Midway point

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How do you feel when you are climbing a mountain (physically and figuratively) and find yourself at the midway point? You’ve realised you have made it halfway to your final summit! Especially when you started and you could not even imagine being closer to the end? It may not seem like something to celebrate but I feel when we celebrate the small wins we progress to our bigger wins, it makes the journey easier and keeps us focused on the end result.

I am working on a learning journey and realised after completing what has been the most difficult subject so far, that I’ve reached the midway point! I have a feeling of elation that the end is closer and celebrate the progress I’ve made thus far. We often forget to celebrate the smaller wins but without them, we are unable to see the progress we’ve made as we work towards our bigger goals. I like to compare it to running long distance, for example, you may motivate yourself by acknowledging when you run past the fourth tree, or you keep running for the first couple of kilometres before you slow your pace. Once you have reached that first goal, you then set another one. When you reach that second goal, you may set another one or set it for the next time you go for a run – to extend the distance a little bit further each time. For example, if you are training for a 14km run but the longest distance you have ever run is 5km, you start at 5km and add a kilometre or two each time you train.

As you reach each extra kilometre, you feel a sense of achievement and realise the end goal of 14km is now closer. Once you reach halfway, you realise you have made it this far and each kilometre from now brings you closer to completing 14km. You can then go on to 7, then 8, then 10km. Once you have completed 14km, it is now the longest distance you have ever run in your life! How great does that feel? It doesn’t need to be running a marathon, this applies to various goals. It’s good to set milestones or mini-goals to ensure things stay on track. It also helps us to see what works and what needs to be refined to continue the path. Each step brings you closer to the end result. I find starting small, increasing in small increments and celebrating along the way helps you to achieve your final goal. Even if this is to learn to draw, paint, or drive. With drawing or painting, you may start with buying the paper, pencils, paint supplies. You may watch tutorials, you may start to copy other drawings or paintings, you may start with something simple and progress to more complex drawings/ paintings. You may attend classes to learn more about technique, colour, texture and styles. Soon, you are drawing and painting like you have been doing it all your life.

This also applies to learning to drive, you start with learning theory – road rules, requirements, legalities, etc. You may need to take an exam to test your theory knowledge is competent, then you can progress to the driving lessons. You learn to start the car, adjust the seats and mirrors, you learn how to indicate, check mirrors and use the pedals and if learning manual transmission, learn how to change the gears. You learn which gear is suitable for each speed, and how to reverse. You will learn to drive, park and reverse the car, as well as use the brake to stop. Each step mastered, we move onto the next one, sometimes in sequential order, sometimes in an order that suits us. With each step completed, each milestone reached, the closer you are to your end goal. You realise the anxiety and fear you may have felt at the start, ease away more and more when you realise how much closer you are to the end result and it is all based on the dedication and effort you have put into your journey.

We often forget how far we’ve come until we look back and see how much we have progressed on our journey. As we get used to the new normal, I feel it is nice to stop and celebrate the small wins in a way that suits, that have progressed you to this point. Without these small wins, you would not be any closer to your final goal, so please remember to celebrate them. Small wins may be small in stature, however, they can make a huge impact! I hope you are enjoying your journey, whatever it may be and celebrate your small wins along the way. There is a saying that sometimes it’s more about the journey and what it teaches us, rather than the final destination. I hope you learn, are challenged and grow on your journeys, enabling you to enjoy your destination when you get there. Life is a journey, remember to Laugh. Love. Live as you progress on your journey. Peace and blessings!

Through the fog…

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My journey with depression started 2 weeks before my grandma passed away. Or maybe earlier, I’m not too sure but I’m most aware of the last 6 weeks. When it was happening, I didn’t know what it was. I felt like I was not 100%, nor was I unwell. I just felt off but I didn’t know what it was. I may have been picking up on how my grandma may have been feeling before she passed away as I have felt her spirit since her passing in more ways than one.

On the morning of my grandma’s death, I had woken to go to the bathroom – this happens frequently during the night but what made it odd was that I had to do a bowel movement. This is not usually the case and it was very difficult but nothing much happened. I went back to bed and my mobile rang and it was on low volume so it took me a while to figure out it was my mobile. The call went to my voicemail. I think the call was at about 1.30am. Before I even checked my voicemail, I knew it was about my grandma’s passing. I can’t explain how, but I knew. I listened to the message, it was from the hospital saying she had passed away at 12.10am. I woke my husband and told him and asked whether I should call my mum, I wasn’t thinking, I was numb. He advised I should let her sleep and call her at a decent hour later in the morning. I did not go back to sleep that night.

My phone rang at 4.00am and I knew it was my mum calling to inform me about grandma, I was numb. My mum was distraught and I went into protective mode – of myself and my mum. I went into autopilot and starting doing what the eldest daughter needs to do at that time. It was hard seeing my mum’s grief, I was holding myself together the best way I could. I had to help my mum go to the cemetery, organise and purchase a plot, go with her to the funeral home and organise the funeral, flowers, hymns, readings, pall bearers, readings, pictures and slideshow along with the viewing and wake which ended up at our house. There was much to keep me busy, I went into auto-pilot and reminded my mum to eat, drink, rest and sleep. In the process, I was neglecting to do these things myself. I lost my appetite, was sleeping around only 4 hours each night and just kept going with everything that had to be done.

To make matters more hectic, I had my sister from Perth coming to stay from the night before the viewing until the Funeral, 3 days later. Every day since the phone call, I had every sibling, mum and other family members over at our place for 2 weeks. It was overwhelming to say the least. My younger siblings tend to drain my energy so I was conserving what little energy I had to get through this difficult time and trying to shut out the ‘noise’ from my sisters. I was trying to hold in my grief and not express it but when I read my remembrance at the funeral service, I broke down and you could hardly understand what I was saying about my grandma. I had to recover and do a reading later on which I was able to read more coherently.

I had no energy to tell anyone of my grandma’s passing except three good friends – one who I’ve known for 40 years, another for over 20 years and another whom she and I have a different spiritual connection. We can’t explain it but it is there. I did write a post about it to express some of my grief and emotion as I find writing helps me process thoughts and feelings. It helped to an extent. I felt at peace when we laid my grandma to rest because I knew she was in a better place and no longer suffering. I felt she could finally spread her wings and fly. When everyone left our place after the wake, I finally had some peace. Saturday was devoted to cleaning up and taking my daughter to ballet. I felt somewhat better.

Sunday, I took my mum to watch the movie “Crazy Rich Asians” to bring some laughter back into our lives, even though there were some tender moments that also brought some tears. It was just my little family around me on Monday which was nice and brought some peace. The next day, I was going back to work. I thought getting back into routine would help – it turned out I was very wrong about that. As I am also a Life Coach, I provide Management Coaching at work. I love the coaching experience but it does take a lot of my energy. Something I didn’t have much of at the time.

I remember surviving through each day with very little sleep, I was making myself eat even though I had no appetite. I couldn’t afford to get sick. After being at work for 1.5 weeks, I received a work email and was also receiving coaching myself – yes coaches need to be coached too! Both the work email and coaching made me realise I was breaking down and not coping – it was costing me my inner peace which is too high a price to pay. I realised I needed to ask for time off work to grieve. I had been holding it in for far too long.

The weekend before my week’s leave, I had a Holy Communion to attend which was giving me anxiety. I experienced the worst anxiety I had ever felt. I was up early in the morning going to the toilet several times, not able to eat breakfast and not wanting to socialise as I knew there would be other people I knew at the service. I was using all my energy to get dressed and out the door. As I walked into the church, a friend saw me who I had not seen for some time, looked at me she asked “Are you OK?”, I manged to reply “I’m ok, Just Ok.” She let me have my space as I went to find my other ‘friend’. When I found her, she did not ask how I was, did not check if I was OK. She laughed and smiled and chatted. Every sound was too loud, laughter was an assault to my senses and smiling was painful.

I used all my energy to get through the mass and held back tears. During the mass a friend sat next to me who always gives out positive energy. I think that helped me half way through the mass. It was so difficult during mass as there was an elderly man in a wheel chair with his loving daughter which reminded me of my mum with her mother when she was still alive. When I turned behind me to shake hands to say ‘Peace be with you’ there was a lovely elderly lady wearing a hat which reminded me of my grandma. It was tough. When the mass was over, I could only manage to see the girl who was having Holy Communion to say “God is in your heart”. I was almost at breaking point, I was trembling with the effort of keeping my composure for that long. Her daughter has anxiety and I could see how strained she was on that day as well. We bid our goodbyes and went home. It was tough but I survived!

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The next day I went to my family doctor because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I knew something was out of balance but I didn’t know what. I didn’t know what was happening to me, I felt like I was in a fog and couldn’t get out. I burst into tears when I explained what I was feeling, what I was doing or not doing and he diagnosed me with depression. It was both a relief to know what was wrong and also filled me with dread to tell the news to my family. My doctor prescribed me antidepressants so I could sleep because the chronic lack of sleep was contributing to my depression.

I had a good night’s sleep for the first time in 3 weeks. I had the week to recover and time to grieve. I scheduled a few activities I wanted to do on my own and also visited my Grandma’s grave on the one month anniversary of her death. I had anxiety that morning too but I was determined to go. I bought hot pink and white roses and drove to the cemetery. I grabbed a flower holder that is provided by the cemetery, put some water in it and placed the flowers in the holder. I walked to my grandma’s grave and placed the flowers at the top of her grave. I took off my shoes, sat on the grass and grieved, wept, spoke to her in Vietnamese and at times sat in silence. I felt such a release and my heart was finally lighter. I finally felt like the fog was lifting. I thanked my grandma, said goodbye and left.

I finally felt like I was on the road to recovery. I hope my story helps others who may be experiencing anxiety and depression or helps others pick up warning signs from friends, family or loved ones who may be experiencing anxiety and depression. This week, I finally took my own advice to take some ‘me’ time to look after myself so I can then look after others. I also put into action something I posted on my Instagram Coaching page:

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I let go of energy, habits, behaviour and people that didn’t serve me. I was taking back my power – something I coach others to do and it was good to finally take my own advice!

Someone once showed me this quote by Buddha:

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The Buddhist way of life resonates with me and I found this saying to be fulfilled during this week. I am going to borrow another saying by Buddha when he was teaching about the Not Self “This is not mine. This I am not. This is not myself.” but insert the word ‘depression’ into it – “Depression is not mine, Depression I am not. Depression is not myself.” This has been a tough week but a journey I had to have. I feel I am stronger because of this and enables me to be a better coach to enable others to Laugh.Love.Live! Peace and blessings – Namaste!

 

 

 

What sets your soul on fire?

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My own learning journey has been lifelong and my passion is learning. I have been lucky to build my career in learning, specifically in adult learning. As part of my journey, I am now also a qualified Life Coach, something I have been wanting to do for 4-5 years. I have been on my own learning journey, learning about myself and others – especially due to losing loved ones.

I am so energised by coaching others enabling people to live their best life. Seeing people feel they have the power to change is amazing. I feel that this is what I am meant to do. I have also realised that due to losing my Grandmother, I have not had the time to grieve – I’ve been taking care of others – my mother, sister, husband, daughter but not had time to renew and rejuvenate myself. I have found that I need my alone time as this is the best way I can recharge and bring my best self to help others. Decisions I have been making in the last few weeks have not been optimal and have been affected by not being able to release my grief. This is going to change – it needs to change. For my sake and the sake of my family.

I’m not angry or sad, just done. This time will enable me to refresh, renew and regenerate. This way I can continue to Laugh.Love.Live and share the love with others.

I’ve included a link to a blog post below about the reasons why Life Coaching sets my soul on fire. It has also been shared on other social media sites. Taking time out to be true to myself will enable me to continue this passion. Peace and blessings – may you have a great week ahead. Namaste.

https://www.learning4life.com.au/blog/wwwlearning4lifecomau/blogpost-5

 

Gratitude!

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Just a quick shout out to my followers – thanks so much, I have reached over 200 follows! It’s reassuring to know that my posts are read and resonate with you all. Thank you to those who have also engaged with my blog by leaving comments – much appreciated! When I started blogging (it has been 6 years to date!), I wasn’t sure how my blog would unfold but it soon took shape and I am continually inspired by fellow bloggers who provide encouragement with their ‘likes’ and ‘follows’. Thanks for taking the time out of your busy lives to read and follow my humble blog and also than you for sharing your experiences, knowledge, ideas, creativity and thoughts via your blogs! Due to work/ study commitments as well as family and extra curricular commitments, I may take a while but I eventually read and follow back those who comment, like or follow my posts. Continue to Laugh.Love.Live via your own blogging experiences – peace and blessings!

 

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Peace and Blessings!

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Wishing everyone will continue to Laugh.Love.Live in the year ahead. Thank you for the support and encouragement for my humble blog. Peace and many blessings for 2018 – may it be a year full of love, laughter, compassion and understanding.  namaste

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One step at a time….

 

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Previously I wrote a post titled Waiting to exhale. We’ve been watching and helping my  daughter with issues regarding friendships, school and growing up. It’s not pleasant watching your child suffer in any way, and as a parent you wish you could remove the source of suffering for your child. As a parent, when your child suffers – so do you. It is a tough ride, the journey changes you but there is a realisation that even though you wish you could take your child’s pain away, they need to experience it as it is their journey – their learning experience as much as it is yours.

As a parent, you realise that the small wins – such as a good day or week is something to be grateful for. It’s the realisation that you need to take it one step at a time and deal with things as they arise – helping your child to grow, learn and manage life’s hurdles. It is also a life long journey which provides growth as a parent, adult and person. You realise that your child will respond and react dependent on your choices and your reaction as a parent; an adult that your child looks up to. Your child’s guidance is your own behaviour. It becomes paramount then, as a parent, I am conscious of how I behave and how that relates to my child’s behaviour, thoughts and actions. This becomes instrumental in the way my child responds and reacts to life’s challenges.

When speaking about remaining calm, acting with compassion and tolerance – these attributes are ones I must also display. I feel words are meaningless without action. I hope to instill into my daughter, the kind of values and behaviours that we’d like the future generation to display. I’m helping my daughter manage her reactions, focus on positives and acknowledge negative feelings/ thoughts but not letting them control her behaviour/ response. Her father and I are assisting her to become more aware of when and how to manage issues before they become so overwhelming that it is hard for her to see how she can overcome them.

My daughter is an ‘old soul’, her perspective may at times, be much deeper than her friends the same age and often surprises me with her observations and responses but, at the same time she is also a child who is still feeling her way in the world. I’m still waiting to exhale but with each small step in the right direction, it feels we are making progress. When there have been bumps in the road and our progress feels as though it is “two steps forward, one step back” – I’ve come to realise that even one step in the right direction is better than none at all. Our focus at the moment is ‘one foot in front of the other’ so we may continue to Laugh. Love. Live. Peace and blessings!

 

 

 

The end of the year is nigh!

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So, here it is again folks! The last month of the year and it seems that we are facing it again with surprise – where did the year go? At times, this year felt like it was never going to end and now that we’ve almost reached the end, at times it is hard to believe that it is nearly over! This year has been interesting to say the least and 2017 will bring with it new challenges and opportunities. The year ahead will bring as much love, joy, happiness, peace and good health that is radiated outwards. Let’s hope that the good karma is magnified to overcome the adverse accoutrements that are hanging around! May you Laugh, Love, Live until the end of the year and beyond – Peace and blessings!

Treasure special people

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Do you have special people in your life that you know you would miss if they were not around anymore? I am fortunate to have some very special people in my life, past and present who have influenced or currently influence my thoughts and actions. I feel I am lucky to have some great people in my life – I am grateful for their love, guidance and influence in my life even though at times I may not have realised it at the time.

I am a big believer in karma and realise that in my youth, I have been ungrateful and selfish but am thankful for those who did stick by me and continued to guide and help me to become a better person. I am still on the journey and glad to be working towards becoming a better me. I’ve realised that projecting positive energy guarantees positive energy coming back – at other times, when the energy is not positive then I feel that it may be trying to teach me something I haven’t yet mastered.

I hope that you have the pleasure of special people in your life to love and guide you – even if you don’t realise it at the time. When you do, please remember to thank these special people for their love and guidance – in a way that you feel best suits the situation or person. If they are no longer in your life, you can still send out a message of thanks for that person who has influenced you in the form of a prayer or mantra – however you feel best suits.

I hope these special people help you live your life the best way you can, reminding you to:

  • love yourself and others – that it’s the little things/ moments which are important,
  • laugh – at yourself, finding humour when things become difficult, applying humour -reminding you not to take yourself so seriously at times and,
  • practice empathy.

I feel that people who enable you to Laugh, Love, Live! are often the best kind of people and sometimes have been there all along without you even realising. I hope to express gratitude to the special people in my life through my words and actions towards them continually. These people are usually supportive, encouraging, positive people who provide you with constructive criticism. I find that you are able to reflect on their feedback to see what/ how you can apply it to blossom authentically into your own person.

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Think about the special people in your life – who are they? Have you realised who they are? Do they know they are special to you? How can you thank them and let them know they are cherished? Remember, the little things matter the most – a kind word, a smile, a note, an email, a card or just say ‘thanks’. Whenever you remember and however you express your gratitude, may be the best thing that person may have heard/ received all day! Peace and blessings!

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Commitment…a year on.

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Simple Definition of commitment

  • : a promise to do or give something

  • : a promise to be loyal to someone or something

  • : the attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something

Full Definition of commitment

  1. 1a :  an act of committing to a charge or trust: as (1) :  a consignment to a penal or mental institution (2) :  an act of referring a matter to a legislative committee b :  mittimus

  2. 2a :  an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; especially :  an engagement to assume a financial obligation at a future dateb :  something pledgedc :  the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelled <a commitment to a cause>

Source: Merriam-Webster’s Learner’s Dictionary
  I have had numerous conversations about marriage and commitment, the most recent with a friend explaining how I didn’t feel the need to be married because of my commitment to my partner and relationship – hence the title of this post. Since I was about 16 years old, I felt that I didn’t want to get married – or rather felt that I didn’t need to. I felt that if I was in a loving, committed relationship then that was ample. I also felt that if I did get married, it would be once only and that my commitment to my spouse was for life – til death do us part – so to speak. I also feel that the marriage is between the two people involved and not anyone else. I feel that however anyone chooses to celebrate their marriage is the sole decision for the couple involved. I had always wanted a small ceremony or best yet – to elope! It has sparked numerous conversations, expressing of opinions and perspectives and I respect them all and also hoped mine were also respected. I have always been unconventional to the chagrin of my parents.

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I have never felt the need to be married despite being with my partner for 19 years but last year I read a book by Elizabeth Gilbert titled Committed which helped me to grow better accustomed to the idea of marriage. She was writing about marriage because she had been married once before and so had her partner. They both agreed not to marry again but they hit a snag. The ultimatum was that they needed to get married in order to be able to stay in a relationship together in her country of residence. Elizabeth Gilbert worked through all her thoughts and misgivings about getting married in order to come to terms with getting married again.  You can read the excerpt of the story here: http://www.elizabethgilbert.com/books/committed-a-love-story/ 

I wasn’t afraid to get married – I just didn’t feel the need to. As I read through the book, some feelings and themes resonated with me and enabled me get to the point where I felt I was ready to get married but still didn’t feel the need to. I felt that my partner had been patiently waiting and loving as I had yet to come to agreement with him on the topic. I felt is was important that I come to the decision on my own, not as a result of other people’s persuasion.
We planned a family holiday – our first overseas trip to Seattle to visit family and then Hawaii – somewhere I have always wanted to go! As a result of going to Hawaii, I realised that we could get married while we were there and about a month before we were due to leave for our trip, while we were visiting one of my dearest friends – I mentioned to my partner that we could get married in Hawaii to which he readily agreed and said “Ok, let’s do it!”. I had always had the desire to elope and Hawaii provided the perfect opportunity to do so! It was the biggest hint for my friend but he didn’t quite pick up on it! My immediate family had their suspicions when we announced we were going to Hawaii but weren’t entirely sure because we were going to Seattle prior to Hawaii. As a result, I started planning our wedding along with our holiday! I still feel that you need to have the commitment to each other and your relationship before the marriage. I feel that without the commitment, there is no marriage.
Most of my friends and family felt that my partner and I were ‘married’ as we had been together for many years and also have a family together. Although some family members have asked when were we going to get married – to which I would always reply “We’re not.” Two of my sisters also suggested that I could have a ‘commitment ceremony’ to which my partner and I both didn’t want. I felt the marriage ceremony was a formality for me but our preference would be a marriage ceremony over a commitment ceremony. I also feel strongly about marriage equality and wish that I lived in a country that embraced it – it’s still a work in progress!
 As a result, we didn’t tell anyone of our plans – not even my cousins that we visited and resided with while in Seattle! On the first morning in Hawaii, we had a lovely wedding ceremony at Waialae beach in Kahala. We lived my motto of Laugh, Love, Live! and enjoyed our special time together as it became our first family holiday overseas, wedding and honeymoon all rolled into one! It was perfect for us, we had a lovely ceremony officiated by Leah Noble, our celebrant. In my email correspondence with Leah, I already felt connected and couldn’t wait to meet her – she emailed the same way as she spoke! She was warm, friendly and very engaging. Leah made us feel at ease as soon as we met and highly recommend her! Leah picked us up at our hotel, drove us to Waialae beach, married us and took photos – that’s what we call service!

When we arrived back home, even though I couldn’t reach her until late that evening, I called my mum to let her know first before we told other family and close friends. It has been a year since that has happened and we have enjoyed celebrating our first year of marriage and 20 years together. We have very fond memories of our first trip to Seattle and Hawaii and look forward to many more years celebrating our love and commitment – a journey that we’ve always been committed to sharing together!

Power of Positivity

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There is a lot to be said about staying positive. Here is a link to an article that I found interesting that provides scientific evidence supporting the importance of positive thinking:

http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/allinthemind/the-scientific-evidence-for-positive-thinking/6553614

There are numerous articles and research that points to how positive thinking reduces stress and the resulting health benefits. There is growing research on the health benefits of positive thinking and how emotional stress, negative self-talk/ beliefs and negative thinking can have adverse implications to your health (http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-9690/scientific-proof-that-negative-beliefs-harm-your-health.html).

Health benefits linked to positive thinking are listed below (source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/positive-thinking/art-20043950):

The health benefits of positive thinking

Researchers continue to explore the effects of positive thinking and optimism on health. Health benefits that positive thinking may provide include:
  • Increased life span
  • Lower rates of depression
  • Lower levels of distress
  • Greater resistance to the common cold
  • Better psychological and physical well-being
  • Reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease
  • Better coping skills during hardships and times of stress

Research also points out that positive thinking is something that can be practiced enabling you to be more optimistic. This in turn enables you to handle everyday stress in a more constructive way. It doesn’t mean that you are happy all the time and seem to walk around wearing rose-coloured glasses. It means that you are able to approach things or situations that are unpleasant in a positive and productive way rather than thinking the worst is going to happen. You tend to think that the best is going to happen.

Positive psychology seems to be a growing field of research due to the links to health benefits and have a long lasting effect to our personal growth and development. For years, psychology turned its attention to the study of negative emotions or negative affect, including: depression, sadness, anger, stress and anxiety. Not surprisingly, psychologists found them interesting because they may often lead to, or signal the presence of, psychological disorders (Source: http://positivepsychology.org.uk/pp-theory/positive-emotions/31-your-emotions-and-you-.html).

Although, given the growing evidence of health benefits that result from positive thinking – I find it is interesting to observe that positive thinking isn’t practiced more often. I’m interested to know your thoughts? I’ve concluded this post with some quotes I found that support the power of positivity – it may inspire you to practice positivity more often to be able to Laugh, Love, Live! Positive thinking will enable you to readily take on life’s challenges and may lead to a more genuine, happy life. Namaste! namaste3