The exploding egg

I tried to microwave a hard-boiled egg yesterday.

Ah. I can see half of you widening your eyes in anticipation, perhaps even starting to chuckle.

Yes! Okay! I know! I actually did kind of know about exploding eggs in microwaves. I just didn’t know enough. I had peeled and broken my egg in two unequal parts, with the yolk showing, and I thought that would make it okay.

I thought wrong. The smaller part of my egg exploded all over the microwave with a loud, scary bang after about 40 seconds. I don’t know how the average person usually reacts to such an event, but my first thought was, “OMG how much cleaning is that going to be?!”

About 10 minutes’ worth, is how much. There was egg white everywhere. Top, bottom, left, right, front and back. Tiny little itty bits of egg white splattered all over the walls of the surfaces, each bit claiming its own square inch. Luckily the yolk was still intact because it’s my favourite part!


Comic: Microwaving an egg


This morning, I googled how to reheat hard boiled eggs (because I still had more cooked eggs in the fridge). The advice is: Pour boiling water over your eggs and cover for 10 minutes.

Then what is the point of making extra eggs to eat for breakfast!

Sorry, I’m having a rant. I thought I was being clever cooking up three days’ worth of eggs in advance so I could save time cooking them the next two breakfasts!

In the end, reheating eggs takes as long as cooking them from scratch, whether you take the microwave route or the sensible boiling route!!

I could cover my eggs with a microwave lid so it wouldn’t make a mess, but the bang scares me, plus I read about eggs exploding into people’s face while they’re trying to eat them.

Oh, HAHA. I just suddenly remembered I wrote a piece of poetry about omelettes 13 years ago. It’s my Ode to a Leftover Omelette. Read it here.

(If you don’t want to read the story explaining why I wrote it, just scroll all the way down to the bottom.)


Ode to a Leftover Omelette


Do you think I have a future as a poet, if not a cook?



Tricked into being happy

Gratitude and positivity: These were poisonous words to me not so long ago.

I mean it in the way that loud music and bright lights are abhorrent to someone with a hangover.

When you’re suffering from depression, you don’t want to hear it. Overly happy people make you cringe. Motivational memes are as appealing as a hot poker in your face. People reminding you to be grateful for what you have makes you want to shoot someone. Then you feel bad for being such an ungrateful douchebag that you get even more depressed.


Know It All

At that time, I already knew the theories about mental illness and associated treatments. (I’d done a lot of psychology classes and read extensively.)

I also attended cognitive behavioural therapy sessions where they try to force positivity into your head by telling you to think differently. Just like that.

Occasionally, when I read articles saying, “When you’re having a lousy day, smile. That action will trick your mind into being happy,” I would make myself try it.

I would genuinely gave it a shot.

But it would be like, geez, you look like an idiot.

I knew the supposed solutions to depression. But depression splits your mind. You think:

  1. I desperately want to be fixed.
  2. I’m scared to be fixed because I don’t want to change who I am.
  3. I’m terrified to find out that I’m unfixable.

As much as I knew I should, I was unable to respond to lessons on gratitude and positivity.


Appreciating and feeling thankful for all the good in your life and life in general.

Focusing on the good so you don’t get dragged down by the bad; choosing happiness over sadness.


Easy peasy? I knew I was just one mindset away from the shackles of depression, but it was as good as a giant leap across the Grand Canyon. It’s easy to be grateful and think positive when you’re already happy or, at least, feel some sort of contentment. Not so when you’re depressed and angry.

So, what happened to me? Because one day I woke up and found that I’d made that leap overnight, probably in my sleep.


Crossing the impossible chasm

I believe I got tricked into it. I can’t think of a better explanation for how I went from wanting to die to being happy in a matter of two days.

I’ve already explained everything in this long post so I will just summarise now. One day, I came across this product called SELF Journal and tried it out of curiosity. This is what it did to me almost immediately:

  1. Gave me a sudden sense of purpose as I went to work on some short-term goals I’d decided on.
  2. Working on goals made me forget to be depressed and angry.
  3. Being forced to write six things I’m grateful for (very tough, this one) tricked my mind into feeling grateful.
  4. Writing down what I did well that day forced me to love myself a little.
  5. Writing down how I can improve something from the day made me believe there’s hope.

Here’s what my first day looks like. Pardon the scraggly handwriting; my first journal was a PDF on my iPad using Apple Pencil to write (very challenging).


Screenshot of SELF Journal page


My first day didn’t go very well and I had a morning meltdown. Still, I tried to salvage the day, and filled in the journal dutifully at the end of the day.

The next day, I woke up feeling ridiculously happy and excited.

Without warning.

I can’t even explain it adequately. It was like magic.

Maybe it’s that physically writing down things I’m grateful for flicked a switch in my mind akin to drawing the curtains in a dark room. I think physical writing was key here because I had tried being grateful in my mind, in the past, but it never worked when I was depressed.

It’s been 53 days since I started using the SELF journal, which means I have written down about 400 things I’m grateful for (I try not to repeat things). And, I think, day by day, this exercise is drawing the curtains in my mind wider and wider. Maybe the curtain has even been ripped off completely, leaving me in perpetual brightness.

I feel actual happiness these days. Even joy.


Support System

I won’t claim that practising gratitude cured my depression on its own. I think what it did was made me receptive to outside help. I’d always shouldered pain on my own and tried to solve problems myself because that’s how I felt comfortable. So it was a huge surprise to learn how good it feels to have help and support.

It was even a bit magical the way things came together seamlessly:

  1. I found the journal, which has a support network in the form of a community of friendly and helpful people, everyone focused on self-actualisation.
  2. I had my bestie, Workaholic Wen, to whom I showed the journal and who was so enthusiastic about the idea that we decided to start doing it together, and keep each other on the right track.
  3. At just the right time, my GP referred me to a self-management coach who figured out the one book I had to read to start healing the main thing that was causing my depression.
  4. I had a loving husband who’s always supported me through all my short-lived obsessions, never judging when I lose interest, but offering full support for the next obsession. I now realise that his patience allowed me the space to find myself, in my own time, in a safe environment.

There have been several times in my life when, after a long series of challenging events, things would fall into place suddenly, magically, and I would walk into an outcome I could never have imagined.

As much pain and suffering as I’ve gone through in my life so far (and might still have to go through), as much as I’ve wanted to die so often, now that life has brought me once again into a wondrous end of chapter, I see that I am blessed.


Piers and Sheylara watching fish in the sea



The day I woke up to a voice in my head

It’s been over a month since a journal saved my life, and I’m happy to report that I’m still very much in the business of staying alive, although it’s getting increasingly hard because I’m averaging six hours of sleep a day and my body hates me.

But never mind the body for now. Here’s a quick status report:

  1. I have unfailingly woken up at 7 am or earlier (and stayed awake) every day for over a month — a heretofore impossible feat for me, prompting Piers to call me a weirdo.
  2. I crushed my one-month goal of decluttering my home and my life, in the process unearthing such treasures as 4-year-old e-mails from friends I forgot to reply to, and missing odd socks.
  3. I feel happy and positive 95% of the time. The other 5% says I’m not ready for nirvana. But I’m still young…ish and in no hurry.
  4. I had another epiphany the other day, telling me quite clearly what I must do for the rest of my life (besides striving for nirvana but, to be honest, I’m not sure I want to).
  5. Notwithstanding these amazing accomplishments, I am still quite muddle-headed.


The Incident

Last Thursday, I was cooking lunch, a simple meal of instant noodles, a large handful of tenderstem broccoli and a hard-boiled egg.

I cooked the egg first, then peeled it and set it aside while waiting for my noodles and vegetables to cook (4 minutes). Noodles done, I seasoned it and took it to the table.

I ate my lunch watching a Korean drama, then spent 20 minutes in Facebook. Total: 40 minutes.

It was time to get to work! I cleared my dishes and went to the kitchen, piling stuff in the sink and saw… a peeled hard-boiled egg sitting on an overturned saucepan lid.

“Why is there an egg here?” I wondered in actual surprise.

Cue facepalms and eyerolls.


Happy Fuel

I realised then that I had completely run out of happy fuel. Every last drop had been exhausted.

Remember, previously, I had described how my new lifestyle had made me sleep-deprived for weeks? And how I was subsisting on positive feelings generated by my positive lifestyle change?

This happy fuel eventually burned out. Of course it would. “Happy fuel” is not a medically acceptable form of fuel for the sustenance of life. The universe must have realised I was being tricky, trying to upturn the laws of nature, so put its foot down.

I was muddleheaded and distracted for days, although I did try my best to keep on being healthy and productive. 


More Happy Fuel

Then, near the end of the week, I received another dose of happy fuel. Actually, it wasn’t a dose; it was more like thunder and fireworks.

Last Friday, I woke up knowing exactly what I had to do for the rest of my life.

I mean I didn’t arrive at that conclusion from nothing. I had been mulling over it for years. Heck, for all my life. However, in April, I mulled over it with the help of new insights gained from purposeful personal development (reading self-help books, making lifestyle changes, listening to advice).

Up until Friday, I was still indecisive about my great big plans in life. I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. In fact, I couldn’t even decide whether I wanted to do anything. Couldn’t I just live simply and comfortably in this idyllic resort town I call my home? Many people do. I don’t need great big plans!


Great Big Plans

But Great Big Plans had different ideas and it chose last Friday to tell me so.

“Hey,” it shook me awake quite violently. “Hey! Wake up! I have something to tell you!”

“Huh? What?” I said, bleary-eyed, wary of auditory hallucinations from sleep deprivation.

“You are going to write books,” it said, “Lots of them! It doesn’t matter if you sell one copy or a million copies. You will write books for the rest of your life!”

“What?” I said, “I don’t…… what?”

“And then, you will start a charity that encourages children to love reading books because it will make a better future society.

“What are… huh? No! Now…… what?!?!”

Then, great big plans sprinkled some fairy dust or something, I don’t know, all over my face, waking me up from my dreams courtesy of a sneezing fit.

When the dust settled, my eyes were opened.


The Joy of Purpose

I mean, I could have been suffering a manic episode of bipolar disorder (which my psychologist told me four years ago I didn’t have), but I reeled with excitement all day. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was so bursting with positive energy you could get zapped standing 10 feet from me.

I knew what I wanted to do and I couldn’t wait to do it!

I spent the rest of my weekend planning my new goal (creating a roadmap) of writing my first novel, with absolutely no idea what I was going to write and even how to write a whole freaking novel.

It was the most exciting weekend I can remember in a long time.



It’s been 10 days since Great Big Plans visited and I still have not wavered in my conviction. That is, not significantly. There were a few evenings when I was tired and allowed doubt to creep in. “What was I thinking? I can’t write a book omg!”

I know my mind; it’s full of trickery. It could very well show up tomorrow and yell at me.

“Happy April’s Fool! Mwahahaha. That wasn’t Great Big Plans; that was just little ol’ me! Haha! Oh wait, it’s May. Oh never mind, you’re a fool! Mwahahaha. You should be a hermit! Goodbye!”

I wouldn’t put it past the mind gremlin to do that. It’s an entity of its own and it’s evil.

But, you know what? I am 5% from achieving nirvana (according to that delusional part of my mind that thinks I’m supergirl). I can beat this. If the mind gremlin so much as pokes its ugly snout out of its dark forest of depravity, I will pull it out and strangle the life out of it and dump it in the trash and set fire to it and call down thunder and lightning on it and then make it listen to Let It Go on repeat for eternity while locked in a metal dungeon with no windows. 

How about that, evil mind gremlin? You’re not welcome, ever! I have books to write!

Lots, apparently!






The pain of healing

When I first started my accidental journey to awesomeness three weeks ago, I would type random thoughts in my iPad throughout the day, every day. It helped me keep track of my progress as well as all the strange, new thoughts I was having.

Some of those thoughts I have reproduced in the previous post. Here are some other random bits you might like.

Day 5

I woke up today feeling quite neutral, which is not great considering how I’ve been so excited to wake up these past few days. But neutral is not a bad thing, either.

I guess if it’s not bad, it’s good. Sheylara’s School of Positivity Rule #1.


Day 10

Why am I feeling so good these days? Is it going to last? Is it even real because what sorcery is this? I’m going to wake up one day and it’s all going to go to shit again, right? I think I can hear my old self yelling from a distance, “Hey let me back in, geez!”


Day 12

I feel like I’m on some kind of happy drug these days. I feel like I’m on a permanent high of a manic depressive episode. I feel like I’ve joined one of those batshit crazy happy cults and been brainwashed. A month ago, I would so totally have felt repelled by the me now.


Day 15

If I’ve learned anything big from the past two weeks, it’s that it’s absolutely possible to change. You just need to be ready and have the right ingredients. I’ve always believed I wasn’t a morning person but I love mornings now. If you’d told me even a month ago that, one day, I would willingly and happily wake up in the morning every single day, I would have laughed myself dead.

It’s all mind over matter, right?

Can I will myself bigger boobs?


Day 19

It was really difficult to wake up this morning. I think I was smack in the middle of a sleep cycle, dreaming weird-ass dreams like having a pretend picnic with clay rabbits under a strawberry tree during twilight, or something equally incomprehensible, when the alarm woke me.

I wanted nothing more than to go back to sleep. I have a lot of sleep debt to repay. And it’s Sunday.

In the same minute I was all ready to go back to sleep, a thought kicked me in the backside. It was a flash of memory of a thing I’d said to Piers last night when he asked why I couldn’t sleep in during the weekends.

“I have to wake up at the same time every day or it will screw everything up,” I had said.

“I don’t want to screw everything,” my brain thought, and kicked me some more. And I got up.

Brain, who are you?



Incidentally, I was reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People yesterday when I came across this quote:

“No one can persuade another to change. Each of us guards a gate of change that can only be opened from the inside. We cannot open the gate of another, either by argument or emotional appeal.” – Marilyn Ferguson

It’s beautifully written and that’s what I was talking about in my Day 15 notes.

Change is hard and scary. It’s taken me all this time to open my gate. But I have no regrets. I’m kind of too tired to feel anything other than a sleepy sort of pride for having spent my days productively for three weeks in a row now.


Morning pages

Coming to the point soon!

I found myself enjoying writing my thoughts so much that I decided to add a new thing to my morning routine: Morning Pages.

It’s a technique created by artist-writer Julia Cameron (ooh I just realised she’s the wife of director Martin Scorsese) in her 1995 book, The Artist’s Way. You’re supposed to write three pages of words (about 750 words), longhand, about anything at all, first thing in the morning, every single day. You supposedly gain catharsis, clarity and creativity, and will be able to do your tasks more effectively throughout the day, indirectly saving time.

This has added 30 minutes to my already-long morning routine but that’s fine. I’ve done it for a week now and am enjoying it. I can’t say that I’m seeing any benefits at the moment, because the benefits overlap the ones I already get from my other morning actions (yoga, meditation, writing gratitudes, etc).

But I’m doing it because I enjoy it, probably the same way I used to enjoy running. It kind of sucks while you’re doing it but it feels great once it’s all over.


Hello, pain

On the flip side, Morning Pages took me to a dark place on Day 4. I was randomly ranting about my perfectionism when, two pages later, my writing unwittingly opened up a deep, painful wound in my heart that’s been festering and growing there for two decades, never having quite healed.

(That’s another story.)

The sudden emotional pain that shot outwards in cruel spikes was so unexpected after 20 days of feeling mostly happy that I wanted to give in to a good cry. But I’ve always felt stupid about being crippled by this pointless old wound, so I didn’t allow it to happen. I did my best to bury-bandage it up and carried on with my morning routine.

Next up: Physiotherapy, then yoga. Trying to not think of anything. Trying to focus on the physical exertions.

Then meditation. Serendipity, my good friend, knocked once again. I was doing Lesson 9 in Headspace that day. It taught how the mind is a pool of water and how life makes it cloudy. When you meditate, it cleans the pool and you can see inside. Sometimes you find good things, other times bad things that cause you pain. But, the lesson says, that’s okay because it’s all part of the process of letting go.

Creepy much?

Can’t say I succeeded in letting go of anything. Not even in the same universe of possibility at that moment. But the 10-minute session quieted my sadness and enabled me to get up from my yoga mat to face the day.

Maybe one has to go through pain before one can heal. Well, I don’t know. I’ve just been making all this up as I go along, pretending to have great insights once in a while.

All I know for a certainty is that I don’t want to be sad anymore.




How a journal saved my life

Up until two weeks ago, I was waiting to die.

It’s not quite as dramatic as it sounds, I promise. I merely believed that life was absurd (in a Camusian way) and I wasn’t convinced I wanted any part of it. Of course, I’m not morbid enough to actually take my own life, so I was passively waiting, for the most part.

Before getting to the meat of this post, I’m going to have to go back in time a little so you can better appreciate the impact of the life-changing experience I’m about to share. I apologise if the upcoming reveal makes you uncomfortable or shatters all your illusions about me. I don’t really have anything to say to that.

[Warning: Super long texty entry coming up; you might want to bookmark this and read it in parts. Or not at all. :>]



I had a major meltdown in the middle of a year-long Montessori course in the UK. I was doing well academically but I felt I had fallen short of my own high standards in both social and professional capacities. Certain events during the year wounded me so deeply that one day I snapped and took to bed crying for weeks, even going as far as to research ways of dying.

I’d already had a long history of depression so it wasn’t the first time I’d fallen apart like that.

Subsequently, my course director made me see a counsellor, who suspected that my depression was a symptom of autism and sent me off to a psychologist.

Six months and many tests later, I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome.

My diagnosis and the aftermath are a whole other post, so I’m just going to summarise by saying it messed me up quite a bit. After the intitial excitement of having the impossible struggles in my life explained, I went right back to being depressed, this time more than before.


2013 to 2017

Life went on being an endless series of doubt, fear, anger, stress and ennui, interspersed with bouts of short-lived positivity as I made countless attempts to dig myself out of a monstrous proverbial hole.

On the surface, I appeared largely normal because it’s not socially acceptable to brood openly.

Deep inside, I was a raging vortex of hatred and despair.

I was capable of enjoying experiences, to be clear, such as having an ice cream on a hot day, appreciating a good joke, buying the latest iThing, watching a puppy eat, or going on nice holidays with people I love.

But these happy feelings were tenuous. Fleeting. Despair was always just a thin membrane away, constantly trying to break through to tell me that my life was shit and that I was a piece of crap.


I tried things. I did CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) for six months. I did volunteer work for a year. I tried to get busy pursuing different interests to find purpose. I tried yoga. I signed up for a fitness boot camp and went paleo. I tried bullet journaling. I tried time blocking. I tried to philosophise my way out of depression and ennui.

Nothing worked. I ran out of steam very quickly for each thing I tried. I wasn’t sleeping well and was tired all the time. Fatigue and depression fed off each other, trapping me in a prison of my own making. I was in a chicken-and-egg conundrum where my ill health was worsening my depression and my depression was making it difficult for me to improve my health.

And, stupidly, as much as I wanted to die, I constantly felt panicked about time running out. Every day, I felt that I didn’t have enough hours to play all my games and watch all my TV and read all my books and do all the 101 nonsense things I felt I had to do.

I was just so overwhelmed all the time.


I visited the doctor a lot for a myriad of physical ailments that plagued me incessantly. But I couldn’t bring myself to seek help for my depression, even though I sometimes wanted to. I was scared I would prove to be a hopeless case (since CBT didn’t help). I was scared to have to change. I also felt I didn’t deserve help since my life really was good on the surface.

So I kept it all to myself and put on a mask and went through the motions of life. I felt like a zombie most days, an animated being devoid of a soul.


Then something quite ordinary happened which produced a most extraordinary result. My whole life got turned around almost overnight.


17 March 2017

One day, I picked up my phone and made a doctor’s appointment. I was going to get help for my depression. I can’t remember how or why I did it. It was as if strength and courage rushed into me for a split-second and made me call the number without giving me any time to think about it.


28 March 2017

The day before my appointment, I was scrolling through Facebook listlessly, trying to fill the void in my life with funny content.

A sponsored post in my feed jumped out at me. It was an ad for something called the SELF Journal. I’ve always loved notebooks and journals so I clicked on it.

I was intrigued.

This journal helps the user set short-term goals (3 months) and work towards them by using techniques that successful, high-achieving people swear by. A continuous series of carefully planned short-term goals eventually takes you to your big-time goal, if you have one.

Even though I wanted nothing more than to be dead, the journal appealed to me. I liked how it had different sections with blanks to fill in and questions to answer every day. I LOVE filling in blanks and answering questions. In fact, it’s almost a compulsion.

And here’s something ironic about me. Life may be absurd and I may be depressed, but I’m always excited to try new, fun things. It’s just that I can never sustain an interest for long because depression is my permanent roommate. Some days, she goes out and leaves me alone but she always comes home at the end of the day.


29 March 2017

The day after discovering the journal, I saw my doctor. She sent me off to get a blood test and gave me an appointment to see a self-management coach (someone who helps people with physical health conditions that are affecting their mental health).


30 March to 2 April

The next few days, waiting for my coaching appointment, I started doing the prep work for the journal.

I spent half a week figuring out my goals and creating a roadmap. After much thought, I decided to do a trial run first, so I made some stupid small goals, one of which was to clean my home thoroughly and make it nice so we can sell it and move out to a bigger, better home. I planned to complete it within a three weeks.

I decided to start using the journal the day after the session.


3 April

I attended my session and gave my coach a three-page document listing all the reasons why I hated myself and the world, and why I wished I didn’t exist.

She asked questions, listened very non-judgementally, then gave me some authors to check out for homework.


4 April

I started the journal by planning healthy habits around my goals because it’s common knowledge that physical health is important for mental health. In order to achieve the life I wanted, I had to make a very drastic cold-turkey change:


I went from this:

12:00 mn – Get into bed, stare at iPad/Kindle.
02:00 am – Fall asleep.
04:00 am – Wake up, can’t get back to sleep. Stare at iPad/Kindle.
09:00 am – Fall asleep.
12:00 pm – Wake up because Piers comes home for lunch.
(Or wake up at 2 pm if Piers doesn’t come home.)
02:00 pm – Play iPad games, watch Korean dramas or do some chores till Piers gets home at 5 pm.


To this:

12:00 mn – Sleep.
07:00 am – Wake up properly.
07:15 am – Physiotherapy, then yoga.
08:00 am – Morning beauty routine.
08:30 am – Breakfast and journaling.
09:30 am – Start on my planned tasks for the day.


That was a really tall order I’d set myself. I had tried so many times in the past to change, made strict daily schedules, experimented with different waking up times, tried different activities to start the day off to see what worked better. No routine I tried lasted more than two weeks. Many lasted only days. Sometimes, I gave up before I even started.

Perhaps my one saving grace is that I don’t give up. I mean, I’ve been a giant giver-upper and defeatist all my life, but I always eventually pick myself up to try again, even while wallowing in the dark waters of death contemplation.


SELF Journal Day 1 Report

The first day of my new life was really tough. I managed to wake up at 7 am but felt completely shitty because I’d only had a few hours of sleep. Then I had a meltdown because unforeseen things needed to be taken care of, ruining my schedule. Yoga made me feel hypoglycaemic. I was exhausted and grumpy and stressed.

I spent two hours that morning falling apart over Skype to Piers while he tried his best to encourage me and keep me calm.

I felt a lot better after talking to him but I was so tired, and I felt drugged and jet-lagged. I decided to write off my first day and start over the next day. I did manage to do one task I’d planned and also filled in the journal sections for gratitude, areas for improvement and wins of the day, which are supposedly important to keep you in a positive frame of mind.

Because the journal made me think of ways I could improve after the day’s mistakes, I planned my next day better. I reworked my daily schedule to allow for contingencies. It meant my “goals” would take slightly longer to achieve but better done late than undone. I allocated two hours to breakfast and journaling because I discovered that doing that made me feel good and calm. Before going to bed, I tidied my breakfast and yoga areas so my environment would look more inviting in the morning.

I was all set for day 2.


SELF Journal Day 2

You will not believe this. I can hardly, myself.

Day 2 was a miracle! It was a day worthy of being framed up and pinned on the wall with a gold ribbon and applause all around while I give a tearful thank-you speech.

I woke up at 7 am . Actually . Feeling . Excited .

I don’t know about you, but the last time I felt excited waking up at an unearthly hour was never.

I unrolled my yoga mat like I was unwrapping a Christmas present, all eager to get into it. Doing yoga helped gently pull me out of sleep. I felt refreshed and energetic afterwards.

During the day, I encountered two mini crises that would normally have sent me running back to bed, but I dealt with them and remained calm.

I completed all the tasks I’d set myself and felt like time had become a rubber band I could stretch to fit all the tasks I wanted to complete, and still had enough for fun and relaxation.

Piers was thrilled for me and his enthusiasm encouraged me.


SELF Journal Day 3

I woke up with the same excitement and pounded through the day with the same enthusiasm, except with more exhaustion because I was still struggling with insomnia.


SELF Journal Day 4

I managed to complete my first intimidating task of decluttering my study, a room spilling over with the forgotten remnants of countless hobbies, collecting dust and guilt. It took me three days to clean it. But it was a room very important for me to get right because it’s where I am to spend my days working on my life purpose (when I can figure out what that is).

The moment I put the very last bit of rubbish into the bin and looked around at the sparkly cleanliness, the tidiness and the spaciousness, I experienced a moment of clarity. This simple truth flashed in my mind: “If you do it, it gets done.”

I know, it sounds stupid and obvious but my brain never had room for such truisms, being permanently mired in the fog of procrastination and stress.

It was a truly profound moment. I felt the power of get your ass off the sofa and do it, almost like a spiritual awakening.


Eat That Frog

There was another epiphany I experienced on the same day. That is, if you schedule the day’s tasks from worst to easiest, the day gets easier instead of worse.

This is another simple truth I had never considered until I read “Eat that Frog!” By Brian Tracy. He teaches a success strategy based on a quote by Mark Twain:

If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And If it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.

I had read an article recently saying that willpower is a resource that gets used up or wears out gradually each day, so you should do your worst task first or it will only get harder the longer you leave it. This explains why “eating that frog” first thing is so important.

Practising that principle, I found my days getting better and better even as I got more and more tired. I also realised that doing this made my days end on a positive and triumphant note, eliciting enthusiasm for the next day.


Fast Forward

I’ve been doing the journal for over two weeks now and have consistently woken up at 7 am, done my daily physiotherapy, then yoga and meditation, followed by breakfast and journaling, then single-mindedly ticking off my task list one by one, every day.

It has been tough, mostly because of my sleep problems. I feel sleep deprived and jet lagged every single day to varying degrees. But being productive and having healthy habits seem to be giving me a different kind of energy to help sustain me.

In the first week, I was reeling with so much excitement every day, I even wanted to wake up at 6 am. Even 5 am. It was unreal.

I became slightly more mellow in the second week. Sleep Deprivation – 1, Crazy Mysterious Energy – 0.

Now at the start of my third week, I’ve lost the trippy mania but I’m still keeping it going.

Whereas I was literally stressed and unhappy every day of my life before this, and angering easily, I now feel calm and positive most of the time. Things that used to bother me don’t seem to as much, anymore.



I like to think that the life-saving journal came to me because I had signalled that I was ready to be helped (with the phone call to my doctor). Like a law of attraction thing. Or not, if you don’t believe in that sort of thing. I don’t know what I believe. I just know my life has changed because of that one serendipitous moment a Facebook ad caught my attention at just the right moment.


My Magic Recipe

Of course, it’s not all the journal. I think the journal helped me focus my effort in the right way and forced me to dwell on the positive rather than the negative, all while making it seem like a fun game to me.

But other elements had to be there as well to help make it all happen.

For example, I think I made a great decision scheduling yoga after waking up. It helps create calm, happy feelings and boosts energy. I added meditation to my routine when I discovered how I really love the two minutes at the end of a session when they make you lie still and breathe and think of nothing. I still don’t really know how to meditate, but using the app Headspace is now the most enjoyable part of my day.

More importantly, I have a partner-in-crime.

Workaholic Wen (my new nickname for Nanny Wen) started doing this journaling together with me. We share screenshots of our journal pages with each other to keep each other accountable. It’s fun and it keeps us in frequent contact, which is really uplifting because I hated having to leave my best friend behind years ago for life in a new country.

Having a supportive husband helps. Learning how to eat the frog helps. And I devote some time each day to reading self-help books. They give me strategies to overcome different challenges in my life.

I believe now that every lost person (like me), or maybe even not-lost people, have their own magic recipe to bring them to life, because everyone responds to different things. I think, after decades of floundering, I’ve found mine. I was never going to heal until I was ready, and then my recipe came to me.


The Miracle Morning

Halfway through working on the journal, I started reading this book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. The author advocates doing a simple six-step routine first thing every day to achieve a successful and happy life. He promises you will go from hating mornings to loving mornings and, consequently, loving life.

As I read on, I realised that I had been unwittingly doing his routine (roughly) and been experiencing the miraculous benefits that many of his followers have already been experiencing for years. It confirmed in my mind that the miracle I was experiencing was a real thing and that made me quite excited.


Moving Forward

Of course, I cannot guarantee that I’ll be able to keep this up. I mean, it totally doesn’t make sense to me that I could be depressed and suicidal all my life and just suddenly I’m not. Where did it go? It could just as soon come back, couldn’t it?

Maybe it’s a kind of self-inflicted brainwashing, like if you go to a Tony Robbins seminar, you get brainwashed into becoming a manic happy yelling person who is capable of growing wings and flying to the moon if you want to.

And perhaps the effects will wear off eventually. Or they may not. As far as I can tell, I’m experiencing changes in me I’ve never felt before. Not even that time (more than a decade ago) when I attended this super expensive Tony-Robbins-like course and got brainwashed into doing crazy things like chatting up unsuspecting strangers in public and feeling great about it. That was kind of different.


Right now, I see myself becoming this amazing healthy-lifestyle wonder girl (albeit a tad sleep-deprived) whose positivity will annoy some people to bits, but I promise I will not be loud about it.

To be fair, I still have the same pain and insecurities and fears and weaknesses, and health conditions, and, if I’m being very honest, I still believe life is absurd.

But I’m having success in keeping negativity at bay at the moment. I think my self-management coach can probably help me sustain that. (My second session is next week.) I had initially thought that I didn’t need her anymore since my journal and new magic routine were fixing me, but now I think everyone needs all the help and support they can get from as many different sources as possible.



I want to keep this positive change going, at the risk of alienating all my readers (lol), who are no doubt totally freaked by this crazy new person who is not Sheylara. I’m anticipating my blog turning serious for a while as I investigate this not-Sheylara.

Well, I probably don’t have readers anymore, anyway, after having stopped blogging for I don’t know.

But never mind. It doesn’t matter this time, whether I have readers or not. It really doesn’t.

This time, I’m blogging for myself. Because I’m not waiting to die anymore.