When Passion Isn’t Practical

Reblogging this post to respond to today’s prompt, “Passionate” 

People, Places, and Perspectives.

It’s great to have passion. Fiery ideas that change the world often start burning in someone’s belly. Passion turns hard work into fun and challenges into adrenaline-fueled adventures. When you have passion it suddenly becomes easy to do the right thing and to fight. Character becomes effortless.

But what do you do when the thing that makes you tick and the thing that gives you your paycheck are no longer one and the same?

It takes uncomfortable effort and difficulty to force fit a square peg into a round hole and then keep it there. But when the right fit is still elusive life as it is goes on, so that has to be done.

You’re square. Your heart does not beat for the round hole. Your angular match has yet to be found.

This is when you summon your character in order to deliver in the midst of…

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Being Woman, This Day and Age: An Optimistic View

Note: This is a post I originally wrote on International Women’s Day 2016 in March, updated and modified for submission as part of my application to an upcoming writing workshop. 

It’s International Women’s Day. Here’s to all the amazing and inspiring women in my life. And of course, to the wonderful men who have supported and enabled the success and liberation of women over the years. I am privileged to have them in my family and circle of friends. From my dad and brother, to the male bosses who hold doors and dates who share ideas and appreciate my intelligence while offering to carry heavy grocery bags for me, and close platonic male friends who are almost like brothers to me.

As a woman in this day and age and this part of the world, I have much to be thankful for. We have so much liberty. The liberty to run after our dreams. To succeed, and to define our own success. To vote and to speak up. To command a boardroom while going ga-ga over the latest kitchen gadgets and recipes. To run marathons, climb mountains, drive fast cars, paint our nails and lips bright red.

To own properties and stride our stuff on red carpets. To have polite men serve us coffee in VIP lounges. To be different from men and still be regarded with equal respect.

To wield influence in our own spheres, and still acknowledge the leadership and strengths of the worthy men in our lives, knowing that it will only bring out the best in them.

Oh what an exciting time to be a woman! As long as we support one another and are not held back by our own fears, or the words and judgement of the less progressive, both men and women.

I write all this as a woman who have led a reasonably comfortable middle-class life, in a reasonably privileged and peaceful part of a developing South East Asian country, where gender inequalities exist as tolerable undercurrents rather than blatant injustice. And perhaps, most of all, I write all this as a hopeless optimist who can’t help but see the glass as half full. Or maybe I am just too stubborn and carefree to be bothered by ridiculous policing attempts, or perhaps I have been sheltered from them.

Whatever the reasons may be for my optimism and upbeat attitude with regards to my place as a woman, complacency is certainly not one of them.

I now want to explore the other side of the coin – take a closer peek at the lives of people who may not have been as sheltered or privileged, and to walk in their shoes to find out what it really feels like to be discriminated against purely based on their gender.

To find out for myself – what the oft-mentioned systematic oppression of Malaysian women is all about, and finally, hopefully, to have empowering and uplifting conversations about what every individual woman can do to change her own life for the better.

 

 

How to Walk in Love

People, Places, and Perspectives.

During my quiet time today I asked the Lord how to walk in love. Especially when it gets hard. “I need You to enlarge my heart,”I told Him.

And then He said to me, “Any believer who desires to love the way Jesus does needs to first get their own restoration and healing…a wounded heart cannot expand and let others in. A broken arm cannot embrace.”

And that was why Jesus was wounded on the cross…so that we may be healed.

Isaiah 53:5

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
    and by his wounds we are healed.

(Holy Bible, New International Version)

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When Passion Isn’t Practical

It’s great to have passion. Fiery ideas that change the world often start burning in someone’s belly. Passion turns hard work into fun and challenges into adrenaline-fueled adventures. When you have passion it suddenly becomes easy to do the right thing and to fight. Character becomes effortless.

But what do you do when the thing that makes you tick and the thing that gives you your paycheck are no longer one and the same?

It takes uncomfortable effort and difficulty to force fit a square peg into a round hole and then keep it there. But when the right fit is still elusive life as it is goes on, so that has to be done.

You’re square. Your heart does not beat for the round hole. Your angular match has yet to be found.

This is when you summon your character in order to deliver in the midst of drudgery. You have responsibilities to discharge and you need to restrain your free spirit no matter how it squirms and struggles.

You may not do any life changing things for now. Everything is grey and mundane. You endure by the moment so everything is dealt with in bite-sized bearables.

Be still, oh heart. When the right time comes, the fuel lying dormant inside you will be free to catch fire and burn forevermore.

For now, it is you and what you are made of, against the cold sleepy winter and rain.

When God Made Me: A Creation’s Search for Purpose

When God set about knitting me together in my mother’s womb (Bible verse to come later); He probably had a smile on His face (verse to come later). It was probably a big smile, and at some other moments a tender one. He had an end in His sovereign mind as to what my destiny looks like, but He was creating a free spirit, an individual with her own quirks and fancies. He was probably shaking His head as he foresaw all the twists and turns and bumps in my journey, some due to others’ decisions, many owing to my own choices. I was His creation but He was bestowing on me a free will. And He knew the extent to which I would exercise that free will.

He knew the exact moment I would respond to the gentle nudge of His Spirit, to invite His Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus to come into my life. And He knew all the fine tuning that would be needed in that new relationship, before I would finally get in optimal sync with His leading and began moving into the purpose for which He has created me. The closer I walk with Him, the clearer the purpose will become – from a vague inkling based on what makes me tick, to the first tentative step that may lead to bolder commitments, and finally to that moment of clarity where the very specific reason for my life comes to light, so clear that there are no more doubts! 

Help me get there sooner, Abba Father – because the safest and most joyful place to be is the center of Your perfect will. Anything less would be a sad compromise that I am not willing to settle for!!!!

Swimming with Giants

At my parents’ house, there is a pond where tiny fishes barely the length of my thumbs happily co-exist with bulky koi fatter than my arms. 

The tiny ones look carefree while their gigantic pondmates seem unperturbed. 

And therein lies the allusion to yet another paradox. That it is actually, albeit counterintuitively more pleasant to swim among giants than those smaller than you.

True giants invoke feelings of awe and inspiration – but instead of making you feel small they make you feel like you want to and that you can get to their stature if you would put in the giant-sized beliefs and effort that they do. They do not belittle anything or anyone because it is just not in their DNA to dabble in smallness! They do not respond to big dreams with a joke, they respond with excitement because they have been there and know that dreams are worth chasing even if you have to die trying. Dreams are only a joke to those who do not believe in their own. 

They do not respond to ideas with sarcasm – subtle or overt – because people who believe in themselves always believe in others. The way they see you is simply a reflection of how they see themselves. 

When you reflect on a mistake with a giant, the giant will remark on the lessons you have gained and get excited about your way forward. The dwarf will at best shrug or at worst slap a label on what you did and remind you not to do it again, probably thinking that they are being helpful or maybe because they were not even thinking at all. 

So I would rather spend my time in the company of giants. Dwarfed in stature, but have my limits stretched to the point of growth. 

I would rather feel humbled and inspired by greatness, than feel insulted and frustrated by smallness. Because while successful people find joy in encouraging and challenging others to pursue their dreams, small minded people crave the comfort of hanging out with the ones who want to stay the same. That is why when you want change you would find people who would crack jokes or cast doubts.

Shrug off the smallness, and look for some Giants to look up to and to look up with. Because here’s the paradox: true Giants inspire greatness and growth in those who dare to dream. They may look intimidating from afar but their spirits are kind and nurturing. Dwarfs look humble but are in fact too proud to fail. They will not bother to see beyond their eye level because it is just too uncomfortable and unfamiliar – so if you find yourself feeling small, get away from dwarfs for they embrace you only if you stay the same. 

Thrive, Not Survive: My Journey towards Nature

I wonder how people saw to their survival in the ancient age, without the modern trappings we have today. So many things have been created for convenience, but do we think enough about how sustainable it is to keep using disposable this and that, and buying products that are not only laden with chemicals but also come in non-biodegradable packaging that we simply throw away?

Many of us tend to see it as a way to save time and reduce hassle – after all, life in the digital age is fast-paced and competitive – so why bother reusing old things when we can easily replace them with new ones?

Yet I suspect one of the reasons why stress is such a big part of modern life – is because everytime we create waste and consume synthetic substances, deep down we know that we are putting our health, the environment and our future generations at risk – therefore our conscience gnaws at us, leading to subconscious negative energy and stress.

Maybe this is why I find it so therapeutic to go back to basics whenever I can. I have always enjoyed collecting old bottles and this year I finally did something about my long-held interest to experiment with DIY natural products. My journey began sometime mid-March, with some baking soda, extra virgin coconut oil, organic rice bran oil (I bought it because I wanted a healthy cooking oil with a high smoking point, the amazing benefits it has for my skin and hair were sheer serendipity!) organic castile soap, kaolin clay, and essential oils.

I started by making my own toothpaste and body wash, and to date the list of commercial products that I have replaced with my DIY natural alternatives are:

1. Toothpaste
2. Body wash
3. Facial toner
4. Facial moisturiser (though the replacement won’t really count as DIY, because I simply started using organic rice bran oil on my face!)
5.Makeup remover (also doesn’t qualify as DIY for reason similar to the one above)
6. Hair conditioner
7. Clothes detergent
8. Dish washing liquid

Next on my list should be my shampoo, though I am currently using a store-bought organic one.

So far it has been fun and rewarding. I love being able to reuse old bottles to store my homemade products. The organic apple cider vinegar works great as a toner, and the rice bran oil is the best moisturiser I have ever had. These two cost a lot less than the commercial skincare products I used to buy, so I look forward to the long-term savings. And it feels great washing my dishes, knowing that there will not be toxic chemical residues from the wash! Same goes for my laundry. And no more fluoride in my toothpaste!

This journey to go back to nature has convinced me that things and decisions made in the name of speed and convenience, more often than not, help us to merely survive, but not thrive.

I won’t be able to give up on all conventionally mass produced daily products. But one thing for sure: my quest for all things natural and organic will be a lifelong progress.

Survival