#34-Finding Gratitude Once Again

A wise man whom I met on one of my travels once shared this with me this quote from Mark Twain, “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.”

I think I definitely have an answer for the former, and am very thankful to my parents for bringing me to this beautiful world. However, for the latter, I am still trying to figure that out, every single day. We tend to cruise through life without giving it much thought, and let the practicalities of life guide us through our decision making.

Humans have a tendency to take things for granted, and that can manifest itself in many ways. The fact that one lets the practicalities of life guide you is an indication of that. I am very guilty of that. I have been keeping myself really busy the last few months, but it still doesn’t amount to much. There isn’t much self-satisfaction. Ironically, there seems to be more satisfaction when I was unemployed. There is nothing wrong with my current life on the surface, but deep down, I feel that everything about it is wrong. By not chasing my dreams, there is a part of me that is always craving for the “what-ifs”. However, I am limited by the practicalities of life for now. I see my parents growing old, and their desire to see me tread the path that everyone is on no doubt holds me back. Is it their dream or is it my dream? Or is it just what society defines as the norm? Is there really something wrong when you don’t fall into the “norm”? Every individual is different, and I believe succumbing to social norms just isn’t the right thing to do.

Happiness comes from within, and this is something I am still striving for, every single day. Starting with being grateful and appreciating the little things in life, I think my goal for the rest of 2016 is to start being thankful for the little things that make me smile, however small they might be.

Perhaps, just maybe, it is time to get back on the road, and try to find those answers.

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#33 – Solo Traveling

I think I am now officially addicted to solo traveling.

I really enjoyed the time I had alone. Seriously. I enjoyed the intellectual banter I had, with myself, inside my mind. Sounds crazy, but more often than not, for someone like me, I rarely get to talk to myself, and it actually feels nice. I really love these introspective moments, which I really rarely get back at home.

The interesting thing about traveling solo is that you are never really alone. People talk to you, people tell you stories, people feel less vulnerable and actually open up so much more when they meet a solo traveler. Its like, I feel so much more connected to the world, to other people.

People travel for all sorts of reasons, and everyone has a different goal they are trying to achieve. I’ve met American history professors in Florence who were there to study and teach Renaissance art, an elderly man who flew from Canada to Florence to visit his ailing mother in law, a Singaporean traveling solo for his grad trip, to name a few. Maybe many of us travel because you want to see the world, but what I have realized is that yeah, sure, you travel to a certain place to see what you want to see, but the journey there can be full of surprises as well!

Seriously, I cannot wait to do this again! And, among the few dreams I tried to do on this trip, I finally fulfilled the childhood dream of seeing tulip fields in Amsterdam! smile emoticon20160501-DSC_6567

#31- Love thy imperfections in life

Sometimes life happens. It just happens. You don’t know why, how or what, but it happens. I think everyone has been through this at some point in time. When you least expect things, it happens. If you are one of those where you are able to keep yourself on track, and keep to the path you think is best for you, then kudos to you.

Unfortunately or maybe luckily, I’m one of those who gets distracted easily, and let life happen. I love the element of surprise. That keeps me on my toes and excited. These emotions make me feel alive.

My ideal life isn’t about that high paying job, or that perfect significant other, but rather, the imperfections in life. Every family is dysfunctional in its own way or another, but I love every bit of my family. Work is tough and demanding, but the constant flow of challenges keeps me happy and mentally stimulated. Not every Friend is perfect, but there are those that love you to bits, and you just know it.

To really love life entails loving the imperfections as well. Even self love is about accepting every part of yourself, both the good and the bad. And honestly, cliche as it may sound, if someone loves you for both your good and bad, then this person is a keeper, and family definitely falls in this category. Love is unconditional, and first, start by doing that with yourself first!DSC_0503-1

Enjoy the imperfections and let life surprise you! smile emoticon

Xoxo

#28-2015, The Most Amazing Year Ever

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Spent the entire day sorting out travel pictures and my thoughts, at the same time preparing for my next trip, which is in about 5 hours time.

2015 has been an amazing year. I have no idea where to start. The year started off with a major heartbreak. The agony and pain that I have had to deal with was way more intensive than I had imagined, but on the other hand, this also meant that I had loved. I am glad that I had the opportunity to do that. Being in love meant that I had to leave myself vulnerable, and I think I have not regretted doing that, not one bit, for I have learnt so much more and became a much better person.

Learning to deal with the pain exposed me to another form of love, i.e, self-love. To date, I am still not too sure what it really means, but by my definition it would be the state of being at ease spending time with the most awesome person on earth, me! Learning to find the path to happiness on my own was a different game altogether, and I embarked on this journey filled with doubts and uncertainties. Nonetheless, a life filled with uncertainty is one that is exciting, especially so for someone as inquisitive as I am.

Mid 2015, as I was picking myself up slowly from the heartbreak, I was dealt with another blow. Losing my job. The financial and emotional uncertainties plagued me for a couple of days, until one day, where I woke up and decided to take the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do but never had the balls to, and that is solo travel. So there I was, booking my first one way ticket to another country, without any plans or return date. Ironically, it felt amazingly therapeutic. Not having to adhere to timelines, schedules, compromising to the needs of others, getting lost, being on random ferries to random offshore islands, experiencing all the firsts in my life etc, these adventures actually made me feel really at ease with myself. Traveling on my own made me learn so much more about myself, and gave me time away from the crazy city life in Singapore to rethink so many things.

In those months, I traveled to places I’ve always wanted to go to, and revisited places which I had avoided so as not to expose myself to the memories that I was trying so hard to bury. Gathering the strength to face up to these memories, and creating new ones on my own gave me a new resolute to live my life so that I do not regret at my deathbed, so that one day, I have stories to tell my children and grandchildren, and to inspire them to live their lives for all that it is worth in the future.

Traveling made me appreciate so many things in life that I have been taking for granted, especially the people. 2015 is really the year where I learn to be thankful from the bottom of my heart.

1. My Family – Thankful for an amazing family that has accommodated my sporadic trips, been there for me all the time, made me feel so much warmth in my heart even though I took you guys for granted for so many years prior.

2. My Friends – I do not even know where to start. Some of you joined me for parts of my journey, some of you sat through my grouses, some of you were there for me whenever I was down, some of you hosted me when I traveled to your city, some of you made the effort to meet me wherever I was traveling to, some of you became friends with me during my journeys, etc.  I am really thankful for each and every one of you. Believe me, every one of you made a difference to me.

3. My Colleagues – You guys made life so much more amazing and interesting for me. All the late night drinks, dinner, partying, heart to heart chats, I am so so thankful for you guys!

2015 has been the most amazing year ever. I am actually really thankful for everything that has happened to me this year, and yes, that includes the heartbreak. Life is actually really meaningful, and it largely depends on what you make of it.

Really looking forward to 2016, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for me!

Have no expectations, and let life take you to happiness and awesomeness!

P.S. One of the most amazing experiences this year (in this lifetime), was watching the northern lights in all its glory in Iceland. Hence this photo! 🙂

#27-What happiness really means

Sometimes having absolutely no expectations works in amazing ways. I love the element of surprise, and because I have no expectations, I end up being pleasantly surprised. Letting go of all judgments allows us to see people or events before for what it really is. That is really the most amazing feeling,ever.

Just got back from the festivities from the Union of two really amazing people, who have made huge differences to me; and I have to say, it feels really amazing to see people around you basked in joy. It makes me really happy to see those around me happy.

Happiness is not an end state, it is a state that you choose to be in, there and then. Life is filled with constant ups and downs, and that constant moving between the emotional states actually account for the true meaning behind what life is. Learning to enjoy and appreciate these changes is an art that I’m still trying to grasp. I won’t say I like sadness, but I believe that the downs are there to remind you not to take things for granted, and that life is full of uncertainty.

Being the usually inquisitive me, I start questioning what happiness entails. Is it making that extra money? Or finding that special person? Or is it simply sharing the happiness with those around me? It seems that nobody has a definite answer, but for now, I choose to remain comfortably lost, sharing in the joy of those around me, and genuinely being happy because those around me are happy.

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#26- A Change in Perspective…

Life is a lot about perspective. A change of perspective goes a really long way. This principle can be applied in every aspect of your life, and more often than not, helps you get out of the rut or the dilemmas that you are facing.

If you choose to see events as positive, then it is something positive, because that is your perspective of it, and it is in effect a “unique relationship” between you and the event that nobody can take away from you.

Positivity takes you to better places. Negativity, on the other hand, drags you down into the deep abyss of the unknown, and with negativity, you just get increasingly negative, and not forgetting, you draw negative vibes towards you.

As we approach the end of 2015, I am now taking the time to reflect on how much I have grown in the last year, and what I am thankful for from the past year. Even though I still feel like I am searching for something in life which at this moment, I still haven’t gotten any clarity on what it exactly is. Until then, I guess I will have to just keep doing things that make me happy, and love life in a positive manner. Looking forward to more travels and learning more lessons in 2016.

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*Photo taken over sunset at the amazing glacial lagoon in Iceland.

Xoxo

#20- One year wiser

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Funny how happiness is something so simple. I had it in me, all the time. (My lifelong dream still remains unchanged, to be a park ranger in America. grin emoticon )

I’ve never worked this hard or put in this much effort in my life consistently. Yes, it’s really tiring, but the people and the inquisitive mind keeps me going.

Last week I had a small gathering with my birthday as an excuse, with all those who have at some point in my life, made a difference. It was an amazing sight seeing all of these people in one single setting. super thankful to everyone for turning up despite it being a super last minute one. Initially I was worried that it would be awkward, but I think everyone had a really good time and I felt really good!

I’ve never felt this happy before in my life, despite everything that has happened this year. Super thankful for everything that I have right now.

Very very thankful for everyone who is in my life at this moment. Maybe one day we dont hang out; maybe we lose touch one day, but for now, thank you for making my life so awesome!

Happy birthday to me and I really like the new wisdom I’ve gained, shaping this new version of me! smile emoticon

#17- Defining Yourself

“The more you know, the more you don’t know.”

The above encapsulates everything that I feel right now. After the 3 months of traveling, I thought I had a much better understanding of myself, and would be more than ready to face the world again. However, whilst traveling, I think I have changed so much that I am struggling to understand myself again. Certain things that I used to enjoy have become a burden to me.

Comparing myself to how I was before, I definitely love who I am now so much more, and I feel increasingly at ease with my identity. However, I have a problem trying to understand the way I analysed and behaved before the “enlightenment”. There are certain elements of me which I find ridiculous right now, and on hind sight, I cannot believe that I thought that was normal. Who was that person that I used to be?

To me, the process of finding yourself includes defining your identity, what you believe in, and what you care about. I guess I am still in the process of coming to terms with this new person residing inside of me, and I hope to enrich my life experiences so that I never forget to live everyday with counting my blessings.

Maybe life is never about finding an answer about who you are, because experiences will shape your worldview, which would in turn alter your understanding of yourself again. I am still struggling to come to terms with who that person was before, and one thing I am sure of is, I am never going back to that person. We can only work towards becoming better versions of ourselves, and growing stronger with each challenge that life throws at you. And that, is my goal for the year, not bowing to the challenges that life leaves me with.

Keep moving,for life will not stop surprising you!

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#16- Disconnect to reconnect

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We are all addicted to the internet, social media, and the whole notion of staying connected. For those of you living in cities, take a look around you, you will notice that everyone is using a smartphone, laptop, tablet, etc. The onset of the digital age has fundamentally hindered our ability to live in the moment. When traveling, the one thing we look for upon arrival is whether we can stay connected, and whether the airport has WIFI connection, etc.  This desire to be connected seems to be an addiction. I am guilty of it myself. When I got to Myanmar, my first purchase was on a SIM card. I told myself that I needed Wifi lest I got lost, but come on, who am I kidding? I obviously wanted to get data so I could connect with my friends on whatsapp, facebook, instagram, etc.

In the last 3 months, the only times I purchased data was Myanmar and Hong Kong. Ironically, I think I enjoyed myself so much more when I was disconnected. I could take the time to think about my own life, where I am at, and soak myself in the sights.I definitely enjoyed the interactions with the locals so much more too!

When I got to Myanmar, there were many times where I had to stop myself from looking at my phone, and refocus my attention on everything that was before me. It was the interactions with the locals that got me thinking about how addicted I was to the internet. Most of the locals did not have Smartphones, and they connected with one another via interaction at the marketplace, which was a boatride away for most people. This was the point where I decided to disconnect and refocused myself on my trip. It was at that point that I began seeing so much more, and captured more precious moments on my camera.

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I doubt I will be getting data for my solo travels in the future. With a more stable schedule in place now, I think I need to #disconnect to reconnect when I travel, as these travels will now be the best time for me to be introspective. Moving away from narcissism and addiction to the social media, I hope to be someone with a bigger heart, focused on reconnecting with the people, the environment, and living in the moment.

#16- In love

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I think I’m in love. Not with anyone in particular, but with this world. I think this world has way too much to offer. The nature, the people, the animals, the architecture, the history, the universe, everything comes together concurrently to create this world that we see before us. Ever since I got back, I find myself being able to appreciate the people around me better, being more aware of the things going on around me. I’m used to cruising through life here because it is so familiar that I take it for granted. Maybe it is time to start focusing and exploring home once again, with this sense of newfound awareness.

Thanks to those who shared my last post; I’m glad it meant something to some of you!

Xoxo