Ah, this year is the epitome of what crazy looks like. So much has happened but also so little at the same time. Plans got cancelled, we were forced to change the way we normally go about with our lives, and we faced so many uncertainties along the way. 

If we just think about it on the surface, there wasn’t much to be happy about or be grateful for in 2020, it seems like it will go down to be one of the worst years in our lifetime. But wait, is it actually? 

Yes, it definitely is the year when bad things happened. When many lives were lost and changed not just because of the pandemic but other calamities, and unfortunate events as well. It was indeed full of fears and anxieties. And yet, it is also when we learned to survive all that and more. 

This year has been the year of learning. Learning to be strong when faced with the precariousness of what could happen tomorrow, of learning to adjust to the new normal to keep our loved ones and communities safe, of learning to find our voices to pursue the truth and what is right, and of learning to take things one day at a time because things could change at any time.

Personally, this has been a year of discovery. It has been a journey of discovering what matters most and focusing on what’s keeping me rooted. For everything that has unfolded, I was finally able to keep some things into perspective and realised how important self-care is. It’s not just taking myself out for retail therapy or binge watching tv shows, it’s not just pampering myself, but rather, it is actively protecting my mind space and peace. 

Difficult as it was, I learned to detach myself from people and situations that do not contribute to my growth. I learned to be grateful for what I have in the moment as I work towards my goals slowly and quietly, and most importantly, to celebrate my accomplishments on my own and with only the few who are there for me genuinely.

I hope that as we venture into the new year, we can carry each of our experiences and use them in tackling the challenges coming our way. And if there is only one thing to take away from 2020, may it be the realisation that we are capable of rebuilding and hitting reset to jump into the things that we never got to do. 

After all, this year has taught us that the future can be very fickle, so we should act while we still have the now, with brave and hopeful hearts.

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Here’s what I need you to know:

Life is tough

We dream but at times we fail

We choose to become one thing but end up to be something else

We choose a path but sometimes we get side-tracked

We build certain visions but some of them will burn to ashes

It’s not always going to be rainbows and sunshine

You’re gonna have to fight tooth and nail to become the person you want to be

You will take wrong turns and rough roads along the way

But what I need you to remember,

Is not to give up hope

You may not always end up where you wish to be

But trust that you will fall exactly where you need to be

Transiency of Today

It has been about 6 months since everyone of us first started to embark on the new normal given the circumstances that COVID-19 has brought. That’s already half of 2020 gone, mostly spent inside the walls of our homes trying to avoid as much face-to-face interactions as possible to avoid the spread of the virus. It has been such a difficult time indeed.

In addition to this, we have also seen many other unfortunate events that unfolded. First the tragic death of George Floyd sparking the Black Lives Matter movement to show outrage about this cruelty. There were natural disasters such as typhoons in different parts of the world, wildfires, an unexpected explosion killing more than a hundred and displacing at least 300,000 people in Lebanon. Not to mention millions of deaths we have seen across the world due to COVID-19.

During these trying times, I can’t help but realise how fleeting life is and the moments that come with it. Things that we least expect can happen at any time and we don’t usually get to prepare for them, we can lose people without having been able to say good bye, and we may not have the opportunity to do and say some of the things that have always been in our minds.

So while we have the time, we should at least hold people we love more closely, tell them we love them, and hug them a bit longer. If we can do something that can impact another in a good way, we should not hesitate to do it. If there’s something we’ve always wanted to do, we take the first step now because we don’t know if we’re going to get the chance again tomorrow. We have to remind ourselves that what we truly have is today and while we still get to decide what to do with it, we should seize it. Tomorrow is never guaranteed.

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For peace of mind and healing

For acceptance and the courage to move forward

For letting go of things which are not meant for me and embracing those which are

For being grateful of the present and learning from the past

For looking towards the future

With a brave and open heart

25 Nuggets of Wisdom for 25 Years

Now that I am officially on the silver anniversary of my birth, I had a look back and realised that I have gained significant lessons throughout the years. While some of these lessons were learned first-hand, others were a product of my interactions with people and my observations of things around me.

Either way, I continue to find them valuable and serve as reminders to me especially in times of difficulty or in need of discernment. Some of these words might sound cliche to you but there is definitely a reason why they are called so. With so many things I wanted to share, I picked out my top 25 in celebration of having reached this far. Here it goes.

1. Strength is not a character, it’s a choice.

2. Learn to ask for what you need. Don’t wait for others to figure it out.

3. Passion is not something magical that you suddenly stumble upon. You create it.

4. You are a work in progress. There’s room for mistakes, there is a chance to improve.

5. Learn to delegate. You don’t have to do everything on your own.

6. Be wise on whom you place your trust, not everyone is there to see you win.

7. The world can be a dark cold place. Be kind as much as you can.

8. When you can’t see anything good around you, start to create it yourself.

9. It’s okay not to be okay and not have things figured out.

10. Never allow what other people think to limit your potential.

11. You are responsible in setting the standards for how other people will treat you.

12. It’s important to take good care of yourself first before you can take care of others.

13. Stick to your goals but be flexible in your ways to achieving them.

14. Disappointment comes from your own expectations. Set realistic ones.

15. Be grateful for what you have and work hard for what you want.

16. Genuine intentions always come through.

17. Wonderful things can usually be found on the other side of fear.

18. Few real friends are worth way more than a hundred fake ones.

19. Don’t wait for the right moment, make the moment right.

20. Listen more than you speak.

21. Focus your energy on things that you can control.

22. Know when to say NO or when to STOP.

23. The grass is not always greener on the other side. It’s the greenest where you water it.

24. Growth takes time. Be patient with your process.

25. LOVE.


How to Take the Good with the Bad

With all that’s been going on in the world today, a pandemic continuously ravaging many communities, political conflicts, a highly critical society, and all the little things that add up to the stress we experience every day, it can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are moments when it can all get overwhelming and we feel defeated and powerless over things we cannot control. Feeling that way at times is okay. It is a valid response to the negative experiences that we encounter.

It is so easy to get carried away and feel that we cannot do anything about our situations and simply allow the frustration to simmer and grow within us until it eventually comes out as a destructive force. This is why as hard as it sounds, we have to try and find ways to help us cope with the stressors and make sense of the circumstances in a way that will develop our strength and resilience to tackle whatever adversities that come our way.

Here are some of the things that we can do that might help through some challenging times:

1. Keep in mind that things are only temporary. As a famous philosopher once said, “The only constant in life is change”. We have to learn to be flexible to the changes happening around us and shape our responses accordingly. We have to learn to make the most out of the good moments while we face the bad ones head on knowing they are not there permanently. Our resilience can only grow when we begin to adapt to the changes that we go through.

2. Look for the silver-lining. It is undeniable that the world can be a cold dark place, but there are still good all around us when we choose to look for them. When we only direct our attention to the negativity, that’s all we are able to see. This is why we have to take circumstances more closely and look for what they are trying to tell us. Maybe there are valuable lessons that we can learn from them, maybe they serve as a wake up call urging us to change some things that are not working, or maybe they are there to redirect our paths toward better places. Remember, that the more we understand the WHY, the more we can plan for the HOW.

3. Accept that there are things beyond our control. We are only human and it comes with limitations. Learn to acknowledge the fact that some things are simply how they are and as much as we want to change them ourselves, they are something out of our hands. Once we surrender to this reality, we can then move on to focusing on things that we can actually do something about. This helps us set our priorities straight and allows us to spend our energy on situations and things that are within our hands.

4. Do something nice for another person/s. If we cannot see anything good around us, why don’t we take the initiative to create it ourselves? If you see someone struggling, try to offer a hand. It might be something small or trivial but kindness usually goes a long way especially for people who need it the most.

5. Create and maintain your own safe place. Always remember to take care of yourself too. It is important to have your own space where you can rest and move away from the toxicities of today. It does not mean detaching one self from reality, it only means that we also need to take a breather once in a while and give ourselves some time to recuperate our mental, emotional, and physical energy so we can be more capable to face the challenges we encounter. Go read a book, see new places, talk to a loved one, indulge in movies or good food, meditate. Whatever it is, just do something that gives you some semblance of peace.

There are still a number of ways to navigate our way through the hard times, what matters is to find what works the most. I hope you find yours. ♥♥♥

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There are certain moments that compels you to write.

Like a beautiful scenery with the sun just about to set while reflecting golden lights on the calm harbour waters; 

the laughter of people, bits and pieces of strangers’ conversations that almost resemble a soft melody in the background;

and that light-hearted feeling that makes you feel like everything is just right.

Inspired by a Charles Bukowski quote

Enneagram & Lyrics

It’s one of those afternoons after work when I was lazily scrolling through Facebook when I saw an interesting post shared by one of my friends. It’s a screenshot of a Spotify playlist by Sleeping At Last, a musical project I have always enjoyed listening to. What really caught my eye though was the theme of the album, it was based on a famous system used for personality typing called the Enneagram.

As someone who had come across this topic a few times during my undergrad study of Psychology, I got excited and curious at the same time. I wondered how songs about certain personality types would sound like and if the musicians will even be able to capture their uniqueness exquisitely. And so, I decided to have a listen.

There are 9 tracks in the album, one song for each types: One (The Reformer), Two (The Helper), Three (The Achiever), Four (The Individualist), Five (The Investigator), Six (The Loyalist), Seven (The Enthusiast), Eight (The Challenger), and Nine (The Peacemaker). I spent around 40 minutes listening while also having a copy of the lyrics as the music played and I can say that it was 40 minutes not wasted at all.

“the price of this so-called perfection is everything.
i’ve spent my whole life searching desperately
to find out that grace requires nothing of me.
i just want to build you up, build you up ’til you’re good as new and maybe one day i will get around to fixing myself too.”
i finally see myself.
through the eyes of no one else. it’s so exhausting on this silver screen where i play the role of anyone but me.

Each song resonates so clearly to me most especially the one made for my type. It all speaks to the listener and takes you along this journey filled with beautiful, sometimes painful, words, instruments, and mundane sounds working harmoniously together. Of course, the vocals also added a feeling of melancholy but of genuineness to the lyrics. Each song reflecting the strengths and weaknesses that are descriptive of the Enneagram personality types. There is a cathartic sense throughout the full album. It sounds surreal.

“what if we already are who we’ve been dying to become
in certain light i can plainly see a reflection of magnificence hidden in you
maybe even in me.”
i want to watch the universe expand. i want to break it into pieces small enough to understand, and put it all back together again in the quiet of my private collection.
and these invisible walls
just might keep us safe.
with a vigilant heart,
i’ll push into the dark
but i’ll learn to breathe deep
and make peace with the stars.

To give you a preview of what I mean, I have put together my most favourite parts or lyrics and an excerpt from each track. It’s definitely worth listening to and I recommend you to find out your own type before doing so as it will give you a more personal listening experience.

it feels like sinking when i’m standing in one place.
so i look to the future and i book another flight.
when everything feels heavy, i’ve learned to travel light.
i’ll shake the ground with all my might, i will pull my whole heart up to the surface. for the innocent, for the vulnerable, i’ll show up on the front lines with a purpose.”
we were born to try,
to see each other through.
to know and love ourselves and others well
is the most difficult and meaningful
work we’ll ever do.

To know a bit more about The Enneagram Types:

The Enneagram Institute

To listen to the whole album:

Staying True to Who We are

In Psychology, there is a term called Congruence coined by a famous humanistic psychologist named Carl Rogers. Congruence is a state where a person’s self-image is almost in line with his/her ideal self or the person he/she aims to become. This involves actual experiences, goals, and ambitions, and other aspects that makes someone who they are. The more our self-image aligns with our ideal self, the more we develop our self-worth, on the contrary, the more they diverge from each other, the more we are feeling inauthentic.

Being congruent is being able to stay connected to ourselves, feelings, and perspectives. Unfortunately, for many of us our self image has become tainted by our need to maintain a certain public image. This is more the case now given how our society have evolved and with the existence of modern technology. It is now easy to hide behind highly curated social media feeds, external achievements, or unhealthy relationships and neglect the need to align our experiences to who we are as a person.

Showing the real parts of us can be very nerve-wracking because it’s often met with disapproval especially when it does not conform with what is expected of us. This is why at times, we can’t help but seek the validation of other people because it gives us a temporary sense of value but without realising that it devaluates our self-worth in the long run. The more we move away from who we are, the more unhappy we become and this does not seem sustainable at all. We cannot simply rely on external aspects to fill in the gaps within ourselves.

Thinking about these made me wonder how many of us have actually become way too entangled with prioritising how we appear in public instead of working towards cultivating our self image to become congruent to who we strive to become. This prompted me to broach the subject as I, myself, is a witness of how much of a struggle it can be avoiding to succumb to the mainstream. I want to remind myself and my readers of the importance of being raw, of expressing our feelings and emotions even when it’s uncomfortable. We don’t always have to accommodate and please people.

I want to be reminded that we can remove ourselves from people and situations that does not reflect our values, and that we can simply be ourselves without needing to create a well-liked public image. We don’t have to post perfect picture shots all the time, or feel obliged to be there for someone when we are not in a good head space ourselves just so they can call us a good friend. We don’t need to have a string of followers, likes, or “hearts” because those numbers does not reflect who we are. We don’t have to fake our experiences just so we can tell a good story and most importantly, we don’t have to depend our worth solely on other people’s evaluation.

The way we see ourselves is more important than how other people see us and this is a relationship that we should grow more than anything else. I am hopeful that we are all capable of achieving some level of congruence and it is possible to live as authentically as we know how. It takes a lot of work for sure but every step we take brings us closer to a more rewarding sense of congruence.