Life – 15 Shades of Grace

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Do you find yourself battling internal conflicts from time to time? One day you are so determined to go on a diet and the next moment you find yourself indulging in a sinful molten lava cake *with vanilla ice-cream of course!

Yah, i have those moments… frequently. At first I blamed it on the lack of self-discipline, but I soon discover things are just a little more complex than what I assumed. I discover that a human being is extremely complicated, not only in terms of physical make up, but psychological functions as well. We have emotions we display freely, emotions we hide behind a mask, emotions so painful we sweep under the carpet and emotions so buried we forget they exist.

How do I know our emotions are so complexed? Well, think of an incident that hurt you real bad. Can you tell us what happened? I am sure you can tell the story as if it happened yesterday. With this, I know it is possible for us to have our emotions, memories, believe systems, judgements, learned behaviours and attitudes stuck from the past that may be in conflict with the ones we have currently.

I am still in the process of discovering how these conflicts form and why they don’t all just merge into one consistent unit. Well, so far I am guessing it is due to a person’s survival instincts that his/her personality splits into parts for different functions. (example, the working side of us, the partying side of us, the romantic side of us…)

I learned that everyone has three basic parts: the functional self, the protecting self and the emotional self. The functional self is also commonly known as our mask, the public self. The protecting part of ourselves is the survivor, the part that instinctively prevents ourselves from being hurt and move on from traumatic incidents. Lastly, the emotional self is the raw version of ourselves dealing with how we really feel, the one holding up all the pain, also known as the private self.

Of course these 3 parts are just the basics and you probably already know by now. However, I come to realise that within these 3 basic parts, there can be more than 1 psychological state/attitudes.

example:
I use to be a very carefree happy-go-lucky person, however when I turned 18 everything took a turn and I became someone who is uptight and intense. So what happened? “Ah! People change” you say, but what happened to the happy-go-lucky Grace? Did she really disappear or was she just pushed to the back because a new believe system has been adopted to make a obsolete?

Yah, I know… this blog is so abstract, is it even real? Why is it so complicated? Well, perhaps you are not so complicated, good for you! However, these are issues I deal with and my best resolution is through confronting these internal differences and accepting every part of me as just as important and has an equal say in my life. So, I randomly picked out a few major emotions of mine and list them below:

I say…

1.) Functional Grace: Thank you for keeping me sane and effective in the day to day operations.

2.) Happy-go-lucky Grace: Thank you for being positive, enjoying life, teaching me to free and that it is ok to be myself.

3.) Baby Grace: I love you and food does not equals love. Thank you for your childlikeness in my life.

4.) Sales Grace: Thank you for being passionate about your beliefs and constantly trying to influence the world for the better.

5.) Attitude Grace: Thanks for having a distinct attitude towards the various issues in life. Your strong opinions has stopped me from being a push-over, take a long hard look at things and form my own beliefs.

6.) Blue Grace: Thank you for holding up all the pain and sadness accumulated over the years that I didn’t want to deal with. You are probably very tired, I am sorry about that. I promise I will take time to deal with my pain rather than being in a rush to move on. Slowly but surely I will get in touch with those negative emotions one by one and relief you from so much burden.

7.) Protector Grace: Thank you for working so hard to keep me from being hurt, you have done so much. I do not blame you for those decisions that had negative effects in my life, I know you were doing your best. I appreciate you, you have done well!

8.) Loving Grace: Thank you for capacity to love others. Being so generous and accommodating to them even at your own expense. I know that sometimes people take advantage of your kindness and brought me pain, but I’d rather take a little pain than to be someone without a heart that’s worth more than gold.

9.) Romantic Grace: Thank you for believing that true love exist and for your relentless efforts to find it. I know it will *super* value add to my life when you do find it. My life will be so meaningful and fulfilled. Thank you also for upholding the standards of true love and not willing to settle for less. You made the right decision to end the relationships, you have not made a mistake and I commend you for your courage. I know it can be very tiring and discouraging at times, just know that I am supporting your quest always. Meanwhile, let us draw from the greatest LOVE of all who keeps us going. His grace is enough.

10.) Cute Grace: Thank you for making me laugh and other people laugh. You are a good source of entertainment from God, bestowed to this world as a gift. I will never want to grow out of you.

11.) Righteous Grace: Justice justice you cry! Amazing are your standards of purity, values and anger towards evil. I admire your sense of fairness and your heart for the marginalised. Thank you for trying to bring justice to my world and upholding your values. Trust Him who is the ultimate vindicator, the greatest Judge of all and may His wisdom guide us.

12.) Safety Grace: Thank you Miss Careful, your adversity to risk and danger has kept my life safe. Your rules and regulations, your formalities has also served me well in my life. Although sometimes you are too hard on yourself and me, I pray your standards be realigned to the standards of the Kingdom and not of this world. The prim and proper prude some say you are, to me, it is a much better label than a slut or a whore! *I know I shouldn’t use those words. 😛

13.) Diva Grace: Thank you for adding so much LIFE into my life. Taking me to parties, putting me on stage, being so fashionable and in with the crowd. Because of you, I was never the one left out, never the awkward kid, never the one who is without friends. You have brought so much joy in my life! Even though you took a big hit in the USA, i want you to know, you have never lost your edge. You are always the popular girl that draws attention, on earth as it is in heaven!

14.) Dreamer Grace: Thank you for dreaming. Never ever stop dreaming. Yes, many has seen you as a scatter brain, but you just have to stay true to those dreams that God has given you. I believe God is able to revive the dreams that have died. He who planted the dreams in you, is faithful and just to fulfil it. Don’t stress!

15.) The True Grace: (not in the photo) Man! It is tough to deal with all these personalities since the values don’t always agree. I am thankful to be managing so well so far and growing from glory to glory. I have to be more patient with myself and constantly check back to make sure I am balanced, whole and at peace with every part of me. Good job Grace!!

So next time I see a molten lava cake in front of me, instead of restricting myself saying “no Grace, you cannot eat that cake”, I will just reason it out with Baby Grace, “do you really need that cake? Can that make you feel loved?”. Usually the answer is not cake. So, in conclusion… Baby Grace understands, Diva Grace gets to diet and I am happy. *peace*

Life – The Night

Fear creeps
Sadness dances
Tears roll
Doubts crash in to test faith

Hope defers
Heart sick
Knees bend
It’s a dark night tonight

*thank you cyber friends, your likes are like stars in my black sky

Art – Poison Berries

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Title: Poison Berries
Inspiration: Unforgivenss has crept into my life over the years. A drop in my veins and a decade later, my life was a garden of poison berries (coz u just have to keep one bush and they can multiply and take more territories). I had symptoms of distancing myself from others, hatred, anger and finally, loneliness. I knew I had to do something to save myself, I had to forgive, but I felt like it was something beyond my strength.

Reflecting back on all the attacks, the wrongs done to me… the injustice (getting in touch with all the negative emotions from incidents that birth unforgiveness)
Me: Lord Jesus, I lift up all my burdens to You.

The Lord: Yes, it is quite a heavy load. (Not only did He take the heaviness away, He blessed me: showers of roses fell from the sky, hearts floating everywhere… I felt so loved, free from all the pain and responsibility to avenge myself. As soon as the burden lifted off me, the realisation of the wrong I did to others sets in)

Me: Lord, I am sorry for the wrong I have done to others. Will you please forgive me?

The Lord: I understand, I forgive you. With the love I have given you, you are now empowered to love others. (He smiled and hugged me.)

Me: Grace, since the Lord has forgiven me, I forgive you too. We are ok now. (smiling to myself, I am now at peace)

Symbolism and Meaning: The purple blue berries represent bad fruits in one’s life due to unforgiveness. Red represents the blood of life, the power to help someone forgive. The poisonous fruit falls off once the plant is filled with this new life source.

Medium: Color Pencil (in water) + Digital Type and finish.

Acceptance

Acceptance does not necessarily mean defeat, but can be a mark of maturity and the first step towards greater things ahead.

The Broken Specs

Most things
will be okay eventually,
but not everything will be.

Sometimes you’ll
put up a good fight &
lose.

Sometimes you’ll
hold on really hard
and realize there is no choice
but to let go.

Acceptance is a small, quiet room.

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Life – Exposed on the first date

Today has not been the best of days. I met up with my date for lunch and it was a total disaster. Just 10 minutes into the conversation we started having disagreements and getting emotionally charged already. It was a Chinese KungFu lunch dual, he threw his darts of false accusations at me and I deflected them with my shield of emotional intensity and tone of dismay. Looking back, I regretted my over reaction to the situation. It clearly was a misinterpretation of intents and poor communication skills on both parts.

How could I have exposed myself to be so vulnerable to a stranger? Why was I so affected by the misjudgements of another about me?

It is common for all of us to wear a mask in public, especially when meeting strangers. I have to say my mask is a pretty one, one that is self confident, oozing with sweetness and a keen interest in others. However, my pretty mask fell off today over statements made about me that I know to be untrue. This incident has revealed that I am not that secure about myself after all, not that kind towards others and a lack of ability to see things from another’s perspective. Although I didn’t enjoy the conflict one bit, I am grateful that it happened. It is through situations like these that we get a reality check of ourselves. Why do I fear being misunderstood? Why the desperate need for others to think that I am a good person?

I believe the root of my problem is the expectation I placed on myself to be a perfect person and to appear as Miss Congeniality. Any form of tension or negative comments threatens my self worth. I equate being perfect to being love-worthy. If I am not perfect I will be rejected, by others and worse, by me. I was often misunderstood as a child, and having lost my father at the age of 5, I suffered from the fatherless syndrome that became my trigger later in life. My initial response to a false accusation was to agree with those voices that said I was a bad person and did not deserve to be loved, but a part of me knew what they were saying was not true. I felt alone and unprotected, helpless and unable to speak up for myself. I later perceived the accusation as an attack that threatened my identity, I told myself to be strong to defend myself and to fight the enemy!

The solution to my over reaction is not simply to exercise better emotional-control or to build higher walls, but rather, seek healing for my soul. Everyone has issues, this afternoon, mine became apparent. I felt like someone poured salt into my open wound, thus screaming and yelling would was an appropriate reaction (thank God it didn’t come to that). In conclusion, I have decided to embark on a journey of getting these wounds healed through self reflections, seeking professional help and by supernatural interventions. I look forward to the day that I no longer have to wear a mask. The day I can be free and comfortable in my own skin.

“I’d rather be an imperfect (all of) me, than a perfect somebody else”
– Perman Grace

PS: I know there are organisations dedicated to the works of inner healing, if you are interested, you can google Restoring The Foundation (RTF) or The Open Hand – Help, Hope and Healing for a Hurting World (www.theopenhandinc.org) and many others.

Love – In search, I find.

Are you searching for love? If so, what are you expecting to find?

In regards to marriage, I’ve been told I am already an expired product… yes, expired like 6 years ago. *hahaha* It is funny, but to a certain degree, I know it is true in my cultural context.

When I was 24, an Indonesian auntie was match making me with her son and speaking to me regarding the idea of marriage. I told her with the sweetest smile, “thank you auntie, but I am still too young to think about marriage at this point”. At that time, I was already in a relationship with an American-Born Chinese boyfriend for a year. Her response was a shocked expression, an awkward smile and silence. Little did I know the social norm for my people is to have kids by their mid 20s and she was doing me a favour offering her son to me as a potential life partner.

Down through the years, many more opportunities of that nature passed me by and I questioned if I made a mistake not accepting any of them. All of those proposals are from well to do families with above average looking candidates, however, when I met up with those eligible bachelors, I didn’t feel the click. I felt like I would have compromised if I agreed to any of those offers.

So what am I looking for?

Many people settle down to have a functional life partner, to have someone to start a family with, to have a companion, to have a living ATM *che-ching*, to fit into the social norm…but I am looking for a soulmate. Ya, I know, many people will laugh at me, thinking I am naive. Maybe you are one of them. 😛

I am looking for someone who can see me, understand me and love me for who I am. Someone who has the same heartbeat, the same deepest cry and the same vision in life. Someone I can lay my life down for and who would do the same for me.

It seems like this is a quest too hard for me to fulfil. Perhaps I am asking for too much. I fear my soulmate doesn’t exist. I feel like I am running out of time. Just as I am entering the phase of desperation, signing up for every online dating site on the face of this earth, I remind myself to come back to my senses. What truly makes me happy and satisfied? What truly is a meaningful life?

This issue is of utmost importance to everyone, because the last thing we want is to be caught in our death beds discovering that we have lived a life that is based on someone else’s expectations or some social standards. Many of us don’t even know what we really want in life. *damn the advertising and the brain washing… haha* The fact is, we only have one life to live and it is our responsibility to stay true to what we were born to do, to fulfil our unique purpose on this earth. Therefore, it is not a matter to be taken lightly when choosing our life partner.

It is a tough choice I have made and I am taking the risk of remaining single for the rest of my life. Still, the prospect of being single is more palatable than being with the “wrong” person. My youth coach once told me, it shouldn’t be up to me to decide if I am going to get married or to be a celibate. It is about being open to God and allowing Him to guide me into what is best for me.

So now I remain neutral. Putting myself out there dating, meeting new people and yet staying calm, celebrating my singlehood daily. Meanwhile loving myself and receiving love from various sources. I am grateful for my life as it is and I find that happiness is not limited to one person or my marital status.

“I saw something white on the waters, as I focus in, I see it is actually a swan and it is actually you. A picture of such grace, such beauty, such calmness…” – John Koe

Art – Winter Rose

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Title: Winter Rose
Inspiration: After being hurt by the ones I deemed closest to me, I was closed off to the idea of letting people enter my inner world. This distance has done well to protect me from further pain, however, it impeded my ability to experience love as well. It came to the point when I start losing chunks of happy memories and various stages of my life are a blank to me. I realised that was my subconscious helping me cope by erasing memories related to those people who have hurt me, good and bad. Upon discovering this, I had to choose. This piece is to encourage and remind myself to choose love.
The original artwork is give to my third sister, Megan. How appropriate since it was my first piece of revived artwork and Megan was the first person who inspired me to create art.

Symbolism and Meaning: The survival of the rose represents the depts of our love banks ready to stand against the dangers of getting hurt by the harsh environmental conditions we live in. We constantly have to make a decision to love and never give up hope. It takes courage to let people into your heart and embrace love at the risk of getting hurt again.

Medium: Color Pencil (in water) + Digital Type and finish

Art – Sheep

 

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Title: Sheep
Inspiration: Revelation of the limitations of what I can accomplish by my own efforts and what I am capable of doing when I discover my true identity and realise it.

Symbolism and Meaning: The sheep represents me.

Medium: Pen (sketch) + Digital finish

Life – Do I know you?

“You only truly obey the one you love, you can only love the one you trust, you can only trust the one that you know.”
– Moses Largado
I heard this quote at Petra today (petra.sg) and I have to say it has been a life changing 2 hr session for me. It amazes me how a person changes almost instantly when he/she gains a new perspective. Beliefs determine the person we become and the greatest battles are truly in our minds.