stepping out

I’m so happy that I finally made the first step of taking lessons to improve my voice.

It’s a big accomplishment for me. I believe this is the start of greater things to come.

So here’s my scorecard:

Voice scorecard

Thank You Jesus. You gave me the courage to step out and pursue what I love.

I always had doubts about serving in worship in the kids ministry. So many times, I had wanted to throw in the towel, call it quits and just get on with life.

Perhaps, walking with the Lord gave me a clearer picture on what He wanted me to do with my life. Sure, we all have choices, and their resulting consequences. But I’ve made enough mistakes in life and I don’t want to risk another, and I just want to hear what He thinks I should do, before I set my heart on something.

When I reached the building where the vocal studio was located- it was tucked away in a dingy corner of an old mall built in the 80s, opposite a tattoo parlor – I just felt a comfortable sense of shalom and coherent wholeness, that I was on the right track of pursuing my passion.

It is never about the environment/ambiance. It’s about His presence, that lightness, that tangible heaven-on-earth glory, invisible but ever so real.

Which brings me to the topic of work. As in our 9-5 job. Unpalatable as reality is, we have to acknowledge that people today are becoming base, lowly, political and plain nasty. But, do I have to succumb to the temperature of the environment? Hasn’t Jeremiah mentioned, that for the righteous man, his leaf will always be green even in the heat of day? Here, we are applying Biblical truths in real life, or rather, bringing our life to the level of glory that the Lord has called us to.

You know what, I’ve decided. I will set the temperature, I will determine the environment. The choice is in my hands. I will bring the glory of heaven on earth. Even if I am the only one, so be it. I will stand alone, with the Lord on my side.

The Lord who went down to the Valley of Elah with David, is the One who is watching over me as I type this.

The Year of Jubilee. Let it flow, abundantly, visibly, from the spirit, to every area of my life. To God be the Glory. Amen.

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Love is sure hard to find

No idea when this space had become an outlet to chronicle my dates.

I went out with someone exactly a week ago. He is small sized, very intelligent, funny, a little unkempt with blackheads and a slight beer belly, Very direct, sharp, open, very cool, decisive. That slight ego of his, and intuition. Sexy stuff.

So, yeah he was opening up about his family – he said a lot of stuff, and I was absorbing it all. Very interesting, very witty. He could debate about political science topics, talk about his job, colleagues, church friends, family, background, and the girls he had gone out with. The conversation went pretty smoothly I remember. He probably thought I was smart and knowledgeable, slightly bitter and caustic, guarded and defensive- skirting topics which I felt I was not comfortable to share, like my relationship with my sister.

I believe he tried to make a connection by asking me about the details of my life, but he just did not feel it. My curve-ball tactics at dodging uncomfortable topics, the inability to be open and vulnerable about them, probably left him feeling that I was more of a colleague, a friend, than someone who he could share his heart with. I was cruising along in my default conversational mode, unaware of how he felt. Yes, I missed it. There I was, unwittingly enchanted by his beautiful soul and not revealing it, and there he was, growing more detached by the minute, yet not showing much trace of it.

He did not feel that special connection or vibe that comes by opening up, sharing my true emotions, experiences, fears, family; basically someone who is real, open and willing to be vulnerable.

I perfectly fine with that, but I just needed time. He didn’t give me that chance to be real with him. Honestly, all I needed was time.

By nature, I am an extremely sensitive, emotional, sentimental person who forms emotional bonds very quickly and strongly. Being strong to counter the forces of sadness by putting on a facade, is akin to an armor, a breastplate of sorts, to protect my fragile heart. In a cold lonely world, that’s the only way I know how to survive the storms; seek refuge in that little fortress in the form of my achievements, friends and travels. I don’t know a lot, but I know this has helped me survive. I just need a second date to share my heart.

He did not know that.

Reflecting on this lesson, since a first date is somewhat of an interview, it’s the only chance to make an impression with someone who could possible be your soulmate. Unnatural as it seems, on first date with someone you had met online, I guess you have to be open about your life story and put some tangible emotion in the stuff you share, such that the other person can feel that openness.

Yes, I have to admit, I was sad. He had ghosted. Rather abruptly actually, because his last text was an open-ended question.

I’m not sure if I will ever see him again, but one thing I’m sure of, I really do like him, but I’ll never get the chance to tell him that; not that it even matters to him, but at least, let me be real with myself for liking him.

I really like you, Wayne, if we ever meet again.

Love,

Stephanie

Always 2011

In a loveless world that spins around KPIs and errands, watching a romantic film can help rekindle that dimming hope that your lover is somewhere out there. If only our love stories could be so intricately scripted with a shower of gold dust from heaven.

When I was younger, I had dreams of marrying this wonderful specimen of a prince. I would spend pockets of time looking at my future wedding gown on pinterest, mostly off-shoulder ones with an A line train, duchess satin, with a veil and a tiara. Yep.

So year after year passed; no one seemed to have appeared.

So, I started using a dating app, in hope that one day, something magical would come out of it.

Honestly, it has been a lonely, cold journey of finding love.

I never knew that true love can be so elusive, rare, and precious.

In this season of a love drought, I chanced upon this Korean film, Always.

An intricately-spun love story between an ex-boxer and a blind telemarketer, couldn’t be further from a fairytale. Two poor folk, with issues threatening to tear them apart, eventually find a way back into love. Despite the complicated web of circumstances and fate.

So Ji Sub. Han Hyo Joo.

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I guess when you’re in love with someone who picks you, that’s the most beautiful kind of love in the world.

There was this scene when Hyo Joo, an ex-sculpture student, attempts to ‘see’ Ji Sub, by trailing her fingers across his gorgeous face, and absorbing the image in her head. That moved me to tears. Had not cried so hard at a film scene in a really long time.  And when you fall hard in love, words take their place and fade into the backdrop. You love him by opening your legs and letting him come in hard and strong, exposing all vulnerability because that’s the only choice your heart can make.

Watch this if you’re bored of high school idol romance dramas, or you need to hope again, that true love, albeit imperfect, exists.

And also, if you’re looking for love,use a dating app, cos real life ain’ a script out of a Korean Drama.

You are your own scriptwriter.

A Father’s touch

Having been brought up in a relatively conservative Singaporean Chinese family, love is rarely expressed through hugs, and ‘I love you’ is rarely verbalized. If it has to be, it often carries a tinge of restrain.

I have often had misunderstandings with my father, largely due to differences in our personality and outlook of life.

I have always entertained thoughts of moving abroad to create a life of my own, not just to get a respite from the typical rat-race Asian way of life, but also to experience and immerse in Western culture, which has fascinated and enchanted me deeply. I love the way how a white guy can approach you in a cafe just to strike up a casual conversation just because the the flowers look gorgeous in full bloom, or that he thinks your dress is pretty, with no strings attached. Okay, my fascination goes beyond such superficial points.

Bottom line is, I want to work abroad and I need to learn to take care of myself, be independent, cook and do laundry myself, and even be my own handyman and plumber if the bulb blows or if a cockroach flies through my window. And yep, practice begins right at home.

Yesterday, my bulb had blown and I thought to myself, “Time to fix the bulb yourself”.

I dragged the ladder out of the storeroom, got my father’s help to steady the ladder and support my back as I gingerly unscrewed the two spoiled lamps, handed them over to him, and replaced them with the brand new ones. So he was there to Quality Control (or rather, Quality Assurance) the whole process, my first attempt at a seemingly easy task, aged 25.

A father’s touch. It reminded me of the time he taught me to ride a bike. He steadied the bike seat and had my back, and gradually let go as I tried to focus on cycling straight, wobbling hopelessly from left to right till I finally found my balance to cruise ahead.

He has been doing that ever since in life, supporting me, through the heartbreaks, the trash dates, the happy times, the peaks, the valleys, and has never let go.

I have never doubted his love for me; I don’t think he would bear to let me go, even when the time comes for him to walk me down the aisle.

Here’s a post for you, Dad. In honor of Father’s Day, in a week’s time.

I love you.

We may be very different in the way God made us; our views, our temperament and personality. But your unconditional love for me has made me understand that a Father’s love is something very special and to be cherished, beyond any kind of romantic love any guy can give me, or will give me.

College – Does it really make you valuable in today’s economy?

Let me first chronicle my personal experiences in transiting to the working economy after graduation. I had graduated with a degree in Chemistry, pretty general track of studies I would say. The school I had attended was relatively new, and modules were disorganized; and very much related to the respective professors’ field of research and had little related to real world industries. Education quality was very clearly the least of the dean’s concerns, as they were more drawn to the prospect of jetting up the school’s rankings through the route of mass publishing of research papers.

So yep, armed with a general science degree, I wandered about aimlessly navigating the swamped job market with little advice or direction. Needless to say, that vague sense of hopelessness began to overwhelm me. Sure, there were a myriad of jobs out there, but when I scrolled through the requirements section, it seemed that my resume failed to fit the bill. Chemistry related industries requested job specific skills and certs, which my educational background did no justice to. Clearly something had gone wrong with the Singaporean educational system. How could I fork out thousands every semester, slogged like a nocturnal creature to get through the exams, and end up so ‘unemployable’ in the sight of a prospective employer? This did no justice to the pain and sacrifice I had endured through the journey of nailing exams. In such a paper nation, traditional universities seemed to have failed in their purported duty to educate and skill the workforce in an ever changing work environment.

While I do not condone the personal duty of seeking self improvement by exercising vigilance to reskill as acording to the changing work trends, I see that universities really need to buck up in answering to students who pay copious amounts for school fees, that the end product of an university education justifies its cost. We are talking about legit, usable skills that people need to have before they leave school, not just the ability to take exams well and get first class honours.

After decades of shortsighted emphasis on paper grades, society has finally awoken from its slumber, seeing massive powers like China charge ahead with original innovations, technology and even space programmes. This is a true mark of a first-world nation – the ability to identify and solve problems by self-inventing technology, engineering solutions that will be sought after by the world. Clearly not borrowing and buying foreign technology, and importing ‘foreign-talent’ and giving them the leeway to leech off funds to innovate just for them to leave eventually, and neglecting citizens. What a silly way of governance.

With the emergence of learning programmes that aim to fit workers into industries more seamlessly, yes, I agree that finally, some work has been done to plug the skills gap in the local economy, albeit a little too late. Yep and of course, I capitalized on such opportunities and am currently being trained for a specialized role in a high-value manufacturing industry. Eventually I have plans to move abroad to learn more and solidify my career, as I feel that learning can plateau in such a tiny place.

Just some personal thoughts. Why not Singapore borrow a leaf from Germany’s book, and invest more in analyzing trends in the economy to come,? And work closely with universities to tailor degree courses that prepare students to go straight into industries? It saves a great deal of time, stress, and money. The students will thank you for it, which will translate to loyalty to your government, which is what you have been dying to buy since the wave of ‘political dissent’ that has emerged in recent years?

 

Biologics in the world today

I think it’s about time I started a blog on biologics. I’m currently enrolled on a programme to train me for the biologics sector locally, and I am so excited about the prospects of where this would take me. It’s quite closely related to my college major in biological chemistry, and learning about the power of proteins in curing and preventing diseases is incredibly meaningful and exciting. I have to say, I’ve been living thus far just for this job. Everyday I wake up grateful, knowing that it can only be the Lord who opened this door in the backdrop of an economic malaise.

Roche has a big presence in Germany and Switzerland in the biopharma sector, so do major pharma firms like GSK and Novartis and more. Working overseas has always been a lifelong dream. To girls whose chief aim in life is to get married and settle down, I say, dream bigger, think higher. There’s just so much life has to offer; you just have to get out there, throw yourself out into the unknown and be brave to get into the thick of things without carrying too much baggage. Be steadfast, mentally resilient and quick on your feet.

Yep, I’m currently halfway through a book; ” The Vaccine Race ” by Meredith Wadman. My current scope deals with the quality of Vaccines before manufacture, and I thought this book would fit me really aptly. So yep, I’m off to mug for a pharma cleanroom module test. Wish me well, till my next post 🙂

 

Croatia & Slovenia – Eastern Europe

Yep, I am having tangible withdrawal effects from Croatia and Slovenia. The men are terribly gorgeous – after you’ve seen and talked to them, you would be immune/ indifferent to local men. I remember this impossibly hot waiter from a Ljubljana cafe, Robba, helping us with menu choices. His features were so gorgeous; he was tall, well-built with a high nose and a 5 o’clock shadow.  I would have been content gazing into his dark brown eyes for a minute.

On the plane back home, some British guy winked and nudged at me. Thought that was pretty cute zomg!!

Flirting aside, I was truly mesmerized by nature and scenery that Eastern Europe had to offer. Old Yugoslavia is quaint, charming and one-of-a-kind. You see the imprints of Communist rule and Western occupation in their architecture, infrastructure and food. Weather during spring is beautiful and crisp; the temperate breezes made walking on the street worth relishing. Colorful blooms were everywhere; by the streets, in bouquets in a lady’s arms, at farmers’ markets. The Postojna Caves in Slovenia were completely breathtaking in every sense of the word. Magnificent rock formations from many years of limestone erosion- through rainwater and lakewater – created artfully-shaped spikes in all shapes and sizes throughout the cave. Reddish hues of iron oxide and grey touches of manganese covered those half-a-million-year-old stalagmites and stalactites. Chemistry never felt so meaningful to me before.

cave

The Piltvice National Park in Croatia was just as magical- mighty waterfalls gushed endlessly. Ducks were seen waddling around in pairs, presumably in their mating season. I have not seen a prettier shade of aquamarine and turquoise as the sun shone into the waters, creating temporary diamonds dancing across the rivers.

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Temperatures were on the chilly side, but all that stood out was the immaculate scenery laid out before my eyes; almost sacred to behold. These two attractions overshadowed the many cathedrals and castles that I had visited in this trip. Baroque architecture and their history is charming in its own right, like Zagreb Cathedral and Bled Castle, but nothing beats the beauty of Mother Nature.

Kids in Europe looked happier than Singaporean ones. I saw them running around uninhibited, cheeks red and chubby, their peals of laughter embellishing the night air. Women and men looked gorgeous; as if they had just steeped out from some runway catalog.

Why Lord why? The proportion of handsome men are simply unfairly distributed. 24 hours ago, the land I stepped on had men that looked like they had just descended from some celestial realm. Hot men were everywhere. Sexy sexy ones.

It has always been a dream of mine to work overseas and settle there for good. Preferably to marry some German or Austrian, or even Slovenian or Brit. To make gorgeous mixed-race babies and live happily ever after. To study in an European university.

While entertaining these grandiose fantasies and walking through the arrival hall, reality hit as a wave of warm air tingled by skin. Silly Singlish accents, faces buried in their phones posting away on Instagram, long immigration queues were all around me.

Well, fairy tales eventually have an epilogue. As I end of this post reflecting on my trip to old Yugoslavia, I tuck these precious travel memories into a secret pocket in my heart. Where would 2017 bring me to? Holy Land? Germany?

I would want to look forward to better things in life, more opportunities, open doors, friends, vacations and exhilaration. Travelling has enlarged my heart so much, and therefore that extra room has to be filled with more purpose and focus, such that I can keep on giving and going.

3 Days in Bangkok

As a Singaporean, Bangkok remains a place that charms in terms of cuisine, culture, lifestyle and price point. While prices for designer labels in upscale malls like (Terminal 21) are similar worldwide, the crowd-drawers are the night markets.

terminal 21
Inside terminal 21!
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At Ratchada Night Market

steph at ratchanda

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Ain’t my manicure pretty heh

I am indeed fascinated my their modes of transportation. A tuk tuk ride costs more than a cab/grabcar ride. However, it’s worth noting that vehicular transport is inefficient as their jams are legendary. The subway is a better way to get to your destination on time. We had almost missed our flight due to a jam on the road, and thankfully managed to catch the check-in time by the skin of our teeth. Singaporeans may view Changi Airport as another mall in the east, but after stopping by foreign airports, I do appreciate the poshness and organisation of Changi. On the same point of transportation, while Singapore has only recently embarked on bikeshare as a complimentary mode of transport to walking, Bangkok already has an established bikeshare network. Also, people there get around via boats that stop at regular stops just like buses.

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En route Ratchanda Night Market via boat, we passed by rows of attap houses and element-worn parapets coated with graffiti. It was an interesting insight into a different way of life, one that metropolitan city dwellers are unfamiliar with. Pollution tends to be evident with the skyline sometimes muted with a hint of grey. Trees are sparse as well.

Street food stalls packed with locals are a must-try –  an authentic taste of local Thai fare like salt-grilled tilapia and Chang beer, which was rather palatable due to its subtle malt taste that does not overpower the senses, from a perspective of someone who does not fancy beer.

street stall
Street Food!

st food bkk

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And more..

When I visit a foreign land, I always make it a point to source for ethnic garments that compliment my style. I managed to get a Thai print maroon wrap skirt, and I find the silk finishing so enchanting to look at. A very classy and artistic piece of fabric that offers my wardrobe some variation. I also got myself and my mum a jade-coloured cashmere shawl with gold threading. I thought the intricate patterns looked really regal and expensive, like something worn by royalty. I even had a chance to haggle prices with the ladyboys peddling these wholesale goods. Just a random thought; there are people out there who so badly want to be a woman. Perhaps I should embrace the beauty of being born as one, instead of secretly lamenting and gender favoritism that exists in today’s world?

All in all, it was an interesting eye opener. I don’t expect myself to visit Thailand in the next 5 years, but the hospitality of the people had genuinely warmed my heart. Good morals and consideration for the sphere beyond self are not entities that can be engineered by textbook education or instructions. I believe it comes from an observant, reflective and restful heart, which understands the beauty of enjoying the present and appreciating everything in life as a gift from above. This insight is the most valuable thing I have brought back home, an experience that surpasses manicures, massages, shopping or feasting.

skyline bkk
So long bkk