Mother’s day weekend was the perfect occasion to escape life in London and to head back to the countryside. Alex has the cutest nieces and nephew who are my favourite subjects to photograph – mainly because they’re not camera shy yet 🙂

Seriously, adults are so boring to take photos of!

And as it’s creepy to post these on instagram – I assume this is why no one likes my bebe photos – here are the pics of my favourite little dumplings. Have you ever seen so many blue eyed babies!

Life, Photography

Happy Mother’s Day

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Fighting a hard battle, everyday.
Life

Fighting a hard battle, everyday.

My first thoughts on naming this post was – “Screw you 2015!”

I know… and I said this year was going to be better than last.

A month ago, I lost my mum to cancer. She was diagnosed with breast cancer 3 1/2 years ago, and on the 11th February 2015 she passed away in her sleep, two days after being discharged from hospital to come home to her family. She was 46.

A week after my mum passed away, I spoke at her funeral. I spoke of all the things I loved most about her and I forgot all about that horrible disease that stole her away from me. It didn’t deserve to be there that day. A week later I went back to work and that morning would be the first time in two weeks I would cry.

Last week, we celebrated my younger sister’s 13th birthday, and last Sunday it was Mother’s day in the UK. Why am I writing about this? Because this is me dealing with my hard battle, everyday.

I haven’t really told many people, I didn’t tell people when she was ill and now that she’s gone, it’s even harder to tell people now that she has died. The saddest thing about it is that you realise everyone has been hurt by cancer, and yet it’s still not normal to talk about it.

When I found out my mum’s cancer was back last summer, it felt like I was crying all the time. I would feel guilt and sorrow seeing her deteriorate, seeing her slowly become unable to do all the things she wanted to do. In her last month, I lost count the number of times she longed to just ride a bike and how jealous she was we all could. I joked about getting a child’s seat for the back of my bike.

Joking about my mum’s situation helped me deal with it a lot. My mum had a great sense of humour, extremely witty which towards the end became quite light-heartedly morbid (if there ever were such a thing). We were quite open with the fact that she would die soon, and that matter-of-fact attitude allowed us to joke in ways that could seem inappropriate. In her last month I spent everyday with her, and one of the last things she ever said to me was that she was ‘so sick of me’. I kept smothering her with kisses and hugs, she joked, but it was her way of saying thank you and our way of acknowledging what was happening. I still joke with my siblings about all the silly things my mum did and what she would do if she was here.

I’ve also watched a hell of lot of Disney films. Doing so definitely falls into the ‘denial and reverting to a child-like state’ method of coping, but it let me be in a cocoon for the first two weeks, and I needed that so I didn’t have to mourn yet. A lot of my relatives went immediately into a hyper-organised, keep themselves busy mode, and that works for a lot of people as it allows you feel useful at a time you feel extremely useless (at least that’s my interpretation). That didn’t work for me at all! In fact, the thought of being busy and proactive just made me want time to move slower and made me feel very stressed at the thought of it.

Now, I’m back at work and I need to be in my ‘normal’ routine. Although I would still prefer to do nothing and just hide in bed all day, I find different ways of coping with how I feel. I eat lots of junk food (couldn’t say I’d recommend it :P), I make time to look after those around me (especially my younger brother who was particularly close to my mum), and I also make more time to be with my friends. One of the hardest things about caring for a family member who is ill, is that often that comes at the expense of spending any time with other people. In a way, looking after and spending energy on different people i.e. my friends, feels like a good way of coming to terms with the loss of my mum. If I could even put into words how that makes sense, I would. But it just makes me feel better.

I wanted to write this post not only because I believe writing can be extremely therapeutic, but because something that is helping me to cope is by knowing about and being able to empathise with other people’s experiences of loss. Sometimes just knowing that someone is reacting in a similar way, that you might think is unusual, can make you feel better in a small way.

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Food, Life, Photography

Family time

As you probably feel in your own life, no matter how ambitious you want to be about your free time, the weekends seem to fly far too quickly. For us, as a young couple living in the city, it takes tremendous will power to make time – quality time – for our family.

I don’t mean this in a bad way but how easy it is to… plan a barbeque, do the week’s worth of shopping, pop to the cinema because you stillhaven’t seen that must-see film, sunbathe, sleep, sleep some more, check in with your favourite Malay restaurant (hehe) and before you know it that’s every weekend of the month almost over!

Luckily for me, I live very nearby my family, but for Alex this means an excursion… to the country side O.O

Yup, that’s a whole weekend job.

So for Father’s day weekend, we made the trip and I got snap snap snap happy!

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Christmas cards have officially been sent!

With adulthood comes adult responsibilities. Around Christmas time, that means writing Christmas cards to friends and family. I think I now understand why people send cards, the older I get, the further away my friends seems to be – and what better way to let them know that I’m thinking of them than with a Christmas card!

Life

Christmas cards have officially been sent!

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Life

Daily Prompt: “It’s Pohlin, sounds like Poland but pronounced po-LIN… just call me Po”

This is what I have to go through every time I meet someone new.

Some days it’s easier, and people will remember the TV program – The Teletubbies – and understand Po, or perhaps find a more modern reference in Jack Black’s Kung Fu Panda.

Other days I might feel brave and introduce my full first name. “Pauline” they’ll guess, thinking I have an accent or they have misheard me. “No, Polin” I’ll gently correct them, with a slight air of impatience, yet forgiveness – it’s not their terrible name that’s making this so awkward. “Oh, Pollen, okay.”

My name is Poh Lin Lau. Pronounced POH LIN LAU. Poh, as in “Oh, I’ve forgotten my keys.” You think I’m kidding for needing to emphasis oh, but there have been many an interview where I have to endure being called Pholin (fo-lin). Or Poo-lin. Yes, over the years there have been too many Poo-lin’s, and much too much heartbreak on my end. (On a side note, I have to mention that the American interpretation of my name is by far the worst – Pearrrrl-lin)

Why, you are thinking, did my parents decide to name me so?

I was named in disappointment that I wasn’t born a boy. Just kidding, but I think judging my all possible baby names, my parents were pretty much planning for a boy. Oops, sorry! An all-things-Asia aficionado, my white father wanted to name me Little Dragon 小龍 (Xiaolong). As in of Bruce Lee (screen name) fame, Little Dragon. Imagine if I had to excuse my father’s martial arts obsession for the rest of my life, explaining Xiao Long at every introduction. No, instead I get just as much joy explaining my actual name.

Poh Lin 宝莲 means Precious Lotus. Pronounced Bǎo lián in Mandarin, it sounds far better than it’s Cantonese counterpart – Boh Ling. Really, bowling?

I know, it’s like they hate me.

Lastly, to go with my Chinese name, I was given my mother’s surname – Lau. Just to make things just that little more confusing.

My Chinese eyes and fair hair.

My Chinese eyes and fair hair.

Looking like an Asian baby, people would question whether I was really my father’s daughter, with my Chinese eyes and my Chinese name. As I grew older and more into my Western nose, and finally each day looking more like my father, I begun to feel, and look, far less suited to my very Asian name.

Joining a new school, company or anything that required me to give up my name beforehand, I was always met with shocked or confused looks as people tried to work out the connection between my name and face.

How very 90's ~ Me at 18 months.

How very 90’s ~ Me at 3 years. (*whoops I was a bit out on my first guess)

But now at the ripe old age of 22, I can’t really say I hate my name anymore. When I was younger, and often bullied for having a different name (how cliché), I think I hated my name. It stopped me from being, well, normal. I don’t think now that normal is something to strive for, but I do believe normal would mean for me that my name could be pronounced correctly the first time. There was a time I believed my name stopped me from getting a part-time job in my very white town (at the time). I still couldn’t tell you that I firmly believe it isn’t stopping me from getting a job right now!

But I don’t hate my name. I appreciate my heritage, and I’m proud of my family. But do I wish sometimes that I had at the very least an English nickname (like most Asians)? – defeatedly, yes.

But for now, I will keep introducing myself as “Pohlin, sounds like Poland, but pronounced po-LIN.”

Chinese, really?

Have you found yourself frustrated at what your parents named you? Or just wishing people were a little better at pronouncing your name? Or have you found that your name has held you back in life, from that job or making friends?

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