What I've gotten from baking burger buns

: on opting out, saying no, plus a funny comic and photos of my making burger buns adventure

HopeMail #115 | HopeMail is a newsletter about life lessons I’ve learnt or reflected upon recently. Plus my drawing, the occasional comic and poem. If a friend shared this with you, and you'd like to subscribe, c'mon in.

Hi there,

In my last issue of HopeMail, I asked this:

Thank you to those of you who showed support by taking action and responding to my previous issue with a heart (like) button. To show that someone is there on the other side of the screen. It meant something to me and it has encouraged me. Thank you!

Onward to this week’s issue.

One lazy Sunday morning after a leisurely breakfast; I decided to do it—bake homemade burger buns for a pork burger lunch. I mean, how hard could it be? I have been baking our own no-knead bread (like the picture below) for a year now. 

It’s kinda the same, right? I have organic flour in the pantry. I have the recipe. I have been obviously buoyed by a good night of sleep. [And hence—in a state of delirium]. To think that making burger buns at home does not constitute work. Look at how happy the lady looked in the video, baking burger buns for her family! 

Of course, if you know me, you would have detected right off the bat, the lacing of sarcasm in what I’ve just written there. 

Because—I didn’t look like that happy lady in that video. Oh, it started out well. As I smugly laid the required ingredients neatly like how they do. And oh, how hard could it be to knead by hand, all the more authentic, right? (I don’t have an electric mixer). So, I followed the recipe and the steps, to the t. 

The trouble is—the recipe has some unspoken steps.

It didn’t mention how gooey the dough will be, as they threatened to never leave your fingers. It didn’t mention how rebellious the dough will be, as they refused to look like the docile and neat looking ball of dough that lady was kneading. It didn’t mention how flour will get all over the counter and suddenly, it’s snowing in Malaysia. It didn’t mention the gooey dough getting stuck in your washing sink, and congratulations, you have more washing up to do now. On a Sunday.

I could have bought the burger buns, a good one, for RM7 (USD1.69) for three buns. And be comfortably dangling my legs off the couch, reading a book, wearing my Sunday pants, enjoying my once a week, make-no-plans, do-almost-nothing Sunday. No. I decided to be that lady in the recipe video. 

Then, while taming the dough, if you know me, of course, I got philosophical, and started thinking how this burger bun recipe is kinda like the self-help stuff and even well-meaning bits of advice, applied to real life. It’s never a cookie-cutter deal. Because—life is hardly prescriptive. 

I had to adapt to what I had in my hands to manage at that time; very sticky and gooey dough which refused to be kneaded. Nor rise and double in size in the 30 minutes the recipe said it will. 

And as with life, it’s kinda the same. Yes, you can have all the recipes and information, but only you, with your life, your circumstance, your season, your background, your worldview; only you can navigate, tweak, adapt, and respond to the different twists and turns in life when it happens at that time. The temperature will vary. The type of dough used will vary. The rising time will vary. The formula that worked for others might need tweaking for you or it might not work for you. On that note, I need to remember this same principle too, if I ever dish out well-meaning advice to others. 

By the way, here are some photos from my making burger buns adventure.

So—what else have I learnt from my baking adventure? 

I choose not to make my own burger buns. 😂

Though it’s cheaper (even with organic flour), making burger buns goes to the list of things I don’t want to expend my energy on, for now. It could be fulfilling for some. Kneading dough is therapeutic, someone once told me. But it’s not to me. So, nope, it’s something I don’t want to use part of my 24 hours for.

This is a practice I've been applying in my life for the past two years. To intentionally consider what are the things [within my control] I allow to add to my to-do list.

To make space for priorities (rest and buffer space included), I’m curating consumption and interaction on things like pushed content on social media, speculative articles, TV series, and one too many group chats. 

These things seemed trivial, but they have the locust potential of eating an hour or more of daily time, headspace not counting. 

To Clubhouse or not to Clubhouse, that is the question.

Take for example, when Clubhouse (an exclusive, invitation-only social media app where users can have conversations and discussions in voice chat rooms)) was at its *hyped peak, and some people are clamouring for an invitation to join—a friend texted me with an invitation. 

*demonstration of the said hyped peak.

Elon Musk and Clubhouse.

Clubhouse invites on eBay.

I texted her back with my response and thought process:


Sorry for the pause. Was seriously thinking it through.

At first, I was like yeah! Are you kidding me? This is so cool! I’m in! Then I found out about the data they collect. And the deal-breaker is, it needs access to my contacts list. I don’t want that. 

But still, I had FOMO (fear of missing out). 

In case, I missed out on something. And I’ll be the uncool fool looking in from the outside.

However, I looked at my current life priorities, and I wondered, where could I carve time out, and push away the things I wanna and need to do, to make time for the conversations in the chat rooms. Yes, even if it’s so enticing to hear from Bill Gates and the likes. 

How would Clubhouse fit into my life? 

The answer is, it doesn’t, for now. So I’ll take the risk of missing out and the risk of potential regret. Because I know the things I want: privacy and guarding my time and space. 

Kick me in the future and laugh at me for rejecting this elitist invitation. And thank you for extending this exclusive invitation to ol’ me.” 

And that’s my story of opting out. 

Choices are plentiful and come easily for the majority of us. But they can either be opportunities or distractions. If you have the liberty to choose, choose wisely. 

🔗 You might find this helpful—templates to help you say no

What else I’m currently working on?

After sending this issue of HopeMail to you, I’ll resume preparing one of the three artworks for a competition. 

I read this piece of wisdom from an established writer and artist—rejection is the norm, not the exception. Constantly reminding myself that I can only control what I can do, which is to go forth, create and share my work. I can’t guarantee the outcome. Still. It’s not easy. At times, I’d get very discouraged. Then, I’d need to remember my why, and move forward.

Leaving you with my regular prayer for keeping my heart in check. Resource from the 24-7 Prayer International | Lectio 365

God, help me to hold the things I make lightly, to release very creative thing I do back into your hands. May the words I speak and write in the coming day bring life, and may they convey your goodness to the world. Amen.

👋🏻 See ya in the next issue of HopeMail.


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I’m a writer and an artist on a mission to create art that encourages and inspires people towards a kinder, gentler, happier, compassionate world. 

My artwork is often inspired by my reflections on life. I love drawing the traditional way and my line illustrations are hand-drawn with fine liner pens on paper. Sometimes, my poem and prose accompany the artwork.

Bring my art home.

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