Thinking about 2018
I looked back at 2018 and not sure what had happened. Time passed by in a fuzz.
Largely, I was learning to be a mother and celebrating milestones of my little one. Being a mother takes up a lot of physical, mental and emotional toll.
Motherhood accentuates whatever traits that are in me – the good and the bad. It magnifies personalities of mothers, I see that in myself and my mummy friends. It is like, tough times make you see what a person is truly made of. In the process of raising up a mini me, I came face to face with the hidden facets of me and those I have swept under the carpet. And thus…
Motherhood makes me go through a painful refining process whereby God simmers out my impurities, for example, my impatience. It forced me to die a bit to self and change for the good, for e.g., certain things just can’t be rushed in raising up a child. The perfectionist in me came to realise a truth: No man is perfect, even thyself. No matter how hard I try. Even the good tempered saint would realise she has a temper.
On the good side, someone like me who isn’t chummy with kids can be capable of having so much love for a little one. It is also motherhood that empowered me to be a superwoman. Suddenly I have the courage, tenacity and capabilities to take on the world, to do things I couldn’t before. For example having the shy me navigate the wet market to buy groceries. 😛 Also, with a friendly child in tow, she helps me connect with the people around me, including strangers. She’s almost like an extension of me that sometimes I feel lost without.
For the last quarter of 2018, I was glad I took up the short course of ‘Travel Writing’. Thank God for a husband who can take over the night duty.
I got fresh perspectives of writing from the teacher and classmates. But more importantly, they kind of validate me as a writer. I never quite saw myself as one, feeling inferior even. That’s because of my training (in accounting rather than writing), my bad English grades and grammar in school, negative feedback in the past, and rejected pitches.
Moreover I have never been a creative writer nor a reader in fact. You write what you read, and I prefer to read non-fiction works over creative fiction. You can see that in my writing here. Now I am thinking of switching track to be a creative writer – because in my opinion, it’s a more interesting way to bring ideas across. And from the course, I realised I might have a flair for creative writing and I should continue to work on that. Trying to weave some of this creative narrative in my Joogostyle travel posts. (Okay these are random thinking out loud thoughts.)
Anyway, affirmation of my writings from professionals is encouraging. I never really know where I truly stand with hubby’s praises. Also as a blogger who is comfortably average, I wonder if my writings are good enough. Yet I don’t think I can do all those click bait kind of writing, and I don’t want to suck myself in social media frenzy (given a choice I don’t want to manage these accounts).
By staying true to myself, JoogoStyle doesn’t get viral enough. But I rather write what interests me and just earn pocket money with that. This gave me a glimpse of how an artiste might feel when he is being packaged and marketed to public interests but feeling a disconnect to true self. Think I can’t live with that. Thank God for His providence so we are not in a dire need to earn more money. So that I can be a stay at home mother while writing on the side to feed my creative soul.
Their encouraging feedback on my writings also gave me the credit for the hard work I have put in to improve my craft. As I read my past works, I must admit I’ve improved tremendously from my early years. Of course, I still have lots of room for improvement. And guess a writer is never truly satisfied with his or her own work. There’s always the rewriting. We just need to know when to stop and say it’s good enough.
I had wanted to sign up for MFA (creative writing), but baby happened and so I didn’t. On hindsight, I thank God. I don’t think my writings were matured enough then for such courses and I wouldn’t have thrived in a full length writing course. And after this course, I kind of agree with the critics. For example, whether a writing course is good or not depends on the classmates. Also, being vocal helps you in such classes but unnecessary for a writer writing. Of course, being vocal helps in the marketing of the book, but yet this is such a contrast to the personality of a writer – a thinker.
I am just thanking God for closed doors.
Did an expensive root canal, but had a terrible experience at B9 Dental. With Dr Raymond Lim’s experience, his charges are considered affordable. But definitely not value for money for people who don’t have the time to wait for at least an hour. He operates at weird hours too – from evening till past midnight. I have so much to lament about my root canal experience. Probably I should write a post about it at home.joogostyle.com and warn others. This long and tedious process could have been easily avoided by going to other dentists. If only I did my due diligence.
On another note, like many mothers, my immune system seems to be weaker after being a mother. I fell sick to flu and cough more easily than before. My mummy’s wrist got bad, and my spine had a nagging acute pain. So I visited the doctors numerous times – polyclinic doctors, hand doctors, physiotherapists, and occupational therapists. That’s a dreadful chore for someone who doesn’t like to visit the doctors.
The doctors simply diagnosed me while the therapists were more helpful to improve my condition. Still my wrists hurt, but not serious enough for them to be concerned. So it’s kind of do these suggested exercises, if not, live with the pain. The exercises are quite impossible for a tired and time-starved mum. If I had time and energy to do them, I wouldn’t get these pains in the first place.
So I can only try to do the exercises as much as possible and keep praying for complete healing. Reminding myself not to just succumb to the nagging pains and accept them as part of me… which I found myself slipping into.
All the long, quiet alone time I had with God vanished in busyness. I didn’t even have time for sleep, how to set aside time for meditation of His Word? Of course, if I had the will, I could find a way. But God knows I was so tested and stretched in other areas that I have no more strength left to water my spiritual grounds.
Like I don’t think heroes of faith had long meditative periods with the Bible in the jail during war. But you still see their episodes of faith in the midst of war. I could only guess it’s the accumulative “work” from previous seasons or simply the grace at that moment. Thank God for the previous season where I had the time to sit at His feet and grow deep roots in faith – to soak in His presence and meditate on His word.
I need to cut myself some slack and not be so legalistic and hard on myself. I felt guilty about not doing “quiet time”. It had been drilled so deeply in me that it’s a daily must do otherwise I am a wayward disciple of God. But I think for certain individuals or seasons, that might not necessarily be that way or only way of connecting with God. Though I still think one should connect with God on a daily basis in one way or another.
Like in 2018, my growing and learning of faith was through doing, living and listening instead of reading.
Doing and living: I conversed with God on the go, and learned how to see His hands in all the big circumstances and small matters in life. Through the tears, anguish and sweat of motherhood, I was painfully broken in His comforting arms. Through the smiles, joys and cheers of motherhood, I was carefully restored with His loving hands. Being a mother also gave me a lot of spiritual insights from the perspective of a heavenly Father. Will share some of these insights in due time.
Listening: I listened to sermons and worship songs while I busyed with other stuff. Peripheral benefit: my baby soaked in these heavenly sounds too. I was also learning to listen to the heart and wisdom of other people, to be more people and not task oriented in 2018.
Basically, we need to flow with God to know His plans and ways that are tailored for us. There was indeed a need for Hesed wisdom, the church theme for 2018.
2018 was a year of labouring and growing.
The waters nourished it;Ezekiel 31:4
the deep made it grow tall,
making its rivers flow
around the place of its planting,
sending forth its streams
to all the trees of the field.
And now, 2019 is going to be the best year yet.