The end of an era

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Guess what guys, it is the end of another decade. I am not trying to be that suspense-esque and mystery chic and all but it is pretty much the end of the decade, literally and figuratively speaking.

Have you guys have had a great year so far? Ticking off all the resolutions you made in January or have they whittle down sideways in March? Has it been a funtastic year all around or has it been dotted with unexpected disappointments along the way?

Well, as for me, upon reflection of the year, I have to say while there are teeny tiny changes, most things do tend to stay the same, as it does in most years. Sometimes I still surprise myself when the new year rolls around and I don’t grow an unexpected horn on my head or something? As human, we all tend to forget that the switch from 31 December to 1 January is just yet again, another day.

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I made resolutions religiously. If you do not know this about me, I am a huge list maker. I even made list about putting on my bra and brushing my teeth every single day, pfft like as if I will forget (actually wait, hmm might have forgotten once or twice, the bra part that is).

All I am saying is, I love resolutions. I made them so early on in the previous year, it is staring at me in September. Do I ever follow them through? Heck no. Except that last year, being a conscious adult and all, reviewing my goals every 3 months, I was able to stick to my resolutions loosely. The only goal I could hit was the number of books I read, that was passable and absolutely doable because I do love reading, even if it is just my “rom-com/chick flicks” books. Don’t you judge me now, they are my thang.

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I will admit though, the saving money and losing weight resolutions which I have had for the last damn 20 years have never been achieved. I am bad at saving money as I am in watching what I put in my mouth. But, having said that, I manage to emerge through the year still being in a fair good shape. Sure sure, my knee troubles me every damn day like a muthapucker but I, still damn grateful, I have my overall health in check. And guess what guys, that gym membership that I had silently, I have been going for lunch time classes (thanks to my work girls <3). I mean, can I get an A for effort at least? Some weeks are pretty great, I will be awesomely motivated, some weeks are not. But that is fine, we are all humans and that’s my gist for this entry, it is fine to be just fine.

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If you guys need a random reminder, let me be the one telling you this:- Let’s not be too hard on ourselves, we have others already doing that for us. So, let’s be nice and kind to our wee selves. Let’s do away with those unnecessary questions in your head about if you are enough? The answer is fuck yes, you are enough as it is and I know you are doing the best damn job you can for yourself, so you deserve a great pat on your sexy back. If you do not hit the jackpot in any part of your life, that is fine my friends. For if you wake up another day blessed to be able to breathe, you can try again.

You don’t save a million dollars last year, that is fine, at least you still have your job-however crappy it may be. You don’t get to snag that dream girl, that is fine you have amazing friends and lovely families having your back. You don’t manage to lose that 5 or 50 pounds, that is fine, just keep moving and start small, you will get somewhere I promise you. You don’t manage to conceive, that is fine, go hug your partner instead, you still got love. You think your life is boring, hey guess what.. yes damn right that is fine, you got a roof over your head, you are safe and warm and you are healthy and breathing, basic necessities are damn okay too. We are all fine. We can do more and we can do better. Don’t give up!!

I am wishing one and all, a jubilant new year, the ushering of a new decade and may all the brilliance trail you along in each and every way. Stay awesome all you cutie possums!!!!

With this said, HAPPY NEW YEAR YOU SEXY THANG!

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How (or where) I like my CAFFEINE to be in?

No no no nooooo

I will not be writing about the generic you-know-hows about coffee or coffee beans simply because I am not a big coffee connoisseur at all. I am also not a coffee snob so I cannot tell you much about a cup of coffee. But today, I will tell you the 3 unconventional ways I like my caffeine in. You will be humoured, I promise.

In my medicine

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If you know me personally, you will know that I am a walking pharmacy. I am also passionately called a drug dealer because I carry around 2 phones (for fun) and a bag full of fun medicine but we will get to that some other time.

I love my Panadol extra with a passion of a thousand suns (not neurofen, not ibupofren not anything else even though they generally might be of the same ingredients comprisation). Panadol Extra has 65mg extra caffeine in a capsule on top of your standard 500mg paracetamol, so all in all Panaol Extra has a bloody kick in it. I swear it heals my headache/migraine/neck tension in a click of the finger like you will not believe it (do I sound addicted? because probably I am). Haha.

In my eye cream

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You all know I love my skincare. I am slowing down in the skincare department just for a wee bit only because we are entering into warmer months here and there is nothing more that I want than anything sliding off my face 5 seconds into applying it on.

Eye products is something that I am not too crazy off but the one eye serum that I do swear by is The Ordinary Caffeine Solution. CAFFEINE FUN FACT: Caffeine is not only to be ingested, caffeine works wonders when applied topically especially around the eye area. Caffeine is an active ingredient and has proven to help in decreasing eye puffiness and under eye circle. Personally for me, I honestly do not see the difference in lightening dark under-eye circles but this mother of a product is bloody refreshing and awakes you especially in the dead of every morning. I will apply this every single morning and my eye area instantly feels taut, speaking of product that works, this is one really does.

If you want to read more on skincare recommendations, I have written a lengthy one here.

In a 3 in 1 packet drowned with sugar & creamer

I am Asian and I love my 3-in-1 coffee which is a disguise for literally drinking sugar and creamer more than the coffee content itself. I love all of the 3-in-1 especially those that I cannot find here (sad sobs to self). I appreciate you if you can make a mean cup of coffee but I will never be convinced to like no other coffee other than my 3 in 1. Some will say its not really coffee but lets not go into a sinful slide down the judgement road.

We have so many guests who have come through our door, be introduced to the 3-in-1 and are bloody converts. For that I am happy to take the 3 in 1 credit for. Wink.

So there you go guys, my funky ways of putting caffeine into my system. Stay caffeinated!!!!!!!!!

The loss of a dear pet

Few weeks ago, we lost our beloved cat to a sudden mysterious road accident/poison incident. She was a healthy, happy 6 year old little princess of ours. She insisted on leaving the house on a late Monday night which was not unusual as she was an indoor/outdoor but it was uncharacteristic of her, given that it is in the middle of the winter. Bizarrely, she did not return all of the next day Tuesday and by the 3rd day Wednesday, I knew in my guts something bad has happened. When I spoke to my workmates to send out prayers her way, I was recommended to post on a lost and found page in trusty ol’ Facebook, which I did. I was so glad I did.

I never would have thought that with the support of an online community, I could have received so much help in such little time from a group of strangers. I was notified by a member of the public that upon driving near our place, she spotted a black furry animal by the road. She said she was hoping it was not ours but I immediately knew it was our cat. My instinct on her has always been strong from day one. I knew she was gone. I could not bring myself to return home mid-work because I also knew I will shatter. What good will a breakdown be anyway? Immediately, I told my husband and he said he will drive home right that very minute and he will call me back in 15 minutes. He was confidently sure it was not our cat as she was unfailingly a smart and adventurous cat. Well, 15 minutes passed and he did not call me back after 2 hours. All my gut instinct told me that my suspicion is confirmed.

What that kind member of the public and my husband did not tell me was, our cat’s carcass have been left out cold for a day or more and that there were huge birds which have gathered and pecked on her. My poor poor baby. 

Following the days that went by after, there was not a single day I did not wake up crying. There was also never a day I did not cry myself to sleep.

To some, a pet is just an animal but to me she was an integral part of my life. She was not only a cat but she was an amazing companion in her own quiet manners. She was simply the best cat, growing up with many, this is a statement I don’t throw around lightly. 

She was not the friendliest, neither was she a purring lap cat but the long months and years of caring and nurturing for her paid off in her loyalty. She was such a loyal cat. She was never not without by my side when I am home. I even sleep cuddling her much to my husband’s annoyance. She was always always around. She hung by the front door when I am sitting at the front patio, she hung around in the backyard when I am doing my late night laundry, she hung around the garage waiting for us to come home when we take the car out on the weekends. She was the easiest cat to care for. She is polite and never rash. She will wait tirelessly by our pillows for us to wake up or wait by the toilet for me to finish my shower before asking to be fed. And she never ask for more, she was never a greedy cat. She will gently put her paw on me if she wants to be pet but she is never needy, always independent. She was like a guardian angel.

I have lost grandparents, aunties, uncles,  cousins, friends and many cats growing up and I knew what loss was. But I never knew the real meaning of grieving till I lost her. For many days, I could not let her go in peace and it broke me to shambles. Round and round I played in my mind, I question and doubted myself. Was it ever my fault? Could I have done more? Could I have done better? In silence, it broke my very being of existence to even live yet another day. For when she left, it was the biggest hole in my heart she took. I felt extremely extremely empty. 

I could not walked past the path she was last alive on without crying. I could not go to the kitchen without thinking of her feeding area without crying. I could not sit on the couch and look at every small corner where she sat on without crying. Everything reminds me of her. 

And what was even sadder was my husband felt the same way too. For days and weeks, we became the couple who sat by the couch watch tv in silence, wiping away our own tears as the night goes by thinking of her. The house felt so big yet so very empty, every inch of the house was marked by her presence, she was so very much missed. 

I never regretted the few short years I care for her, while it might be short but it was filled with exceptional love to the brim. I smothered her with love and I gave her the best of a life a cat can get. She was utterly pampered like a princess, just the way she deserves.

To cope with my grief, I gathered the blanket she slept on every day, her brush which have the last of her fur (I was hoping it has more because she was quite furry) and I wrote her a farewell note. In that note, I asked her for forgiveness. 6 years was too short of a life, she deserved to enjoy it more. I wrote that I hope she is enjoying kitty heaven and that I really want to see her again. In the meantime, I was really hoping to see her in my dreams. I printed photos of her and pasted it everywhere, by our wedding photo in the living room and in the bedroom. I kept her blanket beside me on my bedside table. I made her face my phone screensavers and I made a book out of all her photos. I wanted to make sure I will never forget her and that by any faintest chance, her spirit will come visit us, I just wanted her to know she is never forgotten. We both really miss her a lot.

Sure, I will always continue to adopt more cats but that special portion of my heart deserved especially for her will never ever ever ever be filled up again. There will be no other pet like her and that’s fine because while she might have left the world, she will never leave my heart.

For the love of skincare

I, personally, get very hyped and riled up about skincare routine, especially every time the colder months encroach. Hi, my name is Ernie and I will like to think I am a skincare addict. Harlow!!!

My back story is I was born and bred in Singapore and over 30 years of my life has passed before I packed my bags (3 gargantuan luggages in toto) and moved to Australia-the land of the free, where I have to live in both wintry and summery months. Side note: I know most of you would have been familiarised with Singapore as a city with the awe-inspiring layover airport and also from the infamous Crazy Rich Asian movie, however, for those of you who are unenlightened about this city/island, we do not have seasons and we folks live in predominantly a sweltering environment. Think 30 degrees summer all day every day with a 90% humidity and the occasional showers to be expected during the mid day. It is sweat-fest in Singapore (and I who abhor the heat with a passion, absolutely cringe every time I hear a tourist say “Ooohh I love Singapore’s weather. Like WHY?? You sweat and you stink, how is that love?). Anyways, I digress, I am not here to write about Singapore OR the climate change. I am writing about my skincare routine. (silent standing ovation)

From hereon, just a tiny disclaimer that all photos of skincare are mine 🙂

Over 30 years of my good life, all I ever do was to wash my face. In fact, I was using the same Neutrogena cleanser for maybe over 10 years, the same one being repurchased over and over like the wheels of a school bus goes round and round. Lol. (Not this particular cleanser from Neutrogena, but I did use an oil free deep cleansing cleanser for like eons). Honourable mention to the products in the hydro boost range, they are awesome possum.

Other than that, my skincare routine was perpetually non-existent and literally pathetic.

However, as and when I do a winter vacation which in my early 20s onwards, I have done at least once a year, I will chuck in a woeful moisturizer in the mix. BUT THAT WAS ALL.. and THATTTT, which I discovered in later years, is not favourable at all for my sad face which was taking all the toll.

To further aggravate the situation, I am also self-diagnosed with cranial hyperhidrosis which is excessive facial sweating, and I absolutely cannot leave the house with any layers of skincare on my face. It will actually slide right off my face and fall into a puddle of goo at the bus stop. Ooo, whats that? That’s just Ernie’s day serum from last week!

Back in my 20s with absolutely no skincare knowledge, my face had the fair share of angry breakouts, huge open pore marks, acne scarring and all the nasty things you do not want on your face plus I also picked and squeezed on my pimples and I also sleep with makeup on most nights-oh you know what I’m talking about-those FUN nights.

The amusing thing is, back in the days what I lacked in skin health, I compensate it with exorbitant makeup. I was the shiet nitzz in makeup and people back in my life can attest to that. Remember the hype of 88 eyeshadow palettes back in the day, ooo girl I have half a dozen of them. Fake lashes up to the heavens, sister can do it all.  I did not pile on the makeup because I love it for the most part. It was purely because I am inferior of my very infested skin as a result of all the negligent years, so I took a cowardly way out and cover them imperfections up. But also I was in my 20s and we have all been there before, haven’t we?

I remembered moving to Sydney few February-s ago, and my world physically and literally changed. It was for the most part of it still summer and even though I was perpetually very hot and very bothered, my face was shockingly tight and extremely dry which did not make absolute sense to me. I was in a skincare conflict & dilemma! My nose was cluttered with black heads, I have enlarged congested pores, the deep lines around the mouth were starkingly abhorrent and never will I imagine that I have crow feets around my eye. It was a brutally rude awakening.

Now now.. I have never had dry skin ever in my life, mine has always been on the border of  combination/oily but never ever ever ever dry. That was when I literally woke up with a jolt in life, big slap across my face with a chair, hand on heart said, I NEED TO SAVE MY SKIN. Like I need skincare products and I need a routine I can adhere to, I need to undo all the years of neglect because oh boy was it really showing on my face and time is tick-tocking.

So few years ago, the first thing I did was to go to Priceline and grabbed all of the natural, vegan/cruelty free products such as those from Sukin, Ordinary and Trilogy products. I wanted the improvisation process to be simple and dumb-proof and the last thing I want is to spend money and try out new stuff on my face and getting break outs. Ain’t no sister has time for that. Long story short, thankfully my skin loved the simplicity of the products and I could observe that my skin is well ameliorated.

Fast forward to a year ago, I wanted to UP my skincare game and have always wanted to try Korean skincare products and their ridoncolously long 10 step skincare routine, which I have been influenced by Youtube. (thanks Youtube, I am a believer).

So, I sipped on the Kool-Aid and did a giant order on NudieGlow (completely not sponsored, wish I am) an Aussie based website selling Korean skincare products. Photo below~This was a family group photo of all my western skincare products, bundled with the Korean skincare products from my very 1st order from NudieGlow back in June 2018. I was a proud mama and I knew I will be in for a great skincare journey of my life, I am not disappointed.

Side note of a disclaimer, I am not an expert aesthetician, neither am I a licensed dermatologist. My entry is not to be deemed as professional advises, just personal thoughts, opinions and methods. I try to dispense off these information to the best of my knowledge and some guidance from various websites.

Just before I dive into the specific products, the general order of my skincare routine which I have adapted from the 357 step of Korean skincare products, and modified into my own is as follows:

Morning routine:
Step 1: Water based cleanser
Step 2: Toner
Step 3: Essence
Step 4: Vitamin C serum
Step 5: Matrixyl serum
Step 6: Moisturiser
Step 7: Sunscreen
Step 8: Lipbalm

Evening routine:
Step 1: Oil based cleanser
Step 2: Water based cleanser
Step 3: Exfoliator (twice a week)
Step 4: Toner
Step 5: Essence
Step 6: Sheet mask (twice a week)
Step 7: Serum
Step 8: Moisturiser
Step 9: Oil
Step 10: Sleeping mask
Step 11: Lipbalm

Let’s talk the ways:
CLEANSING BALM

Double cleansing is a method made famous by obviously the Koreans which inculcate an oil-based cleanser first followed by a water-based cleanser to ensure the skin to be thoroughly cleansed. The gist behind using an oil-based cleanser first is because oil is beneficially useful in stripping off makeup and even waterproof sunscreen. Oil-based cleanser can either be in a liquid oil form or in a sherbet cleansing balm form. You will take a pump or a scrap of product onto your palm, apply it onto your face dry, work it in circular motions first, after which you will introduce water slowly to the face which will emulsifies the oil cleanser, gently removing all the residues of your day.

If you have oily skin like me, you can safely dispel your own myth of thinking that oil cleansers will make your skin oilier, this cannot be far from the absolute truth and I am a standing testament to that.

My absolute favourite is the Heimish All-Clean cleansing balm (cult favourite for obvious reasons), I personally love the slight mild herbaly scent and it gets the job effectively done in removing the gunk from my face. Other well known cleansing balm are from Banila which comes in several varieties for different skin concerns and my favourite cleansing oil is either from Biore or Klairs (which I have 7 million samples of).

CLEANSER

You will then want to follow up your oil based cleanser with a water based cleanser and that could be any of your old regular cleanser of your choice. Water based cleanser’s function is to generally remove sweat and excessive layers of dirt on the face. So what you cannot catch in the first layer of cleansing, you will want get it all off on this step.

You guys know that for years and years, I have always gravitate towards the Neutrogena cleanser (that still is a handy backup option), however these days, I am a colossal fan of anything green-tea in skincare, not a fan of drinking it but I LOVE putting it on my face. Team green tea all the way!!!

My favourites are either the Neogen green tea cleansing stick which as you can see in the photo, has real green tea leaves in it. Gosh, it smells uhh-maa-zing and the dried leaves does give a gentle exfoliation on the skin (not those crazy exfoliation like some apricot scrub we know off). This is my go to morning cleanser, it invigorates and wakes me up. It is also note worthy to point out that this cleansing stick is considered solid, so if you are ever flying and want to take this with you in your carry on, it will not constitute as a liquid. Winner!!

Another new favourite green tea cleanser which I am currently enjoying is the Innisfree green tea cleanser, super gentle non-stripping, pleasant scent -an all around great non-offensive simple cleanser. Comes in a hefty 150ml and with a little-goes-a-long-way policy, this cleanser will last you out for a very long time.

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You generally do not want to cleanse your face to a point where you feel an extreme tightness in your skin as tightness generally means that you have over-stripped the oil in your face, which can cause your face to send a signal to your brain to produce excessive sebum-hence the breakouts. I grew up with horrid over-stripping cleansers which only made me break out even more. Now that is not a win-win situation.

**I use my green tea stick cleanser in the morning and double cleanse in the evening. Without fail, non-negotiable. You can double cleanse both morning and evening, it is purely preferential.

EXFOLIATOR
Exfoliators can be in one of two variations; physical or chemical. Both technically performs the same function and again it is up to your preferences.

Physical exfoliators are usually in the form of mild to grainy scrubs. I am not a huge fan of this as you ought to be uberly gentle as not to micro-tear your skin with over-exfoliation.

Chemical exfoliators are usually immersed with chemical actives like AHA & BHA to encourage and introduce new cell turnover, so just think of it as sloughing away dead cells of your skin-out with the old, in with the new.
Without being too technical and from my amateur knowledge, AHA is alpha hydroxy acid which is a common derivative for lactic acid or glycolic acid-can be found in milk or grapes amongst others. BHA is beta hydroxy acid and a common derivative is salicylic acid, abundantly found in tea tree skincare products for acne clearing purposes.

My tried and true favourite exfoliator is surprise suprise the Neogen green tea bio peel (of course it has to be green tea). These peels also come in the grapes and lemon form. It has 30 pieces of exfoliating pads which you only need to swipe across your face and let the actives do its marvellous job in giving you that glow. These exfoliating pads are a holy holy holy grail for me as it visibly smoothens my skin and my pore seem to have shrunk over time. I exfoliate my gorgeous face twice a week, no more than that.

From someone who has not exfoliated since the ugly apricot scrub saga back in my late teens, now I just cannot go a week without my green tea chemical exfoliating pads.

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**For absolute beginners who have not used actives prior, please start slow, once a week or half a pad in the beginning. Over-exfoliating in any form physical or chemical can exacerbates the skin horridly, causing burns and tears. Be mindful!

TONER
You’ll see how many toners this sister have, because I love me a good toner.

Now, Korean toners are milestones different from the standard western toners. Western toners are usually, mostly laden with alcohol although most are getting better these days. Alcohol while great to be consumed, is not fine and dandy when overly applied on the face as we all know from basic science, that excess alcohol dries out the skin and nobody has time for dry skin. Long gone are those generic toners, and here comes the Korean toners that is packed with a punch.

Generally, you want to apply toner as soon as you cleanse. You will like to think of cleanser as removing the bad and toners replenishing back the good onto your face. Apparently so, you will hear this over and over in Korean skincare videos, toners are use to balance the PH of your skin-when cleansing your skin, you might have slightly disturbed your skin PH, hence toner will come into place to joosh the PH up and put everything back to its good place.

Especially so in the winter months, I have a personal principle of putting toner within 60 seconds from cleansing my face, for fear that my face detects dryness. You can either apply toner with a cotton pad but I go rouge and apply toner from palm to face-cutting out the middle agent altogether.

My absolute holy grail toner is the Whamisa’s organic flower toner. This toner is made up of 97.5% organic ingredients (from a bunch of flowers and good stuffs lol) and derived from the fermentation process (yes fermentation, like kombucha but for the face). I love the slightly thicker consistency of this toner as compared to the watery ones and it 100% hydrates my skin, leaving it supple and ready for my other 3467348 skincare products to be layered on.

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Other favourites are the Huxley Sahara toner-gorgeous gorgeous scent albeit being slightly higher in alcoholic content-this is a summer fave for me.

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A couple other toners in rotation that I am currently using and enjoying is the I’m from rice toner which lives up to Gothamista’s hyped rave. I’m from is a relatively new brand for me but this rice toner is such a calming delight-made from more than 77% rice extract, expect fresh milky goodness of a toner just hydrating your skin. Reminds me of my childhood when I will be in the kitchen with my mum and when we got around to cooking rice, my mum will always tell me that the water residues from premium quality grains are beneficial for good skin. Guess what Mum, should have taken your idea and patent it up. Great recommendation for colder months!

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Last but not least, you all know I got to include a green tea thingy somewhere, yes? Innisfree green tea balancing ex toner is a relishing delight for post gym shower- well balanced, light and refreshing toner. Great for everyday usage!

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ESSENCE
Essence is a completely new ball game for me in terms of skincare. If you are into minimalism and do not particularly find the use of essence, you can completely skip this step.

The rule of the thumb in Korean skincare routine is all about layering, while there is no hard and fuss rule in it, you always want to apply your products from the lightest to the heaviest consistency. Some products can double up as toner/essence or essence/serum, again this is purely preferential. Always access your skin needs and make good judgement from thereon.

How does essence come into your routine? Essence is after cleansing and toning and way before serums and moisturisers, treat it as a lightweight serum if you may. Nothing serious in your routine, just treat essence as casually adding an extra layer of hydration.

My very first essence that I tried was the COSRX snail mucin essence. Grossed out at the word, snails? Don’t be. Cosrx assures you that no snails were harmed in the collation of the product. This essence, made from 96% of snail secretion is super thick and gooey, has zero scent whatsoever, however tacky and sticky it feels, it applies like any normal lightweight essence would. My biggest observation from this product is that- my acne scarring improved and lighten down tremendously and even after using it for both day an night for over 4 months, the product was not even half way used-which is a great thumbs up.

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And I have not even gotten to the best part yet, my favourite essences!!!
I have come full circle to embracing the love of Huxley essences, hands down holy grail.

Huxley is predominantly a range of skincare products made out of pear and cactus-gosh is not that just a delight as it is? I have tried a couple so far, my absolute favourite is the Grab water (OH MY GOD I LOVE THAT BLOODY THING). This beaut is made of 85% cactus extract and is nothing short of stunning, it applies like a dream and I have to literally scrap dry the bottle within a month of using it because my skin adored it so much.

Currently, I am trying out this new Huxley oil-essence and despite being called an oil, it is more of a thicker essence consistency and equally works like a charm, splendid for colder drier months.

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If you are in the market for a light essence of watery consistent, you can try Missha first treatment essence. This product is a supposed dupe for SKII toner, I cannot vouch for this seeing that I have not used SKII toner before. However, a friend who has used both, has opined that they are incomparable. I am not a big fan of this essence per se because it is super duper runny (feels almost like water straight up) because I personally love skincare products with a little weight and texture to it, but if it is warm out there and you just need a dewy, thinned-down toner/essence, this is a good one to go by.

SHEET MASKS

Wow, where do I start with sheet masks? If there are 2 things in the name of skincare that I am head over heels for, it will be sheet mask and sleeping mask (more on that just below), but sheet masks are pure love for me.

I adore sheet masks with a passion. No matter the season or temperature or whatever is going on with the world outside, when I pull out a sheet mask, I can guarantee you my day or night is going to get resplendently better. I am the best person to tell you all about self-care because I am all about unwinding and relaxing at the end of each day, a good Yankee candle burning, a warm bubble bath and definitely a hydrating sheet mask is a highly resounding YES on that self care list.

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Sheet masks are, as the name suggest a sheet of mask packed with serums in it, ranging from anywhere between a buck to $50 a pop, there are all kinds of sheet masks to suit your fancy. I even tried the 111 skin rose gold sheet mask, that sucker was like $36 a piece, I better be earning millions if I want to upkeep that lavish lifestyle.

I generally apply sheet mask twice a week on exfoliating days, just for an extra oomph of self tender loving. While I love all sheet masks in general, if you were to ask me to choose my favourites, its either a toss up between Innisfree green tea sheet mask and Dr Jart ceramidin sheet mask (picture below). LOVE THEM!!

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Here’s a few fun pointers for sheet masks.
Firstly, sheet mask is an extension of a serum, therefore you are not to wash off a sheet mask off as compared to a regular clay mask that needs rinsing. If you are rinsing your face after a sheet mask, please just take your money and flush it down the toilet-pretty much the same concept.

Secondly, before putting on your sheet mask, make the most out of it, by scrapping out the serum from the package first and applying it on your face. You can also use the remnants of the serum for your neck, chest or hands. Now personally for me, I will generally put my sheet mask on my face for 10-12 mins as you do not need to wait for the sheet mask to dry off on your face which will then defeats the purpose of hydration. I will then roll the sheet mask into 2 and put it on my neck for a couple of minutes before tossing it off.

SERUM
Now where do I start with the almighty serum? Serum is to be fitted into your regime, after cleansing , toning and essence and before moisturising. I think of serums as a product that I use to address my skin issue directly.

I completely understand that identifying the right serum for your skin can leave you utterly perplexed and even more discombobulated than you already are. Fret not, girls.

Way before I did not know any better, I took the smartest approach in using an all-rounder serum. A basic, natural, non offensive simple serum-Sukin super greens serum. This serum has great veggies in it-kale, spinach and spirulina and has none of the bad ingredients that is completely irrelevant for your skin. I enjoyed this serum immensely, I used it for a good year in the beginning. It has a somewhat runny milky consistency which is both light in warmer weather and great for layering before your advanced serums.

However, as I progressed and as I discovered that I need a stronger serum, I have shelved this serum but still till this day, from time to time, I still take this serum out especially in summer when my skin does not feel like it need much.

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Moving on to specific serums.. I use a Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) serum in my morning skincare routine amongst a couple others and in the evening, I tend to use a serum which mainly contains Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) or Retinol (Vitamin A).

My go to Vitamin C serum is the Klairs Vitamin C. If you are unfamiliar with Vitamin C, it is basically an anti-oxidant which brightens your skin complexion and helps with uneven skin tone. I particularly love Klairs’s vitamin C because of its oilier formulation and of how it glides very smoothly onto the skin. It also only contains 5% of ascorbic acid so it is a gorgeous recommendation for beginners. This product is one of many that has been faithfully standard, I keep repurchasing it over and over again.

Now, there will be times when my trusty Klairs vitamin C runs out and there will be a niggly voice in my head that tells me to try a higher dose of vitamin C serum. With that, I have tried both Tiam 20% and Wishtrend 21.5%, both of which thankfully my skin could adhere to and handle and that my skin loves.

Vitamin C is a highly unstable product and goes off when exposed to heat, water or air-hence why you see many ladies putting their Vitamin Cs in a closed drawer or in the fridge. Gentle note that once your vitamin C turns brown, chuck it because it pretty much means that the product has gone bad. Think of an apple-eat it when its nice and juicy, chuck it when it is oxidized and brown.

Remember that like any other products, start from the bottom and work your way up, you simply do not want to start with the higher concentration and burn your skin off. Also do remember to pile on the sunscreen as vitamin C is known to boost the efficacy of sunscreen.

And then, we have The Ordinary
I am an avid Ordinary fan. I love their mix and match policy and that all skin types are different-therefore not one product is going to accurately tailor to your needs. Plus, I just appreciate how affordable all their products are. If someone were to ask me what is Ordinary-I will say, think of its a sandwich. In a sandwich, you have different ingredients, bread, meat, cheese, vege, sauces, etc-yes? What if you are lactose intolerant and do not want the cheese or what if you allergic to pickles? Instead of selling you an entire pre-made sandwich, Ordinary is selling you the individual ingredients that goes into a sandwich (in skincare form of course). Ordinary is a very scientific brand and if you are into these technicalities mumbo jumbo, you will love this brand. Got me? Okay good.

If you google Ordinary, one of the highly recommended products is Buffet. I tried that and it broke me out for no good reason. I will not bore you into details of what you should be using from Ordinary but I will tell you what I have been using.

My skin cannot leave without Matrixyl. By that I meant, when I forgot to pack Matrixyl for a 2 week vacation back to asia, my skin broke out uncontrollably in grittiness. To date I have used about 5 bottles of this and will continue to do so. Matrixyl is a peptide (scientifically speaking are amino acids compound) and matrixyl principally takes care of wrinkle prevention. I started buying Matrixl for the sole purpose of my deep laugh lines and in between my eyebrows and so far, its been working great. I use Matrixyl every morning as my 2nd serum.

I have also started using their Hyaluronic acid (HA) as a separate product to boost my skin’s hydration. Bear in mind that Matrixyl also has a small portion of HA as well.

Another can’t live without for me from Ordinary is Niacinamide (Vit B3). If matrixyl is a morning love for me, niacinamide is an evening love for me. Niacinamide’s function is to help improve the appearance of enlarged pores, uneven skin tone, fine lines, wrinkles and dullness. I use Niacinamide about 4 times per week as an evening serum. So what do I use as an evening serum 3 other times of the week? I use retinol.

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Now, I am no expert in retinol and I do not wish to dabble too deep into the derivatives of Vitamin A and blah blah but just know that retinol and anti ageing is GOLD goals. That’s all I am leaving you with.

I started using Verso’s sample retinol serum couple of times and while I love that product, I realistically cannot afford it at almost $200 a pop and in my opinion, it is not sustainable for replenishing purposes. Alternatively, I moved on to Ordinary’s 0.5% retinol in squalene which is a super low concentration of retinol in squalene form (predominantly derived from olive oil). I was being very mindful to start low and slow especially when dealing with actives. I was halfway through this bottle when I realized that I wanted to up the ante just a bit, kicked the retinol up a notch.

Hence why I moved on to using granactive 2% emulsion which I completely enjoyed and have seen reasonable results with. While the squalene was an oil version, emulsion is a milky serum-y version and I enjoyed this form much better.

Do I need serums? Completely up to you. I will not be too bothered with it if you have generally a good skin care health. However, if you do want to dip your toes into the serum pool, I totally recommend starting with a basic serum without the harsher active ingredients- for eg: Sukin green serum. You can also give Ordinary’s buffet a try and see if that works for you. Otherwise, a serum has just popped into my mind-Missha time revolution ampoule, so this was a supposed dupe for the Estee Lauder Advanced night serum and I actually enjoyed this serum while I was using it a while back. Not that this matters but it comes in a luxurious dark purple glass heavy bottle and it just makes the experience a little more lush. The reason why I did not repurchase this was because I have heaps of other serums which I wanted to try but I will love to reconcile with this serum in the near future.

MOISTURISER
Moisturisers, as we all know it, is pretty standard in any skincare even right down to the super basic of a regime. In finding a good moisturiser, you need to initially determine your skin type (if you have not done so already). The reason why is, the last thing you want is a bad moisturiser which does absolutely nothing for you. If you have oily skin, you will not want to use a heavy cream which just sits on your face and break you out-instead opt for a gel consistency moisturiser which hydrates. If you have mature skin or drier skin by nature, you will want to look out for slightly thicker moisturiser to leave your skin supple and nourished.

As mentioned earlier, I enjoy the range of products in Neutrogena’s hydro boost collection; mainly this gel moisturizer and their sheet masks. This gel moisturiser is a no-brainer and fool-proof product, slapped it on and dries within seconds, giving your skin the basic hydration you need. Above and beyond that, what I really love about this gel moisturiser is, it is packed with Hyaluronic Acid (HA). And what does hyaluronic acid does to your skin? It supples, makes it bouncier like a baby’s butt. You better not tell me you don’t want them cheeks to be as bouncy as a baby’s bottom.

Do you need a separate moisturisers for day and night? Generally no, however as someone who just loves skincare, I do use 2 different moisturisers purely because during the day, I generally need a lighter moisturiser and during the evening, I prefer a thicker moisturiser that has more sealing properties.

My night moisturiser of choice is the Dr Jart ceramidin cream. I have spoken about this product endlessly and why I am completely besotted with it. You can read it in my winter essentials recommendations but just trust me when I say, putting this on is like putting on a layer of silky, smooth lard on your face.

You all will think I can rest easy without showing you my green tea moisturizing goodies? I am also currently using the Innisfree green tea moisturiser in my post gym shower routine, as a compliment to its toner and I cannot emphasize how genuinely refreshing this combination is.

SUNSCREEN
Sunscreen is a touchy subject for me, knowing that I have missed 30 good years of my life NOT putting any sunscreen on my face. What I lacked in knowledge then, I made it up with abundance application of sunscreen now. How much sunscreen do we need? General rule of thumb is 1 to 2 teaspoons of sunscreen on face and neck, and of course, topping it up after few hours, if you are particularly sweaty or you are generally outdoors doing water activities.

The biggest myth about sunscreen is not wearing it during non-summer seasons and the most popular misconception is not wearing sunscreen because “I am not going outside”. Why not? The sun will always be there every morning irregardless even in the snows and the sun rays will still penetrate through the window when you are indoors and you will still catch UV rays from lamps or lights, so why should we not stay sun protected at all times?

If you are asking which SPF is better, always remember that any SPF is better than none-SPF 30 is better than no sunscreen at all. Kindly be mindful of being sun safe and sun smart. Wear a hat and not bake in the sun incessantly.

My go to sunscreen is both from Neutrogena-both of which are in the ultra sheer forms. I absolutely abhor and detest any kind of thick gooey, ceramic clay-ey scunscreen-why people sell these is a question on its own? Because I am naturally a sweaty person myself, I find that the ultra sheer versions are so easy to apply and does not leave a white cast on my face. It also does not break me out.

I did use a Japanese sunscreen from Shiseido Anessa for a good 8 months last year and I love it to death. Sadly, I cannot get it here (got that in Singapore) so I moved on swiftly to Korean sunscreen and a particular favourite of mine is the COSRX aloe soothing cream-smells awesome and feels great on the skin.

OIL
Oil is a crucial step in my skincare, chiefly in the winter. I do not know about you, but during the colder months, my nose peels despite of all the amazing hydrating products which I piled on my face. There are many varieties of facial oil out there but my favourite has always been the rosehip oil from Trilogy which came a very long way with me (Remember my story about my dry skin when I first moved to Australia, this rosehip oil single-handedly combated the dryness).

Despite it being an oil, it absorbs beautifully on my skin without leaving any oil residue whatsoever. While facial oil can be used both day and night, I find that just by incorporating it in my routine has assisted my skin in being oil-balanced-which means I am no longer excessively oily during the day for no reason. Putting an oil in my evening routine also gives a nice feeling of “sealing” all the products together.

When choosing a facial oil, choose one that is organic and cold pressed to ensure that you are not just buying and slapping a random oil which can irritate your skin. Kindly also bear in mind that a facial oil is completely different to an essential oil-essential oil is not to be placed anywhere near your face.

SLEEPING MASK
Now, for my 2nd favourite kind of mask-sleeping mask. Just a quick recap that I also mentioned about sleeping mask in my top winter skincare essentials previously. If you miss that, you can read it here.

What are korean sleeping mask, you may ask? I will briefly answer it by saying it is just a fancy name for a thicker consistency of a night moisturiser with potent ingredients-just like a night cream on steroids.

In the winter, we all know that the ghastly horrid cold nights are the worst. From the time I did my evening skincare to the time I hit the sack, due to the cold air circulation despite the heater blowing all night long, my face will be tight like the sahara dessert. Hence why, I am such an ardent fan of the sleeping mask in winter. I will apply it like how I will apply a moisturizer, but instead of working it into my skin, I will sloppily slap it on my face like a thick gunk of goo. Leaving a sleeping mask thick on your skin helps your skin to have an extra layer of protection against the harsh cold air. You need not worry as a good sleeping mask will do its job in absorbing nicely into your skin without making it feel dry or taut while you snooze.

You can also use sleeping mask in a couple of other situations:- Firstly, if you sleep in an air conditioned room and always wake up to dry skin, you can try applying sleeping mask too to combat dryness and secondly, you can also whip out your sleeping mask in a long haul flight, similar concept to protecting your skin from the undesirable air circulation in the plane.

My favourite sleeping mask is the Laneige water sleeping mask-this is a godsend of a product, lightweight gel consistency, tranquil scent and just a dream to apply. I always find waking up in the morning a pleasure, noticing that my cheeks are always supple and just visibly nourished from the previous night’s sleep.

Now sleeping masks unlike a night cream is only to be applied 2-3 times a week due to the potency of the ingredients, apply it as a final step and leave it overnight. Let it work its wonders and fret not friends, sleeping mask will not mess up your pillow any more than your usual skincare products.†

Another honorable mention for a sleeping mask is the Klairs Vitamin E mask which has the most unique consistency I have ever seen in any skincare product. It is in layman term described as a mask in a jelly form. It does emit a strong scent and it is slightly tackier than the Laneige seeping mask but is a good alternative.

LIPBALM
Last but not least, please do not forget your gorgeous lips.

I have an un-confessed lipbalm addiction and like most things, it always have to be Nivea lipbalm. Just like my body lotion, I have one in my handbag, in the car, by my bedside, on my office desk, you get the picture. Recently I got to try Carmex lipbalm too-got it in an Asos advent calendar (speaking of which, will totes go down the advent calendar rabbit hole, come December this year) and I also love the Carmex libalm, but I am so loyal to Nivea, I keep repurchasing over and over. You need a good lipbalm post-haste, whatever you choose, just keep those puckers supple and not dry.

And please for the love of bamboozle, do not lick your lips as licking your lips does nothing except to further aggravate the drying. So please lipbalm the heck up.

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That’s it, guys. My long, exhaustive and completely ranty skincare entry has come to an end. I hope if you have have read thus far, have enjoyed my 2 cents insights and appreciate the grueling effort that I put in. I have spend many many months buying products, testing them out and taking pictures so I can do a good write up for you guys. There are MANY MANY other skincare products which I am currently using which did not make it into this entry because this is already too lengthy or the products are not making the cut.

I will always be interested in experimenting with skincare products because the importance of having great skin trumps above and beyond a fully made up face anytime. If you have any pointers yourself, let me know and always help a sister (or brother) out. Toodles!!

A fat girl’s opinion

Few days ago, I read an article outlining events around a Nike store in London which brazenly put out a plus size mannequin on display. While there were jubilant cheers all around, there were also a speck of outroars from those haters that quipped about how Nike is promoting obesity.

See, I have been nonchalant all my life about how fluffy I am but now ya’ll nasty people got to ruffle my feathers, so I have a word or two to say.

I was born as a big baby to an unexceptionally teeny tiny mother and I have been overweight ever since I was a little child. Obesity has never been a colossal issue for me. If you were to ask me though, obesity for me is like asking if a blind-since-birth person will be better off with sight. I do not and have yet to know any difference between being fat or thin in my life, simply because I have been fat from day dot.

However, in this day and age, what’s with social media and the general perception of the public masses that skinny is the way to go and skinny is beautiful, I will not lie and say every now and then YES, I do want to know what it feels like to be of a normal size 6-12 and not go shopping and be stared by the awkward sales girl. Yes, it will be nice to enter these shops and not have the same awkward sales girl tell you that most of their items comes in bigger sizes. Yes it will be nice to follow your friends to go shopping and not have to pretend to ruffle through accessories and shoes, because we all know a plus size girl cannot fit into the standard size of the clothes being sold. Yes it will be nice to go to a doctor for a check up and hear your weight is of an acceptable BMI index and not in the morbidly obese range. Yes it will be nice to know that you finally not have high blood pressure and that you need not be put on medications in early 30s. Yes, it will be nice to be more assured that the reason why we have yet to conceive is simply because God has not gifted us yet and not because of my weight issue. Yes, it will be nice to not sweat for once in a summer’s day and be consciously aware that everyone you talk to is looking at you dripping from your forehead. Yes it will be nice to go for a walk and not be completely out of breath in 3 minutes. Yes it will be nice to join others for a run or be in nature all sporty and fun. Yes it will be nice to not just be complimented as “she is so pretty but she is big”.

Being plus size, fuller figured or chubby is not any greater or lesser than anyone of any sizes out there. A person is a person despite of anything and everything else. We are made up of all kinds of components in life, race, culture, skin colour, language spoken, education, family background and quite clearly different shapes and sizes. So who the hell gives anyone the right to demean someone just because they are 50 pounds heavier than your average Jane? Why are we in this day and age, come so far in other advancements in life but still can be reeling in shallowness in our thinking she/he is big so that’s that. That is just sad.

When I was dating my husband, a friend’s mother told my husband that the girl he was with (me) is a nice girl but she is big. And what’s wrong with that? What’s wrong with being a big girl? Are big girls not smart? Are big girls ugly? Are big girls disgusting? Are big girls embarrassing?

Being fat does not make me a person with a bad heart, if anything, fat people like me usually have a more personable, awesome personality just because we have to bloody make up for our weight shortcomings. Have you ever think about that? Fat people like me can’t just stand by the street and have the world accept me as gorgeousness (if you do, well thank you), I have to stand by the street and crack a joke, and be all nice and coy, bend over backwards and juggle 25 plates over my head just to prove that I am worthy of something, well guess what, fuck that shit, I never cared anyway.

I have no idea what Nike was trying to do but if I can coin a guess, Nike was absolutely not promoting obesity, Nike is promoting diversity and attempting to be inclusive, just like how we are in this day and age trying so hard to be diverse with our acceptance of non whites and gay people. It is probably with much perhaps, that they are trying to break the stereotypes that our figure cannot be realistically depicted to one standard mannequin. They are also most probably trying to reach out to masses because in truth fact, not just skinny people in size 6 in cropped tops do work out, other people does to. So what are the haters not so happy about-bigger size people cannot wear active wear? bigger size people cannot work out? bigger size people have to cower in our houses and be ashamed of ourselves? Ya’ll just plain nasty.

I am a woman who wears size 18 or 20 in clothes and I am not ashamed of that. I get my active wear from either Asos, Target or Decathlon. Do I wish for more shops sell a broader range of sizes? YES I DO!! and why are stores not doing this already, is beyond my disbelief. Despite of my size and weight, I am unabashed to say that I have a more kick-ass flexibility and balance than most people out there can in a yoga class. When I go for a workout class, I pushed hard because I have 50 kilos to lose and not 5 pounds of water weight from a “rough weekend”. When I hang out with people, I genuinely am vested in a deep relationship with people because I know I don’t make new friends in a club every weekend. I might die of a weight related disease in 5 years or I might live up till 100. That’s all up for debate. Who are we to say?

My point is, instead of segregating the population as blacks v whites or gay v straight or asians v non asians or degree holders or high school leavers or office workers v non office workers or more aptly, fat v thin, do not segregate at all. Like as if you have not learned that We.are.all.unique.individuals.

To all my fun sized people of the world, if you want to take 1 thing away, it will be to never allow the bullshit of the world bring you down. If someone says fat people die earlier of weight related disease, slap their face-they are not God. If someone like my husband who till this day makes fat-shaming jokes every time I take my cheese or butter from the fridge, slap their face. If anyone is giving you the side eye just because you might have overdone it with Maccas anywhere in the bus stop, on the train, in school or at work, also slap their face. Let them judge all they want but no one and I mean absolutely no one can let you feel like shit.

If you have an opinion about fat people, then do not be a fat person. You can do you and you can be all fine and dandy in your non fat life, wearing your non fat clothes doing your non fat activities with your non fat friends. Do whatever you want, just leave us fat people alone :)

Winter skin/body care essentials

Now I know I promised a great write up all about my skincare routine but as cliche as this sounds, life might have swerved me to a side lane just for a lil bit. That entry is hot on its way, I am taking a great deal to re-stock some of my frequently used products and photographing it for the next entry, so I will appreciate if you can hold on to your horses for that.

BUT.. since we are well on our way into June which means that it is officially winter down under here, I really wanted to share a fun-size entree about my favourite all time winter care essentials. We have all been there, with the dry itchy skin, flaky scalp, peeling nose from all that cold/flu ailment, taut face and chapped lips, so what can we start doing in this season to take better care of our glorious layer of skin? I have just the few things for you.

My biggest biggest advice to one and all for winter is DO NOT HAVE A BLOODY LONG HOT WATER BATH!!! Like I know how amazing it is to defrost ourselves from the wintry cold outside with a long hot shower but keep that rub-a-dub session short and sweet. The best bet for not having dry itchy skin in colder months is all about.. preserving natural body oil. If you are always on the roll of having long hot-water showers, you are just stripping your body and skin of its essential, natural oil thus causing it to be itchy and dry. Have bite sized shower sessions and ensure you lather yourself with a great moisturising products.

This also goes for defrosting your delicate frozen fingers under the hot water in the sink, if possible, refrain,you are just causing your palm and your nail beds a disturbance.

While some, if not all my recommended products are a duhhh (like why is she writing on obvious things), many of us including me can do with a good reminder, from time to time. Now for my all time favourite products (for all year round, but especially so in winter):

(1) BLOODY GOOD FACE MOISTURISER
Yes, you read it right, a good facial moisturiser. Not just any ordinary moisturiser but if possible, a thicker consistency moisturiser to keep the dryness at bay. Keep the hydration intact and then take it up a notch about 150% in colder months, your pretty face will thank you. Aint nobody looks good with dry skin, gurl.

If you are like me, I prefer to use a lightweight gel cream for any other months but in the winter, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this particular moisturiser/cream. I have said it many times before and I will repeat until my teeth fall off, this Dr Jart Ceramidin cream is a freaking holy grail product for me especially in the colder months. This is hands down a life-saver in my skincare routine as I personally have tighter skin and flaky nose in winter. Upon application, it honestly feels like you are putting a layer of lard or a thick layer of vaseline petroleum jelly without the grease or slick. I use this mainly in my evening routine and my skin stays deeply moisturised for hours and even throughout the night on end and the best part is, it does not feel heavy and it does not break me out.

What are ceramides?
Ceramides are basically molecules found in our skin naturally, over time and over age, we kind of lose the quantity and quality of ceramides in our skin which then will cause redness, flakiness and wrinkles in general. Ceramidin cream, in general, is a cream that replenishes good ceramides for good skin health-as simple as that and I truly appreciate it.

You can stick onto your favourite moisturiser which is totally fine but I personally like to treat myself with this cream in the winter months-just for that extra TLC. You can get Dr Jart Ceramidin cream in Sephora but I have always gotten mine from Nudie Glow.

(2) SLEEPING MASK
We all have heard of clay mask or sheet masks (which I absolutely love all year round) but what is a sleeping mask, you ask my girlfriend? Let mama explain.

Think of sleeping masks as a hybrid between a night moisturiser and a gel-type mask. You will apply a sleeping mask on your face usually as a very last step in your evening skincare routine BUT to not rinse it off.

Personally for me, by the time I get home every evening and after my shower and skincare routine, I will usually hang around the house for few hours before I go to bed. Usually by the time I hit the sack every night, my face will already get slightly dried up, as it does in the colder months and just by sitting in front of the heater. So what I will do is, I will apply a sleeping mask just maybe 15-30 minutes right after I go to bed, apply as you will a night cream, leave it to be slightly tacky on the face and go to sleep. The sleeping mask will do its job in acting as a thick layer of barrier to the cold air, thus preventing your skin to dry up through the night. You can also use a sleeping mask if you sleep in an air conditioned room and you will like to avoid waking up to dry cracked skin.

The only con to a sleeping mask is, you might end up messing your pillowcase if you do not allow ample time for it to slightly dry on your face-but I am not fussed, I rather have supple skin instead.

My personal favourite sleeping mask is this from Laneige and I love it for many reasons-namely the gel consistency and the light fresh scent. I also appreciate that it is not too sticky to the face, because the last thing I want is to wake up feeling like I applied glue overnight.

(3) BODY MOISTURISER (WHICH IS NOT CHOCKFULL OF FRAGRANCES)
Now this is a pretty silly recommendation, but you will be surprised at how many people out there who do not moisturise. Are you kidding me? I grew up with a mother who, as soon as she sits down in the living room, she will start moisturising her feet and her elbows with a big tub of the traditional Nivea creme’. Guess what, thanks to Mum, I have inherited my love of moisturising too and my skin is so thankful for it. It is bloody second nature to me, I will always have a good body moisturiser anywhere, on my office desk, in my handbag, in my car, in my coffee table in the living room, in my side table in the bedroom, in the vanity drawer in the toilet. You name it, I will always have a Nivea moisturiser lying around.

I personally love Nivea because I can trust it. I can trust that it is not bad for my skin, it never leaves a sticky residue, it dries nicely on my body especially after shower, it does not have funny fragrances and essential oils which in the long run can irritate my skin, it is not chock-full of alcohol which dries up the skin, and it is simply simple and it does its main sole job-in moisturising my body. It is also a homely resemblance to me, reminds me of my childhood and all the great time of being a kid and not having to worry about moisturising. LOL

(4) CRACK HEEL CREAM
Now this is a funny recommendation but one I do not hear often enough.
Especially in colder months, the sole of my feet gets scaly and rough. While I use a sole pumice pretty much every single evening when I shower, I always needed an extra something something for the feet. If you are like me, I will perpetually have frozen feet and toes come winter. My best trick is, to apply a thick cracked heel cream NOT just for the back of my foot but I slather that damn thing on my entire foot and I popped on my thick wooly socks. Trust me when I say, you will wake up to soft baby feet and it will be warm too. You will have no reason to be embarrassed the next time you have to go barefooted into a yoga class.

(5) DRY BODY BRUSH
Body brushing is relatively new and recent in my skincare routine. Initially, I was not sure the concept or the reasoning behind a dry body brush but I soon realise how beneficial a dry body brush is, especially in winter. Think of dry body brushing as combing your hair before shampooing it.

The idea of a dry body brush is to use it on your body dry..so before you popped into the shower, get naked, and use a body brush in upwards circling motion starting from your feet up (avoid tender areas like your chest). Dry body brushing is not only great for exfoliating and sloughing your dry skin cells which tends to accumulate more in winter months, it also helps the growth of new skin cells. It also gives the slightest massaging tendencies to your body and it definitely improves blood circulation. This I know to be true as I personally can feel my blood circulation rushing after I dry body brush and I particularly enjoy this habit because I feel like my skin is much smoother and absorbs the body moisturiser/body oil better afterwards.

I believe I got mine from the brand Manicare from Priceline, and it has been a pretty good body care asset to me.

Also, this goes without saying but to not forget your water intake. We don’t just need heaps of water during summer, we kind of need it all day everyday. What’s your special care essentials for the wintry months? Let me know. Till the next one.. 🙂

How I survive my 6302 km long distance relationship

This has been something that is close and dear to my heart. I will like to use this space to share personal experience and hopefully, dispense some insights and helpful advises for anyone who is going through a similar journey.

Trust me when I say this, I have been there and I know how it all feels. And it was not an entire bed of roses.

I was in a long distance relationship (LDR) with my then-boyfriend-now-husband for few years, as I was living in Singapore and he, in Sydney. It was a gruelling back and forth of travelling 8 hours SG-SYD and SYD-SG. If I can calculate and do the maths on all of our flights and travel expenses, it could have easily been a deposit for a house but I digress. And if you think that was not sucky enough, we were also living apart for 4 months after our wedding purely because I did not want to move to Australia, just yet.

I know first hand, all the worries, all the fears and all the gut heart-wrenching moments of being in a LDR. I understand how lonely it is all the freaking time. Birthdays, valentines, anniversaries, Christmases might all be spend and celebrated alone. And do not get me started about nights, nights are the worst because all you can wish for is to probably have a warm body close but all you really have are negativities in your head and sometimes even tears on your face. Here we go again, another night of loneliness. LOL.

Truth is, you will always be constantly pining and hoping that the distance was not in the equation and that you get to meet each other ever so often like most couples do, but alas. You might also be secretly jealous of all the canoodling couples and you just feel like shouting to no one in particular “Hey, I have a boyfriend!!!!!!!! He just doesn’t live here. It’s a long distance, guyssssss!!!!!!!!!!

I was the first amongst my group of friends and family and still is, the only person to be involved in a LDR. I can be traditional for most things in my life but there are many other things that I am not very conventional, being in a LDR is one of them. Marrying a foreigner is next.

No one could understand how distressing it is at times and some even question as to whether the relationship is real, because out of sight is out of mind?. Most were ambivalent and were being bah-humbug about my LDR and queried me whether I should be bothered with all the troubles, hassles and if it is really worth it? Some others wittily challenged me into thinking that it is so easy to be susceptible to cheating because of the distance and to which I always always said, “Cheating is cheating, it knows no distance because even people staying under one roof can cheat”. True story: I even have a friend who asked me if I should be fearful because there might be a suspicion that my partner is an ISIS member, because he comes from Middle East and he grows a beard sometimes? Tsk tsk tsk, your master degree ought to be thrown into the rubbish bin, you shallow person you.

So here is a fantastic pointer for LDR, do not listen to the naysayers. There will be heaps of random people who will come and go with their half-baked advices and 2-cents-opinions but ultimately, you have to be strong and you have to know deep down that if they have nothing concrete and useful to bring to the table, treat them all like white noise.

My continuum relationship has *fingers crossed* hopefully been a huge answer to all those questions and doubts. It is not easy BUT it is doable. LDR can be a monumental blessing in disguise and in my case, is a happy ending.

So how you may ask, did I overcome the entire kerfuffle of long distance hardship and above and beyond everything else, how to sustain the relationship? Read on:

No. 1 – JUST FREAKING DO IT
Yes you read it right, just do it.
Take the plunge, go for gold because the time is now.
What are you really waiting for? For a sign from the high above?
Or for that prince charming in your local neighbourhood to come sweep you up? If that’s what you really want, you do you boo. But if you really hand on heart, do want to pursue love in a LDR, just start now.

If you feel it in the depth of your guts that something awesome is going to come out of this whole ordeal at the end of it, I say stick to your guns and ride it out. After all honey, it is not going to storm forever, the sun will eventually arise.

You will thank yourself years later for listening and heeding your gut feeling, and hey if all fails, you get to pat yourself and you tell your brave soul, you have done everything that you possibly can in your might and you have given your best. Leave it all up to fate to do its job.  But before that, you have to try and you have to try hard.

No: 2 – SHARE EVERYTHING
I take it that once you have decided to be committed in a LDR with your partner, that you are 101% head over heels with that lucky someone.
Good on ya.
While I understand that in a relationship, there should be some degree of privacy, in a LDR, you cannot afford to be personal and private. What do I mean by this? Normal couples can meet up at the end of the day or over the weekends and catch up on lost times, but in a LDR, you simply cannot. What you can do though, is share everything from the moment you wake up to the time you sleep.

I know I know this is hard work (nobody say it is going to be easy, friends) and most men like my husband are not too crazy about the idea of taking and sharing selfies daily and giving an update of date/time/venue but you know what, I did it and he did it. We shared a lot.

Sharing is extremely crucial in a LDR because you want to avoid thoughts of doubts, you want no negativity to creep up on you because this can easily happen with distance.
Where is my bf tonight, who is he hanging out with, he said he will be home and he is not picking up my calls? –You do not need this rubbish.

Also, sharing is an amazing way to make your partner feel included. I don’t know about you but I love to be included even by means of details. My husband is a pretty friendly guy, that plus the combination of his social culture, is always spending time outside with friends. One of the many things I loved and truly appreciated in our LDR was that he face-timed me almost every single night and sometimes couple of times a day, and especially so when he is out and about, all his friends will expect no less that a face-time call is going to happen whenever he hangs out with them. In this way, I know what he is up, I get to chat with his friends and then I can go to sleep with a smile on my face, satiated with the fact that he did not forget me today.

I am more of a wordy person so our days in an LDR is a bunch of my texts to him on just about anything. Sometimes, I will tell him about my plans on the weekend, what I dreamed yesterday, what I did with my family and friends, what I shopped for and the list goes on and on. I can text him non stop.

You just have to make time and put in the effort even when the going gets tough, even when the day is effed up busy or even if you are annoyed at someone in your life, you just have to invest some time to share and update your partner.

Also, I totally understand about time difference, while ours back then was a mere 2-3 hours difference, I completely sympathise some of you who has that 12 hours time difference. Just make it work and all the power to you!!

From time to time, me and my husband will send letters and care packages as a sweet gesture to each other. If you are students in a LDR and budget is tight, stick to the traditional snail mail and postcards or send a lengthy lovey-dovey email. Like I say, its all about efforts and the sky is the limit on this.

You have no idea how many text messages, video calls and funny memes I shared with my husband over the years. On hindsight, when I was applying for spouse partner visa here in Australia, I have bundles and bundles of communication proof, it is beyond ridiculous.

On an extra point of sharing everything on communication, I urge everyone in a LDR to be very careful of how you communicate over text as most of the times, the point of the message in written communication can easily be misconstrued.

True story: There was a time long long time ago, I replied to my husband “whatever” in a text message, and I have completely meant that to be a bimbo-flip-my-hair kind of “whatever”, but he who is not a particularly over sensitive fella, took it to be the rude version of a “whatever”, and long story short, it did not go down very well.

So when in doubt or if you have a problem brewing, withhold the discussion and find a suitable time to call your partner up to have a proper face to face video call. Seeing each other’s faces is better at times like that.

No: 3 – KEEP YOURSELF BUSY
And by busy, I do not mean “busy”.
Girls and guys, there is no better way to see the days go by other than having your own activities. Don’t sit at home all day long and moan about not being with each other, it will not solve the situation and it will make you go crazy, so don’t do that.
What you can do is to go out and have a freaking life, you are not dying so why not enjoy yourself? Responsibly of course.
If you have a hobby or a recreational activity, don’t drop it and keep at it.

My husband has always been and will forever be a busy bumble bee, his days and nights are pretty much about work-so that really keep him busy round the clock. Most of my Singapore peeps knew I did a lot of yoga back in the days and I really appreciated having something I could do after work, which could take my mind off. For me also, I hung out a lot with my mother and friends over the weekends. I now, appreciated those weekends of hanging out and catching up because now that I have moved far far away, I can no longer do that.

Another tip will be to pick up a part time job on the weekends (I didn’t do this because I am clearly lazy) but having a little extra income on the side is very beneficial when you are making plans to meet or to eventually bridge the gap.

No: 4 – PLAN SMALL GOALS TOGETHER
Being in a LDR with no end in sight can be a little taxing and the future might seem so so bleak, that I understand. After all, you do not want to just be dating someone who is not there.. forever.

So, do plan short term goals to just to keep the excitement up.

If you are like me and my husband who are both working adults, plan to fly and visit each other. We are also lucky that we are only 8 hours flights away, as compared to other couples who can be pretty much at two different ends of the world.

Every time we get to see each other, it is top-of-the-world liberating. It reminds me of how solid our relationship is, it gives a fresh meaning to holding on to this LDR and it also gives a solid determination to why I am trying hard in this LDR. And pssst girls, though I know this is not much of a consolation, the “sparks” (code name for: s*x) when you rekindled in a long distance relationship.. is phenomenal. Just putting it out there. *winks*

Whatever it is, there must be at least a small goal to meet up for the both of you to look forward to it. Keep it exciting!

And finally guys, no: 5 – Bridge the bloody gap.
Decide early on to bridge the gap as an end goal.
I know it may not be an accessible decision for all, some of you might be away for long studies or military or work commitments but the decision has to be made. That crucial conversation of “what is going to happen to us?” have to be pondered on, it is not to be thrown in the air kind of situation. You do not want to be dating someone “invisible” forever till you turn gray, so know early on exactly where you guys are standing in the relationship. Will it be a LDR for 3 years and you come home situation or will it be a LDR for 5 years till I get my PHD and then we move to a new city to start a new life together kind of situation? Be ballsy, be brave and have that talk way early on before the get-go and in doing so, protect yourself and your heart from getting hurt down the line.

For me personally, the decision has always been to do a LDR for as long as we can stretch till we get married and then eventually I will move to Sydney to join him, predominantly because my office desk job was more mobile. My husband has moved abroad, created his life and his business for over 15 years and it will only be selfish and inconsiderate of me to make him have to fold it all up and move to me. Compromise, guys and try to be nice when making life decisions.

And now, I am going to sound like your grandmother saying this but here are a few salient points to take home:
Trust the entire process and trust your partner of course. LDR will not work if there is no faith, trust and efforts. At every juncture of the way, do not resort to negativity and remember to go back to the essence of why you are doing what you are doing. If it is for love, then be entirely in love with the process. Have faith and do it with sincerity and entirety of your heart. If you are 100% sincere and positive, the outlook of your whole relationship is going to be more at ease.

I know this is lame and it is also downright cliche, but just do it for love. Believe in it and believe in yourself. You got this!

On the next entry, I will continue with part II and write on some helpful tips and pointers of what one should do AFTER the decision has been made to take that prodigious leap of faith in finally bridging the gap. (ie: what you should do when moving countries to join your love one)

Will write more. Hang on to your grandma panties, everyone!!!

Letter to my mother..

Over the years of my existence on the face of this planet, I have never once sat down and utter a proper thank you to the person who laboured and birthed me.

A million thank-yous are never sufficient in this lifetime for her. What I certainly lacked in my verbal appreciation, I have and will forever made it up with filial piety and adoration. I know in the hearts of hearts that I am a good daughter to her and she will no doubt, affirm the same. Gee, confident much.

To my mother in reading far far away from me physically but never far from the dear dear heart.. thank you for letting me go.

I know it was not an easy decision for you to see your only daughter move countries and continue her life in leaps and bounds as someone’s wife. Moving away at 31 for love, while it is clearly my cheeky choice, was not at all an easy feat at the slightest. Hand on heart, we both certainly know that we never saw that day coming. I know since I have moved away, you have as much as I have too, lost a big chunk of your heart. I know you will never stop worrying for me and the uncertain future, as most mothers do but trust me you need not fret, I am in great hands.

I want you to know that I am well-loved and I am taken great care of abundantly. Your son in law is an amazing guy and most times I ponder what have I done to ever deserve him or his purest heart. He is quite the angel, as it turns out to be. Same cannot be said about the daughter you raised LOL. I give you my words, as I have always done, that I will not nag at your precious son in law too much till his ears bleed. It is challenging indeed as he often annoys me with his “where is your neck?” jokes but I will try to be patient with him. Operative word being.. try.

Thank you for showing me what honesty is. Brutal honesty is not glamorous and we both know that living in this world which can sometimes be filled with fabrication of lies and “sweet-talking” is difficult, but you never backed down from saying the truth and the truth sucks and it stings. Most of your family or friends do not always like to hear what you have to say and have always misinterpreted your outspoken personality as being “difficult” or “she is always angry”. But I know you and I know your truth. And nothing else matters. Everyone else can roll in mud with their shit-stirrings.

Out of a room full of people with their mouths shut close, you have always been the brazen one to stand up and say what’s right. You are an undeniable courageous force of nature to be reckoned with.

Unfortunately, that particular genes of yours have not been kindly passed on to me. My honesty complexity that I have, tend to make me cotton wool people’s feelings too much. But you of all people know the reason why I cannot be too comfortable and too open too soon.. if I get crudely honest, I am also very rudely honest and there are not many people who can handle the truth. Thankfully enough, while I may not always be frank with my spoken words, I am reassuringly true on my written ones.

Thank you for teaching me how to cook. That is one heck of a transferable trait you can ever upskilled on me as a kid. I have since not starved and also have the ability to make others not famished too.

I remembered when I was 8 or 9 years old, you left me alone in the house with only a pot full of cooked rice. I got hungry soon after you left (as usual, hungry always) and on that very momentous day, that pot of white rice became my first wok of fried rice and the rest is indisputably history. You were so proud of what I did, you told that story to everyone for years.

Gosh, I despised it when I was so so little and you will yell for me to come in the kitchen every single time you are cooking. I was swearing under my breath so much because as a kid, I just wanted to watch cartoons or read my book or hang out with my handphone in my teens and not go to war with the hot oil in the kitchen!!! You always tell me that I should not only be great academically, I have to be great all freaking around. But THANK YOU for pulling me in the kitchen every single time, NOT because you believe only girls belong to the kitchen but you were teaching me one of the best life survival skill there is. I cannot say there are many young girls who can disembowel fishes, dissect a whole chicken and cook that damn 8 parters of a chicken, collate 13 spices and 7 vegetables, make 5 dishes under 2 hours and serve a house full of guests as a kid, but through all those years of me crying in sympathetic pain when I cut my hand with the sharp knife and all those hot oil splattering on my face and body, you have taught me to buck the fuck up and make bloody good food, at that.

You and Dad are awesome awesome cooks and there is hardly a day in my entire life that I go without home cooked food. I now,sadly miss home cooked food beyond any words I can possibly say. Nobody’s food is ever the same as yours because it was simply not made with your love.

Thank you for being both a fierce mother and yet still have a heart full of love, warmth and compassion. At that, I have to thank you for whacking the shiet out of me when I was growing up. The way you raised me in your non-bullshit ways taught me a world of discipline. You were never shy to put me straight in my place if I ever get a slight tad sassy and I could never lie to your face without you smelling my dead pack rat secret out. While many others might frown upon putting a hand on your child as a way of teaching them the right manners, on hindsight I believed that has made me a better person growing up with manners and respect. Me and my brother have never gone visiting to anyone’s house and run into any of their rooms without permission, neither have we acted like starving kids in someone’s house (well fed before going out anywhere) or we never threw tantrums in public. When my mother says No, it is a resounding No.

You can have my word that if I were to ever be given the life opportunity to be a parent, I will raise them the exact same way as you did for me and my brother; ie the clothes hanger and the belt will definitely come out very so often to play- after all, no shame or shade in saying this but we turned out fine and that’s the best of a raising any mother can do. You are and will forever be, my role model.

Thank you for being my no. 1 life supporter. You have always given me the utmost trust and freedom for me to run my life while always keeping me in line whenever I go astray. I love that while you tell me to go out and enjoy and wear that short skirt and put makeup on and not be grubby, you will always check on me and call me every single night I am out-that to me is a balance parenting skill.

If I ever ask you for an opinion, you will always ask me what does my heart desires and what I think is right. You will always always tell me to choose happiness above all else. Your trust in me is impeccable and I really appreciate that.

Even way before feminism even exist, you have always told me to do well as a woman first before settling myself down in a cliche way. You never believe that females should hang out at home unemployed waiting on hands and feet. After all, back in the 80s when most women are stay at home mums, you were out working hard since I was a baby and only stopping when me and my brother are way into our adulthood and could give you and Dad a little breather. You have showed me what it was like to work a full day outside and come home and be a mom and wife too, staying up late through the night cooking away and doing all the chores and making sure we get our homeworks done while checking in on your family and friends. You are unrelentless, you have done everything and more without asking for anything in return and yet, you never say you are ever tired. How you do it all, is still beyond unfathomable to me.

You have always been that cool mum every girl wants and it took me years to realise why my friends love hanging out with you and are secretly texting you instead of me. (No hard feelings, Momster). You are cool and you are fun and you are care-free with your thoughts and you are always the life of the party. You are always a friend when I need one and a mother at all times. I remembered when I got my heart broken for the first time and you just came home from work and immediately knew what was wrong, you just hugged me and let me cry without asking inquisitively.

Thank you for being an astounding and supportive spouse to Dad and teaching me that marriage is a damn bloody job in itself, and oh boy are you stellar as a wife. You teach me by example for over 30 years of my life to just never give up. You are strong, you are fierce, you are painstakingly patient and you are fiercely loyal to your loved ones. You will not take no for an answer or exit the easy way out every time you stumble in life.

Thank you for teaching me to not settle for second or third best and thank you for always connoting to me that when choosing a life partner, try to pass the strikingly good looking ones or those blokes who are not meek in their potrayal of lavish lifestyle or elite existence. You have always strongly opined that looks do not last perpetually forever, everyone will eventually become old, most men might go bald and money if managed poorly will dry up inevitably. Instead, you always tell me to choose a man who is not only a well rounded respectful person, but also find someone who is hardworking and mild tempered.

Momster, I am who I am today because of you and if I were to re-do my entire life all over again, I will not have it any other way in a heartbeat.

You have stood up for me when no one cared, you have hold my hands through all my life joys and life obstacles, you have spurred me on with energy and calm my nerves down through turmoils, you are a tolerant listener and an endearing advice dispenser, you are a selfless soul and you are a giver, you are a confidante and a cheery shopping buddy, you are simply just the best and I will never finish saying thanks to you in this entire lifetime and more.

Remember and know this as you already have, I will always and forever love you.

Your bombster

What it REALLY feels like to be in your 30s..

You might have already guessed my age if you have read my previous entries so I am not going to bore you anymore with the finer details.. but just for digs, I will divulge that it has been several years since that big dirty thirty birthday has passed.

So friends, I celebrated mine with a big bang..oops sorry, pardon me excuse me, I meant to say with the big apple, because me and my ex-friend (KIDDING, NOT EX JUST YET) flew 27 hours from Singapore to New York for a celebration. (She is also a fellow Octo baby so we were having a conjoined twin moment.) I digress. It is also momentous for me to point out that it was a very lengthy flight, my friend has giraffe legs and I have taken the responsibility to book us some “special extra-leg-space inflight seats”. To surmise, those special seats happened to be seats infront of a frigging toilet, we were so blessed to then undertook the diligent voluntary tasks of tracking down passengers’ communal activities throughout the entirety of the flight. (We could guessed if they had the curry beef or the chicken pormodoro pasta for lunch. Yep!!)

Quite clearly, that shiet (pardon the pun) went down exceptionally well and the entire trip was, all in all, a welcoming experience to the new decade. SUCCESS ALL AROUND!!!!

Now sisters.. and of course brothers (no gender discrimination here), 30s is NOT the new 20s. You might like to muse so, but regrettably, when you turn 30, you are not a spring chicken no more my dear, at least this for sure I know, I creak like a bloody old mattress with rusty springs underneath it.

My 20s was a pretty chaotic mayhem and just about many years of being dishevelled and disarray. I was a clueless cat pretending to know stuff about life, when we all know that in your 20s, you are practically wet behind your ears and your mama is still washing your underwear for you. Well for me, sometimes my dad does the laundry on the weekend.. ok, that’s a different story for another blog.

Thanks to TubbyT for this brilliant topic suggestion and just for cackles (she is turning 30 in couple of months so this is pretty apt I’d say), I compiled a few tongue-in-cheek personal pointers about skimming life in your 30s. This is, I reiterate, my personal experience, so if you are reading along and your ego alarm is beeping with “I already did that/It already happened to me in my 20s”, remember that life is not a competition and there are no awards to be given out here but more power to you, honey.

The best part of being in your 30s is.. your newfound attitude.
It is called the F*ck-it attitude.
See, I have always been generally blase about what evolves around me in my 20s, I will be lying if I say I am never wary about what others think of me. I do care but never for long (hence why I never got around to the losing weight memo, it is currently on no.72 on my to do list), but my I-dont-care attitude legit got even worse now that I am in my 30s.
Sorry what was that? You don’t like my face. Oh I know but I JUST DON’T CARE WHAT YOU THINK OF ME, BECKY!!!
If you don’t pay my rent or put food on my table or in my mouth (whichever is convenient), I will no longer coven about your perceptions and standpoints. Sorry, a little standoffish but this is L.I.F.E. If you are going round your block, absorbing like a sponge what every tom, dick or harry opined about you, you will be a rotting weed shrivelling with strangers’ incessant stance on life. Move on with your own independent thoughts.

In my 20s, I will rock up to work every single day with a full face of makeup, starched shirts and tight skirts and ankle-breaking stilettos.
Now in my 30s, on a good weekend , you might just be lucky enough to catch me in my grey tattered brooklyn tshirt, denim cut-offs riding up my butt cheeks, ratty havaianas and certainly no bra. Do I care? Abso-fcking-lutely not.

In your 30s, accept that life is more free-ing, as cliche as this may be. Sure, always keep your morale compass in check and your standards relatively high, but other trifling things that goes around in your life in your 30s, is just that.. trivial and merely petty. You might expect to be slightly less edgier and “looser”around those tight knit beliefs you held out for so long in your 20s. Expect that in your 30s, nothing much will really earth-shatter and shake your ground, you are a cool confident cat. (Have always been but even more so, now)

In your 30s, your social activities will significantly be redefined
Back in my 20s and in Singapore, I knocked off work no earlier than 7 or 8 pm and then I will gallivant around the office, have a little frolick with my working mates and I will officially strut off for my post-work cafe hours at about 9. We have ladies nights on Wednesdays, pretend to be normal human beings on Thursdays and then we do it all over again on Friday nights and lets not talk about the weekends.

10pm NOW is my official sleeping time. 10pm NOW is me in my pajamas, my Yankee candle warmly litted, lavender aromatherapy oil on freshly laundered pillow case, my dinner taken and tomorrow’s lunch packed away, my snacks in front of me and Netflix to be watched. And of course, where’s my cat? Is she napping, has she taken her dinner for the 45th time since I come home from work and has she been given her chin rubs? See, equally busy if not busier now.

Anyways, yes of course, these days I still anticipate the weekends, I am not dead in my soul just yet guys, weekends is still very important for me because that’s when my Coles delivery man will show up at my door. He is providing my sustenance, so surely that’s exciting.

Expect that in your 30s, turning up and showing up for public events does not come naturally with enthusiasm of life, it does however come with a basket of sorry-I cannot-make-it excuses and a woeful of hesitations. I have to admit it does take heaps of efforts to leave the house sometimes.
Sorry, will there be people in your party?
Yes? Oh, I can’t come then, I need to hang out with my cat
.

I genuinely feel that it its not that being in our 30s, we have lost the zest, but I feel like at the back of our heads we know that we have done most of it all in our 20s and that was one hell of a tiring decade. Sure, you will still keep up on with the social whats-ups but only for prodigious events and momentous landmarks of your love and dear ones, those that you really bother to show your face to and for those who you really care for. Otherwise I bet that you will rather be nicely cocooned with a good book, a good telly in the crooks of your own home. (or if you are like my said beforementioned friend, she prefers to clean for 6 hours on a Friday night, but hey, that’s her style and I am not judging)

Now on the very odd rare occasion that I do go out (insert celebratory woohooss and party sprinklers sound effect), my pre-game now is a tad different to my pre-game in my 20s. My pre-game in my 20s is starting out at 12pm and then I will lost my plot mid-way and I will not really be sure what happened in the end..hmmmmm
But NOW in my 30s, my pre-game secret is a mixed concoction of 3 in 1 coffee and panadol extra. And of course, I do not have to remind you that I have to be home by 9pm. Yass queens, nan-life has officially happened.

Hangovers in your 30s last for just about..17 days and then some.
Long gone were the days where I will trot home way past midnight.. on a working day, slept with a face full of makeup drunk or no drunk, and then to spring out of my bed ninja style next morning and do life with gusto all over again. It does not matter how much alco is in my system the night before, it will mysteriously resets itself come dawn. That was my 20s.

These days, I will get a tad too excited about going out, had a few too many just before said event, puked on people and on ownself, lost a piece or two of my own clothing, cried pitifully to husband that my head is spinning ala Kylie Minogue style and that I am going to die very soon, reaching home at 7pm to puke even more and sleep for 13 hours straight and of course die in embarrassment on the couch for the whole of the next day. Irregardless, it goes without saying that, there will be that silent vow of alco-celibacy for about 4 months or as such time when the said embarrassment dissipates.

Ahh life.

In your 20s, you are crispy Maccas french fries
In your 30s, you are officially a mashed potato from your local pub
God, I am so emotional these days, I cannot even tell you why. I swear it came from nowhere. Like out of the blue, the aliens from the sensitivity planet came and has audaciously poked me with one of their over-sensitive poison while I was sleeping one night.

One of my cousins might remember this story, when we were growing up (I think we were only 9 or 10), the world wide web aka the internet is still very fuzzy about certain viewing controls so much so that we happened to stumble onto some “funny” websites which then lead us to cheekily google and watch beheading videos (my idea, not his). I know this is very naughty of us. I remembered that he cried his head off, he wailed while he scuttle all over the house. I am pretty convinced that those videos are staged and faked but it did not help my cousin’s yowling. Meanwhile I continued to watch till the very end and then some more and all throughout, I just laugh like.. proper hearty laugh, I actually thought it was funny (of course on hindsight now, that is very satanic of me, but back then I did not think very much of it). I could sleep peacefully that night but I really cannot say the same for my cousin. Sowie 😦

I think when God made me, HE skipped out on the sensitivity part. I was cold-hearted blood curdling beast of a child, I will not cry for much. However, what HE missed out on me all throughout my yuppie-hood of a life, he certainly has over-blessed me in my 30s. I am now, a woman wrapped in cotton wool, I am now proud to declare that I am a messy crying shambles 30 seconds into watching reunion videos of dogs and their soldier owners on Youtube (thank you God for the generous gift of emotions in my 30s, you did not have to, but thank you kindly)

Expect that in your 30s, you will be a slight softie. You have officially phased through your hard-core moments in your 20s and all that pent-up punk ass attitude has blanched out. You are, my friend, no longer that raw carrot, you are now a pureed carrot. Sweet and mashed.

In my 20s, I will stagger in front of the mirror and wonder for like 5 seconds if I have taken off last night’s contact lenses, but these days in my 30s, I will stand in front of the mirror while listening to morning positive affirmation videos, and tell myself that “Today is a good day, I am beautiful and strong and confident and I am exactly where I need to be in life”. I will do exactly what the random man on the motivation video says, and then I will see my husband laughing at me from the corner of my eye. Let’s ignore him, he is jealous that I am in-tune with my body and that the universe is aligned with my visualisations.

I will then spend 10 minutes doing my morning meditation, for the fear that failing which, I will crawl to the office and bite my grumpy boss’s head off.

In your 20s, your drive and your strut is HD crystal clear quality but when you reach your 30s, expect that most things including your drive in life is fairly mellow and nebulous; cloudy and hazy round the edges.

In your 30s, your circle of friends is specifically tapered..
Expect to no longer be a social butterfly and that most people will repulse the daylight out of you. Most people will also, at this juncture of your life, cut you out ala Project Runway elimination round. When this happens, take a deep breath and say thank you next (no kidding), simply move on. It is fine when this happens because now that you are in your 30s remember that you do not need… yes what’s that? Yup, toxic friendship. I do not need to remind you that your time is very precious and that you need to eat your joint supplement and hit the sack by 9pm.

See preceding toxic friend post for further details

In your 30s, you certainly do not run for the bus and you most surely do not chase, just about anyone
Background story: I met my husband when I was inching closer to the end of my 20s. I was then, “single” for about 4-5 years, before which I was actually engaged to be married to another heck of a man. (no shade, we have cordially moved on)-I actually love how I am relaying my history in a backward fashion manner. Anywho, one of the first few conversations that I had with my now-husband-then-random-Italian looking-man, was that I certainly have shelved the idea of a marriage because of my previous scars but if things were to turn out for the good for us, I will NOT like to play the stringing-me-along-for-years-and-then-you-will-dump me game. It was very unlike me to not chicken out on grave matters of the heart but I also blazon on to him that I am not in the market for a pen-pal seeing that we are living in different continents, so 2 unequivocal choices either we become strangers OR we become serious. That poor man decided to take the less than smart route and long story short, he is now stuck with me forever. Bless him.

In your 20s, you are bothered, to dress up, to flirt, to play, to wait, to ponder, to evaluate and then wait some more and then play a little more and then flirt and flirt and wait.
In your 30s, it is either black or white, left or right, love or no love. Expect that you know you will deserve no less than a bunch of malarkeys and baloneys from a bunch of random dudettes. You know what you want from the get-go and you will propel forward in pursue of what your heart desires. You, in your 30s, do not waste superflous time. Decisiveness, if it has not come to you in your 20s, will hit you in your face in your 30s. It will hit you hard, like a smack with a chair kind of hard.

Everything is painful when you wake up
Remember my waking up like a ninja story earlier, that ninja has now long retired, mate. These days, almost every morning when I wake up, it is a slow rise out of the bed, not because I am busy thanking the universe and God consecutively that I am still alive (yes I do the thanking, later on in the day after my brekkie) but it is a slow rise out of the bed because I am just meticulously making sure that my torso is still intact, my sole did not get swollen overnight, my hip did not get dislocated from all that tossing and turning, my knees are doing fine and that I did not grow a beard overnight (hairy girls problem). These days, I will sit for 3 hours at work, stand up to go to the loo and will walk away like a hunchback of notre dame with my back almost 30 degrees lower to the ground, I swear with age comes gravity, I SWEAR (first is the back and then the boobs, and then nevermind..!!)

I use to never be an ardent fan of the painkillers but I am now officially, a walking pharmacy. In my 20s, I am invincible and I was never afraid to die. Now in my 30s, I get tension migraines all the time, just by thinking about stress. I may not be stress just yet, but just thinking about stress makes me stress and then the migraines will come, and out comes my ye’faithful alliance, Panadol E!! I carry with me a buffet of drugs to cover my impending sickness (JUST IN CASE, GUYS. ALWAYS BE PREPARED), because you will never know who might give you the flu next.

It will happen either gradually or overnight. But, all at once, you will soon realise that those extensive nights from the long gruelling years of you standing in your 6 inch high heels, rocking and gyrating to the music is going to affect you and your creaky knees. All those late nights and early wake-ups effed your sleeping patterns, your body is no longer the one that functions impecabbly well in your 20s, it just does not. It is like, overnight, my left knee decide to check out and say, SEE YAAAAAAAAA!!! I kid you not, even my collarbone is creaking and I have never even attempted a headstand successfully before, so I have no idea how that came about.

Sometimes, I wonder if this is a natural process to humble one to slow down and appreciate what is left of the body. I know that it will not get any better moving forward in life but one can only hope that this body deterioration will just hold up and take its own bloody time, because why thank you, I still prefer to walk and not be rolled around when I am 60. Fingers crossed!!!

In my 20s, my makeup routine every morning was a 20 products step
In my 30s..my skincare routine is all of only 13 steps +++
Well, I can yap all day and all night about skincare because that is my recent mojo, having turned 30. I AM NOW UTTERLY BESOTTED WITH SKINCARE so you can come and talk to me about them!!!

I am (not a shameless plug I swear) in the midst of churning up my skincare entry and that should drop in a month or so, which I am ridiculously enthralled about because I will like to share with friends and family what truly helped to transform my problematic skin to… hmm less problematic skin (gosh why am I speaking like a Loreal spokesperson, my pores are laughing right now) .

But just touching on this briefly, in my 20s, I have an absolutely non-existent pedantic skincare routine, I have 1 Neutrogena cleanser, a face full of 99 problems and a wardrobe full of makeup. What I lacked in skin health, I make it up in 7 layers of foundation. I never leave home without makeup, in my 20s, like never ever. It was not until I moved to Sydney and was hit with a tsunami of realisation that my face is literally cracking and flaking with deep set lines around my mouth, a nose full of blackheads and inflamed blemishes, and no, not because it was in the middle of winter but my face was actually peeling in the middle of freaking summer. So if that is not a problem big enough to garner my attention, I do not know what is. Oh, for the love of serums and essences.

My memory is pristine..not
Wait.. why am I talking about my memory again???

I am a very gassy adult now.. and I am not proud of it
Like pant-ripping gassy every. single. day after lunch
I wish I am one of those people who can angelically burp silently and be-gone with the unnecessary tummy wind for the day. I am not a pro burper so that is one skill I cannot hone at. I, however just need 30 bloody private seconds in my office toilet to rip it out. JUST 30 SECONDS GUYS, PLEASE DON’T COME BARGING IN EVERY MINUTE!! MAMA NEEDS TO UN-WIND FOR A SECOND!! OKAY MAYBE NOT A SECOND, MAYBE GIVE ME JUST 30 SECONDS. THANKS!!

Why do we get so gassy as we get older? I was not gassy in my 20s and I certainly have no issues with bloated stomach back then. Sure I was never in shape but I never have bowel problems or gassy problems or any problems, for that matter. It is so effing embarrassing. Every single day after lunch, on the dot of 2pm onwards, my stomach will start playing a full rendition of 16-string quartet from the sydney opera house performance. No matter if I eat good or I eat rubbish, all the wind in the world will be amazingly trapped in my 6-packs abs. I will be silently holding that tornado of a gas in me until I reach home and it is so uncomfortable for hours. I do not reckon it is healthy but I do not really have a choice. There are days where I am pretty convinced, I will do a teeny stretch and let one rip out. And then I will never come to back work again, the next day or any other day moving forward.

These are all I can whipped up at the moment and I had every bit of fun conjuring this entry up, as I hope you were, when you are reading this.

I know I know, 30s is not that old and some of you might read this and say “ohoh wait till you are in your 40s/50s/60s” but nonetheless, we are all human on our own life paths and the most stellar recourse is to practice your gratitude every single day, irregardless of which age bracket you are. We are all given this opportunity of a life for a reason, and let that not be in vain.

If you are ushering your 30s, it will most certainly be a pleasurable time of your life so enjoy, enjoy and enjoy (note to self). It is a decade of fresh certainties and in whichever way you feel like you have come undone in your 20s, your 30s will be where you ravel your life back.

Not all my questions have been answered in life, for sure, but for the most part of it, all the doubts in my 20s have been mostly satiated. All I can say is bring it on 40 and the rest of my life, because you know what they always say, life has only just begun.


Toxic Friendship

ain’t this the truth

The blatant truth is, writing about toxic friendship, is equivalent to treading muddy water. It is nothing but a grey area where people do not wish to broach, much less discuss about. Classify this as a taboo, you may, for it might as well be.

After all, friendship is only…a cross between being in a “blood runs thicker than water” family bond and a relationship without the romance aspect. Some will say “Oh it is just friendship, it is whatever, people come people go, do not take it too hard, should not matter too much”.

Well, kudos to you if you have that people-come-people-go mentality, bet you can sleep easy at night. But for some others,  there are people out there who value friendship as seriously as other relationships in life. For others, friendship is everything- they might not have family anymore or they personally do not want to be tied down in a relationship, so friendship is one area in their lives that they invest in whole heartedly and in totality.

I will not delve too much about what personally transpired as I feel like in all fairness, there are 2 sides to a coin and my mum has always taught me enough manners for me to not blow smoke behind someone’s ass. However, for the sole purpose of blogging this down, I will attempt to beat myself around this topic, with the utmost respect and decency for the ex-friend in question.

I had a friend whom I have known since I was 12 going on 13, I am now for reference, 33 going on 34. Yup, that was only the longest 20 years of my life I can never get back, all masked in the name of friendship. 20 good years gone, therefore by and by, this gives me major credits to be talking about the toxicity of a friendship per se. This person (respectfully) is now a has-been in my life.

When we met, we were tiny un-impressionable girls not knowing any better in life. We grew up to become teens, young adults and eventually adults with jobs and life responsibilities and eventually looking for commitments. Quite obviously, over the years, we have both changed as a person, in our insights, goals and missions but the last thing that I was hoping for in a person, was a change of morale.


The Good
The good thing about toxic friendship is knowing, learning and experiencing what it is like first hand to be with someone who calls you her best friend but in reciprocation, me just being in a limbo of a life, not knowing exactly how to react except to just go with the flow. Her flow.

The Bad
The bad thing about toxic friendship is.. where shall I begin?

Toxic friendship is..everything that does not feels right.
Through the long treacherous years, the friendship never felt organic. There was for lack of better words and as cliche as this will sound, a lack of chemistry. Something will always feel choreographed, something will always feel forced. For the most part of it, comfort will not be a word I described our bond. I always felt hesitant-both in my words and actions. I was struggling to live a life full of hidden lies around her and the friendship, not that she knew who I really was to be honest, but I had to dumb things down so I can portray a more decent and “angelic” side of me. In truth, I was a facade. A deceitful facade. Not one I am proud of either.

Toxic friendship.. is all about her, and none for me.
Sure, I will hear her rant about the guy who she dated for 7 years but have never been introduced to me, and listen endlessly I will do. But as soon as the table is turned, after she is done ranting with her weekly updates of the phantom relationship and sucky colleagues and annoying sisters and everything in between, she will be perpetually exhausted and too drenched to listen to me and my own life stories.
Add this up to tumultuous years of me listening to her and no one to return the favour, I AM JUST SO FREAKING DONE. A little consideration would be nice somehow. I am not anyone’s 1800 help hotline, if she has not yet learn, communication goes both ways, we have got to chat, we have got to discuss and we explore suggestions together. It does not only start and finish with..you.

Toxic friendship..is being judged, always.
For years and years, she was not privy to my truth and deep dark secrets, as I felt like that there was a huge judgement weighing over our friendship. Every move and every step throughout my life will be over-casted and shadowed by her discernment. Gone clubbing on a Friday night? Distasteful. Weekend away with another girlfriend? Unclassy. Got a new lover? Unchastity.

Quite clearly it is a reflection on both ways, I felt that I never knew who she truly was and I felt that there must be a colossal part of her life story that is not being told to me either, but told to others in her other circle of friends. What a way to make your best friend feel special? Needless to say, honesty was not our strongest suit.

I have never trusted her with anything, neither a secret nor any random object. Why you may ask? Because she never trusted me with hers. I remembered being engaged once before, and in this engagement party, all I asked for was just simply a favor of holding on to the gifts that was given by my guests. Just hang on to it for few hours, or pass it on to my Mum who is busy welcoming the guests. Can she do it? She could but did not want to. She said no I can’t and walked away. She left me discombobulated that day. She simply cannot rise up to a simple favour and she calls me her best friend. Ponder on that.

Have you ever think of the person you will call in the dire needs of an emergency? Me too. Very bleakly, she will never be the first person to pop in my head. The idea of calling her when I need some help followed by her impending questions and the judging and the whys and the oh my gods and eventually the I cannot come right now, is insufferable. That is, to put it very plainly, just so sad, if you are not able to trust someone whom is supposed to be there for you through thick and thin. And trust me, I have always been there for her.

Toxic friendship is.. over possession of my life, my time, my space, my emotions.
She wants to be the one and the only one that matters, when it comes to friendship. Sure, I will come and meet your 458 friends from all walks of your life but does she ever take any effing efforts to know the other people in my life, my friends from tertiary, my friends from work etc, even any love interest I might have at any time? Na-da. No questions asked, no interest shown, just absolutely nothing. Zilch. It is like as if, if she does not ask, maybe the people in my life will mysteriously disappear? That she thinks in this tiny bubble, there is no one else but her and me?

There have been multiple occasions where new people will come in my life and I will be excited to share them with her over meet ups or gatherings, but she was just not into it. Either she never made the effort and turned up or she will do so in disdain and in recent years, talked about my friends in passing with such hatred. Seriously? I could never mention new friends I have made to her because the jealousy that I can sense dripping from her is just unbearable. That is not friendship my friend, that is just being selfish. That’s being over controlling to a point of suffocation.

Toxic friendship is manipulation.. at its worst.
If she was not in a good mood, I cannot be in a good mood. If she was feeling grumpy and shitty, I was expected to shrivel and cower around. If we were ever quarrelling which was quite often, dare I say that it was over the limits of a normal friendship, she will never be the first to say sorry. NEVER. She was never at fault because she was always the best, make no mistakes about that. The ego just killed me through and through, sometimes the tension was so thick in the air, you can slice it with a knife. She would dictate when she is done being in a slum and when she wants to go on being shitty. The world apparently evolves around her, while I waited around walking on eggshells. That’s not a friendship, that’s treating me like a punching bag of emotions.

Toxic friendship.. is not standing up for me on my wedding day.
My wedding day, is only the most important day of my life. No biggie.
Never asking me if I need help with my wedding plans, but only telling me that I should let her know if I need her because she was “not used to all of this” whole wedding thingy, when in fact she has sisters and cousins and friends who are all married and she was knee deep into it. Making me invite some of her friends whom I barely know only because she would be “awkward” on her own best friend’s wedding day. Running off with her own friends halfway through my wedding and me discovering later on, through one of her invited friend’s Facebook post that they have gallivanted off to have high tea in a hotel in the middle of my wedding without a word or saying goodbye. Who does that?

And again, struggling to fly and visit me once I have moved because it is “too awkward” with the idea of staying in the same house as me when I am sleeping with my own husband in another room. Weird? Oh yeah, you have no idea.

Toxic friendship is also.. leaving all your single friends once you get married.
Girls, do not do this. Be it when you find a new man, engaged, married, do not be a classified missing person. Your friends were there in your life long before the man waltz in, do not abandon your friends just because you have a “new life” now. When you do this, you are giving off a very pungent message of ” I need you only when I am bored or single or both”, Please do not treat others like dirt.

Thanks to another toxic friend of mine, I personally learn not to ditch my other friends now that I am married. Never mind that I was a maid of honour in her wedding, the years of being her friends, the laughter and the tears, the time, the money, the effort, the energy, the respect of her cultures and tradition, never mind all of that because that sister got a new man. Never saw it coming that she was post-haste to ditch all of her single friends once she said I do.

Toxic friendship.. can be a million and one other things.
The list does honestly goes on. It branches from criticising you about your life decisions, body weight, career move OR it can also go to the other end of spectrum of using you as a portable ATM machine-this friend will only comes to you when he/she is broke and in need of moolahs. The said friend will usually not surface for repayment. The list is long and unforgiving.

Am I a toxic friend?
You bet I was (notice I popped the word “was” instead of “am”). I will be the first to raise my hand and say, I was not a great friend. Gosh, in fact I was pretty shitty myself. I was not always there, I bullied some of my friends emotionally and physically (Yes, making someone go down on her knees and hands to save my stucked heel in a gutter on a clubbing drunken night while yelling at them to do it faster-yes been there done that).

I was not always great.

But I grew up and I noticed every single time I am being mean to my dearest of friends, I feel bad if I hang out with someone and talks about me instead of listening to them, I don’t feel the greatest if I have to lie just to cancel our meet up plans.
And yes, I learn.
I attempt and attempt hard and painstakingly to make conscious efforts to grow some balls and be nice to people around me. I am aware that every single one around me have different problems and struggles every single day, being nasty towards them does not make me richer, smarter or better. Being mean or grumpy to people around me only makes me- malevolent, baleful, antagonistic.

But toxic friends do not always notice these, they do not always want to learn and they surely do not want to change, they just want to exist to torment scapegoats in their life for their pleasures and benefits.

Toxic friends are not fun to have, so why do we still have them anyway?
Because sometimes, if you are like me, you just want to do right onto others. Being rude and telling toxic people to scram was never high in my to do list, in fact I did not even know how horrible the friendship was turning out to be until years later when these people in question truly showed their flamboyant colours. By then, the milk will already have curdled.

The takeaway….
If there is anything that you can take away from reading a chunk of my word diarrhoea, I will say that the best lesson to learn is, to nip it in the bud.

If you are befriending anyone and realise that there is something off, you do not feel amazingly great being around that person, you do not think that the person is being friends with you for the right reason, the person abuse you with words etc, or just whatever it is, you can walk away. Just walk away. Remove yourself from a situation which does not suit you, it is your life, your choice and your power. You do not have to hang around them just because you cannot say no, just because you are such a nice person and you do not want to hurt anyone.

Take it from me and learn that, a week will become a month and will become a year and eventually will become 20 years before you know it. You will be saving yourself a world of heartaches in the future when you realised that the friendship was not worth it at all. Save yourself before others. It is only self-loving and righteous to do so.  You only owe yourself that much respect.

Learn that cutting some of your “friends” off from your life is not evil or cruel. It is a right of passage, think of it as cleaning out your wardrobe ala Marie Kondo style-get rid of clothes that you don’t wear anymore to make space for new clothes that will put a smile to your face. Friends are not clothes, that I know, but that is a good analogy to start with.

Remember that we only have 24 hours in a day, not a second less or a minute more. So, choose wisely who you welcome in your life, who you approve of staying in it and who you allow to take up your time. It is noble to show up for everyone, but what is left of you at the end of the day? Not much, honestly. Don’t you think your mind and soul deserves more than just a wiped out brain and a broken soul?

As soon as I hit 30, my field of vision when it pertains to who are my real friends, staggered significantly. I have no time for funny and fake friends, friends of a season, friends who are passing by because I simply don’t. My time and what’s left of this heartache is simply too precious to be given up for some senseless bidding in an auction. I am in this life for only true quality friendship, not quantity. If I am spending time with you and making the efforts with you, you are in my team. You are my person.

Always remember that  YOU ARE  A GLASS COMPLETELY FULL, not half empty neither half full. You are a strong driven soul who does not need bad friendships or fake relationship to dictate how amazing you really are.

Remember, you are enough.
People who come into your life and stay, are only lucky and blessed to be in the presence of a company of a great soul.

If you are in the thick of a toxic friendship, get rid of it. If you are catching yourself being a toxic friend onto others, remember that we may all never be a perfect friend but we can always lean on the side of being a better friend. Start now.