EIGHT YEARS ON

Walking back from Jon's house one late night aged thirteen, I asked you if you wanted to live to see your grandchildren. Your soft blue eyes filled with tears and you promised me again, your warm whiskey breath steaming up the cold seaside air, that you'd try to change.
 

Six years later, your first grandchildren were born and you'd been in your urn for fifteen months already.
 

Today is December 7th, 2017. That makes it eight years ago today that Mum ran into my room at 3am, her long black hair wet and strewn over her face. A primal crying and gasping I'd never heard before, telling me you'd had a bleed on your brain and that we'd be called back soon to hear whether or not they could operate.


For the next half an hour, with every second that ticked on the living room clock, the walls felt tighter and the ceiling felt lower.
 

As we now know, you died somewhere you shouldn't have been, a seven-hour drive from home somewhere that didn't deserve you. Every day I breathe in, forgive, breathe out and release.

 

What makes it just fine is that you're not gone. You're here in every inch of my being.


You're the warm shower water hitting the sweet spot on the back of my neck because you used to tell me "it warms up your whole body". You're the oohs and aahs in my head as I watch the fireworks on a November night. You're the one that stops me biting off clothing tags with my teeth because it's not good for them.

You're every sunrise, me sat on the floor, you spinning the model globe around explaining how day and night work.

You're the confidence nurtured from day one that I can be anything I put my mind to.

 

Your hugs taught me that a father's love is irreplaceable.

Your openness taught me you weren't always right.

The freedom you gave me taught me to thrive on my own.

The freedom you gave me taught me that children need an appropriate level of safeguarding and supervision, otherwise a lot can go wrong.

Your tears taught me that fathers are human - that it's okay for men to cry too.

Sending me to the shops alone as a child made me confident in talking with adults.

Sending me back to complain when I was short-changed taught me not to take s*** from anyone.

Your lies taught me to put honesty before my pride because I know how hurtful lies can be.

Your story taught me not to judge others.
 

The corneas of your eyes saved someone else's sight, and taught me to never look at a stranger without love, just in case it's your eyes looking back at me.

 

A ruptured berry aneurysm exacerbated by cirrhosis of the liver.

A time-bomb whose fuse was shortened by poor choices.

I don't blame you. I love you so deeply.

 

Sometimes in the supermarket, I'll detour to the bath aisle and open the cap of a Badedas bubble bath bottle so I can close my eyes and smell you again.

There are a thousand moments I continue to share with you, regardless that your body's form is now no more than settled dust. I just have to visit and I'm here with you, your clammy warm hand cupping mine.

 

It's 2:58am, your next grandchild is kicking me in the womb, and there's no need for me to wish I could turn back the clock eight years. Your death was just another happening, not inherently good or bad. Only my human side, rarely, misses you. My higher side is with you day and night.
 

I carry with me sweet memories and strong lessons, and my sense of contentment comes not from clinging onto these, but from knowing I have the potential to create many more sweet memories, and the potential to learn and teach so many more strong lessons.
 

Thank you, Dad, for raising me in your well-intended, loving, unique way.

Goodnight, sweet dreams and see you at sunrise.

 

More on death here.

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16 TRAVEL SICKNESS TIPS ✈️ 🌏 (PREGNANCY-FRIENDLY)

I have many happy memories of travelling as a child: long plane journeys to visit family in Southeast Asia and kids' clubs at resorts where we tried and failed to learned songs in Spanish. 

When I close my eyes to picture these journeys in planes and cars, my memory conjures up one overpowering smell: the sick bag.
My mother used to pack these thin, orange plastic bags (looking back, I think they were nappy bags) for me to frequently throw up in while we drove around and for plane landings. The smell of that bag made me feel 10x more nauseous every time.

I've had motion sickness as long as I can remember and, with pregnancy making me feel hotter all the time and generally more sensitive to just about everything, I've spent the last few months refining the best ways to combat motion sickness - in my personal experience at least, as I'm sure different techniques work for different people. 

 

(1) TRAVEL BANDS

I can't believe I only discovered these this year! I had no idea they were a form of acupressure and thought they were some sort of placebo and a waste of money. I've been using them since July and, while they didn't work at all for first-trimester nausea, they work quite well for motion sickness. Sometimes I'll feel great with these on and even be able to use my phone in the car. Sometimes they don't work so well and I have to use my other tricks alongside the bands. But I don't lose anything from packing them in my bag while travelling.


(2) COLD WATER

The colder the better. Iced water helped with pregnancy nausea and has always helped with motion sickness. If you have a big keep-cool bottle, that's ideal.
 

(3) SOMETHING ELSE COLD

Maybe a bottle of iced water - to place on your neck, your forehead, your upper legs... if using a bottle of water, don't use the same bottle you're drinking from because it will (a) warm the drinking water and (b) run out throughout the journey as you're sipping on it.


(4) TURN THE AC DOWN

Turn the air conditioning way down - if you hadn't noticed, keeping cool is key. Even in the winter, if I start to feel sick I prefer to have no heating or even get a bit of cold air going.


(5) OPEN THE WINDOWS

If the AC isn't working for you, fresh air and a natural breeze makes it feel less like you're in a stuffy car that you can't escape from. 
 

(6) AVOID EXCESSIVE LIQUID INTAKE

Don't glug loads of liquid, including liquid-heavy foods, before jumping in a car or on a bus. Of course we want to stay hydrated throughout the day, but for me, downing a litre of liquid immediately before being bumped around and swayed from side to side induces  h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e  n-a-u-s-e-a. It's the same feeling I get when I do cardio, drink lots of water and then decide to do sit ups. I regret it by the third sit-up. 
 

(7) CHEWING GUM

Apparently chewing gum helps your sense of balance in the ears (I could google this but I'm just repeating what I've heard right now). Ones with a really punchy, strong menthol flavour also help to take my mind off of  feeling sick.
 

(8) SITTING IN THE FRONT SEAT

If you're a passenger, the front seat is your best option. 
When I'm driving myself, I only feel sick when stuck in a lot of stop-start traffic and, as a front-seat passenger, it feels just slightly worse than being the driver. There's a good clear view in front of the passenger seat, which is optimal for avoiding motion sickness as you can focus with minimal obstruction.
 

(9) CHOOSE YOUR VIEW

If you're in the middle backseat, having a clear view of the front window helps, as having several different focal points can add to the feeling of nausea. For example, if there are big things hanging from the mirror and a phone screen partially blocking the windscreen, these confuse my eyes and I'll feel sick. If I enter a car and see a load of objects blocking the view, I'll make sure to not sit in the middle seat.

If you're sat on one of the other backseats and you're looking out of the side window, stick to it. Recently, I've been experimenting with keeping my gaze just on the side-window view while sat in the backseat, and it's definitely been better than switching my gaze between the front windscreen and the side window. I try to focus my eyes on stuff that's farther away in the distance if possible, as shorter-distance images whizzing by can throw me off and add to the nausea.
 

(10) DON'T LOOK DOWN

Avoid looking anywhere but out of the window while moving: no reading, no looking for stuff in your bag, no checking your mobile. All these things mess up the focal point and make you (or me at least) feel kind of dizzy.
 

(11) WEAR LIGHT LAYERS

In the winter, thick jumpers, scarves and long hair worn loose are some of the worst culprits for making me feel too warm in the car. The initial undress is freezing and horrible, but I know within 5-10 minutes I'll feel nasty if I keep thick layers on, especially if the heating is on.


(12) WEAR NATURAL FABRICS

Wear natural fabrics, such as organic cotton, and less 'sticky'-material clothing. Breathable clothes help to regulate body temperature. I get hot & bothered in anything that sticks to me and start to feel clammy, which adds to the 'blaahhh' feeling - but it's easily avoided by wearing the right clothes!
In cars with leather-style seats, I'd recommend wearing trousers/a long skirt on the legs rather than anything short. Just like the sticky-clothing feeling, legs sticking to seats adds to the feeling of "this is a gross experience and now I feel gross" 😷. 


(13) BUS: STICK TO THE LOWER DECK

Sit on the bottom deck of the bus. If you sit on the top deck, because there's more side-to-side leverage the higher up you are, you'll be swaying side to side more, so you're more likely to feel sick. This happened to me on one of the first few days of high school and I stepped off the bus and threw up the Ribena I'd drunk for breakfast an hour earlier. Lesson learned.
 

(14) TRAIN/BUS: FACE FORWARDS

Sit facing forward on the train/bus - I don't really know why sitting forward is a better option than sitting backwards, but this is what works for me. I guess it helps because the movement is going the same way as are the images in your peripheral vision.
 

(15) PLANE: CHOOSE THE WINDOW SEAT

Sit at the window seat on the plane. I find it best to sit at the window unless the window is in a weird position and you have to strain to see out of it properly. In this case, a window seat makes it worse for me and I try to sit in the aisle seat so that I can focus far down into the aisle. Anything but the middle seat!
 

(16) EXPLAIN YOURSELF

Finally, be vocal about your motion sickness.
Telling other passengers at the start of the journey that I get travel sick and might go silent on them, or that I probably won't look at them while they're talking in order to prevent sickness coming on, puts me at ease. If I do start to feel queasy, I know I don't have to try and be polite at my own expense, and when I fall silent people don't try to make conversation. 

 

I hope these tips help you if you suffer from motion sickness! 

There's also always the motion-sickness-pill route. I've never taken these tablets as I try to only take medication when absolutely necessary, and the ones I've come across cause drowsiness/fatigue (which I don't want). If you're expecting and you're considering using them, be sure to check with your doctor that they're safe for pregnancy! 

What do you do to combat motion sickness? I'd love to hear some more tips! 

 

Thanks for reading 😊

Serena 

WWW.ANAPHYLAXISCAMPAIGN.ORG.UK ⭐️

My friend,


As the sun is rising today, I'm thinking of you.

Last night we landed in KL and on the way to our hotel we drove past a restaurant named Seremban.

I pictured you and I reminiscing about our parallel childhoods, long summers before we met, immersed in a culture that in England felt like ours and no one else's, at the same time soaking up 'special' attention that came with being half-different when running around Malaysia.


Finally, a friend with whom to share my motherland. Someone who understood that feeling of being from both places but belonging to neither. Someone to fail at cooking tapioca pearl desserts with. Someone to teach me how best to apply eye makeup to make my eyes look bigger. Someone whose tiny shoes I could borrow on a night out.


I will continue to think of you every day because you share both halves of me; you shared both halves with me.


I used to believe that your life was always simply supposed to grow to a certain height, like a bonsai tree: maybe shorter, but no less complete or beautiful.

I no longer believe that anything is 'meant to be'. I believe that everything just ebbs and flows and happens, and that it's more useful to pick up with both hands whatever is given, observe it, feel it and inhale it as a lesson we can exhale out into the world.


Whether the topic is Tinder, catfishing or grief, you'll never stop teaching me. Terima kasih for the love and the lessons my little rambutan ♥️

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MORNING PRAYER

September 22 2017

Consciousness come through me, move this accumulation of matter that is referred to by my name
Ignite in me your will, move me in such a way that I carry your message with ease and grace
Allow me to be a vessel for your message, Hara, help me let go of this ego and open up my heart
Move me from loving transitively, from directing my love at chosen ones, to becoming love itself, to being love itself
Strengthen my energy, lift my voice, deepen my patience and soften my face
Melt this ego, melt this ego, melt this ego

I will align with your message and accept whatever purpose flows through without expectation. My work will be greater than the self.
I am but dancing dust, my ego here for one moment, my body's matter here forever, in always-shifting forms

Hara, we are one and the same. I tune into you every morning; I rest with you every night. Your power is not separate from me; I am only drawing on the power that created me and lives inside me. Whether I am conscious or unconscious, you are here without judgment, and I strive to be grateful always.

Consciousness, come through me, fill me with fire and move me like water.
Today, I commit to having good intention, to giving more than I receive and to loving indiscriminately. I commit to reflecting on this day mindfully, and I know that today is what matters most.
Namaste

15 WEEKS PROGRESS 🙈

15 weeks pregnant // vegan pregnancy blogger // London UK

September 7 2017

I used to take a lot of unflexed photos in the gym to keep to myself for tracking progress 📷 and now I'm looking back like "I had a waist 😭" 😅 It's been a journey of acceptance so far watching my muscles disappear (pretty much felt 🤢 for the whole first trimester so cardio + strength = 🚫) but it's getting a lot more fun in the second.
I recorded a first trimester workout video 🏃🏻‍♀️ a few weeks ago so will put that on YouTube soon ☺️ (link to channel in my bio ☝️🙏).
Anyway, @peppef and I are happy to say little bean (or apple this week apparently 🍎) is healthy and we're looking forward to what's to come 🤗.
Hope you have a lovely evening whatever you're up to 🌝✨ #15weeks

Matcha morning 🐒🍵

Yesterday I had some matcha treats delivered from Teapigs ☕️🐷 including a beautiful matcha recipe book 😍, so this morning involved flicking through for ideas whilst eating all the fruit 🍌🍐 and inspecting more herbs from our garden (see Stories - in this photo we have rosemary & some very hardy fennel 🌿).

I don't drink matcha as often as I'd like to (that would be 20 times a day 😁) because all the women in my mama's side of the family are ✨very✨ prone to being anaemic 🐭 and green teas (along with regular tea & coffee) contains tannins, which can hinder the absorption of iron into the bloodstream 🙅🏻. As an omni I was anaemic & unable to give blood 💉. I haven't had my iron checked for a while but try to eat lots of iron-containing plant foods and molasses most days ➕ sometimes take an iron supplement ☺️.

Matcha is one of the tastiest things ever 🍵 and you can make matcha pancakes, snack bars and more 🤗.

P.S. Hey Holla no-kink hair tie on show because these bands come everywhere with my lion hair 🦁🙈

Hope you have a lovely day! 🐣

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ALLPLANTS: TASTING JERK JACKFRUIT

Pulled, young jackfruit has a really meaty texture and is often used as a replacement in recipes where pork is required. I tried AllPlants' restaurant-quality delivery service, which delivers vegan & plant-based meals to your home for less than the price of a takeaway. 

I sampled this for my food blog VegansofLDN and am definitely going to be ordering more!

#FLASHBACKFRIDAY: FROM CIDER TO STRETCHING

 
Serena Lee // @imserenalee // Yoga Teacher & Personal Trainer, East London // Sobriety & Giving Up Alcohol

Spreading my legs in a different way 😂😩
My weekends used to be fuelled by White Ace cider at £2.59 for 2L 🍺  mixed with blackcurrant cordial 🍇. Yes that's a spray tan I got in Essex 🍊. Yes this was a regular occurrence 👯.
These photos are about 5 years apart ⏳. If you think the left looks fun and the right looks boring af, I get it because 5 years ago I would have looked at future me and thought "why you so old 👵🏼" ✨but✨  I fell in love with living healthily and spreading this message to other people so they can spend their Sunday morning creatively, productively & full of energy 🐣  and not with a face full of hungover Supernoodles 🍜.
What are your passions outside of socialising? 👭 Could you turn them into something that's bigger than the self? 💆🏻 Alcohol was one of the obstacles to my productivity 🚫 and this along with a few other reasons led to me going sober in 2014. 💧 Try a 30-day dry challenge and see how you feel aaand come back and let me know how it went! ☺️⚡️🙏

NUTRITION & FITNESS WITH TWO VEGAN PERSONAL TRAINERS

I met up with my PT friend Izzi, where we discussed protein sources, carbs, smoothies and fitness routines. We ended up doing some couple-exercises together, demonstrating how to perform a squat, and later on we found a street gym to try out :)

I HAVEN'T USED SHAMPOO OR CONDITIONER FOR 18 MONTHS!

Just a quick update as its been over a year now since I switched from Apple Soda (bicarb + apple cider vinegar) to Ryepoo (rye flour & vinegar) to wash my hair, and a year and a half since I quit shampoo.

My hair today: 29/8/2016.

My hair today: 29/8/2016.


IT'S BEEN AMAZING. I've washed my hair on average around once a week even though I work out quite a lot with an active job. When I was travelling for 2 months in Southeast Asia I used purely water and got along happily with no gross consequences, but when I got back to the UK and continued, it started to get greasy so I went back to Ryepoo as my standard routine, using arrowroot powder in between washes as a dry shampoo.


I've used straighteners on a total of two occasions in 18 months and have air-dried my hair almost the whole time, using the cold setting on my hairdryer if in a rush and the hot setting maybe three or four times if *really* in a rush.


Pictures speak louder than words with this one so here are a few in chronological order from the day I first tried Ryepoo up until today.

October 2013 (shop-bought shampoo)

October 2013 (shop-bought shampoo)

March 2014

March 2014

September 2014

September 2014

May 2015 (Apple Soda method, 4th month)

May 2015 (Apple Soda method, 4th month)

June 2015 (Ryepoo method first time)

June 2015 (Ryepoo method first time)

August 2015

August 2015

October 2015

October 2015

December 2015 straightened hair

December 2015 straightened hair

March 2016

March 2016

May 2016

May 2016

 

Other than Ryepoo the only product I use regularly is coconut oil as a hair mask the night before washing it, and on the ends sometimes for extra beachiness. I've given away all my other hair products including all my beloved Aussie stuff and L'Oreal Ultimate Blends oil that I used to swear by. The only product specifically for hair that I've kept is a non-aerosol hair spray for times few and far between when I need my hair to be done up neatly.


The method is the same now as it was last year, but a little lazier: I have a small glass Petri dish that I put the flour in, which gets topped up with water and mixed with my fingers in the shower. Then there's a glass bottle of apple cider vinegar mixed with water at a ratio somewhere between 1:2-1:3. The rye mix goes on first, massaged in and washed out. Then the vinegar mix that rinses out any clumps, followed by a rinse of water.

 

I can definitely class this as a life-change now rather than just an experiment and I'm really glad I stumbled across this method all those months ago. Let me know if you have any questions about the Ryepoo method and if you try it yourself!


Thanks for reading.

Serena

 

Connect with me on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter :)

Happiness Now

 
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Thiiiissss! 🙏 Happiness *is* success. If you're happy doing what you're doing right now, you're already successful 🙌 There is no "I will be happy when I have X, Y, Z..." because we stay in the shackles of craving - the source of discontent - until we break free from our happiness being dependent on things we can't control ⛓ Use the gap between where you are now and where you aspire to be as inspiration, sure. But know that up there ⬆️⬆️ is not where you *should* be. Right here ➡️🙆🏽⬅️ in this very moment is where you *should* be. We're tricked into comparing our 'success' to the 'success' of others 👬 who might be gaining in status, money, possessions, but might be miserable or working for causes misaligned with their own principles. It's not for us to measure the true success of another human, only your own 😌

Living in a way that's aligned with our principles, in our jobs, habits and behaviour, feels rewarding and therefore leads to being happy doing what we're doing. = Success ✨😄

So may "what you want" be for a purpose bigger than the self - and this begins with intention, which means we can start right now. ☺️ 😇🙏

CROW POSE/CRANE POSE FOR BUILDING WRIST STRENGTH!

Helloooo! This video shows you how to get into Crow Pose/Crane Pose (Bakasana). Jump to 6:10 for vegan snack haul :) I'll be uploading new content once a week so please hit the Subscribe button on my channel for more home workouts & exercises! I'm teaching the Crow Pose most weeks at Campus London yoga sessions too so come along for £3 yoga in London if you're free.

BUDDHA BOWL

I'm currently eating this Buddha bowl in the garden at 9pm 🌝 with tofu, alfalfa sprouts, grated beetroot, carrot, tofu, spinach, rice, avocado and sesame seeds 😛 I know 'Buddha bowl' is supposed to be a fun way of saying a healthy plant-based bowl with lots of ingredients 🍃 but what I would call a Buddha bowl is any dish we come to eat with full attention. Finishing one mouthful before piling in the next. Slowly tuning into the textures in the mouth and the way the tongue is receiving all these messages from this fuel that we've taken from the world to nourish the matter we identify with as our 'self'. We are worthy of nourishment, always 🙏 and we can take dinnertime to think how best to use this fuel: let's not take our food for granted; let's use it to help ourselves become better and help others become better. Put the best stuff into your body and put the best stuff back out into the world - that power is within you ✨😌

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RESIST AND YOU'LL REGRET

Thought I'd check out the new Body Studio at Selfridges (focused on fitness & wellbeing). As soon as I entered, I was faced with this sign.

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These are everywhere. All around us in high street stores. "Love me, try me, buy me"... "Stuff you WANT, stuff you NEED". These phrases are emblazoned across escalator walls, hanging from ceilings and plastered across shop windows but I swear most of the time we don't consciously notice them. It goes in, subliminally.

 

This sign was hanging over bags on sale at only £400. (Only!)

 

When we make purchases, we rarely stop to think about what we're giving up in order to afford the material we're buying, and that's not all our fault. Try and find a women's magazine at the newsagent's today that doesn't have the term "must-have" in it, most likely next to an item you've lived without quite successfully your entire life. We're taught to keep up. To buy stuff we don't need just to impress other people who don't care about your possessions (they're too busy caring about their own).

 

So I say RESIST. You won't regret. Ask yourself what a £400 bag will do for you. If it will add £400's worth of value to your life - value that aligns with your goals, your ambition, your truth -- then go ahead. Everyone's truth is their own.

But if you're scared of resisting spending your money on s*** you don't need because Selfridges is telling you you'll regret it -- if you're scared you'll get left behind if you don't follow the crowd -- RESIST. No regrets.

 

The only thing you should never resist investing in is yourself.✌️

Why I'm happy every Father's Day, long after my dad's been gone

There’s a conversation I’ve had a few times in recent weeks - both with people I’ve just met and people I’ve known for a little while. It often comes up because we get into the topic of my mother being from Malaysia, then they’ll ask where my dad is from and if my parents live in London.

That's my dad on the left, and Mama on the right

That's my dad on the left, and Mama on the right

When I reply that my mother is still in England and that my dad passed away a few years ago, it’s always met with these deeply sad eyes: the same eyes I give when someone tells me that one of their loved ones has passed. Your whole body turns to empathy; you know there’s nothing you can do to help this person’s situation and you’re not sure whether to move swiftly on with the conversation or whether to take this time to understand more about the circumstances instead of tiptoeing around it and perhaps wondering what happened for years to come.

As soon as I receive those sad eyes, I like to take the opportunity to explain why I’m very deeply happy with my father’s death. My first words are always “But it’s okay! We were really close.” and then, knowing that sounds contradictory (surely if you were close, it’s harder to deal with?), I go on to describe the lesson I learned from his death and how I apply what I’ve learned to my relationships with people now.

They might not even want to hear it, but it’s one of my favourite things to share so I tell them anyway. Luckily, if you don’t want to hear it, you can stop right here and head back to Facebook :))))

 

So my father died of a subarachnoid haemorrhage in December 2009, a couple of weeks before Christmas. He had been struggling with liver cirrhosis among other things that it’s not important here to go into. He had a bleed on his brain and we got a call in the early hours of the morning saying they might be able to operate. We got a call back around 5:30am saying he’d gone. He was 53.

He was staying in Devon and my mother and I were in Essex, by the seaside, at our (and his) home. I was seventeen and in college.

My grandad (my father’s father, he’s our rock, hey Grandad if you’re reading this!) drove my mother and I quite silently down to Devon, where we met my brother and my dad’s brothers. You go through the motions with such high adrenaline that it feels like nothing at all.

Grandad, Dad, my brother and cousin

Grandad, Dad, my brother and cousin

We spent the next couple of weeks arranging the funeral - it was two weeks later having had the post mortem, and we cremated my dad on December 21st. A couple of years earlier he’d written me a note that ended “Never cry for me again”, so I made sure I went through that day without shedding a tear. It was much easier than I’d thought, having this big cloak of warmth around me the whole time from knowing what a complete relationship we’d had, and how I got this cloak of warmth is what I’d like to share with you.
 

My father and I were best friends. I used to follow him around the house and he’d call me his ‘shadow’, sitting in his office for hours, him explaining the world to me and me asking endless questions and pressing flowers and clovers into his big books. He taught me how to tie my shoelaces; he taught me about periods, boys, how to do a flaming Sambuca. He taught me that, as I went through teenagehood, I’d loathe him and distance myself and that I’d come out the other end and we’d be best mates again. I did spend small amounts of time rolling my eyes and cutting off his questions with one-word answers and closed doors, but there was something in knowing the process that meant we were always close underneath it all.

The reason I’m happy with his death - not with him dying, of course, but with his death - is that there was nothing left unsaid. There are things I never shared that I would tell him now as an adult, but it wasn’t the right time to tell him them as a teenager (he’d probably have killed some young men). There are no regrets; there’s no heaviness.

I’ve come to learn - and studying yogic philosophy & advaita actually really helped put this into words! - that there is a difference between pain and suffering. Grief is a physiological thing that we go through when someone we love dies. It’s a tightness of the chest, a hollow heaving that smacks down on the stomach - and it can come at any time, not just in the weeks or months following death. Suffering, on the other hand, is knowing that we should have acted, but we didn’t. Or that we shouldn’t have acted in such a way, but we did and we never put it right.

Suffering stems from regret - we crave a different past because we didn’t follow the right path at the time. It takes time to let that go, and self-forgiveness. (Whatever the situation, you deserve self-forgiveness.)


The lesson I learned from my father’s death was that we should give our all to every relationship without expectation. Never going to bed without making peace or at least reaching out and trying.

I would have learned this lesson either way, and I feel extremely lucky to have learned it in the form of “Everything with Dad’s death was great because I put all I could into the relationship when he was alive, and so I should make sure I act in the same way with others so that I feel this clear when their deaths come”. The other way I could have learned it was, “Everything with Dad’s death was awful because I didn’t see him enough/forgive him/stand by him, and so I should act differently with others so I avoid feeling this terrible when their deaths come”.

I guess that’s what pressed me to write this post: if you haven’t already experienced the death of a loved one, you don’t have to learn this lesson the hard way. And you don’t have to learn it by reading a sad story. I’m writing this now from a place of deep clarity, from a comfort that will be with me till my own death. Know that people you love will inevitably die. Know that it’s okay! Although you will experience grief, you don’t have to experience suffering.

This isn’t to say that I don’t miss my dad - I miss singing with him while he plays guitar and I miss the winks he would give me whose meaning I could never put into words. It’s that the ‘missing him’ is carried with a smile, with the knowledge that a seventeen-and-a-half-year perfect relationship isn’t ‘cut short’. It’s complete and filled with a level of quality that no number of years can guarantee.

I wrote this spontaneously so don't have any recent photos to hand :)

I wrote this spontaneously so don't have any recent photos to hand :)

This also isn’t to say that, for example, if your mother left you as a teenager and you’ve written to her ten times with no response, you should continue writing to her each year because you’re scared of regret. This is about your judgement and your own conscience: your gut feeling about how you’ve acted towards another person will tell you everything you need to know. It’s about going to bed knowing you’ve done your part.
 

It’s like Chris (Simpsons Artist) says: If you love someone, just tell them. If you feel sick, just be sick.

We’re formed as these adults with faces that block our souls from spilling out where they’re meant to be. So I guess this is my ask of you: give everything you can to your father if he’s around this Father’s Day. If he’s not, and you’re cool with it, then great. If he’s not, and you’re suffering, forgive yourself. And then do the same with everyone you know. Not on my behalf - not because I’m sad that my dad isn’t around for me to give some love - but because I gave him all the love I could and I know how good that feels. I can’t touch the weird mole on the side of his head with my fingers, but I can connect to a love so deep and pure that it doesn’t matter whether he’s dead or alive.

You have the power to create that, and I invite you to join me in doing so.


Thanks for reading! :)

Serena

 

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Dad, my brother, Ah Kong (mum's dad) and me in Muar. I'm wearing my lycra Union Jack Spice Girls crop top and I wish I could still fit into it now

Dad, my brother, Ah Kong (mum's dad) and me in Muar. I'm wearing my lycra Union Jack Spice Girls crop top and I wish I could still fit into it now