🍁November🍁

November Update

I feel very sheepish about posting half-baked ideas, particularly the ones that I am still labouring to process. However, I am a practicing imperfectionist, who is learning to embrace the idea that: if I wait for all my ideas and research to be perfect, then I may have missed the most valuable element: time. Or, in the words of Alex Hormozi, whose work ethic I revere: “By the time you have complete information, the opportunity has closed.

So here I am, squirming to post these raw, unrefined thoughts but posting them nonetheless. 🥂 To stepping outside of our comfort zone.

November came and went in the blink of an eye. I am still trudging through my “third-life crisis”, trying to discern which axioms to best live my life by. While I have been holding tightly onto the people who love me and remind me of the essence of who they know me to be, I also know that I have strayed into the company of vague acquaintances and surfaced conversations. My excuse is that: after long hours of working, learning, and deliberating about the directions for the next stage of my life, sometimes my mind just needs a break, an escape. While I am not too proud of those nights out, nor the company that I had kept, I think they just might be necessary to preserve my sanity for the moment.

Besides my struggle to equilibrate between Romanticism and Pragmaticism (as per my October update), I have also been vacillating between living in the present and planning for the future. Specifically:

How Does One Hope for the Future and Live in the Present Simultaneously?

There are countless wisdom and philosophies about the only path to pure and absolute happiness in living in the present,
and just as much teachings about striving for the future. Here’s what I mean:

Present

True happiness is… to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future.

Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.

Eckhart Tolle

You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.

Henry David Thoreau

Future

We have always held to the hope, the belief, the conviction that there is a better life, a better world, beyond the horizon.

Franklin D. Roosevelt


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.

Albert Einstein


Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.

Thich Nhat Hanh


Our human compassion binds us the one to the other – not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learnt how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.

Nelson Mandela

If these two concepts weren’t dichotomic, then perhaps I wouldn’t be having such a hard time.

Anyways! Here are some photos for those of you who are more visually inclined:

November in Pictures

Whistler getaway with mom&dad💙
Went blonde again after some years
Celebrating beautiful girl friends💙

That’s it from me! Thank you for reading, and for being part of this journey with me💙 Until next time!

My Andie

In the last month, a couple people have proffered that I be theirs.

“I want you to be mine,” they said, despite not having the slightest clue as to how they’d steward me. We don’t even claim ownership over a pet without knowing how to properly steward them, yet some men seem to think women would require less commitment than a pet?

I think I would have found it more romantic if they were to have first asked me what it’d take for me to remotely consider being theirs. But I guess that would have ended up nowhere either, for I would’ve shared with them this quote from Jane Eyre:

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will

Jane Eyre

Right. At this point, you probably think I am impossible. But I am not! I was once upon a time someone’s ‘My Andie’; though, it was a long time ago now.

I remembered how he used to call me “My Andie”—more notably, how I allowed him to call me his. I retraced our story back to the beginning, to figure out what was different about him, about that relationship.

He wasn’t the first (or the only) person who tried to call me theirs, but why he was the only one to whom I surrendered my independence?

I remembered the very first time when I landed in LAX, he was already waiting for me, flowers in his hands. He teared up when he saw me—long distance had that effect on lovers. He gave me an American SIM that was already paid for, in case I didn’t have a roaming plan. When I arrived at his, there were snacks and drinks that I had briefly mentioned previously in our conversations, crisp linens and fresh towels, as well as a few other small gifts that he had collected whenever he had thought of me—nothing extravagant but all ever so thoughtful: travel size lotion, a book, resistance bands for working out (because I used to use them every day).

When I come across pictures he’s taken of me, I’d see how profoundly loved I was through his eyes. Although we no longer have the same love for each other, it was the best souvenir he could’ve given me.

At that time he was still consulting for a firm, so every now and then he would have to go into the office for meetings. While he worked, I used to wander the city alone. He gave me his credit card, insistent that he took care of all my Uber and other expenses. I never used the card; it was never about the money. How much could Uber rides have cost? It was his generosity in offering me the best of his resources—time, attention, energy, affection, money—instead of what was leftover of them.

He understood both the hopeless romantic, as well as the pragmatic logistician in me, and meticulously planned our adventures accordingly—remembering all my travel preferences and dietary sensitivities. He took care of me down to every quantum detail.

I think it was in those quantum details that he’d won me over. It was the first, and only time, I felt someone else was invested in taking better care of me than I did myself. So when he called me his Andie, I relaxed into it, without much, or any, protest.

For the best of my life, I refuse to belong to anyone, or even to anywhere. I am ardent about being free. Don’t get me wrong, I have been in a few committed relationships, just not one in which I felt that I belonged to them. Even in my readings, I often resonate with characters that are transient in nature:

Other people were destined to keep leaving, over and over again.—Alix Ohlin

Or,

I should have known even then that the sea was written in him, that there would be some sort of leaving.— Let the Great World Spin

In my heart and mind, I feel unmoored, unanchored. Though, I still am unsure of why.

I wonder if it is because I am never fully willing to relinquish my fierce independence and unfettered freedom? Or, perhaps it is because I struggle to entrust myself to someone else?

And this, is how we have arrived at: Andie Untamed.


The Light We Carry

These days my heart and mind are at war.

While my mind is vehemently trying to rid me of my romanticism, my heart is shrieking in painful protest. As I attempt to re-evaluate the axioms that have governed how I used to best live my life, I have been met with a grave sense of loss, of angst. I am no longer certain that—loving well—is how I want to be remembered by.


My mind wrestles with questions such as:

“To whom does it matter how I loved?”

“What if I choose selfishness this time around, and prioritize my own desires first?”

“What if monogamous romantic relationships are just manipulated social constructs that religions use to puppet their believers? And my obstinate resolve in achieving them is only yielding me endless heartbreak and disillusion?”

When is enough, enough?”

Struggling to find my footing, I haven’t been able to find a book that consoles and anchors my heart, until I came across Michelle Obama‘s The Light We Carry. Her voice has served as a soothing and gentle reminder of the person I aspired to be.

When we are able to recognize our own light, we become empowered to use it

–Michelle Obama

Through her words, I feel seen. I feel more at ease with how much my mind has been oscillating between “it’s all too much” and “I’ve got this”, between “I love LOVE” and “LOVE doesn’t pay bills”, so on and so forth.

I still have no concrete answer to my own questions, which means I am still standing at an impasse—the most psychologically excruciating place for my mind to be. But here I am, learning to sit in this discomfort once again, focusing on small things one day at a time.

So while the light within me may have been temporarily dimmed, I am on a quest to find the fire that will reignite my soul and set it alight once more.

Until then, THANK YOU for being a part of this journey with me. If you, too, are grappling between feeling overwhelmed and “I got this”, know that you are not alone! With one foot in front of the other, we are going to get there. Perhaps not at the timing that we would’ve liked, but we will get there. Keep shining❤️✨

Emotional Agility

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

—Susan David, “Emotional Agility

I find myself anthropomorphizing Life and Universe, a lot. I know it’s not unique to me but I do often catch myself saying or thinking: Life/Universe has a strange sense of humour.

Last week I wrote about Flexibility versus Rigidity in fitness and dietary routines. Simultaneously I was also processing and learning about our emotional intelligence (EQ). I chuckled in my head when I came across Susan David’s book “Emotional Agility” after I had written my post.

“‘Agility!’ It’s that word again! Universe has a strange sense of humour.” I thought to myself. “It must be guiding me through my lessons for this season.”
(I don’t actually think the Universe lines up lessons. The same way I am not sure if everything happens for a reason. I mean, if the Law of Action-Reaction and the natural order of consequences count as “reasons”, then yes. Otherwise, I am agnostic.)

Oops, I digressed. I am still working on keeping my writing tight. Back to Emotional Agility.

How does Emotional Agility differ from Emotional Intelligence?

Succinctly summarized by Andy Brett, Emotional Intelligence is: “the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions.. [and] to shift negative patterns to more positive ones.”

Emotional Agility, on the other hand, is the ability to recognize your patterns, without necessarily changing them. It is about living in a way that allows you to align with your core values in life.

How Does One Become More Emotionally Agile?

There were quite a number of techniques that Susan David had outlined in her book, amongst them there were three that particularly stood out for me:

Continuity of Self

Continuity of Self is a term in psychology that refers to one’s connection to their past, present, and future self. You know that exercise in which you write letters to your younger self? That’s one of the common exercises you can do to strengthen your Continuity of Self.

This continuity is important in helping you examine what your core values are, how they were formulated, and how to best support and live in accordance to them. Not so surprisingly, this concept of aligning one’s behaviour to their core values is not a new one. In fact, it is similar to Viktor Frankl’s psychotherapeutic method—one that he had devised whilst trying to survive the Nazi concentration camp—to help his patients find purpose, and consequently: their meaning of life.

Emotional Granularity

Emotional Granularity is the ability to express feelings with a high degree of accuracy and precision. For example, instead of broadly categorizing your feeling as “stressed”, dissect this feeling into more detail. Are you feeling overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do? Are you feeling anxious about not being able to complete certain task? Once you can identify the granular details of your emotional state, you can better address it. While sometimes you may just need to hold that feeling, other times you may be able to come up with a plan to alleviate it.

Self-compassion

Extend yourself the compassion you would a beloved friend, family. Understand that going through that range of emotion is part of the human experience, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with not feeling rainbows and sunshines all the time. In fact, are there anyone who only feels rainbows and sunshines?

Self-compassion also means not caving into Toxic Positivity.

  • 🚫”Positive Vibes Only!”
  • 🚫”Don’t worry, be happy!”

Toxic Positivity invalidates and negates the gravity and weight of emotions and our experience. It creates this unhealthy illusion that it is possible to have one’s life together, all the time; along with the implication that: if others have their lives together but you don’t, there must be something wrong with you.

NO. No, No, No, No, NO!
No one’s life is perfect, not even remotely close. Allow yourself to experience your emotions, hold them. Avoid minimizing and hiding them away. Bravery is holding gaze with your fear and discomfort, recognizing that life can be hard, but you soldier on anyway.

Because after all, growth happens outside of your comfort zone!

For the record, just like all the other topics I write about, I definitely do not have life all figured out. I will be the first to admit that there are still so much work to do, so much room for improvement. However, what I have figured out and committed to, is that I will tirelessly learn and grow, even if it takes a few million iterations. It all started with Andie 1.0, then Andie 2.0, and maybe one day I’ll get to Andie 5,172,321.0.

Thank you for reading! I hope it has offered you a modicum of insight.❤️

A little background about Susan and where Emotional Agility has been integrated.

Ego-tripping

In one of psychologist David Elkind famous researches, adolescence experience this phenomenon known as the “imaginary audience“, whereby they think that every move of theirs is being watched with rapt attention (Holiday). Unfortunately, some adolescence never grow out of this fantasy when they enter into adulthood. Perpetuated by social media and this false pretence of individual importance, some people develop this vainglorious pomposity—posting incessant selfies upon selfies, details of their meals and outfit, and some even the type of creamer they use in their coffee.

Did Icarus not demonstrate what happens to the hubris of human?

More importantly, when did we allow ourselves to become consumers of such content?
Why did we allow ourselves to become perpetuators, cheerleaders, to such vanity and self-absorbance?

Vivre sans temps mort. (Live without wasted time.)

Wildly humbling and eye-opening. I love how nimble and sharp Holiday’s words and thoughts are.

3 Tips on Rewiring Your Neuroplastic Brain to Be Happier

The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts

Marcus Aurelius

Our experiences that inform our perception of reality and our behaviour are built upon both explicit and implicit memories. Explicit memory, are the ones we can actively recall; whereas implicit memory, are much less articulable. They are our expectations, modes of relationships, emotional proclivities, and outlooks on life. Interestingly, many studies have shown that what shapes our perception of the world, are predominantly unconscious. In other words, in order to effectively and meaningfully rewire our brain for a more positive, optimistic, happier outlook, we need to consciously work on our subconscious.

1. Understand the Negativity Bias of Your Memory

In order to work on your subconscious, it is important to understand this: our memory has an innate, biological preference to not only hold onto, but also intensify, negative memory. Evolutionarily, this bias has been instrumental in keeping us safe, by preventing us from repeating the same mistakes, from traversing back into dangerous, hopeless territory.

The sheer act of recognizing and identifying how your memory gravitates and magnifies negative experiences will allow you to take a deep breathe when you are faced with a less pleasant experience, and to mindfully interrupt the pattern of intuitively cataloguing the negative aspects of this experience as the dominant, default baseline reaction for the future.

2. Actively Seek Out Good News

Besides Negativity Bias, we are also susceptible to two other biases: perceptual bias and response bias. Both of these biases happen when we are motivated to shape our perception to better suit our intents and purposes. To favourably utilize these biases in rewiring your brain, you can actively seek out good news; this will motivate and prime your perceptual and response biases to perceive and translate the received neurological signals positively.

3. Bask Yourself in Good News

Now that you have carefully curated and fostered more positive experiences, the final step is to securely fasten them onto your implicit memory, to your subconscious, so they become the intuitive, default physiological and psychological response for the future.

Since your implicit memory is derived from your emotions and bodily sensations, the key to fortifying and securing your positive experiences to fully immerse yourself in the visceral responses of them.

And there you have it—3 simple steps to a happier life!

Isn’t it humbling and mind-blowing to think that: every time we consciously work on our subconscious, we are literally, synapse by synapse, rewiring our brain?

Relish in moments like these🤍

Most Impactful Book that Changed How I Do Relationships

Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find—and Keep—Love

True love, in the evolutionary sense, means peace of mind.

I used to find myself in similar relationship patterns, with: passionate, exciting, noncommittal partners. For the longest time, I thought that was what love was—electrifying butterfly feelings in my stomach, intense highs, and invariable crashes and lows that came with such unsustainable highs.

Until I read Attachment and understood that:

an activated attachment system is not passionate love.

Mature love is actually grounding and safe. Our partner should be our home, our safe haven. Perhaps what makes this new understanding of attachment really challenging, is that: how do we find someone who excites us and anchors us at the same time? Someone who, not only do we share peaks together (those are easy), but also valleysespecially valleys.

Perhaps ultimately what we are asking ourselves is essentially: is this person a playdate or a partner with whom we can safely unfold this beautifully intricate life that is imbued with both sparkles and heartbreaks?

3 Books that Anchor My Life

There are many books that I love but there are only 3 that I keep a physical copy close to me so I can revisit at least a few times every year: The Little Prince, The Alchemist, and Eat, Pray, Love.

To know these 3 books well is to know the guiding compass and the governing principles of my life.

These 3 books have grown up with me since my twenties and despite having read them innumerable times, I continue to learn something about life and about myself from them.

The Little Prince

I must have first read The Little Prince when I was in my early twenties. It started off as a book I read to the kids, then it suddenly dawned on me how much childlike spirit I had lost when I caught glimpse of myself in all those absurd characters that the Little Prince had encountered in the story.

‘Grown-ups are very fond of numbers. When you tell them about a new friend, they never ask you the kind of questions that should be asked, such as: “What kind of voice does he have?” “What are his favourite games?” “Does he collect butterflies?”

Instead they ask: “How old is he? How much money does his father earn?”

They really do imagine this is the best way to discover what sort of person he is!’

The Little Prince

Since then, I made a point to frequently revisit the book, particularly in the month of May, to remind myself of the modest, humble, innocent essentials in life.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

The Alchemist

The first time I read The Alchemist, I didn’t understand most of its analogies. I didn’t understand the pursuit of the personal legend, I didn’t understand the desert, the wind, the oasis, the alchemy, the treasure, the sheep—the magic and the grandeur of life, of the world.

I was so young, so caught up in my own growing up and fear of being left behind that I had missed what was sacrosanct—the journey of life itself.

Because I don’t live in either my past or my future. I’m interested only in the present. If you can concentrate always on the present, you’ll be a happy man. You’ll see that there is life in the desert, that there are stars in the heavens, and that tribesmen fight because they are part of the human race.

Life will be a party for you, a grand festival, because life is the moment we’re living right now.

The Alchemist

Over the years I have slowly gotten better at listening to the “soul of the world”, at living and letting live, at understanding my specklike existence against the immensity of the universe and the absurdity of trying to assert any semblance of control.

Eat, Pray, Love

Let go, and watch the stars come out—on the outside and on the inside.

Eat, Pray, Love

I resisted reading Eat, Pray, Love for the longest time because I abstinently refused to read “hype” books.

But life has a strange sense of humour and somehow Eat, Pray, Love found me when I most needed it—in a puddle of tears on my bathroom floor, where Elizabeth Gilbert was as well, when she first started writing the book.

Eat, Pray, Love was not like the previous two books from which I uncovered some blind spots and had a metamorphic experience. It did, however, offered great solace and hope while I healed and transformed.

The day is ending. It’s time for something that was beautiful to turn into something else that is beautiful. Now, let go.

I still find myself reaching for it when I need a reminder of how resilient I am, of how strong my love is, of how to hold onto my romantic ideologies about people, about the world, when it hurt all too much to.

YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW STRONG MY LOVE IS!!!!!!!!!

Between all 3 books, I have the wisdom, the courage, and the solace to soldier on while loving fervently and fearlessly.

Tender is the Night—Fitzgerald

Tender is the Night

 

I couldn’t resist and started reading Tender is the Night. (It has been every bit as beautiful as you had described it to be—thanks, Tony!) As I catch myself sinking into the world of Fitzgerald and my heartbeat slowing to the cadence of his words, I wonder how I have become such a sucker for words? I hate to admit this because it sounds so stupid but if I have a natural ‘type’ (aka my kryptonite), it’d be those whose thoughts are nimble, whose craft is in wordsmithing.