TIME OF MY LIFE

INTRODUCTION

I'm entering a milestone decade this year, and I want to mark the occasion by showing my love for... everything that matters to me.

So starting from June 15, my #FTBTimeOfMyLife project begins. Every day, for 40 days, I will be sharing a piece of my memory from the year in focus... that's quite a few years to flip through, and a lot of forgotten events to recollect! 

But this will be a beautiful exercise, and I hope you'll join me in going down the memory lane and sharing a piece of the puzzle that's shaped your life. 

You can share your thoughts in a few ways -- below the post in comments, on Instagram, or simply write them down in your private diary.

Now, let's go and explore the Time of Our Lives!

Eileen x

 

2016

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(40) 2016

"Why do people like you?"

Same question, asked by two different friends.

One asks because she's hurt that no one sees her efforts to be good. The other asks because she's intrigued to learn more about how to be good.

So I give them two very different answers.

I have now entered the last year of my 30s, and I've learned to be more selective about what I choose to care for. My love for life is impossible to miss, and so is my deep affection for the people in my life and for London - the place I now consider home.

Nowadays, it's easy to stay in this fulfilling state of happiness. Maybe it's because I no longer touch negative energy with a barge pole.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2015? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Eileen x

2015

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(39) 2015

What must a woman do to be seen as "professional" in the workplace?

Blunt your emotions. 
Show no weaknesses. 
Stop being a girl.

Because a girl - as opposed to a woman - is seen as naive, happy-go-lucky, ideal and trusting, and thus cannot be tasked with serious or difficult responsibilities.

Recently for work I had to watch a documentary called Running From Crazy, which followed one of Ernest Hemingway's granddaughters as she tried to grasp the history of her family's mental illness.

Mariel was an engaging protagonist, but I was more fascinated by her mother's journey, who relied on alcohol to console her suppressed free-spirit, because she "just wanted to be a girl" but could no longer. As a socialite she was shackled to the society's expectations, and she left this world an unhappy woman. 

Maybe that's why the corporate mold fits me no longer, because I am a "girl" as defined above, and I don't want to change.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2015? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2016!

Eileen x

2014


#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(38) 2014

I have returned to Kyoto, the cradle of my new understanding of life.

Last year, I came here in search of nothing but solace for a broken heart, which at the time felt too fractured to mend and might never function normally again.

Then, the sights and sounds I encountered in this ancient city brought forth my own reflection, one that was not always flattering but completely recognisable.

Which made me human, made me real, and pointed me in the direction of the version of me that I wished to be.

When I saw the longest queue at the Jishu shrine was for the god of love, I felt a sense of comfort, simply by knowing that the search for love is universal, and so is the struggle.

But the struggle lessens and eventually dissipates when you start to love yourself first. Bit by bit, I've learned that it's not a selfish act to love myself, especially when it makes me a better person and empowers me to do more good and add more warmth into this world.

We all have a purpose. When the time is right, you'll know yours and I'll know mine.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2014? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2015!

Eileen x

2013


#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(37) 2013

I've always been a romantic soul, but somehow romantic relationships have always taken a backseat... to work, to family, to everything else that is deemed more urgent than "love".

It always makes me smile to see lovey-dovey couples, whatever the age, showing appreciation for each other and sharing little moments and private jokes, leaving us spectators speculate the reasons for their happiness.

Maybe it's time for me to give finding love a real shot, since it seems to be the only thing missing in my life, and it seems to be the one thing that makes so many people's existence complete.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2013? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2014!

Eileen x

2012

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(36) 2012

What do you do when life loses its color?

The perkiness. The optimism. The smile. These are things that make me who I am, and they have been zapped from my body. Things that I once loved no longer appeal to me. 

Travel: I haven't left the UK at all this year. If I could, i don't even want to leave my own flat.

Food: I eat, but I don't taste.

Friends & Family: I don't want to see them. I have nothing to show for since I last told them about my grand plan to become a travel blogger. Where am I now a year later? Still in news, now as a freelancer , and still achieved nothing.

I've been selected to dance in the London Olympics' opening ceremony, and I feel dreadful. The thought of being around new people and having to introduce myself as... as a what? A failure.

I just want to go home.

The other day I called up mom and dad and asked them to sit down and just listen. I wanted to share all these horrible emotions swirling inside me, and my family were the only people I trusted enough to share them with.

I never knew my parents loved me so much. Leading the way of talking the anxiety out of me, was dad. The quiet and thoughtful father whom I had not properly hugged for like 20 years, for the first time in my life shared his opinions of me, with me.

They were not what I expected. I didn't need to hold onto my chair handles, because they were the most beautiful things I had ever heard.

Like the lullaby grandma used to sing to me, dad's words felt like gentle waves of ocean washing ashore, gradually smoothing away the rocks that roughen the sandy beach that was my soul, and made me kind of believe that everything would be alright. 

Yes, if I believe, everything will be all okay.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2012? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2013!

Eileen x

2011

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(35) 2011

I open my eyes to a room filled with darkness.

My bedroom curtains are wide open, and it's pitch black outside.

Something is not right. I'm supposed to be back at work at 6pm for our continuous coverage of Will and Kate wedding.

13 missed calls. 5 voice messages.

My colleagues think I've been run over by a bus. Because I am never late. 

I've been right about my state of wellbeing. I am overworked, and this is the sleep I've been sorely lacking.

People resign for various reasons. For me, it is to sleep. 


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2011? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2012!

Eileen x

2009

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(33) 2009

This is not the version of events I had pictured in my dreams. It is so much better. 

I'm now sharing the world's biggest news stories with not just anyone, but those who speak my native tongue.

When I put forth the proposal to start our network's first Chinese news program, most people around me were supportive but cynical. "It's never been done before, so don't get your hopes up," they'd tell me in various ways.

Now, I get to present an objective perspective of news events to the viewers inside one of the most censored countries on earth, giving them the world as seen from outside their ivory tower. And in return I'm educated on the version as told by the Chinese authorities.

Same stories, different perspectives. It's not my job to tell you what to think. I just provide the facts so you can decide for yourself. 


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2009? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2010!

Eileen x

2008

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(32) 2008


What would life be like if I could do what I love and get paid for it? 

I love to travel, and I love documentaries, so how wonderful would it be if I could work for our network's travel shows, and maybe one day produce my own travel documentaries?!! 

The one skill I obviously lack is video editing. But looking across the newsroom, I'm surrounded by so many talented, creative, and generous editors who are the best mentors one can ask for. Patient ones too as they're always happy to share their precious knowledge with clueless novices like me.

One side is willing to teach. One side is eager to learn. I am in safe hands. 

So, this will be the year for me to learn to be a good video editor. 

This will be the year for me to prepare for a future tailor-made for me.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2008? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2009!

Eileen x

2007

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(31) 2007


I concede: conflicts and I don't go well together.

I can't shield myself from the atmosphere around me. At violent demonstrations, the protesters' anger reverberates through me. In the aftermath of disasters, the victims' tears devastate me.

Now, sitting in my room inside a fortified compound in the safest part of Baghdad, all I can feel is the destructive forces at this very moment demolishing innocent lives, with each new bomb that falls a short distance away.

When they executed Saddam Hussein by hanging, I could not lift my eyes to watch the process, let alone to cheer for his demise. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind. No one deserves to die in such an undignified way, regardless of the atrocities that he might have committed. 

I don't belong here.

To think that just a few months ago I was chasing Bruno in Bavaria, the first brown bear sighted in Germany in over 100 years. What a fun trip, to be out in nature all day, working with the loveliest team of reporter and cameraman and talking to farmers whose livestock fell victim to the furry predator.

Maybe the bullet that missed my head was a sign, telling me that the path I thought I wanted is not the road I should take.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2007? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2008!

Eileen x

2006

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(30) 2006


The Art of Words. That's the lesson I've been struggling to grasp now that I'm living in the UK. 

When it comes to communications, my novice observation suggests that the similarity between the US and the UK begins and ends with the language they share. You may recognize the words used, but you don't understand the way they're being used.

In London, in my limited social circle, the English language is expressed in a more considerate manner. The daily vocabulary contains words that would be considered exceedingly formal or pretentious across the pond, and people seem to enjoy incorporating lines from famous people or literature into the conversation.

How eloquent - I thought at first. But a few incidents have shown me that there may be a hidden meaning behind every sentence, and that it would be naive for anyone to take words at face value. 

In public, in your presence, you're likely to receive nothing but pleasantry and banters. In private, in your absence, that is when the true opinions about you are shared.

Then, there's the body language. A nice English acquaintance once tried to teach me how to "cut" in a social setting -- not with a knife but with a look -- as a way to ignore or refuse to recognize someone. 

Class status -- gosh what century are we living in? -- dominates people's mentality. The first question after handshake is often "Where do you live?" as to determine the "poshness" of the new person, and subsequently how to treat him/her accordingly.

It's as if people are drawing circles around themselves so they can stay trapped (or protected) by the old ways. As for foreign newcomers like myself, space is limited in the existing circles, so we just create one to call our own.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2006? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2007!

Eileen x

2005

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(29) 2005


MOVING SALE. EVERYTHING MUST GO.

The homemade sign on my front lawn looks inviting next to the colorful balloons tied to the mailbox, luring passersby to check out the last day of my garage sale.

How did I acquire so much stuff in merely five years? Most of the items on display had been purchased in the last 12 months, when I started to rely on retail therapy to fill the void in my life.

20 pairs of designer high heels, all gorgeous and barely worn, line up like runway models in one corner of the garage.

Along the opposite wall are racks of clothes and bags, perfect for professional women who want to look sharp and trendy.

Stacks of china and homeware occupy the table in front of me, resting peacefully under the watchful eyes of a giant Winnie the Pooh bear.

Everything that I love has already found a good home.The house is sold. The Beetle is now the pride and joy of a sweet high school senior, according to the thank you card she sent me. The teddy bear in ladybug's clothes given to me by little sister is safely packed away. So all I need to do now is to get rid of everything else so I can start afresh.

A good boss can really change the course of your life. When I shared my intention to quit news and go travel in search of that ~something~ I was missing, she intervened and put me forward for the new opening in our London bureau. 

So here I am, packing my bags once again, ready to meet the British capital for the very first time.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2005? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2006!

Eileen x

2004

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(28) 2004


The expensive laptop I'd purchased on the internet is never going to show up.

Yes, I am now officially a statistic -- an online scam victim. .

The new gadget was going to be part of a scheme to boost my career, which is not skyrocketing as I had hoped.

With the Iraq War entering its second year, the quickest way to get recognition seems to be through war-related coverage. The latest buzz word in the newsroom is the "one-man band" -- a journalist who travels to assignment alone and provides coverage single-handedly, from filming to editing to reporting.

My intention was to learn these skills in my spare time, which will now be slotted for working overtime to fill the deep dent in my bank account. 

My career progression may have be delayed, but I've learned two important life lessons: (1) Never send money through Western Union to a complete stranger; and (2) One's cash flow will never run dry as long as there's the will to work.

How grateful I feel to be offered extra work by people who heard about my misfortune and wanted to help. With all the extra hours I'm putting in, it's only a matter of time before my plan will get back on track. 


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2004? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2005!

Eileen x

2003

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(27) 2003


If this is what a midlife crisis feels like, I would gladly go through it every day and night.

"Off you go! Take it for a spin for as long as you like and be sure to come back before closing time."

Waving vigorously into the rearview mirror to our trusting salesman, I step gently on the accelerator of the car that I wish were mine.

Bright as the blue sky, this new generation of the iconic Beetle is a capsule of happiness. Everything in it is cuddly and adorable: headlights, dashboard, heated seats, the convertible dome, and a tiny vase for one lucky flower.

We zip through Atlanta's pretty Buckhead neighbourhood with the hood down, our sunglasses the only barrier between us and nature's creations.

So fresh so clean, as OutKast would say. There's nothing dirty about the Dirty South when I'm in my little bug.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2003? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2004!

Eileen x

2002

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(26) 2002


I can't take my eyes off my eyes. 

The difference is subtle and barely detectable from a distance. But up close, one can't help but notice the soft turquoise contacts that now shutter the windows to my soul.

Sometimes, the turquoise conceals completely the chocolate brown that is hiding underneath.

Sometimes, the turquoise blends in with its backdrop and paints a a picture of harmony.

Most of the times, the turquoise is the dominant color, shining fresh and bright in reflection of the joy of living.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2002? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2003!

Eileen x

2001

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(25) 2001

"Man,... just let me sleep." I drag out my mumble as I roll over to the bedside table and reach for the telephone. 

"Come in, come in NOW," the raspy voice of my newsroom manager travels through the landline, laced with a hint of something that I can't decipher. 

"America is under attack. Come at once." That is it -- a hint of Desperation.

I turn on the TV and halt my toothbrush midair, hypnotized by the scenes unfolding on the screen,... mournful screams, utter chaos, dust-covered faces of handsome firefighters, and news anchors gobbling in high-pitched voices trying to make sense of the dramatic sequences that are today's reality.

Many lives have been interrupted on this day, but the ashes of tragedy are also nourishing many, many more genuine relationships, which will blossom and bear the fruits of new hopes and love .


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2001? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2002!

Eileen x

2000


#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(24) 2000

I'm lying on a silky sheet of turquoise sea, rocking softly from side to side with each new wave that enters the cove.

Mexico is so warm. The ocean, the weather, the culture, the people... everything I've encountered in this country has left me feeling fuzzy inside.

I haven't met any drug dealers. I haven't lost any personal belongings. However I have tasted lots of delicious tacos and made a few local friends, who have brought me to a secret cove near Todo Santos for some gentle waves and homemade margarita.

So much for the kind warnings I'd received prior to embarking on my first solo trip abroad. 

With me is a brand new digital camera -- a gift to myself for landing my dream job -- and I'm loving the instantaneous gratification it provides, all 2 megapixels of glorious landscapes that look amazing on its 3x2-in screen.

At this moment in time, life is perfect.

And I can't wait to get back home, get back to work, and get back on the road again.
 


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 2000? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 2001!

Eileen x

1999

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(23) 1999


Georgia's sunshine is prickly, even at 7am.

I straighten my seat upright and start the engine. Good nap, I think to myself as I pull away from the gas station, where unleaded petrol costs less than bottled water at 65 cents per gallon.

By now, I've learned this 70-mile journey by heart, and I know how to get around Atlanta's notorious traffic jams and make it home and to my class in an hour.

You reap what you sow, especially when the golden opportunity you've been given isn't originally meant for you.

Thanks to some girl who turned down the offer, I am now interning at the cable news network that used to seem as distant as the sun.

Four days a week, I come to the "International Desk" and learn from an amazing group of journalists, many of whom have come from parts of the world that I can't pinpoint on the map. 

It is here that I watch the devastating earthquake in Taiwan unfold in front of my eyes.

It is here that I taste the stress and diligence of a 24-hour newsroom.

It is here that I baptize my mind with a view outside the boundaries of America.

It is here that I know what I want to be for the rest of my life.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 1999? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 1998!

Eileen x

1998

#FTBTimeOfMyLife 

(22) 1998


Swaying softly with the rhythm, I gaze across the landscape from our tiny U-Haul driver's compartment, now a sound box for soulful blues and croons about unrequited love and southern comfort. 

We're heading to the land of Gone With The Wind, with my life's belongings in tow.

This is not the post-university plan I had in mind, but this alternative feels strangely easy and right. . . $18,000/year reporter's salary in the Midwest V.S. full scholarship for graduate school in a new part of the country -- the decision was a quick one -- the one that allows me to be fully financially independent from mom and dad.

A perky peach smiles from the roadside as we cross the state line: "Welcome to Georgia", it says.

I smile back and crank down my window.

Southern air tastes like moist fire, mixed with scents that I don't recognize.

POP. POP. POP. 

Like a meteor shower, beads of black UFOs rain down on our windshield, cracking their heads open and leaving pools of yellow goo that obscure our view of the road ahead. 

But only temporarily. 

With each tireless swipe from the windshield wipers, streak by streak, my vision opens up to a new state, and a new state of mind.

This time, I have Georgia in my eyes... and on my mind.


What are the things that come to your mind when you think of the year 1998? Please share them below with us, or on Instagram comments or DM, or just jot them down in your private diary.

FTB Time of My Life is an exercise to celebrate the things that have shaped our lives. Click here for details on how to participate.

Up next, 1999!

Eileen x