Most of you probably know that I retired from work more than two years ago. My retirement came rather rudely due to some workplace issues which I shall not dignify by even discussing it here, and I was totally unprepared for it. To cut a long story short, it was not easy to deal with it and I was depressed for more than a year because I missed teaching, but that’s in the past now.
But as people would like to say (I don’t, though), “Everything happens for a reason”. I don’t believe in this adage because many things happen for NO reason at all, but I think we humans just like to console ourselves by linking something good to all bad incidents! That’s easy to do because sooner or later, something good is bound to happen after a bad incident, right? It’s just the natural order of things; the ebb and flow of life.
So, about a year after my forced retirement, Jia-Wen, Sihui and Ryan contracted Covid-19, so we had to whisk three-month old Jayden off to our house for isolation. Thereafter began my sudden newly-acquired responsibility – to look after Jayden fulltime, with night feeds and the works. What can I say except that it’s been a total joy looking after him! And it still is now! Just as the Monsters and the Blondies have brought youth, joy and life to our senior cats, Jayden and Ryan are doing the same for us too! I am truly so grateful that we get the opportunity to look after them. How many grandparents have this delightful opportunity and privilege, right?
But I soon found other challenging things to try as well.
All my life I’ve always done things which I’m good at. Or rather, I do it and find that I’m good at it! So I figured now is the time to do things which I’m hopeless at! I need challenges in my life. In a way, teaching had been a great challenge for me – to try and make a positive impact on the lives of different types of students.
Now, I needed new challenges. I’m completely hopeless in sports. So I tried my hand at taiji – done and dusted, even won a silver and bronze at an international competition. But did I like it doing it? Well…I didn’t mind it at all, of course. I know it’s good for health and it’s good for me. I still do it now, but limiting to only a few sequences. I still do the barehands, the fan and the sabre – love these weapons! But taiji is done and dusted for me. Now I can proudly say I have done and can do something culturally Chinese in my life!
Next, I took up vocal lessons. Haha…I love singing but only in a choir. I love harmony singing and have been singing the alto part in a youth choir many years ago. So now I took up private vocal lessons as a challenge to myself. It was really fun while it lasted, but I soon discovered my range IS really limited and in an attempt to widen my range, I ended up getting sorethroat and cough all the time. So that didn’t quite work out. As much as I enjoy singing, getting sick is no fun, definitely. So, I’m taking a break from vocal lessons for now. But I still attend jazz performances by my teacher. She sings in a jazz trio mentored by the great jazz king of Malaysia, Mike Veerapen!
My teacher is the one of the left, Ms Jessica Teh. She sings soprano. The trio is called Pop n Bop, handpicked by Mike Veerapen. I never miss a show! If you like jazz, this is the trio to listen to. Mike Veerapen is a gifted genius at arrangement.
Next, I decided to restart ballet! I’ve always wanted to learn to dance. Not simply dance, but ACTUALLY dance, and how much more actual can you get if not to learn ballet, right? Four years ago, I had joined an adult ballet class, but after a few months, a tragic road accident happened which left my dedicated and very talented teacher paralysed. It’s been four years now, but she has resumed teaching from a wheelchair with an assistant. Her optimism and positivity is absolutely inspiring. The other adults in my class were not interested to resume classes, so I opted to start private lessons in May this year. At age 60!
I can only show you my shoes…haha.
But it’s really SO much fun!!! I am still learning it now and I think I will continue my classes for as long as I can! No injuries so far, except for some nerve pain, which is normal for someone my age.
Thank goodness for the camera phone, I get to record the sequences, review them at home (with Jayden!) and learn from them. That’s the assistant teacher dancing. And yes, Jayden is going to learn too, one day.
Hobbies and grandmotherly responsibilities aside, I am still running AnimalCare and definitely looking after our 18 cats. I need to live on (hopefully) for another 20 years to see through all our cats. Hopefully also by then, I would have something to show for my ballet!
I had previously thought I wouldn’t stop working because teaching was very meaningful for me, but now, I think I have found so much more joy, fun and meaning in my retirement. So, it definitely happened for a reason…but no, I still do not believe in this adage. Life happens. And half of it is all about what we make of it and the effort we put in. The other half, well, that’s pure chance! We cannot control the chance department, but we sure can make the best out of it.
I hope you are enjoying your life too, whichever stage you are at. There is a time and place for everything. Look for the silver lining behind every cloud. It will turn up if we live long enough!
And I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and share, imperfections and all!
Here’s what a 60-year old can do (never mind the mistakes and all) after 5 months of ballet lessons!
This is one item off my bucket list! And I’m definitely going for the long run!
Watch me in 10 years’ time, folks! Haha…