Taking a breather at Lower Seletar Reservoir Park

For the past few days I have been wanting to visit Lower Seletar Reservoir Park. Where’s that you ask? Simply put, it’s the scenic route from Yio Chu Kang to Khatib not to be confused with Upper Seletar Reservoir that is nearer to Mandai.

It’s not that near to Khatib MRT so if you’re going by public transport check out the list of buses here and where to alight. https://www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/lower-seletar-reservoir-park#

Look at that view.
There’s rental for kayaks and dragon boats but not sure if it’s still operational during this period. Saw some kayaks though!
Saw a few doggy friends there
The older bridge behind

It was a busy Sunday morning at 8.30am and the pathways are relatively crowded. Lots of uncles hanging around in groups (wonder if it’s because coffee shop seating areas are closed at the moment).

There’s a lot of space to take a breather on the greens though to take in the beauty of the reservoir so it’s a great place to recharge. As usual from what you can see from the MRTs there are always these illegal fishing activities but they don’t really bother you.

Hope to get the chance to come here more often, and maybe catch the sunset one day!

What I did as a student to boost my CV

My brother is in university now and he came to me few months back asking about some career advice and internships that he should apply for. I gave him some tips, and yes, he secured that job for summer. So therefore, this piece. I wanted to title this article – ‘What I did as a student to get the job I want‘. Then, I thought it sounded strange, and my mind shifted to drama serials where young employees sleep their way to the top. No no, this piece is not about that.

As someone who graduated from one of the three local universities in Singapore (barely got in lol), I have met some really motivated students. There were some who started with their entrepreneurship journey right during school, some who knew what they wanted to do with an undying passion, and those that went for 6 rounds of interview to score that high paying internship job. My route though, was a little more chill and this was what I did.

Here’s some advice for students in boosting your CV. A disclaimer though, this worked for me as a communications graduate / professional, if you are looking at things like an engineering or finance route, I guess only the general rules apply.

  1. Determine what you want to do, or at least have a general field that you want to pursue

I chose my first major through an article that I wrote to Cleo Magazine. It was a ‘Free Speech’ section where I submitted my thoughts to a lifestyle topic. I thought to myself at that time that if that article was published, I would choose Communications as my first major. My second major would then be Geography or maybe I would become an environmental journalist (very rare combination in 2009 though pretty common now).

Though this might sound very trivial, many people do not end up working in the field of what they studied. With a bachelor’s degree in the field that I want to work in, I now have at least the first ‘pass’ into the industry, or the ‘minimum requirements’.

2. Secure internships

I know, holidays are important, especially when you get 3-4 months off during the summer break! Well, I would say, take a break, but don’t waste your holidays slacking at home. How did I get my internships? Firstly, always check your university career office. I understand that some actually have bad reps in terms of their effectiveness but it is always somewhere to start. The next step will be to google these internships – you never know what you will find because there are things out there that you do not know exist!

For me, as I was saying, Geography and communications have always been my interests so I checked out Asian Geographic Magazine. There were no job vacancies at that time so I emailed them directly. Guess what, I secured one! Dream internship alert! That was my first experience in communications – editorial, covering events, social media management, I even published my first few articles there!

My other internships came from the Career Office (through email) and another one through their listings. Though I was not selected for a job but they called me back for another – Mediacorp Market Research! It was cool working there and having lunch stargazing. Oh, I loved their fashion sales too where they had yard sales to sell clothes that celebrities wore for shows. I was lucky I was really skinny then (haha).

3. Build your network and portfolio

Through my internships I met all kinds of people from different nationalities. This exposed me to different cultures and also my first freelance writing jobs that I could add to my growing portfolio of work. Never ever treat anyone badly and always be sincere to others because you never know when you will cross paths with them again. It wouldn’t hurt too if these ex-colleagues / friends you make write testimonials for your first real job.

4. Go for exchange if you can

Although not easy in this COVID-19 climate, go for an international exchange if you can. It is an experience where you grow up (I am partially ashamed and also amused that I first learnt how to iron my clothes at the age of 22 and I can remember my friend who taught me that!), build stories of your own that you can share with future friends or colleagues, and understand how other countries work. For a communications person – it means easier understanding for intercultural communications, for an editorial person it means broadening your horizons to stories and ideas. For me, I did an exchange programme in Hong Kong and Copenhagen. It was in Copenhagen that I understood that life is not only about working, shopping but so much more (okay I also attended a talk by a nobel prize IPCC person and also their parliament so very impressed)! In Hong Kong, I built the best long-lasting friendships and probably had the most fun partying experience in Lan Kwai Fong.

5. Capture this in your CV

All this stuff that you did, and all for nothing if you can’t capture it in a proper CV. I guess it depends on your industry – whether formal, creative, there are many tutorials and examples that you can look for online. Best of all, though I didn’t do that, make full use of your career services in school (you’re paying for it anyway through your school fees) to run through your CV and even interviews with you.

Hope this helps and all the best for your job search!

What playing competitive sports taught me

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”

Watching competitive sports always spurs something in me. Once upon a time I actually thought that it was a waste of time playing any sport recreationally. Why put in so much effort in something to do it for “fun”? And at that point I truly believed that I could excel in something that I liked.

It has been almost a decade since I played competitive netball and oh, those glorious days. We were such an awesome team in secondary school, going through all the tough training camps and drills together, we really shared literally blood sweat and tears. I think I was physically suited to play netball, being tall and I could run relatively quick at that time. Wow, those days when the whole school cheered for us during the finals and how we achieved 4th in the nationals for an unknown school, it was surreal. Best of all, I also made it to the age group national team. Those young, glorious days!

Fast forward to the present, exercise now has become an avenue to destress. I still think about some of the mind games and strategies I used to write down in this small little book that I had, and also the ‘mental strength’ course that I attended that taught me how to keep calm during critical moments.

Playing competitive sports taught me many things. Firstly, teamwork. Make full use of your strengths, your team mates’ strengths and complement each other when there are cracks or weaknesses. Though in a work context it is definitely difficult to trust your team mate completely, it will take some time, but it will definitely be a dream team!

Secondly, never give up and when you fail, appreciate the process. This to me applies most in a dating or love context when I was younger. There are times that you want to make sure you put in your best shot, but sometimes things don’t work out but you know you tried. When I grew up, I thought this applied to people who became ill, or even if health becomes an obstacle for me one day, I will abide to this.

Thirdly, have a goal and go for it. I honestly have not really done this to a 100% but I aspire to do this. The court is yours, the game is yours to play and how you want to play it. My high school and junior college coaches had totally different styles. The former being very “waterfall” (work has influenced me to use this term hahaha omg) and step by step where we execute the different tactics according to what she wanted us to do. The latter being very “agile” because at that time she was new to netball and had a basketball background. I felt that the combination of both made it really cool. I had a solid background and it was time to just play my own game. I never told anyone but on the bus to Kallang netball centre I would listen to “unbelievable” by Craig David, and then on court on my good days I would play it just for fun. Not that it’s just ‘for fun’, but I would see how I could just manipulate my opponent. Oh and my team mates were strong enough to depend on to execute whatever we wanted.

I guess this is the same for life. On one hand you got to put in the hard work, put in the basics, work on it, and then just, rule it. Haha of course, it is easier said than done and I haven’t really felt like that since I stepped on a netball court many many years ago. But I guess stemming from my competitive sports background, I truly believe in myself in most things that I do. (Very important when working because of terrible people that you’ll meet!)

Now let me leave you with a song that my netball teacher played on screen to hype us up:

May you SHINE in your own way!

What I thought life would be

I always thought I would have a window with a view like this while I lived overseas

Looking at the On This Day pictures brought back many memories. 13 years ago I was hanging out with the gang at Dempsey. 11 years ago I was spending summer in Hong Kong. 10 years ago I was lamenting on how I had no more friends in school since everyone had graduated the past semester. 8 years back there was a photograph of my first long term real job and 3 years back a video of work and how my work allowed me to start work later because England was playing someone during the World Cup. Fast forward to today, I am still rooting for England to win Euro 2020.

These memories inspired a thought – Am I far from what I thought life would be?

Many moons ago I wrote a blog post and I talked about how I would imagine my ideal life would be like. Marketing job, drinks and dinner with friends at night, had my own apartment with a partner. Kids after 30. To be honest I didn’t put much thought in it, or took steps to achieve it.

Now if this is a checkpoint where I grade myself through an imaginary scorecard, I must say that firstly, I got where I wanted to in terms of my job. I got to try several industries and it seems like I have some autonomy to do what I want in terms of creativity. I also had/have opportunities to meet some important people and have unique experiences.

Life wise, I think I did pretty good by having kids young. Though they contribute to my general angst that probably is not ideal, but I am trying my best to be more zen. I do not like sharing my house with other people, but that is something that I have to tolerate for the foreseeable future, regrettably.

I guess my only real regret is not exploring out of the country, moving to a new place and being on my own for a longer period of time. Since being attached since college, there hasn’t been any me time so that is something I can work on. But you’ll never know, maybe I’ll take a job overseas sometime. Maybe I can find myself and my identity – this has been on my mind actually but it’s really complex with the many roles I have to play during work, outside work, in the home, with friends etc. Even finding friends with similar experiences is getting more difficult and I guess that’s why people drift apart but this is another story.

For now, I’ll like to give thanks to what I have! Hopefully my scoresheet will be pretty awesome when I check back in ten years!

Three things I thought after watching Friends: The Reunion

All those feels after watching that group of five

To be honest, I was one of those cheapos who downloaded HBO Max and subscribed through a trial just to watch Friends, The Reunion. I was particularly relieved that it wasn’t a hoax when the news of the reunion started circling social media. All those feels before, during, and after watching the show. Here are three main takeaways for me after watching.

Awww Ross and Rachel

The most obvious and in some way shocking revelation was the chemistry between Ross and Rachel, played by David Schwimmer and Jennifer Aniston, and the fact that they could have become an off-screen couple. Awww those behind-the-scenes footage especially the lingering hug at the end of the shoot during the season finale. “It was like two ships passing, because one of us was always in a relationship, and we never crossed that boundary. We respected that,” Schwimmer said. But I guess it’s hard to compete when your love rival is Brad Pitt, so… To be honest, Ross and Rachel weren’t my favourite couple on the show but I really liked them individually. This revelation on the reunion definitely added a new dimension to ‘Roschel’ and yes, I googled if both of them are currently single in real life! *fingers crossed*

Big Cringe during Smelly Cat

It was weird watching this part of the show. Why is Lady Gaga involved? Why is Phoebe being overshadowed by Lady Gaga? Why does Phoebe look so uncomfortable? It will be nice if they brought back the triplets, and they could have played or sang smelly cat with their surrogate mother/aunt! There was another really weird part… the fashion show with random guests but at least it ended with Joey!

Heart-warming scenes

Many other roles contributed to the success of friends like the rather annoying parents of the Gellar family and the ‘oh-my-gawd’ Janice! It was nice to see them on screen although it was for a short moment. I was quite a fan of Gunther and once wrote a short commentary to a magazine on him. He looked so different, and awwww, that unrequited love for Rachel!

For those who want a bit more of Friends, check this out –

James Corden visits the cast at the Friends Reunion!

Life

Even when I was young I was really paranoid. When I was ten, my parents brought my whole family on a cruise. Before going on that trip, I wrote a letter to my loved ones, in case I don’t make it back. It was to my family, my best friends at that time, and thankfully I made it back.

When it was in year 1999, I made my parents stockpile and prepare for Y2K where computers and transport would supposedly go haywire. Thankfully again, it did not.

With life throwing so many curveballs, who knows what will happen. Sometimes you get news of someone getting some illness, someone even an acquaintance involved in an accident makes you go omg. And of course, year 2020 was not encouraging.

I guess what we can do is to live life to the fullest everyday. I’m not saying quit your job and just do what you want but put effort into things that you do. Get the sense of accomplishment. Cherish the moments with your family. Watch your kids grow up. For me, planning birthdays and events are the most fun when it comes to family events.

Oh I really hope I can watch my kids grow up in a healthy, loving family.

Love you always if you’re reading this someday. ❤️

Till we meet again

One of the greatest pains come from loss, the loss of love; the loss of life; and one in particular, the loss of a loved one. The unimaginable pain of losing a child and the process of him or her slipping away. The courage of the parents; the inconsolable heartache; the helplessness of those around who care but can do nothing to alleviate this pain.

Sadly, this is not the first time I know of someone whose kid has passed away. This is particularly close to heart because he was one of my godsons, and the kid of my best friend.

Even before his birth, they knew of his condition but chose to give him a fighting chance. For this, I am in awe of his parents’ courage and love. In my opinion, they should never be guilty that they have chosen to keep him and have really done their best to give him a comfortable and loving home the past 1+ year. Know that we love you and will remember you always with your grouchy face and cool hairstyle. :’)

It’s not my place to write about their story.

So I will keep this short. I hope you’re watching over your family in this time of grief and give them the courage to get through their loss. ❤️

Hello 2021

2021 is the start of new beginnings. For me, it’s the start of a new job, which probably means the start of many new things. Getting to know new people, new work routes, new lunch places. Something that I brought over from New Year’s Eve though is my newfound old interest of reading.

In recent years, I realised that people have a different impression of how I was during my schooling years. Most recently someone expressed surprise that I was actually reading something / bought a book. It was pretty harmless but that set me thinking – what kind of image was I portraying to people?

During university I was called “bimbo” a few times by a few guys. To be honest the positive side of me thought that as a compliment, and perhaps it was the group that I hung out with. Personally I felt that it was also kind of sexist because I was labelled that because I chose not to go to school in a school shirt and shorts. And it was highly correlated to the faculty that I was in – Arts and Social Sciences.

Even up till this day I get “mansplained” oh so often. From people that I think have a lower understanding of the subject, just because they think that I do not understand that? Oh and how the topic changes when in a group they start talking to me. Sigh, I think that in 2021 I should seriously level up my intelligence as well as show others what I actually think about. Although I say I like to imagine clouds in the sky and be zen about it, doesn’t mean my brain is mush!

Back to the reading stuff, I have started to read about 1) Budgeting. Actually it is an ongoing process that I need to refresh on but this time moving on from personal finances to more investment related topics. I have also been asking friends on what they have been doing as a guide. You know, reading some stuff doesn’t mean it works for you, so I guess personal experiences do matter for this.

2) The power of habits. As an inquisitive individual, haha a more polite way of saying I am kaypoh, I am always thinking about how people achieve certain things in life. Habits and behavioural science seem to be the answer to this. And to be honest this should come easy to me having lived at least 20 years military style due to my dad’s parenting style. I think this applies to many areas apart from work, life – having a healthy lifestyle, work life balance. There’s more that I hope I can share in the future.

3) The power of positivity and mindfulness. Weirdly going through the ups and downs of my last job made me understand that there’s more to the daily grind of the rat race. How positivity and mindfulness is so important in creating a balance – and to this, an extent religion for me. In 2021, these are some areas that I like to work on.

Okay apart from all this serious stuff, I seem to gain a little bit more confidence in the kitchen so I will be a little preoccupied with exercising, cooking/baking, and forcing the kiddos to study.

Hello 2021!

A letter to my kiddos, probably the first of many

Dear M&M,

Year 2020 is revealing itself to be a chaotic year. When you ‘google’ (hopefully still a term for ‘search’) this year, you will see lots of negative news like the worldwide pandemic called COVID-19, the sudden passing of many well-known people, and it has also been a personal struggle for your mommy me (health wise and job wise, more about that next time).

I have always been someone who thought about death, and thought about how one can prepare for it. At age 10, before going for my first and only cruise trip, I actually wrote a letter to thank my parents and listed my friends. I wished to live longer when I was young, afraid that I would have an untimely demise due to childhood illness or an accident. In summary, I was or am, pretty paranoid in many cases. It is to note that many of the things that I was paranoid as a child came true – for example, someone falling into the train tracks at a particular MRT station; people falling down the escalator; and other accidents I shall not name.

The first person that I lost who was close to me was my maternal grandfather, also known as my ah gong (1). His passing was quite surreal, because my cousin supposedly visited one day before he passed and in general he was not exactly in the best of health. It didn’t affect me that much, as I wasn’t that close to him. But he was the first loss that I experienced, and the first time is usually something you remember the most or significantly.

I could go on and on about this especially after losing my paternal grandparents in the span of a few years (2008 and 2010) that I was really close to but that is not the main point in this letter.

My first point to you is that :

Although mommy should be with you at least till you are older (like 30 and beyond, hopefully), I will always love you. We can always cherish the memories that we have together and even without me you will find the strength and love to grow up happily, healthily and with kindess. It is about having faith that I am around you somehow, perhaps through a memory, so you can hold on to that even when I am not physically around. It should shape you for the better, and you will always have siblings and other family members, and even close friends to rely on. 🙂

My second point to you is that:

Live your life, take chances – No one actually knows about life fully, so to be honest I think people who seem to have their shit together is just being bullshit / acting very well. HAHA – of course some do have a better inkling than others, but if you keep to good values, e.g. kindness, not cheating people, not doing bad deeds – you are on the right track. Do you need to be the BEST? If you want to. Do you need to be the star runner? If you have the passion to be. At my age (32, not that old), it feels that there is no right or wrong in how you want to live your life. Take a chance, give it a shot – especially if you know what you have passion in. If you can do it, great! If you can’t do it, so what? It is really up to you – I’m saying this with the basis that I think you truly understand what is great for you and not at the point where you are an angsty teenager who wants to run away from school. (*prays*)

My third point to you is that:

Have faith (in a religion that is legit), and be close to your family (& friends if you have loyal ones). While in your youth friends seem to make up your world, you will see yourself moving away from your friends, just because – work, moving apart geographically, moving apart in life stage. Sometimes when it gets tough, it doesn’t hurt to have faith – if you don’t have a friend to talk to, having faith and speaking to God will definitely help. I am not pushing you to have any particular religion, because this is something you need to discover.

That’s all for letter 1 – let’s see if we can keep this up.

Love you always,

Mommy

3 fan-favourites for the Netflix newbie

Did you recently jump on the Netflix bandwagon and feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of shows to watch? Are you looking to catch up on some fan favourites that your friends have been talking about? Since many of us are now stuck at home, it’s the best time to check out these 3 shows from the ‘90s and ‘00s!

  1. Friends (1994 – 2004)

The classic ‘90s TV show about a group of five friends across 10 seasons will keep you entertained for awhile. Set in New York, Ross, Rachael, Monica, Chandler and Joey encounter everyday issues in their 20’s and later early 30’s – love, marriage, kids, work, loss, you get my drift. The show ended in 2004 which is almost two decades ago (shocking how time flies), but remains relatable to this day. Spend some time to catch the first season, and you will understand why so many people have been hooked onto this show.

Fun fact: They’re actually planning a reunion at the end of 2020, so now’s a good time to start your Friends marathon! More here: https://variety.com/2020/tv/news/friends-reunion-special-hbo-max-taping-1234603535/

  • How I Met Your Mother (2005 – 2014)

The show was, wait for it, legendary! Okay you have to have watched this before understand the meaning behind Barney Stinson, well-known playboy’s catchphrase. Interestingly, HIMYM was modelled after Friends, and also, with a group of five people. College sweet hearts Marshall and Lily; Canadian Robin; Playboy Barney and Ted Mosby, an architect who is recounting the story of how he met the mother of his kids to his two children. As the series was created more recently (though the last episode was aired almost 7 years ago), you might be able to identify their special guests better e.g. Britney Spears! The show also usually starts with Ted telling the story to his kids, and finally ends with Ted marrying their mother. Guess who? Watch to find out!

Which show actually fared better? https://www.tvfanatic.com/2020/07/battle-of-the-shows-friends-vs-how-i-met-your-mother/

  • Gossip Girl (2007 – 2012)

To be honest, not everyone will like this show, but my girlfriends and I were huge fans. Based off the novel of the same name, Gossip Girl is about high school students living at the Upper East Side, living a glamourous life. And like most teen shows, there was a lot of drama, especially through a blogger website ‘Gossip Girl’ – whose identity was revealed at the end. The show was not only about the plot, which felt kind of draggy at the last few seasons but improved at the end. The show was more about high society, the glitz and glamour, the fashion and of course very good-looking actors and actresses e.g. Blake Lively, Leighton Meester, Chace Crawford, and Ed Westwick. And you know what? People are still talking about them now – https://screenrant.com/gossip-girl-chuck-bass-problematic/

Hope you like them!