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Fiona Apple: Love is love

“How can you go wrong with two people in love?” Fiona Apple wrote in a thoughtful letter to a young gay fan in 2000.

That was more than a decade ago and I’ve always knew Fiona was an enlightened individual when I first listened to her songs (haha!). But really, she has such a hauntingly lovely voice, especially when you listen to her version of Beetles classic Across the universe.

Ok, back to the letter. A 16-year-old Bill Magee had solicited Fiona’s support on behalf of his high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. And Fiona replied… once she had a day off.

Here’s the core of her letter:

All I know I want my friends to be good people, and when my friends fall in love, I want them to fall in love with other good people. How can you go wrong with two people in love?

If a good boy loves a good girl, good. If a good boy loves another good boy, good. And if a good girl loves the goodness in good boys and good girls, then all you have is more goodness, and goodness has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

A person who loves is a righteous person, and if someone has the ability and desire to show love another– to someone willing to receive it, then for goodness’ sake, let them do it.

Hate has no place in the equation; there is no function for it to perform. Love is love, and there will never be too much.

Fiona Apple

[See Pitchfork news for the full letter.]

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Summer paradise

I was at a friend’s place (so designer chic I could weep) on Sunday and she played a video that was accompanied by this song, which made me think of those carefree, lazy days where we’d lie in bed and play and laugh till our tummies ached.

I have never heard of the song until that day but those few minutes as the guitar was strummed made me wistful as the memories of us came rushing back to me. We were playing Twister in bed, we were galloping, we were taking silly pictures of each other, we were blowing bubbles, we were playing Kokology, we were dissing the contestants on American Idol, we were laughing, we were sipping wine, we were feasting on crabs and claypot rice, we were holding hands, we were playing scissors-paper-stone, we were spooning, we were kissing.

Sometimes it is not the lyrics that speak to us but it’s how the melody touches our souls and brings back the sweet memories that makes us like a certain tune.

I vaguely remember the song talking of happy summer days and how the singer longs to be back with the love of his life and how it would be paradise when they are back together again. How achingly close to the heart.

When the video stopped, I turned around and asked my friend if she knew the song. And here it is. Maybe it will take you to that lovely sunny day where you had the fun of your life with someone you loved dearly too.

Summer paradise by The Simple Plan

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Check Kate Moss out at Ritz Paris

Givenchy Haute Couture by Riccardo Tisci silk organza blouse with paillettes and crystals, silk knit tank, silk cady skirt with zipper detail, and crystal jewelry. Givenchy by Riccardo Tisci gloves.

I clicked on this gorgeous pic of Kate Moss only because I saw “Johnny Depp” in the headline and I was curious to find out more. Both of them dated and had a torrid affair in the early 90s (I can’t be bothered to fact check. You can do it yourself). And it is always very satisfying to read gossip about celebrities.

Moss posed for photographer Tim Walker in a pictorial spread at the glamorous Ritz Paris for Vogue’s April issue and in the interview, she revealed her favourite memories at the storied hotel, which were hilarious.

  • On staying at the Ritz with her ex-boyfriend: “When I was with Johnny Depp, he always stayed there. I had an apartment in Paris at the time, but he said, ‘No, we’re staying at the Ritz,’ so he came by and swept me up to the Ritz – he didn’t want to slum it in my apartment!”
  • On walking in Versace’s show: “Gianni’s shows were amazing – and sooo convenient. Walk downstairs, go to work: Love that!”
  • On her favourite cocktail: “I drink the French 76: vodka, sugar, lemon juice topped up with champagne; it’s the best drink ever, but it only tastes like that in the Hemingway Bar. Colin [Field, Ritz Paris head bartender] made it for my wedding. It doesn’t taste at all strong – and then, whoa, whoops-a-daisy!”

Oh, the rest of the article is a very nice read as well. It was an lovely insight into the glamorous world of fashion shows and haute couture, and of course, a little history of Paris and the Ritz in the old days.

Another hilarious incident by André Leon Talley:

“My best fashion moment was in 1996, when Karl took over the entire first-floor Imperial Suite for his couture show, to observe the twenty-fifth anniversary of Mademoiselle Coco’s death. He had two shows that brisk January day, and between them Naomi Campbell, Shalom Harlow, and Kate Moss came to my room—a simple one with two armchairs and the bed in a neoclassical alcove—and took naps. Karl and I walked in to find them all lined up asleep under layers of fine piqué sheets, like fairy princesses, false eyelashes still in place.”

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Whatever will be, will be

I have been very attracted to myself lately. I see pictures of myself and I can’t stop admiring how awesome I look. I KNOW.

I have noticed a few differences this time round. I have stopped wondering about the “what ifs” or the past or worrying unnecessarily. I look forward to the future with a certain sense of joy.

True, there are times where I’d fall into a relapse and feel like I have put my life on hold or feeling overly hopeful. But I’d quickly acknowledge it, wave it goodbye, and urge myself to keep moving forward, even if it’s a tiny step a day.

I do what I like whenever I want to. I stopped overthinking everything. If I feel like doing something, I go straight out to fulfil my desire without hesitating. I no longer have the “maybe I should wait another day” mindset.

Like that day I felt I should learn how to play a guitar again. After only the slightest of pauses, I went to take the guitar out of the storeroom, downloaded a few training apps and started strumming again. In time to come, I’d be able to serenade someone special with a love song. HA HA!

More importantly, I love how decisive I have become and how focused I am on myself. If I like it, I do it. If I don’t, I let it go. Only positive thoughts, actions and people allowed in my life now.

Yes. It’s all about ME, ME and ME and how much I enjoy my life and that I am my top priority.

But I admit there are times where I would unconsciously hold my breath in when I dreaded certain things or I’d forget to exhale when I assume the worst of something. Then I’d remember I’m alive and I have to love myself most because no one will ever love me more than I can. And so I breathe.

When I find myself trying to overanalyse something, I stop and see it for what it is. My mind will switch off. Well, I don’t know if it’s a good thing that I don’t think deeply enough, but I believe that things will work themselves out somehow because I am happy and I know my happiness will bring forth even better things to me.

If you like me, you take me for who I am. If you don’t, I couldn’t care less because I am not going to linger and wait for your approval. I will walk away.

Because I have said what I want out loud, I am no longer afraid.

Que sera sera. What will be, will be.

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The vow

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Inspiration for your vow to me?

So I watched the trailer for this movie The Vow today and it looked like the type where I’d cry at. Which I nearly did when certain scenes were played. The short clip was beautifully edited with enough pangs of sorrow accompanied by a melancholic soundtrack to tug at my heart strings. I have no idea why the older I get, the more emotional I become at sad movies. This does not make any sense.

Anyway, from those brief minutes onscreen, I have more or less figured out the storyline. Couple gets into accident, girl loses her memory, guy tries very hard to woo her back, girl becomes confused and rejects him, guy tries harder and nearly gives up, girl finally feels the love, they become a couple again. Right? Right.

I don’t know what their names are at this point but I relate to their story, especially when he said:

“How do you look at the woman you love, and tell yourself that it’s time to walk away?”

And she said: “I hope that one day I can love you the way you love me.”

Well, in movies true love means two people who are meant for each other will always come together again. The girl will always figure it out. Without fail. Obviously.

Anyway when it’s my turn to pledge my love, I will say this:

I vow to fiercely love you in all your forms, now and forever. I promise to never forget that this is a once in a lifetime love.

I vow to love you, and no matter what challenges might carry us apart, we will always find a way back to each other.

Bet you are falling in love with me all over again. So am I. HA!

[Image via mylot.com]

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The hunger games

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Sometimes when I read a really good book, I start visualising that I am one of the characters in it or how wonderful (more likely heart stopping) my life would be living in the author’s brilliantly fleshed out exciting world. Or I’d start rooting for the tormented protagonist and silently hope the next page to be filled with positives so there will be a happy ending.

It’s amazing how the right words can grip you just as tightly and enthral all your senses as a well-directed, scripted movie can. Besides, sometimes a book is even better than a film because your imagination is more powerful than almost anything manmade in the world.

The Hunger Games trilogy is one such series of brilliant writing. It has a storyline that is filled with so many twists and turns that you end up putting all your eggs in one basket and hope beyond hope that the particular character you support would escape the evil clutches safely. You feel the joy, the pain, the anguish, the sorrow and every dilemma deeply. Don’t tell anyone but there were tears in my eyes at some point. I even gasped sharply at some of the action-packed fights.

It was as though I was there right inside the book, living out each experience the author described. Not surprising actually because the book was written in a first-person narrative and in present tense. Which is different from The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo trilogy and Terry Pratchett’s Snuff as both were written in the descriptive past tense.

It blew my mind away when I finally noticed the different writing styles. Weird how these details jump at me when I told myself to be more aware of the types of literary prose. And both are equally effective in seducing the reader. Yes, it was a 100-watt lightbulb moment for me.

Anyway, I found myself rereading certain paragraphs in The Hunger Games over and over again, trying to absorb all the details so I could fill each scene out with rich colours in my head. I was riveted. And I didn’t want the book to end.

Now I can’t wait for the movie.

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How to be always lucky

I came across this article two weeks ago and I thought it was meaningful and something I want to apply in my life like today. Ok maybe tomorrow, since it’s going to be night soon. There were many things that the author said that accurately reflected my personal values and how I feel about certain things in life. He had articulated it so well that I only need to summarise the main points in a succinct way that allows me to memorise and then practise them diligently.

My ONLY Three Goals in Life

A) I want to be happy.

B) I want to eradicate unhappiness in my life.

C) I want every day to be as smooth as possible. No hassles.

That’s it. I’m not asking for much.

There were times in my life when I would feel lost, aimless and without a hope in the world. I haven’t figured out how I bounced back or if there were some common things that I did to set me on the right path. Until now.

According to Altucher, there are four daily steps one can take to be incredibly lucky all the time. And I have read enough self-help books in my lifetime to know exactly where he is coming from. Many successful entrepreneurs, top chief executives and wealthy people have said similar things. So I agree.

Altucher’s daily practice

A) Physical – being in shape and get at least eight hours of sleep every night. All you need to do is exercise enough to break a sweat for 10 minutes every day so that’s about 20-30 minutes worth of exercise a day. You can run, you can do hot yoga, pilates, kickboxing or any other form of exercise.

“This is not to get ‘ripped’ or ‘shredded’. Just enough to be healthy,” Altucher says. “You can’t be happy if you aren’t healthy.”

Spending 15 minutes exercising also helps your mind deal with its daily anxieties better.

“If you can breathe easy when your body is in pain, then it’s easier to breathe during difficult situations,” Altucher says.

Other tips include sleeping by 9pm and waking up at 5am every day and no eating after 5:30pm to stave off indigestion. I will try the “no eating” rule first before I attempt to wake up at 5am.

B) Emotional – Remove people who saps your emotional strength away. Very important. You can’t be happy if people around you makes you miserable.

“If someone is a drag on me, I cut them out. If someone lifts me up, I bring them closer. Nobody is sacred here. When the plane is going down, put the oxygen mask on your face first. Family, friends, people I love – I always try to be there for them and help. But I don’t get close to anyone bringing me down. This rule can’t be broken. Energy leaks out of you if someone is draining you. And I never owe anyone an explanation. Explaining is draining.”

Another rule that Altucher advocates is to always be honest without being hurtful and never do anything you do not want or like.

C) Mental – Write a list of as many ideas as you can every day. It can be 100 alternatives you can do without being trapped in a full-time job, 30 ways to write your autobiography, 10 realistic home business ideas, 10 great ideas for a New York Times bestseller book or 10 ways to be a popular blogger.

Other suggestions from Altucher are “memorise all the legal two-letter words for Scrabble. Translate the Tao Te Ching into Spanish. List every productive thing you did yesterday (this improves memory also and gives you ideas for today)”.

The “idea muscle” atrophies within days if you don’t use it. You need to exercise the idea muscle. It takes about 3-6 months to build up once it atrophies. Trust me on this.

D) Spiritual – It doesn’t mean praying to a certain god or being involved in a religion. It’s cultivating strong belief in something. Like how I asked my friend that night during dinner if she is a devotee of any religion and she said: “I pray to the Universe. That’s the biggest and most powerful force out there.”

I agree. So does Altucher and many others out there, I believe.

Pray – doesn’t matter if I’m praying to a god or to dead people or to the sun or to a chair in front of me – it just means being thankful for just a few seconds of the day.

Meditate – This is something new that I am trying out. It’s hard. And the thought of sitting motionlessly for even five minutes bores me out. But the same friend told me that I can search for Reiki music on YouTube and start from there.

All I have to do is sit in a quiet corner of my room and learn to watch my breathing for a few minutes a day. She said as I inhale, try to mentally dissect that one breath into 100 little breathes in my mind and let it flow. There should not be any thoughts of “Ok that’s one breath, two, three breaths” in my head during the process. There is also no need to visualise a white canvas and putting my thoughts on it. Once I can calm my body down long enough to remove any internal dialogue, I will realise how easy and natural meditating is.

I asked her: “But how would I know if I have achieved meditation?”

She immediately shot back (rather agitatedly): “You will know!”

I remember reading somewhere that meditation is essentially blanking your mind out for a few seconds to a few minutes without any distractions. For example, if a beautiful scenery took your breath away for two minutes and all you could do is stare at it without thinking anything else, that’s meditation in a way because you had nothing on your mind for those two minutes.

I asked my friend if meditating will make me a calmer person and stop me from thinking thoughts that I shouldn’t waste my time on or be affected by. She said I can’t stop thoughts from entering my head, all I can do is watch the thought, acknowledge it, desensitise myself from it and send it away.

Be grateful and forgiving – Think of everyone in your life you’re grateful for and visualise forgiveness (not pity) for everyone who has done you wrong.

Study – If I read a spiritual text (doesn’t matter what it is: Bible, Tao Te Ching, anything Zen-related, even inspirational self-help stuff), I tend to feel good.

While it does not train your mind to cut out the bullshit, Altucher says reading them will still make you feel good. I personally enjoy reading self-help books and articles on creativity, productivity and career success. I agree about the feel-good factor. Reading always fills me up with positivity and optimism that I can change my life.

The results

A) Within about one month, I’d notice coincidences start to happen. I’d start to feel lucky. People would smile at me more.

B) Within three months, the ideas would really start flowing, to the point where I felt overwhelming urges to execute the ideas.

C) Within six months, good ideas would start flowing. I’d begin executing them, and everyone around me would help me put everything together.

D) Within a year, my life was always completely different – 100% upside down from the year before. More money, more luck, more health, etc.

It’s definitely going to be hard following all the steps in the daily practice every day. I know I would get lazy after the third day. But I know if I do it faithfully, I would be even luckier than I am now.