Death to humility?

Hello 2015 and hello all :) *waves*

The posts have been slow in coming thanks to a drain on the mojo (hello work “motivation”) and a dearth of visitors in the sandbox. Talk about being a social butterfly! The usual year-end blooper post will have to come later, this time I’m building up to an observation.

Case in point: With so much self-promotion, self-declaration and whatnot perpetuated social media, are we all losing our sense of grace? Are we killing humility (like poor ol' Smoochy) in the effort to trumpet our successes at every turn?

No matter where you turn, Jimmy is telling you about his great life, Sally is showing off her new body or Sammy is showing you just how wonderful a person he is. Even our bosses are hopping onto the bandwagon "if you don't keep trumpeting your successes, who will know what you've done?".. uh how about you? The person we report to? Or are you too busy claiming credit instead? ;) Celebrating accomplishments is one thing, going overboard and shouting from the rooftops about how great you are, how without you, the office will never be able to function and how wonderful your life is, is sickening. Enough already!

This raises another issue. Because everyone is so bloody busy, would anyone take notice of your accomplishments? Is that why you have to constantly promote and market ourselves just to be seen or even heard? 

While I believe that technology and social media are great, they are oftimes the source of countless problems. If we all took the chance to unplug ourselves from our phones, computers and devices, we could actually get somewhere. Firstly, we would stop envying everyone else. 

We will start appreciating the little things again, being kind, learning to be socially adept with people and to actually see people for who they are. It’s true that we can’t help bragging from time to time but let’s tone it down, ok? If we all took a step back and dialed things down, we will star becoming ourselves again, instead of succumbing to what everyone says, or thinks… or even worse, what some reality star opines. 

Maybe I am just a cynic but I feel that you aren't truly great unless your accomplishments are given third-party validation. And by that, I don’t mean being validated by one of your personas. I mean being genuinely praised and recognized for a job well-done. The days of sincere compliments are few and far between. In the rush to be seen as being ‘great” we often praise false idols while neglecting true heroes. 

I don’t know what the world is coming or how people will continue to behave but I can say one thing. We need to stop trying to be “great” because

When did we become so chickenshit?

Time for a little rant...

I’ve been listening to friends' dating stories lately and have observed how far people have regressed in terms of connecting with one another. At the heart of it all, we all want to connect with that special someone, to love and be loved.

But, how can we do it today?

The prevalence of dating apps, websites, social media and online articles makes the greedy greedier, feeds shallowness and worse of all, breeds irrational fear. So what are we afraid of?

Apparently, we are afraid of ourselves and of being vulnerable.  

We are self-obsessed and can’t seem to stop taking selfies. We obsess over our weight, or how we want our partner to look like or how popular we are or whether we can maintain some sort of cover lifestyle that is the envy of many. Even dating has become a chore. People have become so afraid of phrases like “dating”. They they need to distance themselves with words like “meeting”, “having coffee” or “hooking up” to the point that it trivializes the whole experience. 

I may be generalizing or drawing too much form my own experiences, but a whole bunch of people seem to thrive on the gratification in a casual or ‘open’ relationship as opposed to dating seriously. They then contradict themselves or confuse the issue by claiming that they still want to find their special someone, indicating that whomever they are with right now is a convenient option. The fear of commitment, of even showing up for a simple coffee, has become so irrational that it is ridiculous.

Call me traditional but when was the last time you made an authentic connection? Whether it is a friend or a random person you meet, I’m talking about a connection where you can share personal stories and actually talk to each other? When was the friendship more important than the need for another notch on the bedpost? Relationships have to evolve from some point, isn't it, there is no magic formula for happy-ever-after.

It makes me wonder if social media has stymied our need as people to make an authentic connection. Or has it instead made us more direct and selfish in our needs? Are we so fearful of things that we over analyze everything and end up alone because even taking that little small step out of our comfort zone is waaaayy too much work? 

There are no proper responses to these questions, I’m afraid. Just experiences we each go through. All I can ask or hope for is that people change the way they think. Instead of being so self-obsessed, how about focusing on what you bring to the table? How about going out and living a life, instead of showing how perfect your life is? Be authentic, be real! The experience, is worth way more than the Facebook likes, trust me.

And one more thing, vulnerability is not weakness... here's what I learned this week

Five months into... rehab-cercise

It’s been almost a year since the last pesky knee injury and finally some great news :) The road to recovery was fraught with laziness and a general lack of discipline (damn you!) But eventually, persistence, the threat of injections and an operation has somehow worked.

I have to admit that once the initial pain was dealt with, it took me longer to understand that my problems need long-term work. My problem is slightly unique, if not a bit baffling. Apparently, all the years of dancing, competitive sports, exercise classes and performing has taken a toll. What’s funny is that my body has become so used to a high amount of activity that it demands these activities be kept up! Lack of follow through on my part will result in reigniting old injuries, aches and all sorts of pains. Isn’t that wonderful?

Real Pilates: Home of great teachers
and challenging classes 
Attempts of slothery (is that even a word?) now aborted, I had to restart something. Trying to work out in the gym at the apartment was thwarted because, surprise – the elliptical damned near wrenched the knee. It became too hot to swim and the impact from Zumba was more jarring that helpful. Good grief. Thankfully, my really cool physio, Jac came to the rescue, suggesting I go back to Pilates and to keep that knee working, try Xtend Barre.

Whomever thought that Xtend Barre was easy is completely nuts. It is a mix of mat pilates, barre exercises combined with weights, toning balls and resistance. To me, it almost feels like my ballet classes of yore, minus leaping about like a goat. Five months into what I dub as rehab-cercise, and I’m up to three classes a week (mix of Xtend, mat and reformers), plus a session of foam rolling every day. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve slowly inched back into salsa social. The result? I am mostly pain free! YAY!

Photo care of Ems Pen
My little trick to maintain up all this is simple. I do it on my own. That way, I only have myself to blame if things aren’t up to speed. I’m not one of those people who need to have friends around when I work out, so the routine has been great. I get a nice workout and some me time. And the results have shown… no I’m not on my way to a six-pack, but my fitness is up, as is core strength and stamina. So is cardio and being mildly vain, I’ve tweaked parts of my diet so that my body can keep up. Oh and the drinks are still there, I haven’t gone completely mad!

The lesson learnt is simple. Self-discipline and persistence is essential. Not every exercise is for you, neither are fad diets nor going with a crowd. For me, staying healthy means being active, which meant finding exercises that are challenging yet strengthening. It has taken some time to figure out how my body works and what it needs but it has paid off. Oh, I look better too but you’re not going to see a damned selfie…*rolls eyes*

Confessions of a crazy couch potato

I haven’t been a serious couch potato in years, partly due to work, dance and having a resistance for being cooped up. But for some reason over the last year or so, I’ve gravitated back towards TV shows with a vengeance.

Some call it lacking a social life, I call it having the space to watch whatever the heck I want, anytime I want… but I digress.

Who knew a series about a drug dealing teacher would be so cool? Or that a brilliant FBI profiler could have so much in common with a serial killer? Who the hell would be interested in watching a series about two detectives and their lives and not on the case at hand? Apparently, lots of folks.

The appetite for more character and story driven shows have changed drastically. Instead of simply indulging in escapism fluff, more people are turning to solidly written shows. I for one, relish this. It is refreshing to see writers take center stage in developing stories that are far bolder today than before. I can safely say that I’ve learned more about the stages of sex, how viral infections evolve and the role of nature vs nurture in cloning that I ever set out to know.

But it’s not just dramatic shows, comedy writing has also evolved beyond the slapstick and snarky one-liners to tug at viewers' heartstrings. I love how characters and all their flaws are showcased sot that they become more realistic and are not just a caricature. How the writers and actors bring the intangible to life is beyond me. It feels like books have finally come alive, with so much detail in play. But hey, it makes one heck of a potatoship experience!

And so what on earth have I been watching? Here are my 10 picks: 
  1. Hannibal
  2. Masters of Sex
  3. House of Cards
  4. Orphan Black
  5. True Detective
  6. Orange is the New Black
  7. The Mindy Project
  8. Veep
  9. The Strain
  10. Hello ladies
 To one and all, happy watching and try to please go for a walk once in a while! :) 

Freedom of... Is there any in Singapore?

Books are a staple in my life. No matter how busy or tired, upset, happy, in whatever the state of mind, I read. Books have been my constant companions since I learned how to interpret the words on a page.

 Which is why that whole saga of the National Library Board’s yanking and attempting to pulp books that “do not promote family values” and the Media Development Authority’s banning of an issue of Archie, really upset me. Book banning is not a new thing. The Singapore government has banned books like George Orwell’s Animal Farm and Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, among others for years. What upset me is the way they are doing it. 

Why is a library board suddenly policing what people read? What happened to freedom to discover and learn? How on earth can children’s books teach one to become gay? If that is the case, I and many others who read would’ve become serial killers, fairies, pedophiles and possibly vampires or wizards by now.

The question needs to be asked is: Why are people/families so lazy today that they expect or think that libraries and governments are obligated police their own children?

THIS IS LAZY PARENTING. As a parent or adult, you are responsible for educating your kids. Whether it is in the values they learn or how to interpret what they read – this is your responsibility. If you feel that they shouldn’t be exposed to something, explain why and don’t expose them to the material. Governments are there to provide only a framework for the society. The library is a place where your kids discover whole new worlds that set their imaginations afire.

These incidences can be tied to the recent brouhaha over this year’s Pink Dot event in June and how religious groups joined the fray, speaking against alternative lifestyles and generalizing issues among the LGBT community as well as single parents or adoptive families. Why are we promoting intolerance in a country that is supposed to be one of the most harmonious? Also, why are we confusing all the issues now and making an even bigger muck of it all? 

You know the phrase, if you can’t work with them, confuse them? Singapore, you need to STOP it. We need the freedom to love as much as we need the freedom to read. We need to teach our children the way forward, not close them into a narrow-minded view of the world. The entire world is evolving so rapidly that we need to make adjustments to the way we think, work and love. The values that we instill will be passed on; do we really want a generation of kids who are too scared to question, explore and even learn? Don’t take a few steps backward when you should be moving forward!

For a Singaporean living overseas, reading the comments, stories and even posts from my own friends, it upset me hugely. How the hell did the country I grew up in become so fractured? Hey, I know the problems that we have, Singapore. But this is a new kettle of fish. I come from an interracial family that became a single-parent one. I grew up with friends and family in the LGBT community who are some of my best mates. Everyone I know is well-read and able to form their own opinions yet I’ve actually come to realize that despite what is conceived as an “alternative upbringing”, I may have grown up in a better environment than if I was simply closed in and overly protected. 

Don’t let empty words and factions, confuse you, Singapore. Take a deep look within, assess what you are trying to do and say, before you raise an even bigger stink and make us more of laughing stock than we already are.

PS. The NLB has since decided to move two of the books on its pulp list to the adult section based on the MDA's  instructions. Too little, too late, guys. I feel that such public outcry over the matter wasn't necessary in the first place. 

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Ever prodded a sleeping dragon, only to have it whip up and bite you in the ass? Well, neither have I. But I advocate that you should try everything...once ;P
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