So my chosen mantra for the day: connect. I thought this was an appropriate word for several reasons:

1) We had Chinese class this morning, and the whole point of learning a foreign language is to “connect” with people;

2) We caught up with a friend for coffee this afternoon, so just “connect”ing with him;

3) We were invited to a dinner and dance function tonight, so just “connect”ing with new people as well as a few friends from dancing who also went tonight 😊

My mantra also had another unintentional effect on my day: rather than thinking I have to trudge through class half asleep on a Saturday morning, by remembering my mantra for the day, I could reframe it by saying that “I am here to learn to communicate in Chinese in order to “connect” with other people”.

So I’m putting down day two of introducing a mantra to my day as an overwhelming success 😊 Now time to think of a mantra for tomorrow…


My mantra for the day

I got another cool idea from the Happier podcast: a daily mantra. It’s sorta similar to the one-word theme for the year, but this one is for each day. I like this too, it makes me focus on what I want to achieve during the day, and it’s a very quick way to remember what I want out of the day.

So today I chose “finish”: I wanted to finish doing some stuff around the house; finish my Chinese homework and also finish the training modules for my trading. Ambitious, yes, but a very appropriate word, don’t you think?! And no, I didn’t finish everything, but I got through a helluva lot of it! 😊 Now I have to come up with a mantra for tomorrow / the weekend. I don’t think I’ll choose the same word, it just doesn’t sit right for our typical weekends… Lemme think about it and I’ll let you know tomorrow what I choose 🤔

The weather in Singapore this week has been ridiculously COLD. It’s Singapore. It is not known for its cool weather. So when the temperature hovers all day – ALL DAY – in the low 20s, then you know we’re in bizarro world. A cold snap in winter. Seriously. This has to be the coldest January we’ve experienced since moving here. Heck, I’m wearing jeans and a cardigan! Highly unusual, as my default attire is shorts and a t-shirt. My wardrobe has not been designed for this freezation weather 😂

It’s even made the news, that’s how crazy this is 😂


It all feels very slow going…

It was one of those days where progress on everything just seemed really really slow… But nonetheless, I am sticking with my consistency theme as best I can. I’ve fallen off the wagon a few times already, but I am getting right back on the next day. I’m still not at the consistency level that I want to be operating at, but I’m working my way there.

Laptop Update

I got a text from Asus today saying that the spare part that they need to fix my USB ports is scheduled to arrive on the 17th of Jan.  17th!! That’s a whole week away! OMG, I was hoping to have my laptop by the middle of this week, so I can get some work done on my trading.  I guess I’ll just have to do as much as I can on my iPad in the meantime.  But it’s just not the same…. Wahhhh!! 😩

(Lack of) Progress with my Chinese

I had yet another failed Chinese conversation today 😔 My focus this year is on listening and speaking, as clearly they are in need of some major effort 😂

I’m standing at the self-service stamp machine at the post office:

Man: 什么什么可以买邮票吗?

<< I actually heard “can buy stamps”!! Omg! 😆 So I assume he asked if you could buy stamps from the machine >>

K: hai

<< Japanese comes to mind omg 😳) >>

Man: 什么什么什么 cash 吗?

<< All I heard was “cash” hahaha and I knew that machine only accepts NETS (EFTPOS type thing in Oz) >>

K: NETS <<points at NETS symbol>> 这个

Man: 你知道什么什么什么?

<< All I heard was “do you know” something something >>

K: 我不知道

<< My “I don’t know” response wasn’t to his question, but more that I had no idea what he just asked me! >>

Arghhh! So the slow and painful process of improving my listening and speaking continues…

Chinese class and merry-go-rounds

We had our first Chinese lesson for the year this morning. We basically just reviewed all the chapters that we’d done in our current textbook, with the teacher saying a number of sentences in Chinese and we had to translate. N, the freak, could understand virtually everything, while the rest of us were like “sorry, can you say that again? And again? One more time?” hahaha Sooo unfair!! But when it came to reading, he felt exactly how we were feeling during the listening exercise mwahahaha “What’s that character? I don’t know that. And what’s that?” Ah that class can be quite fun 😊

We then did some dance classes in the afternoon, before meeting up with a friend from Sydney who’s here visiting. She caught us up on how our mutual friends are doing. As per my “About” page, compared to them, I really do feel like I’m on the merry-go-round of life! No roller coaster here! After that catch-up, I am now even more grateful for what I do have (and what problems I don’t have!), even if it can sometimes feel like a pretty boring ride 😂

A Quiet Start to the New Year

Happy New Year!! 🎉🎉

We had a pretty quiet start to the year: N bought some groceries (yes, the supermarket is open on New Year’s Day! 👏) and then we watched a bit of tv. I watched a very short Korean drama called Splash Splash Love, which only had two episodes – surely that’s a record?! And he’s busily trying to catch up with Game of Thrones.

I also started planning out how I will get closer to my goals this year. As I’ve mentioned before, consistency was lacking last year, as well as a clear process, so I plan to tackle that head on right from day one. I am yet to whip out my Bullet Journal for 2018, which will help me even more, but I have written down some ideas, at least, so I’ll solidify them once they’re in my BuJo. Such excitement! 😊

I read a text this morning from our Chinese teacher. He wrote 万事如意 (see dictionary screenshot below). I had to look that up (yes, he’d prob be ashamed that I didn’t know what this meant 😆) but I typed it incorrectly in the dictionary and instead wrote 房事如意. Here are the dictionary entries:

What our teacher wrote


What I inadvertently looked up instead 😂

HAHAHAHAHA 🤣🤣 I don’t think that’s what he meant…

So that was an amusing start to the year 😂 Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018! 😁


We got an email from our Chinese (language as well as ethnicity 😂) teacher reminding us about the upcoming term in January. Omg, I have surely forgotten a ton of stuff that we learnt this year. I didn’t bring my textbook with me to Oz, but I have the Quizlet app on my phone, which our school uses to assist its students with learning the language. I will have to jump on that to review all the vocab that we’ve learnt right from the very beginning. Argh!

My more immediate goal with Chinese is to improve my listening. It’s my worst skill out of speaking, reading and writing, and I want it to catch up with the other three. So at the expense of the other three, I’m going to spend more of my Chinese studying time listening. If you’ve ever learnt a foreign language, you know how hard it is, but it’s also very rewarding when you find yourself making progress. Much like dancing or any other sport or skill. The progress is so incremental you don’t see it day by day, but when you look back after a year or whatever significant period of time, you realise just how much you’ve changed (and hopefully improved).

So my one word theme for 2018 is consistency. I want to be consistent with all my goals, not just trading and dancing. I want to make small, incremental progress that I won’t even notice day by day, to the point where it gets boring and tedious. Because when I’m bored, I will know that I’m on the right track and am focussing on the process rather than on the goal. That’s just me and I know that about myself, so it’ll be easier for me to recognise the signs of when I am feeling like taking some time off from working on something and actually resist that urge to take a break and just push on. This tedium of working on something day in day out is the “secret” to achieving a lofty goal. The hours upon hours of doing rumba walks up and down the studio, focussing on different technical aspects each time so that it eventually ends up looking elegant and effortless; the days spent playing and refining a mere 10 seconds of a violin piece so that the sound is just truly amazing to those who listen to the performance; the thousands of shots taken on a basketball court so that when crunch time happens on the game court, your body just takes over coz it’s done that same thing a bajillion times already. They’re all the same. Focus on the foundations, the basics, deliberate – and consistent – practice, and the results will eventually show.

I got the idea of the one word theme for the year from that Happier podcast (episode 26 😊) that I’m making my way through at the moment. It’s a good way to remind myself of what I want to focus on during the year, any time I need a bit of “centering”, once the year gets truly underway. When it’s a few months into the year, I tend to get lost in the daily routine of life, and I forget to stop and look at the bigger picture to see where I am heading and whether I’ve veered off course or not. Not seeing the forest for the trees, so to speak. So I love this one word idea. I think it’s going to keep me much more focussed on my goals. I’m going to write it in huge letters in my Bullet Journal, maybe across a two-page spread, somewhere towards the front pages of the journal. I will have to post a photo of it once I’ve written it in there. It’ll be symbolic of what I want from the year 😁

Osaka week – Wednesday

It took me ages to leave the apartment this morning because it was sooo cold! I didn’t want to leave the comfort of the heater in the room!

It was past 11am by the time I left, and the temperature wasn’t much better at that time. I was intending on wandering around outdoors today, but I wasn’t sure if my constitution could handle the cold!

I picked up from where I left off yesterday, and got to Keitakuen Garden. I had the longest conversation in Japanese that I’ve had so far this trip, with a station attendant, on how to get to Keitakuen. Total full-on focus to the max hahaha She was really nice and didn’t revert to English, and spoke basic Japanese so I could understand her, so it helped me practice. Ah if only everyone was as patient as her!

Keitakuen Garden is tiny, and had a ¥150 entry fee. But it was quite pretty, and very serene. There were probably maybe ten ppl max in the whole place when I was there. The large pond in the middle is the main highlight, and you could walk around it in maybe five minutes. But you can sit down and just soak in the calmness and serenity all day. It’s just a nice place to step away from the hustle and bustle of Osaka.

Keitakuen Garden
I like this shot 😊 
Autumn colours 🍂 
This photo is quite zen and relaxing for me 😌 

After that, I went and had lunch at this small restaurant that seems like the type of place that people would go into and have lunch, before heading back to work. So given this, I wasn’t expecting much from this place. But it surprisingly delivered: the food was really nice! And relatively cheap: my lunch below was around S$10.  Such a good find!

Fish and rice, miso soup and a few other condiments

And then in the afternoon, I decided to head to Osaka Castle and just wander around the gardens there. I’ve just been appreciating the beautiful colours of the season while we’ve been here, and these gardens didn’t disappoint. It wasn’t too crowded by the time I got there, sometime around 3pm – or perhaps I’ve just been living in Asia for long enough now that my benchmark of a place being “crowded” has changed?? 😂

Osaka Castle
This has to be my favourite photo from today
Look at its colour!!

I then headed to this shop called Alice on Wednesday, which has the cutest entrance! The entrance is the door on the right there, and you have to crouch down to enter. Just like Alice in Wonderland! Hahaha so cool 😁

All the items in the store have an Alice in Wonderland theme. It is so cute! They have an online shop, and I’m wondering if they ship overseas… 😊 I bought a new wallet there, finally replacing my current one that I think is over fifteen years old. Hahaha I’m shocking when it comes to shopping!

And I bought these earrings:

The ones on the left are actually a key and a lock, which I thought was really cool and different.

Fun day! Now to plan tomorrow’s itinerary… 😊