Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

life's journeyThere was a time in my life when I was going through a transitional and painful period.

I could not have made it without the support of family and friends. But at the same time, I had to do the work to heal myself and move on with my life. In the process, I realized that I had to learn to be my own best friend. I had to be my own advocate.

At times, when my internal dialogue veered towards being hard on myself or to be despondent, I asked myself this question: “What if your best friend had come to you, and said that she had that same internal dialogue about herself? What would you say to her?”

When I thought about it, I knew that my response would be to sooth her, tell her not to be too hard on herself, and offer encouragement or a solution. So I started responding to myself in this manner, and I found that this strategy that I had read about, helped a great deal.

My healing, as most are, was spotty, but slowly I felt somewhat stronger.  At the end of the year, when the shops were aglow and bustling with gifts and life, when everybody seemed to be happy, I decided that I would like to gift myself, for making it this far.

I wouldn’t buy anything that I need, just whatever that would catch my eye and evoke some excitement. One day, I walked into a Japanese department store, and I saw those small, beautiful blue plates with delicate white flowers. I knew that was my gift.

When I got home, and took out the plates from the package, there was a certain emotion, perhaps of calmness, associated with that act.

After that year I didn’t really keep the gifting as a consistent tradition. Some years I would buy myself a gift at the end of the year, some years I didn’t.

Today, my mind wandered to that tradition. But I think this year I have no need of gifting myself.

That’s because this year I have had the opportunity to spend much more time with family and friends, sharing history and strengthening bonds. I also made several new friends, enjoying the ease with which we could talk for hours, and offering each other support in our endeavors and in our understanding of the world.

That is my gift that has been handed to me this year. Intangible, but probably one of the best.

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The Hong Kong Orchid in full boom. And  along the way, it also took on fascinating shapes.

Spending time in the garden has taught me a lot of things.

Not just about plants and soil, but also other things, such as developing patience. Being patient, while waiting for a seed to sprout, or for a new plant to show buds of color and beauty. Being patient while the plants shuts down for winter, or shed its leaves, looking bare and undecorative.

I also learn that some plants may not root, and also sometimes, you can’t give up on a wilting plant, and that it can be nurtured back to health.

But walking in my garden in late summer, I was reminded of a life lesson I had been guilty of forgetting: that in my focus to reach my destination, I sometimes forget to really enjoy the journey or the stops along the way.

It took several walks in the morning or early evening for me to notice the flowers in various stages of bloom. It was as though I had never really paid attention to this before.

The Hong Kong Orchid, in its first few stages of blooms, astounded me with a geometrical-like shape. The baby plumeria spiraled outward with verve, reminding me of a top.

The flowers “talked” to me. And so I have to thank my garden for leading me back to this awareness. Thus, this year, I will remind myself that on the way to my goal or to whatever else I desire, I will be mindful to enjoy the journey, and not just the destination.

flowers and life lesson

The bud took on a crisp, geometric angle as the petals unfold.

journey of flowers

The plumeria in full bloom.

journey of flowers

I was fascinated by the way the baby plumeria spiraled outwards.

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de-stress with flowers

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“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

– Dalai Lama

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the effect of color

I like this pink shade: it’s calming and energizing at the same time.

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green exercise


Five minutes: that’s all it takes. A study conducted at the University of Essex found that five minutes of activity in the presence of nature (green exercise), such as taking a stroll in the park or gardening, can produce an improvement in mood and self-esteem.

It looks like a little time in nature can bring a big boost.

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smiley flowerLearn to be happier, or to have more happy moments every day – that’s a popular New Year resolution worldwide.

Happiness is both a definable and an abstract concept. What constitutes happiness may differ from one individual to another. There are some components of happiness that are valued by almost everyone such as enjoying positive time with loved ones and friends. At the same time, each of us has to manage our own mood and frame of mind. Here are some interesting, simple tips and strategies that I have come across:

  • Remember as kids, for weeks, we would excitedly look forward to a coming event or outing? Turns out planning or looking forward to something is a big mood booster. Researchers found that planning a vacation makes you happier and for longer than actually being on vacation. Similarly, planning to meet a friend, to read a certain book or to check out a TV program has that same effect.

It’s beneficial to let that inner kid out again: always try to have something to look forward to.

  • If you have some extra money, would you be happier using it to buy that shoes/shirt that you’ve been wanting or would you happier when you use it to buy a concert ticket or for a short trip?

    happiness tips

    The art of daily happiness.

A San Francisco State University study found that people who spend their money on life experiences were more satisfied and happy in the long run. The reason is that the initial happiness we get when purchasing an object can fade over time. On the other hand, the experience continues to provide lasting happiness through memories. And often, when we reminisce, we might land on some new insight.

  • Displaying souvenirs and photos around the house accomplishes more than just decorating our spaces.

People who use mementos or photos to remind themselves of good times better appreciate their lives and are happier, says Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, a professor of psychology at University of California, Riverside. These objects remind us of happy times and hold a promise that we can reach them again.

  • “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” -Mahatma Gandhi.

Best Wishes for the New Year.

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draw templateThere is a saying: “Laugh, and the world laughs with you”. Now, there might be a new saying:
laugh and your heart will thank you for it.

A study by cardiologists at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore suggests that laughter, along with an active sense of humor, may help protect you against a heart attack.

The study compared the humor responses of 300 people. Half of the participants had cardiac problems, and the other half did not. Michael Miller, M.D., director of the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the University  states that: ‘the most significant study finding was that “people with heart disease responded less humorously to everyday life situations.” They generally laughed less, even in positive situations, and they displayed more anger and hostility.’

He adds that perhaps we should add regular laughter to the list of things we do to keep healthy such as exercising and watching our fat intake.

There are many ways to find humor – funny movies, jokes , looking at the antics of animals and children.

I particularly like print cartoons. I appreciate not only the drawing skills, but also the special skill that goes towards creating humor in one succinct frame. I clip them and save them for a continuous supply of smiles and laughs.


Basic CMYK


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A day at the beach not only makes us happy, but can also make us healthy.

Everyone loves a day at the beach: the blue and the coolness of the water, the sea breeze and the relaxation of it all. Now, research is able to spell out its benefits:


  • The sounds of the ocean waves crashing against the shore lull us into a kind of hypnotic stage that not only soothes us, but also lowers blood pressure and stress. The sounds of the waves are one of the most calming sounds in all of nature.
  • The sea air feels different and it is. Sea air is full of negative ions which increase our ability to absorb oxygen. Negative ions are naturally found in places like the beach, waterfall, the forests and mountains, places that make us feel invigorated with the fresh air. They also help to create higher alertness, prevent allergies and combat depression.
  • Many of our lasting memories from childhood and onwards are the discoveries and the happy times associated with the beach. I like this quote from American writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “The sea does not reward those who are too anxious, too greedy, or too impatient. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea.”
  • And don’t worry if you can’t away to the beach any time soon. It is said that just gazing at a photo of a tropical scene can release serotonin, a neurotransmitter that can boost a person’s mood.
Huntington Beach is about 30 minutes away from my place. It's a pretty, cosy beach and the surfers are always there.

Huntington Beach is about 30 minutes away from my place. It's a pretty, cosy beach and the surfers are always there.

This is the view from  the chalet at Bintan island, Indonesia.

This is the view from the chalet at Bintan island, Indonesia.

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