Good Reads?

I resolved to read 25 books this year and so far, I’ve read five. That’s not that much but I’ve been struggling through books. Unfortunately, I have some books on my to-read list that don’t quite jump out at me. But I’m determined to muddle through.

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Here is what I’ve gotten through in the last two months:

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Three out of those books fall under the category of ‘feminist literature’- they were interesting reads, to say the least. While all three women are heavy-weights in the Feminist Movement arena, reading these books remind me of the importance of intersectional feminism, and how each of us has our own definitions of what it means to carry that label.

Did I agree with everything they wrote? No. Did these books kick my ‘spirit into high gear’? No. For me, these books are compilations of raw and honest essays that provide more ‘food for thought’ in areas I can relate to. These books keep the conversation going and I think that’s the biggest takeaway.

The other two were easier reads, thankfully. The David Nicholls book was turned into a movie many years ago, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. I read it on the plane ride to Miri and I found it quite enjoyable. Weirdly enough, I like David Nicholls’s other book, ‘Us’, better than this one. Still a good read in the end. I may watch the movie 🤷‍♀️

I bought My Not So Perfect Life because I wanted something light and fun, and Sophie Kinsella typically delivers on that front. It’s a chick-lit book that Kinsella fans would enjoy. I liked it. Sure, the plot got a bit too convenient towards the end, but that’s kinda what you expect from her work, so it doesn’t ‘disappoint’.

I am always happy to click READ on GoodReads and see the bar on the side move forward. I’m ‘2 books ahead of schedule’ for my 25, so that’s nice.

I hope you’re getting along with your resolutions this year, and if you’re reading anything particularly scrumptious, I’m up for recommendations. That is, once I’ve finished the other four books I have on my list.

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Happy is a Strong Word

I guess the following can sound like an advertisement, which in a sense it is.

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I had a rough November-December and one of the things I talked about was getting to a better place mentally. I wish I could say that I’m all better now and that everything is smooth sailing. That would be nice, wouldn’t it?

I mentioned before that I found something to help with the process but unfortunately that fell through. It didn’t work out as well as I hoped it would but I did find something else, purely by accident, which has worked somewhat. But the thing with it is that it’s supposed to be a work in progress.

I’m not here to play cryptic games- It is a book called HOW TO BE HAPPY (or at least, less sad). Now is that a title or what?

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I found out about this book from watching this video from Josh Sundquist in collaboration with 100days, the YouTube channel where John Green and his friend Chris Benzine work on all aspects of fitness for 100 days. It was something in passing but the title stuck out to me.

It was created by Lee Crutchley as a workbook to help people who are ‘not happy’ feel less sad. He writes in the introductory section of the book “In fact, the working title for this book was Have You Tried Being Less Sad?” Honestly, I would have picked up that book, too. But it has a snappy title that does immediately catch your attention if you are seeking a way to be less unhappy.

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Lee does not promise ‘all the answers’ or a ‘secret’ to feeling better.

This book will not fix you, and it will not make you happy

I like that he’s blunt about that because it’s true. The point of the book is to push you to put to paper things that may help you feel less miserable. There are pages to be filled with questions and diagrams. They’re not ‘easy answers’. The statements require you to dig deep and ponder your existence (sometimes at least). You have to put in effort to fill them up, so in a way, using this book is a choice- you are choosing to try to be happy, or ‘at least less sad’.

I have been using the book for little under a month now and it has been therapeutic. I am not in the position to afford therapy but this comes close.

The following pictures are from his website because I’ve filled some of them in, and also, these are better pictures than what I could take:

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Anyway, if it’s something you might be interested in, do look up the book. It’s been helpful to me.

Have a great week ahead! x

#BeKindToOneAnother

Part of my resolutions this year was to do more ‘kind things’ because apparently, doing nice things for other people makes you feel more positive about yourself because you’ve made someone happy. I like making people happy and I am striving to be happier in my daily life. So, here are two things that I did in January to achieve that.

Galentine’s Day stems from the creative geniuses behind Parks and Recreation. It’s a day to celebrate your female friends, commemorated annually on February 13. Last year, I made joke-Vday cards but I decided to make slightly more meaningful ones this year, with backgrounds ripped from my old Lilly Pulitzer planner. While some managed to reach on the day itself, or slightly before, some arrived a day or two later, while a couple did not make it at all 🤷‍♀️; foiled by the postal service.

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Another fun project was taking 21 photos from the bottom of the KLCC Twin Towers for the Love Across Distances project. It’s where you help someone take a photo of a sentence, typically ” (insert name of significant other), (person who requested it)’s love for you is so big it has reached (location where you’re taking the photograph).” So a few weeks ago, I dropped by the KL Twin Towers really early took the photos and left in in the span of 15 minutes. Here’s an example of how it turned out:

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While both projects were really fun to do in January, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that again in the upcoming years. We’ll have to see. I hope you had a nice Galentine’s +/- Valentine’s Day!

Happy Galentine’s Day

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I have always had daring, brave women in my life and thankfully, the media has provided wonderful role models for me growing up. I thank Parks and Recreation for introducing me to the concept of Galentine’s Day because it’s important to celebrate the women in your life.

I am thankful for each and every woman who has been a part of making me the person I am today, for being patient with my temperament, for being inspirational and kindly. Thank you for your love, thank you for your friendship, thank you for presence in my life.

I love you all dearly.

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Spoiler Alert

Here’s something new to recognise:

Much to my detriment, I have always been the type of person who feels a bit too much. It is a gift and a curse to empathise too quickly, to feel emotions too deeply, to wear your heart on your sleeve.

It borders on ridiculous when I feel too much about fictional characters that are.. fictional. They are not real but to my mind’s eye, they’re flesh and blood.

All my favourite characters die.

Yes, that is an overstatement. But a good many die and I feel way too much over them. I cannot separate fact from fiction when I immerse myself in an art-form, be it books or stage or TV or movies. I feel for the characters a bit too much. It’s unhealthy, that’s for sure.

The Fox and the Hound was particularly scarring. Matthew Cuthbert dying on paper made me cry for a good hour. I actually use his death as a ‘tool for crying’ when I needed to be devastated on stage- which works because I do get teary. Dobby died. Fred Weasley died. Tibby Rollins died. Alternate Timeline Lincoln Lee died. Allison Argent died. Michael Cordero died.

And it’s not like I cry only when I watch the show. There’s a mourning period I go through, much like if I lost someone I loved in real life. I take it to the extreme.

While being part of a fandom on Tumblr does exacerbate this ‘condition’, it’s something I’ve ‘gone through’ even before I joined the damn site.

I hate that I cry so much over people who are not real. If I should psychoanalyse myself, maybe it does stem from something a vocal teacher told my mom once- that I could not sing with emotion because I was too young and I did not know how to feel the same sadness, or longing, or joy that the song required. So, maybe, to make up for my own lack of experience, I live vicariously through characters that are not real. I make their pain, the joy, their anger.. I make them all mine.

And that is very screwed up.

I don’t know where I’m going with this. Why can’t I just have ‘regular’ emotional ranges and not feel as much?

Food Metaphor

I do love my metaphors and I do love chocolate. So does Forrest Gump’s mom- and yes I know, the actual quote is “Life WAS like a box of chocolates”, but it makes sense to put it in present tense for my purposes.

Here’s the video of January, the first of the twelve 2017 ones I’m commited to making. I wanted to do a ‘real life’ video where I use actual M&M’s but the shots were quite shaky (don’t have a tripod!) and I couldn’t really get what I wanted smoothly. Also, I ate the M&M’s 🤷‍♀️

So what are the M&M’s suppose to be?

General life plans like getting into college, getting the right grades, getting into the ideal workplace, that sort of thing. Sometimes things go exactly as you planned them and those are great times. Other times, a little diversion is required because of a small hurdle but you get back on the path you chose. And then there are those paths that you have to create as you go along because you find that the original plan fell through completely, or you realised things were not what you expected them to be. Your Blue M&M turned out to be a Red one, and you cannot run from it, you embrace that step because it’s not too bad. It’s all a step forward and that’s always a good thing.

Do you get where I’m coming from?

Life is a like a box of chocolates in the sense that there are different flavours and different fillings. Not all of them are to your liking but they’re wholly bad. You just have to adjust your perspective.

Have a great weekend! And Happy Lunar New Year 🐓🎉

 

Being Calm

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Practicing mindfulness is something I’ve spoken about on this blog because it had been part of the curriculum in my five years of medical school. I can still remember the sessions we had- we were all divided into groups and given a tutor to guide us through it. There were a number of weeks in the first semester when we did it, all of which were very immersive and pretty ‘out there’ in terms of something to actually study. I was surprised that this was actual course material.

We would practice eating food and taking our time to savour things. We would do Progressive Muscle Relaxation that would sometimes send someone to sleep. It was kooky in a sense, but there is data to back all of this up. Kooky works sometimes.

Anyway, part of my resolutions this year was to meditate every day. I have not done that. My longest streak was 12 days and I fell off the bandwagon a bit this week. I got tired more easily, which is a signal that I’m about to have my period, and ended up skipping out on a number of sessions.

But I am resolving to be better at forgiving myself and allowing each day to be a new start.

So, meditation requires a lot of focus. I downloaded the Calm app (the light blue one in the bottom row) earlier this year and it’s been very helpful. You can start with the 7 Days of Calm, which works as a beginner’s stepping stone into what mindful meditation is. The sessions are all under 10 minutes and you can do it in your own time.

My mind definitely wandered a lot, and that is okay. The guided meditation talks you through those moments and assures you that a wandering mind is normal and that you simply have to draw your thoughts back into the moment.

After the 7 Days, you can upgrade to the premium subscription to unlock other 7 Days of ‘something’. I have not done that just yet. It is a pretty penny when you don’t earn anything or even if you earn something but not in USD. There are great free resources too, which is nice because it still includes you despite the fact that you cannot afford the premium subscription. There are guided and unguided meditations, and you are able to pick the duration you would like to meditate for. However, once I do start working, this is definitely something I will consider purchasing premium for.

I think there are other meditation apps out there, Headspace being another popular one. If you think this is something you’d like to jump in on, it’s completely free for the basic subscription.

I find that meditation helps me with keeping a clearer head. It gives you a sense of groundedness which I need. What’s nice about the app is having a guide to meditation as it takes away all the ‘but how do you do it’ questions. It breaks it down to something tangible and ‘forces you’ (in a sense) to spend time with yourself.

For more information about Calm, here’s their website.