What a whirlwind the past 1 and a half weeks back in Singapore have been. I suppose all my trips back home from now on will be sort of like that. Busy trying to shove activities in my calendar to do and ending up pretty darn tired after the end of the trip. Trying to figure out how to best make use of my time in order to do things that would otherwise be difficult for me to do back in Berlin. Eating lots of local food and good quality Japanese food. Meet ups with closer friends. Visiting my dearest Ahpo and feeling relieved when she’s still able to read smoothly and talk to me logically. Buying loads of Johan or DonQ bread (my two favourite Japanese bakeries in SG haha!) and trying out my favourite flavours along with their latest seasonal breads (this time I ate quite a lot of their Matcha cream and chestnut buns which were soooo delish) for breakfast in the mornings along with coffee and fruits…in my bed under a small pool of light from my bedside lamp that I remember dragging back from Ikea a couple of years ago. Reminding myself to treasure otherwise boring moments with Hans (my beloved trusty second hand car who’s truly been with me through thick and thin) when stuck in bad traffic, listening to the Chinese radio station 100.3 and feeling like a teenager again…

This time of course, the highlight of the trip was being able to meet my niece, Sophie, on the day of her birth~! After a rather tumultuous start into the world, it’s just an incredible blessing that she didn’t require any extended stay in the hospital and was able to go back home with my sis the next day. And what an incredible journey my sis has just gotten herself started on. (-insert laughing/crying emoticon that’s now become my most used emoticon. Because almost everything in life has an element of tragicomedy to it.) I can only hope for the very best for them. Best of health, best of experiences, best of luck… best of intentions, actions and outcomes.

It feels like whenever I go back home, life’s sort of in limbo. It’s a time for me to live amidst memories and cherished childhood possessions, feeling like a kid again, on a break from ‘real life’/‘adult life’ back in Berlin. But that said, from now on, there’s always going to be the part of me having to live up to expectations and obligations every time I go back home. That’s what being connected is all about isn’t it? With love and connection, comes obligations, expectations and responsibilities, the fulfilment of which is almost like the oiling and maintenance of the ties that bind. It’s something I’m still struggling to get used to. Perhaps what I realised from this trip, is that coming back home for the period when I’m living in Berlin, won’t be so much as a holiday anymore but more of a time to fulfil obligations. It’s not something that I automatically gravitate towards. But perhaps it is something that will be for the best for everyone. While providing a form of appeasement and reassurance to my parents, it might also be for the better for me, by forcing me to keep up with my skills for work. And at the end of the day, any time I spend caring for family, can always be viewed as a luxury and precious time that can’t be replaced.

Perhaps one of the best takeaways from my trip back home this time, was the freedom from everyday activities/concerns that allowed me to really take the time to think about my plans for this year ahead. I was listening to quite a few of Tim Ferriss’ podcasts on Morning Routines and Productivity, pretty apt topics for the new year in my opinion. I’d listened to quite a few of his podcasts before in the past because I had an interest in the people he interviewed (his interviews with Tara Brach, Brene Brown and Maria Popova were among my first and favourites of his) but I’ve never a regular reader of his blog or regular listener of the podcasts per se. This week though, I bought and started reading his latest book Tribe of Mentors, which features life advice from many people considered among the best in their various fields and through that, I started listening to some of his videos where he shares his own advice about life. I was pleasantly surprised to learn how wise and how competent he is as a teacher in explaining his views and techniques in a way that’s incredible accessible.

A couple of concepts that I found to be really interesting on this podcast and that I am pretty determined to try to implement for this year include:

establishing a morning routine because as he says so catchily, with a good morning routine, you can ‘win the morning to win the day’
After listening to this episode in which he has put together excerpts from various interviews on his interviewees morning routines, some important components of the morning routine that appears to be most beneficial include:
exercise (and what made me realise that perhaps it would be better to plan exercise out in the morning rather than evening is because of what Tony Robbins said, that he schedules things that are ‘priority for life’ and not necessarily ‘priority for the day’ to the early part of the morning so that he can get it out of the way and has it won’t be affected by the happenings and moods of the day itself. And the important thing would be preparing the night before in order to make exercising as easy as possible in the morning by taking away as much conscious decision making as possible (through laying out exercise clothes the night before etc)
journaling – both in the form of a quick 5 min Gratitude journal (link) as well as a more relaxed free-flow form of journaling to set intentions and goals for the day.
prioritising goals for the day amongst the 1001 things that might one might feel obliged to do, by asking questions such as:

“If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”

“Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”

There were some days in Berlin when I felt rather listless. I blamed it on the early sunsets which got me immediately sleepy and (antonym for energetic). But perhaps a part of the problem was that I didn’t really have very established routines. Apart from blocking out time for classes, I didn’t have particularly fixed routines for exercise, priority setting for the day, or even housework. ^^;; I used to adore those blocks of uninterrupted time when I could simply take it easy and read… but perhaps it would be better to have that sense of accomplishment for having completed a priority for the day in the morning, such that any other time including that when D is around, can be better spent without the burden of thinking about what I should have done for the day.

Doing an 80/20 analysis of life and considering carrying out that analysis/reflection every few months of the year.
A simple break down of the 80/20 analysis would be asking oneself

What are 20% of activities in my life that bring 80% of emotional well-being/happiness ?
What are 20% of activities in my life that bring 80% of misery/unhappiness?

Other thought experiments which might result in more effective doing and being:

What would this look like if it were easy?
What if I brought forward this long term goal to a shorter period e.g. 6 months? How would I go about achieving that? And then go crazy with wild hypothetical thinking but amidst the craziness could actually be the key to solving the current problem.

There is just so much interesting stuff to be learned from him. Pretty amazed at how long it took me to click on one of his own podcasts (rather than an interview with someone else) but I suppose the timing was just right. It was what I was looking for as well.

Currently in the midst of trying to digest all the gems from this video of his – Tim Ferriss x Intelligent Change Q&A Webinar. Definitely another post on that soon.

XOXO To a beautiful rest of the week.


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