On matters of the heart…

A few days ago I was perusing my saved drafts over the last few years, and I came across something that would have been quite a fitting post for Valentine’s Day. Let’s resurrect that post, shall we?

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Many Sunday evenings ago – in fact, too many to count – I had the pleasure of listening to Alain de Botton deliver a talk on love at the Sydney Opera House. I am a fan of Alain de Botton, and have been since I read Status Anxiety a few years ago. (Friends have told me that I  “rave” about him, although in my defence, I maintain that “rave” is a rather subjective take on me discussing his books in a highly animated and enthused way haha) It is hard to not be a fan if you have come across his work, his talks, his writing, and his books – he is intelligent, charismatic, witty, and articulate in presenting his thesis on different topics in life. I must say, however, that love was not the topic of my personal choice, but I didn’t want to pass up on an opportunity to hear him speak.

And I’m so glad I didn’t! Alain was incredibly engaging and the talk was both funny (in an oh-gosh-this-is-so-true-*cringe*-why-didn’t-I-think-of-this-before way) and also quite enlightening. I personally really agree with his views on a lot of things, so perhaps it didn’t come as a surprise that I agreed with his views on love too, and the impact of Romanticism on shaping and moulding our understanding of love today. We place such a strong focus on finding “the One”, as if finding the “right” person (the one and only ONE right person in the world) will unlock the mystery of love, put an end to our fear of lifelong loneliness, and enable us to  live happily ever after. But finding someone is only really the start of love, and Alain argued (quite strongly, and very convincingly) that the real challenge is to make a relationship work over time.

“Compatibility is an achievement of love; it must not be its precondition.”

This quote probably best encapsulates the essence of his talk, his book The Course of Love, and his article in the New York Times “Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person“. Making a relationship work requires, amongst other things, greater self-awareness, and greater tolerance, understanding, compassion, and respect for one another. Compatibility is therefore something that you build over time, with conscious effort and a set of conscious decisions to cherish and respect and love one another.

Personally, the premise of the talk, book, and the article really resonates with me, and I’ve shared the article with quite a few close friends and colleagues. I don’t know how I feel about the click-baity headline (c’mon!), but what I find most interesting is gauging people’s receptiveness to reading the article. It generally ranges from “interested and willing to engage in the content” to “somewhat interested” and “will ignore and never read”. The headline is definitely a bit on the confronting side, I admit. Perhaps rightfully so? #oopsiwentthere

What are your thoughts on this?

Winter in Scandinavia

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Sälen, Sweden

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve been back in Sydney after spending two weeks in Denmark and Sweden. Spending some time away from home can have a significant impact on your mindset – it can really leave you reinvigorated and reenergised, mind, body, and spirit. For me, travelling really makes me think about all the small things in life, things that we often take for granted, and things that we overlook in our day-to-day lives as we rush from one task to another, one event to another, and one place to another. Travelling is the time when I can find it so much easier to take a deep breath, relax, and be fully present in my surroundings, without the incessant voice in my head telling me what’s next on the to-do list.

This is the second time I’ve been to Denmark and Sweden, and both times happened to be over the cold and grey period of January. There’s something I’ve really come to enjoy about the winter period in Scandinavia though… even as an Australian. As the Swedish saying goes… “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing”… although I am not sure about the applicability of this when the weather drops below -10 degrees celsius.

Some things I love about the winter season in that part of the world (in no particular order)…

  • Being able to experience “real” winter weather = ability to wear “real” winter clothes. You get to realise your dreams of wearing a long winter coat, with an oversized scarf and a beanie with a ridiculously sized pom pom. While anyone in Sydney will attest to experiencing a few “REALLY COLD DAYS” in June / July, it’s a bit embarrassing when you realise (in hindsight) that it was really only a few hours in the early morning and in the evening that it was really cold… and by that, I mean somewhere around the 5 degree celsius mark…
  • No one will pass comment if you wear black head-to-toe or suggest you are trying to channel your best goth vibes from the 2000s. Black is the colour of choice in winter… and when you need to wear a gazillion layers, it makes sense to have all the layers in the same colour so you don’t look like you’re trying to channel all colours of the rainbow in one outfit. However, onto my next point…
  • It’s okay if you don’t look très chic (a subtle nod to the late 2000s / early 2010s with that phrase?) because it’s winter! The key priority is to layer up, be warm, and minimise time outdoors if the weather is bad. It’s also okay to wear pretty much repeat outfits because no one will really notice your outfit when you have to wear a long coat and scarf on top… that’s my logic anyway.
  • There are candles everywhere… on every table and in every corner of cafes, restaurants, and bars. I love that candles can really add to the cozy / hygge (another post on this soon) atmosphere and ambiance of cafes, restaurants, and bars, and it’s always so nice to see a lit candle when you’re indoors and seeking solace from the cold weather! However, I did see a lot of unattended candles (even candles in the bathroom!!) and the Australian in me tried to not freak out and think about it being a potential fire hazard…
  • You can also see Christmas lights everywhere, with a Christmas star and a set of Swedish Christmas lights visible from a window of every apartment / house you pass. There’s something so pretty about traditional Christmas lights. I’m much more used to seeing the colourful and flashing lights my neighbours are fond of – lights that often give a Las Vegas rather than a festive vibe. It is sometimes almost blinding to be driving down the street with all these colours flashing in your peripheral vision.
  • Fika breaks (although this isn’t season-specific). I think the concept of ‘fika’ probably deserves a post of its own. I really like the idea of an intentional coffee break, partly because I’m definitely more used to coffee as something I grab on the way to the office in a take-away cup to be able to function and to be reasonably sociable in the morning… haha. Fika (to me anyway) is more about taking a break, slowing down, and being present.
  • Winter = snowfall! Seeing so much snow for the first time was really exciting for me. Having said that, I can definitely see that heavy snowfall can get bothersome when you’re living in the city and not on a short ski trip, as you have to walk around in half-melted snow, or melted-snow-now-refrozen-as-ice for a few days. Definitely a public health and safety issue. However, for someone who has lived in Sydney their entire life, I think there is something so magical about snow.

So those are some of my favourite things about winter in Scandinavia! What are your favourite things about the winter season?

(Have) courage, dear heart

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As some of you may know, I have a penchant for pretty typography and watercolours… but today I do want to talk about courage and what it means to me.

‘Just say yes’ has always been a kind of personal mantra for me. To some extent, it speaks to the shy and timid me of the past who, for some reason or another, sometimes lacked the confidence and courage to really go out and do things, and achieve the goals I wanted to achieve. My experience has been that something so seemingly simple – like reminding yourself to ‘just say yes’ – can be really powerful in helping you get out of your comfort zone. And this can be for anything – meeting new friends, living in a different country, going to a party where you barely know a soul, applying for a job that seems a little out of reach… it’s all about saying ‘yes!’ to new experiences, new ideas, and new people.

I still try to remind myself to ‘just say yes’ every now and again… and to be more open-minded, and be a little more adventurous. However, one thing that I have never really thought about in relation to this little mantra until quite recently is that it’s not only important to ‘just say yes’ to new opportunities that come your way… but it is also equally, if not more important to make opportunities happen – they don’t just appear out of nowhere! Perhaps being a little older (and perhaps a teeny weeny bit wiser?) has really led me to believe that opportunities are rarely presented to us, but rather, are out there for us to pursue – and it is up to us to really change our mindset, let go of whatever it is in our present that we are unhappy, unsatisfied, or uncertain about, and actively seek new opportunities. Seek, and you shall find – right?

So to me, it’s one thing to be receptive to new opportunities, and to say yes to new opportunities when they materialise… but it’s actually another to start to take active steps and create your own opportunities. And creating new opportunities for yourself and actively pursuing something different is both a thrilling and scary experience – it is exhilarating when you are doing something new and something unknown… and all you feel is the utmost sense of freedom and adrenalin (and, depending on what it is – joy, passion, and love too), but it is also something that takes a lot of courage. Courage to cope with foreseen and unforeseen risks, courage to be able to “let go”, and courage to simply have faith that things will work out.

And I am, generally, an optimistic person – I truly do believe that things will work out in life. But the important caveat to this is that while I believe that all things will work out eventually, things may not “work out” in the way they were originally envisioned. Some things are meant to be… and other things are simply not meant to be. And it is hard to grapple with this mentality – this sense of “not knowing”. All we can do is acknowledge our fears, understand where they originate from, and do our very best to address them head-on.

What do you think? What does courage mean to you and what does it entail? 

Now

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This blog has been sorely neglected for 10 months. 10 months! I published one post in 2015, and one post in 2014… and it’s been even longer since my last ‘long’ post.  It’s been a sad state of affairs here.

That’s not to say that I haven’t wanted or tried to write though. I have tried many times… but there was always some kind of excuse – I was too busy working, too busy meeting up with friends, too busy travelling, and the list goes on… just too busy to sit down for a few hours to write. And when I did have time, I often felt that I wasn’t in the right mindset… That’s the thing about creative endeavours, no matter how big or small right? It’s far too easy to let them slip from your list of priorities when you have limited time and limited energy to devote to different things.

But I want to make my blog one of priorities again. Obviously it would be too ambitious to set a target number of posts on a weekly or month basis – because hey, quality over quantity, right? – but I do want to write more and invest more time in this little space of mine on the internet. Over the last 18 months, I feel that I have learnt so much about the world, about people, and most of all, about myself… and the various topics I have discussed with others, contemplated in solitude, as well as the philosophical musings that have emerged along this journey called life (HEHE) are things I want to think more about, write more about, and share with you all.

So… until my next post!

2014: A Year in Review

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SourceDesign Love Fest

Despite the fact that we’re over a quarter of the way through 2015, I still feel that this post is important and relevant. It’s important not only because it represents my ‘return’ to blogging after a long nine months, but also, because I feel that 2014 was a pretty significant year.

I really like doing these ‘Year in Review’ posts. It’s obviously impossible to summarise an entire year’s worth of experiences in one post, but in musing over everything that happened, from highs to lows, you really do walk away with a sense of perspective that otherwise, can be difficult to gain. (Of course, Hollywood would tell you that spending some time with a guru at a spiritual retreat in Asia would give you the same ‘(re)finding yourself’ experience – but I digress.)

At the close of 2013, when I was reflecting over everything that had happened over the past year, there was one quote that really struck out to me.

“There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” – Zora Neale Hurston

2013 was a year that asked questions. There were a number of question marks in my life – there was uncertainty, apprehensiveness, self-doubt, and perhaps a little fear too.

But what about 2014? Many of the questions of 2013 were answered in 2014, some in ways I had never imagined. At the same time though, I came to understand the value of being asked these kind of questions. Your life isn’t and shouldn’t be dictated by the expectations others have towards themselves, or the expectations others have for you. You don’t have to have everything ‘figured out’ before you finish university and step into the ‘real’ world. You don’t need to give an interesting, convincing yet realistic answer to the much dreaded ‘where do you see yourself in five years time’ question.

For me, 2014 was such an exciting and fulfilling year. It was a year where I really challenged myself both mentally and physically, stepped outside of my comfort zone, and wholeheartedly embraced new ideas, experiences and opportunities. I can’t emphasise how important it is to simply say ‘YES!’ sometimes. Say yes to opportunities that will broaden your mind. Say yes to applying for jobs that you (for some reason or another) feel that you’re not good enough for. Say yes to meeting new people. Say yes to coffee/dinner/drinks with people who are different – people who are outside your immediate social circle. Say yes to listening to different perspectives on life and ideas about the world. Say yes to travelling. And say yes even when a little voice in your head is saying ‘maybe’… or asking ‘what if’.

Here’s to the rest of 2015!

Life is like riding a bicycle

Life is like riding a bicycle

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Ironically, I don’t know how to ride a bicycle. But you get the gist, right? (Don’t worry, it’s on my bucket list – I hope I have the opportunity to tick it off in the very near future!) 

I can’t believe that we’re already about to wrap up week 3 of uni – which is, if you think about it, almost a quarter of the way through the semester. I can hear the resounding WHAT?! in the room. Yes. Time sure flies by very quickly. #statingtheobvious

This week has been a very busy week for me, and I think it’s only going to get busier from next week onwards. I’ve been spending a lot of my time and energy refining resumes, writing cover letters, researching, and answering application questions for a number of graduate programs. Deadlines are approaching and (as usual), I’ve fallen prey to the wicked temptation of Procrastination. But it’s time to face reality, and right now, the reality is that I have to keep moving forward. Luckily, now that I’ve gotten the ball rolling, it’s definitely starting to feel easier and less stressful. That first step is never easy!

This one is going to be a short one – but I wish all my fellow final year students the best of luck! 🙂

Mid-week inspiration

You get in life what you have the courage to ask for

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I love this quote. And not just because of the pretty typography and watercolour details – though admittedly, that definitely played a role in piquing my attention during one of my Pinterest browsing sessions.

There are so, so many quotes out there. Quotes from writers, poets, celebrities, philanthropists, business people, world leaders… to your average Tumblr teenager. But there are only a handful that seem to speak to you directly. And for me, this is one of them. These are the right words, at the right time…

What are some of your favourite quotes?