Ideas, Journal

simplify … How I let go of my most treasured present

The more I have, the more troubled I am!

And that is after three years of simplifying my life. I still feel that I am owning too many stuff for my own good. I started digitising magazine cut outs so that they do not take up precious physical space. That helps a whole lot although it might become a time bomb in the future to tackle a glut of virtual clutter.

I gone through my books once again and at last, I am able to let go of five more books; I’m in the process of finding good homes for them.

For things which are really precious, such as souvenirs and presents gifted by my closest friends, well… these are difficult. Until I found this article by Amanda Kendle who offered me a solid reminder:

Tip No 5: Use them. Accept that they will one day break, or worn out, or stop becoming useful and that would be that.

Souvenirs and presents, most remembered although some not remembered as well. The Tasmanian Devil pen was given by my band juniors back in 1998 and the silver pen was a birthday pen given by a friend who I have lost touched with in year 2001. The other two are likely to be gifts from friends while they were overseas, most likely the Hong Kong one from either MT or CC, and the Bali one from IY.

I am both happy and troubled whenever a friend gifts travel souvenirs. I’m very happy that they thought about me even when they are overseas but I feel troubled trying to find a place to keep them. Even when I have completely used them, I will still end up keeping them for I have quite an exceptional memory for many of the memorabilia which I received.

A few months ago, I have started using the collection of fridge magnets and key chains which I received from my friends. They have currently found a home in my office (where i spent most of my time) nicely displayed. The idea is once I feel that they no longer serve their purpose, I will let them go. And I will do what Marie Kondo do: thank the item for their service and the joy that they have given me and let go of it.


The hardest thing for me is to convince myself that letting go does not mean that I do not treasure the friendship.


I think it is about how we let the gifts go when they no longer serve the purpose they meant to serve.

And this is how I let go of my most treasured present…


My most treasured present: a set of bowling gear which was gifted to me from a group of officers at the Navy whom took great care of me. I no longer bowl and don’t intend to pursue bowling. It was a big item that took up a bit too much space and a yearly hassle to maintain it and just to look at it purely so I can remember it. Yet, it was a painful process to let it go.

After what seemed like over 8 years of contemplation, I suddenly knew how to do it. I found the bowling gear a new owner, an aspiring bowler who would bowl with it instead of gathering dust like what I did with it. On the final day, I took pictures of my bowling gear and have a bowling game with the new owner while using my gear for the final time. During the game, I continue to polish the ball as I usually would, treating it with the same respect as I would.

At the end of the day, I handed my bowling gear to the new owner and reminded the owner to treat his “new” bowling gear well. I let him know the history and the value of the gear and my reasons for letting go of it.

The only thing I kept was the pair of bowling shoes which could still serve as great memory to use it if someone ever invite me for a bowling game.

I let go of my most treasured present in the best way I can to honour the gift and honour the friendship and the circumstances it was given to me.

I will continue to remember how it was given to me.

Most importantly, I will remember the mentorship and the fellowship that you have given me, even though our ships are now heading towards different directions.

I will remember it in my heart.


Designing Board Games | the Dilemma that Limits Potential

It has been slightly more than one year since I’ve started designing this game, with the focus on getting a few mechanics which I thought would be interesting to work on. It has been a difficult time trying to push the project forward when I have so many other mini-projects which I am working on at the same time.

Nevertheless, I’m proud that at the very least, the game managed to be play through till the end! This will mean that major parts of the game has stabalised. Moving forward, tweaks are needed and I can probably focus on a different part of the project a bit more. Like game balance, artwork, and UI/UX aspects.

At first, I was thinking that I will close the project after this play test as it has been taking far too long; I can’t commit time to work on it quickly. A small part of me wanted to see it to fruition as a published game now that it seemed like I’m close to completion. Deep down, I also know that this is probably not fun enough a game to attract players and I don’t feel like putting in that much effort into it.  Hence for now, this is a dilemma which I have.

It is actually not the first time I am faced with this dilemma. If I’m being absolutely truthful with myself, I probably didn’t see the push factor for me to drive it to be published – just too much work on top of my day job to see something through.

That’s what happen to music. I’m one step short of getting my music published in some way. I felt that there’s too much money to be invested in order to produce a proper demo to be sold. I’ll need to venture into bits that I don’t like to do, such as picking up the technical skills to do a proper demo recording. I felt bored as there was no longer a breakthrough.

And then I stopped.

And then I moved on to something else.

Come to think of it, I believe this is a dilemma that is going to limit my potential again and again.

While I’m not sure what to do with it yet, I better do something about it fast.


Never Flagging in Adversity

I was not the easiest person to work with – full of skepticism and negativity. Most of my high school classmates would avoid me. I was in huge internal struggles. Depressed. Despair about life. It was so dark that I there was actually a blank in my memory of a few of those moments, which I knew there was extreme pain but I couldn’t remember the details of it…


The Navy has been a very important part of my life journey. I am extremely fortunate to be working under a dedicated group of passionate officers who accepted me for who I was, who saw my flair and nurture my creativity, who mended the broken me together.

To begin with, I was part of the army who didn’t want to let me go. Yet, I’m always treated as part of the Navy family. My commanding officer did not have to do this out of his busy schedule because I’m really a nobody but he made two calls to the personnel department to ask to keep me with the Navy family.

I am no sailor, but the officers who were under him took very good care of me too. They offered me their friendship and taught me the traditions of the seas anyway, a lot going far back into the Age of Discovery. I fondly remembered the many nights working through projects with them. The many bowling sessions we gone for. The really generous affirmation they have given me about my work and my artistry.

I also saw through a dark moment – RSS Courageous. I remembered the skies poured its wrath at us, soaking every hair and every skin on that sombre day which the military funeral took place. All soaked and cold, our hearts strung in a common heavy beat as the procession drove passed us.

Through fair winds and against rough seas, this journey had built my courage and my confidence to live on and gave me a chance to redeem myself. It is for this reason, I always feel very much indebted to the Navy and will forever be grateful to be given a chance to be a part of this great family.


Rising Early, Finding Excuses

I read in an article some time ago the benefits of rising early. One of the reasons given was that the time in the morning effectively belongs to yourself.

Considering that there’s limited things which I could do after I get home after work, for the fact that I’m just too tired to do anything more productive, I was really eager to give this “rising early” habit a try.

The final target was to wake up at 5am. After all, I am already waking up at 6.30am every other day, what’s so difficult about waking up that early? While I was schooling, waking up at 5.45am is a really common thing to do.

I set an immediate target to wake up at 6am consistently, including weekends, for the next two weeks by winding back my alarm by 2 minutes daily. I will also push myself to sleep earlier at about 10 pm.

And you know it is not going to turn out well.

My body just can’t get used to it! It seems that without the weekends to sleep in till 7.30, without those other days where I just wake up a little bit later and to hit the snooze button, two weeks was all it took to bring my immune system down.

Maybe, I’m growing old.

Maybe, I’m just not meant to wake up that early.

Maybe, I’m living in a place who’s government decide to use the wrong time! Singapore rightfully belongs in the +7 GMT time zone but chooses to align our time with KL, or East Malaysia, or Hong Kong, or Beijing (depending on what your interpretation is). In fact, I’m really already waking up at 5.30am solar time when I wake up at 6.30am! …

A modified image from Wikipedia on the time zones used in South East Asia. The red arrow shows where Singapore is.

… Maybe, I’m just finding excuses.


at EASE with myself

2014 was empowering. 2013 was terrific. 2012 was a turning point. 2011 was frustrating. 2010 was busy. 2009 was lost. 2008 was refreshing. 2007 was… whatever

As we walked into 2015, I just want to shout it out loud to everyone that I never felt so at ease with myself and I enjoyed being myself before.

Two major influences, the gang at LusiGroup (see photo below) and Dr Brené Brown. I’m lucky to have found not one but two important studies? knowledge pool? a scripture or bible to living? (is there even a name for such treasure?) within this lifetime. Of course, I’m not discounting all the other life’s little experiences, happy ones and tragic ones alike which have taught me about something in one way or another.

Sometimes, I wished that I’ve found this earlier but I guess better late than never. Or maybe if it’s introduced a tad too early I might not have mature enough to accept the gold. Whatever it is, I wouldn’t trade my past for what I am today.

Lusi Group Christmas 2013
Christmas with the folks @ LusiGroup in 2013. Had to miss out the 2014’s as I was out of town~

Guess that a simple thank you would not be sufficient.

I’ll pay it forward somehow eh?

Happy New Year everyone~


‘The Meaning of Life’ Project by BeautifulOutlaws

A similar post on BeautifulOutlaws can be found here.


BeautifulOutlaws approached me recently with a set of life intriguing questions. I thought that today is the appropriate moment to answer the questions. I guess it is also a chance to test if I could indeed bare my soul and allow myself be seen nakedly.

Note: I took more than two weeks trying to answer these questions. On second thoughts, “today” is not a good description after all.

(1) What is the meaning of life to you, and why are you here in this world?

Meaning of life (noun): the purpose of life. Something that you cannot live without because without it, you will be living your life aimlessly. I believe that this meaning of life should be pretty constant throughout one’s life, unless one is faced with a crisis that completely changes him.

With that, I guess it is different from passion too because passion may change from time to time. Underneath all the passions that I have and the confusion of what I like to do, one thing that says pretty constant would be breakthroughs.

I live for breakthroughs.

But I don’t think the meaning of life is just about breakthroughs as that would have been reductive. I believe, what I am aiming for in breakthroughs are the ones that can make a difference to the human kind. Majority of my “breakthroughs” so far has to deal with the arts and how we should live as fellow human beings, which is pretty strange for me I guess as I am supposed to be an engineer by training. I guess this also answers the second question on why I think I am in this world for.

(2) What do you hold dear to your heart

Personally, two things, Sanity, Creativity

I’m not sure if I can be what I am today without a tinge of sanity. I don’t fear growing old I guess but I do fear growing insane. The thought of losing my sanity scares me.

Creativity is the part which keeps me daring to try new things. It is the part of me that keeps life interesting. It is the part of me which makes me grow as a person.

(3) What are your dreams and aspirations, however silly you think they may be? (Places to go, things to see, stuff to do.)

These are written down as my personal manifesto which can be found here:

(4) In what areas in your life do you feel you are inadequate and wish to change?

I find it difficult at times to engage with people at their heart. I do try my best to practice empathy, putting myself in others’ shoes although a lot of times, I couldn’t help it but to think with my head than feel with my heart. Even empathy feels sort of like it is logically analysed and deduced rather than felt.

I also find a need to be affirmed by others to know if I am doing things right. Sometimes I wish I should just stop holding back, hack societal norms and just believe in myself a little bit more. I guess this is the part of me where I try to avoid conflicts: I largely try to avoid it unless it is against my conscious or my principles.

(5) Who/What are the people/experiences in your past that was life changing.

Way too many to name! To answer this, there is a need to delve into quite a bit of my history which for the most part, I am willing to share but it can develop into a TL;DR very quickly.

A summarised version of this will be that I was a negative,  insecure and anti-social boy up till the point when I entered service with the Navy and my life changed ever since. From there on, I tried to create different opportunities and different experiences to develop myself as a person and every “experience” opportuntiy which I have grabbed and every person whom I have met was part of the grand life changing experience.

So what I’m going to do instead, is to dedicate this part of the answer to those who have (1) accepted me as that negative,  insecure and anti-social boy as whom he was and (2) those who are still shaping and changing my life now.

For (1), first and foremost, it has to be my family. There was the first person whom I can truly consider as my friend, my current group of best friends, especially YM and LS, and there are four very special officers from the Navy, Jeffrey, Ivan, Ah Chua and Colonel Low (whom I’m very sure he has already risen a few ranks above at this moment). Of course, there are many others too.

As for (2), this gets really tricky as that could mean many many many people and experiences. This is another TL:DR list. If I am forced to choose five, it will have to be Lusi Lim, Brene Brown, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People (the book), Toastmasters and Running events during my varsity days.


Thank you for making me who I am today.

(6) What will you miss/regret most when you’re on your dying bed?

To be held back by societal norms. (see answer to Question 4)

(7) What is Love?

“Baby, don’t hurt me”


I haven’t given this a serious thought before but I supposed love is when there is acceptance when you are yourself and when you care no matter how terrible things can get.

(8) If everything in this world freezes in time for an hour except you, and every human’s mind is under your control for that hour. What would you do?

I think I will not do anything. I’m a believer that I should not do anything unto others that I do not want others to do unto me. By the time I struggled through my integrity check, centuries would probably have passed and I will missed that opportunity so in short, nothing.


The Road Not Taken


The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

There are a million and one things on my mind and a million and one things I really wished to rant about. Three years ago, I would probably just rant. Today, I found the issues on my mind not just difficult to express, but probably beyond what the rich English language could describe.

The above poem appeared in my graduation yearbook beside a large photograph of myself. As I consulted the Google God regarding this piece of work, I realised that it is one of the most misinterpreted poem and a strange selection to put on a graduation yearbook. Here is one analysis I probably can agree with for about 80% and expresses my state of mind, right now.


Many times in life I felt lost and aimless. When I was searching for myself six years ago in 2009 (and boy it was a long search; it took three years!), I promised myself not to be lost again when I found myself, to remain focus on my life goals. Sad to say, I believe I’m in danger of coming to another one at this moment.

This time round, the “lost and aimless” was a bit different though. While I am still focused about my teaching job which brought me a lot of joy and personal growth, I felt worn out doing all the other stuff, losing track of why the hell I am so busy with everything else. I am not sure if I enjoyed being so busy. I felt that I also lose a lot more being so busy with everything. For one, I lost my ability to make music. I am in the school band since Primary 2 and I compose my own music as young as Secondary 3. To say that I lose the ability to make music is a very big lost to me. I felt my skills in Japanese are draining away from me. I’m not sure if I felt as close to my family and my friends. And there are so much more things which I wanted to learn like motorbiking and Malay, but it seems that I’m all out of time.

As Robert Frost aptly puts it, now I wonder if I’m regretting not taking the road that was not taken.

My teacher used to tell me that life gets harder with every step. So the truth is no matter which path I have taken, this journey is still a personal one and neither one of it is less traveled. Even if I chose the road that is not taken, challenges would have been there waiting for me. Hence:

“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”


I’m worn out, I’m really worn out. But I am also what I am today because of the path I’ve chosen. And I’m thankful for it. 🙂