What a chef taught me about life

He didn’t teach me how to cook - he taught me how to live.

No matter how each city presents its unglamorous side (homeless encampments throughout the city, the unbearable stench of urine on sidewalks, displays of neuroticism, widespread smashed windows and car break-ins), there is always a redemptive factor or two. For me I found it in daily writing meetups in this city and the wonderful people who chooses to devote several hours of their day to come together and hunker down on their projects collectively. 

I met Bernard, a chef, in a writing meetup in San Francisco. He taught me a big lesson about life.

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It's not the end: Neither are you

Close to 800,000 people die from suicide every year. That is one person every 40 seconds. Suicide is a global phenomenon and occurs throughout the lifespan. But here’s a hope, a silver lining: we are not predetermined at birth. Nothing is fixed, not at birth, not during childhood. It's how we think, behave, adapt and change that determines how we get on in life. Our brains are constantly changing, we are constantly evolving. We can change every second, minute, day.

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Your demons don’t always win

In this sixth article I’m writing on the topic of the rise of loneliness and depression as a societal malaise and proposing solutions for it, I highlight outstanding individuals who have lived through and triumphed over depression to achieve great successes in life, often to the bewilderment of their closest friends and kin who wonder, how do you do that with depressive disorder? This is so we are aware that our demons don’t always win. We always have an upper hand when we take control of our situations, no matter how dark and bleak.

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Ramblings from London

Communication begets information and knowledge. We speak to and communicate with one another in order to learn more about each other. Both in verbal and written form. I’m no different. I have an insatiable need to communicate my thoughts and ideas to as many people around me as possible. Here are some, from the land of the Queen.

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In awe of women

At a recent business conference, a successful female CEO told the crowd, “If Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Brothers and Sisters, we wouldn’t have gotten into the mess of 2008.” The audience laughed uncomfortably, but it’s true. From the COO of Facebook to the woman who runs the largest ridesharing platform in the world to the first openly gay Prime Minister, these women hold us in awe of their rise to power and prominence.

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You Are Not Alone and Other Poems

Between the years 2009 and 2019, I wrote many journals and several poems, here are 3 selected poems I dug out from my archives as well as a recently written one I’d like to share with you. The poems echo a heartfelt prose of aloneness, beauty of nature and lost love.  

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Angeline TanpoemsComment
23 Things You May Or May Not Know About Glaciers

Proximity, or being in the very midst of a situation creates a sense of connectedness, belonging, and urgency. It’s natural not to feel the urgency of people, situation and matters we’re not in close proximity with. A natural catastrophe happening in a distant continent thousands of miles away from you is less likely to raise your alarm and concern as an earthquake that happens 10 miles from where you live would. We’ve heard that global warming affects all of us, but until we live right in the very midst (or close enough to) where glaciers are melting and water level are rising and threatening to drown our modern village, we probably think that it is someone else’s problem.

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Loneliness, Depression: Matters of the heart

One too many failed attempts in making friendships or relationships work doesn’t mean we stop trying. A toddler learning to walk knows not to give up trying - he takes a couple of baby step, fumbles and tumbles, gets back up on his feet, takes more steps forward, fumbles and tumbles some more, gets back up again, and keeps at it until he’s walking steadily. A baby doesn’t give up - why should we, as adults, give up when we fail in one or more areas of our life?

In this fifth installment on the topic of the rise of depression and loneliness and what we can do about it, I draw from personal experience to present this point: if we view life setbacks as mere temporal stops, that could just be the breakthrough we need in battling our lowest moments.

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Loneliness, Depression: Change Your Environment

It’s easy to talk the talk, it ain’t easy to walk the walk. This is especially so for a depressed person to get out of the funk - it’s so much easier to say, oh you can do it, just get out of it, but for the sufferer, it’s a real debilitating issue which he or she has little control over.

In this fourth installment, I propose certain foods to eat and activities to do to boost a downcast spirit but the real butt-kicker is this, you gotta hit rock bottom and be so desperate you can’t help but to move out of your current predicament into a position of change.

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Gluten-free, intermittent fasting, meatless

I refrain from writing about my personal practice of gluten-free, intermittent fasting and meatless eating firstly because I’m not religious about it, i.e. I don’t practice it strictly (especially when I visit family and friends in Singapore and Malaysia) so I can’t make a full advocacy for it, and secondly and more importantly, I recognize that a gluten-free, intermittent fasting and meatless eating it is not for everyone; in fact, no one diet or method of eating should be recommended for everyone.

Whether you’re reading this article or any other articles by anyone concerning their meal or diet preferences, take what that person has to say either at face value or with a pinch of salt. Don’t listen, follow or adopt blindly. Figure out what works for you and what don’t. Even if an idea is the best in the world, but if it’s gonna cost you an arm and a leg to do it, turn your world upside down, break your bank or cause riffs between your family, spouse, loved ones or friends and you, is it worth it? Perhaps not. So you be the best judge for how you live and run your world.

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The pill isn't the solution. Social connection is

Every year we see an increase in depression among teenagers in America and around the world. If depression was something that happens in the brain, caused by chemicals including serotonin and a lack of dopamine, then why is it that higher doses of drugs could not alleviate the situation? Why are people increasingly depressed despite taking medication? To echo the words of Henry David Thoreau, “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation”, it’s more true now than ever, people are more disconnected from their fellow men.

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Angeline TanComment
The power of showing up and journaling

There is something tremendously powerful about showing up for what you decide you would show up for. The natural human tendency is to stick to a comfort zone and, to put it bluntly, to be lazy. When I make it a point to show up, I kill my natural human tendency for creating excuses.

I’m an expressionist. I have this insatiable need to express myself. I’ve found my journal to be my best therapist, a most faithful listener and companion who is present rain or shine, snow or drought. My journal neither judges nor despises me. My journal listens, accepts and loves me no matter if I’ve been good or bad. And it’s cheaper than a cup of coffee.

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Loneliness, depression is on the rise. What is the solution?

Depression and loneliness is on the rise. What can we do about this malady?

Does lifelong connection to our tribe reduce or eliminate depression or does it not? How much does nature or nurture contribute to depression?

When we move away from our birth family and form our own, can we engage new tribes with shared values that we could proudly belong to and continue to thrive individually and collectively?

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The Reader

“Teach a child to read, that you may set the foundation for an empathetic and impactful human being.” -Angeline Tan.

A writer is first and foremost a reader. You ain’t building a skyscraper till you lay a solid and deep foundation. For all the pain my father inflicted me growing up, he did one thing well, and really well - he made sure there were no lack of book in our house. He would rather his children hungry than to go without books in our home. And for that, I thank him.

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