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Thursday, February 29, 2024

Hello, 2024.

2024 is the year I will turn 40. It's genuinely a disbelief for me that me.. me.. ME.. I..? I am turning 40? LOL. Just literally yesterday I went to pick up my daughter from school and when I went to the reception counter, she gave me a "student form" to fill in. I guess I still look the part for a high school student? :D

But yes, 40. But age is just a number, really. Who cares. You do you. You feel you. You feel how you feel inside. You don't have to change yourself just because of a number. Stay hungry, stay foolish, stay curious, keep learning, embrace life with an open mindset because there's still sooooo much to learn. I have this goal of living in this world until I am at least 100 years old, and if the universe allows me, that means I STILL HAVE 60 YEARS AHEAD OF ME. Wow. Isn't that actually amazing? I can still learn so much in this world, and I want to. I'm excited. I'm always thinking about what skill should I master next. What course should I take next? And while I keep growing, I am just as excited to spend all my remaining years with the people I love unconditionally.

On the other hand, life's been...weird. For the past 2 years, I have been struggling to write. I have nothing to write about. My mind has been in such a messy place, my thoughts are all too scattered to gather to be put into words. But today I'll try.

It's funny because as you get older, you actually get...a little bit sadder. Sad because one day you wake up with flashes of memories that you have buried or tried to forget or even truly forgot and wow, they suddenly just come back. I think, when we are young(er), we focus so much on "succeeding" (whatever success means to you) that we put aside so much of our feelings and just work, work, work. We have so many dreams to achieve, we live with this high-adrenaline rush and all we care about is building our career, or our reputation. To be able to say, "I did it!", seems to be the main theme of life in these years. The years of proving yourself. And it's normal. It's exciting. But in all that process, we actually disassociate so much from our inner selves because our outercase mattered more. Usually it's all unconscious. But as we get older, the conscience starts to grow (back), little by little, and it starts eating you up slooooowly and painfully. Or I might just be talking about myself here LOL. Pardon the generalization.

For the past 2 years, I have been doing work on myself. I realize I have so many open wounds inside of me that I didn't get to heal or even give thought about. All the childhood trauma that I endured, as Dr. Gabor Mate eloquently puts it, was not necessarily about what happened to me, but what happened inside of me because of what happened to me. I now realize that I grew up with 'neglect', having family who were always physically present for me at all times, but were emotionally unavailable for me. I have always felt alone and misunderstood. My opinions rarely mattered, my ideas were more often dismissed, my dreams were never taken seriously, and so I became familiar with the idea that I don't matter, and that's okay. But it's not okay. But I didn't understood that. I knew what I knew. Familiarity took over my senses. I became accepting of always being the second in everything. "I'm just a kid. What do I know, right?".  I was always the ugly one. I was never made to feel beautiful, and as a result, I didn't care. But you see, I should. I should care. I should feel beautiful. Because what is more powerful than a little girl stepping out of the house feeling empowered because she knows she's beautiful. And strong. And kind. And intelligent. And that she mattered. And all that affirmation should have come from her own family, her safe space. But she never got them. So she became strong on the outside, but broken on the inside. 

All these realizations only came after...more than 30 years of life? That's how long I survived a battle I didn't even know I was in. What took me so long? Why that long? And today, everyday, I am able to make sense of why things are. Why I am me. Why I do the things I do. It is all connected. That's how significant the impact of your childhood quality will affect your whole life. And I mean it. Your whole life. I get so upset when my husband forgets a tiny detail of a story I was telling him, because "forgetting a detail", to me, means he didn't listen to me fully, which means he was not listening to me enough. And you see, I always felt that my family never listened to me enough. And that little girl inside of me is still upset and she never had the chance to work on her wounds, so today, when something similar happens, it evokes the same feeling, it becomes a trigger. I get upset. And that's what I still need to work on. 

But today my head is clear. I understand things better. I am a constant work in progress. I am kind. I am strong. I am beautiful. And I matter. ❤️


Sunday, December 31, 2023

2023 Reflections

 

  1. In any situation, be the kind one always.
  2. Being kind allows you to take control of life. Whatever comes your way, you will be able to stay calm and composed because you are as light as a feather, floating with grace.
  3. Say what you need to say. You deserve to be honest with your feelings.
  4. When people take you for granted, draw a line. You can still be kind, but you can set boundaries on how much (or how little) they deserve your time, attention and energy.
  5. Stop entertaining people who only come to you when it is convenient for them.
  6. Focus on what you do best with deep, genuine passion. Your consistency will organically lead you to great opportunities.
  7. Say "no" again and again if that's how you feel. Your life, your choice.
  8. Be unapologetic with your life values. Peer pressure is foolish. Stay away from friends who pressure you into doing things that you are not okay with. 
  9. Nerds are the coolest.
  10. Happiness is an accumulation of small, sweet memories. Focus on those small moments.
  11. Be grateful because you're alive today.
  12. Every morning is a new opportunity to become better. Be better.
  13. Acknowledge when the people you love are unfortunately toxic. Don't sugarcoat. Don't find justifications. Don't be trapped. Acknowledging is your first step in finding a solution for yourself and for your relationship. 
  14. You cannot change people who do not want to change. You then realize that changing people is not your responsibility anyway. Focus on yourself.
  15. Learn to communicate your feelings eloquently. Don't make people have to guess how you feel. Tell them how you feel as clear as possible.
  16. Many people are selfish. I am not. I am kind. I am wise. I am strong. I will stay that way.
  17. You have to make your days fun by being a fun person. Learn to be a fun person.
  18. Life is difficult, so it is important to have a great sense of humor and find humor in hardship.
  19. Humor heals.
  20. Love heals.
  21. Kindness heals.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

My Little S

I haven't shared much about Shahmeer lately. Not sure why. Probably because life with autism is hard, or very hard, that I just end up rarely talking about it. There are many times when I share about our struggles to another person but the response I get leaves me feeling worse so over time I end up thinking that "not talking about it" actually feels better. I get it. I get it that not many people get it. And so people often don't know what to say, or how to respond. But as a society, learning about things you don't understand is an act of love and kindness. You cannot always expect other people to educate you. Get educated yourself. My son stims so much by making loud high-pitch noises like a squeal that never ends the whole day, it actually really hurts my ears that I get migraine every day. To be honest, it drives a person insane. One day I ended up buying earbuds to wear at home, to reduce the noise I get in my ears, and when I told my mom about it, she laughed. She laughed because she thought it was funny. But you see, it's not funny at all. And it hurts to go through so much but have nobody understand. I am tired of people literally saying to my face, "I hope you find a cure for Shahmeer", as if autism is a form of illness that can be cured. It's just how he is. He's born different. Imagine saying to someone with one leg, "I hope you grow another leg". It's the same. It's wrong and oblivious. I realize that I have shrunk myself a little, feeling less "big and loud" as I usually was, because I feel for my son. It aches me to see how the world sees so little of him and views autism in such a dismissive light. Nowadays I talk less, I share less, I live in my own beautiful world that is my little family. I love my children so much and to actually have one of my own be misunderstood, or ignored, or not included in cousins outings, is an attack to my body and soul and whole being. I am still learning to be stronger and better, for me and for him. Right now, my light is dimmer than usual and that's the reality. 💖

Sunday, October 1, 2023

How Small Are You?

We're all just tiny specks in a massive universe, but tiny doesn't mean insignificant. We might be small but we can choose to be big ~ big in our actions, in our thoughts, in our hearts, in our bottomless desire to be the kind one amongst the ruth. Be the small star who shines the brightest. Never let anyone dim your light. ✨

Friday, July 28, 2023

C'est la vie 💖

Finally back in Indonesia. For the summer holiday.


Today I took the Bluebird taxi home, the driver was old and friendly, asked a lot of questions about me which felt very sincere and genuine. So I told him about my life in Switzerland. He was so fascinated and curious about how life is on that other side, so I told him the many things I love about the country, about how different it is compared to Indonesia without trying to compare the two countries in a condescending way of course; just basic, realistic comparisons.


At the end of our conversation, he said to me:

"Miss, I'm so happy to hear your stories. I'm so proud to see you thriving there even though I know it must be tough to live in a foreign country all by yourself with no help. You and your family must be very strong. Really, and I really mean it, it makes me happy to hear about it. I think it's very inspiring"


And just like that, my heart felt the warmest warmth I have never felt in a very long time.


Living in a foreign country is indeed very tough, a lot of us quit and return back home. Very few understand this, most just see it as "oh wow you're so lucky, you must be doing well there". It's not at all like that. It's hard. Anyway, I always believe that kindness is usually found amongst strangers. Kindness is real and it happens to you in different ways. Always be kind. Even to strangers. 💖

Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Almost Over

Just 3 months until 2022 is over?? I don't get it. I know we always say this but it truly feels like this year went by so so fast. This year has been so fulfilling but incredibly mentally challenging as well for me, it's not easy, it never has been. I was thinking the other day..where do I get my energy from? And I realized, most of the times, I get my energy from sadness. I channel my sadness into making something, perhaps that is why I like smileys so much? Because they make me happy or feel better? It's funny isn't it. Our hearts are so gentle, our minds are so fragile, we need to take care of them. Nurture them with things that make us happy. Love ourselves completely. And embrace our vulnerability because it is actually our biggest strength. 💖

Thursday, June 30, 2022

The Duality of Us

 I don't know how to explain it. It feels heavy. It feels suffocating. It's stuck inside me. I've been trying to get rid of this feeling, but it stays. The past few months have been difficult. I have been trying to heal myself through various ways, but it's just not working. I'm disappointed. A recent chain of events this year have triggered me to remember my past, some hurtful things that I didn't even remember, and now I understand that that was my brain's self-defense mechanism to cope. I erased it, or buried it (?), until recently it resurfaced again. I'm disappointed. Of how I was treated back then. I always felt like I was an outcast, like I didn't matter, like my opinions were never valued, that my being was not beautiful enough, that I was less from everyone else. Whether the matter of fact is true or not, it does not matter. That was simply how I was made to feel as a child and a teenager. Whatever I do, was never enough. I hate that feeling. So I decided to take control of my life and "do things my way", "care less about what others think", and simply "love myself if no one else does". I took control. I still do. But it also hurts when I remember these things. In fact, the very people who made me feel this way, still makes me feel this way. How sad. Isn't it funny. I am a mother of two who takes pride in being the best mom for her kids (or at least I try), but I am also, also a child who was hurt and never really got over it. I am a lost adult child wandering, seeking, craving for love, but I am also a mother so full of love and life. There are many sides of a human, now I understand. A part of us can be broken, but the other part can be extremely strong that nothing can shatter us no more. We learn to live with both.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Alone or Lonely?

What is love? Is it to forgive over and over again? Is it to set yourself free? Is it to compromise and give and not expect in return? What is love? 

Love is a strange thing. No matter how much we have it, it can still make us feel lonely. Even when you love yourself too. The mind continues to wander. Where else can I find more love? Do I even need more? Or perhaps it is that I have too much of it? Maybe that is love. This curiosity, this quest. It is the journey of love.

Friday, June 18, 2021

I'm Fine But —"

"What do you do?", new people I meet will ask me. "I'm a designer and book author", I tell them. Yes, a designer AND author. Pretty ironic though that this author hasn't been able to write anything for the past two years. Not even a single page. I even struggle in writing a blog post nowadays. I told this to my husband the other day and he said to me, "just write whatever is in your head at the moment". Ah, yes. How could I have forgotten that. Perhaps I have been asleep for too long. 

"How are you?" 

"I'm fine", I will most often reply with a smile. I'm fine, I really am. I just like to omit the second sentence which is supposed to follow, which actually depicts more of the reality. 

 "I'm fine. But, my life is complicated". 

My life is complicated. I just don't tell people. I want to be honest with you. Having an autistic child is not easy. It's far from easy. It's like having the stress and exhaustion of raising a toddler, but multiplied by 10. Just multiply everything by 10; patience, strength, effort, time, energy. As a family, our dynamics are completely different. Our routine is different. We cannot do what other families do. We do what other families don't do. When it's summer and everyone heads to the beach, we go to the mountains because we will always look for a place where no one is around. It's a quiet life far from others, but very noisy within our very own. Our son is very loud, always screaming. And so I learn to be quiet, to balance the noise. Our son turned 7 this year, and yet we still do the exact same things since 5 years ago. He still eats the same food, watches the same cartoon, likes the same toys, and for us parents, we relive these moments every single day like a loop. It's very repetitive. I wish there was a "Stop" and "Next" button in our lives, but there isn't. So I learn to accept that this is my story. Our story. 

As our son's screaming becomes louder day by day, the noise in my head has too. The volume levels are just so high my head hurts. They say it takes a village to raise a child. But where is that village? I don't see it. I am certainly not in it. In this whole wide world, there are only two family members who actually care, support and help us in dealing with our life-with-autism struggles. Said two people are my own mom and dad. The others just look at us, as if their stares help moreover make us feel any better. There is no village. It's a very small circle. The definition of 'family' has been redefined in my head.

My life is complicated, but I'm fine. I have learned to compartmentalise the things in life so one does not affect the other. I don't let our complications affect me in being me. I'm still my old cheerful self who loves life. I still get up excited for Mondays (new week woohoo!), I still get dressed, I still work, I still create, I am still grateful for all of it. I am learning to untangle this tangled ball of yarn that is my head, and perhaps writing can help. Just remember: never let your struggles defeat you. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

Hello, 2021!!

2020. What a strange year. It started with big hopes, high expectations, a strong sense of optimism that 2020 will be a new decade for great, amazing things to happen, but it rolled into a mix of confusion, fear, panic, stress, anxiety, apathy, and sadness for the loss of so so many people. It became a collective feeling of "we're all in this together", but also divided because of the many ways we each decided to respond to it; to wear a mask (or not), to stay at home (or not), to meet friends (or not), to travel (or not), and once again we retracted into our own bubble and decided to think of our own safety and less about others because "you do you". We blamed the government, we blamed other countries, we blamed strangers, and we developed a sense of helplessness because really, what else can we do. So we focused on our very own lives, decided to learn something new, explored a new hobby, discovered new interests, and we started to enjoy our alone-ness. 2020 became the year of self-revelation. We finally met a new version of us inside us, and we loved ourselves even more. And therefore, 2020 wasn't so bad afterall. Goodbye, 2020. In all the mess, there was progress. 💖
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