Since I cannot scope up much beauty for National Poetry Month in April, I decided to return to short stories in honour of the repeated tale that my late grandmother told me about her time in Sino-Japanese invasion.

Diaspora and art, just like boundaries and self-care, are incredibly hard to wrestle with – I want to share the powerful story that inspired my dad and me to preserve and explore our pasts and present (But he is on the public policy), yet to protect the authenticity  of this 5 minute tale that I heard countless times when I reluctantly showered.

I bet this must have changed when she retold this in her kind, gentle tone in her 70s.

It must have be different when she experienced it as a teenager – beautiful, gentle and yet plunged into this mess.

Yet she took it in stride and muted this frightening experience and transformed into loving kindness.

Perhaps, it was our unspoken culture of silence – you don’t express what you have been through, you just tuck it in and move on.

Be content with life, they said, to live is a blessing.

The same silence that come to haunt me and put me in bliss in my writer soul  – so easy to confuse it as abandonment because hugs are alien, and because I need this peaceful space to metamorphose my voice.

I could easily blame this on a culture – but then to look back at the 5000 years of history we had – it is those hard-working and courageous officials that push for innovation, and it is those hidden sages who hid to farm lands as their protest to corrupted government that left me with literary treasures.

And for my late grandmother – she left a box of loving kindness that I could always look back on.




For Lent – I did not set a specific target or fast but rather let God take the lead, and I felt he had reel me into the core of my fears and questions, from the continuous big questions to the anxiety attacks that surface.

Unlike the other half (who conducted a semi fast and claim that he would be even better when Ramadan arrives for him) who is more empathetic and worries over others, life pushes me to be more observant and at times, play various sides to tackle toxic religion or my own anxieties.

To confine myself to the Pandora’s box of worst case scenarios and realize that it wasn’t a death sentence

To surrender into that heightened state of anxiety that bursts a reflux or panic so I can unreel to the roots and kiss them with love

Of course, my anxiety and understanding of mental health are easier to grasp with my doctors monitoring me, as my reduced dosage meant all that plethora of feelings are coming back again. Once my creative mind attune to it, something beautiful will happen.

But toxic religion and the dysfunction within it is my lifelong question. I love the beauty from the wild, but I do miss the certainty that was once there. I remember how much shame and guilt there were when I first touched paths with Middle East/Islamic cultures, only to find they were the ones who took me in without conversion threats when the conservative Christian community had kicked me out.

But there are so many questions – to see the codependency within mosques/churches when to be accepted has a condition (you have to be one of them and be plugged into the system)

When I hear that a simple question about my scoliosis turned into a persuasion to go to a Christian healing room because through that, it could be heal. (I b elieve God heals, but to be ushered into a room to see guided visions or prayed for to correct this flaw is not what I wanted. when I have accepted my scoliosis)

To see friendship based on proselytism

There is so many stories and tales to ooze out of this, and so much dysfunction. While I am not the one to judge (that’s God, right?), I can only hope another drink of coffee or drop of mindfulness can unleash the love within.






Caretaking and codependency

This week, my counselor passed away. While we only met 3-4 times as I liken my meetings with her an annual mental checkup, I treasure the wisdom and advice she left me – the encouragement of individuality and our analysis of family’s codependency. She was a mirror that I will always remember.

It has been 4 years after we met and I first discovered about codependency.

I found myself often in burnouts as I try to problem-solve others’ issues, so much so that I introduced art and mindfulness meditation as prescriptions for calm, and spill a narrative to my love.

But as lent approaches I am reminded to surrender – so often, I am tempted to base peoples’ success on their job titles, and in turn, try to build my identity on what society perceives as success as words retreat into their abode to evolve and change.

Perhaps, I am impatient – when artistic inspiration does not come, I distract with another marker to consume time and almost went onto the painful trails of being the golden child in dysfunctional settings.

As I hear more vents, the more drugged I am with such emotions and unable to detach – my body warped this toxin into a ball of uncontrolled anger, raging fires from my tongue.

But Lent has been gentle – it has guided me to Melody Beattie’s Beyond Copendency, where she assured that my recovery path is not exactly a rising line, but one of twirls and twists that take us to a calm space of grace.

It has been 4 years of watching and probing the family change. It does pain to see resurfacing angers and tears, or how because of childhood hurts, boundaries are broken and relationships enmesh because of insecurity.

I know it is a gift and a curse to see people who has unconsciously try to enmesh others and have broken insecurities to look into their childhood wounds. It is a scary venture, but sometimes, healing comes when you step into that fear.

I know we can wail about family of origins again and again  – but while we are influenced and related to our family members – parents and siblings and relatives by blood – we are our own creations and that means we have the power to make ourselves unique.

My doctor reviewed that I need to get rid of my anxiety attack trigger and move forward to bringing myself to the state of fear of my first panic attack – and it is time to dive into it.


A year ago, I was diagnosed with panic attacks and anxiety when I was fired because of conflicting schedules. Like any illness, my first instinct was to eliminate this horrid virus that sweeps my body with waves of adrenaline and engulfs me with life-sized fear bubbles that sink me into a dark oblivion.

What medication did takes a lot of strength as my mind adjusts to this added boost of chemicals – I forgot how to plan, my radar for feelings and emotions become numb and every now and then, my mind shows me an image of broken glass, as if telling them that I it has been destroyed and overwhelmed by ripples of fear tearing my memories.

Then came my love-hate discussions with my therapist – the mindfulness meditation that tamed my multi-tasking brain into peaceful escapades, or the discussions on the what’s worst scenarios so I can self-talk

I thought this anxiety would eventually subside but it was triggered when I was editing another person’s resume. Perhaps, it was that ownership and inner hope that the other person succeeds that reminded me. Or perhaps, it was the barrage of events and appointments that were crammed in a week. It is not so scary as before with fear bubble bursting into the size of my stomach – but it took 4 days to recover.

To be in the uncertainty of refluxes.

Or to see my mind went on a blank, zoned out with caffeine.

Or just drown in sleep’s hiatus

Then I realize, anxiety will always be there as an emotion but I can master it to make it a rain party instead of a tsunami. That I am to love this emotion as it is a part of me – and if I were not to be nervous over piling work, that must mean I have some issues. And that I may as well treasure the blanks as my brain falls into a peaceful sleep to recharge and renew.

Here’s to another year of patience and strength


In the past 6 years with 3 First Aid, CPR and AED certifications – I have seen and treated cuts, directed children to hospital with blood on their heads.

Then, I stumble upon mental health – dysfunctional families, divorces, special needs and my own battle with anxiety.

But I never imagine I would have seen glimpses of CPR and AED performed in front of me.

Nor do I ever imagine assuring fellow young adult residents, emailing higher ed institutions and calling building management will be part of the package.

Throughout my Red Cross First Aid and CPR trainings, the most drastic I have seen would be children falling onto the ground playing soccer, somehow stumbled upon a tile and hit the spot that they needed stitches.

I am thankful to have a calm principal at that time who worked with me to get first aid equipment and called the parents and the ambulance. We had antiseptics and calmed the child. Parents are informed and all was well.

But this time it is about an adult. With a lot of alcohol involved.

I do not know the condition.

I only know said adult is intoxicated and after talking to the police on the phone about said adult being unresponsive they directed me to the ambulance. Within minutes, we were to give them privacy in this ad hoc rescue theatre.

Then..CPR commands..AED machine commands and off the adult went with the 5 paramedics.

I am thankful for paramedics to inform us and help, as with my own emergency room experience so I know what will go on. Then being so used to reassure fellow classmates and tiding loose ends, I explained the lingo of CPR/AED to concerned young adults, directed education institutions so they can provide the resources and now all left is my after shock.

My parents assure me I could have saved a life. I do not know. All I know is that I need a calming retreat and still remain thankful to Red Cross for all that training – from how to communicate clearly to police and paramedics, to knowing what happened with CPR – couldn’t have done it without these trainings.

Relapse and returns

My family broke into an argument. Perhaps, I have seen so much and became a skillful observer over the years that I became the counselor again as I talked out the ounces of unresolved anger, one-way apologies and analyzed shattered selves like second nature.

Codependency and lack of self-awareness are so common. Part of why I blog is because I wanted to heal toxic environments, and part of it is because as per my pact with my counselor that I will not go into clinical counseling for very good reasons, I need to ooze and discover myself in words.

As I heard about 2 funerals of family friends this month, I saw that codependency is a third disease that has as much impact – to affect and kill an individual, or to breathe life.

I have learned that there is such concept as legitimate anger – I don’t need to release anger by punching into pillows or ooze liquids. I only had to acknowledge that I have  right to be angry because of the scenario that happened and cast the brewing emotions back to where it belongs.

Throughout my teenage years, I craved for praise. I would hold back tears, get ankle socks and overdose myself with pre-Twilight fantasies to make myself feel special. But as I learn to embrace my sacred silence retreats of artistic creations, I saw I do not need praise personally (but professionally, I am still healing from anxiety). Dr Montessori’s teachings have worked on me after all and I will do all I can to be a skilled observer for my future child and motivate some intrinsic motivation.

After all, only ballet and words in their forms can let me reel into this sacred realm of self awareness.

To be.

To recover.

To see silence as a retreat – not rejection anymore..

The Morbid Box

I remembered once Nigella Lawson said she has stored her dark, sad memories in a box after the death of her husband. If so, let this blank template be my morbid box.

Criticism is always difficult to deal with, like a mischievous rattlesnake that comes by, rattling its melody that catches me off guard as it injects its poisonous virus into me.

And I will tell you, this warped virus already crept into my life since childhood.

Perhaps, I have the gifts that an empath brings, and it is oh-so easy to absorb others’ gnash of anger or sadness or frustration as they criticize, and I balloon their tales into my life. Perhaps, because my perception is built in a defense – criticism means I am not doing well – I must be horrible and have done something gravely wrong that cannot satisfy you – oh dear..

That was the perfectionist days when I played the golden child. With anxiety diagnosis, a gift that I lost was prioritizing. Instead, it turned reactionary in the twisted formula that I must try to complete everything to make it productive, and I do not know how to handle the tasks I have anymore.

But the criticism has not been dealt with. And the philosophy of simplicity is hard to embrace when ads bombard us with more is more. And I fell prey to the status game.

Of course, by then I have a two-headed snake to handle.

When I had a reminder email from work today – my morbid box exploded. I could not soothe myself. I was not strong enough.

But a conversation with my mother made me remember the source of it all – when my kindergarten teacher screamed at me for pouring a bottle of glue because the lid was congested, and made statements how all girls were supposed to be good at crafts with the exception of me who could not handle anything but make a mess of myself.

That hurt.

It made me felt how worthless I am, how I must have been terrible at crafts and to face glares of the class was daunting and humiliating.

The fear of crafts lasted a very long time. So did the twisted, warped snake of criticism.

My therapist has taught me to use legitimate anger which has solved half the puzzle, but this is the other half.

While I can always associate snake as a manipulative animal, it is created. I choose to nourish the snake and heal the hurting wounds as I partake in conversations to see different points of view, knowing that I am emotionally weak when faced with criticism.

It is just like faith that has no absolutes. How easy it would be if Christianity is simply a book of rights and wrongs. I was taught it was when I first converted. That aside from love, om it is obedience and perhaps to join this and do that. I won’t say the programs aren’t great, there are a lot of homeless and vulnerable who have been helped and loved. They are awesome people.

But when my questions about the controversial issues – the violent passages in the Bible, the interfaith relationships and homosexuality, or my lack of involvement arose – it was a closet departure from Evangelicalism. There were no absolutes anymore, because more praying and more plugging in do not work anymore. I left with questions. A lot of them. Many that I still try to tackle.

I had many of the experiences that Kathy Escobar detailed in her book “Faith Shift”, as did some of J.Dana Trent’s “The Saffron Cross”. I still have many questions just as I have lots of healing to do with facing criticism, but healing is like a cycle of faith, and it has enlightened me to see the need for self-care and reflection to fill my love tank.

My love has reminded me to embrace my imperfect self, and just as I try to nourish that snake and have conversations with the jungle, I hope you do too.



Life unravels in its unique ways and 7 months after my panic attack diagnosis, I still wrestle with triggers.

Often, I divert my fears and stresses to somewhere else, or as I like to reference PHD comics, when there is work, I manage by doing other multiple tasks.The perfectionist voice in me reminds me so very often of my self deadlines against everyone else’s, and push me to the brink of another anxious cycle as my stressor takes over and controls my thoughts as if it is a major sonata in my life.

I forgot to nourish myself. Exercises can become a routine and I miss the spontaneity of it. Window shopping does not excite me anymore as this fear gradually encroaches me in its mini crescendos.

There are words of encouragement from others but I am happy I made strides in taking ownership of that stress myself. After all, it is so easy to give love and care for others, so much so I neglect and drain myself of self-love. Perhaps, I was coached that way as I realize it was best to do so when I was raised in a game of walking on eggshells, and it reminds me of the gaping void that I neglect for so long.

Sometimes, it is hard to do so in faith. To trust. To believe that there is so much love from God but I trust that I am created for a reason. If there aren’t any empaths and artistic souls, then how would beauty and emotions construct their melody that are still remembered? How would my former students understand the potentials and gifts they bring with their creativity?

Or perhaps, I muse after seeing my ex boyfriend after 2 years. 2 years after breaking down with a sensitive scar of mine…the hurt and the fear swelled up. But thank you to the partner and the friends who understand my sensitivity, I manage. It was a nice reunion and new Toastmasters members have shine. One day, perhaps we can laugh more naturally but for now, my loving-kindness has extended has made quite a progress.

As a Native saying once said, we shall nourish love and care, I too hope I can reflect and care myself in this quest to recovery.


My private space

6 months and my scars are still there. Occasional panic attacks still come. The reflux is still there. I can tell you anxiety bubbles do visit once in a while.

But I have my therapist.

Meds have definitely numbed me for quite a bit in the beginning, but my transformed creative core still emerges with her full burst of whimsical musings. What had gone was the perfectionist aesthlete, and what emerged is the artist who sees creativity as an organic process.

Art is always organic.

I can put a template of fanciful words to pad and make it beautiful, but that what would it be if it cannot express or make meaning ? And it is this thin-skinned vulnerability and basket of tears that grant me the keys to breathe life to the canvas.

But my vulnerable self still needs work – to strengthen and see that i cannot satisfy everyone. To focus. To worry less and be more organic to myself.

To see that I need to care for myself.

To admit that there is still many scars, unresolved. Some have emerged into beautiful scabs, some are waiting to be told into a wash of tales.

To appreciate and capture the best of the many worlds that I can bask in – after all, I have the freedom to bask in endless musings and savour every move of a ballet pirouette; to see the ramadan prayers and their hopes, and to appreciate God’s love as I listen to another hymn. (Yes, somehow we make it work – I guess appreciating who we are as individuals rather than picking on theology made it work.)

And now, to give a lot of hugs to my inner child yearning for her share of Lawrence Harris art


Honouring what was

As I count down the days when I can see my therapist about how to nourish my fearful, abandoned side  with a lot of self-love and confidence, it reminded me of my love-hate-love relationship with words and life.

I started writing because I needed escape in a toxic environment. How I wish creativity evolves itself instead of going in and out of hiatuses, how I wish it would make it big at some point and how I wish we are always together.

But words and I need breaks from each other – not because we hate each other, but rather, to leave time to breathe and relish art and make new meaning again. Turn my near-perfectionism into roughened beauty. Relive the moments on tipsy curvy jump ropes of grammar. Criticize abstract art all over again and wonder when neo-abstract will ever start.

Because my computer gets tired of writing memoirs.

Because sometimes I sniff way too many scents and wonder how would it be when I experiment words with music.

Because my creativity is as versatile as it should be, taking healthy breaks here and there.

I wish it will always stay in the same state. But words tell me overtime that there are times when I get bored with it, need some healthy break before we play again, or just don’t have enough feelings to squeeze a drop of art.

And such is life.

I focused too much on being the model of perfection. I fear over uncertainties that I forgot my real self who have been dying to come out.

Anxiety numbed it. Pills made it difficult to be expressive. Planning was hard.

But what defines me is art, and if I don’t love myself, who would nourish that art, let alone use brushstrokes to nourish my dragon with fear and anxiety with my other dragon of love?