Cherish the Present

At the end of a year or start of a new year, it is also the period when we take the chance to tidy our homes.

Especially for those who celebrate Chinese New Year (CNY), the month before the festival is the right time to do spring cleaning.

除旧布新 meaning to get rid of the old to bring in the new!

At this point in time, it is handy to learn some tips on spring cleaning.

Recently, when meeting up with a friend, we were talking about her, and later in the evening, while browsing the library e-catalogue, I chance upon this comic book (known as manga in Japanese).

life-changing manga of tidying up by marie kondo

From the expert – Marie Kondo, or aka KonMari, who advises that we should focus on what to keep and not what to discard when we tidy. We should only keep items that spark joy in our lives.

I especially like the following paragraphs which emphasize that we should live in the moment and cherish who we are now – the present is of the utmost importance!

Who you are now is more important than memories of your past.

Christmas Light Display in Singapore

In the West … this year is so special, with lights up in my neighbourhood : )

Jurong Central
Jurong Central, Blk 492
Jurong Canal

Jurong Canal

My friend commented that it looks like Hokkaido Otaru Canal.

I haven’t been to Hokkaido Otaru Canal, so I decided to google and see how similar they are. The canal was used by small ships to transport goods to the warehouses but is now disused. Instead of being in the ruins, it is now a famous sightseeing spots in Hokkaido.

Wow! I didn’t know that my backyard can be so beautiful. Once decorated, you can see the transformation!

There is a Chinese saying ‘佛要金装, 人要衣装’ meaning all things need decoration. This is so true!


In central …

Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore
Universal Studios Singapore

Merry Christmas

Thank you to my company and boss, this year I enjoyed a Christmas Log Cake!

Christmas Log Cake
Christmas Log Cake with Coffee

I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy the cake with a cup of coffee after an eventful year.

With the covid-19 situation this year, the year seemed to pass us too quickly. In Singapore during the circuit breaker, we were told to stay at home and only to go out for food, groceries and necessities. For 3.5 months, I worked at home, and only from mid-July did we return to work from office some days of the week.

Why do we have ‘log’ cake as a Christmas dessert – I wondered?

It seemed that this traditional comes from the Medieval era in Europe when actual Yule logs were burned during winter period to welcome the new year. As time passed, some bakers started creating actual cakes shaped like logs to celebrate this period.

Period of celebration

Even if you do not celebrate Christmas because of religious reason – many now enjoy this festive period spending time with family and friends, enjoying good food and sharing joy and laughter.

With this year, coming to an end, I wish everyone Merry Christmas and hope for a better year – with good health, happiness and joy!

Christmas is a season of sharing and loving, especially in such trying times, do remember to spread some joy to the less fortunate.

Ray Chambers’ 5 Steps to Happiness

5 Steps to Happiness

Audiobook review: Talking to Strangers by Malcolm Gladwell

This thought-provoking insight from Malcolm that will jump right at you: “We cannot detect a lie not because we have no doubts. The truth is when there are not enough doubts, we revert to truth.”

In hindsight, with someone’s failure to spot a liar, we can say that there are all kinds of red flags. That is the wrong way to think about what had happened. The right question is: “Were there enough red flags to push you over the threshold of believe. If there weren’t, by defaulting to truth, then you are only being human.”

Malcolm states that it is human nature to default to truth or else society cannot function properly.

This insight really shifted my mindset. Sometimes, we wondered why there would be still be other people who get cheated when in the media, there are reports of how scammers work. With this insight, it might be there were not enough red flags, and being humans, we tend to believe in the goodness of people, which is why those people chose to believe.

Malcolm explains that research shows that even the best in professions such as policeman, judges, interrogators, who we believe has the training and skill to spot a liar, only achieved slightly better than the flip of a coin. The truth is every person, even the supposedly untrained person, is able to perfectly spot a liar when they match – that is when the liar exhibits behaviour which we associate with lying – shifty eyes, nervous demeanour, incoherent speech. However, when people do not match, which happens when their behaviours do not match what we think they should behave, it is when our judgements fail us. Maybe watching too many sitcoms which tends to exaggerate a person behaviour based on his thoughts, could make us believe that we can really read a person’s thoughts from his demeanour.

In reality, this might be further from the truth than we think. People behaves in different manner, even in the same kind of situation.   

Malcolm says that the search to understand strangers has real limits. We will not know the whole truth. Malcom advises that the right way to talk to strangers is with caution and humility.

A distinct kind of audio book. This is read by the author himself and includes snippets of interviews – truly a book coming alive in audio format! I recommend this book to those who likes to know more about how to communicate better, not only to strangers, but to those around us. This audio book with the interview snippets makes the ideas behind the book much more explicit.