Easy being difficult

Dear Boys,

You will come to a point in time, where you have to decide, with discipline on proceeding to do something worthwhile on a long consistent basis.

The difficulty in such an endeavor is how deceptively easy it will look, and you will be lulled into thinking at easily said, easily done. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

It is the easy things that will trick you into the difficult.

Nothing is really hard to do, if we put our mind to it, we can break hard things down into easy parts and do them. But sometimes, doing exactly that is the most counter productive thing.

When things seem easy to do, ironically, we have lesser motivations to do them. Simply because they are easy to do!

There is, (pun intended) no easy way out of this. You have to remain ever vigilant for the easy stuffs. and do them, condition your mind to do them, do things, accomplish things, irrespective if they are easy or not. Try not to brand things, as ‘easy’ or ‘hard’. Things are never ‘easy’ and never very ‘hard’. you just need to stay focused and get them done.

First posted February 26, 2014

National Service

Dear Boys.

I’ve completed my national service!

In case you do not have National Service in the not-so-distant future, it is basically a mandatory service all young men have to perform, in one of the few uniformed service, such as the Police Force, Civil Defence, or the Singapore Armed Forces’ (SAF) branch like, Navy, Air Force or the Army.

I was in the Army, and since I was enlisted at the age of 18, more than 21 years ago, my vocation has always been a Regimental Policeman (RP), and right now, the SAF called it ‘Security Trooper’ just another name for military security guard.

In total, looking back, I spent more than 2 decades on this, 2 years as a full time NSF, and 7 years in hiatus, before being called up at the age of 27 to serve in this battalion for the next 12 years.

Since then a couple of things has changed.

The camouflaged uniform as went from ‘patches’ to ‘pixels

image.img
P_20150315_230054

The weapons went from M-16 to SAR-21

M-16
SAR 21

The Trucks went from a 3 tonner to a 5 tonner

3 tonner
5 tonner

My Camp went from Portsdown Camp to the modern Kranji Camp 3.

There is a lot more military ranks other than the usual Officers, specialists, and Warrant Officers. The SAF introduced something call ‘ME’- better known as ‘Military Experts’ rank.

The food at the cookhouse was also different. In my NSF time, there were actually cooks as a military vocations, now, the eating part of it has been totally outsourced, first to Singapore Food Industries (SFI) and now the later part SATS Food, the food used to be nutritionally bland, now at least there are occasional Ice-Creams and other yummy desserts.

But one thing didn’t change.

The attitude towards National Service, since it is a kind of mandatory duty, many people, including myself, sees it as a waste of time. It does not really add value to our civilian life, and more often than not, it is more of an inconvenience. Well to me, being some kind of a military bluff, I don’t mind it, but more importantly, I went with the flow and was discharging my duties in the least best way. well, I did the minimum, there are others, who did less than the minimum, bordering malingering.

After 21 years dabbling in civilian soldiering, one thing finally changed in me.

I begin to realise that you can still do good in a very bad situation. I can either choose to see it as a waste of time, and waste time, hence fulfilling a prophecy, or begin to do something good. Since this was my last ICT, I decide to do something different.

Network

I’ve been in the battalion for the past 12 years, I literally grew up with it. There are people I know that the newer NSmen wouldn’t know, processes and screw ups I’ve seen that gives me the confidence and maturity to handle a complicated situation. I also have a well established network of strangers turned friends. I know storemen, officers, Regimental Sergeant Majors (RSM), trainers, specialists and other new players to make my ICT experience better than those who just joined the battalion. Since I am leaving, I told my chums to take care of the new batches of RPs.

Doing more

Nobody, I mean absolutely nobody would want to ‘volunteer’ in the military, more often than not you get ‘volunteered’ to do something. This time, when my RSM tasked me to delegate a duty to one of my fellow RPs, I took on the task myself, and called upon a few other friends. I didn’t have a habit of volunteering people, so I volunteered myself, and it was a good experience, I learned a couple of more things through my willingness to take on a little more duties.

Can do attitude in a can’t do place

Admittedly, I do not have that. I wasn’t can do, but I just want things to be done, and been in there for so long, I know how things should be done, and I did it, my way, how it should be done. I realised that given all the rigidity in the military, as long as you prove that you can do it, you’d be left to do it on your own, with resources at your disposal. Of course, if you choose to cannot do it, then it cannot be done, with certainty!

On a high note

I’m quite thankful that I ended my last ICT on a high note, There was a Change of Command (CoC) for my battalion RSM, and the good got better, the outgoing Master Warrant Officer Chia was replaced by an Afghan-deployed 1st Warrant Officer Ang, he is a solid, albeit funny professional soldier, very approachable, very people-soldier. I left the unit with Major Sim at the helm, a fantastic Commanding Officer, the best out of the three that commanded the unit. I got a best soldier award on my last in camp, what else can I ask for?

(Pictures are sourced from Google. Picture of pixelised uniform belongs to me)

First posted March 16, 2015

Smokers in high rise!

Smokers in high rise!

Dear Boys,

This is the peril of high rise, urban living, There is no way we can work around it.

Living where we are, we will unwittingly inhale other people’s poison, our health held hostage, and we will not be able to triangulate where is the source of the smoke. Unfortunately, one of our direct neighbors is a smoker, but we cannot be sure if we can trace the smoke and ashes on our floor back to that neighbor. It’s just a chronic, nameless faceless annoyance that randomly threatens our well-being.

Dealing with Second Hand smoke

Honestly, I’m still okay with it during my Army days, I have to work with smokers, and out in the field, I do welcome their smoking cos somehow it does keeps the mosquitos away, sort of. Some of my buddies are smokers. Staying at home is a different matter, sometimes, the weather is cooling, windy and breezy, you want to open your windows fully but…you catch a whiff of cigarette smoke…and it spoils the feeling of a good weather.

When Louis Ng, a Member of Parliament tries to push for a smoking ban for high rise buildings, I knew he was just pulling a populist opinion. True enough, nothing has been done, and nothing can be done, yet. There is just too much cultural, societal, structural, legislation, economical and enforcement challenges stacked against such wishful thinking. Nice try Louis.

Stoicism to Smokers

What else can we do? There is no law, here or anywhere in the world to deal with this minor but annoying life inconveniences. As long as there is cigarettes, we, non-cigarette users will be constantly under such pungent aroma of vile air.

Since we cannot change what is outside of us, I choose to change the inside. It’s not the best wholesome way to do it, but well, it is what it is. I guess the only way I can ‘think’ around this is, well, the smoker cannot be smoking 24/7, so I just have to deal with the stench, there and then. While this don’t necessarily makes me a happy trooper at that moment, and knowing that it can happen again, if that culprit so decides to follow up with a second stick, but what else can I do?

Think happy thoughts.

Live with it lor.

What you focus on, magnifies.

We can go ballistics when we smell the smoke, see the ashes on our floor, but what can we do? We can plot murder, think sinister thoughts, wish death on the unnamed, unseen smoker, but what it only does is poison our own brain, and let one singular brief moment mess up our entire day. Close all of our windows to shut out the smoke, and miss the good breeze and suffocate our own abode with stale air?

We can wish for people to be more considerate, hope that our neighbors can be more sensitive, but that opinion can swing both ways. Our smoker neighbors are also appealing for us to understand them, since they are only smoking at home, which is perfectly legal, they cannot control where the smoke goes, and there is a lot of places outside with smoking ban, and there is little legit places they can take a puff.

So what they are doing at home is their business in their own privacy and comfort, what can we do?

Hope that they give up smoking? Despite of the obvious health hazards all around, being 110% bad, it is their own right to take their own life slowly, puff by puff. Cigarettes being expensive in Singapore? It’s their own money and if they so spend their last dime on a stick of poison, it is also their right.

So I can only focus on my four walls, and be happy that I can keep this place clean and nice, and just turn my nose whenever that momentarily familiar turd of stench waft into our home.

Links:

https://www.straitstimes.com/politics/parliament-ban-smoking-near-windows-and-at-balconies-in-homes-says-louis-ng

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/secondhand-smoke-louis-ng-smoking-home-balcony-window-2506141

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/singapore/smoking-home-secondhand-smoke-louis-ng-parliament-2174926

https://www.louisng.sg/parliamentary-speeches/14-7

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/existing-laws-can-be-used-to-tackle-second-hand-smoke-in-residential-areas-louis

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/call-for-ideas-from-enterprises-to-tackle-secondhand-smoke-in-residential-areas

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/parliament-smoking-harder-to-catch-than-streaking-says-minister-grace-fu

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/politics/parliament-near-sixfold-increase-in-hdb-smoking-complaints-since-2017-says-mnd

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/stuck-with-a-neighbours-second-hand-smoke

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/getting-riled-up-by-neighbours-cigarette-smoke-noise-and-litter

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/housing/more-complaints-about-cigarette-smoke-and-noise-from-neighbours

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/environment/complaints-about-secondhand-smoke-in-residential-areas-rise-during-pandemic

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/secondhand-smoke-may-damage-childrens-eyes-study

Leftovers

Leftovers
bento

Dear Ian,

This evening, we ordered a salmon/ chicken bento set for your dinner. You ate your fill and you wanted me to finish off the rest. There was a piece of chicken left and you wanted to eat that up first before passing your rice to me.

And I asked you, ‘You want your father to eat plain rice?’

To which you rationalized, ‘No’, you are going to leave the soup for me as well. In fact you are going to put some soup into the rice so that I can have the soup and the rice.

I was a little sad and disappointed.

Technically you are going to leave me with a porridge, while you eat up all the salmon and chicken, albeit the last piece, after you said that you are too full to finish everything. So you finished the best of everything and leave your dad soup and rice. Have we ever only given you soup and rice?

I raised to you the issues of morals. We do not want to raise kids that has the best of everything and leave the least of everything for other people. More importantly, I do not want you and your brother to pick this habit up and do it to your grandparents. They will eat everything you boys cannot finish and they will not say a word about it, this is because they both love you in their own special way.

So I have to put a foot to it. While I certainly do not mind eating only rice and soup, but I need you to understand, you cannot treat people like this, this is plain selfish, me, me, me, mentality. You cannot take the best and give others the least. We do not do that to you, please don’t do it to us, please don;t do this to others.

You are going to get the best the world can ever provide, but what are you going to give back in return? You will always get the best resources. we will never give you leftovers, if we can help it. We will always think in your best interests, any decent parents would do that for their children, we just need you to understand that you have to, give back, a decent level of respect to your elders. to your grandparents, to those around you. you cannot take all that is good for yourself and leave whatever is left for others. This is not how we want to bring you up.

First posted Mar 29, 2015

5 Advantages of Being Married

5 Advantages of Being Married

Dear Boys,

I’m married, of course I ‘sell’ and advocate marriage. We are all our own product ambassadors, if I’m not happily married, I won’t sell it. If I like being single, then I’ll find every damn reason there is to justify my single-ness.

Anyway here is my 5 advantages of being married.

1-You build a bigger network of extended relatives.

Humans like all organisms, are network-centric. We need to continue to grow and develop our high trust network. The easiest quickest way is to get married, suddenly all your spouse’s relatives becomes your in-laws, and obligated by the by-laws to help you, and make your aspirations successful.Think medieval times, why kings and warlords marry off their children to secure lands and power.

Who knows, your spouse might have a rich multi-billionaire uncle with a couple of million to spare for you to do business get rich?

2- You can be safe with members of the opposite gender.

Sometimes you need to work with really smart people and really beautiful people to do really smart and beautiful things, and in order to avoid mixing pleasure with business; your wedding band, spouse photo in your wallet, are ideal shields against such unwanted solicitation, attractions and distractions.

Sure some singles out there consider married individuals as fair game or even premium, then you need to hold true to your marriage oath ‘forsaking all others’. If you don’t, then you are just another two timing scum.

3- You get economies of scale

Sometimes, produce and products are better consumed in large quantities. A quart of ice-cream, shared, are calories halved. You can also go into restaurants and order 2 different items off the menu and then share, so that both gets a varied taste of the eatery.

Or if you’re too full to eat, you can always get your significant other to finish off the meal.

4-You can do crazy stupid things, without the fear of being seen as crazy and stupid

Who says only singles do crazy stupid things? Married folks can also do crazier, stupider things, all without having to seek attention. You’re married, you no longer have to seek attention, you do crazy stupid things, because you simply love doing crazy stupid things, without having to get anyone’s acceptance, other than that of your spouse.

5- You get instant maturity.

This is not funny. Choosing to spend the rest of your life with just one person, when there are more than 6 billion other alternative human beings; that takes courage or sheer idiocy (or both). And living with another human being by choice, warts and all takes a certain level of perspective, personal growth and growing up.

Taking care of another person for life, and having another person taking care of you for life is not a joke. There are responsibilities beyond that of an individual in the single-hood realm. When you tell people you are married, you get instantly upgraded up the social ladder, people will think that you have the maturity to be some kind of marriage expert and elevate you to be one. Your opinions will carry weight and what you say as a married person will be generally considered to be worth something.

First posted Dec 13 2015

Loss and love on the journey to parenthood

Mum and dad were a long time waiting before this baby girl finally arrived last week

PUBLISHED ON MAR 15, 2015 3:45 PM

https://static1.straitstimes.com.sg/s3fs-public/styles/large30x20/public/articles/2015/03/15/ST_20150315_BABY15_1141852e_2x.jpg?VersionId=EQubjjdkQCrsZmP2Nq8.13F9JINbcIZr&itok=rLt6Ce8_

BY LI XUEYING HONG KONG CORRESPONDENT

As a young reporter 11 years ago, I wrote about an alarming trend: The number of miscarriages in Singapore was going up, up and up.

I got the statistics, spoke to a woman who had experienced a miscarriage, interviewed five doctors and probed a politician on possible ways to address the problem.

It was an assignment to me, a story to be done before I moved on to the next.

A decade on, the issue became personal. Within six months, I had not one, but two miscarriages.

In May 2013, I found out that I was pregnant. It was unplanned but my husband and I, after some initial adjustment, were thrilled.

After all, we had been married for four years but somehow life had got in the way of making space for children: I went overseas to do a master’s degree, then waited for a posting as a foreign correspondent. I was then 34, just a year from being defined as a geriatric mother – or what doctors call a woman of advanced maternal age.

We saw a doctor in Hong Kong where we were now based. He did a scan.

Congratulations, he said. There was a gestational sac – the first sign of pregnancy but no yolk or heartbeat. But that’s normal, he declared. It’s early days yet.

We returned to Singapore for a break and as a surprise to our best friends who had just had a baby. We popped champagne and I had an illicit sip, a toast to the new addition to our group as well as the embryo growing – I thought – inside me.

Back in Hong Kong, we went back to the clinic. The news was not good this time. The sac had not expanded, which meant the pregnancy was not progressing as it should. I’m sorry, said the doctor.

We were upset, of course.

But I sought comfort in research and statistics, including the ones I had cited in my own article from years before. One in five known pregnancies ends in miscarriage. Some of us, I told my husband and myself philosophically, just have to make up the numbers.

We decided I would have the procedure “to clean up” at the public hospital. Like many others who had miscarriages, we told few people. I explained to my office that I had to take a few days off work for a “medical procedure” and left it at that. In hospital, I finished Salman Rushdie’s new memoir Joseph Anton and kept tabs on the Edward Snowden saga then unfolding in Hong Kong.

But my husband and I had changed. Within just two short weeks of being pregnant, our world had shifted. We had begun to plan and dream, to think of what it would be like to be parents, from how we would dress the child to what values we would impart.

Two months later, I conceived again. This time, we were not so innocent in our joy. We waited till we saw the heartbeat on the ultrasound screen twice – a red dot pulsating amid a mass of variegated greys and blacks – before we told our parents.

On our third visit, when I was about 11 weeks along, I complained of slight abdominal cramps. Probably just ligament pains as the uterus stretches, the doctor – a different one – reassured me as she moved a transducer over my belly.

My husband, reaching out for his camera to take a photo of the screen, stilled. It was all darkness. The heartbeat had stopped.

This time, there was little bravado left in us. We opted for a private hospital where I would have a dilation and curettage operation that night.

We shared a room with a Hong Kong couple in their early 20s, who we gathered were there for an abortion and were placed in the awkward situation of having to listen to me tearfully break the news to my mum over the phone.

They went first. As they left, the young man whispered: “We’re sorry.”

Our turn came. In the operating room, my doctor, her pearl necklace shimmering from her surgical scrubs, loomed over me. Later, as I emerged from the haze of general anaesthesia, I blearily asked her: “Did you see if it was a boy or a girl?” She shook her head gently at me.

Silly me. It was all scraped up and sucked out.

Medically, recurrent pregnancy loss is defined as more than two miscarriages in a row. We were two strikes down, one more to go. But as anyone who has gone through miscarriage will know – and without meaning to diminish the pain for those who suffered even more loss – one is one too many.

So we went through test after test searching for causes. Nothing stood out. The only certainty, said the doctor, was my age. Fact is, old eggs are old, which means a higher risk that embryos with genetic abnormalities are incubated.

That there was all this uncertainty made it harder.

It was an invisible grief. We returned to work, looking the same on the outside but bereft within.

There had been no wake, no funeral, no body to be buried. We did not even know what to call our losses – technically they were not babies; the first was “just” an embryo while the second was “old enough” to be a foetus.

I grappled with my feelings. Somehow, society speaks of miscarriages in hushed tones – the word itself seems to suggest some kind of responsibility on the part of women who “mis-carry” their children. See how we use the word when we describe legal travesties as a “miscarriage of justice”.

The fact is, why miscarriages happen is often shrouded in mystery, and most times, say doctors, they are beyond one’s control. Yet, the secrecy surrounding it leaves much ignorance about the issue.

For many, what we know of miscarriages is what we have seen on television – a woman falling down and ending up with blood on her thighs.

Is it any wonder that many who have gone through it choose to keep silent?

I was fortunate to have family and close friends who gave us enormous support.

My husband and I certainly were not ashamed of what had happened. But we were in pain and we were not sure talking incessantly about it would help.

Furthermore, what could we expect people to say except an awkward “I’m sorry”? Unlike for other bereavement, there is no social ritual for coping with this particular kind of death.

Yet, I did feel an irrational resentment that not more people knew of our losses. It was not exactly sympathy I wanted. It was recognition, I think, that a loss from a miscarriage was felt as keenly as any other.

And, I wonder, if more speak more openly of their experiences, would those who have experienced the same pain feel less alone?

It is a personal issue, and different people will feel differently.

In all honesty, I began writing this only as my husband and I were waiting to welcome our daughter.

Kei An, weighing 3.25kg, measuring 49cm and boasting a nose like her father’s, finally arrived last Tuesday, six days past her due date.

Without the hope she represents, I am not sure I could write about our past losses.

But what I do know is that as my husband and I get to know this little one, we will also remember our other babies gone before her.

xueying@sph.com.sg

– See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/opinion/more-opinion-stories/story/loss-and-love-the-journey-parenthood-20150315#xtor=CS1-10

(Published with kind permission from Xue Ying; Thank you!)

Attack the Day!

Attack the Day!

Dear Boys,

It happens to all of us, at any given time. We can be lost, demotivated, felt like we have lost a sense of drive, purpose or even belonging. We might feel like a fraud, and even though ‘Fake it till you make it’ sounds like a decent comping mechanism, often we do feel like the faking it seems fake!

What do we do?

Especially when we are swamped with work, or even at times where we don’t have much to do and feels listless.

Recently with my new job, I was struggling to get traction, working very hard touching all the bases but invariably losing some, and of course, missing tasks happens often and being the responsible guy I am, I can be very unforgiving to myself and this self-reprimand can affect our sense of self worth. Maybe I am not good enough?

Eventually I thought about my time Mountain Biking.

On the trails with my buddy

On the trails, you have no time to think, or you eat dirt. You cannot be afraid and you really need to process your information in a flow. There is no judgment nor time to be critical, on the bike, you work one root, one stone, one curve, uphill, downslope at a time, one by one, you cannot think too far, nor look back and gloat at the nasty boulder you just hopped over. You must be in the moment.

Be afraid and worry about the next root, and surely you will get caught, and fall. This happened to me once at the Bukit Timah Mountain bike trail back in 2019. I had 2 bad falls and damn near broke my left shoulder. The impact was so hard it left a permanent bump on my left shoulder, I think my bones has shifted permanently, but there was no broken bones or dislocation.

The Really Bad Fall

Attack, attack, and attack

Sometimes you have to be aggressive in life and attack the tasks at hand vehemently. This is one way to deal with procrastination, take yourself, your ego, personality and self-talk out of the equation, take the task at hand and deal with it one at a time, never judge which is more ‘difficult’, or which is the one that will make you happier. Treat each tasks the same, and take them one at a time, build speed, velocity and efficiency in getting s**t done.

After a while, you will get a sense of how many tasks you have ‘killed’ off and then you an quickly add more complex tasks to your work. Think of the outstanding work you need to do in a clinical, objective manner, and struck them off your list without getting to emotionally involved. There is no need to get angry, happy, sad or whatever. Just objectively get them done one by one.

Don’t wait

Don’t get fixated at how ‘tough’ a task is, or how you dread talking to a difficult person, just get on the call and talk to the person, use whatever you already know, it might not be much but it is a start. You might be mocked, or ridiculed, but keep going, keep clearing tasks. You know what you know and you will learn what you don’t know, as you go along. Never wait for information to be given to you, go out there and get it.

Waiting means you will lose the initiative, and get a curve ball in your face. Standing still means that something unexpected and unprepared that will knock you off your momentum; so keep moving, keep working, keep attacking the day and before you know it, you would have gone through the hour with a lot of things done and time to spare.

This is a tactically efficient way to get the busy out of the busyness, and it does summon your energy in the right channel and focus. Doing this day to day means you will build an energy and a can-do work ethics puts you in a very productive state of mind.

Of course once you are done with the day, don’t look back too much and look forward, use what you have accomplished to move forward, into another position and start the attack again, consolidate what you have gained the past days and use it to remove more tasks at hand. There is a time and space for reflection, and do not mix this up with an action based attack day.

The Gluten-Free Life

The Gluten-Free Life

Dear Boys,

Both of you and your mum are mildly Gluten intolerant, which can make things difficult for us, especially when we are living in this part of the world where wheat is such an integral part of our lives.

How it all began

For as long as I can remember, you boys have some sort of a bad skin, and Ian you had it worse, so bad I wrote a post about it, while we talked about ‘conquering’ your eczema, the truth is that we can only manage it for life. Hopefully as you grow older, you will be more resistant to this skin conditions.

One of the trigger points, as we learned over the years is Gluten, symptoms like eczema, dry itchy skins, bad stomach, indigestions, are all signs of Gluten allergies, and this was also told to us by many of the doctors we have seen, pharmacists trying to sell us their latest eczema cream, also well wishers, whom in their best intentions asks us to try their latest organic products, ala Multi-Level-Marketing.

2018-Gold Coast Australia

the good ‘ol days of flying.

We were in Gold Coast, and just before that we were getting acquainted with this ‘Gluten intolerant’ experience, your mum has bad tummy aches, diarrhea, bloatedness, and plain stomach upset. There was a lot of signs pointing towards Gluten intolerance, but back then we were kind of resistant to trying out a Gluten free diet, as there was quite a limited range of Gluten Free food on the market. Being Asian, bread is staple, cakes, noodles, and all that stuff we have been eating for a long long time. For us to change? We couldn’t be sure if it was the Gluten, part of us didn’t want to believe it was, that means we will have to give up a lot of yummy food!

Tough, especially when we cannot pinpoint our digestive discomforts squarely at this Gluten culprit.

You CANNOT get this here in Singapore

Our 2018 Gold Coast trip, our perception was widen when there was a lot more Gluten Free options in Australia, as such a condition is more studied and accepted.

There was rows of Gluten free food, or food catered for specific dietary needs. we were able to try and experiment different kind of Gluten free food and from our trip we did feel better. Our stomach didn’t ache so much and there wasn’t so much flatulency!

From Coles Gold Coast
Hadn’t seen this here in Singapore

It’s a long journey

So from then on we scour for Gluten free food, educating ourselves more in depth as to what we can eat and what we cannot, as we learned through trial and error, we can tolerate some forms of gluten better than others. Since we are not chronically nor acutely Gluten intolerant, we can and do snack on some wafers, or biscuits, unlike more serious cases which even a minute trace of gluten ingestions can result in critical or life threatening consequences. So there are ‘cheat days’ and you boys and mum can indulge on a little tasty bread or biscuits.

There is a growing awareness of Gluten intolerance in Singapore so more and more products are gradually becoming more visible to our selective perception. But Gluten free food is expensive and there is a very limited range, you can never find a Gluten free croissant, or Gluten free instant noodles. For some food, wheat is the primary ingredients. Surely there is no Gluten free beer!

I am not Gluten Intolerant

After saying all that, I am, strangely, not acutely Gluten intolerant, while I do have eczema flareups and some occasional upset stomach, it is just the usual normal stuff, as I always told you boys and your mum, your dad is a food processor; one end in, the other end out.

Nonetheless, I have to be sensitive, and make sure I am more conscious about putting Gluten on the table to tempt you three, so these days, I seldom have a good taste of pizza (gluten!), or even plain white bread, or bagel (gluten!) as it is just me eating them; it is economically heavy just to buy one big loaf of bread for my single consumption, so the majority of the snacks at home are Gluten Free, as much as practicable. We do occasionally get to indulge in a gluten free pizza of sorts.

Each to their own

Everyone deals with their dietary intolerance differently, and as mentioned, there are so many well wishers who tried in their best intentions to tell us what to do, detox this, try that supplement, but we know our own body best and how we can deal with it.

We are just thankful that these intolerance are just mildly inconvenient, and in Singapore, we can still get by, by being a little bit more selective.

It’s the mindset we have to deal with, like how your mum in her early years, told her one of her aunt that she is gluten intolerant, and she cannot eat noodle. The aunt retorted back, “If cannot eat noodles, then you eat what to grow up?!” LOL

Everyone’s an Uke

Everyone’s an Uke

‘Hold my hands’

No, this is not a line from a romantic movie, this phrase is most often used to indoctrinate anyone who is looking to join Aikido. Everyone starts Aikido holding someone’s hands, that connection is established the moment we step into the dojo.

What is an Uke?

Well this is a theme I’ve been toying in my head for a while, Uke (受け) in Japanese, literally means the person who “receives” a technique. And it is commonly mistaken as the ‘attacker’ in a dualistic sense, because the uke often ‘initiates’ the technique with a ‘strike’ or a ‘punch’ or something else.

As we get closer to the dynamics between a nage (The Thrower)and uke, you can see that the line is very, very fine. Well let’s not go there yet.

Back to being an uke on your very first day learning Aikido. Let’s rewind that back a bit more.

Back to being an uke on your very first day sucking on a milk bottle.

Back to being an uke on your very first day you learn to ride a bike, becoming a Dad, becoming a teacher, learning to lose your loved ones, opening a restaurant, looking at a business problem for the very first time, your first day being a doctor.

Every step of the way, we are in the path of reception, every baby will reach out and receive milk and food when they are hungry. There is no naturally born expert Dad, every dad is a student to their children, and the kids are teaching their parents valuable lessons about parenting.

My baby son holding my hand for the first time

We are constantly receiving

There is no way about it, the moment we are born, we receive our first breath, without it, we will be receiving our first bacteria, coming to rot our dead body back to nature. The irony is, when we think we are becoming remotely good at something, we begin to dish out lessons, and hide behind a thin façade of competency, when we are best receiving.

Even a doctor, or a business consultant, armed with years of medical knowledge, or years of management experience, will have to receive their problem or ailments at the get go, and will continue to receive these problems and issues. Only when you can fully comprehend, and accept what the problem really is, then a medical solution or business proposition will work. A doctor cannot simply give panadol for a runny nose, without properly receiving information from the patient. so the doctor works best being an uke, constantly receiving and not judging, not putting his years of medical knowledge in front and masquerade as an expert.

Refusing

You can only become unhappy when you refuse to accept an outcome and decision, and feels that it is unfair to you. Refusing to accept is not receiving wholeheartedly; of course life can be unkind, and despite of your best efforts, you don’t get what you want, but you will always get something, and when you open your heart to receive, you will realize that you have so much more to learn from something as disappointing as not getting what you got.

Essentially Aikido is the fine art of reception, it is only when we can openly receive what the universe has for us, come what may, then we are ready for more. Fighting for more, hoarding, selfish egotistical pursuits of shallow meaningless material possessions is futile, is unnatural. We are endowed to receive, the more we are open, the more we will get, it’s only natural!