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New Start & September Anticipations

If this is scattered (more so than usual) it’s because of 1) slight stress headache due I think to 2) EXCITEMENT because I’ve been told to watch out for a DHL delivery today–it’s a present and I’m pretty sure it’s an iPad!!!

But I’m telling myself it may not be, no point looking up apps/getting excited. There are lots of things that qualify as a ‘portal to new experiences’… it could be concert tickets, tarot cards, an umbrella…

No, I mustn’t speculate. Must wait & see. Must stay calm and have lunch first…

I haven’t been writing regularly here since all the excitement of last year’s AWARE takeover partly because there hasn’t been anything big and public I wanted to focus on and all my little issues/doings/happenings get aired on Facebook; and partly because I was taken aback by some of the comments I got on those pieces–fundies who send ALL CAPS rants in bad English and links to Pastor Prince sermons–but I realise that even with my morning pages (on the wonderful 750 Words site) I miss this blog.

I miss the accountability. Thanks to the Artist’s Way Journey I’ve been taking (we’re on Week 10 now) I’m going to miss this group so much when the journey is over!
Of course it’s possible we’ll all stay in touch but that won’t be the same as knowing we’re all working on the same chapters week by week all over the world.

(Sorry, I know it’s a lot of links for one post but these are places I’ve been en route to here!)

Thanks to The Artist’s Way Journey and the books & experiences it’s led me to explore I’ve become more aware of the incredible energy, blessings & synchronicity surrounding me now. I want some kind of record for myself that can also serve as a general route guide.

Like I find I walk more when I wear a pedometer & set a target I hope I’ll be more focused in my reading and writing and yoga practice if I write about where I hope to be going in these areas. Setting goals helps define them so at least I know what I’m trying to do!

Reading is on my current list thanks largely to Steve Leveen for pointing out 1) We each have individual ‘great’ books lists 2) Don’t waste your time on books you don’t connect with–there’s so much great writing out there waiting for you 3) With all the great writing and so little time it’s a huge waste not to plan what we want to read/love to read.

He may not have meant to say those things in his book The Little Guide to Your Well Read Life but that’s what I got out of it and according to him that’s what counts!

Another book that’s inspired me to try this is Nick Hornby’s Housekeeping vs The Dirt, a chronicle of fourteen months of reading which starts each chapter/month with Books Bought: and Books Read. Haven’t finished it yet but I’m enjoying the read so far. It’s tremendously freeing to feel I don’t ‘Have’ to finish what I start reading if it doesn’t work for me at the time.

I’m hoping to post twice a month: Once in the first week and once in the final week.

September Intentions:
1. Finish corkboarding the mystery novel on Scrivener. I’m switching from first person to third person which means rewriting it completely, also cutting it down from 70,000 ++ words to 50,000 words. For a while I thought ‘no way’ I can do that in 3 months but that was exactly when ‘Creative U-turns’ came up in TAW and it could have been addressed directly at me. I’m going to practice the process and keep going till I’m stopped–this time I won’t stop myself. I’m also reminding myself that a publisher giving rewrite suggestions is a very GOOD sign and actually once I got over the panic most of the suggestions are very very good. It’s due at the end of the year so if I manage to put down a structure I’m happy with I think I can make it. In September I hope to put down at least 15,000 words.

2) Children’s Book. Why not? I wrote 2 for SPCA (they’re only taking one) so when I heard about the NBDCS children’s book competition I thought–why not? It will be an interesting experience. I’m targeting 40,000 words for this. In September I hope to finish the outline & roughly 12.000 words.

3) Yoga. Back at yoga after so long I realise how limp wimp I’ve become! But I’ve cut myself down to doing part of Primary Series at least twice, ideally three times a week. September goal: Back to doing Full Primary Series three times a week

4) Reading: I’ve just discovered the world of audiobooks but don’t want to give up reading paper just yet so… first step is to finish the Nick Hornby and the Artist’s Way course and then I’ll see. I have 4 library books and Swan Thieves and I feel like rereading stuff after surprising myself by enjoying The Scarlet Pimpernel so much…

5) Travel: Going to Paris for just over a week–hoping to try art journaling the trip. If that doesn’t work out just mean to enjoy it.

6) Blogging–mean to get back on the page for my September round up!



My first day as a 49 year old!

Had a great weekend. Instead of celebrating my birthday we celebrated my last day of being 48. I didn’t get any practice or writing in yesterday or the day before but I figure slacking once a year is allowed so I’ll start over today!

btw the Greenhouse champagne brunch buffet at the Ritz Carlton doesn’t just have a sensational spread of salads, breads, cheeses & desserts they now have a vegetarian counter!!

The age thing seems incredible though–I feel like I still haven’t got used to the idea of being in my 40’s and now the 40+ years are almost over. Well, I’m going to approach my 50’s differently… What do I want to do in this, my 50th year of life, that I haven’t done before?

Not Living The Yogic LIfe Yet… Facial Mess

I’ve been back in Singapore a week now & sadly, Koh Samui seems to have worn off…

Things were great up till yesterday. I only did one full asana practice last week (with the excuse my body needed to recover from 6 days of hard practice) but I managed to make time for pranayama morning & evening every day, even though that meant pre-6am on some mornings…

…I might still not be doing it ‘right’ of course–I’m still getting my basic breathing messed up.
I mean, it was a struggle to do asana practice with ‘thoracic’ breathing & now that that’s become second nature I’ve got to rediscover my abdominal breathing?

Put simply, I’m having trouble distinguishing between relaxing my abdomen & slouching/letting it all hang out or is this all the same thing?

But I’ve been getting on my ‘sit mat’ twice a day and that’s all I can do right now.

Another reason I know it’s not ‘working’ yet is yesterday I had a big freak out–

Sad thing is, it started as such a great day. I was re-writing chapt 16 & spent 3 hours doing ‘in the zone’ writing which amazingly & wonderfully seems to be happening more often these days (okay, so maybe sitting practice is helping a little)

Then I managed to get lost going to meet friends at Central. I ‘knew’ where Central is, having:
1) seen it on the way to Funan & Supreme Court & Arts House etc
2) looked it up in the Street Directory.

But my GPS sent me a different way & talking with a friend in the car distracted me & we ended up in Central Plaza only to find we were outside the wrong MRT Station…

Aside: why on earth would people name a mall ‘Central’ if there’s already a ‘Central Plaza’ not so far away? I know I don’t get out much. Yesterday was the first (& hopefully last) time I’ve been to either place but I’m sure it causes confusion to others.

But yes, we got to the right ‘Central’, had lunch & then–

–we all got lost on the way to the ‘spa’. Yes, I went for my first Facial, thanks to a generous friend who said she could See the blackheads on my face!

There was some phoning & looking up of stuff which again wasn’t all bad as I serendipitously ran into an old friend & stressed over a lost credit card (yes, all such happy people…)

And yes, we found the spa after more walking. I had my Vibrams & sun hat so I was quite happy with that part of things.

But inside the Facial room was a different matter:
Once you figure out how to wear their flimsy elasticized skirts (they go around your chest, under your arms–not around your waist or around your neck where my first attempts went) you lie back and they cover your eyes with cotton pads, blow steam on you then stick what feels like pins into your face and say things like “wah this is a big one, do you want to see?”
“I don’t want to see the needle”
“No need to see needle. I show you on tissue,”

I suppose it was effective but it look a long long time. Even after the pin pricks there was a gooey mask thing–

“What’s in it?”
“This is the mask treatment,”
“Yes but what is in it?”
“The mask treatment is good for you skin”
“But what is in the treatment?”
“This is the mask treatment for you skin.”

You can only question so far when wearing an elasticized smock around your armpits with cold pads over your eyes so I left it.

After that was over it wasn’t over. There was the cleaning off of glop they put on, then the putting on of more gooey stuff & the threat “shape your eyebrows?”
“Shape them into what?!”
“Just shape your eyebrows into the right shape?”
“No thank you, No.”

And even after that you sit and drink sugared barley for a long long time while they try to talk you into getting another package. My generous friend pointed out she still had eleven treatments left,
“But you can carry over to your next package if you buy now…”

Fortunately she (like most of the rest of the world) being better natured than I just kept saying ‘no not yet’ firmly. It reminded me so much of the marketing people at Pure Yoga!

Aside: Yes, I miss my daily Celeste so much but not much else about Pure–though I do miss my post-mysore peanut butter banana toast from Toast in Ngee Ann City!
& their cupcakes!!

But yes, after the facial I managed to get lost again trying to find my way back to the car. I’m usually very particular at noting such things but this time I was stressed about being late, about having got lost once already, trying to listen to conversation & phone calls with further directions–and when I got back to Central (stopping to pick up soy milk, bananas, a papaya, dragonfruit, all heavy heavy heavy) I walked round & round not finding anything familiar.

Major freak out: for a moment I actually thought I was in a reality warp. Had to call the friends I’d driven there with & ask if they remembered where I’d parked–it turned out to be the Swiss Hotel, not Central though next to Central, linked to Central & sharing what appeared common ‘To Carpark’ directions with Central

So yes, I finally found my poor car after abandoning my poor purchases. Served me right for not bringing my shopping bags–the store bags were cutting into my hands (still have red lines on my fingers now) & I just left my fruit & soy by a bin.

Yes, I know–all my getting lost had nothing to do with the facial stuff but I can’t help feeling there’s a sort of karmic payback for deliberately setting out to waste time by lying back & having people mess with my face.

But I really didn’t know a facial lasted so bloody long!

Piss point: I thought a facial could only last about an hour but it was past 4pm by the time I started my search for my car. I’d missed my tea snack & the sugary drink at the spa gave me a rush then left me flat. A hell of a lot of the time was wasted lying around with a mask on & getting shoulders rubbed with slimy stuff. I kept trying to keep breathing & relax but was getting more & more frustrated lying there when there were so many other things I would rather have been doing.

I suppose this goes into the category of ‘It’s good to try new stuff’ but I think where facials are concerned, once is enough!

After that I missed my pranayama last night & this morning while trying to do my ‘sit’ I kept flashing back to feeling anger, frustration, irritation over everything that happened yesterday afternoon. Now I’ve put it down I can let it go.

And yes, I’ve been back a week and it’s time to pull myself and my practice together.

It’s going to be busy next month. I have to stay calm, stay healthy, stay focused… no more experiments!

Her Mind In Her Gap

from the Void Deck

On another front, Thio claimed, Christians face an emergent threat to social harmony whereby a non-religious group uses the religious card on Christians to raise emotions and divert away from the issue at hand. Thio stated that the AWARE incident was a perfect example where there was no religious issue as it was about a private takeover of a NGO and a debate over public values. But someone threw the religious card into the debate and when that happened all rationality was lost. The non-Christian who threw in the religious card, Thio argued, used religion to incite hatred over a group and such an act was dangerous tantamount to playing with fire.

The same, Thio continued, could be said of TOC when they victimized her (no specifics) by playing the religious card and accused her of imposing her Christian values when she was merely debating on a public values as a citizen. She termed the TOC coverage as a lie and irresponsible reporting and said that TOC was not interested in public debate and was only interested in creating confusion. Thio also used a Latin expression that equated those who create irresponsible internet postings as swine.

Towards the end, Thio was somewhat emotional and questioned the Christians why are they not angry when Christian views are being attacked publicly. If Christians continue to remain silent then their freedom will be lost eventually. She ended by debunking neutrality in politics and urged Christians to take up a position and speak up for the common good.

Does anyone else see her call to Christians to take up a position and speak up for what they choose to define as the ‘common good’ as attacking the ‘regardless of race, language and religion’ pledge we’re supposed to be living up to? aka using

religion to incite hatred over a group and such an act was dangerous tantamount to playing with fire


And how can she call her mama’s unsuccessful attempt orchestrate her minions into a takeover (incidentally showing off the great big beam in her own eye) at AWARE a non religious issue when her church’s pastor was using his pulpit to call on female members to rally to their ‘sisters’ support (at least till reprimanded by NCCS)?

Elsewhere she talks about how Christians are tolerant of others’ views but others are not tolerant of Christian views and how she is the victim of online attacks…

Well, part of the reason I’ve shifted over to Facebook from blogging here is because of what she would probably call online attacks–in this case I suspect from homophobic fundamentalist Christians; their hyperbole, aggressive use of CAPS, poor command of basic English grammar and choice of pseudonyms while remaining anonymous is a dead giveaway–oh, and their subject matter of course.

But I’m back here because I also feel moved to speak up–or rather, write out. Go read the piece I’ve linked to and see what you think.

This woman frightens me because she seems to be pushing the line “if you all don’t come and fight on my side then God won’t consider you Christians or good people because the only good people are people who see things my way… I mean God’s way… well it’s the same thing, really. I know because I am a law professor and smarter than you,”

Boycott Shark’s Finning Hotels/Restaurants

Starting with the list I got off the HELP STOP HOTELS & RESTAURANTS FROM SERVING SHARK’S FIN IN SINGAPORE! site site

I’ve phoned each of them & asked if they were still serving shark’s fin soup so that I could add them to my list of hotel restaurants to boycott & they’ve said ‘yes’.

It’s far from complete but it’s a start! Do call/write to them & try to chose alternative venues if you can until things change… thank you!

1. Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore
7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799 Singapore
Phone: (65) 6 337 8888 Fax: (65) 6 338 0001

Daniel Ford
Regional Director Public Relations, Asia Pacific
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company L.L.C.
Phone: + 852 3760 9219
Email: daniel.ford@ritzcarlton.com , comments@ritzcarlton.com

2. Goodwood Park Hotel
Ms Justina Loh
Marketing Communications Manager
DID: (65) 6730 1715
Email: mcmgr@goodwoodparkhotel.com

3. Intercontinental Singapore
80 Middle Road Singapore 188966
Tel: +65 6338 7600, Fax: +65 6338 7366
E-mail: singapore@interconti.com

4. Grand Hyatt Singapore
10 Scotts Road, Singapore 228211
Tel: +65 6738 1234 Fax: +65 6732 1696
Email: singapore.grand@hyatt.com

5. Shangri-La Hotel Singapore
22 Orange Grove Road, Singapore 258350
T: (65) 6737 3644
F: (65) 6737 3257

Debate and Public Forum on Sharks and Sharks’ Fin

Debate and Public Forum on Sharks and Sharks’ Fin

Are sharks killed mainly for their fins, their meat or both? Some believe that it is western propaganda that sharks are killed mainly for their fins, saying instead that they are slaughtered chiefly for their meat. However, the majority viewpoint is that the demand for sharks’ fin is the key factor driving sharks towards extinction. Hear both sides of the story and watch the exciting debate between proponents of the two camps.

The debaters include Dr Giam Choo Hoo, Regional Representative for Asia (Alternate) for CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) Animals Committee, and Louis Ng, Executive Director of ACRES (Animal Concerns Research and Education Society). This debate and public forum will be chaired by Dr Shawn Lum, President of Nature Society (Singapore), and is open to the public and the media.

When: 28th August 2009, Friday

Time: 730pm-10pm

Where: Training Room P303, Spring Singapore,
2 Bukit Merah Central,
Singapore 159835.

Admission: Free

Info: contact@nss.org.sg

Facebook & WordPress & Real Life

The ‘problem’ with Facebook is I think so much less about what I write on it. Even here on WordPress (which I’ve been neglecting) I think & craft a little more carefully–& it takes me longer to do the rounds of my friends’ blogs…

But with Facebook, thanks to Twitter & Nokia, updates are constantly given & received.

There are big advantages of course, especially now with Indignation on. People talk about what’s coming up, what we’ll be going to & when we do meet up in person we don’t have months of absence to catch up on.

But there’s also the difficulty of space & things being outdated so fast.

For example this following, posted yesterday by one of my Facebook friends (also a fellow Caferati member/writer) on how his wife & child were treated by:

“Pawer Skills Learning Centre” at Blk 571 Pasir Ris. It was 1.15pm, a hot afternoon, and this boy was waiting for his mom to pick him after school. He had already finished the water in his bottle as he walked two bus stops away to be picked up, in the heat.

The mother picks him, and he cries for more water cos the thirst was too much. Still a distance from home, she takes him to this centre very nearby, hoping that being a centre for children, it could give them some water.

She knocks on their door, its answered by a lady who immediately frowns upon seeing them. The mother asks for some water, if they can be kind enough to give for her thirsty child. The lady walks away and another older woman comes to the door, and tells the mother … Read more

“NO, we can’t give you any water, as our water is only for our students.”

With such a reply, the mom and son walked away.

And this happend right here, in Singapore. It was my wife and son.

From the responses he got, could see that while many friends were shocked, some were not–because this is Singapore. Now that is really sad.

He wondered whether it was because they were Indian.

I went to the Pawer site & scrolled through the childrens’ photos & testimonials–19 of them but not one Indian…

(Remember this was an ’emergency’, a crying child, a desperate mother–)

Would they have given tap water to fill a Chinese child’s water bottle or does their ‘skills learning’ mean thirsty children of any race can’t have water if they are not students?

I don’t know. I wrote to them:

Dear Pawer Admin,

I just read online that a mother who knocked on your door asking for water for her thirsty, crying child was told by the women who answered, “NO, we can’t give you any water, as our water is only for our students.”

I am curious whether this woman is one of your admin staff responsible for the welfare of young students or teaching staff responsible for courses like “Motivation and Character Building” for children.

Either way it is frightening to think that someone with such a mindset (“no water for thirsty children who don’t pay us tuition”) is allowed near children–unless this is an approach adopted by Pawer as an organization–which is even more frightening.


Ovidia Yu

and am awaiting their reply.