Adulting 101

•August 15, 2016 • Leave a Comment

MTMwNDAxMjAxMDAxOTA4MjM0I just got engaged a month ago and my 26th birthday is now around the corner, and as I reflect on my 20s and the journey I’ve gone through thus far, I realise that there’s still a lot of ‘adulting’ I have yet to come around to. Things like understanding the step-by-step process of doing your taxes (mine gets magically sent off by my colleague), how to properly organise your expenses (I keep the occasional serious receipt), how to start saving (should I already have an investment portfolio going??), and all that other good ol’ grown-up shit.

So, as a present to myself, I’ve decided to dedicate a series of posts to “Adulting” (which is really just knowing how to Google things right?); in the hopes that by the time I finish my mid-20s, I’ll feel fairly confident that I’m not shirking off the do-or-die duties of making it out alright in life. I’m hoping that you, whoever you are, will find some use of these posts and that we can become comrades in our journey to becoming grown-up…er. And, if you are reading this and have already mastered these adult-ways in which they neglect to teach you in college, well, I hope you can chime in with your own wise words by leaving a comment below. Seriously… I think we could all use the help!

So anyway, back to Adulting 101. With this introductory post, I will conclude with the four P’s I follow for making life easier:

  1. It’s all about Perspective – one of the things that I personally practice whenever life gives me lemons is to try and find the positive perspective out of the situation, no matter how dire and sour. I like to approach life with “you win and you learn,” you only lose if you don’t learn from whatever happened. I learned this outlook at an Anthony Robbin’s seminar I attended when I was 16 (Tiger Mom sent me, ’nuff writ). He dimmed the lights and had us all close our eyes and relive the most difficult and tragic memory we had ever experienced. Mine, undoubtedly, went back to the night we got the call that my father passed. That night changed me, my family and our collective lives forever. Reliving it was hard enough, then Tony had us start looking at that same experience through different perspectives, then at different timelines. We were to keep on changing it until finally, we found some good from that experience. In my own case, the positive that came from my father’s death is that it forced my entire family to live in the same house and, after a few rough years, we became closer than we ever were and ever could be. Some days I can get really depressed on thinking of how life could have been, but letting go of “What ifs” and changing your perspective to live and love the ‘now,’ is the best thing you can do for yourself and your sanity… Moving on.
  2. Remember your Priorities – the next time you don’t have time for a family day outing or for the gym (or whatever is ‘you’ time) , instead of saying “I don’t have time for it,” try saying: “it’s not my priority,” and see if that changes how you organise your schedule. It’s important to keep your priorities in check and to make time for them. I know that the higher up you get in the corporate ladder, the more responsibilities you take on and the less time you can allocate to ‘me’ or ‘family’ time. However, remember what truly matters to you in life… think of it as your thesis statement and your actions as the body paragraph of your essay. Your actions and your timetable should reinforce and highlight your priorities and principles in life.
  3. Stick to your Principles – staying true to your principles no matter how many times you’ve been put down, talked shit about or snubbed out is crucial. I completely agree with Katherine Henson when she wrote, “having a soft heart in a cruel world is courage, not weakness.” It takes courage to remain true to your own self and to stick to your values. If you are a radiant person who likes to inspire people with their smile, keep on smiling. If you are a work-out enthusiast who likes to share their routine and progress, keep on flauntin’! The point is, not everyone is going to like you and not every situation is going to go your way, but sticking to your principles and not changing yourself to suit the needs of others takes both courage and confidence. Stay humble, stay true, stay you.
  4. Don’t take things Personally – it doesn’t matter who you are, at some point, people are going to talk shit on you or try to put you down. I know sometimes it’s hard to shrug it off but please, don’t take it personally. There are people who have their own insecurities and project them on others in order to self-satisfy the sadness they feel about themselves. We all have insecurities and we all deal with them in different ways. Of course, I am completely against people putting others down for any reasons, but I do also understand that we all go through our own stressful times in life and sometimes aren’t aware of how we are dealing with them. Friends can let friends know when they’re doing this and hopefully things will change and remember, try not to take things personally.

Well! There you have it guys, the intro post to Adulting 101. I hope you enjoyed reading this and please do leave comments below for your own pointers of what you’ve mastered over your years of ‘growing up.’Also, if any of you are brides or brides-to-be, please leave any tips and pointers for me!

Thanks and until the next post,

Samantha xx

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A Tribute to Mom

•August 6, 2016 • 1 Comment

How do you thank the woman who brought you into this world? How do you let her know how much you appreciate her? I always get so lost in what gift my mom would want for her birthday, because to tell you the truth, nothing will ever be good enough in my eyes. She deserves nothing short of Versailles, with clouds at her feet, a magic carpet for a ride and my father by her side… but unfortunately, I can’t provide her with any of these things. All I can give is my unwavering love and loyalty to her everyday, my promise that one day I will have all my shit together, and to shower her in ravishingly dazzling words that, at least to me, resonate more than material things.

My gifts have always tended to revolve around writing or photos, from family powerpoints to poems to letters, and I’m afraid this will be something similar, a post in tribute to the strongest woman I know, Sophia Chu Vaughn, my mother.

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My mother’s story is a tale of epic proportions, that would bring even the meanest to his knees and the toughest to tear. I won’t go into detail right now, because that’s a memoir-to-be-in-the-making for a later time, but I will disclose what I have seen this unshakeable woman, who I am beyond proud (and a little bit intimidated) to call my mother, do. I’ve seen her lose the love of her life, and then within that one phone-call have to transform from a stay-at-home mom into a mother/father of four. I’ve seen her put up with my siblings and my unscrupulous, never-ending, juvenile bullshit; and still tuck us in at night and help us decipher our problems. I’ve watched her never give up loving and supporting every single one of our dreams, no matter how silly an idea or situation may have seemed. I’ve seen her keep her poise while watching her own mother suffer her last few months of life, and still keep the family and home together… In short, she’s not the rock in our family, but the Atlas to our world.

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So I’m sure you can understand where I’m coming from when I say it’s intimidating to have such a special soul to be your mother. How can I give back/be the daughter she deserves? How do you live up to such great heights? Well momma, you taught me to never compare myself to others, so I will naturally take your word and try not to compare myself to your GAF (gangster as f***) self. All I can tell you though, mommy dearest, my core, my Atlas, my mother, my father, my hero, my #1 fan, my everything; I promise one day that I will have my shit together and that I’ll be able to take you on the mother/daughter holiday we’ve always talked about. I promise to always keep my head up, hold the values I’ve grown up with close to my heart and always be your # 1 baby girl. I love you and thank you for being my mother. Choice or not, being your daughter is an honour and I hope to make you as proud of me as I am of you.

To my mother and all the other strong women out there, all hats off to you.

Happy weekend everyone.

Samantha x

CMHK Rebooted

•July 19, 2016 • 1 Comment

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AND I’M BACK! I can’t believe six years have passed since I set up CMHK and five years since my last post… almost every cell in my body has been shed and replaced by new ones. Physically, I’m almost a completely different person, but I’m still a TCK (maybe TCA now?) living in Hong Kong, a testament to my very first post and my pledged love to this city.

I am now an HKU alumnus who’s been in the workforce and paying my taxes for the past three years. I no longer have a typical HKID, but have recently received my permanent residency here… and in bigger news, due to my mother being Chinese, I am about to get my HK passport as well! Too many experiences have been had to digress all the details, but major events have recently played out in my life in the past month in which my love for writing has been reignited and thus, the new launch of CMHK. In memory of my former younger self, I have also tied in my very first post so that those who did not know me or have never read my blog will get the gist of it… the only difference is, is that I plan on giving back more to this beloved city that I have made home. I hope you enjoy the ride!

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Mind Led Body

•May 28, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 Drama… now I know everyone says this but, I’m honestly not one for it. I hate the whole elusive, lets beat around the bush situation, why? Because it drives me absolutely crazy. I’m one for games, but hear me out, I’m talking about CS and Left4Dead, not mind games… I guess maybe that’s why I was never good at Chess, oh wait, never mind I think THAT’s because I just can’t seem to plan ahead. Anyway, the dramatics of the theater have the tendency to turn me from the semi-rational, semi-cool headed bum (aren’t we all semi’s of some sort?) to a crazed firework ready to go off. My hypothesis of my inability to deal with the dramatics derives from the “family meetings” that used to occur when I was a youngin’. These meetings took place once a week and basically everyone told everyone else what they did to piss them off or what they were doing wrong in life. Granted, these usually began civilly and ended with screams and tears but hey, at least they were straight to the point. Anyway, it’s times like these – as in when I feel like my mind/body is going to burst from God knows what – in which I take my frustrations hint and highlight it out of the city to get some peace of mind. Which finally brings me to this post, hiking in Lantau.

Lantau is the largest island in Hong Kong and is about a 20-minute ferry ride from the city. I’ve posted about it once before but to recap, basically this bitch is known for the Big Buddha, Disneyland, the random water buffalo defecating everywhere, the flying fish (amaaazing) and MUCH cheaper rent. Anyway, sometime in March/April a group of friends and I went to go hike to the Big Buddha, you can either hike there, take the cable car or take the bus. Anyway, we opted to hike to the Buddha but… of course we ended up on a crickety old yes-you-can bus that took us all the way there.

Photo Cred: Oli

Now I must say, as shameful as it is, this was the first time that I really, and I mean really, got to see the Big Buddha. The last time I went we hiked two mountains (baller I know) and ended up at the Buddha to my surprise… but by then we were too tired, too sweaty and too hungry to care to go up the stairway-to-Buddha, so instead we opted to glance at it while bee-lining it straight to the bus.

Photo Cred: Oli

This time, however, I was able to bask in all of its 112-ft glory and actually be a tourist for a while. Now I could lie and tell you that it was a spiritual experience which changed my life but… it wasn’t. By the time I walked up the stairs, circled the statue once and checked out the gift shop I was already craving a smoke. But what was a life-altering experience was what came after. So we had a complete fail in our attempts to hike up to the Buddha but thankfully we were able to hike our way out of there.

In life, it’s usually the After that counts, and this was no exception. The hike was a bit harsh on my poor lungs and lack of muscle but the experience was amazing. The weather was pretty dreary that day so the sky was gray and the breeze was perfect. When we got to the top of Lantau Peak it was honestly like we were in another world… or  just living in a cloud. You literally couldn’t see anything else because of the smog, you could feel the water in the air and if you inhaled with your mouth open while the winds were blowing at you, well it felt like life was trying to resuscitate you from your wearies… in a giggly way of course.

Photo Cred: Oli

But it really is here where you’ll find peace – although I’m not too sure if I’d find the experience the same with beautiful clear blue skies. I think what really made it a peace of mind experience was the fact that the world just seemed blank. There was nothing to look at but the grayness and nothing to do but reflect. Reflecting on one’s life on top of a mountain with complete silence is completely different from one’s room with the constant city’s construction going on, and it was just what I needed at that point of time (and now really) to get through what I was going through. There’s something about total and utter silence that sometimes scares me, but at that point it was a welcoming emptiness that I allowed to envelope me whole. Not that I’m going to go on about my soul searching uplifting moment but honestly, if you feel like you need to escape out of this madness we call life and do a little soul searching of your own, hike to Lantau Peak on an overcast day and just disappear into your own mind.

Photo Cred: Oli

Anne Stevenson – Vertigo

Mind led body, to the edge of the precipice.

They stared in desire, at the naked abyss.

If you love me, said mind, take that step into silence,

If you love me, said body, turn and exist.

S xx

All Monkey Business

•May 16, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I seem to go vertigo when summer arrives in Hong Kong. Yes, the knowledge that stress of procrastinated deadlines are now over does give my soul a sense of calm, but not having a proper schedule to follow during the day can leave me in a dark and depressive state. That sense that you have no place in the universe or are not contributing just leaves me with a hollowed, empty feeling inside. So this summer I’ve taken the necessary precautions to prevent this and have been filling my days with more outdoor activities. Thankfully, I have  met some amazing friends who I have been able to share these experiences with, from finally visiting Big Wave to monkeying around at Monkey Mountain.

Photo Cred: Oli

Which brings us to today’s post: Monkey Mountain. If you live in Hong Kong, you may have heard about this magical mountain where, for reasons unbeknownst to me, the local monkeys dwell. I’ve lived here for almost three years, but for some reason never managed to make it up there. However, sometime last month, we finally made the plans that I thought would only exist in my head into a reality. We were originally meant to go for an 8am Sunday hike in Lantau, but due to our desire to continue the Saturday night party, we decided to change up the plans – skip the butt-crack-of-dawn hike and instead opt for Monkey Mountain in the afternoon.

We took the MTR to Prince Edward Station where we were then supposed to catch a bus to Lion Rock Country Park (where ‘Monkey Mountain’ is located). I don’t know if it was either due to our lack of brain cells from the previous night’s debauchery or just possibly our inability to properly read bus signs, but we managed to score  some beer and not the bus. So we ended up taking a cab up to the park, which between the five of us, only cost about HK $7 each.

Photo Cred: Nigel

You can tell when you’ve arrived because it’s hard to miss the abundance of monkeys just chilling, they’re abso-fucking-lutely everywhere. Mind you, they might be cute little buggers but they are vicious! I’d recommend not bringing any food in plastic bags because these monkeys have been conditioned like Pavlov’s dogs, just the slightest sound of a plastic bag crinkle will have their ears perk, their mouths water and their posture go into attack mode.

Photo Cred: Nigel

After taking a while to trip out at the fact that we were hanging out with monkeys, we ended up walking through one of the trails the Park had that led us into the wild. The path basically circled this large lake/reservoir that looked refreshing to jump into, that is until you saw all of the waste collected on the shore – word to the wise, unless you want to emerge with an extra limb, you might want to skip the skinny dipping. Overall, it was just an amazing day to escape the city noise and chill with the Rafikis of Hong Kong… although by chill, I mean keeping my distance and sprinting away from any angry looking mothers – you can identify these females beasts by their insane nipples… but let’s not get into that subject right now because that’s a whole other story.

Photo Cred: Oli

The overall experience itself was surreal, seeing as that I don’t think every person can answer the question, “Hey, what’d you do today?” with a nonchalant: “Oh, just went to Monkey Mountain, drank beers while dodging attacks with some monkeys.” So I definitely do plan on making another trip up to Monkey Mountain, however that might have to wait for some cooler weather, the thought of all of that monkey shit sitting in the sun does not seem very appealing to my nose. But who knows, maybe those sneaky bastards have mastered their own lavatory system. Either way, I recommend anyone who wants to pay a trip to their childhood Lion King Rafiki fantasy to go. Whether you decide to go alone or with friends, you’ll definitely have some fun but dangerous company at this tourist site.

Till the next outdoor adventure,

S xx

Here Say Hearsay

•April 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So it’s been four months since my lazy ass wrote my last blog post, absolute fucking hearsay I know, and all I can say is… mah bad.

I guess it’s hard to come back on track when you’ve let yourself go for so long, and no I’m not just talking about blogging, but the incessant shit in life that we all fall out of. Like growing up and your good habits start to stop and become replaced with bad, toxic habits, or when you stop going to the gym and three months later realize that you can’t seem to fit those jeans over what now is a planet of an ass.

Initially this blog was a way for me to write about life in Hong Kong, thus centering around food, events, shops, etc found in this glorious city. Yet looking back I couldn’t help but notice that my posts seemed to be getting more and more personal, a way for me to vent built-up frustrations that I usually can’t seem to freely communicate verbally.

This is blasphemous and will be put to a stop, so don’t you worry. This post will just be a collage of some of the things that has happened the past few months. A sort of, get-on-track post. No worries though, I’ll be back to blogging that good shit soon, promise.

S xx

A Small Revelation

•December 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Christmas time… Christmas time has become a holiday season where mixed emotions spread within me. While it’s usually the holiday spent with the family, reuniting and recounting old memories, lately mine has been a bit empty. The days leading up to Christmas tend to be the ones most confusing to me, it’s hard to celebrate the holiday and not feel a hollowing guilt. The reason behind this disruptive holiday spirit is because exactly one week before Christmas my father passed away.

Usually I can easily suppress the feeling of nostalgia and depression by surrounding myself with friends, alcohol and hangovers that chain me to my bed. However, since I don’t plan on going out this weekend, nor drink for that matter, it’s been hard to shake the old memories of the pre-devastation days. The days where tragedies only happened in Greek plays and life seemed simple and perfect. It’s crazy how much things can change in a blink of an eye and that it can be in that single second, where someone’s life can just slip away forever.

It’s been nine years since my father passed, yet sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday and I’m back to being the 11-year old girl waiting for her father to meet her for Christmas. I seldom allow myself to recant the exact events that happened when I heard the news, but on some days I let myself remember. Sometimes I feel that memories get the worst of us when we’re alone, it’s only when you can share it with others that you really get to enjoy them. But then again, going through old photos and just reliving the past is a sadistic/masochistic pleasure that I let myself indulge in once in a while. I love looking at old family pictures because they remind me of times when the future didn’t seem scary and life seemed easy. Now that I think of it, maybe life was too perfect to carry on forever, but I didn’t expect it to end the way it did.

But it’s times like this, when I catch myself feeling an intense hatred for the universe and feeling sorry for myself, do I remember all of the amazing and adventurous memories I have. How even if time was cut too short,  and that eleven years is not enough time for a father to teach his daughter all of life’s lessons, I had the best dad anyone could ask for. Some people never get to establish a true relationship with their family, and I know I’m blessed to have had a father who really was my knight in shining armor, my hero. As devastating as it is that such an amazing person can disappear from your life forever through one telephone call, it might have been the only event that could have shaken me to realize what a blessed life I had and still do have, and how lucky I am to have my family.

It’s hard to understand why certain things happen, and it’s easy to feel cheated and blame it on someone or something, but ultimately it’s only ourselves we can blame for how we feel or how we are. We always have a choice, and sometimes it’s easier to choose to feel depressed and wallow over how life dealt you a shitty hand. I know I have the undesirable habit of doing so, but then I write, and life doesn’t seem as blue as before. We all find our solace through different forms, sometimes it can be through destructive habits (I know I have a few), but then again sometimes it can be through simple reflection. All I know is that sometimes music, writing and my family is all the therapy I need to recognize how life is too short to be down in the blues, and that although it’s easy to fall into the enchantment that old photos of a distant past hold, we can choose to be trapped by old memories or, finally let go and just cherish them for what they are, memories. For me, I know it’s time to change and let go, and hopefully, it’s one new years resolution I’ll be able to keep.

S xx