26 plus 1.

October is drawing to an end and in less than 30 hours I turn a year older. If I were to sum up the past year, I’d say it has been my best year yet. I felt afraid when I threw the towel and left an extremely stable job. I went ahead anyway telling myself “it’s now or never.” I left to Melbourne for a month. Tried to find work but couldn’t with my visa, decided to use the time to meet people and get myself out there, met a dozen of people through couch surfing events, spent the days tiding the sister threw her finals, decided on taking another leap of faith and applied for a 6-month working holiday visa to New Zealand. On hind sight, that impromptu decision one evening has turned out to be the turning point of my life. I got back home in December, celebrated my overdue birthday, booked my tickets for the much awaited one-way flight, tried to prepare myself for the upcoming months on the road and left on 16 January 2015. I left the comforts of home, familiarity, routines, expectations, everything. Everything behind and decided to pave my own path to thread on. 125 days later, I returned home having built a new me and, rather unexpectedly, a new relationship.

I wrote this on 31 May 2015.

Today marks 9 days since arriving home to a life so much slower after 125 days of calling the road home. So many emotions fill me as I sit here trying to encapsulate this adventure in a few words. It feels impossible to settle for a single word to describe this journey. But, the quote “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” sums it all up pretty aptly.

Travel these days have, unfortunately, been glamourized to being about snapping the perfect instagram worthy shot, being able to change your Facebook cover photo to an epic one and, not forgetting, the spamming of check ins everywhere and anywhere the feet goes. To me, travel largely remains all about the experiences I have and, more importantly, the people I meet.

So, this journey of mine, it’s a tribute to all the people I met – the ones who have touched my soul, moved my heart and reminded me how grateful I should feel to just be alive.

Even now, nearly 160 days since, I do not have a word to encapsulate my adventure. Some days, I recall my stories like they have just unfolded hours ago. Some days, I feel like the stories are distant memories at the back of my head. Some days, I feel like I am my own superstar for having had the courage and strength to go forth with this journey. Some days, I know this is just the beginning. Beginning of so many more adventures (with you)!

I lost many things. First and foremost, needless to say, my depleting finances. Friendships that grew apart with the distance. Countless family functions that I missed. The distance, the time difference that strained us. Emotional upheaval when days aren’t even the least bit rosy and you cannot hold it together anymore, you just end up breaking down. So many such days. You question why you even begun this journey and cry yourself to sleep with empty hope that when the sun rises tomorrow things will get better.

But, I gained so much more. So much more. For a person who grew up in a nation that is a city, the country life experience with Sheryl opened my eyes up to alternative lifestyles. The cell at Napier Prison made me appreciate all the luxuries I lived with for the past 25 years. The struggle to feed myself thrice a day was so real. The stay with Rivka and her husband opened my eyes to what marriage at 50 looked like. Northland travels and all the misadventures that followed suit reminded me there are always going to be some things that are never within your control as much you want them to be. And, the only way out is to go with the flow. The stay at Linda’s lovely home in Hamilton showed me first hand the struggles of a single parent. The 4 days in Te Puke finding work were the lowest point of my adventure. Sitting in the carpark lot of Pac N Save calculating how many dollars I could spend each day to tide myself through till I get my pay is still fresh on my mind. For someone who never worried about finances, it struck me then how important it is to spend within your means and how every dollar actually counts. The next 3 weeks of work in the kiwi packhouse was just mundane physical labour. Food, work, sleep. That’s all that life revolved around. And, then came the best days of my life. I met the kindest souls, in the names of Simon and Darci, and felt like I belonged somewhere for the first time after a very long time. I could not have asked for a better end to my NZ adventure. Soon after, I bade NZ a goodbye and see you soon, spent a week in Sydney and got home on 23 May 2015.

It has been 5 months since I got home. The tears and struggles of my travels made me so much stronger than I can ever explain or quantify. The happiness that I draw from the simplest things in life now feels raw. The lonely days moulded by independence further. I value all the relationships I have now so much more. It took a while, but I now hold a job that gets me up and going every morning. I no longer have to sit through meetings that I cannot value add and churn out meeting minutes by the hour. I have friends who I trust more than my life with. I’ve got my sister flying in tomorrow. And you; the happiness and colour you add my life with is unlike any other. So, thank you for inevitably moulding me into a better person with your patience and silent love all these years.

Thank you for allowing everything to fall in place after 25 years. My 26th has been the best year yet and I cannot wait to see what my 27th is gonna bring with it. All I wanna say is, let it begin! Till, 27 plus 1.

6 things I have learnt after being in sales for 6 weeks.

  1. Anyone can do sales but not everyone survives.

Often we hear people saying anyone can do sales, practically anyone. Degree or no degree. 20 year old or a 40 year old. I’m not going to deny that. But, instead, I’ve begun to realise surviving in this field is the harder part. It takes a whole lot of perseverance and persistence to go forth each day with newfound strength to hit THAT sale.

2. No pain, no gain?! Not always.

You end up putting in at least 50 man-hours for a $50 dollar commission. And, sometimes, just 5 man-hours is all that is needed for you to earn $500 dollars on commission. So, it’s not always no pain, no gain. But, what I’ve come to learn is that, it balances out at the end of the day and hard work does pay off. You just gotta be consistent.

3. Follow ups!

No matter how good a “talker” you are, if you do not follow up you lose the game. It’s probably the most tiring part of the job – keeping track of who to call and when to call. Day and time, both are equally important. Say hello to Excel, google sheets, reminders. notes!

4. Low-ballers

Having the strength and more importantly, patience to handle low-ballers are a HUGE, HUGE part of the job. As a customer, everyone wants the most value for the lowest price. Who doesn’t?! So, put yourself in your customer’s/client’s shoes and offer them the best you can. But, never sell yourself short in the process! So, be sure, to find that balance and you’ll be sure to fly.

5. NEVER mass mail! NEVER!

No one wants to be on the receiving side of an email sent out in masses. It takes time, but, put in the effort to address your recipient and add in a line or two to show that you actually do care about the business they do and how you can help them. I just spent 5 minutes on the line with someone from a financial institution. I specifically tell him my needs expecting a tailor-made email sent to me. But, damn! I open the attachment and a brochure, perhaps, one given out during any roadshow on the company’s profile greets me. No surprise there, but, I’m clearly not going to be calling him back anytime soon. The effort you put in always shows! Don’t cut corners.

6. You drive your own pocket.

It’s as simple (and hard) as that! Work hard, be consistent and reap the benefits. Stay hungry!

Hello.

It’s been a month in a industry I have never had prior experience, let alone knowledge in. The flexibility and the independence of my job nature enthrals me (still) and gets me out of bed every morning. It feels like fresh air from the environment I was in last year. I’m not sure how long I will survive and succeed in this field but, I think I’ve got some time before I make a decision of any sort.

This year has zoomed past way too fast. It feels like I just got back from NZ and it’s already almost November. But, at the same time, NZ feels like it was so long ago I’m aching to leave (again). Thanks to KFit, the brother’s wedding preparations and house renovation works, I’m being kept busy. Time is going to fly faster once November arrives in a week’s time. Especially since, the sister is arriving and would be home for at least 2 months.

Plus, there is Adele’s 25 being realised in November.

Here’s to having a blast for the remaining days of 2015! Lezzgo!

I am all of her.

I am her silence. But, I’m also her words.

I am her impatience. But, I’m also her ambition(s).

I am her greed. But, I’m also her contentment.

I am her contradictions. But, I’m also her values.

I am her anger. But, I’m also her selfless heart.

I am all of her. My mother.

Where home is.

via

Having left the comfort of 4 walls and plenty of familiar faces for some time now, the notion of home is beginning to strike me as an elusive one. As much as home is where the heart is, home has begun evolving into something else altogether with each passing day.

Home is the place I manage to have a good night of sleep without getting woken up by mosquitos or flies. Home is when I stay at a place long enough to be able to do laundry. Home is when I share my first laugh with a bunch of strangers I had just met. Home is the heart of the stranger that offers you a helping hand seeing you struggle with grocery bags. Home is being familiar with a place that you get stopped by for directions. Home is the moment you fall in love with a sight before your eyes, you forget about snapping the beauty and sharing it with the rest of the world. Home is the welcoming arms of a stranger after having travelled for over 10 hours. Home is a hot shower. Home is that familiar couch in the lounge that made Skype calls bearable, even through lousy internet connection. Home is that mischievous smile of a friend, who tries to peek into my screen each time the boy whispers “I love you”.

As much as there is comfort in having a permanent address called home tagged to your name, the comfort being on the road is far more enticing at the moment. That moment overrides the moments of being homesick, the struggle of being responsible for having food on your plate thrice a day and all the other pains living alone in a new city brings. The road is my home and these strangers are my family for now, and possibly, for some time.

See you on the other side.

Run free, run wild.

 

Heart’s racing.

Barely 5 hours before I stand at the boarding gate with a one-way ticket in hand.

Feet on the ground and yet, I cannot wait to let the castles in my head lift me up.

For the nights ahead of me that are lined with uncertainty, this is a reminder.

Run free, run wild.

This is your choice, this is your life.

Hold nothing back and fear no one.

Let’s feel light (again).

See you on the other side, my love.

OMG 2015!

Today’s the eve of NYE! I still have so many posts pending from my 5-week long travel in Australia and my 7-day Cambodian adventure. I thought the lack of a 9-5 job would translate to me having A LOT of free time. But, I cannot believe that December is almost drawing to a close. I reckon I’ve been busy getting adjusted with the rhythm of routine while spending time with familiar faces.

2014 has been the roughest in terms of friendships. But, having said that, I’m also glad most of them have weathered the tough times fairly well. I’m thankful also, for the courage I had to walk away from a job that was comfortable, but no longer helped me grow and made me happy. I bade my goodbyes, packed my bag and left to do some soul-searching about 4000 miles away from home. That has been by far the best decision I’ve made in a really long while! The highlight of the year was getting my first article published in Tripzilla Magazine!

From clockwise (starting from top left hand corner) – Halong Bay, Vietnam (Feb/Mar), Penang, Malaysia (Apr), Langkawi, Malaysia (Aug), Yangon, Myanmar (June), Great Ocean Road, VIC, Australia (Oct/Nov), Siem Reap, Cambodia (Dec), Adelaide, SA, Australia (Nov), Fraser Island, QLD, Australia (Apr/May), Nha Trang, Vietnam (Sep)

I have never been this excited before for a brand new year unfolding. I’m stoked to be spending the first half of 2015 in… NEW ZEALAND! I’ve got 4 more years to go before I hit 30, which means I’ll be too old for working holiday visa, so I’ve taken another leap of faith into darkness. I’ve got no concrete plans on what I’m going to do and how I’m gonna make decent dollars. All I have with me is a list (that keeps increasing as days pass) of all the places I’ve got to see in North and South Island. #travellerproblems I’m planning to arrive with my 20kg luggage and see where my restless feet take me.

All I wish for is that the year ahead helps me grow in ways I can possibly never imagine. Have a blessed year ahead readers! See you in 2015! Till then, travel safe and live free!

All images belong to Solosingaporean unless otherwise credited for. Please give credit where it’s due.

Strawberry generation?

Taken at Melbourne Star Observation Wheel, Australia, 2011

Learn to be completely be with yourself. Let there be no distractions. Let the waves of thoughts overwhelm you. Let them crash and hit into you. Take the mess, the pain, the confusion. Because after, there will be stillness. Because there will be peace and calm. After. 

So, finally, after close to a month of battling with my thoughts over bus rides, in between my much dreaded afternoon meetings, long nights with the stereo blasting at the background, I made a decision. It’s time to pack and leave. This by far has been one of my toughest decisions to make. But, now that I’ve made it, I daresay, I’ve never felt this free and light before.

Throwing in the towel and deciding to take the plunge without another job offer at hand is every adult’s nightmare. At this very moment, I’m just glad I’m 26 (a month shy) and I can afford to take this plunge. I shudder thinking how different my decision would have been if I was, say, 10 years older?

We are the very people older generations have termed “strawberry generation” as. A friend of mine shared this as her Facebook status recently, “If you dread going to work, you’re spending more than 50% of your waking hours in misery. If you’re gonna work for 40 years, that’s 20 years of teeth-gritting agony. All the money in the world cannot exchange for 20 years of happiness. Besides, happiness is something that you inhabit, not earn.  I believe we should pay our dues, but please pick something that you enjoy so it’ll be worth the investment.  Happiness can start now, don’t wait for it to happen. Make the right choice!”

Charles Bukowski said, find what you love and let it kill you. It’s been 3 years since I graduated from Singapore’s top university (hurhur) and I’m, proud to say, still in the midst of discovering what I love doing while getting paid for. I may never find that ‘perfect’ job. But, I tell myself, each passing day brings me closer to finding out what I don’t want to do for the rest of my life, even if I don’t know what I want to do for the rest of it.

Oh, and of course, we can blame Steve Jobs. After all, the mantra is stay hungry, stay foolish right.

A really long shot at happiness!

I spend all my time dreaming and lusting for my next travel. So, it’s time I get started and do something about it!

 

Not sure how successful my attempt is gonna be but I rather fail after having tried than after not trying at all.

“I don’t know where I am going, but I’m on the way.” – Carl Sagan

One year on.

“We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.”

Here we are standing hand in hand, recalling the whirlwind of days, this time last year. I often find my tracing back footsteps and wondering how different I could have handled things if I had known. Knowing that 2 days later, I will be bidding farewell to another, would I have done more?

My impulsive streak has always lead me to questioning my behaviour, reasoning out my emotions and piecing back the words I spill. Some days, going over everything just makes me spiral. And some days, not thinking makes me enjoy the fleeting moments of happiness that fill my day. I’ve begun to realise the only way to allow yourself to be happy again is to forgive yourself and accept things on its terms instead of ours.

The power of a moment is often not known till it becomes a memory. In a way, that unknown of what lies ahead makes this whole game of life interesting in the first place. We think we are the master of our own destiny that we often forget there is an upper hand above us all.

So, I suppose the only way out is to embrace the pain while you keep moving. After all, it’s almost impossible to witness death without your own life being changed. And, it’s juvenile to think otherwise.