Keep calm and write on

It’s my 5th anniversary writing on this blog. And I want to confess something… I started out this year wanting to give up on it. Suddenly everything felt meaningless, and empty, and I wasn’t sure what I was doing anymore.

I guess I had a low start to the year.

Year end was busy no doubt, and the first few days of 2016 was occupied with adjusting to primary school – both Vera and the entire household.

We’re still adjusting, of course. But a part of me is asking the question, what next?

Then I read Emily Freeman’s post. And the original purpose of my starting this blog came flowing back to me.

Following that, I also read this:

Often we want to be able to see into the future. We say, “How will next year be for me? Where will I be five or ten years from now? There are no answers to these questions. Mostly we have just enough light to see the next step: what we have to do in the coming hour, or the following day. The art of living is to enjoy what we can see and not complain about what remains in the dark. When we are able to take the next step with the trust that we will have enough light for the step that follows, we can walk through life with joy and be surprised at how far we go. – Henri Nouwen

I started out wanting to connect with fellow parents, and to just journal joy.

As I experienced challenges of my own, I shared and wrote about them, in ways that also helped me to work out some of those difficulties. (Writing makes it all clearer, doesn’t it?)

I also enjoyed writing about the little everyday lessons that hit me in the midst of the mess.

This blog has played such a big part of my family life and my personal growth. Reading back some of my old posts make me smile or sometimes cry.

The one on re-discovering my middle boy.

The one on the little things.

When Vera showed me a child’s ability to love.

So as I look up and peer into the horizon, I can’t see more than the first one or two footsteps ahead of me.

But maybe that’s okay. That’s enough for me. The rest is faith and trust and obedience.

If you find yourself at this point too, take courage, take joy, and leave fear at the doorstep.

This year, I choose to cultivate myself, my loves, and my family.

I choose to keep writing, even when those words seem elusive.

I choose to press on, even if I can only see the next step.

horizon

On photography and writing

A good photograph anchors the story you’re telling, and helps to give it weight.

I’ve never been more aware of the relationship between photos and words than I am now, as a writer, a mum, and an amateur (read iphone) photographer.

Photography is one of the skills that bloggers or writers tend to pick up while doing our art. In the past year or so, I think I’ve grown more attuned to aesthetics, placement of subjects and the space around them, and the networking of colours.

And obviously the kids make naturally awesome subjects to practise on.

God knows how much I covet a DSLR…For the record, I haven’t found the courage or time to pick up a DSLR. I heard it’s a route that one will travel and not turn back on. Plus lugging the kids around is weight enough for me, and so I’ve been content just playing around with my iphone.

I’ve also found that apps make cool toys. I’ve started falling for picfx, which is the app I used to edit Vera and dad’s hadouken moment. And of course instagram, which almost everybody is on these days. I think apps like these satisfy our need for beauty, as well as  community, as exemplified by the avid usage of #hashtags. And perhaps a bit of narcissism, since we all get to prettify ourselves and earn likes for the most adorable pictures of our children. But I try not to think so much, and just enjoy the process. Anyway the cute/fun/funny/lovey pictures will be more for us to reminisce and savour in old age, no?

But I digress. (See what apps do to me?) I wanted to talk about the relationship between photography and writing.

For me, my photos are often the main starting point of a blog post. Like the picture of Vera and her granny walking in the park. Or the lovey-dovey one with dad and daughter holding hands. Or dreams by a window. They give me the spark of inspiration with which I need to start a post and the focus so that I don’t digress.

Sometimes, like the hadouken example above, the photo IS the post. On all other occasions, they embellish a post and help bring out the essence of the story.

I love taking shots of the kids outdoors and at play. It’s where they’re in their zone, and where I can feel comfortable running about in shorts and doing silly things like experimenting with angles, focus, lighting and so on. I also secretly love the green and blue backgrounds that come with those shots. Where there is sunlight highlighting the subject, all the better.

Here are some of my recent favourites, all instagrammed or picfx-ed.

JJ’s selfie, all joy at being able to hold the iphone and seeing himself on the screen.

a joyful boy

Happy boy at the top of the slide. Photo taken literally through a hole in the floor.

shining happy boy

Another variation of the hole-in-the-floor shot.

Just chillin’ (also the cover pic on my facebook page)

Defying gravity.

defying gravity

Like I said, I’m amateur-ish and there’s still lots to learn. Here are some of my inspirations: 6 tips for better instagram photos, scissorspaperstone for her photos of crafty and yummy things, and photographers like Project Alicia and Steph Tan.

I harbour a hope that one day I’ll make that leap into the DSLR world, and never look back, except to perhaps laugh at my own naivety at thinking the iphone was ever enough for me. (But hey it’s all about my own growth and development, so no judgment calls are being made here.)

If I may say so myself, I think I’ve grown in writing and photography in the past few months. I feel as if one passion feeds the other, and creates a giant snowball.

What do you love about photography and/or writing? Do you own a DSLR and why or why not?

Mummy? She blogs. (An interview with a toddler)

My blog turns 1 today! Yes, I have my first post to prove it.

To mark this special occasion, I have here an uncut interview with a very special guest. Yes, she’s my most loved daughter. The one and only. Vera.

Take it away, girl.

~~~

Interviewer: Why does your mummy blog?

Vera: Because she likes to write about me and di-di (little brother) lor. Di-di is very cute, he can’t talk yet, but he makes lots of noises and he likes to blow bubbles out of his mouth. Boootttttt boootttt…like this. I think she likes to write and share her thoughts…or maybe daddy and me don’t listen to her enough. We are always playing!

Interviewer (wiping saliva off her face): Do you know that your mum’s blog name was inspired by something you said about her wearing your papa’s shirt?

Vera: Izzzzzit? (clueless, starts to look around for a distraction.)

Interviewer: Ahem, moving along… Where does your mummy find time to blog? Isn’t she supposed to be busy working and looking after you kids?

Vera: Mummy plays with her phone all the time, so I think she uses her phone to blog.

Or maybe she blog secretly when di-di and I are sleeping…my mummy is so naughty, she’s supposed to sleep with me, but she goes to blog instead. So naughty one.

Interviewer: Okay…so you think your mummy is naughty.

Vera: Yes. So naughty. Vera is not naughty, I’m a good girl. I sleep at 8 and wake up at 7, mummy says I must sleep early every day.

Interviewer: So…do you wish that she spends less time on her blog and more time with you?

Vera: Noooo? I wish she will buy me more gummies and biscuits and sweets.

You want gummies? I ask her to give you…but you must be a good girl hah? Eat already must brush your teeth hah?

Interviewer: ???

Okay back to the topic. How do you feel about your mum sharing so much about you on her blog?

Vera: I like to see myself on the computer. I think I look very pretty.

Interviewer: Yes, you are quite sweet.

Vera: Noooo…I am not a sweet. I am preeetty. You want sweet is it?

Interviewer: Erm, no…never mind.

Vera: I think you need a sweet.

Interviewer: !!! I think I just need to lie down.

Vera: You want to sleep? Okay, lie down, I pat you okay? Softly okay?

Interviewer: …

~~~

And that was the end of a very short interview session with the lovely, almost famous, almost 3-year-old Vera. Thanks sweetie-pie for making this day so special for mama, and for being such a BIG inspiration to me. I mean it. It’s only because of the funny things that you do that life (and this blog) gets its colour.

 

2 babies and a blog

I’ve got two adorable babies – okay, to be exact, 1 toddler, 1 baby, and a hubby who sometimes acts like a baby.

And I’ve got a blog. Yes, the one that you’re reading right now.

This blog was born on 11 January 2011. Inspired by a simple strand of four words that sprouted from my then 2-year-old’s mouth. And as it approaches its 9-month birthday, I’m beginning to realise that there’s little difference between bringing up a blog and bringing up a baby.

The blog doesn’t poop, doesn’t cry, doesn’t need to be cuddled or rocked to sleep (it doesn’t sleep at all, in fact), so what the heck am I talking about?

It’s the sheer amount of effort required to upkeep a blog. The fresh milk of content that you need to keep feeding it. The creativity needed to clear its hiccups. And the pure passion to keep it alive even when you’re so zonked out.

Even when it throws up undigested bits of its last milk feed on your shirt…

Bringing up a blog is bloggy hard work.

You have to be willing to bare your soul to the world. It’s like baring your baby’s poop-clad bottom on youtube. And sometimes…sad to say, you’re the only one who loves viewing it.

And maybe your hubby.

And what happens when the kids grow up, and start questioning why you chose to broadcast their every move (and bowel movement) on the Internet…

You have to crack your head to think of fresh ideas, ideas that entertain, move, surprise, or delight your readers. You have to be original ALL the time. (And I’m actually quite amazed at the amount of interesting / provoking content that’s out there. Just waiting to be stumbled upon. Most inspired by the very mundane things that fill the lives of mums and dads.)

All this while having to run after an energizer-bunny-of-a-toddler and caring for a baby who pees/poops at will?

What I find most challenging is the push for popularity. I detest hard-selling (on a normal day), and suddenly I find myself bordering on shameless, asking friends and family to like my posts, and show their support for my new Facebook page. What’s with me??

Sometimes, I ask myself ‘what the hell am I doing?’ bringing up a blog, when there are real human lives to invest in, deadlines to meet, and endless washing of bottoms to do.

Then I get reminded of the original purpose of this blog, the one I wrote in the About me page –  I hope to share what I’ve learnt (and continue to learn) as a young working mum, and hopefully encourage and inspire other young mums out there.

Encourage and inspire. Parenthood is such a BIG thing. Make that a big and often lonely thing. Most days, I could sure do with a big dollop of encouragement and inspiration to keep going.

I realise I need to keep the faith – keep the candle burning – to stay true to myself and the things I’m passionate about. And hopefully, one day, the kids won’t mind seeing their lives splashed out in all their messy splendour.

Whether you LIKE it or not, I’m gonna keep having blogs. Though I can’t say the same about babies.

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