Monday, 25 July 2011

Live Within Your Means

How many of us pretend to be rich but have nothing? - 'There is that maketh himself rich, yet hath nothing' Proverbs 13:7.

You see that cute dress that you do not really need and cannot really afford, but you put it on credit.  You know those shoes are well out of your budget but look great on your pedicured feet so you buy them. Even though a cloud of doubt is looming over your head telling you to do otherwise.  You insist on buying an outfit for your child that will be too small before you can blink!

Why do we always choose to live beyond our means?  Credit is so accessible nowadays it is ridiculous.  I received a letter from my bank offering me a card with $100,000 (50000 GBP) credit.  Can you believe it?  I neither asked for, nor wanted it.  However it was approved and waiting for me to use at a reduced rate. 

I have cleared my debts on multiple occasions, and it feels great.  For some reason I manage to reinvent the wheel.  This year is the end of that vicious cycle.  In my bid to be financially free, I have to be debt free first.  It is so debilitating when you have to pay large sums from your monthly salary to clear your loans. 

Fair enough paying for a mortgage is an investment in an asset hopefully.  However that LV bag or Gucci watch doesn't an asset make.  Women in particular, we need to be more mindful of our money.  Seek education on investing.  Get a hold of our finances, start budgeting and saving for our future.

I started a fund for KC when he was born with the aim that his University education will be paid for several times over by the time he is 18.  God willing the funds invested will thrive and I will not have to worry one bit about his fees, housing, books or anything. 

Consider putting something in a fund for your child.  Definitely stop purchasing what you cannot afford.  If you need to do it on credit, unless the circumstances are dire, don't do it if you know you cannot repay in full when the monthly bill arrives!  Is a new Ipad worth your stress levels when you end up paying twice the original price by making minimum monthly repayments?

Start a money club with your friends where you can advise each other on ways to cutback.  Go to hypermarkets together and bulk buy and split the bill.  Buy the supermarket brands as opposed to name brands, they really are not much different if at all.  Cut out the nonsense channels that you never watch on cable.  Cook instead of takeaways.

Save for the year and  buy clothes during the sale.   I am guilty of insisting on buying Ralph Lauren clothes for KC.  I like how they fit, are durable and look smart.  However I buy a few to last him the year at half price and he looks cute for 50% of the cost!

I endeavour to only spend what I can afford. Say it with me, do it with me!  It will not be easy as I am starting a business, however I will just have to take that little bit longer to get my business up and running.   

Would like to hear any ideas you have on cutting costs and living WITHIN your means.


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Follow Your Soul

I finished my previous role on Friday, and have a week of respite before starting my new one.  I am in 'nam again, completing the things I didn't last time, and getting some well deserved rest.  I slept in late and didn't get up until noon today, it was a beautiful thing.  I have been so tired.

This post is a follow up to my Letting Go post.

Kindred (my non blood brother) sent me several mails yesterday, and as always, he inspired me.  He commented on different things that I have written, and left me with some food for thought.  The guy is so amazing!  Anyway, in one of the mails, he ended it by saying: 'Follow your Soul...'

Bang! That him like a 10 ton truck.  I have been toiling with a few things and praying for some guidance or a sign how to move things forward.  Friends and family will attest to the fact that I always talk about my waters (gut feel).  My waters have been telling me that I need to feel comfortable in all aspects of my life, otherwise I will be off  balance (hence the illnesses).  Also, that it is my responsibility to fix that which I feel is broken.

Doing so can often mean making shifts in patterns, moving parts around or even discarding the broken or rubbish aspects of your life.  Sometimes it is easier to go with the status quo than make waves.  I have never been a conformist, I always go with creating waves as opposed to the flow, so why should that change now?

Over the last few months, I have been looking at each element of what makes up my life. Whether it be job, relationship, motherhood, friendships and analysing what I do and do not like about them all.  Some I see changes need to be made (hence the new job).  Some things are easier to change than others.  Adjusting certain fragments of the life one has become accustomed to definitely can arouse fear. Who wants to deliberately put themselves outside of their comfort zones for goodness sakes?  However as Denzil Washington says... 'Do what you have to do, to do what you wanna do.'

It is time to make a conscious effort to spring clean my life, discard the refuse and follow my soul - without fear!  With that in mind, I have to continue to eliminate the chaff in my life and start to make sure I am good with all aspects.

How often do you sit and complain about the dead end job you have been in for years?  Or maybe it is that annoying friend that is always getting you down?  You know you would be great in another career but you have fear of failure.  You love your partner but doubt that the future with them will live up to your expectations? 

When your waters tell you something, you should listen.  At times the alarm bells ring LOUD and we choose to ignore them.  We know something feels wrong and we go ahead anyway, ignore the signs, the writing on the wall and then regret!

Don't regret.  Don't wish you listened to yourself, as no one knows what is right for you more than you.

'Follow your soul...' -  Kindred

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Letting Things Go.

It is my last week at my current job - yeah! I am eagerly anticipating my next role and intend to attempt to do as Wallace Wattles said - '...give every man more in use value than you take from him in cash value.' I intend to apply this by giving more than 100% and doing a great job! Give them more than their monies worth so to speak.

After almost 2 years here I am very excited to be leaving. It was great while it lasted, but I am glad for a new start and I'm ready to move on. Letting things go is the name of this post as leaving here to seek new opportunities even though I generally like this job has me thinking - Why do we stick with things just because? Why don't we just Let Go?

This applies to jobs, excess weight, clutter (so many of us hoard rubbish), annoying friends, but worst of all addictions and toxic relationships. The latter two I have witnessed are the hardest to let go of right?!! It seems that the older we get, the more we lack in wisdom when it comes to relationships sometimes, and the weaker we are at breaking bad habits.

Why does a beautiful successful woman choose to hang on to a guy that is useless, thoughtless, worthless and is LESS than she deserves and still stay for the long haul? Why would a smart guy with a great job and future choose to excessively drink, become a drunk and lose everything?

Bad past experiences, desperation, insanity, could be all or none of these but I see it time and time again. What ever demons possess us, insecurities that envelop us, fears that overwhelm us we have to let them go.

I too have been there, hoping an annoying relationship lasts, knowing I could do better, and I stuck with it. My poor excuse was infatuation and obsessed with not failing. Losing your rationale and knowingly being taken for granted beggars belief, but we do it. Stop!

  • If you overeat - just stop. Get to the route of the problem, but while seeking to understand the reason try to get healthy in the interim.
  • Ladies, bad relationship - you know it's bad. Walk!
  • Gents, you're nagging girlfriend or wife is a serial cheat - move on.
  • If you hate your job - go find a new one!
  • Users addicted to recreational drugs - they do slow your brain flow - you know this - give it up.

What should YOU be letting go of right now - tell me? I just let go of a good job for a better one, so it doesn't always have to be about letting go of the bad, it's about what's better.

Am I making it sound too simple, that's because it is. We complicate the simplest things. Whatever it is that it is not good for you - and you have been choosing to do it anyway - LET IT GO!
If you can do better do. Be Better, Not Bitter (and SMILE)!

PS: See my Raising $$ page - 22 days to go I need your ideas.


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Stay Well....

Did you know that it is reported that more than 70% of Doctor visits are stress related?

Cancer, ulcers, insomnia, migraines, muscle tension even rhematoid arthritis are all rumoured to be caused by stress.

Stress being; our body reacting negatively to situations that we find threatening, that cause us anger or a feeling of being imbalanced. It begs the question: How much can we control our stress and our reaction to it?

3 weeks ago I had a growth removed from my colon, and I am suffering from Chronic Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining). I have had stomach issues for years. Bloating, discomfort, and such delights. I didn't notice any particular trends, but it was becoming more and more common so I went to the Doctor.

She said it was just stress, she gave me some pills and looked at the door - I wasn't ready to leave. I insisted that this was looked into further as the discomfort was bearable but annoying. Long story short, I was referred to a gastroenterologist who said I should have a procedure performed immediately.

A week later after having had a gastroscopy and a colonoscopy I was told about the growth that was removed (benign) and the gastritis. The cause of which as the first doctor suggested was stress. I was stunned and it was a reality check. If I didn't stop taking things so seriously and didn't ask for help when needed, I was heading downhill.

It's not all doom and gloom and I am fine (I am feeling better already and expect that after completing the medication for the 6 week duration all will be well). I just need to use this as a trigger point when I get stressed to STOP!

When we hit our 30s we really should get annual health checks. The body is a mystery and we may look fine outwardly but all may not be well within.

Ladies, be vigilant. Get your smears - cervical cancer will go undetected. All those who have had unprotected sex, get checks for STDs and start protecting yourselves (that goes for older women too). Chlamydia is a silent internal destroyer. I have heard of women having to have a hysterectomy because of it. Have hormone checks DHEA, FSH, TSH, Oestrogen, Progesterone - hormone imbalances can make you feel unwell. Tumour marker checks, Colon and mammograms are a good idea too.

Don't take your health for granted. Get EVERYTHING checked once a year! Prevention is really better than cure.

Men equally should have annual checks. Prostrate, testicular and colon cancers are killing you men at alarming rates. Get these checked at a minimum.

I ask that we be more conscious and take care. This is not a rehearsal this grand thing we call life - when it's done it's done.

Watch what you put in your body via your mouth and your mind. Think about things that make you smile and partake in enjoying them. Make time for you and those you love.

Above all have more fun and stay well - I certainly will.


Monday, 18 July 2011

Behind Closed Doors....

I am sitting here as I hear my neighbour beating her child until he screams and begs her saying he is sorry. He is no more than 6 years old.

In between his sobs she is ranting in her mother tongue. That is the first time I have heard her being the abuser, usually she is the one being abused. Every few months her husband beats her incessantly. I have complained to security, I have sent them a note complaining about their general noisy behaviour and informing them that I can hear everything. What else can I do?

I live in a society where domestic abuse is not totally recognised as abuse. It is somewhat path of the course. So calling the police serves little purpose. As such, I listen to them scream and shout at the highest octave, slam doors frequently, and act out of control. It is so unbearable at times. Particularly after hours (2am fights are their favourite).

I am at times awoken by a shriek of fear, causing my heart to beat uncontrollably. I feel anxious and in a daze then I realise.....I do the usual, call security, and plead with them to go and speak to these people that are the bane of my life. So much drama.

I wonder if they have any pride or concern about the entire condo hearing their domestic abuse sagas. Clearly not!

On this occasion I gave a countdown and said to myself that if it didn't stop, I was going to do something. They just stopped - it is dead silent. Unbelievable. I have lived here for over a year. I never hear those children. I know there are two of them, but they are virtually silent. That is the first time I have heard one of them and his pain broke my heart.

I know it can be hard with disobedient children and I am not against smacking but these people take it to another level and it makes me so mad.

KC and I are always laughing and playing and making noise so I guess they hear us too.
I certainly do shout when required, but I am mindful that expressing my anger by screaming like a banshee really does little for my nerves and serves little purpose for getting my point across. I certainly am not about to beat KC until he pleads for forgiveness. I receive a much better reaction from him when I speak to him with a calm but stern tone rather than shouting anyway.

Sadly though, these people are demonstrating to their children that the way to deal with their anger is physical abuse. Shouting I can just about deal with but the physical abuse.....The painful screaming that takes place is reflective of that abuse.

We all have the right to relate to our children and partners how we see fit. We certainly should be able to live in our homes without being condemned. I just cannot condone it. The thing is, I never see them or I would certainly say something. I only hear them.

See a pic below of our condo. We live in a really affluent, nice neighbourhood. Makes me wonder what goes on behind all those other doors. Behind my neighbours closed doors, the husband goes into demonic rages, the mother does likewise and the kids are witnesses and sufferers of it all.

For me that is nothing less than Horrific!

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Living In The Moment...

Why do we get caught up in seeking futures and forget about our hobbies, and passions? What about enjoying life now?

I told my Mother that I am so bored without KC. Her response was 'Write your book...wash ur 'ead (hair). Go chill with a friend. Ring Dr Mc D (Honey) and talk dirty. Go sleep.'

It got me thinking...... When exactly did I become so boring? I vegetated for the entire day. I didn't speak to anyone except Mum (we talk every day). I then started to think: What were the things I used to do when my home life consisted of just me, myself and I?

My biggest passion is music. I have a wall in my apartment covered with over 3000 CDs and Music is my sanctuary.

Upon reflection, I realise I haven't bought any music for almost a year. I am horrified......

I am also a photo fiend. My friends used to call me paparazzi as I was always taking pictures. I would find pleasure in going to the Botanic Gardens and taking a photo of a flower, or an insect. Above all I adore taking pictures of everyday people. I used to go everywhere armoured with my camera. I am going to start to do so again. Capturing moments on film is wonderful.

Karate...I am a brown belt and only 3 grades away from a black belt. I bought a place, moved away from my karate centre and haven't been in over a year. I am busying myself with things...things that are stressful, and I am not striking a good enough balance with doing the things that I love anymore.

The only passion that I have maintained is books. I have shelves and shelves of books and am always reading. Jeez at least I have sustained that.

So I woke up this morning and endeavoured to reignite the lost passions in my life. It's all good trying to be superwoman for this wonderful future, but what about the cool things I indulged in during the past, which make for fun times and joy in the present? So I started with my first love. Music!!!

I made a video for KC and will send it along with my I miss you message. I played my music loud, and I danced until I sweated like a long distance athlete. I watched it back and could not stop laughing at myself! Letting, go and just dancing like crazy was so great for the soul.

It made me realise that I cannot move like I did in the 90s even though I tried my hardest to get my old skool groove on. It made me realise that I am sooooo thin (thank God that I have maintained the same size for 20 years but I am sooooo thin).

It made me realise that I need to go and buy some music (although music nowadays is not reflective of real music like in the 70s, and 80s and some early 90s. When there were bands that were not so electronically assisted). Whatever happened to Phil Collins, Earth Wind and Fire, Dire Straits, Frankie Beverley & Maze....where you could hear the percussionists ping the triangle, and the guitar strings play? The good old days.

I am going to now go and browse through Little India, buy some interesting food, cook myself a good meal (I haven't cooked for myself in years), and enjoy the time as a woman. Motherhood will return in a month. So why not just live in the moment!

Friday, 15 July 2011

Man In The Mirror....

KC has just gone to London. I said my goodbyes reluctantly and eventually let him go through immigration when I couldn't hold him back any longer.  He left excited to be visiting Grandma and his Cousins, waving emphatically with a big gorgeous smile.

I went into the bathroom and shed a little tear.  This dialogue before his departure made me smile instead of feeling sorry for myself - my Snugglebug.

KC: Mama, are you ugly?
Me: Are you ugly (in between fits of laughter)?
KC: No.
Me: Are you cute?
KC: No I am handsome.
Me: Am I ugly?
KC: No you're beautiful.
Me: Ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

I relish in his confidence and the fact that kids say exactly what they see or what they think.  My question is: At what age is saying exactly what you think to your parents, lacking in manners and unacceptable?
I encourage KC to be frank and say what he feels.   To express himself, but to do so with common courtesy.  Please and Thank You are essential and I don't give him ANYTHING without hearing these words.  I know many that are not as anal about teaching their children to make those simple but meaningful gestures of respect.  Each to their own, but there is nothing sweeter than a child with manners. 

Back to my question.  I ask this as I got word that a family member in expressing their thoughts to one of their parents, does so in a way that is disrespectful, undermining, rude, and down right unacceptable in my opinion.  Worst of all, doing so while living under their parent's roof.  Are you kidding me?

I would give a Brown belt (yes I am a brown belt) karate kick right in KC's behind if I ever had such an interaction with him.  Perhaps it is the way I was raised, but parents, in fact elders in general, should be treated with respect. 

I in no way advocate accepting abuse from parents or adults.  Assuming that parents are generally good people....I do believe that we should hold them in high esteem.  Hearing children being mean and rude to their parents makes my blood boil.

I also feel that as long as we are not disabled, we should position ourselves in life to help our parents as they get older.  When I see parasitic behaviour - kids of age who live at home with their parents, freeloading, not contributing in any way they can, not getting themselves together, I find it diabolical (living with them and helping is not an issue).  When these kids do this and have the audacity to not show their parents basic respect, that is intolerable.

I am trying to show KC how to take care of himself from now.  Cleaning up after himself, good hygiene, taking care and showing consideration of others.  No he is not perfect, and I do have to withhold his juice in anticipation of a thank you at times, but generally he demonstrates good manners for a 5 year old.

For me, being a good mother and providing for KC is chief in importance.  Being a good daughter is equally significant to me.  Don't get me wrong, I don't profess to being perfect but if I have said anything that was not appreciated by my Mother there was no malice intended, apologies were genuine and it will not be repeated.

I endeavour to do anything to see my Mum well, happy and healthy.  I judge not those that can be childish, and expect their parents to look after them forever.  That just doesn't float my boat.  I have too much pride.

One of my favourite Michael Jackson songs is Man In The Mirror - I always look within before looking without.  It really works for me.  To those of us who could do better and look within, the chorus is music to ones ears:

I'm Starting With The Man In
The Mirror
I'm Asking Him To Change
His Ways
And No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself, And
Then Make A Change

One thing I do believe in, is Karma! Fundamentally, in my experience, what goes around, comes around.  So for those of us that disrespect others (worst of all our parents) - Karma's gonna get you.....

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Good Mother?

I ask myself.....Am I an Ambitious Woman trying my hardest to be a Good Mother or am I a Good Mother trying my hardest to be an Ambitious Woman?  Which is more important?  Personally I think I am both.  In answer to which is more important?  Again, I would say both.

Being a Good Parent takes so much responsibility.  What is a Good Parent anyway, and if one asks for help does that mean they are not a Good Parent? 

KC is well clothed, and goes to a good school. He is 5 and has been to every continent except America (that will change when we go to NYC in Sept) and Antarctica.  He has the latest electrical gadgets.  He is blessed in so many ways.   Because I provide all of this does it make me a Good Mother?  Nope. 

What he needs more than all these things is me.  My presence, my parenting.  My nurturing.  Kids feed off of interaction.  They need to be loved.  To have time spent.  To be taught.  I do my best but I cannot do it all.  I just can't.  Do I feel guilty - Nope.  I am only human.   Some Parents are hell bent on doing it all to the jeopardy of whatever it takes.   Not I.  I prefer to ask for help.

I am one of the more fortunate Single Mothers that has someone that lives with us (who we lovingly call Aunty).  To those Mothers who do EVERYTHING alone and have no one, I praise you - Seriously!  Don't get me wrong.  I am still spinning a lot of plates and trying to keep them spinning.  Aunty is in no way a substitute for KC's Mother.  However I realised very early on that if I wanted to do all I do while I am a sole parent.  I need help!

Aunty helps take care of KC, our home and me.  She has lived with us for 4 years and due to her love and sincerity, I am able to have a career, a social life, and be a Mother to my son.  Without this, I am sure I would pass my days in a zombie like fashion.   When she is not around, and after a long 50+ hour working week, maintaining the stamina required to sustain the energy of a growing boy is exhausting.

You see for me, and I only speak for myself.  I can be a Good Parent as I have the equilibrium in my life to have space for me.  To work as required, to maintain the standard of living we have become accustomed to and to take the time out for KC so we can bond, play, talk, and just be.

I owe Aunty so much and can be who I aspire to be due to her help.  Trust me, I am not afraid of asking for help.

As a result, I was able to go to Vietnam and be the 'Ambitious Woman' trying to get my Business moving forward.

My trip to Vietnam was a fruitful one.  I managed to do a most of the things intended.  Relaxation, business, quality time with Honey, but through it all I missed KC immensely.  So much so, that I came back early without completing everything I needed to.   Hence my initial question above!

The Ambitious Woman headed to 'nam on a quest for Business.  The Good Mother didn't  complete the quest (only temporarily I must add), as she wanted to do her parenting.   

I am going back when KC leaves.  I have delayed progress slightly, but coming back home early was the right thing to do.  We had a great day and he didn't leave my side.  We read, talked, hugged, made a lot of noise and had quality Mama and Me time.

He leaves for London in 2 days and will be gone for a month.  I cannot stop thinking about how long that is.   I know he will be fine with the family and will have much fun bonding with TonTon (uncle).  It is good for him.  I just cannot go but that's where Aunty comes in.  Nevertheless, I am already counting the days  (30) until he comes back.......

PS: Happy Birthday Sam - One of the Best Mother's in the World!
PPS: Thanks to my Mother for teaching me so much - especially the meaning of Unconditional Love.

Golfing In The Sun Is So Much Fun!

How does Tiger Woods make playing golf look so simple?

I have to say, I have wanted to give it a try for many years, and really enjoyed it at the range.  Honey came equipped with about 10 different clubs in various shapes and sizes, ready to get his swing on. 

There were 3 women who were clearly seasoned players of the sport.  They had the visors, golf shoes, golf clubs, the stance, and knocked the balls a good distance.  I came ill-equipped with shorts, vest top, flip flops and an inability to hit the ball.  I did the typical swing and totally miss.  Can hitting a ball really be that hard?  The answer is yes!

After Honey's patient instruction I managed to hit the ball. I was elated.  It was so cool.  No where near the 220 yards he did of course, but the meter away was satisfying.  I am determined to go again and improve my swing.  Not sure where I will find the time, but I will definitely go back again.

My joy with Golf wasn't extended to one of the suppliers.  She had a nonchalant attitude and did her own thing rather than consulting me.  I don't like what she produced so am waiting to see what she does to improve the goods.  

As Henry Thoreau said 'For it matters not how small the beginning may seem to be: What is once well done is done forever'.

You see she probably thinks she produces so much and my request is small in comparison.  This is not acceptable.  With everyone that I do business with, I need unity of purpose. If I begin by producing rubbish that's the end before I get started.  So I have to put my assertive ChAna in gear, get her on the same page or use someone else.  My waters tell me (gut feel some like to say) that I will be doing the latter.

Just breathe I tell myself.  Just breathe....

Monday, 11 July 2011

Mind Over Matter - If You Don't Mind It Don't Matter!

Why is it that one can go to work everyday and be fine, and as soon as they are on leave, they get sick?  I left work Friday evening and have had the flu since.  In 30 degree heat, it isn't pretty!

Nevertheless even though I have had to self medicate in order to breathe I have come here to get things done so I have to apply 'Mind Over Matter'.

Vietnam is a cool place to visit.  Having been here 5 times, I am used to it for the most part, but I will never get used to the dog eating (see the before and after pics below,) and I am almost certain that one beef dish I had was not beef (tasted good though). 

I have managed to meet all my suppliers and I am patiently awaiting my samples.  I even forgot I had the flu. It didn't matter.

You see I have to think beyond the menial deterrents.  I could have easily stayed in bed and rested, but I have a 7 year plan.  In 7 years I am retiring.  Financial freedom - chilling in my beach house.  At least one mortgage paid and enjoying life. Most of all achieving this while remaining content.  That's the goal.  Yes many people pay lip service but I AM doing this!  I aim to do this while always giving back.  Even if it is volunteering like I do now.

How I am going to achieve that goal has varied over the years (it started as a 10 year plan), but I will get there.  I feel more mentally prepared now and know that at least one of my ventures will get me there.

I aspire to not have to work as hard as my mother did to provide us with all the great things we had growing up.  In saying that, I think I may have to work as hard but for quicker and better returns.  I know that nothing ventured, nothing gained and expecting great things to be handed to me on a silver platter is comfort to a fool.

I also have to strike a balance and relax too - stress is a killer.  Literally.  So in saying that I am off for a round of golf with Honey.  I say round of golf as if I have had any clue, but playing golf has been a dream of mine for years so I am really looking forward to it.

I aim to hit the ball at least once and I will be happy.  See how it goes.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Does Living Away From Your Family And Leaving Your Past Hinder Ones Future?

Men and Women really think differently (that's a whole topic of conversation in itself). 

There has been a stark difference between the feedback I have had on the whole Aspergers topic from my Male friends Vs my Female friends.

My female friends have empathised, sympathised and recognised the struggle of being a Single Mother raising a son.  They have acknowledged. My male friends' reaction has been very different.   They are not accepting that it is as simply as ABC or in this case Aspergers.

When this whole situation initially arose a few months back, I spoke to my family about it.  My younger Brother shook his head in disbelief.   He thinks that KC merely needs some positive male influence in his life and to be surrounded by family.  He alluded to the fact that although our life is significantly better in Asia, that  the Asian culture may not be 100% conducive to KC's needs. 

My Brother said that in his interaction with KC, he deemed that KC is an Indigo Child.

Admittedly the definition does fit KC's personality for the most part.  Nonetheless to be honest I had never heard of this until my Brother mentioned it. 

Likewise, my Honey said at the time, 'Nonsense....he is a 4 year old boy with a strong personality who knows what he does and doesn't want to do and expresses that....Not all kids develop at the same time.' 

My other little brother (not my blood relative but a kindred spirit), wrote a very profound mail to me on Friday.  I won't quote him word for word but he too reiterated that KC is immersed in a culture that is not his own.  A conformist culture which for a child that is non-conformist can be difficult. 

He said 'A warrior trapped in a shopping mall will even eat soap.....nothing strange about it.'  It made me chuckle, but I get what he is trying to say and it resonated with me.   He went on to say that I should give KC room to kick around and hang/socialise with kids like him.  I think he is right.

Coincidentally I am sending KC to spend the Summer with the family in the UK.  Quality 1-2-1 time with his TonTon (uncle in French), and time with his Grandma, Cousins, Aunts and Uncles.

 It makes me think though. KC  was born in Australia, and we moved here when he was 6 months old.  He has never lived in the UK and has never been around his family. One would think then that he would adapt to his surroundings as this is all he knows. In saying that, I was born in the UK and have never felt the bond with the country that I feel with Asia, so where you have grown up may not have any bearing on where you feel more settled or at ease.   Therefore it is possible my brothers are right?!!! 

I want to give KC the best opportunities.  However my experience and the benefits I have had moving away from the family may not be what he needs.  As such I am seeking a compromise.  I intend to give him a chance to be surrounded by an environment that befits him (even if it is only for the Summer, Easter or Christmas).

He is really looking forward to seeing his family next week.  Above all, he is healthy, happy and loved.

Has my leaving the family behind in the past been a hindrance to my future (my Son)?  Time, trial and error will tell!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Long Distance Relationship - Is It Possible?

Aside from my Aspergers research I am busy embarking on a new Business Venture, as well as starting a long distance relationship (the relationship already existed the long distance part just began).

Initially I was repelled by the thought when My Honey told me he was leaving the country to start his Business in Vietnam, but as I have said - 'Acceptance and Go with the flow' so I am going with this.

Admittedly going from popping by his place and hanging out when I feel like. To video conferencing via facetime (apple app for the non converted), and once or twice a month visits, doesn't fill me with pleasure.  I have become accustomed to the joys that a good rapport with a decent dude brings.  I am also very much a tactile person,  I can hardly hug a video screen (not without feeling insane anyway).  However I am going to make the most of it. 

I have sought to find the benefits of having a boyfriend off shore.  Errr still thinking.  At least coincidentally a vast amount of my business will take place in Vietnam too.  It is only a 2 hour flight, I like travelling and so all is well I keep telling myself.

I used to think that long distance relationships didn't work, however I have two great friends who are about to marry their long distance honeys - you go girls!  So I can all but try.  I need some tips on keeping the fires burning from a distance though....Any ideas?

Some tips for lasting the course that I have come across are Define your relationship, Communicate openly, Be honest, Exercise patience, Give encouragement to make it work.  I think that all these are required regardless of distance.  In saying that I guess boundaries do need to be set and expectations managed.  We had the expectations talk.  Remaining exclusive, making sure we talk regularly.  Make the effort to be in the same place when we can.  I was skeptical at first but now I am embracing it.  So watch this space. 

As such I am taking my first trip (under the long distance girlfriend persona) tomorrow to prepare business things (and see Honey of course).  So I am looking forward to the break! 

I guess this is an introduction to the Mother wanting to do everything side of me.  I'm being Mama. I will be starting a new job in 3 weeks -which is exciting.  In the meantime I am learning Chinese, volunteer reading with a 7 year old, kick starting my Business here and in Vietnam, seeking suppliers, getting samples made and agreeing contracts. 

Then Honey needs support right now - he didn't anticipate the drama that comes with moving to a country to start a Business when they don't speak much English.  So he is filled with angst.  Going to cook him some good food and.............make sure he eats it ;-).   I feel like I need to keep busy it seems.

I must add that I will not be talking too in depth about my relationship just topics that arise out of being in one and seeking opinions of others where I see fit - So Honey don't fret.

Vietnam here I come!

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Educating Oneself!

I have been on a quest to seek further information on Aspergers.  I have joined parent support groups and am reading what I can.

Apparently there are a vast amount of prominent people that have/had this.  I say apparently as I do not know for sure, and there would be just as many people that will vehemently deny that these people have/had any disorder as those that suggest they do/did.  So please don't quote me on this....   

Nevertheless, just assuming the various sources suggesting they have/had this are correct then some of them are:

Bill Gates, Einstein, Jane Austen, Marilyn Monroe, Virgina Woolf, William Shakespeare, Alfred Hitchcock, Darwin, Mozart, Beethoven, Edison, Mike Tyson, Woody Allen.  To but name a few.  

If this is the case, then it proves that it can really go undetected.  Individuals that display behaviour types typical to those with Aspergers are often labelled as being disruptive or hyperactive (Mike Tyson).  Others are described as geniuses or brilliant (Einstein).  However these labels may have been given without ever looking at the underlying reason why these individuals may not be functioning (if they were not) as what society decides is the so-called 'A Typical' person.

My philosophy is 'Seek to Understand Before Seeking To Be Understood'.  As such I am trying my best to understand this.  I now get that due to Aspergers (undiagnosed) sometimes those that have this are unable to control impulses.  Even when they know something is wrong their body feels compelled to do so.

I have learnt that those with AS do not always know how to respond to certain situations (age appropriate of course) and shut down as a result.  Or alternatively they may focus on something they are more comfortable with.  This can result in them talking about something irrelevant in a conversation.

I have learnt that they are usually trying to deter being the focus of attention and prefer to escape. 

I don't know if this is even relevant to my child, but I do know that I have to provide more structured guidance as opposed to expecting natural developments to drive his successes and understanding.

I love him even more and now just watch him in adoration.  Not that I didn't love him exponentially before, I just feel like - ok I am getting it.  I can relate to him better. 

I have ways to go and I know this learning experience is going to be life long.  However I have noticed a difference in my behaviour already.  I realised this morning that scolding him is not my first approach.  I give him options as opposed to my way or no way.  He refused to go to the bathroom before school.  As opposed to fighting with him I asked if he preferred to use my bathroom.  He said yes, went immediately and we were all ok.

Regardless of whether he has AS or it is just a matter of time that he shows me the depth of his greatness.....I will talk to him as opposed to at him, I will reason with him, nurture him more and endeavour to be how I think I need to be to suit his needs as opposed to mine (clean up his toys with him rather than shout at him for messing up his room for the 10th time that day).  This will enable us to function better as a family. 

I feel a sense of relief.   I also realise that our children are little people and these simple things can be applied to any child regardless of their individual challenges, especially when seeking cooperation.  I know our journey has just begun, but I feel hopeful that it will be a great adventure.  I'll keep you posted!

Man I love that kid!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Motherhood - Aspergers?

As mentioned, I have a wonderful son, so cute (biased of course but he really is).  He has been challenging from the age of about 18 months.  We surmised it as being a boy, terrible twos, hyperactive...normal, 'that's the way it is'.  However it was not until I noticed that at the age of 4 his ability to comprehend and converse was not in alignment with his peers that I started to question.

I spoke to his teachers, they said he has an excellent memory, he is extremely smart, he will develop in due course.  I kept in touch with them several times a week.

Then one day out of the blue his teacher said she feels he would benefit from Speech therapy.  She reiterated what I had mentioned months back and said she felt he should be more advanced in his speech.

A therapist was recommended. We went to see her.  She immediately said she thought he has Aspergers Syndrome (AS) and was on the autistic spectrum after his first assessment.  Not clinically positioned to make this diagnosis I was apprehensive to accept this.  Also what on earth was Aspergers anyway????   Not to mention I was horrified that someone would suggest my boy was Autistic.

So what is Aspergers?  A definition I have found easy to memorise is:

Asperger syndrome is often considered a high functioning form of autism. People with this syndrome have difficulty interacting socially, repeat behaviors, and often are clumsy. Motor milestones may be delayed.

Read more:

KC (my son) displayed the difficulties with social interaction due to his language development delay, as well as repeat behaviours.  Earlier on, he had tantrums which he no longer has.  This suggestion was still a very bitter pill to swallow nonetheless.

So as I was saying about the Speech Therapy....He proceeded to have sessions, and I questioned everything.  Her approach, her methods, and applied my rule of seeking to understand before seeking to be understood.  

She didn't appreciate my questions and I didn't appreciate her inability to empathise, so I sought another speech therapist.

KC has been seeing a new speech therapist, she is great.  However she too mentioned her suspicions that he has the same.  I guess I have been toiling with this and somewhat in denial.  I have in fact read up on this syndrome since the first therapist mentioned it.   However with the sanitizer eating episode I have decided to find out more about this disorder.   I have not decided if/when I will seek formal diagnosis yet - but I sure will educate myself to the Nth degree.....

My new motto being 'Acceptance and Go with the Flow'.... I have chosen to acknowledge that my Son may have this and accept it if is so.  I have sought friends that have sons with similar disorders already (coincidentally I have two friends already within my social circles).  I am a book fiend, so I have already bought a few books on the topic today since making this decision.

He is a very bright boy, so I know he will be ok.  Nevertheless I fear how it will impact his future if he does have AS.  However I realise that by educating myself and those around us, it will not hinder but will benefit him.

If there are any parents out there that are willing to share their stories of your journey's I would love to hear.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

New Beginnings - My Journey

I have contemplated writing a Blog for a while, however the Procrastination sinks in and I never get around to it.  What was different today?  I was speaking to my Helper on the phone and she told me my 5 year old son was eating hand sanitizer.....

It may sound amusing - she also felt the need to emphasize that his classmates were laughing at this quirky act, but it upset me to the core.  He has a tendency to do these bizarre things, some say are traits of what seem to be Aspergers Syndrome (undiagnosed).

I think today I came to terms with the fact that my baby could have this disorder -this (amongst other things) made me want to write!  I need to vent, to share, to free myself of life's burdens (this is personal to me and I never seek to undermine the struggles of so many others' that are far worse than mine).  I hope by sharing I can find answers or peace of mind.  Maybe laughter, but something, anything..... Let's see.

A little bit about me.... I'm a 30 something Woman.  Single (divorcĂ©e - sounds more sophisticated, although I wish I did succeed at the institution of marriage), a Mother, a Business Woman, with a full time career in Banking and living in Asia (born in the UK).

I have lived outside of London for 7 years and am enjoying the fruits of Eastern Culture. 

My Journey began in 2006.  I left a marriage with a 6 month old son in tow.  Starting a new job, in a new country, seeking a 'New Beginning!'

I realised a few months into my time in Asia just how unhappy I really was.  Armoured with a gift of the now infamous book 'The Secret' given to me by one of my closest friends, I decided I was going to be 'Bliss'!

Truth be told I am for the most part content.  In all seriousness to say otherwise would demonstrate the deepest ingratitude.  My life is GREAT!  I own properties, I have a beautiful Son, supportive family, I have a great career, I have wonderful friends, a fantastic partner, I couldn't ask for much more right?

Knowing this and still feeling a gaping hole sometimes, has made me realise I have to seek within.  As externally I have all I need and more.

My Journey in the last 4+ years has been about Me.  Finding myself, understanding me and being happy with what I find.  However the last year has seen me focusing on balancing my individuality with succeeding at Motherhood.   The importance of moulding my little man into a Great person is tantamount to me fulfilling my goal to be a good person.  It is my duty.

The 3 most important things in my life are 1) God, 2) Me and 3) My Son (my Mother deserves a mention as without her I would be lost), however I did say 3.

So I will commence my Blog Journey, writing about how these elements of my life and life experiences in general are shaping who I am and who I am trying to be.

I do not have any pre-defined structure and will just write.  This Blog has no deep purpose other than for me to seek Inspiration and if I can inspire too then great, so please bear with me and also share with me.


ChAna H