Last week during the weekend church service, we learnt about the transition generation where we are constantly moving in between various seasons of our life – from summer to autumn to winter and to spring. We also learned about the 5th season that many of us may not recognise – the transition season, which is why I love this picture because the season is just like the empty space right in between each season.
What is the transition season like? It is probably the most confusing and frustrating season that we have to go through in life, because very often it is marked by simply… nothing much. We are neither here nor there. We are not in summer season where we have lots to do nor autumn season where we are enjoying the fruits of our labor. We are not in winter season when circumstances are cold and down nor spring season when life picks up with many new things. Basically there’s really nothing much and we are just waiting for things to happen. To top it off, people in this season are very often neglected because we are not doing so bad that others would take notice and at the same time, not doing so good that many others want to celebrate with us.
Recently, I have been pondering… Many times we are asked “how are you doing?” and the answer we are expected and socially attuned to give are statements like “I’m fine”, “Not so well” or my favourite “Okay”. But social expectations aside, truth be told, many of us are probably in the region of not doing so fantastic where butterflies and rainbows are singing for us everyday and at the same time, not doing so horribly that we are dragging ourselves through the mud and the whole world is against us. So, for a period of time, I decided that I would go with just “So-So” for the question, which is also kinda like “50-50″.
That said, when we talk about the transition season, the one story that came to me was the story of Joshua who crossed over into the Promised Land but just before he conquered Jericho.
Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”
Joshua came out of the Wilderness and into the Promised Land. That is like going from winter into spring, where God is going to do something new in our life. But right smack before his first conquest, God spoke to Joshua to march around Jericho for six days and on the seventh day to march around seven times, leading to the triumph. What we may not be aware is that the walls of Jericho were probably less than 1km in distance, which meant that Joshua had to lead an entire army to walk less than 1km around Jericho once a day for six days. Imagine what they would have been like – They make preparations early in the morning, set out to Jericho, walk for probably about 15 minutes and that’s it for the day. Talk about simply nothing much.
The six days around Jericho were pretty much nothing much, just like a transition season. But yet, that transition season laid the foundation for the seventh day when they had to multiply their efforts seven times. That transition season taught them to trust in the faithfulness of God. That transition season allowed God to test them right before the greatest victory they had ever seen before for an entire generation.
So, what do we do in our transition season? The Huffington Post gave 5 Tips For Getting Through A Major Period Of Transition:
1. Accept the change
2. Find time for reflection
3. Take it one day at a time
4. Find a mentor
5. Learn to be an optimist
To add on the list, as a Christian, how do we go through a transition season?
1. Find time to seek the Lord
Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
2. Connect with people who matters
Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out, not avoiding worshiping together as some do but spurring each other on, especially as we see the big Day approaching.
3. Take time to reflect on God’s goodness
If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post
4. Encourage someone in need
The Master, God, has given me a well-taught tongue, So I know how to encourage tired people. He wakes me up in the morning, Wakes me up, opens my ears to listen as one ready to take orders.
5. Exercise patiences in everything, and I mean EVERYTHING
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary – we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
We must realise at the end of the day, in all transition seasons, Romans 5:3 will always hold true – THERE’S MORE TO COME even when there’s pretty much nothing much.
We started December with the 3 D’s to end 2014 right and here we are at the last day of the year 2014. To end off the year, I’ll have 3 E’s to start your 2015 well. If you’ve noticed, the past few posts had been with alphabets and if you put all four together, our December has been a month to DARE. As we end of the year, I would like to DARE you… to move, to change and to step into the new year! Before we get to the last post, just to dedicate something to everyone out there…
Actually I’ve cheated a little, because the 3 E’s of this post is in fact 3 “Embrace” that we need to adopt in the new year in order to start it well.
1. Embrace the moment
As we start off the year, take time to smell the roses. When we step into office the next day, don’t forget to pause as the busyness set in. Before we get caught up by people’s expectations or the load of work awaiting you, know that everyday brings new experiences for us to appreciate and acknowledge.
The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.
2. Embrace the change
We often hear the phrase “the only constant in life is change”, but many of us would probably like that phrase apply to everyone else but ourselves. We would like other people to change, our circumstances be change, the cards dealt by life be changed. We need to realise that the only way people, circumstances or chances can only be changed when we change.
Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.
George Bernard Shaw
3. Embrace the possible
The only way for 2015 to be the best year yet is to expect the unexpected, which means that anything is possible. Even things that we think are impossible, more often than not, life will prove us wrong. So rather than being proven wrong, we might as well embrace that anything is possible. When we do so, we will grow to the capacity of doing anything we set out to do.
Man often becomes what he believes himself to be. If I keep on saying to myself that I cannot do a certain thing, it is possible that I may end by really becoming incapable of doing it. On the contrary, if I have the belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.
May the coming year be the best year of your life!!! Yet!!!
As we come to the end of 2014, most of us are rounding up the year with the Christmas busyness of shopping, feasting and gatherings. In the midst of such busyness, at the back of our minds, we know that the year is coming to an end and we may be thinking about the coming year ahead. Those who are more mindful would probably be doing reflections of the year and planning for the coming one.
This week, I have 3 R’s on how to reboot and restart in preparation of 2015.
In the coming few weeks, take time out to refresh yourself in the midst of the busyness. Take a couple of days off for some “me” time to refresh your mind and spirit.
Rest when you’re weary. Refresh and renew yourself, your body, your mind, your spirit. Then get back to work.
Instead of taking time to retire, take time to refire and recharge your passions and dreams. As we come to the end of the year, don’t forget to take time to think about the why of the what. We are called human “beings” and not human “doings” for a good reason. It is in the being that creates the reason for the season.
Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything. Keep this constantly in mind. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat. When your desires are strong enough you will appear to possess superhuman powers to achieve.
Before we get into the rut of doing up New Year Resolutions for 2015, maybe it is time to take up our old ones and see which ones we can “re-new”. Sometimes it is tough to take a look at our past, but ain’t we all a sum of all our past decisions and relationships? Maybe the way ahead is by looking back first before looking ahead.
If you want a new tomorrow, then make new choices today. Starting a new way is never easy so… keep starting until the start sticks.
Almost a year ago, I started on my GroupX journey and began to shadow/team-teach Les Mills BodyCombat in a local gym. The journey was exhilarating as I was doing something I love and I was able to share it with many other people. Also, my health and fitness were at a level that I could work out for many hours and get back at it the next day.
While that was going on, it was also the annual Christmas drama production and I was cast as the Giant in the show. As a Giant, I had to train myself to wear stilts throughout the show. Stilt walking isn’t exactly the easiest craft and I had less than a month to master the art, at least to last me for three days.
Because of the many rehearsals and shows, by the end of December, I had over-strained my knees and as a result I had to drop out of team-teaching for many months. To have to sacrifice one passion because of another is always a tough thing to do. To top things off, during that season, I had practically little or no support and I had to tide through the season.
The saving grace of the story was that six months after I recovered, I was finally able to get back to shadow and team-teach once again in the same gym. This time, however, I had lost much strength and stamina over the few months of recovery and I had to start building my fitness all over again, in order to get back to the level I once was. The thought of giving up often haunted me over and over, and anyone who were in the journey before know it is always an uphill battle.
Over the past 12 months, I had learnt that there are many uncontrollable circumstances in our lives, some of which we put ourselves into by choice unfortunately. However, no matter how many uncontrollable circumstances we may be in, there are certainly things we are able to control. I have 3 A’s that we can control in any uncontrollable circumstances.
Have you ever wondered why we have two eyes instead of one? Each eye sees the world from a different angle, creating slightly different pictures. The brain combines these two pictures into a single, three-dimensional image called binocular vision. What does this got to do with “attention”? Everything!
When we focus both our vision in both eyes into one, we get a single-focused, 3D image. If our attention is divided, our vision will always be confused and different from reality. Also, what we get is always a 2D image which is often misperceived and inaccurate. As such, when we put our attention together as one, we control what we see of the uncontrollable and we decide how we want to perceive that circumstance.
Your attention is the door and solution to any problems you might face. When it is divided, we are always presented with two doors and we will always be in a fixed which door to choose. When it is focused on the right vision, the door to our solution is always clear with our positive instincts.
I truly believe that everything that we do and everyone that we meet is put in our path for a purpose. There are no accidents; we’re all teachers – if we’re willing to pay attention to the lessons we learn, trust our positive instincts and not be afraid to take risks or wait for some miracle to come knocking at our door.
Businessdictionary.com describes “attitude” as a predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual’s influences, an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards. In short, when we say attitude is everything, attitude is really everything in our life.
I don’t know about you, but I have found that when I’m faced with uncontrollable circumstances, the easiest default attitude is to be negative over what is happening. Things are beyond me and there is little or nothing I can do. What’s worse is when the circumstances turn every worse no matter what decisions I make. Everything seems to spiral downwards just like a speeding car that had lost its control over the steering wheel.
When we are in that situation, the only thing to do is to reboot your attitude. In motorsports, a pit stop is where a racing vehicle stops in the pits during a race for refuelling, new tires, repairs, mechanical adjustments, a driver change, or any combination of the above. When we find ourselves in that rut where our attitude sours, it is time to turn into our pit stop and change tune up our attitude.
A bad attitude is like a flat tire. If you don’t change it, you’ll never go anywhere.
Alongside a river, an oak tree and a patch of reeds grew side-by-side. The oak tree was strong and proud; its enormous trunk and branches reaching far above the tops of the slender reeds below. One day, a great storm came from across the river, and the strong winds blew with all their might. The oak tree, as strong as it was, was toppled over by the winds, but much to the dismay of the oak tree, the reeds were still standing. The reeds replied calmly, “We were not blown over because we were flexible and moved with the wind. Although you are strong, you fought against the wind and lost.”
The first thing we feel when we are in an uncontrollable circumstances is the inability to change or make decisions. That may be true of the conditions and considerations in the circumstances, but we are never left without the ability to change and be flexible in our approach. Just because the river is flowing in one direction doesn’t mean we cannot steer the boat. Whichever decisions we make, no matter how small, will always make a significant difference in time. The 1 degree of change will result in a totally different direction, if we were to stay committed to our decisions and flexible to our approach.
New ideas stir from every corner. They show up disguised innocently as interruptions, contradictions and embarrasing dilemmas. Beware of total strangers and friends alike who shower you with comfortable sameness, and remain open to those who make you uneasy, for they are the true messengers of the future.
As we come to the first day of December, we often view it as the end of a year or we could also view it as the beginning of the end. Most of us approach the month of December with mixed feelings, depending on how the year had gone. For some of us, it may have been a great year with 11 months of highs. For others, it could have been a bad year with many valleys and dips. For the majority of mankind like you and I, it was a year mixed with valleys and mountain tops, which is probably why many of us have mixed reactions towards the big D.
Whichever our approach may be, I would think all of us would want to end the year in the right note, so we could start 2015 afresh again. Thus, to commemorate the big D, I have 3 D’s on how we could end 2014 right in preparation and celebration of the coming year in 2015.
1. DECIDE this year is going to be different
If you’re like me, you may be going through the same ritual over and over every single year. For me, my December has always been marked by clearing a double portion of work in the first half of the month, so that I could take leave for the second half. In the midst of this, the month will be filled with lots of drama rehearsals for the year-end Christmas production. In between the rehearsals will be efforts in trying to squeeze in some time for other ministry works. And still, in between the little moments left, I would be squeezing some time for family and finally some time for myself. (I actually felt tired just trying to think how many stuff I’m trying to squeeze in.)
Therefore, the first thing we have to tell ourselves is simply “decide this year is going to be different”. Whatever decision/s we make today will always gain traction over time. We choose the path we want to take and once that path is set, the road will appear along the way. I like to say it this year that we “move from the moment to the momentum to the monumental“.
We can use decision-making to choose the habits we want to form, use willpower to get the habit started, then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. At that point, we’re free from the need to decide and the need to use willpower.
2. DIVIDE the past year into smaller successes
It was 31 December and I was all alone in Vivocity counting down with the fireworks at Sentosa. Everyone else was celebrating all around me, but yet I had to hold back my tears as I stood all alone in the crowd. It was a depressing year and there seemed little I could celebrate of. The unexpected happened as I made my way home by train. I had a thought – “maybe I could run through the past 12 months and see if I can find one thing I could be happy about, no matter how small it was”. As I went through each month from January all the way to December, I realised that the year wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, by the time I reach home, I couldn’t help but smile from ear to ear for what had transpired throughout the year.
Has the year miraculously changed for the better? Not really. It was pretty much the same, but my perspective of the year had changed and what seemed bleak became bright again. Many times, it is easy to look at a whole block and colour it black. However, when we divide the year into smaller pieces, the sum of the pieces often look much better than before. The block of black actually has many colours underneath, waiting to be uncovered.
What you appreciate will always appreciate.
3. DELIVER care and kindness to someone else
December has always been marked as a season of giving due to the Christmas holidays. It is not surprise also that retail and shopping expenditure always spike during December as most people spurge on gifts, toys and mementos in celebration. Yet in the midst of all the giving, it is easy to forget the why from the what. If we think about it, would the other person actually need or appreciate the gift that you are giving, apart from the tradition that we have to give in this season. This is why instead of just giving gifts to friends and family members, how about delivering some happiness to them?
The act and effort in delivering care and kindness to another person will always have a positive effect on our long-term moods. We are always the end beneficiary in our kindness to other beneficiaries.
Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight. Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster, and do it with no thought of any reward. Your life will never be the same again.
As we end of 2014, let’s all look forward to a better year ahead!
Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us. Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
Welcome, welcome, WELCOME to the inaugural post of Shawn W.rites!!! First off, you might be wondering why is there a “.” in the word “Writes”. A quick introduction, my name is Shawn W and I am a civil servant by day (currently) and an avid writer by night. To me, writing is almost like a “rite” or a “ritual” that helps me put things into perspective. Many of my thoughts and mindsets are formed as I think, reflect and write my heart out.
Over the past few years, I have been trying to write as often as I could, those who had previously read my blogs probably know that I have been in and out of writing for the past couple of years. While I cannot promise that this site would be updated regularly, I do promise that I will do my utmost to write and produce quality content in this blog. Also, I have committed myself to update only this site from now on, so do follow or subscribe to this if you have not.
Now, unto the first post of my new site Shawnwrites.com!
As I am writing this post, it is the wee hours of Monday night and the question that has been bugging my uneventful day is simply this – “How do you start your week on the right note?” How many of us have gone through our Monday blues and end off much the same we started out in the day? Somehow Tuesday feels much better, not because we have done a whole lot on Monday, but we are one day closer to the next weekend.
Never fear, another “3 Ways to” among the many “Top 10 of” and “Best 5 Methods” is coming your way! This one will be the “3 Ways to Start Your Week Right”.
1. Start the first moment of your day in GRATITUDE
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships. (In Praise of Gratitude, Nov 2011)
The best way to start your day is to think of ONE thing you could be grateful for. Whether it is something that happened the day before, the week before, or even something you made up on the spot, the act of gratitude directs your focus on positive emotions and good experiences.
2. CONNECT with someone within the first hour of day
Strong social connection leads to a 50% increased chance of longevity… strengthens our immune system… helps us recover from disease faster, and may even lengthen our life… have lower rates of anxiety and depression… have higher self-esteem, are more empathic to others, more trusting and cooperative and, as a consequence, others are more open to trusting and cooperating with them. Social connectedness therefore generates a positive feedback loop of social, emotional and physical well-being. (Connect to Thrive)
The feeling of connectedness reinforces the fact that we are never alone in life. There is always someone you can connect with, whether it is a loved one, a friend, a colleague, even your dog or in my case, my pet terrapins and tortoise. The connection you make becomes the “positive feedback loop” that creates a momentum for a good day to start.
3. Surprise another person with an act of KINDNESS
Scientific studies reveal a strong link between gratitude and random acts of kindness and overall good health, including stress reduction, inner peace and happiness. (An Attitude of Gratitude and Random Acts of Kindness Can Release the Stress in Your Life)
As the Good Book says, “it is more blessed to give than to receive”. This saying never grows old because it is the foundation of a blessed life. The person who is able and mindful to give or be kind to another person is always happier than the person receiving the kindness. This kindness is doubled if you make it a surprise, totally unexpected.
There you have it, a quick first post for the site and thus begins the journey towards Shawnwrites. LIVE OUT!