I am a little late to the party but I have only just finished this book sometime last month.

@freestocks

{photo by: @freestocks}

 

The Versions Of Us by Laura Barnett

“What if you had said yes …? Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog. What happens next will determine the rest of their lives. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day. The Versions of Us is an outstanding debut novel about the choices we make and the different paths that our lives might follow. What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?”

I was intrigued with the beginning, but very soon I got caught in the web of confusion as the story broke out in three different versions. As I progressed into the book, it got harder and harder to keep track of which version I was in, or even how the versions started out. A number of times I got the versions mixed up in my head. I must admit I was frustrated at some points of the book. Only because I couldn’t remember correctly what happened in the last chapter(s).

I didn’t think I’d like this book much because of how difficult it was to read & relate. What I wasn’t aware of was how deep I got sucked in, attaching my soul to the characters in every version of the story. My soul was split into Horcruxes, I’m sure of it.

This book is an emotional rollercoaster ride for me – it made me smiled, it made me angry, it made me throw my hands up out of sheer disgust with the ways of the universe. And these things in the book, they happen in real life. With joy comes sorrow. Happiness that doesn’t last, contentment mistaken for happiness. The amount of betrayal and lies laced in the everybody’s lives hurt me more than I expect. At certain points it became too painful to read. But what surprised me most is how much I actually sobbed (so loud as well) as I completed the book. It surprised me because like I mentioned, these are things that happen, things that you expect. Or maybe I’m this big cry baby so everything makes me cry anyway. And what I think Laura Barnett so wonderfully reminds us at the end is that love will always find you. And once found, love will always stay. Love doesn’t always conquer everything, but love will always stay, until the end of time.

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Allow me to share with you a couple of my favourite quotes from the book:

“…he is old enough now to know happiness for what it is: brief and fleeting, not a state to strive for, to seek to live in, but to catch when it comes, and to hold on to for as long as you can.”

“What would my life have been without you?”

And to the last quote, my friends, I will say:

Everything & nothing.

 

 

Disclaimer: The book link above is a Book Depository affiliate link. If you buy books using any of the links I have provided, I will receive a 5% commission. That said, any profits made from this blog/post will be reinvested into the future of this blog, of course. Thank you!

 

 

Toodles. ♥

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If you have been following my journey in the last few months, you would realise that it has been 5 months since I dropped everything and left sunny Singapore for cold, grey London skies.

I won’t lie; I have naively thought that the transition would be a little more smooth sailing. Oh, life’s transition is perfectly fine – I feel very much at home here, all thanks to close friends, boyfriend, & his wonderful family. But the progress and process to attain a right to live and work in the UK is far more complicated and cumbersome. The never-ending requirements and hidden fine prints are enough to send me up the walls.

The whole of last week I had to digest the new information, the new…demands of bureaucracy (I swear, bureaucracy is my new constant word these days) and quite frankly, that has gotten me down in the dumps. Half the time I found myself in denial, the other half of the time I spent hating on how difficult things are turning out right now. And at all times, C. has been nothing but so very kind and helpful, always optimistic and trying to make me see the issues in a different light. It wasn’t helping me at first, but he is constantly giving me hope until I am slowly starting to believe again, that everything will be alright soon.

And in those moments of hopeful thoughts, I channelled my energy to happier things. All my worries about how this new development is going to affect me – financially, mentally, physically – I repackaged them and sold it to myself in the form of a sabbatical. I have never really thought about it this way because I have always imagined that I would be able to jump right back to work once I settled my visa etc. Now that it isn’t all that simple, I have to buy the idea of a sabbatical. It’s not a terrible idea anyway. I can guess many might only be too happy to trade their places for mine. Not that I would let you, really, I’m quite happy here. But hey, it is making me feel a lot better. To acknowledge that I *am* on a sabbatical right now. I have all the time in the world now to do whatever I want, and I feel this is the best time for me to focus on ME.

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♦ To start with, I had a brainwave to revamp this blog. For reals. I acknowledge that in the past I haven’t been the most consistent blogger and this year I intend to change that. I want to be able to properly share my thoughts and improve my writings. And to do this, I will be starting off with a few new features that hopefully will stay regular. By making it regular, I hope it will keep me in check and disciplined enough to put more of me into this space that I call my own. I am looking forward to prettify this little corner on the internet (this is work in progress, some time in the week there should be some sort of visual changes), and tomorrow the first of my new feature will go live! So please hang around and check it out!

♦ Secondly, I am picking up French again! C. introduced Duolingo to me some weeks back and I must say, it is such a fun way to learn a new language! It is also free which is the best aha. However, procrastination is in my blood, I am not on top of it yet but apparently I am now at Level 6 and am 13% fluent in French! Merveilleux!

♦ I have been reading loads in the past few months – you can follow my reading challenge here on Goodreads. This year’s goal is to hit 25 books by the end of 2017. I seem to be doing pretty well, I have done 7 books out of 25! I have every intention to increase my goal but I am also setting myself monthly book goals on the side. I am supposed to finish 4 books in February but alas, only 1 book achieved this month. I will do my best to talk about the books I’ve read and yes, it will be one of those new features I was telling you about. C. is being an absolute delight, he wants to surprise me with a book each month and who am I to say no to that?

♦ It is a little disheartening that I haven’t ran / gone to the gym in ages. Every day I wake up telling myself today will be the day I start working out again. Never happened. I am still working up the motivation to make that first step – after months of slacking – so wish me luck!

So there you go, bits and pieces of my life thus far. Hopefully everything will fall into place soon and this whole new life I have been pursuing will then begin. There is always a time and place for everything. But until then, let me enjoy this freedom and time I have in abundance right now.

Toodles. ♥

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City of stars, are you shining just for me? 

 

I watched La La Land recently; the boyfriend was very keen since he heard raving reviews about it.

*May include spoilers, should you proceed to read.

A love story, of fragmented dreams. It’s about what it takes to make dreams come true. It’s about how much you want something, and how much you are willing to lose to gain that one thing that you have always wanted. It’s about how your dreams can change – or rather, how you alter your dreams to your situation thinking it is what you want, when in fact, you know it is probably not. Fragmented dreams.

It was a film like no other – it’s not quite Mamma Mia, but here we also established that Ryan Gosling’s singing voice is very strange. In most musical-like films, everything tends to be perfect: the singing, the plot, the choreography. Usually a lot of singing. But in La La Land, there is some singing, some random dancing, & a lot of instrumentals which I did enjoy. I’d recommend y’all to watch it.

A few surprises:

  1. We liked how there was a smooth plot/story line amidst the dancing & singing. That is saying a lot for the boyfriend because he admits the usual cotton candy dancing in the clouds does not appeal to him. He quite enjoyed the film, so that’s the first surprise for me lol. Throughout the movie, I kept looking at him to see if he had fallen asleep/bored enough to throw his popcorn at the screen, but his attention was rapt.
  2. We thought the ending was quite clever – here’s a spoiler!- the leads did not end up together, happily ever after; but apart, happy enough with their own accomplished lives. There were a succession of flashback scenes, alternate realities to show the audience what could’ve been. And sadly, I believe they would’ve lived much happier lives, however ways their individual dreams would have turned out. I must say the “what could have been” bits got to me. Because they happen in real lives, because once too many times I have walked into the woods of what could have been, because once too many times I have been trapped in those realities. That said, I did not cry like a baby, and both the boyfriend & myself are very proud. I would also have rolled my eyes so hard if they did end up together because Hollywood.
  3. Ryan Gosling’s singing voice is really strange, have I already mentioned that? Although I am starting to get hooked into “City of Stars”, sung by Ryan Gosling & Emma Stone. It’s definitely not his voice I am listening to, there is a hopeful but melancholic pull in the tunes. I blame the minor keys. “Audition (The Fools Who Dream)” is actually another neat song.

Here’s to the ones who dream
Foolish as they may seem
Here’s to the hearts that ache
Here’s to the mess we make

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More often than not, I have thought of myself as the world’s biggest fool. Chasing dreams so sublime. Making such messes of myself at this age, it was almost embarrassing.

But here, here’s to us fools who dream; because no matter how crazy they seem, they are your dreams. You shouldn’t be embarrassed, you shouldn’t be discouraged. In fact, you should be afraid.

“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them. If your dreams don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.” – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

So they say.

Trust me, I was scared plenty. All day, everyday. Freaking out in my head all the time. Thinking, what on earth are you doing with yourself, Alex? Not once did this fear cease. It scared me enough to keep me going. I would rather be scared right now, than to look back at this moment 10 years later & ask myself: “What if?” What if I had been braver? What if I had fought for my dreams/my love/my life? 

And if any chance my answers begin with, “I wished I had…”, they would then be regrets too big for me to carry.

 

So what if I am the world’s biggest fool?

Dreams do come true. And I would do it all over again.

Have you watched the film yet? What do you think about it? Let me know x.

Toodles. ♥

I welcomed 2017 with bittersweet hope, looking down the road full of uncertainties. In my last post, I spoke of never-ending brick walls in my way. I was nearly in despair, only to be reminded of the love & support I am surrounded by. It was the one bubble keeping me hopeful & pushing me on. Continuously whacking at that brick wall with my battered hammer.

And today, I am happy to announce that I have finally broken down that brick wall! Made a huge hole in it, and watched it crumble. Then proceeded to climb over it; now I’m seated on the remnants of that wall, sipping on my iced lemon tea, and staring at yet another brick wall a little further down the road. But that’s ok! Nothing can dampen the triumph I feel right now. The sense of achievement, the appreciation of just how much I have accomplished, & the cognizance of how far I have come.

The most important lesson I’ve learnt in 2016 is perseverance brings progress. One step at a time, things started to work out. There was always something in the way, rocks, boulders, rivers, you name it. All the damned time. I started wishing so hard for things to be over, for everything to come together already but all I experienced was the seconds ticking by like they always have, speed unchanged despite my fervour prayers.

I had to learn, that there is a time and place for everything. And there was. Every action, every decision, every turn led me to where I am right now. It wasn’t always easy. But I always remember believing in the magic.

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“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

 

Like how I’ve wished so hard for snow to come falling and, finally I got to see snow woo-hoo!

I honestly believed in that. It is one of those things that I keep telling myself over the years whenever I come across adversities. It is one way of letting myself discover how much I really want something. Because one can only have so many dreams, and one can only achieve all of them if they really want to. Don’t you think?

 

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

 

I promised myself I wouldn’t let the fear of failure stop me. Even if I think it almost did. My mom never lets me forget that it’s ok to try again (& again & again & again…). It’s not the end of the world.

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 “The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”

 

And that, my friends, is how perseverance brings progress. Because by the eighth time, you would’ve set fire to the rain.

I did.

After two long years of paperwork, exams, and bureaucrazy, I am finally a registered nurse in this country I now call home. It was just yesterday that I was reminded that it has been 2 years since I graduated, since I made the decision to make my dreams a reality.

I don’t think I have ever been more proud of myself.

Right. Off to tackle that brick wall down the hall. Beyond that wall lies my new phase in life & I can hardly wait to begin.

To my first success of 2017.

 

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Toodles. ♥

Christmas has come and gone, so did Boxing Day. How’s the shopping going, guys?

It dawned upon me on Christmas day that what I actually enjoy more than Christmas itself, were the days leading up to it. The anticipation, the excitement, the surprises. That said, I had a wonderful, quiet Christmas with the boyfriend & his family. I helped put up the Christmas tree aaaaaaannnnnnnnndddddddd I also got a bunch of Christmas presents (yayyyyyyy!) – total kid at heart here. My first proper English Christmas & the boyfriend wanted to make sure I enjoyed every single bit of this festive season. And I did, I really did. ♥

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In the short month that I was away (from the blog), there have been a couple of happenings. Things that I won’t be thoroughly detailing out. Let’s just say that as much as I can hardly wait for the new year to begin, I am wary, so so wary, of what will be in the new year. I am uncertain, and so is my future.

“New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings.”

I’d like to believe that. After all, tough times never last, tough people do. Right?

I ran into yet another brick wall and once again I am stumped, almost defeated & kneeled helplessly in front of said brick wall. Despaired as I was, I actually have so many things to be thankful for. I am surrounded by friends & family who love me, applauding me for my successes as of date. They held out their hands and told me it is not the end of the world. Their words of encouragement mean so much to me, what would I have done without them? I admit I was tired, it was a stupid brick wall that shouldn’t have been, but yet there was. In the darkest corner of my heart, I felt the little flame of fight went out. It was scary, I honestly felt like I was already defeated and the worst is simply yet to come.

It was then that I realised that it wasn’t the fear of failure that paralysed me, it was the fear of not being able to stand up again after the fall. That was the fear I felt in the darkest corner of my heart. It was that fear that gripped my whole heart and turned it cold. And still, I have more things to be grateful for. The fact that I am here, with people I love, still able to go on and celebrate Christmas. It really wasn’t the end of the world for me. My friends reminded me: “You have come this far, you mustn’t give up now. You are so, so close. Closer than anyone has ever been.”

And they are right. I am SO CLOSE. Closer than I can ever imagine. I am here, & I am going to complete this journey. I just got to keep trying.

One of my closest friend said to me: “The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”

I want it so bad.

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It is painful for me to share that Bobby, the family dog, had left us and went seeking for dog heaven yesterday. We are all shocked & devastated, and I worry for my parents the most. Bobby had been such a joy for them both, they are still in denial. Maybe I am, too. We still can’t accept that he’s gone. I hope my sister is okay too.

Grief. Grief has not hit me this hard in such a long while. But with grief, there is also love.

And life goes on, like it always does. Life always goes on.

May the new year bring new beginnings. One can only hope.

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Happy New Year, everyone.

 

Toodles. ♥