mental indigestion

I’ve Gotta Be Me May 20, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 10:11 pm

This song is dedicated to anyone out there who feels that the world does not quite understand them (I think that covers just about everyone), who feels that they are always told to be somebody else (I think that covers just about every Singaporean), and who needs a little bit of old school in life in order to slow down (ironically, accessed via modern technology).

Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong
Whether I find a place in this world or never belong
I gotta be me, I’ve gotta be me
What else can I be but what I am

I want to live, not merely survive
And I won’t give up this dream
Of life that keeps me alive
I gotta be me, I gotta be me
The dream that I see makes me what I am

That far-away prize, a world of success
Is waiting for me if I heed the call
I won’t settle down, won’t settle for less
As long as there’s a chance that I can have it all

I’ll go it alone, that’s how it must be
I can’t be right for somebody else
If I’m not right for me
I gotta be free, I’ve gotta be free
Daring to try, to do it or die
I’ve gotta be me

I’ll go it alone, that’s how it must be
I can’t be right for somebody else
If I’m not right for me
I gotta be free, I just gotta be free
Daring to try, to do it or die
I gotta be me


My Symphony May 8, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 4:07 pm

“To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious grow up through the common – this is my symphony.” – William Henry Channing


Easter Reflection: Permit Your Pain to Become the Pain April 23, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 2:02 pm
Tags: , ,

Your pain, deep as it is, is connected with specific circumstances. You do not suffer in the abstract. You suffer because someone hurts you at a specific time and in a specific place. Your feelings of rejection, abandonment and uselessness are rooted in the most concrete events. In this way all suffering is unique. This is eminently true of the suffering of Jesus. His disciples left him, Pilate condemned him, Roman soldiers tortured and crucified him.

Still, as long as you keep pointing to the specifics, you will miss the full meaning of your pain. You will deceive yourself into believing that if the people, circumstances, and events had been different, your pain would not exist. This might be partly true, but the deeper truth is that the situation which brought about your pain was simply the form in which you came in touch with the human condition of suffering. Your pain is the concrete way in which you participate in the pain of humanity.

Paradoxically, therefore, healing means moving from your pain to the pain. When you keep focusing on the specific circumstances of your pain, you easily become angry, resentful, and even vindictive. You are inclined to do something about the externals of your pain in order to relieve it; this explains why you often seek revenge. But real healing comes from realizing that your own particular pain is a share in humanity’s pain. That realization allows you to forgive your enemies and enter into a truly compassionate life. That is the way of Jesus, who prayed on the cross: “Father forgive them; they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23: 34). Jesus’ suffering, concrete as it was, was the suffering of all humanity. His pain was the pain.

Every time you can shift your attention away from the external situation that caused your pain and focus on the pain of humanity in which you participate, your suffering becomes easier to bear. It becomes a “light burden” and an “easy yoke” (Matthew 11:30). Once you discover that you are called to live in solidarity with the hungry, the homeless, the prisoners, the refugees, the sick, and the dying, your very personal pain begins to be converted into the pain and you find new strength to live it. Herein lies the hope of all Christians.

– Henri Nouwen


Snow Covered Hills April 20, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 6:15 am
Tags: , ,

I can understand why Stevie Nicks was so inspired to write this song while at a ski lodge in Aspen. I love snow.

“I took my love and I took it down, which really meant I took my ego and I took it off the mantle. That trophy ego that we all have, you know, and I took that ego down and decided was it selfish to walk away?  And I think that I understood that somewhere I felt something big coming…in other words, I stood back and I saw the future.”  


I took my love, I took it down
Climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down

Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Mmm, mmm, mmm

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I’m getting older too

Well, I’ve been afraid of changing
‘Cause I’ve built my life around you
But time makes you bolder
Even children get older and I’m getting older too
Oh, I’m getting older too

Awh, take my love, take it down
Awh, climb a mountain and turn around
And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide bring it down

And if you see my reflection in the snow covered hills
Well, the landslide bring it down
Oh, the landslide bring it down


My Refuge March 10, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 6:39 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve been to the Good Shepherd Oasis four times since 2003. It’s such a wonderful place  to tune out, seek God, listen to wise advice and regroup.

It saddens me greatly that my one and only spiritual refuge in Singapore will be gone soon.(Gahmen pulling it down to build North South Expressway – an “act of terrorism” according to Sister Elizabeth.)

Capturing the memories – plan to go at least one more time before it’s pulled down next year.


Miss Kooky Cloud February 27, 2011

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 9:54 pm

Kooky Cloud by Dash

Miss Kooky Cloud wakes up today and knows that it could either be a sunny day or a cloudy day.

For the past few days, she’s been raining pretty hard – which is neither a good or a bad thing; just wet.

But today, she tells Mr Sky – I think I might be able to make funny shapes. Don’t you think I look like a diseased alien spaceship now?

Mr Sky laughs out a lovely azure blue. And Miss Kooky Cloud is pleased.


One For My Baby February 10, 2011

While researching on American Bar at The Savoy in London for a writing assignment, I became intruiged by its glittery, jazzy past. It’s no wonder that its current head bartender, Erik Lorincz, whom I interviewed a few weeks back kept talking about how he felt so privileged to be part of that legacy. In particular, I liked the stories from past head bartender Joe Gilmore, who has served up cocktails to Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Judy Garland, Julie Andrews, Ingrid Bergman, Neil Armstrong, Ernest Hemingway and Charlie Chaplin. I was equally stoked to learn that the “Joe”  in one of my favourite Johnny Mercer jazz songs, “One For My Baby” is that very same Joe Gilmore himself.

Frank Sinatra captures the romantic nostalgia of being a bartender perfectly with this live performance of One For My Baby. His preamble is just as poetic as his rendition.

“Some of the songs are songs of sadness, basically – unrequited love and loneliness. This is a perfect one representing that kind of description. A man in this case, a guy whose lady is gone and he’s been hurting for about a week and a half, sitting in a small room, never venturing outside, drinking up some bad booze. Then one day he says, “I’ve got enough.” He takes a walk, a stroll, about say around midnight or a little later, and he falls into a small bar, where only the barman is there. He’s just looking for somebody to talk to. By the way, he’s slightly bummed, didja ever get that way? No? Nobody? Aw, c’mon now.”

It’s quarter to three,
There’s no one in the place ‘cept you and me
So set ’em up Joe
I got a little story I think you oughtta know

We’re drinking my friend
To the end of a brief episode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

I know the routine
Put another quarter in that machine
I’m feeling kind of bad
Won’t you make the music easy and sad

I could tell you a lot
But it’s not in a gentleman’s code
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road

You’d never know it
But buddy I’m a kind of poet
And I’ve got a lot of things I wanna say
And if I become gloomy, please listen to me
Till it’s all, all talked away

Well, that’s how it goes
And Joe I know you’re gettin’ anxious to close
So thanks for the cheer
I hope you didn’t mind
My bending your ear

But this torch that I found
It’s gotta be drowned
Or it soon might explode
So make it one for my baby
And one more for the road


You Must Believe In Spring December 30, 2010

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 12:23 am
Tags: , ,

Heard this song at a concert earlier tonight – the singer told the story of this song in such a convincing way I felt she was speaking right to my heart. Here’s another beautiful version by Tony Bennett & Bill Evans (probably my favourite male singer and pianist of all time – gotta find this duet collection!)

When lonely feelings chill
The meadows of your mind,
Just think if Winter comes,
Can Spring be far behind?

Beneath the deepest snows,
The secret of a rose
Is merely that it knows
You must believe in Spring!

Just as a tree is sure
Its leaves will reappear;
It knows its emptiness
Is just the time of year

The frozen mountain dreams
Of April’s melting streams,
How crystal clear it seems,
You must believe in Spring

You must believe in love
And trust it’s on its way,
Just as the sleeping rose
Awaits the kiss of May

So in a world of snow,
Of things that come and go,
Where what you think you know,
You can’t be certain of,
You must believe in Spring and love


You must believe in love
And trust it’s on its way,
Just as the sleeping rose
Awaits the kiss of May

So in a world of snow,
Of things that come and go,
Where what you think you know,
You can’t be certain of,
You must believe in Spring and love

You must believe in Spring and love
You must believe in Spring and love


The Oliver Tree December 25, 2010

Filed under: Inspiration,Life in general,Mopey mops — mel @ 11:40 am

A Christmas photo streamed in from Facebook ends up being a personal symbol for this particular period of my life. This has been the most painful period of my life thus far – the kind of sadness that you know will change the entire DNA of your soul and outlook in life. Pardon the melodramatic overtones; I promise I won’t launch into a self-pitying tirade.  In the meantime, here’s the said image:

Oliver Tree Dec 2010

Ok not the perkiest of pictures but this gloomy, chilly tree brings me cheer and hope nevertheless. This Burr Oak tree is situated at the Katy Trail in Columbia, Missouri, where I spent the happiest time of my life as an exchange student. Now I know the Midwest is usually not a dream destination for many, but this little campus/agricultural town has been my utopia for all the wonderful people I met and its unpretentious, scenic beauty. And this tree has always been the epitome of what I loved about this place.

Memory #1: Winter is almost ending and the Olivers (and that’s why I call it the Oliver tree) invite Vanessa and I over to their house which is along the Katy Trail. Vanessa cooks curry while I cook braised pork (something learned only the night before from Eric, a Malaysian student who had the necessary condiments). After dinner we go for a walk and come across this tree. I touch its trunk and take in a deep breath. “It has an old soul,” I declare mystically but no one is really listening as Vanessa and the Olivers are discussing the strict health regime of going for a run every day. (Incidentally, the above photo is from Dr Richard Oliver, who was the Dean of the Physiotherapy at that time and the kindest, nicest host around who kindly “adopted” me even though I wasn’t a health science student under his charge)

Memory #2: It is the beginning of spring and Vanessa the health nut manages to rouse me into going cycling one weekend. Gyfer (another helpful Malaysian student) insists on accompanying us two ladies. We rent bikes and my bike is too high for me and the the meant-for-male seat really kills my butt. We have to make many rest stops because of my problematic butt and one of the rest stops is back at this fateful tree. Gyfer insists on taking a photo at each rest point (there are a lot of photos of me crouch-squatting on the ground, whining) and he snaps one of me at the tree. “Maybe this one you try posing with your bicycle?” he requests of me politely. Below is the result – I may look quite miserable but it’s really just the physical pain. Overall, I really enjoyed myself that day. Cycling for one whole day – I’d like to be that fit again.

Oliver Tree March 2001

And at a more existential level, I notice that both images of this tree show it bare, without a single leaf. But it’s always been there all these years, this Oliver tree, living and breathing, and even in its botak state, it radiates so much presence and soul. And this is how I’d like to be even during the dark, empty times of my life. Realistically, I know that really, what I’m now is just a shrivelled, withered stalk, but I’m reminded of this verse:

“She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her, and happy are all who hold her fast.” Proverbs 3:18 (It’s actually talking about wisdom, but isn’t it cool wisdom is interpreted as a feminine entity that all women should try to emulate?)

For now: it is a time to die, a time to kill, a time to break down, a time to weep, a time to mourn, a time to cast away stones, a time to lose, a time to rend…but this is just a season of life after all, and there will also be times ahead to be born, to plant, to laugh, to dance, to heal, to love.

Oliver Tree in Bloom

Blessed Christmas, everyone.


Sunday Musing November 21, 2010

Filed under: Inspiration — mel @ 12:53 pm


“To wait open-endedly is an enormously radical attitude towards life. So is to trust that something will happen to us that is far beyond our imaginings. So too, is giving up control over our future and letting God define our life, trusting that God moulds us according to God’s love and not according to out fear. The spiritual life is a life which we wait, actively present to the moemnt, trusting that the new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination, fantasy, or prediction. That, indeed, is a very radical stance toward life in a world preoccupied with control.” – Henri Nouwen