How I Spent the Day Without My Smartphone

It was the first day of Chinese New Year and my phone was not with me. I have left it at my cousin’s place after playing fireworks and fire crackers.

I used an ordinary alarm clock to wake me up. Got myself ready for church and headed to my uncle’s place for lunch. We enjoyed the meal my aunt had prepared as we socialized. After that, we went to pick up my partner from the train station.

At home, I took a nap and woke up at a quarter to five. Esther called and asked if we were going to her place. We went there and had dinner. Then, we played poker cards – Chinese style. We played until 11ish and went back home to hit the sack. Didn’t even think about my phone the whole day.

I actually felt relieved that my phone wasn’t with me. The disappearance of the incessant beeps of notifications from all the social networking apps was peaceful and beautiful.


7 Things

7 Things I want to remember after being bogged down by the drudgery of life.



  • Life is a journey, as long as there’s hope of tomorrow, you still have a chance to make changes.
  • You are and were free to make choices, but you aren’t spared from the consequences of the choices you made.
  • A mountain today, a drop of sand tomorrow. Whatever it is, it shall pass.
  • You can’t please everybody. Don’t let some negative sad soul stays in your head rent-free.
  • Love people and use things. Don’t use people and love things. By the end of the day, nobody cares if your diamond ring was from the flea market or Tiffany & Co.
  • A tight schedule doesn’t equal to a productive life. Working with low energy will only reduce the efficiency. Quality over quantity.
  •  Think before responding. Respond before Reacting. Everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt.



Watching kids to have fun in learning is my favorite part of my job. Kids learn faster when they are engaged in hands on activities. I wish I can do this more often instead of having them to sit still and quietly absorb knowledge from books. Don’t get me wrong, books are great, they just aren’t so interesting and fascinating at times. After all, working together in groups provide opportunities for them to learn to collaborate and communicate with one another which are important skills in life.


When a bunch of tasks thrown in your face, what is the first thing you will do? How to determine the urgency and the importance? Can some tasks be put off until later? Won’t the tasks be accumulated and become too much to be handled? Or worse, forgotten and at the eleventh hour, too late to be worked on? But is sooner really the better?

It’s a quarter to six, I am feeling overwhelmed, lying on my bed, updating my blog, getting ready for a nap just to get away for a while from the chaos and the craziness of life. In order to complete a task, time isn’t the only factor. We also need wisdom, knowledge, energy and the willingness. We won’t necessarily get all these resources together. When we have time, maybe we are drained; when we have the wisdom and the knowledge to perform a certain task, time doesn’t wait for us.

How should we perform with all the tasks that are sometimes overlapping and being intertwined in our daily life? Can we really do them all? What are the consequences of not doing some of them? Am I ready to bear the consequences? How to decide for my priorities? These are the questions I need to learn to answer. Rule number one of Life is to keep it under your hat, no one is going to answer them for me, I can only have myself to figure out.

An Arduous Journey

Life is an arduous journey. We don’t know why we’re here, so we spend our entire life trying to justify our existence. Some devote themselves in their vocation, some in their family, environmental protection, religious activities, while others trip and wind up abusing the substances, and whatnot.

Work takes up the biggest slot in one’s pie chart of time. Most of the employers complain that their employees are unmotivated, lack of enthusiasm, lack of understanding towards the vision and mission of the company. I’m not here to debate whether whose fault it is. There’s really no point in arguing about that.

Is work-and-life balance a myth? I’m still trying to figure that out. All I know now is that when I spend time doing things I love, I feel guilty for not working, when I’m working hard, I feel bad for being a workaholic. Energy is another key factor in balancing our lives. I realized that after a day of work, there’s only a minimum amount of energy I can dedicate to doing things I enjoy. Some activities involve staring at the screen which make my eyes dry and tired.

Well, I don’t want to complain or make excuses. I guess I’m just trying to apply what I’ve learned about acceptance. I need to accept the choices I make and stop feeling guilty or let the remorse consume my soul. Life is, after all, an arduous journey.


Good Start

The first week of the new year was great. I am super duper grateful for the last couple of months. Joining the school in the middle of the year wasn’t all roses, but it wasn’t a disastrous ride either. I truly gained plenty of experiences and have been through a lot of different scenarios. Undeniably, there were stressful moments but in hindsight, they served the purpose of preparing me for a better year. Of course, I’m not perfect, not that I’ll ever be, I can say that I am calmer and more confident this year to handle anything as a teacher. Being an English teacher in the urban city is truly a blessing. Although there are kids are who can’t even pass the alphabet test in one of my classes, I don’t feel pressurized, in fact, it’s a growth opportunity. The way I see it, there are plenty of rooms for improvement, and you can easily find a sense of achievement when they can finally write a simple sentence or even when they’re just trying to speak. I’m looking forward to helping my kids to be better at the beautiful language.


New Year New Me


I’m so thrilled about the new year but I have to remind myself that I shouldn’t get too excited about it either. Being overly excited will sort of make me impractical in the sense that I’ll be very ambitious. I’ll say yes to too many things and end up feeling defeated and exhausted. I’ve learned not to set more than 3 goals in a day and the goals must be specific, practical and clear with purposes. This year is all about professional growth and personal health. These will be my top priorities.

Buh bye, 2017

It’s funny that I’ve been secretly looking forward to writing this post since the beginning of this year. Reading my last year’s summary post, I felt a bit ashamed because there weren’t a lot of highlights in twenty seventeen. But it was definitely a year worth recalling, at least for me. I’ve done what most Millennials did – quitting. I quit from an institution which I thought was leading me nowhere. Of course, that was more of an excuse than a lie. Anywhere can be a place of growth and opportunities but I was too proud to stay and didn’t want to make an effort of change. I chose the easiest way out by throwing a resignation letter after precisely 10 weeks of working, which I honestly felt good about. I didn’t agree with my superior and I saved myself the trouble of justifying my departure because, given his egoistic personality, I wouldn’t have stood a chance anyway. Just like that, I commenced my third month in 2017 clearing the mess and packing to leave the soul-sucking place. Then, I attended my Bachelor Degree Convocation, reunited with my bittersweet memories and loving friends, and toured my campus for the very last time. I played the role of a housewife and polished my skills at the kitchen for months before entering the workforce again where I gained the practical experience of being the class teacher.

To continue my little tradition, I would like to share some of the random matters which I hope to seal this year purposefully.

Books I have read in 2017

  1. Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King
  2. T for Teacher by Cheryl Ann Fernando
  3. The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint Exupery
  4. Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini
  5. Aleph by Paulo Coelho
  6. The Choice by Nicholas Sparks
  7. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  8. The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
  9. Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Gracia Puigcerver
  10. The Power of Concentration by Theron Q Dumont
  11. Your Story: How To Write It So Others Will Want To Read It by Joanne Fedler
  12. A Confession by Leo Tolstoy

Great Apps I have downloaded in 2017

These are the apps which I just have to recommend.

  1. dahmakan
  2. Litterati
  3. Lake
  4. Audiobooks
  5. Podcasts
  6. Asana Rebel: Yoga and Fitness

Countries I have traveled to in 2017

Singapore – ‘Tis my second trip to Singapore (the main purpose was to visit my adorable nephew and nieces)

Japan – This time I went to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara and of course, Niigata Prefecture. I’ve experienced snow for the first time in my life. Love the winter.

Best Series of the Year 2017

Stranger Things – Love the suspense it offers

Witches of East End – Love their drama

Best Movies of the Year 2017

The Hitman’s Bodyguard – Full of insightful wit and humor

Crooked House – Kept me guessing till the end

Areas I’ve made progress (albeit just a little bit) in 2017

  1. Exercising (I have been hitting the gym more consistently this year)
  2. Swimming (I finally got the hang of exchanging breaths but I still need to work on my trust issues about floating)
  3. Japanese (Definitely improved in vocabulary learning via Duolingo and able to construct more grammatically accurate sentences)
  4. Class Management (Was assigned to be a class teacher when I entered the teaching field and was able to apply and succeed in using plenty of tricks of controlling the class)
  5. Wearing Contact Lenses (One of my personal triumphs – need no assistance anymore, see blog post

Areas I need to improve in 2018

  1. Writing (I need to set aside for writing every day, be it my Japanese diary or personal journal or for this blog – in 2017, I began my writing shamefully in March and ended weakly in November, this post excluded, I need to decide how much time I really want to invest in writing if I were to claim it to be more than a hobby)
  2. Reading (I’ve purchased books (digital or print) of different genres and started reading every one of them at once, which was so overwhelming and it totally slowed down my progress, I couldn’t chew probably, I need to better classify my time for reading, and to make better associations of the knowledge I’ve gained)
  3. Time Management (This year was all about adjusting, adapting, and accommodating, thankfully towards the end of the year, I was much tuned into the rhythm of my routine, still, a lot to work on)
  4. Food Choices (Due to my lack of wise time management, I’ve frequented the fast-food restaurants more than I should be, in 2018, I better treat my body with some respect)
  5. Mindfulness (I’ve struggled with the habit of excessive thinking for years and I still do that once in a while if I’m not focused, sticky notes are great tool to help remind me to be in the present moment, I’ve also changed my phone lock screen to be a soothing image with the word, breathe, on it, hope it works)

Oh well, it’s been quite a year. There is still much to learn and improve. I will do my best in this balancing game we call life.


Contact Lenses

In 2010, I was asked by a good friend of mine to perform singing in a band on stage for the Cultural Night our school had organized. I remember not being nervous about singing on stage in front of hundreds of people, for there was a stronger fear distracting my mind at the time, you guessed it, wearing contact lenses. I know, I know, some of you are like, What Now?!, but some of you are probably feeling emphatic, that you’d understand the little transparent lens is a phobia no less. When I was first introduced by the optometrist of the contact lenses, I was feeling nothing about it. It was only after he took half an hour to help put on one side of the lens in my eye that I started worrying in my little head about how tough this thing was. The second lens took more time than the first because my eyes were feeling more uncomfortable. After that, he took them out with ease and started teaching me how to put them on. I received my very first lens-wearing lesson and it was a tragic failure. I kept checking the clock and it took him approximately 45 minutes before giving up. He told me this, three years ago there was this client of his who simply couldn’t wear lenses on his own, which he believes (I think he still does) that I am the similar case. He’d advised me to go to him before the event so that he could help put on those lenses on me. I went home and believed in this message for seven years. I’ve gone through events which I needed to put on makeup and dress up, either begging my sister, my mom or asking a friend just to help me with putting on contacts. It was a constant reminder of my failure. Until two days ago, again, before a huge event in which I needed to put on contact lenses, I finally successfully defeated the false belief, conquered my fear, and achieved one of my personal triumphs in life. All thanks to a video I’ve found on Youtube.

The success brought me so much joy, I was nearly bursting into tears. It has just proved once again that I can do anything if I were to set my heart and mind to it.

Apart from my optimistic belief of anything is possible, I must say, that a stronger motivation behind me finding ways to overcome my mountain was the imminent future Author Michio Kaku wrote about lenses,

“…in the future, the Internet will be everywhere – in wall screens, furniture, on billboards, even in our glasses and contact lenses. When we blink, we will go online.”

Busyness Kills Kindness

Ever since I wrote the post about Litter, I’ve understood why at times, people would allow a piece of trash on the floor to stay right where they were. There are simply more urgent matters to be taken care of rather than bending down and picking up trash, and worse, when there was no trash bin in the vicinity. At the spectrum of kindness, we have one of the far ends of simply helping to pick up litter and then there’s going all out to help others without hopes of getting something in return.

Knowing my own calendar which is packed with personal growth development activities, work, family, social gatherings, house chores and whatnot, I can’t help but admit I feel more than a little overwhelmed. On the other hand, I always like to remind myself of what Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory said, we have to take in nourishment, expel waste and breathe in enough oxygen to keep our cells from dying. Everything else is purely optional. Preach. But I still find myself unable to apply it. I mean, every time when I have to make a small choice of whether to do it or not to do it, it seems like someone else has already made that choice for me with the words like obligated or compulsory or voices in my head saying you’re so selfish if you’re not doing this

I hate the version of me when I’m busy. It’s quite dangerous to be around people when I’m truly busy and I have to remind myself not to talk, unless I can talk succinctly, because my mind is focused on the thing I’m desperately trying to finish and talking would just take away my focus and renders me pissed, or worse, couldn’t take away my focus which results in me talking stupid things.

After adjusting myself in my new work environment, I’ve observed some of my colleagues who are busy as well yet able to keep themselves composed almost all the time and still get the job done. I admire them so much and wish I could too, someday, find my peace. It reminds me of the song “don’t worry, be happy” by Bobby McFerrin that goes like this, “in life, we have some trouble, but when you worry, you make it double.”

Being busy makes me less aware of other people’s struggles and battles. I simply stopped caring, stop being concerned, and put priority for that matter to be done. It’s a vicious cycle. The thing is, we’re probably not busy at the same time. That’s why it makes organizing a simple gathering, a party or a vacation with everybody okay with the time is extremely tough. You’re lucky if you don’t agree with me.

I don’t know if we should learn to be less busy or kinder. What I think is that when someone isn’t free to help you, don’t take it personally, he or she is probably more upset about it than you are. Get help from another more available people or sources. Perhaps you’ll feel better if you consider the enemy as time,  not your friend or someone whom you put your trust into. You might be his or her priority at a certain time, but something or someone else can be more important than you. Learn to live with it and try to understand because kindness takes time, and time, my dear, is bloody precious.