41 Important Lessons I Learned In The Last Year

Sunday, 23 July 2017

I've been loving myself far too much lately (I think) because I have been spending hours reading previous entries on my own blog and looking at my posts on instagram. It's a good thing that I did this though, because one of my blog posts inspired me to reflect on the important lessons that I've learned in the last year or so. In fact, some of the things that I will be writing here are extracted from my previous entries. 

A lot of things have happened between 40 and 41. It's amazing how things can change so swiftly in a short span of time. As they say, change is always good as it allows us to be the person we are meant to be. And for that, here is my list of the important lessons that life taught me before I turned a year older:

1. Don't be afraid to take the leap of faith no matter where you are in your life right now. Forget about the uncertainties and look forward to the many possibilities.

2. In connection to that, always follow your heart because even the things you never dreamed of will happen when you do.

3. In this life, you don't always get what you want no matter how hard you pray for it. Instead, you are given what you need

4. A Bucket List is a good idea, but when I failed to tick half of my 40 before 40 list, I stopped making lists and decided to just go with the flow. No bucket list means no pressure. It also means less disappointments. Besides, most of the good things that happened in my life were unplanned. 

5. Not to say that I no longer have ambitions because I still do. I just realised that living a life doesn't mean constantly chasing goals and living in the future, but rather enjoying the present and focusing on what's important right now.

6. At the end of the day, I have no one to impress but myself

7. Date yourself often. Dating myself made me realise that I am the best friend I could ever have. 

8. Being selfish is a good thing- only if it means loving yourself first so you can love others better.

9. I learned how to invest time, effort and money only on those things and people that I know can help me become a better person.

10. I regained control and power over my life by learning how to say no. The truth is, you can never please everybody no matter what you do, so only say yes to the things that are important to you.

11. Life is too short to spend on forced conversations and meaningless friendships.

12. Life is so much better if you get rid of anyone and anything that give you unnecessary stress. 

13. Surround yourself only with people who infuse positivity in your life. People who never fail to remind you of who you truly are. People who bring out the best in you even in the worst situation. People who will push you up when the whole world is trying to pull you down.

14. You only need a handful of really good friends to survive in this world.

15. Losing friends is not a reflection of your being, but a mere proof that people do change and weak friendships wither.

16. Even the people you've done only good things for will doubt your character and your loyalty when things don't work out in their favour.

17. Walk away from friends who give you reasons to doubt your friendship.

18. You are not responsible for anyone's behaviour towards other people.

19. Every person who comes into our lives has a purpose. Some leave once their purpose is fulfilled, while others stay for the rest of our lives. 

20. Anger doesn't last forever. But the hurtful things you say and do when you're angry do. So, think again.

21. Once someone starts ignoring you, do not bother them again.

22. Success is not all about working hard. Believe me. It is also sometimes just being at the right place, at the right time, with the right people.

23. Invest more on experiences, less on material things. Experiences become important memories that we can keep in our hearts for the rest of our lives. Material things lose value over time. 

24. True wealth is not measured by material possessions. It is measured by your ability to remain humble despite being rich.

25. Never complain about not having enough clothes or shoes to wear. There are people out there who genuinely do not have anything to wear.

26. Quality over quantity. Always. In everything. 

27. Be careful whom you show your vulnerability to because they can use that against you.

28. Less words, less trouble. Share your stories and opinions only with those who are genuinely interested. Some people are just there for the gossip. Always remember, words travel faster than you think.

29. Some people's insecurities are hidden in their confidence.

30. Sometimes in life, you need a man who is willing to take a risk with you and take you under his wings.

31. Knowing your partner's language of love will not only help you understand him, but will also help you manage your relationship expectations better.

32. In managing relationship issues, there is no point in arguing if you can talk things through.

33. Comparing the past with the present made me appreciate the present more

34. Men are often confused, if not lost. They need a strong woman to lead the way. If you choose to be that woman, you need to be patient.

35. And if you want something from your man, ask for it and be specific. Men can't read our minds apparently.

36. Make it a habit to make someone feel good about themselves by simply telling them what you like about them- sincerely.

36. Give not because you believe that "the more you give the more you receive", but because you genuinely want to.

37. Family is family, no matter how bad they make you feel sometimes. 

38. Distant relatives are never distant if you have that special connection that brings you closer together.

39. "What other people think of you is none of your business", so always be yourself. They can take or leave it. It's their choice not yours. 

40. Self-reflection is the key to becoming a better person.

41. Your thoughts are as powerful as your words. Think positively.

There are actually more than 41 crucial lessons that I've learned in the last year. However, this blog is for my 41st birthday so I will leave it as it is. Perhaps, I can write some more in the future. 

For now, I just hope that you can pick up a lesson or two from my list above as I continue to learn more lessons from the best teacher that is life.


On Why Turning 41 Was A Beautiful Experience

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Whenever I felt like the whole world was against me, one of my dearest friends would tell me to learn how to be my own best friend. She made it sound like so easy but for a while, I wondered what it really meant to be your own best friend- until I went to New Zealand and suddenly enjoyed being in my own company. Then I met a beautiful friend who inspired me to find happiness in doing things alone. Since then, I learned how to rely more on myself emotionally and then I started to develop a more positive relationship with my selfThis is the reason why this year, I started a new tradition that is to celebrate my birthday quietly and decided to date myself instead, with the special participation of J (because he is quite competitive that way). He also wanted to do something special for me and who am I to refuse, right?

So, what did I do exactly that made my anticipated 41st birthday a beautiful experience? Well....

1. I took a few days off
- Since I came to the UK, I made it a rule to be off on my birthday, and I've been quite fortunate to have been able to do this for the last 16 years. I believe I deserve a rest day on my birthday, don't you?

2. I had a relaxing a massage
- Recently, I have been experiencing some shoulder pains and I blame it on the big shoulder bag that I carry to work everyday. Since I haven't had a proper back massage in the last two years (and it's my birthday anyway), I booked myself a full body Thai massage at our neighbour's. Although it wasn't quite the massage environment that was advertised, it was nevertheless a very relaxing experience. And for just £30, I suppose I got what I paid for.

3. I challenged myself  
- I have been running regularly but I haven't actually ran farther than 9km since April, so I wanted to run 10k at least one more time before I bid goodbye to 40. True enough, I challenged myself and ran 11km on Saturday. 

4. I supported random people in the best way I can
- I didn't realise that last Sunday was the Virgin London 10k. So after my morning run, I joined a group of young volunteers to cheer on the runners. It's always a good feeling to know that you have supported other people. Somehow this was my (other) way of giving back.

5. I went on a date
- He maybe is a quiet person, but J is really one of the sweetest people I know. Two days before my birthday, he took me to the "world's most romantic restaurant" for lunch. And the best surprise of all was the birthday candle. This, in all honesty, made me appreciate J even more.

6. I revived a tradition and bought myself a gift
- A complimentary hand and arm massage from Jo Malone has been a part of my birthday celebration in the last few years, but I missed out on it last year because I was in New Zealand. Nothing has changed except the fact that I went on my own this time. It was indeed a revealing experience. I promised myself to only share this experience again with the right people. Until then, I'd be happy to continue the tradition by myself. And with that thought, I bought myself a bottle of one of my favourite summer scents- Blackberry & Bay.

7. I did something I absolutely love all by myself
- And in the comfort of my home- thanks to Brigit's Bakery for making it possible for me to experience an afternoon tea for one without too much fuss.

8. I celebrated my birthday in one of the best restaurants in London with J
- Absolutely the best birthday meal ever! Personally, everything about L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon was perfect. I loved the open kitchen dining as I was able to watch the chefs while they prepared the food. The ambience was exactly as I wanted it to be on my birthday- relaxing and friendly. The service was excellent- everything was served with a smile. It was really an amazing food experience.

9. I absolutely did nothing
-  After our incomparable lunch at Joel Robuchon,  I decided to do nothing but watch The Championships. I lounged on the couch (with a bowl of popcorn on my lap) and watched Konta win the women's quarter finals. It felt good to be able to do just that.

10. I didn't have any more expectations
- I've always been that girl who loves attention only because I grew up surrounded by people who always made me feel so loved and secured. Growing up, my parents (although we didn't have much money) always ensured that I had a party at home with my friends. I can't recall having a birthday cake though, but I remember I've always had my favourite "dodol"- a rice pudding that was constantly stirred in a big wok using a bamboo stick until it was thick and sticky. 

I very much enjoyed being the centre of attention then and I still do unto this day, only in a very different way. This time, I actually enjoyed the attention that I gave to myself more than the attention that I received from other people because I had no expectations. That being said, I honestly appreciate from the bottom of my heart, all the love and kindness that people have shown me on my birthday. 

I am very thankful for the constant people in my life who continue to remind me of who and what I really am. These are the people who have made my birthday extra special for the last few years (especially the last three).

Not to mention of course, my social media friends who always take time to send me thoughtful birthday messages.

I am beyond grateful.


5 Days Of Bliss At The Lake District

Thursday, 6 July 2017

I don't think I've done anything adventurous in England before, so I was really looking forward to J's annual family holiday in the Lake District. And when I say holiday, I mean the most relaxing holiday I've had for as long as I can remember( but New Zealand doesn't count). No pressures. No dramas. Simply stress-free. 

J and I drove from Newcastle to Langdale where we stayed for five days. The drive was easy and picturesque - kind of like New Zealand really, only on a smaller scale. 

On our first day, we went on a hike to Helm Crag. We ascended from Grasmere and although the mountain didn't look that high, it was very prominent that you could see it from the village. The majority of the climb was easy to moderate in my opinion. It only got challenging towards the summit.

The views from start to finish were astonishing. So much greenery. I honestly didn't expect this.

After confidently climbing up three quarters of the mountain, I suddenly panicked when I realised that the only way to the summit was through a rather steep, rocky ridge. I had no choice as going back down on the same path looked more dangerous than actually climbing up. So I carried on, crawling. Literally.

My confidence drifted away as I held on each rock as firmly as I could hoping not to slip. Suddenly, J was behind me reassuring me that  I was going to be fine. 

I was very relieved indeed when I finally reach " The Lion and the Lamb" because I thought it was the summit.

It turned out that we still had a few metres to climb before we could reach "the old woman playing organ". There were a few brave young souls climbing up to the top. As much as I admired them,  I almost died when J attempted to climb up and slipped (slightly). I pulled him and begged him to go down.

Lunch was served (fresh from our backpacks) afterwards with this amazing view:

On our way down, we walked through the valley. The consistently beautiful views were very rewarding. It probably took us at least 2 and a half hours to go up and down the mountain, with some photography lessons in between. Personally, I think that this Helm Crag climbing experience is ideal for a Lake District first-timer like me. 

The following day, it rained so we stayed in. Apparently,  a holiday in the Lake District is not complete without rain so it was good to have experienced it. In the evening, we had a very nice family dinner at the Stove Restaurant and Bar located within the Langdale Hotel and Spa. It was indeed a very chilled-out day.

The day after, we drove to a a cafe in Ambleside. J's niece calls it "the cake shop". It's a beautiful cafe by the river with an equally beautiful little shop attached to it. Their coffee was good and so was their rocky road brownie.  

The rest of the family drove back to the lodge after coffee while J and I decided to walk. The weather wasn't particularly great as it was raining and quite windy, but I must tell you that the walk was just as pleasant. Apart from the serene walk in the woods, I enjoyed crossing the overflowed river. Luckily I was wearing my ever reliable Wellington boots. That and a very good waterproof jacket are a must in the Lakes.

Our last day at the Lakes was very well spent indeed. We went for another climb, but this time on a smaller mountain (next to Silver How) as J's niece was with us. So much respect for the 5-year old because she climbed all the way up and down without being carried. I have great admiration for very young adventurers, and much respect to their parents too. And if I were to have a child, I would definitely introduce them to such adventures.

So from Langdale, we walked through an elevated path to Grasmere. The trail was not very easy, but I suppose easy enough for little people considering our little companion managed to climb without any help. However, some parts were rocky and slippery so again, a good footwear (ideally walking boots) is highly essential. 

After the climb, we treated our little adventurer with an ice cream bigger than her face. It was literary huge so she had to share it with us. Bless.

Then we drove to Brantwood, a historical house overlooking Coniston lake. We also explored their beautiful hilly garden and was rewarded with amazing water views.

I honestly think that this holiday was just what I needed after a challenging return to London. I never thought that it's still possible to go on a holiday, do things and still feel genuinely relaxed afterwards. Normally, I feel like I need extra few days off to rest after a holiday.

I am definitely looking forward to more holidays like this in the future.


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