Author Archive
Nancy Lee

The Right Recipe

You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.

– Henry Drummond

I had, in recent months, taken a liking for cupcakes. Albeit the fact that I had to watch my sugar intake and not overload myself with too much calories, I must admit that I love eating them. Especially when they are light, fluffy and most importantly, moistly dense -not forgetting that little blob of creamy frosting on top, coupled with sprinkles of chocolate chips and pretty little intricate designs that I love!

Have you ever wondered how cupcakes came about? I was bugged by the very thought of it so I did a little research and found out that the cupcake actually evolved in the United States as far back as the 19th century. Cupcakes were revolutionary because of the little time it took to bake them due to their small size. Before the use of volume measurements, cupcake recipes, also known as 1234 cakes, were made up of 4 ingredients and measured by the size of a cup. Hence, it is 1 cup of butter, 2 cups of sugar, 3 cups of flour and 4 eggs which makes it so easy to remember. In those days, before muffin tins even came about, these cakes were often baked in hearth ovens using pottery cups or ramekins – hence the name.

While I was musing about the interesting story of cupcakes, I wondered, “What are the ingredients in the recipe of life?”. If we were to narrow it down to just 4 ingredients, what would they be? But first, we need to honestly think about what life is really made up of?

A large part of it, if you were to agree with me, is relationships. We are created to relate. Whether it is with the cashier at the supermart or classmates in school, we are relating. Life would hold no meaning if there were no relationships.

I couldn’t quite recall what year it was, but right after graduating from arts school, I remember being home, packing away my precious art pieces I had so painstakingly worked on during my 2- year stint in the academy. I was conscientious in making sure every art piece was kept under wraps and tucked neatly into the portfolio case. In the midst of it, I heard a tiny whisper in my heart and I knew it had to be God speaking to me. He said, “All these are not quite important. Someday, they will be gone. There are only 2 important things in life. One is your relationship with Me. The other is your relationship with others. Cherish it. Look after it. It is the only thing you will take into eternity.” Now looking back, I cannot remember the whereabout of those art pieces. I must have thrown them away when they became dusty and mouldy. But my relationships? Yes, I know where they are right now.

While writing this, I came across a touching paragraph I found on the internet and it goes like this: Let’s face it, we’ve changed, we’ve all changed. Somewhere between summer ending and school starting, we’ve all gone our own directions. Hearts were broken, friendships were diminished, and new loves started and new people came into our lives. We no longer spend all of our time together in our circle of friends; we no longer talk for hours about nothing at all. Some of us are finding love while some of us are trying to let go. Even though we’ve changed we all know that even though we’re all finding our own place in the world that when we find love, let go of a love, or when the tears fall, or a smile spreads across our face, we’ll come to each other because no matter where this crazy world takes us and no matter what happens nothing will change so much that we are all not friends forever.

God has blessed us with family and friends who appear in different chapters of our lives. As you move along in your journey, you will discover who are the ones who really matter and those who never did (not that you don’t want them to but they chose not to) and those who will always hold a special place in your heart.

There really are no special ingredients in the recipe for relationships. Only one ingredient, however, is needed – love and lots of it. Because everything – patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – stems from love.

Love is the crux of all things. If you say you love but you have constantly disregard the feelings of others, then you have no love. If you say you love but you have taken your wedding vows lightly, then you are just an empty gong. In all relationships, it is more than having the right ingredients. You need a huge amount of love and patience to whisk the mixture to a right texture and bake them at a perfect temperature. Once done right, your relationships will end up light, fluffy and the taste? – magical!

Nancy Lee is the Creative Director of her own Graphic Design firm, Earth Communications.  She is an avid movie goer and traveller, who loves to dabble with theatre, writing, photography and exploring recipies.  She writes a monthly newsletter known as Earthmuse.

Back to Basics

In conjunction with our Jubilee year, we invited one of our contributing writers, Nancy Lee, to share her thoughts about celebrating her jubilee year.

I turned 50 almost 2 and a half years ago. And to celebrate this milestone of my life, I threw a birthday bash and invited 60 of my closest friends – friends with whom I have shared my life intimately; friends who have walked into some chapters of my life and because of it, brought much light, love and laughter.

While planning for the bash, I wondered whether or not to do things the traditional way – that is to order a huge birthday cake, have 50 lighted candles on it and have my guests sing while I try to put them out in one breath. After much thought, I’d realized that I didn’t want the extravagance of a huge birthday cake as it held very little meaning for me. Instead, I decided on little cupcakes for each my guests and we lighted the candles by passing the light around.

As I stood there, gazing at the sea of candles lit before me, I’d realized that the recipe for good relationships is very simple one – that is, to love others as we would ourselves. If we cannot measure up to this simple rule, then it is of little wonder why we have so many complicated relationships.

Where are your relationships now? What state are they in? Are you enjoying growing together into the golden years with your spouse? Are you enjoying good relationships with your parents, siblings and friends? Or are you experiencing turmoil in your relationships?

If you are having difficulty in your relationships, then you need to go back to the basics – back to the simple rule of loving the person as you would yourself. Once you get your basics right, then you can go ahead and add the icing on the cake.

Nancy Lee is the Creative Director of her own Graphic Design firm, Earth Communications.  She is an avid movie goer and traveller, who loves to dabble with theatre, writing, photography and exploring recipies.  She writes a monthly newsletter known as Earthmuse.

Change your mind

Man will occasionally stumble over the truth, but usually manages to pick himself up, walk over or around it and carry on.

– Winston Churchill

One of the biggest challenges I faced in the area of my work is to convince my clients to adopt new ideas. This is not an easy task as many have very fixed mindsets built over the years. But I do have a couple of clients who are just willing to explore anything. We would sit down to discuss, brainstorm and see how far we can go in our creative thinking. O, how I love to brainstorm. My mind will be whirling with creativity as I explore new possibilities; my heart will be pumping with excitement with lots of adrenalin flowing!

To defy our fear of change is a scary thing. Having our boats rocked is nerve- racking, least of all stepping out of it. Business Strategist and International Speaker, Jim Kwik once said this: If an egg is broken by an outside force, life ends. If broken by an inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from inside. How true. If you really want change, it has to first start from you. You must first decide to break the shell that surrounds you. It is easy to keep staying in your own comfort zone but the longer you do, you rot and die.

However, if you are willing to change your mindset and to come out of the shell, you will soon discover that there are indeed new horizons, new grounds you can break into. You will begin to find new hope, exciting beginnings and perhaps discover a new you.

I don’t know about you but I am easy on my hairstylist when it comes to my hair. I have told her since day one to style my hair whichever way she likes. Trim, crop, layer, fringe, colour, highlight… whatever she thinks is good, I am open. Being an artist myself, I do understand the need to be given the freedom to create and not be inhibited by what one can or cannot do. After all, it is only hair not plastic surgery, so I see no point in fussing over something that will outgrow within a couple of months. No, I have not gone bold in colouring my hair blonde but I might someday, just for the fun of it!

Well, some months back, I needed a hair cut badly so I paid a visit to my hairdresser. As she was busy working on my head while I was slowly drowsing in my chair, in walked this lady wearing long straight hair. She threw herself on the chair just next to me and soon after, a hairdresser hurried over to serve her. The hairdresser asked, “So what can I do for you today?” The lady rattled in her ethnic accent and said, “I would like a new look. I am tired of this.” The hairdresser thought silently, ran his fingers through her strands and said, “I suggest we crop the length so you have a bob look.” Immediately, she rebutted, “No, I like it long.” The hairdresser tried again. “Ok. Mm…how about I do some layering at the side so that there is more shape and style.” The lady again rebutted, “No, it’s very hard to maintain.” This exchange went on for at least 10-15 minutes and I could tell from the reflection in the mirror that the hairdresser was getting a little impatient. As much as he tried, he could no longer convince her to change. He could only adhere to whatever she wanted. Well, about an hour later, I was awakened from my stupor by the buzzing sound and smell of hairspray. I looked up and realised that the lady next to me was done. I peeked at her so- called ‘new look’ and realised that it was EXACTLY the way it was when she first came in. Nothing much has changed. The style remains the same, the length just slightly shorter.

Have you ever tried talking sense to a person only to realise, after a while, that you are hitting a wall? The mindset, beliefs and convictions are so ingrained that it is impossible to penetrate through, least of all line a crack. Muhammad Yunus, Economist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient and the man behind the idea of microcredit and microfinance once said this: My greatest challenge has been to change the mindset of people… We see things the way our minds have instructed our eyes to see. I couldn’t agree more. In his book, The Green Bench II, author Dr Matt Rawlins, who also happens to be a good friend of mine, illustrated the fact that we build our perceptions and beliefs about our world based on the meanings we add to the data/observations we received in and around our lives. Based on these meanings, we begin to make assumptions and therefore draw certain conclusions. With these conclusions, we begin to adopt beliefs about the world we live in. Our actions eventually is based on such beliefs.

William James, an American philosopher and pyschologist once said: The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds. How true. A fixed mindset and a refusal to change is one of the biggest obstacle to growth. People with a fixed mindset and belief system are often intensely defensive when challenged with controversial ideas because their minds are so closed up, it leaves no entry for new ones. They become so concrete in their thinking, so conclusive on what they think is black and white, right and wrong, that they cannot see the in-betweens, thus shutting themselves from exploring new possibilities.

People with such mindsets may want to start a new chapter in their lives but their rigidity kept them from moving on. Instead, they keep re-reading the old chapters and eventually limit their own growth. They would rather die in fear than live in adventure and uncertainty. See, for a tree to retain its health, pruning is much needed. For it to grow and blossom into fruitfulness, dead leaves must be discarded, overgrown stems trimmed. Likewise, in our own lives – in order that we grow in every way, we must be willing to change our mindset and belief system. We must be willing to uproot any false beliefs and let go assumptions we have hung on for years. Painfully humbling it may be but we must allow others to help us pull out those dead weeds in our lives. Unless we are willing to go through all the painful process, change cannot happen and growth not realised. But if we are willing to be trimmed, it will be more than a hairstyle we are changing. It will be our entire life.

Nancy Lee is a creative director, who loves to act in dramas. She writes a monthly newsletter known as Earth Muse.

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Jun
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Tue
7:30 pm Drama Workshop
Drama Workshop
Jun 26 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Teaching on Acting Fundamentals What really is acting? How does an actor progress to become the character in the play? What are some of the basic acting skills needed for theatre practice? Come, join us[...]
Jun
28
Thu
7:30 pm Drama Workshop
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Teaching on Acting Fundamentals What really is acting? How does an actor progress to become the character in the play? What are some of the basic acting skills needed for theatre practice? Come, join us[...]
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Family Month will culminate in this exciting activity called ‘Race o Life’. Team members will journey together to complete tasks within a limited time and experience the challenge of running the race with their family[...]
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