This post is dedicated to my long suffering wife, Janice.
All these years, as I embarked on one 'adventure' after another, there were two things that were the ever constants.
One - 万事起头难, taking on new challenges, especially in areas where I did not have the relevant training or any prior experience, was never easy. Each time that I embarked on a new adventure, taking on yet another new challenge, into untested, untried territories, it would be filled with uncertainties, fears, difficulties, unknowns and sufferings. especially at the beginning. It didn't get any easier with practice or experience, it just came with the territory.
Two - the second constant was that my wife, Janice, would always be there with me and for me.
When I first started practising as a medical doctor more than 20 years ago, working insane hours, from 8am - 10pm daily, with no lunch or dinner breaks, seven days a week, she was there for me, she even changed her meal timings so that we could have dinners together, we could only eat together at about 10 plus pm every night after I had finished seeing my last patients and shut the clinic.
When I decided to take the leap to stop practising as a doctor to join EDB as an entry level executive, she was there for me. Even though at that time, our son was just a month old and we were not yet financially stable and the decision meant that I had to take a huge (more than 60%) pay cut from my then comfortable 5 figure monthly salary as a GP in the late 90s, she was there for me. She quietly supported me and never complained about the lifestyle adjustments we had to make because of my pay cut.
When I was posted by EDB to London to be their Centre Director there, she stopped work, moved to London with me and lived there for a few years, becoming a stay home mom looking after our young kids.
When I became the Assistant CEO of a statutory board and had to attend many public events as a VIP guest, she overcame her introverted and extremely private nature to attend the many public and industry events with me.
Just when life had finally become more stable and comfortable, after many years of hard work as a mid career change civil servant, I having been promoted to senior management positions overseeing a few hundred staff and spearheading many major national initiatives, I decided to take the biggest leap of all, I quit my comfortable stable position to become an entrepreneur.
Yet she was there for me. All the hardships of starting up a new business, all the fears of failures, all the financial hardships we had to go through. She was stoically there for me, never complaining.
When I started a new business, she made the effort to learn about the new business and supported me. When I became the CEO of a company developing, constructing and operating a hotel, she learned all about the administration and finance practices of the industry and supported me. When I 'accidentally' went into starting and operating a F&B business. I became the accidental chef and she became the accidental baker. She just took up the challenge because I was taking up the challenge. We went to baking school together, we worked the super long hours together, we hosted our guests together, we did the dish washing together, we woke early to go to the markets together. We even had the same oven burn marks on both our arms together. She was there for me every step of the way.
In the last couple of years, when I began to devote myself to the area of lifestyle medicine, preaching, teaching and coaching people in the area of lifestyle & health, she again became my partner and supporter. When I am practising as a lifestyle medicine doctor and seeing patients in my clinic, she became the health coach to my patients.
We put both her microbiology degree and my medical degree to good use, putting all the knowledge of health & diseases from my training & practice as a medical doctor coupled with the deeper knowledge of food and the relationship of food and health that I acquired in the last few years as a healthy food chef and practitioner and we began our lifestyle medicine practice together.
I saw that there was an great unmet need especially amongst people with diabetes. I saw that many did not have the knowledge or the necessary support to have a serious go at using lifestyle modification to to optimise the management of their conditions and that I could play a part in helping them. I decided to go into this new unknown area of lifestyle medicine full-time, and she was there for me again. We spent a lot of time studying scientific materials and research studies together, on food and diseases, especially diabetes, ischaemic heart diseases and cancers and other conditions where food has a significant role. We would spend time discussing topics like insulin, glucose, fat metabolism during meal times and even do testing of our own blood sugar level together after eating certain specific foods so as to be able to see 'glycaemic index' in reality & not just in theory, We began to exercise together, tracking our heart rate and activity level so that we can be a good role model and encouragement to our patients and coachees.
It would have been a lot more straight forward, more comfortable in all sense of the word, especially financially, if I had decided to just practise medicine in the conventional way instead of focusing 100% on this new and challenging area of lifestyle medicine. But she never ever, not even once, questioned my decision or my 'sanity' in taking this challenging path which will require the family to continue to endure the sacrifice of financial security and other challenges that came with it.
And it has certainly not been easy, people are not familiar with the science, power and practice of lifestyle medicine, even to people who badly need it. The going so far has been very tough on us as a couple and on the family. But my wife has never wavered in her support for me and that kept me going in spite of the difficulties. We monitor our patients and coachees; progress together and we get encouraged together when we see the progress that our 'coachees' were making. There was this man with diabetes that we were coaching, we coached him and we even brought his wife to the supermarket to educate her on what's good & what's bad for her husband and even helped her with cooking tips when she needed it, and all this while my wife was there assisting me in everything, all the way. And I remember how my wife was cheered and encouraged seeing the kilograms drop off from this man and seeing his blood sugar control improving over time. It is these 'little' things that is keeping me going in spite of the immense challenges. Seeing how my wife is supporting me all the way and being able to share the joy of seeing the progress of our 'coachees' with her have become the 'fuel' for me in my journey as a lifestyle medicine doctor and coach.
I never had any fears for hardships and uncertainties that will inevitably come with every new big challenge I embarked on, the only thing I always 'hated' every time that I went on these new adventures was the hardship and worries that I had to impose on my wife.
How I wished I can live in 2 parallel universes. One where I would go on adventures, take risks and suffering all the hardships ALONE, whilst in the other universe I would be a regular guy with a successful career built consistently over decades with a steady fat income. I would want my wife to live with me in the second universe but maybe not the first. Then I would not have had to impose on my poor long suffering wife all the hardships, worries, fears and uncertainties that invariably came with every new adventure I embarked on, which I had been on many in the last 20 plus years.
Thank you my dear wife, my long suffering wife
But until then, I just want to say to my long suffering wife, " Thank you dear, 我会加油的 and will do my darnest best in whatever we are doing and one day I hope, however belatedly, I can afford to give you a Tai Tai lifestyle which you much deserved! :-)"
When I wanted to start up a bakery,
we went to baking school together to learn to make breads and buns
We celebrated Valentine's Day 2015 and 2016 by working together and serving dinner to customers celebrating Valentine's Day
She bakes. I cook.
I speak on stage, she sits in audience cheering me on
When I speak at workshops, she 'blends' into the audience
to give me support and be my critic.
When bloggers want to feature 'both of us', she, despite her extreme introvertedness & her very private nature, agrees to their requests. The above pic is a post from ieatishootipost
When I created new dishes for the menu of my restaurant,
she was my food taster and fiercest critic :-)
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