Keeping up with 2016

Are we close to the end of February already?

For some reason, the Christmas festivities and craziness seem to extend well into 2016 and I am still trying to play catch up.

I think it has something to go with the fact that my husband’s been away a fair bit, the weather’s been dreary and we’ve got an influx of visitors from far and wide coming to stay with us almost every other weekend.

After staying in Switzerland and experiencing change in seasons for almost 8 years, I still haven’t really warmed up (pun intended) to the biting cold, flu bugs, dry flaky skin, body aches and skies turning dark at 5pm.

The ski/snowboard devil, together with his earthly minions disguised as cool, crazy friends, has abducted my husband and kids for the whole season, somewhat akin to Hades keeping Persephone in the underworld. Anyone who knows my husband knows I am not exaggerating here!

IMG_3088I’ve survived and conquered the Sports Ferien at our ski apartment in the mountains last week with 2 families and 7 young boys! My husband was travelling for the week, one of the mums was working 100% so she couldn’t join us but bizarrely it was the most relaxing week I’ve had since mid December. The boys and dads were skiing the whole day so the mayhem only came in the evening with everyone vying for showers and snacks, the womenfolk preparing dinner and winding the kids down for the night’s sleep.

The New Year really came with a blast for me personally. I am finally brave enough, or maybe it was the chaos and busyness of entering into a new year that propelled me to pursue my passion in painting. The last time I’ve painted was perhaps 6 years ago, and it was a fleeting hobby that I never really indulge in with 2 young kids taking up most of my time and draining most of my energy.

The kids are still a handful but a lot less dependent on me now. They are a source of inspiration to me and I find the peace and quiet within me through painting to survive the lack of sunshine and the mundane daily routine.

My boys love seeing me in my element when I am sitting on the cold floor with paint blotches all over my hands and I think they do feel proud that mommy is becoming an artist! Of course they still complain that my cooking sucks and I still mix up my husband and kids’ underwear every now and then…

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You can check out my complete art portfolio at amyangatelier.wordpress.com

 

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A winter sonata

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageComing from a tropical island with no seasons, I’m always amazed by the bronze, amber and yellow falling autumn leaves, the mysterious swirly fog (well the smog that blows through from Indonesia doesn’t count!), blooming spring flowers and heady lavender scents. The snow capped mountains and wintry landscapes are the most special to me. I can’t help but feel so tiny standing in a vast, white soft field of… Nothing. Everything feels clean, pure and quiet in winter.

Fighting the weather blues

I spent a good part of the harsh European winter basking in the warmth and soaking in, or rather, soaking wet with sweat, in sunny Australia and Singapore.

This trip has really lifted my spirits; I felt my batteries recharged and I’m all geared up to take on the new year. After the initial excitement of having snowy white Christmases and New Year countdowns with spectacular fireworks in Europe have kind of worn off, the bitter cold and lack of sunshine have finally gotten to me after 3 years.

I never knew how much the weather can affect one’s mood. In Singapore we use to gripe about the humidity, the heat, the haze (when our neighbors in Indonesia start their slash-and-burn activities) and the torrential rain. Now, I think I’ll rather drown in my own prespiration 365 days than face the grim darkness and fog 6 months a year. And to think I’ve escaped the worst temperature drop in Europe when it got to as low as -20 degrees celsius. This is the time where everyone falls ill and we can’t arrange for playdates because every other kid is having a sniffly nose with snot smeared on his tiny face.

I read in some magazine about Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D), also known as winter depression or winter blues, where people with normal mental health throughout the year experience depressive symptoms in a particular season. Apart from the weather, I think it is also the reduced level of social interaction that makes people depress. In summer, you’ll see throngs of people out and about, having morning jogs, riding their bikes and sunbathing on whatever scanty patch of grass they can find. In winter, I’ll be happy to even see one person walking his dog by the lake. The suicide rate for village settlements in valleys or countries, particularly in Scandinavia, with only few months of sunshine, is generally higher too.

I am thankful that I can escape the cold every year by going overseas. But when my son starts school proper in a few years, it’ll be harder to take time off and stay away for long periods of time. This calls for desperate measures. I’ve penned down some ideas I think could help alleviate S.A.D come next winter. Most medical sites and even wikipedia suggest using light therapy to combat S.A.D. I will consider:

1) Buying a Star Wars-type laser beam that releases light. This is cheap, portable and easy to carry around,

2) Install harsh, whiter-than-white flourescent light rods in the entire house so our home looks like a science lab,

3) Cover my feature wall with motifs of spring and summer like clear blue skies, flowers, sun; and even have sound recording of birds chirping to the tune of Vivaldi’s ‘Spring’ and ‘Summer’ concertos,

4) Build an adult size bed like the cribs that newborns with jaundice are placed in,

5) Buy a ski resort high above the fog where you can still get plenty of sunshine,

6) Take strong sleeping pills so I can sleep through the entire winter.


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