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Fun + Games + Giggles + Laughter = Young Mind and Heart

“No, we’re not going out of the house with you dressed like that! It’s too revealing! Wear something more appropriate!”

“What is wrong with th… ?”

“No!”

“What if I put…”

“No!!”

The only time I attempt to dress “youngish” and not my age, my Gen Y daughter stops me in my tracks.

On her Facebook wall on my last birthday, she dobbed me in to her friends:

“busted my mum trying on my clothes when she’s 2 sizes bigger. Walked past her room to find her struggling to get my top past her elbows, bwahaha.”

How is that funny, Michelle??

* * *

Trying too hard to look young or sexy, made obvious by inappropriate dressing, surely backfires. On a page on Oprah’s website, it says, “The number one mistake women make is shopping by size, not by fit”. Author of Before You Put That On, Lloyd Boston, advises, “Get the clothes that fit, not the number you want to be and your clothes will look so much sexier.”

The word “sexi-er” convinced me. Lloyd, I’ll remember that next time I’m tempted to buy a size 8 top!
[Note though that it says “your clothes” will look sexier, not necessarily you! Lol]

I’m at that stage where I’m starting to see the ravages of time. Having just added another year to my ever increasing age, I think I’ll have to start asking people not to scrutinise my face. People my age have long been conscious of sagging facial skin and drooping eyelids, plus the increasing “threat of invasion” of white hair on our head.

It was about a decade ago when I start to stammer when replying to people’s questions about my age. In spite of believing age is just a number and my recent pronouncements of not shying away from admitting it, I still get tongue-tied when asked. I’m failing one of my new year’s resolutions already (of being authentic) and we’re only in January!

So I worked out a sure-fire plan to help keep our attitude and mindset as young as when we were, say, in our 20s or even 30s, to continue—with the emphasis on “continue”—to keep ourselves perpetually young in mind and young at heart, even if not in face and body.

These may not work for everyone but I’m sticking to these from now on to ensure we have as much fun while we can and we’re able and to minimise stress:

Watch your language

• Stop calling yourself “old” and stop using that word to describe people who were young once.

• If you ever need to ask someone their age, choose to say “how young are you?” You know it’s a good trick to make someone, including yourself, smile.

Be a student for life

• I joke that I’m a mature student of love (okay, I’m half serious). Whether it’s learning about love (as it’s such a broad topic), acquiring a new skill, reading, learning a new hobby or studying for a course, keep your curiosity about new things alive.

Keep your sense of fun

They say high school is one of the most fun times of one’s life and it was for me. Maintain your sense of fun and love for games just like when you were younger.

• If you’re physically able, go ahead and dance, play sports or board games or, if you dare, even naughty games! Fun!!

• Giggle a lot; laugh heartily, loudly and often (though not too much or you risk your co-workers’ ire, if you work in an office). Crack jokes but, of course, make sure not at the expense of others.

• See life only as “role playing” — at home, at work and on Earth. This should keep our ego in check and make us not think of life and oneself seriously. I’m serious!

I know this is easier said than done, especially if you’re in a middle of a serious illness or problem, or a tragedy, but then again a lot of people take a lot of things seriously even at times they shouldn’t. [See “Solutions focused” below.]

Indulge in music

There was a period of about 10 years that I stopped listening to music. Big mistake!! Music soothes our soul — those in the know say!

• One suggestion—regardless of your age—while listening to music, bop your head, let your body move to the rhythm and feel the music. Heaven!

Spring to life

• Exercise can’t be over-emphasised. One of my goals this year is to be more physically active. Kickboxing, bring it on!!

• Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy and wise. My parents used to drum this saying into us when my siblings and I were growing up. I struggle with this still as I come alive at night.

Glorious food

• If you haven’t started, develop an “eat-and-drink healthy-consciousness”. This means no meat, no sweets (ok, not too much and not too often is another one of my goals), saturated and trans-fat a big no-no, use salt sparingly and avoid sodas (unless you’re having it with vodka, lol).

Self-love

• Affirm: I’m one of a kind… and so are you!

• Go to health retreats and give frequent special treats to self.

• Acceptance of your shortcomings, weaknesses and imperfections.

• Learn to accept and love your body, however difficult it may be to do so. Read here on how to have a healthy body image. It’s not too late!!

Solutions focused

For most of us who believe there is spirit life after physical death, we take our life on Earth so seriously. We forget it’s only temporary so therefore our respective and collective situations here are also temporary.

If tragedy strikes, of course we allow ourselves time to grieve, cry and feel pain for a while. Then we start to recover, feel better and eventually start to get over our sad situation. It’s when we drag our feelings of misery, resentment and/or self-pity for too long that can really have a detrimental effect on our health.

• Reduce, if not eliminate, negativities that we sometimes allow ourselves to indulge in. [See “Keep your sense of fun” above.]

• See problems as opportunities to learn and grow, as they say. As John Lennon puts it in Watching the Wheels, “There’s no problem; only solutions.”

• Don’t let any bastards get you down (well, at least not for long).

It’s not at all surprising that the things you can do to delay (for as long as possible, at least) one’s physical decline are also, it appears, the same things that you can do to keep your heart and mind forever young.

Image pinched from an email. If I reach her age, I promise to act like this but not to dress like this. 😀

Does young mind + young heart = immaturity??

I don’t think so. You know why?

Fun + games + giggles + tears of laughter + enjoyment = young mind and young heart.

I admit Maths isn’t my strong point, but I’m positive the above formula adds up.

* * *

Last weekend at a friend’s party, instead of spending my time conversing with adults, I spent the whole time playing Wii with a 10-year old!

While the adults in the party were probably thinking what you’re thinking, my young friend, Yashar, is now convinced his khale (auntie) is cool!

Post updated on 22 January 2011.

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Grabbing the Reins

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As 2010 draws to a close, I’m prodding myself to grab the reins of my life.

I’ve let myself stay on auto pilot for years and kept doing certain things that aren’t working on continual loop. It’s what others call ‘insanity’ — doing the same things over and over knowing you get the same, predictable, undesired results.

Year in year out, this is what I do: daydream, plan, procrastinate, get distracted, lose focus. Repeat.

I have stuff on my ‘Wish List’ that only remained ‘wishes’. With 2011 almost upon us, I resolve to change this once and for all and turn my long-held dreams into tangible reality.

Mind you, most of them are not really big dreams. They’re mainly simple things like wanting to practice Tai Chi or Qigong, learning to play the African drums, be more health-conscious, perhaps booty shake it like Shakira (lol) etc.

In my inaction, I’ve undermined my own self. With my long-overdue show of self-love, however, that is about to change. First, I take responsibility for my inaction and its inevitable non-result; I acknowledge it and now it’s time to get off my derrière and just do it.

I’ve examined my life and I know there are aspects of it that seriously need fixing. I have dreams that I know I have the power to bring into fruition.

From now, this is what I’ll consciously do: desire, intend, commit, focus, persist and—when it materialises—celebrate! Repeat.

Marianne Williamson, author of ‘A Course in Miracles’, wisely tweets ‘owning your desire will start the cosmic engine‘. Even before I read her tweet, I know 2011 will be a very interesting year for me in terms of goals because of my strong intent to make things happen this time.

Taking stock of my life journey this past year, a few things were noteworthy:

1. unintentionally becoming a wannabe jet-setter. This, of course, created a big hole in my pocket, but I’m grateful for the experiences and to the various people who helped make those trips worthwhile, fun and memorable.

2. actualising my desire to write, express, share, unzip, unload and reveal where I stood on certain issues by starting a blog. Writing is one thing that I’ve actually managed to do something about but to date it’s only a hobby.

3. being in a pleasant office environment where any potential dramas and conflicts are ‘repelled’ by the good-naturedness and strong work ethics of the young people who work there. I’m lapping it up at the moment while it lasts.

The last few months of 2010 found me:

4. unintentionally becoming a vegetarian. Losing my desire to eat animal flesh was an unexpected but welcomed change. This has become a precursor to my New Year plan to improve my physical fitness.

5. falling in love… with farm animals and joining Meat-eater Anonymous!! Recently, I mentioned sensing ‘love is in the air’. I caught the love bug but I wasn’t expecting this type of love!

6. advocating for love and compassion for animals

7. de-cluttering my space at work and home (ongoing)

8. re-starting a savings plan

9. appreciating people and situations more, and more and more loving life!

However, it’s my dormant and unactualised ‘wants’ that I’m focusing on next year. I’ve started to list my desires/goals/wishes for the new year. Without solid plans and just empty dreams, many will remain in limbo, like I was in the last many years.

Right now I’m ‘stirring’… and have started to do and put things in place in preparation to actualising my intentions for 2011. And I’m getting excited!

‘Lovelier’ the Second Time Around

I’m funny like this. I shook my head vigorously when I asked myself silently, ‘Am I now a vegetable lover?’

I’m not a fan of vegetables!

I was a meat craver who is now learning to adjust to a non-meat diet. Add to this ‘comedic situation’, being a closet prima donna, if no one peels, de-seeds and slices fruits for me, I don’t remember to eat them.

How am I going to feed myself?

Once, several years ago, I attempted to become a vegetarian for health reasons, not for any moral, compassionate, empathetic reasons. But my first attempt didn’t last long.

Late 2010 and my once-held desire to be a vegetarian is re-awakened. This time I resolve seriously to eliminate all meat and some animal by-products, and possibly seafood, in my diet.

To help family and friends decide what food to prepare for me when I go over to their homes and visit, remember this:

I dislike zucchini, eggplants, okra, soggy capsicums, string beans and olives.

I eat but I’m not a big fan of corn, green peas and cucumbers.

I cringe at fresh or cooked tomatoes and has no intention to eat them for the rest of my life! Never mix them in your food or salads if you plan to share them with me.

So how do I intend to stay a vegetarian, if not a vegan, being very fussy with food?

Well, I like yellow squash, pumpkin, carrots, mushrooms, spinach, celery, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and potatoes. I love avocados. I don’t mind the different kinds of lettuces.

It’s not difficult to prepare food for vegetarians. Just cook some of your favourite food the usual way and just don’t add any meat or seafood! Voilà, you have a vegetarian meal!

My eyes light up when I see desserts. I hope to develop that feeling when I see vegetables.

I love some fruits. I love all kinds of nuts. I love pulses and legumes. I love brown rice. I just have to learn to love vegetables.

Surprisingly, I haven’t been craving for meat (granted, it’s just been a couple of weeks, lol). I can’t stand the thought now of what animals go through to serve one of my physiological needs. I no longer see animals as food. Would you care to join me in this lifesaving, cruelty-minimising crusade?

I’m no longer sure I can still handle raw meat and cook and serve them at home for family and guests.

When I think of a hamburger or any of my ex-favourite meat food, my face contorts. So it’s a good sign and I’m optimistic announcing this intention of giving up meat for good on my blog is not something I’d regret later on.

I’ve been reading on the many pros and cons on being a vegan or vegetarian and lots of advice on what supplements to take so as not to be deficient in certain vitamins and minerals.

My reasons for this life-changing decision is as I described in my Empathy post, not necessarily for health reasons. So far, I feel good. In months to come, I’m positive I’ll even feel better.

By the way, I went to see an eye specialist. When I offered the information that I’ve become ‘a vegetarian’—which felt funny when I said it—he gave me more than a pat on the back. He replied, ‘your body will LOVE you for it!‘. Hearing the word ‘love’, I took it somehow as an indication the universe approves!

I love giving up meat! It’s surprisingly easier for me this time around.

* * *

A friend let me know of these vegetarian restaurants. If you’re in Sydney, check them out too:

Green Gourmet
Bodhi Restaurant
Mother Chu’s Vegetarian Kitchen

Read if you will:

Animal Rights: The Abolitionist
ihealth Directory
Vegetarian Starter Guide
The Definitive Vegetarian Starter Guide
Vegetarian Diet: How to get the best nutrition

Lover and Loves

As part of my process of sharing my thoughts and of tackling love themes, here’s a just-for-fun, amateur poem about my loves and interests.

I am a LOVER of…

Words
I string them together as musings for my blog
Place them side by side
To play scrabble or Upwords

Non-fiction books
Magazines, blogs and e-news
Voraciously devouring
Every written thing I could

Fun
Like playful banters
Tongue-in-cheek jokes
Giggles and laughter

Food
I’ve got a sweet tooth
How else did you think
I ballooned?

A good drink
Guess what I’ll evoke
In the right atmosphere
It’s vodka and coke

Roulette
Winning big a few times
I won’t admit though
To losing a few dimes!

Music
Metal and rock classic
Singing my heart out
To my neighbours’ detriment

Philosophy
Often preoccupied with things of the mind
As deep meaning in life I seek
But the answers go over my head!

Life
Now seeing the world afresh
My new canvass is spread out
For me to colourfully illustrate.

P.S. I have other loves, of course!
I’ll share one of them with you in my next post, a more serious topic.

Unzipped

Once more with feeling…

istockphoto.com

[This was originally a guest post but have since got the rights back to publish in my blog. I thank Joe for allowing this.]

For those of us who desire to be more comfortable in our own skin but don’t have the courage to do so, writing is the next best thing.

Well-known author and poet, Paulo Coelho, tweets writing is a socially acceptable form of getting naked in public.

When I started my personal blog, a few people told me I was being brave. I didn’t realize it then, but they were really telling me I was needlessly exposing myself to the entire world.

For a nude prude like me, showing too much flesh doesn’t come naturally. So why the sudden disregard for modesty?

To answer that question, let’s compare how I see getting undressed to writing for blogs:

1. There is supposedly an art to undressing; while writing is definitely an art.

2. Unbuttoning your clothing is like uncovering your innermost thoughts so you can prepare to write.

3. Removing your top is like getting rid of unnecessary mental baggage and putting it on paper.

4. Unzipping your trousers or your skirt is like opening up yourself and your life, and risking being scrutinized.

5. Slowly removing your undergarments is like slowly stripping away self-consciousness and the fear of embarrassing yourself, as you risk being criticized.

6. As you dance to the music and strut while peeling off each layer of clothing, in writing you silently peel away your personas and reveal facets of your more authentic self that you don’t dare show many people, sometimes even those close to you.

7. Being naked makes you feel vulnerable; but so does writing and disclosing your secret life.

So what good does exposing figuratively and/or literally in public do for writers? Writing is liberating and therapeutic. In the right place, so is undressing and being naked.

I quite enjoy writing and wish I did it sooner. I’ve been laughing a lot, sometimes almost to tears, reminiscing funny incidents that have happened in my life. I’ve also cried my eyes out, though not too many times, remembering sad and painful moments that are best forgotten.

I highly recommend it, writing I mean. I can’t say the same for getting naked, but you’ll surely laugh yourself silly looking in the mirror and seeing how funny you appear. Either that or you’ll cry your heart out dwelling over real or imagined imperfections.

My life, little parts of it at least, is now an open book, or should I say an open blog. So in my husky voice I dare say, “Look at me in all my naked glory – moles, scars, warts and all!,” while I stumble as I strut in my red stiletto shoes and pretend to be comfortable writing my life away.

P.S. I don’t really have warts. 😛

Interesting reads:

Writing (by Paulo Coelho)
Art of Writing
Writing Naked

Conscious Acts of Love

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A friend kindly shared this with me about her better half:

Every morning, when I come downstairs after getting ready for work, Gary has fed our bird, got our dog’s food ready, put bread in the toaster for me, or whatever I’m having at the time, and is eating his own breakfast.

On occasion, he will say I love you, and it’s always wonderful to hear it, but all these things he does, he does to say I love you!

* * *

Words of love are sometimes expressed far too casually. Acts of love is my preferred ‘default’ mode.

People somehow feel insecure when you don’t affirm your love through words and take for granted other deeper, meaningful ways you demonstrate it to them.

To people who know me but have never heard me tell them I love them, let me count the many other ways you can be reassured:

1. See it in my kindness and random displays of thoughtfulness.

2. Hear it in my giggles and laughter in my constant attempt and desire to amuse you or those times when I’m amused by you.

3. Smell it in my willingness to help, even in small or insignificant ways.

4. Taste it in my quiet and sometimes inaudible words of appreciation for every little or big thing you do.

5. Be touched by my support and encouragement (more often than not) for what your heart desires to do.

6. Accept it in my periods of generosity and little hint of selfishness.

7. ‘Get it’ in my deep reservoir of patience and appreciate not many are as patient.

8. Listen to the gentle way I speak, which others mistake for meekness.

9. Observe it in my being polite regardless of your status in life, and rare* outbursts of anger or rudeness.

10. Know it each time I give in and indulge you, even if it seems I do it more often than you.

11. Notice it in my tolerance of many things, even in those times I shouldn’t tolerate them.

12. Understand it in the absence of nagging, especially in those times you’d more appreciate silence.

13. Sense it in my being considerate and understanding, even if sometimes you don’t know why I do what I do.

14. Detect it in my instinct to tell the truth and be as honest as I possibly can.

15. Appreciate it in my sense of fair play and devoid of any thoughts to deceive or use you.

16. Feel the love in how I treat your loved ones and friends.

I could go on and on…

My point is love can be expressed in more ways than one. Words of love don’t guarantee true love. I ‘ooze’ love through these every day and sometimes deliberate actions. Acts of love, if done consistently and consciously, are more real and convincing.

I wish more people were like Gary in the quote above. No matter how often you say it, marry loving words with consistent loving actions.

These are my perspectives on love. What are yours?

* I’m lucky that only few people rub me the wrong way.

I Love You

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There!

It’s easy to write it but many find it difficult to say – not the least me.

I love you.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

Easy!

Copy and paste.

I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.

So easy.

I may be one of the remaining few who considers LOVE a sacred word.

‘I Love You’, even more sacred.

Love is not to be uttered willy-nilly.

I’m a generous person but when it comes to spoken expressions of love, I’m stingy.

The words don’t come freely out of my mouth, unless I mean it, truly feel it… at that moment.

I don’t write it, only to cross it out.

I don’t give it, only to take it back and forever.

I don’t say it, only to retract or to pussyfoot around it.

I don’t claim to have it and then I disappear or turn my attention to someone else.

I may turn mute when it comes to expressing love but one clear thing I do though is to show love in action.

My next post will show you how I ‘ooze’ love—everyday—if only you learn to read the signs, most of them non-verbal.

Love spoken but not often showed is not a lot better than unspoken love but showed often. Me thinks.

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Love is a Paradox

I must have gotten up from the wrong side of the bed, or perhaps it was the right side – you decide. I had a sudden thought to blog about a paradox.

This is an easy yet difficult subject, which only a few have mastered.

A subject that is simple, yet so complex.

I, myself, at this ripe old age of, well, old, is an inexperienced student and still learning.

I’m talking about LOVE.

istockphoto.com

There is the romantic, the familial, the neighbourly love…

There is the love for God, for friends, for pets…

Then there is universal love which is all-embracing and signifying unconditional love for all…

And there is self love.

There is no single, universally-accepted definition of love. Love is described in many various ways by very many people.

Is it just me or am I missing something? Is love an enigma?

Those who profess to know the full meaning of the word LOVE, speak.

Love is a word that begs to be defined succinctly.

Love is one powerful, emotion-evoking, all-encompassing word.

Love is most longed for, most dreamed about and most-sought after.

But we all know love is also misunderstood, misused and abused.

So do you really know what love is and what love is not?

Help me answer my questions.

Help me understand love and all its complexities.

Recognise love where I think I see falsity;

See love when it seems none exists;

Find love where it may hide.

[This is the first of many posts about this love-ing feeling.]

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[British/Australian spelling used.]

Wherefore Art Thou, Florentino?

This blog is to close the chapter of my ‘F’ story. One person, at least, is curious to know what happened to Florentino.

I wasn’t part of the elite group that Florentino and the girls who surrounded him belonged to. They were the smart ones but, Florentino, as I mentioned, was the top student of the class.

My class standing in first grade was average (story of my school life, really). Mrs Lavastida, somehow, managed to lure me occasionally out of my shell.

One day, Mrs Lavastida decided to pit one student against another, to see who could read well in English and fast. Being secretly competitive, I wanted to impress everyone, most especially Florentino.

I raised my hand. I knew I could beat those slow ones! Mrs Lavastida kept ignoring me, however, and called everyone else except me. And the later the lines of text to read, the harder they got, at least for a first grader.

It seemed my hand was raised forever when, finally, my teacher noticed me. She called my name and I eagerly stood up. As I was checking out the next sentence to read to give myself a head start, guess who she decided to pit against me??

She could have called one of those who, after a few lessons, still couldn’t read. But, noooo, she had to pick Florentino!!

Florentino already had his turn and it dismayed me that she called him again. Discouraged even before we started reading, I knew it was a lost cause. I was only halfway and struggling through my line, and Florentino had stood up, read his sentence lightning quick, sat back on his chair and bowed his head, perhaps to try and look magnanimous.

Any fantasy I had of impressing him and getting his attention away from the bevies of cute little girls who liked him, went down the drain.

Later on, it occurred to me that I had no chance to compete with the smart kids in that class. Most of them went through nursery and kindergarten, which meant they started school a year or so before me. They were well ahead of me.

Out of my girl classmates, only two stood out for me and I still clearly remember them: Anna and Irene.

Anna was the smartest girl in the class. She wasn’t what you’d call beautiful, but she was pretty and well-groomed. She belonged to the long list of girls who liked Florentino.

Irene, on the other hand, was my neighbour. She was pretty too. Dark with short hair, she lived in the same complex where I temporarily stayed. She belonged to the second list of girls who were indifferent to Florentino. But, if you read my previous blog post about Florentino, I was on both lists, right?

As a six year old, this is how I saw and assessed the situation:

Try as Anna might, Florentino only had eyes for Irene. But, Irene, as much as I liked her was, I suspected, a tomboy. Not that there is anything wrong with that! It’s just that poor Florentino had no idea. I noticed Irene was the only one he was very friendly with and kidded around with her a lot.

I don’t know if Irene turned out to be a real tomboy or if she outgrew her tomboy phase. I don’t know what became of her and Florentino. Sometimes, I wonder what became of my first grade classmates.

As fate would have it, my parents found a new place for us to stay, farther from my very first school but closer to another school, a public school. It was also farther and away from Florentino… forever.

Next post: A Paradox

Wish You Were There

Thinking about my recent trip to the Philippines, I can say I had a lovely, fun and relaxing time.

The highlight for me was spending time in an island, goofing around with my family in my ‘2-piece’, while trying to cover myself with a towel. 😀

Family

Having most of my family in the Philippines and the US, time spent with them is always cherished. I spend as much time bonding and just having a laugh with them each time I travel to see them. We’re a big clan, both sides of my family; we laugh loud and often.

This is also the time I try to show off my ‘comedic’ skills, assured with the knowledge that no matter how unfunny my attempts at making jokes are, my family won’t and can’t disown me. 🙂

We had a family reunion of some sort. As always, there were lots of food and, of course, laughter. It’s hard to stop and make real conversations though because of the limited time you have while on a brief holiday/visiting relatives and the many people to say hello to, and hug and kiss. Not to mention that a lot of time is spent taking photos to capture each moment and making sure there are new pics to choose from for our Facebook profile photos!

The plan from now on is to spend as much time with my family, as often as I’m able, especially with my parents. My parents are both in their early 80s. I’ve always appreciated the fact that I, together with my brothers and sisters, have both parents while growing up and are with us for a long time.

Let us not take our parents for granted. Count the many who have lost either or both parents early in life. I am one of the lucky ones and I truly appreciate it.

I intended to share some photos of the trip here earlier but I was preoccupied, so only took the time to do this now. You can view them here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/earthianne/

There are no close-up photos of me so as not to scare you away!

Losing My Religion (5 of 5)

Image from istockphoto.com

This question had been in my mind for a long time:

Is there a one true religion?

For many years, I tried to find an answer to that simple question. Approximately twenty years later, I come to a disappointing but inevitable conclusion that it’s not that simple after all. There is no human being alive in the olden days or at the present time, nor any one holy book in existence, who holds and can provide all the answers to everyone’s satisfaction.

Because of this, I no longer have that longing to know. There is no more ‘gaping hole to fill’ or an ‘unending thirst to quench’ for me. After many years of futile searching, I rest… and lose my religion anyway.

I can disregard, cover my ears and turn a blind eye on my other previously-mentioned reasons. However, what made me to finally see the light, so to speak, is:

4. my growing interest in the theory of reincarnation.

Let me tell you upfront: I don’t claim to be Cleopatra, Machiavelli, Queen Nefertiti… or any high or low profile personalities, male or female.

Simplistic my reasons may be for believing in reincarnation, but I certainly don’t believe that just because no one at the present time can present empirical evidence/conclusive proofs of its reality, that it’s definitely not possible or not real.

I first read about reincarnation when it was featured in a magazine called ‘Panorama’ that came with the newspaper that my father used to subscribe to years ago. I remember reading that one could live as a human being in one life and then become a cockroach in the next life. It sounded horrible and at the same time laughable. I remember shaking my head and dismissing the idea of reincarnation outright.

I didn’t know it at the time but different religious groups’ beliefs on reincarnation differ and many don’t believe the above.

It was during my armchair soul searching many years later when I revisited this concept of reincarnation and made an effort to look at it again more objectively.

Why does reincarnation appeal to me after dismissing it initially? Reincarnation, if real, makes absolute sense to me now. If you dare look at it with an open mind and give it some genuine thought, it can shed light to a lot of things.

Edgar Cayce, whose story I read about voraciously (among other numerous books I read that touched on the topic of reincarnation), obviously had a major influence on me. But as this particular post is really just to ‘confess’ my final reason and conclude my ‘Losing My Religion’ story, I will explain more later why I chose to believe in reincarnation (including a continuing belief in a supreme being).

A website, World Christian Encyclopedia lists 19 major world religions, which are ‘subdivided into a total of 270 large religious groups. Wikipedia also has a list of numerous religions.

Ask every one of these groups which is the one true religion. Each religion, major and minor, old and new, including their respective denominations, will raise their hand and claim LOUDLY and assuredly theirs to be the one true one.

I ponder this question one last time: Is there a one true religion?

Don’t bother to raise your hand as it’s clear to me now: There is no such thing.

As I disclose my reasons for losing my religion, I remember and repeat an old saying that I heard my father say a few times:

All roads lead to the same place

and, may I add, these include unchartered, unnamed and unmarked roads that are less travelled. One of these roads I may be traversing solely, bravely. Would you dare join me?

Next topic: Holiday!

Losing My Religion (4 of 5)

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The saga continues…

For this instalment, let’s cut to the chase and let’s make it brief.

I’m sure many expects this to appear in my list and it does. It’s my reason number:

3. the sexual abuse perpetrated and perpetuated by priests eventually got to me.

I won’t repeat what we’ve already heard so many times in the media (since the 1980s), but I’ll briefly explain why this had a bearing in my disenchantment with religion.

In the beginning, although I felt horrified when this news first broke out, I was espousing forgiveness. I also realised priests, after all, can be fallible human beings, susceptible to temptations.

When allegations after allegations of sexual misconduct reverberated around the world, some of them reportedly proven true, I became increasingly dissatisfied with the way these abuses were dealt with.

I’ve recently read a report where the church is trying to blame the priests’ sexual misconduct on homosexuality. A psychologist who specialises in treating sexually-abused children says homosexuality is not the same as pedophilia. The difference is that a person who is sexually attracted to children (regardless of sex) is a pedophile. And pedophilia, according to Wikipedia, is a psychiatric disorder. Pedophilia is also a crime against children.

Let’s remember that not all of these allegations are substantiated and credible. However, granted that, at one time, it’s “only” supposedly about 4% of the entire priesthood (active at the time) who have allegedly committed this crime, it’s 4% too many. I say there should be zero tolerance on pedophilia, especially those committed by people who should know better—those who made teaching people not to “sin” their vocation.

You could say the number of perpetrators are insignificant compared to the total number of priesthood. Well, tell that to the victims and their families. To subject their victims to pain, trauma, shame, depression, maybe even suicidal thoughts, and God knows what other harrowing emotions victims of this type of abuse go through, is the most unkind act of those we least expect to commit this.

Equally sharing the blame are the top brass in the church’s hierarchy who exercise their power in some countries to prevent the poor access to birth control but are impotent in preventing, if not stopping, and tackling this long-term issue head on.

Why would I let a “minority” of offenders turn me off religion? The churches’ leaders’ failure to decisively address and put a stop or at least prevent these abuses leave much to be desired and added to my growing belief that there is no such thing as “one true religion”.

I’ve removed hatred, vindictiveness, revengefulness and other extremely negative traits from my heart (not an easy thing to do for a Scorpio). So I’m not going to condemn those perpetrators to hell or demand that they be jailed for life or wish capital punishment on them.

It doesn’t mean though that I should continue listening to them.

Note: Search online and you’ll see it’s obviously not only priests from the Catholic Church who commit sexual abuse of children but also, it’s alleged, from other Christian denominations, as well as from other religions.

Final instalment: The “mother” of all reasons.

Next topic: [I’m back in my childhood…]

My Brush With a Cult

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I let someone talk me into attending a play. What the play is about was vaguely explained to me but, being an easygoing person, I didn’t ask too many questions and agreed.

I had some spare cash and lots of free time so off from work I went. For a “measly” A$25 and “only” 4.5 hours of my time, including travel time, I had a reasonable expectation that I was going to enjoy myself.

The play already started when I got there. I found a seat and then quickly scanned my surroundings. It was a small hall, filled with less than 100 people.

The play turned out to be the most boring thing since [fill in the blank with whatever is the most excruciatingly boring thing for you]. The performers were reading from a script, were overacting and still managed to be unconvincing.

I won’t bore you with details about the play or the group, not only because it bored me to tears but I was overcome with disbelief that I tried to forget this ever happened. I just remembered the incident out of the blue.

To make this short story shorter, it turned out that I was watching a play by a CULT, trying their hardest to convince their audience and themselves that they are not in any way, shape or form, a CULT!

Apparently, a few individuals and groups have accused them of being so. Don’t ask me how I knew those accusers were right. You don’t spend a whole hour—perhaps the whole play—justifying why your group is not a cult.

It’s embarrassing to admit to you what sort of things I sometimes find myself in because:

I’m being too nice, silly, gullible, naive, plain stupid, sleep-deprived, got up from the wrong side of the bed, depressed-and-unaware-of-it, uhmmm… dumb, or all of the above reasons.

What’s doubly insane is I actually paid money so I could waste my time, make myself out of pocket and bore myself to death. I could have wasted my time for free, or at least spent less doing something less stupidly boring.

After a longer-time than was necessary, I got up and left. When I was out of the hall, I rushed outside, trembling and fearing they were going to stop and try and brainwash me.

Of course, it was only my imagination running wild but my heart was racing. I only calmed down when I realised no one was following me.

In my eternal quest for enlightenment, I almost plunge myself deep into the world of the silly. I had my closest brush with a cult, or… well… at least a cult-like group.

Note to self: Please spend your time and money wisely, ask a lot of questions and use your thinking skills coz that’s what the brain is for.

You are welcome to berate me. 🙂

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The Heart of the Matter

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I plonk on a seat on the train next to a window, where I could sit comfortably and read a book.

The train ride to my first stop is about 45 minutes. It’s peak hour and it’s all stops. This is going to be a long but enjoyable ride, or so I thought.

Halfway through the first page, I heard a man belch loudly. I moved my face sideways, not quite looking at where the sound was coming from. A hint of annoyance could be read from that slight movement of my head.

Shortly after, I could hear someone murmuring from behind me. Deaf from the usual noise when reading a book, I ignored it. I first learned to read in English before I learned to read in my own language, but at this very moment, as I go through lines after lines of English words, I couldn’t read a word. I thought the book is hard to read, but those damn racist remarks won’t stop barging in my head.

I Turned Dyslexic and Everyone Became Deaf

I closed the book and sighed. Cruel words incessantly try and invade my hearing space. Something about Asians, Asians taking over their jobs, how they shouldn’t be in this country. Oh, here we go, I thought, and rolled my eyes. Not quite dark outside, I looked out the glass window as the train hisses past buildings and trees, but not really seeing anything.

The train was filled with all sorts of people. Everyone was minding their own business, busy with their own thoughts, their own reading and, like me, pretending they weren’t hearing anything.

I decided to continue ignoring this man’s ramblings about Asians to no one in particular. Maybe it will stop and he will tire of it, run out of words to say or reach his train station soon.

Leafing through another page, and on and on the man continued. I stole a quick glance over my shoulder, and I saw the man is standing on the aisle, holding a bottle of beer.

As I attempt to correct my sudden-onset dyslexia, it was becoming obvious the man talking loudly on the train had zeroed in on a ”lucky” someone. Slowly, it dawned on me, that someone was me! The man, the harasser, was talking to me all along.

Very Cheeky and Pushing It

Indirectly, he told me to vacate my seat because, he said, I didn’t deserve it. He wanted me to give up my seat to an elderly Anglo-Australian who I didn’t see was standing next to him. The elderly Anglo-Australian giggled and nodded in agreement to what the harasser said. Under a different circumstance, on my own accord, I would have offered my seat to any elderly person. The harasser explained to a non-Asian female passenger, who clearly looked scared, that he hated Asians because Asians took over jobs meant for Australians.

Encumbered with all the stuff I had with me, including a box of birthday cake, I restrained myself from engaging in a potentially messy, chocolate-mud-cake fight. For a while, I vacillitated between wasting A$20 (at that time) worth of cake to smash it across the man’s racist face or to just ignore him as best I could and not to stoop down to his level. In the end, I chose the latter.

Not content with throwing insults in my direction, the harasser blocked my way when I tried to get off the train. With my hands and arms full of stuff, I couldn’t shove him off so I could get out before the train moved. I missed my station as a result. As the train started to move, I screamed out loud to his face: ”YOU ARE AN ASSHOLE!”

No other words were necessary. I thought that was the heart of the matter—he was just being exactly as I described him. There was no need to explain or reason out to him, nor was there any need to expend any energy to try and enlighten him.

He shrugged his shoulder. ‘I hate Asians’, he said, and walked away.

For two months, I was paranoid. I would sit at the farthest back of the train thinking I’d rather have my enemy in front of me where I can see them, than behind me.

Questioning My Own Willingness to Help Others

Would I have helped if it was someone else who was being harassed instead of me? I’d like to think, if it was clear there was someone being victimised and this person appeared helpless, that I would have. My ”Beautiful Serpent”, as author, poet and blogger Ed Pilolla beautifully calls it, rears its ugly head from time to time, and can sometimes be a bit fearless.

I thought about it for a long time. None of the passengers in the crowded train uttered a word. No one bothered to report it to a train guard on my behalf. They were either indifferent or too scared to help. They say there is strength in numbers but, even against an averaged-built man, no one dared to raise their voice. I guess, if I wasn’t saying anything, why would they?

Later that night, as I took a bite of a piece of the chocolate cake that almost never was, I shudder at the thought that people’s deafening silence and pathetic lack of courage to come to my rescue was because they had the same deep-seated fear as the ignorant man.

If you were in my shoes, what would you have done?

If you were one of the passengers, would you have lifted a finger to help a stranger being harassed?

As always, I welcome and appreciate your comments.

Read related articles:
The Racist Workplace by James Adonis
End Racism

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A Lone Voice

Dear old and new friends, welcome to my first ever blog.

From years of listening, watching, observing, reading, introspecting, remembering and endless daydreaming, come thoughts, opinions, conclusions, judgments and beliefs. This blog will be my platform for expressing my voice—a lone voice. No longer content to remain and watch from the sidelines, my backside (see ‘Moi – Warts, Backside and All’ page) is sore from sitting on the fence too long. 🙂

From that tiny seed of encouragement over 15 years ago that I should write, from an old friend called Niamh, I’ve progressed from a frustrated writer to… a budding writer. Yes, the progression has been at a snail’s pace but I finally got here one snail-pace step at a time.

It might take you forever to get to your destination and you may move yourself one inch at a time if you want to, but you have to make that first move. To get to where you want to be, you have to, at the very least, stir. It’s like playing a game of chess. The game can’t begin until the first player, no matter how slow, makes the first move.

If I’ve satisfied you with my excuse for taking almost two decades to do what I’ve been wanting to do, then I’m happy. Who knows where this game of words will take me, but I hope you’ll join me for the ride. I may have started slowly but now I’m raring to go. With renewed courage and a chunk of craziness for throwing caution to the wind, my itchy feet are ready to hitch a ride on a bullet slow train to becoming a fully-fledged writer.

This is not to say I won’t ever go back there, to sit on the fence. I enjoy it there, often smiling in bemusement and at other times indifferent, quietly watching the dramas unfold around me. I don’t and won’t always take sides but I will offer my two cents. I have feelings and opinions unexpressed, and memories and points of view unshared, biding my time until the spirit moved me to write them down and share them with you.

If any of the future topics I discuss make you feel happy, sad, surprised, amused, shocked, irked or cause any form of reaction, I’d be happy to hear… your voice… and share what you feel.

I work full-time and have other activities that occupy my time and mind but, from this point on, I’ll endeavour to write as often as I can.

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