Twilight Zone Between Dignity and Reality….

Wanted to make myself useful during this short break in my life, yours truly signed up with a food project aimed to reduce food waste and also to benefit those in need.

Arriving the warehouse following a victory over the rush hour traffic, looking all like a newbie (joining few other fella newbies) waited for instruction to get started. Some senior volunteers got us started.

First, I was tasked to bundle up the fruits in 6 per pack that contained apples and pears. Then I continued on with sorting and packing tomatoes into 20 per pack. My final task of the morning was to sort and bundle up vegetables (mostly choy sum).

Sounded all normal and noble right? I was rather quiet during the entire morning there. Not because I had to focus on packing fruits and vegetables but my heart sank bit by bit the more vege I packed and bundled. I can safely say that almost half of what we sorted and packed were spoiled or rotten.

Those vegetables? I kept seeing the vision of myself and loved ones making our selection of the variety of organic vegetables at the hypermart. “Hmmm this doesn’t look fresh” or “wow the leaves are yellowish”! But how about the recipients of the fruits and vegetables that we sorted and bundled up for? Although we have sorted and disposed of those rotten ones, those are still far from fresh. These are the unsold or leftovers from the wet market that the sellers “donated”.

I am talking about dignity here. But how about reality? When you are homeless, living in a shelter or a public funded home, would you be grateful for just having something to eat, a roof over your head and something to wear and the quality doesn’t matter?

~ J

 

 

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Child Support : The Chicken and Egg Situation

In the last decade, from being a married to getting myself “unmarried”, I have seen quite some number of cases of abandoned spouse with kids. I don’t have statistics to show whether it is mostly female spouses being the abandoned victims or the male, nor that it is my intention to prove anything about gender bias or anything like that.

Let’s split the issue into 2 scenarios here:

Scenario 1 :

Mothers left with kids, abandoned by their spouses, or could be legally divorced. No matter how the separation was carried out, I have seen cases of moms struggling to make ends meet, priority is to provide for the kids. I’d say the segment that are more prone to struggle financially is those of lower level of earning capacity. Not that those with better earning power wouldn’t struggle, but the hardly hit ones are those who stand at the lower spectrum of income.

In most cases, the fathers either have not been paying child support or stop paying after a while.

Scenario 2 :

Dads left with kids, abandoned by spouses, or could be legally divorced and granted full custody of the kids. In such circumstances, some of moms with better earning capacity would contribute in the form of child support.

But in most cases, they rarely do. Especially for those who voluntarily gave up on the kids’ custody to begin with.

My burning question is, should the spouse not having full custody, ie., those who don’t have to raise the kids full time like the other be instructed by court to pay child support as a shared responsibility to raising the kids regardless of the gender?

Some may argue that it is mostly women who suffer from such struggle. As I said, I would not judge based on gender but I would decide based on roles and equal responsibility.

What do you think?

~ J

Featured image courtesy of Pexels.com

I chose to have an authentic life over my reputation…

May 2011, a date I will remember till the end of this lifetime. THE MONTH I made a choice. A huge one. A life changing choice that led to where I am today. This was the date I left my marriage, got condemned by my then best friend, criticized and disapproved by my relatives and the beginning of the life I so wanted.

You see, when I finally bought the book Eat, Pray, Love this year, I was gasping for air when I was completing the first few chapters. And I was gasping “hey, this is MY story of awakening!” And for those of you who are familiar with that bestseller, you would know what I mean by that.

I woke up one day in the beginning of 2011 with this extreme feeling that I wasn’t living the life that I wanted, although I was living the life of my choice. It was my choice to get married to my ex husband, despite dad’s objection. Papa knows best huh? He said my ex husband and I were from different planets. He said I was making a mistake. Maybe he was right. Maybe he wasn’t.

I have learned to believe in fate, alignments and lessons since then. You see, I wouldn’t learn about myself, my life and I may still be living a life of “others”. Precisely, a life of pleasing others. A life which the societal norms said one should follow.

In my 6 years of marriage to my ex, I learned and adapted to a life which my main responsibilities as a good wife and good daughter in law took precedence. I was taught to “compromise” my values. I was told that my dreams were wishful thinking. I was told to “come back to Earth”.

But May 2011 changes everything. It was the beginning of my adventurous life, a life I could only secretly dreamed of. And I have been living authentically since. An authentic life starts when we are honest to ourselves. We listen to our Soul. We braved the storms and keep moving forward.

I was condemned, I was called names and my name was frowned upon within the clan. Within the relatives. I was even called an adulterous by my ex husband’s family. At the end of the day, what others think of me is none of my business. The last 7 years have been a training ground for me to welcome something bigger. Something huge.

And I am ready for whatever that is coming. And I know that “whatever” is a blessing. Some greater than what I have been praying for.

~ J

Giving, a blessing I did not realize…

I used to think that giving, especially that of monetary is a burden. I used to be reluctant to give, more so in times of financial uncertainty. I would be worrying that by giving $50 or $100 away would diminish the pool of funds I need. So I thought.

I don’t know what influenced me and I have no idea why I have changed this mindset of mine lately. I have began to think and feel that giving is a blessing. I am fortunate to find myself able to give. That means, I am blessed with the wealth to give (to share). Even during period uncertainty, I still give. That, to me, means that I am blessed with the abundance even at times of uncertainty. And seeing my small contributions making their way to save lives really gives me great warmth and faith. Faith of humanity restored. Faith that I am looked after by an unseen force.

I am grateful for the capacity to give. It means I do receive. Thank you!

~ J

You were the one who looked down on yourself, Jacqueline….

I grew up with low self worth, lack of self esteem but covered it up with high ego. As a kid, I was used to uncles and aunts comparing me with my cousins ; what a bright kid cousin Cal was, how ladylike cousin Vivian was and etc. I was also quite a confused 8-year-old wondering why my uncles were in awe when cousin Cal’s dad subscribed the “elite” Singaporean kids magazine D’light saying, “see, this is what you called investing in your kid’s future” but then when my poor mom (already struggling to put food on the table, saved enough) also started subscribing that magazine for me so that I was exposed with better standard of English and I proudly showed the magazine to my uncles only to be greeted with a nod.

From those childhood experience onward, I had decided that I wasn’t good enough. Only kids like my cousins (either you were born with silver spoon or behaved like how the Confucian theology dictated you to) were the celebrated ones. I had decided that I was the black sheep. I was taught that I wasn’t good enough cos my parents were poor, cos I grew up in a neighbourhood rowdy enough to produce bar hostesses, pimps, drug pushers and what not in the like. I grew up a story teller. I told my little classmates that I am princess living in a mansion. I had a bondmaid just to take care of me. We had 3-4 servants at our “mansion” serving us.

Time flies. I am now a teenager studying in a public school. My classmates and buddies spoke more of Mandarin than I can ever count numbers in. I was the “banana”. I was the “arrogant new kid” who only spoke English. But these Mandarin speaking kids were the ones I shared laughter with, the ones who introduced me to Mandarin-pop songs and the ones I went hanging out at their new village houses where their aunts, mom etc served me with tasty delicacies and always welcomed me into their home with warmth and big smiles. These folks were far from being millionaires but they have what a lot of millionaires don’t. A big heart. A giving heart.

Even during my adulthood, I was ashamed of where I was raised. I was ashamed that my parents were poor. I was ashamed to bring my friends home to the cosy brick house we called home. The self inflicted stigma. I was ashamed of something superficial. I was blinded by materials. I thought by possessng materials was the way to gain respect. There is this Chinese saying “笑贫不笑娼” which means by the societal value we had, it is mostly poverty that is shunned and hence prostitution would be celebrated as long as it makes one rich.

Now at 40, and been through major life episodes that included a glimpse into death, I must say it is still not too late. Not to late to claim ownership of my life. The feeling of being ashamed and inadequate has been replaced by GRATITUDE. Not sure what I mean? Ok, I came from a modest family, I didn’t have the chance (and money) to learn musical instruments like many of my cousins and classmates BUT :

1) I grew up in a home, cared for, protected and loved by our loving and dedicated parents

2) I had food everyday, 3 times a day or even more

3) I had nice and proper clothes to wear

4) I had family trips (who cares if those were of local destinations)

5) I had complete formal education till tertiary

6) I grew up with toys

7) We had family night outings at movie theatres

This post would last till tomorrow if I continue on counting my real blessings. And I would NEVER be ashamed to invite friends (real ones) to my place or that my family home, anymore. My parents still live in a simple dwelling and it is no mansion at all, but those who genuinely befriended me wouldn’t even care. And those who care? Ooohhhh the kite is flying high!

Ending this post with what Mark Darcy said to Bridget Jones (the Bridget Jones Diary) : “I like you very much. For all that you are.”

~ J

Yes, I am awake

When you are fully “awake”, you will see others’ fear, worries, greed, malice that stem out of EGO. You see the ugliest facet of human. And I realize that is the reason I was called to awaken. You see the ugliest facet of people around you and you are still able to LOVE. Not only loving others but most importantly, loving  ONESELF.

You see, being awake can be overwhelming. Most. Of. The. Times. Yes, it is just like a switch being flipped on permanently. And we are humans that feel. Our human experiences will definitely lead us to feeling both positive and negative emotions. It is then how we stay grounded and balance such emotions counts. Inner work.

For me, meditation, singing, dancing, working out and spending time in the nature work. Life is just a boomerang we throw. What we throw out comes back to us. So, why not start living a positive life NOW?

~ J