Dear S,

Message from Rasulullah(peace and blessings be upon him) to Abu Al-`Abbas `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him).
Hadits narrated by At-Tirmidhi.

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A few days ago, my cousin sister told me about her plan to have a impromptu three days vacation with her little family. At first, she considered going to Singapore, but haven't bought the tickets yet, cause she still hasn't decided the destination, she was still thinking about Singapore, KL, or Yogyakarta. Well, finally they left for Yogyakarta, her husband's hometown. I told my husband about this and when I finished telling him, he turned the question around to me.If you were given those choice, which place do you prefer? And I, enthusiastically, answered "Bali, of course!" hehe.

When was the last time I visited Bali? Maybe back in 2011. Since I got married in 2013 I pushed aside the thought of going to Bali, because, I didn't think is suitable for my husband, you know, appearance-wise. But it's just my silly thought, I know that whatever you appear to look like, Bali or any other places would be a good idea as long as we're going together.

Road tripping to Mount Agung with friends, 2010

Maybe some day, though not in any near future I suppose, I could visit Bali again. 
And reminisce the good old days exploring Bali with friends and colleagues.

PS. My prayers are with all the people residing in Bali. Hopefully the condition there will be going to be better.

Life Without Social Media

I intended to post about this so called self-challenge more than a year ago, but then I thought it would be better if it's discussed when it's already done, just to see what's the result. So I just left it in the draft folder. Well now after a year challenging myself to life without social media, I  guess this post is due.

Circa May 2017, I scrolled my Path's timeline —the only social media app I used to have back then— and found nothing new, no one from my small amount of friends posted something new. I did it several times every once in a while until I realized that I did open the app and check on them every five minutes! No wonder if there's no new post, everyone's either busy with works or their children, before they went back posting something again. I started to find what kind of phenomenon that's just happening to me? Is it FoMO? I've read about it a lot on the internet. Am I experiencing it? Well, maybe.

I need to remind myself again the definition of it, so let's take a look here.

FoMo or Fear or Missing Out has been defined in one of Computer in Human Behavior's journal as a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent, where it is characterized by the desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing (Przybylski et al., 2013, p. 1842). According to the authors of the article, FoMO was strongly linked to higher levels of social media engagement, it was shown to mediate the effects of certain personal characteristics (need deficits, emotional problems) on social media engagement. And the most terrific statement of all is that FoMO was associated with lower need satisfaction, mood and life satisfaction.

When I read about it at that time, it felt so close to me, like, all of these articles were talking about me. I believe we can actually relate with it, who's not using social media apps these days anyway? But the problem is (at least for me) that we don't want to admit that we have that kind of behavior in us. Checking social media while driving? Yes. Checking social media during class? Yes. Checking social media on the dinner table with family? Yes. Checking social media in the dark before bedtime? Yes. We —or in this case, me— are so afraid to miss any update out  from our friends' lives if we miss one or two of their posts, and we deny that this behavior is one of mental health problems. You see, my friends, FoMo frequently derives in unhappiness, maybe when we're not feeling really great about our life. From the study of the journal mentioned above, it's found that those with low levels of satisfaction of the fundamental needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness tend towards higher levels of fear of missing out as do those with lower levels of general mood and overall life satisfaction.

Upon realizing it, I began my journey of finding the way to overcome this issue. I believed that I have FoMo —it's absolutely not a good thing to begin with—, and I needed to beat it out. After reading and analyzing some articles on the internet, I found out that most of them recommend people who are struggling with FoMo to take breaks from social media and try to focus more on the environment and people around them in the present moment. Well,  I have come to terms with it that I had to leave all of social network site for a while until I know that I can use it properly, be aware that I'm on social media purely to connect with family and friends, not because I am unhappy with my life so that I stop paying attention to real life and turn to social media instead, to make me feel better.

What happened after a year of living without social media? I can tell that I feel quite happy about my ordinary life, I may not be able to go on a family vacation every two months like all of the people in my social media timeline, or I may not be able to buy designers bags or any branded items, but I feel enough with what my husband provides and with what kind of life I have, because I don't see the importance to compare it with other people's lives anymore.  You know, when we're on social media, we have this kind of unavoidable comparisons to the 'perfect' lives presented there that makes we feel we have less. Now, I believe that what people present on their social media sites are only the good and beautiful ones, but that doesn't mean they're not struggling, everyone's struggling with their life, but they just don't show that ugly side in their cleverly curated social media account. I also can say that I finally could get over my FoMO, I don't need to give extra effort to know the updates from people I care who do care about me too, because eventually they will tell me in person. As per today, I still have my social media account (not deactivated yet), but checking social media again, again, and again? Never. Hopefully for good.

Przybylski et al., 2013 A.K. Przybylski, K. Murayama, C.R. DeHaan, V. Gladwell Motivational, emotional, and behavioral correlates of fear of missing out

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It's been a while

Yes, it's been a while since the days I was eager to write blog. And yet.. here I am again.

A lot of things has happened in the first half of this year. And I would really like to write it down here for my own memory as now I've regained the zest for blogging, which I have been doing for more than ten years since I was a university student. Oh my, I'm so old.

The first thing I would like to highlight is that in the early of this year, we started sending our daughter to school. Even though she just turned two and it is not compulsory for her age to go to school, we still think that it's a good thing that she could be exposed early to English and let her get the chance to socialize with friends of her age. 

Another thing is that back in March we visited Jakarta for the first time in 2018 as the first term of school holiday took place. I was actually reluctant to go because I had an unpleasant occurrence during our last visit to Jakarta in November with a certain people in some places, and it somehow put me in a really bad mental breakdown for months. But we did go anyway. We've been away for almost four months already, so our family back home demanded us to fly as soon as we have the chance to. Therefore, it's not surprising that during the visit I was depressed again and I held so much distress that I could only gulp down. It was the gloomiest week in my recent years. I didn't know how to handle the emotions myself then I just became very angry to my husband by blaming him as the cause I had to endure this kind of pathetic occurrence; a point where it almost crushed all of my self esteem, self worth, and self love.

It's a relieve that this one week 'torture' being in Jakarta has finished and we could finally fly back to Singapore. But unfortunately, all the negative feelings; the depression, hatred, anger, didn't go straightaway. I first thought to myself, maybe If I was away from the people that caused the distress, I could feel better. No, it was not. I still couldn't communicate properly with my husband, and I thought this was for good. I didn't hate him or those people though, I just hated myself that I put myself in a situation where I became someone worthless that I was good for nothing, so that people could justify doing the things they did to me. I was thinking about going to psychiatrist, but I could imagine how those people would consider that it's too much, that I was just exaggerating it. So I buried that thought and just tried going back to my daily activity.

Three weeks trying to rebuild myself and handle my emotions by living the daily life as usual, I found out that I was 5 weeks pregnant. I was over the moon and I convinced myself that I had to throw away all the distress and negative feeling towards people around me, because, hey I am pregnant! It's a very big blessing. You see, it's that easy for me to finally forgive my husband for the mistakes that he refused to acknowledge (he said it was just on my mind). I was content, we're going to have another baby, I finally could give my daughter a sibling, and I didn't care about the people causing me depression. I didn't give a d*mn about the damage they've caused me. I just wanted to focus on this pregnancy and loving my firstborn daughter more. 

Anyway, I was 8 weeks along when I had a missed miscarriage, but didn't found it until the pregnancy approached 11th week. I had no cramps, no spotting, no other symptoms of a miscarriage when the fetal stopped growing, and I still had the morning sickness kicked in all day long, s I thought everything was fine. Until one day on the end of 10th week, I got light spotting that continued for consecutive three days. I refused to think negative and always said to myself maybe I was just too exhausted and I needed to cut myself some slack. On the fourth day, I began to feel that there's something that's not quite right with this spotting, so I visited the gynae to got it checked that morning. That's when I finally knew that my baby didn't grow, the heartbeat has stopped growing three weeks before. It didn't take so long to compose myself after hearing this news, I didn't want to forever in denial thinking that everything's okay and the gynae must be wrong, I saw with my own eyes how my gynae tried to thoroughly see any signs of my baby's life from the scanning, I could feel it myself too that my nausea was slightly getting better I didn't vomit anymore since the last three days. I just knew that I have to let it go. It's just not meant to be. I decided to have a D&C the next day, May 11.

Even though the baby couldn't make it to see the world and I couldn't hold him in my arm, I would never forget him. I'm happy that he brought enlightenment to my life so that I could finally see things better. 

As of now, I can say that I don't hold any anger to those people again, I try to understand their circumstances. I am a lot healthier than them so I should be the one who can think clearer. Moreover, I need to be healthy both mentally and physically so that I can conceive again and carry the baby to term. Aamiin.

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Singapore Air Show 2018

After years living in Singapore, we finally went to Singapore Airshow 2018 on Saturday 10th February. We couldn't make it to those previous years for some reasons, but I think it's actually good that we  could visit it this year, because my daughter S is big enough to join us and already has interest and curiosity for vehicles and transportation such as motorcycles, airplane, helicopters, army tanks, etc. We arrived at the event venue very early around 9 in the morning, there were not so many visitors arrived yet so it's very convenient as it's not too crowded. We took a lot of time walking around the static aircraft displays where S was enthusiasticly running on the taxi way.

We then visited the exhibition hall and then to RSAF (Republic of Singapore Air Force) pavilion where my husband got a chance to hop on the flight simulators before we gathered outside  with other visitors to enjoy the aerobatic flying displays at 11:30 pm performed by RSAF, RTAF (Royal Thai Air Force), TNI-AU (Tentara Nasional Indonesia - Angkatan Udara) Jupiter, USAF (United States Air Force), and RMAF (Royal Malaysian Air Force) for approximately 45 minutes.

When the aerial display was done we stopped at the rest area nearby to have our packed homemade  lunch before we headed back home. A very nice day spent for the whole family. Looking forward to seeing the next airshow event in 2020! Hehe

Two Memoirs

Despite being in the middle of never ending cleaning frenzy, playing all day with my toddler, cooking, and feeding her, I was finally able to force myself finish two books that I wanted to read for a while, where both are memoirs incidentally. The first one is Hillbilly Elegy, a book written by JD Vance that I grabbed from my younger brother's study desk at our mother's house that he left before he flew back to UK last year. Before I got a chance to read it, I thought it would be some kind of heavy book with politics and socio-economics stuffs that explained why American people trust Trump, but surprisingly I was wrong. It's a flowing story of a family from Appalachia that —though I couldn't relate because I didn't experience the same circumstances— has taught me a lot about tough love in raising children and one's personal responsibility to change for the better. I'm glad I have the chance to read this book earlier.

This is my most favourite lines quoting Vance's Mamaw (grandmother):
Life was a struggle, though the odds were a bit longer for people like them, that fact didn't excuse failure. Never be like those fucking losers who think the deck is stacked against them, you can do anything you want to.

Another thing that I learnt after reading this book is that this thing called Adverse childhood experiences (ACE), stressful or traumatic events, including abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. ACEs are strongly related to having contribution to long term health, social, and behavioral consequences throughout a person’s lifespan, starting in adolescence and continuing into adulthood (Felitti et al., 1998). Some of the most common ACES usually had faced these following events of feelings —as written in the book— including:
  • being sworn at, insulted, or humiliated by parents
  • being pushed, grabbed, or having something thrown at you
  • feeling that your family didn't support each other
  • having parents who were separated or divorced
  • living with an alcoholic or a drug user
  • living with someone who was depressed or attempted suicide
  • watching a loved one be physically abused

I checked with my husband whether he had ever faced any of the points above, but he said no. It's the same with me fortunately. Even though my parents were not a romantic couple, I never saw them fighting and yelling in front of their children. Thankfully, drugs, alcohol, and physical abuse were never happened in both of our childhoods. Having known that, it becomes our concern and biggest homework to provide the same (or even better) environment for our kid(s) for them to grow up healthy physically and mentally.

The second book I've read last month is Battle Hym of the Tiger Mother written by Amy Chua, who was JD Vance's professor while he was in Yale Law School. I've tried to read this book together with some other books including Bringing Up Bebe during my pregnancy time. But because of some reasons I didn't get the chance to finish this one. So it was only right to give it a try again, and I was a bit disappointed to the fact that I didn't read this sooner. Reading this book is surely a must for a new clueless mother like me.  

This is one of my favourite parts from this book:

... Western parents worry a lot about their children's self-esteem. But as a parent, one of the worst things you can do for your child's self-esteem is to let them give up. On the flip side, there's nothing better for building confidence than learning you can do something you thought you couldn't.
There are all these new books out there portraying Asian mothers as scheming, callous, overdriven people indifferent to their kids' true interests. For their part, many Chinese secretly believe that they care more about their children and are willing to sacrifice much more for them than Westerners, who seem perfectly content to let their children turn out badly. I think it's a misunderstanding on both sides. All decent parents want to do what's best for their children. The Chinese just have a totallyu different idea of how to do that.
Western parents try to respect their children's individuality, encouraging them to pursue their true passions, supporting their choices, and providing reinforcement and a nurturing environment. By contrast, the Chinese believe that the best way to protect their children is by preparing them for the future, letting them see what they're capable of, and arming them with skills, work habits, and inner confidence that no one can ever take away. 

Well, I am not going to say what kind of parenting style — Western or Chinese— I am about to apply to raise our child. But as my husband said, we need to be open to all kind of methods and try to take the good and leave the bad. 

Felitti et al., 1998 - V.J. Felitti, R.F. Anda, D. Nordenberg, D.F. Williamson, A.M. Spitz, V. Edwards, M.P. Koss, J.S. Marks Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 14 (1998), pp. 245-258

Our Responsibility

It's a bit embarrassing to admit this though, but I can't deny the fact that so far I have lived my life in my own bubble. As a housewife who stay at home most of the time with a toddler, my real problems are mere struggling with everyday's chores and sometimes drowning with my own thoughts about fears and life's uncertainty, albeit conveniently in our small apartment, without really knowing what's going on with the world, what's trending right now, and what people are talking about at the moment. Even though news can be widely spread out  by the growth of social media usage in this so called digital era, I still found myself have very limited amount of information about the world out there. It's only a fingertips away, but haven't I told you I live in a bubble?

I refused to read local news portals since the end of 2014 because the articles written there made me cringe. Until they wrote the details of an innocent girl's murder in Bali. It made me sick, I couldn't take it anymore.  I also decided to leave Facebook by deleting all people on my friend list and deactivating my account, because my Facebook feeds at that time were all hatred, 'wars', hoaxes, satire statuses, and all. It made me dizzy, I couldn't take it anymore. We don't subscribe TV cables in our apartment because we just don't want. I don't have dedicated time to watch TV anyway so it is not necessary to have cable after all. The only source of information is coming from the browser of my mobile phone. But again, as someone who live in a bubble, I only read news about things I want to know and leave the things I don't want to know behind.

But it was me yesterday, I want it to be just in the past. It's not right and I have to change, I need to open my eyes and see what's out there, because why? Because I am a mother whose daughter to be brought up and prepared to face the world well. How could I raise an agile and tough child if I don't know what kind of place she would be standing on her own at when I need to step aside later as she'll become an independent individual? How would I know what kind of strength and skills she'll need later to respond to the challenges of life if I don't even have any idea about the adversity and difficult circumstance happening in the world? 

I know that I won't be able to completely protect my children from the stress and hardship throughout her life, but I believe at least I should provide them with right tools to cope and deal with it. Well, in order to do that job properly as a mother, I need to be aware of my surroundings, our daily life, and whatever kind of things happen in world we live now. It's time to wake up.


New year, new month, new week. 
It's all the same brand new day where all of us should stop making excuse and start living the life we've been given responsibly.