Happiness is... stepping out of your comfort zone

Posted by ~Summer~ on September 11, 2019
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I like to think that I am a risk-taker who doesn't mind doing something crazy every once in a while. Let's see, I've tried to chase the Aurora with a one-year-old baby in tow, I've done skiing and fell countless time, I've gone on a 3D2N fishing trip as the only female on board, I went jet-skiing when I was six months pregnant, I've done things that I didn't imagine I would or could do.

Now, as a mum, it is my wish to encourage my kids to find opportunities to venture into the unknown, to scale greater heights and to never let anyone tell them that anything is impossible. I want them to believe that they are more capable than they think and to realise that many a time, all it takes is an undying faith, determined spirit and lots of grit.

In August's "Happiness is...", it's about learning to step out of our comfort zones, believing in ourselves and going beyond our limits.


My biggest achievement last month, or perhaps the whole of this year, would be completing my first ever Spartan race! Right, it was just a 5km sprint that took us over two hours to finish because of the many obstacles along the journey, including the low walls, rope climb, ditch crawl, weight lifting and so on. The hubby was feeling certain that I couldn't make it and out of worry for me, he even told me to drop out of the race at the last minute because I "haven't been practising for it and will not make it". Fwah. I tell you, the more anyone tells me I can't, the more I WILL do it. Yup, I'm stubborn and headstrong in that way, so I told him I was going forth with it and nothing ain't gonna stop me.

Well, I even accompanied the girls on their 800m and 1.6km runs in the morning so that already got me panting under the sun. I wanted to do it because I wanted to be the one to encourage them, cheer them on and also capture some precious memories for keepsake. After their runs,  I realised my left shoe sole had fallen off entirely lor. Uh oh. How to run my own race later ah?

"Don't let it stop you, don't let it stop you" was what I kept telling myself that day so eventually, I managed to change shoes with the hubby - he had spare in the car - even though it was three sizes up and off we went! Woohoo. Were there times when I wanted to give up? Yup, it was absolutely exhausting and I had to stop to catch my breath so many times. Did I injure myself? All limbs intact but I did suffer from dozens of bruises because I really gave it my all. Will I do it again? Yes, I definitely will.

The medal means more to me than others because it's something I never thought I would earn. It's a reminder that maybe I'm strong than I think I am and I can do more if I set my heart to it. Kudos to the girls too for being real awesome in their races and can even tell me "Mummy, this time one like quite easy" and "I don't think I perspired much". Yup, they are well on their way to their Trifecta medals liao.

May we continue to push ourselves and achieve great heights together. AROO!

Weekends are precious to me as you know because we like to spend time together as a family. Without a doubt, we will always choose to go outdoors for some sports, play or exploration rather than going indoors or staying home the whole time.

In thinking that the girls had not cycled for a long time, we decided to go and rent some bikes and just have a family cycling trip! It turned out that we felt one hour was too short so we wanted to rent for two hours but the staff at the shop told us we could get a buy-2-hours-get-1-hour free deal. And so we did. The girls cycled the two-wheel bikes on their own while I ferried the boy on our cute 亲子车 which even had a mini handle and footholds for him, much to his delight. Oh, there was also a basket which was perfect for us to carry our barang barang lar. But, one look at the bike and you can tell it's not a mountain bike or what so was I going to survive three hours on it with my over 15kg load?

It turned out I did and the hubby was most impressed that I made it UP all the steep slopes without having to dismount and push. Fwah, it's really 用尽全力 okay, such a good workout for me, haha. We only stopped for a short while to explore Coney Island and take some photos too, other than that, we were cycling, singing and listening to music all the way. Fun!

The girls amazed me by not complaining of fatigue or asking to stop for more breaks too. In fact, they were happy to just keep going and going. Once, Ariel lost control of her bike and veered off the path down slope and almost knocked into a tree! Thankfully, she reacted swiftly and held onto the tree to balance herself while letting the bike fall. Phew! That was a close shave but guess what, she immediately picked up the bike and hopped on again.

Dear Asher, I hope you will be as determined and brave as your sisters when you grow up too! They love roller coasters (越刺激越好咯), creepy crawlies and are not afraid of the dark too. May they inspire you to conquer fears and find the courage in your heart too!

August also marked our nation's birthday and we were very thankful to be able to attend the NE show this year. Yes yes, that's one of the good things about having a naval officer as a spouse and we are grateful for the chance to witness the National Day Parade year after year. He also gives his all for the nation, including sacrificing family time, precious sleep and I don't know how many meals a day because of his erratic, busy schedule. I don't even think there is a comfort zone for him because every day, he is stretched to the max, presented with new challenges and going way out to do what's best for our country. All I can say is, let's never take our peace, safety and harmony for granted just because we don't see what goes on behind the scene day in day out.

We don't often try out new food or restaurants because we tend to stick to the ones that we are familiar with - and don't cost a bomb. That said, I've been wanting to let the kids try out Slappy Cakes for a long time because it just seemed so fun and so we did last month! Woohoo! We ordered two types of pancakes and let ourselves be creative by making drawings, doodling, doing handlettering, signing our names or just making an edible mess.

It wasn't a cheap meal and I don't think we will be returning anytime soon but hey, we've been there and done that, right?

Meeting up with grandparents is also something we do on almost every weekend or fornightly. We like to bring them out for a meal, let them play with the grandchildren and just spend time together as a family. Without these people in our lives, who will we be? The hubby came across this Hotpot place called Shi Li Fang in Eastpoint and my parents were so pleasantly surprised by how yummy and relatively cheap it is that they have declared they find it better than Hai Di Lao (which the hubby and I still have not gone together or brought the kids because it's so ex). Haha.

At the end of the day, nothing beats a simple homecooked meal. I might not be able to cook every meal every day but I still make sure that the kids get to eat my homecooked dishes regularly. I don't have any 拿手好菜 to show off, but I think I have the most important ingredient - LOVE. Oh, can I add another "Happiness is..." statement?

"Happiness is..." when the kids finish everything in their bowls and say "Thank you, Mama, cooking for me!"

On the subject of food, we've also been dining out at the hawker centres more often nowadays, especially after their enrichment classes. These kids are now used to it and they know they should not complain about the place being hot and stuffy, no air con, lots of people, tables not clean etc, but to instead be thankful for the food that is placed in front of them. Yup, I hope they don't take it for granted that we can always go to restaurants or even food courts when we are out, but to make it a point to save money and go for the cheapest option available. Money is truly hard earned, yeah? Every cent counts. After all, to us, it's not so much about what we eat but who we are with.

I haven't had much time to craft with the kids this year and that's something I really need to work on. Nonetheless, we still try to do whatever we can in our free pockets of time and I truly love to see where their creativity takes them. Last month, we learnt about making clay slabs and were able to design and paint our own.

We've also been making presents for Teacher's Day this year and the kids have been writing and writing in order to show their sincerity to their teachers. Bookmarks might be a simple gift but I still believe that it's the effort behind that makes all the difference. So, ours are done from scratch using nothing else but paper, pens and markers. Oh, and a lot of heart.

The kids have also been enjoying their art lessons at heART Studio and one particular incident that struck me was how Ariel chose to include a toothless her in her clay portrait. Many of the kids were pointing and laughing about how there is a black hole in her teeth, but her teacher told me that she was okay with it and in fact, she was the one who said she wanted it to be like that because it depicted the real her. Awww. My pretty, little bo-gei. I wish you will always be able to smile your best smile, show the world who you truly are and not have to worry about what others think of you. Mama thinks you are an awesome girl and you have the sweetest smile!

Actually, I think we did craft a little more than usual last month as the little girl and I were tasked to come with a DIY costume made out of recycled materials for one of her school projects. She was supposed to choose a book character and after much deliberation, she settled for a pink butterfly. Using felt, newspapers, pipe cleaners, cardboard and ribbons, we put this look together for her. You should have been how happy she was and couldn't keep fluttering when she wore it.

It hasn't been easy finding inspiration and time to write my column in Zaobao but I am determined not to give it up. It's amazing how much motivation I get when I see the comments or messages from you all so that really makes me wanna keep going. Dreams are not easy to come true so I'm definitely holding onto this passion of mine. That said, it still is and will always be a challenge for me every month. I wouldn't say it is my comfort zone even though I love writing a lot, and every article is a proof of my hard work and the many hours of thought and effort that went behind. Nothing ever falls from the sky, right?

We took a venture into the unknown at Gardens by the Bay when we armed ourselves with nothing but flashlights, our curiosity and determination to explore. Yup, for hours, we walked around trying to find any sign of life. The big girl, whom I talk about in my column this month and how she aspires to be an entomologist, was determined to take photos of any bugs she saw so she could do a scrapbook later on. Much as I am not a fan of creepy crawlies, I did what I could to support her and let her know that we are always rooting for her. It was definitely a fun, adventurous and memorable night for all of us and I hope there will be more to come!

Talking about stepping, we definitely took lots and lots of steps in our 4km Skechers Friendship Walk this year. Read about our experience here. Yes, we take part in a lot of walks because I find it a good way for us to bond, make memories and keep fit together. This walk also brought us on a scenic route and it was such a great way to remind ourselves to be thankful as Singaporeans as we marched across all the iconic landmarks in our nation's birthday month.

Last but not least, we've also been watching shows, musicals and movies too just because we love to! It's never easy for me to let go of one kid but I'm trying to work on that so I can have one-on-one or one-on-two time which I can tell you feels vastly different. The girls and I went on a girly afternoon date when we were at the martinee of Aladdin and I think I ended up being the one who enjoyed it most.

We also caught Dora and the Lost City, PlayMobil: The Movie and Fast and Furious Presents: Hobbs and Shaw too, in addition to a couple of Netflix movies we watched together at home. Haha. Yup, definitely movie lovers! The key point is still doing things together as a family and I'm glad we are finding every chance to do that no matter how busy life gets.

Oh, and Asher probably also stepped out of his comfort zone too when he was willing to watch Walking with Dinosaurs - The Live Experience with us! Haha. This boy is afraid of loud noises, doesn't like thrills and doesn't like mascots, not to mention that these prehistoric creatures look amazingly real and he was finding it hard to believe it when I told him they were fake. So kudos to you, my boy, for braving it throughout and putting on your best roar when T-Rex came close to us too!

I guess that's about it for the month of August. It's still hard to believe that we are nearing the end of 2019 already but I'm excited to see what the year end will bring. Till the next month, people!

P.S. Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately too? Let's do it together and live life to the max because life doesn't stop after parenthood, yeah?


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