Option B by Sheryl Sandberg & Adam Grant (Part 2)

Taking Back Joy. When I listened to a happy song from childhood and started dancing, I felt happy. Survivor guilt can rob you of your joy. After his passing, I tried to have fun with my children. We took things that reminded us of Dave and made it part of our lives. Allow yourself to be happy and be kind to yourself. Joy has to come your within yourself and no one else. How you spend each day matters more than only the big moments of joy. Do the small things that make you happy. Write down the moments of joy each day. Happiness does require work. Humans are wired to focus on the negative as compared to the positive. The cool breeze could be a positive moment for gratitude too. Happiness can equate to peacefulness too. Try to engage in something challenging and engrossing that can give you that flow state. Exercise can help you to achieve that flow state quickly. Joy can give us strength too. You can find joy in the small moments that you seize and create for yourself.

Raising Resilient Kids. One way is to respond to embarrassment with humour. It is wise to just announce the sad news to your kids directly. We owe it to our children to make them as happy as possible. Early intervention is critical. The school needs to protect a safe environment for kids. Disadvantaged families should be provided with home visits and counseling. Resilience is a lifelong project. Children must develop these few beliefs: they have some control over their lives; they can bounce back from failure; they matter as human beings; they have real strength. It is important to help them understand that they are in control of their lives. Pre-school has a huge role to play in this. Allow your kids to share their dreams with others. It is important to get an education. Kids should adopt a growth instead of fixed mindset. Sometimes, complimenting too soon doesn’t work. Rather, one should comment ‘I’m glad you tried your hardest’. Adults need to tell the kids that they matter. In Denmark, children are encouraged to share their problems in class. Help your kid identify his strengths by making him pick up skills. For instance, you could encourage the kid to pick up a musical instrument. Respect your feelings and try not to suppress them. Sleep matters even during times of adversity. Learning how to forgive is also extremely important. Do not afraid to ask for help and encourage your kids to do so. Sometimes, I still talk about Dave as it helps to keep Dave’s memory alive. If your kids can have a strong understanding of your family members and their parents, they have been coping skills. Nostalgia is usually good as it reflects a pleasant state most of the time. Make the most out of Option B. Keep photos and videos of your loved ones as these help to create happiness.

Finding Strength Together. Hope is the key to resilience. It is possible to bond over hope and create a shared identity. People can pray together. It is important to change tragedy into a miracle. Keep your faith at all times. There is unity in strength. Collective resilience is also dependent on shared experiences etc. Attending support groups can also help you deeply. It might be wise to join a community after a tragedy. Asking for help is actually not a sign of weakness. Shared narratives can play a big part. It is also useful to be lifted by positive ‘stereotypes’ right at the start. Support circles help to build collect resilience. It can certainly be difficult to forgive a gunman who killed so many people. As a community, we can gather together to tackle the tough problems in life. Empowering communities can be the key sometimes. As a community, we can learn to support vulnerable groups.

We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. – Martin Luther King Jr

Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. – Martin Luther King Jr

Failing and Learning at Work. I took my kids to visit SpaceX. We need to learn from our failures. Often, we are too proud to admit that we made a mistake. The majority of things that people regretted was the actions they failed to take. Move fast and break things. At Facebook, we go for teambuilding and often fail at challenges. Failure must be seen as a learning opportunity. You could ask colleagues what their biggest screw-up is and everyone could compete to see who the biggest screw-up is. Resilience is needed in all organizations of all sizes. We need to all focus on learning from failure. Ask for feedback on how you can improve. Learn to gather and act on negative feedback. We all have our own blind spots but often ignore them. Feedback is hard to take. Sports teams often learn from their mistakes. Learn to take suggestions from a coach too. Try not to treat the feedback personally. People are afraid of criticizing others. Everyone should have at least 1 hard conversation in the past.

The more times a government or company had failed, the more likely they were to put a rocket into orbit successfully on the next try. Also, their chances of success increased after a rocket exploded compared to a smaller failure. – Sheryl Sandberg

When it’s safe to talk about mistakes, people are more likely to report errors and less likely to make them. Yet typical work cultures showcase successes and hide failures. – Sheryl Sandberg

To Love and Laugh Again. Being alone can be an empowering decision indeed. Getting married increases one’s happiness just by a bit. I wanted to find love again after Dave passed on. If you date too soon, people may judge you. Men are more likely to date after their spouse has passed on. The responsibility of caring for children and aged parents seems to fall on the women more. Widows in some parts of the world are cruelly treated. Do not listen to others. When your heart feels like you should date, you should go ahead. However, dating does not erase the grief and that is perfectly fine. When we fall in love, we have a great sense of energy and euphoria. Dating helps brings back the humour. Eventually, one will even learn to joke about death. Joking about Dave now helps to break the tension. Humor makes situations less stressful. It is still very much possible to love someone even after they have died. It is crucial to pay attention to the everyday interaction with our partners. You must turn towards their bid. One way to re-ignite the spark in a relationship is to try new activities. Partners have to be able to overcome conflict. You can’t control whether you fall in love. There is always Option B and we can still find joy.

Resilience in love means finding strength from within that you can share with others. Finding a way to make love last through the highs and lows. – Sheryl Sandberg

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Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

I (Margaret Simon) was moving to New Jersey and was anxious about my new school. I was a few months to being 12 years old. It turns out that my parents didn’t consult me when they bought a house at New Jersey. We moved because of grandma, Sylvia Simon. She was really nice and warm towards me. My family had enough to get by. I didn’t have any siblings to play with. Grandma liked to ask me about whether I had Jewish boyfriends. I found it puzzling. I wouldn’t be seeing grandma as much nowadays.

A girl knocked on my door in her bathing suit. She was Nancy Wheeler and was in 6th grade as well. Mum allowed me to play in the sprinklers with her. Nancy lived 6 houses away. I visited her house now. It was extremely neat and I was impressed with it. We would be in the same class. I was still flat. Nancy was undergoing puberty. Nancy practised kissing. Neither Nancy nor I kissed a boy before. Nancy was already experimenting with make-up at her age. Later, I was introduced to Nancy’s mum, Mrs Wheeler. Evan was 14 years old. He was Nancy’s brother. Evan was only interested in naked girls and dirty books. Moose and Evan were out on the lawn. Moose offered to cut my lawn for a small fee. Nancy educated me on what to wear on the first day and told me about some secret club where I could join. My dad loved gardening and would trim the garden himself. I started talking to God. I wanted to grow up quickly and be like Nancy. My parents didn’t know that I talked to God. God belonged to everybody.

Don’t you think it’s time for me to start growing God? If you could arrange it I’d be very glad. Thank you. – Margaret

My dad bought a lawn-mower. My dad got injured while mowing and was bleeding. Later, an ambulance came. I hoped his hand would be alright. Dr Potter had a daughter, Gretchen, who would be entering the same school as me. My dad’s hand needed stitching and we enrolled the services of Moose. Grandma came to pay my family a visit. She brought food along too. She took a bus to New Jersey and then cabbed to my house. My dad and mum were Herb and Barbara respectively. They were surprised that grandma could make it here from New York. Grandma missed me and wanted to call me every night. Grandma knitted me a new sweater. Later, she left.

It was my first day of school. My mum encouraged me to wear socks. However, Nancy didn’t want me wearing socks. She wanted to correct my posture now. My mum loved to nag and I hated it sometimes. Some of the girls in class had already started wearing bras. A man entered the class. He introduced himself as ‘Miles J. Benedict Jr’. He was our new teacher. We had to fill up an introduction of ourselves for our first exercise in class. Later, after school, I headed to Nancy’s to join her secret club.

Janie, Gretchen were the other girls at Nancy’s. Nancy warned me to stay away from Laura at school. None of the girls in the room had our periods yet. Janie and Gretchen thought Mr Miles as being cute. We named our club ‘four PTSs’. PTS would be Pre-teen sensations. Nobody would know of our club and it would strictly be kept a secret. We had to each keep a boy book and wear bras. Gretchen had to attend Hebrew school. I didn’t have a religion unlike the rest because my dad was Jewish and my mum was a Christian. Mondays would be our meeting days. I was either supposed to go to the Y or Jewish Community Centre even though I had no religion. It was weird.

Are you there God? It’s me, Margaret…Please help me grow God. You know where. I want to be like everyone else. – Margaret

Mr Benedict asked me why I hated religious holidays. I told him it was because I didn’t have any religion. I liked Moose actually. Later, my parents brought me to a lingerie store to try a bra. The salesgirl wanted to measure me. She suggested a Gro-Bra for me. It was one that would grow with me. I was too small for a AA. I stripped and my mum started putting on bras for me. We bought three bras in the end. It was an embarrassing moment for me.

Later, I stopped wearing socks as I thought it would be more hip. Mr Benedict gave us all projects to do but we could decide the topic. Nancy didn’t get a Gro-Bra. She got the 32 AA. Nancy suggested that we needed to exercise to get out of the Gro-Bra size. She suggested a method for us to increase our bust-size. The boys, Evan and Moose, heard us and laughed continuously. Some of the students in class started playing peep and it was very annoying indeed. I did my bust exercise before I headed to bed. Also, I studied for the upcoming social studies test. We all decided not to leave a name after completing the paper.

I scored a very respectable 98 for the test. I wanted to do a project on religion as I didn’t know what else to write about. Later I visited New York and grandma. I headed to a concert with her. Later, I was curious and told her I wanted to visit a Jewish temple. It was not because I was interested but I was just being curious. My parents didn’t know about it. She claimed that I was too young to know what I wanted yet. It would be a secret. It was time to look for God.

Later the Rabbi appeared in the temple. We had to stand and recite from a prayer book. My grandma introduced the Rabbi to me. I admitted that I loved the service. I knew that I needed more time to decide on a religion which I particularly liked.

Laura looked great in a sweater once again. Janie and I also visited church once together after we became quite close to one another. It was like temple, but everything was in English. I didn’t feel at God at all and I know that I should try harder next time. 2 weeks later, our gang started to dance together. I secretly wanted to dance with Philip Leroy during the class. Mr Benedict wanted us to enjoy ourselves thoroughly. Luckily, I managed to dance with Leroy and my hands were all clammy with sweat after the whole dance.

For Janie, Gretchen and I, Philip Leroy was the best guy around.  Janie tried to imagine Leroy without his shirt on. We were reading a book on the male reproductive system. Janie was exposed to nudity as her dad and bro walked around the house naked. Nancy said that in future, girls were attention seeking and wanted people to look at them. I know my dad had a copy of Playboy and I went to find it. We flipped through it and saw a naked girl posing at only age 18. However, her bust was so big that it looked out of proportion. We all wanted to increase our bust.

Grandma went on a three week cruise and my mum gave her a green silk box. Grandma wanted to give me a lot of stuff when she passed away. Later, my mother started sending Christmas cards. One day, I spotted her sending to Mr and Mrs Paul Hutchins, who were her parents. Our class was selected to participate in the choir and we learnt some Christmas songs. There was a guy from class that didn’t sing because it was against his religion. He obtained a letter from his home in order to succeed. So far, I still didn’t know which religion I wanted. I was involved in the choir too.

Later, I received a letter and collected it at home. It was an invitation to a party. It was from Norman Fishbein and I was instantly compelled to go even though he hardly talked to me in class. My mum allowed me to go. Janie, Gretchen and Nancy were all invited for the party as well. Later, we realized that the whole class was invited. I would wear my velvet dress that evening. I dressed up well and was ready to party. Later, when I looked in the mirror, I saw some hairs. However, I was still flat and unhappy. Instinctively, I grabbed cotton balls and shoved them in my bra. Now, it looked like I had grown. I thanked God and promised to do good things.

We squeezed at the back of Wheeler’s car and were headed to the party. Janie even had her hair trimmed before the party. Finally, we were in the Fishbein’s household. Most of my classmates had already reached and were equally well dressed. Philip Leroy started spraying mustard on the ceiling and was extremely childish. Mrs Fishbein served us cupcakes in different colors. Freddy was an idiot and he tore off Nancy’s dress pocket. Norman suggested lame games for us to play and they involved male-female interaction. Later, we would play spin the glass bottle. If the glass bottle pointed at you when it landed, you would need to kiss the person beside you. Gretchen got her crush Philip Leroy. Norman still had other stupid games for us to play. My number was called. Philip would have to kiss me in the bathroom. He told me to stop laughing and later kissed me on my lips. Later, it was my turn to call a number and I called Norman Fishbein. Norman kissed me on the cheek in the bathroom. According to Nancy, fate brought Leroy and me together.

I went for Christmas Eve services with the Wheelers. It was at the United Methodist Church of Farbrook. I enjoyed most of the service. However, I didn’t really feel God. There was no hint from above as to what religion should I pursue. Grandma called to check on me. On Friday, all the girls would have to watch a show on ‘What Every Girl Should Know’. It was about menstruation, which I already knew. The show just portrayed it to be a painless activity which was very natural. The booklet handed out recommended a sanitary supplies brand for us to use. One week later, Gretchen had it. Her mum ran to the drugstore to order some pads. This was my story. Her mum warned her that it may not be regular immediately. I worried and wanted to have it before I was 14. I was worried that I would be an abnormal child. Nancy got hers like only 3 days later. I was deeply worried with myself. I wanted God to help me with my discovering of religion and for me to start my menstrual cycle soon.

Mostly I don’t feel anything. Sometimes it feels like it’s dripping. It doesn’t hurt coming out – but I had some cramps last night, lower down and across my back. – Gretchen

I missed Grandma and wrote to her. Life in Florida was still alright. She was writing to my mum and dad as she wanted to stay with me during the spring vacation. She advised me to dress warmly to avoid falling sick. It seemed like Mr Binamin, a widower, and her had something in common.

Moose, Evan and I were visiting Nancy and her family in New York. After lunch, I heard Nancy moaning and then subsequently crying. She ordered me to get her mother. Her mum came but Nancy mentioned that she couldn’t unlock the door. Nancy was menstruating and I was requested to help her get a sanitary napkin. It was her first time. Nancy lied about having it a few days ago! Nancy was actually a liar! She made me swear not to tell the other girls about the fact that she lied so blatantly. I enjoyed being around Moose. I prayed to God again but I was more patient this time. I definitely didn’t want to lie to my friends.

I was 12 now and used the roll-on deodorant. Grandma made sweaters for me and sent me a $100 savings bond every year without fail. She also bought me a round trip air ticket to Florida. Nancy, Janie and Gretchen bought me a Mice Men record album. Mr Benedict didn’t want those who already knew each other to work on the same school project. So we couldn’t work together. I was paired with Norman, Philip Leroy and Laura. I hated talking to Laura as she was big and beautiful. My birthday felt rather rotten. I was sick of school now.

My group had to research on Belgium for 3 weeks. Philip didn’t do much work and often fooled around. Norman was a slow but willing worker. Laura was a good worker. Laura and I had an argument in the library. I mentioned to her that I heard her A&P story with Evan and Moose She denied all of that and called me a filthy liar and a little pig! It was then that I realized that maybe Nancy made the story up. Laura said she felt disgusted that people picked on her because she was big. She admitted that she was being teased in school since 4th grade because she had to already wear a bra then. Later, Laura headed to the church. I stepped into the church as well. Later, I bumped into the priest and quickly ran out of the church. I prayed again but there was no sign of God.

A letter came from Mary and Paul Hutchins, my other grandparents. They had disowned my mum when young. My dad was angry with mum for giving them our address I stomped out as I absolutely detested how mum and dad argued in front of me. They wanted to visit my parents after 14 years. My dad was pissed by the letter. However, their visit would clash with my trip to Florida and my parents didn’t want me to head to Florida. I started crying as I knew I couldn’t visit Grandma. Everything wasn’t working out now. God wasn’t fair and I still wanted to head to Florida.

Mum wanted me to cheer up. Mum couldn’t forgive her parents though. She told me that 14 years they made the decision and had belief it in when doing so. I finally got to meet them. They seemed alright. The initial exchanges were plain awkward. Grandmother was surprised that I didn’t go to Sunday school nor have a religion. To her, I needed to have one. My parents were nice and allowed me to choose a religion when I was older. Grandma was very persistent on me being Christian. I was pissed at having to listen to this conversation.

Especially for Margaret’s sake. A person’s got to have religion. – Grandmother

Nonsense! A person doesn’t choose religion. A person’s born to it! – Grandmother

I just can’t stand another minute of listening to you. Who needs religion? Who! Not me… I don’t need it. I don’t even need God! – Margaret

I didn’t want to talk to God now. Later, I went to watch a movie with Janie. We entered a drug store to look at the sanitary napkins. Janie suggested that I buy some for standby purposes. I paid the cash and brought the sanitary napkins home. It was the ‘Teenage Softies’ brand. I tried the pads on to see how they would feel. Thankfully, mum didn’t find out about it. My grandparents would be moving on to New York. However, my vacation plans to Florida were still ruined.

Later, I was pleasantly surprised to see Grandma come visit me instead. The man with him was Mr Morris Binamin. Grandma now said that I was a Jewish girl but I told her I didn’t believe in God at all and that it didn’t matter at all.

Sometimes Grandma is almost as bad as everybody else. As long as she loves me and I love her, what difference does religion make? – Margaret

I wrote to Mr Benedict about my year-long project on religion. I didn’t come up with any conclusions at the end. I felt I was too late to learn about it.

6th grade was over. We had a party and gave Mr Benedict a gift. I spoke to Moose when he was mowing my lawn. It turns out that he didn’t take Laura behind the A&P. They were all rumours spread by Nancy. Finally, I got my period as I saw my underpants were finally stained. I was growing and was finally a woman!

margaret

the perks of being a wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

August 25, 1991 to October 28, 1991

My friend is Michael. He stopped going to school after a while. I realized he passed away. Apparently, he committed suicide. The guidance counsellor was afraid that we might commit suicide. My name is Charlie. It was suspected that Michael killed himself. I started crying. I had a brother in school too. To me, other people have much worse problems than me. I also had a sister. ‘There are other people who have it a lot worse.’ I was a good student in school with good grades. My mum is emotional and my dad is hardworking at work. I loved Aunt Helen, my mum’s sister. I am starting high school tomorrow and I really dread the thought of school. I didn’t like school and my friend Susan was ignoring me. Michael and Susan were best friends apparently. I hurt a guy named Sean after he was mean to me. My bro was a football player. My whole family was emotional when my brother was featured on television. I hated doing the dishes at home. One day, the boy who liked my sister hit her. I didn’t feel that they were very compatible in the first place. There was a guy named ‘Nothing’ in my class. I got a C for my book review of ‘To kill a mockingbird’. I think interviews of actors are extremely fake. Aunt Helen has already passed away. My entire family was crying when she moved on some time back.

You know…a lot of kids hate their parents. Some of them got hit. And some of them got caught in the middle of wrong lives. Some of them were trophies for their parents to show the neighbors like ribbons or gold stars. And some of them just wanted to drink in peace. – Charlie

I went to a football game alone after Michael passed away. Patrick and Sam said hi to me during the game. Sam was a very attractive girl. The two of them were already together. Actually they were only siblings. I had a dream where I would fuck Sam. I had a nice warm conversation with Sam. Sam admitted that I was too young and that I should not bother to chase her.

I mean it’s not like in the movies where girls like assholes or anything like that. It’s not that easy. They just like somebody that can give them a purpose. Girls like guys to be a challenge. It gives them some mold to fit in how they act. Like a mom. – Patrick to Charlie

The thing is some girls think they can actually change guys. And what’s funny is that if they actually did change them, they’d get bored. They’d have no challenge left. You just have to give girls some time to think of a new way of doing things, that’s all. Some of them will figure it out here. Some later. Some never. – Patrick to Charlie

Charlie, we accept the love we think we deserve. – Bill

I was never good with girls. Bill was my good friend at school. My parents didn’t allow my sister’s boyfriend to see her anymore. My sister hated me for telling Bill about their episode. I did believe in God, but I didn’t really visit church that much. My dad talked to the boy’s parents. I am very introverted in nature. My brother threw a house party when my parents weren’t around. Soon, the police visited my place because we were creating a ruckus. Dave raped the girl. I feel infinite. I attended another party and enjoyed myself. Sam always took great care of me. I spotted Patrick kissing Brad during the party. Patrick wanted me not to say anything about what I witnessed. I was a wallflower because I see things. I keep quiet about them. And I understood them. The whole group toasted to me. Brad had a girlfriend named Nancy. And in that moment in the pickup with wind blowing in our faces, I swear we were infinite.

November 7, 1991 to Jan 1, 1992

Mary Elizabeth liked to smoke and led a Zen lifestyle. Patrick and Brad met at a party and they were bored. Later, they ended up fooling around when they were drunk. Patrick now really liked Brad after a few more similar episodes. Later, they had sex. Brad was the female in the relationship. Later, Brad kept crying and his parents sent him to rehab. He liked to get stoned a lot of them. At least now, he didn’t need to get drunk to feel loved. I got a B for my paper on Peter Pan. I wanted to write for a newspaper instead. I started working for a fanzine called Punk Rocky. To be honest, I love Sam. The problem is she is going out with a guy named Craig. Craig and Sam act in the same play. Sam has a low esteem and I wanted her to stop seeing Craig. My brother was super passionate about football. My dad loved to tell stories about his younger days and his football. My bro couldn’t make it back for Thanksgiving. Sam and Patrick would come to my place for dinner. Michael’s parents were getting a divorce. I liked holidays with my uncle and aunt. However, there will be quarrels between them occasionally. Secretly, my dad doesn’t like our grandpa. My grandfather cried when he saw my brother play football on TV. I consoled him.

I had to buy Patrick a present for Christmas. I wanted to get him a mix-tape. Asleep by the Smiths. I loved the books which Bill gave me. Patrick loved the mix tape. I also gave him some magnets and a set of watercolour paints, a harmonica and a book. It was called ‘The Mayor of Castro Street’. I met Sam and Patrick’s parents. Everyone was super friendly during the dinner. Patrick gave me a suit. Everyone else exchanged gifts too. I gave Sam a card and she kissed me, saying ‘I love you’. Sam bought me a typewriter. It said ‘Write about me sometime’. However, she was not ready to see me as she still had a boyfriend. I still remembered Sam’s kiss. Bill gave me a book ‘The Catcher in the Rye’. I hope Sam and Patrick would call me on my birthday, 24 Dec. My family watched ‘It’s a Wonderful life’. I didn’t know what to buy for my dad. He doesn’t read or watch many movies. My mum comforted me and said I could buy anything. My family bought me really nice presents for my birthday. My bro started dating a girl named Kelly. Dad liked the MASH tv series set I bought him. They met at a restaurant called Ye Olde College Inn. My brother was more rude and crude after his stint overseas. Kelly liked Walden by Henry David Thoreau. My brother started saying mean stuff to my sister. My dad gave me the wheel even if I didn’t know how to drive yet. I felt sad looking at some old photographs. We were going to visit grandma’s place. I will never know if Aunt Rebecca or grandma forgave Dad for moving out.

Usually, we visit Aunt Helen’s grave. We want her to know that we miss her deeply. Something bad happened to Aunt Helen in the past and I wanted to find out. She was molested in the past. Aunt Helen had a drinking and drug problem in the past. But after that, she took good care of us. She passed away on Dec 24, 1983, in a car accident. I never had the chance to say a proper goodbye to her. Up till today, I still missed Aunt Helen. I told Aunt Helen about my life at her grave. I was having my New Year’s Eve party tomorrow. I felt very upset all of a sudden after visiting her grave. My mind started spinning. I heard Sam and Craig having sex in the room.

January 4, 1992 to April 26, 1992

I dropped a letter off at a mailbox. I started throwing up and fell ill. My parents brought me in the emergency room. My family all showered me with extra attention. I didn’t want to take LSD again. If was said that people don’t really get out of LSD once they talk it. I was suffering from schizophrenia. The roads appeared like waves, and my face was plastic. I tried a cigarette from Sam. I was up to 10 cigarettes per day

You feel really bad, and then it goes away, and you don’t know why. I try to remind myself when I feel great like this that there will be another terrible week coming someday, so I should store up as many great details as I can, so during the next terrible week, I can remember those details and believe that I’ll feel great again. – Charlie

My psychiatrist was a nice man. I read On the Road. I was now finding out more about Bill. My date was Mary Elizabeth during the Sadie Hawkins’ dance. Craig and Sam didn’t show up at the Rocky Horror Picture. I was slated to play Rocky at the last minute. I really enjoyed the experience of acting on stage. Mary Elizabeth praised me for my performance. I had an erection after the play. Mary Elizabeth announced that she liked me. Sam gave me advice on dating. Mary had many previous boyfriends. Mary wants to get 2 degrees and wanted to explore lesbian relationships. I agreed to go out on another date with her. Sam and I was alone for a while. My sister was crying after her boyfriend didn’t dance much with her and left abruptly. We hugged each other and later she admitted she was pregnant. The boyfriend broke up with her. She wanted me to accompany her to the clinic as well. I was at the waiting room of the clinic. I could not concentrate on any of my readings. I vowed not to tell my parents about the pregnancy for now. My sister finally caught me smoking too. We both laughed over it. My parents didn’t suspect anything. My parents wanted to find out more about the girl I dated. I told him about Mary Elizabeth. My dad wanted me to use protection. Mary and I went out on a date again. Now, Mary started touching me. Now, she started to touch me and kiss me. Mary knew mentioned the record to me.

I don’t understand that. I would give someone a record so they could love the record, not so they would always know that I gave it to them. – Charlie

Patrick and Sam were coming over to my house for dinner. My parents kept talking to Mary instead. Mary wanted to control me. Be honest about your feelings. Mary was kind of attention seeking. She liked to call me all the time. I returned the book she gave me to the store. Back at home, I started crying. Now, I should start getting honest with my feelings about her. I gave her ‘To kill a mockingbird’. I didn’t want to reveal anything about myself to Mary. When I was asked to kiss the prettiest girl in the room, I kissed Sam instead of Mary. I was true to myself. Mary walked out and everyone in the room felt terrible. I started to cry and Patrick took me home. Mary wasn’t interested in my life but she kept talking about hers. The best thing for me was to keep away for a while. I admitted I would date Patrick if I were gay. There was something wrong with me, but I didn’t know what it was. Mary didn’t want to get back with me and I apologized. I truly was. Craig was angry at me too. My sister met a new guy in her life. I was ‘passive aggressive’. I wanted people to tell me what was wrong. I bought pot from Bob.

April 29, 1992 to June 22, 1992

I was trying to avoid the world and escape. I was thinking about changing schools. I realized I didn’t like the feeling of not talking to anyone in the past 2 weeks. One day, Susan came along and I talked to her. She didn’t reply when I asked her whether she missed Michael. I was pretty stoned during that period. I went to Bob to get more pot. He believed in karma. After a while, he keeps saying the same stuff. Brad father’s realized his son was together with Patrick. Brad stopped going to school. I realized thinking too much made me hurt on the inside even more. My sister’s new boyfriend was Erik, a junior in school. Bill gave me a new book, ‘The Stranger’.

Brad returned to school after a while. Brad and Patrick were still not on good terms with one another. Later, I found Patrick crying. Brad called him a ‘faggot’ and Patrick was mad. Patrick punched Brad. I also got involved once Brad’s friends joined in. Patrick was suspended for a week. However, Patrick and I got a month’s detention. Sam was waiting for me after detention. Sam wanted me to apologize to Mary face-to-face. I started to cry. Finally, I apologized and we were now friends. Mary dated Peter now, one of Craig’s friends. Patrick quit the Frank ‘N Furter play.

I was spending a lot of time with Patrick now. I was in his car and we were heading somewhere. We went to see a movie, ate pizza, played golf, drank wine etc. We shared stories with one another and it was great. When we were heading home, Patrick kissed me. We kept kissing each other and I listened to him talk about Brad. Patrick brought me to a gay park. A guy came to chat with me in the park. It was the guy who does sports on the TB news. Patrick brought me to try a Karaoke bar and drugs in an aerosol can. When he saw Brad with other guys, his expression changed. School was ending and prom was coming. Bill gave me another book to read ‘The Fountainhead’. I was only 16 years old. I enjoyed the fountainhead. The seniors were planning a prank. Patrick was going to the University of Washington and wanted to be a musician. Sam got into the college of her choice and a safety school. She ended up in Penn State, the same school as my brother. My sister was going to Sarah Lawrence, a liberal arts college. Mary Elizabeth was going to Berkeley. ‘I would die for you. But I won’t live for you.’

Something like that. I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and then make the choice to share it with other people. – Charlie

It was the last day of high school. I started running after the sun. Patrick performed his last Frank and Furter. The party at Craig’s was excellent. Patrick was with Alice now. It was prom night. Now, most of my friends were out of school. I didn’t have anyone except my psychiatrist. I hope everyone would be happy and everything would turn out great. I had two final exams now. Bill invited me to his place. Last night, Craig and Sam broke up. The thing was Craig was cheating on Sam by flirting with other girls. Peter encouraged Craig to reveal the truth to her. Peter threatened to tell Sam if he refused to take action. Sam was crying and she was devastated. We drove Peter home and prevented a fight. I visited Bill at his place. Bill thanked me for the fact that he enjoyed teaching me.

Charlie, you’re one of the most gifted people I’ve ever known. And I don’t mean in terms of my other students. I mean in terms of anyone I’ve ever met. That’s why I gave you the extra work. – Bill, the teacher

He thought I was special. I started crying a little and told him he was the best teacher I ever had. I believe everyone is special in their own way. It was the last day of school for me. My brother came home and he had a beard. I looked out for Patrick and Sam in their graduation caps. My sister had to give a speech on stage after she came in 2nd in class. My mum cried with tears of joy. It was a great day, apparently. I visited a dance club in the evening just to see Sam. Sam and Patrick later appeared and we hugged one another. I danced with Sam on the dance floor too. I wanted the clock to stop now. Later, we went to Peter’s apartment. ‘On the road, Naked Lunch, The Stranger, This Side of Paradise, Peter Pan and a Separate Peace; To Kill a Mockingbird, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, Hamlet, Walden and the Fountainhead.’

Sam was leaving in a week’s time. Craig finally reconciled with Sam. We entered Sam’s room as she wanted to pack some stuff. Sam was wondering why I didn’t ask her out after the Craig episode. I realized that I wanted her to be genuinely happy.

It’s great that you can listen and be a shoulder to someone, but what about when someone doesn’t need a shoulder. What if they need the arms or something like that? You can’t just sit there and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things. Like take their hands when the slow song comes up for a change. Or be the one who asks someone for a date. Or tell people what you need. Or what you want. – Sam to Charlie

I needed to be more honest with others. Sam was also afraid to do certain things when she was together with Craig because he might think differently about her. I kissed her and we ending up kissing. We touched one another. Sam admitted that I was her best friend.

I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to be who I really am. And I’m going to figure out what that is. But right now I’m here with you. And I want to know where you are, what you need, and what you want to do. – Sam to Charlie

August 23, 1992

I was in the hospital for the past 2 months. I was in the couch in the family room completely naked. The doctor helped me to sort out my relationships and I loved visitors. Patrick and Sam wanted to drive me through the tunnel when I was better again. I received mail from grandma, grandpa etc.

I guess we are who we are for a lot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them. – Charlie

Sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there. I was finally discharged from hospital. I was very comforted to have friends all around me who offered their support. Sam, Patrick and I finally drove in the tunnel. It was great to have close friends and family. I started crying and smiling at the same time. Tomorrow was my sophomore year of high school. I wanted to participate more in the school activities.

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A Review of ‘BE in the Moment by Iris Tan’

Book Review

Why you should read the book?

Iris Tan, 36, owns her own marketing/advertising firm. In her early 30s, she found her life calling of helping others lead a meaningful life and follow their passion. Since then, she has attended many workshops on self-improvement and coaching. Aside from this, many other institutions have benefitted from her counselling services and through the workshops that she conducted.

Not many have the courage to continue questioning their lives to see whether they are on track to meet their life’s goals. It is inspiring and encouraging to see Iris find a new direction in life and pursue it with fervour. Her calling of wanting to help others pursue their dreams is remarkable and noble in nature. Sometimes, a big event in your life will trigger a change in your goals/lifestyle. Ultimately, one needs to question one’s life meaning and seek the answers on your own. Her behaviour and actions are consistent with her life’s values and this is something that others can learn from.

The poems cover many of life’s important areas and through them; Iris subtly gives advice on how one’s life should be led. The poems may be vague in nature but that leaves the reader some room for interpretation. Some of her experiences are also covered in the book, most notably her travel journeys to Tuscany and Venice. Iris also gives a very honest and unpretentious account of how she views life in general.

Who is this book meant for?

This book can be appreciated by any age group and is suitable for children to read. It is useful as a reminder of what matters in life and can spur some degree of self-reflection in the reader. It was also meant as a dedication to her loved ones and how appreciative she is over her life. Readers from all walks of age will be able to enjoy this book of poems.

What is the book like?

This book is a collection of short poems (few stanzas long) across the 7 key topics of Travel; Spirituality; Hope; Encouragement; Nature; Love; Moment. It is written in a simple form, with minimal use of complex adjectives or vocabulary. Being easily comprehensible, the book can appeal to the general public.

The illustrations are also highly impressive and complement the poems perfectly. They are drawn in black felt pen. Some of them are also dreamy and imaginative in nature. This fits seamlessly with the settings depicted in the poems. Many of the illustrations are aesthetically attractive and will appeal to children.

Iris attempts to use both repetition of words and rhythmic themes to construct the poems. For instance from the following passage ‘There are many angels by my side. Whenever my troubles are in sight, they will send me beautiful light….If only you can join their flight, your life journey will be a glittering jolly ride.’ – Iris Tan. It is clear that last words of each stanza rhyme with one another.

Repetition of the word ‘Hope’ can be witnessed in the following passage: ‘Hope, Hope and Hope, dance around with Hope. When you are down with despair, only hope can bounce you back. Whether you are sick or poor, only Hope can give you the strength to live….’ Iris Tan.

What can I learn from the book?

There is a great emphasis on the importance of touching others’ lives and the link between that and leading a meaningful life. This is also consistent with many self-help books on the need to live beyond oneself and to give back to others. Another core theme is to live and be mindful of your present settings. Be fully aware of the present and allow the thoughts to flow through it, without judging them.

The book explores the theme of spirituality and how filling your heart with warmth and compassion can aid your progress as an individual. Belief in a higher being might give you the required strength to push on when the times get tough.

In a hectic city like Singapore, Iris laments on the fast paced nature of life and the fact that people overlook compassion and happiness because of the nature of how things are. She encourages others to slow down in order to appreciate the finer beauties of their surroundings.

Hope is what keeps your dreams alive. It is important to dream and follow your heart. Be honest in your dealings with people and in your writing. Learning to encourage oneself is also of paramount importance. The theme of love, togetherness and gratitude is ever present throughout the book. Readers can note the value of close friendships and the joy it can bring.

What is this book similar to?

Some of the lessons that can be drawn from this book are similar to ‘The Little Prince’ by Antoine De Saint-Exupery. The style of illustrations and the dispensing of nuggets of wisdom also closely model Jimmy Liao’s set of picture books (Taiwanese picture book writer and illustrator). However, his picture books are usually darker, where the characters often suffer from loneliness.

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Lost and Found by Felicia Tan

A Mother’s Memoir on Finding Faith Through Loss

This is the second book in the series. The first book was about the initial miscarriage. This book is about the second miscarriage. Thankfully, there were many strong people by my (Felicia) side who gave me strength. The book seeks to help other pregnant women. Hopefully, others will gain strength from her experience and learn to overcome difficulties. She is the only Christian in her family.

What are your goals? Mine was to get pregnant and deliver a child. The plan was to try In-vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment. The Frozen Embryo Transfer procedure would be used. My dad had to insert stents in his heart. Thankfully it was in the early stage. The whole family took good care of him. I needed to recover my health. My first book was finally released in print. My sister’s wedding happened soon after. I had a younger sister. This was my 8th year of marriage and I am still longing for a child. Many of my friends wanted advice on the IVF treatment. This was all after my first miscarriage.

I met up with my ex-colleague and there was an outpouring of emotion at the joy of seeing her. When was my turn to find happiness? I visited a friend’s church whose pastor’s name was Pastor Dominic Yeo, the same as that of my first child. Without hesitation, I signed up to participate in the cell group. Many were curious about my first miscarriage. My hubby and I spent much money on preparation of my body for implantation. I explained to my husband that I had converted to being a Christian. 1 of the frozen embryos didn’t survive but we had two more. Each IVF cycle is draining. However, we had to start afresh because of poor blood test results. Frequently, I blogged about my journey through pregnancy. The strength of my social relationships kept me going. I ventured ahead with the third cycle.

The nurse wanted to pray for me. Many of those in the same situation as me had kids. Will it finally be my turn? There was always a new chance at motherhood. I didn’t want to give up anytime soon. I kept thinking about Dominic and wondered whether I would have written the book had he been born. I am a graphic designer by training. This episode was something that I wanted to share with others. A hospital is also a place where newborns are created. It was revealed that 2 of my embryos were of very good quality. In church, I read stirring verses that kept me going. I was overjoyed in learning that I was pregnant again. It was suspected that I was having twins. It was confirmed that I was carrying twins. A pregnant woman must adjust their diets to take care of the unborn child.

It was time for the cervical cerclage. (Cervical cerclage is a stitch done at the cervix to prevent its premature opening before 37 weeks of pregnancy, so as to reduce the risk of a miscarriage due to an incompetent cervix) Soon the procedure was over. My typical day then was filled with plenty of rest. After having some swelling, I rushed to seek a doctor’s help. I headed to the A&E section without delay. Thankfully it was just a false alarm and I got discharged. It was time for the full baby scan. There was a balloon effect at the top of my cervix. The babies’ organs were functioning well. I hoped my cervix would hold up till the full term.

I was bleeding from my cervix. The stitch had broken. There was still hope for pregnancy. I was still fighting for a chance that my kids would survive. There were clear signs of infection and the gynae prescribed painkillers. I would enter labour really soon. The first baby would be unlikely to survive. I was also on an anti-biotic drip. I was having contraction pains again. The first baby was in the delivery position and I had to push. There was no crying sound directly after the birth and all I saw was a pool of blood. The second one would be arriving soon. The second child, Louis, was still moving. I started sobbing uncontrollably. My sister-in-law was nice and helped me out during this difficult period. I was about to be discharged soon. Many of my friends and relatives came to visit me. After the incident, I wondered what exactly went wrong during the procedure. The twins didn’t make it and I didn’t last up to 22 weeks of pregnancy. Now, I felt down and depressed. Life had no meaning. I had already lost 3 babies in a year.

Confinement also was not an easy period for me. I needed painkillers. My babies were being cremated. They were gone. A part of me wanted to go to Heaven now. I needed closure to my situation. I had incompetent cervix issues and could not implant two embryos. My cervix was weaker than others. There was another procedure known as the transabdominal cerlage (TAC) which had a higher success rate. Now, we decided to go for the stitch. The pastor told me to continue to have faith. It was nice being back at church. I was inspired by one of my church members and how warm she was towards her family. It was my husband who encouraged me to write this book. The service provided by nurses of private hospitals were top-notch. Thankfully, the medical bills were claimable.

There would be no baby shower. I had to undergo physiotherapy to regain strength. I didn’t believe I could truly get rid of the pain for the loss of 3 babies. There was still a glimmer of hope that I was clinging on to. The plan was to go for TCM treatment to get my health back. The plan was to arrange the house and exercise more and try to naturally conceive. Was I creating or taking lives away? Blood ties run the deepest. To the specialist, TAC was an outdated method which was more risky. The doctor didn’t know how to answer my query. The other specialist recommended that I go for more pre-checks first. I never rally considered adoption because they were not my own. It is always better to have your own child. Many kind souls out there tried to link me up with valuable information. The good book became a good talking point. My sister was in labour as well. Luckily, everything went well through a C- section. I managed to overcome the fear of approaching a dog. The next few weeks were normal and I was feeling happier.

Learn to show sympathy. Do not do the following: (1) Ignore; (2) Devalue the loss; (3) Using flowery phrases; 4(Giving advice); (5) Setting expectations; (6) Lying about facts; (7) Comparing; (8) Attempting to explain; (9) Suggesting suppressants. The book also recommends exercises for pregnant mothers. Resistance training (1) increases bone density; (2) Improves metabolic efficiency; (3) Positive gains in the frail elderly; (4) Improves stroke-related disabilities; (5) Fight against depression.

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The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf

There was a bull named Ferdinand. He didn’t like to butt his head around and play with others. His hobby was to smell the flowers. The pasture under the cork tree was his favorite spot to smell flowers. This led to his mum (a cow) worrying about him. Despite persuasion, Ferdinand preferred the flowers to butting his head amongst his peers. His mother let him be and allowed him to happy. Most bulls wanted to be selected to be involved in bull fights in Spain and tried to prove themselves. Even though Ferdinand was much bigger now, his habits didn’t change.

One day, men came in to select the bull that would contest the bull fights. Ferdinand didn’t feel the need to impress them and just sat under the tree. Unfortunately, he sat on a bee and got stung. As it hurt, he ran around puffing and snorting and started butting the ground. The men saw that and selected Ferdinand as their winner. It was the day of the bull fight. It was a big ceremony with many festivities. Ferdinand entered the ring and stood in the centre. Many were expecting him to start charging around. There weren’t any flowers in the ring and Ferdinand just sat there quietly. The performers in the ring were all so disappointed and sad. They took Ferdinand home. Now, he could continue to smell the flowers and be happy.

The End

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Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson

Harold took a walk in the moonlight. There wasn’t a moon and therefore he drew one. He drew a straight path to walk on. Harold walked with his big purple crayon. However, he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere after a while.

Then, he took a shortcut across a field. He entered a forest. As he didn’t want to feel scared, he drew a small apple tree which bore fruit. To protect the apples, Harold drew a dragon beneath the tree. The dragon looked so frightening that Harold was scared himself.

As his hand trembled, he actually drew the waves of an ocean. Before he knew it, he was struggling in the ocean. Thankfully, he drew a boat and a sail and soon he was away again. Harold created land and soon he found himself on it. However, he still seemed lost. As he was hungry, he created the scene of a picnic with his favorite food, pie. Harold drew too much pie and realized that he couldn’t finish his food. So he drew a porcupine and a moose to consume the pies.

Next, Harold ventured up a hill. Soon, he drew a mountain so that he could have a good view from the top. Harold wanted to see his bedroom window from the top of the mountain. Suddenly, he slipped and fell into nothingness. In the nick of time, Harold drew a balloon and clung on to it. Attached to the balloon was a basket.

Once he landed, Harold drew a house with a front yard. Although the house he drew had windows, it was clear that he wasn’t his house. Seeking help, Harold approached a policeman. The policeman directed him to a city. Yet, none of the houses belonged to him. Suddenly, Harold remembered where his house was and he drew a whole city of buildings and windows. Next, Harold made his bed and went to sleep

– The End –

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