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Friday, May 31, 2019

Milo's Depression

Our Milo takes it very badly if I take my dinner alone, upstairs, without him. He expects to be included in my dinner because he is often the only companion I have at meals (the others all work late and eat dinner later). If I look into Milo's eyes, I will melt and give him bites of what I am eating. Sometimes, I stubbornly refuse to meet his gaze because I know that if my eyes connect with Milo's eyes, I will shamelessly capitulate. The eyes are windows into my soul and also a means to control me. When Milo looks at me with those eyes, my heart beats faster and a knot forms at the pit of my stomach.

Milo knows this and if I am eating something that he particularly likes, he will nuzzle my belly and put his head on my lap... all the while looking up at me with those penetrating eyes. I cannot meet his eyes. If I meet his eyes, I am lost. I do everything those eyes ask me to do, which usually means that he gets much of the food off my plate.

Thank heavens Milo is not a man! If a man made those eyes at me, I think I risk losing far more than half a plate of food!

The Daughter started commenting that on some nights, Milo is depressed and moody. He won't wag his tail when she gets home. He won't stand up and run to her. He won't ask for petting and cuddles. Those are invariably the nights when I choose to get my dinner sent up to my bedroom on a tray. On one occasion, it was really obvious that he was angry about me taking dinner alone upstairs, without him.

When the tray was sent upstairs to me, Milo was out in the garden. When done, I brought the tray downstairs myself. When Milo saw me, he expected that I was coming downstairs to eat my dinner with him. He pranced and skipped around. Then, he saw the tray in my hand with empty plates and glasses. His doggie face changed.

When The Daughter got home, he was so depressed and I felt so bad for him that I came downstairs to re-enact my dinner, and share a few bites with him.

Happy Milo.

Depressed Milo.

Nerdy Milo.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Everyone Has a Story of Pain

I begin now to understand that everyone has a story of pain. Sitting across from me during parent coaching are often parents who were:

- abandoned by their Father
- emotionally abused by their Mother
- rejected by their biological parents and given up for adoption
- physically abused by their Mother
- overly controlled by their parents

These parents come to me because their children are 
- not motivated 
- not performing at potential
- getting into trouble in school.

To fix their children's issues, I need to examine the parent's parenting reflexes, which then leads me to examine the family's psychodynamics, which leads me to look into the types of childhood my client has had, which leads frequently to stories of intense pain that has not dulled with the passing of years.

It is so easy for non-parents to lock away their pain and get on with life. As long as there are no children involved, most people do not look for healing. But, when children come and parents understand that the pain in their past are leading to present uncontrollable behaviours which hurt and define their children, many choose to face their unresolved issues and resolve them. Not all do, though. Some simply have no courage.

Those who do, are really very brave. It is not easy to revisit pain and re-live it in order to face it down and resolve it. Often, when one re-lives the pain, it means to mentally become that helpless child again. To have grown up and out of the abusive situation, who would willingly return to that trap, even if it is only in one's mind?

Yet, Numbers 14:18 states...
The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.

Sinful patterns of behavior are often passed on to descendants. For example, an environment of alcoholism, sexual abuse or violence can scar children for life. The same children can grow up to repeat these same behaviours, unless the cycle is broken through obedience by faith. Stories of childhood abandonment and childhood abuse can go 2 ways. In one, the new generation faces the sin and resolves it. In another, the new generation submits to the same sin and perpetuates the cycle.

By now, I have heard so many stories of so much pain that my own story of intense pain (that I wrote about HERE) seems to grow unimportant. And it is with this realisation that I truly learnt the meaning of Luke 6:38 - Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” You see, when I reach out to heal others of their pain, God has poured on me in equal measure healing in abundance for my own pain.

Also, when I revisit the moments when I cried out to God, "Why? What have I done to deserve so much pain in my life?" I now realise that I asked the wrong question. My question should have been... "God. What task do you intend for me to do that you bless me with so much pain in my life?"

I suppose that every instrument needs to be bent into shape and forged in fire, and if I had not gone through my own pain, I would not be able to help others today.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Something Smells Good

It started with a Yves Rocher soap bar that Tracy (my PE tuition teacher) gave me. The scent was charming and lingered about The Husband when he kissed me goodbye in the mornings. It is nice to be woken up in the mornings by the smell of an orange grove in late summer.

So, I started exploring Yves Rocher fragrances when there was the one-for-one offer every International Woman's Day. I tried out the Lilac, Rose and Lily of the Valley eaux de toilette. In French, "toilette" means grooming and "eau" means water. The extra "x" in "eaux" simply denotes the plural form. Translated, "eau de toilette" means "water used for personal grooming."

The Yves Rocher Lily of the Valley was most unsatisfactory. The sillage was poor and the scent lasted barely 30 minutes after it was sprayed on. I found that Rose was just too cloyingly feminine for me. It made me feel like some disempowered princess waiting for a knight in shining armour. Sometimes, the Rose scent made me feel like a gluten free cake.

The nicest of the 3 Yves Rocher fragrances was the Lilac. This scent smelled the most natural and when I wore it, I felt like a woman, not a food. It could also last all night if I sprayed it on at bedtime.

But the Lily of the Valley has a special significance for me. There are certain memories that are etched into the mind's eye. The Lily of the Valley is one of those for me. 30 years ago, I was walking through the overgrown garden of an abandoned house outside Lyon when a delicate fragrance rose up around me. I had walked into a cluster of Lily of the Valley plants. The spring was wet. The sun was more intense that it had been in 4 months. There was the smell of freshly dug earth. The moist smells of spring mixed in the delicate fragrance of Lily of the Valley were heated gently by a sun slowly awakened from the slumber of winter.

It was one of the scent memories that I will never forget. In that moment, everything that I saw and felt etched itself into my mind.

I now live in a tropical country with sun all year. The sun here is so abundant that people consider it a nuisance. Back there, in Toulouse, after 3 months of winter where the sun barely made an appearance, the first rays of golden sunlight would entice me outdoors in search of a bench where I could feel the gentle kiss of the sun on my skin. There was a spot in a courtyard outside one of my university classrooms where the sun would drape itself onto a bench. I loved to sit on that bench and let the sunlight drape itself on me, instead. It made me feel like a chocolate croissant, with soft and melty insides. 

Now, whenever I smell Lily of the Valley, I think of the sensual caress of the French sun, the smell of freshly dug earth, the wetness of spring and inside, I feel all melty.

I was unhappy with the Yves Rocher Lily of the Valley. It evoked none of the same memories. So, The Husband bought me a bottle of Diorissimo (which really does smell like Lily of the Valley) and since we were already at the perfume counter, I also picked a bottle of j'adore to add to the bottle of Pleasures that I already have.

Friday, May 24, 2019

A Father's True Pride

When we returned from Italy last year, our taxi was driven by a man who boasted about his children all the way from the airport to our house. It is nice when service staff chatter on because then we don't have to put effort into small talk. So, I encouraged the taxi driver with intermittent questions - enough to keep him talking right through the 30 minutes journey home.

It turned out that he was previously an engineer so illustrious that he had patents to his name. He had risen to a certain level in his organisation before he retired and then, started driving taxis just to pass time productively.

I was impressed with his achievements.

However, he spent barely 3 minutes telling us about his professional achievements and the better part of 30 minutes waxing lyrical about his 4 children. All had become professionals. 2 attended Cambridge. All 4 were loving, kind and family life was joyful. It was heartwarming to feel his fatherly pride pulse throughout the car, as his low and husky voice rose and fell, in measured cadence.

I remembered, then, reading in "Neither Civil Nor Servant" a quote from Eugene Yeo (Philip Yeo's son) - "I've always felt that [Philip Yeo] was unnaturally proud of us." Then, I turned around and looked at my own husband's chiselled face, and a truth hit me like a punch in my belly.

The Husband has an impressive list of achievements under his belt. Yet, he has not once boasted about what he has done. He never tells strangers what he does for a living. He seems to have no pride in what he has himself achieved.

- What do you work as?

- Aeronautical Engineer.

... is the curt response delivered in a tone that discourages further questioning.

The only time The Husband came close to boasting was when he posted The Daughter's 8 A level distinctions on Facebook. In private and amongst company, The Husband never ever recounts his own achievements. Yet, his pride in his children (who have accomplished so much less) is palpable.

When our children were small, he was often critical. He showed great displeasure at The Son's handwriting, did not approve of The Son skipping school and not doing HW, flew into a trembling rage when he caught The Son licking his plate at the dining table, and threw away The Son's most comfortable t-shirts because they looked like clothes only a beggar would wear.

The Husband praised them rarely and when they misbehaved, he shut them out of his consciousness. He did not want to know. I could never tell The Husband to scold our children. He simply assumed that was my job. As he got promoted upwards in his organisation, he became completely uninvolved in caring for them (aside from driving them around on weekends). HW, skinned knees, bullying, broken hearts, naughtiness... all were my job.

Yet today, if you ask The Husband to recount his greatest pride and joy, he will point at MY work - his children with me. He will say that he is most proud of our children. He thinks his daughter extraordinarily beautiful and accomplished. He is practically bursting with pride when he looks down at our son, asleep in his bed on weekends home from the army barracks.

I wonder if all men are like that. At the end of their lives, it appears, that nothing they have done to change the world even matters. They are proud only of their children, in a way they have no words to express.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Mother's Day 2019: Smith Marine Kelong Restaurant

For the price of a hotel buffet for 4, we decided to go fish for our meal in a kelong. Click HERE for the restaurant.

We had great fun, even though the booking process was not exactly pleasant.

The bumboat there is $100 for 12 paxes and it does not matter if you have 1 pax or 12. To book, you must first put in a deposit of $100 and this is taken off your final food bill. You also have to pre-order your food because they need to buy stuff to cook for you. I was told that there would be gong-gong, squid etc... caught fresh from the kelong. So, I ordered those. However, when we got there, the staff said that those have not been raised in the kelong for a long time. There is nothing but fish and lala caught fresh there. Since we have celiacs in the party, I had to ask a few times to get any sense of whether the dishes were gluten free. Then, I had to ask a few times in order to get a sense of how much the meal would cost (having made my pre-order).

All said, it is an experience we do not regret. We will not do it again because of the hefty booking process but it was a fun day out. The portions given for each dish are generous too!

The kelong restaurant.


Black pepper beef.

Broccoli. There was also kangkong but The Daughter missed taking that dish.


The Son.

Catching our own lunch.