Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Read: ODDitude: Finding the Passion for Who You Are and What You Do

A week ago, I finished reading a book that I had borrowed from the library. The title of the book was ODDitude: Finding the Passion for Who You Are and What You Do. This book is written in a magazine-style in that each chapter is self-contained and can be read on its own. This makes the book very accessible. I could read one chapter at a time on my way to work, and back home. While this is not the usual kind of book that I would buy and collect, it is a refreshing read nevertheless. It offers perspectives that I may otherwise not thought of on my own.

I think it was a good idea that the author consolidates and lists the insightful quotations from this book at the last few pages of the book. That, I think, allows for easy recapitulation of the essence of the core messages from this book.

Here are a few of the quotations that I have found useful:

"Never walk a road that doesn't lead to your heart."

"You do what's right because it's right. (The Jimmy Flasken Rule)"

"Losing and learning to go on and live again is the only kind of winning that truly matters."

When what one needs is some healthy dosage of learning to appreciate one's unique talents and qualities, this may be one book to read to affirm one to be true to oneself.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A short visit to Hort Park

Silver Garden

My adventurous walk on 19 Jun 2009 (Fri) from Mount Faber Park to the Reflections at Bt Chandu brought me to visit Hort Park for a short while.

HortPark, I personally find, is rather a challenge for yours truly to pronounce correctly. If I am not careful, I end up pronouncing it as "Hot Park". As such, I am more in the favour of referring to HortPark as the "Gardening Hub".

There were some interesting attractions at the HortPark. I am particularly attracted to the Bamboo Labyrinth. I felt a sense of peace and tranquility simply by being there. There seems a lot more interesting attractions at the HortPark but I was more keen to head towards Kent Ridge Park and the Reflections at Bt Chandu that day.

Bamboo Labyrinth

33 Hyderabad Road, Off Alexandra Road

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Telok Blangah Hill adventure

Terrace Garden.

On 19 Jun 2009 (Fri), I went for a walk to be close to Nature. My starting point was Mount Faber Park. After walking across Henderson Waves from Mount Faber, I reached the Telok Blangah Hill. I explored the Telok Blangah Hill by walking along the direction-markers that would lead me to the Forest Walk. Forest Walk is "a steps-free elevated walkway with earth trails that meanders through some 50 metres through the secondary forest of Telok Blangah Hill and connects to Alexandra Arch."

There is a beautifully landscaped garden on Telok Blangah Hill. It's called the Terrace Garden. Terrace Garden offers a beautiful view of neighbouring housing estates as well as of the island of Sentosa. On a good day, one can be treated with light and cool breezes. It was a fairly good day when I was there.

After enjoying moments of good view and cool breezes at the Terrace Garden, I headed for the Forest Walk. Along the way, I could get close to the plants of the secondary forest of Telok Blangah Hill. Occasionally, I get to hear birds singing away. It was quite a pleasant and relaxing experience. Perhaps I had slowly accustomised myself to walking on structures that are built above the ground after crossing Henderson Waves, I did not have as much fears walking along the elevated walkway of the Forest Walk. Furthermore, I learnt that Forest Walk is a a "disabled-friendly" structure.

I could not help but felt more refreshed and energised just simply by walking alongside Nature. I took my time enjoying the moments close to Nature. It was a pleasant walk on my own. The Forest Walk came to a close when I reached Alexandra Arch that spans across Alexandra Road.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Serene Centre: During my childhood days

In a mood for nostalgia, I shall find some time to blog about the Serene Centre located at 10 Jalan Serene. Basically, I very often associate Serene Centre with the MacDonald's fast-food restaurant that is located there.

My maternal grandparents' place is fairly nearby the Serene Centre. I fondly remember that during the times when I visit my grandparents' place when I was a child, one of the occasional treats was a visit to the Serene Centre's MacDonald's outlet. More than two decades ago, the MacDonald's outlet at Serene Centre had a much bigger floor area that spanned two storeys. It was so big that there was enough space to accomodate a modest indoor playground within its premises. One of the highlights of my visits to the outlet was not to eat the food, but to play at the indoor playground.

I remember that the indoor playground had a lot of colourful plastic balls that form a sea of balls that one could jump into and play with. The playground, with its slides and built-in obstacles, was simply a fascinating ground for yours truly as a young child.

Come to think of it: As a young child, I did not quite comprehend that it would probably cost my grandmother, who was usually the one who would take me to the MacDonald's outlet when I was a child, quite a bit just to have a simple meal there. The thing I could understand then was that it was fun and novel to be at the playground. That was all. I hope that it had brought her some delight to watch her grandchild enjoy the moments at the playground.

I shall take this chance to express heartfelt gratitude to my grandmother for her care, encouragement and love. She is one person in this world whom I am deeply thankful for.

Footnote: As I was writing this post (which would be published on 22 Jul 2009), my heart guided me to give my grandmother a phone-call to find a time to meet up with her.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Henderson Waves adventure

I have heard about Henderson Waves from friends and fellow-bloggers but I had not visited it until 19 Jun 2009 (Fri). I was in need of a breather from work, and greatly needed to spend time close to Nature. All these lead me to decide to start a leisure walk from Mount Faber to Telok Blangah Hill, to Hort Park, Kent Ridge Park and finally to the Reflections at Bt Chandu.

In this post, I shall attempt to share about my walk along Henderson Waves. According to the information that is found on the National Parks Singapore's website:

At 36 metres above Henderson Road, Henderson Waves is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore. It was built to connect the two hills of Mount Faber and Telok Blangah Hill.

To reach Henderson Waves, I took a bus from 131 from the HarbourFront and alighted at the bus-stop along Henderson Road. Bus service 145 also gets one there. Then I crossed to the other side of the road and took the staircase up to Mount Faber Park. That eventually led me to this part of the Mount Faber Park that bears the sign Henderson Waves.

My walk along Henderson Waves then begun. I realised that I have a fear of heights when I walk on structures that seem to be suspended high up in the air. I felt fears that I would wobble down and fall from the bridge! It was strange that while I trust that the engineers did a great job to make sure that the bridge will be stable, my body could not help sending me signals of fear when I started to cross this bridge. It took me a while before I could concentrate on enjoying the views from the bridge than to worry about falling down from the bridge!

The official National Parks Singapore's website wrote that Henderson Waves "has a unique wave-form made up of seven undulating curved steel “ribs” that alternately rise over and under its deck." I was pretty attracted to the wave-like form of the bridge. This bridge gets one a very down-to-earth feel. Slats of yellow balau wood are used in the decking. When one gets tired, one could rest on benches that were well blended in with the overall structures of the bridge.

Well, I shall end this post with a photo taken at a slanted angle of the snapshot on Henderson Waves. If it makes you feel wobbly. That was how I felt when I was on it. Alright, I do need more encouragement to conquer my unrealistic fears of walking on structures that are high above the ground.

Getting to Henderson Waves:

By Bus: Take bus service number 131, 145, 176 or 648. Alight at bus stop along Henderson Road, take the staircase up to Mount Faber Park.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Breakfast with Mystic

Starbucks Breakfast Platter.

Friends can inspire!

This morning, one of my good friends, Mystic and I met for a breakfast to chill out. I suggested to have breakfast at Starbucks Coffee since I have never tried having breakfast there. Mystic so kindly obliged.

Mystic, I can say has a passion for food. She has her way to describe the taste of food. One thing I keep learning from her is her good eye for taking photographs of food. Obviously, the photos in this post were taken by yours truly. Mystic did play a part to suggest that I remove the cutlery but otherwise, if the photos turned out uninteresting, it is because I have yet to master the art of taking photographs of food from my dear friend, Mystic.

Breakfast with Mystic was spent catching up, and learning to enjoy the moments. During our breakfast meeting, yours truly was inspired by Mystic's passion for food to write a post specially dedicated to her. After discussing with Mystic my ideas, we decided to call this post "Breakfast with Mystic". Here, I proudly announce the publication of the blog-post titled "Breakfast with Mystic". Mystic shall be my secret advisor for this post. However, if you do not like what was written, please come after the writer, i.e. yours truly. Whatever it is, lighten up when you read this post. Afterall, breakfast is intended to be a time to refresh and rejuvenate for the day!

For this post, I shall write about the new breakfast items at Starbucks Coffee. While we were queueing for the food, the Strawberry Yogurt Parfait from the Breakfast menu caught Mystic's eyes. Out of curiosity, I went online to search for the definition of "parfait". I found this:

1. a dessert made of rich cream, eggs, syrup, etc. frozen together and served in a tall, slender, short-stemmed glass
2. a dessert of layers of ice cream, crushed fruit, etc. in such a glass
(Source: http://www.yourdictionary.com/parfait)

Spinach-Egg Frittata, Turkey Bacon and Cheese.

Other than having learnt a new word today, I managed to have a good time reviewing our breakfast with Mystic. Please remember that this review is written by yours truly who decided that I would spend breakfast with Mystic in a light-hearted mood.

Mystic ordered the Spinach-Egg Frittata, Turkey Bacon and Cheese. This costs $5.90 with a cup of tea of one's choice. Mystic said that the price of the breakfast from Starbucks is comparable to Mac Donalds, and the Frittata is better than the breakfast item from MacDonalds. She enjoyed the fact that the egg contained spinach and that there was tomato in the Frittata. She ordered a cup of wild sweet orange tea to go with the Frittata and she said it is a good complement with the Frittata.

Mystic's suggestion for anyone who orders the Frittata is to request to have it cut into half. Firstly, that would allow sharing if one finds the portion to much for one person. Secondly, it will allow the Frittata to be more manageable to be consumed.

As for myself, I ordered the Starbucks Breakfast Platter. For $5.90 as well, it came with a cup of tea of my choice. I chose the Berryblossom white tea. It has a tinge of berry flavour and is a refreshing change from my usual choice of chamomile tea.

The platter consists of grapes, banana, a hard-boiled egg, multi-grain bun, and a slice of walnut-raisin bread. Since we were reviewing the breakfast together, Mystic definitely was asked to try some of my order.

Mystic thinks that the walnut-raisin bread is a unique choice of bread for a breakfast menu. I like the walnut-raisin bread for I have a liking for walnut!

The multi-grain bun is good on its own. Mystic can testify to it. I like its rustic texture and taste.

On the other hand, I don't like the fact that the hard-boiled egg was cold. This is possibly a personal preference. Mystic felt that the items on Starbucks' breakfast menu do not quite fall under what she would consider "hot breakfast item". It seemed like she considers parfait, boiled eggs, breads, buns, waffles and cereals as "non-hot items".

Mystic's suggestion for Starbucks is to consider serving the egg and the fruits on separate plates from the bread and bun. I suppose cold food items (grapes) and warm food items (toasted bread) should not mix. Furthermore, non-cooked (banana) and cooked item (egg) should be separated too.

Last but not the least, if you have found this post interesting enough to read, please keep your fingers crossed that Mystic and I would meet again for breakfast, and be game enough to review our breakfast together yet again. Until then, please find delight in having breakfast with your friends and family.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

11 parts blog posts about the National Museum of Singapore

On Yesterday.sg recently, noelbynature points out that Alicesg has written a massive 11-parts blog-post about her visits to the National Museum of Singapore. There is so much to know about the museum.

Find out more here: How many times can you blog about a visit to the museum?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Conquering Quarterlife Crisis: One Blog at a Time

Yesterday, I blogged about a book on the topic of quarterlife crisis that I have read recently. This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Molly Hoyne, Executive Director of Stratejoy, Inc.

Stratejoy is a site dedicated to helping 20 & 30 something women define success on their own terms and lead an authentically joyous life.

Here's quoting a few parts from Molly's email to me:

Stratejoy is thrilled to introduce four amazing women – Robyn, Kendra, Andrea & Marisa – who will be blogging about their Quarterlife Crisis starting Monday, July 13, 2009. They are allowing the world to be part of their journey as they tackle unemployment, big moves, soul sucking jobs, relationships, finding joy, staying true and all the other life-changing experiences that go along with being a Quarter Lifer.

These gutsy girls are helping challenge the stigma that this “crisis” is considered a failure and that somehow they should have avoided it. They’re not blaming anyone; they’re simply admitting they don’t have it “figured out” at the time in their lives when they thought they would. Through their weekly posts, these four women from across the country – DC, New York, Chicago, and Portland – will encourage you to think about your life, to challenge expectations and to carve our your own definition of success.

I have spent some time browsing Stratejoy and found that it has some useful resources and insights. Do make a visit.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Read: Who Cares What You're Supposed to Do?

This is a book that I would recommend women who are in their twenties and early thirties to have a read. In today's world, women have the privilege to have more options opened to them as compared to many decades ago. Strangely, having more options may create unknown pressures and doubts because there is possibly no exact road-map for women today. Furthermore, many of the societal expectations from many decades ago continue to prevail.

There are expectations that seem to suggest that women of that age are supposed to:
- have a fabulous career
- be financially independent
- be married with children
- have your own home
- enjoy a busy social life
- have a great body
- do it all right

Such expectations can unknowingly create pressure, doubts and feelings of guilt for those who felt that they cannot meet up to the expectations. What I find useful about this book is that it explores how one can put the pressures and expectations into perspective.

In addition, I find that it gave some useful strategy on how to steer away from self-doubt so that one could be in a better position to figure out what one would really want of one's life, rather than let the society dictate how one should live one's life.

The authors proposed the following four steps to resolving self-doubt:
1. Recognise and name the problem.
2. Understand and challenge the expectation.
3. Connect to what you value and believe.
4. Seek allies against self-doubt.

Essentially, Who Cares What You're Supposed to Do? Breaking the Rules to Get What You Want in Love, Life and Work is a book that explores the issues that women who are experiencing quarter-life crisis are likely to face.

While I find the case-examples a little hard to follow at times as they are scattered over various chapters of the book, these examples did help to illustrate many of the issues that are commonly faced by women in their quarter-life. I find it an insightful read as I admittedly experience issues related to quarterlife-crisis from time-to-time.

I also like the fact that this book was written by a psychologist. That seemed to make the writing style fairly appealing to yours truly who likes reading non-fiction books related to social science issues.

I took about a slightly more than a week to finish reading it. I look forward to overcoming some of my self-doubts and claiming the power to define my life on my own terms. May you too.

Online ites on Quarterlife crisis:

Title: Who cares what you're supposed to do? : breaking the rules to get what you want in love, life, and work
Author: Dickerson, Victoria C., with Fine, Carla.
Publisher New York : Berkley Publishing Group, 2004.

Available for loan from the National Library Board Singapore. Call Number: English 158.08422 DIC

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Another lovely evening at Little India

Colourful Little India, it is quite an interesting place to visit when one is in Singapore. It has charms of its own that intrigue me.

Firstly, other than a love for air-wells, I have an interest in the pre-war shop-houses in Singapore simply because I have a fascination with walking along five-foot ways. Secondly, the fragrance of spices and flowers in the Little India area are simply treats for the senses, at least for yours truly.

Today, I visited Little India with one of my good friends. She is kind and accomodated to my request to visit one of the South Indian temples in the Little India area, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. We had the honour to observe a religious ceremony (temple worship) when we were there.

I am pleased to share that I have learnt something new as a result of my visit to Little India. That has to do with the theories to answering this question: Why are certain Hindu Gods and Goddesses depicted in blue?

"One of the theories is that Vishnu, because of his association with water, is depicted blue; therefore all his incarnations including Krishna, are shown as such. In Hinduism, persons who have depth of character and the capacity to fight evil are depicted as blue skinned. ...

"The theory of the blue coloring of Krishna goes to the fact that the Creator has given the maximum of blue to nature i.e. the sky, the oceans, the rivers and lakes. The deity who has the qualities of bravery, manliness, determination, the ability to deal with difficult situations, of stable mind and depth of character is represented as blue colored. Lord Krishna spent his life protecting humanity and destroying evil, hence he is colored blue."

(Source: Yahoo answers)

Many thanks to my friend for noticing that some of the statues of the gods in the temple were depicted as blue-skinned, and for sharing her findings on this with me. Yeah! One new thing I have learnt today! Our friends help us see things that we may otherwise not have noticed on our very own. Thank goodness for friends.

The delicious dinner that my friend and I had at a stall near Desker Rd.

An evening at Little India

This is a short post with a photo that I had taken while I was at Little India with one of my good friends, Mystic, on 19 Jun 2009. Mystic suggested for a dinner at one of the vegetarian restaurants.

I thank Mystic for her patience with me over the dinner. I think it was a rather challenging situation for her that I seem to take ages to decide on my order that night.

One thing I appreciate about my friends is that they have been patient and kind with me despite the flaws that I have. Thank goodness for good friends.

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Merit in ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory

A few months ago, I travelled to Ipoh, Malaysia to sit for the ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory exams. The reason for sitting for the exams in a foreign country was because the date for the Grade 8 Music Theory exams in Singapore for the month of March 2009 clashed with a concert that I was performing in.

I am pleased to share that I was awarded a Merit in Grade 8 Music Theory. Thank you for your support and well-wishes.

Most importantly, I thank my music theory tutor for his patient and wise guidance.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

The A&W at Crown Centre?

On 4 Jul 2009, I was taking a leisure walk from the Singapore Botanic Gardens to my maternal grandmother's place to spend an evening with her. On my way there, I passed by Crown Centre. I remember that there used to be an Angie the Choice cake-shop there about a decade ago.

I vaguely remember having lunch once in a blue moon at one of the food establishments that used to be located in Crown Centre when I was a Secondary School student studying in one of the secondary schools that was located nearby the area. Yet, I can't exactly remember what food establishment it was.

A couple of months ago, I walked past Crown Centre with one of my good friends and she commented that there used to be an A&W fast-food restaurant that used to be located in Crown Centre, during the times when I was a Secondary School student. That was more than a decade ago. Alas! When she mentioned that to me, my mind somehow could not recall the A&W fast-food restaurant that used to be there! My memory bank had almost no memory of the A&W restaurant that used to sit in Crown Centre.

Speaking of A&W fast-food restaurant, I have enjoyed its curly fries and waffle. The Root Beer Float was also an occasional treat for yours truly when I was a young child.

When I passed by Crown Centre recently, I decided I need to do something to recollect a bit of my memories of the A&W restaurant. If you happen to know anything about the A&W fast-food restaurant at Crown Centre, its exact location, its decor and whatever about it, I would greatly appreciate it if you could please drop your comment here to jolt my memory back. Better still, if you happen to visit this very A&W restaurant with me, remind me what we did there, if you could remember.

I look forward to hear from you in the hope to recall the memories that I seem to have temporarily lost.

In the meantime, I shall point readers to a few online posts related to the A&W restaurant that used to be located in that part of Singapore:
Trip down memory lane - Photo Gallery
Singapore's First Fast Food Restaurant (by Lam Chun See)

At the time of writing this post, I was informed by dear RL that the A&W restaurant was located where the Irish Pub now stands.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Read: Passion for Life

I was at the library on 20 Jun 2009 with a good friend of mine. The weeks before that visit to the library, I was experiencing inner turmoils feeling rather uncertain and clueless about how to make sense of life that may come. The feelings were what I would call growing-up pains.

On one hand, I am thankful that there are possibly unlimited choices about how my life could turn out to be. Yet, the unlimited possibilities have often left me clueless and stuck. There is an inner yearning to understand myself better, to understand my needs and aspirations that are deep down in me, so that I have an inner compass to guide me to make wiser and more effective choices that would allow me to follow my heart.

I suppose when one yearns hard for an answer, one's mind would direct one to choose books that could help get one closer to the answers? So I wasn't surprised that my hands somehow picked up the book Passion for Life: Lifelong Psychological and Spiritual Growth by Anne Brennan and Janice Brewi.

I still don't know all the answers that I seek to find. Nevertheless, it was somehow a comforting read for yours truly who is searching for some mid-life directions.

The book mentioned a quote by Carl Jung several times:

"I have treated many old people and when the unconscious is apparently threatened with the complete end, it ignores it. Life behaves as if it were going on. So I tell old people to live on as though they had centuries and then they will live properly."

I wonder whether it is because when one live as if one is here for eternity, one may live with greater grace?

Another insightful statement in this book that in some ways suggest that challenges and difficult times can be moments that signal areas for growth:

"At times of major transitions, like the movement from youth to midlife, often experiences a disharmony and a dismemberment that is a call for growth in consciousness and a change in life. The felt psychic disturbance is nature's way of calling a person to stop, pay attention, discover what is amiss and make the called-for changes."

If you are like myself searching for directions for the next phase of your life, this book can be an interesting read. I hope that I can find the wisdom and strength to live each day of my life to come with grace. May you too.