Adrian Mah, Chief Marketing Officer of Artisan Food Selections
“I think we can all agree 2020 has been pretty crazy. I’m grateful that my friends and family have come through unscathed. And that Singapore as a whole seems to be on top of the pandemic and is working towards handling the fallout as best it can. The lockdown forced everyone to stop business as usual and figure out new ways to live their lives.
For myself, having to hit pause has been a blessing. Being able to just slow down and be present in the moment, watching our son, Zachary, look at the world with new eyes really puts a fresh perspective on things. He just turned one and parenthood is a real trip. I guess you could say it has made me a better person by default. Some of the feelings you experience may include awe, paranoia, joy, exhaustion, gratitude, self-doubt, discovery and pride, among others. And sometimes all at once. But every day it also makes you want to be a better person for your little one. Getting to spend more time with my wife Cherilyn also never gets old!
There’s a Neil Gaiman quote: ‘It has been said that civilisation is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.’ Perhaps I’ve come to the realisation that we can’t take things for granted. All our basic assumptions of the world can get turned upside down almost in an instant. So I’m making sure I don’t put off spending quality time with those important to me.”
Alice Oei, Vice-President of Oei Hong Leong Foundation
“I think it would be disingenuous to say I have grown from the Covid-19 experience. It has humbled me, however, to watch friends and family in the medical field put themselves at risk. I am grateful to them for their roles in controlling the pandemic.
I’ve become a competent sous chef in the kitchen – able to multitask with precision, slice, dice and chop to the executive chef’s (her husband Matthew Song) satisfaction.
During the lockdown, I discovered the pleasures of Netflix. I have never been a fan of watching television. My girlfriends laugh about sleepless nights glued to their Korean drama series and I have never watched a single one – till recently, that is. And I like it. Lots of catching up to do in the K-drama world before I can follow my girlfriends’ avid discussions. And I’ll be watching – for the first time – some classics like Grey’s Anatomy and Friends soon.
Also, a Facebook memory popped up last week; it was a video of a bride thanking her parents during the wedding banquet. Her heartfelt words reminded me how much my own parents had given me and done for me. ‘You often ask if I have enough, when you’ve already given me so much.’ There isn’t much I can do for my parents except to stay out of trouble and be happy. I hope I achieve something that makes them proud.”
Race Wong, Co-Founder and Chief Property Officer of Ohmyhome
“I used to travel very often for work. There were times in the past when I would wake up in a hotel room and take five seconds to figure out where I was. Due to the lockdown, my heart and mind are now more settled knowing that I can focus on what’s in front of me, I have been practising more mindfulness and being really present instead of always being on standby mode to be somewhere else. Just staying put has been a pleasure for me.
When Ohmyhome transitioned to a work from home arrangement, there was a growing lack of a personal touch and sense of togetherness within the team. When projects are conducted virtually, people feel like they are just receiving a task. On top of taking care of their kids, cooking and cleaning, work becomes another mundane task that has to be struck off a checklist. What I learnt was that when these physical barriers were set up between us, we can no longer rely on our familiar models of communication.
As managers and leaders, we have to take the extra step to show more care and concern towards our team members. It is important to recognise that as people are tied to their homes, any disruption in the home can greatly affect a person’s morale, such as when a family member loses their job. The well-being of our staff’s family members is more impactful than ever and we try to acknowledge that. Through this period of crisis, I have grown to be more patient, compassionate and empathetic. I’ve learnt to face each challenge with calm and poise so that I can be a steady beacon for my team.
I am grateful for the good health of my family and teammates from our offices in Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines. I’m currently pregnant and my second child will be due next year. All I wish is for my loved ones, including my new baby, to be safe and sound. I hope that the world can go back to normal and we will be reunited with my sister and nephews based in Hong Kong.”
Rex Tan and Grace Chong-Tan, Co-Founders of Smile Inc. Dental Surgeons
“The pandemic taught us that little things in life can give rise to simple pleasures and we should not take these for granted. For instance, taking time to smell the roses, literally. Sleeping in and chilling without guilt – no need to jump out of bed and into work right away at our desks or phones in the morning.
Taking time to get out of bed has never been a luxury, given our fast pace of life through school, work, business and family as parents. Yet, slowing down was important as we learnt that not only was this much needed and good for our health, it also provided us with a wonderful opportunity to simply relax together as a family. We also spent quality time playing board games, reading, watching movies or simply doing nothing together.
Post-lockdown, we caught up with close friends who we did not have the chance to see for months – we realised how much they mean to us in our lives, and that made the love and friendship forged over the years stronger.”
Jilly Wang, Homemaker
“I am grateful that my family members and the ones we love are all safe from the Covid-19 virus. Our family business is stable and growing, even though in such a situation we are constantly reacting to changes. Despite the gloom, there are many simple pleasures for me and my family. During the Circuit Breaker, we spent more time with the kids. We also communicated more and better understood one another. We did a lot of things at home together that we didn’t used to have time for, like taking care of the pet turtles, cleaning the house, cooking and learning new dishes, and planting herbs and vegetables.
All these made me realise how important family means to us.
I think it is like a detox for life. We used to care a lot about certain issues but now we realise they don’t really matter at all. There are also things we never thought important but now I learnt to appreciate them more.
I hope the pandemic can be controlled really soon, so that I can travel with my children during the school holidays. I also really miss my mum, who is living in Shanghai. After all is said and done, the only thing we wish for is peace and safety.”
Carmen Ow, Director of Clydesbuilt Group
“I’m grateful that my loved ones have been healthy and safe during this whole pandemic. Happiness is in the simplest of things, such as being able to see one another physically and not via text or Zoom. Having a meal out together in smaller groups also necessitated more meaningful conversations and closer interactions, which sometimes can be lost within a large group. I hope that we will all continue to be blessed with good health both physically and mentally.
Every day is a way to start anew and learn from the mistakes that we have made in the past. So hopefully by doing that, I am always learning and trying to be a better version of myself with each day. I recently came across this quote: ‘Trust the wait. Embrace the uncertainty. Enjoy the beauty of becoming. When nothing is certain, anything is possible.’”
Simone Khoo, Homemaker
“I am thoroughly grateful for family and good friends. This pandemic has shown how we rely and think of one another especially during the lockdown.
Simple pleasures of family bonding and having the entire family home for meals is a blessing.
We often take the simple things in life for granted. I hope that the pandemic will come to an end so that life can return to normal – when extended families can reunite and simply enjoy one another’s company. Just being able to hear the banter of my kids and their cousins again would be music to the grandparents’ ears and bring joy to their hearts!
Life is unpredictable and I believe that we should enjoy each precious moment. Be happy, immerse yourself in good company, avoid negative people and don’t let anything bring you down. You are the captain of your soul and master of your fate. Here’s to a better 2021!”
Lars and Serene Sorensen, Private Investors
“Considering the unprecedented nature of the pandemic and the life-threatening virus that has infected more than 38 million people globally, we are definitely grateful that year 2020 has kept us and our loved ones healthy, safe and sound.
Among the simple pleasures of life that we have learnt from this pandemic is definitely family bonding. Keeping our loved ones safe. Reducing our carbon footprint. Appreciating Mother Nature more than ever. To not take anything for granted, from the food we eat, the ground we walk on, the air we breathe, the people we love and the people who love us.
While many feel despondent from this global pandemic, we hope next year will bring comfort to many when a vaccine is ready so that this dreadful virus can be eradicated and life can return to normal.”
Jeffrey and Emily Piak, Managing Director of Rico Engineering Works and Homemaker respectively
“We are grateful that our family is well and safe, amid the mayhem caused by the virus this year. Covid-19 has caused a big change in our lifestyles, especially during the Circuit Breaker when we had to stay home a lot more. The one good thing that came out of this was that it made our family bonds a lot stronger as we had more time to spend with one another. We appreciate friendship and kinship a lot more now.
Everything slowed down during the pandemic; people were spending more time at home and not travelling. This allowed for more opportunities to discover new interests. For example, our whole family picked up cycling and got addicted to it for a while! The adversity was a good test of our adaptability – I am glad we have done well. Our hope is to stay safe, stay healthy and give back to the society, especially with more people needing our help.”