Thanks to Tiana, Raffles City

Thanks to Cyndi Poh for sending this in a few days ago. It’s wonderful when we take notice of kind service staff and appreciate them. Phek Suan is writing in to Raffles City.
Let’s celebrate more of what we want to see. :)
It encourages people to keep shining.

And research shows that gratitude and appreciation helps us be happier.
I wanna give a shout out to Tiana, the concierge at Raffles City Shopping Center, she really made my friend’s day.

My friend Phek Suan and I were having coffee at Cedele this afternoon and left her shopping behind after we left Cedele. When she called Cedele, no one saw her shopping bag. She then called the concierge to see if they could help search for the bag, perhaps she might have accidentally left it at the ladies. Tiana and her colleagues were very kind and had indeed gone to check at the ladies and even called back Cedele to check with them. Tiana left 2 numbers to my friend to check back in case she needed more info etc. Tiana later managed to locate my friend’s shopping bag (at Cedele!!) and called my friend to inform her about it. Throughout the incident, Tiana had been kind and nice to my friend, professional and empathetic (and has a sense of humor too, according to my friend :) )

Remembering the Heart of Medicine*

I deeply appreciate doctors and nurses who have been very kind and gone out of the way to help those I know and myself.

Some time ago, I brought an injured migrant worker to Alexandra Hospital and witnessed extraordinary care from the physician who attended to him. I sent Mr Foo Hee Jug, the CEO of the hospital a thank you note, and a book (Kitchen Table Wisdom By Dr Rachel Remen) to share with the staff.  He responded positively and had shared my letter with his staff.

Another doctor accompanied my father to another specialists’ clinic just to make sure he was fine.

At the same time, my family and I have also experienced challenges with the medical system.

A few years ago, a doctor told my mother,“Your brother is wiping out the blood from the blood bank! And the nurses are being overworked!”  My mum’s brother died. And what made the pain worse for her was the lack of humanity she had experienced through the way the doctor had communicated with her.

When my grandma had a heart attack, my mum was asking the doctor some questions.  He exclaimed to her: “Why are you fretting?!” 

Once when I visited my mum in hospital, her doctor didn’t even look me in the eye. I was the only other person in the room.

Somewhere along the way, I think some in healthcare get disconnected from the heart of medicine, which is healing. Healing is not just physical. We experience healing when someone makes a heart-to-heart connection with us.

Yet this means those in healthcare also need healing and compassion themselves.  I can empathise with how difficult it may be to be kind when they are stressed and overworked.

The role of leaders in healthcare is very important. While serving patients, they also need to look at the wellbeing of their staff – which will ultimately affect patients.

It’s not easy but we need to find a way. Because the cost is too high when those who are healers hurt us instead. We are already in a vulnerable state when we are not well; we need extra care at those times.
This has inspired me to compile some resources for the medical profession. Please share this post with anyone in healthcare.

Events in the US

The Healer’s Art and Power of Nursing Faculty Development Training.

Integrity in Health Care: The Courage to Lead in a Changing Landscape 

Movies /Videos

Soul Biographies series on Healthcare Transformation

Empathy: The Human Connection to Patient Care 

Video of the late Dr Richard Teo speaking of how his cancer has changed his view on success and happiness. It’s rare for us to here of such real life testimonies in Singapore. Please watch. Then connect to the resources and thoughts I’ve shared on using death awareness to live well.

Dr Rachel Naomi Remen speaking to women doctors

Dr Rachel Naomi Remen’s campaign to “rediscover the practice of medicine as a spiritual endeavor”. – 7 minutes.

Dr Rachel Naomi Remen on Generous Listening in healthcare

Listen to a podcast of a patient and a special doctor. 

Radio Show with Dr Rachel Naomi Remen

Dr Marty Makary’s trailer on his book “Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care”

8 films Medical Students Should See

The Cinema in the Teaching of Ethics: Palliative Care and Bioethics


The Heart Of Medicine – physician-only wellbeing site

Dr Rachel Naomi Remen is both a physician and patient who has Crohn’s disease.

The Institute for the Study of Health and Illness provides “education and support programs for health professionals who practice a medicine of service, human connection and compassionate healing”.

Commonweal is a nonprofit health and environmental research. Check out their programme, “Health Care Without Harm”

Center for Courage and Renewal has a special healthcare programme.

Whole Health Medicine Institute has a physician training programme.

University of Minnesota: Centre for Spirituality & Healing

Sustaining Compassion in Health Care

Key in “doctors” into the search engine of for various articles.

Key in “healthcare” into the search engine of  for various articles and audio recordings.

Appreciative Medicine by Dr Tel Franklin

Benefits of Labyrinths in Healthcare Settings. See my interview with a labyrinth facilitator in Singapore.

Poems by Doctors and Nurses


Empathy, the Real Measure of a Doctor by Singapore-based Dr Jeremy Lim

A Vision to Heal Healthcare by Dr Lissa Rankin

Blog by Paul Levy, former CEO of a Boston Hospital on patient-driven care (many links)

Articles by Theresa Brown, RN and author of “Critical Care: A New Nurse Faces Death, Life, and Everything in Between”


Healers on Healing by Richard Carlson, Benjamin Shield, Bruce Joy

Mind Over Medicine by Dr Lissa Rankin

Humanizing Health Care – Creating Cultures of Compassion in Health Care with Nonviolent Communication
by Melanie Sears, RN, MBA

Kitchen Table Wisdom – Stories that Heal by Dr Rachel Naomi Remen –

The Wheel of Life by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross – Memoir of an expert in death and dying. The book has examples of how she transformed healthcare systems through how much dignity and compassion she showed patients.

Love, Medicine and Miracles – Lessons learned about self-healing from a surgeon’s experience with exceptional patients by Dr Bernie S. Siegel

Deep Medicine – Harnessing the source of your healing Power by Dr William B.Stewart

Scrubs: The Nurses’ Guide to Good Living


Code Happy App for Nurses

My hope is also that the medical system is better integrated with alternative healthcare systems. There’s alot that natural and holistic methods of healing can do. Cooperation between the allopathic and alternative healthcare systems would benefit patients alot.

If I can be of support to help healthcare be more healing for patients, as well as healthcare staff,  please contact me at vadivu[at] It’s an issue close to my heart. I am looking for kindred spirits to connect with on this issue.

*”The title of this post is borrowed from an online community Dr Rachel Naomi Remen has started for doctors.

Groundhog Day

In my recent interview with Matthieu Ricard in Singapore, I asked him what some of his favourite movies were. He said he likes movies that “give hope in human nature” and gave two examples. One was Groundhog Day – one of my favourite movies too.

So I watched it again, after some years, and appreciated it even more. (This post has spoilers so please come back if you’d prefer to watch the movie first.)

Scrooge-like Phil is made to re-live the same day over and over again. It’s a call for him to transform. And he does, first negatively. Initially he breaks all the rules and takes the hedonistic route, since he only has one day to live. Then he tries to court his producer but more as a conquest.  Then an encounter with death starts to transform him. He learns to love more and more people…and breaks through.

As Ricard said,  Phil’s way “fails, fails, fails until compassion comes in.”


The links I share below have many enlightening thoughts on the movie. I would just add:

  • One of the most precious messages of the film that I take away is that life lessons present themselves to us again and again and trigger pain until we learn them. There’s no point changing jobs or a relationship that isn’t working if you don’t change.
  • Phil’s breakthrough comes only when his love becomes much more expansive and includes many others, beyond trying to win the love of one woman.
  • People change, even if sometimes the change is initially tiny and imperceptible. If you believe in your own power to change, you’ll find it easier to believe in other’s.
  • If you had a day/month/year to live, how would you spend it? Phil learns to love people, a town he hated, himself and his work. He learns new skills that add beauty to the world. Each encounter with someone becomes rich and meaningful.
  • He is transformed by the death of the old man. Will you let your own impending death or those of people around you transform you? For most of the past two years I’ve been living as if it’s my last year to live and I would recommend this to most people. More on death. 

I recently read “Wheel of Life” by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross who was the world’s eminent expert on death and dying. Some of the key messages she shared in the book were:

” The sole purpose of life is growth.” 

“When you learn your lessons, the pain goes away.”

“Every one of the thousand of patients I spoke to about their near-death experiences recalled going into the light and being asked, “How much love have you been able to give and receive? How much service have your rendered?”

This movie captures these very lessons powerfully.

The following links provide excellent, deeply reflective observations and questions on the film. I’ve pulled out some extracts from each of them.

“The first thing that most of us do when we realize we are stuck is to look to make changes in our outer lives. This might mean changing jobs or leaving a relationship or making a grand new year’s resolution to change the way we look. Such changes rarely have the desired effect because we are changing the wrong things.

A new job, a new car or a new look might bring a fleeting send of happiness but it soon disappears. To bring about genuine change we need to change the way we see ourselves and the world, we need to change our inner lives and escape our conditioning….

When you accept you are stuck, and accept that only you can change your life, you start to move on and break out of your rut. Like Phil, you accept that your old self and your old beliefs are no longer working; and you stop blaming others and begin to change yourself instead. This is truly transformative.”

Groundhog Day: A Values and Vision Guide by Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat

“If your spiritual task was to work on diminishing your egocentricity, where would you begin? What tasks do you believe you’re here to accomplish? What character flaws would you like to work on?”

“What have you learned about the shadow side of your personality in love relationships? What flaws in yourself have you come to accept?”

Groundhog Day – Breakthrough to the true self by Ken Sanes

“Like many of the heroes of fiction, he can only escape his exile from himself by being exiled in a situation not of his choosing.”

Seeing the shadow by Dairyu Michael Wenger Sensei (For Buddhist readers)

Why not screen the movie for friends, at work or other communities you belong to and have a discussion after? Share this post. The above links provide excellent possible discussion points.  After your screening, do post any comments you have in this post or on the facebook page.

(Please note that a licence is needed to screen movies outside your home in Singapore. Contact the Motion Picture Licencing Company (Singapore) Pte. Ltd.  )

Thank you to Matthieu Ricard for sharing this gem with us. Let us make best use of it.

PS: Punxsutawney was the town that Phil wanted to leave yet finally ended up staying there – not because it had changed but because he had changed himself. It reminds me of my relationship with Singapore…. 

Related: More Inspiring Movies


Cooking with Love

I was in Kuala Lumpur a few months ago, being trained to become a facilitator for The Transformation Game, a board game focusing on self development. There were six of us and the training was held in an apartment. The organisers had kindly arranged for our meals to be catered in.

I didn’t really expect what we got. It tasted like gourmet food. And each day I saw Ong Beng Chung, one of the owners of the restaurant come in personally, plate the food, lovingly top them with garnishing and walk out quietly while we were in training.

Beng Chung lovingly preparing our food

I also learned that he hadn’t created vegan food before but had taken on the challenge of doing it for me.

These hand-written notes from Beng Chung about our food were another way in which we experienced his care and warmth.

I was intrigued. Who was this man who would drive a long distance to cater food for six people with so much care?

So when we visited his restaurant, Zest Cafe, at Bangsar, we had a little chat.

Beng Chung had been in the corporate sector for 19 years before starting this restaurant venture. Four to five years of deep personal transformation planted seeds for Beng Chung’s professional transformation.  I enjoyed witnessing how the inner work he had done was manifested at the restaurant. I witnessed care, appreciation, authentic connection, humour, a real sense of joy in creating a space for people to connect and grow in.

Here are some highlights from our chat….

Food as a connector

I love to entertain people at my house so much so that my friends call my house a “coffeeshop”.  I find it very joyful to prepare food…I like it when people come, eat and talk together when we’re stressed out at work.

His vision for what he would like the restaurant to be…

~ I would like it to be a “social business”. A social business is where the investors themselves don’t just enrich themselves financially. They use wealth to enrich others, first their staff then the neighbourhood….for example, we buy our staff rice…

~ I want to make this a place where people can pursue their hobbies. I am trying to work with a photographer friend on how I can hold a photo-contest for example.

~ We serve nutritious food as much as possible.

Turning points

I was in sales, in the corporate sector for 19 years. Four years ago, the thought started that I can do more… something that is more related to touching humans. So I initially thought of running a retirement home. This was the time when my mum got into a stroke. But I took no action for three years. Then we thought of doing something all of us liked but then it took me another two years.

So I didn’t have a  sudden transformation. It was gradual…I moved away from the limitations I had set for myself. Many things happened in 2005. My mum had a stroke. I was in my late thirties and knew something needed to be done but did not know what….Now I see alot of possibilities.

About the day he was signing the tenancy agreement for the restaurant

I remember the day when I went to sign the contract…I still had fear…then I did the Ho’oponopono …I did it all the way from my office. Then my mood changed. I was signing with joy! I only realised the change after the incident happened on my way back to the office..

(Note: Ho’oponopono is a Hawaiian practice marked by four phrases- “I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”)

What he wants customers to feel when they leave

Refreshed. Quite a lot of my customers come from the office and I see them rushing through. I tell them, “Don’t rush. enjoy your meal…”

Having been in the corporate sector for almost 20 years, Beng Chung's "Don't rush. Enjoy your meal" to rushing customers seems especially heartfelt.

On my observation that he seems to love people and that the food is secondary

In marketing, there is a word called “touchpoint” which is where a business connects with the customer. To me food is another touchpoint in my interaction with people.


I noticed Beng Chung sit next to children and speak playfully to them. He carried one. A few customers spoke to him when they were leaving. He noticed I was really hungry so got me some bread before the food arrived. I felt like I was in someone’s house, instead of a restaurant.

He said, “When people go to your house, you entertain your guests. I don’t call them “customers”. I call them guests.”

Beng Chung offered extraordinary service…there was a sense of intimacy, authenticity and a kind of heartful and soulful offering that honoured us as important and worthy of being cared for so well.

Beng Chung found his touchpoint in food. What’s yours? What could you create with love and authenticity?

Thanks for Serving Me!

I like to receive positive feedback when I have done a good job. If you do too, can we give to others what we want ourselves?

Did a waiter/someone in the service line serve you well? Why not fill out a feedback form with some positive feedback and spread some happiness? Or drop a quick note to the company? There’s certainly a time to point out poor service constructively but how could we shift more attention to what we want more of?

Father Bruno Saint Girons and I filled out the above feedback form together at a cafe. He said Alex, the waiter,  gave him a big smile after reading the feedback. :) I asked him about gratitude in the Catholic faith and he said “Eucharist” which is the word they use for the mass means “thanksgiving” in Greek. He encourages people to give thanks in their prayers. What does your faith say about gratitude and how do you practise it everyday?

We don’t have to die to leave our legacy. We leave it everyday in many ways, which impact others. What is your legacy when you leave a place?