The COVID & moving to Portugal diary
: on getting COVID, saying goodbyes, and things I will miss
I got COVID. So, I thought for this issue of HopeMail, I’ll weave that part together with my thoughts on moving to Portugal.
Thursday, June 9, 12:16 pm. Day one of COVID
I’m writing this sitting in my temporary “tiny house” set up, a bedroom at home, for seven days of COVID self-isolation. I’m feeling the lethargy of the body; a call to rest. Yet, I’m also feeling all these words swimming in my heart; a call to write.
So, here I am. Writing, when my brain is lucid, my body is able. Drinking this cup of herbal tea sent by friends. Giving thanks. I’m alone in my isolation room. But I’m not left alone. I’m loved. Cared for.
Thursday, June 9, 1:39 pm
Suddenly, the reality of seven days with no appointments to go to, no one to meet up with, no cooking to be done, and no more systematic to-dos, threw me off a bit.
I was on a roll with my work progress, with our moving to Portugal preparation, and catching up with friends. I was full of energy and momentum!
Then, this stalling.
I had to cancel meeting up with friends who wanted to hear about our Portugal plans and to say goodbye for now. With this window gone, I’ll only get to see my friends next year.
I might not even be able to work beyond this first day of COVID until I recover, let’s see.
Plans change. It’s in Life Lessons volume 1.
Saturday, June 11, 10:36 am. Day three of COVID
My brain is less fuzzy. Words are swimming in my head. I guess it’s time to write again.
My fever spiked at 38.6 Celsius yesterday, coupled with massive tiredness, chest congestion, cough, and sore throat. I asked for prayer from friends, for the symptoms to not be worsened—because I don’t want to be in a hospital. A prayer as elementary as a kid’s. It’s fine. God understands.
Feeling the love
I did a photo collage of the love and care demonstrated by my husband (main caregiver) and friends. From preparing three meals daily, how are you feeling today texts, sending herbal teas, coconut water, fruit juice and even a shared Disney+ subscription!
Contrary to Hollywood and Korean dramas, love is not a feeling per se—love is a verb.
Love is great.
But love can be inconvenient—it involves taking action.
Love involves giving. Not when you feel like it, not when it’s convenient and you have nothing else to do, but when it’s good for the other person.
Love means showing up, it means staying on, it means commitment.
Love takes practice.
This is how relationships get stronger and better.
In the spirit of Nike, don’t just think it—do it.
Missing my home already
This morning’s weather in my tropical side of the world is gentle and kind. The leaves are swaying, and the air is cooler, yet it’s not raining. I stood by the window, entertained by Ollie the yellow oriole, the unnamed magpies, the noisy mynahs, the cheeky treeshrews1 and their antics.
I took it all in.
Knowing that I will miss this home surrounded by trees, feathered friends, and the occasional Maggie or is it Mr Monitor (lizard).
I love our home here. It’s our haven, our sanctuary. Yet—we choose to leave. To set up a new one with unknowns.
How will our new home in Portugal be?
Over the two years of the pandemic, in an almost similar situation, as I’m now in—isolated, quiet, I drew (literally) inspiration from what’s outside my window. And I found solace in quietly observing my surrounding.
Here are some of my drawings.2
View from the window
This artwork was inspired by a plant which sprang up from what I thought, was a barren plant pot outside my window. I didn’t seed it, I didn’t water it, I did nothing. It grew. I noticed that the plant has one stem higher than the rest. It seemed to be reaching above a partition that is shading the rest of the stems. It seemed to be reaching for the sun. That one stem has a beautiful flower. The words “rise above” came, and I found them to be encouraging. To rise above our circumstances, reach for the light, trusting that in due time, we will thrive and bloom.
I continue to draw from my home surroundings even after the total lockdown has eased.3
Saying goodbyes and até para o ano (see you next year in Portuguese)
“What is the hardest thing in leaving?” a friend asked.
“My church small group. My community,” I answered.
Organically, I have no more direct blood family as I’m an only child with both biological parents (and a stepfather) passed on due to cancer. A lady once carelessly remarked in a pity-you tone, “Oh, you’re an orphan.” Of which, I laughed and said, together with my husband and daughter, my bigger spiritual family in Christ now forms a stronger and thicker bond than a blood family. They are the ones who are there. And they are the ones who showed me how does loving one another looks like.
We will take this legacy lesson to wherever we go, Portugal, in this case. By God’s grace and blessing, nurture the existing community, and also build another community there—one person at a time.
Monday, June 13, 1:55 pm. Day five of COVID
My temperature is 37 Celsius. The fever is coming down. The army has won. But, the remnants of tiredness are telling me, I still need to rest up.
Ollie came for a visit. It’s usually solo now. Not a pair. Let alone, with the glorious sextet who performed their one-moment only gig, and never to return again. I’m grateful I captured the memory through art.
Wednesday, June 15, 10:00 am. Day seven of COVID
Technically, the seventh day is the last day of self-isolation. My Rapid Antigen Test showed COVID positive, though the line is very faint. Apparently, some people will still show COVID positive for up to three months, but they are no longer contagious. I’ll keep away from the human society for another three days, just to be sure. Anyway, I’m still mostly feeling tired. At the time of writing this, I have zero new drawings. Will you be getting a new drawing in HopeMail for this issue? 🤷🏻♀️
Update June 16: Sorry, there’ll be no new drawings. I’m still tired and I’m writing this issue in between the times when I have more energy. The upside is that there should be two new drawings for the next HopeMail.
Leaving, missing, anticipating
I’ve been mulling a lot over this big move to Portugal.
As much as I’ve honed the pitch to explain to people, and to myself, why I am doing this, the explanations felt adequately justifiable yet inadequate.
How could I justify—leaving?
Leaving means I’m giving up something I hold dear.
I can list hundreds of them here. And I’m sure some of you who would never imagine leaving your home, your community, and your safety net, could list.
“It’s all good here.”
“Why can’t you just go for a holiday?” (“Like a normal person, you two crazies” might be the unspoken thoughts.)
“What about this?”
“What about that?”
“It’s not even for economic reasons.”
But there deep in my gut, I just knew and knew that if out of fear-of-everything-unknown, I/we don’t take this opportunity, we might be haunted with these two words until our death beds—what if?
Leaving—doesn’t mean we are leaving for something better. We are leaving for something different.
And we are anticipating the possibilities of many wondrous things, while dropping the naivety of a problems-free paradise.
Because many things in life aren’t guaranteed.
I’ve given up that delusional entitlement years ago.
So for the both of us, as long as our compass is set to God’s—we’ll set sail, all nerves and excitement, anticipating in confidence that though many things will be different, our God is the same, today and in the future, He will be our stability.
All those beautiful, Hallelujah words are to say…we are scared! But we are doing this anyway. And the only non-crazy anchor we can hold on to is our faith in God.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~ H. Jackson Brown Jr.
In short? Take a chance.
If you’d like to receive my next newsletter, c’mon in
That’s all for now, folks. Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment or ask questions. Your next issue of HopeMail on July 1st, 2022 will be coming from Portugal! 😱
PS Coming soon in September 2022! There will be an exciting membership plan that brings both my writing and art together. It’s going to be packed to the overflow with value for you, starting from a low subscription fee. Will share more details soon.
Here’s your Nat Geo time. Treeshrews are not to be confused with squirrels, though they look quite similar. 1) Treeshrews has a longer, pointed snout. 2) Treeshrews are mainly predators! Feeding on insects and small animals, and occasionally, fallen fruits.
My drawings are available as fine art prints, and original drawings (for original drawings, I mail them personally. Please order the original drawings before June 23 2022 when I’m still in Malaysia and can mail them to you, as I won’t be bringing them to Portugal ). Coming up in my shop: mini fine art prints with wooden oak stands. Please email me if you have questions. Here’s my shop.
The pandemic lockdown has heightened my ability to be comfortable with stillness. Many ordinary things become fascinating when we are present in the moment. Drawing, painting, and sketching allows me to slow down and pay attention to my surrounding. I love it.