Is it Possible to Have Rewarding Relationships While Travelling for Work?

ihg internet surveyRecently, I had the opportunity to be part of an interesting project on a topic that is close to my heart and participated as a Relationship Expert to comment on the latest survey by InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG). It revealed that travellers miss their connection when they're abroad, stating that staying in touch with loved ones at home is of top priority. 
 
As a frequent business traveller, I would have to agree with this as I often find myself getting frustrated if I'm unable to access the internet from my hotel room to get in touch with hubby and the kids back home. The worst thing that can happen after a long and tiring flight is to find out that there's no Wi-Fi in the hotel room! My favourite channel to contact home is either through Skype or FaceTime, much like the rest of the Singapore respondents. I believe that when communicating with our loved ones back home, having a video call is more powerful than a simple text of Internet Message. With video calls, I get to see the kids expressions when I ask them how their day was, and I could even read them a bed time story! :)
 
What really touched me among the many findings was that… Singaporeans, being one of the world's the most frequent travellers, actually make it a point to check in with their loved ones daily!!! Singaporeans actually spend more time online (44 mins) talking to our family than those from Down Under (17 mins) proving that the Asian value of 'family first' is still very strongly inculcated in us in today's day and age.
 
At the end of it, it became very apparent to me how important internet connectivity is for business travellers, like myself, to maintain relationships with our partners and kids when abroad. It is great that hotel groups like IHG with hotel brands such as Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts, Holiday Inn Express and InterContinental offer free internet world wide for members of the IHG Rewards Club, a loyalty programme where you may sign up free of charge!
 
So if you are a frequent business traveller like me, you might want to check them out! :)
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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Finding Love in the Right ‘Places’

love magnifying glassIt was time to meet up with our financial consultant to review our insurance policies. Hence, hubby asked if I could help to locate the insurance file to bring along to the meeting. The funny thing was, for some reason, hubby thought that the documents were in a black file. So, he kept asking me to look for a black file. I searched high and low for that elusive black file. 20 minutes later, I still couldn't locate it. Was starting to get rather frustrated. For some reason, a white file on the shelf caught my eye, so I took it down. I opened the file, and voila! There were all our insurance policies!

I wanted to share this story with you because it occured to me that this is what is happening to many singles out there. We keep a checklist. We have a long list of criteria of what we are looking for. He must be taller than me. She must be beautiful and slim. He must be smart and earning a decent income. She must be intelligent yet not aggressive. He must have a sense of humour. She must know how to cook. And the list goes on. We set parameters in our mind on what we are looking for in our perfect partner. And hence, when someone does not seem to fit into the mould we are looking for, without even giving the person a second chance or glance, we swiftly move on.

Because we are so focused on 'what we think is the perfect one', we miss out on THE perfect one. Just like how I almost never found my file.

I am not saying, "Lower your standards!". I am not saying, "Don't have any parameters!" What I am saying is… be more open minded. When you have too many filters, you are limiting your chances. He might be 170cm when you wanted someone who's 175cm. But honestly, 5cm ain't not going to make a huge difference in the long run. He might not seem like the funniest guy in a crowd. But when you get to know him better, he might make you laugh with his corny jokes. She might not be Ms. Universe, but she has the biggest and most beautiful heart. She might not know how to cook, but both of you could bond through some gourmet cooking lessons!

I am glad I have located my file, by looking in the right places. I hope that by reassessing your criteria and parameters, you too will find your perfect someone soon.

Happy Dating! :)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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The Choice is Yours

Told a friend,

"You think you know what you are looking for. But you know something? Your choices do not show that you know what you are looking for. In fact, you are actually deceiving yourself thinking you are looking for what you think you are looking for."

Are you confused? :)

Well, to cut the long story short, this is someone who told me that he does not mind whether the girl is pretty or not, is young or not, is slim or not. He is just looking for someone whom he can share his life with. Someone whom he can connect with. Sounds like the perfect guy, and perhaps the only guy who is not biologically driven (or some might say shallow)?

The only problem is… his choices in girls show otherwise. Just like most guys out there, he chooses the 'sweet young things'. And when presented with ladies who are not that young, not that slim, and not that good looking, he is nice to them, but he simply is not that interested. And he would cite reasons such as, "We do not have that much in common," or "She is not my type…"

I don't know what's worse. A guy who is biologically driven and knows it, or a guy who thinks he is not biologically driven but in actual fact, he is.

It is so important to know what we are looking for in an ideal partner. And the reasons why we make these choices.

My hubby Jamie like most guys out there used to be extremely biologically driven. He only pursued the prettiest girls in school. Given his height and brooding good looks (in my opinion, haha!), he was quite popular in university. The funniest thing was, he never knew that he was 'shallow' until one of his friends pointed it out to him one day. And then he suddenly realised that he actually did not have much in common with some of these pretty girls that he was pursuing. And that was when he started to ponder on what mattered to him most when it comes to a long-term relationship.

It is an 'open joke' in our relationship that Jamie did not even remember the first time he met me. (I know…) Let's just put it this way… my physical appearance has improved leaps and bounds since Jamie and I first met. I used to have bad skin, frizzy hair, bad makeup skills and poor dress sense. The only reason why our relationship progressed beyond the first meet up is because in Jamie's words,

"We connected very well!"

We could talk for hours. (We can still talk for hours.) And again, in his own words, "She became prettier and prettier as I got to know her!" (Yes, makeup and a good hair cut does do wonders!)

In the end, Jamie chose friendship that blossomed into romantic love. However, most men would choose love (or lust) and hope that friendship will eventually blossom.

We all have a choice. Whatever your choice is, just remember that you will be spending the rest of your life with him or her. Depending on what age you marry, that could be 40, 50, 60 or even 70 years, and that's a long long time. As for people who tell you… marriage has 3 rings, the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering, well… you know what they might have chosen. 😉 Or you could be like some of us who would say on our wedding day,

"Today, I will marry my best friend. The one I laugh with, live for, love."

My dearest friends, please choose wisely…

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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“Violet, why are you SO desperate?”

I dreamt of getting married by the age of 26.

Yes, when I was growing up, that was my goal. To get married by the time I am 26, and to have my first child when I am 28.

I am very blessed… when I finally got married, I actually 'beat' my goal by a year. Jamie and I got married when I was 25 and he was 29. And among our friends, we are one of the few that so-called 'married young'.

Why did I have a target to marry by 26 years old?

Come to think about it… I am not sure. Perhaps I grew up in a family where my parents are deeply in love, and have a stable marriage. I am sure they have their set of marital challenges like everybody else, but they managed to ride through the storms and they provided me with a happy and secure family environment.

Having such a goal since young, I have never been shy to share this goal with people whom I know or guys whom I am dating seriously. I know, I know… some people would ask,

"Aren't you afraid that guys would run away?"

"Aren't you afraid that guys would think that you are desperate to get married?"

"Violet, why are you SO desperate?"

In life, we all have goals and dreams. And at the beginning of every year, we will often set new year resolutions… setting our goals for the upcoming year. And since we can set goals for our career, our health, our travel plans… in other words every single aspect of our lives, why can't we set a goal for our lifelong happiness?

Why are we so afraid to be termed as 'desperate'? Why are we so scared to declare our true intentions? Why are we so worried that we cannot even set our own rules? Instead, we're being ruled by what others want. And some of us are so afraid that we will even go out of our way to tell others… "I don't really need to get married…" when deep down, that's what you truly and deeply yearn for.

With everything in life, you will not succeed unless you have a dream, a strong belief and an action plan.

If you do not even dream of getting married, why would you end up being married?

If you do not believe you would ever be able to get married, chances are you won't.

And you can dream and believe all you want, but if you do not do anything about it, then it's highly unlikely your dream girl or prince charming would just fall from the sky.

Life is short. Do not spend time worrying about what others might think of you or say about you. You cannot please everyone, and neither should you. Do what you think is right. If you are not going to 'fight' for your own happiness, nobody will.

My wish for you in 2012…

For those who are single and looking… be bold. Dare to dream and set a goal for your lifelong happiness. It might not happen overnight or it might not even happen in the year 2012, but if you have a dream that you truly believe in, and you work towards your goal, you can only be one step closer to finding love.

For those who are in a relationship not sure where it is heading… be courageous. What was your dream? Was it to get married by the time you are 26, 28, 30 or 35 years old? Whatever it was, put your foot down and declare your intention. The right guy or girl would not run. Yes you heard me right. He or she might feel very uncomfortable or even scared, but the right person would not bolt. If he or she quits on you, then he or she was never the right one to begin with.

For those who are in happy and fulfilling relationships… be thankful. I am really glad that you have made the right choice. Treasure and cherish your partner for you are truly blessed to have found one another. :)

To my dearest readers, Merry Christmas and have a wonderful year ahead!

If you feel that this post might benefit your single friends who are looking for love, please tweet it or share it on Facebook. 😉 Thank you in advance!

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Seeking Perfection?

Have not updated my blog in months. And the significant other has started to nag me. 'When was the last time you blogged?' he asked.

The reason for the lack of blog posts is usually the same. The lack of time. Or more often the lack of inspiration.

And I guess, the truth is…

The strive for perfection.

I am unable to post up a blog post that I do not feel strongly about. In other words, I refuse to write for the sake of writing. Maybe I should. Because then, I would probably have more frequent posts, and more regular readers. 😉

The strive for perfection is also often the bane when it comes to singles looking for a mate.

Is he tall enough? Is she pretty enough?

Does he earn enough? Is she slim enough?

Is he really nice? Or is he faking it? Or why is he SO nice? There must be something wrong with him.

And when we finally meet the right person, we realise that, they are not perfect after all. Because we have come to realise that it is not possible to find someone who's perfect. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and more often than not, we have many flaws.

It is better to build a relationship with someone who is 'not so perfect' but whom you love, rather than spend your whole life trying to look for that perfect someone, only to be sorely disappointed to know that he or she does not exist. 

And so, what is the definition of perfect?

After being in a relationship with the significant other for 11 years, and being married for 6 years… I have realised that… life's perfect when you are contented…. and happy. It's all in your state of mind.

When you are feeling fulfilled and blissful, everything is perfect…

You can't search out perfection. Perfection will come searching for you! When you have finally put away your check list syndrome, get rid of your emotional baggage, lower your defences, open up your heart… and go into the relationship with an open mind, and a positive attitude.

All the best in your path to meeting perfection…!

P/S I promise I would work on posting more regularly instead of seeking perfection.

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Movie Review: Love in Space 全球热恋

Honestly, I was quite put off with the movie title at first. Love in Space? Hmm…

However, I was attracted to the star-studded cast (Aaron Kwok, Eason Chan, Rene Liu, Xu Fan, Angelababy), and hey, it's a love comedy after all right? Thus, when offered a pair of tickets by omy.sg to catch the preview screening, I decided to give the movie a chance.

To cut the long story short, the movie revolves around a mother and her three daughters who have achieved much in life, but there's something missing in all their lives… you guess it… L.O.V.E. As the story unfolds, we are introduced to the mother and the three lovely daughters – their lives, their aspirations and their love matches.

The movie explores many different themes of romantic love.

Between the mother and her love match, it is about companionship between two people in their twilight years, two people sharing the same interest – cooking. Will love blossom?

Between the first sister and her fellow astronaut (that's probably where the cheesy movie title comes from…), it is about lost love found. They used to date each other, but due to some misunderstandings, they broke up. Will they rekindle their long lost relationship?

Between the second sister and her match, it is about putting aside prejudices and differences, and working together to make a seemingly impossible relationship to work. Will it work?

And between the youngest sister and her beau, it is a love story between a superstar and a 'commoner'. Will she choose love over her career? After all, she has signed a contract to not be in a relationship for 5 years.

Out of the four love stories, the most touching story for me is the love story of the second sister. It is a most unlikely match because she is a cleanliness freak (she actually has to see a psychiatrist for her condition), and he is a rubbish collector. Well, to be fair, he is the only heir in the family-run business, but unfortunately he is involved in the daily operations. They had a false start to their could be relationship, and at one point, it seemed as it their relationship would not stand a chance. But as fate would have it, they ended up bumping into each other again, literally. What really made this love story work is also the chemistry between the actor (Eason Chan) and the actress (Gwei Lun-Mei). 

I would give this movie a 7 out of 10 rating. It is entertaining enough, there were many scenes that got the whole cinema laughing out loud. It is touching enough, quite a number of scenes made me tear. And I did walk out of the movie theatre, feeling that it is time well spent. Even hubby who was initially dragged there to watch the movie had a good time. That says something! ;)

The movie is out in all major cinemas today in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Go catch it now! :)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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How to Snag a Great Guy 101

Recently, an associate shared with me that she and another colleague of ours are very envious of me, because I have snagged such a great guy. My hubby Jamie comes across as a good husband as well as a good father. They even said that my hubby's type of man is probably in extinction. It is not possible to find a man like that anymore.

When I shared this later with my hubby, I said with mock indignant, "How come nobody says that you are a lucky guy?" Hubby said without missing a beat, "I am a lucky guy!" See, I love this man! :)

Jokes aside…. I thought it is long overdue that I share some tips with my dear readers on how to 'snag' a great guy, as truly, I know and believe with all my heart that I am blessed to have met and later 'snag' my dearest hubby. I give thanks everyday to have such a wonderful husband and fantastic father for my children.

So, here's my 'secret' step-by-step approach:

Step 1: Ask yourself, "What is my definition of a great guy?"

Problem is, we are often looking at the wrong things. Before I met Jamie, my definition of a great guy or at least an ideal guy for me is someone who is outgoing, talkative, life of the party… and of course he must be witty and humorous. Anybody who have met Jamie would definitely NOT have used the above adjectives to describe him.

In fact, when I invited him to come for my high school reunion, he asked if he could bring a book, and I said OK. And when he first met some of my ex-colleagues from the bank, they actually asked me, "What do you see in him?!" because he was so quiet then and did not say much. 

I am definitely blessed because even though I must admit I was initially attracted to Jamie for biologically-driven reasons, when I got to know him better, it was beyond the surface. I realised that he is indeed my soul mate because among others, we share the same values and same life goals. It no longer mattered that he is not outgoing, talkative and life of the party…! Now, I wondered what was I thinking then?! :)

The most brilliant diamond is often hidden underneath what might seem like a rough rock. Look beyond the surface. Your perfect match might not come in the package that you expect, but if you could just spend some time to get to know him better, he could be the perfect guy for you.

Step 2: Being happy on your own

Are you happy on your own? Or are you looking for a man to fill the huge empty space in your life? Is this an important question, you might ask? Yes it is. Because depending on your answer, the approach you take to life and finding a man would be very different. 

A woman who is happy on her own comes across as self-assured and confident, and of course happy. A woman who has a huge gap to be filled usually comes across as needy. And being too needy will definitely send most guys packing.

Basically, men want to be with women who are happy, who are contented, who are positive and optimistic. Why? Because when they imagine a future with you, they want to feel warm and fuzzy inside, and not shudder in cold sweat. No man wants to be part of a quarrelsome household. If during the dating and courting stage, you are already complaining and nitpicking about everything under the sun, chances are, he will definitely think twice of continuing with the relationship. 

Are you currently happy? If you are not, find out why. Fix that first. What is your childhood passion? Go pursue your passion. What is a hobby you have been dying to pick up? Do it now. Where do you want to travel to? Apply for leave and pack your bags. When you are a truly happy person, guys will flock to you like bees to honey. Because honestly, we are all attracted to happy people. 

Step 3: Rediscover your Kindness Quotient

Many men, when asked what attracted them to their wives, did not say that because she was pretty or beautiful or even sexy. Many actually said, because she is kind. Are you shocked? Some has also called it the 'Specific Act of Kindness'. Men like women too have certain soft spots and insecurities. Some women worry about coming on too strong. If he is the right type of guy, he probably would not think badly of you. He would just be touched that you are so thoughtful. 

Jamie has shared with me that an act that won him over was when I bought him fizzy cola candies from the nearby cinema, and I dropped them off at his place. To me, it was just a random act, as I happened to be watching movies with friends, and I knew that he likes fizzy cola candies. But for him, the act has spoken volumes.

Another girl I know dedicated her time to helping the guy lose weight even before they become an item. She was so patient, supportive and encouraging, and the guy was so completely touched by her. They eventually got together and he gave her one of the sweetest marriage proposals I have ever heard. And he absolutely adores her.

Men do not like materialistic women. Men do not like opportunistic women. Men do not like to be taken for a ride. In short, men are not stupid.

Instead of thinking of what you can get from the guy, think of what you can give him. And actually, a great guy is not looking for much. He is simply looking for someone who appreciates him for who he is, and someone who is not afraid to give or wear her heart on the sleeve.

At the end of the day, like anything in life, your mindset will determine your behaviour which will in turn determine your actions. If you do not believe that it is possible to 'snag' a great guy, because they are an extinct species, chances are… you won't!

All the great guys are NOT married or gay. There are actually many wonderful men out there if you bother to search and scour. Keep your eyes and mind open, and I assure you, you will be surprised that your 'great guy' could be right under your nose!

Happy dating! 

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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“It was not love at first sight…”

People have often asked me, "When a first date does not progress beyond a second date, what is the main reason?"

The answer given by singles is often the same.

"No chemistry."

When people talk about chemistry, they are hoping to feel the sparks, the 'electricity' or the flutter in the heart. But honestly, if you asked me, that's usually 'lust at first sight' and not 'love at first sight'. :P

Love needs not always be 'at first sight'. Let me share with you a Lunch Actually success story that I have just heard today. *super happy*

They are both from the financial industry. He is about 10 years older. When they first met at the first date arranged by us, she was actually not bowled over by him. In fact, she said, "Could you find me someone taller the next time?" and "I don't think I am comfortable dating someone who's not within my age group…" and "He talks a lot about work!"

What did touch her is his personality – his consideration and his kindness. Even though he was late for the first date, he apologized and bought her dinner (we do arrange dinner dates when requested by our clients :) ). And subsequently when he knew that a relative of hers was undergoing an operation, he checked on her right after the operation to see if everything went OK. 

And now… a year later, after getting to know each other better, they have found the perfect match in each other. And they are tying the knot!!!

Love at first sight can be an extremely romantic notion. But if she has decided not to go on a second date, and subsequently a third and fourth date, because she did not feel the sparks at first… she would have missed out on the chance on finding her soul mate.

Hence, to all singles out there is… when you are contemplating a second date and you feel that there's no chemistry…

Give him/her a chance. Give yourself a chance. Give love a chance.

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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Till We Meet Again On That Beautiful Shore

Close to two years ago, I made a 20 hours journey from Singapore to Rochester, United States with much joy and happiness in my heart as I was going to witness the happy union between two wonderful individuals, my best friend Dr Yap Tsiao Yi and her boyfriend of 9 years Dr Tan Tow Shung.

Last Friday, I made a one hour journey from Singapore to Penang. But this time, it was with a heavy laden heart. Tow Shung has returned to the arms of the Lord last Wednesday on 18 May 2011. When I first heard the news, my first reaction was shock, followed by grief.

Tow Shung was diagnosed with advanced stage metastatic esophageal cancer in Oct 2007. He was only 29. Tow Shung went to Chung Ling High School in Penang before pursuing his medical degree at IMU (then known as IMC) in Kuala Lumpur. He was on the Dean's List. He was the President of the Student Council. Later, he went off to complete his medical degree at McGill University together with Tsiao Yi. Thereafter, he started his medical career at the world-renowned Mayo Clinic. He had an amazing and bright future ahead of him. 

Many people would have asked "Why me?" Many would have curse God. Many would have turn away from their faith. But Tow Shung never did that. His faith in the Lord has never wavered in the last 3 years and 7 months. Tow Shung passed away peacefully at home, lying on his bed, with his wife and best friend Tsiao Yi by his side. And at his bedside table was his bible and other Christian literature.

At the wake service, his soon-to-be 90 years old grandfather shared his memories of Tow Shung. His grandfather said that Tow Shung was a great organiser – he organised his 50th, then 60th wedding anniversary celebration. Tow Shung promised to organise his 90 years old birthday this year…

His mother shared that one of the best qualities of Tow Shung is his sense of responsibility. Even when he was about 4 years old, she could rely on him to look after his baby sister and report on all the important things that have happened while his mum was away.

His younger sister shared about his humility and his consideration for others. She told us about how towards the last few weeks of his life, as his body started to jerk uncontrollably at times and he would drop his utensils or food at the dining table and he would apologise profusely, when their mother would be happy to scold the table instead.

His father spoke about reading the many well-wishes and kind notes on the blog that Tow Shung has created on Caring Bridge to share his journey with cancer. Yes, Tow Shung called it a journey. His father was overwhelmed and in awe with the many messages left on his blog… knowing how many lives Tow Shung has touched and inspired: doctors, nurses, patients, friends and strangers alike all around the world.

Many have written about him in their blogs and their Facebook statuses. One young medical student is so inspired by Tow Shung that he has decided to start a medical blog. He said Dr Tan Tow Shung is his role model.

Tow Shung was not only a serious student but he also knows when and how to have fun. His buddy, a fellow doctor, shared the beautiful memories and fun times they had while studying abroad in this video. 

 

I never got to know Tow Shung as well as I would have liked as he and Tsiao Yi were based in the US, and me in Asia. Yet, reading his blog, I have been deeply inspired by his strength and his courage as he journeyed along the last 3 years and 7 months. Many would have given up and turned bitter with life. Many would have just stopped living, and just let cancer take over their life. But he did not do that.

Tow Shung went on to complete his specialist studies at Mayo Clinic. He tied the knot with his college sweetheart Tsiao Yi after 9 years of courtship.

It was a very beautiful and touching wedding and I am so grateful that I could be there to witness their testament of true and unconditional love. Many were initially apprehensive of their union as he has stage 4 cancer. However, my brave best friend never hesitated as she said 'yes' to his marriage proposal. In the last 3 years and 7 months, she has been his greatest supporter, his caretaker and his pillar of strength.

As they returned to Malaysia last year, he could have just stayed at home and rest, we would all have understand… but yet he continued to touch lives and inspire others as he joined Penang Medical College as a lecturer.

The pastor at the funeral service was right… Tow Shung has lived a full and complete life. Tow Shung has lived his life to the fullest.

At the funeral service last Saturday, there was not one dry eye in the church. Tow Shung has touched all of us in so many ways. He was a faithful believer, a loving husband, a filial son, a caring physician and a loyal brother, nephew, cousin and friend.

His strength and his courage would continue to inspire us all. His positive take on his journey as a cancer patient will always remind me that…

We ALWAYS have a choice. We can either curse and complain when life throws us a curve ball. Or we can face up to it and make the best out of life and live our life to the fullest. For that, I forever thank him…

Tow Shung, till we meet again on that beautiful shore…

 

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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10 Love Lessons Learnt from General Election 2011

Wow, time really flies… I just realised that I have not blogged for 3 months! Sorry for the long absence as I have been very busy with the business, especially our new branch in Taipei, as well as spending time with our family…!

And of course, in recent weeks, I have been one of the many keen followers on the latest updates on the Singapore's General Election 2011.

Now that the dust has settled, I have reflected on the ten lessons I have learnt from this momentous event in Singapore, and how these lessons can be applied to love, dating and relationships.

1. Do not think that what you have done in the past would help you in the present or the future. As much as it is true that the ruling party has brought Singapore from a fishing village to the thriving modern metropolitan it is today, many Singaporeans no longer vote based on the past accomplishments. Application: Similarly, one of the biggest complaints in many relationships is that the guy or the girl puts on his or her best behaviour during courtship, but once the deal is sealed, he or she will stop trying as hard, or keep bringing up all the things that he or she has done in the past. In any relationship, be it between the government and its citizen or between two lovers, constant and consistent effort must be put in to keep the relationship relevant and growing.

2. Do not come across as arrogant. If you read the many forum postings about GE2011, one of the most common traits used to describe the ruling party is 'arrogant'. Application: I can assure you that if your date meets you for the first time, and you come across as arrogant and high-handed, chances are you will not get a second date. The problem is, many a times, the person who has been labelled as arrogant did not even intend to come across as such. They are usually shocked when they know that others view them as arrogant. It's all in the mindset and the attitude. When you go on a date, adopt an open mindset and a positive attitude – take it as an enjoyable experience to make a new friend. Even when you meet the person, and he or she might not be your ideal mate, do not dismiss him or her immediately. You never know… he or she might have a friend or colleague who is the perfect mate for you… and because of your deemed arrogance, you have lost the chance of being introduced!

3. Communication is a two-way street. I remember visiting one of the PAP candidate's FB page, and I was quite surprised that comments are not allowed and wall postings by fans are also not allowed. It set me thinking, "What's the point of having a FB page then?" The ruling party would have realised by now that they have to rethink their social media strategy to connect with the young. Application: When it comes to dating, it is interesting to observe some who just embark on a monologue during dates. They are not even aware that their date is getting extremely bored and disinterested. A good conversation is like a game of table-tennis or ping pong. The ball goes back and forth rhythmically. Each party must be given a chance to participate and air their views.

4. Speak in the same language. Communicating is not enough. You have to speak the same language as your audience. During the GE, I attended rallies and watched the rallies online. And I found it quite amusing how different the various candidates spoke during the rallies, and the varied responses (some good, and some not so good) that they drew from the audience. I have to say, most of the time, the opposition parties did a much better job in rallying the rally goers. Application: When it comes to first dates, you will be shocked to know what people talk about. Some people like to talk about their jobs even though they hate their jobs. And as they delve deeper into their jobs, they would use industry jargons that people generally do not understand and eventually, their date lose interest. Know your date, know what his or her interest is, and engage him or her on the same level.

5. First impressions do matter. In every GE, be it in Singapore or other countries, there are bound to be some 'STARS'. One of the biggest and hottest names in GE2011 is of course Ms. Nicole Seah. Even before she was officially introduced and interviewed, she was already making waves when her official photo was released to the media. Sweet, pretty, fresh-faced are just some of the words used to describe this passionate, confident and well-spoken young lass. Application: Ladies, I know I have said this before, but I am going to say it again… first impressions are very important for first dates. Men are visual creatures. Hence, always put your best foot forward when going on a first date! First impressions are difficult to change… in doubt, just refer to the unfortunate case of Ms. Tin Pei Ling. Her real self could be totally different from what was portrayed in and by the online media, but it is definitely going to be an uphill task changing that initial impression.

6. Commitment is not enough. You need to have passion too. I believe that all the candidates who ran, withstanding the parties they are from are committed to serve the country. However, commitment is not enough. The voters want to see passion too. If your passion to serve is all wrapped up and people cannot see it, it is definitely going to cost you votes. Application: In a relationship, if there's only commitment and no passion, it is known as empty love. Many long-term relationships fall into this trap. They are committed to stay together, but after a while, the romance fizzles out, and like they say, familiarity breeds contempt. Before your relationship spirals down further, it is important to reignite the passion that you once feel for each other when you first started dating. For a marriage to work, you have to work at it. :)

7. Gifts do not always work. In the past, carrots worked like a charm. Lifts upgrading, grow and share packages. This time round, the gifts were no longer as effective as that's not what many of the voters want. I think all future candidates should read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages. Giving gifts is just one of the 5 love languages. The others are acts of service, quality time, touch and words of affirmation. The ruling party seems to be lacking in the last 3 – quality time, touch and words of affirmation. And hence, they started to lose touch with the voters. The opposition parties however struck hard on touch and words of affirmation when connecting with the voters. Application: When it comes to relationships, do you know what your partner's love language is? And are you displaying your affection by speaking his or her love language and not your own? If your love language is act of service, and your partner's love language is quality time, it is obvious why both of you often feel unloved. Once you understand what each other's love language is, you can start speaking in the same language. :) 

8. Watch your words. The biggest buzz word in GE2011 has to be 'REPENT'. Many of my friends and FB friends alike were extremely offended by MM Lee's statement. And ultimately, this word probably contributed to the loss of Aljuneid GRC for the PAP. Application: Similarly, when you are in a relationship, it's so important that you watch what you say. Because a single word can sometimes make a break a relationship. In anger, we often say many things that we do not mean. But hurtful words are like water being thrown out from a pail onto the floor (Chinese Saying). Once it's thrown out, you cannot take it back. When you are in an argument with your loved one, bite your tongue if you have to, but always refrain from sarcasm and contempt.

9. Acknowledge your mistake when you are in the wrong. It has been said that PM Lee Hsien Loong's apology helped to sway some swing voters to vote for PAP. Sorry is indeed the hardest word. I have to force my 2 year old daughter to say it when she does something wrong. And yes, she's only 2!!! Application: Prolonged arguments can be avoided in relationships if one party takes a step back and apologises. When you are in the wrong, put your ego aside, and apologise. It can actually be the best thing you can do to save your relationship or your marriage. Think about it this way, is saving face more important, or is your relationship/marriage more important?

10. Be the right person. Many investors have been holding their breath lest there be a freak election result. Thus, the Singapore's stock market rose sharply after it was announced that the ruling party PAP has returned to power decisively. After the exciting campaigning and hustings, Singaporeans generally voted wisely and rationally. As much as many are not completely satisfied with the ruling party, they still voted for the candidates whom they feel can best serve them in the long run. Opposition parties who did not have strong manifestos or long-term plans were not voted in this time round. Workers' Party who fielded strong and credible candidates and has a convincing manifesto made great strides in this election. Application: When it comes to dating, before one even starts to think about meeting the right person, most importantly one has to be the right person. Because when you are the right candidate, with the right mindset, the right attitude and the right behaviour, you would automatically come across as attractive to your target audience! :)

This has been an extremely insightful and enlightening two weeks for me. The General Election has indeed brought out the best and the worst in many of us. I have been heartened and inspired by heroic acts, touching stories and courageous stance; and I have been brought to tears when I saw how ugly and petty we can be. At the end of the day, I believe it is what we learn from it all that will make us stronger and better.

To my dearest readers, happy dating and have a wonderful week ahead! :)

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Violet Lim

VIOLET LIM is a real-life modern matchmaker who has founded Asia's leading lunch dating company Lunch Actually (www.lunchactually.com). Violet is the bestselling author of the dating book 'Lessons From 15,000 First Dates'. She is also an acknowledged dating and relationship expert who has been featured on more than 1000 media coverage including ABC News 20/20, Bloomberg, CNBC Asia, CNN Go, Channel News Asia, USA Today, TV Tokyo and Singapore’s National Day Video 2005 as one of Singapore’s most aspiring people. Violet is happily married to her university sweetheart Jamie and they have two young children.

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