A girl who travels?

Yesterday, a blog post was going around entitled “Don’t date a girl who travels”. I was in bed, ready to sleep, and saw it on my Facebook feed so I read it aloud to Daniel. And I realised more and more that that girl was me, or was it only a figment of my imagination?

Before reading on, check out that blog post here: https://medium.com/better-humans/802c49b9141c

As I sit here listening to Ludovico Einaudi’s Divenire album (which I consider the album that dreams are made of), I’m overcome with a sense of reality – have I in fact turned out the way I wanted to turn out, or ended up doing the things I wanted to do?

I look at my skin and see the scars (and tattoo) that have their own tales to tell. I look in my head and see a wealth of knowledge and experience that sometimes makes me wonder whether I’m 24 or 42. I look in my heart and feel that burning desire to venture further and experience more. Not so much to escape, but to take what I have with me to new levels. I admit – I am hard to please, though I’ve realised that I am responsible for my own happiness.

It’s funny – earlier yesterday, even before I read that article, I asked Dan why he didn’t have more relatives getting married interstate so we could have an ‘excuse’ to travel interstate. He then reminded me that he did have a cousin who got married in NSW, but I was away in Auckland getting my visa done. I then proceeded to count the remainder of his unmarried cousins…

As I read on in the article, I found so many more things resonating true in my life. Can’t hold a steady job (though theoretically, if I hadn’t had Jacob, I would have stayed on at my previous job). Freelancer – yes, I am to an extent and intend to be at some point anyway. Wasted her college degree and switched careers – perhaps, though I think that all study gives you options. One day when I own my cafe and/or B&B, I will write to Le Cordon Bleu to thank them for the knowledge they imparted to me.

But as I read on, I realised that there were some things that did set me apart from this persona. I initially wanted to choose a life of uncertainty. If I hadn’t met Daniel, I reckon I would have shipped myself off to some remote location in Australia (maybe Broome or Ayers Rock) to work, get sponsored, get my Australian PR and then take off to Europe. I’ve had almost 10 different addresses since 2009, and I wasn’t going to stop at nothing.

Until I found something worth stopping for.

I found a wonderful man with whom I built a beautiful home. And now I have a child who depends on me for everything, and I don’t mind at all. Independence as an adult is relative. In concept, I could easily survive alone. But physically, spiritually and emotionally, I need Daniel. And now, more than ever, because I want Jacob to have the best father in the world.

I look back and think about how I’ve changed since I met Daniel. Before, not only were my movements erratic but also my emotions. I would be warm, then cold, then glowering hot. I’d spend too much time mulling over the past and dreaming of the future. But being with him reminded me that living in the present is too often overlooked.

Not many of you know this, but I actually had an eating disorder before I met Daniel, and it was eating away at me. I probably had depression growing up as well, though a lot of it was really self-inflicted. I think a lot of it was because I was striving for something more all the time, to a point that I forgot to appreciate what I had and who I was. I was so busy being independent that I forgot that I tended to destroy myself when I was alone.

When Dan and I had been dating for a few months, I had to determine where to go for my work placement (i.e. training in a hotel somewhere interstate or overseas). The previous year I’d been to Port Douglas, so I was thinking of a big city as my next destination. Jumeirah Group came to do a presentation at the Uni, and I applied just for the heck of it and went for the interview.

I got offered a position to go to work in Dubai at one of their luxurious properties. This is Jumeirah, the group behind the Burj Al Arab. What an opportunity! I brought the information home with me to give it some serious thought. It would have been an amazing career move and would take me to someplace exotic and new.

I turned it down, and found a job in Melbourne instead.

No, I did not change my mind because of Daniel. He had no part in convincing me where to go and what to do with my life. But I realised that while some people held career or travel as an integral part of their lives, they didn’t mean anything to me if I had to lose what I had with him. I don’t believe that people only have one soulmate, but I knew that he was meant for me.

A few months down the track, after a few trips to and fro between Adelaide and Melbourne, he proposed. And I was not just saying yes to a man, but also to a way of life and to an uncertain future in its own way.

It’s not that we don’t have adventures. Last night, we went out to watch the stars while eating macarons. We play board games on rainy days (or super hot days, like the next few days) and watch the sunset as we walk the dog around our hilly suburb. In a few months’ time, we may go camping with Jacob or perhaps have another interstate trip, and I do plan to see more of Malaysia this year too. 

And Jacob is my adventure too. I find so much joy in little things, like seeing him eat a steamed carrot for the first time (though I don’t think any of it went down his throat – just all over the floor) or just waking up to a smiling face (and a tremendously loud baby fart). I can’t wait til he crawls, then walks, then talks, then who knows? Every day is different but change is inevitable.

The final sentence in the blogpost is this:
So never date a girl who travels unless you can keep up with her. And if you unintentionally fall in love with one, don’t you dare keep her. Let her go.

It reminds me of this quote I heard long ago:
If you love something, let it go. If it comes back to you, it’s yours forever. If it doesn’t, then it was never meant to be.

I have been let go time and time again, but I realise that it’s my turn to let go. It’s my turn to let go of a life that I never had, for an alternative that I find much more rewarding. Because I realised that many a time, travel gave me an emotional high but there was always an emotional low to follow. There was happiness but not ultimate joy. There was exhilaration, but no permanence.

So, for all you “girls who travel” out there – if that is your calling, so be it and I do hope you find the joy you seek. But I have found joy in the little ‘country’ town of Adelaide with my humble house, ditzy dog, hilarious husband and bouncing baby boy. 

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Winds of change

We’ve had a couple of hot days but tomorrow is rumoured to be 20 degrees only (which is honestly a real relief). It’s odd that while I grew up in a tropical country, I don’t actually like the heat anymore – maybe pregnancy has changed me. I used to freeze all the way from March to about September each year, but I actually quite enjoyed my winter and am not sure how I’ll handle the hot dry summer ahead.

And, yes – I can feel the change in the air. I love to hear the wind, especially at night when I’m lying in bed snuggled under the covers. I’m not at the moment, but little Jacob sure is! I’m tempted to play my piano but don’t want to wake him; I would say that Ludovico Einaudi’s music would be fitting. Daniel is listening to Coldplay, which does in fact suit the mood too.

I’m feeling a bit awestruck, nostalgic and grateful at the same time… This is one time that I don’t even need to remind myself how blessed I am – I can feel the joy all around me, reminding me why it’s great to be alive. In fact, I’ll jot down a little poem from the top of my head that sums up how I feel.

Snuggled up on a windy night
With only my lamp alight
Rustling leaves
Through the trees
With the moon shining so bright.

The winds hush my wandering mind
Not knowing what they might find
A happy smile
A sleeping child
They are certain life’s been kind.

The winds die down; the night is still
There are still spaces to fill
Change is nigh
I’m unsure why
But change I will, I will.

I think I was thinking of Robert Frost’s poetry when I wrote that. I love his poems though – will definitely read them to Jacob when he’s a bit older. But for now, I’ll just let him fool around and be cute.

20131117_073824I know that no day is ever the same. People tell me that he’s grown every time they see him. And sometimes I find that sad because at times, I really want him to stay exactly as he is and never ever change. I know that in any relationship, be it a husband-wife relationship or a mother-son one, things will definitely change with time.

People say that the days are long but the years are short. I hope to hold on to these moments for as long as I possibly can. Though such moments may be fleeting like the wind, love engraves them into stone and they will always be part of me.

The beginning of the end…

What a week it’s been! I think that besides being tied down with work and commitments, it’s also been a mixture of emotions and new realizations.

I suppose the main thing that happened this week was that I finished up at work. Of course, this was a long-awaited break and I’m really glad that I’ll have this time to prepare myself for my new arrival. Yet I still feel that tinge of sadness and that strange aversion towards so many things changing in my life.

You’d think that with my background, I’d be used to change by now. I went to two preschools, two primary schools, two high schools, two colleges (pre-University) and finally ended up in another country for Uni.

Even with my Bachelor’s Degree, I had to move every 6 months. After 6 months of Uni, I had work placement in Port Douglas QLD; back to Adelaide for 2nd year, then scooted off to Melbourne and finally finished the course in Adelaide. What a time it was!

Mind you, the whole region of Far North Queensland is absolutely gorgeous! I really should do a post about it sometime as it has some real beautiful spots. Here’s me being all hippie at one of the waterfalls there:

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But nevertheless, despite my many encounters with change, we are still not very good friends. I remember, after leaving my last job at Unilodge, I spent many tearful nights thinking of my beloved staff members and tenants (I love you guys still!). I probably don’t feel as attached to my MBA students as I do my tenants (some I never ever met face to face yet!) but I still feel that familiarity and care for these people because I really put my heart and soul into the work that I do.

But nevertheless, one has to move on. I shared this quote with my students:
Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still.

Of course, this applies to many people but I believe it resonates in my life right now as I’m always the type who wants to do this and do that but ends up doing nothing at all because I simply can’t decide on what to do or how to do it.

Right now, it’s actually good because I do have a specific purpose that I can’t shy away from. Obligation and responsibility are sometimes the best motivation to help one commit to change. And I’m also the type who performs better under pressure, so I hope that this helps me when I’m dealing with stressful situations in motherhood. Wish me luck!

But anyway, I digress.

Some good times at AIB – shame I don’t have more photos, as I forgot to save them from the Shared Drive:

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Had a little gathering for Chinese New Year… 

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 Casino night where we gambled fake money.

My last day was really enjoyable. A bit crazy, lots to do but enjoyable all the same. I timed my departure at the end of the enrolment period which, evidently, caused everyone to be pretty busy. We had a record-breaking finish due to a combination of reasons, and it’s just really encouraging to see the number of people who are interested in pursuing their MBAs, be it for career advancement, personal development or simply to formalise their management background.

Just doing a little marketing for my workplace – it’s the Australian Institute of Business, a fully accredited business school offering the full suite of business qualifications from Diplomas to Doctorates. I dealt primarily with MBA students, who have found that the unique model and emphasis of the study benefit them greatly.
More details here: http://www.aib.edu.au/

Anyway, the Marketing team went for lunch at the Union Hotel which has pretty nice food. Call me narrow-minded but my ideal pub meal is a chicken schnitzel with mushroom sauce, and that’s usually what I order.

Then we had a bit of a farewell later with the full staff, where I got a huge card, some lovely gifts and an awesome cake:

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I love those little feet! I kept the dark blue ones because they look like smurf feet…

It feels really great to be valued and honestly, I was really blessed over the many months that I worked here. So just a big thank you to all of my awesome workmates, especially the ones in the Marketing team who had to put up with my walking around while talking (including hiding in the closet when the line was bad), my strange Asian videos and my eating seaweed (yes, it is delicious).

So I’ll say goodbye, but I’ve found that goodbyes never truly last forever – paths do cross again and new memories will be made.

But til then, I must remind myself that I haven’t stopped work… in fact, the work has barely started! 😉

Short sluggish snippets

I was looking to write a nice long blog post tonight but simply ran out of time (and steam). It’s a shame how little free time I seem to have to myself during the week.

Work takes up about 40 hours, 50 if you add commuting time. Meal prep, probably an additional 10 hours. Eating, maybe another 10 if not more… Church and community related activities, maybe 5+ hours. Housework, add about 0 hours… just kidding, maybe add 5 (I’m working on it!). What have I missed out? Oh yeah, sleep…

People say I shouldn’t be so busy while I’m pregnant, that I should take a step back and get more sleep. And I would love to honour that request if only I could reset my body clock – I’m still fairly nocturnal and, if given a choice, would rather sleep from midnight to whatever time my body decides to wake up.

But anyway, I digressed from the main point (though I never even mentioned the main point) which probably points out how tired I am…

Let me recapture my thoughts by posting a picture of my wonderful dog, who despite her destructiveness and hyperactivity, loves everybody unconditionally (especially when she’s soaking wet). Here she is devouring her Kong Wubba – note to buyers of Kong Wubba, this is in no way indestructible. Took her about 2 days (of supervised play, mind you)…

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I was going to share the article I wrote on multiculturalism in Australia. I do admit that the article can’t quite do the subject justice, as there’s really so many things that can be said about the matter.

We have to face that fact that multiculturalism is everywhere – in our countries, in our homes. And regardless of how we try to ignore it, we do acknowledge it in many ways, be it positive or negative.

For a little background on myself, I’m a Malaysian who’s 1/2 Chinese, 1/8 Scottish, 1/8 Welsh, 1/8 Thai and 1/8 Malay. In Malaysia, where we still have to state our race on all official documentation, I’m considered “Others” as I don’t fall into the default Malay, Chinese or Indian categories. I strove to stand out and be proud of the fact that I was Eurasian, and perhaps hoped it gave me a different set of qualities that would make me different from other Malaysians.

And then I came to Australia, where I fall under the category of Asian. Forget the Scottish surname (which is Ritchie, by the way) – this girl grew up in Asia and has rather slitty eyes, so she’s Asian. Point blank. And I just live it with now, because I realise that in all honesty, there’s no point denying the truth and there’s honestly nothing wrong with being Asian.

I just don’t know how to explain to my kid(s) their ethnic make-up, taking into consideration my 1/2 English, 1/2 German (but born and bred in Australia) husband…

Just putting it out there – how do you feel about your own ethnicity? Are you comfortable with your cultural background, even if you aren’t living in the country you grew up in? Do you feel that you had to change parts of you that you didn’t necessarily want to change?

You can read the actual article here:
http://jommagazine.com.au/living-the-multicultural-life-in-australia-stories-from-different-ethnicities/

Anyway, speaking about change, I bought lunch today from a Korean BBQ type place in a food court (which is delicious by the way). I gave the lady some money and she said “Here you go, three dollar changes!” 

I was going to ask her “Three dollar changes into what? Is this a magic trick?” but I’m never that impolite (unless provoked). But yes, how simple life would be if changes could be bought. I suppose some can, but a lot of them come at a price that money can’t buy.

Anyway, I’ve rambled on enough and really should get some more sleep. Good night world, and may tomorrow be a wonderful day full of new opportunities.