Piece Of Our Heart

I’ve been saving this for a future chapter of the online graphic novel series that I’m working on. But seeing as the series is taking me a thousand years to write/draw :mrgreen: I’ve decided I will share it here for you to see (along with some scribbly illustrations because who doesn’t like pictures?).

Call it a sneaky really-early-first-peek, if you will. :)

It’s an idea that I’ve kept for a couple of years and one that’s close to my heart. It’s also one I think many others can resonate with.


Heart1 Heart2 Heart3 Heart4 Heart5 Heart6 Heart7 Heart8 Heart9 Heart10 Heart11 Heart12 Heart13 Heart14 Heart15 Heart16 Heart17 Heart18 Heart19 Heart20 Heart21 Heart22 Heart23 Heart24 Heart25 Heart26 Heart27 Heart28 Heart29 Heart30 Heart31 Heart32

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A Free Birthday Email + Why Growing Up Isn’t So Scary

Heart Cupcake“Being young again is good… but having a long life is not bad either.” – Seiji Matsunaga, Love So Life


My day job is a rookie probably-not-rookie-level-anymore software developer. I feel lucky that our office is full of many fun and friendly characters.

Whenever it’s someone’s birthday, it’s common for them to bring in celebratory cakes and snacks for everyone. Everyone is informed via email. When it’s my turn, I like to make my emails fun if I can.

It’s my birthday over the weekend. I think that means I get to level up. I might even learn a new move! But I’d have to delete one first since I’m only allowed four…

Unfortunately, I wasn’t brave enough to email the entire building with that and ended up with something a little subtler! So please feel free to use it for yourself – I don’t want the idea to go to waste :)

Growing up is a weird thing. As a kid, we’re all so desperate to grow up and yet it felt like it would never come. In our minds, we imagined having everything figured out.

Then when we get there, we realise that we haven’t got everything figured out yet. There’s still an awful lot we don’t know. Even more concerning, we begin to feel less sure about ourselves. We wonder how that’s even possible, how could we not know ourselves when we ARE ourselves.

I think that’s what makes it a little frightening. Another year has come to pass and we still don’t know everything. We end up with more questions. We fight with ourselves. We discover that we don’t know all the answers and neither does anyone else… and if that’s the case, then who are we supposed to ask?

I confess, I spent a couple of years of feeling insecure about it. But I eventually came to this conclusion. Maybe I won’t get to know everything. But the excitement comes from the journey of finding out.

I know, I know – that word “journey” – it sounds like another old cliché. But every year that passes by, I like to remember all the things I’d learned in the year that has just gone. I think of all the mistakes and hardships, the ups and the downs. And if I learned even one tiny thing from each experience, then it was all worth it. Life is about character-building and soul-finding. We have learned so much and have plenty left to learn.

Like in the email, we should think about all the experience we’ve gained. A year’s worth of learning and figuring out stuff. I ‘level up’ and look forward to ‘leveling up’ even more.

If time-travel were possible and I were able to meet with myself from one year ago, I want to be able to say: Good work. You did great this year.

There’s still a lot out there that we don’t know. Part of the adventure is finding out. I admit, growing up is still a little scary, but I’m not afraid of it – if anything, I’m a little excited :)

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A Good Life Isn’t Always Neat and Tidy

You Are Dreamy

You are the type of person who often has your head in the clouds, and you see no reason to come down to earth.
You are very creative and expressive. You’re the type to make something a little more artistic just because you can!

You aren’t afraid to make a mess, especially if it’s in the name of art or dessert. A good life isn’t always neat and tidy.
You embrace sweetness, and you never think twice before treating yourself. You like every day to be a little whimsical and special.


There’s a great website called Blogthings which has a host of interesting, fun personality quizzes to take. It’s fun to see how accurate the results are. Sometimes you even learn a little something about yourself, giving you that I didn’t realise that about myself but actually, it’s kinda true! moment.

Of course, there are times where they aren’t quite so accurate. (I’ve taken a few where the result did not match me at all!) But aside from all the fun, they’re also a nice tool for opening the mind.

For example, I took the above quiz ‘What’s Your Dessert Personality?’ which was a really simple one-question quiz. Not something I intended on taking too seriously. The result, I feel, reflected me quite well but what really caught my attention was the third paragraph:

You aren’t afraid to make a mess, especially if it’s in the name of art or dessert. A good life isn’t always neat and tidy.

I liked the sound of it. It doesn’t just apply to art but also to life.

Don’t think too hard.

Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Don’t be afraid to be imperfect.

Dive in without fear. Be messy. Explore, experiment, and learn. Being messy can be a good way to figure things out. You can work out the finer details along the way (sometimes they even work themselves out!)


Be sure to check out Blogthings when you have spare time (but beware, it’s easy to get addicted to quiz taking!) :mrgreen:

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Be More Dog Walker

Be More Dog Walker

Story time: One day, the house runs out of milk. I walk to the corner shop. It’s a short walk, peaceful too since the area is quiet. I like this route because I get to walk past a really pretty cherry blossom tree. When it’s windy, the blossom petals fall gracefully to the ground. Sometimes I pretend I’m in a dramatic scene from a Japanese anime as I walk through the falling petals because that’s not at all ridiculous– ahem… continuing on… :mrgreen:

As I’m walking, I cross paths with someone walking their dog. They say “good morning.” I say “good morning” back and we continue on our way. The end.

Okay, not quite the end. There is a point to this story :)

It was nothing major; just a simple hello. It’s a little silly but when things like this happen, I always feel warm and happy.

But it’s also a rare occurrence.

It shouldn’t be that strange to acknowledge each other if we walk past. Thinking about it, it’s strange that many of us don’t and we play “pretend-ignore.”

This wasn’t in a busy shopping centre. This was in the local neighbourhood. Why would it be so strange to greet our neighbours?

It’s a rare occurence normally. But it seems a lot more common when there’s a dog walker around. Whenever I’m out roaming the neighbourhood, 99% of the time I’ll come across a dog walker. And 99% of the time, they’ll greet me.

It brightens the day. It brightens my mood. It makes me feel a little more connected to the community.

We all live on the same Earth. We all have the ability to make this world a little more connected.

Conclusion: I think we should all be more like these dog walkers. :)


Note: For those living outside the UK or anyone who hasn’t seen the advert, the title of this post is a reference to O2’s latest advertising campaign: Be More Dog.

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Strangers Are Just Friends You Haven’t Met Yet

Girl and Bricks

I have a secret,
I’ve been hiding,
Under my skin…

Not-really-needed-but-I-like-the-song Mr Roboto references aside…

Subconsciously, I have been a little afraid of people.

I don’t recall having always been this way. In first school, I talked to anyone. I loved to talk to other kids about Pokémon  and to teachers about the newest things I had learned from last night’s edu-tainment TV programme.

Somewhere during middle school, that changed. I don’t remember specifically why or what caused it – it kind of just happened. During high school, I started building barriers and experience had turned into a very wary person.

I got better over time. Sixth form and university were times where I met some great people who helped me to slowly pull those barriers away.

Today, I want to write about one more lesson I learned from my trip to China. A lesson which helped to finally demolish those walls.

One amazing thing about being miles away from home for a few weeks. You feel a little more free. A little more brave. More willing to try things.

So I tried speaking to strangers a little more.

I didn’t do anything huge, I didn’t launch myself into a deep conversation with the nearest bystander. Just small acts, casual conversation. The city I stayed in had a very close community. People talked to each other like they’d known them forever, even if it was really the first time.

Small talk didn’t feel obligatory. Jokes were shared and every laugh felt genuine. And you know what? I finally learned that people aren’t that scary.

Back home, I decided to be less afraid. I chose to become a little more open. My friends helped me to start tearing down these barriers – and now it was my turn to finish the job.

Every interaction I make has a little more heart. A little more eye contact, a little more sincerity. I don’t know how else to explain – there’s more “I-may-not-know-you-well-but-I’m-talking-to-you-like-I-mean it-anyway.” Not everyone is receptive to such behaviour, but I’ve found that the majority are.

All our friends were strangers at one point. Let’s think about that.

I think this was a case of catterpillar-cocoon-butterfly. I started out as a catterpillar, slowly cocooned myself away but eventually emerged into a almost-butterfly*. I don’t think I’m quite a butterfly just yet*. :mrgreen:

Admittedly, there are still a few bricks left… but I’m happy to say most of the wall is gone now :)

All that’s left to say is domo arigato!.. Thank you for allowing me to learn this lesson :)

(*But if we were talking Pokémon terms, then I’d totally be happy with calling myself a Butterfree. :mrgreen:)

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Three Weeks Away: Lessons From A Soul-Cleansing Adventure

ChinaIt’s been a while, hasn’t it? :)

I recently came back from a 3-week trip to China. It was one of the most exhilarating, rejuvenating experiences I’ve had in a long time. Being away in a completely different place, practically living an alternate life, has totally renewed my perspective on things.

Describing my time away has been an impossible task because I just have no idea where to begin. (You know when someone asks what your favourite book is and you suddenly forget every book you’ve ever read?) Even this post took me over a week to write – using words to form sentences which best express this explosion of feelings? Impossible!

Though it lasted just under three weeks, it felt like a lifetime. Being immersed in an entirely new world taught me a few lessons which I’ve taken back home with me. They aren’t exclusive to visiting China or even travelling in general; these can definitely apply to simply taking a break away from your usual routine!

Don’t Run Away From The Problem. Walk Away Then Come Back
We’re always told running away from the problem never solved anything, right? Not that I really had any serious problems, but we all have everyday life struggles and worries. Travelling to the other side of the world forced me to leave those worries behind. Being halfway across the planet, there wasn’t much I could do them – so I decided not to dwell on them. They weren’t going anywhere after all.

So for three weeks, I completely forgot about them. It wasn’t difficult since I had plenty of new distractions – delicious food, fantastic sights, a lot of new people and conversations. Without me realising, all the noise and buzz that used to be in my head was disappearing and being replaced with a sense of peace and quiet.

Surprisingly, when I returned home, those small worries didn’t seem so big anymore. After seeing a different side to the world, some worries no longer mattered. And any that did seemed to have relatively clear solutions. Or maybe I had a clearer mind to think of them.

Someone once said: it’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small… :mrgreen: Taking a break can help you think more clearly. Take some time to leave behind your problem and don’t think about it at all. A break is like our own little reset button – it allows us to start things over with a fresh canvas.

Focus On Now
A while ago I wrote this post about falling victim to working on autopilot and losing my connection to the present. While I was doing one thing, I was planning how to handle some other task that I needed to do later in the day. When it came to that task, I would then start thinking about the next thing… etc, etc. Whatever task I was meant to be doing, I ended up thinking of something else.

Being in a completely new place, my mind was forced to think about what I was doing now. I needed to be aware of what was happening in front of me – new people, new culture, new way of life – everything was new and demanded my attention.

Three weeks of only thinking in the present and it’s become like a habit. Everything seems a little happier and even ordinary everyday things give me a bit more joy now because I’m fully present for them. It’s a liberating feeling.

It Doesn’t Have To Be Perfect
As well as the fun, exciting parts of my holiday,  I like to describe the less glamorous parts too. Staying in an old-fashioned area, the local facilities were not quite the same as back home (be thankful for the standard of public washrooms here!). There was a lot of walking and trekking involved (which, as a walk-more-than-drive girl, I personally loved). Also a lot of stair climbing. Add to that a new set of attitudes and some slight culture shock during the first few days, I sometimes worry this takes away from the extraordinary picture I painted earlier.

“Oh, you had to do that? Didn’t that ruin your holiday?” Not one bit! It only added to the experience. The minor downsides made it more meaningful. It made it into a “full experience” where I was allowed to live an entirely different – but very real – life. Maybe it doesn’t fall under “perfect” in the traditional sense. But looking back, it certainly felt perfect to me.


Phew! Do my words make sense? I’m having trouble finding the words to justify everything sufficiently :P

It sounds like a line out of a novel but it’s the absolute truth. My holiday experience was a completely soul-cleansing adventure and I came back home feeling completely in love with the world and everything about it. How’s that for the ultimate souvenir?

It’s not a feeling I’ll be letting go of very easily. From now, I’ll be making sure I apply everything I’ve learned to everyday life!

But now that I am back, I feel like my heart, heart, heart is so jet lagged.

Just kidding. Although I do miss it over there, there’s definitely no place like home! :)

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How To Tackle A Bad Day (or Days)

We all have them. We wake up feeling groggier than normal. We trip over a rogue pencil that we forgot about. The weatherman’s prediction yesterday was wrong and somehow our wardrobe has swallowed every weather-appropriate thing we’re looking for. Things aren’t starting out so good.

Before we know it, we’re more than a little annoyed.

For whatever reason, a bad day is a bad day. Today, I thought I’d share some little ideas which could help turn the day around or at least help you cope as well as can:

1. Breathe slowly

Yeah, okay. It doesn’t sound very exciting. But it really helps. Especially when you can’t escape from wherever you happen to be just yet (e.g. school, work). When you’re whole self is focused on something as simple as breathing, your mind has a chance to clear and you forget about any stresses. We all know the drill. Inhaaaaale. Aaaaaand. Exhaaaaale. Repeat. Do this for a minute or so. Feel that negative mood leaving you.

2. Focus on the task at hand

Again, if you’re not able to leave the environment, then maybe focus on what it is you’re meant to be doing. Like the above, focusing your mind on one single thing can help you forget about the external sources of stress. Unless of course, the task itself is the source of your bad day then perhaps think about skipping this one…

3. Listen to music

A classic solution. Music is a mysterious phenomenon that can whisk us away and make us connect with our feelings. So pick out some songs which best suit your mood right now. Relax with some slow piano, get happy with something upbeat, or vent your anger with something shouty and loud. There is no one-song-fits-all so go ahead and choose away!

4. Take a walk

When you eventually get the chance to escape, even if only for a little while, a little walk outdoors can do the trick. Fresh air and sunshine make for a clearer head. If you don’t mind a little rain, then don’t be afraid to take an umbrella and walk. Personally, I find a little light rain quite relaxing to walk in. :)

5. Distract yourself some other way

This means anything to stop yourself thinking about your bad day. Distract yourself with a funny film, a book or your favourite hobby. If you’re short on time, a quick youtube video could be just what you need. Something like Barack Obama “singing” Uptown Funk or Problem… or the Pokémon theme??

6. Talk to people

When having a not-so-good day, it’s tempting to just hide away. But talking to people can make you feel better. You don’t need to talk about your stresses (but you can if you want), people can be pretty surprising. There was an instance where the first person I spoke to had no idea of the bad morning I’d just had. And yet after speaking with them, I felt so much better. Their bright attitude alone was enough to brighten me up. These are the people I aspire to be like.

6. Tomorrow is a new day

If all else fails, remember tomorrow brings a fresh new start. New day, new beginnings. Yes, we’ve all heard it before but it’s most definitely true – well of course it is, who wouldn’t feel at least a tiny bit better after a nice sleep? :)

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