Author: joycehliting

Book Notes: The Gifts of Imperfection

After much prodding by my friend Val to read this book, I finally got down to it. She recommended it so much that she almost shoved it into my bag until I promised that I would head to the nearest Kinokuniya to get a copy for myself and text her when I did. And I did. It’s not a difficult read, the language is simple and peppered with lots of personal stories, but it was still hard because at so many points I put it down and went, “Oh shit, that’s me.” She titled her book as “The Gifts of Imperfection – A Guide To a Wholehearted Life” and how to “Let go of who you think you’re supposed to be and embrace who you are”. I was skeptical. I can’t tell you how hard that is to do, particularly in a collective Asian society. Sometimes the expectations of family, friends, teachers and coworkers drown out your own voice. So much so that we turn to addiction, be it gambling, alcoholism, more bags, bigger houses, …

Little Forest Movie Review

On the flight back from Japan I scrolled past the usual blockbusters and settled upon the this Korean film. “Little Forest” is adapted from a Japanese slice of life manga series written and illustrated by Daisuke Igarashi. The story follows Hye-won, a recent graduate who fails her final teaching examinations in Seoul and returns to her childhood home, in a traditional Korean village. Hye-won finds solace in the “Little Forest” or the loving home created by her single mother, who is no longer there but has given her a happy childhood. Through the seasons she reflects upon her experiences in big city life that drove her home and navigates through her journey of self-discovery with the help of her childhood friends. The theme for this movie is nourishment. With her roots in the country, Hye-won is hungry for nature, home-cooked meals, genuine human connection and a slower pace of life. The movie is filled with gorgeous cinematography of country life and delicious Korean dishes from each season, reminding us of life’s simple joys. There are …

Book Notes: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying

Marie Kondo is a polarizing figure. Like many, I binge-watched her series on Netflix and soon found myself folding shirts so that they could stand by themselves and wondered if the ripped pair of shorts I couldn’t bear to throw were still ‘sparking joy’ by collecting dust in my wardrobe. (Later on, I realised the real reason. I was hoping I would one day fit into them again). Her sweet Japanese demeanour, unusual way of ‘greeting houses’ by kneeling down to show gratitude and ‘waking up books’ by knocking them gently has left some skeptical about her ‘KonMarie’ method. It’s quite funny to see her American clients flash quizzical looks when she first asks them to thank their houses before they start tidying. My husband rolled his eyes a little too. I skipped some of these ‘unnecessary’ steps. But after watching her interview with Stephen Colbert, her response to why people love her philosophy convinced me to read her book! Stephen: “Why do Americans love your philosophy and your cleaning up so much?” Marie: “Of course we all have problems tidying up our homes, but …

How Slow Motion Multi-tasking Can Be Good For Us

I have a serious problem with multi-tasking. But maybe its not so bad. I came across a talk today and this economist, Tim Harford,  talks about the benefits of “Slow Motion Multi-tasking”. He argues that working on multiple projects at once, can do more good for our creativity than we realise. I’m constantly working on multiple projects and then feeling overwhelmed, gave up and felt too guilty to get back into it because “What is the point?”. Yes, throughout my life, I’ve started and stopped learning multiple things. It started with the guitar when I was 12, then different types of sports (netball, basketball, handball, running and yoga), picking up different languages with varying levels of proficiency since university (German – semi fluent, Spanish – can order in a restaurant, Korean – can read hangeul and Japanese – N5 or the most basic level). Oh did I mention, baking, drawing and ukelele classes too? Clearly I have a lot of interests and I love all of them. But I hate the way I feel when I feel stuck and want …

Being Vulnerable Is Hard

Happy new year. It’s 2019. Every year I make an attempt to reflect upon the previous. Writing about it is therapeutic. And I miss writing. 2018 was the year of baby steps on the path of self discovery. It’s also been one of the most difficult years. I typed 3 versions of this post and deleted it each time. I wanted to write about 2018, but it ended up being a struggle because being honest about vulnerability is hard. I guess that’s why poets, painters, dancers and musicians prefer to express their pain through their work. Part of it is because of fear of judgement. The other is because you come face to face with your suffering. Not numbing yourself to the pain with your smartphone, or a new drama series on Netflix. I used to journal daily when I was much younger. I also had a blog where I would share photos of my daily life, random life events and be open about my emotions. Now that seems so difficult to do. When you become an adult, society teaches to hide your vulnerabilities, what to say, …

Book Notes: The ones who walked away from Omelas

– A short story about a utopian city whose happiness depends on the suffering of a single child locked in a closet alone – Author wrote to deliberately reflect reality – We are all playing the game of life, living by the rules of a capitalist society – Can you accept the happiness of your life if you knew that your ‘happiness’ came at the expense of those who suffer? – The young ones often are enraged and disgusted, but they learn to accept and even rationalise the suffering of that one child for the happiness of their own – At times some of these children do not weep or go home in rage, but simply leave Omelas. – To where? Perhaps that place they are are walking to does not exist, but they seem to know where they are going – Or are we all the ones locked in the closet, too stupid to know what life could be like outside of these walls? – Her closing words are sad, yet truthful: “Omelas already …

Wherein I turned 30

I was 18 when I first watched the episode of F.R.I.E.N.D.S, “The One Where They All Turn 30”. I couldn’t relate. It seemed distant and I thought, “why are they all so upset, 30 is still young!” Fast forward to 2017, turns out it really is pretty scary when you’re born in a first world country. Suddenly your peers seem more successful in their careers, may own a fancier apartment with swimming pools,  may have even started having good looking babies. It makes you stop to think, “What have I done with my life?” I was depressed in July (birthday month), having never truly taken a break from work, without a plan or a freelance gig in the books. I’d started working on my current business with an ex-boss, but in the developmental stage, it was hard to tell if it would be worth the effort or time. (Now I know different, but at that point it did feel uncertain!) I spoke to a few friends and realised that I wasn’t the only one. I’m thankful for the support …

Why we desperately need to change the way we travel

My worst travel nightmare is to get on a plane, travel 35000km across the world and find the exact same streets, malls and restaurants. As global brands like GAP, Starbucks, Victoria’s Secret and Uniqlo start popping up at every corner of Singapore’s malls, it’s not hard to believe that this will eventually be what happens if we don’t question what we want in the world. Even more worrisome is the fact that local cuisine is slowly dying out, recipes lost, as we indulge more in avocado toast and flat whites in the brand new cafes of gentrified neighbourhoods. What would be the point of travelling then if we all crave and have the same experiences? Surely it must be more than just to upload an Instagram story and accumulate likes? Somewhere along the way, we’ve forgotten a crucial aspect of travel – rehabilitation. If we were to look inward before we embark on any trip and ask ourselves, “Why are we visiting this country?” I think we would have less crowded Eiffel Towers, less souvenirs targeted at tourists selling the …

Book Review: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Rating: 10 / 10  – the best nonfiction book I’ve read in a while. I started this book last evening and it left me in tears. Neurosurgeon Paul Kalanithi writes about coming to terms with death and being diagnosed with lung cancer. His journey swings to and from extreme ends of a pendulum – from doctor to patient, from English major to neurosurgeon, from living a life so full of promise and potential to never knowing how much more time you have left to finish the work you were supposed to do or how many more nights you have to cuddle with your wife and newborn daughter. As a neurosurgeon, he knows better than to question, “Why me?”. In the 0.0012% chance of it happening to someone in their 30s and a non-smoker, he knew he was still part of the group of “Why not me?”. He faced death straight on, making plans for his wife and daughter’s future, trying to go back to surgery and helping as many patients as he could, writing this book as his final call …

Book Notes: Switch, the best book on change I’ve read so far

I’ve been feeling like i’m stuck in a rut and decided to read this book “Switch”. I like how it makes Daniel Kahneman’s analogies of Systems 1 & 2 more relatable and specific to the topic of Change. Highly recommended!   There are so many great chapters that I found myself screen-shooting so many pages of the book so I can keep a copy with me even when it’s overdue. The Heath brothers describe the necessary conditions for successful change to happen. Book Notes: There are basically 3 basic factors at play for change to happen successfully. A clear-headed Rider (your brain), a willing Elephant (your emotions) and a well-laid Path (your situation.)   RIDER The Rider is basically your brain. While it’s very useful for analyzing multiple options and situations, having too many options usually results leaving your brain in analysis paralysis. In situations where change is needed, too much analysis will doom the effect. Your Rider tends to focus on problems instead of solutions and will spin its wheels until you are given clear direction. That’s why to make progress on …