Sunday, December 23, 2007

Blessed Christmas!

This marks my 201 postings on my blog, amazing "achievement" since I developed a habit of writing since 2005, coming to 3 years in a few months time. Which means I must have drawn close to 200 illustrations within these few years. A time to look back and a time to look forward, yet not forgetting "Now". I had a little party with some friends recently, asking each what the year 2007 has meant to them. Yet, when it came to my turn to share, I was shocked that I was not at all prepared, was it that I was so busy with all the Christmas shopping? I pondered.

I love giving Christmas presents, I can't give a reason why, but just simply love it, especially for family members, it is not a "have to give " but a "want to give". I was indeed extremely busy, for I only really started shopping for gifts for my huge family in December. I would normally do my shopping even as early as October, November previously. Friends questioned why I needed so much time. So perhaps I would give a little account here. I endeavour to buy something or make something that hopefully will bring forth a little smile in the receiver, something that the person may not buy for herself/himself, but would love to have it, which is what I would always hope and pray to get in most of the Christmas presents I buy or make, though I can't say I got it right all the time. True, I also don't deny that there are times I give for the sake of giving, those politically correct cases, in those cases, then the gift is really gift exchange... I am sad to admit that I, too, has at time fallen into this trap. This year I have decided not to be doing so too much, and therefore, my gift giving has reduced substantially. I also don't like the fact that people has to return my gift because I gave them. I gave without expecting anything in return, though I do share the same attitude that I should return gifts if I receive any. Why can't I just receive freely? Selah.

This may explain a little of our attitude towards the best gift ever given to us, our Saviour, Jesus. I used to feel indebted, unworthy, wanted to repay the gift. Yet, there is no way we can ever repay His limitless goodness towards us, perhaps the best way is to simply receive and make Him really happy by doing so! This is the real reason for this season, our Saviour came to give His life for us more than 2000 years ago.

As for what 2007 meant to me, it is really a year of lots of ups and downs, mentally, emotionally... not easy, in fact pretty tough, lots of learning and much humbling process, I believe I have grown a little, may write about it another time if I feel right about it. Meanwhile, Blessed Christmas and our dearest Shepherd, Jesus, loves you and gave His life for you! People all over the world are celebrating this day, but let us not forget the reason for Christmas! Cheers! Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Magnifying

I heard quite an interesting sermon yesterday that further confirmed what I discovered last week. Recently I had a brush with the police. I discovered a puddle of water (smell like urine) on my mom’s slippers just outside my house. It was not raining that day and my neighbour’s cat was walking along the corridor. It must be the cat again, I concluded. (Though I didn’t see the actual act, but this is not the first time it had occurred.) Being the very vocal me, and someone who would always seek for justice, I went knocking on my neighbour’s door, asking them to come and take a look at it, while at the same time taking photos of the cat loitering outside and the puddle, as evidences. (Pets are to be kept indoor and not outside, according to SPCA, I called up to check last year, asking what I could do to solve this issue.) The neighbour didn’t come to take a look. What surprised me much later was that the police came knocking on my door, and I felt as if I had done something really sinful by vocalizing the urine issue, and “disturbing” my neighbour, who made a report on me. Selah.

I spent almost 2 hours resolving this with the police, and when I sat down before my laptop last week, I complained it to the first available person on msn who tried to chat to me. I got a listening ear from my niece. One thing I did notice was that the more I talked about it, the more frustrated I was. (For the last 1.5 months since I started working, I was really happy and thankful to God that I had not erupted in temper at work, a breakthrough, when a few months back, I was constantly at the brink of erupting almost every single day. This event marks the first such occurrence for a pretty long time.) For half of the next day, I was still sort of sulking over the issue, felt much injustice being done. Over lunch with a colleague, I was pondering if I should complain again about it to another person, just to get some sympathy. (Though right within my heart, I heard a very clear voice saying to me to stop talking about it and let go.) Yet, I still chose to tell my colleague, but much to my disappointment, she said I should just let go. (Because if I would to complain to SPCA, the cat might be put to sleep, which was not what I wanted to do.) Sigh, this time a totally audible voice almost jumping out of my heart, from my colleague’s mouth.

I am not taking this channel to complain about the cat incident or what, but to point out a truth, a very powerful phenomenon I noticed since, that is, when you are angry or frustrated about something, the only way out for us for not pondering on it, is to stop talking about it altogether, this is the way to let go. I realized the frustration increased as I talked about it, verbalized it. This incident brought me a few months back when I felt burn-out. I actually fell into the trap of self-pity when I vocalized my stress to my friends. The more I shared with them how I felt, the more I felt I was stressed out and burn out, and the more I felt I was doing the right thing with my lousy attitude, thinking that I deserve to behave like this. How powerful it is when we vocalized something, it seems magnified several times. This can be used for both good and bad.

If you don’t believe me, try it, talk about something you felt mistreated or angry with, see if you become less angry or actually more frustrated after talking about it. Trust me, one tends to feel worse. People who are hurt tend to repeat their stories, although many a times, they said they had already let go and forgave, yet, the fact that they were narrating their misfortune again and again actually suggest otherwise, that they have not fully let go of it, to set themselves free. The way to let go is to stop talking about it! And vice versa, talk about those things that you want to magnify, for example, our beloved Shepherd, and He surely becomes bigger in your sight! Cheers!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Architecture Reawakening

I had attended one and a half day of architecture forum for the last 2 days. It is interesting to hear from different architects and what they perceive architecture as, some almost as art, a few as business, some almost humanitarian while others experimentation. A few fell into the trap of just showing the end products, while a few concentrated on their thought processes which are far more interesting. One is pessimistic about the future while another shows design as if of science fiction. I did enjoy myself in most of the lectures, except I come to one conclusion, many architects, even myself, tend to lose focus on the main reason for architecture. We spend so much time crafting our crafts, creating a work of art, indulging in the thinking process, in different methodologies, but sometimes we forget the one main agenda, “Man”.

Aren’t buildings created for humans, the most basic agenda? Even if we go to the extreme of designing a zoo or a pet house, nature tells us animals don’t need human made houses, they are more than capable to find their own shelters. Zoos, pet house, whatsoever are created for the enjoyment of “Man”. Therefore, architecture is about man, fulfilling the needs of man, more than just aesthetics, visual, though I don’t undermine the latter, yet these are by-products, in my assessment. Architecture has to revolve around the end-users, the comfort, the ability to improve the quality of human lives, and if possible touches lives, the latter being most idealistic. Whatever methodologies we employed are just means to an end, and as an architect, we should never forget the main agenda – “man”, sacrificing this aspect for aesthetic is purely pathetic and irrational. Yet when we satisfy the needs of the man, not the ego part, the likelihood of accidentally creating a piece of art that touches lives is extremely high.

I was much inspired by the presentation of the roof house in Japan. A small simple single dwelling unit, centralize around the daily living routine of a family who loves to have meals on their roof, and this thereby creating a piece of architecture that is very genuine and sincere in my recognition. To be honest, I have seen this piece of architecture before in magazine, but it never touches me until I heard the architects presenting it, seeing how the spaces are used, the engagement of the end-users with the building is what attracted me the most. Now I see this single dwelling as beautiful, a beauty that is inherent rather than visual, this is architecture with a heartbeat. I saw the same concept applied to a kindergarten by the same architects, interesting how the children love the premise, how spontaneous the children play in such an environment. I can’t say both buildings are beautiful as beautiful per se, but they sure touch me deeply, a beauty that is unseen.

Those slides I saw at the lecture that stay on my mind till now are those with people interacting with the architecture. We architects love to take photographs without human beings in them, I am guilty of this too. Yet, isn’t architecture about human beings? I repent. Architecture is more than just an artform, it is a tool of improving human lives.

Hope I didn’t bore you all with this, just a thought, to remind myself a simple truth. Just as I begin to discover in my simple Christian walk, in my many side tracks, I finally realized everything is still centralized on my dear Jesus, after running one huge circle. I would say the same for architecture, it is not just about context, methodologies, aesthetics, detailings, programme, etc, though these are important, but it is more on the “human” aspect. And as we take care of this aspect, the others are just means to an end. You can choose to differ from my thoughts, this is my blog and I have a right to say what I felt is right. Selah. My architecture reawakening.


(The above illustration is titled "Standing on His Finished Work".)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Success & Burnout

It’s been quite sometime… I went through a small ordeal the last week, was it food poisoning or stomach flu, I am not sure, and I don’t care to find out more. Just knew that my body temperature went up and down and my digestive system seemed to be working at a very strange pace, I could not sleep at night, and yet too tired in the day. It was quite a bad experience, thank God for healing and that it was over. Life is slowly getting back to normal.

I was trying to finish a book and finally it was finished, not that I enjoyed it greatly, but there are surely some interesting things to learn from it. There are 2 portions where the author was talking about “success” and “burn-out”, the later was something I am interested in, since I had had a taste of it 8 months back. He said one of the things that intensifies burnout is a lack of willingness. And this willingness depends on resting, allowing our soul and our spirit to be refreshed and replenished, before we can give our all.

How true! Memory of those burnout days swept before me, I felt depressed, overworked, not restful, and most of all, unwilling to do the things I was doing, and that marked the beginning of entering that terrible few months. Now that I am at a state of being able to look back and laugh, I can understand the issues clearer, perhaps the steps to be taken to avoid falling into the same state also become clearer. Before we embark on any undertaking, surely we need a willingness to do it.

Next is about “Success”. What does each of us deem success as? Perhaps, as a student, you see it as having good results. As a working adult, when you receive your promotion and a pay rise, or being appreciated. As a parent, your children listen and obey you, and that you bring back more than enough bread for them. As a businessman, you clinched the best deal in town. Yet all the above seem so temporal and shortlived. Therefore we continue in our pursuit of what we deem success day in, day out, and we work harder and harder, rarely do we say enough is enough. We fall into the trap of getting the world’s ideas of success: fame and fortune, power and pleasure.

That perhaps was what I was pursuing unconsciously, unknowingly, slowly I was falling into the world’s system, thinking the more I achieve, the happier I would become. Selah. The book was good in this aspect, the author brought the focus back, if we are to analyse carefully, what we really want in life is contentment, fulfillment and satisfaction. This is real success.

Just sharing some thoughts, today’s writing sure sounds serious. Anyway, make a guess of the illustration above. Have a blessed, full of peace, week ahead!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Day At A Time

Yeah, it is a public holiday today! Didn't quite understand its significance for the last 6 months when I was resting as there was no difference then, until I started working again. Working life is like heaven since, and I pray it will always be, and I realise running project that is on construction actually isn't that bad, it is quite fun for the past few weeks, seeing what I designed slowly materialising, though there are many areas still need improvements, yet in the process, I learnt what to design and what not. Running a site project is more focused, doing one thing at a time, though I still love designing. Anyway, I am doing this supposedly for these few weeks only, but perhaps, I should consider doing this scope of architecture for a change, life seems less hectic and more focused. Selah. (Though I still love poring, searching and thinking over a design concept, it is like uncovering a mystery, and when you find it, there is a joy unspeakable. And I still love drawing, and drawing and drawing plans, imagining spaces, visualising how it looks like in my mind.) Yet, my Shepherd knows what is best for me, live and enjoy a day at a time.

Didn't have much to write for now, learning to talk less, hear more, just felt that I should upload the illustration, so here is the "Dancing on the keyboard" cartoon for this week. It was completed quite a while back, somehow it has a very "Christmasy" feel to it. Praise the Lord, Christmas is just round the corner, and I am really excited about it! Time for Christmas shopping again!

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Right Place Right Time

Today a most appropriate incident to describe as "at the right place at the right time" happened to me, I was almost "in tears" when it happened, which I would want to record it down for future reference. Today, as per normal (for the past 2 weeks), I knocked off on the dot, and headed to take a train home. There was a faulty line from City Hall station to Marina Bay station, and the north bound train platform was swarming with people, I had a huge shock when I saw the crowd. Wanted very much to get a seat and read in the train, I would sometime take the train that is Marina Bay bound (south bound and then loop back to north bound), which would take me an extra 10 to 15 minutes to reach home, but it does not really matter as compared to having a seat to rest.

Realizing my hope was dashed when the announcement said that the next train going to Marina Bay station will take an hour to resume service, and right before my eyes, the north bound train platform was of an unsual huge crowd, I decided to take the west bound train to Raffles Place, hopefully I could at least get up the north bound train, at an earlier station before City Hall. Upon reaching there, the crowd was almost as large as the City Hall's crowd, standing right outside the gates waiting for the north bound train, and I have almost no chance to go any where near the gates, therefore I ended up standing near opposite (the east bound) gates instead. Just as my heart was about to feel disheartened, the most miraculous thing happened. An announcement pronouncing that the train at the east bound gate (the door was widely open, and the train totally empty) was leaving for Jurong East via Woodlands (going north bound). I could hardly believe what I heard. This had never happened to me in my many years of train taking experiences before! I got in, grabbed a seat, and got my little dream answered right at that moment. I felt I was literally being at the right place at the right time! People standing at the "rightful" gates came rushing in, but only manage to get standing spaces. Not to mention people at City Hall can hardly get into the train.

At that instance, seated at my miraculous seat, I felt loved, privileged. The beautiful confession came right into my heart at that very moment, "indeed I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus". I was almost touched to tears at that very instance, thank You Daddy God. Right place right time.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Lala Land

I am still in a state of living in Lala Land for the past week, working seems so surreal, working life for me seems to have a180-degree turn from the past too, may it continue to be so... but I cannot further elaborate.

I met a few very interesting people for the last few weeks and cause me thinking. The first was my hair stylist, he finally started out on his own with his wife in a neighbourhood salon. Small and not as posh as where he is working, but there is a sparkle in his eyes when he talks about it, when he is working in it, it is like a dream that he cherished for years has finally come to past, and his joy rubs off on me. I am really happy for him. Though he worked 7 days a week with no rest, yet he said he loves it and is going to at least gives his dream a try while he is still young, I admire his courage.

The next is a gardener I met when I went to site. He was alone watering the roof top garden when I went to take a look. And he told me before I came, he was alone with God, taking care of God's creation, I see a joy in his eyes, insignificant perhaps to many people of the task he is doing, yet he takes pride in it and is happy.

The third person I met a few days ago was an old university schoolmate, I visited his office, where he started out on his own, a one-man office, working 7 days a week, sleeping perhaps 5 hours a day. I asked him if he is tired and why work so hard? Yet, he displayed no tiredness or frustration, but the same sparkle in the eyes appears. He went on to show us his work, his handmade little models, his funny little stories with his clients, again his joy rubs off on me and I am really happy for him.
I saw on TV the making of Rainie's latest album a few days ago. I am not a fan of hers, but I can see the hard work, the long hours put in, but yet they enjoyed it tremendously and the pride they had working on it. I also have a friend who once told me she cannot imagine doing any other thing except what she is doing now and she is very thankful that she is able to do what she likes, despite of little sleep and even rushing over weekends.
So I pondered. Was it our attitude towards what we do that causes us to be joyful, I think I should be quite close to the answer. Perhaps this could be the answer to my frustration in the past, I might not have understood how to enjoy the moment in the past, my everyday endeavour then was always to finish my task, thinking then I would be happy once I finished it, postponing my joy to the future rather than enjoying the moment. I still cannot totally understand why there are people who can be so happy in what they are doing despite working so hard, with such long hours, but I am beginning to see a bit of light. My Shepherd works really long hours too, as He would retreat to the mountain late at night to pray after He sent His disciples and the people off. (Though I still do not like working long hours, haha.) Only my Shepherd can change my attitude towards life, to learn to enjoy the process, enjoy life, enjoy the tasks the Lord has given (with no long hours).
Hope you like the above illustration, this was inspired by the Taiwanese drama "Corner With Love", copied a little of it. Cheers, yes to another lazy week ahead!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Interestingly

I was awakened by my alarm clock at 7am, and in that twilight zone between consciousness and unconsciousness, I thought it was weekday, time to awake to go to work, before it finally dawned on me it is a Saturday, after I tried recalling what was yesterday. I suddenly realised how ingrained my habit of not being mindful of time must have been as there was no more difference to me between weekdays and weekends for the past 6 months, except perhaps Sunday when I tried to wake up slightly earlier to get ready for Church. Amazing! I was still in unbelief this morning!

Thanks to all the friends and dear family that smsed me or left me emails and messages of encouragement, with prayers for my new day at work. One dear friend even took upon herself to be my alarm clock, sending me a morning call at 7am, thanks dear, so touched! Those are great reminders that I am deeply loved, not just by my Daddy God but family and friends, thanks to you all, you know who you are, and you all are expressions of my Shepherd's love for me. Cheers.

It is good to start work on a Thursday, because before I knew it, here comes Saturday, and I love weekends! It was quite a strange experience for the past 2 days, boss was not around, almost hardly anyone knew I was supposed to be back to work except my team mates (happy to be of low profile, yet a bit "sad" cos the equipments necessary for work was not even in place, but then it also means I don't need to really start working yet, haha, silent laughter). The funniest or almost deja vu thing is, I went back to the exact seat I was seated previously, I could hardly believe it myself till now, even though my boss did briefly mention that to me. It only registered in my mind the moment I sat down, and all those flashes of the past flooded me right before my eyes. (Somehow this blog today sounds very poetic.) Past projects that I left off undone slowly come back visibly before me... Selah... (This pause is extremely important, cos it means time to have a deep conversation with God... ) Fleeting thoughts of those "scary" last few months seemed to reenact right before me. Selah.

Just then, another dear boss whom I also worked with came and welcome me, it was a mixed feeling... on the one hand, I was quite touched, yet on the other, I was at a great dilemma, I was and am still hoping that I can make a clean break with some of those projects I used to do... Yet his kindness towards me may cause me to again of not knowing how to say no... Selah. I need God's wisdom and grace for this. Interestingly, my first 2 days at work seem quite a good start, I knocked off almost exactly on the dot, no need OT, but lots of reading to do... God is faithful.

Despite of it all, and all that I mentioned above, strange to say, I was and am so very at peace, even now as I write, this past 6-month of rest did have a great effect on me afterall. In the past, I might have been deeply troubled, or flared up silently within (oxy-moron scenario). Yet, strange to me now, I was pretty happy, joyful and still laughing at what was going on around me, still in a state of Lala Land. Selah. Thank You Daddy God, for somehow somewhat I knew He is still in control and things will turn around. I have learnt a little since, my provision does not come from the job I hold but from my Daddy God who loves me with an everlasting love, for I neither lack nor hunger for the past 6 months, moreover, I even went for holidays, did quite a bit of shopping (but at a more self-controlled manner), still have good meals, movies etc. Amazing.

As predicted, some still asked me why did I return? I thought perhaps I should settle this once and for all here, I return not because there are no new open doors, my Daddy God has never failed me, I was spoilt for choices. I return cos I just felt like returning in my heart, there is no reason other than that. I am not one who weighs pros and cons, I don't know how to make decision by pros and cons... I made decision in life with how I feel with my heart most of the time, and when moments friends see me indecisive, is because my heart is also unsure and no clear direction is visible, that is why. No reason, just follow my heart, and even if at the end of it all, I may have seemed to make a wrong move, I am still not afraid, He is always with me! Cheers.

Hope you like the above answer to last week illustration, the beloved lamb asleep in His presence, knowing all is well. I like the above illustration more than the one below.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The End Of My Long Vacation

Tomorrow marks the last day of my long vacation. (I have actually extended it for a few more days.) For the last few days, perhaps unconsciously, I was trying to squeeze in as many activities as I can, especially those that I wanted to do before I enter into a normal working life again, and trying to move towards a "nap-less" daily routine slowly. It is not easy though.

I had a few very relaxed days with a friend at a resort, to the extend of almost doing nothing. I had finally today fulfilled my promise to my nephew of a visit to the History Museum. (I am really tired, looking after 2 boys isn't that easy actually...) I am still reading those books I had bought recently, I doubt I can finish them all by tomorrow (a few of them are really good though, can't bear to finish them so fast). Still have a painting I wanted to paint but has yet started... Our Seven By Five website to update but yet to find time... Hoping to bring my mom for a holiday but yet able to get her to agree to go... Many dvds that I bought but yet to watch them... Still, it is time to work, for what I initially wanted to have was a 2-month break but now it has extended to a 6-month long break instead.

I can foresee that it is going to take me quite a while before I can get used to working again, after all, it has been 6 months since I last worked. Perhaps the most challenging part would be to wake up at 7am daily, to have dinner later in the night, to change my routine lunch porridge diet back to rice or noodle, to concentrate in doing one thing for a long period without any nap in between, etc. Next perhaps will be those "does not matter" people who will "bombard" me with endless questions of why I am returning to work, and what I have been doing for the past 6 months... Perhaps I should also come up with a perfect answer now to meet the demand... (just a joke, I pray this will not have to happen.) In fact, this was not in my consideration when I made my decision to return, yet now it has slowly come back to "haunt" me. Anyway, my Shepherd will answer them all. But still, dear friend (you know who you are), why do the firm you join need no OT? That is so unlike architectural firm! Come on, there must be something they are doing right, do let me know, I want to learn and implement... Miracles do happen and will also happen in my case. Selah.

Not sure what to write, cos having quite a mixed feeling now, wanted to rest more yet on the other hand, I do feel a little excited to start working again, and at a slower pace as agreed, praise the Lord!

Guess what the above silhouette is about? Will reveal the truth next week! My Daddy God is so good and my Shepherd, He never leaves me! Cheers!

Monday, October 08, 2007

My Loving Mom

The above illustration is the answer to last week's silhouette. I still prefer the effect of the silhouette, so calm and yet contrasting. I am dreaming of compiling this series of silhouettes and put them one page after another in a book, it sure will be fun... just a thought, just another dream for the future.

I am going for a short retreat with my friend this week, the above illustration has really come to pass, amazing... (Think it will happen, so long as I go and pay up tomorrow, everything will be confirmed...) This would be the first time I am going holiday with my long time friend... We are sure going to have a good time... talking... walking around... reading... fellowship... Praise the Lord! It is good to end this 6-month long break with a retreat... (perhaps 7-month long would be better?)

How strange I started off this week with "Monday Blues" despite of the fact that I have yet started work. My mind is again working extra hard... worrying... I am again procrastinating, perhaps I should rest and play for another 2 weeks? (Even to the extent of pushing it till next year...) I am just a step away from asking for permission to do that when I voiced my idea to my mom this morning, and for the first time, she actually said the longer I rest, the lazier I would become... Despite the fact that she is always very supportive of me... I guess she cannot stand it anymore, thinking that I have rested enough? Sigh... She is going to miss cooking and having lunch with me for sure... very soon...

For the last 6 months, I am really thankful to Daddy God that I have finally spent some quality time with my mom, we have breakfast, lunch and dinner almost everyday of my long vacation (actually about 75% of the time). I know her daily routine so well now. I know when she will be back from market, what time she will prepare lunch and dinner, what is her favourite afternoon TV programmes, what time she goes to church every Wednesday. I see her thriftiness on herself, but spoiling me with wonderful breakfast, delicious home cooked lunch, and prepared-with-love salad dinner. I see her always concerned about the wet clothes not able to dry if there is a weather change, what she has been reading in the bible recently, what she would use to carry the grocery from the supermarket, her red trolley... etc etc...

A Mother's love, is always amazing, and is expressed through the little actions and thoughts... always selfless, and all for the children... Our Daddy God's love's the same...actually much more!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sleep

I am ending my 6 months long vacation in 2 weeks’ time, how fast time flies! I can’t remember the last time I had such a long rest since I started going to school. I had not even dare to dream of taking a 3 months break before, not to mention half a year, and yet, unknowingly, I have done so, and enjoyed it greatly.

There were occasional fear, housing loan, bills, my love for shopping, etc that will crept in suddenly and caught me worrying in the past few months. Yet all this while, I lack nothing. Occasional voices of self-condemned will arise, asking myself what I am doing, drawing, resting, reading, holidaying, sleeping… every such activity in itself is without fault, but when one is not strong, one may fall into condemnation, seeing oneself as not being responsible, and short of an answer to give those who asked me what I am doing. Yet, thanks to Daddy God, this did not happen very often, for this much needed rest is so so GOOD! Even now I am already procrastinating on the date I set to start work!

I did things I did not have time in the past for and enjoyed myself so much, yet if one is to ask me what I have accomplished, I have nothing to boast, as I can’t really put a clear list up, though one thing I know, I finally saw my priority in life, it takes me so long to discover, and only discovered it recently, at the end of this long vacation… I thought I knew it along, but little did I know, I only know it in the head and not in my heart. I relished and cherished every waking moments these days, nothing matters more than the one thing, enjoy my Shepherd. I have 2 weeks left, and I have already laid out plans on how to use them… perhaps the BESTEST thing I ever did this 6 months, read, read, read! I had so much fun the last 2 weeks doing just that!

Today, I read a wonderful article by Yeomans, “He Giveth His beloved Sleep”. When I was working, I hardly find time to catch naps in the afternoon, not even during weekend, as I considered it very wasteful to be spent on such “inactivity” activity. There were also times I felt terrible about napping during a precious weekend, in short, I am a person who does not know how to rest. During these 6 months, I napped quite a bit in between activities, yet there are still occasional moments I felt bad for “wasting” time like this. However, one thing I know, I hardly have problem sleeping, except a few months back when I was worried about my work. Indeed, I am very blessed always with good sleep.

Why did I mention that article then? It cast a ray of light suddenly on me today, not that I never read and study this verse before “He giveth His beloved sleep”, just that I never saw it in this light before. His sleep is a gift to one who is His beloved, and the fact that one can sleep is a sign that that person is His beloved, the one whom He loved dearly. I just woke up from a quick nap after a morning of reading, and I continued with my reading with this beautiful chapter by Yeomans, and suddenly, I am caught by the fact that I must be so loved, cos I can sleep so easily and I had just received a gift of sleep a while ago… got my drift? (Of course, everything need a balance, I do not mean you sleep all day and do nothing, as Solomon said, a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands …so shall your poverty…)

Anyway, He giveth His beloved sleep! I pray that everyday as you awake from your sweet sleep in the morning, know that you have just received a gift from your Shepherd, and with this gift, He is telling you that you are His beloved, cheers!


(PS. I love the contrast in the silhouette, I love the beautiful sunset, I like this illustration, hope you too!)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Silhouette of the Peak

I delayed a little for this posting, as last week was a great time spent in "resting", a much needed indulgence for these 2-3 weeks before working again. The above sketch was done quite some time ago, but I have yet found time to sit down and coloured it, so here it is finally. A dream concept that I have been thinking on and off for the past few weeks, since I did the illustration for 2nd Sept. This concept of "Silhouette" came as a result of my "struggle" when I did that illustration, as in my heart I wanted to add in the Shepherd, however, at the same time, I wanted it to be subtle. As I was "meditating" on the execution of it, it suddenly dawn on me, this is it, "Silhouette"! These coming weeks will show me working on this concept, hope you enjoy it. Only for this week, I will post both the "perceived" and the "truth" together.

In life, many of us only "see" what we can see or know through our 5 senses, our "Sense Knowledge". Yet, many a times what actually has happened may not be perceivable with our senses. As a result, many become dishearted, as what is perceived seems to be more real than what is the truth. This is what I wanted to convey with this series of illustrations, the subtlety of this in life, and how many of us gave up halfway through the journey when we can only see the "perceived". Despite of it all, whatever the situation we may be in, we can have complete confidence in His Word that changes not, for the Word that speaks of the love our Shepherd expressed through His sacrifice, as nothing is as sure as His Word. Cheers!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Swaying No More

I have been pretty busy since I came back from my holiday despite of the fact that I am not working, that explains the slight delay in the posting, though I have done quite a few sketches, but I have yet find time to add colours to them. So what have I been doing?

Studying with my nephew for his PSLE, and realised my English is terrible. Coaching another nephew in Maths and I became so mad with him I gave up. Selah. Patience, patience, and that the Lord will show him my heart, and give him the vision of what he can actually become, not just a living creature, but a wonderfully made gifted human being! Selah, only God can.

I have finally finished compiling my comics and printed the final draft, perhaps just a brief mention of it here. For the past few months, I finally sat down to compile all those sheep illustrations I did for the last few years, not all are used, but a great majority of them. Perhaps to many of you who read this or drop by this site know, sheep seems to be a dear topic to me in all my illustrations, indeed it is, perhaps unknown to most of my friends, but it actually has become so much of my imagination, I see sheep when I imagine, so often, and the idea of the Shepherd and the sheep, and sheep with other sheep means a great deal to me, though some of you may be bored by the same old theme and style. But if Mickey Mouse can go on for decades, I don't see why I should change the character, after all, Psalm 23 is one of my favourite.

All throughout the last few months, the above illustration explains what took place at times. There are moments I would be asking myself what I was doing, sitting in front of my laptop day after day, touching up my comics, adding text to it, compiling them into a booklet. Times I would be asking, am I sure this is going to succeed? Who would be interested in buying such thing anyway? I would start wondering if I was "crazy" to venture into this, spending months working on this, losing on precious stable income. I would start to compare my product with others, and ponder, mine does not look as outstanding, and as skillfully drawn and coloured as others. Yet every single piece tells a story, a moment in my life that I went through, it is a pictorial diary to me.
Then there will be occasional heart-warming friends who would drop by with a note saying that they loved the sheep series, or enjoyed them and gave me a little strength to continue doing. There were also times that my Shepherd seemed to assure me to just do what I want to do, move on with the dream, do not need to worry about daily living for a while, and indeed he has provided for me faithfully. Now, I can finally say I have concluded the job I set out to do, and I am going to take the next step, favour and grace, to send it out! Come on, at least I tried, at least I am one step closer to a dream, at least it is closer to reality than just continuing to remain a dream in my heart. I am excited and glad and fulfilled. Keep me in prayer! It is an exciting journey. Indeed my Shepherd will take care of it, for He who has begun a good work in my life will surely complete it, man! Cheers!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A Trip To Learn

I am back! Despite the fact that I had my laptop with me, I did not manage to find time to blog, perhaps I was too tired, plus I did not have internet access all the time. The weather was hot, I am so dark now that I intend to stay indoor as much as I can to regain some degree of "fairness" to my skin. It was a trip to think through some things, but strange how it turns out, though I enjoyed it tremendously. I would attempt to summarise it into 2 aspects, almost like "enlightenment" to me.

On the more spiritual aspect, we went to perhaps the largest church in the world, of about 1 million members, do correct me if I am wrong. Till now, I am still very amazed at what I saw, how God can use a man, who obeys Him, and work through him, bringing to fruition what seems impossibilities to me. This church has its own newspapers that report good news (4th most widely read papers in the country), an university, its own prayer mountain that looks a bit like a resort, a training centre that imparts skills to youths, and at the same time provide accommodation to elderly people who also act as guardians for these youths, all for free. I am simply amazed, all those idealogies I have heard, or even dreamt about while doing my architectural thesis, etc, have actually been realised in real life! We indeed have a mighty Daddy God, it is just whether we dare to take Him for His word without doubting and depend on Him and just do it! Till now, I am still very amazed. Daddy God can use a yielded person to perform such unfathomable deeds, amazing, all glory to Him!
We spent 2 days on the prayer mountain, with me having the intention to sort out some thoughts. Simple as it sounds, the answer was so simple, to see Jesus in every situation, just that, spending time with Him. The problem does not seem to have disappeared in real life, but somehow, everything looks so insignificant after that, cos knowing Someone who loves me so much to give His all for me, what are all these little things. I am still amazed at it, my worries all of a sudden seem to disappear, I seem to be able to "let not my heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid", and caught a little light of how this is possible, surely if Jesus said so, it must be possible. This is only possible by seeing Jesus.
On the intellectual aspect, I had a good time looking at the art scene in Seoul and am most impressed by the Art Valley at Heyri. I enjoyed looking at the exciting architecture, definitely must go back again to finish it, guess we only managed to finish about one third of it. I loved the short simple walk along Cheong Gye Cheon Stream, it is a beautiful touch to the masterplanning of Seoul, providing a place of refuge, reminiscent of the effect of Central Park in New York. Looking at the museums and interesting buildings, I felt a sudden "reborn and zeal" for architecture again, something that I may have lost along the way during the past few years. There were times while looking at some of those buildings, I wish I can do something like that.
Many thoughts, many, too much to be written down in this journal. One that I remembered, was about a month or two ago, I was looking at a Japanese drama, when I caught a scene of a modern wind mill, and i was wondering to myself perhaps someday I will get to see one in real life, and who would know I really get to see one just 2 months down the road. My Daddy God hears my every whisper. Too many things to write... I had a good time, time spent in looking at Him, time spent in arousing a passion, time spent learning to be humble and learn from others, their art and architecture, so much I received, all thanks to Daddy God, so much!
P/S The above illustration is what the 3 of us encountered in Jeju-do when we try to climb up to Sunrise Peak. It was pretty tough, but I enjoyed it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Long Vacation

Today's journal is named after a Japanese series "Long Vacation" I watched a few years ago, my friend's favourite drama, about a pianist (a prodigy) who took a while to stand up on his feet to play the piano again. Not that I am a prodigy, I am far from it, just felt like I am in the midst of a long vacation though, which was what I was dreaming of doing last year while working, it was a dream then, not even sure if I am bold enough to really go for several months without pay. Then, I was just entertaining thoughts of perhaps a break from work for 2 months, but now it seems it will be for 5-6 months, living off my savings and occasional pays that seem to fall from heaven when I needed them, my Daddy God is ever so faithful.

I am going for my holiday today! (Another holiday in my long holiday?) Flying off tonight alone, yet once again… Thank God, that I am meeting my friends there, who had left for the destination 2 days ago. Just pray that I will find my way to the hotel in the wee hours of the early morning tomorrow, need great wisdom for language is truly a big problem. It was not a planned holiday, I decided to join my friends about 2 weeks ago, almost at the very last minute, and not even sure if I could get an air ticket then, this perhaps is an unconscious effort of my mind to put off working for yet a few more weeks? I ponder.

Not exactly knowing the itinerary of the trip, I just wanted to get away for a short while, or at least play a little more, before life is back to routine, sleep-eat-work …sleep-eat-work… I must have made life sounded a bit pathetic, of course life is more than just these, I am just exaggerating. Even if it is a routine, so long as one is happy and fulfilled, that matters.

As for the task I set out to do during these few months of “not working” (for someone else), is still not completed, will complete it once I am back, need grace, great great favour for this, a step closer to my dream… My childhood dream, a lady now already in her adulthood, is still dreaming of what she dreamt to do when she was a kid… Selah. Crazy as it sounded, I was even entertaining the thought of going for further studies, but this is just a fleeting thought.

As the day of routine draws nearer, irrational as it sounds, those quite “stressful” working days seem to come back to me for the past few days, this is truly battle in the mind. How true it is, that one can be in a state of physical rest and the mind is perpetually working. This is called “worry”, a hateful word. Peace, be still! “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

I will have a safe journey indeed for my Shepherd is with me. I quite like flying alone (but with my Shepherd of course) on the plane, those hours of solitude, where there is nothing much you can do but to read, draw, listen and sleep, cos there is no one who knows me on the plane with me. I will take this holiday to draw a little, shop a little, sightseeing, and learn more from what others have done, may this trip be an eye-opener, a great time of catching up with old friends, and most of all, a time to spend with my Shepherd. See you all back home in 2 weeks' time! Will write and draw from South Korea! Seoul here I come!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Starting Afresh

Starting life afresh! Want to learn to put the past behind. And we all must do that and move on. It’s been a year since, how fast time flies. I believe occasionally the few of us may still condemn ourselves for not being able to help when she was in trouble, for not being able to listen to her struggle and know her cry during that difficult period in her life, for not being able to be with her. A few may still silently shed tears, after all, we are really good friends. However, it has already been a year, I believe it is time to close this chapter and put it aside completely, never again shed any tears on this matter anymore, this applies to my dear friends and myself. Let’s put this aside after this coming Saturday, for this is only temporary separation.

It’s been quite a crazy week. I felt I had enough of deciding which direction to turn for the last few weeks, and I finally decided to make a decision on Sunday, so that I can move on to do other things, rather than going from one interview to another, it is a tiring process on the mind, trying to decide which door to enter, that I chose to sleep and keep pushing the dateline of making any decision. Yet, even after making up my mind on Sunday, to be honest, I am still wondering, am I ‘crazy’ to make the decision I made? It seems a harder path that I have chosen now than to go to new places to me at times…sigh…Lord help me… Anyway, I am choosing escapism again… so this is what I am going to do, run away for a short holiday, and I pray my mind and heart is clearer after that. Selah, and grace upon grace!

Somehow, it seems whichever decision I made I will still feel this way, a bit lost, a bit unsure… I can only rely on my Shepherd to lead me, He will definitely bail me out even if I make a wrong decision this time, and this will be the last try, and yet not a try, but definitely need to learn to rely completely on His grace. I need to learn to trust my Shepherd completely, to turn away from my own self-achievement, to learn not being so serious and harsh with myself, to learn to really say “no” when occasion calls for it, but most of all, to always look to Him for solutions and not to man, not even myself. To be honest, I can't believe that I was actually burnt-out while working, how could I possibly go through this? (The self-righteous lamb speaking here!) I thought I was cool, well-organised, always on time, one who can plan my time so well, and yet I was burnt out still? I was in disbelief and unbelief, how could it happen? This happens when we lose sight of Him. Selah.


My decision has gotten me some scoldings, as most close ones actually advised me otherwise, yet I am still persisting this way, sometimes I do still wonder why… God’s mercy and grace… May You turn all things around for my good, because I am Your beloved child. Today’s blog is from one who sounds a bit “confused” even after making a decision, (thought I will be clearer after that), pardon me… I just need time to let my mind rest and let my heart speaks… no worry. Cheers!

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Falling into His arms

Falling into the arms of our Shepherd is the illustration for today. I caught an image of this on Thursday while at a service. Despite of how we fail, or miss the mark, beneath is always the everlasting arms of our Shepherd to catch us when we fall, such is the assurance and the hope. I again realise the beauty of simplicity, relooking at the beautiful gospel story, I am still unfolding.

These few months I begin to see a bit of light in some areas, how many of my worries I have in life came as a result of being introspective, the latter is a hyper scary attitude towards our mental well-being. It is so easy to fall into this state when we lose our focus on our Shepherd. That is also how worry begins, it starts in the mind, we turn the situation in every which way, figuring the cause and effect, imagining different possible scenarios, we meditate on it, sleep on it, bring it wherever we go, nurse it, water it, give it time to grow, and as it becomes healthier, we become weaker or may even turn "insane". We start to see our inadequacy, our inability to solve it, which is true, but it is all about "I". It is time to just give up and look up, for Help is waiting to help, but Help simply cannot get a hold of the situation while we are still holding tightly to it. This is what I have been struggling, sometimes and some areas seem more intense. Let not my heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. This is so difficult even, God help me!

I am finally going to embark on my 2nd phase of editing of my cartoon collection this coming week, thanks B, for all the help rendered, I really appreciate it with all my heart, knowing how busy you are, having to cope with work, study, attachment, spending times with loved ones, plus lending me a hand to edit my stuff. And thanks to my sister, your mom too! I am excited about this little venture, though i really do not know where this is leading me, but I am glad that I finally put aside other things to find time to do this little dream venture.

And lastly, really appreciate everyone that expresses their support for our website, some post it on their msns, some express via email replies, some actually become our first clients. And most of all, thank You my Shepherd for leading us thus far, You who begins a good work will surely complete it! Thanks! It is none of us, but all of Christ, and Him only!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Cravings

I have some crazy cravings these past couple of weeks, that explains the above illustration. There was a season of craving for durians, then the donuts from Donut Factory, at times sweet potato soup, and bo bo cha cha (coconut made dessert). Perhaps I am really so free these days that I can start feeding my changing appetites? Guess it is also time to go back to work as I still want to remain trim and thin, instead of constantly satisfying my physical "hunger". Selah.

Having finally launched "www.sevenbyfive.sg" it is as if a little dream fulfilled. Though there are a few times since, that I wish if only I knew how to do this, or do that, I would have improved it better... Perhaps a little impetus thought of going for a formal course in web design did cross my mind, though I am quite sure this is not going to change my career path, but just wanting to learn something new, that's all. Yet, I still enjoy the process of "self-discovery", testing out on my own, and the joy of discovery new methods of doing things, even though this is a more tedious process.

Taking a full week to decide the next step, didn't really change anything it seems, and I really have to step out in faith, trusting the Lord to hold unto me as I move forward. This is not easy, starting out afresh, taking a step at a time. For the past 3 months, I have heard perhaps close to 10 persons, coming to me and saying that I look better now, as one who has less stress as compared to a few months back. I didn't know that taking such a rest could have such a great impact on how I look. I did have a good rest, though not really adventurous, as in going holidays, but it is so unlike the past, for a whole 2 months, I do not have to rush anything, meet any datelines, or seek anyone's approval. Perhaps the only pressure I felt was self-imposed, "so when am I ready to start working?" It is like those old Disney's cartoon, with the angel and the devil popped up on the left and right of Donald Duck, I almost wanted to draw this for today. On one occasion, I felt I should work, on another, I think maybe I rest for another week... Sounds familiar?

This is like a little war going on in the mind. Wondering if life will take on a similar hectic schedule like the past, would I still be "stressed-out" or "burnt-out" again? Can I do something different this time round? Would I have the opportunity to design something different? This is what went through my mind, no answer to them and it is all about "I", "me" and "myself" if you noticed. This really sounds faithless, when one starts turning inwards instead of looking at the Shepherd, almost losing sight of the One who holds my future. Stress and fear come along when I lose sight of my Shepherd. May I be reminded again and again of this when I embark on the next step.

Today I have launched another blog "Baa & Meow" at www.baa-meow.blogspot.com. I have mentioned of doing this a few months back. This one will take on a more pictorial form, less word, moving towards more comic strip format, and I have created Little Lamb generation 2 to match the Cat I designed earlier. No funny strip for this week yet, just the introduction, and I need to think through and be inspired a little. Hopefully my neighbour's cat will provoke/inspire me in the following week.

So, keep one another in prayer, not sure what to pray? Just pray in the spirit for me then. Jesus loves you all!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

www.sevenbyfive.sg

Why a blog posting in the middle of the week? Because today we finally, officially launch our website www.sevenbyfive.sg. With its beautiful date 25 July 2007, a number easy to remember with the name of the site. It is my first humble attempt to design and create a website, not exactly very user friendly yet, still improving, but has finally fulfilled one desire of mine to pick up this skill, a desire 4 years ago.

This site is created out of a love for arts and design, and consists of the 5 of us, 2 artists, one producer, who is presently very busy with her job, and 2 architects, one of which is me. So do drop by our website to take a look at our gallery/photography, our little virtual shop, not really meant to make big bucks, but if it happens, all glory to Jesus. The price of things may seem to be on the high side, but we have to cover the material and delivery costs... plus we really handmade the stuff, personalised arts, and not mass produce... therefore this explains why. And by the way, we are not a firm, we merely just want to do some fun stuffs together, that's all.

So today's blog is just to keep a record of the special day and do some publicity on the new website, do drop by when free, we will try to update it regularly with new art works and news! Cheers, may our Shepherd bless our website!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Durian Durian

Not sure why I have been wanting to eat durians these past few weeks, though I didn't really eat a lot, perhaps just ate once. This may explain the above illustration, just for joke, no criticism for the building at all. Hope you catch it. Anyway, more durian illustration to come in the next week.

Life takes on a slow, steady and homely state for me for the past few weeks. There were days when I would stroll to our nearby neighbourhood town centre for a walk with my mom during lunch, and we would detour to the durian stall to see people standing around, smelling, shaking the durians, to choose what they deemed to be good ones. We didn't buy any, but the joy of just looking at this thrilled me a lot. As I beheld them, I saw the simplicity of life, simple pleasure, simple things. I relished in them, strange, for several years, I actually was too busy to indulge myself in such activities, which seemed a waste of time, sounded so sad indeed.
I declined a work opportunity that I applied for, not sure why, just didn't feel it is right, it could be just my own feeling anyway. Am I too choosy? Someone suggested that, perhaps I am. Yet I am still at a crossroad, and I have decided to stand at that junction for a few days more. Thank God, sometimes the most unlikely person says the most heartwarming thing. My sis unknowingly was talking to me about taking this break to decide whether to move in the same direction, or choose a greater challenge or find a easier, more relax working environment for the next step instead of hurrying. This was precisely what I could not decide now. More challenging job? Less taxing working environment? Another direction?

It has been 3 months since, not that I didn't feel the pressure of not working, I do, I felt I should, as a responsible adult, yet at the same time, I am still quite "disillusioned?" Architecture architecture architecture... So I delayed again, or rather, has to start all over again, has to read and see where I would want to apply again. Hopefully I will send out some letters soon, hopefully... pressing the "send" button is not as easy as I thought it to be after all. Cheers... sheer indulgence... My Shepherd is still in charge!

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Siansation"

Wednesday 11 July
Not sure why I felt so sian today (sian = bored, empty)… felt so empty and lost… I went for an interview finally after resting for the past 2 months (or was it 3?), I decided to start afresh, start working again. It was not that the interview did not go well, in fact, it went pretty well. Yet, why do I feel so disillusioned… Selah. Kept asking myself, is this what I really want to do? I am really not sure… Keep me in prayer.

Friday 13 July
It has been a thinking week for me. Felt as if I am standing at a crossroad. Felt exhausted, and therefore I took several naps to stop thinking... “Escapism”. Yet I know, He will surely show me the way. Interesting fact was that, today as I stepped into a particular place for yet another interview, I desire one day I get a chance to design something of that nature rather than working in that environment, in that split second, I seem to see a little bit of what I hope to do… a little light dawns… There is really so much I wish to learn, want to learn, hungry to learn…

Sunday…Monday
The above illustration (part 1) was drawn in my mind last week before an interview. Part 2 was drawn after the interview, though I still didn’t know which way to turn, but I know for sure My Shepherd knows which way. It is really time to start working… Lord, remove the “siansation” from me! And show me the way.

And please do not allow me to be a bad influence by the above blog title, it is still going to be a great and wonderful week ahead for us because our Shepherd is leading us!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

It is a beautiful date today 070707, perfection! Strange and coincidental as it sounded, we arranged to meet up after 7 years of graduating from architecture today for a few old classmates. Meeting up and realised, some have changed line, some are still in the same field, but one thing I am really curious is, do all still share the same passion as before, or have decreased or increased.
I have finally finished the first draft of what I set out to do for the last 2 months, done my first own pictorial editing, now it is in the safe hands of my niece to edit the text. Missy, feel free to be really critical about it, as if you are a reader and not someone who is acquainted with me, k? And tell me the truth, I can take it and improve on it! Guess I at least took a first step towards a dream… took me almost a month to compile… Guess to draw another one will take me another 2 years, I suppose? Will start on that when I finally start working in the real world again, that will be my pastime hobby.

Before getting back to the draft again for 2nd editing, I finally moved on to start doing something else, actually it is learning something new. Trying to master two softwares for the last 4 days simultaneously was really quite a struggle, though it was fun and challenging. I just could not help myself, almost the 2nd thing I did every morning after I woke up is to switch on my laptop and start experimenting, and trying out again and again, to see if there are alternatives to achieving what I wanted to do. Yet not being versed in them, I felt somehow handicapped, and I really need wisdom from above. Grace, grace.

So as one can see, I hardly have time to sleep, as my mind is working on duo processors, I didn’t draw anything for this week, as I have been so occupied with all the learning, not to mention attending seminar to earn points to renew my practicing license for next year. Therefore posted above is a very old painting I did in year 1999, theme “people”. I hope perhaps next week I would finally sit down to draw another comic ( have one funny architecture comic boiling in my head, just no time to draw it out). As for that dear friend of mine who mentioned she prefers my architecture series, hmmm… I am still not going towards that direction, as I still prefer to use art as a mean of expressing a feeling, a heartfelt gratitude, or a tool to encourage someone, rather than a weapon for satire and criticism… And one thing I am sure, I still love architecture… I just hope no one will do the same to my design in future, selah, so I will be merciful here.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

What Am I Up To?

I have often been asked what have I been doing lately since I stopped working. Recently, I have adopted a simplified standard answer and it helps, no further questioning, my answer is “painting/doing art”. (Someone actually thought I meant painting my house?) To strictly say that I am painting is not fully right, though I must clarify I am not lying as well. I have really started painting again after 7 years.

Yet painting is not the complete truth. So now I am attempting to answer this once and for all, and if anyone asked me again, perhaps I shall give them a card with the link to this website, and ask them to read for themselves? (just a joke)

I did some designs initially, architecture per se, followed by graphics, went for a short business/travel trip. Since then, I started painting, editing a short little children’s story of mine, which is still far from good as my English has always been terrible. Hasn’t fully started on its illustrations yet, as I am still waiting for the inspiration, though some research has been done. This expedition seems daunting to me now, and may likely take another one to two years to complete, especially when I start working again.

I have finally started to compile all my little cartoons, hopefully into a booklet. As the days flew, the task seems more and more immense, though the amount of work completed has increased. The very first draft shall be ready soon, I hope, though it is still far from perfect, but to me it is at least a first step towards a little dream. When asked by closer friends, and told them I am compiling a little book, some commented I am really brave to do such a thing. (Perhaps silently they are thinking she must be “crazy”? To quit a stable job was perhaps the first “crazy” thing to some …. Then to do things of such was perhaps totally unheard of…Yet, I just felt when would be a better time to pursue a dream except now especially I can do it on a fulltime basis during these few months before I move on to the next phase? It really takes a lot of childishness (childlike faith?) to do this…. But to be honest, this childishness of mine, to indulge in this hobby, may not last very long since I am after all a very pragmatic person… that is the reason I am rushing to finish it.

Friends who heard that I am doing this also questioned how could I expect the task to be completed in a month? (I am giving myself only a few weeks to do this) Such a task sometimes takes years. I was initially quite taken aback, for it is true, but then who says it can’t be accomplished? The fact is 2 years worth of illustrations have been accumulated, and it was not done over 2 to 4 weeks, it was a journey I have taken for the past few years, now it is a matter of touching up and enhancing the quality.

Recently, I watched a documentary, just a short clip. About a designer who chooses his hobby as his work. The reason given by him that he can persist in this, he believes it is his simplicity and childlikeness that allows it to happen. How many of us dare to put down reasoning for a while, to go forth and do something they really like, it takes the singleminded, simple ones to go forth and do it… Perhaps thinking too much, asking too many “what if” is the deterring factor. Rather than spending time on “what if”, might as well channel the time to just do it first and see! So I hope I have given a good answer. Sigh, but the pragmatic me is catching up soon… time is precious…”what if”? Cheers!


Note: the above is the 1st real painting completed after 7 years. Used it to take part in a competition, didn't win anything, but it is ok, since right from the beginning, this painting was painted for myself anyway. Concept as follows:

Childhood dream etched forever in one’s mind, though it remains an episode of the past, but has subconsciously become one’s pursue for the future, thus forever vibrant and beautiful. “Now” the mundane routine of life becomes dull and depletes of colours. Seeking to repaint the present, start anew and boldly take on the dream of one’s childhood, like caring for a sapling in one’s hand, seeing the growth of the sapling in the realm of imagination, and never failing to take the childhood’s dream as a point of reference when journey of realization seems challenged and difficult.

Three methods of expression were taken, almost as a collage of images in one’s mind, vibrant colours depicts the dream. Grey symbolizes the present: career, finances, endless deadlines and time, which are portrayed by everyday items: set square, calculator, planner, and a watch that “time” finally comes to a stand-still on the canvas. Ink as a medium to explain the journey, from imagination to reality; translating between dream and future, via ink, stroke by stroke. The green sapling symbolizes a new beginning, fresh and new. How many dare to boldly take this step to start afresh- a new beginning?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Almost Ready

An illustration which was delayed for a month cos I was afraid of "kanna sue", as shown above, hope you catch it, perhaps only those in the building industry can appreciate the comic. It is just for laugh, and it is altogether hypothetical.

Another week has passed, I have been counting down since I stopped "working". I felt rested, and ready to set forth, and start afresh at last. And yes, I have finally acted, though it may take quite a bit of time before any further progress, but at least I have taken a step forward, and I am leaving the rest for my Shepherd's further input.

So in the meanwhile, time is really precious, there are still quite a bit of things done halfway through. This break to me has been fruitful, I have finally started on what I set out to do right from the beginning, a childish pursue but I felt it is worth all the while...been working about 8-10hrs a day at home on my own, no one to impress, just wanted to act on a long time dream and the satisfaction is rewarding. The time flies and work doesn't really feel like work, though there is no monetary gain yet. There are times it seems there is no inspiration, and yet there are times rivers flow unceasingly. B, may need your help soon, to check through my stuff, can? Think another 1 week it should be ready... Thanks, remembered you said you can help me?

It's been years since I spend so much time at home with my mom, perhaps the last time was when I was in my university. Unlike most of my peers, I am one who worked pretty well at home alone, for I am someone who didn't like to be compared with or to compare or interested in what others are doing, or having peers looking over my shoulders to see what I was doing or had completed, as I just didnt like to be in a competitive working environment, I enjoyed doing things based on my little target set each day and at my own pace, almost like a scientist in deep research. For I felt most at ease working in this manner, and strange enough, this method of working has never caused me to be the slowest, in fact many a times, I ended being one of the fastest among my peers. And this has been my methodology for the longest time, even when I am working in the real world.

Been pondering. I thank the Lord for this working methodology, listen and look within my heart, for the answers are there already, supplied by the Shepherd. There were a few occasions I adopted others' methodologies, looking to others for inspiration, comparing my speed with my peers, trying to conform, to impress and please people above, and the results have turned out almost disastrous. As I looked back (it is a bad habit to keep looking back), those miserable last few months when I was feeling frustrated was perhaps I was trying so hard to please, to live up to what I thought I was supposed to be? And perhaps I started comparing, looking outward instead of within and looking to others instead of Him for assistance? For that period of time, I forgot I was working as unto the Lord, which was what I was doing before that all along. Let me never forget this again, my Shepherd.

I have learnt a little during this break. May my Shepherd always, constantly remind me that He alone is more than sufficient for me, and He will always supply. Cheers!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

16th June 2007

MY NIECE

Yesterday was my niece’s 21st birthday. In fact, I was planning to post a special illustration yesterday just for her, but there was simply no inspiration and therefore it is postponed until now, when the idea came last night at a concert. Hope you like it, Xiang, you are forever as lovely as a rose, prized highly in the Shepherd’s eyes. In fact, both your sis and I thought of getting you a bouquet of flowers last week when we celebrated together with you…cos of various reasons…. We didn’t get in the end… so here it is, a pretty lasting rose so long as this blog continues…. We as a family love you deeply! Have not been catching up with you much, as you have been so busy with work, though hearing news about you on and off from your sisters and mom, how fast time flies, seen you grow from a baby into a pretty young adult (this does not mean I am old), at times a babysitter for you (I think I did, cos I baby-sit your sisters so many times, I presume I did that for you too)… you have also been an item for my sketches when I was schooling, I looked through my old sketches, there was a portrait of you with your pillow and pacifier, didn’t have the courage to post that, as the sketch needed quite substantial touching up before it is presentable. Our Shepherd has given you wings to fly and excel in your dream, and therefore continue to dream big! You are ever so bold and sure of what you wanted to do in life, may you in the pursue of the dream in your heart, that your revelation of His love for you increases everyday!

MY FRIEND

This illustration is also dedicated to a beloved friend, who is going through a difficult time now. I know my lovely niece will be glad to share this illustration with you too, as this picture came when I was thinking of my niece and you. Friend, quit doubting about yourself, you truly have a talent placed in you from above (write this cos it is true and not mere comforting words, it is so visible to us, perhaps you can't see), you are just in the middle of the journey, and you have not seen the plan of God for your life unfolded fully before you yet, surely He who places the dream in you will provide you with the strength and ability to fulfill that dream as well. I will always be a listening ear whenever you need, but most of all, our Shepherd will never leave you alone. Love you, friend! You will come out of this stronger with the Lord soon. You are a precious beautiful gem to Him, for He deems you worth His entire life!

16th JUNE 2007

A lot on my mind today, as I would normally spend the entire Saturday morning reading the papers, as it was the only free day in the past to catch up with the entire week’s news, and I would read almost anything except sports and money, somehow these 2 don’t excite me that much. Therefore this explains the length of today’s journal, cos so much needed to be penned down.

Read about the slaves in the brick kiln, read about how some people survived with US$2 a day. And then I read about space travel possible soon, costing one about $300 000 per ride into space yesterday. How disparate 2 lifestyles that can co-exist in this world, where on one extreme, people are living in abject poverty, while a few are spending millions on seemingly crazy pursue. Lives seem of no purpose in the first situation, when humans are treated like working robots. It reminded me of a question I did ask myself when I was a kid while watching all those Chinese kungfu drama, how people killed one another, especially in scenes where there was a war going on, how all the soldiers who were dying in the background became seemingly just props for the story, didn’t they too if in real history, had families, where each of them meant a great deal to someone, yet why was it that they became so common and just one in so many here in the small screen? Isn’t everyone in this life remains forever dear, unique to another individual, be it one’s parents, friends and most of all, our Shepherd? (Think too much lah!)

Then I went on to read my favourite sections of the papers, Life! And Saturday. somehow both touches on a hyper sensitive topic to me, architecture, one that can evoke much talk from me, so here it goes. En bloc and iconic buildings were the 2 topics. In the last 6 years working in this field, interesting enough, I have actually touched on situations related to them, just before I left my job. I would say it is a really sad thing to begin with, buildings were thought to be built to last a lifetime? Yet now, building stands for 10 years and it is time to be torn down. (Perhaps that is why I really didn’t want to do condominium design anymore?) Gone were the days of those childish dreams of an architect of building something that last? Architecture has become a style, a fashion statement? I thought buildings were for the betterment of mankind, to create a space to engage, hold a dialogue, evoke feelings, and possibly improve human lives. And the idea of iconic buildings? I have seen the Beijing’s new grand theatre from afar in my last trip, and to be honest, I am not at all impressed. Iconic without a story is an empty shell. Perhaps my ideal sounds childish still, good design should have an engaging story, a deep-thinking process involved, and the beauty came forth as a result, this I saw in the beautiful Temple of Heaven, Tabernacle of Moses, in them nothing redundant, everything oozes with meanings and symbolism. I have never produced a work of such caliber so who am I to be a critic of others? (Only in Him will that be possible in my life.) Paiseh…. Perhaps the Jewish Museum in Berlin would have come close, though I have never been there myself (wish to go one day)… and anyway… the registration is full for the Daniel Libeskind’s talk this coming week, before I even had a chance to register!!! Sob! (I must have been too “bitter” of not getting a place and therefore become such a critic!) Who would offer me a seat to attend? Help, Daddy God!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Painting . Architecture . Cartoon . Change . My Shepherd

Painting is a passion, Architecture is my rice bowl, Cartoon is my dream, but the Lord Shepherd is my All.

Life’s dilemma entails a great deal in decisions. Everyday, we are challenged almost at any instance, to make decisions, some are harmless, some constitute great impact to our future while others create no small impact to others. Be it deciding what to eat for lunch, shall we watch this movie or that, what shall I do next, this project or another, shall I take up this job or not, shall I accept the Lord’s offer of salvation, etc, they are decisions we have to make at one point or another, some may have great consequences.

The 1st real painting since I started my working career, has finally finished yesterday, after a week of fulltime painting (with OT but done willingly), now in the touching up process. Looking back, I only painted twice for myself, once close to the turn of the year 2000, and the other one, now. Those I did in school were mainly to fulfill school’s requirement, and in fact, I was doing more designing than painting in the past since my secondary school days. I realize only recently that I actually quite like still life, and composition of different methodology of presenting an artwork, and I didn’t know I can actually paint quite well…(boasting here), that my Daddy God has actually given me a gift that I hardly use all my life… At least not too late in discovering it now…

Architecture to me is still a love-hate relationship, though through the years, the Lord has helped to dissipate the hate aspect more and more, and love for it has increased at a very fast pace. To be honest, designing is not 2nd nature to me, it seems that I always have to go through a process of deep quietness, a pondering process, even at times struggle, almost to the extend of needing to seek the Lord for breakthrough each time, and perhaps it was precisely because of this, there arised a “dislike” of it, as everything seemed so unsure, yet it makes me ever so dependent upon the Lord, as only through architecture, can I see I am nothing without the Lord. Yet the satisfaction when the idea drops from above, is beyond words.

Drawing cartoon is a dream I had as a child, seeing my brother drew cartoons at the corner of his book and flipping it quickly always amazed me, and Walt Disney (the person) is always an inspiration to me. To produce cartoon be it in the form of a book or even a movie (dreaming still) that captivates the human heart is a dream… For cartoon unlike art found only in museum and gallery, is a layman’s art, that anyone can relate to, and this is what I really love, I call it art for the simple folks, cos I am also simple.

Now in the process of in between jobs. I have difficulty deciding the next step, indeed… I have. To be honest, I am afraid, as I didn’t want to be trapped in the mindless attempt of struggling to keep up with the schedules in work anymore, all seems so vain and crazy, the rush, the datelines, the occasional “rejections”, abortive works, now that I am out of the picture, I can see it objectively. Change, is it possible in this line? Can Architecture be to me a hobby rather than a rice bowl? All things are possible with God.

Amid all these, a decision... only the Lord knows the next step… He leads me beside still waters, He leads me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake… Meanwhile, I am still in indulgence… Selah.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Beginning of Baa & Meow?

Been feeling great recently, and I mean GREAT! For the past few weeks, I have finally started the engine of my train, to start doing what I have been wanting to do during this “sabbatical break”, that is to draw and paint. I am having such great fun in my time of solitude, and I am still in the midst of it! I had almost forgotten what it was like to paint, and even forgot the fact that I can actually paint!!! When was the last time I decently paint a painting, except those small ones I did for this blog, it could be more than 5 years ago? In fact, I am really thankful to God that this blog has spurred me on to draw again, a hobby that I love very much. It has become a tool to express and a tool to encourage, especially myself.

Painting to me has a strange therapeutic effect, it has the ability to relax my mind, and I really enjoy the process, of mixing colours, painting on the canvas, standing back to check proportion and colour, etc. I am thankful to my Shepherd for giving me the ability to draw and paint, and most of all, for using this to teach me to rest, and also it has no agenda attached as I truly have no one to impress this time round except perhaps myself!

The truth is I may have finally rested quite a bit recently, somehow I caught myself with “heightened ability” to notice the unnoticeable and small sudden spur of inspirations here and there, to see things which I don’t normally do. For the past week, being alone, having to visit the neighbourhood to get lunch, dinner and papers, I started noticing my estate, my neighbours, my surrounding, and I felt so blessed. One of them is my neighbour’s cat. (Remember I mentioned about my neighbour’s cat?) You would never know that it has in fact become a source of inspiration to me.

One day as I was going out of my flat to run an errand, I saw my neighbour’s cat, lying lazily along the corridor, looking out through a gap in the parapet wall. It is having a great time of its own, I pondered. At that moment, I was actually jealous of it (fancy the fact that a human being is envious of a cat?), it does not need to worry about the next meal or to find a job to stay alive, and it is so well fed, having all the time in the world to play! I was then reminded that I am in a better position that it, as I am the prized possession of my Shepherd. Selah.

I realized several times my inspiration comes while I am having my shower, and this happened again today. I had an idea of a comic strip which can run for a long period of time coming to me in that instant, “Baa & Meow”, the enmity between the lamb and the cat living within the same estate! Cool! So this is it! I have started on the draft for the cat, searching for the perfect cat image to match my lamb. Please vote, pals, bearing in mind how my lamb always look!

Having so many things I want to do, and in fact I am kept pretty busy almost everyday, drawing, painting, learning new software, reading etc etc, I am also already experiencing haven! This to me is really enjoying life, no need to spend much, yet so fulfilling and feel so enriched everyday. I am excited, having so many things to do and to learn… hope you too have an enriching week ahead! Cheers, pals!

(A friend commented that I look so relaxed recently, the "tense" look has slowly dissipated, all thanks to God for inventing the principle of rest! And also thanks to all my dear friends and loved ones out there, for the past few weeks, I have been reminded by them to think about asking for copyright and even publishing my comic in the physical world and not in virtual world, I will start to look into this seriously. But the Lord has to open the door for me, please pray for great favour for me then in this area, actually I am totally blur as to how to proceed with this, although I say I will start looking at it seriously.)