My 2017 Gratitude List

Sunday December 31, 2017. The end of the weekend, the last day of the last month of the year.

2017 was not a great year by any measure, plenty went wrong. But I am a glass half full kind of person so I must say plenty also went right. I am grateful for the blessings showered, the opportunities to travel and learn, the deepening of friendships and the recognition of a journey of self awareness.

Humor

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I am thankful for people in my life who make me laugh. I am thankful for being able to see the light of humor in a dark year.  A special shout out to Fowl Language for seeing the humor in parenting and assuring me from time to time that I am not alone.

Nature’s Beauty

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City-dwellers travel far and wide to seek out nature and enjoy its resplendent beauty.  Sometimes we are lucky to find it in our very cities, waiting for us to reach out and experience. Whether it is the faraway Pulau Ubin or the Fort Canning Park in my backyard, nature’s treasures are everywhere.

Role Models

I am thankful for role models at every stage of my life, especially strong women role models. Many times I have asked “What would she do?”.

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CC Image Courtesy Flickr user David. https://www.flickr.com/photos/65193799@N00/3215110390/

These days one of them is Michelle Obama. I want to be Michelle when I grow up.  I want her smile, her body, her wardrobe and mostly I want her marriage.

Food

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Food is a part of my culture. Most conversations begin and end with talk of food – what did you eat, how was it, when shall we eat again, can you share the recipe? It goes on…

I am thankful for the abundance in my life, the adventure of food and cooking. My children are young but well on their path to be culinary explorers – they enjoy new foods, like to help out in the kitchen and are regular viewers of Food TV channel. Other kids watch cartoons my kids watch Giada, Nancy Fuller and Iron Chef America.

Art

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A white wall and sheet of stickers. That is the genius of the art installation Obliteration Room by Yayoi Kusuma for the Children’s Biennale at the National Gallery, Singapore. Whimsical and fantastical, a treat for the child in everyone.

I am thankful for the art on my walls, in my children’s doodles, on city streets. Once you start noticing, art is everywhere – you can see it, touch it, hear it, smell it, and taste it.

Travel

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Travelling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller (Ibn Battuta). I am thankful for some terrific travel experiences in 2017 – from scuba diving to 20 metres in the Mactan Island (Cebu, The Philippines) to trekking in a high altitude national park in the Himalayas. 2017 was the year of Asian travel that took us to Hong Kong, Indonesia, India and The Philippines. I can’t wait to explore the continent more thoroughly.  So far we have travel plans for Japan in early spring, The Philippines and Malaysia in summer. I’ve lived in Singapore 10 years, and most of my travel has been in the United States and Europe. How ridiculous is that? Time to change that. I long to see the temples at Angkor Wat, the fall colours in Korea, and beaches of Vietnam.

My Girls

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What would I do without my girls – sisters, cousins, friends? Whether I need to vent or cry, go crazy and let my hair down, go for long walks or lunches, get inspired, distract myself from troubles, or just talk and laugh about everything in the Universe, my girls have been there for me and with me. As I grow older I appreciate my circle of women friends even more. The funny, brilliant, interesting women are indeed my treasure.

Hope and Opportunity

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I am thankful for beauty and inspiration in the most unexpected places. I spotted this summer garden at an Indian army transit post situated near a high mountain pass (~16000 feet). The makeshift garden was put together by a soldier far away from home, with planters made from recycled tin cans and love. It spoke of a yearning for beauty and normalcy in such a desolate place. It filled me with hope.

10 Reasons to Learn to Scuba Dive in Your 40s

As part of my 40th birthday celebrations I signed up for a PADI Open Water Diver course. I was inspired by several close friends who have been diving for many years. Also, I didn’t want a piece of jewellery, a watch or a handbag, I wanted a new experience. My reasons for taking up scuba diving, not exactly an easy or riskless activity, went beyond turning 40.

  1. I needed new hobbies. After years of work and parenting I finally did something for myself and it felt amazing!
  2. I wanted to invest in an activity that I can enjoy in my senior years. There is no upper age limit for diving, assuming one is in general good health and has a physically active lifestyle. Stan Waterman an avid diver and pioneer of underwater film and photography retired at age 90. Jacques Cousteau dove nearly every day until his death at age 87.
  3. It was time to push my physical and mental limits and do something that scared me. And trust me, jumping off into deep water strapped with weights, purposely descending deeper into water, and breathing through the mouth goes against every natural human instinct.
  4. Enjoy the incredible underwater sights – the coral wall, the school of sardines, the giant clam, the hidden octopus, and the numerous angel fish and butterfly fish going about their day.
  5. I love stories. When you are on bus or a boat trying to get to a dive site with a group of strangers, it is inevitable that stories will follow the introductions. In that brief period, you share a connection with people from different parts of the world, people you are most likely never to meet again.IMG_1738
  6. Set an example for the kids that they can learn and enjoy new things at any age. My kids joined me on the boat for one of my dives and when they saw me suited up, do a back roll into the water and then disappear under the water, I know it made an impression. Both the kids are intrepid snorkelers and I can’t wait to sign them up for the youth scuba diving course when they reach the appropriate age.
  7. My family loves beach vacations. Now I have a new way to enjoy the oceans, it makes the travel experience so much richer.
  8. Diving is an activity I can share with my best friend who got her diving certification many years ago. Now we routinely share information on liveaboards in Indonesia and Thailand, longing for the day when our kids are old enough for us to go off the grid for 7 to 10 days.img_1770.jpg
  9. Truly understand ocean conservation. Until I completed my first dive, “save the oceans” was just a phrase. Now I truly get the importance of educating myself and my family about changing our daily habits. Reduce, reuse and recycle!
  10. Feel one with the universe – forget about the issues and struggles of daily life and feel like you are part of something so much bigger than yourself. 

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Wanderlust and Motherhood

Last year this time we were in Ushuaia as part of our two-week sojourn to southern Patagonia. Today I complete 30 weeks of my pregnancy. My baby is 10 weeks away and I have months of late nights, breastfeeding, poop patrol, diaper changes, loud cries, yawns and sweet smiles to live through but I’m already thinking in terms where I can go on vacation with my baby. I’ve already ruled out a few on my list of places to see. Cambodia (Angkor Wat specifically), South Africa, and Morocco can wait. It doesn’t help that I subscribe to Travel and Leisure, or have a new liking for travel writing or that Chan Brothers advertises in the newspaper every single day or that to top it all Silk Air has set up a reservations office in the lobby of my office building.

How will motherhood affect my wanderlust? Continue reading “Wanderlust and Motherhood”