Sunday, 8 December 2019

A Blast Of 10 Years

2010 - I had my first ever boyfriend. Things were crazy as we ironed out the creases, learnt about each other and had to learn how to let go of our baggage. But I knew, just like our first date, this guy will never shy away from the horror, the hardships and the pain - he will be there. It was an amazing year of firsts for me and I think for me, it was slowly opening up to someone and trusting them enough to let them in. I fell hard and fast but he made it so easy. It wasn't always smooth sailing and I always say we never had a honeymoon period because we didn't - the first month was messy, the second was just as messy and by the third, we knew we had to work things out or else! And work it out we did. But that's us - we love the messy if it means it will get easier in the future. 

2011 - This was a year of extreme highs and extreme lows. I lost my mother, got engaged, graduated in Economics, got Montycat together with my fiance. It was the year I felt confused and lost all at once. I wanted to be happy and satisfied but I also felt lost and unsure. I felt the space my mother left behind, I felt unsure for the future because now that I had my degree, so what? I was engaged with an amazing man that I wanted to be with for the rest of my life... but was I wife material? Thankfully I realised I have an amazing partner and with Montycat, they gave me purpose and life but towards the end of 2011, I was slowly getting jaded. Life knocked me hard, it robbed me of my innocence, I no longer saw the world as pretty perfect and I no longer believed in an "easy" life.

2012 - I was jobless and I realised Australia wasn't as perfect as I had in my head. I was tired of life, I was tired of trying to be someone I was not. I felt tied down by people who wanted to do "right" - right for them and not for me. I was sick of doing what others thought was the "right thing" and getting burned by it. I finally had enough of the bullshit lies, the pain and the feeling of being lesser than. I cut ties, I left the church, I stood up for myself even if it meant turning my back on everything I grew up knowing. I accepted all my flaws, I stopped chasing the idea of a person I wasn't, I stopped letting people make me feel guilty for not meeting their expectations, I fell in love with myself and I found happiness and peace in the crazy mess of my life because I was finally doing things for me. I started investing in myself and gave into the people and relationships that mattered to me. I married my best friend, we started our lives with nothing, that was difficult and scary, but I started StickgirlProductions because of that nothing. 

2013 - We lived off StickgirlProductions and Hubbycat's work. I hit rock bottom when everything felt like it was going wrong. Things weren't going well - our car got totalled by a careless kid and we were the ones paying for it, money was tight and we did not need the extra expenses and the kicker was when my visa got rejected and I was forced to come home. I came home to KL without my husband and spent the longest 3months apart, our first-ever LDR. But we survived. I realised I was so much tougher and stronger than I gave myself credit for. I learnt to forgive. My husband came back to KL to join me and we set out to start our lives in KL. We joined our family business. Went to Berlin and it was one of the best countries I've ever been to. 

2014 - We got our house together. I oversaw the renovations and it was difficult but also the most fun I had. We got pregnant, I found out in May 2014. I stopped StickgirlProductions because of Carpal Tunnel. I was heartbroken but I was also excited about our baby. I became a whale -.- 

2015 -  LittleLim was born in January. My life turned upside down as I struggled hard to be a mother and myself. There are many days of crying in 2015 and a lot of "I can't do this" "I don't want to do this" but I was always supported and loved even in my weaknesses. Things got better as I started understanding and accepting things. I loved my daughter and I also loved pre-baby me. I felt like I lost myself after I fought so hard to find her. I loved my daughter but also resented her for what I had become. But that was selfish and I was hormonal. It took me 6 months to say enough is enough and to start being a mom, the best mom to my child. I learnt that being a mother doesn't rob me of my identity, it extends it. I am not subtracting, I'm multiplying. 

2016 - I became a SAHM. My life revolved around my daughter. I needed this year to be completely focused on my daughter as I had a horrible first year with her. I needed to know my daughter and it was the best decision made. I'm thankful Hubbycat and my father let me do this. I stepped away from work and became a mom completely. I found a group of amazing mom friends who became my support group and their children would become LittleLim's first friends. I started writing more. I started journaling more. I traded drawing for writing and fell in love with my first love again. I learnt that I am a highly creative person and I need to be creative. I became pregnant again. 

2017 - LittleLim started school. My daughter did not cry. We prepared to be parents to two little kids. We laughed that we must be crazy to do this again. We have NO IDEA how crazy it was going to get. Work started getting busier for Hubbycat as he started travelling more and leaving me and LittleLim alone. I started to learn to be more independent. I started driving more. I went to my doctor appointments alone. LittleJLim was born in June. The same birthdate as my father. We started the second half readjusting to life with two kids and Hubbycat being more needed in the business. I'm thankful to have my mother in law with me for a year. She helped me so much and made my transition so much easier as I was able to have time for myself on top of being there for my kids. She was the reason my motherhood the second round was amazing. 

2018 - In our busy-ness, Hubbycat and I started drifting apart. We were just together as parents. With work, LittleLim and a newborn- life was just crazy. 2018 was weird, we were there but not there. We were living two lives and not one of the same. We were living two different lives, two different stresses, two different needs and we didn't know how to reconcile both, perhaps we forgot and we took each other for granted. In some crazy sense, we didn't want to burden each other and add on to the stress but by doing so, we were pushing each other further apart. We were tip-toeing around each other and walking on eggshells. It was only a matter of time, it would fall apart. A ticking time bomb that did explode. It was a weird time but thankfully we had a strong foundation. It all held together by our promise to stand by each other through thick and thin. We had work to do. We had to relearn how to be with each other, how to be a couple and find our way back into love. We fell apart only to come back stronger together. I realised how fragile things can get with neglect and I vowed to never allow it to happen again. I turned 30 this year and I loved it. I also went back into the family business and I loved it. I enjoyed learning things again and I realised I was lucky to have supportive colleagues. LittleLim started gymnastics as well and mandarin classes. I was now juggling being at work and my children and I would not trade one for the other. Both made me feel alive and I wanted to do both. 

2019 - Hubbycat and I are a team with so much under our belt. We entered 2019 with so much hope. 2019 was our year but we did not know-how. We just felt it deep down and with my favourite "One Day At A Time" motto. In 2019, we officially became business partners as we started Cili Padi together. I went in feeling overwhelmed but with an amazing partner and one of the best team, we built it up from the ground. It was our third baby but it was one of the proudest moments to see it grow. I experienced my first rejections, my first failures and my first sales pitches here - it was humbling but also a good learning curve. I learnt to not take it so personal and that sometimes a "No" just means not now. I learnt a lot from Cili Padi and that experience is something I wouldn't get anywhere else. The kids are growing well, LittleLim graduated from pre-school, LittleJLim growing faster each day as he participates in work with me. I made it a point to get the kids involved in our business - whether it's hanging around meetings or just being in a work environment - they were there. I started meditation and it is life-changing. It's so grounding and it helps me see things clearer. It helps me organise my thoughts and feelings and makes me be a more whole person.


As we step into a new year I can say that hard times are guaranteed. But so are happy times. Just as I've learnt in 2012, you are always tougher than you give yourself credit for and that there is always a solution. It isn't always the easiest, but sometimes the hardest solution is the best way. Enjoy the happy because you work hard to get there. Work hard and persist in the hard times because how you handle the hard determines the good. 

If you want true happiness and peace, you need to accept yourself, connect with yourself and take responsibility of yourself, your happiness, your success and your failures. No one owes you a life, no one owes you happy and no one is responsible for you. You are responsible for you. You are responsible for yourself, your relationships, your successes, your career, your passion. Stop blaming others for your failures or your unhappiness - it's not their responsibility. It's yours and yours alone. 

Whatever is install for us next, like every year, I'll go in with thankfulness and gratitude. It can be better but it can also be worse. And I'm thankful it isn't worse. I'm thankful for the people in my life that helped me grow, support me, cheer for me, encourage me and stood by me. I'm thankful for the people who let me be me and love me for me. I'm thankful for the opportunities, the openings and the experiences that have enriched me. I am thankful for family and friends. I'm thankful for Hubbycat, the kids and Montycat. 

Most of all, I'm thankful to God. He has never once betrayed my trust and He has never broken His promise to me - He has protected my heart always. He is my shield, my comfort, my protector and my giver. 

Here's to 2020!


Monday, 25 November 2019

Fighting In Relationships - NORMAL

"I'm glad I found someone who I can fight with"

So apparently this line caused some drama but I still stand by it. So here's what my relationship looks like, Hubbycat and I fight. In fact when we first got together, we fought so much! The first 6 months was just struggling to find common ground. Today we fight lesser but we still fight and sometimes have explosive fights. Yes, we love each other, but we still fight. This is what happens when you have two very strong individuals from different upbringings and different ways of doing things. Fights happen. 

I know I know. Tell anyone that you had a fight with your partner and the advice you get is "break it off, it's a sign you're incompatible". If you're in a relationship, I am positive you've heard the age-old advice "don't ever fight with your spouse" and if you're a girl "always submit to your husband. Don't argue with him". You know, that's the shittiest advice I've ever heard. Mmhmm, I said it. SHITTY ADVICE. 

Firstly, no one is more superior than the other in a relationship. It's not the one who has the dick, or the one who brings in the money, or the one who is better educated or the one who is able to get pregnant or the one who "does more" in life - SCREW IT. No one is better or more superior or inferior in a relationship. 

Secondly, a relationship is a partnership. Two people. Two voices. Two minds. One decision. One life. What that means is, it takes two people to come to an agreement. There's no my way and my way alone. There's no I lead and you follow. It's a team effort and with teams a lot of compromising, sacrificing and tolerating. It's not you do you, I do me scenario. Not in a relationship. When someone is being stifled, robbed of their decisions and identity, taken advantage of, treated like a doormat - that's not a relationship. That's abuse - you're ultimately robbing someone of their identity and voice. 

Thirdly, fights are part and parcel of life. Fights mean you believe in something strongly. Fights mean that there's something you haven't considered about me in your plan and I need you to listen. You can't do life avoiding fights and you can't do relationships tiptoeing around each other and avoiding all fights because it's not fair to you, it's not fair to your partner. 

So my advice is NOT to avoid fights. It's bound to happen one way or another. If you keep tiptoeing and suppressing yourself - it's only going to come out in one big blow or it's going to manifest itself in other ways. SO do yourself a favour and stop it. 

My advice instead is to LEARN HOW TO FIGHT.

1. Choose Your Battles

If you fight for the sake of fighting - why are you together?! Just because you love chocolate milk and your partner loves strawberry milk - do you always have to get your way? You ok bro/sis? Compromise. If you're in a relationship with someone who always fights over the same things / refuses to compromise / refuses to take chances - this is where I would say walk away. What is the point of being in a relationship if you can't compromise or worst someone who chooses to fight you on every chance? Choose what is compromisable and what is not. Some fights are worth fighting - like your principles, your believes, your safe zones, your identity, your futures. These are things that needs to be hashed out, talked about, discussed and identified so that your lives are enriched and so everyone knows where they stand. 

2. The Point Is To Find A Solution / Comprmise

There's no point fighting if your aim is to win the damn argument. Then you're just being selfish and inconsiderate. The fact that there is a fight means it matters enough to the other person. The point of an argument is to find a solution or compromise. Know why you're fighting. Don't go into an argument just for the sake of fighting or getting your way - if you're just doing that, then don't bother fighting because they will always insist they are right and you will insist you are right and it's just a fight that has no end. 

3. Be respectful

Just because you're fighting doesn't give you the right to be disrespectful. I love fights because it shows how mature a person in. It also shows if the person cares for you. If a person cares for you, it doesn't matter how heated an argument is, they never pull you or tear you down. They don't belittle you and rob you of your security. They don't throw threats in hopes to scare you into obedience and they want to know why you are so fired up, upset and try to understand where you're coming from. A good indication of how mature your partner is by the way they handle an argument. If someone doesn't respect you, they don't love you enough. 

4. Sleep on It

If ever an argument gets out of hand and emotions are too strong - step out of the argument. Go sleep. Let it simmer down. Rationalise your thoughts, your arguments, your reasonings. The idea is to voice out your thoughts in a way that they get it and that you both can workaround. If you're hurt because he's been ignoring you - think about how you're feeling and try putting it into words without making him go on the defensive. There are many roads to Rome - choose the road that is the less destructive and most constructive. 

5. It's A Deal Breaker When It's A Deal Breaker

You have your deal-breakers - when violence is used, when your safety is torn down, when off-limit items are dragged in... at anytime it is crossed, leave. Never rationalise that it will get better, it was impulsive, it was necessary. Nothing that doesn't have your best interest is necessary. Just the same, if you can't keep your partner's "safety" during an argument, you have to question whether you're in the relationship for your own selfish reasons or because you really can't live without the other person. Because trust me when you love someone, you would never ever ever want them to feel threatened, scared or forced into something. It just does not feel good even if you finally get your way. 

6. Reconciliation

This is the outcome you want out of all arguments and fights. A common ground where you go "I understand where you're coming from and I will do.... so that we both can win." When both of you can win, that's the best and it strengthens the relationship. It makes you understand each other better. Both of you are able to keep your identity and needs intact and no one feels undermined and stepped on. Hug it out, kiss it out, make up sex - whatever it is you do, do it. Strengthen the relationship and remember that the aftercare is so important to reinforce to your partner how much you still care. 


Saturday, 16 November 2019

The Things My Kids Do To Manipulate Me

Here's what they don't tell you about children. That innocent little cherub with big eyes, puffy cheeks and drool coming down their chins. THOSE children are NOT that innocent. In fact, I'm going to put it out there, they're master manipulators. MASTER MANIPULATORS! It's like they woke up one day and suddenly realised... "I can't talk their language so I gotta act it up to get my way." I thought I've seen it all until my kids got me once, twice, three times and then, waitaminute, I caught on. I don't know about your kids, but damn, my kids are super-villains all wrapped up in cuddly pink rainbow tutu skirts and baby shark t-shirts *rolls eyes*.

So here my dear people are a list of things my kids do to manipulate me. I honestly can't make this stuff up and they certainly DID NOT learn it from me. 

1. The Fake Gag

This is the one that got me thinking about this list because: number 1, I never fake gag in front of my kids before and number 2, they are damn pro at it! So, the other day I was having a nice sweet piece of tomato. Hey, tomatoes are awesome ok? LittleJLim loves it but LittleLim is a whole different story. I thought maybe I should let her try it, maybe she'll like it. NOPE. One tiny bite, like so tiny it didn't even dent the tomato, and her cheeks puffed up and she started making gagging noises. *UGH* Like seriously, if you happened to just walk in on that, you'd probably think I'm some vile mom that fed her kids rotten food. I'm not just talking tomatoes! It can even be something they usually LOVE eating or are a delight to eat. Like watermelon, apples, cookies... if they don't want it... cue: fake gag. LIKE HONESTLY kids, WHERE DO YOU LEARN THIS?!!!!

2. I'm Sleepy

My kid is two. TWO FREAKING YEARS OLD but he acts like he's thirteen. I'd tell him to do something he doesn't want to like clean up after himself, pick the toy up, eat his food, stop throwing things on the floor and when he thinks he's heard enough he goes "I'm sleepy!" and closes his eyes *breathes fire*. Initially, I thought he was tired.... and then I realised I was being played because when I carry him or put him in the crib, he isn't so tired anymore. Also, it started getting old when he just woke up 20 minutes ago *rolls eyes*. SERIOUSLY, you should try it. Don't like a conversation, just go to sleep. 

3. You ALWAYS buy this for me

We are in a supermarket and LittleLim sees a box of candy that she wants. 

"Mommy! Can I have this?"

"But mommy.... you ALWAYS buy this for me."

I HAVE NOT SEEN THIS BOX OF CANDY BEFORE!!!! WHAT are you talking about child?! Do you have another mother I do not know about who's buying you candy I have not seen before because I did not get you this always let alone before? And I realised... this isn't the first time a line like that was used. She used it when we wanted to get Hello Kitty Pasta and Pororo Juice and I said no. She used that line and I gave in because those, I have ALWAYS bought for her. DAMN, these kids learn fast. 

4. I love you mommy / I'm sorry mommy.

Yells at kids because it's been 15 minutes and the place looks like a pigstye. 
Kids want toys at the toy shop.
Kids don't want to go to school / extra classes. 
Yells at kids for not wanting to take a bath / sleep / eat. 

"I love you mommy" / "I'm sorry mommy" - and suddenly I'm a pile of mush who has forgotten why I'm mad / why I said no and why am I saying yes now?!!! GAH! They did it again. Damnit! Hahaha. I kid, I don't usually fall for this trick because I'm the bad guy in this parenting gig. You know who does fall for it, Hubbycat. Hubbycat always falls for the "I love you daddy". 

5. Stomach Ache

This one annoys me because I cannot tell if it's real or fake. There was one time where I thought it was fake and LittleLim started vomiting on my bed. And because I cannot tell the difference, I always fall for it because I'd rather be safe than sorry -.-! How is this used? Here let me show you.

"Time for bed!"
"Mommy... my stomach ache" 

"Ok, go toilet" 

After a while... "Mommy, it's not coming out." Then she goes out and plays some more. 

WHAT JUST HAPPENED?!! Do I put her to bed? Do I let her play and maybe she can go to the toilet later? UGHHH!!! I DON'T KNOW!!! But you know what I know, if 3 minutes nothing happens, they are sleeping. Of course... they would have felt like they won.... but only for 3 minutes because mommy always ALWAYS gets the last say.

So yes, my kids - MASTER MANIPULATORS. There's the fake cough, fake tears, fake pain pain.... I can go on and on but these 5 really blew my mind because it's so diabolical and pretty brilliant. I honestly don't know where they learnt it, I don't know how their young brains managed to put one and one together - I HONESTLY don't know. But I know this, having kids sharpens your mind because you have to one-up them and of course, it's hella interesting and funny when the moment is over. When you're quietly lying in bed and suddenly you burst out laughing and giving credit to your kids for being pretty brilliant. 

Ah, kids, you make my parenting life so colourful. 


Thursday, 14 November 2019

This Is Why I Write.

In the world of instant social media, writing a blog has become secondary for most. I get it, it's easier to snap a photo, upload and write a lengthy caption (for writers) or just plug in a sentimental quote. I too turn to social media, in particular, Instagram to get my voice out there. But when push comes to shove, I'm still a writer at heart and this is where home is. 

I love pictures but I love stories even more. I love writing these stories and in my own narrative. Also, I love that I get to share these stories with my children one day and most of all, you. You who took the time to sit down and read this. My hope is that these stories of mine inspire, encourage and maybe enlighten you. That hasn't changed since day 1 I started writing on such a public platform.

Life isn't always sunshine and rainbows. If my blog has failed to show that, I have failed to portray the realness of my life. My life is not all rainbows and sunshine. There are days motherhood, juggling all the different roles and just being a woman tires me out. There are days where I doubt myself, my abilities and feel unworthy of anything. There are days where the emotions get out of hand and drown me. Somedays, it all feels too much, too tiring, too frustrating and too draining - and this is where sometimes my own writing speaks back to me and I hope it does you too. 

Life is tough. I've never met a life or a person free of trouble, risks or conflicts. But I always stand firm on these principles to guide me through. And I'm going to write it here for future Ally, my kids and you.

1. Self-Love
To love yourself gives you the ability to love others. To love people and their flaws, you first have to accept that you are less than perfect yourself and know that even with all these imperfections, you deserve to be loved. Self-love is the ability to know what is good for you and what is not, what you deserve and what you do not. For the love of all things good in life, don't let others drain you until you have nothing left in life to give yourself. Take care of yourself, your needs and your wellbeing first and foremost. Don't let small people make you feel inferior by calling you selfish for choosing yourself first. 

It's not selfish until the love for yourself overrides your love for others. Selfishness is poison when you no longer see the need in others, when you no longer care about your neighbour and when you are blinded by your own self.

2. Peace
Is what you're doing, the person you're with, the people you surround yourself with, the job you're doing - does it give you peace? Peace, I always believe is more important than happiness. Happiness is fleeting. Peace is never fleeting. You can face your biggest trouble, fear and setback and still have peace. Peace is the knowledge that you have done all you can in your power, you are meant to be where you are in this point in life and that what happened needs to happen. Peace allows you to go with the flow without struggling against the tide. Peace allows you the face your enemies and hurdles with clarity and not with bitterness and hatred. Peace allows you to be whole. I believe the saying "Protect Your Heart" means to protect your peace. 

3. There Is No Finish Line
Setbacks? Failures? Endings? 
Have had it. Faced it. Dealt with it. 

You see here is what I learnt, the only finish line is when you're dead. As long as you still have breath, as long as you still have a sound mind, as long as you are willing to put one foot in front the next, you're not at the finish line. It doesn't matter where you start - some have an early start, some have a slower start - the most important is also not the end. Because the ending for all of us is the same - death. So what is important? The middle, the race. Some stop halfway and lose out on the milestones, rewards and coins along the way. Some keep going and get all the points and coins and make it in life with new things, new rewards, new milestones. Who is better? Obviously, the one who kept going. So while things may feel like a dead-end, it is not. It is not the end. One chapter closes another for sure will open. Just keep going. 

This is why I write. Because things like this are better on paper and will always be here.
Remember that above all, you're you. Your life is not my life and my life is not your life. Take what you need, leave what you don't. I always believe that everyone who crosses your path is put there for a reason and for a season. Some last your whole lifetime. Others are just there for that season and then it's time to move on. 

I wish you peace. Peace to know what needs to be done. Peace to know what has happened, needed to happen. Peace to know that imperfection doesn't make you lesser. Peace to know that you cannot control others and circumstances, but you can control yourself, your mind, your emotions and your reactions. 


Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Our Short Phuket Weekend

Sun. Sand. Sea.

Spent the weekend in Phuket where the sun shone fiercely on our skin. A very warm welcome, we did not mind one bit. After our Autumn holiday in NYC and DC, the sun was what we needed to even out our tans and finally get them legs equally tanned. It was also an amazing time for the kids as they finally got to live out their beach baby dreams. 

#TheTwoLims finally overcame their disgust for sand and got down and literally dirty in Racha Islands. A 30minute speed boat ride from Pattaya, we were greeted with clear blue-green waters and white sands. In no time, tiny fingers and toes were digging and sifting through fine sand that felt silky and warm under the sun, little hands making "sandballs" for sandball fights and curiosity getting the better as sand became food for the littlest one. 


Soon it was time to wash it all off with a dip in the sea. That was a no-no as waves were too scary for tiny people who could easily get swept away. Salty tears mixed with saltwater were soon replaced with smiles as Mommy & Daddy became human floats. Over the waves we jumped and "seawater tasted yucky!" was proclaimed over and over. Soon, mommy and daddy got fed up of hearing "I want to go back to the sand" and goodbye to the sea we went. 


Happier on land they will be. Wished we had brought their pails and spades to build sandcastles. But it's okay, kids being kids, EVERYWHERE is fun. Even on half-buried logs that could be used as a makeshift beam. Gymnastics paying off! Soon, they were baking sand cookies, sand cakes, sand sand and even more sand, I lost count. 

After lunch at a restaurant beside a monitor lizard habitat, hidden deep within - we hopped on to our boat again and off we went to Coral Beach. Instead of getting off, we opted to stay on the boat and follow daddy go snorkelling. LittleLim was so excited and then she got cold feet when she saw how BIG the ocean was. Even after telling me a million times that Ryan has done snorkelling before, I guess Ryan isn't convincing enough (if you know, you know). 

So we sat on the boat, ate cakes, take OOTD photos and listened to music while LittleJLim snoozed to the sea breeze and the lull of the boat gently rocking with the waves. This I could do more of! So relaxing to be surrounded by clear blue sea and green mountains. Below are fishes and corals. Above, blue skies and bright sun. To be reconnected with nature once again.

And then LittleLim turned to me and told me, "Mommy, we need to protect all of this!" Ah, finally all our environmental conscious decisions and discussions are paying off. My mama heart is proud and even more determined to do my part because LittleLim and their children should be able to enjoy all of this too. All this is not just for me and you, it's for them too. Our future. 

The land above and sea below, what an amazing time it was. I didn't realise how badly I needed this short getaway to refresh my mind and views of nature until I returned. My body may be here in KL, but I think I left a little part of me back there. Where the sea is blue, the sand is white and nature all around. I guess some part of me will always belong to the sea. 

Thank You Army & Banks - our Thai Boys that kept us safe and sound throughout the trip. Fed us well and were really good with the kids. We appreciate the good work you & your team do.

Racha Island & Coral Island (Phuket)
via Chayanon Marine Co.Ltd one day tour.


Tuesday, 29 October 2019

#LittleLimOOTD : Capitol Hill & Botanical Gardens DC

Beautiful autumn weather in Washington DC.
Explored Washington Capitol Hill where we admired the administration building - the Capitol and made a quick stop at the Botanical Gardens nearby. 

LittleLim had heaps of fun exploring the Botanical Garden. We learnt about the different types of plant habitats, we saw some weird flowers and some really familiar ones like our national flower  - the Hibiscus / Bunga Raya, we pretended to be a farmer sowing the ground and we spotted some wild dinosaurs too!

Definitely one of those places that is a must go with kids LittleLim's age. They're young and curious enough yet smart enough to not pull flowers off plants >.< haha!


Yellow dress: Zara Kids
Tights: NEXT kids
Toca Life shoes: HnM

1. United States Botanic Garden, Washington DC
Address: 100 Maryland Ave SW, Washington, DC 20001, USA

2. United States Capitol
Address: First ST SE, Washington, DC 20004, USA


Wednesday, 23 October 2019

#LittleLimOOTD : Flightmode

Decided to start documenting LittleLim's outfits again because I realised we lost SO many beautiful outfits that she's now outgrown and all I have are memories of it.

This was what LittleLim wore on our return flight from the USA.

Here's a tip for mamas who are travelling with independent kids who are always walking off on their own. Dress them up in bright and differentiating colours, and use unique accessories because in packed flights and airports, you want to spot your kid instantly. 

Also, pack a jacket in your bag because it gets chilly up in the sky.
Happy Travels!

Dress with bow sleeves: Zara Kids
Ribbed leggings: NEXT
Rainbow headphones: Smiggle
Shoes (not shown): H&M


Monday, 21 October 2019

The Road To Self-Discovery At Any Age

At 31, I'm learning that there is so much left in the world for me. I just returned from the USA and one thing that stood out for me this trip is space exploration. For the longest time, I thought we have explored the moon to it's fullest. I thought we landed on the moon, done our discoveries and that was that - we figured out the moon. To the extent that when I learnt other countries are still sending things up in space to figure out the moon, I was less than interested or excited. So naive. 

Here's some context if you had the same thinking as me. The moon is not big, only a quarter of the size of the earth BUT still big enough that one cannot just walk from one end of the moon to the other. It's not the size of the Olympic swimming pool, stadium or the largest shopping centre in the world. It's one end of Australia to the other big. Just as you cannot walk across Australia, you cannot just walk across the moon. Not forgetting how heavy and limited mobility in spacesuits, it will take a VERY VERY long time for one to walk across the moon. So really, where our beloved Neil Armstrong landed was probably just the tip of the moon. The amount of walking he did, probably walking the length of Central Park. So imagine how much is out there left to discover! No wonder countries are still interested to discover the moon, what more the Darkside of the moon. The part that's hidden. 

Anyway, the reason why I'm saying this is because at 31, I realised, I may be an adult, have experienced quite a bit of life BUT in context, I've barely scratched the surface. It's arrogant of me to think I've known all and seen all. At 31, life has really just started and just like the moon, I still have so much of my life to explore, so much of my future is unknown and so much on my timeline that is in the dark. It's naive and stupid to stop searching, stop learning, stop discovering and stop living just because I feel like I've known more things than I do yesterday. It just doesn't work that way. 

So here are some things I've learnt one should do regardless of age. Here's the funny thing, life doesn't end until we draw our last breath. I don't know how society managed to put time limitation of us - get married before 30, be successful before 50, retire by 65... who says you have to meet those timelines. Time is so relative, some of us may live until 2 days, some 30 years, some 65, some 85, some 110... if that's the case, then those limits are deeply flawed. If anything I've learnt - life isn't about meeting timelines and deadlines, it's this - it's about finding yourself, the world we live in, being a person in the world that makes it better for the rest of humanity whether it's your circle of 3 friends, your society or the world - you have your calling and life is about finding that and lastly, feeling fulfiled when you lived your purpose. And as long as you have breath, you still have life to find that purpose and in the process yourself. The sooner one starts to discover, the more one feels complete. For me, it took me 21 years. My childhood is messy, ugly and confusing but I'm glad because it forced me to find me. At 21, when I found myself, everything clicked. And here is what I believe helps.

1. Read

Novels. Biographies. Textbook. Comics. Smut. 
I never say no to a book. Even if it's a difficult read. Even if I feel my soul is weeping after the book. Even when I get troubled. I never say never. I grew up with church people telling me to burn books because of themes that were not "edifying", I still read it. Yes, your soul feeds on what you give it to eat. But you know what, if you don't understand the darkness, the ugly, the evil and the disturbed - you fail to process that part when it comes knocking at your door. Just because you don't expose yourself to it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Don't be a child playing hide and seek - just because they can't see you, they think you can't see them. Just because you turn a blind eye to the evil outside doesn't mean evil won't find you. I love books because they give you a perspective without needing to "learn from experience".  Now, here's the most important part - don't read without thinking. Process, digest and dig deep. And when you do that, regardless of what book you pick up, whether it's a novel or a dirty book - you learn about people. You learn about skills. You sharpen yourself. You discover yourself. Reading helped me find me - I found myself in quotes, in the real stories in History books, in the bible, in self-management books. The more you expose yourself, the more you discover.

2. Be Intentional

Stop teasing. Stop living a double life. Stop being someone you're not just to get the likes, the approvals, the positions, the love. Just stop. I asked myself this question and have been asking it every morning: "If you had no social limitations, expectations and rules on how to act, what to believe, who you should be - would you still be you?" For me, my answer will always be I am me. What you see is what you get. I will not bow down to get the money or status, I will not sell my soul and my peace to make it big or be in good graces, I will not be nice just so people won't get offended by me and I will not butter up someone I hate just to have them on my side. I used to have a flaw - my family. I always thought I was flawed because I could never be what they wanted me to be and for the longest time, I grew up hating myself. Obviously, at 21, I changed all that. Today, I still stand by it - I am not a mistake. I may not be perfect but I have accepted and come to peace with it and I will admit to it. I would never say I am better than anyone nor will I deny my flaws. If God created me to be what they wanted me to be, I shouldn't be feeling so unfulfilled, unhappy and failing. With intention, I chose to live not as what people wanted me to be, but who I wanted and knew I was meant to be. Relearning was hard but with it came success, peace, happiness and blessings. Be intentional with your life - you are who you are meant to be and if it doesn't feel right, dig deep and find out why. If you're like me, you'll discover your flaws but you'll also discover your strengths, you'll learn to keep your flaws in check, you'll learn to accept your flaws, love yourself and stop giving useless excuses and blaming the world for the flaws you have.

3. Know Your Worth

I will always tell you to choose kindness. Be selfless. Be open. Be accepting. Be nice. Be polite. Why? Because it's the right thing to do. BUT, I also have a caveat. Never let anyone take advantage of you twice. If someone doesn't value your time, company, kindness and person - walk away and never let them ever be able to hurt you, belittle you, disrespect you again. If they don't value you and you're still hanging around them hoping they'll change or finally treat you well, you're just showing that you don't value yourself. If you don't value yourself, no one will value you. Which is why I am very particular about the company I surround myself. Even with my family. You don't contact me on any regular day and suddenly when you need money you come knocking on my door - you won't see me. I'm not cruel, I just value myself more. You take my generosity, kindness and love and trample on it and then have the guts to call me names - you will not see me again. My pride, self-worth and kindness are better showered on others who treasure me. Life is limited, it's long but it's limited. If you keep giving yourself away short, you will soon feel burnt out, bitter and resentful. And if you think you're always giving but no one is returning it - stop and think. Maybe it's your company, maybe it's you. You could be the problem - you're just too draining. You take more than you give. Step out of the victim mentality and again, dig deep. 

4. Dig Deep

Like the moon exploration - the surface is always the first to be discovered. Yes you'll fail big and you'll fail small in the discovery but you'll get there. But if you want to go to the Darkside, if you want to have full control over yourself, if you want to find purpose - you have to dig deep. Put yourself out there, go to the places where no one has ventured before and you may not see everything in your lifetime, maybe you will - but what I know is this, the more you uncover, the more the pieces fit together. The more whole you feel and the more complete it feels. I don't really know how to explain the feeling - but if you know, you know. Congrats. If you don't, you have yet to experience it and perhaps, you haven't gone deep enough. But fair warning, the deeper you go, the uglier it gets. It's darker, it's colder, it's harsher BUT it's also more rewarding and beautiful than what is on the surface. 

5. Don't Stop

Don't stop learning. Don't stop discovering. Don't stop travelling. Don't stop learning. Don't stop trying. Don't stop living. 

Like space discovery, you might not find something today, or tomorrow or 30 years later - but one day something just shows up. Something becomes possible. Something happens. Don't give up. Nothing is ever built in a day. Ask anyone - even babies take 10 months from conception to be created. The human body takes 10months to be formed - what more the human spirit, mind and soul? It's a life time. A long time. One that has no end. The more you learn, the more you live - the more you find and see. I always believe that nothing is mindless if you make it intentional and purpose-driven.

Good luck. 

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Moving On Is Not Forgetting

"Does it get easier?"

"Yes, yes it does."

I whispered into her hair as I held on to her. This broken soul. This beautiful being who is now a fractured mess. Shattered into many tiny pieces before me. Eyes hollow and throat scratchy from all the crying as she searches for a reprieve of the punishment upon her that she had not seen coming. How did she become this? Life. Life happened. Life and all it's unfairness, life and all it's friends took something that didn't belong to them. Life pushed this strong, powerful person to her knees, begging and sobbing. Life rendered her into this person and she didn't stand a chance. No way to turn back time. No chance to erase what was done. No means to reliving the beauty before the mess other than the safe confines of her mind. Life happened. Life robbed. Life took. 

I stand here in the present looking back into the past, and in my mind, that would be how I would have done it. That conversation between the present me and the past me who feels the loss, the pain, the uncertainty. Whatever that hurt is, where I am standing today, I will tell past me regardless of the circumstances- whether it is mom's passing, whether it was that moment everything was taken away, whether it was that moment when I knew that my time was over - whatever the circumstance, that "it gets easier". I would tell her that. It always does. It is never going to always feel overwhelming and claustrophobic. One day it will feel like you can share your space with this feeling. One day it will feel like a naggy aunty that you've learnt to accept as part of your life. One day it will get easier because moving on is part of living life. One day you'll see the death of your soul as that very moment you were born anew. One day, that pain will amount to something. Not today, but someday. 

But I will also tell her that while moving on gets easier, the pain doesn't. Regardless of whether you've come to terms and accept what has happened, the pain still aches. That feeling of loss is so real. Whether it's 8 years, 15 years or 20 years - it still stings when you relive that moment. When you think of their smile, their words, the moment, the loss, the unfairness - it hurts. It hurts to the core because it mattered, you changed and that was one moment in life you had no control over. One moment in life that happened too sudden, too quick and nothing you could have done to change it. It will always be there as you walk towards the future, the past remains along with all the brokenness. The moment your thoughts drift off to the past, the tears flow, the sting feels just as it was and you just want to rip your heart out. 

Remember this - it happened. That pain doesn't disappear. You are not weak for hurting. If anything, you are perfect. You are okay. You will be okay. Trust me because that pain means that you cared enough, loved enough, felt enough, fought enough. The loss of that person, thing, opportunity, moment - mattered to you. Celebrate that you cared, appreciate the moments and learn to live with the pain. Embrace it, don't hide from it. It isn't all bad, it isn't all wrong. Pain is a coping mechanism and pain is acceptable. Whoever says time heals the pain, never knew the pain from losing something so important and precious unfairly. One doesn't just bounce back from that - even the bravest soldiers who go through the war comes back changed. Your life changed. You are no longer the same. 

But never let that pain hold you back. Never. It is only as powerful as you let it be. Don't forget it, but don't let it hold you hostage. You are strong enough to get up, not today, maybe not tomorrow but one day, if you keep pushing forward, it will get easier. And one day, that pain won't feel as suffocating. That pain won't be as overwhelming. I dare say, sometimes you don't even realise it's still there until something triggers it up. But it will get better. 

I see you hurting. I see you broken. I see you fighting. I see you crying. I know the heart is a resilient thing. I know the soul is strong. Focus on you, self-care and self-heal. You got this. One day at a time. One day you will be looking at your past self and telling her, it does get easier. 


Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Don't Stop

Two words that always keeps me going. 
Two words that some days feel like empty words.
Two words that give me courage.
Two words that will always remind me I am strong.
Two words that sometimes feel like an insult.
Two words that carry more history than most words.

Don't Stop. 

Life has a crazy way of pulling you out of contentment and throwing you into the deep end. Life has a crazy way of bringing you back down to the ground when you feel like you're soaring. Life has a stupid way of reminding you how small you are in the grand scheme of things and YET, yet, in that tiny world or space, whatever is felt, feels so big you cannot ignore it. Life in more ways than not truly and sincerely sucks. Even when I am at my happiest and when I feel an overwhelming sense of gratefulness and thankfulness, I never forget that life is just waiting to grab at it and any chance it can take, it will. Everything can be taken away in a heartbeat. I am not wishful or naive to think that life is beautiful. I've lived enough to know that life is truly a thief.

When everything comes apart and what comes after - the pain, the guilt, the worry, the horror, the sadness, the disappointment, the frustration, the sense of isolation and loneliness, the quietness, the despair - the deepest of nights, you have a choice. A choice to give up or a choice to move forward. Here is where you have to decide and from my own experiences, I learnt this. If it matters enough, don't stop. If it is important, don't stop.

The scary part for me is not knowing what is behind the door. The anxiety of not being able to control what is ahead and the fear of making a wrong decision and falling further down the hole. But the knowledge of not doing anything and not giving myself an opportunity to change it, scares me even more. So I don't stop. I keep going. I keep breathing. I keep trying. I keep learning. I keep living.

Lately, I had a moment. A moment of self-doubt. A moment of insecurity. A moment of weakness. Things weren't going as smoothly as I wanted it to be going. I was frustrated, annoyed and just tired. I took it to my Hubbycat. I wanted to be cuddled, coddled and have my pity party moment. Instead, the man looked me in the eye and said "Are you a quitter? If you are, you aren't the woman I married." OUCH. But the man is right, I am not a quitter. My whole life is a testament of how I overcame to get to where I am today.

I beat living on AUD15 a day because we had no more money and saved enough for our wedding in the span of 6 months. I beat all the negative opinions others had about me and came out on top, proving myself. I beat all the "it won't work" "you will regret this" "you will look back on your life and wished you did things differently" and turned it around to "I have done it" "I don't regret it" "I will not change anything in my life". I beat motherhood- the one thing I said is the hardest thing I've ever had to do, I beat the loneliness, the I can't do this, the doubts and the "I am a sucky mother" to where I am today - confident, sure and I'm doing this mom thing my way. If I can face my hardest moments and turn it around, I can do almost anything.

I am many things but a quitter is not one of them. I am many things but irresponsible is not one of them. I am many things - selfish, confident, arrogant, annoying, slow, naive, irritating but I am not someone who will take a beating and not get up and fight back. I am willing to learn, I am willing to fight back, I am willing to do the hard work and the time because "Don't Stop." I know "Don't Stop" because I can't stop. I can't stop because nothing happens when I don't move. There is no magic in the world that doesn't require a spell first. There is no miracle in the world that doesn't require prayer. There are no rewards if there are no sacrifices. I understand this completely. That is life.

The world tells you to be quick, to rush, to run and do that, but never think that something is "too late". Time is on your side. Truly and always. Screw life deadlines and that "you must accomplish something by this age" or "you're at your prime" and all that. Your time is yours to set. Your fight is yours to fight. Who cares if your peers are married by 30 and you're 35 and still looking for love. Only you. Who cares if everyone is some executive somewhere and you're 45 going back to law school. Only you. Who cares if everyone wants to be self-employed and you want to be the best employee to your company. Only you. Because while everyone has opinions, suggestions and some grand scheme of things - only you get to decide for yourself. Only your opinions matter because it's your life at stake. This is your fight.

But to get there, you need to move. Don't stop because if you truly believe in something, you can and will turn it around. That's what I learnt when I had to pick myself up. All it takes is one moment, to say "Enough. Now we do things my way." 24 hours is tons of time. I recently learnt that. We created our website design and campaign, recorded and produced the videos and wrote all the stories in under a month. 24 hours is a lot of time to bring to life something. 24 hours is a lot to change your life. If it means reading up and picking a skill, if it means stopping a bad habit or taking on a new one, if it means working extra hours - do it because what you do now, sets you up for tomorrow. A day wasted is the most terrible thing you can do to yourself.

And most of all, the power of "Don't Stop" is truly committing to yourself, your course and the journey. You see don't stop isn't a one-day thing, it's truly a whole life thing. It's until your last breath or until you see what you want to see come to pass and even then, life is just waiting for you to be complacent, to let your guard down, to be cocky and then it will come and take it from you. So if you're going to live, "don't stop."