Friends, Love, Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] When You’re In Love With Your Best Friend – Tan Lili

Do you jump headfirst into a relationship or do you take time to build your friendship first? Tan Lili opts for the latter, but she reckons it shouldn’t matter either way.

As a writer and a reader, one of my biggest pet peeves is presumptuous writing. Very rarely do articles like “10 Signs She’s Wifey Material”, “30 Things You MUST Do By 30” and “Why You Should NEVER Date An Ex” paint an objective picture as they tend to be self-indulgent and filled with one-sided drivel. It’s one thing to motivate readers to better their lives, but quite another to unnecessarily plant a seed of doubt in their minds – and those articles have an inclination to veer towards the latter.

The most befuddling part to me, though, is that they often go viral and are well-received by majority of their readers.

ANYWAY.

A friend recently showed me one such article. It listed down 10 reasons why it’s a terrible idea to marry your best friend. One of the reasons: You’d likely just be settling for a safe option, secure in the assurance that he would never let you down. (It was written by a relationship counsellor, mind you.) And for reasons I would probably never be able to comprehend, my friend actually agreed with everything the writer said.

“Do you think you settled down too early?” she began. “When things get too comfortable between two lovers, the passion will fade and, eventually, all that’s left is friendship. And hey, weren’t you and Terry friends for nearly two years before you got together? Do you think that makes you guys even more susceptible to falling back into old patterns and seeing each other as just friends?”

To my friend’s defense, her intentions were non-malicious because she’s always been an inquisitive character. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly miffed by her line of questioning.

Because what’s wrong with taking time to invest in the friendship first? Call me old-fashioned, but for me, I’d rather have that rock-solid foundation upon which you build your relationship. As Vanessa very sagely added last night, the alternative would be to dive headfirst into the fiery romance then work on the friendship later – but when you take away the passion, what’s left?

In the same vein, I chanced upon a Reddit thread about a guy who went around the world to interview couples about love, and one of the biggest takeaways he gained was this: that the most madly-in-love long-term relationships are those built on friendship.

material world_best friend love

My boyfriend and I did start out as platonic friends, but somewhere along our friendship, the line blurred. Granted, it took us nearly two years of mindfuckery to decide that our feelings are mutual, but it was also during those two years that we got to know and genuinely like each other as buddies. And that – realising that he’s your perfect partner – is the best thing about falling in love with your best friend. Throw in romance and passion and, yes, definitely sex, it becomes a whole new level of amazing.

Of course, the world is not black and white. I know of so many friends who were lovers first before they became friends, and they sure aren’t any less committed to each other than any other couple who started out otherwise. When there are so many variables involved – your personality, your beliefs, your present psyche – what works for one couple may not work for another. My personal preferences may change in the future, but for now, I honestly do not see anything wrong with being in love with my best friend.

I suppose that’s what makes love so beautiful, isn’t it? There’s no one mould into which every couple fits; the way you start your relationship is irrelevant because, to quote Neil Gaiman, sometimes when you fall, you fly.

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. 

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Beauty & Shopping, Branded Content, Contests, Skincare

[Material World x For Beloved One] Get Drunk On THIS Red Wine – Tan Lili

The new Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly from For Beloved One may not give you a buzz, but it will give you supple, glowing skin the morning after, says Tan Lili.

red wine antioxidant night jelly woman

You’ve probably read about the numerous benefits of drinking red wine (in moderation), thanks to the presence of powerful antioxidants known as polyphenols. In particular, resveratrol has been proven to reduce the risk of heart-related diseases. And when you hear the word “antioxidants”, you know red wine can be somewhat beneficial to the skin.

That’s exactly what Taiwanese beauty brand For Beloved One’s latest skincare product is about. Formulated with red wine polyphenols from France, the Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly is chock-full of antioxidative goodness whose benefits include restoring skin suppleness and elasticity.

IMG_7880Besides the red wine polyphenols, each 50ml jar is packed with several other patented formulas, such as Prodizia Anti-Glycation Patent (cranks up skin metabolism and fights fatigue); Phytessence Kudzu (slows down the breakdown of collagen and elastin); Chronodyn Cell Energizer (defends the skin against environmental irritants in the day, as well as strengthens the skin’s natural ability to repair itself at night); Lactobacillus Ferment (brightens and evens out skin tone); and Vitis vinifera (Grape) Seed Extract (protects the skin from free radical damage). Working together with the red wine polyphenols, the Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly is said to help improve your overall skin conditions.

The CSI That Speeds Up Skin Ageing Process

The science behind this overnight mask is an interesting one. According to For Beloved One’s R&D team, common skin concerns like blemishes, enlarged pores and fine lines are actually the result of the often-neglected Chronic Silent Inflammation (CSI), which is the combined action of oxidation (external) and glycation (internal) of the skin.

While oxidation is a natural process in which the body produces antioxidants to counter a small percentage of free radicals emitted from normal cellular functions, external toxins such as air pollution can sometimes trigger an overproduction of free radicals, which may lead to a whole host of problems, including premature skin ageing. Glycation is also a natural process in which glucose attaches to proteins, causing the skin to be more susceptible to damage and premature ageing.

This is where the Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly steps in. By combining the abovementioned patented formulas, the mask targets the root cause of CSI to slow down the ageing process of the skin while restoring radiance and brightening it.

FullSizeRenderFirst Impressions

As far as first impressions go, the Night Jelly was … fascinating. Barring the taste (for obvious reasons), it looks, feels and even smells like strawberry jam. No, really; go to the For Beloved One section at Sephora and try it out for yourself if you don’t believe me. This is my first time using a For Beloved One product, but I’m guessing the brand is big on never judging a book by its cover.

But since its appearance, texture and scent are comparable to those of my favourite breakfast spread, I didn’t hesitate slathering the product on my face. Yes, apparently I have no fear of allergic reactions. (Don’t try this at home, kids. If you have sensitive or allergy-prone skin, always do a patch when trying out a new product.) Because of its jelly-like texture, the product doesn’t immediately sink into the skin, leaving behind a slight stickiness.

So, The Verdict?

There’s a claim on the packaging that says the Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly is able to “relieve all skin problems overnight”. A pretty bold claim – and one that I have to shoot down, understandably, because my fine lines and enlarged pores didn’t miraculously disappear after seven hours of sleep. Having said that, my skin did look visibly brighter and feel softer and smoother in the morning. Since I started using it a couple of weeks ago, I also noticed my complexion isn’t as tired-looking as before.

With the impressive myriad of skin-lovin’ patented formulas crammed into one jar, I reckon the Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly brings a whole new meaning to the term “nightcap”. Cheers to younger-looking skin!

For Beloved One Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly, $78 per 50ml jar, is available exclusively at Sephora outlets islandwide. For Beloved One worked with Material World for this post to review the Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly. All opinions are the author’s own and have not been vetted by the client. Read our advertising policy here.

3 For Beloved One Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly (worth $78 each) are up for grabs!

 Red Wine Anti-Oxidant Night Jelly medium

Material World has 3 full-sized jars of For Beloved One Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly for our readers. To win one for yourself, simply follow the steps below:

  1. LIKE Material World’s and For Beloved One‘s Facebook Pages.
  2. ANSWER this question in the Comments section below: “Name one of the patented formulas found in the Red Wine Antioxidant Night Jelly.”
  3. SHARE this post with your friends on Facebook and TAG “Material World” and “For Beloved One”. Remember to set your post on Public so we can verify that this step has been completed.

Once you’ve done all 3 steps, drop us an email with your details (Name, Age, NRIC No/Passport No, Email Add) to general@materialworld.com.sg. Closing date: 26 September 2014, Friday.

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Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

6 Surprising Health Benefits of Foot Reflexology

When it comes to pain management, there are two types of people in the world: those who grin and bear it, and those who don’t manage it well at all. And the best place to spot these two camps? At any foot reflexology centre, of course! Tan Lili speaks to two co-founders of recently opened parlours to find out why more and more young people are drawn towards this holistic therapy.

If there’s one guilty pleasure I don’t ever wish to give up, it’s gotta be my almost-weekly visit to a foot reflexology centre. I can’t even remember when or how my obsession with this treatment began, but it’s become one of my favourite ways to decompress – and probably the closest I’ve been to experiencing the delicious tension between pain and pleasure.

For the uninitiated, Chinese practitioners believe that the different nerve-rich areas on the soles of your feet correspond to specific parts of your body, so by applying pressure to targeted points, it stimulates the body’s natural healing ability. This helps rebalance the body’s Qi and promote a sense of wellbeing.

Different parts of the feet are said to correspond to different parts of the body.

Different parts of the feet are said to correspond to different parts of the body.

Interestingly, what was once deemed as an ancient 3000-year-old Chinese practice has recently gained a foothold among the younger crowd as a form of modern holistic therapy. Jumping on the bandwagon are The Good Sole at Quayside Isle, and Feet Haven at Serangoon Garden. “I guess the main reason is due to the proximity of various operators and shops,” says Nicholas Poh, co-founder of The Good Sole. “More shops are opening in shopping malls in Singapore and, naturally, they are able to reach out to a wider audience. Not to mention, it has amazing long-term benefits. I’m one who goes for foot reflexology regularly since I was young, and I absolutely love it.”

Below, Nicholas and Dennis Toh, CEO and co-founder of Feet Haven, tell us more about the different health benefits you can enjoy from foot reflexology:

Boosts blood circulation

The skilful techniques of practitioners are said to improve blood flow and circulation, carrying along oxygen and nutrients to your body’s vital organs to promote organ function and cell growth. An improved blood flow and circulation brings with it a whole host of health benefits, some of which can be found below.

reflexologyReduces pain

An experience backed up by countless studies, pressing certain points on the feet prompts the release of endorphins – a class of neurotransmitters that is often referred to as the body’s natural painkillers.

Alleviates insomnia

Because foot reflexology brings about a relaxed state of mind and relieves stress, it can help improve improve the quality of your sleep in the long run. The Good Sole’s Nicholas used to have insomnia but he swears he’s been sleeping like a baby ever since he got hooked on foot reflexology!

Improves digestive system

The digestive system is a pretty complex one; it involves a whole lot of organs and other systems (nervous and endocrine), which is why all of us experiences digestive problems at many points in our lives. There are several digestive reflexes on the feet that, when pressed, give your digestive system a real workout, relieving common problems like constipation, indigestion, flatulence and bloating.

Kicks up energy levels

If feeling sluggish after lunch is a near-daily struggle, you might want to consider getting a foot rub. Exhaustion and fatigue can be due to low blood sugar levels; by working certain points on the feet, it may help regulate the levels over time. Foot reflexology also stimulates the production of adrenaline to give you an instant perk-me-up.

Enhances memory and concentration

When pressure is applied to the brain reflexes on the feet, it helps facilitates blood circulation and the delivery of nutrients to the brain, resulting in increased mental clarity. In fact, a study conducted in China found that foot reflexology helped enhance the memory of senior patients suffering from dementia.

The Good Sole is located at #01-19 Quayside Isle Sentosa Cove, Tel: 6268 4842; Feet Haven Reflexology is located at #01-01, 136 East Coast Road, and 4A Maju Avenue, Serangoon Gardens.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

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Child's Play, Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] What Is Your LEGO Parenting Style? – Cherie Tseng

Everyone’s favourite childhood toy can actually reveal a lot about your personality, says Material Mom Cherie Tseng. Read more about it and find out the interesting link between how you treat LEGO and your parenting style.

For our anniversary this year, my husband bought me a VW camper van.

Well, not the real thing (I wish!), but the LEGO version of one of my favourite vehicles. That sort of opened the floodgates to my resurgent love (read: mild obsession) of my favourite childhood toy. A single piece of LEGO could be part of my pretend pasta dish, a clutch for my Barbie dolls, a collar tag for my pound puppy, or the flag to my Castle Grayskull. Oh, the versatility!

So, since our anniversary, we have expanded our LEGO stash to some 500%. My two-and-a-half year-old son no longer attempts to eat or stuff small bits up his nose so I had no qualms indulging in my pent-up LEGO cravings at home. Of course, some of that has spilled over to my work since, well, we preach work-life balance. We expanded our LEGO-based training games at my training consultancy, and now I get to actually justify some of my LEGO buying as “work”.

Part of our stable of offerings is profiling programs. Besides the usual ones, we have some less serious but still very illuminating profiling experiences, like our art-jamming based one. More recently, I’ve begun using LEGO as a tool in my pre-hiring process. After all, LEGO, in all its versatility, can reveal more than you think – including your parenting style.

The “read the LEGO instruction book prior to embarking and following steps 1-2-3!” Parent

LEGO style: This is the person who thrives on method and protocol; when she gets a new LEGO set, she has to at least skim through the instruction book, sort out the pieces by colour, type and size, and find a designated space within which to work.

Parenting style: I call this the Disciplined Parent. My homeschooling friend S, an uber mum of four kids, is a classic example. Sure, she has her slack days and it’s not like she is a stickler in the mud, but she is the queen of order and is generally always on top of things. She is the parent who would do research on whatever she needs to know to death and, while kids can sometimes throw her a curve ball, she never stops figuring out new ways to become a better mum. She believes that parenting is a journey and that there has to a system to the inevitable madness, even if she has to invent a new way of doing things by simply learning more and becoming better equipped.

Happy family playing with blocksThe “must sort out all the pieces right from the start … deep breath … let’s start!” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person whose first act after opening a LEGO set – whether it’s a themed set or a creative one – is to separate the pieces at least by colour. Sometimes she would find herself surrounded my many trays to better contain the varied pieces, and she often needs a prescribed (read: kid-free) zone to work through her LEGO because heaven forbid if she loses a piece. She is usually only concerned with the journey and less so with the finished product, often happy to dismantle and store away even a complex build.

Parenting style: This parent has a strong sense of occasion, believing that everything has its place and time. I am fairly familiar with this parent type since, well, my husband is a prime example. He adores our kids and holds them to a fairly high standard. He expects kids to sit still at dinners, stay quiet on flights, and take adult care of the things they own. Clearly, he faces a lot of, ahem, frustration but he is constant in his own behaviour, steady in his interactions with his kids and is often a steadying force for his kids. And more often than not, because he treats his kids with a lot of respect, preferring, for example, talking to rather than talking at; his kids are better for it.

The “let’s free play with the LEGO creative builder box” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who loves making things up as she goes. Even if she starts on a LEGO set, her building process is probably marred with many starts and stops and zero planning. And if there is a missing piece? She’d just make it up as she goes along.

Parenting style: Society probably calls this the hipster parent, and my friend A is a classic example. She has some, but not many, parenting rules. She is adventurous with the kids and often does things that are not the norm, like taking her kids lindy hopping, visiting weird places, or eating at off-the-beaten-path places. She may often seem out-of-sync with modern parenting – from maybe being an anti-vaxxer to letting her kids wear androgynous clothes. She is always fun, quirky, and takes life and parenting as it comes.

legoThe “I hate LEGO” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who simply doesn’t quite get the hoopla about LEGO and would often rather buy less fiddly toys for her kids and herself. Minimal assembly required, thanks.

Parenting style: I call this the Get to the Chase Parent. My friend H is just like that and while she had a great time at the recent LEGO exhibition, The Art of the Brick, she treated it more like a visit to a museum. You could say there is a slight inclination to some measure of Tiger Mummying with this type. Her kids would boast a pretty tight schedule and everything in their lives gleams and sheens and are often the object of some mummy envy. Birthday parties might boast a pretty fancy cake with just the right decorations, at just the right location with always-glamorous people.

The “I am not really much of a LEGO fan but I think LEGO is an awesome educational toy” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person is kind of impassive about LEGO. She finds LEGO a nice-to-have kind of toy and is most glad to buy LEGO sets for others and her own kids since she is mainly sold on the educational value of the toy.

Parenting style: My friend S is one such parent. She has a great sense of responsibility to her kids and has a tendency to always find the best array of programs for them. Her kids attend an array of classes and workshops not because she is a traditional tiger mum but simply because it’s a learning tool that would enrich her kids’ lives. New pedagogies, new water filter, new school, new holiday program, new health thing … she would have her hands in that pie – often at the expense of her own schedule.

The “whatever you make should at least make some sense” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who is happy to free play when the occasion arises, even if she likes following LEGO instruction books better. She has a healthy mix of creative sets and instructional sets, and will usually have many how-to LEGO books to better use her free play LEGO pieces.

Parenting style: I like to call this parent the progressive parent. My BFF and fellow Material Mom Joan is a classic example. She tends to have fewer rules than the norm and is fairly liberal and open in her parenting methods. Having said that, she is a real stickler for the few rules she has and can get disproportionately upset when those rules are flouted. She treats her kids like her friends and sometimes forgets that her child needs top-down parenting but is quick to catch herself and rectify when that happens.

lego 3The “must buy all the LEGO sets in a series type but have starting and finishing issues” Parent

LEGO style: This is a person who loves collecting all the LEGO sets in a given series and might spend copious amounts of time trawling the net searching for hard-to-find sets. She is highly excited to buy or receive a LEGO gift but might find it hard to start a LEGO project or even finish one. Sometimes, when in the mood, she finds herself in a blitz LEGO-making mood. But that burns out after a while.

Parenting style: This is classically me and, as I write this, I have three hard-sourced Harry Potter LEGO sets sitting in the corner waiting for me to find time to get to them. Parents like me find themselves constantly pulled in a million and one directions at any given time and it shows in how they raise their kids. There is a schedule but it’s always fluid. There is a plan but it might and usually change. They are most definitely parents who do not have a carved-in-stone bedtime or a real parenting plan, preferring to learn and adapt as they go. After all, change is the only constant. Right?

Cherie Tseng is mum to two little boys: Quentin, four, and Evan, two. They love superheroes, pizza and going on pretend adventures with mummy and daddy to save the world. She runs a regional training consultancy, co-owns a Singapore-Myanmar business brokerage outfit and is an essential oil enthusiast. In her spare time, she crafts, makes diaper cakes and practices aerial circus arts. Cherie occasionally blogs at The Growing Tree Project

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Material Moms, The Mothership

[Material Moms] All It Takes Is One Mistake … – Joan Leong

Some lessons are learned the hard, painful way. And sometimes, one misstep could alter your life forever. Joan Leong explains, in this week’s Material Moms. 

one mistake

I recently found myself in a secret service-like operation that involved ex-FBI and special ops personnel, to locate and bring to safety a friend who was caught up in substance and physical abuse, whilst they were on holiday.

Donna (name changed to protect privacy) was having an affair with a much younger married man. They abused drugs and he abused her for putting up pictures of them on Facebook – they were supposed to be there for “work”, was their excuse. Her situation came to light after she continued posting pictures of her bashed up face on Facebook, all part of the drug-induced haze. This caused a worldwide frenzy amongst relatives, friends and colleagues.

The extraction was successful; we separated the pair and got her out on the next flight. When we received her at the airport, we were speechless at the condition she was in, even though we were very well aware of what had happened. Looking at her being pushed out in a wheelchair, swollen face, eyes circled by very angry and dark purple bruises, defensive bruises on her forearms, cuts on her knees that can only be caused by being dragged on broken glass on the floor… we were hit (excuse the pun) with the cold realisation that had we not done what we did, she would have died. Possibly from abuse, overdose, dehydration or even being mugged and left in a ditch for dead.

Did I also mention that Donna is in her forties and has two teenaged daughters?

And here’s the kicker: When she was about to be discharged from the hospital, she tried to put the bill on our company account despite us already fronting the cost of the extraction.

Fact or fiction? You decide for yourself. The point of the above account is a very important message that all parents should instill in their child while young.

Disciplining your child may not be fun, but it is so, so necessary.

Disciplining your child may not be fun, but it is so, so necessary.

When I was growing up, my father disciplined me with an iron fist. He told me that my main goal in life was to get a good education. He did not encourage play; watching television was a treat I savoured for an hour over the weekend.

“All it takes is one mistake to ruin your life forever”, he often said.

That being said, I was never one who was particularly fond of authority and rules I did not understand. Ironically, it was a trait I inherited from him too.

During my dad’s younger days, he decided when he wanted to go to school and when he did not want to anymore. He made up his own rules in life, and decided on the various levels of punishment towards the people whom he deemed miscreants (which included setting fire to the front of someone’s house once). Underneath all that, though, was a softie who often brought home strays, much to his mum’s chagrin – especially when she discovered a snake hanging off the windows.

It is with that same blend of personality traits that my dad ruled the family. He was tough as nails on discipline and education. He cultivated my type A personality (although I am nowhere near as perfect as him). He had (and still has) a way of doing things that he feels is the right way and we should just follow suit, so that we save time on trying to figure it out. We even had a dress code.

But he also loved us fiercely. Everything he did, was to make sure that we were comfortably provided for. Despite his crazy youth, he became a successful businessman. He never indulged us with luxury goods, but anything I wanted or needed in life that he felt would be a useful tool in our pursuit for education and self-fulfilment, he provided. He still does, even to this day.

Most importantly, he brought us up with an in-built ethic and moral code. We were not angels; we definitely toed the line and pushed boundaries. But ultimately, we also knew where our limits were. My sisters and I just knew when enough was enough, when taking one step further would make a mistake big enough that would change our lives forever.

I have made various mistakes in life, big or small, and I am lucky that I have been able to recover from them. He taught me to believe that I am the master of my own fate – I am never a victim of circumstance and whatever path I take in life, is my choice. Therefore getting out of trouble was also my own choice.

For that, I am eternally grateful because his discipline, however much I hated it while growing up, has kept me safe thus far.

And it is with this discipline (with some adjustments) that I will bring my daughter up to keep her safe while she trundles through the various adventures along the way.

material-mum-joan-leongJoan Leong is a mummy, reality television producer and photographer. She watches an insane amount of dramas and comedies in her spare time. Her idea of taking a break is undisturbed time in the plane where there is no network access. She gets very excited over handbags as well as the next big gadget. Her life and photographs can be found on www.valska.com.

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Beauty & Shopping, International Fashion, Malls & Boutiques, Singapore Fashion

5 Multi-Label Boutiques To Look Out For – Tan Lili

Up your fashion ante at these multi-label stores – they have brought in a whole lot of international and local labels whose designs range from sophisticated and elegant to quirky and outright zany!

Many of us non-fashiony people may not have heard of three-quarters of the scores of labels – emerging, renowned or cult – stocked at multi-label boutiques, but they have certainly got the style-conscious salivating over them. Here, a look at five relatively new entries in the label-crazed market.

The Label Monster, www.thelabelmonster.com

label monster

From left: MSGM, Hisui, Frame

The newly launched homegrown fashion online store prides itself on stocking hard-to-find international labels, as well as championing emerging designers and innovative streetwear brands. Some of the labels include denim brands BLK DNM and Frame Denim; Silent by Damir Doma from France; MSGM from Italy; and Hisui by Hiroko Ito from Japan, which is available exclusively at The Label Monster.

Kapok at NDC

Local brand Stolen, famous for their signature backless outfits

Local brand Stolen, famous for their signature backless outfits

This multi-label lifestyle store from Hong Kong, renowned for discovering emerging designers, features a well-curated mix of international and local brands. There are already a handful of Singaporean labels here, such as womenswear brand Stolen and social enterprise Saught. Kapok also stocks brands from international labels like Mimo from Denmark, Seventy Eight Percent from Hong Kong, and Sandqvist from France. Kapok at NDC is located at National Design Centre, 111 Middle Road.

The Assembly

Photo taken from The Assembly Facebook page

Photo taken from The Assembly Facebook page

Opened in late-May, this charming multi-label lifestyle store and café looks like the playground for the dapper, (dare I say it) hipster men of Singapore, what with brands like Benjamin Barker, Rooney Chinos, Aark and Bellroy. Apart from the small selection of apparel for the ladies, its industrial-chic décor (think polished concrete floors, brick walls, spotlights and vintage frames) makes The Assembly a must-visit! The Assembly is located at #01-21 The Cathay.

Apres Five, www.apres-five.com

Photo taken from Apres Five Facebook page

Photo taken from Apres Five Facebook page

This local online boutique is founded by two friends – one is the owner of luxury multi-label wedding atelier The Prelude Bridal; the other, the founder of organic and eco-friendly baby clothing brand Be Green Bebe. Apres Five features a selection of emerging and renowned international brands, including James Jeans, Sachin + Babi, Graham & Spencer, and Addison. Most recently, they announced that their showroom will be receiving Fall/Winter 2014 pieces from James Jeans (we hear a maternity style will be one of their highlights) and Sachin + Babin in the next couple of weeks, so keep a lookout for them! Apres Five’s showroom is located at #03-01, 8 Mohamed Sultan Road.

Superspace

Photo taken from Superspace Facebook page

Photo taken from Superspace Facebook page

The cult appeal is strong with this one. From outrageous prints to minimalist designs, Superspace stocks a massive list of cult labels from around the world, making it undoubtedly THE place to spot some of Singapore’s top trendsetters. It’s no surprise, considering who the founders are – Revasseur designer Gilda Su, Evenodd designer Samuel Wong, as well as Bobby Luo and Ritz Lim of The Butter Factory (Ritz also owns Ritz Salon, which was formerly located at Pacific Plaza and now shares the space with Superspace). Some of the other brands you can expect are Mash-Up, Ling Wu, Daniel Palillo, Heidi Lee and Patricia Field. Superspace is located at #02-18 Orchard Gateway.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

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Career, Character & Soul, Health & Fitness, Self-Improvement, Wellbeing

10 Signs You Need A Break – Tan Lili

But if you find yourself agreeing to all 10 of them, Tan Lili reckons you might want to consider going on a year-long sabbatical. 

We may all be busy running the same rat race, but some of us are so hellbent on completing it (haha) that we forget to stop and rehydrate along the neverending journey. Here are 10 telltale signs you need to take a break before it’s too late.

1. You find yourself vacillating between stewing in unbridled rage over non-issues …

Need. To. Strangle.

Need. To. Strangle.

2. … and laughing hysterically for absolutely no reason.

This clicking pen makes the funniest sound!

This clicking pen makes the funniest sound!

3. And heaven forbid last-minute changes to your schedule.

I can't.

I can’t.

4. You live for Beer O’Clock.

Did someone say "beer"!?

Did someone say “beer”!?

5. You’ve forgotten how your best friend looks like.

What she said.

What she said.

6. Instead of counting sheep, you mentally check off your to-do list.

6. Checking off to-do list - check.

6. Checking off to-do list – check.

7. You are seriously considering the feasibility of snorting coffee powder.

Because, why not?

Because, why not?

8. You wish someone could pee on your behalf.

Peeing is so overrated.

Peeing is so overrated.

9. The energy it takes for you to summon up a smile has officially become your way of keeping fit.

Nope.

Nope.

10. Vacation pictures make you want to curl into the foetal position and drown in your own pool of tears.

HAVE MERCY!

HAVE MERCY!

Jokes aside, though, I’m sure you don’t need any reminders about stress and its link to a myriad health problems. Apart from physical illnesses like heart-related diseases and weakened immune system, stress can also lead to mental disorders. “If you don’t end up identifying a method to handle your stress then it eventually can lead to a heightened sense of dysfunction,” says Dr Steve Bressert, author of The Impact of Stress on Psych Central. “This may result in increased anxiety or a sense of depression because you’re not mastering your world.”

Know that taking a break every now and then is a necessity, not a luxury. And I’m not just talking about work; we all need some time away from the hustle and bustle of life to recharge our mind so we can come back and take on the madness with renewed vigour.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

 

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Love In Lines, Relationships

[Love In Lines] When Insecurity Is Not A Bad Thing – Tan Lili

Especially when it comes to matters of the heart, insecurity is definitely not attractive. But Tan Lili wonders, what if we can harness the presence of it for personal growth?

Just the other day, Vanessa and I were talking about the beginning stages of our own relationships, and we noticed a startling similarity between the two of us: We’d enter a relationship expecting it to be terribly short-lived.

But then again, perhaps it’s not that startling a revelation. Insecurities are often heightened at the start of anything new; it’s normal to doubt oneself and each other when you’re both going through experiences together for the first time. But I know how detrimental these feelings of inadequacy can be if left to fester; they create a self-perpetuating cycle (e.g. you interpret his silence as a lack of concern, which perpetuates your preconceived perception), which may sometimes turn into self-fulfilling prophecies (e.g. your insecurity prompts you to cling on to your partner, causing him to pull away). The good news is, people always say these self-doubts would dissipate as the relationship settles.

Michael Fassbender understands me.

Michael Fassbender understands me.

Well, then I’m screwed. Because as Vanessa and I delved deeper into our conversation, I discovered something about myself – that even after more than 10 years in a relationship, I’m still plagued by insecurities every so often. For instance, whenever a beautiful woman walks by, I’d instinctively tense up and expect my boyfriend to wonder what he saw in me in the first place. Now, rationally, I’m aware I’m not hideous and that I do possess some admirable assets. But there’s this tiny voice at the back of my mind that pushes unwelcomed thoughts to the forefront, making me dissect details to find imagined flaws and see problems where none exist.

However, I’m also starting to see the positive in insecurity. Despite my issues, they don’t become self-fulfilling prophecies – and I have no intention of ever turning that around. And one factor that plays a big part in strengthening my resolve is, strangely enough, insecurity.

I remember reading an online series a while ago about this very topic. The author wrote about how the presence of an insecurity shouldn’t have any negative connotations; rather, it’s our reaction to it that makes or breaks the problem. I definitely agree. To me, the presence of mine allows me to be aware of uncertainties, that nothing is set in stone. Instead of turning me into an overly attached girlfriend, that very knowledge not only makes me better appreciate what I have today, but also drives me to constantly improve myself for personal growth.

Not quite there yet, but one day.

Not there yet, but one day.

For that reason, my insecurities are slowly but surely being chipped away over the years. Using the same beautiful-woman example, my irrational fear – that my boyfriend would be attracted to someone else – would eat at me for days in the past. But now, that fear is present but fleeting. Even though I’m well aware that things can change, I’m at least self-assured enough to give myself a little credit and simply enjoy the moment.

I do not know of a single person who feels 100-percent secure about himself. Maybe it’s time we stop berating ourselves for our occasional jabs of self-doubt. As the late psychoanalyst Eric Fromm said, “The task we must set for ourselves is not to feel secure, but to be able to tolerate insecurity.”

Love In Lines is a special under the Relationship section of Material World. The four founders each takes a week in a month to talk about dealing with love from different perspectives. Founder Tan Lili talks about building long-term relationships and the highs and lows of being in one. Stay tuned for more!

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. 

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Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

Habits So Bad, They’re Actually Good For You – Tan Lili

Teetotalers, you may want to reconsider your choices. Don’t quote Tan Lili; this study says it all!

bad habits 2

A 2010 study on the link between alcohol consumption and mortality has resurfaced on the Internet the past couple of weeks. Boy, am I glad for it – and I’m pretty sure some of you would share my sentiment, too!

In a statement that goes against what we were led to believe for a very long time, the findings showed that moderate and even heavy drinkers tend to live longer than those who abstain from alcohol. Here’s a breakdown of the mortality rate of the 1,824 participants aged 55 to 65, over a 20-year period:

Abstainers – 69%
Heavy drinkers – 60%
Moderate drinkers – 41%

These findings have stunned many, even the researchers. One possible explanation for the results is that alcohol is associated with social interactivity, which, in turn, plays a big part in maintaining mental and physical health. But before you break out the bubblies, it’s crucial to note that alcohol has an effect on your brain chemistry, which can lead to a whole host of problems, including dependency. The rule of thumb is to stick to moderate drinking – i.e. no more than three drinks a day. Well, that’s good enough for me!

This study got me curious about other seemingly nasty habits that actually boast certain health benefits. Read on.

Get angry

When channeled appropriately, anger not only results in better decision-making but also keeps your wellbeing in check! By “appropriately”, I mean not lashing out. The trick is to give yourself some time to (A) figure out the trigger; (B) regroup your thoughts; and (C) come up with a course of action. Read this article for more ways to rein in your inner Hulk.

bad habits 3Get (a little) dirty

Mothers, the next time your child gets his hands dirty at the park, STOP FREAKING OUT. A 2012 Finnish study found a link between biodiversity and human health, claiming that immune systems rich in biodiversity – be it because you are constantly surrounded by biodiversity or because of the microbes on your skin and in your stomach – are more resilient and, therefore, at a lower risk of allergic, inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. This is all due to the primary role of our immune system – to detect and distinguish pathogens from harmless, healthy tissue. For the role to function properly, our immune system needs to be exposed to a wide range of organisms early in life. We old folks may have missed that window, but it’s still not too late for our kids.

On the same note, keeping your house overly sanitised means destroying all the nasty and harmless germs, which makes way for more serious strains to invade the environment. In other words, a little messiness is not a bad thing! (I hope you’re reading this, Mum.)

F**k, yeah!

Separate studies found that swearing can provide short-term relief from pain as well as help employees better cope with stress and develop team solidarity. Not suggesting we should start cursing like a sailor, of course – the pain relief was significantly less apparent for those who swear a hell lot. So, as with all indulgences, swear in moderation, my friends.

Sleep in on weekends

My love for my bed has never changed all these years. Turns out, my bed loves me back! Sleeping in on weekends has been found to boost your immune system, improve your memory, reduce stress as well as help you live longer. Interestingly, a recent study also proved that those who wake up to an alarm are three times more likely to be overweight than those who wake up naturally to their body’s internal clock – relying on the former messes up with your sleep schedule, which causes you to eat at irregular times and slow your metabolism.

Drink your kopi

See, I knew Garfield was an excellent role model. Two to three cups of coffee a day can actually help lower the risk of depression by 15% in women, revealed a recent study. Not only that, coffee is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, which may help protect against chronic diseases like Parkinson’s disease, diabetes and cancer. Now, excuse me while I make myself my third cup of coffee for the day.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

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Character & Soul, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Tan Lili

The Day A Taxi Driver Made Me Cry – Tan Lili

After reading this post, Tan Lili promises you would never forget this significant line: “Today you … tomorrow me.” 

today you tomorrow me

At first I thought I was just staying true to my emo roots, then I chalked it up to PMS. But later on I realised, with abrupt clarity, my outburst was a perfectly normal human reaction.

Allow me to start from the beginning. When you run a business, busy is never a bad thing. But alas, I’m no miracle worker. Some days, you feel as if you were trapped in quicksand – the more you struggle, the faster you sink. Yesterday morning was one of those days. Weighed down by a laundry list of things to do, I decided to take a taxi to work so I could get down to business earlier. I got into a Yellow-Top Fiat Croma JTD taxi with a scowl and muttered my destination without even glancing up from my phone. Immediately, I was greeted by a warm and friendly female driver, probably in her 50s. She exclaimed, in Mandarin, “You’re so pretty!” I’d felt anything but, what with my morning grumpiness and the stress-induced frown on my face. But hearing those words, I felt a rush of gratitude towards the auntie because her compliment worked to instantly turn my frown upside down.

Later on she asked about my usual commute to work. When I told her I’d normally take three different buses, she expressed such concern and empathy that I had to assure her thrice that I really do enjoy the bus ride. Soon after we lapsed into a comfortable silence, then she told me to go ahead and sleep if I wanted to. When we arrived at my destination, the fare was $18.50. I had already prepared $17 in my hand but just as I was about to start digging for coins, she grabbed my hand and took the $17. “No, don’t need to give me the coins. Auntie will give you a discount. Here, $15 will do,” she insisted, handing me my $2 note. Flabbergasted, I tried to return her the $2 note, which resulted in a minute of reverse tug-of-war. The auntie won. Right about then, my lips trembled and my vision blurred. I nearly wanted to hug her but I figured she might not take too well to my outpouring of love and gratitude.

After I got off the cab, I slowly made my way up to my office trying to compose myself. I was – and still am, in fact – overwhelmed by the depth of a stranger’s kindness. The auntie owed me nothing, absolutely nothing, yet she unknowingly gave me everything I never realised I needed at the time: strength. Kindness is one of the three strengths that make up humanity (the other two are love and social intelligence); what I had just experienced felt so powerful, it made whatever stress and worries that plagued me before appear trivial. My only regret now is that I wish I’d taken down her taxi’s licence plate number and her name so I could give her a proper thank-you.

today you tomorrow me 3My experience reminded me of a beautiful anecdote Vanessa recently shared with me. It was about how a Mexican family went all out to help a guy whose car broke down in the middle of the road. When the guy tried several times to pass the family some money as a token of appreciation, the father shook his head and replied in broken English: “Today you … tomorrow me.”

It’s kind of sad when you think about it. We are all so used to being selfish, so wrapped up in our own wants and needs and worries that such random acts of kindness are a shock to our system. So often, we forget that it’s the simplest pleasures in life that pave the way to happiness. It’s always the little things, you know?

I hope these two anecdotes would leave a profound mark on you, as they did on me. Go ahead and make someone else’s day – it certainly doesn’t take a lot to be a little kinder and more compassionate.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction.

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Character & Soul, Opinions, Self-Improvement, Tan Lili

Why Are We Romanticising Depression? – Tan Lili

There’s been a lot of coverage on the topic of depression lately. While this spike in interest is great in that it helps raise awareness of the mental disorder, there is another rising trend on social media that is both worrying and maddening. Tan Lili explains.

sad-couple-tumblr-photography

The word depressed has been thrown around rather flippantly in everyday conversation (“Is it Monday already? GAH I’M SO DEPRESSED!”). But even though we know better than to dismiss a person’s unpleasant feelings, there is a need to put it out there that feeling sad is not the same as depression.

First things first, let’s take a quick look at the stats. A World Health Organization (WHO) study in 2012 found that more than 350 million people around the world suffer from depression, which is ranked the leading cause of morbidity in developing nations in the next century. According to a 2010 Singapore National Mental Health Survey, 6.3% of Singaporeans will experience at least one episode of clinical depression in their lifetime.

Before we ask ourselves if we’re part of the 6.3%, we’ve got to understand what depression is and what it isn’t.

Defining Depression

Where symptoms of clinical depression last for at least two weeks and will continue for about six months if left untreated, sadness comes with it a comforting hug that says, “This too shall pass.” We all experience fleeting moments of sadness every day; it’s a perfectly normal human emotion. And while some of those moments may last longer that we’d like, they don’t (A) kill the important neurons in our brain; (B) stop you from enjoying activities you’ve always enjoyed; and, most importantly, (C) they shouldn’t trigger suicidal thoughts.

Depression is a sickness, a disease, a mental disorder that makes the person feel as if a thousand tiny glass shards were being driven into his body, leaving him to bleed while he is awake and aware of  it all – a product of his warped imagination, but a disease all the same. The reason: Depression is neurotoxic; it changes the way your brain prioritises things. The scan of a healthy brain is different from that of a person suffering from clinical depression. As Dr Stephen Ilardi, a US-based clinical research specialising in the treatment of depression, puts in in Psychology Today, “depression is shorthand for a debilitating syndrome – major depressive disorder – that robs people of their energy, their concentration, their memory, their restorative sleep … their ability to love and work and play. The disorder actually lights up the brain’s pain circuitry, inducing a state of suffering far exceeding that of any physical discomfort.”

All that means depression is no more a choice than is being diagnosed with cancer, and which also means telling a friend suffering from depression to “snap out of it” is no more helpful than telling a cancer patient the same. “When those suffering from depression confide their diagnosis to friends and family, they’re often met with relative indifference, born of the assumption that the patient is afflicted with mere sadness – a condition from which they can quickly and easily recover,” says Dr Ilardi.

However, the good news is, as with any medical condition, depression can be managed. Using a combination of strategies – medication, counselling, etc. – the treatment is effective for up to 80% of those suffering from depression, according to WHO.

If you think you or a loved one could be suffering from depression, visit this page for a list of mental health support services in Singapore.

The Problem With Calling A Tragedy “Beautiful”

depression 2

On social media, we see the word depression being used very loosely. Dr Stan Kutcher, a psychiatry expert, told The Atlantic that in today’s digital age, “there is a lack of critical understanding … You see kids self-identifying as having that depression, but they don’t have a depression. They’re upset, or they’re demoralised, or they’re distressed by something.” The strange thing is, this romanticising of depression doesn’t just affect impressionable teens; take a look at Tumblr and Instagram, and you’ll notice many adults glorifying the “beauty” of suffering. Even I – EmoGal84 – do it sometimes, I’m not going to lie.

The problems with romanticising depression are that (A) many are led into believing they are depressed when they aren’t, and (B) it unfairly downplays the gravity of those truly suffering from depression.

The bottom line: Depression is not the same as everyday sadness, nor is it a Like-bait. Let’s stop romanticising depression, please?

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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Body News, Health & Fitness, Wellbeing

When It’s More Than Just A Stomachache – Tan Lili

How do we know if that nagging discomfort is simply a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or something worse? Tan Lili speaks to a gastroenterologist and an urologist to find out more.

This abdominal pain is not a first-world problem, thank you very much.

This abdominal pain is not a first-world problem, thank you very much.

All of us experience abdominal pain many times in our lives, but because stomachache is so common, diagnosing the cause of it can be difficult. At best, it is mild and can be effectively treated by self-medication – which is usually the case; at worst, it could be a sign of something sinister and lead to life-threatening consequences if not managed early.

The most common cause of abdominal pain, according to Dr Lim Lee Guan, Specialist in Gastroenterology & Consultant, Raffles Internal Medicine Centre, is irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Studies showed that the prevalence of IBS in Singapore was 8.6 percent in 2004 – up from 2.3 percent in 1998. But how do we know if the pain is caused by something more serious?

“Abdominal pain may be sometimes be caused by serious conditions, such as acute appendicitis (severe pain in right lower abdomen) and acute cholecystitis (inflammation of gallbladder, usually with pain in right upper abdomen),” says Dr Lim. “In females, abdominal pain may also be caused by gynaecological conditions, such as ectopic pregnancy. These conditions may be life-threatening if they are not managed early. These conditions require specialised treatment in a hospital, and could involve surgery.”

Below, Dr Lim explores the different causes of abdominal pain and their symptoms.

IBS

A condition in which you suffer from abdominal discomfort that’s often accompanied by diarrhea, constipation, or alternating diarrhea and constipation, IBS is the most common cause of abdominal pain in Singapore. Management includes lifestyle and dietary adjustments as well as medical treatment. Some of the former include avoiding stimulants such as caffeine, dairy products and artificial sweeteners; drinking lots of water and avoiding carbonated beverages; and maintaining good physical fitness.

Heartburn

A burning sensation felt around the lower chest area, heartburn is caused by gastric acid refluxing into the oesophagus/food pipe. It can be treated via over-the-counter antacids, which work to quickly neutralise acid and soothe the burn. Lifestyle changes can also be adopted to improve your heartburn symptoms, like eating slowly and avoiding trigger foods such as caffeine.

Ulcers

Stomach and duodenal ulcers are caused by variable factors such as Helicobacter pylori and medications (e.g. NSAIDs), which result in the thinning of the layer of mucus that is supposed to protect your stomach from digestive juices. This, in turn, causes painful sores in the stomach lining or small intestine. Medications are usually prescribed to alleviate the symptom; if the ulcers perforate and bleed, an endoscopic treatment would be required.

Gastroenteritis (stomach flu/food poisoning)

Common symptoms of patients with gastroenteritis include abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea. In severe cases, you can get dehydrated, in which case you may need intravenous hydration. Most acute gastroenteritis cases improve with symptomatic treatment, although in some cases antibiotics may be needed.

Appendicitis

The pain is felt over the lower right part of your abdomen, and it can either come on slowly or manifest as sharp, stabbing pains that worsen with movement. Caused by an inflammation of the appendix, it requires immediate medical attention and surgery to remove said appendix (don’t worry, we can all live without it). If not treated quickly, the inflamed appendix may perforate or burst, which could lead to peritonitis – a potentially fatal inflammation of the abdomen’s lining.

Since the abdomen constitutes the part of the body between the chest and pelvis, you should never rule out urological conditions when experiencing abdominal pain. Here, Dr Fong Yan Kit, Specialist in Urology & Consultant, Raffles Urology Centre, explains two possible causes:

Bladder Infection

It is very common among women – most would have at least one infection in their lifetime. The typical symptoms are lower abdominal pain, associated with painful and frequent urination. Bladder infections are generally not serious and can be treated with antibiotics.

Kidney Stones

Pain caused by obstructing kidney stones is one of the worst pains one could ever experience. It typically starts from the loin then radiates to the groin. The treatment depends on the size and location of the stones. While small stones can usually pass through the urinary tract, larger stones would need to be fragmented through either shock wave or laser therapy.

This list, of course, only serves as a general guide to the more common causes of abdominal pain. Always consult your doctor if your, um, gut tells you your condition requires medical attention.

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets.

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