Friday, 30 September 2016

College classmates reunion.

A peek into my life and you'll know that I'm plain slow to warm up to this cafe-hopping trend that youngsters these days have kick started on long ago.

I barely (by barely I actually mean never) drink coffee, am not huge on cakes... Simply said, I don't find the satisfaction that others do in hopping onto the band wagon. My life revolves around... the Internet, sports, academics, singing (to my shower head), sleeping, and spending lots and lots of time with my parents (<-- not complaining, I thank my lucky stars everyday that I get to see them daily).

Anyway, what an interesting life, I know. :P

Lucky for me, I have a couple of friends who would call me out to hunt for 'hipster', 'Instagram-worthy' food at fancy cafes. I would turn up, not necessarily for the food, but because I seriously need to balance out the piling textbooks and case law with a social circle.

It's tricky carving out time to meet up when we each signed up for heaps of commitment. My friends know that a game of sports is the easiest way to lure me out (I'm quite the homely person), but when good food and college mates reunion (!!) are made the themes of the day, that couldn't have been too shabby. :)

On the 16th July, we had wanted to finally visit Burger Lab (yes, I've never had a burger from Burger Lab *cue gasps) but Kaixin who was the first among us to reach discovered it was closed when she arrived there!

We snapped out of disappointment (after all, it's the company that matters most to me!) and cheered up when we quickly agreed on A Pie Thing.


Yong Qi and I enjoyed the savoury pies- I couldn't get enough of the peas! Don't let the size deceive you, they were filling, still, we (merrily) stuffed ourselves silly.


Yu En and Kaixin dug into these sweet pies. 


One being Nutella flavoured, and the other apple crumble. 

It was raining outside and we sneaked into two other cafes/ restaurants to chill and catch up a bit more. 


Yong Qi helped Yu En with the spaghetti bolognese. 


Whilst Yu En herself devoured this meal. Yeah, I envy her metabolism, too.


The 4 of us shared a plate of salad, the sesame seed dressing made the dish.




Dietitians in the making!

 

Love these girls! 

Sometimes I forget how elated it makes me to hang out with these girls and just reminisce about our college days at Taylor's. That day's gathering reminded me.

The horrendous traffic congestion, the ever-crowded Student Hub, the classes, the lecturers, the gruesome examination duration, the restaurants and cafes we checked out during lunch... I'm gratified to have these girls go through some of the most arduous course of my academic years.

We're now pursuing our undergraduate degree, and looking back, it has been a heck of a whirlwind, but oh, so worth it... Especially when such precious friendships have been formed. These girls had seen me crumble into tears when drilling myself complete Maths questions, were the first few to discover my first proper relationship (eek!), packed their own lunchboxes just to accompany me have lunch (I used to bring lunchboxes to college).

It takes effort and arguably, hard work to maintain a friendship, and I'm grateful that these girls will always count me in for a reunion. Good luck to you all, wherever you are, whatever you're doing. :)

39th INCOVAR Dhamma Camp.

Summer has been a blast thus far. It's hot, but I always say, I'd take sunshine over rain anytime. I thrive on sunshine, even if it means sweating buckets. It's also the time of the year where I get to spend quality time with my loved ones. Nothing quite beats it.

Last I had reported, my knee wasn't looking good. However, at the end of the post, I vowed to pick myself up so with that, let's move on on a lighter mood.

The trouble with me wanting to blog about a past event is the camera roll that I have to scroll through in order to dig out some decent pictures to share with you about.

The plus side to blogging about a particular past event with specific photographers in charge of it, is, of course access to pictures (with the appropriate credit given), thus making my life a thousand times easier. 

Somewhere in July, I signed myself up for a Dhamma Camp organised by the Buddhist Gem Fellowship. I would have you know that my initial response to this camp was a fierce reluctance to attend, because of how out of touch I've been with Dhamma and how self-conscious I am of my body image (no A-line skirts to hide my thunder thighs). I winced at the thought of having to forgo those few days where I could otherwise spend hanging out with my brother (who comes home once in a blue moon). But Sean was adamant. "JUST. GO."

And so I went.


My parents and Ken were there on the first day of the camp to drop me off and helped me carry my stuff up to my dorm. They've always been encouraging of the things I do and I love them!



That was me anxious, tensed and probably regretting my decision to take part in the camp. 

Weird fact: Sipping the bottle has always been a way to calm myself down.


Oh how bad I had wished I could exchange places with my brother at that time!


 

Post ice-breaking session, however, I found myself relaxing significantly and my worries slowly eased off.


By random assignment of groups, I got to know some of the sweetest people in the world.

Abbie, this 25-year-old who doesn't look one bit her age. I know some of you might be interested so I pestered her to reveal her secret to looking 16 and she humbly answered it's because she changed her hairstyle. That cutie! I don't think she'd disagree if I had added practising yoga to the list! She's a certified yoga instructor and such a joy to be around. I adore her and thinks of her as my big sister!

And Han Ying, the girl on my left, is thoughtful, funny and caring. We were supposed to rehearse for dance (High School Musical's All in this together- hah!) to perform on the last day of camp but we bailed on it because sleep was calling our names! Gah, partner-in-crimes when it comes to mischief! :P


 
Together we often had the directions mixed up so we nicknamed ourselves 'da tou xia' (which basically means being confused and out-of-the-zone).

What a delightful surprise it was as well to have been reunited with a prefect junior from high school! 


Hi, Jeffrey! Best wishes to you in fulfilling your dreams in Singapore! 



Dinner time with these bunch can turn out to be quite wacky! Never a dull time with these crazies. #bestteamleader #bestfacilitator #bestteammates #bestcampmates (!)


See those folded black cloths on the table? They were used to blindfold our eyes or to tie our hands up when dining. Mindful eating, they say.

 

Tied wrists don't stop me from feeding myself. 


Incase you are curious as to how I look blindfolded. So attractive. (Please tell me you detected my sarcasm)

 

Got to chuckle at this picture! Not parting with my bottle anywhere I go, apparently. 

Once, the facilitators tied our wrists together, and we were seated in a circle on the canteen floor, instructed to use one hand to feed the person next to us and vice versa, yet lunch ended up dragging way past the allocated time, they made us take the cloths off and quickly finish our food. Whoops.

One of the team-bonding activities included designing a boat to float on the water using limited items such as newspaper, straws, and cellophane tape and test out how stable it is by putting rocks on it.


Our Titanic lasted less than 50 seconds before sinking. 

Engineers we are not. At least we had fun!



 
Pretty much everyone's favourite activity, hah. But not immediately after lunch! Ever heard of acid reflux, dear committees? They took note of our advice and rectified the schedule the next day. Phew.




Hahahahaha. I'm such a mess.

Can you tell what name is our team based on the below poses we struck?



It's team Pikachu. We are clearly pros at posing. ;)


Here we were, pointing to the right at a piece of blank wall, pretending to be cool.

 

Saranghaeyo.

 

We are one big family.

 

Excuse me while I rave about this creation for a while. 
How pretty is this decoration?!! 

(Fun fact #1: We were blindfolded when having the main course that night and one of the participants, Milly, actually grabbed the decorative stone on the table by accident and attempted to eat it because without sight, she had mistaken it as part of our meal! How adorable can one be? Oh gosh we laughed till we cried upon hearing her story)

You can tell by the details... the amount of effort and time the facilitators and committees had put into setting this up. *tears 

Thank you so much! We love you! I made sure to write them plentiful of appreciative messages on heart-shaped origami to express my gratitude. They later got around to asking who was the person writing to them everyday of the camp! 

 

It was supposed to be a silent dinner but we couldn't help whispering and giggling our way through!

Under the lights, we indulged in some of the best chocolate-fudge-tasting cake and ice cream with the loveliest company!

A committee's parents actually baked the cake for the participants! How thoughtful and kind of them. 

 

Life's short, eat dessert first! :) 

(Fun fact #2: Braces gave me the confidence to smile with my mouth open but at that time of the picture I was savouring the chocolate cake and didn't want to flash people with my chocolate tainted teeth. :P )

 

While it's a shame I didn't get to mingle a lot with the rest of the participants in the camp, they were nothing short of a group of amiable, pleasant and inspiring people! My 4 days 3 nights at the camp has been refreshing and invigorating.

I have made friends worth keeping, and gained valuable experience. I look forward to coming back next year!

Picture credits to photographer/ Chairman of Camp- Chen Yee Leong, and every committee of the camp who dedicated so much of their time, energy and soul into making this a memorable and fruitful camp for us. Apologies if I may have missed out on anyone. Please inform me and I'll be glad to attach the necessary credits to your photos. Thank you! Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu. 

Thursday, 29 September 2016

A Misfortune, and my struggles to turn the setback around.

I struggle to blog nowadays. I never thought something like this would happen to me. I'm too sad to pretend to be uplifted. Each time it crosses my mind, there is this wave of despair that swarms over me. I've decided I can't move on without blogging about it. But each time I'm reminded of how I'd have to live with it for the rest of my life- at the sole age of 21, it breaks my heart.

People ask, "Why?" and I would open my mouth, crestfallen to find myself in a tussle to gather the appropriate words. I don't know, would be the accurate response, but instead I'd lamely brush off their stares by saying, "It's a recurring injury, since last year..." Then I'd silently thank the person who happened to switch topics, because recalling the painful memories remains agonising, but having to tear open the wound and expose it to the world who probably can't and won't fathom, takes it to a whole level of torment.

I LOVE sports. Those who knows me well personally would vouch for that. I love, love, love sports. When I was younger and achingly timid, sports was what lured me to take part in social activities, to make new friends, to speak a little bolder, to hold my head a little higher. I fell in love with sports eventually and never looked back. Basketball, netball, running, hiking, swimming... Just a handful of the exercises that I love best. Team sports were easily my favourite because I absolutely look forward to playing with my teammates! Training is made a lot merrier because of all the jokes and laughter we would crack.

But as I go through awkward stages during my adolescence, weight gain, weight loss, dramatic changes to my body, mingling with people made me anxious and terribly self-conscious, and at times it was not easy to find a partner to play with, so I'd resort to yoga and running. I still returned to team sports whenever I have the chance, my fondest memories are Form 4 and 5, where by then I had slowly regained my health and weight from a nasty, ugly eating disorder episode, and rediscovered joy playing sports and running with the most accepting, kindhearted, gracious, understanding teammates. Sports Day, RIMUP... Ah, those days were the best time of my life.

The tales in between are long, and complex, so to recap, I have stopped all weight-bearing exercises for the past 2 years, which means anything that involves jumping, running, hopping... It sucks. I don't wish to pinpoint a particular event, but it was going to the UK when things went downhill.

I'd love to share about it one day. I have a few loose pieces of stories I had documented, but I would prefer to wait for the time when I'm more comfortable to share my experience with you. I don't want to live in the past, but it's necessary to mention briefly to get to the reason.

Amidst a year long of emotional-eating, unhealthy sleeping pattern (involuntarily), and the countless failed attempts trying to cope with stress and tension, one of the detrimental impacts was my knee injury.

With an alarming weight gain (by alarming I'm by no means exaggerating. I was too depressed and embarrassed to weigh myself but I wouldn't be surprised to find myself at least 20 kg heavier than I was prior to going to the UK. It was dreadful. It was no longer a concern of appearance but health.

But I didn't know how to put an end to this overexercising to-compensate-for-my-overeating cycle. So that meant I would sign up for classes and exercise 4 hours continuously. Yoga, Aerobic, Zumba, Body Pump. Vigorous exercise, yet not enough muscle mass to withstand my increasingly heavy body weight. Eventually my knee gave way.

I lost weight gradually upon returning from the UK, but things have not been looking good for my knee. The damage has been done and there's no repairing at this point. The MRI scan and the doctor visits confirmed that my knee is at a stage of what I understand as chondromalacia patellae.

I'm no specialist, but from what I deduced based on the doctor's words, my cartilage tissue has softened unreasonably and that led to the grinding of the bones against each other, causing the wearing off of the tissues, which leads to the burning irritation.


Weak smiles before entering for a MRI scan. Little did I know, the results revealed days later would appear to be so foreign and scary...

Having to juggle academics and visiting the rehabilitative centre every 2-3 days is no joke, coupled with the fact that I have to carry out these quadriceps strengthening exercises routinely everyday can be tiring and wearisome mentally and physically. I had just only completed my 5 sessions of injections on my knee (to provide lubricant but the effectiveness of it differs according to individuals and sadly, so far I have not notice any improvement but I'm not giving up) and let me tell you, injections on some of the muscles you engage most in is no fun. The discomfort that follows the injection puts me into a funk and my mind often feels dilapidated just trying to fight the cramp and twinge.

Post workout, my muscles would tremble in a manner that shocks me, and ache in places I never knew could. I clock in a minimum of 90 minutes every time I'm at the rehab just exercising (minus the traveling time), and if I'm not, I try to workout by myself at the gym. I like to joke that the sight of eye candies there adds much colour to my workout regime and fuels my motivation to workout, but if I were being truthful, those are lame humours I pull only to make myself feel better and look less pitiful when people would throw sympathetic looks at me- I appreciate them trying to make me feel better (hearts <3 ) so I try to avoid casting their spirits down as well hence I would put in that extra effort which sometimes includes biting my lip to prevent doleful tears from rolling down my cheeks.

I won't lie. I have not been accepting my circumstances in the most rational, sanguine, and promising manner that a reasonable man (<-- what too much of law studies does to you ha ha) my age should. I would blame myself, cry, wince, complain... Because of my knee condition, I had to miss out on the recent Youth Fellowship Games. It breaks my heart, and as though the cut wasn't deep enough, I felt as though a knife was plunged through my heart as I was made aware that one of the Games committee doubted the seriousness of my injury and implied I had faked it just to withdraw from the game with a seemingly valid excuse- what. the. heck. It was utterly revolting to the stomach to hear of it. Fake my injury? Man, would you like to take my place? I'd gladly give it up to you.

For someone who grew up playing various sports, my knee condition means that there's a huge uncertainty on when I can actually return to playing badminton games with friends, or hiking with my family or hop, jump or skip. And would that be at the price of a surgery, I can't answer that yet, and it drives me up the wall. It's as if a huge part of my ability has been bluntly and brutally ripped away, and my heart bleeds each time my knee would hurt at the simplest act of walking down the stairs or chasing after a train. It's not even a high technicality sport! And I'm only 21...


I miss our adventures of forest wilderness with the best company.

I would catch a glance of the glimmering Tokoh Dynamik (Dynamic Leader) Award erected proudly on the shelves that I had received from my high school's graduation ceremony for my outstanding performance in curricular activities and feel like I have failed myself. It drowns me in  shame because I couldn't help but wonder what my high school mates would think of me now. Fat? Overweight? A failure? (<-- Yeah, that's how easily the comparison trap kicks in for me and how important it is for me to address my negative feelings).

I had compared myself with a disabled, and in my lowest and worst disposition told my mum grimly : "Is this what being diagnosed with cancer feels like, because I feel as if my world is over..." My current slightly more levelheaded self would like to clarify a few things: Firstly, cancer is NOT incurable, it's NOT a venereal disease (there's still hope!), and secondly, being diagnosed with such a condition can barely amount to the end of the world, and although feelings are subjective and everyone is entitled to feel the way they do... I recognise and acknowledge, those words of mine blurted out even at the most dejecting period of my life, were, of course, insensitive and cynical. I forget how easy the challenges in life can make you a cynic, and I want to remind myself to focus on what I can change, what I can take control of, and how I can bring positivity and light to counteract whatever tragedies and darkness.


My happy place may be out of the woods during this tough time, but I'll come back some day. 


Stretching or posing? I intended only the latter, but the photographer took so long because I voluntarily held the pose for too long, I ended up seriously stretching.


Pondering about life's greatest questions. What's for dinner later? Certainly not these bamboos. 

I realised I spent too much time turning down the idea of keeping myself optimistic and physically active, mainly because my social activities are now even limited than it had been prior to my unfortunate diagnosis, that meant spending a lot of time by myself, and with my parents (my brothers are not at home), and it can get boring and mundane sometimes, and I am one to eat out of boredom and anxiety, though thanks (<-- Na-uh, not being sarcastic, trying to look at things at a different perspective) to my injury, a proper diet and exercise are aspects in life I can no longer afford to be reckless or ignorant about.

Not so much as it is on strengthening my muscles, but also about maintaining/ losing weight. It has been for the longest time, I would associate weight with appearance/ beauty. It now seems to me that in order to survive (i.e. walk without pain!), I'd have to ensure that I'm at a healthy weight, and not tip the scale over limit. How insane it is that weight seems to be a battle I had dealt with since my early adolescence-hood, and oh, the irony- where I once had no choice but to put on weight in order to continue breathing. I couldn't help but wonder if the lack of nutrients/ calories at that point actually contributed to the weakness of my cartilage. 

So how have I been taking it in these days? I don't want to paint a beautiful picture. Because it's the furthest thing from what my life looks like lately. Yet I don't want to go over the board on the bad at the same time.

Let's put it this way. I still have days when I feel completely and hopelessly grief-stricken and heavyhearted. I still have days when the thought of my knee condition dampens my spirits and I would resort to food for comfort. I still have days when my physiotherapy sessions get so physically and mentally demanding that I would just lose it and drop to the floor. I still have days when I wish I could be out there running, jumping, skipping... yet my knee, could not even last a minute without surrendering when I squat down to use the toilet (public toilets, sorry if this is TMI).

But in the thick of these worrisome parts of life, I would look up at the skies (quite literally ha ha), take deep breaths, and count my blessings. I am beyond lucky that I have the most amazing support system.

My parents, my cornerstone, my backbone... the ones who care for me, take care of the medical bills, and lift me up in every way they can. I love them so much and I am the most fortunate person to be their daughter.

My friends, who gently, and some fiercely (because who are we kidding, they know I love them so they take that they have the permission to yell at me ha ha but ultimately, they do it out of kind intentions- I guess :P) remind me to take good care of myself, and not to jump (a tendency when I grow too excited), and even offer to help me carry my books (Thanks Sonia :)).

I shall do my best to perform my part, because the doctor whom I have a crush on and whom I kept telling my family I want to be with had I been 10 years older hahahahahaha could not have made his points clearer before he went off for his 6 weeks holiday break (for the workload he undergoes, he deserves it!) : It is conclusively the efforts that come from myself that can help my body.

To work with my body instead of against it, was the message he had successfully gotten across. I don't intend to take another gap year, which means my studies may get neglected, because of the time and energy devoted on physiotherapy, but it all boils down to priorities- if I have to choose, my health must/ will/ shall come first.

I know there are people who may think otherwise, but it's my faithful ol' legs that will carry me till I'm older... I mean, hey, if I were to live till I'm 80, that means 60 more years of having to depend and rely on my feet to bring me around the world. I can't give up on it, I must, must persevere. This is another reminder for me to never, ever take my health for granted.

I'll settle for cheerier, merrier things to share with you in the next post, because life goes on.

My chest now feels a thousand times sharing this piece of news with you. Thanks for hearing me out.