’t need, but it also a mindset change to re-direct my time and money into ways that will enrich my life and hopefully, the lives of others around me.

Interesting, when one don’t crave for possessions or experiences, I seem to be blessed with many things and I am never in need. It is like experiencing this verse coming to life, ‘But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. – Matthew 6:33′

The concept of ‘Selling all my possessions, give to the poor and follow Christ (Matthew 19:21)’ is still difficult to follow, since I have a child who is fully dependent on me and I still have bills to pay.

Maybe. one day, when K grows up and becomes independent, that will be a possibility. So no plans for a comfortable retirement for me :P

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‘A life of good days lived in the senses is not enough. The life of sensation is a life of greed;

it requires more and more.

The life of the spirit required less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet.’ – Anne Dillard

 

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The Ultimate Staycation

I am the odd blogger who is not keen on any Stay-cation locally.

Stay-cations have been a huge trend with Singaporeans in recent years, with more locals staying the weekend at a local hotel, enjoy its buffet selection and the use of the amenities. In fact, it is common-place to have stay-cations offered to bloggers, for a blog post in return for a night stay and some meals covered at the hotel.

I think it is too much of a hassle to pack a small luggage for a night stay. And I have issues getting used to a new bed each time when I am away from home. It takes me at least one sleepless night, before I am able to sleep well in the hotel bed the next night. Then, it feels all too anti-climatic to have the check-out of the hotel after 2 nights, just when I have got used to the hotel bed to get a night of restful sleep.

The last Stay-cation I took in Singapore was in 2010, a short ‘vacation’ away from home, without having to leave Singapore, complete with free accommodation, with no strings attached (i.e., not obligated to blog about it). We had fun together as a family, since there were plenty of activities to do in Sentosa. Even then, 3 days was too short.

So this time round, K and I are taking the ‘Ultimate Stay-cation’, of a grand total of 15 days or 1/2 a month.

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From the Land of Banana and Mangoes…

K and I hopped on a plane last weekend to spend some family time with daddy, who is now based in the Philippines.

Manila Philippines might not be the top destination that families will travel to for a vacation. But for us, the quality time spent together as a family is what matters.

Most people have the impression that Manila is not a very safe city, but I think if you are in the hub of the business district, it is relatively safe. As long as you don’t wander into some quiet alley or obscure areas, away from the business or shopping areas.

K and I spend most of our days in hb’s apartment, right in the heart of Makati City, 2 minutes walk away from his office. Hb still has to work on the weekdays, while K and I will walk to his office to have lunch with hb daily.

As for what K and I do in the day while daddy’s at work?

Manila is not exactly a very child-friendly place, and I am not a fan of wandering around malls, so we stay home most of the time.

We don’t have any problems keeping ourselves busy in the day, even though we rarely leave the apartment. Just doing the things that we enjoy, very much like what we will do on rainy / hazy days. Besides watching TV, playing board games and drawing, these are the things we have been doing;

- K is still in his ‘Legolas-warrior-mode’, so he all he needs is a bow and arrow for pretend play.

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- We build Legos…

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- Discovered something to do with beads that helps keep little hands and minds busy, that doubles up as a hand-made Fathers’ Day Gift. One creation from Hama Beads can take up to 2 hours or more to complete, which is great for training his attention span, fine motor skills and spatial awareness.

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- And for some exercise daily, he swims in the swimming pool in the apartment building.

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One of the best parts about Manila has to be how affordable eating-out is.

We eat out for lunch daily and for dinner on alternate days. Lunch in cafes are about $6 – $10 per head, while for dinners, the international selections in Makati City are diverse and at least 30% cheaper than what we get in Singapore. Even grocery shopping in their hypermarkets is cheaper.

So we get to eat well, sleep well and stay well, pretty much all the elements that are needed for an enjoyable stay-cation.

And to complete this ‘Ultimate Stay-cation’? It is having the family re-united and we are just content spending quality time together as a family, just doing mundane things.

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