creating space in your heart for suffering

When I skimmed the headlines of my People subscription, Voice Alum Christina Grimmie Dies After Being Shot, I thought to myself, naw she’s probably in the hospital getting better. I tapped the email. My jaw drops.

WHAT?

Instantly, the wave of pain starts flowing into me. First it seeps in through the pores on my arms, then it crashes in through the top of my head, the base of my feet, in between my breast-bone, through the tunnel of my bellybutton. My body was there, sitting on the chair of the bus that’s taking me home, but me? Darkness fell around me and I was in pain.

I didn’t understand why I felt so deeply connected with this news. It wasn’t because she was shot, it wasn’t because she was shot after her concert, and it wasn’t because she was shot after her concert while signing autographs from a guy in line. I tried to find reasons and words to describe this, but couldn’t. So my heart broke all the way home.

The next night, I received a notification from the Guardian that 20 people (now it’s 50) were killed at a shooting in an LGBT night club in Orlando. I hurt. I felt pain. My heart broke again.

I didn’t understand why. This wasn’t sadness, this was distress, pain, torment all balled up in one. I felt the pain wrap around my heart and constricted it so tight that I couldn’t breathe; that tears started to fall as the only way of release.

It wasn’t until I listened to this podcast by Rob Bell titled Making Room for the Immensities that I understood.

I finally understood why I experienced agony when my mum left in March, or when my best friend told me his father passed, I felt heaviness all around me. I understood why when I see my friends cry, my heart breaks for them, or when I read about Christina Grimmie, I grieved.

I was letting go.

I was letting my heart break and I was feeling the pieces shatter.

I was suffering.

The torment washed over me and I embraced it. I let this suffering take over and flow through my being. I didn’t hold back.

I felt it course through me. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I made room in my heart for the suffering so I could feel the immensity of it all.

I used to try and distract myself from this anguish, but the relief I get from releasing myself and surrendering to the pain is something much more rewarding.

From something as small as “I just cut my finger open” to “the tire of our car exploded on the highway”, I was always able to identify and feel the pain when someone shares his story with me. I never realized why I felt like I was suffering along with someone’s story, even if the things I read or hear about are completely irrelevant to me. But now I do. It’s because I actually feel their suffering and make room in my heart for them.

When you feel pain, you can feel it physically – heart constricting, sweating, pain in body parts- and you carry that around. You carry that around, slowly letting it go, until one day it doesn’t hurt anymore. But when you are suffering and you feel like the world is going to end, like nothing matters anymore? You let that take over you and you let that feeling break you open. And you feel it.

You honor that suffering.

Because you see, the thing is, in order for your heart to get bigger, it has to break. You need to let it break open until it includes the suffering that you’re feeling. Because that is how you transcend.

Sometimes I feel empty. There’s no warning, no explanations, I just feel empty and alone. I hate the feeling, who wouldn’t? I almost always try to run from that and find a way to feel full. I’ll watch tv and try to immerse myself in the brainless world of inventions and fabrications. Now I’m slowly learning to let this emptiness break me open so that my heart will include the feeling and stop blocking it. As I continue to make room for suffering in myself, I will also be creating room for the immensities of the world.

There are many ways for someone to develop themselves, whether it’s jumping out of their comfort zone or trying new hobbies. Creating room for the immensity of suffering is one of them. Next time, when you feel hurt, angry, sad, just let that feeling take over. Don’t complain about it, don’t push it away, just feel it. I can’t explain it, but you’ll know what I mean. Suffering is beyond words. Sometimes there’s nothing to say.

-edit- June 20 2016

A week and a bit after I started writing this post and hearing the news, I finally grieved the death of Christina Grimmie tonight as I watched her YouTube videos. I didn’t even know I was grieving until I started to feel that suffering in my heart again. Thank goodness I was able to speak with my best friends at the exact moment and note down my feelings.

I know I’m taking this one instance, generalizing it and comparing it to life, but bare with me. I identify with this situation the most.

My first question was, I don’t get why someone would want to kill such a sweet girl like her. Why?

My second thought was: this girl had it all. She was living her dream, touring the country, singing and posting heartfelt music videos. She was so talented and it’s evident she touched many, many lives.

But it all ended in an instant. Even if you’re doing what you’ve always wanted to do and doing what make you happy, it ended. And in a way, I was crying because I was so happy for her. That at the young age of 22, she’s accomplished so much more than any of us ever could.

More than that, I was crying for her family and all those people who are grieving their loss.

I was also crying for myself. It’s so funny how I always come back full circle back to square one. What the fuck do I want to do with my life? What else am I yearning for? I cherish every single fucking moment with my entire being, yet, I know there’s something more out there that I want. But what the hell is it? It frustrates me so much that I can’t figure it out.

Anyway, so what the fuck are we doing not living our dreams? What are you doing not living yours?

this is the sign

Today, my life has changed.

All week, I felt lost and alone. I did not understand why nor did I have the mental strength to figure out why.

I questioned my purpose, my belief, my direction. What on earth am I doing on this planet? It’s not to keep up with the latest trend in fashion, it’s not to come up with the next big invention and neither is it to become famous. What the hell is it?

How can I believe in myself? Universe, what am I doing? Where are you bringing me? Spirit, where are you? I can’t feel you anymore. How can I find you? Should I join a church? Is believing in God the answer? Should I look into Buddhism?

So many questions and no answers. Not even one. You can imagine the week I had, walking in one direction while everything passes me in a blur. I was numb. I was doing the same routines, and questioning what the point of all of this was!

I gave up on focusing on this hopelessness and just threw my hands in the air.

Today though, the sign was right in front of me. Spirit, nature, mindfulness, meditation, all engraved in the plethora of words of he was saying. His story, his explanations was just what I was seeking. What is masculinity? Rules are there and they are meant to be broken. Otherwise, how does one connect with the earth? What does a relationship mean?

It was as if (hold on, let me just cover my eyes in disbelief that I met these people) the universe heard me, and I guess it must have, and gave me this. Goosebumps. This is my sign. All my questions and explorations (I really wanted to learn how to meditate and be spiritual) were touched on tonight.

So intense, so deep, as if they felt me from the inside.

From now on, I need to be confident of who I am. Don’t feel stupid, even if what they’re talking about makes no sense to me. Don’t be shy, speak what is on my mind. People do not have preconceptions of me and who I am, was, will be. I am who I want to be and I am what I put out for them to see.. Don’t let the small details take over. Whatever happened, happened. I need to let go of the past. Let go of any anger, jealousy, bitterness I felt towards anyone or any situation. Do not hold on to what drags me down. Be open. Receive. Embrace. Do not be distracted by all the noise that life presents. Cut it out. Focus.

I went on another 3-day juice and will never do it again

I did it again. I survived 3 days on pure juice. This time, instead of making the juices myself, I dropped $240SGD on 24 bottles of cold-pressed juice, 8 bottles a day for 3 days (Wednesday through Friday).

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NOT

Conclusion? I am never doing it ever again.

Sure, I feel less fat and I probably lost some weight, but the time it is taking me to ‘recover’ is not worth it. Compared to the first time I went on a juice cleanse, this was easy peasy. The difference was that this time, I had no cravings whatsoever to eat. Watching people eat helped a lot. It may have made my friends and colleagues feel a bit uncomfortable, what with my big brown eyes staring at their chopsticks clasping the noodles or the sounds of their mouth chewing and savoring that juicy chicken, but I was literally feasting with my eyes. There was one point in Day 2 where I yelled aloud “why the hell am I doing this to myself!” But there was free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the office, so I guess that made me lose control just a little bit.

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What pushed me to go on this juice cleanse was the need to clean my body of the literal crap I’ve ingested for the past 3 months. Since July, I’ve been loosening the reigns on what I put in my body and felt like it hit a point where eating healthy would only last til after lunch. Then the snacks, sweets and indulgent dinners with friends will commence, which kinda just cancels out the healthy morning I had. It does not help that my amazing wonderful office offers free lunches, chips, cookies, fruits, granola bars- you name it and it’s there (not that I am complaining).

The most obvious reaction that my body gave to the lack of fuel and sustenance was feeling completely light-headed on day 1 at 4pm, having a hard time waking up on day 2 and 3 (literally had to peel myself off my bed), and the conversations that my tummy was having with my colleagues between 2-4pm. I did not go to the gym at all these 3 days, which is an accomplishment if you ask me. It’s not that I didn’t want to go. I still set my alarm for 5:45am. It’s just that when it rang, I felt like I was being squeezed into a 6-inch wide tunnel and my head would combust if I opened my eyes. When I sat up, my world was actually spinning, so I just went back to sleep, woke up at 7:30am and experienced the same effect all over again. That’s what juicing did to me.
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I’ve been sick ever since my cleanse was over. This is attributed to the fact that my body was lacking the nutrients my body needed to sustain itself. The juices were also hella cold for me to drink first thing in the morning so I got a sore throat (it’s an Asian thing- drinking cold stuff in the morning is a big no no for the body). I’m still recovering as I’m writing this post.

The worst part is? I slipped right back into my old habits after I finished my cleanse. There were just too many things happening that weekend and the following week that I would rather say yes to than give excuses like “oh no, I’m living on lettuce and carrot sticks- I can’t have brunch even though you’re visiting from the U.S.” or “I’m sorry I can’t go for two dinners because I am surviving on rocket salad”. Naw. Experiences > diet.

Might as well, right?
Might as well, right?

So if you’re thinking of spending a bomb on juicing, ask yourself why you’re doing it and most importantly, if you are able to commit to eating clean after it’s over. Otherwise there’s no point.

Bali- A haven for healing

I went to Bali to heal. To heal my head, my soul and my heart. I knew I needed a change from the chaos that is Singapore, but what I didn’t know was how much I needed the healing.

I wouldn’t say these 9 days changed my life in any drastic way and I wouldn’t say that I “found myself”. But I will say that the storm in my head has calmed.

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Up to a month before I went to Bali, my head was a mess. I couldn’t tell up from down and left from right; it was chaos in there, like a black hole sucking all my energy and life out of my soul. People were leaving me, my job prospects were dim and the guy I was seeing was treating me like crap. I was in a constant confused daze and my thoughts were eating away at me. When enough was enough, I knew I needed to get out of this toxic environment and cleanse my soul. I felt like my soul was locked up in a dark room with no windows and it desperately needed to get out. I wanted to let it run and fly free and roam. So I contacted two of my friends who live in Bali and they both encouraged me to visit them and to stay as long as I’d like. I will forever be grateful for their company, hospitality and never-ending kindness over the next 9 days. Continue reading “Bali- A haven for healing”

Pick Up Yourself 2

Life is hard.

What started off as a great week ended with me waking up with a headache on Sunday.

Monday: After changing my mindset on Sunday night, I woke up on Monday with no headache at 9am naturally (I couldn’t sleep til 5am the night before, so I was pleasantly surprised that my head didn’t hurt). I followed my schedule (except for doing laundry in the morning since I slept so late but it worked out because it rained later in the afternoon and my clothes would have been drenched- life does have a way of working out that way) and had a great end to the evening where I PTFOed by midnight.

Tuesday: woke up at 8am- no headache. Ready. I did my laundry and went for my driving lesson. The toll of last week was still on me and my mind and body were telling me that they wanted to get out of Singapore- take  a little break. Honestly? I had nothing to lose. I have no job, no real commitments here, so leaving wouldn’t hurt me in any way. I talked to a couple friends in Bali who all urged me to go visit them and stay with them “for as long as [I’d] like”; thus I YOLO-ed and booked my tickets to Bali for 9 days (it started out as 3 days)- I leave tonight!

Continue reading “Pick Up Yourself 2”

Pick Yourself Up

Life is hard.

This past week has been especially hard. I had to readjust my life when one of my best friends moved away and when my mum left after two months of living with me. I had to readjust my life when I found out the guy I was seeing was being dishonest and disloyal with me (what’s new?).

I can’t say that one had a bigger impact than the other- they were all equally horrible and took its toll on me. I woke up late with headaches, did nothing at home all day, stopped going to the gym and wasn’t a fun person to be around; I had no motivation for life.

But enough is enough. Today I told myself: this is the lowest I am at right now and it can’t get any worse than this. I still have amazing friends here who care about me and life can only go up from here. Life will always be hard but you really just have to pick yourself up and make the best out of it. It’s so much easier said than done, but the first step is to take action.

This is what I did- I made a plan for tomorrow.
I set my alarm to 8am. I will do laundry until 10, head to the gym for my 11:15 class and come home from gym at 1. I’ll make some lunch, take down and fold my laundry, take off all my nailpolish and cut my nails. Then I will apply for jobs. At night, I will make my plan for Tuesday.

No one said it was going to be easy, but a start is a start no matter how simple it is. Plan to wake up early and do something productive tomorrow. The next day, do two productive things. Hopefully soon you will get the ball rolling.

Tomorrow is the start of a new week. Let’s start it fully charged. Let’s start it with confidence.

Courtesy of whatshouldwecallme tumblr
Courtesy of whatshouldwecallme tumblr

Why do we even try, when the barriers are so high and the odds are so low? Why don’t we just pack it in and go home? It’d be so, so much easier. It’s because in the end there’s no glory in easy. No one remembers easy. They remember the blood, and the bones, and the long agonizing fight to the top. And that is how you become legendary.

The Distance- Grey’s Anatomy

An Overdue 2014 Recap

Holy CRAP it’s been awhile. tumblr_inline_niyjl1Kc2M1r79k32 Between exploring Singapore, going to the gym, finding a job and working, I’ve had zero time to myself the past five months. When I did, I would spend the day lazing in bed catching up on TV shows, but even that would just be a once-a-month thing. Now that 2014 has ended, I figured this would be a great time to start blogging after my hiatus, starting with a recap of the past year.

2014 was the year where I learned about my capabilities and limits.

Continue reading “An Overdue 2014 Recap”

I’m almost 23 and I don’t want to leave home

Before I dive into my story, here’s a little background- I have a Singapore passport but my parents are based in Shanghai (we’ve been living here since 2001). So whenever I go “home” it’s in Shanghai. But Singaporeans are only allowed to stay in Shanghai for two weeks without a visa, so I either leave within two weeks or spend money to apply for a visa. We don’t have a house in Singapore so we stay with my grandma and aunt whenever we visit.

Here goes.

It’s been 9 months since I’ve seen my mum and 10 months since I’ve seen my dad. This trip back home has been different. I can joke around with my parents more and it feels so natural. I’m not trying to impress anybody or live up to anybody’s expectations. We watch our daily Chinese programs together (and even though I don’t understand what’s going on half the time, my dad will always explain it to me- I have never seen him so into something before! I also find it endearing when he gets emotional with what’s going on in the show teehee). I can talk freely about my job applications. Talking about job-hunting, they have, not once, pressured me into finding a job as soon as possible. This is something that I really appreciate; they know how hard it is for me to figure out what I want to do, but all I hear from them are words of encouragements.

Continue reading “I’m almost 23 and I don’t want to leave home”

I just want to believe in you and me

I’ve rooted for their win since they auditioned with Toxic (I cry every time I watch it) on The X Factor US. These two have such unbelievable chemistry and they are always there for each other; Alex is amazing at how he tries to calm Sierra down before they go on stage because she wasn’t as experienced as he was back then. I loved following their love story throughout their season. When they sang Say Something, I knew they were going to win and they did.

Now they’ve finally released a four-song album and I can’t be more in love with it.

This is Scarecrow by Alex and Sierra (can’t believe they’re only 23!). Their voices are mesmerizing and so crisp and clear. I love the subtle vibrato in both their voices and they blend so well together. As usual, the lyrics speak right to my heart. They’re simply amazing.

Continue reading “I just want to believe in you and me”