Saturday, 30 November 2013

The Journal

Of late, I have not been very active on this blog. I have alot on my plate , trying to juggle all the different areas of my life. It appears that I have fallen into the category of the  woman who tries to  keep everyone else happy and sometimes forgets about herself.

When I was young, I had this inner stirring to write. Though I considered applying to the Star newspaper for a job, I didnt have the confidence then, to do it. Now, many years later, I realise that  I hadn't listened to that intuitive call.

I had started keeping a journal even in my primary years. I wrote on pieces of paper, not knowing that it was called journalling. It seemed very natural then and served as an outlet to release my pentup emotions.  It was in my journal that I felt safe enough to voice my innermost thoughts and feelings about the perceived injustices and inequalities of my young life. Being born into a predominantly male family, you could say that I was already a feminist by age nine.

Journaling is a form of self therapy. Today, the journal is a tool recommended by many therapists and counsellors. There are even books on how to journal and the benefits of journalling.  A journal can help you figure out how you feel, what you think, what you need, what you want to say, how you want to handle a situation, just by writing it through.

You don't need to think of yourself as a writer or even like to write. What you can do is a kind of free writing or stream-of-consciousness writing. Choose a topic which you feel you need to express. If possible, set aside a time each day to write. Write without stopping. You needn't use full sentences. You needn't spell or punctuate properly. It can be in English or another language. It's not about trying to make sense to someone else. Rather it's a way to short-circuit some of your censors to get to what you need to say. 

Writing is therapeutic. It is a tool which we can use to heal ourselves. Through the years, I have written letters of closure to my late grandmother and even my pets. The best thing about it is that it is quiet, cheap and portable.  And if you regularly create a sacred space for introspection, you will be rewarded with many surprising insights through your writing.  I know I have.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Update on Percy Jackson

I applied for medical subsidy for the treatment of Percy. I am so grateful that there are organisations out there, which are dedicated to helping strays. With their support, rescuers are able to help more animals. Working alone, a rescuer's resources gradually run out.
Having gone through this experience with Percy, I can only take my hat off to animal rescuers, who are such dedicated and compassionate people. Frankly I admire them more than any corporate figure. Their tireless efforts toward reducing suffering deserve special mention and praise.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Introducing Perseus Jackson (Percy)



When I was 9 years old, I witnessed a pet dog being hit with a metal chain for barking. I was horrified and could only hold back my tears. I was terrified that if I spoke up, the metal chains would be used on me too.  The poor dog was yelping and howling in pain! That incident has been etched in my memory. It has probably spurred me to do what I can for the injured and defenceless animals I meet.  I don't think there is any justification for abuse of any kind. Bad! (Wags finger)
Introducing Perseus Jackson!  (Percy)
Green-grey eyes, blackish-gray fur, too big eyes, a stump for a leg, half a paw,  now healing paw and a single good leg.  Meows too much. Lounges on the sofa while papa (my hubby) isn't around.
My little furry friend is back after a month's stay at the vet. My daughter has named him Percy Jackson, after a fictional character and the hero of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. My daughter is a huge, huge fan of Rick's books.
Daughter -Percabeth!! To all fangirls out there.
I am somewhat relieved that Percy is back with me. He brings joy into the house! At least the boarding and dressing charges have stopped running. Most importantly, I'm happy with the progress little Percy has made. We've managed to save his hind leg, hurray!!! His hind leg still requires a daily change of dressing as the tissues are still raw. It will probably take about another month to completely heal. Only a month! Is that not good news? (trumpets blow)

Throughout this period, I've been in constant communication with the vet and his staff. I'm a regular visitor there, imposing myself on the vet even on public holidays, entering through the back door. I tried to make it a point to hold little Percy and put him on my lap for 10 to 15 minutes each time. I believe animals need to feel loved and cared for, just like we do. More so, a stray kitten.

Since he has only a stump and barely a paw for his front legs, he cannot be let out into the streets anymore. He wouldn't be able to survive. For the time being, he's become a member of my family. He is a special, special little kitten. A gentle and loving soul, a strong spirit and a true survivor. The vet and staff have all commended him on his gentle temperament. My daughter, too has commented that his eyes are like huge orbs of light. He has our love already.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Hope

After I posted the story of the stray kitten I rescued, readers have asked me what my decision was. I didn't write about it because I wanted readers to think about what they would have decided if they were in my shoes. 

I can actually see why many people would have passed the kitten by, some not noticing its injuries, others thinking they could not help and yet others would have thought that it is too much trouble and smelly handling a stray. It's not surprising as even vets felt that there are too many strays around and putting another injured one down isn't a bad choice. We make our judgements and decisions based on our life experiences and our values. Sometimes we get hardened by the sheer number of suffering animals we see.

I took the kitten to a third vet at the suggestion of my friend. This vet was more positive and said that the kitten's hind leg would heal. Its front left paw had already dried and dropped off  and the other paw was also partially torn off. Without any hesitation, I made arrangements to leave the kitten there for treatment. As its condition is rather serious, I felt it would get the best care with the vet. Since then, I have visited the kitten almost daily except for the days I was away attending a course. My daughter waited patiently with me for our kitten's turn as the change of wound dressing was slotted toward the end of the day.

As the bone of its hind leg was exposed, it would take some time for the wound tissue to granulate. Tissue granulation is a process by which fibrous tissue rich with blood capillaries replaces blood clots formed at the site of a healing wound. Through this process, healthy and normal skin is able to replace skin that was damaged. The tissue that forms over a wound during this process is called granulation tissue. 

After the first week, the vet noted that a few more bones were dislocated and moving. He suggested a surgical procedure to insert metal stents to keep the bones from moving. Otherwise, healing would be very slow or granulation may not happen. It underwent an operation a week ago. Please send love and healing to this little stray kitten. It has undergone so much in its young life. 

This picture was taken when I first brought it back

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Life and Hope

Last Saturday, as I was walking into a food court with my family for our evening meal, my daughter tugged my hand, "Mom, poor thing!" pointing in the direction of a little kitten. It was meowing very loudly. I noticed that one of its paws was twice the normal size. My daughter urged me to take it home but I told her to wait till after our dinner. "If it is still here then, we will consider" I said.

After dinner, it was still in the same spot meowing very loudly. My husband told me it was very badly injured. Its front paw was broken and dangling. To me then, there was no question. It needed medical care and without a second thought, we brought it home, in a big plastic bag.

The next day, we brought it to our usual vet. She appeared a bit taken aback at the condition of kitty. All three legs were injured. The hanging paw had dropped off by then. The bone on its hind leg was exposed. Even its tail was broken. She was deliberating what to do.  Her opinion was that though there is hope that the leg would heal, she could not be certain. Alot of time and cost would be involved. She said that if it were her, she would put kitty to sleep. 

With a heavy heart, I went home. I then checked out the funding available from animal  organisations. My friend who is an independent dog rescuer, suggested that I seek the opinions of other vets. The second vet I went to said there is a small chance of recovery but questioned whether I want to put in the time and money on that little hope. He suggested that I put the kitty to sleep. He asked me if I was willing to take care of a paralysed cat round the clock, if it did not work out.

I was very troubled that night.  I thought through the various reasons commonly given for euthanasia. In this case, we make the decision for the animal. Is animal life less precious and more dispensable than human life? Is it selfish to allow an animal to suffer a long and painful death? What possible reasons can justify such a decision? Is it to avoid creating bad karma for ourselves? Or is it that we do not want the suffering of having to take care of the animal?  Is it  just to reduce its suffering or my suffering? I think it is both. Is it really more compassionate to put an animal to sleep  to reduce its suffering? 

If it were you, would you choose to ignore the injured animal and leave it to die? Or would you take it home and put it to sleep? Would you take care of a paralysed cat, feeding it, cleaning its poo and pee, blow drying its backside for its entire life? Which would you choose?

Principles and ideals are all very good, till it happens to us. It is then, that we take a long, hard look at ourselves and what our values really stand for, especially when things become an inconvenience for us.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Are Your Thoughts You?


It has been awhile since I last posted on this blog. I have been busy, exploring and seeking to understand my world and myself. Unlike some of my spiritual friends, I am still searching. I have often wondered too, whether blogging is a bit of an egoistic activity. Does putting down my thoughts about life and posting it  reek of  self-importance?

Thoughts lead to feelings, feelings to actions and actions create our life experiences.  We attach so much meaning and importance to our thoughts. We believe and trust our thoughts implicitly, without question. We allow our thoughts to define us and who we are. We also allow those thoughts to dictate our lives.

What we think of, and how we think has so much impact on our happiness. It really isn't the things around us that stresses us. It is our thoughts about those things that stresses us. We get so caught up in the stories which we tell ourselves and then, feeling all the emotions that come up with it. Thus, engaging in those thoughts with will affect us one way or another.

We listen to horror stories in our heads. We tell ourselves the same old story again and again and playing the same record for years. If you were rejected as a child, the painful experience could have left you with a fear of rejection. Look closely and see if you have been replaying and literally hypnotising yourself with fearful thoughts of rejection since then? The point of it is that those thoughts are not real. But when we engage with it, those thoughts produce emotions and we act on those emotions. We then make it real.

It is not just about thinking positive. We try to think positively for a day or two or even three. Then, we fall back into our old ways. The thing is to allow those thoughts to clear. Watch those thoughts pass away and not react to them. Sounds easy? Try practising for 5 minutes daily, just watching your thoughts pass by and take notice. Learn about your self and what you actually think about when you are not looking!  Are we really who we think we are, in our heads or are we much more?



Wednesday, 19 June 2013

The Log in Your Eye

I celebrated my birthday this week. It was a day of many lessons. I had an appointment that morning but because of a wrong left turn, I ended up missing my appointment. Instead I spent the next two hours driving along unfamiliar roads. I was relieved when I finally made it back to my sanctuary, my home.

That evening, when I picked my daughter from school, I was greeted by a tearful girl. My daughter had signed up for a culinary arts competition in school with her best friend. Due to circumstances which could not be worked out, both parties agreed to drop out of the competition.  However, both parties were terribly disappointed and as a result. started to blame one another. It was not healthy but not unexpected. Their friendship has been affected. I felt that they had to learn to cope with their disappointment and learn from this incident. However, what was totally unexpected was that  a mother had  joined the blame game.

I was shocked at the turn of events. As a parent, we act as  guides and advisors  for our children, We are there to lend support and provide resources for them to bloom to their full potential, During the school going years, they will meet many new friends who will go in and out of their lives. Some of the best friendships are made in school but not all friendships will last. Friends too will have their disagreements. It is all a part of growing up and learning how to relate with one another.

Therefore, I was dismayed that a parent had jumped right into the fray to say some very disparaging things about both my daughter and myself. Those scathing and hurtful words, as expected, came back to my daughter's ears and I could see that she was deeply hurt. As parents, we have to remember too, to keep within our boundaries. We have to respect our children and other children's decisions and privacy too.. Before interfering in our children's relationships, ask first what our true intentions are. Will our actions benefit our children? Or will our need to justify, blame and be "right" cause more problems for those we profess to love?  How can blaming others possibly bring about more peace and harmony in everyone's lives?.

Words, words, words. We use them so loosely but forget that they are as sharp as knives. If you can see psychically the impact of words on the aura of a person, you can actually see people sending daggers or knives to one another. They cut and hurt deeply.

I regret how juvenile we adults can become. As adults, we are role models to all children, whether or not they are our own. It also matters not how many times one professes to be "religious". The real test is in the way one carries oneself and the words that comes out of one's mouth. To quote a Bible verse "a good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of". "First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye".

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Mind over Healing


I shall share what I learned from listening to David Hamilton, Ph.D this week. He is the best selling author of the book, "How Your Mind Can Heal Your Body." He leads workshops to help people understand the link between their minds, their health and their lives. The power of the mind and positive thinking can actually bring about physiological changes in the body, through visualization, belief, and affirmations to heal. How do thoughts and visualisation affect the neurosystem and our brain?

As we imagine something over and over again, we start to cause changes to the physical structure of the brain. In a research, volunteers were asked to play a simple combination of notes on the piano with all five fingers daily for 2 hours. Their brains were scanned daily and scientists found that the area of the brain connected to the finger muscles had grown in size. The brain actually generated  hundreds of neurons. but not only that, genes were being turned on and started changing.  To study the effects of visualisation, another group was asked to visualise that they were playing the piano notes for 2 hours daily. At the end of  5 days, a brain scan showed that the brain had changed in identical ways. In many ways, the brain does not distinguish whether something is really happening or it is just an imagination.

He believes that the power of visualisation can be used to heal, provided that it is done properly. An example is the visualisation of tumours shrinking. However, it has to be visualised in great detail, thus taking time and must be done consistently everyday.

In another study, 150 married couples were asked to talk about a topic of their choice for 15 minutes  From their interaction, couples were grouped into those who were hostile, aggresive and those who were more compassionate to one another. What they found was that the hostile group had more cases of heart disease whilst the other compassionate group had healthy arteries. The difference was the way they treated each other. He said that hundreds of genes are turned on by the way we treat people.

When two people are interacting, their emotions and body language has an effect on each other. The phrase “emotional contagion” embodies the idea that humans will synchronize their personal emotions with the emotions expressed by those around them, whether consciously or unconsciously, and thus that an emotion conveyed by one person will become “contagious” to others. In the presence of a happy person, others around them become happier. This unfortunately applies to negative emotions as well. Gentleness and compassion can protect ourselves.

It is indeed true that the people we spend our time with are very important. They not only have great influence on our thoughts. They also have great impact on our health.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Dying to Be Me

 
I have been spending  some time listening to many world-renowned experts from the personal growth field sharing the practical, applicable ways in which they incorporate their teachings in their own lives. Topics range from health, diets, womanhood, happiness and success, the spiritual realm, past lives and so on..  I shall write on some of these speakers whose work have benefited millions of people. 



One such speaker whom I find so very inspiring  is Anita Moorjani. Her story is not new to many. Anita was diagnosed with end stage cancer (Hodgkin's Lymphoma) in April 2002.  On 2 February 2006, she fell into a coma. Her body was ravaged with cancer when she arrived at the hospital. Doctors said that her organs were shutting down and gave her hours to live. However, she went through a NDE or near death experience but made a choice to  come back.I chose to come back into physical when I understood that ‘heaven’ is a state, not a place.Anita Moorjani

She is now a famous speaker and author of the best seller, "Dying To Be Me." She has been sharing her fascinating life story and the many insights she gained when she went to the other realm.  "I realized what a gift life was, and that I was surrounded by loving spiritual beings, who were always around me even when I did not know it. I understand how illnesses start on an energetic level before they become physical. I then understood that when people have medical treatments for illnesses, it rids the illness only from their body but not from their energy so the illness returns. Everything going on in our lives was dependant on this energy around us, created by us. Nothing was real – we created our surroundings, our conditions, etc. depending where this “energy” was at."

"After what I have seen, I realize that absolutely anything is possible, and that we did not come here to suffer. Life is supposed to be great, and we are very, very loved. The way I look at life has changed dramatically, and I am so glad to have been given a second chance to experience “heaven on earth. Miracles are possible in your life every day."

What was her most meaningful lesson? "The most meaningful lesson I learned from being at death’s door is that unless I love myself, nothing else in my life can function at its best. The amount of depth, meaning, and joy I experience in my life is in direct proportion to how much love I have for myself. The amount of love, kindness, patience I have for others is also directly proportional to how much love, patience and kindness I have for myself, because we cannot give others what we ourselves do not have."

I resonate so much with what she said. That life is indeed a gift.  We create so much of our own unhappiness due to a lack of love. And it starts from a  lack of love for ourselves. If we do not know how to love and honour ourselves, how then can we genuinely love and honour others?.

We sometimes confuse narcissism with self-love so we hold ourselves at arms length. There is a big difference between the two. The energy of narcissim is one of fear. It is closed and contracting, wanting to keep everything for ourselves. It is about "me, me and me."  Self love is expansive, open and inclusive of others.  That is the energy of love. It is like a cup of love which overflows.

We are meant to be amazing, magnificent, loving beings but we have forgotten who we are. However, we do not necessarily need to go through a near death experience to realise that. The love is right there in our hearts already. We just need to open our hearts and tap into it.




Friday, 31 May 2013

Move Forward

 
I have been busy lately. Last weekend, I attended a Family Constellation workshop. It was very good. I learned alot about family order and family systems.  I found it enlightening and interesting.

If we keep an open mind, we open ourselves to so many learning opportunities.  There are many new courses and experiences which come our way.  If we resonate with them, make the time and effort to  learn. The limits we face in life are limits which we place on ourselves. We give ourselves many reasons not to do what we know, would be good for our growth. Louise Hay, the famous motivational author took up ballroom dancing at 75 years of age and the piano, at 86.

I realised during the course that the obstacles which we face in healing our relationships and in forgiveness can be attributed so much to being judgmental and "wanting to be right"  In our need to be right, we forget that others, whoever they maybe, our parents, siblings or friends are just doing the best they can.   As Louise Hay said, we live in a prison of self righteous resentment.

In many instances, people  are just doing the best they can, with the understanding and awareness that they had. They were unable to give more because they did not have more to give. It is not something we like to hear nor accept. Not when we have unmet needs which look to be fulfilled by others. We have to learn how to meet those needs ourselves. Take that responsibility rather than stay stuck, holding on to expectations which may never be met. We are also just doing the best we can. That is the reality and reality is always sobering.
 Have a great weekend!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Happy Wesak!


Photo: Don't forget to register friends for this Fridays workshop: http://wkupuk.org/events/bristol-workshop/

What makes a person a  Buddhist? Does knowing the sutras by heart, participating in Buddhist activities at your local Buddhist centre such as attending Sunday School or volunteering there make you a Buddhist? What is enlightenment? It sounds so unattainable. Today, I shall share with you Thich Nhat Hanh's words.

 "A person may not be called a Buddhist, but he can be more Buddhist than a person who is. Buddhism is made of mindfulness, concentration, and insight. If you have these things, you are a Buddhist. If you don’t, you aren’t a Buddhist. When you look at a person and you see that she is mindful, she is compassionate, she is understanding, and she has insight, then you know that she is a Buddhist. But even if she’s a nun and she does not have these energies and qualities, she has only the appearance of a Buddhist, not the content of a Buddhist".

Happiness and enlightenment are living things and they can grow. It is possible to feed them every day. If you don't feed your enlightenment, your enlightenment will die. If you don't feed your happiness, your happiness will die. If you don't feed your love, your love will die. If you continue to feed your anger, your hatred, your fear, they will grow. The Buddha said that nothing can survive without food. That applies to enlightenment, to happiness, to sorrow, to suffering.

First of all, enlightenment is enlightenment about something. Suppose you are drinking some tea and you are aware that you are drinking some tea. That kind of mindfulness of drinking is a form of enlightenment. There have been many times that you've been drinking but you didn't know it, because you are absorbed in worries. So mindfulness of drinking is already one kind of enlightenment.

Small enlightenments have to succeed each other. And they have to be fed all the time, in order for a great enlightenment to be possible. So a moment of living in mindfulness is already a moment of enlightenment. If you train yourself to live in such a way, happiness and enlightenment will continue to grow.

Insight is also enlightenment. To be aware that you are still alive, that you are walking on this beautiful planet—that is a form of enlightenment. That does not come just by itself. You have to be mindful in order to enjoy every step. And again, you have to preserve that enlightenment in order for happiness to continue. If you walk like someone who is running, happiness will stop."

As with everything else we learn, knowing intellectually is easy but commitment to practise is not. Living out the heart of the Buddha's teachings and using it to transform our thoughts and minds. Changing our lives for the better is what it is all about.  And today, I have to remind myself once again to practise. practise, practise.  Happy Wesak!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Family Constellations

 

Have you tried Family Constellaton therapy? Bert Hellinger, a German psychotherapist and former priest developed Family Constellation work in the 80s. During his work with groups he noticed that unconscious Trans-Generational family bonds have a major impact on the current family system. Certain ancestral patterns are carried through many generations.
Many of us unconsciously identify with the emotions and traumas of other family members especially our parents as a way of belonging. Examples of such destructive familial patterns are anxiety, depression, anger, guilt, solitude, alcoholism and even illnesses. Such entanglements can lead to anger, frustration, depression and therefore to an unfulfilled life.

Family Constellations is very often called Trans-Generational Healing because it has a positive influence on many generations of the family system. It is said to have the power to shift generations of suffering and unhappiness. It is most effective in issues that appear to be systemic in nature. If one has already tried therapy but is unable to resolve the issue it could be that the issue is systemic, a pattern or entanglement coming from the family of origin,
The Family Constellation view, is that each person has soul or life force energy and is also part of the collective soul or life force energy of the family group. This means that each member within a family group has an effect on the other members in the group, via the genetic trail or soul energy by which they are linked. Newer members of the family can be greatly affected by what has gone before them in previous generations. Some event or situation may have taken place several generations before one's birth, that was perhaps not accepted or acknowledged by the family in general. This will usually manifest as guilt or shame by the “greater soul” or life force of the family group. The guilt or shame is taken on by individuals in later generations. This is done in an unconscious attempt to relieve the burden from the rest of the family and may result in such things as a range of mental and, physical illnesses, suicide, or addiction or disturbed relationships patterns.

The purpose of Family Constellations is to uncover the hidden dynamics of the family or relationship in an experiential way. Family Constellations can be enlightening when it comes to the search for the real root cause and may remove blockages in the family system which are causing disharmony.

It allows us to break these patterns so that we can live healthier, happier, more fulfilled lives. In a moment of insight, a new life course can be set in motion. The results can be life-changing!

Friday, 17 May 2013

My Sweet Oreo

"I believe that animals are on the planet so that we can know love and compassion. We are profoundly connected to our pets more than we are usually aware of " - Louise Hay

Dear Sze,

I decided to reply to your question about Oreo here instead of the Mothers Day post because it is a long story. I still find it hard to talk about Oreo's death, partly because of the way she died and partly because I felt responsible. She died in an accident when she tried to jump over the fence again when we were out during Chinese New Year. Previously when she jumped over the fence, she was injured. This time, it was fatal.

She had developed a phobia for rain and thunder, right after being neutered. The vet thought it was a coincidence, but I feel there is a link. We have had her for one and half years and never had this problem. It seems that neutering does result in behavioural changes in some dogs but in Oreo's case, it was extreme.


I constantly worried about her whenever I was at work or out with the family. Everytime the sky turned dark, the worries would start. When it rained at night, we would hear her howling. My husband would get up and soothe her. I consulted friends and vets but I could not find a solution. 

In order to protect her, I had to resort to keeping her in her cage when we were out. However, I knew she was miserable being caged. I felt really bad and stressed out during this period. I did not like to cage her. On the day she died, I wanted her to have some freedom to run around, not knowing it would have tragic consequences. I hurried home but it was too late. It hadn't even started raining yet but she had already started freaking out. She died on the fence.

I have gone over this episode many times, again and again, feeling responsible.  Could I have prevented it? If I had allowed her into the house, maybe she wouldn't have died...I don't have the answers. My Buddhist friends attribute it to karma. 

Whatever it is, one thing is for certain, with the benefit of hindsight, it is easy to think of the "what ifs" and what might have beens" If I had the benefit of hindsight, I  never would have wanted her to suffer, not for a minute. It was  painful to think of her difficult death. Thus, it made it all the harder to get over it. I  am after all her fur mama. And she was my fur baby. I will always love her.

It is hard to watch others suffer, especially loved ones and those we seek to protect. However, Oreo's death has been an awakening. Her presence in my life has been a gift.  It is a lesson that I am still learning.
 It is, to not blame myself for things which I cannot control.
 It is, to be kinder to myself.
 It is, to accept that I make mistakes and that I am not perfect.

We conducted a Buddhist funeral for her and chanted prayers for her. May she be in a better place free from suffering and fear. May she know that she is much loved.

Regards,
CF

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

CA Care - Herbal Cancer Therapy

"The standard recipe of present day cancer treatments comes in  different combinations of surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and oral drugs of some sort. This is sometimes referred to as slash, poison and burn method of treatment. Many people say the treatment is worse than the disease and many patients died because of the treatment rather than their cancer. Some authors even went to the extent of saying that present day cancer treatment with highly toxic drugs is crude and is probably the most barbaric in modern medicine. 
Those who have undergone these treatments may understand what I am saying. Those who have not undergone them yet may not but the observant ones may have heard or learnt about it from the
experiences of others. These patients now want to know if there is another option for them. My answer is: Yes, there is another option."  (from the flyer of "Cancer. What now? Is there another option?'')
 
Last Saturday, I joined my friend, Khadijah for a talk by CA Care founder, Dr Chris Teo. The 2 hour talk titled "Cancer, What now? Is there another option?" was aimed at giving people diagnosed with cancer an alternative to mainstream medicine.  With us, was a friend who was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 years ago. After her surgery (but no chemotherapy) she went to see Dr Teo and took his herbs. She is looking good today.
 
Khadijah and her husband, Yeong have been taking care of CA Care Central Region for many years. As Dr Teo is based in Penang, cancer patients can get their supply of herbs from Khadijah and Yeong. They are a lovely couple, who provide consultations from their home in Subang Jaya. I first met them through my Qigong center many years ago. Later, I learned that my late friend, Chang went to them when he was trying out the herbs from CA Care.

Dr Teo was formerly a professor of botany in Universiti Sains Malaysia. He has written many research papers and more than a dozen books. He started CA Care with his wife, Ch'ng Beng Im in 1995, after helping a patient, Benedict Yeoh with liver cancer, A week later, Ben brought Vijay who had lung cancer, From that humble beginning, CA Care was born as word spread.

Dr Teo prescribes a variety of capsules and teas for the different cancers. Even people without cancer can benefit from consuming his herbs as there are teas that help with stomach discomfort, pain teas and ascites tea to help with fluid retention. 


Apart from consuming his herbs, it is also mandatory to change one's lifestyle and eating habits. Foods to avoid are all kinds of meat, dairy products, white sugar, table salt and oil (except coconut or olive oil). Mrs Teo has also written a book on healthy recipes.
His prescription to healing is as follows:-
1. Give total commitment to healing
2. Seek proper medical help
3. Take herbs
4. Eat rightly
5. Lead a happy, stress free life


I find Dr Teo to be straight talking and hard hitting.   This remains a controversial topic and not many may agree with him. To find out more about Dr Chris Teo's healing therapy and his success stories, you may visit his website at http://cacare.com/content/view/20/41/.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Happy Mother's Day


It is Mother's Day today. I would like to wish all mothers a happy and relaxing day.  I hope you take time off  to show some love to yourselves today!

 
A fellow mother said. "It is always me last." I think what some mothers want most is to have some time off for themselves and  to be feted and pampered. As a mother myself, I feel that because of society's expectations as well as from our family upbringing, women have been taught from young to put others first.

The modern mother has multiple roles to play, a mother, a career woman, a wife, a home manager, transporter and cook. There is little time at the end of the day for themselves. Even on occasions when they do take time off, it is not without the tinge of guilt. There are regular checks and smses to make sure everything is alright at the home front.  Women are sometimes also their own worst enemies. Mothers-in-law criticising their daughters-in-law. Instead of supporting each other, they judge another woman harshly for not meeting their own expectations.

Is this a case of  the mother not being able to let go or is it her husband and children's dependency? Only the individual woman herself would know the answer. The phrase "Don't sweat the small stuff" is so true. Our families will not starve in our absence. They have to learn to take care of themselves eventually. And it is important that they understand this so that mothers can get time off to re-charge their batteries and stay healthy. If one family member is down, the entire family is affected.


The mother’s worth as a role model and guardian is indisputable. Good mothers are like gardeners that grow the beautiful fragrant flowers and most luscious fruits. Great men and women in all fields of society are created, molded and inspired by their mothers.

All too often, mothers forget their contribution and worth in this increasingly materialistic society. Due to increasing pressures, mothers have had to hand over the physical care of their children to maids and babysitters. Because the mother plays a crucial role in nurturing the character of the child as well being the main source of emotional nourishment, it would be too simplistic to say that the mother's role can be substituted. A friend who does not bring her baby home from the babysitter's said that her child would not know the difference. I beg to differ.

Friday, 10 May 2013

Towards a Better Tomorrow

 
(picture by popular Malaysian cartoonist, Lat)

The recent elections and its aftermath has affected our lives so much that it is hard not to write about it.  The information shared on the social media, videos, pictures and stories are powerful. Though the election results have not resulted in a change in the governance of this country, it has left a deep and significant impact on many. It is believed that  human beings have a sense of fairness, a characteristic that research increasingly shows is an innate part of human morality. In these elections, people feel their rights have been violated, thus the outpouring of emotion.

Someone shared that "There is no need for revenge, sit back and wait, karma or God will be just." Indeed, life works itself out. It is part of a political game.There is no need to get personal. Why not use our energy positively rather than plot vengeance?  We  just care for this country and want it to be what it can be,  harmonious and fair with  minimal corruption 

We have to recognise politics for what it is.  Politics are the strategies employed to accomplish certain goals. It is the venue by which laws are created that effect so many lives. Being politically aware will protect us from being mindless sheep herded by their masters. We can learn to question, and see through the personal agendas of politicians. 

The race card is just another old political ploy, rehashed time and again. Because race and religion are such deeply personal issues, human beings get emotional and as a result, fail to see beyond their emotions.  Deep resentment and even wars have been started because of this. But have we asked ourselves this question before we react? What is the political agenda here? What does it serve them?  

Does a father who truly loves his children strive to breed harmony or does he divide them for his sake? Like a growing child, we have to find our own identity as a people and not what has been told to us. Who are we? Are we Malays, Chinese, Indians or are we Malaysians? Are we willing to walk the talk?

As a country, there are parts which are ready and hankering for change in the urban areas. There are also other parts in the rural areas which are lagging behind. Are the events in the past week part and parcel of the teething pains on the road to a more matured nation? Is it the political awakening of this country? Who will do the hard work of reaching out to the parts which are lagging behind? Will we eventually all come together as a whole to change for the better? I certainly hope we find the answers.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

GE 13 Blackout Sunday

              (picture  courtesy of a friend's friend from Hong Kong shared on Facebook)

Today is the day many Malaysians have been waiting for. The day is finally here. We cannot wait to  speak our minds. And our vote can do just that, or so we thought.. My family were up early as we were anticipating a long queue. And indeed, there was already a long one when I arrived at the polling station. 

As opposed to previous elections, I can sense a difference in the air this time around. People were enthusiastic and eager to do their bit.  The urban voting crowd is today more aware than a few years ago. They were armed with the latest information and a number had printed out their voting details prior to coming. 

In the queue with me was a lady who had flown in from Shanghai  just to cast her vote. She said she is back to vote, for change. My parents, too, though both frail went to vote. My father, in a wheelchair and my mother, walked with support. I am proud of my parents, especially my father because he went in good spirits when he could easily have given excuses. I wish that more and more people will realise the importance of their vote and what it means. It is not just a cross on a sheet of paper. A single vote could actually change the political landscape of the entire country.

I stayed up to wait for the elections results. All I can say is that I am very disturbed, angry and  saddened by the stories I hear. Alleged stories of tension in certain areas because extra ballot boxes were brought in after unofficial victory for the opposition. Extra ballot boxes suddenly appearing after a sudden blackout which changed the results.What is the truth?

We are a country of many races, wanting to live together in harmony. We all just want to live happily in a safe environment. What use is it to have a nation achieve "developed" status, Vision 2020 etc? All the infrastructure and technology is nothing if we lose our integrity as a nation.

The world has been watching us. The day started out with promise but ended with great sadness and anger for many. Many expressed that they have lost faith in the system and lost their true voices. I hope that as a nation we can learn and heal from this. That we can move on without blaming one another. Let not race nor religion be used as a distraction to divide us, for the sake of this beautiful nation.

Watch this magical blackout video that has gone viral http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9yYRW9mt1AE

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Our Precious Health



I used to be a purist,  having much faith in alternative medicine. The stories of Louise Hay, Professor Lai Chiu-Nan, Ann Wigmore, to name a few, are almost miraculous. These are people with success stories to tell, using purely the holistic approach. However, after following the experiences of my terminally ill friends, I must admit that alternative therapies have lost their lustre somewhat. How many ordinary people out there have met such success?  How many can successfully shrink a growth or tumour? I am not putting a damper on those following the holistic approach. Neither am I advocating only Western medicine.

I don't believe healing from chronic diseases is as straightforward as changing one's diet alone. Nor is it about going through the list of alternative therapies available and trying them out one after another. Healing is more complex than that. One has to find the root cause of one's disease in order to have a good success rate in healing. One also has to have alot of patience as well as diligence. A great deal of effort is needed. And many a time, it demands change. Change in eating habits, lifestyle, mental  and emotional patterns. At a time when a person is down with a sickness, how much willpower and stamina does one have to do so much?

It makes sense, then, to learn healthy living habits and to teach our children to do the same. Healthy living includes not only eating correctly but being able to connect with what is going on within us, in our minds. Knowing how to manage life and our expectations. Knowing how to manage our emotions.

As human beings, there is a tendency to take things for granted. It sometimes take many knocks for us to realise this. We neglect our precious health in our youth and treat our bodies like machines, for a variety of reasons like earning money, etc. In our later years, we spend the same hard earned money trying to heal. Where does that get us? It may not seem seem very wise but that is what it takes for us to learn sometimes, through pain. But is it really necessary to walk that path?

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Unconditional Positive Regard

Today's post was contributed by Dr Chong, a family physician who uses unconditional positive regard with her patients. She is a caring and compassionate person who has helped many cancer patients. I wish to thank her for sharing this article with us.

Unconditional positive regard is a term made popular by Carl Rogers. It is basic acceptance and support of a person regardless of what the person says or does. This type of communication is essential to healthy development. People who have not been exposed to it may come to see themselves in the negative ways that others have made them feel. Through this therapy patients eventually accept and take responsibility for themselves. By showing my patients unconditional positive regard and acceptance, I am providing the best possible conditions for my patients' personal growth.

 David G. Myers says the following in his Psychology: Eighth Edition in Modules:
People also nurture our growth by being accepting—by offering us what Rogers called unconditional positive regard. This is an attitude of grace, an attitude that values us even knowing our failings. It is a profound relief to drop our pretenses, confess our worst feelings, and discover that we are still accepted. In a good marriage, a close family, or an intimate friendship, we are free to be spontaneous without fearing the loss of others' esteem.
Unconditional positive regard can be facilitated by keeping in mind Carl Rogers' belief that all people have the internal resources required for personal growth. Rogers' theory encouraged other psychiatrists to suspend judgement, and to listen to a person with an attitude that the patient has within himself the ability to change, without actually changing who he is.
The concept of unconditional positive regard also has a simpler meaning outside of the therapist's goal to elicit change. It is the simple act of one individual accepting all traits and behaviors in another individual, as long as is it does not entail causing significant harm to oneself. The key word here is "significant". If one states that "This person's behavior annoys me, and thus is causing me 'significant' harm", then unconditional positive regard is made subject to so many objections that it cannot exist. Thus, finding a person's behavior/beliefs reprehensible when they pose no threat of harm to oneself or others, is incompatible with unconditional positive regard. To treat a flawed individual's otherwise harmless behavior or beliefs as cause to reject the individual's worth, morality and right to merit interaction with oneself, is a violation of the unconditional precept.

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Holistic Way


I have always had an interest in healing. Besides, diet and nutrition, I have special interest in the healing of the mind and emotions. As we are body, mind and spirit, I believe healing should encompass all three aspects because of their interconnectedness. The role of emotions and its effect on our health, for example, is an interesting area to look into. Along the way, to deepen my knowledge in this interesting area, I read books, follow my friends' journeys as well as enrol in courses on healing, when my schedule permits.

The area of alternative medicine is often said to be lacking in scientific backing. There are many claims and testimonies of people being healed from various therapies, some very costly. Generally, people find it easier to trust the advice of doctors who have been trained in mainstream Western medicine. The purists, i.e those who rely fully on alternative medicine are a minority.  Most people would use alternative medicine as a complementary therapy.

It was in 2006 that I learned that one of my friends had her spleen removed due to a rare blood condition.  After the surgery, she tried to heal herself by following a strict organic vegetarian diet recommended by a famous Taiwanese health expert. The diet consisted of soup, salad, steamed vegetables, brown rice and sweet potatoes. She was very disciplined and positive throughout. However, she wanted more from her life and decided to undergo a bone marrow transplant. She succumbed to complications as a result of her body's rejection of the transplant. My group of friends and I were deeply saddened by her passing. 

Many readers here would also remember Chang, a friend who left us last September. On diagnosis, his doctor said that the cancer was already too advanced for chemotherapy to be of benefit. He said that he was stumped initially, not knowing what to do next. He was inundated with emails and suggestions until he came upon the Gersons Therapy.  Like many, I followed his journey from reading his blog. I was intrigued by the many therapies he tried. Because he was seeking different views, we would sometimes discuss his therapies.

When Chang first started out, he adhered closely to what he called the modified Gersons Therapy (because he could not get the full set of supplements here in Malaysia, then). However, over time, he too started to use oral chemotherapy drugs. He commented, on hindsight, that he should not have been so naive, i.e. he should have combined conventional  drugs wth his alternative therapies much earlier on. At one time, he also described himself as being very comfortable with reading scientific papers but lost when it came to emotions.

After Chang's death, I  wrote to his doctor, Dr Chong, whom he consulted for hypnotherapy services, to contribute an article to his blog. I shall post the article on this blog and hope that it will benefit those who are seeking to complement their healing. I will share her article in the next post. 

Friday, 19 April 2013

Going Home (End of Life Series)

 

I would like to to thank readers who have written to me here on this blog as well as emailed me recently about my father's condition. He is at home, recuperating. I was happy when my mother told me that he likes my little massages. We are trying to support him, to the best of our capability, as his children.

Ultimately, everyone of us, man or woman walk alone on our journey home. However, this journey can be made more meaningful. if we can also provide support, love and comfort during the transition. Paul McCartney was present with his children when his wife, Linda McCartney passed away after a battle with breast cancer. "The kids and I were there when she crossed over. They each were able to tell her how much they loved her. Finally, I said to her: ''You're up on your beautiful Appaloosa stallion. It's a fine spring day. We're riding through the woods. The bluebells are all out, and the sky is clear blue.'' I had barely got to the end of the sentence, when she closed her eyes, and gently slipped away.

I think most of us would want to die, surrounded by loved ones and familiar faces, if possible. If we can share our lives, why not share the final lap together also?  I would like to pray for the good health of everyone on this planet.. I pray also for all who are sick and suffering.

May suffering ones be suffering free
and the fear-struck fearless be.
May the grieving shed all grief,
and all beings find relief.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Death - A Celebration of Life (End of Life Series)

I attended a talk by a bereavement care company today. We were spared the sales talk because the organisers, a hospice centre had given them instructions not to use the talk as a sales event. The speaker, a 38 year old man shared that by pre-planning one's own funeral, one's  family will be spared from having to take care of funeral arrangements at a time when they are grieving.  As all related payments would have been made earlier, the children would also be spared of financial  pressure. It is worthwhile considering, just so that those left behind will have an easier time.

He said that he realised how very precious life is, after the unexpected loss of his father. He revealed that his father had died of a sudden heart attack leaving his mother to cope alone, as the children were overseas. He used himself as an example, sharing that he had planned everything, right down to the selection of his photograph, his parting song by Jacky Cheung as well as written his own eulogy.  He wanted his funeral to be a celebration of his life.

Dr Elisabeth K├╝bler-Ross, was a psychiatrist and the author of the groundbreaking book  "Death and Dying". At the hospital where she worked in New York, she was appalled by the standard treatment of dying patients. “They were shunned and abused, nobody was honest with them”, she said. Unlike her colleagues, she made it a point to sit with terminal patients, listening as they poured out their hearts to her. She began giving lectures featuring dying patients who talked about what they were going through. She also dramatically improved the understanding and practices in relation to bereavement and hospice care. Her ideas, notably the five stages of grief model (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance), are also transferable to personal change and emotional upset resulting from factors other than death and dying.

I remember my grandmother educating me on  the importance of crying and wailing at the funeral of a loved one. She said that if this is not done, the dead person would be treated badly when they reach hell. From this, I gathered that she wanted the same to be done at her funeral. However, though I was very broken hearted, I did not wail at her funeral. My mother did.

Venerable Ajahn Brahm, in one of his talks on grief said  there is an alternative to grief. Not that grief is wrong, Only that there is another possibility. Loss of a loved one can be viewed in a second way, a way that avoids the long days of aching grief. When his father died, it was as if a great concert had finally come to an end. Though he knew in his heart that he would probably not get to be with him again, he didn’t feel sad; nor did he cry. What he felt in his heart was, “What a magnificent father! What a powerful inspiration was his life. How lucky he was to have been there at the time. How fortunate he was to have been his son. ”I felt the very same exhilaration as I had often felt at the end of one of the great concerts in my life. I wouldn’t have missed that for the world." he said.


Grieving is very much a personal thing.  The way we grieve is very dependent on our personality type and the culture to which we have been exposed.. It does not mean that a person who wails feels more than a person who does not.  The late Jacqueline Kennedy was very much admired because she was regarded as being very dignified in the way she carried herself during the death of her husband, John F Kennedy. My grandmother would have disapproved of her behaviour, though.

There is nothing wrong with grieving just as there is nothing wrong with viewing it as a celebration of life. It is our choice to make. Just choose the route that is most loving and beneficial  to ourselves. I would like to share this poem which I found to be comforting when I was grieving.  Death maybe the end of that life but not the relationship. Death is also not the end of love and loving. I have not stopped loving my late grandmother and former pets. And I believe, neither have they stopped loving me.

I Am Not Gone

Golden Flower Metal Art by Injete Chesoni 
I am not gone
I remain here beside you
Just in a different form
Look for me in your heart
And there you will find me
in our love which forever lives on

In those moments when you feel alone
Look for me in your thoughts
And there you will find me
in sweet memories that burn strong

Every time a tear
Forms in your beautiful eyes
Look up to the heavens
And there you will see me
Smiling down from God's glorious skies

~By Injete Chesoni

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The Legacy We Leave Behind (End of Life Series)

From young, I have questioned some of the things taught to me and told to accept (because everyone else is doing so).  Why accept blindly just because everyone is doing so? Why not find out for ourselves? Most of the time, except for my stand on animals, I try to refrain from putting down my beliefs. I have learned over the years,  how unwise some views I held on to so stubbornly, had been. My beliefs are evolving as I learn more about life and I allow them to change as I go along.

There is always a reason why we hold on to any belief. It is usually because it serves a purpose at that stage of our lives. As we progress, we outgrow the limiting beliefs and  embrace more suitable ones. Thus, there is no need to blame ourselves for the past. We did the best that we could at that time. Similarly, the people who have hurt us, too, had some belief systems which caused hurt to others, unknowingly. Thus, we have to learn to exercise patience with ourselves and others.

The greatest work that needs to be done is on ourselves, not our enemies and not the world "out there".  Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist monk advised us to look deep into the suffering within us rather than that outside of us. And to transform that suffering within, from anger, bitterness and hatred into compassion. Otherwise, we will pass on this suffering to our future generations.

One of the benefits of voluntary work is that the suffering of others helps  evoke the compassion within us. We learn to be less self centered when we see the lives of the less fortunate. However, though very meritorious, it is not always necessary to be "out there" to realise compassion. It is very good if we can just start working on ourselves in our own homes. If I can only do that, I will reduce the negative energy in the world around me. To me, this can also be my contribution to the world.

Life is precious. We usually only realise this when the end of life is near. What have we done wth our lives? What do we plan to hand down to the future generations?  Is it only our material possessions or is the way we have lived our lives, that is a source of benefit to others? It pays to ponder.

Friday, 5 April 2013

The Rainbow Bridge (End of Life Series)


Death is not a part of life we spend much time thinking about. It is the realm of the unknown. And the unknown is usually frightening because it is so mysterious and inexorable. Yet, whether or not we wish to acknowledge it, there is always a reminder that it lurks somewhere in the horizon, unavoidable, because death is all around us.

From a human point of view, we wish not to lose our loved ones yet we definitely will. It is when the closest to us die that we feel the impact and the finality of it. I have lost my maternal grandmother, a few friends,  six kittens I tried but failed to save, Pansy, our first cat and Oreo, our first dog. Now, it is time  to prepare myself for the possible loss of my parents one day.

What does death mean? In scientific terms, it is the permanent cessation of all biological functions that sustain a living organism. Suddenly, the person ceases to be. Death is the closest concept we have of the unknown, of nothingness, the opposite or negation of life as we know it.

No one had talked to me about death before my grandmother died, whilst I was in my teens. It was unexpected. The heartache that went with saying goodbye to her defied description. We slept together in the same room for many years. Her absence and the sudden silence left a terrible hole. I wanted to reach out but she was no longer there. Where had she gone? 

The subjects of death and religion are inherently linked. In Buddhism, it is believed that death is not the end of life. It is merely the changing of forms, one manifestation to another. The Christians believe that after a person dies, he/she goes to heaven or hell. Thus, do we get to meet again one day in heaven (or hell)? Will we remember one another and the warmness we once shared?

"Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you feel the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on

Beyond the door there's peace I'm sure
And I know there'll be no more tears in heaven"

("Tears In Heaven" by Eric Clapton)

What about animals? Do they go to Rainbow Bridge after they die?
The Rainbow Bridge is the name of both the meadow and an adjoining bridge connecting it to Heaven. When a pet dies, it goes to the meadow. The pet plays, there is always fresh food and the sun is always shining. However, while the pet is happy, they miss their owner. When their owner dies, they come across the Rainbow Bridge. At that moment their pet runs to their owner's arms in joy while their owner looks into the eyes of their pet who was absent on Earth, but never absent in their heart. Then, they cross the Rainbow Bridge together into Heaven, never again to be separated.." source: Wikipedia

........ Or is it all just a hoax? Maybe it is just a big zero or nothingness after death? Experiences from people who experienced the near death process have shed some light into dying. However, death still remains a mystery.

No matter what our religion is, what does our heart say? Can we be real with ourselves? How much faith do we have in the spiritual texts? That death is but an illusion to the ignorant mind? If such be the case, why do people still fear death and why do we still grieve?

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

The Passage of Life

I visited my father daily when he was in the hospital. He was sedated for two days in the Intensive Care Unit. On the third day, I was informed that  he was conscious but his eyes were closed. When I greeted him, he opened his eyes  and I saw the look of recognition in them. He then closed his eyes again, and I saw a tear roll down his cheek. I had never seen my father cry before and overcome by emotion myself, I could only guess the reasons for his tears.

In all these years that I have been his daughter, I can honestly say that I don't know the man. He migrated from China in his teens and is what they call a "Chinaman." As a father, he rarely communicated with us, his children one on one.  Being hard of hearing now, it is even harder to talk.  I felt at a loss how to bridge the gap. I think many people communicate their love to their parents through service and gifts.  Ang paus, food, dinners and regular visits. It is not part of our Asian culture to hug and kiss or be touchy feely.

I did not come from a tactile family. My father had not hugged us since we were little children. However, at a time like this, apart from the visits, I wanted to communicate more. And to me, touch is a form of non-verbal communication that can  say as much as a lot of words. This is probably most obvious when someone you know is in trouble or in sorrow. Taking hold of his or her hand or putting an arm around the shoulder often is much more effective than words.   It can communicate warmth, support, understanding, compassion and love.

I decided that it is time, to be myself. Pride and ego has no place at time like this. I would make it a point to touch him or massage his shoulders and arms.  I even plucked the courage to stroke his face and hair. I told him in Cantonese that I loved him and we, the family loved him very much. I just wanted to be sure he knew, in case anything happened to him, that he was not alone and we cared for him.

Two days later, the doctor called for a morning meeting to brief  my brothers and me about my father's condition. He said that my father could be discharged but his heart was failing. We would have to decide whether we wanted to hook him onto a respirator the next time it happens or just give him oxygen and let him go. If her recovers, it is good but if he is unable to breathe on his own, no one has the right to take him off the machine and it could go on for weeks.  No one knows. What a decision to make. I left the meeting with a heavy, heavy heart that day.

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Duality of Life




Last week, while I was having dinner, I received a call from my brother. My father was having breathing difficulties but could not be persuaded to seek treatment at the hospital. A year and a half ago, my father suffered a heart attack. The same scenario; he refused to go to the hospital until a few hours later. That  delay contributed to his permanent heart damage. Since then, he has not been the same man. Now, half his previous size, frail and gaunt, he never regained his previous vigour. 

He was a tall and strong man, never having had any serious  health problems till the heart attack. But how swiftly things changed. Prior to that, he used to drive my mother to acupuncture sessions daily and on weekends, to the wet market. After the attack, the car was left idle and eventually sold off.  Both my parents spent alot more time at home and became dependent on my brothers. 

I rushed to my parents' home to help persuade my father. However, I only incurred his wrath as angry words spewed from his mouth. Finally, when he could not tolerate the pain anymore, he agreed to be admitted. We rushed him to the Emergency Ward where he was given oxygen till his cardiologist came. Shortly after, he was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. The cardiologist recommended that he be sedated.  and with our consent, he was hooked onto a respirator to help him breathe.

It was a long night. Feeling tired, worried and helpless, I saw him just before he was sedated and went on home.  Naturally, I wanted to soothe and protect him but I could not do much more but leave it to the doctor  to do his job. There is no denying that my greatest fear then, was the thought of losing him. Am I ready to let him go?

I had alot on my mind that night. The suffering of watching suffering. Watching the process of life as it unfolds, the pleasant and the ugly.  It is difficult to watch at times. Added to that, being unable to do anything to help significantly.  It is not in my hands.

This is the package of being a human being. This  package comes with it, the duality of life.  Life and death, joy and sorrow,  pleasure and pain, night and day, meeting and parting, negative and positive, yin and yang. We would not know one if we had not experienced the other.

We cannot determine how we die. Nor the time of death. We can only decide how we want to live. What we can do to shape our own future. And while we are at it, sow the seeds for good to come our way. Finally, everyone would want to be able to make a peaceful and dignified exit from this world. It would be such a privilege.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Happily Ever After


                       

When I was in school, I noticed that romance novels were very popular among my classmates. One girl called Kumari used to carry a bagful of them to school, to exchange with her romance novel bookclub members. Their favourite were books by the Mills & Boons publishing house, which featured many different female authors. I was rather curious, so I asked her to recommend some books by the better authors. However, I could only manage about two books before I became seriously bored. Their story lines were essentially the same. The damsel in distress swept off her feet by the mysterious stranger, who came to her rescue. Yawn.......

The practical side of me found it hard to believe and enjoy what were to me then, rather unbelievable stories. Romance fictions always ends just when real life is about to start. The story always end with the couple falling in love and living happily after. In real life, the point when the couple gets married is when their love is really lived out.

Will their romance get side tracked by the practicalities of life, such as house chores, in-law problems, children, careers and different interests? Yes, there will be a period in the courtship phase when couples can be very romantic with one another.  But why is it somehow assumed that the romance would be automatically sustained without putting in effort?

Are real relationships like that as portrayed in popcorn movies and romance novels? Yet, their influence on our perception of love is subtle. It is when you realise that you have  these expectations which you want your partner to fulfill (similar to the hero in the movies or novels) that you realise the power of its influence in your life. Where did these expectations come from?

The truth is that relationships are a joint effort, much like tending to a plant. Water it, nurture and talk to it lovingly and it blooms beautifully, Otherwise, it could turn out quite ugly too. Couples who, in their old age, wage cold war, curse one another and are unable to carry out a conversation without getting into an argument, are one too many. The truly loving couples are too few. So, what happened to the couple who were once besotted with one another? The romance novels seem to be deafeningly silent on what happens...... ever after.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The State of Our Hearts

Of late, I have been focusing on the plight of animals in this blog. Maybe, it was triggered by the death of my dog, Oreo. Or maybe not. Because to me, whether the topic is about animals or our human problems, the basic issue is still about ourselves. How we treat animals or those weaker and more disadvantaged than us reflects who we truly are inside.  The group I am talking about are children, old folks, sick people and those unspoken for in society,

It is easy to be nice and invest our time on those richer and more influential than us, even though we may not like them because the relationship can potentially bring us benefits. But what about those whom we have to give  more to and  obtain less benefit in return? Or at least that is how it appears, superficially.

Recently, the euthanasia of 8 service dogs at the Fire & Rescue Department caused a public uproar. These loyal, courageous dogs that were now too old to service the nation were inhumanely put to sleep.

"These dogs have served the nation valiantly and with obvious passion for their work. They have put their lives in danger to spare their human handlers the same danger. Their needs are simple and they expect no extravagant pension or benefits. Many do not even live for many years to enjoy much comfort or care following their retirement from active service. They deserve every chance possible to live out their golden years in peace and reasonable comfort. We owe it to these brave dogs to create these chances for them. And we owe it to ourselves and our society to practice the values of compassion, gratitude, accountability and loyalty that we claim to uphold. " Petfinder.myWagazine

I wonder whether it has ever crossed their human minds how it would feel if they were treated in the same manner. What about our aged parents when they no longer can serve us?  Is the worthiness of life measured by their continuing usefulness to us? Do beings have to earn the right to live? It seems so. Our nation maybe progressing, our wallets bigger but what does it say about the state of our hearts?

To me, these are terrible pictures of the callous human heart and great betrayal. A sad day for humankind.



Friday, 1 March 2013

Saving Lives


 
































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 All the dogs were rescued. There were 55 of them, rescued a day before they were scheduled to be put down. You may read about the rescue operation by Malaysia Independent Dog Rescue (MIAR)  http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=%2F2013%2F3%2F1%2Fcentral%2F12774953&sec=central. For more of the above photos which are from their facebook page, see http://www.facebook.com/pages/Malaysia-Independent-Animal-Rescue/132282193542235. Beautiful, healthy looking dogs whose lives have been saved. Kudos to MIAR. Really, really happy with the support of the public and their good work!