6 Books That Helped Me Get Through Lockdown 2020

Sunday, 7 February 2021

I have been blogging for sometime now, but I've never written about books. So, this blog is my first. Just to be clear that this is not a review as I am not a book critic. I just thought I'd share the books that I read in 2020 which helped me get through the lockdown, one way or the other.

Back in high school, I used to read a lot of books- from the Bible, to Sweet Valley High, to Danielle Steel and Sidney Sheldon. Somehow I lost interest when I started university. I very rarely read pocket books, if not at all. Perhaps because I was focused on my studies- too focused that I used to cram for my exams quite a lot. Hehe. Seriously speaking though, in hindsight,  I shouldn't have stopped reading pocket books because it would have helped me with my writing. But whatever. Here we are now. A few decades later, I am actually writing about some of the books that I've read. Another milestone in my blogging adventure. :) 

Actually, I have already posted these on my Instagram account, but if you're not following me there, then here they are:
1. Help Me by Marianne Power
- "Help Me" is only one of the five books that I read in less than a week. It is an easy read and made me laugh out loud a few times. This book reaffirmed me why I never followed the advice of self-help books before.

Anyway, at one point in my life, I resorted to some self-help books which didn't necessarily helped me. I realised that I didn't have to be someone other than myself to get through a difficult situation. I learned how to follow my heart instead, and believed (and I still do) that life is a trial and error. If I made mistakes along the way, I tried again until I got it right. Also, I dated a man who saw one of my self-help books called "Why Men Love B*tches". He told me that I didn't need to be a b*tch to be loved by a man. And almost 6 years later, I am still with him. So yeah, just like Marianne Power, I learned that all I needed to do to overcome the challenges was to be myself, and to accept the situation that I was in. After all, acceptance is the key.

2. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy
- The first ever book that I finished reading inside a bookstore. Once I started reading it, I just couldn't stop. This book reaffirms everything that I have been trying to do (all this time) in order to live a happier and a more meaningful life. I am still a work in progress, and this book will now be one of my constant reminders of what life should truly be all about. And oh, the illustration is just wonderful. Every household should have a copy of this book.

3. Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by David Kelley
- "To ultimately reach creative breakthrough, you just need to start, regardless of small failures that may occur along the way. It's unlikely that your first try at anything will be a success. But that's okay. It's hard to be "best" right away, so commit to rapid and continuous improvements. The messiness of such trial and error may seem uncomfortable at first, but action allows most of us to learn at a faster rate; it's almost a prerequisite for success. Otherwise, the desire to be best can get in the way of getting better."- Tom Kelley and David Kelley. Although this book is very corporate, this book reaffirmed the way I think and act as a leader in healthcare.

4. The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
- " The law is simply reflecting and giving back to you exactly what you are focusing on with your thoughts. With this powerful knowledge, you can completely change every circumstance and event in your entire life, by changing the way you think". I have always believed that I am a positive person and knew what I wanted in life. But, I think I have always been wrong. Or perhaps I didn't think about them enough. Or maybe because I didn't have a vision board. Whatever it is, apparently it's something to do with the state of mind. So, yes I am still working hard on this one. And apparently, it's never too late. All I need to do is learn how to control my thoughts, and think and act with conviction. 😉

5. Dear NHS by Adam Kay
- Not quite sure about this book, but thank you NHS. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work and live abroad. Thank you for building my nursing foundation in the UK. Thank you for shaping me to become the nurse that I am today. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to meet and work with some of the most amazing nurses, nurse assistants, surgeons, doctors, allied health professionals, admin staff, cleaners, porters, etc. Thank you for all the wonderful things that you do. I will always be grateful and proud to have spent most of my nursing life with you. I hope to return one day. For now, I pray that the universe will keep you and my friends safe.

6. Sex and Vanity by Kewin Kwan
- I loved the Crazy Rich Asians movie, but actually haven't read the book series yet. Sex and Vanity is the first Kevin Kwan book that I have read. Despite the mixed reviews, I actually liked it. It's light and funny with a heart. A perfect summer read if I may say. Everything in the book is over the top extravagant- and loads of name dropping! I wonder who will play my favourite characters Freddie and George if ever the book will be made into a film, and oh, the Ortiz  sisters from the Philippines! And guess what? Kevin Kwan himself actually liked my post on instagram, so yes!

So, those were the 6 books that I read during last year's lockdown. But I don't want to end this blog without sharing the book that received the most likes on my instagram feed, although I finished reading it in 2019. I am not actually sharing it just for that, but also because the photo is one of the best photos I've ever taken. In fact, someone from California (Magnolia Wellness in Costa Mesa) actually used my photo (with permission) to promote their virtual book club. It also stayed in top 5 photos of #goopbookclub for a few weeks. And if you check #lauralynnejackson, two of my photos of the book are currently in top ten. So yes, I am proud of myself for those little things.

The book is called "Signs" by Laura Lynne Jackson. It took me a month to finish the book and I finished it whilst I was in Montreal, Canada.  For me, it was worth the read because it somehow made me reflect on the "signs" that were sent to me by Keith when he crossed- and there were so many of them. There were stories in the book that validated my personal experiences and made me want to fully believe in signs. I guess this book becomes more meaningful if you actually have lost someone really close to your heart. There is definitely something beyond this world that is quite hard to understand. And the signs that the universe is sending us may just be the answers to a lot of our questions- we just need to be more aware of them. Maybe, just maybe. There is definitely no harm in believing anyway. 

My aim is to finish at least one book a month this year. So far, I have finished two books, so I'm crossing my fingers that I'll be able to reach my reading goals this year. 


Keith's 9th Year In Heaven

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Where did the time go? Next thing I know, it's been nine years since Keith left us. 28th of January nine years ago remains the saddest day of our lives, but in the last nine years, we have kept Keith's memories alive in more ways than one. We still talk about him as if he never left. Although whenever I look at his photos, I still feel the pain because I really miss him. But, they are also one of the things that remind me how lucky I was (and still am) to have been called Mommy by a beautiful boy who was truly an angel on earth. 

So, today we remember Keith on his 9th year in heaven. Whilst I would normally donate blood to honour Keith, I didn't this time because I recently had COVID-19. I, however, continued other traditions that I started nine years ago. I wore Keith's favourite colour baby blue all day. As I've always done since he left, I lit a candle this morning and played his favourite song "Lighters". I sat for a while browsing at his photos whilst cuddling his favourite toy, Meowmeow. 

Back home, it's customary for them to prepare some food for the family to remember Keith on this day. When I called this morning, they had some close family members over. Although the way we remember Keith has changed over the years, we still make sure that we do things no matter how little to honour him. As I said before, he touched so many lives in his short life on earth. And even if other people will forget him, his loved ones will not. He will always be our Keith who inspired so many children. He was a boy who was very shy, but was always willing to share his talents. He was our Keith, who lit up our lives and who made us all very proud.

We miss him dearly. He may have left us but he remains in our hearts forever. We love you always, our dear Keith.


When COVID-19 Hits Home: My Personal Journey

Sunday, 24 January 2021

On the 4th of January, I woke up with cold symptoms. And because I've not had enough sleep for about 5 days before that, I thought I was just tired so I went to work as usual. At work though, I felt very cold and soon after lunch, I started coughing continuously. My throat was very dry and I felt quite warm inside. But despite the symptoms, I felt fine. 

For some reason before I left work that day, I decided to take my temperature. It was 37.6. I didn't think any of it as I normally get these symptoms in the winter anyway, especially when our heating at home is quite high. But in the current environment that we are in, you can never be sure. It just so happened that we were rolling out the lateral flow testing that week, so I asked for my kit so I could do a test before I went to work the following day. I also asked for a PCR swab test although I wasn't due one- just in case. 

When I got home on that Monday, I was sneezing. I decided to sleep in a separate room from J - just in case. The following day, I did the lateral flow test at 0615 am, just before I was supposed to leave for work. It was positive. As this test kits are apparently only about 70% accurate, I did another one. It was still positive. Although I knew there was a possibility, I didn't want to entertain that thought. That's why when I saw two lines on the kit the first time, I became very anxious. This was despite having only mild symptoms. That Wednesday, my PCR swab test came back positive. I was very disappointed, but there was nothing I could do. I had the dreadful virus, so I had to deal with it.

So, I began my isolation period. I had to sleep in a separate room from J. Our infection control measures became more robust. We wore masks, gloves and sanitised the surfaces with Dettol. We washed our hands rigorously with antibacterial soap like there was no tomorrow. We prepared our food separately. Unfortunately, we only have one bathroom in the flat, so I had to spray the bath, sink and the toilet bowl with Dettol every after use. It was tedious to be honest, but it had to be done.

And as mild as my symptoms were, it was still unsettling. I knew that coronavirus symptoms can progress very rapidly, so I was vigilant. I checked my temperature and my oxygen saturations regularly. For at least three days, I experienced mild shortness of breath on exertion. At some point, my sats dropped to 96%. It has always been 99-100%. Apart from that Monday, I didn't have cough nor fever. I only had headache and runny nose, sometimes blocked nose. On the third day, I developed hoarseness of voice, but it went away the following day. 

I was determined not to let this coronavirus win, so I didn't entertain my symptoms. I still exercised every morning, but I only lifted light weights. I continued to do household chores, although at times I felt quite tired and slightly short of breath. I started yoga again after so many years to ease my anxiety. I recited positive affirmations- one thing that I've never been good at. I prayed hard. I drank warm water with honey, lemon and whole clove twice a day. My brother suggested that I inhale warm water with ginger, so I did that too. I continued taking Vitamins D and C. I took nurofen cold and flu because it always works for me whenever I feel under the weather. I read an uplifting book. I watched funny and inspiring vlogs on youtube- one thing that I don't normally do. Yes, I don't watch vlogs at all but I am glad I did when I was on isolation because I came across the Hungry Syrian Wanderer. I became a fan instantly and now I look forward to his vlogs. I also started watching Vice Ganda's vlogs. Man, I have not been this lazy in a long, long time. You know, for a while I have been wishing to have a day off and just do nothing. It took a coronavirus for me to do that. 

Anyway, I felt better after one week so I pushed myself further and started doing cardio exercise. At this point, I have claimed complete healing! I went back to work on Monday, 18th of January. 

I have fully recovered  now, and although J and I have completed 10 days of isolation from each other, I decided to complete at least 20 days because I wanted to make sure that I certainly no longer have symptoms. And today, we were finally  able to hug each other, albeit still wearing masks. 

Initially, I was disappointed and truthfully - bitter because as far as I know, I was more careful than most people out there, and yet I got infected. J has been working from home since March and has not really gone out of the house apart from medical appointments. I felt very bad that I brought the virus in our house. But because I work in a hospital, it makes me more susceptible. 

To sum up, this has been an eye opening experience. The thing is, whether I had mild symptoms or not, the fact that I had the corona virus was simply scary. I was fine physically, but I was all over the place mentally. There were so many what ifs and whys. But, I am very grateful indeed that I only had minor symptoms and that J didn't get it. We are some of the lucky ones.

And although I never doubted that this virus is real, it became more real to me when I had it. So please, stay safe.


The Greatest Teacher That Was 2020

Friday, 1 January 2021

2020 definitely changed the world in more ways than one. As I write this blog and reflect on the greatest teacher that was 2020, I mourn the loss of my second father, Daddy Henry. It wasn't the 2020 ending that I prayed and hoped for, but God had other plans yet again. Sometimes we are given no choice than to accept the things that we have no control of. As much as it hurts to lose a loved one during the worst of times, I know that we have to at least try and find the silver lining amidst of it all. Suffice it to say that 2020 was a very challenging year. But with the challenges came the most valuable lessons. For me, the two greatest lessons I learned last year were kindness and gratitude- two of which I have practiced all my life, but this pandemic brought a whole new meaning and essence to me.

Why Kindness?

During this pandemic, so many people lost their lives and jobs. Similarly, a lot of people lost their homes, livelihood and loved ones from the devastating fires and calamities in different parts of the world. There is no denying that the world went through the worst in 2020. Not forgetting the people who suffered mentally and emotionally during this time. But people came together and helped each other out. There were numerous relief operations and generous donations from a lot of caring people. There were thousands of volunteers who helped the people in need. The kindness that I have seen during this pandemic restored my faith in humanity. However, this does not mean that other people don't need to learn how to be genuinely kind because as much as I was inspired by the kindness of some, I was also disappointed in those who won't even try to be kind to others. This is the reason why kindness is one of the biggest lessons I learned last year. More so because  I was a witness to how some people were so unkind to others during those times when they should really have chosen to be kind, if they couldn't be anything else. Unfortunately, I met a few unkind people in my previous job and I experienced their unkindness first hand. Those moments when people came to me and opened up about how they were treated unfairly by other people will forever be etched on my mind. I spent a lot of time providing emotional support to people whose mental well-being was compromised by other people's negative behaviour. My heart breaks everytime I am reminded of how some people chose to mistreat other people instead of supporting them  to realise their own potential. Until now, I am still unsure whether these people eventually realised that they were the reasons why some of us left, and the impact their negative attitude had on some of us. Some people left the place emotionally injured, their confidence shattered and their hearts broken into pieces. If only people were kinder, then the workplace would have been a better place for everyone. Because the truth is, selective kindness does not work. If you choose to be kind, you have to be kind to everyone, not just to people whom you want to be kind to. So for 2021, I hope and pray that these people will come to their senses and realise that it is easier to be kind than not.

Why gratitude?

Because 2020 has elevated gratitude and gave it a whole new meaning. I am not going to lie and say that apart from the dreadful pandemic, I also had to go through some extra challenges last year which made me constantly uneasy. That's why you should be very grateful if the only thing that you had to worry about in the last ten months was the fact that you couldn't get out of the house to travel, eat and shop. Anyway, in February, my mother was diagnosed with abdominal aortic aneurysm which caused her health to decline in the last few months. Then she and my cousin had a COVID-19 scare. My mother is now wheelchair bound as she fell quite hard over a couple of months ago. She is stable at the moment, but I hope and pray that I'll still be able to see her once we are allowed to go home. Since I found out that my mother has AAA, I made an effort to call her everyday, even if it means only 5 minutes or so. Hearing her voice reassures me that (hopefully) she will make it through. And for this, I am very grateful.
We also had two trips to the operating theatre during the pandemic. You can probably imagine how it was like to be in a hospital during this time. Then almost two months ago, something really fearful happened to one my loved ones- one thing that I am not supposed to say as I am sworn to secrecy, so I will not elaborate. The emotional impact of these situations was harder this time round, with my stress and anxiety levels soaring high. And then, the recent passing of our beloved Daddy Henry.

But despite all this, I remain grateful. The pandemic has taught me how to appreciate the little things more than ever before. One of the blessings that I received last year was the fact that despite the pandemic and many people losing their jobs, I was able to successfully changed jobs twice. And these jobs paved way for me to meet some truly wonderful people, who became very dear to me. People that I know I will be in touch with for a very long time.

During the pandemic, I learned how to find joy and happiness in those little things that I would otherwise complain about because at times, I longed for more. I am blessed to have J in my life as a constant reminder that I have everything I need in my life, and that I don't need fancy things or food to be completely happy. The fact that I have a place I call home, food on my table and more than enough clothes and shoes to wear is enough for me to be grateful.

Apart from this, I am blessed to have managed to maintain and nurture my personal relationships, and reconnected with some special people who opened my heart, my mind and my eyes to better things. 

For sure, the pandemic has taught a lot of us many different lessons. But personally, it has taught me greater appreciation for my family, friends and everyone that I had the opportunity to meet. It has taught me how to live more simply, act more humbly and speak more gently and positively. 

Just like everyone else, I am glad that the rather overwhelming 2020 is finally over. And as the war against the pandemic continues, I remain optimistic that this will soon be over. 

For 2021, I wish nothing but better hope for humankind, health and safety for my beloved family and friends and fortitude for us all to withstand any difficulty that may come our way.

Happy New Year and please stay safe.

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