How I tamed my fretful thoughts by creating a "fret list"

: on taking control of our thoughts, COVID vaccination, death, a featured artwork story, and a funny comic

HopeMail #117 👩🏻‍🎨

If a friend forwarded this to you, and you'd like to subscribe, c'mon in.

Hi there,

Hope you are well. Shoutout to those who said, “Hi, I’m here” by clicking on the heart button in my previous issue of HopeMail. Thanks. To everyone else, thanks for reading too! 👍🏼

If you haven’t or wanna read the previous issue again, I wrote about What’s driving me nuts during the lockdown and what’s giving me joy.

On the morning I wrote this issue, I enjoyed my regular breakfast of toast and latte, while looking out from my window at the wispy clouds floating across the sky; a beautiful shade of baby blue and bright white. Small moments, great joy!

By the time you read this, I will have gotten my second dose of COVID-19 vaccination. In my head, I’m imagining possible side effects of tiredness, lethargy, high fever, as I had those side effects after my first dose. I’m fretting about the disruption to my work routine. And the imaginary concern is giving me unrest in my heart. Like something is gnawing in me. 

In fact, one of the definitions of “fret” is—to eat or gnaw into. Corrode. For example, the acid fretted the metal. Not a good thing! 

Knowing that a muddled mind ain’t gonna help me move forward, I took those fretful thoughts from my brain and moved them onto a piece of paper. 

I started with writing the word “fret”. And listed all the things I’m fretting over in my mind recently. 

The said “fret list”:

  • Vaccination: post-vaccination side effects disrupting my work week and my week will be gone!

  • What to write for this issue of HopeMail?

  • All the things (especially work) lining up in my head I want and need to do. Loads of ideas to draw. Marketing work. Regular drawing practice. Deadlines.

  • Time! Time! Time!

Somehow by writing down the thoughts and making them visible, I can think better. 

I looked at the items on my fret list and tackled them one by one. 

  • Post-vaccination side effects

I cannot control whether I will suffer from side effects. I can only control how to handle the situation when it comes. And I need to make a decision now to accept that my work might be disrupted. Instead of fighting an out -of-my-control situation; to flow and adapt. 

  • What to write for this issue of HopeMail?

This is recurring fretting. But, I’m getting better at handling it. That is, to go back to my why for writing HopeMail. Because, if I’m not clear on why I’m writing, what I want it to be about, what I want it to do for my readers, then I’d face this tug of war every single time I sit down to write. And yes, I also start every issue with a prayer, asking God for guidance and inspiration.

  • All the things to do and time! time! time!

Fact: there are more things I want to do than the time I have. 

I need to manage my expectations. More importantly, I need to keep pace with a rhythm that is healthy for me, physically and emotionally. 

Often we do more than we should, in a shorter time than we could. 
(And make ourselves highly-strung and highly-stressed people.)

So, there you have it; how I tamed those fretful thoughts in my mind—by making them visible on a piece of paper, so they no longer go bouncing off like a pinball machine in my head, instead, submitting them to logic, good sense, and faith. 

What I’m working on | Artwork and my thoughts

I’m at 80% completion of a second piece of artwork. It’s for an art competition under the emerging/new artist category. This piece is on creation care and humanity. It was tougher than I thought: A3 size paper, many tiny details.

Work in progress video reel on Instagram

A post shared by @melinda_yeoh

Every day, as I sat in front of the scene for the live drawing, my mind kept telling me, “This is too difficult. This is too difficult.” And you know what? It is difficult! At the end of the day, my hands are tired, my brain is tired, my eyes are zapped from focusing on the minute details.

So—I countered every unhelpful thought with prayer. I pray, “Lord, please give me the skills to draw this, and please give me joy in doing it.” And I kept replacing those “this is too difficult” thoughts by focusing on God, the Creator and Giver of good gifts. 

What else is on my mind

One of our church’s pastors passed on from COVID-19, he was only turning 53, with a wife and a daughter. My heart broke and yet it’s so full when I watched his memorial video. He loved, served, and gave his life to so many people in his years as a pastor. He lived, finished his race in life well, and left a legacy of rebuilt lives and lasting memories. Till I see him again in Heaven. His death is a reminder to me—to live an intentional life of knowing what truly matters in life, especially the purpose of work, contrary to marching to the beat of what the world is seducing me with. 

What I drew | Featured artwork story

I drew this glass of coffee earlier this year. It holds my morning coffee nicely, and due to its double-wall glass, it keeps my coffee warmer for longer, and it’s not burning hot to the touch. Plus, it’s beautiful to look at.

One day, I broke it. It went splash, crash down to the floor. I was kinda sad. But I’m thankful it has served me well for over four years. It has served its purpose of what it’s made for. 

If I don’t use it, if I kept it in the cupboard to avoid the risk of breaking it, it would not be useful at all.

Isn’t that similar to us? All of us are made for a purpose. We’ve been given different talents, gifts, opportunities (even opportunities through adversities). Sure, it’s safer to not put ourselves out there and risk failing, but we also wouldn’t fulfil our purpose [for the good of others].

Browse more artwork

Well, that’s all I have for now, folks. Stay sane and hydrated. 


Leave a comment