Category Archives: FOOD FOR THOUGHT

slavery

this is how slavery works.

we take joyful, impressionable children and put them into school. we take away their free time to be creative, imaginative, exploratory and tell them to behave and obey. we reward them for behaving and obeying and doing as told. they may question this, but we tell them that is how things work. that the rewards come after they are done studying. then we systematically remove any sense of being with competition by telling them they need to be the best. we make them obsess over being the best and then limit their interests to what they can compete for. exams. with the ultimate goal of scoring all those As. what a prize! and by the time they are done with school, if school has succeeded, they enter into the next phase with absolutely no clue as to what truly speaks to their soul as they have had no time to explore.

we then tell them that the key to having a good life is further education. so we further educate them, in the ways we believe lead to having a good income. because good income = good life. simple. now they are educated and working the job they have been craftily built for. now they slave away day to day for their paycheck. that prize! for their paycheck that should bring them happiness. because that was what was promised, wasn’t it? that’s what they all want. so they buy buy buy. buy food, buy clothes, buy gadgets, buy cars, buy holidays. trying to buy that happiness. they are not happy, not really. but they have no time to think of that lack of happiness, because of that job that they must have to pay for the things that they need to be happy. but they are not happy, not really.

meanwhile somewhere out of sight, factories buzz with people working (the people who never got that further education of course), to churn out these stuff that they buy. factories leaking toxic chemicals into their environment. into their water streams. into their soil.

meanwhile somewhere out of sight, forests are being cleared. hundreds of acres. thousands of acres. hundreds of thousands of acres to grow palm trees to feed their consumption of palm oil. palm oil that is in their bread, their chocolate, their biscuits, their instant noodles, their ice cream, their shampoo and soaps, their lipsticks, their detergent.

hundreds of thousands of acres to rare livestock and poultry that they need. their cows and pigs and goats and chickens and ducks and turkeys and geese.

hundreds of thousands of acres to grow corn to feed the cattle they rare. corn to turn into high fructose corn syrup that is in everything, that ever so slowly kills their health. corn to turn into ethanol for biofuel.

meanwhile somewhere out of sight, workers drill deep into the earth to extract petroleum. fuel to fuel their needs. fuel that pollutes. fuel that powers their industries and transportation that emit greenhouse gasses that warm the earth. fuels that they use to make more stuff that they need. fuel to make plastic.

meanwhile somewhere out of sight, plastic fills their landfills and oceans. plastic killing their wildlife. their birds, their seals, their turtles, their fish, their whales. plastic that goes from their garbage to their plates.

but they are too busy to care. too busy working to fund the lifestyle they have become accustomed to. to pay for the phone they must own and fancy food they must eat and the car they must drive and the house they must live in. to pay for all the things they own, but not really. to pay off debt.

they want to care, but possess no knowledge or skills to be able to care for. they want to care, but have no time to care for. they want to care, but how can they?

their water is being poisoned. their air polluted. their food mutated. their environment destroyed. their minds distracted. their souls empty.

they are stuck. paralyzed.

this is how slavery works.

we take children with all the magic and potential their lives contain and squash it. we torture them with pointless competition and endless repetition. we tell them it is the purpose and goal. we tell them it is success, while the world literally crumbles around them. they care, but we tell them it’s not their job to.

it is not their job to care for the environment. not their job to stop the pollution. not their job to grow the food they eat. not their job to think of what goes into their food. not their job to fix their things that break. not their job to think of where their trash goes. not their job to keep the planet clean. not their job to save the trees and animals.

we tell them that someone else will do it. somewhere out of sight.

their job, is to make money. because money will solve all their problems. money will buy their happiness.

and then they end up too busy working to fill the void that is caused by being too busy working. and then they die. but what does it matter? when were they ever alive anyways? when they were studying for their As? when they were getting a higher education? when they were working so hard to get that job they were meant to have and then working so hard to keep it?

when were we?

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on my own

i have never been comfortable asking for help. i don’t think many of us are. somewhere along our journey as human beings we decided that our narrative should be built on the expectation of everyone having their shit together. that the inability to be self dependent means failure. failure of your own. failure of the family that has raised you. failure of the path you have chosen. just, overall failure. so there’s an incredible pressure to present a picture of having one’s shit together.

how much time is wasted trying to paint that picture.

this has followed me into relationships with loved ones. the discomfort and unfamiliarity in asking for help or conveying my needs results in an expectation of the other party knowing who to be, what to do or how to help and a frustration or dissatisfaction upon not having my needs met.

but i have come to understand that having my needs met is my responsibility and mine alone. whether i meet them myself or i communicate those needs to others so they may extend their love to me in those ways. because love is not owed. it is not a prerequisite to having a relationship. we all know very well relationships can exist with no love at all. and because i am not entitled to anyone else’s love or kindness, i have to be alright with asking for what i need or accepting what i do or do not receive with grace.

it is easier said than done. existing in a society where you can be seen as inconvenient for expressing opinions and needs makes it hard to do just that. it is easier to remove one’s needs than try to communicate it in hopes of finding a workable solution. easier. but all that accomplishes is silencing people to a point of isolation and non-existence.

i believe we all yearn communion. it takes a village to get anything done – building houses, farming a land, raising children, managing a household, running a business – yet we constantly find ourselves without one.

isolation replaces the village. isolation becomes the narrative. you are on your own.

we are quicker to doubt people than we are to trust them. in fact, to trust and rely on others is naive and stupid. we are better off walking around with filters and walls, to protect self from all the things that could go wrong in life. so much to fear.

it took a lot of reflecting to see how i’d built my relationships around that narrative. hardships faced alone because of keeping people out of my struggles. feeling frustrated in relationships when my partner failed to understand my needs. anger when the action of others caused me pain. so much unnecessary loneliness and finger pointing.

but how is anyone to know what i need if i don’t communicate it? and why is the norm to brace one’s self for impact before trying to address an issue. as though humans are so tiny and limited that we are unable to handle situations any better. 

love and life are expansive. our capacity to grow knows no bounds. we limit ourselves because we are afraid. afraid of failure. afraid to try. afraid to ask. afraid to need. afraid of judgement.

so, what if i remove that fear? what if i just ask. what if i just communicate my needs. so simple. so what if someone thinks i am inconvenient for asking. so what if my request actually does trouble people a little. so what if i seem irresponsible or incapable for being unable to manage everything myself. one’s opinion of me need not matter if my opinion of me is fine. i can be fine with being a failure within the old narrative. i can create my own narrative.

because what i do know to be true is that i am always here, waiting to be needed. always here willing to participate. willing to help. willing to show up. willing to be that village. and if i am, i have to believe that others are too. all it takes is asking. to shed the belief that my worthiness as a human being is somehow tied to having my shit together…and just ask.

i replace the narrative in my mind and in the hearts of my relationships. it’s only just the beginning, but already it feels so good. so good to let others into my life. so good to involve them in the things that matter to me. so good to not need to paint any picture. so good to be free to ask rather than expecting, being disappointed, feeling frustrated, getting angry, sitting in pain, fear, distrust and shutting down or just cutting right through everything and entering a situation already shut down.

this journey back to self is so incredibly beautiful. inner battles fought to remove the walls that keep me from feeling supported and embraced. and with every victory i am rewarded with a reminder of what it means to live with and through love.

enigma

life is an enigma. i have always functioned under the assumption that there is some place that you get to in life where everything feels alright. as i have journeyed, it has only become clearer that alright doesn’t really exist. not as a stationary destination you can remain at forever. alright exists in between the currents of life. that moment of stillness after a wave has hit the shore and climbed to its highest, before it retreats back into the ocean. alright is being in the present and experiencing the present for what it is, with no questions or expectations of what things should be could be would be. alright is not an outcome. it is acceptance. and it is ever present as it is fleeting – just as our ability to remain in the now is.

the cyclical nature of life is such that it is constantly throwing you for a loop. questions = answers = certainty = action = experience = uncertainty =  loop. and no matter how much i work out, there is always more to understand. sometimes it is the only reason for hope. other times it is positively maddening. to believe one has it figured out is the work of ego. i have lots of ego. almost as much as i have love. i used to have more. ego, that is. and it fills me with the same familiar emotion – every few years when i make time to read through some old posts – a somewhat mundane realization of how little i understood in regards to what i spoke of prior to the experiences to come.

i think the biggest difference i feel in this stage of life is a sense of unknowing. contrary to the certainty i was prone to feeling in the past. perhaps i was chasing something and felt as though i was getting there. for the first time in my life, i don’t believe there is anything to chase anymore. i have all i could ask for. probably more. yet…there is still this feeling that something is not “alright”. but i no longer know what. nor do i have a plan.

could it be that i have reached my “goal” only to be faced with the reality that in the pursuit of that goal, i glazed over the details that truly mattered? it is wholly true to my character to be so focused on getting what i want that i do not stop to care about how i am getting it. to be impatient and therefor reckless.

or perhaps i have reached my goal and find the lack of something to aim for entirely uncomfortable. because to aim for is all i’ve ever known. all i’ve been taught.

i am allowing myself to sit in this uncertainty a little longer this time. i am widening the gap between questions and answers. and honestly, it feels quite numb. and a tad bit paralyzing. i have moved through most of my life by ego-lead-certainty. how could it be any other way when that is how i was raised? now that i am less certain and less enthusiastic about asserting my opinions, i just feel blank.

i wonder if blankness can be alright. if the absence of certainty and all the thoughts and feelings that form from it is a form of peace? there are moments where i am neither happy nor sad. that moment of stillness. but then the ocean begins to pull back and the lack of happiness, of all things, causes me to feel sad. so i am sad over nothing.

what if i can hold on to that stillness a little longer?

to be present is to quiet yourself. to let your senses take in everything as is. to observe, with no judgement. the sky is blue. the sun is incredibly bright. the fan is making a noise. the wind blows. the trees blow in the wind. the air is hot. my children laugh. or cry. i am reading the words off a book. this book has pictures. my child asks me a question. i think of an answer to the question. i continue reading the book. continue trying to be present.

a moment

flight or flight. it’s something i’ve been aware of conceptually for quite some time now. but recently i watched a documentary on stress and how the fight or flight response is only part of what is called the general adaptation syndrome, which exists in 3 stages. the alarm reaction stage where your fight or flight response is triggered. the resistance stage. and the exhaustion stage.

the first stage is pretty straightforward. it is one’s response to stress that triggers a series of physiological events. increased heart rate, release of cortisol and adrenaline etc. the second stage is what got me. after the initial shock of an event, the body begins to repair itself by entering a recovery phase. but some stressful situations continue for extended periods of time. if you don’t resolve the stress and your body remains on high alert, it eventually adapts and learns how to live with a higher stress level. in this stage, the body goes through changes that you’re unaware of in an attempt to cope with stress.

your body continues to secrete the stress hormone and your blood pressure remains elevated. you may think you’re managing stress well, but your body’s physical response tells a different story. if the resistance stage continues for too long of a period without pauses to offset the effects of stress, this can lead to the exhaustion stage (we’re all familiar with exhaustion)

it got me because what if i have spent more time in the resistance stage than i care to imagine. because taking a moment to allow it all to sink in, it is clear as day that the fight or flight mode has been activated for the majority of my life. amplified intensely by the departure of my mother and loss of home at 17.

it’s pretty easy to work out how my mum leaving and losing my safe space sent me spiraling into the abyss. the past 13 years are sufficiently fresh in the memory of my obsessive mind for me to analyse where being in a constant state of threat and exhaustion from stress would have caused me to behave in erratic, extreme and irrational ways (labelled as crazy by the outside world). i now know that i was trying to replace the safety i felt with my mum by searching for a relationship (not good), a person who would love me and accept me and give me a home. desperation, which caused a whole series of unintelligent decisions that have caused some serious ptsd.

going further back, i know my schooling years were filled with constant trauma, fear and triggers. i was always smart enough, but as i could never quite figure out how to get my homework done or be interested in the things that did not interest me, showing up for school day in and day out was my personal hell. knowing that at some point (or multiple points) throughout the day, i’d be asked to hand in my book. something i could not do, because of obvious reasons stated above. i believe i spent a few years in a state of constant fear and fatigue until i could no longer take it and decided to protect myself by attempting to not care (which was then labelled as rebellion and misbehavior).

but setting that aside, my struggle existed beyond homework and studying. i struggled socially as well. every morning/afternoon before school was filled with anxiety. as was every recess. not knowing if the few people i felt were my friends would be around for me to sit with. or if they were going to be there by themselves rather than in a group i did not feel a part of. having to sit alone. not that spending time with myself was ever a problem. i love my alone time. but sitting alone when i was surrounded by peers, the feeling of rejection or not being fun or cool or anything of value for anyone to want to come sit with me. the bell ringing was something i looked forward to, signaling an end to all the uncertainty of what i was supposed to do and knowing i could count on the consistency and comfort of having a fixed place in class…….but of course that was only temporary because of the homework issue above.

mhmm. just a roundabout of torture.

i believe being mixed race at a time where there were about 3 of us in total, meant that i never felt like i fit in anywhere. not with the chinese. not with the indians. and being mixed in a way where my mum was not really chinese and my dad was certainly not indian meant that for the most part, i had no identity. because i truly did not identify with anything. i do know that being mixed race is a very real struggle for most mixed people and we deal with identity issues throughout our lives. but that alone is not it. because i saw my mixed race peers thrive. as being mixed was not something that was looked down on. in fact, it was always a rather cool thing. and in all honesty, i don’t think i was ever invisible. i think i could have been just a regular accepted kid if i didn’t keep getting the better of myself.  if my anxiety and fears and discomfort didn’t keep getting in the way, causing me to act in all kinds of stupid ways, which only made things worse.

so then, i have to go back even further. which is where i struggle to know what i’m piecing together. because i don’t remember much prior to being 10. memories exist in small clips. there are happy ones, but there are also equally traumatic ones. relating to school and piano. i suppose that’s all normal. except that i was not a normal child. i highly excelled in the departments that i did (music, piano, certain subjects) and was top of the class and performed musical recitals. but i also spent half a year in primary 1 standing by the side of the door crying, refusing to enter. i was terrified. i remember on multiple occasions begging my mum to let me not go to school.

……was it the immense pressure to be great and knowing i could not that stressed me out? i don’t have recollection of my parents pushing me, but the feeling of needing to be special is embedded within me. as is the feeling of needing to be liked. it makes sense as far as thinking of my dad goes. because even though my memories are mostly of my mum, my dad is such a strong personality with VERY strong opinions and i feel as though the pressure to be special and liked came from him.

sometimes my mind is unable to shut off. because i believe the fight or flight has been triggered. even when i don’t want it to be. like, in the middle of the night. awake, unable to sleep despite trying to breathe it out. it happens less and less (partially thanks to the physical exhaustion of parenthood) but it happens nonetheless. the reason for trying to work all these things out is that i’d really like to know what is triggering this response. because i feel it trickle into my daily life. and i don’t know if the things i try to “fix” are a necessary job that needs to get done or an unnecessary obsession of looking for what’s broken that doesn’t need to be. where is the line?

i feel sufficiently happy with life, as in i have a home. i have a home that i love. my life has a direction and purpose. i am financially stable enough, more than i could have possibly imagined (considering i’m as good at work as i was with homework). i can pursue just about any creative outlet i seek. i am a mum. i love being a mum. i adore my daughter and can’t wait for the baby that’s on the way. i love being married and having stability in my relationship. i know all these things, and i do not pick them apart.

it is the finer details that gets to me. i believe i am still affected by the desire to be accepted and liked. something that is still touch and go because people’s emotions fluctuate. in some relationships i feel secure. in others i am uncertain. and in a few (the ones that remain present because i do not feel i have a say in), i do not. in my marriage, i feel uncertain. because while i know my husband loves me and is dedicated to our marriage 100%, he has his own struggles that make it a struggle for me to feel his love or presence fairly often. i believe this triggers my fight or flight.

and in those occasions, where perhaps i need to calm myself down to recover, i don’t feel i have set myself up well enough to do that. crafting is my go-to space. i have gotten good at breathing frustration away so i no longer escalate into a space of insanity. i could do with some yoga, which i struggle with in terms of discipline. but i feel as though a big one is the lack of social support of having friends and family to count on or go to. which refers to an absence of my mum, whom i still feel safest with. and an absence of friends (partially due to being in an faraway place, partially due to my inability to connect, partially due to not being like minded). emotional support that indirectly helps to sustain at times of chronic stress and crisis. like parenting. or having relationship struggles.

where/whom do i turn to? can i reduce the fight or flight being triggered? how do i get over this feeling of not having the connection i need? do i continue to seek it from a partner? in which case my husband does not fill that part of my cup. if i accept that my relationship is fine for what it is, where do i fill that part of my cup? should the changes be made internally or externally? removal or filling? a bit of both? i AM doing both. why does it keep going back to that space of alertness, trying to figure out what’s wrong. why does it wake me from my sleep and not let me go back? i feel as though i AM putting in the work to work through it instead of just numb it with distractions (although that does happen). should i just let it be? stop thinking? will that change the feelings? will it ever go away? or am i already built this way for good. that i have to keep facing the triggers. that all i can do is go through this loop again, until i have let all my thoughts run free, so i can be free. if even for just a moment.

running

in all honest observation, there are so many things currently running through my mind it’s keeping me from sleep. i’m not entirely sure if it’s that part of my cycle, or that there is something larger i am running from. or trying to figure out. as it is my nature to “figure things out”, sometimes it’s incredibly impossible to ignore the processes in my mind.

tonight i’ve worked something out. that this feeling of needing or wanting “love”. or better pinpointed as affection/attraction has little to do with being dissatisfied in my marriage and more to do with my yearning to do that dance. my addiction to the high it brings. because the excitement it brings is real. and while i know that an addiction is an addiction – aren’t we all addicted? to drugs, smoking, caffeine, drinking, gaming, the internet, success, money, luxury, sex, power.

the only difference is that everything else can be done to some moderate extent while still maintaining a happy marriage. can be and actually accomplished being two very different things.

what if, i will always want that high? and the deeper question, will monogamy leave me forever yearning? not able to have it in the slightest bit, because while a part of me craves the sensation, the stronger part of me is determined to have the picture perfect marriage with a picture perfect family. to not ruin that with things like inconsistency, separation and discontentment.

is the determination to make things work a byproduct of family trauma? or is it a necessary part of making any marriage work? is forever necessary? is forever natural? what if it isn’t, to some of us at least. yes, there are people happily married til death do they part. but there are so many unhappily married people as well. would things not be better off for some if the lines of what marriage is, were not drawn so absolutely?

not that i am unhappy. or by any means have a bad marriage. i have one of the better ones. it’s taken a while to get here, and at this point i’ve worked out that there is nothing “wrong” with my partner. nothing at all. he is just who he is. it is me that yearns for more. for something that no longer has any space in my life. and that yearning is not something that he could ever fulfill not by his fault, but by the very nature of the yearning. i’ve managed to very successfully keep it at bay for the entirety of our relationship (which is honestly more than i can say in regards to most of my previous relationships), but do i have to do it forever with this nagging yearning? is that what it will always be? is that the only way it can be?

the thing is, in making the commitment to accept that there is within me an addiction that i should not and will not give in to, it makes me expect similar in return. for my partner to quit the things that he wants, that i personally do not want as part of our life. to make and agreement and stick to it. but if my determination leads to expectation, how is that healthy? i’ve recently come to find the freedom and joy in allowing him the space to be his own person and experience what he wants. and i actually find it fair, and not disturbing within myself to allow him to do just that. of course, i’ve always been inclined to wanting others to do what makes them happy, but i’ve always struggled with accepting it probably because here i am, sacrificing all sorts of things to “make things work”.

what if i should not actually be sacrificing myself out of the fear that if i don’t, my relationship would not work? what if there is love that allows me to just be who i am?

i have always been an anxious preoccupied, insecure person. it has lead to all types of extreme behavior in my relationships and life. initially, i had no awareness of it whatsoever. i was just being me. but then i started becoming aware of the crazy and wondered why i had to be that way. i spent many years working on understanding myself. on letting my walls down. on facing myself. on seeing my trauma and the behavior that came from it that created the me i was being. then i began to set myself free. and i cannot say that i am not still filled with fears and anxiety, but i am able to recognize the cues and push through them with self love instead of ego. and i am with each passing day, more aware and more secure.

i have always chosen relationships out of fear. i have chosen people who are avoidant, unavailable, unable to love. because my personality type was comfortable in the seat of the pursuer. comfortable with feeling rejected and not good enough because that’s how i felt about myself. because that’s the way i was built, just as my mother was. i was unconsciously repeating her patterns. and the secure people who tried to love me, i rejected or ran from out of fear of destroying a relationship worth having because i was such a mess.

there is that fear, and it is so real. of actually having something worth having, and not being good enough for it. of failing. of being the one at fault for failure.

but what if i don’t want to choose out of fear anymore? what if there is love that allows me to be me. love that accepts me just as i am, just as i choose to be. love that does not have to be this or that. relationship or self. because that’s what someone like me feels, like some part of me is incorrect and has no place in a relationship because it will cause destruction. but if it’s truly a part of me, and truly a secure love, i shouldn’t fear destruction.

what if now i no longer fear myself, i yearn to experience the secure love i have run from all my life? what if i no longer want to be kept at arm’s length, chasing, sacrificing, pursuing. feeling unfulfilled.

what if i am not looking for a love that removes my desires and yearning to experience what i want in life, but a love that goes beyond that? to set free instead of set boundaries. because as i am learning and choosing to let go, to accept people for who they are, to love them as they are – there is a desire to be loved the same in return.

is that wrong? does choosing a reality i convince myself is the only option there is out of a fear of the unknown right? standing here staring at the other path feels like facing death. but in facing where the fear comes from, i remove it. because beyond death is more life. beyond loss is more love. beyond pain is healing. so – why fear, right?

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