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In The Face Of Stress May 09 2015 2 Comments

First, I’d like to apologise for the radio silence in the last few months.  Going back to a full time job and the changes in my lifestyle meant less time for this part of me enjoying what I love most. Each day’s energy was drained by 7pm and all I wanted to do was to veg out.

Last week was a particularly stressful week for me. One particular person taunted me so much for weeks it wore me down. Other projects came in, deadlines, everything was due at the same time. It got to a point I was sitting at the desk with clenched fists, stabbing pain in the chest and wanting to fling everything through the glass of the office building.  Yes. Everything. Laptop, desk phone, my mobile. Any communication device just needed to be hurled out.

I cut short my lunches trying to squeeze in more time. Nights were sleepless. Obviously turning up in the morning at the office like a zombie didn’t help.

Why was I doing this to myself?? As a cancer survivor, no one knows better than us to take life easier…don’t let it get to you…eat healthy and exercise…la dee da blah blah blah.  We KNOW the drill.

As the week went by, I was consumed with hate. It did nothing to him, but did a lot to myself. At times, I had chats with other colleagues, I was temporarily distracted back to my cheery self.  But at other times, I just wanted to kill him.

Catching me being like that was an important step. Knowing that I was reaching breaking point, I’m even more determined not to break.

The people around me know what I’m going through. And they understood, which meant a lot to me because I know I’m emotionally supported. I’ve allowed them to help me, and not fight alone.

I'm renewing myself this weekend, taking things slowly, also making some jewellery to calm the mind.

How will the next week be? I don’t know. But I’m making a conscious effort to let go of the negativity every time it creeps up. Looking forward to the light at the end of this tunnel. Wish me luck!

 


Being Grateful For Life December 22 2014

It’s come to the end of 2014.  Looking back at the last 12 months, it’s definitely been eventful.

In March, I took a break from the day job to start this website and develop the business full time, learning to manage my time, splitting between designing, making and marketing and all the administrative work.  Fulfilling? Yes. Stressful? Yes too. Would I trade it for another 9 months spent differently? Nope.

Despite the stress, and constantly having to convince people around me that I actually DO work at home (!!) , it was a learning time best experienced first hand. Nothing can to replace that journey, which will give me a deeper appreciation for the colleagues in the next cubicle.

Also in March, I went on a 2 week motorbike ride to Chiangmai in Northern Thailand sending off our friends who rode from Singapore to Sweden for breast cancer research. THAT was no mean feat! And I’m glad they returned safely 4 months later.

 

There were many things that didn’t turn out as I wished.  Like not keeping up with my schedule to get the daily tasks done, like reading too much but procrastinating in putting them into action, like buying a ton of supplies and taking forever to make them into finished products.

 

On the other hand, these are what I’m grateful for…

My hubby, who allowed me to leave a stable income to explore my life, and giving me a bigger space for my jewellery workbench. 

Friends who supported and encouraged me along the way 

Customers who left words of appreciation and came back for more of my jewellery

Fellow vendors of sales events who offered help generously and eventually became friends

Successful as well as failed experiments which taught me many lessons

For another year with a clean bill of health (more adventures!)

For fast and reliable wifi that we often take for granted

......What are you grateful for this year? :)

Next month (January), I will be traveling for 3 weeks…. The store will still remain open but orders will be shipped when I return at the end of the month. Till then, enjoy the festivities and have an awesome 2015!

 

Leave your comments here.


Breast Cancer Awareness - Not just for October October 16 2014

October is breast cancer awareness month and the Pink Ribbon Walk in Singapore kicked off the month of pink, pink and more pink. Every year during this time, there is a huge ramp up to awareness activities, but do you put it at the back of your mind come November?

Her World Singapore gave me and 2 friends a wonderful makeover for their October issue and we have a 2 page spread to show....I'm on the right. The session was great fun! What do you think?

 

Worldwide, breast cancer is the most common cancer amongst women. In Singapore, 1 in 16 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime. Being a survivor, I believe that awareness and education are extremely important. In this case, there simply is no such thing as “too much information”.

Without awareness, things like fear, misconceptions, stigma of the disease can get in the way from being treated early. And when the cancer grows from early stage to late stage, treatments become more complicated and take longer.

Over the years, I’ve been a contact point for friends, asking me to speak to those recently diagnosed. Faced with the unknown, it can get rather unnerving during the wait for test results or the surgery date. Questions like surgery procedures, reconstruction options, the recovery process and what to eat or do often pop up and it’s fulfilling to be able to help others this way. I’m mindful also to advise based on my personal experience and not on medical decisions, which is best left to their doctors. Also, introducing them to the Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) gives them a place to find support in the long term.  Their website www.bcf.org.sg provides useful information and how to get in touch.

If you’re a woman, it pays to arm yourself with some good knowledge, whether for yourself or for your family. Don’t shy away from the many pink booths set up in public places this month or the news and magazine articles that write about breast cancer. Pick up a brochure and read it!

There are ways that you can protect yourself by being aware of your bodily changes. Many patients discover the lumps themselves, so learn how to do your own breast self-examination here, and make it a point to do it every month: http://www.singaporecancersociety.org.sg/WhatWeDo/BreastCancerAwarenessCampaign.aspx

Those above 40, it’s recommended to get your mammograms done annually. Look for the breast clinic in any hospital to make an appointment. While I’m pretty sure most women know about mammograms, it isn’t one of those things that you’d jump up in the morning raring to go for your session. But if you see it as 2 minutes of discomfort which can potentially save your life, maybe that can change your mind. Whether you’re a mom, wife or daughter, do it for yourself and your family.

Here are some links in Singapore you can check out for subsidised rates too:

http://www.hpb.gov.sg/HOPPortal/programmes-article/3324  

http://www.singaporecancersociety.org.sg/WhatWeDo/BreastCancerAwarenessCampaign.aspx

Share this info with your sisters, girlfriends, mom and all the important women in your life!

This month, I’m happy to launch my new Pink Ribbon Luxe Necklace. All Swarovski crystal encrusted with various shades of pink and all bling! Something I’ve been wanting to make to wear for my pink parties. Hope you like it!

 

Lastly, my wish to all…..Stay Happy and In the Pink!

Do leave your comments here.


Butterflies and such September 17 2014

Custom orders are like riddles. You’re limited only by your imagination.

It was by chance that I opened myself to custom orders some years back. Someone requested for a special necklace and I worked on it for a few days, sending drafts back and forth several times, before coming up with a design that conveyed her idea, while being wearable and balanced aesthetically.

The best part of getting a custom order is challenging my skills to make something I’ve never done before. Sometimes it involves exploring new techniques, or rehashing an old project to make something new. Another beautiful part is learning new things about people, and what some symbols mean to them. There is so much information out there, but until someone tells her story through a personal experience, it could just pass you by without making an impact.

Recently, I made a butterfly necklace for Thyroid cancer awareness. Butterflies are beautiful, and to me they represent metamorphosis - developing from a caterpillar to a pair of colourful fluttering wings. They are symbols of hope, new beginnings and transformation.

How did butterflies link with thyroid cancer? I later found out that the shape of the thyroid gland is shaped like a butterfly!

Photo credit: www.abc.net.au

 

And so, after designing the Butterfly necklace, I went on to make a matching bracelet. The pink, blue and teal beads are also colours representing the same cause.

 

Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Awareness Necklace

Over the years, I’ve had clients sharing their personal stories, or how someone close has been recently diagnosed. It’s really a great feeling to be able to help and encourage them through my jewellery. Two things that seem so unrelated, but tied together by a cause.

I’m thankful for these wonderful people, who have trusted me to make a memorable piece of work for them. Thank you for letting me be part of your lives.

 

Leave your comments here.


Giving life a reboot August 25 2014

Last week, someone posted on facebook a personal issue she had. It was 4 weeks after a major surgery, and she felt she couldn’t get her motivation to resume her life.

In our attempt to map out our lives and packing our schedules to the brim with activities, sometimes we hardly set aside time for contemplation.  “Downtime”, whether it’s an unexpected medical leave or a retrenchment, is life’s way of making us pause and take a breather.

We might have planned our career path, our life, kid’s future, but the moment something unexpected happens, all might have to change. Insisting on clinging to the original plan sometimes doesn’t work.

Imagine, you started the day with 4 must-dos lined up for the day, but while rushing out of the door, you slip and have a bad fall.  The stuff which seemed very urgent and “got to do by today”, now take a backseat. You beg your sister to get 2 of them done, re-schedule the important meeting, and call hubby to pick up some supplies on his way home.  The fact is there is usually a plan B hiding somewhere, and nothing is absolutely cast in stone. No one is totally indispensable.

So, why do we then become so frustrated when our lives don’t turn out as planned?

Whose plan was it anyway?  Yours or the big guy up there?

Most of us, at one point of our lives, have faced that “drop everything now” moment, when one thing interrupts and supersedes the importance of everything else. Do we crumble and see it as the end of the world or take it in our stride and walk a new path?

What if this new path IS the path that you were meant to take from the start, just that you were so obsessed with the “right way” and constantly ignored the signs?

best things happen

On another note... some reboots are a little more subtle.

The phrase “mid-life crisis” came about in 1965 by a psychologist.  These days, young people also face another milestone…their quarter-life crisis, when they move to adulthood and the real world.

I don’t agree with calling it a crisis. To me, this is a good break from an old routine to open myself to new experiences and explorations. They are transitions in life that make people choose which direction to go, and it's just part of the journey. I suppose it's which viewpoint you choose that makes the difference.

 


Love... don't wait July 29 2014 2 Comments

It’s hard to write about anything else when the news is filled with killings and air plane tragedies. 3 airline crashes in one week is too much for the world to bear. I feel sad for the families and friends of the victims and wish their pain would ease with time. For most of us, reading about it from afar, nothing can help us understand what those directly affected are feeling right now.

We all want peace, but we are embarrassed to say we want “World Peace”. (It’s Ms Congeniality’s fault).  We say we love our families, but we hardly show it through actions because we are so busy or are caught up with daily routine. Why? If you knew that there is no tomorrow, would it change the way you lived today?

Here’s a little love story.

Yesterday, 28th July 2014 marked my 14th wedding anniversary. My hubby Seung is a man of many ideas. A year after my mastectomy, I was due for my reconstructive surgery and he was there with my parents when I checked in to the hospital. He was acting normal, just asking if I wanted him to bring any magazines or snacks when he came back later.

But he had secretly brought along a technical drawing ruler and handed it to the medical staff (also our good friend). Once I was wheeled in to the operating room and passed out from the anaesthesia, she slipped my ring finger into the different sized cut outs. With that ruler and a surgical tape stuck on to indicate my finger size, he went off to order the engagement ring. Needless to say, the ring fitted perfectly when he proposed a few weeks later! This is a story I relate with pride to my friends. :)

 

Here's the ruler still stuck with the surgical tape, kept safely for 14 years…

Our love story was featured in the now defunct women’s magazine Vanilla in February 2008 on how he has supported me in my journey. Here’s my favourite photo from the shoot.

It’s a gift to be able to show and receive love.  When you're a giver, don't hesitate to say it and show it.  And if you're a receiver, and are fortunate to have people going out of their way to help you, learn to accept it with grace and not feel bad.  If it were "too much trouble" for that person, he or she wouldn't have offered the help in the first place!

So don’t put it aside for another day…

And, I do want world peace.

 

Leave your comments here.


Why you should never fight alone July 10 2014

When most people hear that I’m a 15-year cancer survivor, they’re usually very surprised and say “wow but you’re so young” and ask “how did you find out?”

I was diagnosed in April 1999. I was 26.

In the previous year, I found a pea-sized lump on my right breast while showering. When it didn’t go away after a few days, I knew I had to get it checked. After I was told by a specialist that the lump was benign (non-cancerous), I went home feeling so relieved, and in the next few months, willed the lump to go away. I was 25! I had no time for this.

But it was not meant to be. Not only did the lump not go away, my right breast gradually became swollen till I could not ignore it further. In this 2nd visit to a different hospital, a biopsy, mammogram and ultrasound scan was called for. Doing a mammogram for the first time is not the most comfortable thing. And because the swollen lump was compressed in between the mammogram plates, the pain was excruciating.

The month of April filled with weekly appointments of tests and consultations. In the final week, the doctor dropped the bad news on me. Despite her patience and empathy, I broke down again, my mind whirling from the bad news. I was fighting inside me about how my life was going to change. I wasn’t sure if all the medical terms made any sense at that time. My surgery was scheduled to be in a week’s time, in the first week of May. It was a full removal of my right breast.

My biggest regret was not going earlier for my 2nd check up, and not wanting to accept that something was really not right. And because the lump had grown larger, it wasn’t possible to save any breast tissue.

As I stepped out of the doctor’s room, to wait for my hospitalisation registration, I just felt waves of emotion overcoming me. Surprisingly, when the staff came to go through the thick registration booklet with me, I somehow managed to understand all the medical fees and details of the stay... Till today, I believe God must have held my hand through it.

Throughout these visits, I never told my parents, choosing to break the news only when the situation was confirmed. I chose to go for every visit alone as I felt it was my fight alone. I was wrong. Looking back, it might have been less traumatic if someone had accompanied me, to be a source of support. 

Five years on, when I joined the dragonboat team Paddlers in the Pink, I felt what was missing out all these years. It was having the support of fellow survivors to talk about anything and everything.

You don’t need to fight your battles alone. In this internet-connected world, it isn’t difficult to find people near you to help you through. If you know someone that would find this post useful, please share it with them.

Also, leave your comments here, tell me about the people who were there to support you. I’d love to hear from you!

 


The Beginning June 24 2014

Hi! Welcome to my new website. It’s my first post and it took so long to get this site ‘live’. Whether it's being a perfectionist or analysis-paralysis, everything’s got to look right before I present it to the world. Thank you so much for taking time to visit! Your comments mean so much to me. :)

My life is made up of motorbiking with hubby, jewellery making and getting pinked up for dragonboat activities. You can read more in my About page.

When I picked up jewellery making, I never thought that it would consume my life so much. I love to try new stuff, so I experimented different techniques and styles. Some pieces do not get a place in my shop, but they are sold at local craft shows here in Singapore where I get to test out new ideas.

What this blog is set out to do… is to provide encouragement for people who are facing some personal issues in life. Maybe it’s an illness, depression, family problems… Whatever it may be, I hope they can look forward to the rainbow after the storm.

Do share this post if you feel someone can benefit from this.

And here's something from an amazing person I admire:

"Life isn't always easy, but when we overcome challenges we become stronger and more grateful for our opportunities. What really matters are the lives you touch along the way and how you finish your journey." Life Without Limits, Nick Vujicic

Image courtesy of Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

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