I am soooooo excited to bring you the new ‘Inspiration on Paper’ series, a collection of thematic prints to be released monthly. These prints can be used in different places - your inspiration boards, planners, journals, desks, walls and even bathroom mirrors - as inspirational or motivational reminders. You can follow the theme and have everything up as a cohesive unit, use each print separately or even pair them with your other inspirational prints or items.
As someone who tends to live in my own world and daydreams, and spend much of my time reflecting and contemplating, I hope to share some parts of my inner world not just through words sent out into the digital world, but also physically and tangibly on paper in various forms. As a paper and stationery lover, this is such a dream! Haha I can feel every cell in my body tingling with excitement even as I type this.
‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’ – the very first collection in this new series. A recent visit to my homeland, Singapore, planted this conviction in me. As an immigrant living in the US for almost 20 years, I struggle with finding my inner circle and trying to fit in. In my early days here, I was wide-eye and hopeful in my new adventure, confident of my abilities and social skills. But let’s just say that things did not go as well as I thought it would. After several hard knocks in various aspects of my new life, I gradually grew weary and wary, and instinctively, I withdrew and waited to live instead - waiting for a day when maybe I could move back to Singapore (or even just to a bigger city in the US) and start living again.
And that is how I had been living (or not living) for almost 20 years. Without me even realizing it.
But this trip back to Singapore brought this issue to light when I realized that after living abroad for so long, I have changed, Singapore has changed, and what was familiar and comforting before has now become foreign. People who have lived abroad often talk about the reverse culture shock when they move back to their home countries. Well, it is true.
The good thing that came out of this experience is that I can now close the door to my Plan B (moving back to Singapore, moving back to my comfort zone) and finally come to terms with my reality – my life is now where I am in the US. I can now clearly see how I had withdrawn into my own cave in an attempt to protect myself from rejection, hurts and disappointments, but it is time to walk out into the sunshine.
So how can we bloom where we are planted?
The first step is to accept the place where we are right now. We are HERE. That’s it. Of course, there are instances where we should and need to fight to get out of the unjust or unhealthy situation we are in, but I would like to focus on the other side of the coin where there are times when we need to accept our reality in order for us to live as well as we can, instead of waiting for our circumstance to change before we fully commit to living our lives fully.
Besides accepting our current situation, we also need to acknowledge and accept our regrets. Yes, these things happened, much as we wish they didn't, but they are a part of us and have made us who we are today. Instead of denying them or running away from the, maybe in embracing these regrets and pains, their hold on us can finally be loosened; instead of living in the land of ‘what ifs’, we can begin to appreciate what we have and who we are right now - flaws, scars and all.
Will you choose to live in ‘imagined futures’ or be fully present in your ‘lived reality’ and make the best of it?
Once we accept our less-than-ideal situation, we may need to adjust our original expectations and standards to better fit our current reality. We may have to adjust our definition of what it means for us to bloom or our expectations on how our ideal self and life should look like. Instead of the usual takes on what thriving and being successful look like, ask yourself what blooming means to you in your situation.
Once we are ready to accept our reality, we will also be able to open our eyes and hearts to appreciate what we have right now. With gratitude comes contentment. Without the constant struggle of wanting more and wanting something different, peace and calm can finally fill the emptiness.
4. Be Present
With a new peace guarding our hearts and minds, there is now space for clarity, and we can begin to live in the now and appreciate what is in front of us with new eyes. Sometimes I wonder if being present is to simply zoom in and focus on just one thing, so much so that all we see is that one thing. Everything else is shut out – the scary outside world, the shouting, the noise, the hustle and bustle, the problems (all these things which a lot of times we have little control over) – and we just focus on that one small thing or task. It can be a dirty plate in our hands, the soapy bubbles on it, the water running over our hands as we wash that plate – softly, gently, tenderly. Maybe this microscopic view of being present closes off the rest of the world for just that moment, creating a space for us to consciously know that ‘I am here’, a chance for us to center and gather ourselves, so that we can re-enter the crazy world.
5. Look For Opportunities
Finally, we need to look for opportunities to thrive, to grow, to make connections. Be proactive. Get up, take that step out of the door and look for them. Make the most out of your day. And live.
It will be a struggle, a daily struggle, a moment-to-moment struggle, because there will be many entrenched mindsets and old habits to break. But even so...
“Even if you find yourself planted under some concrete at the moment, look for the crack in the concrete to find your way out. And despite all odds, choose to bloom anyways.”
- Smita Malhotra, M.D.
*Shop 'Bloom Where You Are Planted' collection here