011 What Happened Over Ten Weeks Of Blogging

Ten weeks has passed since I started blogging. Here are the results.

What these figures mean to me are:

1. Blogging checked!

Eleven posts published over a time span of 10 weeks! That means I managed to write consistently an article every week without fail. I guess, I can now tick off blogging on my bucket list.

2. A Great Start!

Together, the blog attracted 600 visitors and almost twice as many views over a period of 10 weeks. That translates to about 60 people reading the post weekly, and it seems that you like it enough to read it more than once.  This is surely an encouraging start for a beginner blogger!

  • Harvesting of friendship

You are among the first who I have invited to my blogging journey. I have no idea how long I can continue and how far it will take me. But I know that I am already enjoying this journey because of you.

Many of you are kind enough to message me your thoughts and feelings after reading my blog, which has become the part I enjoy most after publishing each post. Such exchange got us to know more about each other in barely 2 months than we did in years.

I believe the greatest gain I get out from blogging is the harvesting of friendship. Long-lost friendships are reignited, existing friendships are growing and new friendships are flourishing. In effect, it even bring joy to home, workplace and the neighbourhood.

  • At Home 

My 11-years-old son was pleasantly surprised that his Dad blogs. The first thing he said after reading my blog, however, was a word of caution, “Dad, you really have to be careful with your grammar and spelling.”

I laughed heartily as I knew he would say that. But the best part was the conversation that followed.

After reading my struggles with friendship in post 06: “Lessons on Friendship”, my son felt comfortable enough to share the problems he faced with making new friends and keeping old ones since he changed school almost 2 years ago. 

Like father like son, I thought. We cherish friends, but not adept at the art of friendship yet. Nonetheless, having a heart-to-heart conversation with my son really made my day. 

  • At Workplace 

When my colleagues read about my plight of being all alone in hospital for days (Post 06: Lessons on Friendship), the most laughable response was “I will surely visit you the next time you stay in a hospital!” 

The same post also generated other more thought-provoking responses. A friend shared how betrayals by friends in business had made him wary of friendship. Another friend told me she concluded that maintaining friendships are futile endeavours, which is why she is learning to enjoy being alone. I would never know all these struggles they have outside work if they have chosen not to share with me. Instantly, I felt their trust in me.

Although we share different views about dealing with the challenges about friendship, their candidness allowed us to foster mutual trust and develop a deeper appreciation of one another not merely as colleagues, but also as friends.

  • In The Neighbourhood

All this while, I enjoy a cordial relationship with my neighbours. We greet and smile whenever we meet. But we seldom make conversations, as everyone always seem to be in a hurry. Things went up a few notches since I shared my blog with a few friendly neighbours. Just a couple of days ago, we shared a cup of tea together!

After I posted on a homemade remedy (post 10 “Homemade Remedy: Tangerine Peel Brown Rice Tea”), I was delighted that a neighbour texted to ask if she could sample it. I was more than happy to share with her and another neighbour who we regularly meet in the gym.

My neighbour reciprocated by sharing her own concoction of homemade “Bentong” ginger tea (文冬姜茶) which happened to be one of my favourite teas. And through her, I got to know another neighbour who generously shared his testimony of an effective detox program that he had undergone in Thailand recently. These are small acts of kindness that got started when people start to know each other better. 

My neighbour and a new-found friend C told me his observation, “By opening yourself to others through your blog, you are also encouraging others to open to you. It takes a lot of efforts and courage to do so, but it is really good.” 

  • Using pockets of time 

Not to over-exaggerate my efforts, blogging is actually quite manageable. You might be wondering how much time I spent on writing each blog post. Well, it really depends on the topic, mostly between 1-3 days. I simply write as and when there are pockets of spare time and work towards a self-determined deadline to complete by Wednesday.

Mostly, I make use of the time when commuting to work on public transport. I also blog often at the airports and on flights when travelling overseas. So, the trade-off I made on blogging is lesser time spent on online entertainment, but the returns have been tremendous.

William W K Tan 

20 September 2017

Written in Mumbai, India.

Personal Notes:

Trapped in the hotel now because of heavy rain. Schools are closed and flights disrupted. Hopefully, get to return home on schedule tomorrow.

010 Homemade Remedy:   Tangerine Peel Brown Rice Tea

Those who read my earlier post “007 Health Tip: Sweat it out everyday”  (007 健康小贴士:天天要流汗), know that I am an advocate of body detoxification through drinking tea. 

In that article written in Chinese, I mentioned about a homemade remedy “Tangerine Peel Brown Rice Tea”(陈皮糙米茶).  For simplicity, I shall give it an acronym, the “TPBR TEA”.

Little did I expect that a mere mentioning was sufficient to pique interest in friends, including those who do not read Chinese articles, to ask me to share more about its benefits and method of brewing.

  • Is it suitable for you?

Let’s first consider who should be drinking this. I recommend the TPBR tea to:

□ Those who eat out often.

□ Those who do not eat much rice.

□ Those who appreciate the importance of gastrointestinal well-being.

If you are ticking all these boxes, this drink is definitely for you. Here are the reasons.

  • Reclaim your autonomy in food choices

No matter how careful you are with your choice of food, you are surrendering your autonomy in food decisions to some extent by allowing others to decide on the ingredients and methods of cooking by eating out often. Brewing tea on your own is an easy kickstart to reclaim control over what should go into your body.

  • You can drink more than you eat

    As to why I recommend rice tea to those who consume little rice, the reason is obvious. Rice is easily stomach-filling. But when it is brewed into tea, you can absorb the nutrients of the brown rice without the trouble of eating too much grains. You can definitely drink much more than you can eat.

    • Promotes Gastrointestinal Well-being

    Mainstream medical researches provide evidence of immense health benefits from taking brown rice. They range from aesthetic gains such as weight-loss and skin beauty to medical benefits such as blood sugar control and improved metabolism. It is even said to be effective in cancer prevention. 

    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), on the other hand, recommends drinking brown rice tea as a diet therapy for gastrointestinal well-being by ensuring a smooth flow in three passages (三通) within our body:

    1. Increase passing of urine
    2. Reduce constipation
    3. Promote blood circulation. 

    I have been drinking 2 cups of brown rice tea daily for nearly a month. I can’t tell whether I have become better-looking than before. But what I can tell from the bowel movements is that the toxins are now more regularly purged out from my body. 

    Complemented with dried tangerine peels (陈皮), which is known to address all sorts of digestive problems such as bloating, hiccups, nausea and diarrhea,  this TPBR tea is a perfect homemade remedy to promote gastrointestinal well-being.

    • Are there any side effects?

    There is no known side effect from the literature I gathered. As a matter of fact, the tea is also highly recommended for women who are breast-feeding because of its high nutritional value for both the mother and the baby. Men can be assured, thankfully, that there are no bust-enhancement effect. That I can say for sure.

    Also, if you have concerns that brown rice may cause “heatiness” to the body, I would say that the worry is unfounded. Brown rice is actually considered neutral in Chinese diet therapy. From personal experience as someone who was prone to symptoms such as mouth ulcers and excess mucus in the past, I experienced no recurrence of such problems at all.

    Still, if you have existing medical conditions, it is always prudent to seek professional advice from doctors, especially for advice on possible unintended interaction with other medications that you are taking. 

    • How is the taste?

    Brown rice tea is mildly nutty in flavour, and carries the aroma of roasted rice. Combined with dried tangerine peels, the taste turns into a delicious blend of mandarin sweetness and citrus sourness. 

    You may adjust the taste according to your personal preference through trial and error with the quantity of water and tangerine peels. It is not difficult at all to make a cup of flavourful tangerine peel brown rice tea. Just try it out.

    MAKE YOUR TEA MIXTURE

    1. Get your ingredients

    The first ingredient is brown rice. Long, short or medium grains, it doesn’t really matter. You may also experiment with different varieties such as red and black rice, which are richer in antioxidants that provide relief to stress. My personal preference is red rice, long grains. 

    As for tangerine peels, you can buy ready-made ones from Chinese medical shops. Just say that you want ‘chenpi’ (陈皮).

    Alternatively, you can make it yourself by learning from YouTube, using fresh tangerines. There are just a few simple steps to follow, namely peeling, scrapping (inner layer), rubbing (with salt), rinsing and drying. But it will take many many days of sunny days though…

    In the meantime, I am quite happy to use the ready-made ones I bought.

    2.  Mix and Stir-Fry

    Stir-fry dried tangerine peels with brown rice at low heat. Do it till the rice turn darker in colour. As you stir-fry, you will smell a strong burst of fragrance emitted from the tangerine peels. You should stop once you see the grains darken and smell the fragrance subsides.

    3. Store in an air-tight bottle

    After the mixture of rice and tangerine peels turn cool, store in an air-tight bottle. Now, you are ready to brew your tea anytime you want.

    READY TO BREW

    1. Pour some tea mixture into a pot. 

    Two teaspoons of the tea mixture should be sufficient to make 2 cups of tea. Feel free to experiment with the amount to find the taste just right for you.

    2. Start boiling with water

    Add water and start boiling. Very quickly, the liquid will turn brownish. Boil to the point that the rice turn into porridge-like texture.

    3. Your tea is ready

    Pour the liquid into a cup. For the cooked grains, you may chose to eat it if you want to consume the fibre for weight-loss. Add a teaspoon of honey for better taste.  Otherwise, you can dispose it away. Anyway, you got all the nutrients in the tea.

    I always drink a cup in the morning during breakfast and bring the remainder to the office for later consumption. 

    And if you have enough, share it with your loved ones or a friend you care for. It is good for their health and probably heart-warming too.

    William WK Tan

    13 September 2017 (Wed)

    009-C 晨跑新发现:奥斯汀小镇@ 新山  

    一般上到新山工作,由于靠近新加坡的关系,我都会选择当日返回的。两周前到那儿出差四天,其中一天因为工作至较迟,就选择了留宿一晚。

    这选择,在隔日晨跑时,叫我又有了新发现。本以为四周不过是尚未开店的店铺和毫不起眼的街道,却意外而惊喜地发现了一处景色怡人的地方。

    沿着小道两侧的树木,并不是在新马两地随处可见,很有生命力地朝天伸展树枝的雨树  (Rain Tree),而是更像我在纽澳惯见的一种酷似圣诞树,取名揽仁树 (Sea Almond)的树木,据说树名由果实貌似橄榄的壳而来。

    可别取笑它的名字和懒人同音。它身型魁梧挺拔,漂亮的树形如同沿途有一把又一把雨伞整齐地排列着,欢迎人们的到来。

    还不到早上七点,可能是时间还早的关系吧,天空显得特别的蓝。连空中的云彩也像染上了一抹淡淡的蓝。

    天渐渐亮了,同一个地方却如同变妆了一样,立即换上了草地的颜色,一片翠绿。

    想知道这美丽的地方具体位置在哪里吧?我暂且想卖个小关子,鼓励大家自己去奥斯汀小镇去探索,不难找的。问题在于你是否保持着在平凡生活中探索美的能力吗?

    其实美丽的景致到处都有,关键在于是否能让自己有静下心来的时间,好好去感受生活中的美。尤其是当一个人忙了累了烦了的时候,更加需要这种静心的时间。

    陈惠谦 William W K Tan

    2017年9月5日(星期二)

    009-E A Morning Run Discovery: Mount Austin@ Johor Bahru 

    Because of Johor Bahru (JB)’s proximity to Singapore, I usually chose to return home on the same day whenever I have to travel there for work. Two weeks ago, I was there for four days, but decided to stay for one night because I had to work late on one particular day.

    It was a decision that allowed me to discover another great place during my morning run the next day. I expected to see nothing more than closed shops and ordinary streets, but was pleasantly surprised to find a scenic location.

    The trees planted on both sides of the foot path were not the boisterous Rain Trees that are commonly found everywhere in Singapore and Malaysia. Rather, they were the Sea Almond Trees, Christmas trees look-a-likes, that I often see in New Zealand and Australia. It was said that its name originated from its seeds that resemble almonds.

    You would probably laughed at its name if you know that it sounds exactly like another word meaning lazybones in Chinese. Quite on the contrary though, sea almond trees were sturdy and tall, and they looked like beautifully-shaped umbrellas all lined up neatly along the road, extending welcome to whoever may come its way.

    It was barely 7 am in the morning, perhaps as it was still early, the sky looked exceptionally blue. Even the clouds in the sky were dyed with a slight dash of blue.

    As the sky turned brighter, the same place took on a new coat of green, derived from the grasslands, as if it has undergone a cosmetic makeover instantly.

    Would you like to know the exact location of this scenic spot?  For now, I thought it might be wiser not to divulge the location, but to allow you discover it at Mount Austin on your own. It should be an easy place to find. The question is whether you still possess the ability to discover the beautiful things in ordinary life.

    Beautiful places are bountiful and can be found everywhere. The key is whether we allow ourselves to have moments of tranquillity to appreciate the beauty of life. Especially when we are busy, tired or troubled, making time like this to have quiet moments of serenity is more precious than ever.       

    陈惠谦 William W K Tan

    5 September 2017 ( Tuesday)

    Personal Notes:

    I tried writing in two languages this time because some of my friends told me that they would very much like to read the blog posts I wrote in Chinese. 

    One friend even told me she google translated whenever I wrote in Chinese. I am grateful and feel encouraged by you. I know I have to give it try even though it takes more time and effort to do the translation. 

    Coincidentally, I feel a pressing need to recapture those tranquil moments I got in Mount Austin now. So, I am really glad to write this blog post tonight. Hope you’d like reading it too.

    008  Lessons on self-acceptance 

    People feel hurt most when those closest to them seem oblivious to their emotional needs. 

    “Isn’t it justified to expect our parents, spouse, children and close friends to be more understanding and supportive? Isn’t that what they are supposed to do? To accept us for who we are, that’s all.”

    • Do you have an emotional need to seek acceptance from others? 

    We all have an emotional need for acceptance by others, albeit at varying degrees.

    At the early stage of our life as young children, we were mostly needy for adoration from our parents in order to feel safe. At adolescent stage, many of us were constantly seeking endorsement from friends in order to feel accepted. Even after we reached adulthood, many adults continue to crave affirmation from others, at workplace and at home, in order to feel appreciated.

    Such needs for adoration, endorsement and affirmation is an expression of an intrinsic need for people to feel safe, accepted and appreciated.  

    • Adverse consequences to craving for acceptance 

    Although there are obvious benefits in gaining acceptance from others as described above, there are adverse consequences to craving for acceptance. 

    Craving for acceptance becomes a serious problem if you cannot self-soothe during difficult times when such emotional needs are not met.

    Employees become disgruntled workers when they are under-appreciated by their bosses. Close friends drift apart when one party senses the camaraderie between them is somewhat lost. Spouses turn into strange bedfellows when one partner constantly feel misjudged by the other.  Even parents-and-child relationship become strained when their expectations are misaligned.

    • Importance of self-acceptance 

    As you can see, a deficit in acceptance from others can be detrimental to keeping good and healthy relationships. Moreover, blaming others is more likely to exacerbate the problem than solving it.

    If you are deeply upset over not getting sufficient acceptance from others, the real problem could be that you have mistakenly allowed your own value to be subjected to other’s approval. 

    Simply said, you have probably lost sight of your “self”. A prior question to seeking acceptance from others is to ask whether you are accepting your “self” in the first place. 

    • A personal experience that taught me the importance of self-acceptance

    I was taught the importance of self-acceptance from a personal schooling experience.

    Since young, I have a penchant to gain favour and affirmation from parents and teachers, perhaps even from friends through scholastic excellence. Somehow it was indoctrinated in me that I must deliver results to make people feel proud of me. Fortunately for me, getting good grades was never that difficult, until the age of eighteen.

    So you could probably imagine my devastation when I unexpectedly got two Cs grades and one E grade in the crucial examination at GCE A’s levels, which almost blew my chance of admission to the University. That result slip spelt the end of a promising future for a supposedly Ace grade student. Unable to accept the outcome, I spent days after days in solitary, agonising over how to face the people I disappointed and wondering what went so wrong.  I had no answers.

    I felt as if every ounce of my self-worth was decimated. I knew my strength was in studying, but without proof of academic achievement, who am I really?

    If not for my parents who showed that they cared for me far more than any whatsoever results, and a good friend who cared enough to visit and nudge me hard to apply for admission to the University, the path I took in life would have turned out quite differently.

    On hindsight, it was a humbling experience that did me a lot of good. It taught me a great deal about accepting failures, and knowing both my strengths and weaknesses. 

    • Learn to accept both your strengths and weaknesses

    When we are self-accepting, we accept not just our strengths, but also our short-comings. 

    Recognising our strengths prevent us from being short-changed by others who think lesser of us. Accepting our weaknesses allow us to take in criticisms from others without being overly defensive. 

    By accepting both our strengths and weaknesses, we learn to be confident with who we are, which frees us from the tyranny of others’ judgement. 

    Do not live in the judgement of others. Learn to accept our imperfections and yet confident enough to improve ourselves for the better. At the end, it is only us who can judge if we have lived our lives fully.

    William W K Tan

    31 August 2017 (Thursday)

    6:10 a.m.

    Bangkok, Thailand.

    (Finally, this time I am not travelling overseas for work, but time for family and self. 😊)

    007 健康小贴士:天天要流汗

    • 看病看到累了

    过去,由于长年患有严重鼻窦炎(sinusitis), 我的眼鼻喉极容易被病菌感染 (viral infection),每隔一两个月,就得看医生。其实,来来去去,不外乎是感冒发烧,头涨眼昏,四肢乏力,不算什么大毛病。但是这么频繁地看医生,真是累人。

    西医总是说,是因为流感横行,加上我有鼻窦炎的问题,所以难免容易生病。久而久之,我也懒得问原因了。就直接告诉医生该开什么药,快快拿病假单回家休息便是。后来更索性不看医生,干脆到药房买成药罢了。无奈的是,吃药后病情还是变重的时候,也只能乖乖地去看医生,被迫服食药性更强的抗生素。

    转看中医呢,说我是体内湿热,要戒口和吃中药调养。我就把好多爱吃的东西和饮料都戒了。中药也天天一包接一包地不间断的吃,把自己搞得一身药味儿。过了好多时日,好不容易初见疗效。以为终于可以省钱省时不必每星期看医师时,就小小地犒赏了自己一下,小小破戒,吃一点儿不当的美食或久违的冷饮,结果一发不可收拾,前功尽弃。其实就算坚持不破戒,一有流感,我也就病倒了,身体完全没抵抗力似的。

    总结过去生病看病的经验,我明白了一个道理:西医也好,中医也罢,关键在于提高自己身体的自愈能力。自愈的方法琳琳种种,我推荐的方法是排汗,天天要流汗。

    •  å¤©å¤©æŽ’汗,排毒

    好久没病了。目前尚不敢断言老毛病都没了。所幸的是,在近10个月来,这些问题都消声灭迹了。连医生都笑说,有点儿想念我了。

    我确信这转变,是我天天排汗,让体内的毒素随着汗水一起排出体外的结果。排汗除了有排除体内毒素的功效,也可以让身体保暖的同时,避免过于发热。这里就和大家分享我目前在一天内早午晚所采用的排汗方法,供你参考。

    • 晨间的超慢跑

    方法首推晨间的超慢跑。什么是超慢跑呢?这是一种在日本科学验证对瘦身,活脑,排毒同时产生极大功效的跑步节奏。

    超慢跑的步伐像跑步而不似走路,速度却明显慢于一般人的慢跑。踏着轻松的脚步,带着边跑边观赏街道风景的速度慢跑,节奏让人可以边跑边聊天,唱歌也没问题。

    我每天都会特意早起,完成平日一小时的超慢跑,周末更是花上2小时去周游更远的地方。我会一边跑,一边补充水份,因此更容易出汗。

    这种不徐不疾的跑法虽然费时,需要我一早摸黑就开始,可是胜在对身体的压力极小,对关节也不会造成伤害。倒是跑着跑着,觉得尽管晨风晾凉的,体内却是暖暖的,好舒服。  

    对于身体容易发冷或有膝盖关节痛的朋友,我真心建议你看看日籍作者梅芳久仁子著的《惊人的超慢跑瘦身法》,学习这种跑法。有机会的话,就和我一起跑跑看,保证你会觉得跑步不再是累人的活动。

    • 饮用养生茶

    其次是饮用养生茶吧。本来我通常在办公室里是喝温水的,后来因为同事们大多爱喝咖啡,我也开始早晨和午后各来一杯咖啡。再后来,不自觉地,在一位重视养生的朋友的潜移默化下,接触了关于养生茶的书籍后,开始改喝起茶来。

    现在,基本上我会在早上喝加了柠檬汁的日本绿茶(green tea)。这热茶一饮之下,本来在跑步后已干的汗水,又会大量排出。到了办公室,早上我尽可能喝温水,午后才开始喝茴香茶 (fennel tea)或喝一位有心的同事泡给大家喝的花茶。上个周末在家里尝试泡制了陈皮糙米茶( tangerine peel brown rice tea),饮后发现有出汗利尿的效果。看来,也是个好选择。冷气办公室不易出汗,可是喝热茶还是起着暖胃的功效的。

    • 睡前热水泡脚

    在睡前,我会花十来分钟用热水泡脚。我倒没有买什么特制的木桶,不过就用简单的塑料脸盆,待热水器的水够热了,就用来冲洗双脚。水一凉了,就倒掉替换。来回几遍后,双脚在热水的浸泡下,开始泛红发烫。过热就加冷水调和,小心不烫伤脚部。刚开始,觉得没什么,就是洗脚嘛。日子久了,发现手臂的部位和背部会微微出汗,过后就很容易入睡了。

    最后说明一下,我的一位好友说他老公不信我就单靠跑步能在短数个月内减了8公斤,腰围也小了5寸。我想以上的补充,他会更信服吧。希望对他有帮助,更对阅读我的博文的家人朋友有益。

    追根究底,关键不在于要跟我一样做了什么。依样画葫芦,不见得会有效。更重要的是,在参考我和其他更懂得身体健康的人的方法后,找出更适合自己的排汗排毒的方法就好。我也是在不断摸索中,渐渐理出这三个方法来排汗,也在试着改进。你如果懂得其他排毒的好方法,可别忘了和我分享哟。我的联络方式如下:

    Email: wktanwilliam@gmail.com 

    Whatsapp: +6597630945
    陈惠谦

    William W.K. Tan

    2017年8月23日

    10:30 pm

    写于菲律宾(Philippines)首都马尼拉(Manila)的阿拉邦市(Alabang) 

    006 Running Out Of Friends

    I never quite know how to make a convincing argument for spending time on friends, especially over family. After all, the truth is no matter how strong a friendship can be, its significance seems to pale in comparison to family ties. 

    • What are friends for?

    Yet, we instinctively understand that friends are necessary for human flourishing. At the very least, the presence of friends provides a sense of familarity and safety that is needed for harmonious co-existence. And at its very best, friendship can blossom into a springwell of goodwill and strength derived from the extent friends are willing to do for the sake of friendship itself. At any rate, it seems self-evidently true that a life nourished with friends is more satisfying than a life without any.

    • Will you regret not spending more time with friends?

    Still, maintaining friendship is a tricky business. Most friends come into our lives by chance, and often they slip out of our lives as and when they like.  Along the passage of time, people find new friends to replace old ones, as if the former is a convenient substitute for the latter. Friendship is seldom enduring and its transient nature casts serious doubt on the value of spending time on friends. 

    Out of practical considerations, prudence teaches us to spend time on only a handful of chosen friends, rather than counting the headcount of friends one may collect. However, only time can discern lifelong friends apart from the passer-bys. As time passes, we may find ourselves losing more friends than we can handle, especially when even the most cherished ones are gone unexpectedly. No wonder one of greatest regrets people have at old age is said to be “not spending more time with friends” when they could.

    • Running out of friends

    I did not realise my folly of not spending adequate time with friends until quite recently.  In a self-imposed exile for nearly a decade, I had skipped every class reunion with old friends and turned down almost every invitation to social gatherings that might rob whatever precious time I could give my family. And neither did I made any effort to connect with friends using social media. Soon, the number of friends I had dwindled drastically, and alas, eventually the phone calls I got outside work and family, were only those from the representatives of bank institutions and insurance companies.

    I was unalarmed with the dearth of friends until I was hospitalised one year ago. Lying on the sick bed for five consecutive days, each day passed with my longing for the company of friends grew stronger. But no one came, not even a single colleague from the workplace. I realised, at that instant, workplace friendship is fundamentally different. I understand why people prefer to keep private and professional lives separate, but I couldn’t help feeling sad as there are colleagues that I genuinely like and count as friends.

    In desperation, I called up a close friend since college days, “Hi, buddy, I am in a hospital for a surgery. Nothing serious really. Just thought if you have time for some catching up.”  I felt somewhat embarrassed.

    To my delight, my good old friend visited me immediately without hesitation and I enjoyed his company tremendously. Thank you, my friend, I will never forget. And thank god, I  still got one friend left, I thought. 

    • How did I run out of friends?

    How did I arrive at such a dismal state? You might have already guessed the reasons: Marriage, Parenthood and Work. On hindsight, however, I realise the root cause was something else– a lack of proper appreciation of friendship.

    Entering marriage and parenthood in my early thirties, I was prepared for a reconfiguration of my social life to fulfill my new-found duties as a husband and a working father. What I was unprepared for was the double whammy of my first-born child being diagnosed with developmental disorders and an abrupt change of job nature that increased the frequency of my overseas travels sharply. My life tailspinned into chaos before I could put home and workplace back into order after years of efforts. Spending time with friends became a luxury that I could ill-afford for a long time.

    •  Lesssons on friendship from friends

    Although I was once near the brink of bankruptcy on friendship in the domestic front, I have made some unexpectedly enduring friendships abroad over those years, and am starting to see some good results at home ground in recent months after making changes.

    Among my new-found friends and old ones, some have become my mentors and counsels, and a few others see themselves as my apprentices. It all started as purely work relationships, but have blossomed into something more because of shared values and mutual trust. Having like-minded friends at work is enjoyable and raises productivity. Even after the work is ceased and people have parted ways, the relationship will continue to grow as long as both parties develop a genuine liking for each other to make continuous efforts to deepen the connections. 

    I have learnt a few precious lessons from these friends, both new and old:

    1. Friendship enriches a person and becomes an asset only when it is based on shared values and mutual trust.

    2. Workplace friendship may turn into a liability only if it is grounded on convenience and calculated interests.

    3. One must genuinely like a person, whatever the circumstances, to become lasting friends.

    4. Do not mistake reciprocity of kindnesss as a transaction of give and take. Friends are willing to give and give for the sake of friendship alone.

    5. Your friends may not always be there for you when you need them most. But if you truly cherish your friends, you can feel their presence even in their absence.

    Thank you all for encouraging me to keep on writing in your WhatsApp messages. Please share your comments here or chose to follow my blog if you find it thoughtful and sincere enough.  I am curious to find out also for how long and how often can I keep up this efforts to share with you, my family and friends.

    William W.K. Tan

    16 August 2017 10.20 pm

    Singapore

    005 随着年龄的增长,你还相信爱吗?  Do you still believe in love as you grow older?

    最近午休时小聊,几个同事分享了夫妻相处的心得。
    一人说,她多年来都坚持每周一次两人独处的时间,不带小孩,就两人的约会,或是共享晚餐,或是看一场电影。对她而言,爱是陪伴吧。另一人说,夫妻相处在于互相忍让,你退一步,我让一步。对她来说,爱是包容吧。

    这时,我加了一句,”不只是忍让,还要有爱吧。”不料她一听,不解和无语地看着我,只差没直载地问,”你都这么大年纪了,怎么还天真地相信婚姻靠的是情情爱爱那一套呢?”

    如果是我错读了她的表情,在此致歉。不过,这提供了我深思的机会。是我太天真了呢?我发现,生活确实会不小心将人变得现实到把爱情看成奢侈品。毕竟,柴米油盐,养儿育女,生活的起落,都会让人对爱的追求减少,甚至以为是多余的。

    • 人与人的关系和幸福,为什么需要爱?

    尽管如此,我相信爱在建立任何真诚而有益的人际关系里是不可缺少的。不仅是亲近的关系如夫妻,父母和孩子,就算是没有血缘联系的同事和朋友,若要成为良师益友,也需要爱的基础。如果没有由衷的喜爱,人与人的关系就难以升华,只能停留在表面互动。

    对爱的追求,我想,是没有时间的限期的。不论是豆蔻年华的年轻男女,或是年华老去的爷爷奶奶,也包括像我这种夹心族在内,知道自己有爱和被爱的对像的人,要比在生活中感受不到爱的人的幸福感高多了吧。

    问题是,对于爱的学习,人们因为种种原因辍学了。人们在年轻时,刚开始碰到爱的习题时,总是愿意孜孜不倦的学习,认真地做答。时间久了,或以为得到了,或失败气馁了,或只是忙得都忘了。结果,没好好去学习如何去爱老去的父母,如何去爱容易操心孩子的妻子,如何去爱想法变得很不同的孩子,如何去爱有恩于自己的良师,如何去爱能了解和充实自己的益友,这一切都是需要一辈子不断的学习。你也和我一样,或多或少的,荒废了学习爱吗?

    • 一起学习真爱吧

    最近   我在学习中,拜读了一行禅师的著作《怎么爱》,深感受教,借此与你分享。

    一行禅师用”慈”,”悲”, “喜”,”舍”四个佛理,深入简出地解释如何去爱。我呢,对佛理的悟性不够,但还是看明白了其中的道理。让我尝试用通俗易懂的语言,加入自己的诠释,与你分享:

    要获得真爱,需要培养四种能力。

    • 爱是给予对方幸福感的能力

    自己一人如果不能感到幸福的话,是难以将幸福给予别人的。首先,我们要学习接受自己的不足,并积极地发掘自己的强处,让自己的内心强大起来。要成为一个不必倚靠他人,也能自身能产生幸福感的人。该怎么做呢?要学习以活在当下的生活态度去面对周遭的人事物。这样一来,就能变得从容和感恩,就算遇到磨难,也会有较强的自愈能力迅速恢复,持续发光发热。

    • 爱是了解自身和对方痛苦的能力

    一个明白自身的痛楚源自何处又懂得面对的人,对于别人的痛苦就较能够有同理心,也较懂得聆听对方的心声。具备了了解自身和对方痛苦的能力,在对方的痛苦时,就不容易被对方负面的情绪所困扰,而能够起着感化和疏解的作用。

    • 爱是提供喜悦的能力

    一个人若懂得在生活中发现喜悦,那生活的点点滴滴都可以变得愉快欢喜的事情。具备提供喜悦的能力,也有助于提高幽默的能力。幽默感体现于学会彼此调侃和逗笑。这有助于滋润双方的感情,提升两人共处的愉悦。

    • 爱是最大的包容能力

    最大的包容是不设限的。简单地说,也就是不分你我,将对方視为共同命运体。选择性地接受对方有利于自己的部分,而拒绝对方的另一些令你不悦的地方,那不是包容。当然包容不等同于纵容。包容是接受对方的缺点的同时,用耐心,理解,能力和时间去化解不好的一面。

    真爱所需的这四项能力,说起来容易,做起来不易。修炼爱情应该是终身学习的一门课吧。我把本文献给同样天真地愿意相信爱,愿意学习爱的人。你如果认为这篇文章对你关心的人有用的话,也劳你传阅,大家一起学习共勉。

    陈惠谦

    2017年8月10日

    休假日修炼中

    004 Learning to enjoy a good run

    • Why running  is finally working for me now?

    My waist size has reduced from 38 to 33 inches after shedding 8 kg over the recent few months.  Of the changes I made,  I believe running made the biggest difference. The greater significance is really not in weight reduction, but rather in having learnt to enjoy running now.

    • Why running did not work in the past?

    For a long time, I never quite like running. I remember creating a password “runforyourlife” for one of my often-used apps to remind myself not to give up on running. That reminder very much summed up how I felt towards running, which is, a necessary evil in order to stay alive. 

    At best, running was instrumental to maintaining my weight that had long crossed the obesity threshold, which offered litte consolation. At worst, it was a punishing regime that I had learnt to put up with. It was only recently that I realised my ill-conceived idea about running was an impediment to my undying efforts to improve health for many years. 

    Knowing that I must run to improve health might have been a reason good enough in getting me started, but it was not a reason strong enough to keep me at it. In fact, running has always been a broken string of on-and-off affairs for me. 

    The reasons of giving-up are aplenty such as family commitments, frequent work travels, occasional flu and lethargy, as well as external conditions such as  bad weather conditions and haze, which are well beyond my control. The truth is no matter how much a person may value his or her health, there are always reasons for not feeling good enough to run.

    • Underestimated the value of joy

    The problem is, like many people who do not like running, I had greatly underestimated the value of joy in running itself. I used to think it is a sheer lack of strict discipline on my part, so I downplayed the dreadful parts of running such as its monotonous routine, the muscle aches that build up around the calves, the breathless panting that arises after I go too fast, or the occasional  knee cap pains I experienced. I would always try to cope by moderating the intensity and duration when such symptoms become too hard to ignore.

    On hindsight, I have been hoodwinked by the conventional wisdom of “no pain, no gain.” The gains I got was meagre and the pains had made the efforts to continue running unsustainable.

    Thanks to the books I read on running, especially those written on enjoying a good run by authors who used to have trouble with running in the past, I start to see those dreadul symptoms as signs from my body telling me to improve the ways I run. 

    • Three key points to enjoy running

    Through experimentation on the tips I gathered, I arrived at 3 points that make a run enjoyable. 

    1. Enjoy going easy and keeping it just right always

    Run at a pace, duration and frequency that your body tells you is just-right to keep going.

    2. Enjoy the peak moments of energy level 

    Run to a point that you arrive at some peak moments of satisfaction that allow you to experience the adrenaline of a sudden rush of energy.

    3.  Enjoy an ending with recovery in perspiration 

    Run must be completed with a good ending of recovery that allows you to enjoy the perspiration and release of energy.

    Now that I focused my thoughts on learning how to enjoy a good and healthy run, running is no longer an ordeal, but a routine that keeps me happier and fitter. To the people I care for, I hope my experience in running  is useful to you in one way or another. Perhaps, we can enjoy a run together one day.

    William W.K. Tan

    Singapore