When bad things happen to good people by Harold Kushner

8 06 2010

I enjoyed this book for its honesty and for the fact that it doesn’t trivialize suffering to defend God.

“Belief in a world to come where the innocent are compensated for their suffering can help people endure the unfairness of life in this world without losing faith. But it can also be an excuse for not being troubled or outraged by injustice around us, and not using our God-given intelligence to try to do something about it. The dictate of practical wisdom for people in our situation might be to remain mindful of the possibility that our lives continue in some form after death, perhaps in a form our earthly imagination cannot conceive of. But at the same time, since we cannot know for sure, we would be well advised to take this world as seriously as we can, in case it turns out to be the only one we will ever have, and to look for meaning and justice here“.

Kushner also quoted from Joseph Heller’s book Catch-22 which I think would be a fantastic read! Here goes:

“Good God, how much reverence can you have for a Supreme Being who finds it necessary to include tooth decay in His divine system of creation? Why in the world did He ever create pain?”

“Pain?” Lieutenant Shiesskopf’s wife pounced upon the word victoriously. “Pain is a useful symptom. Pain is a warning to us of bodily dangers.”

“And who created the dangers?” Yossarian demanded. “Why couldn’t he have used a doorbell to notify us, or one of His celestial choirs? Or a system of blue-and-red neon tubes right in the middle of each person’s forehead?”

“People would certainly look silly walking around with red neon tubes in the middle of their foreheads.”

“They certainly look beautiful now writhing in agony, don’t they?”


Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E Frankl

2 04 2010

Some quotes from the book.. in which Viktor Frankl shares about his experience in the Nazi concentration camp..

“It is one the of the basic tenets of logotherapy that man’s concern is not to gain pleasure or avoid pain but rather to see a meaning in his life. That is why man is even ready to suffer, on the condition, to be sure, that his suffering has a meaning.”

“What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task. What he needs is not the discharge of tension at any cost but the call of a potential meaning waiting to be fulfilled by him.”

There is meaning in life, despite suffering, despite difficulties. And having seen patients and their families suffer from the impact/progression of illness, I can attest to that. It pains to see how some patients’ lives rage with difficulty after difficulty. But it is also through all that that I come to realize how resilient many of them are. Many are able to tell me “I want to continue living”, “I don’t want to die so early”, “I want to see my children grow up”. There is always meaning to be made/found.

What a privileged job I have to be able to witness all that bravery!

I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t have a conclusion. But I’ll enjoy every moment of it! Thank you for being such a delightful presence in my life.

what hope looks like to me..

29 03 2010

hope, there's hope! (Sunrise in Kollam, India)

meanwhile, gotta work like crazy.

meanwhile, i think about the things i want to do.

before i turn 30, i want to climb a mountain in taiwan.

i want to trek at milford track. i want to learn diving. i want to visit sikkim, darjeeling and nepal. i want to work in taiwan/thailand/china. any of those places are good.

meanwhile, gotta step out and gain exposure.

it’s so upstream. but meanwhile i learn to hope.

what walking the talk now means.

21 03 2010

It means:

– doing research work, specifically data analysis, on weekends.

– reading up on advance care planning in my free time.

– reading up on HIV/AIDS in my free time.

– stepping out of my comfort zone to initiate things at work.

– running twice a week. must stay sane and healthy.

– being home early on at least one weekday.

– learning the basics.. which is more difficult due to the  steep learning curve which is expected in the initial stages.

– being able to speak up, intelligently, coherently and cogently when the need arises.

That does not include meeting up with friends and other personal commitments..etc.

I was inspired and motivated again to be serious in conscientiously working toward my goal.. goal of doing master’s.. after Social Workers’ Day. After hearing from my favourite professor again after 2 years, I sure feel energized!

I feel the need to brush up on my skills and knowledge, the need to do research, the need to read and be disciplined about it. Five years down the road, I don’t want to be a social worker with just practice wisdom and nothing more. I want to know what works, what doesn’t – based on research. I want to know how exactly what I’m doing is making/not making a difference. To me, that is being accountable to my patients and to my employer.

It all feels so daunting. I feel like I’m scaring myself with these goals. But then, when I look around me, I know they’re not impossible to achieve. 2 MSWs have gone to Oxford Uni to study Evidence-Based Practice.. another is going to the States to get her PhD. 1 whom I know personally is still actively doing public education, research etc all at the same time.

I just need to break those goals down into smaller, do-able steps/tasks. And I need to surround myself with brave, passionate people who will correct me and inspire me along the way.

Anyway, I was a brave girl this week. Attended a course on breaking bad news, I volunteered to role-play.. any social worker would know stepping out to role-play the role of a social worker is a challenging thing to do because it exposes your quality of work to the people observing you. I am glad I stepped out. I told myself that I won’t have the right to encourage my future supervisees to be bold if I don’t challenge myself to step out now. 🙂 That’s such a milestone for me because I feel like I’ve stayed far too long in my comfort zone. I feel like I’m getting ready to keep stepping out again!

Walk the talk, Chiam, walk the talk. I hope that this passion will only keep burning stronger with each new experience.


9 03 2010

a quarter of the year is almost gonna be over – can you believe it?


quarter-mark check:

– yea still running. 1-2 times per week.

– rollerblading – not started yet.

– research – still doing.. very slowly.. may start on another project soon. fingers crossed.

– read – yea still reading. read lots in india.

– regret it not – nope. no regrets – did some brave things. happy.

hmm… i feel like i should really get out and start doing more things.. like volunteer.. or maybe try out overseas volunteering. oh wait. i’m planning to adopt a child. 🙂 i want to work/study overseas in the near future. perhaps taiwan/states or somewhere. shall build on my current work first.

the possibilities are large!

the warmth of Christmas :)

25 12 2009

this is a very, very special Christmas 🙂

things were looking pretty dark months ago but i am finally seeing some light and positive changes.

i’m enjoying the warmth of family relationships, also had the privilege to know some close friends much better, felt the stability of my slightly-more-than-a-decade-long friendship with my precious secondary school friends.. ah. the specialness of it all.

another desire of the heart fulfilled has got to be in the area of work.

it has got to be the shooting stars and the grace of God. i feel humbled and special at the same time.

great to feel refreshed!

21 09 2009

i had a great weekend of having lunch with my bro, meeting up with the smart4some girls and the favouritest, taking a walk in bukit timah with neo and planning for taiwan.

oh i also planted some seeds for a new plant. ha, it takes quite a bit of faith to plant new seeds. after i covered the seeds with a layer of soil, i kept digging back to make sure they are ‘ok’. i think i was afraid they might disappear or disintegrate into the soil? anyhow, it somehow represents hope of a new beginning.

Feeling happy that i had a fulfilling weekend.

Some goals for this week: Balance is the word!

1. complete some backlog, set up an interview.

2. go blade on sat.

3. run twice this week.

i hope not to let the amount of work to be done overwhelm me!