on firm ground

If you feel like you’re losing everything, remember that trees lose their leaves every year and they still stand tall and wait for better days to come. — Unknown

It was almost this time last year that I made the decision to change the course of my life.

After indulging myself in 2 carefree years of living in the big city, it came the time for me to move back home. Two years of my life was packed in boxes and suitcases with most of it being carefully wrapped in bubble wrap, and shipped home.

I have since settled back in the familiarity. But looking at the life we are leading now, where exactly am I?

Just when we are supposed to be recovering, our state suddenly became the worst affected state in the country with an alarmingly rising Covid cases daily since late September. It is no longer safe to be out and about as the spread is out of control, and frightening. Masks have become a necessity, washing and sanitising hands is non-negotiable and social distancing is a way of life. I lose count of how many times I sanitise my hands in a day at work.

I got an exciting new job after I moved back but only managed to run the hotel for a month and a half before our country went into a partial lockdown in mid-March. Our hotel was closed a week later after the last guest checked out and it is still closed today for cost-minimisation. There is no guarantee if we will still be employed in a few months’ time.

For a hotelier who is used to having a busy work schedule daily and dealing with many challenges for both the front and heart of the house on regular basis, I have become restless working in a never-before-seen quiet workplace. Ironically, I rested well and had time to catch my breath at the beginning of the partial lockdown (previous blog a season of rest) but now I am trying to cope with restlessness.

So how do we make ourselves useful at work? The unoccupied guestrooms are checked and cleaned daily to ensure there are no damages caused by condensation, public area sanitised and the pool cleaned regularly, air-conditioning run periodically and defects fixed accordingly. In short, I am in property management now which I hope it is only a temporary reassignment.

Having more time off from work than ever before does not equate to having the freedom to roam around or cross borders. My best friend cum travelling companion and I will have a glimpse of the possibility of travelling abroad probably not until 2022.

How to keep myself occupied during my off days, be it paid or unpaid takes creativity, literally. I use the time to indulge in my various craft projects and find joy and fulfilment in challenging the creative part of my grey cells.

To the amazement of my family and friends, I carve out part of my abundance of free time to watch Chinese dramas, something I was never associated with. To improve on my Chinese, I told them to their gobsmacked faces, cheekily. And I also hope that in time, my Korean phrases too with the exposure to K-dramas will expand beyond “annyeonghaseyo” and “kamsahamnida”.

Having a sit-down and unhurried dinner is no longer a deprived luxury for a hotelier like me when I now get to leave work on time. I have not improved much on my cooking skill, which I shamefully admit but I counter that with putting in the effort and heart for the preparation of my meals for one. During this time, home-grown vegetables and home-cooked meals from my parents and friends have never meant so much or been appreciated more. The love in action truly warms the heart!

I love my family and friends from a distance. I have been staying away from my elderly parents to keep them safe. I see them through my car window and talk through the muffling mask when I drop by and we talk daily on the phone. I was on the phone with my 10-year-old nephew earlier today; listening to him and gauging his demeanour from his tone of voice and what we talked about, I was almost shocked to realise how much he has grown over the months since our last physical get together in the beginning of the year.

The cold digital world that I used to complain about has become our lifeline to ensure we are still connected to the world. My friends, near and afar and I, in addition to our text messages and phone calls, video-call occasionally to keep each other sane and to send our love virtually.

So, where am I now?

I am still here.

I am right here, standing, on firm ground.

This year of living life differently has put me on a demanding learning curve. My life lessons involve learning to be —
joyful even on some lacklustre days or days in isolation;
thankful for having the time to enjoy the little and simple things in life;
strong for myself and the people who are counting on me;
grateful for every day;
hopeful in the face of uncertainties, and
to remain faithful to the One who gives me the peace that is unlike what the world gives, so that my heart is not troubled and I am not afraid (John 14:27).

Hope you are too standing, standing strong and staying safe.

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