Sunday, December 29, 2013

preparing for 2014

The last weekend of the year and a great time for a proper closure. I have a habit of setting goals every year and at the end of the year, I close it by looking at what has been accomplished, and what hasn't.

This was what was left outstanding at the end of this year:
  • Get to the next business achievement bracket (Goal:3GAV) (60% completion)
  • Receive at least one award this year
  • Read the whole Bible through (about 30% completed)
  • Take part in one fencing competition
  • Clear student debt
And this was what was completed:
  • Remove the dots (10/1)
  • Take a class in Bahasa Indonesia (24Mar-16Jun)
  • Do one thing on the bucket list (Cruised)
  • Renovate the office (Done)
  • Volunteer in something I believe in
  • Travel out at least once (BKK 8Mar, Hawaii)
  • Serve in a ministry
  • Read at least 12 books (Read:14)
  • Set date for jaw surgery
Nine out of fourteen. At 65%, I suppose more could have been done this year. And yet, looking back at the year, I think I'm finishing alright. The balance sheet is closing well, my heart is still healing, but at least I'm still alive. 

What I've learned (or lessons I was reminded of) from 2013
  • You cannot run away from anything inside of you - no matter how far you go, how much you try to change your environment, how much you try to change yourself, if something is unresolved in you, you can never run far enough.
  • Love hurts sometimes - but if there is any hurting, it's always internal to yourself, never to another.
  • Other than the hand of God, you have some control of your life and you just need to stop thinking and take action sometimes.
  • Sometimes the right answer cannot be found anywhere else but inside your heart.
  • Sometimes the right answer isn't to be made by you.
  • Time doesn't heal, hope does.
  • There are times in life where you need to decide who are the people you want to stay in your life, and who you want to stay with. "Be where you are celebrated, not just tolerated."
  • Be grateful for the people who love you.
  • Remember that where there is life, there is hope. As long as you are still alive, you have a purpose.
  • Between giving and receiving, always choose to give. 
  • You cannot nurture someone who doesn't want to grow.
  • You cannot give everyone all of yourself, or anyone all of your heart. Choose wisely.
  • Life can change drastically at anytime. Be grateful for everything you have.
Totally unglamourously taken,
but this is the widest smile I could pull.
Now I know why the photographer
kept saying "don't smile so wide".
Point taken? Gosh, 2 weeks...
2014 is expected to be a year of change and adjusting to a new road ahead. Next year will be a year of big personal changes and of business and personal (intellectual, emotional and physical) development. Perhaps next year will be the year where I finally find stability in the business and take one step out of the door and test the waters outside a little. I believe I'm scheduled for a trip to Cambodia, India and Sri Lanka in 2014. And hopefully, will get a chance to visit England if I can.

One of my biggest goals is to have one of my staff receive an award next year - I think that will be one of my greatest rewards next year. And perhaps I'll head toward understanding and getting involved in some sustainability work in terms of food security. 

But for now, or at least for the next month ahead, my focus is going to be about my surgery and perhaps getting used to a new life.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

post-surgery projection mould

I finally got one of these shots of my post-surgery projection moulds (which everyone else seems to have).
The white curve is where my jaw is now, and the green is where it should/will be after the surgery.
Do you see that lower jaw difference?! Shocking. 0_o"
So I've gone for my "final consultation" with Surgeonman and all that's left before the surgery are the tests with the anesthetist and the blood donation sometime next week. My surgery has been moved to the 10th of January because of some administrative scheduling shifts so now I have an extra week to get things in order (*phew*).

Interestingly, my jaw has somehow randomly been very stiff these two days - specifically in my lower jaw around the hinge area. I don't know if it's a pure physical coincidence that signs of jaw-stress is happening now, whether it's caused by psychological stress from the fact that the surgery is approaching, or whether it's just stress in general from work and trying to get everything in order that's getting to me, but it's really uncomfortable. It's almost like experiencing a closed locked jaw of some sort and that the stress of prolonged tight clenched teeth is headed to the hinges. Is this normal?

Less than two weeks to the surgery now...

Sunday, December 22, 2013

closing the year

It’s the weekend before Christmas and a good time to wrap up the year.

2013 has been a year of struggles – working through the shock of a relationship torn apart, depression, mole excisions, losing an astounding amount of weight, facing difficult situations, running to Hawaii for a few months of healing, heading back to renewed vision for the business, and now two weeks to my jaw surgery… it’s been a year of challenges and changes.

At the same time, I suppose it has also been a year that I can be grateful for – for friends who have stood by me and fought with me regardless of the crap life has thrown my way, for family who have been patient with me working through new challenges this year, for new friendships who have entered and inspired me, to a new sense of power and control over some of life (instead of a depressive, defeatist cloud that shrouded my life for several months). Not to mention how I've learned to treasure myself a little too.

As I close this year, and look forward to a new year ahead, I can’t help but wonder what 2014 is going to hold for me – and what I shall plan to achieve in the year ahead. These two weeks shall be weeks of "springcleaning" - of clearing out everything from the year and preparing for a lean, mean start to 2014. 

I still have that box of memories I haven't had the courage to throw out yet, but I'll eventually get there. Eventually. ALright, back to the end-of-year clearing of the room. Going to spend some time writing resolutions later too...

Exactly 2 weeks to the surgery now.

Monday, December 16, 2013


Today my sister told me, "You try to be hard on the outside, but you're really soft inside. And when you let people in, they have a lot of power over you."

The comment didn't quite solve the issue at hand (at all), but it's amazing how much insight sisters/family members can have.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

freaking out, like really.

I am officially freaking out about the surgery.

Maybe it's misaligned emotions. Maybe it's for the fact that I have so much work to do and the stress is just getting out of hand and is spilling over into the fact that I am going for a major surgery that may alter me forever! (emo much?) Still, I AM freaking out.

I think it started with when I tried to explain to the sisters about the procedure and showed them a video about how the surgery will go... and one of my sisters asked "Won't the plates hurt when you're older?" And I realized, I didn't think about stuff like that. I just thought "There's going to be a possible future problem which will be better to fix now", and therefore started this journey. I never thought I might be SOLIDIFYING and CREATING a problem NOW for myself for the REST OF MY LIFE. Yes, I think that's when the freaking out started. :(

I started Googling all sorts of related topics - including "surgery plates hurting" and the like. And I freaked out MORE. And then I went into googling stuff like "regret jaw surgery" and "would you do jaw surgery again"... and I think it was pretty much a slippery slope from there.

I'm freaking out. I suddenly feel like I can't do this anymore.

It's such a big change...and I have SO MANY "what ifs" in my brain right now. Like, what if I'm one of the 20% who hates their faces for life, or what if I never regain feeling in my face, what if I don't really necessarily have arthritis in my old age and am wasting money now, what if I come out really REALLY ugly...



Saturday, December 07, 2013

latest profile shots and another week closer...

The teeth as of today. (Yes, I still get stuff stuck in them)
And yes, as you can see, I have put on so much weight,
that my collarbones are almost inexistent! :((
It's Saturday again! And we're another week closer to the surgery! 0_0

Here are my current profile shots - that I think haven't changed for a while now since my braces are all set in place now.

Right Profile.
Flat cheeks. Yes, I automatically force my lips close.
Left Profile.
Flat cheeks. Same auto-close...I wonder if we (under-biters)
automatically learn to close our lips for fear of bugs getting in. XD
Straight on Still forcing close... at least it doesn't look too bad.
Please excuse the parched lips...all I have had today has been coffee and some bread. :D
Lippy Shot
Here's what I really look like when I'm spacing out and not thinking about closing my lips.
Yes, I've always been more of a mouth-breather. #^_^#
Right - 45 degrees.
Today, I understand why Orthoman and Surgeonman needed 45 degree shots.
My underbite is so obvious at this angle!
Left - 45 degrees.
See?! :((
And here is where the real problem shows -
My slanted, tilted, underbite jaw.
It's okay jaw and little teeth, we'll be all better in a month. <3

Today's, the day I shall actually show the gory details of the surgery to prep my family. Yes, I'm prolly going to show some of the photos from fellow jaw-surgery buddies (see: survivors.) that have gone ahead of me. (Thank you! :D) I'm not sure what their reactions are going to be, but I'm expecting that I will have a lot of questions to answer - as I also had to do with some of my close friends over dinner last night. But given with what they know so far, I think they should be taking the news alright...maybe except the mother - my mum's not too good with caring for people I think, so she's been asking me to consider extending my stay in the hospital for four nights instead of two. =_= (Yay,  for independent self-sufficient (EXPENSIVE) living. X_X)

There is so much to do in so little time! I think I'm going to spend at least an hour or two this weekend thinking about all the things I want to do whilst I'm stuck at home recovering post-surgery (so far, it looks like a TON of movies, dramas, books, and...organizing paperwork or something. :)).

Friday, December 06, 2013

Being under doctor's orders to put on weight. :D

I love this please-eat-more-and-put-on-weight season!
And under doctor's orders too! :D
I can't believe the amount of rubbishy foods I have been eating! It's so sinful! But absolutely rebelliously glorious how there are no more rules to what I will and will not allow myself to eat. This is probably one of the perks of going for the surgery!

Then again, I stepped on a scale yesterday and I've put on 6 kilos! AND I could barely fit into my jeans this morning. Boo... 

Okay, I think that's enough weight for now. Sorry doctors, I can't put on anymore! STAWP!

*dreams of glorious junk food*

Sunday, December 01, 2013

weekend thoughts

I'm spending my Sunday at home, keeping the germs to myself, whilst the rest of the family has gone to church. The house is all quiet except for the gentle whirring of the fan, and the grumblings from my little water boiler that's preparing me for a lovely cup of Chamomile tea.

There's something very therapeutic about being alone with a cup of tea on a weekend. I'm spending the day studying "Health and Society" from HarvardX, as well as finishing up the last week of my "Law and Entrepreneur" course on Coursera (that I am very proud to say that I've been very consistent about! :)) I love studying, I really do.

Yesterday night, after a conversation with a new friend I've made, I decided to check in if my personality has changed. I took an online general version of an MBTI test and I was surprised by the results:

I used to be the Idealistic INFP!
I guess perhaps it's due to the position I've been in of running the business that has pushed the judging scores a little more. I spent some time looking at how my change from an INFP to INFJ have changed my "ideal career" matches a little, and it was a little reassuring to know that it wasn't that big of a leap. Interestingly, psychology, teaching and counseling were still on the list. But what really excited me, was that options for business and environmental activism were added in too (so maybe my interests and current job isn't that far off from ideal). Perhaps the increase in the "judging" aspect is because as people get older, they start to realize how much more is in their power to actually do - that you don't need to stay simply as a dreamer, but to be able to actually act on those idealistic values and make them a reality.

Hmm... what do I want as my reality?

Here's the link to the general MBTI-esque test, if you want to check in on your own personality.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

the sickies and meeting the Co-surgeon

This has been me for the whole week. :(
I've slept all day and though my system's still all clogged up, I've decided to take time out to do some writing....especially before memory decay sets in (or my on-off fever burns it up) and I completely forget how the meeting with Cosurgman went.

During the consultation, most of my time was spent with Charlotte, this super nice nurse (who actually could be full-fledged doctor if not for foreign employment guidelines). We chatted about all sorts of things whilst she got some more moulds done and pictures taken. Charlotte said that my profile has changed since I've had braces.

Cosurgman was a generally nice friendly person. The meeting started with him asking me "So, tell me what do you not like about your face?" and I was a little taken aback because I had never thought about it...which eventually led to me explaining to him how I embarked on this purely on functional reasons. He seemed to have understood really quickly, and just dropped the question and went on to doing the moulds and stuff. I wonder if that was supposed to be the most difficult part of the meeting - where he probably had to consider the expectations of his patients and see what he could do, or not do. Perhaps I made his life a lot easier?

Cosurgman then went on and took a lot of measurements of my face. At one point, I couldn't help but burst out laughing when he reported that my left eye was one millimeter higher than my right eye. I think I surprised him when I burst out laughing because he was in complete serious "1 millimeter, this, 2 millimeters that" measurement mode, and I just cracked up. I found it extremely hilarious somehow because I guess one never really notices much unless you're a trained eye. It just thoroughly amused me. Other than the measurements, there was a head contraception thing I had to put on as they calculated how my jaw aligned with the rest of my skull. It was pretty uncomfortable, but still very interesting how the medical field has developed all these amazing contraptions.

What bothered me a little though, was that quite a few things he said seemed to contradict some of the things that Surgeonman told me before. Stuff like how Surgeonman told me that my nose was a little curved, whilst Cosurgman deemed it straight, and how Sgnman (I'm getting tired of typing :D) said that my jaw was misaligned, and Csgman said that it was straight. It scared me a little that two professional doctors had two different readings. All the more cause they're working on my face!

Perhaps I should be thinking a bit more about the aesthetic part of this... even though I've really been thinking "just make my jaw sit right so I don't hurt when I'm 50", I suppose I should really make a bigger deal out of the aesthetics since that'd be affected in some sense. Interestingly, after all the measurements, Cosurgman said that I had quite a symmetrical face - which is apparently a rare thing in people. I guess that's a good thing right?

Oh, Garrett's.... <3
The meeting ended with him asking me if I had any questions or concerns, and I asked the same question of "how do I prepare for the surgery?" And he answered me with the response I've heard from the rest of the team, "Try to put on some weight." Everyone (and I mean everyone on my ops team - Surgeonman, Cosurgman, Orthoman, Consultman, and even Charlotte - seems to be telling me that I need to put on weight. Perhaps I should make a list of all the really fattening items I would never indulge in otherwise - like Carnivore, or some deep fried Southern battered onion, or a huge bucket of Garrett's cheese popcorn - and tuck in.

Okay, next in line is deciding on the hospital, getting the insurance settled, firming up the details, Christmas, anesthetic tests, blood donations, New Year's Day, then the surgery.

Can't believe it's almost December already.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Caught a bad bug :(((

I've met Cosurgman and it was such an interesting meeting. I meant to write about it, but have been too sick to do much. A bad flu has crept up on me and, for someone who barely falls sick, when I get the sickies, they really hit me bad. My fever is blocking my thoughts now so I'm going to stop writing now.

Will write again when this clears up.

Pray I'll get through this soon so I can get back to work and prep for my jaw surgery. Body, please cooperate with me!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

growing up.

It's interesting how life changes when one door closes and you start wondering, "What the 'ell do I have left?!" You putter about life, mumbling and bumbling, then one day you finally realize, "Oh."

For the past two days, I've been attending this:

I was actually deeply privileged to be part of the Young Leaders' Forum.
And gosh, it has been such an eye-opener.

From the energy crisis to food security, agriculture and forestry to sustainable cities, being in the company of so many amazing visionaries and concerned global citizens - from governmental ministries, to energy conservationists and people in the public and private sectors involved with all sorts of things like water and carbon credits - has been most inspiring. The ideas and concerns shared, as well as the visions-casted... I don't know how to even express how awesome it was to know that there were people who have invested their lives in issues so epically and fundamentally meaningful. From the panels, to the working groups, to the presentations, and sharing about international talks with the UN and between countries in the area of sustainability... it's been a long time since I felt so deeply inspired that I could be part of something so much bigger than myself. It was awesome, and very humbling to have been invited and...simply having been given the opportunity to be there.

The reason I attended was simply because I have been interested in the issues of food waste for a while now - of which I recently opened a blog space to store all my random bits of research, but simply haven't had the time to look into (what with work, the mad year-end rush, plus two Coursera and two EdX courses) - and this was my opportunity to try to get like-minded people to come together and come up with solutions for this huge problem in my industry that I care about. The results of my attendance with regards to the meeting of that goal was probably mixed. I'm not sure if I have found the right people to work with, or met the appropriate parties to point me in the right direction, but I hope to be able to work out something that will make a difference - at least in my small, maybe big, way in my industry.

It seems like as I enter into a new phase in life, my life has begun to revolve around work and growing the business, looking into issues and participating in groups that I care about, and spending a little more time and effort into friends, family, as well as investing in the lives of my staff...Oh, that and taking care of myself. The issues that I've been learning that I care very much about are in that of leadership (in my own capacity at work, in the realm of family businesses, in the stewardship of spheres of influence, and in women), productivity (in our operations and that of people-development), and sustainability (mainly environmental concerns). And in taking care of myself, it's mainly been about education - which means reading lots of books and taking a lot of educational courses.

 It's weird, but I feel like I have grown up a little.

I wonder what life is going to be like after the surgery. I've heard a lot of mixed anecdotes about how people do, and don't, change after their jaw surgeries. I don't know how to describe it, but part of me feels like something more than my jaw is going to break within me. Is that weird?

Weird how I never noticed that I
 had a mis-aligned jaw until my eyes
were"opened" and trained to see
what the dentists saw. :(
Later today, I'm going to meet my co-surgeon who will be working with my amazing Surgeonman during the surgery. We're going to take more X-rays, and moulds I believe...and hopefully Cosurgman (Co-surgeon man) will be able to give me a little more details about the surgery... I mean, I'm amazed when I read jaw surgery blogs and all of them seem to know exactly how many millimeters, what way, and how, their upper or lower jaws are going to be moved! For me it has really been a very simple "I have an impending jaw problem. I need to fix it. I'll find the best surgeon. He connects me to the best people. I figure out the costs. I trust them, and don't need to know all the minute details. I'll just show up." kinda thing. But I suppose it doesn't hurt to know a little more - just for a little post-surgery trivia perhaps.

On other interesting notes, apparently Surgeonman told me that they actually do a "mock-surgery" together before the real surgery so that they will have "practiced" before the real deal. (Amazing isn't it?!) And yes, I know, there seems to be like, SO many men involved in my surgery. But I really thank God for all of them. I don't think I've ever had the jitters when I have been with any of them. I think I've only gotten the little ones when I'm alone and allow my silly mind to wander about strange things. I guess I'm a little excited, but kinda afraid to meet Cosurgman - I blame it on stranger anxiety. I hope he's nice. I think I'd be a little sad if I had three nice amazing guys (Surgeonman, Consultman, and Orthoman), and one scary Cosurgman on my team - I might just freak out. Okay, stop! Stop running, thoughts! Stay calm, everything is going to be alright!

Just a few days left of November, and then I'd be in my last month before the surgery!

Lord, please help keep me healthy and really really productive with work so that I will have complete peace when the time comes!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

jaw surgery date: 3rd January 2014

Special delivery for Surgeonman: Two sets of moulds of my upper and lower teeth. :)
I wish he could have unwrapped them to show me what they looked like!

This week, I visited the hospital that I will be staying at for my jaw surgery in January and got all the administrative work settled. I'm pretty sure I've said this before, but I'll say it again: "I can't believe this is happening!" And only slightly over a month to go!

During the meeting with Surgeonman this week, I was introduced to another dental consultant on my case and it was so pleasant to know that he's a consultant (and not an assistant-something which my Surgeon told me may be the level of person on my operating team if all the doctors take leave for the period my surgery is scheduled). I don't know if he's a senior consultant, but his name was pretty high up next to Surgeonman's name on the dental organizational chart, so I'm assuming I'm in pretty safe hands. Thank you God for providing some of the best people for my surgery. :)

Consultman (I'm getting into a habit of giving everyone names now. Haha.) was pretty nice in answering my questions and he seemed to be really relaxed about talking about my surgery, so I suppose it's not going to be too complicated. He did ask me "Do you have any concerns?" and I couldn't help but tell him that I'm just worried that people would say things like "You used to be prettier" after the whole ordeal.

I suppose as the surgery date draws closer, I've been thinking about all the possible scenarios that could play out after the op is over. And one of the worst scenarios I could think of was people negatively judging my appearance. Perhaps it's vanity that I shouldn't even consider, but it somehow just conjures some really scary emotions to think that people might make a comment like that for a decision you had made and invested so much in, and have no way to turn back and change.

Consultman was really sweet though cause he reassured me with a simple, "Don't worry, you have nice features. You'll definitely be prettier."And then he went off to do something else... maybe tutting in his head about how shallow this patient probably is. :( Still, even though I didn't make this decision to embark on a jaw surgery journey with a single iota of aesthetic intentions, I suppose the girlish part of me was thankful. It seems like all Surgeonman, Orthoman and Consultman seem to be pretty confident about this surgery. I'm really thankful for all these men God has provided to see me through this journey. I don't think I could have wished for any better. Even though random concerns sometimes arise in my anxious heart and mind, I'm actually really looking forward to the surgery in January now.

I think I'm going to put a countdown clock in my sidebar now that I know the date of my surgery. I will have to spend the next month tying down all the work that has to be settled before the surgery. That, and preparing those whom I love to embrace this season in my life and support me through. I don't want to lose anyone to preconceived judgemental mindsets simply because of a lack of understanding of my intentions or of my heart.

40 days to the surgery.

40 - the number of breakthrough.
How coincidental.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Surgical hooks in. And it didn't hurt!

So after a whole hour of taking moulds and taking out wires and putting all sorts of metal in, I've finally gotten the surgical hooks and all sorts of metal stuff(ed) in my mouth.

It really wasn't as big a deal as I thought it was (or as it sounded). And what it really looks like is very much like what Orthoman did before I left for Hawaii - i.e. binding all my teeth together with a pretty white wire. :) I love it that it's white - it kinda makes me feel like my teeth are nice and a self-delusional "your teeth are actually really all gross now cause you haven't been brushing hard(er) enough after you put your braces on, but hey the white wire might be a little distraction to all that crap" kinda way. I do, however, feel like I have a lot more metal in my mouth...well, I suppose that's because of all the extra little hooks now. Not to mention that the little warning that Orthoman gave me about probably getting a couple of ulcers (because my mouth isn't used to the new hooks), wasn't happy news. Still, I'm glad this part of the journey is over, and now I'm in the hands of my surgeon for the next couple of months.

It was a pretty sad feeling knowing that I won't be seeing Orthoman for a while... it's been such a joy having him as my orthodontist. My mother kinda freaked out a bit when I told her I'm going to put my surgical hooks in today. But after the whole ordeal, when she asked me, "So, how was it?" I couldn't help but say, "I guess it helps that my dentist is cute." Haha. XD But honestly, Orthoman is kinda cute... I guess cause I find him a hilariously awkward sort of way. I almost burst out laughing in the middle of my appointment today as he was awkwardly finding something to do whilst holding the mould steady on my teeth as the clay(?) set. He ended up standing up, looking away, and walking in place or something. It was SUPER awkward. But even more so, it was hilarious! I think I might have been grinning like an idiot, but I didn't burst out laughing...stuff like that is pretty hard to do with a big-ass mould of metal and moulding clay plus his fingers in my mouth. (Gosh, that sounded wrong.) Still, he's 5 stars for awkward funnies. I recommend him anytime. (If you're doing your teeth in Singapore, and are looking for a nice awkward friendly dentist, look him up: Dr Wee @ Alfred Cheng's Orthodontic Clinic. Sweets for anyone who can make him smile/laugh. He really needs to relax and smile more. :D He may be married though, so no seducing Orthoman! I need him to be happy and secure in his job! (At least till this whole jaw surgery journey for me is over! Haha..selfish request. #^_^# But PLEASE! I can't afford to lose him! I can't have another ortho halfway through! I  have stranger anxiety!) Here's his ortho blog filled with all sorts of random teethy stuff.

Alrighty, after this, it'd be the hospital visit on Friday (along with blood samples and blood donations and all sorts of interesting things that Surgeonman has roughly briefed me about), and then an appointment or two with Surgeonman, Christmas, the New Year, then the surgery.

Time is moving so fast.

Surgical hooks day. Be brave.

So today's the day I get my surgical hooks installed. I'm a little nervous about it and it seems like things are going a little too fast for me to keep up psychologically. My feelings about the op nowadays swing from "I can't wait for this to be over" to "Am I really doing this?" And yet I'm still going through the motions.

My op is now scheduled for the 3rd/4th of Jan 2014. As the day draws nearer, I'm beginning to worry about a billion things - from finances to risks to social rejection to questioning my motives for getting this done. It's the jitters, most definitely.

A friend asked me yesterday whether I was scared. And I replied "Yes, but don't tell anyone. It's a secret." And I suppose that was the most honest answer I could muster. It's true - I like to play it strong and not let anyone know when I'm afraid. But I'm thankful that at least one friend knows now.

This Friday is apparently "hospital admission day" where I go to the hospital and get all my vitals checked. My surgeon has also advised me to get some blood donated to the blood bank because he thinks I might be slightly anaemic. :/

On the upside, I guess I'm going to have a wonderful Christmas and next year will really start with a bang... Or at least with a big milestone in life. I'm thinking that I had better spend the end of this year preparing my body for a speedy recovery by getting some exercise in.

Okay, one step at a time. Surgical hooks first.

Monday, October 28, 2013


With all the things going on in my mind, I'm amazed how much I have gotten accomplished in the past week - and how much I've successfully crammed into this coming week. I suppose the closing of the year and the big plans we have ahead of us in the first half of next year has pretty much pulled in enough work for me to charge at - far more than I expected.

There seems to be some complications in my insurance coverage for the jaw surgery that I'm really worried about now. To the point where I'm worried I might not get any coverage at all. :( I'm not quite sure what to do now...especially that all this is coming at a time when my braces are all done and I'm already ready for surgery. I thought this was all already settled. :(((

I'm turning the big 3-0 this week and it's bringing with it a barrage of introspective thoughts. I haven't been sleeping too well either.

This article was a big encouragement to me tonight though.
Lots of thoughts. Lots.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

a tough week

It's been a really tough week as my mind has been in "anniversary mode" - bringing me back to sad memories from this time, a year ago.

Why do I allow my brain to think of such things?
I guess it doesn't help that I'm somewhat of a journaller, and I pretty much wrote notes about every date that we had and the times we shared. Guess they were important to me. We ended because of a misunderstanding we had and... at some point he just decided that I just wasn't his cup of tea after all (or that he never really liked tea anyway). It was not an easy time for me... and it still amazes me how that could have happened (there are a lot of theories - both from my reflections, as well as from others who have cared - but we shan't go into that).

I guess this was a learning experience...and a process of learning to love myself more... and perhaps of growing up to be wiser with matters of the heart.

I had a little scare today as my father caught a really bad case of food poisoning and was really weak - to the point that he kinda SOS-ed my mum and we had to rush back home to check in on him. Something shook in me today as I was reminded that my parents are getting older and I could lose them any time. It struck a sadness and fear in me. I think part of me would truly die if I lost my daddy.

And at some point of time in my fear-filled racing thought processes on the speedy drive home, I thought to myself "Would this guy even care?" and "Is he even here for you?" And my answer was "Probably not" and "No". It was a jagged little pill.

If there has been one thing that has been weighing down on my back this past year, it would be the weight of this one memory. After the break, I found myself chopping off my hair, going through my mole excision surgery, deciding on my jaw surgery and getting braces, losing almost 8 kilos, going on very dangerous and reckless car rides, wrestling with the most terrible of thoughts about how much my life was "really" worth, having endless nights of crying to the point of dehydration, running away from home, ploughing through depression, leaving the company for a while to join a school in Hawaii for a few months, and now waiting for the completion of my surgery. It has been a journey.

One whole year.

I read somewhere that it is healthy to be patient with yourself through a time of grief (which a breakup is very much like). And somewhere else, I read that it is alright to feel the emotions of heartbreak in totality (instead of trying to suppress everything). I've pretty much been wrestling with it for the whole past year, and now, being back in Singapore, these two weeks seemed to ploughed up some of the deepest of roots - which I suppose is not necessarily a bad thing...though it hasn't been fun.

Still, even though this process has been a lot longer than I - or anyone else, especially my family and closest friends who have had to bear with my depression and emotional swings - wished it would be, I believe that I've been very courageous though the different steps I've taken along the way. The milestones have included constantly trying to mentally let go, choosing to respect the silence, deleting photographs, deleting conversations, storing memories in a box, and now...maybe it's time to take another bold step of getting the memory box out of the house. Maybe I'll keep them with a friend...or somewhere where I just won't remember anymore. And one day, I'll find the courage to throw it out forever.

It's not fair for a girl's heart to be locked up and fearful because it had once been battered by a man who probably didn't know better. Right? There's just so much more to life. So much more to look forward to that I cannot allow these bad memories to steal time and energy away from me. There's so much ahead of me. So much I want to do. So much I have passion for.

I just have to find and execute the courage to arise and get out of this completely.

Gotta eventually get to this:


Wednesday, October 09, 2013

the sickies and jitters

So I've caught the sickies. My stomach was churning the whole morning, I could barely function, and my FTA exam is rescheduled to early November.

Somehow, I've been debating a lot about the jaw surgery this past week. Perhaps it's because of a couple of posts that I've been reading about people having complications in their surgeries and how much it's costing them. A lot about surgery is about risk and how much you're willing to risk for a result.

The risks are pretty scary. I mean, yeah, there's the risk of death with anesthetics and stuff, but honestly, it's the in betweens - like loss of sensation in your face, numbness, lifelong pain, the need for more surgery (which would mean a lot more costs) - that are really frightening for me. I just can't imagine going through this 30K surgery, 6 months of healing up, to come down to having to possibly do more corrective surgeries, or not feel my face...forever.

Is the pain of arthritis in my jaw in my old age worth the risks now?

Sure, I've read through quite a few blogs that pretty much swear that they don't regret the surgery at all. Then again, most of them are those who didn't go through complications, and came out looking a lot better and happier and more confident than they were before the surgery. Otherwise, they were the ones who took any post-surgery challenges on as a learning experience. I respect a lot of them, and I suppose it's one way that people find their passions in life (like how when some people lose family to cancer they become great awareness campaigners), but I don't know what that would feel like if I were them.

I've also a few on my blogroll who, because of the post-surgery complications (and pain) they've gone through, have made it their life mission to make sure no one else goes through the same experience. And worse, I've also read of two or three jaw-surgery bloggers who displayed signs of desperation and depression in their post-surgery writing, who eventually closed their blog.

Maybe it's because my mother was asking me about it. She literally came to me and said, "Why do you want to do this? I think you're pretty enough." I also had another conversation when I was in Hawaii with a guy whom I shared about my jaw surgery and how I was doing it for medical reasons - to which he replied, "But it's also aesthetic. Which is okay." And how bothered I was at his assumption that regardless of what I said, I was in it for the aesthetics. It made me feel kinda sad.

Oh underbite, are you worth it?
Also nasty ulcer,
would you please go away soon? :(
I really thought I was completely sold that I'd go through this whole process - because it was logical, because it was practical, because it was completely medical, and because it just made sense to get it done now. And this is coming at a time just before I schedule my last appointment with Orthoman to get my surgical hooks in (Yes, he wrote back and said the casts were in order and we were good to go).

Perhaps this is something like pre-wedding jitters - where one goes through a time of absolute fear because you finally realize you're about to do something really big and possibly life-changing. :(

training the brain

OMG, so much more to go...
A few months ago, I decided that my brain needed some work, and I signed up for an FTA certification class. Now that I'm finally back from the States, it's time to take the exam (in T minus 7 hours). As much as I am thankful that I have the opportunity to study something and gain a little more knowledge of the world... I think I'm way past the age of staying up late at night to squish as much into my brain as possible for the exam in the morning (or so my body seems to have been reminding me through my struggles for the past few hours).

You would think that after having been through something like 25 years of my life in the crazy-competitive Singaporean education system, I should have mastered the art of time management, studying in chunks, and simply not leaving all this to the dreaded "exam cram" session.

Seven hours, and six more chapters to go.

And the pain of my braces constantly digging into this humungous mouth ulcer I have now isn't helping at all. :(

Come on brain, work with me.
I really want to do well for this exam!

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

heart issues

It's been almost a year since the official breakup. In fact, it's just two weeks to the one year mark.

It's interesting how a heart works, or doesn't work, with one's brain. Frequent infighting in one body really isn't too healthy.

Yesterday my dad encouraged me to stop dreaming. He literally asked me, "Why do you want to dream on? When will it stop?" And even though I told him adamantly, "I'm not dreaming on. I'm over it. I'm through." I also said, "But it's tough because everything here triggers memories." And part of me wishes that the ex and I weren't such troopers to visit pretty much everywhere around the island so that I would have other memories I could think of.

But I suppose, and I think I've been told several times over now, that part of this process of learning is to realize that I'm worth more than how I'd been treated. And how dishonorable and telling the drama of the end was - that we couldn't survive through the flames of a simple misunderstanding. Or at least how unforgiving and unnecessarily harsh he was. And to think it was all over a petty misunderstanding. Surely he knew how unreasonable, hurtful, and unkind he was.

And yet, I have chosen to love anyway. And still choose the better - to still think the best of him.
But I have also been reminded that I have to love myself too.

"Stop dreaming."
I have never really believed in the concept of giving up one's dreams.

But I suppose when one dream seems to be eating up all else -where it's no longer a dream that encourages or pushes you to higher heights - it's more like a long drawn hopeful nightmare...prolonged emotional torture that really should be relinquished in exchange for freedom.

It's time to stop now, Ariela.
Be courageous.
Dream new dreams.

Thursday, October 03, 2013

ready for jaw surgery!

We are ready! ^^
When people asked me what I looked forward to most at home after spending three months in the States, my answer was a simple "I can't wait to see Orthoman".

I couldn't wait to see him because my teeth had been tied up for the past three months and locked into position by a white wire he twisted around all my braces to ensure my teeth didn't move over my time in the States. The extra wire made brushing an immense torture! Thank God that I didn't have much drama (like the dreaded possibility of broken brackets) which I really freaked out over before I left because it would mean having to have some strange scary person in the States look into my mouth to fix it *stranger anxiety *. Still, I just couldn't wait to find out if my teeth moved any way and how much my time away affected my jaw surgery schedule.

Just to give you an idea of what the white wire looked like, here's a shot:

I took this in Honolulu on my journey back after 3 months away and no Orthoman time.
You can barely see it, but there is a white wire twisted all around my upper and lower braces.
My estimated jaw surgery date was supposed to be scheduled sometime March next year. And knowing I'd have to factor in a 3 - 6 month recovery period where I would be locked down here in Singapore, I just couldn't wait to see him so that I could plan my year ahead.

When I finally saw him just hours after I touched down, he said the magic words "You are pretty much ready for surgery". Well, actually, I think he said something more along the lines of "Are you ready for surgery? I believe we only need one more visit to install the surgical hooks and I can send you to the surgeon. And you need not wait a month. Even next week is fine." Yes, typical Orthoman-deadpan and all. Seriously, I wish Orthoman would just lighten up. But I suppose the sunshine and rainbows coming out of my eyes and ears when I heard the good news might have helped a little. :)

Right now, I'm just waiting to see if the new casts he took of my teeth fit properly and whether just one more visit would really do, then it is time to schedule a surgery! I really didn't expect this process to go so quickly! It has only been nine months of braces (no bands and all), and my good obedient teeth are ready! I'm excited! :D

Thank you my lovely obedient teeth!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Wrapping up Hawaii...for now.

Cliff Jumping at Southmost Point
Some of my family I found here.
It's amazing what a few months away can do to one's heart. For the past ten weeks, I'd moved over to Kona, Hawaii, to do a Marketplace Discipleship Training School with YWAM's University of Nations and it was probably one of the greatest decisions I've ever made in my life.

Last year, I went through what was probably one of the worst experiences of my life that left me empty, hopeless, and in a state of utter distraught. I stayed in that depression for almost a full year until one of my best friends told me over breakfast (after a night of me running away from home) "Go. You have to go. You have exhausted all your other options." She said it even though it meant I wouldn't be around to help with her wedding preparations. She said it out of love for me. And deep down inside, I knew it was my only option. I just had to. And I did.

A beautiful Kona Sunset
I packed what I had to in two small cases - unfortunately including my heavy heart - and I left. It took so much courage in me to just drop everything - my work, my company, my family - and just go. For the first few weeks, despite living in a room with eight other girls and trying to be a strong support to some other girls in my room who were struggling with some pretty complicated issues in their lives, I secretly cried myself to sleep pretty much every night. It took a lot out of me every day to hide all that behind all I tried to represent myself as - as a good ambassador of Christ, as well as that of my country, and my company.

At a Luau with two of my sisters.
However, as I tarried through the school - forcing myself to the classes, to read the books, to listen to the speakers, to reflecting on the challenges that I was posed with, observing the people on campus, and tuning in to who I was and what I used to be - something familiar seemed to rise up. It was a process of remembering the woman I was made to be, remembering the dreams that I had, the things that I aspired to be, to do, to see in my lifetime. As I spent the weeks remembering, sharing, listening, praying, reflecting, I found myself finding myself again. And on one occasion, at almost the end of the semester, for just a few minutes one night, I laughed so hard my core muscles hurt. It had been a long time since I laughed that hard.

Standing literally
one foot away from
a long 80ft (24m) drop
at Rainbow Falls.
In the last ten weeks I'd also gone travelling, hiked to and stood at the top of waterfalls, went cliff jumping, climbed a huge Banyan tree, went snorkelling at Captain Cook's (which is dubbed one of the world's best snorkel sites), spoke to random strangers, discovered gifts I never knew I had, heard some of the most astounding of stories and met some of the most fascinating of people. I looked back, found the lies, learned the truths, and found my self-worth again. I loved and received love, I forgave and received forgiveness, and I healed.

And now here I am in Honolulu for a week to just wrap up my time away and am planning the next year ahead - which looks like work, transiting out of work, my jaw surgery, a time of healing, then putting two projects in place, maybe starting up a business or two of my own, and then getting out of Singapore for a couple more months, and then... maybe out into the world.

This is the person
I was made to be.
I was made to care about the nations.
Life has so much potential for the most beautiful of possibilities and to meet the most inspirational of people to spend it wallowing in the past.

I'm now looking forward to getting back, seeing Orthoman, getting my surgery appointment fixed, and all the other jazz that's planned, and just move ahead with joy in the times to come.

Onward. Upward.

Friday, June 21, 2013

more bracing myself for a new adventure

One of the most courageous things I've chosen to do this year would probably be to drop everything in Singapore, get on a plane, and head to the other side of the world for a couple of months. It's amazing how many things this move will be affecting though - include a complete disruption in my work, a total removal of life here for a good few months, as well as that of my braces treatment.

Interestingly though, I'm pretty sure that my teeth have been very obedient... as so:

It's amazing how putting some brackets and wire into one's mouth (along with the skill and loving hands of the good Orthoman) can really make a difference to the alignment of one's teeth! I'm amazed at how much my teeth have moved in a matter of months.

This was one of my earliest photos with the braces. Look at how bendy the wires are!
And those annoying deviant incisors! =_=

And now... :) And I didn't have to use elastic bands AT ALL!
I love you my good obedient teeth. <3
I think the Orthoman freaked out a bit (in his typical nonchalant indifferent way) about my being away for 3 months and I suddenly found myself squeezing three appointments one week after another. We have one more appointment before I say goodbye till October. Okay, I think I freaked out a lot more imagining how terrible it would be if something horrible happened (a broken wire, a broken bracket, a weird turn in one of my teeth...I don't know anything is possible! Oh no! *hyperventilate*) Haha... I think Orthoman thinks I'm weird cause I'm always asking so many questions. I think he needs to learn to relax a little more though. I always feel like some perky happy ball of unicorn or something whenever I visit him cause he's a load of deadpan comparatively. It's really a little sad. Ah well, I shall do what I can before I leave.

ALTHOUGH! He did laugh again at our last appointment when I honestly concernedly asked him "You will still be here right? When I get back?" Yes, anxious frown and all. I suppose dentists don't really move about as much when it comes to work. I was a little happy for him when he laughed I think.... it's like a rare sighting. Like witnessing his little dose of happy that occasionally visits him once every five years or something. Okay, I should really stop thinking so....honestly about Orthoman.

I think I have the thickest wires on both my top and bottom teeth now and I don't really feel any pain anymore like I did when we first started the treatment, so I think I'm probably pretty set for surgery soon. I'm going to ask the Orthoman that question again at our last appointment on the 2nd.

Gosh, time is really passing way too fast.

Monday, May 20, 2013

immense bravery

Yesterday was probably the height of the courageous days in my life. It's amazing how much strength it takes to hide emotions inside, and yet how much more interesting that humans even have the ability to behave in ways contrary to how things really are inside.

And yet, there comes a time where one too needs to realize that you are worth fighting for. That you are worth something. That you would probably still love and give on command, but at the same time you have to stop hurting yourself with hopeful expectation...or at least control the extent of the damage it's creating.

I was a brave girl yesterday. And even though I still feel like crap, and I really did wish for a better outcome, it's something to be very proud of.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

more teethy shots 30.04.13

Was just comparing some older photos with a few I took today...

I will say it again, "Oh, little tooth, I'm so glad you're back."
Yay! No more ugly witch's tooth. :)

I'm truly amazed how much my teeth have moved in a month. I shall drink ALOT more warm drinks from now on. :)

Friday, April 26, 2013


Hello little one, we missed you!
Finally! Reunited!!! <3 My left out tooth has finally been accepted back into the fold.

My little left out tooth finally got its bracket today! Welcome back lovely! <3 I've been waiting for this day for so many months now, so it really made me uber happy to know that I didn't need to wait for another month to get my little tooth back in line with the rest. Orthoman basically cut the spring out today (the one that was helping to make space) installed the bracket (along with two more brackets on my two lower back molars which he left out previously), and voila

My teeth are all happy now. :)

On another note, and possibly slightly bigger news today, Orthoman actually laughed. I was surprised how surprised I was when he did. I was so surprised I got a little bit of a positive shock when he did. It was a little bit like that feeling you get when something wondrous and unexpected happens in an unexpected moment. I suppose it was because everything in my brain linked to Orthoman included the words "emotionless", "probably depressed", "maybe hates his job", or "doesn't look people in the eye when he talks to them". Well, he still doesn't look me in the eye when talking to me, but at least there was SOME emotion today. I was weirdly happy for him.

At that same moment, I also realized that I forgot to carry out my little plan to encourage the Orthoman... I meant to prepare something to encourage him, but I guess I've been having a pretty rough time myself in life so I haven't been able to find the time to do anything for him. :( I shall have to plan better for the next visit...or something. I really don't want to have to change to a new orthodontist if he decides he actually wants to be a ballet dancer or something in between my treatments! I really don't cope with stranger anxiety very well. =_=

Movement of my teeth seem to be progressing quite well though! I really feel that the constant drinking of hot water has really helped (yay science!). I'm really looking forward to the day Orthoman tells me, "Wow, you should be ready in less than 6 months!" I hope I'll be ready by the end of the year! Come on good little obedient teeth! You can do it!

I don't know why it is, but I'm really really excited about this process and for the surgery. It feels like it's going to be a new season of life for me after I finally get this done.