For Chinese who observe some traditions of Lunar New Year, you get a second chance to kickstart your resolutions!
Usually it includes getting fit and losing weight especially after all that feasting. Not forgetting that at this point we are still working off the calories from Christmas and New Year!
Some things which come to mind during Chinese New Year….
My immediate family is seen as less traditional.Visiting is kept to a minimal and we’ve gone through the same Chinese New Year routine for the last two decades. Chinese New Year for us is about sitting around and waiting for everyone to turn up before moving out to my dad’s grand aunt’s place. By that time, we are all exhausted from sitting around and exercising our willpower from not finishing the pineapple tarts, kueh bangkit and chocolates etc. That’s when I get motivated to go run around the field, start playing tennis again, cycling and hiking. Good news is that we have a long weekend for Chinese New Year this year and we intend to do either one of those activities during the long weekend.
There is a tradition of giving hong baos, or red packets, which I wished can be changed. The red packets with some token of cash is usually given to relatives younger than you are, who isn’t married yet. So, my partner and I are not married but we’ve been living together for close to five years. That counts for being de facto in some countries. However, not in the Chinese tradition. They need us to be legally registered and also families need to be updated and informed. Last year, we received red packets from my cousins and that was awkward for us since we’re both above 35 years old and usually the practice of giving red packets stop at the twenties for many – given that that’s usually the average age one gets married.
It’s Chinese New Year day 1 today and we don at least one new item which symbolises starting afresh for the new year. Often, people wear red for the first day which symbolises good luck. Or they wear the colour of their year. This is usually found in chinese horoscopes.
There’s this big book of horoscopes which we read to past time on day 1. It can be amusing and entertaining. We read about our own animal signs for what may happen during the year….and can be fun when we start comparing notes. But we forget about it almost immediately. As what my mom once described it, they’re ‘horror-scopes’, and to be taken with a pinch of salt.
To think that Valentine’s Day was actually the day we started dating officially. We celebrate our anniversary with at least 60% of the adult population. The day which I’d received chocolates and flowers which gave me such a thrill. That was about five years ago now. While back then, ironically, we probably didn’t know each other as well as we do now. That said, we still learning about each other, but perhaps not so much of a ‘steep learning curve’ now.
While Valentine’s Day is when couples remember to date each other perfunctorily, it should also remind us that gestures of love should continue throughout the year, everyday. It is rather much like an observance of International Women’s Day, World Friendship Day etc. They aren’t something we celebrate for a day but rather, for reflection of achievements and the journey to come. I’m sure many would agree.
I celebrate the time and attention from my partner. The gift of time and attention are priceless.
On the other spectrum, I value the time I have to myself too. Time and space to develop personally.
I appreciate that my partner shares household chores and has a gift for ironing.
I still love the flowers I’d received at the office today. They are sitting pretty in a vase on our dining table now.
So, it’s been about five months into my new job and we do enjoy remote working arrangements at my company, for most divisions. While I like going to the office and meeting colleagues, I do also cherish the time I have working from home. I do have a nice setup for a home office and hence it makes a good environment for when you need to finish tasks and planning in a seating; while also managing domestic tasks. The arrangement helps me manage my day better especially when there are evening or night calls. While this was novel for me in the beginning and I was a little more ‘excited’ with the prospect of working from home officially and not have to feel guilty about it, it is becoming more of a usual flow for my week. I work from home on Mondays usually and I try to maximise the time I have for things which I do better while working at home than at the office.
Although it can be easy to just stay in PJs, the routine or some boundaries help to keep me on track and in ‘work mode’. These here are just based on my experience (without kids).
Setting the alarm and waking up at the same time for days when I do not need to commute.
Pick a morning routine like reading the news and having coffee and breakfast. For days when you feel like shaking up the routine a little for ‘inspiration’, squeeze in some exercise.
Shower and get dressed. Not into my actual work clothes but just clothes for walking across the street to a store.
Before I start at my home office, I also make myself a cup of tea which signals the start of my work day.
While some days I do work through lunch time, I try to head out for a late lunch to get some air. Even if it means walking across the street to Starbucks. So a downside to me working at home these days is the number of steps in a day. This is something I am fixing and I hope to exercise more regularly on those work from home days.
I make my lunch at home some times. I do not eat in front my desk now. I used to. Of course, besides making a mess on the keyboard and work area, there are other reasons for not eating in front of your work screen. Not ideal especially when you’re sitting at your desk for the whole day with no socialising. Having proper physical room boundaries in the house can help lift your mood or even help with creativity. Have your meal in the dining room if you can.
Cats. I’ve two cats. Which means they can get in your way sometimes when they wake up and decide that they want to join your work space and your calls. When I have a planned call, I close the door to the home office to prevent the cats from meandering in and out when I’m on a call.
Lists: I make a list of things I should complete in a day and to stick to them. There is a A-list which are things which are ‘MUST’ finish and another which are ‘good if I can get started or even finish’. I colour code the lists using sticky pads into different categories of tasks. That’s a personal system.
Set a routine for water. I find that with fewer social breaks at home, I do not take that walk to the kitchen for water as often. And I do not put my water in the home office. Just for a simple reason that I should take that short break and a walk.
These are just some items I thought of…and they are not in any order importance. Everyone would have their own pace and rhythm for working at home. Sometimes when I feel that productivity and creativity levels have dropped, I do try to disrupt my own routine by taking a walk outside and then coming back to work (when there aren’t any calls).