During one of the tours I’ve taken in Singapore our tour guide spoke about a local programme that helps the Singapore community to truly thrive, the ABC programme. It’s designed to bring people together, locals and tourists alike. To continue to promote the beauty of the diverse, but tiny island, to continue to attract people. It’s designed to keep the island clean, environmentally and safety wise. It’s government backed but also supported by an outreach charity.
The traffic in the city remains low; people chose to walk or ride the MRT as it helps keep them young and active. I’ve seen groups of Singaporeans meditating in the park, getting together to do a night run and all the while encouraging tourists to do the same. The city feels alive with people being outside and active!
The people are very friendly, they are happy to share their experience of this beautiful country whether it be the history of how they got to living the life they love today, or whether it is something less significant like a restaurant recommendation. The commonality which shines through is the pride that they have in their culture and community.
The city and parks are stunning! The greenery and architecture is outstanding! There is something for everyone to enjoy here. The food has been great; again something for everyone to enjoy. I particularly enjoyed the hainanese chicken rice, so fragrant and fresh! Chilli crab would be another recommendation!
We got talking to our taxi driver last night and he was telling the importance of national service to teach self-discipline to the youth. He was proud to have served his country and spoke of the learning he had taken from neighbour militaries who help train the Singaporean servicemen. He was happy to share his opinion on why the crime rates remain so low; his belief is that punishment remains harsh, dealt penalty exists, as a result people continue to respect their authority. There is a 300$ fine for littering for example, and so you see zero rubbish lying around on pavements, the gardens or the beaches. I must say it’s been a long time since I’ve walked through my own city and felt as safe as I did walking around Singapore.
It got me thinking about my time in recovery and that I could identify with so much of what our guide spoke of.
My take on active…
I remain active because it teaches me the self-discipline of working towards a goal. Whether it’s aiming for one more rep when weight training, a faster km during intervals or a mile further in my distance runs: the common goal is I have to remain active and consistent to be in with a chance of achieving.
Being active for me in early recovery involved nothing more than walking the dog or a simple stretching routine. It was all I could face, the limit of my attention span was hit virtually minutes after any beginning. This remains a staple part of my daily routine today, though I’ve added weight training, running and yoga in addition… all of which test me, make me vulnerable at times and require me to make a commitment.
Any form of activity forces me outside of my head, I have to focus on what’s in hand rather than listening to my racing thoughts and negative mindset. I struggled with this to begin with but today I have got far better at embracing it!
Being active encourages me to connect with other people, there’s no sense of community spirit like a run to get you pouring your heart out to a complete stranger; I’ve laughed and cried my way around races over the last year, in the company of people I’m likely to never meet again. I once read that everyone who tackles a run is running to shed something and today I firmly believe in the connection between running and mental health. I encourage anyone to try it! In the gym I have to get vulnerable; I ask for help to check my form or ask for a spot towards the end of a heavy set. Asking for help never came naturally to me but as I’ve learnt, progress is key. To make progress, I have to practice this at every opportunity I can to help me learn!
My take on beautiful:
I think coco Chanel once quoted “beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” and how true that is!
Beauty for me was always external until I got clean and sober. I fixated on changing the way I looked, material things and other people’s perceptions of me. It was a shock for me to work out that 2 of my biggest ‘defects of character’ were in fact ego and pride! I never thought of myself as someone who had a big ego, but today I am aware that because of such low self esteem I relied on ego boosts for a false sense of worth! I have to practice building self esteem to avoid the ever so familiar ways of boasting and appearing full of myself from the outside.
Recovery has helped me improve leaps and bounds when it comes to self esteem. Writing my daily inventory keeps me honest and true to my core principles, some still under discovery today. I reflect to look at what I have accomplished or what I have handled well at the end of each day; the realisation of the positives throughout my day, strength I have shown and self-care certainly helps my mindset! Analysing the lessons for tomorrow helps me see negatives as an opportunity to learn from rather than things to beat myself up over for days upon end. And then there is gratitude… I write a daily list of everything I’m grateful for, no matter how big or significant. This really helps transform my way of thinking!
I’m more able now then ever before, to remain present in a moment or in my day. I can put projection at bay and take in my surroundings. Nature and the great outdoors has so much to offer; scenery for me gives me serenity. I find nothing more calming than being outside in nature, taking in the beauty of the backdrops in front of me, the sounds around me or the smells filling the air.
I am able to sit and have a conversation with other people; this is incredible for so many reasons. I believe I have something to offer in conversations with friends and family today. I am, after all, learning to give myself some compassion and kindness. I am able to listen; prior to my recovery I would be present in body but not in mind because I’d be obsessing over a solution (more than likely alcohol or drug related) to the ever-growing fear inside of me! What if I say the wrong thing, what if they think I’m stupid, what if I get this wrong? All the what-ifs are now silenced as quickly as they arise in my head thanks to my programme of recovery.
Beauty for me now exists in my heart and experiences. I can take positives from virtually everyone and everything! And after 13 months of practicing being thankful; I truly am grateful to be alive today in this world filled with so much beauty.
My take on clean:
No longer is my body being pumped with poison. It’s been 13.5 months since I last used or drank. For me being clean this long is a miracle. I drank and used my way through 17 years of avoiding feelings. I drank to oblivion every time to escape reality. I couldn’t cope with living my life without the best friends that had become, alcohol and cocaine.
Today being clean means more than just remaining abstinent.
Today I strive to live an honest, open and willing life. Honestly and openness were long gone in my chaotic using days. I’d tell lie after lie to cover up my appalling behaviour. I’d cheat and steal my way through life, whether it be work, family or friendship situations. I got so used to living on a rollercoaster of extreme highs and lows, I’d create unnecessary drama to feel some type of normality, worth or to simply justify my existence.
Writing and sharing my moral inventory cemented my realisation that I had to change. I had become willing to do things a different way, I had recognised for quite some time that my way of living would only ever result in death before too long.
It’s been painful, raw and at times unbearable but what matters is… I’ve got through it one day at a time.
I am now at the point where I am honest, open and willing enough to begin sharing my experience with others. I want others to get a taste of the life I have rebuilt, so they can see the strength and hope that being in recovery gives to a person.
Of course in life I encounter people who infuriate me, upset me and hurt me. It would be unrealistic of me to say that everyday of my life is now perfect. It’s not. However I now have the toolkit to act instead of react to situations, feelings and actions.
I am learning to be more tolerable, patient and kind to those in my life. New and old. By no means am I a saint, I still have days where I slip up. Just the other day I upset my mum and husband in a matter of 20 seconds by reacting to something that I had chosen to misunderstand rather than communicate how it had made me feel, listen to their take and learn. And so, it got written down in my daily inventory, I made my amends and I hope to act differently should I similar situation occur in the future.
Being clean to me today means keeping my side of the street clean.
I find it utterly astonishing that I am able to think, learn and take on other people’s ways of living today so naturally.
Visiting Singapore has been a breath of fresh air! The people, the culture, the country are a perfect example of their programme: active, beautiful and clean.