Cliff-hanging

So I went on a hike with my colleagues one fine Saturday morning at Bukit Tabur, which I didn’t think would be too difficult a task (I’ve never hiked before, but pfft there’s always a first for everything right?), and since we’re already there we might as well take the route that says ‘extreme’, right? Go hard or go home amirite? Right…?

Nope, nope, nope and nope – is what I should have said to all the above and to the invitation. 

Before that, you know how when people conquer mountains or run marathons they sometimes end up quoting some motivational phrases like ‘it’s not the mountain you conquer but yourself’, etc.? Well, this isn’t one of those stories. In fact, I was about to caption this picture of mine with some realistic jokes like ‘Looking down toward my imminent death’, because before we climbed down, the most difficult part of it all was to not fall down from the top of the cliff while taking pictures. Yea it’s not that difficult to climb up really, even for a hiking newb like me. 

Of course, everything changed when we tried to find our way back down. We got lost. Lost as in, the way down was nowhere to be found and completely covered with thick woods. How can this possibly happen, you ask? Well, there was more than one way to go down, and we were seemingly going down a path different from the one we used to hike up, until there was a dead end. Nevertheless, we tried going back up and down several routes til we reached what looked like an ATV trail. At this point we were all hungry, thirsty and tired; but nobody really complained, and our Vietnamese manager was just throwing out optimistic comments like ‘we’ll get out in 10 more minutes’ (which of course took much longer, but optimism appreciated nonetheless 😂). 

We tried looking for phone signals and only Celcom had the slightest connection. So we called the authorities (wrong move in Malaysia, tbh), went through a whole lot of confusion trying to communicate with them (they were asking us where in the hill are we – I mean…which part of ‘lost’ tells you we know where we are?), gave them our location through Whatsapp when the Celcom connection was strong enough, and got some water from a flowing river nearby while waiting to be rescued. 

It took us about 1 and a half hours to reach the peak, but it took us 5 hours to get out from there. Well it could have been a lot worse, really. We could’ve been stuck overnight (apparently we were totally off-track and it took us 20 minutes on an ATV and another 20 minutes in the fire truck/police car to reach the entrance where our cars were parked), it could’ve rained (which it did, after we got out – thank God), we might not have passed by the flowing river, we could’ve trespassed deep into the woods and be fined RM5,000 per person, we could’ve gotten injured somehow, etc., but neither of these happened, and we came out mostly unscathed and before the sun sets. 

There were a lot to be grateful for. The people I was with was an amazingly optimistic and altruistic bunch, so somehow it didn’t feel like a dreadful experience eventhough it would have easily been so. They were even excited about getting a ride on the fire truck (okay fine, who wouldn’t) and in the police car, and was asking when would the next hike be. Being my pessimistic self, I told myself that it’s enough a hike for the rest of the year at least. A year being a stretch for me. Maybe two years. Or three. With a Celcom sim card.

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Belle

I loved Beauty and the Beast. Belle has always been my favourite Disney princess.

Sidetracking for a bit, I’m not particularly the type that compares things in a category and choose my favourite – for example Coke or Pepsi: Sometimes I prefer Coke, sometime I prefer Pepsi; McDonald’s or Burger King: McDonald’s Spicy Chicken McDeluxe is the bomb but Burger King has a mean French Chicken burger – I don’t get why you absolutely have to choose a winner… why can’t they just co-exist peacefully and you can have variety?

Anyways, same goes to Belle, I didn’t put all the Disney princesses up against each other and chose one (in fact I didn’t even watch some of them when I was a kid). But Belle resonated in me the most. Growing up I was sort of a ‘nerd’ – I liked to read a lot, I loved studying (especially liked memorizing world flags and cities), and I kept to myself often enough to be called ‘quiet’ or ‘reserved’. It shouldn’t have mattered to me so much, but it gets to you when people keep telling you the same thing over and over again.  Belle’s character helped me see that it’s okay to be how I am eventhough others keep telling me that it’s better being outgoing.

Don’t really care what the critics say about the new live action version, the movie was amazing.  Brings back so many nostalgic feelings but at the same time it gives a breath of fresh air when you’re watching with a different perspective and with the extra backstories given about Belle and Adam’s parents. Also, the Beast’s name is Adam, why did nobody care after all this while?

Call me naive, but I loved all the clichĂ©s in the story. I loved how Belle is a studious woman, I loved how she sees past his exterior appearance and brings life to him, I loved how they actually spent time together understanding each other instead of ‘happily ever after’ happening at first sight, I loved how she sings “I want more than this provincial life”. That part resonated in me more than anything hahaha.

I have also been replaying the soundtrack “How does a moment last forever” – which I’m so glad that it’s sung by Celine Dion, the original animation soundtrack singer. The lyrics about life and love so articulately yet simply put together in a melody is just perfection.

How does a moment last forever?
How does our happiness endure?
Through the darkest of our troubles
Love is beauty, love is pure
Love pays no mind to desolation
It flows like a river through the soul
Protects, persists, and perseveres
And makes us whole.

A Timeout

I’m so exhausted.

I know, it’s been barely two months and I’m already complaining. Lol. And funny how I always choose to do a blogpost whenever I don’t have much time on my hands.

Anyways, it isn’t really the work that tires me, but people. I don’t really mind working late hours if it’s with great people in a great environment. I have been blessed for the first few weeks in terms of that. This current job though… well let’s just say it exhausts me. And I can’t wait for a break. #whinybrat

I find so much comfort in being able to go to church. Not trying to sound too #spiro, I just like the environment and tender loving care given. Hahaha. Perks of being a newcomer. Of course, having the church being gospel-centered is central to pointing to true joy.

Last Sunday I was greeted by a view of disabled people seated in front, and there usually aren’t so many of them and it grabbed my attention. A sight of a lady with an oxygen tank/bag caught my eyes. Has she always been here? I wonder. During baptism, a lady who suffers from what seemed like a motor neurone disease was wheeled to the front and gave a slurred yet confident declaration of her faith, and I wondered about how I’m so enabled to love Him with my hands and feet and yet my faith is but a mustard seed. 10 minutes into the service two chairs were pulled up next to me and a pair of elderly couple sat in them. The old uncle asked me if I was new, and I replied that I have been attending for a few weeks now. He smiled a very tender, grandfather-ish smile that made my heart warm. He introduced me to those in front of us during the short mingling and even motioned for me to go meet more. He then introduced his wife to me, who has “a little bit of dementia”, according to him as he said it with sad smile. When it was announcement time the Reverend came to speak and the uncle whispered to me “that’s my son” with a proud face and I could see clearly how his son resembled him and his wife. After the service he asked if I was joining lunch to which I couldn’t, and he said “will I see you next week then?”, to which I immediately affirmed  with a smile. I left with his warm smile lingering in my mind as I thought of my grandfather.

I thank God for encounters like this. 

I have started working.

 

Basically the title is self-explanatory, to assure everyone who has been asking me “so… what are you doing now?”

To be honest, I’m quite glad to have an appropriate answer ready before Chinese New Year came. Else I’d be stuck with the same ol’ “errrr I’m looking for a job” with ensuing awkward silence. Hmm, that sounds like I got a job just to please everyone else. Then again, I need the money, so yeah… *contemplating life decisions* sorry, got lost in my own thoughts there. Anyways,

I’m currently working in KL, dear uncles, aunties, friends, acquaintances, and long-lost relatives. I sincerely thank you for your concern.

I shall re-enact the common FAQs that I have encountered so far, for easy reading purposes.

Aunty: So where are you working now, dear?

Me: In KL, aunty. KL sentral.

Aunty: Oh, is it in the bus station building?

Me: No, aunty. It’s in another building nearby, called 1Sentral.

Aunty: Oh *feigning recognition*. So what are you working as?

Me: An auditor, aunty.

Aunty: Ohhhh *pitiful eyes* my goodness, very tough I heard, auditor job.

Me: Yeah, okay lah aunty. I suppose every job starting also liddat.

Aunty: Ya lah, true. So how long have you been working? Do you go back often?

Me: For about a month. Umm, I haven’t been back until CNY. Because I have to work on weekends sometimes.

Aunty: Oh dear. Do you OT alot? Can claim wan ah?

Me: Yea, more than I expected as a new employee. Can claim can claim. (Note: lazy answer)

Aunty: Oh then okay lah. So why KL ah? *intrigue smile*

Me: Err more exposure lor. Malacca not many industries and stuff. (honest answer: I just wanna get out of Malacca)

Aunty: Ohh. So where are you staying? Which church do you attend?

Me: I’m staying with my uncle’s family in Ampang. I’ve been attending St. Mary’s Church which is near the Dataran Merdeka. (Hence the cover picture for this post!)

Aunty: Oh good lah, nearby. Got new car and all. Should be easy to go around lah. But poor your parents, house now so empty.

Me: *awkward chuckle* yea. (I am an ungrateful child, Aunty. I don’t deserve my parents *wails internally*)

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Right. Now that that’s out of the way, I shall start my rant  sharing.

Working in KL have been better than expected, actually. Aside from having to work late nights, it was made better by having a warm house to go back to; my uncle’s family being so accommodating and spoiling me to bits with home-cooked food, fun ping-pong sessions (when I’m not working late) and making me feel so at home. #blessed

I’m also blessed enough to have their home near my office and  this month’s client’s office, so the jam isn’t so bad to and fro work – only 20 to 30 minutes to reach. I took a wrong turn one time at night and saw the twin towers up close from an elevated highway. It was a breath-taking view, and I thought to myself that working in KL has been an amazing decision so far. Work won’t always be rainbows and unicorns, but God has been putting wonderful people around me and upholding me in the best ways, so I choose to see His goodness in my everyday life instead of complaining about insignificant matters.

So how am I? I’m grateful. 🙂

Seoul Tripping

Seoul exceeded expectations with flying colours, if you must know before you read on. So I went on an 8-day trip to Seoul (11 Sept-18 Sept) with my parents and my younger sister, Amanda, without following a tour/ travel agency. Since I had nothing much to do, obviously I was in charge of planning the whole trip, and surprisingly the planning process was almost as fun as the trip itself. If you’re travelling without a tour guide, the most important thing is knowing your way around/ how to get to places. I find travel blogs the most helpful in terms of that, in addition to the informative Korean tourism websites and efficient public transportation system there, which makes for a very pleasant travel experience.

Since putting everything from the 8-day trip into one blog post would be very long, I shall spare you the details and compile a top 10 highlights from the trip!

1. Myeong-dong

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We stayed in Hotel Aropa, which is within walking distance of the Myeong-dong shopping street, a must-visit according to articles, and very aptly so. Besides the fashion outlets lined up, stalls open up along the street every evening, making it the place to go for street food excursions. Our favourite dinner place was Myeongdong Kyoja, an amazing place if you’re a fan of dumplings – but who isn’t, really?  And you can tell that it’s a good restaurant if they serve only 4 items on their menu but locals and tourists still crowd the place everyday. We went there twice ’cause it was that good.

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2. Digital Media City (DMC)

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The DMC was actually a massive landfill for Seoul’s garbage on an island, before transforming into a high-tech modern city in the 21st century (a fact that very much amused my dad, the information junkie). The city had a futuristic feel to it, with huge TV screens plastered across artistically-shaped buildings. If you watch the Korean variety show, Infinite Challenge, this particular spot will be familiar to you as the MBC Broadcasting Station HQ, home to the famous variety show and also many K-dramas. Even if you’re not that into Korean entertainment programs you would enjoy the MBC World Theme Park, an interactive tour where you can experience BigBang’s performance (!!) in a hologram theater, virtual reality, being an anchorman/woman, dance experience studio (not so much my thing but it was okay lol), etc. They actually request for your email right there and then after taking trick art photos for you so that was cool. You can also get a signature of a celebrity of your choice haha. My parents really enjoyed it so I guarantee it’s worth your money.

3. Ewha Woman’s University

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The place is so beautiful, it’s no wonder they open up for tourists to visit the university quarters. It would be a shame not to. There is a huge cathedral located in the middle of this one and the campus’s architectural concept is sort of old meets new so it was modern yet classic. Forgive me if I speak as though I know a lot about architecture because I don’t, I’m just trying to explain, lol. It was also swarming with pretty Korean girls so guys would either shy away feeling very out of place or be very much in heaven. The area is also filled with street food for a cheaper price than Myeongdong and so we bought a huge Gye-ran Bbang (or egg bread) for 1,000 won (around RM 3) to try. Also located nearby is Bulbap (translated as fiery rice), a restaurant famous for its affordable spicy dishes. It was soooooo good. Please believe me when I say my family would do another trip to Seoul just to eat here again. They make this huge sizzling wok of spicy noodle with Tteokbokki, then when you’re done they use the same wok to cook fried rice with the leftover spicy soup right in front of you. We basically ate the scraps out of it.

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4. Itaewon/ Gyeongnidan-gil Street

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If you’re a  cafĂ©-hopping person, this would be the place for you. This particular street has a very hipster vibe with street arts and quaint cafĂ©s. Grab a Street Churros located at the beginning of the street!

5. Yeouido

Yeouido is a large island in the Han River, where situated is the Yeouido Park, Yeouido Hangang Park (yes they’re two different parks), 63 Building (a gold-clad skyscraper with 63 floors), KBS Studio, and lots of financial building. I was a bit ambitious with the planning thinking we could walk from KBS to the Hangang Park but Yeouido is much bigger than I thought lol. Nonetheless, we got a free tour of KBS On, an exhibition hall for all things KBS and took a picture with a full-sized panel of Song Joong Ki. #betterthannothing. Took a subway to the Hangang Park (which was swarming with couples on bicycles, couples on Segways, couples on hover-boards, couples on a picnic, …you get the picture.) and took a ride aboard the Hangang River Cruise! This is totally great when your legs are giving out and the sun is setting. The view is amazing, the wind in your hair is amazing, and taking a break from walking is amazing.

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Aboard the cruise with sunset in view.

6. Nami Island (Namiseom)

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Nami Island is away from Seoul and is actually to the further west of Korea in Chuncheon, Gangwon-do, which required a bit more of a planning for transportation. The recommended route (from all the travel blogs) is to take the ITX-Chuncheon (from Cheongyangni Station in Seoul) to Gapyeong Station, and then take the tour bus to Nami Island. You can actually hop on and off the tour bus which takes you to not only Nami Island but also Petite France, Garden of the Morning Calm, and other tourist destinations in the area provided that you allocated your time of the day wisely. If you only wanna go to Nami Island though, you can take a taxi from Gapyeong Station instead of a tour bus which will be cheaper.

Nami Island is more than just a Winter Sonata experience, in my opinion. The whole island is really scenic and picturesque because of its beautiful trees and ponds, with points of attractions at various parts such as wooden cafĂ©s, performance stages, exhibition halls, etc. There are snack bars, restaurants, and cute shops as you walk along which really appeals to me. Even if it’s not winter, I bet the experience is as pleasant with greenery and blooming flowers during autumn.

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Of course a touristy shot is necessary.

7. Petite France

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This was actually more of a French experience lol but it’s famous as the filming site of ‘My Love from the Star’ and also Running Man. It’s more of a photoshoot experience around the place, with a few cafĂ©s and souvenir shops. Most of the buildings are actually open to visitors for exhibitions (such as a creepy space full with Annabelle-like dolls in glass cases) and tower views. There are also puppet shows scheduled at the amphitheater, which was a bit creepy but interesting… if you like those sort of thing. A must-do is buying a small cloth from the ticketing counter at the entrance for 500 won (around RM1.50) to fill up with stamps located around the place and redeem free postcards from the counter once you’re done collecting at least 6 different stamps. Then you get a stamped cloth and postcards as souvenirs plus a Running Man-like mission experience. Pretty worth it.

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The view from atop a tower.

8. Royal Palaces + Hanbok Experience

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My very adorbs sister.

Palace hopping was, as expected, a really fun, albeit tiring, and culturally enriching experience. You can actually get an integrated pass  for access to 5 royal sites in Seoul (Gyeongbokgung, Changdeokgung, Changgyeonggung, Deoksugung, and Jongmyo Shrine) for a price of 10,000 won per person, valid for a month. For some divine reason, the day I planned for palace-hopping, Chuseok, happened to be a day where they announced that everyone is allowed to enter all palaces for free. I didn’t actually planned for us to visit all the 5 places and entrance fees are actually quite cheap for one or two palaces, but still – thank You, Jesus! We didn’t get to visit all of them in a day, so it was spread out over two days, the second day where entrance fees are charged, but if you wear a hanbok it’s free… so we rented hanboks like all other tourists. Yep.

Forgive me for the long and confusing explanation. I do realize that we should’ve quickly hopped all the palaces in one day for free but considering the operating hours, it was really more feasible to spread out over two days to have a full appreciation of the palaces. And the wearing the hanbok was fun… until I spent half an hour of walking in it. If I were to plan again, visiting Deoksugung and Gyeongbokgung would suffice, unless you want to see the Secret Garden (which is charged a different fee) in Changdeokgung. Forgive me if I sound less than enthusiastic, but they pretty much look almost the same after awhile lol. But still worthwhile lah.

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At the Gyeonghoe-ru Pavilion in Gyeongbokgung.

9. Bukchon Hanok Village

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So we actually visited the Bukchon Hanok Village on Chuseok as well because it was between two palaces, which led to the insufficient time for a complete hop of all the palaces for free… we could’ve visited the village another day because it’s free all year long, I know, I’m dumb. But you can learn from my mistake so… you’re welcome. Apparently this was one of the must-visits due to its historically-rich architecture. I pity the residents there, though. Even with all the warning signs to not be noisy, tourists are just tourists. Besides the village itself, the shops surrounding the area was awesome and filled with food destinations. From there I ticked off macaron ice-cream sandwich, hot-teok, and others off my list of snacks to try. Tongin Market was near Gyeongbokgung, but still we weren’t willing to walk that distance so… please let me know of your experience if you happen to successfully visit it.

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Yassss to huge macaron ice-cream sandwich.

10. N Seoul Tower (Namsan Tower)22d4a2e5-ae20-42ab-987f-74cf133a1c67.jpg

I have to warn you beforehand to not visit the tower during public holidays. Just don’t do it. Especially at night. Not if you want to take line up for hours for the cable car and then another hour for the tower itself. Please also note that there are other cheaper and less time-consuming ways to go up the tower like a bus or a taxi, rather than the cable car ride which is likely to force you to cram together like a human sardine can anyways. No matter how romantically it is portrayed, DON’T FALL FOR IT.

Now that you’re warned, I’m pretty sure visiting the tower during off-peak hours would be pleasant (I did not post this to give a bad review, anyway).The love-lock area was actually not atop the tower, so if you just want to visit that you can skip paying for the tower’s entrance fee. But since you’re already there so why not, right. Anyhow, it did provide a nice panoramic view of Seoul.

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So that sums up the top 10 highlights from our Seoul trip. We actually visited other places such as Cheongyecheon Stream, Dongdaemun, the World Cup Stadium, Hongdae, the National Museum of Seoul, Gangnam, and Some Sevit (Hangang Floating Island), and they weren’t listed here not because they weren’t interesting, but because those visits were either just one of the stops in a very packed day or we made a brief visit and did not do much there. But it was all-in-all a very fun-filled trip, thank God for the good weather and mostly smooth travels!

Plucking Grapes

Let’s skip the explanations on why I haven’t been writing much to suddenly posting this, because nobody wants to hear excuses, and neither do I.

How am I doing, you ask? Very well, thank you. Although my official status would be ‘plucking grapes’ (you Malaysians should know this joke – I wish I was really plucking grapes though, like somewhere in Australia, it would be so much fun), I cannot necessarily say that I find it boring. Well, it is somewhat, but I compare myself to people constantly complaining about their jobs (and it’s like 90% of people I know – 10% are still studying – word) and I cannot help but force myself to take it slow and make the most out of my time gap between graduating and working (and making it as long lasting as possible) before I get thrown into the cold, dark pit of what they call the corporate world *shivers*.

What have I been up to, you ask? Not much, but doesn’t that fulfill the goal of taking a chill pill? Okay, I am actually supposed to be preparing for further study and even going on a real short-term mission trip on my own before furthering my studies… but plans don’t always work out, and that’s okay. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. It has been a bit of a disappointment, but I’m so used to disappointments that this is kinda meh. How am I dealing with it? Well, some people would buy a plane ticket to somewhere far away to cope and escape reality for a while, but if you’re like me and you’re a penniless grape-plucker (which is the reason why my plans didn’t work out in the first place), you lie in bed every morning thinking about what you can do for the day besides eat and then at night, stare at the ceiling wondering if death by long-term inactivity is possible.

“You’re lying!”, you accuse of me. “Didn’t you just came back from that trip?” Sigh. Yes, I did. I wasn’t lying, though. When I’m not on trips (which are sponsored by my parents who are also on those trips with me) that’s just what I do at home. You see, being unemployed, every single thing you attempt to do reduces your bank balances. Staying at home minimizes spending. So it’s really down to whether you wanna be bored or more broke than you already are. But actually there is a whole lot you can do at home, as I have discovered. You can draw and paint (I’m not kidding), binge watch a whole lot of dramas, play computer/mobile games, read a ton of books (this is really a good way to pass time, btw), watch food channels (I’m a fan of the program Unique Sweets, but watch with caution – it makes you crave for donuts and ice cream sandwiches), watch movies (basically the TV is your best companion), kill mosquitoes and flies (my average per day is at least 1 mosquito – I consider myself a superhero, really), read articles and just reflect on life… or not.

It sounds pretty sad when put that way (especially the killing mosquitoes part, lol), but I also have been spending time with people, okay… as much as my pocket allows me to. Sorry if I declined your invite to hang out, it’s just my pocket isn’t co-operating, you’d understand, right? Right? Sigh. In all seriousness, it’s kind of disconcerting how uncertain the future holds and that none of my plans worked out, but it is what it is and I guess God has something else in mind. Meanwhile I shall continue to wait and perhaps finally decide to start working eventually.

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Here’s a picture of the view from Skypark, Marina Bay Sands where I did not spend a dime at. Yay me.

Hello There.

If this is your first time visiting this page and wondering what on earth is this blog about, well I’m wondering the same thing too. But blogging is a good way to waste time and rant just about anything without really creating much of a commotion like some other social media platforms, and even better when only a certain people bother to read these things eh? So I guess we’ll see where this takes me and hopefully it doesn’t stay as dry (i.e. 10 posts in a year) as my previous blog.

Speaking of my previous blog, if you’re directed here from my old blog (this is not a fake link which leads you to some cash prize scam, so feel free to click it… or maybe don’t), doesn’t this look much cleaner and aesthetically more pleasing? Lol. Yeah, that was the whole point of moving from there to here, really. Who knows, I might get motivated to post more often. #excuses

Oh, and the title of my blog should give a bit of insight about the future content of the blog – Metamorphosis, as explained above, is the caterpillar-turning-into-butterfly process. My name (Vanessa) is actually the name of a genus of brush-footed butterflies. Ignoring the fact that my mum named me after an insect, I would like to think that I’m in the metamorphosis process for humans, where God is molding me into the person He wants me to become. So in other words, this will be my attempt at journaling about God’s grace in my life. Having kept a personal journal, I found that this practice have helped deepened my joy in the present. I couldn’t have put it better in words than this article when it said “There is always more going on in us and around than we can appreciate at the time. Journaling is a way of slowing life down for just a few moments, and trying to process at least a sliver of it for the glory of God, our own growth and development, and our enjoyment of the details”. And by making some of my journals public here, I hope to share this joy with you and maybe even entertain you with my occasional embarrassing moments. Occasional being an understatement.

I should get back to completing my assignments.