Summer LOVIN’ 

I fly therefore I am. Escapism has always been my philosophy. And no matter what you say, it has kept me sane (or insane). Whatever works.

Spread my wings and flew to Zurich. It has been 21 years since I last visited this garden city. I remember celebrating my 20th birthday there with my Singapore Airlines Team 2A colleagues. They gave me a green Swatch watch. It is still kept dearly in my box of memories. People come and go. That’s the promise of magic. It is also the reason why I embrace each new encounter.

Your face makes me smile. I feel like we have met before? Otherwise why would our paths cross again?

You have to earn it. Even memories. Don’t ever feel entitled to anything. That will one day be your first downfall my friend.

The world is big enough. Leave the bullies behind. You will be surprised how quickly you would forget the hurt. Our hearts are meant to beat for love, not anger.

This is why I travel.

 

 

 

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Mabuhay, Cebu!

#1 Smile. It Is Free Therapy.

I was greeted with warm smiles and kind eyes the moment our Silkair plane landed in Mactan Cebu International Airport. And this continued on for the rest of our trip – from the ground staff at the airport, to the driver who came to pick us, to the welcoming entourage waiting for us at the hotel entrance. It was a different sort of smile – a refreshing change from the tired ones I see daily at work, nor the pained versions from stressed-out friends in their 40s who are juggling their work, babies and spouses. What a difference a short 4-hour flight has made. I left a city that complained too much about what it did not have, to an island that celebrates even the little things. Singaporeans do not need therapy. We need to change our perspectives.

 

#2 Give Hope. Give Now.

During my trip, I got to know Mr. Manny Osmena, the owner of hotel Mövenpick Hotel, Mactan Island, Cebu (where I stayed. Mr. Osmena is not only an established hotelier and exporter – he is also an acute mobiliser of disaster and social response for social good. I was moved to discover a foundation he had set up, Hope Now Foundation, which has been funding medical responses such as Hospitals On Wheels (HOW) to reach affected rural areas in calamities, as well as lobbying for sustainable development and the end of poverty. Mr Osmena had set Hope Now up after witnessing the aftermath of Supertyphoon Yolanda. Since then, he has been regularly involved in disaster relief and is truly my big friend with an even bigger heart. #EndPoverty

#3 Mabuhay (a Filipino phrase that means “Live life.”)

You only have one life. Live it.

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5 Things Snorkeling In Maldives Taught Me

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#1 Desire and live life according to your own appetites

Stop mourning and start living. Your bad situation is never going to get better unless you get over yourself, move on and do something about it.

#2 We aren’t saints

You do not have to love everyone. Homophobes and racists are horrible people. There you go, I said it.

#3 Love the world, not your agenda of the world

Take each day as it comes and live it through. Do not problematise emptiness. Things are never going to go as planned. So stop planning, and keep swimming. Just do not be so stupid as to swim against the current mindlessly.

#4 Choose your battles wisely

Say this more often: “I prefer not to”. Take your individuation and run.  Fear not. If we all lose in life anyway, (so laments Unamuno), then what else is one afraid of losing?

#5 Find your Dory

Never lose yourself. Ever. Again.

 

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Star Style.

 

At the peak of her career in the late 90s and early 2000s, fashion was colourful and grungy.

It was the age of micro minis, halter tops and sky-high ponytails secured with a scrunchie.

But former actress-host Sharon Au does not regret any of her past fashion faux pas.

The 41-year-old told The New Paper: “When you don’t invest in timeless pieces, it is only natural to look back and find many items outdated.

“Our tastes change. It is a function of age.”

Au left showbiz at the height of her popularity in 2005 to pursue a degree in International Political Science and Law at Tokyo’s Waseda University’s School of International Liberal Studies. She returned to Singapore in 2011.

During her time abroad, she also lived in Lyon, France, from 2008 to 2009, on an exchange programme.

Her time in France, she said, is what shapes her style today.

Au said: “I was face to face with walking testimonials of French people who showed me that comfort and confidence trump all fashion trends.

“They’re always in the same look, same colours, with their hair windblown and messy, never styled.

“They don’t follow trends or ‘it’ things blindly, but what they exuded to me was much more precious and (something) money can’t buy – comfort in their own skin.

“They looked good in everything – just jeans and a basic T-shirt. There was nothing outstanding about their outfits, but it was their overall confidence and nonchalance that was beautiful.

“I came from the entertainment industry where everything was head to toe red carpet.

“So for me to go and see au naturel in action – I was very inspired.”

COMFORT

“Now, I wear things I feel very comfortable in,” said Au, who is assistant vice-president of Mediacorp.

She was so inspired by what she saw overseas that she started a fashion portal, styleXstyle, in 2012.

Her latest venture is the Style by Style Vibes café at the new Mediacorp campus at One-North.

TNP PHOTOS: CHOO CHWEE HUA
The Singapore Airlines sarong kebaya is special to Au, who was a Singapore Girl for 15 months before she was talent-spotted and quit flying for showbiz.

SENTIMENTAL SHARON

She paired the stewardess uniform with nude Christian Louboutin heels.

“I was 19 and fresh out of Hwa Chong Junior College. I had never travelled before in my life,” she recalled.

“I miss that time of my life because I was so young and sucked up all the experiences like a sponge.”

WORKPLACE SHARON

“When I go to work, my outfits are almost the same – mostly black, structured, neat and a little power woman-ish,” said Au, who usually adds a blazer to her Zara dress.

She accessorised with an Hermes Constance handbag, a belt from local designer Zenchi and jewellery from South Korean brand Stonehenge.

 

OFF-DUTY SHARON

Au keeps it casual and flowy for lunch with her girlfriends.

She opts for Hermes tassel loafers – she does not wear heels on her days off – and a maxi dress from Swedish brand & Other Stories.

She said: “Just because you dress down doesn’t mean you have to look sloppy. I like wearing something shapeless and relaxed.”

 

SEXY SHARON

She paired a simple Banana Republic white tank top with pants from Australian brand Satch, blazer from French label Zadig & Voltaire, Hermes Birkin bag and accessorised with South Korean jewellery brand Stonehenge.

“When I wear this outfit, I feel empowered, like I can change the world,” said Au, adding that high heels and a bold lip make a winning combination.

“To me, a woman is sexiest when she comes across as confident, decisive and opinionated.

“That’s why sexy to me is not revealing. It’s not about showing your shoulders or skin. It’s more of the attitude.”

 

Text by Natasha Meah

This article first appeared on The New Paper.

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Good Enough.

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My whole life I was never good enough.

You always wanted me to be wiser, prettier, livelier, quieter, funnier, sweeter, quicker, wittier, lovelier, fatter, thinner, taller, stronger, calmer, thriftier, bigger, louder, richer, sexier, smarter.

I am never good enough for you.

Is this an Asian thing? Where putting someone down is deemed good education, so that we do not get too certain of ourselves? We are often obligated to say “I am humbled…I don’t deserve this…I am so blessed…I am so grateful…”. Until these words no longer mean a thing.

One day if I am a parent, a teacher, a leader, a friend, a wife, a partner, I will tell you, you may not be good enough. But you are good enough for me. I just want you to be happy.

Don’t apologize for who you are and how you work.

We only have one life. Celebrate it. Please.

 

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Things That Make Me Come Alive 

Flowers.

Work.

Friends.

Puppy.

Be mindful of what you love. And surround yourself all the time with them. That’s my secret to staying calm.

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I Am No Boss.

 

By virtue of International Women’s Day, we have celebrated our fair share of female bosses and the empowerment of women in the month of March. I was approached by several marketing managers to front their campaigns as a woman in power, or #GirlBoss, as they called it. I was flattered, but turned them all down, politely and humbly. The reason is simple: I am not a boss. I work for an organization. I work for my boss. My boss (Ms Jessie Sng, Head of Women, Men, and Parenting) is the boss you should look out for instead. And she works for her boss. And her boss is the CEO of Mediacorp. You get the gist.

In a sea of inspiring women, some of whom I am in absolute awe of, I am a nobody. Rather, I’ve been working towards my goal of becoming someone respectable like them one day. But I am nowhere near yet, and it is too premature to pat myself on the back over a few minor successes.

However, as with all constructive online publications, I would like to share three things I do care about as the Head of styleXstyle. And if there is anything here that resonates with you, I will be heartened.

1. PROFITABILITY

It sounds romantic to pursue one’s passion and to become the “masters of our own destiny”. However, a business cannot lose money for too long. It is as simple as ABC. How else can I pay my  staff who slog day and night with me? How do I pay myself? How do I pay for office rental, electricity, overheads, and all other running costs and burn-rate? I am not a well-to-do #girlboss working from the comfort of my balcony, writing about the things I love, with or without a viable business plan. That’s an ideal lifestyle even I dream about from time to time. Alas, it takes good contribution margined- P&Ls to realize all the fabulous plans you have for yourselves, and your society. You want to be able to give back. Not indulge.

2. EMPOWERMENT AND GROWTH

The watchword: succession planning. I want to build a business that will last even after I am gone. And the only way to achieve that is to groom and nurture right-hand men who will and who must eventually take over the reign. However, it is easier said than done. Like most mediocre leaders, I tend to micro-manage and breathe down my staff’s neck. Nothing seems to be good enough for me. I am tough and have often made unpopular decisions. In recent months, however, I have learnt to “hire well, manage little”. Empowerment is a win-win. And watching your colleagues grow and flourish is a beautiful experience.

3. PLAY

There were times when I have dreaded going to work. It was so bad, I would lay in bed depressed on Sunday nights, wallowing in self-pity and praying for strength to persevere. The office environment was hostile then, and there was a lack of effective communication. There was just too much gossiping, and colleagues did not see eye-to-eye. It does not take rocket science to gather it must have been awful for everyone. As a leader, I bear full responsibility for such outcomes. And I have come to realize that work will always have its rough times. However, it does not need to be miserable.  It can be challenging AND flexible. It can be serious, with sudden bursts of infectious laughter. A fun, free and constructive atmosphere, where work and play comes hand-in-hand will yield better results, or any results, for that matter. And now, I jump out of bed to start each day, because I know I am on my way to play.

 

There you go. Pursue your passion and live your life. And do it with kindness, generosity, and good vibes. You will be fine.

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