My blog(s) surprise me at the oddest moments.
Like two Saturdays ago. I was invited to a talk which was organised by Jo and her friends at the Hardwicke House – the speaker was someone I didn’t know but I felt the topic resonated with me so at the last minute, I decided to attend and learn something.
“Boundaries” was the talk’s name. Jenna Donovan, an expat, was going to talk about how to set boundaries in our personal lives, know when to say no and more importantly, how to respect ourselves, nurture ourselves and still respect others!
I mean, wouldn’t YOU go if you heard the gist of the talk like that?
As I walked into the upstairs room (which was gaily decorated for the Christmas season), a petite lady with glasses took one look at me and said, “Soup Queen!”
Errr…. it was a Saturday morning. My brain was fogged in some ways.
“I read your SoupQueen blog! You don’t remember me?”
I hate it when my brains leave me in the morning. I’m good at recognising faces and I did recognise hers but no name came to my lips. Thank god for the name tags.
Luckily she grinned and we started talking. She said she’d come across my soup blog when she was looking for soup recipes. She’d seen my photo on the blog but wasn’t sure if I was who she thought I was. Though we’d met twice at Mensa gatherings!
No wonder she looked so familiar! Both of us tag along when our husbands attend Mensa activities (they’re the Mensans, the brainy ones, or the logical ones in the family anyway) and I’d seen her at the Mensa AGM and Mensa durian party a few months ago but we had never spoken.
Until she stumbled upon my soup blog. Until we met at the talk two Saturdays ago.
Instantly we clicked and really started talking like old friends. She started telling me about trying Bazhentang (or Eight Precious Tonic) that she’s taking now that she stopped breastfeeding her son.
A reader of my soup blog said that I should be monetizing my blog. Another emailed me a kidney tonic recipe and told me how expensive cordyceps were in Australia!
I started that SoupQueen blog not to get famous or anything. I have always been interested in soups since young. While my sisters ran off whenever Mom made tonics for us, I’d be happily sipping away!
I’ve drunk concoctions made with pig’s brains (you must pre-order from the butcher; it’s very high in cholesterol but that was supposed to make us smart and score A’s in our exams) and drunk concoctions which would make us all grow tall (see, I am tall now. Maybe those peanut root soups worked!). I’ve drunk a lot of Bazhentang too (Chinese women swear by this) and Dang gui tonics and drunk a bloody soup made with chopped, raw liver and ginger. I’ll take anything if it makes me healthy and smart.
And I’ve loved stepping into medical halls with their strange smells. I still enjoy my trips to Veng Tatt Soon, the herb shop down in Campbell Street and looking at the herbs and teas. In fact I was just there last Saturday and bought many packets of herbs for my Mom since I’ll be going home later this week.
I’m still a novice where soups are concerned. I’m still learning about traditional chinese herbs and how to combine each one to get the best efficacy. But I love sharing my finds in my Soup Queen blog – and I gain new friends from all over the world.
Simmering soups and making friends. Good combination huh!
But back to the talk – we worked on a questionnaire before the talk started. The questionnaire was a reflection of the type of person we are. We also filled it for a person close to us, either a parent or a child, if we had children. I realised I was the avoidance-compliant type!
There were 4 types one could be:
The Compliant (can’t say no, feels guilty and/or controlled by others, can’t set boundaries)
The Nonresponseive (can’t say yes, sets boundaries against responsibility to give love, superbusy, lack time to make them emotionally unavailable)
The Controller (can’t hear no, aggressively or manipulatively violates boundaries of others)
The Avoidant (can’t hear yes, sets boundaries against responsibility to receive love)
And ta-da, since I am Compliant-Avoidant, I am a “difficult combination” where I can’t say no to the bad and can’t say yes to the good. Oh dear.
So how to say yes or how to say no?
That’s where setting Boundaries come into the picture. We must set boundaries with our spouse, children, parents, friends, siblings, boss, workmates etc, even ourselves! We must hear our own “no” if we are to avoid over-addiction, overwork, over obssesive actions.
The key is to grow up and understand where we end and where others begin. And that we cannot change other people. We are solely responsible for our feelings, attitudes, behaviours, choices, values, limits, talents, thoughts, desires, love, hearts, bodies and spirits.
And to grow up means we should genuinely love and nurture ourselves so we can care and nurture others.
Yet Jenna cautioned that saying no does not mean saying no all the time. It is giving ourselves permission to say no when a no is most needed. It is not about being assertive and saying no every time.
The one piece of advice I liked most was “say no and then move on.” Don’t keep agonising over it. Once you’ve said no, move on and don’t feel guilty. Decide who you are and what your life is about.
Jenna’s talk is based on the book of the same name “Boundaries” written by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend. Proceeds of her talk went to KAWAN, a centre for the poor and homeless along Love Lane.
It was an apt talk as 2007 is coming to a close and I often need to contemplate how my life is going and how I want it to be.