Living Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Moments

Euphoria have taken over the country the last two weeks. It started with the relentless pursuit of virtual creatures and then went on through the victory of one man, who have become a hero and inspiration for many.

The media frenzy will eventually die down once another major world event happens, but in the meantime, I am suffering from social media fatigue from both news.

Sure we talked about the Champion at home. With K, we discussed how hardworking, determined and motivated he is, to have achieved what he has today. Positive traits that we can all learn from.

Then I posed this question to my hb yesterday morning, ‘Would you have done what the Champion’s parents did for their son, if you have discovered his talent at a young age?’ He answered with a resounding “Of course!” Then he came to a realisation, that hypothetically, this would be any parent would try to do for their child if they could. But realistically, our financial state was not in its best state 6 years ago. It became a challenge to even pay for monthly lessons, so it didn’t matter that K seemed to have showed promise for Tennis or Golf at a tender age of 2.

As for Pokemon Go, K and I discussed about the dangers of getting addicted the game and I showed his articles and photos of the masses who were gathering around a certain neighbour in their pursuit of the virtual monsters. While his school addressed the dangers of phone and game addiction during assembly this week.

The online mobile game does not seem to be not so positive with a group of players disturbing the peace in a neighbourhood and obstructing traffic in other places. And in comparison, there are much positiveness that can be garnered from the Olympic win, since it has provided inspiration for the many to aspire to possible greatness in their ordinary lives. It might have also awaken the latent ’Tiger-Parent’ in some who refuse to consider that their child will just be average.

It is always good to have ambitions, regardless whether it is an aspiration to be the Pokemon Master of Singapore where thousands of fellow Pokemon Trainers look up to, or be that person who have achieved accolades for his/her and become a country’s idol/hero overnight.

Upon retrospection, I realised that both events have a similarity. Both provided the masses emotion highs, although of a different kind, once is caused by instant gratification while the other, celebrates the victory and the glory of one man for the nation.

So what happens after these highs die down, most will be left with the dread of the empty feeling of having to deal with ordinary life. The Pokemon trainers will continue, being drawn to the feelings of instant gratification from the game, while the others will dive into their next goal or objective to reach for their child.

As for the rest of us, who have realised through the years that we are faced with this challenge of having ordinary lives and ordinary children? Pokemon Go is definitely not the answer, and neither do we need to catch them all to find entertainment or meaning from our otherwise mundane life.

There is magic in the mundane, although the world tells you that you need to become this, or have this or that to become happy. I believe we can make the most out of life by finding the joy in the ordinary. Things do not need to change, but our perception do.


I used to think there was a list of things that my son needed to learn before he turned 6, one of them was reading and writing, then swimming, and the maybe riding a two-wheel bicycle. He got around doing most of the things in the list by 8 years old, but never got to learn to ride a 2 wheel bicycle. I didn’t feel that I needed to splurge on a trainer bike when he was a toddler and like all other milestones, like being toilet trained, or sleeping in his own room, I believe there will be a day he would be ready to learn how to do it.

Just this week, it took him two 30min sessions of learning to balance by going down on gentle slopes on a $90 BMX bicycle, without putting his legs on the pedal. And he can now ride a 2 wheel bicycle at the ripe age of 9 years old.

Some parents might exclaim, “So what, my child could ride a 2 wheel bicycle when he/she was 3/4/5 years old.” You can give your child all kinds of ambitions, or relish in the achievement that he/she could learn to read/write/cycle/swim before a certain age, or even sweep up all the awards in school. Not ensuring my child to swim or cycle before the age of 8 years old, or having a child who do not win any awards or accolades through their academic life will make me any less of a good parent.

I stopped sharing K’s milestones or success in this blog or in social media the last few years, as I reflected on what the motivation behind that. I can be proud of my son doing some things, and hope to have friends in Facebook share my joy and pride, or it might make me look like a good and capable mother, or have a very smart/handsome/capable child but I found all of that pointless.

I rather find joy in the ordinary things and in overcoming ordinary life. And really, the biggest challenge in life comes with finding joy and contentment through our everyday.


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Avoiding the Social Media Trap

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A couple of weeks ago, I did an Instagram giveaway for one of my handmades.

So I just went through the motion of asking people to share my post on Instagram, so as to qualify for an entry in the giveaway. Coupled with the requirement of being a follower of my Instagram feeds. One of the Instagram accounts that I am connected to recently did a giveaway, so I blindly followed suit thinking it will be nice to have more followers.

Right after the giveaway winners were drawn, items mailed out to the winners. Then it dawned on me.

Why will I need more followers?

I have never planned to monetize this blog, so having more followers on my social media channels or readers to this blog don’t make a difference. In fact, from last year, I have ceased taking on product or service reviews and I have been turning down invitations for any launch or event.

So why have I stopped doing reviews or to cover activities that benefit my child or the family?

I am embarking on an effort to simplify my family life. You can say that I am depriving my child of being exposed to ‘new and fun experiences’, but I am leading the way for him to learn that joy and contentment doesn’t just come from external stimulation or experiences, but true contentment and joy comes from Who we are spending time with, and NOT What we are seeking it from.

The other reason is, I do not wish to participate in any form of activity that measures this blog or the ‘performance’ of my social media channels.

As a blogger, I think it’s all too easy to fall into this social media trap, where most look to our blogging metrics to define our self-worth in terms of what we think we have accomplished in the blogging world; though our blogging reach, social media followers, or from awards.

The recent reported spat between 2 popular lifestyle bloggers was a good example. So what does it mean to be a ‘top blogger’? If we look beyond the nice-to-haves; being paid to blog or not having to fork out money for some things. Popularity from the blog, or any form of success that we see from our pursuits, do tend to feed the ego.

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I think this quote by Henri Nouwen puts it very aptly, how our ego can be our greatest enemy;

When we start being too impressed by the results of our work, we slowly come to the erroneous conviction that life is one large scoreboard where someone is listing the points to measure our worth. And before we are fully aware of it, we have sold our soul to the many grade-givers. That means we are not only in the world, but also of the world. Then we become what the world makes us. We are intelligent because someone gives us a high grade. We are helpful because someone says thanks. We are likable because someone likes us. And we are important because someone considers us indispensable. In short, we are worthwhile because we have successes. And the more we allow our accomplishments — the results of our actions — to become the criteria of our self-esteem, the more we are going to walk on our mental and spiritual toes, never sure if we will be able to live up to the expectations which we created by our last successes. In many people’s lives, there is a nearly diabolic chain in which their anxieties grow according to their successes. This dark power has driven many of the greatest artists into self-destruction. – Henri Nouwen


I realized that as we age, we have less and less opportunities to experience the feeling of success from what we do, and social media can often give the instant gratification and re-create the feeling of success. It’s the same kind of feeling that we get from positive evaluation of good results, thank you-s from others, or having a popular blog. This immediate feedback of LIKES, Shares and hits on the blog and social media posts, not only gives a value to what we do online, but eventually who we are.

So what does it mean after saying these things?

I think metrics are good indicators of how we are performing on a certain task, in this case, blogging or interaction on social media. However, these metrics or the popularity of your blog or following can’t be the focus of your self-worth or success.

Our self-worth, is shaped by the mundane things that we do, the daily decisions that we make as a mom, wife, daughter, sister and a friend. Getting approval from others from what we write on a blog or through social media, isn’t going to provide us with a sudden revelation of self-discovery.

Self-worth is formed through the slow prodding journey that we take towards being a person of value.

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As for what this means for my blogging journey?

I will continue write about what I am able to see beyond what’s right in front of me, finding meaning and faith to this thing called life.

I will still do giveaways on this blog, on Facebook or Instagram. But the focus will be through sharing  ideas, joy and hope with others, or simply just giving away what I have hand-made or things that I like.

So even if it is just 5 or 50 people reading this blog, I am encouraged to keep on writing in this space.

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Singapore Parents and the Education System : A Parable (Part 2)

Read Part 1 of the Post here.

Let’s say that you were locked in a prison cell, sound asleep, then your Saviour unlocks your prison cell, as well as the cell of others. You wake up and are told by a guard that you are now free to go. You still, remain waiting there, behind the bars, inside your prison cell. You see other prisoners walking about leaving the prison cell, despite being told you are now free. You wait.

Are you still going to wait when you realize that you have new-found freedom that have released you from these chains, that have held you bondage for so long to the cruel task-master?

Think about this : In that journey that tens of thousands of Israelites took in the wilderness after they took the step to leave Egypt, it took them 40 years to get to the Promised land of ‘Milk and Honey’ Canaan. Many died in the wilderness.

As for those who went on to take the land of Canaan, it was all very promising when they saw the vast resources and food that were in Canaan. Many were focused on the Giants that resided in the land and were stumbled by that fear of facing the Giants. Only some saw the hope and went on to conquered their fear and went on to Canaan. While there were also others who died in the wilderness and failed to reach the Promise Land.

You must be thinking, “What a way to continue the post, after telling people to take the step to leave ‘Egypt!”

If you were focused on the ones that failed to get to the Promised Land, then you will be likely focused on your negative thoughts, be paralyzed by the current situation, and will be unable to make any step of change.

How about the ones that finally conquered the Promised Land?

Promiseland1Illustration from here

For those who conquered Canaan, the Promised Land. It was not a typical war of conquest, like what we read throughout human history, of violent warfare and pillage. All the Israelites have to do was to follow God’s instructions, and it did all go well in the end.

So did I tell you to fight against the system? Obviously not. All I did in the last post was to encourage you to change your mindset and think differently.

And if you are a fellow Christian, have you started to reflect on the world’s ways of telling you how to raise your children, is truly in line with God’s ways?

Do the Exodus

Some parents did the ‘Exodus’ by homeschooling. However, this is not the panacea for all. I am for one, who will not be able to take the home-schooling option and will be putting my child through a regular government school.

So how have I taken the first step to leave ‘Egypt’?

First, I made a choice to go with a ‘regular’ school vs a top choice in the neighborhood, which incidentally, hb was an alumni of the latter. If you were to compare the popular choice, i,e, a top chinese school located in Marine Parade with what I have decided to go with, the final choice will be perceived as an inferior selection. There were even places leftover that were not taken up from this school at the last day of phase 2C, so go figure.

It must be a lousy school then.

I like to see it as ordinary, not lousy, as there are still plenty of benefits of being ordinary in this situation.

As for tuition, I am not sure how long I can’t keep that away from my child. So if a need arises for additional coaching, so be it.

I will still encourage my child to put in his best effort to learn from school. If he encounters failure, it will be a good opportunity to learn from his failure and to build his resilience. There will be no burning of books or homework at the end of major exams. As it is just school and exams, there isn’t a necessity to make such a big deal out of it. And if relatives at family gatherings ask me about his results. All they are going to hear from me, will be “Okay lor…”

The Journey into the Wilderness

I have just started traipsing through the wilderness and will likely be getting to the thick of things from mid of next year.

I like to think that with this mindset change, I am taking a chance for a better life for my child and for myself, as a parent. My eyes are wide open to the false comforts and security of what the society thinks is best for my child. The picture painted for all may seem very promising, but I have stared ugliness of the world’s ways and standards in the face, and seen how she has been a harsh task-master for many children and parents.

Just like it was in the story of the Exodus, there will be some time spent in the Wilderness.

But it takes too long! You say. I would be lying if I were to tell you that you can get ‘Your Best Life Now.’. Good things will come to those who wait patiently, and persevere.

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Nobody ever said that it was easy to leave conventional mindsets and adopt a differing mindset.

It took the Israelites 40 years of wandering around the desert before they reached Promised land of Canaan. In ancient days, the trip from Egypt to Canaan would have taken them 11 days at the most, considering that they had so many people, triple that and make it 33 days.

The journey took them so long simply because they refuse to be in tune with God plans for them. They were a stubborn, disobedient, rebellious, stiff-necked people who complained incessantly and were constantly ungrateful for the good things that God did for them. In fact, one generation failed to get into the Promised Land, simply because of idolatry.

So after hearing all of this. Is it better to die with the chains around your ankles in slavery or take the step into the wilderness and believe that there is a Promised Land that can be conquered? It is a choice that each of us have to decide for ourselves and our children.

What kind of mindset are you living with today?

Is your mindset going to make you feel trapped and powerless under the bondage of not accepting failure from your child? Or are you just concerned about what people, relatives, friends think about you and your children?

When you eventually decide to take that step out of ‘Egypt’, will you have an attitude that will get you to the Promised Land in DAYS or in YEARS?

The step that will carry you into the Promised Land is that very same step that moves you out of Egypt. Are you able to take that leap to change your mind?


A note for fellow Christians :

Your feet may get weary when you are walking away from ‘Egypt’ and pressing towards the Promised land. If you are battling doubt, fear, hopelessness, insecurities, whatever it may be that will take your mind captive. Remember, just like what God has promised the Israelites through the wilderness. God will carry you safely in His arms, shower manna from the heaven and supply water for you to quench your thirst from the rock. Most of all, He has promised your freedom from that captivity.

When His son, Jesus, died on the cross, you were set free. All you need to do is to claim your freedom.

Screen Shot 2013 10 22 at 4 00 39 PMIllustration from here


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