Archive for the ‘Mind Matters’ Category

Biting the dust? Not quite!

I have been extremely quiet on this blog yes. Elsewhere in my life, a couple of months back I allowed, rather foolishly for work to take over most of my life. However as this year draws to a close, and the crisp autumn air reminds me that 2013 is about to wave goodbye to me.

I have been doing a lot of reading. Raptitude, a blog by David Cain is currently on my favourite lists. I think I have read enough books to realise that self help and self realisation is my genre. I have consistently sought to understand myself at different stages of my life and career. I like how the authors of self help books always seem to be speaking to me and touching the raw edge of my soul.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I have become completely zen like. I still am, as my friends will bear testament to this fact a very humorous person. I think what has changed is that I have, somewhat consciously pushed myself to be a stronger person as the days go by.

They say people around you rub off you- and I cannot agree more with this statement. However it also very much depends on how much you allow them to rub off you and what qualities they have which you absorb through your daily dealings with them.

I constantly try and revisit my core, what it is I believe in and what my key strengths and weaknesses are.

And this is a continuous process. Just as you will take baths everyday, you have to motivate yourself every single day as well. Reading and convincing myself that there are always two sides to an issue which presents itself is vital.

Balancing really is a lifelong art. Hope I get better at it with time, like good wine.

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Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, the “Resurrection”, a very very hauntingly beautiful piece which sends me into tears each time I listen to it. I performed with the London Philharmonic Choir in 2009. At the time, one of our sopranos had just lost her husband, also an esteemed member of the choir and we dedicated the concert to his memory. There was not a dry eye in the house when we were done.

Fast forward almost three years later, with me now living as a semi recluse in a quaint little stone town, I had the honour and pleasure to see my dear friend return to the University of Nottingham to perform with the University Philharmonia and University Chorus, the epic Mahler Symphony No. 2.

I will share with you a few precious snapshots of the University Park- which I had wanted to visit for ages (but in the past, lets just say I gave myself more excuses to not go, then to think of a reason to go.) but had yet to tick off my list of to-do things.

Blessed with beautiful weather, I took a couple of snapshots of the artfully landscaped grounds. Here are some for your viewing pleasure:

You probably must be wondering what on earth the poor child is doing? Well before I came, I painted the graduation photograph of my friend when he was conferred with a PHD, almost six years ago. Thought it would be a good idea to hold up the small painting against the actual background. Artists’ quirk if you like.  Also for someone who is rubbish at directions, I had to show this painting to the taxi driver to let him know where I was going. Yes, it may not happen to most people but I think the fateful taxi driver must have been scratching his head, wondering where I’d come from. A tardis maybe?

Picture perfect!

For me the trip was a real eye opener as I had been debating going back to full time study for a while now. Safe to say, I felt right at home on campus. I could picture myself living and studying here for more than a year, I think. It was quite a revelation for me personally- as I never really had similar sentiments when I visited other campuses. It was a very nice, warm and comfortable feeling.

I even had about 45 minutes to do a quick sketch of the iconic Trent building. It is unfinished so will probably make its appearance once I manage to finish it 🙂

Anyway lest we forgot the whole point of this blog post, back to Mahler. A quick whirlwind tour of Beeston and Nottingham on car, snapping photos along the way later, it was time for the concert.

I am not a music critic so will only describe the feelings which went through my mind as the performance unfolded. First and foremost, I had recently lost my grandfather so the principles which guided Mahler when he wrote this piece, death, life, suffering and resurrection struck a strong chord with me. I realised that one part of me will never get over not meeting my grandfather for the last time before he passed away. Perhaps this was how he intended it to be.

Being a singer myself I am partial towards the fifth movement. As the choir sang “Auferstehn, Ja Auferstehn” (Rise again, yes Rise again) I could literally feel the melody and words penetrating my core. I can completely understand why the second soprano who lost her husband had to take time out from the rehearsal before she could return to sing with us, a good couple of minutes later. Mahler is a true genius and this piece, every single time, certainly for me, will evoke emotions of pain, hope, resilience, acceptance, all mixed into one.

It was a beautiful beautiful concert. For me, I finally fulfilled my wish to visit Nottingham, and more importantly, to see my friend in concert. I did this in the same day. Secondly, Mahler’s Symphony No.2 is very special to me and always will be- for the reasons which you now know.

The fragility and unpredictability of life transcends into an art form which would touch anyone who has a spiritual soul. I am one of those people. As my brother used to say, I must be made of water as I get touched very easily. I like to think that this side of me is beginning to manifest itself a lot more as I get older. My mother was and still is at her grand age, bless her. We are who we are, I suppose at the end of the day.



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with a little bit of gut instinct, blind faith in my abilities (after all, I had nothing to lose and everything to gain) I took a fateful train trip parallel to the A1 to see what life had to offer me. Amidst the madness of the mid-Lent fair and also a very challenging interview process later my life changed pretty much since then.

It was only recently I realised that I had a post-it note on my screen (before I got this job) writing down Exactly what I wanted. The title of my current job matches that note down to a T.

Unfortunately I lost the post it note during transit from London. However I can only say that someone up there really was taking care of me this time last year.

Feeling very grateful.

For those who are still struggling up the ladder or contemplating a change- remember this: Always stay focused and post notes around the house if you have to. Know the position you want to aim for and think about it for a good 3 minutes before you go to sleep and then wake up with the same thought in your head. Speak to people who can help you, or at least know the right doors to knock on. A battle is never fought alone, always with strategy ^^.

And now, to get back to those half eaten cookies, half finished paintings, half practiced piano pieces… on Mothering Sunday 😀

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Thinking of a few close friends and my family who, I realise have always known how to read me like an open book. I am not very good at suppressing my feelings. These days I find ways to let them out by writing, reading, listening to music, the occasional belting into song much to the annoyance of my neighbours upstairs, and also, revisiting an old hobby of mine- drawing and sketching.

Sketching, painting and drawing usually means that I am going through a difficult phase emotionally- and it is my non destructive way of getting the conflicting thoughts out of my system. I have a self imposed ban on drinking alone particularly when I am walking on the semi- depressive path as it can have pretty disastrous consequences.

Last night, as I diligently completed 50% of my March assignment for the online art club, a little voice inside me said, “this is very therapeutic- why should you only produce work when you are stressed and unhappy.” It did feel quite bizarre. The more stressed and unhappy I am the more beautiful the painting seems to be.

In fact, if we listen to compositions by the great composers- Mahler’s 2nd symphony, Dvorak’s requiem, these were composed during times of the composers’ grief- and the music flowed like it came through from the heavens.

Or think of the renowned Chinese Cantata, Ode to the Yellow River. I do not plan to revise everybody’s history knowledge of what happened but you can see how tragically beautiful the piece is.

My brushes are my magic wands. The fuel is my passion, be it filled with sadness, negativity or otherwise. The end results are hopefully, a work of art which I laboured on- containing my love, my heartache, my joy, my inspiration and everything rolled into one. It is a representation of my inner self and my very bare soul.

Very much like this blog, the paintings and sketches are an extension of me. They always will be.

I used to feel weak that people who care about me can read me so well. These days I see it as a sign of strength and courage. The courage to actually be read. 🙂

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This is a very special 3.75 year old who thinks of me all the time- asking when she can see me. Since I started my new job I have not had the time (or regrettably, not made the time) to meet her. Today I did. Worried I was as kids tend to forget (or so I thought) you if you leave meeting them for too long. My heart melted when she saw me today, ran out of her buggy and threw herself into my arms and planted a huge kiss on my cheek. She knew it was my birthday and had saved the one and only chocolate cookie she baked in class to give it to me.

When I reached home i started the sketch above whilst savouring the precious cookie piece by piece. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I felt very guilty for not seeing her- and yet her innocent love for me knows no bounds. I am such a lucky person to earn the trust and love of a child whom I don’t see very often.

I guess as I grow older tiny little sentiments like this ignites the emotional side of me really easily. Did they not say that you get stronger as you grow older? 🙂


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5 March- can’t believe it has been that long since I left everything behind to move to this island.

What a roller coaster journey it has been, with euphoric highs and at times, really depressing lows. I feel like a piece of play doh that has been shaped, pulled and stretched beyond limits which I never knew possible.

And I find myself becoming more assertive, articulate, self assured and at the same time, humbled by the opportunities that have come my way.

If our heart is the biggest muscle in our body, I can safely say that it has received one heck of a workout with the dumbbells and weights and crunches of life. 🙂 And grown stronger and bigger. Stronger, to deal with the challenges and hardships which test one’s endurance everyday. Bigger, to accept people for who they are and genuinely care for them, especially if they care about you with all their heart.

The silver lining is pretty clear.


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Ever had a great idea gestate in your mind, only to dismiss it as something whimsical?

Or perhaps you divulged a great idea to your friend thinking that you could both work together on it, at some point? (Sounds similar? Well that’s what happened to the Winklevoss twins)

Too many case studies have taught us that ideas will not be protected by a court of law- only an expression of idea will be protected.

What does this mean?

It means that if you really care about the idea which you have in your mind, write it down. Blog about it and make that idea exist in a tangible form. A blog post. A doodle. A photograph. Anything.

Because if you don’t, someone else will. And as far as the law goes- they will have the upper hand.

Once you have it in an existing format then you will own the format of the idea it was created in. Which is more commonly known as copyright.

So don’t dismiss your ideas as something silly. There is no such thing as a silly idea. The only silly thing is not going through with the idea and making it exist.

Be true to your feelings- do not let your dreams slip past without realising what you have lost.

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