Monday, 31 August 2015

Do What You Love May Mean Do What You Don't, First.

Walking towards Liverpool Street Underground Station a couple of weeks back, my friend pointed out this writing on the full-length window of a building which he thought was a good backdrop for a photo. Amidst surroundings where men are sartorially spruced up in their bespoke suits and women can knock down passers-by with their expensively heeled confident stride, I wondered if the writing on the glass wall is relevant at all to their daily grind.

When people say "do what you love", it's immediately associated with what one does for a living. A person is a success story when compensated for doing what they love. It has guided me in my choice of career early on in my life. In my last year in my degree, we took a series of evaluation tests to find out our suitable work environment. Mine fell into the work-equals-play category. I thought I'd be at work for the most part of my life, why not be in one where it's fun? My dreamy twenty-something self had no idea a professional life would be a lot tougher than my academic cradle.

Liverpool Street, London, August 2015 (photo by Will Tomada using HTC One)

The reality is that not all of us can earn our keep doing what we love, but I have learnt and discovered that we can certainly find a job that although doesn't fulfil us in all aspects that we would love to, can pay for the bills, the rent or mortgage, without handouts from our parents or siblings or taxpayers, and preserve our sanity to have the energy and inspiration to do what we love outside the boardroom.

I'm not one of those extremely lucky ones who love their jobs, but I have so much respect for mine as it allows me to practice my core skills that would otherwise be wasted in another area in my industry which can allow me to generate more income but is guaranteed to give my morale a good battering. Some of these core skills relate to written and verbal communication, problem solving, and interpersonal, which modern apprenticeship programs in the UK are focusing on as employers claim their younger recruits are lacking, some despite their university degrees. Most of the time though, these skills are innate and cannot be taught. For all its faults, misconceptions by outsiders, and despite my occasional encounters with vile creatures whose egos suck out the best of my mental faculties, the intangible fringe benefits are far more enriching than the monetary side of it. Over the years and across continents, I've come to learn and understand that my professional fulfilment are measured not by impressive titles or swanky work address, but by having sufficient time, disposable income, and supportive environment. The latter is very important as it sets the parameters of a work-life balance. I'm privileged early on in my work life to do what I dreamt of as a young woman, but it quickly dawned on me that outward appearances have no place in the practicalities of growing up. Yes, I was doing what I love, but had it not been for my parents who backed me up then, I would have starved. 

When we no longer have the luxury of parental support or do not have the cushion of an inheritance (in a previous post, I said I wish my dad was a one-hit wonder so I can leisurely work and live off his song's royalties and buy a lake to personally name),  we have to be a little bit more clever than how we were in school or when we were younger. By clever, I don't mean getting another degree (go ahead by all means if you can afford it), but by acknowledging that to do what we love, we may have to do what we don't. To eventually do what we love is a process, an evolution which can take time, but we can work on it and through it. 

This blog I love. I love the research that goes with every post. I learn a considerable amount of new information. And I love learning. Through my posts, I exchange thoughts with others. I look forward to taking photos and diligently editing them, watermarking, and archiving them. I love the late nights and early mornings spent writing and editing, hoping to have regular posts for dedicated readers. For all of these, I don't earn a penny. Not yet anyway. As earning from it is not my primary goal, I'm free from the soul-destroying pressure of constantly strategising to rake in the money. That's for my job. Or odd jobs. But not for my sanctuary.

Decisions, circumstances, and major life shifts changed my career route. It's been quite a tough journey, so along the way, I learnt a very important lesson on reworking my goals and purpose: that is, to be kind to myself.  And kindness is about not pushing myself too hard adhere to societal definitions and descriptions of life choices and events.  I do what I love in my own terms. 

Liverpool St, August 2015 (photo by Chris Bramaje)

I asked my friend who lives close to Liverpool Street to take a professional photo of the same building for this blog post. It's been taken down. I realised that the space is occupied by New York property firm WeWork, which I believe is a company that lets high-end office space to start-ups. The latter have finally taken the challenge to strike out on their own, with an understanding that they have to play the corporate game. Sometimes, we need to compromise to do what we love.

If money, time, and responsibilities were not issues, what would you love to do?

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

DOWN by the LAKE

There's a kind of silence that's deafening. And then there's that which blocks out the white noise of daily life. It's a gentle reminder that we sometimes need complete silence to reconnect with thoughts and feelings buried under the demands of adulthood.

Lough Gill is one of my favourite spots in County Sligo. There's barely anyone there apart from the occasional runner and a few tourists who stop by Tobernalt Holy Well, a very important place for reflection for the locals, which dates back to the 5th century.

Feeling homesick while walking in Fleet Street, London in 1888, W.B. Yeats was inspired ,upon seeing a fountain in a shop window, to write a twelve-line three-quatrain poem called 'The Lake Isle of Innisfree' in homage to that uninhabited island situated in the middle of Lough (Gaelic for lake) Gill where he spent childhood summers. The third and last quatrain expresses the fondness and attachment the Irish poet had for this tranquil part of town:

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
– W.B. Yeats

Yes, they're uneaten carrots underwater. Not sure who left them there, or who it is for

I have featured Lough Gill several times in the blog, each on a different season, from the end of winter, to spring, and the height of summer which has a semblance of autumn in this part of the world. The lake is in the neighbourhood of the Mr's family home, and perfect for an early morning or afternoon drive. The view is magnificent and the peace and quiet are unrivalled. I might aim to run the whole stretch next time to burn my ultra-rich diet whenever I visit.

Using my HTC One, I had a photo of myself taken in the middle of the road that takes me to Lough Gill

My tour guide, driver, and chef pose against a backdrop of Lough Gill which is roughly a five-minute drive from his family home

Do you remember Hugh Grant's character in 'About A Boy'? Sometimes, I wish that my father was some kind of a one-hit wonder or that he wrote 'Happy Birthday' so I can live off its running royalties, pack my bags, and move to the country.  But unlike in the film, I'd work, but leisurely, and not to pay the bills or save for travels. I'd probably write novels as risible as 'Fifty Shades of Grey' or something as ludicrous. With all the money I have, I'll buy my own lake. The only problem I would have is how to name it.

Friday, 14 August 2015


As to why overcast, windblown, and windswept can be so enticing is probably just as baffling to some as to why poet W.B. Yeats specified that as soon as the flurry of the news of his death died down, he wanted his remains in France to be exhumed and reinterred in County Sligo, Ireland.

W.B. Yeats was a Dubliner and only spent some childhood summers in Sligo, but he apparently took so much liking for the town and city, he considered it his spiritual home and 'country of the heart' literally and symbolically.  All over the county, Yeats' legacy is honoured.

I have been coming back and forth to Sligo for four years now (and have done several posts on previous trips) and each time I go back, I'm renewed. My tropical sun-and-sand blood, whose ideal holiday is to read a book while fashionably holed up in a hammock facing the sea, has embraced ideas other than the sun shining and walking in mismatched flip-flops. The prospect of the sun showing up is much anticipated, I now run towards it rather than hide from it. 

Do you see that bench above facing the North Atlantic Ocean? It has taught me that meditation can be done with my eyes open.

Some fashion talk: the ultra light down bomber jacket from Uniqlo is ace! On sale just for a day from £80 down to £30.  The bargain spotter in me couldn't wait to make her way to the till.

Behind me is part of Benbulben, which I took some beautiful (not saying my photos are beautiful, but instead, the sight is) shots of, which you can see HERE. There's a concept and physical reality of space and oblivion to time. In a place where the sun sets at nearly 10pm, regular schedules become irrelevant. 

River Garavogue in the centre of Sligo Town, which I have personally christened as the River of Guinness. It was said to have been blessed by St. Patrick so it would produce salmon all year round.

The much more peaceful end of River Garavogue. Sligo was getting ready for this week's Fleadh Cheoil 2015, the biggest traditional Irish music festival. That night, Boney M played to kick off the event.

I've seen this part of Ireland at its most glorious and at its dampest, and it's just as beautiful on both occasions, just like a woman with or without make-up. When you see a place at its most uninviting weather and you still want to see more of it, then it must be a little close to maybe calling it home one day.

Monday, 10 August 2015


I grew up basking in tropical sunsets, watching the last rays of the sun before dusk.  What makes a wintry sunset a little bit more special than its tropical counterpart is that it's not guaranteed a repeat appearance the following afternoon. When the sun does show up, it stays late --as late as it can possibly stretch. So, I cling on to it, as if it's one of the most beautiful things I haven't seen before in my life. 

A few days ago, we visited the Mr's folks again in Ireland. We left a sunny and balmy England for an Irish style summer: cold, windy, and overcast. At one point, it rained the whole afternoon. Despite the weather, it is always a pleasant stay. I was back in my sanctuary.

Dinner on the first night was spent at The Venue Bar and Restaurant which has both rustic and almost medieval touch. Food was excellent as usual. I haven't experienced getting served overly priced mediocre food (and portion) in Ireland. The bonus was the view from the restaurant: the skies showed off different faces of Irish sunsets in one night. I excused myself a couple of times to capture some photos. The sun finally left the sky at around 10pm. I thought it was such a treat. 

With no filter at all, enjoy watching the sunset with me on one fine nippy day. 

Top Rd, Strandhill, Co. Sligo, Ireland

+353 71 916 8167

Monday, 3 August 2015


I can't recall exactly which subject it was in highschool, but I remember my first encounter with Freudian concepts when I was about 13. Id, ego, and super-ego --his most square ideas the nuns wouldn't be squirming in their habits while us Catholic school girls were learning of this, and later on, Oedipus Complex, libido, repression, and Freudian slip when I was studying for my preparatory medical studies.

I wanted to be a physician like my father, and either specialise in Psychiatry as my Freudian influence, or Forensic Pathology, because death fascinates me.  I didn't end up a medical practitioner,  but my curiosity for human mental development never ceased. 

The Mr shares that interest and was the one who suggested the Freud Museum (there are at least 50 in London including the major and more well-known ones).  So, off we were one bright Sunday afternoon.

Off Finchley Road, turn left up to Trinity Walk. After roughly a hundred yards,  Maresfield Gardens is at the top. I realise this sounds like a sat nav instruction.

The London postcode I can only dream of

The leafy stretch of Maresfield Gardens 

Be careful of your Freudian slips on your way in

Sigmund Freud, the founder of Psychonalysis, lived here from 1938  after fleeing Nazi-annexed Austria, until his death from cancer the following year. His daughter Anna, pioneer of Child Psychoanalysis, lived here from 1938 until 1982.

Going up the Half Landing: my favourite part of 20 Maresfield Gardens

Photography  and filming are not permitted inside the house, so all my photos, except the exterior, were made through my trusty HTC One mobile phone. It was tempting to take more, as some tourists from the Far East did, but I decided against it.  I just concentrated on the Half Landing, which I was drawn to.  I couldn't resist the original Psychoanalysis couch, of course. But that's about it. If you're into antiquities and artefacts, Freud's extensive collection is on display in the front room and his study. His library books cover art, literature, archaeology, philosophy, and the works of Goethe, Shakespeare, Flaubert, Heine, and Anatole France.

In the hall is a glass-fronted cabinet showcasing the overcoat he wore from Vienna to London (men and women at the time were evidently smaller in stature than us as his coat was probably a size 10-12 UK or 6-8 US women's size), his rose gold wedding band in pristine condition, pill box, wedding reception menu, among other personal effects.

Dreamcatchers adorn the classical North London high windows. Good dreams are entangled in the webs, while bad ones pass thru the spaces. I believe this is an installation in reference to Freud's study and book on 'The Interpretation of Dreams'.

At home

Freud's wife Martha and her sister Minna loved spending sunny afternoons here doing needlework and having tea. Winter sun must be glorious in this part of the house. The books belonged to Anna, his daughter, and some of the plants date back from her days.

Freud by Salvador Dali, 1938 (source: Freud Museum Guide)

On The Landing are two portraits of Freud, one of which is by prominent Spanish painter Salvador Dali. The latter met Freud in 1938 and he secretly sketched the neurologist during the brief encounter. 

The original analytic couch from Bergasse 19, Vienna, where Freud's practice was before fleeing to London.  Here, 'free association' was done where patients were encouraged to say everything and anything that came to mind (think of verbal and mental diarrhoea but in a scientific setting), which became the foundation of psychoanalytic therapy.

The spacious garden can be accessed via the conservatory. I can just imagine how much the household enjoyed breezy summer afternoons and balmy nights here.

In Anna's bedroom is a replica couch where guests are encouraged to do as the signage says. Why not try it at home and tell me what comes to mind first? Censorship not allowed.

20 Maresfield Gardens
London NW3 5SX
Tel: +44 (0)20 7435 2002
Fax: +44 (0)20 7431 5452

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